Tag Archives: the home

Candy Season: The Authier Family’s Tricky Treats

29 Oct

It’s FREE candy season, a celebration I still FREEly take part in, even as an adult because I cannot turn down free treats. Doesn’t matter if I’m not hungry or if I already have a bellyache from the free treats I consumed moments earlier. If there’s a bowl of Sweet Tarts or a popcorn ball or even those gross black and orange wrapped half-taffy/half-regurgitated peanut things, I’m going to eat them all because somewhere in the back of my mind there’s a 7-year-old dressed up like a cat for the third year in a row screaming, “TAKE THE CANDY! FREE CANDY! HOARD IT AND PULL OUT THE NAME-BRAND PIECES AT LUNCH TO IMPRESS PEOPLE!”

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Pop the Bubbly: Cheap and Distracting Fun for Kids

16 Aug

You’ve been to the zoo, the farmer’s market, the fireworks, and the water park. You tried to start a fun summer school thing, but it never really took off after the nature walk lesson you planned where it took you a half hour just to get everyone sunscreened and bug-sprayed and the neighbor kid complained the whole time and no one could find the right shape of leaf to trace and you ended up getting them ice cream in the hopes that they would become lethargic enough to pass out on the sun-porch while you dabbed calomine lotion on your mosquito bites and cried to yourself.

If the only activity you’ve got left up your sleeve is crossing off the calendar days until school starts again, if  you started empathizing with Betty Draper when you watch Mad Men on Netflix Watch Instantly,  if you’ve found yourself yelling, “Godblessit, can I just finish my damn wine cooler?”,  then you are officially sick of your kids.

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Ask Thriftfulness: Smell Ya Later?

1 Jul

Patti from Chicago writes:

Q: I’ve been meaning to ask you this.. what can I do with old perfume bottles?  This one is little but I just know there’s something cool I could do with it.  I can’t bring myself to throw it away.

Kind of Smelly in Chicago,


A: Oh Patti, from nostalgic t-shirts to that part of the Kleenex I didn’t get any snot on, I’ve so often uttered the phrase “I can’t bring myself to throw it away.” Especially when it comes to things I’m convinced could have a brilliant “second act”. Just ask my collection of other people’s driveway rocks, or unpaired earrings, or gently used sandwich bags.

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Emotional Record Organizing for Lovers

28 Apr

“Beautiful music evokes sentimental memories and a nostalgia that can recapture tender nuggets of romance”. I picked that up from the liner notes in my copy of Jackie Gleason Presents Music to Make You Misty. It’s super cheesy and the woman on the cover of the album quite obviously has droplets of dried Elmer’s glue on her face as a stand-in for real tears, but Mr. Gleason has a point. Songs can sway your mood or help you really dig into your current one. Feeling like you might rob a liquor store just to get out of this godforsaken town? You’ll be humming Springsteen when you do. Getting ready for a job interview, an awkward breakup, or anything else that feels epic at the time? Something by Queen will suffice. Boxing up your ex’s crap? May I suggest “You Better Call Tyrone“?

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Momma Musta Took the Kodachrome Away: Found Pictures Lamp

14 Mar

A couple of years ago, when I was living in Chicago, I spent a Sunday afternoon strolling the neighborhood garage sales and buying as much as I could carry back to my house for as much money as I had in my pocket which was/is never more than $11. I spend a lot of Sunday afternoons doing this and, since I’ve recently become unemployed, I imagine I’ll spend a lot of Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday afternoons doing it too. But on this particular Sunday, on a tiny corner of a picnic table, was a dirty plastic bag of film negatives with no price-tag. The garage salesman didn’t even look like he recognized them, so he gave them to me for free. It slightly resembled the scene from “Little Shop of Horrors” when Seymour finds Audrey 2. Da doo.

Shang da doo.

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Ask Thriftfulness: Is there such a thing as Comic-Con Chic?

26 Feb

Carrie with a query:

Q: I am a crafty design-lover in need of a creative and diplomatic home solution on the cheap!  I am excited to be moving in with my boyfriend of one and a half years and as we prepare to merge our respective apartments I have run into a tricky dilemma.  I have a deep love of antique thrifted furniture, books, hand-drawn illustrated art, and bright colors.  The focal point of my sweet, geeky, Mac IT specialist boyfriend’s apartment is a hunter green microsuede couch that he proudly purchased at a contemporary furniture emporium.

