Sunday, December 14, 2008

How to Find the Best Deals Online

Online shopping is becoming more popular and easier every day.  So, how to find the best deals?  It's pretty simple.  There are several websites that are devoted to helping you find the best online deals.

Here are the top five sites with blurbs about each site straight from their own "About Us" pages:

Slickdeals.net
"The most frequently updated and complete deal site on the web! We provide you with the day's hottest deals every day. We also have over 800 coupons for all your favorite online stores. Browse around and you're bound to save more than a few bucks!"


Dealsplus (dealspl.us)
"DealsPlus is an online social shopping website that offers a unique setting for users to share deals, coupons, shopping tips, and organize their shopping lists. DealsPlus is socially-driven, which means the best deals are hand-picked by our users."

Dealnews.com
"Every day, dealnews brings you the best deals available on the hottest items on the Internet. We scour over 2,000 online retailers and tens of thousands of deals to deliver the best 100+ deals each and every day — the kinds of deals you'd normally only see on Black Friday. We verify that each deal is valid, the lowest total price we could find, and from a reputable retailer. Then and only then do we post it for you. We take getting a bargain seriously, and then share what we find with you."


Fatwallet.com
"Tim Storm launched FatWallet.com in 1999, simply as one page, listing coupons for a handful of retailers. With the addition of a Hot Deals forum, FatWallet.com became a community of savvy shoppers. As this community grew, Storm recognized the members as the pulse of not only FatWallet.com but also the evolving marketplace.
Since its launch, FatWallet.com has grown to include over 800 merchant partners. FatWallet.com earns commissions on purchases members make through our Cash Back eligible merchants and we share part of our commission with the member. Why? Because when we share, we win!"


Pricegrabber.com
"At PriceGrabber.com, savvy shoppers can instantly find and compare millions of unique products and services contained in 25 channels, such as Clothing, Babies & Kids, Books & Magazines, Cell Phones, Plans & Accessories, Computers, TV's, Furniture and Cameras. The website also offers shoppers the ability to view and compare over thousands of merchants and sellers and their respective pricing information for products and services, thereby enabling users to ultimately find the right product from the right merchant at the best price."

If you are going to buy this stuff new and online... then, for goodness sakes, at least get the BEST price possible!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

4-Star Restaurant Food at Fast Food Prices

I just made the greatest discovery - cooking schools have little restaurants where they sell the food they make each day!  Hey, this is amazing.

Cooking schools teach people to make all that fancy stuff that gets served in 4-star restaurants.  At the 4-star restaurant, you will pay about 4 times as much money as you will at the school restaurant.

Yes, it is true that the ambiance at the school cafeteria/restaurant is probably not the same as the 4-star restaurant, but when you are dining with a six and a ten year old... ambiance is NOT the most important thing.

Today, I got homemade (yes, from SCRATCH) mushroom soup - it was delicious - and tri-tip with sauteed mushrooms and some fancy thing on top and PERFECT veggies and PERFECT twice baked potatoes and a drink.  It cost less than a sandwich meal at Subway.

True, the entire item was served on styrofoam in the student cafeteria of the local community college, but I would be hard pressed to tell you when I had eaten a better meal.

I am hooked!  Now, I am going to search out cooking schools wherever I go.

Take note that a lot of the schools may not serve at dinner time. Being a school, they may serve at lunch.  Each school is different and you have to call and ask.

Here are a few places to start your search for cooking schools with restaurants in your area:

CookingSchools.com is a site where you can find cooking schools all over the world.

Contact your local community college and ask them if they have a cooking school restaurant.

And if you happen to live near Pasadena, California, you might check out Bistro 561 - This is a restaurant that I have been dying to go to and now I have an excuse.  This isn't a super cheap restaurant (checkout the menu) but it is WAY cheaper than you will be paying once these chefs get their real jobs.  Also, I think that the ambiance at this restaurant will be pretty good.  I'll let you know.  They also have a tasting menu every Thursday and Friday. Per their website: "California School of Culinary Arts opened teaching Restaurant 561 to the public in February 2000, giving patrons a unique opportunity to dine within the classroom and experience firsthand the passion and creativity of tomorrow's culinary talent as students take the final step in their Le Cordon Bleu education."  Ooooh... doesn't that sound just divine?

No more fast food for my bargain hunting friends -  Bon Appetit!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Black Friday Online Ads - shop online or pre-shop

If you are going to take advantage of some of the deep discount sales on Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving and possibly the biggest sale day of the year rivaled only by the day after Christmas), then here are three sites that will help you snag the biggest bargains.

bfads.net
black-friday.net
blackfriday.gottadeal.com

These sites, devoted to Black Friday sales, are there to help you prepare for the best sale day of the year.  Of course, the sites are worth their virtual weight in gold, the day before Black Friday. You can use the links to sales flyers to help you map out your shopping route.  Remember, you will most likely get your best bargains at the first store you go to, so you must prioritize.

Typically, the very best deep discounts occur early in the morning.  There are usually a very limited number of the deep discount items on hand and once they are sold out, there are no more.  So, if you see a REALLY sweet deal that you just HAVE to have.. consider camping out in front of the store (WHAT?  Bobbi, are you CRAZY?) or grabbing some Starbucks and standing in line a couple of hours before the store opens (usually around 6:00 am).

I spoke to the Manager of our local Staples to get his view on how Black Friday usually rolls out. He told me that normally, when he gets to the store, one hour before the opening, there are already at least 25 people in line.  That gives you an idea.  He also told me that for the best sale item for the Black Friday Sale - a very low priced laptop - he had only 6 in stock to be sold.  So, you do the math.

Alright, all you bargain shoppers... ready, set, bargain hunt!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Free Dr. Pepper for everyone in America - November 23rd, 2008

Direct from the Associated Press - LOS ANGELES – Dr Pepper is making good on its promise of free soda now that the release of  Guns N' Roses' "Chinese Democracy" is a reality. The soft-drink maker said in March that it would give a free soda to everyone in America if the album dropped in 2008. "Chinese
Democracy," infamously delayed since recording began in 1994, goes on sale Sunday.

"We never thought this day would come," Tony Jacobs, Dr Pepper's vice president of
marketing, said in a statement. "But now that it's here, all we can say is: The Dr Pepper's on
us."

Beginning Sunday (November 23rd) at 12:01 a.m., coupons for a free 20-ounce soda will be available for 24
hours on Dr Pepper's Web site. They'll be honored until Feb. 28. Dr Pepper is owned by Dr Pepper Snapple Group, Inc.

So.... this means... YES... they WILL make good on their promise, but you have to grab your coupon within the 24 hour period.  Mark your calendars, set your alarms so you don't forget to go to drpepper.com on Sunday, November 23rd, 2008 and grab your coupon for a free Pepper.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Create a Compact Calendar

 A compact calendar?  What the heck is that?  A helpful little calendar that you can tape to the side of your monitor or other convenient spot so that you very easily check on dates.  Yes, I know... THAT is what a calendar is, Bobbi.  But this little strip of paper taped to the side of my monitor has just been very useful.

My 2008 calendar was designed by David Seah and was meant to help you track projects over time.  You can read more about the original calendar here.

Now, Yoshiomi Kurisu has created an Online Compact Calendar Generator based on the David's original design.  Pretty slick.  You can make a calendar up to 2020 with the Holidays indicated.

Playing with Yoshiomi Kurisu's site is fun... I do like David Seah's version better.  He has expanded his calendar templates to include many countries - perhaps even yours.

So, toss out your cute little kitten calendar and get yourself a nifty compact calendar.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Keep Rocking: 30+ Sites for Free Legal Music

I'm kind of backward when it comes to music. I am especially backward when it comes to listening to digital music. So, when my daughter decided that she HAD to finally (please, mommy, please, please, please, I am tired of living in the dark ages) get an MP3 player... I had to figure out how to legally get music for the darn thing without it costing a fortune.

Thankfully, someone else has already done the work for me and I am passing this on to you.

Happy listening.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Resnooze - email reminder service

Have you even been at a website and wanted to spend more time reading it but couldn't just then? So, you (1) bookmark the site, or (2) you write it on some scrap piece of paper or even (3) copy the address to a list of "sites I need to revisit." Well, I've never once revisited any of those sites.

How's this? You are a blogger and you get a great idea for a blog entry. So, you do the three steps above. This still hasn't worked.

Or... you have something REALLY important that you need to do. Like find a dentist to take out your son's wisdom teeth (true) and you just keep managing to "forget" to do the dirty deed.

Salvation has arrived in the form of a super simple site called, "Resnooze." Resnooze lets you send yourself reminders. You can receive your reminders daily, weekly, or monthly. Super, super simple and yet effective.

