Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Bargain Bounty Hunter

Like many people, I have certain products that I consider to be my go-to, favorite, or "holy grail", if you will. For me, one of these products is Sally Hansen Insta-Dri No Chip Top Coat for my nails.  It's the only top coat I use, and I've never had a complaint about it. Normally when I'm running low, I pick a bottle up at CVS for about $7.50.  That price runs right about what Seche Vite top coat costs (another holy grail product in the nail polish world), so I never really thought much about it.


About a week ago, I was shopping at Drug Mart (it's an Ohio thing) and happened to notice this same top coat was priced at about $4.99. I was a little miffed at having overspent on so many bottles of this stuff over the last couple years, but I chalked it up to live-and-learn and made a mental note to purchase my next bottle at Drug Mart. That is, until I saw it selling at Target for about $3.50.  Then I was mad.  Not mad at CVS, Drug Mart, Target or Sally Hansen, but more mad at the situation that I had never even thought that I could find it for less and just kept on paying over double the price without question. This little incident sent me on a mission to find out what else I might be over-paying for.

I started by listing all the stores where I normally shop (Target, CVS and Drug Mart being my main stores, and Walgreens, Ulta and Rite Aid thrown in because sometimes I'll pop in there just to see if anything good is on sale), and then listing all the products I use on a regular basis.  Right now I have confined the list to cosmetics , hygiene and pet products, but groceries can be added later.

Next, I created a spreadsheet (with Tall Cute Guy's help) on Google Docs (Google Drive, whatever it's called now) with all this information.  The hard part was then going to all these stores and writing down the base prices for each and every single item on my list.  I'm pretty sure the store clerks thought I was either crazy, shoplifting, or both the way I kept bouncing around from aisle to aisle for about 30 minutes, then leaving without buying anything. It took a a few days to gather all my prices and enter them into the spreadsheet, but now that it's done (with the exception of Rite Aid), I can tell you it's worth it.

Click to enlarge
The two columns at the end are set up to show the lowest of all the prices I entered for a particular item and which store that price is associated with.  Then I know to buy THAT item at THAT store unless I have a coupon or another deal at a different store that can beat that price.

I added a column after the item names so that I could input a numerical code telling me what level of "need" I had for the products.  Level 1 is "in stock, don't need any", Level 2 is "starting to run low, begin to check circulars for deals", and Level 3 is "out of stock, get off your butt and go buy at the Best Store listed price NOW".  Normally I would have just highlighted the product names in green, yellow and red to tell me this, but Google spreadsheets does not currently have the ability to sort by color like I wanted.  Ergo, the extra column with the numerical code and conditional formatting to add the color automatically.  Below is what the spreadsheet looks like when I have sorted it according to "need":

Click to enlarge
A few things to mention/add:

1. I have both Target and Target Online listed as retailers. This is because some items are available in store, online, or both, and this helps me remember that.  For the most part, Target's in-store and online prices have matched up.

2. The prices shown for Target and Target Online are not what the price tags actually listed.  Because I have a Target Red (Debit) Card, I get 5% off my purchases, and always have free shipping from Target Online.  I entered my data to already show that discounted price to accurately generate my best price and best store data.

3. I ended up entering a store called Earth Fare (think Trader Joe's or Whole Foods) as a retailer mainly because I am currently in love with Dr. Bronner's Magic Soap products.  Until now I have been purchasing these goodies from Target. The other day, Tall Cute Guy and I stopped in Earth Fare just to scope it out, and imagine my surprise when I saw that they not only carried a much larger selection of Dr. Bronner products, but at MUCH lower prices than Target!  Overall, Target is winning as my "Best Store" according to my spreadsheet, and normally I associate organic/health food stores as having higher retail prices.  This was a double whammy on selection and price, so I added it to my list.

