A Little Corner Of My Home

I had some time the other evening and started cleaning out a section of the kitchen island...I love the kitchen island! So multi-functional and one of the best things we purchased for the house after we moved in. We have a small kitchen used as an eat-in kitchen by the previous owners (we have been here for 10 years) and we knew since we had a dining room, that another table wasn't necessary. But having more storage and counter tops was! So we found our little island beauty, didn't talk ourselves into down-grading and voila! It is one of the best parts of our kitchen.

There are 2 sides with shelving, a cupboard area and an open area that has shelves for pans and even wine. And a side that has a leaf that comes up and we can use to sit up to it and snack, but is down when not in use.

The other night I was cleaning out one of the side areas with shelving.
It is SHOCKING how much stuff fits in here!

First I took everything out so I could clean and dust:

Did you know I had a huge Gooseberry Patch cookbook collection? I have let quite a few go, but still like to collect the Christmas cookbooks that they publish...so warm and fuzzy to read. I loved when the catalogs came as little soft booklets, almost. I loved it so much, I saved them!

I have 3 shelves on this side that I get to work with:

The top shelf is where we keep tea's, kool-aid mix, the tiny old Gooseberry patch catalogs, that really cool old quarter bank (save $50!) and the other glass jars that make me happy. They remind me of little penny candy jars.

The middle shelf is filled with the above mentioned Gooseberry Patch cookbooks and my Mom's old metal recipe card holder...

And the bottom shelf has more cookbooklets, an old ice crusher, candy jars, a thermos, a silver ice bucket and a little pottery container Lu made when she was 6 that is filled with little treasures...

This little metal stand didn't fit back in very well and I was trying to figure out what to do with it...

...Until I turned around and saw the stove top!

And when everything is all dusted off and cleaned up, this is what it looks like:

I'll have to show you some other areas of the island as I continue my little cleaning quest!

I am going to be away from Dime Store Thrift for just a little while getting the kids ready for back-to-school and doing some end of summer stuff. I promise to high-tail it back to blogging ASAP.

Take care of yourself!


Dime Store Thrift Business Cards

So. A while back I decided I needed business cards.

Nothing huge, just something I could keep in my purse if anything came up that I needed a card to identify myself with. Like if I am in a store and want to take pictures...I usually tell them my name, I have a thrifting blog, LOVE the store, may I take a few photo's while I am handing over my teeny tiny card.

Makes me seem more professional. HAhahahahaha...I know!

This is what I have been handing out, left and right these days:

Made by yours truly, on the home computer with card stock. Rawther cool, yes?

Stan Williams Famous Upside-Down Pineapple Cake Recipe!

From Stan:

First thing's first...My pineapple upside down cake has several versions, but I will try to make it as consistent as possible.

The constants:


If you have a pineapple form pan, use how ever many slices fit in the spots. If you're using a spring-form pan, then make a pleasing circle with however many you see fit. One can will do. I prefer "no-sugar-added" in "natural juice." And if you see it, buy Liberty Gold. It's the least expensive, and they sponsor my cakes.


Maraschino cherries in the jar are traditional. In the summertime, I like to use those gorgeous bing cherries because they have a deeper color and have a delicious flavor.

The simple caramel

I use this topping on both the scratch version and the boxed version.

Melt one stick of butter in a saucepan. Once melted, turn off heat. take one packed cup of dark brown sugar (or light brown, if you prefer) and mix it into the butter until it is almost creamy. Then, turn the heat back on at medium heat and stir, stir, stir until it starts to bubble. You'll start to see light foamy bubbles. At that point it's ready to pour over your fruit, which is assembled in the pan.

The cake batter:

(if using boxed...)

Set oven to 350. Rubber butter in the bottom of a 9-inch spring-form pan at least 2 inches tall or molded pineapple upside down cake pan to make sure it doesn't stick. Place pineapple in the pan, with cherries of your choice inside each ring.

I like to use a yellow cake mix. If the directions on the box call for water, substitute half of it with pineapple juice from the canned pineapple. Follow the directions. Once the batter is mixed, make the caramel with the instructions above. Pour hot "caramel" over the fruit and then add your cake batter. This usually needs to bake about one hour and five minutes since it is thicker. I can tell when the cake is done if it is brown and when I place my hand over the center, and it doesn't jiggle.

