Category Archives: Shopping


Summer has yet to officially kick in, according to the calendar. But if you’re anything like us, the baptisms, graduation parties, weddings, bridal showers, baby showers, etc. have hit the ground running. Throw Mother’s Day and Father’s Day in there, maybe a birthday or two and you’re pretty much spent as far as gift-giving goes.

Don’t get me wrong. Gift-giving has always been fun for me. I really do like finding the perfect gift for someone. There’s the shopping part of it that I love (obviously). And the gift-wrapping part (obviously). And of course, the joy of seeing someone smile when they open it. Yes, even if deep down inside, they hate it and have every intention of sending that baby back. The process of getting there is still fun for me.

Well last month, I discovered a gifting option that totally changes the gift-giving game. It’s called Wantful. I heard about it through a coworker who tweeted about this hot new thing. I checked it out and thought it was a really cool concept. And perfect considering that Mother’s Day was right around the corner.

Here’s how Wantful works:

  • Visit Tell them who you’re shopping for. Say for instance, it’s your dad.
  • Then, you take a quiz that helps Wantful get to know your dad.
  • Based on your answers and the price range you have in mind, Wantful then curates a collection of items they think your dad might dig. And we’re not talking crappy, cheese-ball stuff here. It’s stuff like a BBQ utensil set or a charity donation to an environmental organization (if he’s into that).
  • Peruse the collection of items and select 16 that you think Dad would like.
  • Those 16 items then get published into a mini book that Wantful sends to either your house or your dad’s.
  • Dad then flips through the mini book and chooses the gift he wants.
  • To redeem his gift, all Dad has to do is visit, enter the gift code that’s printed in the mini book and select the lucky gift. A few days later his Wantful gift arrives in the mail, and everyone is happy… as the video below implies.

Mikey and I decided to give a Wantful gift to his mom for Mother’s Day, and it went off without a hitch. When she made her gift selection online, we received an email notification from Wantful, letting us know. She chose the Flash Chill Iced Tea Maker.

What I love best about it, is it’s more than just giving a gift card. You’re still taking the time to curate a catalog of gifts that you think your friend or family member would like. But it gives them the benefit of choice. And it’s fun when you have options.

So not to get all advertising copywriter on you, but if you’re looking for the perfect gift and really don’t have the time or patience to shop till you drop, check out Wantful. It’s now Larissa Riley approved.


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Filed under Holidays, Shopping

My Brilliant Idea to Hit Up IKEA

Last month I finally got to experience the mecca of home furnishings, the creme de le creme of affordable home decor and the guiding light to all those lost and wandering in the world of interior design — IKEA. I’d never been to one before, but knowing that we were heading to the Chicago suburbs for a friend’s wedding last month, I thought there would be no better time to make an appearance.

Only problem was that we were a little pressed for time. There was a two and a half hour gap in between the wedding ceremony and reception. We ended up leaving the church after the ceremony ended at about 4:00 and high-tailed it to the IKEA in Bolingbrook, Illinois with no time to stop by the hotel and change into comfortable clothes. So I ended up touring IKEA in BCBGs.

Not really the best choice of footwear when walking through a 300,000 square foot showroom -- the equivalent of five football fields.

Despite my choice of attire, I did walk through the entire store and was really impressed to see the ungodly amounts of furniture and bedding and kitchen cabinets and light fixtures and hardware and rugs and vases and on and on and on… The space is so packed with things to look at that it’s close to impossible to figure out what floor you’re on. You just keep walking and walking — until you suddenly realize you left the first floor eons ago.

We weren’t really shopping for anything in particular. I was keeping an eye out for a comfy office chair but still didn’t find anything worth spending $50+ on. It would’ve been a great source of inspiration for us when we were working on the kitchen remodel this summer. The hallways are lined with floor-to-ceiling room displays that showcase how even the tiniest of spaces can be maximized to their fullest potential.

