Monday, November 30, 2009

On the Cheap: Cyber Monday

Okay, FIRST OF ALL, who had any idea that Tiger Woods was such a sleezeball? My husband has been obsessively following the story all weekend, and I guess Tiger called up a friend and said he needed to go to Zales and get a "Kobe Special." CLASSY.

Affair-having golf pros aside, today is a big day for shopping. It's Cyber Monday! Unlike Black Friday where all the sales are in stores, Cyber Monday is for online markdowns. As I do here, I've complied a list:

1. is offering 40% off your entire order, plus free shipping if you spend $100.
2. has done it up right, and they have sales in just about every category starting at 30% off. Home decor and menswear have some stuff at 70% off.
3. The Gap/Banana Republic/Old Navy/Piper Lime umbrella has 20% off everything, plus free shipping.
4. For the teenagers or hipsters in your life, has their band t-shirts BOGO half-off.
5. has an all-inclusive BOGO 60% off.
6. Socially conscious buyers can hit Fair Indigo for employee pricing (between 50% and 60% savings) on their bestsellers.

Other places having sales that I noticed were: QVC, HSN, Amazon,, and--for you,

I'll let you get started. Happy bargain hunting!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Miscellaneous: Gobble! Gobble!

What a lovely spread!

I don't know anybody who actually sets the table all fancy like this for Thanksgiving. No matter who's hosting, the food is always stationed in the kitchen. The bread might be on the table, but that's it.

Whether your table will be festive or not, I hope you have a great Turkey Day, and a productive shopping day on Friday (if you're braving the stores). See you Monday!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Holi-Daze: Gift Guide #2

I got a request for a children's gift guide, so that's what I'm doing today. If there's another category you need (eco-chic, your grandparents, fair trade, etc.) leave me a comment and I'll see what I can find. If there's a price limit, be sure to include that. Not that I'll completely lose my head and include this, but some people have strict budgets. I understand.

Now. On with the gifts!

That might look like a normal book, but it's far better. It's the Send Away Storybook Publisher from the Discovery Channel. Your kid uses special markers and paper to write and plan out their book, then you mail it out in the included envelope, and in a few weeks, your offspring has a hardcover copy of their own story. That. Is. Awesome. And it's only $19.95.

Baby squiiiiiiiiiiid! I'm shrieking like a 14 year old who's just seen the Jonas Brothers! I think any child would also shriek at the sight of this adorable stuffed sea creature. From Etsy, it's $15.50.

I know most kids don't like getting clothes for Christmas or Hanukkah, but these might be cool enough. Also from Etsy, they're screen printed by hand and ring in at $16.

Where are you in your holiday shopping? Have you started? Are you going on Black Friday?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Holi-Daze: Gift Guide #1

We all know that guy who's really hard to shop for. Perhaps you know more than one--in my case, it's my husband AND my dad. So if you've been beating your head against your desk, wondering what the hell you're supposed to get a person who doesn't want anything: I'm with you. And I'm here with some non-socks-and-underwear ideas (because they don't want THOSE, either).

Perhaps a gentleman in your life has been carrying the same briefcase for over 20 years (hi, Dad). It might be time for a new look:

Macy's is kind enough to have this at 50% off right now. It was originally $200, now it's $99.

I heavily endorse this next one. Every guy I've ever known, without exception, has a deep, passionate love for gadgets and remote controls. My husband was notoriously bad about leaving his bits of technology all over the house until somebody got him one of these last year:

I believe these are technically called "charging valets." As you can see, it has spots for a cell phone, an iPod, perhaps a camera, and a nice drawer for that stupid Xbox remote (that has no forseeable purpose because you can just use the CONTROLLER). From JCPenny, this one is currently on sale for $29.99, but its original price of $50 isn't bad either.

Finally, every gift guide seems to have the same old stuff for men, so here's something a little different:

Manly coasters. From Etsy, they're an easy $10.

Who are your problem shoppers? I plan on doing more gift guides, so are there any specific subjects you need? Holler at your girl.

Monday, November 16, 2009

On the Cheap: Sparkle Motion!

Like a cat, I am often entranced by sparkly things:

Oh, J. Crew. You lured me in with your promises of sparkles and joy, but I see our turbulent romance is heading south again. I love you, I really do, but I'm just not willing to put up with your prices ($298). Nor will I put up with you telling me this sweater is "destined to be an heirloom." It's a SWEATER. Do you know what kinds of things are actually heirlooms? Useful things, like crystal stemware, or the grandfather clock--not a SWEATER. Get it together.

So J. Crew did a good job of catching my eye, but as I'm wont to do, I found a similar version of this valuable heirloom for less green:

It's from Nordstrom (I know, I was shocked, too) and is a much more reasonable $88. I still don't really consider that a bargain per se, but let's be real here: if you're going to buy beading, it's going to be more expensive, and I'd rather pay $88 than $298.

I did stumble upon an even more cost-friendly version, but it's not as dramatic (though that could be what you're after):

From Macy's, it rings in at $48. This one, to me, is also the most overtly Christmas-y (probably because the sequin blobs look like little ornaments), so it's fitting for this time of year.