Once baked, let sit for five minutes. You want to place it upside down on a (garage-sale, Goodwill, thrift-shop) platter while it is still warm so that it doesn't stick in the pan. Then carefully lift the pan with two forks off of the cake. USUALLY it comes out quite easily, but if it doesn't, carefully slide a slender knife down the sides to release it.

(if making from scratch...)

I use the Magnolia Bakery recipe for Traditional Vanilla Birthday Cake. I love this recipe.

Set oven to 350. Rubber butter in the bottom of a 9-inch spring-form pan at least 2 inches tall or molded pineapple upside down cake pan to make sure it doesn't stick. Place pineapple in the pan, with cherries of your choice inside each ring.

CAKE RECIPE: 1c unsalted butter, softened; 2 c sugar; 4 large eggs, room temperature; 11/2 c self-rising flour; 1 1/4 c. all-purpose flour; 1 c. milk; 1 t vanilla.

Cream butter until smooth, and then add sugar gradually until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each one. Combine the flours and add in four parts, alternating with the milk and the vanilla extract.

Once the batter is mixed, make the caramel with the instructions above. Pour hot "caramel" over the fruit and then add your cake batter. The instructions on the Magnolia recipe say 20 to 22 minutes, but it's closer to an hour. I always check at 45. I can tell when the cake is done if it is brown and when I place my hand over the center, and it doesn't jiggle.

Once baked, let sit for five minutes. You want to place it upside down on a (garage-sale, Goodwill, thrift-shop) platter while it is still warm so that it doesn't stick in the pan. Then carefully lift the pan with two forks off of the cake. USUALLY it comes out quite easily, but if it doesn't, carefully slide a slender knife down the sides to release it.

I hope either option works for you. I like it when it's still warm. I made another this weekend, and it was gobbled up within 12 hours. (Dinner, breakfast and then lunch!)

You can find Stan at The Elegant Thrifter...he is remarkable and I am truly lucky to have him as a Blog Buddy.


Stan Williams, Author of The Find

As you know I am a huge, HUGE fan of The Find by Stan Williams, also known as The Elegant Thrifter. Even though I pester him like he is my big brother, he was gracious enough to let me ask him a few questions. Read On to find out more about this fabulous guy!

I loved reading about your rummaging adventures when you were a kid back in Independence, Missouri...It was so visual! Do you think these excursions made you the thrifter you are today? I know they did. You know, we didn't have a ton of money when I was a kid, and we were always looking for ways to stretch a dollar. But more than that, it was fun. I always loved trying to see what I could get for a few cents, and watching my Grandma Churchill get excited when she won the bid on a box of dishes and bric-a-brac at an estate auction. And when I say estate auction, I'm not talking fancy antiques. I'm talking about a down-and-dirty, old country house loaded with everything for sale -- from pantyhose to garden hose! Mostly, she bought dishes since she owned a small dairy farm in Mansfield, Mo., and had to feed a ton of people all the time. I've told the story before, but I remember a white china plate with 24 karat gold trim that my sister and I fought over to see who would eat off of the treasured piece. That's probably why I love old dishes and plates so much. The garage sales for us were truly a family outing, especially when the extended family came into town. We were allowed a few coins and could buy whatever we wanted. Mostly we bought games and puzzles. And since my mom's younger sisters were always looking for kids' clothes, it was a jackpot. It's funny. I just thought it was something that everybody did.

Are your other family members still avid thrifters? Hmmmm. I think my sister Cheryl comes the closest. She loves meeting people, like I do, and learning their stories. My sister has always been a thrifty person -- always looking for the best deal and skilled at maintaining a budget. She has a young child and not much time to hit the garage sales, but when we are together, we power garage sale by seeing how many we can hit in an hour or two. After seeing the retro-fabulous Charles Phoenix do his vintage slide show last year in Kansas City, she was even more inspired recently when she found at a garage sale a treasure trove of old slides from the 1950s going all the way to the early '90s that we're going to plow through when I can find time to get home.