But of course, we couldn’t have traveled all that way and walked five football fields of space in wedding attire only to leave empty handed. So 1) we filled our tummies up with food at the IKEA cafe (would you expect anything else from us 24/7 eating machines?) and 2) I picked out a silver lantern accent piece for $7.99 to adorn either our fireplace mantle or the shelves in our spare bedroom (haven’t quite decided yet).

Lanterns of this size are sold at places like Pottery Barn and Crate and Barrel for around $40 or $50. I think my $7.99 was quite a steal. (Candle not included.)

Mikey — being a dude and all — was quite puzzled at the idea of me buying a lantern. I thought about explaining to him that lanterns aren’t just used as signals in lighthouses anymore. But then, knowing that Mikey — being a dude and all — wouldn’t really give a monkey’s butt about the purpose of lanterns in modern-day home decor, I digressed.

It was a good first IKEA experience overall — although my sore feet wouldn’t agree. I made it up to them by pulling into Table 15 at the wedding reception and remaining parked there for literally the entire evening. Yep, that whole “lame is my middle name” vibe was really going for me. But at least my shoes were hot.


Filed under Fashion, Home Improvement, Shopping

When Guys Go Grocery Shopping

Let me break it down for you. When I go shopping at say, Target, I walk in and immediately gravitate towards either a) the women’s clothing section to the left or b) the costume jewelry to the right. If I choose the path right, I spend a few minutes in the jewelry section and start to move on — until wait! I am captivated by the end cap of fancy notebooks or Essie’s newest nail polish collection or squeaky toys for The Bear. And so the process continues. My shiny object syndrome kicks in at every corner and before I know it, I’ve somehow abandoned my shopping list to the deepest depths of my purse.

Guys, on the other hand, are a different story. My husband, in particular, has become accustomed to the process of steering me away from every aisle and end cap in sight. His trips to most stores are so focused and pressed for time that there’s no temptation to stop and shop. It’s more like get and go.

But there is one exception. I noticed it tonight when we were at the grocery store. The only time he ever falls for shiny object syndrome’s spell is when it comes to… the beer aisle. (Or in his case, it’s more like the beer isle. A paradise in the middle of the grocery store.)

See him there? It is pretty much the only aisle he will stroll through. You’ll never see him taking his time in any other aisle. And it literally is window shopping, his eyes locked on every beer label, bottle cap, pop tab and tall boy chilling to his delight behind those glass doors. And if you look closely, he has a smile on his face the whole time. So it makes me wonder, why can’t he be this chipper in the produce section?

My only rationale is that beer can do strange things to people. But I will say, it’s kind of cute to see Mikey all bright-eyed in beer heaven. I guess you could say it’s the equivalent of seeing a kid in a candy store. And because of this, I think we’ll now understand each other a bit better. Like every time I fall into a shopping trance, I can tell him to compare it to every time he zones out in the beer section. See, it’s all about putting yourself in the other person’s shoes — whether they’re meant for long, leisurely walks through the beer aisle or a new pair of peep-toe pumps you’re thinking of adding to your collection.

So yeah, that’s the extent of my guys vs. girls analysis. It may not be groundbreaking, but you can’t deny its truth!

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Filed under Shopping

The Magical Refrigerator

Who knew appliances could be cool. Anyone? Anyone? Buehler? Well, I definitely didn’t. Until the hubs and I made our way over to Best Buy to look for some kitchen appliances last weekend. I discovered the wonders of a Samsung WiFi-enabled refrigerator.

That bright blue screen you see there allows you to surf the Internet from your fridge!

You can pull up recipes, check the weather, read the day’s headlines, tweet. (And yes, I would be the kind of person who tweets from my fridge.) The interior of the fridge even has LED lights. Who wouldn’t want to roll with a pimped out refrigerator like this one?

Well, none of this really matters because a) this fridge costs $2,500 and b) we’re not even in the market for a fridge. I was just thoroughly entertained while we were waiting for the Best Buy sales guy to finish up with another customer. I was so entertained that I decided to leave my mark on the refrigerator that changed my worldview on appliances.