I fell head over heels for him the day we met, so you could see why I want to make room for both of us in this new home we are creating together.  How can I display his quirky collection of Comic-Con worthy knick knacks that include a few small Japanese-inspired stuffed animals, action figures, a toy rocket, Star Wars Lego ships, and a couple of other things I can’t even put a name to.  Rather than demand he pitch his goofy collection I’m trying to be a good girlfriend and find a creative, delicious design solution.  Any thoughts?

Fell for a Nerd

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Back to the November: Thanksgiving Recap

9 Dec

I know it’s jeeeeest about getting to panic time for the holiday season, at least for us craftsters who planned on hand-whittling the  state birds for each second cousin this year. But if you could all take a moment to think back in time, to those days before you swore off the shopping mall after getting in a fist fight with your sister over Tickle Me Mickey or whatever that thing is; before you stopped speaking with your in-laws over holiday schedule disputes; before you got too drunk at the office Winter Festival party and embarassed yourself again. Way back to a day called Thanksgiving. Ah, weren’t things easier then?

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The Yellow Kitchen Curtain: My Descent into Domestic Madness

11 Nov

“Sometimes I think there are a great many women behind, and sometimes only one, and she crawls around fast and her crawling shakes it all over…” The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

It was 1 AM on Sunday, November 7. But really it was 12 AM…or 2 AM. The time change always screws me up.  So there I was, awake in bed,waiting for my husband-to-be to return from a late-night band gig, and that’s when-as the late great Shel Silverstein would say–the Whatifs crawled inside my ear. What if the dandelion wine we’re serving at our first Thanksgiving is awful? What if the duct-taped rearview mirror on our car falls off? I settled on: What if I left the coffee maker on at work and the building is currently burning down? Yep, that should sufficiently keep me up for the rest of the night.

After googling “Can a Mr. Coffee burn a building down?” (you can find pretty much whatever answer you want to find) for a bit, I decided to put my anxiety about becoming an accidental arsonist to good use by making some cocoa almonds, a delicious snack I saw in a cookbook that I’ve forgotten the title of  (but I’ve added the recipe below). However, as I was standing in my well-lit kitchen at 2 AM (or 1 AM or 3 AM), I noticed we had no curtain on our kitchen window and, of course, immediately began to worry that some creep was watching me coat my nuts in chocolate. Well, it’s only 2 AM (or 1 AM or 3 AM), never too late to make curtains! This way it would make an interesting police report when they arrested me for burning my workplace down: “The suspect was found humming to Patsy Cline and sewing a long curtain to hang next to her oven, presumably so that she could then set her own apartment on fire.”

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You Wanna Be My Second?: Trusty Food Substitutions

9 Oct

Danny Zuko was Kenickie’s backup driver at Thunder Road and won. John Kimble was the sub in Kindergarten Cop and look how much ass he kicked. And Sister Mary Clarence showed us that you don’t even have to be a real nun to fill Lauryn Hill with the light of day (check the rhyyyyyme!) in Sister Act II. Substitutes are doin’ it for themselves.

In my opinion, the same goes for food substitutions. Many times, my tastebuds are bigger than my wallet and I find that the recipes I clipped from various cookbooks and television shows don’t really fit my budget. Or I’d have to buy an ingredient that I’ll only use 2 tablespoons of and then have to waste the rest because I won’t bother to find another recipe to use it in. Or I’m super hungry and I don’t want to run to the store to get one little old ingredient. Broke. Careless. Impatient. What’s new?

It’s at this moment that my eyes light up…because I’ve opened the fridge…and found a round of substitutes that I can recruit to round out my meal/dessert. Bring in the alternates!, I holler. Boyfriend and possibly the neighbors downstairs shake their heads. She’s at it again.

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Paper Bag Writer: TV Lunches

16 Sep

When I was wee, I usually spent my early autumn evenings getting kicked out of the various rooms in my home for various annoying-little-sister atrocities like singing, whining, “I’m telling”, etc. I’d be exiled from both bedrooms where my three older sisters were practicing their marching band instruments, talking on the phone, or dying each other’s hair. Banned from the back porch where my brother constructed intricate Lego metropolises. And shooed out of the dining room so that my father could pay bills without being serenaded with a Patti LaBelle medley or a scene from Gypsy (because it’s weird to have your daughter sing to you in the voice of a vaudeville stripper).

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