Shopping Shopping Shopping

Y’all, there are some seriously important shopping days coming up, so put on your focus pants and listen:

This Friday:  Black Friday.  The famous (or infamous) annual day-after-Thanksgiving event where the masses go crazy, spend money, and save even more (depending on who you ask).  In the past, sales would start as early as 5:00 a.m. or 6:00 a.m., but now more and more stores are bumping up the start of their “Black Friday” sales to midnight or even as early as 10:00 p.m., Thanksgiving.  (Honestly, I’m pretty strongly against this last one because it takes people away from their families — and I mean the store associates in this case — but this trend has caught on nonetheless.  Be classy – boycott these Thanksgiving night sales, folks.  As Teresa would say, “That’s just tacky.”)

Regardless of how you feel about it, Black Friday sales really do live up to the hype (especially in department stores like JC Penney and Macy’s).  For a bevvy of Black Friday tips, check out my post from last year: Black Friday Shopping Tips

Moving on.  Small Business Saturday.  Ah, just the name of this shopping holiday brings a smile to my face.  Aaaand it is exactly what it sounds like:  A day to show small businesses a little love by patronizing them (you know which definition of that word I mean) – as opposed to the big box retailers you usually give your money (no judgment, just tellin’ it like it is).  This is a relatively new shopping holiday — in the long history of shopping holidays, of course – so every year it grows just a bit more in scope.  Check out my previous post on Small Business Saturday.  I said so many wise things about it last year, I wouldn’t want you to miss out.  ;)

Cyber Monday:  Oh, how I love online shopping, and oh how I love Cyber Monday even more.  This fabulous event occurs the Monday after Thanksgiving (so this year, it’ll be November 26th, 2012).  For the full scoop, you can read… broken record time… my post from last year… but suffice it to say, it’s a great day to score fabulous deals with many online retailers offering discounted or even FREE shipping.

So yeah, that was a whole lot of review of posts past, but now it’s all in one place for your browsing pleasure.  Wasn’t that sweet of me?  :)

Happy Shopping… and more importantly, my American readers…

Happy Thanksigiving!!! 

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(More) Adventures in Spray Painting

I love spray paint.  As I mentioned before, it’s akin to Harry Potter type magic for me, so I do it, like, alllll the time.  (But don’t worry, y’all — I’m not a huffer).

This past summer I spray painted this thrift store find a lovely shade of orange.

Before:

After:

Now that I’m home, I’ve hung it in the dog bed corner:

I love how the “yum” from the kitchen is reflected in the mirror at just the right angle.

Remember the Yum letters in the kitchen/wall?

And here’s a close-up:

I’m really digging the orange mirror on the blue wall… #complementarycolorsonthecolorwheel #winning

Inspired by the spray paint magic of the mirror, I spray painted… some more stuff….

Like…

this pedestal bowl thing:

(And of course I re-color coordinated the books to match the blue of the bowl.  Duh.)

Then I took this pretty-but-oh-how-much-prettier-it-could-be-with spray-paint mirror….

Covered the mirror part with painter’s tape:

…used an X-acto knife to cut the edges:

Then I threw it away!!!

Just kidding. I spray painted it:

My initial reaction was that I hated it.  I was looking for more of a YELLOW yellow, not so nursery pastel yellow.  Now I like it.  Go figure.

Oh, how I love spray paint.  Better yet, I love spray painting stuff that I have otherwise grown tired of… because I’m reminded of why I liked these things in the first place.

I should buy stock in Krylon.

Shopping Trip Show & Tell

There’s a widely held opinion that New York City has EVERYTHING.  While many stereotypes about the city are right on point — bad manners, dirty streets, rodent/roach infestations, et al —  this particular one is not.  I mean sure, it’s got lots of things that just aren’t found anywhere else.  And it’s famous for its many shopping districts, with everything from the luxury retailers of Fifth Avenue to the discount shops and stalls of Chinatown.

However, NYC lacks some of my favorite retailers… many of which are found in nearly every other middle-sized to major city in the U.S.:  Joann Arts & Crafts, Hancock’s Fabrics, Hobby Lobby, Wal-Mart, Big Lots, Dollar General, Goodwill (NO GOODWILL?!), and Dollar Tree, to name a few (technically there is a store owned by the Dollar Tree corporation near my apartment, but it’s not the same).

We have one Michael’s, so obviously that’s my main crafting resource (though it’s an hour and a half subway ride from my home in Brooklyn), and there are tons of dollar stores scattered throughout my neighborhood, but like I said before, it’s just NOT the same as my beloved Dollar Tree.

