Shopping

A Hole in My Closet

Oldnavytee
It has been hot here the last couple days which has revealed a gaping hole in my wardrobe. I have exactly one shirt I can wear when it is hot outside. (See above.) It doesn't look like it would be great for hot weather, but it is tissue-thin. I wore it yesterday. I am wearing it again today because, as I mentioned, I don't have anything else. Also, I can get away with that because I am not going into the office.

The problem is my arms. This isn't a "I hate my chubby arms" insecurity that a lot of women have. I have batwings, and my batwings have their own batwings. I have always had big arms, but losing so much weight so fast has made them so much worse. Trust me when I say they are hideous. That is a statement of fact, not an exaggeration.

Most of the time, I wear a cardigan over a cami, or a cardigan over a dress, or something with long sleeves. Last weekend, we went to the fair and I just couldn't do it. It was so hot. I took off my cardigan and hoped we didn't run into anyone we knew. That's not going to work for me for the rest of the summer.

I'm open to suggestion here. Do you have a favorite hot weather top with sleeves? I have some shopping to do. Fortunately, I am a world class competitive shopper.


Vicarious Shopping: Nothing Over $50

Nothing Over $50

 

Dorothy Perkins knot dress
$44 - dorothyperkins.com

 

Sugarhill Boutique heart dress
€30 - zalando.de

 

H M stripe dress
£25 - hm.com

 

Belted dress
£22 - axparis.co.uk

 

 

H M layered dress
£25 - hm.com

 

Platform wedge shoes
$42 - kohls.com

 

Dollhouse high heel boots
$29 - makemechic.com

 

Open toe shoes
£30 - bankfashion.co.uk

 

 

 

 

Monsoon gold cluster ring
£12 - monsoon.co.uk

 

Beach jewelry
$34 - macys.com

 

Flower jewelry
$8.99 - amazon.com

 

 

Leather jewelry
€17 - colette.fr

 

ASOS neon jewelry
$11 - asos.com

 

Zara flower jewelry
$50 - zara.com

 

Shiny belt
$44 - lodis.com

 

 

All Saints buckle belt
$50 - allsaints.com

 


Polyvore + Pinterest = A Cure for Shopping Addiction

Last week, I saw a link to an article about how Pinterest can curb the urge to shop. After I read the title, I knew it was true, at least for me. Since I started using Pinterest in earnest, and combining it with my use of Polyvore, I have shopped significantly less. In fact, I am in danger of losing all my Foursquare mayorships at the mall.

For me, the most therapeutic part of the shopping experience is not the buying, it is the finding. To look through a store and find the one perfect thing I had in mind provides a lovely thrill. Browsing is pretty nice, too. Looking through lots of things to find a hidden gem of something on clearance, or a brand new thing that I have never seen before gives me a great feeling. I can replicate those feelings on Polyvore and Pinterest.

For example, I spent an hour building this set on Polyvore. I knew exactly where to buy several of the things in this set, but now that I have found them, I don't necessarily need to buy them.

My Closet Needs This

 

Well, I do need a denim pencil skirt and some new panties.


What I Would Wear to the Golden Globe Awards

What I Would Wear to the Golden Globe Awards

 

Lanvin evening gown dress
$4,890 - net-a-porter.com

 

Jimmy Choo strappy sandals
$1,850 - footcandyshoes.com

 

Diamond jewelry
£7,699 - debenhams.com

 

Diamond jewelry
$56,500 - barneys.com

 

Incanto Royale gold flower ring
$11,700 - forzieri.com

 

 

 

 

 


Black Friday 2012 Wrap-Up

In the week leading up to Black Friday, more and more stores announced that they would be opening at midnight. Each announcement chipped away at my excitement over one of my favorite holiday traditions. I have been a hard core Black Friday shopper since before it was commonly known as Black Friday. When I first started, we'd wake up at 4:30 AM to be in line by 5 AM for stores that opened at 6 AM. Last year, I was up at 3 AM for a 4 AM store opening. This year, I never went to sleep. Here is an hour-by-hour recap of my shopping marathon (which actually started on Wednesday, when I found out that Kohl's had their doorbusters online. I bought about ten things there, including two cashmere sweaters for myself, saved 15% with a coupon code, and got free shipping.)

