Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Can you pass up a free drink?

Congratulations to our very own:

  • Rhys Bowen, Heirs and Graces, nominated for The Bruce Alexander Memorial Historical Mystery Award
  • Susan Elia MacNeal, His Majesty's Hope, ALSO nominated for The Bruce Alexander Memorial Historical Mystery Award
  • Hank Phillippi Ryan, The Wrong Girl, nominated for The Squid: Best mystery set within the United States 
And now, back to our regular program...
HALLIE EPHRON: So I am embarrassed to tell you this (but it's not going to stop me from telling). I ended up with a 'free drink' coupon on a recent flight. Airplane leaves at 10 AM, arrives at 2:30. I am so not interested in wine, beer, and certainly not a single of vodka with the nice corn beef sandwich I picked up at TFI Friday's in the airport. But I am constitutionally unable to turn down a free drink.
So I get a beer. "No glass please, and don't open it." And take it home with me.

I also end up with free snacks (Jet Blue) lining my purse because I take one even when I don't feel like eating it.

This seems crazy, like I'm turning into my aunt who used to clean out the bread basket after a restaurant meal. She'd carried a little plastic bag in her purse and dump the remaining bread into it (while I hid under the table). Her excuse was that she grew up in the Depression. So what's mine??

Can you pass up a freebie?

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Oh, my gosh .We are the same person. EXACTLY what I would have done. And I take the free nuts on JetBlue "for later." Here's my rationale. I mean--it's ours. So why should they tell us when to  have it?

Yeah, and that's why they've kind of stopped the "All you can eat" salad bars and dinner bars. Because people would feel compelled to take SO MUCH FOOD since it was free-ish. So now they call them--have you noticed this?--"all you care to eat."

I also take the tea bags out of my hotel room every day so they will leave me new ones. I can't believe I'm confessing this. (I do not take the coffee or little packs of Sweet and Low, however.") I don't take the soap anymore. at least. Unless it's really good soap.

HALLIE: Laughing, Hank! I'm trying to get my husband to STOP taking the soaps and shampoos. Running upstairs right now to show you why...

RHYS BOWEN: I confess to taking the soaps and shampoos (when they are good, as in Marriott) because I've paid for them and I put them in my guest basket at home. But I don't do the free drink coupons on planes, even though Southwest gave me a whole bunch once, but I always seem to be flying early morning and I don't want to arrive not at my scintillating best.

I was brought up in those lean post war years and we simply didn't waste food, so I hate going to restaurants and having to leave half the portion on my plate. But I can't take it with me when I'm on the road. So I usually end up just having the appetizer these days. But at home I'm not too proud to ask for a doggy bag, even at the fanciest restaurants.  Of course the fancier the restaurant, the tinier the portion...

DEBORAH CROMBIE: I stopped taking the free shampoos for the guest bathroom because I got tired of cleaning them out of the storage basket a year later and throwing them away...

Hallie, giggling at you.  I can't take a free drink home with me from the plane because I don't drink beer, and I think on the mixed drinks they just pour you something. I will take food home in a "doggie" box if it's something that will reheat, because I can almost never eat a whole portion. Like Rhys, I often just get an appetizer when traveling.

And Hank, I do the same thing with the hotel tea bags!LUCY BURDETTE: Tee hee, no beer, no tea bags, no hotel shampoos. I guess I'm the spendthrift in the bunch! I will take doggie bags though, definitely. Then we fight over who gets the good stuff for lunch.

: I can't believe I've fallen in with other women who take the tea bags in order to get more. Also, the little Sweet-n-low packs, because they never have enough in those in the hotel coffee machine tray.

I have stopped taking the little shampoos and soaps, in part for Debs' reason - they really build up fast!- and in part because I'm always carrying my luggage aboard and bagging the wee liquids for the TSA check is a PITA.

However! For those of you who can't pass them up, I have a great way to get them out of your bathroom: homeless shelters, women's shelters and food banks can all use them for their clients.
As for the general concept of passing up a freebie... I'm getting a lot better at just saying no. Do I need it? Do I want it? Will I use it? If I can't answer yes to all three, then I'll leave the freebie on the table.

