Friday, September 30, 2005

Deluxe Gymini by Tiny Love - 50% off!!

As I've prepared for the arrival of my new little one, The Deluxe Gymini was one of the first products to be placed on my "must-have" list of baby toys. Culling rave reviews on Amazon (probably my most-relied on source for honest consumer reviews), the Gymini has drawn, at present, an average of 4.5 stars from 334 purchasing critics. That's good enough for me.

... so imagine my delight upon finding this little wonder specially marked 50% off at the Discovery Channel Store - cutting the price to just $31; with email code EMAIL05 ($5 off any purchase $25+), the Gymini comes down to $26 -- an extraordinary steal!!

As of this post, the Deluxe Gymini is in stock and on sale for $31 (not including any discount codes or other offers) at the Discovery Channel Store.

For more discussions about diaper bags and other mom-and-baby oriented products, check out my new subject-specific blog at Shopping Muse: The Mommy Edition.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

30 Bags in 30 Days

Seems like everyone's talking about Bluefly/Lucky magazine's "30 Bags in 30 Days" contest. Each day, you (if you're 18+) can enter to win one of 30 bags, including a $4500 Hermes, a $2500 Fendi, and a $3500 Dolce & Gabbana (but I'd be quite content with the $700 little Burberry, thanks).

You can view all the bags on Bluefly.com, and when your register for the contest, you can request emails reminding you to play every day. Hey, for a chance at a free designer bag, what do you have to lose?

Diaper Bag Update

... the quest for the perfect diaper bag continues ...

I came across another cute bag while watching Desperate Housewives on Sunday ... turns out Lynette was toting a Petunia Pickle Bottom "Boxy Backpack" in Lily. Normally, I'd never waste my time on a product called the "Boxy Backpack" (boxy? yuck. backpack? no thanks.), but this is actually adorable - much more of a messenger bag than a backpack, and the material is gorgeous. At $155.00, these are a little pricey for my current budget, but they're still worth a look.

Happily, I've also happened upon Kecci Shanghai bags, which look an awful lot like the Boxy Backpacks. I'm not quite as enamored of the fabric selections, but they're still lovely bags, and they don't have to be drycleaned like the Boxy Backpacks. Better yet, they're only $55.00.

The Lily Boxy Backpack by Petunia Pickle Bottom is available for $155.00 at retailers both online and in stores, including Nordstrom and BabyBrowns (the latter of which offers free shipping).

Shanghai diaper bags, by Kecci, are available online for $55.00 at Kecci.com.

For more discussions about diaper bags and other mom-and-baby oriented products, check out my new subject-specific blog at Shopping Muse: The Mommy Edition.

Heads Up: Sale at the Gap

Just a little heads up for the sale hunters ... Gap is having a great SALE (in stores and online) - many items up to 40% off . One of my favorite versatile little tops is even marked down to $6.99-$9.99 (depending on color selected), so I'll be placing an order of my own this afternoon.

Fantastic Magazine Deals

If you're resourceful enough (and some of us are better Googlers than others), you can often track down magazine subscription prices online for about the same cost as - and sometimes even less than - buying just one or two issues off the newsstand.

Now there's a site that does the leg work for you: MagazinePriceSearch.com not only compares subscription costs among twenty-four online magazine vendors, but it also takes into consideration discount codes available to find the best deal across the board. Results display the actual cost per issue among competing vendors, along with a chart showing how you can get the most bang for your buck depending on the length of the subscription that you're planning to order.

In a search for US News & World Report, for example, we can see that the best deals are currently found on MagazineForce.com, where a coupon (MPS80P) reduces the advertised price of $39.95 for a yearlong subscription to $7.99 - just $.15 per issue. This considerably beats out the next best deal on MagsforLess.com, which advertises a subscription price of $12.71 but is not further reduced by any coupons. Not ready to lay out the whole $7.99? If you'd prefer, advises the Results Chart, you could pay off a yearlong subscription in quarterly payments of $6.99 at AllZines.com. And take note: Ordering a subscription at BlueDolphin.com results in automatic renewals, and both MagazinesofAmerica.com and MagazineCity.com charge a $1.00 processing fee on top of the advertised subscription prices.

