Monday, March 30, 2009
Sunday, March 29, 2009
Friday, March 27, 2009
1. Cheap Opportunity to Show Off Your Nerdiness. NYC Recessionistas can enjoy cheap entertainment in the way of trivia and impress a date with The Big Quiz Thing, held at Crash Mansion, 199 Bowery at Spring Street. Bonus: $250 cash prize to the winner.
2. Free Love. For Recessionistas on the prowl but without the financial means to pay the monthly Match.com or eHarmony rates, www.mingles.com offers a way to connect absolutely free. Still no guarantee the photos are recent though, folks.
3. Free March Madness. Whether you cut cable to save some dough or sold your television on Craigslist for the extra cash, you still can catch every minute of the basketball series online, including a free subscription to the feeds for up to the minute scores.
4. Free, uh, Stuff. One of the coolest sites I have seen recently, www.freenapkin.com lets you claim items others have discarded (furniture, technology, and more) or services (such as a Free Haircut at Bumble and Bumble). Happy shopping!
5. Free Opportunity to Shake It on Sunday Night: Recessionistas in Chicago looking to liven up the drudge of Sunday nights should check out Rodan, where Slava performs live.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Monday, March 23, 2009
Popsugar: This website offers fabulous up to the minute tips on beauty and lifestyle, entertaining, technology, and, for the uber-indulgent Recessionista, a plethora of celebrity gossip. With special offers and fantastic tips, this is one to check out when you need a break from perusing Monster.com.
Wisebread: Who wants stale, dried-up financial advice, when a deliciously-written, starchy alternative is a hop, skip, and click away? Wisebread offers daily savings tips that, while entertaining you, can help increase the, er, dough in your pocket.
4 Reluctant Entertainers: I've met Martha Stewart and can honestly say there is only ONE of her in the world. Time to get realistic. However, the reality is Recessionistas can throw fabulous parties, be tremendously creative, and accomplish all of this on a budget. This website is loaded with excellent examples and lessons learned. It's a good thing.
Recessionista Tip of the Day: So, you can't quite kick your Starbucks habit - no judgement, Recessionista! However, instead of falling prey to the green and white cupped monster, try a quick stop by Dunkin Donuts instead. A Venti latte at Starbucks will run you $3.65, where the DD equivalent is $3.29. This minor switch saves you $131 annually. If/when you give up your daily DD habit, you save, brace yourself, $1200, yes, twelve hundred dollars. That overburnt office cup of joe never tasted so good, right?
Sunday, March 22, 2009
Saturday, March 21, 2009
1. Cooking at home is not just for June Cleaver and Betty Crocker. Learn how to cook a tasty meal for your friends on a budget - cocktails included!
2. I've been known to sign off a relationship with my spin on the Nietzsche line, "Romance is dead, and you have killed it." In an effort to provide a little romantic direction without extravagant expenditures, check out how to write a romantic or loving letter to express yourself on the cheap.
3. Sure, you know that St. Patrick's Day provides you with an excuse to drink mid-week, but I'll bet you know very little about the man and the holiday. We remedy that with enough information to impress your friends through bar time.
4. Movie night in does not have to be the same old bag of Orville Redenbacher popcorn and Anchorman DVD (no judgment). Recessionista Roadmap shows you how to recreate your own art cinema at home on a budget. Just don't be surprised if your friends try to buy admission tickets!
5.Who doesn't love a deal? This week's freebies and cheapies include free breakfast at Ikea and simulated samples sales at Hautelook.com. Always worth a perusal!
Recessionista Tip of the Day: With spring break season in full effect, I wanted to include a note about rental cars. Prior to your trip, shop online for the best rate and book a reservation (most places do not even require a credit card to do this.) Next, call your car insurance company to determine exactly what coverage you have (I usually play the "worst case scenario game" - "so, if I total my rental car and someone else's vehicle, am I covered?") Depending on your coverage, you may be able to decline the insurance offered by the rental car dealer - a HUGE savings! (PS -Do NOT even think about taking the gas option they offer you.)
Friday, March 20, 2009
1. Cheap Designer Apparel: Most fashion-savvy Recessionista's are well familiar with the concept of Designer sample sales. (Designers heavily discount samples of the newest lines to what is usually an invite-only crowd - I once scored a Versace evening dress for, no kidding, $49.) Hautelook, a website mimicking a NYC Sample sale, gives access to a range of designer sales, allows you to mark your calendar for upcoming sales and will even credit you ten bucks for referring a friend. Now that is haute!
2. Free Italian Ice: For D.C. Recessionistas, our friends at Rita's Water Ice are giving away free Italian ices in honor of the first day of spring. What a sweet way to kick off the season! Open until 9 p.m. on March 20.
3. Free Friends: Perhaps, that is an overstatement, but Meetup.com can actually facilitate the bringing together of like-minded individuals. Whether you are interested in enjoying the company of fellow Pug dog lovers or are looking to bond with other out -of -work investment bankers, Meetup will do the work for you.
4. Free Breakfast: Oddly enough, at the Ikea store nearest to you. For the next two days, March 21-22, Ikea stores will be serving free breakfast to customers. Burn off the extra bacon walking about the low-price furniture and home goods vendor and take advantage of Recessionista-friendly prices!
