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This post is for anyone who uses United States Postal Service (USPS). I mostly ship for eBay through PayPal, but very rarely I have to ship a return not using a return label, or a present. (I previously blogged about reselling/shipping here.)

(1) Padded Flat Rate Envelopes. These Priority Mail padded flat rate envelopes are great. I rarely go to a post office, so I can’t comment on whether any post offices have them but I’ve never seen these padded envelopes at a post office before. It’s best for shipping from one coast to the other, or items over a pound that doesn’t need cushioning. If something needs cushioning and it fits, I put a box within the padded envelope. You can order these envelopes for free online along with other Priority Mail supplies. I always have some handy along with the flat rate envelopes for flat items, e.g. documents.

(2) Cheaper Rates on PayPal. Take advantage of USPS commercial rates when you purchase a shipping label on PayPal. It’s almost a dollar difference for a padded flat rate envelope within the US. With international priority mail, the difference is pretty significant. When it comes to shipping expenses, every bit counts and I prefer to keep them low, especially if it doesn’t require much work.

(3) First Class Mail on PayPal. If you’re shipping something under a pound (<16 ounces) and you’re not in a rush, use First Class Mail. It only takes a few days extra than Priority Mail. You can’t print first class postage on USPS.com but you can ship and print it through PayPal. Note, in post offices you can only ship First Class Mail up to 14 ounces. The <16 ounces is for commercial accounts.

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  • I’m a big fan of Starbucks new mobile ordering.The Starbucks next to my office is notoriously slow and the building’s deli coffee is notoriously bad. In the morning, time and caffeine is of the essence. I don’t love Starbucks coffee, but this has won me over with the efficiency (and rewards program) bit. Getting enough signal to efficiently place an order on the app – still a work in progress.
  • RIP Rib and Hull (soon). I got my order and both totes are beautiful although the carryall is huge. Leather lovers, check out what is left of their Heirloom collection!
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I haven’t felt like / had time to blog much lately, but here’s an update!

(1) Hangers. I never thought I’d be a fancy hanger snob. My mainstay are Joy Mangano Huggable Hangers (I have two shades in my closets, HSN has the best color range). My current squeezes, aluminum hangers, found their way into my check-in luggage and are super lightweight and aesthetically pleasing. You can find them at Muji (I think they are roughly 1.5x in the US > Asia and less variety) and at Zara Home in gold (much cheaper in Spain/Portugal, thanks to the weak Euro and home country advantage, but currently on sale in the US).

Sidenote: ZH was one of the few places I actually spent money at in Barcelona – definitely worth a browse but this online shopper cautions against buying sight unseen – their tableware, vases, etc. were extremely heavy. I’m also really confused why many vases cannot be filled with water?!? 

(2) Brooks Brothers. My male coworkers always wore a ton of BB, but I never gravitated toward it because I’m not an avid button down shirt wearer and it always seemed pricey. It is still pricey but I just discovered their Red Fleece line (a prepster’s dream) and their wonderful sale prices (70% is the peak I’ve seen). I ordered a ton during their last sale to check out (a lot of it is going back). I’m not inclined to venture into a store — reviews of their service are horrible.

  • Here’s a big thumbs up to their blazers.The cut and quality of their Milano fit navy blazer beats Ann Taylor and J.Crew, in my opinion right now. There is a lot of negative press for J.Crew at the moment and it’s merited. Do you want a stylish, classic blazer cut or a trendy one?
  • If you are a button down shirt wearer, they have a lot of cute styles in the Red Fleece department. Reviews said that Red Fleece was sized smaller, but I found it fit the same as the regular collection, TTS.
  • For the Loro Piana junkies, there are some styles on sale with Loro Piana wool (don’t trust the search box). BB is also on ShopRunner. So, if you like anything, sign up for their mailing list and wait for the extra sale on sale!

(3) Books. I still need to figure out where to go in Provence. I browsed through Janelle McCulloch‘s gorgeous Provence book yesterday while I was at Anthropologie. It provided a good high-level of the region. I’m also very intrigued at Monocle’s new travel guides. London has launched and New York follows in a few days.

(4) Lucky Magazine. If you haven’t heard, Lucky Magazine is no longer going to be in print. I’m waiting to see what this means for my print subscription…

(5) Returns. I ordered some vegan leather weekend bags from Sole Society (because it was featured multiple times on a popular blogger). The smell of it was nauseating. It immediately went back. I still much prefer a Longchamp that is lightweight and foldable. I also ordered some leather shopper totes from Cuyana. They are beautiful but too big. I really hope they make smaller sizes of the smooth leather tote. A recent J.Crew order didn’t go well – everything’s going back and I can’t say I was pleased with their service. Ann Taylor was worse than J.Crew though.

What I’ve been up to: got over jetlag, been getting acquainted with my Macbook Pro (so pretty!), cooking (Japanese tuna mayo seen above), and planning a trip.

