Friday, March 27, 2009

Cheap Chick Weekend Picks, March 27th-29th, 2009

Friday March 27, 2009
Play Day in Union Square
3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Get in touch with your inner child with a range of free activities that include jumping rope, blowing bubbles, hopscotch, and making chalk murals.
Cheap Chick Info: Free!
Location Info: Union Square Park
Subway Info: N,R,Q,W,4,5,6,L to 14th Street Union Square

Leni Stern at BAM(part of BAMcafé Live's 10-year anniversary.)
Bar opens at 8 p.m., Concert starts at 9 p.m.
This actress turned singer/songwriter performs jazz as well as rock and the blues!
Cheap Chick Info: Free!
Location Info: BAM Café, 30 Lafayette Avenue Brooklyn, NY
Subway: 2, 3, 4, 5, B, Q to Atlantic Ave. D, M, N, R to Pacific Street

Saturday March 28th, 2009
Brooklyn Brews
1:00 p.m.
Learn about Brooklyn's past and present breweries at Fort Greene Park. Check out the park's Saturday greenmarket while you're there!
Cheap Chick Info: Free!
Location Info: Fort Greene Park Visitor Center, 85 S Oxford St., Brooklyn, Fort Greene Visitor Center. Enter the park at Myrtle Avenue and Washington Park.
Subway: G to Fulton, R,Q,B,M to DeKalb

Gothic Cathedrals Scavenger Hunt With the Lunch Club
1 p.m.
Join this adult's events group and discover the secrets of these sacred buildings.
Cheap Chick Info: $10 in advance or $15 at the event, pay for subway rides, Sign-up here:
Location Info: Meet at Grand Central, in front of track 40, though cathedrals are all over the city
Subway: 4,5,6,7,S to Grand Central

Sunday March 29, 2009
Bacon Takedown!
5 p.m.
What came first, the bacon or the eggs? Ponder this and other breakfast-related questions as you sample enough bacon to clog the arteries of you and the person sitting next to you eating that bacon sandwich wrapped in bacon.
Cheap Chick Info: $10 to taste each entry!
Location Info: Radegast Hall & Biergarten 113 N. 3rd St, Williamsburg, Brooklyn
Subway: L to Bedford Avenue

Editor's Note

Cheap Chick Weekend Picks are forthcoming, check back this afternoon!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Saving Money on a Midtown Afternoon

Believe it or not, but lurking behind the neon lights and theater marquees, there are savings to be had as you weave your way through Times Square's tourists and street vendors.

HB Burger

My friend and I started our midtown afternoon at HB Burger, an offshoot of Heartland Brewery. The menu had a variety of burgers including a taco turkey burger with homemade salsa, a jalapeno jack cheese burger, and an antipasto burger with mozzarella red peppers. I stuck to the regular burger and my friend ordered the more unusual selection of the Favorite Chef's Veggie sandwich made with black beans, brown rice, quinoa, veggies, and tomato chutney. The burgers were good, but I think the sides such as the cheddar/bacon tater tots and the fried dill pickle spears and the homemade sodas were the real stand-outs here. I ordered the tots and have to say that I wasn't too impressed with the number of tater tots in my serving, though they were delicious. We both had the homemade pomegranate lime soda, which was good, but just a touch too sweet. Our server was nice, but not terribly attentive though we were among the few people in the restaurant. Be warned, at first glance the prices look extremely Cheap chick-friendly, but the sandwiches don't come with sides, you need to order them separately. Even when ordering a side and a homemade soda, the meal averages around $13 plus tax and tip, which is still a pretty good deal in midtown.

The New York Times building

We headed to the New York Times building amid offers of Obama-condoms "for all those hard times" from street hawkers. Before entering the Times building we made the pleasing discovery of artwork by Tom Otterness, the same artist whose sculptures decorate the 14th Street and 8th Avenue subway station.

Once inside the "Hall" on the lower level of the Times building there was a free art exhibit where we looked at black and white photographs of famous musicians such as James Brown, Bobby McFerrin, and Ray Charles as jazz music played in the background. The most eye-catching element of the display was a mirrored box in which a guitar, sax, cymbal, and clairinet and other instruments were suspended in mid-air.

