Showing posts with label thrift. Show all posts
Showing posts with label thrift. Show all posts

July 14, 2014

The Literary Library Baby Shower

Summer definitely seems to be both wedding and baby season. I'm not sure if it's the heat (and thus less layers of clothing, revealing bumps...) but I've certainly noticed more pregnant ladies out and about in town.

A few weeks ago, I shared with you my Skype non-shower baby shower. This week, I'd like to tell you about the Book Shower my local friends threw me here: B is for Books, Babies and Brenda! 

The hostess knew I didn't want a traditional shower with goofy games, although we made an exception for the 'game' part and actually watched the US play Portugal in the World Cup during the shower. How non-traditional is that?! Sadly, none of us managed to get a photo of the TV in the background as proof! 

The invitation asked everyone to bring a book, and specified that thrifted ones were absolutely fine. In fact, several thrifted books were used to create super fun vintage-like bunting, and many of the thrifted books were classics that are difficult to find these days. 

In keeping with the theme, the food spread matched the books.

The Tale of Peter Rabbit inspired veggie crudites, complete with hummus on bottom of the 'planters'. 

The somewhat infamous Orange Marmalade Poppyseed cake even made an appearance. This has been my no-fail cake for years now and I agreed to make it for my own party. (I'm hoping to finally share the recipe with you if I can get permission from the magazine publisher!

And Blueberries for Sal gave way to a delightful blueberry drink concoction! (I'm super excited about this book. I loved Make Way for the Ducklings as a child and I never knew that the author, Robert McCloskey, wrote this one too!) 

Of course books were also involved... 

I loved the library as a child (and I still do!) but there are a number of these books I'd never heard of or read, so I'm excited that the Peanut already has quite a stash of reading material for the years to come! 

I don't remember ever reading The Sailor Dog -- a Little Golden Book about a dog named Scuppers who wants to sail on the sea. 

But as soon as I got home that evening, I read this one aloud to the Peanut before bedtime. And as silly as I felt reading a book to my belly, I'm pretty sure this might become one of my favorite books to read to the Peanut, especially when the Sailor is away to sea. 

I'm super thankful for friends far away for the Skype Shower, and the local ladies who know me well enough to host a Book Shower for Baby. 

(And an extra special thank you to my friend and the evening's hostess, Tianna, for making the latter happen! She and I shared creative spaces together while working onboard a hospital ship many moons ago... and it's super fun to live in the same city as her now. Most of these photos were taken by her.)

June 24, 2014

Pyrex Not-So-Pretties

My vintage Pyrex collection has definitely taken a backseat to the amount of stuff we are acquiring for the Peanut. While I'm not storing baby clothes in the kitchen (yet), I have still been clearing out the cupboards to simply make some breathing room. I managed to sell a few pieces of Pyrex a while back, and there's a stack of dishes waiting at the door for their chance to make someone else happy. 

Understandably, I've limited my 'hunt' for more Pyrex. I have still searched for Pyrex whenever I'm out and about, but I haven't found many pieces worth writing about, let alone purchasing. However, a few weeks ago, I went to a thrift store and spied these three little pieces. 

They were (and still are) in rough shape. Someone either scrubbed them too hard or ran them through the dishwasher. And they cost a little more than I wanted to spend on not-so-pretty Pyrex. 

And yet I found myself at the checkout, with these three little less-than-perfect bowls in my hand. 

You see, I found a lonely little yellow bowl ages ago... just the right size for a small serving of fridge milk tart.

The bowl is also the right size for a small serving of M&Ms. (Because let's face it, if the bag is out, I'll eat them all...)

Later, I found the matching larger hostess bowl, along with the even larger hostess bowl and four square dessert cups. 

But the rest of the little yellow bowls still eluded me. In all of my thrifting and antiqueing adventures, I had yet to even see another tiny yellow bowl just like the one I had.

So you can understand then why I ended up paying $6 for three tiny bowls that weren't in great shape. 

After all, they are simply perfect for that tiny bit of ice-cream I like to indulge in fairly often. The Peanut seems to enjoy the ice cream too... although I'm pretty sure he or she doesn't care which bowl I eat it out of. But perhaps these less-than-perfect bowls will be perfect for when the Peanut is old enough to eat his or her own little bowl of ice cream. 

May 22, 2014

Clearly Pyrex

It goes without saying that spring cleaning and purging means more trips to the thrift store to drop off items than to actually shop... although I have managed to eek in a few trips inside to scope out potential prizes. 

I've come up pretty empty-handed. (I'm sure I can hear the Sailor cheer from across the globe...) In fact, in my clear-out, I've sold some miscellaneous Pyrex that I decided I no longer used or needed in my collection. (Again, that cheer... the cabinets are probably breathing a sigh of relief too.)

