Landscape

Mean muggin.

I don’t know why I’m so obsessed with Craigslist, but I am. I’m apparently so taken with the online marketplace that I write about it on this very blog — quite frequently.

But while I’ve discussed how to be good at Craigslist, what I hate about Craigslist, and how to NOT rent an apartment on Craigslist, there’s one aspect of buying and selling that I have no yet addressed: the art of the Craigslist negotiation.

Fortunately for all of you (right?), I’ve garnered many a cautionary in my many years of buying and selling, and now I’m going to share them with you. Here are a few signs you might not be so good at Craigslist negotiating.

1. You seem to think this is Macy*s.
Listen, I get it. You paid hundreds of dollars for that [insert name of furniture/appliance/etc.]. It hurts your heart — and bank account — to even think about selling it for half what you paid for it. But you know what? You are not a department store. I did not drive to your establishment, park in your sprawling parking complex, and brave a stroll through your perfume department to get to this [furniture/appliance/etc.], whereupon I then bought it brand new out of a box. I found it on a semi-shady, over-grown garage sale website. After you had used it for a couple of years. So, alas, you cannot sell it to me for what you paid for it.

There’s nothing worse than a Craigslist seller who won’t budge on their listing price. This is why I always list at least $10 higher than what I ultimately want to get for the item — that way, I can negotiate without feeling too great of a loss. Any time I encounter a seller who won’t drop at least $10 from their price, I immediately move on. Stop acting offended and remember where we are right now.

2. You think you have Jedi mind control.
There are few things more annoying than a buyer trying to trick you into a low-ball offer. When you email me and just say, “What will you sell this to me for?”, my immediate mental response is to send you a “Let Me Google That For You”-type response where I just re-send you the original ad. Howsabout we start at that number, huh pal?

As I just said, I have no issues with haggling. I encourage it, in fact. But you have to at least make me a real offer. You’re not going to fool me into giving my best and final right off the bat. This ain’t my first rodeo, cowboy.

3. You take the low-ball offer to a subterranean level.
I feel like I should repeat the fact that I am not above bargaining. I expect you to reply to my ad with an offer. What really irks me? An offer that is 50 percent or less than what I listed for.

Come on, guys. Be respectful. If I really didn’t care how much I sold it for, I would just drop it in the free section to be done with it. I make a habit of offering at least 75 percent of whatever it was originally listed for, in expectation that the seller will come back closer to 80-85 percent. The only exception is if something is already priced super low — then I might just offer whatever it’s listed for (because I’m not a psychopath).

There’s nothing more annoying than listing something for $80 and getting an offer for $30. Like, what do you think this is? And stop acting wide-eyed and shocked when I say “no, thanks.”

I feel like I may have exhausted my Craigslist tips at this point, but I’m sure there are more great ideas out there. What are your best buying and selling secrets?

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In less than two weeks, we find out whether our baby is a boy or a girl or a dinosaur.

(Just kidding about the last one…making sure you’re paying attention!)

I thought I would be more stressed out about finding out. Well, stressed isn’t the right word. Anxious? Emotionally charged? Whatever it is that I thought I would be, I’m actually pretty zen about the whole thing.

It probably helps that I’m not that concerned about it going either way. Sure, I little part of me hopes it’s a girl (I need to do SOMETHING with my master braiding skills), I would be equally as thrilled with a little boy. When either result results in happiness, it’s hard to be too stressed/anxious/emotionally charged/whatever.

I am excited to find out, though, if only so I can start planning a nursery and calling the baby by a pronoun other than “it.” Nothing makes you feel like a terrible mom like calling your child “it,” let me tell you. Probably because this image flashes through my mind every time I do:

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BUT I CAN’T HELP IT. It’s either that or confuse everyone by just switching back and forth.

Anyway.

Before the official results come in, I thought it could be fun to play the What Am I Having Game: Old Wives’ Tale Edition!!! Hang on to your hats, folks — let’s see what completely unscientific guessing games have to say about my fetus.

How am I carrying (high or low)?

The baby moves a bit, but I feel like the most solid part of the bump is down low.

Survey says: BOY

How am I carrying (front or sides)?

Anyone who sees me will tell you that my bump is a little thing, but I can’t deny that I’ve generally thickened all around my middle. (My pencil skirts will confirm.)

Survey says: GIRL

Is baby “stealing my beauty”?

This is probably my least favorite wives’ tale because it seems undeniably sexist, but in theory, bad skin/hair/etc. indicates a girl. My skin has been breaking out a lot for me (usually clear skin is the one thing I can count on), but I’ve also had several people tell me I’m glowing. (Pregnant women love to hear this, by the way.)

