Archive for the ‘Shopping’ Category

Weekend Nerd Updates and New CUP Photo Info

November 6, 2011

1) I saw Lazer Tag in Macy’s. I wanted it. Badly. The Hubby didn’t agree to the purchase. I almost had a temper tantrum in the store like a two year old.

2) Later at Target we were walking through the 50% off Halloween aisles, and I managed to convince The Hubby to try on this Batboy costume. He didn’t let me buy it for him, but I was actually okay with that.

3) We actually did buy this from the Target 50% off Halloween aisle and made the dog wear it. There’s a special kind of hell waiting for people like us.

4) I found this cartoon of Dumbo with stretched earlobes on poorlydressed.com and have been trying to find a way to work it into a blog post ever since.

5) While grocery shopping I saw this jumbo pack of lunch-size chips, and the first thing I thought was “Eat ALL the chips!

6) My new shirt came in from lolshirts.com!

7) The Hubby and I each bought funny looking shoes.

8 ) The Hubby and I played Dodgeball with a bunch of grown adults and had a BLAST. We’re going again next Wednesday. You know, if we can walk again by then. So…much…pain! Not from getting hit with dodgeballs (they’re foam, not rubber), but we’re trying to recover from the aching shoulders, spasming back muscles and burning knee and hip joints from the overexertion! Also, I have a blister on my big toe *sniff*.

Close-Up Photo Contest

I’ve had several people remind me that we’re not done with the CUP Contest. I love that you guys love it so much. So here’s the deal: Starting on Tuesday November 8th, I will be posting a new CUP EVERY DAY at noon (12pm Central Standard Time). We’re going to play every day until somebody reaches 1000 points. After that I’m thinking about keeping it as a regular feature, but we’ll have individual winners for each photo entry. So, keep your eyes open – somebody is going to win the CUP Contest very, very soon!

My Coke Rewards Math

November 1, 2011

I drink Diet Coke. I like the way it tastes and I like the carbonation. Recently I started drinking Diet Caffeine-Free Coke because I’m trying to cut back on the caffeine. And I’ll drink Pepsi, especially if it’s on sale. But the point is, I drink soda and when I do it’s usually Coke products.

A few years ago I took notice of this whole Coke Rewards program. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the concept, inside the cap of every bottle of Coke, and inside the cardboard or plastic packaging of every case of Coke, there is a long alphanumeric code. If you sign up for a free account at mycokerewards.com you can enter these codes and get anywhere from 3-25 points per code. The codes add up and you can use them to buy things from the mycokerewards catalog, enter drawings for really big prizes, or donate the points to charity groups for their use.

I decided to start playing, and I became one of those crazy coworkers or friends who sees you drinking your soda and asks, “Can I have your cap when you’re done with your Coke?” I’ve also been known to troll the workplace birthday/ anniversary/ shower/ retirement parties for the empty Coke cases so I can get points there.

The way the entry system works is this: You can enter up to 120 points per week; the count resets every Monday. When you see something on the website that you want to buy, you simply click on it, mycokerewards.com deducts the points from  your account, and the prize is shipped to your address in 6-8 weeks. Items range in price from 3-2000 points.

 

Screen capture from mycokerewards.com – click image to follow to source.

Recently I purchased two 2-packs of AMC tickets plus popcorn and drinks. These cost me 1100 points each. I got to thinking about the math behind this, and was tickled by the numbers so I thought I’d share.

  • 12-pack of Coke costs ~$3.50 (more expensive some weeks, less expensive others).
  • 12-pack of Coke = 10 points
  • 120 points added per week
  • 1 prize of 2 AMC movie tickets ($20) plus 1 large popcorn and 2 large Cokes ($16.75) = 1100 points

So:

  • 1100 points / 10 points per 12-pack = 110 12-packs
  • $3.50 per 12-pack x110 12-packs = $385
  • And it takes me 1100 points / 120 points per week = 10 weeks to build up that many points if I have collected 120 points in a week, which I often don’t.

That’s a lot of Coke!

