Thrift Find Friday

I've been hitting the thrift stores this week again. Here are the latest goodies. Details after the photos.

  1. Bamboo folding basket. I love that it folds completely flat for compact storage.
  2. Spode grape/grapevine pattern dessert plates with ruffled basket weave rims. These would be great for serving hors d'oeuvres at a wine and cheese party.
  3. Green enamel milk warmer from Yugoslavia.
  4. Vintage Monmouth stoneware cups. No two are exactly alike, with slight variations in shape, attesting to their handmade quality. Beautiful! 
  5. Lu-Ray Pastels oval serving bowl and platter. These will be on my Easter table for sure. Such a pretty robin's egg blue.
  6. Vintage Argus 75 camera and case. Great display piece. 
  7. Spanish porcelain cream and sugar set. 
  8. Chinese tea canister in brilliant red. Not vintage but sure to add a pop of color to any kitchen.
  9. I couldn't pass up the child's bear rug. To be tucked away for a future grandchild perhaps? Its claws are leather like soft vinyl and the back side is a slip proof fabric. I can picture a little one reclining on the bear reading a book. 
  10. Tropical painted ceramic tile. 
  11. Set of eight vintage bakelite handled steak knives in a wood case.

Watch for several of these items to be listed soon in my Etsy shop



Lake Superior sunrise.

An exciting new adventure has commenced. My husband and I, along with our son, have begun the search for a home up north in Duluth, Minnesota - a city along the shore of Lake Superior. It isn't a home that we'll be living in, although someday I hope to achieve my dream of living near the "Ocean of the Midwest". This house will be an investment property for us and a home for our son. At least we'll have a place to visit anyway. We have a pretty modest budget for this venture and equally modest expectations, knowing that whatever we buy will most likely need some work to bring it up to par. But even with that in mind our first look at properties has been discouraging. It may be a bigger challenge than we expected to fit our expectations to our budget.

We walked through nine property showings with a realtor on Monday. Here are a handful of points I learned from that experience.
  1. I appreciate my house now more than ever. Our house is nothing special but it is a boatload nicer than most of those we saw. I don't think I'll take it for granted as much as I have in the past.
  2. The outside appearance of a house is no indication of what it will look like inside. It's usually much worse inside, although sometimes surprisingly the opposite. 
  3. Lipstick on a pig. I know sellers want to present their houses in the best possible light, but paint and staging can only go so far if the house hasn't been maintained well. 
  4. The basement tells it all! That's where you'll see the scary electric wiring, old plumbing, sagging floor joists, cracked and leaky foundations, and all manner of fire hazards. It's also where you should wear a hard hat because beams, heating and vent ducts, light fixtures, and low door thresholds are typically going to bean you if you don't pay attention. 
  5. Bring a flashlight to peer into dark corners. Expect anything! 
  6. Pay attention to the number of electric outlets in a room. Old houses don't have many as a rule, resulting in some creative and frightening solutions involving extension cords and octopus-like outlet strips.
  7. Do-it-yourself home remodeling is a popular thing these days. But if someone doesn't have the knowledge, skills and patience to do it right then they shouldn't do it!! 
  8. Glossy red paint on walls is never a good idea...ever!
  9. The city by the lake is built on a steep hill that's often compared to San Francisco, only with snow. The further up the hill you go the more snow they tend to get. The shorter the driveway the better, unless you love shoveling. The temperatures can also be much colder in winter, and hotter in summer, the further from the lake you are. 
  10. Location, location, location. A discarded syringe lying in a gutter, a viciously barking caged Doberman (hello Milo), or extra locks on doors are usually not good selling points. 
  11. Raspberry patches and space for a garden are extra selling points! 
  12. A view of the lake is nice, but also translates into a higher selling price. There are always plenty of free public places to go to enjoy the lake. Also, it's a BIG lake, so you'd have to go out of your way to avoid seeing it on a typical day.
  13. The city allows parking on just one side of the street in many of the residential areas on the central hillside. It changes from one side to the other every Sunday. If you want to drive down a narrow street lined with high snowbanks on Sunday, when the transition is taking place, forget it. There will be cars parked on both sides and it will be like trying to thread your car through the eye of a needle. This is especially true in student occupied neighborhoods near the university where every house seems to have at least four or five cars per house. Also, your guests will have a hard time finding a parking spot.
  14. Don't make any hasty decisions. There will always be another house tomorrow, or next week, or next month. 
Duluth, Minnesota hillside
via The City Birds Photo Blog
I will be sure to keep the search updated as we go forth with this project. It will be interesting but I look forward to being able to spend more time up north in the coming year. Wish us luck.