Back to reality now with the appliance shopping… We couldn’t have planned our shopping venture more perfectly. It was 4th of July weekend, which meant sales galore. And we managed to score a Whirlpool dishwasher and range for under $1,000. We weren’t going for the cheapest of the cheap, nor were we going for top of the line. Overall, I think we netted out right in the middle as far as quality and price.

So the appliances were purchased on Saturday and delivered less than a week later today. Which makes this dishwasher and range officially ours!

Meet our new dishwasher. We're installing it ourselves this weekend, so until then, it's going to have to hang out in the middle of the kitchen.

Here's the range. Love that clean, flat surface. No more scrubbing coils. (Not that I ever did any way.) And most importantly, no more jiggering the front right coil in order to get the burner to work.

It would’ve been great to purchase a matching stainless steel fridge to round things out. But first of all, they’re pretty pricey. And secondly, we blew a few hundred dollars on a new fridge when we first moved into the house a couple years ago. The fridge that came with the house crapped out on us after only a few months of living in the house. So we scrambled to get a replacement fridge, which is white — and not WiFi-enabled. Maybe in a year or two, once we save up more money, we can purchase a new fridge. But something tells me I’ll be onto the next redecorating endeavor and won’t really care about my mismatched fridge.

Things in the kitchen department are still moving right along. This weekend we’re hoping to tackle the appliance installation, cabinet crown molding, base boards and heat shield application for the cabinets. And the granite is scheduled for installation in a couple weeks. Woohoo!

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Filed under Home Improvement, Shopping

You know what? I think the Internet is amazing. It really, really is. And for someone like me, who pretty much likes anything and everything, there are millions of websites and blogs and social media outlets that I can easily get lost in. Endless forms of entertainment and round-the-clock shopping temptations that can keep a girl like me glued to the iPhone or computer screen morning, noon and night.

Here is a quick run-down of the social networking/web surfing tools I use and why I love them so.

Facebook  If you’re not on Facebook, I kindly advise you to buck up and do it already. This isn’t just a fad on this year’s hot list. It’s the way people have come to share the details of their day-to-day lives. For instance, you wouldn’t call up your best friend, tell her how pissed you are that its been raining all week and then hang up, would you? These random thoughts and little tidbits of our lives play out on Facebook and generate conversations between multiple people that normally wouldn’t happen over the phone or in an email. And well, if you’re not interested in sharing your life with others, there’s always Farmville or Mafia Wars.

Twitter  I’m here to debunk the myth that Twitter is all about status updates. The way I see it, Twitter is such a versatile tool that it can be anything you want it to be. I, being a constant seeker and finder of information, consider Twitter to be my go-to place for information about all the things I’m interested in. It’s like a customized news feed where I can keep tabs on anything from color blocking (a fashion trend) to the latest culinary creations from my favorite Top Chef chefs.

Instagram  This isn’t necessarily an Internet-based tool. It’s a photo-sharing iPhone app that allows you take photos with your phone and push them out to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, etc. What differentiates it from other photo-sharing apps are the numerous photo filters that you can apply to the photos you snap. Each filter gives the photo a vintage look that makes for a very unique way of preserving your memories. And since I’m all into photography, scrapbooking and blogging, Instagram is right up my alley.

My first Instagram. Driving the MLK Bridge from Illinois into Missouri.

One of my favorite Instagrams. The white wine wall at St. Louis Wine Cellars.

StumbleUpon  This web-surfing tool has completely changed the way I surf the Internet. It’s especially useful when I feel the need to be inspired by something — anything. Here’s how it works. When you sign up, you check a list of categories that you’re interested in. My list includes advertising, fashion, photography, dogs, crafts, gardening and so on and so on. Then, you install the StumbleUpon toolbar to your Internet browser. Click the “Stumble” button, and the tool displays a website that’s related to one of your checked categories. As you continue to click the “Stumble” button, new websites from your preferred categories are displayed. The beauty of StumbleUpon is that you “stumble upon” an unlimited number of websites that a normal search engine probably wouldn’t suggest. Here is a foodie website and a viral video I found via StumbleUpon that are now filed away in my Bookmarks tab.


