Sunday, June 26, 2011

Big, Sad Parties

The Frugal Hostess hasn’t had a big party in a year.  It seems sort of stupid to write a blog about entertaining if you aren’t doing any entertaining.  But TFH and FruHubs have encountered a few difficulties that made entertaining difficult – nay! – impossible.

1.  Extreme poverty.  From March to September 2010, there was just no money.  At all.  Like, no mortgage-paying money, no doctor-going money, and certainly no good time-having money.

2.  Travel.  That all changed in September, when a brilliant twist of fate sent The Frugal Hostess on a consulting trip to Napa, CA, for three months.

3.  More Travel.  This consulting gig led to more consulting gigs and more clients, and The Frugal Hostess has been swampety-swamped.  You may have noticed a lack of blog posts on this here blog, for instance.  Which brings us to the present.

FruHo is back at home now for the foreseeable future, and the poverty issue has been wiped out (See: Travel and More Travel, above).  But there is another issue that hasn’t yet resolved itself. 

Big parties are an emotional letdown.  They kind of make The Frugal Hostess sad.  She’s not sure why exactly, but it has to do with all of the buildup and excitement and preparation leading up to them.

First of all, TFH doesn’t usually give herself enough time to get ready.  She makes a plan in her head, but she doesn’t start actually executing that plan until a few days in advance.  This is totally stupid, of course, and creates a lot of unnecessary pressure.

Second, The Frugal Hostess is a perfectionist and used to work in beautiful, luxurious hotels with comparatively giant budgets.  Therefore, nothing is ever enough, and everything comes out looking like less than what she envisioned.

Third, many of FruHo’s friends don’t entertain, at least not the way she’s used to from growing up. Most people meet out at bars and restaurants, which is not at all the same as entertaining at home. 

These reasons seem dumb, now that they're written down.  Is it crazy that having parties, one of the most fun things in the world, can also be a little depressing?  Has this ever happened to you?  Or is The Frugal Hostess a pitiful lunatic?


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Recent Scientific Discoveries from The Frugal Hostess

Tiny bug1.    The Frugal Hostess is surprisingly good at beer pong.  Which is to say, she doesn’t miss every time.  As someone who is the opposite of athletic (because, you know, beer pong is clearly a competitive sport requiring great athletic prowess), this is very satisfying.  She attributes it to a combination of being short and top-heavy, the physics* of which create the perfect throwing distance for the ball.  *This is not at all related to actual physics, with which The Frugal Hostess is completely unfamiliar.

2.    FruHo has a theory about evolution and obesity that is groundbreaking, but the mainstream scientific community scoffs at her measly BA in English Literature credentials.  Well, they would, given the chance.  But FruHo is no laughingstock, so she will instead entrust this nugget with you.  What if people, like every other animal on the planet, evolved to eat the types of foods that are native to their immediate surroundings?  That would explain why Inuits can eat whale blubber without porking up, or why the Mediterranean diet works in the Mediterranean.  So, what if our tendency to move around and eat strawberries at Christmas time and ship peaches from Ecuador has so confused our stupid animal bodies that we just keep getting fatter and fatter with no solution in sight?  You know this sounds right.

3.    There is a type of tiny little bug that only lives on the window sills of FruHo’s bathrooms during the summer months.  These bugs serve the purpose of reminding The Frugal Hostess to clean up their dead bodies, thus preventing summer’s natural cleaning malaise from completely taking over.  See?  Science!

4.    If you drink apple cider vinegar when you have heart burn, your heart burn will go away.

5.    If you do not eat mass quantities of cheese, bread, candy, and pork fat, you will not get heart burn.

6.    Hail is frightening.

This concludes Science Hour with The Frugal Hostess.


Thursday, June 16, 2011

FruDiddy and the Lost Bread

When The Frugal Hostess was a little girl, her father was in charge of making breakfast every day.  After The Frugal Hostess and her sister had their hair curled by FruMa, they would skip downstairs to sit at stools pulled up to the kitchen counter and eat the breakfast that FruPa (aka FruDaddy, and perhaps soon to be known as FruDiddy – stay tuned) had prepared.  Their mother was, ahem, not a morning person

Sometimes, breakfast would be quick and easy, like Froot Loops or the far more common Raisin Bran.  Sometimes, it would be downright horrifying, such as when FruPa decided to try out his new-fangled microwave by zapping some “cheese” “toast,” or Kraft American cheese singles on white bread.  A microwave is to cheese toast as a rabid dog is to a kid’s birthday party – a good way to make children cry.

So, you know, sometimes breakfast may have sucked.  But sometimes, it was sublime.

The best breakfasts involved bread.  Exhibit A: cinnamon toast.  This was white bread that was spread thickly with, well, probably margarine in those days (the Eighties, dorks; TFH ain’t that old).  FruDaddy mixed up white sugar and powdered, not-at-all-fair-trade cinnamon in a little bowl and sprinkled it all over the buttered (margarined?) bread, which was arranged on a sheet pan, and toasted it in the oven.

