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Considering the glut of Maine lobsters on the East Coast and the price drop to wholesalers, retail consumers and restaurant patrons haven’t seen much of a price break (if any) out here on the West Coast. Prices are so low on the East coast that the price of hot dogs is actually MORE per pound than what the fishermen and women are getting for their catches. Sadly it is both ends of the spectrum which end up paying; many lobster companies are going out of business, and many consumers can no longer afford to “splurge” on a restaurant lobster meal. Some of that is finally changing as cities and restaurants take advantage of the lowest Maine lobster prices in many decades.

Several of the coastal cities, like Redondo Beach & San Pedro, already have an annual Lobsterfest, and a few restaurants, like Enterprise Fish Company, have a one pound $30 Maine Lobster dinner on Mondays, but starting tomorrow, Chimayo in Huntington Beach will have a daily Lobsterfest! For $29.99 you get a Maine lobster weighing in at 1.5 pounds, cooked any way you like it, whether your prefer yours steamed, grilled, roasted, or crispy.

If a whole lobster is too much much for you, or if the drive to Huntington Beach is too long for you, you can opt for the half lobster at the Beachcomber in Malibu for $14.95 on Tuesdays, which comes with a side of fries.

Now any day can be Lobster Day!

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Thred Up is the site for you if you have ever exchanged clothes with someone else who wears your size and has your sense of style. I’ve exchanged with girlfriends when I’ve gotten tired of a dress I’ve worn only once, for a friend’s pair of shoes that they got a great deal on, but are impossibly high for them to walk in for more than a block. It’s an old fashioned swap system, just like paperback swap or Netflix.

Let’s face the fact that we tend to wear only part of our closet, and this is especially true if you are a fashionista, a teenager, or changing careers. Would you like to get some new clothes to fit the latest version of you, but without having to go out and buy a whole new wardrobe? All you pay for with Thred Up are the envelopes to mail out your items. You can try out the system with three swaps for only $12.50!

You start by listing the items you want to make available in your own closet, then you pick out items you would like from another closet. Right now the system is only for shirts, but they are working on adding other items and even expanding the system for children’s clothes. The Thred Up system finds matches for everyone; when someone finds something in your closet, you send it out to them; when something you want is found in someone else’s closet, it is sent out to you! It goes without saying (I hope) that items should be clean, stain and odor free and in excellent condition. Their motto is the golden rule; send only what you would want to receive. If you love what you receive, you keep it, if you don’t, put it back out into the system so it can find another home. This is one case of karma working almost instantly, if you receive something that belongs in a the trash, they will credit you a shirt and immediately reprimand the sender. They also have a points rating system for overall feedback and stylie points for promotional rewards.

Getting three shirts for only $12.50 in your size and your style is one of the best deals I have found; if you can find a better deal, let me know about it and I’ll post it!

Last week My friend Cindy came into town for her birthday with her husband’s credit card, so to get the most for her money, we headed over to the consignment resale stores, Great Labels and The Address.

We started at The Address where I found a brand new gorgeous black Armani gown for $300 that still had the tags on showing a retail price of $1,680; a timeless designer classic for $300 is a great value. Other items ranged from about $50 for a Trina Turk top to Manolos for $200. They have a sale section in the back that offers even more savings of up to 50% off shoes, purses, and clothes. Cindy bought me a beautiful Christiana purse for $35 that I would not buy for myself. It’s nice surprise to get a present when it’s someone else’s birthday.

One block away, Great Labels has even more fabulous buys, especially in their back section where items are 75% off their already discounted prices. Cindy found all her birthday presents at Great Labels. Her husband’s birthday present to her that day were a pair of Dolce Gabbana heels with a multicolor floral print and ribbon ties that she got for $200, and a pair of Chanel classic black pumps she got for $100. She got both pairs at an even greater discount by asking if they could do any better on the prices. Depending on the length of time they had been in the store, they can sometimes give you an even better price than what is marked on the tag. The store carries some excellent Chanel suits and business type clothes, like cashmere Donna Karan twin sets for $50, but I loved their evening clothes like the embroidered and sequined bustier I found for $500 that still had a retail tag of $1,850 attached to it.

