Thursday, July 29, 2010

You're a Great Guest, Vol. 2: Arriving

You have already said yes to your host's invitation, so you're going to the party.  You heard: You.  Are.  Going.  What time should you arrive?  

Arrive a few minutes after the start time on the invitation.  The FruHo arrival time table looks like this:

If you are Really Good Friends, arrive not more than 15 minutes after the stated arrival time, but preferably 5-10 minutes late.  Your hostess is beginning to worry that no one will show up to this extravagant mess, so help her feel better by getting there a teensy bit late to let her finish applying deodorant, but no more than that, and earlier than everyone else.

If the party is cocktail or reception style, and there are fewer than 30 invited guests, arrive no more than 30 minutes late.  If there are more than 30 guests, you can expand that to 45 minutes, but no more.  (And, yes, friends of The Frugal Hostess in real life, it might indeed be a good idea for her to practice this rule.)

If you are going to be more than 30 minutes late, you must call or text.  Emailing does not count, and forget about a Facebook message.

If there is dinner involved, do not be late.

Fellow hostesses of the world, do you agree with this time table?  What would you add or subtract?

Photo by alexkerhead

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Monday, July 26, 2010

Naughty Betty Picks a Winner

Thanks for entering last week's contest.  The winner, courtesy of, is comment #9, Emily R.  Congratulations!  Email your mailing address to frugalhostess @ gmail . com.
The Frugal Hostess invites you to share the love on the Fast Company Influencer Project.
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Monday, July 19, 2010

There Is Nothing Better Than This

Seriously.  Naughty Betty?  Is the best thing that ever happened to The Frugal Hostess.  Umm, aside from FruHubs, of course.  Check out all of this amazingly brilliant and awesome stuff.

Greeting Cards:

Cocktail Napkins:

Other rad stuff:

And FruHo's total favorite:

Want some?  For real.  Just leave a comment revealing the childhood cartoon you most admire, and ye shall be entered to win a Naughty Betty party pack including coasters, cocktail napkins, and party invitations.  Do it.  Listen, this give-away train ain't gonna ride the rails forever.  And, The Frugal Hostess is desperate to bond with someone over the Smurfs.  Or Grape Ape, Jana of the Jungle, and Gummy Bears.  

And if you're new, yes, this is an extremely highbrow blog.  Please don't be intimidated.

The Frugal Hostess invites you to share the love on the Fast Company Influencer Project.
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The New Farmer Jane is....

Cheapskate!!!  Hooray!  So glad you won.  Everyone go check out her (hilarious) blog.  Meanwhile, Cheapskate, email your mailing address.
The Frugal Hostess invites you to share the love on the Fast Company Influencer Project.
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Friday, July 16, 2010

Gremlin Book Review: Farmer Jane

The Frugal Hostess has a HUGE stack of books that need to be reviewed.  Like Gremlins sprinkled with water, as soon as she finishes one, two more pop up to take its place!  Thus, a new semi-regular column is born.

Subject/Synapsis: Subtitled "Women Changing the Way We Eat," this book is about women who run farms and are participants in the sustainable food movement.  It profiles 30 different women in the industry, describing their agricultural business models. Topics include how to start a CSA, how to get involved in food policy-making, and how to finance renewable energy initiatives.  Costa worked for the Community Alliance with Family Farmers in California on the Farm to School and Buy Fresh Buy Local programs.

Gizmo moments: The cover is really cool, and there are some awesome people featured in the book. This book fits right in with TFH's beliefs about food: that it should be good, clean, and fair.  It also gels with her feminist side.   Costa does a great job of explaining that cheap food is cheap because of the hidden costs: illegal labor gets paid poorly; government subsidies are expensive; and shortcuts to drive profits result in food scares and recalls.

Stripe moments: This is a well-written, well-researched book, which occasionally results in an academic tone.  In other words, it's a little dry.  But sustainable food is a serious issue, so maybe that's to be expected.  There's also a tinge of the brand of feminism (used to be called eco-feminism, but FruHo is old so don't hold her to that) that claims women are somehow more connected to the earth and thus better-suited than men to be its steward.  That is crap, according to The Frugal Hostess, who is far more connected to her couch than she is the earth, truth be told.

Minnie Rose Lovgreen's Recipe for Raising Chickens: The Main Thing Is to Keep Them Happy (English countrywoman's wisdom--hens/eggs/laying/food/setting/chicks/bantams/roosters--in ... ... ... ... ... backyard/country/city)Giveaway instructions: To win the review copy of this book, tell us about a time when you felt close to, or far away from, the earth.  Just kidding; say whatever you want - it's a random drawing.  As a bonus, TFH will throw in a copy of Minnie Rose Lovgreen's Recipe for Raising Chickens, which would be perfect to use with kids if you have a backyard coop.