4. I did not include Walmart as a retailer.  I hate Walmart.

This spreadsheet has only been in existence for a few days and already it's helping me save money.  And, in a sick-nerdy way, it's fun sorting the sheet by brand, item, need level, etc.  I've caught myself staring at it for no reason.  It's sort of like pricing-data porn...


Monday, January 21, 2013

Pill Popper

Hello all!  I just got home from having a root canal, so yeah, I'm feeling awesome.  (That was sarcasm.) Actually, this was Root Canal-The Sequel, since the endodontist began the job a month ago, but just as the appointment was ending and I thought I was free, he mentioned that I would have to let the medicine he injected into the roots sit in there for a month.  I was instructed to come back in 4 weeks so I could sit though everything AGAIN and then I'd be done.  Stupid tooth.  Needless to say I've had better mornings.  But, having this done reminded me that I wanted to share a new-to-me-iPhone app that I started using last month after Root Canal-Part One.

After that first appointment, I was in a LOT of pain.  Even though the nerve in my tooth was gone, the pressure of having the medication injected into the roots caused irritation up in my bone above the tooth and it felt like I had been hit in the face with a baseball bat.  I called the endodontist and he was nice enough to give me some pain meds which I was to take in conjunction with standard ibuprofen.  The addition of this new pain-management routine plus the medications I take on a daily basis anyway became a little too much for me to remember.  Putting them all on a to-do list or my calender cluttered things up too much, so I began looking for an iPhone app that was designed specifically for this purpose.

After looking at a few, I finally decided on the app "Pillboxie".

You can enter all the medications you take, enter their dosage details, set a schedule, and view your medication history.
For each medication, you can edit how it appears and make it look as close to the real thing as possible.
To set the schedule, you actually drag and drop the pills into a little pill container !
You can set reminders for multiple users.  My cat Binx is listed as a user so I remember to give him his antibiotic!
Also, you can set different music to play for each user so you know who's alarm it is when it goes off.  Mine sounds like a harpsichord, and Binx's sounds like hand bells.  Too cute!  If you happen to be busy or driving when the alarm goes off, there is a snooze function you can press to remind you again in a few minutes.  Very helpful.  

So, that's Pillboxie.  It's cute and it works, 'nough said.  It's currently listed at the price of $0.99 cents.

I'm exhausted, time for a nap.


Thursday, January 17, 2013

All Lacquered Up

Some of you may remember back in the day I wrote this post about how I was going to dedicate my Sundays to being my "pamper mission" days.  Back then I couldn't paint my nails because I was working for a living history museum, so instead I choose to paint my toes.  Well, you could say that is is one FlyLady habit that actually stuck with me all this time, only it's grown from being a once-a-week  activity to nearly a full-blown obsession.

I noticed that right after I left the museum I started painting my finger nails on a more regular basis, simply because I could.  After awhile, I started to like it, a LOT.  I felt so put-together and girly when my nails were painted, and I felt that it showed other people that I put effort into taking care of myself.  I began to do searches online for nail polish reviews so I could stop wasting my time and money on polishes that didn't apply well/would look horrible on me.  That's when I discovered the world of Beauty-Bloggers.  Holy crap.  There are a TON of them out there, and they have sucked me into their little universe of nail polish swatches, lipstick reviews, dupe alerts, etc.  I believe one of the first beauty blogs I started to read on a regular basis was Nouveau Cheap written by a woman we simply know as "G".  She focuses mainly on drugstore products which is totally fine by me and my debit card.  It was through G that I began to try products by the classic cheap-o brand Wet 'n' Wild, a line of products that I had never used even as a poor teenager because I was under the (mistaken) impression that cheap=crap.  I was soooo wrong!  I currently use their nail polish, mascara and eye shadows, and all fall into what I call my "Holy Grail" beauty products.

