Monday, March 31, 2014

Estate Sale Leftovers: The Ridiculous

Hello! With the buyer closing on my parents' house tomorrow, the estate sale of their belongings occurred this past Friday and Saturday. Yesterday family members could go to the house to gather up for free anything that had been left unsold. 

I wasn't really expecting much of interest to be left, but I made the 320 mile round-trip anyway mainly to see the house one last time. It'd been in my family 49 years, so it's a bit sad to see it go. 
I was pleasantly surprised to see some of my mom's vintage goods still there; I think this was due to some erratic pricing the estate sale firm had done - as in pricing some items too high. So the buyers likely did what I do in a similar situation: they walked on by. 

Not surprisingly, though, the ridiculous nature of some of the items likely led to them being passed over. I'm a fan of quirky stuff, so I brought them back with me, though not necessarily to keep. 

Here's a prime example of a ridiculous item that's going to the thrift store:

A handmade toiletry tote, made from a placement, elastic and ribbon ties. 

Not a bad idea, but what makes this ridiculous is the toiletries:

Close-up view of some of the toiletries, from top to bottom - disposable razor, Meijer brand toothpaste, small packet of laundry detergent from Best Western, shoe shine cloth from Ramada, Q-tips and small bar of Dial soap. You can tell from the packaging that these items were made decades ago. 

You think I'm exaggerating? Not shown above is the purse-size package of Kleenex. The date on the back: 1978. 

Was this toiletry tote made and and stocked that long ago? I have no way of knowing, but I still couldn't help but wonder why those toiletries weren't discarded before this. It seemed a little creepy to think of what the contents of that toothpaste tube would look like now. I didn't want to find out - it went straight to the trash (as did the rest of the toiletries).

I didn't want to take the tote back with me, but one of my brothers tossed it into the bag of stuff I was taking, so I just brought it along.

Another ridiculous item, as in another "why wasn't this ever used before?"

Full box of staples, dating from somewhere between WWII and the early 1960's (the presence of a two-digit postal code dates it as such). Sure, it takes forever to use a box of staples, but there was plenty of time to do so. 

But since I like vintage stuff, I like the idea of using vintage staples. Tried them in my much more modern stapler, and they worked fine. 

My stapler doesn't look like this, however:

"Aceliner -  World's most beautiful stapler" the advertising insert tucked inside the box of staples proclaimed. That may have been true, but the lame line drawing of the stapler doesn't exactly show off its beauty, does it? 

Perhaps more goofy than ridiculous:

Oddball wooden nut bucket. The upper stave is missing, so the top portion of the bucket is a little loose. I thought it might be cute for holding craft supplies in my studio. Not sure how old it is, and truthfully, I don't remember my folks ever using this. They did have a very nice silver-plated nut bowl that was always on display in the dining room's built-in cabinet. One nice feature of the design was the "branch" near part of the rim, with a squirrel figure perched on top of the branch. There's no way the bucket shown above could ever compete with that! No wonder my folks kept it hidden.

Last ridiculous item of the estate sale, but it's one I do remember being in plain sight:

This plaque used to hang out in my folks' kitchen. Don't know how  old it is, but it just seemed like it was always there. And while I don't know where it came from, either, the sentiment seemed to fit my parents' relationship. My mom was far more energetic than my dad, and would nag a lot to try to get him to do more around the house. But for the record, she was very devoted to him as well. 

I brought this plaque home for amusement value and for a bit of nostalgia. I may not keep it around, but for now, I like its ridiculousness.

Coming up soon: my "sublime" finds from the estate sale!



Friday, March 28, 2014

Thrifty Acres: Secondhand Adventures In Atlanta

Hello! Yes, I like to do secondhand shopping (thrift stores, rummage sales, garage sales) while on vacation. It can be a fun way to collect "souvenirs"; for instance, the Western-themed embroidered piece I paid a quarter for at a church rummage sale in Douglas, Wyoming. What can you find for a mere quarter at the touristy souvenir shops? Maybe a postcard at best! 

So what would I find on a recent trip to Atlanta? As it turned out, nothing that screamed of that area, but I only shopped secondhand at three places, and didn't have much time at each stop. Nevertheless, I was pleased with what came back home with me, such as:

Vintage handkerchief holder (perhaps 1940's?) from the Cathedral of St. Philip thrift store, Atlanta. 

