Thursday, December 9, 2010

Original factory brochures for American cars

My father was REALLY into cars. Every year he would gather up the new car brochures from the dealer. He would come home, spread them out on the kitchen table and pour over the pages dreaming of the new car he would get.

If this scenerio reminds you of yourself or someone you know, then you will be thrilled to know about Hans Tore Tangerud's love2xlr8 (love to accelerate) web car site. He has scanned and posted his extensive collection of American car brochures and fliers.

One of the great things about these brochures is that you can find the original specs on cars.

Of course, if you aren't looking for a hot classic car, you might have better luck with Edmunds new beta version of their website that lists many of the specs of used car models for the last 15 yeas or so. This is a very valuable tool when you are trying to figure out which exactly which trim model has a specific option (such as power seats).

If there is a car lover in your life, send them these links and they will think you are just awesome.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Flash Mobs - what are they and how to join

Flash Mobs are becoming the new rage. Just in case you haven't heard of or seen one, a flash mob is a large group of people who assemble suddenly in a public place, perform an unusual and pointless act for a brief time, then quickly disperse.
Well known examples of flash mobs are:
Recently, the one of the top rated TV shows, "Modern Family" featured a flash mob; and yes, yours truly was one of the dancers. Check out the video above and you can see me at 1:35.

Being part of a flash mob is tons of fun. Here's how it happens.
  • Find a local group - search "flash mob"+"name of your city"
  • Get on their contact list
  • Find out about an upcoming flash mob
  • Sign up to participate in that specific event
  • Receive a link to practice videos
  • Go to in-person rehearsals - this is the really fun social part
  • Gather at the mob site - usually not revealed until the last minute
  • The music or starting cue occurs begins
  • The event itself happens, in well, a flash.
My daughter and I have done several flash mobs with Flash Mob America. This is a terrific frugal family adventure and has created lifetime memories.

If you know of flash mob groups in your area, please post them here so that others can join. The more the merrier.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Free Paper Dolls

When I was a little girl, I loved paper dolls. I had a small pair of sharp scissors so I could make the delicate cuts. I stored the completed outfits and dolls in a specially decorated cigar box. My doll had some sort of metal lining and small magnets that got attached to the clothes so that they would stick. Cool stuff!

I haven't seen paper dolls in a long time, and I felt sorry for the little girls of the world that they were missing the fun of such a simple pleasure.

Teri Pettit loves her paper doll collection so much that she wants to share it with the world. Available for free download are her personal collection of out of print paper dolls. My favorites are "Sixteen" (what the best dressed teenager was wearing in 1943) and "Marlo Thomas as That Girl." There are 26 different collections in this grouping.

If you want to know more about paper dolls, then check out the OPDAG (The Original Paper Doll Artist Guild) web site. Here you will find the history of the paper doll, paper doll drawing tips and excellent paper doll links.

Apparently, paper dolls are alive and well. Do you have memories of playing with paper dolls?

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Frugal Holiday Ideas - entertainment, gifts and greeting

The bells are jingling, the candles are burning, and the budgets are straining.

You can have a great holiday without breaking the budget. Check out two recent articles I wrote for Bargain Babe.

  • Gifts that keep giving - The best gifts are ones that last all year long. In this post, I give some ideas and links to gift ideas such as Theater Extra subscriptions for practically free theater tickets and Paperback Swap accounts.
What are your gift ideas?

Sunday, September 5, 2010

How to buy an air conditioner

It’s HOT and you blew it by ignoring my advice to buy an air conditioner during the winter. Before you make an impulse buy, do a bit of mathematics for best results.

The first thing you need to do is measure the space that you want to cool. You need to know the square footage, which is 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 high humidity areas here is a bit more insight: Many people buy an air conditioner that is too large, thinking it will provider better cooling. However, an over-sized 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 your BTU need (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, which stands for Energy Efficiency Ratio.” Air conditioners’ EERs usually range from 8.2 to 10.5. The higher the number, the more efficient the machine and the more expensive to buy, but cheaper to operate. It’s a numbers game.

OK, so now that you know what size air conditioner you need, look on Craigslist. If you can’t find what you are looking for there, check out one of the big box warehouse stores like Sam’s Club, Costco, or BJ’s. They have competitive prices and their return policies are fabulous. Don’t buy an air conditioner online because the shipping cost will be enormous.

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.

How to get discount theater tickets

I love The Theater and I go as often as I can. I’m not sitting in the high priced seats, but I’ve learned to get great tickets at equally great discounts. I like to sit in the front row of the cheapest seats. If I can’t get the front row, then I get the back row because I can stand up or sit on something if there is a head in my way. I’ve found that the cheapest seats (especially in a small venue) are almost as good as the most expensive seats. I always make sure that everyone in my party has their own pair of binoculars so you can really see up close.

Here are some other ways to see fabulous theater at bargainista prices:

  • Wait until the last minute and then use discount ticket sites such as tkts for New York and Goldstar for Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago, DC Metro, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Minneapolis-St. Paul, New York, Orange County, Portland, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, Seattle.
  • Volunteer or work at the theater. I’ve always thought working as an usher at a very good theater was just the coolest job. The pay isn’t great, but you get to see some of the best actors in action.
  • Group ticket sales. For some theaters, a group is as few as 10 people. Groups get excellent discounts and sometimes the person who organizes it gets a free ticket.
  • See theater that is less well known. TheaterExtras is a seat-filling audience development organization that gives complimentary tickets in New York and Los Angeles to its members. For the price of a Broadway ticket, you can get practically free tickets all year. There are also special savings for members of a theatrical union, student or senior citizen. Indicate that I referred you (bobbisbargains) and I’ll get a little credit as well.
  • Check to see if your city is part of the Artsopolis Network, which provides listings of free local events and discount tickets. Some of the cities that are included are Boston, Phoenix, Nashville, Flint, Grand Forks and Philadelphia. Sorry New York and Los Angeles – no site for you, but you have plenty of other cool sites.