5. Free Inspiration: "There is only one optimist. He has been here since man has been on this earth, and that is man himself. If we hadn't had such a magnificent optimism to carry us through all these things, we wouldn't be here. We have survived it on our optimism. " - Edward Steichen, photographer and mate to artist Georgia O'Keefe
To find inspiration daily, sign up to have a quote sent to you every day. Bonus: it will definitely increase your pretentiousness!
Recessionista Tip of the Day: The Phone can be your best friend and worst enemy. With all that technology offers, avoid getting caught up in the razzle dazzle iPhone/Storm/whatever, and look at your statements for the last few months - are you acquiring overages? under-utilizing technology (international calling, etc.) that you can cut? Spend an hour this weekend identifying exactly what you need and what you can absolutely live without. Then, make the call! Cell phone providers will always answer!
Thursday, March 19, 2009
These days, the price of a pair of movies tickets feels more expensive than the two speeding tickets I received this summer! Spare yourself the unnecessary outing (and the 1200 calorie tub of popcorn) and reinterpret the theater experience at home, with the fabulous Recessionista twist. Bonus: You can leave those annoying teenagers who usually sit behind you and throw popcorn off the guest list.
Budget: $40 (for 6 people)
Movie Selection: Be aware of your guests' preferences (not everyone loved Titanic, Recessionista!) To avoid the mid-movie chatter, try to select something that everyone has not seen before or in a very long time. I recommend checking out classic or independent films from the library and creating a theme around them. For instance, plan "A Night with Humphrey Bogart" and show Casablanca and Sabrina.
Menu: Keep it simple yet elegant with an alternative to the standard popcorn and jujubees. Pair a few delicious yet inexpensive wines with a French picnic style spread, and your guests will feel that you provided a lavish cinematic paradise rather than a ho-hum evening in. Plate the cheeses, slice the baguettes, uncork the wine, and voila! Une soirée parfaite!
Shopping List (NYC prices = most expensive):
1 bottle Alamo Malbec (Argentina): $9
1 Bottle Jacob's Creek South Australian Chardonnay (Australia):$6
1 Package strawberries: $5
1 Container of Nutella Hazelnut spread: $6
2 Baguettes: $4
1/2 lb Brie or Soft Cheese: $5
1/2 lb Gouda or Hard cheese: $5
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Monday, March 16, 2009
Dear Fellow Recessionistas,
Recently, I was in Bikram Yoga class, attempting a near back-snapping bend in Camel pose, when the instructor came up to me and wagged her finger. "You must remember to expose your heart! That is where everything starts." Although she meant it in the literal sense, this comment started me to think about the vulnerability brought on by difficult times in life -tragedies, loss, and, of course, difficult economic times. Confronting our own challenging "poses", the situations that put us in the midst of strong emotion and stress, it may feel counter-intuitive to "expose the heart," to open up to love -romantic, familial, or platonic. However, just as in the case of my struggling yoga pose, these are the times we are most in need to do so.
- Be honest and true to yourself and your feelings. No one expects you to be the next William Shakespeare, and sincerity is much more touching than grandiose metaphors.
- Be specific. Tell your friend/lover/family member (may they not be one and the same!!) what precisely you appreciate about them. For instance, follow up the general "I'm grateful for your support," with a specific example "like the time my jerk of an ex kept texting me and you threw my Blackberry in the toilet."
- Stretch outside of your normal emotional comfort zone. The yoga pose I mentioned above is one of the most uncomfortable poses in the practice; it is also one of the best for the body. So to, stretch your emotional comfort in the composition of your letter. Be brave and use the other four letter word you normally avoid - LOVE.
- Simplicity is not a bad thing. An unexpected one-line love note, "You really do make me very happy" can really mean so much more than weekly "Ode to thee, ye of heavenly beauty..."
- Do not, I repeat DO NOT, create a template and plug/chug names in. In the case of friends and family, this is slothful. In the case of lovers, this is creepy and pathological. Mass texts on New Year's Eve are bad enough, but if you are sending out the same "Hello there, Good-looking," love letter, well, ick.
- Discover your signature sign-off. "Sincerely" is appropriate when you write the IRS to reconsider auditing you, but not when you are signing off a note of love and appreciation.
If you tend to be a Type A Recessionista (join the club!) and are interested in structural help for your letters, the web offers a number of resources. If you tend to lack inspiration or suffer from writers block, check out examples by English poet John Keats, author Victor Hugo, and even Winston Churchill.
Reminding the people in your life how much they matter to you gives them an opportunity to do the same, allowing for the type of support we all need right now. When times are tight, love is the most important element to help us through. Sign your letter, lick the stamp, and congratulate yourself on coming closer to exposing your heart!
With all of our love,
Recessionista Tip of the Day: Coupons are not just for Soccer moms! To access a seemingly infinite supply of coupons for various stores, activities and more, check out Coupon Cabin. There you can take advantage of wide selection of savings in popular stores (Target,the Gap, etc.) but also compare prices, and even follow deals about to expire. Thanks to Recessionista Angie for this outstanding find!