Whew, that's a lot of pictures in one post!

The Frugal Hostess invites you to share the love on the Fast Company Influencer Project.
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Thursday, July 15, 2010

You’re a Great Guest, Volume 1: Responding to Invitations

Responding to invitations is not optional. It seems like this gets worse and worse with every year that passes. Even though things like Facebook and Evite are awesomely convenient for inviting people to your parties, they lessen the seriousness with which invitations are taken. It just seems so easy to ignore them, or to think about it, or to wait and see if a better offer comes along. Also, that dastardly "Maybe" option makes you feel like maybe is an acceptable answer to an invitation.
It is not.
Here are the official rules of invitations.

  • Respond within 48 hours of receiving the invitation. If you can't make up your mind in 24 hours, then you should decline the invitation.

  • When you say no, there are two acceptable ways to do that. First, you can say, "Thanks so much, but I will be out of town." Or you can say, "Thanks so much, but I have other plans." That's all that is required, and if the hostess presses you to give more detail, say, "I made plans with an old friend weeks ago." If that old friend is your couch, so be it. (And if you are one of those people who interrogate folks who decline your invitations, go ahead and slap yourself in the face. That is rude, rude, rude. What if your friend is having an abortion, or anal bleaching, or some other personal procedure that she doesn't care to share with you? Or, even worse, what if she really hates your guts and just doesn't feel like hanging out? Do you honestly want to know that?)

  • If you have some sort of wrench in the works, like a house guest arriving that hasn't been able to pinpoint a time, or an on-call shift at the morgue, handle it this way. Call or email your hostess and say, "I really want to come, but XYZ is making it impossible to know if I will be free. I'm going to decline for now so you can make plans, but if something changes do you mind if I call you?" In other words, say a definitive no. Don't say maybe; that just makes you look like you are waiting for better plans to come along. Rude, rude, rude. Chances are that you aren't going to make it, so don't leave your host in limbo. If you do end up calling later because of a change of plans, your hostess can ignore your call if it's inconvenient. Also, obviously don't do this for a dinner party. If it's a dinner, say yes or no within 24 hours and let everyone get on with their lives.
  • When you say yes, you are supposed to go. Yes is not code for "if I feel like it." Yes means yes. You can bail out if one of the following things happen:
    1. You or your offspring are sick. Maybe your pets, depending on how severe.
    2. Your car has broken apart.
    3. Some other crazy shit went down. Such as, you got fired; your house was broken into; your Aunt Thelma tried to poison you; your sister is getting a divorce. As in, something serious, not just you are tired or prefer to watch Real Housewives of Piney Bluffs.

    Otherwise, you're going. Listen, FruHo knows how you feel. Sometimes you just don't want to go anywhere. See above, and then think about the times that you've planned and prepared and bought and cooked for all of the guests you expected to show up, only to be left with a shit-ton of sauerkraut in a serving bowl because six people were no-shows. Hurt feelings are barely the half of it. Hurt pocketbook, hurt feet from standing all day, hurt head from drinking too much to calm your party-giving nerves…. If you say yes, you have to go. Period.

    Strategically speaking, The Frugal Hostess tends to vacillate between social butterfly and hermit. Her grandmother suggests that you always say yes and always go, even if you think you don't want to, because nine times out of ten you will have a good time. FruHo tries to follow this advice. It's good to remind yourself of this when you're cutting pictures of dream bedroom furniture out of magazines or reading a good book and don't feel like pulling on Spanx for a party. Even though you don't feel like going in that exact moment, you will probably have fun.

    And you already said yes, so don't be an asshole.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

White Sangria Recipe

The Frugal Husband frequently forces The Frugal Hostess to drink really, really cheap white wine.  He also forces her to drink really cheap red wine, but the white wine is what gives her heartburn.  It tastes good, but the acidity? grapes? wineyness of it? gets old after the first glass.  So, here is a way to transform cheapo white wine into a delicious beverage: White Sangria.
One bottle of white wine, any varietal or blend
3 tablespoons of sugar
1 cup of orange or cranberry juice (optional)
1 each lemon and lime (or two of either)
One peach
Eight strawberries
Or whatever fruit you have
Club soda

1.  Pour the bottle of wine, sugar, and juice into a pitcher.
2.  Cut the lemon and lime into eighths.  Squeeze the citrus, and drop them in.
3.  Cut the peach and strawberries (or whatever fruit you plan to add) into bite-sized pieces.  As you drink the sangria, you'll also want to eat the fruit.  Drop those into the pitcher.
4.  Fill the rest of the pitcher with half ginger ale and half club soda.  
5.  Stir well and let sit in the refrigerator for two hours or so.  Serve over ice in big goblets.
6.  Be moderate!  This is one of those beverages that can kick you in the head without you realizing it.

