Sunday, August 25, 2013

Great Sandals

Earlier this summer, I bought a pair of Merrell sandals on sale at REI.  I know so many people who have cranky feet, including me!  My feet like Merrells and Doc Martens.  Unfortunately, they're expensive.  I haven't bought a pair of Doc Martens in years.  I have the same two pairs that I've had for thirteen years.  I can find Merrells on sale sometimes.  I look at Marshalls, the Merrell outlet (which is not that much of a savings) and at REI at their clearance sales online.

I thought the sandals I bought would be on my feet all summer.  I was wrong.  I actually received a pair of sandals as a hand me down from one of my mom's friends that I like better!  

These are the sandals: 
They're called Dawgs.  The best price on them is at Target online.  They're $25 and come in a lot of different colors.  I've been wearing them for a month and love them.  They stay on so easily.  I wear size 8 1/2 shoes and the pair I have are 8s and they fit perfectly.  I do have flat feet, so I need something without arch support.  I couldn't find them the past week because they got pushed under my bed in a corner.  So, I was glad to find them yesterday morning and slip them back on!  

Monday, August 19, 2013

Shop Online or Go To The Store?

Shopping online can save money and time...  It can also end up taking up more of both.  One of the surprising assumptions I think we make is that you will get the best price on an item online, rather than in the store.  But, that's not necessarily true as I've often discovered...

This weekend we needed to get a bicycle for my husband so that we could go riding as a family.  We shopped around at several different stores.  I learned a lot in the process.

Here's what I learned:

1) The online price for a given store will not necessarily be the in-store price on the same item at the store.  The price for my husband's bike was 25% less than the price online.  That's a lot!

2) Bikes (especially for people who intend on riding a lot) should not be purchased online.  Go to the store and make sure the frame will fit you.  Different bike brands are sized differently for height.  My husband initially thought he'd be a large size frame because of his height, but he actually fit better on a medium size frame in the bike we ended up getting him.

3) Go to a bike store and get sized.  It's helpful to go to stores where people really ride and can tell you what you need to know about taking care of your bike.

4) Don't discount a brand of bike until you ride it.  Chris was really surprised that after trying out nine different bikes, it was the one he expected to like least that fit our needs best.  There are a lot of good brands of bikes out there.  Giant, Trek, Specialized, GT, Raleigh, Kona, Diamondback... It's surprising to me how many different brands of bikes there are.  

Right now (August/September) is when the new year's bikes are coming out, so sales are going on at various bike stores on the 2013 models.  REI's sale starts on Friday.  Performance Bike is having a sale now.  EMS is having a sale on their bikes.

So, that's a little of what we learned...  I'm going to choose to go to the store instead of buying online.  I can get helpful information, a better price, and a better/easier policy to deal with returns.  Both REI and Performance Bike stores will let you return a bike if it doesn't work out for you.  And when it comes to bikes...they're not exactly easy to put in the mail if there's a problem...

Friday, August 16, 2013

Baking Supplies: When is the extra cost is worth it?

I try to save money by buying generics when grocery shopping.  But, sometimes it's not worth it.  Years ago, my mom tried every kind of chocolate chip.  She tried generic ones from various stores plus brand names.  The only store brand chocolate chips that she liked were the ones from Trader Joe's. I've stuck with Nestle's or Costco's store brand ever since.

Cocoa is another one of those ingredients.  Last year, I finally found a fudge recipe that was easy to make.  First, I made it with Hershey's cocoa.  Then, I made it with some store brand cocoa from Aldi.  It wasn't the same at all!  I'm going to stick with Hershey's from now on.  It's too expensive to waste a batch of fudge on bad cocoa.  

Vanilla is the last one that comes to my mind.  Imitation vanilla or the real thing?  Imitation vanilla has a strong alcohol flavor, but the real thing doesn't.  I've stuck with the store brand vanilla from Costco or BJ's, for the seven years.  Costco has the best price.  A lot of people just leave it out of their cookies because it is an expensive ingredient.  When my mom moved here last year, she had been leaving it out for several years.  But, since I keep it in my home, she started using it again.  And I think she's glad she did.  

Flour, Sugars (brown, granulated, and powdered), salt, pepper, most spices, baking soda, baking powder, cornstarch...  I've never had any issues when it comes to generics with these ingredients, though.  So, I don't spend any extra money on them.  Store brands work great.  

I think that's the hard part about buying generics.  They're a great way to save money on groceries.  But, sometimes they can really affect the taste of what you're making!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Yay! A Tape Dispenser!

My mom, the girls, and I headed to a baby shower this morning with weird weather afoot.  It was that kind of day that threatens rain, but may just end up staying overcast the whole day through.  Anyways, my kids and I were heading back and I saw a garage sale.  I've realized over the past few years that it really only takes 1 garage sale to find a treasure...

And I did!  I found 18 onesies and outfits for a friend who's having a baby girl soon.  Best of all, they were the price I was looking for--25 cents each.  Yay! I also found a little pair of shoes for 50 cents.  Then, I came upon an older magna doodle for another friend for 25 cents. Yay!

Garage sales are a fun place to find treasures, but sometimes the treasures aren't things.  And that was the case this morning for me.  

I heard a woman's voice across the yard and it was as if I was hearing the voice of my friend Jenny.  I looked up and realized that this was her daughter--someone I'd been trying to find, so we could connect.  Our children are the same ages.  I was so excited!  I was blessed at the yard sale because I found gifts to give friends and I found someone I wanted to become friends with.  

With all that from just one garage sale, we all piled back in the car and went on.  There was one more yard sale I knew of on the way home.  So, we stopped to take a look.  At the last minute, I found a tape dispenser.  The lady accepted 25 cents for it.  I remarked to the woman who sold it to me that the Lord has provided so much for my family through yard saling.  I went on to explain that I had been looking for one all week at the stores I went to and had only found one for $5.  That $5 was spent on the clothes for my friend and the magna doodle.  What a blessing!  

In my mind, I came out way ahead this morning!