Best Frugal Finds

As seen in the Daily Voice 11/3/16 --article by Jeanne Muchnick 

What started as fun and interesting tidbits offered to friends and family -- many with a frugal flair -- has turned into a full-time blog for South Norwalk resident Micki Tiffen, a self-described "information junkie."

Frugal Fairfield , which she started January 2015, is all about living well but not spending a lot.

An anthropologist by training, she says she's always been very curious about the world and about what other people are doing and, as the child of Depression-era babies, has always been smart about spending wisely. By day she's works in market research, so uncovering "gems in the rough" comes as second nature.

"I've basically been doing this informally for years," she said. "People would always ask me about what was going on around town." Then, when she started sharing tips, they told her she should start a website so, as a challenge to herself, she did, figuring there might be a business there.

While it's not a moneymaker -- yet -- Tiffen, a mom of two sons (ages 25 and 23), said she's having fun, especially as more Fairfield County residents discover her.

Because she has a great appreciation for the cultural arts and music, she said she would be doing this anyway, so why not share what she knows?

Among some of her hidden gems: library events as they are great sources for enrichment and entertainment. The New Canaan Library, in particular, offers a series of lectures on art, business and journalism each year. They also have free Tai Chi classes on Mondays.

Tiffen also likes the Wilton Library which, because Jazz Pianist Dave Brubeck lived there, often offers a jazz series, frequently with top-notch performers. The Norwalk Library is another favorite for its author talks.

As for music, Tiffen says the B.R.Y.A.C. (Black Rock Yacht and Athletic Club) in Bridgeport, offers live music four nights a week where you can see up and coming performers as well as better known musicians. Commander Cody played there, in fact, on Oct. 23. It's also, she said, very family-friendly and has an affordable and delicious menu.

The Acoustic, also in Black Rock, is another worthwhile -- and inexpensive -- music venue and sometimes famous musicians show up there. On Oct. 30 Phil Lesh joined the band, Midnight North, which featured his son Grahame Lesh.

Rowayton runs a summer music festival each year where, again, up and coming or well-known bands have played. This past year it was The Record Company. In the past, Tiffen has seen The English Beat, Shakey Graves, Lake Street Dive and Amy Helm.

As the daughter of artists, Tiffen is also big into gallery openings and is a fan of Silvermine Arts Center in New Canaan and the Westport Arts Center, which she says put on great shows.

She also likes 22 Haviland Street Gallery in Norwalk, a space that is also the home of Art Aficionado Dennis Bradbury. And, she likes Art and Sound Gallery in Greenwich, as well as the Flinn Gallery, on the second floor of the Greenwich Library.

Grace Farms in New Canaan also boasts a plethora of book discussions, art installations and movies at low-cost. The SANAA architecture and setting are spectacular, says Tiffen. And, for those who like home decor, C ottages & Gardens Magazine showcases a variety of designer homes and interior design centers and often provides delicious hors d'oeuvres (check their calendar for listings).

Tiffen also blogs on occasion about new food finds. Her favorite space for a hot almond milk matcha latte is Cafe Dolce in Norwalk where, she said, the Hungarian owner makes the most amazing pastries --- and coffee --- she's ever had.