Category Archives: generally great

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

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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Filed under Big Deal, generally great

Podcasts (the internet’s greatest secret treasure)

i’m here! i know i haven’t blogged in a while, and honestly, i was letting this silly recesh get me down… and me down = lazy.  lame right?  So, i’m here to tell you about something i really truly love, and it’s FREE and it’s entertaining and it’s gettin’ me through this recesh, and it’s podcasts!

i called them a secret treasure (up there in the title) because some people just don’t seem to know how truely super they are.  if you’re already down with the p-casts, you can skip this p-graph.  i’m about to get all explainy.  what‘s a podcast?  podcasts are mp3s (sound files) that you can download for free and listen to on your computer or on your ipod and they generally feature people talking.  who? anyone! can make a podcast and put it up online for you to download for free.  most of my favorite podcasts are radio shows that they record and put online.  why not just listen to the radio? because if i have the shows on my ipod i can listen to them whenever i want to.  they are great entertainment for when you are walking to the store, sitting on the bus, getting ready in the morning… i even like to do the dishes after dinner (i know, right…) because it gives me a few minutes to listen to my podcasts.  so, lastly how do you get these magical gems?  if you use itunes it’s super easy, just go to the itunes store and look under the audio podcasts section and you can search around for something that strikes your fancy.  you can also usually download a p-cast straight from its coresponding website.   there are approximately one bafillion podcasts in the world.

to help you find the very best, i would like to recommend my personal faves:

Long-time producer Jen Flash Andrews, Sean DeTore (Japans #1 mixer) and your host Luke Burbank.

Long-time producer Jen "Flash" Andrews, Sean DeTore (Japan's #1 mixer) and your host Luke Burbank.

tbtl (the show that is possibly Too Beautiful To Live) is a nighttime radio show from seattle that i just can’t get enough of.  Jen, Luke, and Sean talk about anything and everything.  From waterbeds (what happened to them?), to what music they want played at their funerals, and even baby ninjas.  Every night they go through the news events of the day and declare them awesome (rawr!) or not awesome (come on!).

this american life is a public radio show where every week they choose a theme, and bring you a variety of stories on that theme… (are you hearing ira‘s voice yet)?  It’s great story telling!  Some weeks it’s so funny, sometimes dramatic, always tons of fun.  itunes will only let you download the most recent episode, but their website lets you stream every episode they’ve ever had!

wait, wait, don’t tell me is a news quiz where panelists and call-in listeners answer questions about the week’s news.  Paula Poundstone is sometimes one of the panelists, so pretty much it’s a news quiz and a laugh riot.

raul and jerry enjoyed this dinner party at apt. #81

raul and jerry enjoyed this dinner party at apt. #81

the dinner party download is “the show that helps you win your next dinner party.”  Every week they give you a joke to break the ice, hints about interesting news stories to bring up, a few history facts to make you sound smart, cocktail ideas and more!  I don’t go to many dinner parties, but i always listen to this p-cast.

the relevant podcast is made by the folks who make relevant magazine.  they talk about funny news stories and have musical guest come in and play songs.  They are the reason i know about Pigeon John.

and now: a note about gratitude (also free, also awesome).  Maria/Julie Andrews isn’t lying.  When you feel down, cause i don’t know, maybe you find yourself in the middle of some sort of recesh maybe… simply remember your favorite things and then you won’t feel so bad.  Thanks for letting me share my favorite podcasts with you!  What are your faves?

✩tbtl photo used by permission from the lovely Jen Andrews (no relation to Julie…), thanks lady!

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Filed under FREE, generally great

Pop Corn Fun!

I am going to share one of my absolute favorite discoveries of the past year. Popping popcorn on the stove! Last summer i found myself sharing an apartment with a roommate who was firmly anti-microwave, which is how i discovered that corn popped on the stove is not only so much more tasty than the soggy microwave bagged kind, it is considerably cheaper! Cheap and Delish! Sounds like the perfect recesh treat.

Now, my variety of stove popped corn is the sweet kind (some call it kettle corn). It is soo good! How good? Let’s just say i’ve been known to make myself a pot-full and eat the entire batch for lunch! (warning: that is not actually healthy).

ingredes The ingredes:
1/3 cup yellow popcorn
1/3 cup sugar (regular type)
2 Tbsp. veg or canola oil
< 1 tsp. salt

a note about these amounts: this recipe is the perfect amount for the size pot that i use (you can see it in those pictures there). I used to use 1/2 cup popcorn and 1/2 cup sugar and slightly more oil and salt, because i had a bigger pot. What i’m saying is, the amounts are pretty flexible, just remember 1:1 popcorn to sugar (some recipes use less sugar, but they are crazy).

