Tuesday, February 23, 2010

In Defense of Velveeta Fudge

The Frugal Hostess was recently at an event populated by a ton of food bloggers.  It was fun, for sure, but also kind of weird.  First of all, TFH doesn't consider herself a food blogger, per se.  Sure, there are recipes on this blog, but she's more of a lifestyle writer.  Or something.  Who knows.

Anyway, one of the serious food bloggers brought up Paula Deen and The Food Network.  She (the Serious Food Blogger) said that she thought the Food Network was ruining American food by featuring cooks like Paula Deen.  Or destroying it.  Or something like that.  She used as an example a recipe for fudge that Ms. Deen made using Velveeta as an ingredient.

[Is that gross?  Or kind of awesome?  Hard to say.]

Really?  Ruining food in America?  Crazy ole Paula Deen?  You must be joking.

Now, if you've ever read this blog before, you know that The Frugal Hostess is one of those crunchy granola-eating, scrap-composting, organic food-obsessing hippie yuppies.  Well, whatever the poor version of that is.  And she would never, ever give you some nasty, Sandra Lee version of a recipe that requires you to dye your noodles with yellow food coloring to make them look homemade.  Ick.  Really: buy as much local, organic, humane, fair food as you can, and make that a priority over almost everything else.  There.  TFH is on the record.


FruHo would also like to go on the record as saying that the giant corporations who produce the bulk of our processed, chemicalized, genetically-modified Frankenfood get to take the blame for fucking up food in America.  Not Paula Deen, not the Food Network, and not even that most unholy of unholies, Sandra Lee.  Do not blame the victims, fancy Serious Food Blogger; go for the real villains who invented high fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated vegetable oil.

Furthermore, TFH would like to thank said monster companies for producing food that allows women to fulfill destinies other than those wrapped in apron strings.  If there were no take-out, no Tuna Helper, and no Velveeta, how many of us and our moms would be yanked out of the workplace and churning butter?  Sure, the food sucks and is built for profit rather than nutrition, but what if women still had to make everything from scratch?

Would it be better if everyone ate whole foods made with love at home?  Absolutely.  But we don't yet have a viable alternative that doesn't patronize the poor, pile work on people who are already stretched too thin, or otherwise move the target from agribusiness (where it belongs) to Ma and Pa.

We need a Slow Food Movement, but more than that we need a Slow Life Movement.

How else can we get the time to enjoy Grandma's Jello and Miracle Whip Salad?
The Frugal Hostess doesn't dig food snobs. 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, February 22, 2010

Make It Yourself Monday: The Return - Re-purposing Household Goods

The Frugal Hostess kind of forgot that she used to do this Monday column about making stuff yourself.  Oops.  Sorry about that.

It's back!  For one week only.  Or, you know, until the next time FruHo remembers to do it.

This time, we're going to talk about re-purposing things you already have so that you don't have to buy other things.

Item One: Liquid Soap for Your Guest Bathroom

Here's what you do.  Get a squeeze bottle - sort of like the ones for ketchup and mustard, but clear.  Fill it with: dish soap; gel shampoo; shower gel; or Dr. Bronner's Liquid Castile Soap.  Presto - you have liquid hand soap!  And then people actually think you wash your hands!  When, of course, you totally don't, since you're trying to cultivate the good bacteria.  Or whatever.  Yuck.

Item Two: Bath Oil (or moisturizer)

Fill a small jar with canola oil.  Add several drops of orange, almond, or other non-floral essential oil.  Shake like hell.  Drip into bath water and/or rub on skin.  Actually, you can use floral scents, TFH supposes, just don't give her any.  Gross.  Sneeze-o-matic.

Item Three: All-Purpose Surface Cleaner

Take a squirt bottle (feel free to use an old cleaning product bottle, but just wash it well to get rid of the nasty chemicals and chemical smell).  Fill it with half vinegar and half water.  Spray it all over anything dirty.  Wipe and repeat.

Item Four: Buttermilk

Hardly anyone ever has buttermilk hanging around.  Although, given it's extraordinary ability to improve baked goods, maybe we should.  Either way, if you don't have any buttermilk, just use regular milk with one tablespoon replaced with white vinegar.  In other words, if you need a cup of buttermilk, pour a cup of milk, scoop out one tablespoon of the milk, and add a tablespoon of white vinegar.  Unlike many substitutions, The Frugal Hostess can honestly say that this is exactly the same and results in no change to your final product.

