Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Things You Should Never Pay Full Price For - Part II

Movie Rentals

I know, I know.  This seems like a bit of a no-brainer.  I hear you saying, "Why would I pay for a movie when I can download it for free?"  True.  And don't get me wrong, I too have been known to sail the high seas of the internet, pirating the odd movie and downloading cheesy 80's music here and there.  But I'm tired of viruses and poor quality movies, or watching an excellent film only to find that the language switches to Farsi halfway through. 

I used to be a faithful Roger's Video customer.  I wanted to support a Canadian company (if they are in fact still Canadian?)  But then, last month, I decided to switch to Blockbuster because I had accumulated late charges at Roger's.  Oh, how quick our alliances change when $1.50 is on the line.

I wasn't really expecting much from Blockbuster.  The stores are a bit worn-looking, and really the whole idea of going out to rent a DVD seems a little primitive.  BUT, they have a FANTASTIC deal at the moment.  Basically, for $10 a month you can rent as many movies as you want, as long as they're not new releases.  The only stipulation is that you rent one movie at a time. The information about the deal is here.

So far, I've rented Michael Clayton, Bowling for Columbine and several Family Guy episodes.  It's super easy, and cheap cheap cheap...and probably because everyone else in the Western world is downloading movies or streaming video from the internet, the store was almost empty, so the selection was fantastic. 

I'm going to give Blockbuster two thumbs way up!  (Oh, and Rogers?  Just try and get your buck fifty back!)

Take care,

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Things You Should Never Pay Full Price For

Over the last few months, I've become a lot more careful how I spend my money, and I've discovered how easy it can be to save money here and there.  Over the next few days, I'll share with you some of the things that I will never pay full price for again.

Vacuum Cleaners

Ok, this one doesn't actually fit the category, because I don't think you should ever pay for a vacuum cleaner.  Period.  Let me explain.

Once upon a time Tracey bought a Dirt Devil on sale from Canadian Tire for about $70.00.   Not a bad price she thought.  It was one of the ones you pull behind you with the long hose (is there a technical term for that?  I don't know.)  Anyway, it worked well.  Not brilliantly, but it sucked up most of the dust bunnies, so she was satisfied.

Then, one day, Baz found an upright vacuum cleaner sitting next to the dumpster.  To his surprise, when he plugged it in, it worked.  In fact, the only thing that was wrong with it was that the bag was full.  So, he cleaned it out, got a new bag, and Voila! A perfectly functioning vacuum!  Tracey was loathe to admit that the dumpster vacuum worked better than her Dirt Devil, but it did, and there was barely a dust bunny in sight.

Then, a few weeks later, Baz found another vacuum cleaner sitting next to the dumpster.  To his surprise, when he plugged it in, it worked.  In fact, the only thing that was wrong with it was that the canister was full.  So, he cleaned it out and Voila!  A perfectly functioning vacuum!  Once again, Tracey was loathe to admit that this new canister vacuum worked better than the dumpster vacuum and the Dirt Devil, but it did.  In fact, it made the carpets look almost brand new.

Several weeks passed, and one day Baz came home with a third vacuum cleaner.  He'd found it in the dumpster.  Neither he nor Tracey was surprised when they plugged it in and it worked.  They cleaned out the canister and the filter and Voila!  Another perfectly functioning vacuum cleaner!  The floors shone, the carpets looked new and they rejoiced.

Tracey and Baz now had four vacuum cleaners which all worked exceptionally well, except for the Dirt Devil, which had learned nothing from its new friends, and performed its job only satisfactorily.  With a (only slightly) heavy heart, Tracey decided to part with her Dirt Devil and welcome her new adopted dumpster friends with open arms.  And they all lived happily ever after.

And the moral of the story....
Many people would prefer to buy a new vacuum cleaner than clean out the one they already have.  So, if you don't mind cleaning out someone else's dust bunnies, keep your eyes open.  There are more vacuums out there than you might think!