Here is a demo of how the site works:


I have found this site extremely helpful. Hey, I reminded myself to blog about Resnooze and I finally did it. So, it works.

Free Directory Assistance (for business numbers)

I've already written about a way to get free directory assistance and driving instructions, but here is another one worth checking out: 1-800-GOOG-411. Brought to us from our friends at Google. This is not a new service, but one that could help you out when you need to find a shoe maker to fix your high heel that you broke on the way to the Academy Awards.

Check out the video. For specific info, go to the 1-800-GOO-411 site.



Thanks to Nancy for reminding me of this money saving tip.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Hey It's Free - a worthy freebie site

I used to do a lot of freebies - especially when my kids were little. It was fun to get little freebie toys that they would enjoy. However, now, most of the freebies and the freebie sites that I find just don't seem to be worth it and seem too spammy.

Enter... Hey its free ... a new and wonderful freebie site. The owner of the site says, "I spend my days looking for 100% legit, non-spammy freebies."  Sounds good to me.

Check it out.  Right now they are running the links to some delicious looking free chocolates, free k'nex and free bowling.  Looks like I have found a source for this year's stocking stuffers.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Service your Heating System to Save Money

My husband, the HVAC (HEATING, ventilation and air conditioning) expert.... wanted me to remind you all, that your heating systems need to be serviced in order to cut down on your energy cost and keep your system running effectively when you need it. With the cost of energy rising, you want to make your home as energy efficient as possible.

A heating system that is in need of service will not only leave you cold when you need heat, but will be costing you more to run.

A typical heating system service call would include:

* Cleaning the blower motor and fan section

If the blower motor is dirty, it will tend to overheat and burn up, making your system non-operational and costly to fix.

If the fan blades are dirty, they won't move the proper volume of air, thus not heating your home sufficiently and costing you more to operate.

* Checking electrical connections

If your electrical connections are loose or faulty, they could end up disconnecting (at the worst time, of course) and render your system inoperable.

* Checking burner operation or heat pump operation:

- In a gas-fired furnace, that would mean checking the condition of the heat exchanger and the condition of the burner.

Checking the integrity of the heat exchanger in a gas fired system is important. If it is not intact, it is dangerous because combustion fumes will be entering the house. At the very least this could cause headaches, at the very worst, it could cause an explosion.

- In a heat pump system, that would mean checking that the reversing valve is operating correctly.

If the reversing valve doesn't operate it will be stuck in one position – either in heating or in cooling, thus possibly creating expensive damage to the air conditioning system by causing compressor failure.

The filter should be cleaned or replaced at this time of year. Most service technicians do not carry filters on their trucks since there are so many different sizes. However, a nice service technician would probably change the filter for you if you had one on hand at the time of servicing. You can find the location of your heating system filter in the manual for your system. Then you can look at the filter to find the size. If you no longer have the manual, many manufacturers have the manuals available for download online at their websites. You just need the make and model number of your system to find the manual.

Of course, it goes without saying that it is better to get this service done now, while it is still mild weather and your heating system is not a necessity. Waiting until it is cold and you absolutely need your heating system to work is not wise.

OK…. I’ve done my duty and told you.

Free Admission to Disneyland or Disney World on your Birthday

Going to Disneyland or Disney World is far from cheap. But this year, on your birthday, if you register in advance on their site, you can get a free day pass to Disneyland or Disney World.  Hey, this is a pretty good present, as a day pass costs $69.

If you are already an annual ticket member, and you go to the park on your birthday, you can get a present of equal value.  (a merchandize gift card, a special fast pass, or a pass to be used later in the year.)

This offer is ONLY good on your birthday.

Make sure you read my (soon to be written blog) on how the Bargain Queen saves money on her trip to Disney.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Freedom to Vote - Priceless - Register to Vote

We live on a country were we have the freedom to vote.  But, if you don't use your freedoms, you lose them.  It costs nothing to use your freedoms.  You don't have enough money to get them back once lost.

Check out this very cool video re REGISTERING TO VOTE.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0vtHwWReGU0

It's well worth your time.

Or if you're not registered then go to the second site listed.

Don't procrastinate.  Do it now! 

register on line at:   www.maps.google.com/vote
 

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Calculate gas cost for your road trip

Thinking of going to visit your sister who lives several states away, but wondering how much it will cost in gas to get there?  That is just a lot of math - whew!  Get out the calculator, or.... go to www.costtodrive.com.

This is a simple and fun site that will do just that... figure out the cost (in gas) to drive from point A to point B in your make and model car.  Doesn't have all the models and only goes as far back as 1999 (guess they figure you shouldn't go on a long trip with a car older than that), but you can get a rough idea.

Check it out.  Maybe it costs less than you thought to go visit your sister.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Woot.com - one ultra-sale item daily

How could it be that I have never heard of Woot.com?  Thanks to Julia Scott from the LA Daily News, reporter and bargain blogger - blogs.dailynews.com/bargain - for letting me know about this one.  Whew!  I almost missed knowing about a very cool bargain site.

So, what is Woot.com?  Well, per their website: "Woot.com is an online store and community that focuses on selling cool stuff cheap."  Sounds like my kind of site.

However, there is a wonderful little catch. From their site: "We sell one item per day until it is sold out or until 11:59pm central time when it is replaced. We offer a new item every single day. The details: a new product is released every morning at 12am central time, seven days a week. (If you're not a morning person, this can be described as every night at midnight. Better?) If a product sells out during its run, a new item will not appear until the next release time. You will know if a product is sold out, because the main page says "SOLD OUT" instead of "I want one". (Clever, eh?)"

There IS a warning that goes with this site.  They will probably have a great deal on something that you don't actually need.  A bargain isn't really a bargain if you didn't need it.  Be forwarded.
 

How to navigate by the stars

Here's a quick and easy.... gee, I always wanted to know that.

How to navigate by the stars. A two minute online video at Tinkernut.com.

Find and Report Speed Traps

I remember driving on the Pennsylvania Turnpike with my father, many long years ago, and noticing that some drivers were blinking their headlights at us.  I asked my father about this and he said that blinking your lights was a way to tell other drivers that there was a speed trap (police just a-waiting for you to speed passed them and then give you a speeding ticket) up ahead.

I thought this was soooo cool.  A magic signal for drivers to communicate to each other.

As we all know, the times they are a-changing.  But, drivers STILL want to communicate with each other and let them know about speed traps.  Enter Trapster.com.  A way for drivers to let other drivers know about speed traps.

Trapster has been around for awhile, but it seems that they have added some cool, high tech ways of sending exact locations of traps in real time via your phone.  They even have a little video to show you how it works.

This is a free service.  You do need to register.

Oh, another cool thing about this site... it is INTERNATIONAL!  You can see where the speed traps are in Paris or Melbourne.  Admittedly, the information is much more thorough in the states, but it IS fun to know there are speed traps around the world.

Enjoy this one.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Free Shipping Coupons and Coupon Codes - how to find it and how to get it

Love online shopping, but hate paying for the shipping?  Guess a bunch of other people felt this way too and made a website called, FreeShipping.org.

A lot of the "big guys" like Gap, Nordstroms, Sierra Trading Company, Best Buy and Target are there.  But so are the "little guys" like Joffrey’s Coffee & Tea Company, Crock Pot, Half Price Costumes, Hobby Tron, and Yes Asia.

Some of these are totally free shipping, but a lot of them seem to be free shipping with a minimum order.... but, if you are going to buy anyway, might as well get the free shipping.

Don't miss the blog.  There is LOTS of cool stuff on the blog.  Also coupons.  A site worth checking out if you are an online shopper.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

How to Buy a Used Laptop

Need a new laptop but don't have the moola to waltz on down to the local computer store and get a brand-spanking-new, top-of-the-line, latest-and-greatest model?  Fear not.  You can still get yourself a great laptop at a bargain price.  You just have to learn how to tell a deal from a dud.

Having just gone through the agony and the ecstasy of researching and buying a used laptop, I wanted to share an article that I found entitled, "10-Step Guide to Buying a Used Laptop that Works" written by Alex Felsinger.

I can vouch for the accuracy of this article.  I only wish that I had read it prior to my recent purchase.  It would have made it easier for me.  Do what Alex has laid out for you to do, and you should end up with a good deal and a working laptop.

Happy Hunting.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Swap O Rama Rama - Los Angeles - November 16, 2008


Oh joy of joys.... another Swap O Rama Rama date in the Los Angeles area has been announced.