A look at the lining:

Sweet floral print. 

The holder measures 8"x8" and is in good shape. I thought the $1.25 asking price was reasonable. I'll use it for wall display.

Not pictured is the Lands End half-zip fleece pullover that I snapped up for $4.00 at an Atlanta Goodwill. Brand new, this garment is currently on sale for $24.99, but can cost as much as $34.00. (the higher price is likely from the beginning of the cool weather season) Mine looks like new, so I got a good deal. 

Now back to the first stop, the cathedral-run thrift store. From there we had a bit of a walk back to the train station, but the first part of our journey was through the very pleasant-looking Ansley Park neighborhood. And just as pleasant to me as the houses and plantings was the yard sale sign in front of one of the dwellings. I told my husband I wanted to stop and poke around a bit. 

Of course, I was limited to selecting things that wouldn't weigh me down too much on the rest of the walk, but with this in mind, I still managed to find some goodies.

Small pottery tray, 7"x4". I thought the glaze was pretty. The bottom is stamped "Clarksville Pottery". An online search seems to indicate that this is an Austin, Texas gallery. 

Gwen Frostic journal/sketchbook, unused, 6 1/2"x 9 1/2". Gwen Frostic was an artist based in northern Michigan.  She became well-known for her nature-themed block print designs that graced a steady stream of greeting cards, notecards, calendars, journals and other paper goods. Before I started making my own greeting cards, I would use hers when penning a letter or thank-you note.  

A couple of examples from the pages:

Not sure how old this journal/sketchbook is, but an eBay seller calls it "vintage". 

Definitely vintage was a small bag of cake toppers, with a few different styles in it; all Japanese made. Probably all date from the 1950's.

Spun cotton heads with a Halloween theme; these would be considered collectible. 

Wooden (I think) animals heads with painted features and chenille stem "scarves". 

Wooden sailors and boat; painted a bit crudely but still cute! All figures have a hole on top for a candle. (visible on the boat)

Close-up of the above grouping:

With Easter approaching I was interested in a bag of what looked to be four hard plastic Easter figures. Examined one closely and saw it had been made by Rosbro Plastics, based in Providence, RI. The company name wasn't familiar with me, but the figures looked vintage and were lightweight, so I brought them home. 

From eBay, I learned that Rosbro made a lot of plastic holiday figures. They appear to have some collectible value, but prices were all over the place on the listings. My four are probably from the 1950's and range between 5" and 7" high.

 Not visible in the photo above are the holes in the hands; a wheelbarrow was attached to the holes, making this a candy holder. 

This bunny has a rattle inside. 

The egg shape is for holding candy and the wheels make this a pull toy (there's a hole in the small tab in the front of the platform for a pull cord)

Another pull toy, this one is the lone duck of the group. At first it seems ludicrous that the duck is holding a pair of pistols, but it's also sporting a vest and what may be a cowboy-style hat. Westerns were very popular around the time that this figure was made, which might explain the design. 

One eBay seller said that it's rare to find both guns still intact on this figure and priced his version accordingly high. However, another seller priced its duck w/both guns at less than one-third what the first seller was asking. So who knows what it's really worth?

I'm just grateful that I brought these back with me. With the mess caused by the burst water pipe while we were on our trip, they may be the only Easter decorations I put out this year. Better them than nothing! 

And nothing, by the way, is what I paid for every item from the garage sale. It was around 3:00 when we showed up, and while browsing I heard the seller tell another shopper that everything was free! She was at the point that anything left over was heading straight to Goodwill. Kind of made me wish we'd had a car with us...there were some nice skillets but they would have gotten a bit heavy to lug back to the train station. 

Still, I can't complain about my secondhand shopping in Atlanta!



Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Thrifty Acres: The "Evil" Roasting Pan

Hello! Up until about a month ago, I'd never had a roasting pan. When I wanted to roast a turkey or other large piece of meat, I made do with my large rectangular glass baking dish and would cram a small metal cooling rack in the bottom of the dish for draining off drippings. 

