Vintage Finds #4

Good morning (or afternoon or evening, depending upon when you arrive at my little blog)! Here are a few more finds from the treasure trove that is my in-laws’s house. Hopefully this will get you to the weekend with a nostalgic smile on your face.

The FIL was an avid model car collector. There are too many to mention, but all of them are 1950s and earlier car types. Nothing newer I don’t think. We need to find a buyer for them. There are more than what’s in this display case, too. Sidenote: This case used to belong in our old computer store. It had a twin but I’m not sure what happened to it after we closed up. The dad had to chop it down a bit because it was too tall for his lowered ceiling in the basement. Still a nice custom made cabinet as it is. It also needs a home. Anyone interested?

When I went through the basement pantry and the upstairs kitchen pantry, I found a lot of old baking materials like this classic but short-lived Raspberry cake mix. Given my memory of this from my childhood, the older packaging design, and given it came out when everyone became aware of cholesterol in baked goods, I will venture to guess this box is about 30 years old. Easily. I threw all of them away but not before taking a few pictures for posterity.

At some point about 30 years ago (or more), there used to be a Mother’s restaurant in town, and my MIL worked there. She used to go in early to do food prep and make the condiments. And for a time, she used to make bear dolls with tiny brown Mother’s waitress uniforms with gingham aprons on them, complete with a tiny pencil and pad stuffed into the shirt pocket. I’m sure there are pictures of these dolls in one of her millions of photo albums. When I have time to locate it, I will post a picture of those bears. I promise. 🙂 But for now, this is an old take-out menu Joe found stuffed into the microwave cart drawer. It looks like she grabbed it from the restaurant yesterday. Mint condition.

This was also found in the microwave cart drawer along with the Mother’s take-out menu. It’s a little softer around the edges, but still a nice bit of history. This booklet was distributed to give great facts about the how the CN Tower came to be, how big it is, and what purposes it serves. Very interesting. I love going up to the observation deck and walking on the see-through glass floor panels.

My family used to play this game when we were all in our late teens – early 20s. We used our own money (pennies, nickels and dimes mostly) but Joe’s family used old poker chips for their pot. This is a classic early edition of the game. You can tell by the package design and the Towers price sticker on the top corner. I have a lot of good memories looking at this box.

Who remembers how sad they felt when Towers collapsed in the mid-1990s? There was one across the parking lot from Algonquin College that I used to go to on my lunch breaks to pick up junk food, paper supplies and clothes when the mood struck me. Our families both shopped a lot at Towers while we were growing up. It was a staple department store for us.

More Vintage Finds #3

Are you ready for a few more? Here we go.

The FIL loved to collect. There wasn’t much he didn’t see value of some sort in, so when this craze from the late 1970s – early 1980s hit, he was all over it. This is a vest he’d wear proudly to point out certain buttons to me on occasion. He loved anything Canadiana, so there is a lot of that in his button collection. A LOT. Hey, he was very proud of his adopted country.

This vintage pinball machine was picked out by my husband and paid for by his father. Aside from a few parts that are worn and need replacing, this baby still works. Joe and his brother had lots of fun with game this as kids. (Excuse the mess. When we hauled the leather couch and chair up and out to the curb, we ended up throwing and piling stuff everywhere to make a big enough path. The couch was really long, and the passage way is tiny and angled.)

A fully functioning mini camera, complete with its tiny leather custom sewn case. Clear as day I remember these from my childhood. Someone in our neighbourhood owned one, and I fell in love with it way back then. Too bad you can’t get film for it anymore. It would be a great collector’s piece.

Hands up if you remember this type of tin cap. I do! My mother was always asking me to get the top off for her since she didn’t have long enough nails. Wow. It instantly brings me back to our old kitchen, standing beside her while she impatiently said, “Hurry up,” while she tried to make dinner for her small army of children.

There are two of these vintage deviled egg trays with snap-on lids in my MIL’s kitchen. The second one is all white while this one is yolk yellow. Ahh, deviled eggs. The staple of every home party since… forever? Probably. Well, certainly every birthday, anniversary, engagement, bridal, baby, candle, make-up, family reunion, etc party I was invited to. 🙂

To this day, when I drink root beer, I think of A&W. I kid you not. I found this collector’s glass beside its twin in the back reaches of a cupboard. This would have been, much like today when you buy a root beer at an A&W restaurant, a souvenir glass customers bought with the drink to take home. And it was always served frosty cold. Always. Even today.

