Sunday, January 31, 2010

Negro Dialect - What is that?

I've written several articles and essays over the years about my thoughts on the subject of "Speaking White" and I felt the need to address it again after the whole "Negro dialect" comment sparked an uproar a few weeks ago.

Mid-January Democratic Senator Harry Reid made some comments in regards to President Barack Obama and his way of speaking.  Although, I'm sure in his world, he thought what he was saying was meant to be a positive comment, it wasn't.  But really, who even uses the word "Negro" anymore.  I've heard German and Russian people who aren't Westernized use it but in the United States, the word Negro has been practically obsolete since the early 70s. (except for on the 2010 Census, but that's another story)

 Below is a paragraph from discussing Reid's comments, to read the entire article click here.

"He [Reid] was wowed by Obama's oratorical gifts and believed that the country was ready to embrace a black presidential candidate, especially one such as Obama -- a 'light-skinned' African American 'with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one,' " Halperin and Heilemann say.

Let me begin by talking about my own experience with proper speech.  Growing up, I had friends of all races and from different cultures and we were taught the King's English, as it's so often referred.  If you blind-folded someone and tried to have them guess as to the ethinicity of the children, they would've had no idea because we all sounded the same and we liked it that way.

Over the years, speaking sproper English was all that I knew.  If someone was new to the school and pronounced words incorrectly our teachers would correct them.  You'd never hear a child say "ax" instead of ask or "pacific" instead of specific, that wasn't tolerated.  We rarely used slang and if we did, it was only in front of each other, we wouldn't dare use it in front of our teachers or our parents.  Boy have times changed.

When I went to high school, I decided to venture out because I didn't want to go to my local school, instead I attended a neighboring school that focused on Science & Technology.  The very first week at my new school I knew I was in for a different experience.  While my cohorts in the Science & Tech program were very similar when it came to the way we spoke, the neighborhood kids or "the locals" as we called them (shaking my head) had an entirely different way of speaking.  It was amazing how differently we spoke even though we lived only 10 minute radius from one another.  If you're from the DC area you know what I'm talking about. For instance, area was pronounced ur-rea, Maryland - Mur-lin.  I refused to assimilate and continued to speak that way because that was not what I was taught. 

In high school, I'd alway get comments like "You talk White" or "Why do you speak so proper?"  It never bothered me when other Black people would say it, I just figured they weren't educated the same way I was, but that wasn't my concern.  It wasn't until I was older when White people would comment on the way I spoke, it was always "You're so articulate" or "you speak so well."  I grew to hate the word "articulate", not because I wasn't proud that I was able to speak well, but because people seem to think all Black people or African-Americans are supposed to sound the same.  I found it offensive because you'll NEVER hear a white person tell another white person that they're articulate.  It's just unheard of.

Even as an adult, people make comments and assumptions based on the way I speak.  When I tell them what schools I went to from high school through graduate school, I'm always greeted in shock.  For some reason, people assume if you speak proper English you went to private and Ivy League schools.  Not sure where that idea came from.

I speak the same way, whether I'm addressing a superior, co-workers, friends, or even my mentee.  I see no point in dumbing down the way I speak for anyone.  I don't believe there is such thing as a "negro dialect".  People will speak with different accents based on where they were raised and it doesn't make one person better than the other.  We're all very diverse people and should never be judged by having a certain pattern of speech.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Restaurant Review: Inti

On Saturday, I went to a quaint little Peruvian restaurant by the name of Inti. If you've ever been to Lauriol Plaza you've passed by Inti and probably never even noticed it. It's located in the bottom level of a brownstone next to Lauriol. 

When I say quaint, I mean quaint.  The place couldn't hold more than 30 people, maybe 35 if people stood at the small bar.  I went with a friend (who happens to be my ex).  He spent three months in South America including Peru and he raved about how good Peruvian food was so of course I had to try it.

We ordered some drinks he a Pisco Sour and me a Margarita, always my drink of choice. Both were delicious. We ordered CEVICHE DE CAMARONES (shrimp ceviche) for the appetizer, all I can say that was quite possibly one of the best ceviche dishes I have ever had.

For dinner I ordered PICANTE DE CAMARONES (spicy shrimp stew served with rice).  When it came out all I could think of was the Geico commercial and "Sometimes I feel like somebody's watching me" kept playing in my mind. But I digress, it tasted just like a Thai or Indian yellow curry dish but lighter and without the heavy curry scent. It was pretty tasty, but nothing to brag about.

