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Blog: Pam's Pennypinching With STYLE

Pam's recounting of how her ancestrally thrifty habits have helped her in modern life in ways none of her foremothers could have imagined!

Showing 10 posts in the Entertainment category for this blog.
Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Finally have made it over some tripwire of the digital revolution - hubby figured out how we could be online Netflix for $6/mo - using a used $89 Nintendo game player! He figured it out talking to a young salesman at an electronics store - & then went & found a used player at a game store! Now - for less than $10 a MONTH we have the flicks it was costing us $5 EACH on cable!

We had recently been lamenting the poor programming on cable & then even finding it hard to find anything to watch on our movie channels or even Pay for View! (Alas, TCM has been showing 50's beach blanket movies & WESTERNS - & WAR movies - none of which I like very much!)

I had heard about the Netflix through the mail, but not online - we have wi fi at home already - so it was al very easy to set up - just added the game controller to our electronic array.  Even I think I can put it on & off.  And NOW if we have already seen the movie (I am terrible at remembering titles) - we DON'T have to PAY for it! Just switch to another flick - as we did last night. We saw a horror flick (I have gotten addicted to those) & The Importance of Being Earnest in a 50's Biritish version in which everyone was playing it in very high style! I especially watched the old dragons of character women. Lady Bracknell is a wonderful part!

At $6/a month, I do wonder how they are going to make MONEY at showing these movies.  But we may very well become even worse couch potatoes than we are - thank heaven for the boat - on which I just read recycled mysteries! (Found a bunch FREE at the library exchange shelf in Ojai - I didn't feel bad about it, because a week or so ago, I had unloaded more than a dozen of the books Bart's wouldn't take for credit - & you know, they were all GONE.) Now the ones in good shape will try to become recyclable via Bart's.

Also finding great deals in HARDBACK books at, off all places, the DOLLARTREE.  I usually go in for vitamins & toothpaste & floss swords, etc. - but in the back they have an interesting jumble of hardcover books for ONE DOLLAR.  I will try to recycle the best of these to Bart's, too!


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Playing Event Planner, sortta
Monday, June 29, 2009

 A dear friend planned a celebration to honor the 40th Anniversary of Stonewall - with a Celtic Communion Service conducted by an Archbishop who was there - I was singing, but I got involved in setting up the event, too.  There were pretty organized, but the outdoor plastic tables & chairs had to be washed OFF.  Luckily my boy scout husband had some soap in the car, which I put in a bucket I found & I used that to clean off everything.

I "fluffed" by taping colored tissue paper to the white plastic tabletops - and for the really dingy tables, I put pieces of the tissue paper under some sheer fabric (old sheer curtains).  It's amazing how elegant that looked! We also had some signs I could put on the tables to decorate them.  I also filled the top of the dry fountain behind where we served with colored tissue to make it "pop" a bit.

Instead of brewing hot tea for the ice tea, as I had been told, I just put the teabags in the urns we had, added water and put them in the sun to make "sun tea."  Worked fine, and as it was a not day, there was no need for any more heat....Ice tea and lemonade are really nice and economical beverages for the summer.  Our lemons came from the tree of one of our circle of friends, too. Fresh real lemonade is so good.  Ditto fresh ice tea.  (I have also made it and put it in punchbowls.) A spring of mint, also from the garden, adds a bit of class.

I wore a linen Donna Karan blouse I had picked up somewhere - which I had had to treat for spots with bleach, and mend the collar slightly - but great for the heat!  And I added a nylon scarf I had gotten at the 99 Cent Store. (Nylon can be great in the heat, as it refuses to WILT.) And I just had to spray my crinkly rayon pants with wrinkle spray - no ironing required and even better for the crinkles as ironing flattens them out too much.  Rayon is a fabric which really suits the D.A. climate.  I put my hair up and added a metallic Dollar Tree headband and wore my thrift shop silver vintage bracelet and my Goodwill black satin ballet flats.  (And again, who knew but me- and now, YOU.) Outfit total = $5 pants/shirt $5??/Scarf $1/headband $1/bracelet $2/shoes $5 = total of @ less than $20.  Not bad.

