Monday, November 24, 2008

Credit Cards and Comfy Shoes

If you are serious about Black Friday shopping then read on my sisters and brothers! The time has come for me to reveal the keys to a shop-a-licious day. Your goal? To cross everybody off your Christmas list while spending as little as possible. The bargains you'll find this year are the only upside of the down economy. The discounts will be DEEP and smart shoppers will be taking advantage of the deals.


Start with a budget and a list. Now is the time to ask your sister to text you with clothing sizes and gift ideas for your nieces and nephews. Save the text messages so that you'll have the info when you need it. Ask friends, coworkers and family members for gift ideas for your other loved ones. If the list is looking too long for your wallet suggest dollar limits for gifts or secret santa gift exchanges for work and extended family.

Collect circulars and coupons. Find out which stores have the stuff you need. Many stores have timed discounts so take note of door buster sales and special hours. Some retailers are offering online coupons and maps. Visit mall sites, stores sites and manufacturer websites. Compare prices. Just because a store is calling it a "sale" doesn't mean they are offering the best deal.

Plan your route. Your first stop should be the store offering the best price on the item you want the most. Make time sensitive sales your top priority.

Line up your shopping posse. Your mother, your sister, your friend.... decide who'll accompany you on your Black Friday shopping mission. Call a sitter and tell your man he's on his own. Kids and men who hate to shop can slow you down and take the fun out of your day.

Gather your gear. Comfortable shoes, snacks for the car and a hands free backpack or pouch large enough to hold your keys, credit cards, shopping list, cell phone, circulars (you'll need these for proof if you run into a price-matching situation) and receipts.


Set your alarm. Early bird deals start as early as midnight. I'm kicking off Rockin' Shoppin' Eve at Carolina Place Mall at 1:00 am ( Get to the stores early for the best prices, best selection and groovy giveaways.


Snag the first available parking spot. Circling wastes time and seldom results in getting closer to the store. Look for spots around the back of the mall. Inexperienced shoppers make a mad dash for the spots closest to the entrances. Enter your car location into your cell phone. Stash your shopping bags in the trunk between purchases. It'll keep back strain to a minimum plus shoppers who are overloaded with bags are walking targets for muggers.

Use your credit card. Many cards offer extended warranties on electronics so you don't feel tempted to buy the store's pricey protection for that new TV, computer or video gaming system. Credit cards can also make returning a little easier.

Be patient. Long lines are to be expected. Use the time in line to check items off of your list, organize receipts and to exchange bargain info with other shoppers. If a line is really holding you up call ahead to the next store to see if they still have the item you want in their inventory.

Speak up. Sometimes scanners malfunction and don't give you the sale price. Items get missed at markdown time. Don't be afraid to ask questions about advertised items you can't find on the sales floor because there may be a few in the stockroom. Don't feel shy about asking for a rain check on an item that sold out before you could get it. Don't be afraid to ask for gifts going to different homes to be rung up separately. And don't forget to ask for your gift receipts.

Be a good shopper. Use kind speech with fellow shoppers and salespeople. Do your part to keep dressing rooms and racks neat. And STICK TO YOUR LIST to avoid overspending.

How Does the DWTS Voting Really Work?

Brooke ends the night with a score of 58. She is five points ahead of Lance and Warren. Could it be any more clear that the judges want her to win? Why do the judges hate Lance so much? Why don't the judges ever mention Brooke's lack of showmanship? The scoring has never been more questionable. Could it be that ABC is just trying to give the nudie model a fighting chance against Lance's large N-Sync fan base?

I've read the rules, but I'm still not completely sure how many audience votes it takes to overcome bad scores from the judges. But if all is fair in love and dancing, around this time tomorrow night Lancey (it's their couple name) will own the mirror ball.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Throwaway Guilt

Grandma had lots of jelly jars. I suspect she purchased Smuckers jelly just to get the jars. The evil jelly marketers must've known her weakness. Sometimes they would advertise special collectible jars! My grandmother made and canned her own jelly so she didn't need Smuckers for anything but the jars. Between the jelly jars and the margarine containers it was tough for the Tupperware lady to make a sale at Grandma Reacie's house. My mother has followed in her footsteps. She loves to re-use Ziplock bags and we have over a dozen plastic take-out containers from our local Chinese food restaurant. In an act of tough love I discarded my mother's Steak n Shake and Bojangles cups. It was for her own good.

