Sunday, December 30, 2012

A surprising avocado bargain

Recently I joined some online market research panels, mainly for the lure of winning cash prizes, but also because I enjoy doing surveys. Yesterday I did a very extensive survey comparing various supermarkets, and let me tell you, Junk Mail Bargains has equipped me brilliantly for comparing them.

In general I think IGA and Foodworks are the dirt supermarkets – the ones you only go to in country towns on holiday, or if you are unfortunate enough to live in North Melbourne. I get these catalogues but their specials are never very good, and they have the worst own brands. (Black & Gold should be renamed Poverty & Depression.)

However, at the moment Foodworks has avocados for $1.68 each. Currently they are $2.98  each at Woolworths and Coles.

Really nice leather couches

Now, usually I only get depressing bogan furniture store catalogues that make me feel sad, but I was pretty impressed by the Bay Leather Republic catalogue. Not that I could ever get a leather couch: a) I can't afford one; b) Graham would scratch it up in no time. But I quite liked the look of the Apartment three-seater in black, which is currently $999, save $500 (other colours are a bit more expensive).

Also, the Copenhagen three-seater for $2399, save $300.

Award-winning baby wipes

Would you like to wipe your baby with the baby wipes that won the silver medal for Baby Wipes of the Year in this year's Australian Mother and Baby Magazine Awards? Well at Aldi you can – and they're only $2.49 for a pack of 80 – that's 3c per wipe.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Keep your insides healthy

Aldi has Bee Vital Manuka honey for $7.99, which is Active 5+. I looked into WTF that means, and apparently all honey contains the glucose oxidase enzyme, which produces hydrogen peroxide, giving the honey mild antibacterial properties; however Manuka honey has an additional antibacterial component which is not due to hydrogen peroxide and can fight more resistant bacteria. This is known as 'active' honey and if it's been lab-tested against a regular antibiotic it gets a UMF rating. Ratings of 0-4 are negligible; 5-9 is 'maintenance', 10-14 is suitable for therapeutic use and 15+ is the most medicinal. So there you go.

Years ago my friends Renée and Gemma gave me an Eziyo yoghurt maker for my birthday. To my annoyance I have misplaced it somewhere – it might be in a box or something – but currently at Aldi you can get a yoghurt maker for $14.99, and the yoghurt mix sachets for $2.49, which is cheaper than Eziyo.

Googly-eye crafts

How about some googly-eye crafts? Officeworks has a pack of 160 googly eyes of varying sizes, some red and blue as well as black, for $3.17. Here are some things you can do with googly eyes:

Invest in cast-iron cookware

Aldi has a six-piece cast-iron cook set for $69.99. It includes a 9-quart camp oven with a wire handle, 3-quart saucepan and wire base, 12-inch skillet, 2-burner BBQ hotplate, 43cm lid-lifting stick and a wooden chest to keep it all in. Holy shit it is heavy.

It's designed for use in open fires while camping, but honestly I love cast-iron cookware and find it very hard to buy cheaply. I get so much use out of my skillet, which Sandor gifted me as a cherished heirloom from Donald Street. It's the same pan in which my housemate Matt used to make his patented meal, 'skillet'.

If you'd like to know how to rejuvenate old, rusted cast-iron cookware, here's a good step-by-step guide.

Friday, December 28, 2012

The globe's your oyster

Officeworks also has 20cm world globes on a classic pedestal stand for $9.91. They come in the classic blue as well as black and white, and the countries are highlighted in different colours. I'd like one just for decorating. I've seen some Pinterest stuff in which people make quite striking mobiles out of old globes.

If you want to be a dickhead whose obnoxiously over-styled home is featured on Fuck Your Noguchi Coffee Table, you could also make a massed display of globes in your house.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Kit yourself out for summer home entertaining

Aldi has cheese knives for $2.99, and a glass multi-function cake stand for $19.99 that has a pedestal and a domed lid. When you tip the pedestal base upside down you can use it as a chip'n'dip; the upside-down lid holds desserts such as trifles; or you can display and store cakes.

