Thursday, December 16, 2010

You Say You Wanna Be a Documentary Star

The Frugal Hostess hasn't reviewed this book yet, because she is still reading it, but Off the Grid by Nick Rosen is an interesting look at the power grid in the US and the people who choose to live outside its reaches.  Well, as it turns out, the creator is planning to make a documentary about people who are just beginning their off the grid lifestyles, and he needs subjects to feature.

As Rosen said in a recent email, "Hundreds of Americans every day are choosing to move off the grid.  Some are motivated by money (or the lack of it), some by fear (of social or environmental collapse).  Others just want to get away from consumer society.  The film is about real people who have made the choice to move off the grid – it is not an experiment, or featuring someone who is just changing their life for a year to suit the film-makers."

If you are interested in being featured, you can contact him at  And TFH would love to know about you, too!

The Frugal Hostess insists that you come hang out on Facebook. What? Like you don't already spend three hours there a day.
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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Imagined Interview with Lucinda Scala Quinn

The Frugal Hostess was invited to interview Lucinda Scala Quinn today as part of the publicity around....well, around a few things, it seems.  Here's a (quite impressive) bio from the information her publicist sent:

"[Quinn is] author of MAD Hungry: Feeding Men & Boys, Lucinda's Rustic Italian Kitchen and an expert in Italian culinary traditions. Lucinda is currently the executive food director for Martha Stewart Living, co-host of "Everyday Food" on PBS and has her own show "EatDrink" on Martha Stewart Living Radio on SIRIUS channel 112 and XM Radio 157."

Fun, right?

Know what else is fun?  A whirlwind eleven-day trip from Atlanta to Napa to San Francisco to Concord to Las Vegas back to Atlanta.  While fun, it made The Frugal Hostess so very, very tired.  So tired, in fact, that she slept right through the interview that was scheduled with Lucinda Scala Quinn.

Whoops.  Embarrassing and horribly unprofessional, right?

Well, TFH is going to try to make it up to you.  Lucinda Scala Quinn, on the other hand, will probably never forgive this indiscretion, but then again, LSQ may not have even noticed.  LSQ is probably so busy with her seven jobs (see above) that she could care less what FruHo does.  Anywho, here is The Frugal Hostess's imaginary interview with Lucinda Scala Quinn.


TFH: Lucinda Scala Quinn, thank you so much for your time!  My readers will be so interested in your tips for the holidays, so let's not waste any time.  In fact, I'm going to stop wasting my time repeating your three names - which do not roll off the tongue, BTW - and call you LSQ.  'Kay?

LSQ: [speaking to someone in the room] Why is this person talking to me?

TFH: LSQ, I see here that you have written two books.  Writing a book is my life's great dream, which I prefer to thwart by writing a blog that vascillates irresponsibly between cooking, crafting, and leftist politics.  How did you find a publisher for your books?  Could you give me her name?  What about your agent - will you make a virtual introduction for me?

LSQ: [laughing wryly] Are you seriously asking me for career help when you're supposed to be interviewing me?

TFH:  I watched the Thanksgiving episode of Mad Hungry on the Hallmark Channel.  It is totally obvious that Martha is taking over the Hallmark Channel in her bid to beat Oprah to total world domination.  You with me on that, LSQ?

LSQ: [picking up a cell phone and calling her publicist]  Who is this wack job I'm purportedly being interviewed by?  This is an outrage. 

TFH:  OK, LSQ, last question.  What is your favorite sweet specialty cake that is a holiday tradition in Italy, and is being introduced in the U.S this season?

LSQ: Bauducco Panettone.


Please note: While this interview did not actually take place, the part where FruHo slept through it did.  LSQ, please accept The Frugal Hostess's sincere apology.

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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Super-Speedy Book Reviews

Wherein The Frugal Hostess attempts to redeem herself with the various publishing houses that have sent her review copies of books by finally actually reviewing them. 

(All links in this post are affiliate links, which means that TFH gets a tiny commission if you buy them using these links.  She also gets a commission if you use a link from this site to buy anything on Amazon, so if you're a big Amazon shopper and want to send some cash to FruHo, do that.  FYI, this is not a lucrative source of income; TFH has made, like, $.68 since she joined the Amazon affiliates program a year ago.  But you can help change that.  Ahem.)

