Sunday, December 30, 2012

Baby Spice

I've heard that girls are made with sugar and spice and everything nice.  Well, here's hope that our daughter will be just that.  If she's anything like my niece, Gracie, she will have a little more to her than sweets.  I believe it's what you would call "sass." 

It's been pretty difficult trying to decorate the nursery for Little B.  Everything that we found looked like a Care Bear threw-up all over it!  Nothing but rainbows and butterflies.  It felt like we were in a staring contest with a drug induced Care Bear.  We went to store after store and there was nothing but bright colors surrounding purple bunnies, and pink flowers with happy faces.  The only way we would allow anything close to that is if we found bedding of a cat riding a unicorn with a whip. "Keeeyaaah!"

When we first started brainstorming about the nursery, this is what we knew we wanted in it:

  •  Portrait of Audrey Hepburn
  • Crystal Chandelier
  • Soft blue wing back chairs
  • Soft pink

  • Now we have the room finished and this is how it rings up:

    • Audry Hepburn painting - found at our favorite local art gallery - Ross! $20
    • Crystal Chandelier - a great find at Class and Trash. Only $65 .  We had to buy new light covers and we added the lamp shades for an additional $45.
    • Crib - a Craig's List find. $135 
    • Mommy and Daddy blue velvet wing back chairs - they were waiting for us at the local thrift store - Fantastic Thrift. $35 each, totalling $70 (We lucked out - all they needed was a good cleaning.)
    • Rug - from Garden Ridge. $50
    • Credenza - I had for years and used as a dresser. $40  
    • Pink lamps - go to 50 Shades of Lamp $10 
    • Ottoman - another Class and Trash find. $20
    • Throw pillows - on sale at Target.  $15 
    • 6 mirrors - $5 a piece at Target. Total $30
    • Drapes in a soft faux silk from Target.  $24 each.  Total $48
    • Bedding: bumper, crib skirt, and sheets - from Bye Bye Baby.  $65
    • Paint  - Valspar Ice Rink Blue from Lowe's.  $25
    • Total price - $638
    When we got the nursery finished and added up our total price, we realized $638 could be the cost of only the bedding and the crib for many parents.  Most nurseries aren't sporting a crystal chandelier, or velvet wing back chairs for their newborns.  But here at the House of Brockman we enjoyed spicing up Little B's room to ensure she too will have the stylish gene.

    Friday, December 28, 2012

    For the Love of Home

    Have you ever gone to the theater to watch a spy movie, then when you come out of the movie, you find yourself driving home a little more dramatic than usual?  You check your rear view mirror often to insure no criminals are following you and your family home.  You change lanes more often than necessary and drive a little too fast for your wife's comfort.  I love the way certain things can transport us to a grander reality.  Sometimes it's a spy movie,  a TV show, or even an item around your house. 

    Thanks to Emily, I have a renewed appreciation for our home.  One of my Christmas wishes this year was the Nate Berkus book from Target.  As I was reading the stories of others loving their lives, and living much like us at the House of Brockman, I was starting to have that flutter in my stomach.  I love our home.  I love when you first move into a new space and you almost have that child-like love, like a school girl crush.  You have dreams like, "I'm going to completely re-do the kitchen," or "I'm going to refinish the wood floors," or "I'm going to put in a slide from my bedroom right down to the kitchen so I'll never have to take the stairs again!" (That was my dream as a child.)  The renewed love is also exciting to me.  The "Wow, I'm grateful." or the "I forgot I had that!"  

    Inspiration is all around us, speaking to us, but it's up to us to listen.  Why is that painting of the birch trees speaking to you?  Why are you still thinking about that gold mirror you saw last week?  There is a common saying that goes, "If walls could talk..."  I'd like to dive deeper into that saying.  If your walls could talk, what would they say?  Would they speak about you and your family?  Or would your walls speak about you like a stranger they hardly knew? 

    What we put in our rooms should reflect us, almost as if guests could say, "Yep, this is you" as soon as they walk through the front door.  How lovely would if be to live in your home filled not only with things you have to live with, but also with pieces of you and your family's memories, jokes, and a love for your home and all that is in it.