Overall, MagazinePriceSearch.com is a fantastic site - and one I refer to often.

My mailbox is monthly stuffed with the following subscriptions:
The Week, Real Simple, Reader's Digest, Marie Claire, Allure, Lucky, Cargo, PC Magazine, Wired, Money, and Writer's Digest.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Diaper Bags ... again

Honestly, I do not plan to turn this blog into a mommy shop guide, but lately I've spent practically every waking minute shopping (online and off) in preparation for my baby, so I may as well share some of what I've found.

Tonight I'm determined to make a decision about my diaper bag. I'm still loving the JP Lizzy line, and I just came across a discontinued Tan&Taffy print that I love and that - hooray - is on sale, since it's apparently been discontinued.

I'm also considering going the handmade/custom route ... Mimi's Sewing Boutique, while not a great website, has beautiful bags, and I'm also enjoying the custom diaper bag option at I'm Still Me, which is a little pricier.

Other great sites for unique/custom diaper bags:

Children's Cottage

Sommer Designs Handbags

(more updates as discoveries are made!)

For more discussions about diaper bags and other mom-and-baby oriented products, check out my new subject-specific blog at Shopping Muse: The Mommy Edition.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Things I Can't Live Without - Chanel Rouge Double Intensite

In the overdone "if you could only take X items to a desert island, what would you take" hypothetical, mascara invariably tops my list of must-have cosmetics. Nonetheless, as I have yet to settle on the perfect mascara (L'Oreal Lash Architect and Benefit Bad Girl have been my most recent faves, but I'm not yet satisfied ... hopefully there will be updates forthcoming), I've decided to instead discuss the newest staple in my makeup collection: Rouge Double Intensite Ultra Wear Lip Colour by Chanel. The dual product (base color at one end; clear gloss at the other) bests any lip color I've yet to try. The brush allows color application so defined that the need for lipliner is totally eliminated; the color survives food, drink, and hours of wear; and the ultra-shiny, non-sticky gloss "imparts brilliant shine, superb hydration" (I'm sorry, but I just couldn't do any better than the product description here - funny when a product claim turns out to be totally ACCURATE, isn't it?).

My sister got married this past weekend (hence the lull in my posts), and her lipcolor - applied around noon - withstood the kiss at the altar, dinner and wedding cake, and plenty of kisses at the reception - which lasted until eleven at night. We did reapply a gloss over the base color a few times over the course of the day/evening (gotta stay shiny for the photo ops!), but the base stayed on all day long. Pretty spectacular!!

For me, this product is part of my daily routine; I don't need a special occasion to justify an all-day lipstick. I also love that I can apply the base and then use a tinted gloss (being a Chanel girl, I love my Glossimers) to get a little color variety; my favorite combination at present is the Ultra Wear Lipcolor in Sandstone with a Glossimer in Hacienda.

Chanel cosmetics are available at beauty.com, gloss.com, sephora.com, and most fine department stores, including Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, and Macy's. The Ultra Wear Lipcolor is $30, and Glossimers run $24.50.


Thursday, September 08, 2005

Product Review: Cherry 7up Plus

In case you missed it, Cadbury Schweppes Americas Beverages debuted its "Supermarket Showdown" commercial last week to promote the new 7up Plus products; the spot features Desperate Housewives stars Marcia Cross and Nicollete Sheridan in a prissy end-of-the-aisle battle to out-shop one another at the 7up Plus display and ends with Cross manhandling a 7up stockboy into her cart. Admittedly, the commercial caught my eye, but for once it was actually the product features itself that struck me more; the soft drink, which packs just 10 calories per can, blends Splenda-sweetened 7up with real fruit juice and – yet more impressively – provides 15% of a woman’s daily calcium requirement.

Thus far, I’ve tried only the Cherry 7up Plus. The company’s also marketing a Wildberry and some sort of Tropical flavor, neither of which – to me – sounds remotely appealing; I think they should have gone with a citrus blend (I know, I know – 7up is already “lemon lime,” but throwing in some orange or tangerine juice would have been tasty), or maybe a white grape. Meanwhile, I thought the Cherry was delightful – good enough to make a repeat appearance on my shopping list. Check it out!