Super-Speedy Book Review #1: Gifts Cooks Love

This book has an awkward title, beautiful photography, and at least one really cute idea that FruHo will be stealing.  It's full of homemade food gift ideas that vary in difficulty.  It really would make a great gift for a cook, although TFH must say that it reminds her a great deal of Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It by Karen Solomon.  The cute idea?  Make up little breakfast treat baskets for hostess gifts.  Fill them with coffee, muffins, homemade jam, etc.  Cute, right?

Super-Speedy Book Review #2: Fix It, Make It, Grow It, Bake It: The DIY Guide to the Good Life by Billee Sharp

This book is so full of great ideas for saving money and living frugally that you could read it 12 times and still not absorb it all.  Luckily, it's a tiny size, so it won't take up too much space on your shelf.  This is a great thing to buy yourself if you've decided to live a greener lifestyle or just want to save money.  The tone is friendly and not at all sanctimonious, so you don't feel like slapping the author (which is so often the case with these kinds of books).  Right on, book!

Super-Speedy Book Review #3: The Frugal Foodie Cookbook by Lara Starr with Lynette Shirk

This is another cute little book that doesn't take up a lot of space.  It has recipes for making use of all your food so that you waste nothing.  There are lots of ideas for lunches to avoid eating out, and the piece de resistance is "Exponential Chicken," which is five nights worth of extremely varied menus made from one chicken poached on Sunday.  TFH loves the idea of that, although FruHubs would never, ever, ever be able to get behind that idea.  He freaks out about planning one day in advance, much less an entire week.  This would be a great gift for a recent college grad or newly-weds.

Super-Speedy Book Review #4: Mess by Keri Smith

FruHubs got TFH another of Smith's books (Wreck This Journal) a few years ago for Christmas.  It was cool: a journal with instructions on each page for taking unexpected action, like to rip the page out and tear it into tiny pieces.  FruHo never did a lot with the journal, though; it felt sort of awkward and silly.  This is another similar journal, but the instructions are better in this one (I-TFH-HO).  It also includes quotes and ideas for further research.  This is a great book for an artist or someone who needs to shake off some uptight-ness.

Super-Speedy Book Review #5: Salty Sweets by Christie Matheson 

O-TFH's-G, this is an awesome cookbook!  It is filled with recipes for things that combine - you guessed it - salt and sweet in interesting ways.  Some of most unusual are "Dark Chocolate and Sea Salt Crostini," "Lavender Fleur de Sel Shortbread," and "Fig and Ricotta Pizza."  The Frugal Hostess made the recipe for dark chocolate coconut bars, and it was amazing!  If you or your loved ones are into salty sweets, definitely add this book to your shopping list.

The Frugal Hostess insists that you come hang out on Facebook. What? Like you don't already spend three hours there a day.
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Saturday, November 6, 2010

Guest Post: Hold the Wrapping Paper!

The Frugal Hostess loves to wrap gifts.  Honestly!  It's the way she made her mother-in-law love her - by wrapping all her Christmas gifts.  Here are some great ideas for alternatives to paper wrapping from Andrea Donsky and Randy Boyer of

Box it up
Hat boxes, fabric-wrapped storage boxes and photo boxes are great for "wrapping" gifts for any occasion, but are great options for winter holidays. They can be used for storage later on and they stand up to a few flurries better than paper. Add some fabric ribbon tied in a bow and you have a lovely package.

Basket case
Pile a bunch of small items into a banana leaf or wicker basket, and finish off with fabric ribbon secured with an ornament or a broach picked up from a second-hand store.

Wrap gifts in fabric remnants. You can pick up remnants at most fabric stores, often at 50 to 66 percent off the regular price. Fold the fabric around the gift and secure with raffia or a fabric ribbon, or sew a simple sac to hold anything from an iPod to a bottle of wine.