    In Nate Berkus' new book, "The Things That Matter," he shares his story, and also the stories of how he helped his close friends find the things that matter in their homes.  It is definitely a must read to help discover your style and rediscover your home.

    Monday, December 17, 2012

    No More Silent Nights

    There is something about the holidays that make people feel a little home sick.  I think there are two definitions to this phrase: one - to miss being home, and being excited to see loved ones that you haven't seen for a while; two -  you're just sick knowing that coming home means a tidal wave of drama is about to unfold.  During our traditional Christmas dinner, from Grandma's stuffing, to your great aunt's Jell-o surprise, or whatever you call that thing, make sure it doesn't end up being a "silent night."  This idea can help you make it a holy night of fun!  This simple idea can make your Christmas Dinner be filled with more laughter and less family drama.

    Catch my Phrase
    Let's play a game, shall we?  All that's needed is:
    - small pieces of paper (one for each guest playing)
    - 1 pen or pencil
    - a little imagination
    This easy game is good for ages 10+. 
    • The host or hostess writes two different phrases on each piece of paper before the guests arrive. Be sure that none of the phrases are the same.  Also, make the phrases fairly common, and not too difficult, for example:
      • Can you feel the love tonight?
      • Virginia is for lovers
    • Place the pieces of paper with the two phrases written on them under each plate.
    • As you're about to start the meal instruct the guests to look under their plates, and read their cards.  Make sure they keep it a secret. 
    • Explain they are to somehow work their two phrases into the dinner conversation.
    • The object of the game is not to get caught using your phrase, while the other guests are trying to catch you in the act. 
    • If you get caught using both phrases, you're out.
    This game is a great way to keep conversations going, and helps to avoid drama.  Now you and your in-laws can all sleep in heavenly peace.

    Saturday, December 15, 2012

    Gossip Girl

    Gossip Girl fan here.  If anyone is a fan of Gossip Girl get ready to be excited!  For those of you who don't know what Gossip Girl is, I'll explain.  It's a TV Drama about the elite who live in the Upper East Side of Manhattan, and the notorious blogger, Gossip Girl, shares all the dirt on her favorite victims.  The stars of the show are:

    Blake Lively... Serena van der Woodsen

    Leighton Meester... Blair Waldorf

    Penn Badgley... Dan Humphrey

    Chace Crawford... Nate Archibald

    Ed Westwick... Chuck Bass

    With trust funds, fashion shows, and parties comes with its fare share of drama.  But more than anything, the characters have incredible style.  Each of the penthouses are more beautiful than the last.  Here at the House of Brockman, we have a way for you to bring the feeling of the Upper East Side into your home!

    My favorite character is Blair Waldorf because she is nothing but a Queen B.  As a dictator of taste, she commands her minions to do her bidding while she lives in the most beautiful penthouse filled with the very best of everything.  I'm very pleased to announce that here at the House of Brockman, we have the very same head board as Blair Waldorf, and we are selling it!

    As you know, everything comes at a price, and since none of us have trust funds with millions of dollars in it, we will be selling this headboard to Virgina readers only. Sorry! So, we're selling Blair's Queen Size headboard for $75.00 if you want us to paint it for you. The new owner has the option of what color they want it to be painted. If you have the DYI spirit in you, and would like to paint it yourself, the price is $50.00.

    So, if you want to live a little like Blair Waldof, and like the Upper East Side, let us know if you want to be the lucky owner. Email us at or place a comment below. So, sleep tight my Virginia readers; deals are just around the corner. You know you love it. XOXO.

    -House of Brockman

    Friday, December 14, 2012

    Deck the Table with Solo Cups?

