Category Archives: Guest Blogger Extraordinaire

Black Friday Shopping Tips and Apps From J’s Everyday Fashion

It’s the day before Thanksgiving and I am already looking past tomorrow’s Turkey Day and onwards to the infamous Black Friday–the biggest shopping day of the retail year!  Black Friday can be tempting and terrifying all at the same time… the deals, the crowds, the parking, the savings, the credit card bills…yikes!  But rest assured our favorite fashionista blogger J from J’s Everyday Fashion has helped make this year’s Black Friday a bit easier.  So, without further ado, here are her suggestions, originally posted on November 17 …and thanks, J, for letting us re-post it!

5 Things to Know about Black Friday at the Florida Mall




Today I was invited to a blogging/technology lunch with some other bloggers and the marketing folks at the Florida Mall. We talked about the upcoming holiday events at the mall and enjoyed some tasty lunch from Buca de Beppo!

Here are 5 things you need to know about Black Friday at the Florida Mall:

1. Approximately 50 stores will be opening at midnight on Black Friday. Night owls rejoice!
2. They are expecting 100,000 guests. Pack a snack and be ready to shop, shop, shop.
3.  Lanvin hits H&M on November 20th. Check out this FabSugar feature to see pictures from the line.
4. There are a bunch of new stores at the mall to check out including Charming Charlie (affordable accessories), A’Gaci (a Forever 21 type), and Cotton On (an Australian brand that reminds me of American Eagle).
5. Finally, check out these apps to help with your Black Friday shopping: here’s no better way to maximize your Simon shopping experience than the free Simon Malls iPhone App. And there’s no better way to maximize your shopping experience when you get there than with the Simon Malls app.

Park’n Find: This will save you time finding your car in a crowded mall parking lot. Park’n Find uses GPS to remember where you parked so you can find it again later. The app can also remind you to put more money on the meter using push notifications. is a year-round bargain hunters application where forum members meet online to swap deals, coupons codes and savings strategies. But each year, as Black Friday rolls around they really get serious. Black Friday will keep users up to date on the latest BF ads and discounts. It pulls information from the online forums as new deals are posted.

Mall Maps Deluxe can help you navigate the crowded mall. Mall Maps has detailed floor plans for more than 1,000 shopping centers in all 50 states. You can even directions to the mall or search the phone directory of the mall’s retail stores.


The TGI Black Fridayapp is powered by and, this app is designed to help users prepare for the Black Friday. Find ads, deals and coupons from major retailers — sometimes before they are released to the public — then create a shopping list and compare prices. offers this application for tracking Black Friday Deals. Some people wait all year for them, while others seek out Black Friday-like deals every day. This application does both!

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Filed under Fashion, General Info, Guest Blogger Extraordinaire, New & Hot

Orlando Food & Wine Festival: Yum!

The third annual Orlando Food & Wine Fest is this weekend!

The mouth-watering third annual Orlando Food & Wine Festival will take place in downtown Orlando on Robinson Street along Lake Eola on Saturday, November 13 (from 1:00pm to 9:00pm) and Sunday the 14th (from 12:00pm to 7:00pm). Was that a mouthful or what?


It will feature Top Chef Season 7 contestant Kenny Gilbert in a live cooking demonstration, collegiate and professional sports games in the outdoor sports bar, entertainment by national recording artists WAR, Fourplay and Marc Antoine. Not Marc Anthony…. Marc Antonie (he’s an acoustic guitarist!)

Kenny Gilbert

It will be presented and produced by 103.1 WLOQ, the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association and will benefit the Children’s Home Society of Florida.


To savor the event, expect to pay between $2 and $6 for the sample sized offerings from 36 of Orlando’s Top restaurants and over 50 wines from all over the world! Don’t be drinking them all though now, save some for me. Tickets are $10 for one day or $15 for both Saturday and Sunday and you can buy them here.


If you’re curious as to who will be serving, here’s the list. This list includes Ruth, Mitchell, Dexter, Tommy, Charley, monkeys, an owl, a frog, and a lion, among others. It’s a jungle out there!


