Sunday, October 19, 2014

A trick for Costco Shoppers....


     If you shop at Costco, you know that one of the best, albeit unhealthy, deals  is their hotdog special . The huge hotdog plus a soda is still only $1.50.  The other food in their café is also very inexpensive and if you're like me, you spend a lot of time, energy and cash shopping at Costco which can be very hunger-inducing.

    My Costco generally has a huge line at the Café which is often a deal breaker after doing a major shop. You can imagine my shock when I learned that there is a legitimate way to cut the line.  I often hate to share these types of secrets because, as the saying goes, you tell two friends and they tell two friends and before you know it, everyone is doing it.

    However, I'm in a giving mood today, so I'll share this amazing secret with you... Order while you are paying for your regular Costco stuff.  Tell the cashier what you want and pay for it at the same time you are buying enough toilet paper for a year. Then you just walk right to the front of the café line and show your receipt and they give you the food!

    You will thank me for this one day!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Letting them be Pizza

       I spoke to my sister yesterday while she was in the midst of costume shopping with her five year old. He wanted to be a slice of pizza for Halloween. She thought it was a dumb costume. 

     "Should I just give in and let him be the slice of Pizza?", she asked. "Of course you should", I answered. It seemed like a no-brainer to someone with 10 more years of mom-experience more than she.   "He should be able to express himself however he wants", I smugly added.

      Remember that I have two teenaged sons. We are pretty much past the days of me telling them what to do. There are certainly family rules but I am mile away from telling them what I think that they should dress up as for trick-or-treating. Like really far. 

      I'm in the middle of high school parenting and all  that this brings. They pick their wardrobes, hairstyles, friends and activities without any input from me. 

     I figured that where to go to college was going to be a joint decision but I think that I am wrong. The college fair was coming to my son's school this week. Before we went, I highlighted the schools on the list that I thought he should visit at the fair. He made his own list. I think that there was one school that we both had on our lists. 

       Obviously I'm older and wiser. I know more about college than he does. I'm the one who will be paying. I will be the one wiping away the tears or holding this biggest party once those rejection or acceptance letters start appearing during his senior year. However, I have to let him be the pizza.

     Other than nagging and coaxing about what he has to do this year to get ready to send out applications next fall , the work is really up to him. He has to study for his classes, study for the SAT, fill out the applications, write the essays, etc. He has to try to figure out where he can get in and make a plan about the next few years of his life. He is the type of kid who will be happy wherever he lands. Where you go to college is not an irreversible decision but a pretty big one, especially in the life of a teenager.

  Letting them be pizza is easier said then done. Will someone pass the parmesan cheese?

Saturday, October 11, 2014

What do I do with my Wedding Dress???

         Approximately twenty years ago I was engaged.  I was terribly excited to be marrying the man of my dreams. I was not that excited to be planning a wedding. I had just started my career as a trial attorney and the stress of my heavy case load took precedence over whether I wanted a dove or a heart stamp on the invitation or what color tablecloths I preferred.

         In terms of wedding planning, I  left almost everything up to my parents. My mother was excited to be planning a wedding. My father was happy to be footing the bill. Maybe not happy but whatever emotion fathers have when their daughters are marrying a great guy and they have to pay for the party. The only thing that I was truly concerned about was my wedding gown.

         In the mid 90's many wedding dresses looked like big poofy marshmallows like Mariah Carey did in the 90's.  I was having none of this…

I was more inspired by the 1986 wedding of Caroline Kennedy seen here:

The big day came when my Mom and I decided to head out around my hometown to look for a dress. She was teary. I was determined.  The very first dress that I tried on was by Vera Wang. It was simple and elegant. Exactly what I wanted. I was done. This was "THE DRESS".  Of course, my mother made me go to five other stores and try on a million other dresses that day but we realized that the first one was the dress.

 After the big day, my mother used the last of her wedding budget to get the dress preserved by the cleaners. It has since sat in the humongous box in her guest closet taking up almost an entire shelf. Every year or so, she asked if I wanted to take it yet. I explained that I had no room. 

My parents are now moving. Their new place has no room for the giant box.  My mother demanded that I take it off her hands. I have two sons. I don't think that they will be wearing this dress. Even if I did have a daughter, I am 100% positive that she would want her own over-priced wedding gown. Seriously, if a daughter wears her mother's wedding dress, she is a saint. I must hang out with brats because I do not know one single person who wore their mother's dress for any of their weddings!

So what to do with this beauty? Wedding consignors only want current dresses. Even though mine is Vera Wang, it is 20 years old.  I tried to donate it.  Organizations that actually give dresses to brides (rather than sell them at their thrift shops) either want dresses less than five years old or demand a donation along withe dress. Shipping was going to cost me at least $50 alone. I really did not want it to cost me money to get rid of this dress.

