Archive for the ‘Thrifting’ Category

I had a business trip in Virginia, recently. It was a lot of fun. I took 2 great classes and then demonstrated the use of my tools to a room full of awesome folks.  I had a little down time while I was there, so one day I decided to explore the local antique stores.  It blew my mind!  There were so many things I would have loved to bring home, but alas a sedan with 3 adults, inventory for the demonstration, and all our luggage was not conducive for bringing much back with me.  But I did take pictures…The things that got away.

The thought did cross my mind…If I got this, I could fill it with stuff to bring home…though I’m sure the car doesn’t have a trailer hitch!

I don’t even have room in my house for all of that, but at one point I just shut off the shopping part of my brain and kicked into the sight seeing part of my brain, because…well, my shopping brain was having a minor melt down of all the things it wanted, couldn’t transport, or afford.  Once that part got shut down, it became quite an amazing adventure of enjoying the sights of all these very useful items that have stood the test of time, and have been part of so many lives and experiences over the years.  I love antiques, they just look and feel like nothing you can buy in stores today.  I want to thank Cindy for the awesome recommendations of places to go!




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Oh boy did I have a crazy day at the antique store!  My friend invited me to join her in a simple quest.  Go to one of our favorite antique stores to pick up the lamp she saw there on our last trip, that has not found it’s way out of her head.  Sure.  I’ve been so good at not spending money on our antique store trips, I felt confident.  I had no idea what I was in for…

A little side note…I’m a “useful antiquer”.  I don’t tend to buy things just because they are old.   I’m not really a collector of anything.  I go to antique stores to find the useful things. The things that were made to be used, and were used, for years, before our world changed and went plastic.  Before it turned into a world where all things are bought, in one huge store, during one convenient stop and for one low price.  They were made when quality meant something.  When beauty and charm were part of function.  Those things speak to me and give me such a sense of grounding.

For instance the amazing crock.  Perfect condition, with it’s original lid.  It’s 5 gallons and will be perfect for putting up salt pork!  I have fatback, for just that use, in my freezer, from my neighbor, who raised and butchered his own pig.  I’ve been scouring the antique stores for a crock for months.  Not only was this in perfect condition, I almost stole it from them, they wanted such a fair price for it.

The green trivet isn’t all that old, but it’s enamel, a great size to put on the woodstove for the water bucket we keep on there, to keep the air from drying out too much.  It will also be perfect for setting a pot of soup on the stove to simmer.

Then there were the soup bowls.  Old.  Beautiful.  The design is so delicate, and it’s brown!  I love brown on cream for my dishes.  I also love those low bowls that are almost deep plates.  They are great for thick stews…mmm.

Probably the most frivolous purchase was the crate, but who could pass that up!?  I couldn’t and my friend Jessica threatened to buy it if I didn’t and could I stand going over to her house seeing it looking all old and charming, knowing it could have been at my place looking all old and charming, while holding something on my newly built shelves?  No.  I couldn’t stand it.  The price was, again, very fair, the print on the side might have enticed me to even pay a slightly less fair price.  Come on, United Farmers.  It had to be mine…so maybe I am sometimes wooed by the fact it’s simply old…but it is still useful.

So, what started as an innocent trip to keep a friend company while she went to find the lamp that has remained steadfast in her mind for weeks, turned into quite a treasure trove.  Oh, and the fabulous table cloth my new bounty rests on, is linen, in fabulous condition, and was picked up on the trip when she saw that lamp to begin with.  I’ve loved it every day since.

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Today was one of the most peaceful days I’ve had in a while, and it was very much needed.  I think one of the keys was time spent wandering around our little farm yard.  Just checking in on everyone, with the sun shining, birds singing, ducks squawking, chickens announcing that they just laid and egg.  Today smelled sweet and fresh.  I watered the seedlings, did some actual work in my shipping room, cleaned a “long overdue for some attention” section of our barn garage…I dream of barns, by the way.

Lunch was a couple slices of some fabulous sourdough bread, brie cheese, Berry Basil Jam and Elderberry juice.  The sourdough bread was made with wheat from Brookford Farm by  Sunnyfield Brick Oven Bakery. I got to meet someone from the bakery at the Exeter Market on Saturday.  She was great fun to talk with, and I got to sample some of the bread she’s made with Brookford Farm Wheat.  I brought home a loaf of the Sourdough, though they were all delicious.  The Brie was from Sandwich Creamery and the Berry basil Jam and Elderberry Juice were made by from local and wild crafted berries from last summer.  A lovely, hearty, simple, local lunch.

