Sunday, February 2, 2014

Boden and Mini Boden Clearance Sale Review (Boston, February 1, 2014)

Pin It

If you want to read a couple of my other reviews of past Boden sales, you can find them here and here. This time I arrived at the sale earlier than I have in the past. I parked at 7:20 and got in line at about 7:25. This turned out to be a good move - I got in with the first intake (the first group of 75 people in line get let in at 10 for the first few minutes while the others have to wait. After that, 50 to 75 more people get let in every few minutes). The line to get into the sale is inside the building (so no, you don't have to wait out in the cold) and everyone sits down to wait. Most people bring snacks, a water bottle, an iphone and/or a book. Most people sit and talk to the women in line next to them to pass the time. 

Being in the first group in the hall meant that there were only a few of us at the boys table for those first few minutes. I used that time to grab as many boys lined pants as I could in the sizes I was looking for (6 through 10). I also grabbed a swimsuit for my son and a t-shirt for my younger son. I saw a few hoodies and wanted one, but I didn't find one in the right size right away and I primarily was looking for pants so I concentrated on those. The hoodies went very quickly. Last time there was an INCREDIBLE selection of boy's stuff - there were many nice winter parkas and many summer shorts. I saw neither of those this time. Mostly just lots and lots of pants and t-shirts and some long-sleeved shirts. 



After filling one of my large bags with stuff for my boys, I decided I had enough for them and wanted to concentrate on items for myself. At this point the hall had filled with women and things were insanely crowded and crazy. A friend of mine who was there grabbed me the EXACT coat I had been looking for, so that was one great steal. I filled a bag with dresses and a few other things, shuttling between the 2/4 table and the 6/8 table since I wear some 4s and some 6s. There was just an enormous amount of stuff - dresses, sweaters, tops, bathing suits. And a vast array of shoes (I didn't go for those this time) I headed to the "try on area". I'm putting that in quotes because really, women try things on everywhere, all over the hall. The few men there must feel a bit uncomfortable when faced with so many half-dressed, frantically-changing women. 

Most of the items I grabbed weren't quite right. However, I got two dresses that fit me beautifully - one summer, patterned maxi dress, and one fall, black, retro style dress. I can't wait to wear them! There are only a few full length mirrors scattered around, so we all had to share. As soon as I discarded items, they were scooped up by other women waiting to try them on. 

There was a special $5 table with select women's items this time. I noticed a lot of women buying those items (there were just a few of several styles). I didn't see exactly what was available there and I sort of forgot about it, so I can't report on that.

In hindsight I probably should have stayed longer and spent more time looking through people's discard piles, but I noticed that a line was beginning to form and I wanted to get out and get home to my family, so I got in line to pay. I only had to wait about one minute... this was at 11:05 so most of the women there were still in crazy-shopping-mode. For a good sense of just HOW crazy, check out this photo by one of my facebook fans, Maribel Carvajal:


The sale was both overwhelming and REALLY fun and I will definitely be going to the next one (for a schedule of upcoming Boden sales check my webpage listing). I have a bunch of tips listed on that page about what to wear, what to bring, and where to park. If you are interested in seeing discussions of each Boston Boden sale, get $5 off coupons for each sale, or find out who to contact about working at a sale, like my facebook page.

Last but not least, if you want MORE discounted Boden and Mini Boden and you don't feel like leaving your house, then check out online discounter Zulily. They have Boden sales every few months at up to 50% off catalog prices. You can also search in their search bar any time and they often have a few Boden items on sale. To be alerted about upcoming Boden sales on Zulily, you can click the white heart next to "Boden" on the site so that it turns red. However, sometimes (annoyingly) Zulily doesn't announce all of their Boden sales to all of their members, but I do post before each one on my facebook page. I think this is because their website used to crash from all the traffic every time they had a Boden sale! So now they apparently just don't tell everyone, and their inventory still sells out. They also have sales on plenty of other awesome brands - some of my favorites include Hanna Andersson, Tea Collection, Kate Quinn Organics, Keen & Sophie Catalou.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Love Bug Classmate Valentines (Using a Silhouette die-cut machine)

Pin It

If you have a die-cutting machine like a Cricut or Silhouette, these Valentines are easy to make! I was inspired by the love bug valentines I saw on pinterest but wanted to take it up a notch and make them a little more artistic. For this project you will need:

Colored card stock (the kind you would use for scrapbooking)
White card stock
Fuzzy pipe cleaners
Double sided tape or glue
A Die-cut machine (best deals are here, but they aren't always on sale)
Bugs (you can order these on Amazon for about $6)
Silver or black marker for your child to write his/her name

You can buy my templates for $6 via paypal (contact me here) or you can easily make your own using design software. The template should include two small slits or holes into which you can insert your pipe cleaner piece to hold the bugs. First, use the colored jar template to make the colored jars and punch out the letters. Next, have your child sign the colored jars. Then attach your bug using the pipe cleaner, twisting at the back. Cut off excess pipe cleaner. Then, after the front is finished, use a second, larger jar template to create a slightly larger white outline/backing layer. Just scaling-up the original jar won't work because it will be uneven - if you are working in adobe illustrator, make a "stroke" around the colored jar template, remove the lettering, and use that to cut the white jars.

