Campaign Crap You Can Use

Midterm elections are coming up, so 'tis the season for negative ads, big/vapid talk, kissing babies on camera, much finger-pointing/yelling and screaming (known in polite circles as debating), and LOTS of campaign literature flooding your mailbox. 99% of the things brought to your door by your friendly neighborhood mail carrier is as useless as the pizza pan-sized Kerry-Edwards button my friend fished out of a Boston hotel trash can a couple of years ago, but for the sake of our planet, please try to make the most out of them. Toss them into the recycle bin, do math on them, use them to catch vegetable or fruit peelings, save them for kindling (you know fossil fuel prices are sure to shoot up again), etc. On rare occassions, you don't need to strain as hard.

I got a bunch of stuff in the mail, most of which will be used as described above. I found one envelop with something soft in it. I saw the envelop and wondered, what the heck? Free gift from someone I don't know. Name sounds vaguely familiar, though...

Hey, Mom said don't take candy from strangers, but this obviously isn't candy, so I opened it. This is what I found inside:

?????! Does. Not. Compute.

So I turned it around.

Oh, I get it. It's a "gift" from the wife, urging me to vote for her husband.

I thought this was a pretty clever campaigning move, but this thought evaporated within 30 seconds. I found a second envelop from the wife of some guy running for the state assembly. Well, now I've got 2 potholders for free. This is just too good. My sister asked if matching oven mitts are coming next.

So what ridiculous yet useful bribe have you received in the mail?


Loopy at Loehmann's

I spent Tuesday afternoon at the Beverly Hills Loehmann's to find gifts for some visiting family members, but I ended up buying gifts for myself (surprise, surprise). I spent $30-something on 2 things:

1) The (in)famous Sigerson Morrison kitten heel flipflops in orange

I can't believe this pair of sandals retails $80 when they're nothing better than glorified flip-flops! Sure, they're cute, but really! I was drawn to them because they are slightly dressier than casual. The color makes them even more unsual. Who cares if they were popular back in '03 but not anymore? I got them because I like them. Finally, the price sealed the deal. The red tag price was $6.97, plus another 20% off, which made them around $5.60. A pair of flipflops from Kmart costs about that much, and not remotely as cute or comfortable (yes, they're surprisingly comfy). I'm no label whore, but it's pretty exciting to get "the original" so cheaply.

Whenever I hit off-priced stores, I still limit myself to the clearance section because high-end items at 70% off are still beyond my reach. It's pretty easy to find great deals in the shoe department because the clearance corner is fairly small. When I went downstairs to the clothing department, I was completely overwhelmed.

I know that a lot of people LOVE Loehmann's because there are so many great deals there, but I felt that the Joy of the Hunt was eclipsed by the stress of shopping there. I could handle Ross, but Loehmann's was a different animal altogether. I've only been there one other time, when I was there to find something very specific. This time, I wasn't sure what I was looking for. At Ross, there was a lot of stuff, but even the full-priced ones are pretty affordable. At Loehmann's, things were pretty expensive if they don't have that little red sticker on them. Ross is fairly small. Loehmann's is huuuuge, and even patient people need lots--and I do mean lots--of time to rifle through all the racks. The sales sections weren't all that organized; I had to do a lot of fishing in the red tag section just to find a single red tag. Furthermore, it doesn't help that parking isn't free and I had to watch the clock constantly. To keep the costs of parking low, it's better to just park at the Beverly Center to get the most bang for your parking buck ($1 for 3 hours). Even then I had to pay an extra dollar for going over the limit by just a few minutes.

With time running low, I was forced to make the search process more efficient. To do that, I had to develop new filtering mechanisms. At first I thought about scanning for red tags only, but the racks were too jam packed and the tags were hidden. So, other filters had to be used as well. I didn't know what exactly I was looking for, but surely suit jackets don't make good gifts. So anything with lapels were out. Anything bright neon was out. Anything with crazy floral prints was out. After setting up these basic filtering mechanisms in my head, I instantly felt better. Although I didn't find anything for my family, I did find something in the Contemporary section for me...

