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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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50% off!? Yes please!

My mom took me to the one place that has become dangerous thanks to my colleague and scrapbooking friend Sarah – MICHAEL’S!!

***cue scary music****

Mom needed to exchange some wool for a blanket she’s making me – thanks mom! And I was armed with … Wait for it …

A 50% off one item coupon!!!!

Oh mylanta! I have been wanting a 3X4 card punch for my 2015 promise of a Project life album. And with this coupon in hand I walked in…knowing I’d behave because Sarah said she’d take me on Boxing Day to really prepare for this dramatic task.

If you don’t know what Project life is then you are not into scrapbooking or Pinterest because its everywhere! I tried to do it this year because this was a crazy, fun-filled, lessons learned kind of year but I got overwhelmed and stopped. This year it is my promise to
not only do it but to finish it and display some of it on here. I am still praying that the new year will bring about a new baby so this is a perfect year to get it going on!

Stay tuned…ill be scraping and punching with my new card punch in hand!

Love
Nicole

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The non-baby blues

On Monday it will have been a month, a month since I moved out of my family home and into my forever home.  Life hasn’t exactly gone as planned.  Everything has taken longer than expected, everything has cost more than expected and that sneaky little depression bug that I was ignoring for so long has come right up and bit me hard in the ass – oh ya and the ass is no better and I’m sick of that too!

1. A lot of my friends have offered to help me move and I have taken a few of them up on it.  However this hasn’t been easy.  Weekends are busy for everyone and getting stuff from Scarborough to Ajax during the week is next to impossible unless you do it later at night and with Simba I don’t want to be gone all evening.

The thing that has been sad is not the people who have offered but the people who haven’t.  I was hoping that my move would be an amazing few days of giggles with my closest bff’s and people teasing me and making me laugh, but that didn’t happen.  It was a disappointment and that sucks.

I have a lot of boxes that can’t be unpacked due to a lack of shelving (see below) and a lack of time to unpack the ones that can.

2. My backyard’s grating is all off – which of course being under 6 feet of snow when I bought the house I would never have known.  There is no water seeping into the house – yet – but I need to get this taken care of ASAP!  Thankfully my friends Jeff and Travis have scheduled me into their busy work schedules and will take care of this for me, but it will be costly!

Shelving is expensive.  I was hoping I could buy some cheap white or dark wood shelves so I could put all my books, DVD’s and photo albums away but that isn’t happening.  They are MASSIVELY expensive…I was hoping like $20-$40 each…try more like $70-$170 each and that’s from WALMART!  Of course all the bills are coming in as well so I had to turn to my dads accounts which my brother and I also haven’t taken care of yet – one more thing to do..

3. Living alone, with just a dog is lonely.  It’s been lonely since my dad died and somehow moving has emphasised that loneliness even though I see my Durham friends and my cousin and mom more often than I did before the move.  In reality I have been lonely since before my dad passed.  I mean really – we were okay company for each other, but we had no common interests.  There is a difference between a dads company and a friend or partners company.  I am starting Yoga on Monday night to hopefully relax my mind and keep me busy at least one day of the week.

I have been putting off my next insemination because A) I’m feeling anxious more so lately and B) I can’t handle any more disappointments right now and the first four times were all failures – the fifth has given me no reason to believe it will be a success.  So I am putting it on hold right now.  I don’t have any money to spend on pregnancy attempts that will almost surely be failures *at least with my attitude*.

I am not feeling fulfilled lately – in any area of my life, I don’t know what will be the thing that makes it better, but so far my frustration levels are easily tilted. I hope to have more positive blogs in the near future – but right now…you’ll have to deal with me this way

Love

Nicole

 

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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

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Home Sweet Home – or is it??

I knew when my father passed away in July that I would not continue living in his house. His memory surrounds me every day, strangles my existence, makes it difficult to breathe.   I have talked about it extensively in the past, both here and on my previous site (www.nikilee30.wordpress.com) but last night I took action.  

My realtor (John) set up some appointments and we made the 20 minute drive out to Pickering to look a variety of homes.  We looked at condo town homes, freehold  town homes and large, single family homes.  I was so excited when we began this process that, even though I still felt ill, I wanted to do this.  I wanted an idea of what was out there in my price range, with my insanely high standards. 

Well – let me tell you, it ain’t much! 

The first home we looked at was a condo town home and that was the best of the bunch.  It was newer, clean, modern and had space galore!  It was almost too much space (four floors inc. the basement – really, as a mother…no).  I left there on a high. 

The second and third and fourth homes we looked at made me quickly lose my smile.  They were older, not so clean and nowhere near what I would consider “modern”.  The fifth home was alright – but FULLY carpeted.  I have a dog people; no way is my home being carpeted.  It was newly carpeted too – I was a bit shocked – carpet is so five years ago.  Why would they put new carpet in an entire home??  Bizarre.  

The last house was alright – nothing special, nothing great, nothing horrible.  I need to have at least some great things to say about a home before I even consider spending hundreds of thousands of dollars.  

All in all, it was a disappointment.  I know John will take care of me though.  He’s the best there is.  I have faith in him and his abilities and the market.  I will find a home, a home I love where Koko Bean, Simba and I will live happily ever after…where we will grow and learn and enjoy life together…sounds nice… 

Love

Nicole