January 2009 Archives

January 31, 2009

Alas, yet another Super Bowl Sunday in America is right around the corner. Most people have their traditions, getting together with family, deep frying things, drunken brawls with cousins post-game...I unfortunately do not have any longstanding traditions to look forward to. However, this year a very exciting event has peaked my interest (other than the prospect of baked macaroni and cheese and short lines at the supermarket during game time). In an unlikely match up, Sephora (those geniuses) is offering celebratory free shipping on every order from 1/31 to 2/2 with coupon code SUPERBOWL at checkout. Quite honestly, is there a more appropriate way to show my unbiased support of both teams and the great tradition of football than sitting in the comfort of my own home, face deep in junk food, shopping for makeup with free shipping and 4% cash back? I think not.

SmokyLash.jpgI can say for sure that a replacement tube of Makeup Forever Smoky Lash will be in my shopping cart, and I wholeheartedly recommend that you put one in yours too. As if I needed an excuse to praise my newest mascara obsession... allow me to list some things that make it praiseworthy. First, in a time where a $30 mascara doesn't cause beauty junkies to bat an eye, the $22 price is reasonable; especially with respect to how well this mascara works. It is at least four separate formulas in one. It thickens, lengthens, and holds a fantastic curl whilst providing the darkest black pigment without weighing lashes down. And for those of you traditionalists out there who are put off by the novelty application brush of some brands (Givenchy's Phenomen' Eyes, I still love you, I really do) Smoky Lash has the "Cadillac" of application brushes: perfect. classic. reliable. Makes any woman want to lash up.


This Superbowl, begin your own tradition with the help of Sephora and get free shipping on your favorite products (need I remind you, that it is like getting $5.95 off), 4% cash back, and something pretty to look forward to in five to seven business days.

Shop on!


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January 31, 2009

Abeate-For-PaylessPart of being "in the know", is knowing that fashion isn't just about expensive labels, snobby boutiques, and too-cool-for-school sales people. Fashion is an art form, and can't be held to just one stereotype. It can, however, be found in flea markets, mass retailers, on the sidewalk, and sitting on the shelves in Payless. Yes, Payless has joined the legions of retailers collaborating with top designers to bring their customers the most fashion-forward pieces at unfashionable prices.

Anyone who's read my blog is quite aware of my love for clothing lines Alice and Olivia, and Abaete. Both labels are known for their attention to detail and playful use of color, so imagine my surprise when I discovered these lines selling at Payless Shoe Source. From funky gladiator sandals to cute totes, the selection is big enough to satisfy anyone's taste. These Dylan Canvas Skimmers by Abaete are the perfect hybrid of cute flat meets practical sneaker. The best part about this shoe is how amazingly affordable it is, and at $28, this shoe is a steal compared to the line's normal selling range.

Payless also carries lines by Lela Rose as well as Patricia Field. Patricia was the head stylist on Sex and the City, and is one of my heroes for her use of high and low fashion. My favorite item in the collection is the Tango Coin Purse. Besides being impeccably cute, this coin purse can be clipped onto your jeans for a hands free night. Despite being tiny, it can easily hold credit cards, cash, and keys without looking bulky. At $20, it's a cheap alternative to an expensive clutch. Not that I don't love those too.....

 





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January 30, 2009

Greetings Ebaters, today I'm throwing you a curveball.  Instead of the usual Free Shipping Friday, I'm going to give you a few ideas on how to save a little more cash.  Besides, it's almost the end of the month, and that means that, like always, there would be far too many shipping deals to list anyways. So if you want the comprehensive list, just click here.

For the rest of us, I have a little idea ripped straight out of today's headlines. If you follow the news, especially the economy, you probably heard that Starbucks is planning on some major cutbacks. According to Newsday, the coffee chain will be cutting seven thousand jobs and closing three hundred stores, above and beyond the six hundred they started closing this past summer. See, I have personal interest in this since I was a green-aproned barista all through college, so I still try to keep an eye on my old company.

So what are we coffee fanatics supposed to do? Simple: in these economic times where both time and money are at a premium, make an investment and do it yourself. I'll tell you from personal experience, it's not that terribly difficult to do. I mean, come on, I was a coffee jockey for three years. Think of the screwup kids at the local cafes - you wonder how they can manage to dress themselves, but you entrust your wakeup juice to them every morning. Instead of trusting the highs and lows of your morning caffeine fix (or decaf or tea) to some stranger, learn exactly how to make your favorite drink and make it yourself in minutes.
 
delonghi dual coffee maker.jpgI recommend the DeLonghi Drip Coffee & Espresso Maker. This beauty comes with both an espresso maker and a drip coffee maker, so you can choose to make yourself either a morning latte or a pot o' joe depending on whether you hit your snooze bar one too many times. Plus, at $139.99, if you have a $5 a day coffee habit like most of America, you can pay for it all by just foregoing buying coffee for a month.

You'll even have a better spread than we have here at Ebates:
 coffee 001.jpg



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January 30, 2009

In an act of utter kindness, the calendar has given us a long weekend that happens to encompass one very special day. That day would be Valentine's Day. Typically V-day falls on a Tuesday, Thursday, or the night before the big presentation is due. In the past, Valentine's Day has always consisted of running home from work, throwing on whatever looks "cute", and waiting for a table while seated at the bar. By the time the bf and I are actually able to sit down to a meal, we're both too drunk and too cranky to enjoy ourselves. The evening is a blur, and next thing I know, it's time to get ready for work again.

So much for romance.

This year, though, the stars have aligned, and I intend on making this weekend the best it can be. I'm sure you'll want to do the same. So with that in mind, here are some weekend getaway ideas. These places are sure to put the spark back in your relationship, without burning a hole in your pocket.

Las-VegasFor those looking for a little less conversation, a little more action, Vegas is where it's at. Book by February 28th, and enjoy flight plus two nights hotel accommodations starting at $180. Shopping at Expedia gets you 1% cash back.

Note To Reader: Vegas weddings are in fact legal marriages, so please think twice.


cruise-ship.jpgSailing is the new flying, only the food is way better. Shop CheapTickets and sail for as low as $47 a night, plus enjoy other savings such as free onboard spending. CheapTickets will get you $2 cash back.

Note To Reader: Although the food is delicious and abundant, consuming 10,000 calories a day will have you in the hands of the ship's nurse. Unlike the commercials, she is not a bikini goddess.


Tudor Hotel New York.jpgThe Tudor Dynasty was an English family known for ending the War of The Roses, and for losing their wives. The Tudor Hotel in New York is known for being a historical landmark, and for having rooms as low as $107 a night. Receive $3 cash back.

Note To Reader: Book through Orbitz and say forget about it. The price, not your wife.


cars.jpgWith the airlines needing a kidney just to check your baggage, renting a car is more sensible than ever. The perks include exploring what lays beyond the backyard, and paying as little as $13.95 to do so. Rent your car through Hotwire and receive 2% cash back.

Note To Reader: Make use of comforts such as extended leg room and a guaranteed window seat. There is no in-flight movie, however use of electronics is always acceptable.

Have a Great Trip!



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January 29, 2009

cards2.jpgWith the bulk of our HDTV series over, it's time to relax and get ready for the impending awesome that is your amazing new HDTV. If you missed out on our tips in the previous three installments (featuring HDTV info, hands-on research, and the final touches to complete your HDTV heaven), feel free to give them a peek to help you pick out the best HDTV for your last-minute football party, or just to help you choose your new 'tube any time of year. Now that the gruntwork's behind me, how about I let you in on my own experience picking out a great HDTV online?

Much like I recommended earlier, my HDTV quest started with a bit of research. For starters, I had to pick out which kind of a HDTV set I wanted. Would LCD or Plasma be the best for me? After a bit of reading, I opted to go for the LCD since my living space is rather well-lit, and I wanted the vibrant colors of the LCD over the black depth that makes Plasmas shine in dark settings. Also, since I tend to watch/play a lot of things like video games and news stations that have stagnant images that tend to "burn into" screens, I didn't want to take the risk of damaging my TV. The choice was clear; I just needed to figure out what TV was right for me.

Shortly thereafter, I hit the streets to see if the LCDs actually delivered. To my surprise, they did. Set after set, the HDTVs with LCD technology looked generally brighter and clearer than their Plasma counterparts; so much so that I still opted for the LCD after picking out a little "motion blur" on the majority of the sets. With that said, one brand consistently stood out as the cream of the crop (especially when price was considered), and that brand was Samsung. While this may come as a bit of a surprise to some, Samsung has been one of the foremost manufacturers of LCD computer monitors for years now. With years and years of LCD production under their belt, it's obvious that Samsung is doing something right with the technology, as their screens looked great at practically any size.

Samsung_LN52A650.JPGOut of all of the Samsung models, though, the 650 series stood out to me as the TV with the best bang for my buck. While the 750 and 850 models are fine and dandy (and include a few superfluous additions in the way of inputs and features), the overall image quality varies so little, they might as well be overpriced doppelgangers. The 650 series features outstanding 120hz technology that eliminated most motion blur and makes people look "more real than real," and has speakers that outshine the 850 according to many reviewers. The viewing angle was outstanding and the picture was superb; I just had to get it.

After picking out the model of HDTV that impressed me the most, I ran back to my computer to find the best price. After looking around at Best Buy.com, Newegg, and even WalMart, I opted for Abe's of Maine for a few choice reasons. First, the HDTV was over $400 cheaper than in stores (and approximately $100-200 less than its online competitors) and featured free shipping. In addition to the free shipping, it included a free wall mount ($80+ value) and NO TAX. Toss in the $10 promotional code and 1% cash back, and I just couldn't say no. All in all, my combined savings came out to be somewhere in the $600-700 range just by doing my homework and shopping on the internet. Imagine how much you can save, too!

Within a week of ordering my HDTV, it was at my house. After gently unloading it from the shipping truck, I had a friend of mine lend me a hand with unpacking and setting it up in my house. It only took a few minutes to plug in the TV and unpack the remote, and viola! An HDTV of my dreams, in my very own home, with no dead pixels and no noticeable problems at all (knock on wood!). It's not too late to use in-store pickup and still save hundreds of dollars, so go get your big game HDTV before kickoff to ensure you have the best Super Bowl party yet!



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January 29, 2009

If you find that you have your makeup routine memorized to a point where you could literally apply every single product in your regime with your eyes closed or when you are half asleep, then it could be time to shake things up. We all have the bastard makeup items that stay hidden in the back of drawers, tucked inside dusty cases, and buried in old purses. But what happens to all the unused makeup techniques? The great thing about makeup and beauty products is that there really are no restrictions. Unlike fashion, where certain things are simply taboo or inappropriate, makeup is a fun way to express yourself and a great way to try new things and feel a little different for a day or night.

011609_goodwin_400X400.jpgMost women have their own modus operandi for applying eyeliner. Some apply thick lines, inner and outer lash line, there are thin lines, crooked lines, dashes, cat eyes. Essentially there is no single right or wrong way (I suppose some professionals would argue otherwise) to line the eye. Lately, it seems that partially lined eyes are making an appearance. Instyle.com tells us how to get the partially lined look as seen on Ginnifer Goodwin (pictured left). I really like the look, it is subtle and natural looking, which is a nice reprieve from the heavy liquid liner trend. Plus it makes eyes look bigger and more open, which is great for day time and when you are feeling a little too tired.

Eyeliner.jpgGet this look in a flash with Avon ANEW Smoothing Eyeliner. At a great bargain of just $6, with 5% cash back, this product is formulated with retinol to aid in diminishing fine lines and it will go on smoothly to avoid the dreaded pull and tug of other liners. Plus, it has has a smudger on the end, which is key for this look. Get it by drawing a line from pupil to outer corner on the top lid. Follow with the same technique on the lower lash line. Use the smudger on the end to blend where the lines meet at the outer corner of the eye. And Viola, you are done!

So add this trick to the routine and who knows, it could even change how you line your eyes forever!


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January 28, 2009



Who doesn't love horses and ponies? I don't really want to know. But I tell you this much: if you're in the opposite camp, and you love ponies as much as the rest of us, then Back in the Saddle is the site for you.

It doesn't matter if you're a full fledged cowboy (or cowgirl), if you're an avid rider, or if you just happen to enjoy the majesty and beauty of the equine; Back in the Saddle has everything for the horse enthusiast. To be completely honest, and this is not coming in an ironic or disingenuous way, I had no idea up to this point that there was this much horse-related stuff out there. I have friends who ranch, I have friends who ride, and I have friends who are just "in to horses" but I didn't know that you could get a "human hugging a horse" statue to put in your home or a DVD shot in documentary style of the true nature of horses.

What's even more interesting to me, is they have a gift section of gifts you can get your horse. I always thought horses just ate carrots and apples and other assorted produce, but apparently you can buy fortified treats for your horse right here too. But the selection is not related strictly to gifts or obscure items; you can also get most riding supplies at Back in the Saddle as well, all with 6% cash back from Ebates.


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January 28, 2009

Bridezilla1Writing about wedding dresses is something best left to two groups of women. Those who have walked down the aisle, and those who are planning to walk down the aisle. I belong to group three which I like to call the delusional group. There is no wedding, no fiance, and not even a suitor who could be coerced into becoming a fiance. The only aisles I walk down happen to be at my local grocery store. Regardless of this slight oversight, I shop for wedding dresses on a fairly regular basis. Like I said, delusional.

Another group of women I belong to is the vintage lover group. This group is known for it's love of rare finds that we believe to be one of a kind, and we convince ourselves of this feverishly by spending $80 on a tattered blouse. The older and more torn the garment, the more authentic, and therefore distinct, we look. This mentality applies to wedding dresses as well as Mexican peasant blouses, 50's prom dresses, and of course the oh so popular vintage concert t-shirts. You weren't born when the band played Monterey Pop, but your dad's-friend's-brother was.

Vintage ebay Wedding Dress.jpgBesides wanting to look like I don't shop at David's Bridal, there's something utterly romantic about a garment made so long ago. There's no argument that the quality of lace and beading is simply unparalleled in today's clothing. When I do someday walk down an aisle not filled with canned pork and beans, I want to look unique and not mass produced. This is where eBay comes in handy. For those seeking the rare, ebay's extensive vintage collection ranges from post-Civil War era, to today. There's something for everyone, no matter what you're looking for. Check often, as new items are listed and quickly auctioned off everyday.

One piece I found devastatingly beautiful was this beaded gown from the 30's. One length in the front, the fabric on this piece splits into two tiers, giving the illusion of a train. Although this gown is within the cream family, the soft palette is more romantic to me than ordinary white. There's even a pink velvet belt for added glamour. I envision wearing this with my hair wrapped in bold flowers such as fuchsia Petunias. The look is very old southern charm, and for a yankee such as myself, a nice change of pace. Shopping on eBay through Ebates will get you 3% cash back, however there are some restrictions. Cash back is not offered to real estate deals, eBay motors, and other big tickets items like business/industrial. For those shopping for everything else, eBay has it and then some.

"Do you know the way to use eBay? Millions of people do, so can you let's start today..."  



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January 27, 2009

Welcome back to our third installment of our four-part HDTV series on buying your perfect Super Bowl HDTV online! We started off the series by telling you some handy tips to know before picking out your high def 'tube last Thursday, and directed you to your local store on Saturday to find the most eye-catchingly beautiful set you could find. Today, we're back to seal the deal by finding the lowest price on your perfect HDTV.

The internet is a place filled with many websites; many of them nefarious, but the majority benign and/or useful. Aside from the wondrous land of Ebates, there exist myriad price comparison websites for you to check out and help you find the lowest prices on the internet.  Whenever you're looking to get any big ticket item over the internet, it's a smart idea to look for the lowest price at a website such as PriceGrabber or Froogle before coming back to Ebates to get your sweet, sweet cash back. Even though it's a few extra clicks you might not have done otherwise, knowing that Newegg has the same HDTV for $100 less than Sears (or vice versa!) makes it all worthwhile.

If you don't want to head out to other non-Ebates sites, there are a few places you should be sure to check for the amazing HDTV you found last weekend. When I discovered my dream HDTV (the Samsung 650 LCD HDTV) when I was looking at Sears, I had to check multiple retailers to find the best deal. Surprisingly, the lowest price on my HDTV wasn't found at the usual Sears, Best Buy, or Wal-Mart, but from internet-only retailers like Newegg and Abe's of Maine. Don't be afraid to try out a new, respectable internet retailer for your big purchase - with a little bit of feedback research at places like Reseller Ratings, you can get a great deal from a great, new place.

