March 27, 2014

Thrifty Thursday tips

Easter is almost here, and we're about to go into prom and wedding season.  Dressing (for yourself and also for your kids) for these can get very expensive.  The cost of new shoes alone for a mother and children will set you back over a hundred dollars. (I didn't mention the men, because they can usually just go out and buy a new tie and matching hanky to give their suit a snazzy new look, unless they have to rent a tux.)

Fortunately, we are also going into garage sale season.  There are plenty of goodies to be found at these, especially in dressy kids' clothing...coats trimmed in fur collars, suits, dresses with things like satin bows and lace trims, sometimes in velvet, that have usually just been worn once for special occasions.

Women would probably do better at thrift shops, which also have children's clothes.  Check the yellow pages for locations in tony suburbs, where they're more likely to have the best stuff.  Try to find something that goes with shoes you already own so you don't have to buy a new pair (since your feet, unlike that of your children, aren't growing anymore).  

The best part?  After those dresses and suits have served their purpose, you can have them dry cleaned and sell them back to the store on consignment...if they sell, you'll get part of the proceeds.  Ka-ching! 
March 13, 2014

Thrifty Thursday tips

Today I have a bonus tip for all you Nook well as anyone else who uses Nook screen protectors (they are the perfect size for my Panasonic tablet).  It's following this week's regular tip, which is...

With all the specials on vitamins and supplements (Walgreen's, for instance, usually has a buy-one-get-one-free special), you should probably never have to pay full price.  If you're big on vitamins, supplements, and natural products, consider patronizing a vitamin store and joining their buyer's club.  The clerks are generally knowledgeable and can help you make your selection, i.e., determine which products are more natural than others.  Every time I've gone in there, the salesperson will offer me half off the price of a similar product to the one I bought.  Since I happen to use a lot of essential oils and other oils (my hair should probably smell like a salad, since at any time I slather it with carrot oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, or apricot oil) for both personal and household use, this saves me quite a bit.  Last week my hubby bought a diet jump start kit (normally $70, on sale for $35) and the clerk offered us a second set for me for just $17.50).  Needless to say, we jumped on it!

Now, for you Nooksters...y'all might want to visit your local Office Max store...just yesterday I found a bunch of screen protectors marked down to just $9.99.  Wish I'd known about that before paying $19.99 for a set of two protectors and a tiny cleaning cloth at Barnes & Noble about six weeks ago.  (incidentally, the package on the right is the one I paid $19.99 for at Barnes & Noble; the package on the left with the yellow sale sticker on it was $9.99 at Office Max).  Seeing them selling so many of them at a reduced price has all the makings of a closeout to me, which means it might be available nationwide...

Until next time, and's not what you make.  It's what you keep.
March 11, 2014

Oscar Follow-Up

Yes, I know I'm late with this...but what can I say?  I've been busy!

I'm pleased to report that all six of my Oscar predictions that I made here were correct.  It's not about picking who I wanted to's about trying to think like a member of the Academy and calculate how the majority of them would vote.

If anyone is wondering why I didn't announce the final Movie Trivia winner on Oscar night, it's because I had no entries!  Moving on...

My least favorite moment at the Oscars:  Ellen DeGeneres' saying that the real Liza Minnelli was a male Liza Minnelli impersonator.  Thought that was really mean-spirited, and Ms. Minnelli was very generous to go along with it.  If that had been me, I would have had some choice words for Ms. DeGeneres backstage.

I had several favorite Oscar moments. The speeches of producer Steve McQueen when Twelve Years a Slave was announced as the Best Picture, along with Brad Pitt and the other producers (Brad spoke first, but he kept it short), and also Lupita Nyongo's acceptance speech for Best Supporting Actress.  I love the sound of her voice.  I wish her a long and varied career.

But my absolute favorite Oscar moment of the evening was the words Robert DeNiro said when presenting the Writing awards.  The words, as were all of the preludes by presenters, were scripted by someone else, but as any writer knows, they are the truth:

"The mind of a writer can be a truly terrifying thing. Isolated, neurotic, caffeine-addled, crippled by procrastination, consumed by feelings of panic, self-loathing, and soul-crushing inadequacy. And that’s on a good day."

And with that, I will go back to my manuscript.
March 1, 2014

My Oscar Predictions

In just about 24 hours, they'll start handing out a set of Oscars.  This year the contest is truly a contest, with knockout performances everywhere you look, so many that some couldn't make it into the top five (regarding Oprah and Forrest not making the cut, it's a better year to be African than African-American--not that that helped Idris much).  I'm predicting fabulous ratings for ABC.

I've only seen one of the nominated films and performances (that of Sandra Bullock in Gravity), but I won't let a little thing like that stop me from predicting how the Academy will vote (that's what I'm doing here, not expressing my own hopes).  Multiple factors are involved in the awarding of Oscars, and the singular all-around best is only part of it.  The winners are voted on by people, and human nature has been around a heck of a lot longer than those statuettes.

Here goes:

Best Picture:  Twelve Years a Slave.  Oscar loves historical movies, and while last year it went away from the norm when Lincoln lost to Argo, I still believe that Steve McQueen's painful and difficult to watch (which is why I haven't seen it yet) yet valuable and important film has a shot to win. If Gravity wins, there will be cries of foul similar to 1997, when a movie with superior special effects (Titanic) and a very ordinary plot won over an intricately plotted, stylish film (L.A. Confidential).  

Best Director:  The guy who directed Gravity.  Just a hunch.  I think this is the Academy's way of splitting the acclaim in a tightly contested field.  But I won't feel too sorry for Steve McQueen if he doesn't win this time; I believe there is an Oscar in his future.  Incidentally, the director of Gravity was born in Mexico, so a win by him would also represent an ethnic first.

Best Actor:  Matthew McConaughey.  I believe he picked up Golden Globe and the the SAG Award for his performance in Dallas Buyer's Club.  Besides, the Academy loves it when actors lose weight for a role (witness Robert DeNiro in Raging Bull and Tom Hanks in Philadelphia, both Oscar-winning performances).  A wild card:  Bruce Dern.  The Academy loves old actors at the end of long careers, bu they usually give these honors in the Supporting category.  Sometimes excellent performances do cancel each other out and a dark horse walks away with the gold (witness Judy Holliday winning Best Actress over Gloria Swanson in Sunset Boulevard (whom I thought should have won), Bette Davis in All About Eve, and Anne Baxter in All About Eve; and Joel Grey winning Best Supporting Actor for Cabaret over The Godfather triumvirate of Al Pacino, Robert Duvall, and James Caan). If the Academy splits over Matthew, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Leonardo DiCaprio, Bruce could slip in...    

Best Actress:  Cate Blanchett, simply because she seems to be the favorite.

Best Supporting Actor:  Jared Leto.  He played a transgender AIDS patient, a good role way for the Academy to show they're politically correct.  Did I mention they love it when an actor drops significant weight for a part?  Fortunately, their preference for old guys with long careers (I think this explains Samuel L. Jackson's Pulp Fiction loss to Martin Landau and Eddie Murphy's Dreamgirls loss to Alan Arkin) isn't an issue, since all of this year's nominees are fairly young.

Best Supporting Actress:  Lupita Nyong'o.  Jennifer Lawrence's momentum is building, but I think Lupita has a stronger shot.  She is quickly becoming a fashion icon, which is in stark contrast to her role as a slave and a silent nod the magnitude of her acting talents.

I'll check in after the awards tomorrow night to see how I did...and if you have any predictions, I'd love to hear them!