Saturday, October 31, 2009

All Hallows' Eve, All Quiet

I hear tales of folks who get 300 Trick-or-Treaters at the door on Halloween, but divide that number by 100 for our visitors tonight. Yup, just three. Two neighborhood brothers and their friend stopped by around 7:15 and we were all done. Anybody want a Kit Kat?

It could be that the drizzly weather discouraged some families, but I think Trick-or-Treating may be on its way out. Most people I know don't really want their kids out wandering around in the dark scarfing candy.
And then there's today's local news that we may have two unsolved murders of teenage girls in our neck of the woods. That probably gave a few parents pause...
Scary masks and costumes are one thing, but when the evil is real, it is not so amusing.

I hope all of the little Disney princesses and superheroes in your life are home safe and sound.

And enjoy that extra hour we get back tonight...

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Too early for Santa at the supermarket

Boos to my local Price Chopper supermarket for making their cashiers wear Santa hats before Halloween.
Today, October 25, on my regular Sunday afternoon shopping trip, I would have expected Halloween stuff to be pushed, maybe even an early Pilgrim girl or turkey decal. But Santa hats? What is this supposed to be inspiring me to do - buy my yams and plum pudding two months early? Oy vey!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

What I bought for $8.00 at three garage sales: What's it worth?

I am a little behind with my posts, but a gray rainy Saturday is a good time for catching up on blog entries I've been thinking about.

On Columbus Day weekend, I dashed out for a few end-of-season garage sales and spent a whopping $8.00 on the items you see below. I thought it might be fun to see how I did.
The first items I bought were two Revere copper-bottomed saucepans for a buck each. (I probably could have dickered, but even I have some pride...) I had been thinking that with the holidays coming up, I should buy a couple more saucepans and voila - along came two that matched what I already owned. Purchased new, individually, the 2-quart pan can sell for $29.99 and the 3-quart for $34.99. So for what could have been as much as a $65.00 retail purchase, I paid just $2.00 for items in perfect condition.

The little orange stoneware pot was an impulse buy for fifty cents. It is marked "Oxford Stoneware Made in USA". It's bright orange color seemed right for the season, good for a small bouquet at Thanksgiving or to fill with candy corn for Halloween. I did find a similar bowl in turquoise on a dealer's website for $30.00 (plus shipping and handling and insurance).

About the similar (but turquoise) bowl, the dealer says: "The bottom is marked Oxford Stoneware, which you’d think would date it to 1913-1934, the period during which Oxford Pottery Company operated in Cambridge, OH, before being acquired by Universal Potteries. However, Universal continued to produce stoneware under the Oxford name until it ceased doing business in 1976."
So I don't know the age of my pot or just what it's worth, but for fifty cents, I can hardly feel that I overpaid.

Next, let's look at the old platter with the tiny green botanical trim. It's a bit stained and crazed, to be honest, but it called to me. It was also my most expensive purchase of the day at $2.50. Marked "Buffalo Pottery", it's their "Princess" pattern. At Replacements, Ltd. where they offer only a few odds and ends of this pattern, prices range from $32.98 to $209.95. Even a damaged lid without its bowl costs $99.95. I made out OK with this piece, too, it seems.

Here, I offer for your consideration this milk glass bowl for which I paid $1.50. Compare mine to one listed at Eddie Ross's Etsy store for $45.00 plus $14.00 shipping. They are identical.
The last and most humble of my purchases was this cheerful yellow bowl, in perfect condition, marked dishwasher and microwave safe.

This, too, was $1.50. But for an extra serving bowl for the holidays, I didn't quibble. New, I'm guessing I could find something similar at a discount store for $10 or $12.

So how did I do for eight bucks in about an hour one cool autumn Saturday morning? I estimate the total retail value of these items (not including tax or shipping or insurance, which could be considerable)
to be approximately $250.00. And that's what's so fun about garage sales.
Now tell me about the great buys you have found at yard sales or thrift shops. Please share!

Note to my children: When I kick the bucket, please don't just chuck all of this stuff in a dumpster. That old platter may be worth more than you'd think... Love, Mom

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Richard Russo in Glens Falls, NY

Last Friday night, the Handsome Husband and I rambled up to Glens Falls, NY, to hear author Richard Russo speak at the lovely Crandall Library there. We both like Russo's writing, having been introduced to him years ago through his early book, The Risk Pool, which takes place in this general part of the world. Over the years, we've foisted copies of his novels on visiting relatives, leaving our own library somewhat depleted of his work.