Virgin Megastore

At the Virgin Megastore, I was hoping to pick up a bargain DVD (preferably the first season of Gilmore Girls,) since the store is closing, but when we got there it was obvious that the vultures had been picking at the store's corpse for awhile. I was tempted by the blu-ray Planet of the Apes set (still $70 after the discount) and the first season of Charles in Charge, but didn't end up making a purchase. I did love the book of baby sci-fi names and was surprised by the number of books about Gwen Stefani that were on sale. Weirdly there were a lot of football T-shirts advertising teams from around the country, but I couldn't figure out why someone would travel to New York to buy a football T-shirt for their local team, must have been the 60 percent off signs...My friend had better luck than me and ended up buying (among other things) a Master of My Domain shirt (if you don't get the reference please step away from the blog, I repeat step away from the blog...)

The New York Public Library

Our last midtown stop was the main branch of the New York Public Library, which offers a number of permanent and changing exhibits.

The first exhibit we checked out was Afghanistan or the Perils of Freedom, which displayed photographs taken by Stephen Dupont, a photojournalist, filmmaker, and war correspondent. The pictures covered a selection of photos taken duringt the 1990's to the present-day as well as photos from his "Axe me biggie," series, ("Axe me biggie," being a crude Anglo phoenetics for the Dari phrase of, "Mister take my picture.") in which he used a polaroid camera to take photographs of local people on March3, 2006. The photos, which were all in black and white, were a compelling mix of contrasts, the middle-aged man in a business suit, men in robes and turbans, boys playing soccer, a woman with a veil billowing out behind her like a rippling wave, and soldiers with their guns. This exhibit is not for the faint-of-heart though, disturbing images of drug users, a young girl wounded in a rocket attack, and a baby suffering from burns will surely tug at your heartstrings and as my friend pointed out, make the news reports and stories more real than any facts or figures about Afghanistan shared on the nightly news.

We also visited the portrait room on the third floor where we saw historic figures such as John Jacob Astor, Samuel Morse, Washington Irving, George Washington, and Truman Capote imortalized in paint.

The Art Deco Design: Rhythm and Verve exhibit was the lightest library offering we looked at, with jazzy Gershwin and other tunes playing in the background. I learned that the Art Deco style developed in France though the actual term was coined in the U.S. during the 1960's. The movement was shaped by the Surrealist and cubist art movements as well as events like the opening of King Tut's tomb (in 1922) and even the building of Manhattan skyscrapers. The library exhibit incorporated fabric patterns, book covers, and posters with vibrant colors particularly bright blues and pinks. My favorites were a book binding with a swirled gold pattern, a print in a book of a woman in 1920's period dress looking at a bird, patterns created with bugs and butterflies bearing wild colors and designs, and a decorative green period vase.

The cost of this afternoon? The $13 or so dollars spent on lunch!

Cheap Chick Info: HB Burger (burgers run around $7-$8, sides about $3, and the homemade sodas around $3. Virgin Megastore: Pay for what you buy, most items 50 to 60 percent off. A few $10 DVDs are available. Remember store closes on March 29, 2009. New York Times building exhibit: Free! New York Public Library Exhibit: Free! The Afghanistan photo exhibit runs throughl March 29, 2009.

Location and Subway Info:
HB Burger
Location Info: 127 W. 43rd Street bet. Broadway and 6th Avenue
Subway: F,V,B,D to 42nd Street, 7 to Fifth Avenue, N,R,Q,W,1,2,3,A,C,E,S,7 to 42nd Street/Times Square

New York Times building
Location Info: 620 Eighth Avenue, between West 40th and 41st Streets
Subway: N,R,Q,W,1,2,3,A,C,E,S,7 to 42nd Street/Times Square

Virigin Megastore:
Location Info: 1540 Broadway between 45th and 46th Street
Subway: N,R,Q,W,1,2,3,A,C,E,S,7 to 42nd Street/Times Square

New York Public Library, Main Branch
Location: Fifth Avenue at 42nd Street
Subway: F,V,B,D to 42nd Street, 7 to Fifth Avenue, 4,5,6,7,S to Grand Central

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Cheap Chick Bargain Bulletin: Salon Savings! March 26, 2009

I'm talking about one of those salons that are parties, not Jean-Louis David! If you're up for some high culture at a low price (free!) than come to Le Soiree Rouge, a salon for jazz, opera, poetry, and music. This event may be cheap but it's fancy so no flip flops! The requested attire is night club black with a touch of red.

