Monday, March 31, 2014

Last Weekend's Thrifting

 I'm calling this fellow Casey Jones. I think he was an over-the-crib organiser (or perhaps shoes) in another life, but I put him to better use.
 Scarves, gloves, and hankies all have a new, neater home. I already have a psychotic looking bear on my wall, it isn't like this is going to clash with the d├ęcor.
Those pockets hold a surprising amount of stuff.

While I was at the Hand-Me-Ups store, I found another bag similar to the tapestry one I bought there last month.
 For years I stayed clear of Americana thinking it was for old ladies and reactionaries. Well, I qualify as an old lady anyway. That bag is huge.
 The beaded bag started out at twenty dollars at my local Thrift World. It didn't sell (obviously) so last weekend I got it for four dollars. I still think I over-paid, but sometimes I do that.
 This bag feels older to me (nice interior, metal zipper, well-constructed handles) though it could be from the 80's or later. I bought it for the fringe because I adore fringed items, and don't currently have any. Problem solved.
 Yeah, that's a shitty photo, but you get the idea.

Let's pause for a David Lynch inspired photo.
 OK, now that I got that out of my system, look what else I found
 ...and they're cat-eye shaped. Perfect for my two sets of specs! How lucky was that?
Finally, a mystery. I know Dunhams boots are a heritage Canadian brand that started in the US in Vermont. These boots have a Vermont label, but I'm not able to get much information to date them by. They are pristine, never worn, and the leather hasn't a single crack in it. Unfortunately, they're too small for my feet, but I couldn't leave them for $3.99 I do wish I knew a bit more about them.
 Any Dunhams experts out there want to weigh in with additional information? The sizing on the label is pretty cryptic as well.
 The tops fold down, and snap on both sides of the boot. A pretty nifty feature.

So that was my haul last weekend. Did you find anything good in the thrifts?

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Eat Your Heart Out, Jane Russell

 (You can click to embiggen...but I think they're big enough, thanks very much)
I swear, I wasn't anywhere near the library today. I have no idea how this happened.
Oh look, I even won an award.
("We must, we must, we must improve our bust")

But enough about those, let's have a look at this beautiful Canadian made vintage poncho. I guess they had their share of (our) hippies to outfit for a while (Thanks, Canada! Peace).
Outfit Particulars:
Canadian-Made vintage poncho-Thrift World
1070's Panther skirt-thrifted
Peasant top-new (It is made of jersey, and I don't like it. Unfortunately, I bought three of them).
Bangles-thrifted about town
Rings-Thrifted here and there
Earrings-World Market-about 10 years ago
Hair flowers-Tif and Tam
Shoes-K Mart ( a few seasons back)
Green Coro necklace-Imaginarium, Omaha
Blue necklace-Goodwill
It was 70 degrees F. but so incredibly windy we could only stay at the park a short while.  The rest of the week looks rainy, but it has been so dry here, I'll take it. We have fire warnings issued, and brush fires popping up all around.
Far-Out maaaaan.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Stop Hitting Your Sister

Saturday morning found us back at the library for a puppet show. It is extremely low-tech, and I think that adds to the charm. Children adore it, and by the end of the half hour, the adults were in stitches as well.
As a child, I remember thinking it was, "Punching Judy", but alas, mother wouldn't let me. Mr. Punch was OK, but I'd have preferred delivering a well-aimed fist at my sister's pie-hole.
The sun came out, so I wore the sparkliest spring dress I own-a Diane Fres flouncy number from the 80's. A woman stopped me in the library to ask where I bought it. I happily told her the thrift store, and how it cost .99 cents. I'm not sure she believed me.
Here's a shot from the downstairs powder room. I thought you might be getting sick of looking at my shower curtain. You're welcome.

Outfit Particulars:
Red 1970's J.C. Penny's jacket-Thrift World
1980's Diane Fres dress (I removed the massive shoulder pads) Thrifted .99 cents
1950's rhinestone necklace-Thrifted somewhere in Wisconsin decades ago
Rhinestone floral pin-Thrift World-.98 cents
Cinnabar bracelet-Hand-Me-Ups store
Earrings-1950's Sara Coventry-Thrifted as part of a set
Gigantic rhinestone ring-Goodwill
Shoes-Vintage Naturalizers beautifully restored by the local cobbler
Chain link and leather 60's belt-Thrift World, Millard

Danny is now inspired to build a puppet theatre and do shows in front of the house. We live practically on the campus of a small college, so I'm sure students passing by on their way to class would be ever so amused by the sort of things I can imagine my kid doing with a Punch and Judy show.