Sunday, March 15, 2009
Spinach En-cheap-ladas(serves about four)
- Two bunches fresh spinach (Recessionista Tip: Buying unwashed spinach will save you a couple of bucks. However, spinach is grown in sandy soil, you have triple wash if you want to avoid the unpleasant sensation of chewing on grit)
- 2 cups crimini (aka brown) mushrooms (Recessionista Tip: Crimini are usually cheaper than their more flavorful cousins, the baby bellas. Fear not, though, the difference in flavor will not be noticeable enchiladas, a dish with lots of other competing strong flavors)
- 1 White Onion
- 1 large tomato or 2-3 Roma tomatoes
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/2 lb Monterrey Jack Cheese
- Sour cream
- 1 can enchilada sauce
- 1 package corn or flour tortillas
- 1 can prepared jalapenos
- 1 can black olives
- 1-2 cans Refried Beans
- 1 box Rice
A. Prep work
Pre-heat oven to 325. Dice or cube white onion. Dice 2 cloves of garlic .Wash and slice mushrooms (Recessionista Tip: There is no reason to remove the mushroom stems. These add flavor and make the mushrooms go further). Slice black black olives. Open can of Jalapenos and pour juice into cup. You will use this later!! Dice Jalapenos. Shred Monterrey Jack Cheese. Open can of enchilada sauce and pour into bowl big enough to allow you to dip a tortilla into the sauce Cube tomato(es) If you didn’t buy pre-washed bagged spinach, triple wash spinach.
B. Cooking the spinach mix.
In a large frying pan heat 1 tablespoon oil (preferably a light olive oil). Add diced garlic and onion. Cook over medium-high heat until onion begins to turn transparent. Add mushrooms and allow Mushrooms to cook for 2-3 minutes. Add spinach a few handfuls at time. As spinach cooks down, add more. Transfer into large bowl.
C. Rolling the enchiladas.
Pour a little sauce in the bottom of your casserole dish.Take the tortillas out of bag and warm a few in the microwave for a few seconds (you can also place them on a cookie sheet and put them in the oven for a few minutes). The tortillas should be soft and pliable.Make sure your hands are clean because you are going to be working directly with the food. Dip a tortilla in the sauce both sides should be covered. Add spinach mixture and shredded cheese. Roll Tortilla and place in casserole. Remember to save some of the cheese for the top layer. Once all of the tortillas are in the pan, cover them evenly with the remaining enchilada sauce. Now add diced tomatoes and black olives. Sprinkle last of shredded cheese over top.Put enchilada in the oven to bake while you prepare beans and finish rice. The enchiladas will take 30-35 minutes.
D. Rice and Beans
Start the rice first. Most box rice mixtures take about take about 35 minutes to prepare, and follow the instructions on the box to prepare. Open can of refried beans and mash with fork. Pour jalapeno juice into beans a little at a time to add extra flavor. The beans take only 3-5 minutes to heat up in the microwave (be sure to cover them first!). When the enchiladas are done, put the beans in the microwave. This will give the enchiladas a few minutes to cool down and set. Serve enchiladas with dollop of fresh sour cream and rice and beans.
Recessionista Tip of the Day: Lately, I have had numerous friends approach me about clever ways to make money. The catch? They already have full-time jobs! However, there are many opportunities out there that allow freelance opportunities outside your 9 to 5. The first step for Recessionistas is to identify skills that might exist outside their resumes. For instance, many dissertation candidates and reporters seek typists/transcriptions to type up notes, papers, etc. on a freelance basis. These positions pay $15-25 per/hour or $1/minute and can be completed in your downtime. I will continue to post such opportunities, so start your self-assessment and get ready to start making the moolah! In the meantime, check out http://www.ifreelance.com/ .
Saturday, March 14, 2009
Read This: A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce
Reading anything by James Joyce is sort of like standing in the middle of a dance club with lights flashing about, techno music blaring, and people bumping in to you continuously - both overwhelming scenarios are best enjoyed with a strong cocktail in hand. In this text, which is far less daunting for most than the more glorified Ulysses, readers encounter the now famous "stream of consciousness" technique of storytelling pioneered by Joyce. Through what feels like haphazard memory recollections interrupted by other moments of consciousness, you will find the story of a young man transitioning between the life of a student and the life of the man. While the "coming of age" theme is nothing new, the style is so representative of Joyce that this is an absolute must-read. If drinking and driving through the mind's work of a genius is too much for you, I recommend reading it in your local cafe, where the snooty barristas will finally give you that nod of respect you've been hoping for.Watch This: Deadwood Series starring Ian McShane, Timothy Olyphant
I despise Westerns. There I said it. Thus, you can imagine my apprehension and resistance in experiencing even one episode of this 3 season HBO series. However, with Ian McShane's portrayal of Al Swearengen, a belligerent bar/whorehouse owner with a terrible temper but a corrupt Solomon-like wisedom, I was immediately hooked. Throw into the mix Timothy Olyphant, the holier-than-though sheriff who, oops, has an affair with a wealthy upper class woman, and a boozy Calamity Jane, portrayed by actress Robin Weigert, and you have created the type of Western that even the most girly-girl Recessionista will enjoy. I mean, this is the same channel that brought you Sex and the City and Entourage, after all.
Listen to This: The Best of Van Morrison by Van Morrison
Because it would have been way too easy to spotlight U2 here, I am recommending an artist less associated with but nonetheless originating from the lovely country of Ireland. Van Morrison's work is timeless and ageless. I have heard this music in dorm rooms, high end lounges, and at the homes of friends of all ages. This is music that makes you feel good, but that you never need be ashamed of owning (unlike, ahem, that Milli Vanilli CD you still hang on to). Turn off the news (I'll summarize what you will be missing - Dow Jones drops...blahblahblah...Economic stimulus...blahblah...the world is ending...blahblah.) and turn on this CD. I promise, you'll feel better immediately.
