Monday, June 23, 2014

Thrifting Finds #61: Hey, we haven't found any 200-dollar clocks lately...

Today's post is going to be more about thriftiness than it is about thrifting.  That's because the thrift store situation this week was even worse than last week.

And this despite the fact that a brand-new Goodwill opened up that's right on our usual Sunday Thrifting Route!  It's a big store, nice and neat, with tons of stuff, just nothing that I even thought twice about. Plus, it was full of middle-aged women with an inflated sense of entitlement.  You know the type--Starbucks cup in one hand, pushing a cart with the other, blocking everyone while she either has a loud cellphone conversation, or worse, uses her phone to look up every single item on ebay.

I was glad to get out of there.

What makes this doubly disappointing is the fact that, after doing the math, I discovered that Hubs and I visited nine thrift stores this weekend.  Really, doesn't the law of averages kick in at some point?  Shouldn't I have found something somewhere?  Oh, well.  That's that much less money that I'm out of, right?  (A good thing, considering how expensive this weekend might have been.  More about that in a minute.)

So as not to disappoint, here's a Blast From the Past, a Golden Oldie if you will:

Howard Miller clock! Howard Miller?  Or Herman Miller?  I always get those two confused.  Whichever, I found this beauty at the Goodwill a few years back and I believe did a little Happy Dance when I did.  When I was in line to pay for it, the guy behind me kept asking "Is that something?  Is that something valuable?"  I just smiled and said that I really liked the color, which was the absolute truth.  I paid $5.00 for this little baby and sold it on eBay for over 200 bucks, which is the origin of Hubs and me saying "Hey, we haven't found any 200-dollar clocks lately."

And as far as thrifting goes, that's it.  Please, can next week be better?  I haven't found anything really cool in quite some time.  Geez.

Ringplus update:  Well, I switched my cellphone over to Ringplus more than a month ago, and I'm happy with the service.  I would recommend the service to anyone who isn't a heavy user and/or has ready access to WiFi.  Oh, and has good coverage on the Sprint network.  Here's how it breaks down:

Virgin Mobile:  300 talk minutes, unlimited texts and data (though after 2.5gb of data, they throttle you):  $37.70/month with tax.

Ringplus:  400 talk minutes, 400 texts, 300mb of data:  $11.91/month including tax.

Difference: $25.79/month.

Last month, I used less than 20 minutes of talk and maybe 15mb of data, and a handful of texts.  So far this month (16 days left in the cycle), I've used 1 minute of talk, 63 texts(unusual for me), and less than 3mb of data.  So the Ringplus plan definitely fits me better than Virgin Mobile.  They have a number of different plans, so it's easy to tailor your service to how you actually use your phone.  My data is low because I almost exclusively use WiFi (which is faster anyway.)  Strangely, if you send MMS (picture or group) texts, they cost $.07 each.  Kind of odd, but doable.

Keep in mind that if you switch, you may have to buy a new phone.  P.S.  I am loving my Samsung Galaxy SIII.

So what am I doing with that 25 bucks a month that I save?  It's going right in the bank.

Bargain of the Week!  Well, relatively speaking, anyway.  We got a call from The Girl Child that the Mac laptop we bought her after graduating (like 5 years ago) is on its last legs.  The screen has been held together with binder clips for a couple of years now (but they're Vera Bradley binder clips, so they're chic), but after falling off the tray table on the train, the screen is officially dead. Luckily, she can hook it up to her TV and use it, but now it overheats and really, its days are numbered.  The GC indicated how she would someday like a Macbook Air, maybe for Christmas?

Fast forward a couple of days, to a deal that Best Buy was offering.  To wit, a Macbook Air, on sale for 800 bucks, 100 bucks off the regular price.  Oh, but if you have an email address ending in .edu, they'll take off another $150.  Hard to say no to that, right?
Overpriced Apple product
So, instead of paying $900 plus tax, we only paid $650 plus tax.  Eh, we could have done worse, right? What gripes me is that an Intel based laptop of similar ability would have cost about half that much.  Unfortunately, The GC is an Apple Fangirl.  Which brings us to

How this might have been an expensive weekend:  On Saturday, we got the dreaded call from The Girl Child:  "Daddy, I dropped my phone and now it doesn't work!" (She was using The Boyfriend's phone.)


She can't be without a phone, because what if her agent calls about an audition?  (Is that straight out of "That Girl" or what?)

We were out at the time, so we said that once we got home, we'd start the ball rolling on getting her a new one.  Thank goodness for phone insurance.  What's this--the deductible is $175.00?  That's highway robbery!  Still, it's better than paying full price, right?

You can imagine our chagrin then, when we discovered that we had neglected to purchase said insurance.

Double crap.

