Showing posts with label vintage. Show all posts
Showing posts with label vintage. Show all posts

October 18, 2014

Little Golden Books

Thanks to the Literary Library Baby Shower, I haven't had to purchase any books for the Peanut.

Until today.

The antique stores beckoned -- and even though I have plenty of Pyrex, I thought it would be fun to head out and at least browse. 

Browsing at antique stores is a bit like going to a museum without having to pay an entrance fee. As an added bonus, you don't have to wait for the gift shop at the end of your tour to make a purchase -- everything is for sale.

Today's trip yielded these Little Golden Books. 


They will go right on the shelf next to The Sailor Dog

I loved it when my mom read to me and I hope the Peanut grows up with a fondness for books like his Mama and Grandma. 

I think we're off to a good start!

August 27, 2014

When Life Gives You Overripe Bananas...

The only thing to do is to use them up!

Years ago when I worked onboard the Love Boat, crew members would routinely request bananas from the galley whenever they had a craving for baking. Bananas were plentiful in Africa... but they still went brown after a few days of being stored onboard. In such cases (and depending on the chef...) they were often up for grabs rather than getting tossed out with the garbage.

The ship was equipped with small crew kitchens called ripostos. (I have no idea if that is the correct spelling... I've never figured out where the term came from.) 

Spelling aside, I was never a fan of cooking in these ripostos -- mainly because they never seemed to be up to my standard of cleanliness. Plus, we had a whole crew of kitchen staff who served us three meals a day. Nevertheless, I occasionally wanted to bake something. Anything.

I acquired a small oven (on par with the looks of a child's easy bake...) and somehow I was allowed to use it in my tiny cabin. Along with my own coffee maker, it allowed me to have a homey feel when I started to get claustrophobic about eating in the same dining room as hundreds of other people.

I love having no-fail recipes. My no-fail recipe onboard was an apple cake made with an insane amount of oil and a fridge milk-tart (admittedly, I failed numerous times on the latter one until I figured out the difference between corn starch and corn meal. DUH.) I don't think I had a no-fail banana bread recipe at the time, but eventually, I found one on land. This Banana Banana Bread one is in my favorites and is insanely quick and easy.

So quick and easy in fact that yesterday, after lunch, I commented to the sailor how rotten the bananas looked on the counter, and within minutes of him suggesting I make banana bread, the ingredients were mixed and in the oven.

An hour later.... Banana Banana Bread. Baked in and served on vintage Pyrex, of course.


April 11, 2014

Garden Green

Overnight, it seems the trees here turned green. And with the frost (hopefully) behind us, this was the perfect week to restart our garden. 

We may not have a backyard, but we like to think that all of the hiking trails and parks near us are simply an extension of our apartment. Plus, we have a neat little community garden right at our complex. Last year's little garden was such success (despite that run-in with the rusty wire...) so this year we're taking two plots.  

First, we pulled out the last of the Winter Kale, since it started going to seed.

Then we planted tomatoes, peppers and spinach. I know the spinach looks quite sad in the photo below, but after only being in the ground for 24 hours, it's now totally perked up!

Plants amaze me. What are you growing this year? 

PS: Anyone else spot that great vintage CorningWare oven/serving tray above? 
It definitely sees multiple uses around here.  

March 2, 2014

Vintage Cooking

Over the weekend, I hosted a small gathering of local ladies as part of a cooking club. Soon after we moved here, one of the members got married and moved overseas, and I got drafted in to fill her seat. Every meeting offers a new theme and everyone brings a dish -- an intimate potluck, if you will. The hostess provides the drinks and party flair. 

This month's theme was my idea and of course I picked 'vintage'. Any excuse to pull out the Pyrex, I say.  

My vintage recipe books hold a cornucopia of old-fashioned recipes, so I was excited to see what the gals would cook up. They didn't disappoint. We had baked brie (divine), old fashioned PA Dutch Pot-Pie (homemade noodles; no crust involved), pistachio jello salad (yum) and a pineapple upside down cake (yes, please!)  

All I had to do was supply the beverages. I desperately wanted to use my punch bowl that I thrifted last summer. But every vintage punch recipe I saw had waaaayyyy too much booze in it. I'm all for a good tipple, but many recipes called for three or four different types of alcohol mixed together. And the quantities were astounding. This was an intimate affair -- not a party for 40. 