SUSAN ELIA MACNEAL: Free shampoo? Yes, because we give it to a local women's shelter. Doggie bags? Yes, isn't it always better the next day? Tea bags? No. But I was raised by depression-era parents, so even if that's not my generation per se, I'm very careful with things. I darn socks!

HALLIE: Susan, you DARN SOCKS?! I find this more impressive than writing a novel.

So here's our Jungle Red Cheapskate's Challenge...

Do you 

__ Take home leftovers?
__ Take hotel shampoos?
__ Take hotel teabags?
__ Take Sweet 'n' Lo packets?
__ Darn socks?
And finally, do you find you are
__ Unable to pass up a free drink or bag of Terra Blues?

What would you add??


  1. My wife's Lebanese aunts were notorious, banned from most restaurants near their home in Asbury Park. I wouldn't eat out with them, but they felt entitled to the establishment's bread and bread basket, the butter, the salt and pepper shakers, the ketchup, mustard, and relish jars. All of their silverware and dinnerware came from restaurants. The two sisters lived together all their lives -- and carried huge purses. And I'm not going to tell you how they got the house they lived in.

  2. Leftovers? Yep, I always take them home . . . the portion is always more than I can eat, it’s always good, and it always re-heats, and I’d feel guilty about simply throwing it away. As for the bread, if you liked it, you might as well add it to your take-home box since the restaurant is simply going to throw it away. If I’m traveling and cannot take it with me, I don’t order a meal that is going to give me more food than I can eat right there in the restaurant . . . .
    Hotel shampoos? Used to take one occasionally; don’t any more because I try to never check a bag and then I’d have to deal with the TSA folks . . . it’s not worth the hassle just to have a small bottle in my guest basket.
    Tea bags? Sure do take them out of the basket; coffee, too. Why? Because there are never enough in the basket in the first place and those TSA folks give you really strange looks if you try to bring it with you from home . . . .
    Sweet ‘n’ Low? Nope; I can pass those up without a second thought.
    Darn socks? Holes in socks are the bane of my existence so I sure do darn them.
    Free drink? I could pass it up, even with a coupon, if it was too early to have a drink on the plane, but I’d take the snack stuff. Even if I didn’t eat it, the grandbabies will enjoy them. Last trip I made, though, there wasn’t a single snack in sight . . . .
    I never go to the grocery store without an armful of reusable bags . . . the store gives a few cents credit for each of them, which is nice, but I despise those miserable plastic things, so I always bring my own . . . .

  3. I wouldn't take the drink because it's too heavy, but I always take the snack for when I'm hungry a little later. I can never eat the piece of bread or chips Panera gives you with your meal (Why do they give you bread with a sandwich? I also don't get why someone would eat breadsticks with pizza). And I love those sesame sticks they serve you in diners.

  4. Jack Getze I do hope you're going to put those two in a book. Arsenic and Old Larcenous Aunts.

  5. Yes to taking leftovers home. I can nearly always get at least 3 more meals out of a restaurant meal; they serve way too much.

    Sometimes Yes and sometimes No to shampoos. If I'm trying to travel lightly, I'll leave mine home and use the ones at the hotel. I'm glad that more and more people are taking them home to give to shelters, though. An organization I belong to used to hold annual meetings at a hotel, and one of the members asked us if we would be willing to donate any of the little toiletries to a shelter in her home town that was supported by her church. I've always thought that was a good idea.

    I usually use all the teabags while I'm at the hotel, so No, I don't take them home. And I don't use sweeteners so there's no reason for me to take them home.

    Susan! I'd be willing to PAY you to teach me to darn socks! It seems to me that the more I pay for the socks, the more likely they are to develop holes after about six washings. The cheap socks I buy never end up with holes. What's up with that??

    And I don't take drinks or snacks from planes. I haven't flown in about six years and at that time we were lucky to receive three chips in a snack bag, and I ate them on the plane!