Have a great weekend, and don't punch your sister.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Friday Fish Fry

Friday Fish fry is a big deal in the American Midwest, and not just at Lent. Every church, Legion hall, and charity has one to raise money, and they are often "all you can eat", making them attractive to families with teenaged boys. I grew up with Friday fish fry, but as allergies keep us dining at home, I'm the one doing the frying these days.
I don't eat fish, or most fried food for that matter, but that hasn't impacted my ability to prepare it. I do however rely on a good deep-frying thermometer. I use a Cruset Dutch oven to fry in, and I don't crowd it. Chill your fish and batter well ahead, and the results will be better. Sometimes I pitch everything in the freezer five minutes before frying just so it is really cold when it hits the hot fat. That's my only secret technique I have to pass along.
Do your chips first, and keep them warm on a baking sheet in the oven while you fry the fish.

Here's my batter recipe:
1 cup plain flour
1 large egg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon mustard powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 cup beer

Combine the dry ingredients. Beat the egg into the beer, then slowly whisk the mixture into the dry ingredients. Cover and chill a few hours before using. Make sure it is really cold.

I've used the batter on chips (really). After an initial dip in the oil at a lower temperature for a few minutes, drain the chips, then increase the oil temperature to high, and dip the potatoes in the batter. I use a slotted spoon for this, and then plunk them into the hot oil for a few minutes longer. It sounds so wrong, until you do it, and then you wonder why no one else is. I could make a million dollars selling these at the football around here. I should reconsider my career path. *shrug*

Let me know if you try it.


These are quick to make, and the dough handles easily. If you're intimidated by yeast breads, this would be an excellent introduction to baking them.

Makes 10 generous baps.

3-4 cups strong bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
1 cup milk
1/4 cup butter

Melt the butter in the milk and cool to lukewarm. In a large bowl, combine 3 cups of the flour and everything else. Make a well in the centre, add the milk and butter, and mix well. Add more flour in small increments, but only if the dough is too sticky to handle. I like to get it mixed, turn the dough out on a board, then wash the bowl. By the time I've returned to the dough, it has started to firm, and is less sticky to handle. There's a reason for this, but I won't bore you with gluten strands lining up-just know that a few minute's rest will aid the effort of kneading.

When your dough is smooth, grease a bowl, and plunk the dough in. Cover the bowl, and let it rise until doubled-about an hour in a warm spot. Punch the dough down and let it rest 5 minutes.

Roll the dough into a log. Cut ten more or less equal size pieces, and roll into a ball. Then shape into flat ovals about 1/2 inch thick. Flour a baking sheet lightly (I use a fine sieve) and place the baps on it. Cover with a towel, and let rise again for about 25 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Before baking, use your fingers to indent the buns in the centre. Dust them lightly with more flour, and bake about 25 minutes or until golden.

Nanaimo Bars-Nut Free Version

What's in a Nanaimo Bar?
Drunks and hookers.
This was my first attempt at the classic dessert from British Columbia. I used the recipe here:
Because we have nut allergies to deal with, I adapted the crust by using a bit more coconut. Another good substitute for nuts would be crushed pretzels, or toasted porridge oats. I also had to use a local store brand custard powder as Bird's is almost impossible to come by where I live. I doubt you could taste the difference against all that butter and sugar. I should mention that these are not health food, even if you use dark cocoa.
Here's a closer look at the mushroom canister and napkin holder in the background. I know Nanaimo bars have been around for a long time, but I associate them with the early 70's, just like mushroom shaped canisters. Don't store your Nanaimo bars in a canister-they need the fridge.
There are two other pieces to the set, but you get the idea.
Happy Weekend.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Needs a Pith Helmet

I try to avoid khakis, linen suits, and jackets with multiple pockets so I don't look like some sort of whacko shit. Well, at least I strive to avoid advertising it. The whacko part. But hey, here we are with a linen jacket sporting multiple pockets.

Know what I love? When you watch an ethnographic film and the anthropologists are all adorned in the indigenous clothing, and the locals are wearing Addidas trainers and Patagonia jackets.
Oh goodness no, I'm not an ethnographer, I hate people (though I tend to hate my own people with more consistency). I don't solve crimes either (in case you were wondering) but if you like theory, I'm your anthropologist. It went well with the history degree, what can I say?
My parents weren't pleased with my degree, particularly my mother.
"You'll end up like the Rockefeller boy!" she insisted. Well here we are all these years later, and I haven't been eaten by cannibals. So there! (He probably wasn't either, but it makes a better story than drowning).
Cannibal #1-I hate Michael Rockefeller.
Cannibal #2-Try some potatoes instead.
 Hey, I just passed Michael Rockefeller in the woods.
Har-de-har-har, that's a good one.
Outfit Details:
Skirt-thrifted Goodwill
Jacket-Thrifted Goodwill (same trip as above)
Belt-Just old
Earrings-retail, years ago
Hair flowers-Tif and Tam
Wooden Necklace-Goodwill
Handbag-Thrift store in the (nearly) abandoned mall on Dodge Street
Shoes-K Mart (last year's clearance)

