Category Archives: shopping

all in favor, say “aye”

Because I’d prefer you not raise your hand if it’s creepy like this:

In all seriousness, though, this would be a great conversation piece and accent in pretty much any bathroom. Especially when you keep them all together like that, a sort of multiracial nursery… without the rest of the baby parts. Now that I put it that way, I’m back to the creepy verdict. [available on Etsy]

It’s almost May 1, which for Memphis means the Beale Street Music Festival downtown. The All-American Rejects, Steve Miller Band, Katy Perry, Al Green, Shinedown, Elvis Costello, James Taylor, Fall Out Boy, et al. Apparently several of the larger acts will be splitting their weekend between Memphis and Birmingham’s 2009 Schaeffer Eye Center Crawfish Boil (holy crap, that took me forever to find on Google—no combination of “alabama,” “birmingham,” “music” and “festival” took me to the right place). I missed all the Memphis in May malarkey last year by starting my new job on June 1, so this is my chance to hit the pavement and the parks and experience my (sort of) new city. Will I do it? Is it worth $30/day or $64/3 days (if I order by this evening)? Will it be significantly less enjoyable alone?

I think I may go attempt to use my 25%-off savings at Macy’s tonight to see how much money I have left for a weekend concert treat.

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who owns my soul?

Seriously, the Discover Card rocks. My blog isn’t popular enough for me to officially endorse Discover, but lemme tell ya, it’s the only credit card I use for a reason. Well, several reasons, actually.

  1. Sweet card designs (I have a sea turtle)
  2. Cashback Bonus (one year, I didn’t buy a single Christmas present)
  3. A fake-card-number generator to be used with sketchy online retailers (still works like your regular number, but you don’t risk your real digits getting leaked out there)
  4. Nifty online tools for financial analysis (see below)

One of Discover’s newest online tools is called the Spend Analyzer, which is a slick interactive interface that breaks down your spending habits. It not only shows you (via colorful pie charts) in what area you’re spending the most money, but also to which merchants, across how many transactions, for how much total, etc. You can break it down a dozen different ways, which is perfect for a head case/miser like me!

So, who owns my soul thus far in 2009? I thought I’d share with you the resulting pie charts for Restaurants and Merchandise/Retail through this date in April. Enjoy!

Restaurants

Restaurants

Merchandise/Retail

Merchandise/Retail

I must say, that second graph made me laugh out loud. Having Wal-Mart, Trinity Wines & Liquor and Publishers Clearing House in the same chart makes me sound like I’ve definitely fallen into the true southern circuit. Of course, it appears most of my soul has been sold to Eddie Bauer, though the one shortcoming of the Spend Analyzer is its failure to recognize Emily Syndrome: Buying and then returning at least 50% of everything. So $189 worth of unnecessary casual garb has been returned to the Collierville EB, but Discover still holds that initial $413 over my head.

At least I gave Circuit City one last $7 gasp of air when I purchased the “Constantine” DVD amidst the skeletons of barren shelving stripped of its once glowing, blinking and shrink-wrapped denizens. In fact, “Constantine” is still shrink wrapped, come to think of it. I should watch that sometime… I can’t take it back, after all! =)

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another reason I love my job

It is Friday morning. I just finished a caramel macchiato in a plain Styrofoam cup with my name and “Car M” written on it in red Sharpie. This delicious concoction did not come from Starbucks. It came from StarDUCKS. This morning was Starducks Café and Merchandise Sale. I walked down to the big conference room to peruse the various kitchen gadgets, spices and sauces; camo hunting gear and delicious pastries and caffeinated beverages available for purchase. The proceeds, of course, went to DU and wetlands conservation.

I got to smile and chat with my coworkers, see the bigwigs from HR sitting around laughing over lattes. Some people get to see that every day at their offices, but it’s rarer when everyone’s so stressed and spent and focused on making money, keeping things afloat. It’s nice to kick back and enjoy each other’s company every now and again. I’m thankful this morning for that opportunity, for the people I work with, even the ones I’ve yet to meet.

Also, I bought a big knife for $5. Rock on.

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uh, scratch that

I returned to the gym tonight, which means my first workout in a month AND my first weigh-in in the same month. Appears I was wrong about the not-losing-weight thing. My apologies to any and all coworkers who read this blog (none) who were offended by my incredulity at their suggestions that I was skinnier. Apparently I lost ~7-10 lbs. over the past month. Now, granted, most of that is muscle mass. But I now weigh 186, a number I haven’t seen—well, ever, because I didn’t weigh myself when I was in the fifth grade. Seriously, though, it’s astonishing.

As I’ve written here before, numbers don’t mean a lot. I know I’m less healthy because I haven’t been getting my heart pumping on a regular basis. But I also see this as a bit of an opportunity, a chance to stay slim instead of beefing up, as I seemed to have been doing in the past. I’m going to do what I was told before and stick to the low-weight/lots-of-reps circuit, and focus mostly on cardio, something I did before anyway.

