Saturday, October 25, 2008

Confession: I Love Infomercials (but Not Cindy Crawford's Meaningful Beauty)

If you know me very well, you probably know I'm a fan of the infomercial. Truth be told I cannot flip past one without stopping to watch. Proactive Solution makes me cry. Total Gym get me fired up for my next workout. That lady with the hand blender thingy who make fat free whipped cream in a plastic cup in seconds--well she amuses me greatly. And don't get me started on the force of nature that is Ron Popeil.

Although I love to watch infomercials, it's rare that I actually make a purchase. I did get the Jack Lalanne Power Juicer when I was pregnant and fruit-and-vegetable-juiced my way through 41 weeks of healthy pregnancy. (I still use it and I still like it.) Recently Cheapy bought a razor blade sharpener from TV. You know, because razor blades are expensive. Every morning I hear him using the cheap plastic battery operated device (which was $14.99 plus S&H), and he's getting a clean close shave--no nicks--and I haven't bought a $20 package of Mach III Turbo blades since.

When I was stuck in a beach house with my in-laws for a week this summer, I often headed back to my bedroom after making my oatmeal to escape the cacophony and enjoy some morning TV--talk shows, Lifetime movies and infomercials. And there I discovered Cindy Crawford's Meaningful Beauty. Ah, what the hell, though I. I'm not getting any younger. I'll give it a try. I grabbed my cell phone and ordered the whole enchilada of face goodies (including bonus gifts!).

Apparently Cindy developed these products along with her French dermatologist using an enzyme from a melon that never seems to rot. It took me almost one month to get my shipment of products. I followed the directions exactly. I used them morning and night. I thought maybe my skin was feeling a little softer. Maybe. I wanted to give them some time--it can take a bit for your face to adjust to new products.

So here's my verdict: they are on their way back and I'm expecting a full refund per their 90-day money back guarantee. The first week my face felt a little dry. The second week, flaky. My makeup was not going on very well. I broke out around my mouth. Week three I had a rash on my neck and chest. It itched. (I suspect the decollete cream may be to blame.)

Cindy, it seems, has skin that has not aged a day since the early '80s. She may drink the blood of virgins, or perhaps she sold her soul to the devil, or maybe she's a cyborg of some sort. But I suspect she's simply got some damn good genes. And while her Meaningful Beauty products purport to do wonders for her and Mariel Hemingway, these products are definitely not for me.

After three days back on my old regimen of Burt's Bees, Yes to Carrots, Sonya Dakar 365, and Arbonne, I'm feeling much much better, and so is my face.

Timberland Bargains from

My left knee has been giving me some trouble lately. The doctor told me: no yoga, no heels, no bending knee while sitting. Only one of those things is at all likely to happen. I did, however, decide that doc was, in effect, ordering me to shop for some flatter boots. (The day they gave me a brace which I hate and won't be wearing, I had on these.)

I clicked around for a bit and found these cool looking Timberland Flora boots on Amazon at a great price and I bought them. Then I googled the boot and found them on for even cheaper, so I canceled the Amazon transaction and bought them from 6pm. They're super comfortable and I love the look of them. In person they're a warm caramel color--good fall footwear. (They've since completely sold out on 6pm.)

Since I was so satisfied with these boots, I explored 6pm for other Timberland styles. There are a number of them that I dug, but very few were left in size 8.5--they've all gone of sale for $29.95 and seem to be moving fast. (I had a few pairs in my shopping cart for a couple of days and they went out of stock before I could snap them up.) I did find these rock star ankle boots. I couldn't decide on which color to get--the safe black or the wacky purple, so I got both. (They were cheap, fellow shoppers.)

Granted, these are not flat by a longshot, but they look like a steady wedge, they're cool, and I couldn't pass them up at the price.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Jeans, Jeans, They're Good for Your Heart

Last night Cheapy Junior's nursery school had a kids-and-dads party, which meant I had one hour to myself. I made a list of possible ways to make use of those precious 60 minutes: watch TV, read a book, iron, do a little closet editing, give myself a facial, sit on the couch and stare at the wall...finally I decided to go to The Mall.

I really love wondering around The Mall on a weeknight. It's so empty, so warm, so full of stuff! There were a mere handful of fellow shoppers at the Gap, where I tried on dresses, tops, and several pair of jeans. I have to say I'm not that into what the Gap's got going on for fall--there was a definite lumberjack-with-ruffles theme, and the basics were boring (tweed and puffer jackets?).

But I was there for denim. My favorite pair of jeans ever is getting a tad threadbare. There are holes and fraying and all the stuff that makes worn-in jeans cool. But I'm afraid in a few more weekends there may be new holes surfacing near the cheeks and lady bits--and that's never cool.

