Saturday, May 28, 2011

I can fix that....

Leah will be 2 in July and I've decided that we're going to do an Elmo birthday party. Since I'm a bit of a planner, I found a custom Elmo shirt on Etsy and ordered it. Unfortunately, when it came, I was sorely disappointed in the size. I ordered a 3T because that's what size Leah is wearing right now. She even has a couple regular t-shirts that are 3T, so I was expecting the size to work. But it was like a night shirt:

I mean, it was practically down to her knees and past her elbows. Ridiculous! (Plus, when I paired it with the skirt I had made, it covered most of it and just looked dumb). So I emailed the woman who made it, told her it was HUGE, and asked if she had any sort of return or exchange policy on custom orders. She doesn't. (I then encouraged her to disclose in her listings that the sizes run big--as I perused her feedback, the common thread among neutral and negative comments was sizing).

So I decided I had a couple of options. First, I washed it on warm and dried it to see if it would shrink a little. It didn't. Then, after some encouragement from a couple of friends, I decided to try to take it in. I figured if it TOTALLY flopped, I could cut out the design and sew it on a shirt that fit. So I turned the shirt inside out and grabbed another t-shirt that fits her well and laid it on the Elmo shirt so that the tops lined up. I traced along the sides and under the arms and sewed a seam. Perfect! I could tell this was going to work. Then I turned the shirt back right side out, folded the bottom under, ironed the hem, and sewed it. Excellent. Did the same with each sleeve and VOILA!It fit! I was quite pleased with myself. And here is her whole birthday outfit:

Of course she'll wear some cute white sandals instead of socks. But it was like 48 degrees outside yesterday when I took this picture. We were definitely all wearing socks. :)

Saturday, May 21, 2011

I'm a Believer!

So I've always been curious about the grocery store Aldi. We had two locations relatively close to us, but I just never got there. But I always meant to because I have friends who couldn't stop raving about the deals.

Well, a third relatively close location just recently opened up, and it happens to be the closest of the three relatively close locations. :) My neighbor and I decided to brave the unknown together (with our collective four children) and made our debut Aldi appearance on Thursday afternoon.

Since I had already done my "big" shopping trip for the week, I decided just to pick up a few things that we would normal buy and eat to compare prices and tastes. Aldi carries mostly their own brands of everything. Once in a while, they get a big shipment of some overstock of a name brand item. For instance, when we went on Thursday, they had big bags of M&Ms and jugs of Arizona iced tea. But otherwise, everything is an off brand. Now, I happen to buy mostly store brands anyway (unless a combination of sale and coupon gets me the name brands for a better deal). So the idea of off brands was just fine with me.

Just walking around the store, I was extremely impressed with the prices. A loaf of sandwich bread was $.99 (comparable quality to Cub's store brand loaf of sandwich bread, which is closer to $2). A pound of butter was $2.49, which is, unfortunately, a really great price right now. (Just yesterday, Target's store brand of Market Pantry had butter for over $4/lb). The trip was mostly to browse, but I did pick up a few things. Here's the rundown:

Cheese Sharks (like goldfish) $1.29
Honey Nut Cheerio-look-alikes $1.59
Fruit snacks $1.79
Graham crackers $1.19
Flour (5 lb) $1.63
Mandarin oranges (4-pk bowls) $1.49
English muffins (6) $.99
Tortilla chips $1.19
Hot dogs (10) $.75
Hot dog buns (8) $.79
Tortellini $1.99
Fruit strips $1.99
Brats (5) $2.99
Strawberries (8 oz) $1.59
Frozen corn $.65
Frozen green beans $1.49

For comparison, I entered all comparable products on the Coborn's Delivers website. Now, Coborn's is generally a little more expensive than Target or Cub, but I did pick their store brands whenever I could. The total for the same 16 items was over $51. I'd say I did pretty well!

So far, the things we've tried have been great. The English muffins are gone (thanks to a 5-year-old who decided he loved them), the cheese sharks are awesome, the brats were very similar in taste to Johnsonville, and the hot dog buns were amazing for being $.79. Fruit strips, tortilla chips, mandarin oranges, and hot dogs were also all very comparable to other store brands.

Since I'm a person who already shops at Cub, Target, Sam's, and occasionally Trader Joe's, I don't really want to add another store to the list of places I need to go to get what I want. But after just one trip, I'm fairly certain I can cut my Cub trips (which is great, since it's not exactly my favorite place to shop. And don't let Amy Garvin tell you differently). :)

I'm excited to go back with my actual shopping list and try more things. If you have never tried Aldi and would like to, there are a few things you need to know:

1) You have to bring your own bags and bag your own groceries.
2) You need a quarter to get a cart. You get it back when you return your cart.
3) You need either cash or a debit card with a pin. Now, my receipt says that they are now accepting all debit/check cards, but I don't know if that includes check cards that are issued by Visa (like my check card from Wells Fargo, for instance). I'll have to ask next time.