Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/manolo/public_html/basement/wordpress/wp-content/themes/StandardTheme_20/admin/functions.php on line 229
Manolo's Basement of the Bargains | Archive | April, 2009
Archive - April, 2009

Florentine Fun

Regular readers of this space know my fondness for a good hat, no matter the time of year. Whether it’s in felt, canvas, straw, or, well, nearly any material you can name, I’m a big believer in hats. They add dignity, protect us from the elements, and have a way of really standing out in a crowd. Oh, and last weekend when I took a header in a park and landed spectacularly on my nose, my stiff canvas short topper also acted as a makeshift crash helmet so that the accident caused a couple minor scrapes and not a concussion.

Hats are our friends.

This is one I want to make friends with:

Italian Velvet Hat with FlowersThis delightful velvet hat handmade in Italy has a wired brim so you can shape it however it best suits your mood and your face. It’s decorated with a bright swathe of silk flowers and a cheerful bow. Oh, and if the red isn’t your cup of tea, it also comes in dark brown.

So how much does all this charm and grace cost? Well, once upon a time it would have run you $238.00. Right now, though, it’s on sale at the New York Botanical Garden Gift Shop for just $119.00 ($108.10 for members).

Dome You Want One?

Sometimes in life it’s important to ditch the big purse and take something that will hold only the absolute essentials: ID, lipstick, and cash for a taxi, if needed. When that’s all you want, this is all the purse you’ll need:

Cole Haan Genevieve Woven Dome Wristlet Meet the Cole Haan Genevieve woven dome wristlet. It’s got enough room to hold the minimum requirements for an evening of clubbing or a great party without getting in your way.

It’s also so pretty you’ll want to keep an eye out lest some lady with equally good taste and a too bulky bag is tempted to make off with it!

If someone tries it, defend your property…then let her know where to get it at a legal steal. The retail value may be $225.00, but right now it’s on sale at Bloomingdale’s for just $157.50.

Spring is Sprung!

It is a sad fact that I have the precise opposite of green thumb. I have but to glance in passing at plants to cause their untimely deaths. I am the Typhoid Mary of the garden.

If, however, I had any talent at all in keeping plants alive, I would be treating myself to this gorgeous planter right about now:

Grape Cluster Planter Just imagine a brilliant green against the soft gray weather-resistant composition of resin and stone, and then imagine colorful flowers or fruit bursting out from among those leaves…the image leaves me breathless and joyful.

And a little frustrated because my lousy inability to make plants thrive means I can’t take advantage of the incredible deal it happens to be right now.

The original price was $198.00, which was a tidge on the pricey side for most of us. Right now, though, it’s on sale through the New York Botanical Garden Gift Shop for a mere $49.50 ($44.55 for members)! Seriously, two-thirds off is a great deal on nearly anything. Take advantage.

Do it for me, because I can’t do it for myself.

Wok This Way

I love Chinese food. I have all my life. I may come from the transparent peoples, but I’ve been eating with chopsticks almost as long as I’ve been eating with a fork. I have fond memories of the nights my mother would announce that she was going to do a stir fry; watching her chop the meat and veggies just so, carefully putting out ramekins with measured amounts of the right spices and sauces so she could toss them into the mix at the crucial moment without stopping to pull out teaspoons, hearing the oil start to sizzle as she added the meat to the wok…and then the scents rising from the stove.

Best of all was the moment when she would serve up heaping bowls of steamed rice and ladle up the goodies from her wok. I’d eagerly attack the fragrant dish with my chopsticks. When I was done with my portion, I’d always hope there was a bit more so I could have seconds.  On those nights, I rarely cared whether there was dessert. I just wanted more stir fry. I want to relive those nights, but in order to do it, I’m going to need a wok.

Le Creuset Wok I’m thinking I might want one like this one by Le Creuset. Regular readers of this space will already be well aware of my fondness for Le Creuset. It’s the best cookware I’ve ever used, it’s hard wearing, and it’s so attractive it makes great serveware as well.