No matter how you do it, go to the theater and support the arts. Do you know of other ways to get great deals on theater and entertainment venues?

Friday, August 27, 2010

Free full length movies on YouTube

Looking for a movie on a site that you know won't give you a virus along with entertainment?

YouTube has added a movie component. Now you can watch movies on YouTube. Some are free and some are rentals. The selection isn't the greatest right now, but there are a few that interest me: My Date with Drew, The Best of the Three Stooges, and Undiscovered.

I am sure that YouTube Movies is going to grow into something we can't recall how we lived without.

Where to do you watch movies online? Share in the comments section.

Friday, August 13, 2010

25 uses for coffee filters

I received the following list of 25 uses for coffee filters as an email with no known author. This list is just too good not to pass on. So,if you are the author, please let me know and I'll credit you. Meanwhile, check out this list of uses for something most of us have in our cupboard. (My favorite is #10 - what a great idea!)

Coffee filters .... Who knew! And you can buy 1,000 at the Dollar Tree for almost nothing even the large ones.

1. Cover bowls or dishes when cooking in the microwave. Coffee filters make excellent covers.

2. Clean windows, mirrors, and chrome.... Coffee filters are lint-free so they'll leave windows sparkling.

3. Protect China by separating your good dishes with a coffee filter between each dish.

5. Protect a cast-iron skillet. Place a coffee filter in the skillet to absorb moisture and prevent rust.

6. Apply shoe polish. Ball up a lint-free coffee filter.

7. Recycle frying oil. After frying, strain oil through a sieve lined with a coffee filter.

8. Weigh chopped foods. Place chopped ingredients in a coffee filter on a kitchen scale.

9. Hold tacos. Coffee filters make convenient wrappers for messy foods.

10. Stop the soil from leaking out of a plant pot. Line a plant pot with a coffee filter to prevent the soil from going through the drainage holes.

11. Prevent a Popsicle from dripping. Poke one or two holes as needed in a coffee filter.

12. Do you think we used expensive strips to wax eyebrows? Use strips of coffee filters..

13. Put a few in a plate and put your fried bacon, French fries, chicken fingers, etc on them. It soaks out all the grease..

14. Keep in the bathroom. They make great "razor nick fixers."

15. As a sewing backing. Use a filter as an easy-to-tear backing for embroidering or appliqueing soft fabrics.

16. Put baking soda into a coffee filter and insert into shoes or a closet to absorb or prevent odors.

17. Use them to strain soup stock and to tie fresh herbs in to put in soups and stews..

18. Use a coffee filter to prevent spilling when you add fluids to your car.

19. Use them as a spoon rest while cooking and clean up small counter spills.

20. Can use to hold dry ingredients when baking or when cutting a piece of fruit or veggies. Saves on having extra bowls to wash.

21. Use them to wrap Christmas ornaments for storage.

22. Use them to remove fingernail polish when out of cotton balls.

23. Use them to sprout seeds. Simply dampen the coffee filter, place seeds inside, fold it and place it into a plastic baggie until they sprout.

24. Use coffee filters as blotting paper for pressed flowers. Place the flowers between two coffee filters and put the coffee filters in phone book...

25. Use as a disposable "snack bowl" for popcorn, chips, etc.

Oh yes, you can also use them to make coffee.

Do you have an everyday item that you repurpose?

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Great book talks about Bobbi's Bargains

Several months ago I had the pleasure of getting interviewed by the lovely Evelyn Sacks. She was doing research on a book about "How to get even more out of your child's day for less."

I had a great time talking with her and sharing some of my bargain viewpoints and tips. (see pages 13, 14 & 94)

Today I received my copy of the book in the mail. It's SUCH a cool book and three whole pages talk about Bobbi's Bargains and my ideas and tips.

I'll be reading the book this weekend while I am at the California Homeschool Network Family Expo where I will be talking about Budgets and Bargains. I'll write more about the book later, but I just wanted to do a little "whoopee" and let you know about the book.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

How the little things add up

Budget Planner -

Nifty little gadget to see how your spending adds up. Click on one of the side tabs and enter the amount of times per week/month you spend on this item. Watch it add up.

If the above picture is too small for you to see, then go here.

Even if you don't spend on these EXACT items, well... you'll get the idea.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Buy a computer for less than $100

From Dangerous Dan:

Believe it or not...

It's small. It's cheap. It ain't a screamer. BUT, it you need a small computer (7" screen) with WiFi, an SD card reader, three USB ports and not a lot of storage (2GB)for a computer that is under $100, then this is your baby.

Or, if you need something a bit bigger and faster (are you an American?) that is a brand name, Dell has your item. It has an Intel 1.66GHz processor, 10.1" widescreen, 1GB RAM, 160GB hard drive, 802.11g wireless, webcam, 6-cell battery, and Windows 7 Starter for a computer that costs $200.

This is a dated posting. As of June 24, 2010 these links were valid.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Appreciation 101

Recently I received an unexpected “Thank You” present. It arrived with a note of appreciation. The gift wasn’t a trip around the world or four dozen long stemmed roses. It was a Klutz book superhero starter kit with a red cape. I had mentioned in a recent article I wrote for Bargain Babe that it was something I would like. Never in a million years did I think anyone would actually get it for me. But the receiving of this item from the Bargain Babe herself, with an acknowledging note means more to me than many, many gifts I have ever received.

Why? Because we all want to have our efforts recognized. We would like to have someone else see that we are working hard and doing the best that we can.

