Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Sorry that I've been too busy to blog very much this year.  I do appreciate you when you did read and comment when I actually blogged this year! It's been a great year here at Japolinaland. I am going to be counting my blessings at midnight tonight!

I gave up making New Year's Resolutions a few years ago when I realized that I sucked at keeping them but I think that I am going to write down some tonight that are very specific and can be accomplished. They will have to do with learning tai chi, practicing more patience and drinking more water.  There will be some fruit and vegetable increases in there also.  I'm also going to try to stop spending money on stupid stuff. 

Wish me luck!

Happy New Year! 

Love, Japolina

5 reasons why you should check out Ebay for your holiday shopping…

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

As most of my loyal readers know, I've been a powerseller on eBay since 2000. I have two eBay "stores" and over 10,000 positive feedback between the two.  I also love to buy on eBay.

Here are a few reasons why checking out eBay is always a good idea when you are shopping…

1. A lot of people are on eBay to make extra money, so deals are to be found: 

I started out on eBay because I had quit my job to take care of my kids when my live-in nanny went bonkers and I had major trust issues about leaving them with anyone for a while (I got over that). 

 I started selling my maternity clothes because I was sure that I was never going to ever have another baby because the two I had did not sleep.  I also sold all of my lawyer clothes because I decided that a lawyer who did not sleep was a bad idea. 

I wanted the stuff out of my house. I wanted some extra money. I was not trying to get rich. My stuff was reasonably priced and sold instantly. When I explained what I was doing to the moms on the playground, they started showing up at pre-school carpool with bags of their own stuff. A little business was born.

My point is that many sellers on eBay are not trying to get full retail value for their stuff. They just want it out of their homes and to make a little spare change while decluttering. This means that there are great values out there.

Yes, many eBay sellers are regular businesses who need to sell at a certain price. But others are about to donate these $500 + Roberto Cavalli boots to Goodwill but figure that if they get a few bucks, that is even better. 

2. There are things on eBay that are not found anywhere else on the internet:

Ever find a pair of jeans or a lipstick color that you adore and realize that the manufacturer had discontinued it? I have and have also found that I can often replace it with a new pair or tube on Ebay.  It is the best for that.

3. There are tons of new things on eBay it is not just an online junkyard

Not only do major retailers have eBay stores these days, many sellers like me get new things to sell. Many items have the "buy it now" option so you don't have to bid on an auction and wait to see if you get it.

4. You are protected if you get burned.

Ebay has a buyer protection program. If you get something that is not as described or fake, just let eBay know. You won't get burned. Trust me, 99% of things that I have purchased on eBay are excellent but I have had a few small issues that were easily resolved. 

5. eBay is super fun. 
If you love to shop, you should shop on eBay. There are so many funny and fun things being sold there. Some unique ones. Some silly ones. Some things that you never even knew that you needed.  It is like the Skymall catalog on steroids.

Here are a few examples…

Vintage Moroccan Pearl Necklace

Christmas Garfield from 1981!

A cradle for your precious baby vodka!

Another Life-Changing Tip courtesy of Japolina...

Monday, November 24, 2014

I think that this tip may be more life-changing than my COSTCO tip  that I posted a few weeks ago.

If you shop at Publix are you aware that you can order your sliced deli meats and subs ahead of time? You just download the app or go to Publix.com and  fill out the form as to what you want and it is waiting for you at the deli. You don't even have to ask for it, they have a spot where you just walk up and grab it.  This is life-changing to moms on the go and saves at least 5-10 minutes off of my weekly shopping trip.  

You can thank me with sliced cheese.

As a side note, when my children were infants, Publix tried a delivery service. You would just order online and they would deliver it within a two hour time frame that you chose. It saved my sanity during those early years. Publix stopped the service but how I wish they would start it up again! 

My favorite new site...

Thursday, November 20, 2014

One of the good hings about getting older is that you know what looks good on you and what does not.  I know what style dresses that I like but it is not always that easy to find them.  This is why I wore the same cocktail dress to at least 15 Bar Mitzvahs before I had to retire it but that is another sad story for another day.

That is why I was excited when Eshatki.com contacted me and asked if I would be interested in customizing a dress that they would then send to me for free! How could I say "No" especially when they made this offer with no strings attached. They said that they would send me the dress that I chose and customized and if I liked it, I could blog about it but there was no obligation.

