Sunday, December 17, 2017

Last posting of 2017....

Hello everyone! Just thought I’d check in one last time before I board a plane and hop across the pond to spend the holidays with my in-laws relaxing in Hereford, England. When I’ve told people my Christmas plans I’ve had a myriad of reactions from just casual interest (“That sounds nice…”) to absolute excitement, (“That is sooo cool! England, Wow!” yadda, yadda, yadda…). It makes me realize I take for granted how special my life is because I’m married to a Brit, so my life isn’t always like everyone else’s (though most days it is). Fourth of July and Thanksgiving aren’t always celebrated with the same level of planning and social interaction for us for obvious reasons (neither are British holidays and Independence Day is a bit awkward because of what it signifies). That’s not to say we don’t enjoy having the day off of work, but we don’t always celebrate with family, etc.

Having lived in England it’s no bigger a deal for me to return there than it would be for anyone else to return to their hometown, though heading overseas is a slightly larger undertaking than driving back to Cleveland or Miami I suppose. I remember once telling my husband that he should be happy he got to travel to so many countries when he was a child, when the only states I remember visiting were Pennsylvania and Tennessee (prior to my Girl Scout Road Trip to Wyoming when I was a teenager), which are hardly exotic. I now understand the blasé attitude.

I will try to cultivate more of an attitude of gratitude (we should all do that!) and promise to try and take interesting and relevant photos and email those who have requested them so I can give you a little (and it will only be a little since I’m only spending about a week there) glimpse of the England I know.

I wish you all the happiest holiday and a blessed and prosperous new year!


Sunday, December 10, 2017

Why I Like Working at Yankee Candle....

When I filled out the application I was unemployed and figured it would be nice to get out of the house and earn a little money during the holidays. It was between Yankee Candle and Bath & Body Works (torn between candles and lotion). Yankee Candle won out.

One of the nice things about retail positions is that they tend not to require a lot of brain power (except for dealing with the technology that is the modern day computerized cash register). Hence, it’s easy to build your self-confidence without taking on too many difficult tasks.

One of my managers, Ted, compliments me almost daily saying he is proud of me, even when I make mistakes (usually minor). I love this about him. Too bad none of my other bosses (elsewhere) do that, but I guess one shouldn’t typically express much in the way of praise. Unless you get reprimanded for a screw-up I suppose it’s safe to assume you’re doing a good job.

I love helping the customers find the perfect candle. Okay, so candles aren’t going to solve all the world’s problems, if they help make someone’s day, then I’m glad I could help with that. Most of the customers are pretty nice and grateful for your help and a few even thank you too.

The customers can make or break your day and some are definitely more memorable than others. My favorite customer, thus far, was Mr. O. He and his wife came in one Friday afternoon with their miniature Chihuahua curled up sleeping in her carrying case. Mr. O and his wife proceeded to select half a dozen tumbler candles and decided to personalize them with photos. I think that’s the biggest order Yankee Candle has received this season.

Anyway, Mr. O was a larger-than-life presence in his over-caffeinated Ray Ban-wearing state. It shouldn’t have surprised me that the photos he selected for the candles were selfies he took posing in front of a mirror – one in a public restroom. They were hilarious, and he was so unabashed about it. In the hour or so he spent in our store he managed to win everyone over and started his own unofficial fan  club. We were all quite sad to see him, his wife, and Lola (?) their dog leave.

It goes without saying that if I didn’t like candles I wouldn’t have wanted to work in a candle store. Yankee Candles may cost more than their brethren, but they’re also far superior in quality. They sell a lot of candles because of three things I’ve observed about the candles: They usually smell like the description (and you don’t have to hover over the candle to pick up the scent); they have creative and memorable names for the scents (Cozy by the Fire, Storm Watch, Autumn in the Park, etc.), and they have really pretty pictures on the candles. The name and picture gets you to pick up the candle, but the scent sells it. By the way, my favorite scents are all food-related (Buttercream, Vanilla Cupcake, Café Al Fresco), though aren’t necessarily the ones I own personally (Balsam Cedar, Hot Buttered Rum, Honey Clementine, etc.).

I genuinely like my coworkers and the managers, who are very reasonable to work for. Even though I could care less about all the financial details (like what target we need to hit by the end of the day as compared to the previous year), I am goal-orientated enough to care just a little about achieving my sales target for the day. Last night I made half my goal in one transaction when an elderly lady bought almost $300 worth of candles and accessories. My coworker helped her out by carrying the lady’s bags to her SUV.

Although I really don’t like being a salesman, I have discovered I have a certain talent for it and am proud of all the sales I’ve made for the company. To date, I've sold three (3) personalized candles and am really proud of that (technically I've sold four, but because I had trouble printing out the label for the fourth one my boss took credit for that one).

At any rate, it’s been a pretty positive experience and I’m glad to have had it.

Sunday, December 3, 2017


My husband, Andrew and I recently visited central Ohio’s newest branch of Ikea which is in Columbus not too far from our Polaris Shopping Center and Tanger Outlet (so really the ideal location). We had planned to have dinner there on our way home, but wasn’t sure if we’d be shopping. However, as we arrived around 4:30pm, it was still a bit early to eat, and Andrew seemed happy to have a browse, so I never say no to that!

I’ve been to many different Ikeas throughout the years and I think my first visit was to the Bristol store in the UK. It goes without saying that almost everyone I know of my generation owns at least one piece of furniture from Ikea. If you don’t, you need to get to a store and pick yourself up a Poang chair ($99). We have two and love them both. They’re comfy and come in lots of different colors (both the pads and the wood frame). Last Christmas I picked up new cushions for one of ours and they’ve been very useful (they’re a dark gray, so doesn’t show stains like the cream colored one did).

