Armchair shopping – part 2

There are 2 things that give me a cheap thrill. One is getting a really good discount, and the other is receiving a parcel in the mail. I came home and was delighted to see that the items I ordered in Armchair shopping – part 1 had arrived!

I had ordered from a few different online sites and I used comGateway to ship all my items back. Let me run you through the steps from where I left off in Armchair shopping – part 1. Each time a package arrived at comGateway, I would be alerted via email. They offer 30 days free storage which allows ample time for all the packages to arrive. I then clicked on Ready to Ship and the shipping charges were calculated. Some merchants may not have provided the value of the goods, so you have to input the value. Do check the merchant invoices to ensure that all your items are in order as some merchants split up their delivery.

If you are sharing shipping with friends, it is easy to calculate each person’s share of shipping charges as they display the total weight as well as the breakdown of the different merchants by chargeable weight. Enter any promo code only after payment details. You can use both the 10% discount and the express service (in your welcome pack) at the same time. Just input the promo codes one after another. You will be given the expected delivery date.

The Munchkin Projector and Sound System which I mentioned in Armchair shopping – part 1 costs US$25 with a shipping charge of $12. I just love it! When Kate refuses to go into her room at bedtime especially when there are guests around, my helper will turn it on for her and she will stop crying and get into her crib.

Here’s what I got from See Jane Work. These lovely blue pencils are just perfect for my Family Command Centre.

Basic Pencils – Ocean (Set of 10) $7

I always need to divide my notebooks into different categories but the dividers I buy here are plastic which I don’t like. These are made of paper and I love the assortment of colours! My girls saw these tabs and they all wanted some.

Sticky Tab Markers $8

Every time we go on a family holiday, I have to either verbally tell all of them what to pack or they will ask me and then make their own lists. This Pack This! list will save us a lot of trouble, not to mention help us make sure we have everything we need. I just love lists!

Pack This! Knock Knock Pad $7

In Armchair shopping – part 1, I mentioned that my sister-in-law had been ordering her Aveda products online as they were much cheaper. I ordered the 1 Litre Aveda shampoo and the 200ml conditioner. The shampoo that I got costs US$74, but with a shipping charge of $20, it came up to S$116, which was only 10% cheaper. I was disappointed as the savings was insignificant, and my SIL  concluded that it could be because the Aveda shampoos are priced differently in the US but the price difference here among the ranges are smaller, so she got a better discount for her type of shampoo. However, for the conditioner, I had a good savings of about 40%. It costs US$17 and with a shipping of $4, it came up to $26. 

I also found some other very useful items for Kate. Some of the websites only do wholesale, so I went into Amazon to purchase them.
When we go out for meals with the grandparents, the meal easily lasts one and a half hours. The only way I can get Kate to sit in her high chair for that long is to give her finger food which she feeds herself with. However, I find that in many restaurants, the high chair is not as clean as I would like it to be. Just last week, I gave her finger food off the high chair table (which I had cleaned with wet wipes) and that evening, she had diarrhoea. My mom was just telling me that I should find a little tray with suction pads that I could stick on the table in front of her. And I found this! It’s a thin sheet of plastic with 2 strips of tape underneath it. I just stick it on the table in front of Kate and she can eat her finger food off it. Apparently this company, Neat Solutions for Kids was started in 1996 when a mom came up with this product after her baby threw the placemat onto the floor and started to eat her finger food off the restaurant table. They come in several different prints.

Baby Einstein Biodegradable Table Topper Disposable Stick-on Placemat US$5 (18 sheets)

Another gripe I had was that sometimes the sides of the high chair is rather sticky or oily, especially in places where it is very crowded and the staff don’t get a chance to give the chairs a good cleaning. I found this high chair cover which simply drapes over the chair! It has 2 holes at the back to insert the safety belt, and 2 holes for her legs to go through. It even has a strap to hang a toy on, and a pocket to store wet wipes. The sides have velcro so you can pull the material over the chair and velcro it all nicely in place. It folds up into a compact built-in pouch, and it is machine-washable. I found this on Amazon. There are a few different brands of high chair covers but I just got the cheapest.

BRICA Deluxe High Chair Cover US$14
This company manufactures a wide variety of practical and safety products for babies. It was started by a mom whose son almost fell off a high chair. I purchased the safety strap, which is a wide strap that can be used to fasten baby from almost any chair, including supermarket trolley seats and restaurants. It is handy to take with you everywhere as sometimes you may find that the restaurant highchair has a missing buckle. I have to take it with me all the time as Kate always tries to stand up on the supermarket trolley seat.

