Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Quick Tips: Travel This!

Cheap Airfare:

Find the best time to buy your ticket on Farecast.
Track trip prices and find out how to get a refund at Yapta.
Look for frequent flyer promotions at MileMaven.
Compare prices for flights, hotels, rental cars at

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Recessionista: Recession Book buying

Reading a book is a great way to cheaply pass the time during an "economic downturn" - plus, you might even learn something.

Start at your local library - for those in the NYC area go to the New York Public Library. Once you have a library card, the NYPL website (and many other libraries) allows you to put up to 15 items on request. You can track the progress of your request online and they will deliver it to the branch of your choice. In addition, the NYPL has a "wish list" feature where you can keep track of items you want to request in the future. You hardly even have to go into the library!
Don't forget that you can also borrow CDs, DVDs, and music scores from the library as well as all sorts of useful books on personal finance & planning, DIY projects, cooking, travel, careers, graphic novels & comic anthologies, etc.

When you want to buy a book, avoid the big-box stores where you'll be lured into over-spending on full-price merchandise.

Instead, shop online:
FIRST, look for your title at The Strand online: hard to find and out-of-print titles at super discounts (half-price!). They will ship to you for an extra charge or if you live in NYC, go to one of their stores and pick up your purchase FOR FREE.

I bought these 2 books online from The Strand:
Full price, I would have paid $36.90! At The Strand, I paid $19.98 for both and I got a nice copy of an out-of-print book.

At the very least look on Amazon where prices are almost always discounted and they will ship for free if you spend a minimum of $50. Amazon also has a nice community of used book sellers who have discounted and out-of-print items. is another resource (it's much the same sellers as Amazon).

Monday, July 7, 2008

Recessionista: Simply Classy

Check out Simply Vera by Vera Wang from Kohl's.

After seeing many commercials for Vera Wang's line, I decided to check it out for myself by doing a little online browsing from the comfort of my office. (You can only do this if your boss is a big online shopper during work hours, too.) I was specifically looking to class up my wardrobe as I have one of those jobs where I can wear anything to work. In some ways it's great to be able to throw on a pair of ratty jeans and a t-shirt, especially when I'm running late. But, as a 30something chick it's time to start dressing like a woman. And, Simply Vera's line is designed for those of us who want to look sophisticated, but not uptight.

The website makes it easy to buy entire outfits, including shoes and accessories, by putting looks together that mix and match with other looks. I got this cute top, skirt, and belt for $80.67, including tax and shipping. Paired with cute strappy heels from DSW and I've got an entire outfit for under $100!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Sunday Night Cooking Challenge

A delicious summer dish that can replace those $10 midtown salads for a few days of lunches! Also great for picnics – or waiting in line for Shakespeare in the Park tickets.

This makes a TON— you could use half the pasta and make half the sauce if you get sick of leftovers quickly.

Peanut Noodles with Pears
(adapted from Real Simple)

1 box pasta (small shapes work best—you can use spaghetti but it tends to fuse into one giant peanut sauce lump)
1 cup smooth natural peanut butter (chunky will not work as well – I’ve tried it)
1 cup water, at room temperature
¼ cup white vinegar
1 tablespoon sesame oil*
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 pears (even better if they aren’t ripe)
1 cucumber
5 scallions, thinly sliced
1/3 cup peanuts, roughly chopped (optional)

Chop up the pears & cucumbers & scallions while the pasta cooks. Drain the pasta, rinse with cold water & drain again. Combine PB, water, vinegar, oil & salt in a bowl and stir to make a smooth sauce (this will take a few minutes of stirring but eventually will combine). Toss the sauce with pasta and toppings, add peanuts on top for garnish if you like. Stick in the fridge and eat for days.

* Yes, this recipe does require the purchase of some specialty ingredients which Recession This! is generally opposed to—stay tuned for more recipes featuring sesame oil!