Coke gets their marketing – They know that I’m interested in their product over long periods of time because I continue to enter codes, they get to bombard me with advertisements when I visit the rewards website, and they get to track the kind of things I buy so they can better market to me in the future. In turn, I receive a free night at the movies with a friend. Like I said in the first paragraph, I drink the stuff anyway. I’m not buying Coke in order to collect points. I don’t buy more Coke than I would if there wasn’t a rewards program in place, and we still buy Pepsi if it’s cheaper than Coke on any given week. 

I participate in several loyalty programs besides the Coke Rewards. I’ve got a handful of those little keyfob cards on my keyring: Sally Beauty Club, SuperAmerica Speedy Rewards, PetCo P.A.L.S, PetSmart PetPerks, AMC Stubs. I feel like I get free stuff for using these cards at places that I go anyway, but is the cost of me giving these companies so much information and ways to sell me more stuff worth it in the long run?

How do you feel about perk/loyalty/reward programs?

Order now – only one meeeelyon dollars!

August 12, 2011

Okay, here’s proof that work is slowing down. I was at home browsing through the Costco coupon book (clue one), and I decided to check out the cookware set on Costco online to find out how much the set would be without the discount (clue two). On the front page of the website I noticed this advertisement for a ring, just kind of sitting there above a reclining chair and some discount flatscreen TVs:

To quote one of my favorite podcasters, my flabber is gasted.  I’ll only pause briefly on my personal dislike of diamonds:

  • I think they’re boring little flints of rock (give me a colorful ruby or emerald any day over a diamond).
  • They don’t serve any purpose except to be shiny, to make you look like you have money or to place unwarranted confidence in the strength of your relationship with your spouse or lover, or to make you happy for some other unfathomable (to me) reason.
  • You only want a diamond because excellent marketing by diamond sellers have fooled you into thinking that you want that worthless piece of stone.
  • And finally, the relationships between some diamond mining and human exploitation is sickening.

I have never owned a diamond. When the Hubby and I were engaged I told him that I didn’t want an engagement ring because I’d rather spend the money on a house or car payment. Also because I’m a gigantic klutz and kind of flighty about the spatial relationship between me and the things I own (read: I lose shit really well)

So anyway, all of that is beside the point (I think there’s a point in here). I know that many people like and want diamonds for various reasons. Fine and dandy. But if you are ready, willing and able to put 1 million dollars into a diamond and platinum ring are you really going to buy a ring from Costco??? Diamonds are status symbols, but so are Tiffany & Co. bags.

Help me out guys…I’ve seen the rocks on some of your hands. Are diamonds anything other than sheer indulgence? Is it just the shiny? And would you buy jewelry from a Costco warehouse, or do you need the experience of shopping in a fancy diamond store?

Oh, and the fact that I wrote this blog about some random advertisement on the Costco website is clue three that work is slowing down.

Cruise, Costumes and Chores: A Weekend

August 9, 2011

I had my first full weekend all to myself in three weeks! Work is finally slowing down for TheBigProject. All of the testing is done and now it’s paperwork, documentation and repeat. There are still some late nights, but it should be tapering off to a more normal pace around here.

Friday night after work I hung out with friends until about 9:30pm, then came home and went to bed. I managed to make it through about two paragraphs of The Ship Who Searched before succumbing to sleep. I barely managed to set the book on the bed stand before going under, and I slept in until 9am the next morning. Ahhhh! I needed that.

Saturday was COSTUME AND CRUISE day! I didn’t have time to pull together a costume for this past CONvergence, so I’ve gotten a bee in my bonnet to actually make a costume (or two) for Dragon*Con. I reaaaaalllly wanted to make a Minion costume (from Despicable Me), but because I’ll be flying to Dragon*Con I didn’t see any cheap, easy way to get the finished costume from Minneapolis down to Atlanta. So maybe I’ll save that one for CONvergence 2012.