I'd use the same large glass baking dish for those times when I wanted to mix up a large batch of a crunchy-type snack mix (ie cereal-based snack mix, caramel corn, etc). 

The casserole dish worked well enough, but even if I greased the pan before putting anything in it, it was a pain to clean. Baked-on grease didn't always come off in the dishwasher and needed further scrubbing by hand. And even a smaller turkey was a bit unwieldy in this dish.

So I decided to look out for a roasting pan at thrift stores; was hoping to find one in good condition and at an acceptable price. 

Mission accomplished:

These are fairly common at thrift stores; mine is about 16"lx13"w. I paid four dollars for it, which I thought was a decent price - I've seen them marked higher for the same size roasting pan. It was in good shape; all it needed was a good scrubbing inside. 

Now, why would I call an ordinary roasting pan "evil"? Well, it's because what's inside it:

A batch of homemade Chex Mix. Since I'd purchased the pan while our daughter was home on spring break, of course I had to make a goodie in it to test it out, right? 

And since I had cereals left over from making her batch, I had to make more, right? 

Like with a lot of other recipes that have been around a long time, there are many versions of Chex Mix out there. For instance, some recipes call for the addition of bagel chips, which doesn't seem to be an original ingredient. I don't think bagel chips were a common grocery store item back in the day! 

Came across this discussion of what might be the original Chex Mix recipe, based on a 1952 magazine ad: 

I read through the adaptations mentioned by the blogger and by commenters, then combined some of the suggestions with a recipe from a much newer magazine ad to come up with my own version. Here's how I made it:

Chex Mix

6-8 tablespoons butter
2-4 tablespoons Worchestershire sauce 
Several shakes Tabasco or other hot sauce, optional
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder, optional
1/2 teaspoon onion powder, optional
3/4-1 1/2 teaspoons seasoned salt
3 cups Corn Chex
3 cups Rice Chex
3 cups Wheat Chex
1 cup Cheerios
1 cup pretzels (use a thin type)
1 cup cheese crackers 

Preheat oven to 250. Melt butter in small pan or in microwave, using small microwave-safe bowl. Remove from heat or from microwave, then stir in desired seasonings. Pour into large roasting pan. Gradually stir in remaining ingredients until evenly coated. Bake one hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Spread on paper towels to cool. Store in airtight container. Makes 12 cups snack mix. 

Note: this is a very flexible recipe! There's a Chex variety that has both corn and wheat in it, so I just use six cups of that instead of the three cups each Corn and Rice Chex. I'm actually not crazy about the Cheerios being in the mix, but I had some on hand that needed to be used up, so I tossed them in. I really liked the addition of cheese crackers, but then again, I like cheese crackers in general.

I used store brands of all products - no reason why not, especially when those brands are on sale the week you go shopping for Chex Mix ingredients and the big-name brands aren't. 

Both the old and new versions of the recipe say to melt the butter in the oven, right in the roasting pan, but that results, of course, in a rather large, flat surface for stirring in the dry seasonings. I thought it easier to make the seasoned melted butter as I described at the beginning of my recipe, even if it does result in an extra dirty pan. 

I love Worcestershire sauce, so I put a bit more in. Same with the Tabasco sauce, which isn't in the original recipe. Several shakes spiced things up nicely. Onion powder isn't in the original recipe, so I omitted it. Forgot to add garlic powder (I don't use garlic salt), but believe me, the results were just fine without it! I used the lesser amount of seasoned salt (a homemade version of Lawry's) since there's already salt on the pretzels and the cheese crackers. 

Besides pretzels and the aforementioned bagel chips, nuts are another common addition (my newer recipe says "mixed nuts" but the version shown in the above link simply states "nuts". Our daughter doesn't like nuts in snack mixes, so I omitted them. I would think there's a lot of leeway in what "extras" (ie, non-Chex dry ingredients) could be used.

Needless to say, the roasting pan passed inspection both times Chex Mix was made in it! And it cleans up better than the glass baking dish does too. 

Fortunately, I'm now pretty low on some of the ingredients needed to make the recipe, so I'll be spared the "evil" ways of my roasting pan until I feel like buying more cereals. 