For my triumphant return, I went easy on myself with a 47-minute stint on the elliptical, 6.33 miles, 555 calories burned.^ It felt really good to be back there, though, even if it hurt a little. I made a half-assed effort at jogging around the lake at work yesterday, so my hamstrings were still a little sore from not stretching thoroughly for that. I laugh when I think how I was sweating and had to slow to a walk after two minutes of running, whereas I can keep up a decent pace on the elliptical for five times that long. Just goes to show exactly how much mass I’m carrying around and how incapable I am of heaving it in one direction with any speed without the aid of machinery.

And now I’m going to tell you about my trip to the grocery store, because blogosphere? I missed you. I missed your embrace of the mundane details of my day-to-day life. Plus? I bought one of those giant sandwiches from the supermarket deli (which I failed to photograph—sorry) which always have looked a bit sketchy but really aren’t bad at all. $5.99 for roast beef, cheese, lettuce and bread (I’m not a condiment kinda gal anyway) on a massive scale. I also found another four bags of BBQ-flavored Quakes rice snacks, which, my friends, are DELICIOUS. If you can find them on sale for 99 cents, buy them. All of them. And then mail some to me. In the end, I spent $22 for the following: big-ass sandwich, 4 grab-size bags of Quakes, 2 half-gallons of skim milk (which were on sale for 65 cents, but why? April 4 expiration? I hope I don’t die.) 2 big bottles of Bolthouse Farms juice (Green Goodness & Berry … something) and a 3-lb. bag of navel oranges. Mmm, mmm! I feel like that was a successful shopping trip. And that sandwich? It will last me the rest of the week.

Just another lesson from the cheapskate midwesterner who found herself in the overpriced Mid-South. Write it down, kids!

^I don’t believe the machine. You shouldn’t either.

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quick notes on Craigslist

I’m wondering something… Who should bear the burden on Craigslist? Does it depend on the desperation of the parties involved? Say someone is selling a TV – should it be the seller or the buyer who drives a half-hour across town to complete the transaction? Does it depend whether the seller is hoping to make a last-minute buck before moving? Or whether the buyer just had their TV die the day before movie night? It seems to me, if I’m a buyer with $75 in hand for what will more than likely be a too-small, too-old tube television set, I think it’s only fair that the seller bring it to me. I don’t expect him to set it up and sync it with my universal remote, but it would be nice if I didn’t have to navigate the crime-ridden streets of Memphis to procure it.

And don’t get me started on “re-homing fees” for pets on Craigslist. Seriously, people, you’re asking someone out there to take an animal off your hands (one that you adopted, found on the street or were given as a gift that YOU CAN’T KEEP). Why should the person on the other end, who’s going to be responsible for picking up the animal, feeding it, taking it to the vet and cleaning up after it for the next 8-20 years have to pay a fee? You are not (in most cases) an animal shelter or other party that has footed the bill for shots and spaying/neutering the animal. Why on earth should I give you $100?

All in all, I like Craigslist. There are just a few ridiculous goings-on associated with it…

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pioneers, head colds, ’80s garb & mortgages

The ridiculously high winds very early yesterday morning knocked out our power for the entirety of Sunday. As a result, my mom and I relocated to my brother & SIL’s house to avoid freezing solid in ours. Upside: An entire afternoon of TBS movies & a “CSI” marathon on Spike. Downside: Having to share a double bed with my mom. Ugh! I do not like sharing beds, especially anything smaller than a queen, especially with anything larger than a dog. =P I like my space, what can I say? I awoke this morning with about 2 hours of sleep under my belt. It didn’t help that my stuffy nose forced increased mouth-breathing, which resulted in intensified throat pain. Anyway, the other upside was getting to share coffee and toaster waffles with my bro & SIL this morning before heading back to our reheated home.

This afternoon, I helped my mom go through one of her FOUR closets packed full of no-longer-worn suits with shoulder pads, matching shirt-and-short sets of bold patterns, vests with Looney Tunes characters, oversized sweatshirts and denim overall shorts… Wow. I did walk away with some new pajama pants to replace the 2Xers, a couple pairs of sweatpants, a vintage flannel shirt my mom sewed that matched ones she made for my siblings and dad (how cool, right??) and this ridiculous purple satin top that’s supposed to be worn under a suit jacket. I’m determined to wear that last one as a regular shirt to go out in. It makes me laugh. I should take a picture. Something hot for my online dating profile… =P

Speaking of, I have my makeup speed-dating session in mid-January. Hopefully I won’t forget about it… I also have a potential church-singles-group weekend roadtrip to Gatlinburg. A couple things to look forward to in the new year!

