My Trip to the Goodwill Outlet – aka “The Bins”

Last Saturday I visited “The Bins” – love ’em or hate ’em, you’re going to have a memorable experience!

You definitely have to have the right frame of mind & mood to enjoy a root through the bins.  If you like a calm, relaxed, and organized atmosphere, this is not the place for you.  However, if you are a bit of an adrenaline junkie, and can spot a bargain from ten yards away, then you must get to the closest Goodwill Outlet now!

In the middle of the video, I show photos of some of the items I dragged home.  I tried to show the price tags in the photos, BUT none of the price tags applied – – the price of items is determined by the weight!  In this case, my entire thrift shop haul totaled about $16 – – which was cheaper than I would have paid for just the two house coats! The Eddie Bauer coat is like new, perfectly sized for my husband, and would have cost something in the $200 region if I had bought it in a retail store or online.

Here’s a link to find a Goodwill Outlet in the U.S. as well as some great tips and FAQs on how to make the most of your visit.  The one that I visited was in London, Ontario, Canada.  There doesn’t seem to be an easy way to locate Outlets in Canada.  Hmmm – that’s a shame!

Let me know what your best bargain has been at The Bins!

Thrift Haul Video – Episode 10

I started video taping my thrift store finds recently.  Okay – so I’m not all that great at it….yet!  I can get better.  I figured out how to embed a video into my blog post, so hey!  anything is possible!

Something you’re always going to see in my thrift hauls is cookie cutters.  I have cornered the market on cookie cutters.  I cannot pass by a cookie cutter. Fortunately for me, my compulsion is validated now that I have found that there is a society of cookie cutter collectors, and even a cookie cutter museum!  Here’s an interesting article about cookie cutters.  I’ll be checking out Pinterest to find ideas to display and enjoy my collection – currently, they are simply filling drawers.

It would be a rare thing indeed if I didn’t find and include some English transfer ware in my videos. They are beautiful little pieces of art!  I like all of the colours, but I hope to be able to find some purple pieces one day soon!  I’ve only seen photos, never one “in the wild”.  I was able to find out some more information about the bowl with the green transfer of the toby jug and pipe: it’s a pattern called “The Old Curiosity Shop” that was produced in the U.S. in the 50s.  From what I can determine, it only came in this green colour.  Check out eBay for a look at other images to be found on this china.  I like the clocks!  According to some posts I’ve read on other websites, this china was sold in individual pieces at A&P.  It makes me happy to know that these lovely and collectible pieces were so accessible to their first purchasers, which means that there are plenty out there for serious fanatics to find at thrift shops and estate sales and auctions!

In the video, I talked about the mark on the milk glass cream and sugar as being a “WC” – well, what I’ve since learned is that it is actually a “stacked WG” for the Westmoreland Glass company, and indicates pieces produced between the 1940s to 1960s.  Collecting milk glass has become really hot recently – though I’m not sure why.  Twenty years ago when the Jadite phenomenon happened, it was because of Martha Stewart – she and her daughter have HUGE collections!  I wonder if some celebrity decorator has been the spur for the increased interest?  Anyway – there’s lots of articles online about milk glass, and how to collect it, and values of it, and how to distinguish old milk glass from new milk glass.  I like that it’s still so easy to find inexpensive milk glass, and I’m always delighted to find an unusual piece.

I keep my office supplies in milk glass vessels on my desk at work.  Having something especially pretty to keep me organized helps me to feel like I really have got my stuff together!

According the website Pyrex Passion – my Butterfly Gold patterned mugs were produced in the mid 70s.  This website provides a comprehensive guide to identifying and dating Pyrex patterns.  The blog attached to this website is really interesting too! I recently sold two Pyrex bowls–pink Gooseberry ‘cinderella’ shaped bowls–and here is an article with beautiful photos of examples–to a collector who had to drive some way to cheerfully trade me $40 for two old bowls!  I offered to show her some other Pyrex that I had kicking around – but she ONLY wanted pink!




Wanna Watch Me Wash Dishes? Cleaning Thrifty Finds

Here’s the basic cleaning supplies that I use for freshening up thrifty vintage purchases.  The video posted below demonstrates how I give new life to dirty and dingy enamel ware, milk glass, and grubby bisque ornaments.

