Tag Archives: frugality

Yard Sales…The Thrill of Victory and the Agony of The Feet…

Here’s an archive post originally published March 30, 2010 (if you’ve received two notifications of this, I apologize – I’m reposting it for the second time today, because I don’t think the e-mail notifications worked the first time):

The best yard sale ad I ever saw was in a Moncton newspaper many years ago…it gave the pertinent details of the sale, followed by this: “Early birds will be ignored.”  My kind of vendor!  There’s nothing more frustrating than arriving at a sale at the advertised start time, only to find that vultures have picked all the best meat off the bones!

I’ve been going to yard sales/house sales/flea markets/auctions since I was small…we’d get up many Saturday mornings, and head for a nearby farm auction.  At one of these, my brother and I decided we’d really like to have a calf, but Dad convinced us that our mom would have a COW if he came home with one!  On Sunday drives, I remember us sitting in the car as Mom looked angrily at her watch waiting for Dad to stop talking to some stranger who had something to sell (my mom caught the yard sale bug much later in life, after she started collecting and selling Sherman jewellery).  In the late ’70’s, Dad started setting up his own stall at flea markets (he collected sealers and pretty much anything to do with farming, as well as books).

Forty years later, I still like calves, but don't really want one any more...

After I was married and had kids, going yard-saling was an inexpensive outing for a Saturday…we lived in Moncton and didn’t have a car then…we walked to all the sales we attended.  I’d set the alarm early, pack up the kids, and off we’d go, with a carefully-planned list of sales we wanted to get to and their start times.  I mostly bought books, clothes and toys then, although I would keep my eyes open for bells/wooden boxes for my mom’s collections.

We moved to Saint John in late 1997, and continued our yard-saling habit…since opening the bookstore in the summer of 2000, we also started looking for old/local books on our Saturday mornings.  We go to the Sussex Flea Market every summer, where over 1000 vendors set up outside to sell everything from antlers to zinnias.  I started training my middle daughter, Anna, how to “pick” old books at age 8, and today, at 15, she definitely has “the eye”…she knows what to take and what to leave behind!

I picked up this little book "Mary Queen of Scots" for 10 cents...it's listed online for $20!

I even yard-sale on vacation…I was in Belleville, Ontario for a college reunion, and went to a few sales in the east end where the beautiful old homes are.  Lying on the grass, I spied a beautiful Native Canadian print that I wanted as a gift for my best friend, who is of aboriginal descent.   As I leaned over to pick it up, someone with faster fingers snatched it out from under me…after shooting her a look that should have caused her to at least feel faint (it didn’t seem to have any effect), I let her have it…

I was tramping around the West Side of Saint John, when I found a gorgeous pen and ink drawing of a farmhouse – I liked it because it reminded me of my grandma’s house.  The problem was that it was huge – about 2′ x 3′, and I was on foot.  It was also in the most hideous frame I’d ever seen, with floral wallpaper acting as a homemade mat.  I asked the woman how much it was – $8!  I told myself that I would go to one more sale around the corner and then come back…if the drawing was still there, I’d buy it and call a cab to get home.  I was lucky that day…I forked over the money and took my prize home.  The next day, I called my friend, Amy, who has a frame shop on the West Side, Amy’s Custom Framing.  We made a barter deal for a proper frame and mat – $150 worth.  Amy did a beautiful job on the artwork, and I hung it over the fireplace in my living room.  I’ve never been able to determine the artist’s name – I assume it’s local though.

Since moving to Hammond River a little over a year ago, yard-saling has been more difficult…I don’t have a driver’s license, and Jim doesn’t like getting up early.  However, I was able to make the rounds at the Quispamsis Community Yard Sale last spring.  He even started to get into it, especially after one lady started giving us stuff!  I was buying a computer chair ($10) from her, and Jim had two routers ($2 each).  She pointed out the “free pile,” which contained a dehumidifier and two boxes of computer network cable that Jim said were sold retail for about $1 a foot!  We grabbed them!  Other finds that day were an apple peeler for $3; a gooseneck pole lamp for $5; two non-stick muffin pans for $1 each; a laptop bag for $2 for my stepdaughter, Brianna; a pair of Robeez baby shoes for $5 and a nursing pillow for $4 for my unborn granddaughter; and several books.  My daughters, Anna and Hope, got a High School Musical dance game.   Hope even picked up a stuffed teddy bear for our dog, Jake, which he wasted no time destroying!  A month or so later, we went to the Hampton Community Yard Sale, and got a good haul of books, but not much else.