My friend had the Pollo Saltado (Strips of chicken sautéed with onions, tomatoes, and french fries. Served with rice). It was nicely seasoned and very delicious.  Although I'm a sectional eater, I was adventurous and ate the french fries soaked in sauce combined with the chicken in one bite.

All in all, we had great service.  I loved the diversity of the crowd and the fact that the place was so small that they seated random people at one table, always makes for interesting conversation.  Will warn you they serve giant corn.  I've never seen anything like it. The kernels are a least 5X the size of regular but apparently it's something native to Peru.  The nice gay couple seated next to us saw my hesitation in trying it and decided to tell me I had to try it at least once, which I did.  We'll just say the giant corn tasted interesting.

I'm kind of surprised they actually have a website,  Warning it's very basic if you want to check it out.

Service: A
Food: A-
Atmosphere: B

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Restaurant Review: The Palm

I went to The Palm for DC Restaurant Week on a Friday evening.  Let me begin by saying The Palm is located in the heart of Dupont Circle and I was dreading having to find a parking space.  I had already accepted the fact that I was going to have to pay for parking because trying to find a spot in that area on a Friday evening would be hellish at best.  Fortunately, when I pulled up to the valet they told they only operate on tips. That's how it should be.

So my Aunt and I arrived a little early for our reservation but they seated immediately. The first thing I noticed was the restaurant was very loud. My Aunt and I had to scream across the table to hear one another.

Our waiter was an older gentleman.  He seemed nice at first until he asked us if we wanted water.  I'm very finicky but drinking tap water in DC is nothing because DC actually has some of the best tap water I've ever had.  As the waiter left the table he loudly confirmed, "Two tap waters." I was like ok really.  He comes back to take our order and I admit my Aunt asked a few questions about the choices available on the Restaurant Week menu, but he acted as if he didn't want to be bothered.  I couldn't tell if he was just old and tired or if he was just being rude.

I ordered a Caesar Salad (sans anchovies), Filet Mignon and Key Lime Pie for dessert. It's kind of hard to mess up a caesar salad so I have no comment about that.  The filet mignon was a generous portion, 8oz, which was twice the size I'm used to.  I asked for it to be cooked medium, and they did a good job of preparing it, but it could have used more seasoning.  I was planning on asking for some type of sauce like worcheshire but our waiter never came back, so I just settled for salt and pepper.  The dessert was definitely the best part of the meal.  The key lime pie was light and creamy and not bitter unlike how some can be.

Overall, The Palm in DC was okay.  I admit I was disappointed because I've been to other locations and I remember having both excellent service and food.  Sadly, the DC location left a bad taste in my mouth.

Food: C
Service: C
Atmosphere: B-

Inside the restaurant, the walls are covered with drawing of various political figures and and other DC VIPs, many of whom I'd never heard of.   I did appreciate the lovely photos of Michelle & Barack Obama that were on the wall behind where we were seated.  See the photo to the left.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Looks Can be Deceiving

I've always been a reserved person. I wouldn't exactly say shy but I've been one of those people who is very mild-mannered and introspective.  I believe in taking time to collect my thoughts before speaking.  I've never been one to hog a conversation or fight for the spotlight.  Some people think I'm aloof while others just think I'm stuck up or bourgie.  But truthfully, I've never really cared what other people thought about me. 

As I've gotten older, I've realized because I'm not what you'd call outspoken it leads people to come to their own conclusions about me.  Only people, that really know me are my true friends  and they see a side of me that others that I just meet wouldn't necessarily notice.  While there are those exceptions, like when I instantly click with someone and put my complete self out there, the average person doesn't see it.

The other day while in a board meeting for an organization I'm an officer of someone mentioned the fact that I had a blog.  Some of the other officers acted surprised.  Not that having a blog is a unique concept but I just found it hilarious.

It always amazes me when people try to judge what kind of music they think I like because of my demeanor.  I can't tell you the number of times, people have said they thought my favorite types of music were classical, gospel or soft rock. While I have no problem with those types of music, deep down I'm a FL girl so I have a fondness for southern rap and hip-hop.  In fact, Rick Ross and Lil Wayne are heavy in rotation when I'm in the car.  I loved Trina & Trick Daddy when I was in college and if anything comes on to this day, I probably still know the words.  Hey, don't judge me. 

