Friday, January 22, 2010

Confessions of a Thrifting Addict


Hello, my name is Betty, and I'm a thrift-store shopaholic.

I have not gone thrifting since . . . well . . . 12 hours ago. I was doing really well for the past couple of weeks. I told myself that I could handle it, that I would only glance around to see if there was anything there. I didn't even buy anything.

Although, I admit that two weeks ago, I was a bit gluttonous. I couldn't help myself. They were having a 50 percent off sale on sweaters, and I really needed to buy some 'tween pants, as I found that maternity pants were too big and I poured myself in my "regular" pants with a lovely flabby overhang--if I could get them buttoned. I figured the thrift store would be a safe bet to buy, since I've been losing weight and was tired of looking (a) dowdy or (b) trashy. Also, I've been frequently peed on by my contented infant son(The Calf), so I needed extra clothes to bum around the house in--as I was changing my clothes as often as I was changing diapers.

I went to the DC-area thrift-store Mecca, Unique Thrift Store and Unique Bazaar, and hit the mother load. I bought six pairs of pants, three sweaters (half off), and three sweatshirts (again half off). I also found a cast-iron skillet, a copper-bottom skillet, and a Le Creuset sauce pan. I bought all of these treasures for the price of one pair of designer jeans.

I am currently on the hunt for another Baby Bjorn and another sling, in case said infant unit chooses to void on our current ones. (Since The Calf has difficulty getting to sleep without the sling and we travel with him in the Bjorn, you can see how convenient it would be to have a spare around.

I guess I'm like Amy Winehouse when it comes to thrifting.

I don't wanna go to rehab, no, no, no.

If the apartment we were renting wasn't already furnished, I would buy furniture there. I spied an art deco waterfall bedroom set for about 50 bucks, I shit you not. All you need is some sandpaper, varnish, and elbow grease. Booo yaaa!

However, Hun has reminded me that we have two of my thrift pieces stored with friends back in Albany, awaiting our return when Hun concludes his research year in DC and completes grad school. I also have a china hutch back at my parents' house in Denver.

When I moved into my adult apartment, I think I furnished the whole thing for about 500 dollars. It didn't look like off-campus housing either. I think my most expensive purchase was my cedar chest I bought and refinished for about 80 dollars.

We also have a used bookstore nearby, whose profits go to events for the public library. I used to volunteer there while I was pregnant, and I got a discount for that. When I went a couple of weeks ago to the used book store, I bought 10 comic books, two paperback books, and two cookbooks for the price of a paperback at Barnes & Noble. I will miss this store when I leave.

Not that I haven't scouted thrift stores in Upstate New York. Most of them have an amazing selection of furniture. Some of the pieces are quite old and need a little TLC. I also got a big chunk of my wardrobe there.




Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

More Ramblings and Extra Baggage

Howdy, Folks!
Cowgirl Betty has been a might busy the past few months. Combined with work being extremely hectic, and being tuckered out all the time, as well as limited internet access, I haven't been able to post as much as I would like. There have been quite a few changes at Casa de Chaos the past few months. First, Hun got a research fellowship in Washington DC. (Yeah!) So now we are in the process of moving and deviding all our worldly posessions. (Boo!)

I am currenlty a lady of leisure, and ended my position in the foster care agency a couple of weeks ago. I enjoyed my job, but it is a lot less stress to think about. The decrease in stress is a big plus--considering we have an extra package along for the ride. I am pregnant, and Hun's family is helping us move down--since I am a bit out of balance with my extra bundle.

Well, lots of news! I guess that would explain my current status. Hope I am able to be a better blogger when we are finally settled at our new campsite!

Saturday, December 06, 2008

7 Fascinating Fun Facts about Cowgirl Betty

“A gal can’t live by condiments alone.”—fracas

Season’s Greetings, Cowfolk. As most of you know, I haven’t had the same access to the wild world of InternetLand for the past six months or so. As a result, my posts have become less frequent. One of my New Year resolutions will be to post once a week. That way I can kick start my creative juices. So, thanks for bearing with me, y’all and not giving up on regularly checking on my site.