While these little tips may aid you in your search, there are a few big issues that everyone should take into account when getting a HDTV off of the internet. Thus begins today's installment of our series:

Ready to Buy? Last-Minute HDTV Preparations!

shipShipping costs
Make sure you're saving every step of the way!

Oh, shipping. The biggest burden facing any prospective big screen HDTV buyer, and rightfully so. Would you believe that some places want to charge you upwards of $150 to $200 just to ship a HDTV to your door? Absurd! Because of such ridiculous costs, it's always good to shop around at multiple retailers to see who has the best deal on shipping. The same HDTVs are sold at multiple retailers, so be sure to type in the model number at various stores until you find one with free/cheap shipping and a good price. Generally speaking, Abe's of Maine has free shipping on all HDTVs, but many other retailers offer similar discounts depending on the week. Abe's usually gives you a "confirmation call" to add on cables and other accessories, but as long as you stay strong and stick to your guns, you should be able to pull through just fine.

There are a few different kinds of shipping options available, and it's important to know what you're getting beforehand. The most basic form of shipping is ground shipping, which takes the HDTV from the seller's warehouse, onto a truck, and to your doorstep. In addition to basic shipping, many retailers offer a "premium" or "upgraded" level of shipping where your precious HDTV is strapped to a palette, placed in one truck, and driven to your door. Whether this actually makes a difference is debatable, as most retailers will replace sets that are damaged in shipping.

At the top of the shipping spectrum sits the mysterious "White Glove"  option; a shipping option so fancy, it's only mentioned in certain locales and offered at a most exorbitant price.  With White Glove shipping, you get the HDTV carefully delivered to your door, taken into the room of your choice, and unpacked before your eyes. The delivery company does almost everything, with one glaring exception: installation. It's still your job to plug things in and set up the surrounding area, but White Glove shipping is another option worth considering if you have the cash and want things done nicely.

A final note on shipping: you can use In-Store Pickup at a handful of retailers to save big on the outlandish shipping costs many of the "big box" stores tend to have. You can save huge at Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Home Depot, and a few other stores by having your HDTV shipped to the store, so consider this option if you have a car large enough to shove an HDTV into!

mount2.jpgMounting/Shelving
Because that HDTV has to go somewhere!

Great! You've picked out the HDTV of your dreams, found the lowest price by checking a few websites, and even nailed some free shipping. Awesome! Now, where in the heck are you going to put it? That old rusty nail will not cut it, so if you're looking to mount your HDTV make sure to get a mounting kit along with your TV. Some retailers will occasionally have a free mount special included with the TV, but you should make sure it's the mount you want. Do you want it to tilt up and down, or pop out and swivel side to side? The choice is yours. Just make sure you have at least two sturdy studs on your prospective wall (unless you're mounting into concrete), and you should be good to drill in no time!

Another easy option is a nice stand. There's a stand for almost any kind of HDTV setup you can think of, but if you're looking for security as well as style, you might want to opt for a HDTV stand that comes with a mounting pole as well. This allows you to "mount" the TV above the stand, giving it a little extra security in case you're in an earthquake zone (or have children). Whichever way you mount it, make sure it's setup before you get there, and secure once mounted!

dve.jpgSetup
You wanted the best, right?

If you went out last week like I instructed, then you're ready to buy the best damn HDTV your eyes have ever seen (in its respective price range). However, you ain't seen nothin' yet. All HDTVs come with a stock picture that is good, but can almost always be made better with the proper tuning tools. Read up on fine-tuning your HDTV here, or pick up an incredibly useful tuning DVD/Blu-Ray such as Digital Video Essentials. It will help you get the most out of your set, and will take your new HDTV viewing experience to a whole 'nother level!

With all the knowledge you've amassed over the last few days, it's officially time to make your Super Bowl purchase of a lifetime! Check back in next week when we recap the wealth of HDTV knowledge, and I share my personal tale of succesfully buying a beautiful HDTV online!



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January 27, 2009


Sex and the City.jpgAs reported earlier this week, a Sex and the City Sequel has been confirmed as your favorite set of New York City BFFs are on board for a follow up to last summer's mega hit spinoff to the cult-classic television show. Like many devoted fans, I am not sure how I feel about the news. I could never NOT be excited to see ladies of Sex and the City, but the last film did not even remotely compare to the greatness of the television show. And a sequel to the movie could be even more of a departure from the individuality and greatness that spoke to so many single women for so many years. This same sentiment is shared by most SATC fans I have spoken to about the news, but we do have sometime to make up our minds about it.  The release of the second film is obviously a long way out, shooting is not even rumored to begin until this summer.


SATCCompleteSet.jpgSo whats a fan to do in the meantime? Satiate you desire for quality time with your favorite friends by watching the series from start to finish. If you don't have the complete series, start building your collection now and catch up with the gals one season at a time. Get the complete series collectors set from Target for 67% off at just $99 with 4% cash back. You'll save almost $200! It could possibly be one of the best ways on earth to spend a hundred bucks and it will provide endless entertainment. Looking to give a Valentines Day gift to someone special? This is a fantastic gift for a Valentine if you are not looking to go the "jewelry and chocolate" route.

Regardless of how you feel about the first installment to the SATC movie franchise, it really is a feel-good watch and a necessary addition to the DVD collection. Get it from Best Buy for just $24.99 (for the special collectors' edition) with 1% cash back and speedy shipping. By the time you have exhausted all Sex and the City moments on DVD, you will, like me, be ready for some more... just in time for the sequel!


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January 27, 2009

Since the beginning of the current economic downturn, pundits have been talking about everyone's need to scrimp and save. Everyone I know has been tightening their budget, being smarter with their money, and cutting back on luxuries that were much more commonplace as recently as nine months ago. One such way in which people are cutting back these days is the newfangled invention of the "stay-cation." The seemingly simple premise is this: you give yourself a mini vacation without ever leaving your city of residence. Sometimes you might go one or two towns away, but still, you're not booking flights or trains, and ideally you're not driving too terribly far.  I have heard of people doing things like getting massages, booking a night in a local luxury hotel and taking advantage of all the amenities they have to offer, or just treating themselves to a night out at a fancy restaurant.

Today, I'm going to take the idea of the stay-cation one further, and show you how to enjoy a nice stay-cation while leaving the car in the garage and staying within the comfortable confines of your own home. Personally, I find stay-cations are most effectively taken towards the end of the regular work week, since it's a day you might usually be in the office, and you aren't influenced to fall into your standard weekend routine. Rather you can enjoy the day by waking up late, making a nice brunch for yourself and your loved one(s). Then spend the day relaxing: take a bubble bath (assuming you have a bath tub), take a nap if you want, watch a favorite movie, or get out and get some exercise - whatever floats your boat. Then, as the evening falls, light some candles and treat yourself to a gourmet meal - delivered to your doorstep. Whatever your taste may be, you can find it all at Legal Sea Foods.


legal_sf.JPG

While their area of expertise is seafood (hence the name), Legal Sea Foods has a vast array of gourmet dishes to excite and entice the palette. Whether your taste is for lobster, crab, shrimp, steak, pork chops, Angus hamburgers, or good old fashioned New England Clam Chowder, you can find it all at Legal, along with sides, appetizers, and desserts. The best part is, most of their selection comes pre-prepared, so all you're doing is warming the items up in your own microwave or oven. That means no cooking mess, and hopefully very little cleanup after the fact. If you're going to complete your stay-cation, you can get to bed a little early, and leave the dishes for another day. What's better, is not only do you save a lot of money in comparison to what you'd pay for meals like these in restaurants, you also earn 6% cash back on all your purchases, which you can put in your piggy bank to help pay for your next "stay-cation."



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January 26, 2009

The SAG awards show always makes for an interesting night. It is a celebratory event put on by the Screen Actor's Guild where actors win awards voted upon by their peers. It is really a night that celebrates the craft by way of the individual performance and ensemble cast in film and television. As far as awards shows go, it is known to be more of a laid back and relaxed atmosphere. The event is not televised by a major network, and therefore does not have the same fan following and intense media coverage as other awards shows. This, coupled with the relaxed tradition of the awards show, tends to reflect in the fashion choices by the attendees. The event is still very formal, but stars make more personalized and slightly riskier choices in their ensembles for the evening. This year, it was impossible to ignore the presence of bold colors on many of the nights attendees. Dresses worn by Kate Winslet, Christina Applegate, Amy Adams, Eva Longoria Parker, and newcomer Freida Pinto all boasted bright, vivid colors. It truly was a night of gorgeous dresses, and there did not seem to be too many standouts for the worst dressed of the night. Conversely, there was also a trend of white dresses (an homage to the first lady perhaps) worn by Anne Hathaway, Teri Hatcher and others. See all the SAG fashions at E! Online.

KateWinsletSAG.jpgMy personal favorite of the ladies in bold brights was Kate Winslet. I think the color was magnificent and the dress also fit her figure perfectly resulting in the one of the best dressed stars of the night, and even of the entire awards season. We can all take a cue from Kate Winslet's electric blue Narciso Rodriguez gown to update a lackluster wardrobe. Electric blue is a great color to incorporate into your closet because it flatters a spectrum of skin tones and works for day and evening. Most importantly, the color strikes an ideal balance between classy and playful for the ultimate statement.


AdriannaPapellDress.jpg This form-fitting Adrianna Papell Pleated Dress boasts an electric blue hue with a similar modern take on the sweetheart neckline. It is date ready with fun, bold accessories and can become more sophisticated with a metallic shoe and drop earrings. Get it from Nordstrom for a jaw-dropping steal of just $158 with 3% cash back!

Make a statement for your next night out whether in bold colors or dazzling whites, and feel like a movie star for the evening.

Shop on!


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January 26, 2009

Mom Saying.jpgMurphy's Law says whatever can happen, will happen. Such was the case Friday when I seemed to have entered the Bermuda Triangle of stupidity, which, although entirely my fault, wasn't any less annoying. Until I reached my desk, the morning consisted of spilled coffee, an ill-working umbrella, drenched clothing, and wild hair fit for a grizzly bear.

Note To Self: Do Not Forget Where The Car Is Parked
Question To Self: How's Do You Lose A 2000lb Piece Of Metal?
Answer To Self: Listen, Like I Haven't Done Worse

After a rather normal day at work I set off to a very special birthday party for a very special five year old. My gifts were books for the birthday girl, and lots of wine for mom and I. Although I have yet to have children, friends of mine that have taken the leap into diaper land, always seem to be elated whenever I come around. I always thought this was due to my outstanding personality, but apparently it's the alcohol and promise of a "grownup" night. "You have no idea how nice it is to talk to an adult" they always gush. "Really?" I wonder. Because my adult filled day consisted of a rude bus driver, a pissy bf, and a slightly neurotic mom. Right now, your one year old is looking like the coolest human I've been around in weeks.

The one thing I take away from visits with my mommy friends is their need to have a place to unwind. Between the kid's toys and the husband's dirty socks, the moms I know are in desperate need of a little atmosphere. A world in which they can unwind and pretend they're, well, me for an hour. A good friend of mine gave up on having an entire room to herself, so instead she transformed a corner of a room. She hung a shelved mirror adorned with candles, purchased a comfy rocking chair, and added some throw pillows for comfort. She now has "Mommy Time" by turning the chair to face the wall and whipping out a book. Her children think she's giving herself a time-out, but hey, whatever works, works.

An easy way to create atmosphere is through the use of candles. There's somethingMetal Candle Globes.jpg incredibly calming about the glow of a candle, and these Metal Orb Chandeliers are a great way to add charm without worrying junior will burn the house down. I love the modern/romantic look of these wrought-iron chandeliers, and since these are hung from the ceiling, there's zero risk of spilling hot wax. The picture shows these with imitation leaves, but I like the idea of the votives being alone, plus it gives more light. I also like that these are 50% off, for a savings of $64. Placed in a corner, or hung in the bathroom, these modern day chandeliers add warmth and peace to a hectic household.

Another thing I assume will ease mom's mind is having a clutter-free house. I know how easy it is for a house to get cluttered when there's more than one person living there, but more than two? I'd lose my mind. Thankfully there's furniture designed for the storage and hiding of anything you don't need lying around. Nothing does this better than a classic mudroom/entry way bench. This Mission Storage Bench from Target is perfect for hiding shoes, umbrellas, or anything else that can be described as "clutter." It costs just $129.99, and you'll receive 4% cash back, adding some savings to your peace of mind. A great addition to any room, this bench also makes a great storage place for linens, pillows, even toys. It may not be the fanciest piece of furniture, but as my mommy friends know, it's the simple things in life that count. If only they taught this to singles like myself.
 


For any childless women out there with childful friends - do something nice and offer a free night of babysitting. It will keep your loved ones sane, and will give you a better excuse than PMS to bake yet another batch of cookies. When it's your turn to be the mom, you'll be glad to receive all the helping hands you can get!


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January 25, 2009

Back on Friday, I started a little HDTV series to help you pick out the best HDTV for Super Bowl XLIII. However, it's not as easy as making a single recommendation to everyone who stumbles across this blog. Since we all have different rooms, different lighting, and different things that we want out of our home theater setup, it's important to do your homework before splurging on your big purchase. Because of that, I urge you to head back and find out what size and type of TV is right for you. After you figure out what you're looking for, you're ready for part two of our four part series:

Heading out to the stores!

There are no buts about it - the best prices to be had on a TV are found on the internet. However, with TVs being the fickle electronics that they tend to be, you can't always rely on reviews and manufacturers spec sheets, like you can with other electronic devices. Generally speaking, a DVD player or laptop that is powerful and has good reviews will work great for you, but when it comes down to something as objective as your perception of a "good" or "bad" image, you truly have to see the TVs with your own eyes. And since it's the weekend, why not get out of the house, get on your feet, and stretch your legs a little?

For this reason, I suggest you step away from the computer and do some hands-on research. Head on over to your local Sears, Best Buy, or any other nearby retailer stocking copious amounts of big screen HDTVs and write down whichever ones catch your eye. Of course, it's important to know that the displays on many of the HDTVs are not optimized for the best color or brightness, but there's no better way to gauge an HDTV's strengths and weaknesses than through your own eyes. With that said, there are some particular things you'll want to keep in mind when checking out the various sets, so read up before heading out for your weekend stroll!

ViewingAngle.jpgViewing Angle
Your HDTV should look good, everywhere!

Take a good, hard look at any HDTV in front of you. Now take a few steps to the right. And then a few more. Many HDTVs, especially low-end Plasmas, don't look very good when viewed from the sides. While the sweet spot will always be right in front of the action, you can minimize the distortion by picking out a TV that looks good from all angles.  Be sure to note any sort of color change, brightness decline, or fuzziness that occurs when you move around looking at the TV - if it looks  unwatchable in the store, your buddies will be just as disappointed when you bring it home.

tv_sharp1.jpgImage Quality
Clear! Not dark and blurry!

This one may be the trickiest to discern, but when looking at all the different HDTVs in front of you, which looks the best? Which one "pops" out to you? Do you notice any motion blur when objects move on screen? Is there any burn-in present? Even though the latter only really applies to Plasmas (and the second to LCDs), it's important to give stare long and hard at the HDTVs to get a good idea for which one is right for you. Don't be afraid to talk to the sales people and have them put on a Blu-Ray for you - the best way to tell whether or not a HDTV is worth the money is by pushing it to the limit, and if you're not blown away by the picture quality, you should move on to another TV.

brightness.jpgBrightness/Contrast/Colors
Make that picture pop!

When looking into HDTVs, it's important to take into account the variables that make up the picture that you're seeing. While all of these variables can be tweaked on any TV to get a better picture when you take it home, a TV that looks exceedingly dull on the showroom floor probably won't look much better anywhere else. Talk to a salesperson and see if you can toy with the settings yourself - you don't want to write off a perfectly good HDTV if someone before you just happened to turn the brightness all the way down. As a general rule, plasmas have deeper, darker black levels than LCDs, and make a good purchase for areas with dim lighting. If you've got a bright den, though, the vibrant colors and mid-level blacks of an LCD might look just perfect for you.

samsung_quad_hd.jpgResolution and Features
Get the most out of your investment!

While you can get some great deals on big screen, low-resolution Plasmas, you should really opt to spend a little extra money on something nicer that will last you a while. Don't settle for a puny $500 32" 720p set when you can spend an extra $3-400 and get a nice 42" 1080p HDTV that's truly worthy of your front room! With the big Digital Conversion on February 17th looming right around the corner, you're going to need to upgrade anyway. Why not treat yourself accordingly?