The last step is to attach the back and front layers - I like scotch double-sided tape, but you can also use elmers, rubber cement or another adhesive. If your Valentines are put together correctly then the back of them should be solid white and the pipe cleaner shouldn't be sticking out the back.

You can make them all the same color, but for me the fun part was choosing different colors to highlight all the different bugs! More photos below...









Monday, February 18, 2013

Boden & Mini Boden Sample Sale (Boston, February 16, 2013)

Pin It

UPDATES: 
There is another Mini Boden sale coming up at the Hynes Convention Center in August 2014! (Date to be announced on my facebook page) For online sample sales on Boden and Mini Boden, keep an eye on discount kids site Zulily. They have sales about once per season, and you can also watch out for Hanna Andersson, Tea Collection and other good brands. You can also try searching in their search bar for "mini boden" any time as they sometimes have isolated items on sale at around 50% off the catalog prices. 

This is a review of the Boden & Mini Boden clearance sale at the Hynes convention center, Boston – February 16, 2013. If you'd like to read updates on Boden sales both in Boston and Pennsylvania, please see my website here and like my facebook page here. I will post $5 off coupons for the sales on my facebook page (at least for the Boston sales) 

This will be a short review since I did a "targeted strike" and spent a very short time inside the sale. To get a more thorough idea of what the Boden clearance sales are like, check out my post on the previous one here

I  got to the sale around 8 am and was pleased to find under 100 people in line ahead of me. The line behind me (see pic above) was hundreds long by the time the sale opened. To be clear - all your waiting will be done indoors - you do NOT have to wait out on the street! I'm thrilled that I got in early because the Mini Boden stuff seemed to sell out much faster this time, there was less of it than at the last sale, and it was heavily weighted to the larger sizes (11, 12 and 13).

If this had been the first time I'd ever been to a Boden sample sale, I would have left happy. But I was really disappointed to find out that since the previous sale, Boden had raised their prices. I primarily come to the sales for Mini Boden, and the majority of items were $10 at the last sale. This time they were $15 to $25. Here is the new pricing sheet for the Boston sample sales:


For some items, these are great prices. A women's coat for $50 is fantastic if it's normally a $178 coat. But $30 for tops (including light summer tops) or $15 kids' t-shirts seemed excessive to me - sometimes you can get them at this price right on the website! 

I first hit the boys table and picked up 11 items, most of which are pictured above. The majority of the items I got were heavy, winter items (*love* Mini Boden lined pants for boys) By the time I was finished, everything under a size 12 had been snapped up. I looked briefly at the shoes and women's coats sections and didn't find anything I wanted. I was about to head over to the women's tables and look at the sweaters and dresses when I got a call from my husband asking me to come home (one of the kids had scratched him in the eye - he's fine now). If the prices had been lower I would have stayed anyway, but I was very concerned about getting stuck in the gigantic line to pay again... at August's sale I had waited for 2 hours and 20 minutes to get out. So I decided to get home and skip the women's stuff. In hindsight I probably should have stayed longer.

I parked at the Prudential Center parking garage and only paid $12 for my parking since I had my ticket validated (you're supposted to make a purchase at a store in the Pru. mall of $10+, but I just bought a coffee at Dunkin Donuts and they stamped it for me) 

I ended up spending $167 at the sale. I was able to use my discount coupon only once - apparently they've cracked down on people using multiple coupons. Some of my facebook fans have told me that in all the craziness, they were overcharged for their purchases, or knew others who were - so if you go to an upcoming sale, CAREFULLY check over your receipt before you leave the hall.

Although I was somewhat disappointed in the Mini Boden selection and higher prices at this sale, I will certainly go back for the next one, which will likely be in August 2013. I am also very, very excited that Mini Boden is now occasionally being featured for sale on discount site Zulily. In mid-January they had a great Mini Boden sale which, unfortunately, sold out in about 10 minutes. But I managed to snap up a few things - and they were the new line, this upcoming season's stuff. The live sample sales are selling catalog returns, so they do not normally have the very newest catalog items. Today (Feb 18th) I found that Zulily had some girls' spring clothing on sale for 50% off, but it was not announced - I found it by searching - so it never hurts to search in their search bar for Mini Boden. So far they have not featured Boden women's but I am keeping my fingers crossed!!

