Category Archives: steals and deals

Tea Collection deals on Zulily today!

I’ve been sitting on some store credits from Zulily*, so I was super excited to see Tea Collection on sale today!  The sale amounted to about 50% off the regular prices, but with my credit, were even cheaper.

I love their girl’s clothes- patterns, (non-pink) colors, etc.

So these are what I picked up:

Two of them I got in a size 4 so they’ll be a little big right now, but Mabel will hopefully be able to wear them next year too.  The other I got in a size 3.

However, Mabel routinely wears dresses for a long time because this year’s dress is next year’s tunic with leggings!

*Full disclosure:  If you use the links in this email to join Zulily (you have to be a member to shop) and you purchase something, I will get a referral credit.  I’m pretty sure you can join without a referral if you want- or you can see if a friend has an account and use their referral link so they get the credit!

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Library Love Affair

I love my library.  Every place I have ever lived, I have gotten a library card.

This morning I’m at the library with my kids for Mother Good Story Time (for the under 2 set) and Toddler Story Time (for the preschool set). [Note:  I’m working from home- because Mac has an onsite freelance gig- and loving it!]

In college- even though I had access to one of the biggest and best libraries in the WORLD (not exaggerating, it includes a Guttenburg Bible), I still got a library card from the local library.  Actually, I was so excited the summer I lived off-campus, and had a bill that would entitle me to join!

I actually still have a library card from my childhood library- where my parents still live.  I have all my old library cards- from places I lived as an undergrad, grad student, and post-doc.  Getting a library card for the new address is always on the top my to do list when I move to a new place.


My library posted this on Facebook.  I “like” my local library on Facebook.  Source

Who needs Netflix?  I’ve already put a hold on Wreck It Ralph, which isn’t even available yet.  I also don’t buy books- I get them from the library- for free (if you don’t count my tax dollars).

Another awesome thing- where I live gives me access to TWO libraries!  My neighborhood is one of those odd ones that has an address in one town, but actually sends kids to to a different school district in another town.  So, my local city taxes support the library in my town and entitle me to library card there, but my school tax dollars go to support the library in neighboring town and entitle me to a card there too!

Truth be told, I only have a card for the library in the neighboring town, because it’s a lot easier to get to from my house and has free parking- unlike the one in our little city that has limited street parking so you wind up having to park in a parking garage.

However, I really like that I can go to either and take out books if I choose.

Do you have a library card?

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Steals and Deals: Tea Collection and Target

I am cheap.  Really cheap.  It’s like that saying, “Champagne taste on a beer budget.”

So how do I make it work?  Deal sites and clearance sales.

For instance, I love Tea Collection stuff for Mabel.  I love the prints, the bright colors, the cut of the clothes.  However, free shipping on orders over $150 is no bargain!  Uh, I don’t care how cute it is, I’m not paying  $140 for four pieces of kids clothing unless it washes itself!

So, I head to my local children’s consignment store, or shop the seasonal consignment sales that pop up in my area.  I also frequent those flash sale sites- like Gilt, Haute Look, Totsy, Zulily, Mini Social, etc.*

A few weeks ago, Zulily had a sale on Tea Collection and I got the dress below for….$4.92!

Tea Collection Lotus Vines Dress

How?  Well, if I had gotten it on Amazon it would have been $39; however, Zulily was offering it for $21.99 and I had a store credit (combination of credits from referrals, see * below) and they were running a promotion where you could get free shipping on your first order placed with their new iPhone/Android app.

It’s super cute, Mabel loves it, and for less than $5, you can’t beat it!

It fits her just right now, but my other cheapskate trick is “this year’s dress is next year’s tunic!”  She wears cute dresses that are too short lengthwise with leggings and they work.  So we should easily be able to get a full year out of this.  She actually has one Tea Collection top that she’s been wearing since she was 9 months old!  It’s sleeveless (no too-short sleeves to give it away), and started out as a dress, so it went from dress to tunic to shirt.

My other recent deal was this super cute top from Target:

I had seen it online for like $7 and didn’t want to pay that.  Then a few days later I was in Target and found it on a clearance rack for $2.98 and picked it up.  Mabel wore this last Friday when we randomly had an 80 degree day in October, but she probably won’t wear it again this season.  Since I figured it was too late for this top for this year, I got it a size bigger (3T I think?) so she can wear it next summer.

