Friday, October 30, 2009

Halloween!!! Super excited!

Halloween in New York is awesome! No two ways about it, this holiday totally belongs to New York. There aren't as many tourists as 4th of July, there isn't as much pressure as New Years Eve, it's almost warm enough to walk around in scanties, but the best part is really the subways filled with people wearing costumes. It's so great to get on a train with normal looking people and then watch it fill up with (drunk) people in costumes.

This year I am going as part of a group costume. (First time ever!) Wuh came up with two ideas, making things that shouldn't be slutty slutty. (Last year CP and I went as slutty hobos.)

SO this year nine of us are going as Slutty Dharma Initiative. Thats right. That group of island dwellers from Lost. Were going as a slutty dharma crew from the 1970's.

We got our jumpsuits here:

And Beth posted photos, here were are as a group. Nine slutty dharma initiative members and one smoke monster. (Okay maybe she was a zombie ballerina, but she doubled as our smoke monster.)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Gigantic tits: make me feel like a cow ready to feed the world, but the boys love em!

This has little to do with living on little money in nyc, but I wanted to keep the link.

I have huge boobs as compared to my rib cage. So I was pysched to find this page today. A whole lotta links to good bra sites.

This entry may be cleaned up later.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Cooking at home: Chana Masala

I really like to cook.  (I have an AAS in Restaurant Management, that started as a Culinary Arts degree.)  Cooking at home can save you money.  On the other hand it can get really expensive.  You have to find a balance.  Some spices are necessary, but if there is a recipe I want to make and I don't have one of the more exotic spices, I just leave it out.  If after making it once I decide I like it, I might start looking for the exotic spice I cut out and try the recipe the proper way (once I know I like it enough to eat it again).  This works out pretty well.  Most things will hold up without the one signature spice, and I don't end up with a whole bunch of used only once spices cluttering my cupboard.

So I keep an eye out for recipes that look good.  (I also try to cook meat-free often. Meat's expensive, and fraught with green issues so I only eat it when I am craving it.)  Here is a recipe that I found on Apartment Therapy's site.  I wanted to keep track of it to try to make it some day so here it is:

I will probably skip the garam masala, (because I don't have any on hand) and the cilantro, because I don't like the taste of it.   I'll add the yogurt only if I have some plain soy yogurt otherwise I'll leave it out (or maybe sub in some coconut milk).  Everything else here are pretty much staples that are always in my cupboard.  

BTW Cardamom pods, which I get cheap at Little India on 28th, are great.  I often crush one, and toss it in the bottom of my mug when I am making a cup of black tea, it adds a nice flavour and aroma.  Also, I placed one in my jar of white sugar, which has added a lovely scent to the sugar, and earned me a puzzled look from my sig. other.  (Big ups to Hope for sharing the wonderfulness of cardamom with me!) 

I copied this recipe from Orangette, she has a lovely write up before the recipe which I would highly recommend reading. 

Chana Masala

This chana masala can be served in two different styles: with a half-cup of whole-milk yogurt to smooth and soften the flavors, or sans yogurt, served with a squeeze of lemon and a pinch of fresh cilantro. I prefer the former, but Brandon leans toward the latter. Either way, this dish is even better the second—or third—day.

Good-quality olive oil
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
2 medium cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp ground coriander
¼ tsp ground ginger
1 tsp garam masala
3 cardamom pods, lightly crushed
1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
1 tsp kosher salt, or to taste
1 Tbs cilantro leaves, roughly torn, plus more for garnish
A pinch of cayenne, or to taste
2 15-ounce cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
6-8 Tbs plain whole-milk yogurt, optional
A few lemon wedges, optional

Film the bottom of a large saucepan or Dutch oven—preferably not nonstick—with olive oil, and place the pan over medium heat. Add the onion, and cook, stirring frequently, until it is deeply caramelized and even charred in some spots. Be patient. The more color, the more full-flavored the final dish will be.

Reduce the heat to low. Add the garlic, stirring, and add a bit more oil if the pan seems dry. Add the cumin seeds, coriander, ginger, garam masala, and cardamom pods, and fry them, stirring constantly, until fragrant and toasty, about 30 seconds. Add ¼ cup water, and stir to scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Cook until the water has evaporated away completely. Pour in the juice from can of tomatoes, followed by the tomatoes themselves, using your hands to break them apart as you add them; alternatively, add them whole and crush them in the pot with a potato masher. Add the salt.

Raise the heat to medium, and bring the pot to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, add the cilantro and cayenne, and simmer the sauce gently, stirring occasionally, until it reduces a bit and begins to thicken. Taste, and adjust the seasoning as necessary. Add the chickpeas, stirring well, and cook over low heat for about five minutes. Add 2 Tbs water, and cook for another five minutes. Add another 2 Tbs water, and cook until the water is absorbed, a few minutes more. This process of adding and cooking off water helps to concentrate the sauce’s flavor and makes the chickpeas more tender and toothsome. Taste, and adjust the seasoning as necessary.

