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Monday, November 28, 2011

My Cyber Monday Shopping

Well, I succumbed to two cyber Monday tempations: two wearever tank tops from J Jill (which came to $15 bucks a piece) and two black mock turtlenecks from Lands End for Mr FS ($9 bucks each). Free shipping, of course.

Honestly, does it not seem that clothing is too cheap?

What if we were like Germany, with few and strictly regulated sales?

I know for sure that I'd have a lot less stuff.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

One More Good Deal

Garnet Hill: 40% off clearance items PLUS free shipping.

BLACK FRIDAY SALE: TAKE AN EXTRA 40% OFF ALL ITEMS on SALE & CLEARANCE --- and FREE SHIPPING! Use code H1W235B at checkout. Hurry in for the best selection and get your gifts done early!

I think this is valid through Monday.

AMEX Small Business Saturday: $25 Credit

If you registered your card, today is the day to use it. We're off to buy some wine at the little store down the road.

Friday, November 25, 2011

More Specials I Will not Avail Myself Of: Black Friday and Beyond

No way will I enter a store today! However, several stores entered my email with some tempting offers. I really don't need anything right now, but maybe you do.

Cuddledown: luxe linens. One day, I will get linen sheets. Today, 25% off EVERYTHING. I suppose that includes the furniture?

Ballard Designs: decor. I've bought two things from this company, burlap curtains on supersale last year and some Olivia tables, which are on sale right now. 10% off everything (except Bring Home Ballard, which includes my tables) PLUS FREE SHIPPING. This last is a real deal (over $50 for the free ship)!

LL Bean: preppy stuff. 10% off (15% if you have their Visa) plus FREE shipping (which they always have) plus a $10 gift card if you spend $50plus. The last is good till December 24; the first for a few days.

Lands End: LLB wannabe. Now it's 30% off sitewide, plus free shipping. These offers have become so commonplace as to be ho hum. I mean, ho ho ho.

Mr FS was planning to go to Lowes to buy a router for woodworking. He didn't know it was Black Friday. I talked him out of going to the store.

I asked Frugal Son via on-line chat what he wanted for the holidays and he said "Dunno. Meh."
Miss Em wants a camera.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

CHEAP Decor from Cote de Texas

Now that I'm trying to improve my living space, I've discovered some of the cheap chic blogs. Of course, what these bloggers present as cheap and what I think of as cheap are often different. There are so many opportunities for inspiration--not to mention procrastination.

The other day, singlemomrichmom--a blogger whose posts I look forward to--was ruminating on the very subject of decor, wondering if she'd have to buy a bunch of junk--I mean, stuff--and hire someone to arrange it artfully. I can relate. I have lots of stuff, but I am a poor arranger.

Then I noticed a post from the uber-blog cotedetexas, a proponent of white slipcovers, European furniture, and seagrass rugs. Most of her posts feature places waaaaaaaayyyyyy beyond my ken. Recently, though, she discussed her daughter's college apartment. This apartment features a white slipcovered sofa from Ikea (the famous Ektorp) with the matching ottoman used as a coffee table. There is a sunburst mirror (available at many price points) over the sofa--and that's about it.

It's a mighty good looking space in and of itself. And, unlike many such spaces, it's frugality itself!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Cheap Gifts for Your College Student, Adult Child, or Yourself: Rice Cooker and Slow Cooker

Far be it from me to promote shopping for something you don't need. I don't need a slow cooker or rice cooker. But many need one or the other or both. In fact, a colleague recently asked me to pick her up one at the thrift store. I told her that thrift stores sell those appliances for basically the same price they cost new.

So, no, I am not going to link to the famous on-line retailer. Instead, you will have to go to Target. There they have a 3 quart slow cooker for $10 and a 6 cup rice cooker for the same. Note that the slow cooker is smallish (mine is 4 or 5 quarts) and the rice cooker is a medium size. Still, you can cook at least half a pound of dried beans in that slow cooker. And make enough rice for a few meals.

For $20, you can get both! That leaves enough money to buy some provisions, for which your recipient--starving student or regular person--would, no doubt, be grateful.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Gifts for Teachers: FRUGAL Gifts for Teachers, that is

My second re-posting of this "classic."

Since this is the season of TEACHER GIFTS, I'm taking the liberty of reposting an oldie (but I think still goodie).

No, I'm not going to recommend that you buy a mug with an apple on it. Or a mug that says A+ Teacher. These are to be found at any Dollar Store.

There are also scores of such mugs, along with similarly emblazoned teacher gift items, at any thrift shop. Do not burden your child's teacher with these; your teacher has already donated last year's gifts. Since my definition of frugality involves getting the most from the resources of time and money, even $1.00 mugs are not frugal, since every teacher is given scads of these, every year.

Frugal Son had a wonderful teacher in grade school. Mr. Callahan was so gifted at classroom management that his class was filled with a large percentage of kids with behavior problems. At assemblies, I would watch with awe as he, with only a small gesture, would quiet down a kid about to go out of control. Mr. Callahan was also an artist, and retired in his 40s to pursue that full-time. He disappeared from our purview after Katrina. If you see him, say hi.

Mr. Callahan also had a gift for gifts. He told his class that he didn't really need anything. So no gifts were necessary. This in itself was thoughtful, since more than half the children at the grade school received free or reduced lunch. But, he said, if their parents HAD to buy him something, they should mention that he didn't need any coffee mugs. He already had a lot. Oh, and he needed socks, calf-height, size 10 and always appreciated coffee beans.

