Random Neural Firings

the inner workings of a restless creative brain

Black Friday Deals

November22

Let the shopping begin! According to Gallup, Americans are planning to spend more on Christmas gifts this year than last (and much more than they planned to spend in 2008-2009). I don’t care how much I’m spending, I like to get a deal. Great deals abound online; Amazon’s been running Black Friday deals all week. I’ll be tweeting out deals as I see them and posting links on my Facebook page so check in with me at either place for up-to-the-minute specials.

For those of you braving the mall traffic, or standing in line at Best Buy, first of all, my lazy hat’s off to you. I prefer to click my way to great savings. But while you’re mentally debating whether or not that ginormous flat screen TV is really a good deal, whip out your phone, scan the barcode and find out if it’s being sold for less somewhere else.

You’ll need an app, of course. There are dozens, but here are the ones I use most often:

1) ShopSavvy – scan the item’s bar code and it will return prices for both local stores and online

2)  Amazon’s App – this app has a feature that allows you to scan a barcode and it will tell you the price on Amazon. You can add the product to your wish list, or buy it from your phone. And if you can’t find the barcode, or the store has it covered with their own price sticker (which happens more often than I like!), you can take a photo of the product and Amazon will use an image search to match the product. It’s pretty slick. Android version here.

And before you head out, you might want to plan your trip using BlackFriday by DealNews. The app is chock full of ads (including some “leaked” ads) and has comparison shopping tools. (You can also visit the DealNews website which is a great resource for the best deals, by product or store.)

All right, so while you’re out and about, I’ll be chasing my toddler and some good deals from my laptop. Or my iPad. Or my phone. DO NOT LET ME BUY A KINDLE FIRE or anything else that connects to the Internet. Happy Shopping!

Follow me on Twitter or Facebook for up-to-the-minute sales. Follow me on Pinterest for unique gift ideas.

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Perfect Gift for Angry Birds Fan

February24

Any Angry Birds fans out there? Angry Birds is an addictive little game for your mobile phone and one of the most popular apps available. Cheap for iPhone users, free for the Droid. My husband plays it. I play it. Lots of other people play it. This guy likes it so much he turned his children into birds and pigs to recreate a bird suicide mission in photography.

Or there’s this guy who created a set of Angry Birds out of Legos, which I dare not show my husband for fear I will lose him all weekend to the tackle box of Legos he saved from his childhood.

If you’re a fan, or know someone who is a fan, I’ve put together some links to Angry Bird merchandise for your shopping pleasure.

  • The official Angry Bird shop. i-Phone cases and plush dolls.
  • Looking for something hand made? Check out these crocheted angry birds. My husband wants this pig and I think it would look great in the built-ins in our living room. I think home decor should have a sense of humor, don’t you?

So there you have it . . . the perfect gift for the Angry Birds lover in your life. Rumor has it there’s a board game coming out soon, too, but I think we’ll skip it. Half the fun of this game is its low commitment; you can play it for a few minutes in line at the grocery, or anywhere, anytime.

Cross-posted with a few minor edits over at my work blog.

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Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas from Etsy

January19

Less than a month to go before Valentine’s Day. Plenty of time to shop if you’re going with chocolate or flowers but barely enough time if you want something personalized or custom-made. Here are a few sentimental gift ideas I’ve found on Etsy, one that I ordered for my hubby (but won’t say which one in the unlikely event he’s reading this).

Personalized crossword puzzle from NellaDesigns. Choose your colors, names, dates, etc. Just $22 for 8″x10″; she has larger sizes, too.

She also makes these cute, personalized silhouette prints of children. I see one with a boy pushing a truck; maybe I’ll get my son a Valentine’s Day gift this year, too!

How cute are these hand-stamped Hugs and Kisses bookends? And a very reasonable $34, too! This seller also makes bookends stamped with Love, and cute pillows, too. I particularly like his family pillow, customized with your last name and the year your family was established. Adorable!

I love, love, love this custom family tree print from cozyblue for $30. Love the rustic, yet modern feel. She makes them in several different colors so poke around her site to find the one you like.

Truthfully, some of these ideas are things I like. Chris is pretty sentimental so I think he would dig them, too. But your guy might prefer that you buy some new lingerie and surprise him with that.

Reminder: I accept no advertising and no paid endorsements. I only write about products I own or wish I owned!

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Black Friday Deals

November24

I’ll be posting Black Friday deals on my Facebook page and on my Twitter feed. I’ll try and stay focused on sales that are related to kids’ items or simply fabulous gift ideas.

