Posted by Natalie Kaar / Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012
Hello there, shoppers!
Gearing up for spring break? Love shoes? Get ready to fall hard and fast. SWAG spies some serious sandals right here in the suburbs that are sure to have you looking downright dynamite in your downtime — no matter your destination.
And, of course, there are the old standbysthat work overtime when the weather’s warm, like the Sam Edelman Gigi, just $59 at Shoe Hive in Alexandria.
Posted by Natalie Kaar / Thursday, March 29th, 2012
Hello there, shoppers!
Is your dream spring break just as much about celebrating out on the town as hitting the beach? Well, we’re about to take all the thinking out of your packing. NoVA’s amazing boutiques are chock-full of fun dresses and handbags that are nothing short of party-perfect, and practically guarantee you’ll steal the show wherever you go. Now, crank up the Marley, mon.
First, a few fine dresses:
And, the best part, the bags:
Posted by Natalie Kaar / Wednesday, March 28th, 2012
Hello there, shoppers!
Whether getting ready to embark on spring break or already getting excited for your summer vacay, if you have babies and/or toddlers as travel companions, you may also be feeling a bit of anxiety.
While there is no denying how adorable and precious the little loves are, even the most well-behaved can be stretched beyond their limits when contained in a vehicle — whether it’s a plane, train or automobile — for a long period of time. Heck, the same goes for many adults. And you don’t just have your family to think about; there are those other travelers around you — and you never know if they’re “baby people” or the farthest thing from it.
But there is no need to scrap all your plans and swap out your excursion for a staycation. With a few handy helpers, traveling can become a breeze for the whole fam — as well as innocent bystanders. Say hello to SWAG’s Top Picks and Tricks for Traveling with Babies and Toddlers, and goodbye to your getaway guilt.
One of the biggest obstacles of traveling with babies and toddlers: They require a lot of stuff, and not just stuff; big and bulky is their MO. For instance, car seats, portable cribs, toddler beds, feeding chairs, etc. While these items can easily fill up a car, traveling by plane or train can be an all-out nightmare. We’ve all seen how bags are handled. Want your pricey stroller all banged up (by the way, you can buy one of those cheapy umbrella strollers at your destination, but have you ever pushed one of those for a long time?)? Not to mention, lugging all that stuff around. Plus, checked baggage fees are through the roof.
The solution: babysaway.com, offering clean, safe, high-quality baby and child equipment rentals — cribs, car seats, strollers, high chairs, toys and more — at 70 destinations throughout the U.S. at reasonable prices.
Costs and availability vary from location to location. To provide an example, my family is using the service in May for a trip to Denver with our toddler in tow. The toddler car seat there is $5 a day or $30 for the week; a toddler aerobed is $7 per day, $42 for the week; booster seat with tray is $3 per day, $18 for the week. For the same items in West Palm Beach, it would be $7d, $42 w for a convertible car seat; no aerobed so would do a Pack-N-Play for $5d, $30w; and the booster seat with tray would be $3d, $18w.
When it comes to making your way through the airport and keeping your kiddo contained during a flight if they’re under age 2 and you didn’t buy a seat for him/her (though buying little ones’ seats is recommended), then the ERGO may be your new best travel buddy.
For starters, a stroller is just one more thing to push in a crowded airport. Plus, it’s always fun for a little one to be up high and catch more of the action. ERGObaby carriers, as we’ve applauded before on SWAG, are lightweight and distribute a baby’s weight evenly across the hips and shoulders — no back pain — and can hold a baby up to 45 pounds, as well as infants as small as 7 pounds with a special insert.
The TSA may even let you walk through security with your child still strapped to you. And on a plane, there is no wrestling around, and it’s easier for your babe to fall asleep on your chest.
Plus, once you’re to your destination, you can use the ERGO for walks on the beach, shopping, etc.
There are several different options. Prices range from $115-$160.
TRTL BOT KidSafe iPhone 4/4S Cover
We’ve discussed it before. With little ones and iPhones, it’s often, if not always, love at first sight. And while cases like those made by Otterbox are good for protecting iPhones from drops, they don’t block the home button, which leaves a lot of room for trouble — sending emails and tweets that don’t make sense, deleting photos and apps … the list goes on and on.