It’s a good thing Cindy asked if there was a spending limit on her birthday credit card only after we left the shop:)

Head over to Wine Warehouse 12 noon-3pm for a $5 wine tasting of wines that cost up to $59.99 a bottle and you don’t even need a reservation!

Why are you still reading? Go!

See you there:)

Sometimes you just need to indulge your senses with pleasure to remind yourself that life is meant to be fun. Chocolate Box Cafe is a place where your taste buds will delight in decadent and delicate flavors from their unique buttermilk line (less fat, more vitamins), to pralines, truffles, marzipan, and their classic ganache with exotic flavors. If you are in the area you can stop in a for an Italian gelato, and if you’re not, you can order online. Besides offering artisanal chocolates, they are also one of the only places I have ever seen who offer customized designs for special occasions, so you can give your favorite chocoholic a personalized gift (also a great idea for weddings & corporate events).

Few things signal fun as much as the popping of a Champagne cork, except perhaps the taste of fine bubbly! What better way to enjoy a “chore” than to have a glass of complimentary champagne while you are getting a mani-pedi? Go to Polish on Thursday between 4-9 pm and if you are over 21, you get your aromatherapy organic based work with a nice happy hour treat. If you want to be practical, and you need waxing (men are welcome here too), you could ease your pain with some liquid comfort after your session; think of the champagne as pain relief “medicine”. Prices are very reasonable for the products they use (dead sea salts, organic soaks) ranging from $40-$75 for a mani-pedi combo.

I love all the concierges at the four and five star hotels I have worked with for the past decade; they are capable of amazing feats of service and have connections to get tables or tickets that mere mortals would never be able to procure. All that being said, not everyone is lucky enough to have personal relationships with people like these and may want some services that only a well connected concierge can provide. Blue Fish may be your personal answer if you are looking for something extraordinary and don’t know how to get what you want. The how is usually not as important as who you know, and with Blue Fish they know who to call on your behalf to get you that supersonic military jet flight from Russia, white water rafting in Nepal, or that submersible dive in the Atlantic to see the Titanic. As they say on their website, please don’t call them to walk your dog or if you want something conventional. Their club members must be referred by another client, but you can take advantage of some of their services by getting a Bluefish Card; which allows you preferred access to events and seating.

What is your pleasure?

I’ll be going to visit a friend in New York for her birthday next month, but her place is so tiny it is barely big enough for her, much less me (and I’m not that big!). Even though I am originally from New York, I haven’t been back in nearly 20 years, so I have been looking for somewhere to stay in one of the cities that is know for high rents and small spaces.

Although I would love to stay at the Grande Dame of New York Hotels, the Waldolf-Astoria, I don’t want to spend $1000 for 2 nights, after all it is a trip for her birthday, not mine. So I started doing some research on alternatives and I found AirBnB, an online service which lists private or semi-private places to rent from owners. It’s an alternative to the much bigger VRBO (Vacation Rentals By Owner) site, but it has some amazing places and prices that make it worth browsing.

Air BnB has filters for whether you are willing to share the abode with the owner, or if you want a place to yourself, your price parameters (high/low), type of bed (some places have airbeds not real beds, hence the name of the site), WiFi, smoking, reviews, and whether or not you get an actual breakfast along with your bed. I found a room on Central Park West for $50 that shares a bathroom with the owner, or a 1 bedroom apartment all to yourself in the same neighborhood for $100 a night. Other popular areas have similar choices, like a room in a shared apartment in Chelsea for $98 with a doorman, laundry facilities, and unlimited telephone calls to US numbers, or get an entire 1 bedroom brownstone on the Upper West side next to Central Park for $200.

As much as I love getting room service, I would prefer getting an entire 1 bedroom brownstone to myself on the Upper West side priced at less than half the cost of the Waldorf and with more than twice the space. I love win-win options!

