Thursday, December 31, 2009

Toilet Humour Winners

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Hey, it's the last day of the year. I've decided to thrift for the three awesome, potty-minded women who responded to my second Thriftastic contest. These ladies are: Shara from Monkeybox, Chris, and Tracy (aka Crazy Suburban Mom). Please email me at with your mailing address and I'll be on the prowl for something cool for each of you. Congratulations! You're all thriftastic women.

I hope everyone has a very happy new year. Today I finally sat down to watch Julie and Julia and I really sympathized with Julie and her need to write. This blog has been so fun and rewarding, mostly because I know people are reading it and taking the time to post comments or even become a follower. I'd much rather be connecting with great people this way than through Facebook/Twitter. Warm hugs from Toronto,

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Erin's Good Things - It Ain't What's Good For Oprah

I notice that celebrities enjoy telling people what they like. It usually amounts to name-dropping $500 wrinkle cream and $45,000 handbags. To counter all this unattainable foolery, I thought I'd share a bunch of stuff I like that's way more affordable.

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1. Rose's Lime Cordial. It's not sweet, not sour - just right. This cordial costs about $3.49 in Toronto. If you cut it with club soda, it lasts a long time. Delish!

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2. Anthony Bourdain: I must admit I've only read one of his books, but I think his show No Reservations is brilliant. I love that after all these years, he still looks like a roadie for the New York Dolls roaming around the back streets of international locales looking for interesting food, people, and stories. Bravo! On this clip, he gets an insanely painful back rub at a spa in Uzbekistan. Look for it just before the 4:00 mark. I laughed so hard watching it.

3. Absurdist British comedy such as Fawlty Towers. My entire family loves this show. John Cleese is a hoot as Basil Fawlty. I love how he's this mess of simmering rage who always gets it wrong.
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4. The smell of fresh bread and also the smell of fabric softener blowing out neighbours' dryer vents. I know, the second one is odd. If Proust said it, it would have been brilliant.
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5. Most people hate black licorice. I've loved it ever since I was a kid. I don't go for the salty Scandinavian licorice, however. That's too hard-core for me.

6. Laughing at people laughing at inappropriate things. Here's a classic example. I just can't get enough.

West Coast Roasting Company Coffee
7. Dark roast coffee: Again, I've been indulging since I was a kid. Being the youngest child in a large family, my parents had given up trying to be "correct" when I came along and basically let me chug back coffee at the dinner table before I was ten. It didn't do me any harm, although I might be a foot or two taller had I been drinking milk instead.

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8. Mexican culture. I love the music, the food, the art. For me, this country has it all. Can't wait to visit one day. I won't be sunning myself by the pool.

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9. Randy Bachman's Vinyl Tap: The former Guess Who and BTO axe-man hosts the best radio show ever each Saturday night on the CBC Radio. I think you can listen via the internet. He has an encyclopedic knowledge of music and plays some fantastic tunes. Love it.

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10. Pomegranates: I consider this fruit to be a finger food. There's nothing I like more than settling in to a great movie with a yummy pomegranate to pick at. Mmmm.

Thanks for reading. I'll do another ten things I love later.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Some New Year Resolutions

Ferris Wheel Niagara Falls - December 25th, 2009

Here's some stuff I want to do in the new year:
- get into some crazy adventures
- read more books and not just leave books half-read in a dangerous pile by the side of the bed
- check out more new music
- get out the the theatre more often
- travel anywhere
- join the Toronto Field Naturalist and go birding
- learn to cook properly
- learn how to use a sewing machine
- finish knitting the scarf I started five years ago

Monday, December 28, 2009

Post Christmas Thrift Booty - Pyrex and More Plus Kraftwerk Song of the Week #26 "The Model"