We also have two Target locations in the city, but that’s divided among a population of over 8 million people, so it’s like a zoo-circus-mob most of the time, i.e., I avoid it at all costs.

In light of the bargain shopping starvation that I’ve been suffering through in NYC, I knew I wanted to hit up all of these places while in Atlanta.  Oh, and how I have done just that.  Like every weekend.  But you know me, it’s not like I’ve spent hundreds of dollars or anything (scroll to top and read blog name at top of screen for more clarification).  And with the exception of the $22 Headband Incident of ’12 (which actually happened in NYC), I’ve exercised incredible restraint this summer.

But enough talking/typing.  Show & Tell Time — and this is just from this past weekend!

First I went to Michael’s and pilfered through their bargain bins at the front… because that is where. it’s. at.  I’m a sucker for cheap, cute stationery, though admittedly I don’t really have any penpals.  Whatever… details.  Here are my finds:

And for a grand total of $4.24, I got…

And…

And fun recipe cards (I’m using these for a wedding shower I’m hosting next week):

And more notecards…

“What does that say?”  Here’s a close-up:

Sure, I could use the three sets of cards for their intended purpose, but I loved the vintage-y typographic fantastic-ness of the cover art so much, that I’ve decided to frame them instead.  I have a wall in our bathroom that could use a little somethin’-somethin’ (expect a post about this project next week).

And like I said, I only spent $4.24 (those recipe cards and tightrope walker notecards were only $0.50 before tax!).

Love it.  And even though I have a Michael’s in NYC, this one was a mere ten minute drive and I didn’t have to wait in line for more than like, two minutes (that’s versus an hour and a half train ride and at least a twenty minute wait in line).  Wellll worth the trip.

This weekend I also visited Big Lots, and I realized that it might be my new favorite store.  Weird, right?  Because I’m the self-titled Ginger Penny Pincher, and I tend to know the ins and outs of the bargain shopping world, right???   But honestly, I think I’d only been in a Big Lots one time before this weekend… I think my aversion had something to do with the exclamation point in the logo. “Why are you yelling at me?”  I know, I’m weird.  I also don’t go to K-Mart because of their logo… and that’s not something I can really explain.  I just don’t like that place.

Back to the point:  Big Lots.  I only got a couple of things, but excitement abounded nonetheless.  I found these Triscuits in the clearance section (“clearance” because the box was caved in at the top), and like I mentioned earlier, I’m hosting a bridal shower next weekend, so obviously I needed Triscuits.  It’s a law… somewhere in the Constitution.

One dollar!  That I can do.  And note: these haven’t expired either.  Still fresh as daisies… er, Triscuits.  (For the curious, I opened up the box at home, and most of the Triscuits were still in one piece).

In the clearance section, I also found these Special K bars for $1.50 (that’s TWELVE for $1.50). In regular stores they are waaay more than this.  Same story:  The box top was crushed a bit, yet the bars were still as they should be and not yet expired.  Woo hoo!

And then… my favorite Big Lots find of all.  Maybe of all time.

Single subject, college-ruled, spiral-bound notebooks for 24 CENTS!

I audibly shouted “Are you kidding me?!?!”  People stared.  A sales associate asked if I was all right.  Obviously, they don’t share my affinity with office supplies.  But seriously, I go through these notebooks like they’re going out of style.  And just the day before, I bought 2 for $3 (on “sale”) at CVS and I got a few at Dollar Tree (for a dollar) that morning.  And these 24 CENT notebooks were just sitting in Big Lots all this time?!  What!???

Yeah, I’m pretty sure a Martha Graham style “Finger of God” light special was shining down on that end cap display (modern dance and lighting design nerds: that was for you).

Sigh.  If only I could take Big Lots with me to NYC, exclamation point and all.  Then all of NYC could revel in the joy of 24 cent notebooks.

On second thought, Big Lots should stay out of NYC.  They’d have to mark up the notebooks from $0.24 to $2.24 and that would be no good.

Like I said, some NYC stereotypes are true.

Bleck.

The Blue Butterfly

This is the Cinderella story of an icky brassy-bronze butterfly earring holder that I found at Goodwill (and bought) for $1.91.

One day the butterfly wished upon a star or threw a penny in a well or something and her fairy godmother blue Krylon spray paint sprinkled fairy dust sprayed her blue paint and bibbity booppity boo:

And she lived happily ever after:

The End.

