Friday, March 6, 2009

Pick Up Where Madoff Left Off

We have all heard Bernie Madoff stories ad nauseum. People losing their entire savings, charities closing, multi-million dollar homes going on the market in desperation. Well, here's another way to look at it. Someone's got to buy that stuff that's going to be in auctions, sales, consignment stores and pawn shops. Recently I heard of someone who is planning a girl's trip to Palm Beach for a weekend tour of the better known pawn and consignment shops for the express plan to pick up some Chanel and shiny baubles on the cheap. They're figuring there has got to be a boatload of good stuff just for the picking. They are probably right.
As you all know, I'm not buying much of anything (part of the frugal plan and also just don't have any money). I am heartened, though, to find that someone somewhere is still thinking about shopping for luxury items. Yesterday in the New York Times there was an article about a realtor who is giving up her Rolls and driver because it just doesn't look right in these times. She will still pay the $3,000/month lease and will probably just garage it for the next year until the lease is up. I'm not sure what the actual moral to this story is, though. That she willingly pays $3,000 month for a vehicle she will never own plus a driver's salary? That she will continue to pay for it and not use it because of appearances? That it's ok to garage the Rolls and take the driver off of the payroll thereby taking away his livelihood when she can obviously still pay for it? That anyone thinks this hard about how other people judge how you spend your money? Something to ponder.
So, all of you who haven't gotten enough of labels and things to show off, head on down to Palm Beach and partake of some David Yurman and D&G poaching while the season is still open. Better hurry because you know these girls aren't the only ones thinking about it.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

My New Old Egg Chair, or Ultimate DIY

Travis McGee and the Frugal Maven are modern design freaks. We used to own a midcentury modern shop full to the brim with Herman Miller furniture, funky lamps and hoohas, cocktail accoutrements and anything and everything made of fibreglass or molded plywood. We are also, as you are well aware, stingy. Back when our shop was open we would cruise thrift stores, auctions, yard and estate sales and the best ever place to find things--junk pickup. There is nothing like finding a treasure buried in a pile of someone else's castoffs. Of course, all good things must come to an end and now we just used to be in the business, with fond memories and three garages full of furniture and gewgaws.

One of our favorite pieces came from the trash. We have an egg chair by Arne Jacobsen, which looks (in the store, where other people buy them) like this:

These chairs were designed in 1958 by Jacobsen and produced by Fritz Hansen. The design was so radical that it took several years for technology to catch up to Jacobsen's idea and be advanced enough to handle the manufacturing. Even now our chair tilts and swivels like it is brand new. Our chair looked like hell when it was retrieved from its' respective junk pile. It also smelled like cats. For six months it resided on the back porch where Travis McGee alternately cleaned and aired it. He then pondered how to reupholster it for a couple of months. Eventually he triumphed and it looked like this:
But as time wore on, the cats discovered that if they leapt high enough they could catch it right at the top and hang on as the chair swung around. And they loved doing that. And it just started to disentegrate. So we decided that it was time for Travis McGee to take another stab at upholstering it. He first had to strip it down to the fiberglass, and bondo the edges, then reseal everything and repad it. Halfway through it looked like this:
So you can see it was a challenge. I was amazed that he even tried to tackle it, but Travis McGee is fearless. He used a vintage cowhide rug as the upholstery material and worked for days off and on, including sewing the edges by hand. He has tons of little pinholes in his fingers now. And the other night I came home from work and was greeted by this:

And so now you know why I am the luckiest girl in the world. All total, we have about $200 and a couple of maimed fingers invested in this over ten years. And just FYI, this chair, in cowhide, sells for $12,782.30 new. But the shipping is free.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Morning Glory Muffins

We have a bakery here in town that makes fantastic Morning Glory Muffins. They also charge about $3.50 each for them. Obviously I cannot justify the price even if I could afford to buy them. I set out recently to find a decent recipe that was as close as possible to those unattainable ones. There are several online but this one, from Southern Living Magazine, seemed to be the least fussy, featured real carrot, and used a can of crushed pineapple which I found to be an interesting addition. They are excellent but dry out after a couple of days. I think I would probably make a loaf and bake it about 55 mins. next time. Little miniature muffins with cream cheese frosting would be perfect for a brunch, shower or tea. Lots of options as always with a quick bread but the basic recipe can't be beat. It's not too sweet but filling and tastes great. I used walnuts and added a little ginger just 'cause.

Makes 2 dozen muffins
1 cup chopped pecans
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup canola oil
3 large eggs
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 (8-oz.) can crushed pineapple, drained
2 large carrots, finely grated (1 cup)
1 cup golden raisins
1. Preheat oven to 350°. Bake pecans in a single layer on a baking sheet 5 to 7 minutes or until lightly toasted and fragrant. Cool completely on a wire rack (about 15 minutes).
2. Meanwhile, combine flour, salt, baking soda, ground cinnamon, and nutmeg in a large bowl; make a well in center of mixture.
3. Whisk together sugar, canola oil, eggs, and vanilla extract; fold in crushed pineapple and carrots. Add to flour mixture, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened. Fold in toasted pecans and raisins. Spoon into lightly greased muffin pans, filling two-thirds full.
4. Bake at 350° for 23 to 25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire rack 5 minutes. Remove from pans to wire rack, and cool completely (about 30 minutes).
Note: Muffins may be made ahead and frozen for one month.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Shazam! Hip and Stingy's Sunday Link Love

As all of us who sit in front of this little screen that rules our lives knows, there is a lot out there to sort through. Hence, some things that may not merit a full post or just something I don't want you to miss. Sundays are kind of my coupon and computer housecleaning days so I'm all about getting some stuff cleared out. Here goes:
  • Get a free Arby's Roastburger through March 9 by going here.

  • Get a $10 off of a $50 purchase at Dick's here.

  • A couple of weeks ago Tatersmama had a post about a koala that I've gone back to a couple of times because he is just so cute. Go visit him here.

  • Last week Robynn over at Robbyn's Ravings won for an essay she submitted at Red Pine Mountain titled Cinderella is Overrated. Take a look, it's worth a read!

  • Best blogger plug-in of the week: Adding a top commenter widget to your blog. Go here for the quick fix.

  • Get a $5 refill on any b/w or color ink cartridge through today at Walgreen's by printing this online coupon.

  • This week Bossy did Double Endemnity Barbie Theater. If you've never seen this go now. It beats almost any other movie you may see this year and it's genius!

  • Margaret over at Margaret and Helen finished up Anne Coulter's book this week. This is a sacrifice for all of us. The review is at least 5,000 times better than the book could possibly be, not that I'd ever pick it up. It still does not answer the question of how Coulter could possibly be a #1 New York Times bestselling author and nothing probably ever will.

  • Allen Salkin wears a Snuggie on the street for the New York Times and reports on the reactions. Haven't we all wanted to do this?

  • Treehouse Chef finished her first Daring Bakers Challenge. Congratulations! Not familiar with them? Join the overflowing crowd and cook something new here.