Thursday, April 25, 2013

A real POANG in the MANSTAD

**NOTE: I am basically your grandpa when it comes to understanding computers, but even I've figured out that this blog entry gets most of its hits from good people like you Googling "IKEA MANSTAD Discontinued?" So in case you're short on time and need to know if you should come up with a plan B for a sofa bed that fits your roomscape, let me cut to the chase: Yes, the MANSTAD has been discontinued. At least in North America, possibly worldwide, since April 2013. Now, the MANSTAD was discontinued once before, and brought back in a slightly different styling, so there's still hope that it might come back in the next few years, but for now, off to Craigslist with you. If you'd like to read my blog entry on how I found out this sad fact for myself, do continue. But if you're a busy person with ish to do, I hear ya. Google on, fair reader. Google on.**

I've written about IKEA before. I talked about how a trip there was a long, tiring experience but a necessary evil when you're cheap and urban and have a hole in your heart that can only be filled by MORE STUFF (specifically the MØRRSTÜFF nesting tables). It's kinda kitschy, but occasionally fun and fills a gap in the "affordable decoration" market.

I'd like to update that assessment thusly: IKEA is a soul-sucking hecubus of a warehouse chain and should be covered in lingonberry sauce and set ablaze.

It's a place where dreams go to die, where loving friendships can be severed in the blink of an eye, and where disenchantment, claustrophobia, and delicious meatballs are served in equal proportion.

And all we wanted to do was buy a couch.

It sounds so simple, doesn't it? Buy - to procure goods or services in return for proffered currency, A couch- a piece of furniture, often found in living rooms, to be used for sitting whilst watching Arrested Development.

So, so simple.

Foolish child.

This whole saga started back in November, when we went to IKEA in search of a sofa. "Search" is a bit of a misnomer - I already knew which kind I wanted. I'd done my homework and found one that had gotten good reviews, had not one, but *two* companies who made slipcovers for it, and had storage space and folded out to become a sofa bed. Score. Now, 2-3 times a year IKEA has a "buy one, get one 50% off" sale on sofas. We waited until November so we could specifically take advantage of that since my parents have a sofa in the basement so old that I'm pretty sure was one of their baptism gifts. They agreed that it was uncomfortable and outdated, and we made a date to go in together on this BOGO deal. So we sauntered down to the House of Pain and the minute, the exact *minute* we pulled into the parking lot, my parents turned to me and said "you know, we don't really need a couch, after all."

I'm pretty sure my scream broke mirrors.

We went in anyway because I needed, I dunno, a lampshade or something and then, for shiggles went to find the sofa in the concrete hedge maze. We tried it out, found it to be pretty much perfect aaaand... left without it because my parents kept making noises about "well... maybe... someday.. we could buy a couch here... if you could wait..." and refused to commit.

Flash forward 3 weeks (2 weeks after the sale's over) and they're all "huh. This couch is pretty uncomfortable. We should get a new one."

And your honour, that's when I cut their brake line.

So finally, 5 months later, the sale came back, so we confirmed that they wanted a couch, made them pinky swear, threatened them with a future in a shady nursing home if they jerked us around again and then made a date to go back in April. I go on the website to see if the store has my couch in stock, click on the MANSTAD link and...

... huh. Back to the main page.

Try again, same thing.

I call the store's number, press "0" for assistance until i wear a callus onto my index finger and finally get through to "Todd."

"Oh. The MANSTAD? Yeah, that got discontinued this week."
"Like, forever?"
"Yeah, pretty much. They have 6 left in the warehouse though, at your store and 2 on the floor. Not in the colour you want. But they're there."

Okay, that's okay. We're buying a slipcover anyway. We'll just move up the trip. Forget this Sunday, we're going mid-week. I call again the next day to see if there's been a price adjustment on account of the discontinuation. Patty has my back.

"No, no price adjustment I'm afraid. Also, they're sold out."
"Sold out? Like, completely??"
"Yes. All gone."
"But yesterday I called and they said there was 8. 6 in stock, 2 floor models"
"So you're saying you sold 8 of the same couch in less than 24 hours."
"I don't know"
"So... none at all."
"No. None in stock. They might have the floor model though."
"Why would they keep the floor model of a couch they don't carry?"
"They just do. For a month or two"
"Well, then can I get someone from the store to check and see if the floor model is indeed on the floor?"
"No. We can't do that."
"There's literally no way to call anyone on the floor to see if that couch exists?"
"No. No way to do that."
<I grind my teeth into a fine powder>

Okay, fine, Patty. I decide to go down myself because frankly, my confidence in IKEA's inventory control is not soaring at this point. Sure enough, I come in the door, go right to customer service and BAM! the couch is indeed discontinued but with two in stock. By some miraculous chance you can actually put things on hold for a few hours as you wander the store (since this couch apparently multiplies and disappears at will) so I do just that. And as I walk away, into the abyss of the warehouse , my dad starts with "well... do we need to buy a couch today? I don't know if we -- "

"Look," I sputter "I don't care if you buy a couch today, tomorrow, or on your future grandchild's bar mitzvah day, but I am leaving here with a goddamn sofa if I have to craft it myself out of slipcovers and tealight candles."

