day 4: the wrong bus.

31 08 2012

today was stupid from start to finish.

all week i had planned that today i was going to go to the DMV to take my permit test. come to find out this morning, you actually have to send in a physical paper application with a check for $10, and then in 2-4 weeks they MAIL you a date to come in and take your test. [sigh]

it was supposed to be an adventure day to the mall, with the highlight being finally getting my permit and admitting to myself and others that i am ready to learn how to drive.

instead, i ate a big bowl of leftover mac & cheese (this recipe was ridiculously delicious, and i am not easily impressed by impostor cheese) and dicked around on the internet.

but after as many hours of lounging as i could physically tolerate, i decided that DMV bureaucracy couldn’t keep me from trying on pants. to the mall! Read the rest of this entry »





[black friday] balance restored.

30 11 2011

black friday when all nuts this year. some stores opened at midnight, some at 4, some at 6… all of which made it nearly impossible for me to form a workable plan for a pleasant shopping experience. what was i supposed to do, hit the old navy and the target at midnight and then hang out at the denny’s until the mall opened?

NO. my digestive system could not take such a beating (although i still really do want to try out that grilled cheese with the mozzarella stix embedded inside, even though i know it’s wrong)!

i considered just hitting the midnight store and then going back later in the morning… but that also seemed less than ideal in terms of efficiency. so i decided to do something a little different this year- SLEEP IN.

it was actually kind of awesome. and then around 7, i leisurely got up, walked the dog, and headed to the mall. considering that i don’t need any big ticket electronics, and all the cheap movie titles were complete crap, it wasn’t like i was missing anything anyway (other than shivering in the cold with a bunch of other cranky folks who are more than willing to elbow you in the throat to get the last creepy stalker barbie).

and since i had already slept through the “best” deals, i also felt little pressure to hit the big boxes and try to scrape up what was left. so i just went wherever the hell i wanted regardless of big signs yelling DOORBUSTERS! and here is what i got: Read the rest of this entry »





weekend pickthrough- bottom of the sea edition.

17 10 2011

changing jobs is hard. somehow, i forgot about that part. i spent the majority of last week either lapsing into couch comas or trying to keep myself from bursting into hysterical tears at inopportune moments (with mixed results).

and then there was the part where i didn’t have time for the internet. which is weird, because i pretty much live on the internet full time. it’s my natural habitat (well, the internet and target).

basically, i was either trying to get my bearings at my new job (situation improving, if slowly), alseep, or sobbing hysterically in an unfortunate place. no twitter, no facebook, no gchat…  i feel like i was incarcerated, or in a coma, or at the bottom of the sea for the last 7 days, and i’m just finally resurfacing. i’m disoriented, and a little cranky. but i’m back, and as always, sorry for dropping off the planet for a bit.

i have a full lineup of posting schedule for this week (including my annual bad halloween costume roundup), but for the transition back into normalcy, let’s just start with a few easy links: Read the rest of this entry »





weekend pickthrough: a lesson in customer service edition.

18 04 2011

today, something really lame happened. possibly my lamest retail run-in ever.

i was at the mall trying on dresses, and was feeling uncertain about a strapless number with somewhat poorly located pockets. still pretty cute, and at $19.99… definitely worth consideration.

so i threw a belt on it, walked out of the dressing room, and asked the nearest sales associate if she thought it was too poofy around the waist. as in: is the excess pocket fabric making it unflattering? (i may have even motioned to the bunchiness with my hand.)

apparently i wasn’t clear enough, because her response knocked me on my ass: Read the rest of this entry »





mall recall.

