Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Sites Worth Surfing

This week I added a few new websites to my bookmarks and thought you might find some of them helpful too. Happy surfing!

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Perfect for: Getting some background information about Mediterranean or Asian cuisines and finding good stater recipes to get your feet wet.

Why it made the cut: Lately I've been craving the foods I had while studying in Greece - fresh horiatiki (Greek salad), crusty pastry breads, pure olive oil from the laiki, and those savory fava bean dishes. So as I searched the web for fava bean recipes to experiment with I came across the MediterrAsian website. Chock full of healthful Mediterranean and Asian recipes as well as nutritional and lifestyle information, this site had just what I was looking for. I especially like this page where you can learn about what distinguishes many of the featured cuisines (Thai versus Indonesian?).

Click here to visit the site

Perfect for: Researching that newfangled church your neighbor just joined - or more generally, learning about the endless spectrum of belief systems, faiths, and inspiration sources that people embody all over the world (we're not just talking a few standard religions here folks).

Why it made the cut: This page has actually been bookmarked for a while, ever since my friend Michael introduced me to it. What got me hooked on the site initially is the Belief-O-Matic, a 20 question quiz that tells you what faiths your beliefs most accurately align with. It may sound kind of silly at first, but the quiz is very comprehensive and customizable and is a great way to learn about some new belief systems you may have never learned about otherwise. Click here to go straight to the quiz - I promise it is a great way to reflect on your own beliefs and grow in the process.
Click here to visit the site

Perfect for: Tracking your entire financial portfolio on one, easy to use web interface. Setting budgets and sticking to them.

Why it made the cut: As I prepare for life P.C. (post college) I have been trying to track my spending, savings, credit, and loans more closely. This is especially important for me since I do not have a job yet and need to move my money wisely to be sure I can cover my expenses. It can get tricky to do, however, when you consider that my savings, checking, Roth IRA, loan, and credit card information are all contained on separate websites with different companies. So how's a girl supposed to track each and every transaction and financial goal at once?! Essentially, Mint will pull all of your updated financial account information (everything from mortgages to basic checking accounts) into one place. For example, on Mint I have monthly budgets for groceries, gas, and other major expenses which are automatically updated for me each time I spend money at Safeway or Conoco. The site lets me know by email if I'm getting close to my predetermined budget for a particular item. It also provides me with graphs, charts, and other visuals of my debt to cash ratios, where I spend my money, monthly expense comparisons, and more. Ready to get started? Click here to visit a great article by finance buff Eric of personal finance blog Narrow Bridge Adventures about getting started on Mint.

Click Here to visit the site

Perfect for: Finding the perfect homemade gift for a deserving recipient (yes, you can be a deserving recipient yourself!). Discovering some crafting inspiration.

Why it made the cut: Especially in today's economy, I like to know that I'm voting for a better future with each dollar that I spend. To me, this means supporting creative artisans who produce quality products that are built to last (not obsolete themselves or break just after the warranty runs out). Etsy is the perfect place to find such people. Think of this website as a digital crafts fair where you can quickly search through thousands of artisans and products to find just the right miniature narwhal crochet pattern or squid themed greeting cards. You can even search artisans by location to support those in your own neighborhood. Take a look at some of the best Etsy finds on the Editors' Picks page.

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