Wednesday, April 29, 2009

31 Flavors of Ice Cream at 31 Cents Per Scoop

You had your free piece of grilled KFC chicken on Monday. Now it's time for dessert!

Stop at a participating Baskin Robbins between 5 and 10 p.m. today for 31 cent scoop night. Unfortunately there's a limit of three scoops per person, but who am I to complain about 7.5 ounces of frosty deliciousness for less than a buck?

See ya there!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Free Piece of KFC Chicken: Today Only!

KFC is promoting its new grilled chicken by giving one free piece to each and every person who walks through the door of participating restaurants today.

Shhhh. Hear that? I think the colonel is calling your name.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Saving Money While You Wine, Dine & Cook

I love to eat.

I love to save money.

So it's only logical that one of my favorite things to do is eat on the cheap. And now I get to help others do it too.

Check out The Thrifty Gourmet. The entire site is about saving money while you cook, dine and drink ... and I'm a contributing writer!

The featured restaurants are based mostly in New York, but the tips and recipes are good for everyone everywhere. Cherry scones. Gruyere and rosemary biscuits. Vegetable pancakes (that one's from me). Yummy. You'll get hungry just looking at the pictures.

Bookmark the site. Tell your friends. And don't forget to comment on the articles-- every other week the writer of a great comment will win a gift certificate to a New York City restaurant!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

5 Cheap & Easy Ways to Save the Earth


Saving the Earth won't be cheap. And it won't be easy.

But today, Earth Day, is a good time to eliminate some bad habits, pick up a few good ones, and maybe save a few bucks in the process.

  1. Turn off the faucet. If you keep the water running while you brush your teeth or while you're squirting soap when you wash your hands, you're wasting water without saving any time.

  2. Recycle. Happily, it's free in New York City. Look around and you may find free options in your city, too. Some grocery stores collect and recycle used plastic bags. In Columbus, a nearby church collected paper in a large bin in the parking lot.

  3. Listen to your parents. Turn off those lights! Better yet, turn off those energy-efficient light bulbs. (I'll admit I have yet to switch over.)

  4. Buy bulk. Individual servings, while convenient, use up too much packaging. You can easily split up food into individual portions in reusable containers. Besides, buying bulk is nearly always cheaper.

  5. Say "no thanks" to the bag. Do you really need a plastic bag to carry that carton of milk to the car? I didn't think so. And when you do get plastic bags, be sure to reuse them. Ours are mainly trash bag liners and kitty litter collectors.

Monday, April 20, 2009

A Greener Sandwich

Item: Reusable Sandwich Bag

Price: $5.50

Where to Buy:

Review: This reusable sandwich bag just may be my next gift to myself.

I can talk the talk about saving the world, but what I really need to do is walk the walk. I bring a peanut butter sandwich to work each and every day. That's about 20 flimsy plastic bags that I'm personally responsible for sending to the landfill every month.

The reusable sandwich bag appears durable and easily washable. And maybe my peanut butter sandwich will taste even better when I remember I'm being good to the earth, too.

This present isn't for everyone. But pair it with a copy of "An Inconvenient Truth" and you've got one green gift.

Image from:

Friday, April 17, 2009

Thrifty Politicians: They Really Do Exist!

Besides what I recall from a trip to Charleston as a child some 20 years ago, most everything I know about South Carolina I've learned from the state's native son, Stephen Colbert.

That is to say, I don't know too much.

But this article in the New York Times about Gov. Mark Sanford a couple of weeks ago caught my eye, and not because of his threatened refusal to accept federal money. Instead, I enjoyed reading how seriously this millionaire takes thriftiness.

"Former employees say he has been known to require his staff to use both sides of a Post-it note. When Mr. Sanford was a congressman, he slept on a futon in his office and returned his housing allowance. And when, after he moved into the Governor’s Mansion here, tax collectors declared his family’s home on Sullivan’s Island a secondary residence subject to a higher tax rate, he appealed and won."

Even I don't use both sides of a Post-it note (well, not always), and I'm far from a millionaire. Sounds like I have a ways to go before I can truly deem myself frugal.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Museums, Absolutely Free

I'd hardly call myself a culture vulture, but I do look forward to visiting museums in new cities. What I don't like is paying a $20 admission fee.

If you work for a large corporation, check if your employer offers discounts to tourist attractions. Thanks to my husband's place of work, we get into some of New York City's top museums (including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art) absolutely free simply by showing his work identification and a business card.

We first learned about these types of programs not from my husband's employer, but instead from a friend and his wife. When they stayed with us for a weekend last year, she got us all free tickets to the American Museum of Natural History. Score!

The lesson: Look for deals your company offers beyond your hometown. Discounts and free tickets may shave a few bucks off of your next vacation.

And another lesson: Periodically check if any offers have been added or eliminated. We recently tried visiting the Guggenheim only to be rebuffed at the ticket counter. It's relationship with my husband's employer had disappeared.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Duck! From Marshmallows?