So what are parents to do if they don’t want, or simply don’t consider it worth the headaches, to make the iPhone an outright no-no? Purchase the new TRTL BOT KidSafe iPhone 4/4S cover.
The case is reversible, with one side that blocks the home button. So, if you let your child in a child-friendly app, they can’t get out of it and into other apps that are off limits.
Genius, and only $24.95.
If you don’t feel like hauling your own high chair or renting one, the TrendyKid Totseat can help you keep your little tot entertained and contained at the table when you’re away from home.
While it doesn’t have a tray, things may get a bit messy — this is where oversized bibs with pockets come in — but the portable highchair apparatus, just $28.48 on Amazon and available in several different color variations, straps onto just about any adult chair and is super portable and easily washable.
It even comes with a little bag to haul it around in — an easy insert into the ol’ diaper bag or Mom’s handbag. Not to mention, it can be a good stand-in for restaurant highchairs when they’re just too dirty to be safe to sit in (trust me, your family doesn’t not want to contract norovirus), and less bulky to carry around than most highchair covers.
OTHER TIPS & RECOMMENDATIONS
Perhaps the best advice for traveling with babies and toddlers, beyond keeping your cool (babies and toddlers may be little, but they really pick up on things), is to stick to their routine as much as possible. Schedule flights and car rides, as much as is possible, to coincide with naps; keep meals at consistent times. But at the same time, be flexible on other things. A few extra Cheerios aren’t going to really hurt anybody, and if a bigger snack than usual keeps a little one from screaming on a flight, everyone will be happier campers. Also don’t underestimate the coolness factor of simple things like the clear cups that come from the drink cart or a view from the window seat — though the latter may be unhandy if you plan on getting up a lot.
Finally, a few suggestions for keeping the rest of the fam simpatico while traveling:
The FREE Draw Something App for iPhone and iPad, sort of a Pictionary and Scrabble smash-up that can entertain for hours while encouraging creativity.
The One Step Ahead Seatbelt Snoozer, for better, comfier, napping in the car.
Freeze-N-Go Bags from Cool-It Caddy, for keeping sunscreen, medicine and other heat-sensitive products from getting overheated when left in the car, golf bag or beach bag.
Happy shopping and happy travels!
Posted by Natalie Kaar / Tuesday, March 27th, 2012
Hello there, shoppers!
Gearing up for spring break, are you seeking skin that looks sun-kissed sans worries about skin cancer and wrinkles? See SWAG’s top picks in self tanners, for perfecting a DIY faux glow.
#1 BEST BARGAIN (FACE & BODY) Jergen’s Natural Glow Moisturizers
When it comes to Northern Virginia Magazine staff members (particularly the fairer-skinned ladies among us), let’s just say playing Six Degrees of Separation: Jergen’s Natural Glow is a very fast and furious game. Immediately after asking fellow staff for their suggestions in the self tanning realm, applause for Jergen’s rolled in like thunder.
“It’s basic, but I love the Jergens Natural Glow in medium. It’s so subtle, and the price point definitely works with my budget! I swap this in the summer months as my daily moisturizer.” –Elisa Glass, art director
“I like the Jergens Natural Glow Daily Moisturizer. I’m very fair skinned and it doesn’t turn me orange.” –Jolleen Tran, marketing specialist
“Jergens is the best if you ask me. The smell is not too pungent and it does show subtle color change on the skin.” –Hilary Adleberg, health & beauty intern
“I use the Jergen’s lotion … it doesn’t turn you unnaturally yellow or orange.” –Debbie Bradshaw, account executive
Even those who no longer blaze the trail through the faux glow frontier admit Jergen’s attributes for those who do:
“Personally, I have learned to love the fact that I am so pale, I glow in the dark. However, when I was trying to be tan (and not be a lobster or develop skin cancer), I used Jergens Natural Glow. I really liked it because it gradually makes you look tan so it doesn’t seem fake. And since it is just like body lotion it is really easy to apply.” –Nicole Kranyak, inside sales representative
“I’m with Nicole on the Jergens, but I don’t put forth an effort to be tan anymore either.” –Rebekah Lowe, new media specialist
THE NITTY GRITTY: The only cons expressed had to do with what Lorin Drinkard, administrative copywriter, refers to as Jergen’s “really funky smell,” something yours truly also considers a downer. Still, given that the stuff really looks natural, is available at drug stores, is only about $7.50 to $8, dries quickly, doesn’t stain clothes, is available in several different shades, and available in moisturizers that also reduce the appearance of cellulite and have SPF, we definitely deem it a bargain winner, winner, chicken dinner. After all, who has used a tanner that has absolutely no foul smells associated with it during application or after? Thought so.