And for more entertaining, Aldi has rigid wire domed food covers for $4.99, citronella candles in tin buckets for $4.99, and packs of three jaunty striped tea towels for $4.99.

I am in the midst of a Summer of Champas, and so I was interested to learn that from 29 December Aldi is also selling bottles of Grandin Méthode Traditionelle, which is one of the better French cheapies, for $12.99. You can get it right now at Dan Murphy's for $13.60.

Another Dan Murphy's bargain I can recommend is the Saint-Hilaire Blanquette de Limoux Brut, which I (shamefully) bought because the label superficially resembles that of Veuve Clicquot. It's $13.99.

And just finally, you can't beat Aldi's price on blueberries$1.99 for a 125g punnet, which works out to $15.92 per kilo. By contrast, Coles has them for $3.40, or $27.20 per kilo.

Everyone loves a laminator

Maybe you are not lucky enough to be related to a primary school teacher, and you wish you could get documents laminated at the drop of a hat. Well at Big Dubs you can! An A4 laminator is just $15.

Officeworks is running a Back to School promotion already (a depressing thought for parents and teachers). The Big Dubs laminator is still your best bet for laminators, but Officeworks has one for $15.94, which is also what you'll pay for 100 laminating pouches for said laminator.

Monday, December 24, 2012

A good night's sleep

Big Dubs' post-Christmas sale includes 30% off pillows, doonas, mattress protectors, etc, and 40% off the Tontine Good Night range. I am in the market for a new pillow so I will be looking into this. And just so that your pet is not left out, there will also be $15 memory foam pet beds.

Meanwhile, Aldi has either a European (square) pillow or 2 regular pillows for $9.99, and 225 thread-count percale sheets in a range of jaunty colours for $24.99 QB and $29.99 KB.

Cost-effective hydration

Would you like to take up boxing in the New Year? Big Dubs offers a low-stakes entry with $10 Everlast boxing gloves. And to stay hydrated, how about a Sodastream machine for $55 (save $9.88)? They reckon the gas cylinder is good for 60L. When my housemate Paul had one of these, it was a golden era. I drank so much bubbly water.

In other water bargains, Aldi has Brita water filter jugs for $19.99. Holds 1.4L filtered water. I got one of these when Is Not Magazine had the Vesta House office and the water came out of the tap a weird brown colour. It was astonishing how it made the water normal.

NYE disposable revelry totems

New Year's Eve is coming up, and both Coles and Woolworths have your disposable revelry totems covered. They work out to the same price but the pack sizes are different. So at Coles you can get 16 sparklers for $1 ($1.49 for 24 sparklers at Woolies); party poppers are $2.39 for 20 at Coles, and $3 for 25 at Woolies (but $1.88 for 20 at Big Dubs so I'd go there); and "party glow bracelets" are $4 for 10 at Coles and Woolies alike.

Coles also has glow sticks for $2 each, which Woolies is clearly refusing to match. Come on. It is not the 1990s any more. However Big Dubs wants $2.97 for 20 of those satisfyingly old-fashioned 'blowouts', which are those things that inflate and unfurl with a sad toot when you blow into them.

Treat yourself at Christmas

An excellent bargain may be had at Coles: a 25L Willow esky for $20 – half price! To put that in perspective, Big Dubs has a 27L Esky brand esky for $48.

A beauty bargain at Coles: Pantene shampoo and conditioner in giant 750ml bottles for $7.50 – that's half price!

Also, I know I go on about BB creams, but the Rimmel BB cream is currently $10 at Woolworths, which is a $3 discount. I've tried this on, and it offers the best coverage of the non-Asian brands I've tried; the others are basically just tinted moisturisers. I also like that it's SPF 25 which is quite high for a cosmetic sunscreen.

