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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Does anyone out there know about copper cookware?

About a week ago, when I asked Frugal Son what he wanted for a present, he--as usual--replied "Nothing." What is this, King Lear?

A few minutes later, he said, "One day I'd like some copper pots." He IS the best cook in our cooking family, slightly outpacing Miss Em (who is best at  attractive "plating") and far outpacing me (and I'm pretty good, though prone to too many shortcuts). Little does he know how expensive copper pots are.

I always like a project, so I began to do research. My head started spinning and not just at the steep cost.

Could anyone provide a sort of Sparknotes to copper cookware? Does one go for the traditional tin lining or the sturdier stainless steel? What would be the best pot to start with? Is it worth it to shlep it back from France? That would give me an excuse to enter the famed E Dehillerin shop in Paris. As with Hermes, I've always been too timid to do anything other than peer at--and in--the windows.

Even though I am a well-known cheapwad, I rather like the idea of getting him one piece a year. After a few years, he would have a nice set.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

A Very Good Deal from Paula's Choice

OK. Another creme de la creme deal. Spend $65 and you get a free eyeshadow palette (supposedly worth $40). You also can get 20% off on her retinol products. Free shipping on everything.

Miss Em wants the palette, so I may splurge on the retinol serums for myself.

This is my one "advertisement." If you are a new customer and you click through my link, you get $10 off and I get a $10 credit. If you are already a customer, this is still a good deal.

I am always skeptical about "beauty' claims, but I have found all of Paula's products to be excellent. I have never availed myself of her money back guarantee, but she has one.

"While supplies last."

Monday, December 15, 2014

Is John Rosselli Watching Over Me?

Yesterday, I recounted how cheered I was by the advice of high-end decor maven John Rosselli. The advice: simply cover your shabby sofa with some fabric. Who am I to argue with a luminary?

Well, I took a trip back to the thrift store to check on delivery of my sofa (not till next week). While I was there, I looked around. I saw a big white lump. It was labeled "king size comforter cover $5.00." It felt like linen. I stuck my head inside and found an Eileen Fisher Home label. I think these are made for Garnet Hill, the fancy catalogue I have mooned over for many, many years. So thrilled was I that I bought it within 5 seconds: it would be the perfect cover for my sofa.  I did not do my usual inspection.

When I got home, I unfurled it and discovered a bunch of holes. UGH. I think the previous owner must have been overzealous with the bleach: linen doesn't like bleach.

I was feeling kind of bad about wasting my money. Then I realized that the previous owner would not have donated it sans holes. I can live with the holes.  They don't really show--and have a certain je ne sais quoi-- and I can have Miss Em do some mending when she returns from Serbia.

Imperfect as it is, I still think this will be the perfect cover for my sofa. I wish I could ask Mr Rosselli if he would use a linen cover with holes. I think he might.

Would you?

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Upscale Designer to the Rescue! Thanks, John Rosselli!

One of my major bad habits involves reading shelter magazines while sitting in my messy house. One enters a pastoral world, an enclosed space that makes, in the words of William Empson, author of Some Versions of Pastoral, "the complex into the simple." Kind of like the characters in Shakespeare's As You Like It trooping into the Forest of Arden, eventually returning to the "real" world to remake it. I guess that means I should clean up after reading a magazine.

I had an idea a while back to clip frugal ideas from these magazines. Of course, most of the frugal ideas aren't very frugal for those of us in the middle class. I did clip one, however.

The featured luminary is John Rosselli, who sells elegant goods in a New York City shop. His idea IS frugal and it pertains precisely to my "sofa issue" recounted in my last post.

Does John Rosselli have new slipcovers made? Does he reupholster? No, he does not.

It’s been years since I’ve recovered a sofa. That’s because I have dogs. I simply wrap chairs and sofa cushions in fabric or in Indian cotton bedspreads. Or buy a sheet that’s the same color as the sofa, wrap it around the cushions, and throw it in the wash when it gets dirty.

THANK YOU, Mr Rosselli. Image from his website. Love the socks!

And thank you, Mr Empson. Image from New Directions website.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Oops, I Did It Again

On the same thrift store foray where I spoke to the smug and loud Chevron volunteers, I bought a sofa. This was not a good idea. I have been resisting well-made but unnecessary sofas for several years, even (and this pains me) a down filled number with the signatures of all who were involved in its construction. You see, I will not need a sofa for around 2 years, when my current one will have reached a sufficiently bedraggled state. 

Then the Food Bank Thrift received a GOOD sofa. upholstered. The sofa had been there for at least a week. No one wanted it. Every time I said I liked it, I was offered a better price. Eventually, the manager said I could have it for $25. I was the only one who had expressed interest.

And free delivery! On that fateful day, I caved. You see, it's a sofa by Sherrill. That is--as far as I can tell--a good brand. Well-made. The fabric has some issues, of course.