Think you can’t afford a hotel room? Think again, because there are areas in the world where the dollar actually buys you more than you can dream of here in Los Angeles; you can literally get a room for the price of a couple of vente lattes.

Is it really possible to stay in a real hotel for under $20 a night? How about $9? The Shiva Guest House in Kathmandu, Nepal and the Venus Hotel in Luxor, Egypt are BOTH only $9 per night. And these are hotels that have 3.5-4 star ratings on Tripadvisor! Want something even LESS expensive? How about $6 per night at El Panchan in Palenque Mexico, near the ruins and beach. Ok, don’t expect the Four Seasons for these prices, but they are clean, have hot water, and are safe (which are priceless details).

For something more upscale, how about the Hotel Lion D’or in Buenos Aires, Argentina for $14 a night? Taxes, room service, and cable are included in this rate! For another “luxury” hotel that includes WiFi, an in house restaurant, and a gym with a view of the river, the Mandalay Inn in Siem Reap, Cambodia is only $13 a night.

If you don’t have a passport (why not?) and want to try to make some money while traveling, then Tod’s Motor Inn in Las Vegas is your hostel/motel mecca. At $17 a night, it is one of the most “expensive” choices, but if you get lucky in one of the casinos, you could find it to be the best value of all.

Sometimes girls just wanna get away, and if you have your own “Sex In The City” crew and the Hamptons are too far away, then head over to Two Bunch Palms. It’s only a 2 hour drive from Los Angeles, but millions of miles away in ambiance.

You can get a 2 bedroom, 2 bath suite for $124 per person per night (2 night minimum, but why would you want any less time?). Because you will be staying in one of their premier accommodations, you will have a private backyard and jacuzzi, DVD player & popcorn, welcome champagne, fruit, cheese & crackers, 10% off all spa treatments during your stay and a $200 dining voucher for the Casino restaurant. It’s VIP treatment all the way; just ask for the “Girlfriends Getaway” package.

Since this was once Al Capone’s hideaway, why not make it yours?

In these times of watching our pennies, it’s nice to know there are some places which offer terrific bargains for dining out.

If you are scrounging around your couch for coins to pay for a meal, it’s nice to know of a fast food alternative where the meal costs only $1, and all you have to do is eat it all on the premises and finish it (no doggie bags). Considering that Bamboodles has a daily special with beef, chicken, pork or fish that always includes noodles made that day, it may be worth the drive to San Gabriel. Freshly made food for a dollar means that you could feed a family of four for five bucks, including a tip!

If you’re on the Westside and want some Nawlins mudbloods (crayfish), head over to West 4th/Jane 1432 4th St., #A, Santa Monica, (310) 395-6765. They have a pound of crayfish in a spicy sauce served with corn and potatoes for only $9.99. They have other food to go with the 100 beers they serve, like beer steamed mussels, but I would go for the more labor intensive critters.

For something a little lighter and a little bit more money, but with a lot of value, the omakase (chef’s choice) at Wakasan 1929 Westwood Blvd., L.A., (310) 446-5241 includes TWELVE dishes for $35, an unheard of price for Japanese omakase. Please note that this is a tiny place, so be prepared for a wait during peak dining times.

Now let’s see how much money we can find in those sofa cushions…..

My friends Darlene & John Zavalney have been working on Roots and Shoots Day of Peace since its’ inception 7 years ago and this year they are bringing it to the Santa Monica Pier Sunday September 20th from 11am-4pm. This is one way we can all do something if we would like World Peace to be more than a perfunctory answer to a beauty pageant query about our wishes for the future.

Kids and pets are welcome at this free event; everyone is invited to enjoy the entertainment and the education on how to make this a better world both in sustainability and in coexistence between people, plants, and animals on this planet. Bring along non-perishable food for humans or pets, and you will be entered into a raffle to win a cruiser (the type of bike, not car). I also highly recommend bringing along a camera for the 75 Peace Dove parade (like the one pictured above being held up by Jane Goodall and John Zavalney).

With all the energy we spend on defense, why not spend some on peace?

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