I wish I had as easy a time finding bargains on plus-sized clothes for me as I do finding stuff for Mabel!


*Note- these links are my referral links.  All these sites are ‘invitation only’ for some reason.  I’m not sure if it’s so the low prices are less public or just to make people feel special that they’ve been invited.  Most of them you can join without an invite if you are willing to wait a while for membership.  The most likely reason they do this is free advertising.  If you invite someone and that person joins and actually buys something, you get a store credit.  Thus, members will be encouraged to get people to join just so they can get credits- like some money saving pyramid scheme.  So, if you use the links above to join any of those deal sites and you purchase something, I will get a store credit.  If you ask around amongst your friends and find that one of them is a member, get their referral link, join and buy something, they will get the credit.  Just want to be upfront about that.

Invitation link to Gilt.

Invitation link to Zulily.

Invitation link to Totsy.

Invitation link to Haute Look.

Invitation link to The Mini Social.

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My favorite place to shop for kids’ stuff…

This is part of the Show Us Your Life series at Kelly’s Corner.  This week’s topic is:  Favorite places to shop for kids’ stuff.

Well, first things first.  I’m cheap.  I do not like paying full price for anything- especially not clothes for Mabel that she’ll outgrow rapidly.  So, where do I shop to avoid breaking the bank?

Once Upon a Child– which sells gently used kids clothes (from infant to teen), gear, and toys.  It’s a national chain, so chances are there’s one near you (you can find locations here).

I routinely find Tea Collection, Zutano, Janie and Jack, Baby Gap, Children’s Place, Stride Rite, and other name brand items for a tiny fraction of the original price.  I do particularly well during clearance time when clothing items are 10 for $10!

Take this haul for instance:

So what’s there- 8 dresses (Old Navy, Children’s Place, etc), 5 pairs of pants (Zutano, etc.), 3 tops, 1 Baby Gap Sweater, a music table, and a tricycle.

All for a grand total of….. $45!  Yup.

To see a similarly spectacular haul from a more recent trip, see this post.

I try to go to Once Upon a Child first whenever I need something.  Since Mabel was born, we’ve gotten our Britax umbrella stroller, her Farm set, her rocking horse, the music table, her tricycle, and lots and lots of clothes and shoes there.  They have pretty much any baby/kid related item you could think of from bikes to Bjorns.

The other plus- you can sell the items you no longer need to them for cash!  Last year when I wanted to get a bed rail for our bed (so I could nurse Mabel without worrying about her rolling out!) I sold some clothes we didn’t want and was able to get the bed rail for next to nothing!

I tell every new mom about Once Upon a Child.  It is a major money saver.


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Steals and Deals: Rainbow Steps Mary Janes on Totsy

Mabel has been outgrowing shoes like it’s her job.  I’ve complained about it before.

Well, thanks to a Living Social voucher where I could get $30 to spend on Totsy for only $15, Mabel got some new shoes.  Specifically, Mary Janes.

Back in Auguest, Totsy was having a sale on Rainbow Steps shoes.

I’m a fan of vibrant colors, so these are the ones I chose:

Description: Rainbow Steps Mary Jane with Velcro

I also purchased these Pipsqueaks:

Description: Pipsqueaks Mary Jane with Daisies

I got the first pair in in a Little Kid 6, and the second in a Little Kid 7.  I had to scour the internet for a size chart since Totsy’s didn’t make any sense.  The sizes listed in the chart (1,2,…,1,2- yup there were more than one of several sizes with different measurements), didn’t match the pull down menu to pick a shoe size (little kid 4 v. big kid 1v. toddler 1).  So, I was practically ordering blind.  Of course there’s no 24 hour toll free number to call for help and they have a Draconian return policy- so it’s buyer beware.

Anyway- I hadn’t purchased Rainbow Steps before, so I wasn’t sure about the quality of the brand.  Now that they are here, they seem a little bit cheap.  I can already foresee the velco closure ripping away from the shoe- it doesn’t seem securely attached.  Also, there are some areas around the sole of the shoe where the glue has oozed out and discolored the upper.  If Mabel keeps growing at this pace, the quality may not be an issue- she might grow out of them before they wear out.  For what I paid, with the Totsy discount and all, I’m OK with them and really love the colors.