I have been reminded by the esteemed fracas about my lazy writing habits, and so I’ve been tagged on a meme as a result. Of course, I will tag others to pass on the Holiday joy. Like the game Othello (also a fabulous seasonal gift), rules take a minute to learn and a lifetime to master. (Well, perhaps writing takes a lifetime to master—something I still struggle with.) The rules are:

  • Link to your tagger and list these rules on your blog.
  • Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog - some random, some weird
  • Tag 7 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blog.
  • Let them know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

(1) I scored a perfect 5 on the English AP exam. A lot of U.S. colleges accept AP (or Advanced Placement) credits for taking higher-level classes in high school if they pass the nationally standardized AP exam for the subject at the end of the year. The first part is your standard multiple-choice reading selections and analogy sections. The second part is an essay answering a question, choosing a work out of a list of twenty or so authors. The question was examining “thoughtful laughter” in literature to demonstrate folly in the human condition. Of the authors to choose from were Jane Austin, Mark Twain, etc. I chose to write about William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury. My English teacher thought I tanked the essay for sure.


(2) I drive around in a rolling trash can. I drive a 1997 Saturn, named Norma Jean, who has seen better days. Norma Jean is littered with McDonald’s and Dunkin Doughnuts bags, coffee mugs, pens, Mapquest directions, and other U.F.O.’s (Unidentifiable Floor Objects). A layer of dust and lint is plastered on my dash, and touching it is reminiscent of reading Pet the Bunny as a kid. One of my jokes to kids is that they can’t steal my trash, nor can they step on it. Sometimes a mysterious odor--I believe it is from some spilled sour milk on one of my back seats--emanates from the seats when it is overly hot, a back window is open during a rain storm, or a kid spills yet another drink on the seat. I have to dump in a quart of oil to my engine about once a week, as Norma Jean burns oil like it is going out of style. I’m hoping she can survive another year before I have to put her out to pasture.

(3) I am a horrible speller. Regular readers already know this. Daddypapersurfer also is more than happy to comment on any of my semantic gaffes. My mother also calls me “Ms. Malaprop”. Usually no one notices when I misuse big, fancy words--except my mother and Hun. (Perhaps other people notice it as well, but they are too polite to mention it.)

(4) Playing video games makes me nauseous. Hun makes fun of me about this. He also tries to encourage me by saying that my mind hasn’t played enough video games to disassociate the action of the game from reality. I’ll stick with Tetris.

(5) I really enjoy tawdry romance novels. This shocks most people who know me. I seem like a straight-shootin’ kinda gal. They then mock me liberally about it. If they only knew how much fun they were. One of my secret goals is to write a tawdry romance novel one day. You know, one with a spunky heroine named after a plant (Willow, Fern, Iris) and a hero named after an architectural feature or a bird of prey (Sir Hawksbuttress, Duke of Roman Arches).

(6) I hated Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows. The first couple of chapters were good, and the last couple of chapters were good. However, I’d rather not drag through 600 pages of Harry whining and arguing with Hermione and Ron. I also think it is truly stupid for J.K. Rowling to “out” Dumbledore. Making Dumbledore gay just added absolutely nothing to the series. I think Rowling did it to stimulate sales from the Religious Right to buy in bulk for their rollicking book-burning parties. Now making Dumbledore gay from the onset--like when the creators of The Wire introduced the bad-ass, Robin Hood, dealer-robbing Omar--that is a different story.

(7) I eat fear for breakfast. Actually, I don’t. I eat granola and yogurt, drink two small cups of coffee, and take multivitamins. I thought it was just a very cool, Jack Bower-esque way to end the meme.

As far as tagging folks goes . . . I will tag the following: (1) OnKnees, my lady in arms, fighting the good fight, (2) my mother, The Heiffer, who is also a big romance novel fan, (3) Kimchihead to find out what really makes him tick, (4) Stella, for her fun haiku, (5) Sugar Queen for making the world sweeter, (6) R. K. Texarado, who’s humor is dryer than the Dust Belt, and (7) Rybu, who truly understands cold weather. I can also now safely say, “Not-it!”

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Condiment of the Month: Bacon--The World’s Most Perfect Food

I think this post’s title says it all. The flavorful salted sweetness of pork mixed with the extra glutamate (or umami) satisfaction found only in deep-fried fat, bacon can only be described as scrumtrulescent.

Bacon is a wonderful compliment to a high-caloric breakfast of eggs and pancakes. Fast-food chains have wisely incorporated bacon in their breakfast wrap/bagel/biscuit menus. A BLT sandwich, with tomatoes picked fresh from the garden, is one of man’s finest culinary inventions.

