weekend pickthrough- utter randomness edition

15 01 2010

the most hilarious spelling lesson ever.

holy shit that’s a lot of hamburger helper.

time magazine chooses their 25 favorite blogs of 2009. nary a coupon blog- but they did include lifehacker, zen habits, and freakonomics– all of which regularly have good things to say about frugality, and figuring out how to live in a world with less money than ever.

gorgeous daily doses of my hometown.

on the subject of buying coupons.

they make it seem exclusive by making you apply to join. but if, like me,  you want access to 70% off BCBG, then you’ll do it.

looking for your grocery store in an endless sea of frugal blogs? coupon geek figured it out.

someone who actually enjoys the nielsen homescan program! (they’re accepting applications btw… should i do it?)

not that i ever win, but i love instant wins. (and this one spins)

a little round table discussion.

13 01 2010

so after my little fashion meltdown yesterday, the very lovely julie hooked me up with a totally amazing online shopping website that i’d never heard of before (i thought i’d heard of everything!). it’s called ruche, and it has an anthropologie-ish feel, while being remarkably cheaper. anyway, it set me to wondering what other awesome shopping websites are there out there that i don’t know about.  that’s where you come in. i thought it would be cool to make list to put up in my list factory section of all the best places we can think of to get nice looking clothes for not too much money. the rules are as follows:

1. no skankwear!

2. sitewide prices should on average be no higher than $100 for a dress or coat.

3. lesser known websites please! (everybody already knows about target)

just to get you started, here are a few of my favorites:


fred flare




now GO! GO! GO!

bad habits.

28 12 2009

i am an avid reader. 1001 books to read before you die avid. books are beautiful,  cheap (i rarely pay more than $2 a book- but you can even get them for free here), always an adventure… i even love the smell. as a result of my bibliophilia i’m usually reading at least 2 at any given time (right now i’m reading a vintage nancy drew- “the double jinx mystery”, and “the woman in white” by wilkie collins), but every now and again, a girl gets a hankering for a magazine. a bright, glossy, advertising laden, throw away magazine. yum.

usually this desire overwhelms me at the grocery checkout. it’s roughly the same process as convincing myself that i need a candybar:

bad allie: oooh celebrity cellulite!

good allie: it’s $4, and you can read about it on the internet.

bad allie: but what about marie osmond’s diet tips?

good allie: east less, exercise more- that’s all you need to know.

bad allie: shut the hell up, i’ve had a rough day. *tosses magazine into cart*

only to get the magazine home, spend about 30 minutes gorging myself, and then toss it into the recycle bin. two $4 magazines a month- and i’m down $100 for the year. damn! the answer to this painful affliction is simple: SUBSCRIPTIONS!

magazines don’t make their money off the cover price, they make it from their advertisers- which is exactly why subscriptions to most magazines are so cheap. every january, i subscribe to at least two magazines so that i am less tempted to toss the glossy rags into my cart on my way through the express lane.  sure, i occasionally fall of the wagon- but absolutely less than $100 worth. this year’s selections: readymade (most adorable artsy-craftsy magazine ever) & nylon (pretentious urban hipster bullshit- but so pretty!)

amazon.com almost always rocks my socks off with their subscription deals, but they are currently running a hot promotion where you can get and additional $5 off a whole bunch of different mags from playboy to mental floss. i got $3 off of nylon, and $5 off of readymade, making the grand total for both around $14 (which definitely leaves a little wiggle room for the occasional check-out line indescretion).

some other sexy deals:

1 year of vegetarian times for $7

1 year of dwell for $15.95

2 years of all you for $15

2 years of complex for $5

2 years of harpers bazaar for $10

oh, and a whole bunch of fucking cat magazines for people who probably don’t enjoy my blog.

picking up the pieces.

26 12 2009

ah, the post xmas hangover. i slept for 12 hours after a full 24 hours of merriment. hey, putting a convincing “i love it” face on (even when it’s clearly a crocheted sweater vest that smells like an ashtray) is exceptionally taxing. that said, xmas overall was mostly a success:

– everyone seemed to like their presents

– save for the aforementioned sweater vest, i got pretty good stuff (the boyfriend got me THE BAG that i’ve been dancing around for over a year now)

– i got a chance to do some cooking (my first fruit salad, and two ugly but delicious quiches)

– i watched 3 of my favorite xmas movies in a row while eating candy (elf, scrooged, & love actually)

– the boyfriend and i got cocoa and checked out the local xmas light displays (city of portland- A+ as usual. residents of portland D at best- weak!)