This recognition can be as simple as a nod and a smile or as complicated as having a national holiday proclaimed in your name. There is a lot of ground in between those two extremes. But the important thing is to DO IT!

Too many people go through their lives thinking that they should say something nice to someone and then don't do it. I've even had people tell me that they don't have time to acknowledge the accomplishments of those around them. I say, that they don't have time NOT to notice them. For sure, people don't enjoy working in an environment where their efforts are not noted. If once a day every single person noticed and commented upon another person’s positive attribute or accomplishment, this world would be a much better place to live.

With the advent of online shopping, the momentary desire to acknowledge someone’s efforts is just a few clicks away. is the undisputed online superstore. From one-of-a-kind Star Trek paraphernalia to the always appreciated gift card, there is something for everyone on your thank you list.

But don't feel that you have to buy someone a gift to say "atta boy" or "thank you" or "you're swell." A simple note or email or sincere words goes a long way.

One of the greatest treasures that we have is our ability to make another person feel better about themselves and thus enhance our world. This gift is free, but it is priceless. Spread it around.
A reader just sent me this link that belongs with Appreciation 101. Click, read, cry and learn:
The Teacher

Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Frugal Festival was fabulous

Just need to send a high five to the organizers of the Frugal Festival that occurred this past weekend in North Hollywood, CA. Check out the pictures of 2010 Frugal Festival Summer swap and you'll want to make sure you attend the next one. (Check out the picture of Bargain Babe and me in my fabulous red "appreciation" cape.)

There were mountains of clothes sorted into categories when the swappers entered the building to the cheering and clapping and chatting of "swap, swap" by the volunteers.

It was a bit like watching the running of the brides at the Filene's Basement yearly bridal sale. Those clothes and accessories just vanished - whoosh! Next year, buy your VIP tickets early and get to the front of the line. But, I must say that everyone that was there when the doors opened had stuffed bags when they left.

As a volunteer, I got to choose one item before the "gates" opened. I chose a wonderful leather purse.

If you are in the Los Angeles area, don't miss the next Frugal Festival. If you are in other areas of the country check into swaps in your locale or read up on how to run a swap and create your own.

The swap was hosted by Julia Scott of Bargain Babe and run by the fabulous Swapaholics. Great gals. Lots of fun meeting them and all the volunteers.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Frugal Festival Swap - June 19, 2010 - North Hollywood, CA

A fabulous swap is happening this Saturday, June 19th, 2010 in North Hollywood, CA at 11020 Magnolia, just east of Lankershim. It is the Frugal Festival Summer Swap.

The Frugal Festival is the brainchild of bargainista Julia Scott, Bargain Babe. In its second year, the festival has morphed into an upscale clothing and swap organized by The Swapaholics that promises some awesome scores for attendees.

The swap has very specific rules that will allow for the best swapping. You drop off your swappables from 10 am-noon. Swap starts at 1 pm SHARP and ends at 3 pm. There is a charge to enter the swap - $15 for VIP tickets (which includes front of the line pass and cool swag), $10 for swapping without contributing some of your own stuff to the swap and $5 for swapping with bringing your stuff to swap. You can buy your tickets online at Goldstar.

For all the specifics including the best places to park and special discount deals in area stores for Frugal Festival attendees, check out the very informative Frugal Festival site.

I will definitely be at the swap. I've been making my great pile of fabulous finds to add to the swap for weeks.

Now, if all of this is just too much for you and you are saying, "But Bobbi, we like simple old free swaps." No problem. At 2:00pm, the doors open up and the swap becomes a free swap.

This is going to be a great swap! Hope to see you (and your stuff) there.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Free TV show tickets

Looking for a really fun, educational and free experience? Get a ticket to be part of the audience of a TV show.

Every day in Los Angeles and New York, there are TV shows being filmed that need people to fill the studio audience. Audience members are needed so much that the tickets are always free. Sometimes you can even get paid to be in the audience.

Of course, it is harder to get the super popular shows, but even those can eventually be obtained.

Most shows have age restrictions and dress codes. It is important to follow these guidelines because you will not be allowed in if you don’t follow their rules.

Here are some really good ways to obtain tickets:

Audience Associates – 818-985-8811 – for free tickets to NBC, CBS, Fox and Warner Bros.
Girlfriends, Last Comic Standing, Jay Leno, Wheel of Fortune and more

Audiences Unlimited, Inc – 818-260-0041 – CBS, Fox, NBC, UPN
Accidentally On Purpose, Good Luck Charlie, Rules of Engagement, Two and A Half Men and more

Jimmy Kimmel Live! – 866-546-6984 (call weekdays 1-4pm) – click here for tickets

The Marriage Ref starring Jerry Seinfield - click here for tickets

On camera audiences - Many shows use this service to fill their audiences including: American Idol, Hannah Montana, So You Think You Can Dance?, Dancing with the Stars, and more

The View - click here

If you want to be a game show contestant… click here.

Tickets for The Tonight Show & NBC sitcoms are distributed at the studio’s ticket window the day of taping or by mail. 3000 W. Alameda Ave, LA, CA 818-840-3537

Merv Griffin Productions Wheel of Fortune & Jeopardy 818-482-9840

As with anything free, be prepared to arrive early, wait in line and perhaps find out the audience is full before your turn. Be gracious and have a good time.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Obon Festival - unique family adventure

Looking for something different for a family outing?

From my friend, Naomi, who has helped many, many teens to grow into fine adults has let me know about the ancient Buddhist Obon festivals to honor and remember one's ancestors that includes joyous folk dancing, religious observances and traditional Japanese foods. Apparently this festival is the most authentic cultural event remaining in Japanese America.