In all my years of baking, using candy products to make desserts, I have never seen this brand of sprinkles. It has to pre-date even me, and I’m almost 49. Can you imagine this being in the back of your cupboard for that long?!? I can’t. I rotate everything on the regular. This wouldn’t last two years in my house. I would force myself to use it all up, or give it away. But again, another lovely jar in a delightful label. I love it. Just look at the font in that label. That screams 1950 – 1960s to me.

A Few Vintage Finds #2

Another day, another small batch of vintage finds from the in-laws’ house as we clean it out in preparation to list the house early next year. Enjoy.

Nothing like some cookies with a side of guilt, no? This lovely cookie jar could be yours if you and Joe agree on a price he likes. 🙂 (See the video down below.)

This is from back in the day (say, the late 1980s) when my MIL worked at Burger King, and they brought in their own branded condiments. I have a few of these jars at home sans label that I now use as hurricane lights. This glass jar is heavy. It won’t be knocked over by a gust of wind anytime soon.

Ragged Ann & Andy Pattern

Another Ragged Ann & Andy pattern my MIL has in her collection.

Back in the day, the FIL grew his own grapes on top of the car port trellis to make wine at home. He did this for awhile, but eventually he got tired of doing battle royale with the local trash pandas and broke it all down. Hey look at that econo size Bailey’s! That belongs to the SIL. Barely touched. And I found another one just like it in the pantry. Guess she forgot she already owned one in this cold storage cellar when she bought the second?

Ahh, nothing quite screams the 1970s like miniature DIY oil paintings. They were all the rage. We even did them in our house. My mother did up an Elvis one if I remember correctly. We hung it in our hallway for a few years before it disappeared. So tacky, yet so iconic.

A Few Vintage Finds #1

The backstory: My FIL died a few years ago, and year after that my MIL needed to be moved from the house into a retirement community so she could have constant medical care for her diabetes. In the time between her move and this past summer, my SIL was living in the house. Eventually she too had to be moved out into different retirement home because she needed constant medical care for her lung cancer.

The house now stands empty of any occupant, so we’ve been taking time here and there to pack up possessions, to throw out the old food, and to clean up as we go along. It’s a loooooooooooong process when you only have a few hours each week, but we have to do it. I decided early on in the process that a lot of the vintage things we’ve found would be of nostalgic interest to a lot of people we know, so I have been taking some pictures.

Would you like to see some? Okay, here we go…

Woolcrest brand sandwich bags that, we guess, are from the early 1980s. Found in the kitchen pantry closet. Only a few used. Note how the price is printed on the box. Companies only printed prices on when there wasn’t enough store competition to make prices changes up or down. Ahh. Remember those days?

For as long as I can remember while living on my own, food colouring came in plastic bottles that were shaped slightly less elegantly. But, I’m almost 49, and I remember these tall glass beauties from my mother’s baking cupboard clear as day. What a trip!

Although I don’t play the lottery anymore (long story), I do remember this being the wild craze every Ontarian chased. This would help the indecisive who didn’t have a numbering scheme to follow each week like family birthdays, or a SIN, (For real, people even today play their SINs.) This was also for those who loved random plays, who couldn’t deal with using the same numbers week after week. Now the lotto terminals generate the random plays for you. You don’t even have to pencil in the six numbers on a sheet like you’re taking a standardize test at school.

Those of you in the audience who know and worked with my MIL will remember her homemade Raggedy Ann & Andy dolls she lovingly made and embroidered with a heart over each chest. This is her very vintage pattern, still neatly folded up and tucked back into its envelope. There are a few boxes of patterns, but these few blew me away. I had a Raggedy Ann doll Santa brought to me one year. Every dog we had enjoyed ripping her limbs off like a total turd.

A few of you love the Royal Family. So does my MIL and SIL. This is a, I think, 75th birthday plate for the late Queen Mum. It’s beautiful, but it’s lonely now. I needs a new home. I’m not sure if anyone in the family wants it. Hit me up if you’re interested. Joe will probably want a few pennies for it if it’s to be sold, but you two can work that out.

These are the vintage aprons my MIL used to make everyone as gifts, or if you simply mentioned you needed an apron when she was able to sew. I love the idea of aprons, but I hate wearing them in a hot kitchen. It’s just one too many layers for my liking. Pam, is this the kind of apron you were going to ask me to make you?