Another yummy bread breakfast was essentially this same cinnamon toast with sliced bananas on top.  Do note that the bananas weren’t sliced in the familiar coin-shaped way, but rather length-wise.  The Frugal Hostess attributes this strange banana shape to her father’s New Orleans upbringing and Catholic school training.  The bananas may have been cooked in a pan with butter first.   

Every time FruPa made this item, he told the little girls about a mythical dish from his childhood called banana fritters.  Somehow, he made these sound like the most magnificent puffs of unicorn breath imaginable, but he never did make them for TFH and her sister, ostensibly because he was waiting for the recipe from Grammy, his mother.  In truth, he no doubt preferred to spend the eleventy hours they would probably take to prepare sleeping, since he was a high school teacher with a 7am daily start time.

In terms of mythical dishes from childhood, The Frugal Hostess actually did have another of her father’s youthful favorites, although this was only ever prepared on weekends.  He said that his father (also a New Orleanian who grew up speaking French with his grandmother) always called it pain perdu, or lost bread, but that his little girls could call it French toast.  FruDaddy made his with the ubiquitous white bread that he preferred, and he served it not with syrup as you see in most brunch restaurants but with a metal shaker of powdered sugar.

The Frugal Hostess could have made enough icing to frost a house with all the powdered sugar she shook onto her French toast.

These days, TFH’s sister serves French toast for brunch at her restaurant, made from thick cut pieces of French bread sliced on the diagonal.  The Frugal Hostess made it that way today, using half a loaf that was getting too hard to cut.  She tried to get FruHubs to buy her a sugar shaker when he was picking up the bacon to go with it, but he “couldn’t find one.”  Ha.

It couldn’t be easier to do; just slice the bread and dip it in a mixture of eggs and milk, with the amounts governed by what you’ve got.  FruHo used four eggs and probably a cup of milk to make ten or so thinnish pieces.  Melt some butter in a skillet – TFH used about three-fourths of a stick divided between two cast iron pans – and cook until brownish and yummy looking, flipping as needed.  This can be kept warm in a low oven while you make Ooooh Fruit (a recipe for another day) and bacon.  Eat with powdered sugar, and enjoy!
Happy Father’s Day, FruDaddy!


Monday, June 13, 2011

Denver: OK, a Couple of Good Things Did Happen, Too

Oso Flaco Lake Raccoons.
It would be totally unfair if The Frugal Hostess pretended that her trip to Denver was all bad.  Even though it was.  Just kidding.  Here are the great things that happened:

1.  Discovered some fantastic restaurants.  TFH's favorite was the Squeaky Bean, which, despite sounding like a coffee shop, is actually named after the sound of fresh green beans when you bite them.  The food was inventive, and the specialty cocktails took up half the menu - always a good sign.  FruHo and Hubs had great service at both the bar and a table, and they would go back every week (day?) if possible.  Some of the delicious offerings included Bob White quail wrapped in bacon; sweetbreads; and duck rilletes.  Some other great ones were Duo and Tag.  Duo is owned by an old friend and truly amazing.  There is an especially interesting wall made of old windows suspended from the ceiling, and Duo house cures some of the best olives TFH has ever tasted.  Tag a sort of Sushi + Continental place.  There is a Surf and Turf roll there which is to die for.

2.  Went thrifting.

3.  Attended the Tennyson Street Art Walk.  The Frugal Hostess has been to many an art walk, but none were ever as fun as this one.  It was huge, spanning several blocks in the Highland neighborhood north of downtown Denver.  Many of those blocks were full of shops, adding a much appreciated retail element to the evening (sorry, FruHubs).  Every place had some sort of refreshments - cookies, wine, lemonade, etc. - and there was plenty of live entertainment.  The music store even had about 15 bluegrass players parked on the lawn jamming.  There was a gang of people dressed as Big Bad Wolves roaming the sidewalks, and the weather was perfect.  TFH will admit that there wasn't a huge amount of art to see, but the whole night was just magically delicious and really fun.

4.  Miss Georgia Sugar and other friends.  It was so great to catch up with old friends and meet their new children.  In particular, Miss Georgia Sugar's daughter has grown into a delightful little fairy of a person.  

5.  There was a raccoon strolling down the sidewalk like he was just grabbing a jacket out of his car.

6.  The Frugal Hostess bought an awesome cowboy shirt at one of her long-time favorite stores, Cry Baby Ranch.

So, it wasn't all bad.  Here are some of the pictures The Frugal Hostess took.

For more about Denver, read Denver: City of Thrift and Denver: City of Sorrow.


Thursday, June 9, 2011

Summer House Guests Round-Up

The Frugal Hostess is deep in the midst of summer house guest season, so she thought she'd brush up on ideas and tips for how to handle them.  

Start with The Ultimate FruHo Guide to House Guests for a broad overview.  If you want bonus points, explore this awesome idea for making a house guest survival kit.  Try this for a smart, quick checklist to get your house ready, or read this if you want an excuse to barely clean (read the comments on this one, too; very funny).  If you aren't having them but rather will be the house guest, read here for how to avoid acting like a fool.