Festivals occur at different times at various communities around the world. Seems like a really fun street party with colorful dancers and lots to see the learn about.

Here is the 2010 calendar of Obon events in the Southland. Here is the link to a big West Los Angeles Obon Festival.

Anyone else been to one of these festivals? Share your experiences.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

How to have a fabulous wedding on a shoestring

Do you know what I think is the most financially scary image? A woman with a copy of “Brides” magazine in her hands. It means that this person has entered into a land of overpriced, over hyped, unnecessary desires that promise the perfect day at the possible price of destroying the very union the event is celebrating.

In other words, spending a fortune on a wedding can be dangerous to your marriage.

I’ve seen brides-to-be who are marrying a young man who only has an entry level job INSIST on walking down the aisle in a $1000 dress. The same girl who will need to clip coupons to buy a can of soup will blithely create a wedding day that includes a horse drawn carriage, a sit down dinner for 200 and monogrammed sugar cubes.

There is something about the idea of getting hitched that sends the female population into a veritable vortex of insanity. The first sign is the 400 page bridal magazine clutched firmly to her breast.

The point of no return is the wedding dress. Heed my words here. The price of a wedding will be set by the price of the wedding dress. You simply can not have a small casual justice-of-the-peace ceremony in a $2000 frock. If you have maxed your credit card for an outfit you are only going to wear once…then by golly, you WILL wear it in an appropriate setting with enough people to admire your getup to make it worthwhile and an expensive photographer to capture it all for posterity. This is just a plain truth that I have never seen violated.

Unfortunately, the price of this overindulgence in an attempt to recreate the fairy tale atmosphere seen on the pages of super expensive fashion magazine advertisements and multimillion dollar movie scenes can be a financial burden that a new marriage simply can not endure. Might this have something to do with the high percentage of first marriages that end in divorce?

I am not trying to tell you to have a small, ugly, boring wedding. In fact, I want to tell you that you should have the most creative and loving celebration that you and your fiancé can put together. BUT, it should be done on a shoestring.

Life insists that you be creative. Life insists that you be capable of figuring out how to have the best time on limited resources. If you don’t learn to do this, then your ship will sink from the weight of unnecessary cargo.

If you and your husband-to-be can not figure out how to throw a great party without going into massive debt or blowing your savings or expecting daddy to pay for it… then how in the world do you think you will maneuver your way through the financial landmines of today’s world?

I just returned from a wedding that perfectly accomplished what I am trying to tell you here. There were hundreds of people at this event. The overall cost of the function was a tiny fraction of what most people pay for even a small get-together. How did this couple pull off this miracle?

They invited the world and then got everyone to help them create this special event.

I first heard about this wedding in an article I read in my local newspaper. In the article, the soon to be bride and groom invited EVERYONE to their wedding. Yes, you read correctly. Anyone who heard about the wedding was invited. People were to bring their own picnic and blankets. The wedding couple would provide music, cake and beverages.

Of course, I had to attend… if only to see how they pulled this off.

The ceremony and reception all took place in what had been an overgrown piece of land just off a side road that has been transformed into a park-like setting. The groom had taken it upon himself over a year ago to change this wasteland into something lovely for the community. He started clearing the land, cutting back overgrown trees, and making stone sculptures. During the holidays he theme decorated – pumpkins for Halloween, hearts for Valentine’s Day, and Santa hats for Christmas. He even proposed to his wife with a big sign he placed in the park.

So, of course, the wedding was in the park. His friends donated their specialties – a band, singers, videographer, a bagpipe player, a huge wedding cake, blankets for the ground, popups for shade, flowers and who knows what else.

Oh what a celebration! Oh what happiness. Oh what a great marriage this is going to be.

I’m pretty sure that there were some things that had to be paid for, but at the end of the day, there was a loving and lively party that left everyone happy but not broke. Now there is a marriage that I bet will last.

It is my wish for you, my dear readers, that your matrimonial launching will be an adventure that gives you and your spouse a chance to learn the joy of creating together, in financial sanity, one moment after another that brings happiness not only to yourselves but to those around you.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Jet Propulsion Lab open house - May 15 & 16, 2010

For those of you interested in space, rockets and the like, the Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) in Pasadena, CA is having an open house this weekend.

Here is an opportunity to go through the guarded gates and learn a thing or two about what goes on at JPL. A fabulous free family field trip, especially for anyone who has a child interested in this field.

If you are reading this post and the open house date has passed, do not despair. JPL opens their doors to the public at least once a year, so you can catch the next one.

There is also what appears to be a really cool virtual tour of the Jet Propulsion Lab. I say "appears to be" because I just could not get it to load on my computer. Perhaps you will have better luck.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Free comic book day 2010

No kidding. Free comic book day is the first Saturday of May each year. This year, the first Saturday is May 1, 2010.

Comic book stores all over North America and the world will be giving away free comic books.

Find your closest participating store here.

Which free comic did you choose?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Commit random acts of kindness

Yesterday while working on ridding my garden of its ample supply of weeds, I noticed the little postal truck making its way up my very steep street. It was a hot day and I was sweating and thought about how warm the postal worker (in her non-breathing polyester postal uniform must be.) So I went into the house and got a glass of ice water and handed it to her as she arrived at my mailbox. She gladly took the cold beverage and thanked me profusely telling me it was exactly what she needed. Refreshed, she went on her way to continue delivering the mail to the rest of my neighbors.

This random act of kindness took me about a minute and cost next to nothing. Why did I do it? Because I would want someone to do it for me. Because I know that kindness begets kindness and cruelty brings on cruelty. Who knows how my tiny uplifting moment effected the rest of her day. Who knows how it effected the lives of others that she touched. A little bit of caring goes a long way. A smile can change someone's life. Plus, I guarantee that YOU will have a better day if you fill it with actions that make others feel better.

