Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Best Places To Buy Stuff 'Round Here

I've got secrets about where to get the best deals. I don't spend like I used to, but with the creativity I've put into finding what I need (ok, want sometimes), I still get a shopping fix here and there. ;) I will note now, if you are thrift store phobic then stop reading now. You wont like it... but I tell ya sometimes it feels good to slum.

Which brings me to store #1:

Goodwill Outlet (at the end of Casino Rd near Airport Rd- I know I saw one in Seattle once too...).

Oh my this store is something and I think I'm addicted. It's slightly embarrassing. It opened up maybe 6 or 7 months ago I believe, and it sells stuff BY THE POUND. Cheaply by the pound I might add. Now you have to be in treasure hunting mode or else don't waste your time- everything is dumped into giant bins and you have to dig through it (and I will say, some of the characters you come across there are slightly psychopathic- wonder if they think the same of me?) But when you find a pair of designer jeans for $0.75, you will know the high I speak of. So here are the things I recommend buying here:

1) Clothing. The stuff that goes to this store is the stuff that doesn't sell at the normal Goodwill. Think: Originally Stupidly Overpriced (you know you think this when you go to the normal thrift store anymore. Stuff's cheaper at Ross). I have found SOOOOOO much amazing clothing for myself, Jake (less for men unfortunately, far more stuff for women), and the kids.

2) Electronics. Oh you'll die when you see the prices on electronics. I should mention that my children have a tv in their room with a dvd player. I am not the sort of mom that hovers, and so unfortunately we have gone through a shit ton of dvd players. I'm serious. Like at least 10. Seriously. So anyways, dvd players are $2 or $3, they always have them. TV's are about $5 maybe (you wont find that flat screen- but trust me when I say for kids this is good. We put a $500 flat screen in the kids room. It now lives at the local dump. They're not sturdy enough for kids... like mine anyway). (Ahem- just remembered another funny little blog called Shit My Kids Ruined

3) Furniture? This is iffy, but you can sometimes find great things. I got what appeared to be a brand new highchair for $6. I like to repaint and do random art projects with my furniture, so better on a $5 table then a new one ;)

4) Books. Soft covers are like $0.25 and hard covers are like $0.35. I will give you all fair warning, don't try to buy books when they put out the new bins. People are insane, stand far away.

5) Toys. I promise your kids wont die if you buy them used toys- wipe them suckers down with some bleach water and let the kids go at it. I am picky, but plastic is plastic. If it's beat to shit or is missing pieces it's a no (to Eli's misfortune on occasion). I have found a light saber and a blaster that probably didn't cost $1 together- this was an hour after Eli was panicking in Target that I wouldn't buy him the $30 light saber in the toy section (it was the same EXACT one), all models of plastic noisy things that kids like and are normally at least $20 each, I just today got Eli this Robot that was OVER $100 last Christmas at Target (probably cost me $1- that bitch was heavy), we've gotten tonka trucks, train sets, etc etc etc.

(Found another cool blog with a story on "the bins"- read here:

It's not glamorous, but damn it's kinda fun.

Store #2:

Dollar Tree!!! (They're everywhere!)

I looooooove me some dollar tree! I shit you not, I go 2 or 3 times a week. If you've never been to dollar tree, you are spending too much on stuff you shouldn't be spending too much on. Now I'm not talking any old dollar plus store- I go into those occasionally, but I always return to dollar tree. Here are the things I regularly buy there:

1) Candles. They burn slow, they don't stink, whatev. I bought some at Ross the other day and lit them all, and the Ross candle was dead by the end of the night, but the Dollar Tree candle was burning strong! I will sometimes branch out and get candles elsewhere, but this is my go to place for stock candles.

2) Cleaning products. Oh hallelujah it is so much cheaper to buy cleaning products at the dollar store. I get basically everything there for cleaning minus garbage bags (you just really don't want to skimp on garbage bag quality).

3) If you have animals, they have animal stuffs- food, collars, toys etc etc.