Get out your calendar.  Make a big red circle around the date of November 16, 2008 and don't plan ANYTHING ELSE for that day!  This is one of the greatest events for a Bargain Queen (or King) in Training (that's YOU .... my readers).

I have now been to two Swap O Rama Ramas so I can report with certainty that this is a not-to-be-missed event.

OK... so enough gushing... I'll tell you about the event.

The next Swap O Rama Rama in the Los Angeles area will be on November 16, 2008 at The Shrine Auditorium at 649 West Jefferson Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90007 from 11 am to 5 pm (get there early... there WILL be a line.)

In order to get into Swap O Rama Rama, you can either bring a bag of clothing or accessories and pay a $5 admission fee or you can come without a bag and pay $10.  I suggest you bring a bag, not only for the cheaper admission fee, but to clear out your closet for the new goodies that will be a-coming.

Upon turning over your bag of goodies and your crumpled currency, you enter a swappers dream world.  Piled high upon tables are clothing items sorted into major groupings: tops, pants, coats, sweathers, dresses, etc.  On the floor under the table are shoes.  On another table or hanging on something are accessories.

Hugging the walls of the space are tables with sewing machines attended by helpful volunteers ready to assist you in redesigning your newfound treasure into something different.

At the last Swap I attended, I picked out a boxy shaped souvenir t-shirt.  Great color, great picture on the front.  Horrid fit.  With the help of the lovely volunteer (who, by the way, makes her living as a wardrobe mistress for a major movie studio) that t-shirt was restructured into a fabulous top that actually FITS me.  It's my favorite shirt and it is sooooo cool looking.

My teenaged daughter scooped up a pair of black leather Liz Claiborne knee-high boots.  As she was walking around, a lady saw them and said, "Oh, you got my boots.  I got them when we went to Paris and I wore them for one day.  But, I'm not a boot person, so I brought them here."  How cool is that?

This Swap O Rama Rama is also going to have a craft show.  These are members of the cutting edge of the Los Angeles Craft scene.  I know their work.  Get ready to shop for Holiday presents.

So, I can't say enough about this event.  Don't miss it.  After the last Swap, I felt so bad that I hadn't insisted that all my friends go.... so, I'm telling you now... don't miss this!

For those of you not lucky enough to live in the LA area, there are Swap O Rama Ramas in other areas of the world.  Go to SwapORamaRama.org to find or start a swap near you.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Free Online Language Learning Site

When I was in high school and college, I was forced to "learn" French despite my protests that I would never have a need for it.  I did NOT learn French and I have not had a need for it.  Well, actually that is not true.  I learned enough French to confuse me when I try to speak Spanish, a language that I have a great need to know every day.

So, now I am trying to learn Spanish.  I've got a stack of tapes, CDs, books and workbooks by the side of my bed.  So far, I know how to say "hello," "supermarket," & "hat."  If I can find someone named "supermarket hat," I can start a great conversation.

Meanwhile, people speak Spanish, all around me, every day and I have no idea what they are talking about.

I am ready to take the Spanish Language Learning plunge again on a new Free Online Language Learning Site that I just found: busuu.com

I have no idea what "busuu" means, but it looks like a really cool site.

You can learn various languages - not just Spanish - and get connected up online to people around the world who speak that language and want to help you.  AND... you get to help other people learn to speak English.

This site is currently in Beta, so it might not always be free.  Check it out now.

Here are a few more free online language services:
123TeachMe.com
HowToSayIn.com
iGoogle translator

AdiĆ³s (which means "goodbye" in Spanish).  See, I'm already learning.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Free Movie Screenings - major cities in the US

A little birdie told me that my readers really like to know about free movie screenings, so I did a little research for you and found another free movie screening site.  Filmmetro.com

Glad to let you all know that this screening company doesn't just offer free movie screenings in Los Angeles (although the home offices are in the Los Angeles area), but they also provide free movie screening tickets in the following major metropolitan areas:
See, I'm thinking about my readers all the time.  Gotta go and find some more free movie screening sites for you.  Happy movie watching.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

What song was #1 on the day you were born?

Oh... this is just too much fun not to share.

So, check this out..  Go to this site - The #1 Song on this Date in History, punch in the month and day you are interested in... and you'll go to a list of years.  Find the year, and voila, there is the title of the song and recording artist that was listed as #1 in Billboard Magazine on that day and year.  Then, you can link directly to itunes to hear some of the song and (of course) buy it.

This site was developed by Josh Hosler during a two year period of unemployment (whew... WAY too much time on his hands then) and is still kept up-to-date now. He is obviously into music, sharing his passion with the rest of us and has figured out a way to make a buck or two (from book and music sales) in the process.

If you want more info on the Billboard charts, you can buy the books he is linked to and send him a few pennies that way.

Also, you can listen to his online radio show The Billboard Pop 40 on Live365.com.

"Alright Bobbi, we get it... but how is this a bargain?" Well, not only is this a fun site (Doris Day sang my birthday song), but this gives you an edge coming up with a unique last minute frugal gift.  Who else is going to come to the birthday party with a copy of the song that was #1 on the Birthday Boy or Girl's birth day?  You'll be the hit of the party and your present will make a lasting impression.  Not bad for a 99 cent download fee.

Let's face it.... Bobbi's Bargains ROCKS!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Umbrella Today ? Simpliest Weather Report Ever

When I lived in New York City, the view out of my (expensive and tiny) fifth-floor walk-up apartment was a brick wall. This was rather frustrating since I had to determine the answer to the all important question... should I take an umbrella.

For those of you who have never lived in New York City, you need to understand the significance of that question.  When you leave your apartment (no one has a house) you have to be prepared for a day WITHOUT a car, a day where you WILL be walking in the weather, a day where the weather REALLY counts.  Plus, you will most likely be gone ALL day and you AREN'T close by.  So, if it rains and you don't have an umbrella, you WILL be buying one on the street for an enormous sum of money - again.

Of course, The Weather Channel was a lifesaver.  However, if you were running late - which I always was .... you had to pray that they would be showing your area and the all important "rain or no rain" question when you tuned in.

Decades too late for me, but just in time for those of you in a similar position.... www.umbrellatoday.com

Just plug in your zip code and get an immediate "yes" or "no" answer to the simple question.  You can even get text messages sent to you at a specific time each day.

Whew!  Now, if someone could make web site that answers the question, "Date him?" they'd be an instant hit..

Sunday, August 24, 2008

How to Live on One Income - Introduction

This is the beginning of a series of posts on how to live on one income.

I am writing these posts to help families figure out how to have one of the parents stay at home and raise the children and run the home.  I realize that this viewpoint has become unpopular in recent times, but in fact, many of the problems of our society (increased drug use, lowered literacy rates, increased crime, lowering moral standards, and yes, even increased debt) could and can be improved by having someone who is "at home."

"But Bobbi, how can this be so?  How can it be true that you can lower your debt by having one person stop working? That's impossible!"

Sorry to inform you of this fact, but the awful truth is that if you have a business that has a top executive post vacant and unmanaged, that company will not do well.  Families and households are not exactly like a business, but they follow some very similar rules.

In the past, the person that was running a home was given a budget and told, "This is the amount you have to run the household. Make it work."  And, if you were a good housewife, you made it work.  If you were a good housewife, your family ate well, looked good, had good times, and felt the home was a safe harbor and a place to love and grow.  If you were a bad housewife, the food was terrible, the clothes looked bad, the house was dirty and people were in general pretty miserable.  Yes, I know I am being very black and white here, and there are lots and lots of gray areas, but I'm trying to make a point.

If you were a "good" housewife, you spent time figuring out how to do the things that you needed to do with the money you had.  This might mean growing your own food, or making your own clothes or living another year (or two or twelve) with your current car or television.  It meant continued study in the art and science of homemaking.  My girlfriend's mother got her master's degree in HOME ECONOMICS.  Remember that subject?

(A note here, I will be writing about houseWIVES, but of course, it can be houseHUSBANDS.  Doesn't matter.  SOMEONE needs to be home and in-charge and responsible for the products of running a home and raising a family.)

Now, we are in a "hurry, hurry, use it up, toss it out and get another one" society.  There is always a new and better whatever and we must run, run, run to get it.  Credit cards have made it possible to "get" whatever it is that the media tells us we can't live without.  Getting "stuff" is easy.  Paying minimum payments seems easy.  Even in today's economy, the credit card companies are offering up cheap introductory interest rates to anyone who will sign up. (To find out more about this subject, watch or read, "Maxed Out.")


Once you get on the "living on credit" merry-go-round, it is pretty hard to get off.  There are lots of books, websites, videos, groups and gurus who are ready to tell you how to "get out of debt."   This is not the subject I am going to talk about.