Oh! and the DaFoodie car will be there (right at the entrance) Don’t be shy… take a picture with it and upload it to the DaFoodie Facebook page for a chance to get it featured on our blog.

This post was written by guest blogger extraordinaire Gustavo Hernando, AKA Dafoodie, whose incredibly delectable site can be viewed at You can also follow him on Twitter.

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Filed under Fun, General Info, Guest Blogger Extraordinaire, Orlando

Leu Gardens and Ghost Stories…oh my!




Footsteps echoed across the concrete sidewalk.  Hundreds of creatures gathered for this nighttime annual event.
Eeerie music floated through the fogginess.  Picnic baskets were scattered amongst the blades of grass…


All of this is true.  But it was only a gathering of folks for the 18th Annual Ghosts in the Garden storytelling event at Leu Gardens this past Friday evening.

Lead storyteller Mitchell O’Rear of Project Imagination welcomed the audience that was scattered on the lawn of the main Leu Gardens building.  The sun was setting quickly over the lake.  You could spy the towers of Florida Hospital in the sun’s waning light. A chill wrapped its arms around each one of us as we listened to stories scary and humorous for an hour and a half.

There were seven storytellers in all.  Scattered across the lawn, listeners were sitting on blankets and fold-up camp chairs dining from picnic baskets or dining on food from a vendor tent.  As I sat in my camp chair almost shivering, I wondered if it was the chilly Florida air or the fine storytelling that made this evening memorable.

“An’ the Gobble-uns ‘at gits you
Ef you

(“LITTLE ORPHANT ANNIE” by James Whitcomb Riley)

This post was written by Guest Blogger Extraordinaire Stephen D. Nelson. Stephen is the Musical Director at Park Maitland School and has worked with the Orlando Repertory Theater since its days as the Civic Theatre of Central Florida, spending 13 years as music director.  He recently spent his 25th summer teaching creative dramatics there.  In 2003, Stephen was honored with the Distinguished Theatre Career Award, for his work with youth theatre.

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Filed under Fun, Guest Blogger Extraordinaire, Seasonal

Jack Johnson Jams “To the Sea”

Where do I start?  So, Jack Johnson came to the Amway Arena (not the new one, which is Amway Center) in Orlando to support his fifth studio release “To The Sea” and you didn’t have a ticket?  Well, I say, when a rainy, August, Central Florida day can be instantly transformed into a Hawaiian resort, you buy a ticket for that!

If I knew you well, I would even tell you that missing tonight’s show was “culturally irresponsible” and that you should rush off to either Tampa or West Palm Beach in the next couple nights and catch up with Jack.  If I had the means or the time, I would do both.

Upon entering the arena, we were greeted by All At Once staff members with our Village Green Passport encouraging us to take environmental action, meet local non-profit partners, and learn how Jack and his crew are minimizing the environmental impact of the tour  I met the people from the Simple Living Institute from right here in Central Florida.

Before we could see Jack there were some opening acts. ALO and G. Love were exceptional. ALO includes one of Jack’s musicians in Zach Gill. They played about eight songs including my favorite “Girl, I Wanna Lay You Down.”  Zach nearly jumped into the crowd during a cover of “Eye of the Tiger” inserted into the middle of another their songs.  While G. Love sits in a chair with a single spotlight, guitar and harmonica and lives up to his billing: “The Foot Stompin’ Street Side Blues of G. Love”. G. Love provided another 35 minutes of very entertaining and diverse music for a one man band. He has the humor, soul and guitar licks of John Mayer and adds in moments drawn from varying genres of music. I will be buying the music of both opening acts very soon and would recommend that you do the same.

Well, this was my first time seeing Jack. I have long wanted to see him live. We had built it up for years that we were not seeing another concert until we saw Jack.  We own almost all of his music and a surf film or two.  Jack did not disappoint!

Two hours straight through and almost thirty songs.  He played new stuff.  He played old stuff  He covered other artists and shared the spotlight with so many musicians.  The stage fluxuated from Jack alone to nearly a dozen performers playing together.  Truthfully, we were blown away at the ease with which Jack related to the crowd with many conversational give and takes from reading signs and taking requests to talking to a young kid in the front row and supplying him with protective headphones.  He even dedicated songs to certain people that he would spot in the crowd like when he started “Upside Down” he said for that kid sitting on his dad’s shoulders and gestured to them.

