My Own personal stimulus activities

image Regarding money, I’ve always considered myself to be ‘frugally frugal.’ Meaning that generally speaking, I like to save money. But that also means that when I see a need, such as the furniture getting old, or the carpet getting raggedy, then I am more than willing to spend the money on updates. CareerMom and I often speak amongst ourselves about how her dad and, generally speaking, her brothers, are not like this. Her dad for instance, is of the mind that if it ain’t broke, then don’t buy a new one. The same goes for painted walls, outdated fixtures, etc. So, I consider CareerMom lucky for having found someone so frugally frugal as myself.

CareerMom and I usually collude on big decisions regarding decorating and fixer-upper things around the house, such as paint colors, furniture, and things like that. But when it comes to the details, she is the accessorist. And so, as each season passes, one can mark the change in our home by noting when CareerMom removes the red Christmas pillows and replaces them with the cheerful spring pillows. In the fall, it goes from greens and yellows to warm oranges and reds.

Before we had children, we were able to re-use the same pillows from year to year, often keeping the same ones two or three years in a row, but kids are nothing if not hard on the furniture. Rather than putting the pillows in plastic bins and storing them in the basement until next year, now we usually end up having to throw them out thanks to stains that won’t come out with simple ‘spot-cleaning.’

Recently, I’d heard CareerMom remark that she’d looked for some nice spring-like pillows at the usual good places: Pier One, Tarz-yay, and Kohl’s. So while I was out with MLE the other day, I stopped in at Stein-Mart to check out the deals on summer shirts. While there, I happened to wander around to the home decor section and actually found some really nice pillows with warm browns (to match our accent wall) and some light greens and tans. So, I grabbed them. I admit that I did look at the price, and wasn’t too happy with it, but I figured I’d get them and if CareerMom liked them and they made her happy, then it was worth it.

Turns out, CareerMom does like them, or at least she’s pretending to really well. But after looking at them the other day and remarking on what a good job I’d done picking them out, she asked, “Did you get a good deal on them?”

This seemingly innocuous question might be perfectly within the realm of expectation coming from someone else, or maybe even coming from CareerMom if she were talking about a major purchase. But for her to ask that question regarding something that clearly was NOT going to break the bank…caused me to pause for a moment.

And then my overly-analytical mind kicked in:

“What did she mean by that?”

“Is she trying to say that she’s surprised I bought them if they weren’t on sale?”

“Is she calling me a cheapskate?”

“When did this happen?”

“Have I started squashing her purchasing decisions recently?”

“What the hell!”

But, I let the whole comment go. Pick your battles right?

And then, the next weekend, in what was retrospectively CLEARLY a decision influenced by this one perfectly innocent comment, I let her buy a lovely set of deck furniture.

Damn…she’s good!

What? You don’t like the dogs playing cards picture?

color wheel As much as I like to pretend that I don’t care what other people think, the truth is that I do. But not so much because I want their approval as much as I like the validation for my ideas. Is that different? I can’t tell, but I think so.

For a guy, I like to think that I have a pretty good eye for decorating and color. When I was single, I got lots of compliments from…um…people visiting my condo; I can match clothes when CareerMom and I go out (what few times we do), and I can even be trusted to pick up household knick-knacks on my own without CareerMom having to return them in the dead of night to keep from hurting my feelings.

Wait…

No…

It’s Ok…after some self-introspection, I’ve reconfirmed that I’m hetero!

Anyway, we’re in the process of updating our house as I’ve blogged a few times. This includes new paint, some new appliances, lighting, etc. Now, barring winning the lottery, I’m making these updates as I can afford them, which means I can replace approximately 1.2 fixtures per paycheck, or 1 appliance every 6 months (washer and dryer count as two appliances) without having to serve beans and rice to the kids for a week of dinners.

We’ve come to a point though where now that I’ve re-painted, some of the window treatments that were leftovers from the old owners, no longer “fit” the decor. Some of these windows are oddly shaped, in strange places, or have some characteristic that makes your typical “drapes with a swag” an unattractive proposition.

CareerMom’s sister hired an “interior decorator” to come in and create a design for her house and CareerMom wanted to do the same for ours. I did something similar with our landscaping. I had a guy create a plan that I could implement on my own as my finances afforded, and that’s worked out well, so I agreed with CareerMom that it sounded like a good idea. I was afraid of the cost, but the lady she’s using works for a local decorating and fabric store and so she works for one flat price–not the by-the-hour charge many of them use.

I happened to be working from home the morning the designer dropped by and CareerMom took the morning off so she could shadow the designer as she wandered around the house. For about an hour and a half, the “designer” mumbled to herself while walking around measuring walls and windows, making the occasional comment about this or that.

So now that she’s come in and mentally critiqued our house, she will go create a plan. I’m a tad fuzzy on her deliverables (and her credentials frankly), but CareerMom didn’t question it and I’m no dummy, so I’m keeping my mouth shut.

To her credit thus far, she did make a couple of good suggestions for our dining room, which I at first thought were ridiculous, but after having lived with them for a few days, have decided that I rather like, so I’m open to her other ideas. But the one thing she did comment on while she was here that got my hackles up, was as she walked into the kitchen and said, making that little pinched look with her lips and forehead, “Hmm, the older shiny brass fixtures and newer stainless appliances are throwing me off!

I held my tongue, in part because I agreed, but mostly because I didn’t want to upset CareerMom since this was “her thing.” But I really wanted to ask “design-lady” how many of her clients can afford to come into a “new to them” house and wholesale remodel in one fell swoop!?

Sure we only have one stainless appliance right now and the rest are black, but that’s only because the old black dishwasher broke and I had to replace it and wanted to move towards stainless. And yeah, the hood on the stove is shiny brass, but to update it, you have to buy a whole new hood and one like that, with a different finish is about $1,000! And I’m sorry that the perfectly operational sink fixture is shiny gold instead of a nice brushed bronze, but they ain’t cheap!

SO LAY OFF LADY!

That’s what I was thinkin’ anyway. In actuality, I just nodded along and bit my tongue.

But as she left, she did say one thing that I agreed with, “You seem to be into comfortable rather than glitzy, so my design will reflect that.”

It’s true; neither naked Greek statues nor ostentatious grandfather clocks will probably ever grace my foyer, but daggum, when I sit down at night to watch “The Office,” I’m comfortable, and frankly, that’s all that matters! (did you see Jim propose to Pam?)