Raindrops on Roses…

..and whiskers on kittens.  Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens…

Brilliant lyrics.  But as much as I love The Sound of Music, none of the items that Maria is waxing fantastic over really do that much for me.

I had some very funny conversations with my (three) readers following my Expert post.  It seems I am actually an expert in many things.  None of which will ever earn me one red cent.  Which is truly unfortunate, because as bad as I apparently am at being talented or earning money, I am exceptionally good at spending it.  I’ve alluded to my deep-seeded love of shopping.  And it’s true-I really do love shopping.  I do appreciate a good old-fashioned trip to the mall.  But I’m much better at online shopping.  It’s an art, really.  I generally have no fewer than 4 browser windows open to things I am either price-comparing, researching or just plain mooning over.  I’m not committed to any one kind of online shopping.  I like bargain sites like Gilt, but I’m also a sucker for the luxury sites, the home decorating and improvement sites and I won’t even turn down a good hour to peruse Amazon.com.  I am not exaggerating when I tell you that more than 80% of the gifts given by myself and my family this Christmas came from Amazon.com.  Amazon Prime is absolutely brilliant.  In fact, it is one of My Favorite Things.

Which brings me back to Maria’s song.  This week, I will make some time to impart upon you some of My Favorite Things.  And since I’m an expert at online shopping, today it’s going to be my favorite sites.  Living in a place where one has to pay 60% duty on items that are shipped in-I obviously don’t order regularly.  But when I do-Boy Howdy!  I generally start evaluating my wardrobe in February so that when the Spring styles come into stores and look books in March and April, I am ready to shop, pin and compare.  By the time I arrive in the USA that first week of June-my office is like Christmas!  Full of packages and treasures.  It sounds very indulgent I am sure-but bear in mind that there’s almost nothing I can buy here because my right leg is about the size of an average full-grown Thai woman.  And even if I can buy it (we do have Gap and Zara here), I pay the aforementioned 60% price-hike because of VAT or luxury tax.  No Thanks.  I’m jealous of my friends that can take part in the wonder that is Stitch Fix…until I am someplace without duty-or in my  house in CO for longer than a 2 months stretch…it will have to wait.  If you’re a normal person in a normal place that can just Stitch Fix and you don’t need to buy a year’s worth of wardrobe in one fell swoop…you might be bored by this post.  But come back.  I will post other Favorite Things later.   I should also confess that my online shopping addiction is tempered by my frugality and my inability to click “buy”.  So, on any given day I probably have 20 different shopping carts online-full of things I might never buy.  However, I also might.  And I love that option.

I feel the need to categorize my shopping go-to sites.  For the purposes of passing on my faves the categories are: Shopping for Me, Shopping for the Girls, Shopping for the Home, and Shopping for Gifts.  The Husband is fairly self-sufficient, and when he needs to be spoilt, I’m very specific.

First: Moi.  I like a one-stop shop.  I really do.  And since my end destination in the USA is literally an hour from the nearest Target and more than 2 hours to the nearest Nordstrom-I like the idea of perusing everything from swimwear to exercise gear to the “in” sandal.  Three years ago I discovered Piperlime (one of the Gap companies) and fell madly in love.  I would wager that a minimum of 50% of my wardrobe was purchased through Piperlime.  For me-it was the perfect mix of on-point trends, mid to high-end quality brands and good prices.  Their free shipping and returns policy snared me for life.  Initially-they only sold shoes.  Now they have everything.  I preferred their old layout, and last year I didn’t find nearly as many treasures as the year prior…but nonetheless, I keep going back.   Once a woman gets to 40, she knows her own personal style.  And once you know it-you probably stick to a color palette, or at least several go-to colors and styles that you know work for you.  Mine is so predictable that anytime one of my friends finds something orange, they automatically think of me.  Same goes for maxi-dresses and Giant Hats.  Last year, I attempted to branch out into the teals (to counter my oranges) but it didn’t take.  I find that certain designers just appeal to me.  Tory Burch is my style icon.  I love almost everything she designs-even though I can’t wear a lot of it.  Sadly, I am not built like the lovely, waif-y Tory.  But I can rock a tunic, her swimwear is TDF and the sandals and accessories?  Really well-made and classic.  Clearly-her site is constantly bookmarked and with a full cart.  Though, I often peruse Nordstrom & Neiman Marcus as well to see if they have any of her things on sale.  I haven’t stepped foot into a J.Crew shop in at least 2 years-but I have a closet-full of J.Crew and J. Crew Factory clothes.  I love the clean, simple lines and the classic designs.  And Factory prices cannot be beat.  Gilt is a fantastic site.  Fabulous designers and great prices.  But I can’t buy ahead and return when I arrive, so I’m out most of the time, unfortunately.

The Girls:  Frankly, they are still little.  They tend toward sparkly and neon.  I would dress them in matching Crewcuts tunics and mini Boden.  So, we have to try to find a happy medium.  Their camp gear is from Justice, Target and Land’s End (obviously, the practical things-they wouldn’t be caught dead in a turtleneck covered in little whales).  Play clothes are the same.  I love Gilt for them as well as Zulily-but if fit is in question (which is often is with my completely different-bodied girls)-I can’t really do either site for the same reason I can’t do Gilt for me.  I have discovered a few brands on Zulily that I have sought from department stores-I usually hit Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus and occasional Saks Fifth Avenue when I need them to look nice.  There is an amazing Australian store called Seed that I used to go to in Hong Kong.  For any Aussie if you don’t go-you should.  Both for you and for your kids.  I loved their clothes for both of my girls.  It was a slightly cuter, trendier J.Crew style.  I do love Crewcuts and J Crew Factory for the girls, but often they are pieces I like that get worn once because they aren’t nearly sparkly enough.

The Home: I’m addicted to Houzz.  I have loads of boards and lots of Pinterest boards.  Both to save ideas and to pine for things I will never have.  When I get bored I redecorate if only in my mind.  You can’t buy ON Houzz, but you can find out what you might want to buy.  My favorite online sources for the home are One Kings Lane and Joss & Main.  I love Horchow and Neiman Marcus Home…but frequently I just get my ideas there and actually find a comparable item on OKL or J&M.  And I’ve actually bought things for myself and the dogs on those sites as well-but mostly just really inexpensive, but decent quality on-trend decor and furniture.  I’ve been impressed with their service and their delivery.  I’ve bought art, beds, side tables, rugs and decor.  Happy, happy!  If you are not a member but want to be-please comment below and I’ll send you a link.  I get credit when you shop.  How cool is that?

Gifts: This Christmas, I bought almost everything on Amazon.  I shopped other sites to find specific treasures…but it mostly all came from Amazon.  For something different, I am loving Red Envelope.  Anthropologie always has great things for my girlfriends-but so does Joss & Main and One King’s Lane.  Gilt, too…if I’m not worried about returning things.  I get ideas from Pinterest, bloggers, magazines..anywhere really.

And now that I’m not on Facebook-that’s an extra 2 hours per day that I can be adding things to shopping carts!

And here I’ve just gotten myself all keyed up about shopping but I’m months away from the real shopping.   Until then I can keep my eyes peeled for ideas!