Brass Deer Family
Big Buck $2.50, Mama Doe & Baby $2.00

Sure, they don't really match, but what family does?  Mama deer, Papa deer, and Bambi in tow makes for an adorable table vignette at Christmas.  Or all the time. 


Hollywood Regency Round Mirror

This is one of my favorite finds.  Not just because its beautiful plaster on wood design is simple enough to please my architect husband but pretty enough that it belongs in our 100 year old house, but because it was one of the things that we found while we were honeymooning.  Yes, we're old people and love to "just drive around" and go antiqueing instead of to the Bahamas or wherever people our age go on vacations.  So, every time that I look at this beauty, I think of our little road trip to the beautiful hills of Wisconsin and I'm still cruising around with the windows down; our hair blowing in the autumn wind; our junker SUV filled to capacity with treasures.  And that's the beauty of buying things from a thrift store, garage sale, or goodwill- it's got a life of it's own and the ability to take you to a happy place just by being around it.


Antique Print Floral Wallpaper
scored it for: $2.00
Hello, gorgeous!  These pictures don't quite do the richness of this wallpaper justice. It's actually a really rich, deep, rust red background.  I found this at the local re-store, along with some other wallpaper rolls.  The other two I found (a Christmas-y plaid and a modern red on white pattern) are destined to become wrapping paper.  Thrift store wallpaper that's too ugly or too small of a quantity for decor can have a second life as wrapping paper.  Plus, at $2.00 or so for a huge roll, you're saving an arm and a leg on wrapping paper!


Runzas: you'll only know of them if you grew up around Nebraska or- sorry Nebraska- had the misfortune to have to drive through it the long way on the way to Colorado.  They're bread wrapped around meat and cheese and baked until the bread is crusty and the cheese is melty.  Ahh, sometimes it's the simple things in life.

I must warn you ahead of time, I didn't make the bread dough for these.  Cookies, bring 'em on; homemade tortillas, lemme at 'em; but baking bread I just can't get myself to do.  They're actually super inexpensive frozen dinner rolls.  But, if you're like my amazingly talented photographer/mother-of-three-amazing-kids/excellent baker sister, feel free to tackle the homemade bread section with gusto and sticky dough fingers!

Another disclosure: these aren't meant to be just like Runzas, which I think can be a little too salty and soggy sometimes.  These are my own version that are a little lighter on their feet, which just so happen to be deliciously crusty and buttery buns.  Oh, and feel free to add vegetables to these, but, let's be honest, when you're stuffing meat and cheese in to buns and then likely dipping those in ketchup or ranch dressing later, the vegetables aren't really necessary.


Antique Gilded Chromolithograph "God Bless Our Home"
scored it for: $2.50
This is another one of the treasures from that Wisonsin honeymoon The Man and I took.  I have to say, although I hate to share too much, Wisconsin is a gold mine of thrift store finds.  Would you believe that we found this in a rack of picture frames at a Goodwill?  Well, you'd better believe it- and it was only $2.50- how's that for a steal!  The gilding on this shines beautifully and I think that is likely the original frame. 


Two Glass & Brass Obelisk Boxes
scored it for: $1.00 each
These are some of my favorite thrift store scores.  They remind me of Victorian Curiosity Cabinets and I do have quite the love affair with all things from that era (i.e., my wedding bouquet preserved under glass).  I've seen these at fancy shops and places like Restoration Hardware, but at less than $2, they were quite a steal!


I've read of many ways to save seeds, but the method on gardenweb seems to work best, although I've tweaked their method a bit.  I bought heirloom tomato seeds this Spring so that I could save seeds for next year: a cute little Yellow Pear, a Beefsteak, and some Martino's Roma Tomato (very similar to San Marzano).  I was just making Freezer Tomato Sauce and knew it was the perfect time to save seeds. 


If you have a bounty of tomatoes this year, or are lucky enough to have access to a big bunch of garden fresh tomatoes, I recommend making this sauce.  It's as easy as throwing some tomatoes in a food processor, then boiling them for a bit.  Your future self will thank you when you're pulling cheery bags of homemade tomato sauce from the freezer in the middle of the winter. 

This sauce is very versatile- I've used it for pasta, over summer squash noodles, and for making tomato-based soups.  It's fresh and light and nothing like it's supermarket counterpart.


I've always wanted to try Spaghetti Squash, but The Man is so grossed out by it's stringy interior that I haven't even been able to bring one in the house without hefty doses of dramaticized gagging noises, let alone get one on the supper table.  But this, oh, this.  Summer Squash comes in an unassuming little yellow package, free from the stringy interior of spaghetti squash.  Plus, you get to use a nifty tool to cut it.  I can't take any blame for you wanting to julienne everything in your diet after using one of these glorified disposable razor tools, just know you're not alone if you do.

In summary, this dish is awesome.  No, the squash doesn't taste exactly like spaghetti noodles.  It does taste pretty darn close, though, and the buttery golden color is undeniably appetizing.  Oh, and the creamy and spicy tomato basil sauce doesn't hurt it's cause.


