Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Day 2: Soft Rock

Traditionally I stay clear of sheer tops, but this mint green piece just spoke to me and I couldn't resist.
Because the top was so so light and feminine I decided to add a chunky black leather belt with gold accents to edge up the look.  Here's the final look!      



*Black and Gold Belt: $2 Women Helping Women, Santa Ana, CA
*Mint H&M Tank Top: $2, Goodwill, Westminster, CA
*Shear Mint Aeropostale top: $4 Women Helping Women, Santa Ana, CA
DKNY Black Skinny Jeans: $15 Buffalo Exchange, New York, NY

Total: $23


Summary of Today's Tips
1. Balance Hard and Soft elements together for a cohesive look.
2. Match a loose top with form fitting pants

Yours Truly,

Irene 

Monday, July 30, 2012

Modern Retro Chic

I did some pretty intense thrifting this past weekend and promised myself to wear all my recent purchases. So my goal for this week is to try to wear at least one recent purchase each day. Here's my first outfit pairing!

 

When I first saw this dress I was immediately drawn to the bold but muted colors. It had such an elegant vibe that I knew that I had to have it.  Because the dress was a statement piece in-and-of-itself so I only added a necklace and matched it with nude shoes to elongate my legs. This was a prefect ensemble for a family dinner at South Coast Plaza, which was absolutely delicious by the way. Seasons 52 definitely gets two thumbs up from me! 

Tiana B dress: $5, Women Helping Woman, Santa Ana, CA
Anne Klein shoes: $4, Women Helping Women, Santa Ana, CA
Brown Rock Necklace: $10, Far in Los Angeles, CA

Total: $19 (What a steal!)


Summary of Today's Tips
1. Muted colors can make an outfit instantly elegant with a retro edge.
2. A scoop neckline can be intimidating. Add a necklace to add some coverage


Yours Truly, 

Irene    











Function meets Fashion

I bought this teal hat last year and had only wore it for my engagement photos the year prior, so with a bright and sunny forecast I thought I'd wear for an outdoor BBQ.  

I had a fantastic time there and the Irvine venue was beautiful complete with a man-made lake, paddle boats, slides for the shallow pool etc.  Yet with the sun blazing I definitely had to cover-up and stay cool. The hat was not only a fashionable accessory but also provided the much needed shade. My face was eternally grateful. 

Here's my black and White bargain ensemble with brown and teal accents.      


 


Wood Necklace: $5, Big Lots, Fountain Valley, CA
Talbots Bag: $20 Lucky Shops, New York, NY
Black & White Twist Dress: $8.99 Goodwill, Westminster, CA
Anne Klein Shoes: $4 Women Helping Women Sale, Santa Ana, CA
Teal Hat: $10 Princess Cruise, Hawaii Trip
Betsey Johnson Sunglasses: $19 +$6 shipping, Groupon Goods

Total: $72.99


Summary for Today's Tops
1. Dig in your closet to reuse apparel that you already use
2. Play with different shades of the same color to tie in an outfit without looking too matchy-match. (ie. light to dark brown)
3. Hats are a greatly under utilized accessory. Use it to not only make a statement but also provided much needed relief for your head.

Yours Truly,

Irene







Sunday, July 22, 2012

$3 Ann Taylor Silk Blouse

Recently I scored a 100% silk Ann Taylor blouse at Plato's Closet, a preloved franchise store, for $3. So I decided to play dress up and style the blouse for multiple occasions, thus making this blouse basically 75 cents per outfit!  What do you think of the looks?

City Chic Look 
Up close!

$3 Ann Taylor Blouse from Platos Closet
Feminine Office Look 
Brunch with Girlfriends Look 
Lazy Sunday Look 



























Actually a lot of my clothes are discounted items. Not a single article of clothing was more than $20. Here's the breakdown...(Nude pumps used twice in this pairing)



Rock n' Republic Black Tuxedo Skinnies $20 - Designer Fashion Clearance, Las Vegas, NV
Betsey Johnson Sunglasses $19 +$6 shipping - Groupon Goods, online purchase
Three layered green tear drop necklace $5 (Clearance) - Charlotte Russe, Brea, CA
Ellen Tracy Black Pumps $20 - TJ Maxx, Fountain Valley, CA 

Total = $70



Black and White Polka Dot Skirt $1 (Dollar Day)- Allied's Attic Thrift Store, Enfield CT
Gold Bow necklace $8 - Fashion Unlimited, Corona, CA
Jessica Simpson Nude Pumps $20 - TJ Maxx, Fountain Valley, CA

Total = $32



  Diseal White Jeans $15- Buffalo Exchange, New York NY
Three Strand Necklace Set $5 (Clearance) - Charlotte Russe, Brea CA
Jessica Simpson Nude Pumps $20 - TJ Maxx, Fountain Valley CA

Total = $40




Grey Roxy Shorts $10 - Billabong Outlet, Barstow CA
Gold/White strand necklace $10 - Forever 21, Costa Mesa, CA
Nude flats $10 (Clearance) - Payless, Stanton CA

Total- $30

What's your favorite pairing?  Do you have suggestions on other ways to wear this berry colored blouse? Comment below! 