I actually ran into that a lot during planning. I want to be able to transport a costume (or two) in one carry-on (EDIT: checked) bag. The only large luggage that I own is soft-sided or I could pack a sturdy cardboard box. So I’m limited by size, weight and durability of a finished costume (as well as breathability – I’m going to be in Atlanta, GA at the beginning of September and I hear that’s still hot season). And for some reason I’m all about constructing a costume. I may purchase a secondary costume from an online store – something that consists of easily pack-able themed clothing and a few small accessories, but I want one uber-costume that takes a little thought, is maybe (dare I hope) original, and requires some hardware. If it doesn’t require at least one trip to Home Depot, it’s out of the running.

I spent all of Saturday morning bouncing ideas off of The Very Patient Hubby and I think we’ve finally got something good. It took longer to collect supplies than I thought; I spent Saturday, Sunday and Monday shopping all over Minneapolis and the greater metro area. Here’s the list of stores that I’ve visited:

  • Saturday: Border’s (book store), Michael’s (crafts store), Walgreen’s, Jo-Ann Fabrics, Walmart, Home Depot (there – a Home Depot stop! We are now legit.).
  • Sunday: SR Harris Fabric Outlet
  • Monday: The Paper Depot, Office Max and a second trip to Home Depot (now we’re double legit). 

Phew! The final purchases now include

  • 1 children’s story book
  • 45 yards of fake ivy
  • 4 red poster boards
  • 15 feet of 8-gauge copper wire
  • 4 wire connectors
  • 2 yards of green upholstery fabric
  • 1 package of business cards
  • 1 rubber stamp and green ink pad
  • 1 themed paper punch
  • Adhesive jewel dots
  • Adhesive foam scrapbooking spacers
  • 1 regular paper punch
  • 1 red fine-tip Sharpie
  • Gorilla glue
  • Twine (because what project is complete without twine?)

Now to put them all together…

In between running around for costuming supplies on Saturday, the Hubby and I took a Minnesota Riverboat cruise. We drove to Harriet Island in Saint Paul and boarded one of the Padelford paddle boats for a 1.5-hour trip south along the Mississippi. We managed to snag chairs outside on the lower deck, so I had some great opportunities for taking photos of the people, birds and structures that we passed along the way. Plus, they had a bar. So there was that.

Old Factory

Fishing the MIssissippi

Bald Eagle Soaring

Osprey

St. Paul under the High Bridge

I have more pictures of our cruise here on Flickr.

Sunday was no fun, but it was fulfilling. I woke up in a cleaning frenzy and straightened up the living room, cleaned the bathroom, vacuumed, took out the garbage and recycling and did two loads of laundry, and all of that between the hours of 8:30am and 10:30am. Then I went costume supply shopping and errand-running (ewwww…Costco on a Sunday afternoon). I certainly racked up the FourSquare points that day. The Hubby came home from running his own errands and we cooked brats on the grill and watched The End of Time: Parts 1 and 2 on Netflix. How did I not see this before??? Why wasn’t this part of Season Five of Doctor Who (did I just miss it because of a Netflix mishap)? It was good…I almost started crying when David Tennant…you know…did that thing where he became Matt Smith.

And then it was Monday. Wheeee!

Aaaaand, We’re Back!

December 30, 2010

How’s everyone’s vacation going?  I didn’t have easy access to wireless for my laptop over the last week, thus no new blog posts.  But y’all had better things to do than read my ramblings anyway, so we’ll just wipe our hands of that last week and pick it up where we left off.

I know that I have had a lovely time with family over the past week, and the Hubby and I took this entire week between Christmas and New Year’s off from work, so we’ve got another four days of stay-cation in Minneapolis.  We briefly considered doing a runaway last minute Thursday-Sunday deal down to someplace warm and sunny.  You know, pack a swimsuit, some flippy-floppies, the passports, a few pairs of underwear and just go lay on a beach for the next couple of days.  But after writing out the January rent check and tallying the Christmas spending…well…I may be able to squeeze in a trip to the indoor water park near the Mall of America

We’re going to run out and get some yummy gluten-free Original Pancake House for breakfast, and then today is Returns/Exchanges Day:

Technically, my duplicate Doubt has already been “returned”, which is why there is only one copy in the picture above, but there is a fun story associated with it.  My Mom, who gave me the second copy, thought it looked interesting and had started reading the first chapter before she wrapped it up.  When I opened it on Christmas day and gave her the half-amused, half-apologetic “Someone already gave me this” look, she eagerly took it back and said “Oh good!  I want to read this anyway.”  I think we ended up bartering a red sweater and some crazy expensive socks* for the book.