What is one of the most fun (and also annoying) parts of visiting Ikea is going room to room, a bit like Herrod’s in London. It’s time-consuming, but kind of fun to imagine yourself living in that space. Now, I’m not someone who desires to own every last thing Ikea sells, preferring to collect pieces from thrift stores and antique shops (and Target if I’m honest) to create my own unique collection. However, if given a chance to spend a night in Ikea, I would absolutely jump at the chance. It’s only too bad none of the plumbing is hooked up because that would make for an absolutely perfect experience.

There’s a scene in one of my favorite movies, “The 500 Days of Summer” where a young couple spend the day at Ikea joking around pretending they live there.

There’s also a book set in an Ikea store called Horrorstör. According to

“A traditional haunted house story in a thoroughly contemporary setting, Horrorstör comes packaged in the form of a glossy mail order catalog, complete with product illustrations, a home delivery order form, and a map of Orsk’s labyrinthine showroom. It’s “a treat for fans of The Evil Dead or Zombieland, complete with affordable solutions for better living.”—Kirkus Reviews

Something strange is happening at the Orsk furniture superstore in Cleveland, Ohio. Every morning, employees arrive to find broken Kjerring bookshelves, shattered Glans water goblets, and smashed Liripip wardrobes. Sales are down, security cameras reveal nothing, and store managers are panicking.
To unravel the mystery, three employees volunteer to work a nine-hour dusk-till-dawn shift. In the dead of the night, they’ll patrol the empty showroom floor, investigate strange sights and sounds, and encounter horrors that defy the imagination.”

I think what I like most about some of the spaces, especially this time of year (I seem to go either in the summer or fall), is the coziness of the rooms. As more and more people embrace the whole tiny house movement, maybe this will be the size of rooms in the future. Anyway, as I was walking around I gathered inspiration and hope to try and liven things up a bit around our house (hopefully using some of what we already have to keep the shopping trips to a minimum).

By the way, their signature meatball meal is definitely worth getting. You get like a dozen meatballs, mashed potatoes, a side of veggies, and a scoop of Lingonberries. It’s always quite filling, though we usually power through so we can get dessert. This time we shared a small pink marzipan covered pastry of some sort.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Saturday, November 18, 2017

A Review of "Wonderstruck"

I went to see this movie on Wednesday to escape the smell of paint fumes (our basement had just been painted top to bottom) and the gray, dreary, weather was a perfect excuse to escape reality for a couple hours. It was just me and one other lady,* so we pretty much had a private showing. I only wish I was sociable enough to approach her and sit next to her, but movie watching can be such a solo activity.

“Wonderstruck” is another Brian Selznick (“Hugo”) masterpiece. The movie was about young Ben, circa 1978 and young Rose circa early 20th century (just before movies added sound) and how their worlds eventually collide in New York City.

The official summary says this: “Ben and Rose are children from two different eras who secretly wish that their lives were different. Ben longs for the father he's never known, while Rose dreams of a mysterious actress whose life she chronicles in a scrapbook. When Ben discovers a puzzling clue and Rose reads an enticing headline, they both set out on epic quests to find what they're missing.”

I had read that this movie hired a lot of deaf actors, which was part of the appeal, and a few of the non-deaf actors also learned some ASL as well, some of which I could follow. The  movie had the same sense of whimsy and childhood innocence as “The Invention of Hugo Cabret,” (though, to be honest, I think I much prefer “Hugo Cabret”) and I could definitely recommend it, though I thought it was frustrating trying to read lips in all the scenes involving young Rose getting yelled at by thoughtless hearing adults. I guess I can better sympathize with how truly deaf people must feel a lot of the time (I am hard of hearing, but not that severely).

* We chatted afterwards and she said she had once taken an ASL class as well (at OSU I think) and was now a retired office worker. Although she didn’t much care for the ending, she said she’s a big fan of Brian Selznick and had the record containing the kids choir recording of “Ground Control to Major Tom” which was played while the credits rolled.

Monday, November 13, 2017

review of "The Florida Project"

The colorfulness of this film is somewhat reminiscent of Wes Anderson, but the plot is more like a reality show.

The movie is set in Orlando, not far from Disney World in the “less desirable” part of the city. There are two hotels – one called Future World (with a scaled down rocket near the sign)
and the other called (something like) Disney Village? (painted entirely in lavender).

“The Florida Project” is a glimpse into the lives of three children (all around 7 or 8 years old): Moonee (who lives in Disney Village), Scooty (who lives in the apartment below Moonee), and Jancey (a new friend who lives at Future World) as they spend their summer vacation doing what children do – sharing an ice cream cone, sitting in the shade trying to keep cool, and occasionally wreaking havoc on the other tenants.

William Dafoe is the hotel manager, Bobby, who seems to have a soft spot for the children. There’s a cute scene in the movie trailer where Bobby allows Moonee and Scooty to share an ice cream cone inside the lobby until one of them drips some on the floor. Bobby isn’t always so tolerant of the tenants’ misdeeds and has to call the police when an unusual amount of visitors are seen coming from some of the rooms (drugs, prostitution, etc.).

Almost everyone can recall the carefree days of their youth and how they spent their summer vacation, but most of us didn’t get up to the shenanigans of these three kids (spoiler alert – a felony is committed in a very big way).

When discussing the film afterwards, my husband and I were hesitant to say we “enjoyed” the film, though there are certainly some enjoyable moments. At times you just want to slap Moonee’s mother as it’s difficult to sympathize with her.
You have to feel for her kid who lives a life of both financial and moral poverty, and who will probably grow up to be just like her mother.