Tag Archive | deals

The 2015 Recap Edition

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This is my 2015 recap. I wouldn’t say that 2015 was a banner year. But I don’t have those. I think not having many major life milestones is a contributing factor. No wedding, engagement, babies or new businesses. So it was just like any other year. Two items of note:

  1. I barely blogged this year. I ended up in a very toxic, soul sucking work environment and all I want to do when I get home is collapse on the couch and work on lump status. Ironically, my last project at my previous job was conducting employee focus groups. I was so amazed at how miserable employees were. People would be near tears when we asked the simple question of “how do you get along with your boss?” Now I get it. Bad workplaces sap every ounce of energy you have.
  2. Being miserable at work caused me to reevaluate my life. I became very Shalina-focused. I decided to not spend much energy chasing behind other people. I realized that I put forth much of the effort in many of my relationships and that ceased. I didn’t call first, extend many invites or deal with much selfishness. I just didn’t have the energy. This also affected my Top Ten Life. Not as many outings to discuss.

So without much further ado, here are my Top 15 moments of 2015. This is no particular order as I am trying to be more freewheeling and doesn’t include events already discussed on the site.

  1. I was so artsy. – Crafts are a good release. I made Kente cloth, painted pottery, created jewelry, adult colored.
  2. I binge watched. – I am not a tv person despite being raised by an absolute tvaholic. I like leaving the house (hence this blog). However, as mentioned by the two items of note, I didn’t cajole people to hang out and didn’t want to be bothered, so thank you to: Jessica Jones, Orange is the New Black, Broad City, Master of None, etc. for keeping me occupied. I saw some good ones and bad ones – I won’t mention Younger. So much shame.
  3. I did lots of road trips (on my Vision Board).- New York, three times! I went to Harlem (visited many places that I later saw reality shows either good or bad) and Brooklyn. I went to Hampton’s Homecoming for the first time in 10 plus years. I am now a big fan of all the suite parties! I went to Michigan twice. To quote Murtaugh, “I am getting too old for this.” That trip is getting harder and harder to do. I went to a Delmarva beach for the first time for an extended time (4 days, not a day trip) in the 20 years I have been here. While Dewey is nice, turns out honey doesn’t like sitting in the hot sun because he works outside all day.
  4. Afro Punk.- Grace Jones topless hula hooping. Lenny Kravitz jumping into the crowd. Enough said.
  5. D’Angelo returned to form. – However, he had the ridiculous idea that his 35+ year old fan base should attend a four plus hour standing show on a work day. Unfortunately, we needed to leave early as my honey’s feet were killing him one hour into his performance (four hours into the night). Apparently he performed for two hours. Standing shows need rules! Thou shall not have opening acts. Thou shall start promptly after doors open. Thou shall only book acts whose audience is 25 years old.
  6. Prince bestowed us with his presence. – Prince came to Baltimore and all was right. Actually not really because of the reason he was there after “riots” resulting from Freddie Gray’s death. I could talk about that issue for hours but will move on. So many funny things happened at the show just in the audience! One thing, Royal Farms Arena needs screens. I never knew who any of the “special guests” were and had to rely on sneak looks at my phone (phones were banned which caused some of the audience hilarity).
  7. I was considerate. – I did stuff that I really didn’t want to because I am a good person. I gave up Trevor Noah tickets (taping his Comedy Central special!) to go to my honey’s club event. I wanted to go to a wine festival but instead went to the movies with friends. There should be prizes given out for this behavior.
  8. Carefree outings. – I joined meetups. They are such an easy way to hang out. You don’t have to call people. You don’t have to endure being stood up. If you don’t have plans, you pick a pre-arranged event and show up! Honey thinks things are weird, but I came to love them. I golfed regularly. I zip lined. I sang karaoke. I grooved at Motown the Musical. Easy peasy.
  9. Childhood dream. – I hate to admit this but I’ve never seen a full New Edition show. As equally as Jill was moody, New Edition was fun. Damn they can still dance except Johnny who is turning into Eddie LeVert. Yay guys! I saw BBD on Valentine’s Day and they can work their 6 songs hard! Then I saw the full shebang at the Holiday Jam. So happy for me.
  10. Food and libations. You know what is fun? The Bourbon and Brew Classic! Bourbon tastings combined with horse racing. What a great idea. I ate the most divine Lobster Rolls (I wrote it down) at the Baltimore Seafood Festival. I drank so much wine at the Vintage Virginia Festival while dancing to Trouble Funk. I went to a violently okay wine festival at the Navy Yard though so they aren’t all silver and gold. I like these things a little too much.
  11. So fancy. – I was invited to not one but two tea parties. I am very elegant and this is the reason why.
  12. I got some cool deals this year. – Enjoyed the Black and Brown Comedy Get Down based on a random discount code. Took honey to a cool brunch. Found an okay hotel in Brooklyn. I still want my playlist, dammit! Vegas was a great hotel special.
  13. Celebrated Detroit. – Went to D.C. Loves Dilla for the first time with special appearance by Common who did one song though Dilla produced entire albums. But I digress. Though it’s weird seeing only two people in Slum Village. I was reminded of my dark dusty days at St. Andrews in the late 90’s. Remember this, rap battles are terrible. No, they weren’t good. They are terrible.
  14. One down, two to go. – So I finally went to Preakness. I just have Belmont and the Kentucky Derby to go. Plus, I need to start on the rest of my sports bucket list: U.S. Open, the Masters, and the World Series. The sky’s the limit. Hopefully, they will have less drunk people. Preakness has so many drunk people. But I had a great hat. That’s what is most important.
  15. Diner en Blanc. Last and my favorite. I worked hard on this. After seeing that the waiting list was in the five digits I decided to be creative. While I may not be the most social being (which is the key to getting invited) but I’m Cleva (shout out to Erykah). I created a fabulous infographic as to why I should be invited and voila, I was in. On paper it seems ludicrous but in practice, awesome.Honey was dubious. My friend bailed. But what a fun time for a tremendous amount of work. Plus as a treat, honey booked a room at the Marriott Marquis which isn’t as luxurious as it could be though it has the spa water with fruit in the lobby.
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Stay Cute Mondays – Ten Crack Commandments

