Wednesday, October 26, 2011

6 Ways to Skirt Holiday Debt

Just saw a story with this headline on Yahoo news, so I thought I'd come up with something more succinct. Here's my one tip for avoiding holiday debt:

1. Don't buy stuff.

Jesus received only three gifts, so maybe you just give one or two things to your loved ones. These things can be found around your house. Upcycle. It saves the Earth. Bake something. Or watch a movie together.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Budget Halloween Costumes

People always come to me when they need a good Halloween costume. It's one day a year. Don't spend a lot of money on your costume, but don't be lame either. Here are my top 3:

1. Dexter--Blood spatter expert by day, avenging serial killer by night. How easy is this costume? Get you a skintight black henley and a fake syringe. Maybe add a black apron if you have one around the house. Shoot, you can find recipes for fake blood all over the Internets. Now, keep in mind, Dexter is ripped. If you're not ripped, you might have to just work out for 12 months and plan on being Dexter NEXT year. Just don't want you to look foolish.

2. Cher--always a crowd-pleaser and so many options. You can be Sonny & Cher Cher or "Turn Back Time" Cher or turquoise and feathers Cher or "Moonstruck" Cher or "Mermaids" Cher. Sky's the limit. You can't have enough Cher. Also a timely costume in light of Chazz participating in "Dancing With the Stars." Something to think about. All you need is a black wig, any style, and some stoicism. Cher ain't silly.

3. Old lady. Get you a wig and some knee highs and a floweredy dress. When folks ask you what you're dressed as, you say, "Your mom." If you say it with sincerity, people will think it's an homage.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Towa Tei and Taboo

Every time I see that mysterious, supercool Taboo guy from the Black-Eyed Peas (bottom photo, guy in the back), he reminds me of a another mysterious, supercool guy: Towa Tei, from Deee-Lite (top photo, guy on the left). Think about it--every band has a Towa Tei/Taboo mysterious type. The Beatles' version, for instance, would be George Harrison. Tell me I'm wrong.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Cheap Easter Dinner

It's Maundy Thursday, which means tomorrow is Good Friday. After that, it's Saturday and then Easter Sunday. So, you'd better start planning your Easter dinner right now. It's too late to buy a ham. I'm not hatin, I'm just talking truth. If you wanted a ham, you should've ordered that ahead of time. You shouldn't be eating meat anyway. Stop by the farmers' market and get you some veggies. Shoot, you know you're just gonna fill up on whatever candy you steal outta your kids' Easter baskets anyway. Don't even front.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Free Movie Night

Tonight, I'm going to watch my favorite movie, "To Kill a Mockingbird." I will also watch the bonus disc of the Gregory Peck biography that was included in the case when I bought the movie. There's popcorn in my cupboard (the old school kind that you make on the stove), soy butter in my fridge and comfy blankets in the hall closet. This evening of entertainment will cost zero dollars.

Friday, February 18, 2011

How to Save $ on Veggies

Today, I totally geeked on an heirloom seed site. I ordered some chantenay carrots, Cinderella pumpkins, moon and stars melons, Brandywine tomatoes, purple hull peas, assorted sweet peppers and even some cotton. I don't know if cotton grows in Shanghai, but there's only one way to find out.

I also plan to put an herb garden in the firepit, since we won't be using it for fires in the summer. Dill is lovely to put on salmon (for my pescetarian days). Basil is easy to grow, and I can act all fancy when I use it for cooking. "Oh, this is fresh from my garden," I'll say when we have potlucks at work. Chives are nice for potato salad. And maybe some hyssop because they're always talking about that in the Bible. Mint's something even an idiot can grow. And then there's oregano and parsley and whatnot.

And, when I'm at the office and a thunderstorm comes up, I can fret and say things like, "My, I hope all this rain doesn't ruin my crops. I mean, it's fine. I'm fine. I'm just worried about my hyssop."

Friday, January 14, 2011

Sesame Seeds, Sez Me

I was cooking some ancient Greek recipes last night, so, obviously I needed the all-important ingredient of toasted sesame seeds. I went to the gro sto to buy some. One tiny bottle of regular sesame seeds cost $3.99. One tiny bottle of toasted sesame seeds was $4.59. Whaaa? This was way outta my frugal livin price range, so I walked over to the organic hippie bulk aisle. Poured a jar's worth of sesame seeds into a bag, weighed them and printed out the sticker. Cost: 58 cents. That's a cost savings of $4.01 going straight into the Tuscany fund. Oh yeahhhhhhhh! (I toasted them in the oven all by myself, and they came out just right.)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Christmas Pad Thai

When I heard about the snow that was supposed to come, I asked my driver to take me to the little grocery store near PML headquarters. I didn't need bread (cuz I'm gluten-free) or milk (cuz I don't do dairy).

I bought peanuts for a veggie pad thai dinner. And some cauliflower for a soy "cream" soup I found in my Marilu Henner cookbook. (If I were human, I would want to be Marilu because she's amazing.) And a box of generic hot cocoa. And a bag of tiny marshmallows. Cost: $11.23. I reckon I could've been more frugal, but something about a snow forecast turns me into a spendthrift.

I settled in for the evening, catching up on "Dexter" episodes. After Dexter had gotten rid of all the bad people for the season and the credits rolled, I turned out the lights and opened the blinds and watched the snow fall. I checked my phone to make sure it was really Jan. 11, because it sure felt like Christmas. All was calm, all was bright. It was evening, but it looked like morning. As I curled up in bed to read a few pages of "East of Eden" before dozing off, I couldn't help but think that, at that very moment, all was right in my world.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Hot Rollers & a Math Problem

Y'all know I'm saving my money to go to Tuscany in 2012. So, I try to live frugally most of the time. Before each purchase, I ask myself, "How does this help me get to Italy?"

I've used the same set of hot rollers for years. (Yes, I roll my fur every morning.) There are 12 rollers, but somewhere along the way I lost 3 of the clips that hold the rollers in place. A new set of 12 clips costs only $3.59 at Sally Beauty Supply, but I can't bring myself to buy 'em. (Sure, I'll spend $4.82 on a soy chai latte at Starbucks weekly and not even blink, but the clips just seem so decadent.) Well, I've managed to make myself look stylish using only 9 rollers for this long. Boom, there's an extra $3.59 for the Tuscany fund!