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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

A Gift from Alaska to Serbia: Thanks, Donna

Everyone knows that gifts are as wonderful to give as to receive. Miss Em, dear daughter, will be far away in Serbia (mostly Novi Paar) till at least  June. She is under the watchful eye of the Fulbright Program, but still...

She is a teaching assistant of English--and a bit embarrassed to be called Professor by one and all. She has been the recipient of much generosity, in a poor country (by US standards) where even highly skilled professionals (like doctors) cannot find employment.

Since I love to find stuff for people, I have been on high alert. I wrote about the gifts of a non-stick pan (about $70 in Serbia!) and Fidji perfume soon going off to their new homes in the suitcase (lent by yours truly) of Mr. C.

Now I'm looking for smaller things. So far, I have acquired Opi nail polish that was at a good price at Big Lots. I will be on the look out for small items from Bath and Body Works, which are coveted by many young women. And now: some handmade earrings from Alaska! How cool is that?

Thinking "How cool would that be--something from Alaska for someone in Novi Pazar?," I did something uncharacteristic: I entered a blog contest.  Donna Freedman's contest. Donna wrote a wonderful post several years ago on how one could live on $12,000 a year (or around that sum) and--NEWSFLASH--be happy. I can't seem to find that post anywhere, so instead will link to her current blog, which is the repository of much wisdom.

Must be karma. Thanks again Donna.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Baking Sweet Potatoes and Peppers to Keep Warm

I am sure our hardwired frugal efforts will elicit either chuckles or exasperated eye rolls. After all, Mr FS and I are getting close to normal retirement age and we retained our jobs while witnessing the elimination of a few programs. We have not gotten raises in many years, but still, we are more than OK.

So tell me, why did I balk this morning when Mr FS--usually the more stoical member of our household--suggested we turn up the heat? It is warmer outside than inside. We could not simply open windows, because it is very humid out there.

Mr FS and I were wearing our normal chilly house garb: regular clothes topped off with--for me--a fleece jacket and--for Mr FS--a down vest. Isn't this what everyone wears indoors?

Finally, I hit upon a solution: baking the cheap sweet potatoes and reduced for quick sale bell peppers we had. I can't even figure out how many levels of frugality this is. We didn't turn on the heat. Turning on the oven heated the house, WHILE cooking--and thereby prolonging the lifespan of--cheap for Thanksgiving sweet potatoes and a lovely melange of orange and red bell peppers reduced to around 30 cents a piece.

Why do I even think about such things? I COULD be reading Proust. Actually, I AM reading Proust, having finally, after many failed efforts, made it to the middle of the third volume. However, I can only read a few pages a day, before mental fatigue sets in. But frugality--either hardwired or habitual--produces no such fatigue for me.

Also, I am reminded of Amy D. of Tightwad fame. She considered the question of whether one can be too frugal. As she considered her darned sock--even though she could darn well buy a new sock--she realized that the darned sock made her happy. She opined that asking whether one could be too frugal was akin to asking whether one could be too happy.

How's this for an incongruous duo?

Friday, December 13, 2013

Another Good Deal I'm Not Partaking Of: Garnet Hill Cashmere 50% Off

You can save money by NOT buying things or you can save money by getting something you want/need/would have bought anyway at a good--or at least better--price. I only shop at a few stores, all of which offer no-questions-asked guarantees. I also get the occasional email from these shops.

So many temptations! But I figure I might as well pass this info along. Garnet Hill is having a 40-50% off cashmere sale over the weekend. My family is already awash in cashmere, but I can see getting someone some cashmere socks or a scarf. These would be presents someone would probably be happy to receive.

But what do I know? I'm pretty bad at gifts.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

LL Bean Totes: Iconic and On Sale, Today Only

I'm not going to buy these. I have a few already. Anyway, the news is that the ICONIC LL Bean boat tote is 25% off, TODAY ONLY. This is the kind of thing that seldom goes on sale and that anyone would be happy to receive. Even me.

They ARE iconic. How many iconic items can be had so inexpensively? Even more so on sale! How many items are preppy and edgy, depending on the person carrying it?