As I clean out my refrigerator to get ready for Thanksgiving I realize that I too have the gene. I feel such guilt when I throw away Butterball lunch meat plastic containers. They are perfect for leftovers and great to use when I take snacks to work. I have Tupperware and Gladware so why do I find it so hard to part with these addictive containers? To make it even harder they don't even have a recycling number that my trash hauler accepts.

Recognizing the problem is the first step. "My name is Ramona Holloway and I like to keep plastic containers." I know I can't handle the temptation so the second step is simple. I've got to fight it. I must stop buying the lunch meat in those handy plastic containers with the colorful tops. It's the only way to break the family cycle!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Yawning with the Stars

With the help of the big ham we all know as Warren Sapp, I was able to stay awake during "Dancing with the Stars." Warren and his partner Kym had the most exciting routines, but the judges are fighting hard to keep the only female star on the dance floor. That's why they're still giving her higher scores than she deserves. Brooke is good, but let's face it, her tango was lackluster. Her solo was sexy, but she falls short when it comes to looking like a true professional.

Poor Cody is suffering in the competition thanks to his substitute partner, Edyta. Any 19-year old dude would lose his cool with her sliding her half naked body all over his crotch. I've never seen anyone work so hard at hip thrusting as Cody, but sadly his routine sucked.

Lance, who has a happy glow worm quality on the dance floor, lacked the wow factor this week. He doesn't have to worry about going home. I think we'll be saying good-bye to sweaty, cape twirling Maurice. Yes, his solo dance consisted of 15 seconds of furious cape twirling. That dude got screwed in the choreography department.

Warren needs to thank his partner Kym, for coming up with some choreography that worked for him. And we all need to thank Warren for keeping last night's show from being a total yawnfest. Am I the only one yearning for the return of the ballroom kids?

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Tell Santa to Bring me a Man Mixer

The stores are all decked out for the holiday shopping season. The Christmas carols are playing. We're a little over two weeks away from Santa's arrival at a mall near you. Soon commercials featuring cars with giant bows, the latest Elmo and chia pets will fill the television airways. I get sucked in every year and I LOVE it!

It brings me joy to find the perfect gift for people I love, but sadly the only thing on my list just isn't for sale. I want a man mixer! I'm hoping that someone will invent it before its too late for Santa to have the elves build it. You just take DNA samples of guys you've dated, toss them into the man mixer and VOILA! Out comes Mr. Right! This thing will sell itself!

The infomercial will be hilarious. You won't be able to turn away from it. Can't you picture a girl on a romantic date with a hot guy? The check comes and he turns his pockets inside out because McDreamy can only afford McDonalds. In the next scene, a woman is gazing lovingly at a picture of her Fortune 500 boyfriend. Then we see her looking out the window and spotting him driving down the street with another chick in the passenger seat of his BMW convertible. How about an even funnier scene of a couple at a wedding reception? The woman's date dives under a table when he sees the groom tossing the garter in his direction.

We've all been there. You find a guy with some great qualities who has an even greater, giant-red-flag, unlovable flaw. He's a total genius who thinks God is dumb. He's really dedicated to his career, but his workaholic ways make you feel like you're single. He's the life of the party until he uses a floral arrangement as a urinal.

Well, so long Mr. Not-Quite-Right! Hello MAN MIXER! In just three easy steps you can creat a guy you can live with for the rest of your life...
1. collect saliva samples from men you've dated
2. type each sample man's good qualities into the man mixer
3. set it and forget it
Faster than you can say "sea monkey" a great guy grows in your man mixer. But wait there's more. They'll throw in a knife set if you order it for me right now!

Sorry girls, this is just a fantasy. There are no operators standing by. There will be no man mixer under your tree or mine. I guess I'll just have to settle for ch-ch-ch-Chia dude.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Real Beauty

Tonight I spent the evening in awe of about three dozen women. They were this year's honorees at the Link Leading Lady banquet.

