Saturday, February 28, 2009
Friday, February 27, 2009
Every week, I scavenge the Internet, US cities, nay, the world to bring you, my beloved, the best freebies and cheapies that life has to offer. (P.S. I promise to include at least one "date" offering for my penny-pinching friends who know that lack of income should never mean lack of love!)
1. Cheap Glamour: Even during the Great Depression, ladies still put on their faces. However, if the idea of spending 30 dollars or more on a tube of lipstick causes you to cringe, spare yourself the crows-feet promoting expression and check out http://www.eyeslipsface.com/home. With prices starting at $1, don't mistake the low cost with a lack of quality. Special thanks to Noura for sharing this beauty "secret!"
2. Free Performances: All Hail, my DC Recessionistas! In case you are mulling about the nation's capital feeling like your only free entertainment option is to come up with a cause to protest and picket for, think again. The Kennedy Center offers free performances to the public every night! Given the multi-cultural nature of the performances, this is a good opportunity to bring a date to show that, while you are broke, you are at least worldly.
3. Cheap Elegant Dining: Beginning this weekend, Seattle kicks off its "Dining Around Seattle" celebration, a month-long showcase of many high-end Seattle restaurants on a prix fix of $30 for dinner, $15 for lunch. Take the money you saved on lipstick and dig in!
4. Free Harvard Degree: Ok, not really. However, a little known secret is that you can download coursework and even lectures from Harvard and other schools for free. Download, read up, and impress your friends with an hour lecture on thermodynamics next time at the bar - a crowd pleaser, to be sure! Also, check out http://www.oculture.com/
5. Free P. Diddy Vodka: Everyone gets free Chiroc vodka this Sunday, March 1, at the LGBT party "Spritz at the Ritz", at the Ritz on 46th between 8th and 9th Avenues, NYC. DJ Jon Jon Battles hosts this no cover dance party. Smells like a wild, Recessionista-approved good time!
Recessionista Tip of the Day: Keep your change. Clean out the bottom of your purse, the ashtray of your car, and between the cushions on the couch, and store them in an empty jar or that Ming Dynasty vase you were looking to put to use. Before you know it, you will be able to afford to pay for your own drinks at the bar*
*converting coins to cash highly recommended prior to bar order placement
If you are the type of Recessionista who struggles in the art of conversation, a great point of bonding with others these days is to discuss how stressed out you are. People all over the world, whether in urban or rural environment, seem more anxious than ever, and anyone who feels immune to this stress need only read a paper or watch the news to feel part of the United States of Anxiety.
Personally, Stress (I like to imagine it is an entity or being) has been, as the ladies of Sex and the City coined the term, a “frienemy” (friend/enemy) to me– a being that may seem to bring out good in aspects of your life, but can elicit equal or greater negativity. My stress, which my friends know I refer to as “Joseph Stalin,” provides my drive and fuels my productivity. Alternately, I also wake up to Joseph Stalin yelling and reprimanding me at 3 a.m. for not completing task A or in anticipation of Event B. (When, by the way, did he learn how to speak English so well?!) I have worked diligently to try to train Joseph in the art of conversation, trying to silence that voice of stress when I am unable to take action or when the anxiety is counterproductive. (Will my worry over David Patterson’s iPod Download Tax really influence whether the initiative is passed? Despite what the dead Russian dictator says, I think not.)
1. Music: Specifically, Tony Bennett. Despite my mother having 70’s and 80’s hard rock constantly on the radio while I was growing up (sorry, Mom, you’ve been outed!), I somehow discovered the voice of Tony Bennett. I can’t explain why his music lowers my stress, but I know that it has consistently worked better than the two dirty martini alternative, hang-over not included.
2. Conversation: Think of the last conversation of your day today. Regardless of whether this chat occurred over the phone or in person, I would wager that one or all parties involved were exercising some sort of “multi-tasking” – texting, checking Facebook, etc. – during the conversation. That, my friends, is a tragedy. I hope you all have had the luxury of falling deeply into an engaging conversation with someone that removes you from your immediate (and often trite, ephemeral) worries and engrosses you in an issue/concern/argument/story/relationship greater than yourself. Turn off your phone. Look your dinner mate in the eyes when he/she speaks. Choose bars/pubs/lounges to meet friends that are quiet enough for a genuine chat. Then, listen. You might just learn something.