Eshatki looks like a regular clothing site but you can customize any of the clothing. You chose the garment that you want and enter your measurements and they make it for you! In addition you can add sleeves, etc

I chose this mullet/hi lo dress.  I put in my measurements which I took by myself with a tape measure and it showed up within 10 days. 
High-low hem stretch crepe maxi dress

It fits perfectly and is really cute.  The best part, under a 100 bucks! A true bargain. I promise you, it is really cute and looks great on! I wore it for my 20th anniversary (I'll blog about that soon!) I will defintely be ordering from them again.

Disclosure: Sometimes companies send me free stuff. If I like it, I'll tell you. If I don't like it, I'll either tell you or won't blog about it. I always tell the truth and I will never sell outt. Eshatki sent me a free dress with no strings attached. I promise you that if I did not like it, I would have not have blogged about it. Trust me, this happened recently with a company that sent me some flowers for free and wanted me to blog about it. It was a horrible experience so I did not blog about it. I only tell the truth her at Japolina! 

We are now those parents..

Monday, November 10, 2014

  I was having dinner with a bloggy friend of mine, Rachel of Silverunpolished.com , last week. I've known her since I was a million months pregnant with my first son. Her kids are 7 & 9. Mine are almost 15 & 17.  We have much in common in terms of mothering such as our agreement that sleepaway camp is mandatory and that toothpaste in the sink left by children is very annoying. However, we are worlds apart when it comes to how our kids feel about us.  Her cute boys love when she talks about them in her blog.

  On the other hand, my boys have reached the point where my husband and I are completely embarrassing to them. Not just in public but on the world wide web too.  I'm not allowed mention them in my Blog, Facebook, Instagram or Twitter posts. (They won't show me how to use snapchat) In fact, the mention of the toothpaste in the sink above may get me yelled at   after school today.

   A few days ago, at 5:45 a.m.,  my husband and I were goofing around while we were both making breakfast for the kids (yes high school starts disgustingly early around these parts). We had these funny tabasco things left over from a Houseparty.com Tabasco party that I was selected to host and we were just being silly.  I posted on Instagram because we look exhausted and ugly and stupid. 
Photo has been disguised to protect our children from further humiliation

   During the school day, I got this first text from one of my children   "I think that your instagram is inappropriate and that you should take it down"  I ignored as I do not think that texting this during school is appropriate either. 

   Later that day my other son explained that one of his friends was making fun of our instagram to all of their other friends. He was mortified that I had accepted a follow request from one of his friends and by our ridiculous photos. I responded by telling him that his friends were just jealous that his parents were so fun, especially at 5:45 a.m. I added that he was lucky that his parents even get up and make breakfast (and school lunches) at that ungodly hour. I'm certain that some other mothers don't even get out of bed and just let the kids fend for themselves. I also blocked the kid.

    When did we go from being cool to being totally embarrassing? Were we always totally embarrassing but the kids did not know it? We were ever cool? Thoughts? I'd love to hear them. 

GIVEAWAY!!! Free Blu-Ray/DVD of Beethoven's Treasure Tail!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Universal Studios Home Entertainment is getting ready to release a fun kid's movie on Blu-ray/DVD on October 28th and one of my lucky readers can win a copy! How exciting! This will make a great holiday gift  (if you can wait that long to actually watch it! The film is called Beethoven's Treasure Tail and stars that adorable St. Bernard!

All you have to do is leave a comment below! That is it. Could not be any easier. A winner will be chosen on October 27th by a good old-fashioned name in the hat pull so make sure you leave your name below! Universal will Fed ex you a copy directly! (US addresses only)

Get ready to howl with laughter in this all-new family comedy starring America’s favorite St. Bernard, the one and only Beethoven! After a doggone disaster of a movie shoot, the big-hearted pooch and his trainer, Eddie (Jonathan Silverman, Beethoven’s Big Break), are heading home when they get stranded in a small coastal village. When Beethoven befriends a local boy (Bretton Manley, Ted), he helps him find a pirate map to lost treasure and together they em-bark on an adventure that brings the whole town together. Co-starring Morgan Fairchild (Flamingo Road), Kristy Swanson (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), and Jeffrey Combs (Re-Animator), it’s a heartwarming “tail” about finding fun wherever your nose leads you.

Don't forget, leave a comment below by 5p.m. EST on October 27th!

Tell your friends! 

A trick for Costco Shoppers....

Sunday, October 19, 2014


     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!

Letting them be Pizza

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

       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?

What do I do with my Wedding Dress???

Saturday, October 11, 2014

         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! 

Never underestimate the power of a good hair day….

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

     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! 

The end of summer...

Friday, August 15, 2014

    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!

An update on my UPS saga...

Friday, August 8, 2014

   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)

My voyage on the largest Cruise Ship in the World...

