What can you get for $50 at Neiman Marcus?

8 Apr

The short answer: not much.

My very first pair of Tory Burch flats are starting to wear out and constantly slip off, so I decided to treat myself to a new pair (especially now that they’ve been redesigned to no longer include elastic on the back — you’d think it would help the shoe stay on, but in reality it just makes it slip off).

treat yourself

Reva flats are not cheap, so I signed up for Neiman Marcus’ emails to get 10% off, plus they’re having a deal where if you spend a certain amount, you get a $50 gift card. While I’d much rather they just deduct $50 from the price of the shoes, I will happily accept free money.

I have not received the gift card yet, but I eagerly started surfing the site to see what I could buy. A quick click on the clothing links quickly ruled that out. I could buy another pair of Revas or other shoes, but I don’t really need any, and the $50 isn’t really free money if I have to pony up a lot more on something I wasn’t planning on buying in the first place.

So I went over to kitchen accessories — maybe they’d have something cool there! I found this water bottle:

neiman marcus citrus bottle

It infuses your water with fruit — cool! But so does dropping a slice of lemon in your glass, and that doesn’t cost $18.

Some of my favorite health and fitness bloggers rave about the bkr water bottles.

neiman marcus bkr

Apparently they’re super durable and “clean.” Except I don’t mind having to walk into my kitchen to get a drink because I need the Fitbit steps. Also I am rarely “on the go,” and when I am, I don’t want to carry a heavy glass water bottle. One more thing: IT’S A $42 WATER BOTTLE! Yes, technically it would be “free” for me, but still. It’s not $42 pretty.

I thought maybe I’d have better luck in the gourmet food department. The $50 is free money, so why not spend it on something completely frivolous that I would never buy with real money — like a giant box of Godiva chocolate. This is what I envisioned:

neiman marcus godiva ultimate truffle

I did not envision the $165 price tag for 80 truffles. Time to lower my expectations.

neiman marcus godiva dessert

I could get 12 dessert truffles for $30 (inexplicably on sale for $30 from $25?). No wonder Godiva doesn’t give samples if their truffles are “worth” $2.50!

Or I could blow the whole gift card on 12 pieces of chocolate:

neiman marcus chocolate 12

Although knowing me, I would be too afraid to eat them since they cost me so much free money and would save them until they were past their prime. Not that I’ve done that with Christmas or Easter candy in the past…

But if I’m gonna blow the whole thing in one shot, I could at least get 36 pieces of Godiva.

neiman marcus godiva spring

That’s $1.38 a truffle, an even better value than 80 for $165!

Or maybe I could get tea.

neiman marcus tea

But for $45 I would expect 20 packs of 20, not just 20 bags. That’s $2.25 a mug, wouldn’t it be cheaper to just go to a cafe?

Look, creme brulee almonds! Those sound amazing!

neiman marcus almonds

But not $35 for 18 oz. amazing. (WHO IS BUYING THIS STUFF?!!)

I was now deep in the gourmet food pages and finding some interesting things. Like asparagus. Who in their right mind buys 2 lbs of asparagus from Neiman Marcus for $44 (plus $12.50 shipping!)? So it’s essentially $56.50. I’m not sure I would even spend $6.50 on 2 lbs of asparagus, I think Aldi sells it cheaper.

neiman marcus asparagus

Look, 3 lbs of mashed potatoes for $61.50 (gotta include shipping). I think they are loaded with flakes of gold.

neiman marcus mashed potato

This dachshund cookie jar is maybe the least crazy $50 food item — it comes with 17.6 oz of cookies, which is approximately 50. So it’s $1 a cookie with a free dachshund jar! My dad and his side of the family are big dachshund fans — do you want a cookie jar and 50 cookies for Father’s Day, Dad? ;)

neiman marcus dachshund

That was all the gourmet food section had to offer for $50 or less, so I hopped over to beauty. I obviously don’t need any more makeup (does anyone?), but it never hurts to look. And now I know that Christian Louboutin makes nail polish. And it costs $50.

christian louboutin nail polish

I’m not sure what’s going on here either — is the insanely high shoe some kind of decorative case? And is the nail polish red or black, or some magical mixture of both? For $50 it better be both.

All Neiman Marcus’ makeup was designer (and not like Lorac Pro or Urban Decay, which are expensive for Ulta, but still under $50, but real designer, like Louboutin, Armani and Dior). In other words, $50 wouldn’t get me a makeup brush.

