Category Archives: Bargains

Freebies

My health care has an excellent perk: a rewards program!

The way it works is this: You take a health “survey” once a year, and you get a $30 gift card to Amazon! You earn a certain number of extra points (for logging exercise or healthy eating or getting a pap smear or whatever, or you complete a “program” that requires you to do almost nothing), and you get more gift cards!

The first year I took advantage of this, I put it towards some big-girl, polarized, not cheap, sunglasses. My new boyfriend had been harping on me to upgrade, and after stepping on a cheapo lens after it fell out of my sunnies (again), I caved. I still wear the same pair… whereas the-then-boyfriend-now-husband has gone through like four pairs. Interesting.

In 2011, I bought an ice cream attachment for my Kitchenaid. I’m pretty sure my health insurance wouldn’t be super excited about providing me with an endless supply of ice cream, but whatevs.

kitchenaid-stand-mixer-ice-cream-maker-attachment

Last year, I put my rewards towards an awesome knife block to store our incredible new wedding knives.

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This year, rather than put it towards something big, I bought a bunch of selection of smaller things I really want but am always too cheap to buy:

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A 12″ cast iron skillet (I’m making pizza!!), a long-desired Silpat, cooling racks (so I don’t have to use the my stupid roasting racks anyway), and a jar of vanilla paste. I’m so excited to get to using this stuff!

Anyone else get perks like this from their health insurance? Inquiring minds want to know.

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Making money

OH BAM.

Part of the reason we registered at Macy’s was for their really great rewards. Yes, they upcharge, but things are constantly on sale, and their registry gives you a 10% discount for completion and cash back for purchases made off your registry. Suh-weet.

I’ve been wanting to buy the serving dishes that go with our dinnerware, but I’ve been waiting for the best sale — and today, I totally scored.

The serving platter and two serving bowls originally came to $130 before tax.

They had a regular sale on these items, and an additional 20% off for President’s Day (better than my 10% completion discount) = $78.81 with tax.

minus $45.35 gift card

minus $31.53 Macy’s card credit from a previous return*

= $1.93.

BUT WAIT.

I signed up for a cash rebate site called Ebates** and will get 3% cash back for this purchase — likely $2.16…

which means we made 19 cents!

Freaking go me.

*Yes, I do realize that a credit means I previously spent the money — but when it’s a credit it feels like free money… amiright?

**It sounds like a scam, and yet it is not. Go to Ebates, sign up, and just go there BEFORE you shop online at one of their many thousands of listed stores. They send you rebate checks once a quarter. It’s pretty awesome, honestly! They have a referral program, so if you want to sign up, won’t you pretty please use my link?

Embarrassing Truth(s)

I hate Black Friday. I hate the idea of it, the increasing extremes of it (sales starting at 3am?), the desperation of it. I hate the idea of frantically shopping, elbow-to-elbow with other frantic shoppers. I hate the implication that the holidays are all about presents. I don’t care that I could replace my aging desktop with a $198 laptop at Walmart… just…. no. My deep and abiding love of sales has to take a break each year on Black Friday, because I’d (of course) rather spend the day after Thanksgiving sleeping off a food hangover and sneaking slivers of leftover pumpkin pie than shopping.

Ahem.

This year, Aussie and I were visiting my family in Portland for Thanksgiving. My sister called Friday at 8:45am, saying she was going to stop by GAP (at a non-mall location just down the street, mind you) before yoga because everything was 50% off until 10am… did I need anything? Yes! I needed a black turtleneck! And underwear! And… screw it, I’m coming down!

I threw clothes over my unwashed body, tried to tame my unwashed hair (ew), yanked Aussie out the door, and drove like a crazy person to the GAP.

40 minutes later, I emerged with six sweaters, two pairs of leggings, and a scarf… and no gift receipt.

I swear, this is a one-time thing, partly because I know there will never again in my life be such an easy shopping trip, and partly because it would be FAR to embarrassing to have to admit again that I 1) shopped a Black Friday sale and 2) didn’t buy a single thing for someone else.

But throw me a bone, fellow bargain shoppers… 50% off? No sales tax? A plethora of much-needed winter basics for the taking? Too good to pass up!!

You give me warm fuzzies.

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways…

1) You cook for me.

2) When I think about you, I get warm fuzzies.

3) You smell wonderful.

4) You make my life easier and better.

5) You only cost $19.99 at Target!

Bet that last one threw you, huh. You probably thought I was talking about my Aussie until near the end of the list. Although I love him, I’m actually talking about his new “rival”…my new Rival Crock-Pot 4-qt. Oval Slow Cooker – Red!

41ZKWQ25E2L._AA400_Isn’t he just the cutest thing ever?? And he’s not just cute, folks — he’s probably the best invention in the entire world. (And yes, he’s a he — anything I daydream about MUST be male!)