But a few weeks ago I managed to dawdle through an antique store and I found another Pyrex See 'N' Store Canister in Wildflower. 

It was a little pricier than I wanted to spend, but you know what... I got the rest of these at such a bargain that I decided I could spare a few bucks. Plus, I use these things ALL of the time -- especially when I'm baking!

I love being able to open the cupboard and actually see how much sugar and flour and oatmeal I have available. For some reason, packaging tends to make me a little crazy. Sometimes it's nice to not bring some other company's branding into my home.  I know it's one extra step when I bring home the groceries, but for my sanity, it's totally worth it.

Plus, when I have the stuff on the counter and I spill liquid... I don't ruin half a flour bag. I can just wipe off the canister. So much easier!  I have other Pyrex canisters storing granola bars and nuts, and I even keep cereal in clear containers (although they are from IKEA and not Pyrex. It will take a while until I find enough of these glass containers at affordable prices for everything.) 

How about you? Is your cupboard clearly see-through? 

March 2, 2014

Vintage Cooking

Over the weekend, I hosted a small gathering of local ladies as part of a cooking club. Soon after we moved here, one of the members got married and moved overseas, and I got drafted in to fill her seat. Every meeting offers a new theme and everyone brings a dish -- an intimate potluck, if you will. The hostess provides the drinks and party flair. 

This month's theme was my idea and of course I picked 'vintage'. Any excuse to pull out the Pyrex, I say.  

My vintage recipe books hold a cornucopia of old-fashioned recipes, so I was excited to see what the gals would cook up. They didn't disappoint. We had baked brie (divine), old fashioned PA Dutch Pot-Pie (homemade noodles; no crust involved), pistachio jello salad (yum) and a pineapple upside down cake (yes, please!)  

All I had to do was supply the beverages. I desperately wanted to use my punch bowl that I thrifted last summer. But every vintage punch recipe I saw had waaaayyyy too much booze in it. I'm all for a good tipple, but many recipes called for three or four different types of alcohol mixed together. And the quantities were astounding. This was an intimate affair -- not a party for 40. 

I finally found this one from the 1960s -- a bourbon punch. I halved the recipe and I mixed together the lemons, seltzer, tea and sugar first, and it was delightful all on its own. It reminded me of tea cooler -- that summertime blend of lemonade and iced tea. I ended up only using a quarter of the bourbon called for though -- it was plenty strong just like that and reminded everyone of a good whiskey sour. 

I think my favorite part of making the punch, besides getting to use actual vintage punch cups and the bowl, was the giant ice block. I poured water into my smallest bundt pan, added lemons to it and let it freeze. Rather than having small ice cubes melt away and dilute the drink, the giant block melted much slower and was just fun to watch bobbing around in the bowl.

Not to be outdone, the non-alcoholic option was just as tasty. I made this raspberry cordial, àla Anne of Green Gables. I halved the cordial and it still made a ton. Considering this hardly took any time or effort, I think I might be making a lot more cordial in the future! 

I served the cordial with a bottle of seltzer water (cordial is far too sweet on its own and should be diluted) on a Pyrex plate, and as an added vintage bonus, I included glass swizzle sticks for guests to stir their mixture together. I've been hunting for vintage swizzle sticks for a long time, and I found these three cute ones with sailboats on them, last week at a thrift store. 

While the vintage cooking theme was a resounding success in my book, I do realize that not all vintage recipes appeared (or tasted!) as lovely as ours. For a good laugh, check out BuzzFeeds's 21 Truly Upsetting Vintage Recipes. If the photos alone don't make you laugh out loud, the captions definitely should!

December 27, 2013

Holiday Indulgences and Lamb Leftovers

Hope you all had a wonderful holiday, wherever and however you celebrated! 

The Sailor and I enjoyed a slow-roasted lamb roast (YUM) and veggies, including baby carrots from our garden. 

I brought out the vintage Federal Glass 'Golden Glory' plates I thrifted eons ago, along with the matching platter I found a few months ago at an antique shop. I also found this glorious tablecloth for only a few dollars at an antique store over Thanksgiving... and while I purchased it with plans for a holiday party in mind, it suited the table for two just right.

A Pyrex casserole dish also made an appearance (of course). Overall, our day was lovely. Not stressful and just the right amount of overindulgence on food. 

And of course, there was also mince pie, cheesecake and sugar cookies for dessert. 

