1

Garbage Fashion

Some people describe others as the type that could “throw on a trash bag and look like a million dollars.” While I don’t look like a million dollars, that first part is kind of accurate to my recent experience. Let me explain further…

Last week, I took a friend out shopping. We went to H&M, where they were having some sort of crazy Thanksgiving/Christmas/Boxing Day sale. Originally, I was just going to be the ride, but I saw a black coat in my size that looked super warm and comfy, and it was $50 as opposed to its retail price of $80. So I bought it, and dropped another $10 on a matching black and white scarf and two pairs of gloves. When we got home, I realized I didn’t have a hat to wear with it…

Rewind to last month.

I’m walking down the street, and decide, today is the day I’m going to pick up some trash (if it doesn’t look wet, moldy, or gross) and throw it away. I start with some napkins and a scrap of paper, and then, what do I see on the sidewalk in front of me?

A brand-new black winter hat with fleece lining.

I look around for a minute, then shrug my shoulders and pick it up. I shake it, and nothing flies or crawls out, so I guess it’s finders keepers. I throw it into the back of my car and head off.

Fast forward back to the shopping trip. I drop off my friend and head home. As I park my car, I open the back and wonder where that black hat went. Fortunately, it’s still there, in perfect condition, and it matches the new coat/scarf perfectly. It makes my head look oblong if I don’t pull it down enough, but that’s the same with most winter hats.

And that’s how I essentially bought an entire winter ensemble from H&M to go with some garbage I picked up on the street.

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4

Shopping and Snacking

Raise your hand if you snack when you shop.

Anyone? Everyone?

I’ve heard talk of eating a meal before you shop to sate your hunger and control your impulse to buy snacks while shopping, but honestly…it’s not worth it. Just get the snack. Don’t make it too unhealthy, but get the snack or else you’ll regret it. Today, I went to 2 grocery stores, a bookstore, and Walgreens. At the first grocery store, I saw a box of tomato basil crackers on the clearance shelf. Nothing wrong with them, so I bought them and enjoyed them. At the next grocery store, I bought a black cherry soda, and I actually forgot about it, so I had a nice treat when I got home. It will make you happier and feel more like an adult. And look at it this way: the more you shop, the more calories you burn.

Does not apply to shopping online.

16

When The Going Gets Tough, Go Shopping for Used Stuff

I’m telling you, it works every time.

If you’re tired of reading about gun control, homophobia, or anything political, this post is for you.

It has been a busy few days for me, and a good deal of my time has been spent in used stuff stores – not the Columbus Antique Mall, but three out of the six St. Vincent de Paul thrift shops in town (Dig-N-Save, Willy Street, Odana; might go to the Stoughton one later this week). What I found, though, was some really great crap for sale. Here’s some of what I saw.

  • A Berta Hummel-themed glass service set. Because the world just needs more Berta Hummel. Or something like that.
  • An antique baby carriage. My first thought? You could plant some flowers in it.
  • A hobby horse. Who wouldn’t love a conversation piece like that?
  • A set of four floral drinking glasses. Upon further examination, they were actually just weirdly shaped candle holders, I think.
  • A wooden tiki mask with a crooked smile. Nightmare fuel, pure and unleaded.
  • A coffee mug from the Luxor Casino in Las Vegas saying “Kathy” on it. It would be very interesting to have a set of coffee mugs from different places with random peoples’ names on them. I already have my Las Vegas “Bernie” cup, which I wrote a post about awhile back when I found it, but I already have a cabinet full of coffee mugs and don’t need one more.

And the piece de resistance…

  • A teddy bear stuck inside a lemon costume. I just couldn’t walk by it without smiling or laughing, so guess who’s now sitting with all his cousins on my windowsill.

Oh, and yay for my 35,000th new flag visitor, from Papua New Guinea. Here’s to 35,000 more!

5

Antique Mall Haul

I don’t know if this should be another episode of Wonderful, Wonderful, Wisconsin, but today I woke up and thought, I want to go antiquing today.

So antiquing I went.

