Tuesday, August 31, 2010

CSN Chandelier Review

A few weeks ago, I was asked to be a CSN preferred blogger.  Of course, I readily agreed and decided that for my first post, I would do a product review.  I was given a gift certificate to spend on any CSN store website


Where to start??!!  They have so many things in their stores and there are 200 different stores, so there was a lot to look through and a lot to consider.  So after searching many nights online, I settled on a new chandelier for our dining room and a new valance for our master bathroom.  (I'll tell you about the valance tomorrow.)

Here is our old chandelier:

There is absolutely nothing wrong with it...except I didn't like it.  We've had it for the last 7 years that we've lived in the house.  It's provided light just fine, but there were a few things I didn't like.  First of all, I didn't like the fact that it was white.  It really looked like it had been spray painted white with the same stuff they paint popcorn ceilings with.  Maybe it wasn't, but that's what it looked like.  It wasn't smooth white, but kind of bumpy.  Second of all, we didn't like that it took special bulbs with the little base.  They were more expensive and annoying to change.  I really wanted a light that took standard light bulbs as well as standard compact fluorescent bulbs.  There was also an additional light on the bottom that we never used.  And the biggest reason for changing, I didn't pick it.  The light was already here when we bought the house so I had no say in it.

For our new light we chose this rubbed oil bronze light with glass globes.  It arrived pretty quickly and looked like it came from Asia (it was packed in newspaper with chinese-looking symbols on it).  We got it all out of the box and right away started to install it.  Now, my husband is an electrical engineer so he is pretty good with wiring up new lights.  We have installed 3 ceiling fans and 2 overhead lights in our house, so we kind of felt like we knew what we were doing.

Which was a good thing because the directions were NOT good at all.  It looked like it had been translated into English badly.  It's also a good thing that we paid attention to the old light when we were taking it down because that answered a lot of questions that the directions didn't.

Installing a chandelier is not as quick and easy as installing a regular overhead light.  It was starting to take a while and we were running out of daylight (we had obviously turned off power to the kitchen and dining room and were working just by daylight).  So we finally got the light installed and it was time to add the glass globes.  I guess we should have checked those more closely to begin with. We got 4 of them put on and went to pull the last one out of the box and it was cracked all the way up the globe.

Seeing as we had already uninstalled the old one and installed the new one, we left it like this for the moment.

A little crooked but still providing enough light to eat and do homework until we got a replacement globe.  I figured it also wasn't completely bad because it gave me a chance to review CSN's customer service and replacement parts policy.  And let me tell you, getting a replacement part ordered was the easiest thing in the world.  I didn't have to call anyone, or wait on hold.  I just went online and logged into my account on CSN.  I found my order then looked on the links on the left side and found the "Ordering replacement parts" link.  It told me exactly what to do and within 5 minutes I had ordered the replacement globe.

Our replacement globe also came pretty quickly.  I ordered it on Aug 4 and it was delivered on Aug 11.  Here it is with all the globes:

Overall we really like the light.  It takes regular bulbs and we even have a couple CF bulbs in there (they do hang down farther then the globes).  I love the look and color of it.  I do have a few complaints.  It seems very hard to get the globes to sit evenly.  They aren't parallel on the bottom.  You can move the arm that they sit on, but it's hard to get them all parallel and evenly spaced.  I think the fact that you can move the arm so easily is the real problem.  I think it got moved around in transit and wasn't sitting correctly when we got it.  We're afraid to move the arms too much because we don't want them to fall off.  Here's a picture of that:

My other complaint is that is doesn't seem to provide as much light as our last one did.  I'm sure it's due to the design of it, with the bulbs pointing down instead of up like the last one.  So that's our fault for not realizing that when we picked this particular light.  I guess that's one disadvantage of buying things online and not seeing them in person.  It's hard to see where the light goes.

But overall I like this light better than the one we had in there before.  I think we might raise it up a bit to see if it lights more of the area that way.

Stay tuned for my review of my new bathroom valance.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Hair that survives school - Part 1

I haven't done a hairdo post in a while (just a Curlformers one), so I thought I'd show you some go-to-school styles that we've been doing.  These are great for school because they are fast, they keep the hair off the neck when it's 90 degrees outside and they last all day at school.

1)  Topsy-tails all over.  You don't have to have a topsy-tail to do this.  You can use your fingers to push the hair through.  Just start with a few ponies all over the hair pulling through each time.  Add a little more hair each time and keep going until all the hair is in it.  I added a few bobby pins to hold her bangs back.

(You'll notice her shirt says "I'm adopted. Ephesians 1:3-14."  We bought these to help our dear friends raise money to go get their son from Korea.  They are there now getting him and we are so excited to finally meet him.)

2)  Double french braids to diamonds.  This style is much easier than it sounds, as long as you can french braid.  If you can't, you can put the top hair in puff braids which are ponies that you add a little more to as you go down.  Start with two french braids at the top and braid until you get to the crown.  Then take the hair and divide it into elastics until you have diamond shapes.  The pictures will show it better.

Stay tuned for more "Hair that survives school."  Let me know if you try any of these on your dear daughters.  I'd love to see pictures!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Why I Love Target

In my last post (almost a week ago), I ranted.  So I thought in this post, I would rave.

So here is why I love Target (in no particular order):

-Target coupons - stack 'em with a manufacturer's coupon and a sale for an awesome deal!

-The snack counter up front - You can get popcorn and a drink for $1.50.  It either entertains kids while you shop or serves as a good incentive ("If you're good, you can get popcorn when we leave.").  Also, if you ask, they'll split one bag of popcorn into 2 half bags, so there is less fighting among the munchkins.

