Monday, December 30, 2013

Thrifting Finds #37: Have a Holly Jolly Christmas!

Greetings, all!  I hope your Christmas was every bit as great as mine!  Sorry about the lack of postage last week, but you know how things get during Christmas week.

I want to mention just one of the many lovely gifts i got from the Hubster:  a Goodwill gift card!  Did you know that some Goodwills do that?  I sure didn't!  It's not good at all the GWs we go to (they belong to different groups or something), but what a great idea.  I was pleased as punch, let me tell you.

But enough blather.  We're here to see the goodies I picked up.  This is actually more than a week's worth, since I didn't post last week, but I guess that doesn't really matter, does it?  On to the goodies!

1.  Andy!  I had been looking for this album on CD for a while now.  I know I could have gotten it from Amazon, but I wanted to find it at a bargain price.  Now, I made a deal with myself that I was not going to ever look at the records in the thrifts.  If I started that, I'd never get out of there.  But there was Andy, right in front, looking at me as I walked past.  It was a sign, a sign I tell ya!  The cover's a little worn but the LP is just fine.  Goodwill, $1.00

2.  Richard!  Okay, remember what I just said about not looking through the records?  Well, I'll admit that I did flip quickly through the bin where Andy was.  And just look what I found!  This is Doctor Kildare, folks.  Singing Hi Lilli, Hi Lo.  You can't make that stuff up.  Did I need this?  No.  Could I pass it up?  No way!  Goodwill, $1.00

3.  Ceramic Christmas Tree!  I passed up on four of these last year.  Stupid.  So this year, I vowed to get one.  What did I do?  I passed up on the first one I saw, then didn't see any more at all before Christmas!  What a yutz.  After Christmas, I found myself at an antique mall I hardly ever go to and said I'd get one if I found one.  There were probably about 6 of them in the mall, this being the only all white one,  At prices from the mid $20s all the way up to 80 bucks!  I saw this one (20% off sale) and said I'd come back for it after going all through the mall.  And so I did.  With the discount, it was like 22 bucks, which I didn't think was bad.  It sure is colorful, and there are a lot of lights on it,  Like 150.  The only problem is...

Click to embiggen

the lights are actually these stupid little birds!  Now I have to find some replacement bulbs.  Oh, Amazon has them, but the shipping is outrageous.  There's a ceramic studio near me, but they want $.15 each, which would come to like 22 bucks.  That's not happening.  Well, I certainly have lots of time, so I'm not worried.

4.  Sink trays!  A purely practical purchase, but I'm happy nevertheless.  I already have these in the kitchen and Hubby's bathroom, but I also wanted them for mine.  They're pretty expensive at the home stores, so I was quite pleased when I spotted these.  Never installed, still mint in the package.  And a price I like!  They're already installed, too, using the new cordless drill that Hubby gave me for Christmas.  Savers, $2.99

5.  More blue glass!  I picked this up the same morning as the ceramic Christmas tree.  I originally wasn't going to get it, since $5.00 is more than I'm generally willing to pay.  Then I thought I'd get it for the Hubster, so that made the price okay!  Plus, I used the gift card he got me!  I kinda wanted to keep it for myself, but I know he likes this color, too.  Luckily, he said he wanted it, but that we should keep it at home!  So now it's our new candy jar, replacing the one I got at the Dollar Store.  Goodwill, $5.00

Other stuff:

A.  Holy cwap, that's a bigass piece of pork!  You're looking at almost 12 pounds of pork loin, folks.  For which I paid just over 20 bucks.  Our Weis occasionally has a good sale on these (I swear I once got one almost this size for like, 9 bucks), and I couldn't pass this up.  We now have two nice roasts, a slew of chops, and some cubes for posole or barbecue taking their rightful place in our freezer.

And that's it for this week.  I'm writing this post on my laptop at home, which I find impossible to type on.  Consequently, all sorts of odd things have been happening, as I think I keep hitting the touchpad by accident.  If this manages to post at all, I'll be surprised!

Best wishes for a healthy, happy New Year (that's full of really cool thrifted finds)!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Thrifting Finds #36: Good Reads!

How's everyone getting along with their Christmas shopping and other preparations?  While I'm not done (I tend to go right up to Christmas Eve), I'm far enough along that I'm no longer in a panic.  That's a good feeling.

Thrifting was again kind of thin, but I was not totally without any treasures.  Even Hubs managed to make a purchase this week--something that hasn't happened in quite some time.  So we're happy.