What are you collecting right now? I always pick up a pretty platter. I use them to offer my pineapple upside-down cake upon for a unique hostess gift. In general, I will always pick up a plate or a dish if the price is right. One of the things I love to do is have a few on hand so that when I'm invited to a dinner or an event, I can leave the plate behind with the host. I always pick up unused postcards from places I've been and use them. I especially love old Paris, Kansas City and New York postcards, since those are my favorite places. I also like old motel postcards. I can never resist French ephemera -- maps, books, posters or letters. I also always pick up a nice vintage bag that can be hooched up for a special occasion. I've lagged in my Hooch Bag creations as of late with the book launch and all, but I probably have 100 or so vintage bags -- no designers-- of all types. And then, anything that has to do with Dolly Parton, as I'm a huge fan! On my desk is the concert portfolio from her 1977 tour, which my friend Senor Amor of Jonamor Decor gave me. I went to that concert, but couldn't afford the deluxe program at the time. Oh...and funny, old cookbooks with faded, Technicolor images of weird ham aspics, drizzled bundt cakes and crazy hors d'oeuvre. I love the midcentury attempt at food styling!

How do you teach people who "Ewwww" thrifting? I show them my book. I give them a unique gift. I drag them to a thrift shop or make them pull over to the side of the road to look at a garage sale. I don't really try to convince people to change their minds, but when they get a gift from me you can be almost 100 percent assured that it or many of its components came from a thrifty venture. And more likely than not, they can't believe it. The most common reaction people have is not of the Ewwww kind, but the I-don't-know-how-to-do-this variety. I think people are afraid of making a mistake or buying the wrong thing. I always say that if you only buy things you truly love, then you can't go wrong. And at the prices these treasures go for, then if you decide you don't like what you bought, then give it away or donate it to a charity thrift.

How often do you go thrifting? All the time. I always walk by Goodwill, Housing Works and The Cure Thrift Shop in New York. I just discovered a fabulous shop called Upper Rust near me, and it's gorgeous. I will be posting about it as soon as I take the photos. Of late, I've been lucky to run into several stoop sales, which are becoming even more popular here because of the economy. I sometimes kidnap a pal who lives in Queens who has a car and we hit the thrift shops in Connecticut, Long Island and Upstate New York. And when I travel, I thrift every day, from garage sales to junk shops.

Are you a clutterbug or simplifier? Is it difficult to part with treasures? I'd like to say I'm in between. I sort of call the style of my home Grandma Chic. And I LOVE giving my treasures away to special people.

Living in Iowa, it is hard to imagine "Street Finds". You came from Missouri, was it just as surreal to see furniture on the street that people left behind? Yes. When I first moved here, I had a friend who decorated his entire apartment with fancy finds they discovered on trash day on the Upper East Side., I was mostly disappointed because I never had the space to take most of the furniture I found. Now, it's a little better.

Favorite Find? It's a costume jewelry encrusted Christmas tree that I found at a flea market in Santa Monica. I paid a little more for it than I'm used to, but Ruth Handel, my favorite thrift companion, said, "buy it" when we discovered it...and she's such a pro that she NEVER tells me to buy anything. It is on red felt backing, is framed in gold and had working twinkling lights when I bought it.They broke in shipping, but I replaced them this year. I keep it up year round.

What would be your dream find? Ha! A box of 1,000 postcards from the decorative arts museum in Paris from the 1940s! That is a hard one, because I don't ever dream of finding anything. I truly believe that I will find what I'm looking for. I'm never overly specific, but if I know I am looking for a gift or a bag to hooch, I will always find it. I love the element of surprise. Also, I try not to be greedy. I think that thrift karma pays you back when you leave goodies for others to discover. I need to work on that!

