Friday, December 31, 2010

Vanity Top - Garage Sale

Happy New Year's Eve! I can't believe 2010 is almost over. I would have to say that my greatest achievement this year was getting my first "real" job, ie full time with benefits.

Today, we are celebrating Christmas with B and C. Her M and parents will be there too. I went with a top that I can dress up or down. I found this Vanity top at a garage sale for $2.

*Tip: Garage sales always offer good deals because people are trying to get rid of stuff. Sellers are typically willing to bargain, too, if you are the bargaining type.

Elsie Goes Off-roading

So J and I are looking at houses. There were a couple in towns we had never been to, so we went on an adventure. We stopped at Brooklyn

Population 1276
and Waterloo.

Population 3259
Our little adventure ended up costing me $79.13. Why so much, you ask? Because Elsie ended up in the ditch. Well, truthfully, we drove onto what I thought was a drive but what was really a snowmobile trail *sigh* and ended up needing a tow truck to pull me out. To move Elsie about a foot in 5 minutes costed $79.13. This is the epitome of an un-bargain.

 I felt like such an idiot. However, some good did come out of this. We discovered the people of Brooklyn were quite nice. Two vehicles stopped to make sure we were okay and to offer assistance. Thank you, kind hearted strangers.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Wilderness Vacation

So there is this awesome waterpark in Wisconsin Dells, WI called the Wilderness.

R and I love to vacation there. Our favorite water slide is the Hurricane, but I digress. We are in the process of planning a stay there. As we are in the off season, you can stay there for $99 per night! With the four of us, we are only paying $25 per night for lodging and waterpark passes. The only other money we need to bring is for food and souvenirs. I can't wait!

*Tip: Plan your vacation for the off season. Rates will be cheaper and it won't be as crowded!

[UPDATE 1/25/2011]
*Tip 2: Book early! They put the phrase "Subject to availability" in fine print so that they may end the promotions at any time. We ended up losing out on the $99 deal and are now paying $130, which still isn't too bad.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Olympus Stylus Tough 3000 -

I stopped at Office Depot last week and they had several items on sale at the front of the store. One was an Olympus Stylus Tough 3000 Digital Camera. It was originally $199.99, on sale for $149.99. I decided to think on it, but they are now unfortunately sold out. So I checked on and there it was....
pretty green color!

This camera was $159 and free shipping! (FREE Super Saver Shipping is available on orders $25 and over.) Plus it was a kit so it came with the following items:

8 GB Memory Card
Card Reader
Li-ion Battery
Deluxe Carrying Case
Floating Camera Strap
Screen Protectors
Lens Cleaning Kit

I can't wait for my new (waterproof, freezeproof, shockproof) digital camera to arrive in the next week!

*Tip 1: Buy it when you see it! Good deals don't last long.

*Tip 2: and sells new items at prices often cheaper than what you find in the stores. Amazon is especially good for textbooks. I have found textbooks that would be $100+ at the bookstore for under $30!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Berry Holiday Wreath - Target

Grandma had given me a leaf spray for autumn, so I already had a wreath hook. But I had no Christmas wreath. I searched high and low before Christmas. I finally found this berry wreath at Target during the after-Christmas sales. The price was $10 (50% off)!

I love that it's so simple I can put it up around Thanksgiving and leave it up until Valentine's Day.

*Tip 1: Shop for Christmas decor after Christmas for the next year. Places like Target and Walmart will clearance all of their Christmas items on the 26th (and sometimes earlier). The longer it has been after Christmas, the more discounted it will be.

*Tip 2: Buy versatile items that you can leave up for longer periods of time. Winter berries can be left up longer than Santa.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Black Wii - Game Stop

It's December 26th and you know what that means....time to play with your Christmas presents! (Or return the ones you don't like.) Here is my Christmas present to myself: a black Wii!

It was purchased at GameStop for $99.99. (They regularly sell for $199.99.) An additional $20 was spent on insurance. I also sprung for Netflix ($7.99). I only have broadcast television so Netflix is my cheap cable.

*Tip: Places like Game Stop and Play N Trade offer gently used consoles, games, and accessories. Watch for specials like Buy Two, Get One Free. And Netflix offers hundreds of movie and tv show titles on demand. It's the newest method of video rental.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Cookie Salad Recipe

Mom first introduced Cookie Salad to her work and got rave reviews. I made it for J's family cookout and it was very popular. Therefore, I whipped up two batches for Christmas. Good thing I had this huge bowl (set of 4 different sizes for $4 at Walmart) to mix everything up in!

Here is the recipe for one batch:

2 small (3.4 oz each) boxes vanilla instant pudding
2 cups (1 pint) buttermilk (ok to substitute 2 Tbsp. lemon juice plus milk to make 2 cups)
2 small (11 oz each) cans mandarin oranges, drained
2 (8 oz each) Cool Whip (Lite is ok)
1  pkg (about 40) fudge stripe cookies

Blend pudding and buttermilk. Add mandarin oranges. Fold in Cool Whip. Before serving, add cookies, broken into pieces.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Chocolate Crinkle Recipe

Merry Christmas Eve! And you know what that means....Santa! Here is a quick and easy recipe for a tasty alternative to sugar cookies. This is R's recipe for Chocolate Crinkle.

1/2 cup vegetable oil
4 sq. unsweetened chocolate (4 oz.), melted
2 cups granulated sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup confectioners' sugar (powered)

Mix oil, chocolate, and granulated sugar. Blend in one egg at a time until well mixed. Add vanilla. Measure flour by dipping method or by sifting. Stir flour, baking powder, and salt into oil mixture.  Chill several hours or overnight.