Recessionista Tip of the Day: Because doing good always makes you feel better, we are featuring another opportunity to give. Recessionista Kim is participating in Relay For Life, a life-changing event that brings together more than 3.5 million people to:
-Celebrate the lives of those who have battled cancer. The strength of survivors inspires others to continue to fight.
-Remember loved ones lost to the disease. At Relay, people who have walked alongside people battling cancer can grieve and find healing.
-Fight Back. We Relay because we have been touched by cancer and desperately want to put an end to the disease.
During this amazing American Cancer Society event, community members and students camp out overnight, and at least one member of each team is walking for the twelve hours we are there! Though times are tough and money is tight, I strongly encourage you to support this event! At the very least, you can support the fact that Kim has to chaperone hundreds of teenagers…if the tent is rocking, she's gonna come knocking!
Friday, March 13, 2009
1. Free Rent: Often times, leases expire in the spring/early summer. Before you resign for another year or while you are out shopping, it is important to note that real estate agents and landlords are bowing down to the renter's/buyer's market. You absolutely MUST talk to them about a reduced rent and/or free month's rent before committing to anything. As a real estate agent told me this week, "Everything is negotiable these days." Happy apartment-shopping!
2. Cheap Date: Nothing says "hot" like stumbling around the city with a "Kiss Me, I'm Irish" t-shirt on backwards. Well, bring that equally "hot" special someone to the World's Largest Pub Crawl, running in NYC this Saturday, March 14, 15, and, course, St. Patrick's day. Admission is $20 for a one day pass, but if you trust your beer goggles and think you might want to hang out with that special someone again, I recommend splurging on the 3 day pass for $30. Admission gets you entry to over 100 participating bars in the city, $1 Bud products, $3 well drinks, and for the Leprechaun lushes out there, $4 Jameson shots. Chicago Recessionista's can mimic this crawl without having to leave their bar stool - O'Donovan's offers a $20 brunch that includes 4 hrs. of unlimited cocktails, mimosas, "Fat Mary's," and more. Drink up!
3. Free Intelligence: Eventually, when you sober up, you may have to actually talk without slurring to your St. Patty's date. Instead dwelling on the recap of your holiday debauchery, I suggest subscribing to online podcasts of University lectures. Submitted from schools like UC Berkeley, Duke, and Cambridge, you'll impress your date so much with your extensive knowledge of the how black holes function in the universe that he/she may just want to hang out with you again...sober, next time.
4. Free Money Management: For those Recessionistas not familiar with Mint, get on board already. No, I am not referring to the breath-freshening delight! This site helps you to link up all of your accounts (credit cards, loans, rent, etc.), monitoring your spending (Mint is smart enough to figure out that the pair of Christian Louboutin shoes you bought last month blew a third of your monthly budget), and helping you improve your awareness of your spending habits. It will even sent you notifications via email when you have a bill due. Now, that is refreshing!
5. Free Pot O' Gold: Actually, who wants a cast iron, impossible to carry pot of coins, when you could have a free iPhone? Interested in receiving cool technologies and gadgets for free? Check out Gift Monkey, a website that will lead you to the end of the rainbow. You sign-up, refer a few friends (SPAM - what better way to get back at that annoying ex!), and they send you the free items from the offer. You'll be so thrilled, you will likely shout out uncontrollably, "They're Always After Me Lucky Charms" in a terrible Irish impersonation. We forgive you.
Recessionista Tip of the Day: Napoleon once said, "In victory, you deserve Champagne, in defeat, you need it." Whether you think you deserve or need it, do not use the Recession as an excuse to rob yourself of your favorite vino. Robin, our Recessionista out of Atlanta advises, "wine distributors will sell off high quality wines at low prices at the end of the month to meet their numbers. If you can find a store that passes on the savings (meaning, no markups beyond normal profit) it's worth checking out discount bins around the end/beginning of the month and asking the owner about good deals." A Toast to Robin!
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Assorted Software Stuff, Hardware, And Technology... (Project A.S.S.H.A.T.)
Tough economic times right now. So don't spend too much money on big technology purchases. (instead, be like me, and spend too much money on lots of small technology purchases). Here are my thoughts on good places to start...with lots of free stuff thrown in as well.
New Computer: Before you rush out and spend $2000 on a computer because they have a catchy song in the commercial, think about why you need a computer. If you're like me, you probably use it primarily for web surfing, email, etc. If you're not an online gamer or Photoshop junkie, consider a netbook (and see "picnik.com" below for your Photoshop jones). I just bought an Acer Aspire One for $249. Yep, 250 bones for a totally functional (and cool) computer.
- 1GB RAM
- Intel Atom 1.6 GHz Processor
- 16GB of Solid State Memory. I doubled this for 28 bucks with an SD card... super silent with no spinning hard drive or whirring fans.
- Windows XP Home (full version). WiFi, Webcam, 3 USB ports, 2 SD/Memory Stick ports
- 8.9" screen - tiny!
- Surprisingly usable little keyboard. (warning, try some out at Best Buy...some of these little netbooks have awful keyboards)
- Lots of people run Linux on these Netbooks, and I may try to install it at some point.
- The perfect email, web browsing, & Skype machine at a great price.
Also, i searched online and found a $10 coupon for buy.com. If you're buying stuff online and there's a spot for a promotion code at checkout, take the time to search for a coupon.