The best part about having all of that food were leftovers for Boxing Day on December 26th. I thought leftover Thanksgiving turkey sandwiches were the business, but the Sailor showed me how to make a mean leftover lamb sandwich. (Heat up some chopped onion and tomato with a little sugar and oil... toast the bun or bread, shred the lamb, add spinach, cheese and sweet chilli sauce. EAT. Enjoy. Repeat as often as necessary.

While America doesn't really recognize Boxing Day, it's popular in England and other parts of the world. And when we woke up to a leaf blower outside our apartment building on the day after Christmas, the Sailor reminded me that America missed the memo on having another day off.

Next week, I'll be posting some (non) New Year's Resolutions ideas, as well as highlights from Typing Sunflowers from 2013. In the meantime, enjoy those leftovers. And if you missed Boxing Day this year... at least pretend it's another holiday over the weekend! 

December 24, 2013

Twinkle, Twinkle Simple Star

I've always been a bit of a minimalist with Christmas decorations. Perhaps it's because it often seems like I'm in transition, or because I don't have a lot of space. I've moved around a lot over the years. Storage used to be at a premium in our household. Now that we've relocated to a larger place, we do actually have storage space, but I still don't like to clutter it up with a lot of items that only get used for a few weeks out of the year. 

However, I admittedly love twinkle lights -- the plain old white kind that don't blink. 

There is something calming about them. They remind me of stars on a cold clear night. And stars to me symbolize direction. They were how seafarers of old navigated the oceans. Stars are there to remind us which hemisphere and season we're in -- even when the weather tells us otherwise. Plus, let's face it -- they're practical. They actually illuminate a room. I even keep them out through the dark nights of January and February.

My symbolic stars are the one consistent decoration I always string up for the holidays. Even when I lived on a ship off the coast of Africa, I still hung up white lights in my cozy cabin. 

I like to have a single star hanging somewhere, too. When I decorated my cabin door for Christmas one year on the ship, I made a huge star and hung it there. Now, I have a single silvery glittery ornament acquired in a Christmas clearance that hangs in a window. This year it's flanked by two snowflakes. It's unlikely that I'll see the real stuff this year where we live. 

Last year, I branched out with decorating for the holidays and I found a small tree for a whole dollar at a thrift store. I call it my Charlie Brown tree... it's only about a foot tall, and it's the perfect size for the miniature wooden ornaments I thrifted on the same day. 

The other week some friends came over for dinner, and as soon as they arrived, they commented on our IKEA shelf. The next breath, they asked us if we had a Christmas tree. 

The Charlie Brown tree was right on that same IKEA shelf. 

They had missed it. I guess I had too many twinkle lights on the shelf -- the tree kind of got lost. I think so often in the glitz and glamor of this season, we miss it too. Not the Christmas tree itself, but something a whole lot deeper. 

I missed it for years. I grew up in a church that didn't celebrate Christmas. (That, dear readers, is a long story for another time....) For years I dismissed the Christmas story itself simply because I didn't believe it actually occurred in December. But whatever time of year it happened is somewhat irrelevant to me now, because I believe it did actually occur at some point.

My father-in-law joked last week that Christmas has become man's tradition. It's true. But remember what I said earlier about stars symbolizing direction... my man-made stars and lights simply remind me of what I already believe.

Over two thousand years ago, the Magi followed a star. In this day and age of Google Maps and GPS systems, it seems so simple (and even a little crazy!) that the wise men of the day merely followed a star to find the One they knew they had to worship. A star

This holiday season, in the midst of gift-wrapping, parties and holiday cookies, remember to reflect on the greatest gift ever given. Remember that this gift is free... with no strings attached. And the next time you see a simple star in the sky, remember the Magi and the reason they set off on their journey in the first place. 

May your own journeys take you to wonderous and delightful places this season. 

Merry Christmas! 

December 17, 2013

Buttons and Baubles

I confess to having a slight addiction to buttons. But really, who doesn't... especially those of us who make stuff? 

I have quite a stash of old buttons that my mom passed along to me -- I'm pretty sure some of them were my Grandma's, and over the years I've accumulated even more. Lately, I've been gravitating towards the buttons still on their cards. It's fun to see what the price used to be on them -- and if I'm out at a thrift store or antique store, even a small purchase of a few buttons on a card is somewhat of a thrill. 

Buttons can make or break a handcrafted project -- pick the right ones and your whole garment, bag, or hat looks amazing. Pick the wrong ones... well... just take them off and look through your stash to find an even better button! 

I have been known to buy a whole bag of buttons at a craft store for just one color.

I have been known to swoon at entire walls filled with buttons. 

I have photographed buttons for photo shows. (You can also do this... just get one of those clear baubles from a craft store with a removable lid. Insert buttons. Take photos!)

