Sunday, March 28, 2010

From Coast to Coaster

Today turned out to be a soggy affair in Toronto. Ken was working, so Duncan and I went out. We were going to head down into the Don Valley to look at nature, but the rain came down heavier. We trudged down to Chinatown East, stopped at a Vietnamese sandwich shop, found a tropical fish emporium, bought some groceries, and returned home. But something was not right. I needed to thrift.
So down the road we trudged once more, to our nearby Value Village. Duncan quickly spotted a Playmobil fire truck. There was no price sticker on it, so the cashier rang it up for .99. Son, you're learning the way of the thrifter. I found a few goodies including one of those big bags of random things for $1.99. In the bag I found these cute plastic lobster coasters.
Also in the bag were these comical booze hound coasters. Written on each coaster is a different pearl of wisdom about drinking.
We don't need more tea towels, but for $1.99, I thought this Scotland tea towel would stir up some fond memories of Scotland for my husband - or at least encourage him to do the washing up more often.

Duncan counting up all the coasters. He also discovered some white coasters with an abstract art design on them. The only thing I don't like about the coasters is that they're rimmed and too small to hold the big coffee mugs we use at home. I guess they're meant for cocktail glasses at pool parties in the sixties or seventies.
Yes, another shot glass I'll never use, but I loved the stylish paint job for .49.
This is cool. It's a hand carved receptacle of some sort. I think it was $1.99. Please let me know what language is carved on the outside. Russian would be my default guess, but it could be Latvian, Estonian or something completely different. I love the bees and honeycomb.
Close-up of bee.

Here's my song of the week #39 -Duffy's "Mercy." It was playing at Value Village when I bought all this stuff.

A Summer Project Just Waiting to Happen

I enjoy the blog La Mesa de Trabajo It chronicles the life and work of Gustavo Aimar, an Argentinian artist. I'm always fascinated by his surrounding: the art, the dark corners of his studio, his beautiful cat that he lets roam around...

Here's Gustavo painting.

Here is Gustavo's table in his studio.

And here is a cool storage unit made from an old produce box. I actually see these boxes left out with people's garbage in the summer. This would be a great project to do, if I could find a box in good condition.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Bagel World - Worth the Shlep North

To Crazy Suburban Mom and all my other lovely friends - I'm sorry I've fallen off the thrift wagon this week. In Toronto, we'd just come back from a week off school. I threw myself back into planning and teaching and in my free time, I was working more on my other much neglected blogs. This post may end up on Five Ways to Disappear, since it's about disappearing into places and spaces in the city. I finally have thrifted goodies for CSM, Chris, and Sharla at Monkey Box. I just have to organize the mailing. Tomorrow, I'm taking Duncan thrifting if it's the last thing we do. Stick around for joy.
Hebrew-esque font greets lures hungry people in to Bagel World: a gem in an otherwise bleak strip plaza at Wilson and Bathurst.

As part of my new year's resolution to get out there and have some adventures, I'm trying to find surprises in the city. We NEVER venture north into North York. I can't tell you anything about this part of the city, except that there's an Ikea up there near the 401 highway. Today, my plan was to take Duncan to the far reaches of the north end of T.O., visit Bagel World (this part of town has a large Jewish population), and head to Earl Bales Park to look for snakes. I know the last bit sounds crazy. I'll get to that story later.
View looking back where the subway was (near the traffic lights).
My poor son. He's a hearty four-year-old, but we did so much walking today, I'm surprised he doesn't have corns or bunions. I banished his stroller when he was two and started dragging him everywhere by foot. No wagons! After the long haul on the subway from our house to York Mills Station, I thought we could walk to Wilson and Bathurst. If only I'd taken a closer look at the map.
Turning the other way, this was the hill we had ahead of us. This hill was maybe a quarter of the journey to Bagel World. Good for flabby moms in their late-thirties, not so good for kindergarten-age kids.

I learned about Bagel World from the show Restaurant Makeover. This restaurant got the food and decor makeover. As I recall from the episode, it was just pretty run-down, but the locals loved it. It looked really nice when the renovation was completed. When we got there, I was expecting it to still have that chi-chi glow to it. Well, it didn't. Still, it looked like a busy restaurant/bakery should and the food was great. What more can you ask for?

Here's the intro of the show. The music is less fiery when you watch the show. I wish they had stuck with this music. Chef Lynn Crawford rules. She's got a new show called Pitchin' In, which I'll have to blog about another time.