And when you’re in Wisconsin, and you want to go all-out for antiquing, you go to Columbus Antique Mall in Columbus, Wisconsin, about 40 minutes north of Madison, straddling Columbia and Dodge Counties. I think the actual mall is on the Dodge County side. Anyway, it’s five stories of great crap, from thumbed-through paperbacks to rocking chairs, plates with birds to TV trays advertising Coca-Cola. You never know what you’re going to find there.

Today, among my walks through the aisles, I picked up three items of note:

1. Erin, the green Beanie Baby bear. I remember when Erin and Princess came out, and the entire Beanie Baby world (myself included) collectively went nuts. Since then, I’ve managed to acquire a Princess in my collection of Beanie Baby bears, and spotted an Erin (actually, several) on the shelf, marked $2.50. If I could only travel back in time and sell it in 1996…

2. A black-and-white photograph. I always keep an eye out for interesting looking pictures, and I found one today. On one side is a couple, with the woman seated and the man standing behind her. On the right, another man and woman, holding a baby, only they are a little blurrier and lighter, almost light ghosts.

3. A new outfit! On the very last clothing rack, there was a black jacket-pants combo, men’s medium-large, cotton, from China. The sleeves in the jacket were a little big, but the frog buttons are awesome, and the pants fit perfectly, which I found out after I bought them.

A successful day.

4

Coupon Theatre

Who says you can’t see an immersive piece of theatre at Target?

Last night, I was there buying colored pencils, chocolate, and a fancy hat, and got in line behind a young woman with an impressive coupon binder in her cart. As she was organizing her coupons, we were chatting; she was a lovely, but tired, stay-at-home mom, and clearly very methodical.

She finished her transaction and gave the cashier the coupons, and he called over two managers to help out. Obviously, they did not understand how coupons work.

  1. “You can only use one BOGO coupon on these feminine products.” BOGO, limit 2 coupons per customer = you can get 4 items, 2 of which will be free. She had 2 coupons, and 4 items. Simple math.
  2. A second coupon rang up 4 bottles of kids’ shampoo at 4 cents each (nice work!) and the manager said, “um, no, that can’t be correct, why would we do that?” Um, you didn’t do that; this lady managed to combine coupons so well that it comes out to 4 cents.
  3. A third coupon was refused because “it expired today.” Hold the phone, Joe. Expiration date means that you can use it that day. Kind of rubbing salt in the wound.

On top of it, the managers were kind of jerks about it to the lady, who was being assertive, but not loud or abrasive. As she was writing their names down to call corporate, I whispered to her that she was absolutely correct, and to come back tomorrow morning and try again with a different manager. We exchanged a smile before she left, defeated. She had clearly calculated everything down to the penny, and was not trying to stack or cheat the system, just being a conscious shopper. Maybe the first two were legit, but with the third one, the managers were just rubbing salt into the wound. Some couponers are greedy, but the majority are a) really in need and doing the best they can for their families or b) like to save a little money here or there to save up for other things. I enjoy using coupons, but I’m grateful that I do not have to rely on them for a living, and as a result, deal with clueless managers who think that you’re stealing crappy shampoo from their chain store.

16

Electronics: Always Retail, Never Resale

One of the great things about my new car is that finally, finally, I can play music from my iPhone through the sound system.

When I got my previous car, I was hoping to have that capability, but nope, didn’t happen. I even had my friend Rahul, who knows cars, read my manual for me and he confirmed that I couldn’t. Therefore, one of my reasons for the trade-in was so that I could join the 21st century and stop having to hope that people wouldn’t be annoyed by the slight background music.

My new car has an iPod button on the radio, and it even came with a cord…but of course, it’s a 30-pin cord and I have a Lightning.

I have officially cemented myself as a First World citizen.

So, I needed an adapter. I looked online and there was some company selling them for 99 cents, but I decided to go to Best Buy and pay whatever they were offering, which happened to be 30 dollars for the Apple adapter. Needless to say, I probably got cheated, but a) I wanted to have it now, rather than order it and risk it arriving here after I leave next week, and b) electronics tend to be better at retail value, for some reason. At least for me.

