Luxury on the Cheap
Happy pre-Halloween!  Halloween is my favorite holiday.  Not only are there treats and tricks - but I love going out as something gross.  You know... On purpose. 

It's pretty easy to have a fun and frugal Halloween.  There's no need to spend a fortune on spooky decorations; as with most things, you can use what you have.  For instance, those spider webs that are everywhere in Seattle this time of year?  Leave 'em up! Call 'em decorations! Why buy the fake ones when you have perfectly good real spiders already?  And those mystery vegetables growing hair in the back of your fridge?  Very Scary.  I'm thinking Instant Table Centerpiece!

All right, so maybe letting vegetables grow hair in your fridge is not very frugal, but we've all done it sometime, so I consider making them into a display as recycling.  Don't judge me!

Halloween at my house is always a blast.  I'm usually not a fan of store-bought fun, but I do have some decorations that I purchased for pennies RIGHT AFTER Halloween in years past.  Seriously, if you're going that route with any holiday decorations, buy right on or after the holiday when all that crap is on sale.  Stores can't wait to get rid of it. 

No doubt, the best part of Halloween for me is dressing up.  I'm a show-off, so I don't like to have the same costume as everyone else.  Also, I'm a tightwad, so I don't want to pay a Queen's ransom.  That's why I constuct original costumery from stuff found at the Mecca of Bargains, Goodwill and Value Village.  Or whatever thrift store is close.

All kinds of gowns and robes and beads can become capes, cloaks, and queenly wear for All Hallow's Eve.  An abandoned bridesmaid dress plus deathly makeup and fake blood becomes a dead prom queen.  A four dollar set of thrift-store fairy wings, plus giant water-balloon boobs, tank top, and a purple stretch pants once transformed me into the fearsome Crazy Redneck Lady.  Go nuts!  See what you can do with ten bucks or less! 

Of course, there are the stand-bys that you can make for free... A white sheet makes you a ghost, or a toga-wearing Greek Goddess, or with a bunch of white crap glued to it, white trash.  Your yard-work clothes plus a smudged face can make you a hobo... or all your bills and a zillion IOUs pasted all over can easily turn you into the National Debt.  The point is, raid the closet with a creative eye and think of what you could put together with what you have.  A hippie?  A cowgirl?  A republican? 

All of these things work for kids' costumes, too.  Seriously, who has better imaginations than kids?  Give a kid a cardboard box, some duct tape, and a marker, and they'll come up with their own costume!  So let them!  Take your kids and hit the thrift stores, and you'll be shocked and awed at the good stuff you find.  If you borrow just a teaspoon of kidly inspiration, you can create a one-of-a-kind costume, a pack of fun memories.... and it totally counts as Quality Time.

And the blackmail photos will last a lifetime.  Hell yeah!  Up top!

OK, since I promised in last week's audio blog .... I offer you Nacho Mama's Most Excellent Recipe for Fake Blood.  Instead of buying a little bit of the expensive stuff, you'll have so much fake blood you'll need some fake Kotex.

You will need:  Karo Syrup (corn syrup, found in any grocery store, light or dark) and Red Food Coloring. (Use the leftovers from Easter.)  Squirt the food coloring into the syrup bottle until you like the color.  Shake it up.  Apply liberally.


Happy Halloween, Bitches! 

Also, check out this week's audio blog for bonus tightwaddery.   


Nacho Mama  ; )

1.  Have massive guilt surrounding anything to do with spending money, especially on yourself.
2.  Surrender to low self-esteem.
3. Spend several years of your adult life broke - because necessity is the motherfungus of invention!

No, seriously.

You don't have to take the same hard-ass path to frugality that I did.  You can take baby steps!  You can do one thrifty, money-saving thing today!  Bring a sandwich to work instead of eating out.  Or, make coffee at home instead of driving through you-know-where. Think of how much money you spend on these items each week, then multiply by 52 weeks, and there's your yearly savings.  Believe it or not, those drops really add up. 