SO, once you have your new machine...or if you want to trick out another laptop or, (gasp), desktop, try these great, free, recessionista-friendly software tools:
Rocketdock: if you have Mac Envy like I do, but don't want to buy a f#@ing Mac... This is the tool for you. Definitely the coolest piece of software I own... and it's free. Check out the video after clicking the link.
OpenOffice: Let's say your 60-day free trial of MS Office expired...or you're just all about the open-source movement... or you're just sick of Microsoft. You should try OpenOffice. It's basically a free (and legitimate) impersonation of the Office Suite. As for the quality of the impersonation... I'd say it's worse than Dana Carvey doing Johnny Carson, but way better than me doing Carvey doing Carson. "That is some wacky, wild stuff. I did not know that." See? That sucked.
Make sure to download Word ("Writer"), Excel ("Calc"), PowerPoint ("Impress"), and others if so inclined. All the documents are completely compatible with the original Office software, so you can work back and forth between them with little or no issue. It's rad. And free.
Google Chrome: Have you tried this yet? It's a very different approach to the web browser, and it is reportedly faster than IE, Firefox, and the other browsers out there. And it's, you know -- free.
picnik.com This is a web-based photo editing tool that's really easy to use... and free. You'll be surprised with just how much you can do with this. And you don't even need to register or anything. Just go to the site, upload your photos, and create a mash-up of The Recessionista making out with the dude from Law and Order.
Then sell it to her!(A.S.S.H.A.T. BONUS)
pandora.com/ Props to my wife for turning me onto this site. Free streaming radio that lets you create your own stations in a really cool way. Pick one or two of your favorite artists, then let Pandora suggest music for you all the live-long day. You'll be surprised at how smart the suggestion engine is -- I play Ben Harper and Pandora suggests Fugazi? weird... but cool. OK, I made that one up, but you get the point.
istockphoto.com/ Amazing photography submitted by people all over the world and available for very cheap. Use it for your website or blog... or buy higher-resolution images, print them out at Kinkos, and throw them in Target frames. Without doing any pesky math, I'd say you could get yourselves some awesome framed artwork for 20 bucks or so.
A.S.S.H.A.T. BONUS: you can upload and sell your Picnik'd pics of the Recessionista in compromising positions with celebrity Silver Foxes. (free)
Bit Torrent: Don't use this. It's a totally illegal way to get really awesome free music and movies. Don't use it. It's bad. And free. Check it out. No, don't.
Has anyone noticed what has happened to the price of Flash Memory lately? You can get a ridiculous amount of storage for very cheap now. Check this out... 16GB thumb drive for 29 bucks. I feel like this was how much you'd pay for a 1GB drive like a year ago!?
On a related note, i just recently bought a 16g SD card for $27.50
Enjoy... and post comments with any other recessionista-friendly deals you've found on the interwebs lately.
Recessionista Tip of the Day: Negotiate! This is a common theme here at Recessionista Roadmap, but worth reiterating. I know of one Recessionista who just had both of her dogs groomed for the ten dollars more price of one, because she told her groomer she could not afford both. Whether you are at the store, the salon, or at the gym, make sure to ASK, to BARGAIN, and to NEGOTIATE.* Businesses want your business badly, so utilize your power and get yourself some deals.
*Might not be the best idea with policemen though, especially if you are pulled over for speeding for the 19th time.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Monday, March 9, 2009
"The Poor Man's Mocha Latte"
- 3/4 cup brewed coffee (make sure the derelict from the mail room didn't brew the last pot)
- 1/2 packet Swiss Miss Hot Cocoa
- 2-3 Tablespoon of Fat Free Cool Whip 1/4 cup Milk, Cream or Half and Half
- 1/4 Teaspoon cinnamon 1 Tablespoon Sugar
Mix coffee with Sugar, Cinnamon, Cream, and Hot Cocoa. Top off with the Fat-free Cool Whip and a dusting of cinnamon and sugar, and congratulate yourself - you just saved $5!
Then, check out these sites:
1. http://www.restaurant.com/ : This website is exclusively designed to bring local restaurant deals to you. You enter the site, type in your zip code, and it will display specials occurring in your area (example: Baci Restaurant, in the Washington D.C. area, will sell you a $25 gift card for the cost of $10 to use on dinner. Amazing!)2. http://www.theonion.com/ : Nothing solves the mid-day work blues like a little laughter. This faux news website, originally a faux news newspaper born out of Madison, WI, offer laugh out loud satire in the guise of news.
3. http://www.eopinions.com/ : We have all succumbed to the glossy ads and recommendations coming from our favorite magazines, or found ourselves entranced with a clever or enticing commercial on television. No more - we deserve better than to find ourselves as a passive media consumer/drone. This website features the unbiased opinions of the proletariat, the average Joe, and those who have not been featured on reality television.
4. http://www.worldsbestbars.com/ : This site is a must for world traveling Recesssionistas who are seeking the social scene in an unfamiliar area of the planet. Though the site is not updated as frequently as one might like (this Recessionista is living in the most efficient city on the planet, after all), the places and recommendations have not yet let me down when traveling abroad. If nothing else, it is a great incentive to track down that Russian pen pal you had in high school.
5. http://www.freerice.com/ : When did the English language become so pedestrian that we have to invent new words to keep it lively (not to mention acronyms!) Instead of embracing the vocabulary wardrobe of a Clueless extra, check out this site to refresh your vocabulary and bring a little dignity back to the language of Shakespeare. More good news: you will find many alternatives to the non-existent word "irregardless."
