Never Overpay for Eye Wear Again

47c94-2016-08-042b20-36-16Buying glasses can be a costly affair. At least a hundred dollars for the frames, then you have to add in the cost of the actual prescription lenses…My mom paid up to $400 for a pair for me when I was just a kid. It isn’t fair, why should people who are born with bad eyesight have to empty their bank accounts to buy something to help them see? I literally couldn’t go to school without my glasses/contacts because I am blind as a bat.

Glasses are expensive around the world. Even when I was living in China, it cost a couple hundred Yuan, which is a lot in that currency. In the UK, for an adult, it could cost a hundred pounds. I tried to keep my eye bills cheap by buying Walmart frames, but it was still pricey.

Then a friend told us about the sight Zenni Optical. She said she bought frames for only $6.95. I thought it was one of those internet scams, or they were some badly made Dollar Store glasses. I didn’t bother looking into it, until after my mother ordered her first pair (bad eyesight runs in the family). They were awesome! Super colorful, and with the glass lens, plus shipping, she still paid less than $20.

The way it works is you have to already have a valid eye prescription. You copy it into their system, and then you have to measure your own head so you know the width you need for the frames. Then, you go through their huge selection and pick out your favorite. Not all the frames cost $6, those are the older styles or the ones that didn’t sell out yet. But, even for a on trend frame, you are only looking at $12-$20. I’ve bought a $12 frame, UV protected lenes, for around $25. It is affordable! And because it is so cheap, you can purchase multiple pairs to go with different outfits or styles. Color coordinated glasses is something I never dreamed I could have with my limited budget.

42246049_236112797253370_2217672660681228288_nZenni also does sunglasses. Now, I wear contacts 80% of the time, and only use my glasses when I wake up and before going to sleep. However, my mother uses her 24/7. While driving, she needs sunglasses. She tried buying the oversized ones that were in style in the mid-2000’s and wearing them over her prescription glasses but they weren’t comfortable. She also tried the clip on sun glasses, but they don’t really work either. But, her Zenni sunglasses (which were less than $10) have lasted her for years.

My family uses nothing but Zenni, so if you are vision impaired like I am, I suggest you use NOTHING but Zenni. Also, Zenni didn’t pay me to do this, I’m just sharing the #doitcheap philosophy by offering up a good glasses website.


How To Get The Chic French Fashion Look

20170509_203029As an ESL teacher, I work with all nationalities. I’ve recently begun to teach French students, both male and female. Everything the fashion magazines say about them is true, they are so stylish! Did I mention my students are 14?

They don’t wear a lot of accesories, or even wear a lot of labels. Honestly, they wear jeans and sweatshirts, or jeans and plain t-shirts. But somehow, they add little chic touches that turn an outfit that would look boring on me, into something that looks fashionable. For example, today one student was wearing mom jeans, and a very baggy t-shirt. Her hair was a mess, and her only accessory was a nose piercing. Yet somehow, it looked so cool!

Teaching these kids early in the morning, I can promise they put zero thought into their clothing. They do not think about their outfits, I don’t think the French style the conscious choice we non-French people assume. Rather, I think it is both bred, and SOLD into them. By this I mean, their parents dress in very simple, casual styles. So, they do too. And the stores in France sell more monochrome, structured, casual items. So, they buy them. I know this is true because I’ve shopped in French stores.

The whole nature vs nurture debate has established that who we are as people is molded by our parents and our environment. Applying that psychology to fashion, it means that the French teens wear the clothes sold in their shops and worn by their parents. Therefore, I purpose that French fashion is not a purposeful style. Rather, it is simply a look that is sold, and told to them.

This isn’t exclusive to France. In Washington, people wear a lot of North Face and polar fleece hoodies. Why? Because it is what the stores sell, and what parents tell you to wear to keep warm. In New York, stores sell edgy clothes, and parents tell their kids to dress in the latest NYC style. Breeding and location is what makes an intrinsic local style.

The French teens are chic casual because it is all they can know. So, I envy them a little less…but I also wish my stores sold me less bold prints and more perfect white tee’s.

What are your thoughts???

You Can Make Anything Go Viral

bouquet wedding love bride
Photo by Alicia Zinn on

I believe that some of the most powerful ways to draw attention to a political issue are through performance art and making a public spectacle. In my news wanderings today, I discovered two very interesting examples of this.