Survey says: INCONCLUSIVE

Dry hands and cold feet?

This is one I actually had never heard of, but apparently dry hands and cold feet can indicate a boy. My hands have literally been flaking off the last couple of weeks, and my feet are always chilly. (But the feet thing was true even before I got preg.)

Survey says: BOY

Baby’s heart rate?

If the baby’s heart beats under 140 beats per minute, tradition says it’s a boy. Our little bean had a heart rate of 150 at my last sonogram.

Survey says: GIRL

What am I craving?

Apparently sweets mean girl, salt and sour means boy. I have definitely had a taste for sour, and I can’t get enough lemonade and pickles. (Though I’ve always liked these things.)

Survey says: BOY

 

How is Joey doing?

As the story goes, if your partner is packing on pounds while you do, it’s supposed to indicate a girl. I have NO IDEA why this is true, but as far as I can tell, Joey is as skinny as ever.

Survey says: BOY

How am I feeling?

The sicker you get, the more likely it is that you’re having a girl. I actually had very little to no morning sickness, and all my nausea went away at 12 weeks.

Survey says: BOY

What’s your parental history?

This is a fun one I had never heard of: If the mother is the her mother’s firstborn, she will have what her mother had second. If the mother is the middle child, she will have what her mother had for her third child. If the mother is the third child, she will have her kids in the same order her mother did.

Survey says: GIRL

How are my legs?

Finally, a tale that actually favors girls! This old tale says that if your legs swell up, you’re having a boy. Fortunately, mine have stayed pretty much the same so far.

Survey says: GIRL

Graceful or clumsy?

Apparently, if you’re a klutz while pregnant, you’re having a boy. I haven’t noticed a marked change in my grace, but I wouldn’t say I’m tripping all over the place.

Survey says: GIRL

The toddler test?

I laughed at this one: If a toddler boy takes interest in you while you’re pregnant, you’re having a girl. There’s actually a 5-year-old boy in my Kingdom Hall who recently asked me on a date, so what do you know?

Survey says: GIRL

Side you rest on?

If you prefer the left, it means you’re having a boy. I’ve always preferred the right, and that hasn’t changed since getting pregnant.

Survey says: GIRL

How’s my head?

An increase in headaches can indicate a boy. I never used to get headaches, but I usually get at least one a week now.

Survey says: BOY

So that’s six votes for boy and seven for girl — shockingly, not a conclusive answer! Guess we’ll just have to wait and see what the sonogram says :)

What do you think I’m having? Vote in the comments below — and I’ll reveal the answer on May 10th!

You know how sometimes you just stop believing that something is ever going to happen for you?

Case in point: the last two winters. I don’t know about y’all, but I had quite literally given up hope it was ever going to get hot again. When I woke up to 40-degree weather this morning, that disbelief was reinforced.

That’s how I’ve been feeling about our bedroom. I was just plain ol’ convinced that it was just never going to come together.

Oh, what’s that? You want to hear the saga of our bed? Oh, I just couldn’t possibly regale you with this tale of tragedy and woe…but, sure, let’s do it.

It started on the first day of our move when the movers discovered it was actually impossible to navigate our headboard down our twisty little hallway to the bedroom. This wasn’t a huge shock — the headboard was of the storage variety, so it was pretty bulky. I had secretly been hoping to sell it for a few months because I wanted something more streamlined that would allow us more space to move around the room.

Careful what you wish for, chickadees.

Once we had confirmed that the bed wouldn’t fit, I started a more aggressive campaign to try to sell it.

You guys, if there is one thing I could teach you about Craigslist, it’s this: It is dang-near impossible to sell a bed on that sucker.

I say this as a self-professed Craigslist ninja. I have sold entire dining sets on Craigslist. I have sold massive, 400-pound china cabinets on Craigslist. I once sold a used rug on Craigslist.

I could not sell this bed.

You know what I could do? Almost sell it.

You just have to trust me that I am not exaggerating when I tell you I almost sold the bed four separate times. One potential buyer even came to the apartment, saw the bed, said he want it, left us a $100 deposit, and then went home and changed his mind and asked for 50 percent of the deposit BACK over Paypal. That was a dark day.

When a girl from Craigslist called and offered me peanuts to buy the bed (IF we would deliver it), I readily accepted if only because I NEEDED THIS TO BE OVER.

And I still didn’t really believe it had sold until Joey returned sans bed with cash in hand.

So after all that, the bed was sold. But I still had to wait a couple of weeks to order the new bed. In the meantime, Joey and I have been sleeping on the mattress. On the floor. Like heroin addicts. It’s super glamorous.