Of course, like last year, (and the year before that, and the year before that), I’ll be shopping online from the comfort of home. Why go to the mall when I can get free shipping? Why plow through the racks trying to find my son’s size when I can click a box and have it all sorted for me online? Really, why not eat leftovers and click, click, click my way to shopping success?

Amazon is already starting their Black Friday lightning deals. They have new deals every hour and some sell out within minutes, so I always keep the page open and keep an eye on it.

All right, start your shopping engines.

And let me know in the comments if you’re stuck for a gift idea. I’ll try and help you out with some ideas.

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Father’s Day Gift Ideas – a Ring Holder

June7

I know it sounds like a gift for a girl but my husband always takes his wedding band off when he washes his hands and after one-too-many “Honey, I can’t find my ring” episodes, I decided to put ring holders near all the sinks in the house. Trouble us, most were too girlie or frilly or Victorian (yuck). I searched until I found a modern, clean-line, dare I say “masculine” ring holder. And here it is, made by Nambe. It’ll set you back $75 so it’s a splurge item but if your man is the sort who sheds his ring(s) often, it might be just the unique gift you’re looking for.

Keep checking back. I’ll be blogging other Father’s Day gift ideas all month. And if you have some unique ideas, please post them in the comments. Thanks!

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Friday’s Random Ramblings – Get Your Sale On!

March5

Did you catch my Facebook posts yesterday? I wanted to let you know about some great sales:

Zulily – If you use the code DAILYCANDYKIDS, you get an additional 25% off their already discounted prices. I bought some stuff yesterday so I can vouch that the code works but it expires TODAY so hurry! Are you familiar with Zulily? It’s a members-only online club (free and they don’t hassle you); each day they have a couple of new “shops” open with major discounts. Most of the stuff is boutique-y kids clothes or nice wooden toys, that sort of thing. I bought some cute t-shirts yesterday from Fierce Hugs. LOVE the one of the marmalade jar chasing the strawberry!

Kushies – This is the Canadian company where I’ve bought lots of footie pj’s for my son. I also really love their taffeta bibs; good size, easy to clean and modern. Two of their lines are 50% off and if you use the code FAIRYTALE, you get an additional 20% off anything in the store! I love, love, love their raincoats (see pic of my munchkin!). This code is good today through 3/11. I’m going to zip over there and buy some more bibs and Lil Aviator pants.

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Red Envelope is having their spring sale, with up to 50% off on some pretty great gifts. Check out this cute handprint growth chart for $14.99 (reg. $39.95) or this stud earring trio of semi-precious stones (peridot, blue topaz, and amethyst) – on sale for $29.99 (reg. $49.95).

Follow me on Facebook or Twitter; I try to keep my friends updated the minute I see hot deals or interesting articles! Happy shopping and I hope you have a great weekend! – Sherean

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Friday Random Ramblings – the Feverish Birthday Edition

January22

Oy. The little guy had a fever of 103 for several days this week with all the attendant fussiness one would expect. I think that’s the highest his fever has ever been, so of course, being the new mom that I am, I scooped him up and took him to the doc. Actually, with his history of bladder infection (he’s only had one but the docs consider that a history), we have to have him checked every time he has a fever. Fever with no other symptoms could be another UTI. And UTIs at his age can damage the kidneys.

So off to the doc we went. Do you know how they collect a urine sample from a baby boy? (If you’re a guy reading this, you might want to look away.) A catheter. Up the penis. Yup.

He’s had this done — oh I dunno — five or six times now but each time seems worse than the last. I actually cried with him this time. It’s just awful.

Urine was clean so file this fever under the 1,000 mystery viruses that babies get.

He seems to be cutting some pretty painful teeth again, causing more fussiness and lots of night wakings. And Suzy (our wonderful nanny) has been on vacation. She has a friend who fills in for her but our son still has a bit of stranger anxiety so it’s been a challenging week.

Still, I managed to squeeze in several meetings with clients and prospective clients. Lots of exciting things going on with my business. 2010 is off to a great start.

Speaking of great starts, this is always a good time of year for sales. I just got these green linen sheer curtain panels, 108″ long, for $34.95 a piece at Crate and Barrel. LOVE them! They will look fabulous in the great room of the new house.

And the end of January is always a busy time of year for us. My birthday is Sunday; my husband’s is next week. My sister, and an aunt and uncle, all had birthdays yesterday. My husband’s sister has a birthday next week. I’ve been scouring the web for good deals and gift ideas. Christopher’s sister loves to bake and I saw these nifty measuring cups that allow you to pour ingredients into your stand mixer without spilling them everywhere. I’m thinking I need to get these for myself! I’ll let you know if she likes them and how they work out.

