Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Trash-picked Tuesday: a Watering Hole

OK, so my camera and computer are still not talking. Let's just hope they straighten things out later tonight and don't go to bed mad...

In the meantime, I will do a TPT post using archival images of things I trash-picked from the great big dumpster across the street on Mother's Day!

I have wanted a galvanized washtub stand and basin set for years. I just haven't come across any in my price range (read= free). I've seen a couple in antique stores and at auctions, but never had the money or means to get them.

So I was delighted to find one in the dumpster across the street! My brother and I scurried over there and back with this, hopefully before the neighbors saw us (not that I think they would mind, but still...) My husband was watching us from the window with his mother and my mother and just about dying from embarassment. (Though my mom has trash picked her share of things, his mom wouldn't be caught dead doing it!)

Only problem is, there weren't any of the square tubs with it. Now I need to find two 15 gallon square washtubs, like the ones sold here (brand new) for $27.99. Each. Plus $10 shipping. That would make my "free" washstand end up costing almost $70.

So I'm still on the hunt for some nicely broken-in (i.e. "cheap") washtubs. In the meantime, the washstand is still sitting on my patio as an objet d'art, an homage, if you will, to trash-picking.

And I will let you know if the camera and computer kiss and make up in time for Thrifted Thursday!

Trash-picked Tuesday

Hi all- I just wanted to let you know that I am trying to do a TPT post, but my camera and my computer are apparently not speaking to each other right now.  So hold tight- I may have to do this tomorrow at work!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Cooking Vintage: Applesauce

One of the things I am very passionate about is knowing where my food comes from. If I can grow it, hunt it, fish it or somehow know it before "it" becomes "food", that is good in my book.

It helps that my husband is a butcher and we have the know-how to gather or grow our own food. But it wasn't always this way. In the last seven or so years that we've been living in this house, we have tried to take full advantage of the property we have and the resources available here.

I also have two small children who are very different eaters. My son will try anything; my daughter will not touch anything other than mac & cheese or Rice Krispies.  When they were babies, I wanted the best for them, like every other mom. I tried organic baby food, but the expense was too much for us on a single income. So I started making my own baby food, and applesauce is probably one of the most useful things you can make at home. Besides, everyone likes it!

First you need a good supply of apples:

This is my neighbor's apple tree. It's really unusual in that it drops its apples early (like now- in June). If you look closely you can see them all over the ground. I believe they're Granny Smith apples, in that they're green to yellow and a bit tart. Through benign neglect, he has never sprayed the tree or ever fertilized it, so they're completely organic.

My son and I gathered up all the good ones on the ground and got a couple buckets (this is what drops off the tree in one day!)

Since they had been on the ground, my son gave the apples a bath. It was hot out and he got plenty wet, so he had a good time!

I got the materials ready: several clean bowls, large pots, my canner and eight pint jars with lids, and my applesauce strainer. This is really an antique, and while they are still made in this style, the wooden pestle is now made of plastic. I have tried several methods of mashing & straining the apples over the years, like through a food mill and a food processor, but this simple old-fashioned way is truly the best.

Now since this is a canning project as well (you could also freeze the finished product, but it does get watery when thawed) it's important to read the canning guide so you do all the steps properly to insure a safe product.

Once the apples have had their bath, I cut them in halves or quarters to make sure they're good all the way through. Since these have no pesticides on them, many have worms and those parts need to be cut out. But hey, if worms won't eat your apples, should you? ;)

I put the cut apples into a large stock pot and covered them with water. I actually needed two stockpots, plus I had to fill the canner with water and get that started heating as well, so my stove was full. Once the kitchen starts to smell like apples and they've simmered for about 20 minutes, they're ready to mash.

I got the strainer set up over a small bowl which I empty periodically into another large pot. You fill the strainer up with cooked apples and then just rotate the pestle around the inside. The sauce comes out through the holes on the side and drips down into the bowl. You then have to empty the strainer of the pulp and seeds (they make great compost!) before adding a new scoopful of apples.

Once you're done straining the apples you could stop there. If you like unsweetened and unseasoned applesauce, and you're not planning to can the finished product, you're done. For baby food, I freeze the unsweetened sauce in ice cube trays, which is a portion-size for infants.