2) Jak & Rae jeans, about $28

I couldn't find a better picture on the web, so this pic will have to do (yes, I'm wearing the crazy kitten heel flip flops). I can understand why the retail is $170, even though I'm unwilling to pay retail. The antiquish wash and distress details are cool, as are the lattice-fence pattern of the fake belt loops. The jeans are also very comfy. The sizing seems to run small. I was a little paranoid about a potential gap in the back because the waistband isn't tight, but the dryer took care of that, along with the tad-too-long length. Love the jeans!

I suppose there is some truth to the expression "you get what you paid for." The Jak & Rae jeans more comfortable than my Ross-bought Express jeans (which aren't even cheap if you buy them at Express, and on top of that they shrink, lose color, get stiff...OK, I'll stop now), and when I got home, my roommate said that she could tell these aren't cheapy jeans. Still, I need to stop making such extravagant purchases. After all, my best-fitting pair of jeans was only $10. I only need a couple pairs of $20-30 pants for special occasions. The cheap stuff are just fine for everyday use.

Are any of you Loehmann's vets willing to share shopping tips? I can sure use some. Comment away =)


Luella Clearance Review

This review is late in coming, but then again this is a clearance-oriented rather than a want-it-now retail blog, so I suppose it's not too late. I went to Target a couple of weeks ago after a long study marathon. Sadly, the puffed-sleeve tee and cherry print skirts I liked were gone. However, I did end up picking up 3 things: the cherry-print coin purse, the cherry-print bikini top, and the puffy zip skirt.

The coin purse was the cheapest thing I bought. Retail was $14.99, but I got it for $3.74.

I have to say that this isn't very practical. It's way too big to serve as a coin purse, yet too small to be a clutch. I managed to fit my cell phone, keys, driver's license and credit card in there. You can also throw in some dollar bills and spare change, but thats about it; my wallet will not fit. Still I think it's really cute, has a bit of room, and much better looking/less unwieldy than the clutch. Hence, I used it as a clutch today:

This picture better illustrates how big the coin purse really is. I think it works OK as a clutch on short errands (like a trip to the market). [Note that I'm also wearing another Target clearance item: the Issac Mizrahi peeptoe suede pumps.] Although the coin purse doesn't have a handle, it does have plenty of tassles. I simply grabbed onto one of them and strolled around. One thing did make me unhappy though: the tassles aren't exactly top quality. The dye job is pretty shoddy. When I first took it home, I noticed that paint got scratched off the "shiny" side on the tassle attached to the zipper. I was a little mad at myself for not catching it at the store, but it's not really noticeable so I didn't stay mad for long. But when I had it on my lap while driving today, a lot of green bits sloughed off from the "dull" side of the tassles. I was able to see the itty bits because I was wearing white pants. At least the green fibers were easy to brush off and doesn't dye anything green. I got what I paid for, but the people who shelled out $16.99 were surely gipped.

The next item up for review is the cherry print bikini top:

Retail was $20; I got it for $5. Price is pretty good for any swimwear in general. I didn't like the cherry print bottoms, but I figured it shouldn't be hard to find something in plain ol' kelly green. I haven't swam in this, so I can't vouch for the quality. The clasp is a bit difficult to work with since you have to insert the plastic hook into the loop from the top, but it takes only a few tries to get it right. Still, I don't go swimming much, so I don't see the need to invest heavily in swimwear. Something cheap but cute and fitting (no, I'm not modelling it) will do.

