woke up at 7:30am this morning to go down to the ikea store in elizabeth, new jersey. i made some breakfast (instant french toast) and watched nigella bites on e!. my first time watching the show, i wanted to know what all the hype was about. everything was shot in a shaky cinema verite style, alternating between scenes of nigella cooking and ultra-closeups of her face explaining what she's doing. it's kind of interesting, but the things she made, at least in the episode i saw, were kind of european in flavor, and i'm not much for european food. i like when she gives meaurements in metric and on the screen flashes the english equivalent (for us backwards americans). the show ended with her getting into a wig for a swanky party at her place with her husband and kids and a house full of guests.

in my bathroom lives a growing hand expanding in a glass vase full of water formerly used for pretty flowers but now a home for severed body parts. now it's at its maximize size, a few digits actually emerging from the water, looking pretty lifelike.

sometime around 8:30am my sister and mother arrived outside my house. i grabbed my things (list of measurements i made in my house last night, the few coveted ikea catalogs i own, some ropes for tying anything to the roof if we get that far, and a map book to find our way). my sister drove her suv, and for the next 4 hours we were on the road nonstop heading down to ikea. despite the fact that i only had 4 hours of sleep last night and felt tired during the entire car ride, i was afraid to fall asleep, worried that my sister my fall asleep herself and i wouldn't be awake up grab the wheel and steer us out of danger. so even though i was super drowsy, i forced myself to stay conscious for most of the ride down. when we actually got the ikea store, i got out of the car with a mild case of motion sickness.

this was actually my 2nd time visiting the elizabeth ikea, and my 3rd time visiting an ikea store. my 1st time here was with manny back in early september. it was a rainy saturday and the place was packed, partly because it was the weekend, partly because it was right in the midst of the back-to-school shopping season. there was a traffic jam leading up to the exit (13A) on the jersey turnpike, and finding a parking space was virtually impossible. so it was quite a change to come back again and not experience the traffic jam, and to see the parking lot nearly empty. word of advice -- if you ever visit an ikea, do it on a weekday, the experience is so much better!

it was the first time visiting an ikea for my mother, and i think my sister's been to ikea stores in the past but not the behemoth that is the elizabeth ikea. our mission today was to mainly find furnitures for my house. things like a sofa, chairs, computer table, rugs, and any other items i'm missing and that i might need. the first thing i did was make a beeline to the klippan sofa, the sofa that i decided would be the one i wanted to get, even though i don't remember any about it on my previous ikea visits. i was surprised to see how unremarkable it was. in the catalogs and on the web, it looked much more interesting. nevertheless, it's a small sofa was still big enough to seat 3 people, and the perfect size for my living room. the downside is you get what you pay for, a $250 sofa is a $250 sofa. it was soft, but i was afraid it might be too low to the ground, and at times maybe it felt more like a futon sofa bed than a dedicated couch. i also don't like the fact that it has a very low back, there's no headrest unless you scooch down to a near horizontal position. so now i'm hesitant about the klippan. i feel like i should just bite the bullet and pull out $250 and get this whole couch search ordeal over with. i love the price, i love the fact that you can change the slipcovers, and i love the size (even though it's smallish, like i said, it's perfect for my living room). anyway, there was no way i could get it today, because it wouldn't fit in the suv nor could we tie it on the roof. so instead i figured i'd just buy all the little things instead, and come back again to ikea if i really decide to go with the klippan.

i was disappointed to see that a lot of items were still out of stock. like the red slipcovers for the tullsta armchair, they were all out, and i don't think they had anymore orange slipcovers for the klippan (even though i wasn't buying one). ikea has a funny way of saying something is out of stok, it's called "temporarily oversold." i'm not sure what was the thinking behind that piece of marketing euphemism.

before we started shopping, we had lunch at the ikea cafe. everyone was seriously hungry after a 4 hour car ride. i had the famous ikea swedish meatballs for the very first time, not bad, with some gravy and cranberry sauce and potatoes. i might've been just really hungry though, and when you're that hungry, everything tastes good. because my stomach was running on empty for too long, i filled up quickly and had a hard time finishing my last remaining meatballs, but my mother helped me out. the ikea cafe has a beautiful sunny view of the newark airport, and it's kind of freaky watching planes landing within cockpit viewing distance of the cafe.

we could've spent a whole day at the elizabeth ikea, and to a large extent that's what we did. in the end i left with two tullsta armchairs with blue slipcovers (not the colors i wanted, but the only color available, and i wanted slipcovers because i don't want the chairs to get dirty), a red shaded lamp, a billy bookcase for the hallway (opened on two sides, kind of like an end bookcase), a plastic bag dispenser, a metal coat rack, a wooden shoe rack, a simple red area rug for the dining table, and some colorful dinnerware. i was also going to get two red footrests and a tv cart, but i held off on making the order until we saw how much room we had left in the car, and after we piled in everything, there wasn't anymore room, so next time. we had to take the armchairs out of their boxes just to make them fit inside the car.

we left ikea close to 6pm. my sister was in a hurry to get back to boston to meet up with some friends at 10pm, which unfortunately she didn't make it because we didn't get to cambridge until almost 11pm. my father was at my place to help us move everything out of my sister's car and to give my mother a ride back to belmont (since my sister left for boston immediately afterwards). the whole trip back was very much like the trip down, i couldn't find the courage to fall asleep because i was sure my sister would get tired and crash the car while i dozed off. so i fought with my sleepiness, and by the time we got back, i probably felt just as tired as my sister even though i didn't do any driving. sitting in the backseat crammed with ikea stuff, i'd periodically take out my gps and check to see where we were and how much longer it'd take to get back to civilization.

at the house, late into the night, everyone was assembling the various pieces of furniture. before my parents left, my father showed me the next step in making kimchee, adding things like chives, garlic, crushed shrimps (it speeds up the fermenting supposedly), and three tablespoons of hot pepper powder. after mixing everything up, i scooped out the proto-kimchee with my hands and put them into two airtight containers for several days of fermentation. sometime next week, some sweet homemade kimchee! for some reason i really wanted to add onions into the mix, which was something my father said wasn't a natural kimchee ingredient, but i thought it'd add a better taste to the kimchee. maybe when i develop my own kimchee recipe, i can add onions. onions and five spices.