Archive for November 2008

30 November 2008

Key learnings, food comas and holiday shopping

By: Jessica B.

I still am full from Thanksgiving. Is that even possible? Although, I did eat more in 24 hours than I normally do in a week, so that’s probably why I feel like a beached whale. But it’s the holidays, so it’s time to get the elastic waist pants on and relax.

And here are some of the key learnings I experienced this holiday weekend. I do love going home to enjoy the non-city way of life :)
Key Learnings:
  • In Wisconsin, Packer gear and Virginia Slims are frequently seen accessories
  • It’s okay to nap between Thanksgiving dinners when you have more than one in a single day
  • Pushing shoppers to get to the last Gap thermal long sleeve shirt in your size is okay
  • When starving while shopping, it’s acceptable to hit the free Ghiradelli samples more than once (saves money)
  • Booze is a requirement at Thanksgiving. No booze means people are less uninhibited and conversation can be more forced
  • Driving is a lot of fun, especially when you don’t have a car in the city
  • Squirrels are evil
  • My neighborhood is like an episode of Animal Planet. Possums walking down the street and fat squirrels, oh my!
  • Putting cooked food outside overnight is equivalent to putting it in the refrigerator, except animals can move around it
  • Staying with your parents is not like living alone in a bigger apartment. Close the bathroom door when it’s in use and cover yourself up more
  • Whenever I go home, I will never get to relax right away. Within 10 minutes of arriving at home, I always hear “Jess time to do chores, put your shoes on”
Overall, my four-day weekend was a mix of productivity and relaxation. As I mentioned earlier, I have two Thanksgivings in one day. I go visit my grandparents around noon and then have dinner with my dad and stepmom in the evening. Thanks to some pre-holiday overeating and stomach stretching, the second meal wasn’t too bad, but two big meals in one day, is a lot for me to handle. It’s so good but doesn’t feel so good when your stomach is totally overfed.
Fortunately, grandma did not insult me this year. Rather, she said I’m very pretty, which is sweet. Things at my evening Thanksgiving got a little ugly, with the traditional family fighting, which lead to me hiding out upstairs watching a movie with my piece of pie. Some things never change.
The rest of my four-day relaxing weekend was focused on getting my Christmas list all ready for dad (including links to specific items and style numbers, if appropriate) and getting ideas for people on my list this year. I have gift ideas for just about half the people on my list, but I have not found a gift for everyone just yet. 
Of course, my shopping bug from Friday hasn’t deteriorated and with deals like, “buy one, get one 50 percent off,” I’m more than supporting the economy. But I’m ready to stop focusing on me and getting gifts checked off my list. I think once the list is filled in, I need a day off to knock everything out. Once I get started, I hate to stop midstream.
Here’s a picture of the new berry-colored Coach gloves that I bought on Friday. They are super soft and I really love the color. I will be breaking them out this week!

So how was everyone else’s long weekend? I hope everyone travels safe, especially in the Midwest, where we’re supposed to get six inches of snow tonight. Ick.

28 November 2008

Making Black Friday my b*tch

By: Jessica B.

One of the reasons I love shopping is the thrill of the hunt. Using your wits to find what you want and the gratification of having it for yourself (or to give to someone else for Christmas)