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

     Life happens. As it turned out, my sweet husband and I had not been away alone for more than one or two nights in three years. Three years! I could not believe it.  We are approaching 20 years of marriage (23 together) and we needed to get away.  Luckily, the stars aligned this summer. He had vacation time and the boys had plans to be out of town (camp, teen tour) so I started to plan something.

    My husband has been flying a lot for business this year and he just wanted to hang out and relax. I had a tough year too, so relaxing and doing a lot of nothing seemed to fit the bill right now.  We did not want to break the bank (teenagers + summer = expensive). We looked into resorts in Florida and the Caribbean which were overpriced considering the fact that the summer weather here is either rainy and/or crazy humid & hot.  We decided to look at cruises.

     Living in South Florida means that we have been on a lot of cruises. They are easy for us. Just drive up and sail away.   I researched all cruises that were leaving out of South Florida during July.  I ended up waiting until the last minute to book  but was still lucky enough to get a great deal on Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas.

    I wondered,  "Could I have a romantic and relaxing vacation with my husband on a ship with over 6300 other passengers? "

     Yes, you read that right. During our sailing, there were 6311 passengers of all ages and from 71 different countries. The Allure of the Seas is the world's largest cruise ship. It is 220 feet high. It looks like a building when docked. We had sailed on Allure's sister ship, Oasis of the Seas with the kids and had a great time so we knew that the ship was nice but we were concerned that perhaps this giant floating resort might not be the most relaxing choice but we booked it anyway.

   Luckily our concerns were unfounded. Royal Caribbean has figured out a way to sail with all of those people and have so many different things going on that the ship never feels crowded. I am serious. They are able to load and unload all of those people, feed them, entertain them and house them and it seriously feels less crowded than on smaller ships with a third of the passengers!

    The Allure of the Seas is an amazing vessel. It is truly a five star resort at sea. It has an ice skating rink, two surfing machines (Flowriders), two rock climbing walls, a mini Atlantic City boardwalk complete with a carousel and 25 different places to eat onboard. The food choices range from hot dogs and burgers to full-out gourmet specialty restaurants including one with a menu from famed Miami Chef Michael Schwartz of Michael's Genuine. 

There is a mall in the middle of the ship which not only houses shopping venues, but also serves as an activity hub of bars, snacks and parades.  My favorite bar onboard (and I visited most of them) was the Rising Tide. This little bar is a ride. You get on it, get a drink and it rises two stories to Central Park. Central park is a garden in the middle of the ship which houses a Brito art Gallery and several food venues.

Rising tide bar!
   The entertainment onboard is not like the cruises of years past. Yes, they still have some of those funny passenger contests like Belly Flops and the Newlywed Game, but there is a dive show onboard that rivals anything that you will see in Vegas. There is a comedy club, a jazz club, a latin dance bar and more. Seriously, there was too much to do.
    Yes, we were able to relax. Our balcony cabin had delightful views all week. Even though we live in paradise, there is something magical about looking out at an open sea for a week.  We slept (a lot). We ate and drank (a lot). We relaxed. We hung out.  We were able to have the vacation that we wanted which was perfect.

    We were able to purchase a few hours of wifi onboard to check on the kids but were 99% unplugged all week. No texts, no calls, no internet. This is the bonus of cruising. It's amazing to realize how much time we spend with our phones, iPads and computers. It was really nice to sit through a dinner without a phone buzzing.

   After seven days, we felt relaxed and reconnected. As the summer winds down (school starts in less than two weeks!), I think that we made the right vacation choice.

 Diet cokes in Mexico have Spanish names!

What did I buy at Bed Bath & Beyond?

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Bed Bath & Beyond is one of those danger zones for me.  The one that is less than a mile from my home is gigantic, well-staffed and has a million different things that you can buy.

They have:
- amazing bedding
- fluffy towels in every single color that you can imagine
-an outragous selection of kitchen & dining products
-a full sundry store
- travel gear
-organizing stuff
and a ton of tiny little things that I often throw into my basket that seem to pad the bill

I went in for one boring thing today and given that it is summer time, I leisurely strolled through just about every aisle.  Here are some of the interesting things that I came across. Can you guess which one that I actually bought?

1. Diguise Push Pins ($5.99)
These little things allow you to pin a hat, mustache, sunglasses or lips over any photo that is on a cork board. How fun!

Did I buy them? Of course not.
Why not? I think that my six dollars could be better spent on something else.

2. Solemates High Heelers ($9.99)
Someone is a genius. You put these little things grip the bottoms of your heels to prevent them from sinking into the grass as a wedding or other outdoor event. So clever!

