Friday, July 26, 2013

My Special Secret Ikea shopping tips

Ikea shopping has bested some of the smartest people I know.
Millions have broken down and broken up in it's convoluted maze.
The first time I went to Ikea, my then roommate and I completely freaked out in the parking lot after thinking we missed the last bus, and only narrowly avoided a complete meltdown.

But I have pretty much mastered Ikea shopping at this point, and I am going to share with you my very special secret tips to make your journey into the land of skubbs and brimnes as simple as possible.


1. Prepare Ye Online first
NEVER ever ever go to Ikea without a list. You might as well stab yourself in the face with a whole set of Andlig knives if you go just thinking you will know what you want when you see it. Oh hell no.
 Here is what should go on your prep list:
  • Names and ARTICLE NUMBERS of items to check out (Do you know how many Hemnes things there are DO YOU? Get those digits. 790.018.17 is the Hemnes bookcase I want in the color I want. Be specific!)
  • Number of each item you will need (We needed 5 Platta decking sets and it would have been a murder suicide if we had to go back again for more)
  • Measurements of the areas in your house that you want things to fit in (i.e. couch must be less than 84" long and 40" deep)
  • Check whether things are in stock at your local store or if they need to be bought online (guess what- all the Sultan Alsorps? Only buyable online, skip the trip.)
  • Organize the list by category- if you know you need to see 3 kinds of chairs in person before you decide, list those together in a chair section. This will save you time and tears later when you forget if the Soldern was a lamp or a flower pot or a footstool. (Trick question--I made it up.)
  • Print your list in duplicate so your partner can have one, which brings to the next tip.
2.   Never go to Ikea alone
You need 2 people. This is for convenience, sanity, and so someone can tell you that you will never use those very cute but not at all practical gravy boats. You also need to have a partner who will stand in line at the end while you go to the food section.

3. Never go to Ikea in a group
2 people is the minimum and maximum of who should go to Ikea. Don't try to bring other people. You will get separated from each other, lost, and waste time.  Plus too many opinions can be confusing.

4. Enter in the Exit
WHAT? Yes, it can be done. It is a little weird and it is clearly not set up this way, but you can go up the exit stairs and enter where the registers are. You have to walk through the lines where people are paying for things since the closed lines are fully gated, but it is ok. Everyone in the checkout line is weary and confused and won't give a crap about you squeezing by.
When you enter in the exit, you skip the whole upstairs and go straight to the marketplace and furniture pickup.
This is another reason why you need those article numbers from your list. There will be computers where you can look up the aisle your pieces can be found in, and you don't have to run around the store looking for the tags with that info on it.
When you go in this way, you will feel like a total baller and you will feel smug pity for the people looking at you funny and going up to the real entrance. FOOLS.

5. Visit the As-Is section
As many of you already know, Ikea has an as-is section where you can find floor models and things that have been returned at discounted prices.
It is my first stop whenever I go there, partially because it is fun and I am a bargain hunter at heart, and partially because it is at the exit where I enter (I NEVER go to the upper floor showrooms....that way lies insanity).
Be sure to dig through the fabric boxes if you have any upholstered Ikea furniture, because sometimes there are heavily discounted slip covers there! I just found one for our Ektorp couch that is normally $150 and has to be ordered online, but was in the as-is section for $89 and no delivery fee. Woo!
The as-is section is also great because you don't have to put that shit together. It is already done for you. This is perfect if you are looking for a small piece you can put in your car, but unless you have a truck or something, it might make more sense to buy a new bookshelf and assemble at home.
Go to the as-is section first and grab any dishware or lighting stuff you want. Then go back to the as-is section right before you head to the registers to see if you missed anything or if any new items have been put there.

6. Don't forget lightbulbs
I need to learn this lesson better, myself. Ikea is a great place to buy lightbulbs and I always forget to do so.
Make sure to get bulbs before you go back to the furniture box section or you will regret it. Sigh.