#2 BEST SPLURGE (BODY): Xen-Tan Deep Bronze Luxe Premium Sunless Tan
Falling in love can happen really fast. Same goes for finding a self tanner that really gives one the look that he or she has spent some serious time in the sun, with many guessing that the tan was acquired somewhere in the tropics. If that’s the type of tanner you seek for stepping into that swimsuit, look no further than Xen-Tan Deep Bronze Luxe Premium Sunless Tan. A mouthful? Yes. Truly deep bronze and luxe results? Yes.
Says Glass, our always glowing art director, “Got a sample of Xen-Tan [Deep Bronze Luxe Premium Sunless Tan, $40 for 8 fl. oz.] about a year ago from Nordstrom. AND IT IS AMAZING. Smells decadent, does great thing things for the skin, and the color — though on the dark side — is very natural looking. I would think a full-size bottle would really last, too. In the small sample size, I’ve applied full-body at least four times, and there’s still more left.”
OK, did you read “smells decadent,” “does great things for the skin”? Others echo these sentiments.
THE NITTY GRITTY: Spending $40 is somewhat expensive (have found Xen-Tan on Amazon for a few bucks less than Nordstrom), but if a deep glow is what you desire, you can’t beat a tanner that also smells decent, has a slight vanilla scent, and is full of antioxidants; plus, Xen-Tan is supposed to last a week. Since the stuff is so dark, however, this may not be the tanner for people who often go by the name Casper, and it’s best to apply the lotion before bed, when you have plenty of time to let it soak in.
BEST SPLURGE (FACE): Beautisol Need I Glow More?
In addition to wanting a natural-looking tan from a self tanner, do you also want something for your face that acts like more of a problem-correcting moisturizer? For those of us with problem skin on the face (too oily or a bit too dry), Beautisol Need I Glow More? facial tanner is tops, with special concoctions especially suited for both types of skin and very natural-looking, never-orange color. Other pros: A little goes a long way; just follow the directions on the bottle, which recommend dotting a pea-sized amount to the cheeks, forehead, nose and chin, then blending in using a circle motion. Also, all Beautisol products feature odor-eliminating technology that really does cut down a girl’s chances of her hubby referring to her as “My Chemical Romance.” Hmm … wonder who that’s happened to at SWAG?
THE NITTY GRITTY: At $26 for just 1.5 fl. oz., available at beautisol.com, it’s not cheap, but a tube lasts and lasts. Big props for not causing breakouts, but it’s too bad these tanners don’t feature SPF; with that being the case, we recommend applying the lotion after washing the face at night, before bed. Or early in the morning on a Saturday when you expect to complete a lot of chores before hopping in the shower.
Of course, any good self tan starts with exfoliation. Our recommendations:
FOR BODY: Bliss Vanilla & Bergamot Body Buff
This stuff smells amazing. Gentle but effective exfoliation and a dreamy vanilla scent. Enough said. Well, almost, it’s also reasonably priced at $26.
FOR FACE: M.D. Forte Facial Cleanser II
This facial exfoliator, safe for everyday use, is like nothing else when it comes to creating a smooth surface that not only makes applying self tanner a cake walk but applying makeup as well. A dermatologist recommended it to me a while back, and I’ve never found anything better.
PS. Skinstore is having a 20-percent-off sale with the code SPR20.