Now, I know this isn't a beauty blog.  I have tinkered with the idea of starting one but have decided it would just be another project that I would put a lot of time and energy into only to fizzle out and abandon.  Plus, at this point the internet is so saturated with beauty bloggers I highly doubt I would ever make a name for myself among them.  I'm not looking to be the go-to nail polish swatch and review gal.  If someone happens to come across one of my beauty-related posts during a Google search and it helps them out, well that's all I could hope for.  So-from now on my FlyLady related posts will also have a dose of girly-makeup stuff sprinkled in.  If you don't like it, I'm sure there is an unsubscribe button around here somewhere... (I'm just kidding, please don't leave me!)

I figure I will start things off by showing you whatever nail polish I am wearing when the mood strikes me.  Today is Wet 'n' Wild MegaLast "I Need a Refresh-Mint":
Despite "mint" being in the name, this color leans very blue.  Tiffany-blue to be exact.  It is one of several polishes that came out in the last few years that tried to mimic the signature Tiffany & Co. robin's egg/teal shade of blue that they are known for.  I have to say, WnW did I really great job with this one, and it only costs $1.99! You may also notice that it almost matches my blog's background color.  When I designed this blog, I tried to pick a color that was Tiffany-blueish.

I do feel the need to mention that the formula of this polish was a bit hard to work with for me- it didn't seem to want to apply evenly and would start what is known as "balding" when I began to add my second coat.  I ended up changing the brush for a smaller one from an old SinfulColors polish I didn't like, and the smaller brush helped a tiny bit with my control of the product.  I also added a little bit of nail polish thinner (not nail polish REMOVER, don't do that!) since my bottle was a little thick.

Despite my efforts, I still don't find it the easiest polish to work with, so I don't wear it that often.  I pulled it out 2 nights ago assuming I was going to struggle all over again, but for some reason the nail polish gods were smiling down on me and it ended up being one of the best polish-jobs I have ever done, in any color!  The photo was taken after 48 hours of wear.

Manicure ingredients:
1 coat CND Stickey Base Coat
3 coats Wet 'n'Wild "I Need a Refresh-Mint"
1 coat Sally Hansen Insta-Dri No Chip Top Coat.  (Don't even get me started on chipped nails.  I'll save that rant for another day.)

Oh, and since I used my iPhone to take the photo, I figured I'd also include a photo from a REAL beauty blogger and not a hack-job like me:
                                    Source: via Chandra on Pinterest

OK, time to go, the Tall Cute Guy is going to be here soon!


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

BabyStep1: Meet the Newest FlyGuy!

Hello lovelies! Today I have the pleasure of introducing you to the newest FlyLady hostage  member, and ladies- keep your hands to yourself because he's MINE.  I'll cut you.  Just kidding.  (Maybe).  Anyway, please welcome to our little cult, standing at 6'5" tall, the newest FlyGuy, "The Tall Cute Guy"!
Me convincing the Tall Cute Guy why he should try FlyLady-ing with me.
In actuality, he really didn't need much convincing.  (The above photo was taken on our second date, and we were just joshing around for the camera.)  I briefly mentioned the idea to him last week and didn't get much of a response, but then I flat out and asked him if he would do it the other night and he said yes.  Very little whining involved on my part.  Sweet.

Yesterday after work I went over to TCG's apartment and was prepared to do a little FlyLady planning session.  You know, explain the system, get signed up for the emails, yada yada yada.  Imagine my surprise when he told me he had already gone onto and looked up information on where he should begin!  The following conversation went something like this:

TCG: "So, apparently the first thing I'm supposed to do is shine my sink.  I don't really get that".

Me: [Begins to prepare speech in head about WHY it's the first step and how he really needs to do it, even if he doesn't understand it, because that's how you're supposed to start FlyLady and why can't you just do what she/I tell you to do, you're already backing out of this, and , and AND...]

TCG: "So I went to the store after work and bought some bleach and Comet because that's what FlyLady said to use."  [Pulls the cleaning supplies out of the cupboard]

Me: [Speechless]

I really didn't know what to say!  I am so used to people questioning/mocking the FlyLady system and running for the hills if I ask them to participate, I really wasn't expecting him to be such a willing and involved participant!  I wasn't even prepared to take photos of the sink-scrubbing process and didn't have a real camera with me, so I had to settle for sub-par iPhone pics.