The Old World
Use out-of-date maps to wrap gifts you're giving to travel lovers. It's a great way to reuse a paper item before it hits the recycling bin. Secure with raffia or butcher's twine.

Jar head
Use a glass container or large mason jar for giving homemade treats. If you're sharing your favorite recipe, layer the dry ingredients in the jar, and attach the recipe to the jar with a ribbon.

If you truly can't resist the urge to tear away at a paper-wrapped gift, look for recycled wrapping paper. (Just say no to foils and sparkles.) And be sure to use every last scrap!
The Frugal Hostess insists that you come hang out on Facebook. What? Like you don't already spend three hours there a day.

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Thursday, November 4, 2010

Cool Contest to Enter

The Frugal Hostess has never, ever copied an entire press release into this blog.  What a lazy thing to do!  Well, that changes today, as she brings you the entire press release about a really cool contest being sponsored by the everlastingly inspiring and magical ReadyMade Magazine (affiliate link).  Winning this would be like winning the Nobel Prize in being crafty/cool.  Go forth and enter!

ReadyMade (1-year auto-renewal)


Judging Panel to Include Renowned Designer Jonathan Adler, Instructables Founder and CEO Eric Willhelm and Design*Sponge’s Grace Bonney

New York, NY (November 2, 2010) – ReadyMade magazine is calling on the DIY community to submit its most functional, beautiful, interesting, sustainable manifestations of creativity to the ReadyMade 100. Launching this year, the ReadyMade 100 is a new annual contest designed to celebrate the best 100 projects from the wide world of DIY. From now until December 15 entrants can upload their projects to in the following categories: Home & Garden, Food & Entertaining, Design, Craft, Fashion & Style, Culture, Travel & Places, and Technology & Work. That basically covers everything, so the sky’s the limit.

After the submission deadline, readers, whether submitting a project or not, can vote on the projects. Next, a panel of eight expert judges, including Jonathan Adler, Instructables founder and CEO Eric Wilhelm, Grace Bonney of home and product blog Design*Sponge, and DIY Network’s Amy Devers will select their favorite submissions. The winner will be named “Main Maker” and will be awarded $500 as well as a three-night stay in New York City, including one night at a ReadyMade 100 party in his/her honor. In addition, the Main Maker’s winning project will be featured on the cover of the 2011 April/May issue. To complete the package, the winner will have the opportunity to contribute to ReadyMade’s website throughout the year with updates on his/her projects.

A group of Top 50 Makers will also be selected and will receive prizes, including special badges, T-shirts, notoriety, bragging rights, and a spot in the 2011 April/May issue.

To enter the ReadyMade 100 annual contest, submit your project using the Project Uploader Tool at

To view all ReadyMade 100 entries, please visit:

To vote, click on the link “This gets my vote!” You can vote for an unlimited number of projects, though you can only vote for each project once daily.        

For more information, please visit:

About ReadyMadeReadyMade magazine, which launched in December 2001, is published bi-monthly. It was named to Adweek Media’s 2010 Magazine “10 Under 60 Hot List,” and was a National Magazine Award Finalist in the General Excellence category in 2005 and 2006. Targeted at adults in their 20s and 30s, the magazine offers myriad do-it-yourself projects and promotes an environmentally friendly lifestyle. The website complements the magazine's print content with how-to tips and project ideas. The brand’s fast-growing social media presence includes an interactive online community with calendar events, photos, projects, and blogs. In addition to the magazine and website, ReadyMade published its first book -- How to Make (Almost) Anything [affiliate link] -- in December 2005.

The Frugal Hostess insists that you come hang out on Facebook. What? Like you don't already spend three hours there a day.

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Monday, November 1, 2010

FruHo Says Relax (?)

The Frugal Hostess would like to talk about relaxation. Yes, that topic is somewhat far afield from parties, but it makes a round-about kind of sense. To whit: if we entertain friends to have fun in our free time, then in some way it must be relaxing. Except, it is not at all relaxing, although still fun. Huh. The point is that, for FruHo, it is hard to relax, but it is not hard to celebrate or have fun, although those things are quite different.

What does this mean?

Don’t get your hopes up that this is gonna make sense.