  6. Oh Shizuka - a question for the ages: "Why do they give you bread with a sandwich?"

    Sesame sticks? Where?? It's conjuring a memory of bowls of crispy Chinese noodles that used to come for free... now the only place I can find them is in a can.

  7. Oh, too too funny!

    BUT - First things first.

    CONGRATULATIONS on these nominations, ladies! wow. I have completely lost track of who I have already congratulated and who I haven't. SO many terrific honors for so many well-deserving friends. Makes me feel like a proud mama.

    And Jack? You made me hoot out loud, which is a grand way to start the day. thank you.

    Like Hallie, I have spent some time trying to wean my husband from bringing home shampoos and soaps from hotels. But, like Susan, I finally added them to my bags of things to take to our local women's shelter.

    My mother cannot help herself at an "all you care to eat" restaurant. I've just given up trying to hide under the table. Now I feel as though it's my duty, as a good daughter, to make sure she has a plastic baggie for her cookies so she won't have a lot of crumbs in the bottom of her purse. (did I just stumble onto a topic for my post on Sunday? "Good Daughter or Cookie Theft Enabler")

  8. Deb Romano - 3 MORE (!) meals? I thought I was doing well by eking 2 more meals out of my leftovers.

    I vote for a lesson from Susan on darning socks! Maybe a future blog?? Do you need one of those wooden darning ball thingies or can I use a wooden pestle?

  9. Yes, congrats Reds--so proud of you all!

    ARSENIC AND OLD LARCENOUS--Hallie, you and Jack should go to work for Berkley:)

    Kaye, I think the plastic bag is a good move. You don't want creatures moving into your mom's purse...

  10. Congratulations to all the Reds who have been nominated for awards! And so impressive that so many people from one blog are nominated for awards regularly! (This is why I'm never caught up on my reading:-)

    Hallie, some of the restaurants around here just serve way too much food. If I have a large salad with my meal when I have the leftovers, I'm more than full with just a small portion. A few area restaurants have started serving smaller portions, and sometimes even the smaller portions are too big.

  11. Oh, Kaye, I'll want to read about cookie theft enabling. And the other crazy things we do for the people we love...

  12. I used to take leftovers home, until we found the half of a T-bone steak in the backseat of the car—for the third time.

    I have to admit to having taken K-Cups home from the hotel, extra if they had Starbucks or Tim Hortons.

    My sister-in-law is the champ, though. I won't eat with her in public. She orders a children's plate Then asks for seconds. After the seconds arrive at the table, she asks for a take-home container.

  13. I take home leftovers if I enjoyed the meal, and maybe soap/shampoo if I like them. Not always. I have never darned socks but a pair I like is starting to wear, so maybe darning is in my future.

    I once (briefly) dated a guy who didn't believe in buying condiments because "you can get them for free!" He had a bunch of mayo, mustard, and ketchup packets in his fridge. Talk about a relationship killer.

    Congrats on the nominations! Well done, ladies.

  14. Sock darning! I forgot! I darn socks. I have my grandmother's wooden sock darner. I'm so glad I do, because the ones I've seen in the store recently are made out of plastic and do not have a handle which means I wouldn't be able to use it.

  15. Reine, I'm not riding in the back of your car.

    Speaking of steak... I confess that it makes me nauseous just to see a 16 oz steak offered on a menu, never mind lapping over the edges on a plate. And then they pile on the fries.

    My favorite deal is the 6 ounce filet mignon. Just enough. Speaking of which, the steak in Dallas last weekend (I was there for the Dallas Area Romance Authors) was spectacular.

  16. PS about my sister-in-law... have you ever heard of anyone asking for seconds in a restaurant! It's not like she doesn't have the ability to pay for it!!!

  17. Once I asked if I could take the bread home (French restaurant in Bethesda, MD), and they gave me a whole baguette!

    Yes, of course, doggie bag.