7. Get the heavy stuff last
Even if you are passing the boxed furniture first since you have gone in the exit, you should not put those things in your cart yet. First you should get any storage, kitchen, plant etc items and then come back for the heavy stuff on your way out.
Why roll it around when you don't have to? It's not going anywhere, they have tons of them.
Also, by saving it for last you will be sure to put it in the car first and have it on the bottom where it belongs, with the lighter stuff on top.

7. Shop for food while in line
You have reached the registers, yay!
Now you wait and second guess all your purchases while wondering why the line doesn't move at all.
Your shopping partner is totally sick of you by this point (and vice versa) so give them a break and trade off going to the food section beyond the registers while waiting in line.
Things to get: the tomato sauce, the cloudberry jelly, lingonberry syrup, and frozen potato pancakes.
There are also a lot of fish products that look totally gross to me but you might like. The frozen desserts like the daim pie look really good but they are a mistake, you will regret it later when you have 3/4 left and are sick of it because it is so flatly sweet.
Bring the things back to your cart in line, argue about how many jellies one person really needs, and then let your partner go get some bags of the sub-par coffee.

8. Do not attempt to put anything together til you have eaten and slept
Ikea shopping can really take it out of you. Putting together the fiddly things together can be life-ruining. Especially if you are already cranky and tired.
Go home and unload and take a break for dinner at least. It would be great if you could sleep too. Then when you are refreshed and no longer hate the world, that is the time to start with that tiny fucking allen wrench.

Ta da!
No bloodshed, minimal frustration, and you got yourself some cheap stuff.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Word to the Wise: Best Made Co Sample Sale

Best Made Co. is a store that sells a diverse collection of clothing, bags, camping supplies, axes, and random accessories.
They partner with suppliers to make durable versions of essential tools. The thing that is supposed to tie everything together is quality craftsmanship and items that you can pass down.
If you are someone who like the Buy For Life mentality, this is a sale you should check out.

Deal: Markdowns on enamelware, first aid kits, apparel, tools, and more.
When/Where: Thursday, July 25 through Friday, July 26. Daily 12pm—4pm. 36 White St between Church St and Broadway (646-495-9930)

Some items that might be there:

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Bunny light


 $100 bunny light

Check out this little guy!

He is a white porcelain bunny with a lightbulb for a tail.

It's hard to tell how big it is- I am not sure at all but I think it might be more nightlight sized than table lamp.
The bulb is LED and non-replaceable and the cord is USB powered.

I wish it was $20 then I would be all over it!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Why you should shop at H&M instead of other fast fashion places

It's a given that fast fashion (big retailers who sell cheap clothes that rotate stock quickly) is not generally a good thing. Buying lots of low quality clothing that you then throw out is not the best way to go about saving the environment.

It's also pretty clear, though, that fast fashion is sticking around and offers many advantages to the buyers who want these clothes (including me).
For trendy things that will be out next season but I want to try now, or crazy colors that I might regret later, I don't want to spend a lot of money and I don't need the garment to stand the test of time. That is why I shop at fast fashion stores.

But some are much better than others, and it seems like H&M is the best of the fast fashion stores, in terms of working conditions for its employees and environmental sustainability.
So my advice is to shop there instead of F21, Mango, Strawberry, etc.

Here is why:
H&M was not always very good. In 2007, workers in Manhattan gained the rights to unionize and improve labor practices.
In 2011, H&M had improved enough to join the Fair Labor Association "a non-profit organization that focuses on improving working conditions from a human rights perspective in factories around the world."
After the collapse of the Bangladesh factory in May 2013, H&M signed a worker's rights agreement (also signed by Zara, Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein, and Izod) that gives workers a say in their conditions and requires more stringent and frequent safety checks. Notably, many other companies including Walmart did NOT sign this.
Info from H&M on their worker's rights programs.

