Sunday, November 25, 2012

Black Friday: A Survivor's Tale

Hey everyone! If you're reading this, congratulations! You survived Black Friday too. Black Friday is a day of the good, the bad, and the ugly. I happen to love Black Friday, although less than I used to. I started shopping it when I was about 11. My aunt would pick me up in the middle of the night and we would camp out to get great deals and start our holiday shopping. I won't lie to you, I find it thrilling. To me it's like a shopaholic's olympics. You train and develop a strategy for success, you compete against others, and there are certainly spoils for the victor. I know what you're thinking, it sounds so melodramatic and you can find deals all year long if you know where to look. For some of us though, it's a lot of fun. However, there is a dark side to Black Friday, people who ruin it for us. They kick and punch and scream and trample anyone in their way, this is not fun for anyone and those of us who love Black Friday, despise these people.
In my opinion, Black Friday is kind of a sport for professionals and companies are making things worse by increasing the number of amateurs who are out and about. When stores opened at 4 or 6 in the morning, there were only the few (hundred) of us that were dedicated to the sales, but now that many stores open at midnight or earlier, thousands show up, making things unpleasant for everyone.

The last three Black Fridays I have worked at Victoria's Secret and I have opened, meaning I didn't really get to shop. The first two years we opened at 4 am and it was crazy, but exciting. This year we opened at midnight and it was horrible. Due to Massachusetts law, we technically could not be at work until midnight, which meant at the very best our registers wouldn't be open until 12:01. Shoppers were let into the mall at midnight and you could hear the stampede. They came running and screaming in and started pounding on our gate and trying to lift it open. I took a moment to put on some lipstick and perfume since I knew that I wouldn't get another millisecond to do it later, when I heard "Are you kidding me bitch? Who do you have to smell good for? Open this gate it's 12:01!" ... yeah, people were crazy. A few of us tried to explain that the registers weren't open, but they didn't care. It got to the point that my store manager had to come out and tell them to settle down and we would open as soon as possible. When she finally came out with the key to open the gate they came diving under and running in, I hid behind a sales fixture, there was no way I was getting trampled. They filled the store so quickly that some of us were starting to get pushed out of the store. They started tearing down shelves of merchandise and some of us had bruises by the end of the day. We had the head of mall security and police officers from two towns at our door and there were almost a few arrests made, I wasn't able to see if anyone was taken away. We had to have some people removed from the store and we had at least a two hour wait to get in. It became so crowded that we had two customers faint and EMS had to come in. If you want to get a visual of how bad it was, here's some footage of another Victoria's Secret store at opening. I'll be honest, there's was bad, but ours was worse, we had a much larger crowd. Edit: Original video got taken down, but here's another one to give you an idea. This was the insanity.

After working for twelve hours in this madness I stayed awake by going to a different mall to just casually see what promotions were out there. I got a great pair of shoes on clearance, some bath bombs at Lush (not on sale, but I needed the soak. I got a horrible cold and lost my voice that day, when I had been fine the day before and all morning.) and Greg bought me a beautiful cupcake ornament. Honestly, that one little gesture made my day. While I was too tired that night to decorate the tree, we will be doing it tonight, and I'm sure I will find the perfect spot for my cupcake.

I'd love to know, how do you start your holiday season?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Tis the Season

As you may have already noticed, there's a chill in the air and the stores are changing their music. For those who don't know, I work part time at Victoria's Secret, which means I've already started hearing my fair share of holiday music. They were already starting it at the end of October. I love the holidays, but this is a bit much. I was walking by Nordstrom the other night and they had a sign in their window stating that they were going to be saving their holiday windows until December because they like celebrating one holiday at a time, I agree. On the other hand, I'm one of those freaks of nature who has their holiday shopping done by Black Friday. I love decorating my house, it's fairly simple, but pretty. This year I want to put my tree up on Black Friday (after I get out of work that is), it's something that my father used to do years ago. This is the first year that my family will be here from around the world, so I'd like to get started early so that it's perfect.

At my full time job, I've been in holiday mode since September. I manage all the marketing so everything is way ahead. There we will most likely be putting up our tree next week. We're making some party favors with a little surprise inside! Hopefully I will have a DIY post up this week showing you how to make them.

Do you love the holidays or are you a grinch (like my mom)? How early do you get started?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Election Day 2012

Happy Election Day!