Thanks to generous sponsors like Cambria Estate Winery (
we were able to celebrate an inspirational group of women and girls who have found ways to make our corner of the world a little bit more beautiful.

Beauty isn’t just about Angelina’s lips , J-Lo’s hips or the girl who was picked for the cover of this month’s Maxim Magazine. It’s not just a label for the newest Jimmy Choo shoes or the big hair trend…. though I do like the big hair trend.

To me beauty is a trio a little girls who spent their free time painting fans to sell, using the money they earned to help orphans in other countries. There’s something beautiful about a woman who writes a grant and uses the funding to reach out to kids who've been in trouble to help them learn about making better choices. When a woman finds it in her heart to rescue abused and neglected animals, that’s beautiful. When faced with illness or the death of a loved one, a woman who finds the strength to turn her heartache into hope, is just stunningly beautiful. Using your time, talents and resources to help our troops, to help the jobless find employment, to educate, to empower, to guide, to nourish, to nurture, to uplift, to break the glass ceiling. That is true beauty!

The Leading Ladies are living proof that you don’t necessarily have to win an election to bring about positive change. I proudly toasted all of them last night... with a glass of Cambria wine of course.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Fred is Not Surprised

My grandfather, was a Mississippi sharecropper. He and my grandmother migrated north to Ohio when he found work at a foundry in Ohio. When he wasn't working in his garden or working at the foundry, he read. He read mostly about politics, history and religion. I remember sitting on the porch with him in Oberlin and listening to him talk about the future of our family and our country.

As he watched his "tribe" grow from African and Native American roots into a multi-cultural tree he predicted that our nation would someday look more like our family. He believed that through love, tolerance and education, we'd become more united as a nation. I guess Fred Holloway was right. Obama's extended family is Black, White, Asian, Christian, Jewish and Muslim. Will that make him a better leader for these United States? I hope so. At this point in our nation's history, we could all use some hope.

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Dance Killer

If you hear the words "team dance" you'd better hope Susan Lucci isn't around. Susan is the "Dancing with the Stars" equivalent of me on the playground. I know why I was last picked last for basketball, softball and flag football. I would have done the same thing to our gym class volleyball team that Susan did to the cha-cha team. Make us lose... big time.

It finally hit me last night why Susan is so stiff. Our expectations are too high! Thanks to the miracles of plastic surgery, make-up and hair dye it is easy to forget that she's just six years younger than my 68 year old mother. When you see her big brown hair, bounce-less boobs and wrinkle-less forehead you assume that this firey young babe is gonna bring it! Sadly, she just can't. Despite playing one of TV's most unforgettable bee-otches, she appears lost, timid and frail on the dance floor. At least Cloris could act her way through the choreography. Susan gets so flustered she just falls apart.

Cody needed the group dance to offset the low scores he earned with his temporary partner, Edyta. I hope Julianne recovers quickly. Edyta is just way too sexy for the awkward Disney boy. He's been dealt a pretty tough hand. First his cutie-pie partner needs surgery. Then he gets stuck with Susan on his team for the group dance. I hope all those Hannah Montana fans voted A LOT!

Maurice had a good night. I don't know what his partner, Cheryl, would have done to him if he hadn't brought his "A" game. Cheryl appears to be breaking him down! This guy won Olympic gold, but emotionally and physically, it looks like this dancing stuff is gonna tear him apart.

Warren was lackluster. Lance's partner is new to the show and the risks she's taking aren't impressing all of the judges. He deserved a much higher score than 25. For some reason they don't want the retired boy band star to soar in this competition.

Brooke's partner plays to her strength... her grace. The fluidity of her hands when she dances helped to give her the first triple 10 of the season. With her perfect score and great team dance (Susan wasn't a part of her squad) she's sure to be at the top. The team dance is likely to save Brooke's other teammates, Warren and Maurice.

Let's hope that this was Susan's last dance. There's something quite annoying about her whining... but what's even more annoying is the way she murders good choreography.