Monday, May 3, 2010

Zara's May Collection

We have so many awesome little boutiques to shop in this city, but they aren't always budget-friendly. I find myself going to chain stores like H&M and Forever 21 to supplement things in my wardrobe that are too expensive at other stores. Unfortunately, the quality at these stores that specialize in mass-producing trendy items isn't always great. I recently saw some images from Zara's May collection, and I'm definitely interested.

Zara isn't a store that I've frequented up to this point, but I think I may have to stop by more often now. The prices aren't quite as cheap as those at H&M or Forever, but the quality is a lot better. They have been accused very often of copying high-end designer items, but let's face it -- most of us can't afford the real thing. Here are some looks from their May lookbook that I love!

This pretty bohemian style top would be perfect for weekend brunch!

The denim harem pants might be a bit tough to pull off, but I love the floral bustier top! I'd wear it under my navy jacket to make it work appropriate!

I've been sort of on a quest after a maxi dress for this summer, and the simplicity of this one is really appealing to me!

Here's our big knockoff -- this dress is pretty much identical to a piece that Miu Miu sent down their Spring/Summer runway. For some reason I like this dress (it doesn't come with the collar), even though I really don't like cats. I just find it sort of humorous and fun!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Sweet Potato Fries the Easy Way!

This weekend, I was feeling particularly cheap since every dime I make lately goes into my apartment payments. I was visiting my boyfriend in Boston, and normally we eat in one night and go out for dinner the next. This weekend, feeling bad that I was hesitant to split the bill and not wanting to let him pay for everything, I decided to make dinner in on Saturday night as well. We went to Trader Joe's for some food inspiration, and came out with one of my favorite foods of all time: sweet potato fries.

I'm pretty much a fanatic about sweet potato. I'll eat it in any preparation, but of course who doesn't love them as fries? The problem is, I'm very impatient and not particularly skilled at cutting up a sweet potato into fry-sized slices. Thus, whenever I try to make them at home, they always cook unevenly -- some of them burn and some aren't cooked enough.

Trader Joe's actually sells pre-sliced raw sweet potato so that all you have to do is bake them! Amazing idea! We cut the top off of the bag them came in, drizzled a teeny bit of olive oil into it and shook until the spears were lightly coated. Then we spread them out on a baking sheet and baked them for a half hour. Voila! Awesome sweet potato fries and SO easy to do! A bag that cost $2.69 was plenty for two people.

We had our sweet potato fries with onion and cilantro turkey burgers and grilled asparagus!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Onion and Cilantro Turkey Burgers

I've never been a huge burger fan, I'll admit. At cookouts, I'd rather eat the side salads! Then my mom made some great burgers last summer that I absolutely love -- turkey burgers with onion and cilantro! The ingredients are mixed in with the turkey, making the meat more juicy and flavorful.

I really prefer turkey meat over beef because it is less fatty and also less heavy in your stomach. The trick though is to buy ground turkey breast for this recipe, not just "ground turkey". You'll see a price difference (turkey breast is more expensive), but the content is worth it -- regular ground turkey is much more fatty because they throw everything in.

These burgers are best made as sliders, in my opinion. They are pretty customizable too -- I like mine with slices of fresh avocado on top, whereas my boyfriend prefers to mix diced jalapeno peppers into his burger mixture before grilling and topping it with pepperjack cheese.


-- 1 package ground turkey breast (about 1 lb)
-- Small bunch of fresh cilantro
-- 1 small sweet onion
-- slider rolls
-- optional add-ins like avocado, jalapeno, and cheese


1. Dice about 1/2 of the onion into small pieces
2. Rinse and pat dry the cilantro. Pull off the leaves and chop them finely until you have about 1 1/2 - 2 TBSP
3. Put the ground turkey breast in a bowl. Mix in the onion and cilantro. If you choose to add diced jalapeno, mix that in too.
4. Form patties with the mixture about 1/2 inch thick. You can make about 4 medium-sized burgers or 6 sliders with this amount. (Hint: You may want to refrigerate the mixture for a little while before you make the patties as turkey breast is really messy and will stick to your hands if it is warm).
5. Grill over an open flame or on an electric grill for about 7 minutes before flipping. Continue cooking until burger is no longer pink around the sides or in the middle.
6. Serve on a roll and enjoy!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Home Decorating: Cabinet Knobs

Now that our lease is signed and we are set to pick up our keys next weekend, my roommate and I are busy planning our new space! One of the less desirable aspects of our apartment are the kitchen cabinets which have ugly red plastic knobs on them. As if we shared a brain, roomie and I both uttered the same word at the same time after identifying this problem: Anthropologie.

