I’ve Lost My Touch | Blogmas 2017

My North Pole elf powers have taken a serious hit in the past few years. In 2016, I had to repurchase two gifts due to damage. This year, I received two damaged gifts and was only able to successfully replace one. The other was a handmade, custom item and arrived twice in terrible condition due to measurement issues; I chose to walk away with a refund rather than risk receiving a third defective product. Seriously, what has happened to me?? Gifting used to be my cup of tea, and now I can’t seem to climb out of the funk I’m in. I carefully observe the recipients so I can pick the perfect gifts; I make an airtight budget so I can save and spoil my loved ones; and I buy from trustworthy sources (eBay has disappointed me one too many times). I’m still satisfied with my 2017 gifts, but I can’t help feeling disappointed. On top of my misery, I can’t see Star Wars: The Last Jedi until Monday night. UGH!!! On the bright side, I have a day off (from my retail job) to relax a little bit. Even though I have a to-do list of work that has to get done, I will definitely be squeezing in some baking, Christmas movies, & reading. Happy Saturday!

❄️   ⛄   🕯️   🎄   🎁   ❄️   ⛄   🕯️   🎄   🎁   ❄️   ⛄   🕯️   🎄   🎁   ❄️   ⛄   🕯️   🎄   🎁   ❄️   ⛄

T w o   D a y s   U n t i l   A r t m a s . . .

N i n e   D a y s   U n t i l   C h r i s t m a s . . .

❄️   ⛄   🕯️   🎄   🎁   ❄️   ⛄   🕯️   🎄   🎁   ❄️   ⛄   🕯️   🎄   🎁   ❄️   ⛄   🕯️   🎄   🎁   ❄️   ⛄

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– Lauren Michele ❤︎

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Limited Edition Disney Pins | Pin Mail

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I promised another Disney pin post, and here it is.  I bought two limited edition pins on eBay and hoped for the best in terms of authenticity.  I am pretty sure both pins are real (YAY!) but feel free to let me know in the comment section whether or not you think either pins are fake.  If you want more of the surprise factor, press play on the video down below to watch me open the two packages and reveal the pins.  If you want to skip ahead and see close up pictures, scroll down.

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🌞 Disney California Adventure Greetings From California Pin 🌞

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• Minnie Mouse pin on Pin Pics

http://www.pinpics.com/pinMT.php?pin=68969&keyw=minnie+greetings+from+california

• disneypinsandvinylmation on eBay

http://www.ebay.com/usr/disneypinsandvinylmation?_trksid=p2057872.m2749.l2754

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🌊 Disney Soda Fountain Characters in Cars Lilo and Stitch Pin 🌊

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*Note: The lighting made the back of this pin appear bronze, but it is gold.

• Lilo & Stitch pin on Pin Pics

http://www.pinpics.com/pinMT.php?pin=68269&keyw=characters+in+cars

• the_wicked_wench on eBay

http://www.ebay.com/usr/the_wicked_wench?_trksid=p2057872.m2749.l2754

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• Disney Pin Collecting & Trading Blog Post

https://laurenmichelelifestyle.wordpress.com/2016/04/26/disney-pin-collecting-trading/

• Disney Pin Collecting & Trading Video

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PART 2 COMING SOON!!

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– Lauren Michele <3

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Disney Pin Collecting & Trading

*Note: I am a newbie so feel free to correct me if the need presents itself.  I don’t want to give people false information.  Please & thank you!

Hello hello hello!!  It feels like forever since I’ve written a post, but in reality it’s only been 9 days.  I am back with a very interesting subject to discuss.  Ever since my first trip to a Disney park in 2002, I have been a Disney pin collector.  I buy at least one pin to commemorate each of my visits.  I was aware that other people were collectors like me because so many pins are available to the public.  However, I didn’t know there was another large part of the Disney pin world: Disney Pin Trading.  I’ve seen cast members with pin lanyards, but I assumed those were for show.  I didn’t realize people could bring pins into the park and trade with cast members.  There are also numerous pin boards (boards with pins) located around Disney parks.  There is a limit per board and cast member, usually 1-2 pins, and any pin can be traded regardless of the value of the pin being acquired.  What do I mean by that?  Pins have different values based on characteristics such as release occasion and rarity.  For example, when trading with a fellow trader, exchanging a Mickey Mouse rack pin for a Hunchback of Notre Dame pin with an LE of 300 would be ridiculous and unfair to the person receiving the Mickey pin.  It is fun to trade outside of Disney parks, but many people prefer trading inside because no rules apply regarding value.  You can buy an inexpensive set of pins and potentially trade for a limited edition pin.  What a deal!  Cast members and the majority of traders do their best to keep the pin flow pure, but fake pins have unfortunately made their way into the mix.  I will go into more detail about fake pins later in the post.  Now let’s go over some important pin trading terms.

