Friday, January 27, 2012

A Better Post Will Be Forthcoming

Listen you guys.
I know I haven't been around much.
I have been doing stuff.
Crafty stuff for CHA.
And anti-hoarder stuff for, well, humanity.
Since Christmas, I have been de-junking.
And in de-junking, I have run across many old things...old love notes from Sam when we were dating, stick figure drawings from the kids, someone's baby tooth...
I have been crying a lot.
Stupid hormones.

Anyway, I leave tomorrow for CHA.
HERE is a link to my accounting of CHA from a couple of years ago.
I will be taking a camera.

I don't mean to brag, but I will be meeting Tori Spelling.
At a fancy invitation-only dress-up reception.

I am embarrassed to say that I never watched 90210, and I really haven't caught any episodes of her "Tori and Dean" show on Oxygen or wherever it is.
I am not sure what to say to her.
In fact, the only thing I think of when I hear the name "Tori Spelling" is that she has been in every magazine everywhere when they do a "Plastic Surgery Gone Bad" feature.
Apparently she is releasing a Jewelry or craft-type line at CHA.
I was unclear.
I just hope she makes enough money doing her line to fix herself.
Or that her line features very distracting cleavage necklaces.

Also, I hope I don't make a fool of myself.
Whenever I go to something fancy I feel like one of the Clampetts.
P. S.
I took those shoes back to the thrift store, and got my five bucks back!
They put them back on the shelf.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Thrift Store Shopping.

It is no secret that I love thrift store shopping!

I used to hold onto the stigma that thrift store shopping was gross, and just a glorified yard sale.
But, we have an awesome thrift store, near the gym.
My gym partner Ponica and I would often frequent the thrift store after our work-out, to find treasures.
We started in on the clothes one day, and I was hooked!

Here is what I like about thrift store clothes.
They have been washed and worn. And broken in.
Nothing bugs me more than buying a sweater from a department store, wearing it once, and then washing it...and having it turn into an oddly shaped muffin-top baring, arms tourniquet.
I don't like to lay my damp sweaters out on those mesh drying racks.
I don't like to have to try and remember if my shirt can't be dried in the dryer.
I can barely remember my pin number.
Clothes maintenance shouldn't require space in my brain.

Enter the thrift store.
When you try something on, that is exactly how it is going to fit.
Also, when you can score designer jeans?
Original price $178.00
My cost: Six bucks.
I have gotten tons and tons of brand name shirts, jeans, slacks, skirts and shoes for dirt cheap.
It is also the thrill of "the hunt" that makes it so fun.
And also the occasional "WTH is this?"
Thrift stores often have very odd items of clothing.

I went thrifting on Saturday.
I found a dang cute pair of shoes.
They hadn't even been worn!
Five bucks!
My size. Comfortable wedge heel.
I was pretty excited about them.
I thought they would look cute with my black skirt, black textured tights, and gray cardigan.
So in the cart they happily went!

You have to be careful in the thrift store.
I once wore a pair of shoes into the store that were kinda uncomfortable to walk around in. It was my first time wearing them. I had purchased them previously from the thrift store for $6.
My sisters and I were planning on spending the rest of the day shopping, so I took those shoes off, and tried on some other shoes at the thrift store that might be better for our shop-til-you-drop.
I found a pair that felt okay, so I tested them out, and walked up the aisle and back a few times.
When I came back, MY SHOES were gone.

Someone was buying them, apparently.

The shoes I was trying out, were tagged $6, so I just wore them out of the store, and called it a good trade.
I kinda wanted to chase down the people buying my shoes, and tell them they were uncomfortable!

Anyway, always keep your real shoes and clothes in your cart when you are at the thrift store.
I clump around in the shoe department, with my right foot-shoe off, ready to try on shoes, and the left foot still in my own shoe.
People are less likely to purchase one single shoe.
So far.