 But really, my weakness is those vintage buttons still on their cards.

Some of the latest acquisitions... stored in vintage Pyrex, of course.

I can't wait to use these buttons in something. How about you? Button collector or not?

December 11, 2013

Holiday Greetings Display

Over the years, I've lived in a number of places where sticky (or blue) tack wasn't even allowed, let alone repainting or putting a nail in the wall to hang something. I got so used to small spaces and creative decorating, that even though now we have more than enough space in our new holiday apartment to string up holiday cards, I still like to keep them in one big bowl. 

Sadly, this bowl is no longer necessary for the plants it once housed -- shortly after we moved they showed some sickly signs. (They have been re-potted into other vessels in the hopes that I can revive them.) Nevertheless, the bowl is a great sized container to hold a few extra Christmas baubles and those cards. Most years, both the bowl and baubles change. Recently, I found these pretty blue ornaments at a thrift store and decided they were this year's color.

I got the idea from a magazine years ago... I don't remember which one, but I do know people often comment on how fun it is when they see the cards all piled in there. It's nice to be able to just pick up and flip through the cards throughout the season, rather than taping them shut so they don't flap on the wall when the heating blows through the apartment. 

And it also reminds me that I'm procrastinating on sending my own holiday greetings. So if you'll excuse me... there's a stack of cards to be written. 

How about you? Do you mail out holiday greetings? If so, how do you display them?

October 15, 2013

Bohemian Bag

I've already established that I usually have more than one project going when it comes to fiber fun. No matter what else I'm working on however, I always like to have a project with a simple repeat pattern going -- something I can do when friends come to visit, or while I'm watching TV in the evening. 

The above shawl, while simple, has such tiny stitches and some serious increases and decreases every few rows. I didn't want to repeat the mistake I made with it over the summer, so I'm working on it when I can focus (although I'm happy to report that there are 10 pattern repeats to make the big shawl -- I just finished #8. Hallelujah. I don't think I've ever worked on any knitting project as long as this one.) 

It's still 80 degrees here during the day, so I didn't really want to start something big like a blanket yet -- I'll save that for wintry, icy days when I need an extra layer on my lap to keep me warm. 

Instead, I scoured through my magazine stack and found this pattern for a shell crochet bag in Vogue Knitting Crochet 2012. (I know, I know, I already made this crochet bobble bag over the summer. But I've also already established that I love bags. Let me have my fun.

This thing doesn't look that big, but it can hold a ton of stuff. 

I plan to use it as a market bag. Now that it's finished, I can focus on finding a local apple orchard. It may still be warm outside, but I hear temperatures are supposed to drop next week. That means homemade applesauce, apple pie and dehydrated apples for snacking will all be calling my name.

And, if I'm still working on the shawl by that point, at least I'll have a cute crocheted bag to carry my project around town.

PS: Bag handles were thrifted. Wooden handles can be a little pricey, so I like to keep a look out for them at thrift stores. Sometimes perfectly good handles are attached to not-so-nice handbags that should never have made it as far as the thrift store. But at least the handles are useable!


September 17, 2013

Pretty Piles of Pyrex

Pyrex doesn't seem to be coming out with new patterns anytime soon. I think they're sticking with plain old clear glass, and letting the rest of us find our fun patterns in the thrift and antique stores as well as online on eBay and Etsy.

Etsy offers a plethora of fun Pyrex-related products. You can find notecards, posters, prints, jewelry and mosaics (made out of broken Pyrex!) and even lamp shades made out of Pyrex bowls. 

Not long ago, I came across Fresh Pastry Stand. The owner make all kinds of fun things, but her Pyrex screen-printed tea towels caught my eye. What's not to love about a tea towel? Useful, pretty and c'mon... they match my Butterprint Pyrex collection. I finally ordered a few towels tonight, because I know that with Fall around the corner, I'll be baking more and let's face it, washing more dishes. I may as well use pretty towels to wipe them dry.

Recently, the shop owner held a little Facebook competition to come up with new tea towel pattern ideas. Of course I entered. While I didn't win, I had fun coming up with new color combos and seeing the other entries.

Here are a few of my favorites from my own thrifted collection: 

And even though I mentioned in this post that I've never had a dishwasher, I do now, but it doesn't get much action. Vintage Pyrex should always be hand-washed and dried, preferably with a fun tea towel.

(Disclaimer: While I did receive a 25% off coupon for the Fresh Pastry Stand Etsy shop, for entering the Facebook contest, I received no compensation for this post.) 

August 30, 2013

Sew Cool

A few weeks ago, I found THIS: 

Sooooo cool, right? 


