Thursday, October 29, 2009

Frightfully Low Prices on Halloween Candy

Kids clean up on candy when they trick-or-treat, but it's the day after that's the best time for chocolate for everyone else.

That's usually when grocery stores and pharmacies cut the prices on their stash of Halloween candy by 25 percent, 50 percent or even more.

Stock up! Hershey Kisses in orange wrappers are still Hershey Kisses. And coffin-shaped, caramel-filled chocolates are much tastier than they look.

The stock goes quickly, so don't wait more than a day or two after trick-or-treating in your community to make your own candy run.

Monday, October 26, 2009

3 Cheap and Easy Halloween Costumes

It's less than a week until Halloween and you're still without a costume. And without money.

Now that's scary.

But no fear! Make these 3 easy Halloween costumes on the cheap with things you already have tucked away in your closet.

1. Michael Phelps: Skip the swimsuit and put on a pair of windbreaker pants and a jacket-- red, white and blue if you can pull it off. Slap some goggles on your head and dig out those old medals you won in elementary school (or make your own with aluminum foil and ribbon). Voila. You're an Olympic superstar.

2. Ghost. It's an oldie but goody. You're never going to use that old white sheet in the linen closet anyway, so you might as well poke a couple of eye-holes in it. Bonus: You can use it as a blanket if you're outside and it's freezing. It's like a Halloween Snuggie.

3. Well-Read. Yep, I'm a bookworm and a dork and this was my last-minute costume for a holiday party at a friend's house a few years back. I carried a pail (I was a well) and wore all of my scarlet clothing (I was all red). Very punny, I know, but also very easy.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

At the Airport: Skip the Taxi, Take the Bus

I love to fly.

But I hate to make my way into the city -- any city -- from an airport that is generally several miles away.

Cabs are expensive. Independent bus services that promise hotel drop-off are convenient but still make a dent on the pocketbook.

The best option? Public transportation.

I've had good experiences taking public transit to and from airports in several U.S. cities as well as Berlin and Munich, Germany. The buses have been on-time and not as crowded as you might think. Best of all, they're cheap. For a couple of bucks you're downtown in nearly the same amount of time as if you had taken a taxi. And with the extra cash you saved, you can buy yourself a good meal.

When I first began opting for public transit at airports, I was nervous about finding the right bus. No need to worry. Just look for all of the other people with luggage, and that, most likely, is your bus stop.

Admittedly, public transportation isn't always the best option. At Port Columbus International Airport, in Ohio, I would hesitate taking the bus unless your hotel is very near to a stop. But in a mid-size city like this, you're probably going to rent a car anyway.

But for major cities with reliable bus or subway systems, you won't find anything much easier -- and certainly nothing cheaper -- than good ol' public transit.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Indian Music with Your Indian Food

Like Indian food?

What about Indian music?

Even if you answered yes to only one of those questions (or if you're curious about either!), I've got the deal for you.

Kitchens of India is packaging each of their heat-and-eat meals with one free Indian classical music CD. There's five CDs available, and my husband eats so much of this stuff that we must have the whole collection by now.

For about $2.50 apiece, our local grocery store carries selections like Pav Bhaji ("Mashed fresh vegetables simmered in butter, and lightly spiced.") and Pindi Chana ("Chick peas simmered in an aromatic tomato gravy.") Bon appetit.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Wall Art That Starts Conversations

The last thing the world needs is another reprint of "Starry Night."

Instead, turn to your digital photos to decorate your walls.

For a fraction of the cost of the framed pictures you can get in any old store, I ordered 8 x 12 prints of a few of my favorite photos taken by either my husband or me, like the one above of the Brandenburg Gate at dusk. Then I bought simple glass frames at Ikea for just a couple of bucks apiece.

Now my hallway is lined with seven prints that not only are pretty, but also bring up good memories whenever I stroll to the living room. I visit Austria, France, Mexico and even Disney World in a few steps, if only for a few moments.

This is a great way to decorate your own home, or a thoughtful gift for a friend or family member with whom you've shared a vacation. They're also perfect conversation starters-- visitors always want to learn where the pictures were taken once they learn we snapped them ourselves.

Monday, October 12, 2009

PriceSpider: Website Review

Sites like Orbitz and Expedia make it easy to compare plane tickets from a variety of airlines.

Now you can do the same for your other purchases.
shows users the real-time best prices from online retailers of everything from televisions to toys. What's more, you can get price alerts by email and even see a six-month price history so you can decide if that "deal" is really so great.

The selection of products on the site isn't that extensive, but the range of prices on many products makes PriceSpider an indispensable place to start looking. For example, PriceSpider reported available online prices between $255 and $600 on one digital camera when I explored the site.

With a laptop on its last legs, I now know where I'll begin my search for a replacement.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Leave Your Newspapers at the Airport, I Plea!

Bad airport surprise: Flight delayed two hours.

Good airport surprise: That day's New York Times stashed under your seat at the gate by some kind soul who passed through this purgatory before you.

I'm a big fan of the paying forward of newspapers, especially on various forms of transportation.

I'll leave random sections of the weekend paper on the subway. And, as that unknown person did for me at LaGuardia in June, I'll often stash my newspaper or magazine on a nearby seat at an airport gate for another lucky traveler. A man even asked for our leftover sections once as my husband and I waited for a plane in Detroit.

We were happy to oblige. Not only is a free newspaper much thriftier than buying an overpriced paperback, but you'll also feel smarter when you're done.

I get a little sad when I see airport employees throw out newspapers, but I know they're just doing their jobs to tidy the gate. In Columbus, I once saw someone confront an employee, saying she purposely left the newspaper for someone else to enjoy. It still went in the trash.

But to all of my fellow gate-litterers, I give you my sincere thanks. You have saved me from many hours of mind-numbing, gate-changing boredom.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Half-Price (or More!) Cupcakes at Eleni's

What's better than cupcakes?

Half-price cupcakes.

And what's better than half-price cupcakes?

Four cupcakes for the price of one.

Eleni's in Chelsea Market, 75 Ninth Ave., has some of the brightest, tastiest cupcakes in New York City. But at $3, they're also expensive, even for Manhattan.

But get there in the last hour before they close at 7 p.m. (Saturday and Sunday) or 8 p.m. (weekdays), and everything behind the bakery case is half-price. That's why I found myself at Eleni's at 6:55 p.m. on one recent Saturday.

My husband and I each chose our favorites, and at the last moment the girl at the counter threw two more cupcakes in the case gratis.

Four gourmet cupcakes for $3? That's a deal my stomach can get behind.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

FREE Cookie from Mrs. Field's

It's National Cookie Month!

As if you needed a reason to eat cookies.

But just in case you do, here's another reason: they're free.

Stop by any participating Mrs. Fields store TODAY between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. for your free chocolate chip cookie.

Not sure of the location of your closest Mrs. Fields? See the store locator.