What with the relocation check and all, Dan and I have been able to purchase a few things that would ordinarily be out of the budget, and I think that you should know about them because they're really as awesome as I hoped they would be.
1. This one doesn't count. I just happened to run out of shampoo and was willing to spend a little extra if need be. I bought Trader Joe's Spa Nourish Shampoo and Conditioner. At a little under $3 per bottle, it's more expensive than some cheap-y brands at Wal-Mart, but it still costs way less than "high end" shampoos at the salon. And seriously, it's amazing. My hair feels fabulous, and the scent is so subtle and clean. And there's no crap in these products, which is what it's really all about. I'm saving my hair and the planet!
2. The Royal New Wool Winder has changed my yarn-life. My yarn is organized into nice little cakes, and knitting and crocheting are so much easier with a nice center-pull ball that has already had all the knots worked out. All serious yarn crafters and hoarders need one.
3. Dan surprised me with the Arabic version of Rosetta Stone (though it wasn't much of a surprise after he said I couldn't buy the wool winder or Rosetta Stone, and the wool winder showed up a few days later). It's a big investment, but Levels 1 and 2 are under $350 (total), and that's a whole lot less than a college course. Rosetta Stone teaches language the way we learned our first one. There are no lessons on grammar rules and exceptions -- you just learn it! (You can download a demo on the web site. There are a few languages to try out, and it works just like the actual software. You'll be pretty impressed with yourself after just a few minutes!) I'm almost through the first little section, and I can already feel my brain getting bigger! When I get through all three levels, Dan and I are going to do the Japanese one together.
4. This is kind of a weird one to end with, I guess, but it's just as cool as all the rest. I read a review of The Garlic Twist at the beginning of the year, and I've wanted one ever since. (You can visit the web site for more information and a demo video.) I found it at the outlets in Tilton, NH months ago, but it was about $14. A little steep for a garlic mincer, but I went crazy on our last trip and got it anyway (besides, Dan found lots of cool clothes and I got nothing). And it's awesome. I used it to make wasabi pea-encrusted tofu last night (recipe here) -- it was quick, easy, and my hands didn't smell nasty. Plus, I have no idea how to operate a knife well enough to actually mince anything. I'm pretty sure our garlic consumption will increase significantly. As soon as I'm off this cheese fast, I'm going go nuts on a minced-garlic pizza. Mmm mm!