Monday, January 14, 2019

Scottish and French TV Shows I Recommend

I love this French TV series "Call My Agent" about the talent agents at the fictional biggest movie star talent agency in France. The main character is Mathias, played by the incredibly handsome and debonair Thibault de Montalembert and Camille Cottin plays his main rival in the agency. On a fun note his daughter joins the agency against Mathias' wishes and they need to keep her identity secret. A big plus is that world famous actual French actors play fictionalized versions of themselves, a different actor in each episode. The client actors are needy, demanding, gifted and need careful handling. In one episode the client actor gets so far into character of a crazed loner that he can not leave the character and begin his next acting job, so the agents have to help him in a clever way return to the real world. This show has 4 seasons, 2015-2018 and I hope for more. I am watching it on Netflix.

Still Game is a very funny Scottish TV show, set in the fictional Craiglang area of Glasgow. Two life long friends are played by Fred Kiernan and Greg Hemphill. They are pensioners who live on tight budgets in a stark high rise building. The guys and their friends get in to trouble with their mad cap plans and escapades. In one they visit one of the newfangled warehouse stores and get locked in at night. They set up tents and a grill and forage for food and beer in the store. The bartender, Boaby, at  the Clansman (their local pub) and Isa, a kind hearted gossipy lady who earns a bit of money cleaning at the local convenience store are two of the great characters. I watch this on Netflix. It has about nine seasons, beginning in 2002 and they made a final season in 2018. I  am happy to see there are 56 episodes.
I chose these two shows because I think they are not as well known in the USA as I think they deserve. Are there any shows you have discovered and want to share in the comments?

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Frugal Ideas, A Good Way to Start This New Year

A fresh new year, a clean slate. I thought it would be fun to share a couple frugal things I do and to ask for your favorite frugal tips in comments.
Heating the House
I turn down the heat to 61 degrees F (16 C) at night (from about 8 p.m. to 8 a.m.); the living room heats up quickly to 73 degrees F (22 C) in the morning which I like. My dog Bounce sits right in front of the new wall heater in the morning. I am out and about for several hours each day and turn the temp down to 68 then. Since my house is well insulated it holds the heat. We had insulation put in in the attic, a new front door that doesn't leak air, and a newer living room window.
Is that frugal? Everyone has their own ideas on favorite temperatures. I don't heat my bedroom or the house at night, I like it cool for sleeping.

Growing Vegetables
Come spring I plant vegetables and I read that a square foot of garden can produce a dollar's worth of vegetables. For a 10 by 12 foot garden that could be $120 you won't spend at the grocery store. Seeds are a cheap way to go. I like to plant Chinese sugar pea seeds, edible pea pods are so good fresh from the garden. I always plant tomatoes and zucchini, two zucchini plants are plenty for one person and I plant one green and one yellow zucchini. I plant cilantro, green onions and greens like rainbow chard, kale, or lettuce.
I think my three blueberry plants count as a frugal garden choice since they have provided me with blueberries for eight years. I planted 3 different blueberry varieties, just for fun. They each have a slightly different flavor and berry size and are ripe a few weeks apart which lengthens the blueberry season.
Re-use Egg Cartons
For good drainage for flower pots, I tear up cardboard egg cartons and put them in the bottom of the pots. That is free since you will likely buy eggs anyway.
Doing Laundry
To save water, cost of heating water and to use less laundry detergent I have a front loading clothes washer. I got an energy rebate from our city water department when I bought it several years ago. Also it does not have that central post or agitator so is more gentle on clothes.
Flower Vases
New flower vases can be expensive so I buy them from shops like Goodwill and yard sales. It is useful when I give a friend a bouquet and they can keep the vase.
Lin mentioned saving money by stopping cable TV, which I forgot to include here. My cable bill was getting up to about $90 a month, awful, and I didn't find much to watch. So I cut the cable about 4 years ago, and already had Amazon Prime so I get those TV shows, a family member gets me Netflix, and I pay a total of $20 a month for Britbox, Acorn TV (two sources of British and some Australian and Canadian shows), and Hulu. I am pleased to save $70 a month which adds up to $840 a year. Over 10 years that is $8,400, a huge amount of money saved. One of my sons bought me an Amazon Firestick so I use that to turn to the show I want to watch. The Firestick has the neat feature where I hold down the search button and say the name of a movie or TV show and it looks for it and shows viewing options. Thanks for the reminder Lin.
What are some of your best frugal ideas? I like to get new ideas to try.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