4) Light bulbs, batteries, tools, that sort of thing. Superglue! I desperately needed superglue the other day and was about to buy it at Albertsons (God I hate Albertsons with a fiery passion, avoid shopping there if possible). It was $5 at Albertsons for a one pack, and next door at Dollar Tree it was $1 for a three pack.

5) Kitchen towels, utensils, foil, tupperware, etc etc.

6) Holiday things! Just spent $20 getting everything I need for Halloween. I will be back to stuff stockings during Christmas and buy all of my wrapping paper, tape, etc there.

Did I mention they have pregnancy tests? I've sure been through my share of those puppies. I'm going to start telling people we're Catholic.

And good golly you wouldn't guess what I saw there the other day? Go on guess.... warming lube! I was trying desperately to find a photo online to post here, but instead I found this review on yelp for dollar tree:

"What about warming lube? That shit costs more than cocaine if you go to Target or The Leather Den. You want to know how much it costs at Dollar Tree?


Now a last note on Dollar Tree- I have thus far been a snob and not bought food there. I was speaking to the lovely sales girl yesterday though, and it turns out that because they are corporately owned and operated that everything has to follow protocol (not like some of these tiny dollar stores with expired food- barf). I may go out on a limb and see what I see for food next time I'm in- I did notice they had Oreos last time I was there... :)

Store #3:

Target. Ok gahhh, I've heard a bit about them supporting some anti-gay agenda. I am quite annoyed and hope they fix this problem quickly. I did some research during the last presidential election about which companies supported liberal politics and which supported conservative politics so I could buy accordingly, and I remember Target supporting liberals so this is like a punch in the face! I don't want to put my face down and pretend I didn't hear anything, but I do like Target :( Anywho, assuming you can stomach spending money there any longer, here are the things that are priced best at Target:

1) Paper Products: Toilet paper (I like Charmin Ultra Strong!), garbage bags, Target Brand diapers (they are as good as Huggies and better than Pampers imho), diaper wipes (only Huggies wipes for us- they're much thicker than any others). Paper towels if you must, but also remember it's not too hard to use a rag instead and save a bit of garbage. One cleaning product you might buy here over Dollar Tree is laundry soap (but still get your dryer sheets at Dollar Tree). I normally go for either Arm and Hammer concentrated or All Free and Clear. If you have infants, please stop wasting your money on Dreft and just get All Free and Clear. It has no dyes or perfumes in it. Problem solved.

2) Food. Not all food, only some foods. Soda (which I'm not allowed to have anymore, whine), and cereal are the first two that come to mind. Much less pricey here than the normal grocery store. Sometimes if they are out of a product, they'll give you another similar product for something like 50% off (they normally have the little red tags under them). What I do is I'll just do a quick scan down the aisles to see where the red tags are and take a looksee in case the alternative is something I'd like to purchase at half off. Don't ever buy dairy products here- terribly overpriced.

Store #4:

Fred Meyer. There's not a ton of raging deals here, but one close to my heart comes to mind.

1) Salmon. Cheapest place in the world almost ever to buy wild caught salmon. If you buy an entire fish and have them filet it, it's oftentimes $2.99 a pound. You wont find a better deal anywhere else.

Now Fred Meyer will try to suck you in with it's constant sales. These sales are rarely worth wasting your time. I will scan the additional 50% off housewares (if you need house paint, look at the shelf of mis-tints), but don't bother with their overpriced clothes most of the time. You can find kids clothes cheaper. Now *sometimes* they go take an additional 75% off, and this would be the time to dig around and see what you see. I'd say mostly don't waste your time with the overpriced furniture either, and good god don't buy picture frames here.

Store #5:

Ross. This is if you of course can handle the lines, the mess, and the screaming children. Some days I can, some days I can't. Try to use the bathroom before you get there- ick.

Things to buy at Ross:

1) Clothing and shoes and housewares. Obviously.