And Black Friday is the best example of “the hunt” for me. Thanksgiving weekend is when I list out who I’m buying for, how much I’m spending and gift ideas for everyone on my list. But despite this list, I reserve Black Friday to shop for me before all of my money goes toward others. Of course, if I see a gift for someone at an incredible deal, I will get it, but it’s still about me :)
Every Black Friday, my dad, stepmom and I head to the Kenosha outlet mall, but beforehand, dad and I plan out our shopping attack, like we’re playing a game of Risk. Circulars are tabbed and organized in the order we will visit the stores. 
Because of the economy, we’re scaling back a bit this year, but I surveyed our loot from today and I think we did a pretty good job. I normally don’t have a lot of luck with sale items, but this year, I did okay.
Here are a few highlights from my shopping trip:
  • Best deal: JCrew Factory Store charcoal gray corduroy pants – final price: $13.97 (no alterations needed – amazing)
  • Unexpected find: Puma women’s Roma suede shoes (I have been wanting another pair of these shoes and could not find them anywhere until today)
  • Potential buyers remorse purchase: JCrew argyle socks 
  • Unnecessary indulgence: Coach Factory Store berry lambskin gloves with cashmere lining
  • Most practical purchase: Restoration Hardware Factory Store dish brush and anti-bacterial soap for the bathroom
So after an early morning and plenty of fresh air at the outlet mall, I’m ready for an afternoon laydown before dad and I decide if we’re going to see the new James Bond movie tonight or tomorrow. 
Oh and here is a picture of my parent’s loot. My shopping bags are not represented in this pile but imagine about 3-5 more bags in the front of the stack.
Did anyone else brave the stores this morning? Any big deals to share? 
How was everyone’s Thanksgiving? My recap is coming with this weekend’s key learnings, but I am still full from two major meals in one day.
Reader note: Sorry if yesterday’s early tweet, when I reposted about things I’m grateful for, confused everyone. I should have clarified the repost in my tweet. I just wanted to put it out there because I’m still thankful and grateful for everything on that list so it seemed appropriate. My bad!

25 November 2008

Movie fail: Cult films I’ve never seen

By: Jessica B.
Tagged: Friends, Movies

One of my guy friends quotes movies all the time, and between you and me, I’ve only seen about a handful of the ones he’s talking about. But I would never tell him that. I don’t want to endure the long diatribe of why I need to rent them and how could I have never seen that movie? More trouble than it’s worth, so I laugh and lie to him.

But this got me to thinking about a list in college that I made of “essential movies” (determined by my guy friends) that I needed to see. Yeah from this list, I’ve seen only a handful of them and the “absolute essential” list remains untouched.
Looks like it’s time to update the Netflix queue. So here is my list of movies, including some cult classics, I’ve never seen. 
Movies I’ve never seen (but apparently should):
  • Fight Club
  • Swingers
  • Animal House
  • Lord of the Rings trilogy
  • This is Spinal Tap
  • Fletch (I’ve only seen half)
  • Clerks (again, only seen half)
  • Rocky Horror Picture Show
  • Blade Runner
  • Blues Brothers (being from Chicago, this is a tough one to own up to)
  • Scarface
Feel free to join in on the teasing or let me know what movies you’ve never seen or that you’re afraid to admit to never seeing. There is no judgement here. Take a look at my list!
Well everyone, tomorrow I am off to Union Station to jump on the Amtrak home for the holiday. I hope everyone travels safe and has a very good Thanksgiving. I plan on indulging in the Elegant Farmer apple pie myself.

I’ll be back on Friday with a post about my post-Thanksgiving shopping. More deals, no mercy!

Reader note: Wow, thank you everyone for the comments on yesterday’s dating “cut off” ages. A lot of really interesting and great comments. I also enjoyed the man perspective on this too. I’m glad to know I am not alone in having something like this and I agree with many of you that compatibility matters a lot when picking the person you date, not just age.