There is a reason I call this blog Random Neural Firings. I am all over the map today, aren’t I? Hope you’re all having a great Friday. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MY RELATIVES!!!

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Message in a Bottle (Top Ten 2009 RePost)

January7

I found this on Etsy a while back and bookmarked it: a message in a bottle service! This seller takes your text, types it up on vintage paper (using an old TYPEWRITER no less!), seals it with wax and your monogram, rolls it up in a teeny, tiny bottle and attaches a cute vintage key. She then boxes it up and mails it for you. All this for just $15.

How GREAT would this be for a niece of nephew? Just a surprise letter telling them how much you care — maybe on their “half birthday.” Or send your sweetie a note. I think my pirate-loving nephew would love this; maybe I’ll send him one for Halloween.

Stuck for a gift idea? Send me a note (or a message in a bottle) with the subject: “Find it for me ‘Rean” and if I use your question, I’ll send you a $25 Amazon gift card.

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Friday’s Random Ramblings – the Nigella Lawson Edition

December11

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For me, it is impossible not to be seduced by Nigella Lawson’s words — whether in print, on television, or like today, in person. I literally sit down and devour her cookbooks like they’re novels, giggling along the way at her witty observations. So it was a given that I’d be at her book signing in Atlanta this afternoon. (That it was at my neighborhood Border’s was a bonus!) She took questions from the audience. “Will you have time to try out some of the local cuisine while you’re here,” one man asked. “Are you mad?” She replied, “The first thing I do when I get to a new town is plot out when and where I’ll be eating.” (If you’re curious: she ate at The Watershed, which she proclaimed one of the best places ever and Bones.)

Have you ever watched her TV show? If you get it in your area, I highly recommend it. It’s a cooking show that your husband will watch with you because she is, um – let’s just say it – hot. In a very unfussy way. Which describes her cooking and entertaining philosophy perfectly: unfussy.

Her new cookbook is Nigella Christmas and would make a great gift for any of your foodie friends!

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Friday Random Ramblings

December4

My best friend’s 10-year old daughter is in the Nutcracker this weekend and I’m going to see her perform today. This is her fifth year (or maybe sixth?) performing and it’s been fun to see her move up from hopping across the stage in a bunny costume to performing in two scenes this year. I’m so proud of her!

Last night, my son “cruised” for the first time, pushing his wagon walker across the living room. Very exciting!

And yesterday, we met with both the builder and decorator for our home. We made a few minor changes to the floor plan, like moving windows around, and made a lot of color and finish choices. We selected the exterior color (a blue-gray) with light tan accents and a dark Chestnut wood for the doors. We got the inspiration for the color palette from one of my son’s outfits!

I was at a marketing association lunch the other day and sat at a table of folks who work for a staffing company. They tell me that their business is growing and orders are up. I’m hopeful this means the economy has turned the corner since jobs are a lagging indicator.

What’s open in my browser? Well, I’m still shopping so Amazon is up, Red Envelope is up, and Toys R Us is up. Later today, I plan to do a holiday card so I imagine I’ll be spending some time on Shutterfly. But in terms of what might be interesting to you, check out these sites:

DesignPublic – a great site with modern furniture, accessories, and lots and lots of gifts. Plus kids stuff! You’ll find everything from Jonathan Adler to Thomas Frank to Dwell to Amenity here. Happy browsing!

CoolMomPicks Holiday Gift Guide – I always think I have good gift ideas until I check out their gift guide and realize I am SUCH an amateur. They have such great ideas and discounts on a lot of them. If you’re stuck for someone on your list, check them out.

Parenting.com’s Toy Contest – You may enter twice a day until Dec. 14th to win $900 worth of their selections for toys of the year. Get all your relatives without kids to enter, too, and increase your chance of winning!

Hope you all have a great weekend! We’re going to take the tot to Gymboree tomorrow and hit up some showrooms for interior house ideas (cabinets, tile, etc.). Atlanta’s supposed to be cold and rainy tomorrow, though, so that may put a damper on activities. What do you have planned?

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Cyber Monday is Here!

November30

Sorry I’m a little late to the party to post these; I had a business meeting this morning. LOTS of great CyberMonday specials. Check out some of these:

I’ll post more deals as I find them. Happy shopping!

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More Black Friday/Cyber Monday Deals

November26

I’m going to keep posting deals as I find them. Be sure and check Tuesday’s post for a good, long list of great deals and discounts. I figured I’d start a new post today because I’m discovering lots more good deals.