Cheap Chick Info: Free! Event starts at 9 p.m.
Location Info: 163 Allen between Stanton and Rivington Street
Subway: F, V to Second Avenue

Friday, March 20, 2009

Cheap Chick Weekend Picks March 20-22, 2009

Friday March 20th, 2009
Opera at Galapagos
8 p.m.
It ain't over til the fat lady sings! Enjoy scenes from opera and musicals.
Cheap Chick Info: $20/$15 w/student ID, get tickets here:
Location Info: Galapagos Art Space in DUMBO, 16 Main Street at the corner of Water Street
Subway: F to York, A to High Street

Saturday March 21st, 2009
Free viewing of Ghandi
1 p.m.
See this Academy Award-winning movie starring Ben Kingsley and directed by Lord Richard Attenborough in a high-definition theater.
Cheap Chick Info: Free! Call the Events RSVP line (212) 833-7858 or arrive 30 minutes before showtime for standby tickets.
Location Info: Sony Wonder Technology Lab, Sony Plaza at 56th Street and Madision Ave.
Subway: N,R,Q,W,4,5,6 to 59th Street and Lex, E to 5th Avenue, F to 57th Street

Sunday March 22nd, 2009
Match Game in Manhattan
If you're not getting your fix of Charles Nelson Reilly and Brett Somers from Game Show network reruns, then this may be the event for you. NYC personalaties serve as the panel for contestants chosen from the audience to play this version of the classic game show.
Cheap Chick Info: $10
Location Info: Bowery Poetry Club, 308 Bowery
Subway: F to Second Ave., 6 to Bleecker

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Lunches for Less!

Here are just some of the ways I've saved on lunches over the past few years.

PB & J and Lunch Go-together: Rediscover this childhood staple for your workday lunch. Keep jars of PB and J at work, bring in some bread to toast, and make a nice sandwich for yourself. Round out with some carrot sticks, chips, and apple slices (or cookies!) to make this meal complete.

Two words: Bowl Appetit: These eponymous red containers can be found at almost any Duane Reade, Rite Aid, and CVS in their food sections. Mix in a little water, microwave, and voila! A hot rice or pasta bowl for lunch. Mix in pre-cooked chicken or cheese and add carrot sticks or toast as sides. These little beauties are less than $2. Personally my favorite is the penne pasta though it is often the hardest flavor to find.

Six Pack of Savings: Don't buy a soda each day for your lunch, here in NYC this can cost you 75 cents to $1.50 a pop (and that's just for a can!) Here's what you do, go to your local grocery store and buy a six pack of canned soda for $3. That's just 50 cents a soda for six lunches. What a deal! Note: buying a liter of soda will also save some $, but I've found it's harder to carry and carries a bigger risk of a co-worker helping themselves due to easy access to the screw-top.

A Chip off the Cheap Block: Sandwiches and potato chips just go together, I agree, but you shouldn't be paying $1 each time you want to add that salty goodness to your lunch. Instead buy a container of Pringles potato chips for a $1.79 or so and you'll have chips for about 3-5 lunches. If you enjoy some tortilla chips with your Mexican-inspired lunches, buy a large bag of Tostados tortilla chips and take some to work with you in a plastic bag.

Slice of Savings: A slice of pizza is still under $3 so while this may not be the healthiest lunch option, it's still one of the cheapest and quickest. Chips can be added, but for a healthier option grab some carrot sticks to go with your slice.

Fast Food is Your Friend: There is a lot to be said about supporting your local deli and certain co-workers may scorn your choice of a chain, but most fast food or quick-service restaurants are cheaper or include more extras than their mom-and-pop or local counterparts. For example, at Subway you can get a filling sandwich (toasted if you want it), chips, and a soda for $6-$7, whereas at most local sandwich shops, many sandwiches (by themselves) start at $6-$7. I also love Chipotle and while it isn't the cheapest option, if you already have your can of soda and chips if you want them, it's a pretty good deal. Other good fast-food and quick service options are Hale&Hearty Soups, Golden Krust (Caribbean food), New York Burger Company, and Wendy's.

