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.