Thrifty tipsAmy Dacyczyn edits the Tightwad Gazette, a...

ON THE HOME FRONT

January 24, 1993|By Elizabeth Large | Elizabeth Large,Staff Writer

Thrifty tips

Amy Dacyczyn edits the Tightwad Gazette, a newsletter with more than 80,000 subscribers, and has a new book out on being frugal. But what does she do with all the money she's earned? Does she take a cruise around the world? Buy a new car? No, she and her husband frugally set up irrevocable trust funds for their kids, give generously to local charities and renovate a 200-year-old house, which they rent for a modest sum to a woman and her three children who were homeless. All this is by way of explaining that Ms. Dacyczyn's book, "The Tightwad Gazette: Promoting Thrift as a Viable Alternative Lifestyle" (Villard, $9.99), is full of money-saving advice from someone whose goals you can admire. Some of the tips may not appeal: "Look for milk with a date that has just expired or is about to expire. Ask the clerk to mark it down . . . and freeze until needed." No, thank you. Some are so obvious they hardly need to be stated: "Write a good letter instead of making a monthly long-distance phone call." But much of the advice is intelligent and perhaps something you hadn't thought of: "You can get stamps by mail with a 'stamp by mail' envelope from the post office [which] pays postage both ways, saving you gas and time traveling there."

When you think of Harborplace you think of jazzy, with-it, contemporary stores. You don't think of antiques shops. And if someone does happen to open one there, you don't expect it to be among the top 10 in sales last month.

But Grey Horse Antiques is there, on the second floor of the Pratt Street Pavilion, and it's doing very well indeed -- despite the fact that there's not one T-shirt or stuffed animal for sale.

Of course, owners Marlene and Craig Hyatt have selected stock appropriate for the location: Their large selection of packable gifts and collectibles is attractive to out-of-towners, and they sell some furniture, mostly small tables and lamps for downtown apartments and condos. Local business people looking for a quick and convenient place to buy gifts this Christmas season were good customers for items like their antique jewelry.

A big attraction is that Grey Horse is one of the few antiques shops in Baltimore that's open at night. Hours are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. (410) 385-0223. When Barbara Gitomer decided to decorate her new house herself, she found she had a real talent for it. Her decorative pillows and window treatments in particular were such a hit with friends and neighbors that last October she decided to go into business for herself.

Creative Accessories by Barbara is the name of the business, but Ms. Gitomer is the first to tell you it's really "by Barbara and Charlotte." Charlotte Hoffer, her mother, lives outside Washington and does the paintings on many of the pillows. These are elegant floral designs, not just pretty pictures. Sometimes Ms. Gitomer uses rich damasks and silks and chintzes, and trims the pillows with elaborate tassels or bullion fringes.

Her customers are furniture stores, designers and individuals who want something beautiful and unusual. Besides decorative pillows, she also makes skirted tablecloths, coverlets for beds, padded headboards and simple window treatments.

Custom-made pillows cost roughly $20 to $75, depending on the size and whether the client provides the fabric. The number for Creative Accessories by Barbara is (410) 363-3829.

A dozen red roses are always nice for Valentine's Day, but here's a gift that will be treasured for years to come. It's a copy of an 18th-century tobacco box in the Colonial Williamsburg collection.

Made of pewter with a brass heart and finial, this small heart box has been newly added to the Williamsburg reproductions program. It measures 6 inches tall and 5 3/4 inches wide; a scaled-down version is 4 1/2 by 4 1/8 inches.

This isn't an inexpensive gift. Manufactured by Kirk Stieff, a full-size reproduction heart box costs $180; the smaller one, $110. For a romantic couple, though, it's a keepsake for a lifetime. Their initials can be engraved 18th-century fashion with first initials above the heart and last initial below.

Heart boxes are available through Colonial Williamsburg's mail order. Call (800) 446-9240 to order or for a catalog.

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