Friday, September 14, 2012

Mother of Pearl


So I guess you could say that it’s been a pretty good week. I’ve had a few days home (headed out for work again today), and I feel like I’ve accomplished a lot.


And I did something this week that I’ve never done before.

I bought a car.


But not just any car. World, I would love to introduce you to my 2012 Certified Pre-Owned Ford Explorer.

Her name is Pearl. That insightful name came to me around midnight the night that I bought her. Of course I couldn’t sleep. I was too excited!

Everyone, Pearl. Pearl, everyone.


Bessie has been nothing but a champ for me for over seven years when my Dad first brought her up to live with me in North Dakota before he moved to Mexico to retire. She made it through one horrible winter there and an entire year in Albuquerque before moving back to Phoenix with me in 2007.

At almost eleven years old and with 233,000 miles, no air conditioning, a severe need for new struts all the way around, and brakes probably wouldn’t hurt either, Bessie has been in need of some serious loving for quite some time.

However, about a year and a half ago, I made the executive decision to stop fixing major things on her. As soon as I spend $1,600 to fix the entire air conditioning system, the transmission goes out! It just wasn’t worth it to keep pumping money into a car that had lived a good life but could die at any moment.


I stand by my decision and have loved her, despite her shortcomings this past year. It has been most noticeable without air conditioning while trying to drive around with the windows down. In 119-degree heat, driving around with the windows down is like living in an Easy Bake Oven. But hotter.

Her latest escapade was the inability to start in gear. You had to turn the key a quarter-turn, then put the car in neutral, then start, then shift into drive. It was getting ridiculously demanding to drive this car, which had already given me so much in life.


So on Wednesday, I traded Bessie in and got Pearl.


Because she is used previously loved with a few miles on her, I was able to afford a nicer model of the Ford Explorer, which I’ve been eyeing for quite some time now.

You know, in case Bessie just up and died one morning (that has happened a few times, actually). I have been researching potential driving replacements for a while…


I was really keeping fingers crossed for Sirius radio, which I have in my airplane, Gladys, and love. Score! I got it in Pearl!

I even got a free 90-day subscription, so we’ll see if I will continue with it when I have to pay. I’m cheap cost-effective like that, you know.

And, if we’re being honest here, I have also grown accustomed to Bessie’s luxurious leather seats and was hoping to keep such snobbery in my new car, too.

Pearl came through yet again! Three rows of beautiful light tan leather seats! The interior color was more important to me than the exterior. I knew that I couldn’t deal with dark seats because of the heat. But you know what? I really love the white exterior, too!

As for gas mileage, it will be about the same as Bessie (about 21 MPG combined town and freeway), but with an even beefier engine. Instead of my 3.5-liter V6, I now have 4.0-liter V6. I will never lose off the stoplight line again.

Corolla has failed me so many times with respect to beating people off the line this summer. I can’t even talk about it.


Look at that headrest. Doesn’t that just make you happy? Or is it just me?


And here is a view of the second and third-two seating. The third row can fold flat and disappear entirely, which means we can haul some mighty large things around in Pearl.


For now, I like having the third-row seating up. It creates a nice pocket in the back to haul groceries and TJ Maxx scores.

Holy cow. Do you have any idea how much stuff from TJ Maxx can fit in this car?!


It’s definitely the best-looking thing that has ever parked in my driveway. I am in love.


Pearl will be a great family car when we start adding little ones to the equation. I love how tall she is, which means that getting kids in and out will be a breeze. And Pearl drives and handles like a super star, so I feel very safe in her.

Look at her. Is she smiling?!


Pearl is the exact length of Bessie, too, which means that I knew without trying first that she would fit into our world’s smallest garage. The new parking stops are on their way from Amazon now so I don’t have to carefully check thirty times that she is in all the way.


Sometimes, I open the door to the garage just to look at her. I am still in shock that this purdy little lady is mine! And it is such a relief to know that at any moment, I will not be breaking down on the freeway.

It’s easy to imagine little kids riding in here. Nope, we’re not pregnant. But now we’re going to be even more ready for them when it’s time for that!


She just fits. And it’s almost like we hung that bike perfectly all those years ago just to accommodate Pearl into our lives.

She belongs with us now.


These will burn if we’re at the stoplight together, just so you know. Pearl has great shifting and pick-up, so you really have no chance. And it is so smooth! I’ve forgotten what it feels like to have shocks and struts that work!

The bucket seats are a dream. And there is so much leg room…the most of any SUV this size. As you can see, Hubby has already stretched out his long legs to check for room. It handles like a dream and is so much fun to drive.

You could say that I’m pretty tickled with this whole car thing. And just looking at these pictures makes me anxious to go drive. Which I get to do in just a few hours to head to the airport for work.


I feel so blessed that I have a great job that can afford me the chance to get some new-to-me wheels and still pay down my student loans big-time. This only changes the timeframe for payoff by a few months, and it just made sense to stop worrying constantly about my transportation issues.

Welcome, Pearl. I already love and appreciate you very much. Now, let’s go cruising!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Urban Home Love

For work not too long ago, I found myself once again at the Sherman Oaks Galleria Mall for lunch at The Cheesecake Factory. Fate was on my side, because the restaurant didn’t open for another hour. And right across from my favorite place to eat is now my favorite place to shop for home things.

So I helped myself to the store. Here’s a little tour of their current selections.

Why oh why isn’t there an Urban Home in Phoenix?! Beautiful, affordable looks for the home with which I am in love!


I loved these little fishies for bowls of candy or whatever. But probably candy at my house.