Anthropologie has such a cute selection of home goods, and in particular they stock a lot of really pretty door handles and cabinet knobs. We picked out these painted porcelain ones to replace the plastic. I think it'll make our little kitchen look a little more rustic!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Hunt is Over! My Apartment Hunting Tips

Wow, so that was quick. As you might remember, I've been looking for an apartment. I only started a little over a week ago, but I found the perfect place that my roommate also loved and we signed our lease this weekend! It's actually the place I posted about before on the Upper West Side with the brick walls! So excited!! We have so much space (it's actually a 3 bedroom place, but there are only two of us. We're going to turn the third room into a guest room/reading room!) and the natural sunlight that comes into the building is amazing!

We ended up getting the place for a really reasonable price -- the people who have the apartment above us that is the exact same layout pay $700 more per month to live there, so we're lucky! It all has to do with rent stabilization and turn over rates, but I stared at so many pieces of paper with legalese on them this weekend that I can't even talk about it anymore without getting a headache.

Our apartment is in a great UWS location that's in between Central Park and Riverside Park, near grocery stores, restaurants, cafes, and around the corner from Blockheads and Ben and Jerry's. My two vices: margaritas and ice cream! I can't wait to start moving in after May 1st -- I'll probably clean everything before I move in stuff, but I'm hoping to be all moved in by May 15th! Until then, I will probably just incessantly browse the web for home furnishings.

A few people commented on my other post asking about how I found the apartments I've been looking at, so here are some of my tips for you:
  • Most brokers won't be too interested in you unless you are pretty much ready to sign a lease as soon as you see the place you like. They suggested to me that I plan on looking about two weeks ahead of when I want to move (yeah, I know -- yikes!). This seems to be true though, since technically my lease starts May 1st and I signed two weeks ahead of time.
  • That said, don't be afraid to make appointments to look at places more than two weeks ahead of time. It's good to get a feel for what's out there in your price range. Unfortunately this was a bit of a shock for me at first, but knowing what areas of town were better to look in made things easier.
  • Speaking of budget, try to figure out how much you can allow for rent each month. It's easier to start looking in your price range so that you aren't disappointed after you find your dream place and discover that you can't afford it. Typically realtors tell you to stay around 25% of your annual income.
  • Where should you look? This is a tricky question! I looked a lot on Craigslist. I know that it can be sketchy, but I ultimately found the broker that I rented through on Craigslist. It's sort of important to note that my apartment was never listed online (to my knowledge anyway), but the broker showed it to me when I came to look at another place that I'd seen advertised. Most realtors have a few properties within the same area, so be prepared to look at a few if you make an appointment.
  • StreetEasy is also another option, and is more legit than Craigslist. It is an NYC realty site and has cool features that can tell you a little bit about the neighborhoods that you are looking at too.
I hope that this helps a little bit! I'm totally new to this process too, but I'll let you know if I find out any more apartment tips!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Matrix Monday!

Yesterday was one of the biggest days of the year in the communications field -- the Matrix Awards! Each year, New York Women in Communications honors successful women within the industry at this ceremony, and this year's lineup was star-studded to say the least. I was fortunate to be invited to the luncheon, and I got to hear some inspirational stories and advice from women that I really admire.

The big buzz surrounding the event was an appearance by none other than Oprah. Her best friend, Gayle King, was honored for her work at O Magazine and Oprah presented the award to her. She gave a lovely speech about Gayle and called her an "MSF"; mother, sister and friend. Awww!

The most inspirational speech came from Doris Kearns Goodwin, an incredibly intelligent historian who has written best-selling books about U.S. presidents and her other love: baseball. She shared stories about her youth -- both about losing her mother at an early age, and about reinforcing her love of history through the ritual of giving her father play-by-play stories about the baseball games he had missed while at work.

The funniest speech by far was that of Tina Fey. She was honored for television, and her award was presented by Seth Meyers. By the time Tina and Seth were finished, the entire Waldorf ballroom was laughing at jokes about Tina and Sheryl Crowe's almost identical dresses and at stories about how Tina has succeeded in the very male-dominated business of comedy writing.

I have no idea how they will top this year's Matrix Awards, but I'm already looking forward to next year!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Apartment Hunting: The Saga Continues

This weekend I did a lot of apartment hunting. As much as it was fun and exciting, it was also sort of exhausting. When you go out with a landlord or realtor to look at places, you'll probably see a bunch of places in different price ranges with different fees and utilities, so it's easy to get things mixed up!

I started off on Saturday in the East Village. I'll be working in SoHo, so I figured that it would be cool to live in a neighborhood that I like and be able to walk to work. Unfortunately, this first day of searching was a harsh reality check on how much I can afford -- all of the places I saw were SO TINY and SO EXPENSIVE! The apartments were all two bedroom "wing" style, which means that there is a kitchen with a (tiny) bedroom off each side. No living area or common space. And these places on 2nd Avenue and Avenue C were going for nearly $2,000 a month before utilities. No way!

