Friday, December 30, 2011

Top Posts of 2011

Four Lads Greatest Hits
Lots of folks around the blogosphere are running their "greatest hits" posts over the holidays, which The Frugal Hostess has really enjoyed.  It's always interesting to take a look back over the year, and there have been several posts TFH would've missed otherwise.

This gave FruHo the idea to do the same thing here.  So, without further ado, here are the top three posts of 2011!

1.  Slow Carb Recipes that Tim Ferriss Would Like.  FruHo went on the 4 Hour Body/Slow Carb Diet in early 2011, and FruHubs came up with some really great recipes for beans.  Being an adoring wife, TFH took full credit for those recipes in a blog post that she then titled in the most blog traffic-whorish way possible.  So, you know, just ignore this post, unless you're looking for bean recipes.

2.  Do You Know About This?  This post is about one of the year's best developments, Birchbox.  If you like makeup, beauty products, and/or mail, you will like this.

3.  The Ultimate FruHo Guide to Houseguests.  Oooh, this should have been re-posted before the holidays.  It's good advice.

While this one didn't have quite as much traffic as the other three, it was definitely The Frugal Hostess's favorite post of the year.  Please enjoy, "FruDiddy and the Lost Bread."

Happy New Year's Eve Eve!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Gift Idea: Book for Hostesses

The small linen closet
Someone else's mess
Does your husband having a cleaning disease where he can't see any of his own mess and clutter until one day he snaps and throws away 15 cookbooks?

Neither does FruHubs.


OK, so FruHubs is totally oblivious to things like his four pairs of shoes and dirty socks and paint-covered khaki shorts strewn all across the bedroom.  But let one magazine rest on the coffee table too long and, POW!  He turns into the Incredible Hulk of cleaning.

Which is how The Frugal Hostess found him tonight. 

SLAM!  Junk mail vanquished.
POP!  Christmas wrapping paper hidden.  Possibly forever.
CRASH!  Clean laundry stuffed into a basket and whisked away.

And before you say that FruHo is lucky and crazy to complain, please note that this happens once every two months, maybe.  Perhaps quarterly.

But when it does, boy....

This is why The Frugal Hostess finds herself in a hot rush to read and write about a new cookbook she received.  If she doesn't watch her ass, that cookbook will be swept away into the recycling bin in ten seconds flat.  The book is 750 Best Appetizers*, by Judith Finlayson and Jordan Wagman, and TFH was sent a free copy to review.

Here are the pros:
1.  Paperback and thus less of a pain to deal with in the kitchen.
2.  A truly exhaustive list of all kinds of appetizers, including sweets, soups, and homemade parsnip chips.
3.  Some lovely pictures of prepared recipes.

And the con:
The point of this post is to sell you this book.
1.  Only some pictures.  Like, maybe 20 of the 750+ items in the book.  Despite being a very verbal girl - FruHo prefers reading blog posts to watching their accompanying videos, for example - cookbooks are one place where pictures are a must.  How in the world can you possibly cook something without seeing a picture of what it's supposed to look like?  Especially when the dishes are appetizers and hors d' oeuvres, often marvels of construction.  TFH is sure that the authors wish the book had more pictures, too.

In all, this is a great resource to have in your library, especially if you love to have parties.  Just expect to have to use your imagination.

750 Best Appetizers* by Judith Finlayson and Jordan Wagman is selling right now for $16.47 on Amazon.  It would make a great gift for your favorite hostess.

*Affiliate links.  See Disclosure page for complete details on how that works.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

What to Do if You Discover Mouse Poop in Your Kitchen

The Frugal Hostess hates you, mouse.
What to do if you discover mouse poop in your kitchen:

Feel faint.  Almost faint, even if you've never fainted before.

Call your husband.


Slam a beer.

Cry harder.

Go in another room.  Slam second beer.

Contemplate suicide.

Contemplate getting in your car and driving away forever.


Clean it up in a frenzy only matched in it's rage-fueled fervor by your mother's after the Sleep Away Camp Lice Incident of 1988.  Bleach everything.