  • Missed the Lilly Pulitzer x Target launch (fell asleep, the story of my life these days). Checked it out online and have no regrets. I’ve never been a Lilly person.
  • Applied for a Schwab checking account since it’s fee free and no minimums — that includes free ATM usage and no foreign transaction fees. It comes with a free brokerage account.
  • Strengthen your skin’s moisture barrier – and reduce your acne. I’ve always gone with what felt right – lower ph cleansers! (link)
  • Innisfree ships to the US now and their prices are really good! Use code USA15 for 15% off regular priced items for orders over $50 (HT: fanserviced). Their It’s Real sheet masks are buy 10, get another 10 free (just like it was in Taiwan a few weeks ago, but I’m not sure if you can mix and match online). If you buy over $70, you get samples and free international shipping (which is worth a lot). I love their volcanic clay mask and love this new packaging for travel. I do not put them on the same level as the other Korean brands I use (Mizon, Cremorlab), but I do really like their masks. (Edit – the ladies at Reddit reminded me to tell you there may be customs fees.)
  • Sephora is giving 10% off to Beauty Insiders (which is free) and 15% off to VIB and VIB Rouge members through Tuesday, April 21 with code BILOVE/VIBLOVE/ROUGELOVE respectively. I splurged for the Jurlique Rosewater Balancing Mist Intense, which I can’t find anywhere else. Had my eye on it for a while and used giftcards!
  • Madewell has up to 30% off almost everything through Monday, April 20. Love some of their dresses.
  • Ann Taylor has 50% off almost everything as well. I’m shocked at how fast some of their new arrivals flew off the shelves.
  • I think Anthropologie‘s additional 20% off sale ends on Monday, April 20. I picked up some more Ruan Hoffman for the kitchen (vase pictured above is from a prior purchase). One of my favorite collections!

Image source: Nordstrom

I’ve been taking R&R in Taipei and didn’t bring a laptop with me. After a week of detoxing from a computer, I itched to write real emails and keyboard shortcut my way through my inbox.

  • I’ve been indulging in super affordable tui na and acupuncture and will be sad to give them up once I return home.
  • I’ve come to the conclusion that most food in Taipei is good – no matter where you go. I’m not as diligent in exploring Taipei food options because there are family obligations and because I’m content.
  • Yelp just launched in Taiwan. It’s too new to be of substantial value though. Foursquare was in use.
  • I’ve been thinking of purging (and I’ve been talking about it for years but time has always been a deterrent) and browsed through Marie Kondo’s much talked about book. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten wiser about purchases so there is a lot less to buy in Hong Kong and Taipei. So far.
  • If you have any recommendations for items to buy from Taipei (or Narita airport), let me know! I always end up in Muji and Watson’s for hours. Even though I can read traditional Chinese, it is more tiring. Thus, it’s harder to find reviews on products.

I. Shopping

  • Get $10 off your first $50+ order at Peach and Lily!
  • I always stop at the original Sogo department store in Taipei and did a walkthrough of the first floor, which I usually do not do. They have a HUGE selection of Repetto ballet flats — I think it rivaled the flagship in Paris and definitely beat any US retail outlet. Retail pricing is hefty but there were a bunch of styles that were 40% off.
    • I tried on the new pointed ‘Brigitte’ style (currently 25% off through link). It runs TTS and I never realized before the bow could be tightened. If feels different than the Cendrillon ballet flat due to the lack of curve. It’s currently online at:
    • I also saw a black rubber version of the popular Cendrillon style — perfect for drizzly weather — but I can’t seem to find it online.
    • A Repetto store is rumored to be opening in Soho, NYC this year…
  • Petit Bateau private sale up to 70% off. 3 days left. Sizes are limited.
  • Two thumbs up to the Better Business Bureau! I’d purchased something from a popular home decor e-tailer. I got tired after waiting an year for a backorder and they didn’t respond to my emails. It was too far back for me to contest with my credit card. I filed a case on BBB, who then forwarded it to the local BBB. The e-tailer took immediate action. The e-tailer has similar bad reviews on BBB, so buyer beware.

II. Other

I am not categorizing for the sake of time. I will say that I really wish more RSS feeds didn’t force me to click to their site to read because now I have an exorbitant amount of saved items. I spent a good deal of time bookmarking instead of reading on my flight here. Or is there a way to easily bookmark into folders, on the iPhone, while offline?

III. Watching

  • I detest inefficient browsing. Enter Netflix God Mode. I usually add to my queue on the desktop. (PSFK)
  • How long it takes to binge watch a show. (via Apartment Therapy)
  • I’ve also been on a TV detox, but can’t wait to dig into:
    • Mad Men, last season (AMC)
    • Orphan Black, starting April 18 (BBC US)
    • Grimm, returns (NBC)
    • Call the Midwife, Mr. Selfridge, Wolf Hall (PBS)