Bad: In 2010, they were caught dumping brand new unused merchandise into the trash that could have been donated. The good news is that they have made large steps in reforming and becoming more sustainable.
They now have a sustainability department headed by Helena Helmersson and have plans to increase their organic cotton consumption more than 20% and other environmental programs.
H&M also started a recycling program called Don’t Let Fashion Go to Waste to take used clothing from any store and process it into new garments. In exchange for bringing in used items, customers get a coupon for 15% off a new H&M item. This has resulted in more than 3.2 million garments being donated to charitable causes.
The Conscious Collection started in 2011 using recycled and sustainable fabrics, and that is the best to buy if you are looking for guilt-free (or reduced guilt) clothing.
There was a large program to reduce water used in the manufacturing process which has already saved 450 million liters.
"Lofty goals abound at H&M, including plans to source 100 percent of electricity from renewables and zero discharge of hazardous chemicals. This year, H&M hopes to have 95 percent of the waste handled in their warehouses to be recycled."

Many companies like to "greenwash" or seem like they are making improvements and pat themselves on the back, but H&M seems to put their money where there mouth is and actually do something.

Ok, enough about the policies, let's look at some clothes from the current Conscious Collection instead!

$7.95 Basic Jersey Tank Top in organic cotton
I like the blue and white striped version of this, or the gray and pink or plain blue.
The shoulders are wide enough to hide your bra straps, which is nice.

$9.95 pack of 3 briefs in organic cotton
These undies are 95% cotton which is great and comfortable.

$17.95 Men's sport shorts in recycled polyester
Good workout shorts that dry quickly.

One thing I've learned from writing this post is that it is realllllllly hard to shop online at H&M for their Conscious Collection. I will be writing them a letter about how they should add it as one of their filters and overall categories to sort by as well.

Friday, July 19, 2013

A couch I am thinking of buying

As you might remember, I am on the hunt for a gray sectional for our new living room.
I've been checking Craiglist just to see what is out there, and I actually found one I like!
E likes it too. It's still really expensive but if it is going to be our couch for a long time, it might be worth it. And of course since it is 2 years old already, it is way cheaper than it was originally.

Here's the pic:

It is the Room and Board Hayes sectional sofa with 2 end pieces and one angled middle piece.

So basically this but with another end piece/corner on the angle chaise side:

$6kish? Room and Board Hayes sectional

The 3 piece sectional is officially $5,197 and the two piece shown here is $4,198. I am not sure what the two piece plus one more piece would end up as, but I am guessing about $6,000.

In the Craigslist ad the owners say they paid over $7k originally. Not sure if that is true but probably close.

They want $3,000 for it in the used condition, which is still a lot but half off.

I'm concerned that it will be very large in our apartment, but I guess we could just get a smaller coffee table.

I like the idea of having one end and the chaise on one side of the room and having the other side facing in, below the tv (once that is mounted on the wall) so our living room will be arranged so that people can talk to each other.

What do you think, should I do it?

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Some bunny items from UO

I found these cute bunny themed objects at Urban Outfitters and I'm not going to get them since I don't want my house to turn into some weird bunny museum or a crazy hoarder collection of rabbits, but I do think they are cute:

Woodland Twilights LED Nightlight
$12 Woodland creature LED nightlight
You get 1 porcelain creature but they don't let you select which one you want, it's just a surprise :(
You might get a rabbit, bird, squirrel, or porcupine. I think they are all pretty cute, but of course I would want to be guaranteed to get a bun.
This would be a great illumination for a bathroom at night.
Probably not as great for a kid's room since porcelain is breakable and not very playable-with.

Bunny Canister
$9.99 Bunny Cannister
I'd definitely think twice about getting that piece of candy or whatever if I had to decapitate a bunny to do it.
They should sell it as a weight loss container.

Love Bunnies Ring Holder
$12 Rabbit ears ring holder
We were thinking of having Senator actually be the ring bearer at our wedding, and using his ears like this, but he isn't so good with travel or crowds or doing what he is supposed to do, so we are going to skip that.
It is cute though. And I like the bunny with one ear up and one ear down.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Horrifying: Snails on your face on purpose

Thanks, Japan, for another disgusting beauty treatment that grosses me out beyond belief.