I am interested in helping you learn how to either never get into debt or to stay out of debt. 

Here's the problem.  Most people under the age of 30 years of age have never had the experience of living in a household where there actually was someone at home running the home, budget and family.  Even if there was someone at home doing this, it was most likely not observed.  Children are not in the house.  They are off at daycare, or school or afterschool activities most of their young lives - some from as early as six-weeks old.  They have learned how to live in groups, eat processed food, and do what someone else says to do.  How life actually works is behind some screen - like at Disneyland.  It just "happens." They simply have not observed or been a party to the actual process of running a successful home and life.

How did we arrive at this state?  How did we arrive at the situation where both parents feel that they HAVE to work in order to survive?  That is NOT the subject of these postings, but you can certainty find the answer to that question, if you so desire.  A subject worth studying, but, as I said, not the subject of these posts.

Here, I am going to share the wisdom of the ages.  Wisdom that every homemaker has known for ages past, but information that has recently become lost knowledge.  Information about cooking, cleaning, budgets, gift giving, entertainment, education, etc.

The first in this series has already been written and is entitled, "How to Save Money at the Mall."  Certainly the shortest of my posts and not very detailed, it does, however, make my point.

So, that's my introduction.  More posts will come.  They will be listed under "How to Live on One Income" in my index. 

Now, I must go and feed my children gruel.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Keywords Hiring Managers Look For

From CareerBuilder.com comes the results of a survey on over 3,000 hiring managers and human resource professionals regarding keywords they look for in resumes.

Hiring managers often use electronic scanners to rank candidates based on a keyword search of applications, so make sure to pepper keywords into your resume as they apply to your experience.

The terms employers search for most often are:
  • problem-solving and decision-making skills (50 percent)
  • oral and written communications (44 percent)
  • customer service or retention (34 percent)
  • performance and productivity improvement (32 percent)
  • leadership (30 percent)
  • technology (27 percent)
  • team-building (26 percent)
  • project management (20 percent)
  • bilingual (14 percent)
Seems to me like using these words will give you an edge, not only in your resume, but when having a face-to-face interview.  Use these keywords in your conversation when talking about your views and experience to your potential employer.  Way better than talking about the day that your grandmother's goat ate the wash off the line.

Microsoft Office Ultimate 2007 for 91% off retail price

As you know, a true bargain is at least 90% off the retail price AND is something that you actually need and want.  This sale item fits my definition.

Microsoft is making Office Ultimate 2007 available at 91% off the $680 retail price to students with proof of enrollment in a United States educational institution and a valid .edu email address.

You will also be able to obtain Microsoft Visio Professional design package and Vista Ultimate upgrade at similar discounts.

These offers are supposedly good throughout the academic school year, but you might want to check them out as soon as possible.

For more information and/or to order, click here.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Hotel Surplus Outlet - Los Angeles

When you go to a hotel, do you look at the furniture and wish it was in your bedroom?  Personally, I love the armoires that you can close and cover up the TV.

Well, hotels remodel a lot.  What happens to their "stuff"? Does it go to the hotel junkyard?  No, it goes to Hotel Surplus Outlet in Los Angeles (Van Nuys, to be exact.)  Per their website, Hotel Surplus Outlet "acquires and liquidates fine furnishing from top rated hotel and lodging properties.  They also seek deals on new overstock items, canceled items, canceled orders and new furniture."  This means some great deals for you! 

OK, I've looked at their prices and they are much higher than the prices you would find at a yard sale.  Those of you who have been with me from the beginning know that I think that 10% of the original price is a true bargain.... but, this stuff is pretty nice and the price is way less than new, so it's worth checking out.

I've found the Hotel Surplus Outlet in Los Angeles, but their must be outlet in other areas.  Perhaps some of my readers would like to post the addresses of outlets in their areas

Here is the information for the Los Angeles store:

Hotel Surplus Outlet
6843 Valjean Avenue, Van Nuys, CA 91406
818-787-7807

Open M-F 9:00 to 6:00 Sat and Sun 10-5
www.hotelsurplus.com


When you check them out, tell 'em Bobbi's Bargains sent you.


Monday, August 18, 2008

A new view for search engines - Viewzi.com

Just found a new (still in beta) search site.  Viewzi.com

It filters and groups the data that is found during the search into several distinct interfaces. 

Way too high tech for me to explain... but lots of fun to try.

Check it out.

Rent your college text books

The cost of going to college has been skyrocketing for years.  Part of that cost includes the cost of the text books one has to buy for the classes.  Many of these books weigh a ton, are impossible to comprehend and you will never use again them after the class ... but you are REQUIRED to have them. 

For decades, college bookstores have had a policy of buying back your used text books (at a small fraction of the original cost) and then selling them back to other students (for a large fraction of the original cost.)  Those bookstore people knew what they are doing. 

Well, the bookstore people no longer have a monopoly on selling you your textbooks.  There are several ways that you can now save a bundle on your text books.

One can always check on the standard book buying sites:
amazon.com
ebay.com
half.com

You might also find a deal on craigslist.com  (make sure that you use my earlier tip on how to search all the craigslists at once.)

However, there is a new text book game in town.  You can now RENT your text books.

Why would you want to rent your textbooks?  For a bunch of reasons (say the sites):
Save paper = save trees = save planet
Cheaper price (yes, some of these books are dirt cheap)
You don't have to feel obligated to shelve, dust, pack and move the text book for the rest of your life because you spent more on it than you did for your first car.

Make SURE that you read all the fine print on these sites.  It is important that the books are guaranteed to have all the CDs and special codes you need for full access to the info that is part of this text book.  A lot of books now have websites that go with them and you need a code to unlock the site.  Also check out the information on due dates, extra fees, shipping costs, damages, etc.

Here are my favorite three text book rental sites:
campusbookrentals.com
bookrenter.com
chegg.com

As a special note, on some of these sites, you can even buy gift certificates.  What a great gift for a high school graduation present.

And, of course, if you already have text books, you aren't using and won't ever use again, cluttering up your shelves, you can sell these books on the same sites.

Friday, August 8, 2008

The ReUse People

Many years ago, I was walking down 86th Street in New York City. There was a crew demolishing a building. Just as I passed and looked into the shambles of what once had been a 1920s bar, I saw a workman bring down his sledge hammer on a gorgeous stained glass window. I am pretty certain that I screamed. I couldn't believe that he hadn't at least dragged the window to the sidewalk. It would have been gone in "a New York minute."

I've never forgotten that window. I've thought about "where have all the architectural embellishments gone?" Into landfills? Horrors!

Guess I wasn't the only person thinking about this, because there is a group called, "The Re Use People." Their Mission Statement says that they: "reduce the solid waste stream and change the way the built environment is renewed by salvaging building materials and distributing them for reuse."

What this means to you and me is that we can go down to one of their salvage warehouses and buy a salvaged door, window, cabinet, refrigerator or spiral staircase for a fraction of the original cost.

It also means that you have to be flexible and use what they have... which could be ANYTHING. Depends on what has been recently salvaged.

When my friend and I went to check out the store in Pacoima, CA, we saw some floor to ceiling built-in bookshelves, a bay window, a kitchen island, an air condition compressor, a chandelier, and doors and windows of every shape and size.

Check out their website here. There are warehouses nationally, but the majority appear to be in California.

If you are remodeling, this is a store you can't afford not to check out. You might find a stained glass window for a few dollars. Wouldn't THAT be nice?

Summer Olympics 2008 on You Tube

I love watching the Olympics. I have special memories of watching the Olympics on TV with my family. However, now that I have a family, I don't have TV. I pulled the plug on commercialized TV quite some time ago. I just couldn't stand being barraged with commercials designed to teach my kids to want things that they didn't need and couldn't afford.... so, cable had to go.

Turns out that I can pretty much find whatever I want on the internet or Blockbuster.... except the Olympics.

I did some searching on the net and find out that there are a couple sites that will help me. Thought I'd share them with you.

YouTube Summer Games - all the YouTube vids in one place. You know there are going to be tons of videos uploaded. This seems to be a good choice for me as they will be sorted into different kinds of videos.

Add a gadget to your Google home page - you can add a gadget to your google homepage. This will give you all kinds of info right on the home page. You can find out more info on this by clicking here.

TVtonic - seems to have awesome coverage, but you have to have Vista to use it. You can download and watch full length olympic events. Its NBC Olympics On the Go. Check it out.

Of course, if you DO happen to have a cable provider, you can sign up for the delayed feed at NBCOlympics.com. If you do... can you invite me over to watch the opening ceremonies?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Shoe Frenzy - Possibly the Best Shoe Sale Ever

Hat tip to Linda N. for letting me know about this truly amazing once-a-year, charity designer shoe sale.