But since I prefer to can it, I need to heat it up again on the stove. Let it get hot, and reduce it a little bit to get some of the water out. If you do want to add sugar and spices this is the time. I add a bit of lavender from my garden to give it a different flavor, along with cinnmon, nutmeg and brown sugar.

By this time, the water bath for the jars is hot and I put the clean jars in it to heat them up and to sterilize them. Once they're ready, I pull them out and fill them with the hot applesauce.

Make sure you leave about 1/2 inch headspace and clean around the rim with a towel before setting the lids on. Set the lids on and screw the bands on, but not too tightly- the air needs to bubble up from under the lid. Make sure everything stays hot throughout this whole process- the applesauce, the jars, the water in the canner- or you are inviting a disaster. This is why it is important to get your tools set up in advance and to know the process well enough that you don't have to stop what you're doing to look it up!

Put the jars into the canner and cover them with water. Boil for 10 minutes, which will seal the jars. Lift the jars out with a jar lifter or tongs and set them in on the counter to cool.

Make sure you check the seals and store them in a cool dark place!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Flea Market Friday: I am an Apron Goddess!

I do believe it is the first time I have ever been called a goddess of anything! I'm usually up to my elbows in dishwater, or bathwater, or sandbox sand... But I clean up pretty good!

As befitting an Apron Goddess, this morning at a yard sale I picked up a bunch of vintage aprons. (Don't hate me- I think they were 20 cents apiece!)

I happened to be wearing a vintage waitress-style dress which I am thrilled to be finally able to fit into. It was one of those "if I lose 10 pounds, I'll be able to get into this" purchases that sat in my closet for a loooong time! So we snapped a few photos of some of the new acquisitions. (The photographer was my son, the Apron God Jr., so forgive me if the photos are a bit crooked & awkward!)

The first is a vintage rayon apron. I don't think I've ever seen a rayon apron- I can't think this will be much practical use, since the fabric is so light- but it's cute.

This is my favorite, a printed & pieced cotton apron.

Don't I look like all I need is an order pad and a name tag that says "Betty"? ;)

I have a very large collection of vintage aprons, including several feedsack cloth full aprons from the 1930s. I wear them when I am doing housework or cooking, which pretty much seems to be all the time...

I know many of you probably already visit my friends over at The Apron Goddesses, but if you haven't been there, check them out, and see yours truly!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Thrifted Thursday- Princess SummerFallWinterSpring

The other day I had a rare good day clothing shopping at thrift stores. It's been a while since I've found more than one item of pre-1970s vintage clothing at a time. It makes you wonder where all the good clothes went. I think I mentioned before that I have a strong suspicion all the really good stuff (1950s & earlier) gets dumped into those stand-alone metal bins you see in abandoned parking lots. I guess most people just think they're too old for anyone to want. Those people, that is, that don't try to sell them on eBay for twice what they're worth...

So lucky for me I found something I'd been looking for for some time.

Yes, it's a Pendleton jacket.

And it looks like it was maybe worn once. The creases are still in it, as are the shoulder pads. I really like the colors- blue and brown are staples of my fall wardrobe. I can't wait for the first chilly day to wear it. It was a little bit more than I like to spend at $10, but I know I will get a lot of use from it.

But for the meantime, while it's hot, I found this sweet Hawaiian dress:

I'm not familiar with the maker, are any of you? (After all, it's not a Shaheen, but still vintage, as you can see by the metal zipper.) I'm not real big on the color, either- hot pink just isn't my style- but it fits (maybe even a bit big- size L). I guess this will be one of those etsy re-sells when I get the time to set up the shop. Stay tuned!

I probably could have found more goodies in the store if my daughter hadn't started singing "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" at the top of her little lungs and we had to skedaddle...

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Woo-hoo, Go me!

Today I saw a number on the scale that I haven't seen in ten years. And that's a good thing, because it had been going the other way much too long!

Ever since my father-in-law passed away this March, my husband and I have been on a mission to get ourselves in better shape. I want to lose 40 pounds, he wanted to lose 25. Since he's a guy, all he has to do is think about it and he lost it...

But for me it's not so easy. I'm sure a lot of you have struggled with your weight, as I have for my whole life. Having had 2 kids in the past five years hasn't helped things for me. I've always been active and went to the gym, but still the pounds weren't coming off. I went and got tested for thyroid conditions and diabetes, and all the results were normal, so guess what? I'm just eating too darn much!