I had often wondered how such a mellow act would come off live in concert.  Let me tell you that it was powerful and moving!  I was emotional and blown away by how simple it was for the show to overwhelm the audience.  The stage is nearly barren.  There are no fancy sets, just musicians, instruments and a big screen backdrop.  As Jack says near the end of the show between “Do You Remember” and “Angel” both clearly written to his wife “these are songs to you, but to me they are gifts.”  After seeing Jack Johnson live tonight, his music transformed for me from songs to gifts.  Thanks, Jack!

Unofficial Set List
  • You and Your Heart
  • If I Had Eyes
  • Taylor
  • Sitting, Waiting, Wishing
  • To The Sea
  • Upside Down
  • Go On
  • Red Wine, Mistakes, Mythology
  • Bubble Toes
  • From The Clouds
  • Wasting Time
  • Breakdown
  • Banana Pancakes
  • Mudfootball
  • Turn Your Love
  • Country Road (with Paula Fuga)
  • [unknown] (with Paula Fuga)
  • Flake
  • The Joker
  • Good People
  • Inaudible Melodies
  • Staple It Together (bassist Merlo Polewski sets down the bass and channels all three Beastie Boys in a verse)
  • At or With Me
  • Encore:
  • Do You Remember
  • Angel
  • A Pirate Looks at Forty
  • Better Together (with Paula Fuga, G. Love and ALO)
I do not know what the attendance was tonight, but the arena had to be near capacity.  If you were not one of them, promise yourself that you will catch Jack at the very next chance you get.  Keep an eye out for G. Love and Zach Gill as I expect them to be household names very soon.
And as an FYI for those of you into the green scene, “To The Sea” was recorded at Johnson’s two solar-powered studios: The Mango Tree in Hawaii and the Solar Powered Plastic Plant in Los Angeles.
This review was written by Guest Blogger Extraordinaire Mike Kennedy, Central Florida resident, dad, blogger, and avid swim and beach fan. His blog can be seen at The Mike Kennedy and he can be followed on twitter at @themikekennedy.

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Filed under Amway Arena, Celebrity, concert, Fun, Guest Blogger Extraordinaire, Music

The Star Wars Celebration V (The “Big Bad Rebel”Version)

Julie Deily did such an awesome write-up on the “Top 5 Things to See at Star Wars Celebration V,” I had no idea what to share in my guest post about the event.

But then it dawned on me: Growing up, I was always a little rebel so why not do a post of some of the “big, bad rebellious” things you can do at the convention? Growing up, my rebellion was very innocent by the way. It fell more along the lines of refusing to wear dresses, rejecting the color pink in favor of the color blue and ditching Barbie for Han Solo – that kind of rebellion.

So when I heard Star Wars Celebration V was coming to Orlando, of course I had to go. It was an easy decision, really. Like my childhood days, I had no problem going against the grain and choosing Star Wars over, say, a weekend of shopping or a mani/pedicure. And also like my early years growing up, I found myself once again playing with the boys as none of my girlfriends showed any interest in attending. So with my own entourage of five fabulous guy friends (including fellow Orlando blogger Mr. Tasty Chomps), I set out to relive my Star Wars memories, allowing the rebel/nerd in me to shine through.

In no particular order, here is the “rebel version” of the Top 5 Things to Do at Star Wars Celebration V:

5. Get a tattoo. I’m not talking about one of those wussy temporary tattoos. I mean the real needle and ink kind. One hard-core fan sharing a table with us showed off his new piece of art over lunch on Saturday. He wasn’t alone as quite a few fans donned some pretty elaborate pieces of Star Wars ink on their bodies. To get one of your own, all you had to do was follow the buzzing noise to a secluded area partitioned by large black draping and no, for the record, I did not go under the needle.