(Sorry this got posted a day late, I was having issues getting this post up) I hope everyone exercised their right to vote! I had a teacher in high school who always said “If you don't vote, you don't have the right to complain, you didn't try to change anything.” I went off to the polls bright and early before work. Unfortunately they changed my polling place and I wasn't 100% certain where to go in, but I figured it out. Because I live in a small city, a lot of our local positions were re-elects with no opposition, including one jerk I went to high school with. He was always really mean to me, so I didn't want to vote for him, but really, even with a write in, he was still going to win. Oh well, there are bigger fish to fry this election. I knew who I was voting for for the presidency, but I have to say that I had a lot of unease about the senatorial vote. I voted for the person I believe has the same views as I do, but can you ever really be sure? I feel like the campaigns this year bashed a lot more than usual. It felt like children fighting in grade school, and if they can't play nice and address the issues at hand, I don't know that I want them making decisions that affect my life.

 Whatever the outcome, here's hoping it improves our country for the best. Tell me, did you vote today?

 Update: Congratulations President Obama on another 4 years. Lead us forward!

TJ Maxx will be the death of me...

Well somehow I ended up spending money again. Greg is starting a new job and since he's going from welding to a bank job, he needed a bit of a wardrobe update. He has some business clothing, but not a lot since he didn't ever need much of it. Mostly he needed some new pants and a nice work appropriate coat. We started out at Kohl's where much to our surprise there was a huge store-wide sale going on. He found two pairs of great fitting pants and they were $20 each! Next we were off to TJ Maxx, but I warned him not to let me go too crazy. Every time I go in there it's like they know I'm coming and put everything I like out, or maybe I just like everything. We found him a nice new Calvin Klein tie for $14 and a Michael Kors belt that was originally $85, was just $7! He also got a nice new peacoat by Kenneth Cole for $70. If you add in the price of his new dress shoes last week, this whole thing cost only about $150 which is very reasonable. Especially when you consider that the last suit he liked was nearly $2000 with jacket, pants, shirt, tie, shoes, and belt. Let's not even dare to imagine that I didn't get something for myself. Confessions of a shopaholic my friends. I found a cute summer dress, lightweight snake print asymmetrical and clearance! That was just $14 and I can already picture wearing it next summer.

 While we were browsing Greg mentioned that I might find a suit for myself since I have been saying I need one for umpteen years. All of a sudden he holds up a blazer and says: “What do you think of this one?” Please keep in mind that I am very near-sighted and a few racks away when I burst out with: “Is that Tory Burch???” He of course had no clue whether it was or wasn't, but he is still a freshman in the world of designers. Sure enough it was a beautiful, charcoal gray, one button Tory Burch blazer. Originally $450 and only $199. This is where it gets ugly and the inner turmoil begins. Those who are faint of heart should turn away now. I started on a desperate hunt to find the pants or skirt that went along with it for about 45 minutes to no avail. The fact that the blazer was a rare find was reinforced to me by multiple associates. You see, some TJ Maxx stores carry what they call Runway, but not usually at any of the stores in my area, and they were nearly positive no one would have a match. I started trying to justify the purchase in my head. I can afford to buy it, I just have to be really frugal the next few weeks. On the other hand, it's 200 freaking dollars! I could definitely find another blazer somewhere else, in fact I found another one on the same rack for $30, but it just didn't compare. I tried both on, certain that the stars would align and I would hate the Tory Burch blazer and accept it as fate that it was not meant to be... of course not. I don't have that kind of luck. It looked perfect. The charcoal color was beautiful on me, the waist nipped in just right and the fit was perfection. This was a dilemma. My biggest problem is that if I really like something, I can manage a way to justify it's purchase. I hate to be anticlimactic, but for now I didn't buy it. I put it on a 24 hour hold and I'm going to try some healthy separation. If by tomorrow I still really want it and can reasonably afford it, I will go get it, if not, then there will be others. Let's just say I've been trying to find the matching pants online all night though.

 Do you think designer pieces are worth the splurge? I think if it's a classic piece that you can use for life go for it, but what about seasonal pieces that are only in the now? Let me know what you think.

Update: So you know I went back and bought it, right? Yeah, everyone knew how that was going to really end.