It's here! It's finally here! The calendar says so even if a glance out the window says otherwise.

But look at that pretty blue sky!

The sun is getting higher and stronger every day. Even when the temperatures are well below freezing, as in the single digits like this morning, the snow manages to melt a little. Although I must say it would surely help if it would quit falling from the sky. 

In the meantime I will enjoy spring any way I can get it. 

Is it spring where you are?  Like can you see grass? Spring flowers starting to bloom? Temperatures above freezing? People dressed in clothes not made of wool or fleece or down? Share your pics in the comment section below. I want to believe it's spring somewhere!


The Long Goodbye

A typical day for me begins with five foot commute from my bedroom to the home office across the hall, where I sit down still in my PJs and log on to the computer. My routine always includes three important items to look at first.
  1. Check my emails to see if anything important will need tending to early in the day, like a sale from my Etsy shop. If I have a sale I'll send a confirmation email and print a packing slip and mailing label right away. 
  2. Glance at the news headlines to decide if I want to continue on with the day or go back to bed. This also includes checking the weather forecast, even before I look out the window. Sometimes you just need to steel yourself, particularly this year when winter just doesn't want to bow out gracefully. It's snowing again today. Sigh. 
  3. Look at Google Reader for updates to my favorite blogs. Those are usually international bloggers who, because of the time difference, have already made their posts for the day.
Only then do I traipse downstairs to get my morning coffee, which I often bring back upstairs to sip while reading blogs and news articles.

jessicaNdesigns at Etsy
As you may have heard, Google announced today that it has decided to end its Google Reader RSS Service on July 1st. I was saddened to hear this because I have been using it for several years and I'm a creature of habit. I like the simple design and features of Google, like the way it highlights in bold the feeds that have updates and shows how many posts I haven't read. With a forlorn sigh I went searching for a new site to accommodate my always growing list of blogs. I googled it. I know. Ironic huh? And that's how I came to discover Feedly.

I was expecting a big hassle that would involve somehow saving all my blog feeds and trying to transfer them to a new service. Most likely I'd lose a few in the process. Therefore, it was a totally pleasant surprise to discover that it was an entirely effortless event. All I had to do was download Feedly, which is free by the way. Took mere seconds. It then asks for permission to access my Google account and before you can say "bippity boppity boo" everything was done! Like magic. And not like the magic where the magician makes someone disappear and then can't get them back. All my feeds transferred perfectly. Nothing lost in the process. Yes! (Insert fist pump.) So now I can say a proper long good-bye to Google Reader. And when I make my way across the hall the morning of July 1st, with bare feet and a filmy peignoir (dramatic license applied) rather than wool socks and flannel layers, my blogs will still be waiting for me.


Vinegar is Berry Good

A few posts ago I provided a link to the Dirty Dozen fruits and vegetables that you should always buy organic. I've been diligently following that guideline. I even made a little wallet sized copy that I laminated and now keep in my purse for reference when doing my marketing.

I also recently came across a recommendation for washing fruits and vegetables. It is simply to use 1/2 cup white vinegar in a large bowl. Fill the rest with cold water, allowing room for the produce. Soak in the vinegar bath for about a half hour, or an hour for non-organic apples. The vinegar will have no effect on the taste of the fruits or vegetables once they are rinsed and air dried. It also supposedly has preservative benefits so that delicate foods, like berries, will have a longer refrigerator life. 

I tried this after a trip to the store today where I purchased some fresh strawberries. I let them soak for the recommended half hour. Usually I would just do a quick rinse of the berries in a strainer. Well, I won't be doing that anymore! Here's the visual proof of everything that came out in that soak:

Yuck. That was from one quart-sized container of strawberries!! And in case you want to see what else besides dirt was in those berries, here's a close-up. Yeah, I probably would have eaten that little guy. You can just make him out in the photo above near the top of the bowl. Bye-bye little bee.

I have a container of blueberries soaking right now. I don't expect there will be quite as much dirt hidden in those since fruits like strawberries and raspberries, for instance, have lots of hiding places for dirt to settle. 

I will be enjoying today's lunchtime a lot more knowing that I'm not eating imported Mexican soil and insects with my berries.