Bleach yourself.


The end.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

What Crazy People Do with Bottle Caps

Do you watch Hoarders? It's so creepy and sad, right? The hoarders always have traumatic experiences that fuel their need to keep everything, and their belongings seem to be attached to their nerve endings with invisible threads, causing physical pain when removed.

Well, The Frugal Hostess has a secret.  She is a junior hoarder.  TFH hoards the following items:

- Back issues of Martha Stewart Living.
- Evening bags.
- Craft supplies.
- Bottle caps.

Everything on that list is pretty normal.  Well, maybe except the bottle caps.  So she decided to make something out of them to PROVE that there was a good reason to save them.  There is an ugly electrical panel in the kitchen that is too big to be covered with a painting, so this happened instead.

Here is a tiny fraction of the hoard.
Here are the bottle caps sorted by color.

TFH taped out the size of the "mosaic" on the coffee table to lay out the design.  Pro Tip: don't do this.  Masking tape is a pain to clean off.

It was supposed to be water with a little island, a palm tree, and sky with a bright sun.

See, this is the palm tree and the sun.  Yeah, FruHo thought it was dumb, too.

So, after she glued magnets to the back of almost 500 bottle caps, she changed the design to be a more abstract rainbow-type thing.

Here's a close up.  Cool, right?
FruHubs was surprisingly not too furious with the whole thing, although he did whine a bit about having caps from embarrassing beers up there (looking at you, Bud Light and Leinenkugel).  Some caps have since been changed out to protect his beer snob rep.

If you should ever decide to do this yourself, here are a few notes.

1.  Order your magnets online; they are SIGNIFICANTLY cheaper that way.
2.  Don't expect the glue to stick forever.  FruGo used the famous Aleene's Tacky Glue, and several magnets have come unglued.  They still stick to the metal panel, though, because that's how magnets work.  Hello.
3.  If you make a rainbow like the one above, use complete rows of one color rather than having the colors flow into each other mid-row.  It looks much better (and this one has since been altered accordingly).
4.  Beer?  Gives you back so much.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Not Getting Killed in Louisville, GA

On route to an appointment....with death.
What would you do if a man you hadn't seen in 15 years suggested via Facebook that you meet in a mysterious southeast Georgia town not easily reached by any major highways? 

Go, obviously.  Right? 

Well, you would if you were The Frugal Hostess.

Just to clarify, the guy, Ireland's Dad, is an old friend and a current Facebook favorite, and he was traveling up to attend his brothers' art show.  The Frugal Hostess and her loyal swain, FruHubs, decided to go in part because they found out about an unusual bed and breakfast where they could stay.  And in part because they wanted to temp fate (and serial killers).

The art was great, and the catching up was lovely.  But the best part was that no one got killed.

The living room of the cottage.  Just add Bulleit.
The other best part was the Old Town Plantation Bed and Breakfast.  Located in a rural, wooded area of Louisville (with an S), Georgia, the plantation is really a plantation.  Like from back in the day.  And they still work it.  At least, there were a lot of cows and equipment.

It sits on 4,100 acres along a river and was originally stolen from the Indians settled by white people in the early 1700s.  It got burned to the ground during Sherman's March to the Sea, and then it was rebuilt from 1895 to 1910. 

TFH and Hubs had one of the two cottages on the property, which are beautifully decorated, huge, and cheap.  Seriously, this was one of the best experiences of their frequent hotel guest lives.  Breakfast was all set up in the kitchen, and the fireplace was ready to be lit.  After a night of art, bourbon, and the Old South, a blazing fire put them right to sleep.

The next morning, they took to the property, hiking down a long and windy road - perfect for murder.  Thankfully, the killers were at brunch, so FruHo and -Hubs got their kicks from fording a river - which was totally worth it!  On the other side, they found an abandoned grist mill and mill workers' quarters, just sitting there waiting to be explored.  So.  Freakin'.  Cool.