    My husband travels so much that he can go to the airline lounges . . . not only does he collect soap and shampoo from hotels, but he brings home food from the lounges. At Heathrow they have nice shortbread cookies.

    Congratulations to all. What amazes me is how generous all the Reds are with their time and energy and fun.

  18. So many fellow sock darners out there! (Joan, Reine!) I had no idea... Well, my grandmother taught me how, probably circa 1975 or so. I don't have a fancy darning egg, just use a tennis ball... What can I say, I have some nice socks and want to keep them! : )

  19. Susan Elia MacNeal: But where do you buy the thread??

  20. I may be cured of my "take it home" habit. Did it with one of those cute, tiny jars of honey you sometimes get with breakfast. (C'mon it was Hawaiian honey.) Opened in my suitcase on the flight, After cleaning up the morning suitcase was teeming with ants. So disgusting.

    Darning..who knew? Question...there's a tiny hole in your ridiculously expensive Frette sheet. Do you have it fixed or use for rags?

  21. Rosemary Harris: ICK! Reminds me of when we stayed in a tent platform on Costa Rica and were warned: no food in the room. Ants were swarming our toothpaste.

    I have a similar question on darning. I have a terrific VERY old down coat with a silk shell that's got a bad tear in it. I'd HAVE it fixed if I knew where to take it?? Suggestions, anyone??

  22. OH, Ro, the ANTS. I cannot believe it. HOrrible. (When I steal honey, I put it in a plastic bag.) (It's not really stealing, I know. It's taking what was given to me and not wasting it.)

    Is it true that if you OPEN the shampoos and etc in your hotel room the cleaning people get to keep them? Hmm.

    And RO, the sheets. I'd fix them. I mean--who's gonna see? I bought Frette towels when we were in ROme a million years ago. When I washed them, they shrank. I called, concerned. Oh, the salesperson told me, you have to IRON the towels.


    Anyway, I would not use Frette sheets for rags. (Whoa, there's a first world question ,right?)

  23. Super congrats (once again) to all the Reds nominated at Left Coast Crime! (This is the most-nominated set of bloggers in the country, I think.)

    __ Take home leftovers? Always if I'm not on the road, and when I am, like Rhys and Debs, I order an appetizer because I can never eat a whole entree at once.

    __ Take hotel shampoos? Used to, but I'm traveling too much to bother with it now.

    __ Take hotel teabags? I do, so they'll bring me more. To drink in the room. They never give enough.

    __ Take Sweet 'n' Lo packets? To go with the tea bags.

    __ Darn socks? You betcha! I knit wool socks for my whole family (sometimes from my handspun), and they wear like iron, but when my husband or son finally wears a hole, I pull out the darning egg and repair them.

    I can pass up a free drink easily, since I can't drink at all anymore due to the meds I take. Free snacks I might take for later--if it was something I really liked.

    It's been fun catching up with the Reds this morning. I've been out of circulation due to illness for a while. Missed you guys! (Note for Hank re: regional idioms.)

  24. Congrats on the nominations!!!

    If I didn't eat everything on my plate, I would absolutely take left overs home. However, I don't take the bread or the soaps in hotels, etc.

  25. Hallie, go to a needlework or quilt shop. You can buy silk thread and thin needles with big eyes (to keep from damaging the silk thread). Take very shallow (just through the surface fabric of the shell) stitches, going in on one side and coming out on the other, then repeat it, then move up just about a thread's worth of space and repeat all the way up the tear.

    This will only work if the fabric is still sturdy enough. If it's worn thin and fraying, you will need to buy a small amount of silk (larger than the tear) to sew on as a patch. Silk is a delicate-feeling fiber but actually one of the very strongest, so it's definitely worth repairing.

  26. And the WINNER of the MAcMIllan audio version of THE WRONG GIRL is LIBBY DODD!

    Libby, email me at h hryan at whdh dot com with your address. Hope you love it...

  27. Thanks, Linda R! I wonder if I can weave it through the middle... because there's an actual hole.

  28. You darn socks, Susan?
    When I was first married my new husband suggested that I might darn his socks because his mother did that. I tried. Nasty looking mess at toe.
    Never done it since.
    And yes, I also give the soaps etc to homeless shelters.