There's not much else to say about Ross, but something I will throw out there that I've just recently come across is that they have a good amount of organizational stuffs for super cheap! I got this thing that goes under my bed and stores my shoes (freeing up the entire upper shelf in my closet- hurray!), and these other doo dads that hang over your doors and have pockets (in my office I keep my scissors and tape and all that jazz in one of those guys). I never had looked through that stuff before, but I'm nesting with a vengeance and I'm glad I was able to find good prices on such things! They're quite a bit more at Target.

Store #6:

Pawn Exchange. This is a new one for me, but darnit if I haven't found some great deals on things that I've in the past spent ungodly amounts of money on. Namely:

1) Video game consoles, games, and controllers. I bought a Wii controller there a bit ago for $20, and the Wii controller I bought at Target a few weeks prior to that was something like $75 with the nun chuck. No seriously. Games are anywhere from $5 to $20, never more. The reason I've found this all out started the day I was going to light Game Stop on fire. Eff that place. Rapists, all of them. I literally bought a $60 game, and once it was beat a few weeks later I went to trade it in for something else. They gave me $10, and turned around and sold the used copy for $50. That's bullshit in my book.

Anyways, moving on:

2) Musical instruments. Self explanatory. They're in reasonable shape, you don't really need a brand spanking new guitar most of the time. We've gotten some good deals.

3) Tools. I have personally never bought a tool here, but if I needed an expensive type tool, here is where I would go.

4) Vacuums? I just bought a vacuum there for $30 that would've cost me $150 at Target new... works great.

As far as full on grocery shopping goes, I stick with Safeway for many reasons that aren't all price related. They're cheaper than some (Haggen, QFC), but they have competition in their price range as well. The ambiance is nice, the people aren't ghetto (cough Albertsons cough), I like the shopping carts, there's almost always a Starbucks inside... you get the idea. I used to make the random trip to Grocery Outlet (or Ghettoville as Carly and I used to call it about 10 years ago), but even they seem more pricey than they used to be.

I get the feeling I'm forgetting some good places... but this should start you off on your treasure hunting experience! Share any secrets you know in comments!!!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Things That Are Blue....

So after having so much fun yesterday with ten steps photo project (and after my midwife and Jake getting on me to exercise more today), I decided that more "photo walks" may be in order (fun, exercise, etc etc). I googled around for some other ideas and one of the easier ones I came across was to pick a color, and go looking for things in that color. I asked Jake to give me a color before I left and he said blue. Sounded easy enough. Good goddess there are not a lot of blue things outdoors around here! Sure, I saw my share of blue cars and houses, but that didn't seem terribly interesting (though there is one blue house in here). I was almost assaulted by an angry squirrel along the way, and it took me about a two mile walk just to get the things below! Definitely worked my being observant, and I succeeded in sweating when I came across an angry hill....

So I know there's nothing blue in this photo... hear me out. I saw a very blue blackberry. I started thinking that was a giant cop out since I did a blackberry shot yesterday. Suddenly, I hear an angry animal sound... I look over and there is a squirrel in the blackberry bush talkin' s right to me. I took a handful of photos of him. I kept getting closer for a better shot, though it did occur to me that if I got too close he may get angry and attack my face (he never did stop making what I'm believing is the angry squirrel noise at me). The things I do for photography.

Ok, I know this hardly counts, but there's a blue blanket in the back of the car which you can barely see because of the glare. Go team blue.

I'm going to have to give myself a C for the day. Blue was a toughie. I think I saw more things that were burnt orange.

More on another day...

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

10 Steps- Take One!

So my dear friend Jenny, who is a photographer her ownself, told me quite some time ago about this fun little photography project. I finally got to try it out today and had a good time doing it! Here's the gist- you grab your camera, you take ten steps, and you take a photo. My guess is this is supposed to make you more thoughtful about your surroundings and as a reminder that things aren't always what they seem. This is a bit complicated for me, firstly because I'm a bisy backson (read Tao of Pooh), secondly because I am far better at photographing human beings then items or landscape. I should also note that my new apartment doesn't have the most attractive grounds in the entire world and I didn't want to wander far, as I have more shit to do shortly (bisy backson syndrome).