The Frugal Hostess loves peaches. What do you think of that? 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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Thursday, July 8, 2010


Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a winner!  Please join The Frugal Hostess in congratulating Kari of They Call Me Ellie Mae.  Her blog is great, by the way.  Kari, please send your mailing address to frugalhostess @ gmail . com to claim your prize!

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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Dream Party: The Midnight Supper

When she can't sleep, The Frugal Hostess tries to think happy thoughts.  She usually mentally decorates her house for Christmas, sparing no expense, with the thinking that putting up Christmas decorations is a better way to lull oneself to sleep than worrying about the Gulf of Oilexico or something.  When the decorations are all up and she still can't fall asleep, she plans her next party.

There is a good chance this particular party will never happen, for a few reasons.  It is in no way frugal.  Like, at all.  And unless the Four Hour Work Week (which TFH highly recommends, BTW) can come to life and put it's own philosophy in place, frugal is all The Frugal Hostess can swing at this point.  Also, this party would be best outside, and the muggy, buggy, itchy, scratchy Deep South is not necessarily known for swoon-less outdoor soirees.  

Regardless, the party has been planned during a bout of insomnia (brought on by evening napping and caffeine, rather than something cooler like a recent kidnapping or brush with corporate espionage), and so here it is.

The Midnight Supper

Said Midnight Supper wouldn't actually be served at midnight, probably, but guests would be invited for 9pm in the hopes that it would be midnight as dessert was served.  The dinner would be help in an outdoor venue, such as the back deck at The Frugal Homestead, on a full moon (or almost full moon) night.  In TFH's dream scenario, it would be a late September or early October weekend, still not so cold that being outside would suck, but not too hot and mosquito-y, either.

The deck would be set with a table for ten, with white linen, white candles, and metallic accents.  Maybe a square-shaped, bronze colored charger, topped with the off-white and platinum wedding china, or maybe just the white every day plates?  Mixed metals would definitely be featured.  The centerpieces would be low and long, two or three down the length of the table, white carnations massed into white milk glass planters and surrounded by the short and tall white pillar candles that cost practically nothing at Big Lots.  The deck rails would be wrapped in white twinkle lights, with luminaries lining the path and stairs up to it.  Each place would be lit with a tea light, and the place cards would be individual boxes of sparklers and matches.

Here's the menu, at least so far:

1st Course

BLT of garden cherry tomato, mixed lettuces, and Eden Farms bacon
Deviled quail's egg
New potato stuffed with sour cream and chive, topped with caviar

2nd Course

Crab and sweet corn soup 
Bread crumb eggplant and mozzarella sandwich

3rd Course

Marinated grilled hanger steak
The Greatest Asparagus of All Time*
Grilled bread

4th Course

Tasting plate of three blue cheeses, local clover honey, and warmed nuts

5th Course

Chocolate pots de creme

Soft music would play in the background, and there would be at least two people serving and cleaning up so FruHo and FruHubs could enjoy themselves.  What do you think?  Would you come to this party?

What do you think about when you can't fall asleep?

*The Greatest Asparagus of All Time (adapted from Food & Wine):

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon paprika
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon cumin
1 pound of asparagus, peeled

1.  Mix all ingredients together and marinate asparagus for one hour.
2.  Grill.
3.  Eat, and love.  (Then pray for more.  Get it?  Eat, Pray, Love?  Tap.  Tap, tap.  Hello?)

Photo by Jared.
The Frugal Hostess's every vision includes caviar.  Discuss. 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, July 6, 2010

Blog Birthday Gifts: Delayed, But Not Forgotten

Remember how The Frugal Hostess had plans for lots of extravaganza-ing in honor of this blog's birthday?  Then, remember how she got so sad and upset about the Gulf of Oilexico that she couldn't talk about anything for days and days, thus forgetting about any extravaganza-ing in honor of weeping and wailing?  Well, maybe you don't remember all of that last part, but it was not pretty.
The extravaganza-ing is back on!  Oil continues to gush, but FruHo has decided to stop punishing you for it.  Today, you can win a set of three items from the Brazilian Nut Shea Body Collection from Tree Hut.  This stuff rules.  It smells great, doesn't leave you feeling greasy or perfumey, and is made with certified organic shea.

If you win, you'll receive an 11.75oz. jar of body lotion, a 17.5oz. bottle of body wash, and, FruHo's favorite, a 7oz. jar of body butter so rich you'll still be using it when your grandchildren graduate from assisted living.  To be entered in the random drawing, leave a comment and tell everyone what you did for the Fourth of July.  Contest will end when TFH feels like it. 