As much as I loved my mother’s traditional iron wok, this one is super easy care, far prettier, and with its slightly flattened bottom, it’s stable on the stovetop without a special ring to hold it steady. Unlike so many modern woks, though, its shape is traditional enough that it works like the original article. All too many modern woks are really shaped more like slightly rounded saute pans, which just doesn’t cook the same way. The glass lid is also shaped correctly, but allows you to see what’s going on inside, unlike the classic ones.

If you’re looking to do traditional Chinese cooking in a modern world, this could be the perfect solution for you.

Oh, and did I mention the price? The retail value is  $225.00, but Williams Sonoma has it on sale in this fresh, cheerful lemongrass color for just $139.99.

Anyone else up for Chinese food tonight?

Be Superfantastic, Make a Difference

I’m a bit late getting this to you, but Ralph Lauren is having a promotion for National Volunteer Week that may interest you. Now through April 25, all purchases are 15% off. What’s more, 15% of the proceeds of your purchase will go to a charity you choose. Charities include Habitat for Humanity, Autism Speaks, and Waterkeeper Alliance, as well as four others. If you aren’t sure which group you’d like to support, don’t panic. The site includes information on each one. There’s a one-line mission statement followed by a brief interview with someone from the charity, discussing their purposes and practices.

So what does this mean in terms of savings for the savvy shopper? Well, here’s a nice example. In fact, it’s the example I would probably choose for myself.

Ralph Lauren Flat Bangle Simple, elegant, timeless, versatile…you can’t beat this for an investment piece of jewelry. This handsome bangle bracelet comes in your choice of gold vermeil or sterling silver , and will serve you well for years and years to come. It’s dramatic without being ostentatious. It’s now but it won’t look silly later on.

And of course there is that 15% off thing. The regular price is $195.00, but with the discount, you’ll save $29.25. That brings it down to a much more affordable $165.75, assuming my math is correct. Not bad.

Ralph Lauren then gives a percentage of what you have spent to, say, Autism Speaks, where it helps people advocate for the autistic. Or it goes to Habitat for Humanity, where it helps build a home for a family who otherwise would never own a house of their own. Or it goes to any of the other fine charities chosen. Just put the code for your chosen charity in the space provided when checking out. You decide what cause to support. You save some cash. You get something pretty you can wear for years. You do some good in the world.

Downside? I see no downside.

Be charitable. Be superfantastic.

Be Kind to Your Mother

Mother Earth, that is.

Happy Earth Day!

Today’s bargain comes to you from VivaTerra, a place where Earth Day is celebrated 24/7. They specialize in using sustainable and/or recycled materials to create fabulous goodies to make your life both more practical and more elegant.

Oh yes, both goals can be met simultaneously. If you don’t believe me, take a gander at this:

Helix Stool ($10 surcharge)
This gorgeous piece of carving is the Helix Stool. It’s made of sustainable blond mango wood, finished with oil waxing so that it practically glows. You’re supposed to sit on it, but I might use it as a plinth to display a particularly wonderful piece of art…or I might just sit it in the middle of the room and stare at it all day. It’s more than pretty enough for the purpose.

No matter how you choose to use it, there’s no denying that it’s a heck of a deal right now. Originally priced at $229.00, it’s now a far more wallet-friendly (as well as earth-friendly) $114.00.

Save the earth, save some cash, and save your feet all at the same time. All three are worth it.

About Last Week…and Mellow Yellow

Technical Difficulties The Manolosphere has been in something of a technical mess for the last week, which left me unable to post. I apologize, but I’m back on the job today. Keep your fingers crossed that the dark days of lack of bargains are now over.

In fact, let’s take a look at a great bargain right now.

Yellow is a color that always makes me happy. A good purse does the same thing. Combine the two and take a look at what you get:

Jill Stuart Magazine Tote The ever-so-snazzy Monaco magazine tote by Jill Stuart; that’s what you get. It’s made of bright yellow leather trimmed with crinkled yellow patent leather (oh, and if you’re not ready to carry a yellow purse in public, it also comes in basic black) and nickel or gunmetal hardware. There’s a magnetic tab snap closure at the top. Inside, there’s a zipper fastening to keep your treasures secure from the elements, tumbles, and pick pockets. Within that pocket, there are other pockets for your cell phone, wallet, etc.