Stir in the yogurt, if you like, or garnish with lemon wedges and cilantro. Serve.

Yield: About four servings

I read a review of this that said it was okay the first day, but awesome the second day, so consider making a double batch and trying it the next day too. :-)  Brown bag lunch!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

A rant: Buying well vs buying cheap

This kills me.  

Okay, the simple example is jeans.  I not a big spendy-mc-spenderson, but I prefer to buy expensive jeans.  By expensive I mean like $50.  

Oh boy, okay, this gets more complicated because I also am a creature of habit, which might be part of this.  

I buy my jeans at the GAP.  It makes things simple for me.  I wear a six (except for my first 6 months of living in nyc when I had no money, ran 5 days a week to have activity, and shrunk to a 4, in the "curvy" style).  In my closet I have 6 pairs of jeans, 1 Gap 4, 1 Gap 8, 3 Gap 6's, and one pair of other expensive jeans I bought while out shopping with friends at PeachFrog.   They are all over a year old (except for the PeachFrog pair) and they are all aging perfectly. 

They haven't shrunk.  The fabric has gotten softer, but not stretched out. They haven't worn out at the knees (that takes about 5 years, I got rid of pairs from high school last year, because the holes finally spread all the way across the knee).

I have a friend who buys jeans at H&M.  They have shrunk shrunk shrunk. And the fabric starts to feel pill-ey. I like H&M for some things, like jersey dresses, and when I need a great stylish cheap top to wear to a wrap party.  But don't buy jeans there.  they are cheap cheap cheap.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Simple simple thing: Reading the weekly sales fliers

I feel like most of the stuff I do to save money is just so simple that is isn't worth mentioning, but then I actually got an email from someone thanking me for something I wrote.  Also, sometimes I note things here that I want to try to remember later.  Using this like my electronic day planner. (a story for another time, how I use a small day planner to keep track of everything).

So right, this simple thing is reading store flyers.  Most neighborhoods in nyc get a weekly sales flier packet dropped off on your doorstep.  Bring that in.  Leaf through and pull out the ads for the stores you regular shop at/are in your neighborhood.  Now go through those ads.

In the drugstore ads: Don't fall for the 2-for-1 on cover girl if you hardly ever wear make-up. Do look for stuff you actually use.   I usually keep an eye out for sales on Cetaphil, (the $12 a bottle gentle skin lotion I use) and the brand of toilet paper I'm currently into (used to be Scott, now I look for recycled),  and oddly drugstores sometimes run deals on cereal and beer.

In the grocery store ads, the same rule follows.  If you drink Chock Full of Nuts, keep and eye out, once a month it goes on sale for $1.99 a can.  

Looking through the ads for a few minutes every week gives you a familiarity with prices in your area, so when you see things in the store you know whether or not you are getting a good deal.  
Oh, and I don't have a member card at any store.  They freak me out.  In the discount vs paranoia scale  the paranoia wins out this time. 
Also, check the date at the top of the flier to see when the prices start, it's usually 2 days after you get the flier.  Make a list, and don't shop hungry.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Craigslist shopping

I love the concept of Craigslist shopping.  Buy things used instead of new, keep money circulating in the middle class, not pitching old stuff when someone else could use it.  Though being a bed-bug scaredey-cat I get a little nervous about it.  I'd rather get a piece from someone I know.  

That all said I read this tip recently on  Bungalow 23:

A Craigslist Tip

Did you know that you can subscribe to your favorite Craigslist searches in your blog feed reader?  That’s how I found my buffet.

Just enter your search criteria in Craigslist, then scroll down to the bottom of the results page.  In the lower right corner you will find an RSS link.  Right-click the link and then select “copy link address” from the pop-up menu.  Then open your feed reader (I use Google Reader) and paste that link address as a new subscription.

Now, whenever new items matching your search are added to your local Craigslist site, you’ll get notified in your feed reader.

I find that this technique saves me time by showing me only the content I want to see, and it helps me respond quickly after items are listed.

Happy hunting!

Monday, October 5, 2009

No more coffee house computing

I've read several articles about coffee houses in new york not permitting people to sit and work for hours while nursing a single cup of coffee.  It's understandable, they are small businesses and trying to make a living.  
Also understandable, I don't want to spend $3 every day on coffee I don't really want to drink while feeling bad about taking up table space.

ZOnks! Why not go to the library?  The public library has many many large tables, and old school supportive wooden chairs, and FREE WI-FI!  There is even a dedicated laptop table with a power strip at my library.

So I come here 2-3 days a week, its a short walk from my house, so I have a reason to leave and walk in the sunshine.  They let you bring your own snack/drinks and they are filled with interesting people.  You might be here right before toddler time starts and the place is filled with 2 year olds, waiting to be called into the conference room. You can watch the old men who come every day swap copies of the New York Times and the New York Post.  There are the teenagers who come in to play video games for hours.  All in all it is fairly lively.  

Check out Brooklyn library location and hours here