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Black Friday Finale

This year was my last year of driving into Grove City for Black Friday shopping.  The dollar just doesn’t make it worth it anymore and I have zero desire to spend all my hard earned money in a Trump-run America! This year was very different then past years.  I started this tradition going with my boyfriend at the time.  Alvin and I would shop for hours on end until he was literally dragging me back to the car – me a little delirious.  After we broke up, I went with my sister-in-law Tammy and my best friend Kristi.  We also shopped until we literally dropped, laughing the whole time and having a great time!  After that Tammy and I went, just the two of us together having sister bonding time for the past 4 years.  This year, Tammy could not make it and I had the option of not going or going alone.  I am independent, I like my own company, so I packed the car and headed south to border!  I did the 48 hour trip (Thursday-Saturday) with just me, my camera and my wallet and I had an amazing time!  I did all the usual things in the usual order, just alone and I was completely okay with that!  This being my last year, I feel like I have perfected the art of the successful Black Friday trip and now that it is over, I am going to share all my tips with you!

  • ALWAYS BOOK YOU HOTEL MONTHS IN ADVANCE:

Hotels book up really quick for Black Friday, especially the ones within walking distance of the outlet.  I have always started looking around the end of February/beginning of March and I usually spend around $100-$120/night (remember this is America’s Thanksgiving, prices are inflated) at the Best Western that is right across the street from the outlet. I also always request a room close to an entrance.  You don’t want to be dragging all those bags and luggage’s up stairs or down long hallways. Save your strength, you will be exhausted by the time you finish shopping and will not want to carry all those bags any further than you already have.   You can risk booking later, but I have tried again in July/August to find nothing available.  The earlier you book the better – trust me!

  • PLAN EVERYTHING:

Because I know I am going to the outlet, I print off a directory and start highlighting stores I need to hit and stores I wouldn’t mind hitting up if I have time.  I also write out my Christmas list and start thinking about stores that will have what I need.  I go to the bank and get my American money (which is the heart breaking part) and put it in a separate wallet with my passport and shopping list.  I pack very lightly with layers because I don’t want to wear a heavy coat when the weather has never been THAT bad that I regretted not having that coat with me.  I check and double check everything because I would hate to be in the States missing something. I also make sure to get the addresses for everywhere I plan on going and writing them down.  I have a GPS and my phone GPS as back up – getting lost is NOT an option.

  • AGREE WITH YOUR TRAVELING PARTNER WHAT YOUR PLANS ARE

Thankfully my sister-in-law is a good follower.  She kind of lets me lead and goes where I go and does what I want to do.  I drive which makes it easy for me!   I can’t imagine if I went with someone who wanted to go somewhere totally off plan that I did not want to go to and did not want to drive to.  There isn’t that much around Grove City, so adding on the cost of gas to go somewhere off plan would drive me (personally) nuts.  The more flexible you are, the better!

  • LEAVE EARLY

I always leave the city by 9:30 at the latest.  I get gas the night before and head out on the planned route.  I always stop by Tim Hortons and grab a tea by my house and I stop in Niagara (usually around 11:30 at this point) to grab lunch (Wendy’s- junior cheeseburger) and a bathroom break.  I make it to the border around noon and I have never had more than 5 cars in front of me thanks to leaving at the right time!  I stop again in Angola NY on the hwy I-90 for another bathroom break and usually buy a bottle of water (yes this doesn’t help my bathroom breaks, but I get so dehydrated from driving so long). My next stop is my hotel in Grove City!  I arrive between 2:30-3:00 with enough time to prepare, nap and watch some TV!  The outlets opened at 6:00 pm this year – I went at 5:30 and sat in my car because I wanted a good parking spot so I would be able to dump my bags (see next bullet) without walking so far.

  • BRING A LARGE SUITCASE LADIES

Who wants to be stuck carrying bags (especially me who buys a lot)?  I bring a large empty suitcase that has wheels and when I buy something I put the bag in the suitcase – VOILA! No bags to carry.  I just roll my suitcase around, making sure to not run into anyone.  After I have a full suitcase I go to my car and empty the bags into the trunk and start all over again.  Once I have finished half the outlet, I drive to a different spot and continue my routine.

  • EAT AND DRINK

I always start off at the food court.  I eat an Arbys roast beef sandwich with a pop to drink to give me a sugar/carb boost.  I also buy a bottle of water to carry around because Lord knows I will get thirsty shopping.

  • TAKE YOUR TIME

Don’t rush.  I don’t go to the box stores because the idea of rushing and pushing and fighting isn’t appealing.  I have never seen this happen at the outlets.  People stroll.  They walk in and out of stores, they are polite even, holding doors, stepping aside for people to pass, and I try and lead by example.  I am patient.  This is not a time to be inpatient.  If you are, you will work yourself up and be stressed.  You have planned and prepared, don’t ruin it now.