I do a lot of volunteering in DC.  Most of the programs I work with provide service to the elderly and young people.  In College Bound, there is one young lady who is what I'll call very "urban" but she's a nice as she can be.  If someone didn't know her they'd judge by the way she speaks and dresses that she was just some around the way girl.  They wouldn't know she played in a band that performed at the inauguration of President Barack Obama and at the Kennedy Center or that she has multiple offers to attend several colleges on full academic scholarships.  It saddens me that knowing how society is this young lady will have to try harder to prove herself because she's perceived in one way.

While, I don't care how other perceive me, I find it interesting how people form their own opinions without even really knowing someone.  I guess it's just human nature.  Remember looks can be deceiving.  Don't judge people before getting to know them or their situation because you never know what might happen if you just take the time to get to know them.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The People of Port-au-Prince

Listening the news reports of what happened in Haiti yesterday I had absolutely no idea of the magnitude of what had actually occured. 

At first, I thought it was just an earthquake like the ones in California where a few buildings might get a little shaken up, food flies off the shelves in grocery stores but within a few minutes everything would back to normal.

It wasn't until I saw a report on CNN this morning that said possibly hundreds of thousands, not hundreds or thousands but hundreds of thousands, of people may have been killed that I realized the seriousness of what happened.  That is still resonating in my mind.  I still can't even fathom the total destruction that occured.  The pictures to the left are of the National Palace before and after the earthquake.
 I've spent most of the morning researching Haiti and trying to learn more about the history of earthquakes in Haiti.  Just came across a very interesting article that was posted in October 2008.  See a brief passage below.

Haiti is no stranger to large quakes with the destruction of Palais Sans Souci near the Citadelle in 1842. It has also been 200 years since any major seismic activity has occurred in Port-au-Prince. This means that the level of built up stress and energy in the earth could one day be released resulting in an earthquake measuring 7.2 or more on the Richter Scale. This would be an event of catastrophic proportions in a city with loose building codes, and an abundance of shanty-towns built in ravines and other undesirable locations. Even the super-rich may not be immune as many own homes with great views, but precariously perched on the mountainsides above Petionville, on ground which is also susceptible to landslides. (To read the entire article, click here)

 What happened in Haiti is simply something that I would have never expected, but apparently geographers knew this was going to happen.  I've been to the Dominican Republic several times, which shares the island with Haiti, and I had no idea that Haiti lies on a fault which made it prone to earthquakes.

My heart truly goes out to the people of Haiti, especially those who've lost loved ones and those who are trapped hoping to be found.  All we can do now is pray and make an effort to donate money and time, if possible, to spread the word to others that even if they don't have much to give something is better than nothing.

Found some ways on how to give to Haiti online, feel free to post other options.

American Red Cross (text 90999 to donate $10 via the Red Cross)
Yele (you can also text “Yele” to the number 501501 to donate $5)
Direct Relief International

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Restaurant Review: Rasika

Anyone who knows me knows that I'm a foodie.  One of my favorite things about living in the DC area is all of the culture we possess which leads us to having many amazing restaurants.

As you may now, January 11-17, 2010 is officially Restaurant Week in Washington, DC.  Over 180 restaurants in the DC area are participating in this year's event.  During this time, you can have a 3-course lunch for $20.10 or a 3-course dinner for $35.10 at many restaurants where you could barely find an entree for under $35.  I typically try to go to at least 3 new restaurants each event.  It's the best time to go with friends, family, or someone special to sample an appetizer, entree, and dessert for a great price.

On the first day of Restaurant Week I went to Rasika.  Rasika is a contemporary Indian restaurant located within 4 blocks of the Verizon Center.  Although, I'm frequently in Chinatown, I'd never seen it before.  It is located on 6th and D Streets NW.

When we entered, it was very quaint and nicely decorated.  It was much smaller than most of the other restaurants in Chinatown that usually cater to hundreds of patrons at a time.  That explains why I couldn't get a reservation before 9PM all week.