I finally found this one from the 1960s -- a bourbon punch. I halved the recipe and I mixed together the lemons, seltzer, tea and sugar first, and it was delightful all on its own. It reminded me of tea cooler -- that summertime blend of lemonade and iced tea. I ended up only using a quarter of the bourbon called for though -- it was plenty strong just like that and reminded everyone of a good whiskey sour. 

I think my favorite part of making the punch, besides getting to use actual vintage punch cups and the bowl, was the giant ice block. I poured water into my smallest bundt pan, added lemons to it and let it freeze. Rather than having small ice cubes melt away and dilute the drink, the giant block melted much slower and was just fun to watch bobbing around in the bowl.

Not to be outdone, the non-alcoholic option was just as tasty. I made this raspberry cordial, ├ála Anne of Green Gables. I halved the cordial and it still made a ton. Considering this hardly took any time or effort, I think I might be making a lot more cordial in the future! 

I served the cordial with a bottle of seltzer water (cordial is far too sweet on its own and should be diluted) on a Pyrex plate, and as an added vintage bonus, I included glass swizzle sticks for guests to stir their mixture together. I've been hunting for vintage swizzle sticks for a long time, and I found these three cute ones with sailboats on them, last week at a thrift store. 

While the vintage cooking theme was a resounding success in my book, I do realize that not all vintage recipes appeared (or tasted!) as lovely as ours. For a good laugh, check out BuzzFeeds's 21 Truly Upsetting Vintage Recipes. If the photos alone don't make you laugh out loud, the captions definitely should!

February 5, 2014

Bread for Brunch

So this glorious bit of brunch happened this weekend. 

Drooling? I sure did. 

Sometimes, especially when the Sailor isn't home, I don't make a great effort to sit at the table, let alone set it with any great fanfare. I end up hastily eating something over the sink, or somewhere near the counter, wondering if I should have even bothered using a plate. 

Is it just me, or do we all do this at some point when we're on our own? 

I have gotten better about this... and nowadays I do find myself eating most meals at the actual table. Last Friday, soon after I bought these flowers, I decided I had a hankering for Cinnamon Sugar Pull-Apart Bread (this delightful dish is one of many found on Annie's Eats... my go-to site for great recipe ideas.) 

Bread isn't normally on my list of things to make from scratch on a weekend morning, but when I realized I could make the dough ahead of time and then store it in the fridge overnight, I decided to just go for it. The next morning, all I had to do was roll it out, assemble it, let it rise again and then bake it! 

As a bonus, this was the perfect scene for the first day of February's round of #7Vignettes on Instagram. The theme was 'love' and who doesn't love a good Saturday morning brunch? (Not to mention those wonderful pink Pyrex vintage plates?!)

December 27, 2013

Holiday Indulgences and Lamb Leftovers

Hope you all had a wonderful holiday, wherever and however you celebrated! 

The Sailor and I enjoyed a slow-roasted lamb roast (YUM) and veggies, including baby carrots from our garden. 

I brought out the vintage Federal Glass 'Golden Glory' plates I thrifted eons ago, along with the matching platter I found a few months ago at an antique shop. I also found this glorious tablecloth for only a few dollars at an antique store over Thanksgiving... and while I purchased it with plans for a holiday party in mind, it suited the table for two just right.

A Pyrex casserole dish also made an appearance (of course). Overall, our day was lovely. Not stressful and just the right amount of overindulgence on food. 

And of course, there was also mince pie, cheesecake and sugar cookies for dessert. 

The best part about having all of that food were leftovers for Boxing Day on December 26th. I thought leftover Thanksgiving turkey sandwiches were the business, but the Sailor showed me how to make a mean leftover lamb sandwich. (Heat up some chopped onion and tomato with a little sugar and oil... toast the bun or bread, shred the lamb, add spinach, cheese and sweet chilli sauce. EAT. Enjoy. Repeat as often as necessary.

While America doesn't really recognize Boxing Day, it's popular in England and other parts of the world. And when we woke up to a leaf blower outside our apartment building on the day after Christmas, the Sailor reminded me that America missed the memo on having another day off.

Next week, I'll be posting some (non) New Year's Resolutions ideas, as well as highlights from Typing Sunflowers from 2013. In the meantime, enjoy those leftovers. And if you missed Boxing Day this year... at least pretend it's another holiday over the weekend! 