I also discovered they were having a bookseller at the library where we held the event, and being a book addict, scanned the shelves, and brought home 10 very nice paperbacks for $.50 each!

There also was a raffle associated with the event, and as the odds looked good, I entered and WON a package with a dress,earrings, and a nice bracelet!  - I learned from a woman's magazine years ago that you should always enter "local" contests as the odds are better - and sure, enough, as soon as I put that principle into practice, I, who had never won anything, started to win prizes.  I even won new TV once at the opening of a fancy drugstore!

After the event we broke down, and I saved some flowers from the arrangements that they had had - which otherwise would have ended up in the trash.  I love fresh flowers and greenery and try to get them whenever they are a good deal - and free is always good.  I find that if I take them home and re-cut and re-arrange them, I can make nice arrangements that will often last a week afterwards.

I am known among my friends for not being able to throw anything away - One buddy said, "Watch her, she will take home everything."  Not quite, but I did recycle some tissue paper besides the flowers and some leftovers.  And we pored the excess cold tea into a jug and took that home, too.

I have also helped out over the years with other events my friend has organized - putting final touches on the flower arrangements and so on. That event was quite posh and in the back garden of a Beverly Hills home built on the model of the Petit Transom palace! (and I ended up with skin care samples and pens and a magazine subscription!) Who knew that self-taught flower arranging would turn out to be such a useful skill?

I also sometimes can cut the roses from our little garden plots here at the apartment.  We have a bed of mint, too!

I was really there as part of the choir for the Celtic Service they had.  I have really gotten so much pleasure out of all my music over the years.  I hadn't  sung for a while in a choral group, and it was really nice to get back into - and with such an accomplished bunch, too!  Now that's a frugal pleasure.  Sometimes they even pay YOU.

And home in the evening, I realized from the reaction from my muscles that an added benefit had been a bit of a WORKOUT. (I recently saw an article entitled "Is your housecleaned making you fat?") Let's remember that any activity, housecleaning included,can get you moving...And I was in a lovely shaded garden area, which made it quite nice - and cool...

Lots of freebies and deals and frugalista goings on!




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Huzzah for Ren Faires!
Tuesday, April 29, 2008

It's getting to be outdoor festival weather and I entertained at my first Renaissance Faire - down in Hermosa Beach.  It was a charming, little faire - my favorite type.  And very family-friendly. 

Ren Faires are really great for children.  There is entertainment and the little boys can wave fake swords and dress up like pirates - and the little girls long skirts and tiaras, if they like.  There usually are games for them to play or treasure hunts and the like.  The areas are enclosed, which gives them a degree of security, and the Faire folk are usually very friendly.

I play period music on the autohharp, recorder, and folk harp and sing.  We brought a basket of rhythm instruments - little drums, tamborines, shakers, and a xylophone for the kids to play with and had a rhythm band.  I love rhythm bands and don't know why they have gone out of style - great introductory musical practice.

Of course, I think the best and most economical way to participate in the Faires is to become a participant - either by being an entertainer or as a member of a "Guild" or group that sets up camp and dresses and acts in a period manner.  You can go all out in terms of dress - but here are some budget tips:

  • Dress "organic"  - make sure your clothes are made out of cotton or wool.  Preferably in nubby  or rough textures.  Synthetics can pass if they are really good fakes.  People do wear vegan vinyl boots and belts, etc.
  • Wear a hat - It covers your hair, and you will need it for the sun.  A straw one is just right for the summer - but you can also wear felt and crocheted hats/caps.  Think of putting on a colorful band, and some flowers or feathers.
  • You can usually get away with a simple pleasant costume, that is for the females - a full-length peasant skirt, with a petticoat, if desired; and a peasant blouse.  No collars or button closings.  Gathered necks prefered.  The skirt can be of Indian gauze, kettle cloth or even light blue denim - so raid your closet. 
  • They wore bodices - so look for vests to put over your peasant blouse - or use a leather belt.
  • For men - an "organic" tunic, belt, and full blousey pants.
  • Shoes - wear sandals or slippers.
  • Then there is the decoration.  Long-time Ren Faires participants pile on the necklaces ( men, too) and pin "favors" on their hats, bodices, etc.  They also wear bags connected to their belts.
  • Fans are nice if it's hot.
  • Ethnic clothing and ethnic embroidery are nice accents. So an Indian shirt will make a nice top.
  • It's so much easy since "boho" is in style - as there are lots of choices out there & probably in your closet.