4. Become an action figure. What better way to stoke the ego than to pose as a real life Star Wars action figure, complete with childproof packaging? This great exhibit allowed fans to step into a gigantic plastic box which was offset by a huge background replicating action figure packaging. The key to pulling it off well? Not smiling because it makes you look “badder” – something that is harder to do than you might think!

Action Figure Jodi

3. Pose as one of Jabba the Hutt’s slaves. Perhaps one of the most disgusting but memorable characters of the trilogy is Jabba the Hutt who made his debut in The Return of the Jedi. The huge glob, which was described by film critic Roger Ebert as being a cross between a toad and the Cheshire Cat, was juxtaposed next to Princess Leia, who (in that particular scene of the movie), was enslaved by the grotesque creature and forced to don chains – and not much of anything else. Thanks to Star Wars Celebration V, willing fans could also be one of Jabba’s slaves (albeit fully clothed, thank God)! Those with a sense of humor could cozy up to a life-size version of the monster or pose with one of the “slave Leia” look-alikes. (According to one of my guy friends, one of the slave girls was on a season of America’s Next Top Model.)

Jabba and "slave Jodi"

2. Push Darth Vader’s buttons. Unfortunately my photo didn’t turn out well so you will have to take me for my word when I tell you I literally got to push Darth Vader’s buttons while at the convention. D.V. was roaming the halls when I stopped him for a photo op where he actually let me push a few of the lit up buttons on his chest. Unfortunately nothing happened when I pressed them, but now I can at least say I did it! (How many people can say that?)

1. Attend a panel session with Seth Green and the gang as they talk about their claymation series “Star Wars Robot Chicken.” For those unfamiliar with SWRC, the show has some hilarious adult humor…think more along the lines of South Park if you will. (Having said that, I was surprised at how many kids knew about SWRC and who were at the session asking Seth and his team some pretty specific questions about the series.)

Never heard of Star Wars Robot Chicken? Click here for a link to a video clip. (Even though there were shockingly lots of kids at the SWRC session, I’m marking this M for mature.)

Guest Blogger Extraordinaire: Jodi Kiely is an independent consultant specializing in public relations and corporate communications. She serves a broad spectrum of clients locally, nationally and internationally. Born in Seoul, Korea, Jodi is originally from Rochester, Minnesota, moving to Orlando in 2009. Jodi has a B.A. in Print Journalism and a Masters in East Asian Studies. She is also a former Peace Corps volunteer having served in the Central Asian country of Kyrgyzstan and currently sits on the Board of Directors of the Central Florida Asian American Chamber of Commerce. You can visit her blog,, or follow her on Twitter at @Jodi_Kiely.


Filed under Convention Center, Fun, Guest Blogger Extraordinaire, Tourist

Top 5 Things to See at Star Wars Celebration V

I just got home tonight (Friday) from Star Wars Celebration V and we had a blast. My husband has been a fan since his dad took him to see The Empire Strikes Back thirty years ago. In fact, Celebration V is celebrating the 30th Anniversary of The Empire Strikes Back. Celebration V, as most of you know, is being held this weekend until Sunday evening at the Orange County Convention Center.

When my husband heard Celebration V was coming to Orlando, he was really excited. We bought our tickets in advance a few weeks ago and even though I’m not as huge a fan as he is, I was getting excited as it got closer.

Here’s my “Top 5” list of things to see or do:

#5 Collecting Panels – Attend any of them and receive a limited edition cereal box designed especially for Celebration V. There are a total of 16 the entire weekend and a total of 16 different cereal boxes to collect. We went to the International Collecting panel, and although I’m not an avid collector (like my husband), it was pretty enjoyable because some of the panelists were pretty funny.

Special edition for Celebration V.

#4 Droid Builders – Really cool R2-D2 droids built by every day people like you and me. There was a bunch of people controlling their own R2s throughout the exhibit halls but there is a room dedicated to showing you the parts and pieces that go into building your own. There is a club of people who help each other and they have even published a manual. Pretty cool stuff! My husband seems interested in doing this and I can’t say I’m against this; it would be so cool to have a real-live working R2-D2 around the house! 🙂

R2-D2 ready for Disney!