From the description, this is the sale you go to, to buy the shoes, that go along with, the wedding dress you bought at Filene's Basement Running of the Brides Wedding Dressing Sale.

This shoe sale is actually so popular that the website includes a statement acknowledging that you have consulted with your physician and he has said that you are healthy enough to endure the rigors of going to this sale. Swear!

Thanks for all that, Bobbi, how about telling us about the actual shoe sale?

Here's the scoop.

Shoe Frenzy was starting in 1996 as a fund raiser for the Women's Clinic and Family Counseling Center on Pico Boulevard in Los Angeles. The first Frenzy had a few hundred pairs of shoes and ten bargain seekers standing in line. Today, twelve years later, shoppers come early to get numbered wrist bands for the privilege of standing in line for a chance to score one of thousands of pairs of shoes (including designer labels with retail prices of over $500 a pair.) All of these shoes are 50-90% off retail. Most are under $50. All are under $100.

This year's sale takes place on Saturday, September 6th, 2008 at the Veterans Memorial Complex Auditorium, 4117 Overland Avenue, Culver City, California. $1 for admission. Parking is Free. Doors open at 8:00 am. No line-ups prior to 7:00 am, but you may come early for a numbered line-up bracelet.

Check out their website. There's lots of info including pictures from shoppers of their bargain finds. You can also call their hotline at (310) 203-8899, ext 300 and leave your name, address or email address to be placed on their Shoe Frenzy mailing list.

Put your best foot forward and go to this sale.

Free Directory Assistance and Driving Instructions - 1-800-FREE-411

OK, I'm going to let the cat out of the bag. I remember when telephone directory assistance was free. Actually I remember when you spoke to an actual operator when you dialed "0" and could ask her for a phone number. OK, I remember when we didn't have area codes. OK, I don't remember when you had to call the operator just to place a local call. BUT, I have heard the story of when my father called his mother from Europe (he was a soldier in WWII) and the local operator told him that she knew his mother wasn't at home because she had seen her walking up the street to the beauty parlor. Would he like her to connect him to the beauty parlor? He said, yes. She did AND she listened to the call and everyone in town knew what he had said before my grandmother told them. True story.

Free directory assistance? Could this be true? YES! I don't lie. Is there a catch? YES! Of course there is. But the catch isn't too bad, considering that (depending on your phone carrier) you could save anywhere from $1.25 to $3.49 (according to the 1-800-FREE-411 web site.)

Here's how it works.

You call 1-800-FREE-411 and you hear a short (10 second) advertisement. You are asked if you want to be connected to the advertiser. If you do nothing, then you are asked some questions that lead you to getting the phone number you are looking for. Supposedly, there is also a way to get driving directions. There is another advertisement and then the number is read to you. It is read THREE times so that you can actually get it written down. You can also do this whole thing in text messages. (Don't ask me how, I don't text.)

This seems like a pretty good deal. HOWEVER, I can tell that if you are mentally "zoning" that you can accidentally get yourself connected to advertisers. You can also accidentally get yourself opted in to some text messaging advertising. So, if you are going to use this service, BE AWAKE! Listen to the entire prompt. This site is not for the mentally challenged.

That being said, I think this is an AWESOME deal and a great service. Their FAQ section is very good and makes you feel (rightly or wrongly) that they are trustworthy and really aren't trying to rip you off or send you spam if you don't want it.

So, you no longer can use the excuse that you left your brother's phone number at home and couldn't afford directory assistance to get the number and that's why you didn't call him on his birthday. You'll have to think up a new excuse.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Search every Craigslist Site at Once

Oh this is SUCH a good tip that I just have to share this with everyone.

So, you know how sometimes you are looking for something on Craigslist but that thing isn't for sale on your local city Craigslist site? So, you wonder, gee... does someone in another city have one of these things that I wanted listed on Craigslist? After all, I want this thing sooooo badly that I am certainly willing to pay shipping charges. So, you start clicking on other cities... like Baltimore, Maryland or Greensburg, Pennsylvania or Terra Haute, Indiana.

Well, wouldn't it be nice if you could just search EVERY Craigslist city at once? That's a trick question because that is the name of this post. Ok... so, yes... there IS a way to do this.

You can find how to do this little trick by going to:
http://howto.wired.com/wiki/Search_Every_Craigslist_Site_at_Once

It's sooooo cool. I surely wish I had known about this when I was looking for that great pair of jeweled blue sunglasses that I just HAD to have last summer.

Here's to finding exactly what you want WHEREVER it may be.

Hugs.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Huge clothing swap and create - Swap o Rama Rama


"There's a new phenomenon sweeping the world called Swap O Rama Rama. Founded by Wendy Tremayne, Swap is a clothing swap and series of DIY workshops in which participants explore creative reuse from recycled clothing. Basically, you bring a bag of clothes and they get sorted into piles by volunteers. You get to sort through all the clothes and work at the various DIY stations and sewing stations to create new clothes! It is the best GREEN event going on! Come on, let's save our planet!" (quote from Hip Line Media)

Couldn't say it better.... well, actually, I CAN add to this blurb. Swap o Rama is tons of fun if you are a creative-type person looking for some new super-cool, one of a kind duds to wear. PLUS, looks of wonderful people to meet.

It's not just about clothing. There is also an area designated to making jewelry. Last time I was at a swap, I made a bracelet with matching earrings out of Monopoly houses and hotels. I LOVE them.

OK... so if you are in Southern California, mark your calendar for June 28, 2008 and mapquest 2210 Lincoln Blvd, Venice, CA because that is where the next Swap where I will be is taking place. But do not despair if you live in other areas of the country. Swap has gotten so hot, there are scheduled events in such diverse venues as Philadelphia, Oklahoma City, Milwaukee, New York and Durham, NC. You can check out where events have been and where they will be by clicking here. For info on the Venice swap, click here.

Admission is $5 with a bag of clothes and $10 without clothes.... so, go through your closet and find some stuff that needs a new home.

Going to one of these events is well worth the hassle of getting there. Have a great time.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Free Font Maker

Have you ever wanted to make your own typeface? I have.

I had a friend who was a genius at drawing fonts (typefaces). I was soooo jealous. I couldn't even hand letter a simple "This way to the bathroom" sign (which is why I learned to typeset) without it looking like a 4-year-old had lettered it.

Now, with the magic of technology, even I can create customized letters. I'm so excited!

Introduction to FontStruct from fontstruct on Vimeo.



So, check out this cool, free, downloadable font maker at fontstruct.com

Of course, if you aren't feeling artistic today, you can download someone else's creation. Just wait til my type-obsessed friend, Sally, sees THIS!

Of course, my first letter is going to be a "B."

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Bank of America customers - free museums first weekend of every month!

Bank of America is now offering free museum entrance to selected museums in 18 states, on the first weekend of every month - you just show any Bank of America card.

http://promotions.bankofamerica.com/museums/ (click on link to see more details and which museums are available in your state or vacation destination)

Not all museums are included, but there are some very good ones included in this offer - in Southern California they are:

LACMA
5905 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA
90036
323 857-6000
www.lacma.org

Long Beach Museum of Latin America Art
628 Alamitos Avenue
Long Beach, CA
90802
562.437.1689
www.molaa.org

Orange County Discovery Science Center
2500 N. Main Street, Santa Ana
Orange County, CA
92705
(714)542-2823
www.discoverycube.org


Orange County Laguna Art Center
307 Cliff Drive, Laguna Beach
Orange County, CA
92651
(949)494-8971
www.lagunaartmuseum.org

Riverside Art Center
3425 Mission Inn Ave.
Riverside, CA
92501
951-684-7111
www.riversideartmuseum.org

San Diego's Birth Aquariam at Scripps
2300 Expedition Way, La Jolla
San Diego, CA
92037
(858)534-FISH

San Diego's Mingei Internatonal Museum at Balboa Park (also one in Escondido)
1439 El Prado - on the Plaza de Panama
San Diego, CA
92101
619-239-0003
www.mingei.org/splash.php
aquarium.ucsd.edu/

Escondido California Center for the Arts
340 N. Escondido Blvd
Escondido, CA
92025
760-839-4120
www.artcenter.org

In Northern California, two in San Jose, three in SF (including DeYoung) and two in Sacramento. See website for locations.

Thanks to Naomi for this post.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Free Trip Down Memory Lane .... Musically

Feel like recalling your Senior Year in High School? Well, that's what might happen to you when you click on the year you graduated from high school at the chronologically indexed music site tropicalglen.com.