The biggest numbers you're going to want to look into for your TV set are its screen size, and resolution. On most networks, HD TV is transmitted in 720p - the standard resolution that every HDTV can handle. However, there's something better -1080p - which is a resolution "beyond HD" that is exclusive to Blu-Ray movies and other "true HD" video sources. Your cable TV HD is nice, but a Blu-Ray movie on a nice 1080p HDTV should blow you away. If you aren't floored by your HDTV, you're doing it wrong, so make sure to examine all your options!

Remember kids: you can study the LCD vs. Plasma debate until your eyes burn, but the old adage "beauty's in the eye of the beholder" has never been truer than when it comes to HDTVs. For this very reason, the first step in choosing the right gameday 'tube is to do the footwork and get out there and find the perfect TV for you. Only then can you come back home to your computer - and Ebates - and save hundreds of dollars on the TV that makes the whole neighborhood drool on February 1st. Check back on Monday when I help you finally find that earth shattering HDTV deal,  and save you hundreds on the perfect Game Day setup!


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January 24, 2009

It is truly amazing how a shoe can completely change an outfit, a wardrobe, and even a state of mind. Most women would agree that a certain pair of shoes can dictate their mood, a special pair of heels can make them feel extra bold and sexy, and transform an outfit from o.k. to amazing. I am sure many women would shamelessly credit a pair of shoes for getting them a date or promotion they wanted, they may even credit their shoes with getting them through hard times. Plain and simple, while it may be a tough reality to admit to a fashionite like myself who is not that in to shoes, most often the success of an outfit relies solely on the footwear you choose. So, in an effort to stick to my resolution of reconsidering my style and taking risks, I thought I would build my shoe collection, one pair at a time.

TheorySandal.jpgMy preconceived notions about the importance of shoes was confirmed when I saw these amazing Theory Vidar sandals. Instantly, potential outfits flashed in my head and I knew they would fit seamlessly into my existing wardrobe, which was the only way to justify the $335 price tag, that and how amazing I would feel in them every single time I wore them. The shoes strike a great balance between being perfectly in style but also classic enough to last beyond a single season. Spring's trends are all about the statement shoe, and I think that this is a great way to get the look without making an investment in an item that is too of-the-moment. So, while it may be a long time until I can actually wear them, I can start saving now and reward myself as soon as spring arrives. You can get them at Piperlime with free shipping (both ways) and 3% cash back. I will feel solace too, in knowing that the more I spend, the more cash back I earn...



CaisSandal.jpgIf you love the look but want it for less, try this chic BCBGMAXAZRIA 'Casis' sandal from Nordstrom, for $198 with 6% cash back. It will look great with slim pants and pair perfectly with all the lady-like frocks for spring!

Shop on!


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January 24, 2009

Moroccoan-LobbyThe L Mansion Hotel in Marrakesh, Morocco is one of the premier spots for those seeking luxury in one of the world's most exotic locations. The photo to the left shows the opulent lobby, where the colorful mosaics and ornate architecture hint at another time. In other words, this photo represents my idea of the perfect vacation. When planning a vacation, attire goes hand in hand with location, and can set the tone of the trip. A Winter getaway to Aspen requires cozy knit socks, cashmere wraps, and heavy wool cardigans perfect for sipping coffee on the veranda. A trip to St. Tropez requires clothing fit for the beach as well as late night parties. Clothing choices, like vacations, are meant to make a woman feel amazing, and nothing does this better than Cruise/Resort Wear.

DVF Scarf Gown.jpgAttire is everything when on vacation. The right dress can elevate your night from great to unforgettable, the right bathing suit can make going to the pool a pleasure, or a pain. And the right jewelry? Well that goes without saying. Spring trends this year are all about bold, colorful, even neon colors with a strong emphasis on tailoring. Resort/Cruisewear this year follows that trend, but with a touch of luxury. This season I've noticed a return to "smart" dressing, with designers creating pieces that have an air of sophistication, instead of the all-too-common sex appeal. Oscar De La Renta's Resort Collection embodies this look with pieces such as silk shantung pants, and a floral brocade skirt. 

Nothing says "I'm on vacation" like the perfect dress. Something light and airy, yet luxurious. This Scarf Gown by Diane Von Furstenberg is perfect for any warm weather occasion. The magic of this dress is it's versatility. Whether paired with heels, or sandals and a denim jacket, this dress is the perfect feel-good piece. I love how the black and white asymmetrical print with punches of bright yellow has a nautical feel to it. The shoulder straps made of rope add to this playful vibe. Shopping with Saks not only earns you cash back, but their designer videos are a great introduction to Spring's upcoming trends. My favorite is the debut of Oscar De La Renta's Resort Collection, which can be viewed here.

Enjoy and Have a Good Trip!



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January 23, 2009

Whether you're a student, "cube monkey", or rasterbator, printer ink has always been the lifeblood of any computing environment. But have you ever stopped to think how little ink fills those precious little overpriced ink cartridges everyone is wont to purchasing every few months? According to HP patents and a little internet research, picking up a gallon of HP's "black gold" would cost you over $8,000 a pop - shedding some light on why those tablespoons worth of ink in your puny ink cartridge can cost you over $32! Considering you could get almost 4,000 gallons of gas for the same price, there's always something to be thankful for at the pump!

CAN00001.jpgBecause of such exorbitantly high ink costs, few people are surprised to see the bevy of ink websites on Ebates.com, some boasting cash back percentages as large as 16 & 17%. What is surprising, however, is how much you can save by buying compatible, third-party cartridges online. Why spend upwards of $50 for a complete ink set in stores when you can get the whole kit-'n-kaboodle for almost half the price? These replacement ink jet cartridges even contain the all-important "reset chip" that allows your printer to accurately determine the amount of ink present in the cartridges - saving you the time and hassle of turning off your ink warnings in your printer settings!

Since this deal looks to be a bit too awesome, I've just picked up some much needed print cartridges from 4inkjets for my home printer and will report back with the findings. Many of my friends have had success with similar "imitation" brands and refill systems, so why not give it a go online? With such huge rebates to be had (as well as low, low prices), it was a no brainer for me to give it a try. Check back in a week or two when I follow up with my impressions of the ink - and to see if it holds up to the $8,000/gallon standard my printer came with!


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January 23, 2009

free_friday.gif

Greetings friends! Here we are, yet again, enjoying the finale of yet another week. I will admit to you, folks, this week's pickings for Free Shipping are a little slim.  But that's no reason to be discouraged! I will also say that the week after this is loaded with shipping deals, since, as usual, they all seem to hit at the end of the month.

Friday, January 23rd


- Dockers has free shipping when you buy full-priced pants as long as you enter the code PRESIDENT at check out. Hooray for presidential pants!

Saturday, January 24th

- Dick's Sporting Goods is offering Free Shipping On Select Bikes

- Just in time for your "get healthy" resolutions, Vitamin World has free shipping on orders $50 or more. Use code TAVWF50 at checkout to take advantage of this great deal.

Sunday, January 25th

- Lancome is offering Free Shipping plus a Deluxe Sample Collection with your $50 order with coupon code NEWYEAR9

Thursday, January 29th

- Despite the fact that we just offer a flat dollar amount of cash back, TiVo is still eligible for free shipping plus three months free with a TiVo DVR.


So there you have it. Like I said, pickins are a little slim this week, but next week should more than make up for that! Don't forget - for the whole rundown, just click on good ol' Max Cash or the Free Shipping truck.


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January 22, 2009

Super_Bowl_XLIII_Logo.pngWith the AFC and NFC titles officially clenched by the Steelers and Cardinals (respectively), Super Bowl preparation has been officially kicked into overdrive! Sure, you'll need your chips, dips, and possibly some big ol' honkin' steaks to toss on the grill, but when it comes to The Big Game, one thing matters more than anything else: the TV. You can have the most delicious snacks and the comfiest couches in all the land, but if you can't see and feel the hits on the field, what's the point? When it comes to the Super Bowl, you have to go big or go home. And that's exactly why I'm here to talk about getting the biggest bang for your buck - with Ebates of course!

HDTV prices have been falling steadily over the past year, and there's never been a better time to splurge on the TV of the dreams. With the impending Digital Conversion coming on February 17th, you're going to need to upgrade or buy a conversion box anyways - so why not just sieze this opportunity for all it's worth?  By purchasing your TV over the internet (and through Ebates) you can save literally HUNDREDS of dollars on the exact same TV that you would find in stores - the only difference being that a truck brings the TV straight to your door instead of the store's! Many of us are a little reluctant to buy something so large and expensive over the internet, but I'm here to tell you that it's really not that scary at all! If I can do it, you can do it too, and there's no better time than now to cash in on all those pre-Super Bowl sales!

If you're looking for the ultimate gameday TV, it's obviously going to need to be something big and clear. Unfortunately, it's not as easy as opting for the "Awesome" model, so if you really want the best TV your money can buy, you're going to have to do a little research. Before you go and stare blankly at the hundreds of sets that litter your nearest big box store, find out which HDTV is right for you!

LCD vs. Plasma
The Big Decision

plasvslcd.jpgThe debate for the ages; which type of HDTV is perfect for you? While there may be no one right answer for everyone, there are some clear-cut advantages, and disadvantages to each that might help you pick out the right type of HDTV for your home. First, Plasma HDTVs have been around longer, and rely on a completely different technology to product their images than an LCD screen. You can read about the science of it, but the biggest differences most can tell between the two types of screens are their black levels. Since Plasma pixels have the ability to effectively "turn off" black pixels, while LCD pixels use the most power "emitting" black, a comparatively-priced Plasma almost always has a darker image. While this is a definite plus in dimly-lit rooms, LCD HDTVs generally stand out in brighter rooms because of their slightly more vivid image that stands out when compared side-by-side.

Personally, I prefer LCD HDTVs because of their ease of use with computers (and ability to be used as a completely competent and massive computer monitor), straightforward 1080p output, and lack of any image retention whatsoever. It's very hard to get a "burnt in" image on any TV nowadays, but LCD HDTVs are almost guaranteed to never suffer from any gaming or news-related image retention. Of course they do still have a little bit of image "trailing," or "motion blur," but the newer 120 hz models do a pretty decent job of mellowing it out.
There is a whole slew of other features to take into account, but figuring out what's best for your setup is what's most important. Do your research before leaving to check them out for yourself!

HDTV Size
How big is too big?

sizechart.jpgChances are you'll want a big TV for the game. But how big is too big? Believe it or not, there really is such a thing. If you're less than eight feet away from your screen, a 52" monster in your living room will likely leave you with a headache after a short while. This handy chart will give you an idea of the ideal size for your living room, and allows you to better "guesstimate" the amount of funding you'll need for the the TV of your dreams. So break out that measuring tape and figure out the exact size of TV that is perfect for your digital den!

Price Range
Be thrifty, but be happy!


sagind.jpgLike it or not, the biggest determining factor in your HDTV purchase is price. Think about how much money you can put into your gameday account - in my opinion, you'll likely want to set aside at least $1000 for a quality HDTV over 40". You could get something as large as 46" for under $800 - but you certainly get what you pay for.  Remember: price points are only suggestive marks of quality, and there are multiple model numbers made by each manufacturer for you to take into account. Check out your finances and pick out a number, you'll already be saving hundreds off of comparative retail prices, so why not get something truly great instead of just "okay"?

By knowing how much you're looking to spend on the right size and style of HDTV ahead of time, you can make a much more educated decision when you finally go to look for the perfect display for Super Bowl XLIII. Check back Saturday morning when we return with the second part of our HDTV series, which will get you out of the house and (eventually) back onto the computer to find the best deal on the HDTV of your dreams!


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January 22, 2009

People often say that when you encounter your soulmate, you know it immediately. I am admittedly skeptical of this frame of mind, but then again, it has never happened to me. That is, until I came across something magnificent, something so beautiful and perfect, I knew it would complete me and in that instant my tireless search was finally over.

LaLaqueFever.jpgWhen I saw Lancome's Spring 2009 collection, I was excited to take a look, but when I saw the newest shade of La Laque Fever, I knew I was in love. I had been looking for the perfect shade of electric pink lipgloss to complete my pink lip color collection, and this color is definitely the missing link. ElectricPink.gifThe color is concentrated and opaque, as you would expect from a lipstick, however, it has the easy application and shine expected of a great gloss. To add to the perfection, the gloss is extremely long lasting and claims to require no touch ups for six hours. It is available directly from Lancome for $26 with 6% cash back. To make the entire purchase even more appealing, if you spend $50, you will receive a deluxe sample and free shipping. Sometimes when you can't fall in love, you can buy the most perfect gloss.


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January 21, 2009

I've talked often about my love of all things leather, and this season is no different. Although the question remains: exactly which season is that? Technically it's still Winter, yet here in San Francisco the cold rain has faded into what can only be described as a very early Spring. The past week has seen temperatures hovering near seventy, prompting me to ravage through my closet in search of sandals, tank tops, and other warm weather items. While the unexpected warmth has me twirling like Mary Tyler Moore and singing "I'm Gonna Make It", I couldn't be any less prepared for such a swift change in style.

It's one thing when the seasons change slowly and naturally, leaving a girl a few months to forecast the trends, shop out the best deals, shave her legs. It's another when such an abrupt change leaves zero time for preparations such as the extremely necessary pedicure, without which would leave grown men crying in terror. Well, maybe that's a tad over-dramatic but you get the point. All I can say is thank god for flats.

William-Rast
Assuming Spring is upon me, or at the very least the harshest winter weather is over, I have started taking stock of what currently hangs in my wardrobe. Much to my delight, my closet stands in pretty good condition. There are billowy blouses perfect for days when a tank will leave me shivering, flats for everyday commuting, and the most adorable neon lucite slingbacks one could ever set eyes on. I watched these shoes feverishly for months until they went on sale, allowing me to snag them and pay the rent. If that isn't dedication/addiction, I don't know what is.

In addition to new jeans, a pair of moccasins, and maybe a dress, there's really just one piece that gets me from point A to point B: The perfect jacket. Something that is cool over a dress, a turtleneck, and a t-shirt. Something that is low key, but chic at the same time. Something that gets heads turning and draws stares of envy. This William Rast Jacket is just that something. Featuring an asymmetrical zipper and braided epaulets, this jacket is the essence of cool. Waiting a week for this to arrive will seem like an eternity. If by some force of nature the weather should shift back to cold, I can relish in the fact that this jacket will keep me warm, and will look utterly amazing with the right scarf. Now 40% off at Nordstrom (3% cash back), this jacket will be one of those items I refer to as a "piece" and I'm already thinking of what to name my new child.

Any thoughts?



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January 21, 2009

2009-01-21-michelleobama_jasonwu_inauguralball.jpgJudging by America's reaction to Michelle Obama's stunning appearance last night, I was not the only person to immediately gasp in awe at how beautiful and classy she looked for the inaugural events. Collectively, did we all smile then, when the first thing out of the new president's mouth was "First of all, how good-looking is my wife?" The comment was so sincere and so true that we all couldn't help but be proud of the first couple of the United States.

It was hard to top the gorgeous ensemble Michelle wore earlier in the day, a sheath dress and jacket designed by Isabel Toledo. Likewise, the girls looked cute as can be in their brightly colored coats from Crew Cuts, the children's line of JCrew and you can shop their looks through Ebates with 2% cash back. Michelle definitely ended the day's momentous occasion with a bang in an ivory silk chiffon one-shoulder gown by Jason Wu. The dress was no less than a work of art, adorned with covered fabric petals, dotted with beads and featuring a short train. Just as important as what the designs were that Michelle chose for the day, is who the designers are. She picked up-and-coming American designers who were both immigrants as children and whose dreams have now come true. Keeping in tradition, the beautiful gown will be donated to the Smithsonian.

ABSdress.jpgWe will likely see many designers produce their own interpretations of this beautiful dress. I think it was a bold choice, but it majorly paid off. Get your hands on a gorgeous white dress for your next evening event, try this beautiful (and affordable) ABS Empire Waist Chiffon Dress from Saks Fifth Avenue, for $435 with 1% cash back. Like the Jason Wu gown, this dress makes a statement without being too over the top and flashy; rather, it is feminine and youthful at the same time.

Shop on!






