Monday, November 25, 2013

Thrifting Finds #33: Do I smell toast?

You probably won't be surprised if I told you that I didn't find much at the thrifts this weekend.  Matter of fact, I didn't find anything at all, which is what I suspected would happen.  To be honest, I spent Saturday shopping at the outlets with a friend of mine (and I hardly got anything there, either.  Other than a shirt and some napkins, I didn't do much to stimulate the economy.)  That meant that Sunday--the day we cover most of our stops--was spent doing the weekly marketing and all the other errands we usually do on Saturdays.

Are you getting a glimpse into how exciting our lives are?

We did manage to get to a single Goodwill yesterday, but there was squaddoo worth buying.  Strangely, most of the Christmas stuff seems to be gone already, which seems early to me.

So anyway.  Being the plan-ahead type I am, I saved a purchase from last week to post today so my little blog wouldn't be blank.  To wit:

1.  Toaster!  This is one of those Sunbeam Radiant Control toasters that lowers the bread by itself.  Because pushing that lever down is too much work, I guess.  Anyway, these sometimes go for big bucks on ebay (though see below about my disappointment and a Special Offer), so I took the chance and bought it.  It was only 3 bucks, so it wasn't much of a chance.  When I got home, I checked completed listings and they seem to be all over the place, pricewise.  It works and is nice and shiny, though the inside could use some cleaning.  I guess I'll list it because I certainly don't need it hanging around the house.  Savers, $2.99

And that's it.  Hubs and I will be hitting a couple of extra thrifts this week, so hopefully I'll find some really good stuff to report on.  Stay tuned.

What I Made This Weekend department

Basically, nothing.  Been gearing up for Thanksgiving, which means the rest of the week we eat simple stuff and stuff from the freezer.

Ebay disappointment (and a Special Offer)

Remember the Eames coat rack I sold on ebay last week?  Well, it turns out there was some damage (chips & dings) that I hadn't noticed and the buyer wants to return it.  That's fine, totally my fault and I'll learn to be more careful in the future.  I hope.  Now, the last thing in the world I want is to have that bigass box taking up room in my house, so here's the deal:

If you want it, it's yours for the price of postage.  Email me by the 11:59 PM Sunday, December 1 and on Monday morning I'll choose a winner at random.  Bear in mind that shipping for this won't be cheap--it was like 25 bucks to UPS it from MD to NC, so keep that in mind.
In case you can't find my email address easily, it's on the Meet the Cast page.

In other news

The Wonder Cup I got here turns out to be a Pampered Chef item.  Not that it makes the cup any better, just that it was likely a more expensive item than I realized.  Also, the bun warmer that I got doesn't work!  I tried it out and it was just dead, dead, dead.  Which is kind of weird, because there's hardly anything inside it to break!  Oh, well.  It was only 4 bucks, so I'm not going to cry over it.  Luckily, I kept my old one, so I'll use that one this week.

I'm starting to get into Panic Mode over Thanksgiving.  There will only be 9 of us (in our tiny little house) which isn't much, but other than napkins, I don't own more than 8 of anything.  I realize everything doesn't have to match, but that bugs me.  Yes, I like what is disapprovingly referred to as "matchy-matchy".  We'll make do, and I've certainly had more than nine people at a sit-down dinner before, so I know it'll work.  Doesn't stop me from fretting, though.
The menu will be simple:  Turkey, gravy, mashies, dressing, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce (with the ridges from the can!), sauerkraut (it's a Maryland thing) and rolls.  Plus Cajun Rice with corn and beans for our vegan guest (not vegetarian, which is easy; vegan, which is not.)  My brother's girlfriend is bringing pie for dessert and in case there's milk or butter in it, I've got some nice fresh pineapple as well.  So everything's covered.  We already own all the ingredients, I just need to assemble them into actual food.
Meanwhile, my napkins are starched and ironed and I finally cut down one of our tablecloths yesterday so that it fits the table properly.  Hubs is off all week, so he'll be cleaning the house.  So progress is being made.  Yay!

And at this point, I'd like to take this opportunity to wish you all the happiest of Thanksgivings.  Hope you all are surrounded by family, friends, and food.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Thrifting Finds #32!

Things were a little topsy-turvy here at Fondue Headquarters this weekend.  We lost our interwebz on Wednesday.  An hour on the phone with tech support on Thursday brought a technician out on Friday.  He managed to fix the problem within about 15 minutes.  Friday night, the interwebz went out again, so another hour on the phone on Saturday brought another technician out on Sunday.  This was a bit of an ordeal, as it took him nearly 3 hours to fix the problem. He had to replace our router and modem, and then take everyone in my building down.