#3 The Art of Ralph McQuarrie – The originial designer for the original Star Wars movies. There is a gallery of his original concept drawings and it’s pretty amazing how he was given direction by George Lucas and came up with some pretty awesome stuff. The image below is a picture of McQuarrie’s drawing for the original concept for Chewbacca and Han Solo.

Amazing conceptual artwork.

#2 Taking pictures with the many costumed characters, many of whom are attendees. It’s not uncommon for someone, including me, to ask to take a picture of someone’s costume or take pictures with them. It’s fun, a lot of the costumes are very well made and they are always happy to stop for pictures.

Posing with some Clonetroopers.

#1 The exhibit hall is where you can buy all of the Star Wars exclusives as well as tons of other Star Wars merchandise and even other kinds of merchandise. Also, in the exhibit hall are some great displays that you can take pictures of or have your picture taken with, such as a huge tie fighter and a speeder bike inside an Endor background. There is also this mystery Lego mural that you can help build. We participated and it was fun. If you put your piece together correctly, you get a free Lego version of concept Boba Fett (white version). That’s a picture of my finished piece below.

Large Lego background.

My contribution to the Lego mural.

We had tons of fun and I wish I had one more day to spend there. If you went to Celebration V, what were you favorite things to see?

Guest Blogger Extraordinaire: Julie Deily is a software engineer and is pretty close to being a Central Florida native, she has lived in the area since she moved to Florida at seven years old. She blogs about cooking and baking at the little kitchen and also at whatever julie where she blogs about her pets as well as her participation in the Susan G. Komen Tampa 3-Day for the Cure this October as one of fifteen Energizer “Keep Going” Bloggers.

Check out for more posts and pictures from Celebration V in the next week or so.


Filed under Convention Center, family, Fun, General Info, Guest Blogger Extraordinaire, Tourist

Do Some Good Tomorrow: Wildlife Jambando!

On Sunday, July 25, come out to Wildlife Jambando, which is supporting the Gulf Oil Spill Relief effort. And what is Jambando? Well, I asked one of its originators, local musician Dave Mann. Here’s what he explained:

Well, we’ve been working with The Plaza Theatre for just over a year now to create musical events we call Jambando where bands and fans come together in a community effort to put on the kinds of parties we want to see in Orlando, and it’s been pretty successful, so far. Last month, I got a call from Chris Charles, saxophonist and conductor of The Outer Toons and long-time friend, who suggested we put on a show to benefit the effort to clean up the Gulf. We’d all been hearing the news and the realization that the oil spill was something everyone in Florida was going to have to deal with for a long time was just starting to seep in.

I thought it was a great way to do something positive rather than sit back and stew helplessly, and as the idea for the show started spreading around, it became apparent that many felt the same way including the Plaza Theatre which immediately gave us a date to work with. Jazz legend, Sam Rivers, was one of the first to sign on which blew my mind! The rest of the bands came aboard pretty quickly after that and the result is an amazing and diverse line-up showcasing some of the best music coming out of Orlando. We couldn’t be more thrilled with how this show has turned out! The Wildlife Jambando was born.

To broaden the appeal of the show even further, we decided to put together some fun activities for the kids to create a Kids Jambando in the afternoon to take advantage of having The Outer Toons aboard. Their show is geared toward entertaining kids while teaching a little music education as well and are a lot of fun!

Natalie Wright, violinist for The Outer Toons, did the research for us and found that The Wildlife Foundation of Florida was on the front line of the clean-up effort cleaning up the coasts and caring for the animals being affected by the spill and had already set up a Gulf Restoration Fund dedicated to the long-term effort to clean this mess. We all agreed that this was exactly the kind of effort we wanted to support and they were thrilled that we wanted to help. All proceeds for the show go directly to the Fund.

Natalie also started hitting the phones and visiting local restaurants and businesses to let them know what we’re doing and we are amazed at the response. As a result, Sea World is on board as a gold sponsor and we’ve put together an AMAZING raffle to help raise even more money that features tickets to attractions, a brand, new guitar and gift cards from all sorts of places.