About three weeks ago, I finally ordered the new bed. About a week later, it arrived. The clouds parted. Angels sang. Bogey shed a tear or two. We finally had a bed?

Or did we???

I unpacked the side pieces and the platform slats first. No problems. Then I went to unpack the headboard, sliding it out of a long, thin box. As the last corner slipped free from the cardboard…it became instantly apparent that the entire corner was crushed beyond repair.

NO BED FOR YOU!

In the moment of black-out rage that followed my seeing that crushed corner, I can’t even tell you what was said. I’m guessing not anything pleasant.

The only bright side is that Overstock.com actually has a pretty competent customer service department. They quickly forwarded my complaint to the parts department, and two days later I had an email that a new headboard was on its merry way to me. And we just had to toss the old one — they didn’t need it back.

The new headboard arrived on Thursday. That pretty much ends the story (except a little anecdote about the UPS guy dropping it over our fence to crash-land on our patio table…because CLEARLY these things are so durable…the headboard was fine, fortunately)(for the UPS man)(and his life), and this weekend I was finally able to set up the bed and our bedroom at large.

So now, to reward you for sticking with our bed odyssey all this while, I present you with photos of the finished product:

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And for a little pizzazz, I added these beauties:

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Obviously the bedspread is still a bit wrinkled from being packed (and a couple of our pillows warped when we tried to wash them), but it’s still lightyears ahead of where we were last week. (AKA, on the floor.)

So it just goes to show, you should never give up the dream.

What did y’all accomplish this weekend?

18 weeks

18 weeks

I felt my baby kick for the first time last night.

That’s a pretty quick sentence, so imma give you a minute to let it soak in. I know I needed a minute even after it happened.

We were at our weekly meeting, and it was the last talk. I had been feeling especially pregnant because my belly had officially started popping out pretty much that day. (Having a uterus the size of a cantaloupe will do that to a girl.)

In fact, just that morning I had been thinking about how stereotypical my other symptoms had been (mild nausea until exactly 12 weeks, exhaustion until 14 weeks, etc.) and wondering if the kicking would be the same. (I’m supposed to start feeling it anytime during or after the 18th week.

So there I am, sitting quietly with my hands on my belly as they often are these days, when suddenly it dawns on me that I feel a little poke — and it’s different from digestion or indigestion or anything I’ve ever felt before. I knew immediately this was something that was not, well, me. I may have stopped breathing for a second. I pressed down with my hands a bit more…and was rewarded with a second little poke.

Here are eight things that go through your brain the first time you feel your baby kick:

1. Hmmm what should I have for dinner? I’m so hungry and — wait a second, what was that?!
2. Relax a second, are we sure that wasn’t just gas?
3. It didn’t feel like gas.
4. Oh my goodness, do that again!
5. …please? Please, one more time?
6. Maybe it was just gas.
7. OH MY GOODNESS IT HAPPENED AGAIN!
8. *tears*

I managed to not actually cry (dang hormones), but I could barely contain my excitement. Later, after eating dinner, I could feel a few more tiny movements, but unfortunately nothing strong enough for Joey to feel yet.

But…you guys. Just when I think I’m done being amazed at this whole pregnancy thing, the little bean has a new bag of tricks to throw at me.

I can’t wait to see what he/she thinks up next.

I’ve never described myself as particularly “crunchy” of a gal. I appreciate modern medicine, I don’t always buy organic, and I’ve made peace with the fact that I live in a big city and probably consume a million pollutants a day. That being said, I do appreciate when I can cut out any harmful chemicals from my life, and that goes double while I’m growing another human.

Recently, a friend and her mother started a company that produces more natural pharmaceutical and skincare products called Branch to Nature. I had never had the opportunity to try their goods before, but they recently launched a Mommy Collection, and my friend asked if I would be interested in trying their natural deodorant in exchange for a review.

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Total confession: I have always been skeptical of natural deodorants. One time, in the seventh grade, our science teacher told us that regular deodorant would give us alzheimer’s because of the aluminum, so I scoured the drugstore shelves for one that didn’t have the metal ingredient. Two days later, I was running back to my chemical-laden version because, folks, I was a sweaty beast. I have never strayed since then.

But I have always felt a twinge of guilt using the regular brands. And, as I said, guilt is twofold when you are eating (and, I guess, deodorizing?) for two. So I readily accepted her offer.

My first impression of the deodorant was that the smell is very strongly herbal. I actually came to like the smell in the next couple of days (the lavender and chamomile smell much fresher than what I was using before), but initially I was a little concerned about smelling like potpourri. Fear not, though, the smell doesn’t linger.

