Category Archives: Shopping

Vivienne Tam: Giving Thanks and Feeling Worthy

vtstoreme

Do you know that feeling when you watch reality shows like “Extreme Home Makeover” and you see amazing things happen for people and you say out loud “that sort of stuff never happens to me”? Or how about the reality show “What Not to Wear”. Have you ever wondered what it would be like to wear really nice clothes instead of jelly smeared jeans? I know these sorts of shows well. I watch, I smile and I think “not in a million years”.

Well, during my time in NYC, I kind of had an “Extreme Home Makeover / What Not to wear” moment. A real one. I think it would have made a great reality show actually. And it all has to do with Vivienne Tam.

As you know by now, I spent 4 amazing days in New York City for fashion week thanks to the folks at Buzz Corps, HP and Vivienne Tam. The entire experience in itself was “reality show” worthy in that this sort of stuff *SO* does not happen to me. I spent every day thanking everyone around me. I thanked drivers (oh wait I hugged him too), door holders, hotel folks, waiters, even random people I passed on the streets for slightly stepping out of my way. I was so damn grateful to be there. Every crack and crevice I happened upon heard my gratitude, loud and clear.

But then something even more amazing happened to all the bloggers on this trip. “What? MORE?!” I hear you mumble. Yes, more. We were given a gift.

We started out mid morning in our shuttle not exactly knowing where we were headed. When we pulled up to Vivienne Tam’s boutique, it was familiar to us after having been there the night before for her show. So we stepped out of the bus and walked in, curious. The entire space had changed into a “store” with racks of her dresses lined up, mannequins dressed, shoes and bags on display. We all wandered around, happy to see the goods in daylight for better pictures and also excited to see more of her line. We snapped pics, picked out favorites, held them up to each other, laughed at the possibilities and moved along.

And then Alan Wang, the Vivienne Tam boutique manager and all around very nice man, got our attention. He stood at the front of the store and thanked us for being here this week. He told us how much Vivienne Tam truly appreciates our support and that she recognizes the important work we do. And as a symbol of her gratitude, she would like to give us a gift. Each of us were welcome to pick out one dress. To keep.

Blank stares. It dawns on us. Mouths drop. Rushed whispering. Quiet squeals. And then me, “Can I hug you right now?”

I am not sure what he said next (although I remember that he diplomatically ignored my invitation for a hug, smart man), but it had begun to sink in. Kind of. We could pick a dress in that room to take home. To wear. To have. To feel fabulous in.

And we were off. Some spending time carefully considering. Others leaping on the handbags and shoes (understandably). And then there was me who grabbed one dress and dashed for the dressing room. What if they changed their minds? Quick. Let me get this on and out the door before they decide this isn’t such a great idea.

I wound up with the second dress I tried on. I truly felt amazing in it. I ran around the store in it. I teared up. Three times. Shamelessly. My friend Moosh in Indy saw my Hanes her Way and that’s cool by me. This was serious business. I got an amazing dress. A Vivienne Tam dress. Glamorous pieces of clothing like this just don’t exist in my life. But now one does. (And it is laughing at everything else in my closet as I write this.)

So what happened next? Just wait. Yes, there’s more.

That night we were welcome to attend another event back at the Vivienne Tam boutique. This was the official launch of the Vivienne Tam Hp Mini. Another night on the town? What better excuse to don our fab dresses. And that we did.

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I also brought my VT HP Mini with me. I just figured it would be good to have it since that evening was all about it.

And so what happens? Vivienne Tam arrives, speaks to her guests and then offers to sign anyone’s computers. So now, under my right hand in the bottom corner of my Mini, is Vivienne Tam’s signature. She signed it for me and you know what she said to me? She said I was so beautiful in her dress.

Wow. This mom with jelly smeared jeans and a leaking sippy cup in her purse could be beautiful.

It was a moment. To be sure.

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And that’s what the dress and the computer have come to represent. Women running around managing the insanity of their lives, elbow deep in dirty boy socks and sticky pots of mac and cheese DO deserve nice things. A dress like this, a computer like this – well, they are simply special things. Little bits of fabulous that remind you that you are actually “worthy” – socks and mac n cheese aside.

