Free Christmas Cheer!!!

It’s that time of year!!!!  Time for nativity scenes, and cookies, and love, and poetry:

Let me share a christmas poem i wrote, just about this time last year:

There’s one thing I like more than fries.
A tale, with three men who are wise,
And shephards galore,
And Mary, and more…
Santa! Jesus! My two favorite guys!

Oh, it’s also the time of year for Christmas Music!!!  And the itunes store is giving away some FREE Christmas tunes!  Just a great sampler of many artists singing some great classics (and some songs that are new to me, but still full of magic and cheer).  It’s mostly super cheestactic (barry manilow, anyone?) but that’s only the best type of christmas music there is, right?

enjoy! enjoy! enjoy!

(that link right there, it’ll take you to the tunes)
i’m sure this free goodness won’t be around for ever, so get it while it’s hot!

ho ho ho, merry christmas, everyone!

(got your own christmas poem to share? comment, y’all)!

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Filed under Big Deal, FREE, generally great

All This… and Rye Bread, Too.

ttownHoly Smokes! Wow!

I found myself in a mood yesterday and i accidentally cured it with a shopping spree!!

Confession time, this is what i bought:

✿  Two books for me (my fave genre: tween fiction)!
✿  Two books for friends.  I haven’t even decided who to give them to (they’re old faves that just had to be boughten).
✿  Three golden picture frames (well, gold-colored anyway) for an art project i’ve decided to attempt.
✿  A new dress!  It’s just a super cute plaid number that goes great with the tights i got for my b-day.
✿  A sweater for my sister.  It looked like something she’d like.

I know what you’re thinking… good gracious, get a grip lady!  Also, what’s the damage?

Drumroll, Ya’ll!… $13.74!

No, seriously!  The dress was $1.50.

That’s right.  Just the longest intro/brag-fest ever to tell you about a magical land called Thrift Town!

Now, this in not a blanket endorsement of all thrift stores… Unfortunately, for those of you who don’t live in NorCal/some parts of Texas I’m talking strictly Thrift Town.

Thrift Town is a Town of Thrift that is above and beyond your typical goodwill/salvation army set-up for two big ol’ reasons: Organization and Pricing.

“…let me break it down for you, again. You know I only say it cause i’m truly genuine…” -lauryn hill

Organization:  World-class organization = less work digging around for me.  At thrift town clothes are organized by gender, then style (long sleeve blouse, pant suits, etc.), then by size! (this is great.  none of that, “oooh! cute!… ugh! size 2!” just “cute! my size!”), and at the sf location (and here’s the kicker) by color!  Seriously, organized!

Pricing:  Real value, folks!  The prices are crazy low.  And i don’t mean compared to shopping at Bergdorf’s, I mean compared to other so called “thrift” situations.  At the Goodwill near my parent’s house they recently set up this across-the-board pricing scheme, where all of one type of clothes are one price: dresses are $7.99 (not a deal).  At Thrift Town, dresses start at around $2.99 and the one I bought had a blue tag so it was 50% off!  (Goodwill has stopped doing that colored-tag extra-savings thing…lame).  I could go on all day… the books were 69¢ and 99¢.  The sweater i bought for Ani cost 69¢ (don’t worry, i already told her…).

Now, I didn’t take any photos at T-Town, but check out someone elses’s haul i found on flickr!  Not bad!

ttownhaul

thanks for the photos tgifreytag and Steven_Morris!

psst! hey you! Thrift town has several locations, but they aren’t everywhere.  Know any good thrift shops in your neck of the woods? Comment!

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Spice up your life!

oh, hi there.

i have something very important to tell you:  you might be spending way too much for spices and herbs!

i feel like i have this very special knowledge that i have to get out into the world.  There is an aisle in your grocery store where the herbs and spices are super inexpensive.  And that aisle looks a lot like this:

spice

it’s usually tucked in near the hispanic food section.  (or if you’re at Lucky’s in Oakland, it’s in the farthest back corner flanked by some fake plants and the employee entrance to the seafood section).  what i’m getting at, is that these spices are probably hiding from you.

but they’re well worth the search because every last one of them is under a buck.

let’s do some comparison shopping.  cumin: one of my most favorite spices (mmm, guacamole).  Safeway.com reports that the cheapest plastic bottle of the stuff is $3.49!  Now, we look around for the bagged spices and…

cumin

79¢!  can you believe it?