If you went to the Boden sale please leave a comment with any useful information I may have missed, or tell us how you did!




 


Saturday, January 19, 2013

Custom Wrapping Paper Featuring Your Child's Artwork

Pin It


My son and I made this wrapping paper using a pattern of his drawings to wrap his holiday gifts for some of our friends & relatives. This is great for Valentine's Day, Christmas, Mother's Day presents, etc...

Stuff you and your child need to do this:
1. Black sharpie marker and paper
2. Some water-based colored markers for coloring in drawings
3. A computer (preferably with design software, but microsoft word will work)
4. Either a scanner or a digital camera with a close-up setting
5. Either an Inkjet printer (a large-format one if you want to print large sheets & Epson matte printer paper in the largest size your printer can print OR take your file to Kinkos or Staples and have them print it.

1.) First, have your child do several drawings in black sharpie. A regular child's black marker won't work, because when they color over it the colors will run and look muddy. Let the outline dry. SIMPLE drawings work best, like the "Robots" shown above. The proportions should be roughly square - not short and wide or tall and skinny.

2.) Your child can then color in each drawing.

3.) Either scan in each drawing with your scanner, or shoot a digital pic of each one, separately.

4.) If you have photo editing software you can brighten the artwork or up the contrast. Some photo editing software usually comes free when you buy a scanner.

5.) Place your scanned files into Word, Illustrator, or photoshop, and shrink them down until they are under an inch high at 150+ dpi. Then copy and paste each one multiple times. Your file should be at least 13 by 19 inches unless you will only be wrapping small gifts.

6.) Print out your sheet of shrunken drawings onto the Epson matte printer paper. This paper is *amazing* - it is a graphic designer secret. It makes colors look brighter and more vibrant. It comes in two weights, the lighter weight is best for wrapping paper but I used the heavier weight since that's what I had sitting around. It is available in 8.5 by 11, 11 by 17 and the large size - buy whichever size is the max printable area for your printer.

Gift Tag
For the gift tag like the ones shown above, you'll need either Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator - take a black and white drawing (no color) with your child's writing underneath, scan it in, autotrace in illustrator or select in photoshop and color in accordingly. I had Alex use a silver marker to write the recipient's name on each tag. If you'd like me to make a custom-gift-tag from your child's artwork you can email me for info - use you contact link on my bottom of my homepage here.

If you're looking for a gift for your child to make for people, see my earlier post that goes along with this one - the same artwork can also be made into fridge magnets like this.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Fridge Magnets from your Kid's Artwork

Pin It

This is a nice gift your child can give to teachers, friends, grandparents, etc... that they will actually USE. And they last forever! Well, at least a decade... I have some that I made with my own artwork 10+ years ago and they are still in use on the fridge and in great shape. This project is best for kids who are around 5+ so they have the manual dexterity for it.

Stuff you and your child need:
1. Black sharpie marker and paper
2. Some water-based colored markers for coloring in drawings
3. A computer (preferably with design software, but microsoft word will work)
4. Either a scanner or a digital camera with a close-up setting
5. Inkjet printer & Epson heavyweight matte printer paper
6. 1 inch round magnets (see Amazon.com)
7. A 1-inch round punch (available at craft stores for around $5)
8. A small stiff paintbrush & a scissors
9. Mod Podge matte finish
10. Colored paper (optional, for the backer shown above)

1.) First, have your child do several drawings in black sharpie. A regular child's black marker won't work, because when they color over it the colors will run and look muddy. Let the outline dry. SIMPLE drawings work best, like the "Robots" shown above. The proportions should be roughly square - not short and wide or tall and skinny.

2.) Your child can then color in each drawing.

3.) Either scan in each drawing with your scanner, or shoot a digital pic of each one, separately.

4.) If you have photo editing software you can brighten the artwork or up the contrast. Some photo editing software usually comes free when you buy a scanner.

5.) Place your scanned files into Word, Illustrator, or photoshop, and shrink them down until they are under an inch high. Then copy and paste each one multiple times.

6.) Print out your sheet of shrunken drawings onto the Epson matte printer paper. This paper is *amazing* - it is a graphic design secret. It makes colors look brighter and more vibrant, and it is nice and thick so you can't see through it at all.

7.) Cut the paper into strips of drawings and use your punch to punch out each one as shown in the photo (bottom right corner) above.

8.) Put magnets on a slick surface (like a cookie sheet or plastic, NOT paper, which will stick) Use Mod Podge to attach each mini-artwork to each magnet, then coat each one on the top and sides. Let it dry and do a second coat.