Songs are indexed based on the year that they were a hit. You click on a year and the Top Ten songs are listed. You can click on a specific song and just hear that one or click on the first one and the rest play sequentially.

A truly wonderful free trip down memory lane. Plays in the background while you work on your computer.... but beware. You may find your fingers immobilized while you sit recalling your senior prom or your first kiss.

Enjoy.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Ruled Paper - Print your own lined or gridded paper


Have you ever needed just ONE sheet of gridded paper? I have. It's pretty hard to make yourself. So, you schlep (Yiddish for drive, walk, drag your body) to the local office supply store where you pay a king's ransom for a tablet of gridded paper. You justify the cost by realizing that you have just bought a lifetime supply of gridded paper.

HOWEVER, somehow or another..... EVERY TIME I need just ONE sheet of gridded paper I can't find that dang tablet I bought the last time.

So, I schlep (you know what this word means now) over to the local office supply store where I pay a king's ransom..... (go back to paragraph one)

OK. That's my story. You know it's true. It's true of gridded paper, music paper, columned paper, dotted paper, etc.

Enter the WONDERFUL folks at printablepaper.net ..... ta-ta-ta-da.

There are hundreds of free downloadable printed paper patterns (say that 10 times fast) available on the site.

A great resource for teachers, homeschoolers and small businesses.

Personally, I'm looking forward to playing "connect the dots." By the way, here is a link to a site where you can play "connect the dots" online.

Bargain Shoppers RULE!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Half Price Membership at Participating Gardens, Arboreta, and Conservatories or "See Flowers for Half the Price"

This one only lasts until the end of the month (April 2008)... so act fast.

The Los Angeles Arboretum is running a half price special for NEW family memberships. For a mere $35 you can get a family membership at the fabulous Los Angeles Arboretum and Botanic Garden in Arcadia, CA. The Arboretum is a 127-acre botanical garden and historical site jointly operated by the Los Angeles Arboretum Foundation and the Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation.

What is so great about this offer (besides the half price sale) is that you can also use this membership card to get in free to any of the hundreds of other participating United States Gardens, Arboreta, and Conservatories listed on the American Horticultural Society site. (click on Reciprocal Admissions on the left hand side of their home page)

This includes wonderful venues like: Descanso Gardens in La Canada, CA; Quail Botanical Gardens in Encinitas, CA; The National Aviary in Pittsburgh, PA; The Brooklyn Botanic Garden in (where else) Brooklyn, NY; The Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University in Boston, MA; and many, many more.

These places are truly wonderful family outing destinations. My mother used to take us to see the Botanical Gardens in Pittsburgh when I was a kid. I can still smell those flowers. (My mother, by the way, was notorious for her "black thumb." Guess she figured if we were ever going to appreciate flowers, she best take us to the Botanical Gardens.)

Anyway, as time is running out on this great bargain .... best to just call the LA Arboretum Membership office on the phone (626.821.3233) and pay by credit card. Ask for Yvonne - lovely woman. Tell her Bobbi at Bobbi's Bargains sent you. She'll give you a good deal :-)

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Dodgers Tickets - dirt cheap - going fast

Better jump on this one fast! As part of a special deal with Travel Zoo, you can get tickets to see the Dodger's play for as little as $2!! Now THAT'S what I call a bargain! A field box ticket is only $15 (usually $50).

Click here to go to the special page on the Dodger site.

The games that are available for this discount are the April 23rd & 24th, 2008 Dodgers versus Diamond Backs and the May 5th & May 6th, 2008 Dodgers versus Mets games.

The discount code is: "TZOO" (those are "Ohs", not "zeros").

Hurry, hurry, they are going fast. Take me out to the old ball game at bargain prices!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

One way to find your perfect job

52 weeks = 52 jobs. At least for recent Business Degree graduate, Sean Aiken, it did. Searching for his ideal job, Sean set out to try a new job every week for an entire year.

This is a great site to spend some time on with your kids. Or perhaps just spend some time with yourself.

Lots of short videos. Very neat idea. Could lead to some great conversations.

www.oneweekjob.com

Bobbi's Bargains: Spring L.A. Kids Consignment Super Sale

Bobbi's Bargains: Spring L.A. Kids Consignment Super Sale
For information on the 2008 LA Kids Consignment Sales,
click here.

Monday, April 14, 2008

How to tell if fruit is organic or genetically modified?

If you are becoming increasingly more aware of the value of organically grown food and the dangers of genetically modified food, then you might also have experienced not being able to tell them apart in the grocery store.

It's not like they have little signs on them that say, "I'm organically grown," or "I'm genetically modified."

Or do they?

Actually, they do.

Each piece of fruit or vegetable has a little label on it with a number. These numbers are the "price look up" or PLU codes.

Each fruit has a four digit number assigned to it. If the label has a five digit number on it that starts with "9" then it is organic. If the five digit number starts with an "8" then it is genetically modified. You can find an alphabetical list of codes here.

Check it out. Once you know this little trick, it doesn't matter if all the apples are in one bin, you can easily pick out the organic ones.

Friday, April 11, 2008

How to buy a window air conditioner

Someone recently wrote to me asking where to get a good window air conditioner at a great price. Because this is an excellent question and an item that you can pay WAY too much for, I thought I best share my answer with my readers.

When I lived in New England (where the winters are cold and the summers are hot and humid), I bought all my window air conditioners second-hand at yard sales at the beginning of winter. I usually paid about $20 and they worked great. The same air conditioner at a yard sale at the beginning of summer would cost about $60. At a store, the same a/c would cost at least $200. Need I say more?

If you don't live in an area that has drastically defined seasons, I suggest that you check out Craigslist.com and get yourself a great deal on a second-hand air conditioning unit. Try to do this in the coldest part of the year, but Craigslist is awesome anytime of the year. If you don't know what Craigslist is, then read about it in my earlier blog entry.

Before you rush off on your bargain buying spree, this treasure hunt requires a bit of research and mathematics prior to embarking on the expedition for best hunting results.

The first thing you need to do is measure the space that you want to cool. You need to know the square footage. It's easy to figure out. Just measure the floor. Measure in one direction and then measure in the other direction. Then multiply the two numbers. Ta-da! Square footage.

Now take your square footage and multiply that by 35. That will give you a general idea of what SIZE air conditioner to buy. That doesn't mean how big in inches... it means how big in BTUs - British Thermal Units.

Every window air conditioner has a cooling capacity number that ranges from about 5,000 to 18,000 BTUs. (Larger systems are usually rated in Tons of cooling with a Ton being equal to 12,000 BTUs.) The higher the BTU value, the stronger the air conditioner is. BTUs determine how much cooling the unit can deliver in an hour. Too little BTUs and you won't get cooled off.... too many BTUs and you will waste energy and MONEY (yikes!)

(For those of you living in areas that actually have humidity here is a bit more insight: Many people buy an air conditioner that is too large, thinking it will provider better cooling. However, an oversized air conditioner is actually less effective — and wastes energy at the same time. Air conditioners remove both heat and humidity from the air. If the unit is too large, it will cool the room quickly, but only remove some of the humidity. This leaves the room with a damp, clammy feeling. A properly sized unit will remove humidity effectively as it cools.)

Once you determine BTUs based on square footage (multiplied by 35), make sure that you make adjustments for room location and heat load.

If the room is shaded, reduce the BTUs by 10%
If the room is very sunny, increase the BTUs by 10%
If the air conditioner is in the kitchen, add 4,000 BTUs
If the room is going to be occupied by more than 2 people (most of the time), add 600 BTUs per person.

Another thing to consider is EER. "EER" stands for "Energy Efficiency Ratio." Air conditioners' EERs usually range from 8.2 to 10.5. The higher the number, the more efficiency... and more expensive to buy... but cheaper to operate. It's a numbers game.

When installing your window air conditioner, use a window that is in the shade. Ensure that there is space around the inside and outside for air flow. In other words, don't put the air condition up against the back of your couch or right up against a bush outside. Insulate where the window and air conditioner meet to make sure there is no air leakage around the unit and the window. Make sure that you clean the filters on a regular basis as this will increase the efficiency and life of your air conditioner.

OK... those are my tips. Good luck and stay cool.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The Gratitude Sign - it costs nothing

Show gratitude. Simple. Important.

How to show gratitude in a simple way - a sign?

Someone.... I don't know who... has made a video showing how to use a simple sign to show gratitude to our troops. But, not just our troops.... to anyone that should be shown gratitude.

I have found that everyone does something every day that should be acknowledged. Your postal worker, the grocery clerk, the bus driver... your MOTHER!!!! Sometimes, people find it hard to go up to someone and just be sincere and say, "Thank You."