September 21, 2013

#7vignettes Part I

I've mentioned before how much fun I have on Instagram. Ever since I joined the online photo community, it's challenged me to take creative pictures using only my phone. I love seeing what other people around the world creatively post! 

I don't really participate in a ton of hashtag projects (yet!) but I do love playing along with #7vignettes. There are some amazing interior designers taking part mainly in Australia, but people submit their photos from around the world. 

I'm not an interior designer, nor do I live in Australia, but I truly enjoying seeing how other people interpret a one word theme in photos. I tried to not only create and take photos that matched the words, but I also created my own 'travel' theme throughout each of the photos in the seven day series.

I'm a little late in showing you all my first round of pics from August, but here they are:

Of course every photo has a story that's also part of the vignette. You can read Day 1's tea/coffee one here, if you missed it. 

The rest of the vignettes are as follows: 

BEDSIDE:  Bride's-eye-view from the cake topper that never made it to my wedding in South Africa, but arrived months later in the post in America. (The bride and groom still haven't clued me in on where they were all that time...) Also at my bedside: a frame holding an anniversary photo of the Sailor and me, at least one book, and always, without a fail, a glass of water at bedtime. 

WINDOW: Travel offers a window of opportunity to experience other cultures. I often feel as though I'm reflecting on past trips abroad at the same time that I'm planning new adventures. 

ELEGANT: For me, elegance is found somewhere between a train trip on the Orient Express from Budapest, coffee in the dining car, watching the snowfall while writing in my journal, and an African safari, sipping sundowners with the zebras. It's hard to choose... 

MONOCHROME: Vintage lovelies that have both traveled through and stood the test of time. Green is glorious. 

EMOTIONAL: The gamut of emotions I've experienced since the age of 10 have all been recorded in my journals... When words fail sometimes the emotions are simply a tear stain, a ticket stub, a sketch or a photo -- even the crumbling petals of a rose. Even in this age of mobile gadgetry, I still travel with my journal -- 61 journals now line my bookshelf. I'm working my way through number 62. 

HANDMADE: I have my mother to thank for instilling in me a sense of creativity and wonder in everyday objects. She taught me to sew and crochet and she showed me the amazing things you can do with paper and scissors (her pinking shears made the photo cut). Years later, my mother-in-law taught me to knit. She told me to keep the practice square as a memento of that first lesson. (It's in the upper right corner.) I knit the blue sweater soon after. The color reminded me of the Sailor's and my handmade wedding invitations and the oceans that separate two of the most amazing women I know. Handmade with love. 

August 30, 2013

Sew Cool

A few weeks ago, I found THIS: 

Sooooo cool, right? 


I posted the story on The Thrift Collective* -- you can read all about it right here

(The Thrift Collective has about 50 contributing members. Remember that if you browse the site, you will be reading various posts from different people --  not all of the posts are mine. In fact, today was my first post there. Contrary to popular belief in our household, I don't thrift THAT much!)

August 13, 2013

Vintage Snack Sets

Despite my love of dishware, I don't actually have a full set of dinner plates. The Sailor hinted at throwing a housewarming party at some point now that we're settled in, but I certainly don't have enough of any one style plate to serve more than two people at a time.

I'm still searching for a few more of the turquoise plates (oh plates, why do you elude me?!) But since they seem to be scarce, I figured I'd better have Plan B ready because I well and truly despise plastic plates and cups. (They have their place at a picnic, but for most occasions, nothing says 'you're not worth the risk of breaking my dish or my extra time for clean-up' to your guests than getting served on a throwaway plate.)
Never mind the plate problem: while my current kitchen could easily swallow my old one, I only have a four-person table. Seating is still a challenge. Obviously, one can mix and mingle at a party without formally sitting down at a table, but frankly, most guests also like to eat -- and drink. And there's no getting around how awkward it is to hold both your beverage and your plate while trying to eat with your hands. 

Then I discovered these vintage snack sets. I've noticed them before in my travels, but I've always passed them up. Apparently, though, they are quite popular in the South. Perhaps I'm simply noticing them more since there's not as much Pyrex to look at here, but they are EVERYWHERE! And fairly cheap, too. 

What better way to throw a party, where guests can mix and mingle? I certainly could have used them for last year's holiday party.

Over the weekend, I found a mix of 16 Federal Glass and Anchor Hocking trays and cups at both thrift stores and antique stores, for about $25 total. I'm sure you can get them even cheaper, but I thought less than $1.50 per set was a bargain. In some cases, single plates were even cheaper at antique stores than the thrifts! You can't even get plates at a department store that cheap. (Besides, if you did, would they be this cool?)

