Zhu Zhu Pets Found! Where to find them!
 Added on Dec 21, 2009 by Betsy    

I found Zhu Zhu Pets this weekend.  After a call from my Midwestern sister that her daughter was desperate for a battery operated rodent, I put my skills to work trying to find one.  After all, while vermin are novel and adorable in the Midwest, in NYC kids don't need more mice in their lives.

The first thing I did was call the Toys R Us in Times Square, which proved pointless.  All of their employees are too busy pushing tickets to the indoor Ferris Wheel with a priceless view of the diaper department to answer the phone.

I really didn't want to go there.  Times Square is a very cool place if you go once.  Times Square is not as cool when that is where your Toys R Us is.  Most people don't have to turn down double-decker bus rides and leap frog over Canadians drunk on electricity to buy a Barbie.

So before riding 2 subways and a bus to electric lady land I thought I would just try the local overpriced toy store that people don't really shop at.  I think every town has one of these.  Our store is called The Toy Zone at State News and is located on 86th st. on the Upper East Side between Lex and Park.

The shop owner proudly directed me to a mega display of ZhuZhu wonder.  He told me the individual hamsters sold out the first day, but for 39.99 I could buy a play house & track set that comes with a hamster in the box.  This seemed like a lot, especially when PetSmart is across the street and I could probably get the same cat toy for 12.99, but being a good Auntie I bought it. 

I had him double bag it so I wouldn't be thumped by a hamster crazed tourist in Times Square and jumped on the train.

At Toys R Us, I disappointed the staff by turning down a ticket to the big wheel and asked where the Zhu Zhus were.  They pointed to a bank of registers where under the protection of Geoffrey's soldiers was a pile of hamster robots 40 high. 

They have every flavor of hamster as well as the he gigantic play set that was selling on Ebay for nearly $300.

The bummer part, I waited in line for 40 minutes to get my kids one of the $10 hamsters.  The awesome part, I didn't pay $30 for my roborat.

Oops! Must not have gotten the response!

Tags: Zhu Zhu Pets  ZhuZhu Pets  Squiggles  Toys R US Times Square  roborat  

How to Get FREE Saturday Night Live Tickets
 Added on Dec 12, 2009 by Betsy    

After spending a pre-dawn December morning on a freezing New York City sidewalk, I have some tips for scoring those elusive SNL tickets.

Before I go into the standby ticket process, I will tell you about the normal ticket process. In the month of August you send an email to snltickets@nbcuni.com which enters you into a drawing. After going down to NBC studios in Rockafeller center and talking to the pages who manage the ticket distribution for standbys, your chances of getting tickets through this method are about 5%.

If you are lucky enough to get tickets through the drawing you will be notified in September. There are 2 different shows every Saturday night, one is the dress rehearsal which is held around 8:30 and of course the live taping. You will be issued tickets for one of these if you are lucky enough to get tickets at all. You have no control over the date of the show you will attend and they will only give you 2 tickets, which sucks if you have more than one friend.If you have not heard and September has passed then you have no chance of getting tickets for that year, in other words tickets for 2009-2010 season have already been distributed and are no longer available.

However that weird method of distribution which seems so frustrating leaves a door open to getting tickets another way. That is by stand by.

Now NBC has already sent out the almost 300 tickets for each show, but that doesn't mean that the recipient who registered in August can afford to go in April or they might get tickets on their Great Aunts 97th birthday and be guilted into spending that particular date eating rice pudding with MeeMaw rather than at SNL.

NBC has no idea how many people will be attending a taping. So they do not ever know how many stand by ticket holders will get in.

My friend and I stopped by Friday morning and asked what time people line up, we were told people sleep out under the Rainbow Room sign. We decided that since it was December and Blake Lively was the host it was safe to come at around 4am and at least sleep some in a bed.

When we arrived at 4am, there was a line of people sleeping in camp chairs. The line didn't seem that long though so we stood out waiting for that magic time of 7am standby ticket distribution. This gave me plenty of time to interview the other people in line about their experience.

One guy had come to Taylor Swift's show a few weeks prior and waited for stand by tickets. He was 123rd in line and not realizing there was really no shot of him getting into either show he came back at 11:00 at night only to be sent home. We also learned that the first people in line had lined up at 11:30 AM Friday, just before lunch and set up camp.

We also discussed strategy, as a stand by you have a choice of getting dress rehearsal or live taping tickets. There were different theories on which were better tickets, or which would be more likely to get you in. Some said they had heard the dress rehearsal is more fun since the cast is more relaxed than at the live show.

My friend and I decided to choose the show that had the least amount of stand by tickets given out already. This seemed like a sound plan until it was 7am and we were presented with the option of number 38 & 39 for the dress rehersal or 44 & 45 for the live taping. So that means that even lining up at 4am we were 71st and 72nd in line. We impulsively chose the live show since it didn't seem like all that big of a difference. We had to be back at 10:45 and line up in order.

At 10:35, we walked by all those lucky people who got tickets in the drawing last year and lined up. While waiting I quizzed the page on the odds, she said that sometimes there is only 1 standby seat open and one night there were 90 so it just depends. I asked her how many people got into the dress rehersal, she told me 6 which means a lot of people sleeping on that sidewalk didn't get in.