It’s well worth your time to give the icky items a good look to see if there is something beautiful under that layer of dirt.  One example from today is a vintage Pyrex mixing bowl that I picked up today for $2.50 – a wildly inexpensive price.  (I’ll show it off in my next thrift haul video!)

At the end of the video, I’m trying to decide whether to leave the enamel coffee pot “as is” or whether I should let it stand with a bleach solution in it.  Well, I’m glad I made the effort – the interior of the pot is sparkling!

2nd Pinterest – Nail or Fail? NAILED

I pinned this project nearly four years ago!

I’ve kept it in the back of my mind since that time, and this past weekend, I finally got the chance to bring my version to life.

The original project poster gave really comprehensive instructions, so in my post, I’ve spent a little time on tips to prepare the empty Lysol wipes container.  Getting a perfect surface takes a bit of attention.


Besides the empty container, the only other equipment required is:

  • scrapbook paper
  • a small brush
  • Mod Podge





See the printed type on the container?  Yeah, it won’t wash off.  But you can use acetone!  A little dab with a paper towel and it’s gone in a flash.  Now, when it comes to removing the label, there’s going to be some big blobs of glue remaining.  Using your hair dryer, warm the glue, and peel up as much glue as possible.  Don’t get it too hot, or you may warp the container (or burn yourself!).  What’s left will come off with another paper towel dampened with a bit of acetone.


Now you’re good to go.  Here’s video to show you how I did it:

Old-fashioned Molasses Ginger Cookies

Just  before Christmas, my 100 year old Nanna took a bit of a tumble while she was fussing with her Christmas decorations–seems she tripped over a chair leg or something–and fractured her hip.  It was very scary watching her head into surgery, and a very anxious ninety minutes while we waited for the surgeon to assure us that she had come through it okay.  Fast forward a few weeks, and she celebrated her 101st birthday!  She is still in hospital, but the general consensus is, that she cannot return home.  She is up an walking, and becoming more independent (I’m telling you…this lady is a force of nature!) but now we need to turn our thoughts to packing up her household and preparing for a move to a retirement home.

The only thing I really wanted from  Nanna’s apartment was her Pyrex mixing bowls. I have nearly 50 years of food memories associated with these vibrantly coloured bowls. Mom had the yellow one too (and I have vivid flashbacks of the potato salad and scalloped potatoes served up in her’s). I have been looking for years for an affordable set of my own, but had to settle for a more modern set (on the left).

Now that I have brought home the treasured mixing bowl set, the more modern set–picture on the left–are going to youngest son’s apartment. Why? To quote him, “I have nearly 25 years of food memories in them.”

Like mother, like son.

To welcome the bowls home, I felt the need to put them to use with something old-fashioned, heart-warming, soft and comforting.  Ah yes – molasses ginger cookies.


Molasses Ginger Cookies

  • Difficulty: some experience
  • Print

Makes 3 Dozen Cookies

  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 2 tsps baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cut fancy molasses
  • turbinated sugar (for rolling cookies dough in before baking) – you may substitute white granulated sugar


Heat oven to 375 degrees, placing rack in the centre. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

Sift flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, and cloves.

In a second bowl, cream together butter, brown sugar, egg and molasses. Beat at high speed until light and fluffy.

Stir in flour mixture. The cookie batter is going to be very stiff, so finish the final mixing with your hands.

Form balls of cookie dough by the tablespoon full, roll into sugar to cover the outside surface and place on baking sheet, one dozen at a time.  Do not press.  Bake for nine minutes and allow to cool.

Happy Birthday to Me — I got an Instant Pot!!!!

We have been in the midst of a bone chilling cold snap since before New Years.  It’s been brutal!  Naturally, when Jack Frost comes nipping, our minds turn to soft and cozy things, quiet contemplation, and comfort food.  I’ve been thinking about getting an Instant Pot for a few weeks, and this past weekend, I brought one home!  I also bought one for my youngest son, and arranged for one to be delivered to my other son and his wife out in Halifax.

It wasn’t easy!  It was so cold out – the kind of cold where your nose hairs freeze together – I couldn’t bear the idea of getting into my cold car and scraping the frost off the windows as the wind stabbed me with icy needles. So, ever resourceful, I texted my son (who has heated seats in his new car) and convinced him to take me shopping.  But we had to go to four different stores before we achieved our goal!  Instant Pots were a very popular Christmas gift this year, and the stores haven’t restocked yet.

