GA-GA FOR IKEA
I played hooky this morning, but in all the pageantry, I’m sure I wasn’t missed.
I received an invite to a press preview of the new Fishers IKEA store. And I didn’t go.
I’m sure many of my friends are aghast at the news. For years now, several of my home-girls have said we simply must make the trek to the Cincinnati store, the nearest to central Indiana--until now. But as quickly as the group got excited about the idea, we realized taking a van full would be pointless. We would simply want to buy too many things and there would be no space for any of it. It's akin to why be a kid in a candy store if you can't taste anything?
One of my friends has redecorated her house beautifully in recent years and whenever a particular cool furnishing or sparkling chandelier is pointed out in her home, it’s the same response: “IKEA!”
So why in the world would I pass on a press pass to this wonderland for home furnishings and clever storage ideas? Plus a complimentary Swedish breakfast buffet? Timing. It’s everything.
I’ve got evening obligations away from home three nights this week, including coordinating tonight’s her magazine for women holiday recipe contest at The Courier-Times. Tomorrow I’ll be late covering the Extension Homemakers County Club Night. I spent half of Sunday making noodles as a service project and Monday was work and Bible Study Fellowship that night. All good stuff, fun stuff, even. But an ultra busy week.
Driving to Indy for the morning, then to New Castle in the afternoon to prepare and oversee the contest put me over the top in scheduling. So I’ve spent the morning catching up on bill-paying and other household chores on hold since our vacation. There will be some errands this afternoon. It was a two-eggs-over-easy breakfast for me today instead of the interesting-sounding Swedish fare. Sigh.
Sometimes we need a break in the action, even if it comes at the cost of an interesting free meal, a sneak peek at the 45th IKEA store in the nation and the “I can’t believe you didn’t go” comments from my friends.
Even Brian says he’s got to see this place he's heard so much about! Meanwhile, IKEA marketing has put together some incentives for those who can’t wait to be first on the scene at the new store when it opens on Oct. 11. How long would you wait in line?
The opening-day, Wednesday, Oct. 11 ceremony includes State Rep. Todd Huston raising the U.S. flag, Hon. Swedish Vice Consul Anna Engstrom Patel raising the Swedish flag and State Sen. Victoria Spartz hoisting the Indiana state flag.
Store employees will sing the respective American and Swedish national anthems and America the Beautiful prior to opening remarks. Entertainment for customers waiting in line begins at 6 a.m.
Incentives, according to a Fishers store release:
-- The first 45 adults (18 & older) in IKEA Fishers on Oct. 11 will receive a free EKTORP three-seat sofa, honoring our 45th U.S. store.
-- The next 100 adults (18 & older) will receive a free POÄNG armchair.
-- The first 100 children (17 & younger) will receive a free FAMNIG heart-shaped soft toy.
-- The first 2,500 adults (18 & older) will receive a random prize envelope with IKEA Gift Cards ranging from $10 to $250, or a “Buy One, Get One Free” cinnamon bun, hotdog or soft-serve frozen yogurt voucher.
-- The first 100 adults (18 & older) bringing proof that their birthday is the same as the store’s will receive a gift card in the amount of $45, a tie-in corresponding to IKEA Fishers as the 45th U.S. IKEA store.
-- From Oct. 11-15, visitors may enter for a chance to win one of 20 $250 IKEA Gift Cards through the IKEA FAMILY loyalty program. IKEA is matching twice the amount of the prizes (a total of $10,000) with a donation of home furnishings to Dayspring Center, a local organization that meets the basic needs of homeless families seeking assistance and helps them realize their potential.
So what do you think? Do you plan to get there early to win a prize, or will you wait until later? What are your impressions of IKEA? Have you been to other IKEAs? Or, is IKEA not even on your radar?
A CHAIRY TALE AND THE TWO BEARS
Once upon a time there was a beautiful young woman. Well, she wasn't exactly beautiful, and she wasn’t particularly young. As a matter of fact, she was more like plump, average looking, and of a grandmotherly age. Her name was Mama Bear.
She and Papa Bear decided it was time to get her a new chair. She wore out her old chair from too many years in it writing nursery rhymes. OK, they weren’t nursery rhymes, but they were storybooks all the same, and log updates, and Facebear posts, and presentations for other mama bears who also lived in the woods, and articles for The Woodsier Times.
She was excited to go into a local furniture store. But of all the chairs she tried there, they were too big, or too small, or too expensive, or too fluffy, or too non-fluffy.