While some of the glasses aren't the original ones that matched the trays, they still look wonderful together -- if you are a purist and want to start collecting them yourself, there is certainly no shortage of them on eBay in their matching set boxes. It's fairly easy to figure out which cups match which sets.  

These snack sets would be grand for any party -- I've never been to an event where I've seen them in action, but I hear that people still use them for baby and bridal showers and meet and greet gatherings. I plan on using mine for sure! 

What about you? Have you seen these lovelies in action in the past or present?

{Total side note: This tray befuddled me at first since it has two indentations. I couldn't figure out why anyone would carry two glasses, but then someone pointed out to me that one is an ashtray! There's even a lip on the side for a cigarette. I don't smoke, but I could imagine a gaggle of gals in a different era, playing a game of Bridge under a cloud. Non-smokers -- that extra indentation would be perfect for dip, sauces, or anything you want to keep separate from other food!} 

August 6, 2013

Global Love

Awhile back, a friend asked: 'If you could get a free round-the-world ticket, what five cities would you stop in?' 

I love games like that. 

The past few days, I've been staring at maps and all manner of travel paraphernalia, not only because I'm missing my friends in Scotland. On Instagram, I've been participating in #7vignettes. (In a nutshell, Instagrammers the world over create stunning vignettes according to themes over a week-long period.) Of course, no matter what the theme, most of my photos have some sort of nod to travel in them. I'll be sharing the photos a little later on the blog.

I have always loved to travel -- even the idea of it makes me giddy. Long before I ever took my first international flight, my father traveled internationally for work. He brought home in-fight magazines in German and Italian... and I tried to decipher them word for word with his European phrasebooks. I never made sense of any of them, but I hoped that someday I'd get to travel too.

It took me 19 years to go on my first transatlantic flight, and while it was also to an English speaking country, I had my share of miscommunication along the way. A year later, I made my way to foreign countries where the languages sounded like Klingon to my ears. Despite my lack of understanding, I became hooked on travel. I've never stopped for very long since.  

Bearing in mind that I could get off the plane at these cities and travel further, my five cities were Buenos Aires, Mumbai, Vladivostok, Lisbon, and Reykjavik. (This list is by no means exhaustive...)

So, if you could get a free round-the-world ticket, which five cities would you stop in? Go on, I dare you to play the game! And if you're on Instagram, be sure to check out #7vignettes.

PS: Can we just talk a little bit about that splendid globe pincushion in the photos?! It is one of the ONLY vintage items I've ever purchased on eBay. I actually saw one for sale on Instagram, and when I found one for MUCH less on eBay, I nabbed it.

May 1, 2013

Gravy Boat Winner and Fire King Chilli Bowls

I had a lot of fun doing my six-month blogiversary Great Gravy Boat Giveaway. Thank you so much to everyone who entered -- I enjoyed reading responses from all over the world! I wish I could send all of you a gravy boat... everyone seems so lovely! 

I only have one to giveaway this time though... and the winner is:  

Emily Vannah!  

Congrats Emily -- send me an email TypingSunflowers(at) with your mailing address and I will get your gravy boat and plate in the mail for you! 

I did the giveaway old school style and put the names in a bowl (Pyrex, of course) shuffled them, handed the bowl to my mother, who closed her eyes, and pulled out a card. 

I recently thrifted the white bowl that goes with this big Butterfly Gold bowl above -- see the photos here on the Pyrex Collective III blog. 

I also ranted a little about my local Salvation Army on that same post. The non-priced mixing bowl I wanted to purchase last week is nowhere to be found... but I did find these chilli bowls. I promised myself that I wouldn't collect Fire King anything (I have enough Pyrex, clearly...) but for 99 cents each, these little cuties were too fun to pass up. 

They are great sizes for children and it makes me think that whoever owned them previously may have used them for a son and daughter. 

I think we'll just use them as HIS and HER ice cream bowls for now. 

(Use your imagination. I didn't have any ice cream in the freezer...)

That Salvation Army is slowly redeeming itself. 

Thanks again to the giveaway entries!

(And stay tuned -- I'm sure I'll have more giveaways in the future. Pyrex will probably be involved. What a surprise.