I tried on the Essential (bad), the Straight (badder), the Curvy (baddest) and I ended up with my old favorite. The Long and Lean is my jean (which is funny because I am neither). The mid-rise is just right, the slight flair offers a good balance, the bit of stretch makes them as comfy as sweats, and the Ankle version is just the right length (and at least a full inch longer than my old pair. Since the Gap introduced Petite, Ankle's inseam has increased.)

I got one pair in the lightest wash because that was the only one in stock in my size. I'd really like some dark jeans for evenings and wearing to work, but my new super soft, perfect fitting pair are now my official Saturday pants.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

A Happy Happy Saturday at Anthropologie

Did you ever have one of those shopping days when you loved everything you tried on and everything you tried on was on sale? That was pretty much my Saturday afternoon at Anthropologie. It was a tad crowded in the store (hasn't anyone told the ladies that the economy is bad?), but there was a good shopping vibe in the air and I enjoyed some chats with fellow shoppers while waiting for fitting rooms. If I would have had unlimited time and an unlimited discretionary fund I could have come home with a trunk full. (And let me tell you, there are times when I hit Anthro and everything is just all wrong.)

First I picked up a couple of sweaters , both in a shade of brown.

The sweater on the left is thick and textural and has giant wooden buttons, but it's short (even more cropped in the back than the front) so the bulk doesn't overwhelm. It's also a tad off the shoulder. It's pretty great over everything I've tried it on with.

Brown sweater number two is sort of a scarf-sweater hybrid. The back is cropped, the front long and fringy. It also sports big wooden buttons and fastens with a formidable hook and eye. I love the asymmetrical lapels and the cozy pockets. This makes me long for fall.

I got the deal of the century on the fitted blue jacket (which is a much lighter color in person)--$19.99 from $98. It fits like a dream, darted in all the right places with a touch of a peplum happening. I'm also a fan of the three-quarter sleeves. (I have a Banana Republic bargain of a jacket in my alterations pile that I just cannot wear until the sleeves are shorter.)

I also picked up a perfectly pintucked little white shirt with a touch of ruffle at the chest. It's great under this jacket. (I couldn't find it online.)

The top below (left) was not a Saturday Anthro find--I got it while in Portland--but it's become my new favorite shirt. I like it so much I want it in the other motif (below right). I actually went to Anthro on Saturday specifically to buy the top in the other color scheme, but they only carried the yellow and blue plaid in the store. I'm still thinking about ordering the other top online but I just hate the Anthropologie shipping fees.

A side note on my super shopping: Cheapy had taken Cheapy Junior to see a bat exhibit at the museum center and kept texting me bat pictures--not what I wanted to see while I was there in my happy place, the dressing room. I'm not a fan of the bat. I'm happy bats exist--I know the world needs them. But I prefer to do everything possible to never hang out in the same room with them on purpose. Oh oh oh do they creep me out. Bad Cheapy!

More Great Vintage Dresses from Violetville and Timeless Vixen

My two favorite eBay sellers for vintage are without a doubt Timeless Vixen and Violetville. Both of these eBay stores offer an amazing array of fab vintage finds--mostly dresses, lot of coats--week after week after week. Visiting these online shops is like stepping into well-edited vintage boutiques--no crap to wade through, no questionable items. Nothing but peaches! I purchase from both over and over.

Recently from Timeless Vixen I got this two piece dress and matching jacket '40s ensemble. (I'm trying to decide whether to have it altered.) I love the lapels and the buttons.

I also got this gorgeous sequined wiggle cocktail dress. It fits like it was made for me (although I don't think I could eat a big meal while wearing it.)

And from Violetville I won the auction for this LBD with a twist--thick fringe hangs all around from the neckline. That has Material Girl written all over it.

So, fellow shoppers, if you're in need of a vintage show stopper, click on over to eBay and see what Timeless Vixen and Violetville have going on. They both offer items in XS-XL. Listings include tons of photos of the clothing on happy blond models. They give all the measurements you'll need (always go by measurements when buying vintage). And the auctions have reasonable starting bids (although they can end on the high side). Just promise not to bid anything I want.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Shopping with Cheapy--Boots from Shoetopia

Cheapy and I had dinner with friends last Friday night at one of our favorite restaurants, Slims. The food is terrific, the atmosphere is cool, the staff is great, and it's right next to Shoetopia (which, if you ask me, is the perfect name for a shoe store). We spent some time at the wine store on the way to the Slims (you have to bring your own), so Cheapy was happy and he was digging a lot of the Shoetopia inventory (as was I).

He bought me these boots by J Shoes. I'm in desperate need of ankle boots and I loved the two-tone leather, the scrunchy ankle tie and the wonderfully padded sole.

