Thursday, September 30

Finders Keepers

I found another deal at Target. It's Wizard of Flaws by Soap & Glory. Originally $17.59 and a steal at $8.78.

If you've never tried Soap & Glory, I urge you to try it. It's been available exclusively at Target for the past three years but I was not an early adopter. I thought it was just a Target brand and probably not that great. However, as soon as I found out that the founder of bliss, Marcia Kilgore, was the creative force behind Soap & Glory, I had to give it a try. Both bliss and Soap & Glory make products with fun names like steep clean and Clean on Me. What's not to like about a clever play on words? Okay, good products. Trust me, these are fabulous.

But, hurry! Soap & Glory is only available at Target until the end of September - TODAY! Or until they run out of product. Soap & Glory is changing strategy and is in the process of inking deals with retailers that focus on beauty. No details yet - stay tuned.

Wednesday, September 29

Another Deal from benefit

The gals at benefit have another great deal - badgal mascara duo, including tubes of both black and plum mascara. The price is $29 - a bit expensive for me - but you save $9 off the regular price.

It's hard for me to resist when the savings is almost $10! You can also get free shipping if you spend $50. Enter PRETTY50 at discount.

My New Post at Studio Ten Twenty Two

Take a look at my current post at Studio Ten Twenty Two. It's about designer jeans.

Tuesday, September 28

TV is Free (Almost)

TV isn't actually free, but it can be low-cost. It takes some getting used to, although it's not impossible. First, you can bundle services like TV, Internet and telephone service. Not bad if you're looking for all of those things. The drawback is that you have to use a big company like Comcast. Another option is to buy an HD antenna and live with the channels you can get. It's a one-time cost to purchase the antenna, then free after that. Do you really need hundreds of channels?

PS - Glee's on again tonight. It's the Britney Spears episode. Oh, c'mon. You know you've at least taken a peak at the train wreck that her life has become. John Stamos is in the episode, too.

Monday, September 27

Green and Clean, Baby!

One of my recent discoveries is cleaning sterling silver with toothpaste.

My sterling silver ring by Carmen de Anguis is one of my treasures, so I wear it every day. I purchased it in Cannon Beach, Oregon, when my daughter was only 9 months old (she's 11 years old now). It was recently tarnished while I cleaned my bathroom - stupid to wear it, I know. Since I didn't have any silver polish - Wenol is my favorite - I looked online to find a homemade alternative. Voila! Toothpaste. I globbed it on and left it for a while, rubbed it off and now it's good as new.

You can also clean diamonds, remove ink and lipstick stains from clothing, and clear up pimples. Discover more uses at WiseBread.

My Post at Studio Ten Twenty Two - stila

My friend Dawn of Studio Ten Twenty Two recently asked me to post on her blog once a week about beauty and style. Check out my first post on her blog.

Sunday, September 26


On occasion I'll post some rants, aka things you shouldn't use or buy. I'll bet you've been duped before just like me; hopefully these tips will be useful to you.

My first rant is about Internet service providers. We've tried both Comcast and Qwest, neither of which is great. For almost a year, we've had problems with the hardware provided by Comcast. Our connection fails at least once a month, so we go through the whole restart thing. When it doesn't work, which inevitably happens, we call customer service. We usually spend 30 minutes or more on the phone with them, repeating the same steps we've already taken. Great use of time. . . And guess what? It doesn't work. Unexpectedly the service begins to work again, albeit maddeningly slow. We checked our connection speed at speakeasy and it was abyssmal.

After countless attempts, we decided to buy our own router.

It was fairly expensive, but it has been worth it. Word to the wise - do NOT use equipment the service provider sends. First, it comes a third-party vendor. We've tried to get a new router from them and they've been impossible to deal with. Second, Comcast hasn't been any better. They said they would send us a new, better router at no charge, but it never happened. I can't believe we lasted as long as we did with that piece-of-junk router.

Here's a radical idea: we should collectively force our city and county governments to provide Internet service to residents as a public utility. Crazy, huh? But it's been done before, as in energy and telephone service. Personally, I think we should show Internet service providers that customers run the show, not them.

Thus ends my first rant. Keep an eye out for future rants from "the girl with the negative tattoo" (thank you to NBC's Community for the new moniker).