I tried to stay true to the formula and go only ten steps and try to find something interesting (very complicated).
So without further adieu, here are the 10 steps shots I got today. (I took the project further and did an entire small walks worth of photos).

Very fun! Stay tuned for the next Ten Steps Session! Perhaps I'll wander somewhere more interesting ;)

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

How To Drive Like You Just Had A Lobotomy

So it's occurred to me that probably half of the population with a driver's license should've never been given one in the first place. So if you and a friend are standing in the same room and you know how to drive, that means your friends a moron and shouldn't be on the road. If you're a good friend you should probably sneak into their wallet and steal their license. It's for their own good really. I couldn't possibly remember every instance where I felt like I was driving next to, in front of, or behind someone who just had a lobotomy, but there are certainly instances that crop up regularly. If you fall under any of these categories, you should probably carpool or call a cab.

How To Drive Like You Just Had A Lobotomy:

1. Drive in the wrong lane. Go 50 in the far left lane and 95 in the far right lane. It'll be rad and everyone will love you. Do it.

2. Tailgate. It's an awesome idea. Only 40% of car accidents are caused by tailgating, so you'll probably be ok. Not only that, but tailgating will probably cause you to get where you're going quicker! Good call!

3. Bobbing and weaving during RUSH HOUR deadlocked traffic. Once again, this will most likely get you where you're going way faster! You only have to swerve in front of 3 people almost causing many car pile ups to get one car length in front of me, and everyone will think you're a raging douchebag! Cool!

4. Be an overly passive driver. We all have that friend... ugh... you know who I'm talking about. She (yes I said she, eat it, 99% of these people are women), ahem, she drives like everyone on the road left the house today just to get into a car accident with her. You'll never make a left hand turn out of anywhere and it's probably going to take twice as long to get where ever you're going. You'll go 20 miles under the speed limit the whole time. Not only that, but because she's so frightened, she's more likely to get into a car accident. Have a good day out- remember to drive next time! (Sorry ladies, but 4 out of 5 of the women I know drive like this- I still think you're beautiful and rad, but please grow some balls).

Which brings me to....

5. Be an overly aggressive driver. Now this is the 99% male category plus me when I was like 16. Let's go 100mph over the speed limit and cut everyone off on the way! Let's do donuts on a one lane mountain road with no guard rail- what a rush! In fact... let's do donuts where ever we damn well please! How about compacted ice on a parking lot next to a busy road in the winter? Shit, forgot to take a left back there? Bring this bitch up over the lane divider, we're in a truck anyway!

6. Completely suck balls at merging. I'm throwing this in just for my sister Sarah, who complains about this constantly (though she's right and it's hilarious). When our father taught us both how to drive, one thing he taught us was you DON'T SLOW DOWN WHILE YOU'RE MERGING. That is unless you're literally about to slam into someone. We're getting on the freeway folks, we're going from 30 to 60- does slowing down sound like a great plan? And today my friends, I am going to teach you the proper way to merge because apparently no one knows except Sarah and I. Think of a zipper. The teeth intertwine from each side, one then one then one then one. One from the left, then one from the right, one from the left, then one from the right... if you're aren't paying attention and miss your zipper tooth, you have effed this business up. Merging. Figure it out or my sister is going to go postal on the freeway sometime soon and she may potentially run you into a wall. We all have those days.