I was okay with that.

It was still working this morning when I left for work, so yay.

On to the thrifting!

This weekend was a little more productive than the last few, I'll admit.  I still didn't get anything really fabulous, but I do like what I got.  I was tempted by a couple of things:  a Tupperware chip & dip set and a Corningware pan in a size/shape I had never seen before.  I toyed with getting them, but finally realized that I really didn't actually need either, so left them behind.  Interestingly, the Goodwill had three of the unusual Corningware pans.

Here's what I got:

1.  Magazine rack!  This is kind of mid-centuryish and I definitely need one (the one I had kept collapsing.)  Magazine racks seem to be hard to find around here for some reason.  I should probably polish the "brass" parts and wax the wood handle, but I probably won't do either because I'm lazy.  This was $8.00 at the Goodwill, which I thought kind of pricey, but as you can see, I paid it anyway (I'm kind of rich this week--see below.)

2.  Folding chairs!  I hemmed and hawed over these because the second I walk into a thrift store I become Mr. Indecisive.  We already have folding chairs, but they're from Ikea and not very sturdy.  We need folding chairs often enough to warrant having nice ones, so I'm not sure why I was so hesitant about buying these.  They're sturdy, reasonably comfortable, and they were only $4.00 each, for crying out loud.  As you can see, they did end up coming home with me.  They could do with a little wiping down, but nothing major.

(I actually bought one more thing, but I'm saving that for next week, because I think there will be very little thrifting next weekend.)

In other news:

In reading other people's blogs, I realized there are a couple of things I have never seen in a thrift store:

A) Knee huggers.  I would really like to have a few to put around the house, as I think they're kind of fun and cool.  Have never seen a single one in person.

B) Vintage tablecloths.  Christmas or otherwise.  In fact, I'm not entirely sure I've even seen contemporary tablecloths in any of the thrifts.  People keep finding the most fabulous Christmas linens all over the place, and I'm completely jealous.  I'd probably have better luck at estate sales, but we don't really seem to have those around here.

Hey, remember Creepy Snowflake Girl and the framed photograph of the gun?  Here's a little unsettling news:  they've both been sold.  At any rate, they were both gone from the store, which seems to indicate that someone bought them. *Shiver*

Ebay success!  Remember the Eames coat rack and the free laptop I got a while ago?  Well, I stuck them both up on Ebay last week, and they both sold!  It's been a while since I sold anything on Ebay, so I'm behind the times, but when did they start collecting fees on the amount of postage?  That just seems wrong to me. Between the Ebay fees and the Pay Pal fees, it's seems to be only worth posting something really valuable that you got for a song.

What I Made This Weekend Department

Crock-Pot Meatballs.  No picture because while delicious, the finished product just was not very photogenic!  There really isn't much of a recipe either--just combine a couple of cans of cream of celery soup with a good tablespoonful of beef broth base (not bouillon), Throw a bag of frozen pre-cooked meatballs in the Crock Pot (I used Aldi's Fit & Active turkey meatballs), pour the sauce on top, and cook on low for a couple of hours.  Since everything's already cooked, it really just needs to heat up.  Serve over noodles.

This is the kind of broth base I use, but I'm sure other brands would be just as good.  Just don't try to use bouillon which is super-salty, not to mention nasty.  This stuff is kind of salty too, so be careful.

Barbecue Chicken Pizza.  No picture for this either, because I haven't made it yet!  I'll update tonight, as long as the finished product is presentable.  Not much of a recipe for this one, either:  Unroll and press out a Pillsbury pizza crust.  Spread some barbecue sauce on top.  Throw some diced, cooked chicken on top of that (I love the precooked chicken chunks you get in the meat department.)  I like to put a drained can of tomatoes with chilis on, as well.  Throw on as much cheese as your conscience will allow, and bake according to the directions on the pizza crust tube.

Edit:  Here's the picture

And that's it for this week, kids!  This week I'm linking up with  Sir Thrift A LotThe Nifty Thrifty, The Remnant and We Call It Junkin 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Thrifting Finds #31: Have yourself an absolutely horrifying little Christmas!

Wow.  Just wow.

Once again, hubs and I didn't find much on our rounds this weekend, but something I stumbled across turned out to be the highlight of the day.