– and of course (first and foremost really)- i got to spend some pretty fun quality time with my my family (both in person and via telephone).

in short, it was good. but now what? cut off by tradition from consumer consumption for a full 24 hours- now that i’ve awaken from my holiday coma, what do i do?  um, clearly the answer is- I SHOP!

post holiday sales are just warming up, and it’s time to get back into the world for a first taste. as far as things like clothes, electronics, whatever… i generally like to wait until the “prices are still high because people are using their gift cards” period is over. however, i am one of those crazies who stocks up on discount wrapping paper. seriously, i can’t remember the last time i paid retail for xmas paper. if it’s not at least 50% off- then i don’t want it.  also on my list is stocking up on cheap cheap morningstar farms goods at target. they have a printable $2/2 right now AND i still have about 12 of those $.75/1s from the great tearpad incident of 2009. that shit’s expensive, so i’m going house.

other than that, i’ll probably stop by old navy. their wrapping paper is always pretty good, and i heard tell this morning via email that they’re having a $15 jeans sale, and i can get behind that.  i also plan on doing some internet shopping tonight, and picking up some sweet modern ornaments at cb2 and urban outfitters (bummer that the alessi nativity scene that i covet never goes on sale!)…. other than that, i’ll see where the day takes me. details to follow.

to sir with love.

11 12 2009

riddle me this: we trust our teachers with the education and well-being of our children for the majority of their day, every day. we know that educators are hugely influential in the growth and development of our children. we know that teachers are undercompensated and overworked. we know that education is a labor of love, and that a really amazing teacher can positively change our children’s lives… in short, teachers are totally awesome- so why do we think that a $5 tchotchke  from the christmas tree shop is an appropriate way to show our thanks?

i don’t actually have any kids, but i do have a number of friends who are teachers, and i’ve seen some pretty amazingly awful things get toted home dutifully in brightly colored gift bags. seriously people, COOL IT WITH THE APPLE STUFF! (or anything that says #1 teacher or has a school bus on it for that matter).

i found this incredible article, where 2500 teachers were polled about what makes a good teacher gift, and i was a little surprising.  here is what i learned:

1. the best gifts are personal, it doesn’t even have to cost money. teachers aren’t expecting fancy swag, but they do like to know that they are recognized and appreciated. a home made card and heartfelt sentiment from you and/or your child (preferably both) will win hands down over a bargain bin sno-globe any day. however, if you can wrap your sentiment around a nice gift… well then, all the better.

2. gift cards/certificates! chances are you don’t know where your teacher likes to shop, or what he/she does on her free time- so generic bank gift cards, target, starbucks, or mall gift cards are pretty safe. a gift certificate to a  local day spa or nice local restaurant* is also appropriate. *NOTE* this does not mean APPLEBEES, it means locally owned, a little on the upscale side, and with incredible food (my beloved caiola’s would be a perfect choice). also, the amount should be enough for a full meal. for gift cards in general, if you can’t afford to give a reasonable amount- then don’t go this route. just stick with the nice card option as detailed above.

3. stuff! so you want to give a concrete “little something”, that’s fine. just stay away from the apple/teacher oriented garbage (because that is where it will inevitably wind up), and try to get something that is attractive, useful, and of good quality. a few ideas that won’t descimate your budget:

a really nice (and possibly eco-friendly) travel mug.

– an adorable novelty flash drive.

– a set of beautiful stationery or blank cards (i’m talking letter-press here not hallmark gold crown).

– a nice and sturdy reusable bag (teachers always have so much to carry!).

– or, take up a collection with the other parents, and buy one big ticket item like tickets to a pro sports game, a really kick-ass gift card, or something specifically tailored to suit your favorite teacher.

not earth shatteringly innovative,  but definitely less likely to wind up at the goodwill.

5. pitfalls! along with not buying crap, there are a couple other things to avoid in the world of classy teacher gift giving:

a gift for the classroom is not a gift for the teacher. if you want to gift the classroom with something nice, then do that separately. give the teacher something for him/her. you wouldn’t give your housekeeper windex as a holiday gift (or would you!?).

food is a slippery slope. anything low-fat, low-cal, or diet seems insulting. anything high fat or decadent is just unhealthy (and probably compounded by saturated fat laden food gifts from at least 10 other parents). aim for something in the middle. i think they’re tacky as hell, but those edible arrangements seem popular, or maybe some gorgeous foil wrapped fruit from harry & david? or if you must give sweets, let them be the best sweets available. unless they’re diabetic or allergic to chocolate, godiva is usually a no-fail situation.

at the end of the day, teacher gifts are optional, not required. if you can’t muster up anything genuinely nice or thoughtful to say to/give to your child’s teacher (let’s face it, they’re not all gems), then skip it entirely. chances are, they won’t even notice.

xmas for the cheap and lazy- part 4

8 12 2009

i find it very sad & tragic that as people get older, they often lose their sense of play. take me out back and put me down like old yeller if i ever get tired of legos or playmobil, because TOYS ARE FOR EVERYBODY. admittedly, a busy box probably wouldn’t keep me busy for very long, but there are lots of toys out in the universe that are indeed “fun for the whole family”, as well as some very special toys that are just for grown ups.

