When it comes to decor, I’m pretty sure it’s mostly a giant game of one step forward, two steps back. In most cases, new ideas just beget other new ideas, adding to your already never-ending to-do list. And in some cases, just when you think you’re getting close to finishing that to-do list, something comes along to throw a big, fat fly in the ointment.
Oh, am I being vague again? I’ll elaborate.
This weekend, the person who lives two floors above us flooded their apartment. The apartment above us was also flooded. We were spared the brunt of the water damage, but we do have three lovely nipple-shaped pockets of water on our ceiling right now. Two of them broke through and mostly drained out, but there is still visible damage. Fortunately, our landlord is taking care of it (supposedly today), but it still puts a (literally) damper on my plans to have finished the living room this weekend.
But we’re close, people. So close.
And while I have to throw in the actual towel to sop up the mess for now, there are little signs of progress throughout the apartment. Like this fun little craft I completed a couple weeks ago.
It’s no secret that I love gold details. And since our office area is usually the corner of our home I struggle to make look put together, I thought it would be a nice touch to add some gold details. And rather than spend any money on any new chotchkies or whatever, I broke out some spray primer and spray paint I already had on hand to dress up the drawer pull and my cheap plastic push-pins.
To paint the push-pins, I stuck each of them through a piece of scrap cardboard and primed. This step is key — most metallic spray paints I’ve used won’t stick to naked plastic. Let dry for a couple of hours in the sun.
Next, it was time to go for the gold. This painting portion actually took about four steps/coats because the pushpins are such a weird shape. I have to spray from each side as well as the top to make sure all the rainbow-bright colors were completely covered up. Then I let them dry for a full 25 hours outside to cure any stickiness.
Ta-da! I love the finished result — it makes the whole bulletin board look more pulled together.
I used the same technique to paint the drawer pull, and it also turned out nicely. (It’s just hard to take an inspiring photo of a drawer pull.)
So there you have it — the easiest little decor DIY ever.
What is everyone else working on?
On this day, April 30th, 2015, four years after marrying my husband, I have officially amended the last vestige of my maiden name: my PayPal account.
Did you guys have any idea how difficult it is to change your name on your PayPal? It’s pretty dang difficult. Even when you have a legitimate reason, like a marriage, you have to provide PayPal with a copy of your marriage license and a photo ID showing your new name.
My bank didn’t even require that much paperwork. (Actually, it might have. But it was FOUR YEARS AGO and I don’t remember.)
Suffice to say, I put it off. For almost half a decade. But after PayPal mistakenly sent one too many packages to Justine Blanchard, prompting the mail carrier to refuse to deliver and me to have to take an inconvenient trip to the post office, I finally decided to bite the bullet and just get it over with.
Plus, I had to provide my office with a scan of my marriage license for benefits anyway.
It took over a week to officially process (I’m assuming a real human being has to verify your “proof”?), but as of this morning, Justine Blanchard is no more on any of my accounts.
I feel like this should feel more momentous to me than it does. But, to be perfectly honest, I never felt that much of an emotional attachment to my last name. (Not to be confused with my family — I am quite emotionally attached to them. The name just didn’t represent anything that crucial to me.) I had always planned on changing it when I got married, and I like how Joey and I have become our own, united unit.
In fact, I often feel this weird sense of detachment when I see my maiden name in print. Like, “Oh, yeah…that used to be mine. That used to be me.” Weird, right?
It could be that I was never really one of those people who went by their last name. In college, a handful of friends took to calling me Blanch, and shortly after graduation, a few workmates dubbed me JLB because I used my full name for my byline. But in general, I’ve always been just Justine.
(Side note: Trying saying “Just Justine” ten times fast without spitting. It’s really hard. See also: “This is Justine.” Answering my work phone is a nightmare.)
But anyway. Instead of feeling sad, I actually feel more complete having this last bit of Blanchard officially transitioned over. I can’t believe it took me so long. I guess it has to do with how I feel like I’ve really come in to my own identity in the last couple of years.
It’s nice to know my Amazon orders will also know exactly who I am.
Did you change your name after marriage? How long did it take? Do you have any last traces of your old name hanging around?
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?
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:
BUT I CAN’T HELP IT. It’s either that or confuse everyone by just switching back and forth.
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 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:
And for a little pizzazz, I added these beauties:
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?
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!
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.