OK. So, when TFH thinks about things that are relaxing, she thinks of getting a massage, sitting on a beach reading, watching movies on a rainy afternoon, etc. When TFH has free time, she rarely does any of the above things. Instead, she does cooking experiments, looks at every single thing in the thrift store, or tries to make a craft project. None of that is relaxing, although it’s fun. In fact, the idea of doing any of the things listed as relaxing up there makes FruHo feel so guilty that she just added another project to her to-do list (see therapist about guilt complex).

Don’t misunderstand: The Frugal Hostess isn’t pretending to be so incredibly busy that all she has time for is drinking espresso for dinner on her way to the next appointment; she will leave that level of martyrdom activity to mothers of small children. What she is saying, though, is that relaxation seems like a concept that exists in commercials but not real life. FruHo is happy and has lots of fun, so does she even need to relax? What does relaxation feel like? How do you know it’s time to relax, and how do you tell when you’re there?

Help a potentially uptight-without-even-knowing-it sister out in the comments.

Facebook. What? Like you don't already spend three hours there a day.

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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Ways to Read

The Frugal Hostess loves to read.  Loves it.  It would be her passion, if she didn't think using the word "passion" in that context was utterly ridiculous.  It all started when, as a child, FruMa and FruPa promised to give little FruHo one dollar for ever book she completed.  There were a few bumps in the road, like when she was quizzed by her dad after "reading" a long book about Abe Lincoln (yawn) in about 20 minutes and got totally busted for skipping around.  But, for the most part, that was some supremely effective bribery which resulted in TFH being a virtual speed-reader by age 12.  

As an adult, TFH continues to read voraciously.  In her early 20s, she read and re-read all of the classics that she either missed getting a Lit degree (Oscar Wilde springs to mind) or loved and wanted to memorize.  These included all of J.D. Salinger; all of F. Scott Fitzgerald; and a jumble of other books.  As her corporate career became more taxing, The Frugal Hostess shifted gears to reading magazines, chick lit, and the canonical business books of the day.  And, now in her 30s, FruHo finds herself reading mostly blogs, with the occasional novel or non-fiction work thrown in for good measure, and a heaping helping of Real Simple and Martha Stewart Living (affiliate links).  It's not that she doesn't love books, but TFH can only consume so many words per day before her head explodes.

Over the past few months, FruHo has been exploring a variety of ways to read.  Here's a run-down of some interesting ideas.

Kindle: OK, well, duh; welcome to the party, FruHo.  The Frugal Hostess borrowed a Kindle (affiliate link) to give it a test drive, and she was surprised at how much she liked it.  It is light, easy to hold, and very intuitive to operate.  There was no glare on the screen, which had been a concern, and it seems pretty sturdy in construction.  However, she was surprised at how much Amazon charged for Kindle books, magazines, and blog subscriptions.  Not one to begrudge an author the money s/he is due, it still seemed a little strange to pay two-thirds the price of a hard-back version.  That may just be the old lady in TFH coming out.  Final verdict: would love a Kindle as a gift, but probably won't invest in one.

Library: Obviously, the library is a great place to get free books.  The library in The Frugal Hostess's neighborhood is extremely convenient, but it's a small branch, so the selection isn't always terrific.  TFH wishes that public libraries would - just every once in a while, not trying to overthrow the government here - arrange the books in a different way.  Maybe by color, in a library-wide rainbow, or by subject matter, so that you could find a novel about Italy next to an Italian cookbook beside a CD of Italian language lessons.  But, you know, the library still rules.

Bookswim: The Frugal Hostess was given a free trial membership of Bookswim to test out (Bookswim is the book-rental service that mimics Netflix).  You create a queue, or "pool" in their parlance, of the books that interest you, and they are sent to you as available, along with a postage-paid return envelope.  FruHo belonged to this service years ago, when it was first starting out, and she found the selection to be somewhat limited - lots of romance novels, not a lot of cutting edge fiction or business books.  However, she is happy to report that not only have they added quite a variety of choices, but they've also amped up the marketing and PR efforts to make it just seem, well, cooler.  Bookswim is a great choice for fast readers, but the one little annoyance is that you can't prioritize the books you want like you can with movies on Netflix.  You get what you get out of the several books you list in your pool.  The return bag is awesome.

