Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Macy's & JCrew Sale

At Macy's use this code to get 25% off and Free shipping through May 3rd: MACYSFRIEND

At JCrew use this code to get 20% on all sale items, plus free shipping on orders $150 or more through April 30th: EXTRA20

Here's a few cute things I saw on their website:

For her:


For him:


For little girls:


(I really wish they made this for adults, I want one.)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Throwing back to older traditions...on the internet?

When the time came to pick out invitations for my wedding I had so many ideas of how I wanted them to look. I really wanted something with color, something a little edgy and modern, yet with an earthy bohemian twist. While I loved my invitations, I got vetoed on many of those ideas because, as Nick bluntly put it, "I'm not a woman, and those are lame." I came to realize that picking out invitations is hard because you are generally stuck with the options they give you, and trying to fit the whole vision of you as a couple and the style of your wedding is almost impossible unless you have them custom made, which runs big big bucks.

Shortly after we were married I read an article in the NYTimes about Paperless Post, a business started out by a pair of young professional siblings who wanted to find a more stylish alternative to websites like Evite or Facebook when inviting people to an event. Yet, it would also be so stylish that you can save money on invitations for more formal affairs like Engagement Parties or Corporate events. Should all of your guests own or work with a computer (which most people under the age of 60 do), you can invite them to your event online.

While the invitations are not free, they are very low cost in comparison to real ones. For 100 invites to our wedding we paid about $600 (which was cheap). On Paperless post everything is paid with "stamps." For a basic invitation, if you buy 300 stamps, they will run you .05 a piece. That ends up being $5 for 100 invites. If you want to add photos, or envelope linings, and other things the cost will go up, but it's still pennies on the dollar.

Creating the invitation is easy. If you are not creatively inclined they will give you tons of design options with examples, a word template to work off of, and suggestions for font, color, size, and layout. If you are computer savy and you want to customize every detail of the invite you can do that as well. Managing the invites is just as easy. They will tell you if someone has opened the invite, what they have RSVP'd (with their optional message), and keep a running tally of "yes's" and "no's." In addition, if an email does not work or if someone is taking a long time to respond, they'll let you know that too.

You can have something more formal:


Or something more casual:


There are images and templates for every occasion you can think of, and there also options for Save the Dates and Thank You cards.

I've used Paperless Post only once (most of my parties are last minute, and really aren't parties as much as they are get togethers), but I loved the system. If I had more people to invite over and more time to entertain, I would use it for every event I host. I like the idea of having something pretty to send out and the ability to be more formal. It keeps certain traditions alive from older and long gone generations without breaking the bank or wasting paper. Now if only you could do this with personal calling cards!

Maybe I'll have to have another one of these, just so I have an excuse to make up another invite.


Interested in signing up? Click here.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Saks Sale

Sorry the last two sales haven't been at stores that are truly affordable (I get newsletters from every store ever, so I'm just posting them as I get them), but I figured that someone out there may be interested.

This sale is for Saks Fifth Avenue good through tomorrow:

Free Shipping on orders over $200: SFASHIP
20% off on orders over $100 (10% on beauty products): FRIEND3

Friday, April 23, 2010

It isn't east being Green

Today, probably one of the most overused phrases is "Green is the new black." Thanks to big pushes from movies like An Inconvenient Truth and celebrities like Paul McCartney and Leonard Dicaprio, the world is much more environmentally conscious than it was 10 years ago. While there is actually conflicting evidence that Global Warming is real, and that our efforts are making much of a difference, I personally believe that regardless of what the scientific studies say, the global Green movement is helping to change our overall consciousness of what kind of Carbon Footprint we all leave behind and making each of ours smaller does make a huge difference in how the world operates (both ethically and environmentally).

That being said, I'm going to admit right off the bat that today's entry I don't know much about, but Rebekah had the idea to write about realistic ways to be eco friendly. Considering this is something that Nick and I often talk about (he works for a metal recycling company), I figured I would try to do some research and educate us all about this. Being Green costs money, and is often thought of as being a luxurious lifestyle that only the rich can afford. In some cases, this is true (see the latter part of this entry), but there are tons of things that we can do that are both cost conscious and save you money.