A Kind Note Found In a Book I Bought

I like to buy used books and always appreciate if there is some clue in them to a previous owner. I bought Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis at the near by Goodwill used book store. A blogger mentioned this book and then I read that Amis is compared as a comic writer to my favorite comedic author, P.G. Wodehouse so I grabbed the book. Not out of someone's hands, ha ha.
Isn't this note kind? "Geoff, Thanks for all you do. It's been a stressful year, so I hope you can unwind a bit with Lucky Jim and start the New Year on a happy note. To 2011. Mike."

Below is the snowman on the cover of the note.

Have you found intriguing inscriptions in used books you have bought?

Monday, December 24, 2018

For Unto Us a Child Is Born and my sweet lamb a friend made

For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a son is given; And the government shall be upon his shoulders And his name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end.
Isaiah 9:6-7

Below is my new addition to the nativity scene, a faithful white clay sheep made by a friend.

Isn't the sheep Diane made a cutie? The name I might give him is Happy. Or do you have a suggestion for a name?

At this holy season may God quiet you with his peace, comfort you with his presence, and bless you with his love.

Merry Christmas and Ho Ho Ho to All.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Do You Have Any Cooking for One Ideas

I can use some ideas for cooking dinner for one. This is new to me after 45 years of marriage and raising a family and cooking for four.
I had a good idea a few days ago; I bought a game hen from Trader Joes. I rubbed it with melted butter, stuffed it with a few lemon slices and fresh rosemary and a couple grapes, and put it in the oven on a baking sheet. It was done in about an hour. Actually I went out and took Bounce on a walk, and overcooked it a bit. The directions said done when temperature reaches 165 degree F, but it was 200 degree F. when I returned from our walk and took the game hen out of the oven. Still, it was moist and tasty.
I had the game hen that evening and the next night too, with asparagus. Bounce had plenty of hen tidbits to nibble on too.
I would appreciate if you have any other good ideas for cooking for one you would share here in the comments.
P.S. 12/12/18 Starting Over mentioned in her comment Hello Fresh. My son comes over after work once a month with either Hello Fresh or Blue Apron and he cooks us gourmet meals for three days. I like these services, but it would be too much food for one person, I think. I like Hello Fresh and Blue Apron a lot. The choices are fantastic, twice now we chose the grilling cheese meal with sweet potato, red onion, tomato and avocado.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Christmas Book I Wrote: A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts: Stories to Warm Your Heart and Tips to Simplify Your Holiday

"A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts: Stories to Warm Your Heart and Tips to Simplify Your Holiday" is the first book I wrote. It is available on Amazon here 
A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts

This book was a joy to write and it shines through in the words. I met my co-authors online, three of them live in Ohio and two in Texas, and me here in California. It contains snippets of cheer and time savers, recipes, Scripture about the birth of Jesus, family fun ideas, and faith-filled hints. We include outdoor activities, how to create a quiet place in a busy home by having a Santa chair, green thumb tips for Christmas and true stories of our Christmas firsts. One of us shares about the siblings she adopted and their first Christmas in their new home. I share about camping in the Everglades at Christmas.

Here is a review I read posted on Amazon; I don't know the reviewer but love what she wrote about my book:
"When I first saw this book I thought it would be something I would read in a few minutes. Instead I found myself lingering over the stories, enjoying the little known Christmas facts, and promising myself that I would try all the recipes. And yes, there are recipes. Truly a bonus. The pages are filled with personal stories that will touch your heart, and there are interesting facts that will have you thinking, "I never knew that." I've always loved the song about chestnuts roasting on an open fire, but I didn't know until I read this book that Mel Torme, who originally sang it, also wrote the song in forty minutes during a 1945 summer heat wave. I'll remember that every time I hear the song from now on.
This is a great book for any time of the year, and a perfect addition to any bookshelf."

This is a hardcover book with pretty illustrations on each page. If you buy a copy or already have a copy please review it on Amazon. Your reviews help.