commandmentsSo I got waylaid a bit by the awesomeness that is Dallas and the mundane activity known as work. However, it’s time to return to the 10 Crack Commandments. As I mentioned earlier getting a good deal is my crack but sometimes my retailers fail me. Something happened recently. I realized that I am a relic. I really detest buying things online. I am a tactile shopper. I like seeing and feeling an item before purchasing. I cannot tell you the number of gorgeous items that I purchased online that turned out to be ugly or just wrong in person.

This includes:

  • A futon cover  — Apparently, physical stores only carry black, navy and tan ones
  • A comforter — The quality was off and this was confirmed after washing
  • A dress – It was too thin and lightweight. I actually had a Marilyn Monroe moment in front of Wegmans
  • A bookcase – It sways!!

This leads to the next few crack commandments.

3.      Thou Shall Carry Items in Store

I read that Nordstrom moved to a new policy where they keep a few items in store to test and then you have to possibly purchase your size, color or other variance online. I guess this is better than nothing. I needed a new iPod. Not a Touch, not a Nano. An iPod Classic. This turned out to be difficult. I wanted iPod immediately as I was going on vacation. No one had any, well any for a good deal. The snarky dude youngster at Apple told me that no one buys iPods and therefore they never have deals. That is precisely why you should have deals.  I have been collecting music since Columbia House gave you 14 CDs for a penny. I cannot cram my extensive music collection into an overpriced non-iPhone. Okay, I still don’t understand why Touches exist. Two big boxes had deals. One had 10% off and another gave out a free accessory kit. Neither of them carried it in store. I sucked it up and ordered online. I wasn’t happy about it. But it did arrive in time.

4.      Thou Shall Properly Execute Ship to Store

Apparently, stores claim to have the availability to ship items to the store. Do you know how often this program actually works properly? Yea, me neither. I heard a person mention success once. When I purchased my previous computer, I was told I could ship to store. That seemed simple. I would order online and pick it up from a special desk in two days. I could pick it up during store hours which is traditionally longer than evil delivery people hours, yet not have to wait in line or track down an annoyed salesperson. This is wonderful. Do you know what happened? Well, I purchased the item from the shelf. Apparently the staff didn’t want to go all the way back to the loading dock to “find” my item. They suggested that they just grab one from the shelf while I wait behind other people waiting to purchase. What happened to my drive up, grab and go? Phooey. My coworker told me a hilarious story where they gave her the wrong item. They realized it after she left and asked if she could bring it right back. She couldn’t and the real purchaser ultimately had to wait. Imagine being that customer. Plus, most of the time Ship to Store is “unavailable” when I select it. My guess: see commandment  #3.