Now, they don’t have every flavor of spice, and if you’re tricking out your fancy fancy spice rack for the first time, by all means buy some nice bottles.  Just don’t forget the bagged spices when your supplies are running low.  69¢ to refill the oregano?!  yes, please!

secret bonus: here is another really powerful spice that’s well worth dropping 75¢ (it’s secret, because it is only available to folks who can read italics).

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Couch Surfing!

Summer is here!  Time to start planning a fabulous vacation!  Of course, a great getaway can be super spendy, but it doesn’t have to be.  And that is where couchsurfing.org comes in.  On couchsurfing.org you can find free lodging just about anywhere in the the world.  Woah, yeah, i said it… FREE LODGING ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD!  That’s a huge chunk of the vacay budget that you can just knock out of the equation.  It sounds too good to be true, but it is absolutely true.

This is how it works:  Friendly folks all over the world offer up their couches and fill out profiles that you can browse to find the perfect place to stay.  Couchsurfing.org currently lists 834,377 couches in 232 countries!  Just shoot off an email and if the host is free during the days you’re looking to stay with them, and they like the looks of your profile, you’ve got a free place to rest your head.

Now, you can check their website for more specifics, but I want to just share my super experiences with couchsurfing/hosting:

One weekend two friends and I decided to make the drive from Portland (where we lived, at the time) to Seattle.  It was Thursday night and we decided to drive up the next day!  We browsed around couchsurfing.org and found some friendly looking hosts that had been recommended highly by other couchsurfers, and sent out a few emails.  We received a quick reply from Robin, who was not too busy in the coming days and happy to have us.  A few emails later and we had the logistics all worked out, Robin’s phone number in hand, and we headed off toward the great wet north.  As we drove closer to Robin’s house we called to report our ETA and mentioned our plans to head into downtown for the evening.  When we arrived at Robin’s place she had a map showing the route from her house to downtown all printed out for us, with points of interest circled.  Couchsurfing hosts are super at making recommendations for awesome things to see and do (and eat) in their home-cities!  That’s just how sweet couchsurfing hosts are.  For little more than gas money and the price of a beautiful flower bouquet we picked out at Pike’s Place Market to show our gratitude to Robin, we had a fantastic weekend (of course we spent money on food, but we would have had to eat if we sat at home all weekend too).

A free place to stay is stellar, but if you don’t have the time for a getaway, consider hosting couchsurfers!  It’s loads of fun.

After our great couchsurfing experience in Seattle,  my roommates and I listed our apartment and our lovely gold velvet couch on couchsurfing.org.  In the next couple months we hosted a several couchsurfers, and always had a blast.  It’s always fun to meet new folks and travelers tend to come with a lot of fascinating tales of where they’ve been and where they’re going.  It’s also fun to be the expert on your hometown, ready to recommend your favorite restaurant or park.  And here’s a BONUS: on more than one occasion, we had couchsurfers offer to cook a meal for our apartment to repay our hospitality!  A lovely canadian couple cooked us a top notch curry.  One dude, got in our apartment’s fancy start-of-autumn dinner and contributed a delicious veggy/cheesy dish that knocked our socks off.

I think I’ve set a new record for gratuitous use of the exclamation point with this post, but that’s just how enthusiatic I am about couchsurfing!  Check it out.  No, seriously, check it out.

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Keepin’ it Classy: Recesh worthy home decór.

Just because money is scarce, it doesn’t mean Jack B. Nimble should have to give up his death-defying  hobby.

Likewise, your lovely home doesn’t have to go to shambles.  Luckily, for just about three bucks you can class up your abode and give Jack something to jump about.  It’s time for a new set of DIY candlesticks!

Don’t worry, you won’t need any crystal cutting skills or silversmithing experience.  Just foam board and a sharp x-acto knife (also, paper, scissors, and a pencil are handy).

Got ‘em? Great. Let’s go!

Step one: Make a candlestick pattern. Fold a piece of paper in half, draw half a candlestick (along the seem) and cut it out for a perfectly symmetrical candlestick pattern. (not feeling designy? no prob. here, use my pattern: candlestick pdf).

Step two: Trace that shape onto a piece of foam board four times. (We’re making a set of two candlesticks here, and you need two halves to make each whole).

Step three: Cut it out!  Well, cut them out… the four candlestick shapes. Here’s where having a sharp x-acto knife come in handy.

Step four: Cut a 1/4 inch slit out of the top half of two of your candlestick pieces and the bottom half of the other two. Like so: 

Step five: Assemble away! Just slip together piece one and piece two. Voilá. Lovely!