So I had that “What not to Wear” moment. And staying true to the thanking theme of my week, I thanked Vivienne Tam that night. I thanked her for making me feel more beautiful and special than I had in years.

My gratitude is endless, my heart is full and my sense of beautiful is in check.

For that (just one more time) I say: Thank you.

vtandme

For more information about the HP products I review, please visit my HP Update page.

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Filed under Blog love, Bloggers, Gifts, Giving respect, HP, Identity crisis, Mothers, One of those moments, Parenting, Shopping, Stuff I have, Techie Stuff, Women

Keeping it Green this Holiday Season

led

While getting caught up in the fun of the holidays, it is very easy to throw your usual rules aside and go all out – hoping to ensure the perfect holiday gathering for your family. We go on endless shopping sprees, the budget is long forgotten and so are some of our better “green” habits – all in the name of holiday cheer. The holidays don’t have a reputation of excess for nothing. However, here are some ways to try and keep your cool and stay green without having to forget the fun of the season too.

Decorating

Some of us will be buying Christmas trees this year to decorate. If you do decorate a tree, consider buying a potted tree and planting it after the season has passed. If that isn’t possible, be sure to contact your local Waste Management Program to find out how to recycle your Christmas tree. Also check Earth 911 for local Christmas tree recycling options.

When it’s time to string up the lights in my home, my inner Clark Griswold comes shining through. However, this year, if you happen to need new lights anyway, consider buying LED holiday lights to save energy. Or if you don’t have to buy new lights, be sure to keep your current lights on a timer so they are off during the day and when you go to sleep.

If you are looking for new ornaments this year, All Free Crafts suggests making ornaments out of recycled Christmas cards. I love to make salt dough ornaments with my children and those treasures will stay on my tree for years to come. Don’t forget about the extra things around the house that might spruce up your tree too like left over ribbon, restrung beads and buttons and even stringing good old fashioned popcorn garland for your tree.

Holiday Cards

It has never been easier to send e-cards or virtual greetings. I use Hallmark Smilebox to send festive slideshows, greetings and even movie clips. If you still prefer sending mailed cards, consider buying cards made on recycled paper this year. Some options are Cards Direct, Cards for Causes and Green Field Paper.

Cooking

Part of the holidays always includes cooking traditional meals for friends and relatives. Plan ahead and try to be a green chef this year. For example, try to buy organic foods when possible, think about some vegetarian meals and buy free range poultry and eggs. Another fun tip is to track down a local farm and buy your fruits and vegetables locally – they taste better and are usually more affordable.

Green Gifts

Gift giving is on everyone’s minds right now. Think carefully about what you are giving and why your are giving it. Grabbing as much “stuff” as possible just to wrap and stick under the tree isn’t a smart idea. Rather, buy one or two quality items, than a bunch of less well made, more likely to break items. Also, think about buying things that are personal, make some gifts and put your heart into the giving process. A hand knit scarf is always more valued than another boring tie.

Another inexpensive way to buy green gifts is to hop onto Craig’s list or shop in consignment stores. Recycling and saving a dollar never came so easy.

Finally, here are some links to articles or websites with green gift ideas: EDF.org, NRDC.org, Ecomall.com, and Treehugger.com. One of my favorites? Consider buying your loved one some poopoopaper. A fun gift and it’s certainly, er, been recycled.

Gift Wrapping

When I was a child, it was inevitable that as we opened our gifts a relative would shout out “I forgot one!” And they would run off and return with a gift wrapped in a towel or pillow case. We used to laugh about it then but now it really isn’t such a bad idea after all! If possible, try to make your own wrapping paper this year by using beautifully decorated paper bags, magazines, old posters, old maps and even the tried and true funny pages. And make my family proud, an old piece of cloth might even look beautiful with the right ribbon and sprucing up.

Another thought? Wrap presents that go together in one package. Also, try to avoid buying gifts that are too large that would take extra wrapping – they probably have too much packaging in them anyway.

If you do need to wrap some gifts in paper, track down some recycled gift wrapping.

