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.

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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.