Boy howdy, though, I am sick of looking at ugly Christmas stuff.  My eyes were literally hurting from some of the stuff I saw--and there was lots of it this week.  Let me put it this way:  the top 10% of the stuff--the highest-quality, the absolute peak--originally came from Wal Mart.  That'll give you a clue as to what I was looking at.  There was nothing vintage, nothing charming, nothing I would allow in my house.  I might have to start shopping out of state for Christmas stuff.

But enough bellyaching!  On to the week's treasures!

1.  Questionable glass!  I picked this up on the off chance that it's a Swanky Swig.  Does anybody know?  It's 5.25" high and 3.5" across, if I remember correctly (and that's kind of a slim chance...)  The glass itself seems a little thin to have once been basically a jar, but what do I know?  The Goodwill had an even dozen of these, but I only bought this one.  Goodwill, $0.48

2.  Cooky book!  Good heavens, what the hell am I doing buying a cookie cookbook?  Well, I'll likely never make any of the recipes, but these old Betty Crocker cookbooks are fun to read.  Plus, I like the way Betty spells "cooky."  This is a 1978 printing of the 1963 (I think) edition.  Goodwill, $2.62.

3.  My Money's Worth!  I'm a little unsure about this volume.  It seems to be part of a set called "Woman Alive", but I didn't see any of the others when I looked.  It seems textbook-y, if you know what I mean. Like something that would be used in a High School Home Ec class.  Anyway, there are all sorts of tips for choosing healthy foods, how to dress well without paying a lot, the best time of year to buy certain things.  The kind of information I need!  Did you know that you can expect your sewing machine to give you 24 years of service, no matter how much you spent on it?  You heard it hear first, folks!  Goodwill (the one where we hardly ever find anything), $2.62.

What I Made This Weekend Department:

A.  Vegetable soup!  With beef, actually.  Had this simmering in the Crock Pot yesterday and when we came home from shopping, the house smelled really nice.  That's kind of the magic of using a Crock Pot.  Half the batch went into the freezer.

B.  Sausage Pie!  Hubs and I both love this, despite the fact that I don't care for sausage.  It's basically just sausage, potatoes, and cheese in a pie crust, so what's not to like?  Probably not doing our arteries any good, but what the hell, right?  It's a nice, hearty dish for a cold winter's night.

C.  Weird alien organ!  LOL no, this is actually a batch of sponge candy, if you can believe it.  No, it's not attractive.  No, it doesn't look much better when it's broken up.  I can best describe this candy as a puffy, spongy, crispy caramel.  Growing up in Massachusetts, we used to find this in the stores all the time.  It's something my brother really likes.  Me, not so much.  Turns out it's also a thing in Buffalo, so I made this batch for my friend Liz, who hails from there.  Unfortunately, I think I scorched it a little.  Better luck next time?   Hubs was grossed out by it.

D.  MORE cookies?  Am I insane??  Well, clearly.  Still, 'tis the season and all that.  Hubs and I both really love chocolate covered cherries, and I've been experimenting the last few years to create a cookie with that flavor combo:  I call them Cherry Jumbles.  These are about as close as I'll ever get, I think.  They're basically sugar cookies with chopped maraschino cherries and chocolate chips, maraschino cherry juice, and almond extract.  The icing is a simple powdered sugar glaze with more cherry juice and almond extract.

No more cookies in my future (I hope), but I still have to make another batch of the sponge candy and some pink popcorn for my brother and a batch of fudge for Hubs.  Then I think that may be it.  Whew.

This week I'm linking up at  Sir Thrift A Lot, Thrifter/Maker/Fixer/Farm and We Call It Junkin 

Monday, December 9, 2013

Thrifting Finds #35: Recycled finds!

Well kids, it was not a pretty week for your old Uncle Veg.  On Wednesday, I came down with some kind of weird uber cold that knocked me on my kiester.  Monday and Tuesday, I felt like I was coming down with something but it didn't happen.  That is, until Wednesday morning when it hit me in the face.  I went in to work for a little while to take care of some things and then I hightailed it right back home, where I spent the next three days just sitting on the couch doing nothing.

I realize it was just a cold, but I just hate being sick. It's so damned inconvenient.  Here I was, with an unplanned vacation and I didn't feel up to doing anything.  Oh, I set up the Christmas tree and got the cards done, but that was all I accomplished in three days.

On the other hand, it was kind of nice to just sit around and do nothing.  For instance, on Thursday it rained hard all day and for a good part of it, I just sat on the couch under the big yellow blanket with Honey on my lap listening to the rain and thinking how awesome it was.

Honey loves it when I pull out the big yellow blanket.  It's a great blanket to be sick under, if you know what I mean.  And it's kind of amazing that it's older than I am--Mom got it for her wedding shower back in 1957, and it's still nice and soft and fluffy.