Take care,

Friday, August 27, 2010

Fantastic Finds

I went to my local thrift store last night to see if they had any goodies.  I went with Baz and we took our bicycles.  That's a big deal for me, because
  • a) it means that's the third time I've exercised this week, and
  • b) I actually managed to stay upright.
I'm not very good at doing things which require the attachment of wheels or blades to my body.  Ice skates = bad.  Roller skates = bad.  Roller blades = positively dangerous.  Skis = certain death.  Some day I'll tell you about how I left a trail of mangled bodies downhill skiing in Italy or how I broke both my kneecaps skating when I was thirteen.

But I digress. 

As I was saying, I went to the local thrift store to see what they had, and I found these!

When I saw them they reminded me of the dishes that my grandmother used for years and years.  She got them sometime in the 1970's in Staffordshire, England, where we all lived until I was 12 years old.  Staffordshire is known for its pottery.  I don't like a lot of it, to be honest - especially these dogs which I think are super hideous.

(Mind you, these hideous dogs are also worth a fortune, so I certainly wouldn't complain if I found them for a buck a piece at a garage sale.)

Anyway, back to the items at hand.  I checked the back, and they are marked "Royal Alma" and then underneath "Staffordshire, Ironstone."  So, I bought them.  Five dinner plates, six side plates and six bowls, for $5.97!!  There's a chip in one of the side plates, otherwise they look like they're in pretty good condition.  (Oh, and in case you're wondering, I didn't balance them on the handlebars of my bike, I went and got the car.)

When I got home I checked the dishes out on the internet.  An identical plate sold for about $8 on E-bay, so I think I got a pretty good deal.  I thought briefly about keeping them for myself, but have decided to try and sell them on Kijiji, as I do NOT need more dishes.  Even if I sell the lot for $30, I'll have made a 600% return on my investment.  (My friend told me that, by the way, so I cannot attest to the accuracy of the math.)  Whatever.  I'll be ahead of the game, and in the end I'm pretty sure that's what life is all about.

Take care,

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Lighten up Mr. Dickens!

Last month I bought a Kobo.  For those of you who aren't familiar with a Kobo, it's the Chapters/Indigo version of the Kindle or the Sony e-Reader.  I have to say it's one of the best purchases I have ever made, and at $150.00 it's significantly cheaper than some of the other e-readers out there.  The main difference between the Kobo and the Kindle is that the Kobo is ONLY for reading books.  You can't access the internet with it, play Grand Theft Auto on it, and it won't make you coffee.  And that's fine with me.  I just wanted something to replace the hundreds of paperbacks that have cluttered every corner of my home for so many years.

One of the features of the Kobo is that it comes with 100 free books.  Classics.  Like The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, Ulysses by James Joyce or Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace. Initially, I was quite excited.  "Oh perfect!" I thought.  "Now I'll be able to really delve into some of these wonderful classics."  But then I realized, I have ABSOLUTELY NO INTENTION of reading them.  EVER.

Don't get me wrong.  I love to read.  I majored in English at University and did quite well, thank you very much.  But the thought of reading Tolstoy or Dickens or Chaucer or (heaven forbid!) Hemingway makes my eyelids feel heavy.

It's funny though.  I know people who seem to read the classics all the time.  Their booklists feature nothing else, and their facebook statuses say things like "Anna Karenina - brilliant!" or "Just finished Dante's Inferno and never wanted it to end!" (possible slight exaggeration there)


Take this, for example, from Charles Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities.

All these things, and a thousand like them, came to pass in and close upon the dear old year one thousand seven hundred and seventy-five.  Environed by them, while the Woodman and the Farmer worked unheeded, those two of the large jaws, and those other two of the plain and the fair faces, trod with stir enough, and carried their divine rights with a high hand.
Er, right.  A real page-turner.

Don't get me wrong.  I've read a few classics that I've really enjoyed.  Jane Eyre is one of them.  Zola's Germinal is another.  But I'd like to go on the record here and tell you that most of the books on my Top Ten List I read for pure escapism and entertainment.  I ADORE chick-lit.  Marian Keyes' books are fantastic as is the Shopaholic series by Sophie Kinsella.  The Harry Potter books were a super fun read, and I enjoyed The Diary of a Wimpy Kid after my daughter was finished with it.  I love murder mysteries, the odd true crime book, and pretty much anything else that's fluffy and doesn't require much thought. 

