Musing on food and cooking ...

Monday, April 02, 2007

Weekend of Nincompoopery

We all have bad weekends once in a while. Mine normally involve the idiocy and apathy of checkout children at various retailers. But this last weekend, everything went badly.

Everything started off well enough Friday night. I got 75% of the dishes and 50% of my laundry done, made a pot of chicken noodle soup, and went to a series of student-written plays here on campus. After the plays, i came back to eat dinner and realized that I am just souped out. I normally love chicken noodle soup, but I guess I have just had too much. It just sat in my frig all weekend. I will try again to eat it tonight, if it is still good, but I suspect I will be flushing it.

So, I went to bed to the sounds of student partying, which will be a constant now that the weather is nice. Woke up Saturday morning and headed out the door a little before 10, only to be flagged down by my neighbor. "Are you going somewhere?" she asked. "Yes, I actually have plans today." "Can you hold on for a few minutes and take me to the train station?" Umm, well, ok. This isn't the first time this last-minute trip has happened, and I normally don't mind, but I actually did have stuff to get done on Saturday, stuff related to my move and to my mortgage and to my attempts to find a wedding present for my cousin who is getting married one week after I close on the house.

Well, it turns out we both needed to go to the bank, so we did that, and then she walked to the train and I headed out to check out the HOBO store in Waukegan. HOBO stands for HomeOwner's Building Outlet. For those of you from the MA, it's kinda like a Bargain Outlet - part Ocean State Job Lot, part Home Depot, part Building 19. I had never been to the HOBO, but as a new homeowner, I figured I had better check it out and see what was there. Besides, the local advertisement said they had handcarts for $25, which I will need since I am moving most of my stuff by myself. So the HOBO was cool. Lots of stuff, most of it decent quality and cheap. I purchased a handcart and a cushion set for the nice wicker furniture mia madre has passed on to me for my new home.

Then, I headed off to Ace Hardware, where I wanted to get the paint chip booklet for their new "cultural tapestry" line, as featured in a newspaper article. I got there only to be told that despite the article and despite the website information, they didn't have the booklets yet. Come back Tuesday. Um, hell no.

So I headed south to the Home Improvement Show at the Lincolnshire Marriott. It was actually quite small. I was surprised. I wandered through while several unscrupulous contractors attempted to interest me in their services. I did connect with three that seemed good and had info from the Better Business Bureau that they are legititmate and were more interested in my needs than in selling me some $30K project. One designer I talked to told me she had the same problem in her condo as i have in my new house, i.e., a kitchen smaller than a postage stamp. She was actually somewhat excited about the possibilities but basically said that if I can't afford to be knocking out walls and totally reorienting the kitchen right now, there are some things that can be done sooner rather than later.

Now my original idea was to put the kitchen cart in the dining room and put the nucker-wave on the cart, which is ugly but I can't think of anywhere else to put it. But that takes up a lot of space and wastes a bunch more. And to tell the truth, I don't use the nucker-wave much and wouldn't use it at all if I planned ahead better. So, here's what I might do:

First, I can seek out help to get some of those above-the-stove nucker-waves or I can ditch the nucker alltogether. Second, Mia madre is gifting me her portable dishwasher, which she never uses but which also has a beautiful butcher block top. That will provide me with a nice countertop upon which to do meal prep. It can be situated in a little nook in the kitchen area. The garbage can go next to it. And then I can install shelving above the unit. The kitchen designer suggested having the bottom shelves be able to slide back and forth, so I can put my little appliances like the toaster oven and the coffee pot on the shelves and pull them out as I needed them. I can also use a drapery road and some metal hooks as a potrack, freeing up more space in the cupboards. All in all, it seems like a good temporary solution. As the designer said, if you can't spread out right now, spread up. A trip to Ikea might be in order to check out their kitchen set-ups.

So, that wasn;t so bad and I was feeling ok, so I headed off to HomeGoods to see if I could find my cousin a wedding present. Nothing, not a thing, and it started pouring.

So I went home and was all mopey, and was still all obsessed about picking out paint colors for my house and kicking myself because i seem to have fallen in love with a color called "White Raisin," which is, well, you know, white-ish. And I am not liking the traditional colors suggested by the Arts and Crafts movement (my house in as arts and crafts house) because they are dull and boring and oh so neutral when I remembered that Home Depot has this line of colors called Earth Elements and while they are, well, earthy, they are some richer jewel tones in there as well. So, on Sunday morning I woke up early early and headed to Home Depot, where I waited 20 minutes for a cart, because they had no associates to collect carts from outside and my hands were full and they wouldn't let me leave the store, only to discover, after finally receiving a cart, that, within the last month, the Earth Eements series has been moved out in favor of some crap ass Ralph Lauren paint colors. Which are ugly and require very expensive special equipment to put up and which actually got pretty bad reviews in a consumer review magazine. So I did get rollers and brushes and painters' tape and four nice clematis as well as a bamboo design vinyl stick for that window that is in my shower (window in shower - the neighbors do not deserve such a sight) and headed off to Bed Bath and Beyond, because I wanted to price towels, only to laugh like a mad woman when I found out that the cheapest towels they sell are like $9 a piece (yeah right) and then I head to the TJ Maxx to search yet again for the wedding present.

Why am I making this so hard, you might ask? Your cousin does have a registry. But it is a WalMart registry. I can't do it. I just can't. it causes me great spiritual pain just contemplating it. I mean, if you are going to go through the tremendous hassel of getting married at all and you are actually going to, you know, register for gifts, you should at least go to someplace like Kohl's and get half way decent stuff that won't fall apart next week. Ugh!

Anyway, I wandered through the store and finally found a niec gift that scraemed "Heather gave this to me," a very nice ceramic apple pie dish with a cover shaped like, get this, and apple pie crust. Too cute. I took it to the front and the clerk begins to ring it up and then all of a sudden stops and hands the plate to what I presume is a manager who leaves with it and the clerk starts folding clothing. I just looked at her. A couple of minutes go by. "Um, what is the problem? Why are you not ringing up my purchase." "Oh she has to look up a price." "But the price is on it." "Well, there is an old sticker on the top and she has to make sure you didn't try to scratch it off." I just looked at her, again. Really, a $20 pie plate is not worth the aggravation. About five minutes later, the manager comes back and takes the plate and puts it on a shelf. "I can't sell this to you." "What's the problem?" "I don't believe they go together. I can't find the piece the top goes to." "But the two pieces were together on the shelf." "But I don't think they go together." "Why not?" "Well, the top has an old price tag that is partially removed, so they don't belong together." "But they are by the same maker and they, um, you know, fit together, like hand in glove." "I don't care. I am not selling them to you. We'll have to throw them away." "Did you ever stop to think that the top should never have had a price tag on it and that your worker screwed up and tried to scratch it off? " "That doesn't happen here." "Really? What about the three pairs of jeans I was thinking of buying, none of which had price tags?" And the manager just walked away. And the sales clerk eyed me nervously and said, "I'll ring up the rest of your purchase." I told her not to bother, that their customer service was so poor, I would never come back.

And I walked back out into the pouring rain.... idiots.

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