24 November 2008

The dating "cut off" age

By: Jessica B.
When I posted last week about my matchmaker FAIL, someone asked if I would really have dated the 38 year old man that I was being set up with. Honestly, I don’t know, but at this point, I look at it with a “why not” attitude. But that comment did get me to think about a “cut off” age for dating.
Age may be just a number, but in dating, everyone has some cut off age or magic number they prefer not to go above. A man’s maturity definitely makes a difference, but I don’t know if I see myself dating a guy over the age of 36, at least right off the bat. Or I don’t know if I could date a guy who is more than two or three years younger than me too. Pride and the rise in “cougars” has something to do with my feelings about dating a younger man, but I’m not opposed to it.
Ironically, when I tried online dating, my personal ad generated a lot of responses from younger guys, actually guys between the ages of 19-21. That definitely didn’t help the “cougar” feeling.
Most of the guys I’ve dated have actually been about one to two years younger than me and the only issue I had with them was maturity. This can be a big dealbreaker. I don’t want a guy that is 29 but acts like he’s 20. No thank you. But I don’t want to date a mature guy who is rounding 40 either. It’s a tough situation. And I’m sure my celeb crushes on some older male celebrities doesn’t help either. 
The cut off age isn’t a make or break rule with guys but it’s moreso something I use for…screening purposes. That and I get tired of older guys asking me how old I was in the early 70s, because the answer is always the same, “I wasn’t born yet.”
So has anyone else dated a much older or younger man? Which do you prefer? How old is too old when dating guys? Or am I the only person who has a cut off dating age?

23 November 2008

Key Learnings, Twilight and holiday lights

By: Jessica B.

Thanksgiving is less than a week away now and I cannot wait to go home, put my comfy pants on for the holiday and let grandma get her annual insult in at the family meal. Happy Thanksgiving to us!

So let’s recap my weekend because it was pretty productive. Trust me, it surprised me too.
Key Learnings:
  • Chicago bloggers are awesome (actually, I already knew that – it’s a fact)
  • Sangria tastes yummy but can give you a serious headache
  • Any bar with beer pong is okay by me! (although I’m better at flip cup)
  • Baked mac and cheese tastes like heaven on a cold night
  • Brunch with awesome blog friends is a great way to start your Sunday
  • Standing in flower beds on Michigan Avenue is acceptable, as long as you don’t kill foliage
  • Sometimes tourists need to learn the “Chicago way” the tough way
  • It’s always good to act like a kid again, within reason
  • Everyone should dedicate at least two hours on a Sunday to lounging on the couch with mindless television
  • Reading books takes a lot of time away reading other things….like magazines, which leads them to make a large stack on your coffee table
Twilight: The Movie (spoiler-free)
So this little movie called Twilight opened on Friday. I think it’s based on a popular book, but I’m not sure. I’m not a big reader :)
Anyhow, the movie has gotten a lot of mixed reviews, but my curiosity was getting the best of me so I had to go check it out, and hopefully avoid screaming teens. In my late 20s, I’m not in the mood for it.
When the movie was finally done, I had one thought. It was only….okay
I knew it wouldn’t be a good as the books or as vivid as my imagination of the characters, but I honestly expected a little more.  Despite the slight deviations from the book storyline, I was a little disappointed. 
The angst was too much as was the hamminess of several scenes, but the one major, overarching issue I had with the movie was the casting of Rosalie and Carlisle. They just did not work for me. But Robert Pattinson is still good looking and Bella is how I envisioned her, so that was good.
My verdict: Read the books before seeing the movie
Lighting up Michigan Avenue
One of my first memories of Chicago was the lights on Michigan Avenue. Just before Thanksgiving, the city celebrates the lighting of one million lights on the Mag Mile to kick off the holiday season. 
We never came down for the lighting, but every year after Christmas, dad and I would come down to shop the post-holiday sales and see the trees lit up. I vividly remember walking down Michigan Avenue looking at all the lights, which were mesmerizing for a kid from Wisconsin. 
I look forward to this every year and now that I live in Chicago, I go every year to watch the city turn on the lights. This year wasn’t as cold, which meant more people piled downtown. I’m a little sensitive to crowds after the Obama rally, but it was still fun, and after some prodding, Liz and I ended up standing in a flower bed on Michigan Avenue to enjoy the parade. No foliage was hurt and we got some awesome pictures. Here’s one:
How was everyone else’s weekend? Let me know what you thought of Twilight too, it sounds like I might have just been too picky :)
Reader note: Thanks everyone for your mascara tips. I need to write them all down and take the list with me to the store! I love hearing what other products people use. I’m also glad to see that I’m not the only Gap holiday ad fanatic or think it’s too early for holiday decorations to be out. But after Friday, game on!