Here's what I got: their famous Twister bagel, lovingly made on site, baked fresh each day. Dig the mountain of cream cheese they provided. They also came by with a vat of butter. I wasn't sure what to do with it. Cream cheese and butter together seem over-the-top.
Duncan ordered chocolate chip pancakes and helped me out with the bagel. If Jamie Oliver is reading this, you'll be glad to know that the three pancakes were small and they were not served with maple syrup - just a light dusting of icing sugar. We did a lot more walking when it was over in order to work off the old gut(s).
Only in a bagel restaurant would they have a picture of the Three Stooges in the ladies' washroom.
We walked another marathon walk to Earl Bales Park, but by that point, junior was practically limping, so we turned back. I'll head back to the park another time. I'm trying to overcome my fear of snakes and my dental hygienist told me last week that snakes come out onto the trail at Earl Bales Park to sun themselves. Her mom takes her morning walk there, but the snakes freak her out. I'm pretty sure I developed my fear of snakes from my dad, who comes from Australia - land of the most venomous snakes.

Happy vintage treasures to come,

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Song of the Week # 38 Kate Bush "Big Sky"

How do I love this song? Let me count the ways. I discovered the genius of Ms. Bush shortly before The Hounds of Love album came out. I remember lapping up the goodness of each single that was released. When "Big Sky" was released, MuchMusic played the video quite a bit. I remember being in Grade 9 at Leaside High School. Everyone was either preppy or Greek (not that I have anything against Greek people). I was neither. Anyway, I remember telling a girl how excited I was that "Big Sky" was on MuchMusic. She grumbled that the song and video were both stupid. I knew from that point on that we'd never be friends. "Go back to your Wham records," I must have thought to myself.
Anyway, here it is. Kate Bush's "Big Sky." This will start your week off right.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Grim Pickings at Goodwill

We made a covert trip to Goodwill today to offload toys that Duncan either doesn't need or use. I noticed the 50% Off Sale Today sign, so I had to have a peep inside. It was pretty dire. No Pyrex (except for cups and saucers that I didn't love or need), no funky stuff for the house - no nothin' - just huge lineups of ham-fisted shoppers shoving their way around with shopping carts filled with clothes. Like a fool, I did find some things. This meant I'd have to stand in the jumbo line to cash out. I got Duncan a cool Afrofest t-shirt for .99, I bought two spooky chapter books for my class, a workbook for Duncan and this...
A twee print of sparrows. The glass needs cleaning up. I'll likely hang it in my classroom.
It seems old-ish, but not super old. I liked that it came from London. I got everything for $4.00. Not bad, but not thrilling either.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

A Surprise From Vonlipi: Vintage Souvenir Plate From New Mexico

Look what came in the post today: A gorgeous souvenir plate from New Mexico.
Vonlipi saw my recent post about collecting these plates. I had just bought this Sonoma plant this morning and when I opened the package from Quebec, I realized that they made the perfect combination.
My husband and I have dreamed of going to New Mexico for years. It's the Land of Enchantment.
Made in Japan - natch.

I love Robert Plant's music post-Squeeze-My-Lemon days. This song makes me think of New Mexico, even though 29 Palms is in California. Close enough.
Hugs to my homegirl Vonlipi. I will treasure this. Thank you so much.

Monday, March 15, 2010

A Dream That Made No Sense

The source of my weird dream. Aren't all dreams weird?

Last night I had my first dream that was thrift-related. I guess garage sales have been on my mind lately. Either that or it was the Irish cheddar with Guinness that I ate before bed.

In my dream, I was at some sort of rambling flea market place. I don't remember many details. I walked past a woman who looked like an aging Yulia Tymoshenko - former Prime Minister of Ukraine.

So this woman was sitting amongst her wares when I see a collection of mugs I had bought at a yard sale in the summer. I told her that they belonged to me. She didn't want to argue, so she handed them over and I took them home.

When I got home, I went to my cupboard to put them away. It was then that I discovered the one mug I had bought at the yard sale. It did not come in a set. Yes, I had stolen cups from the blond Princess Leia.

Today I found the mug that sparked this dream. It's a cute little Pioneer Village souvenir cup that Duncan drinks his hot chocolate out of. It did not come in a set.

Have you ever had a thrift-related dream? If so, please share.
Thriftily yours,

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Song of the Week #37 "True" by Concrete Blonde

Welcome to my latest followers Retromodgirl and P. from The Way I Sew it. Do check out their blogs. I still feel like a mere amateur in this thrift blogging world, so it's a real boost to know that people are popping by for a visit. I've almost made it through the thrifting Gulag, otherwise know as late fall to early spring in Canada. Heck, there may even be some yard sales in Hogtown next month if the weather warms up.

