This is us at 4:00 in the morning, February 18. What, you may ask would possess us to get up in the middle of the night, get in the car and drive over two hours to Charlotte? Well...
It was the grand opening of the new IKEA in Charlotte. There was no way I was going to pass up an opportunity like this. It's certainly not everyday that you get to witness the grand opening of a store like IKEA.
My original plan was to chronicle the whole morning--waiting in line, the band, the hundreds of other people anxiously awaiting the opening of the doors--but I was thwarted by mother nature. Before we left at 4 am I checked the weather to decide which coat I should bring. Unfortunately I failed to notice the little rain symbol next to the 50 degrees. It started raining in Burlington. It got worse when we got to Charlotte. Our umbrellas were in Durham.
Luckily they were handing out ponchos to us fools who were standing in line. The lucky (crazy?) few who had been there since Monday had a cover over their heads, while the rest of us who decided we didn't need a free chair bad enough to camp out for three days were left out in the rain. We were fortunate enough that a very nice couple got in line behind us, equipped with a giant golf umbrella. We got to know them quite well during the two hours we huddled together underneath it.
The store was originally supposed to open at 9:00. They started the opening ceremonies at 8:00. First the appropriate anthems were played as first the American, then the Swedish, then the North Carolina flags were raised. There was a men's choir from Sweden there to sing the Swedish national anthem. There were speeches from the store manager, the local district politician, and even Charlotte mayor Pat McCrory (whom I'm told never misses an opportunity like this). Finally at 8:30 they asked us if we'd like to go in a little early. The crowd responded more loudly than when the television crews asked if they were excited. And I felt the happiest I'd been in several hours--we were going in.
This was the scene when we entered the store. All of the employees were lined up, cheering and clapping us as we came in the doors and headed up the escalator. It was so exciting. It was like iPhone day, only I'd been the idiot waiting in line, not the one inside the store clapping.
We spent the rest of the morning going through the enormous showroom. We made time, of course, for some Swedish meatballs and ligonberry juice. If you ever get to go, you must try the meatballs. If you're smart and pack a cooler you can even bring some frozen meatballs home to fix for yourself. Though, keep in mind, that the cooler could take up precious cargo space in the car. You can only buy the furniture that you can take back home with you.
So what, may say, does any of this have to do with craftiness and inspiration? Well, IKEA is not just about furniture and meatballs, it's about accessories and organizing too.
This is what I brought home from IKEA. I knew when I went that I wanted to get some of these jars. We bought some a couple years ago for our kitchen, and they are wonderful. They have a really tight seal on them so they keep things fresh. Well, a couple months ago when I was working on organizing my craft room I stole a couple out of the kitchen, because they look really nice too. I've got bottle caps, buttons, scrap ribbon stored in them, and they look nice enough to leave out on shelves. I also came across this really cute tin set. I couldn't resist the polka dots, and it was only $2 for the three tins. The big white board in the back is a metal board for magnets. I've been displaying my magnets on the back of a Christmas serving plate, so I was very excited to find this, especially with a craft show coming up in April (more on that later). The mirror I found for $4. It's unfinished wood, which I plan to decoupage.
The most surprising inspiration of all is in that big blue bag. We have a couple from our previous trips to IKEA. You can purchase one of those for $2, and it's big enough to fit everything you buy in, or you can pay $.50 per plastic shopping bag. It's the Swedish way of encouraging you to help the environment. They're really nice and heavy, but for me they're too big to be of any real use in day-to-day life. I certainly wouldn't fill them with groceries. I would never be able to carry it in from the car. Well, while we were in line for our meatballs I spotted something interesting. A woman had on her shoulder one of the IKEA blue bags, only it was the size of her purse (granted one of those huge suitcase-sized purses, but still). She had taken the bag, cut it, and re-sewn it to the size that she wanted. How ingenious is that? I've looked at those bags a dozen times and never thought to do that. Since it was the grand opening they gave everyone new blue bags for free, so I have a crisp new one to play with. And who knows, maybe it will start a new fashion trend.
My final find, and perhaps my favorite, is this nine drawer organizer. Yes, I realize it looks like a box of wood right now, but that's the fun of IKEA. I get to put it together myself. And since I get to do that I get to paint it and decorate it any way I want. I'm really looking forward to playing with it.
So, I guess if I were to sum up this blog in a couple of sentences (for those of you who have scrolled down) it is this: 1)Do something crazy like get up in the middle of the night and stand in the rain for hours just for a store opening at least once in your life. 2)Keep your eyes open. There is inspiration everywhere and some things aren't what they seemed when you first looked at them.