Truly, though, as perfect as bacon is, bacon to me is best used as a garnish. A sprinkle of bacon changes a compulsively chopped chef salad in to the scrumtrulescent Cobb. A dash of bacon in a peppers and cheese omelet transforms it into a Denver. Sprinkle bacon on top of a plain baked potato, and presto—the side dish magically turns into a main dish.

Bacon gives potato soup a reason for being.

I am the black sheep of two long lines of Southern cooks. Tex Mex blood runs through my veins. I am pretty sure I will be disowned by unveiling my aunt’s recipe for baked potato soup (peppered with a lot of “some of this” and “a chunk of that”). But this recipe is too good to not spread the message:

Ingredients:

2-3 large potatoes peeled and coarsely chopped

1 large onion chopped

1 can of cream of chicken soup (I prefer Campbell’s Cream of Chicken with Herbs)

1 cup of sour cream

2 cups of milk

8 slices of bacon

(optional) pepper to taste

(optional) garlic to taste

(optional) grated cheddar cheese to garnish

Directions:

Take the chopped potatoes, and boil them. (Depending on your preference, you can boil the shit out of them to keep them mushy, or boil them until you can cut a piece with a fork.)

While boiling the potatoes, fry up the bacon, save the grease.

Sauté the chopped onion in the bacon grease on medium heat. (I use the time-saving—and dish-saving—measure of frying the bacon and sautéing the onions at the same time on one pot.) The onions will be done once the onions are translucent.

Mix in the milk, sour cream, and the condensed Cream of Chicken soup in the pot. (ALERT: DO NOT ADD WATER TO THE SOUP!!)

Add pepper and garlic to taste. Add grated cheese (and more bacon?) to garnish.

Eat and enjoy.

Call the paramedics as you wait for your arteries/veins to harden and/or clot.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

A Fine Sunday in August

It has been a fine day today. The weather has been just right--sunny and 70s. The grass and plants are a lush green from the recent rain. The clouds are fluffy in the distance, portending a possible light show later this evening.

I restarted a furniture refinishing project on our deck yesterday, and I am almost done sanding a little chest. Another couple of sunny days, and I will be done with staining and varnishing. My next project will be sanding and repainting a couple of cafe chairs I found abandoned on a corner, with a sign posted above declaring their "free"dom.

I have no comments on condiments lately. Perhaps I shall share a recipe for tweeking BBQ sauce, or perhaps sing the praises of sour cream. Or shall I blog on the world's most perfect food: bacon?

. . . no need to decide now. After all--it's a fine Sunday afternoon and fall is around the corner.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Fo' Shizzle

Hun and I returned on Saturday from a week-long respite in the Mile High City. It was loverly. We got to visit with friends and family, enjoy a couple of hikes, and received broad hints about how to build a fun-filled and fiscally secure future together from the afore-mentioned friends and fam. (Say that meandering sentence five times fast.) We also were force fed homemade ice cream. (The flavors were maraschino cherries with pecans, and Bing cherries with dark chocolate chunks--yum.)

Ten added pounds around the waistline later, I returned to work yesterday to discover I have now a caseload of one. (Hopefully my caseload will turn to two or--gasp--three bouncing teenage boys!!) Let the adolescent ennui begin.

All kidding aside, teenagers can be quite fun. I really like teens--they just don't seem to like me much because (1) I'm not hip, cool, or withit AT ALL, (2) I often get stuck telling them things they don't want to hear, such as "No, you aren't going home yet because the judge is being an asshole." and (3) I ask them to stop acting like teens and start acting like mini-adults because the county will kick their tuckus out of the system without a dime if they impulsively (imagine that for a teen) decide to sign themselves out of care because they aren't allowed to visit their boyfriend who is stationed in Bumfuck or the county declined to buy them an XBox 360 for their 18th birthday. I usually get a James Dean pout or Billy Idol sneer in response, attempt to encourage them to strive for bigger and better things, and shoo myself out the door before being conned out of more McDonald's outing.

I also dusted off a Pilate's DVD I got on hot-bargain special from Border's and completed a couple of workouts. Meanwhile, Hun has been playing Bioshock on his new XBox 360, and hasn't let me take a turn even once. (Insert Cyndi Lauper sneer or Paris Hilton pout here.)

Could my life get moore exciting?!

Fo' Shizzle.