But first, let me rant a bit.  What is up with the Christmas stuff around here?  I keep reading all these blogs where people come across the mother lode of Shiny Brites or shelf after shelf of Lefton elves, or blowmolds up the wazoo.

And I'm totes jelly, as the kids say.  (Actually, do they still say that?  I'm kind of behind the times.)

We hit seven thrift stores this weekend, and while I found a lot of Christmas stuff, 99% of it was recycled dollar store crap.  The rest of it was just ugly.  Where's all the good stuff?


Other than crappy Christmas stuff, I also came across a bunch of Pyrex, most of it horribly abused.  I even saw a couple of pieces of English Pyrex.  I didn't take a picture, but it seems a little more opaque than the typical American opal glass.  Closer to Corelle, actually.

Anyway, on to what I found.

1.  Pyrex!  It's been a while since I bought a piece of Pyrex, and I'm glad I came across this.  I already have a couple that Mom bought back in the '70s.  These are really great storage jars.  I needed something to keep flour in and was looking for some Tupperware, but I got this instead.  Pretty sure it won't hold a whole 5 pound bag, but it should fit in my freezer.  $3.00 Goodwill

I almost got a Scumbuster at Savers, but the lines were so long that I didn't feel like waiting.

Speaking of Savers, I did find something there of note.  I didn't buy it, but I took a video of it

Because it's so horrifying.

Click to watch--if you dare!!!!

This thing is horrifying on so many levels--the club foot, the creepy voice.  But the face--that scary, I-want-to-eat-your-soul face--just really did me in.  How fortuitous that the person who donated it left the batteries in so you can get the full effect.


What I Made This Weekend department

A.  Dan L's Enchilada Casserole  My friend Dan sent me this recipe a while back and I love it not just because it's from my friend, but because it originated in the Mexican food capital of the world:  Council Bluffs, Iowa.

1lb ground beef
Chopped onion
1lb can enchilada sauce
1lb can refried beans*
1lb jar salsa
Corn tortillas
Cheddar and/or Monterrey Jack cheese

Brown ground beef with the onion.  Drain and return to pan.  Stir in refried beans, enchilada sauce and salsa.  Simmer a few minutes.  Put a little of the sauce in the bottom of a greased 9X13 inch baking dish (vintage Corningware preferred) and add a layer of corn tortillas.  Layer sauce with tortillas until you run out of materials, ending with the sauce.  Put cheese on top and cover with foil.  Bake 30 minutes at 350 degrees.  Take off foil and bake another five.  Let sit at room temperature 5-10 minutes before attempting to serve.

*I leave the beans out because ew.

B.  Potato, bacon and corn chowder  Okay, I'll admit it--this isn't the best picture.  I'll take another one tonight when we actually eat it.  It'll have bacon bits on top and some lovely cheese melting in.  I got this recipe from Carnation evaporated milk and it's so easy it's embarrassing.  Still, there's something to say for an easy recipe that's delicious and made with stuff you're likely to have in your cupboards.

EDIT:  Here's what it looked like last night when I served it:

It was delish.

In other news  I had my car detailed last week!  I always thought that sort of thing was only for self-indulgent BMW drivers.  Then a while ago, hubs got a coupon for a free (!!) detailing, and man, what a difference!  He liked it so much that I got him a gift certificate for detailing last Christmas.  (There's an impossibly cute story about hubs and me giving each other identical presents last Christmas, but it's so nauseating that I'll spare you the details.)  Anyway, I finally got to use the gift certificate that hubs gave me last year.  Man, oh man, it's like having a brand-new car again!  Everything is so clean and shiny--and they totally got the coffee stains out of the mats.  The only problem is that they go kind of crazy with the Armor All.  There's a plastic mat/tray thing in the back of my car to protect the carpeting from dirt and stuff, and with all the Armor All they put on it, it's slippery as Teflon.  We did the marketing this weekend and every time I turned a corner, our groceries did a little Indy 500 thing back there.  If you're looking for a gift for a hard-to-buy-for person (hubs knows I am way too cheap to ever buy this for myself), I recommend this.

Also  I finally put the Eames coat rack and the free laptop I got up on ebay this weekend.  I already have bids on both!

Linking up this with Sir Thrift A LotThe Nifty Thrifty, and We Call It Junkin 

Monday, November 4, 2013

Thrifting Finds #30: It's beginning to look a little like...