  29. Linda Rodriguez, we have dearly missed you! Hope you're feeling better.

    Did anyone else's mother or grandmother have a darning or mending box? I never remember my mom sitting down to watch TV without her darning box. Where she found all those things to darn, I can't imagine...

  30. Hallie, if there's an actual hole, I'd go for a patch. Darning a woven fabric like a coat lining is going to be very tough because the threads are all so very tiny, and you can't separate out the layer you want to reweave to lay across a support (like a wooden darning egg). It can be done, but it would really take someone experienced, and I wouldn't suggest it for a first try.

    However, if you're feeling courageous, here's one way to go about it. First, take the silk thread and needle and stitch (carefully through only the surface layer of the shell) around the edge of the hole back from any raveling threads. This will keep it from unraveling further, strengthen the fabric where you'll be anchoring your threads, and give you and edge to lock your threads onto. (Unlike a sock, the little bit of ridge this might make won't make a difference.)

    Next, with a thread as thin as the original threads that were woven into the cloth, find an original thread at the top of one side of the hole, take you needle into the cloth on the outside of the reinforcement stitching and come up right next to it on the inside. Follow the path of the original thread across to the other side of the hole and take the needle in on the inside of the stitching, coming up on the outside. Look for the next tiny original thread directly under the one you just did and repeat. Repeat all the way to the bottom of the hole, always staying only in the surface layer and being careful not to catch up the stuffing or backing.

    Turn the whole garment so that the threads you've sewn crosswise are now lined up and down vertically. Now start at the bottom of one side and repeat the whole process following the original threads, except this time you will weave your needle in and out, over and under, first one thread and then the next of your original sewing. (That has become your warp, and you're now weaving in your weft.) Use your needle side to pack these threads down to make room for the others above. It will get very tight at the top of the hole. AND stay careful on not catching any of the other materials underneath the surface fabric.

    It's a long slow process with tiny threads. You might want to reconsider a patch if you can find a good match in silk fabric. But the reweaving can be done if you are willing to take the time and have the patience.

    Good luck!

  31. Thanks, Debs! I'm definitely on the mend after a setback with the pneumonia.

    I still have my grandmother's mending box. I try to get it out once a month to mend things, but I'm not always good about that. Mending is like knitting or spinning--good for relaxation and for letting creative ideas and solutions bubble to the surface.

    It's probably because I grew up so poor. it hurts me to have to throw something still usable away. And I too often have to with small appliances because no one will fix them any longer. But with fabrics and fibers, I can still fight that fight. :-)

  32. I only darn FAVORITE socks-- 100% cotton ones that fit comfortably (of course, those are the ones that wear out fastest because I wear them the most.)

    If I LIKE the shampoo, I use it (or take it with me to the gym/pool). If I don't, I donate it (and most of the other amenities) to the local battered women's shelter.

    I use the snacks at home, and would certainly take a drink home (I took home wonderful sake from my flight out of Narita). I always take doggie bags when there is food left (and seldom share them with the dog).

    And about that bread/those rolls left in the basket? They have to throw them away once they are served. We are a wasteful people-- it is a shame to waste those.

  33. My Mother once casually commented that she loved the knives at a particular restaurant. She was with my Aunt, who secretly put four of them in my Mom's purse. Weeks later, my Mom wondered why her purse was so heavy and I watched her empty her purse only to find the knives. I'm not sure she has yet forgive my Aunt for turning her into a thief.

    I've never gone that far, but I do take the soaps and shampoos if they are ones I particularly like. I would never buy something like ginger vanilla soap, but then I try it and love it.

    Also often have leftovers boxed up and proceed to forget the box when I leave. Has become a running joke among my friends. "Could you box that up for Kris so that he can forget it."

  34. Kristopher: great story about the knives. Mmm ginger vanilla soap.

  35. Congratulations on the nominations

    I love leftovers -- so yes to that. And I still snap up the shampoos sometimes, especially when from hotels I've never been to before. I like the idea of donating them.

