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Sunday, November 15, 2009

Shopping!

It's "that time of year" again- The $#&%!! Festive Season- and so one's mind turns (whether one wants it to or not) to... Shopping! This blog post is Totally about shopping, and includes a few products & merchant's I've come to love...

In the last 7 years- since we moved here to the rural mountains of southern WV- I've become a die-hard, passionate eBayer, and while I internet-window-shop all the high-end fashion & retail sites, such as Neiman-Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman, Bendel's, Bloomies, Vogue mag, etc., I then put up eBay "alerts" for items I covet, & once they pop up (and almost everything eventually does...) I then play wait-&-see, coming in at the last, heart-pounding second to snag that bargain Missoni sweater or Viv Westwood heels, or cashmere coat! (& yes, last week I've snagged all of the above!) This Native NYC Girl has Never been comfortable "paying retail"; it makes one feel like an eejit! In The City I was a habitue of the fabulous Upper East Side Thrift Shops where one would oft rub elbows with the Ladies Who Lunch while combing the racks in pursuit of that AbFab $5 cashmere sweater! Nothing thrills a NYC gal so mucg as snagging a Missoni cashmere suit or Burberry coat for $25, or a pair of Ferragamo pumps for $15! (As readers of the blog know, when I travel on business, if I have an hour free I usually make a bee-line for the local Goodwill or Salvation Army; one never knows What treasure one may find, especially if there's an "upper income" neighborhood nearby!) In the process, I've turned Dan into the Thrift Shop King of Landgraff, WV- Truly funny as he STILL professes to HATE shopping! When at home I turn to www.eBay.com- for darn near everything, from designer duds, cosmetics, & perfumes I could never otherwise afford, to one-of-a-kind vintage quilts, carpets, and decor items for the Inn, to office supplies, "toys", and even vehicles! Although I shop eBay all year- late at night, Nothing beats it for sheer, mindless relaxation- come November, I'm Seriously looking for Hanukkah gifts for Dan- the man I have Never been able to surprise! But this year I think I may actually be able to do it! Don't tell him(!), but early this summer I snagged him the eBay bargain to beat all: a Gorgeous, new, dark-green shearling coat (and while I was at it, a fluffy Mongolian Lamb jacket for me...) from 2 great eBay furriers (one in Canada who had GREAT stuff...), & boxed them up & hid them in the cedar closet... I also got Chef Dan a portable pocket pepper mill, after he actually mentioned in a restaurant that he'd like to have one... I'm currently eBay-following a fabulous electronic hog call (!) & brush pants for the Texas hog-hunting trip we're planning, as well as ski duds for both of us (so we don't look like dorks when I take him back to Winterplace to ski, as I fully well intend to do...) And then I discovered BestKimchi www.bestkimchi.com in Flushing NY (home of The Best Korean food outside Korea), and as they will actually FedEx fresh Korean BBQ, Kimchi, & even Korean scallion pancakes, Dan just May be getting a Korean Feast that he won't have to cook himself! :-D

Products (and merchants) I've come to Love:
Rejuvacote
I am 50, and for 37 years I've been trying (sometimes desperately, as readers of this blog know...) to find a way to grow my paper-thin nails out longer than the quick- and to stop them from tearing off the minute I use my hands for anything- and I FINALLY FOUND IT! THIS STUFF WORKS! I not only have long nails that I can put polish on & not feel stupid, but they aren't paper-thin any more! I have REAL, HEALTHY, THICK NAILS! Which is nothing short of Amazing! I was told for years by doctors that my paper-thin nails were due to the fact that I have Psoriasis, and that there was nothing I could do about it- and that was a lie!!!! I have used Everything on the market, but nothing worked; I recently tried NailTek for a number of months & it helped a bit- but more as a coating than anything else, and my nails still tore off. But Rejuvacote REALLY worked- & fast! I have real, normal nails now, polished up all pretty, and I've not even 1/2 finished one bottle! :-D

Clorox OxiMagic Spray
I never thought I'd say I love a cleaning product- ANY cleaning product- but I LOVE Clorox OxiMagic Spray! It really works and takes out stains- even horrid things like dried coffee & red wine- on contact- & I go Nuts when we run out of it! And so, naturally, our local WalMart has stopped carrying it... but good ol' Family Dollar keeps it in stock! Because we have the Inn, and it is Huge and requires a LOT of cleaning damn near constantly (all of which Dan & I do ourselves), I do not say this lightly: OxiMagic Spray is Da Bomb! :-D

Aminogenesis
I try LOTS of anti-aging products. Since I turned 48 it's become my "hobby". LOL. I read Spa B-2-B publications religiously, check beauty websites constantly, & do trials of new products as often as I can. At 50, I'm Always on the prowl for the Next Greatest Thing to (at least visually) "stop the clock", and when I compare close-up photos of my face to those of most of my peers, I think I've been at least reasonably successful! LOL I've tried everything from LaMer (didn't do a thing for me), Philosophy (no results from their anti-aging products, but I do like their 2-part microdermabrasion kit), and Lancome Precious Cells (nice & creamy, but no results), to Skinceutical Ferrilic C E serum, and Obagi Elastiderm Eye Gel (jury's still out on these two), as well as drugstore & WalMart products like Olay (feels nice, but no real results). But to date I always wind up going back to AminoGenesis, for their products Truly help my skin look its best, and they're the only products I've bought repeatedly for years now- and yes, as a result of this we sell them in the Elkhorn Inn's Gift Shop and on-line Gift Shop: http://store.elkhorninnwv.com The products I love best and won't be without are: Cocoon Body Lotion (which actually helps my Psoriasis, and has clinical research to back it up), Photolagen for sun damaged skin, Dermascyne 2 & 3, and Very Very Clean Cleanser. No, they're not "cheap", but they're a Helluvalot cheaper than LaMer- and (most importantly) they actually work! :-D