5.      Thou Shall Take Ugly Items Back at Minimal Expense to Me

When I purchased the ugly futon cover, I discovered to return ugly futon cover would cost me $15. Shipping to me, of course, was free. This is why I stick to online retailers with a physical store. I love running crappy items to the store with my little packing slip to get my money back. This gets tricky with an online only retailer. The worst is a certain superstore that shall remain nameless. It’s not the actual retailer but the third party suppliers that it partners with that often provide insufficient information, such as the address, to return easily. With rickety book case, it was heavy and I honestly didn’t want to lift it. So I still have it and frown at it when I walk buy it. I finally got rid of the comforter, only to buy another online that I was lukewarm about it. I need to do better.

I really only buy items online that are proven acceptable: cosmetics, skincare, or things too heavy to lift. That’s what evil deliverymen are for, despite their grousing. Now I just remember to kick the tires first. If there is no ability to test, it doesn’t get purchased. Unless of course, you would like a gently used bookcase… Then, I think that would be swell.

Stay Cute Mondays – Ten Crack Commandments

commandmentsEveryone has their own addiction and my addiction has always been getting a good deal. I just paid full price for a purse because my sale purse was defective. This was not a good day for me. I haven’t paid asking price for a retail item in about never. I always prized quantity over quality. This was exemplified even in childhood. My cousin and I would go to the candy store a few times a week. Each of our mothers gave us a dollar. My cousin, the spendthrift, would buy two things that always seemed to be more than a dollar. While I would rack up on multiple inexpensive items: Now or Laters, Pixie Stix, pop rings, Blow pops, Lemonheads and Bazooka Joes. And I always had money to give to my cousin so she could buy the good candy: candy bracelets, Snickers, Reese’s Cups. Those items were 55 cents a piece and so not worth it. I tried to convince her to only buy one candy bar and a bunch of small items, but she rarely did.

This continued into my adult life. I own entire outfits (okay some of these outfits just consist of dresses, which is actually my favorite kind of outfit) that cost less than my beloved luxury lip gloss. Hey, I am not tremendously cheap. That lip gloss costs between $25 and 30 dollars, depending on the brand. However, lately I feel my dealers, I mean suppliers, umm, retailers are failing me. Last Friday, I received a mailer advertising a free tote with purchase! A free tote! I worked conferences and conventions for three years: I own plenty of free totes. I own so many totes that I give them away to needy people struggling to carry multiple items.

I need these retailers to advance their efforts, if they plan to keep me on the roster. Therefore, I am issuing Ten Crack Commandments for retailers to maintain my business. You will thank me for it later. Here are the first two.

1.      Thou Shall Not Notify Me of Nonsense.

What is nonsense? About 90% of my current email comes from places where I purchased something in the past. Most of the correspondence is useless:

  • Telling me that there is new product (So)
  • Free shipping (Wow, $10 or less savings)
  • News reports about your product (Wow, Cosmo rated you a 10, now where’s my discount?)

Seriously. One evil retailer that will not be named toyed with my sanity by sending three – four emails a day reminding me that it is Christmas and kids like presents. I couldn’t shake them. I blocked them, but they kept changing their email address slightly. I did the remove me from your list button click. Finally, I just boycott them. I haven’t purchased anything from them since this unfortunate onslaught of messages.

2.      Correspondence Shall Only Include Coupons.

Yes, only real, substantial coupons, worth 30% off or more. I will make exceptions to emails and letters alerting me to sales where the entire store is 30% off or more. A sale, however, only meets this threshold at 30% and nothing lower, unless it is a luxury brand or a retailer that only has biannual sales. My skincare company does two coupons a year: one at 20% off and one for $20 off a $75 purchase. This is a big deal. This does count. Plus, retailers should understand that I am great at math. Giving me a $15 off a $75 purchase is only a 20% discount. Therefore, this doesn’t count. I will not have my time wasted with deleting your email. Just don’t send it in the first place.