By chance I wandered over to jackets, just for kicks. And that’s when I found this mythical unicorn:

neiman marcus pleather jacket

I’m not sure I’m a leather (or pleather) jacket girl, but this one would be free. I just hope my gift card comes before they realize they left a zero off the price, because nothing at Neiman Marcus costs $34, not even a water bottle. And if I got the jacket, I’d have enough money for this too:

neiman marcus peppermint brittle

Though with a sale price like that, it’ll probably be long gone, so I’ll have to settle for 6 truffles or a $16 tin of butterfly gummies. But hey, it’s all “free,” right?

Kudos to Kaan Malkoc and Groupon UK

31 Mar

In school I was told time and time again that Wikipedia is not a reputable source.

“Anyone can edit it!” professors would insist.

I’ve used Wikipedia for years, and I still don’t know how to edit an article (though to be honest I’ve never really tried). I had also never noticed an article edited with incorrect information. Until last week.

The other day I happened to find myself on the One Direction Wikipedia page (Don’t ask, it was for work. Really.) Zayn Malik had just announced he was leaving the band, so I glanced over at the list of members.

one direction kaan malkocThat was fast, I thought — they already replaced him! …With Kaan Malkoc? I found it curious he didn’t have his own Wiki page, so I googled him. And almost nothing came up. Turns out he is not a world-renowned pop star, he’s some Turkish kid who’s a ninja at Wikipedia editing. Well done, Kaan Malkoc, you just proved all my professors right. However, Wikipedia did correct the edit, so maybe it’s not that unreliable.

one direction wikipediaIn unrelated news, I noticed a bizarre Groupon today. UK Groupons are often a little bizarre — I’ve seen ones for a decorative Lord or Lady title, as well as a 6-month supply of allergy pills (I totally just bought that one). But this one was something else:

groupon dog barkAnd then I realized what day tomorrow is and clicked on the link.

groupon april fools pug
Well done, Groupon, for kicking off April Fool’s Day early.

Why we can’t be trusted in the Chinatown bakery anymore, and pickles

15 Mar

During the week I try to eat healthily, with lots of oatmeal, vegetables, and lean proteins. But the weekend? Let’s just say I’m “working out for the weekend,” because all the calories I burn running all week are likely eaten back up.

In continuing with the awesomely bad ’80s tune themes, “sweetness is my weakness” (Dead or Alive, anyone?). Particularly Chinatown sweets. At my normal Monday grocery stores (yes, plural, because I go to at least 3 different grocery stores during my big Monday shop), I never even go down the cookie (“biscuit”) aisle. But in Chinatown we can’t help ourselves. It started with “the cake,” then Hello Panda, because, hello, I can’t not buy it if it has a panda on it, then Kittyland, because they were 3 for 1, and then our favorite chocolate-covered gummies were by the register — and there were 2 new flavors! — and suddenly we’ve spent way more than anyone ever should at a Chinese bakery and all this is in my kitchen:

london chinatown sweetsWe should be good for weeks now, “should” being the key word.

Take a look at the English phrases on the Kittyland cookies:

kittylandWho decided “My dad bought it for me” and “It’s lonely sleeping alone” were the best ones to use?

In other food news, I had a lengthy text message conversation with my dad the other day regarding pickles. I sent him this photo of some pickles I bought at Waitrose to prove that they’re the real Kosher deal.

london kosher pickles

Apparently “kosher” pickles in the US just means they’re made in the traditional manner of Jewish New York City pickle makers and may not have been prepared in accordance with Jewish dietary law. These British bad boys, however, were. I’m not sure how that affects the taste though. They are sweet, like US-style bread and butter pickles. But most pickles in the UK are sweet. To get dill I had to buy these imported from Poland.

dill pickled cucumbersThey’re good, but they’re not US deli (like Izzy’s) dill good. Also, for whatever reason (probably this crap), pickles are not called pickles in the UK, they’re either “pickled cucumbers” or gherkins, not to be confused with my beloved Vlasic sweet gherkins. But I believe I blogged about this pickle issue before. I’ve just recently been digging pickles as a relatively low calorie snack since, well, SEE PHOTO ABOVE.

Day seats, Mädchen lieben die pancakes, and interesting library people

10 Mar

Last week it hit me — how is it already March? And, perhaps more importantly, how is it already March and I haven’t seen a single play in 2015?

I decided I needed to do something about that, and queued for day seats for The Nether. It was my 24th show in London and 13th time queuing for day seats. People occasionally ask me what my favorite show is, and I never seem to have an answer. They’re all so different, it’s hard to compare. However, there are a few things that made some of my favorites, like Chimerica and 1984, stand out: impressive and surprising set design, and a theme or story that stays with me long after the curtain closes. The Nether checked both boxes and was an amazing show. It’s one you have to see for yourself — I did not do myself any favors trying to explain to Stephen how amazing a show about pedophilia was.