Recessionista Tip of the Day: For Recessionistas interested in yoga but short on cash, you can indulge in the ancient practice guilt free with a fresh daily routine available to you online at http://www.yogatoday.com/ . Bonus: No one has to see you fall out of Warrior 3 pose...again (and by "you", I mean me!)
Sunday, March 8, 2009
1/2 cup oil (almond is ideal, but vegetable or olive will work too)
1/2 Cup Rose Water (found in health food stores)
1/2 Cup Coconut Milk
4. Cook. Sunday evening is the perfect time to enjoy the quiet solace of the kitchen and prepare delicious entrees (on a budget, of course) for the week ahead. After all, the Sunday blahs might be bad, but the brown bag blahs are worse! (P.S. Look for our upcoming series of Recessionista Recipes!)
Saturday, March 7, 2009
Thursday, March 5, 2009
1. Cheap Date: One of the easiest ways to make it through a first date without sweat stains under your arms is to kick off the night with a few libations. Unfortunately for New York City dwellers, this can mean a $30 -50 bill for the two drinks you both indulge in before dinner. Fortunately, there is Welcome to the Johnson's, a bar straight out of the 1970's, with decor and prices to match. PBR's, running a mere $1.75, are served in a can, the pool table seems transported from your uncle's basement, and somehow the television that your Grandma sold at the rummage sale two decades ago has made its way here. All of that, and you will find the bartenders (see Shye, above - photo by the lovely Angie Cope) to embody Lower East Side sexy. Just don't let your date catch you checking them out!
2. Cheap Smells: Not to be confused with smelling cheap, http://www.luckyscents.com/ offers sample sized containers of exclusive fragrances for a mere $3 (Guys, I know, I know - you can practically buy 2 PBRs at Welcome to the Johnson's for that price, but trust me, the ladies love this type of thing.) If your taste in fragrance is a little more mainstream, stop by Sephora - they will make you a sample of your favorites for free.
3. Free Trivia: You are enjoying your PBR with your date (who, by the way, smells awesome because he/she picked up their free vile of fragrance at Sephora earlier) when the conversation starts to dwindle. We have all been there, but, thanks to http://www.mentalfloss.com/, you don't have to suffer through an awkward turtle moment. For instance, think of how impressed your date will be when you explain the difference between Celsius and Kelvin, and watch he/she swoon when you tell them 9 Things they never knew about H. Ross Perot. Give Facebook a break and check it out.
4. Cheap Omiyage: The Japanese have this fabulous tradition of Omiyage, the art of gift giving. Even when they go on a first date, gentlemen are expected to bring a small gift as a sign of honor Take a cue, my friends - go to http://www.etsy.com/ for inexpensive homemade gifts that you don't have time to make yourself. Surprise a date, charm a hostess, or make your boss's day, and it is still cheaper than a bottle of wine. Domo Arigato!
5. Free Shopping Spree: Before your fabulous date, you will clearly need to find a new outfit. Notice I said "find" instead of "buy." Recessionista Kristi from DC suggests grabbing your best friend or trusted fashionista and playing "Dress-up." This involves your best friend and newly appointed personal stylist looking through everything currently in your wardrobe, even items collecting dust (hello, lace bodysuit circa 1990), and creating new, fabulous looks for you by mixing and matching pieces you already own. This is guaranteed to break you out of your everyday black turtleneck rut.
Recessionista Tip of the Day: Student loans - these are the two words that kill any one's jello shot buzz. Wouldn't it be great if you could just make your day to day purchases and slowly but surely the loan would disappear. Your wish is my command, Recessionista! Check out http://www.upromise.com/, a site that contributes a percentage of your purchases back towards paying off your loans. Now, that's smart!
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
I had thought about going to the National Art Gallery, but now decided that I would just explore the city on foot, get an impressionistic sense of how it works and is put together. So I started off in the most colorful direction. Here were covered outdoor restaurants where the food was made makeshift and sometimes eaten with hands. Much was made of rice and bean curd, supplemented with ingredients whose English names don’t feature on the handwritten menus. It was at such pseudo-establishments that I ate from time to time.
From here, I wandered through lower-middle class and poorer neighborhoods at a time of day when everything seemed to be about eating and meeting. In all, the people appear to be a happy, or at least not outwardly unhappy, people.
As I write this under the awning of a café drinking Argentinean wine topped with the spray from the daily thunderstorm, I’m reminded by the couple drinking next to me that I may never have been anywhere where there are more inter-racial couples. And the races are many: Malaysian, Chinese, European, Indian, African. I don’t want to draw any facile conclusions from this, but it is notable.
But I had walked all day. I walked, and I took pictures, and I thought of my surroundings. I happened to see my reflection in a shop window where dresses were being sold for the equivalent of US $1.50 and realized with a little embarrassment that I was soaked through with sweat. I decided to ride the monorail. There’s only one, so I knew it would take me back to places I was a little more familiar with. For I had no idea where I now was. Nor did it matter, but I was thinking a drink might reinvigorate me, and something surfaced which had been gnawing at the lower levels of my consciousness all day and the import of which now became acute. I don’t believe that regular drinking establishments as we know them – call them bars, taverns, pubs – I don’t believe these exist as such in KL. There are hotel lounges and clubs, and you can get drinks in nicer restaurants, but I was by now a little worried where my afternoon sustenance would come from. Much of my later wanderings were disappointing searches for cocktail hour, something I never found. But chance did land me in the café I mentioned earlier, and here I am now sitting in a deluge the likes of which are unknown in Wisconsin (where I live).