How did we do that?  The Girl Child and Phone Insurance go together like peanut butter and jelly (girl is hard on phones.)  Clearly, we are old and feeble and shouldn't be left without adult supervision.

How much would a new phone cost?  Oh, about $450.00.

Triple crap.

I decided not to worry about it for the time being and to go ahead and take a nap.  As soon as I lay down, I got a fabulous idea:

You know how every year or so the credit card company sends that little booklet of all the benefits of having a platinum card?  Well, why don't I give them a call and see if they can do anything?

The gal I spoke with at the Benefits Center couldn't have been nicer and more helpful (this was a Wells Fargo Visa, so if you do this, YMMV.)  Unfortunately, what the card does is double the original manufacturer's warranty, and since dropping the phone isn't covered, it was no go.  It would be different, she said, if we used the card to pay for the monthly service.

Oh but My Dear, we do!

In that case, she said excitedly, we're covered for loss, damage and theft as well!  Twenty-five dollar deductible!  Woo hoo!  There's a certain amount of jumping through hoops that has to be done (mostly involving gathering paperwork), but it sure beats paying $450 for a new phone.  

Because Apple has such a stranglehold on their products, The GC would have to take the phone to an Apple store and have them see if it can be repaired or if it would need to be replaced.

To make a long story even longer, The GC went to the Apple store, and guess what?  The warranty does cover dropping the phone!  It doesn't cover dropping it, say, in the toilet though. Apparently, if you get it wet, all bets are off.  So after they configured a phone for her, she got it right there, no paperwork involved.  Even better, no money involved.


So while we didn't have to take advantage of the platinum card benefits, the lesson learned is that the benefits are there, and you might as well use them if you can.

What I Made Department:  I haven't done one of these in a while, so I thought I'd throw this in.  

Remember this cookbook from a while ago?

Well, I was poking around on and came across this video:  Comprehending Blending.  (Sorry, I can't figure out how to embed it.)

Which inspired me to drag out the blender and the cookbook.  I made Cheese Dip and Mock Sour cream, neither of which I bothered to take a picture of (they just weren't very photogenic.)  The dip was good, though we both thought it needed a little something extra--lemon juice, maybe.  The mock sour cream is basically cottage cheese, water, and a little lemon, whizzed until it's smooth.  It's a pretty good impostor if you ask me.

And this cookbook from last week:

Well, I actually made a dish from it:  Hearty Sausage and Green Bean Casserole:

It was actually pretty good.  Hubs requested that it go into the regular rotation, which is high praise indeed!  I doctored it up some because the only seasonings it called for were salt and pepper.  I threw in a good spoonful of roasted green chilis and a number of shakes of hot sauce.  The final result had a slight kick, just enough to notice, not enough to spoil the dish.  The biscuits on top were a little weird and random.  I'm thinking next time I might just serve it over rice instead.

And I think that's about it.  Funny how this was such a long post, despite having so little thrift store involvement.  Well, nobody ever accused me of being short-winded!

Linking up with Sir Thrift A Lot, Thrifter/Maker/Fixer/Farm, and We Call It Junkin even though I probably shouldn't, and I'm going to try to remember to do my linkup with Dawn before the last minute this time!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Thrifting Finds #60: Say, wasn't he in Dr. Strangelove?

...Because it's been "slim pickens" lately.  (CWIDT?)

So I'm sure youall are disappointed that I had no post last week.  I didn't want to add to your pain, so I thought I'd pop in today and post the ONLY thing I've been able to find at the thrift stores in a couple of weeks.

But first, let me go on one of my famous rambles.  We didn't get to do much thrifting last week because we went to a wedding. It was lovely, but the whole day was filled with weirdness.  For one thing, hubs and I were THE ONLY TWO PEOPLE IN THE STATE who didn't know the entrance for I70 was closed.  This added a good 45 minutes to our trip, making us exactly 30 minutes late for the wedding.  As we pulled into the church lot, I said "Well, we'll at least be able to catch the end."

Not so.  As soon as we got out of the car, people started streaming out of the church.  Really?  Assuming the wedding started on the dot, the whole ceremony lasted less than half an hour.  Isn't that kind of fast, particularly for a church wedding?  And add in the fact that weddings never start on time.  Oh, well.

So we then headed off to the reception.  Someone (who shall remain nameless) was supposed to be reading the directions and watching the signs because I was busy driving.  Well, that someone kind of fell asleep at the switch and we overshot our turn by like 4 miles.  We finally arrived safe and sound.

Unfortunately, we were seated at a table with one person we know and 9 total strangers.  Luckily, there were two open spaces at another table with friends of ours, so we jumped ship.