On Monday, I dumped 3 cans of beans (2 pinto and 1 black, rinsed and drained), a can of corn (drained), a giant can of diced tomatoes, a chopped onion, two packets of taco seasoning, and two turkey breasts in Mr. Crock-Pot, and I came home 10 hours later to this:

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YUM!  Healthy, tasty, and he did all the work FOR ME!  Seriously, people, I’m in love. Yesterday I made split pea soup by dumping a bag of dried split peas, a chopped onion, two chopped carrots, three ham hocks, two bay leaves, and enough water to cover into the pot, and 8 hours later had the thickest, creamiest, most delicious split pea soup you can imagine… with enough left over for lunch, of course!

Some seriously good things came out of women leaving the home and going to work, and, besides equal pay and rights and yada yada, this may be one of the best.

Move over, Aussie. There’s a 4-qt, “pretty-enough-for-the-table” stranger in town, and I am so, so smitten!

Just a little treat

Today was MISERABLE at work. As was yesterday… oh wait, and the day before.  The week leading up to a new quarter always sucks balls.  No lie.

Anyway, 500 crises later, I arrived at 5pm having taken no breaks except to pee and get coffee and lunch (both of which were scarfed at my desk while answering emails). Time to treat myself.

So, I did the predictable. I munched on Shapes and a Tim Tam and a delicious chocolate-wafer thing (as it’s name replies, it’s intended as a reward!).  Then I realized that rewarding myself with junk food is a backhanded, bittersweet reward/punishment combo, so I turned to my less-abusive reward source — Etsy.com.

My daily Etsy email led me to CozyMoments, and oo, did I get excited! What better way to reward myself after a terrible stressful day than to indulge in some very reasonably priced good-smelling things?  One impulse led to another, and I ended up with the following:

Bella Roll On

Twilight-Inspired Bella Jojoba Oil Perfume Roll On. Yes, I devoured and loved Twilight. No, I don’t particularly wish to smell like Bella. But doesn’t freesia, lavendar, and lilac sound nice and relaxing? Yes, it does.

Hair Mist

Twilight-Inspired Bella Refreshing Protein Hair Mist. My hair has been looking frizzy and tired lately. Bring on the moisturizing refreshment! And if I smell like the best thing any vampire could ever smell as a result, so be it!

Home Fragrance

Home Fragrance Oil – You Pick the Scent. Oh, I picked it, alright. I picked almond. It reminds me of my mom… she used to use almond moisturizer from the Body Shop when I was a kid. I will use it to make my office smell luscious and subliminally influence prospies to attend my school! MWA HA HA!

Ok — disregard the “MWA HA HA” bit. Clearly a terrible-horrible-no-good-very-bad-day combined with purchasing homemade perfume, hair product, and home fragrance (including shipping) for less than $23 is too much for the ol’ gal, and my brain has now crashed. Time to whimper my way home.

But before I go…Yes, I promise to let you know EXACTLY how Bella smells!

Bulk is My New BFF

Friends, let me introduce you to my new favorite thing… buying in bulk.

I don’t mean 58 rolls of toilet paper or 12 chickens at once, Costco-style. This is not practical for a woman living alone, even if she does have a man she likes to feed. I mean buying items sold “in bulk” at classy grocery stores of the overpriced imported food variety (you know which ones I mean). Those twist-tied plastic baggies have earned my devotion and love for allowing me freedom to experiment in the kitchen while keeping the economic backlash at a minimum.

For example, the recipe for my Baked Brie called for dried apricots and almonds.  If I bought full bags of these, I would have easily spent 10+ bucks and had gobs extra. Instead, I visited a fancy-pants grocery store and bought small amounts in bulk; I only spent $5. Sweet!

Even better than nuts and dried fruit are bulk spices. Have you ever passed on a recipe because you didn’t feel like spending tons of money just so you could have 1/8 tsp each of cumin and chipotle and one bay leaf ?  Bulk is the answer! I made that french toast at my man’s place, and since he didn’t have cinnamon and I was way too lazy to go back to my place to get some, I visited an even MORE pretentious grocery store and spent nine cents (yes, you can do that!!!) on cinnamon!  Brilliant!

A lesson has been learned in the past couple of weeks: Don’t stay away from the stores with the olive bars and organic makeup. They come in handy.

Screamin’ Deal!

You know those North Face jackets EVERYONE has?  The black hoodless ones that come in both men’s and women’s cuts and are ridiculously expensive?  You know, these?

Get yer butt to Costco, then!  They have knock-offs for $27.  Yes, that’s right … $27! The brand is Black Diamond, and they come in black, off-white, baby blue, and a sage-y green, if my memory serves me correctly. And they have an iPod pocket.  Take THAT, North Face! I got the green one and tested it out in our cold, windy, wet early fall-weather, and it was wonderful!

Sure, I’d have liked to be the only kid on the block who got such a steal on a NW staple, but I couldn’t not share!

(While you’re there, check out the cute Nine West puffy vests for $20. Love!)