Shipping

I know I still have to get my gift boxes sent off. When you do, try to find old boxes to mail your gifts, be sure to avoid the plastic peanuts and use old newspaper and other pieces from your recycle bin to pack your items. Sometimes I save my sons used ziplock bags and then blow them up for cushion in the boxes.

Finally, you should know that the USPS is actually doing an excellent job of being green about their shipping. They have eco-friendly packaging and even soy based inks and non toxic adhesives. To learn more, go check out their site.

Cross posted at Type A Moms.

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Filed under Getting green, Gifts, Holidays, Raising Awareness, Reccomendations, Recycling, Shopping, Thinking outside the box, Traditions, Unnecessary stuff

Finding Thanksgiving Cheer for my Five Year Old

As I flipped to the “smacking my gums, adjusting my spectacles” “easy listening” station in the car earlier today, I realized it had now become the “24 hours of Christmas songs, all day every day” station. Oh. Well. Ok. So I jammed out to a little “Feliz Navidad” while I pulled into the Publix parking lot. T. was quiet (but that’s nothing new after a busy day of Kindergarten). The boys and I walked hand in hand across the parking lot, past the Salvation Army guy ringing his bell, and into the store. The monstrous, floor to the ceiling display of Santa, Mrs. Claus, presents, candy canes, and the rest went unnoticed by me while I yanked out one of those damn “car” grocery carts (you know the kind, the ones for kids that knock every box of cereal off its display within a 12 yard radius). But all of this mid November Christmas hoopla did NOT go unnoticed by my oldest boy.

“Mommy. Where are the Thanksgiving decorations?”

“Wha…?” The cart had almost knocked over a display of flowers and I was focused on maneuvering this “son of a biscuit” cart out of the way.

“Mommy, there are lots of decorations and songs for Halloween. And lots and LOTS of decorations and songs for Christmas. But what about Thanksgiving? Why don’t we decorate for that?”

“Um, heres a can of yams on display, what about that?”

“And lights on houses?! Or blown up Turkeys?! Why don’t we get those?”

He’s right. Why does Thanksgiving get the shaft every year? All halls were 100% decked everywhere we’ve been recently and Thanksgiving is still a week away. Not a Pilgrim or cornucopia to be seen.

“What kind of Thanksgiving songs are there, mama??”

Oy. I guess I can’t explain how badly big corporations want us to get excited about Christmas right now. Ranting and half crazed, they are spreading Christmas cheer all around us hoping to coax maybe a few more dollars out of our pockets. Hoping maybe we’ll fan the dying embers of our economy with one more toy for junior. Lord knows, I am certainly one to get caught up in the “gotta make Christmas perfect” fervor.

And don’t you think they HAVE decorated a little earlier this year? I wouldn’t blame them. We need some tidings of joy around here. We need some cheerful spending and a jollier economic confidence. We need to forget about this whole damn mess we’re all in.

But I guess I can’t explain that to him.

“That’s a good question, hon. Stores really don’t make as much money decorate as much as they do for Christmas, do they.”

I am wondering if Turkeys cost more money than they did, or if gifts were given, or if there was same insane hype to make that day perfect for your child – I wonder if there WOULD be decorations as far as the eye could see. Orange and yellow lights strung up, pumpkin pie songs on the radio, or even a “Santa-esque” Pilgrim rising up out of the pumpkin patch to deliver toys to every little boy and girl… oh wait, I am mixing all my holidays up royally now.

“Hey! You know what? There IS a Thanksgiving song! I’ll play it for you when I get home!”

“Yay! OK Mommy!”

And this is what we played over our ravioli tonight.

(“My brother likes to masturbate with baby oil”. WHOOPS. Earmuffs son, tra la la la la la, fiddle dee dee… Let’s put on “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” instead…)

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Filed under Cheesy stuff I like, Deep thoughts, Economy, Gifts, Holidays, Materialism, Money, Parenting, Shopping

Get Yer Superhero Cape (and other cool stuff) Here.