Thrift Store: You are well aware of the amount of time TFH spends at the thrift store; in fact, she was recently devastated to be ousted as Mayor of her favorite thrift by some upstart on Foursquare.  FruHo finds the thrift store to be an excellent place to score great deals on books.  She has often found new releases that are still full price at B&N or the other big guys sitting there for $2.  The obvious downside of thrifting your books is that you can't predict the inventory, so you just have to choose from what they have.  For a voracious reader, this isn't a big deal.  You can also find crazy old books that you would never imagine, titles like How to Pick a Mate from 1937 ("Don't smell bad" is one of the tips) or Groovy Parties for Teens.

Amazon & eBay: You can always get a better deal on these sites than you can in the store (at least, it seems like it), but they are still closer to retail than the options listed above.  TFH likes to buy on eBay when she has some money built up in her PayPal account, because that way The Cheap Frugal Husband can't tell what she's buying.  

Bookstore:  The bookstore is the most expensive place to buy books, clearly, but it is also the most fun.  You can usually get coffee (albeit from even more pretentious baristas than usual) and walk around reading anything you want.  If The Frugal Hostess were, say, The Flagrant Heiress instead, she would probably spend one day a week shopping and buying books at Barnes and Noble.

Has anyone tried a Nook?  What are other ways to get your reading fix?

The Frugal Hostess suggests that you attend Social Media Atlanta, November 8-12, 2010. 
Photo by austinevan

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Sunday, October 3, 2010

How to Take a Free Vacation

The Frugal Hostess is in Napa.  Yes, that Napa.  The one in California where all the wine comes from.  Are you wondering how "Napa" works in the same sentence with "frugal"?

Well, Dear Reader(s), here is how that works:

1.  Work really hard in a career for 10-15 years, and then chuck it to start your own business.  During a recession.  Obviously.
2.  Make sure that business is 95% web-based -- like, all of your output and deliverables can be emailed or posted in the cloud.  See The 4 Hour Work Week for ideas and details.
3.  Also make sure that you are still somewhat poor, don't have kids, and have an awesome husband.
4.  Then, when opportunity knocks, answer!

Ha!  Easier said than done, right?  And yet, it is currently being done, in that exact way, by The Frugal Hostess herself.  Now, obviously, not everyone can do this in exactly the same way: the plane ticket was free, the hotel stay is free, and the food is free for FruHo because of the particular job she's doing.  But, FruHo suggests that anyone can swing some kind of free.  To whit:
  • She got a free wine tasting at Uncorked for checking in on FourSquare.
  • She bought a ticket to see Margaret Cho using points.  That is free to FruHo.
  • An old friend bought her dinner at a fabulous restaurant. She only protested a tiny bit.
  • The city of San Francisco is throwing a free [BAD ASS] bluegrass and folk festival today!
 What are some other ways to put some complimentary into your trip?

The Frugal Hostess insists that you come hang out on Facebook. What? Like you don't already spend three hours there a day.
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Friday, September 24, 2010

Calling All Food Bloggers

First of all, if you are a food blogger, why are you reading this blog?  The Frugal Hostess never runs a recipe that isn't fraught with errors.  And mayhem.  Unless it's FruHubs Food, in which case the recipes are delicious but always brown.

But second, if you do happen to be a food blogger, and you do happen to be making the fatal error of spending your time here, The Frugal Hostess would like to tell you about something super extra cool and exciting.

November 8-12 is Social Media Atlanta.  For five days, all across the Atlanta metro area,  participants will have the opportunity to attend events designed to showcase Atlanta’s involvement in social media across many different industries as well as state and local governments, communities, and cultures.  While the agenda is listed on the website, there is an event that hasn't gone up yet, one that is perfect for food bloggers!

On Wednesday, Nov. 10, SMATL will host a food bloggers' panel and - get this - urban picnic at The Hub.  Bringing together the very best online foodies, online eaties (like that new phrase?), and the Atlanta Street Food Coalition, this promises to be an utterly EPIC event. 