First off, I hope that everyone out there had a cozy and happy Christmas. We had fun opening gifts at our home and then we took off to my parent's house in St. Catharines (which is fairly close to Niagara Falls). Most of my family was there and we had a jolly good time eating and hanging out with each other.
Secondly, I'd like to welcome my latest follower, My Vintage Dollhouses and Other Treasures. I've linked this amazing blog over to the right. You must visit this blog and become a follower.
Here's the wee boy unwrapping his Play Mobile arctic weather lab thingy.
Close up of his crazy monkey hat made in Nepal.
On Boxing Day we did some thrifting in St. Catharines. Here is the very clean and elegant condiment serving set I found at Goodwill. It was marked at $15.00. I asked if the price could be lowered, something I rarely do because of the neurotic Canadian politeness disease that has taken hold. The manager said, "I'm in a good mood, so you can have it for ten bucks." I would have liked it better for $5.00, but I kept my mouth shut and bought it. I'm not sure what year it would be from. Any idea? I'm thinking early to mid-sixties.
Yes, I already have the exact same Tupperware salad container (in two different sizes nevertheless). My mother told me that they originally came with a spike insert to spear your lettuce on. Guess what...
Ta-dah! This one had the spike. For the sake of $1.99 (at Value Village in St. Catharines), I had to have it. Besides, there's no such thing as eating too much salad. Just ask Kate Moss.
I bought this pretty plate at the same GW I bought the condiment serving set. This plate would look attractive filled with tossed salad greens or perhaps some steaming peas. I paid $6.00 for it.
Here it is: still life with oranges, mango, and pomegranate.
I bought this Tupperware grater for .99. My mom said she wanted it and she loathes kitchen gadgets. I'll have to keep a lookout for one.
Today, I popped into the Thorncliffe Goodwill which happens to be one of Grunge Queen Kelly's fave places to thrift in Toronto. I loved this dish. I thought it was all mod sixties Twilight Zoney and cool. Guess what?
It's not old - it's a newish piece from Crate and Barrel, which I think has either just come to Canada, or is coming soon. Let's hope Canada gets Target next. As you can see by the sticker, I got a sweet price.
I've been waiting patiently for a piece of Pyrex that speaks to me. I found this lime green pie dish, or whatever you call it, for a mere $1.99.
Love it.
Lastly, here's a beautiful Mikasa tea pot I found at Goodwill for $2.99. Isn't it simply divine? I found one in brown at the Goodwill in St. Catharines for $9.99. I'm glad I waited. What's up with the high prices in thrift stores?

Here's my song of the week: "The Model" by German electronic pioneers Kraftwerk. Even if you hate my taste in music, watch this video for a parade of vintage party dresses.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Toilet Humor Contest - It's Not What You'd Think

I'm about to disappear into the haze of gift wrapping and family merriment. I thought I'd leave you with another Thriftacular Contest.
Tracy, the Crazy Suburban Mom, can't get enough of 'Still Life With Toilet Seat,' on Awkward Family Photos. Here it is.
Your job is to write a humorous caption in the comments box. With the help of my sister, I'll decide which caption is pant-splittingly funny and I'll choose a winner by New Year's Eve. Once I've gotten to the bottom of it, I will buy something at the thrift store for the lucky winner. Chin-Chin! Erin

Twas the Thrift Before Christmas

Is there ever a bad time to go thrifting? Apparently not. After enduring the crush of the mall this morning in order to finish up my Christmas shopping, I found myself wandering into the local Value Village this afternoon. Compared to the mall, it seemed like a sanctuary - a sanctuary playing Chris Isaak Christmas music. How lucky was I?
I can't believe it's not butter! Look what I found - a bag of sixties Made in Japan spice shakers for $3.99!

I don't need them, but I had to buy them.

They're so full of character.

Love the cork.

Do you remember how I bought some super cool Atomic Age tea cups in the summer? Press play and stroke your chin.

Ah yes, here the picture is: still undeleted.
Look what I found today - the matching creamer. It had a small chip on the inside so I got it for a mere .99.

Now all I need are the saucers and the sugar bowl.
I loved this pretty "Made in England" tea cup and saucer for $1.99.
My sister will get the gift of thrift in the form of this cute cat tea cozy. I got her a bigger gift as well, in case you're thinking I'm super cheap.
Here's a reusable Christmas gift bag that cost .99.
I also bought these funny t-shirts for my nephew. I can now say I'll be giving the gift of thrift.
Merry Christmas to all my bloggy friends out there. Erin
Knowing my luck, my sister will see this post tonight and will have to feign surprise tomorrow. I can hear her thoughts already, "Oh great, a beer shirt for my teenage son. I'll make sure he wears that to school."

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Cherish the Awkward Christmas Love

If you're about to spend the next few days at Camp Disfunctional Family and you need to feel like it's not so bad, or if you just need a cheap laugh to destress from your trip to the mall, check out the pictures on Awkward Family Photos (linked over at the right).

Thriftacular Luck and a Shameless Plug

Some of my bad luck turned around when I received an email from Misty informing me that the package arrived. Woo-hoo! I'd like to do another contest in the new year.

I have a few blogs on the go. Sadly, I can't link my classroom teacher blog, due to privacy issues. I'd love to share what my "other family" is doing. It's such a huge part of my life.