Leftovers Mean less Money Spent on Lunch: See if you can play the savings game when dining at restaurants with actual silverware. Here's what my mom does (and you can try it too!): when your food arrives, automatically divide it in half, then after eating the first half, see if you're hungry enough for your second half. If you are, then go ahead and join the clean plate club, if you're already stuffed, then ask the server to wrap it up for you and use the leftovers for lunch.

Trader Joe's: I regularly worship at the altar of Trader Joe's and it's done wonders for my lunchtime. Though I have noticed recently that prices have creeped up ever so slightly, TJ's entrees, sandwiches, and ready-made foods are great-and cheap most items run from $2-$6 at the very most-and will give your co-workers a case of lunch envy-I swear! I'm just going to do a quick run-down on some of my fave TJ's lunches:
Lunch #1: Lemon Chicken Curry (plastic container in the refrigerated section) or Butternut Apple Squash Soup (in the box soup aisle) with toast, carrot sticks, and Trader Joe's apple slices.
Lunch #2: Lentil Rice Biriyani (microwavable rice pack-cooks in 90 seconds) mixed with chicken, plus toast, or carrots. I personally also add some ranch dressing to add a little zing to the meal.
Lunch #3: Green Chicken Chile Enchiladas (in the Mexican frozen food aisle), with your own tortilla chips. Carrots and Trader Joe's apples are optional.
Lunch #4: Curried Chicken Salad (in the refrigerated salad section) with Trader Joe's apple slices.
Lunch #5: Chicken and Cheese quesadilla (in the refrigerated section near the sanwiches, but easy to miss) with your own tortilla chips and Trader Joe's apple slices.
Lunch #6: Any Trader Joe's sandwich or wrap with chips and Trader Joe's apple slices and/or carrots.
Lunch #7: Mossamon Chicken Curry (a black bowl in the Asian frozen food section) and Trader Joe's apple slices or carrots.

Lunch a la Carte: They're in every neighborhood, those guys with the movable carts who will make meat and rice combos for $3-$4. Filling and good deal, plus you're supporting the local economy.

Vending machine value: If you are one of the chosen few who work in an office with a vending machine then check those couch cushions for change and take your bottles back for the five cents to purchase snack items and sodas. Most vending machines are still cheaper than buying that candy bar or cookie at the drug store or deli.

Lunchables: Not Just for the Cafeteria set: If you need a quick, cheap meal, that's easy to eat on the go, relive those elementary school lunches with that iconic yellow package of crackers, cheese, and meats.

The bottom line here is that you can save money at lunchtime and shopping at the grocery store or Trader Joe's is definitely cheaper than shelling out $10 for lunch every day.

Please feel free to share ways you save at lunchtime!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Cheap Chick St. Patrick's Day Guide

St. Patrick's Celebration Guide
There were so many great cheap and free events for St. Patrick's Day that I'm skipping the regular weekend picks and providing you with at St. Patrick's Day guide instead. You may not find a real pot of gold to help you through the recession, but here are some suggestions to get you in the mood for the holiday!

Various Times
Visit St. Patrick's Cathedral

Visit the church named for the real-life inspiration for this holiday.
Cheap Chick Info: Free!
Location Info: 460 Madison Ave. between 50th and 51st Street
Subway: F, V to 47-50th Street Rockfeller Center, E, V to Fifth Ave./53rd Street

Eat like it's St. Patrick's Day!
Sample one of McDonald's Shamrock Shakes, a vanilla shake dyed green and flavored with mint or enjoy a classic NYC corned beef sandwich at a local deli.
Cheap Chick Info and Location: varies, throughout the city

March 13th and March 14th, 2009
Irish Fever Tavern Concert at Historic Richmondtown
If you're up for the ferry ride enjoy Irish music in Staten Island. Beer, wine, and hot mulled cider will be for sale.
Cheap Chick Info: Tickets are $15, There are shows at 7:30 and 9 p.m. Call (718) 351-1611 ext. 281 for reservations.
Location Info: Historic Richmond Town, 441 Clarke Avenue, Staten Island
Subway Info: From the Staten Island Ferry take Take the S74 bus from the terminal to Richmond Road and St. Patrick's Place.