Here is a song that makes me soooooo nostalgic for the better times of my teenage years. I loved Concrete Blonde. Johnette was ├╝ber cool and she wrote great songs and had an amazing voice. I saw them play in Toronto many times - often sneaking into clubs using my big sister Rhonda's Age of Majority card, since we bore a ballpark resemblance to each other. Ahh good times. At a time when cheesy hair metal bands were being pumped out of L.A., Concrete Blonde rocked the retro sixties look, with a little Goth thrown in. Fringy jackets and black nail polish. I still love that look. I wear a skull scarf in the classroom and I keep thinking I'm going to get busted by some school board bigwig one day. Oh well, I gotta be me.

This song is so sweet.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Eat Something Different Part 1

As mentioned a couple of posts ago, I'm bustin' to eat some different things with my buddy Jesselyn. I'm not talking about Andrew Zimmern's Bizarre Foods. I don't feel like eating sheep intestine topped with toasted grubs. I am, however, watching a lot of No Reservations these days and I just love the way Tony Bourdain goes for the off-beatly tasty. I like that he's big on the pig and not afraid to eat different cuts of meat.

To that end, it was a cold, rainy day today. I took Sonny Jim down to the St. Lawrence Market and I wanted to buy something unusual that would be palatable and not cost more than $20.00. Here's what I found:
Yes. It's the old family favourite: caribou & fig pate. After I post this, I'm going to ask Ken if he wants to check it out with me. Note the price per kilo: $45.99. Don't ask me the price per pound - I'm too tired to convert to non-metric.
I'm pretty sure caribou are plentiful, but I do feel somewhat guilty. Maybe this is why:

My carbon footprint is now the size of RuPaul's stiletto. This fruit is called carica and yes, it comes from Chile. It was good. Kind of a cross between mango and papaya. Duncan liked it. He had it on a slice of baguette. Oh kids.
These artisan crisps are just plain tasty. Anything Ace Bakery makes is addictive.
Currently working its way through my lower intestine. Thanks for reading. Goodnight!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Sweet Freedom

I'm off for a week - it's March Break. Yipee! I'm going to get my thrifting groove on. Look out sugar, 'cause my hair is coming down.

Take it away Fred and Ginger.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Food Links

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We have this amazing new teacher at our school this year named Jesselyn. When new people arrive, you hope that by some miracle they'll be a cool person with a wicked sense of humour. Either that, or that they'll sizzle in the staff room like Johnny Depp in a movie about a caring teacher who turns things around for one troubled youth. Not that Johnny would stoop to a level like that.

Jesselyn is hilarious. I wish we taught across the hallway, but it could easily turn into a gab-fest.

It turns out that we both like Anthony Bourdain - a lot. If you watch the show, you start to see that he's actually a very warm and funny guy who will throw himself into ridiculous situations one moment and then turn around and lovingly talk to an old timer who's been making sushi for 50 years.
Jesselyn and I want to eat new things and she's quite the foodie. She just started up her own blog, which I've linked in my new "Dangerous Foods" category over to the right. It's called Je Suis Gutom. This means I am (something in Tagalog, which I'll have to ask her about). I've linked Tony's site as well.

Next week is March break and it didn't take much to convince Jesselyn to go some place where we can eat something a little out there. I will eat almost anything apart from reptiles or domestic animals. I'm sure we'll both blog about the experience.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Another Vintage Addiction

Another vintage addiction of mine happens to be vintage souvenir plates - preferably from travel destinations from the sixties or earlier. These tend to crop up at garage and rummage sales, so I'm holding out for some more this summer. My husband is generally indifferent to my thrifted finds, but even he finds these plates kind of charming.
Scenes from Prince Edward Island and Howe Caverns in New York. I'd never heard of Howe Caverns, but the plate really sells the place for me. Now I want to go.

Monday, March 8, 2010

More Pyrex and the Good Thief

First off - welcome to my latest follower Pam. I haven't even had a chance to check out if you have a blog I can link, but I will do so later. Thanks so much. Also, please check out Linda's fab blog A La Carte, linked to the right. She's such a loyal follower of this blog and for some silly reason I failed to check if she has a blog. Thanks again, Linda. Look out for my song of the week below.
As you can see, my Pyrex lucky streak keeps on streakin'. I took Duncan to the park yesterday. We were going to meet my husband near the park, but we became so cold that we had to take shelter at the Value Village on Danforth. Who would have thought that on a Sunday night I'd find this sweet little Pyrex bowl for $2.99? It looks early eighties to me, but I could be wrong. I'll have to look on the Pyrex site later.
For .49 I couldn't resist this The Good Thief shot glass. I don't drink shots, but I did love this movie. It was Nick Nolte's role of a lifetime. I think someone said that about Jeff Bridges last night with Crazy Heart. I have to see that movie too.

