Monday, September 28, 2009

Thrifty Thoughts: Website Review

One cannot live on bread (even if it is homemade bagels) alone.

Or Thrifty Under Fifty.

On that note, this post marks the first in an occasional series reviewing other websites that aim to keep the thrifty on their toes, with money in their pockets.

First up:

Mia's site is a mixture of posts about her personal successes at staying frugal (such as saving 56% on her Kroger purchases) with tips for helping readers do the same (such as recapping the week's best deals at CVS).

Of greater interest to many readers, however, will be her list of seven no-strings-attached sites where you can sign up to get products and samples for free (see the top right corner of her site).

That, the colorful design and the plain old readability of Thrifty Thoughts make this a site worth visiting, if only for a minute or two.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Final Day for FREE Chocolate

Remember: Tomorrow is the last day to sign up to get a free candy bar from Mars at the Real Chocolate website.

Be one of the first 250,000 people to register after 9 a.m. and get a coupon in the mail for your choice of Mars product, including M&M's, Snickers, 3 Musketeers, Milky Way, Twix or Dove bars (I have two of the latter waiting for me as I type).

I've received just a handful of emails from Mars since I signed up for my first candy bar coupon in May-- a small price to pay for free chocolate.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Eye Candy for Your Neck: Original Pendants

Item: Glass Pendants

Price: $15

Where to Buy: Althea Loglia's Eye Candy

Review: The first booth I saw at the entrance to the Renegade Craft Fair in Brooklyn earlier this year was for Althea Loglia's Eye Candy, and I immediately stopped in my tracks.

The pendants on display featured vibrant original artwork fastened to glass stones. Each pendant, about the size of a half-dollar, came with your choice of a chain or leather cord.

It took me about 30 seconds to decide that I would be taking one of these pendants home with me, but much longer to decide which one. The pendant I finally chose, primarily yellow and pink, adds a splash of color to dark t-shirts. I wear it at least once a week and haven't tired of it yet.

Luckily, you don't have to wait until next year's craft fair for your very own Eye Candy pendant. You can easily check out Althea Loglia's selection of original and custom-made pendants.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Brownies for Foodies on the Edge

Image from: Baker's Edge

Item: Edge Brownie Pan

Price: $34.95

Where to Buy: Baker's Edge

Review: The perfect brownie, in my opinion, is the one directly in the center of the pan. Forget the chewy crust. Give me the fudgy crumbs.

But maybe I'm in the minority. I'm sure the people at Baker's Edge hope I am.

Baker's Edge sells "the first and only pan for edge lovers." Every brownie has two or three edges because the pan actually has interior sides.

Now if only they could come up with a pan with no edges whatsoever. Hmm ...

Monday, September 14, 2009

Save Money, Save Energy When You Cook

Usually the ads on the subway are just white noise for the eyes. I might try and decipher a Spanish ad now and then, but my eyes glaze over when it comes to yet another sign for a doctor or lawyer.

But an ad directly above where I was standing on a New York City N-train caught the eyes of my husband, Paul. Con Edison, our local electric company, has a series of ads highlighting specific ways to save energy, money, or often both. Take the tip Paul noticed:

If you use glass or ceramic in the oven, you can lower the temperature by 25 degrees and still get the same results.

Who knew? Not me. But if it's good for the environment and my pocketbook, it's good by me.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Stop the Home Fires Burning

Item: Fire Extinguisher

Price: $19.99

Where to Buy:

Review: It's not the flashiest gift, but a fire extinguisher may be the best gift you'll ever give.

My husband and I got a small fire extinguisher as a housewarming gift from a friend, and I thought it was a great idea. It's one of those things you just never seem to get around to buying. We had lived in separate apartments for several years, and neither of us had a fire extinguisher.

This is one of the the few gifts you hope never to use. And luckily, we haven't. No, a fire extinguisher is not a romantic gift. But it's one that the newlyweds or new homeowners just might thank you for one day.

Image from:

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

In Appreciation of Rice: Three Haikus

Rice! Oh cheap side dish--
You complement any meal
And you're tasty, too.

A pantry staple
For the cook on a budget--
Purchase rice in bulk.

Jasmine, brown or white,
In 15 minutes or less
My side dish is done.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Happy Labor Day!

Enjoy the holiday!

Thrifty Under Fifty returns on Wednesday.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Have a Ball Making Ice Cream

Item: Play and Freeze Ice Cream Maker

Price: starting at about $22

Where to Buy: (link to Amazon)

Review: Making your own ice cream sounds like a good idea, but I haven't had great luck. It tastes fine, but I've never gotten the thick and creamy consistency that I prefer. I'd rather go to Dairy Queen.

Maybe I'm just impatient. I'm not sure the Play and Freeze Ice Cream Maker can change my core qualities, but at least it would give me something to do while I'm waiting for dessert.

Like eCreamery customized ice cream, I learned about the Play and Freeze on an episode of Unwrapped. Who knew the Food Network would become my go-to source for the latest in ice cream technology?

Add the cream, sugar and vanilla at one end of the ball, and ice and rock salt in the other. Then, as they say, have a ball. Shake it, roll it, whatever. Twenty minutes later: Ice cream.

The original Play and Freeze makes a pint of ice cream. Hungrier? Get the Mega ball for a quart.

Image from:

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Feng Shui for Tough Economic Times

Earlier this year I received an email with an intriguing subject line:

"Feng Shui Tips to Attract Money For You & Yours!"

It was from one of the neighborhood shops, Hom. R.D. Chin, the author of "Feng Shui Revealed" would be speaking about a room's wealth areas and money power spots and explain how to make them work for you.

Interesting. But since the lecture came with a $40 price tag, I decided I would in fact be wealthier if I stayed home.

With a little of the ol' internet research, however, I did come up with these feng shui tips to help fatten your wallet:

  • Prosperity is associated with the back left corner of a room, facing in from the doorway. Clear clutter from this area and replace it with a symbol of prosperity, such as a bowl of coins.
  • Store your checkbook in the rear left corner of your desk.
  • Hang three Chinese coins tied together with red ribbon on the back of the handle of your front door, and be sure to cut the ribbon in increments of 9, such as 9 inches or 18 inches long.

No, I don't really believe any of this stuff really works. But in times like these, I guess anything's worth a shot.