The Branch to Nature Mommy Collection Deodorant is not only aluminum-free, it’s also without parabens, sulfates, and triclosan — in fact, it’s made virtually exclusively with natural oils, herbs, and butters.

Of course, it’s not as strong as that prescription-strength bottle you picked up at CVS. But it does work pretty well. You just might have to apply once in the morning and once in the evening. I did this on days I worked out and had no issues. And it is nice knowing that you’re not putting anything harmful in your (or your baby’s) system.

To my readers with kids: Did you switch a lot of skincare products when you got pregnant? I also switched out my facial regimen for products made for pregnant women (AKA, no more anti-aging products…sigh.)

To my readers in general: Do you use (or have you tried) natural deodorant? What did you think?

It has been a while since we’ve had a good, ol’ fashioned how-to on the blog. Lucky for you guys, a fresh move is rife with possibilities for DIY. (I know, don’t you feel lucky?)

Anyway.

Before I begin the how-to, I have a confession: Joey and I are one of those horrible American couples who eat most of our meals in front of the TV. I know. We’re single-handedly breaking down humanity. I’m sorry.

We started our marriage with good intentions. The first couple of weeks, we ate dinner at the dinner table. Like grown-ups.

Then…we got cable.

And then we became your worst sitcom nightmare, slowly drifting closer and closer to the tube, plates in hand, promises that “it’s only this one time” drifting from our lips. By six months of wedded bliss, the “dining” table was used mostly for holding paper work or as a surface for whatever craft I was working on at the time.

RIP, dining table.

By our second apartment, we downsized to a small white kitchen table mostly for the sake of appearances. After a year of little to no use, I sold it and used the space for kitchen storage. I had no regrets.

So when we started looking for our next place, I made an agreement (with myself)(in my head): I would only buy a dining table if our apartment had a designated dining space. Otherwise, why bother with the pretense. And then…we succeeded in getting pregnant.

And when we found our sweet little 2-bedroom, definitely lacking in specific dining space, we were faced with a choice: pass on our bad habits to our offspring, or get creative with our furniture arrangement. Because, really, what kind of grown-ups are we if we can’t manage a family dinner at a table like the surgeon general has begged us to do?

But no amount of good intentions was going to expand our apartment, so we needed to think small. I started looking for tables on Craigslist that either came petite or had the ability to be folded down in some way. After a couple of weeks of scouring, I came upon a sweet little round number with fold-down sides — perfect. The only problem? While the legs were white, the top was that pale tan wood that I associate with farm tables from the early ’90’s. Definitely not going to work in our strictly white-and-dark-wood household. (Furniture colors is a household divide worthy of fair Verona, in my humble opinion.)

And so, after roughly one calendar year of preface, begins our how-to.

I started by lightly sanding (seriously, you’re mostly just wiping it down with a very fine-grit sandpaper) the table’s surface.

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From there, I used a small mohair roller and Glidden Duo Paint + Primer in a semi-gloss. When it comes to picking paint, I always refer to the expertise of whoever is working in Home Depot’s paint department. But in general, you want something with a semi-shiny finish for easy wiping, and a roller is better than a brush for the smoothest finish.

Two coats in...

Two coats in…

Also, don’t go crazy with your coats. It’s so much better to do 3-4 thin coats of paint than to glob on one or two thick coats that will never fully cure. Be patient. (I’m saying this mostly to myself, but it’s probably good advice for you guys too.)

I ended up doing three full coats and one touch-up coat. Don’t freak out if you feel like your roller is leaving a spongy texture in the paint — give it a few minutes to settle and then decide if your equipment is faulty.

You also want to not do what I did and make sure to bend down the sides before the paint finishes drying. This will enable you to paint those surfaces (which will be visible any time the table isn’t fully extended) without have the surface paint dry together over the cracks.

Mind the crack.

Mind the crack.

I had to sand my edges down a bit and then repaint them. Learn from my mistakes.

Anyway, once you’re done painting, it’s a good idea to let the table sit for at least 24-48 hours before putting anything on top. Mine dried fast enough that I could at least attach the legs and move it inside (since the weather forecast originally predicted rain), but I had to touch up the top when I got overambitious and added a vase of flowers so I could take the below photo. Darn me and my incessant staging! But the point is, now it really looks like this:

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Pretty, right? And it takes up very little space, especially with the sides folded all the way down.

I hope this baby appreciates all the work we’re already putting in to being good parents, ya know?

Was anyone else particularly industrious this weekend? Tell me what you’re working on!