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January 21, 2009

LOST.jpg
When it comes to ABC's show Lost, people fall into two categories: those who don't watch the show and Lost Fanatics. This show requires a lot of patience from viewers, so there are not a ton of fair-weather lost fans out there; either you like it or you don't. As such, tomorrow night is either just another Wednesday night, or the much-anticipated season premiere. For those of us who feel like we have been waiting too long (officially, it has been eight months and eight days - I was secretly hoping they would have made the wait time connect to the ever-perplexing "lost numbers"...) for the new season, tomorrow's season premiere feels like a long time coming. I have been waiting in anticipation and started preparing for the big day over the weekend. I checked on the functionality of my DVR to prevent any technical mishaps that would cause it to not record the two hour episode fully or at all, because if you miss a second, you miss the entire episode.

More importantly, I caught up on past episodes to refresh myself on the eventful moments of seasons past. I previously purchased my LOST DVD collection through Ebates at Barnes & Noble, with 4% cash back. Seasons 1-4 are available (sold separately) for $43-$48, you save between 10-20% of the original price. They ship very quickly and for free, so soon enough you will be catching up yourself. You can also pick up a complete set at eBay with 3% back, the current bid for one such set is just over $100. If that is all too much of a commitment or a strain on your pocketbook, you can rent season 1-4 through Netflix and get $18 back for signing up.



DharmaJumpsuit.jpgJust as important as how you prepare for tomorrow night, is what you wear to enjoy the first episode of the rest of your life. An appropriate choice is this official Lost Dharma Jumpsuit from the ABC TV Store, for $89.95 with 4% cash back. When purchasing this item, you get a set of free Dharma tattoos with purchase (enter TATTOO at checkout). Show off your devoted fanaticism and buy this suit, that can be worn over clothes (as demonstrated by this dapper looking headless man in the photo pictured above). Likewise, It makes a great gift for any fan in your life and will pay for itself when you have to go to a spur of the moment costume party. Buy this suit, catch up on DVDs and increase the level of excitement every time you tune into an episode of your favorite show, and be prepared for anything that LOST brings your way.







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January 20, 2009

While magazines such as Vogue, Elle, and Lucky are showing off the must-have Spring trends, I can't help but think shopping for Spring is asinine when the weather is twenty five degrees with a chance of snow. Such was the weather during a recent trip home to the cold tundra that is Boston. While on a shopping excursion, I couldn't help but notice mannequins already donning Spring garb, as if unaware of the fresh blanket of snow that covered the city. I wandered into one of these stores and immediately ran into a woman clutching a pair of linen shorts I deemed inappropriate for anyone other than Paris Hilton. Not looking clinically insane or like a street walker, I naturally assumed she was buying resort wear. Once I overheard (eavesdropped on) her conversation, I understood the reasoning behind her out-of-season shop fest. The pile of clothing she was guarding as if she thought it might disappear was chock full of sale items. Some from as early as pre-Fall, which, having the same weather as Spring, was enough to get me digging too. When it comes to sales, I am not too proud to dig through last season's goods in search of a great deal.

Rendezvous-ClutchWhen the deal's as good as an extra 30% off all items at Tobi, there's nothing stopping me from stocking up for Spring '09. Hey, why pay full price when you can look as chic for half? It's this mentality that had me scouring Tobi in search of something new and fresh to take me out of my Winter woes. Whether it's something new, or something tried and true, there's plenty to get you digging the cyber way.

This Rendezvous Clutch From Rebecca Minkoff is done in the bright neon shades I'm loving for Spring. Since this clutch is from RM's Spring Collection, getting 30% off is enough to get even the most reserved shopper swinging her Visa. Now just $263, I'll save a whopping $112 off the original. Savvy shopping never looked so good.

When it comes to men, I often feel the male of the species gets the shorter hand, and too often does Men's fashion take a backseat. Much to the dismay of the bf, it's not uncommon for the current issue of GQ to go missing, or for the latest copy of Antenna to reach my hands before he can even check the mail. I've always considered fashion an art form, with men being no exception. For those who are up on their fashion game, Tobi is home to such fashion forward labels as J.Lindeberg, PS By Paul Smith, Comme Des Garcons, and Opening Ceremony.

This Volterra Motorcycle Jacket by S.W.O.R.D. is a fresh take on what is otherwise a classic jacket. The streamlined mandarin collar and slim fit help to offset rough elbow patches and an abundance of zippers. This jacket is the perfect hybrid of downtown tough and uptown chic, making it the easiest piece in your wardrobe to dress around. Once selling for $913, this jacket is on sale for just $456. From now until Thursday take an extra 30% off, and you'll end up saving $600 off the original. Add 5% cash back, and watch the savings add up.



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January 20, 2009

On this historic day, amidst the excitement, feelings of hope resounded throughout the nations capital and beyond. Even the most cynical American could not help but be inspired and feel patriotic. The first family looked nothing less than perfect for the momentous occasion. They exuded a simplistic, chic and classic look that is perfectly in line with the values at the core of our country.

Michelle&ThePresident.jpgThe first lady, looked beautiful and very appropriate in a gorgeous yellow ensemble designed by Cuban-born, New York based designer Isabel Toledo. The outfit makes a statement without being too flashy, it fits her figure perfectly, and it shows off her sense of style and affinity for color. Michelle's impeccable, consistent fashion choices pay off because it seems that she knows very well what works for her body and her personal taste is clearly defined. She is the epitome of simple elegance blended with the the all-important touch of personal taste.

If there is one thing we can take from Michelle's fashion choice today, is to not be afraid to play with color and texture, even in Winter. This Metallic cloqué Clea jacket, on sale at JCrew (a known Michelle Obama Shopping destination. She was wearing this chic cardigan from JCrew at the Kids Inauguration on January 19), has a similar, bold yet lady-like quality to the one she wore this morning.
JCrewJacket.jpg

The jacket is now only $99, marked down from $300, with 2% cash back. It is constructed in high-quality cloqué fabric, with custom-colored jacquard print. It is a beautiful way to add a punch of color and a dash of sparkle to any wardrobe staple. Add a contrasting, brightly colored patent leather pump, like this Ashlee Pump By Restricted for only $65 and 3% cash back from Piperlime as you channel America's newest fashion icon and first lady. Pump.jpg


Look forward to a post about Michelle's Dress at tonight's Festivities, Shop on!


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January 20, 2009

Well blog, it's confession time! After last night's marathon gaming session, I believe that I can officially say that I'm addicted once again. But not just to any video game, mind you; this time, I'm addicted to Rock Band.

I'm no stranger to rhythm-based video games. In fact, I've long been a fan of the genre, dabbling in a few different styles on a handful of different systems. For the Nintendo DS, there's nary much better than the stellar import-only Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan!! (or its English counterpart - Elite Beat Agents), and I've enjoyed BeatMania and Guitar Hero as much as everyone else. However, it's always been a bit of a solo affair - aside from the few Guitar Hero parties I've been to, it's hard to really get the "full experience" of rocking out with some friends.

Enter Rock Band 2.

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While Rock Band 2 isn't anything new (in fact, it's been around for a year and recently ripped off by Guitar Hero as well), it is still new to me. I recently received my Rock Band box for Christmas, and let me tell you, it is a wonderful thing. As a person who has been banging on objects since I was able to use my hands, Rock Band's drums have finally given me the chance to become a drummer without waking up everyone within a five-mile radius. Likewise, the microphone and guitar are also godsends; even though I personally prefer the superior strum bar of the Guitar Hero controller, Rock Band 2's improved guitar controller just about levels out the playing field, and the microphone turns anyone into a karaoke master. In short, the entire set is great for anyone who has been playing Guitar Hero or other rhythm-based games, but wants to take the action to the next level by adding extra instruments and taking it to the "band" level.

As I mentioned last week, Rock Band 2 makes a wonderful party game for anyone - even beginners who have never picked up a plastic instrument before. My girlfriend, who enjoys playing the occasional game of Mario or other puzzle-based games, has been caught up in the Rock Band whirlwind as well. We've started up our own band, blown away leagues of skeptics, and earned hundreds of thousands of fans just by wailing away - what's not to like about that? It's even a game that the entire family can play, as was evident by our raucous late-night rock out with our cousins and friends who came by. While video games have long received a bum rap thanks to their solitary nature, Rock Band 2 brings everyone together in the name of rock - and there's absolutely nothing more fun than that.

If you have a video game system and want to bring your family or friends together, there's really nothing better than Rock Band for some good ol' karaoke gaming fun. It's sleek and simple design is a relief from Guitar Hero's gaudy interface, and the toned-down difficulty (which naturally ramps up once you get the swing of things) is suitable for even the most tempo-challenged of your friends. While everyone credits the Wii with bringing everyone back to video games, I feel that Rock Band can be just as immersive if done right; especially in the right settings. So go, grab some friends, and have yourselves a Rock Band party - I can't think of anything more fun on a chilly Tuesday night!


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January 19, 2009

MLKWhen thinking of what to write for today's blog, I started off the same way I always do. I found some cute items, a few sales, and a tiny anecdote to tie everything together and hopefully entertain. I started to write about my years of working retail, and always having to work on MLK weekend. I was going to do a blog on how happy I was to have a full three day weekend, and what I would buy, etc, etc, etc. The more I thought of a funny story to interject, the more I realized I was missing the point entirely. Today is not about sales, an extra day off, or increased discounts. Today is about freedom, and the impact one man had on an entire nation in pursuit of freedom. Today is about Martin Luther King Jr. Today is about the civil rights movement, equality for all, and a better world. Today is not just about how far we've come, but how far we have to go.

With that being said, it is rather impossible to escape the plethora of sales going on, and being that the economy is in the dumps, if there is any shopping you have in mind, here's a list of sales and deals to save you money. Happy shopping and Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day!

- Receive an 18pc Gift Set with a Beauty or Fragrance Purchase of $85
Available at Nordstrom       3% Cash Back

- Get up to 75% Off During the Winter Clearance Sale
Available at Ice.com          4% Cash Back 

- Use Code AFF20 and take $20 off your first purchase of $100 or more
Available at Bluefly            4% Cash Back

- Save up to 70% during the Winter Clearance Sale
Available at Jos. A. Bank   5% Cash Back

- Extra 40% Off Outerwear For Him and Her
Available at SmartBargains  3% Cash Back

- 10pc Sample Kit With Every Purchase. Use Code SKINTREATS
Available at Sephora          4% Cash Back

- Additional 40% Off Already Reduced Sale Items
Available at WhiteHouse/BlackMarket  2% Cash Back

- 20% Off Purchase of $60 or More. Use Code WWINTER3
Available at Woman Within  3% Cash Back

- Save up to 70% On Fine Jewelry
Available at Sears             2% Cash Back

- 20% Off Entire Purchase With Code SHOP
Available at Lord & Taylor  4% Cash Back  



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January 18, 2009

Jim Mora put it best:



But for a change, I am talking about playoffs. I'm talking about hanging out with my friends on a Sunday afternoon, loosening my belt, stuffing myself with anything that can be dropped into a deep fryer, and slipping into semi-consciousness with visions of two point conversions dancing in my head.

While the four remaining teams in the hunt for the Lombardi Trophy are giving it their all, I will be planting my beer and fried food-inflated butt into a nice comfortable couch. If you are really a football fan, and you really want to do things right (and I mean right) then I have just the chair for you.

I present the Ore International Football Chair & Ottoman from Target. I've seen the football-shaped beanbag chairs, but who wants to spend the duration of a day's worth of football in an amorphous lump of cushioning? This chair and ottoman set provides the comfort you need to make it from mini-camps to the Super Bowl and everything in between. Plus, with your Ebates account, you'll be getting 4% cash back on the $350 you can spend on this chair.

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$350 may sound like a lot... but can you really put a price on the jaw-dropping awesomeness that is this chair?



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January 17, 2009

While everyone knows that Ebates has the best selection of cash back merchants on the web, you may be surprised to know that Ebates offers 3% cash back at the iTunes store! That's right, America's #1 source for digital music, entertainment, games, and more is not only switching over to a DRM (license) free and higher quality standard - it's looking to save you money, too! Considering that Apple has sold literally billions of songs (and rents/sells over 50,000 movies every day), there's a strong chance that this little tidbit of information could save you big bucks in the long run.

On the topic of our future, a little birdie has informed me that a certain President-Elect has a pretty big ceremony coming up next Tuesday - one large enough to shape the entire future of the United States. And, almost serendipitously, another certain Reverend's holiday is right around the corner; prompting each and every one of us to take a few seconds and appreciate the battles long-fought for equality (and the ones still going today). Whether you're a religious follower of President-come-Tuesday Barack Obama, or a person who still believes in the radical ideals of equality of Martin Luther King Jr, these iTunes store downloads will help you understand these important African American figures and their impact on society.

Martin Luther King Jr. - The Best of the Speeches

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I'm not quite sure how I feel about a "best of" for such a monumental figure, but if you're new to the wealth of works created by Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., there's no better place to start than this mini-compendium of his most famous speeches. From "I Have a Dream" to "We Shall Overcome", this collection hits almost every major milestone in the Reverend's monumental career. The only real glaring omission here is his final speech - "I Have Been to the Mountaintop" - which is a must-listen for anyone looking for further nonviolent, integrationist inspiration in their lives. Either way, there's no better way to celebrate Dr. King Jr.'s memory than by listening to his own words, so pick up his speeches or books before Monday!


Barack Obama - Dreams from My Father & The Audacity of Hope

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Offered in a digital bundle pack, this twofer of Barack Obama's moving tales is available on iTunes for $27.95. While that may be a bit more than if you were to grab them from Borders or Barnes and Noble, these books have the added bonus of being read by the President (elect) himself. While both are well-written, moving tales, Dreams from My Father takes a deeper look at the continuing effects of race on American culture, while The Audacity of Hope outlines Obama's key ideas for a non-partisan, change-laden approach to American politics. Both are must reads (or listens) for anyone looking to better know the man who will be stepping into office come Tuesday, so check them out as soon as possible!


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January 17, 2009

If there's one thing I am looking forward to during an otherwise bland month such as January, it's the upcoming inauguration of Barack Obama. Politics aside, now is a time to celebrate. What better way to celebrate than with a party? For such a significant party theme as an inauguration, there's going to be some prep involved. Luckily Ebates has countless merchants that provide everything you need to get the party started. Here's a rundown of what you'll need to throw the best inauguration party anyone's seen in eight years.

Decorations

Dick Chenye Pinata.jpgThere's something about trying to beat the living daylights out of a candy-stuffed object that's just fun. Kids love pinatas because of the candy inside. Adults however, seems to be a little too eager for cheap gum and low quality chocolate, leading me to think the reason behind trying to massacre a papier-mache form is because it offers a sort of stress release. Going with this theme, it only makes sense to pick a pinata that represents your scapegoat of stress. Unfortunately, finding pinatas in the shape of your boss's head is rather hard. Finding them in the shape of say... Dick Cheney is easy thanks to Pinatas.com. This site boasts enough pinatas to satisfy anyone's taste, including my ultra-Republican aunt. As much as I love her, talking politics with her is a sure way to cause a ruckus, in which case we simply agree to disagree. On top of pinatas, this site sells both costumes and party supplies, all with a pleasant 6% cash back. For easy planning I suggest the Election Time Party Kit. Only $39.99 this kit include plates, cutlery, streamers, confetti... you get the point.
Whatever party you're planning (or whichever party you belong to) this one stop shop has you covered.

Food and Drink

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When planning a party, feeding your guests should be the number one priority. A hungry guest is likely to drink more to compensate for the lack of food, ultimately creating a house full of drunk, obnoxious people you once thought pleasant. Avoid the post-party awkward moments by ensuring there's plenty of food to go around. Unless you're the type who enjoys cooking for an army, I suggest catering as a means of effectively feeding the ravenous masses. Having aluminum tins filled with steaming lasagna can equal death to your clean carpets, so skip the furious scrubbing at 11pm and order from Appetizerstogo.com. Whether it's bleu cheese & bacon burgers, or shrimp dumplings, this site has an overwhelming selection of bite size food perfect for keeping things (and guests) normal. Another incentive should be receiving 5% cash back, something not available to you at the local deli. The mouth-watering selection is so good, I'm now starving after having browsed the site. Not wanting to keel over and die of starvation, I'm now off to satisfy my hunger of a different kind, the shoe kind.