This is a texture-lover's dream dessert, with it's buttery, flaking layers of phyllo sandwiched around smoky, salty bacon and toasted pecans.  Once you add the gooey maple syrup to the mix, it's just something that you'll likely be craving for years to come.  My advice: make alot of it.

I made these little beauties for the Iowa State Fair and entered them in the category sponsored by the local gourmet spice store, Allspice, so I knew they have to have some spunk.  Based loosely off of the delicious cocktail Hot Night In Mumbai, these are sure to surprise your tastebuds.  A buttery sugar cookie base envelopes a heady mixture of tellicherry peppercorns, orange zest, and rich saffron.  This is not a cookie for the timid, but it's sure to get some rave reviews!


Alice in Wonderland audiobook record with a suprise inside
scored it for: $1.00

This was a really fun one.  You don't see many books on record, especially classics, like Alice in Wonderland, so I knew it was coming home with me.  But it was more exciting than just teh prospect on listening to the Mad Hatter ramble on vinyl- it had a treasure inside!


When the nights start to chill and the leaves are turning, I've got pumpkin, pumpkin, pumpkin on the brain.  I can't get enough spiced and pumpkinned foods at that time of year and I'm always looking for new recipes with pumpkin.  I made this one up as a Fall hybrid of my Christmastime favorite: Orange Cinnamon Pinwheels.  I know it's a little early for Fall, but I wanted to get a few recipes ready to go for when those leaves start to fall.

Make up a batch of these and keep the dough in the freezer.  Then, whenever you get a hankering for something buttery and flaky and spiced, slice a few off and bake them up to golden perfection.  Enjoy!


If you're ever in the mood for a light, easy summer side dish, this one is a great go-to.  It's simple and refreshing with it's sweet and tangy vinaigrette and cool cucumbers.  This recipe is easy as pie, but a whole lot more healthy.  This is also really delicious on tacos!

I don't know about you, but summer always has me dreaming of delicious, smoky, spicy, sticky barbeque.  Back in my college days, I had the happy fortune to eat at Arthur Bryant's in Kansas City (which coincided with an MGMT concert- oh, happy times).  I've often thought back to the mountain of smoky burnt ends that I ate there and sighed happily.  Eventually my heart will win out and I'll make it back there, but until then, I'll have to settle for homemade barbeque.

I sort of invented this recipe this weekend, but it was a huge hit.  Unless, of course, all of my friends are awful liars and secretly fed ten pounds of pork roast to the dog, but I really don't think that's the case.

If this is your first rodeo, erm, barbeque, don't be scared!  It's really not all that complicated to smoke things.  You just need three things: a thermometer, a grill, and a bit of patience.  Oh, and meat.


The sticky toffee exterior of this easy dessert hides a moist and bitterwseet Guinness quickbread interior.  It's so perfectly gooey and sweet, balanced by the creamy Guinness flavor- good luck eating just one piece.  I think it's best fresh out of the oven, steaming hot with the toffee still melting down the sides, but you can have it chilled as well.  Imagine a thick slice of this with a dollop of fresh whipped cream or vanilla bean ice cream in the center!  Oh, heavens.

The great part is that this also makes really great gifts as a dry mix.  It's spicy scent and rich caramel goodness also makes it a great dessert for Fall and Winter holidays.

*Note: you probably want to make two. Or three.


I was skeptical at first, but I've been completely convinced to give up my myriad of nasty chemical cleaners in place of one cheap and natural one: vinegar.  I used to buy the all-purpose bleach cleaner, windex, tile cleaner, floor cleaner, etc. Now, I just buy a large jug of white vinegar for around $2.00 and keep some essential oils on hand to make this all-in-one cleaner that's easy and works just as well as all of those nasty chemical ones did.  You can use it on glass, mirrors, sinks, toilets, showers- you name it!  Instead of lugging around a bunch of cleaners, you just have to grab one bottle (and it takes about half the time).

It's even anti-bacterial.  Although it's not as effective at killing germs as bleach is, I figure that unless you live with someone who has a compromised immune system or you smear raw meat over every surface in your house, vinegar is effective enough in killing everyday bacteria.  I've found that it's very effective in getting rid of odor-causing bacteria in everything from bathrooms to piles of althetic gear, which is usually my main concern anyhow.


I used to buy Comet and Bon Ami for scrubbing sinks, toilets, and showers, but now I just make my own with some really cheap, really natural ingredients.  Sure, you can't eat this stuff, but at least it isn't chock full of wierd dyes and chemicals that I can't pronounce.

It's extra-easy and pretty, too when you put it into an inexpensive sugar dispenser for easy sprinkling.  You could also just poke some holes in a mason jar lid and keep it in there.

Here is the link to the blog post with the labels for the no-scratch scrub and also the all-purpose cleaner.


This may sound like a strange flavor combination, but rest assured, it's a keeper.  The zuchinni is slightly earthy and the pep and spice of the Jalapenos combines perfectly with the sweetness and tang that the brine give to it all.  You'll find yourself slathering this stuff on everything you possibly can (it's just as addicting as Spicy Sweet Chili sauce, but more versatile).

You can also skip the canning process and just keep the fresh relish in the fridge.  It should keep for about two weeks.