7. Drive like you don't know what a parking lot is for. Now I'm not too brutal about this, if the lanes are god awful long and you need to cut over, by all means do so- just DON'T do it so quickly that you cut off someone that is actually following the grid lines. Don't go 50 mph through the fucking parking lot like some woman did today- she almost slammed into me and then gave ME a dirty look. Sorry I got in the way of you flying down the parking lot corridor, woops! Don't drive too slow in the parking lot either. We don't need to go five mph and I may purposefully rear end you if you don't move bitch, and get out my way. Try to line your car up with the parking lot grids when you do finally park. Good lord is there anything worse than being in a crammed parking lot and having to smoosh your car into a spot where the morons on both sides are going to parked on top of you? Fun fun fun! Now this one is going to be hard to explain in words maybe... if I'm pulling out of my spot and you want my spot, DO NOT pull right up on my business before I'm even out to ensure no one else takes said spot. Now I can't move without backing out further than necessary and I want to slam into your car a little bit on accident.

8. Flip off EVERYONE that pisses you off. Whew! Nothing like gettin' the ole blood pressure up, is there? And you know when you flip someone off, you automatically win and they know it.

Perhaps you think who am I to judge? Well this woman has never caused an accident in her life, and let's just say I'm not opposed to speeding and talking on my phone. I mean, I do have cat like reflexes and mad skills, but a lot of it is I try to avoid being retarded when I can. You can avoid being retarded too and we'll all live in an I-five utoptia!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Money Tips From an Artist Who's Not Starving

I have so much inner dialogue in my head and I wonder why I don't write this shit down sometimes. I have ideas and thoughts and opinions that the world should know about! Cocky, huh? Well you be the judge I suppose. I moved out when I was 16 years old and lived with my best friend and her now husband in a tiny little....well shack might be an appropriate word... and I have been paying bills and spending money since about that time. 10 years about I'd say. There's plenty of people out there with more experience then me in money woes, but I feel like I've made a monster turn around in the last few years. It started with me making a large amount of money for a 20 something with no responsibilities. You get used to just over spending on garbage you don't need. Then it becomes a habit. Then it becomes an addiction. Fast forward to me pregnant with my first son at 21 and finally in line for some real responsibility. Day care and diapers will slap you upside the head with a quickness. I think I'm ready to buy a house- shoot I have enough money for it. The housing market is just going up up up up and if I don't buy now I'll never be able to buy, right? Fast forward some more- here we are with an $1800 a month mortgage, gas prices up at $4 something a gallon, I am making car payments on two cars totaling around $600 a month not counting gas and insurance, approximately $600 a month for daycare (which is NOTHING compared to most places), oh and guess what? I'm pregnant again. Pregnancy complication equals thousands of dollars in medical bills on top of everything else, now we're paying more like $1200 in daycare bills (which is still NOTHING for an infant and a two year old- I am ashamed of how I had to slum when it came to childcare), and all of my credit cards (approximately 10 I believe) are piling up more and more. Sure, they started with a 3% interest, but the first time I made that late payment, bam! 33% interest. So as you can see, we're drowning in debt. My entire life one of my largest stresses has been money- it doesn't matter if you have it or if you don't, it's stressful for most people. I went from the scenario I described above, to now being completely zen and peaceful about money. And I have plenty of it the majority of the time.

The turn around started with me having to file bankruptcy and foreclose on my home at 24 years old. That scares the shit out of a lot of people, but I wouldn't take it back for the world. It changed my life. I saw it as a new opportunity to turn my life around. Firstly, I hated my job. I was away from my kids constantly, and I was just another number to these people. I am far too glamorous and interesting to be just another number ;) I have ideas and thoughts and opinions, remember? And who doesn't? Everyone deserves to live the life they're supposed to, but we're held back by the fear of changing what's already going for us, even if it's not working. So it started with me not having anymore credit cards. Not any. Not a single f-ing one. And two years later I still don't have any credit cards, and I'd prefer to never have a credit card again for the rest of my life. When we're being practical and looking at things from the outside- credit cards are for EMERGENCIES. ONLY. You don't need a Macy's card. Or a Target Card. Or a Best Buy card, or a Walmart card, or ANYTHING like that at all. Can you use $5000 at Macy's in an emergency? No- the only thing you can do with that is spend way too much money on clothing you probably don't need. So Tip #1- Break up with your credit cards. You have to close them, because you know as well as I do that if you don't have your Macy's card on you, they'll just go right ahead and look it up for you, wont they friends? Now if you have a Visa for emergencies or whatever, ok, but you shouldn't be using credit cards on any sort of regular basis whatsoever.