I found some excellent crafty books that I've blogged about on my thrifty teacher blog The Foolscap Flyer. I've been trying to use the blog to connect with like-minded teachers and parents who want to share ideas, but I've had minimal feedback. I'm considering folding this blog and integrating it into Yardsale Snoop - possibly with a new name. I'll have to see. Here's the link

I'm going to make this bird mobile over the holidays. Will it turn out this cute? I lack that dainty touch.

My blog formerly know as Toronto Landscape and Memory has been "relaunched." It's now called Five Ways to Disappear. As the name suggests, it's all about getting lost. My first real post of its new incarnation chronicles a frosty nature walk I took with the Toronto Field Naturalists yesterday. When I'm retired, I'll be that old lady with the binoculars and the bird identification book. Check out the blog at

Monday, December 21, 2009

Song of the Week #25 The Pogues "Fairytail of New York"

Best Christmas song ever. RIP Kirsty MacColl: you had one of the best voices in pop. Once the video starts, click on the screen to see it on YouTube so you can click out the pesky ads at the bottom. The tune is a classic.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Thrifters and Crafters Unite!

I'm so excited to be on holiday. I can hop back in the saddle of thrifting and crafting. Woo-hoo! You must visit the blog The Constant Gatherer. It's linked in my Artist and Crafters section over to the right. The current post features a pot luck of many elegant and charming holiday craft ideas floating around the blogisphere. I've already linked Scissor Variations, which is very cool. I know Thrifted Treasure and Madge from Solid Cherry will swoon over some of these blogs. I'll try to link more as and when I'm free to do so.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Bad Luck Dame

I'd like to welcome my latest follower, the Recycle-ista to this here blog. I still can't believe that 28 people like this blog enough to follow it. Thank you all! Stranger still is that fact that none of these 28 people are family members.

Alright. This is the time of year for happiness etc. Just to kick it down a notch, I thought I'd share my bad news. First off, I mailed Misty's goodies off to her three weeks ago. Misty was the winner of my Thriftacular Contest. Unfortunately enough, Misty never got the package and it was never returned to me. This means that it's either stuck in the middle of a runway soaking up airplane grease, someone else is enjoying her pillowcases and trinkets, or it's mouldering in some dead letter office in Canada or the U.S. I'll have to rethrift for Misty over the holidays. Bummer. But I still have my health and family.

Secondly, back in July my husband and I (after 17 years of marriage) finally took the plunge and ordered a beautiful Shaker dining room table and chair set at the Amish Furniture Outlet. The pieces were to be ready by October or November. We never heard back from them until we received an email from the liquidators who informed us that the company had gone bankrupt and that there was no guarantee we'd see the furniture. As for the $1,500 deposit? I can only hope that someone has the heart to realize that it's money that belongs to us. We put this not-so-small sum down trusting that we'd get something in return for it. We never saw the need to get insurance on our VISA. Yes I do have my health and family and things could be a lot worse.

Now we're thinking of looking for a more affordable repro of a fifties kitchen table and chairs. I hope to thrift tomorrow.

Here's a very cool sixties inspired video by Baby Spice. It's the perfect song and video to make you happy when you've just lost a big chunk of money. Chin chin!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

A Surge of Love

One more day to the school year, and then it's all Christmas goodness and thrifting and blogging. Ahhh. Stay tuned. In the meanwhile, let's pretend we're in Paris doing nice things for people.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Song of the Week #24 Kate Bush "December Will Be Magic Again"

This song is one of those busy tunes that sounds like it should have either become three separate songs, or an operetta. Still, I love it. This is one of those perfume songs for me. Some songs take me right to a place in time, the way the familiar scent of a perfume does. During my Kate years, I was living out in Scarborough in a house that overlooked Lake Ontario.

KB was my musical hero when I was a teenager. Her lyrics were so original and her music unlike anything else on the radio. A friend introduced her music to me when I was in Grade 8 and the following year Kate released her phenomenal Hounds of Love album. When she came to Toronto to promote the record on MuchMusic, I waited down on Queen St. (East - location of the old CityTV building). Sure enough, she came out and signed the back of my copy of Hounds of Love in silver marker. I will treasure it forever. Years later, when she released the disappointing Red Shoes, I was working as a freelance music journalist and I got to interview her. She was beautiful and so human. When the interview was over, I left the fancy hotel she was staying at and wondered what reasons I had to continue writing about music since I'd met Kate. Throughout the nineties, music changed and I found many new things to excite and write about, but nothing as great as Kate.

