The life and words of Ashley, Erin, and Michelle

Everybody Loves Free! June 29, 2010

Filed under: Life in General — Erin Joy @ 2:22 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

One of my bosses recently told me that there is no communication on earth as powerful as the advertisement of free food. If you have free donuts in one part of the building, it’s almost a guarantee that people will be there within five minutes to help consume them. And he’s right.

People flock to the chance to get at something free. Did you know, for instance, that every time the red sign at Krispie Kreme is lit up, they’re making fresh donuts, and you can go in to sample one for free with no obligation to purchase one? I’ll admit: I’ve done it. I’ve also bought a donut once or twice out of guilt for doing that too.

But what I want to know is if this impulse really is worth it? I know some frugal friends who will search out practical items they need for free. On the other hand, I also know several people who have piles of unneeded “things” just because someone once gave it to them for free. I’ll admit, I’m guiltily one of the highest offenders in the second group. But why?

Take for instance a conversation I had the other night with my mom. She and my dad had recently gone on a cruise in Alaska, and they came back with three tote bags, one from the cruise line and two from the specific cruise that they were a part of. As my mom was unpacking and showing me some of the fun things they bought, she said, “What am I going to do with these?”

When I asked her why she got them, she told me the one was left in their room for them and the other two were given to them at the beginning of the cruise with all of their agenda information in them. I can understand the latter two, but why take the one that was left in their room just because it was left there.

That’s why hotels started charging people for the “freebies” they’d take from the hotel bathrooms. People would take them because they were free.

I think the worst part about all these “freebies” is usually that they are impractical, obnoxious and you don’t have a place to store them. I am hoping to get rid of a lot of them in the next couple months. I wonder who I should pass them off to.

What are some of the free things you have floating around your house that you probably should have turned down?


Battle Scars of the Modern Day Workforce May 20, 2010

The one thing I love most about my job is that I’m never doing the same thing from one week to the next. Last week, I spent the entire week working on a PowerPoint® presentation while every day so far this week, I have been working on cleaning a room that started out looking quite a bit like the cover of this book:

Berenstein Bears

No joke. That’s almost exactly what it looked like, but with more boxes and no kids. By now, it’s begun to look a lot more like this, but with toys lining the walls instead of artwork and no carpet:

Please note, neither of these is really my workplace. Just comparisons. But I would love to work in the world of the Berenstain Bears, but that’s another blog post in itself.

While cleaning yesterday I somehow managed to nick my finger on a door, and earlier in the week, I think I did something awful to my finger trying to break down corrugated boxes. It was sore for two whole days afterward. I haven’t felt this beat up at work since working in the factory! (But I like this job a hundred and fifty million times better, let me tell you!)

Sure, sometimes I may use these as battle scars to compare with other people at work and see who’s suffered the most damage over the last three months, but there are other non-physical scars people who work here like to compare, too. These are scars we take pride in, things that make us feel like we’ve done our duty to our jobs.

  • The number of paper cuts received in a single day
  • The number of hours of overtime you work in one week
  • The latest time you’ve ever stayed after the typical 5 p.m. closing time (or your shift if you work something other than the typical 9-5 job)
  • The earliest one person has ever had to come into work
  • The most changes to a single project in one day
  • The longest length of time it takes to upload a file to the ftp site
  • The number of times you cut yourself with an Xacto blade in one day
  • How many cans of 5-hour energy drink needed to survive one week
  • How many cups of coffee or cans of pop one person can drain in the same day
  • The longest flight an individual has had to take on account of work

Are there any battle scars you compare with your coworkers to prove who is the most dedicated to your jobs, no matter what industry you work in? Are there other things that should be added to this list?


Go-To Gifts for Bridal Showers March 16, 2010

It seems like everyone dreads a bridal shower. Whether it’s the games or the socialite interaction between people who have only the bride in common, it’s an accepted obligation that people do not seem to look forward to when they are preparing for a friend’s wedding.

And then there’s the gift. What do you get for a wedding shower gift? According to most bridal shower etiquette web sites, I have found that the gift should cost anywhere between $25 and $75, depending on the type of shower, and it should be something useful for the house. That makes sense to me.

But it also says that the bride’s registry should not be advertised in the invitations and should be spread via “word of mouth” or on a wedding web site. This is  something I think a lot of couples are starting to ignore, as most of the invitations to wedding showers I’ve received (or sent) in the past couple years have included registry tags.

If you haven’t noticed already, I am “going through that phase in life” where all my friends are marrying and being merry. After not knowing what to get after the first one or two, I decided I needed to find a unique go-to gift that I can give so that I don’t have to end up buying a bunch of dish towels every time someone got married. (It’s just not fun enough to give just that in my opinion.)

It didn’t take me long to find something fun that people will remember and that people will find practical: Plungers!

How often does a person get a gift of a plunger? And women who are getting married usually don’t think of the fact that guys tend to need a plunger a little more often than girls do.

From that decision came the question, “How do I wrap this?” That’s when I was able to get a little bit creative.

The first time, I found a bucket to put it in and wrapped it using some black towels rather than some paper. (Make it as useful as possible, right?) That worked for a couple of times, but it’s difficult trying to wrap a bucket in a towel. Normally, it’s a towel in a bucket, so I decided to decorate the plunger like a flower.