We found these in the kitchen cupboard crammed into the far reaches, along with a lot of other VERY expired food that I ditched. I liked the packaging on these. I was curious as to when they came out, but couldn’t even guess. I didn’t have to wait too long after opening the box to find out. (See the following picture.)

This is a coupon for some microwave pudding thing that was printed on the back of the pudding box in the picture above. Check out the expiration date of the coupon. This clearly predates the standard best before dates on food packaging today, so that explains why I couldn’t venture a quick guess as to how long it had been in the house. And that’s not even the oldest food thing I found! LOL

There you go. A small trip down memory lane for the day. Hope you enjoyed it. There is a lot more of these pictures on my phone, but I would be here all day at this if I kept going. Tomorrow is another day, as they say. More then.

Coffee Chatter – Sunday Edition

Happy-Mothers-Day-Graphic-Design-4While I wait patiently for my mother’s phone line to free up so I can wish her a happy Mothers Day, I have been trolling around on Pinterest, pulling weeds out of the garden (it’s raining right now so I’m on a coffee rest break), and checking up on some online friends.

I’m not sure about your lawns but ours seems to be over run with dandelions this year. Last year was bad enough, but this year they’re back with a vengeance. I blame the local township banning all kinds of chemical weed killing products.

badweedsMy hips and lower back hate weeds more than I do. They will only allow me to bend down while pulling for a half hour at a time before they seize up on me. I have been thinking a lot about one of those pole devices that leave holes in the grass big enough for gophers to pop up out of. My body’s not getting any younger, and my next door neighbour lent me hers last year for a quick trial. My pride wasn’t quite to the place it is this year back then, so I passed on picking one up at Crappy Tire. But this year… I might just break down (before my back does). 😀

nappingGuess what? I guess I got too much sun weed pulling that I fell asleep on the couch halfway through this post. LOL I woke up and a few hours of my life disappeared. And it’s about to rain again. It started raining when I fell asleep, so perhaps I should just stick a fork in this day and put my PJs on now.

And no, I still haven’t gotten a hold of my mother. I have no idea what’s going on over there, but she did birth seven of us, and she is legally blind, so my best guess is she didn’t hang up the phone properly after one of the others called her to also wish her a happy Mothers Day. I will have to try her again tomorrow after work. *sigh*

hotcoffeePS: When I fell asleep, my freshly brewed cup of coffee was HOT. When I woke up it was cold. That’s quite the feat given how hot it is outside and in the house today. How long was I out cold, anyway!? Jee-bus! Oh, well. It’s nothing a few ice cubes couldn’t sort out. 😉

[ All images found on google.ca ]

How things are going in my little world

Since taking on a different role at my job earlier this year, all of my free time has almost evaporated. I apologize to the three of you (?) left who may still be reading this page, or keeping an eye out for new posts.

I haven’t really had time to work on new recipes since Christmas, and I’m disappointed about that. I really like playing in my kitchen, but since I work a lot of overtime hours now, and I’m tired all of the damn time when I finally get home each day, I’m having a hard time forcing myself to stand at the stove for more than ten minutes at a go.

I’m hoping I can carve out a new routine very soon. I will let you all know when, or if, that ever happens. 🙂

Christmas 2014 Tear Down

2015-01-01 12.36.37 An old tv production term still used to this day is “the tear down.” It refers to the tearing down of the set, lighting, cameras and furniture (desks, chairs, etc.) when a show has finished being shot or aired live. I haven’t worked in tv in a very long time, but that doesn’t stop me from saying, “Well, I guess it’s time to tear Christmas down around here,” in our home every year. Today I tore Christmas 2014 down.
2015-01-01 12.37.00 [ sigh ] Well, that’s another holiday season in the can, kids. Hope yours was all you wanted it to be.

Happy 2015, everyone!

Happy New Year 2015!

Happy New Year 2015!

Happy 2015! Hope you were all able to stay up and see the new year being rung in. If you weren’t, don’t feel bad. My husband had a long nap in the afternoon, and he still turned in early. 🙂

But, beforehand I was able to share this dinner with him. It’s homemade cabbage rolls with bacon on top, sauteed cabbage with kielbasa and onions, and served with rustic red potato mash.

New Year's cabbage rolls, sauteed cabbage with kielbasa and onions, and served with rustic red potato mash

New Year’s cabbage rolls, sauteed cabbage with kielbasa and onions, and served with rustic red potato mash.