 Today was more encouraging. I looked at places on the Upper West Side, and felt a little relieved that there were places that I could see myself living that were also within my price range. I looked at a two bedroom place on West 106th Street that I really liked -- nice kitchen, big rooms and common space, and some exposed brick walls. I love exposed brick walls! As a bonus, I actually have a friend who lives on the same block and loves the neighborhood, so I know that it will be a nice place to live. My potential roommate is coming to take a look at the place this week, so I finally feel like this search is going somewhere.

I really love the fact that all of the places I've been looking at are pre-war buildings. They all have hardwood floors and awesome high ceilings. Most of them that I've seen have been renovated, but some are in tough shape. I guess you just have to be careful and do your research before you sign on a place!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Spot Dessert Bar

I usually get a craving around 4 o'clock in the afternoon for something sweet, and this weekend I caved in and went to Spot Dessert Bar on St. Mark's Place in those few hours before dinner. Oops!

Spot opened in December in a cool little basement space, and the decor is sort of earthy and fun. The menu is pretty simple and consists of only dessert items and drinks. Despite this being a dessert "bar" there is no alcohol served, but they have a pretty good selection of coffee and tea, including bubble tea.

 The desserts are pretty good here, and I am a fan of the cupcakes! Not only are they creative (try the sea salt caramel cupcake!), but they also come with edible sparkles on top. And really, you can't beat a sparkly cupcake.

The prices at Spot are sort of high -- you'll pay almost $3 for a cupcake and $4 for a Thai Iced Coffee -- but if you want to treat yourself, it's a fun place. Also keep in mind that if you plan to sit and eat at the restaurant, it's table service only, so you'll have to tip a waiter as well.

13 St. Mark's Place
6 to Astor Place

Friday, April 9, 2010

Cheap Eats: Hummus Kitchen

Do you find that warm weather makes you crave healthier foods? I do! In general, I tend to crave heavier foods during the cold months and fresh foods like vegetables and fruit during the summer! In celebration of the beautiful weather that we've been having, I want to go to Hummus Kitchen this weekend!

As the name implies, they serve up delicious, fresh hummus with warm pita. Yummmm! Of course, they have a full menu with wraps, but I really like the Mazze mixed platter. For $9, you can get a sampling of three different mazze (appetizers) with warm pita. The traditional hummus is fantastic, but I also recommend the oven-roasted cauliflower! So good! I am somewhat of a cauliflower lover so I might be biased, but I don't see how someone couldn't love this dish. Although it isn't the best I've ever had, HK serves a pretty tasty Babaganush (a roasted eggplant mixture) as well.

When I ate here last year, the weather was beautiful and we sat in front of a big open window that kept the air fresh while still allowing us to be out of the sun. There is outdoor seating as well! I'd recommend going on a weekend afternoon and ordering two mazze sampler plates to share and two glasses of sangria to wash it down with!

Hummus Kitchen
768 9th Avenue
C,E to 50th Street

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Apartment Hunt is On

These last few weeks have been incredibly busy, but I am happy to say that I am officially an employed college senior. I won't go into the details of my employment here (blogging about work is Blogging Cardinal Sin #1, right?), but let's just say that I'm extremely happy and excited.

Now that I know I'll be staying in New York, I need to find an apartment. Oh boy. I've always sort of casually browsed apartment listings in preparation for the day when I would finally move out of the Bronx and into... anywhere else, but thinking about it and actually doing it are two different things!

It seems that every Craigslist post that I respond to ends up being totally scammy -- note that if you get a reply that explains that the person had to leave the country suddenly and is renting out the apartment for a ridiculously low price, it's a scam. Amazingly I've had two variations on the same story: man with apartment on Upper West Side is in London either serving as a pastor or studying theology. Ack.

I'm going to try using a broker to find something, but then there's the other problem: I don't have a roommate. Miraculously, all of my friends are either moving away/out of the country, going to grad school, or live in New Jersey within commuting distance of the city. So then, how does one find a roommate? I'm pretty sure I can't afford to live on my own, but I also would prefer to find a place with someone as opposed to moving into someone else's preexisting space. And yes, I've checked Craigslist and let me tell you there are some WEIRD "roommate" requests on there!

So, I'll keep you updated on my NYC Real Estate progress and maybe if my apartment can handle more than 3 people at a time, I'll have a party to celebrate! Oh, and just in case you're wondering, I'm not really expecting a doorman at my building. Someday though... :)

Monday, March 22, 2010

Upcoming Events with New York Women in Communications

When I first moved to New York in hopes of becoming involved in the communications field, I didn't really know anyone who could help me out. During my freshman year I saw an ad for an event run by New York Women in Communications, and I decided to check it out. The event featured speakers from different areas of communications talking about how they got to where they are now, and the best part was that they were willing to hand out their business cards and answer your questions.