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Drop teaspoonfuls of dough into confectioners' sugar. Roll in sugar; shape into balls. Place about 2" apart on greased baking sheet.
Bake 10 to 12 min. Do not overbake!

And follow Santa on the Official NORAD Santa Tracker to make sure you have your cookies done in time!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Tweed Skirt - JCPenney

I've been looking for a warm skirt for winter. My $10 off $10 coupon from JCPenney was the perfect opportunity to look for one. Here is what I found:

This skirt was originally $44 and discounted 50%. With my coupon, I paid a grand total of $11.99 :) Bonus, it is machine wash and dry.

*Tip: If you have the patience, peruse through the sale racks at department stores. I have had particular luck at JCPenney and Old Navy.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Liquid Motion Desktop Toy - Gift

M & I did our Christmas last night. Look what he got me...

...a liquid motion desktop toy! I have been wanting one of these for a long time. I actually asked for one for my birthday (July), never got one and forgot about it, and was then surprised that he got me one for Christmas!

Apologies for the sound. I took this video with my old point-and-shoot camera. (Special thanks to J for helping me rotate and upload this video.)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Potlucked Out

I am officially potlucked out. (If that's even a word!) People think all I do at work is party. Well, we have to celebrate birthdays, babies, and weddings. That's a given! Now that it's Christmas, we have to celebrate that too. And working with three different departments means three different parties. Food abound, I ate

BME Potluck
and ate

ME Potluck
and ate

ISyE Toast
Luckily this took place over a two week period. I am literally stuffed. There is one more potluck tomorrow. Then I go to celebrate Christmas with J's family and feast again. I better save room!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Necklace - Bangles & Bags

In addition to baking, R and I shopped downtown. There was this cute boutique called Bangles & Bags. I loved their headbands, purses, and jewelry. But I limited myself to one purchase:

This beautiful necklace was only $15! I can dress this up or down. I can wear it with my grey cardigan for work or with my little black dress for more special occasions.

*Tip: Boutiques and other specialty shops offer unique items not found anywhere else. And generally for reasonable prices.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Lean Mean Cookie Cooking Machines

R and I spent our day baking cookies. We made Chocolate Crinkles and Sugar Cookies. We decorated the sugar cookies to make them festive. Because nothing says Christmas like a cow pie,

a bat,

or a *ahem* candle.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Elsie Goes to The Sauna

It was time to get my car in for an oil change. I finally had the time last night after work. And my car was thrilled! You see Elsie, yes I named my car Elsie, got plowed in on the side of the street with all this snow.

And no matter where Elsie traveled, it was cold. Until...her oil change! She was on top of the world...literally.

She got her fluids topped off and was able to thaw out. Best of all, I could open the trunk again! You see, I attempted to open the trunk the other day. I must have succeeded somewhat because the open trunk warning light came on in the dash. But it was still frozen shut....until the oil change. And now today, I find out that her gas cap was also frozen shut. I had to chip away at it to get her tank filled. Now we're ready for our road trip tomorrow to visit R :)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Messenger Bag - My Closet

I needed a hands-free solution for carrying my reading material, shoes, and lunch to and from work on the bus. The solution: messenger bag!

I used this bag for toting my clarinet, music, and stand to and from rehearsal. I don't remember when I got it but you can tell how old awesome it is by the portable cd player extra large iPod :) pocket on the inside.

And not to worry, my clarinet is not homeless. Here is the bag I now use for toting my clarinet around.

Play 'Til the Cows Come Home

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Gabriel Iglesias

My Gabriel Iglesias tickets have been ordered! He is awesome! Not only is he hilarious, but he is very devoted to his fans. He takes pictures with his fans and gives autographs...*FREE*. When we saw him in Rockford, he had the flu. Gabriel had planned to cut the show short, but instead gave us an extra hour! This will be our 3rd show. And this time we are bringing friends: B, her M, and R.

I'm not fat...I'm fluffy!
And the tickets are priced at a reasonable $34. Unlike fellow comedian Jeff Dunham. His tickets range from $75 - $384. Unless you are willing to sit alone. In which case you can score a ticket for $56.25 through Ticketmaster. (How do I know this? I called them.)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

College Hockey

My boyfriend J and I went to our first collegiate hockey game this past weekend. My mom won two tickets through work and kindly offered them to us. We were in Section 101 Row H! Check out our proximity to the rink:

I don't know much about hockey, but I caught on enough to follow the puck....and laugh at the refs jumping over it! Yeah, I still don't know much about hockey.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Wristlet - Gordmans

I've been on the search for a wristlet. I like the size of a Coach wristlet. However, those sell for $48.00.

I found this one on Amazon for $38.95. However, it was still over budget.
BIG BUDDHA 600460 Meredith Wristlet

After several failed trips to department stores, I went to Gordmans. I found this similar wristlet at the price of $6.99 (theirs: $14.00)!


*Tip: Places like Gordmans, T.J. Maxx, and Marshalls offer the popular trends in clothes and home decor at affordable prices.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Ladder Bookcase - Target

I ran to Target to get Christmas cards and wrapping paper. I ended up coming home with this:

It's the Ladder Bookcase in Espresso. It is an Online Only item, selling for $71.99 (originally $119.99). I paid $36.06.

*Tip: Target places their clearance merchandise on the ends of the aisles. Returned items that are "Online Only" will be deeply discounted before going back on the shelf.