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Magic Blarney Stones Project


According to legend The Blarney Stone, when kissed, can impart the gift of eloquence and persuasion.  It lies within the confines of Blarney Castle in Ireland, built in 1446 by Dermot McCarthy

I started building these little beauties after being inspired by just thinking about magical stones through out history.  Authurian lore tells of Arthur pulling his sword Excaliber from a stone. Crystals and gems contain magical and mystical properties. The Blarney Stone is rumored to be Jacobs Pillow, the stone the father of the Israelites used as a place to rest his head while sleeping as he fled from his brother Esau. Jacob had a vision of a great staircase as he dreamt. The next day Jacob consecrated the stone to God.

Jacob’s Pillow was brought to Ireland by Jeremiah the Prophet, where it become Lia Fail or the Fatal Stone, used as a kind of sorting stone for Irish kings.

Other legends surround the stone, whose power and prophetic abilities were brought to the attention of The MacCarthy’s by a witch who was saved from drowning.

My own little Blarney Stones are river rocks mounted on rounds of cedar wood. Glitter, beads and magical elements are added to the stones to create an enchanting, unique Blarney of my own design.






The Frugal Musician makes Focaccia


I was looking for a very quick bread recipe to accompany a casserole and I remembered this ultra easy focaccia. Incredibly fast and delicious.

Fast Focaccia

1 cup water

2 cups all purpose flour

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

1 tblsp olive oil (I didn’t have olive oil so I substituted Kraft Olive Oil with Feta bottled salad dressing)

1 tablespoon melted butter (optional)

1/2 cup or less of any kind of shredded cheese. I used sharp cheddar.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Mix all ingredients together. Pour into a greased 9×13 baking dish ( I used a glass dish). Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and pour melted butter over top and add cheese. Bake five more minutes.

Terrific results!

Food Prices Rise 29% in 2010


I wasn’t really surprised when NBC Nightly News reported food prices climbed 29% in 2010 and were expected to rise through 2011. As a weekly marketer, I’ve seen the climb first hand. I’ve stopped purchasing some items simply because it seems ridiculous to pay such a ghastly price for things like olives and certain cheeses. 

With the news report still fresh on my mind, I was more grateful than ever for my habit of perimeter shopping.  Perimeter shopping refers to shopping the perimeter of stores where the freshest items are displayed. Produce, deli, bakery, fresh fish and meats, cheese, yogurt and dairy items like eggs and sour cream are on the perimeter of a market. Not only are these foods the freshest in the store, but they’re healthier than items on store shelves. And they’re also perishable and are quickly marked down.

During today’s shopping trip I purchased fresh pizza dough in the deli for 59 cents and a container of fresh gorgonzola cheese for $1.99. Both items were originally marked $6.00 and are still in date until next week. I bought dented cans of tomatoes and corn from a discount cartfor 45 cents and found a box of premium cereal with a dent on the side for a buck seventy and I had a dollar coupon!

 I also purchased veal tenderloins for 64 cents and fresh pork strips for a buck.

Recently I discussed marked down meat with the butcher at one of my stores. He explained the lights in stores cause meat to discolor and that discourages most people from purchasing it.  Marked down items from the meat department are available early mornings at the small market I shop. Oddly, produce is rarely marked down and when it is  …well…rotten!

I’m grateful in this era of rising food prices to be a smart and mindful shopper.  Dollars simply don’t stretch as far as they once did and as the economy continues to be uncooperative to so many, savvy food shopping becomes an enviable skill! The perimeter of a market is a gold mine of fresh finds and healthful choices.

The Frugal Musician takes a Friday Field Trip


The Frugal Musician is a hermit. It’s a fact very well-known and since I developed tinnitus last year (an evil condition where one’s ears ring, buzz or pop all the time) I have not attended live music shows, which I enjoyed up close and personal, as my ringing ears now attest to.

April 30 was Beltane and I was pondering a solo celebration of this rite of Summer. I was committed to calling in the Earth Mother Goddess with Sage and water and smoke, blessing the house and yard. In leu of a Maypole, I was thinking of gathering up blooming flowers and streaming them over my arbor in the back garden, scrying for fairies through ivy circles and fancied making a Brigids Doll of found natural items.

Then I read Agecroft Hall was having a Beltane celebration. I’d wanted to visit Agecroft forever but had not (see the aforementioned HERMIT status). The house was built in Lancashire, England in 1495 and was the home of noble families until 1926 when it was sold at auction to Richmonder Thomas C. Williams who had it dismantled, shipped across the sea and reassembled in Windsor Farms. 

From Elizabethan England to practically my back yard!

Admission was $5 for the event and the drive fit my Frugal Field trip mileage standards ( less than 20 miles round trip) so off I went! It was a great time, easy parking (free), and the small crowd was perfect.

Are you taking yourself out for Frugal Field Trips? I’d love to hear about them.

The Frugal Musician wants a lunch wagon


Winter in the music business is never what one might call easy.  Boyfriend is a sound technician and I’m a music publicist and we both rely on touring and entertainment to provide us with work. Typically, both of our businesses grind to a slow crawl from the week before Thanksgiving to mid January. 