Summary of Today's Tips
1. You can find great apparel for a fraction of the cost at a thrift store, discount warehouse, outlet & the internet.
2. Play around with your new find with various combinations at home. Tucking it in, leaving it out. You'll be surprised at how versatile your apparel can be!
3. Investing in a pair of Black and Nude pumps and flats is a must. They will match everything. 


Yours Truly,

Irene   



Sunday, July 15, 2012

85 Takes the Cake!

My beautiful grandmother in Long Beach, CA



























Happy 85th Birthday Grandma!

With such a monumental birthday it's difficult to know what to get the special birthday girl.  Maybe some pretty jewelry, a new bag, a new gadget... the list goes on and on. But to no success, my Grandma didn't want anything. So I thought I'd give her the next best thing-- a surprise visit with a home-made cake!

In my mind this gift idea is special and budget friendly gift on a number of levels.

1. Warm and fluffy out of the oven cake will always taste > than cold cake
2. Cake Mix ($1.25) + Frosting ($.98) costs < store bought cake ($15+)
3. It's time efficient if you take into consideration your travel to-and-from the store, waiting to pick up, and paying at the cashier time for the store bought cake.
4. You save gas money.
5. The element of surprise is on your side
6. Made with love. Always a crowd pleaser.

ingredients used for cake!


I'm an amateur baker, but in my experience I've never met anyone who doesn't love a bundt cake, especially when comes it's straight out of the oven. And if you want to give it that extra umph...you can decorate with sliced strawberries, bananas, blueberries, around the perimeter of the cake. It makes for an elegant decor that's tasty too! 

Summary of Today's TIps
Spending quality time with a loved one is a gift in and of itself and the memories will always be in his or her heart. I feel that food always brings people together and when it's home-made it's just that much more special.


How do you celebrate a special occasion for a special someone? Do you have special tips that you'd like to share? Let us know and comment below.


Yours Truly,

Irene





Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Ichi - Ni - Soooore!

Translation? 1.. 2... 3 go!
Wow, I sincerely don't have words to describe how beautiful it is to see traditional Japanese drumming come alive. I once attended a taiko practice with one of my girlfriends back in college to check it out, but lost touch with her when I moved to the East Coast.  This performance brought back sweet memories and tickled my ears with the sweet deep sounds as I listened to this complimentary performance at my local library.    

Free Taiko Performance @ the FV Library, CA
No BOGO Free for me today @ F21 :(
Not a bad way to start the weekend considering the price, proximity to my house, and the cultural learning.  Again, the Deals Diva from the OC Register alerted me about this performance. Not sure what I'd do without this newspaper buddy.


After the performance I headed over to South Coast Plaza to evaluate Forever 21's "Buy 1, Get 1 Free" offerings and out of the 20 pieces, I didn't find anything worth buying and put them all back.

Now as awesome as "the deal" was, bargain hunting is only helpful when you actually use your purchase. You're not saving any money if you make purchases that will sit in your closest. We all know we've done it.  Gosh I've done it multiple times.

But today was victorious! and I feel great that the marketing tactic didn't work on me this time!  But boy was I hungry by the end of hunt.  


Pesto Turkey (approx. $7) @ Euro Cafe, Costa Mesa CA
If you haven't done so already, be sure to download the Yelp app on your phone (I don't work for them BTW) because it's a great way to find local restaurants, bars, salons etc and you can see how other people have experienced those shops.  We came across this cute little cafe on her phone and the price range was just up our alley. Check out my review here.

Additionally, if you "check-in" you may be able to get a freebie or a discount on your purchase. For that particular shop we got free cookies. Woot!


On the side note. For those of you who are interested in attending the Pageant of the Masters. They're selling discounted tickets for one of the performances!  Thanks to the Deals Diva once more.  




Summary for Today's Tips
1. Follow your local paper and find free things to do in your area.
2. With promotions we are easily tempted to purchased solely because of "the deal."  Resist the temptation if you don't love or need that purchase.
3. Download the yelp app on your smartphone to help you find local flare and check-in to unlock discounts or freebies!