PS there are microwave directions for making Chex Mix: follow the recipe above, but use a large microwavable bowl for the cooking. Microwave uncovered on high 5-6 minutes, stirring every 2 minutes. Because microwaves cook differently, time is approximate.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Made It: Scrap Fabric Wreath

Hello! Some time ago I'd bookmarked a blog post about making scrap fabric wreaths. The blogger had commented that it was a good take-along craft, so I decided to make one of my own while on a recent trip. 

The project requires only a wire wreath form and tons of scrap fabric pieces. I bought a 12" wire wreath form at a thrift store for a dollar, but they can be found in stores where craft/floral supplies are sold as well. Larger diameter wreaths are available; 12" is just what I happened to find. 

The directions call for the fabric to be cut into 1/2"x5" strips. I soon decided that I had some leeway here - if I had a scrap that was a bit longer or shorter than 5", it didn't matter. Same with width - since the strips are tied close together on the wreath form, a bit wider or narrower than 1/2" is fine. 

I don't have a rotary cutter, as the blogger did, so yeah, it did take quite awhile to cut a bagful of fabric strips. But I did this step at a time when I wasn't feeling the best and didn't have the energy to do anything more strenuous. 

And I did get some satisfaction from using bits of fabric that were too small to be practical in many other projects. It was also a good way to use up scraps whose colors or patterns weren't among my favorites. All fabrics used just became part of a harmonious whole. 

 Before we left, I tossed the strips into a drawstring bag and then put that bag and the wreath in another bag. As soon as we were on the freeway heading south I pulled out the bag of fabric strips and began tying them onto the wreath form in random order. 

The only problem with doing this project in a car was the inevitable bits of frayed fabric that came off from some of the strips and deposited themselves on my lap, the car seat and the floor. These were easily picked up, but I'd recommend taking a towel along to cover one's lap. 

The tying-on process was simple and actually felt somewhat soothing. After one busy day of sightseeing that included almost nine miles of walking, it was a relaxing activity. 

I guessed pretty well as to how many fabric strips to cut - I covered almost all of the wreath form while on the road. Cut up a few more strips to finish off the project at home, and ended up with this:
Turned out nice, I thought. As the blogger had done, I used a variety of colors, but as some of her commenters had mentioned, this project could be made with a specific choice of colors, such as those for a particular holiday. And one commenter said she'd make a wreath with fabrics to represent the team colors of the Pittsburgh Steelers. 

Close-up of the wreath:

I think it adds a cheery bit of spring-like color, which is nice on a day like today that saw a fresh bit of snow of the ground! 

If you'd like more information on how to make this wreath, read THIS.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Eats: The Make-Do Kitchen

Hello! My previous post had mentioned coming home from an out-of-town trip to the sight of water damage caused by a burst pipe on the second floor. 

The dining room,kitchen and basement suffered the most damage. We can live without a wholly functionable dining room (other than the fact that the dining room table and chairs are now taking up space in other rooms on the first floor), but the lack of a fully operating kitchen is another story. 

Actually, part of the kitchen issue at the moment is temporary. The restoration crew has set up huge fans and dehumidifiers on all three affected floors (first and second floors plus basement). This equipment is necessary, of course, for drying out the water damage. Problems developed, though, when we tried to use our microwave and coffeemaker. These appliances overloaded the already-busy electrical circuits. After fiddling around with placement of various cords in various outlets, my husband and the work crew figured out a good place for the microwave, but to be safe we're using it at half power. 

The coffeemaker also had a habit of popping circuits when it was used, even when moved to an outlet in another room. We have an old house, which means that 1. it can be tricky to figure out which circuit corresponds to which outlet and 2. the electrical capacity may be less overall than what newer homes have. 

To avoid the hassle of having to run down to the basement to reset circuits (and an extra hassle at that because of power cords in the kitchen and basement whose placement makes them a little tricky to get around), I dug this out of storage:

A Sears Maid of Honor manual drip coffeemaker. Tried to find out its age online, but thus far could only determine that this line of Sears cookware was begun in the mid-1940's. My mother-in-law gave it to my husband in the late 1990's when we had a temporary split in our household (he moved out east to begin a new job; I stayed behind in Wisconsin to try to sell our house there). I don't know if it had been hers or her mother's, but she didn't need it back. We kept it as a back-up in case of an emergency - like the time our power went out for 17 hours in Indiana. My husband got the charcoal grill out and made a fire to boil water to use in this coffeemaker!