So we were seated and the waiter immediately came over to gave us a breakdown of all of the wines, they even had a special Restaurant Week wine menu where bottles were about $10-15 less than usual, as well as their extensive list of cocktails.  I ordered a Cranberry Cobbler.  It was a cocktail made of tequila, apple liqueur, with muddled oranges and cranberries and some type of spice.  I'll admit it was so good I ended up drinking mine then my friends.

Within 5 minutes of ordering our drinks, our appetizers came.  The Malai Chicken Tikka was placed in front of me and my friend had calamari.  My dish was amazing!  It was much lighter than I expected.  I love Indian food but sometimes with all the spices, certain dishes can be overbearing.  After our first bites, our waiter came over to check on how we liked everything.  He even told my friend to sprinkle what we thought were garnishes on his dish to bring out the flavor. He was right.

For the entree, I ordered the Black Cod, which they are supposedly known for, and my friend had Mahi Mahi in a light curry sauce.  The cod was glazed in honey and perfectly grilled I can still taste it. Yum! The Mahi Mahi served over basmati rice was excellent too.  It was so full of flavor.

By the time dessert came out, we were both pretty full but I can always make room for sweets.  My friend had mango ice cream while I had a dish that was some type of fruit that was fried and soaked in honey and served with a scoop of frozen yogurt with pistachio sprinkles.  It was heavenly.

I'm definitely a fan of Rasika now, it might even be one of my new favorite restaurants!

Service: A+
Food: A
Atmosphere: A

Friday, January 8, 2010

Horrible Service: American Service Center

If you follow me on Twitter, I'm sure you read about the horrible experience I had the other week at American Service Center located in Arlington, VA.

I'm a firm believer in writing letters of complaint whenever I have a poor customer service experience and sharing with others when I've feel I've been wronged. Sometimes upper management has no idea what is going on within their own business without those advocates letting them know what is really going on, they would never know why they're losing business.

So about my experience at American Service Center (ASC)…I scheduled an appointment to drop my car off on a Tuesday at 9:30AM, to have a cracked rim and a windshield wiper replaced. I also asked them to look at the other rim, because I'd been informed the other rim was cracked as well.

When I arrived they told me they didn't have an appointment for me, should've known right then it wasn't going to go well. I was hoping they'd fix it while I waited since it was a fairly simply procedure, NTB only took 30 minutes to take off both of my rims and determined they were cracked. Instead, I was told they'd call me when it was ready and the advisor walked away. When I asked about my loaner, the advisor was very condescending and said that since I did not purchase my car from them they would not provide a loaner. Every time I'd taken my car to other dealerships in the area they always gave me a loaner even though I purchased my car in Atlanta.

That afternoon around 4:00PM when I still had not heard from the service advisor regarding the status of my car, so I decided to follow-up. When I called he wasn't available. Finally he called me back at the end of the day verifying the rim was cracked. Umm yeah, that's what I told him when I dropped it off that morning, along with telling him the guy in parts department had already been ordered them and they just needed to be installed. Fortunately, I was able to get a ride from a friend home from work.

Fast forward to the next day, I commuted to work via Metro again and still had not received a phone call stating my car was ready. I ended up calling ASC around 11:00AM and asked to speak with the Service Department manager because I was feed up. He then informed me he'd just spoken with his business development officer about the number of cars they'd taken in the day before. Truthfully, I could've cared less. My concern was that I was stranded for over 24 hours without a car for such a minor repair.
I was finally told my car is ready around lunch time. So I took the Metro back out to VA to pick it up. I went to the cashier to pay for my service and wait for my car. I hoped it would be quick and I’d be back to work. That was not the case. I ended up waiting an hour for them to find my car. And no one seemed to know where it was as if it has just vanished.

During the wait, I tried to find my service advisor, then the service manager and was told both were gone to lunch. To make matters worse, I was repeatedly told by the attendants, they couldn't do anything because the second person who tried to find my car disappeared with all of my paperwork and the receipt. Eventually, another service advisor called the mechanic who worked on my car who told him where my car was. The mechanic took 2 minutes, went to where the cars are parked, found my car, and told the advisor my car was in fact where he'd left it.

When I heard him say that I was heated. By this time, I'd been gone from work for 2 hours and missed an important conference call. When my car finally came out, I didn't receive an apology, nothing. I vowed to never return to America Service Center in Arlington, VA.