There were only three people ahead of me when I joined the queue, two of which were young German students. They spent the entire time talking in very animated German. At one point I heard the girl say “pancakes” 5 different times. Is there no German word for “pancakes?” Or maybe she just prefers the English? Either way, it was weird to hear “wedeln ja dran einfrierenden rennende PANCAKES die rase einrennendes in vor soll PANCAKES dran winden verworrene versessenes PANCAKES denn weis an da reinen PANCAKES.” (no, that is not real German so don’t try to translate it)

stewie click click bloody click pancakesAfter I got my front row center ticket for the matinee, I went over to the library with my laptop to get some work done. The computer lab of a public library, for lack of a better word, is an “interesting” place with “interesting” people. And with that, an “interesting” smell that comes from said “interesting” people. One such interesting person plopped himself next to me and proceeded to play music loudly on his phone. Then he decided to play with one of those apps that repeats what you say, so he would say a phrase in Russian (most likely obscenities), some animatronic animal would repeat the phrase back to him, and he would laugh hysterically with his friend. Keep in mind that this is going on in the computer room of the library, usually a quiet zone. Never mind the fact that we were also in central London and it was a gorgeous day — didn’t these guys have anything better to do than to play with their phones in the library? Luckily they left after 15 minutes, my guess is they were killing time before their hostel would let them check in. Still, I was surprisingly productive, reminding me that even though waking up early sucks, queuing for day seats is always worth it, especially when I can still get my work done.

Spotted on a German hotel’s website

27 Feb

fitness centerreI can just imagine the thought process:

Hanz: Should we spell Fitnesscenter with an -er or -re?

Franz: Well, are we trying to cater to Americans or Britons?

Hanz: Both, I guess.
Close_Enough

Thoughts on the airplane class curtain

24 Feb

bridesmaids curtainAs a shameless rule follower, I am always torn about the airplane curtain. The general rule of airplanes is that your cabin’s toilets are behind you, and you should never breach a curtain to go to the bathroom. However, on my recent flight back to London from Shanghai, my Premium Economy seat was 3 rows from the Upper Class (business) loos, and about 20 rows from the economy potty behind me. So virtually everyone in my cabin passed through the curtain to use the closer and superior toilet cubicle (it even had lotion!). On previous flights I’ve seen flight attendants get upset over this, but on this flight no one seemed to care. Stephen, however, cared, because every time he started to fall asleep in his business class pod, someone would tramp by and leave the curtain open, letting the bright light shine through. What are your thoughts on this? Do business class passengers deserve a better experience because they paid 5 times as much, or should the curtain be open because “it’s civil rights and the nineties?”

bridesmaids help me poorSo this is my third version of this blog post. The previous two rambled on and on and I’m not sure anybody really cares about my thoughts on how it’s weird the Virgin Upper Class flight attendant says a very sincere “thank you” when taking away your glass or plate since you didn’t really do anything. I also lamented about the melted ice cream bar I let sit on my arm rest for 6 hours because I was in the dreaded middle seat on the way back and it just appeared when I got back from visiting Stephen in business class and I wasn’t sure if it was mine or not, since neither of the arm rests are really yours when you’re stuck in the middle. Like I said, you didn’t really miss much.

I am happy to report that ::knock on wood:: I am fully acclimated to UK time and no longer waking up at 4 a.m. craving xiaolongbao. I could go for some now, however.

This is your brain on jet lag

17 Feb

Brain: Hey, it’s noon, let’s go get some xiaolongbao for lunch!

Me: Um, no, it’s 4 a.m. You’re in London, not Shanghai. You can have oatmeal in 5 hours. Let’s kill the time by going back to sleep.

Brain: No, it’s cool, let’s check Facebook.

Me: If you want to stare at a screen, let’s get out the laptop and do some work.

Brain: Oh no, I’m way too tired to do work now.

Me: Then let’s go back to sleep!

Brain: How about we just take a 3-hour nap later this afternoon?

Me: No, the series of long naps sleep strategy only works when you’re in China for 5 days and on holiday. You’re in London now and have to work tomorrow, not to mention run, Skype mom and brown the pork chops before putting them in the slow cooker.

Brain: Did you say pork? Pork xiaolongbao sounds so good right now.

Me: Why do you seriously not have an off switch?

DinTaiFung XiaoLongBaoStephen and I got back from China on Sunday night. It was a quick, but amazing trip, despite the insane amount of time, effort and money that went into getting my passport renewed and a Chinese visa within a three-week period. But now my body is back in London, but my brain is still somewhere in Xintiandi, apparently craving soup dumplings, and I can’t help but wonder if I will ever sleep normally again, or if writing blog posts in my head for 3 hours in the middle of the night is going to be the new norm.

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