Other fairytales of paint magic:

My Orange Mirror

The Orange Dog

Painted Wooden Spoons

My Orange Mirror

If you remember from my numerous Wedding Wednesday posts (as well as the orange dog post back in March), I love ORANGE. Being a redhead, I feel it’s sort of an extension of my self and my personality… or at least, that’s how I’m explaining it for now. And while I’m definitely aware that it’s not one of those colors for everyone, it is most definitely a color for me.

In my early days of decorating with orange, it took on a much bolder, mayhaps even slightly boisterous place in my decorating life. Our very first apartment had contractor white walls and almost no architectural interest of any sort. Blah. We chose not to paint our walls in this apartment (we were new renters and had yet to learn the lesson of just making the place your own and not caring if you have to paint it back a YEAR later), so we made up for the lack of color in boocoodles of orange accessories, including floor to ceiling orange curtains in the living room.

With our second apartment, we were far more adventurous. Josh sometimes refers to it as our Skittles apartment, because each “room” was a different color, even though it was sort of an open concept apartment (living room, office, and dining room all rolled into one). The dining room walls were… ORANGE. If that had been the only vibrantly colored room, it actually would have been fine, even elegant in its own way (I have no pictures, so you just have to trust me on this). However, it was one of THREE vibrantly colored rooms — all on top of each other — so it was a bit too much. It’s OK. I’ve accepted it as something I had to get out of my system. I have since recovered.

Our third apartment was tame in comparison, with just the occasional orange pillow or candle (well, there was the purple Mardi Gras hall way… Details). However our NYC apartment, with its calm blue and gray walls has even less orange. In fact, the only bits of orange I can think of off the top of my head are the orange kitchen utensils displayed behind the stove (I say “off the top of my head” because I’m about 900 miles away, so I may have forgotten a detail or two).

Such a good picture.

Oh yes, and the orange blanket on the couch:

…And the orange plates in the baker’s rack…

Ok, so I haven’t exactly abandoned orange all together, but it’s definitely taken the backseat. But starting now, that changes (Josh just read that sentence in New York and probably did a face palm). :)

I’m not gonna paint the walls orange or get huge, overbearing orange curtains (again), but I am going to add a few new things of the orange persuasion, starting with this bleck thrift store find:

Ewww. It’s a mirror that I got at Goodwill for a whopping $1.51 (I took out the mirror to paint it).

I did three light, light, light (and even) coats of good ol’ Krylon spray paint in Pumpkin Orange — my fave brand. (Did I mention HobLob had a sale on spray paint last week?)

Here’s the first coat:

Second coat:

And the third coat:

Then I let it sit outside (and off-gas) for a day. These things require patience.

And here she is in all her indoor, sufficiently off-gassed and dry glory:

And a little closer:

I like how the spray paint brings out the quasi-fleur de lis details:

I’m thinking she’ll look lovely on the wall where the ransom note art currently resides:

No hard feelings, Ransom Note Art… I just think we should see other people..

Once I get back to NYC, I’ll grab a few pictures after I’ve hung it on the wall… and after Ransom Note Art and I have had a break up post-mortem. (These things are always awkward.)

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Tax Day Freebies

They say there are two things we can be sure of in life: death and taxes.  While the first one is hardly a subject for a penny-pinching-upcycling-hardly-taking-itself-seriously kind of blog, we can talk about the latter…  well, just for a minute.  Because by “taxes” I mean, tax day freebies!

OK, so since those ugly ol’ obligatory tax things are due today, a few national retailers and restaurants have mercifully offered some discounts and freebies, but only today — so before this day is over, go check ’em out!  For some, you’ll need to print off a coupon, others you just show up with your newly “I paid my taxes” self.

Here they are:

Arby’s — Print off a coupon from their Facebook site and get free curly fries on April 17.

Boston Market — With the coupon, buy one indivudal meal and a fountain drink and get another individual meal free.  Only valid April 17.

Chili’s — Free appetizer or dessert with entree purchase.  Valid April 16-18.

Cinnabon — Select stores will be giving away two free “bites” (their mini cinnamon rolls).  Only valid April 17, while supplies last.

Marble Slab Creamery and Maggie Moo’s — Select stores are offering free sample scoops of their new fro yo flavors.

P.F. Chang’s — All dine-in and take-out orders — excluding beverages and happy hour specials — are 15% off.

Panda Express — Like them on Facebook and you’ll get a free serving of their new Shanghai Angus Steak.  Only valid April 17.