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January 16, 2009

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Greetings one and all to yet another riveting installment of Free Shipping Friday. I hope the week went smoothly for everyone, and that you're all looking forward to an exciting three-day weekend. I'll admit that I was a little surprised to see that there aren't more free shipping deals to be had between now and the end of the day on Monday, but that seems to just be how things are so far in the new year. Either way, with no further ado, I bring you this week's free shipping deals:

Friday, January 16th

- Shop now and get Free Shipping on all orders over $49 at SIRIUS Satellite Radio

- Today is the last day of the four-day free shipping event from Benefit Cosmetics just make sure you enter code FRESHP09 at checkout.

Saturday, January 17th

- Lancome is doubling up their shipping deals with free shipping on any order with Code NEWYEAR9 as well as a free deluxe sample collection with a $50 order.

Sunday, January 18th

- Enjoy Free Shipping on all orders at ShopJake

- You can get free basic shipping on all orders at White House Black Market. Just enter code 8789 at checkout.

Monday, January 19th

- Kiehl's has complimentary shipping with any purchase of $40 or more with Code NEWYEARAF09

- Pur Minerals is offering free shipping on all purchases (on top of 10% cash back might I add)

- Yves Rocher Botanical Beauty has free shipping on orders over $10 with Code FREESHIPTODAY. They also have 9% cash back.

There are some other deals beyond the weekend, but for me, these were the cream of the crop. I encourage you all to to check out what deals we have to offer by clicking on our good friend Max Cash or the Free Shipping Truck, and enjoy your three-day weekend. I know I will.


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January 16, 2009

As a new season of Fox's super-sized mega hit "reality" show American Idol is upon us, voyeurs, I mean viewers, say hello to a new batch of eager contestants thirsty for their fifteen minutes of fame. In the dawn of new faces, like Bikini Girl and Eccentric, we so easily discard the winners and the losers of seasons past; the embarrassing, the sad, and the institutional. I ask myself, what is the legacy of the William Hungs of the world, where do the Fanjayas turn after the Sanjayamania turns into a bad pop-culture hangover? The American Idol roadkill get book deals, or even better recording contract and the fans get a paperback or glossy-covered CD relic to remember them by.


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So if you still miss William Hung and his socially-awkward alien like behavior, you can pick up his DVD documentary/album, Hanging With Hung, for only $9.99 at Borders with 4% cash back. Because, really don't you miss his powerful rendition of the intoxicating "She Bangs"? Plus, it will make a great addition to your DVD collection, as visitors marvel "Wow, I cant believe you actually own that."


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If you are less in to William Hung, and a more of a late blooming "idolizer", you can pick up Sanjaya's Memoirs of the Idol experience, Dancing to the Music In My Head: Memoirs of The People's Idol and reminisce about his fascinating journey from "obscure" high school teenager to "obscure" reality star to just plain obscurity. You will also get to learn whats next for Sanjaya, as his story reminds readers that the world is his oyster and so it is your own. Get a copy for 20% off, and just $15.99, at Barnes and Noble with 4% cash back.


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Exceptional literature is not only reserved for the contestants, but also the judges. If you want to live the good life a la Randy Jackson, get a copy of his attempt at writing in the form of Body With Soul from Alibris for a modest $4.98 with 3% cash back. This potpourri of information mixes memoir, a wellness program and inspirational advice, courtesy of Randall Darius, better known as Randy Jackson. Get your copy and let him guide you to "the best you" this year.

If you ever find yourself as an American Idol reject: your fifteen minutes of fame expired and all your friends and relatives can't stand you anymore, there is hope for you yet. You will leave behind a rich legacy of  vague memories of your television moments, a couple of unwatched YouTube videos, and just maybe some amazing literature.




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January 15, 2009

As a woman who lugs around more beauty products than I care to admit, streamlining the "must not be without" products is always a big relief both to my arm and to my wallet. And judging by the overflowing makeup bags I have spotted women whipping out of their purses, I am not alone. There is truly nothing wrong with being prepared for any skin aliment or beauty crisis, or  having enough products on hand to transform your "low maintenance" makeup look into "night on the town" ready. I am sure our cavewoman ancestors were just as equally prepared, but, of course not with products from beauty emporiums on the internet. It is just proof that we have gracefully evolved to take advantage of all things offered to us.

ProblemSalvedjpg.jpgOne of these such things is a sale on Bliss's multi-tasking  wonder-balm Problem Salved. Buy two for just $31 from Bliss Spa with 4% cash back. Originally $18 each, you save 15% on each tube. This 20-in-1 stick can soothe skin problems from dry cuticles, to bug bites, can keep eyebrows in place and flyways at bay. Better yet, it can prevent blisters for those times when you wear your ill-fitting favorite shoes and encounter an unexpected walk.

So, buy this product through Ebates, de-clutter the makeup bag, and lighten your load. You'll save some money and earn some cash back, all without sacrificing your need to be prepared and look great. Now, who is the multi-tasker?


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January 15, 2009

It's January, and do you know what that means? It's officially time for the majority of aspiring Americans to make complete fools of themselves, as American Idol has just snuck back onto the air! After a six-month hiatus, the star-studded cast of judges has finally resumed their search for America's eighth "secret superstar," and everyone wants in on the action. Even if you missed the auditions in your nearby hometown, you shouldn't let that hold you back from having the hottest set of pipes on the block. It's never too early to practice for next year's auditions, or to host your own American Idol themed party, so grab some Karaoke and get going!

Traditional Karaoke:

karaoke2.jpgLet's face it - few things go together like alcohol and karaoke. Unfortunately, heading out to your favorite karaoke bar will run you up a miraculous tab in no time - after a raucous night with the buddies, you're likely to have spent a good chunk of change on an intangible experience that only leaves you with a headache and embarrassment the morning after. Why not bring that enchanting experience home at a fraction of the price? Karaoke machines have been widely available for quite some time, but only in the last couple of years have they really become something that every party host should have at their immediate disposal. Nothing brings out the inner pop sensation in everyone like American Idol, but why should you limit yourself to a tiny little karaoke machine from the 80's? Upgrade to a real party-starter like this Singing Machine Karaoke Tower from Target - only  $259 for the ultimate karaoke experience!


Karaoke Video Games:

rb.jpgWhile traditional karaoke can be a total blast for some, in my opinion it's not quite for everyone. Unless there are copious amounts of alcohol involved (or, you know, you can actually sing...), standing up and making a fool out of yourself behind awful MIDI's of popular songs isn't exactly my cup of tea. Now playing fake instruments and sitting in front of a television all day? That's something I can get behind!  If you want to take your fake-singing experience to the next level, there's nothing better than a solid game of Rock Band or Guitar Hero to get the ol' juices going. Both Rock Band (1 or 2) and Guitar Hero World Tour are available for around $180 at myriad retailers across Ebates, but if you're looking for a "pure karaoke" gaming experience, why not give Lips or SingStar a go? Any of these games will get the party started, and are the perfect way to wind down after a heated American Idol viewing session.


With a bevvy of entertaining choices at your disposal, it's ultimately up to you to plan your next American Idol get-together. Will you turn it into a Rock Band night, with a full band cranking out chart-topping hits while living vicariously through your digital doppelgangers? Or will you opt for something a little more traditional, like a Karaoke machine and your own homemade Beer keg from Mr. Beer? Either way, your party is sure to be a hit if you put a little planning into it, and invest in something awesome. Now get to it!


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January 14, 2009

American-IdolOnce again it's my favorite time of the year. A time when openly laughing at someone's else performance is not only social acceptable, but welcomed. A time when such serious questions as "Does Ryan Seacrest Date?" come up frequently in conversations, a time when a mouthy brit has something more to say than "Sharon!".

Of course I'm talking about American Idol.

After a six month break, American Idol is back at it with season eight. A new season means new contestants, new fights between an intoxicated Paula and an angry Simon, and of course new chances for Randy to call someone his "dawg". Along with the banter and shameful auditions comes a new judge by the name of Kara DioGuardi. Not familiar with the name or face, I did some research on the latest Idol judge and have come to two conclusions. The first is that she is responsible for nearly every major pop song you've ever heard. The second is that her face seems to be the handiwork of an over-zealous plastic surgeon. While one's personal relationship with a scalpel is really none of my business, it does make for an interesting character. Any concerns I had about her not being as entertaining as the other judges were quickly squashed, when she attempted to out-sing the bikini girl from last night's Phoenix auditions. I have no doubt she will entertain us as much as Paula's attempts to remain sober.

For those who missed last night, the series premiere kicked off with auditions in PhoenixIdol Karaoke.jpg where a young woman by the name of Arianna stole the show. As if her voice wasn't good enough, creating her own charity for the elderly puts her on my "Definitely going to Heaven" list. Less fun was the boring Tuan who wasn't bad enough to laugh at, but was bad enough not go to Hollywood. Hopefully tonight's auditions being held in Kansas City will offer some crazier moments. It's audition time, and I have my popcorn handy, and my DVR remote ready.

For the superfans out there who can't get enough, or for those of you who misplaced your copy of From Justin To Kelly, you too can now sing along with American Idol Karaoke Revolution. I found this gem at Barnes & Noble for just $49.99. Available for XBOX 360, Playstation, and Wii, this mega fan must-have is the only way to audition for the judges. Assuming that waiting in line amongst thousands of people isn't your thing, in which case neither is driving to the nearest store in standing in line. Luckily with Ebates you'll receive 4% cash back all from the comforts of your own home. You can sing along with favorite contestants or alone, I prefer to have some support, as I've been known to shatter glass with my vocals. But hey, at least I'm aware of it. So here's to another season of American Idol, and another season of knowing not to quit my day job!

For those of you who share in my love of auditions gone bad, here is my all time favorite audition..EVER. Enjoy!





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January 13, 2009

If you're on the internet, there's a darn good chance you've got a router hooked up somewhere. Believe it or not, those little mysterious internet dispensers actually have a lot of things going on inside them - from minuscule amounts of RAM, to a little CPU, routers are basically toned-down versions of your big, bad PC. To further prove this point, a handful of people have even hacked their routers in order to run custom firmare and do all kinds of electronic trickery - the least of which expands your $60 netbox into a super fast, $600 routing machine.

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But I digress.

Today is Tech Tuesday, and I can't help but share my amazement in the efficiency and power that is packed into the mundane little boxes that every household has nowadays. However, not all routers are created equal. There are multiple different signal strengths, bands (A, B, G & N; not to be confused with OBGYN), and models, so how are you ever going to figure out which little magic box will do the trick for you? Thankfully, sales come along, which always prompts a pinch of internet research, and it looks like this D Link DIR-625 router (currently $60 off at Buy.com) would pump up almost anyone's internet setup. With its innovative RangeBooster technology, the mysterious power of the "N" wireless band (which reaches farther and stronger than A, B, or G, and works with older networking cards as well), you'll be internetting faster and farther than ever before. Seriously.

Many of us got our routers in a bundle pack with our DSL or Cable modems, which are usually bottom-barrel products shoveled out to the big companies hoping you'll be none the wiser. Take this opportunity to upgrade your setup and pump up your internet - for only $60 shipped, can you really afford to keep using your shoddy connection? Maybe it's just me, but far too many routers out there constantly drop connections, need to be restarted, and don't reach as far as they should. This D-Link DIR-625 looks to change all that, and is a super steal for $59.99 this Tech Tuesday!


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January 13, 2009

Similar to your favorite summertime song coming on shuffle mode to your iPod while commuting to work, an unsuspected item of clothing can transport you, even momentarily out of your daily life. While Barry Manilow's "Copacabana" does bring some fond summertime moments into mind, the second play back gets much more annoying than anything, and happy memories are quickly replaced by the single-minded desire to skip the song and delete it from your library forever. A more long-lasting fix for those times when you desperately feel like you need to get away but can't, is cheerful, spring-like garment that can be worn despite the Wintertime temperatures.

Floweprintscarf.jpgTake, for example, this Flower Print Scarf available at Gap, for just $29.50 with 3% cash back. Worn even with a robust Winter coat, this scarf exudes a warm-weather airiness, without making you look like you forgot it was cold outside. Plus, it is a great piece to transition you from Winter to Spring, being perfectly on point for next season's eclectic "boho" trend, while being simple enough to be casually elegant.



TurquoiseNecklace.jpgI couldn't help but include (even though it makes my obsession with Banana Republic Jewelry very obvious) this Turquoise-Hued Nugget Necklace, for $69 with 3% cash back. It reminds me of the gorgeous necklace Eva Mendes wore at the Golden Globes (for more about Golden Globes Fashion Check out Allie's post). This is the kind of rare item that flawlessly makes an outfit more exciting without being too contrived. For just under $70, you can spice up the sweater and trouser duo that dominates the outfit rotation this time of year and escape the routine.

Shop on!


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January 13, 2009

Bath-Tub-CandlesIt's common knowledge that stress can lead to a number of health problems, and ultimately shorten one's life span. In the past, I managed my stress effectively by simply ignoring it, however doing so hasn't exactly worked toward my benefit. As any adult living on their own, I was soon to realize avoiding certain stresses, such as bills or food shopping, can lead to increased stress levels once I arrived home to darkness and a bare cupboard. Over the years I have found much more enjoyable ways to lower my stress levels while remaining in the light and with a full tummy.

One of my favorite de-stressers is a long and soothing bath. Not the kind with mountainous piles of bubbles which always de-foam leaving overly soapy water, but the detoxing, mind clearing kind. If you haven't already heard your grandmother raving about the wonders of an epsom salt bath, I suggest you start listening. Traditionally used for muscle aches or bruises, a few cups of epsom salt will do wonders for your energy and mental health. The thick and coarse salt draws excess fluids and toxins out of your body making you feel lighter (not thinner) and more energized. One a mission to use only natural products on my body I was delighted to find these Dead Sea Mineral Bath Salts on sale for $24 at MotherNature.com. Made from organic salts, this bath time ritual is great for achy joints, sore muscles, and even arthritis, as it reduces inflammation. I find it handy to also pour in some baking soda to neutralize any toxins being released. No need to soak in toxin-filled water that will re-absorb into the skin as you soak. If there's no wine handy I like to sip on Green Tea, or water with a lemon wedge.

After quality time spent thinking of nothing, I usually enjoy vegging out to the tube, but havingUrban Outfitter's Quilt.jpg just started a page turning book, I find myself curled up the couch for another reason. Not wanting to hand over my entire paycheck for heating costs, I find a good throw blanket keeps me warm and toasty and also reduces the amount of energy I consume. It's not much, but I like to do my part. A quality throw blanket that is warm and chic is much harder to find than one would think. As much as I love cartoon characters and Hannah Montana, I feel both are a bit too childish, and would not represent me very well to any potential suitors.

Known for their trendy home decor as well as trendy clothing, Urban Outfitter's sells a plethora of throws and quilts, along with everything else a "happening" girl such as myself could need. This Fleur Patchwork Quilt is available in a twin, making it the perfect sized blanket for keeping toasty, or hiding from the mailman when he comes to deliver more bills. Luckily for me this quilt is 60% off, making it just $39.99. I love the vintage "my-grandmother-made-it" feel to this quilt, and it's a must-have for not just drafty houses, but drafty dorm rooms as well. Shop at Urban Outfitter's and receive 2% cash back.

While there are many ways to manage stress, most cost an arm and a leg, and never truly do the trick. Why not keep those limbs warm with a hot bath and a warm quilt? In fact, you can shop for these items while under the sorry excuse for a blanket currently being used. All thanks to Ebates!



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January 12, 2009

With the long weekend approaching, and vacation plans nowhere in sight, many of us need, at the very least, to feel like we are getting away without the luxury of actually leaving. If you are lucky enough to go on a vacation for a few days - I say go, enjoy, and book through Ebates, where you can find fantastic travel deals with cash back and coupons. If you are like me, and your vacation is limited to fantasies in your head, it is important to toss something new into the routine to keep the long weekend from being a reminder of your less-than-fantastic travel plans.

Although fake tans get a very bad wrap, a subtle bronze can make someone feel and look like they have spent the long weekend being lulled to sleep by the tropical waves of the ocean, whilst on a blanket warmed by the sizzling sand and being kissed by the gentle rays of the sun. So, if you can't actually get away this weekend, why not take some time to give yourself a refreshing faux-glow?

The important thing to remember is to keep it subtle and natural looking, I like to think of self-tanning less as achieving tan-looking skin and more as taking the "edge off" of a Wintery white face. This time of year, unless aided by a professional, it is best to only apply self-tanner to the face, making subtlety even more crucial. Find a formula that is designed for fair skin, even if you are not fair skinned. It is the surest way to a natural bronze and a great starting point to build upon if you so please.