I do not consider this a $25.00 sofa. That is because the fabric looks bad in some spots (though mostly hidden ones). Reupholstery or slipcovers=expensive. The couch might end up costing as much as a new one. Still, it would cost FAR LESS than a new sofa of comparable quality. 

Almost thirty years ago, when I taught at a little college in a decimated-by-unemployment small town in Michigan, I saw a chair at a yard sale. It was a quarter. I passed. Later, the wife of a colleague invited me over to see her 25 cent chair. It was, of course, the same one. I asked her how much the upholstery job had cost. $300.00! It makes a better story to refer to it as a 25 cent chair. I just did a search on the colleague and his wife and discovered that they were divorced many years ago. I wonder what became of that chair.

I guess I should stop regarding thrift store trips as rescue missions. Still, check out the beautiful chairs belonging to Frugalshrink, a favorite blogger. I think she got some gorgeous chairs at a good price, even after one takes the upholstery costs into account.

Have you ever "rescued" some unappreciated item?

Friday, December 12, 2014

Class Consciousness at the Thrift Store: Was I Out of Line with the Chevron Peeps?

Between end of the semester stress (still have much grading to do) and the constant temptations of holiday shopping, I needed---surprise--a trip to the thrift store. As is my new wont, I went to the Food Bank Thrift because it is only about a 3 minute drive from my house. It is also the thrift store that attracts the poorest demographic and, indeed, many customers have vouchers from the Food Bank across the street.

The overworked and harried workers! They are understaffed and the donations are piling up inside, outside, everywhere.

Today the workload was--presumably--eased by the presence of three youngish volunteers. They were in the back. As far as I could tell (the door was open), they were engaged in a gab fest and not doing anything else. The subject of the gabfest was how much money they made working for Chevron, how great their retirement  and other benefits were, how it was good to look for romance within the company because women who learned you worked for Chevron would be after your money, and on and on.  Their entitled voices carried through the small store.

How nice of Chevron to let them volunteer at the thrift store during their paid work hours! What wonderful community relations!

Two of the fellows emerged from the back and entered the store. And--I JUST HAD TO SAY SOMETHING. So I put on my teacher voice and said "I think it's really nice that Chevron is sending you here to do volunteer work for the community. But it is insensitive and hurtful to discuss your fabulous salaries and benefits in loud voices that are heard by the customers, many of whom do not shop here by choice."

The two Mr Chevrons looked chastened. I said I wasn't trying to be mean, but to alert them to the fact that they may have been inadvertently insensitive. (Perhaps I was trying to be a LITTLE MEAN.)

Then I left. I wonder what they said after I was out the door.

Was I out of line? What would you do?

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Drycleaning Tags at the Thrift Store: A Small Town Story

It's that time of year. As a teacher, I am inundated with work to grade. At home, I receive zillions of catalogs from places I've never shopped. Oh yeah, and my email inbox is full of tempting offers. I'm only human. I AM tempted.

As always in such situations, I engage in prophylactic shopping. I go to the thrift store. Last week, I went to Goodwill for the first time in a long time. There I looked around and saw nothing, thereby confirming my recently adopted NO GOODWILL policy.

Then I wandered over to the men's section. Mr FS and Frugal Son keep telling me they have enough. Plus, men's clothing is usually in short supply, in bad shape, and of poor quality. Then I saw a little node. In the node were a bunch of Zegna linen shirts in the very size of the two men in my life. So I looked around the men's section and filled up my cart (or buggy, as it's called in these parts).

I sat down with my finds and only kept the very, very best: a few shirts, an unworn cashmere muted plaid blazer, and a few other things. With misgivings, I put the rest back, knowing that I would probably never see another $5.99 Armani suit in the very size of my beloved men. It was not in good shape, alas.

Then I saw a cleaning tag: B Colwell. B Colwell, B Colwell, I mused. Could BC be a doctor? I once purchased a Burberry shirt that had the tag of the oral surgeon where I've dropped so much money. I once saw--but did not purchase owing to bad karma--a men's cashmere sweater with the tag of the dentist who dismissed us from her practice earlier this year. And, of course, all the fancy Italian women's clothing I bought a while back  had the tags of a doctor specializing in breast augmentation and tummy tucks.

Then I remembered who B Colwell is! He is the husband/partner of the woman who founded a retail empire of elegant clothing and furniture in my little town and elsewhere. I think her elegant empire may be down to one furniture store in New Orleans now.

Coincidentally, the local paper ran a story about the elegant couple just the other day. You can scroll through the pics and see their all-white apartment in New Orleans. Their big house has been for sale for a few years. You can buy it!

Thanks Bryan for the donations. I am enough of a bad person to wonder if Vicki donated some of her wardrobe. I didn't see anything. A few years ago, Vicki and her equally beautiful mom Audrey and sister Tricia had a yard sale at the fancy house. It attracted hundreds of mostly women who were willing to pay almost full price for their used garments and furniture. She is a retail genius.

Watching things circulate through a little town....interesting. Peace on earth, GOODWILL TO MEN.