Sonic — Half price drinks all day (that includes slushes).

Happy Tax Day!

Libraries? More like Truth-braries.

That title may have been too much.  But it caught your attention… And if so, listen: this week is National Library Week!  I know, I know, I’m sure you already knew that and observed your National Library Week moment of silence, decorated your National Library Week tree, tried on your National Library Week costume, stuff like that…

Or maybe you’re thinking “There’s a National Library Week?”  Yeah, me too.

But you know me, I like a silly, made-up holiday (remember Beer Can Appreciation Day and National Soup Month?).  And now that I think of it, why not take a little pause to appreciate all that libraries have to offer, i. e. free stuff?

If your answer was limited to “Books,” then maybe it’s been a while since you’ve been to a library. Of course, public libraries vary from county to county, but even some of the most limited ones have more than just books.

Forgive me if I’m stating the obvious, but right when I think I’m saying something that everyone knows, I learn otherwise.  (Josh is usually the litmus test for this kind of stuff, and when I mentioned to him that he could check out Kindle books from the Brooklyn Public Library on his Android phone, he was shocked).

So, for all the Joshes of the world, I thought I would take a little time to list a few of the free things that are available at my library (with a library card of course, which was free).  This applies to the Brooklyn Public Library (and the New York Public Library, which is a separate system, but I still have access to with my Brooklyn card).  However, I have lived in six other counties in my life, and these all had the same options too, so I know it’s not just an NYC thing.

List time!

  • Books (duh), both reference and books available for check out.
  • CDs (Considering how scarce the musical section in most record stores is, I have found a surprising number of musicals at public libraries — even some I’d never heard of before — and this is rare.)
  • Audio tapes (like books on tape, and I mean audio CDs, but no one calls them that)
  • Magazines
  • News journals
  • Newspapers
  • DVDs (though you probably won’t find a lot of Blu-Ray)
  • Videocasettes (um… I don’t even own a VCR, and before I typed that I had to think really hard what those things were called that play videocassettes… VCRs)
  • eBooks (This is one of the more exciting library additions I’ve noticed in recent years. My library carries Kindle, Nook, Adobe ePub, Overdrive Media Console… And more.  These have to be uploaded through the library’s website, and you usually only have the titles for two weeks before they expire, but seriously?  That’s kind of amazing in my opinion.  And upon recent check, the BPL had almost all of the recent NY Times best sellers, so it’s not just a bunch of old stuff.)

That’s all of the multimedia I can think of for now, though I’m sure there are still more options (and if you’re lucky enough to have something like NYC’s TOFT, you have even more options).

Aside from all of the free stuff you can check out, most libraries also offer:

  • Free internet access
  • Free classes
  • Free workshops
  • Free film screenings
  • Free entertainment and education programming (just grab a calendar or talk to a librarian for a schedule of events — I’ve never been to a library that didn’t have some sort of monthly programming)

Libraries are great.  And free … well, taxpayers pay for them indirectly, but you know what I mean.  They’re pretty close to free.  And “pretty close to free” is good enough for me (most of the time).

Am I forgetting anything?  What do you use your library for?  The free Internet?  The books?  Something I have failed to mention?  Share!  Then drink a toast to National Library Week!  Holla!

Craigslist: FREE!

There’s an ever-present, but oft-neglected section of Craigslist called “free.”  (As in zero dollars.)    While it is housed under the “for sale” section, it’s like its own little planet, with its own language, patterns, and rules (well, not really rules, maybe… caveats?  terms? conditions?).  So, a little 411 on this Craigslist feature can definitely help you navigate the sometimes murky waters (I’ve used two different metaphors in the last two sentences — it’s hard to say if my language arts teachers of the past would be scratching their heads in confusion or patting me on the back in congratulations… hmmm…..).

Whut up, list?!!

