Saturday, December 20, 2014

Tourist in My Own Town

Last weekend we had some warmer weather in Chicagoland, so I decided to knock off one of the items on my 40 before 41 list and collect some Mold-A-Rama figures that I didn't have. (They are plastic blow mold souvenirs, similar in popularity to those pressed penny machines you see around.)

My first stop was the Willis(formerly Sears) Tower, where the goal was to get a blue mold of the Chicago Skyline and a mold of the tower itself. They are in the Skydeck gift shop on the lower level, but you do not have to purchase an admission to go to the gift shop. Once you go through security, you can ask to be guided through to the gift shop. I personally chose this option, mostly because I am terrified of heights, but also because there was a good deal of fog that day and there was zero visibility on the Skydeck.

My next stop was the Christkindlemarket and Macy's to look at the window displays. Word of advice: do not go to Christkindlemarket on the weekend. Seriously. I was there right when it opened, and you could barely move in there. 

After looking at the Macy's windows, I walked up Michigan Avenue to Water Tower Place for a white skyline mold. 

The machine is located on the seventh floor in the Sports Museum gift shop, next to Harry Caray's. Just look for the Holy Cow.  ;)

Next stop was Lincoln Park Zoo, so I hopped on the bus. I was on the hunt for a green Santa Claus mold in particular, since this is the only time of the year I can get holiday-themed molds.

I found the Santa in the primate house, and made a couple for myself and for possible trading purposes. In the process, I caused several parental headaches when their kids saw how cool these machines are, and started demanding their own Santas. 

Santa acquired! I also picked up the orange piggy bank mold they have in the children's zoo while I was there.

Five new Mold-A-Ramas for my collection! There are several more locations in Chicago for me to visit to be up-to-date on all of the molds, but the rest require museum/zoo admissions. I'd say this was a pretty successful outing, though, wouldn't you?

Holiday Craftacular we are a month later. {sigh} Anyway, over Thanksgiving weekend I headed north to Madison, WI for the Holiday Craftacular, hosted by The Glitter Workshop. This is a really great juried handmade market, and I am always honored to be a part of it. 

I experimented a little with my booth this time around, as I had brought my varsity letter pillows along.

After the crowd lightened up a bit, I was able to walk around a little and take a look at some of the other booths:

Super cute fabric trees and holiday terrariums, unfortunately I misplaced their card, so I can't link to their shop. I'll update this post when I find it.

Big River Woodworks had these really cool cutting boards and ornaments.

Naomi of The Glitter Workshop always has the cutest crocheted toadstool ornaments and amigurumi.

Another booth that I misplaced the card for. But how cute are these stuffed owls?

Yummy cupcakes from Sweet Hartley's.

Craftacular happens a couple of times a year, their next one is in February and is free to attend. If you're in the Madison area, I highly recommend stopping in!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Kolacky Day

Last Friday, the women in my family got together for our annual "kolacky day," where we make massive amounts of tiny Polish cookies for our family gatherings.

Cookie filling: prune & apricot are the traditional flavors, thankfully other flavors were added over the years, because otherwise I would never eat kolacky.  ;)

 My mom & aunts rolling dough 

 Gramma filling cookies

 One of my finished sheets of kolacky. I am a kolacky-filling machine!

Recipe for Kolacky(makes 12 doz.)

Dough: 8oz cream cheese
2 sticks margarine or butter
2 1/2 cups flour
dash of salt

Filling: prune, apricot, almond, strawberry, or cherry pie filling, we use Solo brand.

Cream together cheese, margarine & salt. Add flour and work into a dough.
Wrap in wax paper & refrigerate overnight.
Roll dough to about 1/8 inch thickness and cut into 2 1/2 inch squares(or use diamond cookie cutter).
Place 1/2 tsp. of filling in center of squares and fold over two opposite corners. Press corners together so they don't pop open while baking. 
Bake at 425ºF for 5-7 minutes, keeping an eye on them so they won't burn. Let cool.
Sprinkle with powdered sugar.  {Family kolacky motto: "Powdered sugar hides a lot."}

{The cookies can be assembled and frozen until ready to bake, just make sure they are on wax paper so they don't stick together.}

Thursday, November 20, 2014

40 before 41

Hmm. I just noticed that the last time I wrote on this blog was the beginning of October. {sigh} 

*Anyway*... I turned 40 this year, and had decided to do a "39 before 40" bucket list, since 40 is a milestone birthday. Well, as bad of a blogger I am, I am worse at to-do lists...I didn't finish.  Not a single thing. 