So I'm gonna go out on a limb here.  I really can't speak for my well-read friends, but I have a feeling that maybe some people are slightly economical with the truth when it comes to the books they read.  I decided to do a little bit of research, and you know what?  Out of the millions of titles available on Kobo E-books, the 14th most popular book is this.

Malkom Slaine: tormented by his sordid past and racked by vampiric hungers, he’s pushed to the brink by the green-eyed beauty under his guard. A MADDENING WITCH HE ACHES TO CLAIM . . . Carrow Graie: hiding her own sorrows, she lives only for the next party or prank. Until she meets a tortured warrior worth saving. TRAPPED TOGETHER IN A SAVAGE PRISON . . . In order for Malkom and Carrow to survive, he must unleash both the demon and vampire inside him. When Malkom becomes the nightmare his own people feared, will he lose the woman he craves body and soul?
(Synopsis courtesy of kobobooks.com)

Interesting, n'est pas?

Well, it certainly sounds a bit more spicy than a Tale of Two Cities.  I'm sure it's no Dickens, but it probably won't make my eyes bleed either.  If you don't mind, I think I'll end this post here.  I have some reading to do.

Take care,

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Green Thumbs of Death

Saturday morning I got up at the ungodly hour of 5:30am, and went for a long walk.  I couldn't help feeling a little like an imposter exercising at that time of the morning, nodding cheerily to other walkers as if to say, "Oh yes, this is part of my daily routine."  My poor legs didn't know what had hit them when I got home.  In fact I went back to bed at 9am, and slept for 3 hours.
No matter.  I did find a couple of little gems at a garage sale at 7am.

I quite like this jug.  It was $2.00, and is going to look great in the kitchen holding all my utensils.  And, in a fit of inspiration, I bought this little teacup.  It's Royal Albert, and also cost $2.00.  I decided the teacup would look brilliant if I used it as a planter for some hen and chicks, so that's exactly what I did.

It looks fantastic, doesn't it?

Well, let me let you in on a little secret.  Right now those hen and chicks are dying a slow and painful death.  Oh yes, they look great in the picture.  But minutes before, in my haste to replant them in the new teacup, I ripped out most of the roots.  Now, I don't know a lot about plants, but I'm thinking that's probably not good. 

You see, I'm a killer of plants.  Always have been.  It's just that they're so quiet - I forget about them.  I forget to water them, I forget to give them sunlight, I don't repot them when they get too big.  I'm an unfit plant parent. 

I have a 12 year old daughter (who I lovingly refer to as Stinky), and a cat named Kitten, and have managed to raise both of them without much trouble.  But you see, if they were hungry they wouldn't just sit in the corner and wither away.  They would say something.  If I forget to get breakfast for Stinky, she's opening the refrigerator door by 9.30am and acting as if her throat's been cut.  Kitten does the same thing.  But not plants.  They die a very stoical death...they don't whine, or meow, or screech...they just turn brown and expire. 

And I have a feeling that's going to happen to my hen and chicks.  Because you can be sure that if their lack of roots don't kill them, the lack of water will.

Take care,

Friday, August 20, 2010

Shiny New Blog

I'm the type of person who loves shiny new things.  Like this blog.  It's new, it's pretty, and this is my first post, so I haven't had chance to screw it up yet.  However,  I have the brain of a cabbage white butterfly; consequently, I very often abandon ship to begin a new and much more exciting project.

This is me when I was ten.  I'm the one on the right.  Remember
what I said about the "cabbage white butterfly?"

However, I'm going to do my best to make a go of this.  I turned 40 this year, and would like to begin focusing a little more on my writing.  And I'm not short on things to write about either - I love home decorating, thrift stores, crocheting as well as travel, current events, and other fleeting "passions" I have from time to time.

Time will tell what happens to this blog, but for now I'm just excited to see where it might lead me.

Take care,