Our goal is to raise the awareness of what’s going on and the Wildlife Foundation of Florida’s efforts, but more importantly, to give everyone a way to pitch in and help. That really is the best thing about this show and everyone involved is donating their time with the sole intention of benefiting a greater good. It’s easy to get mad about all this, but I’m very pleased that we have figured out a positive way to contribute by doing what we do best… and have a great time enjoying a great show while doing it!

The Kids Jambando kicks off at 4PM and with three stages of continuous music, the fun will last all night long. Hope to see you there!

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Filed under Charity, concert, Guest Blogger Extraordinaire, Uniquely Florida

Local 11-year-old Helps Fight Hunger (You go girl!)

My utmost admiration and appreciation goes out to 11-year-old Abbey Brunault of College Park, who championed a worthy cause — hunger in Central Florida — and raised serious community awareness with the help of Second Harvest Food Bank.

Last spring, Abbey and her classmates at Princeton Elementary received a special assignment from enrichment teacher Ms. Patti Gordon (an Orange County Public School Teacher of the Year Finalist!), which was to research and report on a local non-profit organization. Abbey took the assignment to heart, donating $200 of her allowance and babysitting money to Second Harvest and making a call-to-action video in which she visits the food bank, volunteers and directly helps fight hunger in the community.

President/CEO Dave Krepcho and Abbey Brunault.

Touched by Abbey’s commitment, passion and creative approach to fighting hunger, Second Harvest President and CEO Dave Krepcho invited her to speak at the organization’s annual Feeding Hope Breakfast on June 23rd at the Church Street Ballroom. Her video was well-received at the event and has since been posted on the Second Harvest website.

“I chose Second Harvest Food Bank for my assignment because hunger is a very important issue to me,” Abbey said. “People in our community are suffering, and I believe that if we try hard enough, we can solve this problem.”

Abbey did an amazing job and inspired attendees to further invest in the fight against hunger in Central Florida. Congratulations to Abbey and Second Harvest for their amazing efforts!

This was post by Guest Blogger Extraordinaire Whitney Hopper who is the Director of Northeast Region at Costa Devault, a wordwise company.

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Filed under Charity, Education, Guest Blogger Extraordinaire, Resident done good

And where were you for the Fourth?

Thousands gathered at a picturesque Lake Baldwin for a classic Independence Day complete with a patriotic dog contest, apple pie bake-off, watermelon eating/seed spitting contest and grand firework display!

There was a steady crowd of babies, kids, adults, teens, and dogs (patriotic ones, to be exact) enjoying all of the festivities. Sponsor booths lined up along New Broad street and restaurants came out to serve their own specialities. Seito Sushi served crispy ahi tuna cones that had a melt-in-your-mouth flavor bottomed off with crunchy cone. Paddy Murphy’s, Lago, Jack’s Steakhouse, and Colibri served classics like hot dogs, hamburgers, pulled-pork sandwiches, and tacos. 
The hosts made sure to have all of the July 4th classics: watermelon for eating/seed spitting and a homemade apple pie contest.  There was also a beer garden and bounce house. The Baldwin Park Rotary Club made sure to have something to keep everyone smiling!
Everyone enjoyed the non-stop activities and danced the evening away to the fantastic live music. Upon sunset, guests spread a blanket and settled along the shore of Lake Baldwin.  There was a little surprise when a quick rainstorm passed through, but nothing that huddling under umbrellas couldn’t fix. Everyone stayed put and just like it was planned, the rain cleared up to welcome the beautiful, grand, and fabulous firework display!
The highly anticipated bash exceeded all expectations. Congratulations to the Baldwin Park Rotary Club for a successful event! We all look forward to next year!
This post was written by Guest Blogger Extraordinaire Ann Ngo, Development Manager of the American Lung Association in Florida, Central Region, whose offices are located in Baldwin Park. She can be found on Twitter at @annngo.

And where did you spend the Fourth? Share your experience in the comments!

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Filed under 4th of July, family, Fun, Guest Blogger Extraordinaire

My Top 5 Places in Orlando for Great Deals!

