Saturday, January 31, 2009


When it comes to books, I have a real problem. One of my favorite pastimes is browsing the bookstore for books to buy that I will never actually have the chance to read. Rather than continuing to spend money on these wonderful dust collectors I have rediscovered one of my favorite childhood haunts: the public Library.

The Los Angeles Public Library has definitely stepped into 21st century. Audio and E-books are downloadable online. If you don't have a library card, you can pre-register for one through their website. Have a question for the librarian? A librarian is available via IM between 10 - 5:30 pm Monday through Friday. And don't forget, your local library will rent you movies for free too.

Because why buy the book when you can get the milk for free.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Two on Melrose

Here's a time filler and a money saver for those of you in the Melrose area.

Closing today is Gallery 1988's Under the Influence exhibit, an official art tribute to the Beastie Boys.  If modern, pop art is your thing, then you'll enjoy this collection of diverse pieces.  And, be sure to check out the Dave Crosland piece on east wall.

Right next door to Gallery 1988 is the Moon Nails Salon.  Right now they are offering a $10 Express Manicures and $15 Express Pedicures.  The salon is cute, clean, and walk-in's are welcome.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Dollars and Sense

If you walk around bookstores these days you'll notice giant sections of books devoted to helping the unemployed.  I'm astounded by the number of books about building your resume, finding the right job for your personality, personal finance, and saving money.  What amuses me even more is the price of these "cost cutting how-to guides."  Upon browsing I noticed that Trent Hamm, the author of  365 WAYS TO LIVE CHEAPLY,  runs a blog.  Sweet relief! Something for free!  

Trent's blog, The Simple Dollar, is entirely focused on finances and ways to save money.  It's a virtual treasure trove of information.  I recommend it.  And, if you want to buy Trent's book, save yourself $4 and buy it used on  

Friday, January 23, 2009

Friday Freebies

In my on going search to come up with low cost forms of entertainment, I've stumbled upon ABC 7's Friday Freebies report.  Each Friday they publish a list of free activities as part of their "ABC7 on Your Side" segment.  This week, they spotlight the Doo-dah parade in Pasadena, the California African American Museum, and Marina del Rey's Sunday music series.  Click the link and check it out for yourself.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Help Wanted

NPR's Daydreaming is the latest program to be hit by the sagging economy .  Rather than take pity on themselves, the hosts of this radio show have decide to help the rest of us find employment.  Write into the show, tell them about your situation, and if selected they will tell your story on air.  There are certainly stranger ways to find employment!

Read all about it here.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Price is Right

Have some time to fill?  Bored of the television?  Already finished that new book?  It's time to get out of the house and be entertained.   Here is my pick of the week:

ART LA at the Barker Hanger runs from Jan. 23rd - Jan. 25th, showcasing over 60 modern art  galleries.  Get some culture at the bargain price of $7.50.

Put on your black turtleneck, stick your nose up in the air, and pretend that painting on the wall doesn't cost more than your rent.

Purchase tickets here:

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Steak for Change

It is a new day in America, and cause for celebration.  Why not treat yourself?  The Smoke House in Burbank is offering their "Beat the Clock" special with 25% off entrees when you dine between 4 pm - 6 pm Monday through Friday and 3 pm - 5 pm Saturday and Sunday.  

Fill your belly on the Smoke House's famous garlic and cheese bread, order that filet mignon, and raise a glass to our new President.  

Monday, January 19, 2009

Free for All

Who says that nothing good comes free?  Tomorrow, January 20th, in honor of the inauguration of Barack Obama, Krispy Kreme is giving away 1 free donut per customer.  No other purchase is necessary.  Pick up your donut, pour yourself a tall glass of milk, and celebrate the 44th President.  

Aren't you proud to be an American?

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Somewhere That's Green

The streak of good weather continues here on the West coast.  Temperatures this weekend promise to be in the high 70s, low 80s.  My suggestion: grab a blanket, pack a basket of food, and head to your local park.  Not sure which park to visit?  There are 2 websites to help choose from all that L.A. City and L.A. County has to offer.

Bring some reading material, sports equipment, and maybe even your dog.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Shaken, Not Stirred

Lola's on Fairfax offers one of the best happy hour deals in town.  Between 5:30 & 7:30, 7 days a week, they offer $5 martinis and $5.50 appetizer specials.  

Not into martinis?  They offer a $5 special on margaritas, Kir Royale, capaernias, and all house wines.  If $5 is too steep, they offer $3 Bud on tap and $3 Woodchick pear cider.  

Appetizers include mini-burgers, pizza, short rib tacos, chicken spring rolls and many others.