Now I like food and used to cook in a restaurant; I know my way around a pantry, know what I'm sayin'? So I just started eating smaller portions and that was what did it. I don't feel hungry, I don't feel like I'm depriving myself, but I'm just not over-indulging like I used too. I'm also trying to make the best choice I can about what fuel I give to my body. I've never been a big junk-food eater, but now I always ask myself if that bag of chips or piece of cake is really the best choice of calories. And that little bit of extra thought is often enough to make me put it down. So it works for me, and if I can do it you can too!

I'm down 15 pounds now and if I can lose another 15 I think I will treat myself to a whole new vintage wardrobe. Those of you who run vintage shops better get your best stuff out, because I'm comin'! :D

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Trash-picked Tuesday- the Red Light District

So, right after I posted last week's (rather lame, admittedly) TPT feature, I came across a true gem. And you thought I was running out of trash-picked goodies, didn't you? I can hear it now: "Man, she's posting pix of the fruit in her cereal- that's really reaching..." Ha! Feast your eyes on the latest curbside find:

Better yet, wait til it gets dark:

Yes, the base lights up.

I found this not more than an hour after I posted last week, curbside on my way home from grocery shopping. It's going home to my brother's new house, a late 60s/70s bachelor pad where no doubt it will get plenty of attention.  (Good thing he's an electrician, because the cord and the switch need to be replaced. )

Hopefully he's going to settlement this week and I can set all these lamps free! I have a half dozen now in the basement waiting to go to his house. Between the ones I'm getting rid of (see last Friday's post!) and some I've scavenged for him, at least he'll have plenty of light. Furniture, maybe not. Or dishes, or appliances... but we're all set for lamps!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Flea Market Friday- Lights out!

To celebrate the summer flea market season I'm starting a new feature- treasures found at flea markets, yard sales or auctions! I don't anticipate this being a weekly feature, since I don't get out to as many fleas as I'd like, but when I can I'll do it.

I took my kids to our local farmer's market this morning. It's not an open-air market; more like an indoor bazaar with regular shops and an outdoor flea market on Fri & Sat. I had to buy some lettuce and rolls for our Father's Day barbecue, but had kind of forgotten that the flea market was probably going full force in the back. (Don't know how I could've forgotten that- I'm promise it will never happen again!)

So I headed on back just to take a look- you never know what you might find. Oftentimes there isn't anything good, but every once in a while I really score.

I'd been wanting new lamps for the nightstands in our master bedroom forever. (I've been wanting new nightstands too, but that's another story for another day). I hate hate hate the lamps we have now- they're 1980's solid brass lamps that my husband had before we got married (same with the rest of the bedroom suite- probably why I don't like it!)

I always thought they were Stiffels and had been his grandmother's.  For some reason that kept me from getting rid of them before. Then recently I mentioned that I wanted something different (aka something vintage, cottage style) and would it really bother him if I got rid of the lamps... which he told me then that he had won from a buddy in a poker game! So I guess there wasn't such an emotional attachment after all.

Anyway, the hunt has been on for the right lamps ever since. And today I found one for my nightstand which is just perfect. But the best part is the price. I walked past it and noticed the sticker said 50. I'm thinking, "OK, maybe in an antique store, but $50 at a flea market"? So I went up to the dealer thinking I'd try to get it for $35. Well, no dice, turns out it was firm at 50- 50 cents!

It's not as baby pink as it appears here- more of a dusty rose. It's definitely 1940s, and I learned (from watching American Pickers, thank you) that the stylized design on the base is called a "Lincoln Drape". The base is brass, and just oxidized enough so it's not shiny (I've had enough of that stuff!) The glaze is perfect, with no nicks, cracks or chips. It works great, the cord is fine, and it even came with a lightbulb!

Here is is in its new home, on my nightstand:

It matches the pink of the phone and the fabric perfectly! I still can't believe my luck. I also want to find a pretty vintage fabric shade. I know just what I want, and it should be fairly easy to find, so when I find one I will post an update!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Thrifted Thursday!

Since this is strawberry season at our house I thought I'd share my favorite strawberries & cream container:

I bought this at a thrift store several years ago for $4. It's a 2 cup measuring cup made of milk glass with red painted trim. I know there is a whole set of this kind of ware- I've been looking for a matching sugar & creamer set for a while. I just don't remember the pattern name! It's really cute and perfect for holding washed & hulled strawberries fresh from the garden. Of course, most of the time the strawberries don't even make it into the house before they're eaten! ;)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Trash-picked Tuesday

Well, maybe "foraged" is a better word. ;)

Here at the PIT, when we do "vintage", sometimes we really go back- wayyyy back. Like to the days of hunting and gathering.