Last-minute Christmas gifts under $30

If you are still looking for some last-minute gifts (especially for a not-very-close relative), Woolworths has some half-price beauty gift packs for $5! I quite like the look of the Floral Collection, which is some rose-scented hand and body wash, and matching lotion, with a pink rose-shaped object that might be a soap. (Actually, I investigated instore and it turns out it is a loofah thing for applying body wash in the shower.)

There's also a collection of eight mini nail polishes in a good range of colours, also for $5.

Kmart has women's summer pyjama sets for a ridiculous $5. The top is like a short-sleeved collared shirt, and the pants are 3/4 length. They come in powder blue with white spots, pink with white spots, or white with pink and blue butterflies. And they're sized from 8-10 to 20-22.

And if there's someone you know who takes long showers, you could give them the Bush Shower Radio from Big Dubs – $28. Presumably it's waterproof.

Kmart has some really nifty-looking kitchenware gifts for just $12. Choose from a stainless-steel pasta machine, a spice rack consisting of a sort of carousel with spots to put little round glass jars, a pizza stone with matching guillotine cutter, and a mortar and pestle. I'd go the mortar and pestle.

And if someone you know likes tea but says loose-leaf tea is too much of a drama, Kmart also has little 500ml ceramic teapots in red, white or black, with built-in infusers, for $5. I don't want to be one of those dipsticks in the ads roaming around the store marvelling at the low, low prices, but honestly I was astounded today to see quite nice, plain glass vases at Kmart for $2. I really worry about the conditions of satanic cruelty under which these products must be manufactured.

Did you know that you can buy Bunnings gift cards at Coles? This might be handy if, like me, you have a Coles within walking distance but no Bunningses for miles. Nasty Bunningses!

You probably don't want to buy these, but did you know there are board game versions of The Big Bang Theory and Modern Family? These are $28 from Big Dubs.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Celebratory foods and drinks for intolerances

Here's my Food And Drink Intolerances Corner! If you know someone who can't or won't eat gluten, Ajitas Vege Chips are on special at Coles for $2.15.

And if you are in the market for non-alcoholic wines during the festive season, Woolworths has Fronti red and white varieties on special for $3.89. Appletiser sparkling apple juice is 2 for $5 – a saving of $1.84. And Aldi has Ariel dealcoholised wine in 'rouge' and 'blanc' for $9.99. They also have Paulaner Alcohol Free Beer for $1.79 per 500ml bottle.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Catalogue browsing, Storified

Tonight when I got home, there was a thrilling sheaf of junk mail in my letterbox. Rather than go through it specifically looking for bargains, I decided just to tweet the interesting things that occurred to me while reading the catalogues, which were for Ishka, Kmart, Woolworths, Coles and Big W.

Read my ridiculous thoughts over at Storify.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Manchester… and more!

An outfit called Manchester and More, whose stores are all in outer-suburban bogan hotspots, has these incredibly tasteless doona covers for a mere $34.99 for QB and $39.99 for KB. Imagine the mighty feline power that will be unleashed in one of these beds:

They also have some more tasteful plain quilt cover sets in royal purple, crimson, white, beige, lavender and black for $35.99 DB, $40.50 QB and $49.50 KB.

They also have faux suede cushion covers featuring various kitschy animals: a leopard; a pair of running horses; a tabby kitten miaowing; a lion; a tiger; and wolf. They are $2.99 each, which I think you'll agree is a bargain for the epic effect these would have on your couch or bed.

For some time I have toyed with the idea of making my own puffy '50s organza petticoat out of one of those awful/amazing organza tab top curtains you see around. Well now I can; for only $7.99 a pair they have them in grey, lipstick pink, white, apple green, sky blue and purple.

And fulfilling all my trashy manchester fantasies, they have satin sheet sets in white, lilac, burgundy, beige, lipstick pink, red and gunmetal grey for $19.99 DB, $24.99 QB and $29.99 KB.

November groceries

Food-wise, avocados are 2 for $4 at Woolworths and for those of you like me who are basically working around the clock, you can get eight 250ml cans of V for $10 from both Coles and Woolies. I lived on that stuff when I was finishing my MA.