This video and the campaign, The Gratitude Campaign, that goes along with it, shows how to easily say, "Thank You."

It only takes 2 minutes to watch.

I think the world would be a better if everyone took the 2 minutes to watch and apply this little sign.

Click here to see the video, The Gratitude Campaign.

Thank you.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Jott - Never again forget that great idea you had while driving

Have you ever been driving down the road and mentally wrote the best opening paragraph for a dynamite story? Pulling over to the side of the road, only to discover you not only have no paper, you don't have even a napkin to write on. You keep thinking of the idea over and over in your head trying to remember it until you get to someplace to write it down. I've NEVER gotten it written down. Life always invades my space and "whoosh" - great idea GONE!

NOW.... ta-da! There is an answer. Your chance to write the next Great American Novel while driving a car is just around the corner.

Jott - that's the name of the company that will allow you to leave yourself a voice mail that gets transcribed into an email and sent to you (or texted). It's a voice transcription service.

You can send a message to yourself, to another, or to a group. You can set a time to send yourself a reminder.

This is a very cool service that has lots of possibilities. Right now it is a free service. Go check out their site. Let me know how you like it. Leave comments.

Right now, I am looking forward to sending myself messages about the ideas I have for my blog. You can't BELIEVE the great entries I have forgotten to write.

Great New Thrift Store in Tujunga, CA

It's not often that I find a thrift store full of great stuff that I really want.... at a great price. Usually if the "stuff" is great, the price is far from "thrift." ... or visa versa.

I stumbled into Esmie's Attic the other day and an hour later strolled out with four fabulous finds. A wonderful throw blanket, a rag rug, a coffee table book and a pair of blue jeans for less money than a manicure!

The space isn't huge, but I was there for an hour because there were so many unique items to look at. The merchandise is aesthetically displayed, so you feel that you are in a high end gift store. Everything is for sale, so if you like the display cabinet... it can be yours. During my delightful conversation with one of the owners, I was told that the inventory is constantly changing. You can bet that I will be back!

Esmie's is on the newly face-lifted Commerce Avenue in Old Town Tujunga, CA. They are not a store front, so you have to look for the appealing display on the sidewalk.

When you stop by, please tell them that you found them through Bobbi's Bargains.

The exact address is 10012 Commerce Avenue, Suite B, Old Town Tujunga, CA 818-641-8045

Elephant Artist - Get ready to have your world rocked

Click on the below link. In 8 minutes and 28 seconds you will see something that might change the way that you look at the world. Now THAT'S a bargain.

Elephant Artist

Daffodil Gardens at Running Springs - 2008

I've had sooo many people coming to my blog to find out about the Daffodil Gardens that I wrote about last year, that I thought I should do an update for 2008.

First of all, it seems that the band width for the Daffodil Garden website is not big enough for all of the traffic that it is getting. Therefore, the website is down more often than not. If you really want to get on the site, I suggest trying in the middle of the night.

Meanwhile, I was able to get through to the local Chamber of Commerce at Running Springs - 909-867-2411. Their message machine told me that the gardens opened on Saturday, May 22nd, 2008 and will be open from 10 am to 6 pm for two weeks. Yikes! You better hop in the car and go NOW!

Addition to this post: I waited til the middle of the night and got on the site. Here are directions to The Daffodil Gardens straight from their site:

Q: Where is The Daffodil Garden, you ask?

A: The Daffodil Garden is located on the slopes of the San Bernardino mountains in Southern California, just below the village of Running Springs.

From the city of Highland (about 60 miles east of downtown Los Angeles), take Highway 330 toward Running Springs. Drive 14 miles up the mountain to the intersection of Live Oak Drive and Fredalba Road. Turn right on Fredalba and proceed one mile.

Turn into the parking lot at St. Anne's Catholic Church in the Mountains at 30480 Fredalba Road. From there, signs will direct you. The garden and steps follow the undulating hillsides, and benches are available; access however is difficult for wheelchairs and the walking impaired.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Baskin Robbins 31 cent scoop night - Wednesday, April 30th, 2008

It's time for Baskin-Robbins annual 31 cent scoop night. Every year, Baskin-Robbins Ice Cream Stores hold this event to honor America's firefighters. You can get a scoop of ice cream for only 31 cents. (limit 10 scoops per person, per purchase)

The lines can get long, so I suggest that you find out where your local Baskin-Robbins is and plan on going early.

This year the event is on Wednesday, April 30th, 2008 from 5pm to 10pm. Mark your calendars now. If you are concerned that you will forget, you can enter your email address on the Baskin-Robbins website and B-R will send you a reminder email the day before the event. Boy, they sure want to help you get your ice cream. Don't disappoint them.

Save Paper - Save a Tree - Save Money

I hate it when I print out a web page or map and instead of getting just one printed page, I end up with extra pages of stuff that I didn't want to print. Especially that wasteful last page that only says the web address and how many pages I printed. What the heck? Not only am I wasting paper, but I am wasting that expensive ink. Also, as the good folks at GreenPrint point out.... I am wasting trees!

GreenPrint has developed patent-pending technology that analyzes each page of every document sent to the printer and looks for typical waste characteristics and gives you the option of not printing those pages and images. How nifty is that?

You can watch an easy-to-understand tutorial that shows how GreenPrint works by clicking here. You can download the free software here.

You can even generate a report that shows you how much you have saved by using GreenPrint. It's cool, it's easy, it's green. Sounds good to me. Save a tree today. Someday you might want its shade.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

LA Kids Consignment - Spring 2008 Sale - Kids are Expensive, Their Stuff Doesn't Have to Be

LA Kids Consignment is a fabulous twice-a-year sale that I wrote about last year. Kristin Nelson, the creator of this super-duper sale, was smart enough to write me a little note telling me when the next sale date was. Good move, Kristin.

If you have kids - newborn through preteens - this is the sale that you don't want to miss. Over 20,000 new and gently used kids clothes and items. You can find out more about LA Kids Consignment here. You can be a consignor, or a buyer or both. You WILL get great deals on kids items you need and want.

The sale has gotten so big and has such a huge following, that there are now two locations and dates for the spring sale.

In the Santa Clarita area:
Friday, Saturday & Sunday, April 25th through April 27th, 2008. 9am - 5pm. On Sunday, most items are 50% off... but they close at 2pm on Sunday.

Location: 26346 Ruether Ave, Santa Clarita, CA 91350

In the LA area:
Friday, Saturday & Sunday, March 28th - March 30th, 2008. 9am - 5pm. Same deal as above, on Sunday, most items are 50% off... but they close at 2pm on Sunday.

Location: Seville Hall, 7963 Van Nuys Blvd, Van Nuys, CA 91402

For more information visit www.lakidsconsignment.com or email lakidsconsignment@earthlink.net.

As was true last year, I still don't have little kids and I'm still jealous that this sale wasn't around when my kids were little. So, please, go, shop, find a great bargain and think of me.

Free Museum Day - Museums of the Arroyo Seco (Pasadena & Los Angeles)

Here is a great Free Sunday Outing for the family if you happen to live in the Los Angeles area. Museums of the Arroyo (MOTA) Day is on Sunday, May 18th, 2008 from 11:00 Am to 5:00 pm.

There are six unique history-based museums that preserve and perpetuate early Los Angeles life that make up this group of museums. All of them will be open to the public for no charge on that day. There will also be free and continuous shuttle service running between the museums. Visitors can park their cars once and then shuttle to the museums of their choice.

MOTA museum members include: The Gamble House, Heritage Square Museum, The Los Angeles Police Historical Museum, The Lummis Home and Garden, The Pasadena Museum of History and The Southwest Museum of the American Indian. Click on each name above to get more information on that museum.

For overall information about MOTA day, click here or call the MOTA hotline at 213-740-TOUR (8687)

I've already marked my calendar and told the family that we are going. I love hands-on history. Maybe we'll see you there.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Avoid Speed Traps and Fight Traffic Tickets

Now here is a nifty little site. If you tend to have a heavy foot on the gas pedal or a light foot on the brake when you come to a stop sign, then this site is your magic mirror.

Speed Trap Exchange has listed the known speed trap locations in all 50 states. I checked out their listings for the speed traps I know that are in tiny little towns... and yep, they were indicated WITH comments!

I grew up in a small town surrounded by even smaller towns. All the locals knew that the bored cops would spend Saturday night lurking just around the bend on the stretch of road where unsuspecting motorists tended to speed. We all knew to slow down, but someone just passing through DIDN'T. Almost every time I ever drove down that road, I would see the "hidden" cop car or the "unhidden" cop car and a pulled over car.