* After 50 years I think it is probably safe to make jokes about it.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Severe Weather Awareness Week

Today was our statewide test of the severe weather alert systems, and longtime blog readers know this as the yearly post where I tell you to buy a weather radio. Longtime readers also know I will re-post this in June on the anniversary of the tornado that killed no one in our small town because of the warning system, citisen preparedness, and home weather alert radios. Having your neighbour's barn fall on your car is a drag, being in the car is deadly (I mean, Volvos are sturdy cars, but no match for a large hay barn and a tornado).

A weather radio will alert you not only to severe weather (storms, flood, fire, earthquake) but it will also sound an alert for civil emergencies (you know, in case the Canadians decide they're taking North Dakota or something), Amber alerts (child kidnappings in the US) and other situations that merit warning. It was the best $30.00 we ever spent. In a power outage, you need something that can run on batteries (or a crank powered radio, which we have as well). We keep the extra crank powered radio in our emergency kit (flashlights, food, water, extra medications, car keys, mobile phone, first aid kit) ready to grab in the event of an emergency. When the tornado hit us, we had about fifteen minutes of warning-most people get much less Talk with your loved ones. Have a meeting location if you are separated. And for fuck's sake, don't drive onto a water covered road. Seems so obvious, and yet...

I'll leave you with these visual reminders of what a tornado can do (or what it did to us, anyway):

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Possessed Clocks

So far, this one is behaving, but old clocks have a tendency to do freaky things.

Years ago, living in Boston my husband had a tacky Virgin of Guadalupe clock he picked up at a junk shop in Chelsea. When I moved in with him, the clock which never ran as he hadn't bothered with batteries began to move incrementally. I noticed that the time was off by a few minutes, went to adjust it, and found no batteries. That was strange, but a coincidence that the time it was at was close when I decided to check. Perfectly reasonable explanation.

A week later, I'd unpacked the antique clock that had been in my dad's family for years. It didn't run, having been knocked off a mantle several decades earlier. I set it up, and (you guessed it) when I glanced at it , the clock was set to the exact time as the other clock. Freaky, no?

At some point, the clock must have been jostled, and ran for a short while on some residual winding from god knows when. Moving does that sort of thing. We joked about possessed clocks, but really didn't (and still don't) take it too seriously.

In passing, I mentioned to our downstairs neighbor what had happened, and he looked ashen.
"You too?" he whispered. Seems his clocks would never keep time for more than a few days, often displaying similarly odd behaviour. Further conversation with the occupants on the first floor yielded similar stories of odd clock doings.

It should be noted that we lived very close to the airport, and though the building was old and sturdy, it did have a bit of sway that we'd feel in storms, or if a plane flew particularly low over the house on approach. I still chalk it up to movement, with some odd coincidence tossed in, but our neighbours were seriously unnerved by it.

I suppose somewhere in the back of my mind I remember this, and hesitate to purchase old clocks. Some people get creeped-out by dolls, for me it is clocks.  I did hang this clock, but I've yet to plug it in. It reads 2:25. I'll be keeping an eye on it for a bit before I work up the nerve to run it.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Ma Kettle Hat

This was my first wear for this fruit and flower adorned straw hat I bought last year in Iowa. 

We headed over to the "Red (Read) Wall" at the library on 90th street for a photo-op. Don't worry, the librarians already know I'm strange, this get-up wouldn't look out of the ordinary.

 We decided to walk across the lobby to photograph on the other wall-I don't know what sort of magical worm hole I went through, but it made my boobs bigger. Seriously. My knockers were half this size on the other side of the library. Amazing! I wonder how many people know about this?

Sadly, by the time I got to Bag and Save, the magic was gone. Bummer.

Danny found this kosher version of Swedish Fish candy in the Pesach aisle. We didn't buy them.
Outfit Particulars:

Straw hat with fruit and flowers-Goodwill, Council Bluffs, IA
Red Cashmere sweater-Marshall Field's, 1980's
Red Cardigan-Can't remember
Blue Beads-Goodwill
1950's wool pleated skirt-Thrift World, 90th Street
Butterfly wing sweater-clip-Can't remember
Earrings-Sara Coventry, thrifted years ago
Gold bangle-Hand-Me-Ups
Blue Handbag-Thrift World, 90th Street
Shoes-Vintage Naturalizers, Thrifted
Red gloves-Nobbies (Hey, I didn't name the place)

Yeah, yeah, I haven't forgotten.
Have a lovely week, everyone.