Hat in hand -and I don’t even wear a hat, unless its a red sox hat, go sox, even though they lost, but I digress… Hat in hand, eyes on the floor, head bowed – I step before my wonderful readers to officially apologize for being a slow poster these days. (Shaking my head at myself.) My last two posts have had days in between them! Not good, not good at all. But I promise you, I have had a good excuse! I will officially give you the scoop once I am officially official and officially up and running. 😉

 

However! I do have some good stuff to share with you right now. See, I love supporting moms who are getting it done on their own – starting businesses from nothing, following a passion, bringing home the bacon while raising their sprouts. I want to get up on soapboxes for these women and give them a WOOT WOOT! So, being the blogger that I am, I will scramble up on top of this post to declare my support for a few moms trying to get some momentum with their terrific businesses.

(And full-disclosure, I haven’t gotten any freebies for promoting them either. I just think their stuff is cool.)

Moms Rock On: Cute Mommy t-shirts

A whole bunch of my playgroup and music class moms wear T-shirts from this local Tampa mommy. She sells T-shirts with such great sayings as: “Veggie Enforcer” or “Sleep Deprived” or “I make a mean PG&J”. Please check them out. And hurry to order! They are offering free shipping in October!

Baby Pop: Get a personalized super hero cape! (See them in picture above.)
Ilinap from Dirt and Noise recently bought a personalized cape and mask from this site for her son. How adorable are these ideas? This mom uses high quality environmentally friendly materials too.

Hippoes Toes: Inspired by Africa!

This mom brings us a line of clothing inspired by South Africa, using South African materials. She believes in supporting fair trade and the Bug Zoo clothing line employs moms in South Africa to make high quality products. Please check out her site and products! (You know anything supporting South Africa always gets my attention.)

Your Baby for President!

Do you think your son or daughter has what it takes to run for President some day? Get them their own personalized presidential tee or onesie at this site.

My Punchbowl– The better option over Evite.

A friend forwarded this site to me recently telling me someone from our college works for this company and I should really try using is over Evite. While it looks like a bunch of guys (not moms) on the management team, they could be dads, right? And this is certainly a new product just starting up so I am giving it my props here. I really do like it and love the design options over Evite. Check it out!

Well, that’s about all I have up my sleeve… for now. More later. And I am also going to try not to get all political all the time around these parts. I used to consider this blog a nice combination of various mommy topics – politics included. Now it seems more of a political blog with some various mommy topics included. I suppose its a sign of these times but I would like more balance in my life and my blog. I swear, I will reclaim my sanity… on November 5th.

Cheers everyone!

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Filed under Africa, Blog love, Reccomendations, Shopping, Uncategorized, Working moms

A child’s first lesson in heartbreak over stuff.

It all started out with the best of intentions. When T. turned five last week, his grandmother sent him a crisp $20.00 bill to spend on whatever he would like. What a sweet and smart gesture! A true acknowledgement that he was a big boy – five! – and old enough to have his own money. T. and I agreed that he could take his money to Toys R Us where he could buy a special toy all by himself. So, today, holding onto some left over birthday cheer, we headed over to the recently opened Toys R Us up the road. When we got out of the car, he was absolutely fired up. He jumped up and down beside me, his $20.00 held tight in his hand. And I was excited too, I thought that he might get a good lesson about money and how to spend it. This would be fun!

Walking into Toys R Us still holds the same magic for me as it did when I was a kid. Like something out of a dream, bright primary colored toy boxes were laid out before us, as far as the eye could see, from floor to ceiling. My heart still skips a beat when I pass that wonderful candy pink aisle packed with every kind of cool Barbie stuff. I remember standing in that aisle with my own birthday money, carefully weighing my options, giddy, silly and wanting.

I asked T. where he would like to look first. He said “Star Wars stuff” so we headed there. He went straight up to the $49.00 Darth Vadar/Death Star transformer. “What about this?” “Sorry hon, too expensive.” And then pointed out what things were ok. He touched all the boxes, considering everything but he seemed a bit overwhelmed. So I said that maybe we should walk around a bit and see what else there was.

When we stopped at the Thomas the tank aisle, without any hesitation, he picked up a starter train set for $19.99 and said “I want this!” Perfect! Ok! Let’s go check out.

…”But what about the Star Wars things??”

“Um, no, hon, this train set costs $20.00. You’ve spent all of your money.”

And that’s when it happened. I could practically hear the audible snap. Greed swooped in and clutched my son’s usually rational brain – a beast took over.