In need of alcoholic fortification, I decided to try Scotch for the first time (the bar was pouring the Good Stuff, so I figured it was safe.)  Well.  For those of you who have never tried it, the best way I can describe it is that it tastes like a funeral.  Really, I can't be more specific than that.  It was depressing.

The reception was lovely, though the Mashed Potato Bar (that I had been eagerly anticipating) was a huge disappointment.  They were garlic mashed potatoes, which I can't abide.  The gourmet mac & cheese, on the other hand, was absolutely delicious.

I almost forgot:  One of the guests was wearing a straw hat at the reception.  A straw hat with a huge (8 inch, maybe) bug stuck to the top.

Okay, first of all, why did he think this was appropriate to wear to a wedding?  And worse, why was he wearing it indoors?  I'm sorry, but you take your hat off when you go inside.  It's still a rule.

When we left, it was raining. Naturally.  We wanted to go home by a different route because on the way out we saw a HUGE backup in the other direction that didn't look like it was going to clear up any time soon.  So we put our faith in Jack, our GPS.  Jack's a nice guy, but he's kind of slow, and often quite stupid; he's supposed to route us around backups, but he drove us right into that one on the way out.  So we were a little hesitant about trusting his judgment, but what choice did we have?

I had a brief moment of panic when I saw the "Welcome to Pennsylvania" sign, but hubs assured me it wasn't as bad as I thought.

Part of our conversation on the way home went like this:

Me:  "Man, I just hate driving these winding country roads in the dark.  And the rain.  Why are there no street lights?  Shouldn't there be some street lights?

Hubs:  "You're doing fine."

Me:  "Yeah, I know, but I wish we'd get on a street that didn't look so Bates Motel-ish."

Because that's what it looked like.

Anyway, we made it home safe and sound.  Yesterday was spent helping Hubs at the office, so we didn't get much thrifting done this weekend either, but I did find one thing:

1.  Not another Betty Crocker cookbook!  Yep, 'fraid so.  I have never seen this one before, nor even heard of it.  There's a perpetual calendar on one page and recipes and stuff on the other.  I don't think the calendar would be too useful, but there's a lot of trivia and interesting stuff beside the recipes.  I think this is going to be a fun one.

Okay, so you read through all that just for this.  My apologies.  Hopefully. next week will be better.

I probably shouldn't, but I'm going to  link up with  Sir Thrift A Lot, Thrifter/Maker/Fixer/Farm, and We Call It Junkin because I have no shame.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Thrifting Finds #59: Thwarted again!

Greetings, fellow Thrifters!

I hope you had a better week than I did, 'cause mine was kind of pathetic.  Not as bad as a couple of weeks ago, but pretty sad nonetheless.

We had good intentions, but were thwarted.  Turns out this was the Goodwill's weekend for their company picnic.  This happened last year as well.  Now, we were at all three of the closed Goodwills last week.  Did any of them have a sign in the window?  No.  I mean really--is a week's notice too much to ask?  Geez.

So.  I wish I had some chatty news to share, or an amusing story at least but...yeah.  I got nothin'.

Well, okay, here's a little story.  Remember last week when I was looking for some Butterfly Gold plates to replace my Exploding Centura?  First time in months I didn't come across any. Or any Corelle, for that matter (I wasn't locked in to Butterfly Gold.  I'd have taken pretty much anything.)  Well lookie what I found this week:

1.  Spring Blossom Green!  So now I feel a little better that I won't be exploding any more dishes in the microwave.  I fully expected to pay a buck a plate for these, which I was okay with because it would save my better china. Imagine my shock when I saw they were bargain priced--Goodwill, $0.48 each.

And that's it for thrifted finds, I'm afraid.  Hubs and I also stopped at a flea market, but other than a couple more tubes of Avon hand cream, neither one of us found anything.

What I Made Department:

I haven't done this in a while because I haven't made anything interesting lately.  Yesterday, I made a dish from White Trash Cooking:

Nobody's Corn Topper Casserole!  I offer this up not so much as a look at something tasty, but more as a warning.  Don't make this.
The ingredients seemed okay--green beans, onion, ham, cream of celery soup, creamed corn with a little Bisquick added (??)  I put some cheese on top because it seemed to need it.  Hubs, who doesn't like creamed corn said that was all he could taste.  All I could taste was the green beans (canned green beans are as bad as canned peas.)  It was both extremely salty and extremely bland at the same time, oddly enough, and the undiluted soup was a bit cloying. And the ham had a weird, pointy mouthfeel.

It looks kind of good though, doesn't it?  Which only served to increase our disappointment.

I probably shouldn't even bother, considering, but I'm going to go ahead and link up with  Sir Thrift A Lot, Thrifter/Maker/Fixer/Farm, and We Call It Junkin. anyway.