• Artist Proof Pin (AP) – A high quality pin made during the manufacturing process as a test run.

• Fantasy Pin – An unofficial pin made in the likeness of a Disney character or scene, usually something that is not available in the official circle of Disney pins.  Disney is not associated with fantasy pins, and these pins are not allowed to be traded within the parks.

• Limited Edition Pin – A pin that was made in one and only one batch.  An LE of 300 means only 300 pins exist.  An LE of 1500 means only 1500 exist.  And so on…

• Limited Release Pin – A pin that is available for a limited period of time.

• Pre Production Pin (PP) – A pin made during the creation process to test design.  These pins may differ from the final version.

• ProPin – Disney pins made in Germany.  They usually have gunmetal gray backs whereas most American pins have gold or silver backs.

• Rack Pin – An open edition pin sold on the racks of Disney stores.  They are neither limited edition nor limited release.

• Scrapper – A pin that is fake.

This vocabulary list is by no means extensive, but it is enough to get you started.  Now let’s look at some procedures for identifying scrappers.

1.  Scrappers are made at low prices so the paint is low quality.  The colors should be vibrant and true to the characters.  Any color that looks dull and/or odd may indicate that the pin is fake.

2.  The text, no matter how small, should be legible.

3.  Most of the time, there is one or two prongs on the post that keep the pin from spinning.

4.  Official pins have a stamp of the pin trading logo on the back.  The stamp is often faked so look at the sunburst, the border around the stamp made up of triangles.  A fake sunburst has sharp lines, and a real stamp has soft edges.  The only exceptions are pins sold at locations outside of Disney parks such as the Soda Fountain in Los Angeles; those pins have the logo of their respective store.

5.  Disney pins are made of metal so they should be thick and heavy.

6.  The pattern on the back of pins is called a waffle pattern.  There are different variations; the ones I know of are ice cream cones, Mickey Mouse heads, and sorcerer hats.  The pattern should go off the edge of the pin; there should be no border around it.

7.  Pins should have a glossy finish.  If a pin lacks shine, it could be fake.

8.  Pins should never have rough edges.

9.  If the paint job has defects, your pin might be fake.  This is not a surefire method because older pins could have been mishandled or dropped.  But, keep in mind that Disney wouldn’t sell new pins that show sloppy craftsmanship.

10.  PinPics.com is a database full of Disney pin pictures and information.  The numbers and images provided are helpful for identifying authentic pins and scrappers.

Scrappers have evolved therefore one method is not enough to tell if a pin is fake or not.  It is better to do an exhaustive investigation and use every method you know of.  Another way to fight against the scrapper business is not being a part of it.  It is frustrating to buy or trade for scrappers, but don’t turn around and sell or use them for trade.  Help yourself and your fellow collectors and traders by keeping them out of circulation.

Here are some other links that might interest you:

• The Disney Pin Tag by ImSarahSnitch, the video that introduced me to pin trading:

• Everything Disney Pins, the company that fueled my love for Disney pins

Youtube Channel – https://www.youtube.com/user/DisneyPinsFacebook

Website – http://everything-disney-pins.com

• eBay is a good source for pins, but make sure you do your research.  Many pins on eBay are fake so check the seller reviews and product photos.  On top of that, be aware that any purchase is a gamble.  I would like to take this time to address eBay sellers.  If you are vigilant in inspecting pins and feel confident in your status as a legitimate Disney pin vendor, PLEASE provide more than one photo of the pins you are selling.  Images from different angles would make your customers feel more comfortable making a purchase.

http://www.ebay.com

• Pin Pics

http://www.pinpics.com/index1.php

• I made a Youtube video about collecting & trading Disney pins.  Give it a like & subscribe to support my channel.  Please & thank you!

To those of you interested in Disney pins, I hope this post was helpful.  I have a couple more Disney pin posts headed your way in the next few weeks so stay tuned.  Now I send you off into the pin world.  Go forth and collect/trade with valor & honor readers! ;)

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– Lauren Michele <3

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Tips For a Better Holiday Shopping Experience

(Image Source: http://www.metro.us/news/black-friday-don-t-forget-about-small-business-saturday/tmWmkx—efUBgYqtPMYDk/)

Happy faces??  I think not!!  I am sure I’m not the only one who hates crowds, especially around Christmastime.  I love shopping, but holiday crowds are in a league of their own.  I want to share the tips I have learned from my experiences in hopes that your stress level will decrease and your holiday spirit increase.  Let us proceed with the merriment!