For starters here are some common sense things that I have learned through the years (either through school or through friends) that save you money:

*Turn the power off - Leaving anything plugged in that has a light (like a CD player that has a red light when it is in power off mode) uses up power. And leaving a computer on, even when it is on standby uses up almost as much power as a light bulb does. So when you turn off your lights before you leave, powering down your computer, and checking any other appliances is a good idea too. This also goes for unplugging things that charge when they're done charging. Unless your device is "smart" it continues to pump juices into your cell phone, laptop, etc. even after it's done charging (tip: this also burns out your battery faster and you'll need to replace it sooner).
*Don't speed - I admit, I will never follow this one. But driving at a steady low speed (use cruise control if you can) uses up less gas. Also, getting regular oil changes keeps your engine in better condition, which means using less gas.
*Turn the water off - This one has stuck with me since childhood. Do you remember the Sesame Street cartoon from the very early 90s? A little boy brushes his teeth, pulling in water from an outside pond a fish lives in. While the water runs (and he doesn't use it) the fish's habitat becomes smaller and smaller until he has almost no water left. It's a cartoon, but it traumatized me for life! This goes for washing your face, leaving the shower running to heat up when you're not in there, and while you're scrubbing dishes. Speaking of dishes, only run the dishwasher if it's full.
*Invest in window shades. - During the summertime try to keep them down, it'll keep the sunlight out so your home is not as hot and the AC doesn't need to be run as much. I've also found that when I'm not home, if I also close the windows it keeps the hot air out and the apartment is a lot more tolerable when I do get home.
*Keep your bags - Nick is probably rolling his eyes as he reads this (he considers me to be a bag lady), but I keep all of our bags. If you don't want to pay to buy a reusable one from your supermarket, you can always bring back your plastic and paper bags and reuse them and they'll still give you the .05 or .10 credit towards your bill. In college I used to use the bags as garbage bags (I know my grandparents did this for years). And those bags can be recycled. Actually, any bag can be recycled, but it's easier to recycle paper bags (side note: it's also easier to recycle glass than plastic, so think about that when you buy soda or juice).
*Bring your own coffee, lunch, reusable water bottles, and utensils to work - Think about how much money you spend on a cup off coffee or a lunch these days. If you routinely buy both, you're probably spending more than $10 a day on this. Save your Chinese take out Tupperware, and bring lunch instead. Not only do you cut down on the paper goods, but depending on what you make for yourself, you probably save over 50% of your money every day. (Bonus points: Yet another use for your shopping bags.)
*Shop at the farmer's market - Depending on your market, often the price of local produce is much cheaper than going to the grocery store (even Whole Foods) and 9 times out of 10 tastes better too. Because the produce isn't being shipped thousands of miles to your door and there is no middle man, the price is lower. Plus if you have the chance to support a local farmer, it's just good ethical practice to support him over the big guys who do massive amounts of damage to our environment (think unfair wages, child labor, unsafe working environments, pesticides, deforestation, depleting the land of its nutrients, etc.)
*Buy a water filtration system - Sure things like Brita or Pure are expensive at first, but think about all the plastic you waste drinking bottled water. And think about all the money you save in comparison.

Tips from other websites:

From Go Green for Less Green
*Reduce Paper Usage with USB Flash Drives - You don't need to get a big one, just one that you can transfer your files to and from work/school with. Email also works great for this too. You can also reduce paper waste by using your laptop to take notes on in class rather than buying notebooks and loose leaf paper.
*Reduce Waste from Batteries with Hand Crank Products - According to the US Environmental Protection Agency:
“Batteries contain heavy metals such as mercury, lead, cadmium, and nickel, which can contaminate the environment when batteries are improperly disposed of. When incinerated, certain metals might be released into the air or can concentrate in the ash produced by the combustion process.”
Items like hand-powered flashlights can help reduce the number of standard lead batteries sold, thereby reducing the number of improperly disposed lead batteries. Hand-powered flashlights can be found for just under $4.00.

From ParadoxPro
*Green Cooking Tips...Don't microwave plastic, reduce your use of prepackaged foods, and stop using cheap nonstick pans, which leach toxins into your meal as you cook. When choosing between two like items in the grocery store, pick the one with less wasted packaging.
*Take up composting. Pick an out of the way spot in your yard, and use a composter. Throw in coffee grounds, eggshells, spoiled vegetables and other leftovers. Mix with dirt. Once a week or so, turn over with a shovel to provide air. You won't just help the environment, you'll create rich soil for your garden.
*Grow your own foods as much as possible. Create a vegetable garden, and use as few pesticides and chemical fertilizers as possible. Consider using a rain barrel to water your plants, instead of using public water.
*Donate your used items. If they are still usable, don't throw them away. Donate them to Goodwill or another worthy cause, including clothes, shoes, toys, and household items. If you can buy used goods, that's as eco friendly, if not more so than buying a brand new Green friendly product.
*Avoid aerosols, which can't be recycled, and contribute to air pollution. There are many non-aerosol alternatives to any product. Research and use organic cleaning products.
*Watch what you put in your trash can. Batteries, paint cans, and aerosol sprays all can leak toxins that can end up in our water system. Ask your community leaders about a safe disposal site for these items.
*Limit what you buy. Think twice about filling your house up with items you'll only use once or twice. Consider sharing items with a good neighbor, such as garden tools, and go in half on them.