On Friday, we restocked a bit, buying Russo's new book, That Old Cape Magic (HH* has already finished it). We are now the happy owners of a signed first edition. We also purchased a paperback copy of one of my favorites, Nobody's Fool, which Russo also signed.
In response to an audience question about what he likes to read, Russo mentioned that he had been a judge for the 2009 PEN Hemingway award for a distinguished first book of fiction. He rattled off a list of his recommendations from the first novels and short story collections that he read this past year. You can see them here at the Red Fox Books (Glens Falls) website.
I plan to add them to my own reading list.
Russo was a good speaker. He's been on a long tour promoting his latest book. When asked, he said that he wasn't tired of being asked the same questions over and over, but he was very sick of his own same answers.
And as for the speedy reading HH*, he gives That Old Cape Magic a thumbs-up.
* HH = Handsome Husband

Friday, October 9, 2009

Molly Red Riding Hood

Twenty years ago this month, my biggest worry was that I needed to finish my then four-year-old daughter's homemade Little Red Riding Hood costume in time for her nursery school Halloween party. That was then...
Last night, we heard from our now grown up soldier daughter that she had reached Germany safely, on her way back to the USA after completing her first tour of duty in Afghanistan. The real dangers of this world have been all too clear to us these last months. Far worse than fairytale wolves lurk in the far hills of Afghanistan.

I slept better last night. I am so relieved that our daughter is safe. I continue to pray for the sons and daughters of others who are still in harm's way. And I thank them for putting their lives on the line, trying to keep the big bad wolves away from our homes.

I am very proud that, like the brave Little Red Riding Hood, our daughter has faced a dangerous and difficult assignment and come through it. Welcome back, Molls. We love you very much.


Sunday, October 4, 2009

How to find tag sale bounty even when you're not really trying...

I love garage sales. I just do. They are like treasure hunts. And since my flinch point is quite low, I rarely spend more than a few dollars (and often much less) for things I enjoy having. There is the added satisfaction of reusing or repurposing something that is no longer wanted by someone else. Even our family dogs are second-hand pets.

Driving back from Vermont yesterday, the HH* and I eschewed the popular Hildene Craft Fair (too rainy, too expensive) and stopped instead at the odd tag sale and library used book sale we happened to pass. We weren't really looking for anything in particular. We just had time to dawdle along the pretty Vermont country roads in autumn. Why not stop and look?

I found a pretty little needlepoint pillow with a dog motif, and since I am a dog person, it appealed to me. Although the breed doesn't match either of the dogs in our pack, the pose is reminiscent of both:

Daisy, the used American Eskimo Spitz, we adopted a few years ago from The SPCA of Upstate New York and ...
Shea, the Jack Russell-Chihuahua mix, who came to us from the streets of Puerto Rico via Adirondack Save-A-Stray. (She's not looking too happy here because she thinks I might be trying to put some of the anti-flea and tick stuff on her that she so dislikes.)
Another good find yesterday was a 1940 Gladys Taber book (speaking of dog lovers) that my husband spotted, knowing I would enjoy it. This one is Harvest at Stillmeadow and I think it is the first one she wrote in the Stillmeadow series. It is also a first edition. It cost three bucks. Dogs, autumn, New England, we had a theme going here.
Bargain number three in the top photo is a pristine copy of Barbara Milo Ohrbach's Antiques At Home for which I paid a whopping $5.00. But since a new copy retails for $32.00, not too bad. Used copies can be bought for less but my copy is autographed by the author and my money went to support the Martha Canfield Library in Arlington, Vermont.

And lastly, the library book sale yielded a nice assortment of books for my young granddaughter who loves to be read to. Who Beats the Heat and Cactus Hotel will be perfect for her since she lives in the high desert and already knows lots about the animals that live there.
The HH* bought an armload of books, too, which always makes him happy.
Our last Vermont bargain was from the good ladies of St. James church
who were selling ready-to-eat homemade meals. I bought two, at $4.00 a piece. Last night we ate a delicious white bean, pork, and roasted vegetable stew for our supper. As I write this, stew #2, beef with vegetables, is heating up for our Sunday lunch. Yum.
What bargains did you find this weekend?

*HH = Handsome Husband

Saturday, October 3, 2009

The changing fruit of modern family trees

The HH* and I drove over to Vermont today to have lunch with Barbara and Larry, the parents of our daughter-in-law. These good folks live in the Midwest but they are visiting friends in Vermont this week. By coincidence, Barbara and Larry's friends have a vacation home in the same town where my first husband now lives with his fiancee and her daughter. Dan, my ex, is the father of my son who is married to Barbara and Larry's daughter. (Lost yet?) Anyway, we all met at Dan's place for lunch. It was a pleasant meal and it was good that we were all able to get together.

It occurred to me that the granddaughter we all share will have her work cut out for her, figuring out how all these people are related to her and to each other. But I am glad for her that we can all get along and that she will not have to put up with the scenes and secrets that so many blended families are cursed with. In-laws, step-grandparents, step-aunts, family can come in many shapes and sizes. I look forward to many reunions of this particular group of people: at Margie's high school and college graduations and at her wedding, at the very least. Save me a seat, please.

*HH = Handsome Husband
The photo above is of an old apple tree at the back of Dan's house in Vermont.