Friday, April 17, 2009

Duck Pitcher

Every now and then my ceramic fruit and vegetable pitcher collection expands to include a critter. I was so delighted to find this vintage duck pitcher at Savers for 99 cents! The beak has been mended but the pitcher is very old, I think, and otherwise in good shape.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Dried Flower DooDad

Last week I was paging through a bird identification book I purchased at the Salvation Army Thrift Store and I came upon this dried flower art that the previous owner must have tucked in as a bookmark.

It is a die-cut metallic scrap with dried flowers carefully arranged inside each circle, sealed within wax paper. The entire piece is about 6 inches in diameter. It reminded me of a favorite project back in grade-school, when we sealed autumn leaves and crayon shavings between wax paper with a hot iron.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Arcosanti Artifact

When I was in Arizona a few days ago, I hoped to visit the desert town of Arcosanti, but there just wasn't enough time.

Arcosanti is possibly the first city designed around the concept of sustainability. It is the life work of visionary architect Paolo Soleri. The city is entirely hand-built (it won't be completed in our lifetime) by volunteers and funded by donations and by the sale of cast bronze bells, designed by Soleri.
When I got home my Aunt Barb called. Barb has visited Arcosanti several times and met Paolo Soleri. I told her I was disappointed not to make it there and we talked about Soleri's idea that the city should face outward to the farms that sustained it.

So, it seemed especially serendipitous that the very next morning when I made a quick stop at Savers, I found this Arcosanti bell! What are the chances of that? The bell has a piercingly beautiful, clear tone. I hung it from the windmill tower, together with the Arcosanti bell Aunt Barb gave me many years ago and the more elaborate one Sara and Rog brought home after their father-daughter backpacking trip in the Grand Canyon when she was fourteen.

That's two unusual bells in a row (see previous post)...Coincidence?

Friday, March 6, 2009

A Good Reason to Get a Water Buffalo

Yesterday I found the coolest bell at Goodwill! Well, I guess you call it a bell, despite the fact that it is hand-carved from wood and makes more of a clattering than a ringing sound. It has two hinged external clappers.

It looked sort of southeast Asian to me, but I could envision it worn by one of my hoped-for Icelandic sheep. It would also make a terrific percussion instrument for the musicians in the family.

I searched the internet last night trying to learn its origin. I only found two references to a similar bell: one was an image of a cow in Thailand wearing a bell much like this, and the other was a description of a wooden bell with two exernal clappers used on water buffalo. Hmmm...water buffalo might be good on a small sustainable farm...

Friday, February 27, 2009

Tea for Five

When I was a growing up, cafes always served your hot water in little ceramic teapots when you ordered tea. Way back in my college days I purchased a maroon and a dark green teapot at a garage sale. Over the years I stumbled upon a few more. I love the vintage colors of these darling teapots and they fit perfectly on the plate shelf that runs around the dining room.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Grandma's Bread Bowl

This well-worn bowl is one of the most important cooking tools in our kitchen. It belonged to my Grandma W.(she got it as a wedding gift, I believe) and is the bowl I remember her using to mix up dough for cookies, dilly bread, and especially, caramel rolls.

The caramel roll recipe came from Grandma's friend Maxine. They often enjoyed hot caramel rolls and coffee together over fierce scrabble games. When I visited the farm as a youngster, I sometimes got to play scrabble with Grandma and Maxine and even drink coffee with my caramel roll, although my mine was mostly milk.

When Grandma moved to Oregon to live with my aunt in her last years, my sister Rita moved into her house for a while. Making room in the cupboards, Rita thoughtfully gave me the bowl, saying I was probably the only granddaughter who would actually ever bake bread. We were of college age--I needed cooking gear and neither of us realized then the sentimental value that bowl would have.