PS - check out my daughter's music picks in the righthand column - we have affectionately called her "The Diva" since she was 3.

Saturday, September 25

Buh-buys From benefit

Benefit is a fun and cheeky cosmetics company from San Francisco, started by twin sisters in 1976. Their most famous product, benetint, has an interesting back story (at the bottom of the page). See what I mean? Cheeky!

The packaging is fun, fabulous and irresistible. If you've never used benefit products, it's a great time to start. One of my favorite products, besides benetint, kitten classic, is currently available as one of benefits' buh-buys. Still a bit pricey at $19 (a savings of $7) but it lasts FOREVER. Seriously. The lipsticks are a more reasonable $9, sheer and buildable. Silky finish lipstick - hold it! looks great in deep raisin.

Friday, September 24

A Guy After My Own Heart

Is the Earth still spinning? My husband went shopping. By Himself. FOR CLOTHES.

He's not a complete stranger to shopping, though. He looks for outdoor gear all the time. Climbing, skiing, mountaineering gear, it's all good. Look for an upcoming guest stint where he explains why he spends significant money on quality gear vs. spending on nickel-and-dime stuff. My opinion will follow the next day.

It's rare for him to shop for clothes. First, he doesn't believe that shopping is a hobby. He says that you decide what you want ahead of time, go in to get it and leave. End of story. Personally I think he's missing out on a great visual and tactile experience, but how can you argue with a guy who's into Nature?

Obviously he decided he needed some shirts. And, since he's married to a thrifty girl, he stopped at a Banana Republic outlet to save some dough. Wishful thinking. He didn't shop at an outlet because of my influence. He shopped at an outlet to save money and buy more gear! I'm proud of him, though; he found a couple of great deals.

The polo was only $8.99 (regularly $32.99) and the dress shirt only $30 (regularly $64.99). I couldn't have done any better myself!

Thursday, September 23

The Girl Who Loved Books

I LOVE books. Once I started reading, nothing could hold me back. Fiction is generally my first choice, but nonfiction written like a novel is fine with me, too. As long as it's a good read, I'm there.

Everything about a book - the real object in my hands, not an ereader - is near and dear to my heart. The turning of the crisp pages, the weight in my hands, the font; I love it all.

Being a girl from the Pacific Northwest, I haunted indie bookstores from Seattle to Portland (Oregon that is). Powell's Books in Portland is unbelievable! It's not known as the City of Books for nothing. Their inventory is massive; you can wander around the store for hours. Fortunately, they've managed to thrive in the era of megastores like Borders and Barnes & Noble, even though the odds were stacked against them. And the reason the store has survived is this - they've conquered a niche comprised of used, out of print, and rare books, with some new books mixed in, too.

Here's the thrift part - you can find great deals on used books. If it's hardcover or trade paperback, the book will retain some value and you can resell for cash or store credit.

Since I'm in Colorado, Powell's website is a godsend. It's easy to navigate and I can always find something. The staff recommendations are a must whether you're looking for yourself or for a gift.

Alibris is another great site. It's a marketplace filled with indie booksellers. A place for great deals, hard to find books, music and movies. Some books cost as little as 99 cents! You can't feel bad about supporting  independent sellers, either.

Read on!

Wednesday, September 22

At The Movies

You gotta love Netflix instant. For a low monthly subscription fee, you can stream tons of movies and TV shows anytime you like.

Lately we've been watching Pushing Daisies, Arrested Development, and Cake Boss. If you've never seen Cake Boss, give it a try. It's HILARIOUS. The cakes are gorgeous and truly amazing, and the cast of characters is over the top. I'm not kidding. Yes, much of their behavior is stereotypical New Jersey Italian, but not offensive.

Pushing Daisies and Arrested Development are great, too. They both suffered untimely deaths from their respective networks - ABC and FOX. When I think of the drivel that's on TV, it makes me really sad that quality shows are given the ax. Meh!

Tuesday, September 21

Gleeks Unite!

I'm so excited for the Glee season premiere tonight.

I blame my sister for converting my children and I into gleeks. We watched the show with her last Christmas and we've been hooked ever since. Have to admit I have a bit of a crush on Mr. Shue, as evidenced by the music listed in the sidebar. Can't help myself. Don't you wish you'd had a teacher like him in high school. Maybe you did, but I sure didn't.