I ended up joining NYWICI, and I can't even begin to express how much the organization has helped me over the past few years. Not only have I met a lot of really amazing people who are so eager to help me, but I also received an incredible scholarship and internship experience from them last year.

I'm looking forward to the next few weeks, because there are some really cool events coming up! This Wednesday, there is a Round Table event where I'll be listening to the advice of professionals in two of my areas of interest: travel writing and online publishing!

In early April, NYWICI is holding a Night Out with Kate White, the Editor-in-Chief of Cosmopolitan. Last year this event was with Candance Bushnell, author of Sex and the City. The event takes place at the Diane von Furstenberg store in the Meatpacking District -- really cool space! In addition to hearing Kate speak, I'll get to catch up with some of my friends from the organization over cocktails!

Finally, in late April are the illustrious Matrix Awards! Last year, I got to attend Matrix as a scholarship recipient which was amazing! The awards are given to communications professionals in different categories -- this year NYWICI is honoring women like Tina Fey, Sheryl Crowe, Ina Garten, Marissa Mayer, and Gayle King. And yes, Oprah is presenting the award to Gayle. I'm so excited to see what all of the recipients have to say this year!

I'd strongly suggest joining NYWICI if you want some great connections in the communications industry. I've gained so many mentors and friends through them, and the events are always a really good time! They can be a little pricey if you aren't a member, but student members especially get great discounts to them!

The Smoke Joint

This weekend, I visited my boyfriend in Boston. We went to a BBQ restaurant for dinner in celebration of the beautiful, warm weather. Our meal was great, and it made me really look forward to going back to one of my favorite BBQ restaurants in New York: The Smoke Joint.

The Smoke Joint is in the Fort Greene area of Brooklyn, and I've never been disappointed. The ribs are great, but I love the pulled pork sandwiches too. Side dishes are completely necessary -- the cornbread has a deliciously sweet, crispy top. The one thing that we never go without is the corn on the cob! They drizzle them in an amazing house sauce that is tangy and addicting, and for only $2.50 you can't skip it!

If you head over to the restaurant this week, you'll be able to take advantage of the Brooklyn Restaurant Week menu, which will get you a ton of food for two people for $20. When I went last year, we got ribs, rotisserie chicken, cornbread, pickles and corn on the cob -- more than enough food for two people!

The Smoke Joint
87 South Elliott Place
Between Lafayette Ave and Hanson Pl
C to Lafayette Ave 

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Dreaming of Central Park

For the past two years, I've lived at Fordham's Lincoln Center campus over the summer. In addition to being close to awesome restaurants and shopping, I always loved that it was just a short walk away from Central Park. Unfortunately, graduating seniors can't apply for summer housing again this year, so it looks like I'll be apartment hunting before graduation.

I doubt that I can afford anything too close to the park, but it would be nice to be within walking distance again! I love going in for the afternoon, finding a nice sunny patch of grass and settling down with a book. I'm already thinking about my summer reading list... here's what I'm looking forward to reading this summer!
  • What the Dog Saw by Malcom Gladwell
  • The Travel Writer's Handbook by Louise Purwin Zobel
  • Beowulf on the Beach by Jack Murninghan
  • Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Liberty of London for Target

I was really disappointed with the Jean Paul Gaultier for Target collection. The thing about Target collections is that the cheap construction constraints that they have can make some of the pieces look really tacky. Everything in the JPG collection was polyester, making things stiff and shapeless, but Target made up for it with the Liberty of London collection that was released last weekend!
The pop-up shop that they opened in Manhattan sold out and closed two days early. The collection also sold out online immediately, but luckily I was at home in New Hampshire where people don't care as much about Designer for Target. Our stores were completely stocked with everything Liberty.
 I focused mainly on some cute housewares for the apartment that I don't have yet (but I will!). I picked up some adorable pillows for my couch, fabric covered storage boxes, and peacock feather coffee mugs and ceramic bowls for the kitchen!
 As usual, I had to be a little more discerning with the clothes, but I ended up walking out with some really cute pajamas, a blouse, and a printed cotton dress. I'd stay away from the polyester dresses in this collection -- the maxi dress was so cute, but I think the material would make you die of heat wearing it in the summer!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Barrio Chino's Grapefruit Margarita

My birthday was last week, so my boyfriend came down this past weekend to celebrate! We both really love trying new restaurants, and so we decided to check out Barrio Chino on the Lower East Side for dinner one night. I had wanted to try it for a while, and I was under the impression that the menu was Mexican-Chinese fusion. Turns out that it's really just Mexican with Asian-inspired decor, but that's OK because we had a solid meal anyway!