How long was the writing process of The Find? It seemed like an eternity, but it really wasn't and I'm looking forward to doing it again. I got the idea in 2005 and approached an agent. I was the editorial fashion director of Maxim at the time, and worked on the proposal on and off over the next couple of years. I knew I wanted Clarkson Potter to publish the book since they are tops in mass market decorating books. They publish people like Martha Stewart, Rachel Ray and Celerie Kemble. They had heard about the book and had expressed interest, so I submitted my final proposal to them in February 2007 and they bought it. But the manuscript (50,000 word!) and photos (500 original images!) were due in November 2007. So I did something I never dreamed I would ever do. I quit my job in May 2007 to concentrate fully on THE FIND: THE HOUSING WORKS BOOK OF DECORATING WITH THRIFT SHOP TREASURES, FLEA MARKET OBJECTS, AND VINTAGE DETAILS, and I met my deadline. Then there was the editing and design process, which was pretty much completed by November 2008, and finally in May, it hit bookshelves. I definitely don't have the income I once did, but I'm hanging in there. Anybody want to hire me?!?!

Do you get writers block? How do you break it? I force myself to write. The blog has been really good practice for me. You know, I was in a job where I was not doing the things I absolutely loved, and writing was one of the elements missing from my life. I really enjoyed working in the fashion world, but felt a void creatively because it seemed like all I did was put clothes on models and famous people. And when I expressed the desire to write, I was told that I wasn't a writer, but a stylist. I had been a writer before I took the Maxim job in 1998, but it's so easy to get pigeon holed by employers. So I made the break. Every time I feel blocked, I say to myself, "This is what you quit your job to do!"

What does it feel like to see your book in print and on store shelves? Incredible. But even more gratifying is the feedback I get from people who have been touched by my labor of love. Really!

Where do you find your inspiration? I find it in the thrifting process -- and I don't just mean acquisition. Just today I posted a picture of a bunch of ukuleles and guitars that reminded me of my friend Ruth. Even if I'm not buying, I'm talking to people, asking questions, hearing their stories and getting all kinds of ideas. I'm inspired by all the comments people leave on my blog, especially on days when everything seems to go wrong. I'm inspired when people tell me that because of something I wrote they tried something new .... or when they hear my story and say, "Dang it, I'm going to pursue my dreams!" I'm not a machine like Martha, so all the gifts and opportunities that come from THE FIND, I have truly honed myself. As hokey as it sounds, I'm also very much inspired by Dolly Parton. I've been a fan since I was a child. I guess she seemed like a fairy princess who grew up in a true rags to riches story. She never says a mean thing about anyone, never complains, is always grateful for everything, is generous and has made a good living from pursuing her dream job.

Describe a perfect day-- I think I told my pal The Vintage Laundress something like this before, but it would start with a fabulous pilates class followed by a skip by one of my favorite thrift stores, and then a light lunch at an outdoor cafe. I would then go home and leisurely pack my bags and take a limo to Newark where I would board an Air France flight to Paris (first class, of course), sip a coupe of champagne, and then drift off to sleep and awake at Charles de Gaulle. I actually get shivers when I write this!

If you could live anywhere, where would you go? Paris

What keeps you from going? That's a conversation for the therapist's couch! (I'm not in therapy, but maybe I should be!) I've made so many changes in my life over the past few years, and I'm getting much better at practicing what I preach in following dreams.

You are a New Yorker...is square footage a problem for you? Duh....I envy all the folks in blog land who have work studios, sewing rooms, walk-in closets and outdoor space. I know...I know...silly question!

Describe your perfect home--City or Country? Apartment? Ranch? Tudor? I have two ideas: an old 1800s apartment in Paris with buckling floors, floor-to-ceiling windows that open out onto the street OR a glass house in the middle of the country.

And finally: Can we get the recipe for your famous Pineapple Upside Down Cake? I sent it earlier. I hope it works out for you!



Thank You Stan!

See what I mean?! Isn't he marvelous?

You can find Stan at The Elegant Thrifter blog and be sure to look for his excellent book The Find...you will not be disappointed. And the recipe will be posted next!

And in a little side note...It was humid the day I had my photo taken with the wonderful Sharleen of Luticia Clementine's that Stan downloaded onto his blog. My hair does not normally look like that! Ack!

If You Are Wanting To Buy Me A Gift...

Owl Oil Lamps. Need I say more?? I seriously love Etsy.


And I Call Myself A Gardener...

Ok...Um...not sure how to bring this up other than just leaping right into it.