I considered local charities. I checked out the wedding dresses at my local thrift store. Imagine my horror when I saw these dresses all squished together getting manhandled and look at this one all over the floor!  I did not want my lucky dress to suffer this tragic fate. I'm certain some, if not all, of those dresses are going to get so dirty that they will eventually go unsold and thrown away. 

What to do? What to do? I had a brillant idea. I asked the drama teacher at my sons' public high school if she could use it for her plays. Of course she wanted it! Now my dress may get used for many faux weddings! It won't get thrown away by Goodwill.  It is helping the arts in school! Best of all, it won't be taking up precious closet space any more. 

I'm not entirely unsentimental. I did keep the veil. It fits in a shoe box. Perhaps someone will play dress up with it someday! 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Never underestimate the power of a good hair day….

     Having a bad hair day can really make life a little bit darker.  When I am having a good hair day, my disposition is just a tad bit more sunny.  

    I live in South Florida. Hair here frizzes and goes limp one second after you step out the door most of the year.  We Miami girls are always looking for a better way. We buy fancy blowdryers and flat irons and tons of different products that promise better hair days. I think that I found the next great thing.

     I'm not a regular QVC shopper but I did stop one day on the channel when pretty hair stylist Maria McCool was demonstrating her Calista Tools Pro Grip Heated Round Brush.  The girls on the QVC show were running it through their tresses and quickly smoothing, lifting and curling their hair.  

     Despite always trying to explain to my children the difference between "needing" and "wanting", I screamed out " Honey…I NEED this!" A few weeks later, this showed up on my doorstep via UPS…
Calista Tools Perfecter Pro Heated Round Brush at QVC

      My hair is below my shoulders so I got the 1.5" barrel version but they have a 1" barrel for shorter hair.  The Perfector Pro is a hybrid between a brush and a curling iron. The bristles stay cool to the touch but inside, the barrel heats up.

      It can make your hair have volume or curls but I use it instead of my flat iron. I run it through my bed head or after I blow dry and my hair instantly looks straighter and shinier. It is quick and does not seem half as damaging as my flat iron is.  An added plus is that  it does not make my hair too flat or straight. It is also  great on bed head, a quick run through and I am ready to go.  Better than a regular brush, it definitely adds some shine.

    The Perfector Pro runs around $100 shipped at QVC and many girls I know would love this as a holiday gift! 

*This is not a paid blog post, just my community service for the week! 

Monday, September 1, 2014

Awe Shuckers, I am a sucker...

I have not been blogging much lately, so I hate for my infrequent writing to be of the negative kind. That being said, I feel that I must warn my South Florida readers about my terrible experience at the newly reopened Shuckers Waterfront Grill in North Bay Village.

Even if you have never been there, you may recall the terrifying deck collapse that this eatery experienced last summer.  This dive-bar with the million dollar view was a favorite among locals until June 2013. The outdoor deck was packed  people watching the Miami Heat play in the NBA  finals and it collapsed into the intracoastal. Luckily no one died (There were injuries)

Flash forward to a year later; Shuckers re-builds and reopens. I was excited to go back because they really do have a great view of a wide, gorgeous part of Biscayne Bay.

Unfortunately, my experience was horrible and I won't ever go back.  

My husband and I had been doing some home improvement for most of the day and we wanted a casual date night. Shuckers sounded like the perfect choice. We could sit outside, enjoy the last moments of daylight and enjoy a much deserved cold beer and some bar food. We were not in a rush or overly hungry. Just tired and looking to relax

We should have turned away as soon as we walked in and saw two separate groups of people throw their beeper things back at the hostess and walk out.  To make a long story short, despite having plenty of empty tables, we had to wait 15 minutes just to put our name on the waiting list. The hostess was yelling at another patron the whole time. Literally fighting with her.   

This "the customer is never right" attitude was also spotted during our wait when another patron was trying to get the manager to put her ice cream cake in the freezer (or even the refrigerator) while she was waiting for a table. Despite her bringing a large party in for a birthday celebration where they were sure to spend lots of money, the manager was yelling at her about not wanting to be responsible for her cake. He was not being nice about. He was being rude.

We finally gave our name and went over to the bar where we sort of muscled in and ordered two baby-sized, overpriced beers. I then saw patrons get up to leave a few seats down. I moved down there and the people around me said that the seats were free, as did one of the five bartenders behind the large bar.  We figured we could just order food and eat there as we saw other customers doing. 

Well, a female bartender was having none of that. She first told us, in a very sassy fashion that because we had a beeper thing from the hostess, that we could not order food at the bar. We explained that we would return the beeper and just eat at the bar. 

She then changed her story and said that she had customers in our seats and that they were coming back. We told her that we saw them leave and her  co-bartender verified this but she was just plain nasty. She said that we could sit there and order drinks but no food and that when her phantom customers returned, we would have to move.  And she said it in a fashion like she would beat us up if we did not listen to her.