Here's the video for "Running up That Hill." Kate was a trained dancer and this is probably her last great dance piece. The lyrics are all about the difficulties men and women have relating to each other.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Thrifted Bears in an Oil Spill

In Science, my class is learning about Energy Conservation. We've been exploring fossil fuels and the environmental damages caused by oil spills. Last week, I bought two bags of brand new stuffed bears (10 bears in total) for $4.00 at Value Village. Yesterday, the class recreated an oil spill using cooking oil, black powdered paint, and water. I wish I could include pictures of the kids on this blog, because they were totally into the activity. Look at the poor bears.
"No, you can't do this to me!"

A little clean to see if the grime will come off.
No such luck. Next week, the students will perform an autopsy on the bears to see what they look like inside.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Song of the Week #23 Rockettothesky "Grizzly Man" + Marimekko Update

Do you remember my textile treasure I scored on the weekend?

I've since learned a few things about Marimekko. Click here to learn about the history of this amazing company which began in Finland.

Here's a blurb about designer Maija Isola. What a talent.

Maija Isola (1927–2001) designed her first printed textiles in 1949 for Printex Oy, Marimekko’s predecessor. She worked as head designer of Marimekko’s interior fabrics until 1987. She also had an illustrious career as a visual artist.

Maija Isola was a tremendously versatile and bold artist. She interpreted the events of her era from her own unique perspective and foresaw future trends. Her body of work includes over 500 prints – a brilliant selection of patterns representing different themes and techniques. She drew inspiration from traditional folk art, modern visual art, nature and her countless trips around the world.

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It's all gorgeous and I want it all. Marimekko Ihmemaa "Wonderland" Textile Art - Click to enlarge

While I'm singing the praises of all things Nordic, here's my song of the week: "Grizzly Man." Rockettothesky are an arty, folky band from Sweden, but I still like them.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Finnish Fabric and Vintage Chef Clock

Yesterday, my sister Lise took the gang out for some serious thrifting at two Value Village stores: Eglinton at Victoria Park, and Lawrence East. I hit gold.
I discovered this large piece of fabric featuring a bold design of toucans perched on branches.
How cool is this? The fabric was stamped "Maija Isola 'Pepe' Marimekko Oy Suomi Finland 1972." I know the name Marimekko. I'll have to do some Googling later on. If you know anything about this designer, please leave a comment.
Over the holidays, Lise is going to teach me how to hem on her sewing machine. I'm going to turn this into a wall hanging.
When I thrift, I can't help wondering the back story of what I find. In the case of this fabric, how did it end up in Toronto? Who owned it?
And how did it end up being sold at Value Village in Scarborough for $1.99?
My sister found this delightful kitchen clock for me. It cost $6.99 and appears to work. Made in America.
The Value Village at Lawrence East was a bit ghetto. As soon as we arrived, a shopper walked up to me and told me she had just had her wallet stolen and to be extra careful. This was a first. Anyway, I did find this insanely retro Battleship game. It cost $3.99. All the pieces seemed to be included.
Look at the sixties housewife and daughter doing the dishes in the background. Hilarious.
I love that it was made in London, Ontario.
I bought Duncan Yum Safari. We'll try to set it up later.

All these retro games reminded me of the "game closet" scene in The Royal Tenenbaums. You'll find it between 3:30 and 4:00 on this clip.

I bought this old, but never used Christmas wreath for my classroom door.
The price was discounted and still nobody wanted it.
Until Value Village put the right price on it.
Duncan wanted these glittery pipe cleaners for crafts.
Every time I turned my back, Lise had dressed Duncan up in something crazy. He loved this hat, so I gave in. It looks like something my father would have worn in the eighties when he was shoveling snow.
It is made from pure wool in Toronto. Wow!
We ended up at an Ikea last night and I almost screamed when I discovered this gorgeous bird tray. Ikea is one of my favourite stores, especially for their kitchenware. It cost $6.99.

Here's the opening scene from The Royal Tenenbaums. If you like vintage, and eccentric characters, you'll love this movie. I connect with this film because the house I grew up in was a bit like the house the Tenenbaums lived in. The cultural refrences from the seventies and eighties that you see in the film pretty much sum up my childhood.

About Me

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I'm a slightly off-beat Toronto-area teacher who enjoys writing and photography. I come from a family of collectors and now I'm dragging my own family around to yard sales. It's just a bit of fun. Enjoy the scenes.