a few years ago in japan (why don’t i live in tokyo?!), the boutique toy movement began. fine artists, graffiti artists, fashion designers, magazines… everyone was getting in on the action of creating these (primarily vinyl but also plastic, resin, & plush) action figures that were pop, and twisted, and beautiful, and commercial,  and hilarious… and collectible. and a movement was born.  they are these tiny works of art. usually in limited editions with special “hidden figures” amongst the blind box runs (i recently sold a $6 “hidden figure” dunny on ebay for $60). a nouveau alternative to baseball cards for the artsy set. collect them all! sell them! trade them! line them up and adore their loveliness (that’s usually what i do).

there are a number of stores out in the world that specialize in these guys (kid robot most famously, ningyoushi, my plastic heart, giant robot…), but my very very favorite of all (and where i do about 90% of my ordering) is rotofugi. their selection is outrageously impeccable, and in addition to being a toy store- they are also an art gallery, with a ton of limited edition prints for under $50. why buy a poster when you can buy affordable, beautiful, REAL ART.

true, there are some seriously expensive toys for the hardcore collector ($72 for spongebear up there!), but blind box toys are usually less than $10 a piece, which means kick ass stocking stuffers- or great little surprises for the people in your life that aren’t getting the full-boat xmas present experience.

xmas for the cheap & lazy- part 3

4 12 2009

children are easy, they tell you exactly what they want. you can basically take any “letter to santa” style list straight to the mall and tick off the items one by one by one:

1. star wars legos- check
2. cooking mama cook off for the nintendo ds- check
3. march of the penguins on blu-ray- check
4. bratz- HELL NO!

but you get the idea. kids are unfailingly specific in their demands, and although they may want things that are out of your price range (pony!), or generally out of the question (yes bratz, i’m talking about your trampy hooker asses), they make shopping very very simple (assuming you don’t have to knife anyone for a zhu zhu hamster).

weirdly, as adults  we are trained not to ask for what we want. “oh just get me a card” is the biggest lie we tell every xmas when all we really want to do is yell “star wars legos!” from the top of santa’s lap. thus, buying for adult friends who refuse to tell us what they want is increasingly complicated.

as previously discussed, the classic “i don’t know what to get you” default presents (picture frames, cheap candy, scented candles, olive garden gift cards…) are totally stupid and not to be purchased! lucky for you, amazing online store like three potato four make it easy to give beautiful, creative, and unique gifts- without actually having to think up anything beautiful, creative, or unique on your own.

they have the most gloriously edited and perfectly handpicked mix of vintage and new items from paper goods, to furniture, to vintage toys…  I WANT EVERYTHING! admittedly, it’s a little on the pricey side- but they do have items that fit most price points if you dig around- which you will want to do, because as i already stated: EVERYTHING IS AMAZING. every. single. thing.

**UPDATE** thanks to fabulous commenter cassie, we now know that there is FREE SHIPPING through the end of the weekend at threepotatofour for facebook fans! friend them up, and then enter code: 3P4FBFAN @ checkout to redeem free shipping on domestic orders $50+

xmas for the cheap and lazy- part 2

1 12 2009

so i’ll be continuing to feature my favorite online shopping sites for those of you out there (like me!) who put off their xmas shopping until the very last moment- and then don’t want to leave the house because it’s just too f-ing crazy everywhere.

next up, ferdinand, hands down one of my favorite shops on this little peninsula that i call home. if you can manage to escape and get to their retail store (in the world’s most adorable little strip of stores on 243 Congress), it’s absolutely worth the trip. she has all the stuff she features in her online store, as well as a selection of hot hot vintage and cards and ts from other local artists. online, i recommend the sweet monster onesie for babies in your life who are too cool for gymboree, journals made from giant playing cards, and who doesn’t love a squirrel playing the drums?

really, it’s all gold. also, the woman who owns it (diane!) is one of the coolest people i’ve ever met. plus, almost nothing is over $25.

xmas for the cheap and lazy- part 1

30 11 2009

maybe it’s because my boyfriend is a giant ass dork, but i find myself shopping a lot at threadless. screw newbury comics or hot topic for nerdcore selctions, threadless has designs that are smarter, funnier, better looking… and designed by nice folks like you and me. basically, you design a shirt and submit it to threadless, people (whoever visits the site) vote on the designs, the most popular designs get printed.  bam. also, i think they give you some money for your design. it’s a pretty awesome way to support small-time artists, and get yourself some pretty kick ass shirts in the process. this week, all t’s are $12 (reasonable!), AND there’s free shipping. perfect for gamers, dungeon masters, unicorn lovers, zombie enthusiasts, techies, trekkies, and band geeks (and some other stuff in between). come on- three keyboard cat moon? SHUT UP!