Leachco Wrap Strap Plush Anywhere Safety Strap Pink US$13

I have also compiled a list of some other websites:
For those who travel frequently with young children, this is very useful. It is a slipcover liner for playpens. Cover Play Yard was started by a mom who requested for a play pen for her room when she stayed at a hotel. But when it came, it was so filthy she sent it back. She wondered why no one had designed a slipcover which could be taken off and washed and used again.
This safety gate is retractable! Great to keep out of sight if guests are coming and baby is already in bed. Or for grandma’s place where the toddler only comes over occasionally. It is also suitable for pets. A rather practical item that is not too pricy at $100+.
My Precious Kid produces items designed for special needs children such as Autism safety products and items such as tracking devices, toilet lid locks and toddler harnesses.
If you like the baby swaddle brand aden + anais at mothercare, you can browse their whole beautiful collection at their website. They even have a Hello Kitty range. They also do printed crib sheets and blankets for bigger kids. Apparently it is endorsed by Kate Middleton! Gorgeous stuff.
If you are looking for toys and want something similar to lego but more fun, the Block-N-Roll will fit the bill. It’s like a Lego set with a marble course. The kids will have hours of fun creating all sorts of structures with marble courses. This is compatible with other building sets.
For something educational, do check out Zometool. With a single set, you can create models from the simple to the profound. It encourages children to create and design, and it is suitable for ages 6 and up. Great for future architects! I’m sure the dads will love to join the kids in this one… which would leave the moms with more ‘me’ time 😉
For a general website for all sorts of stuff for children, you can check this one out. You input perimeters like age, gender and budget to narrow down your search.
Jessica Alba started this company in 2012 to offer safe, stylish, yet affordable items for baby. She offers natural products for baby, bath, and cleaning.

These are some websites for pricier items…
My Blankee manufactures blankets and clothes for babies and kids with sensitive skin. It started with the owner’s son being born with eczema and he was allergic to nearly all fabric. His father who was in the textile business made it his mission to find hypoallergenic clothing for his son. Besides clothes and blankets, the company now sells a wide array of products including bibs, towels, pajamas, hats and pillows.
Ralph Lauren’s Baby range is just so adorable. I absolutely love the Terry Hooded Towel (under the Personalized Gift section) which you can personalise with the baby’s name. Would make a terrific gift.
If you’re looking for exquisite gifts or baby shower packages visit this oh-so-lovely site.

Sane tip: Now that I’ve finally gotten into online shopping, I’ve realised that there are a lot of clever products out there which makes our lives easier.

Save tip: It’s cheaper to consolidate your items and ship them back together as the first 0.5kg costs US$11 while every additional 0.5kg costs US$2.85. But remember not to exceed S$400 inclusive of freight charges as GST will be levied. comGateway is offering us 5% off International Shipping charges from now till 31 Dec 2013*. When you first sign up with them, you will be offered a welcome pack which gives you 10% off your first shipping. From your 2nd shipping onwards, you get 5% discount. The promo code can be found in mummywee facebook page. ‘Like’ us to receive future updates. Happy shopping!

~ – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

Armchair shopping – part 1

I have never shopped online as I thought it was just too complicated, and even if there was some savings to be had, it wouldn’t be significant to warrant all that hassle. However, my sister-in-law (SIL) is an avid online shopper and she kept showing me her buys. I was surprised to find that even after shipping costs are factored in, some things are much cheaper than buying from the malls. And we haven’t even factored in ERP, car park charges and petrol or cab fare. And of course, the time spent travelling there and back.

There is some further discount off these original prices

Let me give you an example. My SIL just received her latest shipment of clothes for her 18-month old daughter. She bought 6 items from Ralph Lauren, and they cost her about S$165, inclusive of shipping charges (she bought several other items as well to ship back together, as shipping charges is a tiered system – more about that in tips later). That works out to be about $27 per item. It would have easily cost her a few hundred dollars at the mall. Kate can look forward to new hand-me-downs 🙂

Ok, that sounded pretty good. But I wasn’t intending to buy Ralph Lauren anytime soon. Besides RL, she also shops from Carter’s, Gap and Oshkosh as you can get the latest collection at reduced prices, and even more savings during their seasonal sales. She also looks out for promo codes to get further discounts. Other than clothes, what else did she buy? She showed me this item from Munchkin which she felt is her best buy so far. It is the Munchkin Nursery Projector and Sound System. 

When her daughter refuses to lie down in her crib, she turns the projector on and her daughter will lie quietly and watch the images on the ceiling. Besides the projections, this machine also emits sounds including lullabies, Mozart music, white noise, heartbeat sound etc. You can set it on timer for 15, 30 or 60 minutes.

The images can either be projected on the ceiling or walls

It also has a voice activation option whereby it will turn itself on when the baby cries! It also has a night light if you need to change your baby’s diaper. This oh-so-practical little machine costs just US$25! Amazing. (You do need an adaptor for this). I was hunting high and low for a white noise machine for Kate as her room is right next to the stairs and she gets woken up easily with all the noise. The only thing I managed to find was a bear toy that emitted white noise and lullaby sounds (which was much too soft to mask the outside noise especially when we have friends over) and it cost more than $50, so I didn’t buy it. This multi-tasker is such a bargain!

This is the top view of the projector cum sound machine

I was sold on the idea of online shopping and this is going to be my first buy. My SIL instructed me to set up an account with comGateway which she uses. It is a local freight company which will help you ship your shopping back here. When you sign up with them, you will get a US address (much like a locker in their US warehouse). 