-The nice, clean, big carts that have the kids seats separate from where you put your items to buy.  In Walmart, at least one child always wants to sit IN the cart, which leaves no room for my stuff to buy.  Not so at Target!

-Family bathrooms - Got a boy and girl who both need to go, take 'em to the same bathroom.

-Toy clearance - The last week in July every year is toy clearance.  Toys go on sale 75% off and I get a jump start on Christmas shopping.

-Organization on Black Friday - I'm a huge Black Friday shopper and Target is by far the best organized.  They hand out maps ahead of time of where big ticket items are; they have carts located near the items so you don't have to drive your cart all over; they are fully staffed in the checkouts, etc.  It's very nice.

-Dollar spot - Yup, those aisles with dollar items - perfect for goody bags, class parties, cheap little Easter/Halloween/Valentine's Day gifts for your kids, including batteries.

-Their clothes and shoes - so much nicer than Walmart and Kmart and only slightly more expensive.

I could go on and on.  I really do love Target.  There are a few annoyances there but overall, I think it's probably the best place to shop around.

So which store do you love most?  What is the best thing about that store?  I'd love to hear your vote!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Stupid Ladies' Clothes

So I'm going to take a minute and rant here.

I was so excited today to go to Kohls and spend my Kohl's bucks that I earned on tax-free weekend.  Twenty free dollars that I could spend on me, or so I thought.  I tried on at least 20 different things - shirts, skirts, jeans, dress pants, dresses - and guess what, nothing fit!

Now, not to brag on myself but I should not be a hard person to find clothes for.  I am 5'6" and 125 lbs, size 4 in most things.  So why can't I find anything that fits?  Because like every real woman, I have curves!!  So why aren't pants made with waistbands that fit and don't gap - for those of us with real bodies and real curves?  Even those that say "No gap waistline" gap like crazy.  Who do they use as models to make those things?  Anorexic people with no hips?  Why don't they use real women with real curves?

If I knew how to sew I would start my own line of clothes, clothes that fit me...and probably every other real woman out there.

Oh, and in case you're wondering, I used my $20 in Kohl's bucks to buy Julie a clearance bathing suit for next year and to buy David 2 long-sleeved shirts for the fall.  At least somebody got something good out of it.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Curls Gone Wild

Guess what we discovered?


We started with very straight hair (as we do every day).

We added some Curlformers - in cool pink and orange.

The curlers were surprisingly easy to put in.  You put them in while the hair is still damp.  It says to dry them before you sleep in them, but we were running short on time before bed, so we didn't dry them at night.  Instead I dried them a little in the morning before I took them out.  Worked out perfectly.  And we got this:

All kinds of great curls and they lasted all day (and yes, she wore her girly curls with a black Star Wars Clone Wars T-shirt).  Here they are with a few ponies and ribbons.

We LOVE our Curlformers.  They are rather pricey but I did find a large bag of them on ebay for a bit cheaper.  And now I anticipate many more curl-filled days.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

School's in Session

I know those of you in the North will be in shock but school is already in session down here in the South.

The first day for Julie was Monday.  She is now a Second grader - where did the time go???

Monday was a half-day but they jumped right in on Tuesday.  We got spelling words and a new story - our first spelling test and reading test are tomorrow.  The first week of school!  They don't waste any time here.  (And yes, I say "we' and "our" because it seems like I spend as much time on this stuff as they do!)

David is in Kindergarten this year which means his beginning schedule is a little different.  They break them in slowly so he went for his first half-day today.  He has 2 more half-days over the next two weeks before he goes all day (and around here, Kindergartners go all 7 hours of the day with no nap).  Here he is all excited this morning.

Both my kids have gotten wonderful teachers this year and we are just so excited about them both being in the big school together (and one of us is a little teary-eyed but don't tell anyone).  So we're off to a great start.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Need to win something free? Try Giveaway Scout

I found this cool new website and I thought I would share it with you (I'm just nice like that). 

It's called Giveaway Scout.  It serves two purposes. 

1) If you are looking to win something for free (and let's face it, who doesn't like free stuff?!), you can go by their site, or import their widget (you can see it on the right column of my blog).  It lists all sorts of giveaways that you can enter.

2)  If you do giveaways on your blog, you can list either your blog or the individual giveaway post with them.  You'll be added to the giveaway list and you'll get increased traffic to your blog.

Sound like a good deal?  I think so!  And just because I don't think I typed it enough - giveaway, giveaway, giveaway! 

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Book Sneeze: Popes and Bankers

Several months ago, I joined Book Sneeze, a site where bloggers can get free books as long as they submit reviews of the book.  You have to review it on your own blog and on another consumer retail site, such as Amazon.  (You do get to choose what book you read from the available list.)

I was very excited to join the site and picked out the book Popes and Bankers by Jack Cashill. It's a non-fiction book chronicling the history of credit and debt all throughout the ages from ancient Greece to modern times (to AIG as the title indicates). I was initally very excited about reading the book.  My husband and I had just finished Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University and we were re-energized on staying out of debt and building our savings.  In light of that, I thought this would be the perfect book to read.  From the description, I sounded like it would reinforce our view on debt.

What I didn't know was how incredibly boring the book would be.  Don't get me wrong, I knew it wouldn't be easy reading like a fiction book would have, but I have read plenty of non-fiction books that are interesting and make you want to read more.  This is not one of them.  One whole chapter was dedicated to Dante's Inferno and discussed in detail what level of hell a debtor was sentenced to.  In my opinion, that could have been summarized in one or two sentences instead of a whole chapter.

Maybe a more money/finance minded person would have found redeeming qualities in the book and enjoyed reading but I certainly didn't.  Hopefully I can make a better choice for the next book.