He bought a couch.

The beauty of coming to a store after dinner is that you can only spend 2 hours maximum there before it closes. And that's how we spent the smallest amount of time we ever have in an IKEA. We got 2 garbage cans, hangers, replacement dishes, a reading lamp, and pillow inserts all for under $100. Then it was just a hop, skip, and a jump to the couch area to print out a request, through the cash to pay, to the pick-up area to order it, a short wait for them to bring it out, drag it over to the delivery area, pay for assembly and delivery and then a total emotional collapse in the pathway of the automatic doors.

And that, gentle reader is how we went from this:

(Please ignore the Christmas decor)

To this:

And all it cost was our sanity!

TL;DR, basically this: 30 Rock IKEA trip

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Wiggin' Out 'Bout it Wednesday: Don't Cry Out Loud (or do, I'm not your mother)

I tried to post this yesterday but I am a Destroyer of Technology® and couldn't get my phone or my computer to give this thing up. So let's pretend its Wednesday and we are wigging out like crazy over the following entry. Come with me, won't you?

**Fairy dust**


I had written an entry a few days ago about my latest (and I hope to be last) trip to IKEA. I was all ready to post it and then something terrible happened in Boston and I didn't feel like sharing that entry anymore, just then.

Bloggers: such models of suffering.

Like a lot of people, I suspect, once I found out, I walked around with a heavy heart, sad for those who suffered, wondering how this latest event would change rules and regulations, opinions and conspiracies.  I'd be lying if I said I wasn't still angry and stunned at how vicious people manage to get heard much more often than the good, but I also felt steadfastedly determined to remember that I still absolutely believe the world to be a beautiful place.

I thought about what I do when things are terrible and the answer is: I cry. Which, I know, duh. But I tend to seek out things that make me cry even more. Not a sad, YouTubing-9/11-videos kind of cry, a "the world is marvellous, full of remarkable places and fantastic creatures and I just have to keep remembering that," cry. There's a difference - my sad sob is a semi-tone higher.

Sometimes there's nothing so cathartic as a good cry. Done in private, with a loved one, or at a company picnic in front of all your coworkers, letting it all out can be a great release that makes you feel a little bit lighter afterwards, if only for the massive amounts of liquid you (I) shed. And while it's always good to "cry it out" over something personally troubling, I also like a good generic happy cry. Many's the time TB has walked by me sitting in front of my laptop, tears running down my cheeks like a suck as I wave him away saying "it's okay, it's just something I'm watching".

If you, like me, need to chop some emotional onions, let me take you on a tour of the stuff that lets my tears out of eye jail.

1. Where the Hell is Matt?

I must have watched Matt's videos a dozen times apiece, but they always make me smile. This one, for my money, is the best one if you want to get your tears on. The evolution of Matt's videos are as follows: Matt dances funny. Then he travels places and dances funny. Then he gets other people to dance with him around the world. So simple, so enjoyable. 

Something about the ridiculousness of Matt's dance, coupled with the realization that the world and its people are so beautifully different, yet ultimately the same, all set to this sweeping musical track - sob city, people. Chills every time I watch it. 

2. Inside Every Good Dog is a Great Dog - Purina Commercial

If you know me, then you know I'm firmly Team Dog (sorry Team Ferret, I appreciated the fruit basket but no dice on switching sides). This video, dog food commercial though it might be, is a perfect illustration of why I love them. Dogs don't care if you're weird or blind or stuck in an avalanche, or lonely - they love you because you're you and because they're yours. Somewhere around the dog diving in the water I can feel a sort of heat behind my eyes and by the time we get to doggy dancing, I'm basically a melted Popsicle posing as a human.

3. Jim Henson Memorial - Jim's Favorite Songs

Ugh. There's no words to describe what a mess I become when I watch this. Well, "soggy batshit" comes close, so let's go with that. I'm a lover of Sesame Street and Muppets in general, and I remember when I was a kid finding out Jim Henson had died and knowing that that meant Kermit was dead and Ernie was dead and thanks to Sesame Street itself I knew none of them  were coming back .. let's say it's a miracle I'm not in therapy right now. Such a beautiful, adorable, heartfelt tribute to a man that was responsible for such a large part of my childhood. Oh, and don't look up Frank Oz's eulogy to Henson if you don't have shares in Kleenex.

So those are my top 3 "life is beautiful/life is beautiful but sad" tear-jerker videos. There are plenty more I'm forgetting, I'm sure, but those ones always get me in the ducts.

Honest request: if you have any happysad videos that make you a mess, please link them in the comments. I am always looking to add to my collection of headache-inducing sob videos.