The folks at Speed Trap Exchange, sponsored by the National Motorists Association Foundation, just don't think that this is right. They have set their sights on having a site that lists all the known speed traps and also helps motorists fight speeding tickets. Guess that they just want to live the fast life.

Another great site for help on how to fight a traffic ticket is Ticket Assassin. This is a fabulous site. There is quite a bit of free information, however, the really meaty information (like forms, examples, guidelines and personalized help) are available only after you agree to pay a $25 membership fee. I assure you that the information available for $25 is well worth it if you are trying to fight a traffic ticket. The fee is substantially less than the traffic ticket fine and raised insurance rates due to points you will get if you don't fight the ticket. This site focuses on the laws in California, but has useful information if you live in other states as well.

Now, I'm not telling anyone to speed (especially not my 16 year old just-learning-to-drive son) but, I don't like traps. They just don't seem fair to me.

So, check out the sites. Take a stroll through memory lane and revisit the places where you have gotten speeding tickets. Perhaps it will be a relief to you to know that you were trapped into that ticket. Check out the known traps in your area. Drive wisely. Drive safe.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Find Cheap Gas

All right, I don't know about you, but my budget is starting to get impacted by the price of gasoline. My normal, "don't worry, I'll just buy it secondhand," doesn't seem to work for gasoline. It's kind of hard to find "used gas" or "gently used gas."

However, with the help of a nifty little website called, GasBuddy.com, you can find the cheapest gas available in your area. This site will, at least, keep you from experiencing buyer's remorse when you pass a station (a quarter of a mile down the road) that is selling gas at 10 cents less than you just paid.

Gas Buddy is really pretty neat. You can put in your zip code and find your local area. There are maps to help you find the stations nearest you. I was surprised to see the big difference in prices in my area. I will certainly be using this site.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Free Yoga Class Online

I've never taken a yoga class. I think maybe I've always been intimidated by those super thin, long legged, scantily dressed yoga class attendees. I just don't think I am ready to bring my little mat, water bottle and extra body weight into the mirrored room! Yikes!

But, the good people at Yoga Today have solved my problem. I can do yoga in the comfort of my home in my PJs... for FREE (the best price.)

This is a very nice site. The people who put this together are doing a new one-hour yoga workout show EVERY DAY.

They want lots of visitors to their site because then they will be able to get advertisers. Sounds like a good idea. Hummm... maybe I should try that. Anyone want to sponsor my site?

I digress. Sorry.

Anyway, check out this site. The show that I watched was specifically to help you NOT get Sciatica (which is a HORRIBLE pain in your back and legs.) Any show that wants to help me NOT have pain gets my vote.

So, gather up your mat, water bottle and scanty workout clothes and check out this site.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Ease your pain without a pinch to your purse

There is a terrific product that I have been using for several years now. It is called "Naturally Painless." This is an all natural topical pain reliever spray. Whew! What a mouthful.

Instead of popping over-the-counter pain medication (tylenol, advil, motrin, whatever...) you just spray this stuff on the effected area.

For instance: I had a headache... so, I sprayed it on the base of my neck. Instantly, my headache went away.

My teenage daughter had cramps. She sprayed Painless across her belly from ovary to ovary. Again, instant relief.

My throat was sore, so I sprayed on the front of my neck. Within a short period of time, the pain was gone. Wow... this stuff goes deep into the body to relieve inflammation. Cool!

My son (the skateboarder) badly banged up his toe/foot... bad enough to go get xrays on Christmas day. (Oh sure, THAT was fun!) It was swollen and terribly discolored. It wasn't broken - thank goodness, but the doctor said it would take 2 weeks to heal and to stay off of it for that long. We iced it and sprayed Painless on it 4-5 times a day. Within FOUR days, it was not swollen, it was not discolored, there was no pain and he was skating again.

I've got more stories (I've been trying to see how many uses there are for this stuff)... but I will spare you.

But.... and here is the reason that I am writing about this on my blog. This stuff usually sells for $37.50 for a 2 oz. bottle (well worth the price) but, for some reason, the manufacturer has put it on sale on their website (www.realsolutionremedies.com) for only $19.95 a bottle! I'm talking DEAL!!!! I have no idea how long it will be at that price.

I just had to tell you because this is my absolutely favorite first aid supply. Check it out. Hope you don't need to use it much.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Paper Back Book Swap

When I was in junior high, my best friend's Grandmother was addicted to romance novels. Somehow or another, several boxes of her used paperbacks landed in the basement of my friend's house. We spent a summer in the cooler temperatures of the basement reading dozens of romance novels.

I learned some important things things:*

1. Romance novels don't have a lot of different plots.
2. People actually spent money buying these books and then have to get rid of them because they are not going to read them again.
3. If you want to read some romance novels without paying for them, just wait until someone else has finished the one they bought and then ask them for it.

Well, someone else must have learned this lesson too and expanded upon it to include ALL paperback books, because there is now Paper Back Swap online.

Now this is truly a very cool idea for anyone out there that consumes paperback books and then hates to just put them in the garbage can (VERY non-politically correct) or too lazy to take them to Goodwill AND who would like to get some more paperback books in exchange for them.

This site really makes the best of what the internet is about (in my bargain view of the world). You can find someone across the country that has a book that you want and then someone can find the book that you have and "SWAP" - everyone is happy - for just the price of postage. They even have printing the wrapping, address and postage all computerized.

Go and check this site out. Even if you are NOT smothered in paperbacks, you just might want to give this a try.

*Later in the life, I learned that life is not like a romance novel.... but that is another post.

Couch Surfing - A Couch in Every Port

This is SUCH a cool idea! A site that helps you find free accomodations all over the world.

When I lived in New York City, I had an apartment the size of a postage stamp. BUT.... that apartment had an extra couch. Because I had this place that people could "crash" when they were in the Big Apple, I met the NEATEST people.

I had a girl from South Africa stay with me. I met a wonderful woman from France that I am friends with to this day. I could always say, "Oh, have them come and spend the night at my place."

Because I built up so many "couch Karma points".... I have always be able to find couches to crash on when I needed them.

Well, now there is this awesome website where you can sign up and offer up your "couch" and look for a couch. There are people all over the world who are part of this group.

I haven't used this site yet myself, but I did check it out. I also read a posting from someone about how they used this service when they were driving cross country with their family. They LOVED it. Saved them a bundle of money and created lasting memories.

I think this site is going to make it possible for people to travel the world on a shoestring and make lifelong friends.

They have checks in place to help make this safe. You can read their site to find out more about this. If you are the extremely cautionary type or if you have the ability to "find" trouble, then I guess this wouldn't be for you. However, if adventure and meeting new people and having new experiences is on your agenda, then I think that CouchSurfing.org will be your "Hitchhiker's Guide to a Place to Stay."

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Free, Cross-Platform Sound Editor

This is a free download of a sound editing program. I don't know very much about this kind of thing, but my very geeky nephew said it was very good. I trust him.

So, here is the short and sweet of it. The name of the program is: Audacity. Click here to get more info.

Enjoy!

Instant Custom Wrapping Paper

Yes, I know... the holiday season is over. (PLEASE tell me that you DID go and buy your wrapping paper for next year at 75% off this week. They are practically giving away Christmas wrapping goods the second week of January.)

But, gift giving goes on all year long. Even with a load of holiday wrapping paper in your closet, you might find yourself in a jam and need to come up with some cute wrapping paper for some other reason. Now, I warn you, this particular link is for CUTE paper and for SMALL gifts (best if they can be wrapped in a 8 1/2 x 11 piece of paper.

Alright, I don't want to keep you in suspense anymore. The link is at AmericanGirl.com. You can print custom wrapping paper and matching gift cards. This will be quite helpful when you remember it's your best friend's birthday ten minutes before you are supposed to meet her for lunch. Yikes!

(Suggestion for quick gift idea: go buy a gift card online. Almost every major chain has online gift cards. Barnes&Noble.com, Amazon.com, LinensandThings.com, etc., etc. Print out the gift card. Print out some nice wrapping paper with a matching card. And... presto... you're a social wonder.)

If you are feeling very artsy and have way too much time on your hands, then you might want to go and visit Wrap Art. This site will give you lots of inspiration. It makes me feel ashamed of my own feeble efforts to wrap presents.

If you are a "wrapping novice" and need some basic advice, then go to WikiHow to find out How to Wrap a Present.

They say, "It's the thought that counts," but the fact is that I do LOVE a beautifully wrapped gift. OK, ok, .... I'm going to practice this year and my gifts will look MUCH better next year.