I've been somewhat obsessed with grapefruit lately. I don't really know why, but I suddenly eat it a lot, and recently bought grapefruit-scented hand soap for my bathroom. The second that I saw the Grapefruit Margarita on the Barrio Chino menu, I was totally sold.

While my boyfriend was happy with the random Mexican beer selection, I much prefer wine or a cocktail. The only problem is that I don't really like those cocktails that are so sweet that you forget you are having a drink because they taste like fruit punch. The Grapefruit Margarita was the perfect solution for me -- it was refreshingly tart, but not sweet at all. The only sweetness came from the sugar rim on the glass, which you can choose to forgo if you really don't want any sweetness at all. I got to indulge in a pink, girly drink without feeling like I was drinking Kool-Aid!

The Grapefruit Margarita will run you $10 at Barrio Chino, but I think it's worth it. The food is also pretty good. I had a Tequila Shrimp dish that came with rice and tortillas and avocado, and it was only $10 (yeah, I know, the same price as a cocktail -- but really, it's worth it!). I'd recommend getting to this place early if you can because it gets busy around 7pm, and I wouldn't recommend it for a big group since it's quite a tiny place!

Barrio Chino
253 Broome Street
Between Orchard and Ludlow
F to Delancey Street

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Nordstrom Rack

Sometimes if you need an escape from the city and a fulfilling shopping trip all in one, White Plains can be a great way to spend a weekend afternoon. If you can get an express train from Fordham, it's only a 15 minute ride away. I went this past weekend to get my Target fix (and discovered that the Jean Paul Gaultier for Target collection is so not worth the time), and I also stopped in to do some damage at Nordstrom Rack, which is in the same shopping center.

Nordstrom Rack is the outlet version of Nordstrom department store. They get shipments in from the department stores on a pretty regular basis, and discount the items pretty heavily (usually by at least 50%). Unlike some outlet stores that I've seen, these aren't just the cast-off items that nobody bought through multiple markdowns and clearance sales -- there are actually some really great pieces to be found! The only catch? You'll have to be in for some digging.

Some of the racks are separated out by brand, so that makes it easy if you have brands that you like. Other racks are separated by type of clothing, so you could have a $400 designer dress on the same rack as a cheap $20 dress by an obscure brand you've never heard of (and for good reason -- often lots of polyester!).

This weekend, I was able to get a really cute Marc by Marc Jacobs silk top that was marked down to $80 from $200, and a versatile silk-cotton blend wrap cardigan by BCBG for $70 marked down from $200. Not bad!

This is also a great place for designer jeans, especially 7 for All Mankind and J Brand, since they usually have quite a few styles in stock and they are marked down to around $99. They actually had my favorite pair of 7's this weekend because the wash is being discontinued, but they didn't have it in my size! Luckily I got a new pair for my birthday this week, or else I probably would have tried to justify buying them too big and having githem tailored :)

Nordstrom Rack is opening a location in Union Square on May 11, 2010, so pretty soon I won't have to go quite as far to get my bargain shopping fix! I just hope that it doesn't turn into as big of a mess as Century 21 always is.

Nordstrom Rack
7 City Place
White Plains, NY
Metro North to White Plains

Monday, March 1, 2010

Interview with Poppy King of Lipstick Queen

This post isn't entirely frugal-related, but I wanted to share these links to something that I've been working on recently for my beauty blog, One of the great things about writing is that you sometimes get the opportunity to interview really interesting people. I was at a beauty event for work recently, and I spotted Poppy King, the founder of one of my favorite makeup brands, Lipstick Queen.

I introduced myself and told her that I manage a beauty blog, and she was kind enough to give me her contact info so that we could set up an interview! She's really an accomplished entrepreneur -- she started her first company when she graduated from high school at age 18! Below are the links to my posts -- in Part 1, she discusses building her business and being an entrepreneur, and in Part 2 she gives makeup advice and talks about the general feeling that women have toward wearing lipstick these days.

Interview with the Lipstick Queen, Poppy King [Part 1]
Interview with the Lipstick Queen, Poppy King [Part 2]

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Jean Paul Gaultier for Target This Weekend!

I’m a big fan of the Designer for Target collections, because I’ve scored some pretty sweet pieces from them over time. On March 7th, Target will release the Jean Paul Gaultier collection, and I’m eager to get my hands on a few pieces of it for the spring!

My favorite things came from the Thakoon for Target collection, but I’ve amassed pieces since the beginning of the Designer for Target lines from Luella, Tara Jarmon, McQ by Alexander McQueen, and Rodarte. Shopping these Target lines can be sort of tricky, because the clothes often look better in the press photos than in person, and the sizing is often really sporadic. I’ve found that the more simple pieces are often the best ones to grab, because intricate detailing often doesn’t translate well with Target’s relatively cheap production.