This time, it is a facial consisting of snails crawling all over you and leaving their slime on your skin.


Get ready, here is a picture:

Terrible. Oh but don't worry, the snails are organic. 

So the snail mucus is supposed to be a miracle ingredient that does....???
Apparently, it can "help skin retain moisture, reduce inflammation and remove dead skin."

The best quote of the article is this:
"This salon is the only place in Japan where you can try a live snail facial," said Yoko Minami, sales manager at Clinical Salon, the flagship outlet of Ci:z.Labo, a nationwide spa operator and affiliate of Japan's biggest medical cosmetics company.

The only place in Japan....As if there are so many places outside of Japan to get a live snail facial? Or as if there are so many people clamoring for snail snot that it's astounding that there is only one establishment to serve the hordes?

If you thought you only get the snails crawling on your face then you can get up and go, oh how wrong you are. Here is what comes next:
This is followed by a series of massages, masks and electrical pulse machines using creams infused with snail mucus to ensure that the live secretions fully penetrate the skin.
Creams infused with snail mucus is definitely not one of those PR phrases they teach you in school. I wonder why.

What does it feel like? Here is the most truthful quote of the entire article:
There is little in life more unsettling than spying the rearing tentacles of an approaching snail on your cheek out of the corner of your eye.

So, what would you pay for this treatment?
Or, what would you pay NOT to have to get this treatment?
Either way, it is about $244.
Save up.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Monoprice noise canceling over ear headphones

These are just over $100 and seem to be a great deal.
They have everything I want in this type of headphone:
-mic on cord
-over ear
-noise cancelling
-cute case for all the stuff
-easily replaceable battery (this one is AAA)
-option on/off for noise cancellation

Here is the headset:

Large Product Image for Noise Cancelling Headphone w/ Active Noise Reduction Technology
$112.13 Monoprice noise cancelling head phones

"The headphones come with 55" audio cable with an inline microphone and control module, a 58" standard audio cable with a 90-degree connector on one end, a headphone/microphone splitter for use with PCs, a 3.5mm to 1/4" plug adapter, and and airline plug adapter. They are packaged in a luxury "hardshell" zippered nylon storage case, which includes a nylon mesh internal pocket for the included cables and accessories. The carry case includes a D-ring, which can be used to attach a strap (not included) or to secure it to a backpack."

And here are its accessories:

Large Product Image for Noise Cancelling Headphone w/ Active Noise Reduction Technology
It is nice but unnecessary that it also comes with a splitter (so 2 people can listen) and some converters.

I also personally appreciate that it comes with 2 cords, in case of bunny sabotage to the wire. I know that isn't really why it comes with them, but let's pretend.

Monday, July 15, 2013

MIdcentury modern rocking chair

In our new bedroom, E and I would like a comfortable chair that he can sit in when he wakes up in the morning way too early, or that I can read in when he goes to bed.

 $180 Midcentury arm chair with ash wood sleighs

This chair on Amazon caught my eye for its sleek modern design and its black and white colors, which would go nicely with our gray themed apartment.

I also like that it looks like it is skiing.

A rocking chair would be kind of fun, I think.
There are other chairs like this on Amazon, but most of them are molded plastic instead of this which is padded and looks more comfortable.

The light wood rockers would also match our new light wood floors pretty well.
I am worried about the bunny chewing them up, though. You should see what he did to one of the legs of my light wood folding table.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Two map print men's shirts from UO

I wandered into Urban Outfitters recently and saw these two men's shirts which I really liked!

Since E has a bunch of shirts already and the move has made us both not want to acquire anything, I didn't get him either. But they are so cute! Maybe you can get them.

Also they are both on sale and under $20, so that is nice.

NYC Subway Line Tee
$14.99 NYC Subway Line Tee (was $28)
Online there is only size S left, but in person in the store on 14th and 6th ave there were plenty of other sizes to be had.
This tee was super super soft to touch.

