Saturday, May 29, 2010

Giveaway: Free Premium Account at BeFunky.com


Oops.  This post was supposed to go up two days ago!  Well, such is life.  The Frugal Hostess would like to announce a super extra cool and fun contest for the fine reader (s) of this here blog.  And, because of the tardiness of the announcement, the contest will be extended so as many people as possible can participate.
Here's how it's gonna go down.  There is this really cool website, BeFunky, that lets you upload photos and treat them with all kinds of crazy and interesting effects.  For example, look at this picture of Miss Prissy Britches.


Pretty adorable, right?  Once you've messed around with your picture, you can print it on an assortment of delightful items, such as cups, shirts, and posters.  A basic account is free, and an upgrade - which takes their logo off your picture, among other things - is pretty cheap ($4 a month).

The Frugal Hostess has spent hours playing around on BeFunky, creating such masterpieces as this:


And this (love how the cartoon effect really emphasizes the double chin):



And this:


And now, you have a chance to win a free, six-month upgrade in BeFunky.  (FruHo will wait while you finish jumping up and down).

What to do:1.  Take some pictures of your Memorial Day, graduation, birthday, or just hanging by the pool fun.
2.  Try out some of the effects in BeFunky with a free account.  You don't even have to register if you don't want to.
3.  Post your favorite picture on TFH's Facebook page.  The Frugal Hostess and her pal Baris from BeFunky will pick the winner, who will win a free six-month premium account!
4.  Fine print rules: You can enter as many times as you want up until 6PM Eastern on Thursday, June 3, and the winner will be chosen at the sole discretion of the judges.  Also, the revolution will not be televised.

[Disclosure: The Frugal Hostess loves this website, so she contacted them to see of they wanted to do anything on the blog.  They said yes and were super cool and creative about it.  Rock on, BeFunky.com!] 
 
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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Father's Day Gift Idea: Every Man Jack

Disclosure: These dudes totally gave The Frugal Hostess a free sample to review.  And she tried to pass it off as a gift for FruHubs, because she forgot she had already told him it was coming.  So a beautiful moment was turned to tragedy.  FruHo blames the FTC.

FruHo: Hey, FruHubs, look at the surprise I got for you!

FruHubs: STOP SPENDING MONEY.  You suck.

FruHo: I, err, um, look at this great surprise!

FruHubs: What a bunch of crap!  You got a free review sample of this!  And you're not even a man.  Unless you have started a new blog where you blog as a tranny.  Um, we need to talk.

Here is the shaving kit that arrived in the mail.


Don't you love the packaging?  It made The Frugal Hostess hope that FruHubs would love the product so a good review could be written.


Seriously.  Adorable.  Here's what came inside the modern dad | with shave cream kit.


Shaving cream, face lotion, face wash, and lip balm (two tubes!).  

FruHubs: I don't use lotion and wash.  I am a guy.  

FruHo: Will you try it out and see if you like it?

FruHubs: Nope.

So, there is no review of the lotion and wash.  However, here is the review of the shaving cream.

FruHo: So, your skin looks really smooth.  But I don't smell anything.  Did you shave?

FruHubs: Yeah.  It's unscented shaving cream.

FruHo: Well that sucks.  I like the smell of shaving cream.

FruHubs: The lack of scent is the only thing I like.  Where's the foam?

FruHo: Well, maybe foam is bad for you.  Your skin looks really good.

FruHubs:  I like the foam.

Since there were two tubes of lip balms, FruHo got to try one out.  It ruled!  So who cares what FruHubs thought of it.

In summation, if you are looking for a Father's Day gift, this might be a good one.  Here's the recap:

Pros:
- Great packaging
- Cheap price
- Skin looked very smooth and supple
- Lips felt very smooth and supple

Cons:
- Lack of manly shaving cream smell
- Lack of foam
- Face lotion and face wash deemed too lady-ish for FruHubs

You can order Every Man Jack products on their website or on Amazon here.

What are you getting your dad for Father's Day?  And don't say a coupon book.

The Frugal Hostess gets lonely. Please comment. You can also join the Frugalistas on Facebook for exclusive content, follow on Twitter @frugalhostess, or subscribe so that you always know when a new post appears.
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Monday, May 24, 2010

Happy Birthday


Happy Birthday, Daddy!



The Frugal Hostess and FruPa, circa 1995.

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Dinner Party Menu: Cheap Filet Mignon

FruHo and FruHubs had a little dinner party in honor of Beach Mama, a new friend who was visiting from out of town.  They usually stick to dinner for six because they have an unusual dining table that belonged to TFH's grandparents and was designed to fit in a narrow room.  It rules, and six is a good number for dinner because everyone can talk to each other in a reasonable fashion.  (Reasonable meaning without yelling, as opposed to always making reasonable statements.)  Birds and Cherries and The Film Frightener were also in attendance, along with The Pie-Making Carpenter.