The same was true at the next store, and the next, and the next, and even at the next, and at the one after that. There was not a single chair in all the land that was just right. Mama Bear felt discouraged.
There must be something wrong with her, she told Papa Bear, because it shouldn’t be that hard to find a chair that is just right. She knew this was a first-world problem, and she felt guilty complaining about finding a perfect chair when so many other bears in the great woods beyond them had no chairs at all.
Papa Bear was the pragmatic sort. He was tired of looking at chairs so he growled at Mama Bear. “How difficult can it be to find a chair that suits you?” asked Papa Bear. “I can walk into any store in the land and find a chair I like.”
And so Papa Bear did just that. Only when he got it home, he sat in his chair and frowned. “This chair is too short when I lean back,” he said in a sad voice. “I don’t like it.”
But as the weeks passed, Papa Bear came to love the chair he picked out for himself. “It grew on me or I grew into it,” he said happily. But he was sad that Mama Bear still had no chair.
Her old chair went to meet its maker, and Papa Bear’s old chair was taken away to the Goodbear store. Mama Bear had no place to plop her furry behind.
Then one day Papa Bear said, "Let's go back to one of the stores we visited and look again."
So they did. Mama Bear was amazed. She spotted a chair that was not too big, nor too small, nor too fluffy, nor too non-fluffy. It was just right! The only thing wrong with it was that she didn’t like the fabric. “Too mod,” she told Papa Bear. She was an old-fashioned kind of bear.
But the store people said she could have that chair in an old-fashioned fabric, and the people gave her many choices of material. So she picked out a fabric she liked and ordered her new chair.
Then she waited.
And waited some more.
One day her chair arrived and Papa Bear picked it up to surprise her when she returned from her work at The Woodsier Times.
But there was a new problem. The chair came in two parts. The two bears had to attach the back to the seat and after an hour of trying as hard as they might, and saying words that should not appear in a chairy tale, they were angry.
The bars on which they needed to fit the back were too tightly pressed into the sides of the chair. What could they do? The chair might have to go back to the store. Mama Bear might not get her chair after all.
She might never find a chair and she would have to do her writing … where?
But wait! Papa Bear had an idea! He found two crowbars in his bear cave! He had never used a crowbar before in his life but, his own Papa, Grandpapa Bear, had once told him when he was just a cub that they would come in handy one day. The cub who became Papa Bear didn’t believe him, but once again, he was still finding out things in life about which his own Papa was right. This was one of them. The day had come for those crowbars to come in handy, after all.
Papa Bear used the tools to hold the steel bars in place so the back would slide on. It did! It slid right on. The two bears rejoiced!
“Why do we make simple tasks so hard, sometimes?” Mama Bear asked while finally sitting in her new chair next to Papa Bear in his.
“I don’t know, Mama, but sometimes that is just how we roll,” said Papa Bear with a chuckle as he settled into his new chair for a long winter's nap.
Finally, they could laugh about their experience finding the right chairs. At long last, Mama Bear had her new chair. And there she wrote happily ever after.
SHOES AND HANDBAGS
I have always had a thing for purses. Shoes, I can take or leave, and that means generally leave.
Still, I’m nothing if not optimistic. The other day I visited a major department store in Indy and walked through the shoe department thinking maybe I would find a pair of summer sandals to light up my spring and twinkle my toes.
There were a lot of shoes to choose from, and I hated them all.
They had chunky sandals with mile-high platforms, Elton John style. I’d fall off them and twist an ankle just trying them on.
There were stilettos. My body type perched atop stilettos? Umm, no. Plus, how does one walk in the real world where there are sidewalk cracks, gravel, and lots of standing or heaven forbid, hurrying, in heels with the density of a match stick?
There were flats. I can’t do those AT. ALL.
I couldn’t walk in any of these shoes! They all seemed like cartoon versions of footwear.
Where do they keep the shoes women really wear to walk in, I wondered. The nitty-gritty question is Where do they keep the shoes for 58-year-old, plump women with bad feet?
I guess that would be the orthopedics department, which is not found near the entrance of a fancy department store. And those shoes are just as ugly as the department store’s are impractical.
Whatever bad luck I have with shoe shopping, I more than make up for when it comes to handbags. I am extremely picky and have my own unique criteria depending on if the bag is for daily use or travel. Even with my particular standards, I still find plenty to adopt.
