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Archive for the ‘ Shopping ’ Category

Cohabitation Purchases

I’ve been busy lately. The end of the summer was filled with weeknight dinners with visiting parents and weekend getaways with Kirios. September went by in the blink of an eye – must have been the Jewish holidays, which I spent with family and old friends in Pittsburgh and in Baltimore. October was a crazy transition month – in addition to bringing cooler weather and pumpkin flavored treats of all sorts, Kirios moved into my (now our) apartment the last weekend in September. The move went smoothly – Kirios didn’t have much in the ways of furniture since he was living at home, and his extensive wardrobe of rainbow polos and plaid shorts miraculously fit in the closets.

Beyond the initial move, there were a few high priorities on our to-do list. Kirios’s two-monitor setup for his self-built computer is of paramount importance to him. We often joked that the day he’d officially be moved in was the day his desktop moved. (Joking aside, we both knew it was true.) When I moved into my last apartment three plus years ago I needed a lot of furniture. My father found a desk in relatively good condition next to the building’s dumpster and we decided to take it, first spraying it with half a bottle of Clorox. The desk wasn’t ideal – there was a bookshelf attached to it which was convenient for storage, but didn’t have a high enough clearance for computer monitors. Luckily I had a laptop. And my laptop was usually on the coffee table. Even when I began working from home on Friday, I never used my desk except to store office supplies and papers. I like to spread out on the kitchen table. (That’s even how I liked to do my homework in high school too.) Nonetheless, I got three good years out of that zero-dollar investment. A week before moving in, Kirios ordered an attractive corner desk with enough room for his heavy-duty computing equipment. The day he moved in, we broke the old desk into pieces with his father and fittingly sent it back to a dumpster.

Kirios' "Office"

Personally, there’s one major purchase I had wanted to make for a while, and Kirios’ arrival seemed like the perfect excuse to finally do it. I’ve wanted a new mattress set. My last mattress, which I bought three plus years ago (at the same time I found the desk) was not a high-end investment. Despite its 10-year warranty, its degree of comfort and quality decreased dramatically after the first two years. It’s really squeaky, and did I mention it’s only a full size?!? Considering I (ideally) spend 56 hours per week in bed sleeping, I figured it was definitely time to upgrade. So Kirios and I went mattress shopping and a funny thing happened. We laid down on a Stearns and Foster floor sample and we both fell in love with the same mattress. What are the odds! …Then we realized that the side he was lying on was plush and the side I was lying on was firm. Naturally, Challahbear knows best, so we “agreed” to get a firm mattress. I’m not heartless; I splurged for the pillowtop so Kirios would still be pretty comfy. I spent another week researching prices and mattress sales on the internet and finalizing my negotiation strategy during long calls with my dad. I do, after all, have a business degree and work in purchasing! So in mid-October Kirios and I implemented said negotiation strategy according to plan. The “Honey, the price is just too high. Let’s go,” approach worked like a charm. Of course the salesman insisted all Stearns and Foster mattresses are price fixed and there was nothing he could do to lower the cost right until my hand was on the door to leave the store. I’m now the proud owner of a big girl bed! And it only took a few days for Kirios to stop complaining about how hard it is.

Now that's a bed!

Finally, Kirios was super excited about creating a “home theater system.” He had talked about speakers for some time. I’ve never lived anywhere with external speakers for the television, and I’ve never really felt like I was missing out. I rarely go out to the movies these days, and when I do, it’s usually too loud. (Maybe I am getting old!) Kirios and I do enjoy cuddling on the futon and watching a movie when we can and we usually turn on subtitles so it’s easier to understand the dialogue. I encouraged him to create a modest budget for his stereo equipment and research his options. I told him I’d want to review anything before he purchased it, and I wasn’t likely to approve of enormous ugly black towers taking up half of our living room. For over a month, Kirios conducted internet research on speakers, subwoofers, receivers, even hi-tech remote controls. He told me about them excitedly after work, he sent me emails with pictures of his favorite models, and he developed a lengthy excel spreadsheet showing market prices for the different models he was considering and the other components with which they worked best.

