Monday, July 16, 2012

Good Company

I spent the first half of last week in Chicago attending a conference for work. I coincidentally, stayed at the Hyatt downtown, just a few blocks away from Nordstroms.  After having dinner with some friends, I paid my favorite department store a visit.

Let me back up a minute.  As long I as know what I’m looking for, I like shopping. I'm best shopping solo.  And I prefer to shop anywhere but New York City.  Surprisingly, Nordstroms doesn’t exist in NYC.  Which is fine by me, because if it did, it would be a picked over and crowded mess, just like every other store in the city.

This Nordstroms was clean, chock full of shiny things, calming and empty.  First, I checked out the shoe department for shoes for Kelly’s wedding but didn’t find anything, and then headed to the kids section for Colette’s flower girl dress but didn’t see anything in an acceptable price or fabric (I have a no baby in tulle rule).  Next, I checked out the athletic wear department and found a much-needed running hat, and lastly ended up in the lingerie department. 

As I was looking around and a sales associate asked if I needed help.  She asked me my bra size and I stumbled. She offered take my measurements.  I’ve never been professionally fitted for a bra and it was something I had always wanted to do, so I accepted her offer.

She educated me on the proper way a bra should fit, ‘cause I had it all wrong.  For example, I’ve always worn my bras on the tightest hook with the understanding that I as got fatter; I would have room to expand.  However, apparently bras are like leather shoes and stretch-out over time.  She said I should wear the bra on the furthest hook and over time as it stretches, move inward.  I get it now!

Once I was properly fitted (I was way off) she ran back and forth bringing me things to try on while I stayed put in the dressing room. It was awesome and I ended up getting some nice new underthings, which fit, thanks to their incredible service.  I left there an even bigger fan of Nordstroms while pondering my “ah ha” bra moment.

In addition to Nordstroms, these are my favorite places to shop:

Target – Love it, just not the one in Brooklyn.
Etsy – The sellers are truly passionate about their work and it shows.
Amazon – Makes city-livin’ and big-spendin’ easy. Too easy.
1-800-Contacts – Great prices and customer service.
Fresh Direct – Not so great prices, but great produce and service.
Trader Joes – Wish I had one in my ‘hood.
Moosejaw – Outdoor gear company with huge sense of humor. I buy shit, just to interact with them.
Marshalls – Their dressing room dust-bunnies are as big as the savings. Fucking huge.
Penguin - For Jeff. 

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Hot Wheels

In New York City, a car is not a necessity and more often than not, it’s more of a hassle and expense than it’s worth. I sold my car, a VW Passat, when I moved to the city and haven’t had a car since.  I’m proud that I do not own a car and I’m an advocate of public transportation. We’ve been traveling back and forth between NY and CT for over seven years using public transportation and for the most part, it’s been great.

We go to CT at least once a month to see family and friends usually for a party, since aomeone is always having a party. For example, in the past year we’ve attended a road-race party, a jewelry party, a house-warming party, snow-storm party, and a wine-tasting party. And that’s in addition to all the holidays we celebrate in CT, too.

For the first three years in the city we took Metro North from Grand Central to New Haven, CT.  From there, one of our parents picked us up and then drove us the 45 minutes to West Hartford. The cost, $15.00 for a one-way ticket, is a bargain.  However, it’s annoying for all in involved, especially our parents. Once we had a little bit more expendable cash, we upgraded to Amtrak, and never looked back.

We want this car!

Now, as we have for the past four years, we take Amtrak from Penn Station to directly to Hartford.  Our parents (god help them) still pick us up in Hartford, but it’s only about 10 minutes drive home.  If we buy the tickets in advance and use our AAA discount we can usually get one-way tickets for under $30.00.

Amtrak, is efficient (except, when it’s running late), comfortable and clean.  Let’s not forget, that they make one great microwavable burger (don’t knock it, until you try it) and have a nice wine selection (half-bottles, for one, woo woo!).  Jeff and I would have Friday night “date-nights” on the train over a glass of wine and just talk, play scrabble or read side by side.  Colette had her first train ride at a month old and has been a great passenger ever since. I recommend it as a way for any new parent, or anyone for that matter, to travel.

Unfortunately, as Colette gets bigger and more mobile, it’s getting less great.  She will soon outgrow an infant car seat and need a toddler-sized, non-portable one which is difficult, if not impossible, to take on Amtrak and the subway.  We often want to bring with us more than we can carry, and have to either ship stuff home or wait until a family member from CT can visit and bring us whatever we left behind.  Also, I’m almost 30 and even though she never complains, I’m tired of asking my Mom for rides. 

Colette wants this car!

Going home less often is not an option, buying a car is. We’ve compared the costs of owning a car versus leasing, renting, sharing (Zipcar) and puplic transportation and it’s certainly not going to save us money, but I think it will save us some time and sanity, both things we also value.

We are on the hunt for a 2007-2009 Honda CR-V, and its incredibly hard to find a car to buy when you don’t have a car to begin with.  Until then, we'll be playing scrabble and eating microwaved burgers on Amtrak.