Do sweet red peppers start out as green and then change to red or have I been bamboozled and bought a green pepper that was ready a few weeks ago but I am refusing to pick?

Christmas Puttering

Lucky for us (using my sarcasm font) our water heater started leaking the day before we were to go on vacation! And we had to have a plumber AND an electrician come visit because we knew that when we were ready to purchase another water heater, we needed it installed in the laundry room instead of the furnace room! How exciting! Spending all that money! Unexpectedly! Hurray! And right before vacation!

In reality, I am so very, very grateful that it didn't start leaking while we were gone...we truly were lucky to have been home to deal with the cleanup.

One of the best parts about all this cleaning that I've (we've) been doing, is that it sort of kicks the decluttering into high gear as well. I don't want to stick just anything back into my pristine areas!

And it opened up some space to get some clutter at least organized. I have a few different areas in the furnace/storage room. You won't be seeing pictures of this area so I am just going to need you to use your imagination...

I have some Rubbermaids in one area that is simply set aside for Children's Closet. Then there is an area for Christmas items that go to the Booth, an area for Autumn and Halloween decor that will go to the Booth and finally an area that is just for regular decor that will go to the Booth. As any thrifter knows, finding areas to store things can be a problem.

So while I was grouping together some Christmas-y items, I found 2 boxes of things labeled Christmas Treasures. And they were! Different pieces of holiday goodies that I oohed and ahhed over and then set up on the desk like I was a young child playing with treasured toys. I love me some Christmas treasures!


To Independence, Missouri We Go...

We are coming off a little vacation down in Kansas City...we did the Worlds Of Fun thing with the kids, spent an afternoon at Adventure Oasis splashing around and made some time for shopping. Of Course!

One of my intense desires was to spend time at this shop in Independence, Missouri...Luticia Clementines!This was our destination on Friday morning. And I cannot speak highly enough of Sharleen, the owner, who made us feel so welcome in her shop!
I heard of her through Stan Williams, author of The Find and was so very excited to get to meet her in person! She was so open, giving, gracious and beyond creative. It was a highlight to get to walk through her store and get a glimpse at her art room! I could have walked around and around that beautiful store and found so many things I wanted to bring home. I found a Christmas gift for Sister 2 that is going to be perfect for her! And of course I had to do a wee bit of shopping for myself...I picked up this teacup and plate:
I saw it and could immediately picture a hot cup of tea with a couple goodies (for me) or a cup of cocoa and some cookies for each of the kids when they get home from school on some cold, snowy afternoon.

Take a little look around...

If you get the chance to go to this store, GO TO THIS STORE! And tell Sharleen Hi and give her a big hug for me.

This store was right down the street from Luticia Clementines and it felt like we were walking into a beautiful kitchen catalog brought to life:

In downtown Independence, right down the street from the old jail, there is a store called Serendipity...
If I were to have a store, this might just be it. Cluttered and FABULOUS! Every single inch was filled with things that made me tingle. Lu walked into the store and said "Did you find anything?" "Um, ALL OF IT?!" Lu, Bud and Hubby were waiting patiently outside so I just ran through and snapped some pictures. Thanks Darryl! It killed me that we didn't have time to look the way I wanted to.

Look! At! That! Green! Fairy! Glass!

And are those OIL LAMPS I see on shelving along the back wall?!

And in St Joseph, we stopped at a great store called The Rusty Chandelier and found all this to walk though before we even got inside! Drooool away...

There was a lovely woman there who owned a booth called Bella Chic and was so kind to show me around the store. Her gorgeous booth was filled with all sorts of yummy things including this antique wedding gown! All of the displays were simply breathtaking. Yet another store you simply need more time to be in.

And did I mention the food? Our favorite place to eat was called The Corner Cafe, out by our hotel...we ate there TWICE!

This was the healthiest part...some fruit!

Lu said this was the best BLT she has ever eaten. And she is knowledgable in her BLT's.

I made my way through a yummy reuben sandwich...the first night I tried the corner grill patty melt that was un-be-lieve-waitforit-ble.

And Hubby shared one of his onion rings. Oh My.

I cannot wait to go back and experience the whole trip again!