May 21, 2014

Jet Lagged Thoughts Including An Outlet Review.

I suppose I'm happy to be home and back at work.  It was my first day back in the office yesterday and the warm welcome back I received from my workmates pretty much killed the last dregs of jet lag that I was trying to fight off as I motored up the M4 on the 'right' side of the road.

Mickey and Minnie's pins have been officially installed on my desk in the office

I'm reorientated to person, place and time

and I frocked up for work in this Laundry by Shelli Segal dress.  It was a bargain at Saks Off 5th at the Vineland Street branch of Orlando Premium Outlets, $60 down from a RRP of $189.  It's machine washable and beautifully cut.  

It seems frivolous and somewhat Marie Antoinette of me to be prattling on about my bargains from Florida when the first 10 pages of the paper today were filled with the very real financial restrictions implications the forthcoming budget will bring upon us all.  And some of us more 'equally' than others.  

In the face of the spending cuts and taxes that are coming my way whether I like it or not, I will still be fortunate enough to be able to pay my bills and keep the roof over my family's head.  I fear that many others will not be as fortunate.  Today's paper began with about ten pages on people from all walks of life who will be doing it tough under the forthcoming budget.  

If there is an upside to the budget's effect on me, it will be that it will force me to be far more considered about my discretionary spending and also to make what I have stretch that little bit further.  Important life skills, even without the pressure from the Government for us all to help get back to surplus ASAP.

Speaking of stretch and our Treasurer Joe Hockey - $52 pairs of Joe's Jeans The Skinny were also part of the Saks Off 5th haul that landed me that frock featured under paragraph two above.  I think Joe's are my new favourite denim brand beginning with J - knocking J Brand off its long held perch.

Okay, that wasn't the most helpful thing to write after my Budget comments.  Sorry.

I'm going to shift gears for the rest of this post and do a kind of Orlando trip catch up.  I wonder how far will I get without another reference to what I bought?  People have asked about the outlets so I'm going to include my thoughts further down in the post.  Hope they help.

Getting used to being at street level and being able to see my feet when sitting in a car.  And the winter woollens and North Face puffery.

As opposed to the taxis in Orlando with their passenger seats three steps off the ground and diamensions not too far off an ambulance.

This last week of living large in Orlando has left me recharged and lightly tanned.  Thank you for all your kind comments about the Disney posts.  I'm so glad you enjoyed the photos and I apologise for my lack of replies whilst I was away.

For the record, the total weight of my checked in luggage was 54kg.  Which means clothes and shoes weigh much less than I usually give them credit for.  I have a habit of taking off a kilogram whenever I weigh people (like myself) dressed in their day clothes and shoes. I do wonder though, if anyone has ever hit the total baggage allowance I was allocated.  What does 96kg of Stateside shopping look like?

One of the most interesting packaged foods I ate was a Smucker's Uncrustables Peanut Butter and Grape Jelly sandwich.  I wonder how they got the bread to stay as soft as it does?  For the curious, both pieces of bread are thickly spread with peanut butter before they are brought together to sandwich one layer of grape jam, which didn't taste as fake as I thought it would.  For some strange reason, I always assumed that peanut butter and jelly sandwiches were made with strawberry jam.  It was an interesting eat but I'm still more of fan of peanut butter and honey.

Butterfingers are my favourite American chocolate bars. Hands down, or up against a backdrop of a resort pool as the case may be.

These two chocolate bars are one of the few things I didn't buy from an outlet.  The geography of the area of Orlando we were staying in is that the resorts tend to be self contained with anything non resort related being at least a 15 minute taxi or bus ride away.  The nearest non outlet shopping centre was half an hour away so we didn't venture there when there were such good bargains to be had closer to home.

Drive by photo of the Orlando Premium Outlets, Vineland Avenue.
There are two branches of the Orlando Premium Outlets in the Disney area - Vineland Avenue and International Drive.  They are part of a global chain of Premium Outlets that include the fabled Waikele Premium Outlets of my last trip to the US.  Vineland Avenue is closer to the Walt Disney Swan and Dolphin hotels, around 15 minutes by taxi ($20 USD) versus International Drive which is half an hour away ($50 - $60 USD).  There is a shuttle service between the hotels and Vineland Avenue.

I've already told you to roll a suitcase along with you when shopping but the other hot tip is to ask at your hotel reception for a coupon that you redeem for an offer booklet at the information desk of the outlets.  Most stores have an offer in this brochure, commonly an additional 10% off your purchase.  I understand it ordinarily costs $5 USD for the brochure.

Price wise, most things began at 50 - 60% of US retail prices and with the added discounts from the brochure and the bonus discounts stores often had on the days we were shopping (how convenient), I was paying a quarter to a half (at the most) of Australian retail prices for or what would be considered premium brands in Australia.  What I bought was at most a couple of seasons behind the regular US stores but most importantly my purchases were items that were exactly what I was looking for and needed in my wardrobe.  I don't know about you but I have zero luck at the Australian fashion outlets because many of the stores seem to be filled with clothes well past their best before date.