23 07 2010

CALLING ALL PAST AND PRESENT MAINE MALL WORKERS & LOVERS! the marvelous alex steed (who can be found everywhere all at once, but especially here, here and here) has started a facebook fan page (well, technically it’s classified as a religious organization) for maine mall alumni! the project sprung from a combination of  his own alumni pride (you may remember him lurking around the wacky t-shirt kiosk in the early 2000s), and also being utterly aghast at the fact that the BANGOR MALL HAS 1200+ FANS, and the maine mall isn’t even breaking 800… well, alex is already campaigning hard to remedy the situation, and the alumni page is busting with excitement such as:

– musings on the odd positioning of record town & tape world in the late 80s (across the hall from each other).

angsty anti-mall rambling from bygone blogs.

relics from our beloved mall’s past life.

so yes, if you’ve ever known the mall intimately, please head on over and friend that shit up. or like it. or fan it. or whatever the hell it is that people do on facebook.  share your tender mall moments, awkwardly reconnect with old coworkers, and start your own dialog about how the mall just hasn’t been the same since porteous disappeared.

now i never worked at the mall, but i can tell you with no hesitation that i have logged A LOT of hours in its tiled corridors. well, by tapping into my deep and abiding love  for the maine mall, alex has somehow managed to get me stuck in his swiftly rolling katamari of energy and ideas. it’s Q & A time! i’ve come up with a list of questions for all the mall workers out there past and present, and it’s your job to answer them, and elaborate, and go off topic in the most entertaining way possible (part 1 of 2):

1. What never goes on sale?

2. What is the best deal you ever saw someone score?

3. Sometimes I hide things in the store that I can’t afford to pay full retail for- in hopes that they will not be found until markdown time. Is this a viable method?

now is the time to share your insider knowledge with the world. now is the time to declare your alumni status!





bargains are my business.

1 07 2010

my mom always liked new stuff.  and not just any new stuff, the best possible new stuff. if we were in pursuit of say… a care bear (grumpy bear to be specific), she would never just grab the first one that she saw. oh no! she would dig through every single bear on the shelf until she found the one that was perfect. no smushed faces or lopsided expressions, no flat spots or loose threads- the most perfect and pristine care bear in the whole store (possibly a second store in case the first store’s product did not meet standards). it is because of my mother that i utterly refuse to bring home any product in a crushed or dented box. even if the contents is assured to be perfectly preserved. even if i’m just going to tear the box apart the moment i get home. it’s completely irrational, but it’s all i know.

thus, when we visited our first marden’s, i distinctly remember that my mom was less than impressed. we’d heard their commercials on the radio a million times- “i should have bought it when i saw it at mardens”, but the water damaged prom dresses and the nightmare bad lighting were too much for her delicate sensibilities. if you’ve never been to a marden’s, you should know that it is the low budgetiest, discountiest, no frillsiest place you’ve ever been. generally housed in the broke down shell of a bankrupted chain store, the ultra closeout goods get tossed haphazardly onto racks and piled up in bins floating in the aisles. let’s just say that the term “visual merchandising” doesn’t exist in their vocabulary.  oh, and don’t you EVER EVER EVER go into the bathroom. please, just don’t.

anyway, flashing back to 1988, our first foray into rock bottom bargainville was not a success. i distinctly remember my mom singing “i should have left it where i saw it at marden’s” (and being 11 at the time, i of course thought this was HILAROUS). it was too much. everything was dented and imperfect, we would never go there again.

as a late in life bargain hunter, marden’s and i would grow to love each other deeply. i would come to learn that the key is tenacity. that, and a willingness to dig, dig, dig (no matter how suspect the product at hand). for every 25 polyester blend clearance rack tragedies, you might actually find something good. remember that time i found a marc jacobs prairie skirt for $6.50? if you can just get over the weird smells, expired foods, and of course the bathroom…. it’s pure magic. so you can imagine my delight when i heard that a big-ass new marden’s was moving into my backyard (if my backyard was the mall).

sadly, the verdict is: MODERATE DISAPPOINTMENT. the new scarborough marden’s is much bigger, much cleaner, and much more organized than its brethren, yet was somehow sorely lacking in the magic department. i’m hoping that a bit of the newness will fade over time. right now i can still smell the walmart in there, and it just seems too put together in a way that robs me of the joy of the dig. i mean seriously, what are all these medium sized garments doing in one place?  its looking too much like a regular store and a lot less like a smoldering pile of junk ripe for exploration.  i miss that, and have hopes that in time the disorder will be restored. that said,  i did manage to get lost in there for the better part of an hour, and did encounter many tremendous things absolutely worth exploring:

1. first off, PLACE IS FUCKING HUGE. yeah, it’s an old walmart. i doubted at first that they would be able to fill it up, but it has a really good mix of clothing, homegoods, crazy off-brand/expired foods, in addition to things like furniture & carpet (that the portland marden’s doesn’t have).