Still, I’ve only had one perfect travel purse. I found it, ironically, in a mega-shoe store three years ago. It was one of those moments when I knew I had to buy it although it wasn’t on my shopping list just then. But experience has taught that if I see exactly what I need or anticipate needing, I should get it if the cost is at all reasonable because when the time comes, it won’t be found anywhere.
On the day I spotted the ideal travel purse, I was six months out from my first overseas trip, and needed a purse that had these things going for it:
So I bought the perfect travel purse, black. I bought it for the trip and it was perfection on a strap. Its travel credentials include Israel, Michigan, Minneapolis, Washington, D.C. along with other smaller trips whenever I need free hands, ready access to my stash, and a secure means of carriage.
While the fashionable shoe department was a disappointment this week, the handbag department was not. I looked around for a possible summer version of my ideal travel bag. I knew I would know it when I saw it.
And just like that, there it was! A duplicate of my black travel bag – only in white for summer. It was also on sale.
I now have twin purses.
Oh, if only shoes were that easy.
A SPECIAL THANK YOU …
Shout out to the 100-year-old Valley Mills Friends Meeting Booklovers book club in Indianapolis. I received a surprise invitation yesterday from Merilee Gabriel to speak to the group next month. I invited Merilee and her friends to check out my blogs. I hope they stop by and I surely welcome them.
Here’s something fun. When I asked how in the world my book came on the club’s radar, Merilee said she got my name from someone who works at Earlham College. I don’t know anyone who works there. I love hearing stories like this. For indie authors, our publicity is grass roots. I’m grateful when word spreads.
And, I look forward to our time together in April.
As I travel around Indiana, I love hitting the back roads and scoping out interesting stops in small towns. This week I was reminded, however, that often we don’t know what we have in our own back yards.
I found this true Wednesday when a couple of Brian’s work-days pals, Sandy Burns and Lois Valasek, invited me to lunch in downtown Fortville.
We met at the Foxgardin and enjoyed a fabulous, affordable meal. Lois and I had the Fortville Tenderloin sandwich which was a party in a bun, with all the fixings. Sandy had a wonderful cheese soup and she ordered a sugar cream pie slice for the three of us to sample. I noticed some scrumptious-looking salads on the table next to us. The restaurant, at 215 S. Main St., defines itself as "Kitchen. Ale." And a slogan, "eat.drink.meet."
It was Wednesday. It was 1 p.m. The main floor was packed! We walked upstairs to look around in the old downtown building. There we found a comfortable and unique bar-lounge-type setting, cozy, with unique art on the walls and black comfortable chairs. Out back is a covered patio. I was elated because this is a great new place to meet friends or take guests. Who knew?
I was amazed at the downtown vibe which is, unexpectedly to me anyway, very Mass Ave. There were several funky home-décor and unique clothing boutiques as well as a tiny sewing shop (it wasn’t open but it’s where the PINK mailbox is downtown). After our visit, I walked around and snooped through the shops. I overheard one shop owner talk about how the town had a couple of nice Mexican restaurants too.
I didn’t even realize that Fortville had a downtown, on Main Street, just west of the main drag. Until now, I associated the town with its signature pink elephant on Ind. 67 and the Dairy Queen where both boys worked years ago for a time.
Fortville is just a stone’s throw from Pendleton. I’ll be back!
This month a beautiful Pendleton home graces the cover of Indianapolis Monthly as part of a cover story about small-town homes. Sometimes we take for granted what’s right here in our own back yards.
SERENDIPITY AND GARAGE SALES
I found this rosy fabric liner for next to nothing at a garage sale and had to have it. But I had no idea why ... until I discovered it is perfect for wrapping my books for mailing. Have you ever bought something at a garage sale that turns out to perfectly meet a need you didn't know you had? Read on.
Yard sales are where we find things we didn’t know we were looking for.
That’s exactly why I enjoy them. Of course, that can mean we are hoarders. Or simply that we’re at the right place at the right time.
My favorite example happened in Attica, Indiana, in the late 1980s. For months prior to that summer day, I had my eye on what I considered my dream house – a circa-1900 Dutch Colonial-styled beauty in Veedersburg. I loved everything about it from the open foyer with the open staircase, the country kitchen that opened up into a formal dining room, the huge laundry room.
It was for sale. It was big and old and had been beautifully cared for. I loved that house. I dreamed about that house. I even stalked that house.