  • GET A GOOD NIGHT SLEEP

I shop from 6:00 until about 10:00-10:30.  I am back to my hotel by 11:00 and asleep shortly afterwards.  You have another full day of driving and shopping ahead of you – why stay up when you really don’t need to.

  • TAKE INVENTORY OF WHAT YOU HAVE BOUGHT

When I get back to my hotel, I empty my bags, collect all the receipts and put everything I have bought into piles, one pile for each person I have shopped for and one pile of things I have bought myself.  The things I have bought myself I pack into my suitcase and everything else I write down.  I check off that list I packed and see if there is anything else I NEED to buy.  My goal is to always my needs completed the first night so the next day can be the fun stuff, the one-offs.

The next day you are going to start all over again, but by following the above points, you should have an ideal second day of shopping.  Take your time, have a plan, make sure to eat and drink enough to keep your energy up.  Black Friday shopping can be an adventure – it can be fun!  You can find some great deals IF you are prepared and take your time.

Anything else you want to know?  Send me your questions, I will answer each one!

It was a great decade of Christmas shopping, now I will have to do it in Canada – most likely online – I hate malls!

Enjoy my dears!

Love Nicole

 

 

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I’ve made a difficult, heartbreaking decision

I was really hoping that I would be able to do another cycle of IUI this month – get myself back on the baby making train that wasn’t for 2014.  However, I got my period the day before I left for Black Friday shopping meaning my day 3 ultrasound would have been on Friday when I wasn’t in the country.  Even if they allowed me to do the day 2 or 4 instead, I would still have been in Grove City P.A so I was screwed.  It’s almost like it was God telling me this month was not to be.  Of the 30 days in November, Wednesday was the ONE day that under no circumstances could I get it because my mandatory ultrasound wouldn’t have been possible and of course Wednesday I woke up to Mother Nature screaming at me.

Disappointed isn’t even the right word – especially since my period was 10 days late.

So I started thinking…how long do I want to go through this?  How long can I put my body physically and emotionally through this – let alone the bank account?!!?

My heart and my head immediately came up with the same date.  December 31st, 2015.  If by that date I am not pregnant I will no longer try.  I will give up this dream.  I will let it go.  It may kill me, it may cause some extremely rough days and nights, but as an (SMC) I can only do so much.  I am going to do everything in my power to get pregnant next year and if it is meant to be than I will have a little boy or a little girl either with me celebrating Christmas, or growing in my belly, giving me the perfect excuse to have a second helping of Turkey on Christmas Day!

This decision has not been easy, nor will the other million decisions I need to make in my life, but at least it is my decision and my decision alone.  It doesn’t hurt or help anyone.  A lot can change between now and then too.  Maybe I finally meet Mr. Right instead of the many Mr. Wrongs of 2014, but that I have no control of either.  So I can control this decision, this one choice is mine to make and I have made it.  This blog may change in content since I refuse to stress over the inevitable, and I want to actually enjoy next year – because let’s face it, I have not truly enjoyed very much this year, but I hope you all stick around for the next 13 months to see what it brings – the good, the great and even the possible bad.

Thank you all for you support thus far

Love

Nicole

4

How this Canadian celebrates (American) Thanksgiving

7 years ago, the ex brought me to Buffalo, NY during the craziest time of the year – BLACK FRIDAY. We shopped, ate, drove around, saw the sights, celebrated our anniversary and shopped some more.  It was hectic, intense and busy.  The next year, we did the same thing.  The year after that we drove even farther down the road to Grove City P.A with a quick stop in Pittsburgh where we did all of the above and more.  Even after the year we broke up I wanted to keep up the tradition because it was one I truly enjoyed, so I brought my best friend and sister-in-law and every year since, Tammy and I have gone to Grove City to spend our hard-earned money on ourselves and Christmas presents.

This year will be no exception.  We have our room booked with the Holiday Inn and my car is gassed up, winter tires on and oil is changed!

Now all I need is my print out of the stores at the outlet and what time they open Thursday night (some open prior to Midnight – which is great cause now I don’t need to stay awake as long because the older I get, the harder it is to stay awake for 24 hours!)

My sister and I will head out Thursday morning around 10 am to make the 4-4.5 hour drive during non-rush hour times and check into the hotel just before 3:00.  After that we will drive to the BP gas station down the street which has a Subway Sandwich shop inside (the ONLY place open on Thanksgiving) and order our dinner for the evening.  We will drive our car across the street to the outlets, park and walk back to the hotel.  We do this because parking is next to impossible at night so this way we have prime parking when we are done our shopping (and to empty our goodies as our hands fill up).

