Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Tuesday To-Dos: It's Fall!!!!

The Frugal Hostess woke up this morning, and it was cool, cold even.  Like, she had to put on a sweater to eat yogurt on the deck!  How exciting!!!

In honor of fall having, er, fallen, here are some things to do this week. 

1.  Pick up any outdoor furniture that isn't year-round.  Or, if your stuff stays out all year, clean it.

2.  Beach toys, inflatable pools (you rascal!), bathing suits, and white shoes can all be put away.  And before you try to tell TFH that Rachel Zoe or some other fashion goddess said white after Labor Day is A-OK these days, let's just clear it up - white shoes (and by extension, purses, belts, or full-on suits) are not, nor shall they ever be, allowed after Labor Day.  For rizzle-dizzle.  Don't.  Shush.  Uh-uh.  Don't want to hear it.

3.  Pick a date in the next four weeks to switch out your closet, or decide to do it for one hour every week until it's done.  Actually, that's a really good idea, which The Frugal Hostess will use. 

Week One - Get rid of everything that is super-obviously not wearable after summer, such as that flowing white cotton sundress or your seersucker overalls.  Anything linen or really thin cotton.  Um, whatever, you can figure it out.

Week Two - Same as above for shoes.  You know, put up your seersucker shoes.

Week Three - Anything that can't be winterized wear with tights and a cardigan.  Also, any straw hats or bags.

Week Four - OK, by now it should be cold, so if you need further instruction you may want to call your mom.  Or for help.  You are clearly a couple stitches short of a winter scarf.

4.  Go online (or stay a while - you are already here), and look up any fall festivals in your area.  Those tend to be the kind of thing that you miss and wish you hadn't, so just be proactive and get it on the calendar.  If the Frugal Husband doesn't take her to a freakin' corn maze this year, The Frugal Hostess is going to get hostile.  Just sayin', Hubs.

photo by lu2shoot
The Frugal Hostess gets lonely. Please comment. You can also join the Frugalistas on Facebook for exclusive content, or subscribe so that you always know when a new post appears.

Bookmark and Share

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Five Bad Things That Happened & Were Still Fun

Sorry, dudes.  The Frugal Hostess has recently been through a veritable tornado of activity - most of which she'll post about - that has precluded her from getting the words on the blog.  Don't worry, dahlinx, she's scrubbing away at several things and shall return.  In the meantime, here is a list of the Top Five Things Gone Wrong from the last week.

1.  The Frugal Hostess was having guests, and the white wine was hot and sweaty.  She shoved two bottles into the freezer for a quick cool-down.  Two days later, she found a flurry of wine stalactites and broken glass all over the Ben and Jerry's.  Frozen.  Boo.

2.  The Frugal Hostess went to a meeting in The Hinterlands*.  A Great Flood poured down.  TFH took four hours to travel less than 60 miles, and she was almost murdered by a treacherous bitch driver who had taken leave of her senses and believed The Frugal Hostess should be run off the road into a rushing river of sewage.  Thus, a medicinal Manhattan and some pate was required.
*The Hinterlands are a place that begins five miles from The Frugal Homestead and ends at infinity.

3.  The Frugal Hostess has tried and tried to adapt to her new at-home lifestyle, mostly by becoming the Laundry Fairy and doing her best to keep all the fabric in the house, you know, smelling not gross.  Alas.  The two cats, one old and one new (both j'adore able), are having a Literal.  Pissing.  Match.  All over every single clean towel.  Every.  Freaking.  Day.

4.  The Frugal Hostess and The Frugal Husband waited out a Very Big Storm at their local watering hole, with the Francalottas and other friends.  They were thankful when the power came back on, and thankful for no downed trees.  And, the next morning, mighty flipping pissed off to discover four inches of water in their basement and not a single sump pump for love or money in all of Southern Metropolis.

5.  The Frugal Hostess looked forward to the Annual Fall Festival of Crazy all year, especially after having missed it last year.  The parade, the costumes, the extravaganza - she just couldn't wait.  Except that the parade was rained out, and everyone had a hangover, and no one (and by no one she means herself) had enough money.  But it was still fun.

And in that last line, Dear Readers, is the key to the treasure.  Everything is, at times and sometimes more often, total BS.  So, please be certain that you make up your mind to have fun regardless of the ID ten Ts around you.