2. there’s a MOTHERFUCKING FABRIC STORE IN THERE. yeah, i sew. yeah, i have a ludicrous and ever growing stash of fabric- but i always want more. even though i barely sew anything ever, i have a demented fabric lust that knows no reason. i don’t know what fabric store went bankrupt or had a small attic fire, but that shit is nice! one would expect from a marden’s fabric stash lots of cheap and highly flammable prom satins or flannels emblazoned with losing sports teams or faded disney stars headed for rehab… but oh no! tons of nice cotton prints, rolls of high-end decorator fabrics, stacks of unusual and vintagey looking trims. heavenly, and all for about $3.99 a yard or less.

3. hey, is that FURNITURE I WOULD ACTUALLY BUY? yeah, there was some weird stuff. and yeah, there’s a lot of overstuffed nogahyde recliner action. BUT, there were also several perfectly normal and attractive couches and chairs that could have easily found their way into my apartment. well,  if there was actually any room for more couches and chairs.

4. even though there’s better stuff than a lot of the other marden’s, there’s still a HEALTHY DOSE OF HILARIOUS OFF BRANDS and merchandise from the land that time forgot. is that an entire wall of slouch socks? or maybe the novelization of the short lived tv show roswell? if you can’t find a punchline at marden’s, then you’re probably a humorless dick.

5. the shoe department for me in any store is critical, and THIS FOOTWEAR DEPARTMENT DOES NOT DISAPPOINT. in the portland store, i’m lucky to find anything this isn’t for grandmas or hookers. not a lot of range there. i don’t know how they did it (did paul lepage have to shank someone?), but there was a boatload of amazing heels from high-endier lines like coach, bcbg, and charles david. they weren’t $3/10 cheap- but the were mostly $50 or under. and they were all stunning. too bad i have no money and a swiftly developing bunion.

i love the fact that discount and thrift stores are joining the mall area, and i don’t care if it’s a sign of the bad economy. now, i haven’t completely warmed up to the new marden’s yet, but i do feel like there is potential chemistry there. let’s just say that at the end of the cocktail party, marden’s scarborough will be getting a rose. and if less scummy and more choices sounds like your idea of a dream date… i recommend heading on over. i’m pretty sure there’s enough to go around.

oh, and if the marden’s in your area has something awesome, please let me know! you know, so i can keep that information to myself and go buy all of it.

p.s. you can check out the rest of the photos of my trip on the broke207 brand flickr account.





weekend pickthrough- ramen invasion edition.

23 04 2010

serious eats gets very serious about the best bagels in maine (and you should be too).

kate at the blueberry files gets wasted on hipster lemonade.

a comprehensive flow chart picking the right type face for any occasion, except that i keep coming up with COMIC SANS. i love an unnecessary flow chart, but I HATE COMIC SANS!

if you’ve never seen tampopo, you need to do that right now in preparation for the noodle bar explosion about to descend on portland!

uh oh! those two faced coupons are talking shit behind your back, and you are NOT going to like what they’re saying.

with young people dressing more like old people all the time, it’s time to swallow that pride and head over to the boys department for some amazing deals on petite sized menswear.

chicken on top of chicken on top of bacon (with a side of cheese and mayo). KFC has gone hilariously too far. even more shockingly, the vegan version might actually be worse for you.

and speaking of vegan, the starbucks frappuccino will soon be officially available in a cow free version.

and finally… HOLY SHIT they’re building a bowling alley on the peninsula.