Back to my cute new shoes.
Sunday morning dawns.
I shower, do my hair, slap some make-up on, and start getting dressed.
On goes the cardigan, skirt, tights....and WHAT?
I can't get the left shoe on.
Internets, there have been some mornings where literally overnight, I can bloat up, and not fit into my jeans.
They are not good mornings.
And some mornings, overnight,  you feel too jiggly to pull off a tight shirt.
I get it.
But shoes? My feet have never bloated before?
This was new.
I tried to do the Cinderella Step-Sister thing, and squeeze into them.
You can't suck foot fat in.
I totally know they fit in the store!

I double checked the size.
Yep, a size 8....and oh, wait a minute....the left foot? Size 6.
Which explains why they had never been WORN.
A 6 and an 8.

Who the crap donated those shoes to the thrift store, and thought it was the right thing to do?

Did they think, that by some miracle, some woman plagued with a rare foot disease in which one foot is normally sized, and the other is shriveled and withered, would find those shoes and quickly snatch them up, grateful for the miracle?

I am taking them back.
Five bucks is five bucks.

Friday, January 13, 2012

About Customer Service and Christmas Money

I have had a couple of experiences lately that have made me think about customer service.
A while back I ran across this website that runs daily deals.
Deals that are limited in number, and when they are sold, they are gone.
It is called "Pick Your Plum."
I am sure you all have a similar one bookmarked- it seems like a million of them have popped up.
This particular one is geared towards girly/crafty things, (headbands, jewelry, project kits) so I have placed a bunch of orders with them over the course of the past few months.
(No, I am not being compensated in any way to endorse their site.)
I was just pleasantly surprised when I opened my first order from them.
It shipped quickly and when I opened the package, it was packaged carefully- each item bagged with a handmade tag stamped with the company logo.
And the best part?
A Laffy Taffy dropped out of the package.

A tiny little unexpected treat all for meeeeee!
And I am not sure how they knew, but they picked the banana flavor.
My favorite.
I am not saying that next time I crave Laffy Taffy, I am going to place an order with them.
Well, maybe.
You can always win me over with candy.
But it put a smile on my face.
That little something extra.
I am hesitant to link you to the site, since they have limited supplies of "deals" and I will now have to beat you all to them!
But I can whole-heartedly back that company.
Great prices. Cheap shipping.
I have e-mailed them with questions, and have gotten a quick response.
I am sure they do a lot of business, but they made me feel like I was one of their favorite customers.
You don't see that a lot anymore.

Take for instance Satan's Warehouse.
I was there one evening with a friend of mine, who has to be the nicest person on the planet.
That being said, I watched her, as we shopped, gradually morph from Pollyanna into a crusty troll.
If the mix of crappy music, constant overhead cashier pages, and screaming children weren't enough, it seems like that place periodically moves an entire department to another area of the store, just to "mix things up a little."
The employees, if you can find them, and if you can speak their native tongue, which is never English, can't seem to locate the items you are looking for either.
They give you the deer-in-headlights-stare, coupled with a shoulder shrug.
Occasionally, you can get one who will volunteer to "help you find it."
And then proceed to lead you over to the area you already just scoured, and then tell you "Gosh, I am just not sure. Let me call a CSM (Walmart speak for customer service manager) for you." 
Which is code for "You are going to hear me page out on my little black phone, and then I am going to disappear forever."
Anyway, back to my friend.
When we did locate her items almost all of them were out of stock.
No lie.
Just an empty space where they should be.
Some of her items she begrudgingly substituted with something else, but a good portion, she knew she would have to come back for another day.
I watched her physically and mentally wilt.
And finally, when we approached the check-out, she had reached her limit of patience and compassion.

Now, I am not sure about the timing of things in life.
Sometimes fate has a funny way of working things.
They must have had a recent staff-meeting on customer service, because the first thing our chipper checker ( and the ONLY checker, with a line stretching back to layaway) said to us was....wait for it....

"Did you find everything alright this evening?"

The proverbial dam burst.
My usually mellow friend let loose on the poor cashier.

"Why do you even ask that? Are you going to physically leave your little perch and help me find something if I asked? Are you going to pretend that you even know where anything is in this store? Do they MAKE YOU SAY THAT?!!"

The poor cashier rang her items up with lightening speed.
My friend, having released those pent-up frustrations, apologized to the cashier (and the 632 people in line behind us)--while she bagged her own items.
I just sat back and ate my Rolo's.

