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Saturday, December 20, 2014

Do You Watch DIY? Big Job in the Big Easy

If so, Frugal Son's house makeover has a date and time!  This was the most amazing opportunity. We were so nonchalant about it, since the producers asked us to apply. In hindsight, our nonchalance was completely ridiculous.

We've never watched DIY shows. We don't get cable. Luckily, we will be visiting family with cable on the air date. Hoping we can figure out how to access the show.


Episode DARN-106H


  • December 27, 2014
    10:00 PM e/p
  • December 27, 2014
    1:00 AM e/p
  • December 28, 2014
    2:30 PM e/p
  • January 21, 2015
    7:30 PM e/p
  • February 03, 2015
    7:30 PM e/p
  • February 21, 2015
    3:30 PM e/p
Albert and Leon head down south to renovate a historic New Orleans double-shotgun home. The guys set out to do a major update to the house to increase the space's functionality while preserving the home's character and history. They swap the entryways, turning an underused foyer into a bold library and dining area; tackle an outdated kitchen and give the living room a serious facelift. While in the Big Easy, the guys experience all the city has to offer; taking their first taste of an oyster and alligator, and jumping in with a brass band parading through the streets of New Orleans!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Gift Giving Experts: Here's a Tough One

OK. Here's a gift-giving quandary. Frugal Son wants to buy a gift for his across the street neighbor (the grandmother of the young fellow who will be getting the computer). She is on public assistance.  Frugal Son's go-to gift has been homemade bread plus some cheese from a fancy cheese store.

But--said Frugal Son--while the bread seems good, the cheese seems superfluous to someone who has plenty of food (and often brings a covered dish over to him). The neighbor has enough of the necessities but has NO MONEY. Seriously. He has no idea of what she might want or need. He is thinking of BREAD a basket. PLUS WHAT?

P.S. Thank you readers for your comments on my sporadic posts. While I think of responses to each and every one, I have had a hard time actually typing them up. This is perhaps because I have spent the past few weeks grading papers, writing comments on the work of the 109 students who remained in my care, AND sending email responses to queries about final grades. These last, as one might expect, are often heart-rending. So thank you, one and all. Maybe I'll attempt a few today...

Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Gift that Cost Me Nothing

Every time I think about writing a post these days, a key word is Nothing. What does Frugal Son want? Answer: Nothing. Miss Em: the same, not to mention that she's in Serbia. As for Mr FS and me, well, we have too much to begin with in our very middle-class life. So gift-giving for the holidays has become rather nonchalant these past few seasons.

Frugal Son lives--with two roommates--in a house that we bought in New Orleans. We used the money we got upon the death of his beloved father, Bill. The house is in the Irish Channel neighborhood, which as been gentrifying for more than 20 years.  The block is very neighborly with a diverse group of people, many of whom make a point to watch out for each other.

One of Frugal Son's roommates has been on "probation" with us since leaving the door of the house open one night when the other two tenants were gone. Some thieves entered the house at night, took the keys which he had considerately left next to the front door, and stole his big truck. yeah, he was lucky. You can see why neighbors keeping an eye out is a good thing in a city.

Frugal Son's across the street neighbor is--we assume--on public assistance. She takes care of her 16 year old grandson. She keeps a close eye on him. She has very little money. Recently, Frugal Son asked us if we had a little computer lying around that we could give the grandson.

The answer: yes. We bought a tiny eee computer to take to Europe a few years ago. We haven't used it in a while because Miss Em bought one also for her summer course in Florence. We really only need one. Yes, that last paragraph just exudes privilege, does it not?

So we are giving the computer to the grandson. What does it cost us: nothing.

That we can give a kid a computer with such ease is a sobering thought. It doesn't even make a dent.

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.