What do you think about the BOGO Free marketing tactic? Have you made purchases that you had second thoughts about? If yes, what did you end up doing with them?


Yours Truly,


Irene




Monday, July 9, 2012

Pageant of the Masters


Friday I had the pleasant opportunity to check out one of Orange County’s treasure—The Pageant of the Masters in Laguna Beach, CA.  As one of the winners in the Deals Diva’s youtube challenge, I was awarded two tickets to a VIP preview.  Click here for the article on the OC Register website with my “award-winning” youtube clip. Yeah, it's not that impressive, but still a winner! 

As an avid Facebook user, I think there’s a great advantage to following your local newspaper.  Merchants and Entertainers want people to know about their sales and events, so it makes sense that they would inform these agencies about what's happening. I follow Deals Diva on Facebook and have found countless free or near-free activities, sample sales, and events.  Here's the link to her facebook page.  But onto the show!

The Pageant of the Masters Entrance

The Pageant of the Masters was a pretty magical experience and it's definitely something you need to do at least once!  Read my account on my yelp page here. I especially encourage all SoCal residents to check it out. This show has been going strong for 80 years and tickets are sold as early as January for July showings.   Now it's unfair for me to call this a bargain since I received the tickets for free. But here are a few tips to help you get the best bang for your buck!



Planning for a performance/show

1. Do your research. For any shows/performances be sure to check out yelp and search for "parking" within the reviews.  Laguna Beach is especially notorious for being one of the worst places to find parking and past attendants will definitely give you the 411.  In this case, it's cheaper to park at the meter ($1 hourly) vs. a parking lot ($10 flat rate) since they're not enforced after 7pm.  The show is usually at 8:30pm, so be sure to get there early!

Outdoor Stadium Seating
2. Dress in layers. Yes some patrons came decked out in their fancy-shamcy outfits, but were freezing by the intermission. The show capitalized on this and rented blankets for $5.  Be prepared!  

3. Bring your own food and drinks.  Not only will you not have pay a premium for the items but you won't have to wait in line either!

4. Borrow Binoculars.  They will rent it for $9 at the show, I'm sure you can find a neighbor or relative to lend you theirs for free.   

5. Check out all the exhibits.  Tickets for this show start at $20, but all tickets include entry for the artist fair.  There are some pretty amazing professional and student artwork and jewelry pieces, which will definitely entertain you.  See the photo below... made completely out of spoons and knives!!! 

Spoon and knife shark. Crazy talent at this artist fair!


Summary of Today's Tips
For any show or event, you definitely need to do your research. Ask family and friends who have gone in the past, or search on yelp/tripadvisor/urbanspoon for recommendations or advice.  This will definitely minimize your spending if you plan it out in advance.

If you have tips on minimizing expenses and maximizing the Pageant experience leave a comment below.  


Yours Truly,

Irene     

Thursday, July 5, 2012

A Package for Moi?!

Surprise Surprise! :D
Upon arriving home I noticed a large package sitting on at my doorstep and I don't know about you, but I love receiving packages (especially big ones!) So of course I grabbed my box and rushed to find a pair of scissors to open it. And to my surprise, it was my custom t-shirt blanket that I ordered a couple of months ago! Yay! I looked over my new blanket in all it's glory and to no surprise my first reaction went something like this...

"Goodness I spent a lot of money on all those cheer uniforms!"

I am so gracious that my parents allowed me to participate in such an expensive activity, and I guess because of that I couldn't bring myself to donate those old uniforms to Goodwill.  Same with some of the other t-shirts, since I designed them back in high school.  Donating them would be like... giving away a part of my soul.  Okay, maybe not that dramatic, but you catch my drift.

But one day I found Mominizer, a small business focused on custom quilts, through Plum District, a Groupon0esc Website for moms. And no I am not one with child but they just have really fantastic deals that are very family-oriented like zoo tickets, pizza parties spa treatments, etc. If you're into that I highly recommend checking them out. Click here.

Now of course if you can sew and want to create your own quilt, all the more power to you! But unfortunately, I have zero skills in sewing. So this was my best option, which is a-okay because they did a great job and now I can use these sentimental pieces from high school and college in a conventional manner! I plan to use this as a cover-up for my bed and maybe even take this along for tomorrow's outdoor show, since it is predicted to be cold.