From The Butterfly Blog
*Don't use Scoopable kitty litter - "Not only is it destructive because of the strip-mining for clay, but it is not biodegradable, it is clogging and filling landfills at an alarming rate with its expanding-cement-like-presence, the clay is filled with carcinogenic silica dust, and...as if that wasn't enough...the major clumping agent is sodium bentonite which is poisonous. Between breathing the cancer-dust (us and the cats), licking the poison-dust through grooming (just the cats), and what it is doing to the earth and landfills...there is nothing good about it." Use World's Best Cat Litter or Swheat Scoop instead.

From E Magazine
*Focus on overall spending, not the cost of individual items - "...a former cleaning woman told me she’d done almost all her work with homemade cleaning supplies consisting of vinegar, water, borax, baking soda, olive oil and tea tree oil. Her tales inspired me to pick up Karen Logan’s book Clean House, Clean Planet, which is packed with recipes for cheap, eco-friendly cleaners that can be made in less than one minute if you stock your kitchen properly...
Don’t compare mangoes to mangoes. For many years, grocery shopping was a challenge. We wanted to buy organic, but could we afford it? My moment of epiphany came in the produce aisle soon after we moved to Vermont. I was agonizing over the mangoes-the organic ones cost an extra $2 each, a shocking $3.50 per mango.It’s the transportation, stupid! Why was I even considering buying a mango that had been flown from Haiti to Vermont? I marched over to the organic apples, some of which came from less than 15 miles away, and were not much more expensive than the conventional ones. Now, instead of comparing the cost of organic versus non-organic boxed cereal, I head for the bulk organic oatmeal. No longer do I agonize about the price difference between organic rice and beans and their chemical-laden siblings. Rather, I compare organic bulk grains and beans to take-out burritos...For years, I resisted buying compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs). Sure, they were better for the environment, but at $15 per bulb (since reduced to approximately $6), I was sure I couldn’t afford them. That is, until I sharpened my pencil and applied some rusty high school math to determine the bulb’s lifecycle cost. These bulbs will last about 10,000 hours, more than six times as long as the traditional, energy-guzzling bulbs that cost 50 cents each. I calculated just how much I’d save on my electric bill during the bulb’s lifetime...more than $58 over the CFL bulb’s life."

Things you can recycle you didn't know you could (or consider):

*Anything that has metal - As I said earlier, Nick works for a metal recycling company. The way that the company breaks down the metal is very intricate, and even if you're afraid to recycle something because it's mixed material (like the blade of a plastic wrap box) you can throw that in. Their machinery pulls apart the scrap and sorts it so that nothing is wasted. Anything big that can't be picked up in the weekly collection you can bring to a metal recycling drop off point (and sometimes they'll pay you a few $$) or to your local dump. If you do a Google search for "metal recycling drop off point" and the name of your county or town, you should be able to find something near by.
*Anything that has a recycling symbol on it (this includes most Styrofoam)
*Cardboard boxes & any paper good - Not just things packages arrive in or newspapers, but pasta boxes, cereal boxes, oatmeal containers, etc. If it is paper it can be recycled. This includes magazines and junk mail (I'd remove your address first), coupons, scrap paper, old school books, and old books (although I'd donate that to the poor or the library before I'd recycle it).

Some things to try that are not budget friendly:

*Buy fair trade - Fair trade, in short, means that the product you are buying was made in a fair and ethical way. The workers were paid fair wages, worked in safe conditions, and more often than not the product is organic. However, because the workers were paid more that means the product costs more. Sometimes there is a huge difference (double the price or more for a candy bar) and sometimes it's small (an extra dollar or two for a pound of coffee).
*Buy organic and free range products - "Organic" and "Free range" are two of the staple phrases in the Greenie's vocabulary. Unfortunately they're not very friendly on the wallet. I went to Whole Foods this week to buy some food for a big dinner I'm making on Saturday night (4 different kinds of veggies, 1 chicken breast, 2 sausages, bacon, 2 kinds of pasta). My bill was $20 more expensive than when I buy the same goods at the regular supermarket. I nearly had a heart attack, but it's the price you pay when you want a chicken that was allowed to run and see sunshine during its lifetime, rather than spend its whole live in a cage being pumped full of chemicals (among other things).
*Install solar paneling or wind turbines in your home - Essentially you are making your house its own little sustainable energy hub. This is an expensive investment at first, but in most cases you generate so much energy over time that eventually your energy bill is $0, and eventually the electric company will pay you money for generating extra power they can use. In a few years the investment pays for itself, but obviously you need to have the money to do that first.
*Go electric or hybrid with your car - Yes, you can buy electric cars, but they are $$$$$$, as are hybrid cards. Although be careful when picking a hybrid car, obviously they're generally always going to be better than buying a regular one, but depending on the kind of car you want to buy (especially SUVs), sometimes there are cars that even as a non-hybrid get better gas mileage. And there are cases when the price difference is so much that you won't save money in the long run by buying the hybrid. You just need to do your research first.
*Convert your diesel engine to run on corn oil - If you're handy or know a mechanic who can do this, you can convert your diesel engine to run on cooking oil (which was what the car originally ran on before oil was discovered to be a cheaper fuel source). Fast food restaurants have to pay people to take the huge vats of oil away, but if you come buy and ask for the oil they'll generally give it to you. Someone I know from college drove cross country this way, and his car still works years later. If you Google, you can find how to instructions.