Of course, there are purists out there dressed in authentic reproductions of period garb - but it's not necessary. I don't know how they stand those clothes in the summer heat, anyway.

The best way to enjoy it is to get dressed up and spend the day.  Listen to the music.  Watch the jugglers and the dancers - Eat the food - or bring a picnic.  You can save by bringing your own water or drinks.  We like to have ice tea - it's good and inexpensive.  You can bring a container or just have ice water and add powdered instant.

The participants can even camp - gratis - on the faire site.  We have done that, and as faires are usually in pretty places, it adds to the experience.  (You could use your regular tent, as rules relax after hours.)

So all in all - we had a lovely weekend by the sea - made enough tips to pay for the food - and earned some $, too.  That's what I call a win/win situation.



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Gala Glam vs. prom dress
Friday, October 05, 2007

I love dressing up - it's the little girl in me who used to play with dolls - My mother used to say that the dolls were better dressed than we were! And I am a performer and I live in Hollywood - so over the years I have developed the habit of collecting pieces of fancy clothing  when I run into them and they are real bargains.  Sometimes they sit in the closet for a while - but almost all of them get worn, eventually!

Well, last night was such an evening.  Through friends who work at the Los Angeles Music Center we got invited to the gala opening at Disney Hall of the L.A. Symphony season - a black tie event!  And, I had just the thing to wear....No you are wondering what this has to DO with frugality - well - for one thing, the tix were FREE.  (on the internet the tix were $1,500 to $10,000!!).  It was a performance by Essa Pekka Salonen, the L.A. Philharmonic and the famed American opera diva, Renee Fleming. Whew.  What a beautiful concert.  (And we parked in an adjacent parking lot for $8.00 instead of the Disney Hall's $18.00.) 

I wore a fabulous gold brocade jacket that I had picked up a year ago in a resale shop in Santa Barbara - I think it was on sale - It is actually the sort of material they make obis out of, and just gorgeous.  I wore that over an empire waist black jersey dress I had gotten at my local Out of the Closet (I think it was even new) for about $10 and shoes from my shoe archive - and a necklace I had splurged on at an Oxnard craft faire - and my 99 Cent Store earrings and a purse from an Oxnard thrift shop, a ring I had gotten at HSN. 

It was, as my husband said, the $200 outfit - but I was holding my own again the thousands of dollars gowns of the rich gala ladies - so much so, that I was ushered into the VIP area and treated to free champagne!  It was fascinating to observe all those people - more so because I am an actress, and I catalogue people to draw upon later.  Who knows if I will play a rich socialite some day soon? 

It was like being Cinderella at the ball, and I really did enjoy myself.  Who needs a prom? 

But it underlines what I have said about prom dresses and gala attire in general.  I had acquired the pieces separately, with a mind to building an outfit (or 2 or 3) - at a bargain price.  I didn't have to pay hundreds of dollars for a polyester dress I would never wear again! I would rather invest in these pieces, which I can wear over and over. ( I have a silk brocade smoking jacket I got for $35 which I wore to the opera, and has many more wearings in it.  I have a beaded black shirt, I have also worn to the opera with black pants.)

I have a collection of jewelry to choose from to accessorize my outfit(s), too.  I even have a copper sequined jacket which was a steal which I haven't WORN yet.  But I will...

And I can do my own hair and makeup - that comes from working in the theatre...Actually when I do it, it turns out better than any makeup artist's job, because I know my face better than they do. 