I don't know about you, but I really don't like to get yelled at when I am spending money at a restaurant. We decided to leave. On the way out, I spotted the manager (the same one that was yelling about the ice cream cake). I calmly explained that I was leaving because the female bartender was rude to us and he just shrugged his shoulders.

Miami is filled with amazing restaurants, with chefs and owners that want you to patronize their establishments. Obviously Shucker's does not. It is too bad as they do have that view but I'd feel like a sucker if I ever go back to Shuckers ever again.

Friday, August 15, 2014

The end of summer...

    My calendar says that it is August 12th but summer is just about over around here. School starts here on August 18th. That is not a typo. August 18th. August is the armpit of the calendar here in the Sunshine state. From November to April, our weather is the envy of most of the rest of the nation. August, not so much. Yesterday the weather girl said that the "feels like" high would be 105 degrees. It is a sticky, muggy, buggy 105 degrees. I seriously don't know how people used to live down here without central air condition. It still feels like summer but summer is officially over tomorrow when we have to attend 9th grade orientation at the high school… Boo Hoo.

   In the meantime, I've been chilling in my AC and listing lots of interesting stuff in my two ebay stores.  Here are some of the more interesting things that my clients have given me lately.

I call this guy Winnie The Jew… He is a Hannukkah Bear…

Click here for details 

One of my clients has been clearing out her gorgeous MacKenzie Childs Collection. I'm not sure why, as each piece that she gives me is prettier than the next. This decanter is fabulous..
Click here for details

This little bowl is so pretty too….

click here for details

    These Gucci rain boots are so fabulous that if they were my size, I'd have to bid on them myself. Nothing makes a rainy day sunnier than Gucci!

Click here for details 

Have you bought anything great on eBay lately? I love to hear treasure hunting finds!

Friday, August 8, 2014

An update on my UPS saga...

   As you may recall, I had a bit of drama with UPS.  If you don't feel like going back and reading all that here is the brief recap:
      1. I sold this amazing retired piece of MacKenzie Childs pottery on eBay..

2. I shipped it via UPS and it arrived looking like this...

3. I had insured it using UPS's "insurance"
4. I tried to file an insurance claim and had trouble with this.
5. I called UPS and had horrible customer service.
6. I emailed and faxed UPS's top six executives complaining.
7. Shortly after doing this, someone from UPS's corporate office called me and promised to assist me with the claim.

Well, the buyer and I cooperated with UPS. We sent before and after photos of the item and the packaging. We arranged a time for them to go to the buyer's house to survey the damage.  Guess what happened? 

UPS denied the claim! 


The reason was that they claimed that the item was improperly packaged due to the fact that the 100 feet of bubble wrap that I used was of the tiny bubble variety and not the big bubbles! They just ignored the fact that the box looked like it was kicked down a hill when it arrived.

I emailed all six UPS  executives and my current contact, Scott. Here is the email:

I just received a denial of this claim. Needless to say, I am very upset. I used adequate cushioning and double boxed the package. All of this was done in accordance with UPS shipping guidelines. It is obvious that somewhere in the UPS chain this boxed was mishandled. 

My buyer (the recipient) and I fully co operated with the investigation of this claim. We provided photos, proof of value and allowed an inspection.

I would like to appeal this decision. Please advise as to how I can file an appeal. 

After reading online about how UPS denies just about every claim that is filed, I think that UPS is committing fraud. I paid for insurance. I packaged the box according to your own guidelines. I dropped it off in perfect condition at the UPS drop off point inside office depot. What more could I do?

If I am unable to appeal this decision, I will seek legal action and will contact the media. I wrote about this situation last week on my blog which gets 5000 hits per month. My story was already mentioned last weekend at a sales conference for small businesses in Dallas, Texas where 600 small business owners heard about how UPS gives poor customer service. I've also already posted my story on the ebay "seller central" forum. I was really hoping that I could follow up with a blog post explaining how UPS did the right thing and educate my readers about packaging techniques. I guess that this is not happening at this point. 

I feel that this is absolutely insurance fraud and that I have been the victim of a scam. I'm certain that I am not the only one and if this matter is not re-considered, I will be seeking other victims and will consider class action.

Please advise as to the appeals process. 

Well,  I never got answers to the questions in my email, however, UPS did reverse the decision and have now put my claim in line for payment.  Victory! 

I do have to say that my contact at UPS, Scott, was very professional and stayed on top of my case. I am really happy that UPS did the right thing but I'm still confused as to how UPS insurance works. I have reached out to UPS to ask them if they would like to be interviewed on the topic as I think that it would be useful to other sellers but as of yet, they have not responded.

I wish that I knew what to do in the future. Ship with UPS and hope for the best or look for alternates? Does anyone know? This was a long and exhausting ordeal over one (small for UPS) claim.  (big for me!)

  I just sold these
MacKenzie Childs canister Set

and this 

MacKenzie Childs Sugar pot

and really don't know how I am going to ship them. (Probably Post office)