Monday, March 31, 2014

Thrifting finds #50: First Birthday!


Felt a migraine coming on this morning, so I took a  pill for it.  Unfortunately, that introduces its own set of problems, so I'm not feeling tip-top today.

Plus, hey guess what it did yesterday?

It snowed.

Tomorrow's April. This had better stop.

Anyway.  I want to take a moment to thank youall for your comments and emails about our wedding rings.  I love the fact that even though I haven't technically met most of you in person, we're still friends anyway.  Don't you think that's kind of cool?

Looks like we're probably going to go down the Amazon route.  It sounds easy until you realize that they have eleventy-million  wedding rings to choose from, and I'm not good about making a decision.

Plus, we have a birthday!  My cheesy little slice of the blogosphere is officially a year old!  Actually, it was a year old three weeks ago, but I never said I was good at details.

So Happy Birthday to me!  I'd celebrate with a slab of cake, but since I can barely fit into my jeans as it is, I'll have to forego it.

Too bad the pickins at the thrifts were so thin this week.  We had torrential rain yesterday (which turned into sleet and snow, see above) which did not keep people out of one of the Goodwills, but totally did keep people out of the Savers.  I don't know how to explain that.

So here's what I found:

1. Butterfly Gold Casserole!  Let me start out by saying that I do not collect this pattern, despite the fact that I got this yesterday and a gravy boat last week.  I'm going to chalk this purchase up to "empty hand syndrome" and leave it at that.  And since I only have two pieces of BG, it is officially not  a collection.  Whew.  No lid, but I can probably find one later.  Goodwill, $3.00

And by the way, it looks like they've got someone new pricing the Pyrex at the GW.  I saw a Spring Green casserole with lid that I thought I might buy until I saw that it was marked $18.00.  Now, that's probably not a bad price for it (though correct me if I'm wrong), but that seems more of a retail or antique mall price than a thrift store price.  Hubby keeps picking up things he likes, looking at the prices and shaking his head.

What's Cooking? Department The Spotless* Test Kitchens here at Fondue HQ went out on a limb this week, as you'll see in a moment.  But first, a bit of Pedestrian Pasta:

*Totally not spotless

Baked Penne with Meatballs!  Plus a healthy shot of pesto for good measure.  I don't know why it is, but my pasta always seems really dry, no matter how much sauce I use.  Any ideas?  I bake it covered and try not to overcook it, so I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong. It's palatable, but never juicy enough.

Peking Roast!  This needs a bit of explanation.  I got the recipe from an old "Hints from Heloise" book.  She said it came from a Chinese hotel famous for its tender beef.  Basically, you marinate the roast in vinegar overnight, then pour it off and pot roast it in coffee.  Weird, huh?  It was one of those recipes that was just so strange that I had to try it.  On the good side, it didn't taste of coffee when all was said and done.  And it smelled great while it was cooking in the Crock Pot.  It didn't look too good--kinda like a hunk of beef floating in ink, but it was extremely tender.  Unfortunately, it was overall kind of bland.  Certainly no more effort than making a regular pot roast, but not really worth making again.  I'm a little skeptical of its Chinese origins, too--one doesn't usually associate China with coffee, you know?
Notice that I managed to sneak in the new Butterfly Gold casserole and the gravy boat from last week?  By the way, the gravy boat isn't that great--the lip is really kind of dribbly.

And that's it for this week.  Kinda slim, I know, but maybe things will pick up next week.  Maybe?

Monday, March 24, 2014

Thrifting Finds #49: Your Opinions Needed!

Okay, so it was a nice weekend--temperatures in the 50s on Saturday and upper 40s yesterday.

They're predicting snow tomorrow.

Really?  Really??

Last I heard, it was officially Spring.  Doesn't that mean no more snow?  Shouldn't it?  I already put my shovel away, fercryingoutloud.

So you're probably sick of hearing me whine about the weather.  Trust me, I'm sick of doing it.  This just seems to be The Winter That Will Not End.

Right.  Done.  So let's get on to what I snagged this weekend.  Not much, I'll admit, but I'm really pleased.