April 18, 2013

The Great Gravy Boat Giveaway and a Happy Blogiversary

Six months ago, I tentatively published my first post on this blog. I say tentatively, because I knew I needed to start a blog for me, even if nobody else read it. 

Thankfully, it appears that some people do actually read Typing Sunflowers. Whether you have stumbled here through a random Google search, or because I gave you the actual address, or because you're a fellow blogger seeking inspiration, welcome. I love having visitors! 

To celebrate my six months in the blogiverse community, I'm giving away a little of my Pyrex collection. I told myself I wouldn't end up becoming one of those 'collectors', but becoming a member of the Pyrex Collective III blog opened up a whole new world to me -- and I couldn't pass up any inexpensive piece of Butterfly Gold. I found this little gem at an Idaho yarn store that also housed antiques. (Um, hello, dream retail job...) 

I started using my gravy boat a lot -- even for non-gravy items, like the juice needed in this orange marmalade cake

Soon, I found a matching underdish on Etsy. (What did we do before Etsy?!) The plate was also being sold with an additional gravy dish and matching plate, and all three were cheaper than purchasing just the plate on eBay (And what did we do before eBay?)

Now I had two gravy boats and two plates. The Sailor doesn't mind my thrifting habits, but he does mind excess. And really, I don't need TWO gravy boats (especially in the same pattern!) So I'm giving this one away: 

That's right.  

I'm GIVING AWAY a gravy boat. 

The underplate is included -- exactly what you see in the picture above. All you have to do is leave a comment below, telling me which Pyrex pattern is your favorite. If you don't have a favorite, that's okay. You can just say hi. Or tell me what you do collect -- or what your favorite color is. Just leave a comment. Contest is open to anyone -- not just Pyrex collectors. Most of us probably started with only one piece in our collections. Maybe this gravy boat is meant to kick off yours?

Contest closes at 23:59 EST April 30, 2013. Winner will be chosen at random and announced May 1st. No purchase necessary. The winner has two weeks from the date of the announcement to contact me for their prize. If I don't hear from the winner within the two weeks, they forfeit their prize and I will draw another name at random. Void where prohibited by law. 

(And yes, contest is open to those outside of the USA. I travel a lot, and I believe Pyrex should be available in all countries. In fact, I'm feeling so generous, that I'll even pay for the shipping.

{This giveaway is now closed. Winner posted here.}

April 13, 2013

Counting Calories?

I truly believe that a picture is worth 1,000 words. Or in this case, a few thousand calories.

Ukrainian and Russian nibbles for my knitting club. Jelly filled donuts, Lepeshki, Ukrainian Poppy Seed Cake, Mini Lemon Bundt Cakes, and more donuts -- all served in vintage Pyrex. Of course.  

Hankering for more Pyrex eye-candy? Check out my latest post on the Pyrex Collective III blog here.

(That's all for today. My last post was a bit long, and after baking that mess above, I'm still too exhausted to write anymore!) 

April 2, 2013

Gathering the Gooseberries

I went through a little bit of thrifting withdrawal on our recent travels. (Or 'drifting' as the Sailor likes to refer to my junking habit.) 

I think thrifting is the ultimate form of recycling though. Besides, who doesn't like a good treasure hunt? 

This weekend, I went out for coffee with my mom, and on my way to exchange some yarn in between, we stopped briefly at the nearby thrift store. 

THIS... in its full glory, called out my name. 

Those of you who know your vintage Pyrex will know that this Gooseberry refrigerator set is not an easy one to come by. I've seen the prices on eBay and frankly, it scared me off of ever finding one in an antique store, let alone a thrift store. 

But a few months back, I found this lonely little dish here. And I got a little glimmer of hope that more Gooseberry must be out there somewhere, at a reasonable price. 

My mom said she thought she saw rainbows burst out of me when I saw the full fridge set. You can read that story here and see what else I bought that day. I know I spent more money than usual (seriously people, I'm more of a bargain thrifter, not splurger... but occasionally there are times when rainbows burst out of me and I can't control myself...)

Of course my rule in purchasing Pyrex is that I have to actually use it. It can't just sit there looking pretty (although it IS pretty, isn't it?!) 

Avocado and tomato salad, along with homemade fennel soup. I remembered I had a fennel soup recipe I wanted to try out, so I purchased some at the local farmer's market. 