The first, was a woman in Cairo who dressed in a formal white wedding dress and wandered the streets. She did this to make a statement about how woman in Egypt are pressured into getting married and producing children. This woman is only 27 years old, an interior designer and working on getting her MA in performing arts. She has years ahead of her to find a mate and marry. However, her family is already saying she is an old spinster. Egypt is known for having conservative values, and so perhaps this isn’t surprising that the culture pushes marriage and home life.
But what struck me most about this news piece, and this very blatant performance art piece about feminism, is that this is a pressure I feel as well. In the last month, 6 of my childhood friends have become engaged. 2 other friends have already had babies! And I am only 21. And, as ridiculous as it is, when I see their announcements and engagement photo’s on my Facebook feed, I feel lack I am somehow inadequate and don’t compare to them. It couldn’t be sillier, I should feel wildly successful with all that I have accomplished in my life thus far. I graduated with my BA two years early, I was awarded a prestigious international scholarship for my Master’s degree, I am the president of a staff student association, and I am a member of a university sports team. I am in no way lacking of accomplishments, but I still feel as if I don’t equal my friends because I am nowhere near getting married.
It is insane that I feel the same about marriage in a modern, liberal, country as a woman who lives in the conservative Middle East. I am truly inspired by this single Egyptian woman for having the courage to be so outspoken about a feminist issue. While society’s pressure on woman might not be viewed by most as a political issue, I think it is. Society is what sets politics. Woman still feeling like marriage is a requirement to females is an important political issue that should be discussed more. And luckily, this Egyptian non-bride is sparking that conversation.
 The second, and equally entertaining of using public spectacle to draw attention to a political issue takes place across the world in Changsha, China. A Chinese court has just approved the installation of a massive T.V monitor screen outside of the city train station. On this screen will be displayed the photos, and details of people who have committed a crime, been ordered a fine, but have neglected to pay. I think this is absolutely brilliant! No longer will people be allowed to be dead beats! If a co-worker notices your picture on the screen, and comes to work asking you about it, the shame and embarrassment will be enough to force you into paying! Sadly, I don’t think America or the UK could get away with this system, only a country that has a government with more centralized absolute power could manage to allow this. But imagine the things that could get done if America was able to put a monitor in front of Grand Central Station! Parents that neglected to pay child support, or people who had insane parking fines would not be able to hide away from their problems. When I really think about the root of the idea, drawing attention to criminals (petty non-fine paying criminals, but criminals all the same) is it really so different from the public sex offenders list? Given, sexual crimes are way way more awful than not paying a fine, but society doesn’t seem to reject having that list. So maybe in the future America could have a public way of announcing who is trying to get out of paying their fines. Just some food for thought.

Top Tips To Make Black Friday Shopping Easier For You!

