DSW Designer Shoe Warehouse, Nationwide

Spring is upon us. Time to perk up our wardrobes! Why not start with shoes? Previously I avoided DSW because its prices pierced the high end of my budgeting limitations. Then I discovered tactics for shopping there without going broke.

Step 1: Join DSW Rewards. This portal to savings ensures you'll receive coupons (usually $10 off) or bonus items, like tote bags. Step 2: Scout clearance racks. They often contain styles almost identical to those available in regular sections.

Shoe Store

Don't let the name fool you, this shoe warehouse also sells accessories including purses and scarves. By combining both methods I scored a pair of in-season snow boots for $30, bedroom slippers for $1.99, and a leather wallet that doubles as a phone case for .49 cents.


Check out your nearest DSW. The deals just might surprise you too!

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Los Tacos, Manhattan

A plethora of eateries exist within Chelsea Market. Without much info on any of them and in dire need of nutrition, I chose the one with the freshest looking food. Yes, I stalked some strangers' plates.

Taco Stand

Los Tacos, reminiscent of a south-of-the-border roadside stand, had a line much longer than its competition. A sure sign of greatness. Right?

Going against that instinctual voice in my head, I bypassed the pork spinning on a rotisserie and opted for a carne asada tostada. What an error! The effort required to chew the meat detracted from the flawless flavors of the tostada, avocado, and salsa. My mouth definitely underwent an aerobic workout.

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Free Google Play Song and Album Downloads

Love the lure of free music but want to avoid sketchy, illegal downloads? Google Play offers a variety of gratis, good (yes, good!) music. Check out the offerings by entering "free music" in the search box. Happy listening!

free music

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Samantha's Southern Cooking, Brooklyn

As I write this post, I'm still hungry. Having skipped breakfast and lunch, I needed a hearty dinner asap. Samantha's Southern Cooking won out over the competition because it was near my last errand and I had a 50% off deal. Clue number one that my meal might disappoint: a tiny crumb floating in my water glass. I pushed it aside. I planned on drinking my bottled water anyway. Clue number two, two guests told the waiter they did not enjoy whatever was in their bowls. Although unable to hear the details, their grimaces said it all. Hhmmm. Stay or go? Those same diners moved on to dessert and cleaned their plates. I decided to stay.

My fried pork chop sandwich included two huge portions of meat, way too much for the meager bun. A smarter choice would've been one portion cut in half to cut down on the thickness. After picking some of the char off of one slice of bread, I realized the other piece was practically burnt instead of toasted. Even worse, the meat was overcooked and tough. Cutting it with my fork and eating smaller pieces did not improve matters much.

samanthas southern

I contemplated mentioning my disdain to the servers. Both glanced at me, but neither stopped by my table. The twice-baked macaroni provided a distraction. Peppery with undertones of mustard, it had just enough cheese and plenty of flavor. Now back to the sandwich.

The male server offered a to-go box. I pointed out the deficiencies in my entree. He apologized and said he would speak to his manager. She came over after helping other guests and indirectly asked what was going on. I asked her if the server relayed my issues and ended up repeating them to her. She removed my plate and said she would take care of it.

mac n cheese

Minutes later, she informed me that they were remaking the entree. I would have prefered a refund instead of a remake and expressed that. However the manager, who is also Samantha's sister, advised me they had already started cooking a replacement. I told her that I rarely send food back but had to speak up. She assured me that they serve freshly-prepared and seasoned meat. I questioned the bun, stating that it did not look or taste like focaccia. She said it wasn't and realized that the menu was incorrect. The manager mentioned that they bought the bread from a local bakery.

She delivered my new sandwich and returned shortly to ask if it was up to par. I said it was even though I'd only tasted a tiny end portion. The manager said, "I'm sorry about that sweetheart," when she delivered my receipt. I requested a to-go box and left, eager to return home where I had backup food available. The new chops proved just as tough as the prior ones. I tossed the meat in the trash. Oh Samantha, this southern gal wanted a taste of home. Clearly I didn't find it.