So all of this is possible on a shoestring by developing your own taste and skill!  And at the last minute, too.  So remember that girls when you are whining about prom dresses... and it will serve you well later when you have to do glam on a budget.

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Monday, September 17, 2007

Just wrote an article on about doing your own PR, which as an actress/musician is an on-going task, as one always has to put one's face out there to try to get work.  It's like going down to the fishing hole everyday....Because I have never had $ to pay anyone else, I had to learn to do it myself.  And I must say, I can do a decent job of it, as good as anyone I could AFFORD.  The only trouble is that you are then asked by everybody to do some (mostly gratis) PR for them.  I have done a little - but then they EXPECT it on a regular basis...ugh...I have to learn to say "no."  That's hard - but it's so time consuming and I have other things to do - like LOOK for WORK. (and do my own PR)...

As a result of writing articles on associatedcontent, I hooked up with a guy up in Oak View who writes about horror by the name of Wes Laurie, and he asked to interview me for this site called terrortube.  It's at and I think it turned out very well.  See - the results of my diligence!

Oh, and I also managed to post some music on my musical group, Panoply's myspace music acct.  See it at  I feel like a genius!  And all it took was sweat equity.  I love that.



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More on movies
Monday, July 09, 2007

Last time I wrote I mentioned an expensive trip to the Arclight - ironically my NEXT trip was FREE!  I ran into passes at the local film school when I was showing my husband around and we saw a free screening of INTRODUCING THE DRUCKERS with free popcorn & drinks! (great movie, by the way...)

I decided to look for more screenings and by surfing the net I found  - they have listings of screenings you can sign up for all over the country!  I have rsvp'd for Hairspray and the next week Charlie Bartlett! At $10+ a head (plus all the free popcorm we got) the free passes were worth about $50!!

The rest of the time I watch movies on cable - See lots of great old movies on TCM and offbeat ones on IFC.   I like to watch French movies to keep my French from disappearing.


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Worth the $???
Thursday, June 21, 2007

A friend took my husband and me to the superduper upscale movie house - the Arclight - for a matinee of the French film PIAF.  I enjoyed it, and it helped dust off what remains of the French I learned in high school - but the tix were twice as much as my husband and I pay for matinees up in Oxnard, where we spend weekends! 

And everything else was more expensive, too!  It was a nice experience, but no more so than any clean suburban theatre.  But even with the Senior Citizen discount my ticket was almost $10.  (Yes, I will admit my age for discounts, I have no pride that way...) And the seats weren't cushier or anything - altho there is a nice gift shop and a cocktail lounge in the spacious lobby....

We actually love to go to the movies and sit in the dark - and it's true that the suburban theatres often only have kid stuff & we stand there & can't find anything to SEE.  But still - it's expensive!  I hate to spend $20 on 2 tix to a movie I know will show up soon on cable!  I would rather go out to eat.  No wonder movie audiences are declining! 

Of course, it encourages just cocooning and staying around the house - but we find other ways to get out  - ones that aren't as pricey....


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Weekends on the boat etc
Wednesday, June 20, 2007

My husband & I spent another frugal weekend on the boat for his birthday...It was Father's Day weekend, so there wasn't much going on - but there was a vintage car show at the harbor to look at on the way to the Farmer's Market on Sunday morning.  Oh, I remembered some models from my youth!

We ended up doing our thrift shop excursions...& went to one we hadn't been to before.  Well - Mark made out like a bandit!  He got 2 nice golf-t-shirts, and 2 pairs of Dockers, and 2 pairs of shorts (originally from Nordstrom) and a bathing suit! All for something like $10! (a value of $100+)

I got a pair of summer boat shoes for $2 and some really nice dressy mules - $2  - and a bunch of very nice old books - at $1 & $2 - and 2 t-shirts for myself at $1 each.  I don't feel too bad about my shopping at yard sales/thrift shops, because that's the only place I seem to shop nowadays!