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Denver: City of Sorrow

As she mentioned, The Frugal Hostess just spent more than a month working in Denver.  TFH lived there for five years in her 20s, so the consulting project sounded like a great way to reconnect with old friends and visit old haunts.  Sounded like. 

Here's what the weather looked like 90% of the time.  This is unusual for Denver, which typically enjoys 300+ days of sunshine every year.  Spring was always pretty with a chance of snow when FruHo lived there.  This spring was crappy with a chance of skidding off the highway instead.

Here is a list of the things that The Frugal Hostess did in Denver:

1.  Stayed in a hotel with extremely hot water.  Before you think that FruHo's problems are nice problems to have, please note that a woman was literally boiled to death in a Jacuzzi at this same hotel two years ago.  The water was so hot that her skin melted right off.  So, you know, there's hot and then there's HOT.

2.  Melted the motherboard of her laptop.  Yes, that laptop -- the only one she had, the one she used to run her business, and the one with every last thing in and/or on it.  It happened on May 6, and she still hasn't fully recovered.  She may not ever.  (TFH concedes that a melted laptop is better than a melted body).

3.  Got yelled at for doing what she was asked to do by the person who asked her to do it.  OK, that one is a first world problem.

4.  Had a bloody nose for 21 days in a row.

4.  Experienced the following three things in one day:

  • Was relocated from one hotel to another, only to find that the new hotel had no room for her either.
  • Came down with a terrible cold that still hasn't abated.
  • Discovered that the person she was training was not only rip-roaring drunk at work but also had a bottle of Skol vodka in the desk drawer.

Ergo, Denver, you can suck it.

For more about Denver, read Denver: City of Thrift and Denver: OK, a Couple of Good Things Went Down, Too.


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Win a Trip to Paris? Yes, Please!


If Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachman get elected, The Frugal Hostess and her swain are moving to France.  Here's a good way to practice:


Please do NOT enter this contest, so that FruHo's chances of winning aren't reduced.


Monday, June 6, 2011

Sweaty and Thirsty and Throwing Balls Around

One of FruHubs' 87 brothers was in town recently, and The Frugal Hostess made the mistake of suggesting a trip to the Sweetwater Brewery.  On a Saturday.  When it was 13,000 degrees hot.  Duh.  After sweating their behinds off for an hour or so on the brewery "tour" (stand in one place, turn in a circle, and consider yourself toured), TFH suggested a more pleasant but equally boozy diversion.  

The group traveled to Empire State South, a restaurant on the ground floor of an office building in Midtown Atlanta.  The food is great there, what The Frugal Hostess would call Southern Steampunk Cuisine, and FruHo especially digs their old school cocktails made from fresh herbs and magical elixirs.  Almost as cool is the secret bocce court located in a courtyard between buildings.  Despite having spent three months in bocce's American headquarters (Napa, CA), TFH isn't a skilled player, but the boys were ready to get down.

This is an old-fashioned, a la Don Draper.
Because of the way the buildings are organized around the bocce court, there was a lot of shade and plenty of refreshing breeze flowing.  The Adirondack chairs were comfy, and the drinks were cold (if expensive and, at least on one occasion, mixed with surliness and disdain).  The ladies sat and watched while the gentlemen threw their heavy balls around.  Ha.

Seriously, bocce balls are heavy.

There was a wedding party taking pictures in the courtyard, and a man in snappy pajama pants/wife beater ensemble wandered up to take a picture with the bride.  Random, yes?  Turns out, he was a member of Bone Thugs-N-Harmony.  Those dudes are all called Something Bone, and FruHo thinks this one was Flesh-N-Bone, but she can't be sure because their Wikipedia entry if confusing as hell.  No matter.  They all came out to the bocce court to drink giant glasses of Hennessy and talk, because their scheduled show was cancelled, according to one hanger-on who was gulping down his glass full before hitting the bed after a 36-hour period of wakefulness.  TFH's cell phone pictures of this craziness are too blurry to even see, much less tell who is who, so you'll just have to trust.

Photo shoot getting set up behind FruHubs and FruHubs' brother #87.
In summation, the Empire State South bocce court is a great place to hang out in the early evening when you are sweaty and thirsty and eager for brushes with both fame and nuptial bliss.

The end.


Saturday, June 4, 2011

Denver: City of Thrift

The Frugal Hostess is recently back from a five-week gig in Denver.  More to come on that hot ball of crazy trip, but in the meantime please enjoy some of the amazing thrift store scores from the trip.  She's said it before and she'll say it again: Denver has the best thrift stores in the world!

Nicole Miller top.  Looks a little circus-y on her, so TFH will probably sell this.

Maverick, maverick, stud, maverick. 
If you only knew how long FruHo has been searching for these grapes.
Never, ever, ever pay more than $4 for a silk scarf.
More owls for the trap being set for FruHubs around the upstairs shower.

Where is your favorite place to go thrifting?