Item Five: Leather Cleaner

This may be somewhat controversial, but FruHo has heard - from the horse's mouth, no less - that cobblers use lemon Pledge to put a shine on your briefcases.  That's right; you pay $10-$20 to have your Coach Legacy briefcase freshened up, and the dude sprays Pledge all over it and calls it a day.  Shocking, but certainly frugal to do yourself.

Item Six: On the Spot Blemish Treatment

You do not need to fork out for a special mask or cream or potion for the occasional pimple.  Cover it with toothpaste, sleep, and wake up with less of a problem.  (Don't, however, rub toothpaste all over your face.  As TFH can attest, that is just a bad idea.)  Please note: the toothpaste needs to be paste and not gel.

Item Seven: Cuticle Oil

See bath oil above.  Or, drip some olive oil on your cuticles.  What a ridiculous thing to spend money on.

Item Eight: Labels

You don't need to buy a P-Touch Label Maker.  You can use masking tape and a Sharpie.  Duh.  Full disclosure: The Frugal Hostess is having a torrid affair with her P-Touch label maker and is absolutely head-over-heels in love with it.  So, you know, this is more do as TFH says not as TFH does-style advice.

Item Nine: Furniture Buffer

According to this article on Lifehacker, you can use a walnut to take care of scuffs on wood furniture.  Hmmm.  That looks awesome, but FruHo hasn't tried it yet, so caveat emptor.

Item Ten:  News

Twitter.  It's much faster, more accurate, and usually more hilarious than the news.

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, February 15, 2010

Signs of Old Age at Mardi Gras

What are the true signs of old age?  Is it when your bra looks more like a piece of industrial equipment and less like a piece of lace?  Is it the day you freeze a ham bone for the soup you want to make a month from now?  Is it when your face is a drag race between pimples and wrinkles, and they're neck and neck? 

No way, dude.  The truest sign of old age is when it takes as long to recover from a party as it did to prepare for it.  Here's a chart that proves it:

See?  Told you.

So, The Frugal Hostess had a party to celebrate Mardi Gras (which is a season and not a day, people) on Saturday, and she is still worn out.  Isn't that pitiful?

The party was lots of fun, and most of the best stuff happened after FruHo misplaced her camera, but here's a shot of the food table and a recipe for pimento cheese spread.  Honestly, that's all she can muster.


Pimento Cheese Spread (from Liza's Kitchen)
1 lb block of cheddar cheese (give or take)
Mayonnaise (like, two or three spoons full)
7 oz. jar of pimentos OR roasted red peppers cut into tiny pieces
Parmesan cheese, freshly grated to taste

1.  Grate the cheddar using a box grater or food processor.
2.  Stir up with the pimentos (or red peppers) in a bowl.
3.  Add mayonnaise.  Just watch it; you may like a bit more or less than the three heaping giant spoons full that TFH recommends.
4.  Grate in some parmesan using a microplane grater.  Be generous with this, but also don't worry if you don't have it.  Don't use the kind from a can, though; that would be gross.
5.  Stir up, cover, and refrigerate for 24 hours.
6.  Serve with pretzel chips, pretzel rods, or pretzels themselves for ultimate taste sensation.  For lesser sensation, try a cracker or bread.  You will be disappointed, so just stick with a pretzel-based item.  Don't say FruHo didn't warn you.

The Frugal Hostess is going to bed.  She is sleeeeeeepppppy.  Please comment. You can also join the Frugalistas on Facebook, follow on Twitter @frugalhostess, or subscribe so that you always know when a new post appears.

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Friday, February 12, 2010

Frugal Cleaning in the Bathroom

The Frugal Hostess spent a big chunk of Friday night cleaning the house in preparation for Saturday's Mardi Gras Open House (more to come on that).  It sucked.  The end.

Just kidding.  At least about this post being over. 

TFH has a complicated relationship with cleanliness.  As a wee lass, she was well-known for her filthiness.  Her childhood bedroom was like a hoarder's wet dream, with piles and stacks and this and that in every possible place.  Once, The Frugal Mother was so incensed by the reckless abandon with which FruHo treated her belongings that she (FruMa) stuffed every item of clothing that FruHo had left on the floor into big black garbage bags, which were hidden in an undisclosed location for an indefinite period of time.  The Frugal Hostess wore a bathing suit to school for six days.