There are certain things that are great to buy used or from discount stores/off-brands, to save money. Books? Absolutely. Clothes? Yes, even though my mom disapproves, yet my favorite pair of jeans (RIP) came super cheap from a resale shop. Furniture? Almost always. I have had exactly two items from IKEA that have lasted my last three moves: my night stand (which was wobbly from the get go) and my TV stand (which is not bad, but getting old-looking). All other IKEA things into which I have sunk good money have fallen apart (whoops, almost typed asleep) after one move. Yet, my ancient coffee table has moved from Maryland to Texas to Wisconsin to storage to current apartment with barely any scratches, other than the ones made from the vacuum cleaner, darn edges.

But for quality electronics? I pay retail. If it will work as it’s supposed to forever or at least for a reasonable amount of time, I will give you a blank check. I’ve gone through about 594270 pairs of dollar-store headphones, so many cheapo batteries, and several car chargers, two of the “ISound” brand that looks like it comes from Apple but it does not. Seriously, one stiff gust of wind coming through my car’s window and whoosh, right out of the cigarette lighter.

So $30 Lightning adapter, I hope you’re in it for the long haul, because I don’t want to be wrong, because that is not a world in which I want to raise my future children.

Oh, and when I got home, my mom announced that she had a Best Buy coupon in her purse.

Of course.

6

Let’s Take the Limo to Target

So, quick life update: even through all my slacking, I managed to get my final paper of the semester finished and turned in at about a quarter before midnight last night. It seemed that the more I wanted to focus, the more things distracted me. And when I was actually focused, I got a call, a text, or there was a Hanukkah party. Oh, and happy Hanukkah, everyone.

But I got it done, and to reward myself, I slept in today (well…I’ve kind of been sleeping in every day since classes ended, but today I actually had no need to get out of bed) and didn’t leave the apartment until about 5 PM, at which point I went to Kohl’s to get my reward for surviving another semester and managing to get some good grades: a Keurig. The coffee maker I have is okay – it works well and it’s survived 3 moves between 2 states, but I just kinda wanted a Keurig because they’re cool and would probably prevent me from going out for coffee as much as I do, which is still not very much but I could always do less of that. Kohl’s had a Keurig Mini on sale for $99, and with coupons, Kohl’s membership, and other fun things, I managed to get that plus an extra starter pack of K-cups for a grand total of $67.46. Not ideal, but still not too bad.

After I got a bite to eat, I was on my way home and suddenly had a desire for panettone. You know, the crusty, delicious Italian fruitcake that is actually for Christmas but I have adopted it as my Hanukkah go-to food. So I go to Metcalfes, and I buy some grapes and some bread, but after perusing the store thoroughly, there is no panettone to be found.

As I sadly exit the store in defeat, get in my car, and drive away, I see in front what appears to be a gigantic black limo just cruising past the store, towards Target.

Now, who in their right mind would take a limo to Target?

First of all, the only time I’ve been in a limo involved either a funeral or an airport. It was pretty late in the day for a funeral, but could you imagine?

“Yeah, we have to get to the cemetery for Aunt Sue’s service, but it looks like it might rain and it’s graveside, so let’s hit up Target on the way and get an umbrella, and maybe some gloves.”

“Oh, and it’ll probably take forever, so let’s get some snacks…Doritos, anyone? Cool Ranch? Or maybe something quieter, like fruit snacks?”

“Oh, and we need gum, too. Definitely gum.”

“I know Aunt Sue’s dead and all, but since we’re going to Target anyway, do you think it would be okay if I picked up a Tide pen and a new iPad case? I’ve needed those for awhile.”

“Yeah, oh, and some body wash, since it’s on sale this week.”

Second, if you had your choice of cars, why would you choose the limo to go to Target? “Oh, let’s take the limo to Target. Neat idea.” Who are you trying to impress? You’re going to Target, not Neiman Marcus. Are you buying that much stuff? I know that most Targets have huge parking lots, but if it’s crowded, where are you going to put that thing? Or are you going to have your driver just circle around for awhile? And if you do park, you’re quite likely to get dinged by a rogue shopping cart…let’s face it, a limo’s a pretty big disaster target.

Hey…Dumb Starbucks, meet Disaster Target.

I like it.

In other news, Whole Foods had panettone tonight. It was just okay.