Wednesday, September 28, 2005

the race is on

Last night John and I had the pleasure of sitting around a card table in the currently cavernous space that will soon be Habitat Shoe Store with five close friends (John & Christina, David & Hannah, and Stephanie) for a brainstorming session. We invited these specific friends because they each have an eye for design, intensely creative minds, and are just all around cool people. We talked about the layout of the store, the first place a customer's eye is going to fall when they enter the store, inspiration for window displays, how to create a fitting room without solid walls and many, many other things. It was interesting to hear what kinds of things are important to people. My favorite recommendation that I would have never thought of was that we needed to have a three-way mirror in the fitting room because "you know when you try on a pair of jeans, they can look good from this angle, but then you turn around and you realize they don't look good from that angle." That thought would have never crossed my mind; although I assure you the mirror will be IN the fitting room because I can't stand it when the only mirror is outside the fitting room and you have to model what you are trying on to everyone else in the fitting area. So, if you're shy about prancing around in your potential new digs in front of complete strangers then come to Habitat. We'll insure you have complete privacy...and a three-way mirror for all angles viewing.

So after the brainstorming session, John and I came home, looked at each other and realized that we have A LOT of work to do in one month. I sometimes have a hard time believing that a space that is completely empty right now (with the exception of some floor sealant cans and drop cloths) will be completely full of shoes, jeans, T-shirts, belts, handbags and more IN ONE MONTH. I'm sure our friends who were there tonight were thinking, "Oh, it's so sweet that John and Kristen are so excited about the store...but they are so naive to think they can open in one month." If I were them, I would've been thinking that; but if they did, none of them showed it or voiced it. For that, I'm thankful. I'm thankful to all our friends because for the past year each one of them has been so supportive of us -- including the times when we questioned whether Habitat was ever going to happen. They have encouraged us at every turn. When we do open the doors of Habitat, it will be because of the support of our friends (and our family too, of course). So, if any of our friends are reading this, thank you.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

the view from the 4th row

A BIG THANK YOU to my brother-in-law, Reese, for taking me to the Coldplay concert last night (his date wasn't able to make it because her flight was delayed from Florida due to the hurricane). We sat in the fourth row, just off center. It was AMAZING. Too good for words. More later because I'm already late for work, but here are two of my favorite photos I was able to snap.

Monday, September 19, 2005

my superhero husband

And because that last post was so wordy (that's what happens when you don't post for almost 2 weeks), I thought I'd share some photos from the previous weekend when we took a trip to Oklahoma City to visit some friends. Weekends with the Helker family are always refreshing for us and hanging with the Helker kids gives John an excuse to act like a kid again (like you need an excuse for that). The Helker kids having a good time with Margot:

Evan, Jed, Margot and Hannah.

John living out his superhero dreams:

My favorite quote of the weekend: "This mask smells like dirty feet!"

John's interesting interpretation of an army general's artillery:

And finally, Margot modelling John's new favorite hairstyle for her (with her friend J.D. who also seems to like that look):

new house dilemma #12

So I've stumbled on the key to finding motivation to clean your home -- get a job where you have to recite a housecleaning script up to 15 times a day. There's only so many times you can say..."for example, we start at the top and catch the cobwebs around the corners of the ceilings"...and not think about how many cobwebs have been spun in your own home. This past weekend, John and I cleaned the entire house. It doesn't look like it though because we also ended up with several new pieces of furniture we were given by a close family member. I use the term given loosely. We've refused receipt of this furniture at least six times over the past three years. The excuses have ranged from, "it's not really our style" to "we don't have room for it", depending on what mood we were in, but one thing was for sure -- we weren't going to take the furniture. Well, at least I thought that was for sure. Friday afternoon, I came home to a room full of furniture -- the same furniture I distinctlly remember turning down six times. A moment of weakness coinciding with pressure from aforementioned family member moving in two weeks? Maybe. John and I facing the reality that we won't be in a position to purchase new furniture for awhile? Also a good possibility. Whatever the reason, it did solve New House Dilemma #12: Not Able To Get Full Box Spring Up Narrow Staircase.

We've tried to solve this dilemma several times without success. We've pushed, pulled, shoved, cussed, all-while-putting-several-new-holes-in-the-walls attempting to get the full box spring up the staircase. We even resorted to swiping a split box spring that someone had put at the end of their driveway for the trash to pick up, only to get it up the staircase and realize it was a QUEEN split box spring. We were so glad to have *any* box spring in our guest room, we convinced ourselves that our guests would find the pyramid bed an interesting adventure...or at least a conversation piece. It's probably for the best that no guests had the chance to test the stacked bed. We've replaced the certainly unstable makeshift bed with two sturdy twin beds (Clark and Kerry: when you visit you'll get to experience what it was like for married couples during the Dick Van Dyke era).