I've never used fennel in anything before -- but it is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. The soup was little more than butter, onion, garlic, chicken stock and the fennel... but I think the secret was in cooking the fennel for at least 30 minutes to bring out the flavor. Yum.

As usual, everything tasted better in Pyrex. 


March 25, 2013

Old Books are Super Sweet

Over the years, I have always poked fun at my mother for her love of old books. Just the other night, she was telling me about a Sinclair Lewis book she recently finished, and I asked if she was reading anything a little more modern these days. 

(She wasn't. This is besides the point, however.)

The next day, the Sailor pointed to a book he'd never noticed on the shelf and asked what it was -- it was an old copy of 'The Real Book about Ships'. We took it down to page through... and while at the shelf I unearthed my 1953 copy of 'Aboard and Abroad' -- an entire volume dedicated to fifties style travel to and from Europe.

Obviously, much of the information is out of date. But there are a few hidden gems, like a reminder of former steamship Cunard's ad campaign: 'Getting there is half the fun.' 

I concur. Getting there (and around) usually is still half the fun. (Sometimes it's most of the fun! If you missed the post a week ago about renting a car in Mexico, you can read that here.)

But I digress... sifting through those books reminded me that I'm turning into my mother a little. I may not be reading an old, dusty edition by Sinclair Lewis yet, but I definitely have my fair share of older books -- especially cookbooks. (You can read more about that here.)

This weekend, I wanted to make a pineapple upside down cake. I could have just looked online, but I decided to use the recipe from an old cookbook, instead. I picked 'The Culinary Arts Institute Encyclopedia Cookbook' -- the 1966 new revised delux edition. 

I should have known when I set out that this dessert might flop. At the very least, it was going to put everyone into a sugar-induced coma. For a 9x9 inch pan, the recipe called for 1 cup of brown sugar AND 1 cup of white sugar. I thought it must have been a typo, but I proceeded as directed.

In addition, I really, really wanted to use my new (yet old) round Pyrex 8x8 cake pan I recently thrifted. So of course the batter was going to ooze out over the top since the pan was too full. 

I flipped the cake over once it cooled... and the whole thing started to slide off the plate. No photos... my fingers were too sticky from all of the pineapple juice to handle the camera. I took one bite of the gooey cake and my teeth started to hurt. 

I chalked it up to another kitchen disaster. If you need more proof that this wasn't my first kitchen flop, you can see more here.  

My mother reminded me (after taking her own bite and nearly passing out) that people didn't eat sugary stuff as often back then as they do today. So maybe it wasn't a typo on the cookbook. Maybe it was just a once-a-year-special-occasion cake?

Regardless,  I'm going to think twice about making something sweet out of an old cookbook again.

March 19, 2013

Snowflake Garlands

I thought for sure we would return home to witness the trees blossoming, buds springing forth from the ground, and a serious temptation to continue to show off my pedicured feet in the form of sandals. 

I was wrong

Yesterday, the Sailor and I watched in disbelief as it snowed. 

And snowed. 

And snowed some more. 

Blue skies today mean that the snow is melting, although more wet stuff is forecast for the rest of the week. Forget salads and detoxing post-cruise, suddenly, I'm finding myself wanting to bake.

As I have mentioned before on this blog, I have an affinity for vintage Pyrex. I even blog at a collector's site, although my small kitchen won't permit me to have quite so many pieces of Pyrex. 

I started out loving the yellow and orange Pyrex because it matched my kitchen (Sunflower colors? Why yes, thank you...) 

Along the way, I've gained an appreciation for many of the fun colors Pyrex made -- pink and aqua have now also found their way into my collection. 

I resisted purchasing anything with snowflakes on it though -- I figured I could only use those pieces over the winter, and I wanted my vintage stuff to serve more of a purpose than simply sitting on a shelf as decor. Nevertheless, I found this piece for only $3 and I was hooked.

Last week, once I had unpacked and did the necessary laundry, I did a quick round through town to the thrift stores. I wasn't having much luck at the first two, but then I found something that caught my eye at the third one. 

It's the Snowflake Garland pattern -- one that I don't have yet, and one that I certainly don't need. In fact, I've definitely passed up this pattern in other shapes before. But an 8x8 baking pan with fantastic handles for only $3? How practical is that

Now that I actually bought the thing, my only decision is what I'm going to actually bake in it. 

Winter will come and finally go, at least for a few months. Vintage Pyrex, though...  you're here to stay.