UPDATE:

  • Gymboree – 30% off EVERYTHING online NOW through Friday at 3:00 p.m. Or if you want to go to the store, it’s 30% off until noon Friday. After that, 25% off everything.
  • Red Envelope is always great when you want a nice gift but aren’t sure what to give. And even better with their Black Friday sales (which are already underway). UPDATE: Use code REDFRIDAY to get an additional 10% off orders over $50 (ends 11/29).

UPDATE (FRIDAY MORNING):

Pottery Barn: Spend $100, get a $20 gift card. This weekend only.

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Black Friday/Cyber Monday Deals

November24

OK, so I have a little secret: I hate the mall. I loved it when I was a teenager but today, I think it’s loud, noisy, and crowded. (Or it used to be crowded before the Big Scary Recession.) So I do most of my shopping online. I’m an Amazon Prime member and I order just about everything I can — even diapers — on Amazon.

So I’m always scouring the web for good deals and there are some outstanding ones right now. Of course, there are also some great deals in the stores — and many more coming this weekend for Black Friday.

I’m going to start posting deals as I find them. I’ll also tweet about it so follow me on Twitter if you want the deals quick and dirty.

All right, let’s get started, shall we? As noted in the New York Times today, Amazon is in a price war with Wal-Mart. And when these two behemoths start fighting, you and I are the lucky winners. Are you familiar with Amazon’s Black Friday “lightning deals”? They post a new deal (or two or three) every hour. Limited quantities. Well, this year, they’ve started their lightning deals early. As in, they’re already up. I just got a Wall-E DVD for $4.99. Here’s the link that will take you directly to the deals. I’ll tweet out good ones as I see them, too.

Any Kohl’s fans out there? On Facebook, they’re promoting an extra 15% off EVERYTHING online starting tomorrow through Saturday.

Old Navy is getting a jump on Black Friday; their stores are open Thursday with great deals. On Thursday only, you get $10 off any purchase of $50 or more.

IKEA has one day only deals Friday – Sunday. Plus, free breakfast until 10:30 each of those days! Sample deal: 6-pk of wine glasses for $1.99 (reg. $6.99) – Friday only.

West Elm is offering an additional 10% off any in-store purchase of furniture, this Thursday – Monday (4 days).

I love photo gifts and I love them even more when they’re 50% off! Lots of great deals at Shutterfly through Dec. 2, including free shipping. Get your holiday photo cards (buy 50, get 25 more free) or get the grandparents a mug with your munchkin’s “mug” on it (I crack myself up); they’re buy one, get the next one half off.

UPDATE:

Toys ‘R Us is creating quite a buzz in the blogosphere for their special Black Friday preview that’s exclusively available to their Facebook fans. Mystery specials, too.

UPDATE (Wed. Nov. 24th additions):

Up to 50% off basic items and free shipping if you spend over $25 at Drugstore.com. Stock up on diapers, soap, lotion, shampoo!

ONE DAY ONLY — TODAY — IN STORE ONLY. Great deals at Border’s. That’s one store I don’t mind going to!

I’ll keep posting deals as I find them so check back here often and happy shopping!

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When You Just Wanna Give a Little Somethin’

October19

What do you give a colleague or friend when you want to mark an occasion with just a little token? Not a full on gift, but a little somethin’? Candles are tried and true, but what about a 100% soy candle with a twist? Friend just got pregnant? Check out the “knocked up” candle from Scent of a Scandal (baby powder fragrance). I gave that to my friend, Lisa, when she was pregnant with #2.  Know someone about to take a dream trip to the Amalfi Coast? Give her the BEE-OTCH (honey fragrance) candle and let her know how you really feel.

Wanna bring in something other than candy to the office for Halloween? Try the “Turning Tricks” (candy corn) candle.  Guaranteed to bring a smile plus it smells good!

p.s. I’m just getting settled into the house so I may be updating some old posts this week. Follow me on Twitter for all the gory details on the move. On second thought, you might not want to. As a friend told me yesterday, he’d rather slam a stapler into his forehead than move. I so get that.

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Great Gift for a Special Somebody: Message in a Bottle

October12

I found this on Etsy a while back and bookmarked it: a message in a bottle service! This seller takes your text, types it up on vintage paper (using an old TYPEWRITER no less!), seals it with wax and your monogram, rolls it up in a teeny, tiny bottle and attaches a cute vintage key. She then boxes it up and mails it for you. All this for just $15.

How GREAT would this be for a niece of nephew? Just a surprise letter telling them how much you care — maybe on their “half birthday.” Or send your sweetie a note. I think my pirate-loving nephew would love this; maybe I’ll send him one for Halloween.

Stuck for a gift idea? Send me a note (or a message in a bottle) with the subject: “Find it for me ‘Rean” and if I use your question, I’ll send you a $25 Amazon gift card.

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