Sink before.  He had already taken the dishes out and started to
clean when I yelled at him to stop so I could take a  "before" picture.
Doesn't he know how blogging works?
Soaking in the bleach water for an hour (I still don't understand this step).
The following video was taken as the sink was soaking in the bleach water and the Tall Cute Guy started to use his pocketknife to scrape the gunk out from around the edges (please ignore my cackling laugh):

Scrubbing with the Comet.  He didn't have rubber gloves, so he used a
plastic bag from Target to protect his hands.  Classy!
All done!  Ooooo, shiny!
After it was all over, he was EXHAUSTED!  I told him that was partially the point, IMO.  Doing all that manual labor makes you never want to have to do it again, preventing you from mucking it up so badly in the future.

Commentary from the Tall Cute Guy after the sink was shining:

1.  I am a sink Nazi.

2.  He doesn't think the bleach step really matters, either.

3.  He is pretty OCD about keeping his car clean, and he thinks trying to maintain his apartment to that level as well may be too much.  He thinks that if he has to pick one, the car will win.

4.  Ugghhhhhhmmmmmmmmpppph.  (He lost the ability to speak by that point due to fatigue.)

Before I left, I told TCG that the next BabyStep was to get dressed to shoes first thing in the morning.  Shouldn't be a problem, since he does that anyway on work-days.  Hope you enjoyed!


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Things I Did When I Wasn't Here

Hey Y'all, check it out! I ACTUALLY came back and posted the "where the heck I've been in the million years since I last posted" post.  Let's get right to it, shall we?

1.  The last time I wrote a post was July 9, 2011.  I was yammering on about the new purple clutch purse I purchased on clearance at Target and was using as a wallet.  I think that post deserves the "Most Spam Comments EVER" award.  I still use the wallet.

2.  I left my job at the living history museum.  To put it as delicately as possible, I did not feel that I could tolerate the way they treated their staff, and after 2 years I decided I wasn't going to put up with their shenanigans.  I wish I could say I left gracefully, but things had gotten so bad that it went more like this: 

There are days where I still miss the place and what I did there, but I had to finally stand up for myself and put my foot down. Since then (I left over a year ago), I have been working at a major university and recently started a new company with several other ex-staff from the museum. We have created our own living history programming and are now able to enjoy the work we do, which is how it should be.

3. I used to post a lot about my Mom's fight against ovarian cancer, and I'm sorry to report that Mom lost that fight on January 24, 2012. The last couple months of her life were a very difficult time involving things no one should have to see their loved one go through. It was physically and emotionally draining, and I don't care to get into detail if you don't mind.

4. There is a new-ish (6 months and still going) man in my life, and surprise of all surprises, last night he agreed to try the FlyLady system with me this time around! Yea, I have a FlyBuddy!

5. I didn't make any New Years resolutions, but I am trying to do this cute little project I found on Pinterest:

It's a cute little jar that you add little memories to throughout the year, and then on New Year's Eve you empty the jar and look at what you'd saved.

I gotta end things here, I need to be leaving for work soon! Laters!


Monday, January 14, 2013

Ugh, I Have to Think of a Post Title?

Hello my lovelies- I just wanted to pop in and say that after another looooong hiatus, I'm planning another attempt at getting back on the FlyLady program/posting on this blog. I am so very, very glad that I named this blog FlyLady Flunky, as I completely live up to the name! I'm heading to bed in a few, I just wanted to make a few changes to the sidebar before I crash for the night. 

I've removed a few things, added some others, and am undecided about keeping/canning the Meez I have had there for years. Back in the day I thought it was cute, but now it comes across as a little archaic and creepy.  Thoughts?

Real "back on the bandwagon" catch-up post to come later, maybe tomorrow, maybe not!