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Totally Wired: Techno Kitchen

Thanks to the fine folks over at Luxist for the constant reminder that no matter how much we have, there will always be something out there that could make life just a little sweeter.

Today, they have me wondering how in the world I've survived so long without Dacor's Digital Entertainment Center in my kitchen. This little wonder features a flip-down touchscreen monitor/television, FM radio, CD player, washable waterproof remote control, and washable waterproof wireless keyboard. With one of these in my kitchen, I'd surf on over to AllRecipes.com and pull up some amazing recipes for dinner tonight (God forbid I should have to actually print them up and read the recipes off of plain old paper while I cook).

While I'm dreaming, I'll also take one of Dacor's coffee systems, a 52" built-in outdoor grill, and an indoor/outdoor warming oven, which "
even installs into your bathroom cabinets to heat robes or towels. "

I found the Digital Entertainment Center (
DKEC24S), which retails for $2899, for just $2499 over at Cutting Edge Appliances.

Monday, September 05, 2005

A La Zing

A little update on my Dinner Delivered post ... A La Zing has a fantastic deal going on right now; their "Splendid Sampler," regularly $74.98, is being offered for just $29.99.

The Sampler, comprised of three pairs of gourmet dinners, includes the following:

Top Sirloin Suite ($24.99): 2 (5 oz.) Top Sirloin, 1 (12 oz.) Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes, (8 oz.) Glazed Julienne Carrots, 1 package A La Zing Natural Seasoning

Boneless Pork Chop Platter ($24.99): 2 (5 oz.) Boneless Pork Chops, 2 Twice Baked Potatoes, 1 (7 oz.) Roasted Vegetable Medley, 1 package A La Zing Natural Seasoning

Elegant Chicken Feast ($24.99): 2 (5 oz.) Chicken Breasts, 1 (8.5 oz.) Red Roasted Potatoes, 1 (6 oz.) Asparagus with Hollandaise Sauce

I just ordered the sampler, along with a whole David Glass New York Cheesecake (they were, sadly, all out of the Chocolate Truffle Cake) as a belated wedding gift -- totaling just $56.97 for the whole thing, including the pricey $13 shipping fee.

The Splendid Sampler deal is available through this link, and I have no idea how long it'll be available.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Things I Covet - The Perfect Diaper Bag

I’m expecting my first baby in less than three months (doctor says it looks like a little boy; we’ve dubbed him Jackson), and my ever-prepared mother tells me that now is the time to be working on my baby checklist. Being the compulsive consumer researcher that I am, however, a simple checklist will not do. I don’t need a bassinet, blanket, and sleep soother; I need the Baby Delight Snuggle Nest Deluxe, Koala Baby Satin Edge Fleece Baby Blanket, and Dreamscapes Soother by LeapFrog. Some of the baby necessities (okay, and indulgences) are more fun to investigate than others … Figuring out the best burp cloths – not so fun; shopping for a fantastic diaper bag – much more exciting. This brings me to the point of my post:

Today’s object of desire is the JP Lizzy Diaper Bag. It’s fashion redemption for any woman who had to hand over $89 for a potato sack maternity dress. I love, love the look of these chic microfiber bags and pattern-coordinating accessories (various bags include a changing pad, toiletry bag, and/or keychain coin purse), and consumer reviews indicate that they’re remarkably sturdy. At the top of my list are the Jackie (in a pretty pink), Sophia (in elegant black), Diana (preppy pink and brown argyle pattern), Grace (cheerful pink stripes), and Apple Blossom.