Still not sure? Watch some of these videos.

Everyday acts of kindness awards

Try to treat others as you want to be treated

People doing the right thing

The Web as random acts of kindness

Have a kind day. It's free.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Bobbi's Bargains guest blogging on Bargain Babe blog

What could be finer than a romp through flower fields?

How about finding out that Bobbi will be a regular guest blogger on the Bargain Babe blog?

Check out my official introduction and my first post on (of course) garage sales. You can also read up on my insights into decorating Easter eggs.

Go check out Bargain Babe's site. Subscribe to her email list so you won't miss any of my invaluable tips.

Feel free to write comments letting the world know how much you enjoy my posts! It will make my day and then I will really romp through the flowers.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

OK Go - This Too Shall Pass - Rube Goldberg-like Machine Video

When I was little, I used to go to an amusement park in Southwestern Pennsylvania called, Kennywood Park. Kennywood was known for it's antique merry-go-round and roller coasters. However, I loved Kennywood because of a small attraction (in a glassed case) that housed a Rube Goldberg contraption. I was fascinated watching how all the gears, strings, old boots, bowling balls and other assorted odds and ends were used to do a simple task like "open a door."

Now, one of my favorite artists, Rube Goldberg, has inspired a music video that is quickly going viral. Be one of the first million to view OK Go's new video "This Too Shall Pass."

I've also included the followup videos on the "making of" TTSP.


Wednesday, March 3, 2010

California and Worldwide Library Search

Anyone that knows me, knows that I simply love libraries. I think that they are one of the greatest assets we have. I also love that there is something that is being done with my tax dollars that I agree with.

I just found this great site where you can search for materials and find out which libraries have it.

I have this very, very rare book that I always search for when I am looking to see how good a book search engine is. My rare book is a children's book called, "Boppet, please stop it" by Ida Binney. It is without a doubt my favorite children's book. We had a copy of it when I was a little girl and it is just a great read. When the great family estate was distributed, my nephew got the book. Of course, he currently has the youngest child in the family, so I guess it is only fair that he have the book. I certainly hope he is taking care of it.

But, I have lost the point of this post. This really cool search engine where you can search for your needed material. You can search specific areas of California or the entire world. Cool.

The search will let you know where you can find your needed book, manuscript, tape, article, etc. The libraries are listed out starting with the one nearest to you.

The name of the search site? Simple enough... California Libraries Catalog...

Happy reading.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Free Paper Toys

When I was teaching crafts at a school with a limited art budget, I became quite adept at coming up with art projects that required nothing more than paper, scissors and some folding skills.

Oh, I surely wish that I had known about Marilyn Scott-Waters' wonderful free paper toys site. I think we would have made each and every project on her list.

There are dozens and dozens of simply beautiful projects. I think my favorite two are the Penny Butterfly (design and color the wings, then place a penny on each wingtip and balance on your finger) and Fairy Furniture.

Marilyn's whimsy and joyful-create communicates in all that she does. Reading her journal and looking at her artwork just made me want to invite her over for a cup of tea served in little buttercups.

If you are a parent, art teacher or lover of things whimsical, check out these creations. They are sure to become favorites of your little (and not so little) artists.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Maker Faire 2010 coming to New York, Detroit and the Bay area

If you have been following my blog, you will know that I am a huge fan of Maker Faire - the DIYer's Disneyland.

Our family has been making a yearly pilgrimage to the weekend long cutting-edge tech, craft and eco-friendly event since its inception.

You can read my past posts on Maker Faire here.

I've always felt sorry for my East Coast friends who were never going to have a chance to experience this ultimate field trip.

Now, I don't have to feel sorry for them any longer (well, at least not about this... I still feel sorry that they have to shovel tons of snow while I luxuriate in my flip flops and short sleeves in December).

Maker Faire is coming to Detroit and New York!

Get out your calendars. Circle the dates and make your hotel reservations. You do NOT want to miss this.

Bay Area

May 22nd and 23rd, 2010
San Mateo County Event Center
San Mateo, Calif.

Detroit Maker Faire 2010 Detroit
July 31st and August 1st, 2010
Henry Ford Museum
Dearborn, Mich.

New York
September 25th and 26th, 2010
New York Hall of Science
Flushing Meadows Corona Park
Queens, NY

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A couple fun sites

I just ran across some new and fun daily bargain sites that you might enjoy:

Koupon Karen - oh gosh, this site is fun. Lots of freebies, hot deals and coupons.

If you are into impulse bargain buying, then you might want to check out - they have "today only" super deals.

Hope you enjoy these two sites.

Remember, Bobbi's Bargains is not about letting you know about the latest $1 off coupon. My job is to let you know where to find the latest $1 off coupon and even better, how to get the item for free!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Tips for posting items for sale on Craigslist

Price items with pictures.

State your specific price. Note whether it is firm or best offer.

Only one item per listing.

Make the subject heading indicate exactly what you are selling.

To avoid spammers and con artists - state local pick ups only. Cash only.

Be real about your pricing. I don't care that you paid $500 for the chair 10 years ago. You are only going to get MAX $50 for it now. Maybe less. Probably less. Be glad that you don't have to pay to get someone to take it away for you. Sorry....

You may need to post several times. Most people do not look past the first two pages when searching. I've had people tell me that they posted on Craigslist and "nothing happened" but when I asked more questions I found out that they only posted once and without a picture because it was "too much trouble."

Make sure that your spelling and grammar are correct in your ad. It makes you sound more real and honest. Don't use your real email. Use the made up ones that you get from Craigslist. You can use your real email when you respond to specific inquiries.