I posted the story on The Thrift Collective* -- you can read all about it right here

(The Thrift Collective has about 50 contributing members. Remember that if you browse the site, you will be reading various posts from different people --  not all of the posts are mine. In fact, today was my first post there. Contrary to popular belief in our household, I don't thrift THAT much!)

August 28, 2013

Simply Wine and Cheese, Please

My last post about tea reminded me so much of living in England that I thought I should explain how I got there. At the end of my third year of college, I was offered a 10-month internship overseas. Of course I said yes.

Having already volunteered two summers in Scotland, and decidedly blasé about postponing my college graduation for a year, I picked a flatmate and before I knew it, I found myself bashing around London as they say. 

I hardly knew how to cook, and the internship stipend proved meager at best. Luckily, the office where I worked had a cheap canteen and enough staff who recognized a foreigner living on pennies, that I got invited out often enough.

Young, impressionable, and thirsty, I spent a good portion of my time overseas in British pubs with my new friends. (I also lived in a house with no heat, so over the winter and when friends were too busy to accompany me, I bundled up and trudged the few meters up the road to my local establishment and spent hours writing in my journals, on my own, while nursing a soda. True story.)

When we weren't at the pub, often we gathered at someone's home for a wine and cheese evening.

It was the thing to do for any sort of event: house-warming party, a leaving-do or anniversary. Sometimes people hosted them for no reason at all except to hang out with friends. People came and went as they pleased, and in between we all drank wine and ate cheese. 

Simple as that. 
This week, a local friend had a birthday and I volunteered to host a wine and cheese gathering on her behalf. It's been a while since I've done a soirée of sorts (last December actually) but I was confident I could pull it off quickly and easily. Besides, I've moved into an apartment with a kitchen that is made for entertaining.   

I gathered the necessary nibbles and drink, and then the night before proceeded to Google 'wine and cheese party'. You know, in case I missed something.   

Clearly I had, because that day, when I mentioned that I was hosting a party, the wine clerk said he'd be terrified. He wouldn't even know where to start -- he had a hard enough time picking out cheese, let alone trying to pair them with the wine. 

Driving home, I started to panic. What was all of this pairing nonsense? I said I would host a wine and cheese -- is a wine and cheese in America different to all of the ones I've been to in the UK?! In all of those years, had I never been to a PROPER wine and cheese party? 

I didn't actually know everyone on the guest list. More panic. Maybe they're really posh... what if they think I'm a total wine and cheese dunce?

Google affirmed my fears. Every site I pulled up listed ways to pair the wine with the cheese and how to arrange the cheese on a board. I saw list upon list of which wines went with which kind of cheese and I got a little dizzy. Then they all said 'make sure to label' each cheese. And above all, only have 3-5 cheeses.

Forget that, I thought. 

The day of the party, I set up a lovely spread -- it was my friend's birthday after all, so I made the same coconut cake* that I made this past Mother's Day. I used the thrifted vintage snack sets (they were a huge hit) and I decided to do things the way I learned in England years ago.

I opened a few bottles of red and white, put some non-alcoholic beverages next to them, and unwrapped more than the recommended quantity of cheese and crackers. Of course I arranged everything nicely, but I didn't worry about which cheese was at 12 o'clock and which one was next to it. 

I certainly didn't worry about which wine went with which cheese.

Admittedly, at one point, I had both printer labels and toothpicks in my hands and I contemplated writing out the names of the cheese. The moment was brief. There would be no sad little white flags skewered in my cheese. 

When the time came for people to actually tuck in, I simply pointed to each cheese and said what they were. I figured that anyone coming later could ask me (I'm usually the one hovering by the food table in any case) or they could ask someone else. What better way to meet new people than to strike up a conversation with the person standing over the cheese?

I added a few chopped veggies, hummous, grapes, olives, nuts and dried fruit to the table spread. Chocolate also made an appearance, as did some summer sausage. But the cheese was still central -- so was the wine. 
And the only word I heard all night over the din of party chatter was 'delicious'.  
So, there really was no need to panic. My wine and cheese was a success. 

Now that it's over, I'll share my secret rules with you: 

1. Eat cheese
2. Drink wine
3. Be merry

Seriously. It's not that complicated. Don't be scared off by what Google says you should or shouldn't do. You can have an elegant wine and cheese, casual wine and cheese, or anything in between. Generally, no matter what you do, unless you're serving wine aficionados who misread the invitation to read: 'wine tasting', you'll be fine. 

Above all, make sure you have enough for leftovers, because the only thing as nice as a wine and cheese party, is an encore with a few friends a day or two later. 

(* I altered the recipe for the coconut cake by using sweetened coconut instead of unsweetened and then halving the sugar.)