The menu:

Hors d' oeuvre: roasted almonds, cashews, relish tray of olives, cornichons, half dills, and cherry tomatoes, cheese and crackers, and pimento cheese with pretzel rods.  Yes, that equals one cheese item too many.  What of it?

Cocktails: mojitos, margaritas, and The Frugal Hostess's famous Mulberry Ghetto Mojito.  Which gets capitalized because it rulez.  Yep, with a Z.

First course: There was no first course, because FruHubs thought that would screw up the timing for the steaks.  Little did he know that something else entirely would be responsible for that clock-boffing.

Entree:  Filet mignon with sauteed onions, twice-baked potatoes, and grilled asparagus.  This dinner menu may be a little dated.  FruHo isn't sure.  All she knows is that when she first started dining (rather than just eating, as pretentious as that may sound), filet mignon with asparagus was the height of fanciness.  And a twice-baked potato?  Well, go ahead and stab her in the eye.  With deliciousness.  So, by golly, if excellent, yummy, crowd-pleasing food is dated, then call this 1989.

The party guests brought the wine, since they knew they would be served Two Buck Chuck if they didn't.

Dessert: Mascarpone Fruit Tart, which was awesome and purchased pre-made.  Ha.


TFH set the table with a beautiful vintage linen tablecloth that her grandmother had given her, as well as the same Grandma's crystal wine glasses and silver water goblets.  She used the wedding china and silver and some plain white pillar candles that dripped wax all over the tablecloth.  Good call, FruHo.  The best pieces of the table-scape were the place cards, which were stuck to bottles of bubbles.  The Frugal Hostess, as we all know, is very highbrow.

"So," you're thinking, "big deal - TFH had a dinner party and whatever and I can't afford to do this."

Well, you're wrong, and here's why.  FruHubs procured an entire beef tenderloin and butchered it himself, which is how he could afford to grill up filet mignon for everyone.  What?!  It's true.  You can save a BLOODY FORTUNE by purchasing a big ole giant piece of beef and chopping it down to size.  Like, about $17 per pound.  (And boy is "bloody" an accurate description.)  Alton Brown can show you how.  If you can't find a whole beef tenderloin, marinated and grill skirt steak for a similar effect at a lower price.  (Hint: Befriend, or be related to, some restaurant owners for the ultimate hook-up.)

Asparagus were in season when this dinner went down, so they were cheap.  Don't buy them when they're expensive, such as in the dead of winter.  They won't taste good anyway.  If they aren't in season, make green beans or sauteed spinach instead.  Since it's the only thing TFH ever makes on a regular basis, you've probably already figured out that twice-baked potatoes are both cheap and easy.  Another reason FruHo makes them for parties all the time is that they can be made ahead. 


 Finally, set your table with what you have.  If you have a bunch of old stuff from your grandmother, use it!  If you don't, don't sweat it!  The Frugal Hostess can assure you that every moment she has ever spent worrying about the dinner table was wasted, because no one ever remembers anything but the dessert you serve and who had too many mojitos. 

Have a dinner party!  It's fun!!!
 

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Dear Blog

Dear Blog,

Would you please write yourself this week?  The Frugal Hostess is in the WEEDS.

Thanks and all the best.

Sincerely,
The Frugal Hostess

The Frugal Hostess is kinda busy with her real job.  Which is drinking wine and listening to The Grateful Dead.  Please comment. You can also join the Frugalistas on Facebook for exclusive content, follow on Twitter @frugalhostess, or subscribe so that you always know when a new post appears.
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Monday, May 17, 2010

Ten Ways to Make Sure You'll Never Get Invited Again

To Whom it May Concern:

Below please find a list of surefire ways to get blacklisted at The Frugal Homestead.

1.  Announce what time you will be coming to a party, instead of coming when you are invited or declining the invitation.

2.  Tell your hosts that you can't make dinner but will come for drinks, despite not having been invited for drinks.

3.  Bring your own cocktail in a plastic cup.

4.  Insult Alton Brown, barbecue, and everything else that is holy.

5.  Claim that a different ingredient would dramatically improve a recipe your host is preparing.

6.  Mention to another guest that your hostess looks pregnant. 

7.  Proclaim that the music is terrible and change it.

8.  Stay indefinitely, despite having arranged in advance to leave before dinner is served.

9.  Be as anti-social as you can, ignoring the room full of hors d' oeuvre and candlelight to sit in a corner in another room.

10.  Suck.

Love,
FruHo

The Frugal Hostess gets lonely. Please comment. You can also join the Frugalistas on Facebook for exclusive content, follow on Twitter @frugalhostess, or subscribe so that you always know when a new post appears.
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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Get Thee to the Farmer's Market!