Still makes fine coffee, of course, even if the method now seem quaint. Not surprisingly, when I looked on eBay for more info on it, I saw several similar models (made by other firms) listed. The sellers suggest that these coffeemakers are good for camping trips. 

As I'd said, using the microwave at full power is an iffy prospect, so recipes dependent on that appliance are out at the moment. Not sure how much power the crockpot draws, but I don't feel like testing that. This leaves the kitchen stove for making meals; fortunately it suffered no damage! There's still the need for simple meals, though, as kitchen counter space is severely compromised at the moment with the moving of various items from the damaged back end of the kitchen to the part that was unaffected.

The waterlogged section of that room meant this:

A portion of soaked cookbooks and cooking magazines. Some are drying out well but others might be a total loss. I do feel a bit sentimental about some of the volumes that may have to be tossed, as they came from now-deceased relatives, and others I've had long enough that they seem like old friends in a way. But what's done is done - if they can't be saved, they can't be saved. (and I have to admit, some of the damaged cookbooks were rarely used, so I won't replace those). 

(We were lucky in this sense - besides the cookbooks, we lost a few things in the basement, but overall personal property damage was limited. The head of the restoration crew seemed impressed at how well our holiday decorations had been packed. The basement room they were in got a good soaking, but almost everything was saved. The key, of course, was plastic storage tubs. He seemed to imply that I'd done a better storage job than  most householders they've seen had.)

But back to the kitchen - I'm reduced to the stove and to using undamaged cookbooks. Fortunately some of my heavily-used cookbooks escaped our in-house flood unscathed, so I turned to one of them, Claire's Corner Copia Cookbook, for this recipe:

Deep-Dish Gourmet Pizza (notes and adaptations follow recipe)

2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
salt and black pepper to taste
3 eggs
2/3 cup milk
1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup pasta sauce
2 cups sauteed mixed vegetables of your choice
4 ounces shredded mozzarella (or other cheese of your choice)

Preheat oven to 375 and grease an 8x8 baking pan. In large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, Parmesan, herbs, salt and pepper. In separate bowl, whisk together eggs, milk and olive oil. Pour wet ingredients over dry, all at once, then stir to mix. Spoon batter into prepared pan, then spread pasta sauce evenly over the batter. Bake for 35 minutes.

Remove from oven and spoon the sauteed vegetables evenly over the top of the pizza. Sprinkle the mozzarella evenly over the top. Return to the oven and continue baking for 10 minutes, or until cake tester inserted in the center comes out nearly dry. Cut into serving pieces. Serve with additional pasta sauce if desired. Serves 4.

Notes: I used white wheat flour for the batter, and used Italian Seasoning instead of the fresh herbs listed. 

Although it's called "pizza", it's actually a quick, batter-style bread. The cookbook author states that the batter can be prepared up to a day in advance. I've never done that, as I find there's ample time to mix up the batter while the oven is preheating. 

The recipe listed marinara sauce and mozzarella or fontina cheeses. I say you can use whatever pasta sauce and cheese you have on hand (depending on your tastes and what ingredients you have on hand, this recipe could easily be changed to make it Mexican, Greek, etc, by using salsa, feta cheese, etc)

I didn't have any pasta sauce on hand - I'd gotten in the habit of making a microwave-based small batch recipe and my last batch had been used up. Well, since the microwave was out, I just pureed a 15 ounce can of tomatoes in the blender along with some Italian seasonings and some garlic. Worked fine!

As for "sauteed vegetables" - well, to make my life easier, I just cooked a bag a frozen broccoli and cut it smaller once it had cooled a bit. This was fine as well, although fresh veggies would have been better. By the way, if using fresh vegetables, they can be sauteed while the batter is baking. 

Here's how it turned out:

We're hoping that most, if not all, of the fans and dehumidifiers will be removed when the restoration crew returns tomorrow to check on things. If not, I will continue to make some simple stovetop or oven meals until their equipment leaves the house. 