3. Stopping: This is going to be strange for many of you (as if I did not lose you at “Joseph Stalin!) Right now, look up. Observe the scene around you. If I asked you to write what you see, many of you would provide one or two sentences at the maximum to me. Look again. Maybe you are viewing this at work, in a cube next to a quiet, but sweet coworker, that you never thanked for covering for your tardiness a couple of months ago. Perhaps you are reading this on your Blackberry en route on a bus or train that takes you almost directly to see your mate. It is also possible that you are reading this in solitude in your home, a familiar circumstance you take so much for granted, despite all the research time you spent on the IKEA website making this space your own. Take a moment to observe everything around you critically. Find three things in your immediate reach to feel utterly grateful for (mine are: a framed photo of Salman Rushdie and I that my mother sneakily took, the color magenta, and the scent of the dozen roses a friend sent me this week.) Taking a moment to breathe, to observe and appreciate can realign your thoughts and priorities, but most importantly, it will invariably reduce your stress.
4. Helping Others: This recommendation is a sort of addendum to #3; once we recognize what exists around us, it is our job to improve and assist. This can get tricky, as helping others can feel overwhelming at times and add to our stress! Instead, I offer an anecdote. A tiny, Courtney Cox doppelganger I knew had gone on a mission trip to Romania, spending two weeks working in orphanages of abandoned and unwanted babies, who cried continuously because of the lack of human touch, as well as hunger. When my friend returned and relayed these stories, I felt a wave of anxiety and hopelessness wash over me. I asked her, “How did you not break down and cry every day? How did you not feel inadequate every time you went to the orphanage?” She responded, “The only way to get through life in general is to commit to doing everything in your power to help others every day. No one expects you to save the world, or even another person. But, if, even for a moment, you can make life feel better for someone, you have done your job.”
These just a few of my low/no-cost stress reducers…now what are yours? I welcome your relaxation, awareness, and economista tips and tricks. Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Recessionista Tip of the Day: This will undoubtedly become the hottest site of 2009 (in spite of the creepy Alec Baldwin-meets-Alien commercials) : http://www.hulu.com/
This site lets you, are you ready for this, watch FREE movies, FREE music videos, and FREE episodes of your favorite television episodes. In fact, Fast Company just declared Hulu to be the #1 fastest growing company of 2009. (Oh, and for those of you are are into the sound/picture quality thing, Hulu blows Youtube away!)
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Spotlight: NYC Nightlife
If you are anything like me, being stuck at home and feeling like a caged hamster gets frustrating and depressing. Never fear! There are plenty of things to do in New York City that will not break your budget and are guaranteed to be a good time. Here are just a few of the musical festivities in the area that are guaranteed to give you eargasms for hours!
For those who are into the beats of house and techno music there are two events that are held regularly that require NO COVER. Now that’s something everyone can afford! Although these events are not at held at big venues such as Cielo, Mansion, or Rebel, the crowds are always fun and the music is always fantastic. Other events are also listed below, including venues that play ‘80s/’90s tunes, as well as rock and roll karaoke! (There is something to be said about the therapeutic measure that screaming into a microphone can do for you!)
· Every Monday: Rock and Roll Karaoke at Arlene’s Grocery at 95 Stanton Street near Ludlow. Starts at 10pm and you can sing your hearts out with a LIVE band that will play songs by Led Zeppelin, Beatles, AC/DC, Journey and various other artists for you to belt out to. (Disclaimer: eargasms are not guaranteed at this particular event. However, mass fun is!)
· Alternate Week Tuesdays (beginning today, February 24): “Temptation Tuesdays” at Delia’s Lounge in Brooklyn (9224 3rd Ave & 93rd). They serve late night food, tempting martinis and various other drinks for your liking. Tomorrow’s event include DJ Amoroso, DJ BOII and Cookie. The excitement begins at 10 pm.
· Every Thursday: TOAST at Sin Sin Lounge on 5th and 2nd. This is a guaranteed good crowd with fun house music to dance to all night. DJ PJay hosts this event and spins once in a while. Introduce yourself to him and the other DJs as they mingle throughout the lounge when they’re not spinning crazy beats for you. Starts at 10 pm.