I used the bucket as a pot and bought two brown towels for the dirt. I wrapped the base of the plunger in the towels and taped on construction paper petals and leaves. It was cute, I’ll admit. The bride even gave me the “award” for the most creatively wrapped gift. But I kept thinking back to my logic before, “Why not make all of it useful?” That’s why I’d wrapped it in towels instead.

So, last time I had a bridal shower to attend, I scoured the shelves for something that would look like flower petals and for something I could use as the leaves. I found a green dish cloth for the leaves and some sponges for the petals. I ended up tying both of them on with ribbon. It turned out cute, and the bride loved it. Of course.

Each plunger is specially chosen for the couple’s situation and personalities. Not everyone can use a full-size plunger, so I even bought a sink plunger for my friends who would be travelling by airplane back and forth between London and the States.

If you’re attending a shower sometime soon, you’re welcome to use my idea, just make sure I’m not already going to the shower, too. Otherwise, neither of us will get the award for most creative gift.

And one last thing: when I get married, I just ask that everyone else does not get me a plunger. Trust me, I own too many already.

So, what’s your go-to gifts for a bridal shower? Or even for a wedding?


December Daily Day 8 December 9, 2009

Filed under: Life in General,Photos — michellehuegel @ 12:30 pm
Tags: , ,

Today marked my second day of enforced cleaning isolation. Thankfully I got the majority of cleaning finished by about 3pm, and Grandma got to see her grandbaby! To be perfectly honest, it’s not 100% clean like some people’s houses I know. But that’s just not happening for us at this point in our lives. Josh still needs to mop our three small areas of linoleum, and I need to clear off the catch-all table by the front door and do some filing. But otherwise, the clutter is put away, floors vacuumed, sinks and counters scrubbed, laundry manageable. As long as I’m happy it’s all good – because I’m the mom! Hah!

I started on the first page of my hybrid calendars. Twice. The first time my computer overheated and died. Second time Photoshop crashed. This is not an auspicious start. I’m nothing if not gosh-darned stubborn, though, so if/when Cai naps tomorrow, I’ll remember to plug in my cooling fan and save every three seconds. Here’s the templates I’m starting with. I’ll include pictures of the finished products too (assuming I ever get that far!). Right now the plan is to buy photo ink and nice matte photo paper for my parents’ printer and print them at home. I can do multiple to a page and make sure everything is how I want it. Not sure if it will end up cheaper or more expensive than having them printed somewhere else. But I like the control. I know that’s a shock to some of you…

Cai’s getting sicker. He ran a fever tonight, poor cheeks were so flushed, and you could just tell he was miserable. I don’t anticipate a good night. We’re all praying that this bug runs its course before Christmas – we’re leaving the 18th to travel for a week to both of my grandparents, one in Iowa and the other in St. Louis. It’s just not Christmas without traveling to see family, but it would be pretty miserable with a sick anyone.

PS – A certain observant someone brought to my attention the fact that I somehow missed posting Day 5. Obviously I can’t count (I’m an English major, remember??). So I will post it later today 🙂 – I’m sure you all are dying to know what excitement swept the Huegel household on December 5, right?!


Messes June 16, 2009

Filed under: Writing — ashleybarrett @ 11:34 am
Tags: , , , , , ,

In one of my all-time favorite books on writing, Bird by Bird, author Anne Lamott says,

“Perfectionism means that you try desperately not to leave so much mess to clean up. But clutter and mess show us that life is being lived. Clutter is wonderfully fertile ground—you can still discover new treasures under all those piles, clean things up, edit things out, fix things, get a grip. Tidiness suggests that something is as good as it’s going to get. Tidiness makes me think of held breath, of suspended animation, while writing needs to breathe and move.”

Even though she’s speaking metaphorically, I’ve thought about it’s possible literal meaning when I ask myself the question, “Should I write or clean the bathroom/ clean the kitchen/ mop the floors/ slice that fruit?” God willing, I’ll have time for both but which comes first?

I often choose the cleaning, when I know I’ll have time for both because, well, I like a clean apartment. I feel more at ease. Maybe I just need to loosen up. But this morning because I’m not sure I’ll have time for both, I chose writing. And although I feel pretty good about it, I also feel somewhat anxious and distractable.

Many of my writing friends say they’ve learned to live in a house that Martha Stewart might scoff at so they have sufficent time to write. When push comes to shove, they felt called by God to write but not to dust the chandelier daily. Pretty liberating, huh?

I understand why a lot of writer’s leave the house to work. Since being in my messy apartment makes me more anxious and therefore less creative and efficient; I’ll probably leave home when I have lots of writing work that needs done and a less than tidy apartment. But for the most part I enjoy the ability to switch mental gears between writing and homemaking. I’ve also found that while rinsing plates or sweeping, my subconscious mind untangles knots that tripped me up at my desk.

I also feel more comfortable in my own space, I can listen to music, eat for free and talk to myself as needed. And when it’s relatively tidy, I think my thoughts can move around without bumping into anything.

What about you? How do you balance your professional life and housework? Do you a little mess comforting or annoying?

I’m off to slice the fruit.