Hope this helps.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

A Valentine's Day to Remember

The following article was written by me and featured as the cover story in February issue of the Voice of the Village newspaper. It is my gift to you, my readers, on this Valentine's Day. - Bobbi

I have discovered one of the happiest jobs on the planet – Valentine’s Day Flower Delivery Person. It’s like Santa Claus with petals! Who doesn’t like getting flowers?... especially on Valentine’s Day.

How did I make this discovery? Well, I know someone, who knows someone, whose twin sister owns a flower shop. So of course, when I heard that they needed extra help for Valentine’s Day deliveries, I said, “Yes! That sounds like fun!”

Now, let me tell you, I thought I knew something about flower shops. I had been in one once or twice. R-i-i-i-ght! I knew NOTHING about flower shops. Running a flower shop is HARD work. I don’t mean that you have long hours or have to think hard (which is true) … I mean, physical, HARD work.

First of all, most of the flowers we see in Los Angeles aren’t grown in the city. They are grown elsewhere and are then picked and packaged in such a way that they can survive the rugged treatment that they will meet on a trip which is sometimes half way around the world. They arrive at a district flower mart where they are sold to a local florist, put back on a truck and delivered to the shop. Now, these flowers have to be unpacked, trimmed and placed in water and refrigerated. (All this, by the way, is done standing up. I didn’t see one chair in the entire shop and no one ever seems to sit down.)

It is only at this point, that the flowers have a chance of making it into the hands of the (sound the trumpets, please) floral designers. The flowers get placed into individually designed arrangements, packaged to be shipped again, and then delivered to the recipient of all this hard work…. that special someone…. your Valentine! Wow!

Now, who wouldn’t want to deliver THAT present? How many people had to work how many hours to create this lovely gift?

Walking into an office or house with a huge (or small) Valentine’s bouquet in your hands is like walking in with The Crown Jewels. My entrance brings ooohs and aahs and admiration for the flowers and the lucky recipient who has someone in their lives who cares enough to present them with such a precious treasure.

My first delivery was a huge arrangement of long-stemmed roses from an “on-again-off-again” boyfriend. (This relationship condition was explained by the recipient to her admiring co-workers as she read the attached card.) Hopefully this large token of his affection bought him a bit of “on-againness.”

The next delivery was to the most important client…. the mother of the owner of the shop. She received (appropriately) the biggest and most beautiful arrangement of them all.

A very special moment occurred when I delivered flowers to someone in a beautiful, large house in an exclusive area of town. The stylish woman who opened the door was very nice, but indicated that she was not the recipient of the flowers but was only a friend staying “in this expensive world” while recovering from an illness. She said that my “Happy Valentine’s Day” greeting was the only one that she expected to get that day, but that when one has been sick, just finding out that the lab test results are “clean” was enough to make each day special. We mutually admired the blue sky and I went to my car and she went into the house. I had a few long stemmed roses in my back seat that I had taken to replace any that might get broken in transit. On impulse, I grabbed one of those roses and went back and rang the doorbell again. When she opened the door, I handed her the rose and said, “Happy Valentine’s Day.” She started to cry. I started to cry. We hugged. I’m glad that I did that… although technically, it was not my rose to give, I’m pretty sure that the wonderful owner of the shop I was working for, would have approved. I’m glad that I did it. It was important.

Moving along, I continued to dole out my Flower Claus gifts to the expecting and non-expecting. Eventually, there were only two arrangements left in my car. Both were going to health care facilities. The first one went to a woman in a nursing home. She was so old and frail that I don’t think that she even realized that the flowers were there. Walking the halls and seeing the elderly people in their wheel chairs, staring blankly at the walls, made me sad. It seemed like such a waste and a horrible way to end life.

Next was my final delivery. I found the hospital and parked in a no parking/delivery only zone (I always wanted to do that.) I made my way to the appropriate floor and door. As I entered the room, I realized that this was not just a Valentine’s Bouquet…. This was a “New Baby” Bouquet. All of a sudden, I was face to face with a brand new mommy, a brand new daddy and a brand new baby. What a twist of fate…. the circle of life within 10 minutes.

Feeling uplifted and hopeful, I returned to home base – the flower shop. Here, the store was still abuzz with late Valentine’s Day activity – husbands picking up flowers for their wives on their way home from work, last minute orders coming in by fax, the designers STILL going non-stop on making arrangements. The regular workers had hours to go, but my Flower Claus duties were done.

I took off my FTD florist apron and handed in my route sheets. I thanked everyone for allowing me to glimpse their world. I took a deep breath of the heady flower smell that I had gotten used to over the last few days and towing a huge Happy Valentine’s Day helium balloon behind me, I bid them all adieu.

My view of flowers, delivery people and Valentine’s Day had been changed forever. It was not just about the money or the work. Each flower, each bouquet, each arrangement is the end result of hours and days and weeks of labor and attention by many people, that have given of themselves, so that the colors and smells of fresh flowers could communicate to all who pass by the very important message that this world can and is beautiful… if you only stop and smell the roses.

Creative Commons License
A Valentine's Day to Remember by Bobbi Burger Brunoehler is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

See We are the World 25 for Haiti video

I love this song. I love what it stands for. I love the fact that the husband of one of my dearest friends has been on the front lines helping in the "hospitals" in Haiti. You can read his story here.

Watch the new video. Help how you can. Remember that there are people much closer than Haiti that need your help. Perhaps as close as your neighbor. Reach out and help another.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Free Admissions on Presidents Day

Looking for something fun and frugal to do on Presidents Day?

Target has been sponsoring free days at museums around the country this year. Presidents Day is one of those days for some museums. Click here to find out where and when the Target Family Free Days are in your area.

Do a web search using the words "free admission on Presidents Day"+"your state/home town."