Moving on. Tip #2- Being reasonable with your car situation. Do you need a $300 car payment? Probably not. I had a 2005 Toyota Corolla with a $309 a month car payment. I got rid of it during bankruptcy and now I drive a 2001 Kia Rio that I paid $1700 for in cash. I have no car payment and I still drive a newer car. Honestly if I have to compare the two side by side, the Toyota really wasn't that much more glamorous than the Kia. I mean, slightly, but not $309 a month for the next 5 years more. And if you think you'd rather have a payment because you can't come up with the two or three thousand to buy a reasonable car outright, then wait until tax return season and start saving. A couple grand isn't that much money and if you can't save it then you probably have a spending problem you need to look in the face. Also when purchasing your car, for the love of Pete make sure it has reasonable gas mileage. Oh sure it's cute, but really? 9 miles a gallon? You might as well be making the $309 a month car payment.

Tip #3- Know what you're paying for when it comes to car insurance. Full coverage? Do you know WHY you have full coverage and what it's all for? Do you really need that comp with a $500 deductible in case you break a windshield that would cost you $200 to replace? Hmmm. Personal Injury Protection (or PIP on your card) will cost you quite a bit more each month... if you have good medical insurance then my opinion is to skip it. If you're younger than 25 and you're paying each month for a rental car in case you get in an accident, then you might as well light that money on fire because you can't rent a car if you're under 25 (I found this out the hard way). My suggestions are liability, collision if you must, and uninsured motorist. I have been hit twice and both times the driver was uninsured.

Tip #4- Don't skimp on your cell plan. If you think you can bring it down and save some bucks, be aware. If you go over on your minutes you're going to wish you never changed your plan. And furthermore, if you have a cell phone there's really no need for a home phone. So there goes that bill. And even furthermore (this is new for me and I'm stoked!), if you have a smartphone (which you should, just get one) like my blackberry, your phone is your internet modem!!!! Yes yes yes!!! Stop paying comcast a gajillion dollars a month for net. With a blackberry you have to pay for the bb package anyway, and this includes being able to use your phone as a computer modem for the most part. You get the cord that tethers it to the internet and log in through the software that came with your phone (it'll walk you through it). Voila, there goes a $60 a month bill. You know you were paying for that cell phone net anyway.

Tip #5- If you have the internet (and I imagine you do if you're reading this), then you don't need cable television. You can go to and watch tons o stuff, you can download shows from, you can tether your computer to your tv so it's not on small screen. You don't need cable. I thought I was going to die when I got rid of my cable, but I bought my kids three box sets of Spongebob and I watch History Channel shows on Hulu (just our personal faves). That'll save you anywhere from $40 to $150 a month. How many hours of tv were you watching anyway? ;)

There's more tips than that of course, but most people can put those into play pretty easily. I made the hard choice to leave my well paying job over a year ago, and we're living better now than we did then. It's quality. I see my kids a million percent more than I did then. I have time for building the businesses I actually want to work for. It's just better. Just to do some math here... by implementing JUST these things above and not counting anything else, our family has saved close to $1000 a month and that's not counting the credit card stuff because I can't even remember what ungodly amount we were spending each month on credit cards. We live in a rad house that we rent (I never thought I'd be so glad to rent until after I owned a house)and it's in better shape then the house we owned- we save $900 a month there. I'm home with my kids so I'm not paying the $1200 a month for daycare. That's $3100 a month we're saving and I'm home with my kids (I work for myself, but I make my own hours so I can work while my husband is home with the kids). Most of the people I know my age don't even make $3100 a month. So working for yourself, or staying home with your kids, or going back to school, or whatever your dream is- it's not unattainable with a little creativity and some smart decisions. Good luck.