For months, the home remained for sale and Brian and I, along with baby Sam, looked at it several times. We made an offer, clearly too low-ball-ish to merit a counter-offer. Around Christmas, Brian made a prediction. "By spring we'll own it. They will come down. You'll see."
There was something deeper at stake than holding out for the right price. We knew that if we bought the home, we were in fact committing to staying in Fountain County, to raising Sam there, to becoming permanent Fountain Central Mustangs. I think my husband sensed that once I planted myself in that house, no one would be able to pry it out.
As long as we rented from our small but perfectly serviceable farmhouse from our adorable landlords, Howard and Fauneil Colson, we could remain free to leave, no strings attached. We hadn't even signed a contract with them! We just shook hands and promised $200 a month. It was the old-time farm way.
One day I drove by the dream house that spring, just to once again imagine what it would be like to live there, picture where I’d place the porch swing and what the Christmas tree would look like in the living room window. But I got more than I bargained for.
There was a moving truck out front! People were carrying furniture into “my” house. Only it would never be mine. There was a sold sign.
So, that was that. One dream deflated.
Still stinging from the loss of “my” house, at the Attica garage sale that summer, I spotted something I didn’t know I was looking for. It was a gorgeous Seller’s cabinet in my favorite honey-oak. It was $350. I wanted it.
Such cabinets sell in antiques shops (or at least they did then) for at least double or even triple that. It was at once a bargain and a lot of money to spend on the spur of the moment. I called Brian from the garage-sale residence. Could I buy it? I would get no pleasure out of such a purchase if it didn’t come with his blessing.
He didn’t even hesitate. He didn't tell me to offer less. He didn't tease me. Yes! Buy it!
We both know why he was so agreeable. He recognized my disappointment over not getting the house of my dreams, a house that could just have easily been ours.
I’ve never regretted getting that cabinet. It has been the focal point of all three kitchens it has adorned in our lives. And that’s not all of the story. Seller’s cabinets, as it turns out, were made in Madison County … the county that became our home after we left Fountain.
Oh, but there’s more. A few years ago I interviewed Nancy Hiller, a Bloomington high-end cabinet maker herself, who is also a writer. She wrote a book about Hoosier cabinets. When I told her my Seller’s cabinet story, she added a new layer of depth. She said the word cabinet means small cabin. So in effect, my cabin-et was the consolation prize for not getting the big cabin (house)!
In more recent years, I bought something that I had no use for, had no idea what I would do with it, and something completely unlike what I would normally purchase. It was 50 cents, maybe even a quarter.
I had to have it but didn’t know why.
It was a bolt of white fabric lining, thin and stiff, adorned with pink roses. I took it home, having no idea what I would do with it, and plopped it in the back corner of my closet. Later, after Sam left home and I claimed his former closet for Christmas and gift-wrapping storage, I moved the roll to the gift-wrap container. Only trouble was that the roll was fatter and taller than the paper goods and the lid would no longer fit as it should.
It took a few years but finally, the purpose for that awkwardly large roll of fabric liner was revealed! As it turned out, the liner is perfect for wrapping up books, a pretty padding for mail-ordered purchases. Since it was practically free, and there’s lots of it, cost is not a factor—unlike what it would be if I needed to buy padded envelopes, bubble-wrap or tissue paper and assess some portion of the cost per mailing.
After I swaddle a book in the liner, it takes on the appearance of a gift, but its true purpose is protection against whatever handling the package incurs inside its tightly taped manila envelope on the way to Kennard or Liberty, California, Tennessee or Florida (and yes, I’ve mailed books to all those places).
I also found the envelopes for a buck a package at a thrift store, making them a dime each. And I use the media-rate (and take careful precautions to meet the requirements). I wanted to charge as little as possible when mailing out the books and I think that $2.79 is about as good as I can get.
I’ve had feedback from more than a couple of readers on how they liked the “wrapping.” Mission accomplished.
Somehow, I knew that roll of liner would come in handy … serendipity coming to a mailbox near you.
One more thing: Look at the cover of the new book. You'll see a Hoosier-style (or Seller's-style) baker's cabinet. The cabinet is of no particular brand or make, but is the artist's rendition representing vintage cabinets once so popular in the Hoosier state ... and in my kitchen!
Another full-circle moment, somehow.
If you are interested in receiving a signed copy of either of my novels, Sweetland of Liberty Bed & Breakfast, or That Sweet Place: At Home in the Heartland, wrapped in the rosy fabric liner, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll send details.