I. Shopping

  • Chloe ballet flats. I encountered an amaaazing (70% off) sale that I couldn’t resist. Final sale? There’s always eBay or Amex return protection. While they didn’t have their classic scalloped ballet flat in a reasonable color or in my size, I did figure out my Chloe size. It’s true to size, folks, i.e. 38.0 = US 8. I’m keeping a pair of pointed ballet flats, but am not sure if I like pointy (sometimes I walk into things and the extra length does not help) or the excessive toe cleavage. As seen here, here, and similar here.
  • This little piggy went to the market => I’ve been keeping an eye on the custom Baggus for Crate and Barrel and love the current pig one.
  • My Clarisonic Plus of 5+ years died. The sad thing is that it was in storage for the last 2 years and is out of warranty (both manufacturer’s and extended credit card). Clarisonic offered a 25% off discount as a consolation, which I asked Nordstrom to pricematch. (Note: They said it was a one-time courtesy since it’s not in their pricematch policy to honor non-public discounts.) Although I would’ve preferred this QVC bundle, I value Nordstrom’s customer service much higher than a small discount. It’s still a pricey gadget especially one with a finite life, but if you compare it to a few spa services, it’s a smart investment. I still went for the higher end model, Clarisonic Smart Profile, since there are brushes for the body, and the less advertised, feet — all of the pedi brushes work with the Smart Profile!
  • TheRealReal is an online consignment store and has an alarming amount of new, recent season Clare Vivier bags at a really good price. There’s the spotted Sandrine and Madeleine Petit in British Tan or Royal Blue Croco. The starting price is 50% off – $25 first timer credit* – 20% off with code PICKMEUP.
  • Clare Vivier Margot Tote fans, Piperlime has the spotted tote on sale and Malia Mills has the solid totes on sale. It has a waxier finish than her other bags. I have a simple tote from her earlier collections and wish she had more simple designs.

II. Design

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Image source: Next Issue app

I got an iPad mini a few months ago as a gift and LOVE it. I’m a big magazine reader and over the years, I haven’t managed to zero out my backlog of magazines (subscriptions are pretty cheap). I heard of Next Issue a while back — it’s the Netflix of magazines — and since I now have a decent tablet to use it on, activated a trial subscription right before a trip. I’ve been loving it so far. In some cases, it’s better than print magazines!

Pros:

  • Usability and features. More magazines are going digital-friendly and have special features (e.g. Lucky). Also easy to click from a magazine to the internet.
  • Save it for later. You can easily bookmark/save articles (save as image).
  • Quick read. It’s easy to flip through a magazine to find an article for magazines you don’t regularly read. Here’s a list of all magazines on Next Issue.
  • Back issues. For almost all of the magazines I’ve read so far, there are back issues available for you to catch up.
  • Weightless. No paper to recycle or have to lug around! I usually bring a stack of mags with me on a flight and dump them along the way.
  • Publisher spam. No individual subscriptions to manage (which leads to less snail mail spam…).
  • Fresh off the press. When a magazine hits the newsstand, it hits Next Issue too — so I got to check out the John Legend/Chrissy Teigen feature in AD asap! (Too bad I didn’t know who she was last Feb when we were standing next to each other at JFK.)
  • Versatility. You can share your account across 5 devices.

Cons:

  • Content. I quit weekly gossip rags like US and People a long time and it’s too easy to indulge with Next Issue. (Need some self-control!)
  • Cost. At $9.99/14.99, it’s not the cheapest. Weekly magazines are a part of the premium package. But, if you’re an airport newsstand buyer, or travel and don’t want to be saddled down by paper magazines, I think this is pretty worth it.

If you’re interested in checking Next Issue out, get a free 60 day premium trial through my referral link. For a limited time, you can also opt for a shorter trial and 2000 AA miles.


Continuing on…

Image source: Target

I. Food

II. Fashion

  • Are you a Madewell fan? Here’s a little history on the brand.
  • Oops – I misspoke in the last brain dump. Uniqlo’s big anniversary sale is still going on and there’s an additional $5 off $100 coupon. I went to the Paramus, NJ location last night to make a massive Urban Sweats return and checked out the +J collection while I was at it. I ended up loving the wool wrap coat and need a sale. By the way, the Paramus store may be my favorite area Uniqlo since they are not as crowded as the city ones and have its own entrance.
  • Amex users, I hope you are taking advantage of Amex offers. It’s a little frustrating since offers come from different channels and aren’t always communicated and are sometimes targeted. I check my Amex offers tab online or through the Amex app every few days, I skim Slickdeals updates (through RSS), and my bff keeps me informed.
    • NYCers, read on. You can get a $10 statement credit for each $50 spent at participating NYC retailers, up to three times! In the past, gift cards have qualified, but I will be poring over the terms before I take the plunge. Phone orders and online orders do not count. The retailers include B&H, Uniqlo!, and H&M. See the full list here. To get the offer, follow the Twitter syncing process, tweet #Amexshopny, and wait for a confirmation, or you can register directly here.
  • How to make leather shoes last.

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(Image source: Rifle Paper Co.)

I. Food

  • Dominique Ansel revealed his Cronut recipe in advance of his cookbook launch at the end of the month. Not that I have any desire to attempt it. It’s very labor intensive and I wasn’t enthralled with the Cronut I tried. P.S. His instagram has lots of food porn.

II. Fashion

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