I know things could be lots worse - just look at the mudslide near Seattle that destroyed some homes. We are much luckier by comparison, especially considering we were out of town when the pipe burst.

Just the same, I'll be glad when things are back to normal around here!


Thursday, March 20, 2014

Warm Weather Travels: The Fun And The Not-So-Fun

Hello! Our sojourn to Atlanta and back had times of fun and not-so-fun. I'll start with the fun (in case you have a chance to take the same trip yourself sometime):
  • If you were stressed out by cold and snow, as we were, then the sheer novelty of seeing the ground again was plenty fun right there! Even better, of course, was touring the beautiful grounds of the Atlanta Botanical Gardens and walking around with nary a coat around our shoulders.
  • We didn't have time to visit any museums while in Atlanta, but walking through the Cultural Center there showed what appeared to be a thriving arts scene. 
  • Strolling through the Ansley Park neighborhood was nice too - nice older homes. Nice bonus of patronizing a good yard sale there.
  • Websites such as TripAdvisor and Yelp make finding restaurants while on the road easy. Near our hotel in the Atlanta suburb of Alpharetta, we enjoyed pasta dinners at FIGO and Mideastern food at Jerusalem Gardens. 
  • Another great dinner was the hot buffet at Good Foods Market and Cafe in Lexington, KY. Since it was St. Patrick's Day, the cafe paid homage to the occasion by offering a number of foods with a healthy take on Irish cuisine. Corned beef and cabbage was one of the choices, which my husband enjoyed. My cabbage-based dish was a stuffed cabbage roll with a rice and vegetable filling. It was really good! I also had roasted brussel sprouts and turnip gratin, but just about everything at the buffet line looked good. The folks in Lexington are lucky to have this place!
  •  The "market" section of the business is a food co-op, and it was a very good one. 
  • We had never stayed in Lexington before, so although we knew it was thoroughbred horse country, the extent to which that was obvious was new to us. On our way to Good Foods Market and Cafe, we drove on Man O' War Boulevard, and passed streets named after other racehorses as well. Skimming through our hotel room copy of Keeneland magazine provided us with more information on racehorse culture. As the magazine's website says:
 Published four times annually (Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter/Holiday), Keeneland magazine provides in-depth coverage of the legendary Keeneland Racecourse and the Keeneland "lifestyle," including the color, excitement, tradition, style, and sophistication of Keeneland and the sport of Thoroughbred racing. Racing as it was meant to be. Regular features include News, Arts, Fashion, and Living. Keeneland Racecourse is located in Lexington, Kentucky, in the heart of Kentucky's famed Bluegrass region.
It was quickly obvious that the Keeneland "lifestyle" can involve huge sums of money, with eye-popping prices for horse farms in the area, the decorating whims of horse farm owners and so on. 
  • Stopped to pick up a few groceries at Jungle Jim's in suburban Cincinnati. It's one of the largest grocery stores in the country and is a blast to walk around in. It's the kind of place that would take a few hours to see everything.
  • Stopped in Berea, KY on our way to Lexington. It's a well-known center of arts and crafts, including the traditional folk arts of the region. There wasn't much going on since it was a Monday during the off-season, but the folks at the studios that were open were very friendly. 
Okay, you're thinking it all sounds nice, and that it was. But there were some not-so-fun aspects of our trip, such as:
  • Traffic in Tennessee. Hit I-65 lunch hour traffic in Nashville and later on heavy Friday afternoon getaway traffic in Chattanooga. Took I-75 on the way back, where we were slowed down by a 25-mile stretch of road under a heavy fog warning. As the road twisted and turned, I had some anxious moments as I kept fearing the fog would get worse around the next bend. But fortunately it never got so bad that I couldn't see the vehicle in front of me. Sill, slow going on both routes.
  • Rain in Atlanta last Sunday, so we went to a huge nearby mall to escape the elements. Of course, lots of other people had the same idea, so the mall began to fill up in short order. We're just not that used to big crowds anymore, so we escaped to a Goodwill store down the road. Nice clothing there, and we bought a couple of books. 
  • On the last day of our trip, we were looking forward to a quiet evening back home after a long day of traveling. Instead, when we opened the door to our house we were greeted by the sight of a mini waterfall pouring down from what had been a portion of our dining room ceiling. Turns out that a pipe in a storage room on the second floor had burst in our absence, causing damage in parts of the first and second floors and the basement. The plumbing repair was quick, but the drying-out and restoration process won't be. Nothing we can do but work through the situation until things are back to normal around here! Definitely in the not-so-fun category, this.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Warm Weather Travels: Seeing Green