Here are some results:

New York City:

The New York Historical Society

The Metropolitan Museum of Art (free admission for family up to 5 in number Feb 12-21, 2010)

The Henry Ford Museum

Of course, most museums and libraries having to do with the US Presidents have free admission and programs on Presidents Day:
Nixon Library
Reagan Library
Clinton Library
Kennedy Museum

Please note that due to the huge snow storm in the Northeast, some activities may be canceled like the Alexanderia, Virginia celebrations. So, if you are in that area, check to make sure the event is still happening.

Apparently, the Northeast is going to hold all its Presidents Day events as snowball fights. Check your local blogs and friends in the know to see if there is one scheduled in your area. Meanwhile, check out the massive snowball fight in Washington, DC.

and then a few days later a rematch was arranged

Monday, February 8, 2010

Send a "Wicked" Valentine

The promotion department of the Broadway Musical "Wicked" has come up with a nice little gimmick for those of us who love the show's music.

You can customize a free Valentine's card for your love with images and music from the soundtrack.

Of course, there is also a link to buy tickets to the show or download (not for free) the songs from iTunes or buy the album from their online store.

I love the show and have seen it with my daughter three times. As the bargain queen, I buy the cheapest seats (first row in the top tier during the week) and we bring our binoculars.

I'm sure there are going to be other great free email valentine sites. Please let my other readers know about them buy placing a comment.

Be My Valentine!

2010 Super Bowl XLIV Commercials

What does this posting have to do with bargains?

You didn't have to spend Sunday afternoon watching the Super Bowl just to see the commercials. Think of the time you saved.

Here they are.

<a href="" target="_new" title="Snickers: Betty White">Video: Snickers: Betty White</a>
Click here to see all the commercials.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Send Baby Mail just like the Super Bowl E*Trade commercials

If you liked Elf Yourself, then you are sure to life Baby Mail. You can type in your message and it will translate into a male or female voice (your choice) with a video of a baby.

You can upload your own pictures and record (via phone or mic) your own voice.

Send a Baby Mail. It's sure to crash the servers in the next 24 hours and make lots of money for E*Trade.

The same group that is bringing you Baby Mail for E*Trade is bringing you Avatarize Yourself for McDonalds.

Be the first to send these to your friends.


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Grammar Girl - quick and dirty grammar tips

Want to sound like you went to an Ivy League school? Use proper grammar. Want to sound like an illiterate boob? Don't use proper grammar. It's pretty basic.

I must admit that I am not always the Queen of Grammar, but I know a link to someone that is:
Grammar Girl.

Using proper grammar in resumes and letters to potential employers is a sure way to improve your chances of getting hired.

If you are unsure of your abilities in this area, ask for a friend to help you by proofreading your work.

Another fun site for the grammar minded is A Way With Words radio program.

Now... please don't start sending me emails correcting my grammar. I'm working on it.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Rights and Responsibilities when you turn 18 years old

I am constantly amazed when I talk to 19 and 20 year olds to find out that they have already trashed their credit or were taken in by some scam on the internet. Or worse, that they have unwittingly committed and been convicted of some minor crime that is going to be on their record for the rest of their lives.

When someone turns 18 years old in the United States, the rules of the game change.

It is important that you know the rules so that you don't pay for your ignorance. If you have teens that are turning 18 or have turned 18, make sure that they are aware of their new rights and responsibilities. They will save a ton of money by NOT making mistakes that have high fines or lifelong consequences attached to them.

This is a link to a pamphlet created by the California Bar Foundation entitled:
"When you become 18 - A survival guide for teenagers"
If that link doesn't work, then click here.

This pamphlet is specific to California law, but much of it is true no matter where you live in the United States. Many other states have created similar pamphlets, so if you live elsewhere you can probably find one specific for your state by searching for "turning 18"+"name of state"

Make sure your teen is educated in their new rights and responsibilities.

(Note: the link to this pamphlet changed and is now correct in link above.)

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Fix sagging auto headliner for a dollar

When I first moved out to sunny (translation: HOT) southern California, my poor aged east coast car reacted badly.

First, my rear view mirror fell off my wind shield. The intense heat melted the glue and the weight of my 50-foot rear view mirrors just caused them to plop onto the floor - yikes!

Then, the fabric on the inside roof of the car started to sag. What the heck? I never saw such a thing. Apparently the intense heat of the sun pounding on the roof has some chemical reaction with the foam that is between the metal and the fabric and horribly enough, the fabric starts to sag into the car. It can get so bad that you just can't even drive the car anymore.

Before I could even find out what to do to solve my problem, I had to figure out what to name my problem in order to search for a solution. It took quite awhile before I figured out that people in the automotive repair world call this geriatric auto ailment a "sagging headliner." Who knew? I thought a sagging headliner was a past-her-prime thespian's body condition prior to plastic surgery.

First, I called around to find out how much it would cost to get a new headliner put in. The estimates varied, but all of them were higher than the value of the car.

Then, I decided to find out how to fix it myself. I am an extremely good researcher and a fairly awesome do-it-yourselfer, but when I found these instructions on how to take out the old lining, scrape off the old foam, cut a new liner, spray the new liner and glue it back in, I decided there HAD to be a better way.

Then, finally I found one little website that advertised these little buggers...

These are called, appropriately, Saggy Stoppers. You can find them in most auto repair stores. They sell 6 of them for between $4 and $6 dollars. This was amazing! But then, I recalled that this little metal screw with a clear plastic top was exactly what my mother used to use to keep the armrest protectors on the couch in our living room.

So, I found a local upholstery shop (they DO still exist) and bought a dozen of these little babies for a dollar! Screwed them into the headliner in a lovely pattern and no more problem.