The Pipsqueaks seem to be better quality, but since they are still too big for Mabel, we’ll have to wait and see how they hold up.

Overall, I’m not a big fan of Totsy.  In addition to the inexplicable size chart, their ordering system is a wreck.  Every time you revisit your shopping cart, the visible countdown showing you how much more time you have the item reserved for (before it becomes available to another shopper) resets.  So, you really have no idea if the item will still be in your cart when you check out.  I learned this the hard way when I had a pair of shoes in my cart, then through the whole checkout process, hit submit and found the item had disappeared at that final moment.  Their customer service was unapologetic and unhelpful.  Despite reporting this to them, they still haven’t fixed it.  I think it’s a big sham to get you to pay for shipping and handling on separate orders because something went missing.  So, if you’re thinking of ordering from them- beware.


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Steals and Deals: Boba Carrier on Zulily

This past weekend I was with Mabel in the Catskills.  My family has a cabin on several acres there.  On Saturday afternoon my cousin and I decided to take a walk to the pond and pick blackberries (if we could find any left behind by the bears and birds) along the way.

Mabel came along with us, but the tall grass, hills, and rocks were too much for her tiny legs, so she wanted to be carried most of the way.

Last summer we had the Baby Bjorn"", which was a little rough on the back but doable for short walks/hikes around the property.  This summer she’s too big for it- or at least too big to make it comfortable.

Mac and Mabel at the pond last fall.

So, on the way up, I gave her a piggyback ride.  However, because she doesn’t understand that she’s supposed to actually hold on, I had to lean way forward and basically let her sit on my hands.  Despite being stooped over, she still tugged on my shirt and choked me.

On the way back, I opted to put her on my shoulders.  Well, neither of us really liked that.  It was pretty easy having her up there, but she didn’t want to sit on my shoulders and kept twisting and trying to climb down.  Add to that the rocky, slippery, wet, and muddy path and not having my hands free if we should fall, it wasn’t working.

We’re planning a trip to Costa Rica in the Spring, and after this past weekend, I knew we needed a back-carrier.

I had been keeping my eyes peeled at tag sales, on Craig’s List, and in children’s resale shops for months with no luck.  I really wanted an Ergo because I had heard such good things about it, but I wasn’t going to shell out that much money for it.

Yesterday (or was it Monday?) I saw that Zulily was having a sale on Boba carriers.  I read reviews on Amazon (here) and it got high marks and compared favorably to the Ergo according to the reviewers.

However, I’m cheap.  I still wasn’t going to the pay $59.99 plus $5.95 shipping.  Yes $65.94 is much better than $100, but I still wasn’t sold.

Well, today I am glad I waited!  I was reading on Boba’s Facebook page and one of the commenters left a coupon code for $10 off!

Maybe it’s the psychological thrill of getting a deal, but I felt like $55.94 was worth it.

So, this is Mabel’s new ride:


I haven’t tried it on, but from the reviews for the Boba Classic Baby Carrier"" on Amazon, it works for larger people, and if it doesn’t work for us and we have to re-sell it, I’m sure we can recoup the cost.

If I was rich, and money was no object, I would probably get one of the gorgeous Petunia Pickle Bottom Ergo Carriers"".  I love the patterns, but not the price!  Although I’m not sure Mac would want to wear something that feminine.

Do you guys use carriers?  Which do you use?  Would you recommend it?

Oh- and of course, I’m going to share!  Here is the Zulily coupon code I used!  SMDF10


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What would you pay to see your DNA?

The other day ideeli was running a special on “DNA art” from DNA 11.

Apparently people are willing to spend a good chunk of money to see their DNA run on a gel, imaged, blown up, and hung on the wall.

What a thoughtful anniversary present to hang over the marital bed- his and her's DNA portraits! Source:

The only DNA gel pictures I ever hung up where the “Hall of Shame” type where something went horribly, comically wrong.  And, I only hung those above my bench in lab as a grim reminder of time wasted, never on my living room wall.

What strikes me as quite funny is that as a TA for MOL101 back in grad school, we actually had students collect buccal cells (cheek cells), run a PCR reaction, do restriction enzyme digest on the product, and run it all on gels (we also had it sequenced).  The goal was to determine if they were PTC (phenylthiocarbamide) tasters.  They ran gels and looked at their DNA digested by the restriction enzymes as well as the DNA we had sequenced from their PCR reactions, and correlated it with whether or not they could taste PTC.  [For more info on PTC tasting, see here.  For a description of the lab, see here.]  Other than the university charging students tens of thousands of dollars to matriculate, getting the picture of the DNA on the gel was ‘free.’