recite-rbrji5It may seem unusual to post Black Friday shopping advice two days after the event, but gotta live it to write it!
People in the UK aren’t as familiar with Black Friday as Americans are. Most think it is weird and unnecessary. In trying to explain it, I had to start at my first Black Friday. I was a junior at university, I had some money, and it was the first time I wasn’t wrapped up in family stuff over Thanksgiving. My friends and I decided to go out shopping, just to see what we could find. I ended up buying a set of stacking diamond rings for $100. It was an insanely good deal, and I still have the rings. It was my first big purchase for myself. I think that is why I’ve always viewed Black Friday favourably.
Before moving to England I worked in retail for a year at Kohls (a department store like Debenhams but cheaper). It was by far one of my favorite jobs ever. My first real day at work was actually Black Friday. And it wasn’t utter madness like you hear about in the media. People waited patiently in line, they weren’t rude or demanding. It was busy, but not unruly. The crazed mobs are the exception to the Black Friday rule, from what I have seen, people are prepared to wait in long lines and spend hours shopping because they know they are getting a good deal.
In the US, the major department stores do amazing Black Friday deals. They release their ad a week or two in advance, so customers can prepare a list. The stores deliberately stock large quantities of the discounted items because they know they will run out. There is always extra staff, and you can usually get an additional discount off the price advertised. For example, I got a Black Friday deal of a full sized heated blanket for $30 with an extra 15% off. Major steal! I think that if you are determined, in the US you can get some really good bargains on Black Friday. The cost is that you will wait in lines and the stores will be busy, and you will be giving up an entire day just to snatch the savings (worth it if you are truly a #doitcheap person like me).
Black Friday in the UK is not nearly as good. None of the stores have any good discounts. What New Look and M&S fail to realize is that American stores do so well during Black Friday because they deliberately order certain goods to sell cheap on the day (so they aren’t losing money). Where as in the UK, they just discount the full priced items, and not by much. I checked a bunch of stores in person and online to see if I could get any Xmas gifts on the cheap in the UK on Black Friday. I got no deals.
The only worthwhile site for Black Friday in the UK was Amazon. I bought a phone for $20 cheaper than I could find it elsewhere and my husband got headphones for $20 cheaper as well. But unless you need to make a big tech purchase, even the Amazon Black Friday deal’s aren’t that great. Many of them are only slightly discounted.
So, my overall Black Friday impression. In the UK it sucks. The British just haven’t evolved to the smart selling techniques of America. Don’t be tricked into buying any British “Black Friday” deals. However, in the US, Black Friday is a gold mine, if you have the patience or are happy to buy online and wait a week. I bought almost all my family’s gifts online during Black Friday and I saved at least $200. But, I had to do a lot of research, price comparisons and digging through websites to find the best deals. If you are prepared to put in the effort, than Black Friday is a must do for the #doitcheap shopper.
Added bonus (from someone who has worked in retail) about a week after Black Friday a lot of stores will put clothing and home goods into their clearance areas. They need to clear out Black Friday goods and left over autumn products to make room for the December Christmas items. So, check out Kohls or Macy’s clearance rack the week after Thanksgiving and you will probably find some good stuff.

Do You Say Bum or Fanny Pack?

23666823_10214692736176597_476153992_nThe fanny pack trend was all the rage in the 80’s. Neon leggings, big hair, wrist bands, leotards and fanny packs were the ‘must wear’ items of the early to mid 1980’s. . I will admit that the fanny pack was practical as well as fashionable. I mean how useful is a purse that you can wear around your waist?! Whenever I go shopping, I hate that I’m always hiking my bag back onto my shoulder or that it gives me a weird boob look because the strap sits firmly between my breasts. Worst of all is the big bag conundrum when you smack into people in a crowd because your purse is just that big.
So, I think the fanny pack was one of the more useful things to come out of the fashion industry. And I wasn’t hating it when the fanny pack briefly became a trend again in 2016/2017. I personally never bought one, but my hips don’t need the extra emphasis a fanny pack would add. Keep in mind that while the fanny pack was recently on the runways, it never went out of style with the cautious tourist. A fanny pack is the best travel accessory because it can hold your $$, passport, ID and is basically theft proof. It would take a bold thief to try and steal out of bag that was basically strapped down by  the crotch of the wearer.
It wasn’t until recently that I learned a fanny pack and a fanny can mean 2 different things. I was raised to believe that the fanny pack was basically a butt pack that went around your waist and could rest on your butt or in front of you. Mom’s would say ‘You sit on your fanny right now!’ and they would mean our bottoms. It all makes total sense.
Then I came to the UK. One day during a chat at work, someone mentioned being confused about Americans and their ‘fanny packs’. Why were they called that they asked. Well, it was obvious I thought. Fanny means butt. You wear the purse near your butt. A look of comprehension donned one their faces. They then explained why they were bewildered.
You see in the UK, the ‘fanny‘ does not refer to a bottom. In fact, a fanny is a ladies vagina. It’s slang, not widely used today, but was quite popular ten years ago. Naturally, hearing American refer to a fanny pack in that way would seem confusing. The fanny pack doesn’t go down by the fanny, so the name doesn’t seem appropriate in the UK. When my colleagues told me this I turned bright red. I had been walking around occasionally mentioning fanny packs and people thought I was talking about some sort of vagina bag. Fashion for your lady bits 😉 It the UK they call this style of purse a ‘bum bag’ which sounds just as weird to me as ‘fanny pack’ does to them.
So, now you know that fanny has two different meanings. Don’t misuse them in either country, because you could get some alarming results.