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My personal favorite is Self-Tanning Liquid Bronze, available with 12% cash back from Clarins. While shopping, keep in mind that you get free shipping and a complimentary gift with orders of $75+, when you use coupon code CLRNEW at checkout. This product is designed to be natural and subtle while being good for your skin. It smells amazing (so you don't reek of that tell-tale self-tanning stench) and also has vitamin E and aloe to soften and nourish the delicate skin on the face and decollete. Also, you can apply with a cotton ball and instantly apply makeup so there is no waiting with your fingers crossed. The result of two to three days of use is slightly bronzed and refreshed skin.


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For a similar product that does not break the budget, order Jergens's Natural Glow Face with SPF 20, available from drugstore.com for $7.49 with 6% cash back. This product was created to give a person control over the level of tan they want to achieve with the "au naturale" look in mind. Use daily for a gradual presence of color and keep applying until you reach the level of bronze you desire.


With Spring's beauty trends all about the bronze glow, hop on the bandwagon early, escape Winter's peaked skin, and come out on the other side of the long weekend looking like you got some sun, even if you never leave your house.


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January 12, 2009

Maggie-GyllenhaalI've always thought award shows such as The Golden Globes to be very educational. Not only are they a chance to view the latest designer frocks soon to be knocked off and selling in my price range, but they're also a chance to catch up on the world of movies. My relationship with the movies is much like my relationship with the gym. After a firm commitment to going "I will see that movie and do some squats", amnesia sets in regarding said plan, thus creating a renewed commitment. The more I evaluate my life, the more I see myself as prime Dr.Phil material.

So there I am, watching The Golden Globes, flipping through catalogs and other various junk mail, when I started to see a trend in the attire of Hollywood's leading ladies. As I sat on my couch cocooned in blankets and unsightly flannel pj's, I couldn't help but feel as if I were watching a re-run from another time. A time of Crockett and Tubbs, Flock of Seagulls, and a normal-er Michael Jackson. Between the drug references in speeches, and the tiered poofs of the dresses, I felt as if last night were one giant homage to the eighties.

Never before has such eighties trends as lame, animal print, and taffeta so dominated the red carpet since well, the eighties. Maggie Gyllenhaal looked as if she stepped out of Dynasty in a leopard print one-shoulder Lanvin gown. J.Lo was ready to dance at Studio 54 in her gold beaded Marchesa frock, and Cameron Diaz looked prom-ready in her pink taffeta Chanel Haute Couture dress. No doubt these trends which have been prominent in fashion since Fall '08, will continue to make an impact throughout the year. If you're not in the market for a $25,000 dress fret not, there are other ways to channel some of the trends from last night.

If you like the glitz and boldness of J.Lo's dress, this Wave Print Cardigan from J.Crew shares the same flashy vibe yet is extremely versatile. If you're not too sure about how to wear this without looking as if you're eighty and living in Miami, try pairing it with jeans for a cute take on casual dressing. On sale for $59.99, this piece is a great way to add instant oomph to any outfit. Paired with sweet heels, this cardigan is pre-Spring perfect, and receiving 2% cash back makes this top even sweeter.

Animal-PrintFor those who like to take a walk on the wild side, Mrs.Gotham herself Maggie Gyllenhaal's dress was sure to delight. If leopard print is what you crave, this Tracy Reese blouse is the fix. Made from luxurious silk, this top is sure to be your go-to piece when nothing short of drop dead gorgeous is in order. Featuring a one shoulder strap adorned with a rose applique, this blouse is one part sugar one part spice. Available at Nordstrom, you'll receive 3% cash back. In homage to the decade of excess, I would wear this top with big bold earrings, an oversized cuff, and black jeans. A pair of gold heels takes this look over the top, and has me rivaling Michelle Pfeiffer in Scarface. When people ask me how I manage to receive cash back for shopping the hottest items, I'll simply tell them "Say hello to my little friend - Ebates."




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January 12, 2009

gnome.jpgSometimes, when times are tough, the little things are all you really have to hold on to. With a tumultuous stock market, creeping unemployment rate, and the usual hum-drumming of life, it's important to have something to turn to for guidance and support. For some, family members and friends help fill that need for a confidant in times of strife. For others, it's all about the Solar-Powered Mystic Gnomes.

Solar-powered mystic gnomes? Yes, solar powered mystic gnomes. When the streets are hardly safe from both police and villains alike, there's something to be said about a gnomish creature that is both "darling during the day,[and] enchanting [during the] night." In these times, you need the kind of support that only an enchanting, darling gnome can give you - without any of those looming fears of rejection, injury, and possibly theft.

Amelie_MomentumR2_02.jpgNow this solar-powered gnome is not unlike every other gnome out there on the market, save for one specific caveat: it's a *mystic* little beast. Deep inside it's furrowed brow is a mind steadily at work solving all the world's problems from biggies like global hunger, down to the little things like an ill-lit corner of your garden. With this mysterious little halfling afoot, you'll never have to worry about creatures scurrying about your foliage in the night. Its all-seeing solar orb will both figurative and literally light your path and allow you to see the way; far more than can be said of other porcelain creatures that purport to have mystical properties.

At the end of the day, this little $40 solar-powered mystic gnome may not seem quite as spellbinding as other creatures that lurk about the Housewarming section of Target. But to this I ask, truly, what house is complete without a gnome of some sort? Take it for adventures, prop it atop a stone altar, or just toss it haphazardly into your garden - the choice is up to you. The mystic gnome will always be there for you, through good times and bad alike. And in the end, that's really what matters, isn't it?


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January 11, 2009

Let me tell you a story.

A not-too-long time ago in a kingdom resembling a major California city famous for being located on a Bay, a dashing young prince bought a cheap-as-can be DVD player. See, back at the castle, the prince's enchanted TV was not really all that enchanted, so it didn't make sense for the prince to spend his already meager finances on a high-end DVD player, so he got the most basic "all I can do is play movies" kind of DVD player he could find. This DVD player also came with a cursed remote. Apparently the dark wizard who assembled this remote was evil and sadistic, so he possessed it with an evil demon. In the first six months in which the dashing prince owned this DVD player, the cursed remote began acting funny.

Unfortunately, since this was a bottom-of-line DVD player, it did not come with Ye Olde Factory Warranty.

Alarmed at the prospect of facing a future where all he could do was turn the machine on or off, eject discs, and hit either play or stop, the dashing prince decided to take matters into his own hands. He suited up in his armor, opened up the cursed remote, and prepared to do battle. Apparently the evil demon which possessed the remote had caused the battery to leak, which lead to a breakage in the battery tab on the circuit board of the remote. Upon even further inspection, the evil demon had also detached an enchanted capacitor from it's spot on the motherboard. 

Undeterred, the dashing prince took up his trusty soldering gun and tried to repair the evils done upon the poor land of RemoteControlia. Some time later, the prince emerged victorious. The bewitched remote control had been restored, the dark wizard had been thwarted, and the demon from inside the remote had been exorcised. He went to celebrate with a tall glass of mead, a leg of mutton, and the boxed set of The Simpsons - Season Nine.

Long story short: soldering irons are fantastic if you have a general concept of circuitry and electronics, but should only be used by those who know how. Remember that opening up consumer electronics will void warranties, and you also have that nagging ever-present threat of electrocution which has a nasty side effect known as death.


soldering gun.jpgStill, if you know what you're doing and have the space to work, a soldering iron will pay dividends. For just $30, you can be repairing all your electronics with minor issues, mending broken wires, and wreaking general havoc. While there are very high end soldering sets out there, I have always been most comfortable with the traditional soldering gun, and recommend it as a safe and controlled starting point. Not only will you save money on electronics you can repair instead of replace (the green choice as well, might I add) you will also get 2% cash back when you use your Ebates account (the choice to save some green).





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January 10, 2009

Hydrangea's.jpgIt's common knowledge that color affects the human psyche, yet not many people understand how deeply color moves us as individuals. Bold, bright, neon colors can make one excited, or even insane. Colors which have been grayed down can be calming, and are commonly used in hospitals, which is why there always seems to be blue walls. Green triggers the brain to think of health (green vegetables) and many food companies use this psychology to sell their goods as healthy for you, yet I recommend reading the label as the safest bet. A burgundy red is warming, yet a cherry red can be cooling due to the presence of white. Once the language and psychology of color is understood, it makes designing your home (or wardrobe) much easier.

If, like me, you tend to get into a funk during winter (or fail to remember you're human and not a bear who hibernates) it may be due to the absence of color. For most of the country, the Winter months mean a complete lack of such a significant stimulus, unless of course you count the grey/black and utterly disgusting color of week old snow. Assuming that's not something you take into consideration when decorating, let's move on. In regards to the home, there are many easy and inexpensive ways to trick yourself into thinking it's not really eight degrees and snowing. Developing another personality named Rita who lives in Miami is one way, yet there is a risk of being hospitalized, in which case you'd be stuck staring at the awful blue walls.

A much more cost-effective way to put the Spring back in your step is by adding flowers to the home, Silk Flowers.com to be exact. Silk flowers not only add a splash of lively color, but they are extremely cost-effective as well. There's no messy clean-up or constant purchasing needed, and being that these are made from silk, they look just like the real thing. The selection on this site ranges from roses to snapdragons, as well as wreaths, centerpieces, and even silk trees. You'll receive a whopping 10% cash back when shopping this site, which is just as beautiful as the flowers are.


Wine Bottle.jpg Home and Garden Tip: Instead of common glass or ceramic vases, try an old wine bottle. The look is very rustic country, and therefore summery. I love finding old wine bottles, or jugs for that matter at scrap yards or thrift stores. If you don't happen to live near any of these places, ebay is an amazing source for vintage goods. The upside to shopping for your every need at home? Besides staying out of the cold you'll also receive 3% cash back.


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January 9, 2009

It is no surprise that people are cutting down on the extraneous luxuries in order to save some money in the new year. Say goodbye to the latte, the weekly manicure and binges at the iTunes music store. While I am all about saving some extra cash this year, there are a few things that I am unwilling to give up and a few things that I can easily cut back on. One of the things that I think most people could give up is the weekly or bi-monthly trip to the dry cleaners. While there are certain garments that I would not recommend laundering at home, there are items that we all put into the dry cleaning pile that could be easily and cost-effectively cleaned at home. All you need are a few handy products which will save you a lot of money each month and give you a significant chunk of change in the bank at the end of the year.

Thelaundress.jpgThe key to at-home cleaning of delicates, sweaters, and dress shirts is a gentle cleanser that will thoroughly clean your clothing  without stress to the fabric that could cause stretching, fading, and even damage. I recommend the Laundress detergents available at Drugstore.com with 6% cash back. The line includes eco-friendly detergents formulated for delicate washing, darks detergent (which is great for denim and will keep your dark wash jeans dark forever), whites, stain removers, and baby detergents. For items that do not require special care, the Classic Detergent is perfect. A 33.3 fl oz bottle sells for $19.50, lasts forever and leaves your clothing with an addictively clean and fresh smelling scent. Or pick up a complete Laundress Starter Kit, with mini-sized bottles of the most essential products for $41 with 5% cash back at Tobi.

Stackable.jpgOnce you have washed your clothes, you will need a place for them to dry flat so that they do not dry awkwardly and leave you with misshapen clothing. This Stackable Sweater Dryer is perfect and under $12 at Get Organized, with 7% cash back. This contraption is perfect to air dry virtually any garment and help items dry quickly, evenly and keep their shape. For items that need to be hanging to dry, pick up some of these soft edged hangers for $9.

After your clothes are dry, it's good to erase any wrinkles with a hand steamer. Much more delicate on fabrics and a thousand times easier than ironing, a hand steamer can have a garment ready to wear in minutes, regardless if it came from the floor, a suitcase or a drying rack. You can purchase a compact hand held streamer for under $20 also from Get Organized while you are stocking up on other laundry essentials and racking up 7% cash back on your purchases. Also, save more money while enjoying a flat-rate shipping cost of just $4.98 for all your purchases.

So, this weekend, enjoy your last trip to the dry cleaners and wait for your new at-home laundry supplies to arrive. You will save money, earn cash back, and perhaps be able to enjoy letting a little luxury back in your life. Now that sounds like a stress-free weekend, ahhhhh '09. 


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January 9, 2009

free_friday.gif

Here we are again, Free Shipping Friday is back and in full effect. Again, it is early in the year and most stores are re-grouping after the holidays, so there are not all that many stores with free shipping offers that are really special. Still, there are a few...

 Saturday January 10th
- Kmart is offering free shipping on all jewelry orders.

Sunday January 11th
- Lancome invites you to ring in the New Year with Free Shipping and a Deluxe Sample Collection from Lancome! It's all yours with a $50 purchase. Simply enter code NEWYEAR9.

Monday January 12th
- eLUXURY has free ground shipping on all orders $50 or more, and with all the high-end luxe items there, $50 isn't hard to reach.

Thursday January 15th
- eBatts.com has free shipping on all orders with no restrictions. That gets me charged up! (wow, even I think that was a lame pun)

Saturday January 17th
- Just in time for the Digital TV Conversion, Best Buy has free shipping on all online orders for select digital converter boxes.

Remember, as always, click on Max Cash or the Free Shipping Truck for a link to a complete listing of all Free Shipping Deals!


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January 8, 2009

val0.jpgAs a general rule, I try not to use this blog as a soapbox to reach out for video game convertees. Sure, I'll toss the idea out every once in a while, keep you informed about a great title that could make your weekend, or just point our a few hot titles for the season, but I've yet to truly emphasize a game as much as Valkyria Chronicles. Not only is the one of the best games of 2008 (universally heralded by the pitifully few who played it), but it's a completely refreshing, unique take on a genre that I think too many have skipped over for all the wrong reasons.

For those who've yet to hear about this curious little title, Valkyria Chronicles is an anime-inspired Strategy Role-Playing Game (RPG) for the PlayStation 3. It tells the tale of Welkin Gunther, a 22-year-old university student-turned-tank commander who must lead his militia against the invading evil East European Imperial Alliance. It's 1935, and just as any historian would likely let you know, the Eastern European Imperial Alliance has been encroaching upon the peaceful Atlantic Alliance for years now. What began as a small group of soldiers making their way throughout the Eastern Bloc in the later 1920's steadily grew into a great hulking behemoth of an army that takes every city and country along their path, obviously hearkening back to the way Hitler came to power around the same time in our own worldview.

val1.jpg Valkyria Chronicles is a "Strategy RPG", meaning that you control multiple characters one by one against opposing forces. Usually this is done on a grid of some sort (restricting your movement to a set amount of squares), but instead things are handled a bit differently. Each character has a motion gauge that corresponds to their class, meaning that the weaker Scouts can move the farthest to examine their surroundings, while the trigger-happy Shocktroopers have a much more limited range to use to eliminate foes. Battle takes place whenever your unit is in range of the enemy: you simply press R1 to go into combat mode, "Square" to cycle through your weapons, aim, and fire. You control each character separately, yet each of their action follows one another seamlessly; miraculously invoking the feeling of what it would really be like to control an entire army advancing troop-by-troop through enemy lines.

val2.jpg Equally refreshing is the game's story, as it's surprisingly not something that's pulled out of the aether and tacked onto some haphazard anime characters - it actually feels like a living story you create and interact with on a constant basis. Instead of "feeling" like a normal video game with incessant battles and generic story lines, Valkyria Chronicles tells its tale through a virtual "storybook" that you progress through chapter-by-chapter, with events, dialog, and battles that flesh out the story that take place in bite-sized increments along the way. The artistic design is breathtaking from top to bottom, with luscious watercolor landscapes belying the gritty reality of wartime atrocities. After all, war is real. Battles are real. And when you launch headfirst into battles with the team you personally assembled from scratch, you feel it too.

Unfortunately, too many factors have played into Valkyria Chronicles selling less than 100,000 copies in the US since its release - a fate worse than death for any multi-million dollar video game company. Even though it's doing a pinch better overseas, the sad fact is that too many people are skipping over this original, beautiful title in favor of other holiday plunder, or putting it onto their "to buy" list in case there's ever a sale. To this I must cry: Don't! It's a shame when such an original game comes out and doesn't receive the recognition it truly deserves, as the video game industry needs much more games that take risks and innovate like this one. Give the free demo a try on the PlayStation Network, or pick it up from any one of our wonderful retailers (might I suggest Newegg.com for $56.99 with 2% cash back?). It's a stellar game that's worth even the tiniest bit of time, even if you don't think you'll care for it much. I know that I hardly care for Strategy RPGs myself, yet this game has me gushing more than a steamrolled pack of Gushers. Try it; you'll like it!