8:00 PM Thanksgiving Day

I woke up from my two-hour nap, freshened up, and headed out to Wal-Mart, which was opening at 10 PM. I was surprised to find the parking lot full, the doors open, and no line outside when I arrived at 8:30 PM. I had forgotten that Wal-Mart has people line up inside, near their desired items. I was first in line for $5 Barbies.

Bf-schedule

9:00 PM

Still in line inside of Wal-Mart. It was hot in there and people were getting squirrelly.

Bf-barbie

10:00 PM

As soon as employees unwrapped the pallets of sale items, I grabbed my four Barbies (my friend grabbed the other three for me because they were on both sides of the aisle, and I wanted one of each) and got the hell out of there. We walked out at 10:10, but it took another ten minutes to get out of the insane parking lot.

Our next stop was Target. We were in line by 10:30. The smart lady behind us in line at Target brought a portable propane heater. I am not adding this to my list of Black Friday tips, but I did inch closer and closer to her as we waited.

Bf-heater

11:00 PM

Still in line at Target. The Target in Moorpark handled the logistics better than any store I've ever been to on Black Friday, and you know that it saying a lot. They had carts lined up from the entrance of the store, curving around the corner of the building, to corral the line and prevent people from the parking lot trying to sneak in once the doors opened. Employees came down the line several times to tell us what the procedures would be. Once the doors opened at Midnight, they would let in 30 people, wait 15 seconds, then let in 30 more. If there was any running, pushing, or other unruliness, they would shut it down.

Target passed out Luna Bar samples which were yummy, and surprisingly low in sugar.

Bf-luna

MIDNIGHT, BLACK FRIDAY

Target opened their doors and customers proceeded in an orderly fashion. Employees were well-placed throughout the store and reminded people not to run. My friend wasn't looking for anything for herself at this store, so I asked her to go to the toy aisle for Princess Yahtzee, while I tried to track down the $25 iTunes gift cards that were on sale for $20, and the $5 Christmas Domo tee. I found both. Sadly, they only had Domo in a men's small. I hope I find another one before Christmas so I can exchange it. If not, I hope I fit into a men's small by next Christmas.

Target also set up one feeder line. I hate waiting in feeder lines, but I appreciate the order they bring to the experience. I didn't have to wait in line at all, though, because I was done by 12:15.

Our next destination was Old Navy. We arrived 30 minutes after they opened. My friend waited in the car because I was only going there to buy a wool peacoat on sale for $25. The coats were by the door. I tried on my size, liked it, and choose a second color since it was so cheap. I noticed that the feeder line was on the opposite side of the registers, so I headed that direction. My heart sank when I turned the corner and saw how long it was, and then when I turned the next corner and still couldn't see the end. The line snaked around 2/3 of the store.

Bf-oldnavyjackets

1 AM

I waited in line for 45 minutes at Old Navy. While I was in line, I chatted up the family in front of me, and picked up a couple tees for my four-year-old (one was $3, the other was $5). An employee was asking questions ("First person to show me an out-of-state driver license...") and handing out coupons. When she came by, I suggested that, as the Foursquare Mayor of Old Navy, certainly I deserved a coupon. Others around me agreed, but the employee would not be swayed. I did eventually get one because she was standing near me when she said, "First three people wearing headbands..."

Bf-oldnavycoupon

2 AM

Our next destination was the mall, which had opened at Midnight. We arrived shortly before 2 AM. I knew that the department stores were still opening at their published Black Friday times, but I thought the rest of the mall stores would be open. Unfortunately, Gap Kids wasn't opening until 5 AM, so I didn't get the $15 fleece jacket doorbuster deal there. My friend wanted to go to GameStop first. That line was insane, so I left her there and went to Sephora to check out their $10 deals. They were long gone, so I went in and piled on the make-up. The only store I planned to go to at the mall was JC Penney, which wasn't opening until 4 AM.