Christmas!  But just a little.  I know that Halloween is barely over, but Thanksgiving is late this year and I like to get a head start on Christmas.  So if you hear me singing carols in the shower (and if you're in a position to do so, close your eyes, I'm nekkid!!), I hope you'll forgive me.

Anyhoo, hubs and I got to do our usual rounds this weekend, and while most of what I found wasn't very exciting, it was at least useful. Practical.  Not unlike me.  First up:

1.  Wonder Cup!  Not very glamorous, I'm afraid, but terribly useful.  In fact, I already used it when I made cookies yesterday (keep reading.)  Whoever previously owned this kept the instructions in the bottom for easy reference--I love that.  Goodwill, $1.25

2.  Buttoneer!  I got a generic one a while back and accidentally bent the all-important needle, so I was very pleased to find this on the Wall O' Bags at Savers.  I was especially pleased at the $1.99 price tag, as these always end up going for crazy money on eBay.  Did I mention that I hate sewing on buttons?  I can do it with the sewing machine fine, but that's such a hassle to set up for a single button.

3.  This thing!  I believe this is a sort of lampshade-y thing that you stick on top of one of those bigass Yankee Candles.  Someone correct me if I'm wrong.  I don't actually own any bigass Yankee candles, but I do have a couple of generic ones that get hauled out at Christmas.  I'm pretty sure this is purely decorative, rather than functional.  It was actually a Dollar Store purchase for, uh, $1.00.  I was standing in line when I saw it, and I was taken by the insouciant Santa.  Wink.

4.  Blowmold!  My first ever!  I'm pretty sure this blowmold is not vintage; I don't even think it's particularly old.  Still, it's the first one I've come across in my travels, and I couldn't beat the price.  I'd say Santa's a good two feet tall, and I haven't decided what to do with him.  He'll either go by the front door or on the balcony, or maybe I'll take him to work with me to decorate my cubicle (have to check the official "how to decorate for Christmas The Holidays memo.)  He had a $2.00 price tag attached to the cord, but that might have been from a garage sale or something, since he also had an "official" $4.00 Goodwill price on the bottom.  The cashier gave him to me for two bucks!  I have no place to store him, so once Christmas is over, back to the GW he goes.

I also bought a serving spoon for $0.25, but didn't take a picture.  You can never have too many serving spoons, particularly with Thanksgiving coming up.

What I Made This Weekend Department

A:  P-P-P-Pasta!  Technically, Penne Pasta with Pesto, Pepperoni, Parmesan, and Provolone (also meatballs, sauce and three other cheeses, but those don't begin with P.)  
The verdict?  Pretty pedestrian.
This wasn't an actual recipe, just something I threw together, using ingredients we like.  Unfortunately, it came out kind of bland, despite tossing in some crushed red pepper to give it a little oomph.  I didn't use much pesto because it tends to take over and the pepperoni wasn't very spicy.  So, while it wasn't bad, it just wasn't knock-your-socks-off good, either.

B.  Dr. Martin's Mix!  This recipe comes from The I Hate to Cook Book by Peg Bracken.  I'm not going to give the recipe because you all--every single one of you--need to own this book.  And every other book she wrote, too.  I've read her books literally dozens of times and I still laugh out loud.  
Okay, this is basically sausage and rice. I really don't like sausage, but I love this.  It's simple, quick and one of those dishes that is better than the sum of its parts.  P.S.  I don't know what kind of rice Peg was using, but this does not need to simmer for an hour!  Twenty minutes pretty much does it.

C:  Cookies! We have a cookie exchange at work and a friend of mine is running it this year, so this is the first time I will be participating.  I made White Chocolate Macadamia cookies but I left the Macadamias out, because who wants to spend that kind of money on people at work?  They're delicious even without the nuts.  I used 1/2 cup of butter and 1/4 cup of Crisco instead of all butter.  I think next time, I will use all butter-flavor Crisco* because I like cookies that are chewy instead of crispy. Also, I think two cups of white chocolate chips were too much, so I'll cut back on them as well.  These smell great when they're baking.  I haven't gotten the review from hubs (aka Cookie Monster), but I'm pretty sure he'll approve.

*Now that butter is back to being $2.00 a pound at Aldi, it's actually cheaper than Crisco!
UPDATE:  Butter is now $1.69 a pound at Aldi.  Woohoo!

And that's it.  Seven pictures in one post, and my fingers are typed to the bone.  Not to mention the fact that I'm at work and should probably be, uh, working...

Linking up this with Sir Thrift A LotThe Nifty Thrifty, and We Call It Junkin