After that mind-numbing experience, I wrote a detailed 2-page letter expressing my concerns regarding the poor customer service, the time it took for them to complete a simple repair, as well as concerns for my safety, when they told me nothing was wrong with my passenger side rim when there clearly was a problem. I sent the letter certified to the General Manager, asking for an apology and compensation for my inconvenience. After all time is money, and after such a horrendous experience I deserved something.
With that said, I hope no one else encounters what I went through with American Service Center. Don't be afraid to let others know when you've had poor or unacceptable customer service. By writing a letter or calling the manager you're providing valuable feedback and you never know what you'll get out of making a simple complaint. Some times you just have to let ‘em know.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Moving On

I've been back in the Washington, D.C. area since April 2007. When I was searching for a new condo, I was planning to move to either Northern Virginia (Arlington, Alexandria, Crystal City) and Montgomery County (Bethesda, Silver Spring). Growing up in Prince George's County, I was familiar with the area but knew that I didn't want to move even remotely close to the city where I grew up. It's a nice community, or at least it was, for families but isn't really a place for young, single people.

So after looking for a while, I ended up buying a place in Prince George's County after all.  It was cool at first until I realized there is no diversity whatsoever.  I've always lived places where there was a mix of people. The closest I came to living around all Brown people was when I lived in NY, but the brown faces consisted of Af-Ams, Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, and other Hispanics.  Don't get me wrong, I love my people (sometimes :-)) but the area where I live now leaves much to be desired.

The people are rude. I'd see my next door neighbor and she wouldn't speak. Me being the person I am, I like to kill 'em with kindness, so I'd go out of my way to speak, it took months to finally get a half smile from her. Is it really that big of a deal to speak to your next door neighbor? Since then she's moved and the man who owns the condo next to mine has had a string of horrible tenants who seem to be used to living more in Section 8 housing than in a normal condo.  They have no respect when it comes to playing their music, even had one who used to play a conga drum at night. They'd fight and yell in the hallway.  When someone comes to pick them up, instead of walking to the door they'd honk the horn all times of night.  I'd never have peace in my own home.  Fortunately, they leave and it's gotten a little better.  I've never lived in the projects but I could imagine this was what it would be like.

Every time I go to the trash I end up picking up litter because people drop all types of garbage on the ground and don't even have the decency to pick it up. I'm not used to people not taking ownership of where they live, even if they are renters. When I did live in apartments (with more diverse neighbors), I never saw people who had such a blatant disregard for where they lived.  My condo association sends out monthly newsletters but I'm sure the people who are the culprits don't even read them.

They are disrespectful. As I sat in the waiting room of my local NTB, a young couple came in with a little boy who couldn't have been more than 18 months old. The father was talking loud and using every expletive he could think of and half the time he said these things while holding the baby. It got to a point where I got up, shot him a look and sat back down.  I'm nobody's Mother but I've learned from the best of them how to give someone a piercing look to make them be quiet.

I don't know if these people just don't care or if it's because no one’s told them what's inappropriate from what's not. The waiting from was full of older people who just sat there and didn't say a word.  Any one of them could have asked the guy to watch his mouth but they just sat there oblivious to it all and didn't open their mouths.

Every time I take the Metro, which isn't that often, I dread sitting near any teenagers. Those kids, who 95% of the time are Black, get on and start acting a fool. They curse, use vulgar language and have no consideration for those who are subjected to hearing them.  They'll curse in front of someone who could be their Grandmother and don't even care. It makes me sick and I'm tired of it.

Next fall, I'm determined to rent out my place and move. I'm not sure where yet but we'll see. I can't take being in an environment where people have no concern for anyone but themselves. People like that are dangerous.  My days in Prince George's County are coming to an end.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

New Year's Resolutions vs Goals

Maybe it's just me but I never saw the point in setting New Year's resolutions.  People come up with the generic resolutions ever year saying things like "I'm going to lose weight" or "I'm going to work harder."   Although, I'm a firm believer in having goals, I believe setting goals and making resolutions are two very different concepts.

As a child, my Dad made me sit down and write out my goals both short term and long term and this was never done during New Years.  He always emphasized that writing your goals down, not just saying them aloud, trains your thoughts.  Let me also say my Dad was a fan of Zig Ziglar in the 80s so he taught me everything he learned from reading books and listening to tapes.  Even today I write my goals down, whether it's a daily Things-to-Do Lists or setting long term goals, because it not only serves as a reminder but it makes you more accountable in your actions.

