Sunday, February 16, 2014

Thrifting: Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow

Ah, thrifting can be so bittersweet.

My main goal for thrifting is to find unique vintage treasures to sell in my Etsy shop. At least that is the story I am sticking with. I don't need a thing for my home.

But that doesn't mean I don't WANT to keep some of the things I find FOR my home!

I shop what I love so everything is going to be perfect for some nook somewhere.

I have vintage on the brain 24/7 and have my eye out for it whenever I leave the house. I pick up some of my best stuff when I just happen to see something. But when I get the itch to go all out thrifting for the day I expect to come home with a trunk load of good stuff.

All from one former trip!

My recent day out was not so great in volume but oh so good in variety and value.

I see so much of what I already have in my shop so I have to resist buying another one of this or that. I am looking for unique and different. I think I found it this time.

My first stop was the Habitat for Humanity ReStore. It is a great place to donate items or find great vintage items. They use the proceeds to build homes for those who can't afford them.

I found this great cane seat rocker tucked all the way in the back, marked down to 1/5th it's original price. It is perfectly chipped and weathered and vintage.

Of course I can find a perfect spot in my dining room for it.

 But, alas, it will go in my shop.

I also found this solid, heavy cast iron ornate Rococo frame, the gold gilt perfectly worn in all the right places. It was more than I would spend on a thrifted item but it was marked half price and worth every penny.

Looks so good on my side table in the parlor with my hand painted rose milk glass lamp (a thrifted item that I gave in and HAD to keep for myself!).

But alas, it will go in my shop.

My next stop, was the Volunteers of America, which is a wonderful place to donate or thrift, whose proceeds go to help the hungry, homeless and helpless in the community. I only found one item there but it is unique and from a local department store of my youth, Sibley, Lindsey and Curr or Sibley's as we all called it. Gone now, it was one of the best stores for everything!

A set of four playing card holders, spring loaded to hold your cards with ease!

This is a great novelty gift for the card enthusiast, so, it will go in my shop!

I found this great Art Nouveau brass inkwell stand with the pen holder and couldn't resist it's Downton Abbey flair. Yes, I can see Violet now using this to write a scathing note to Isobel about how she talks too much!

At my final stop I couldn't resist getting a few things for the porch or garden, as if buying them now would make all the snow go away. These are heavy, cast iron tea light lanterns. Growing up spending summers on the St. Lawrence River in Upstate NY, I am partial to the fish. The kitty is pretty special too.

I could easily hang either lantern on my side porch. And when I did, and took a picture, it started snowing on my fish....hey!! (You may have to click on the picture to see it snow).

But alas, these will also go in my shop.

So I mentioned that thrifting can be bittersweet.

I love the sweetness of the hunt and finding wonderful deals while contributing to the cause of local charities. The bitter comes when I have to part with those treasures because people actually want to buy them!

Parting is such sweet sorrow, but, it is all good!

AnnMarie xoxo

I am linking up to these great blog parties:

A Bouquet of Talent Linky Party
Amaze Me Monday
Make It Pretty Monday
Nifty Thrifty Tuesday
You're Gonna Love It
The Scoop
Adorned From Above Link Party
What's It Wednesday
Thursday Favorite Things Blog Hop
Be Inspired
Freedom Fridays with all My Bloggy Friends
Pink Saturday

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Pasta and Chocolate favorite Italian comfort food meal is pasta, a little salad, some crusty Italian bread and chocolate for dessert.

That is just the meal I made recently for an informal dinner party. Aside from being an easy - albeit time consuming - dinner, it is a real crowd pleaser.

I would even call it the Ultimate Italian Comfort Meal.

I have been craving for a good, hearty Lasagna because the last few times I made it, it just didn't come out very good. It just isn't tasty enough when made and served the same day.

I think I may have finally figured out the secret to the ultimate lasagna.

36 hours.

You know how certain foods taste so much better the next day? Homemade Italian spaghetti sauce, chili, and dishes like Lasagna are among them. Something about marrying all the flavors for that extra 24 - 36 hours makes all the difference. So, this time I made my Lasagna the day before and I made my sauce 2 days before! I even par-baked the lasagna for 30 minutes the day I assembled it. Turns out it was in and out of the oven and fridge 3 times before we actually ate it. My guests were running late and I had to try and estimate when to put it in the oven and have it done for when they got there!

It only made it all the more scrumptious!