    Darn socks--I'm impressed by the number of darners in the group. I wouldn't know where to begin.

    Deb, my mom had a mending box -- a hard-shell affair with a rainbow array of thread stored in the top shelf ... In fact, I'm very sentimental about it (for some reason, since I'm the least domesticated person I know) and hope she still has it.

  36. I'm afraid I do most of those, and the little shampoo bottles do end up going to one of our church charities - except for the Crabtree & Evelyn, I treat myself to those. The only thing I cannot believe you omitted is free bookmarks. We often visit book shoppes on vacation so I will take two bookmarks - one to use and one to put in our vacation scrapbook.

  37. Yes to doggie bags. Sometimes they mysteriously disappear before I can get to them. I have a feeling my son is behind that.
    I bring home hotel soaps if they're particularly nice. My husband travels a lot so he's always hauling home hotel toiletries. Some get used, some sit in a guest basket; many of them just age. I'll take the tea bags and the K-cups too. Hotels tend to be a bit chinchy with them.
    As for darning, not so far, but I should try it. My good wool socks are always getting thin at the toes. I have Grandma's wooden darning egg. Just need a little instruction as to materials and technique.
    Add my congratulations too! So many nominations in this group!

  38. I DO have my mother's mending basket. Which is hilarious since I never saw her sew a stitch (or wash a dish.)

    I used to sew my own and baby clothes, so it's seen a lot of use.

  39. Kristopher, your story about the knives reminds me of the time [many years ago] we were in a restaurant and the Princess was about a year old. The server gave her a large spoon to play with and when it was time to go, she had a death grip on that spoon and refused to leave it behind . . . . After much to-do, the manager told me what it would cost for her to keep it; I paid the restaurant for the spoon and she took it with her . . . .

  40. I always take leftovers. Case in point, a group of us would go to Abilene Kansas just to have the family style fried chicken dinner at a local restaurant. We would take a little cooler with us to keep the fried chicken cool for the trip home to Topeka. Too much ?? And a big "yes" to tea bags and Splenda packets. I always have some in my purse.
    As for darning socks, that I don't do, but I do collect wooden sock darners though.

  41. Reine: I have an Italian restaurant in Jersey City I want to take your sister-in-law to, have her ask for seconds after ordering a child's plate. Attilio will take her to the 'splaining department. :)

  42. Congratulations to all the JRWs nominated at Left Coast Crime!!!!! xoxoxoxoxo <3

  43. Linda! It is so good to see you back here... I can't possibly express how much I have missed your comments—here and elsewhere. xoxoxo

  44. Jack... I'll send her right over... thank you.

  45. Hallie... no you must never ride in the back of my car. I thought I left the chicken livers behind at the market. The next time we opened the door to the car the stench made two of the kids throw up. I wondered aloud how the livers got under the driver's seat when all the groceries were in the back department of the van. The two kids who threw up pointed at the third... "I don't like them, Mummy."

    One day the van caught on fire when there was a leak in the fuel line. No one cried.

  46. Reine: HOWLING!

    Worst thing we ever had was a dead apple in the trunk. Car stank for years.

  47. Oh, Reine! Just choked on my drink of water.

    I have so missed my funny JRW pals!

  48. Ok, between th eknives in the purse and the chicken livers, I'm laughing... By the way, I'll drn a favorite pair of socks, but I didn't say I was good. Linda, you really know your stuff!

  49. Omg... I take tea bags, coffee, soaps, name it. If I don't use it, it goes to our food pantry, or my friend's 501C Bags of Hope Central Florida. My friend started it when she kept running into homeless people...she , her husband and the team take bags do food/toiletries to homeless and to our poorer schools. Sorry for the commercial but that's where my stuff goes if I don't use it.

    No to socks. But I might start, because the kids are all into those sport socks that cost, (are you sitting down??) $14-18 a PAIR. The Jordache jeans of this generation.