It's a mixed up muddled up shook up world, except for Lola(s).

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Sundance Shmundance

Not heading to Park City this year? That doesn't mean you can't create your own film festival.  

Don't forget the classics:  The New Beverly Cinema is currently showing BADLANDS and SUGARLAND EXPRESS.  On January 17th they are starting their Swords & Sorcery Festival for only $5.  And, from January 21 - 31 Peter Bogadanavich will be the guest programmer, introducing many of the screenings.  Take that Sundance!

In the mood for a Western? The Egyptian Theater at the American Cinematheque is showing THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN on Friday January 16th, and GUNFIGHT AT THE OK CORRAL on Saturday January 18th.  

Still not satisfied?  The Aero Theater in Santa Monica is showing a series of French New Wave classics followed by a few days of Hitchcock.  With movies like this and the beautiful weather we're having, who would want to go to the snow?

Alright, alright.  I get it.  You want to be able to schmooze with Industry elite about the fancy schmancy films you're seeing.  Well, Sundance is posting many short films from their shorts programs online so you too can watch them.  Starting tomorrow, you can download 10 shorts at the Sundance iTunes store.

Maybe we'll make it to Park City next year.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Cheap Gourmet

A gourmet meal at a restaurant can cost upwards of $200.  A gourmet meal at home costs upwards of $50.  

Christiane Jork is here to help.  She recently published The 99 Cent Only Cookbook, adapting many recipes from The Joy of Cooking using only ingredients found at the 99 Cent Store.  Talk about being resourceful.  The book sells on for $10.39 new, but buy it used for as little as $7.72 and save enough to make one of Christiane's recipes.

Just be certain to check the expiration date on those packages!  

(And then head to Trader Joe's for some $5 flowers and $2 Charles Shaw to complete the experience.)

Monday, January 12, 2009

My Mind on My Money and My Money on My Mind

Let's be honest, who isn't thinking about money these days?  The rich are getting, well, slightly less rich, and the rest of us are just trying to hold on to what we've got.

For the first time since grade school, it's time to think about a budget, and not just as a means of learning math.  Rather than commit to Quicken, or Microsoft Money, try Pear Budget.  Right now, Pear is offering a free 30-day trial, with monthly service starting at $3.  Pear Budget can help you see where you are wasting your money and how you can apply it to the things that you really want and need.

Without a job, I've also had plenty of time to watch Oprah.  Last week, Suze Orman offered her new book, 2009 ACTION PLAN, in PDF form, free on  I don't know about you, but I sure am hoping the 2009 ACTION PLAN tells us where we can buy those snazzy jackets Suze wears.

Spend wisely.  Live well.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Drink like a Hot Chick

It seems like those most inclined to get free drinks often are often the ones who don't need them. Fortunately, the internet has yet again come to the rescue in the form of Especially in a city like L.A., where some bars can charge up to $7 for a glass of beer, this site ensures that you can have a good time without breaking the bank. This website offers editions for other major cities as well, so if you're traveling it can also be a good resource.

Today's tip comes from Brian Sadecki, fellow deal hunter and all around good guy. Thanks Sadecki! I'll buy you a (free) drink.

Deals and Steals for the New Year

I've been looking out for deals all week long.  These are the best that I've found:

This year Disneyland is offering their best promotion yet.  Register your birthday on the Disneyland website and receive free admission on your birthday!  What could be better than a free trip to the happiest place on earth!!

This week Jet Blue has been slashing fares, starting at $39 each way.  Jet Blue is by far the best airline to travel, with more leg room in Economy class, Direct TV at each seat, and free snacks. Now is the time to book that trip you thought you couldn't afford!

Jiffy Lube / Bear Mountain or Snow Summit Lift Ticket Deal
Jiffy Lube is offering 2 for 1 tickets to Bear Mountain or Snow Summit for midweek lift tickets with any regular service.  If you ski/snowboard, this is quite a deal.  Regular price for 1 adult/8 hour ticket is $53.  Find a friend and save some cash!  This promotion is only advertised on the radio, not their website.  But, on their website they also offer $5 off coupon. Save money on that needed oil change and head to the slopes!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Happiest Hour of the Them All

One perk to being unemployed: Happy Hour.  I will bring you a weekly review of the best drinks, deals, and meals out there.

The first bargain of the year is at Hamburger Hamlet.  They offer half price drinks and appetizers in the bar from 3 pm - 7 pm.   The plates are regular size - not scaled down versions of their normal portions.  I recommend the Mediterranean plate and 3 Cheese BBQ Chicken Quesadilla.

