FEBRUARY BUYING GUIDE

January may be the month for snagging the greatest post-holiday deals, but February offers up some hefty discounts as well. Deals at the beginning of the month will likely be slim-pickins' due to Valentines Day, but after February 14, expect to see sales bounce back again. Get your Washingtons and Lincolns ready for Presidents' Day Sales, the best time to shop this month.

Most Presidents' Day Sales begin on Friday and run through the three-day weekend. It's somewhat of a sweet spot to shop as some retailers are struggling to liquidate straggling merchandise from last year, while others have a handful of new items in for the spring. Expect to save up to 85% off on clearanced items and 20-30% off on new-this-year merchandise.

Things to wait on:
  • Consumer electronics (MP3 players, DVD players, tablets, laptops) - on sale in March/April
  • Jewelry (highest prices of the year due to Valentine's Day)
  • Flowers and chocolates (highest prices of the year due to Valentine's Day)
  • Lingerie (highest prices of the year due to Valentine's Day)
  • Luggage (on sale in March)

Things to buy:

Winter clothing (sweaters, leggings, fleece, scarves, gloves, coats, boots) - See more at: http://www.cincywhimsy.com/#sthash.NEoYiLPp.dpuf
Winter clothing (sweaters, leggings, fleece, scarves, gloves, coats, boots) - See more at: http://www.cincywhimsy.com/#sthash.NEoYiLPp.dpuf
Winter clothing (sweaters, leggings, fleece, scarves, gloves, coats, boots) - See more at: http://www.cincywhimsy.com/#sthash.NEoYiLPp.dpuf
Winter clothing (sweaters, leggings, fleece, scarves, gloves, coats, boots): Presidents' Day will be your last chance at discounted winter apparel until next year. Come March, it all gets marked out of stock and shipped back to the warehouse to make way for spring break attire 

TVs
: prior to Superbowl Sunday, search for television deals averaging $200 off


Indoor furniture (beds, couches, refrigerators and washer/dryers): Look for markdowns around Presidents' Day weekend

White Sale (towels, bed linens, pillows, blankets): Many white sales are continuing from January. These deals originated in department stores 1878 to entice customers to go shopping during slow retail months with discounts averaging 60-70% off.

Treadmills and ellipticals

Humidifiers

JANUARY BUYING GUIDE

The holidays may have exhausted your stamina for shopping, but don't get too comfy. A little-known secret of the retail industry is that January is the best time for consumers to find the greatest bargains. Most national retailers have a fiscal year that ends annually on January 31. That means it's time to clean house to make way for a whole new accounting period in addition to a whole new selection of wares for spring. The end of the fiscal year allows stores to deeply discount products to avoid taking a loss on any unsold merchandise.In short, that translates into "any money is better than no money." Consumers can find prices anywhere from 60-80% off during January, with substantial markdowns occurring during Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend.



While the majority of inventory is being ushered out the door, it's important to remember that not everything in a store may be on sale. Electronics, especially those released within a month or two of Christmas, will not be marked down. Wait until after new gadgets announced at the annual Consumer Electronics Show hit shelves in March for deep discounts on last year's models.

Things to wait on:
  • Exercise equipment and fitness clothes (on sale in the spring)
  • Luggage (on sale in September)
  • Grills and patio furniture (on sale in autumn)
  • Humidifiers (on sale in February)
  • MP3 players, DVD players, or laptops (on sale in spring)

So, what things can you find the best deals on in January?

Winter clothing (sweaters, leggings, fleece, scarves, gloves, coats, boots): pretty much any type of cold-weather fashion must go!

Designer handbags: making way for their spring color collection, end-of-year colors are now at 50-80% off

TVs: Traditionally, televisions go on sale two weeks before the Superbowl in February, but consumers can expect to find the best deals of the year as early as Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend.

Storage: Look for two-for-one sales on Rubbermade bins and other storage devices as folks pack up their holiday decorations. Speaking of...