By Saturday, I was feeling well enough to do the weekly marketing, etc., so Hubs and I set out to do that and hit our Saturday Thrifts.  Unfortunately, we found nothing worth buying.

They were calling for bad weather on Sunday, so Hubs and I made a pre-emptive decision to just stay home and do Christmasy things.  That was a good decision, given how things looked at 11:00:

I don't know if you can see how hard it's snowing, but it's pretty hard.  Don't forget that this is Maryland, where people panic at the first snowflake, despite the fact that we get snow every single year.

By 2:00, the snow had pretty much stopped and the snowplows came through:

But then it spent the rest of the day sleeting and freezing raining, which was just nasty.

So Hubs and I did our Christmas decorating!  Stay with me here, because there is a connection to thrifted finds, no matter how tenuous ;)

weiner dogs!

1.  Our mantle!  Mmm, nothing vintage here, though the porcelain and the Staffordshire dogs are antiques.  We used to have a much nicer garland but a couple of years ago the lights gave out and no matter what I did, I couldn't get them lit again.

Too Gay?

2.  Christmas tree!  I know it looks really pink here, but it's not.  Hubs and I went out last year just before Christmas and I saw these trees reduced from $45.00 to $19.00.  Now, Hubs has always wanted a white tree and I was certainly open to the idea, particularly one with multi-colored lights (I don't care for white lights.), and how was I supposed to say no to like, a  60% discount?  We had it in our front hall last year and decided we would alternate between the white and the green as our "main" tree.  If you look closely, you will see some of the Shiny Brite ornaments I got way back in June.

3.  More Shiny Brites!  During the same shopping trip that I got the white tree, I saw these glass urns and thought they would look nice filled with Christmas ornaments.  Unfortunately, there was no way I was going to spend 15 bucks for one.  Well, just a few weeks after Christmas, I came across this in the Goodwill, filled with a candle and seashells and sand and a bunch of other crapola.  I liked the price--five bucks--and immediately emptied the contents into the nearest trash receptacle. Those balls with the net on them are more Shiny Brites I got in March.

See?  Connection to thrifted finds?

4.  My wreath!  Yes kids, your ham-handed Uncle Veg made this his very own self a couple of years ago.  Most of the ornaments are not vintage because A) I'm not crafty at all and wasn't sure if I could pull this off and B) I lose interest easily and wasn't sure if I would see it through to the end.  If you look very closely, the small, fancy balls near the middle are thrifted finds from a Goodwill.  I'm pretty sure they weren't Shiny Brites, though.  And the pink balls around the outside are Martha Stewart ornaments I got at the Salvation Army, probably 10 years ago.  I would like to make another wreath using actual vintage ornaments but at the rate I'm going, it'll take me 50 years to come up with enough.

5.  Hubs' creche!  We have a horizontal surface on which we display either my Christmas Story buildings or Hubs' creche.  We take turns, and this year, it was Hubs' turn.  This is his childhood creche, so it's fairly old.  The figures are paper mache and as Hubs says "Grubby from three little boys playing with them."  Still, it's sweet and dear, and I love having things from Hubby's past around.

And that's really all for the thrifted finds department.  More bad weather is on the way tomorrow and I'm not sure what the weekend will hold, so who knows if we'll get to do any thrifting at all next week.

What I Made This Weekend Department:

A.  One-pot (if you're lucky) Macaroni and Cheese!  I didn't take a picture because you've seen it before.  Here's the recipe if you want to review.  The picture above is from the same post.

B.  Pork Chops!  Yeah, this picture is a retread too, but how many pictures of pork chops can you look at, you know?  Sub mashies for the spaetzle in this picture and you pretty much have a picture of what dinner was last night.  Also, I went back to using the Weis version of Shake & Bake which we like much better than the real stuff.

You can see that I didn't put too much effort into cooking this week because I also made

C.  An insane number of cookies!  These are my world-famous M&M cookies that I make for my brother.  Geez, I think I've been making them for him for at least the last 30 years.  I hate making cookies, but if I didn't make these, I truly think he would cry.  That's 11 dozen up there, by the way, but some of them are for us.  Turns out Hubs loves them too, so now I make a triple batch and spend a day cursing in the kitchen.

Okay, to be honest, it wasn't so bad this year.  The problem I have with making cookies is that there's a lot of standing around time, but it's never enough to actually go off and do something.  If you hate making cookies as much as I do, here are a couple of tips to help keep your sunny disposition.