1.  It is never too early to start Christmas shopping.  Sometimes the best deals show up after Christmas.  Why not get a head start?  The only thing you will have to worry about is a good hiding spot.  ;)

2.  Make a budget.  Know what you have to spend and shop accordingly.  Keep track of your money every step of the way.  Before shopping, I make a list of anticipated prices; I round up each price (e.g. $15.35 would be  $16) and add fifteen dollars for tax and shipping.  Always overestimate and expect the unexpected.  Bonus: It feels good to finish shopping and have money left over.

3.  Have your loved ones write down what they need/want.  A list will eliminate guesswork which takes precious time away from shopping and other holiday tasks.

4.  Adding to #3, make a list of what gift(s) you are getting for each person.  This way, you only have to spend time finding the best deal for specific items instead of wandering the internet with no light at the end of the tunnel.

5.  Do not be afraid of the interweb!  The internet is your best friend if you want to avoid crowds.  Also, you get to shop in pajamas and sip hot chocolate from the comfort of your home.  Nothing wrong with that!

6.  If you are concerned that an online store is sketchy, use a website like scamadviser.com or consumeraffairs.com.  You can also type the name of the business and the term “legitimate” into your web browser’s search engine for results containing reviews.

7.  If you are worried about online shopping costing more due to shipping, fear not!  You will be pleasantly surprised at how many online stores offer low shipping prices or free shipping, especially during the holiday season.

8.  The websites I visit first are Amazon and eBay.  Those are two good places to start if you want to dig and find good deals.

9.  My main tips for handling an eBay auction are as follows: Be online for at least the last five minutes of the auction, continuously refresh the page, wait until the last few seconds to bid, and bid at least one dollar above the price (e.g. if the price is $30, bid $31).  This isn’t a surefire way to win, but you will have a better chance of avoiding being outbid and winning.  And yes, I have won an auction with this plan.

10.  The Google Shopping tab is a good tool to use for finding the lowest prices for products.

11.  If you find coupon codes, use them!  I know this sounds like an obvious tip, but I am 100% certain there are people who have made purchases without realizing that there was a great coupon code available.  Not all coupon codes are valid so some trial and error may be involved, but it is worth it.  At least try!  One way to get coupon codes is to make a free account with the website you are shopping on; most online stores send a discount to new members.  Another way is typing the name of the store and the term “coupon code” into your web browser’s search engine.  The first few results are usually the most reliable (e.g. RetailMeNot or Groupon).

12.  Adding to #11, coupon codes and discounts are great, but make sure you do some math before checking out.  Discounted products could allude to higher tax and shipping cost.  Full price is not always the enemy.

13.  Another good way to compare prices is “checking out.”  Basically, I start to check out on two or more websites with the same item but only go to a certain point.  I do this in an attempt to find out the exact tax and shipping costs and calculate the cheapest total.

14.  I know there is a rush that comes with shopping for loved ones during Christmastime, but be patient.  If you rush, you might miss out on some great deals and/or accidentally go over budget.  Do not give in to impatience and accept the first price you see for the sake of feeding your excitement.

15.  On the flip side, if you find a ridiculous deal and your gut says act fast, do it.  Certain deals come once and only once.  Experience is the best tool for gauging if a deal is good or not.  That’s right!  The more you shop, the more you know.  ;)

16.  When in doubt, remember why you are shopping.  You want to put a smile on the faces of your loved ones and show them how much you care.  That is all the motivation you need to complete your mission shoppers.

My 2015 budget was $266, and I had three people to shop for.  I bought my first two presents and felt pretty good about where my budget was at.  Then, a shopper’s worst nightmare came true for me: I realized that I had accounted for $40 I did not have.  DUN DUN DUUUN!!!  That number may seem insignificant, but when your piggy bank is a source of income and a budget your lifeline, $40 is a make or break amount.  I had a complete meltdown: tears, screaming, the works.  After my less than stellar adult moment, I regained composure, put on my thinking cap, and did some more research.  Currently I have all but one gift purchased and am well under budget.  A Christmas miracle in November!!  Once I purchase my last gift, I will have spent $194 total for six gifts, received $80 for outside contribution, and be $152 under budget.  Keep in mind that the six gifts I bought for three people could easily be six gifts for six people.  I hope this gives you a visual of how the 16 tips listed above are effective, especially when money is tight.  Also, they are functional year-round.  Happy shopping!

(Image Source: http://giphy.com/gifs/christmas-lights-tree-jPVMA8hVPEl6E)

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– Lauren Michele <3

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