Another time, FruPa (The Frugal Father) was amused to discover a pork chop bone resting on the passenger seat of The Frugal Hostess's car.  Needless to say, it had been gnawed to nothing.  And, when FruHubs and FruHo first started dating, he was shocked when everything she said about her apartment turned out to be true.  He said on the occasion of his first visit, "Huh.  Girls usually exaggerate about how messy their house is.  Not you."

Time has passed, and TFH has grown up (and watched many, many episodes of "How Clean is Your House?").  It's almost hard for her to concentrate when her surroundings are out of order.  (And, FruMa and FruPa?  No one wants to hear your cackles of disbelief.)  In fact, she's had people call her "OCD" before, about certain organizational practices. 

When she was still working for The Man, FruHo had a housecleaner.  Man, was that awesome.  But now that she's The Frugal Hostess (rather than The Spendthrift Hostess, or The Credit Card Hostess, or some other kind of hostess) TFH has some cleaning tips that will save you time, money, and chemical havoc.

Episode One | Frugal Cleaning in the Bathroom 

Toilets: Sprinkle baking soda around the bowl, just above the water line.  Squirt white vinegar on it, and let it bubble for a while.  Scrub with a toilet brush and flush.  Then, and this is the exciting breakthrough part, use the brush to push the water down the hole.  That's right!  It totally works.  You too can defy gravity, or whatever scientific principle is at play here.  Without that pesky water in the way, you can use a rag* and some Charlie's Soap Spray to really clean that mother.   You can clean the crap out of your toilets!

Har.  Haha.  Ahem.

Mirrors: Know how there are always toothpaste spit dots and finger prints on your mirrors?  And remember how you used to just douse them with Windex and wipe it around with paper towels?  Well, block out those memories, because you're never doing that again.  Take a dry rag*, and use it to rub all the spots out of your mirror.  Seriously.  No spray required.  Just rub really hard (good for the triceps, TFH has heard, although her triceps became extinct at the turn of the century, so who knows), and all of the spots will come out.  This is especially good for last minute clean-ups (translation: all the cleaning ever attempted at The Frugal Homestead) and can even be executed with your tee-shirt.

Sinks & Counter-tops: Before you gather up all the dirty towels and damp washcloths for the laundry basket, treat your sink and counter to a day at the spa.  Wherein spa means getting a dirty rub-down.  Use an already dirty damp cloth to wipe and scrub away at any unsightly stains.  Then employ the similarly grody towel to wipe away lint and hair.  Once the big stuff has been vanquished, pull out a clean, dry rag* to finalize, perhaps with a spritz of vinegar if you're feeling fancy.

Other:  Empty the trash can; don't be gross.  Put away all of your ointments and tinctures.  Hang up your robe.  Or, better yet, wash that foul thing - remember the last time you did that?  Neither does the robe.  Make everything straight and orderly, and you will feel fine about totally ignoring the bathtub, shower, and floors for another week.

What frugal cleaning ideas do you have for the bathroom?  And don't say anything that includes the word husband, because that would be a straight-up lie. 

*Rag: If you ever buy another paper towel or rag for cleaning again, you need to have your head examined.  Take one (or 84) of the tee-shirts that you don't wear anymore, and cut it up into rags.  Tee-shirt material is freaking awesome for cleaning, and the obvious bonus is that you don't spend money and can wash them again and again. You can even use them for draining bacon, so there goes that excuse.  

Photo by Karen Horton
The Frugal Hostess has written the longest blog post in history.  Are you still awake?  If so, please comment. If not, sweet dreams. 

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Thursday, February 11, 2010

Introducing Miss Prissy Britches

Do you have a four-year-old in your life?  If you don't, The Frugal Hostess strongly suggests you find one ASAP.  Four-year-olds are the best.  They are smart enough to do things for you and too dumb to realize you are bossing them around.  They are still giggly wiggly mushy little balls of cute, but they also have taste in shoes and favorites colors and all manner of predilections that will crack you up.

FruHo's four-year-old is her niece, Miss Prissy Britches.  MPB and TFH are cut of the same cloth - both big fans of dresses, shoes, and getting their way - so they get along like peas and carrots whenever they are together.

Here's a sample conversation:

TFH: Miss Prissy Britches, I'm coming to see you this weekend!

MPB: [in her most dramatic, excited voice]: You're coming HERE?  To see ME?  THIS WEEKEND?!?!

TFH:  Yes, yes I am.

MPB: Well, what are you going to wear?