I got Mark to stop off at a funky looking yard sale - saying that the worst looking places often have the best stuff - & sure, enuf - I got a whole bunch of bath products and some makeup & 2 pocket atomizers for $5...and a facial steamer I cam going to try the next time my sinuses give me a hard time for $1.  And with a collectible doll for $2 the lady threw in a whole bunch of those big nail files and a portable mirror! 

I have theories about places - such as the funky looking places sometimes have deals  - and that old lady thrift shops are great, becaz all the retirees who are downsizing, etc. donate their things there...and you can find old things, collectibles.  And the pricing varies tremendously in old lady stores...Overpriced and underpriced - Guess which I buy.

Also - it's good to go to yard sales at the END of the day for real bargains, as then the folks running it just want to get RID of everything & the prices plummet & you can haggle....

There are also places out of the way which seem to get new merchandise from specialty stores - Probably the ends of things which they just donate to the charity which end up in the thrift store.  One I know of seems to have that kind of stuff on a regular basis & I always hunt around for items for gifts, and so on.  I got a nice summer bag - new - for $2. (probably $15-20 in a store)...

I have to say that from shopping on the cheap so regularly I find myself shocked by the prices of things in STORES!  And yet I manage to dress quite nicely, I think....and no one is the wiser....




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Off to the boat
Friday, February 16, 2007

My husband & I have a 28ft. sailboat in a local harbor less than 2 hrs. from the city.  It's an extravagance on the one hand - but we do try to go up there as much as possible.  And since the boat is big enuf for my husband to stand up in - we have rigged it out as our little weekend cottage by the sea to enjoy even if we don't actually take it out!

I never thought I would do this - as my parents didn't like being restricted to one holiday place - but it is so beautiful there, I dont' mind just getting to know ONE place very well...

And considering how much hotel rooms would cost - it really is a bargain!  One weekend at a motel would cost more than 1/2 of our slip fee!!

It's been rainy, so we haven't been able to go - but this is a holiday weekend coming up - so off we go for the long weekend...whew. It really is nice to get AWAY!  And the boat is THERE so we don't have to worry much about breaking the budget - as it has already gone into the mix....

Thank heaven my husband is a sailor & also likes to tinker - we got a good deal on the boat, too - (Note: boats really depreciate enormously - so do consider used boats as an economic alternative if you have the expertise or good advice....)




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Elegant Freebies
Thursday, February 01, 2007

The best parties are the ones you get into that are FREE.  I just went to the media event of a local elegant Italian restaurant and had lots of food and wine showing off their new menu.  They always give stuff away to those who don't NEED anything - for their own purposes, of course.  And there are always advertising parties/receptions around in a big city.  Get on as many mailing lists as you can -and if you are writing here - you are media of sorts, so take advantage of that status.  My friend writes travel articles and just got a trip to PARIS for free and brought me back an elegant La Coste bag they gave out on the lst class flight!

Of course, in these circumstances, you had better have the wardrobe.  I pull out my best stuff for these events - mostly thrift shop things - but my designer clothes are all from thrift shops!  I have also gotten free theatre/concert tix and movie tix at Oscar time (my other hat is that of an actress).

For a while I was the local area representative for my college back East - because I knew that it entailed a FREE trip to NYC yearly. I used to go back and spend the rest of the time with my parents every year.  A nice perk.  It was work, but the trip was payment enough and I got invited to other events during the year.  (But again, I had to dress and be presentable.)

Note:  If you go to a freebie party or event, don't try to take home the chandelier! My friend has worked on parties where the guests tried to bring antiques on display home and all his friends were recruited to keep an eye on things!  I have gotten free subscriptions/samples and other goodies - but it's tacky to grab at everything - and you risk not being asked again! Look what has happened to the celebrity goody bags - they got so valuable and the celebs & everyone around them got so greedy that now the IRS is on their tail.  (So the stuff isn't free anymore, is it?)

But on the other hand, even around the fringes there is stuff out there - I am in L.A. - so there is more - but keep your eye out for what's available in your neighborhood.



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