Wednesday, April 6, 2011

"Invitation only" internet stores

So far I have only reviewed one product, the mini shop vac, but I intend to change that... I thought that today I'd cover those tempting invitation only stores. I love shopping online, especially when it means I can get a really great deal on really nice products. Having a computer savvy hubby made me wary of the plethora of Internet shops out there, but after searching everywhere for affordable/ nice Christmas gifts a few years ago, I thought I'd take the risk. I joined a few and found some great deals. I joined others and met some problems, some of the companies went out of business and left their customers waiting for orders that would never arrive! (Thank goodness that didn't happen to me, I'd never purchased anything from them)

A few suggestions when looking at which ones to join; Talk to people you know who have PURCHASED from the companies, not just people who get the emails. Research the companies (bbb, customer reviews, etc). Look for a company with a great return policy.Go through Paypal whenever possible for purchases. Never let them store your card numbers, if they get hacked you get hacked.

Suggestions for buying from them: again, Paypal, it keeps you safer. You have to be a "quick buyer" not someone who wants to sit and think about it before you hit the purchase button, things go quick when there is a great price (this was hard for me, I always think about a purchase forever before I buy, with these I learned to look at who was in the next week's line up of sellers and researched whether they sold the items I was looking for, what the original price was, what they went for on ebay, reviews etc. so that I was completely ready to hit that "buy" button if it was a sale price I was willing to pay). Be flexible with color/pattern. Don't be heartbroken if it gets away, sometimes that is just how things go. Be prepared to wait 2-3 weeks + to get your items.

Example: I really wanted some nice, cute, comfortable rain boots. I looked at Target. I looked at Walmart. I looked at tons of shoe stores online. I really wanted something of quality, but I didn't want to pay much. Insert one of the invitation only websites. A few months ago they had been selling designer rain boots for really amazing prices, Walmart prices. I was bummed that now that I realized I could really use a pair of rain boots (all the rain we get here and working in the garden) they weren't selling them. I did notice that they tend to sell in cycles, and I waited to see if the seller would come up again since it had been super popular. In the mean time I checked reviews of the maker, the boots, their prices everywhere and even picked out styles I would be interested in. Then that lucky day came, I got the email from said company advertising the sales of the day and saw my boot brand. I jumped in. 2 of the patterns I liked were sold out of my size within minutes, but a third was still available. I jumped on that "buy" button, and purchased a beautiful pair of designer boots for $5 less (even with shipping) than a pair of plain, boring, uncomfortable rain boots from Target that I'd tried on. And for the first time ever I am looking forward to a rainy day. It did take 2 weeks for my item to ship, but because I knew that ahead of time it wasn't a problem (an annoyance maybe, but not a problem).

Now, these places can be very dangerous for many reasons (hackers, bad business practices, etc), but one that I do need to warn about is obsesive online shopping. Be careful of debt. Dont overspend, and dont buy JUST because it is on sale. But, if you do your research these companies can be a great place to get those really nice things you have been dreaming of for a really great price.

I hope this has been helpful to someone!

Recycling, composting and gardening

I promise that this blog isn't always going to be about gardens, but those are the only big projects I am working on/finishing currently, so that is what you get! *sticks tounge out*;)

Last year, in anticipation of starting a garden, I started a compost bin from an old covered trash can (the kind that is $7.00 at W). This week I added little workers to it in the form of Red Worms. Let me tell you, they were not easy to track down, none of the bait shops had any sort of worms at all, so I turned to the world wide web. There are quite a few places that sell them, but I wanted something close geographically and cheap (I only wanted 100 to start out). I finally purchased mine off of ebay from a seller in New Orleans, can't get much closer than that! They were here 2 days later. I tossed them in and they got to work, I havn't seen them unless I've gone looking, so they must be digging deep. In my search for worms, I learned that you can't use night crawlers or other forms of worms because they dont hold up to the heat in my style of compost bin. I am still holding out hope for a nice vermicomposter that will house several hundred of the squirmy critters and produce tons of fresh rich soil and worm tea for my garden.

Next up is my little project for the garden: a recycled watering can. I dont use a watering can often, so I couldn't see the point in spending $5-$15 on one. I started wondering if I could make one out of things I have sitting around. In our family, we go through gallons of apple juice, so I always have some of the bottles sitting around and waiting for recycling day. I grabbed one and got to work. It was easy and took me less than 5 minutes, and most of that was gathering tools and taking pictures!

First I pulled out my drill and a really small bit.

Then I drew a circle on the bottle with a marker where I wanted my spout to be.

Next I drilled holes in a random fashion inside the circle.

Finally I drilled one air hole on the back side of the bottle (If you dont do this then you have to squeeze the water out and wait for it to "glug, glug" before moving on ;) )

Fill it with water, put the cap on and get to watering! easy right?

Here are a few pictures of the plants in my garden, they look great right? :)

Have a great day everyone!