Other blogs:

Green Mom on a Budget (I've decided to follow this one).
The Compact - This is the group of people who pledged to buy nothing new for a whole year. The blog chronicles their life during and since then.
Green on a Budget
My Tiny Plot - A blog about gardening in a small area.
Urban Veggie GardenA Blog about gardening in an urban area. (I've decided to follow this one too. I really want to have a garden when we go to California.)
Skippy's Vegetable Garden - A blog about gardening in a larger area.

All the websites I looked at unanimously pointed out the most important tip of all, educating future generations. What we do means little if our kids don't follow good practices that we set out for them. Just like forcing them to eat healthy leads them to make healthier choices when they're older, showing them the benefits of living a Green life makes them more likely to follow these rules in adulthood as well. So next time you recycle or turn the light off, or whatever else you can think of around a kid, make it a lesson in saving the world.

*****If any of these ideas interest you and you're not sure where to start, start with the internet. Google the topic and you'll find tons of blogs and informational websites that will help you get started. I found so many good ones, but couldn't fit them all on here otherwise this entry would be 1923801938 pages long.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Sale at Bloomingdales

I got an email yesterday saying that Bloomingdale's is having a huge sale. It ends today so if you want to get some high end stuff for cheap, shop now!

When you spend $250-499 you get 25% off and when you spend over $500 you get 30% off.

Code for $25 off your purchase of $100 or more: XK0QU129M7P5

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Not your Grandma's Thrift Shop

Before I start today's entry, a word about the updating schedule of the blog. I know I've been all over the place for starters with updating 3 times a day or not at all. I just wanted to get a few things up and running so the blog didn't look so stark before I went public with it. Starting this week I'm going to be on a more regular posting schedule. Every Tuesdays and Fridays I will always have an entry up. Chances are those entries will probably be more structured around a theme. But in between if there's a really good sale going on I'll post about it since sales are obviously a time sensitive thing.

Alrighty, on to today's entry!

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When I was in college I used to shop at the huge Salvation Army on the other side of town. I'd pick up lots of little boy t-shirts (like Superman and Tiger Scouts) and little girl sweaters from the 80s (complete with big flowers and purple hearts knitted into them) as well as anything that screamed 70s (I still have and LOVE my vintage puffy ski vest that I got for $7). I'd go every few weeks when I'd saved up about $20 of the money my mother would send me every month (Binghamton was a pretty cheap place to live which was great for my parents' wallet, but bad for mine because I'd get about $75 to spend on food and fun stuff for the month and it was near impossible to find a job) and I'm browse the long racks hoping to find a gem amongst the old lady crap most people dropped off. Tuesdays everything was 50% off, so I'd usually go then and stock up on other things too like old Nancy Drew books or vinyl. I always felt so...well...thrifty picking up stuff. But then I graduated and there isn't a single decent thrift store around where I live. And obviously now that I'm an adult with a real job with other adults, I can't get away with wearing little kid clothes to work.

Then last July I visited my best friend, Katrina, in Oakland, California to check out some graduate programs out there. It was the first time I had ever visited the San Francisco Bay area, but I was already pretty dead set on it being a top location that I wanted to move to for school. I asked her to show me around the different neighborhoods and take me to things that were outside so I could enjoy the great weather. In the process of doing that she took me to a couple of really cool second hand/sample sale stores and I must admit, I went a little overboard picking up quite a few things (actually now that I think about it I don't think I've done that much shopping since then). But at the end of the weekend, I only spent about $100 and ended up walking away with a lot of stuff.

The first place we visited (and my favorite of the two) was Jeremy's. Jeremy's gets their clothes from stores (either overstock, damaged pieces, display pieces, or customer returns). So everything is new, just a season or more older. I saw a lot of stuff from Anthropologie, J Crew, and other name designers. The store was not wicked cheap, but still cheaper than buying things full priced. I got a shirt and a cardigan from J Crew and I think I spent $50 total on both. There's two locations, one in San Francisco and one in Berkeley. Needless to say, I'll be frequenting Jeremy's when we move on to California...or on second thought, avoiding like the plague.