9.) If you want to make the backer shown above, take one of your kid's black and white drawings (not colored in), scan or photograph that, and plop it into Word. Created that black frame around it and some type with your child's name. Print and cut out along the black frame. Use double-sided tape to attach the magnets (don't use the Mod Podge as the paper will be permanently stuck.)

My son gave these out to some of our friends & relatives at Christmas and they were a big hit! We plan to do some different themes in the future.










Friday, August 24, 2012

Boden & Mini Boden Sample Sale Review (Boston)

Pin It

UPDATES:
For a review of the Mini Boden sale which took place in February 2013, click here.
Mini Boden is now regularly featured in online sample sales, here, on discount kids' site Zulily. They happen about once per season. They also have other good sales on Hanna Andersson, Tea Collection, Oilily & other nice kids' brands. You can try searching in their search bar for "mini boden" as they sometimes have isolated items on sale at around 50% off the catalog prices. 

This is a review of the Boden & Mini Boden clearance sale at the Hynes convention center, Boston – August 18, 2012. If you'd like to see the schedule for Boden sales both in Boston and Pennsylvania, please see my website here and like my facebook page here. I will post $5 off coupons for the sales on my facebook page (at least for the Boston sales)

I arrived at the Hynes at about 8:45 and I had already made my first mistake - parking in the Prudential Center. I ended up paying $36 for parking - painful. At the last sale I had parked on the street and gotten a ticket, not good either. The bottom line on parking is - if you are sure you'll be there less than 5 hours, you can park in the Pru & get your ticket validated - you'll get a decent rate. But stay more than 5 hours and you'll pay the regular rates. Think you'll be there 4 hours at most? You might be surprised. I spent an hour and twenty minutes in line to get in and a whopping 2 hours and 20 minutes in line to pay! But I can honestly say, it was totally worth it.

The wait to get in was actually pleasant. Most people there are very happy and excited to shop. I brought a book and got some reading done too. Everyone sat while we waited. There were at least several hundred people in line by 10, and they let us in in groups of 50. 3 groups were let in ahead of me - meaning that by 8:45 there were already over 150 people in line. People showed up to wait as early as 5:30 am. If you do show up that early, DO NOT wait outside the Hynes on the street! The people inside the Hynes (who got in through the hotel) apparently were let in first.

8:45 seemed to be the perfect time to arrive. I was let into the sale within 5 to 7 minutes of the start. I was told by workers that at the last sale (February 2012) there was one truckload of merchandise - at this sale there were two. Twice as much great stuff!! My main priority was buying a lot of great clothing for my two boys. I was looking for sizes 4 to 8. My second priority was to get a couple of nice fall things for myself and I accomplished both my goals. At the kids' tables it was mayhem. Women grabbing lots of clothing and stuffing into bags. I filled my bag and then headed to the women's area.

After an hour or so of shopping I sat down to examine my haul. By that point there were huge "discard piles" accumulating on the floor. Everyone was going through their things deciding what they did or did not want. I went through my items and added several to the discard pile. Then I walked around looking for women sorting through boys' items. I went through their discard piles - I ended up getting about half my purchases from the discards rather than from the sales tables. There were thousands upon thousands of items so the whole thing felt like an enormous treasure hunt.

(below, the line to get in about half an hour before the sale opened)



A lot of people have asked me about what the prices are like - for the categories I looked at (women's and boy's) prices seemed to be about 70 to 80% off full retail. Some sample items:
Boys lined pants: $10 (retail $46) 
Boys long-sleeve applique shirt: $10 (retail $28)
Women's heavy wool sweater dress $30 (retail $188)
Women's jersey dress $20 (retail $128)
Women's super heavy wool socks $5 a pair (retail $36 a pair)
Women's high leather boots $50 (retail $268)

Get my tips for shopping at upcoming Boden sample sales, plus find out when/where they'll happen here!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Do it yourself patterned wrapping paper made with bubble wrap

Pin It
 
This is a fun and extremely easy project that my five year old son was able do. Great for wrapping holiday gifts for relatives.

Mix water-based paint with water and paint onto the textured side of bubble wrap with a wide brush. You can print the pattern onto brown or white craft paper. If you want to be extra eco-friendly, use the inner side of old brown paper shopping bags. Paint enough on so that every bubble gets covered, but don't use too much or it will slosh in between the rows.

Quickly, before the paint starts to dry, flip your bubble wrap over onto the craft paper. Use your hand to smooth the back down, so that every bubble comes into contact with the paper. Then peel off the bubble wrap. If desired, you can let the pattern dry and then use a different color bubble wrap pattern over the top for a layered effect. I used plain white string to tie the package.

This technique also works with the large bubble wrap (with much wider circles).