Tomorrow I’m hoping to feel healthy enough to get back to the gym and then help my mom tote her four boxes and six bags of clothing donations to Salvation Army. Have to try to get those vessels back so we can tackle the other three closets and my Rubbermaid containers in the basement… I feel nervous about casting off clothing that’s borderline (I have to assume it is, since I’ve gone through it for donations at least once already in the relatively recent past), but I have to hope I won’t regain the weight or the inches. I have to motivate myself not to by leaving myself no ugly, frumpy options to hide unsightly bulges. And reward myself with the occasional over-the-top Eddie Bauer and Payless spree. =)

My mom went to the library today and picked up a few home-buying books for me. So far, I’m finding Nolo’s Essential Guide to Buying Your First Home to be the most interesting. It came with a CD-rom with some forms and checklists, but I haven’t gotten into those too much yet. Still browsing online for some potential places to check out when I’m back in Memphis. I’m definitely not ready to buy yet – need to save at least another $5k first, I think – but I do want to see what’s out there and try to figure out what the most important things are for me. Is location paramount? Safety? Size? Neighborhood? Proximity to stuff? Commute to work (route or distance)? Eh? EH?? Meh. I still don’t know. I’d say location tends to rank highest when I’m browsing. I’ve been using oodle of late, specifically the “map” option. The closer to the office, the better. Not only because it’s most convenient, but also because that implies increased safety, quality of neighbors, etc. I know I’ll never score anything that’s totally secure or perfect, but it feels better to aim high. Especially if I’m mulling over a $100k purchase.

All right, it’s time to crash. Happy Dec. 29th, all! =)

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got my mind on my money

Thinking about housing options gives me hives. I haven’t a clue what to do. Mostly because I’m fairly naive about what I’m getting myself into. My siblings are squeamish about purchasing things after too many bad experiences themselves, but they suggest going for a condo as a first step before home buying. Fine, fine – but Memphis is not exactly rife with condos! I’ve found at least one questionably shabby community near work, as well as some more decent ones a bit farther away. Of course, downtown has plenty, but a 45-minute commute does not sound appealing in the least. Now, the ones in midtown totally made me think of Jenny, Chris and Keith’s living arrangements in the Globe, since it’s a refurbed factory building. There’s one in Memphis that used to be a pie factory and is now ultra-mod condos at fairly cheap prices. However, according to locals, it’s “a little too close to Orange Mound,” one of the most-talked-about scummy areas in the city. So even though it’s also a stone’s throw from the tiny pocket of Ann-Arbor-style living that is the Cooper-Young intersection (they have a street fest each summer that’s like the A2 art fair, as well as little community markets and other higher-end hipster fare), apparently it doesn’t come highly recommended. Back to the drawing board, I guess.

Also, even though this is a real person’s job and I’m making a real person’s salary, I don’t feel as though my savings account is growing much. Not enough to say, “Hey, I can put down 20% on this three-bedroom house!” anyway. =P I don’t see that ever happening, but maybe if I continue to live like a miserly old grandmother another few years…

In other money-related news, my mom and I are going to Eddie Bauer in the morning to browse. They’re having decent sales at the moment and I have $75 worth of gift cards ready to go. I’ll probably end up ordering online, just because the selection will be better, but I have to find out what size I am according to EB first. It could be anything at this point – I definitely can’t use Old Navy or New York & Co. as reference points…

Books & movies: I finished Dean Koontz’s The Darkest Evening of the Year the other day. Most disturbing book I’ve read in a long while. I’m still willing to try out his Odd Thomas series, but I’m not getting my hopes up… My mom and I watched “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2” recently. I know – not particularly adult, but what can I say? It’s easier to watch cutesy movies when you’re dealing with heartache, I guess.

And Christmas? Well, it was. It happened. It’s over now. I guess “Good riddance” is a fitting send-off. =\ It was about as difficult as expected – maybe a little worse – and probably could’ve been skipped by most of us without too many regrets.

Have I mentioned I’m getting sick? I have a sore throat, which, like last time I thought I was getting sick, doesn’t seem to be migrating anywhere else yet. I’d like it to either spread like wildfire or go away completely, just so it doesn’t linger on and then worsen, like, the day before I have to drive back to Tennessee. My nose sometimes feels like it might be getting drippy, but nothing comes. The worst is when I first wake up, since I’m a mouth breather, but once the soreness subsides after a couple hours, it doesn’t seem too bad. *shrug* I don’t know what’s going on with me.

Oh! OH! I forgot! Even though it doesn’t matter and it really means nothing – I finally got below 200 pounds! It’s probably the first time since at least the beginning of high school, if not earlier. Of course, I don’t know how accurate the scale at the gym is, but I like to think it’s more so than a crappy bathroom scale with a low battery. =P Anyway, it claimed that I was hovering between 198 and 199 today! It’s a small victory, I know, but I still reveled in it briefly. I haven’t seen a “1” in that first slot for way too long… Also, my dad told me last night that I was “skinny.” I had to laugh at that. I tried not to guffaw, because me? I’m never going to be skinny. I’ve got linebacker shoulders, a barrel chest and skin on my stomach that no longer remembers how to retract after too many years of multiple gut rolls. Also, cottage-cheese thighs and ass. Yes, ladies, you can look 45 at 24 – I’m living proof! =) But I’m learning to be OK with that. Especially since those aren’t the worst things in my arsenal.

Anyway, hooray! I’m excited to window shop tomorrow, exercise some more and have dinner with Tod’s fam. Then go up north on Sunday. Then clean out my mom’s closet, donate stuff to charity, maybe go through some of my own stuff and see people one last time before I return to the south! Hope you all had a Merry Christmas.

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