But ssshhhh, don't tell anyone yet (yeah, right).  Because first, Social Media Atlanta needs to fill the panel with food bloggers.  Can you dig it?  If so, please email FruHo (frugalhostess @ or her friend StephHo - just kidding - Stephanie (info @ to raise your hand.  TFH promises not to cook anything.

The Frugal Hostess reminds you that there are panels and events for every type of social media enthusiast, so check out the agenda and reserve your (mostly free) tickets. 
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Saturday, September 11, 2010

Thinking about September 11, 2001

 Peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek but a means by which we arrive at that goal.
- Martin Luther King, Jr.

photo by bitzi

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Thursday, September 9, 2010

Wherein THIS Blog Post Saves a Life

Has it really been since August 23?  Really??? Yikes.

There's been a lot going on in FruHo land.  Because she recently saw some bloggers comparing a list post to an exercise for slow kids, and because she just cannot physically resist picking a scab like that kind of comment, and because she is herself a slow kid, here is a mother-trucking list of things for you to read.  

1.  FruHubs was away for all of August.  All of it.  Plus a bit of July.  Thumbs down.  Although, it did bring in some cash.  The Frugal Hostess started the month with a lot of goals: redecorate the house; lose 20 pounds; write a book; and many other things.  Results?  Actually, a good bit of redecoration, such as it was with a budget of no money; a loss of 5 pounds that were probably due to a particularly long sneezing fit; and, well, not much else.  A good bit of the time was spent dissolving into tears at least once per day.

2.  One of the cool things that happened was FruHo got asked cajoled convinced encouraged to start a line of artisan candies.  The details are still being worked out (like, does she really even want to do it?), but a lot of mental energy has been expended and kitchen time logged in service to this idea.  How does Rosemary Rock candy strike your virtual palette?

3.  Another cool thing was picking pears with Concrete Jungle.  A longer post is long overdue about this, but these two guys pick unwanted fruit (like apples on the off-ramp) and donate it to food banks.  They could not be cooler, nicer, smarter, or better, and it would be quite ideal if you were to click on over there and give them a couple of bucks.  They don't have huge expenses, so don't worry if you don't have a huge donation.  In case the post never materializes, you can see a photo album here.

4.  TFH did a lot of dog-sitting and traveling to see family, all of which was fun but time-consuming, further excuse for the lack of posting.  And now, the hellishly hot and just generally miserable month of August is over, and everyone can get on with their lives.

5.  THIS JUST IN: A certain hilarious and talented blogger is dealing with some heavy shit right now, and The Frugal Hostess urges you to think about her as hard as you effing can.  Please.  UPDATE: All good, folks.  There is no doubt that this blog post, and the subsequent good vibes, completely saved the day.  Great job. 

Anybody want to write a guest post?  The Frugal Hostess is eating a lot of beans right now.  Musically enough.  So there aren't that many great recipes to report.
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Monday, August 23, 2010

On Seeing | Guest Post from Becky of Beltline Bike Shop

There is something amazing happening in one Southwest Atlanta neighborhood, and this is just glimpse of the whole inspiring story.   You can read more about Beltline Bike Shop here, and you can donate here.  The Frugal Hostess can see the future, and you are really going to want to donate.

On Seeing | By Becky O'Mara

This summer, Tim began working with one of the kiddos on his reading. This 8-year-old that is around the house a lot was going to summer school. Half of our neighborhood was going to summer school. At some point, the offer came up that if he read an entire book, he could get an upgrade for his bike. He accepted and it was on.

It took several weeks to get through the book. This young boy is going into the 4th grade, by is probably on a first grade reading level. It was a second grade reading level book, but it seemed like we were stopping on every other word. Pretty soon reading time was supplemented with phonics lessons. We did a chapter each day he came by. The latter chapters were better than the first few! And his confidence was growing.

In the process, as Tim would watch him squint at the pages of the book, it became apparent that he couldn’t really see the words on the page. ‘Are the words blurry?’ Tim asked. The boy answered Yes…. and said that he used to have glasses. but they broke. His mom never got them fixed.