Queensboro.com
ALL of the Elkhorn Inn's gorgeously full-color embroidered shirts, spa robes, chef's aprons, & caps now come from www.Queensboro.com! They do THE best embroidery, have THE best prices, and THE best customer service! We have ordered from other suppliers over the years, but Queensboro has won our hearts- they are ABSOLUTELY the best. They have a VERY cool & user-friendly website, with a neat program that allows you to change the embroidery colors for each garment adn see what it will really look like- AND they were able to create a great embroidery graphic of the Inn from a photo, AND they have only a 4-piece product minimum, so you can order small quantities, AND they have Great sale prices, AND their Customer Service people are EXCELLENT! :-D

BioFreeze
Dan has arthritis in his hands, and sometimes he's in terrible pain from it. (There is NOTHING worse to have around than a workaholic in pain!) We have tried a LOT of stuff, but BioFreeze actually works & TRULY helps take the pain away almost immediately. GREAT stuff! :-D

iGourmet, D'Artagnan, Very Asia, Pepper-Passion, & Amazon
Somewhat of a "foodie", I love to get Chef Dan yummy gourmet things we can cook with (or that he can cook with & I can eat, LOL), and the only way I can get us "exotic" foodstuffs, such as Vietnamese pho noodles & fish sauce, Japanese nori & pickled ginger for sushi, Korean BBQ sauce, Thai lemongrass, Chinese black fungus mushrooms, Italian truffle cheese, and specialty meats like buffalo Fillet Mignon, elk steaks, or wild boar bacon, is to order them online... and so some of my favorite retailers (besides eBay) are www.igourmet.com (for WONDERFUL cheeses, sausages, condiments, spices, etc.), www.dartagnan (for THE best gourmet meats and their EXCELLENT Cassoulet Kit which comes with Everything you need, from the French Tarbot beans & sausages to the duck confit & fat!), www.pepper-passion.com for Vietnamese & other exotic peppercorns that Chef Dan likes to cook with, and www.veryasia.com for Asian foodstuffs. www.Amazon.com Marketplace has great stuff, but their shipping costs are INSANE, and so I've taken to using it as a source, and then buying directly from the individual merchant's websites. (I just ordered Asian foodie things from www.tastepadthai.com and www.pacificrimgourmet, both of whom I discovered on Amazon Marketplace, and will let you know how they are, shortly!) I do love www.Amazon.com for books, especially cheaper second-hand books, and this fall I finally treated myself to a slew of books I've coveted for a Long time: Oliver Statler's books on Japan, one of Mai Pham's great Vietnamese cookbook, and anthologies of Korean & Vietnamese short stories... I'm back to curling up in bed (or by the fireplace, or in the bathtub...) with a good book (or two or three), and it's my Fave thing to do in the winter, when it starts getting dark (and cold) at 4p.m.!

CarrotInk.com
I discovered www.carrotink.com thru MyPoints www.mypoints.com- my very favorite shopping portal- and I am VERY impressed with their products, their prices, & their customer service. They do re-manufactured extra-large ink cartridges for both our printers at less than half the price of what the regular-size ones cost at WalMart, AND they have free shipping, AND when you call their Customer Service you get knowledgeable people who can actually answer one's questions, AND you get MyPoints on each purchase! :-D

MagicJack
Okay, I was a skeptic. When Dan paid $19.95 for this and brought it home I rolled my eyes, convinced that it Had to be a total scam. But he hooked it up to our computer & it works- and now we (and Elkhorn Inn guests) make all our long distance calls from it at no charge! And there really were no hidden charges! They did NOT ask for a credit card when he registered! I'm impressed! (Actually, I'm AMAZED!) :-D

MyPoints.com
As for www.MyPoints.com, this year in the process of simply shopping for things we'd buy anyway, we've again totted up some 17,500 Points- enough for $150 in gift certificates! :-D We've been members of MyPoints for over 7 years, and it's a GREAT program that really works! My only beef with them is that some of the retailers I love to shop at aren't on there- www.dartagnan, http://www.igourmet.com/ http://www.veryasia.com/, http://www.pepper-passion.com/, and http://www.amazon.com/, for example. But (thank goodness) www.ebay.com is! :-D I also use www.ebates.com, which does give cash back, but only if the seller isn't on MyPoints. And once I've found what I want, bargain-hunter that I am, I then Google for Coupon Codes... A lot of this may seem idiotically time consuming, which it is, but (like entering sweeps), it beats playing solitaire! I think the most important thing about shopping is to have some fun at it- I've called it "retail therapy" for years, and if you think of it that way it assuages the guilt! LOL

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