All her best,
The Frugal Hostess

The Frugal Hostess is clearly friendless - duh, she refers to herself exclusively in the third person. She'd be delighted if you'd leave a comment. You can also join the Frugalistas on Facebook for exclusive content, or subscribe so that you always know when a new post appears.  There are plenty of opportunities for subscription to your left.

Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Ask The Frugal Hostess

On random days, The Frugal Hostess answers your questions.  
Leave 'em in the comments or send your email to frugalhostess AT gmail DOT com.
Dear TFH,
Who is going to win Top Chef?
Dear Claire,
Jen, as long as she never, ever wears that ridiculous side pony-tail ever again.
P.S. Can ceviche be outlawed from Top Chef, please?
To The Frugal Hostess:
Why do you use the word "like" as though it is something other than a verbal tic left over from the Eighties?  You've got to stop.
Asa Head
Dear Ass Head,
You've got to be, like, the worst question-asker on earth.  Why wouldn't you ask something cool, like, how do you make creme brulee?  Duh.  Way to waste your question, moron.
Irritatedly yours,
The Frugal Hostess
Dearest Frugal Hostess,
What does cilantro taste like?
Dear Curious,
Pick up your foot.  Lick it.  Then go wash your mouth out with soap.  And that, Curious, is what cilantro tastes like.
Frugally yours,
The Frugal Hostess gets lonely. Please comment. You can also join the Frugalistas on Facebook for exclusive content, or subscribe so that you always know when a new post appears.

Bookmark and Share

Sunday, September 13, 2009

MIYM: A Mess

This Monday, The Frugal Hostess is reveling in the fact that her weekend was spent doing whatever she wanted whenever she wanted to, in her own house.  She had no idea she was such a crotchety old woman, but The Frugal Hostess is O-V-E-R traveling, at least until Christmas.  Not that any of her trips have been anything but pleasant and fun, but TFH finds herself craving stability and regular-ness and her own flipping house.  Here's a quick trip timeline:

May: started new company; various house guests three out of four weekends; other weekend spent as part of a week-long working trip to Florida.

June: four day camping trip; ten day trip to Martha's Vineyard; flea infestation begins; various house guests two weekends and one week.

July: house guests two weeks and another set one weekend; flea infestation worsens, mostly while The Frugal Husband is out of town.

August: four-day trip to WPB; house guests one weekend.

September, so far: five day trip to Mexico Beach and PCB.  Party and partying planned for next weekend.

This calendar excludes the various concerts and special events that The Frugal Hostess has attended and/or hosted.  Whew!  How exhausting.

All of this to say: The Frugal Hostess had the BEST weekend!  With literally nothing scheduled and no pending deadlines, TFH spent Friday night trying (and failing) to make grit cakes.  For whatever reason (and TFH blames milk) the m*-ing grits (ooh, sorry, still a little rage about that) would not set up, so she was making grit cakes out of quicksand.  Not effective, FYI.  But, no matter, The Frugals still had shrimp and grits with some crazy sausage-gravy-esque sauce a la The Frugal Husband.  Delicious!

On Saturday, The Frugal Hostess went on a search for pinking shears, a task that sounds easier to accomplish than it actually was.  She was buying those for a forthcoming project, so stay tuned.  [Incidentally, did you know that you could sharpen scissors by cutting up a folded piece of aluminum foil?  TFH can't remember where she read that, but good advice, no?]  As she drove around on her quixotic mission, she encountered a number of yard sales and dropped a little cash here and there.  In her humble opinion, church yard sales are the very best, as long as you can shake off their recruiting tactics.  All of the goods are donated for the benefit of a higher power, so the prices are low-low-low, and you can usually find some incredible hand-crafted foolishness with which to entertain yourself for 10-75 cents.  Saturday evening, she prepared the only dish she makes better than her husband, meatloaf, and started on the above-mentioned Pinking Shears Project.

Sunday was Episode One of the mini-series known as Football Feast.  The Frugal Husband and his BFF prepare an extravagant feast every Sunday during football season, and they drag all of the TVs into one room so they can watch NFL games all day long.  TFH is invited to drop in occasionally for a snack, but it is mostly a Big Giant Sausage Festival.  For The Frugal Hostess, that resulted in her reading and reading and reading all day long.  She can't remember the last time she spent an entire day reading (although her physique is perfectly designed for it).