To continue reading this post, go to

Monday, February 22, 2010

Annie Ji's Nail Salon

I hate spending money when I don't have to (aka when I could be spending it on clothes), but I do really love getting my nails done. A few months ago I started getting Calgel on my nails, which is a soak-off gel that can be used to create awesome designs (check out this post from my beauty blog to see one of my designs) because it doesn't chip at all. They last about three weeks, but unfortunately they cost $50 or more each time, depending on your design. I still get them when I have a little extra to spend, but in the meantime I'm getting regular manicures to keep my nails looking good.

I've tried many nail salons in the city, and it's somewhat of a struggle to find the perfect balance of clean, quality work and affordable. A friend told me about Annie Ji's on East 25th Street, and I decided I had to try it because they have the best deal ever: Monday through Thursday, you can get a manicure AND pedicure for $15! This place is super clean, and the nail techs are really thorough. They don't speak very much English, but they do an amazing job -- my nails don't chip for days after I get them done here! I recommend trying to get there mid-day if possible. They are open until 8pm, but once people get out of work this place gets really busy and you might not get an appointment.

Annie Ji's Nails Salon
230 East 25th Street (between 2nd and 3rd Ave.)
N, R to 23rd Street

Cheap Eats: Peep in SoHo

Another one of my favorite restaurants to grab lunch at in the city is Peep, on Prince Street in SoHo. They serve up some really delicious Thai food (yes, I know, another Thai restaurant... I just really like Thai) and not only is it a great deal, but it's also presented really beautifully.

During the weekend, you can get lunch at Peep for $7.50 per person, which includes a drink, appetizer and entree. Not a bad deal at all!

Quite possibly the most fun part about this restaurant is the reason behind its name: the bathroom doors are actually two-way mirrors, so that you can see the entire dining room from inside the bathroom while the diners can only see their own reflections. Sort of creepy, but sort of cool at the same time.

177 Prince Street (between Thompson and Sullivan)
N, R, W to Prince Street

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Freelance Writing

Paying for school and still having money left over to spend on eating out, clothing, or whatever other expenses I incur can be a little bit challenging. I've worked a variety of part-time jobs, but balancing school and work can get to be a hassle as well. I started freelance writing when I was in high school, and I've continued to use it to supplement my income in college. Not only does it allow me to make more money on my own time, but it's also something really enjoyable for me -- writing about the things you love is actually pretty easy!

One site that I write for is called Suite101. You have to submit an application to them in order to start writing, and once you are approved you sign a contract stating that you'll write at least 10 articles per 3 months, so it isn't an intense commitment. An article is a minimum of 400 words, so not anything too extensive. With each article that you submit, you assign keywords that are your bread and butter as far as getting paid goes. Compensation is based on the ad revenue that your articles generate, and you get a small percentage in return.
It takes a little while to get going, and you'll see that some days you will make only a few cents, whereas other days you'll make a few dollars. The nice thing is that if you write "evergreen" articles that continue to be searched, you can still make revenue off of them long after you've written them. I have 21 articles published, and I usually make a little over $20 per month. Some writers make way more if they write more often. It's not huge money for me, but as far as I'm concerned, everything helps!

My second suggestion is to keep your eyes on a great website called Freelance Writing Gigs. Each day, they comb through Craigslist and other job websites to find the most legitimate freelance job postings. They also always link to great articles with tips and advice about freelancing. I got my current blogging job through them!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Metro North Travel

Fashion Week is wrapping up in the next few days and even though I've had a lot of fun, I'm sort of looking forward to getting back to my regular schedule and sleeping at normal hours! I've been trying to avoid skipping as many classes as I can, and sometimes that means making a mad dash from class to the train to make it to a show on time. It'd be nice to just take the subway, but there is no way I'd make it there as quickly as I can on the Metro North.

Unfortunately, I hate paying $5.25 for a one-way ride, so I've been trying to figure out ways to cheat the system a little bit. I know it's not right, but sometimes a girl's gotta save a few bucks for dinner. I wish I could figure out the ticket punching system that they use on the trains, because I somehow think that this could be the key to solving my problem. So far, my only strategies are:
  • Read a book/newspaper/magazine, and don't surrender the ticket unless asked. Hopefully they walk right by.
  • Sit in a seat that has a punched ticket in the seat already. Sometimes this works and sometimes it works against you... if only I could figure out the ticket punching code!
  • If using a ten-trip pass, smooth out the punches if they didn't go all the way through. I discovered this once when a ticket collector punched a box that had already been used, although this method makes me feel really guilty because it feels more like tampering with the ticket. Probably because it is  tampering.
With all of this said, I don't recommend getting on a train without a ticket altogether. I did this once accidentally, and with no cash to boot. They actually copy down your license information and write you up a ticket for far more money than it would have cost in the first place. Definitely not worth it.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Surviving NY Fashion Week