Stay tuned for more.

Four Day Weekend

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday for a multitude of reasons: food, fellowship and Friday, black Friday. While this year’s Thanksgiving was quiet, I did make the most of the four-day weekend. Growing up with a shopaholic meant I spent many hours bored in department and discount stores while my mother scoured racks for clearance deals. My mother loved to tell people how much my outfits cost. This was back in the 80’s and 90’s when department stores had huge discounts on merchandise. I don’t know what changed but there aren’t discounts galore anymore. The ability to brag that an entire outfit including shoes cost less than $40 has diminished. I actually hated Black Friday. Waking up at 6 a.m. to shop until noon wasn’t my thing. However, something changed when I spent my first Thanksgiving in Maryland. I didn’t like it and I decided to shake the blues of being away from “home” by shopping. So I marched myself to WalMart at the crack of dawn and got a lovely $99 top of the line sewing machine and a $39 portable DVD player. And then headed to Sears for my first digital camera. Hilariously, I use none of these things currently. My sewing ability is limited to hemming garments though I keep saying I will take sewing lessons. The DVD player was used for exactly two bus trips to NYC before I determined it to be more of a nuisance (because I prefer to limit myself to one bag). I dropped the camera in a fountain in Vegas and it never recovered.

Black Friday is very controversial. My name brand devotees despise anything but the best so scoff at most doorbusters. I am not an electronic brand junkie. If the best television costs $800 and the second best costs $600, I will be buying the $600 one and spending the $200 for entertainment money. I prefer experiences to things. However, occasionally the best technology does go on sale on Black Friday (rarely and usually at deadly Wal-Mart, which has just devolved into chaos). Ultimately, I stick to household items, clothing and appliances. I know that there are actual deals to be had and I learned to love the thrill of getting a great deal.

Now, I have set rules for Black Friday shopping:

  1. No off-brands. I owned an Apex CRT television years ago that never worked and I returned it twice! This was difficult because it was a CRT and I had no upper body strength
  2. No Best Buy ever. People camp out and I don’t wait in line. Also, it takes forever to check out. I actually waited in line for 45 minutes without moving once before giving up. Occasionally, I go later in the morning and get the deals that the masses didn’t care about.
  3. Never wait in line. Yep, I arrive about 10 -15 minutes before opening, queue up and enter when the doors open. Placement in line rarely leads to the good items as you just need to be rather quick
  4. Know what things cost. Not everything is a deal. Some stores, mostly clothing stores, marked things 40% off but raise the original price so it’s really only 25% off
  5. So, understand trends. Some stores also have a 40% off sale on Black Friday, but make everything 60% off the weekend before Christmas. Sometimes the converse is true. I swear by leather cashmere-lined gloves which go for $80-90 dollars. On Black Friday, they are $30 and they never went lower than $40 all winter. The next year, I knew to buy more on Black Friday
  6. No fighting. I think this should go without saying
  7. Scope out the store prior to the sale. Some stores stock the merchandise the week of Black Friday and you can get good surveillance. If I know that there are only 20 crock pots, I will head for those first versus the 500 pajamas. This also helps when items are in weird places. Target once hid automatic wine openers on the top shelf and no one could find them. I knew where they were and got multiples for gifts one year. They were a hit

After all of that shopping, I treated myself to the Faith Evans concert. Despite my numerous times at the Howard Theater, I have never eaten there. I always eat before going anywhere, even meeting people for dinner. This is for self preservation. I understand the food wasn’t good, but the show was awesome. Faith, sang her face off, as the old folks say, and was so energetic. She also had the best, happiest backing band that I have seen in an extremely long time. I saw her a few years ago at For Sisters Only, which never looks right in the new Convention Center, and she was okay. I reckoned that maybe I should have seen her in her prime and shrugged it off. I actually tried once when I first moved to D.C. and the show was cancelled. That incident leads to one of my best stories of how I once spoke to the Vice President of Ticketmaster. Back to Faith, boy was I wrong. Maybe the venue, time and event didn’t lead to a good show at the Convention Center, but we definitely got the best of her last Friday. I left in awe or should I say with Tears of Joy. Too corny. Oh, okay.