When we get back later today, I promise there will be a full accounting of all of the nerdy/geeky Christmas presents that I raked in this holiday – oh and there are some doozies!  Also, I took over 300 pictures in the Museum of Science and Industry on Tuesday’s day trip to Chicago, so after I pare those down I’ll share that adventure.

Happy Holidays!

~~~~~

*Who pays $17 for a pair of socks, Muh-ther?  This “smartwool” better be able to do differential equations.

Turkey Day Gossip

November 25, 2010

Adventure blogging from the road!

I was exhausted last night and ended up crawling into bed at around 9:30pm.  So I wasn’t surprised to find myself up and about at 6:45 this morning.  I washed a few dishes, fed and watered Taz and Prada, and then went and gave some cuddle-love to my neighbor’s cats so they don’t go insane while she’s out of town.

Best. Chores. Ever!

The Hubby and I contributed home-made cranberry sauce, asparagus, and decidedly not home-made pumpkin and apple pies for Thanksgiving dinner.  We did Thanksgiving at the Hubby’s house in Roseville, MN (very yummy meal, great to see everyone!), which should have made for a nice, local, non-traveling Thanksgiving.  Except that now the Hubby and I are in a gigantic GMC Yukon driving 3.5 hours south to Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin.  The Hubby has a work assignment down there tomorrow at 8am and I’m traveling along for the adventure of it, and hopefully a chance to see some friends in my college stomping grounds of Winona, MN on the way back.

This little trip is adding some spice to my Black Friday shopping. I love big group “to-do’s” and any excuse to be awake during odd times of the day, so I usually find myself out and about with the Black Friday crowds after Turkey Day. This year I’ll be in Prairie du Chien, and I have no idea what the store situation looks like down there. Plus I won’t have a car; the Hubby needs his work truck at the job site.

So here’s how I’m thinking this is going to go down: We’ll hit the town’s Walmart sometime in wee hours prior to the Hubby heading off to work. I’ll ask the hotel concierge for local Black Friday shopping suggestions, and if there’s some place that I *must* visit then I’ll walk or maybe cab it.

I’d love to pick up an inexpensive laptop, but I’m not really planning on that. I’d also love for an SLR camera to fall into my lap, but that’s even less likely! I’ll probably end up with a handful of cheap DVDs, and that will be just fine.

*****
We just drove through Rochester, MN, so that leaves us with about…2.5 left for the drive.

*****
And for what am I thankful? I’m thankful for winning the lottery in life. I have great family, awesome friends and health. I’m a citizen of a relatively wealthy, free country that allows me to pursue life, liberty and happiness. I have an enthusiasm for life that just won’t quit. I am one lucky lady. I am thankful for the opportunities that have been available to me.

*****

Okay…it’s getting late and dark and the Hubby wants conversation, so peace out!

Uptown Adventures

October 1, 2010

Yesterday was a really good day. 

I left work a little early, made it home by 4:15pm and I dove right into chores.  I spent about an hour and a half washing dishes (the correct response to the fact that I had to spend an hour and a half cleaning dishes for a two-person family is “ewwwww”), I did three loads of laundry and I picked up the living room.   After all of that I had earned myself a guilt-free evening.  I could sit staring at the wall for the next three hours and be fine with it because I had Done The Housework. 

But I didn’t sit and stare at the wall for three hours.

According the the forecast on MPR, the temperature is supposed to be taking a nosedive any day now.  So when the Hubby got home at 6:30pm, we decided to take advantage of the currently perfect 70°C weather with a walk to Uptown for dinner.

Along the way from our place in LynLake we passed a new theater under construction.  Huge Theater is going to be all improv shows and workshops.  I’ve seen a couple of their Show X performances at the Bryant Lake Bowl theater, and those were always fun.  It’s cool that they’re getting their own space.  When I was doing community theater, finding performance space was always a big topic of conversation.  