Ports 1961 Fall 2010

As I've mentioned before, I edit and write for a beauty blog, The company I work for is also launching a fashion blog, so we've had our hands really full lately. Luckily, we were granted press access to New York Fashion Week and invited to some shows. It's been exciting so far since its always been something I wanted to do, and this season is the last one showing in the tents at Bryant Park. Yesterday, I saw Ports 1961 and Farah Angsana. Today I'm seeing Christian Siriano, and I have a bunch lined up for this weekend too.

From what I can tell so far, dressing etiquette goes something like this:
  • If you are a PR person you wear black (and, oh have I been there before).
  • If you are an editor it doesn't matter what you wear (I saw editors on the front row in rainboots and frumpy sweaters who looked like they hadn't brushed their hair all day. Of course, this does not apply to Anna).
  • If you are a celebrity/socialite, you wear the designer.
  • If you are a nobody (aka the majority of the people hanging around at the tents), you dress to the nines.
I'm trying to do something in between all of these because I do love dressing up, but I want to be relatively comfortable too, since I sometimes have long gaps between shows and spend a lot of time on my feet. Of course, this doesn't mean that I'm sacrificing heels all together, but some days I'm wearing flats.

I had to really exercise some self-restraint in order to keep myself from going on a mad shopping spree in the name of Fashion Week, but here is the strategy that I came up with: splurge all of my Bloomingdales/Macys/Sephora gift cards from Christmas (which I normally hold onto forever before I can decide what to buy), and buy all of my tights from H&M since they are really cheap there. And try not to spend too much more money on other accessories. Not much of a strategy, but sometimes even a frugal girl like me needs to sacrifice.

    How to Be a Frugal NYC Tour Guide

    My coworker flew in from L.A. yesterday (after a canceled flight on Wednesday!) for Fashion Week. She'll be here for ten days, and I'm really looking forward to it since we talk all the time, but never get to really hang out in person. She's only taken one very short trip to NYC before, so in addition the shows that we're going to this week, I also want to show her around the city a little bit more.

    I'm hoping that we can hit up some museums while she's here, because not only do I enjoy them, but they are also one of the less expensive activities out there! My plan is to make sure we go to MoMA next Friday, when the admission is free. I hear the Tim Burton exhibit that's going on right now is pretty rad! I also need to bring her to the Met, because she is a huge Gossip Girl fan, so it's sort of essential. Admission is on a donation basis there, so we can give them a few bucks and be on our way. Any suggestions for other museums that she should see?

    Monday, February 8, 2010

    Online Designer Sample Sales

    So, nothing is really new as far as the institution of the online sample sale goes. Gilt Groupe was the first online sample sale company to really make it big, and now there are a bunch of others popping up, like HauteLook and Rue La La. The story is the same pretty much everywhere -- you have to be invited by an existing user to get a login, there are set start and end times for each sale, and you have to either love what you get or send it back for store credit only (no credit card refunds). This isn't any different than a traditional sample sale, except that it's online and not in-store.

    This way, you don't have to play that little game with the other shoppers where you both want the same pair of jeans and you keep an eye on each other so that when one person puts down the jeans, the other makes a quick move to pick them up. I may seem like a fairly amiable person, but I've been known to get a little territorial at a sample sale. Be forewarned.

    While some of these sites do offer great discounts on clothing, accessories and cosmetics, sometimes the prices are still really high. If you think about it, a $1,000 Zac Posen dress is still $500 at 50% off. Luckily, Gilt just launched a great sister site called Gilt Fuse, which focuses on up-and-coming and young designers, subsequently making the prices a little more manageable. You can find some pretty awesome shoes for around $50 and dresses under $100, depending on the day. This week the site is featuring some of my favorites, like French Connection, Dolce Vita, and Torn by Ronny Kobo.

    Recently, I was able to get a top that retailed for $50 for $5 after I used a Gilt credit that I got at Fashion's  Night Out last September! Credits are another great initiative that these sites are using -- if you send someone an invite to join and they make their first purchase, you get a $25 credit!

    For more information, visit the individual sites. And if anyone needs an invite for any of these sites, I'd be more than happy to send you one :)

    Cheap Travel on BoltBus


    I love living in New York, but sometimes I do have to travel elsewhere. My boyfriend lives in Boston, so we've been trying out different transportation methods over the past four years since neither of us has a car. I used to take the faithful Lucky Star bus from Chinatown, but then Greyhound started offering the same price to leave from Port Authority. After much frustration with long lines, overcrowded buses, and even a pretty severe bus accident (not one of my better days), BoltBus was the answer to my prayers.