The second place we visited was Crossroads Trading Company. Crossroads has locations all over the country, and is basically a consignment shop. In our case, the locations were located near colleges, and a lot of students would come by and drop off their gently worn clothes (from the Gap to vintage to designer things) and sell them to the store to clean out their closets. There was also some things that were overstock products as well, but most of those things I'd never heard of the brands. In any event, almost everything was dirt cheap (rarely was there an item for over $10 unless it was designer) and the things were all in good condition. It wasn't like going to a thrift shop where everything smells of mold and dust, so you don't need to worry about spending a fortune in dry cleaning. I bought a new thermal and a used shirt dress and cardigan for $25.

When I asked Katrina about the places we visited for this entry, she also told me about another store that's very similar to Crossroads called Buffalo Exchange. I've never been there, but they are all over the country, there's a couple in the NY Metro area including Brooklyn and Soho. Also in Brooklyn is Beacon's Closet. My friends Jen and Lexie have been telling me about this places for years and I've never gotten my butt in gear to go. Perhaps I'm subconsciously avoiding it because I've heard of all the awesome things they have there and I don't want to go overboard spending money? Knowing me, that's probably the case.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Spring Cleaning means buying more stuff!!

Before I start, I just want to say wow! Only a few days into officially becoming public and YBM already has 5 followers, almost 300 hits, and two comments! I know that seems like a small start in comparison to other hugely popular blogs, but considering my previous attempts at the Blogosphere, this is a really big deal for me. So I just want to thank all of you who are checking me out, those who plan to stick with me through this journey, and those who have promoted YBM around. I really appreciate it!

Also, I have some questions for those more experienced. Specifically, can someone who is not logged into Blogger test out the comments section? I want to make sure other people can leave comments. And does anyone know how to make it so I am either notified via email when people leave comments, or I have a notification on my dashboard (without having to subscribe to every single post). Thanks!!

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I don't know about you, but when Spring comes around the icy parts of my wallet melt and I have the strong desire to run out and go shopping. I want Spring and summer clothes and bright happy things for my apartment. But we're in a recession here, and I have no money because I make no money, so this is probably not the best idea for me right now. This is a total shame because our apartment really isn't season friendly. Sometimes (just to brighten the mood, or make things feel new) the best thing you can do to give your home a mini facelift is just change around the accents. Swap out the throw pillows, lamp shades, dish towels, switch plates and any other little details you think look too drab for the Spring.

Perfect example (that was super easy and I spent NO money): Fall is by far my favorite season, and I love, so am absolutely obsessed with, Christmas. All of our candles are named things like "Pumpkin Pie," "Fireplace," "Evergreen tree," etc. For my birthday I got a candle from Noelle that smells like a tropical beach, and I told her it reminded me of California (we're moving there in August which I'm sure will bring a whole host of moving related entries!) so now I have it out. Realizing that my "Fresh Leaves" or dark green candles didn't really match it, I switched them out for brighter colored ones and ones that smelled more beachy. The instant scent transformation already makes the place seem brighter and lighter.

Now, that's not as good as being able to buy brand new throw pillows. But if I could go shopping, here's some really cute things that capture the spirit of spring that I might buy for our home:

Crate and Barrel:






William Sonoma:

$39.00-62.00

Pier 1:

$2.95

Usually I don't like fake flowers (ones that look real are very hard to find, and it looks cheap to me). But, for those of you who do like them, I thought these were very cute. And there were some white hydrangeas (which are one of my favorite flowers) too. These are $5.00 each.

Pottery Barn:

$9 for a set of 3

Eggs - $14

$7.99

Target:

$19.99

Bed Bath and Beyond:

$5.99-12.99

There is a whole line of products with this pattern (including bath linens and glassware). This placemat is $6.99.

Anthropologie:

$14.95

$2.95

Urban Outfitters:

Online only - $4.99

Really good sale going on at Express right now

Express is having their clearance sale right now (you know, the one where they put all their things into boxes and they're ridiculously reduced). In addition to that, I just got an email saying until Sunday you can take an additional 30% off all clearance items, and they're also doing Express cash. Through the 18th if you spend $50, you get $25 Express cash that you can spend starting the 19th. That particular deal is in-store only.

Plus if you are a card holder you get 50 bonus points when you buy skirts. Cardigans are 40% off. And jewelry, women's blouses, jeans, men's polos, graphic tees, and 1MX button downs, and boxers are BOGO 50% off. So many sales it makes my head spin!

Here's a few choice items I thought were particularly stylish...