If that's an 8-dollar lunch.... multiplied by 5 days a week... times 52 weeks a year... plus a hypothetical 4-dollar coffee twice a week.... that adds up to....just under 25 hundred dollars!  Hot damn!  What could you do with that much money?

For more, listen to today's audio blog!

Much love,

Nacho Mama
Frugal myths are dispelled once and for all.  Check the audio blog!
Question: Who doesn't love pie?  Answer: Dead people.  Every Body Loves Pie!  It's a universal truth!  Look it up!

So what does pie have to do with tightwaddery?  Well, if you make your own, it's way cheaper and tastier than the store-bought version.  It's not full of artificial ingredients and preservatives, and you're in control of the salt and fat and sugar.  In your hands, it becomes a healthy snack!  And what's more thrifty than being healthy?  See?

Growing up in rural East Texas, I had access to that food of the Gods, Fraahd Paah.  Or, Fried Pie, for non-Texans.  My grandmother has a tree in the back yard that grows pears the size of cheewawas, and every summer, when they get ripe, is Fried Pie Season!  It's better than Christmas and Halloween and Mardi Gras all rolled into one!

The point is, you can use whatever fruit you have available.  Use what you have; use what's in season.  Here in soggy Seattle, we have lots of blackberries (free to pick almost anywhere but beware of sprayed areas), cherries, and apples. 

What you do is make a basic crust.  Let that chill in the fridge until you're ready for it.  This is important, because it keeps the dough from falling apart when you fill it.  Then take about two cups of fruit, add half a cup of sugar, and put it on to simmer until the fruit gets soft-ish.  Roll out the dough and cut out a saucer-sized circle, and put a couple of spoonfuls of fruit on it.  Wet the outside edge with your finger and fold it over, taco-style.  Then crimp the edges with a fork all the way around to seal it shut.

After you've done this, slide that baby into some hot oil. (That sounds a little dirty.)  I prefer lard for this.  The Lard cooks in mysterious ways!

...... preachy aside following......

Lard has gotten a bad rap.  For milennia, it's been used safely to deliver a tender, flaky crust.  Flakiness may be bad for your relationships, but it's aweome on your pie.  Crisco, on the other hand, is some franken-food-type-product that some chemist invented in a lab in New Jersey.  If you can't spell it, why would you want to eat it?  Tightwad tip:  Eat Real Food.  Not chemicals posing as food.  Much healthier that way.

                                                                      .......aaaaaand, rant over........

When both sides are golden brown, it's done.  Say hello to heaven. 

These pies can be made in advance and frozen.  They make a perfect dessert, tightwad treat, after-school snack, or breakfast.  If you're willing to trade a little bit of convenience for time, you end up with something that's much healthier, much tastier, and you kids will worship you for it.

You'll never buy those cardboard abominations that pass for pie from McEvil's again.

Fried Pie!  A tasty tightwad treat!

Big love,

Nacho Mama!
Let me tell you something about fashion.

It's a damn lie!

Fashion is not the same as Style, which is the statement you choose to make to the world through your appearance.  Fashion is a prescribed costume dictated to you by others. 

While it's true we're expected to dress a certain way for the job and all, the idea that no one will approve of us if we're wearing last year's jacket  is just crap.   And the idea that we won't get approval unless we spend the big bucks dressing our bodies is even more pernicious. Ubiquitous.  Obnoxious! 

That's why I present to you Nacho Mama's Rebel Guide To Dressing Well and Showing Your Middle Finger to Fashion Designers Who Hate Real Women Anyway.

1.  Never buy anything new, ever again.
2.  Constuct exciting designs out of old sheets and scraps, and call it avant-garde.
3. Adopt the "Grunge-Chic" aesthetic so popular in Seattle.  Once people determine you're not homeless, they'll adore your unique point of view.

*      *      *         *         *           *         *

Right.  Whatever.


"But," you say, "You already told us you look fabulous and expensive.  How can you have it both ways?  Are you just full of baloney?"