1.  Not Another Cookbook!  I know, I know, but bear with me, there's an explanation.  This is not a new cookbook, it's a replacement.  I already own one, but it turns out it has a bunch of pages missing (it's like a three-ring binder, and the old, brittle pages aren't very strong.)  I suppose this one could have missing pages as well, huh?  Didn't think of that at the time.  Oh, well.  There was a handwritten recipe inside for Zucchini with Cheese, involving frozen zucchini, cream cheese, and walnuts.  Didn't sound great, so I tossed it.  Goodwill, $2.50.

2.  Ikea Drawer Thing!  I'm not sure what it's official name is--probably something like Kahüppenġloġġ.  Or maybe Dräwr.  Anyway, this has been kind of a Holy Grail for me.  I've been wanting this for keeping tools and fasteners and whatnot.  Unfortunately, by the time I discovered that Ikea sold it, they had discontinued it.  Story of my life.  So I've been keeping my eyes peeled in the thrifts, just in case.  And my vigilance paid off!  Now I just have to do something about those crooked drawers before my OCD sends me over the edge.  Goodwill, $6.50.

And that's all I found, really.  Not much, but both items made me happy.  

Remember the Regal Poly Perk I got last week?

The one I wasn't going to use because it said "Hobo Frank" on the side?  Well,it finally occurred to me that all I needed to do was cover up the writing with a little black electrical tape, and I could use it.  So that's what I did.  Didn't take a picture, but it looks just fine.

What's Cooking? Department

Looks like the Spotless* Test Kitchens here at Fondue HQ didn't turn out anything new or unusual this week.

*Totally not spotless.

A:  Pea Soup!  Hubs requested soup this week, as we're (hopefully) coming to the end of Soup Season.  And since I had 3 pounds of split peas in the cabinet (they're cheap at Aldi), Pea Soup it was.  Threw in some diced ham this time instead of my usual sausage.

B:  Dan's Enchilada Casserole!  Pretty sure I've mentioned this one before.  Recipe came from my friend Dan, and you gotta love the authenticity of a Mexican recipe that started out life in Council Bluffs, Iowa.  I messed up the top when I pulled off the aluminum foil and one of the tortillas stuck.  How was it?  Enchiladariffico!

Your Opinions Needed!
I always refer to The Hubster as my husband, but in actual fact, we're not married.  That is about to change, assuming we can both get off our slothful butts and actually do something.  To that end, we have started shopping for wedding rings.

OMG, have you seen the prices of jewelry lately?

I thought I knew what I wanted going into this, but it turns out I really don't.  Hubster said for me to pick something out and he'd just get the same thing.  So we were looking at gold rings and to be honest, it doesn't look like that's in the budget right now.  At first I resisted, but I'm starting to like the Titanium rings that a lot of places are featuring.  Some of them are really attractive.

So here's where you come in.

1.  Is a ring other than gold "okay"?  I always sort of felt that if the ring weren't gold (or maybe platinum), it didn't "count", if that makes any sense.  Yeah, look at me being all traditional. I know it's silly, but still.

Edit:  Here's why I'm wondering about the gold thing.  My parents had beautiful 18K gold rings and had a wonderful marriage.  I knew a woman who had a jade wedding band, and her marriage was crappy and she ended up getting divorced. And I know a man who has a band made of some other metal--molybdenum?--and his marriage is nothing to write home about.

On the other hand, I know several people who had gold bands and crappy marriages, so now I don't know what to think!  I am the very definition of "wishy washy"!

2.  Is it tacky to get wedding rings from Amazon?  Another silly question, I know.  I won't get a ring from a store I don't like just because it's cheap, and it seems silly to pay the huge markup at a jewelry store when Amazon has the exact same thing for a lot less money. And I love Amazon.   A friend of mine suggested we look for rings at pawn shops.  

Yeah, no.  I don't want to inherit someone else's Karma, and if the ring ended up in a pawn shop, it probably wasn't very good, right?

So what do you think?  Weigh in, either in the comments or send me an email--vegomaticbob at the Gmail place.

Linking up in All The Right Places: Sir Thrift A Lot, Thrifter/Maker/Fixer/FarmThe Nifty Thrifty  and We Call It Junkin.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Thrifting Finds #48: Creepy Clown Alert!

Oh.  Em.  Gee.