At the time this promotion was $75 for $150 worth of one of her quilt packages. I choose the 3x4 shirt quilt simply because I only had 12 items that I wanted on the quilt. That's quite a bargain for a hand-made and extremely time-consuming project, but here are some tips to save even a few more bucks.

***First, create an account on Fatwallet.com (Free) or use your Credit Cards Rewards Mall incentive.  These are middle-men websites that get paid a commission if you use their link to make an online purchase to one of their participating online sotes (ie. Groupon, Ann Taylor, Threadless, etc).  All this means is if you use their website to connect to your designation website, they're earn money and you'll earn money (given that you make a purchase).

It usually takes Fatwallet 90 days to process, but when it's all said and done you will get cash back. I think I earned $1.88 on that particular item through Fatwallet. The cash back will add up if you regularly utilize this option.

***Second search for a "Promo Code".  I like to use RetailMeNot.com but you can use Google too.  Copy and paste that code into the identified box on the merchants webstie and voila! You've just saved even more.  The coupon codes for this particular website (Plum District) ranges from 10%-25%.


Summary of Today's Tips
1.  Rethink ways to use items you already own. In this case old shirts can turn into a blanket!
2.  Use a middle-man website (such as Fatwallet) before reaching your final website destination. You can earn cash back this way
3. Always search for a Promo Code. It just takes a few clicks and you can potentially save a large percentage of your purchase off.

What do you guys think about these methods? Do you have any middle-men servers or Promo-Code websites that can help us save even more?  Would love to hear from you.

Yours Truly.

Irene


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy Birthday America!

$20 Lieutenant Playsuit from Lolita Girl
What a great way to kick off summer by celebrating our country's birthday.  Woohoo!  With friends, family, BBQ, and fireworks I really don't know a better way to commemorate the good ole red, white, and blue.  Well, this year I did... I up-ed myself a notch and purchased an all American-made and 50's inspired romper by Lolita Girl.  Check out my review on Yelp here.

I absolutely love this blue romper as it's both comfy and playful.  It definitely shows off my curves without showing too much skin and I love the white accent high waisted belt as it gives the allusion of an hour-glass figure.  Additionally, the quality is top-notch as the material is super soft and the stitching is impecable.  But if that wasn't enough wait till you hear this. I bought this adorable outfit for just 20 bucks!  A total steal in my opinion given the design and fabric choice.

So you might be wondering how I was able to snag this deal. Well... I think one important concept to grasp for bargain hunting is to shop off-season. I purchased this romper back in February during her Sample Sale.  "Like" her on facebook to find out about her next one!    


$2 swimsuit
Now it's definitely not summer if you're not wearing your swimsuit. Sadly, I didn't go for a swim, but I did wear it today! I bought this cute black and white Mossimo (Target brand) two piece for a buck a piece. Yup you heard me, a buck a piece. So a total of $2.

Again... I bought this during an off-season for swimming, which in this case was December.  Ironically, I didn't buy this at Target and I'm sure many of you will be quite surprised where I made this find.  I actually bought this at my local Swap Meet (Golden West College Swap Meet for you local OC readers) and it was new with tags! And since it was at the Swap Meet, there was no tax-- Score!

Target (and many other companies) often resale their left-over merchandise to other vendors to make room for new items in their store.  Makes sense, and it totally appeases my wardrobe and wallet. I actually bought 2 other swimsuits here and use them as sports bras when I go to the gym.  Thinking outside the box on how you can utilize your merchandise is a great way to save money too!  So you really can use your swimsuit year-round, even if you live in colder climates.



Summary on Today's Tips
1. Buy merchandise off-season.  Merchants want to push out their inventory to make room for incoming shipments, which is great for both parties.
2. Sign up on your favorite product's Facebook page and watch out for Sample Sale annoucements.
3. Think outside the box to utilize your merchandise. You'll get the best bang for your buck!
4. Check out our local Swap Meet. You never know what you're going to find and it's tax-free!

Hope this was helpful and I hope you all had a wonderful and patriotic day.

Yours Truly,
Irene





      



Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Just Me, Myself, and Irene

And so it begins... Hello world, it's Irene!  Your favorite Rockstar. (A pet-name given to me by one of my girlfriends in college)  I was born and raised a bargain hunter and thought that I'd share my secrets on how to snag a deal on everything-- clothes, food, entertainment... basically any product or service to enhance our lives. Paying retail is a foreign concept to me, and though I'm a working woman now my bargain roots have kept me grounded.  I'm inspired by my mother who was a frugal fashionista and hope that one day I can inspire others as she's inspired me.  So I hope you enjoy this blog and thanks for reading!

Yours truly,