Posted by Natalie Kaar / Monday, March 26th, 2012
Hello there, shoppers!
A bit tired after all of the “Mad Men” madness last night? Make it a manic Monday with major deals at all sorts of dynamite, Draper-like stores. (Loved Mrs. Draper’s polka dots last night, was missing the former Mrs. D., but it looks like Bets will be back big time next week.)
For starters, today brings Mid-Day Dash deals from Neimans.
Banana Republic, home to the exclusive “Mad Men” collection, is offering 25 percent off any online purchase today, or 30 percent off on purchases of $100 or more (same goes for other Gap brand stores by the way), with the code SPRINGSAVE.
This week at Saks, shop Contemporary, Salon Z, Wear Now and select Evening apparel and receive gifts with purchase using code CONTEMP2: $100 gift card with a $500 purchase, $250 gift card with a $1,000 purchase, $350 GC with a $3,000 purchase.
And it’s Spend More, Save More time at Calvin Klein. Today is the last day to save 40 percent on purchases of $300 or more, 30 percent on $200 or more, 25 percent on $100 and up purchases.
PS. Stay tuned for our first of SWAG’s many Spring Break Guide posts today. We’ll be filling you in on all sorts of Spring Break fun finds each weekday today through April 6.
Posted by Hilary Adleberg / Friday, March 23rd, 2012
Searching for the perfect gift for a friend? No need to stress, wantful.com will do the thinking, shopping and wrapping for you. This innovative site takes all the hassle out of gift shopping and leaves all the joy of gift giving. Your friend is sure to adore the gift you end up giving because wantful.com involves them in the final step of the decision-making process. Whether you’re planning ahead or strapped for time, wantful.com is the place to go to find the perfect present in just four simple steps.
The first step in creating a gift is to pick the occasion—wedding, thank you, birthday, host/hostess, etc. Then fill out the recipient’s name, gender and relation to you—father, niece, sister, aunt, etc. Wantful will then guide you through an optional questionnaire. The nine survey questions are offered so the site can better understand the subject to more accurately gear the gift selection toward their interests. At any point in the survey, click ‘choose gifts’ to move on to the gift selection process.
When you are directed to the product pages you can adjust the price range if necessary. Prices can range anywhere from under $30 to above $500. Then you are directed to select 16 products that you think your friend will love. You are also given the option to allow Wantful to choose for you. Once all 16 slots have been filled, the next step is to customize the brochure from which your friend will select his or her gift.
The unique thing about Wantful.com is that the site tastefully invites the recipient to pick out their own gift. The 16 product descriptions are compiled into a booklet and delivered to your friend either by mail, Facebook, email or through you. By this step, if you have not already become a member of the site you will be asked to do so to complete your purchase. For around $5, the booklet is gift wrapped and delivered to the recipient for them choose their favorite item out of the 16 options.
After the recipient chooses his or her gift and notifies Wantful.com of the selection, the site delivers the gift and bills you. With this system you are assured you are giving the right present. It even adds a little more excitement to the gift-giving process! Happy campers all around.
Posted by Natalie Kaar / Friday, March 23rd, 2012
Hello there, shoppers!
In addition to these blissful temps, the shopping world is practically exploding with great news. Oh, happy Friday!
The sugar-free — and sugar-filled — shopping sweets SWAG’s really eating up today:
Kiehl’s, brimming with must-have skin care, has set up shop in Tysons Corner Center, level 2. A grand opening celebration is planned for April 24 from 5-8 p.m., benefiting Newsbabes, a breast cancer charity founded by local anchorwomen.
Crystal Boutique in Arlington has begun offering a new loyalty program, CB-Points. Customers will earn one (1) point for each dollar spent on regular price merchandise and two (2) points for each dollar spent at one of the store’s trunk shows. The next trunk show will be Lafayette 148, May 3-19. For every 2,000 CB-Points accumulated a $25 shopping reward is available.
Crocs, loved by many for the comfort they provide, loathed by many others for what they consider to be disastrous designs, are now available in all sorts of styles, like maxi-ready wedges and boat-ready loafers, you wouldn’t believe were Crocs just by looking at them. Yet they feature the same innards as the original clogs.