Nutella is $6 for 750g at Coles, save $1.59. Also, Quorn 'Versatile Mince' is now at Coles for $5.50, save $1.40. Quorn sells fake meat for vegetarians and apparently their products are exclusive to Coles. The mince looks pretty meaty. No idea what it tastes like.

Tresemmé shampoo and conditioner is currently half price at Coles – $4.99. I use this brand and I like that it comes in giant bottles that last for ages.

And Mainland Buttersoft is on special for $4.50 at Woolies – save $1.19. I have recently got into this because apart from Lurpak, the El Expensivo brand, Buttersoft is the only spreadable butter that isn't adulterated with vegetable oil. (I checked all the other brands in the supermarket.) Plus it comes in a larger sized container than Lurpak. There is some bullshit scare campaign on TV at the moment saying margarine has less fat than butter, but if you knew how margarine was made you would never eat it. (In the interests of ABC-style 'balance' here's the margarine industry's rebuttal.)

Music festival essentials

At Ray's Outdoors they are selling 26L plastic party drinks tubs for 2 for $10 – convenient for spring/summer/seasonal parties.

They also have 30% off gumboots – snap some up ahead of Meredith for $23.99. Patterns include bright red, grey paisley, grey and pink argyle, brown leopard, purple pink and blue circles and blue tartan.

And 1.8m beach umbrellas in jaunty stripes are just $6.95. I wonder if you could also use them on your outdoor table or balcony.

Clothing bargains at Big Dubs

Big Dubs has a women's V-neck, 3/4 sleeve cardigan for $9.94. I'm not sure the colour range or the fabric but it looks quite light and summery. Since I currently own 20 cardigans I will be resisting this.

Similarly, there are some nice-looking men's striped V-neck T-shirts for $7.92 that sorely tempt me but I currently own 10 striped T-shirts.

This Saturday, 10 November, Big Dubs is having a one-day sale that offers some tempting bargains. There is a polka-dot knee-length, scoop-neck ladies summer dress for $5 that looks seriously jaunty.

The Big Dubs sale also has hipster plimsolls for the whole family at just $4. They come in a rainbow of block colours: lime green; sky blue; pink; purple; orange, grey, black, navy, royal blue and hot pink.

Christmas begins in November at Big Dubs

Even though it's still early November, the Christmas shopping assault has begun! Here are a few bargains I have observed:

If there is a baby or small child in your life that you'd like to dress up in a humiliating Christmas-themed outfit, there are entire Santa and elf outfits at Big W for $9.84, candy-striped baby rompers for $4, and also for $4, kids' T-shirts with Santas and reindeer saying things like "Ho Ho Ho Merry Christmas" and "I Heart Christmas". There is also a men's T-shirt in the style of Keep Calm and Carry On that I would definitely wear.

And if you're looking for a small Christmas tree to add a seasonal token presence to your house – perhaps one you can put on a high shelf where your wicked cat cannot get it – then Big Dubs has a 30cm tinsel tree in purple, gold, blue and pink for $3, and a 60cm tinsel tree in silver, gold and purple for $6.

If you somehow missed out on reading the JK Rowling Harry Potter novels, Big Dubs is selling the entire series as a box set for $75. That works out at around $10.71 per book.

They also have their own-brand kitchen appliances – mini food processor, juicer or stick mixer – for $12. They come in midcentury-ish citruses and blues, or white.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Mother's Day

Junk Mail Bargains, vol. 1. As regular readers of this blog would know, I love reading the junk mail. From time to time I like to tip off people I know about the interesting products on sale at major retailers, and today I thought, "Maybe I should do this in a more organised way."

But if you know me, you know that an irregular blog post on the subject is as about as organised as I am prepared to be.