Here's my song of the week #36:
It's the Pretenders with "Night in my Veins." It makes me want to be out on a warm summer's night.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Pyrex Jackpot - Hello Seventies Dating Show Game Floral Pattern

I've been very patient. I've paid dearly for a dinky Pyrex mushroom bowl and I carried a quiet dignity as I saw fit to find the good in a clear Pyrex mini casserole dish. But deep down, all was not well. All I wanted was a cheap thrill in the form of a useful bowl in a bright colour. Was that too much to ask? Apparently not.

Today, I walked into the Goodwill near my parents' home in St. Catharines. I made a bee-line for the place where they stash their kitchen goods. It was here that I was finally rewarded for being such a patient lady. My joy can only be summed up by the Lord of the Dance's solo. Dance Michael - Dance! Work those leather pants.

Here's what I found: A totally seventies Dating Show Game floral patterned Pyrex mixing bowl. The price? $2.00!!! Take that over-priced Toronto thrift stores.

It's got a few dark scuffs. I'm not sure if I can buff them off without damaging the finish. Vonlipi, what is your cleaning secret again?

Still, the bowl looks cheerful and swell outside in the late Canadian winter.

It looks great from all angles.

Here it is in the sultry half-light of the fading afternoon sun. Oh Pyrex, come hither.

I also discovered this beauty: another Pyrex mixing bowl in jade. Such a pretty colour.

It looks small in the picture, but I'd classify it as a medium-size bowl.

What makes me happy? Seeing the Pyrex logo with a cheap price sticker beside it. Can you believe that this beauty of a bowl cost less than a venti chai latte at Starbucks?

Junior was happy for me too.

Arrrh! Let's whip some cream Mom!

To top it all off, before I left Goodwill, I discovered these pretty little Made in Japan floral thingys. I'm not sure if they are meant to hold tea lights. I don't even know if they had tea lights in the Made in Japan era. They'll look pretty in a spring arrangement. They were $3.00 each. The colours are still bold.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Clearly it's Pyrex

Finally, something good - if not a little dull. My urge to thrift got the better of me and I ran to Value Village on my lunch break yesterday. This is the same VV that wanted a fiver for my mushroom Pyrex bowl last month. I found this clear little Pyrex dish with lid for $3.99. It will get used A LOT. I like that I can bung it in the microwave oven and the lid will keep the contents nice and warm. Tomorrow I'm visiting my folks in St. Catharines. I just know I can tempt Dad into hitting the Goodwill close to their home. Wish me luck. If you're in St. Catharines reading this tonight - keep back. I'm coming through! Such a typical Torontonian huh?
Neither old nor funky, but oh-so practical.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


Judging by the TTC streetcar, this commercial was filmed in Toronto, so I'm hoping it will be a first for many of you. This is now an old commercial, but it still cracks me up. The actor is hilarious, as is the woman who plays his wife. The expression on her face when she's trying to pull off his jeans kills me.

I remember squeezing into my Roadrunner "designer" jeans. Does anyone else remember this golden age of tight jeans?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Essentially the Same Person

True story: When I was in high school, there were two teachers who both had dark hair and a moustache: Mr. Clarke and Mr. Short. Mr. Short was tall and Mr. Clarke was short. Needless to say I kept accidentally referring to Mr. Clarke as Mr. Short when he taught me in Grade 12. I also remember the fact that he wore seventies clogs and it was the late-eighties. It was incredibly awkward. I'd always overcompensate by saying things like, "Oh sorry. You're both wearing green shirts today," hoping desperately that I was right, or that Mr. Clarke would forget to check.

Here are people I mix up. Some may be dead. Some may be alive. Other's may have a stalled career...

Will-i-am from the Black Eyed Peas & Wycleff Jean: So near and yet so far.
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Princess Margaret & Princess Anne: I always forget which woman is the Queen's sister and which one is her daughter. I was part of the Princess Di generation.

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Kate Moss & Sienna Miller: Skinny blonde English women. Is there some Jude Law connection too?
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Shaun White & Carrot Top: It's in the hair.
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Rick Astley & Josh Groban: Fresh scrubbed image and cheesy listening.

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Sam Kinison & Bobcat Goldthwait: Screaming, outrageous comics from the eighties. Both had a penchant for crazy hats. Which one is dead?
Sam Kinison.jpg


Well, I'm all out of witty postings for the day. If you can think of two people who are essentially the same, let me know and I can add some to the list.

About Me

My photo
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.