And this weekend Tysons Galleria is hosting Let Them Eat Cake, featuring six of the culinary world’s all stars — including “Top Chef” finalist and co-host of ABC’s “The Chew” Carla Hall of Alchemy by Carla Hall; renowned White House Pastry Chef Roland Mesnier and RAMMY’s Pastry Chef of the Year 2009 Kate Jensen, co-founder of Willow – as judges of a wedding cake competition among the area’s top pastry chefs. Orchestrated by Les Dames d’Escoffier International Washington, D.C. Chapter, the two-day event will raise funds for Les Dames scholarship, grants and education programs.
Perhaps the biggest highlight of the competition, at least in a fashionista’s eyes … At 10 a.m. on Saturday in Tysons Galleria Center Court, chef contestants Marilyn Mueller of terracocoa, Padua Player of Susan Gage Caterers, Leslie Poyourow of Fancy Cakes by Leslie and Laurie Alleman Weber of The Swiss Bakery will begin decorating their cakes in line with new Spring Fashion trends. Judging will begin at 5 p.m. The event is open to the public, so join the fun at Tysons Galleria Center Court and get inspired, cast your ballot for the Popular Vote competition, enter the raffle for some very sweet prize packages, and sample cakes and Starbucks coffee at the CakeWalk Café.
Posted by Natalie Kaar / Thursday, March 22nd, 2012
Hello there, shoppers!
With all that spring cleaning you’ve been doing, isn’t it about time for a reward? It seems at least one area store is thinking along those lines.
Vienna’s Valerianne is hosting its first-ever Color Sale March 24-April 1. What this means: You can save up to 40 percent off on all in-stock items for atop the bed (duvet covers, pillows, coverlets, shams) and save up to 20 percent on special-order bedtop beauties.
To take advantage of the exclusive sale, all you have to do is “like” Valerianne on Facebook.
It looks like we’re all in for some sweet dreams.
Posted by Natalie Kaar / Thursday, March 22nd, 2012
Hello there, shoppers! Get ready to read some news that sounds too good to be true, but rest assured this is not an early April Fools prank.
A new store in Clarendon, cleverly named The Jeans Whisperer (3101 Wilson Blvd.), sells designer denim from must-have brands like J Brand, 7 for All Mankind, Joe’s, Paige, William Rast and more for $59-$99! Yes, you read that right.
The store also sells dresses and tops in sizes small to extra large from indie New York and L.A. designers plus locally made jewelry, travel bags and shoes with interchangeable tops from Onesole.
So how did this all come about? Following 18 years as a commercial leasing agent, Jan Forman of Great Falls began taking advantage of a great family connection in New York’s garment district seven years ago and started doing trunk shows and fundraising events at college campuses and vendor shows around the country. Not only was Forman, earning the nickname “the jeans whisperer,” able to offer discounted premium brand jeans, but she found she had a knack for fitting women and putting them in the right pair of jeans.
Building on her success, she added other clothing and accessories to complement the jeans and enjoyed a great deal of success selling those as well. Having eventually tired of traveling, however, Forman decided to open a shop and let her customers come to her, and also make all of her lines available on the store’s website.
There are no words, except Hallelujah! And thank you.
Posted by Natalie Kaar / Wednesday, March 21st, 2012
Hello there, shoppers!
Like it or loathe it, it’s almost swimsuit season, especially if you’re gearing up for spring break. Fortunately, bargains on suits already abound.
South Moon Under is offering 20 percent off all swimwear through April 9 online with the code SWIM20. Plus, “like” the store on Facebook, and enter to win a Nanette Lepore bikini; use the code SPRING20 online to save 20 percent on purchases worth $150 or more; and try any swimsuit on in store to be entered to win a free one!
Victoria’s Secret is offering up to 40 percent off on 125 different swimsuit styles.
Everything But Water also has over 100 styles on sale.
Neiman Marcus has more than a handful of adorable kids’ swimsuits discounted 25 percent.
And Gap is offering 20 percent off purchases throughout the day online with the code GAPEVENT.