"No," I would answer.  "I'm vegetarian.  But that's the subject of a different show.  And don't sass me.  Even though I'm Nacho Mama, I'm still somebody's mama."

Here's the thing with fashion:  Figure out Your Style - how You want to look - and then choose clothing that is classic and well-constructed that you don't have to buy over and over.  Once you've done that, get up close and personal with the consignment and thrift shops in your area. 

If you think wearing pre-owned clothes is icky, give me a break.  Do you bring your own sheets and bedding when you sleep in a hotel?  I didn't think so.  Shut up.

Shopping for used clothing is a little like a treasure hunt.  Sometimes you don't find what you were looking for; sometimes you find so much great stuff it seems like your own personal Christmas.  The key is being flexible.

If you're a beginner, start with consignment stores.  Consignment shopping is an easy, fun way to ease into the world of thrifting.  Generally speaking, consignment stores are pickier about the pieces they accept, and their stuff is usually in excelllent, ready-to-wear condition.  Some of my favorite bargains -- several BCBG items, including a coat, pants, and a couple of fancy-shmancy dresses - were all found in a local consignment shop.  I always like to make friends with the store manager.  After you establish yourself as a regular, and she gets to know your size and taste, there's a fair-to-middling chance she'll call you when they have something to interest you.  Just ask! 

Consignment shopping is also a double win - because you can sell your stuff!  That dress you haven't worn in 20 pounds?  Consignment!  That impulse purchase that you suddenly realize would look tacky on a 2 dollar hooker but can't return?  Consignment!  The ugly sweater that was last year's Christmas gift?  Convert them all to money through the magic of consignment!

Most stores will look over your items by appointment only, but there are some that will make you a cash offer on the spot.  Plato's Closet is one.  Shop around for others.  Ask questions.  Do research!

Because you're on your way to being a savvy, well-dressed bitch!  Not the fashion industry's ho!

How do I know?  Because I'm somebody's mama!  Just...

Nacho Mama  : )

"Style is not a logo that sticks 2 the roof of one's ass-
Style is like a second cousin 2 class."   - Prince
People say to me all the time "Oooohh Girl!  You look fabulous!  Where'd you get those bad-ass shoes?"  and "Dang, you look expensive!  How much dope did you have to sell to afford that outfit?"  Truth is, I do look fabulous. I have to.  I'm in the entertainment business, and I sell fun.  The other truth is, my fabulous outfits are cheap as hell.  "Why," you may ask, "are your outfits so cheap?  Do they match your virtue?"  To that, I would answer "Because they pay me in bumper stickers.  And it's too cold to go nekkid here. And shut the hell up." 

Point is, you don't have to spend a lot of money to look great and live well.  And because I'm a caring giver (Mama! Remember?) I'm going to share my tried-and-true, guaran-damn-teed, totally legal tightwad tips.

First tightwad tip:  Steal stuff from your job.  You know they don't treat you right anyway!  Where do you think I got this laptop?

Second tightwad tip:  Take magazines/ newspapers from the doctor's office or coffee shop.  Then clip and use the coupons!  It's frugal squared!

Third tightwad tip:  When you visit fast food places, make sure to stock up on free ketchup, napkins, mustard, salt, etc.  By never paying for these items again, you save literally TENS of dollars over a lifetime!

Okay, seriously.

Being thrifty is not the same as being a cheapskate or a miser.  It doesn't mean never having fun or dressing like a prairie dog.  It's using what you have with intent and purpose.  It means making smart, conscious choices with your resources so you CAN splurge on the things that are important to you - have a nest egg - build an emergency fund.  It means creating a way to live free from the slavery of debt. 

And believe it - debt IS slavery.  Who wants to be Wall Street's bitch?

I've been a single mom for a long time.  Before that, I was a starving college student.  And before that, I was a girl being raised in the country by parents who were raised by Depression-era homesteaders.  Some things I learned growing up; some I picked up along the way; other things I pulled straight from my ass.

So from my ass to your eyes - I humbly offer you the very best of my totally legal tightwaddery.  Enjoy!