Also, i find it helpful the measure out the ingredes ahead of time.

oilStep 1: Put 2 Tbsp. of oil and three “test kernels” of popcorn in the bottom of a medium sized pot. The oil should just coat the bottom of the pot and not cover the kernels (that would be way too much…).  Now, put the lid on and turn on the heat.  I set my current stove to 6 (out of 10), you don’t want it too hot, but you also don’t want to sit around all night waiting for the corn to pop… So I guess, i will declare, set your stove to medium high.

all inStep 2: As soon as a test kernel pops, add in the rest of the popcorn and all the sugar.  I pour the popcorn in first, then sprinkle the sugar in evenly over the kernels.  Return the lid onto the pot.  The kernels will not start popping immediately, because the popcorn and sugar have cooled down the oil a little…



shake

Step 3: Shake, shake, shake.  Initially shake the pot about every 10 seconds.  Once the popcorn starts popping big time, shake it every 3 seconds.  Just keep shaking away and the popcorn will do its thing.  Keep this up, until you go 3 seconds with no new pops.





Step 4: Pull the pot off the stove and sprinkle in the 1/2 teaspoon of salt (you can always add more later, if its not salty enough, but it’s a big bummer if your popcorn is over salted).  Then put the lid back on and give it some more good shakes.

done
Step 5: Dump your popcorn into a bowl, and walk away.  This is the hardest but most important step.  When you transfer the popcorn to the bowl it is still very sticky and hot.  When you come back in five minutes it is much cooler and crispy!  Just give it a little stir and the individual pieces will break apart.  Now all that’s left to do is eat up!


Going to the movies is so terribly spendy ($10 ticket + crazy pricey snacks!) yuk. This popcorn is so yummy, you might just grow to prefer borrowing a DVD from a neighbor (it’s free-er than renting!) and making yourself this irresistible popcorn.

Today, I bought a heaping cup of popcorn kernels (from a bin at a produce store) and it cost me 88¢! That’s just 29¢ a batch.  A 5 lb. bag of sugar gives you about 11.25 cups for about $2.50, so for our batch of popcorn we use just 7¢ of sugar!  Add in the pennies worth of salt and oil and you have a totally super treat for about 40¢.  That is crazy.  If you have two friends over and make two batches, all three of you can eat yourselves sick for less than a dollar!  mmm.

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Filed under $5 meals, Big Deal, generally great, Party Tip

My Ninety-Nine Cents

Today’s tip: Don’t be afraid of the 99¢ store.

99centsstoreWhile there certainly is a lot of junk to be found in a 99¢ store.  There are also terrific deals.  For me, the trick is remembering that the 99¢ store is even around.  When you think of some item you need to purchase, before you run out the door to target (and trust me, i’ll take any excuse for a trip to target), just PFT and ask yourself really quickly, could i get this at the 99¢ store?

I once found myself in need of a bucket, for an art project.  Now, at homedepot i’d expect to pay around five bucks for a bucket, but lo and behold they have them at the 99¢ store, for… 99¢!

So, you might not need a new bucket too often, but what about batteries?  I’m not kidding, packs of batteries for 99¢!  Other household items that you can get for cheap include foil, cleaning products, trash bags, sandwich bags.

Another great use of the 99¢ store is for silly gifts.  Some people aren’t down with getting their friends cheap-o gifts, but i most certainly am!  (Especially if you take the time to make them a nice birthday card, that shows you really care).  Once I gave my friend some wine that came in juice boxes for her birthday.  Yes, 3 juice-boxes of wine for 99¢!  It was disgusting wine, but so hilarious!

Also, some kitchen items can be quite a steal at 99¢.  An ice-cream scooper.  A colander.  Those corn-shaped corncob holders.   Juice glasses (3 for 99¢! can you believe it)?

Allow me to offer a quick word of warning about the 99¢ store.  Sometimes 99¢ is just not enough to get you the quality that you need.  In other words: yes, they sell pregnancy tests, but really?!

speaksWell, i don’t want to leave you with sketchy feelings toward the 99¢ store.  The point of this post was to make you more comf with the idea of shopping there.  So let me leave you with my ever so impressive all-time fave 99¢ store purchase:  speakers that plug into the headphone jack of my ipod!  The quality isn’t super, but does it play my favorite tunes to lull me to sleep without having to fall asleep tangled up in my headphone cord?  You bet your bottom dollar it does!  and it’s a good thing it does too, cause now you can keep your bottom dollar and take it down to the 99¢ store and find a 99¢ gem of your very own!

Thanks to Ian Broyles for sharing his 99¢ store photo via a creative commons license.

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So they say there’s a recesh.

Hello economically troubled world!  There’s this thing called a recesh (recession, this is the only time i am going to clarify that!) going on.  I’m over it.  I’ve never had money.  So i just want to share tips for having some fun during this silly recesh.  Welcome!

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