Home > Archive: February, 2014

Archive for February, 2014

Going out for "controversial" Chinese food tomorrow.

February 17th, 2014 at 05:43 am

I was trying to keep down eating out cost this month, but... it happens to be a restaurant week month. So tomorrow I am trying out Hakkasan. Critics are very split on it. It got a Michelin star, but NYT critic hated it. Other reviewers also very split in opinion.
Yes, it is very expensive (and it is annoying that they publish full menu, but remove all prices). But at a restaurant week set menu, I thought this is a chance to try and see for myself.

And for lunch on Thursday, I'll try Krisabelli (Korean BBQ) place. I am interested how it will compare with my favorite BBQ place in Korea town in Fort Lee.

I'm looking forward to trying these new places. We'll bring our son to the Korean one because it will be for lunch, but Hakkasan is too upscale for toddler at dinner, so this will be our "date night". And we did not go out for brunch this weekend either, this should keep us from going over the eating out budget too much.

34 days in China

February 11th, 2014 at 09:17 pm

This will be my vacation/study trip this year.

Actually, it is 29 days in China - 18 days in Nanjing, weekends in Shanghai, and than a short trip to Chengdu and 5 days in Singapore (DH will join me for 2 weeks of it).

My tickets to and from are booked.
(First class to Shanghai and business class back from Singapore.)

But there are many more details to work out - getting fresh passport, booking DH's flight there, booking internal flights/transportation, finding an apartment in Nanjing(I really don't like the free accommodations they provide - roaches, mold and air conditioning that circulates cigarette smoke from other rooms), hotels everywhere else, visas...

I'm looking forward to it.
A little guilty about leaving LO for that long (though he will be in daddy's more than capable hands for half of it).

Bus stop ads.

February 10th, 2014 at 10:20 pm

I've snapped few pictures of ads I see on bus stops around the city. Tells you something about how different NYC is:

I put few more on my blog:

Text is and Link is

Where else do airlines advertise first class services at bus stops?

Lost $1,000?

February 10th, 2014 at 05:00 pm

A stock I bought few days ago already plummeted to over 1,000 down - from 13 to 8.

The irony is, I did not lose this money on something that was highly speculative (where this would be expected), but on a stock I intended to be a long term investment.

I am having a hard time not considering us to be 1,000 poorer. Though if I had gained 1,000 from a stock going up, I would not have counted it in my budget in any way, as it would be unrealized gain and an investment, not part of daily life.

But it is hard not to feel that way, losses feel 20 times more real.

Did not go out this weekend.

February 10th, 2014 at 04:56 pm

At all.

That's a first. No eating out.

Today I brought in my own lunch (I made Lamb Korma for dinner yesterday, and had enough left for lunch for me and DH).

I'm doing really good on food. That is a combination of conscious efforts, using few extras - small gift card here), promotion with a gift card there, a "reward" meal. Also, DH was on travel few days last week, so his meals are covered.

Booked my $16,207 one way flight!

February 6th, 2014 at 06:07 am

After massive research, I managed to book Cathay Pacific's first class flight to Shanghai (via HK).

I am so excited.
Two years ago I flew to Japan and China in first on Delta (which for international first is not bad at all, I have only good things to say about service. It is nothing like domestic). The flat bed and a "suite" make the flight so enjoyable (not to mention being treated like a human being), for the first time my flights seemed too short!
And now I am lucky enough to score Cathay Pacific, which is one of the best Asian airlines. It is not Etihad or Singapore air, but it definitely among the top few.

Here are some photos from Cathay's website:

The width of the seat is TWICE the size of an economy seat, of course it reclines into a flat bed, there is real bedding, pillow, comforter, luxury pajamas, luxurious amenity kit in a designer bag, spa and pre-flight dinner in the lounge (maybe, my departure time is late). And, of course, flowing alcohol throughout the flight.

I can also use any of these lounges:
there is plently of food and drink in each of them. This is just one:

But, have I completely lost touch with reality and paid 16K for one way flight?
Not quite. I got it on a Mile Saver AA miles award - 67.5K in miles. In JULY! On Cathay! (finding that award availability is like mining for gold), and I had to pay about $300 to get to that mileage. That is quite a value in my book Smile))


February 6th, 2014 at 05:33 am

Doughnut supply was disrupted by bad weather, so I had a greek yogurt with a power bar. Both were brought from home as "emergency" food, for just such an occasion.

For lunch, I went to Chipotle. Not because I like it, but because I had a gift card that I bought for a preschool teacher, but there was a gift pool, so I did not end up giving it. So I used part of it today.

I got a burrito bowl and ate half for lunch, and half for dinner. That was not really to save money, but because that portion size is exactly for 2 meals.

Last week I confirmed that I'm going to China again this summer, and I want to make it an amazing and luxurious trip, so I am working to make that happen by looking for great flights and accommodations, and by saving on things that are not as important to me, to have that money later.

$3.25 spent on food today

February 5th, 2014 at 03:14 am

Breakfast - coconut cream doughnut $3.25
I treated a co-worker to a doughnut for another 3.25, but I count it towards "gifts" not food for budget purposes.
Made my own coffee.

Lunch - Comped by Roti yay! $10 value
Dessert - my personal trainer brought me some crapes she made. I had those with tea and honey. Free.

For dinner, instead of picking something up on my way to the train station, I went home and rummaged through the fridge. I found a fennel bulb, 2 bell peppers and I baked them with some balsamic vinegar. A tortilla filled with egg, a little bit of cheese and some jalapeños, toasted on cast iron skillet and simple meal is ready.
Grapefruit for dessert.

My son is at grandmas, and my husband was traveling on business, so his meal will be covered.

So all and all, record cheap food day. Of course, this was partially due to eating things I bought before.

Keeping food cost down today. Snow pics.

February 4th, 2014 at 12:19 am

I made my own coffee at the office instead of buying it in Manhattan.
$3.25 Coconut cream doughnut (cannot make my own)

Brought simple lunch from home.

For dinner, even though we did not have enough groceries, I improvised. I stopped by Cosi and got a signature salad. Just one (I would normally buy one for DH and for me). Instead, I expanded this one salad at home by adding more greens and fruit. And I had a tiny piece of lamb left (not enough for anything) so I made a half sandwich to go with it (cosi flat bread, lamb, tomatoes, chipotle in adobo sauce and mayo).

I got early release at 3 due to weather. It was beautiful out.

January total spending - massive overspend :(

February 3rd, 2014 at 04:22 pm

It would have been ok, if I just took the 1,050 option profit and stopped at that point. But I did not, so I lost it, and possibly more. So in total, we spent close to 900 more than we took home in January.

I'm not including the gift anywhere in these numbers, because the purpose of it is not to cover overspending.

This month I have GOT TO do better.
I will challenge myself to cut down food costs and some discretionary spending. The challenge is to see how much I can bring it down in February compared to last month.