It was all tasty, and we washed it down with this great non-alcoholic sparkling wine drink I found at the grocery store. I really like it. I’m not a fan of booze, or champagne, but I like the taste of this drink. A lot. We finished the bottle as I did the dinner dishes.

2014-12-31 22.48.45It’s about ten minutes to the big moment, and my husband is now sitting on the couch. I guess he wanted to wait it out with me after all. Aww. He’s a total sweetheart.

I’m not one for resolutions, but if you are, I wish you the best in keeping them. Conviction is the key. Conviction and a clear goal without any other voice in your head telling you change isn’t possible. It is. Totally.

Ok, we’re down to five minutes left in 2014. Get your drinks, noise makers and lips ready, kids.

Talk to you in next year!

Auntie Stacey’s Gingerbread-Espresso Christmas Cookies

Ginger-Espresso Christmas Cookies

Ginger-Espresso Christmas Cookies

I used this gingerbread cookie recipe as the base of my cookies, and then tweaked the overall flavouring by adding 2 tbsp of fine ground coffee beans for texture. You can see the flecks the grinds create in the final baked cookie form, and you can feel the grinds as you chew them. They add a lovely mouth-feel to contrast with the chewy gingerbread base, and together I think they create a sophisticated update on the old, somewhat tired gingerbread theme.

The other change up I made to my gingerbread cookies was in shape (I chose a lovely scaled snowflake over the man figure), and in the icing colour (typically you’ll see a lot of piped white icing, and some chocolate, red and green piped icing accents) which I did in a blue icing for a smashing pop of colour against the dark cookie base.

Picture courtesy of Glorious Treat's blog - gingerbread cookies

Picture courtesy of Glorious Treat’s blog – gingerbread cookies

I mean, LOOK at how fabulous this colour combination is. I won’t lie, Glory’s iced cookie version utterly seduced me. When I saw that, no other colour compared!

Gingerbread-Espresso Christmas Cookies:
1/2 C Unsalted Butter, room temp
3/4 C Brown Sugar
1 Large Egg, room temp
1/3 C Fancy Molasses
2 /2 C All Purpose Flour (unbleached is fine)
2 tea Ground Ginger
1 1/2 tea Ground Cinnamon
1/2 tea Salt
1/2 tea Baking Soda
1 tbsp Instant Espresso Powder
1 1/2 tbsp Coffee Grinds, Fine (not used – yuck!)

In your mixer, blend the butter and sugar together till it’s pale in colour and fluffy in texture (about 5 mins).

In a medium size mixing bowl, add the flour, ginger, cinnamon, salt, and baking soda. Whisk well to combine all of these ingredients. Set near the running mixer.

On the mixer’s slowest speed, add the egg and the molasses. Blend that in a bit before adding in your dry ingredient mixture slowly one cup at a time. When the dry ingredients have been incorporated into the dough finally, add the espresso powder and coffee grinds. Quickly run the mixer enough to blend them through out the dough batch before turning the dough out of the bowl to portion it out into four balls for chilling.

I used a pair of thick chopsticks that are about 3/8″ in diameter to flank each ball of dough between two sheets of wax paper as I rolled it out flat into a circle or square. I then placed all four flattened out dough balls on a tray and let them rest in my refrigerator or about 1 hour before cutting them up into shapes.

After an hour, I pre-heated my oven to 350 degrees (I have a convection oven so I have to set mine at 375 because the oven drops the temperature down by 25 degrees automatically), and poured a bit of flour into a bowl to dip my cookie cutter into between cuts.

I made as many snowflake cookies as I could fit on my baking pans with at least 1″ around each cookie and when the oven was ready, I baked two pans at one go on the middle rack for 8 minutes. I continued cutting out more snowflakes to line my next two pans as the first batch baked up and cooled down. I continued to repeat this until all four balls of dough were baked up into cookies.

I left the cookies to cool completely for about two hours and then started my decorating process. You can use whatever icing you like, but I happen to have been pressed for time so I cheated by melting some baking chocolate waffers in a small Ziplock baggy in my microwave (about three 30 second times for a handful of waffers). As the chocolate started to harden while decorating the cookies, I would melt it some more in the microwave at 15 second intervals.

NOTE: This is a great cookie dough to make up to one month before you need to bake it, so for Christmas I would say mix it up in the last week of November or the first week of December, wrap it as a disk in plastic wrap and then tin foil, and throw it in the freezer to speed everything up as you get into your baking groove. It shouldn’t take more than 15 minutes sitting on the counter for the dough to come up to temperature so you can work with it.