Anyway – Mother's Day is coming up soon, which is great because it is a rich source of Freelance Work Clothes, or as other people might call them, 'sleepwear'. Here are some other interesting bargains this week:

A while ago I realised Garnier has a BB cream. This stands for "blemish balm" and is some next-level tinted moisturiser that also contains a primer and sunscreen. I associated BB creams with insane Korean makeup – my book club buddy Helen gave me a sample of a brand she uses and it made me look as if someone had run an airbrush over my nasty pink skin, which as you know is a great source of angst to me.

Anyway, if you would like to try this kind of moisturiser for a low-stakes price, Garnier's Miracle Skin Perfector is currently on special at Coles for $9 and at Kmart for slightly less, $8.50. Woolworths also has it on special with 30% off, but that only works out to $9.76 so Kmart wins.

Also at Coles (BUT IMPORTANTLY: NOT ALL COLESES) you can get two pairs of women's leggings for $8. That's cheaper than tights, and as Ned Stark liked to say, winter is coming. They come in full length, lace trim or 3/4 length, but importantly you can only get them at the deep-suburban barn-like stores. They are not available at the following stores that you may actually visit: Melbourne Central, Spencer Street, Fitzroy, Richmond, Port Melbourne, St Kilda. However they might be at Barkly Square, South Melbourne or Prahran.

Julian Fellowes' Titanic miniseries, just screened in the UK and US to mediocre reviews and nicknamed Drownton Abbey, will be available from next Monday at Kmart for $29.95. This may only interest me, as I am still in the grip of Titanic Re-Obsession 2012.

Women's freelance work pants (aka pyjama pants) are at Big W for $3, an even better price than $5, which is how much I paid for two pairs back in March. They probably only have them in boring colours such as grey and black now, but they are great pants and I wear them every day.

There are also women's "sleep sweaters" at Big W for $9.94, which would be a nice long-sleeved work top for winter, and men's or ladies' fleece-lined boots at $7.48, which I highly endorse as I bought some this time last year and wear them all the time. My pro tip: if they get a bit stinky you can put a tablespoon of baking soda in there, rub it in, leave for a while and then shake or even vacuum out. These are not actual sheepskin slippers, but Big Dubs also sells real leather ones for $25 – a saving of $9.96.

Big W has men's flannies for $7 but hold off, because they are actually cheaper at Ray's Outdoors, where they are $5.99.

Myer has a decent Revlon gift-with-purchase if you spend $40 – which is easy to do on a foundation or something. The 'Sweet Look' option is my favourite: you get a black eyeliner pencil, a four-colour eyeshadow palette (mid-brown, chocolate, beige and pink), a mascara, a lipstick in a berry-pink colour and a candy-pink nail polish, all in a beige zip-up makeup bag. With the 'Intense Look' option the bag, eyeshadow and nail polish are purple and there's a lip-liner and lip gloss instead of the lipstick and eyeliner.

There's also a nice range of teacups at Myer – with 25% off Maxwell and Williams their 'Kimono' teapot is now $29.95 and a cup, saucer and plate trio is $18.65. There's also an introductory offer on Royal Albert where the 'Country Roses' trio is $34.95 (it'll be $49.95 after the offer ends).

And there are some seriously jaunty retro-inspired Kenwood kitchen appliances that come in agreeably bright colours including yellow, orange, magenta, aqua and green, and have rounded deco lines.

At Dick Smith you can get a Belkin jogging armband for your iPod or iPhone (useful if you like to listen to music or are doing Couch to 5K) for $19.95, which includes a bonus set of sports hook earphones designed not to fall out.

A turntable and radio with a built-in speaker is half price at Dick Smith – $34. This probably won't satisfy audiophiles but is great for the casual vinyl listener. Probably cheaper than most records.

Also, if you are paranoid about security at your home and would like to deter burglars, at Dick Smith you can get a fake dome-mounted security camera for $19.95 (save $5!) It has a realistic look and a flashing red LED light.

At Autobarn, you can buy – and I wish I were joking – eyelashes for your car's headlights to make it look like a GIRL CAR. Allegedly they are "the latest craze in car fashion" and cost $19.99. "Also available: car eyeliner." Why do I feminism?