I could see the appeal of 23 and Me, where you actually get some data, bona fide genetic information, and an interface that lets you learn about it, but $199 for just a picture?  I’ll swab my own cheek, thankyouverymuch.

Would you pay for this type thing?  Should I start a side business?

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The search for the perfect toddler sandal

A few months ago I purchased this adorable pair of Hide & Squeak white fisherman sandals for Mabel.  They would have been $35 full price, but I purchased them from Zulily  for less than $12 including shipping!

Mabel HATED the squeaker in these.  It’s supposed to encourage them to walk, but all it did was drive the dog crazy (I think she thought they were dog toys) and scare Mabel.  When I first put them on her and stood her up, she took one step before the dog rushed her and she started screaming (because of the squeak, not the dog), refusing to move.  Thankfully the squeakers are removable.  So I took them out and after a few times of wearing them and crying for a few minutes, Mabel forgot about the squeakers and wore them just fine.

Of course now, two months later, she’s nearly outgrown them!  I am so bummed, because they are so cute, they’ve worn well, and she likes them.   So the hunt is on for a replacement.  I really like the closed toe on these (keeps her from stubbing her toes or catching her shoe on things); however, they are much less forgiving in the growth department.

So, I picked up the Payless version of the fisherman sandal.  I wasn’t crazy about it, but I had been frequenting several flash sale sites hoping for that same exact pair to go on sale with no luck.  There was no way I was paying $20+ for toddler shoes, so for $12.99 I got the Payless version.

I got them home and Mabel didn’t particularly like them.  They felt a little too tight height-wise through the arch of her foot and they were much chunkier and cheap looking than the pair she had.  I wasn’t very happy with them and debated returning them.

Thankfully tonight, I found something on Totsy that I think will work.

These are the Megan Squeaky Shoe from Itzy Bitzy.

While they were originally $22 and onsale now for $18.50, Totsy is selling them for $11.75.  Since I had a credit for free shipping, my grand total (plus tax) was $12.97.  They are open-toe, which should buy us more time than the closed-toe version and I’m hoping they are better quality than the Payless ones.  So, the Payless shoes are going back and we’ll see how these Itzy Bitzy sandals work out.  Fingers crossed.

Note to my readers:  sites like Zulily and Totsy are ‘invitation only,’ presumably so not everyone knows just how cheap their prices are.  The links I’ve provided to those sites in this post are my ‘referral’ link- basically an invitation link that will allow you to join the site.  I think both Zulily and Totsy offer referral credits- meaning if you join using my link and purchase something, I get a store credit.  If you don’t want to use my referral link, you can ask around to see if a friend is a member (then he/she will get the credit) or you can request a membership by going to their homepages.

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Steals and Deals

Saturday was my kind of day.  Time spent with Mabel and my sister, Meg, a new hair cut, a fair, lunch out, shopping, saving money.

After a morning haircut for me, we met up with Meg and spent the early afternoon at at the local hospital’s Kids Fair collecting helium balloons, petting a police dog, looking at a firetruck, and getting one of these (

After re-fueling with lunch out, we made out way to Once Upon A Child (  If you have a child and have never been to your local Once Upon A Child, get on with it!  They have everything from clothes to toys to bedding to strollers to potty seats to safety gear to hair bows to, well, you get the idea.

Whenever Mabel is in need of something- like T shirts or a rocking horse- I make Once Upon A Child my first stop.  We’ve made out there great in the past (especially during the 10 for $10 end of season clearance sales) and yesterday was no exception.

I got everything you see below (name brands like Gap, Children’s Place, Carter’s, Tea Collection, Zutano, etc.) for $25!  Cannot beat it.

Meg, being the generous aunt she is, got all of this:

…AND 10 onsies for her college friend who’s expecting in September for $19!  Aren’t those skeleton bones PJs adorable?

I definitely tell all parents I meet to find their local Once Upon A Child or other children’s resale shop and always start there.

Other tricks I’ve used- Freecycle (, local neighborhood listservs, Craigslist, Goodwill, and tag sales.

What do you do to save money on kids’ stuff?

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