Later on our walk we passed by a retail space turned art gallery.  Through the all-glass window front we saw a hoity-toity art show in progress: Lots of open space, bright lights, abstract paint swirls on canvas, and lots of people milling about wearing natural fiber clothing and balancing glasses of red or white wine in their palms.

We decided to eat on the rooftop of Stella’s Fish Cafe.  Yummy – I had cornmeal-crusted catfish and the Hubby had fish and chips.  We managed to resist the calamari and crab-stuffed mushrooms because we know from experience that the portions at Stella’s are gigantic.  Sure enough, we still had leftovers from our entrees, even without the appetizers.  During dinner we had lively debates about religion, the tax-free status of churches and charities and whether charities should be allowed to endorse political candidates, and elder bugs.  Also there were fart jokes. 

From the rooftop, the Hubby saw a motorcycle in the parking lot of Cowboy Slim’s that appeared to be glowing.  After dinner we took a stroll over and found three HUGE Boss Hoss motorcycles.  One of them had neon lights flickering on the dash and the  in-laid lighting on the gas tank that the Hubby had spotted from Stella’s.  This beast had a 632 cubic inch engine; the water-cooled radiator was bigger than my torso.

We didn’t get a photograph of the Boss Hosses that we saw last night, but this photo gives you an idea of how freaking huge these bikes were.  Lookit that engine!

On the meander home we stopped at a store on Lake Street called Monkey Business.  The place screamed new, small-business, what with the limited furnishings, the mix-and-matched store fixtures – and probably most telling- the only store clerk was also the owner of the shop.  The place had rockabilly-style clothing, body jewelry, a wall of goth baby jumpers and other novelties (goth oven mitts, lol!), and another wall of neon-striped knee socks and funky tights.  There is a back-room consisting of smoking supplies and sex toys, but for patrons who don’t want to see these products the back room is clearly marked “18 and up” and is curtained off from the rest of the store.  We chatted with the owner for a bit, and she was friendly and engaging…especially so close to closing time!  We wished her luck with the store and continued on our way (after I pointed out a few earrings to the Hubby with a reminder that Christmas is a mere three months away). 

After that we walked by Bryant Lake Bowl and heard the quote of the night: “Remember when we were in Thailand and you got that tattoo?” 

And we had almost made it home when we were drawn into the brand new Lake Wine and Cheese.  There were people at the register, so we decided to go in and explore.  A few feet into the entryway, one of the owners hurried over and told us that they weren’t actually open yet – their grand opening is today!  But then the owner told us we could look around, and he could open the register for a credit card sale if we wanted to buy anything, which I thought was very nice of him.  There were still boxes everywhere, and most of the products hadn’t yet been labeled with prices, but the place looks nice.  They have a browsing-friendly store layout and the ceiling is high, which gives the store a very open feel.  There is a separate glassed-off room where they sell fancy cheeses (stupid no liquor sales in grocery stores law!).  And they have the best liquor store chandeliers ever. 

We’re going back for the grand opening tonight – Lake Wine and Cheese is right down the street from our apartment and according to the owner they’re having INCREDIBLE grand opening sales this evening. 

We finally made it home, and were happy to discover that it was still only 9:30pm.  That means I cleaned the house, went wandering around Uptown and LynLake, had dinner AND I was able to watch two episodes of House before bedtime.  Score!

Men have fragile egos too?

September 8, 2010

Have you heard of vanity sizing?  It’s the gradual increase over time in how we define our clothing sizes.  Vanity sizing is a trick that clothing manufacturers play on consumers to make us feel better about the clothes we’re buying from them.  For example, they might make a size 10 skirt, but label it as size 8.

You’ve heard that Marilyn Monroe wore a size 14?  She was gorgeous and a size 14, so why should today’s size 14 gal worry about her waist?  A blog called True Life covered this topic in 2007:

Marilyn was a size 14…back in 1950.  Kate Dillon is still smokin’ hot (and I like the red hair, so I’d say hotter than Marilyn…and how can you not love that green swimsuit???) but her 14 is not Marilyn’s 14.