And if cleaning the whole house and rearranging several pieces of furniture was not enough, I also decided this would be a good weekend to switch out my spring/summer and fall/winter wardrobes. This is always a humbling process because I realize that my semi-frequent squawking about "how I don't have any clothes" or "I have nothing fun to wear" are unfounded and stupid. A long time ago I told myself that I was going to live by the rule that everytime I purchased something new I was going to get rid of something old. That rule never took hold in my life. I justify it by saying that I just give a bunch of things away at the end of every season to make up for all the things I bought that season and that it probably works out evenly. Yeah right. Lately I've been contemplating trying a similar giving principle that an acquaintance shared with me -- she removes one item from her house every day in an effort to pare down. How long would it take you to give away everything in your home if you lived by that principle? Maybe I'll try it and let you know.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

a suntan without the damaging effects of the sun...and no, i'm not talking about sunless tanners here people

So, I was reminded again this past holiday weekend that my husband and I RARELY go out of town on holiday weekends. I'm not sure if it's because both our families live in town, so we don't use holiday weekends to travel to visit them, or if we just don't think ahead and make plans to go out of town. Whatever the reason, we found ourselves at home again this past weekend. Since all of our friends were out of town, we decided to make good use of our time and paint our dining room. We've been contemplating this job for at least a month, but have not been able to proceed because of the textured ceiling. It's a popcorn texture complete with glitter specks that John absolutely despises (I actually didn't mind them much because that's the kind of ceilings I grew up with). Well, last weekend, John, his dad, and his brother scraped the popcorn texture off, so we had no excuses not to paint this weekend.

I've been considering the color scheme for about two months; I found the idea in the premier issue of this magazine and ever since have been trying to decide if it could work in our dining room. Prepare's pretty different. The horizontal shot (complete with fuzzy Margot):

And the vertical shot, so you can get a better look at the pink ceiling.

No, you don't need adjust the color on your screen...the ceiling is pink, above the chair rail is orange and below the chair rail is a light gray. We're not quite sure what we think. It's definitely pretty close to the photo in the magazine, but we think the orange is too bright...too orange. We bought 2 other test oranges before committing to this one (because we were pretty sure and didn't want to buy ANOTHER tester). The first orange (Osage Orange) was too bright/ looked like a highlighter. The second orange (Kumquat) looked like a pale, rusty brown on the swatch, but was also a bright orange on the wall. We thought a darker orange (Marquis Orange) might tone down the brightness. I think we were wrong. We ended up with a bright, BOLD orange. Honestly, we don't have the energy to even think about repainting it now being that we spent two entire days priming, taping, painting trim and walls -- all while trying to keep Margot out of the room. We're going to see how we feel about it in a week or two. In the meantime, if you want to appear as if you have a great tan (or sunburn, depending on how you look at it), come over to our house for dinner.

Side note: We forgot to take a before photo, but for those of you who want to envision where we came from, picture brown trim, cream above the chair rail and red wallpaper with pineapples below the chair rail. Definitely not our style.

Friday, September 02, 2005

one step closer...

Tonight John and I hung these up in the windows of our store.

It was pretty exciting. They were printed by a super cool gentleman named Brady at Hammerpress (who's shop is just around the corner from ours). I'm not sure why I haven't posted about this yet, but about a month ago, we decided on the location for Habitat. It's 1800 Baltimore, in the Crossroads Art District -- a fun, up-and-coming area (at least we think) between downtown KC and the Midtown & Plaza areas. Tonight was the "First Friday" of the month, when the local art galleries stay open until 10pm. First Fridays draw about 3,000-4,000 people from all over KC; they will most certainly be our busiest nights of the year. Several months ago (before we realized how long it can take to get a small business started) we thought we would be open by the First Friday in September. Even though we weren't open for business tonight, it was fun to be one step closer tonight and to start getting the word out about Habitat.

working girl

So, I've been at my new job for six weeks now. I answer phones at a call center for a housecleaning service. People call in; I tell them about our services; figure up a quote for their home and (hopefully) get them to schedule a cleaning. After doing this approximately 100 times so far, I have memorized the script. I don't think this is any major accomplishment...I would think after reading through anything 100 times, you would have it memorized.

My favorite part of my job: going through the script with an accent. The service I work for has several offices in Canada, so we frequently speak with Canadians. Oftentimes I won't realize I'm speaking with an accent until I'm halfway through the script. This isn't a new thing for me; I've noticed before that when I'm around people who are speaking English with accent, I start emulating their speech. I'm not saying I imitate accents well, it's just something I subconciously do.

My least favorite part of my job: people who get mad at me because they don't like the price I quote them. You wouldn't believe how angry some people can get when they want their house cleaned, but they don't want to pay the price you quote them. Come on people, I didn't make up the prices, I'm just quoting them for you -- don't kill the messenger.

One interesting thing I've learned at this job: complete strangers will tell you a lot more than you wanted to know about their lives when they can't see who they're talking to.

One of the most important things I will take away from this job: to be especially nice to anyone I talk with on the phone in any kind of service industry job...and you should too. Trust me, anyone you're talking to on the phone for a company has already talked to several mean people that day, so make their day a little bit brighter by being cordial and patient.