During the afternoon, I started a shirt for myself.  I used a pale green linen, and added an antique doily.  It goes very nice with a skirt, that I have, that has needed a companion top for a while.  All that remains is the hemming.  I always find myself in a quandry at this point.  It’s linen, my options, as I see it are:

  • Serge the edge and leave it.
  • Serge the edge, roll it under and stitch in place.
  • Run a simple stitch line 1/4″ in from the edge and fray it.  The stitch line should keep it from fraying more than I want.

I’m really not sure, so I’ll figure that out tomorrow.  I’m working on a summer sweater, that is going to go perfectly with the top, and I’m very excited!

I finished reading  The Dirty Life: A Memoir of Farming, Food, and Love.  I really enjoyed it and think it’s one I’ll read again.  It has certainly inspired me.  It reminded me of the long summer days, of falling into bed exhausted from working hard all day.  I’m even kind of looking forward to the envigorating exhaustion that is sure to come…soon.

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Honestly, I was pretty okay with the idea when I realized it would necessitate a trip to the antique store, maybe even a couple.  Add in my favorite handmade socks have a hole in the pad of the foot, and there was no turning back.  It did take a couple stops, but in the end Union Street Antiques in Rochester, NH had just the most darling darning mushroom and tonight I found a video with folks with British accents (very cool) and great close up video of how to darn a sock, so friends, tonight I darned a sock.

It's really not all that hard or time consuming.  I have no idea why folks speak of sock darning with such disdain.  Not, mind you that I hear of sock darning often, but when I do, it's not with kind words.  I enjoyed it, and am very willing to do it again, should my handmade socks need the attention.

For my first attempt, I think it came out pretty well.  I went with nylon sock enforcing thread, doubled, instead of using the original yarn. I figured that it would be more sturdy that way, and since it's the bottom of my foot, there was no need to worry about it matching, or showing.  Looking at it, I think I would have done myself a favor by going wider than the actual hole, as the yarn seems a little thin across the whole pad, not just where the hole formed, but they are wearable again, and if another hole shows itself, I'm confident in my ability to thwart it's expansion!


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Apple Sauce (24)


Grape Juice (39)

More Canning.  The grapes were done by putting 1 cup of squished grapes into a quart jar, adding 1/4 cup honey, filling with boiling water, then put in a Water Bath for 25 minutes.  These will sit on the shelf until January, giving the grape flavor time to develop.

We did our applesauce differently this time, and decided, after weighing the pros and cons we will be going back to our "normal" method.  Usually we peel, core, slice apples, place in big buckets and cook until soft and stir until broken up.  This gives a nice flavor, chucky texture, and golden color, all hallmarks of the perfect sauce in the minds of Jessica and myself. 

Today we borrowed a food processor item, a Victorio Food Strainer/Sauce Maker, from Virginia.  We quartered and cored the apples, cooked them for about 1/2 hour, until softened, then ran them through the Vicotorio, placed sauce in hot jars and then into a Water Bath.  The sauce is smooth, light in color and due to the lack of long simmer time, is not as rich in flavor.  We added cinnamon and hope with the time in the Canner with the spice, a richer flavor will develop.  We decided to put the rest of the puree on the stove and simmer overnight.  I will be canning the rest tomorrow, but I think I might do up some more apples, as we usually do, to add to the apple sauce puree we have now, so we can get the texture back, too. 

I guess we are just old school, Jessica and I, and we like our paring knives and peelers.  But, about the Victorio…It's brilliant.  It worked just like it should.  The mechanism is smooth, it separates the seeds, skins and such accurately, and the puree is very smooth and consistant.  I used it with my autumn olives and it was the best puree I've made with those berries.  I was quite impressed.  Virginia used it for tomatoes, and I imagine it would be brilliant for that, and that alone would make it worth picking up, as it cuts out the need to peel them by blanching.  It did work great with the apples, and if we were very short on time, or weren't such picky chicks, it would have been just fine.  This is making it my "things to consider for next year to make life a little easier" list.

63 More Quarts of food put away.  Oh, and many of those quart jars were among those we picked up this morning from a fella in Barrington who was selling a whole bunch of jars for are mere $10.00, via Craig's list.  Virginia got 1 dozen Quarts, there were about 4 dozen for us, and a bunch of 1/2 pints.  Great Deal!

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First, the canned tomatoes from last night were delicious.  I took the 1 pint, dumped it in a pan, added 1 pound of fish, salt and pepper, covered and let it bubble and simmer until the fish was done.  Broke the fish up, served in a low bowl, topped with fresh grated Parmesan cheese and a little piece of focacia bread on the side.  Oh, my!  I'm so thrilled, and am now anticipating the joy of opening those jars in January!