One hardly needs to enumerate uses for heavy duty tote bags. Here's one that I love that you may not have seen. Famous stylist Peri Wolfman (one of those people who has shelves with white bowls in graduated sizes) uses the medium size as a portable file tote. She gets one for each project. You can even get them monogrammed.

Here's the cover of one of Peri's books. This is not the book for someone who needs help with clutter or organizing. This is for the person whose home ALREADY looks like a Williams-Sonoma display.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Holiday Shopping: DONE!

It's easy for me to say. I am a noted holiday- and gift-scoffer. Not totally, of course. I just hate that holidays have been hijacked by the marketers. I am getting Mr FS the same thing he is getting me: nothing. Actually, he has promised to buy and install my heart's desire: a new toilet. I will keep you posted on this momentous event.

Miss Em wants nothing at the moment. She is in Serbia till July. It has been a transformational experience in many ways and she knows she can always decide on a gift (which may or may not be material) when she returns.

As for Frugal Son: we did NOT get him what he requested (NOTHING). No, we followed the tradition that we developed over the years, in which gifts could be from thrift stores or grocery stores. The task of amassing such gifts has always fallen to me, since Mr FS has an aversion to stores.

Here is the Frugal Son list, all from thrifts and the library book sale:
--a NEW maple cutting board with his initial on it (Very exciting, but I would have bought it even if it had the wrong initial.)
--a wonderful book by David Mitchell
--NEW LL Bean Storm Chaser boots (can't believe someone donated these)
--the BEST: George Plimpton's book on fireworks*
--a TSE black cashmere cardigan (probably the most "valuable" in terms of original cost)

AND--A CHECK--amount not yet determined

*The George Plimpton book on fireworks is a treasure. Frugal Son used to check it out of the public library every few months. The head librarian told him that he was probably responsible for keeping it from being de-accessioned. Then he grew up, went away, and stopped using our local library. Amazingly, I dropped in at the Library Book Sale a few months ago and flipped through a single box. AND THERE IT WAS. How's that for karma?

We all love David Mitchell.

And this is the beloved "blast from the past."

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Garnet Hill 40% Off Clothing, Shoes, Accessories 2 days

Lots of temptations have been coming my way of late. The latest: Garnet Hill, a favorite catalog since the late 1970s, when I would moon over the natural fibers that I could not imagine EVER being able to afford, so accustomed was I to my meager grad student stipend.  Nowadays natural fibers are not difficult to find, nor am I a poor student unsure of the future. I still like the GH aesthetic.

So this is what popped into my inbox: for 2 days, all women's clothing, shoes, and accessories 40% off. GH has a great guarantee, by the way. And a nice selection of Eileen Fisher.

I have to admit: I succumbed. It's something that's been on my wishlist for several years.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Paula's Choice Serums on Sale: $10 for You, $10 for Me

Sorry, yet another pitch from the one brand of skincare I am besotted with: Paula's choice. She must have read my post, because she put the serums on sale at 20% off. If you sign up through the the link, you get $10 off and so do I.

Also, usually you get free shipping on a $50 purchase, but at the moment, you get free shipping on any order. So you can buy a single item at $10 off, get free shipping, and also get Paula's money-back guarantee.

I'm ordering a serum right now. Thanks to the one reader who ordered!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

When is it "Worth It" to Save Money??

As a frugal bargain-hunting type, I take note of opportunities. Some, I'm too lazy to partake of; others--like coupons--make my head spin. Other opportunities--like the 30% off one book at Amazon that I posted on yesterday--take no time at all.

Today another Amazon deal passed across my purview: if you link your Twitter account with your American Express card and spend $75 at Amazon, you get a $25 statement credit. Go to American Express's facebook page to see for yourself.

It just so happens we want to buy something that costs $80 on Amazon (see below--another exciting holiday purchase). We don't have a twitter account. We do have an American Express card. Should we do it?

As often with these quandaries, I emailed Frugal Son and asked him. Now I'm asking you.  (Hmmmm. The item we want has gone down in price, perhaps for Cyber Monday??)