The page also told us that the seats on the floor that are regular chairs that you sometimes see in the wide shots on TV are reserved for NBC corporate execs or celebrities. They are not for the public since they have direct access to the stage. Instead the general audience sit in stadium seats in the back.

The people with the reserved seats were in a roped area directly across from us and we did see Brian Baumgartner, who plays Kevin on The Office.

After 11:00 they pulled the first 30 standby ticket holders through security. It was repeatedly announced that the first 30 will be taken upstairs but this is no guarantee of getting a seat, that the first 30 always get to go up and then they will fill in seats and either call for more standbys or send the remainders home.

After another 10 minutes of standing there, we were told "Thanks, We Don't Need Anyone Else".

Lessons from the experience, if this is on your bucket list plan on lining up at lunch time Friday and sleeping there, I would try to be first or second or it isn't worth your time.

Oops! Must not have gotten the response!

Tags: American Girl Doll  SNL Tickets  Free New York City  Saturday Night Live Tickets  TV Show Tickets  

Good Advice on Finding American Girl Dolls for Cheap Online
 Added on Oct 25, 2008 by betsy    

I have some advice for you guys if you are hunting online for  American Girl items on the cheap.  My daughter has 7 of the dolls and I also buy them all the time to sell.  The most I have ever paid for a doll is $30, but that was for Lindsey the first girl of the year which I sold for $250.  The last one I bought was Elizabeth for $1, the lady didn't care because her overindulgent mother-in-law had bought it as a gift for her daughter.  People always ask me how do you find American Girl stuff at garage sales?

Well, this is how:

1. Craigslist, if you just go onto Craigslist for your local area and click the link for "for sale" type "American Girl" into the search box at the top of the page.  You will find American Girl dolls not only for sale in the "items for sale" section but also the garage sale section.  Since Craigslist is free and newspapers charge per word some people go into great detail in their listings and by typing "American Girl" into that top search box you will pull up all the listings that have American Girl stuff.  Another bonus of finding it at a garage sale, no shipping cost!

People also are selling American Girl stuff in the classified and while some is kinda high Ebay priced, I found a woman selling 6 dolls and an Armoire for $125 for everything, she was a mom who thought played with dolls werent worth much and didnt want to mess with Ebay.  Check this frequently because there are frequent posts and the stuff goes fast!

2. Ebay, I know everyone says Ebay is so expensive.  Well, I have to tell you when I need $40 for groceries I put up American Girl dolls for buy it now $40.  So when you are searching on Ebay, modify your search by checking the "Buy It Now" listings box on the left side of the page and "Just Listed" as well- if someone puts up Jess for $45 it will be gone fast.

Also for some reason people call American Girl stuff AG on Ebay, as though the Ebay search bot magically knows that this is American Girl, so if you type AG doll into the search box you are going to get a lot of homemade clothes a gramma made that "fit AG dolls" but you will also find dolls listed without American Girl in the title which are going to have way fewer people finding them and thus have a lower sales price.

Some sellers list dolls as Pleasant Company, some sellers think Pleasant is spelled Pleasent, a frequent mistake so check that too.  Sellers also sometimes only list the dolls name like their whole title will be "Kit doll" no AG/American Girl/Pleasant Company. So keep an eye out for that.

3.  Did you know that Goodwill ( as in the thrift store/charity) has their own auction site?  When people bring in great stuff sometimes they pull it to the side and put it up on their auction site.  If you go to shopgoodwill.com there is a round search icon on the top right of the page, click that then type in American Girl or Pleasant Company and there are always dolls on this site.  You do have to register for to use the site, but it is a pretty easy Ebay-esque type of deal. 

One of the most frequent stores selling their American Girl stuff this way: the Madison, WI store where the annual outlet sale used to be held and just down the road from  Middleton, WI where the company began and where the outlet store is and the current annual sale is held.

Oops! Must not have gotten the response!

Tags: American Girl  Pleasant Company  American Girl Doll  Doll of the Year  

How to Clean American Girl Doll Skin
 Added on Aug 23, 2008 by Betsy    

   Dont you just hate it when you see that promising peek of tan cloth body at a garage sale and get all excited only to find the poor American Girl doll you have pulled out of the stuffed animal bin looks like it should be begging for 35 cents a day on late night tv?
How do you remove that gross layer of kid grub from AG skin?

I use Magic Erasers, they are totally remove the gross grimey stuff leaving clean limbs behind.

How do you fix their hair?

My mother advises washing doll hair in fabric softener so I am going to give it a whirl on the old Pleasant Company Molly I bought for a dollar today.  I will let you know what I find.

Oops! Must not have gotten the response!

Tags: American Girl  Clean American Girl Doll  Pleasant Company  

Off Topic - Betsy Stand-up Rehearsal
 Added on Jul 22, 2008 by Betsy    

Resale Queen - Stand-up Rehearsal
Length: 5:45

This is a recording of Betsy's final rehearsal for her first open mic stand-up.

It's as close as you will get to hearing what Betsy delivered last night at the Comedy Shrine in Naperville.

I'm told that she killed.

Congrats, Baby!

Oops! Must not have gotten the response!

Tags: Comedy Shrine  Naperville  Betsy Smith  stand-up  

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