For Her:


For Him:


By the way, if you sign up for their mailing list you get a 15% off coupon for your next purchase. This is the thing they always ask you for you email address for in the store and when they say, "well, if you sign up more than once, you just get more coupons." Not true, you get the same email 5 times. And you can print that coupon 5 times yourself without the added headache, you don't need the extra spam to do that.

Edited to Add:


Two other really good sales you should be aware of.

-Bath and Body Works is currently having a sale through tomorrow, buy 3 things from their Signature Collection, get 3 free. Their 14.5 oz candles are also BOGO 50% off. Their shipping is free if you spend $60.
-Laila Rowe is BOGO 50% off new spring arrivals. Their shipping is free is you spend $50.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Movie Review - Cheri & Why Netflix is awesome

Is it ok if I review a movie that's a little bit old? I'm going to decide right now that it is, this opens up the floor for me to talk about Classic films and semi-new films (at least for me) that I find to be worth talking about.

As I have mentioned several times already, Nick is away on a business trip this week. Generally when he's gone I try really hard to squeeze in as many friend hangouts as possible (before you go around thinking I only hang out with my friends when my husband is not around, I usually I make it a rule to hang out with at least one person a week--gotta keep sane somehow!) and cue up some things on my Netflix that I think Nick won't enjoy that much. Usually these consist of really lame movies I'm curious about, romantic comedies, and period films (especially BBC miniseries). All the genres most commonly known to the female persuasion.

Before I start my review, though, let me gush about Netflix for a moment.

For those of you who haven't jumped on the bandwagon (and I'll understand if you're supporting a local vendor) why haven't you? It is so incredibly convenient, fast (they get to and from the local warehouse within 2-3 days) and far cheaper than Movies on Demand/Payperview, Blockbuster, etc. For $8.95 a month we get unlimited internet downloads to our computer (and if you're willing to pay $100, you can get an electronic device that will let you stream then straight to your TV) and unlimited DVDs to our house (as long as only one is in your possession at a time). If you watch one movie a week and there's 4 weeks that month, it works out to under $3 a movie. I'd say this is the ideal package for a couple with no kids. Sometimes you are too busy to watch, so having one DVD around is a challenge, but if you have a regular movie night tradition on Friday nights then you've got your movie all lined up. If you have kids or you watch a movie every day, you can pay a little bit extra to have up to 4 DVDs floating around your home. Well worth it in my opinion.


2009
Starring - Michelle Pfeiffer, Rupert Friend, Kathy Bates

Cheri came out about a year ago, and it was one of those movies that I actually really wanted to see in the movie theaters. But since it came out around my birthday and Easter things, as usual, were too hectic and we never made it out to see it. It was promptly added to the Netflix DVD cue once it was released on DVD and since I didn't think Nick would enjoy it, I saved it for a time when he was away (he travels every few weeks or so for his job).

I'm still undecided as to whether or not I think he would have liked the movie. Nick is somewhat of a softie. He's one of those rare guys who is actually in touch with his emotions, so he's not afraid to say things like "I cried during the Notebook" (although if you ask him now he'll deny it) or like an occasional Romantic Comedy. We watched Confessions of a Shopaholic together (the perfect Christmas gift for me this past year) and he laughed the entire time because he genuinely thought it was funny. So I know a movie like Cheri would have gotten to him on some level. The ending is not typical Hollywood, and no doubt he would have felt moved enough to well, put the moves on me in an effort to express his undying love for me. But the storyline was a little bit weak and I found myself working on last night's blog entry through the first 30 minutes or so of the movie.

We start off in turn of the Century Paris. A courtesan (which is basically an extremely high priced prostitute) is getting ready to retire when she is pulled back in the business to set her frenemy's son on the path to healthy living and skilled love making. She was the best courtesan of her day because she never fell in love, but this young boy bedazzles her and steals her heart (right away you have to wonder what this boy in pale makeup has that other strapping men didn't). Things become complicated when he has to get married and neither one can let go.

The love affair between Cheri (Rupert Friend) and Lea (Michelle Pfeiffer) seems a little far fetched. I believe it more when they are not in the same scene pining away for each other. Before that, even during their most intimate moments when Lea can be honest, and not play the mind games she feels she must play as part of her profession, seem a little forced. Maybe it's because of the age difference? Or maybe it's because how the two characters met and their previous relationship make it a little weird (imagine having an affair with your Godparent). But once the couple was apart I actually started to care about their well being (Lea more so than Cheri) and wanted things to work out for the best. They weren't played poorly, I think I just had a hard time believing it (although the horrible fake British accents Michelle Pfeiffer and Kathy Bates had might have added to that as well).



Storyline aside, the scenery is gorgeous as are the costumes. Movies always score major points with me if there is breathtaking set design and cinematography. The world of Cheri was bright and opulent, much like the main characters within the film. The scenes in the gardens or by the seaside evoke the accessory heavy and detailed Victorian lifestyle (and gave me decorating ideas) and the bedrooms have an airy romantic feel to them.