Dog Goes Nuts During Soldier Homecoming

Pinterest  Ahh, my latest addiction. I signed up for this photo cataloging tool earlier this week, and I love it to pieces. You basically install a “Pin It” button to your Internet browser when registering. And as you surf the web you “pin” photos you like by pressing the “Pin It” button. That photo is then placed on what’s called a photo board. So as you fill your board with photos you like, your collection becomes a collage of all your favorite finds. Check out some of the photos I’ve pinned.

The definition of sweetness.

Photo courtesy of BippittyBoppittyBoo

These shoes remind me of potato sacks. FABULOUS potato sacks!

Photo courtesy of For the Love of Gold

And that’s my scratch-the-surface analysis. Hope my Internet addictions don’t rub on off you. Actually, I take that back. I hope they do, so we can friend each other, retweet each other’s tweets, get each other’s Instagrams, stumble upon stuff and share our pinterests together.


Filed under Advertising, Dogs, Fashion, Food, Hobbies, Photography, Shopping

Everyone needs a happy place. Or three.

Ever find yourself in a funk and need a little retail therapy for the cure? (Uh, yeah. Story of my life.) Well you’ll be surprised to hear me say that sometimes retail therapy doesn’t have to involve spending any money. There are some stores or restaurants that immediately lift my mood when I walk into them. And as I walk around, tempted by pretty things right and left, I can still leave the store without dropping a single dime. Now that is something for a husband (mine in particular) to be proud of! Here are my top three happy place rankings. By the way, the fact that they all start with C’s is a total coincidence.

1) Crepes, Etc.

My mom and I went here for lunch yesterday. It wasn’t our first time. More like our third or fourth. But like every time we’d been there, we walked in and immediately started salivating at the sight of the menu. Breakfast is served all day. Their desserts look phenomenal. There’s a full coffee and espresso menu. And the “Etc.” part of the name consists of everything from bottles of wine to fresh fruits. It’s just a charming cafe, nestled in the Central West End of St. Louis. A perfect place to hang out and read a book. Especially when the weather’s warm and you can eat on the patio. You St. Louisans (and anyone in town for a visit) oughta check it out if you haven’t been before.

Fruit and jam crates at Crepes Etc.

Would like some wine with that waffle?

The writing's on the wall. Get the dish on everything going on in the Lou.

Mom's order: spinach quiche and kale salad

2) Crate & Barrel

You walk through the revolving doors and into this clean, open, airy, two-story retail space that makes you want to snatch up everything in sight. But I’m going to be honest. The contemporary look that many of the items at Crate & Barrel take on makes for very plain, simplistic home decor. Yet the way they make it dazzle in-store makes it seem ten times more remarkable. And honestly, the stuff I have bought from Crate & Barrel just doesn’t look as spectacular in my house as it does when I’m buying it. Take this turquoise vase, for example.

It's cute here, but it was way more attractive at the store.

They really do a number on me. But I appreciate the fact that they make me feel all fuzzy inside when I shop there. And yes, I can still feel happy if I walk out of the store without even reaching for my credit card.

3) The Container Store


A glowing beacon of organization

Photo courtesy of The Container Store

Let me start by saying that I’m organized. But I’m not a neat-freak. When I clean, I do it well. But the question then becomes, “how often do you clean?” Um, not as much as my mother would like me to, I’m sure. But oh, The Container Store. It’s so full of organization! File folders, containers in every size imaginable, gadgets for anything, closet-organizing systems and more. My most favorite part, though, is Christmas season when they bring in bins upon bins of wrapping paper! (I’m a nut for patterned paper. And yes, I do realize that is strange.) But you know, The Container Store has managed to do something very well. They’ve made cleaning and organizing something to like. I wonder how many people walk in there and feel inspired to go clean their closets. For a retailer to actually be able to achieve that is rather brilliant.

So… What places top your happy place list?


Filed under Food, Shopping, St. Louis