Bf-sephora

After I put on more than enough make-up, I scoped out a place to rest my tired feet. I checked Instagram and saw a post from a friend who got a deal on Fiestaware at Macy's. I was sitting outside of Macy's Mens and Home, so I figured I might as well go in and check things out. I saw a doorbuster deal near the entrance that would make a great second gift for my husband (which is why I can't say what it was). I checked out the cookie sheets on sale but none of the prices enticed me. I found a gift for my step-dad (which I also can't mention). Then I checked out the Fiestaware. I didn't buy anything, but I did add this pizza plate to my Amazon Wishlist. The line was moving slowly, but I had to wait for my friend anyway, so it was no big deal. She arrived as I neared the front.

3 AM

I still can't believe that none of the food court restaurants were open. That was so short-sighted. We were tired and hungry and didn't feel like hanging around the loud, crowded mall for another hour before JC Penney opened, so we went to Denny's nearby. Denny's has a freaking NACHO SALAD on the menu. It was good.

4 AM

We arrived at JC Penney a little after 4 AM. The lines were getting longer. I found the gloves I wanted and a couple more $5 Barbies. My friend stood in line while I looked for a doorbuster I never did find. They also didn't have any free ornaments left. I'm not sure what time we left, but we didn't spend more than 20 minutes there.

We headed to K-Mart, which was opening at 5 AM. We both had things to shop for there.

5 AM

Doors opened. A few people cut the line. I did not punch them in the back of their heads. I bought the cheap cookie sheets I wanted. I couldn't find the kids gloves for 99 cents, so I bought a couple pairs of adult gloves for 99 cents. There was no waiting to check out.

We were pretty well ahead of schedule at that point. The next store on the list, in order of priority, wasn't set to open until 7 AM, so we headed to the outlet mall. It was last on the list, in order of priority, but it had opened at 10 PM the night before, and it was on our way to the next shopping center

I had my friend drop me off at the Nine West outlet. I wasn't sure if I was going to buy anything, but I knew they were having a good sale on boots, so I wanted to check it out. A pair of tall boots that I bought a few weeks ago for $109 in black, were on sale for $89, with another 20% off, so I bought them in tan. My friend had miraculously found a nearby parking spot, and didn't have to circle the lot as planned.

We headed over to the Disney outlet. She wanted to look for a specific gift there. Everything in the store was 20% off, plus there were some big markdowns. I bought slippers for my girls that were marked down to $10, and a nightshirt for myself that was also marked down to $10. I didn't particularly want a Nightmare Before Christmas nightshirt, but that was a good price and it was 100% cotton, which is surprisingly hard to find these days.

All the restaurants were open in the outlet mall. Who wants Johnny Rockets at 5:30 AM? Everyone.

6 AM

Our next stop was Bed, Bath & Beyond. My friend was looking for a specific cookbook that she was told was there. We couldn't find it. I did find the same exact cookie sheets that I'd bought at K-Mart, but for $3 cheaper, plus an additional 20% off. We bought our things and went next door to stand in the very short line for Cost Plus World Market, which wasn't opening until 7 AM.

7 AM

Doors opened. People rushed to the back for their free TinTin ornament and movie ticket. I did not. Even a free ticket couldn't entice me to see that movie. I was there for $5 pashminas for teacher gifts, half-price cookie mixes, and stocking stuffers. I passed on the cookie mixes, but got everything else I wanted. I probably spent the most time browsing in this store of all the stores.

Because we'd already hit the outlet mall, we only had one store left on our list, Pier 1, but all the things I wanted to look at there, I'd already picked up at other stores, so we scratched that one off. We sat in the car, munching on a bag of kettle corn (impulse buy at Cost Plus), and re-evaluated our lists.

My friend had one thing she wanted to look for to add to a gift she'd purchased at the Disney outlet. We went through our sales ads again because I had recalled seeing the item. Turns out all the stores had one. We chose to go back to K-Mart to get it so that I could return my cookie sheets and look for those kids gloves again.