    BoltBus runs trips to Boston, Philadelphia, DC, and Baltimore from Herald Square. They post their schedules about four weeks in advance, and the first person to buy a ticket on each bus gets it for $1!  Buses typically leave on the hour and half-hour, depending on the route, so there are plenty of options. Also, they have a rewards program that gives you a free one-way ride after you take eight one-way rides!

    The things that really set BoltBus apart from the others are more legroom and free Wi-Fi and power outlets. I used to feel like the bus was a waste of time unless I had reading homework that I could take with me, but now I can write papers, do research, or even blog while I travel!

    To book a trip, go to As a helpful hint, I'd recommend signing up for an account and the rewards program, because if you purchase while you are signed in, your ticket will be designated with an "A". All tickets are divided into "A", "B", and "C", and the "A" tickets get to board first!

    Wednesday, February 3, 2010

    Cheap Eats: Pam Real Thai

    Last night, some friends from out of town came to visit before an event that they were going to. We wanted to get dinner together, but time was short and we're all broke college students. It's Restaurant Week right now, but unfortunately $35 per person for dinner before drinks, taxes and tip is a little out of our budget. We opted instead for a reliable alternative: Pam Real Thai Restaurant on West 49th St.

    I'll put this out there right away: Pam Real is nothing to look at. It's clean, quiet and cozy, but don't expect 'atmosphere' to be high on the priority list here. The food, however, is great. Solid, delicious Thai food. A friend of mine who has spent some time in Thailand, and he swears by this place for authenticity.

    The menu has a lot to choose from, and everything is really well-priced. You can play it safe with traditional Pad Thai, but the menu is really accessible and offers some other great dishes, like the Spicy Basil Noodle dishes and the Pad Cashew Nut. Entrees are around $8, appetizers about $4 or $5. Although I've never had it here, I've heard that the duck dishes are fantastic, though a bit more expensive than other dishes. You'll leave full and happy with a wallet that's not too light.

    Pam Real
    404 W 49th St (between Columbus and 10th Ave.)
    C, E to 50th St.

    Tuesday, January 26, 2010

    Brooklyn Skillshare and Brooklyn Brainery

    One of the things that I love about living in New York is that if you have an interest in anything, you can most likely find other people here who share your interests. Something that I didn't know before I moved here was that if you don't have an interest in something, it's really easy to find new things to be interested in here. Did that make sense? I hope so, but let me explain.

    Back in October, I heard about this awesome program called Brooklyn Skillshare that was taking place in (duh) Brooklyn. A warehouse in Brooklyn, to be more precise. Basically, it was a day full of classes on some pretty random topics taught by local people who simply wanted to share their skills. The classes ranged from Henna Tattoos to Maintaining Your Bicycle to Digital Music Recording to Raw Foodism, so there were plenty of things to interest both me and my boyfriend. We paid the suggested donation of $10 to get in, and learned a lot about some random topics that we never would have thought to pursue on our own. It was a pretty awesome day, and only cost us $10 plus the subway fare. How else would I have discovered the many wonders of the raw food diet? Who would have known?

    Now, the idea has expanded into Brooklyn Brainery! This month is the first "semester" of Brooklyn Brainery classes, which meet once a week for four weeks. Each class is an hour and a half long, giving you six hours of learning time on one subject. They are still taught by locals who are sharing their passions, and some of this semester's subjects include "Meat" (yes, seriously.), "Scents and Sensibility", and "Optical Collusion". The classes are only $25 for all four weeks, so if you love learning it is well worth the cash.

    Check out the schedules for Brooklyn Brainery here, and keep your eye on the Brooklyn Skillshare page for the next event date!

    Monday, January 25, 2010

    Frugal Living is Hard to Do (But Not Really)

    If you've ever been a college student (or maybe even if you haven't) you've probably had that stomach-churning moment when your bank statement dropped below ten dollars. Maybe even below five dollars. Or maybe, if you enjoy living on the financial edge as I do, you've managed to keep a whole $2.41 in your account.

    When I moved to New York City almost four years ago, I had visions of eating out at trendy restaurants, shopping for designer clothes, and partaking in the most sophisticated of events that the city had to offer. I just forgot about a few minor details: a) These things cost money. Sometimes a lot of money. b) I don't have a lot of money, and the little amount that I do have should theoretically be going toward my college tuition so that I can, you know, stay in New York? It's a vicious and unfair truth, but I can't avoid it. Luckily, with some careful planning and lots of work (literally, I work a lot), I've been able to get by quite well so far. Hopefully I'll be able to share some of my knowledge about living in the city on the cheap, and maybe pick up some tips from others too!