Vanity sizing is the reason why you may prefer Old Navy jeans to Gap jeans or Target jeans, or vice versa.  It’s the reason why you may have to buy boutique-style clothing two sizes “bigger” than ready-to-wear off-the rack clothes.

It’s sneaky, and we let them do it, because we’re vain.

And I’ll be honest – I thought it was something they only did to women.

Let’s look at women’s clothing sizes: 00, 0, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20, 22, 24, 26, 28 and so on.  Those “sizes” don’t mean anything – a size 10 jean doesn’t mean one has a 10-inch waist.  Then there’s the ridiculous S, M, L, XL, 2XL, 3XL, 4XL size chart – pretty subjective.  Some plus size clothing manufacturers  have even tried to eliminate the standard prejudices associated with the previous two systems and use vague 1, 2, 3, 4 designations for clothing – especially clothing that would normally fall into the XL, 2XL, 3XL, 4XL system like shirts and dresses, or other other clothes that can adjust via belts, ties, adjustable straps, or *shudder* elastic.

Since the scales (hehehe) are subjective, I can understand how there’s some fudge factor room in creating women’s clothing in one size and calling it a smaller size.  You convince a woman that your store’s size 14 fits here, and if she goes to another store (that doesn’t vanity size as much) she’ll have to buy a size 16.  Ugh!  I would rather wear the 14 if given the choice!

Men’s clothing is more standardized.  A 32″ waist means the waist measures 32″ around.  There’s not a lot a room to maneuver here.

Unless they just…lie.

Esquire Magazine’s “The Style Blog” published an article by Adam Sauer yesterday about vanity sizing – or “down-waisting” – of men’s clothing.  On a recent shopping trip he carried along a tailor’s measuring tape and got the skinny (yes! pun-ilicious) on some big (ooops, I did it again! mwah ha ha!) names:

Sorry guys.

Due giorni fino a Italia!

July 16, 2010

Last night was a crazy game of pinball through Minneapolis and the south metro as we shopped for last minute trip items.  You’re welcome for our support of the economy yesterday.

Park Nicollet Clinic – Pick up new contacts, allergy meds.

Opitz Clothing Outlet – I have passed by this St. Louis Park store many times.  They always have “Everything under $10” racks out front and I thought maybe I could get some cheap digs for Italy.  This store was a nightmare.   The clearance racks out front were picked over, and the sales stopped when I walked in the door.  Inside was crowded with noisy people and rows of clothing racks that had been placed too close together.  I felt like I was in a second-hand store, but everything was EXPENSIVE!  $40 for a pair of jeans?  $60 for that blouse???  Seriously, it was like an overpriced Salvation Army – lousy selection for outrageous prices. 

Apple Store – I want a USB power converter so I can charge my iPod without a computer in Italy.  Ain’t paying $30 for it though.  Forget that. 

Wells Fargo – Authorize credit cards for spending in Europe, find out about international card usage fees (3% for POS and $5 to take money out from an ATM!!!! – We’re considering our alternatives). 

Walgreen’s – Look for a “good” neck pillow for the 10-hour plane ride for the Hubby.  No luck.

First Tech – (non-Mac Mac store) Look at other options for iPod charger.  They had a cruddy-looking off-market charger for $20, but we couldn’t find voltage/watt/amp capabilities on the cord so we decided not to get it. 

AAA – Found the Hubby’s neck pillow, silk under-clothes wallets, electrical outlet adapters for continental Europe.

REI – Look for classy walking sandals.  We found nothing that we liked under $70…boo!

Best Buy – Last chance look for a USB power converter.  No dice.  The cheapest one we found was $25.  We’ll charge up at internet cafes if we have to.

Famous Footwear – Look for classy walking sandals.  We found nothing…booo!

Herbergers – Still no classy walking sandals that were cute, comfortable and affordable…booo!  But, the Hubby did find a couple of very lightweight button-up shirts for the trip.

Target – No cute dresses for me…boo!!!  Hubby found another shirt and a pair of super light “golf” pants. 

Taco Bell for a disappointingly late “dinner” – blech. 

The evening ended with a solemn vow to never go shopping again and us collapsing from exhaustion.