“NOOOOOOO!!!!!!!! I WANT THE STAR WARS THINGS!!! I WANT THE TRAIN THINGS!!!! I WANT EEEVVVVEEERRREEEETHIIIIIING!!!!!”

He promptly burst into tears and slumped down on the platform displaying all the bikes. While C. ran up and down the bike aisle, with a bike helmet on, T. sobbed. I explained that he couldn’t have everything. $20.00 will only buy him somethings or one thing. Not everything. He was crushed. He was overwhelmed. The decision was impossible.

We finally went with the train set. As we went to check out, we steered clear of the Star Wars aisle for fear he would be set off once again. But what really made me sad was that he wasn’t giddy and excited about his purchase. He seemed resigned. Instead of getting a fun new toy, he looked like he had actually lost something. His eyes were still wet, his face was sad and walked behind me slowly. This was not the fun adventure I thought it would be. The only lesson he learned was there is so much he couldn’t have. Granted, that is a very important lesson for any child, but again, it wasn’t exactly how I thought the experience would go down when we walked in there a half hour prior.

As I have mentioned before, I try to limit too much stuff in our lives. Call it being cheap, being green, or saving space, but we honestly don’t have half the toys his friends do. And even the toys T. has, he only plays with them now and then. T. has never been a stuff guy. Presents are fun to open but he’ll leave something in its box for days and only vaguely find interest when I get his attention and ask him if he wants to open it with me. He is usually happier with a book, playing a board game, playing outside with a ball or in the sprinkler. Of course, he loves T.V. but not too much. He has always seemed “just right” with his need for any sort of excess. He has never hoarded, he has always shared well, and – shockingly – he has never begged or pleaded or demanded a toy (ice cream, yes, a toy no). Until today.

So excuse me as I unleash the mommy guilts within. But, today, I feel like I ruined a little bit of him. I let money become something exciting. I let the stuff become a fun thing to get and find and need. My heart went a little cold when he said “I want everything.” I know this is a human reaction. We all want a shopping spree. We all get excited over stuff. We all get bummed out when we can’t afford something we want desperately. Its normal, he needs to understand how buying things works and understand the value and limits of money. And, I assure you, there will be more birthday money in his future, we will set out for Toys R Us once again, and we will keep working on this lesson until it is good and learned. But, I guess, just to see his first moment where he is actually heartbroken over not getting some sort of stuff… It just didn’t feel so good.

And here’s the kicker. After lunch we pulled out the train, got it all set up (making a figure eight with train tracks is no easy feat, I mean it) and now its sitting there untouched on our family room floor. A few minutes ago, I asked him “What about your train, T.? Why don’t you play with that for a little bit?” “Its making me boring, mommy” Oh o.k. Terrific.

Stuff. We want it. We stress over it. We use money we don’t even have to buy it. We finally get it, hold it up like a trophy fish scooped out of mall’s ocean. When, most of the time, we really don’t even need it.

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Filed under Birthdays, Materialism, Money, Parenting, Shopping, Toys, Unnecessary stuff

Washer Love

A few weeks ago, I ended a very important relationship. Actually, he ended it, he just gave up on me. After almost three years together, he finally stopped putting any effort into what we had. Sure, when we met, he had been around the block a few times and had been a little used and abused. The rust, the flimsy parts, he really just wasn’t well put together. I SHOULD have known. All the signs were there. And then, without warning, he stopped doing his best move… his spin cycle. Whirlpool packed it in on me and left me and my piles, heaps, MOUNTAINS of stinky boy clothes to sit alone in rejected misery.

Well, come on now. You can’t leave a woman like me, with the laundry needs I have, high and dry like that. No sir. So, I’ll admit it. Over the past couple weeks, I have played the field with a cute washer down the road. It was fun. We had wild, overloaded, nonstop Sunday afternoons together. Honestly, my friend Veronica was the instigator. She told me not to feel guilty about it, I NEEDED to do this, I would feel better the rest of the week if I just got it done. But, ultimately, he wasn’t there for me either. Not really. He just wasn’t ready for a long term commitment. I needed a man willing to go the long haul, to be there night and day – everyday. Call me pushy but my washer had to move in with me, no questions asked – and as soon as possible. I guess I came on a little strong. And it was over between us.