Hawkings McGill Montauk Short-sleeve Shirt
$14.99 Hawkings McGill Montauk shirt (was $44)
This is a lightweight button down with tiles of a map of Montauk on it.
I like the black and white with little touches of red color scheme.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Friends with books!

It's been a great summer for being my friend and writing a book.
Three of my friends have books that have just been released!

$12 Shut Up, You're Welcome by Annie Choi
($9.75 for Kindle edition)

Annie Choi's new book, Shut Up, You're Welcome is out as of today!
You should definitely check it out. It would be a perfect hilarious and entertaining thing to read on a trip or at the beach. It is a series of personal essays in the form of angry letters to different entities that have offended her.

Here is the book trailer, which is an animated video of her reading from an angry letter to Virgin America airlines. It's awesome and will make you want to hear or read the rest.
Annie will be reading at Powerhouse Books in Dumbo next Monday, and you can see her and get your book signed there!

Here is a review from Goodreads that tells you more about it:
From the author of Happy Birthday or Whatever, an outright hilarious and heartfelt collection of personal essays about everything from underwear to musical theater. Annie Choi wants to tell you a few things: She hates musical theater. She thinks sandwiches are boring. She likes camping, except for the outdoors part. She daydreams about cannibalism. At fifteen, her father made her read the entire car manual before allowing her to sit in the driver’s seat. And she once chased down a man who stole her handbag.

All this is to say that Choi is one part badass and one part curmudgeon, with a soft spot for savage bears. But mostly she wants to ask the world: WTF?!

Written in Choi’s strikingly original and indignant voice, Shut Up, You're Welcome paints a revealing portrait of Annie and her family in all their quirky, compelling, riotous glory. Each of Choi’s personal essays begins with an open letter to someone (her naked neighbor) or something (the San Fernando Valley), that she has a beef with. From the time her family ditched her on Christmas to her father’s attachment to an ugly table, Choi weaves together deeply personal experiences with laugh-out-loud observations, all of which will charm you, entertain you, and leave you wanting more.
 Seriously, Annie is one of the funniest people I know and I can't wait to read the book, which Amazon tells me I ordered A MILLION YEARS AGO but still isn't here yet. ARRGH. Maybe I should write them a letter a la Annie.

Next up:

$9.50 William Shakespeare's Star Wars by Ian Doescher

As you might be able to guess from the title or the incredible cover art, this is a retelling of the Star Wars story in Shakespearean style. Including more iambic pentameter than you can shake a stick at!
Ian and Ethan were college roommates so I have the pleasure of 

More about it from Goodreads:
Inspired by one of the greatest creative minds in the English language-and William Shakespeare-here is an officially licensed retelling of George Lucas's epic Star Wars in the style of the immortal Bard of Avon. The saga of a wise (Jedi) knight and an evil (Sith) lord, of a beautiful princess held captive and a young hero coming of age, Star Wars abounds with all the valor and villainy of Shakespeare’s greatest plays. ’Tis a tale told by fretful droids, full of faithful Wookiees and fearstome Stormtroopers, signifying...pretty much everything.

Reimagined in glorious iambic pentameter—and complete with twenty gorgeous Elizabethan illustrations--William Shakespeare’s Star Wars will astound and edify Rebels and Imperials alike. Zounds! This is the book you’re looking for.
 Ian has been on a bunch of morning shows and gotten a ton of great press for his book already, but if you haven't heard of it yet, go check it out! His book is also apparently responsible for a peak in google searches for Star Wars this week, which is crazy cool.
Watch the book trailer with actors reading lines from the book in full Star Wars character costumes.

We got our copy about a week ago and the language and writing is shockingly faithful to the original stylings of Willie S.

Last but not least!

$11 New Rules for Blondes by Selena Coppock ($2 Kindle edition)

Selena is a stand up comic in NYC who I had the pleasure of working with at our day jobs (it's true, even I need to supplement my blogging career with real work).