So, this Make-It-Yourself-Monday, The Frugal Hostess has only made a mess of her house.  She started a couple of projects, read a bunch, and ate some snacks.  And that, Dear Reader(s?), is all she's got.  The lesson here: stay home at least sometimes, and don't feel bad if you really just need one weekend to wallow around in your own fat pants.  Like how TFH turned her filthy home into a life lesson?  Ha!  That's why she's The Frugal Hostess and you're not.
The Frugal Hostess wants to help. Please feel free to leave your entertaining (in every sense of the word) question as a comment, and she will answer it in her typically sensitive and charming way. You can also rate this post below, join the Frugalistas on Facebook for exclusive content, or subscribe so that you always know when a new post appears.

Bookmark and Share

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Friday FREAK OUT! Centerpieces

The Frugal Hostess knows what it's like to freak out. She once forgot to pack any panties on a business trip!  And she was no longer in her twenties!  Yikes!!!  Thus, Friday FREAK OUT! On Fridays, The Frugal Hostess will provide you with tips on how to deal with last-minute nonsense without freaking out.

You have planned the most awesome dinner party in all the land, with a delicious menu and a magnificent assortment of eccentric characters to entertain one another.  This party is gonna ROCK!

Wait.  Uh.  Hmm.

You forgot to plan a centerpiece for your table.  Time to FREAK OUT!

Except, there's no need.  Shake it off, pumpkin.  The Frugal Hostess has a bunch of great ideas for you.

Centerpiece ideas:

1.  Flower delivery.  This is the opposite of frugal, and TFH discourages it, but you might want to send yourself an arrangement of flowers that you can use as a centerpiece.

2.  Grocery store flowers.  They always have them.  The arrangements may not be the height of coolness, but at least they exist, and they are cheaper than the florist.

3.  Bedding plants.  This is inspired, and inspired by The Frugal Hostess's Yankee friends, The Joneses.  Fill an attractive (or ugly - really, who will know?) container with bedding plants.  They will look so pretty, and you can plant them in your garden the next day.

4.  Candles.  Seriously, you might think TFH is obsessed with candles, as often as she brings them up.  Well, folks, she is.  Candles rule!  They are the absolute cheapest and most impactful way to transform the way a table or whole room looks. 

5.  Wine corks.  Yes, The Frugal Hostess has an almost equal obsession with wine corks, but that's because a.) she drinks A LOT of wine, and b.) therefore corks are a good value.  They look nice filling glass vases or bowls, and they can be dressed up by mixing in some lemons and limes.  Yay, corks.

6.  Other inanimate objects.  Look around and see if you any of your weird sculptures or bookends can be repurposed as a centerpiece.  Don't be shy - really, you don't have anything else, so you might as well go for it.
The Frugal Hostess has a comment habit and needs her fix.  Seriously, hook a sister up and please comment. You can also join the Frugalistas on Facebook for exclusive content, or subscribe so that you always know when a new post appears.
photo by melalouise

Bookmark and Share

Ask The Frugal Hostess

 On random days, The Frugal Hostess answers your questions.  
Leave 'em in the comments or send your email to frugalhostess AT gmail DOT com.
Dear Frugal Hostess,
Who are you, and why do you only refer to yourself in the third person?
Dear Nosy Rosy,
None of your beeswax.
All the best,
The Frugal Hostess
To The Frugal Hostess:
I like to read about your ideas, but I am never, ever, ever going to implement a single one.  What do you think of that?
Defiantly yours,
All Four of Your Readers (except your mom)
Dear All Four,
Here's an idea that you can easily implement: shut the hell up.
All her love,
The Frugal Hostess

Ms. F. Hostess,

What should I use to get crayon off the wall?

Mommy of Messy Molly

Dear Messy Molly's Mom,

The Frugal Hostess recommends using the tears of small children, mixed with a liberal dose of Put Down the Bong and Try Parenting, You Moron.

Good luck,
The Frugal Hostess

The Frugal Hostess gets lonely. Please comment. You can also join the Frugalistas on Facebook for exclusive content, or subscribe so that you always know when a new post appears.

Bookmark and Share

Friday, September 4, 2009

Labor Day Picnics

With Labor Day approaching, it seems like a good time to talk about picnics. Except, you know, no one really ever goes on picnics - they're like the magazine spread equivalent to the unicorn. You've heard of them, you've seen pictures, but you've never really encountered one in real life. The Frugal Hostess owns not one but two elegant and expensive picnic hampers. One holds old ice trays on top of the refrigerator, and the other lives with the camping equipment and gets used one or two times a year. Picnic sets are great wedding gifts - can't you just see the newlyweds holding hands, skipping down a gently sloping hill, swinging that $400 picnic basket you gave them? Yeah, right - trust her, The Frugal Hostess can assure you they don't want to sit outside in the scratchy grass getting bitten by bugs any more than you do.