Yes, I'm going to start out complaining about the weather again.  On Thursday, we had a high of 70, followed by thunderstorms, 70 MPH winds, and temperatures dropping into the teens overnight.  Saturday was sunny and breezy, with a high of 60.

Today it's snowing.


Work opened at 1:00 which was nice, but really, it just needs to stop.  Now, please.

Okay.  Enough of that.  On to more pleasant things.  Well, slightly more pleasant, anyway.  It was not a particularly good week for thrifting, despite being able to cover all of our usual spots.  We'll start off with something different--one of the Hubster's finds!

1.  Another Stretch Vase!  We seem to be finding these fairly often, which is just fine with me.  This is a slightly smaller one, not sure if it's even a foot high.  Hubs sprinted ahead of me and spotted it, so to the victor go the spoils, or something like that.  Savers, $3.00

2.  Slide Tray!  This, of course, is for the Crestline slide projector I got some time ago, hoping to find some slides.  Naturally, as soon as I got the projector, the supply of slides in the thrifts dried up.  Still, one likes to be prepared, and this was still in its original shrinkwrap, so how could I resist?  Savers, $4.00

3.  Poly Perk!  I've been wanting a little percolator to use at work because I find those K Cups too expensive, not to mention a huge waste.  All that plastic for one cup of coffee?  No, thanks.  So this looked perfect, or at least I thought it did.  I'm actually going to give it back.  See the "5" above the top crown?  That came off easily with a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser.  Unfortunately, some wiseacre wrote "Hobo Frank" on the other side in Sharpie and I thought I would be able to get it off.  Well, no amount of assistance from Mr. Clean did a thing, nor did straight acetone.  Sorry, but I'm just not going to use a "Hobo Frank" coffee pot.  Especially at work.  Not much harm done, though, as it was only $3.00 at Savers (disregard the "5" as I did.  Didn't even notice it until I got it home.


Would you believe me if I said he looked even worse in person?  Maybe it was his size (almost 2 feet tall, I bet), or maybe it was the pink toenails.  I think, though, it was the lines by his mouth that really did me in.  Eek.

Bargain of the Week Department! Lookit--something new has been added. So I guess in addition to my thrift finds, I'll post my BotW if there is one.  This week it's

Detergent!  Both Rite Aid and CVS had a buy one, get two free sale on Purex.  We've used it before and I guess it works about as well as any other detergent.  Ninety-nine loads worth for $6.29, which works out to 6.4 cents per load.  Not bad.  Hubster figures we do 7 loads of wash a week, so this should last us over three months.  But we won't even start using it until we've run out of the Sears detergent we got at least six months ago.

Which makes me think of something Smart People say:  Buy it when it's cheap, not when you need it.  To which I would add If you'll use it up before it goes bad and if you have room to keep it.  This won't spoil, so I'm not worried if it takes a while to use up.  And I have room to keep it, so win/win.  Frankly, I'd love to be able to buy one of those huge packages of paper towels, with like 50 rolls.  Unfortunately, I'd have no place to put it, unless I threw a cloth over it and made it into an end table.

What I made Department:

Not my picture

Not my picture, either

A:  Chili and Cornbread.  Well, I made the cornbread yesterday, but the chili is from a few weeks ago, via the freezer.  What with today's weather, this will be a good dinner tonight.

B:  Portuguese Spiced Pork and Couscous.  The pork came from that bigass loin I got a couple of months ago.  it doesn't look like much, but it sure is delicious.  This is something my Grandmother made and Mom made, and now I guess it's my turn.  Mine isn't as good as theirs, but Hubby kept going back later for "just another bite."  So I call that a win.

And that's it for this week.  I'm hoping to have a better week next week, but I realize I say that all the time and nothing ever really happens.  Still, doesn't hurt to cross one's fingers, right?

(Whew.  Accidentally closed the wrong tab and I thought I lost this whole post!  Thank you, Blogger for your excellent Auto Save!)

Monday, March 10, 2014

Thrifting Finds #47: This time, there's Pyrex!


As you can probably tell by my light 'n breezy tone, this was a significantly better week for thrifting than I've had lately.  I didn't get anything that I could resell for a fortune, and everything I got was useful and practical, but I'm happy with each and every purchase.