All in all, it’s the perfect casual spring/summer purse.

To make perfection even better, it’s on sale at Bloomingdale’s. The regular price may be $278.00, but right now you can get it for just $193.99. Those are the sort of savings that make me very mellow, indeed.

Happy Easter from Twistie

Easter Bunny I think that says it all.

Oh, and don’t forget to check out the post holiday sales next week!

Now, do I want to start with a chocolate bunny or a malted egg….

What a Little Seed Money Can Get You

I’m almost ashamed to admit this, but I am death to plants. Seeds wither in my hands. I have literally killed catci by failing to water them enough. Gardens are mysterious places to me, and no matter what I do, I entirely fail at keeping them alive and orderly.

And yet I love flowers. I long to make plants big and beautiful with glossy leaves. It isn’t going to happen. But I can express my plant love in other ways, even fashionable ones.

Monica Carvalho Seeded Evening Bag This delicious evening bag is covered by Monica Carvalho in seeds. The black (shown) is done in tucama palm seeds, used by Amazonian Indians as protection when they enter the rain forest. The white is done in jarina palm seeds, known as vegetal ivory for their hardness and luminous sheen. Both are perfect in size to carry to the theater, the opera, or a great party. Either would get noticed in a very good way.

Best of all, it’s on an amazing sale at the New York Botanical Gardens shop. When first released into the wild, these evening bags ran $518.00. Now, though, you can practice conservation with your bank account and still carry this fabulous purse for just $129.50! Or, if you’re a member of the Gardens, it can be yours for a mere $116.55.

Beautiful, unique, earth-friendly, budget-friendly, and in support of a good cause? That’s fashion I can absolutely get behind.

Now if I could just get an azalea to bloom….

Hail to the Chef!

When my parents first met, my mother admired a top-quality 12″ chef’s knife. She told my father how much she wanted it. My father went back later and bought it for her birthday. He spent the next few days in a cold sweat, certain that she would hand him his hat as soon as he handed her that knife. After all, it wasn’t a terribly romantic gift coming from a boyfriend…let alone as his first gift to her. He needn’t have worried so. Mom was an enthusiastic cook who knew good kitchenware. They lived happily ever after and had four kids.

Me? I’m my mother’s daughter. Good cookware gives me a thrill. There’s nothing like holding a really good kitchen knife in your hand. Mom taught me a lot about the importance of really excellent knives in the kitchen. They hold their edges better so they don’t go dull in the middle of a job. The handles are sturdy and won’t come to wobble later in life. They’re comfortable in the hand so you can cut what you need without tiring your hands unduly. Oh, and that birthday gift? Outlasted Mom. That’s a good knife, when it can last more than thirty years of daily use and still be in good enough shape to keep on using.

There are several excellent companies making just such knives today, but my go to knife at home is a Wusthof. It’s incredibly comfortable in the hand, holds an edge beautifully, and is easy to manage. And that’s why I was so excited when I took a glance in the sale section at Williams Sonoma this morning:

Wusthof Twelve Inch Chef’s Knife The Wusthof 12″ chef’s knife is a full foot of fabulous disguised as kitchen equipment. With this baby you can handle anything from a roast to a cabbage with aplomb and precision.

Even on sale it’s not cheap, but then again, when you add up what you would spend on replacing a mediocre chef’s knife every few years against what you’ll spend on buying this level of quality once, it really is a savings.

And speaking of savings, they really are tremendous right now. This baby usually sells for a cool $500.00. Right now, though, at Williams Sonoma, the price has been slashed to just $399.95. What’s more, if you spend $299.00 worth on Wusthof Classic Cutlery, you’ll get a free in-drawer, seven-slot beechwood insert to hold your knives safely for free ($19.95 retail value, see site for details).

I don’t know about you, but I think this handsome knife would be the perfect first denizen of that insert.

Page 1 of 212»