Cupcake Martini Attempt #1

So remember that part where I mentioned I love cupcakes? For those who know me that's pretty much a daily basis. Anyway, once upon a birthday someone ordered me a birthday cake martini and it was scrumptious. The waitress told me that they blended vanilla ice cream and vodka and voila it was delicious. Well there was definitely some kind of witchcraft behind it that I can't seem to get right. I have found tons of recipes online for different cake martinis. Cupcake, birthday cake, pineapple upside down cake, but none of them call for ice cream. So I did what any crazy person would do. I went out and bought Pinnacle Cake Vodka, Breyer's Extra Creamy Vanilla ice cream, Duncan Hines frosting, and some colorful nonpareils... oh yes my friends, it's a party. I managed to figure out how to rim a martini glass in frosting and coat it with nonpareils. I thought it would be no big deal, but I won't lie, it took about 10 minutes and I ate more frosting than I got on the glass. I thought the next part would be easy. I measured out a shot of vodka and got myself a scoop of ice cream and threw them both in the blender. This is the part where I would like to say I enjoyed a deliciously creamy martini. The ice cream just keep getting spun around the blender and the vodka just kind of mixed with the melted ice cream. They just would not come together and be friends. I tried adding a little more softened ice cream and only made a bigger mess. When enough of this frankentini had melted I managed to somewhat blend and pour the whole atrocity into my beautifully rimmed glass. I tried to drink it, the rim was delicious, but that was not a martini. It did not taste like cake or vodka or ice cream. I managed to ruin 3 different delicious things. I'm still trying to figure out how on earth to make this silly thing, but it is just not happening.

Any bartenders out there who can suggest any tips or tricks or who want to come whip me up one? Anyone?

I'll probably give this another go soon.

Have you ever royally messed up a recipe you thought was foolproof? Tell me below.

I love a deal!

I've been doing a lot of shopping online lately which is something I shouldn't do, but it gives me time to “walk away” from something I like for a little while and go back to it if I REALLY want it. Plus there's usually a coupon and free shipping, which is way better than spending $10 to drive to the mall and then having to lug it up three flights of stairs. Well today one of my packages arrived (I've had something arrive almost every day this week) and I was happily surprised. I'm a big fan of ModCloth and I always want to snag one of their Stylish Surprise deals and I always miss it. Well not this time! In fact, I got two (and a very cute pair of flats.) Stylish Surprise is a really fantastic deal if you can ever snag it, you get a mystery clothing item in the size of your choice and it's worth up to $249.99 and it's only $15! I love clothes, but let's face it, I don't have the budget for my taste and this is a great way to get a fabulous unexpected piece for a steal. Also, ModCloth has the best names for their clothes. I got a cute dress that had caught my eye before (On the other line) and a top I wouldn't necessarily have picked. The dress has a great retro feel to it and the top is very 1970's laid back (You tan do it). I actually think my mother would like it more than I did and if that's the case, well I guess she just got another Christmas gift. So to sum it up, I got a super cute pair of ballet flats, a funky retro dress, and a boho top for just about $50 and got free shipping. Sounds like a win.

 On the other line:

You tan do it:

Earlier this week I went by Burlington Coat Factory to exchange something... which means of course I bought something else. I have to say it was an incredible deal though! I normally don't like yellow on myself, but this trench coat just called my name and begged me to take it home. It was the last one, it was my size, it was clearance AND it was Calvin Klein. Originally $160, marked down to $30 and I had an exchange for $15, I basically only ended up paying $15! I don't normally do exchanges, I usually know whether I really want something before I buy it, but it was a workout top that was in no way doing it's job and looked really unflattering and it was bought in an unfortunate hurry.

Lesson reinforced: always try before you buy.

I'd love to know, what's the best/favorite deal you ever got?

*Photos are from and do not belong to me in any way

A little bit about myself

I love yummy things, especially baked goods; some call me the Cupcake Queen. A very good friend always calls me Cupcake and when I'm dolled up she says “You look gorgeous, Cupcake!” - hence the name of this blog. Cooking is my own edible therapy and I find it only brings good to everyone around you. Baking to me just smells like happiness, I mean have you ever seen anyone be angry in a bakery when the bread is coming fresh out of the oven? I didn't think so. I also love crafts. I'm not particularly great at any crafts yet, but I love trying out new ideas and techniques. It's another way I get rid of stress and I find it's a great outlet for it. I love clothes and shopping. My mother has always said that we have terrible taste, everything we like is expensive, but prices don't always love me. We're talking “Oh look at that pretty dress, it can't cost that much... it's only more than my annual salary.” I'm tenacious though, I will search high and low and I love finding unexpected deals and steals. There is nothing wrong with consignment. Keeping your eyes open you can always find something in your budget. Right now I'm in the poor college kid category. I am taking a little break from school to find the direction I want to go in, I call it my quarter life crisis. I live with my boyfriend Greg in an older than dirt, third floor apartment with what I call a grown up easy bake oven and a makeshift closet.  We moved! It isn't much, but it's home and we love to share it with our friends and family.

I work for Victoria's Secret as a sales associate (and self professed beauty queen) and also as the marketing coordinator for a medical spa and I'm also an Arbonne Independent Consultant. I'm mommy to one adorable fluffy fat cat and this blog is going to be my new baby.  

 I know there are lots of people out there like me and I hope you can find some laughs and ideas here and I'd love to hear back!