Aesthetic allure aside, the bags may not be quite as perfect in terms of functionality: the zippered opening looks awfully narrow when it comes to rummaging through an arsenal of baby supplies for a pen or a pacifier, and the bags lack the elaborate organizational appeal of, say, the Okkatots Diaper Shoulder Bag. The classic black Okkatots bag, while not as disarmingly delightful as the JP Lizzy bags, includes a plethora of interior pockets, wet wipes dispenser, pacifier pouch, insulated bottle holder, and changing pad. Ah – everything in its place; if a baby makes life as chaotic as I’ve been told, I’ll definitely appreciate this orderly little safe haven inside a diaper bag. Furthermore, while the JP Lizzy bags ring in at nearly $100, the Okkatots Diaper Shoulder Bag will set you back just $50.

So which bag to choose? For me, it boils down to this: I covet the JP Lizzy bag, but I need the Okkatots bag. Why settle for just one? I’ll order the sensible bag now – and I still have three months to save up for the splurge.

You can buy either – or both! – of these diaper bags at eBags.com.

For more discussions about diaper bags and other mom-and-baby oriented products, check out my new subject-specific blog at Shopping Muse: The Mommy Edition.

Friday, September 02, 2005

The Default Gift: Dinner Delivered

I have a new favorite default gift - you know, the gift that you can send to anyone and everyone for whom you have no idea what to get. I still have a couple of old standby strategies ... I usually start my gift shopping by sifting through Red Envelope and - for the domesticated goddesses, goumets, and party planners in my life - the sale sections of Crate & Barrel and Williams-Sonoma. Failing this, I turn to Illuminations (who, after all, doesn't love candles?), and last year I added Penzey's spices to my gift-giving repertoire (this deserves a post of its own, so I'll save discussions about the bliss of quality herbs and spices for a later time).

Gift giving can be tough for any number of reasons ... so often it boils down to a realization that you really don't know a person at all - you have no idea whether they like to golf, or drink coffee, or enjoy artwork, or read historical biographies. Other times your problem is just the opposite: after years of picking out the perfect presents, setting a consistently high standard, you cannot imagine that your sister/grandfather/best friend/mother-in-law could possibly be in want of anything else (at least not within your budget).

Either way, I’ve happened upon a fabulous go-to gift: the gourmet pre-made dinner. Everybody needs to eat (obviously), and most people appreciate good foods; pre-selecting a home delivered dinner is a creative and more thoughtful alternative to a restaurant gift certificate. By and large, the companies that tender these services offer either full plated gourmet meals or allow you to create your own menu, selecting appetizer, entrée, sides, and dessert; the dishes are flash-frozen, elaborately packaged with dry ice, and shipped directly to your gift recipient. Love it! Okay, without further adieu, here’s a list of the best sites I’ve found for fabulous gourmet dinner gifts:

Artiko Chef

Home Bistro

A La Zing

Omaha Steaks

Chef by Mail

DineWise

Gourmet Station

Impromptu Gourmet

In consideration of both my budget and the freedom to select my own menu (including bakery breads, which most of the other sites did not offer and which really completed the meal), I went with Artiko for my parents’ 32nd anniversary gift, and for just under $80 put together an amazing romantic dinner comprised of the following:

Asparagus Rollups: “Tender green asparagus spears rolled in flaky puff pastry and topped with Romano cheese.”

Artichoke & Spinach Tarts: “Chopped artichoke hearts, chopped spinach & melted mozzarella cheese fill this light flaky pastry with beautiful scalloped edges.”

Racy Ribollita Soup: “A basic minestrone but kicked up a notch…with haricots beans and a hint of pesto.”

Rustica Baguettes: “A warm old-fashioned Rustic baguette.”

Chicken Florentine: “Four grilled, boneless, skinless chicken breasts stuffed with spinach, parmesan cheese and pine nuts.”

Romanesco Stir Fry: “A blend of seasoned eggplant, mushrooms, red peppers, onions and romanesco seasoned with herbs and spices.”

Apple Tartlets: “Thin tartlet shell topped fresh granny smith apple slices.”

Chocolate Saucy Cakes: “A rich and moist chocolate cake is filled with an intense chocolate ganache center that melts when warmed.”

To top it all off, I found an online coupon for free shipping and a complimentary salmon-and-dill quiche with my order. I ordered it on Sunday night, and they shipped it overnight on Monday, arriving at my parents’ home on Tuesday afternoon. Does it get any better than that?

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