OK, so, what to do? How about celebrating Labor Day the way it was meant to celebrated - by doing no labor whatsoever? Order pizza or Chinese food. Eat a bag of M&Ms. And think about these amazing labor facts.

* At least four people were killed in the earliest fight to regulate the eight hour work day.  (More.)
* Child labor wasn't banned until 1938, and MANY, MANY more died to secure the rights we take for granted today.

* More than one in three young workers say they are currently living at home with their parents.
* 31 percent of young workers reports being uninsured, up from 24 percent without health insurance coverage 10 years ago.
* One-third of young workers cannot pay the bills and seven in 10 do not have enough saved to cover two months of living expenses.
(Here's the source for the last three points.)

Far be it for her to discourage some frivolous partying, but The Frugal Hostess hopes that you won't forget all the men and women who took unbelievable risks (riskier than not wearing pantyhose or tweeting about your annoying boss) so that all of us could enjoy some semblance of a life outside of our jobs.  She hopes that you are among the self-employed or happily-employed, and, if you aren't, she at least hopes you have health insurance.  No matter who you are, she wishes you a happy Labor Day and a speedy national healthcare plan.
The Frugal Hostess has turned into a hermit. Please comment so she'll have contact with the outside world. You can also indicate your reaction below, join the Frugalistas on Facebook for exclusive content, or subscribe so that you always know when a new post appears.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

In a Pickle

The Frugal Hostess is going away for a few days.  Actually, she feels like she's always going away for a few days.  One of the irritating things about travel is that it often results in spoiled or wasted food.  The Frugals try their hardest to cut back on fruits and veggies when a trip is forthcoming, but they don't always succeed.  Fruit Rescue is one procedure that helps (read about it on our sister blog here), but TFH needed another method to make her food last longer.

[Wouldn't it be cool if at this point in the post we revealed that The Frugal Hostess invented pickling?  Of course, she didn't; it's been around forevah.  But it still rules.]

So, when faced with a pile of okra and green beans before a trip, TFH decided to pickle them.  Please note: canning comes with a bunch of annoying rules, so TFH made refrigerator pickles.  Act like a grown-up and wash the jars, blah blah blah.  If you get botulism, The Frugal Hostess is out of the mix.  She also completely invented the blend of spices by looking at a recipe and her spice cabinet and having the twain meet, as it were, and she encourages you to improvise accordingly.


Some okra and green beans, uncooked
Jars (Figure out, roughly, how many jars' worth of vegetables you have.  You can also throw carrots, onions, and garlic into the mix.)
Vinegar (Like, half a cup per jar.  Ish.)
One bay leaf for each jar
Three slightly crushed garlic cloves per jar
Spice mix (more on this in a minute)


Divide the veggies evenly between the jars (after you cut off anything gross, wash them, etc.  Again, you are an adult).  Stuff 'em in there, but be careful to leave room for the pickling brine.  It's better to have too few vegetables in each jar than too many, in The Frugal Hostess's opinion.

Fill each jar half-way with white vinegar, and add a bay leaf and three cloves of garlic.

Divide your spice mixture (seriously, calm down - explanation is forthcoming) evenly between the jars, then top off with water.

Shake a few times and refrigerate for five days.  After that, eat like crazy.  Or make Bloody Marys like crazy and garnish with your homemade pickle goodness.

Spice Mix Extraordinare

The main spices for a pickling brine are mustard, dill, pepper, and salt.  You want two tablespoon of mustard and dill seeds per jar, one tablespoon of pepper per jar, and a half tablespoon of salt per jar.  The specifics really make only minor difference in taste, so feel free to mix yellow and brown mustard (and powdered versus seeds if necessary), dill weed and dill seeds, and every color of pepper you can rustle up.  Try to use kosher or sea salt, though - larger crystals seem to work better.  Mix all of the spices in a bowl, then add a traditionally sweet spice - cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice - about two teaspoons or so for the whole mixture.  Then divide the spice mixture equal between the jars.

Yo, yo - pickles.

The Frugal Hostess is on the road. Please talk to her so she doesn't lose touch with reality. You can also mark your reaction below, join the Frugalistas on Facebook for exclusive content, or subscribe so that you always know when a new post appears.