Where the magic happens.  Magic = sleep, pervs.
They also saw some deer hauling ass away from them (and probably into the sights of the hunters heard shooting across the property).  There were old bridges and a brick structure that FruHubs insists was an aquaduct.  (Really, FruHubs?  This isn't a Roman plantation.  Geez.)  They even found an old spoon.

If you are looking for a getaway that makes you feel like you are living in Garden and Gun magazine, book a cottage at Old Town Plantation.  And stay tuned for more stories of not getting killed in Louisville soon.

Disclosure: The Frugal Hostess has nothing to disclose except this place was awesome!  In other words, this is not a sponsored post, and Old Town Plantation has no idea she loves them so much.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Christmas DIY Tutorial Round-Up

Here are all of the Christmas DIY tutorials that The Frugal Hostess has created over the last three years.  Fresh posts are coming soon, but please enjoy these in the meantime!
Christmas 1

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Bright Red Appetizer for Christmas

Use these.
The Frugal Hostess loves tomatoes.  In fact, she loves them so much that she refuses to insult them by eating the pinkish, mealy, hard, and flavorless imposters that present themselves as tomatoes in the grocery store this time of year.

Seriously, y'all.  Do not eat a freakin' tomato in December.  Guh-ross.

That is, unless you're eating dried tomatoes.  In that case, you are allowed.

Here's a great recipe that uses dried tomatoes to make an appetizer that would be perfect for Christmas due to its festive bright-ass red color.  Instead of having other people over, FruHo recommends that you make this, put it on a plate, and eat it all by yourself while you wrap your Christmas presents.  You totally deserve it.  Throw in a bottle of pinot noir while you're at it; you only live once.  

1 wheel of Brie
1 jar of Bella Sun Luci Sun Dried Tomatoes 

1.  Bake the Brie at 350 for 10-15 minutes.
2.  Put the jar of tomatoes on top.
3.  Seriously, that is it.
4.  Quit trying to make this harder than it really is.

Bella Sun Luci makes a julienne-cut version with Italian herbs that is perfect for this.  And they sent TFH one for free.  Along with several of their other - AWESOME - products.  (As you may remember, FruHo declared blog-ruptcy a while back.  It is undeclared for these products.  They are just so consistently delicious and convenient to have around the house that she can't help but sing it from the roof tops.)


Monday, November 28, 2011

Winter Drinks

The Frugal Hostess loves classic cocktails.  She's been collecting cocktail shakers and other bar ware since before she was old enough to drink, and 1920s cocktail culture has always been a lure.

Now that she's older and wiser, FruHo no longer knocks back seven gin gimlets and a pack of Camel Lights on a Saturday night, but she can still appreciate a good cocktail every now and then.  Here are a few variations on familiar classics that TFH whipped up in honor of the (totally not going to happen) forecast of snow.

This drink is a take-off on the traditional Old-Fashioned, but calling a New Fashioned made The Frugal Hostess want to scream.  Bourbon and rum in one drink is kind of crazy, kind of cool, so the cocktail is called "Winter Cruise to Jamaica."

Winter Cruise to Jamaica

1 oz bourbon
1 oz golden rum
.5 oz apple cider
2 teaspoons agave syrup
Dash bitters
Slice of apple for garnish


1. Combine liquors, apple cider, agave syrup, and bitters in a shaker with two ice cubes.
2. Prepare glass by filling with crushed ice and situating apple slice.
3. Shake liquids to combine and pour over ice.
Next is a variation on the Brandy Crusta, which is one of The Frugal Hostess's favorite drinks of all time.  Because winter often brings crustiness with it, this one's called the "Brandy Crusta-Fighter."  So gross-sounding, but so delicious-tasting.