We did not go to the second part of the estate sale that I reported on last week.  Not for any moral reasons you understand, we just got a late start yesterday.  We would have arrived at the sale a half-hour before it closed and it didn't seem worth making the side trip.  I'm still signed up with, so if anything comes up, we'll give it another shot.

Anyway. On to what I got!

1.  A Food Merry-Go-Round!  I've noticed that the food in my microwave just isn't having a very good time, so I got it a little ride.  This is actually the second one I bought, the first turned out to be a dud.  This was just on the shelf so I could open it up and test it before purchasing.  I don't think it had ever been used. Savers, $4.00

2.  Another cookbook? Yeah, but look--it's not just any old way to Better Cooking: it's the Blender way!  I don't use my blender very often and I ran across this cookbook in an old ad somewhere and thought I'd see if I could find it.  Well darned if it wasn't just staring at me from the shelf at the store.  It's one of those typical blender cookbooks that has recipes for things like Cornish Game Hens--22 ingredients, only three of which actually become acquainted with the blender.  And even then, it'd be easier to just pull out a knife and chop by hand.  Once I stopped paying attention to the strained blender involvement, it turned out to be not half-bad.  Couple of things I want to try, actually.  Rescue Mission Thrift, $2.00

3.  Pyrex!  After making the rice that went with last week's Lemon Chicken, I discovered that the jar I had been using to store it smelled funky.  Perfect excuse to buy another piece of Tupperware, right?  I thought so too, until I came across this which is the right size, I think.  Savers, $3.00
Oh, P.S.:  Regular rice is kept in Tupperware.  Converted rice in Pyrex.  See how organized I am?

4.  New Electric Knife!  I was pretty pleased to find this baby--new in box, never opened.  The box was in kind of bad condition--clearly stored in a hot attic for years, which started dry-rotting the paper, but it's not like I'm going to keep the box anyway.  I loved my old Sunbeam electric knife but it died and I've been using some soulless Black and Decker horror that was made in China.  So I'm really glad to have this back in stock.  The storage rack is going because I don't need it and have no room for it.  Goodwill, $8.00

5.  More Pyrex!  I'm always on the lookout for a gravy boat that can go in the microwave.  So many of them have a gold or platinum band (that makes a dramatic display when you microwave it. Ask me how I know.)  Butterfly Gold isn't a pattern I collect (or even really like), but I couldn't pass up this little beauty with its matching saucer, especially when they also had a Spring Green gravy boat without the saucer for a buck more.  Naturally, I'd prefer blue cornflowers, but one can't always have what one wants.  Goodwill, $3.00.

In Other News Department:

It's always a good day when the vintage cookware arrives!  I had a set of Wearever Bounty cookware that said you could go ahead and use metal utensils.  Unfortunately, I did, and it didn't turn out well.  So I found this set on the 'bay and won it.  With shipping, it came to like $31.00, which I think was pretty good. One, two, and three-quart saucepans, small and large skillets and a 5-quart Dutch Oven, all with matching lids.  Brand new, never used. I'm really liking cooking in them, and despite what the instructions say, I will not be using metal utensils.  I've also learned not to put shiny aluminum in the dishwasher.

What I Made Department:

Not my picture

A:  Guacamole!  I've spent quite a lot of my life scraping guacamole off things under the assumption that I don't like it.  Well, when Aldi had avocados for 59 cents, I got one, thinking that they're really good for you and that maybe I should just suck it up:  one avocado ain't gonna kill me.  Once it got ripe, I pulled down my BH&G Cookbook and sort of followed the recipe--it called for lemon juice, salt, and chili powder.  I added some brown mustard as well for a little kick.  Wellsir, it was delish.  I had to force myself to not eat the whole bowl.  The Hubs said it was good, but unlike any guacamole he had ever had.  Unfortunately, I made the rookie mistake of thinking that closing up the leftovers in some Tupperware would keep it from discoloring.  Not so.  The next day it was sort of brownish-purple, the color of a really dandy bruise.  Ugh.  I'll know better this time.

