Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Great Coats Under $100

Adrian wrote: "Any good coats for $100? I was thinking about getting her that."

The answer is an enthusiastic yes! And by the way, what a great gift idea. The perfect coat is a treasure all season, and now is the best time to buy them. They've been on the shelves for a while, so you'll start to see some great sales if you know where to look. If you'll remember I recently attempted to buy a trenchcoat to go away to London with, and found nothing but dismay at H&M. Much to my elatement I found a similar coat at my old favorite, Old Navy! Not only did I find a good fit, but it was also cheaper. And now you can get that coat marked down from its original bargain price of $78 to a remarkable $59.50. That's such a good price that if you were looking to spend around $100 on her you could even get her a matching scarf and glove combo and still have money leftover to get a pretzel in the food court. The ON is a great place for low-priced coats, and they have lots of styles and colors to choose from.

A good option for low-priced coats is Burlington Coat Factory, which has been a staple of mine for a while. The best part about BCF is that you can get name brand coats there, and no one needs to know you got it for a steal (although it's nice to be able to brag). I once got a Columbia coat there for around $80, which as far as I know is unheard of anywhere else. Those are not crappy coats. In any regard, if you have a glam girl to buy for, you can get her this Baby Phat faux-fur-lined jacket for a mere $55. That's a great deal when you consider it retails for around $150. I don't know how they do it. I just hope I don't find out later I'm buying someone else's used coats. For now I have no knowledge of that kind of trickery, so I'm going to continue to look for coats there when winter comes along.

There are plenty of other places where you can buy a good coat for less than $100. You might want to check the mall for stores that sell coats. As I said, the sales on outerwear are going on now, so you're definitely bound to get a nice coat for your girlfriend for a great price.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Surviving the Holiday Parties

This is the perfect season to gain weight. There are so many decadent treats out there, it's hard to say no to one more cookie, or a small second helping of lasagna (that's my vice, anyway). If there was just one party to attend we might have a fighting chance, but there are tons of parties to go to, each one a gastronomic sin in the making. Lucky for us it's already the middle of December, and it's almost over, but there are little things we can do to make sure that we don't overdose on mom's fruitcake and end up beaching ourselves in front of the television. By the way, not all fruitcake is gross - my mother's is perfect.

The primary problem with the holiday season is all the food. Before you go to a party, have a snack. Heck, have a huge salad if it will stop you from eating the fatty appetizers. It's better to eat less and risk being thought rude than eating it all and regretting it later. Also, find the vegetable tray and park yourself in front of it - but don't load up on the dip! Have a little, but try to remember that the carrot is not simply a vessel for the ranch dressing. My best advice to you, especially when you're not sure exactly what might be in that safe-looking and yet terribly-fattening snack, is to make something to bring with you that you know is within your diet's parameters. That way you've brought something to share with everyone else, but you have a safe food that you know you can eat. This is a fantastic recipe - tastes great but won't go directly to your thighs. That said, I'd also like to advocate for a little fun, too. Go ahead and have a stuffed mushroom - just don't have ten of them. That's where the holidays get really fattening.

The other side of the holiday girth problem is that it's winter now the snow is falling in many places, and you're getting less exercise than you used to. The weather isn't always great for a nice walk to your favorite store, snow days keep you in the house and people tend to get more sedentary. Why not take advantage of all those delightful cold-weather activities that will get your heart rate up a little and help to burn off your Aunt Martha's potato latkes? Ice skating is great - you pay so much attention to not yard sale-ing yourself on the ice that you don't even realize the workout you're getting. You wake up the next morning and your thighs are sore - success! A note: if you ice skate in a circle, and continue to go in the same direction the entire time, you'll only work one leg. Switch if you can, or you might risk little-leg-big-leg syndrome. Downhill skiing is a fun way to get a little exercise. You could even go sledding with your younger relative, because while the downward slide is not calorie-burning, walking back up the hill certainly is. Even better, and probably easily accesible, is to shovel the snow for people, perhaps an elderly neighbor. That is a real workout, only requires one very cheap piece of equipment, and is a nice thing to do for the little old lady next door. With a little thought it's easy to come up with ways to keep active in the colder months. Just don't overdo it on the hot cocoa when you come back inside!