Brandy Crusta-Fighter

1.5 oz brandy
.25 oz orange liqueur
.25 oz sweet vermouth
.25 oz lemon juice
Sugar for glass rim


1. Combine brandy, orange liqueur, sweet vermouth, and lemon juice with crushed ice in shaker.
2. Prepare glass by running discarded lemon wedge around rim and dipping in sugar.
3. Shake and pour.
4. Variations:
-    Maraschino liqueur is typically used instead of vermouth. 
-    Applejack is a nice substitute for brandy.
-    Turbinado sugar makes a nicely textured rim.
-    A sprinkle of nutmeg makes this drink very wintery.
The final drink was prepared tonight to help keep FruHubs happy as he rides out the worst cold ever.  It was whipped up on the fly, so there's no picture, but it is called the "Please Stop Snoring Hot Toddy."  It will help FruHubs endure the relentless punching and kicking that TFH will be dishing out tonight while he snores sleeps.

1 oz applejack
1 oz bourbon
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 lemon
3 oz boiling water
3-4 whole cloves
Ground nutmeg


1. Cover the bottom of a mug with honey.
2. Add cloves and lemon juice.
3. Pour 2 oz. of water over honey and cloves.
4. Add liquor; stir, melting honey.
5. Sprinkle with nutmeg.

Sweet dreams. Download the recipes here.  See other drinks from The Frugal Hostess here and here (and here, for summer).

A note on brands: FruHo highly recommends Bulleit Bourbon, Carpano Punt e Mes vermouth, and Appleton Golden Rum for these recipes.  These brands are unaware of her affection and have thus not sponsored this post.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Dear Plastic Surgeon: Shut Up

Take me and break me Here's something bleeped up that The Frugal Hostess received: a press release that contains a purported mathematical formula for beauty.  There are so many things wrong with this that she can barely begin to count them.

It says, "Designed with you in mind, Dr. Francis Palmer, a Beverly Hills plastic surgeon, created The Palmer Code. His code allows us to understand, through scientific methods, what is considered truly beautiful and attractive. Palmer breaks down the factors of beauty into a numbers game." [Emphasis added because, really?  Really?  "Science"???  Screw you, Francis Palmer.]

Here's la formula:

Your face represents 50% of your overall appearance.
  • The softer lines of an oval or heart shaped face are preferable for women.
  • Ideal eyes are well defined and free of extra skin or fatty tissue. Eyes are also the first to show signs of aging.
  • The nose should have a 140 degree angle between the nasal bridge and the forehead.  It should be sleek and unobserved, drawing attention to the eyes, lips and cheeks.
  • Lips are also crucial for women, and are most appealing when the top lip is 75% of the size of the lower lip. A full pout is most attractive.
The structure of your body equates to 30% of your physical features.
  • The most important part of your overall physical appearance is your upper-to-lower body ratio. Women should have an upper body (40%) to lower body (60%) average. This reflects a body with longer legs.
  • For those with larger upper body ratios, you can lower this percentage by simply tucking in your shirt and adding a belt, or even wearing a pair of high heels to give the look of a smaller/shorter upper body. Hair waisted pants, dark colors also give a lengthening look.
Skin is approximately 10% of your whole outer self.
  • Skin cancer is the fastest growing cancer in the U.S.
  • To keep your skin healthy, and to avoid pollutants and free radicals from causing serious damage, apply a UVA/UVB SPF 30+ sun tan lotion daily
Your hair is worth 10% of your whole look.
  • Getting bangs is an easy fix for any facial imperfections like a high forehead, full eyelids, wrinkled forehead, less-than-ideal eyebrows.
  • Bangs will frame your eyes and cheeks while hiding your less attractive features.

What kind of fucked up science is this?  The implication is, of course, that if you don't fit within this formula, you should make an appointment with a plastic surgeon to correct your deficiencies.

Ladies, please ignore this nonsense.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Strength of an Idea

The Frugal Hostess does not pretend to be a journalist, and she is in no way objective.

Around 1:00am on Monday, November 15, the City of New York began clearing Liberty Square to dismantle the Occupation of Wall Street. 

Clearing the park under cover of darkness and arresting six or seven credentialed journalists, along with up to 200 peaceful protestors, was a brilliant way to re-energize this movement.  (And trashing the belongings of all of those people and carting it away to the dump was a great idea for reinforcing the idea that private property is sacrosanct.)

“No army can withstand the strength of an idea whose time has come.” - Victor Hugo