After weeks of planning, we made a pilgrimage together to a large home theater store in Fairfax, VA. We went into a sound-proof listening room with our salesman James. James had an uncanny resemblance to Matthew Perry’s Chandler Bing years which distracted me for the first hour or so were there. Could you BE any more familiar? James played video clips for us on two different types of speakers had Kirios asked about. They both sounded great to me. A little different, but it was so hard to tell what was the side speakers vs. the center or the subwoofer, receiver, etc. This was totally out of my area of expertise. James discussed sound quality and pricing with Kirios, mentioning one of the items he wanted was on sale. He asked whether we had decided whether we wanted the black ones or the dark cherry. “Cherry,” I said, making my only contribution to the discussion. They match our wood floors and décor much better! At some point, the conversation transitioned from a typical sales pitch to a complete and utter geek-fest. Kirios had done his research and James no longer pretended some models were on sale and others weren’t, they united for the purpose of identifying the most effective sound system to highlight dialogue given his technical/price tradeoff preferences. I went back and forth from being entertained by nerdiness of it all and bored by how completely over my head everything was. We left with some reasonable price quotes, each product slightly lower than what was available online, and James’ business card.

Kirios returned to the store a few days later to negotiate a package deal for a center speaker, two side speakers, and a receiver. He still hasn’t settled on a subwoofer yet (for which I’m sure our neighbors are quite thankful), subs don’t need to match the other speakers. (I did pay some attention.) We also ordered cherry wood colored speaker stands separately since James said he couldn’t beat the online retailer’s price.  We ordered a nice TV stand with a swiveling TV mount from Walmart.com which got delayed by Superstorm Sandy, so we had to get creative finding a place for everything for a while. Thankfully, Kirios’ best friend offered a hand in putting together the stand once it did finally arrive. It was rather heavy and a bit beyond Ikea level in terms of assembly!

Home Theater System, Phase 1... because we all know it's only a matter of time until he expands/upgrades

A month and a half into living together, we’re not quite done buying all the things we want and need for our home, but we seem to be making things work. And it sure is nice to come home to a hug from Kirios every day after work!

Reverse Retail Therapy

I had a stressful day yesterday. As I recently posted, I’ve been struggling with managing stress lately and even with an evening trip to finally see Hunger Games with Kirios and a friend, yesterday was a difficult day. This morning I found myself dragging a bit more than a typical Monday morning. While it doesn’t help that I’ve cut back on my caffeine consumption at my cardiologist’s request, I know that my morning blues are a byproduct of a non-relaxing Sunday. So in an effort to change my spirits this evening, I plan to partake in some reverse retail therapy.

It just so happens that Kirios and I went on a major TJ Maxx & Ross shopping spree on Saturday. I had never actually been to a Ross’ before, and I’ll admit, I went a bit overboard. But what woman doesn’t love a new dress that compliments her curves? And at only an additional $15, how could you not buy a second one? Truth be told, I purchased a total of seven dresses, ranging from casual to professional to little black dress. I also purchased two skirts, a pair of shorts, and a handbag which came with a matching compact umbrella. I know, I know, a bit overboard.

Kirios and I returned to his house just before 10 pm. We stayed out shopping so late that we missed out on an opportunity to attend a party downtown, and we still hadn’t had dinner. We were both excited about our purchases, and the prospect of future occasions to show them off around town. I knew that Kirios’ parents would be home and eager to see what we returned with, and I was more than a little embarrassed by my Santa-sized sack of clothes. To my delight, rather than suggesting I return some of the items, they ooh-ed and ahh-ed at each item, agreeing with how nicely the dresses matched my turquoise sandals, or jewelry Kirios has given me. When I was done with show-and-tell, Kirios’ mother even reminded me that if I had gone to a department store, I could have easily spent the same amount of money on just one or two dresses.

My shopping trip moved to the back of my mind when less pleasant things filled my thoughts yesterday. So tonight, I plan to try on all of my clothes again. Of course, it’s reasonable to try them on again before I take the tags off and wash them to make sure I chose wisely. But I’ll admit it, twirling around in a new dress (or seven) seems like just what the doctor ordered to send my bad day blues away!