Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Cheap Stuff I Love

I’m a big fan of a blog called The Bloggess (thebloggess.com), written by the quirkily hilarious Jenny Lawson. She wrote a blog the other day listing a bunch of her favorite things that are “worth spending money on or that are totally free anyway.” It occurred to me that it would be fun to put together a list like that of my own, so here it is: Ten things that are, to me, worth their low price – or, even better, free.

Free Kindle Books – free
There are plenty of websites dedicated to posting links to a few ebook titles every day that are either free or only a few dollars. A simple search for “free Kindle books” on amazon.com will come up with a long list of titles in various genres that can be downloaded at no cost. Some of them are worth exactly what you pay for them, but I’ve stumbled across enough gems to make searching every now and then worthwhile. And even the horrible ones are occasionally so horrible that they circle around to being entertaining.

Dunkin Donuts Butter Pecan Iced Coffee - $3.24
For less than 4 bucks, I get half an hour of caffeine- and sugar-laced nirvana over ice. I avoid splurging on them too often, due to the calories rather than to the price, but every now and then the indulgence is worth it.

Shoes from Payless - $12

I have enough issues with my feet that my shoes need to be either ridiculously expensive (so they actually fit – and last) or absurdly cheap (so I don’t care that they don’t fit that well and don’t last that long because I can throw them out in six months without feeling guilty). Since I love shoes, in my closet right now I have two very expensive pairs of shoes (sneakers and black dress shoes) and literally dozens of cheap pairs that I got at Payless Shoes. I have two pairs of red patent pumps (different shades of red), black patent pumps, navy pumps, white pumps, black and white tweed pumps, black slingbacks, black booties (that my husband fondly refers to as my “Captain Kirk boots”), red tennis shoes, black ballet flats with leopard print toes, ivory peep-toe heels, and at least twenty more pairs of shoes, all of which cost me less than 20 bucks apiece and many less than 15.

Lush Bath Products - $5.25
For the past few Christmases, my husband and/or stepdaughter have given me a carefully-selected collection of bath stuff from Lush. Bath bombs that fizz and spin when you drop them in the water, glitter bars that add a shimmer when you slide them over dry skin (I mistook one for soap once and was washing glitter out of my various crevices for about a month), cubes that add beautiful colors and scents to the bathwater, cubes that make your skin soft and smooth, cubes that make you feel refreshed and alert, cubes that make you feel relaxed and mellow. Soaking in a tub full of scented bubbles erases the mental and emotional (and occasionally physical) scars from a bad day, assures me a relaxing night’s sleep, and readies me to face the next day with a clean slate.

Schick Intuition Razors - $11.99
The first time I saw these razors with the built-in chunk of moisturizing…um, stuff, I rolled my eyes a little. But Santa tucked one into my Christmas stocking last year and now I’m a convert. No more flaky dry skin after shaving. No more nicks on my knobby knees. No more running out of shaving cream after shaving a single leg. I can even shave my legs without getting in the shower, just by running a damp washcloth over them first. (OK, the website says you’re not supposed to do that. But I do it anyway. I like living on the edge.) It’s faster, it’s closer, and it’s smoother. It’s fabulous.

Non-Stick Reynolds Wrap - $3.48
The only thing I bake directly on a cookie sheet rather than a cookie sheet covered with non-stick Reynolds wrap is actual cookies. Anything else – chicken, pork, potatoes, pizza – goes on wrap that gets tossed without needing washing. Corn on the cob gets buttered, salted, and wrapped in its silvery embrace, then roasted on the grill. Ground beef gets frozen in it and then thawed without needing to pick off miniscule shards of metal one at a time. I’ve even been known to line the crock pot with it.

Frilled Toothpicks - $2.49
No, really. My 3-1/2-year-old will eat almost anything if I impale it with a frilled toothpick. Boring appetizers are instantly transformed into “crudités” by the addition of a frilled toothpick. And when my 2-year-old locks herself in the bathroom and can’t (or won’t) get out, a frilled toothpick makes a great lock pick.

Velcro - $3.99
As a costumer, a performer, and the mother of small children, I bless the inventor of Velcro every single day. It’s so much easier to sew into a costume than a zipper, and faster and easier than buttons when you have a quick costume change. And as for children’s clothes and shoes, my kids can dress themselves in ways they never could if they had to learn to zip and tie first. Besides, that distinctive rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrip sound is extremely satisfying.

Bubble Wrap – free (usually)
Speaking of distinctive and extremely satisfying noises, there is none more distinctive or more satisfying than the sound made by popping bubble wrap. It’s been putting the “fun” in ‘functional” since 1957!! Much like a child who opens a birthday gift and plays with the box instead of the toy, when I receive a package with the contents carefully padded with bubble wrap, I always go for the wrap first. The item is just an afterthought until all the bubbles have been deflated. It’s so much cheaper than therapy.

Gift Bags - $2.49
In my childhood, there was no such thing as a gift bag. If you received an oddly-shaped gift, it came lumpily swathed in yards of paper (wrapping or news – if you were lucky, they used the Sunday comics) and scotch tape. If you received an oversized gift, it came wrapped in a black trash bag. But thanks to the modern miracle of gift bags, one trip to the Hallmark store and you can wrap any conceivable gift in festive fashion in seconds merely by popping it into a bag.

For the low, low price of only $41.45, you can invest in all ten items on this list. For less than fifty bucks, you get entertainment, stylish feet, luxurious pampering, therapy, classiness, silky smooth legs, and time. Hours of time saved that would have been spent on dull chores like dressing your children and wrapping presents – now it’s all yours to spend on pure reading, soaking, popping, drinking pleasure. Trust me, it’ll be the best fifty bucks you ever spent, AND you’ll still have enough cash left over to catch a movie. Well, a matinee, anyway. (Don’t forget to bring your own popcorn.)

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