After working at various magazines for years and years, I moved to San Francisco in a fit of pique at the end of my 30s -- and almost immediately found myself married, pregnant, and pregnant again. Must be something in the water. Now I spend my time complaining loudly about how much I miss New York, but secretly enjoying the shoeless, gorgeous, kid-friendly vibe more and more each day. I live with my husband Randy, our daughters Penelope (2) and Abby (almost 1), and on weekends, we also have The Big Kids, Max and Eli. Most days, I can't believe life can be this much fun.
I hate it when I get to the store -- like the Carter's outlet near me -- and find that I had to have signed up for their email updates to get a discount. Of course, being a frugal consumer (read: cheap bee-yotch), I am happy to take 10 minutes to step away from the register, sign up for the emails using my smartphone, and present my coupon like I'd planned to do that all along. Never mind the irony of being a cheapo with a smartphone. I'd sooner give up my dishwasher.There's just one problem with the money-saving emails: Sometimes the time you spend unraveling the exact deal, and how much you can actually save, costs more than the savings. And sometimes, if you really look, you aren't saving anything. When did my money-saving email deals turn into spam-scams?
Ah, vanity plates. Almost invariably, by the time you're old enough to get one, you no longer have the desire to announce to everyone behind you that you're 1H0T1 or MISSTHANG. I myself had always intended to get one, till I realized that if I were to commit some kind of crime, it would be easy for eyewitnesses to identify my vehicle. Not that I'm planning any drive-by snowballings or bank robberies, but it did seem prudent to avoid being super obvious. Anyway, a guy in Washington, D.C., where weirdly huge and stupid fines are de rigeur, did not get the memo. In addition, he chose a vanity plate that ended up costing him much more than the $50 the DMV requires. Like tens of thousands of dollars more. How?
Before I had kids, I loved using kitschy childhood favorites to decorate my home-space – Muppets, Hello Kitty, Raggedy Ann. It was good fun at the time, but since my extended adolescence finally ended with a “Push!” and then a “Waah!” three-odd years ago, it’s become a lot less appealing. For one thing, SpongeBob appears on every available surface even if I don’t want him to. Hey, I love the little absorbent, yellow, porous fella as much as anyone, but enough is enough – I do like having décor that isn’t fuzzy, neon, or enhanced with googly eyes. And yet: There’s something cheering about a home inspired by play. Emphasis on “inspired,” as in “I did more than just stick a Monopoly throw on the couch.” Here are some neat ideas that remind us, with a wink, that work is for work – and home is for fun.
Hey, billing errors happen. We’ve all opened a utility bill and said, “This doesn’t seem right,” and 9 times out of 10, it’s all resolved with a quick phone call. Even when it’s an aquarium-sized water bill for a three-bedroom house. But what if that billing error happened, and you’ve authorized electronic billing? If you’re like one Chicago-area family, you could end up overpaying by more than a hundred grand for a month’s worth of electricity. Oops.
I would dearly love to be organized. I go to friends’ houses and think, “Everything has its place.” By contrast, in my home, everything has its place, and that place is … everywhere. I'm a sucker for articles on sites like Houzz.com about getting clutter under control, but they always show magazine-ready rooms bathed in gentle morning light with hardwood floors and plenty of room. When Remodelista starts putting out a weekly newsletter called “closet-sized rentals with ugly carpeting made to look kinda cute despite themselves,” I will jettison the self-flagellation and sign right up. And then sometimes, I just get snarky and sit around thinking up obnoxious comebacks for perfectly nice organizing tips. Cue my mom: “If you spent this much energy following those Flylady tips, your house would look like Gwyneth Paltrow’s!” Maybe so. But this is what you get from Sister Slacker-Snark. So enjoy.