8 AM

Done at K-Mart. My sister texted and asked if we were at Cost Plus. She wanted a TinTin ornament. Another friend texted to see if we were at the outlet mall. She wanted to join us. We all decided to go out to eat instead. My sister bailed, saying she wanted to wait in line at Kohl's (there is one near us that isn't allowed to open until 9 AM due to city regulations) to make sure she got the things she wanted.

9 AM

On our way in to Marmalade Cafe, my friend popped into Cost Plus to get my sister a TinTin ornament.

10 AM

Nom. Nom. Nom.

Bf-breakfast

11 AM

Wrapping up our purchases.

Bf-wrapped

Noon

Watching Gossip Girl.

1 PM

Watching Gossip Girl.

2 PM

Finally sleeping.


The Best Black Friday Shopping Guide

Black_friday-e12890218179751

I am an unrepentant Black Friday shopper. I know those two words make some of you cringe -- BLACK FRIDAY -- but it doesn't have to be a bad experience. I get all of my Christmas shopping (and wrapping) done in one day, leaving me the rest of the holiday season to enjoy spending time with my family and friends. I love Black Friday shopping. If you follow this guide it will be so easy, you'll want to do it every year.

Step 1: Pre-Planning

This is easy. Sometime before Thanksgiving Day, make a list of the people for whom you plan to buy gifts. If you already have something in mind for that person, jot it down, but that isn't a requirement.

Step 2: Watch the Black Friday Preview Ads

I am very lax about this step. I subscribe to BFads.net. They have all the secret info about which products are going to be on sale at which stores, with prices. They often have scans of the actual ads. If you are a super organized super shopper, you can start mapping out your strategy now. Even I, with decades of Black Friday shopping experience, don't go that far. Mostly, I am looking for the types of items that are going to be big this year. I am not scouting stores and prices yet. That is way too stressful for me. If I see something in particular that seems interesting for someone on my list, I might jot that down, but I usually don't. BFads.net has a nice feature that allows you to compile a shopping list, but I'm old school when it comes to Black Friday shopping. I like a paper list.

Step 3: The Real Planning Happens on Thanksgiving Day

Get up very early in the morning on Thanksgiving Day to buy newspapers, even if you have the newspaper delivered. I buy two copies each of the smaller local paper and the LA Times. They have different ads in them, plus you will need extra copies if you are shopping with partners. Often, the papers in the stands have different (and more) ads than the papers delivered to your home.

Now, set the papers aside and enjoy your day.

Tools

After everyone is stuffed with pie, clear off the table and lay out all of your sales ads and your list. You will also need more paper and a pen to map out your strategy. A Sharpie is great for marking up the ads.

Sorting the Ads

The first thing I do is sort the ads. I will never go to a sporting goods store or a jewelry store or a furniture store on Black Friday, so I take out all of those ads. There are also stores that I generally avoid, but by which I can occasionally be tempted. These stores are a freaking zoo on Black Friday: Best Buy, Wal-Mart, and Toys R Us. I set those ads aside to look at after I look at the rest of the ads.

Looking at the Ads

First, look through every ad without an agenda. Circle anything you think looks interesting for you or for someone on your list. Once you have done that, take another look at your list. If any matches come to mind immediately, jot those down. Now, go through the ads a second time, more slowly. Focus on the things you have circled. Go back and forth between the ads and your list. Next to each person on your list, write the item, price, and store for the gift you are considering for that person. Have a couple ideas in mind in case you aren't able to get your first choice item. Noting the price and store is important because you'll likely be able to find the same item at several stores and you want to get the best price. Repeat this step until you have at least one gift chosen for each person on your list.

Now, go back to the Best Buy, Wal-Mart, and Toys R Us ads and see if there is anything amazing in there. If there is, circle it and set the ads aside again.

Finally, get a clean sheet of paper and rewrite your list, grouping it by store. Next to each store, write the time it opens. Put a star next to the people or items that are the most important to you. Put stars next to big ticket items and deeply-discounted doorbuster deals.