· Every Friday: LOSER at Simone at 214 E Houston between A & B. This is located in the basement of Stay. Just tell the door guy you are there for the LOSER party and get your stamp and walk on in to enjoy ‘80s and ‘90s music. This event is also hosted by PJay and has various DJ’s each week. Starts at 10 pm.
· An upcoming event - Friday, March 6, 2009: DEPECHE MODE RECAP PARTY. at 310 Lounge located on 310 Bowery between Houston and Bleecker. $10 if purchased online at www.depechemode-ny.com/UpcomingEvents or $15 at the door. There is limited space so get your tickets while you can! Happy hour is from 10-11 pm with $4 beers and well drinks.
In spite of cheap drinks and no cover, your tab can add up over the course of your late, late night if you’re not careful. I would suggest getting a group of people together and pitching in for pre-club libations at someone’s abode. You will save a lot of money and it is a great “warm-up” to a night of music and dancing! If pre-parties and cheap drinks are still too much of a strain to your budget, then get out of the house anyway, shake off the cob webs off your shoes and dance your anger at the economy away! I am sure that we all, girl or guy, know how to work the room in order to get a drink bought for us!
Monday, February 23, 2009
Just because you are on a budget doesn't mean you don't deserve to have a sinfully good time on Fat Tuesday! As a wallet-friendly alternative to a night on the town, consider hosting your own Mardi Gras soiree. Anticipating the anxiety of Recessionistas trying to celebrate on a budget/short notice, we at Recessionista Roadmap have created a suggested plan for the holiday that is budget-friendly, hostess-friendly, and patron-approved! Trust us, your guests will never suspect that you threw this party on the cheap!
Budget: <$150 to entertain 10 guests (That is under $15 dollars/person for my arithmetic-challenged friends!!!)
*Caveat: If you participate in Lent, I suggest you throw out this menu and indulge in those vices you are giving up for the next 40 days because, darn it, that is longer than how long many Recessionista romances last!
- 1 signature cocktail (along with beer/wine options)
- 3 appetizers
- 1-2 fabulous host/hostess(es)
Cocktail: Fancy Panties
- 2 oz Vodka
- 2 oz Pink Lemonade
- 4 oz Prosecco
This tasty number is certain to please your naughty little crew. Just remind everyone that Joe Francis and the Girls Gone Wild crew will not be attending, so tacky behavior has no place at this Celebrationista Bash!
Appetizer 1: Cajun Shrimp Cocktail
- 2 lb Shrimp
- 2 cups water (Free: Score!)
- 2 heavy Tbs of Zatarain's Shrimp & Crab Boil
- Ice (like its alternate H20 form: free!)
- 1 Lemon
- 1 bottle of Cocktail Sauce
Add 1 Tbs. Zatarain's Concentrated Shrimp & Crab boil to 2 cups water. Bring to boil. Add shrimp and cook for 3 minutes. Immediately put them on ice to stop the cooking process. Serve garnished with lemon wedges and cocktail sauce. (For an extra kick, add a couple shots of tabasco to the cocktail sauce, but, Recessionistas should remember to add only a little at a time - does not take much to kick it up to Emeril Lagasse hot!)
Appetizer #2: Stuffed Cajun-Style Mushrooms
- 1 pound large, fresh mushrooms
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
- 1/4 cup finely chopped green pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic, pressed
- 2 cups crushed Ritz brand cracker crumbs
- 3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan Cheese
- 1/2 teaspoon salt*
- 1/4 teaspoon tabasco*
- 1/4 teaspoon oregano*
- 1/8 teaspoon ground pepper*
- 1 cup chicken broth
Preheat oven to 325*F (160*C). Wash mushrooms and dry; remove stems, set caps aside and chop the stems. Melt butter in a skillet; add onion and saute 5 minutes. Add green pepper, garlic, and chopped mushroom stems. Cook 10 minutes, until tender. Add crumbs, cheese, salt, oregano, and pepper. Mix well; stir in broth. Spoon stuffing into mushroom caps, rounding the tops. Place in a shallow pan with about 1/4-inch water. Bake for 25 minutes. Serve immediately.
