Out Picking: The Find of a Lifetime

I am still in shock at what just happened.

I was at an estate sale and it turns out that the gentleman having the sale (who also moved here from New York City many years ago), Mr. Allen Davis, is a famous children’s book illustrator. I overheard him mention to someone that he illustrated a CHIPMUNK book! Of course I jumped into the conversation and mentioned that I’d love to know what book? The title is Chipmunk at Hollow Tree Lane – a Smithsonian Backyard Book published in 1994. And then he mentioned that he still has the original art! I told him I’d love to see it! I’m teary-eyed writing this, but he sold it to me, all of the original illustrations for the book! I told him he has no idea how much this means to me and he said in earnest, “I think I do.”

Thank you, Mr. Davis, and thank you, Universe, for putting me in the right path for this. I will cherish them and this experience forever. I plan to frame and display as many as I can. The others will be kept in a safe place. What this means to me….wow!

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“New Old Stock” Kitchen Linens Dilemma

It’s been a while since I “raided” my stash of vintage estate kitchen towels that are in new, never used condition, most which still have the original price tags. Because we do our dishes by hand we use about three kitchen towels daily including one that lines our dish drying rack. Some have been in service for many years withstanding weekly laundering. A good old-fashioned kitchen towel will fade gently over years, not two washings like so much of what is sold today, and becomes more soft as time goes on. Then, after their golden years the perfect fading and softness gives way to becoming too thin to be absorbent. At that point they get transitioned into dusting rags or bedding for our degus. Sometimes I’m not sure if one is too special or unique to use, like this circa 1960s kitschy towel with an important message:

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Out Picking Again!

For the first time in a year I went to the outdoor flea market and indoor antique shops. It feels so good to be able to go out picking things other than the dandelions from my front yard!

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Enjoying the Best from 2020

I know I said my little series about how I decided to go to college in New England and not New York would be coming up next, but I’ve decided to make it “soon”. I like to intersperse my more essay-oriented posts with snippets of joy and photos.

Tonight we’re having the last batch of the heirloom sauce I made from the tomatoes in our garden. If you’re interested I posted the recipe here. There is (almost) NOTHING better than homegrown tomatoes. I honestly can taste all of the sweet memories of last summer and early fall. When your food is picked fresh it also still has much of the life force within it. If that sounds kooky just try some and I bet you’ll experience what I mean. Plus they’re loaded with love!

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Pretty Things, Ugly Attachments.

I roasted a chicken last night and I decided to put out a very special tablecloth that I hadn’t dare used since I first scored it at an estate sale over a decade ago…

It was a beautiful late spring morning in Portland and for once I had beat the other early bird pickers, those old-timers who had been doing it since they were kids. I was standing in the lush green yard and asked the lady having the sale if she had any linens? Yes, she said. “I’ll buy them all.” I learned that early on. There’s no time to ask how much, just claim them! Seconds later one of my main competitors showed up. I have to tell you that this part of picking is the most fun…that is, when you are the one winning! The woman having the sale proceeded to bring out gigantic boxes stacked with vintage, never used linens! She only wanted $15 for everything! This competitor in particular is very good-natured, not all of them are, and she was shaking her head but also smiling for me. It was Christmas for weeks at home as I sorted through them all. I sold most since that was a side hustle for me but the very special pieces I’ve kept, like the tablecloth I used last night.

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Yankee Thrift isn’t always about frugality!

Doesn’t the man on this vintage marketing piece for a Thermo Pride furnace look like Tom Netheron from The Lawrence Welk Show? Speaking of which, PBS isn’t showing it for the next three Saturday nights in a row! What will we do?! Anyway this is an actual part of the paperwork that came with my Thermo Pride furnace installed 31 years ago. When the housing inspector walked around my home before I purchased it he made a point to tell me that it could possibly last forever. When I looked up and met the original owners of my 1950 home and had them over the husband, Len beamed with so much pride when he stood in front of it. I can still see his big smile as he said: “It’s the Cadillac of furnaces!” I told him how I truly appreciated it since I was enjoying its comforting, reliable service. He was not the type of man who bought Cadillacs or flashy things, but he was an old time Mainer who knows the value of a dollar and when it’s prudent to spend more.

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Hot and Steamy Valentine’s Day Preparations

I’ve just set the table for Valentine’s Day weekend (we can stretch that day out!) after I ironed a vintage red and white gingham linen tablecloth. I enjoy ironing old linens and the sound of the steam, it’s relaxing. I’ll be pairing red-colored cake decorations that are absent of artificial coloring: ruby chocolate and wild Italian cherries that come in a beautiful ceramic jar I plan to save and reuse. This morning I crafted my recipe for our Valentine cake that will use organic beet juice for coloring the batter. I’ve also been admiring some old Valentines…

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Recipe: Cast Iron Skillet Oven Roasted Rebel Chicken

Pictured is the dinner I made last night and it was outstanding! The breast meat was exceptionally tasty and tender as were the legs. The carrot’s sweetness was enhanced and the potatoes were soft and rich. As a bonus there was a nice pan gravy to pour over it all. I used a 4 1/2 pound LaBelle-Patrimoine Heritage chicken, organic carrots and organic yellow potatoes roasted in a vintage 13″ cast iron skillet. The chicken did not come trussed (legs tied together) and I didn’t have any twine on hand so I decided to wing it and prepare the bird in her un-lady like position. This ending up working to my advantage and you’ll see why in my recipe I’m sharing with you here.

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Frank Sinatra: Dark Songs for Enlightened People

My vinyl gets the most play in the wee short days of the New Year through early spring, and yesterday I spent the afternoon listening to Watertown on repeat. Of course with vinyl you can’t just set it and forget it; you have to pick yourself up to flip it or start it all over again. It’s a good preventive measure for becoming glued to one’s couch.

I first heard Watertown while driving up north to the Maine Wildlife Park two Novembers ago. I was surprised that it was new to me since I own most of Sinatra’s albums and have been a fan for decades thanks to my father, a life-long fan. Sinatra is the only artist who can bring me to tears and I love him for it!

“Dressed in memories, you are what you used to be…”

The common theme that runs through his darkest of albums is vibrantly alive in Watertown only the heart Sinatra shares is of a small-town variety vs the glam larger-than-life man. Both ache just as deeply so does it matter? This album has all of the beauty and sadness of a warm late fall afternoon in Maine. You know as you listen to the album that the hope of being reunited with his wife who left him alone with their two kids is all going to be blown away, like those past peak sepia-tone November leaves still hanging on…

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