Strategy and Logistics

Now you are ready to map out your strategy. Take a look at where the stars are on your list. You want to make sure you get to the stores that are most important to you at least an hour in advance. Example: Kohl's open at 4 AM. Target and Staples open at 5 AM. K-Mart opens at 6 AM. I have an important item I want at each store, but the most important thing I want is at Target. I will be in line for Target by 4 AM at the latest. I will ask my sister, who is going to Kohl's, to get my item for me. If she can't, I will decide if Kohl's or K-Mart is more important to me and I will go immediately to that store after I am done at Target, then I will go to the remaining store.

It helps to shop with others. That way you can divide and conquer when it comes to hitting multiple stores. Also, it is extraordinarily helpful, almost a necessity, to have someone in the store with you. You can divide and conquer when it comes to items but, more importantly, one person can wait in line while the other person shops, saving you a ridiculous amount of time. (More on that in the next section.)

Make a separate, smaller list of just the stores and hours, in the order you plan to shop at them. You will keep this list in your pocket and refer to it many times while shopping. Take one more look at the Best Buy, Wal-Mart, and Toys R Us ads and, if one of those stores appeals to you, see if you can work it into your schedule. Plan for it to take more time than you think it will.

Sleep

Go to bed early! You need your rest. You will be getting up ridiculously early in the morning.

Step 4: BLACK FRIDAY SHOPPING! (morning)

Eat a light breakfast before you leave the house and make your preferred caffeinated beverage to take with you. Remember, it is ridiculously early. Starbucks and McDonald's aren't going to be open until you are on your way to your third store.

Carry a large shoulder bag. It needs to be comfortable, but big enough for your ads and a water bottle in addition to your usual stuff. Most importantly, though, it needs to stay out of your hands. Also, pack a large, reusable shopping bag. You won't always be able to get a cart in the store and, actually, a cart will slow you down.

Make sure your cell phone is charged up. Ideally, you will be shopping with at least one partner. (If you are shopping with more than one partner, use a group texting app like GroupMe to communicate with everyone at once.) Keep track of each other by texting and calling.

While you are waiting in line for the store to open, plan which items you will be going for and which items your partner will be going for. Whoever has the least amount of stuff to buy should plan to get in line and wait for the other person. This is where a lot of the texting happens. If you are shopping while your partner is in line, you can drop off your items with your partner to free up your hands.

If you are unsure about buying something, buy it. You can always return it, but you don't want to miss out on it if you decide later that you really did want it. Don't waste time hunting for items that are likely to be at multiple stores or are likely to be discounted at other times before Christmas, like DVDs and clothes. And, for goodness sake, don't try on any clothes.

If you have a shopping partner who is at a different store, keep that partner apprised of your location. Call or text before you head to the next location in case you need to change your plan.

Use the time you spend standing in line, or riding (as a passenger) from one location to the next, to update your list. Cross off items as they are bought, and cross of people as you finish buying their gifts.

Once you have hit all of your priority stores, getting your big ticket items and your doorbuster deals, take a breather (now is a good time for the Starbucks run), and review your list and your ads again. This is when you can go back to the big stores if you missed anything or if you left lower priority items behind. This is also when you can hit the lower priority stores you haven't hit yet. For me, this usually includes Michael's and Bed, Bath, and Beyond. You can also decide at this point if it is worth it to you to try to brave Best Buy, Wal-Mart, or Toys R Us.

After you are done with the second round of shopping, it will probably be 11 AM. Now you can relax at a nice, leisurely lunch with your girls.

Step 4: BLACK FRIDAY SHOPPING! (afternoon)

After lunch, go home. You and your partners will need to sort out your mingled purchases and settle up your bills. Then it's time to wrap your presents. Use your own organizational methods here, but it is important to get it done that day. Don't procrastinate this part! The goal is to be completely done with Christmas gifts ALL IN ONE DAY. I try to decorate the house that weekend and get the tree up, so I have a place to put all those presents.

Step 5: Enjoy Your Holiday

You are done shopping! If you have a couple more things to get, buy them on Amazon. Never go to the mall between Black Friday and Christmas! THAT is some crazy shopping.

I will do a separate post on advanced techniques. This is just the basics.