We spent the weekend at our cabin up in the mountains, and as luck would have it, this year has been a really good one for wild strawberries. My son and I spent a couple of hours out in the meadow foraging for them, and came back with a small bowl of juicy, sweet, teeny-tiny berries. Just enough to dress up a few bowls of cereal.

Now some of you may recognize these berries as the same ones that grow in your lawn. Maybe as a kid you even ate a couple and realized that they had absolutely no taste. That has been true in previous years. But for some reason, the season has been right this year and they taste like the best strawberries you've ever eaten. You just have to eat about 20 of them to make up one of the store-bought variety. But sometimes good things do come in small packages!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

WWII Weekend 2010

Whew! What a weekend! I had a blast spending three days in 1944. I was there from 7 am on Friday until 6 pm on Sunday. Since I was there early every morning I got a chance to take some pictures without the usual spectators. (Not the shoes- although there were plenty of those to be seen, including mine on Sunday!)

I dressed vintage every day, the challenge being finding outfits that were comfortable and easy to work in (I had a table in the hangar to set up every day) as well as looking period. I think I did OK, but there were plenty of guys & gals that did it much better than I, as well as many that didn't. (Cargo shorts and boonie hats seemed to be the uniform of the average tourist...)

I don't have any photos of myself- so I'll have to describe it:
Friday- a red, white & blue plaid day dress with a navy blue straw picture hat (i.e. broad-brimmed), navy keds, blue & white driving gloves (these had leather palms so I could handle money), red beaded necklace and red, white& blue beaded bracelet.

Saturday- the best outfit of the lot, IMHO- a white & blue cotton dress (deadstock 40s- first time it was worn) with the same hat & gloves & necklace, red wedges, red carved bakelite bracelet, V for victory pin and red sweetheart pin. USAF General "Boots" Blesse (double ace in the Korean War) hit on me while I was in this outfit, so I took that as a compliment! ;)

Sunday- I broke out the Swirl (pink seersucker with embroidered cherries), changed to a brown picture hat without a crown (open on top), tan & white spectator oxfords, pearls & white gloves. I wish I had some pictures to show, but I know several people took photos of me with my kids that day (they were dressed in vintage too) so maybe I'll see one I can share with you.

Enjoy the photos I took of the re-enactors, and if you were there, please leave a comment or post some photos on your blog! If not- start planning for next year!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Hold everything!

Argh- my computer at home has been attacked by a virus and I can't get online. Posting this from work, but I can't post any pix. So hold tight for a couple of days and see if I can't get this straightened out.

I think I got the virus from playlist.com, so I am eliminating that feature from this blog and I recommend that all of you do the same if you are using on yours.

In the meantime, catch up on the older posts you might have missed! ;)

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Trash-picked Tuesday: Curbside Check-in

We all know that vintage suitcases are hot right now. But something tells me that all those high- falutin' designers and fashionistas don't get their suitcases curbside. For the rest of us, maybe that's the only way we can afford them!

All kidding aside, the large suitcase on the left is probably one of the first things I ever trash-picked. Back in 2001, I was an intern with a job that required me to do a lot of local driving. I spotted the green suitcase by the curb one day as I was heading out to visit a client. I loved the color and the style, so I got out to look at it. After careful inspection (mostly to make sure there was nothing icky inside) and administration of the smell test, it came on home. Of course, I cleaned it thoroughly, inside and out.

Years later I found the matching smaller suitcase at a thrift store (if memory serves, it was $6), and the train case at an antiques store ($15- Later on, I used the train case really as a "train case"; I carried it on my daily train commute instead of a briefcase.) I'd especially love to find the matching round hat bag, and I think there are larger and smaller suitcase that round out the set.

I saw these suitcases once on an episode of "Leave it to Beaver", so they're probably early '50s vintage. They came in lots of different colors, too, so I might continue to mix & match. But the ones I've seen recently in stores are getting a bit pricey, especially the green and blue ones.

I use the suitcases all the time, whenever we go away for the weekend. It's just one of those fun ways to use vintage items in place of boring modern stuff!