Appetizer #3: Cajun Corn
- 2 1/2 quarts popped popcorn
- 1/4 cup butter, melted
- 1 teaspoon paprika*
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder*
- /2 teaspoon garlic powder*
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper*
* Spices, especially when used infrequently, are a costly purchase for the party-on-the-budget crowd. This Recessionista recommends that anything not already in your cupboard offers a great opportunity to mingle with your neighbors, while graciously soliciting a pinch or two from their spice rack. Be a savvy hostess though -invite your generous, spice-wealthy neighbors to swing by your bash. Not only will this show your impeccable manners, but they will likely be more forgiving if that one friend of yours starts singing "When the Saints Come Marching In" at the top of his/her lungs.
Mardi Gras Beads: No Fat Tuesday Celebration would be complete without this staple. Head out and shell out a buck at the local dollar store or order online in advance of your party.
Festive Music: Put together an mp3 playlist that does New Orleans proud. My Mardi Gras mix (admittedly much tamer than what I might have included 10 years ago!) includes Louis Armstrong, Harry Connick Jr., and Charlie Parker among others, but play whatever you think will get your guests singing and sinning (so, it is probably best to put those Celine Dion tracks away for the evening.)
Shopping List (NYC prices = most expensive):
- 1 bottle respectable Vodka: $27
- 3 bottles Prosecco: $33
- 1 container of Pink Lemonade: $2.50
- 1 bottle respectable red wine: $10
- 1 six-pack of high end beer: $9
- 1 bottle Tonic water (for the purists who don't play): $1.50
- 2 lb. Shrimp: $30
- 1 bottle Zatarain's Crab and Shrimp Boil: $3.00
- 1 Lemon: $. 69
- 1 Bottle Jack Miller's Cajun Cocktail Sauce: $3.50
- 1 box of Orville Redenbacher Microwave Popcorn (yes, we're suggesting the easy way out): $3.50
- 1 container of Butter: $2.69
- 1 pound large, fresh mushrooms: $4.00
- 1 onion: $.89
- 1 green pepper: $.89
- 1 garlic bulb: $ .89
- 1 box Ritz crackers: $3.00
- 1 canister of Parmesan Cheese: $4.00
- 1 container of chicken broth: $2.50
- 1 order of 10-20 Mardi Gras beads:$1-2.
Total: $141.05 ( I have left you $8.95 to spend creatively: Channel Betty Crocker and Martha Stewart if you must, but Recessionista, what makes a celebration is your trademark so find it now, under a ten spot!)
Recessionista Tip of the Day: This tip comes from fellow Recessionista, Miss Ashley:
Take control of your finances and barter like you are in a Roman flea market. Identify absolutely every automated monthly payment you make (rent, car, credit cards, cable, etc.) and map it out in MS Excel. After you stop hyperventilating at the sheer grossness of the expenses, let go of fear, pride, and shame and prepare to negotiate with Corporate America. Miss Ashley is going undercover to negotiate for fellow Recessionistas in order to see who is willing to deal (lower interest rates, special packages, etc. ) and who resembles that demanding, stubborn ex you should have forgotten about years ago. This expose, which has already saved Miss Ashley hundreds of dollars, will debut in a future entry, so keep reading and start haggling.
Sunday, February 22, 2009
Saturday, February 21, 2009
Collected Poems: 1947-1997 by Alan Ginsberg
"I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked..." from Howl, by Alan Ginsberg
For those of you sadly unfamiliar with the Beat poets (Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, William Burroughs, etc.), this generation of writers emphasized a bohemian lifestyle and openness to the grittiness of the world. These authors all promoted an anti-conformist existence, and it is so much cooler to call yourself anti-conformist than to call yourself broke.
David Bowie, when he still wore outrageous make-up, stars with a very young Jennifer Connelly, along with a slew of creepy Goblin Muppets in this slightly cheesy and fabulously 80's film. Under the signature hand of Jim Hensen, this movie remains a cult classic. Silver Bowie Spandex not included in rental.