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January 8, 2009

YSL Atry Oval Ring.jpgBeing surrounded by apparel everyday does have it's downsides. At some point, even the most fashion-obsessed person such as myself, can grow tired of looking at the endless selection of silk tops, cashmere cardigans, and leather booties. There are days like today where just the thought of clothing gives me a headache. I do not need to re-invent my look, I'm not having a wardrobe crisis, and my shoe collection is mostly unworn and, for that matter, fine.

Today I simply can't be bothered with clothing, which is why I was so excited to browse the designer sale at Saks Fifth Avenue, in particular the jewelry section. Saving on designer jewelry is something I would love to be bothered with, if it could even be called bothersome.

Being a jewelry designer can lead to a somewhat snobby attitude in regards to what seems worthy of my money, and what does not. To be honest, most jewelry I see prompts me to say "I can make that," and in most cases, I do. While I don't hesitate to spend $300 on a dress, spending $300 on a piece of jewelry seems extravagant and rarely happens. Thanks to Saks Fifth Avenue, I can continue to not spend hundreds on jewelry, including designer jewelry such as this Yves Saint Laurent Arty Oval Ring. I love how this ring is posh without being glitzy. Made from silver and featuring a glass stone, this ring looks as if it were plucked from the earth and brought directly to Saks. I love the raw almost medieval look to this, and it truly stands out as a unique piece, which is something I value immensely. Another thing I value is the stability of my checkbook, and being that this ring is on sale for just $116, I'm sold. Yes, you heard right: a YSL ring for just $116, not to mention cash back from Ebates. Now there's something I will not grow tired of. 


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January 8, 2009

I am hearing a recurring term in the fashion world lately: "Boyfriend clothes". The boyfriend jean, blazer, shirt, cardigan... fashion loves to be androgynous and I am happy to take part. Although, while I love the idea itself of  women wearing clothes that are designed to look like they have been 'borrowed' from a mate and they happen to look amazing,  there is something that gets on my nerves about the term. First of all, they are not your boyfriend's clothes; any woman who actually has left the house wearing a man's clothes probably does not want to recall that incident. Plus, it is insensitive to the recently single and the not-so-recently single crowd because it seems like perverse make believe.

Further, we have all worn our boyfriends' shirts from time to time and its cute and fun but hardly the pinnacle of fashion. With that being said, I do enjoy the contemporary shapes and cuts of boyfriend style clothing. I think when done correctly, it can be very sexy, fresh, and extremely fashionable.

WGACAJeans.jpgCase in point: these Vintage Boyfriend 501 Feather Jean by designer What Goes Around Comes Around, available at Shopbop for $198 with 6% cash back. I have always had a fondness for the designer's clothing, because the concept of all the designs is fashioned after actual vintage clothing (or the items are actual vintage pieces like these jeans) from the designer's extensive and renowned collection of vintage clothing and textiles in New York City. I like that the jeans are actual vintage 501's and think that they embody what boyfriend jeans should be - old, worn-in Levis that have been distressed though years of wear. I think these jeans really challenge my very feminine style and I always like to play with extremes in what I wear. Adding some "boyfriend" style clothes to your wardrobe can be a great update without having people wonder what you got into the night before.

Shop on!


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January 8, 2009

Greetings folks, as the title blatantly gives away, there is a small change that can make a big difference to a number of our users: Staples, the office supplies super store, has just increased their cash back to 4%, which is double what it has been for the entire time I've been here at Ebates. So now is the perfect chance to stock up on a year's supply of office supplies and any other electronics needs you might have. I can say personally that I'm excited because I am in the market for a new desk chair, and now I not only get to take advantage of Staples' wide variety of chairs, but I also get twice as much cash back as I would have before.

So check it all out for yourself now. It's the perfect time to take advantage of post-holiday sales combined with increased cash back. That was easy!


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January 7, 2009

The Ebates blog prides itself on being able to offer both great products and great deals all week long, but occasionally we have to step outside of the box a little. As the resident Techmaster, it's my executive duty to stay abreast of all the goings-on in the electronics world. With the MacWorld Expo & Conference a few blocks down the road from our San Francisco offices, I couldn't help but pop in and see what kinds of Apple-related wonder the Moscone Center had in store. Even though some of these products can't be had on Ebates just yet, be sure to keep an eye on the Apple Store and iTunes for these neat new products from Apple!

First up: The 17" MacBook Pro!

macbook17.jpgAs the sole hardware upgrade to be unveiled at the MacWorld show, I couldn't help but feel like this was initially a bit of a dissapointment. With all the rumors of iPhone Nanos and shuffles, as well as a whisper or two about upgraded Mac Minis, we had hoped for something a little more innovative from the company that has prided itself on innovation since practically day one. With that said, it's important not to underscore just how great this 17" MacBook Pro is, especially when you consider that it's even more impressive than the nouveau MacBooks that we oooh'd and aaah'd over late last year.

The new heavyweight champion brings even more power, substance, and style to the MacBook family, while still retaining its established pricepoint of $2799. In addition to upgraded innards, aluminum unibody casing, and a larger screen (which includes a matte option for an extra $50), the 17" MacBook truly sets itself apart with its phenomenal battery life that sports up to eight hours on a single charge. If you're in need of a new, top-of-the-line computer, the MacBook Pro is certainly the best you can get from Apple.

Secondly: The Software.

ilife.jpgWhile the new product load at MacWorld may have been a little lighter than we expected, Apple's creative spark came through with major revisions to both their flagship creative suites, iWork and iLife. The feature-by-feature breakdown of all updates can be found here, but a few of the enhancements in particular caught my eye in the keynote. Firstly, the facial recognition in iPhoto. With hundreds of thousands of personal pictures to thumb through, who really has time to search through each one when looking for a specific event? Now you can have iPhoto scan your library for the same person based on what they look like - and then geotag the pictures to a specific location. It's a small, but wonderful, enhancement that will likely be emulated by other companies in the not-so-distant future.

Equally awesome are the little touches added to GarageBand, iMovie and Keynote, which all feature more interactivity than ever before. Now you can take music lessons with multiple popular artists, use your iPhone/iPod touch as a keynote remote, and easily create the perfect home movie with iMovie's Precision Editor and animations. Even though it's not as cool as a new iPhone, the upgrades are great improvements to Apple's prorgams, and should be a no-brainer when it comes to updating. Best of all, you can even order both at the Apple Store today!


Well, that about wraps it up! As you can see, there's a lot of exciting new products coming our way from Apple, as well as myriad gadgets, add-ons, games, and gizmos that are sure to come in the future. Don't forget to check out the Apple Store for pre-orders now, and check back later on this week for any other tasty tidbits of information we come across!


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January 7, 2009

Man, with Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve back-to-back Wednesdays, it feels like it's been forever since I last wrote a "Did you know?" feature, and it feels great to be behind the keyboard again for this perennially fun segment. Considering the time of the year, I consider it apropos that today's featured site is all about personal improvement. Verseo.com has a vast array of personal training and wellness accessories, from exercise equipment to power cleanses, stress erasers to hair growth, even hair removal. Basically, if there is something about your body that you'd like to do a little touching up to, this site has some sort of product that will allow you to do just that.

To be completely honest, I'm fascinated by a number of their products. I would love to try some of their detox patches or even home electrolysis options. There is one item, however, that fascinates me more than most, and that is the Body Burner. I actually think it's a great workout tool. It comes with instructional DVDs that cater to varied skill levels, and it is designed for low-impact workouts, which is great for folks with chronic knee problems (kind of like myself). Plus, it really just looks like it would be fun to work out on. body burner.jpgHowever there is just one issue I take with this product. It's not the price, it's not the space it takes up; it's the "numerical dance platform." I understand the idea behind it, and I think it's great: this way anyone using the Body Burner can know where they should be facing and turning at all times. But look closely. That is not a platform, it's a trampoline. Let's call a spade a spade: this exercise machine is a trampoline. The numerical design is innovative, and I love the idea of a trampoline for low-impact exercise. But don't call it a "dance platform" folks. We're getting a trampoline exercise program, which I'm sure works well. I'd gladly spend the $59.95 for this package, complete with "dance platform", stability bar, DVDs, and even a nutrition guide, especially knowing I'll get 9% cash back on any Verseo purchase. My only hesitation is that nowhere in this whole product description does the word "trampoline" arise.

So, whatever your exercise, fitness, or personal care needs may be, be sure to check out all the innovative products available at Verseo, all of which can be had with 9% cash back by using your Ebates account. They also have an interesting blog called "Beauty Secrets by Mary" where the ladies can get all sorts of tips on looking their best and men can get all sorts of tips on understanding ladies.


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January 7, 2009

Spring 09 Fashion Week.jpgHaving worked in the fashion world for almost a decade now, I am well aware that trends are usually forecasted six to seven months ahead of time. For example; September 2008 was technically the Spring '09 Fashion Week, and the week of February thirteenth will host the Fall '09 shows at Bryant Park. The upside to such a pre-view of what's to come is the ability to thoughtfully plan my wardrobe for the upcoming season. The downside is walking out of a store with newly purchased sandals when there are still two feet of snow on the ground. I don't know about you, but staring at shoes for three months is not my idea of money well spent, and considering the rapid rate at which I get "tired" of my clothing, items need to be wearable ASAP. It's inevitable that I will buy spring- like clothing far ahead of time, yet buying what I like to call hybrid clothing should take me from Winter to Spring with relative ease. Case in point: the Sacha Gladiator Booties by Pour La Victoire would be the love child if sandals and ankle boots ever got together. Heavy enough to not look foolish in the Winter, yet with enough cut-outs to resemble a sandal, these shoes are good for a solid three seasons. Four if you live in a humidity-free climate, or have a an affinity for heavy rocker attire.

Being that it's the beginning of January, any warm weather clothing is un-mistakenly part of a Resort Collection, made for those privileged enough to frequent tropical wonderlands. As much as I try to deny the reality of my bank account, partying in Ibiza is not in the cards, for me, however drinking $5 mixed cocktails at Club Ibiza in San Francisco is more up my alley. Pun intended. Despite not being able to travel to the tropics, faking lifestyles of the rich and famous is easily done with the right clothes, and it's for this reason that I have adopted the motto- Fake It 'Till You Make It.

Nothing says "I've just come back from the islands" like a flowy silk blouse. The kind that'sButterfly-Tunic loose, sheer, and can be worn from the beach to the club. After all, vacation dressing is about the illusion of looking like you couldn't be bothered to dress up, of course with the opposite being true. This Butterfly Silk Tunic by Rachel Mara plays up the warm weather look, yet dressing around this top is a piece of cake. A simple black turtleneck is all that is needed to winterize this piece, not to mention keep you warm. I envision wearing this tunic with said turtleneck, and a pair of black leggings. The look is mod meets earthy, and a pair of ballet flats will have others thinking your life to be full of champagne wishes and caviar dreams.

I found this tunic on sale at Goldyn for under $140, which is a savings of over $90. If that's not enough cash in your pocket you'll also receive 5% cash back. Considering the economic crisis at hand, buying last season's sale items is a great way to build your wardrobe without filing for Chapter Eleven. Despite the chaos and nerve racking headlines, today's retail market is actually buyer-friendly, with most stores having sale sections large enough to satisfy even the pickiest shopper. My advice is to forget the old stigma of last season's items, and search the sales at your favorite sites. You'd be surprised what you can find.



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January 6, 2009

Greetings gentle readers, today you'll be introduced to a small assortment of the many books which Barnes & Noble currently has on sale in their "Buy 2, Get the 3rd Free" Sale. I've tried my best to keep a fairly decent range of books, but am trying to limit my list to at least books I'm moderately familiar with so that I can recommend them in good faith. I've really got my work cut out for me here, so I'll just cut to the chase.

Fiction

curious incident.jpgThe Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

This fascinating story of a young man with Aspbergers (a form of autism) will both tug at your heartstrings and fascinate you at the same time. Full of mathematical allusions (such as the insistence of numbering all chapters in prime numbers) and small idiosyncrasies, this is a quick but compelling read.




maltese falcon.jpg The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett

Quite simply put, this is one of the best and the most important detective novels ever written. Perfectly capturing the noir fiction style and set in San Francisco, this story jumps off the pages. Sam Spade, Hammett's protagonist is chasing not only a murderer, but also a statue believed to be of incalculable value. I don't want to give much away, but just suffice it to say there is a reason this book is still popular and recommended now nearly eighty years after it's initial publication.



Non-Fiction

proust.jpg Proust was a Neuroscientist by Jonah Lehrer

I'll admit that this one is one I have never read or even heard of before today. However, I've always found Proust fascinating and my soon-to-be-brother-in-law is pursuing a PhD in Neuroscience, so it seems like it could be not only a compelling read, but also a good conversation piece. Plus, it's focus is the ever-complex meeting place between philosophy and science. More impressive is the fact that the author penned this work at the tender age of 25.


white people like.jpg Stuff White People Like: A Guide to the Unique Taste of Millions by Christian Lander

If I'm going to do obscure science/thought recommendations, I figure I also need to toss in a book that will have you laughing out loud rather than scratching your chin. A published collection of the finer points of the eponymous blog, this guide will tell you what all those Volvo-driving, arugula-eating white folks like, and more importantly, why they like them. Please, before you all get up in arms, remember: it's comedy. Treat it as such.



idiot girls.jpg The Idiot Girls' Action-Adventure Club by Laurie Notaro

She's clumsy, she drinks to excess, she bounces from job to job. From what I've heard from friends, this book is essentially the female version of the vast majority of the books I read for pleasure. While I won't go as far as to call it a "feel good read" this does seem to be the type of book that makes you feel a tad better about yourself after you finish it. To put it more succinctly, if someone like myself, who favors die-hard masculine writers like Hemingway, Bukowski, and Raymond Carver can be tempted to buy this book for himself, there must be something there beyond the usual "girl feeling okay about herself" stories.

devil in the white city.jpgThe Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

It's dark, it's twisted (as the title should hopefully give away) but man, is it fascinating. This book tells the real story of the development of the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago, as well as the one sociopath who used the fair and all of its attendees as basically an all-you-can-murder-or-torture buffet. It's certainly not for the weak of stomach, but then again, most people who read historical accounts with the word "Devil" in the title seldom have to concern themselves with that. Erik Larson is considered to be one of the masters of narrative history novels, and I have a number of friends who consider this to be his masterpiece.

under the black flag.jpg Under the Black Flag by David Cordingly
We all know that Pirates are about the coolest thing on two legs (or one leg and a peg) next to ninjas and possibly vikings. However, for the majority of our society who realize that there is much a much greater significance to the Flying Dutchman or Davey Jones' Locker than just really stellar CGI, there is a book like this. This is the true, honest-to-goodness, not watered down by Hollywood, kinda makes you a little squeamish but you can't help but keep reading tale of what it really meant to be a pirate. If you pick up this book you will either be admired by your less devoted pirate enthusaists or scorned for being "that person with the way-too-graphic pirate stories". The choice is yours, but the book is definitely worth the money and the read.

Biography

heat.jpg Heat by Bill Buford

Unfortunately, I'm sure that most of you don't know who Bill Buford is. Suffice it to say that he's a phenomenal journalist and has worked as an editor at a number of influential magazines and literary journals. He also wrote the book Among the Thugs which I am currently re-reading for about the fourth time. So now picture this: you have this talented writer working in the kitchen of Iron Chef and Italian eccentric Mario Batali. Chances are no truer look at the inside story of kitchen lackey has ever been given, and I can all but gaurantee no kitchen tale has ever been quite so entertaining. So if you like to read about food, eat food, or just read (or eat) good books, this should be right up your alley.

into the wild.jpg Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer

Chances are, most of you know this as book because of the movie. While Emile Hirsch does a great job in his role, there is little that compare with the book that originally inspired the film. Jon Krakauer relates the true-life tale of a dreamer who gets caught up in an adventure that he was, quite frankly, horribly unprepared for. Krakauer is able to relate his protagonist's journey to one he took as a younger man, and does an amazing job of excavating the facts to reveal the truth behind why a college graduate would donate all the money in his savings accoutn to charity and hitchhike to Alaska. No writer captures the spirit of the outdoors quite like Krakauer, and this book is really his defining work.