Sexy Shoes Redux

Last night, I was shopping for a pair of black shoes to go with a dress that is very Sexy Secretary. I saw these and fell instantly in love.

I flipped them over to check the price, and that's when the heart palpitations really started. They cost $275. I had three other shoe styles in my hands so I figured there would be no harm in trying on the pricey pair since I was sure one of the others would work out.

That didn't happen. A pair of peeptoe wedges similar to the ones above didn't have a platform, so weren't very comfortable. A pair of slingback peeptoe wedges made flip-flop noises when I walked. A pair of platform pumps with a wide, stacked heel were too wobbly to walk in. These shoes, the shoes that cost $275, were perfect. First, they are so sexy, I want make sweet, sweet love to myself when I am wearing them. Second, they have just the right amount of platform, making them just the right height and easy to walk in. Last, they are so comfortable.

I kept them on for a long time while I texted and tweeted and agonized over spending that much money on a pair of shoes. One of the reasons against buying them was that I had recently bought these slingback peeptoe wedges for a mere $30. In the end, I decided to try the shoes I already owned with the Sexy Secretary dress I had just bought, but I thought about those $275 shoes all night! I wanted them so much.

This morning, I tried the dress on for my husband and put on the shoes I already owned. They looked nice with the dress. I haven't worn the shoes yet so I planned to wear them to work today to make sure they will be ok for the event I'm attending. I wore them around the house while I was getting ready. That is when I discovered they make flip-flop sounds.

Darn.

Yay!

I asked my husband if he would mind if I paid $275 for a pair of shoes. He would never tell me I can't buy something, but we'd had a recent discussion about this. Of course he said he didn't mind. To make both of us, mostly me, feel better I said I would not get the tattoo I was planning to get for my birthday and for getting down to 199 lbs. That tattoo would have cost easily $600. So, in reality, I saved us a whole bunch of money when I bought these shoes on the way home from work tonight.

Elizabeth and James "Hali" suede platform wedges

Please note that if you run into me, there is a 50% chance I will be wearing those jeans. I love them.


Victoria's Secret: Reliably Slutty

I bought this linen cowl-neck dress/tunic sort of thing on clearance at Nordstrom today. I love, love, love it, but if I can't find the right layering piece to wear under it, I will have to return it. The tunic thing is sleeveless and I do not appear sleeveless in public unless I am about to keel over from heat exhaustion.

I need a short-sleeve (or 3/4-sleeve) shirt with an obscenely low neckline. I tried Nordstrom, J. Crew, and J. Jill at the mall, but none of them had a shirt that was both slutty and sleeved. I tried Victoria's Secret at the mall, but they only had shirts in the PINK section and I am about 20 years too old to even step foot in there.

While my girls were eating dinner, I logged onto VictoriasSecret.com. "Mommy, why her boobs are showing?" I found exactly what I needed. I hope. We'll see in 5-8 business days.

Vs1 Vs2



My shoes are not knock-offs, but they were cheap.

I bought these shoes a few months ago for $60. I wrote about them in a post titled "The Look For Less: Woven Leather Wedges and Black Leather Booties," which was about cheap alternatives to pricey shoes I coveted.

Candies-wedges

So, imagine my surprise when I discovered that there is a cheaper alternative to my cheap alternative. Seriously, other brands are knocking off Candies now? This seems ridiculous to me, even though these knock-offs are half the price of the Candies. So, if you want these shoes for $27, you can get them at Target, by Mossimo. I also saw them under a different name for the same price at Off Broadway Shoes.

Candies-wedge


Three Months After Gastric Bypass

As of today, I am down 41 lbs. I forgot to take my measurements at the beginning of the month, so I'll just wait until next month. I hate doing it. Those numbers are meaningless to me. I care more about the size of the clothes I wear. Right now, I am all 2s: 2X tops and size 22 pants. I am down one size in tops and two sizes in pants.