Both outlet centres feature a range of food hall dining options and curiously, for the size of them, only one place that sells barista type coffee.  And you guessed it, it's Starbucks.  There are vegetarian options available but be warned, most of the food on offer is hot, fried and served with chips.

More about the stores.  Vineland Avenue features more designer boutiques than International Drive though there are more stores at International.  I'm talking DVF at 50% of US RRP, Prada, Marni, Burberry, Fendi and Tory Burch off the top of my head.  I think the outlets only run a season or so behind what's on offer at the flagship stores.  So the down side is no crazy 80% off reductions but what is on offer is great quality and still represents a significant saving on what you would pay in Australia.  That being said, I avoided the designer stores because the temptation of an $180 DVF wrap dress was too great and that same $180 bought me six J Crew pieces further down the way.

Vineland also straddles a main road, you need to cross at a police supervised pedestrian crossing to get to Forever 21, The North Face, Saks off Fifth and Gap.  Stock was slightly different between the stores common to both outlet centres.  I did find International Drive easier to navigate and it appeared to have more stock but having said that, I found my size in what I wanted at both locations.

With regard to shoes (Toddler SSG and I were neck to neck on the footwear count, we ended up with low double digits each), recent season stock is usually displayed in the centre of each store and you help yourself.  Socks and stockings are available.  The back and sides of the store often house the last pairs of designs and are arranged by size.  There are often pretty good finds here too.

There is a vitamin and supplement health store, Vitamin World which offers brand named products at close to 50% of what you'd pay in Australia.  For the record, the lady at customs told me that you don't need to declare processed foods from America so go for gold with those kiddy chewable vitamins and protein bars.

If there were any stores that I found disappointing, they were the cosmetic outlets and Victoria's Secret.  Their stock was made up of old season items and in the case of VS, none of the staple bras I was desperately in need of.

My finest fast food moment of the trip was this Chick-Fil-A meal at Orlando Airport on the way home.

Famed for their chicken sandwiches, I was also in awe of their fries and the generous number of ketchup and mayo sachets they gave me with my order.  What can I say, I could have overstayed my visa and just sat in the airport eating Chick-Fil-A.

Tina Fey's ad for American Express was the best thing I read in the numerous US magazines I got through on the plane.  I hope this means that Tina is going to release a follow up to Bossy Pants soon.

American Airlines have the best blankets.  They double as a wrap and go with everything.  It was a sad goodbye when I had to leave mine on the plane.

American also do a lovely freshly baked on the plane choc chip cookie, packed full of molten chocolate chips.  Life & Style ended up being my favourite magazine of the trip.  With reference to the cover story, I don't think they managed to confirm Kate's pregnancy but it was fun catching up on Kimye and Tori.

Being in transit in LAX is a life experience that is guaranteed to take years off your life.  Even with a glass or two of Californian Chandon on board.  There are shuttle buses that need to be taken to your new terminal, the queuing points are often difficult to see and it's a bit vague as to who's entitled to enter which lounge.  I'm not alone in my views, unfortunately.

Having said that, the new Tom Bradley terminal at LAX looks stunning.  There's marble and dynamic flat screen installations everywhere.  Again, the Victoria's Secret outlet is a bra free zone, just like in Sydney.

The retail precinct is mainly spendy boutiques and a DFS.  DFS duty free purchases are delivered to your gate and you pick them up as you board.  I stocked up on Kiehl's, MAC and Jo Malone.  By my dodgy calculation, prices are around 30% below Australian retail for Kiehl's and Jo Malone with MAC being around half the price.

Whoops, there ended up being a whole lot of shopping talk in this post but at least it was shopping in the context of saving.


  1. Welcome home xT

  2. I greatly enjoyed following along with your shopping on isntagram, so enjoyed this post too! :)

    The budget is so frustrating, but I've been (trying) to slow my purchases and thing more carefully about what I buy for a while so hopefully we won't have to make any massive changes. I'm sure baby will keep me pretty pre-occupied and away from online stores anyway. Not that they are anywhere near the bargain prices you found in the outlets! :)

    1. Thank you for enjoying rather than being nauseated by all the shopping, Mica! :-P

      SSG xxx

  3. Ha! My blast post was about shopping too!
    SFO kicks the butt of LAX. But I will soon be going to LHR via HKG. Both good airports, but one of my faves is SIN.

    And yes, we are lucky. I fear for this country. x

    1. I know, right - about the shopping and sadly, also our country.

      SSG xxx

  4. Living vicariously through you! Enjoyed your posts on IG, looks like a lot of fun!

  5. How does the Uncrustable bread stay so soft? An obscene amount of sugar in the bread dough.


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