For those of you who still want to try and replace your headliner yourself, here is a video to show you how to do it. Good luck!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Really Really Free Swap in Pasadena on Saturday, January 30, 2010

For my bargain friends who are in the Los Angeles area.... there is a Really, Really Free Swap and Potluck on Saturday, January 30th from 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm.

(Note to my readers that are not in the LA area.... don't be bummed that this swap isn't near you... find out how to have a free swap and create one in YOUR area. They are easy and fun.)

The Really Really Free Swap this Saturday is being put on by the Arroyo Time Bank which is a barter group centered in the Pasadena, California area. I am looking forward to learning more about this barter group and meeting some really cool people. Of course, I'm looking to score some great swap items as well.

So, here are the particulars:

Arroyo Center for the Arts
145 N Raymond Ave
Pasadena, CA 91103

Free parking is available in the surrounding streets north of Walnut and in the Courtyard Marriot parking lot for 90 minutes. The Armory is easily accessible from the Memorial Park Gold Line stop.

Free Food - Free Fun - Free Music - Free Clothes

You can bring your kids. They will have fun and find new toys.

Bring things you don't want and take whatever you want! You can also share
your skills, stories, smiles, friendship and ideas.

Rumor has it that there might be dancing - yahoo!

Additional information:

As with any swap, it is good manners to bring gently used swap items that are in good shape. If it is broken or dirty, don't bring it.

Free swap, means free swap. You bring stuff you don't want anymore and you put it down and leave it on the table. Someone else comes by and says, "wow, I like this" and now that item belongs to them. Ta-da! Really, really free swap.

I've been informed that the potluck is optional... but again, good form is to always bring something to a potluck.

See you there.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Organic Fruits & Veggies delivered to your door

Want to know the best bargain? Good health. Think of the money that you save by having a healthy body. One of the things you can do to maintain good health is to eat organic fruits and vegetables.

After years of looking, I finally found a company that will deliver organic fruits and veggies right to my door! If you live in California, you can use them too. If you don't live in California, check out the list at the end of this article to find an organic delivery service in your area.

I've tried going to the Farmer's Market, but I seem to never be in the right neighborhood at the right time. Plus, I've got to say that I spend every last penny (literally) that I have when I go to the farmer's market. The urge to impulse buy is just too much for me.

I also considered joining a group that had a weekly drop off time at a local park. This seemed like a good idea, but it would have meant dedicating my Saturday mornings to picking up this produce and I just didn't want to do that.

Finally, I found Farm Fresh to You. I'm very happy with my experience with this group.

Here is the deal.

1. You pick the kind of items you want - just fruit, just veggies or a mixed box of both.

2. You pick the size of the box.

3. You pick the frequency of delivery.

4. You can cancel at any time.

5. They deliver to your door in recyclable boxes. You don't have to be home to receive shipment.

6. You can mark permanent exclusions for items you never want.

7. You can check out the list of items in this week's shipment ahead of time and make changes.

8. They have great customer service. If there is a mistake, they gladly will make up for it.

9. All organic. All local farmers.

10. Items look and taste great.

11. Their prices are not super cheap, but organic food never is. However, for the quality, the savings on gas and time PLUS no impulse buys on my part, I think this is a great deal.

I really like this service. I think you might like them also. So, here is how you can try them out and get a discount.

Go to and check out the info on the site. When you are ready to sign up, click on sign up. Enter promo code 6164 and you will get $5 off your first order.

Where it says "How did you hear of us" click on "other." If you then put in "other/detail" the numbers 104380, I will get a credit. This would be a nice validation for me and help support my blog.

Unfortunately, Farm Fresh to You only delivers in California. However, other areas have similar programs.

Seattle, Washington area - New Roots Organics
New York, NY - Urban Organic
Colorado, Michigan, Kansas City & New England - Door to Door Organics
London, England - The Organic Delivery Company
Melbourne, Australia - Organic Angels

If you are not in any of these areas, you can search the term "organic food delivery"+"name of your area" and see what comes up.

Please let me know if you use Farm Fresh to You and how it works for you. If you use another service, please place a comment so that others can learn from you.

Here's to good veggies and good health.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Support your local closeout store

I am always on the look out for new closeout stores. Little shops that some entrepreneurial sort has found the guts to open up.

My favorite store of all time - Gabriel Brothers - was just a little hut at the end of a dead end alley the first time I ever saw it. Now it there are dozens of Gabriel Brothers stores spread throughout Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Maryland. Their slogan is "Gabes - you've got to love it" and it is true. There is nothing like Gabes.


Every once in awhile I see the glimmer, the spark, the possibility of another Gabes. A place where you can get brand new, name brand clothes at truly deep discount.

Recently, I was crossing through a strip mall parking lot and lo and behold there was a new store with the cherished words "closeout" on a sign in the window.

Had to check it out.

Well, I met the charming Rosa Patricia Macias who is the owner of Paty's Discount Closeout Store.

Rosa is trying... she is really trying to have a store that has great deals.

I found a brand new cardigan-type chain knit sweater that clasps at the top. I love it. It is perfect. It cost $7.99. I am happy.

The store is on the corner of Gladstone and Hubbard in Sylmar, California. She is open 10am to 8pm most days.

So, is this the very best closeout store that I was ever in? No. But, it is good and it has possibilities. I found something I liked and I think most people will. Only by supporting the little startup independent closeout stores will they have a chance to survive.

The store phone number is 818-362-6448. When you go into Paty's, be sure to tell her that you read about the store on Bobbi's Bargains.

Do you have a local closeout store or consignment store in your area? Please leave a comment with their address so that other people can support your local store. If they can't pay their rent, then they can't keep looking for bargains for us.

Happy Bargain Shopping!