What a wonderful gift to us. Frugal Son and I spent perhaps an hour at the local coffee shop deciding what kind of coffee beans to purchase. There were so many choices: Colombian, Tanzanian, Ethiopian, and more. We picked two half pounds because we couldn't decide on one kind.

At the year end party, Mr. Callahan opened his gifts. He got a lot of coffee and a few pairs of socks. Then he opened a box and out came a mug. Grade school kids don't have the "politeness" of adults. One child blurted out, "You said you didn't want any coffee mugs." Without missing a beat, Mr. Callahan replied, "I wasn't talking about THIS mug. This is the exact one I wanted."

Many thanks, Mr. Callahan. The lesson here for recipients: if possible, indicate what it is you want. For givers, consumable gifts (who wouldn't want coffee? or tea? or a gift card?). We often gave teachers bouquets from our garden. These were always well-received. The best-received gifts: appreciative notes from parents and children.

Dear Readers: what are your best gifts for teachers?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Special Offers I Will Not Avail Myself Of

But maybe you want to:

Garnet Hill has $20 off $100 on full price merch.
Savings alert! Now through Monday, SAVE $20 when you spend $100! It’s the perfect time to grab gifts, or that special something you’ve been eyeing. Use code H1W158B at checkout to SAVE!

*$20 Off $100 offer is valid through November 14, 2011. Offer applies to full-price merchandise total on orders shipping to a single address and does not include the purchase of Gift Cards, g...

Then, Lands End has 25% off everything and free shipping over $50. Remember, you can return to Sears.

LL Bean has 10% off everything through Sunday night.

Then, Ballard Designs has a 15% off code. Email if you want it.

I myself don't need anything at the moment. What a wonderful feeling of (over)abundance.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Freebie for American Express Card Holders: Small Business Saturday

This seems to be too good to be true, but it IS true. American Express is running its second Small Business Saturday on 11/26. You have to register your card (with Amex); Amex sends you a confirmation, and then you spend $25 or more at a SMALL BUSINESS on 11/26 and receive a $25.00 statement credit.

Naturally, I'm going to spend my $25.00 at the little grocery and wine store that is a short walk away.

Hope this info is useful to someone.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Credit Card Relief: A Frugal Mantra

So many tempting offers are coming my way: on-line sales, catalogs from the few places where I've bought things over the last year, and so on.



THAT's around 50 DAYS





How do you keep yourself from succumbing to temptation?

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Wedding Bell Blues: A Modest (Frugal!) Proposal Instead of a Wedding

A colleague told me that a friend of his just received a directive from her future daughter-in-law: Buy a blue dress for the wedding. This is probably normal, right? People want color-coordinated pictures, I suppose.

As the veteran of a $30.00 wedding (all inclusive), I am obviously not the most wedding-centric person. I was discussing the blue dress request with Miss Em when she was home a few weeks ago. She already knows I hate big parties and could not perform as expected at a wedding. So I figured that she was also aware of what would next come out of my mouth.

Instead of a wedding, I wish more people would take the money and go on a trip. We would give you $5000 or $10,000 for a trip if you didn't have a wedding.

Well, her eyes bugged out! She had no idea.

You could take two trips with that money!

Am I heartless?

Friday, November 4, 2011

Iconic Fashion

As it happens, I am an ICON. Yes, on Halloween, one of my students came to school dressed as---me. She was wearing a long cardi, a long tank, skinny jeans, a scarf and ballet flats. The pièce de résistance: glasses on a chain. Before I realized what she was doing, I told her she looked nice. I guess I like how I dress!

Sadly, I was disappointment to her that day: I had to go to a post-funeral service at the home of an acquaintance. Therefore, I did not wear my usual garb. With my usual jeans, I wore two thrifted iconic pieces: a black St John knit jacket and my Feux de Route Hermes scarf (I'm almost certain it's not a fake). Well! Many compliments at the informal service, delivered mainly to Mr. FS. He said, "I've never seen before the power of an accessory." Yes, he said it.

Have you ever caused a minor sensation with an iconic item?

Thursday, November 3, 2011

A Plethora of Onions

A while ago, Funny About Money wrote of near-apoplexy at the sight of a $1.00 onion at the grocery. Even though she had gone to the grocery expressly for the onion, the price so shocked her that she left---onion-less. Most of us frugalistas have done similar silly things: after all, a dollar won't kill you, plus you wasted that money on gas, plus you wasted your precious time. I know I've had price freak-outs myself.

So imagine my delight when the most recent ad for Piggly-Wiggly featured 3 pounds of onions for a mere dollar. How I wish I could pass that price on to Funny! The great thing is that a new Piggly-Wiggly opened right on our commuting route. I check the ad every Wednesday and stop off to get whatever is good. Mr FS snoozes on the car for the 15 minutes it takes.

Now I am the owner of 9 pounds of onions. Needless to say, these will not last forever. Here's what we do: we roughly chop 3 pounds and put them in the slow cooker with a bit of oil. For a long time. This results in an approximation of caramelized onions. We freeze the resulting much=reduced onions in a zip-lock.

I've written about this before. The best part is how much time it saves. The money is actually merely a nice bonus. What percentage of recipes start: "Chop and saute an onion"? 50% at least. Then you have to wash your cutting board, knife, pot, and hands.

So, once I have my frozen treasure, I might break off a chunk and throw it into a pot of potatoes. Add a little stock (or not), simmer, and puree when soft with your stick blender. Add some butter. Dinner is ready!

Oh, you need more veggies? Throw some chopped spinach into the pot.

Think of all the recipes you could use this for. Do you have any tricks like this?