Now just put in some beautiful candles (i got mine at a dollar store, where they were two for a dollar).

In just a matter of minutes you can have your very own fancy-pants candlesticks!  Also, these candlesticks make wonderful gifts.  You can even disassemble them and send them through the mail to a far away friend!

p.s.  If you try this out, email me photos, or post a link to your photos in the comments.  I’d love to see them!

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An Ode to Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

I would like to take a minute to sing the praises of the Grilled Cheese Sandwich.  The perfect recesh lunch.  It’s crazy delicious AND so inexpensive!  Let me break it down for you:

•Two slices of bread 20¢ (and that’s the good kind, you can usually find decent bread for $2 a loaf)
•2 oz. of cheddar cheeze 56¢ (or less, for two generic brand american singles, fancy!*)
•margarine 4¢ (8¢ for butter, if you’re classy like that)

your basic GCS is just 80¢!

extras: an egg 21¢, a slice of turkey 40¢, half an onion (carmelized first, of course) 34¢, a slice of bacon 22¢, half a tomato and some mustard 50¢.

for just over a buck you can have a fabulous lunch!

allow me to inspire you with two tales about my best grilled cheese sandwich experiences in recent history.

the face of jealousy

A couple of weeks ago, I was house/cat-sitting for my brother.  (There’s a perfect recesh survival scheme if I ever heard one: house/cat-sitting = free food from my bro’s fridge, and my bro’s fridge = fancy food).  So I had access to some nice wheat bread, muenster cheese slices, sliced turkey with herbs already on it, and actual butter.  The cheese melted to stringy perfection and the slightly heated herby turkey was just mmmm.  It was so delish, Bix, the cat looked super jealous!

And now, the tale of the sandwich in that mouth-watering photo up-top there.  That, my friends, is the main course from one of the most delightful meals of my life.  I was in Seattle with my dear friends Raul and Keighty.  We were looking for cheap food near pikes market (it’s tourist-ville.  $10 crumpets? no thanks), when Raul spotted “Restautrant”.  (the place had an actual name on their menus, but we chose to call it by the name on the sign outside).  Keighty and I had identical meals: a cheese and egg sandwich grilled to gooey perfection, and a rootbeer float that came as a glass full of ice cream and a can of rootbeer, yum.  It was a delightful meal and our bills each came in at under five dollars!

Well, now you’ve heard what i have to say about the gloriousness of the perfect GCS.  You absolutely MUST czech this out:

10 of the most magnificent GCSs ever!
(complete with inspirational photos and recipes)

* i know that cheese singles are fancy, because as a child we only got to have them at grandma’s house, and they come individually wrapped!  that is fance!

p.s. what are your fave GCS recipes? comment, please. i’m always up for trying a new form of melted cheese on toasty bread.

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Filed under $5 meals, Big Deal

How one man’s trash, can put money in your pocket.

Hey All.  Sorry for the recent lack of posts. I’ve been busy scheming.  Today I would like to share my latest scheme with you.

It’s all about upcycling.

I first considered the idea when I saw it on a super clev post on the blog The Slacker Method.  They suggested getting some cheap thing at a garage sale, fixing it up, and selling it on craigslist fo a nice li’l profit.

Fast forward a few weeks, i was running in my neighborhood and i passed this little gem: 

it just looked so sad. with it’s middle drawer so sunken in, and wheels on only three feet.  i thought about it the rest of the run home, then turned around, walked the couple blocks back to it, and rescued it. Those three wheels may have made it comically lop-sided, but they sure were handy for wheeling the little guy back to Lee Crest.

In the days that followed i made a trip to ACE hardware for sand paper, paint, a four inch wide paint roller (cute!), and a little piece of wood to fix the sunken in drawer situation. It was tough to give up some of my hard earned money at the hardware store, but i knew i would have fun painting (also, the money i spent wasn’t too “hard earned.” It was from my last money making scheme: doing some usability testing for a start-up).

So i spent a few hours over the next few days sanding, painting, and listening to podcasts.  I used plates and cups and a pencil-on-a-string to draw circles on it, and i painted those in too.  It turned out pretty cute, if i do say so myself.

And, in fact, I did say so myself… in my “Super Cute Dresser!” craigslist ad.  I got an email that very night, and the next morning a lovely little family showed up to take it home for their new baby’s room.  I made back my supply money, and then some!

So if you’ve got some time on your hands, and some creativity in your heart… Upcycle.  It’s fun and fun-ding my next several trip down to the coffee house.

p.s. got a recesh survival scheme of your own? comment away!

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