The Frugal Hostess loves you.  Happy extravaganza!

Confidential to those people who feel they shouldn't enter this contest because they are The Frugal Hostess's "mother," "sister," "blog friend," or "IRL friend": You.  Should.  Totally.  Enter!

The Frugal Hostess smells like a delicious Brazilian nut. 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, July 5, 2010

Compostable Plates That Are Not a Lie?

How many times in the last couple of years have you encountered a product that was obviously made to allow its manufacturer to cash in on the mainstreaming on environmentalism?  Surely you've noticed the green-washing of your grocery store, and probably a ton of other places where you shop.

For example, Clorox rolled out the Clorox Green Works line of products, made of natural (and, thus, not regulated) ingredients in 2008.  While these products are "greener" than straight Clorox, they are not as green as, say, vinegar + baking soda + elbow grease.  As Treehugger says, they are "better than the conventional alternative, but not perfect."

There are lots of products that started out as a bad idea, got green-washed, and remain a less-poisonous version of a still bad idea.  Most organic junk food fits into this category.  Sure, there aren't any chemicals in that highly processed corn-cookie, but that doesn't mean you should be eating organic high fructose corn syrup and free-range trans fat.  

Another of these is the concept of the corn-based disposable plastic plate.  Sounds great, right?  A disposable plate that is made of corn and breaks down in the compost.  What could be the matter with that?  Well, a couple of things, actually.  Corn is fraught with problems (deliciousness is not one of them).  So-called compostable plastic won't actually decompose in your backyard compost pile, but rather needs the high temperatures of an industrial composting operation.  And, you know, why not just use a plate that you wash, rather than one you throw away? 

This long and meandering rant on green-washing leads The Frugal Hostess, at long last, to her point.  A few weeks ago, a company called Leafware contacted her to offer some free samples of their new compostable, disposable plates and bowls for a possible review.  TFH was very skeptical, believing as she mentioned above that disposable anything is irresponsible.  She peppered the PR person with questions and planned to write a post that would expose the disposable plate business as the dirty racket she knew it was.

Except, it appears that these plates are actually pretty freakin' cool.  They are made out of fallen palm leaves and water.  First the fallen leaves are gathered and dried, then molded into plate shapes.  When you finish using it, you throw your plate into the compost pile, and - since it's made out of a leaf, rather than corn plastic - it decomposes.  Simple as that.  It's apparently a Southeast Asian traditional practice. You can read their story here.

What do you think about this idea?  The plates are great-looking and would be perfect for a party, especially since you wouldn't have to do dishes afterward.  They are also not as expensive as FruHo expected, ranging from $.58 - $.70 each.  Is this a disposable option that an environmentalist can love, or is it another example of a bad idea that's been green-washed?

P.S.  Watch the Facebook page for photos of a Leafware plate as it spends time in FruHo's compost pile.

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Saturday, July 3, 2010

Poor Man's Potluck

Here's an idea.  When all of your friends take the day off work to watch the USA play in the World Cup, and then you meet them for beers only to discover that you will never, ever be able to communicate on the same level due to their day o' beer versus your day o' coffee, the best idea would be to have everyone go home to grab their rotten rotting super-ripe vegetables.  Right?

Wait.  What?

OK, so, last Wednesday, FruHubs and the Pie-Making Carpenter and a bunch of other people packed the neighborhood watering hole for a day packed with soccer.  They all started drinking beer at 9am, while The Frugal Hostess was meanwhile typing her fingers off working on client projects.  As you know, the USA won in minute 91, the crowd went wild, and everyone was in a celebratory mood.  When FruHo arrived at, you know, the decent bar-going hour of 6pm, everyone was nice and sloppy happy. And also poor, having spent all their money at said bar for said day of World Cup Madness.

So, a group of five decided that everyone should go home and gather up any and all food items that were on their last legs. Softening potatoes?  Check.  Gigantic zucchini?  Check.  Giant sack of single-serve hummus containers?  Well, duh.  Check.  Thankfully, one guest had the foresight to also bring non-moldy cheese, and, after assembling the ingredients, FruHo and friends decided to make grilled vegetable pasta with olive oil and shredded mozzarella and a side of twice-baked potatoes.  

Except the potatoes were forgotten in the microwave whilst baking, thankfully, because they were black inside.

The pasta was fine - not breathtakingly delicious but enough to fill the void - and no one spent a dime.  And that, Dear Readers, is a great way to entertain frugally.  Particularly because none of the other guests probably even remember that the party took place.

photo by purdman1
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