Still no horn worms, though I'm obsessively checking…

The other day I ended up in my Great Grandparents old shop looking for a couple random things, but stumbling across some real treasures.  I knew Gram had some old aluminum pots that I could use for a music wall for the girls, more on that when I make it, and I did find some great things for that project, but look what else I found…and my sweet dad gave me permission to keep, as my very own!


That red stool is amazing with it's lovely crackle. I can't tell you how many stores I searched through while on a quest for a stool exactly like that.  Great Grammie's Pie Basket, so beautiful, well made and in perfect shape.  I am pretty sure it is the one I remember from 4th of July.  A vintage bed sheet for another project I have up my sleeve.  The slicer is so cool, a white marbled lucite.  I Love it!  The blue and green fabric in front is just a small piece of fabric, but it's so cool, and will become something lovely in the future.  I've been looking for metal ice trays!!  Now I have one.  And how adorable are those chicken salt and pepper shakers?  Seriously, so adorable!  My two favorite pieces are the HANDSTITCHED, like EVERY stitch is hand stitched, quilt, and the fabulous butter mold.


I'm going to see if Grammy knows anything about the quilt, like who made it, or when, as dad didn't know. But he did tell me all about butter making.  He thought all the molds were given to the Strafford Historical Society years ago, since who would have thought that making your own butter would come back around?  Great Gram had a couple butter churns and other molds.  Dad said she and Mrs. Styles would get together, when the cream started piling up at their respective dairy farms, and make butter all day long.  Dad said Gram had a long butter churn that had a crank handle on the side, and thinks that one worked the best, as it was used most often.  This one little cow butter mold remained, and I'm over the moon that it did.  I'm planning on making some more butter just so I can stamp it with this adorable cow, just like Great Grammy used to do.

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Dad and I were chatting today, and both agree, we wouldn't mind one bit if it was March 2010, instead of July.  This year is going far too fast, for either of us.  But it's July, so onward we go, and must simply try to make the most of each of the remaining days.

Today was a rather productive one.  I weeded, put more hay down, pruned and checked over my tomato plants.  I had heard rumor that the tomato hornworms are out and about, but I found none.  This made me mildly nervous, until my dad came down with about 40-50 of them, to feed the chickens.  His garden, next door was crawling with them!  Now I'm just on pins and needles.  I want to go outside every few minutes to check the status.  This is nerve wracking, especially since I am going to be out of town for 5-7 days next week!  Eeek.  I knew I was asking for trouble with my fragile tomato crop when I agreed to this work engagement.  I guess Mini is going to learn pretty quick, what a tomato hornworm looks like so she and Husband can keep them from annihilating the plants while I'm gone. 

I pruned the tomatoes for the first time in my life.  I had no idea, but you are supposed to prune them to make them more productive.  Cut all the leaves below the first fruit set, then remove all the suckers.  The task started out a little gingerly, but by the end I was cutting branches that even had a little fruit set already!  This is supposed to concentrate the energy of the plant to the business of making fruit, instead of leaves.  This is an ongoing thing that you need to keep doing as the plant grows.  I'm hoping I chose well, and they produce boldly this year!

As if pruning, and keeping the hay stocked, and pulling bugs off isn't enough, there is a confirmed case of Late Blight in Maine!  It's a gardener, and I have no more details than that.  Seems everything wants my tomatoes.

Speaking of tomatoes…I canned my first batch tonight.  I had a box from a friend, they were green house tomatoes, nothing exciting, or heirloom, but the price was right and it gave me a guarantee of tomatoes on the shelves come fall…Bird in the hand beats two in the bush after all.

I put some basil leaves and garlic flower bulbs in each jar, with a little extra lemon juice. I wanted the basil and garlic for flavor, since the tomatoes, while yummy enough, are not super flavorful.  I hope my little experiment worked,  but there are 6 quarts and a pint resting on my counter calming my tomato frenzied nerves, at least a smidge.


Canning tomatoes requires the removal of skin, which was made a lot easier due to my awesome find of a $4.00 colander that is the size of my large canning bowl!  I placed the colander in the bowl of cold water, added ice, then once the tomatoes had been heated in boiling water a couple minutes, I scooped them into the colander and, once cool enough, simply lifted the colander out, dumped the tomatoes into a bucket to work with them, and replaced the colander, added a bit more ice and repeated the process.  It was so fast, clean and easy.  Yay!



I took all that skin, placed it in my Vitamix, and blended them to pulp.  This is in my refrigerator awaiting the moment that I have enough free time to turn it into ketchup!  I'll let you know how that goes in the coming days.


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