TFH: I'm bringing jeans and sweaters and tee-shirts.

MPB: What about your dresses?  Aren't you bringing any dresses?

TFH: Not this time.

MPB: You've GOT to be kidding me.

(Did FruHo mention that Miss Prissy Britches is four?)

One of the best things you can do with a four-year-old is make cupcakes.  Naturally.  They love to help and have adult jobs to do, like cracking eggs and unwrapping Hershey kisses.  Miss Prissy Britches loves to say, "What's the next step, Nanan*?  What do I do next?"  They also love to eat cupcakes.

Here's a great recipe for chocolate cupcakes from the Pioneer Woman that The Frugal Hostess made with Miss Prissy Britches last weekend.  It's delicious, for sure, but most delicious is having a four-year-old around to lick the spoon.

*Nanan is the New Orleans word for godmother.  Clearly a corruption of some variety, everyone in TFH's family calls their godmothers Nanan and the godfathers Parrain.

The Frugal Hostess has baby fever. Please comment, and please subscribe so that you always know when a new post appears.

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Sunday, February 7, 2010

Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner

Here are the BUTT RUB WINNERS!!!!  Yep, TFH just put butt rub in all caps.  Our first winner is Lisa Bailey, who had The Frugal Hostess laughing all day Thursday with her hilarious response.
Lisa Bailey said...
Cumin, garlic salt, paprika, toasted paprika, chili powder, brown sugar, ginger, (the white stuff?-confectioners sugar, cocaine, cream of tartar???)
In fact, it was so funny that it also infected the answer of the other winner, who writes a food blog from the British Virgin Islands.

Sugar Apple said...
The white stuff looks kind of like MSG. Or what Lisa said.

Winners, email your preferred mailing address to frugalhostess@gmail.com, and the butt rub will be on its way!

Oh, and the white stuff?

Onion powder and garlic powder.  Photo by Michael.

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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Thursday, February 4, 2010

Wherein The Frugal Hostess Comes Out as a Yuppie

Don't you always hear people say that quality is better than quantity?  That you should "invest" in certain things that will last forever?  That some clothes never go out of style?


The Frugal Hostess begs to differ.  For the most part, you can find a cheap alternative to almost every top quality (and top dollar) purchase out there.  If you are patient and have no shame, every single stinkin' thing in the whole wide world shows up at the thrift store (or in the garbage) sooner or later.

And on the "some clothes never go out of style" point?  You couldn't be more wrong.  Not that it matters to TFH whether you are stylish or not, but there is no such thing as an "investment" piece when it comes to clothing.  Aside from the obvious decay-prone fibrous texture of said subject, why in all hell would a clothing company want something to last longer than a few seasons?  You are better off finding things that look good on you and wearing them come hell or high water, fads be damned, because that so-called evergreen style piece does not exist.

So, what are some things that are worth paying more for?

Thus far, The Frugal Hostess has come up with the following list.

- Local, organic produce.  It's actually not more expensive dollar-wise to buy local organics, but it usually takes more time because you have to source it.

- Non-C A F O meat.  Seriously.  If you won't pay more for it, you don't deserve to swallow a life.  Sorry.

- Fair trade coffee.  You're gonna drink coffee every day, and it's one of the largest cash crops in the known universe*, so make it fair.  (*Statistics provided by www.itotallymadethatup.com and www.pulledoutofmyass.net.)

- Front row seats for your favorite performer.  Which better be Paul Simon.  Just kidding.  Maybe.

- Pet food.  Does that sound so yuppie-ish?  TFH and FruHubs like to feed their pets organic food made out of meat and other recognizable foods, and if that makes them yuppies, then welcome to the revolution!

- Knives.  Don't know why.  But it's true - they cut better, stay sharp longer, and give you fewer repetitive stress injuries.

- Chocolate.  This assumes that you like your chocolate like you like your women.  Which is to say, brainy, with a touch of wildness in the eyes.  Umm, no.  Dark chocolate improves as the percentage of cacao increases, but that's more expensive.  Make sense?  (Bonus points for fair trade, BTW.)

- Ice cream.  This is FruHubs' contribution.  He believes, and FruHo concurs, that the pricey pints of Ben and Jerry's are a lot better than the gallon drums of imitation vanilla.  One exception?  Publix brand Buckeye Surprise (or something like that).

That's it, as far as The Frugal Hostess is concerned.  What say you?  Can you think of anything else that is better when it costs more?  Leave your ideas in the comments.