    "Out with the old and in with the convenient."  As Americans, I think this is swiftly becoming our new mantra.  Paper plates or china?  Red Solo Cups are kind of Christmasy right?  Recently, Emily and I have been on both a Jane Austen kick as well as Downton Abbey.  I'm imagining a world in which there are butlers who serve you your morning paper on a silver tray.  Now-a-days it's more like your cell phone on a silver tray.  Although, that could be still be elegant, perhaps there is way we can take the old and make it new again.  I'm a person who enjoys braking the mold on whatever I can, but when it comes to setting the table for your Christmas holiday dinner parties, the classics will always have it right.

    Today I called up Emily and said, "I'm sorry.  I did something bad."  She followed up with, "What did you buy now?"
    "Another set of dishes.  But this was too good of a deal to pass up!"  I have been wanting a set of simple white plates with a platinum ring for a while now.  I had been blessed to find a set of eight dinner plates, salad plates, dessert plates, and bowls for a discounted price of - yes - $3.25.  Now there was no way I could pass it up!  So here I  was possibly in trouble, not for the price, but for the fact we already own about 100 other plates!  Luckily, I have a great wife and she forgave me.  But the worst part of all is when I buy a new set of dishes, the voices in my head keep chanting "Party! Party!"

    'Tis the season for over eating.  Well, if your going to pack on the pounds, at least do it with a little style.  Here are some ideas for you holiday dinner parties:

    White Out

    Silver and Gold
    The Giving Tree 

    Monday, December 10, 2012

    Budget Cuts for Santa

    My poor best friend's kids!  I hope they have a good Christmas this year. My friend Candace is a stay-at-home mom with two kids.  Her family, much like many other families, aren't having the easiest time in this economy - especially during this holiday season.  It's amazing how every kid has this grand idea that somewhere between Thanksgiving and Christmas, their parents all of a sudden find millions of dollars!  And since their parents have this new found fortune, there should be no problem purchasing the child a new i-pad, an Xbox 360, or every Barbie ever made!  I was joking with Candace and told her, "Instead of gifts this year, write a letter to your kids from Santa explaining the delicate economy of the North Pole in hopes they will understand why they are not getting as many presents this year."

    Dear Children,
    As you know, I Santa, love all good little boys and girls around the world!  But, unfortunately, due to the economy we have had to make a few budget cuts here at the North Pole. I'm very sad to report, since our numbers have been lower than projected, we had to close half of our gift wrapping wing and all the toy painting stations.  Our production has caused us to have lower amounts of toys for Christmas of 2012.  We also had to raise our standards for the Naughty and Nice List.  In doing so, we have hired more field elves who come into your homes to watch, analyze and report your every move.  We call it, "The Elf on the Shelf Project." We have been talking with many of the accounting elves about trying to prepare for the fiscal cliff we are facing.  We are also currently talking to both the Grinch and Frosty the Snowman to see if we may be able to out source any additional work that is needed.   I have even cashed in every Frequent Flier Mile to ensure I will make it to all the good children this year.  Unfortunately, it may take a little longer since we can only take half of the reindeer because their food has been rationed off.  Also, Comet, Blitzen, and Dasher have been layed off due to the Reindeer Strike for more food.  Since the layoffs we have decided it will take longer than Christmas Eve night to deliver all the gifts throughout the world.  So, we have made an official declaration here at the North Pole that Christmas will run through December 27 of this year.  We ask that you will be patient, and I guarantee your gift will arrive within 1-3 business days.   Lastly, if you would like to donate any used toys to our workshop, it would be most appreciated.  To those children who made the Naughty List, you will not be receiving coal this year since we couldn't fit it into the budget, so expect nothing.

    Thank you,

    Sunday, December 9, 2012

    Go Go Decorators!

    I have heard many people ask, "Why doesn't my house look good?  I don't know how to make it look like I want it to."  I was thinking long and hard about why people have such a hard time with decorating.  I realized that "baby I was born this way" (thank you Lady Gaga). I was born a dictator of taste.  As a child, I was very particular about having the correct Power Ranger sheets with all red, green, blue, black, pink, and yellow ranger pillows accounted for and in their correct place on my bed.  I knew I would sleep safely with the rangers by my side - ready to take on any monster that might be lurking about, taking them down with an overly dramatic "Come on guys!  Let's get them!" and a roundhouse kick to the face!  Do I need to say more?  As a teenager, I was the one to select the new paint colors for the house to make sure it was a good choice, because let's face it, nobody likes puke green on your walls.  What do these dictators of taste have that others don't?

    Design Confidence 
    Design confidence doesn't necessarily imply 'self-belief' in your ability to succeed in decorating.  For instance, you may be partial to a certain style like traditional or modern.  When a person doesn't dwell on negative opinions from others, they can be more 'design-confident.'  Now, you're not worrying about other's opinions and their disapproval, and you are more able to focus on the design of your room.  This means you can enjoy the process of decorating and feel confident in the success of a well decorated room.  Believing in your abilities to decorate comes through successful experiences which will solidify a sense of design confidence.

    There are plenty of things that give us a lack of design confidence.  Some people have a hard time visualizing how they want a room to look.  Some have expensive taste and don't have the money to execute the look they want.   Thanks to my grandmother, who was a therapist, I have learned a little about the psychology of people.  I was thinking about how personalities can tie into different people's personal style.  So lay back and tell me about your design problems, and tell me - how does that make you feel? 

    I was talking to a friend of mine who was having the hardest time turning her house into a home.  When you walk into her house you might confuse it with a terrorist apartment, because there is little to nothing in it.  She explained how she wanted her apartment to be filled with color and bold patterns.  When she walked into her home she wanted to be greeted with almost an obnoxious amount of color.  Is this really what she wants for her home?  As I, Dr. Brockman was listening to her, my design-psychoanalysis was taking effect.  I thought of who she is as a person, verses what she wanted in her home.  Now, this girl is one of the quietest people I have ever met. She enjoys reading books, and is never the center of attention.  Most of her clothing is very easy-breezy, but mostly just easy, with plenty of neutrals, and very little accessories.  Come to think of it, I have never seen her wearing bright colors or bold patterns.  She continued on explaining about her fictitious home, as I dug deep to who she truly is.  She simply didn't match up!  The answer became clear to me as to why she was having a hard time with her home.  She's not the type of person who would sport bold patterns or bright colors.  If she's not comfortable wearing clothes like that down the street, why  does she think she will be comfortable with loud patterns and colors in her home?  My friend dreamed of the rave-like apartment because I believe that is who she wants to be.  Since she's not that type of person, she doesn't completely understand that type of life style.  Which brings us back to the original problem - the execution of designing her apartment.

    How can we figure out what our styles are?  One huge clue is looking at your wardrobe.  What are your favorite clothes to wear?  Are they patterned or solid?  Do they seem more classic in style or more trendy of today?  Do you accessorize?  So, go now to your closet and pick out three of your favorite fashion pieces.  What do you like about these pieces?  Is it the style, the color, the embellishments?  Do they make you feel comfortable?  These are all clues to who you really are.  If you love the style you wear, chances are you will love that same style in your home. 
    Take this quiz and find out your decor style

    Why can't we been more like the Power Rangers when it comes to fighting off our fears with our home decor?  With a theme song that will sound like "GO-GO Decorators," we can mighty-morph our rooms into what they should be.  I believe we can do just that, if we are true to who we really are.  If we build up our design confidence we can accomplish whatever we want to do.
    [Design Public Announcement brought to you by House of Brockman]

    Saturday, December 8, 2012

    Tour de Richmond

    Is it too old fashion for me to think life can be beautiful with love and excitement?  As I was walking today, I saw something and I couldn't help but grin.  I watched a very determined old lady riding her bicycle up a hill at the pace of a tortoise, with her matching helmet and bell.  She was much unlike her fellow riders in the downtown area of Richmond, who sometimes travel much faster than cars driving on the road.   Here she was, oblivious to the outside faces watching her, smiling as she pedaled along.  I believe she was enjoying what she was doing and doing what she loved to do.  I felt inspired by her passion.  I've heard from my aunt, who is a physical therapist, many stories about how many elderly people (probably much younger than our friend the bike lady) live a life of "No, I can't" and "There is no way."  I'm sure there could be medical reasons why they think this way, or is it just a lack of passion?

    As Emily and I are getting ready for our daughter to come into this world, I have been forced to think about what characteristics I want to bestow upon our children.  Is it a taste for finer thing in life? Impeccable style?  A love for other people?  All of these things are great, but the one that I wish most of all to bestow is passion.  Passion is the life blood that keeps us going, keeps us motivated.  Passion is what makes dreams come true.  Passion is the shield that protects you from negativity, and the "I can't" turns into the "I will."  Failure does not seem as failure, but a new and inspiring challenge to take the next opportunity to readjust and come out on top.  Passion ever moves us forward to the future and our goals.

    Bless this old woman for her strength as she pedaled slowly up the hill, looking a bid ridiculous.  I'm sure it wasn't the easiest thing for her to do this morning, but she had the ability to push through it.  But above all, she was enjoying herself, regardless of what others thought she should be doing or what is proper for a woman of her age.  I'm grateful for my own passion which has taken me and sustained me through the hard times, and has never wavered.  I'm grateful to the readers who have been reading our blog, House of Brockman.  I hope you understand that your support is doing more than adding page views to our blog, but it is truly inspiring us to continue on building up our lives.  I hope you can share with us your lives as well.

    Thank you,
    The Brockmans


    7 Things Chris Can't Live Without

    As I was driving today, which I do quite frequently, I thought of the most terrible scenario: What if the world was taken over by terrorists and I was about to be executed firing squad style? My life would flash before my eyes and I would think of all the things I loved.  I decided to share with you what my top seven items are.  I figured in this list we can count out Emily or members of my family.  So, here is the list of things that I cannot live without.  Without any of these items would come my swift and inevitable death.  OK, I'm a little dramatic, but I would be really sad without them:

    1. Cell Phone
    7,756 minutes last month.  Do I need to say more?  Well, it's a good thing I can!  My cell phone is like both my right and left hands.  I have to always keep it charged, which is why I go through phone chargers like underwear.

    2.  Mexican Food
    Since I'm from California, I believe I have eaten my quota of pinto beans to be considered a Mexican.  I miss more than anything the Mexican Taco Trucks back in California, where no one speaks English, but it's the best food in the world - even if you may be eating cat.

    3.  Crystal Stemware
    They're not only for holidays and anniversaries, but for everyday use!  We don't own a single glass.  We only use goblets of every shape and size.  The best thing about drinking from goblets is it seems to make your drink feel more expensive.  They don't have to cost a fortune either.  My favorite crystal we own is a set of ten goblets which we got for $5.00!


    4.  Perrier Water
    Two reason why I love it: Bubbles, and it comes from France.

    5.  Magazines
    I'm obsessed with magazines.  I really only get a few every month.  Traditional Home, House Beautiful, Veranda, Elle Decor, Architectural Digest, GQ, Details, Vogue Living, sometimes a bridal magazine that catches my eye, any specialty magazines that I'm interested in.  I can never throw them out.  We have stacks and piles and endless amounts of magazines in our home.  I can look at the same one over and over again, visiting them like an old friend.  The only downside is every month I'm coming closer and closer to becoming a hoarder.

    6.  Trashy TV
    I love trashy TV!  There is possibly nothing better to watch.  It's comforting to know that there are crazier people in the world than me.  And most of these crazy people have reality TV shows. 

    7.  Our Purple Spinet Piano
    We found our piano this past May for only $50.  Both Emily and I play the piano, so this was a definite must.  I love to have things that are rare and not easily recognized what store it came from.  We saw it in the back of a thrift store and automatically noticed it was not a full size piano.  The keyboard was significantly shorter than your average piano.  We came to find out this type of piano is called a Spinet.  It was perfect because it was small, and since we didn't have room for a baby grand.  This rare acoustic spinet was a terrible shade of brown, so Emily chose the color Poetic Purple to refinish the piano.

    Friday, December 7, 2012

    7 Things Emily Can't Live Without

    Well, the world is supposed to end  in just a few short weeks, and I figured a list of things I couldn't live without was a bit ironic since, according to the Mayans, I will be living without them on the 21st of December and forever after that.  In case I don't make it through the destruction of the world, I want everyone to know the things that make me the most happy in my life:

    1.  My Crappy Cell Phone
    I don't have a smart phone and I probably won't for a while.  But I'm attached to my "stupid" phone, even though it's scratched up and doesn't have all the bells and whistles that modern day phones have.  But on the other hand, it does have a slide out FULL keyboard and touch screen capabilities!

    2.  Burt's Bees Chapstick
    I have super dry skin!  I was born and raised in the humidity of Virginia, but my skin doesn't know that.  You would think I lived in Death Valley by the look of my scaly skin.  Naturally, my lips get super dry too - especially in the winter.  Peppermint Burt's Bees is the best!!  It instantly moisturizes your lips and I love the cool tingly peppermint it leaves.  As a bonus, the peppermint smell masks bad breath just a little, when a mint or gum is unavailable.

    3.  Brown/Black Mascara
    I have yet to find that perfect tube of mascara.  All I know is, if I don't wear mascara I look completely dead!  My eyelashes are such a light color, if I don't darken them up they look nonexistent.  I used to love the Sonia Kashuk line of mascara from Target - but recently I feel they have changed their formula.  Now it's really thick and gets clumpy very easily.  I've tried Avon and Mary Kay and both are OK - but not terrific.  I've also tried just about every brand Target and Wal-Mart carry.  If anyone could tell me what the perfect mascara is, I would greatly appreciate it!

    4.  Pumps and High Heels
    The greatest of man's creations!  Heels fix everything!!  They make your outfit look ten times better, they give you better posture (which in turn flatters your figure), they give you more confidence, make your legs and butt look terrific, add a few inches to your height, and they are just so pretty.  Invest girls - you're not complete without them.

    5.  Chick-fil-A
    Chris grew up in California - which is why he can't live without Mexican food.  I grew up in the south and everyone down here knows the best fried chicken sandwich belongs to Chick-fil-A!  The sandwich is best enjoyed with Chick-fil-A sauce (a delicious combination of honey mustard and barbeque).  I even worked at Chick-fil-A off and on throughout college - mostly just to eat the free chicken they provided their employees!  I was deprived of my fried chicken when I was at school in Idaho - and it was terrible!!  Every time I flew home I would try to get a layover in Atlanta because there is a Chick-fil-A in the airport and I know exactly where it is.

    6.  Dairy Products (milk, and cheese especially)
    When I read Chris my list he said, "Yeah, it sounds like your pregnant."  But the thing is, I've always loved dairy products and I'm so thankful I'm not lactose intolerant, or I might die.  My grocery list in college normally looked like this:
    - bread
    - milk
    - sliced cheese
    - shredded cheese
    - yogurt
    - string cheese
    There were a few other things of course, but this was the gist of it.  Yogurt was for breakfast, bread and sliced cheese was grilled cheese for lunch, shredded cheese was to add to a salad, soup, mashed potatoes, etc. and string cheese was the perfect snack.  Like I said, I would die if I were lactose intolerant.

    7.  Netflix
    The best go-to for boredom, or if you are in a movie mood and don't know what to watch.  I love just browsing the movies and laughing at all the terrible movies that should never have been made.  There are many great classics, and TV shows as well.  Careful not to get addicted!

    Thursday, December 6, 2012

    Beauty or a Beast

    I once heard "beauty is in the eye of the beholder."  I'm sorry, but you never hear that phrase when something is really beautiful - I'm just saying.  I've found I have a secret.  I'm in love.
    Just the other day while I was driving down the street when I saw her on the corner.  She was so beautiful with her long legs, and I believe she was French.  After I convinced myself that she must be mine, and a very illegal U-turn, I raced back to her.  To my horror, a larger lady got there before me!  Forcefully, she was loading her into the back of her car.  She was gone...
    Oh, I forgot to tell you that she was a french country style love seat.  Ever since then I have been on the look out for a love seat or a settee.  With the lost hope, I searched like a lost puppy realizing I would never be able to find somethings as lovely and for free.

    Unfortunately, I have forever lost the love of my life to a random act of change.  The other woman came between me and my settee.  I'm truly grateful for the fact that I've always gotten what I've desired; all that it takes is a little patience, and an ever searching eye.

    At a grand opening at a not-so-grand store (the Goodwill), I saw a not-so-very handsome love seat.   So this is what they meant when they said, "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder."  a not-so-very attractive love seat that was upholstered in a lovely combination of cheap polyester and clear vinyl.  How lovely.  Here is my question: is this piece a beauty or a beast?  See what I will make of this pretty.

    Wednesday, December 5, 2012

    Holy Deal

    Here is a little game for our readers:

    Why is the number 7,756 significant for me in the month of November?
    A. It is the amount of money we made.
    B. It is the number of hits we've had on the House of Brockman.
    C. It is the number of cell phone minutes I used.
    D. It is the amount of our credit card bill.

    They say that your home should be your refuge from the world, almost like a heaven here on earth.  Something I have always wanted in our home to make it feel a little more holy were a few old church pews.  For years I have wanted some.  I was able to find some pews here and there, but the prices were more like the devil than angelic.  You would be surprised how much these old church pews are in demand considering the hours we've spent sitting on those hard, uncomfortable seats feeling the love of God with a pain in our butts.  As a child these long benches were more than just seats.  They were a suitable place to play hide and seek, a desk, a racetrack, a jungle gym, and even a bed.  So, what better reason to have them in our homes?  The only problem is, they are huge!!


    By the way, the answer to the question is C.  Last month I made a personal record of the amount of minutes I used talking on my cell phone.  The minute usage came to a grand total of 7,756 minutes!  Emily and I figured out that equals to a little over five days of straight talking.  If any of you know me personally, you know I'm a talker.  I just love to talk all day - every day.  And I can always find someone to talk to or something to talk about.  This talent has come in very handy many times.  As I make my usual rounds to my favorite thrift stores, I'm usually greeted by a "Well hello!" or a "Hey Chris!"  Two ladies who work in one of the thrift stores I frequently go to, have gotten to know me.  They always joke with me, asking me when I'm going to find them husbands, since Emily and I do weddings.  They joke one wants true love while the other just wants a man with money.  Everywhere I go, I make sure to leave an impression and build friendships with employees of my favorite shops.  From the very start, when I moved to Virginia, I made friends with the employees of  the local Goodwill.  I somehow convinced one of the workers to call me when they got in anything good.  I have found when you become their friend, you are no longer just a regular customer.  You're now a friend who they're willing to help out just a little bit more.

    About two weeks ago as I was coming home from work, I decided to go to one of our favorite thrift stores - Fantastic Thrift. I walked in and there they were - lined up like hot dogs in a package.  The pews I have always wanted!  I counted six old church pews that were ten feet long.  I wanted one so badly, but how was I going to get a ten foot long pew home in our little car?  As I sat on a pew like a sinner in church praying for divine guidance,  my fellow shoppers moved all around me oblivious to my thrift store chapel.  Then, it hit me!  I could sell them!!  I had the number of the owner of my favorite antique store - Class and Trash.  The price the thrift store had on the pews were $150 for all six.  I let the owner of Class and Trash know what was going on and I knew it would be a great deal for him since they could sell one pew for almost $150.   The deal was, I would buy the six pews from the thrift store and sell him five of them for $150.  Since I found this great deal I told him I needed him to drop the sixth one off at my house - fixing my problem of getting this spiritual beast home. The deal was made and prayers were answered, all because of my big mouth and the friendships I have made.  I finally got what I wanted - a free church pew that was also moved for free. So I guess the 7,756 minutes wasn't wasted time at all.  But thanks Sprint for counting!