This season promises great songs - Telephone, Empire State of Mind, What I Did for Love - and guest stars - John Stamos, Britney Spears. I really hope Kristin Chenoweth makes an appearance or two again this season. She's an itty bitty, pocket-sized embodiment of humor and happiness. Love her.

Enough gushing. Enjoy the premiere!

Monday, September 20

Sometimes Inexpensive Isn't Worth It

This summer I broke another of my cardinal rules - inexpensive isn't always where it's at. I used cheap shampoo and conditioner. Every time I do it, I'm sorry. My hair is fine and I have highlights. Combine that with an overdue haircut and it's a mess. Major split ends and some frizz. Yuck.

Learned my lesson (again). Now I'm back to my standard shampoo and conditioner. I bought them at beauty brands during their $11.98 liter sale. I use Joico Color Endure shampoo and conditioner.

PS - off topic here. . .Glee's season premier is tomorrow night!

Saturday, September 18

Thrifty is Beautiful

I have a few shopping rules I try to live by - never go grocery shopping when you're hungry (or with your children if you can help it), don't buy more than you need or you can use, and don't by items displayed on the endcaps of aisles.

However, most rules are made to be broken. At Target, the endcaps, on the sides away from the main aisles, are where you find clearance items.

Yesterday, I found a lip palette by e.l.f. on the cosmetics endcap.

I've seen it at Target before, but wasn't in the market. I do need lip junk now and the palette was on clearance (you'll notice that it's still full price on the Target website). Nice!

e.l.f. is a drug store cosmetics brand touted by magazines such as AllureElle, and Lucky. Some of the products, like lip gloss, only cost $1. I don't know about you, but I don't have much success when I try to look for new lip colors. A palette like this is a great way to go - you can try lots of colors without breaking the bank!

Friday, September 17

She's Crafty - And She's Just My Type

Being thrifty includes creativity and sometimes it includes love. When I visited Washington state in July, my sister showed some embroidery patterns to me. She wanted to put them on pillow cases for her 18-month-old-daughter. They have an asian theme to match new bedding for the upcoming toddler bed. I offered to embroider them since I needed something to do in the evenings while I was there.

I'm happy with the way it's turned out. One more lantern to go and it's off to my niece.

Handmade items are undoubtedly thrifty. If you purchase handmade goods, you generally pay more than for mass-produced items. A handmade throw pillow, for example, can cost $100 or more. Ouch; too rich for my blood. So, a few simple crafting skills can increase your thrift plus, they're fabulous.

If you like to embroider, there are tons of patterns out there, many of which include a modern twist. This pattern is from Sublime Stitching by Jenny Hart. Love her stuff. The patterns are cheeky and fun. And they aren't too expensive either.

I know some people don't enjoy making crafts, but with a few skills many aren't difficult to make. If you're interested, embroidery might be a good place to start.

Post title from the Beastie Boys

Thursday, September 16

In Praise of Baking Soda

Baking soda is the best. Not only can you use it in cooking, but you can also use it to clean and deodorize your home.

We all know that placing a box in your refrigerator or freezer for 30 days keeps food tasting fresh. The box even has a handy dandy spot to jot down your change date on the side of the box. But did you know that it can be used to deodorize your garbage disposal? When my disposal gets smelly, I pour about 1 cup baking soda and 1 cup distilled white vinegar in, then flush with warm water. It deodorizes the drain and makes it smell a-ok. Follow up with lemon peel and it smells great. You can vary the amount of baking soda and/or vinegar. When I'm in a hurry I just dump the baking soda in, skip the vinegar, and flush with water. Especially handy when you're cooking.

There are tons of other uses, too. Go to Arm & Hammer for more tips.

Green and clean, baby!

Wednesday, September 15


Now that the kids are back in school, the holidays have been on my mind. They're already talking about Halloween costumes and that means only one thing - Christmas isn't far behind.

I love to give gifts of specialty food products. The prices are usually a bit of a splurge, but they're gifts afterall. Remember, being thrifty isn't always about finding the least expensive thing.

I really like Stonewall Kitchen. The Wild Maine Blueberry Jam is to die for and so is the Lemon Curd. They're both delicious on scones, pancakes and waffles. Pricey, but worth it.