We talked to mom immediately, telling her that he really needed glasses. The summer went by and they just never got to it… finally, the first week of school, Tim and I went over together and said we would take them to get glasses. It was arranged and Tim took the family last Friday afternoon.

They are on Medicaid, so the examination was free. The glasses would also be free, but because it was Medicaid, it would take 6 weeks for them to come in. Because that makes sense?? Tim and the family decided they could not wait that  long, so they would buy a pair that would only take a week. The glasses would cost $80 at the local eyeglass shop.

Mom did not have the money, so the boy and his brother agreed to cut lawns to earn the money. Tim had lined up from several neighbors/landlords, so it worked out great. They came home that afternoon after the eye exam and got to work right away. Their loan is now completely paid off!

Our little guy now has glasses. The victory is not complete yet… we have to make sure he wears them all the time. (He REALLY needs them.) He came over today without them on. He is of course getting teased at school, but we think the neighborhood is a safe place (because anyone who makes fun of him will get in trouble from Mr. Tim if they do.) We just have to keep encouraging him to wear them. In the process, we’ve realized his older brother also really needs glasses, but is embarrassed to wear them. He’s a teenager and if his eyesight is as bad as his younger brother’s, we don’t know how he is functioning in school. That’s a challenge for another day. It makes me think, though, how many kids/teenagers/adults in our neighborhood genuninely can’t see, but do not wear glasses because of fear of rejection or humiliation, or because they just “can’t get to the store.”

Here is the moral of this story.

This family just needed someone to walk alongside them in this challenge. We can judge, say it’s irresponsible parenting for not getting a boy glasses, and that there are no excuses for that. But we all have areas in our lives where, for whatever reason, we are paralyzed. At times, we all need someone to walk alongside us, helping us make the right choices, and getting to the finish line.

Here’s the question: Who are you walking alongside? Do you know people well enough to know what they need encouragement in? This principle is not just applicable in the ‘hood. It’s in every neighborhood, every community, at every income level. Every one of us holds a unique power in making the world a better place in this way, if we will merely take the time to see.

[See?  Told ya.  Donate here.  There's also a list of tools and supplies they need here.]

photo by bgottsab
This week's posts will be dedicated to "small batch" change-makers.  Like the O'Maras and their Beltline Bike Shop, there are all kinds of people making real change in their neighborhoods and communities, one day at a time.  If you know someone who is giving their love and labor instead of their platitudes and punditry, The Frugal Hostess would appreciate a head's up at frugalhostess @ 
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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Gremlin Book Review + Cocktail Recipes

Well, The Frugal Hostess keeps getting sent these amazingly beautiful books about cooking and drinking. For free.  It just keeps on happening.  Amazing.

Seriously, man.  Check these out.

The first, Organic, Shaken and Stirred by Paul Abercrombie, has some amazingly creative ideas for drinks, whether you're a freak about organic ingredients (as you should be) or not.  The book takes a chef's approach to cocktails, incorporating ingredients like radish, purple basil, and simple syrup infused with beet juice.  Some ingredients are a little esoteric or expensive for The Frugal Hostess's taste - organic saffron threads, anyone?  But even the least attainable of the recipes contains an idea or two that you can replicate.

Here's an example.

Roasted Red Pepper Julep
4 sprigs of mint
1 oz. simple syrup [TFH often uses agave syrup in place of simple syrup.]
2 oz. roasted red pepper puree [There's a recipe for this in the book, but, really, just puree roasted red peppers.]
2 oz. bourbon
2 oz. sparkling water

1.  Muddle mint with simple syrup.
2.  Add ice.  FruHo recommends crushed ice for juleps, if you can get it easily.  [Also, she suggests adding only half the ice, followed by the rest of the ingredients, and topped with the remaining ice.  That just makes it easier to stir.]
3.  Add remaining ingredients, stirring slowly.
4.  Garnish with mint.

Isn't that just an intriguing recipe?