Did I Buy them? No.
Why not? I don't have any outdoor events scheduled where heels will be worn. This is probably because it is a 100 degrees here in SoFla and one breaks into a total sweat while walking from target to your car in the parking lot.

3. The Phone Fetcher ($9.99)
I carry large handbags and can never find my phone when it rings. I'm forever digging though like a maniac much to the annoyance of my loved ones.  This little thing is a problem solver for sure. You clip one end on the strap of your bag and plug the other one into the little headphone jack of your phone. When it rings, you will be able to locate your phone quickly by following the little bungee cord.

 Did I buy it?: No
Why Not? : I actually considered it for a minute but I realized that i don't even put my coins in the coin section of my wallet. I just throw them into the bottom of my purse,  so what makes me think that I would be organized enough to remember to put my phone on the leash every time? I also thought that my friends and family would make fun of me if I did actually use it. It seems very old-ladyish. (Yikes!) I was also worried that the clip would damage the handles of my precious leather babies.  

Camisole hangers ($7.99 for pack of three)

These are clever little hangers for hanging tank tops. I have a lot of tank tops and I hang them in the closet (vs. putting them in drawers) so I thought this would free up some room.

 Did I buy them? Yes
Will I return them? Probably not. They are really, really cheap feeling but I hung them up and put my tanks on them and it seems to be working. I will update in a week or so to see if this was a good purchase.

My UPS saga...

Friday, July 11, 2014

I sold this stunning retired piece by Mackenzie Childs on ebay last week

I spent over $20 on bubble wrap and sturdy cardboard boxes to prepare it for shipping. I wrapped it better than a museum curator would wrap a priceless artifact for a trip across the ocean. I taped it like a mad woman and double boxed it.   In fact, there was so much packaging involved it cost over $35 to ship it via UPS ground from Miami to New Jersey. I, of course, insured the package with UPS.

Imagine my horror when the buyer contacted me to say that the package arrived with the side of the box smushed in and this is what was inside….

Had I just thrown it into a box with some newspapers and hoped for the best, I would have just refunded her money and moved on, but there is absolutely no way that this gorgeous piece could have been destroyed like this unless the box was either opened in transit or handled roughly.

I immediately filed an insurance claim with UPS.  Before I could even upload photos or proof of the value of the item, they sent me an email stating that they would go to the buyer's house to inspect the package.  I emailed UPS and asked how to upload the photos and the valuation papers. They sent me back a form email.

I don't use UPS to ship a lot and I don't ever recall filing a claim for damage with them. I wanted to make sure that they had everything that they needed to process this obviously valid insurance claim quickly. I called the UPS customer service line. After going through one of those irritating long menus where you have to talk to a computer who never understands what you are saying, I was put on hold to wait for the "broken package " department or whatever UPS likes to call it. 

While I was on hold (which was  quite a long time) I googled something like "How to file a UPS insurance claim" and realized that A LOT of people have these claims denied. Like a lot, a lot.  This made me concerned. Once I finally spoke to the  customer service rep, he seemed to want to rush me off of the phone and pretty  much said that they would be by the buyer's home sometime on Monday to view the package and that they did not need any more information.

I asked to speak to a supervisor. The lawyer in me wanted to make sure that the photos and proof of value were attached to my claim. The customer service rep started to argue with me a little bit. "Why do you want to speak to a supervisor?" was his lovely response.  He put me on hold for 8 minutes and then I mysteriously got disconnected.

I called the 800 number back. Went though the whole menu thing again and after being on hold for at least five more minutes, (these minutes were spent googling  "class actions against UPS for insurance fraud" and "taking UPS to court over insurance claims") I finally reached another customer service rep. I explained to her that I was on hold for a supervisor over an insurance claim and I wanted to be connected to a supervisor.  She started to ask why I wanted to be connected to a supervisor. 

 I explained that I had already wasted at least 30 minutes of my precious summer day on the phone with UPS and I wanted to speak to a supervisor. She refused to connect me to one unless I told her the whole story again. I was having none of it. I asked for a fax number for the customer service department as I already was drafting a letter. She flat out refused to give me a fax number. She insisted that UPS did not have one.  While I was fighting with her, I started a live chat with UPS and the person/computer chatting with me in a box on the side of my screen also insisted that there was not a fax number for anyone at UPS.

Let me digress here. I was asking for a fax number because in my history as a lawyer and excellent letter-writer, I've found that emails don't always get read. A paper copy or a fax is always a better way to start a paper trail.  