And speaking of the holidays, has anybody started their shopping yet? What are you buying this year? None of those pricess J. Crew heirlooms, I hope.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Ma, Look What I Got: True Blue

Last week, my husband and I went on a Banana Republic date. They were having a big ol' sale and after I gave up trying to get him into a purple shirt, I found one of my best deals yet. Hold onto your collective hats for this one:

That's my new dress! It was a great purchase: the colors are a little on the fall/winter side, but the fabric is a lighter cotton, which means I've finally expanded my year-round wardrobe. It has a v-neck and a little pleating at the waist, and is much more flattering that it looks in this picture:

But wait, there's more! Let's get to the real concern: the price. It was originally $130, but I found it hiding on the clearance rack, marked down to $30.99. Yep. $30.99. If I did the math correctly (and there's always the chance I did not), that's 76% off. It's probably from last fall, but I really don't care. My life is hardly a black tunnel of doom because I didn't buy something when it was new. In FACT, I'm a little giddy about this.

What's the best deal you've gotten lately? Do you have a go-to hunting ground for bargains? Spill the beans.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

On the Cheap: Kick up your heels

In addition to having delusional fantasies about throwing a soiree in the Gardens of Versailles, I also yearn to have a fancy holiday party. I don't mean "fancy" like "buy the good cheese dip!" but rather "where is the nearest ballroom?" I've read a lot of Victorian literature this year, and they're ALWAYS having a party, so I blame Jane Austen for planing the seed. In fact, if I could have my holiday bash at Pemberley, that would be great.

So today I was surfing around, not looking for my party dress this time, but starting with the shoes.

Plenty of straps to keep them securely on my feet whilst I cut a rug with Mr. Darcy, but sparkly and festive at the same time. There is one little problem, however: they're $129. Weak.

Luckily, Payless came through for me in my imaginary hour of need.

Same color, same straps, same approximate heel height... Sadly, no sparkles, but I own glue and rhinestones, so that would be taken care of pronto. And for $24.99, I could stand to adhere a few gems myself.

Of course, this is all hypothetical, but it's good to know that if I ever DO have the means to throw an opulent get-together, I've already found shoes.

Friday, November 6, 2009

On the Cheap: Friends and Family

For some reason, I got an email from Express this morning telling me their Friends and Family Sale starts today. I'm a little confused, because I'm not friend or family of anybody who works at Express, and that's typically who these sales are for. (Although, I do have a friend who's there so much it's like she's an employee, but I don't think that counts.)

Then I remembered: Duh, my husband is a card-holder. Perhaps that's how they interpret "friend." But then I got perplexed again because the card is only in my husband's name, so why am I getting the email? I feel a bit like Big Brother is watching.

Anyhoodle, this does have a point. Express is having a sale this weekend, and apparently they're being pretty loosey-goosey about who gets a coupon. "Friends and Family" get 20% off, plus party dresses are marked down, and you can make a wish list online for a chance to win a $250 gift card. I also recieved a little notice telling me that if I sign up for Express emails, I get 15% off my next purchase. (Thanks, Express, but you apparently have mine already.) But maybe you, my sweet readers, could sign up and save some cash.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Ma, Look What I Got: Costume!

I wish I could say I remembered to fetch these pictures, but it was my husband. What a nice boy!


I dubbed myself the Happy Housewife, while my husband was essentially Don Draper. This wasn't one of my most cost-effective getups. The dress was from an antique mall and I can't remember exactly how much it cost. Maybe $30? $35? At least that's all I bought: the apron was a wedding gift from my sister, those are my actual wedding shoes, the brooch I already had, and the earrings I made.

I also did my own hair:

I tried to approximate a beehive at first, but that crashed and burned, so I ended up with a modified French twist. I probably should've gotten a BumpIt for extra zing, but those commercials annoy the crap out of me and I just couldn't commit.

So there you are. Now I can move on to other posts without feeling like I'm forgetting to do something! Ah, freedom...

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Holi-Daze: Bolt of Inspiration

I've found my Halloween costume for next year.

HMMM! What am I going to be? The world's fanciest inmate? A dowdy candy striper from hell? A normal, respectable girl from days gone by?


He's the ghost with the most! Just add the fried blonde hair and zombie makeup and I'll be set. (Perhaps I should clarify something before my poor mother has a heart attack. The LAST time I went balls out for Halloween, I dyed my hair two different colors to be Cruella DeVille. I'm not going anywhere near bleach again. I'll get a wig.)

That dress might end up as a springboard for this idea, since it's already $47 on Ebay and the reserve isn't met, but at least I have something to work toward.

By the way, I keep meaning to post pictures of this year's costume but I always forget. Just in case I never do: what did YOU wear for Halloween? Do you plan in advance, or does it just happen? Comments, y'all.

Monday, November 2, 2009

On the Cheap: Right Said Red, I mean, Fred

How can I tell it's Monday? I just looked at a picture of a cockatoo and thought it was a unicorn. That being said, perhaps take my views on similarities with a grain of salt.

My mom started her Christmas shopping and directed me to the online store for the Art Institute of Chicago. After she was done with me, I started looking at other stuff: that pretty red scarf, for example. It's apparently based on a screen print on display in the museum. It's very nice, but it's $68.

After seeing that, I wouldn't mind having a red silk scarf. And look what I found!

Again, I confused a bird with a mythical creature, so don't go expecting something identical. They're close. Same shade of red, both have flowers, they're about the same size. There are some differences, though, and I mean more than just the pattern. The second scarf is a merciful $12.95 AND it's fair trade. Good for the wallet and the conscience.

Do you ever buy fair trade?