"The best apple peeler ever!" according to my stepson, Devin...

I’m looking forward to the sales again this year…it will be a lot easier getting our purchases into the back of the van instead of the Corolla!


Filed under memories, shopping

No Use Crying Over Spoilt Milk…

According to a current TV commercial for a food storage product, the average American family throws away about $500 worth of food every year.  I’m not anal about many things, but wasted food drives me crazy!

When we were kids, I remember my brother, who was about 3 or 4 at the time, being told to sit at the table until he’d eaten all his peas (which were canned and gross!).  Stubbornness runs in the Shoots family…I’m sure Jeff sat there for quite a while before my mom gave up!

Jeff fooling around with his balloon boat as his peas get colder...

I don’t take quite such a hard line with our kids…I usually tell them that if they’re not going to eat something, not to put it on their plate.  If they leave food out on the counter, I get right after them and tell them to put it away!

When Hope called me at the bookstore a couple of days ago to ask me what to do with a carton of sour milk, I told her to leave it for me, and I would look after it.  It wasn’t just “sour milk”…it was lactose-free sour milk, which costs roughly twice as much as regular milk!

Yesterday, I made a chocolate cinnamon cake, and a sour cream cake (because my stepson, Devin, doesn’t like chocolate cake).  This used about 1 and 2/3 cups of the sour milk (didn’t make much of a dent in 2 quarts!).  I resolved to find a recipe for buttermilk rolls to use some more of it.

Chocolate Cinnamon Cake...

Sour Cream Cake Decorated by Anna...

Off I went to my trusty “Joy of Cooking,” where, on page 563, there was a recipe for “Buttermilk Rolls or Fan Tans.”  According to the introduction, “Rolls prepared in this way need not be buttered” – that’s my kind of roll! 

I mixed the dough in the manner specified and put it in a “lightly-greased bowl” to rise.  It was a lot stickier than the usual bread dough I use…

After the dough had doubled, I went back to the instructions:  they said to divide the dough in half, and roll each part into a square about 1/8″ thick.  That was my first problem…anybody who has ever rolled out dough knows that trying for a square shape is almost impossible!  I came as close as I could!

I brushed the “square” with melted butter as directed.  The next part said, “Cut into strips 1 1/2″ wide.  Stack them.  There should be from 6 to 8 layers of strips stacked.”  What they don’t mention is that the strips stick to the knife and they stick to the rolling surface.  When one picks them up to stack them, they stretch, stick to your fingers, and then fall over once the stack is high enough!

By the time I got to the next step, I was ready to tear out my hair: “Cut off pieces about 1 1/2″ wide, with a string, as shown below.  Place them in buttered muffin tins, with the cut edges up.”  Below that was a line drawing of delicate fingers slicing through a neat stack of dough with a tiny string.  Mine didn’t look anything like that…being fresh out of string, I grabbed the knife and sliced my toppled stack into chunks, peeled them off the table, and chucked them into the muffin pans (which at least I didn’t have to grease, because they were non-stick!).

Buns Before Cooking...(photo by Jim)

I covered the pans to wait for the rolls to rise again…an hour later, I put them in the oven.  I thought that 425 degrees seemed hot, so set my oven at 375, and crossed my fingers!  Twenty minutes later, I pulled my rolls out of the oven…success!  I’ll serve them for Easter dinner tomorrow.

Buns fresh from the oven...(photo by Jim)

In the morning, I’ll make buttermilk pancakes for breakfast…

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Filed under cooking, memories