So, realizing that playing the field was not the answer, I knew it was time to find someone new. Brand spanking new, in fact. And, I am a tricky woman to match up with. I have high expectations and endless demands. I don’t want some golddigger machine whose going to show up pimped out with flashy buttons and chrome detailing, and then expect me to support that kind of lifestyle. And I don’t want a 3.0 cu small tub man either. Hell no. I need a big capcity – tough, able to stand up to the mess I’m in and fully prepared for a lot of agitation. C’mon, lets just face it. I have a lot of dirty laundry and my new washer needs to be ready to bring it.

So, what do women in their thirties do these days when they are looking for the right partner? They get online, of course. I used all the comparing tools and read up on all of the fancy washers out there. I even sought out my family for advice and support. There were so many possibilities. How would I ever find a future partner to agitate, soak and spin my days with?

But suddenly, I knew I had found my man. His name is Kenmore Elite Oasis. This morning, he was dropped off at my house: unboxed, shiny, and standing taller than his new wingman, my old dryer. He has a huge capacity, he is very water efficient, he’s straight forward and easy to understand. Within in the first couple hours here, he had already finished two loads of laundry, spun cleanly out in his shiny new basin. This guy isn’t afraid to work hard for me. He’s quiet too, HE never complains loudly so the whole house knows when he’s been asked to do a load of laundry. I know that Kenmore (I like to call him Kenny) is here for the long haul. Do you know what else? He just looks good, you know? Yeah, yeah, so I said I didn’t want a lot of fuss and fancy bling complicating the works… but he’s got some really cool light up buttons and sweet extra functions. I didn’t ask for them, but he has them anyway. And I likey.

So thats our story so far. Everything is still very new and exciting. I suppose we have yet to get through the honeymoon phase. But for now, I am so happy and grateful to have this huge, stacked, gorgeous washer in my life. Check in with us in a couple years. Who knows, maybe there will be kids in our future. I have always wanted a bouncing baby dishwasher with a hard water filter. And then maybe a little brother refrigerator to keep her company. It could happen. With Kenny and his slick new light up dials, it seems anything is possible.

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Filed under Shopping, Stuff I have

Coupon Karma

When my second son was only a few weeks old, I found myself in the baby aisle at Target trying to wrap my head around the cost of baby formula. (Yes, yes, I was breast feeding 95% of the time, but formula allowed a little something I knew very little of now and again… freedom.)  A large can of Similac was going to cost me $25. It just seemed outrageous. But suddenly, there it was. Propped up against all of those blue cans was a $5.00 coupon for a can of formula. Someone had just left it there and now that can was going to cost me only $20!  I looked around, was there anyone to thank? I really was so grateful, every dollar counts and this counted for so much.  From that moment on, I have sworn to and practiced something I like to call “Coupon Karma”. 

So now, every Sunday, as I pour through the coupon section of the paper, I clip madly away. I have all of my coupons sorted out. Coupons for me, coupons for my friend down the street that I promptly drop off in her mail box, and the “good” coupons (especially for baby supplies) that I don’t need that are saved for donation. As I go about my shopping later in the week, I pull out coupons and then place them accordingly. If I am organized, it hardly takes any time. And then, if I get lucky, I even find coupons for items I need that I didn’t have a coupon for! Maybe Coupon Karma is catching on! The most rewarding part of this practice is actually handing over a coupon to an unsuspecting fellow customer. They are, of course, surprised. But then, they are really truly remarkably grateful someone took the time to help them save 55c. I know, its just 55c. But its 55c I know I’d want back in my pocket in the same situation. No need for thanks ma’am, just doing my job. Coupon Karma – try it out yourself… 

Anyway, here’s the deal. I really don’t have a whole lot to give, being home with my two boys. But this silly little practice seems like something I can give back to the universe and offer as thanks for that $5.00 I saved a couple years back. And maybe this idea appeals to you too. Whatever it might be, pay it forward. We could all use a little good karma (of any sort) now and again.

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Filed under Money, Self-analysis, Shopping