Holiday decorations (Christmas trees, twinkle lights, ornaments, greeting cards, wrapping paper): stock up for next year with items 70-90% off. A friend recently purchased a giant pre-lit tree for $17 and got next year's box of 50 Christmas cards for $0.49

White Sale (towels, bed linens, pillows, blankets): A department store tradition that dates back to 1878,  linens are at their lowest price of the year in January. These sales originated to entice customers to go shopping during the slowest retail month of the year. Discounts average 60-70% off.

Winter sports equipment

Home furnishings: sofas, bed frames, bookshelves, storage

Mattresses: averaging 70% off

Tax preparation software: buy it now for discounts of up to 40% off; this deal won't be around in February

Take advantage of 25% off gift cards at GiftcardGranny.com (or sell your own unwanted gift cards from the holidays for cash.)

Another tip is to start searching for Valentine's Day gifts for your sweetheart amongst the Christmas sale leftovers. Jewelry, fragrances, and chocolate prices skyrocket during February due to the demand for the holiday, but right now, you can still find occasion-appropriate gifts at a fraction of the price. There's nothing more romantic than scoring the perfect present at a quarter of the cost... just as long as it's not a Santa Claus charm bracelet.


What are the best deals you've found this month? Leave a comment below!



 

DRIVING MISS DAISY AT THE CARNEGIE

From stage to screen to stage, The Carnegie presents the tale of the legendary Southern belle who wouldn't let age or changing times stand in her way. Driving Miss Daisy begins in 1948 Atlanta, Georgia, with 72-year-old Daisy Werthan returning home after totaling her second car in a matter of weeks. Too old to drive and too big of a risk for the insurance company, her son Boolie takes away Daisy's keys and hires a chauffeur: Hoke, an African American who previously worked as a driver for a judge.

Photo provided by The Carnegie, Mikki Schaffner

If you haven't seen the movie, you can probably tell where the plot is going: The South, Civil Rights era, an affluent white woman's independence now intertwined with a black man's career. Whether it was prejudice or stubbornness on accepting her age, Miss Daisy and Hoke get off to a rough start. Determined and optimistic, Hoke makes the best of the situation no matter how fussy Miss Daisy becomes. From trips to the Piggly Wiggly to longer journeys visiting relatives out-of-state, the pair form an unlikely friendship over the course of the next 25 years.

Photo provided by The Carnegie, Mikki Schaffner

Differing from the silver screen, The Carnegie interprets the most meaningful scenes from the film into a fast-paced 90-minute show. There are some significant plot points left out due to having a working cast of three, but the story comes together just as easily without. One thing I enjoyed was how the actors referred to different neighborhoods and streets in Atlanta, perfect to create a visual for anyone who has traveled there. Little Five Points? That's where you can grab a burger and beer at The Vortex. Forsyth Street? The new Atlanta Streetcar route crosses there. Small details like this gave the play a down-home feel; something that the film version overlooked.

Photo provided by The Carnegie, Mikki Schaffner

A simplistic set and minimal cast, The Carnegie pulls off an entertaining show without all the bells and whistles. Miss Daisy is portrayed by Dale Hodges, Cincinnati's Jessica Tandy. I've seen her in many roles as an older woman and she does a magnificent job whether tugging at the heartstrings or being a feisty curmudgeon. As Miss Daisy, she flawlessly pulls off both. Reggie Willis would make Morgan Freeman proud in his role of Hoke, who openly conveys the difficulties of being a black man in a white man's world. Likeable, honest, and loyal, Willis's character provides a stark contrast to Boolie, played by Randy Lee Bailey. The successful son at his wits end with his aging mother, Bailey delivers a strong supporting role showing that compassion makes a stranger more relatable than kin.