Overall, I did like the movie. It was visually stunning, and the storyline got me in the end. But the start was slow, and because of its sad ending all it did was make me even more lonely for my husband. But on the bright side, if your husband is a softie like mine, you'll probably get laid in the name of undying true love. So extra bonus points for that one.

3.5/5 Stars

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Word to your Mother

Is it my imagination or is Mother's Day early this year? For those of you who forgot just how early it is, here's some gift ideas for your mommy. My mom is gonna be jealous I didn't get her any of these things. She just wanted flowers for her garden, how boring!


Banana Republic

With 25% discount (BRSale25 or TAXBREAK25) - $40

Old Navy



*When you shop at stores in the Banana Republic family (which includes Old Navy, The Gap, Athleta, and Piperlime) you pay one flat shipping fee.



Etsy.com
For those of you who do not know about the website Etsy, it's everyday people who make crafts and sell vintage things online. Some of the stuff is really high quality, and one of my favorite vendors is Mylavaliere. If you buy multiple items from her, there is one low flat shipping fee.


Crate and Barrel
I think this vase with some big white flowers would be gorgeous.


Sephora
Don't forget there's free shipping on orders over $50, and the three free samples with each purchase.

$23.00


$25.00

Gift baskets are always fun too, although they can get pricey. If you want to buy a pre-made one, Wine Country Baskets has some really great ones that are under $30. If you want to make one yourself, it always helps to give pieces that can perform double duty. For example:

Pier 1

$12.00 - This can be your basket, but it can also be used to hold bread, or your keys, etc.

And some other yummy treats to put in there!

William Sonoma


Stonewall Kitchen

$6.95


$6.50

Some other good ideas: packets of flower seeds, her favorite candy, cute little note cards or writing pads, trial size toiletries from Bath and Body works.

Happy shopping!

Top 5s of Partying and Entertaining - Entry #1

Have you ever seen the movie or read the book High Fidelity? The main character Rob, your typical 30something man child, constantly makes up Top 5 lists. Top 5 favorite movies, Top 5 Favorite albums, and so on. Now if Rob were a 30something woman, his top 5 lists would be probably consist of something else which got me thinking about some Top 5 lists I could make up for an entry. I've been asking people for ideas on entry topics and an overwhelming majority of my friends have talked about entertaining for cheap. So in the spirit of High Fidelity, I decided that I'd start a series of Top 5 entries about Entertaining.

We'll start with the basics and work our way up as we go along...

5 Food Related Things You need to own:


1. Tri bowl - I registered for this serving dish when we were getting married and have since bought it for 2 other couples who gush over its versatility. Guacamole, sour cream, mini pretzel sticks. Strawberries, grapes, cherries. Honey roasted nuts, M&Ms, Swedish Fish. Baby carrots, tomatoes, celery. Spinach dip, onion dish, salsa. Ok, I could keep going, but you get the idea. This dish comes out for every party and holiday in my home. And the best part, 3 dishes in one means less clutter and less cleaning up.

From Crate and Barrel

2. Chip dip bowl - This is a staple dating back to our parent's generation. Much like the commercial floating around TV right now, I think my mother has 3-5 of them. But as much of a joke as they have become, this is another versatile dish that leads to less clutter and less clean up. Especially if you have boys or children coming, this is a must. And if you look hard enough, you can always find something cute and different so you don't get stuck with your mother's extras.

From Bed Bath and Beyond - $19.99

3. Appetizer Plates - Every time I have a party my mother buys me paper plates, plastic cups, and fancy napkins telling me that it'll lessen my cleanup. Fancy napkins are thick and double as appetizer plates! No they don't. And paper and plastic anything is reserved for a picnic. That being said, appetizer plates are a must. If you're worried about having one more set of dishes to do, think of it this way. They're small (so they can go in the top shelf of your dish washer) and if you don't have a dishwasher, they probably won't get that dirty so cleaning them won't give your arm that much of a workout. PS. Mom, I'll take fancy napkins any day. I have a collection growing that I pull out when I need extra decor for my design theme.

From Crate and Barrel - Set of 12 - $22.95

4. Cocktail Shaker - No longer for James Bond or your grandmother's cocktail party, a shaker is another must! Sure, most people will probably just want beer. But if you invent a signature drink for each party you'll score creativity points.

From Macy's - $14.99

5. Place mats - I know this is a given, but I use them all over my apartment, not just on the dining room table. When you have people over (especially if people plan to get drunk or there are children or elderly or clumsy or anyone in my family around) things get spilled. And usually it's red wine. I put them down wherever I have food. If they all match then it adds continuity to your party decor. If they don't, as long as they match the room they're placed in and they are not plastic or paper you're good to go. Added bonus: on certain key furniture I leave them out all the time to prevent my rambunctious cats from destroying everything I own with their claws.