Damn, it’s raining hard. I lean over to the guy keeping me in wine at this bodega to ask how typical this is. It is, apparently, a big storm, and I’m finally ushered inside so they don’t have to keep the awning propped up over me any longer. Fair enough.
I’ve made no mention of the major shopping area immediately surrounding my hotel and directly across the street from my present situation. It doesn’t interest me at all, but it may interest others that it’s there. This is a world city and not impervious to Gucci, Prada, and other names no doubt important but unknown to me. What actually does draw my attention is that there are fashion ads everywhere, as there are everywhere else, but there is not one among this extremely varied population here who looks anything remotely like anyone in any of the ads. I have no grudge against fashion – how could I? – but the worldwide industrial demon that has taken possession of it, if it had a throat, that throat would require quick slitting, and I’d volunteer for the hit.
Let me now elaborate and summarize, for I’ve taken much of your time. KL is architecture most varied, people good and friendly and sleezy, food delicious and unclean, and I’ve not even mentioned the prominent beauty of the women. In short, it is a vibrant, partly modern, partly developing, city of the world. It is also located on the equator, so much daily activity centers around fluid loss and replenishment, though not so much replenishment as I would wish.
Finally and most importantly to me, but for the occasional times when I wish I were sharing this with someone else, I was able to inhabit a space outside myself; almost 24 hours I did this, and I am healthier for it. The soul is in remission.
The rain has lifted, and it’s time for me to fetch my bags and find the airport.
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
-Featuring the writing of Guest Blogger/World Traveler/Honorary Recessionista Peter...
When I was a high school expatriate in the last years before Germany’s reunification, the matriarch of the family I lived with diagnosed me with an ominous condition. “Die Seele ist krank.” The soul is sick. She had no idea.
Twenty years later, the soul is still ailing, and the condition has metastasized to both more and less vital organs. But I am not lost, I am not dead, and I will beat this thing. Today I find my soul, not under the head-shaking gaze of a motherly physician, but in the lap of luxury’s exotic mistress. Two weeks ago, Malaysia was one of hundreds of places I might never visit. But it’s tonight, and I’ve just asked my butler at the Kuala Lumpur Ritz Carlton to wake me with a pot of coffee an hour before sunrise. He glances at my camera bag and asks with a huge smile, “for pictures?”
Yes. It’s half an hour to midnight, and I have twenty four hours to myself. Let’s call this rehabilitation.
The last half hour of February 24th I spend walking and soaked. Finally I was nearing the Petronas towers. I wanted to photograph these lit up, preferably from across the fountain and pool I knew were in front of them. I didn’t know just where that was, but I was probably within a mile now. I took a couple shots of the towers over the tops of other buildings, and then its lights went out. Shit. Things shut down at midnight here. Keep walking, though, I might as well.
A young man in a park tries a ruse. “Card stuck in the ATM machine,” could I give him 8 Ringgits? My instinct is quietly but firmly to refuse, but these are different circumstances. It’s the witching hour in an outdoor equatorial sauna underneath the Gothic imposition of the KLCC towers. So I venture, “I’ll give you 8 Ringgits if I can take your picture,” lifting my camera. He declines. Maybe I’m the fuzz, he might be thinking. I don’t know because he’s gone now, leaving me to change fogged lenses in a too dark park.
I circle slowly around the towers, the eye to the viewfinder seeking some eternal moment to capture, the other watchful for a place to get a drink. I resolve neither the one nor the other for a while. Then I hear some music and move in. No, it’s not music, it’s a dance club. But next door is an outside lounge. I haven’t been able to find out whether Malaysia produces its own beer, but I see a sign for Singapore’s typically Asian rice brew, and I make for the Tiger. This is a really crappy place, and they charge 17R a glass, but once I remember the conversion, it’s not so expensive, and it all seems marginally less crappy, even the lung-aggravating clove cigarette ambiance contributing to what might become an improbable nostalgia if provoked by a few more Tigers.
I borrow a pen from the hostess. It’s here that I’ve written the preceding. After a time, I move out.
In the equatorial dark, one’s compass is a poor navigational aid. I wandered far tonight, and in no certain direction. I passed and photographed and conversed with vendors of food and other fruits of the street. Street food is good for the constitution, and I vow that I will tomorrow eat nothing but species of its genus. The other may be less wholesome and try unqualified systems of immunity, and I leave it alone.
I am on back streets, and by this time there are medium sized animals testing the lesser shadows and I cannot know their dangers or designs. Welcome home says the Carlton Ritz, and plunder please the bar mini. And I so do. My god, did I make it back here? Sleep comes slowly and in small measure.
To be continued in tomorrow's entry...
Recessionista Tip of the Day: Unless you have the luxury to travel for work as my friend Peter, going to exotic, international locations might feel impossible. Even if you can afford the price of the airfare, the accommodations break the bank. Well, if you don't mind putting on your best Bohemian beret and roughing it a bit, you can stay almost anywhere in the world as a guest in a fellow Wanderluster's home! Check out Couchsurfers - a site devoted entirely to connecting Recessionistas across the globe. Freeloading is the new pink, after all.