Phew... so there you have it. Remember, all of these books are Buy Two, Get the Third Free, so you can mix and match. I can't say for sure whether or not you can buy four and get two books free, but I can't imagine why not. Either way, search through the sale, and perhaps I've overlooked something you'd really like to read. Regardless of what you get or what price you get it for, you know you can rest assured that you'll be getting your 4% cash back when you use your Ebates account.


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January 6, 2009

Some people like change; they find it exciting and even invigorating. Others prefer to remain in a routine, where life is familiar and therefore comforting. Change is healthy, everything in the natural world changes and we are no different. Most people who are obsessed with beauty products are those who enjoy change and use their beauty and cosmetics regime to impose change on a daily basis because you can easily change your eye makeup, lipstick and hair style for the day. If you want to take it to another level and really change your regime on the regular, you can check out the "World of Jo Malone" fragrances. Each scent is multi-faceted, complex, and meant to be layered or combined with other fragrances, thus the ability to create a different scent almost everyday. I have a bit of a collecting problem with Jo Malone fragrances, I own quite a few and I love to mix and match the scents, layer with body lotion or body wash and concoct a different scent everyday. You can even take this to an entirely different level and combine fragrances in the home, in a practice Malone calls scent surround. You can find the complete collection of Jo Malone at Nordstrom along with more information about Malone's signature scent combining.

Another helpful hint: if you are sick of your current fragrance, but are not ready to dump the bottle or let it collect dust on your vanity, you can layer a Jo Malone fragrance with it and come up with a completely different scent. Also, apply fragrances to different parts of your body, for example one scent on your wrist and another on your neck.


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Get introduced to Jo Malone with the perennial favorite and best seller (also the first in my arsenal) Orange Blossom, a light and floral fragrance made with the scents of with clementine and water Lilly, available online at Nordstrom for $55 for a 10z bottle with 3% cash back. It is light enough to layer amazingly with a variety of scents but robust enough to wear alone.



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Or, explore the newest newest addition, Sweet Lime and Cedar (shown above in the 3.4oz bottle for $100), a fragrance inspired by the diverse flavors of Thai Cuisine. It perfectly balances zesty fruits with fragrant, aromatic leaves, delicate flowers, spices, and nutty woods, mirroring the balance of diverse flavors found in the cuisine. This one is truly as amazing as it sounds, and rest assured, you will not smell like food.


So spice up the routine and change a little something else everyday. It feels (and smells) great.


Shop on!




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January 5, 2009

If your upbringing was anything like mine, there was one thing your mother stressed above all: the importance of always having clean underwear.

I know it's almost like a joke these days, but growing up I had to make sure I was leaving the house with a clean fresh pair of underpants on, or else the fates would conspire to make sure I was in some sort of accident which would cause me to need medical attention which would cause me to have to disrobe for the doctor, who would, in turn, see that I was not, in fact, wearing clean underpants. The fallout from this chain of events would be eternal shame not only on myself for having dirty underpants, but to my family, for having let me leave the house in such a state.

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Nowadays, I have a somewhat different problem. Having been brought up as I was, I know I always am leaving the house in spic-and-span underwear, but in the past few weeks, a number of my pairs of underwear have bitten the dust. Or perhaps, more precisely, they have disintegrated into dust. That's the thing about men and their underwear: they will wear a pair until they literally cease to function as underwear anymore. Either way, it was time to re-stock my underwear drawer. For me, there is but one choice: Old Navy. I have been a fan of their boxers for almost as long as I've been wearing boxers, and I always appreciate the fact that they usually have somewhat more unique patterns that make their boxers a little more fun. Best of all, all patterned boxers are currently on sale for $5 a pair, which is nearly impossible to beat. So check them out, see if you can find a pair or two that best suits you (or your significant other). I'd let you all know what pattern I went with, but I'd rather leave that to your imagination. Generally, you have to at least buy me dinner before getting the chance to see my underpants.


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January 5, 2009

It seems like most people I have talked to have described their first few days of 2009 as being in a  "funk". If you are not familiar with a funk, well you are very lucky. A "Funk" is marked by inexplicable feelings of being down, listless, unambitious, and even depressed. Blame it on post-holiday depression, Winter blues, or financial stress. Regardless of the source, I have not seen many smiles out there in the world in the past five days and it has me thinking that perhaps funks are contagious. So while the prospect of being totally self-indulgent and mopey is somewhat appealing, life is simply just too short to waste in a funk. Most people recommend the best way to beat a funk is to exercise, visit with friends, or take part in activities you enjoy.

For me, there is a direct relationship between how I feel mentally and how I dress. When I am feeling like I am in a funk, my outfits are too. The best way to beat a wardrobe funk is to buy something that inspires you to look at your wardrobe in a whole new way. Something that makes your worn-in favorite jeans feel different or something that inspires you to pick up an old jacket and see it in a whole new way. In years past, I have gone out in a funk-inspired frenzy and bought something totally extravagant. Not willing to break any resolutions just five days in to 2009, I think it would be smart to seek something more budget-conscious to part the clouds.


Deliasplaid.jpgWhen I stumbled upon this Elisa Plaid Shirt from dELiA*s, I knew it would do the trick while keeping within my budget, as it is just $34.50 with 3% cash back. While there is nothing totally special about it on the surface, it inspires me to create different looks with what I currently have. I will most often wear it with a pair of skinny jeans, heels and some ultra-feminine statement necklace to make it less masculine, like this Rhinestone Bib Necklace from Banana Republic for just $59 with 3% cash back. Necklace.jpg


The blouse will make a great layering piece as well, and will be perfectly cute under a black leather jacket, or look modern-classic under a great blazer and it will work with all my clothing, from jeans to slacks and even minis.

My recommendation to beat a funk: add some plaid to your closet and beat a funk by starting with your wardrobe. You will feel better, I promise.

Shop on!


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January 5, 2009

Back from Boston, I find myself truly wanting to better my life in the New Year. Having arrived home from my trip at 1:00 a.m. I also find myself extremely sleep deprived to the point where hallucinating seems almost inevitable. If it weren't for the kind heart of my family, who arranged for a driver to pick me up at the god forsaken hour at which I landed, I would probably still be wandering the Oakland airport like a zombie. A very well dressed zombie, but nonetheless, a zombie. As the haze of my trip is starting to lift, I now have the daunting task of how to go about this "New Year, New Me" attitude. Certainly I can't be expected to do a 180 overnight, however instead of unrealistic expectations, I am choosing to focus on three major things that need changing in my life. These would be travel, body, and attire. The key step to ensuring that I achieve all three of my goals is to save my money, and stop overspending on things I could find for less through Ebates. A tight wallet will help me focus on what is truly a necessity and what is not.

Green Drink.jpgAs for the body change, there's several things that need improving, and I'm not talking about "weight" as most people tend to obsess over. What I am talking about is the overall health and maintenance of my body, and for once I'll focus on the inside. A healthy body leads to a healthy mind, and this Green Drink from Institute For Vibrant Living is the best way to get all the benefits of green grasses and other cancer-preventing vegetables. Filled with anti-oxidants, enzymes, vitamins, and minerals, this powder is what I like to call the stuff of life. It contains no allergens or pesticides, and as a green drinker I can honestly say that you will feel an improvement in your overall body health. Since starting this daily health boost, I've noticed that I crave sugar and carbs less, which is a miracle unto itself. Most health food stores sell these green powdered drinks for upwards of $40, but I found this for under twenty. Being an Ebates member means I earn 8% cash back, making my bank account healthy as well.

My next goal to overall body maintenance is the dreaded moisturizing of my skin. I couldSkin Trip Lotion.jpg quite possibly be the only woman who hates this regimen, yet applying lotion during the cold winter months is not my cup of tea. However much I hate this chore, not doing so is leaving my body to resemble that of tree bark. Needless to say, this is not a look I am going for, and can be prevented with the help of Mountain Ocean Skin Trip. This lotion is not only natural (no toxins) but it dries fast and smells like coconut. I can't count the times I have been complimented on this lotion, and between the bf and myself, the bottle goes fast. Like most natural products, this one can be expensive if purchased at your local health food stores. Luckily for me, I found this on sale for under eight dollars at MotherNature.com, a mecca for all things natural and organic. Compared to the $12 I would pay elsewhere, I see no reason to ever pay top dollar again. Earning 7% cash back is reason enough to always shop Ebates.

Living in San Francisco will turn anyone into a relative health nut, and I am a perfect example of this. Once a fast food eater, I have taken significant steps in changing my diet, and my waistline reflects this. No one is perfect, yet if you're going to make positive changes to your body, keep in mind that Ebates has several merchants catering to this cause. Below are just a few more of our merchants that make the change easier..and much cheaper!

Drugstore.com Has hundreds of natural body, hair, and household products.

Vitacost.com Has discounted vitamins and other supplements.

MotherNature.com Has everything from supplements to cookbooks, beauty products to cleaning products, all natural and/or organic. They also cater to kosher goods.

Institute For Vibrant Living Has natural supplements that support digestive health, weight management, colon health, and much more. No speed-like diet pills, or unknown chemicals in the products on this site.


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January 4, 2009

Okay folks, we've had the new format for the blog up for a little while now, and I am wondering what you all think of it? Is it a big improvement? Are there things you would like to see changed? I know I need to swap out the featured blogs in our blogroll, and have that on my "to do" list for Monday. There are a few other bugs and fixes we are working on, but on the whole, this will be what things will look like.

I do have plans for expanding involvement in the blog - we will hopefully have guest bloggers from time to time who will help bring some other voices to augment the quartet of bloggers you usually read here. But basically, as we begin a new year, I am wondering if there are some resolutions that we here at the Ebates blog should be making. I'd love to hear what you folks, as our beloved readers, have to say. Feel free to leave comments here or just shoot me an e-mail (a link to my address is at the top of my profile).

Thanks!!
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January 3, 2009

When constructing a gaming PC, a solid monitor is an integral piece of the proverbial puzzle that is often overlooked. Of course you'll need a great CPU, a powerful graphics card, and more RAM than wise men, but all your bits and bytes won't be worth a damn if you're stuck with some clunky CRT circa 1996. Why not bring your HD gaming upgrade full circle with something a little more...high tech like this outstanding 22" Asus LCD Monitor?

asus1.jpgWhile some folks might argue that all monitors are all the same, those poor souls would be hopelessly wrong. If you don't believe me, hop in your time machines and travel back to the year 2000 and give your old 16ms Dell monitor a go. Between the blurry images, the awful refresh rates, and the subpar contrast, most monitors nowadays blow your dusty old relics away. Aside from this Asus's impressive 22" widescreen display, it practically blinds the competition with its 1000:1 contrast ratio, beautiful color, and astonishingly fast 2ms refresh rate that's better than many pricier monitors out there.

When playing games or watching HD movies, you have to have a screen that can handle the action. From accurately presenting colors, to keeping a smooth and steady picture throughout the heaviest action, this Asus monitor will perform with the best of them. It also sports a DVI input for HD devices like Blu-Ray players, video game systems, and cable boxes; meaning you can eliminate some serious clutter in a small area. Heck, it even includes tiny, built-in speakers for those who don't care about audio quality whatsoever. What doesn't this thing have?

In the end, it's hard to pass up a solid monitor. It's even more difficult when that said solid monitor is $30 off with an *additional* $20 rebate; bringing it's once-lofty price of $219 down to a manageable $169. If you're ready to bring your game to the next level, there's hardly anything better than a spacious 22" monitor. Pop on over to Newegg and take a peek for yourself - a new monitor can make much more of a difference than you might think.



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January 2, 2009

A Newsweek article from December 31st highlighted the truly pressing need for Americans to clean up they way the dress in order to escape the image of a fanny-packed, shorts-clad "ugly American". Even more important, however, is the need to return to a simple yet chic dressing because it more accurately represents our American values. A wardrobe should be comprised of a modest amount of  classic, well-made items of of clothing rather than a plethora of junk. With many of us on a strict budget, the notion of "less is more" really needs to become the shopping mantra of '09.

As I read the article, I couldn't help but feel that it finally articulated a belief that has been on the tip of many people's tongues for some time now. We need to clean up our fashion act and go back to basics. You walk the streets during the morning commute and see more t-shirts than you see people in suits, you see more tennis shoes than freshly-shined dress shoes. I truly believe that people should dress how they want to, but should also be aware that what you wear is a reflection of who you are. It is not about spending exorbitant amounts of money on clothing, in fact it's quite the opposite. It is about taking pride in how you look and projecting an image to the world.

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The embodiment of the best of American 'simple chic' fashion is the Diane von Furstenburg Wrap Dress. It is the intersection between understated sophistication and femininity. It is also practical for the modern woman who is not confined to the home; she is a traveler, a professional, and a woman who commands respect. This exact cut, in different prints and fabrics (pictured left) has been sold in stores since the 1970's. You can get your hands on one from Shopbop, for $325 with 6% cash back. This is truly an investment piece: you may spend a little bit more, but it will remain in style forever and maintain the integrity of the luxurious silk-jersey fabric too.

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You can also get the look for less courtesy of Ann Taylor. This Abstract Chain Link Knit Dress, is on sale and now for only $69.99 with 3% cash back. It is made of a similar, ultra-flattering (and wrinkle-resistant) stretch jersey fabric in a classic chain link print.

So regardless of whether or not you agree with its premise, the article is still an interesting read and presents a unique point of view to consider. It definitely has me thinking: "when every single purchase counts, what will I buy?"

Shop on!


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January 2, 2009

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Happy New Year one and all, and welcome to 2009's first installment of Free Shipping Friday. Since most of the holiday sales and specials are starting to wind down, free shipping offers are a tad more scant this week, but there are still a few out there that are definitely worth jumping on if you want to do a little makeup work for the gifts that you didn't get this holiday season. So with no further ado, let me bring you the few highlights of the free shipping deals expiring this week.

Friday, January 2nd
- Lane Bryant is offering free shipping on dress orders of at least $75. Just make your purchase and use code 006951511 at checkout.

Saturday, January 3rd
- Just in time for the conclusion of College Bowl Season and the NFL Playoffs, the ESPN Shop has free shipping on orders $50 or more. Use code LKSP8CF5 when you check out.

- Continuing in the athletic trend, Foot Locker has free shipping on orders of $75 or more. This is a great chance to motivate yourself to keep those resolutions - with new athletic apparel or shoes. Make sure you enter code LKS18CP7 when you check out.

- Enjoy storewide free shipping on orders over $30 from the HP Home & Home Office Store.

- Kohls is offering free standard shipping when you spend $75 or more sitewide.

Monday, January 5th

- Betsey Johnson has free shipping during her New Year's Sale, which ends on Monday the 5th.

- Now that you've taken all your holiday photos from friends and families and all the various festivities, it's the perfect chance to take advantage of free standard Shipping and great holiday deals at the Kodak Store!


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January 2, 2009

Boston-CommonIt's no surprise that what defines Winter varies as much as the temperature does. In San Francisco, Winter means rain and a low of about 45 degrees. In Boston, yesterday to be exact, Winter meant 14 degrees with a new blanket of snow. It was so cold that no matter how bundled in multiple layers I was, my feet froze inside my shoes, my legs hurt under my jeans, and the skin on my face (the only exposed part of me) was burning from the air, otherwise known as the first stage of frostbite. It may seem like I a dreadful situation, however I welcomed the piercing cold and the mounds of snow I trudged through. I used to hibernate during these cold, harsh months, but after a long hatred with December through March, I have come to embrace the Winter and all that it brings. While some may only experience disgruntled people or bitter cold, there's much beauty to be seen such as snow covered branches, a winter sunset filled with pale blues and yellows, or the look of icicles hanging from gas-lit lamp posts.

Mirrored Vanity.jpgIt's with this new resolve of embracing the season that I see the importance of embracing it in the home as well. Instead of wishing for Spring, why not celebrate the beauty of Winter, by creating your own Winter Wonderland? The right furniture and decor can instantly add charm and enhance this most hated season.

While browsing the winter clearance sale at Horchow, I came across this Mirrored Vanity. The mirrored finish pays homage to an ice covered world, and will look equally chic adorned with bright flowers (Summer) or a tray of fresh picked pinecones (fall). If the chic and feminine look doesn't pull you in, perhaps saving $200 while recieving 4% cash back will help seal the deal. Instead of rushing through Winter mornings half asleep and freezing, why not enjoy a cup of coffee next to the warm glow of a lamp and this beautiful piece? I can't think of a more lovely or tranquil place to do one's make-up and get ready for the day ahead, and it is common knowledge that starting your morning off on a good foot leads to a good day. When the temperature won't hit double digits, good days may seem hard to come by. 



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