I actually have a lot of pants that fit me right now. I'm not quite sure how that happened. I have a pair of black chinos, a pair of black slacks, a pair of black jeans, and two pairs of blue jeans. The black jeans are are the only ones I can wear with flat shoes. All of the other pants have to be worn with tall shoes (read: four-inch platform wedges). This poses a bit of a problem since I am leaving in a few days to go to a conference that will entail five days of WALKING. I will probably buy another pair of jeans that I can wear with flat shoes. I can't remember the last time I owned six pairs of pants, all in the same size, that fit me well.

Related: I must stop spending so much money on clothes. I am going to have wait until I am in 18s to buy new clothes again.


A Valentine's Day Gift Guide for Idiots and Other Men

Valgiftguide I used to write for a friend's web magazine, Clark Schpiell Productions. This was published there on February 9, 2004. Other than a dated reference to Britney Spears, this list has withstood the test of time.

Let me start of by saying that I am intentionally being sexist with this list and it is because I think my husband may read this before Valentine's Day. Therefore, this guide is specifically aimed at men who need to give gifts to women. Women who need to give gifts to women should know what women want. All men want the same gift -- a blow-job -- so that's easy enough.

I am not even going to cover why Valentine's Day is such a commercial holiday, the true meaning of which is completely lost in modern times, buried under hearts and flowers and candy and all things pink and red. I am not going to cover it, because that's just the way it is, so suck it up.

First, you need to understand women a little bit better. Here are few key things that you need to know before contemplating a purchase.
   1. Women are liars
   2. Women are manipulative
   3. Women like presents

Don't even think that all three of those things don't apply to your woman, because they do. It is universal. Why is this important? It is important because you may have heard your woman say one of the following things:

      "You don't need to get me flowers. They just die anyway and are a waste of money."
      "I don't need anything fancy as long as we are together."
      "I don't like big diamonds. I think they are gaudy."

Lies. All lies. Women like flowers. Even the ones who say they don't like flowers turn to mush when they get that unexpected call from the receptionist telling them that they have a delivery. As for diamonds, really big diamonds are gaudy. However, since you are reading this guide, I am guessing your diamond budget is not the same as, say, Brad Pitt's. You should likely get the biggest one you can afford. More on that later.

Women are manipulative. You might not think your woman is, but that just means that she is likely very good at it. If you really still have no idea what to get her for Valentine's Day, you are probably a moron, and I am not just being mean. She has given you a dozen clues in the last week alone. Did she drag you to the mall at any point in the last month? I bet she took you to at least three stores, each containing at least one item that would make an excellent gift, which, I am sure, she pointed out to you. Retrace your steps and ask for help along the way. She may have enlisted the help of friends and family in the unlikely instance that you would think to call any of them seeking assistance. Does she have a sister, a best friend, a mother? I guarantee that one or all of them can tell you what your woman would like for Valentine's Day.

Women like presents. Oh, yes we do. If you haven't come up with anything yet, just hold on, we are getting to the good part. I will give you some easy-to-follow instructions. If you start to get nervous, thinking you can't do this on your own, just print this out and take it with you.