Once back at the hotel, we will warm up, eat our Sub and watch the Jeff Dunham comedy show (it’s been on the last two years in a row so I ASSUME it will be on again).  We will take a nap (cause really when you START shopping at 10 pm, you need a nap), and wake up just before we need to leave to catch the shuttle to the outlets.

We strategically shop the back half of the outlet, dump our bags in the car and then drive around the whole outlet to the other end to find parking (guys it’s a REALLY long outlet).

We shop the top end of the mall and usually by this point we are both a bit delirious so we start to get really silly.  Standing seems an impossible task and waiting in line starts to feel brutal even though the lineups are down to a mere few minutes and at the top of the night it can be up to 30-40 minutes long. I’m usually singing or dancing to the Christmas music playing nostalgically in the background and Tammy is following me around like a poor puppy to tired and cold to complain.

Why do we do it – because we can.  Because it’s fun.  Because it’s our time together.  Because we finish our Christmas shopping in one weekend.  Because it’s crazy.

BECAUSE WE ARE THANKFUL.

Love

Nicole

2

The most wonderful weekend of the year

For the past 6-7 years I have fallen completely, absolutely in love with one weekend.  Now as a Canadian you would think it is Canada day weekend – nope, sorry Canada!!  It’s actually the American Thanksgiving…(please don’t shun me)  Why you ask…is it the turkey…nope!  The family get togethers…nope!

 

IT’S THE BLACK FRIDAY SHOPPING

 

My ex and I started this shopping tradition in Buffalo NY when we first started dating and every year since – even after we broke up (I just changed my shopping partner in crime) – I have continued this amazing tradition! 

On Thursday morning, my sister-in-law Tammy and I drove up to Grove City, PA where we have gone the past two years.  Singing to the XM radio channel 90’s on 9, we headed out on the road, got through the border with no problems and even made it through the crazy Erie PA snow belt where the snow threatened to slow us down (the snow needs to realize we are ladies on a mission). 

Four and a half hours later we made it to our hotel safe and sound, checking in and crashing into our rooms with a plan! 

We drove over to the Subway down the street (the only place open on Thanksgiving day before the shops open).  Oh ya – it’s in a gas station…total class!  After we grabbed our food, we drove across the street, parked the car in the outlet parking lot and walked the 15 minutes back to our hotel, grateful the weather held up and it wasn’t so cold or windy.  

Getting back to our warm room, we ate and passed out cold for a couple of hours hoping to encourage our bodies to function throughout the night while we shopped! 

When we woke up, we realized Maid in Manhattan was on TV, so we spent the night watching that and then headed out for our Shopping Bonanza!  

At 11:15 we made it to the outlets by shuttle and began what was to be an epic trip of massive shopping proportions!  We always have a plan and we always execute it perfectly!  That’s what over 6 years of doing this has done…made me a Black Friday shopping expert!  

We completed our first round of shopping around 6:00 am, after feeling a bit whacked out and crazy racing back to the hotel before the sun rose.  After lugging in our purchases we passed out cold again, but only for a few hours.  Breakfast at the Eat and Park is delicious and was calling out our names.  In Canada, you are lucky to get a huge plate of food and refillable coffee for $12-$20.  At the E&P – $6.00!!  I had Chocolate chip pancakes with whipped butter and syrup and three sausage patties on the side with two coffees for $6.21.  MY GOD THANK YOU!!  We were beginning to feel human again! 

Heading back to the hotel we organized our bags from the night before and figured out what was left to buy.  The outlets were open to nine so around 4 we went back, shopped again and went back to the E&P for dinner. 

Dinner was almost as scrumptous as breakfast was.  I had a baked shrimp parmesan pasta dish with garlic bread and coke.  Tammy and I shared a Molten Lava Cake and we went back to our hotel full and exhausted, barely able to keep our eyes open to watch the Harry Potter marathon that was playing.  We slept…almost 10 hours…it was great. 

The next day, after checking out and heading back to the E&P for another breakfast (where chocolate chip pancakes and hash browns were ordered and devoured) we drove the 45 minutes to Pittsburgh where we went to my favourite store in the whole wide world… 

DSW!!!!!! 

Yep it was time to shoe shop!  I bought four pairs while my sister slid in with three!  We found the Wal-Mart Super store down the street and then started the five-hour trek back to Toronto.  Of course we had to go through the border…always a *fun* experience. 

We managed to pull into my driveway close to 8:00 at night which was great and I was able to arrange my purchases and presents and start a load of laundry, climbing into bed around 10:00 excited to pick up my dog from my friend’s place the next morning! 

This may sound like three days of torture to some of you…I am sure it is for certain people.  But three days with my favourite person, shopping and eating is a small pleasure I benefit from every year and will continue to do so as often as I can!

Love

Nicole