Feb 27, 2011

Compostable sneakers- the next big thing or just odd?

     So I read this article on compostable sneakers and was intrigued by the idea. At first I envisioned sneakers that melted off your feet when it rained. Apparently, they are a little more durable than that. "Made using hemp, cork, bio-cotton, certified biodegradable plastics, chlorine-free bleach and other nontoxic materials, the shoes are designed to completely break down when buried in the ground." The concept is the brain child of a Dutch duo who call their company OATS. You can't buy them yet, but they are keeping all of their potential customers up to date with a blog. The initial sales will only be released in Europe. They have stirred up a lot of buzz. The shoes won second prize at last month's Green Fashion Awards in Amsterdam. No price is posted so I am wary about what they will charge for these "green" shoes.

     I honestly never really thought about what happens to my sneakers after I am done wearing them since I usually donate them. I have seen some pretty snazzy planters made out of old boots though. I'm not big on high tops but I guess it would be pretty cool to plant your shoes in your back yard. They have wildflower seeds in the tongue so they would actually grow something. It's definitely an interesting idea.
Feb 21, 2011

10 Things You Waste Money on Everyday

MSN had an article on the 10 Things people waste money on daily. Their list is:
1. Lottery tickets
2. Expensive coffee drinks
3. Newsstand Magazines
4. Dry cleaning
5. Premium gasoline
6. Movie concessions
7. Workday lunches
8. Professional Manicures and Pedicures
9. High-Priced Grooming Products
10. premium cable channels

I am doing alright in most of the categories. I don't buy lottery tickets (it's a voluntary tax). I only buy magazines when I'm flying somewhere. It's sort of a treat I allow myself at the airport. My car takes regular gas so I'm good there. I almost always bring my lunch to work. I buy all of our grooming products as cheaply as possible at CVS and we don't subscribe to premium cable channels.

There are areas in which I could improve. I make my coffee at home with my cappuccino machine most days but I do occasionally give in to the urge to patronize Starbucks. Luckily, my students help subsidize this habit with giftcards. I have about 5 clothing items that require dry cleaning. I put it off as long as possible and hand wash everything I can. My cashmere sweaters are the one item I really worry about so I do take them to the cleaners. That being said, I have yet to pay the $150 to have my wedding dress cleaned and we are quickly approaching our 3 year anniversary (I really need to get this done...). I don't attend the movies often, but when I do I am a sucker for overpriced movie popcorn. I try to economize this by buying the $5 kid pack that includes a small soda and candy in addition to the popcorn. I love pedicures but only get them about twice a year because of the expense. I should probably cut them out altogether but you have to indulge once in awhile I suppose.

So, how do you stack up against the list? Are you guilty of any of these frugal infractions?
Feb 14, 2011

A frugal review of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

    Last weekend, after a year of waiting patiently, I finally went to the The Wizarding World of Harry Potter! Although the $80 ticket to Islands of Adventure was steep, for a die hard Potter fan like me it was worth the money. That being said, there are still some ways to save on your adventure to Hogsmeade.
     I think the first thing that struck me was just how well done everything was. Hogsmeade village was meticulously recreated. Half of the fun was simply walking through the village. It really was like the books had come alive. I felt like I had fallen through the pensieve.
      The rides were all great. It rained and was Super Bowl Sunday so crowds were not a problem for us. The hallmark ride, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, lived up to expectations. It made me a little nauseous with all of the video involved but it was still fun. This is the ride located in Hogwarts Castle. Half of the fun is waiting in line to see all of the sights such as Dumbledore's office and the Griffendor common room.
        The flight of the Hippogriff is a kid friendly coaster. For those of you familiar with Islands of Adventure it is the old "Flight of the Unicorn." Hagrid's Hut is there along with Buckbeak the Hippogriff.
         After those rides we hit some of the shops. Merchandise is pricey. The best deal in the park for a souvenir is to mail a postcard from the owlry. The postcards cost about $1. The really exciting part is that you mail the cards from Hogsmeade and it is postmarked "Hogsmeade." Make sure to bring your own stamps though. They sell a sheet of Hogwarts stamps for $14 so they are seriously marked up.
         Other merchandise is comparable with other theme park fare. The way I see it, if you are a die-hard fan and there is something you really want it's worth it. Otherwise, I would pass. Adult t-shirts ran between $25-30. Honestly, the experience of being in Zonkos and Honeydukes is awesome even if you don't purchase a $10 chocolate frog.
         Lunch at the Three Broomsticks was, again, a great experience. My only complaint is that service was VERY slow. The most economical dish was the fish and chips and it was very good. It cost under $8. I heard the shepherd's pie was not so good, but the ribs and chicken were alright. The Butterbeer was delicious! I would splurge for the frozen one since it waters the sugar down a bit. The portion is generous so if you have smaller children I would ask for an extra cup and share it. Also, the adult fish and chips could be split between 2 children for cheaper than buying 2 children's meals.
        After lunch we rode the Dragon Challenge roller coasters. The theme is the Triwizard Tournament so there was plenty of cool things to view in line. Some of the minutiae included the Triwizard Cup, the golden dragon eggs, the tent that the champions waited in etc. If you rode the old dueling dragons ride it is the same,  the line experience was just updated.
         We didn't do Olivander's wand experience. With a price tag of about $40 it wasn't worth it for me.
        The one souvenir that I really liked but wasn't willing to pay for was a scarf in the house colors. They were between $25 and $35. The most basic could be knitted for under $7 or so. Definitely over priced.
          Ultimately, I had a great day. It is totally worth the entrance fee but I would go easy on the merchandise. It's worth it to send your friends (or yourself) postcards from Hogsmeade if you bring your own stamps. I would definitely eat at the Three Broomsticks. Set a limit on souvenirs so you don't go overboard.