The Idiot-Proof Guide to Valentine Day Gifts for Women

  1. Flowers. This one is not optional. You must get your woman flowers for Valentine's Day. The best way to do this is to order flowers to be delivered to her at work. Because Valentine's Day is on a Saturday this year, you should have them sent on Friday instead. [In 2011, it is on Monday. Have them delivered on Monday, or die. - Ed.] Flowers are almost meaningless if a woman can't brag about them to other women. I said almost. If you fail to have flowers delivered to her at work, you absolutely must not forget to bring some home with you.
  2. Lingerie. This is the perfect gift for hookers, whores and assorted tramps. Most women, however, prefer to buy this on their own.
  3. Diamonds. Like I said, you ain't no Brad Pitt. If you are getting her a ring, try to get as close to one carat as you can afford. Platinum is the way to go for settings these days, but get white gold if you can't afford it. Going for earrings? One carat total weight is the minimum, two carats total weight is the maximum. Round diamonds look bigger. Don't bother with a platinum setting for earrings. Use the extra dough to get better quality diamonds. I can't go into quality here; that would take all day. In Southern California, Robbins Brothers is used to helping out hapless victims of consumerism like you. Don't let their extremely annoying commercials put you off. They will steer you in the right direction.
  4. Other Jewelry. I am talking about anything that isn't a diamond ring or diamond earrings. I think you should stay away from this category. Again, I am not trying to be mean, but you are an idiot. Only men with very good taste should venture into this territory and they don't need help from me.
  5. Kittens. If you are dating a teenager or Britney Spears, this is an appropriate gift. Live and/or stuffed are allowable.
  6. Weekend Getaway. I am sure that your woman has mentioned, on more than one occasion in your relationship, some nice places to go for a weekend trip. Pay attention already! Christ. Destination, in this case, is secondary. The primary thing that is going to score you points with a gift like this is the fact that you planned it all on your own. That means you have to take care of transportation, lodging and even some things to do while there. Although it is preferable to spend the actual weekend of Valentine's Day on the getaway, it may be too late for that. Presenting her with a brochure, or something similar, detailing what you have already booked and planned is almost as good.
  7. Candy. This is crap. If I find out that I put all this time into writing this guide and you read it and still went out and bought your woman one of those disgusting heart-shaped boxes of candy, I will find you and beat you about the head with a blunt object.
  8. Poetry. Seriously, have you not been paying attention to a single thing? Women like presents. I am sure you mean it to be all heartfelt and shit, but it probably sucks.
  9. Date. I hesitate to add this one to the list because it can go horribly awry. If you have it in you to plan a super fabulous date (and I am not talking miniature golf here) then, by all means, do it, but this has to be more fun than anything else you have done with your woman all year. Think over-the-top, like sky-diving, a cruise on a private yacht, heckling celebrities on the red carpet. I can't really help you out with more ideas because I am not all that fun, just mean.
  10. Spa. You absolutely cannot go wrong with a gift certificate to a spa. You likely have no idea what makes a good spa, so ask women you know. Stay away from anything that has "salon and day spa" in the title. Those are just hair salons with extra rooms. The best combos that are reasonably affordable are a facial and a massage, or a facial and a salt or sugar scrub. Two treatments is a perfect amount. Anything more and you risk picking something that she might not enjoy, like a seaweed wrap or a plantain pummel. For those in Southern California, Burke-Williams is your best option.

Good luck, muchachos!


Toddler Bedding Update

Thanks again for all your opinions about what type of bedding I should get for Kenna's new room. I did finally find a garden-themed bedding set that I like. It was really difficult! All the ones I was seeing were just so pastel or so bright. They would have looked really cute with the white furniture I was planning on getting, but they weren't really my style.

Then, to throw another wrench into the works, a friend gave us her old crib and changing table. We are, of course, very grateful for it, but the coloring made finding bedding even more difficult. The set has a natural stain (like light oak), but the top rail on each of the two crib ends is a dark country blue. (This crib is in astounding condition after having gone through three boys.)

Last week, I got a JC Penney baby catalog in the mail and found this perfect garden bedding set. The colors are darker than I had been seeing in other sets, so the blue on the crib will go nicely. It was lots cheaper than the one from Pottery Barn I had been considering, especially since my mom had a 15% off coupon.

Now we just need to get the new crib out of the living room and up into Kenna's new room.

New_bedding
Note: We only got the 4-pc bedding set, not every matchy, matchy thing in the picture.


Call for Opinions: A Little Girl's Bedroom

Kenna will be 18 months old this week. We will also find out this week if the new baby is a boy or girl. Fortunately, we decorated the nursery in gender-neutral colors because we knew Kenna would not be our last baby. Before the new baby comes, Kenna will move out of the nursery, into her own room. She will stay in a crib for as long as possible, but the new room will have big girl furniture as well.

Here's where the need for opinions comes in. I have zero ideas about how I want to decorate her room. What color should I paint the walls? What type of bedding should I get? What should I put on the newly-painted walls? What should I put on the window, besides a black-out shade that is?

Do you have any ideas? To help, below are pictures of the furniture I have chosen, but not yet purchased.

New_crib 

New_bed 

New_dresser

(Links to the items can be found on Kenna's Amazon Wish List.)