Listen to This:
Lenka by Lenka
Relatively undiscovered pop music - yum, the best kind! This light, breezy album is the perfect way to tune out that friend who keeps complaining that they can't decide which Marc Jacobs bag to purchase this season. As for my masochistic Recessionistas who enjoy ruminating about the one that got away, the track "Like A Song" should provide the proverbial knife in the heart you are seeking. http://www.lenkamusic.com/
Recessionista Tip of the Day: Every one knows the cliche "Time is Money." A good way to save time and avoid missing out on amazing shopping sales and deals is to sign-up for the automated (and free!) personal shopper service: http://www.shopittome.com/. This website will send you email notifications when their are sale items available in your size or to your liking, and you can stop spending work hours shopping on the internet and start spending more time on Facebook and LinkedIn, looking for your fabulous next career move.
Friday, February 20, 2009
1. Free Music! Rhapsody (http://www.rhapsody.com/) will give you 25 free song plays for a month without (and here is the beautiful part) any registration, information entry, or commitment to sign-up for service. That means you can check out the new Britney Spears album in its entirety guilt free and no one ever has to know.
2. Free Freebies! A one stop shop for free samples of a slew of products, http://www.shop4freebies.com/ is a Recessionista's dream. Be forewarned, you may want to enter that email address you give out to people you aren't really into at the bars, as you may receive a plethora of advertisement emails.
3. Free Culture! For my NYC friends, Le Nozze di Figaro, the comedic Mozart opera is performed for free TODAY, February 20th, at the Peter Jay Sharp Theater at Julliard. Starts at 8 pm, and be sure to come early or you may end up seat-less and having to actually pay to take your date somewhere.
4. Free Art! If you are suffering through the horrible Midwestern winter and find your pockets are empty, fear not. The Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago offers free admission on Tuesdays. Bundle up, leave your wallet at home, and enjoy the work of people who probably had less money than you for most of their lives. http://www.mcachicago.org/
5. Free Oscars! Perhaps you won't be taking home a statue this year per say, but that is no reason to avoid watching the ceremony Recessionista-style. Chelsea Cinema will be airing the Academy Awards beginning at 8 pm (Pre-show festivities begin at 7 pm) for FREE! This is a great way to make up to your "Sunday friend" that they have been cast as a "Sunday friend" in the drama that is your life.
Recessionista Tip of the Day: Before you run off to Blockbuster or sign-up for Netflix, chat with your friends about a DVD swap. All of my friends have massive amounts of movies (those who still have VHS tapes shall remain nameless), and despite the common denominators (sigh...SATC, Bridget Jones Diary, Love Actually), we have found that sharing movies is a great way to save money and avoid late fees. Just don't be the jerk that doesn't ever return the movies...
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
I happen to disagree. Falling into the category of young, intelligent, savvy professionals who feels "economically-challenged" as of late, I cannot help but recall the most financially-challenging time of my life - namely graduate school. Picture this: North Carolina, $10/day budget, and book per day grad-school diet. What should have been a portrait of misery was actually an amazing experience in building a castle from a cardboard box. While we led very frugal lifestyles, there are lessons to be learned from a different memory the time here. Very early one Sunday, my roommate dragged me to essentially a "free" version of St. Vincent's...people came in to "shop" for items at a church that were donated, but the items where provided at zero cost. In the three hungover hours I worked the store, I met characters that were anything but Dickensonian. In actuality, the women rifling through the used lipsticks smiled more than some of my most "privileged"friends, and the men asking for fashion advice when comparing flannel to flannel seemed so much more open and kind than most men I had ever known.
Individuals with little to no money, laughing, smiling, and kind - how was this possible? Where were the clouds of gloom that should cover their faces? Why were they not throwing elbows in a Darwinian fit to get the best offerings at the store? Where was the misanthropy, the misplaced blame of circumstances, the sadness of economic woes?
I suggest that these people were in touch with something many of us have lost. Circumstances are sometimes, sadly, beyond our control. The good news is our attitude is not.
The best of times is a mindset away...
Recessionista Tip of the Day: To help keep the positive spirit alive and kicking, as well as your body in prime shape, exercise is a great aid during tough times. Walk or run outside, put on your Rollerblades, or, if you have an extra $75 and live in a major US city, check out the Passbook (up to 600 free passes to health clubs and classes all over your city!) You can purchase one at http://www.health-fitness.org/ny.html