Gizmo Moments: Really cool, innovative takes on traditional cocktails, plus new ideas.  Focused on organic ingredients.  Very balanced drinks, with savory ingredients and herbs evening out the sweetness of simple syrups and sugars.  Great punch ideas!  When The Frugal Hostess was looking for punch ideas for her Mardi Gras party, she really could have used these ideas!  Also, gorgeous, plentiful pictures.

Stripe Moments: Some ingredients are hard to find or expensive, and TFH wishes that there were a few more stories included with the recipes, either personal ones from the author or more details on the history of the drink.  That is clearly not the point of the book; FruHo just thinks it would've been a cool addition.

Then there's Champagne Cocktails by A.J. Rathbun (this one isn't out yet, so no link to buy - sorry!).  Who has this many ideas for drinks based on bubbles?  The book starts with versions of the classics (think Kir Royale and Mimosa), and then follows up with a ton of other interesting ideas.  A particularly creative one is the Caprese Cocktail, which uses molecular gastronomy favorites, sodium alginate and calcium chloride, to create gels out of balsamic vinegar and ketchup.  These gels are in turn made into "caviar," which sit in the bottom of the champagne glass.  Amazing, right?  Unfortunately, there's no picture of this drink in the book, so it's hard to tell if this is worth the trouble of making it.

Gizmo Moments: Champagne cocktails are a really good way to make cheap wine seem more festive, and there are so many creative ideas in this book.  Plus, once you see how Rathbun has combined different ingredients, it's easy to come up with your own ideas.  Also, for those restaurants with only beer and wine licenses (this may be a Florida phenomenon), this can help spice up their offerings.

Stripe Moments: There are not enough pictures in this book.  Now, look, The Frugal Hostess is not illiterate, but she really prefers a lot of photography in any kind of cooking (or cocktailing) book.  How else do you know what you're getting yourself into?

Here is a final drink, inspired by both of these books.  

Rosemary Citrus Champagne Cocktail

Fresh rosemary, finely minced
Zest of one lemon or lime, or half an orange
Agave syrup (or sugar and water, or a packet of Splenda or stevia sweetener)
Splash of  water 

Directions - fast version: 
1.  Put the rosemary, zest, splash of water, and 1 oz. (or packet) of sweetener into a cocktail shaker, and shake like mad.  
2.  Pour into two champagne flutes and top with bubbles.

Directions - slow version:
1.  Combine one cup of sugar, one cup of water, several sprigs' worth of finely minced rosemary, and the zest in a saucepan.  
2.  Heat until sugar is completely dissolved.
3.  Let your rosemary-citrus simple syrup cool.  [FruHo likes to store simple syrups in squeeze bottles, like the kind the diner uses to store ketchup, in the refrigerator.  This is the least sticky method.  But it's still very sticky.  Duh, it's sugar.]
4.  Add an ounce or so of the syrup to each glass, and then top with champagne (or prosecco, or cava, or whatever is cheapest!).
5.  Garnish with a short sprig of fresh rosemary and a twist of citrus peel.

Wanna win one of these books?  Leave a comment about your favorite non-alcoholic beverage, and, if you win the random drawing, you'll have your choice of either Book 1, Book 2, or a Prize Package put together by The Frugal Hostess.  How will you ever have the nerve to request anything but the latter???

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Tuesday, August 17, 2010


Here are some things that have been happening lately.

1.  These weird fairy phantom mushrooms pop up in the same spot in the backyard every day, but they don't hang around too long.  They are like apparitions and usually disappear within an hour of being seen, only to return again the next day.  The tops look like the gills of a mushroom without the cap over them, and you can see through them (which may not come across in the picture).  Does anyone know what these are?

2. FruHubs is out of town, and The Frugal Hostess misses him something fierce.  However, she has been delighted to redecorate the house in his absence.  FruHo does something like this every time he leaves town, because FruHubs likes to mull over decisions like this for years a while.  If he's gone, she can just get on with it.

3.  It's 796 degrees outside.

4.  The palm leaf plate is definitely decomposing quickly in the compost pile.  See?



The Frugal Hostess insists that you come hang out on Facebook. What? Like you don't already spend three hours there a day.
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