Before I decided that I needed to bring home my own Instant Pot, I asked the gentle folks on The Hygge Nook facebook group for their thoughts. The consensus was enthusiastic – – some members have more than one Instant Pot, and use them regularly – – and recipes recommended.

The learning curve is steep – there’s a lot of technology here!  But I successfully prepared my first Instant Pot meal: Beef & Broccoli.  It was a little confusing – but somehow, I stumbled through it and served up a very satisfying dinner.  Since it’s just me and my husband at home now, there was leftovers of course, but who’s complaining?

My next trial went somewhat more smoothly.  Clearly, the operation gets easier with practice.  Stuffed Green Pepper Casserole. This was another winner, and looks like I have lunch for work tomorrow!

Pinterest – Nail or Fail? Definitely NAILED


I pinned this image months ago from Completely Coastal, just aching to recreate it — or something like it  — for myself. (It’s well worth a visit to this webpage for more nautical inspiration!)

The inspirational piece was created by Kim Teasdale of The Painted Poppy Studio of Nanaimo, British Columbia.

I had been keeping my eye open for the perfect dresser for a long while.  But then just after Christmas, it came to me!  Ah ha!  I have a dresser already! It’s been under my nose in the guest room all this time!

Now, it’s not the same size or shape as the inspirational piece, but it was my favourite price (free!).  And I had the paint on hand: Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Greek Blue, Florence, and Pure White.




First, I wiped down the entire piece with a spray on liquid deglosser – Natura Safe Sand – that I picked up at the local Home Hardware.  It was simple to use–I just followed the instructions–and gave me a surface that the paint could adhere to.  Then I did a coat of Annie Sloan Chalk Pain in Pure White.


I topped that with two light coats of Greek Blue.  Then, using a rag, I smeared a few wavy lines of Florence (green) horizontally across the top, front, and sides of the dresser to add some depth, and give the background an ocean-y feel.

Next came the hard part!  I downloaded a free image from a royalty free website, and with some assistance from the helpful folks on the Cricut Create Canada facebook site, I turned it into a stencil using my Cricut Air Explore 2.

It took a couple of evenings, and lots of patience to get to this point:


Before applying the paint, I first put down a layer of Mod Podge Matte.  This helps to keep sharp edges on the stenciled image.  When that was dry, I used Pure White to paint the octopus image.

The next part is my favourite – sanding, distressing, and waxing! I adore watching the transformation from perfection to perfectly wonderful, using just instinct.  This is where the art takes over. With a sanding sponge, I knocked off some paint to reveal the white underneath along the edges where normal wear and tear would occur.  Then I rubbed dark wax into the edges, corners, and ridges.  The final finish was two coats of hand-rubbed clear wax.

I struggled a bit with decisions on the hardware.  I tested white porcelain knobs, and considered something fancy – a nautical looking specialty knob, or a sea glass coloured knob – but ultimately, I went with the original knobs that I retained, and I could NOT be happier with the way it turned out!

A Little Before & After Action

It’s maddening – but I OFTEN forget to take “before” shots of my projects.  Here are a couple of exceptions:

A colleague at my office noticed this old dresser on the curb and immediately thought of me.  Lucky for me she has a truck and was willing to go back and pick it up for me!  The dresser was solid wood, and had really good bones.  It just needed some new drawer slides, which were easily purchased and replaced.

The paint colour I chose was Duck Egg Blue, a very popular Annie Sloan shade.  The stenciled numbers were hand painted in Pure White, and I used both clear and dark wax to finish the piece.





















This rather petite book case was another curbside find!  This time, I found it myself, and was able to fit it into my car! It was solid wood, and came with shelves and shelf pins.  I didn’t have to purchase any hardware, or make any repairs.  Again, I used the same two Annie Sloan Chalk Paint colours: Pure White, and Duck Egg.  I made a stencil using my Cricut to apply the painted branches and bird, and finished with both clear and dark waxes.

Painting Furniture

This past summer, I learned how to paint furniture using Annie Sloan Chalk Paint and a few directions from Shelby, daughter of the very artistic Jordan family, who are stockists of this product at TWO local shops:  ArtHaus150  and Kathie Jordan Design.

Since that time, anything that doesn’t move gets a lick of paint!  Here’s a look at some of my finished projects: