Great Expectations

or “My Life in Blog Sounds Much Cooler Than It Really Is”

Archive for September, 2009

A pretty little present…

Posted by mandyhuckins on September 11, 2009

With her amazing color combinations, never ending stock of ribbons, creative embellishments and layering galore, A Gift Wrapped Life is the undisputed master mistress of the gift wrapping universe.  Here are just a few of my favorites:



Seriously, are they not to die for?

So, here was my attempt (using what I had in the house) at wrapping a pretty little present for my newest little cousin.


My wrapping skills (and my photography skills for that matter) still leave a lot to be desired, but at least it is a step up from a gift bag, right?  🙂


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The Great Panty Debacle….

Posted by mandyhuckins on September 9, 2009

I really love a good sale, so on Monday, I hit the local shopping center to see if anyone had any exciting Labor Day discounts.  Victoria’s Secret came through.  They had bins full of bras marked down to $12.99.  I found one I liked (original price $45!) and then scoured the store to find undies to match (I know, I know, I am weird like that.)  Also, on a  strange side note, I was looking for some undies to match a light green bra I purchased a while ago.  For some reason, I can’t find 3 pairs of underwear I purchased to go with that bra.  It is really weird.  Anyway, I left the store with a bra and 10 pairs of panties.  

When I got home, I realized that I had been charged full price ($12) for a pair of underwear that I had pulled out of the sale bin and were marked $5.99.  So, I left everything in the bag and went back today to let them know that I had accidentally been overcharged.  The nice ladies working in the store apologized and worked to correct the discrepancy.  Meanwhile, I decided to spin through the sale bins again – I mean, $12.99 for a bra – come on!  That is a good deal.  Today, I found two additional bras and 4 pairs of underwear.  While checking out, they credited the $12 back to me and re-charged me the $5.99 for the panties that I purchased on Monday.  They put everything (3 bras and all the assorted underwear) back into the same bag.

I got home and took everything out.  I clipped all the tags off and before I threw them away, I decided to just add everything up quickly to see how much I saved ($268 original retail price – $126 sale price!)  That is when I noticed that I was again charged $14 and $12 for the panties I purchased today that should have rung up at $5.99.  Seriously?  Who is more stupid – Victoria’s Secret for ringing up wrong prices two times in a row or me for not double checking this while I was still in the store?  To add insult to injury, one of the pairs of underwear didn’t even make it in the bag!  Ah!

I am so irritated that I have to go back there again.  Wonder what the odds are that I can make it out of there without purchasing additional merchandise….

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Posted by mandyhuckins on September 8, 2009

As I mentioned in a previous post, I spent a long weekend with my sister in Chicago in August.  Since we are both horse lovers, we jumped on the chance to see a show called Cavalia.  It is billed as a Cirque de Soleil with horses.  We really lucked out because the show extended its run in Chicago to include my weekend there – and – my sister was able to get us some half priced tickets.  Here we are outside of the big top before the show.  Unfortunately, we weren’t allowed to take pictures during the performance, so this is the only photo I have.

M&M Cavalia

The show mixed live horses (mounted and unmounted) with various types of acrobatics all set to live music, lighting and special effects.  Some of the acts were truly amazing – one of our favorites began with two white spanish horses ridden in by two gentlemen each with a lady riding behind the saddle.  As they circled the ring, the ladies connected a cable dangling from the ceiling to their persons and before you knew what was happening, they were flying in the air.  They circled and swooped just above the horses and riders who continued riding a pattern in the ring.  It was beautiful and etherial and at times breathtaking when it looked like there might be a collision.  (Of course, there wasn’t.)  There was also a fun section with western style trick riding and some pretty amazing roman riding with teams of four horses.  It was also fun to watch the liberty horses.  It seemed that they were training some younger ones who were full of personality and didn’t always want to do as they were told.  This actually made for a more fun show – when things didn’t always go perfectly and the individual personalities of the horses shown through.  My sister and I both appreciated how the horses were positively praised for doing something right, but were never scolded for doing something wrong.  All of the horses looked happy and healthy. 

It was a good show and a fun night, but apparently I am a tough customer because I do have some critiques:

1.) As far as classical dressage is concerned, the Spanish Riding School in Vienna this is not.  This is more showy rather than super correct riding.  I admit, for the general consumer, this is not an issue.

2.) I think their superstar – Templado – has been retired.  So, I got the impression that they have been training younger stallions to take his place.  But, I was looking forward to seeing the big “coups de gras” act – a horse and rider performing upper level dressage – maybe without a saddle and bridle?  It just seemed like a little something was missing.  They did project images of him (I think) on a curtain of water that flowed from the ceiling.  That was cool.

3.) My sister and I both felt that they really missed the mark on the merch.  I, for one, was ready to purchase some cool horse souvenirs.  But, we were a little disappointed in the stock.  Of course, there were t-shirts and stuffed animal horses and books and cds.  But, where were the beautiful pieces of jewelry?  Horse scarves?  Why couldn’t they team up with Breyer to produce a “Templado” figurine?  And, most of the stuff they had for sale featured their logo (of course) and a crazy CG image.  Why would you go CG when you have such beautiful animals that you can photograph?

Here is what I am talking about:

Cavalia Image

(Sorry its so small – you can’t really see how it leaves something to be desired, but trust me, it does.)

I bought the only item in the whole selectin with a cool graphic.  It is a grey mock-turtle neck made out of thin, stretchy fabric. 


The graphic wraps around the side of the shirt.  I don’t even like turtlenecks, but since it was the only pretty thing I saw and I had money burning a hole in my pocket, I bought it. 

Give me a call, Cavalia, if you want some more brilliant merchandising ideas to market to the horsey crowd.

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Stella roo…

Posted by mandyhuckins on September 7, 2009

When my sister and her husband got married last September, I wanted to give them the perfect wedding gift.  (His sister and her husband bought plane tickets for them to come to England for a visit, so that is kind of hard to top!)  My sister has wanted a dog for many years, but apartment living in the city did not necessarily allow for it.  When she and her husband combined households into a little bit larger apartment, she specifically looked for one that would allow pets just in case.  She spent many months convincing her significant other that there was room in their lives for a pet and researching which breed would be the best match for them and their lifestyle.  She also volunteers at PAWS a no-kill shelter in Chicago.  So, I wasn’t going out on a limb when I decided to give them a dog as their wedding present.  Nevertheless, to be safe, I did contact her fiance beforehand to make sure that this was going to be ok with him. 

So, when I was in Chicago for the wedding, I presented my sister with a card.  Inside was a gift card to Petsmart and a homemade gift certificate to cover the adoption fees for any dog of their choosing.  I made sure to tie it in to the wedding theme by describing the joy, fun and dimension that our dog, Copper, has brought to our marriage.  By adding a pet, you go from a couple to a family.  Needless to say, she was very excited about it.  Yet, responsible.  She didn’t rush out and get the first dog she saw.  She knew she wanted a rescued Italian Greyhound and she wanted to wait until the spring to adopt one, when the weather would be more conducive to being outside for walks and house-training.  As the spring drew closer, they even decided to move to a different apartment that included its own small outdoor space in the back.

Finally, they were ready and they brought Stella into their lives.  She is about 9 months old, weighs 12 pounds, is a seal brown color and looks like a baby deer.  She is very skittish (who knows what may have happened to this poor baby in her puppy-hood), but has a loving nature and they are gradually winning her over. 

Melissa and Jonathan with Stella

One night, I even got to hold her.  At first she trembled in my arms, but I stroked her and talked softly to her and she eventually relaxed and even fell asleep.  I didn’t want to let her go!  She really is so cute.  They are going to try to bring her to my house for Christmas.  We are hoping that she might be more comfortable with them by then and that she might learn a little something from Copper’s exuberant love for all of us.

Holding Sleepy Stella

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The Windy City…

Posted by mandyhuckins on September 5, 2009

Two weeks ago, I had the chance to visit one of my favorite places: Chicago.  It is such a nice city, made even better by the fact that my sister and her husband live there.  And, on this visit, my mom and dad were there as well (my dad’s work conference was the instigation for our trip).  It was a short visit, I flew in on Saturday evening and left on Tuesday evening, but we still managed to have lots of fun.  My sister and I went to see a show called Cavalia on Saturday night (more on that in a separate post).  I got to see their new apartment (very, very cute) and their new dog, Stella (also very, very cute).  More on her in another post too.  Mom and sister and I spent a fun, full day doing some shopping – including our standard trip to Macy’s with lunch in the walnut room.  We all had dinner together as a family at the same restaurant that hosted my sister and her husband’s rehearsal dinner almost one year ago.  My mom, my sister and I also toured the museum where my brother-in-law works.  It was fabulous.  The only downside was that my husband was not able to come. 

Chicago Building

Beautiful Chicago Building

M&M Going Out to Dinner

Here are the sisters (in Mom and Dad’s hotel room) wearing some newly purchased duds (new BCBG shirt for me, new Banana Republic skirt for my sister).

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