People make excuses.  When faced with the obvious benefits of eating locally-grown, organic food, lots of folks (including some in FruHo's family who shall remain nameless) say that it's just too expensive to shop at Whole Paycheck Foods.  They mention that conventional fresh produce is cheaper, and the canned or frozen stuff is almost free by comparison. 


 It is estimated that organic food costs about 30% more than conventional food.  This may be true if you compare products side-by-side on the shelf at your grocery store, but The Frugal Hostess begs to differ when it comes to shopping outside the walls of Kroger or Publix or whatever.  She is quite certain that you can eat local, organic food for far less money than conventional food if you do a couple of things:

1.  Eat in season.  Guess when strawberries grow?  Now.  They are sweet, flavorful, and abundant in the spring (at least in these parts).  Find a strawberry farmer in season, and TFH can pretty much assure you that you can have strawberries at a reasonable price.  Look for organic strawberries in November and guess what?  Not only do they taste mealy and flavorless, but they cost a fortune!  Defying the rules of nature will cost you.

2.  Source directly.  If you go straight to the source, you strip away the layers of profit needed to pay for distribution in big stores.  For example, The Frugal Hostess buys free-range eggs from a farmer who delivers them to her neighborhood once a week.  The eggs are huge (she comparison-weighed them against store eggs, and they were at least 25% heavier), and they cost $3.50.  The very cheapest free-range eggs TFH can find in a discount store cost $3.59, and they are smaller.  (You could also get even closer to the source by growing your own, but that's a topic for another post.)

Having once worked a Corporate Gig, FruHo feels you on not having time to source every morsel of food you eat.  And having once been completely clueless about what food is in season, she totally understands that you might not know.  Therefore, she has invented a brilliant solution that will solve both of these problems for you.  It's a gathering place where all of the farmers from nearby can come to sell their stuff.  The sourcing is taken care of, and you'll know what's in season by what's for sale.  Brilliant, right?  She calls it - get this - a farmer's market.

Ta-da!

Wait, what?  Did you say that already exists?  Pardon?  The Frugal Hostess did not, in fact, invent the farmer's market?

Well, crap.

In that case, here are some resources for finding the farmer's market nearest you.  

And if you live in Atlanta, The Frugal Hostess will be working at the new Decatur market starting this Saturday, hawking Big Daddy Biscuits.  Please come by, say hello, and then buy some dinner!


Photo by empracht

The Frugal Hostess has heard that eating local food keeps you from having allergies, so she eats a dab of local wild flower honey every morning. Please comment. You can also join the Frugalistas on Facebook for exclusive content, follow on Twitter @frugalhostess, or subscribe so that you always know when a new post appears.
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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Ten Commandments of Thrifting

The ancient religious texts of thrift store shopping have been translated into many languages and studied by scores of scholars.  While there are many who believe fervently in the Church of Thrift, there has never been a definitive reading of its core beliefs.

That is, until now.  Ladies and Gentlemen, please join The Frugal Hostess as she reveals the true meaning of:

The Ten Commandments of Thrifting


I.  Thou shalt have no other thrifts before me.  In other words, you must check the thrift store before you pay retail or buy something new.  A good way to manage this is to keep a thrifting notebook in your purse or car.  Don't laugh; TFH really does this.  It includes the hours and directions for her favorite thrift stores, and she uses it for a running list of the items she is looking for.

II.  Thou shalt not take the name of your thrift in vain.  Don't pretend like you don't shop at the thrift store; own it!  Or, at the very least, smile mysteriously when someone asks where you got your dress and say, "Um, I'm not sure.  It was on sale."

III.  Remember to keep holy the thrifter's day.  FruHo is reticent to share this, but the day before a big scheduled sale is the best day for thrifting.  For example, if your place has half-off on Wednesdays, go on Tuesday.  Trust.  If you want to go to the sale day, first take your temperature.  If you aren't suffering from a high fever, set your alarm and get there the MOMENT the store opens.  Protect your extremities and watch your back.

IV.  Honor thy thrifting forebears.  (Is that the correct word?  Does it refer to old bears?)  Always defer to old ladies and gentlemen at the thrift store.  They have been going there a lot longer than you, and no matter how broke you are, they are surely broker.  Let that grouchy old woman take that cashmere sweater you spotted from down the aisle; she deserves it.

V.  Thou shalt not kill.  This should be obvious.  No moldy pair of Manolos is worth a stint in the Big House.

VI.  Thou shalt not commit adultery.  Just because your regular thrift store didn't yield a Chanel jumpsuit last time doesn't mean you can just throw it away like a used tissue.  Thrifting karma is such that regular visits yield best results, just like how proper care and feeding can keep a relationship alive.