Hello! My previous blog entry talked about pining for warmer weather. Well, my husband and I did something about it - we drove down to Atlanta for a long weekend. Annoyingly heavy traffic through most of Tennessee and in suburban Atlanta, but that was because it was Friday afternoon. Obviously we weren't the only ones wanting to get away for the weekend! 

Traffic hassles were forgotten last Saturday when we were treated to sunny weather and highs in the low 70's. Took a MARTA train into the Midtown station, where we witnessed hundreds of green-wearing folks lined up in advance of the city's St. Patrick's Day Parade. 

Looked like a fun time, but we had our sights set on Atlanta Botanical Garden. Had been there a few years ago, but we couldn't resist seeing the plantings again. After living with a sea of white (as in snow) all winter, we were starved for some green beyond what people were wearing that day. 

And the Atlanta Botanical Garden didn't disappoint, as my photos will show. 

Planter aplenty of violas

"Earth Goddess", a 25 foot plant sculpture. If I recall correctly, it will be covered in flowers in May. I'm sure that will be a lovely indeed! 

It sure was nice to see the riot of color from these pansies!

The last group of photos are from ABG's "Orchid Daze" exhibit. This exhibit has a different theme each year, with this year's theme celebrating the artistry of French Impressionists Monet, Van Gogh and Gauguin.

The intense colors of the planter and the backdrop were meant to suggest the tropical flavor of Gauguin's Tahitian artwork.

But to me, the orchids themselves are art enough:

I could show off photos of orchids all day, but instead my last photo will show off a more common bloom:

Nothing like daffodils to really announce that spring is here! Ours are still buried under snow, of course. 

While at the orchid exhibit we saw another family from Michigan (identified by the Detroit Tigers and U-M clothing they had on). Like us, they'd driven down for a long weekend excursion as well. 

After our visit to the Atlanta Botanical Garden, we walked to a local thrift store (yes, I look for thrift stores everywhere I go!). On the way we passed a historical marker for a nearby Civil War battle site and what appeared to be a very popular rib shack (line out the door even thought it was an off-hour). 

Made a small purchase at the thrift store and also picked up some vintage goodies at a yard sale we passed by on our walk back to the train station. Will show off what I got in a future post.

So all in all, a very nice day in very nice weather. We weren't wearing green that day, but by the end of it our skin was showing a little red - as in sunburn!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Thrifty Acres: Warm Weather Wishing!

Hello! After a downright "balmy" couple of days with temps in the upper 40's, winter returned today with a bit of snow and much colder air. Sigh. Have to take the weather as it comes, I know, but most folks here around undoubtedly join me in wishing for warm weather to arrive for good!

But that may be awhile yet, so I thought it was a good time to dig through my collection of vintage postcards and think spring (or summer)with scenes of palm trees, beaches, motel pools and other warm weather delights. Enjoy!

The southernmost location of the postcards I'm showing off today - Panoramic view from Hotel La Borda, Taxco, Mexico.

On to California!

Palm tree, blue water and sailboats from Mission Bay Park, San Diego.

More palm trees, more blue water - and a "gorgeous geranium bed" at Palisades Park, Santa Monica. Looks very pretty, doesn't it? 

An even prettier scene above - this is Dana Point, "between Laguna Beach and San Clemente", the back of the postcard informs. 

Scenery of a different sort - here, a "sweater girl" poses in a California orange grove. 

Our last stop today is Florida. 

Venice Hotel, St. Petersburg. Cars looks to be 1960's-era. "Close to Beach; Excellent Fishing". 

Fort Lauderdale - "Airview of the beautiful beach with the hotel row behind". Can't help but wonder how much different this airview would look today.

My favorite postcard of the bunch:

On top, the heading reads "Too Busy to Write" and at the bottom it says "Check Items Carefully". In between are a number of categories, each with phrases to check off. It's meant to indicate how the vacation has been going thus far. 