The Frugal Hostess is currently running a give-away that no one wants to enter. Because it involves butts.  Please enter the freaking give-away, already.  Thanks.

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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Butt Rub Give-Away

Isn't that pretty?  That bowl holds the ingredients for Fruhubs' special Butt Rub.  For his most amazing pork butt.  He prefers Boudreaux's Butt Paste for his actual butt, and who wouldn't. Look how cute the jar is.  FruHo loves that obnoxious little baby.

OK, so, FruHubs isn't home right now, and The Frugal Hostess doesn't really know what all of those ingredients are.  Put your guess in the comments by 6pm Sunday, and the closest to correct gets a jar of your very own!  (A jar of butt rub, that is; not just an empty jar.  Obviously.  Duh.)

The Frugal Hostess is giving away butt rub.  Sing it from the rooftops!  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, February 2, 2010

DIY BDAY: Calendar Book Extraordinaire

Remember how The Frugal Hostess posted a bunch of DIY Christmas ideas not too long ago?  Really, how could you forget.  It took over her life so much that she nearly opened an Esty store went insane.  There were a few items that she couldn't post, because she was making them for her mom some of the many readers of this blog, and she didn't want to let the cat of the bag. 

Well, the gifts have been given, and the cats have been set free, so here is the latest installment of DIY XMAS, now known as DIY BDAY.

Episode One: Calendar Book

The basic idea of this gift is to create a perpetual calendar that your recipient can use to track all special occasions, plus envelopes for each month to hold cards and stamps.  Pretty easy and really useful.  At least, more useful than most of the crafty crap TFH has given to people in the past heard about.  Here's what you do.

1.5 - 2 inch three-ring binder (These can often be found in the housewares section of a thrift store, if you like to recycle.  They aren't that much cheaper than new, but they do allow you breathe new life into some poor schmuck's corporate budget presentation.)
13 letter sized manilla envelopes (FruHo used these really fancy ones from Paper Source, the greatest paper store in all the land.  But any normal kind would be fine.)
Assorted greeting cards with matching envelopes (If you don't have a bunch of these scattered around your house, stay tuned for some card-making ideas to come.)
Glue stick
Three hole punch (There are two kinds of these, the good kind and the annoying as hell kind.  The former has open ends so a letter-sized envelope will fit in there.  The latter does not.  Jerk.)
Variety of craft paper, stickers, embellishments, etc.
Computer, printer, and paper OR 12 pieces of paper and really neat handwriting

Goals & Objectives (doesn't that sound humorously serious?)

You are making a binder with one envelope for each month, plus an extra envelope for stamps, etc.  On the front of each envelope, you'll paste a perpetual calendar of important dates and a cool label that indicates the month.  Inside the envelope, you'll put the blank greeting cards.

1.  Punch holes in your envelopes.
2.  Either: Create a calendar page for each month on your computer and print it out.  Or: Using your stellar handwriting, write out a calendar page for each month.  Whatever the case, list all of your recipient's important dates - birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, etc.  Don't include the days of week so that this calendar can be used year after year, but do leave blank spaces for adding new dates.  What?  You might have a baby, right?
3.  Use the glue stick to affix the page to the envelope.  TFH recommends that your calendar be two-thirds of a page, so you have room to make a creative label for the month.  (You can email her at frugalhostess@gmail.com if you'd like a MS Word template.)

4.  Make a label for each month of the year.  Try to use paper that makes sense, but don't go out and buy a bunch of new stuff.  If you don't have a storehouse of craft paper (FruHo? is totally guilty), try your kid's construction paper, magazine cut-outs, or all of those cards you got, saved, and don't know what to do with.  The point is to make something fun, not something that could be featured in Martha Stewart Living.  (Although, Martha?  The Frugal Hostess is free for any article features you'd like to run.  Just sayin'.)

5.  Affix said month label to the appropriate envelope, fill it with the necessary cards, and then stuff a few extra cards and a book of stamps into the 13th envelope.
6.  Last, make a cover to slip into the binder's plastic sleeve.  No need to be as boring as TFH was (hers said "Birthday Book" in plain type - it totally sucked.).  Make it cool.  You know what to do.

The Frugal Hostess just wants to make sure you understand what those Amazon affiliate links are up there (the Paper Source links ain't affiliates).  If you don't, please comment.  Even if you do, please comment. La la love ya, don't mean maybe.

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