Sunday, March 1, 2009
By Day, 31 Reasons Why March Does Not Completely Suck...
1. March got dumped! In Ancient Rome, March was the first month of the year...until, the younger, sexier January came along...those fickle Romans!
2. National Reading Day. Pick up a book - it will make you (at least look) more interesting.(Forget Amazon and Borders! Go to the local library! If you have an expired library card - bring a piece of mail and drivers license/passport, and you will renew your passport to brilliance in no time!)
3. U2: New album No Line on the Horizon out today. Love him or hate him, Bono is back.
4. Tell the Truth! On this day in 1861, Honest Abe Lincoln was inaugurated as the 16th president of the United States.
5. Spring Awakening: Good news! Duncan Sheik did not disappear with Y2K! The pop-rock band provided the music for the Broadway musical Spring Awakening, and they perform live at the Memorial Union in Madison, WI today for the Recessionista-friendly price of $10 today.
6. Stars are Aligning. Take a date (for free!) to the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles for a dreamy night of star gazing.
7. Peace Corps Day. Jump onto Facebook and drop your friend/brother/cousin in Thailand a note to let them know that you admire and appreciate what they are doing...and, no, sending them a Facebook "poke" is not enough.
8. Religious Services: Okay, so this happens to occur every weekend (and, in some religions, every day.) Take this Sunday as a opportunity to thank your God(s), or, if you are an atheist, your loved ones for all that you have in your life. If you are a misanthrope, I probably lost you at "hello."
9. Toast the Lovely Ladies in Your Life! March 9th is International Women's Day. Celebrate with homemade cosmos, Sex and the City reruns, and a group of fabulous ladies!
10. Talking Marionettes. Pinocchio, the Disney classic, comes out on DVD today in celebration of its 70th Anniversary.
11. Britney is Back. If you love a comeback story and are still bummed that Mickey Rourke lost the Oscar to Sean Penn, perhaps viewing Miss Spears in full lip-syncing glory will boost your spirits. Performance, at the Nassau Country Coliseum in New York, begins at 8 pm.
12. National Girl Scout Day. Bring on the Thin Mints.
13. Friday the 13th: For the second month in a row! Rent the film of the same name, curl up with a blanket, and let out a good blood-curdling scream - very cathartic.
14. That's Genius! Today is the anniversary of Albert Einstein's birthday. Read up on the brilliant man with the wacky hair. We will overlook the mustache.
15. Ogres. Half off of Shrek, the Musical on Broadway. If you loved the movie, you will undoubtedly fall for the real-life remake of the animated take on a fairytale that was never written.
16. An Excuse to Booze on a Worknight: What if someone told you that you could have as many drinks as you wish and only pay $20? No, I'm not talking about a frat party at the Sig Ep house. Bondi Road, at the corner of Rivington and Sussex on the Lower East Side of the city, offers all-you-can-drink in 2 hrs. to patrons who just can't bear Mondays...or unemployment.
17. St. Patrick's Day. As if drinking green beer is not something you do everyday anyway.
18. South by Southwest: For those unfamiliar with the festival, music fans flood the streets of Austin, TX to check out bands on the rise. Bring back a few new artists and you will finally prove to your friends that you are "indie," in spite of the Kate Spade bag you tote around.
19. Mingling with Other Yuppies. Madison Magnet, the young professionals networking group based out of Madison, WI will be hosted its monthly happy hour today. Bring business cards, leave the politics at home.
20. First day of Spring. If there is still snow on the ground, just remember...this too shall pass.
21. Hot Vampires. Twilight, the teen movie phenomenon, is out on DVD today.
22. Dance like There is No Tomorrow: D.C. Recessionistas, take note! Check out the Dance Expo and try as many classes as you like for the recession-friendly price of $20.
23. The Feast Day of Saint Rafqa Pietra Choboq Ar-Rayès: Potentially the Saint with the longest name, the Roman Catholic church celebrates St. Rafqa on this day...and you think people get your name wrong a lot!
24. Labour Day: The holiday we celebrate in September is recognized on this day in Melbourne, Australia. Fake your best Aussie accent when you try to convince your boss you deserve the day off too.
25. For the Men Who have No Game: For D.C. men struggling on how to woo the ladies, fear not. At 7 pm, attend a seminar that will give you the necessary social savvy required to meet and attract the hottest Recessionistas.
26. Festival of Wines. Recessionistas in Boston are cordially invited to attend Wine Tasting and Dinner at Vinalia. Warm Italian food, along with a plethora of wines - what better way to spend a rainy Thursday night?
27. National Skyscraper Day: Kurt Vonnegut once fondly referred to New York City as "Skyscraper National Park." Drive, bus, train to your nearest city and look up at these amazing architectural wonders.
28. Urban Scavenger Hunt: What could be a better way to meet fellow young professionals in NYC than roaming around the city searching for random items and locations?! Event starts at 12:30, so bring your metro card and your flask.
29. Shamrock Shuffle. The name of the race actually might inspire you to participate!! Chicago Recessionistas should cross their fingers for good weather for this 8K run.
30. Break Out the Absinthe! March 30th is the anniversary of Vincent Van Gogh's birthday. Given that the "Van Gogh: Colours of the Night" exhibit is currently showing at the artist's museum in Amsterdam, this might be a great "spring break" destination for Recessionistas on a budget.
31. End March in Appreciation: “When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive - to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.”- Marcus Aurelius