VII.  Thou shalt not steal.  In the thrift store, this means you must buy both pieces of the two-piece suit rather than leaving a pair of orphan pants behind.  You can't stuff three silk scarves into your new beach bag, and you may not switch out a price tag.

VIII.  Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.  Don't skip in line or snatch something out of another thrifter's hands. 

IX.  Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife.  Um, not sure here.  Any suggestions?

X.  Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's good.  Just because Ellie May Nextdoor has a Gucci bag and 14 pairs of Louboutins doesn't mean you should try to compete.  If you shop at the thrift store, no one will have anything like what you have, because it will all be unique.  Bonus?  You can trade in your clothes every season if you want, because you'll have only spent a fraction of retail, even discounted retail.

Please stay tuned for FruHo's next exegesis of sacred text.  In the meantime, any thoughts on number nine up there?

Photo by Steve Snodgrass

The Frugal Hostess loves you. Please comment. You can also join the Frugalistas on Facebook for exclusive content, follow on Twitter @frugalhostess, or subscribe so that you always know when a new post appears.
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Monday, May 10, 2010

Blogger Love

In addition to writing a blog, The Frugal Hostess loves to read blogs.  FruHo reads in a bunch of different categories, and a few of her favorites are listed at the bottom of this post.

Back in the day - like, 2003 through 2009, maybe - TFH used to have a folder in her Bookmarks just for the blogs she checked every day (it was called, creatively, Daily Blogs).  It was always so disappointing to go to one of her favorite blogs and find nothing new posted.  But last year, she learned about RSS and set up Google Reader, and her life has been forever changed.

Now, TFH is not going to pretend that she can explain the technology behind this, but she will say that any avid reader of blogs who doesn't use a Reader is wasting precious time checking individual sites.  Basically, every time a new post goes up on one of the blogs you subscribe to, it is delivered straight to you so that you don't have to check.  FruHo encourages you to set up your own Reader and subscribe to this blog there!

To make things easier, here is a short video that describes how it works.

The Frugal Hostess subscribes to 64 blogs.  Here is a small selection of her favorites:

http://1000awesomethings.com/

http://cakewrecks.blogspot.com/

http://postsecret.blogspot.com/




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Tuesday, May 4, 2010

FruHubs Food: Braised Short Ribs


FruHubs has, once again, created a plate of delicious brown food.  Eat up, buttercup.



Ingredients
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
8 3- to 4-inch-long meaty beef short ribs (about 4 pounds)
Coarse kosher salt
2 1/2 cups chopped onions
1 cup cubed, peeled carrots
1 cup cubed celery
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon of tomato paste
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1 750-ml bottle Zinfandel
2 cups beef broth
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
Orange zest (optional)

Directions
1.  Preheat oven to 325°F.
2.  Heat two tablespoon of olive oil in a Dutch oven or heavy, large ovenproof pot over medium-high heat.
3.  Sprinkle ribs with coarse salt and pepper.
4.  Add to pot in single layer and sauté until brown on all sides, about three minutes on each of four sides.
5.  Transfer ribs to large bowl, reserving oil. 
6.  Add onions, carrots, and celery to pot and sauté until brown, about six minutes. 
7.  Add in garlic, then add tomato paste and stir until brown. 
8.  Add rosemary, thyme, and bay leaf. 
9.  Add wine and broth; bring to boil.  Don’t forget to scrape up the delicious brown stuff from the bottom of the pot!
10.  Return ribs and any accumulated juices to pot, arranging in single layer.
11.  Bring to simmer; cover and place in oven.
12.  Braise until ribs are very tender, about 2 1/2 hours.
13.  When there are about 20 minutes left, zest the peel of one orange into the sauce.
14.  Using tongs, transfer ribs to clean bowl. 
15.  Remove fat from pan juices with a spoon.
16.  Boil juices until just beginning to thicken, about 10 minutes.
17.  Mix 1 tablespoon oil and flour in small bowl to smooth paste.  Whisk into the juices in pot; simmer until thickened enough to coat spoon, about 5 minutes longer.  Season the gravy with salt and pepper.
18.  Return ribs to pot and spoon gravy over them.

FruHubs served this with Mushroom Risotto and Kale cooked using his famous greens recipe.  One day, FruHo hopes to force that recipe out of him because it is the best thing ever.  Until then, enjoy these dinosaur bones short ribs.
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Monday, May 3, 2010

Repetitive Posting

Hiya.  The Frugal Hostess is spending Make It Yourself Monday over at How to Cook Like Your Grandmother today; hope to see you there.  While you're at it, buy one of Drew's cookbooks or some recipe cards.  (Click here to view more details.)

In other news, today is the last day to vote for The Frugal Hostess's ice cream concoction, Summer Tomato.  While it may sound a tad unusual, the world will never know if it's good or gross unless you vote for it to be made! 

Some FruHubs Food is coming soon!

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