Partner the big slow down with bouts of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), a lack of warmth and sun and the ground’s barren and frozen status and we both start to think of alternative ways to make a living. My alternative idea this particular winter is to make a career of selling sandwiches out of a lunch wagon. It seems a reasonable and sane way to make a living. After all, people gotta eat.

 In 2009, I released four booklets about the music business. To see how Divine Intervention made this happen you can read this 2009 also marked my exit from the music booking business and the build a band business, into full-time publicity and writing. Now the freelance writing business is experiencing a shake up and publicity often demands underwriting funds as publications try to keep afloat in the digital age.

Essentially I’ve spent 15 years intimately involved in building the careers of other people, while my own, sadly, sat neglected and ill-fed in a dank, dark and cold corner. “SSSHHHHH!” I warned Dream Girl when she cried no one was paying any attention to her. “Too much whining in the monitors! ” I’d hiss ala Jeff Mosier.” You are not as valid as band a, b, and c and are not as talented as singer a, so just knock off the complaining and let me get back to WORKING on the dreams of others! GEEZ!”

A week ago, a lot changed. It was sudden and unexpected.  For a week, I’ve mulled it over, not obsessed or whined or complained about it, just quietly reflected on the change as a major part of my work life becomes not so major anymore.  And it is good because I truly believe change is good all the way around.  Without change, we’d never grow or develop or learn to count our blessings more fully and fervently on a minute by minute basis.

This morning, I picked Dream Girl up out of her dark corner, sat her on my knee, wiped her tears, gave her some warm tea and honey and brushed her hair. Strangely, she looked dazzling in the sunlight streaming through the window and I realized what a pretty little thing Dream Girl always was. How she loved to write and sing and how she adored the art of creation. As she become nourished and clean, she giggled. “We can do this.” she reminded me, then gave me a hug around the neck, as if I had never neglected her or let her down or ignored her at all.

So it’s time to pay attention to me and Dream Girl and pursue the things we’ve always loved, our own hopes and ambitions, all the things that have taken a back seat to the dreams of others for so many years.  Although our pockets might be threadbare for a bit, we’ll be like a Dickens character. Maybe a little ragged and worn, but full of the goodness of life and content to find our new place in it.

The Frugal Musician gets transparent


For the third weekend since December 18 we’re snowed in. Great masses of the white stuff pile at our driveway and ribbons of windblown snow weave around our window panes.  I have never seen snow like this. It would be remarkable and enchanting but my enthusiasm for it is tempered by a solid dose of winter work woes. When the weather is bad, Boyfriend’s work closes and he goes unpaid. It’s winter and most bands tour sparsely and close to home during the cold months. And I rely on touring to make a living.

This scenario is not new and each year I try my best to prepare for it. Unfortunately, in January, I lost what I considered my “day job”. I was a public relations gal for a regional act and it took up nearly all my time. The pay was good, contributing nearly two thirds of my income. So I was rather shocked when touring didn’t let the group to renew my contract for another year.  Then panic set in followed close on the heels of despair, discouragement and downright despondency.

Deriving an income from music and those who make it is tenuous in the best of times.  With that in mind, I keep an emergency fund quickly accessible. I am lucky. But the next few months will be some of the toughest I’ve ever experienced.

I’ve decided to share this and share it now after pondering my situation for over a month. I didn’t know whether I should talk about this sudden change of affairs or simply keep it to myself and let people continue to wonder what the heck is wrong with Tammy.

Transparency is a big deal.  I am the strong, silent type, always more content to bear whatever comes along with the stoicism of a monk and the full recognition that The Universe knows what it’s doing. I may not understand it, but I trust that this is how things are at the moment.

 It occurs to me a blog is a web log and perhaps I can share my scary moments and triumphs on this new journey with you. After all, you’ve always been so kind to read and comment and I value your friendship more than I can say.

So here’s to transparency and the stinky smelly side of slap me in the face reality.  It’s like a rollercoaster here right now. Hop in but remember to keep your hands and feet inside the vehicle at all times and don’t exit until the ride has come to a full stop.

Ready, Set -GO!

The Frugal Musician’s Winter Wardrobe


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My summer wardrobe starts to morph this time of year. To acclimate to the steady decrease in sun and warmth here in Virginia,  I simply start to add layers to my standard summer attire. I’m not one that switches out closets, though I do keep coats in my upstairs sewing room closet.

Generally during the summer I wear skirts and tank tops or short sleeve tee shirts in the office. I don’t wear shoes. I think that is my favorite part of working for myself- no shoes in the office!  Liberating, indeed!

As the weather starts to cool, I add a pullover or jacket to the tank top for morning wear. Because by noon, my little sunroom office is HOT and a layer must go. I should also add, this layering technique works beautifully when one becomes a certain age and has certain alarming and sudden rises in core temperature…..

And shoes. Yes, in the winter I must wear shoes. I opt for sneakers or if it is REALLY cold, or a fuzzy pair of bedroom slippers. Underneath my jeans or pants or skirt, I’ll wear tights. I think leggings are really wonderful things and I’m going to knit myself a pair asap.

Do you do a whole wardrobe switch or does your climate allow a layered approach?