1. Get  yourself a bigass mixer.  I finally got to put my Kenmore to its intended use (making these cookies) and it sped up the process immeasurably.  I still had to mix in two batches, but it was a lot better than doing it by hand, or borrowing my friend's Kitchenaid.

2.  Use a cookie scoop.  Get a good one, because the cheap ones are more frustrating than useful.  Makes the cookies much more uniform than trying to use a teaspoon.

3.  Have lots of baking sheets.  At least four, which is what I used.  That way you can have a batch ready to go into the oven as soon as you take one out.

4.  Have a distraction.  I often use this time to watch Christmas movies on my portable DVD player.  This year, I used my little bits of free time to make the macaroni and to wash up all the bowls and things I used in the process.

And that's pretty much all I have.  Which is fine, since this post is long enough, considering how little content it has...

Linking up with the fabulousness at  Sir Thrift A LotThe Nifty ThriftyThrifter/Maker/Fixer/Farm and We Call It Junkin 

Monday, December 2, 2013

Thrifting Finds #34!

So how was your Thanksgiving?  Great, I hope.  Ours was wonderful.  There was an exploding gravy situation, but otherwise it went off without a hitch.

Thrifting.  Both Hubs and I were off Black Friday so we hit a couple of thrifts we don't usually cover.  As a matter of fact, we went to nine thrift stores this weekend, and boy, am I tired of looking at ugly Christmas crap.  Really, the stuff in the stores is just beyond the pale.

One store we went to actually participated in Black Friday.  Driving up, the parking lot was full, which it never is.  I said to Hubs "Do thrift stores do Black Friday now? Is that a thing?"  Hubs didn't know, but we finally found a parking spot.  I went in and noticed there were no carts to be had.  Odd.  Then I noticed the blackboard at the front of the store offering 50% off everything in the store.

Luckily, there was only one thing in the store I might have bought (a very cool vintage Christmas tree stand which would have been $12.50), but the checkout line was snaking all around the store.  That's not too bad until you realize that every single person in line had a cart that was overflowing with crap.

Yeah, that's not happening.

To make a long story longer, we had better luck on Sunday, which is when I picked up the following:

1.  Silver balls!  Not vintage Shiny Brites or anything, just commonplace silver Christmas tree balls.  It was Hubs' idea to fill the blue bowl with these, and I like the way it looks.  Might need to add a couple more, though.  Savers, $1.99

2.  Trivets!  Thanksgiving dinner taught me that you can't have too many trivets.  These three were all taped together and sold as a group.  I don't really care what they look like, as they will by necessity be covered while in use.  Goodwill, $1.50 for the bunch.

3.  Scumbuster!  I almost got one of these at Savers a couple of weeks ago but didn't feel like standing in line. So yesterday I saw this and snapped it up.  Other than one of the pads, it looks unused.  Of course, the hard-to-find battery doesn't work, but I can use one of the replacements I got for my Floorbuster a few months ago.  Depending on how often I use this, I might invest in another battery. Goodwill, $5.00

4.  Compact-O!  It's actually an electric defroster, but I love the name "Compact-O."  One of these was floating around a different Goodwill for a while, but they wanted six bucks for it and I was too cheap.  By waiting, I got this for half the price.  Now I can defrost my big freezer. I understand you're supposed to do that twice a year.  Are you laughing as hard as I am?  Goodwill, $3.00

Wow.  This was the biggest week of thrifting I've had in a long time!

What I Made This Weekend Department

A.  Platinum Blondes!  These are for the cookie exchange at work.  I needed 36 cookies and the recipe made 37, so I got to taste one.  Actually, it seemed kind of dry, which is weird.  Oh, well.

B.  Gallons and gallons of turkey soup!  We ended up with far fewer Thanksgiving leftovers than I had hoped for.  I saved the two drumsticks so that we could make soup.  I was extremely hesitant about doing this, probably because I had been traumatized by my mother's chicken soup.  But we gave it a go last year and it came out really well, so I did it again.  Half of the batch went into the freezer.

C.   Turkey pot pie!  No picture yet, as it hasn't been baked--I'll post it tomorrow.  I totally forgot to put the potatoes in, but it should be okay without them, right?  And look at how forward-thinking I am:  the cookies I made called for an egg plus another yolk.  So I saved the remaining egg white to brush on the crust!  How organized is that?  Okay, it's really not impressive at all, but if you knew me, you'd understand what a major accomplishment this is.
EDIT: Picture added.  Hard to tell, but I made the pie in my Flamingo Pink Pyrex pie dish!

And that's it for this week's installment. Linking up with  Sir Thrift A LotThe Nifty ThriftyThrifter/Maker/Fixer/Farm and We Call It Junkin