And remember: Tse Tse Fly.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Have the Time of Your Life

Who said culture is only for the rich? is advertising steep discounts to see the musical Dirty Dancing at the Pantages opening this May.  Tickets are priced between $33.00 - $69.00.  Whether it's a  guilty pleasure, or genuine pleasure, this should be a worthwhile indulgence.  Personally, I hope "Be My Baby" and "Love is Strange" are among the musical numbers performed.  Too bad it's not a sing-a-long.

It should be noted that while some of the earlier performances are sold out, some late May shows still have Orchestra seats for $69.00.

Because nobody puts Baby in a corner.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Those darn pesky Resolutions

We are 5 days into the New Year, and many of us have made this resolution at least once in our lives: Get in shape!  They say nothing worth having is free or easy and we all know what a challenge fitness can be. Excuses about not going to the gym or taking that run around the block are aplenty.  (It's too hot. It's too cold. Parking at the gym sucks.  I work too many hours.  The dog ate my sneakers.)

Two solutions to this problem:  let's you customizes your running (or walking) routes to get a fairly accurate measurement of the distance of your workout.  It also has features to calculate how many calories you burn, and search routes suggested by other readers.  The best part, it's free.  And, if you are lucky enough to have an Iphone, they even have a downloadable app for you!

A slightly more expensive solution, but a good value, can be found at Costco.  (Dad will be so proud!)  Costco is selling a 2-year membership to 24 Hour Fitness priced at $299.  From the research I've done, this membership works at Sport and Active locations, and can be used at multiple clubs.  Considering I used to spend $60/mo on a membership I rarely used, 24 Hour Fitness for roughly $12.50/mo seems like one hell of a bargain!

And let's be honest, I lost my best excuse for not exercising!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

My Favorite Meal

There are few things I love as much as a good brunch.  Now, I know that brunch isn't exactly the fanciest meal, but nothing beats meeting friends on the weekend and sharing the first meal of the day with them.  Something about it sets the tone for the day just right.

While brunch at a restaurant may not exactly break the bank, I've searched and found a great recipe to serve to friends for brunch at home.  This recipe for Savory French Toast is prepared the night before and popped into the oven 35 minutes before serving time.  With limited prep and clean up, it's a perfect excuse to have a "brunch party" at home.

This french toast recipe is a variation on one from Better Homes and Gardens, and the even better news is that every ingredient can be purchased at my favorite store, Trader Joes.  Cheap and delicious!  Enjoy!

Savory French Toast

1 Long French Baguette, Sliced  in 24 pieces 3/4" inch thick
1 1/4  Milk (Low Fat works well)
1 1/4  Orange Juice
6 oz Cream Cheese
1/2  Cup Golden Raisins
1 tsp Ground Cinnamon
Maple Syrup
Powdered Sugar
  1. In a small bowl, combine the cream cheese, raisins, and cinnamon to make a cream cheese spread.
  2. Spread a generous amount of the cream cheese spread on half of the baguette slices and sandwich them with the other half of the roll.  The result should be 12 stacks of baguette, cream cheese, baguette sandwiches.
  3. Place  the sandwiches in a baking or casserole dish.
  4. In another bowl beat the eggs, milk, and orange juice.  Pour over the sandwich stacks, making sure to soak each one.
  5. Cover the stacks and chill 2 to 24 hours.
  6. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  7. Cover a baking sheet in non-stick foil and place the french toast stacks uncovered on top.
  8. Bake from 30 - 35 minutes, turning halfway through baking. 
  9. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve with maple syrup.
Makes 4 servings of 3 stacks.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

From a Life of Excess

So it seems that the less you have to do, the more time you have to sit around and think of ways to spend money.  Suddenly it seems that everything in my new home needs some kind of repair and the curtains that I loved so much before, now, just won't do.  To combat what seems to be an inevitable spending spree, I've decided to take action:

It's time for a garage sale.  I imagine it is the only way to absolve myself from a previous life of excess.  Buying things I didn't love or need. Not  returning those duplicate gifts sooner.  And maybe the cleaning of the garage will clear my chi!  (And finance any home repairs I feel compelled to make.)

Oh, looking forward to being free at last from all the clutter.  The rest will go to charity.

I spent Friday cleaning the garage.  I haven't set a date for the sale, but it will happen.  I promise.

Behold the picture of the garage sale pile!!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

HAPPY 2009!!

Welcome to 2009!  We all can probably agree that 2008 was one roller coaster ride of a year and that we deserve a much better year ahead.  

Stay tuned as I blog about how to fill time and live well without living beyond your means during this "recession." 

Tip for today:  Attend a New Year's Day celebration, eat well, and bring home some leftovers!