At this point I was not only upset about the loss of the lovely $350 plate, but at this horrible treatment from UPS, which I now refer to as the "House of No". I googled "UPS fax number" and finally found one. I also found the email addressees of six of the top executives in the company.

I wrote and faxed a letter explaining the situation and the horrible customer service that I received to the COO of UPS . I copied it via email to all of the executives at UPS and wouldn't you know it,within three hours,  I received a phone call from a delightful man named Scott from UPS who is now working on my case.

Stay tuned. Will UPS do the right thing and pay the claim so that the buyer can go off and search for another fabulous piece of Mackenzie Childs pottery? OR will UPS make me toss off my summer sandals and put on my uncomfortable lawyer shoes ? 

Let's hope for my feet that UPS does  the right thing. I will be sure to keep you updated. 

A creative use for Bike Sharing….

Thursday, July 3, 2014

   While other countries have been doing it for a while(there are 20,000 available bikes in Paris!), Bike Sharing is a relatively new concept popping up in cities across the US. It basically is the short term rental of a bike. The idea is to allow people to get from point "A" to point "B" without having to worry about owning or storing a bike.  In many cities, people use these systems to tour around a city or to get from a train or a bus to work. 

   I've been using Bike Sharing in a more creative fashion,  I use it as my workout tool. My bike sharing card is like my gym card.  For $45 a year, I can rent a bike for 30 minutes a day. If I go over the 30 minutes (which I usually do) it is another $1 per 1/2 hour.  Way cheaper than any workout classes or gyms around Miami for sure.   The place that I go is the Hollywood Beach. The bike path that I ride on is 7 miles round trip, next to the Atlantic Ocean, car-free  and most of it has the million dollar view like this shot taken at 7 a.m. this morning....

I love that I don't have to worry about maintaining a bike. I don't have to put a bike rack on my car to start to ride. I don't have to worry about my bike being stolen.  I just drive up and hop on.

When I started this over a year ago, I just rode without a plan. Now I use an iPhone ap called "Seconds Pro". It is a high intensity interval training program. In normal-person terms, it means that it plays different pre-determined songs and tells me when to go slow or fast. It is a suggested way of burning calories quickly and making your heart healthy. It is hard but fun. 

I am not a person who loves working out. It was always a chore for me. I've been riding for over a year now and  I wake up and  jump out of bed, excited to go at least three or four times a week. I ride with a smile on my face as the beach is always stunning and gorgeous. I get some good thinking done during my rides and get great exercise. I am cranky when I can't go. 

Bike sharing is super easy. The one that I use is called B-Cycle. They have an ap and you can see where there are available bikes near you.   I got the last one today...

I have a card so I just walk up and place it over the sensor. The green light goes on and I just pull the bike out and off I go!

The bike that I rent has a generous sized basket that fits my giant tote. No need to fanny-pack it!

Here is a shot of some additional bikes in the area.

This is the start of my 7 mile journey. 

 Here is the machine that you go up to if you don't have a membership.  It is $5 per half hour to rent a bike here. Not bad if you want to try it out or bring a friend. There are three or four stations in the area so you could drop off the bike at another part of the beach if you are just using it for transportation.

It takes about one minute to check out a bike if you're not a member. Just swipe your card and you're good to go.  You can only check out two bikes per credit card so if you are taking the whole crew, bring more than one card!


Also, helmets are not provided so you should really bring your own. Especially if you are traveling in areas where there is traffic.  


FREE GIVEAWAY Courtesy of Fresh Produce...

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Fresh Produce  has sent me an awesome t-shirt to give away. It is an adorable number and is one size fits all so all of you can try to win. All you have to do is leave a comment.  That is it!  I will pick a winner by drawing out of a hat on Sunday night so you have a few days to enter.

Fresh Produce is celebrating 30 years! If you have not checked out Fresh Produce lately, you should. It is not your grandma's store anymore. They have really cute summer looks! See??

To show appreciation for its customers, Fresh Produce Stores are hosting a party inside their stores all weekend. They will give away stuff including a girl's weekend and much more. Your invite is below.

My local Fresh Produce store is in Ft. Lauderdale. Here is the info on their party this weekend…

What: Fresh Produce 30th Birthday
When: Sat., June 28 – Mon., June 30
Where: Fresh Produce Ft. Lauderdale
912 E Las Olas Blvd
Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33301

Check out your local store or Fresh Produce online if you can't make it to the Ft. Lauderdale party!

Thanks Fresh Produce for hosting this giveaway. My readers and I loooove free stuff!~ 

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