Resolutions are empty thoughts while goals are actual, deliberate statements.  A resolution would be "I'm going to exercise more" while a goal would be "I'm going to exercise three times a week, for a minimum of 30 minutes a day."  There's a clear difference.  Plus goals should always have a time limit or commitment.  For instance, a resolution would be "I'm going to get out of debt" while a goal would be "I'm going to pay off my credit card by May 31, 2010." 

Goal setting needs to be something that makes sense, it should be deliberate in thought and action.  In order to successfully reach your goals, you must have a solid plan which provides a way to execute the goal.  With that said, let's stop wasting time with resolutions and spend more time developing goals.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Savvy Tips for 2010

Now that the New Year is here, I wanted to share a few tips on ways I've found to save and make a little money.  I'm working on getting my financial house in order and these are some of the ways that have helped me along the way.

Save Money on Cable
I don't pay for Premium Channels.  The cable companies typically offer promotions for free HBO/Showtime/Starz for 6 Months or will give you $10 off your month bill, you just have to ask. These offers are often valid for everyone, even existing customers.  Just call your provider and ask, "What are your current promotions?" Say it's a 6 month promo, put it in your calendar to call them in exactly 6 months to remove the promotion, before they have a chance to start charging you.  At that time, ask again if there are any current specials.  There's no limit to how many promotions you can have, you just have to ask.

Save Money on Your Cell Phone Bill
Take advantage of discounts through your job.  Most companies have business contracts with the major providers.  As part of the contract they typically extend discounted service to personal contracts.  You can easily save 10-30% off of your personal phone bill each month.  Ask someone in your IT or Procurement department or contact your provider, they will have a listing of which companies offer promotions to their employees.

Look on the Back of Your Receipts
At my local gas station there are always coupons for discounts on snacks and items sold inside of the store.  Wendy's and Burger King will give you a free sandwich just for completing a 2 minute phone survey.  I take the survey and leave the receipt with the redemption code in the car just in case I'm short on cash.  Don't forget about grocery stores.  The back of my most recent receipt includes offers for an oil change at NTB for $16.99, $25 off tax preparation fees at Jackson Hewitt, 15% off of dry cleaner service at a local cleaners.

Banking Fees
Some banks charge what is called a "monthly maintenance fee." These fees can range from $7.95 and up, that's $95 of your money gone down the drain each year.  Ask your bank about free checking, if they don't offer it switch to another bank that does.  Credit Unions are also a good bet.  They don't have hidden fees on account and you rarely have to pay ATM fees when you take out money at other banks.  Rates on savings products (i.e. CDs, Money Market) are higher and their interest rates on loans and credit cards are much lower.  I switched my car loan to my Credit Union last year and it reduced my payment by $200/month.

Beauty Expenses
For the last few years, I've faithfully had a standing appointment with my hairdresser.  I recently started skipping one appointment each month, that saves me $55/month which adds up to $660 a year.  I know it's a sacrifice but if you can shampoo your own hair once in a while you can use that money towards something else like a mini-vacation.  As far as nails are concerned, I get pedicures but I usually do my own manicures.  I've been doing my own french manicure for about a year now and I always get compliments, thanks to Sally Hansen's french tip pen.  I've had the same pen since the beginning of the year (it cost maybe $6) and do my nails once a week.  No one will ever know the difference.

Sell Your Old Phone
If you're like me, you buy a new cell phone every 18-24 months and you have old phones lying around.  There are a number of websites that will purchase your old phone (even if it's not fully functional but not water damaged) and will give you cash for it or even donate the money to charity.  A website I found is called Flip Swap they will give you a postage-paid label, you send them your old phone(s), and they send you the money for your used phone.  It's quick and easy. 

I'm an eBay-a-holic.  I will sell anything and everything on eBay.  I've sold everything from shoes to a wedding dress to a hotel stay in Cannes, France for the film festival.  If you have a talent for sales, offer to sell things for friends and family members for a commission.  I also like designer pieces, clothing, handbags and shoes.  Some items can only be worn or carried a few times before they're played out so once they've worn out their welcome in my closet, I'll sell them on eBay to make room for new additions.

Hope these have been helpful.  Please share any tips you may have to offer.