Saving the best for last, I bring you the zip skirt:

Retail was $30, but I got it for $7.50. I'm really happy with it! I know that some people complain about the fit, but the Luella line is one of the best-fitting Target lines for me. The Issac stuff was always too big. I've always had trouble finding fitting bottoms (oh, woe is the notorious waist gap), but this skirt was perfect. It sits just right on the hips, with the right amount of flair created by a layer of tulle. The ornamental zippers are on the front and the back; I like wearing my skirt with those zippers open. The real utilitarian zipper is on the side. The length is good, too. The skirt is now in the laundry, so if something bad happens during the wash-and-dry process, I'll let you guys know. [Update: skirt label said "dry clean only," but you know what that means to me. It came through the machine wash without a scratch. I decided to air dry, which was probably better than throwing it into the dryer.]

The skirt seems a bit hard to wear, but I see lots of potential. The obvious is the "bad girl" look, as illustrated here. I think I can cook up a sporty version with a hoodie and sneakers. Or mix a sweet little cardigan and mary janes (or pumps) with this bad mutha for a "defiant librarian" look.

What I saw but didn't buy: the squire cropped jacket. If there was any left in kelly green, I would have snapped it up right away. $10 for a jacket is not bad. However, the only ones I saw were black with pink buttons. Black with pink buttons! What hideousness! There were lots of bikinis with the star print on it, which I thought was right for teens, but not for anyone over 20. There were still a few mesh bags left, but since the price was still quite high, I'm not surprised that they were still around.


...and we'll be back after these important messages

Woohoo! It's all over! After days of going to bed when normal people are starting to wake up, after tons of caffeine, loss of coherence, mixing up my 10b-5's with my 14(a)(9)'s, and telling bad legal jokes to entertain myself and fellow self-flagellantes, I'm back to the land of the sane. Unfortunately, lots of things (or problems, depending on how you look at it) have been popping out of the woodwork, so I'm not completely off the hook yet. Hopefully I'll be able to post something more substantive (I just can't get away from legal lingo, can I?) next week.

Hope everyone's well and didn't spend too much money while I was gone =).

I did refine one money-saving, better-tasting technique during my weeks of false imprisonment. My school offered free coffee, tea, and hot chocolate during finals, so I took full advantage of it. Since I have access to hot water, I grabbed extra teabags so that I could maintain mental function long after the caffeine station closes. During normal business hours, I indulge in the coffee. Unfortunately, the non-dairy creamer really sucked. Lots of people got picky and went off to you-know-where instead, but why pay $3 for a mochacchino at some chain coffee joint when the slightly watered down but free version packs the same punch? It just takes a bit of creativity to make it taste better. If you haven't tried it before, mix 1 packet of hot chocolate with good ol' brewed coffee. It's good stuff, plenty of antioxidants, etc. I added some half-and-half to that combo and it was sooooo much creamier and better.

While lots of people on the semester system are done or just about, the poor souls on the quarter system still have quite a ways to go. I advocate lower doses of caffeine over a period of time rather than indulging in stuff like No-Doze (the idea of taking pills like that scares me). If your school doesn't provide free caffeine, see if there's a way you can get hot water for free, then bring your own tea bags or hot chocolate. It's better than paying $1.50 each time for your fix. If you go to a lousy school like mine, which charges $0.11 for a friggin' paper plate, bring some ice tea mix in a plastic bottle, then fill 'er up with water fountain water. If you prefer another option, you can bring bottles of spring water (Big Lots has good prices on multipacks) and pre-measured packets of drink mixes from companies like Lipton.


Last Call for Luella

Short break before hunkering down for A Night with Corporate Law. I was out on a studying marathon with a friend; we worked really hard but had lots of fun reading practice questions like they do on "People's Court," complete with "soundtrack" (divorce proceedings can be so scandalous ;-P). Afterwards I felt drained and wanted a pick-me-up to continue studying. Well, well, well, there's a Target right off the freeway exit, and it's on my way home. I'm tellin' ya, exhaustion really does a number on willpower.

Luella stuff supposedly "disappeared forever" from the shelves, but my favorite Target still had some stuff at 50-75% off. If you were waiting for them to go on supersale, now is the time to get thyself to the nearest Target. They won't be there for long! Review on my 3 purchases and more will come after finals.