Monday, April 8, 2013

At Least I've Got My Cooking: Comforting Puff Pastry Apple Thing

Literally less than an hour after I posted that last entry, all cheery and warmed and ready for the healing power of Mother Spring, I was howling in pain, clutching my hand and cursing everything I had ever cared for and anything anyone had ever loved.

Son of a bee-sting.

I was trying to be "green", for what it's worth. For two weeks I'd looked at this one, lonely apple sitting in my fruit bowl, steadfastedly refusing to go rotten, yet allowing its once-taught skin to grow slightly more saggy and wrinkled over time (we've all been there, apple, amiright?). "Forget that," I thought, "let's make you into something unhealthy!

I got together:

Half a sheet of puff pastry
One (1) sad-ass looking apple
1/3 of a block of low-fat cream cheese
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 c. of icing sugar
1/2 tsp of lemon juice

1. Forget to defrost the puff pastry for days at a time, cursing under your breath every day that you do. Finally remember to stick it in the fridge overnight. Declare victory over your own brains.

2. Cut the puff pastry in half (or use the whole thing and double the recipe - who am I, your mother?), pre-heat your oven to 350.

3. Mix together the icing sugar, cream cheese, cinnamon and lemon juice in a bowl until (mostly) smooth. I used low fat so it didn't cream as much as I wanted. I heated it up in a microwave beforehand, that kind of helped. I would have stirred it more rapidly and for longer but.. well, read ahead. Didn't really have my usual dexterity at my disposal.

4. Begin to peel the apple. Congratulate yourself on refusing to throw out less-than-stellar produce. While smugly smiling to yourself, jam the peeler back into your middle finger (yes, your favourite one) and whimper like a scolded puppy. Very quietly ask for Percocet, some gauze and a roll of medical tape. Settle for 3 migraine-strength tylenol, a paper towel and some duct tape.

5. Wonder why it doesn't hurt yet.

6. Stop wondering.

7. Make pathetic noises as you look at your once manicure-ready finger, now sporting a fingernail cracked about a third of the way down, exposing the skin underneath the nail and bleeding like it has something to prove.

8. Allow your partner to bandage you up, wincing and sucking air through your teeth the whole time. Get sweaty.

9. Beg your partner to finish the recipe which you now hate more than anything you have ever hated in your life. More than Glenn Beck. More than centipedes. Okay, not more than centipedes. Get him to peel the (stupid) apple and chop it into 1/2 inch cubes.

10. Place the (dumb) apple pieces and the cream cheese mixture in the middle of the puff pastry square, fold the pastry into the centre to make a "package" and bake for 30 minutes.

11. Allow to cool for 2-3 minutes and then (begrudgingly) serve while sniffling.

12. Voila.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Never long enough.

This is the last of my glorious 5-day long weekend and, man am I going to miss it. The stress at work, which has dissipated a bit but certainly not disappeared, coupled with my distrust of hand sanitizer were, I believe, the key factors in me getting sick juuuust before I got time off. Keen! Thursday was spent sniffling pitifully and then deciding "to hell with this" and going for a bajingo wax/Spring awakening. I know it's an unorthodox method, but I have to say, nothing clears up the sinuses faster than a slight and determined woman pulling hot wax strips off your pale, shivering body.

But snot factory/torture dungeon aside, I've had a wonderful few days. We've actually managed to be productive which, if you know either of us, is a miracle befitting this particular weekend. TB cleaned out the stove which was a lesson in carbon's tenacity (we only got the damn thing in December - why are we disgusting? Don't answer, please), hung some pictures and cleaned the kitchen counters. I tidied the front entrance, put away the winter coats (cue snowstorm), did 4 loads of laundry, hand-washed some blazers (true story, as soon as I typed that, I realized I hadn't taken my blazers out of the tub yet, yelled a bad word and ran to take them out - and they say blogging accomplishes nothing!), and am about to whip up a delicious (or massacre a perfectly good) first-time lasagna. We changed the sheets, went to not one, but two lamb-filled Easter dinners, got massages, went for tapas, made pancakes, slept in like crazy, overdosed on Breaking Bad and Freaks and Geeks and generally just enjoyed each other's company. I'm sad to have to go back tomorrow, but at least we have a week in May to look forward to in Toronto to see the Book of Mormon (yay!) and also to participate in a wedding (yay?) (oh, fine. Yay.) Plus I'm getting a haircut on Thursday which isn't something to look forward to personally as it is to everyone around me - especially those pulling my stray split-end laden hairs out of their mouths every few minutes. Sorry, TB.

I love that feeling of having the windows open and getting things accomplished that feels so "spring-y". I still can't stop tidying and fussing, unpacking from last week's business trip, contemplating making muffins, planning the week's dinners. Today's a bit of a downer, weather-wise, all doom and gloom with a wicked bit of wind, but you can tell good things are on the horizon. Things that smell like promise and sunshine and worm guts and blossoms and dog shit. Get it happenin' Spring - we're ready for ya!