The postcard wasn't sent, but someone had, indeed, checked off something from most of the categories. If written out, the message would have read:


Sounds like that long-ago vacationer had had a good time down in sunny Florida, since after all one of the possibilities for "this burg is..." was "dead". And he or she could have finished "And I am..." with "in a jam"! 

If faced with this type of postcard on a vacation, I'd probably think it was rather tacky, but today it struck me as amusing. Maybe these postcards of beaches, open water and greenery went to my head! 

Or maybe I just am wishing for warm weather.


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Things You Can Always Find At A Thrift Store #7: Ordinary Office Supplies

Hello! Sure, we now live in a digital age with many office tasks being done online, but there's still a need for ordinary office supplies. I'm talking about things like paper clips, thumbtacks, pencils, notebooks, folders, clipboards, that sort of thingYou can find such items brand new, of course, in many retail locations - but you can also find them very cheaply at thrift stores. And for a vintage lover like me, there's the opportunity to find older versions of ordinary office supplies too! 

By "very cheaply", I'm talking under a dollar, such as the 75c I paid for this:

A heavy-duty plastic four-pocket folder; original price tag of $2.15 inside. I like to pack a handful of magazines (also thrifted) to pass the time on long trips; I'll read through them and then tear out pages of recipes, decorating ideas, craft projects, and whatever else catches my fancy. The multi-pocketed folder keeps these pages sorted by topic. 

Another plastic folder; this one has six accordian-style pockets. Paid 50c for this. 

Another storage piece, this time made of heavy cardboard:

This box measures 12h"x11w"x2 3/4"d and closes with a metal latch. To me, it looks like something that might have been on the shelf of a lawyer's office. However, in my hands it became storage for articles from craft magazines. (Purchased for 75c)

More mundane-looking, but still useful:

A container of various sizes of paper clips, 50c. I needed some larger-sized paper clips, which is why I made this purchase. But I liked that some of the paper clips included have a copper color - something a little different than the usual silvery type. 

If I have a choice between new and vintage thumbtacks, I'll go for the latter:

These were made by the American Tack Company, whose address on the box is New York 10, N. Y. Thus, I know that these were made sometime between 1943-1963. 25c.

I was always borrowing my husband's letter opener, but finally decided to get my own, for 50c:

And here's how I can tell it's vintage:

Four-digit phone number. I'm not from Holland, MI, so I don't know when four-digit phone numbers started here, nor when they ended. But it's likely that such a phone number means that this letter opener is old. Don't think this company is in business anymore, at least not with this name.

Also vintage, but not shown, is a bag of pencils I'd gotten. Not all of them were vintage, but most of them were. I think I paid a dollar for a bag of around a dozen and a half. Some were only slightly used - and some had never been sharpened -  so I got them for our daughter, who I swear used to eat pencils when she lived at home. I'm exaggerating, of course, but it did seem like she went through pencils awfully fast! New pencils show up all the time at thrift stores, but I'd rather buy vintage ones there if they're in good shape. Sometimes the erasers on these old pencils have gotten too hard to be usable, but pencil eraser caps do the trick instead.

And the reason why I'm not showing the pencils? Well, because she used them all up!  

Of all the ordinary office supplies I'm showing off here, this last item is the only one for which I forked over more than a dollar:

I paid two dollars for a box of blank paper sheets measuring 4 3/4"x3 1/8". I figured that these papers would be a nice size for writing notes, lists, etc. I've turned some of them into fun little notepads by gluing a stack together at one of the short ends, then folding and gluing a standard-size playing card over the glued end. One such example:

Above, I'd glued a Loteria card to the end of the papers. This pad is almost used up, but no matter - there's almost a pound and a half of paper in the box, so there's plenty more notepads I can make! (the box, by the way, had come from La Veen's Hallmark of Grand Rapids, Michigan, but I have no idea what the paper was originally used for). 

Of course, I can buy ready-made notepads galore at the thrift stores, along with notebooks, notebook paper, label makers, pens, legal pads, rulers, staplers, and more. I've just shown off a few of my purchases. Your mileage may vary, but you're bound to find something useful in the way of ordinary office supplies!