Why do we need to use a freight company?

  1. This allows you to buy from sites which only allow shipping within the US. 
  2. Even with sites which does international shipping, using a freight company is usually much cheaper than their in-house shipping charges (except on occasions where they have a promotion like ‘50% off international shipping’).
  3. If you were going to buy from a few different shops, you can consolidate your buys and ship them all together via comGataway, which would be cheaper than shipping them back individually. They offer free storage of your packages up to 30 days while you wait for the other packages to arrive.
  4. If your items arrive in very big boxes, they will even help you repack your shopping. Or if you want to pack multiple items together into a single box, they will do it too, for a nominal charge. Just drop them an email.

So I got started. I created an account with comGateway, and was pleasantly surprised that they have a ‘Welcome pack’ whereby I will get 10% off my 1st shipping. They guide you through the steps, and I found it easy to follow. 

I went into Amazon (which is like a huge mall carrying all sorts of brands) and typed in Munchkin projector under ‘Search’. They will list all the ‘shops’ which carry that item. There will be a slight price variation. Some will be more expensive but includes Free shipping within the U.S. I chose the one at $25 with Free shipping. I keyed in the U.S. address for the Shipping address and for the Billing address I put my Singapore home address. During payment, you will have an option of which currency to pay in. Your credit card will probably give you a better rate than the merchant, so I chose to shop in USD. That’s it! Done! It will be shipped to my comGateway address in about a week.

Now that I had made my first purchase from a U.S. store, I was getting quite excited. I love this website called See Jane Work where I go to check out their products and admire their stylish workspaces. Their stuff is more high end and I never browsed with the intention of buying as I thought it couldn’t be shipped here. Now, I can shop there! I bought myself a ‘Pack This’ pad at $7 (those who read my Family Command Centre post will know how much I love such pads). I also allowed myself to indulge in a set of 10 beautiful ocean blue pencils for $7. Well, my consolation was that I managed to restrain myself from buying many of the more expensive items. I will show you the other items I bought when they arrive 🙂 

My SIL always buys up to a maximum of S$400 at one go as there is no GST below that amount, and it would be the most cost effective for shipping. She suggested I buy some toiletries as they are much cheaper online. She uses Aveda products and literally buys them by the litre. I have also just started to use Aveda as I have finally realised that my hair is in need of some tender loving care. For the past 15 years, it was a quick shampoo (of the cheap supermarket kind) and that was it. I didn’t even have time for conditioner or any other products. I’m going to give Aveda a go and see if it’s going to make a difference. 

My SIL buys Aveda products by the litre

I went back into and searched under Aveda. The conditioner that I use costs me $46 here for a 200ml tube. In Amazon, it costs US$18 (S$24)! Even with shipping costs, it was a good 35% discount! The 1L bottle was an even better deal. It costs $150 here and in amazon it’s about 45% cheaper, inclusive of shipping. I ended up buying both the shampoo and conditioner.

This tiny 200ml tube costs $46 here!

A friend shared that she likes Martha Stewart’s organisational diaries and she intends to buy them on her trip to the U.S. I took a look at her website and was amazed that she does have a huge array of products to help moms keep everything in order. And they are much more affordable than See Jane Work. When I clicked on an item to start buying, they asked for my zip code. I keyed it in, and it said Free Shipping for orders above $19.99. I’m beginning to love this!!

Tips for online shopping:

  1. Set your country to U.S when you are in the store’s website
  2. Shop in U.S. Dollars as your credit card usually offers you a better exchange rate than the merchant
  3. Check for the “https” or the padlock as these indicate that your details are secure
  4. Keep your credit card details secret in all email correspondence
  5. GST is payable when your total purchase + shipping exceeds S$400
  6. Shipping charges (standard): First 0.5kg US$11. Every additional 0.5kg US$2.85. It makes sense to consolidate all your packages up to S$400 before asking comGateway to ship it back together.

Sane tip: If we don’t get carried away, I think online shopping is just wonderful. It really cuts down my time going down to town and searching for a particular item I need. Especially if Takashimaya doesn’t have what I want, I have to run around to Motherswork, Robinsons or Isetan. In the websites, I can easily narrow down my search to – Kids: clothes 1-2 years girls, or Toys: toddlers. I can also get many products exclusive to the U.S.

Save tip: I contacted comGateway to see if they could do anything special for us, and I’m delighted to say that they are offering 5% off international shipping charges from now till 31 Dec 2013!* (Remember, there is 10% off your first shipping in your welcome pack when you sign up. From your 2nd shipping onwards, you get 5% off till the end of the year). The promo code can be found in mummywee facebook page. ‘Like’ us while you’re there to receive future updates. Happy shopping! 

*Terms & conditions apply
(pls refer to mummywee facebook page for T&C)

Do share with us any other websites which you love! I will try to consolidate a list in Armchair shopping – part 2 for everyone to enjoy 🙂

~ – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~