In this book she writes about her stories living the blonde life and shares tips for getting along with other blondes and how to relate to brunettes. It's really funny and a great summer read!

Check out her luscious hair in the book trailer here.
And here's the official book description:

Writer, comedienne, and full-time Blonde, Selena Coppock offers up adventures, misadventures, and golden-hued nuggets of wisdom in a laugh-out-loud anthem for those of us who really do have more fun. . . .
The modern blonde is savvy, wise, confident, capable, and not afraid to laugh at herself when the occasion calls for it. She knows who she is and is prepared to subvert all stereotypes (although she's not above wielding her golden tresses to her advantage), and knows how to be both classy and a little brassy.
In the way only a Boston-bred New Yorker who once won "Best Hair" in her high school graduating class could, Coppock doles out tongue-in-cheek advice about avoiding hair disasters, the consequences of dating a man who cares a little too much about his own hair product, and so much more in an outrageous essay collection that will have even the staunchest of raven-haired beauties considering a trip to the nearest salon.
Selena also has a hilarious blog where she recaps the bachelorette episodes with amazing commentary.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Layouts for our new living room/dining room and office

 Here is what our living room hopefully will look like once we get some sort of sideboard or place to put the cable box and random crap:

The circles are lamps, btw.
And those squares near the bottom are stools that will go to our kitchen counter.

And here is our office might look like (we need a new desk and a bunch of lamps):
We need new bookshelves as well, though we don't have much room for them as this room is tiny and we need that fold out couch in there, too!

Tell me what you think!

PS: I made these diagrams with the Icovia room planner which lets you choose shapes of furniture and windows etc and input your own measurements

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Cheap outdoor light strands from Target

For our patio, Ethan wanted strings of lights.
I generally think christmas lights are tacky, but I am trying to find some that pass my class test and also are cheap.

 Here is what I found so far:

$13 Room Essentials globe lights 
25 feet with 25 bulbs
fragile glass bulbs that people say break if you don't remove them before hanging
yellow light
There is also a frosted bulb variation

$24.99 Threshold solar light strings
These are protected by little metal cages so they are more durable, and don't need an outlet to work.
14 feet, 20 glass bulbs

$20 Threshold globe solar string lights
129 feet, 30 bulbs (3 ft apart)
These have plastic bulbs and are really long but get bad reviews.

$22 LED string with timer warm white
10 feet,
Are the lights just little blobs in the string? Not sure if I like that.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Bathmat made of live moss

I wonder if the little pieces of moss come off on your feet, but I love the idea of walking on moss and having plants make use of the extra water and humidity in the bathroom:

Image of [ENG] The moss bath rug "Larosée"

$103 Moss bathmat Larosee (79.90 euro)
"Imagine getting out of your bath or shower and delicately setting foot on a moss rug. Now imagine the water running down your legs and watering that unique carpet. There is an obvious natural cycle there: the rug “Larosée” collects the water while you enjoy a soft contact with this flora, which is reputed for its ideal massage of the acupuncture points situated on the sole of the foot.
“Larosée” is an ecologic and live rug: the moss composing it evolves through time on a base made of recycled latex. The moss likes shadow and humidity and stays green throughout several months. The air cells (moss) form (of the) a carpet which shape and color might vary (depending under which tree they have been collected). The edges are shaped like a wave in order to allow several rugs to fit together to cover the surface you desire.
Beyond its original aesthetics “Larosée” is a subtle invitation to reflect on the importance of ecological challenges: water is a vital element which was thought to be an endless resource, free and pure, but nowadays everyone is aware that access to water, its quality and a moderate consumption are among the key challenges of the future."

A more zoomed-out view:

Image of [ENG] The moss bath rug "Larosée"

The designer, Nguyen La Chanh, says she picked hardy moss species that can deal with being stepped on, but that this wouldn't be a bathmat that would last a year.
You can buy replacement moss chunks, though.
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