My daughters grew up helping me bake bread and cookies using Grandma's bowl. When they grew to college age, both of them requested Grandma's bread bowl. I wasn't even ready to part with it yet! Happily, I had just figured out EBay, and I put out a watch out for a "large Household Institute mixing bowl, Rhythm Rose pattern." Through Ebay I purchased the same bowl, although in much more pristine condition, so we could all have a mixing bowl like Grandma's.

Grandma & Maxine's Caramel Rolls for Scrabble

Dissolve: 1 package yeast in 1/4 cup warm water.
Scald: 1 cup of milk in a small pan. Pour into large mixing bowl.
Add to the milk: 2 T. sugar, 2 T. shortening, 1 tsp. salt.
Add 1 beaten egg and the softened yeast. Beat well and add 1 cup of flour. Add 2 1/2 cups more flour, as needed to make a soft dough. Knead.
Cover and let rise in warm place to double in size. Roll outinto 9 x 12 rectangle and dot with butter, sprinkle cinnamom and sugar. Roll up and slice.

Melt 1/2 cup butter and 1/2 cup borwn sugar in a 9 x 12 baking pan. Place rolls in pan. Raise to lightness.
Bake 20-25 minutes in 375 degree oven. Invert on rack when done. Very tasty with hot coffee and friends to share with.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Bluebirds of Happiness

I am learning that eventually, if you are patient enough, perseverent and observant enough, what you desire will show up. These birds symbolize that in a silly, tangible way.

A few years ago we attended my sister's wedding in Tucson. One morning we took her dog for a walk in her neighborhood and stopped at a garage sale, where I bought a simple blue ceramic bird for 50 cents. He made it safely home wrapped in clothes in my suitcase and found the perfect perch on my backyard garden fence post. I even stained the fence his shade of blue. He was so lovely there, I wished I had a second bird, one for each of the main fence posts.

Then one day, several months later, the identical bird appeared at a thrift store in Rochester! I had to pay $3 for the second bird, but it was definitely worth it. I can hardly wait for spring - there are plenty of fence posts at our farm for these birds to perch upon.

Saturday, February 14, 2009


When I stopped in Savers this morning (looking for an inexpensive solution for a hanging pot rack - see future post) I found this heart-shaped hotwater bottle. Since it happens to be Valentines Day today, I had to get it for my sweetie--who is much hotter than any hot water bottle!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Corny Pitcher

My silly pitcher collection started with an irresistable ceramic pitcher in the shape of a cantaloupe 15 years ago, and has grown into a veritable Farmers Market of fruit- and vegetable-shaped pitchers. I have found most of them at garage sales, thrift stores, flea markets, and TJ MAxx, and some have been gifts.

When I accidently broke the bunch-of-grapes pitcher, I searched for a replacement on EBay and came across a wonderful antique corn pitcher. I bid on it, but was quickly outbid-- it sold for over $300. Far, far beyond my price range! Last summer, I drove past a garage sale and stopped on a whim. There I found the exact same corn pitcher -- for only $3. This is one of my most fortuitous finds!

Monday, February 9, 2009

The Impetus for this Blog

I have collected some pretty odd things over the years, and this little ceramic gnome vessel ranks right up there. I was in town and had a bit of time between meetings this afternoon, so I stopped in at Savers to see if I could find some interesting decor for my chicken coop/potting shed. No luck there, but I stumbled upon this quirky gnome dish. My first reaction was "Ugly!" but then I felt its weird attraction (maybe it's magical.) Today was Monday and yellow ticketed items were 99 cents; it had a yellow price tag, so it was meant to be.

On the bottom it says copyright 1957, "FINE ENT INC" and "Calif USA." I did a google search and found the same piece listed for sale on Ebay in 2004, but the seller was as baffled by it as I am. My best guess is that it is a little nightstand dish to set your change or keys in --I am currently using it on my desk for paperclips.

My family gives me a lot of grief about my penchant for purchasing strange things at garage sales and thrift stores. I figure somebody out there surely must appreciate these treasures as much as I do--thus, this blog.