Item: Marshmallow Shooter

Price: $24.95

Where to Buy:

Review: Lots of leftover marshmallows from your Easter basket?

How about a healthier-- and much more fun-- way to get rid of a few?

The marshmallow shooter is safer than a BB gun and drier (although stickier) than a squirt gun. Your child will be the star of recess.

On second thought, maybe this is a toy that's best used at home.

The shooter holds up to 25 mini marshmallows, and they blast up to 30 feet away. Pretty powerful stuff for a mass of sugary goodness. The best part for moms and dads? The shooter is dishwasher-safe.

And maybe you should consider getting two marshmallow shooters. You have to defend yourself, right?

Image from:

Friday, April 10, 2009

My Favorite Eggs of All Time

Item: Cadbury Eggs

Price: Less than $1

Where to Buy: Your local grocery store or drugstore

Review: Easter is in two days. Don't tell you haven't picked up a Cadbury Egg or two. Or twelve.

A Cadbury Egg has long been the easiest, cheapest way to make me happy on Easter morning. The creme egg is certainly a classic, with the frosting filling and even a "yolk" center. But the chocolate truffle egg is also a favorite, and even the caramel-filled egg when the mood strikes.

Easter just isn't Easter with a Cadbury Egg. By the same token, a Cadbury Egg is for Easter only. Last year I saw the eggs for sale in special holiday packaging (Christmas?) and it just wasn't right. It's like hanging a stocking in September or going trick-or-treating in February-- it just isn't done.

But downing a Cadbury Egg before breakfast on Easter morning? That, my friends, is certainly done.

Image from:

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Step Away from the Waxy Easter Bunny

Item: Cruisin' Chocolate Easter Bunny

Price: $22

Where to Buy: Lake Champlain Chocolates

Review: I'm not one to turn down candy, even if it's a waxy chocolate Easter bunny snagged at the grocery store for a few bucks.

But if you want to get something truly special for the Easter basket, get thee to Lake Champlain Chocolates.

The chocolatiers have the classic white, milk and dark chocolate bunnies, but the cruisin' bunny is a fun and tasty alternative. No matter which you choose, you'll be happy. My mouth is watering just thinking about them.

My husband and I recently visited the Lake Champlain Chocolates factory in Burlington, Vermont and had some of the best chocolate I've ever tasted. It's cliche, but their truffles really are to die for. I can't imagine that their Easter bunnies would be anything but.

Image from: Lake Champlain Chocolates

Monday, April 6, 2009

The Ultimate Easter Egg: Kinder Egg

Item: Kinder Eggs

Price: $29.99 for 24

Where to Buy: Dutch Market

Review: I was first introduced to the Kinder Egg in my high school German class. The hollow egg-shaped treat is made of milk chocolate on the outside, with a layer of white chocolate in the inside.

But that's not what makes the Kinder Egg (or Kinderei, as we referred to it in class) so special. The real prize is the toy inside the egg.

Each egg contains a capsule about the size of your big toe, and each capsule contains small pieces you put together to make your toy. It's all very Happy Meal.

Kinder Eggs aren't sold in the US, which makes it all the more special when you receive one (and all the more expensive to buy because of the shipping costs). The egg shape makes them a perfect addition to any Easter basket, but my stomach and I would happily take one at any time of the year.

Image from: Dutch Market

Friday, April 3, 2009

5 Cheap Knick Knacks for an Easter Basket

You can get some fun gifts for the Easter basket that are just as cheap as chocolate-- and a whole lot better for your teeth. Here's five:

  1. Money-- but not what you're thinking. Salvage one of those hollow plastic Easter eggs and stick a Sacajawea dollar coin or (even better) a $2 bill inside. It's not much, but their rarity makes them fun to receive.
  2. Slinky. Go old-school with a toy that requires no batteries or electric plug.
  3. Stickers. Tiny holiday-appropriate ones can even be used for some last-minute Easter egg decorating.
  4. A book. The only think I remember in the Easter baskets of my youth (besides the annual white chocolate bunny) is a "Choose Your Own Adventure" book that Mom and Dad stuck in there one year.
  5. Sidewalk chalk. What better reminder that sunny days are around the corner than a bucket full of pristine pastels?

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Want a New Purse? Love Books?

Item: Book Purse

Price: $100+

Where to Buy: Rebound Designs

Review: It's April Fool's Day, but it's no joke that I really want a book purse.

Yep, it's more than 50 bucks, but I figured I could get away with it today.

These purses are made from real hardcover books, and the designer says on her website that each takes 8 to 10 hours to create. The fabric and handles she uses look just as classic as the books themselves.

My favorite? The "Pride and Prejudice" purse, of course. But her catalog includes a few of my favorite books from childhood, too. Alas, most of the purses on her site have already sold, and I really want to visit the Eastern Market where she sells them in Washington, DC each weekend to see the purses for myself.

The book purse is the ultimate gift for the ultimate bibliophile, and it's climbing to the top of my own wish list.

Image from: Rebound Designs