B:  Potato Puff!  This recipe came from Dinner in a Dish that I got a while ago.  How to describe it?  Well, it's chicken, cheese, and broccoli (the recipe called for carrots) mixed in with mashed potatoes and egg yolks, then lightened with stiffly-beaten egg whites.  Sort of a souffle for imbeciles.  Odd, no?  Naturally, I had to try it.  And really, once we got over the initial shock, it was darn tasty!  I'll tell you though, I had some doubts about serving this.  Once plated, it was ugly.  I mean really bad.  Like something the dog couldn't keep down.  Luckily, it smelled good, so that was a plus.  And I got to pull out the MIghty Kenmore to whip those egg whites. so another plus.
On the other hand, I had to whip egg whites, and then fold them in.  I don't fold; it's too much work.  And I don't normally go to that much trouble for an ordinary dinner. Plus, it had to be baked in a bain marie.   And it took forever; after an hour in the oven, the middle was still jiggly.  
It was good enough to try again, though Hubs and I decided next time to forego the eggs entirely.  And I think I'll sprinkle more cheese on top.

And that's it for this week, kids.  I'm proudly linking up with Sir Thrift A Lot, Thrifter/Maker/Fixer/FarmThe Nifty Thrifty  and We Call It Junkin.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Thrifting Finds #46 and Something New!


It's March 3 and we're having another snow storm.  Work is closed, schools are closed, everything is closed.  Predictions (depending on whom you listen to) are for anywhere from 8 to 12 inches of snow.

I'm tempted to go outside and shake my fist at the sky and scream "Enough!"  like an old man.  Because I am one.

 Anyway.  We knew this was coming--and we're supposed to get more on Thursday, oh joy--so we made as many stops as we could this weekend.  Not that much turned up, you understand.  For some reason, the thrifts were all mobbed this weekend.  I can only imagine what the supermarkets were like.

But here's the Something New--we went to an estate sale!  I'm always totally jealous reading about the fabulous estate sales youall go to, several a week for each of you, it seems, and loaded to the rafters with cool stuff.  I don't know why, but we don't really seem to have estate sales around here.  Not to the extent everyone else does, anyway.

So I signed up with and got notice of a sale that was within a reasonable distance.  In fact, it was not far at all from our usual Sunday route.  So we went.

It was the last day of a 2-day sale so we didn't expect to find much.  We just sort of went for the experience, I guess.  I'm not sure I'll be able to go to any more.  I found myself feeling kind of creepy and embarrassed.  I mean, here was this person's house, kitchen cabinets and closets flung open for the world to paw through in the cruel light of day.  And there was nothing they could do about it. 

Do any of you ever feel this way?  Or is it just me?  Will I get over it?  Part two is next week and I don't know if we should go or not .  Am I just being silly?

I only managed to find one item this week:

1. What?  Another cookbook?  First there was the Cooky book.  Then there was Dinner in a Dish.  And now this.  You know what they say--three of anything makes a collection, so apparently I'm collecting Betty Crocker cookbooks.  I only flipped through it briefly, but it looks kind of cute.

And that's all I found.  Hopefully, next week will be better.  Keep your fingers crossed, won't you?

What I Made Department:

A:  Beef vegetable soup:  Knowing what the weather was going to be like this week, it seemed like a good choice.  And will be, when we have some tonight.

B:  7-Up Biscuits:  No picture, I'm afraid.  This was one of those recipes that pops up on Facebook, and I'm a sucker for weird recipes that contain some "magic" ingredient.  It's just 4 cups of Bisquick, a cup of sour cream, and a cup of 7-Up.  The instructions say the dough "will be soft" but not to worry.  Well, I did worry.  It was not a dough so much as a batter.  Making these was so frustrating!  It was like trying to wrangle quicksilver and made a HUGE mess and I ended up tossing almost half the "dough."  They came out all right, but they certainly weren't worth the trouble.  If I ever make these again, I'll do them as drop biscuits.  Oh, they're baked in a puddle of melted butter, by the way.

C:  Lemon Chicken with Broccoli:  This is actually a Weight Watcher's recipe that a friend (who is a famously picky eater) passed on to me.  Neither Hubs nor I were particularly impressed.  It was kind of meh.  If I make this again, I'm going to up the amount of lemon considerably and add a lot more pepper, too.

And that's it kids.  Another slim week, I'm afraid.  Maybe next week will be better.  On the other hand, I feel like I'm getting another damn cold.

Linking up this week with Sir Thrift A Lot, Thrifter/Maker/Fixer/Farmand We Call It Junkin.