I was not familiar with J Shoes before I tried these on. They have a small selection of their boots and shoes on endless and a smaller selection on Zappos. The boots I got are available in black on both sites--but they're less expensive at Shoetopia.

Cheapy must really like the design sense of this brand. He bought this pair of J Shoes from Johnny Sole in Portland.

It's going to kill Cheapy when I tell him they're on clearance on Amazon and are almost $100 less than he paid.

Shiny Things and Tees from J Crew

I recently got an email from my friends at J Crew announcing free shipping so naturally I hightailed it to their website. I was not mindlessly perusing, however. I had a few things in mind.

When I visited Portland recently, Cheapy and I hopped off the train right next to a 2-story J Crew. (Men's stuff lived upstairs.) I purchased what quickly became three of my favorite t-shirts. I got two long-sleeved waffle weave henleys (that I wore all over Portland because I had packed for much warmer weather) and this great salmony pink tee with floral embellishments (which totally matches the Argenteeny Pinkini polish that's now on my toes). It fits me perfectly--maybe I should get it in a few more colors.)

While I was shopping at the Portland J Crew I also tried on this dark gold lamé top. I really loved it--I'm a sucker for shiny--but the only ones they had left in stock wouldn't quite button over the girls. Happily it was way on clearance in the J Crew site.

The trouble was they also offered the top in two silvery shades (the darker on is below) and a shiny white. Since I couldn't decide between gold and silver I got one of each--you never know what type of metallic you'll be in the mood for when you're in the mood to wear a shiny shirt. (I'm thinking these will be fun layered under jackets, vests, sweaters and dresses for fall and winter.)

Also on final sale was this tee declaring "Seize the Day" in Italian and it ended up in my shopping cart too.

When I got this tee in the mail, however, it was a mess. The lettering was brittle and cracked everywhere. I called J Crew, and though the person I talked to seemed a tad bubbleheaded, she agreed to send me a mailing label so I could return the shirt--I was worried they'd give me a hard time since it was a final sale item, but, as it should be, defective doesn't count when it comes to final sale.

Monday, October 6, 2008

I Heart Tsubo Maryjane Pumps

I wore these today.

I loved them so much that I ordered another pair in cream, which was the only other color available in my size--and they were on sale for $38.99. (And since I bought them on Amazon shipping was free and I threw in a couple of books.)

These awesome shoe bargains are making me happy. My left knee, however, not so much. My cousin's orthopedic surgeon husband thinks I tore something in my knee. It hurt last week after I twisted it (during the strenuous activity of getting up off the bathroom floor while giving Cheapy Junior a bath), but it felt fine all weekend. I figured it miraculously got all better.

But today the high heels (which really aren't as high as they look--there's a hidden platform) did not do my knee any favors. It's sore sore sore. What will I do, fellow shoppers, if I can't wear any of my heels? This could turn into a sad situation--all those shoes sitting alone in their boxes unable to fulfill their destiny on my feet. Sigh. I better start searching for some cute flat-ish boots to get me through this crisis.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Shopping in Portland: Johnny Sole

During my trip to Portland over the weekend, I was involved in conference activities all day Saturday (while Cheapy checked out the awesome city). Since we were leaving Monday morning, that gave us only Friday afternoon and Sunday for exploring and shopping. The first store Cheapy and I happened upon after hopping off the train on Friday was Johnny Sole. This is an independent retailer open since 1993, two floors, shoes on the bottom, clothing on the top. The proprietor, who has a great eye for footwear, waited on us, and she was fantastic. I didn't venture upstairs to peruse the clothing--it was shoe time. Check out these pix.

I got two pairs of shoes and Cheapy got one. I ended up wearing this pair of Jeffery Campbell t-straps I bought during about 16 hours of conferencing on Saturday and they were super comfortable. Here they are in the mustard combo which is what I have, as well as in a side view in a brown combo so you can see how cute the heels are.

The only place I could find these online is an indie shoe shop in Chicago called Lori's shoes (whose site I plan to explore further).

The t-straps were full price, but I also checked out the sale room.

There I found a pair of Nana mini-wedges for super cheap, even cheaper than they currently are on

I also tried on these Tsubo pumps. Johnny Sole had them in black, cream, and this great olive green color which I wanted, but was sold out in my size. I kept thinking about the shoes after I left the store, so when we got back to our hotel I did a little googling and found them on Amazon in brown on sale for $25.99, down from the original price of $134.99 (which is what they were selling for at Johnny Sole). I couldn't pass them up. Oh what a great day for shoes, fellow shoppers! (Alas, I have no idea how I'm going to fit these all in my shoe shelf. Which, I suppose, is not a bad problem to have.)