The Fauxges concert
Can't afford to see the Pogues? Then check out this alternative just in time for St. Patty's Day!
Cheap Chick Info: $5 (goes to charity), Concerts are Friday and Saturday nights and start at 7 p.m.
Location Info: The Bell House, 149 7th Street in Brooklyn
Subway Info: F, R to 9th Street and Fourth Avenue

March 15th, 2009
Open House at the Irish Arts Center
This is an all-day event featuring music, dance, language lessons, and movie screenings.
Cheap Chick Info: Free! Event runs from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Location Info: 553 West 51St between 10th and 11th Avenues
Subway Info: C,E to 50th Street

March 17th, 2009
Watch the St. Patrick's Day Parade

Get to the parade route early to catch this famous parade as it proceeds down Fifth Avenue.
Cheap Chick Info: Free! Parade is on St. Patrick's Day and starts at 11 a.m.
Location Info: The parade starts at 44th Street on Fifth Avenue
Subway: F, V to 47-50th Rockefeller Center or 42nd Street, 7 to Fifth Avenue

O'Harold Night at Upright Citizens Brigade
Drunken improv performances, what more can I say?
Cheap Chick Info: $5, Show starts at 8 p.m.
Location Info: Upright Citizens Brigade Theater, 307 W. 26th Street bet. 8th and 9th Aves.
Subway Info: A,C,E,1,9 to 23rd Street

U2 Tribute Band Performance
Enjoy the sounds of the band that's like U2, but isn't.
Cheap Chick Info: Free! Concert starts at 8:30 p.m.
Location Info: The Parlour, 250 W. 86th Street (near Broadway)
Subway Info: 1 to 86th Street

Irish pubs for all your green beer needs:

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Cheap Chick Weekend Picks, March 6-8, 2009

Friday March 6, 2009
Fountain New York (Saturday and Sunday as well)
11 a.m. to 7 p.m. (all weekend)
The snow has finally melted and forecasters are promising weather that should be perfect for checking out this indie art fair in the park.
Cheap Chick Info: $5 suggested donation for all-weekend access
Location: Pier 66 26th St Hudson River Park
Subway: C, E to 23rd Street

Meltdown: The Economic Collapse and a People's Plan for Recovery
Doors open at 7:15, event starts at 8 p.m.
Panel discussion about the state of the economy, hopefully it won't be too depressing. Speakers include Joseph Stiglitz, Naomi Klein, and Barbara Ehrenreich.
Cheap Chick Info: Free!
Location Info: New York Society for Ethical Culture, 2 West 64th Street, New York City
Subway: 1 to 66th Street, A,B,C,D to Columbus Circle

Saturday March 7, 2009
12th Annual USA Memory Championship
9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
If you were a champion Memory player when you were a kid or can recall the name of your brother-in-law's babysitter's friend's dog walker, you might want to check out or even enter this contest. For more info click here:
Cheap Chick Info: Free to watch, students ages 12-22 can enter for free, others must pay $25 to enter (a little more than Cheap Chick's event budget, but if you think you can win, it might be worth it.)
Location Info: Con Edison Grand Auditorium, 4 Irving Place, 14th Street, near Union Square
Subway: 4,5,6,N,R,W,Q,L trains to 14th Street Union Square

Union Square Walking Tour
2:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Learn about the history of the area during this tour presented by Union Square Partnership and Big Onion Walking Tours.
Cheap Chick Info: Free!
Location Info: Meet at the Lincoln Statue by 16th Street Transverse, Union Square Park
Subway: 4,5,6,N,R,W,Q,L trains to 14th Street Union Square

Sunday March 8, 2009
Girls Write Now Day
4 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Girl and teen authors and their adult mentors read together from their works. Guest speakers include Annette Gordon-Reed, author of The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family, and Marlon James, author of The Book of Night Women.
Cheap Chick Info: $10-$20 suggested donation, all proceeds go to Girls Write Now org
Location Info: The New School University
Theresa Lang Community & Student Center, Arnhold Hall, Second Floor
55 West 13th Street in Manhattan
Subway: 4,5,6,N,R,W,Q,L trains to 14th Street Union Square