  • As with all features of Craigslist, you can subscribe to the RSS feed, specifically a search that you may have run.  For example, if you really need some extra lumber that might be leftover from someone’s project, you can go to Craigslist, search scrap lumber or wood (or whatever smart thing you come up with), subscribe to the search results (the yellow RSS logo is in the lower right hand corner of the screen), and you’ll be notified instantly when something becomes available.
  • The free section is frequented by people who have just finished projects and have leftover materials, people who recently had a garage sale and don’t feel like driving to Goodwill to get rid of the last vestiges of their crap, or people who just don’t want to take the time to deal with a potential seller.  This means that the free section runs a wide gamut, having everything from leftover paint to barely used furniture and electronics.
  • Because of the last minute, loosey goosey nature of the “free” section, most people will not take the time to photograph their item or items and they certainly won’t be delivering to you.  In fact, some people don’t even list their e-mail or phone number; instead, they just give some cross streets and a city, announce a “curb alert,” and do exactly that: place their items on the street curb in hopes that they’ll be picked up before the trash truck comes.  This means that things on the free section are not meant to be mulled over.  If you think you might want something, go and get it (especially before it’s snatched up by someone else).  It’s definitely first come, first serve, and in my experience, most former owners of this free stuff aren’t going to swear some allegiance to the first person who called them about the item.  They just want to get rid of it, and it goes to whoever gets there first.
  • Considering the reasons that most people use the free section, the best time to search is on weekends — especially mornings.  That is, if you have opted out of subscribing to the RSS feed (but you really should just subscribe).

And for your reading pleasure, one of my favorite features of Craigslist, the Best of Craigslist.  If you’ve never checked out this section before, do it now!  It is a user-driven round-up of links to real Craigslist postings that are at times hilarious, bizarre, confusing… but always entertaining.

Check back tomorrow for the continuation of that Wedding series thang… :)

Previous Posts in the Craigslist Series:

Selling

Buying

Job Hunting

Apartment Hunting

Daily Deals Faceoff and the Flu

I have the flu.

I was in denial about this for a few days, which I guess is pretty typical of a Type-A-personality-super-busy-multi-tasking-long-to-do-list-oh-yeah-did-I-mention-I-don’t-have-insurance person.  What tipped me off was when I tried to drink a can of Diet Coke  and eat a bowl of chicken noodle soup, but they tasted like cardboard juice and mop water, respectively.

 

(Yeah, that’s right, my jacked-up taste buds are what tipped me off, not the nausea, incessant coughing, and three days of fever.  I could totally be a doctor.)

Mostly I’ve been in bed, Netflix-ing it up, so obviously I missed any St. Patrick’s Day festivities (though there was that brief feeling of solidarity the morning after St. Patrick’s Day, where at least my symptoms were similar with the rest of hungover America).  Unfortunately, that means I don’t really have the blog posts I intended for this week (I had a long to do list of weekend crafty-ness, but needless to say, that didn’t happen).

However, I do have a great article that I’d like to share with you savings savvy folks:

It’s from Lifehacker.com:  “Daily Deals Faceoff:  Groupon vs. Living Social vs. Google vs. Amazon vs. Facebook”

As the title indicates, they compare some of the more popular daily deal services, weighing their different pros and cons.  Their particular research was done over the course of two weeks, so they were able to get a pretty good idea of the typical categories and patterns that these companies fall into.  I’m a regular subscriber to these daily deals, and I actually learned quite a few tidbits from this article.  Check it out!

See you tomorrow for a post all about how to get stuff on Craigslist for free!  (I can guarantee this because I wrote the article long before my body became a crucible for disease and germy-ness.  Isn’t that charming?)

Other posts for a flu kind of day…

In praise of Restaurant.com

In Praise of Playlist.com

In Praise of MyFridgeFood.com

The Magic of the Sweater Shaver

If you’ve ever owned a sweater, or even a fleecy jacket, you have probably suffered the wrath of pilling.  You know, where all of the little fibers become obnoxious little fuzz ball things therefore rendering your otherwise fabulous royal blue winter coat a piece of crap (Real Life Example Alert).

However, there’s a fabulous thing called a sweater shaver — have you heard of them? — that helps get rid of all of that… crap.

For those of you who have had a lifelong love affair with El Sweater Shaver, this is not exactly a news flash, but to the few among us who have just discovered it, it’s like manna from the heavens.  Except you can’t eat a sweater shaver.  (Very dangerous.)

So for those sweater shaver newbies (like me), here’s a before and after of my winter coat.

 

Before:

 

After:

It’s like magic, right?  Right?!?!

 

And here’s what the sweater shaver looks like:

Small, but mighty.  And for less than five bucks, you can get one (the kind I have is by Evercare and it’s $3.99 at CVS drug stores).

(And think of all the sweaters and coats that will be saved from the thrift store pile!?!)

Oh, how I love my sweater shaver… Perhaps I’ll write a haiku about it — I mean, it’s the least I can do (I’ll keep you posted).

Other manna-like things you might fancy…

In Praise of Restaurant.com

A Tony Chachere’s Knock-off

Eaaasssy Chocolate Truffle Recipe