The store is easy for people to peruse because things are grouped according to color. If you love green in your home like me, then this section is rather appealing indeed.


And let me just say this. I purposely didn’t sit in this because I know they would have had to close the store to get me to leave it. And it was too big to fit on the airplane flight home, so I knew that it couldn’t come home with me.

Despite my greatest wishes that it could…

I am so excited for the awful summer months to come to a close. We have big plans this fall to use our outdoor patio furniture, and this store only helps get me even more tickled about that! Look at the lanterns hanging underneath the umbrella!

I love the texture of the wicker on these end chairs. Who says that chairs have to match to look good?


Maybe I love this store so much because they make it seem so effortless to create a beautiful room. I love this furniture because it looks like it’s straight out of the fifties…and I love me some mid-century modern goodness!


The combinations of old and new was so pretty. Here, a modern couch paired with a seemingly-ancient coffee table. Brilliant! And I love the colorful vases on top.


Sectionals can be massive, but I really love the compact size of this guy. Just because you own a sectional doesn’t mean that it has to take over your house. I also like this hammered-top round table, too.

I’m trying to think of things in this store that I don’t like…and failing!


I loved the old-fashioned vases or candleholders or whatever they are. You could use them for anything! They are probably candy holders. I love the color, but I also love that they look like antiques.

This may have been what gave me the idea to overhaul our bathroom this past month. A really tall mirror over a vanity just makes sense. I’m not a huge fan on this Asian-inspired table, but don’t tell the store that I said that.

Once again, a neat mirror over a vanity. I like the mirror, but I really like the pretty blue vases on the shelf to the right. Surprise!


The entire store is packed with goodies, and I love the prices. It’s like they combined all of my favorite things and then put good stickers on them.

Please come to Phoenix, Urban Home. Please? Pretty please?


Speaking of cool accessories, look at these nifty little typewriters? What a fun idea…and they would make staging a bookcase or console table a cinch. Again with an old antique-y feel that I love!

If you need to decorate your kitchen, this is also the place. Look at all of those bright, beautiful colors to put on a table! The selection of placemats and table linens in this store is overwhelming. I also love the giant vases displayed on top.

It’s almost like Urban Home was made for OCD-inspired people like myself. You can color-code all of your kitchen tools? Sweet! (I don’t, just so you know).


I really loved this mirror. I bet if I wait long enough, Homegoods will have something similar in no time.


This is further proof that my desire to have green chairs instead of the brown leather ones that we bought two years ago would still be in style. Despite what everyone else thought. See, everyone else?


Though it is somewhat impractical, I really love the idea of a big, comfy bench (with a back, of course!) as two of the chairs to a dining set. The only concern that I have is how difficult it would be to get in and out. Maybe that would be a good option for kids so I could trap them in for their meals?!


More fun accessories, including some nocturnal ones.

And if I didn’t already have oodles of nightstands and end tables in my house, these definitely would have come home with me today. I love the rustic yet modern look. What a beautiful idea!

Somewhere, somehow, Hubby breathes a sigh of relief.


The escalator to the second floor (two floors of this goodness!) gave a great view of lots that Urban Home has to offer. Seriously, when can I move in?


This is the mirror and rug section, apparently. Round, exotic mirrors are really the thing right now. It just so happens that I have three weird ones hanging on my wall. I’m glad that these guys could finally join my mirror party.


These subtle and modern accessories were pretty. Really, you could decorate in any style from this place. These were sleek and elegant, and I like them. But not enough to bring them home.

I’m neither sleek or elegant. And I’m OK with that.


But I really loved these bookends and probably should have brought them home!

Again with a compact sectional sofa. I love how cozy all of the staged rooms are in this place. And the round ottoman doubling as a coffee table is a great way to use a piece twice.


Again, an eclectic collection of furniture that just works so well together! None of us ever needs to fear about things “matching” properly again, because they apparently don’t even have to be close to look awesome!


They even have affordable pleather headboards that would really help make a guest room complete. I’ve been wanting to make another headboard lately…


But it would probably look more like this. Fun curves and a bright pop of color! Isn’t this pretty? I could totally make something like this.


I think that this room was made just for me with the mid-century loving going on. I love the shape and style of the sofa, chair, and coffee table. Right up my alley, wouldn’t you say?


Can you imagine the neat light coming from these at night with a candle lit up inside? I almost bought a few, just to try that neatness theory at home. They could also house candy, probably. And that always lights me up!

I actually did buy something today! We love the green ottoman so much from my last visit, that I came in hoping to find another one. For $19, you really can’t beat it. So I brought this little guy home, and now I don’t have to share with Hubby when we both need to put our feet up!

That’s what we refer to around here as a win-win. Especially because I got the last one in the store.


Not everything is affordable in this store…they have clearance sections where things are exceedingly affordable! I loved these lamps that were looking for a new home. At about $30 a piece and coming with a shade, these were a great steal! And so pretty!


This is a wide shot of part of the upstairs section of this store, just to give you an idea of how much fun can be had in here. I love colored glass vases (and just scored some in New Jersey this past weekend for work), so these round ones right in front are certainly pretty.

But not bright enough for me, since I have a thing for pops of color, yo.


Last but certainly not least, I fell in love with these beautiful tea light candle holders. You could group these guys together for a centerpiece like they did here, or spread the love and have them in different areas throughout the house to unite a space. I thought they were so pretty for fall, too, which I’m told has arrived.

I don’t believe it, since we will still be triple digits this week.

So there you have it! Another visit to one of the best stores in the west. But I am truly hoping that they come a little further east for me…

What did you like? Do you like these home store tours, or do they lack enough airplanes to wet your whistle?

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