I mentioned that this meal can be time consuming. Well, making the sauce two days ahead takes some planning to make sure you have the time ( I cook my sauce for 6-8 hours) and then preparing and putting the layers together for the Lasagna takes a good part of the afternoon. This Lasagna has 8 layers consisting of 8 eggs, 3 pounds of ricotta, 2 boxes of noodles, and 2 cups of mozzarella.

Of course you don't have to make yours this thick or big (I used a lasagna pan which measures 15 x 10). The recipe below is for one box of noodles in a 9 x 13 pan and makes about 4 layers.

My only side dish was an antipasto salad.There are many versions of this Italian specialty and I usually make mine meatless if serving it with a meal. I use romaine lettuce, canned artichoke hearts, jarred roasted red peppers, provolone cheese, green and black olives, chick peas, pepperocini and italian dressing. Layered on a large platter, it is beautiful!

Wrap a loaf of Italian bread in foil and put it in the oven with your lasagna and it comes out all warm and crusty. Three course meal, done.

The dessert I made is an all time favorite that I go to when I want simple but fabulous. It is called Jimbo's Chocolate Cake and it is a rich chocolate bundt cake with some chocolate chips inside and frosting on the outside. It is the only chocolate cake I will eat, as I don't really like the stuff! I served it cold out of the fridge with chocolate chip ice cream.

Here are the recipes:

The lasagna recipe is compliments of Treasured Italian Recipes, distributed by The Rotary Club of East Rochester, 1990. My copy is quite worn from making a lot of the wonderful recipes inside.

Lasagna Deluxe
(Make a day ahead)

1/2 lb. ground beef
1/2 lb. sausage, casing removed
1/2 cup minced onion

2 quarts of your favorite spaghetti sauce

2 lb. ricotta cheese
1/2 cup romano cheese, grated
2 raw eggs
salt, pepper, garlic powder to taste
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley or 1 tblsp. dry

1 lb. lasagne noodles
8 oz. mozzarella cheese, grated
6 hard boiled eggs, peeled

Brown meats and onion in a lightly greased saucepan. Salt and pepper to taste. Add sauce and let this simmer.

Mix ricotta, grated cheese, raw eggs, salt and pepper, parsley and garlic powder to taste.

Boil noodles in salted water with a little oil in it to prevent the noodles sticking together.

Layer as follows in your lasagna pan:

spread bottom of pan with sauce mixture
layer with noodles
sprinkle with romano
spread a layer of ricotta
top with slices of hard boiled egg
sprinkle with mozzarella

Continue layers beginning and ending with the noodles. Cover with a layer of sauce and sprinkle with romano.
Bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until heated through and bubbly. If it is refrigerated first (recommended to make a day ahead!), it will take longer to heat through.


- if possible make this a day ahead, parbake for 30 minutes and then refrigerate till ready to cook the day of eating.
- don't put any sauce in between the layers. This is the first time I followed this tip and the lasgana stayed perfectly layered when cut. It becomes too soupy and sloppy to cut with too much sauce.

There is nothing like ending a filling, satisfying pasta dinner with chocolate!

Jimbo's Chocolate Cake

1 box Duncan Hines chocolate fudge cake mix (no substitute if you want the chocolatey goodness!)
4 large eggs
1 box instant (3.5 oz) chocolate pudding
1/2 cup oil
3/4 cup water
1 cup sour cream
1 cup chocolate chips


1 cup chocolate chips
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons water
confectioner's sugar

Mix all cake ingredients, except chocolate chips, by hand till moistened. Then mix in electric mixer for 3 minutes. Pour into greased bundt pan. Sprinkle 1 cup chocolate chips over batter and press in. Bake at 350 for 50-55 minutes.

For the frosting melt 1 cup chocolate chips with butter and water. Add confectioners sugar to thicken to pouring consistency. Drizzle over the top of the cake. Refrigerate and serve cold for best taste.

This meal totally satisfied my cravings for the ultimate Italian comfort food. I don't mind the cold as much now!

AnnMarie  xoxo

I am linking up with these great blog hops:

Be Inspired
Weekend re-treat link party
diy Sunday showcase
Bouquet of Talent Linky Party
Sweet and Savoury Sunday
Make It Pretty Monday
Nifty Thrifty Tuesday
You're Gonna Love It
The Scoop
What's It Wednesday
Wednesday's Adorned from Above Link Party
Showcase Your Talent
Thursday Favorite Things Blog Hop
Share Your Cup Thursday