If you're putting together a gift for the holidays, a birthday or a bridal shower, you could put together a gift with a theme like breakfast or afternoon tea. Whip up some homemade scone or muffin mix (don't bake it, just include the mix), include some loose leaf tea and a tea strainer, and the jam or lemon curd. Put it all in a muffin tin or tart pan, wrap in cellophane and tie with a pretty ribbon.

 A nice, thoughtful gift anyone would enjoy receiving.

Tuesday, September 14


I LOVE beauty products. Cosmetics. Skincare. Hair products. You name it. Recently I discovered a company called mark. It's fun and fresh. The products are also moderately priced.

My current fave is Get Bright Hook Up Highlighter. It's lightweight and comes in gorgeous, skin matching colors. Since I'm fair, I like Light or Natural. I use highlighter on my brow bones, at the top of my cheekbones and the inner corner of my eye near my nose. It's amazing what a little highlighter can do. It really brightens my eyes and lifts everything up. Not bad considering my age. . .

Monday, September 13

Helpful Hint

Sometimes static cling is an issue. We've all suffered from it one time or another.

You know you have. . .

My quick and frugal solution to static cling? Hairspray. That's right. That good old can of hairspray you already have in your beauty den (aka bathroom). Just spray a little on the underside of the clothing and your undergarment and you're good to go. No need for fabric softener or dryer sheets (I've never been a big fan of either) or a bottle of static guard.

Now get spraying!

Sunday, September 12

S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y Night

Last night, I won a game of Monopoly for the first time EVER! I mean, really won. Not the "we're tired of playing, let's see who's worth the most and quit" type of Monopoly. The real deal where you crush your opponents.

I don't normally enjoy board games, but since we've been taking a more frugal approach to life (frugal's the new black, right?), our family stays in most weekends. We plan fun activities like watching movies, walks or bike rides. Last night was family game night.

My son was camping, so it was just the three of us - my daughter, my husband and me. My daughter had been swimming all afternoon and my husband and I went on a hike. By the time we got home we were all exhausted. My daughter, however, was set on playing Monopoly. My husband and I eventually relented and the three of us sat down for a friendly game. How long could it take anyway? Three players, one of whom is 11 years old?

Three hours later, the game was finally winding down. Not a bad evening, plus, I won! I never win at games so this was a landmark event.

Besides, family game night is not only frugal, but also a good thing. After a hectic week, we get to spend time together and laugh. It's pretty fun. And last night (aha!) my daughter had a lesson in decision making and money management. We'll get this frugal thing down yet.

Thanks to the Bay City Rollers for the title of today's post.

Saturday, September 11

Food, Glorious Food

My husband despises leftovers. Ok, there are a few exceptions - lasagne, pasta, taco salad (but only if he can add tomatoes and tortilla chips at the last minute) and cashew chicken. Fairly limited. I, on the other hand, LOVE leftovers. What's not to like about cooking one day and not the next?!

As I try to follow my cardinal rules of thrift, I have to be clever enough to reinvent leftovers. Earlier this week I made the above-mentioned cashew chicken (fast and easy recipe first published in Everyday Food, May 2004,

Last night I used leftover sticky rice to make a side served with pan-seared steak and a salad of wild greens. I sauteed chopped fresh tomato and onions until the onions were fragrant and slightly browned. Next I added about 4 tablespoons of pesto and 1 cup of water. I let it simmer until liquid was reduced by half. The cold rice was next. Sauteed the whole thing a bit more and voila, a new and delicious dish! Best of all, my husband and kids ate it and they were none the wiser. Clever, no?

From Oliver! The Musical - Book by Lionel Bart

Friday, September 10

A Good Place To Start

Thrifty. . .frugal. . .smart. But never, ever cheap.

Creating a fabulous life requires style, brains, research and patience. As you navigate the marketplace, whether it be for cosmetics, home decor, fashion or groceries, sometimes you need a savvy guide. Come along as I share my thrifty picks; some tried and true, others new and fabulous!

A taste of things to come. . .

The Cardinal Rules of Thrift
NEVER buy retail
DON'T forget outlet malls
SHOP drugstores and discount stores like Target for cosmetics
CONSIDER coupons and website promotions
INVEST in quality goods; it's not always about price

Share your ideas and tips. The more the better!