My friend apologized to me in the car.
"I am sorry you had to be there for that. I am not sure what is wrong with me- that place just frustrates me every time."

Preaching to the choir, sister.

You can talk to employees all you want about customer service, and match every ad, but bottom line is walking the walk.
And with no competition to speak of, what is the motivation?

That is why I was blown away this week by another example of excellent customer service.
(Again- not being compensated to state my opinion here.)
I placed my first order with an online stamps and etc. company "Papertrey Ink."
I have often gone to their site, and made a mental wish-list.
But truth be told, I have so stinking much scrapbooking crap that I could never justify paying for more.
And I am not really a stamper.
I just love the style on the site.
Everything is so pretty.
And they don't use cheesy fonts on their stamps.
No Comic Sans, or Brush Script.

Well, lately I have been doing a lot of cards, and cards need a sentiment.
I do this complicated text box thing in Word.
I make a phrase, measure it to fit a tag, print it....then adhere the tag to the printed phrase, and run it back through the printer again.
Sometimes it shifts.
And I curse.
And then have to die cut another tag, and attempt running it again.
So I thought to myself, "Man, it would sure be nice if there was a various sentiment stamp set that fit these tags."

Well there is.
Tiny Tags
And here:
Tiny Tags II
And also a die set that fits all the stamps perfectly.
So I used my Christmas money, and bought them all!

Let me insert a small insight here, on the Christmas money thing.
My parents give me and my sisters Christmas money, with certain restrictions.
You have to spend the money on YOURSELF.
No bills, or household expenses.
And it is an unwritten restriction, that you must spend it on something slightly frivolous.
Something you have wanted for a while, but have not been able to justify it into the household budget.
They like it when you report back on what you spent the money on.
Once I bought a vacuum.
It was not well received.

So these stamps were perfect for me.
It's kinda like the story of the toilet seat.
I am going to use the heck out of these things, and why didn't I treat myself to them long ago?

I happily placed the order, and three days later, the package was sitting on my porch.
Inside the box, each item was individually wrapped in tissue paper, just like Christmas!
I want you to look closer.
Enclosed in the tissue is a real live "Thank You" card.
Hand-signed by the owner of the company, and some employees, I presume.
Thanking me for my order.
"We look forward to exceeding your expectations in both quality and service."
(Um, you already have.)

Also in the package?
A free "Thank You" stamp set.
There is nothing on their website, baiting you to order.
"Order now, and get this FREE STAMP SET."
It was a pleasant surprise.
My order was only forty bucks, but my business was appreciated.

Kinda refreshing.
Now, I don't expect "freebies" or candy to make me a returning customer, but there has got to be a happy medium between that and bag-your-own-groceries.

I still have Christmas money to spend.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Hello 2012!

Or as the cool kids say "twenty-twelve."
Unless you automatically just read the title like that to begin with.
I didn't.
I still say "two thousand, twelve."
To be completely honest, I have to admit that I  actually say "two thousand eleven."
It will take me until at least April to peg the right year down.
A whole paragraph about nothing!

Here is another.
I just drank a bag of chips.
You know how nothing is left in the bag, but the crumbs and super concentrated flavoring powder?
Usually people throw the bag away at that point.
Not I.
I drink it.
I also really love the last bowl of cereal.
The bowl that is crumbs and then when you add milk it turns into instant mush, with lots of sugar.

My diet plan is going great, thanks for asking.

I am knee-deep in projects for CHA.
Here is a CHA recap, from a couple of years ago, if you are curious what it is all about:
CHA 2009
It is basically a trade-show for crafting.
Good stuff!
I am busy making projects for it, and then I will be going to the show to work a booth.
Awesome people watching in my immediate future.

I dug myself out for a minute here, to say hello.
And also because I have lost my adhesive gun.

It is the size of a standard house cat.
And it is LOST on my counter.

It looks like an episode of Hoarders in here.
And I look like a contestant on the Biggest Loser, what with my sweatpants and Cheeto-dust cleavage.

Back to my projects!