This is a guest blog by “J” from J’s Everyday Fashion. The blog is is only 5 weeks old, but she has over 1,000 fans on Facebook. She’s been featured on Glamour magazine’s website,, and on several times.

J, aka Jeanette, moved to Orlando in November. Previously she lived in Boston for 4 years, but was originally from Kansas. (Who knew Kansas gals had such fashion sense?!)

So, why does the Top 5 love her? She’s an everyday girl who loves fashion. She has a full time job, and she shops at the mall. She doesn’t walk the red carpet or wear designer clothes, because like most girls, she needs outfits to be functional, easy and affordable. Luckily, she insists that they also be beautiful!

The project: to share her story as an everyday girl navigating the retail world.
The budget: $250/month.
The reason: “Fashion is my art. And I like helping people.”

My Top 5 Places for Great Deals!

1. H&M, The Florida Mall

Central Florida residents rejoice, there are two H&M locations nearby – Florida Mall and Sanford. H&M is a leader in the fashion world, and it’s super-affordable to boot. Online ordering is not available, and there are no other locations in Florida (even Miami!) so I definitely recommend taking advantage of the inexpensive offerings from this store.

Insider tip: They receive new items everyday except Thursdays. The best stuff sells out within 1-2 days, so shop early and often!

Fabulous finds: This candy-stripe dress was only $4.95 (full price) and made the perfect outfit for a date with my husband (top). This military-inspired skirt is great for work and was only $24.95 (bottom).

Only $4.95

Only $24.99

2. DSW

With designer shoes at great prices and plenty of locations, what’s not to love?  (Locations include Millenia Mall, Altamonte, Kissimmee, Ocala, Sanford, Brandon and Tampa.)

Insider tip: Always check the clearance racks at the back for the best deals. Sign up for their free rewards program to receive coupons, including a $10 certificate just for signing up.

Fabulous finds: I scored these Steve Maddens on clearance at the Sanford location for $27 with a $10 coupon (top). These Chinese Laundry sandals are perfect for running errands and were only $27 on clearance at the Millenia location (bottom).

Only $27

Also $27

3. Banana Republic, Florida Mall

When you think of great deals, Banana Republic doesn’t always come to mind, but it should. This retailer speaks my language: quality stuff and when they mark things down – fantastic prices. There are many locations in Central Florida, but the Florida Mall is my favorite. They have the best selection of jewelry and Heritage clothes for men that you won’t find in any other Central Florida location.

Insider tip: Ask your local store to put you on their email list and they’ll let you know when they have promotions or put things on sale. And don’t miss the day after Christmas sale!

Fabulous finds: I scored these cropped khakis when the store reduced all sale pants to $13.99 in preparation for their summer collection (top). This pink shirt was marked down to $15 the day after Christmas, and I recently picked up this fringe necklace for $13.99 (bottom).

Only $13.99

Only $15 and $13.99

4. Forever 21, Millenia Mall

How do you look fashionable when it’s 100 degrees outside? Stock up on cheap, breezy sundresses from Forever 21. My favorite location is the Millenia Mall – they carry the Love 21 line (better quality at slightly higher prices) and Faith 21 (their plus size collection, which really means regular sizes).

Insider tip: Shopping at Forever 21 can be overwhelming, so look online first to pick some specific pieces to look for in the store.

Fabulous finds: I picked up this cute sundress for $13 and added a belt (top). I scored this 100% blue silk shirt for $22 and a parrot necklace to go with it for $5 (bottom).

Only $13

$22 and $5

5. Macy’s, Millenia Mall

I could get lost inside this Macy’s. Huge, huge selection! And great deals can be found here – especially on handbags and in the shoe section.

Insider tip: Once or twice a year, Macy’s has a Friends & Family sale where you can get 25% off everything, including designer brands like Coach.  Also, check out the sale shoes – sometimes they do a promotion to take an additional 30% off shoes that are already up to 50% off!

Fabulous find: I picked up my favorite purse, a patent leather Juicy Couture, after Christmas for $230 (top). I scored these black T-strap sandals for $15 (bottom).




Filed under Fun, Guest Blogger Extraordinaire, Just for Me, Uniquely Florida