February 14, 2013

Feeling Blue on Valentine's Day?

Valentine's Day brings up a myriad of emotions. Me? I'm not really a big fan. I think I'm still a little scarred by a former job.

Years ago, I worked as a temp at a local flower store for the Valentine's Day rush.

Now, before you get all excited with images of quaint flower stalls crammed between meat and veg vendors in open air markets in Europe, or even your local florist with the fresh, wrapped roses you may have already bought for you sweetheart, let me first tell you the honest truth. 

I never even TOUCHED a flower there. 

Eight hours on my feet daily, surrounded by roses, carnations, baby's breath, Hershey Kisses and teddy bears -- I got to spend the majority of that temp job stapling cellophane.  

Cellophane. Cello-PAIN. 

I hate cellophane. It's the first thing I rip off of flowers when I buy them. And it is usually the first thing most people rip off before they place their flowers in a vase, but the cellophane's job was to keep the flowers neat, clean and alive, apparently. My mundane job on the other hand, was to fold and staple countless sheets, so that someone else could actually wrap the arrangements. 

I didn't get any flowers from the Sailor that year. He was halfway around the world, and I told him not to bother. I saw enough flowers in that 'factory', even if they weren't mine to keep. 

This year, thankfully, I didn't spend the week leading up to Valentine's Day at the florist. (Nor did I make use of any cellophane, whatsoever... although I did battle with some plastic wrap this afternoon when I covered the potato salad.

I did however get fairly far knitting my blue cardi.

Then, as I started to weave in the ends, I noticed that the ones in the back didn't look so neat. The sloppy weaving was right in the middle of the back, where I had joined a new ball of yarn. 

I never join a new ball of yarn right in the middle of a sweater. But because I added some length to this sweater, and since I neglected to buy an 'extra' ball of yarn, I was so afraid of running out of the blue, that I joined a new ball in the middle. 

The thing is... I never really joined it. I always put a double knot where I join my knitting. Some people say this is the worst thing to do -- if you're not careful, it leaves a lump right where you weave in the ends. This time, because I couldn't hide the lump (small as it may have been...) in the seam or at the side, I decided not to knot the balls the together. I just left a few inches and weaved the ends in. 

Then when I saw the sloppiness of my weaving, I pulled one out. And somehow (I'm guessing because I didn't tie a knot in there!) I managed to put a hole in my knitting.

 I gasped. Then I stared at the hole for a while. 

 Then I decided to make an even bigger hole, in my attempt to fix the damage. It you're going to mess something up, you may as well go whole hog, right?

(Ironic, isn't it, that my knitting needles have formed a frown?)

I made an effort to graft the stitches together, but in the end, it didn't look very nice. Plus, I had the mess at the back to contend with. The Sailor took one look at it and suggested I start over completely. I resisted the urge to take the long circular needle to his neck... and decided he was right. 

So I ripped out the knitting. And ripped. Then ripped some more. The whole monotonous ripping and winding reminded me of that temp job stapling cellophane. But before I knew it, the sleeveless portion of my cardigan was back into balls. 

By now perhaps you're wondering why I ripped the WHOLE thing out?? Well, because I had already sewn the button band on (not pictured in the above 'vest' photo), I had to rip that out too. And in my carelessness, I started to rip out the bottom of the cardigan by mistake. So I figured that I may as well rip the whole thing out while I'm at it. 

I was so frustrated by the whole thing, that I was ready to throw the yarn into the trash. I felt like the color of the yarn. The Sailor reminded me that we learn by our mistakes. He's right. And sometimes things look pretty ugly before they become beautiful. 

I decided to take my mess and try out the yarn ball winder my mother-in-law just gave me. I love that she taught me to knit and she's passing along to me a vintage item that she herself used for years. 

I enlisted the Sailor's help to wind the balls. (I know they're in balls above... but this yarn winder makes them into center-pull balls, which is infinitely better. It also means the yarn isn't rolling around in dog hair on the floor while I knit.)

I explained to him how the ball winder works, and he just looked at me while he calmly reminded me that he helped his mother wind numerous hanks of yarn when he was a kid. 

By about the fourth ball, I realized that cellophane or not, I didn't need any flowers from the Sailor on Valentine's Day (I get plenty during the rest of the year...) 

Hanging out with him for the day was enough. Having him believe I could create the cardi over again was even better. Helping me wind the balls of yarn was just an added bonus.