The Frugal Musician discovers a berry good deal

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I watched William Li’s TED talk last week and would encourage you to do the same. After I took this in, I decided to up my intake of berries. But how to do that on the Frugal Musician’s tiny budget was a conundrum.

My neighbor grows blackberries so I’m waiting on an invite to pick his succulent, thornless black beauties. My strawberry plants did not grow at all. And my neighbor’s blueberry plants only yielded a small crop so I was not invited to partake in the picking.

I visited my local dollar store a few months back and discovered Miltons Bread (usually $4 a loaf) and containers of President’s brand feta cheese for a buck. The dollar depot is not close enough for everyday perusing, but yesterday I had to go to the optometrist in the vicinity of the store.

Yesterday, I discovered bags of frozen, organic strawberries AND blueberries FROM THE USA. No feta cheese and no Miltons but WOW strawberries and blueberries for a buck a bag!

Last night, I made iced chamomile, passion fruit green, and black tea. I crushed strawberries and put into a blender and zoomed the mixture around til it was pulverized. It was delicious!

So delicious, I’m determined to substitute my ever present glass of diet coke with healthy TEA with berries.

Tell me about your dollar store food treasures!

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Printer Abstinence

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When the weather warmed here in Richmond, I moved into the Summer Office. The Winter Office is our guest bedroom upstairs. The Summer Office is a sunroom off our deck.

When it came time to move, I did not move my printer downstairs.

 Richmond Spring/Summer is a finicky gal, cold then hot then cold then very hot. I didn’t want to lug the printer up and down the stairs while navigating between the two offices. I can move my entire office in one trip. I’m a minimalist.

At first not moving the printer was a matter of logistics and weather. Now I realize it’s one of the best frugal moves I’ve made.

Today it is insanely hot so I’m working in the upstairs Winter Office where the printer resides. Oh she is tempting. But I shall abstain from printing. 

Are you practicing frugal abstinence? I’d love to hear about it.

The Frugal Musician picks a grand supper

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I thinned my turnips yesterday and was delighted to discover succulent tiny fruits underneath the ground. I have great hope my turnips will indeed survive my insecticide-less garden. I did have to spray hot sauce and water on the turnip leaves about a week ago to discourage some little bug that was having a holey field day.

I brought my thinnings in and gave them a good dunk in some soapy water and toss them into an iron skillet with a tiny bit of olive oil to cook. I snipped the tiny turnips into the mix as well.  I gave them a nice dose of water occasionally and a nice splatter of apple cider vinegar at the end of cooking. Because the greens were young, I only cooked for 15 minutes.

Cornbread. I love it. I cannot make it. My mama makes the BEST cornbread in the world. It is a FLAT cake, crisp on the outside and perfect on the inside. She kept telling me she makes it with just water and cornmeal, a fact I have always had trouble believing. Mama wasn’t available to chat me through the cornbread process, so I went online and found recipes for Hot Water Cornbread.

The following recipe makes a small skillet of cornbread. Keep the corncake as thin as possible. If this is over a half-inch thick, the middle will not cook in the skillet.

1/2 cup yellow cornmeal, 2 tbsp flour, 1/4 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp salt, enough boiling water to make the mixture like thick soup. Mix everything together and pour into a small iron skillet coated in hot oil. I used a tsp of oil and wiped it around the skillet and this was just enough. When you’re cooking this think PANCAKE and you’ll know when to turn and cook the other side. I let my cornbread cook on med low heat for about 15 minutes. You really have to watch it.

My meal was scrumptious. I LOVE eating from my backyard. How about you?

The Frugal Musician takes a Friday Field Trip

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http://agecrofthall.com

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

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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 http://alunatunes.wordpress.com/2009/01/27/january-27-backstage-pass-seminar/. 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’s Kitchen Stadium Series: Fabulous Fruit Cobbler

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My favorite go to dessert when the snow is flying is fruit cobbler.

I usually have cake in the freezer and a can of frosting on hand but I’m out of frosting and Miss Betsy Jeep is still stuck in the drive.

This is the best cobbler and so simple

One cup of self rising flour (If you don’t have self rising, use one cup flour , 2 tsp of baking powder and a half tsp of salt)

One cup of sugar ( I only use half a cup and that is plenty sweet)

One cup of milk

One can of fruit or a two cup equivalent

Put one half stick of margarine into a glass baking pan. I use an 8x 1o corning ware dish. Turn oven to 350 degrees to melt butter and also heat the oven. Mix flour, sugar and milk together. When margarine is melted in dish, pour in cobbler mix. Top with canned peaches (with syrup) canned strawberries (I get these from the dollar store) blueberries, blackberries or apples.  Bake for 30-40 minutes at 350. Serve with icecream, or snowcream or cool whip.

The Frugal Musician’s Kitchen Stadium: Iron Chef Series

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Welcome to my real life snow globe.

Last week, I was able to visit the store ONCE and that was a task because I had to get out of the drive first. Monumental endeavor and when I finally did make it to the store, the shelves were nearly bare because we had a snowstorm LAST weekend and delivery trucks weren’t able to make it through.

The sparsity of the shelves aligned perfectly with the poverty of my pocket as I only had $20 to buy groceries for a week. I exited the store with a whole chicken, several cans of veggies, cheese, eggs, milk, sugar,bread and flour. I also purchased veal at nearly nothing along with Oscar Meyer hotdogs that were drastically reduced. All in all, I did ok and was happy to have gotten groceries for the coming week. I didn’t have to worry about food over the weekend.

Boyfriend was supposed to work all weekend. The place he runs sound also has one of the best restaurants in the city, so I only prepare breakfast and lunch on days he works. He was scheduled for a four day work week which all turned to mush when the snow started piling up. He’s out of work til next week.

This morning, I felt like my humble little cookery was Kitchen Stadium minus the sumptuous choices of meat, cheese, and all manner of extra ingrediants. I realized the neccessity of some seriously frugal thinking where food was concerned. I’d need to make use of whatever I had in the cupboard and freezer to make our food last for the next few days.

Last night I took pasta from the freezer and made a sauce of tomato soup, basil, oregano and cream cheese and milk. I’d bought two nice veal chops for $1.79 and cooked those up and served the whole dinner with cheese toast. It was excellent and I had enough left for lunch today.

But how do I make Superbowl snacks? What can I do about the rest of our meals? We will not starve, of course, but to stretch everything I will need to think like an Iron Chef.

Watch out Emeril.Beware Cat Cora. Get out of the way Guy! The Frugal Musician is in Kitchen Stadium and ready for some creative cooking!