Driving Miss Daisy runs through Nov. 16 at The Carnegie in Covington
7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 3 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $25 adults, $18 students.
859-957-1940 and www.thecarnegie.com

50 YEARS OF PRESERVING CINCINNATI

Cincinnati Museum Center is kicking off their latest local exhibit with an elegant gala: both celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Cincinnati Preservation Association (CPA). The organization was started by three women dedicated to saving Native American and early settlement sites, then evolved their mission into saving entire neighborhoods.  Since 1964, the non-profit has worked buildings with historic architecture, public art, monuments and landscapes, as well as archaeological sites. One of their several current focuses, in addition to advocating for Union Terminal repairs, is restoring the historic neighborhood of Walnut Hills.



If you've visited Over-the-Rhine, it's likely that you've passed by or enjoyed a meal in one of the buildings saved by the CPA. They've worked along side developers to rehabilitate:
  • Renaissance Hotel, Downtown
  • The Color Building on Vine Street, home to Asian fusion restaurant, Kaze.
  • Nicolay Lofts and Westfalen Lofts, at Race and 14th Street
  • Hummel Building, condos located adjacent to Washington Park and Music Hall

    The new grey facade of the Hummel Building.

The former is where they'll be hosting the gala, November 8 at 7:00PM. Taking place in the Marriott Renaissance, Burnham Room C, the evening kicks off with cocktails at 6:00PM, followed by a gourmet dinner at 7:30PM. Tickets are available via phone (513-721-4506 Ext. 2) for $150 per person.


On a budget? Be sure to check out the FREE exhibit, Celebrating 50 Years of Working Together Saving Places at Cincinnati Museum Center in the Culture Gallery, located near the Historical Library in the center of the rotunda, lower level. The installment runs through April 5, 2015.

CUCINOVA URBAN ITALIAN

Hailing from Columbus, Ohio, a new restaurant opened up in Kenwood this month, and it easily made its way onto my favorite tastes list. Cucinova moved into the shopping center near Half Price Books on Montgomery Road, and is serving up first tastes of the franchise in Cincinnati's northern suburbs.



Taking form in the popular walk-the-line, fast casual restaurant (similar to Chipolte), Cucinova cooks up custom creations in the form of personal Neapolitan pizzas, salads, and pasta bowls. Diners can opt for a chef-created specialty off the menu or build their own meal at each station. The best part: whatever you choose and however many toppings you pile on, it's only $6.99.



I visited Cucinova for a tasting night and sampled all three options, building each myself. I like to stretch the limits with toppings and was curious how the structural integrity of the pizza would hold up -- it succeeded! Made with hand-stretched, scratch-made dough, the pizza crust was full, fluffy and baked to perfection. If you like Dewey's pizza crust, you'll love this. Sliced into six pieces, I piled on plenty of veggies, seven to be exact, and opted for half red sauce, half creamy parmasean sauce, drizzled with balsamic. Both were spectacular, but the latter half was easily my favorite.


Next, the spaghettini bowl came with just the right amount of pasta and plenty of room to pile on the extras, plus sauce and cheese. I loved being able to fill the bowl with as much vegetables as pasta to even out the meal. Both the pasta and salad come in two sizes, small and large. The small was the perfect size to complement my other entrees; I could easily see doing a pick two with both a small pasta and a salad for lunch.

There's pasta under there somewhere...

I also built a salad with just as many veggies heaped on top of the lettuce, plus two kinds of cheese, and a plank of salmon. I'm pretty picky about ordering fish from quick service restaurants, and this one exceeded expectations. The salmon was fresh and juicy, not frozen and reheated, and flaked apart as if it were straight from the sea. I never thought I would pick a salad over pasta or pizza, but this was by far my favorite thing of the night -- and the bowl that I emptied first.



If you haven't been to Cucinova yet, here's a reason to give it a try:
I'm giving away a $25 gift certificate to the restaurant to one lucky winner! To join, leave a comment on our Cucinova Facebook post and I'll pick a winner October 31! Now that's a Halloween treat everyone can enjoy.