From Bed Bath and Beyond - $2.99 each

5 Things to Never forget:


1. Ice - You don't always have to buy ice, depending on the size of your party, but at least make sure your ice cube trays are filled and ready to go. We never use ice on a regular basis, and I can't tell you how many times someone has brought something and wanted ice at a party only to discover that we have none. Worst party hosts ever? Yes, only until I shove my delicious food down their throats and they forgive me.

2. Alcohol - A party without alcohol? This is sacrileges! However, even at a BYOB party, you need to at least buy something. Just because people will usually bring their favorite thing to drink, does not mean you should not have supplements. You should at least start out with a case of beer, one bottle of red wine, one of white, and your crowds favorite liquor. In college we drank Goldschl├Ąger and J├Ągermeister. Now, I always make sure there is a bottle of Captain Morgan, Butterscotch liquor, vodka, and Bailey's around.

3. Toothpicks - If you're serving appetizers or people are eating, why would you not have these around?

4. Club Soda - See #5 of previous list. When things spill, you must be prepared. Plus people can actually drink it too.

5. Introducing people - This is perhaps the trickiest part of being a hostess, but if you have a party where people do not know each other it's rude not to do so. Sometimes it's as simple as "Joe, meet Bob." And sometimes people like to take it one step up, "Joe, meet Bob, he's a musician. Bob, Joe is an artist. You both enjoy Quentin Tarantino films." I generally go around and say names, and then if someone looks lonely I'll drag them into my conversation or pull people into a group if I think they'll have input on the topic or get along. There's really no wrong way to introduce people, as long as you do it and don't walk away leaving anyone stranded.

5 Things that are essential to a successful party

1. A theme - This helps to keep you organized. It doesn't need to be an obvious theme like "Hawaiian Luau" or "Tea time in the Queens Court," anything will do. Let's say the theme is green (the color, not the lifestyle). Now you know what napkins to pull out, candles to light, table cloth to use. White matches, so you can use your white plates. Blue also matches, so you can use those two blue serving dishes you own. Build from there. If you want to be more specific, you could build it around an appetizer party. Have people dress up in cocktail attire, make 10 different finger food appetizers, play some upbeat jazz music, and drink martini's. When you have a starter idea (no matter how big or how small), you give yourself direction and it gives your party a more cohesive and organized feel.

2. Ipod - What is a party without the right music? My father is a musician, so is my husband, my brother, my grandmother, myself, and about 10 of our closest friends. There's a lot of music snobs and I make a mix for each occasion, put it on my Ipod, and let it do it's thing. 6 hours of uninterupted music just means one less thing to worry about. And honestly, there's nothing worse than being mid-conversation and having to run to the CD player to change to the next CD.

3. Food that creates flow - Really this is more about food placement. When you have a small apartment, or not a lot of furniture for people to sit in, you need to create movement so you don't have everyone crowding around one table fighting for the food. I like to place food around my living room, kitchen, and dining room to encourage people to walk around the apartment and check out the different scenery and guests. (This is where those place mats come in handy!)

4. A guest list - No, I don't mean a NYC club complete with scary big bouncer guest list. I mean actually think about who you are inviting to this party. Not only do you not want to forget anyone, but sometimes you probably shouldn't invite people. Think the drama the comes around when two ex's are in the same room; or some parties are totally appropriate to invite every single person you know (BBQ, surprise birthday party, etc.) but other parties you may not want to invite your mom to (Anything but clothes, Sex Toys). Be aware of the kind of people there who will be mixing together, and what each group would like. It makes for more friendly interactions and less awkwardness later on.

5. Clean up before, during, and after - I know this negates a lot of the "entertain simply" rules, but people forget how easy it is to clean.
*Step 1. "Husband, I cooked for 6 hours, can you please sweep/vacuum/pick up the clutter and throw it in our laundry basket. Thanks!" Maybe I'm idealistic because Nick is such a huge help around the house, but I honestly believe that men should be helping with things and not sitting in front of a TV all day. Equal work for equal pay. They want to eat and drink and have a good time, they can do the bare minimum clean up before we start.
*Step 2. As you circulate, if you see something like an empty cup or play or dirty napkin, just pick it up! Leisurely (ie. talk, socialize, etc.) make your way to the kitchen and dispose properly. Rejoin the party. No one said you need to clean the whole time, but doing little things like that when it comes to mind will make your clean up later easier and sometimes if people see you cleaning they may suggest they help. When that happens, I send that guest home with extra leftovers.


By the way, almost all of these points are going to have their own more detailed blog entry. So if you felt jipped, there will be more!
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