So I decided to try again this year. I also decided to make the items simpler and more attainable, such as "write one blog post a week." {......Umm....}

I *did* manage to complete two of the items on the list over this past month, the first was going to my cousin's Halloween party, and I convinced my sister to go with me. I recycled my Fourth Doctor costume from last year, and she went as a killer nurse. 

I also reconnected with a friend that I hadn't spoken to in possibly a year. I was cruising around in Target, and came across this DVD set that made me think of her, so I sent her a picture:

We ended up having a text conversation, which was a little awkward, but was really great. So, in the spirit of successful completion of THE LIST, here are some of my "40 before 41" goals:

1. Write one blog post a week.
2. Eat at five new restaurants.
3. Visit one state I've never been to before.
4. Learn how to knit.
5. Sew something wearable.
6-9. Spend a day at each of the following: the Field Museum, the Shedd, the Art Institute, and the Museum of Science & Industry.
10. Discover how to make chicken & dumplings the way my grandmother made them.
11. Go to a drive-in movie.
12. Clean up my iTune library.
13. Read two new books a month.
14. Watch 1 new movie a week.
15. Purge & organize.
16. Take Tai Chi at the park district.
17. Lose 50lbs. {Trust me, it's there.}
18. Figure out eyeliner. It's about time.

{I realize that this is only about half of the actual list, but these are the ones I'm comfortable sharing with the universe.}

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Adventures in Mid-Century Shelving

I attended an estate sale recently to look at this great mid-century shelving unit that I spotted in the listing's photos. It was great price, so it came home with me.

 This pic was taken in the driveway of the estate sale home. I was generously given help outside, but I was on my own from there. Thankfully, this thing comes apart and I was able to borrow a screwdriver. 

When I got home, I lugged in each of the pieces inside and up the stairs to my bedroom. 

These cabinet  pieces were *really* heavy! I had horrible visions of falling down the stairs and being crushed by the larger one. At least I wouldn't have had to worry about feeding the dogs, they could have just snacked on me. ;)

I managed to survive getting everything upstairs and went about putting the shelf back together. Somewhere during this process I learned that the doors came off....

 That would have been useful information *before* I lugged them up the stairs....

Anyway, here is the finished product. I think it looks great, and is perfect for my TV and assorted electronics. (And yes, I do have assorted geekery in my room.)

Monday, October 6, 2014


This past weekend my sister and I went to the Kane County Flea Market in St. Charles, IL. Despite being cold, crummy weather, and the absence of many of the outside vendors due to the weather, it actually turned out to be my best visit ever!  

 Me on Sunday with my finds, they'll be showing up in the shop this week.

My favorite seller wasn't open due to the bizarre snow/rain mix that was coming down, so I told him I would come back tomorrow when he was set up. He always gives me great deals and is a riot to talk to. 

My friend Stephanie of Calamity Layne Vintage had a booth in one of the buildings, so I stopped by to say Hi.  She has great vintage clothing in her Etsy shop, and you can find out more about her and her partners in crime on the Betties N Brimstone blog.

The best part of this flea market trip was a find for one of my personal collections. I collect horse figurines, and usually look for ones by Hagen-Renaker, a pottery in California. As my sister and I were walking around one of the buildings, she pointed to a table and said "horses." I glanced over and noticed a horse that didn't look like the usual plastic Breyers that are commonly found.  I made my way over and found this lovely lady:

She is a large "Zara" Arabian mare figurine, originally produced in the 1950's, and they're pretty hard to come by. When they do come up for sale, they fetch several hundreds of dollars, and it's not unheard of for one to reach $1000 on eBay. My cost? Under $100. She is in perfect condition and has her original name sticker.

There are several of my fellow collectors looking for the same things I do at this flea market, so I generally never expect to find anything. But the crummy weather, my favorite seller not being set up, one fellow collector not arriving when the flea opened, and so many other happy coincidences resulted in my adding this gem to my collection. Serendipity. :)

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Vintage & Handmade for Babies

Last weekend my sister and I attended a baby shower for my aunt Sarah. I had volunteered to take care of the party games, and I will admit I had an ulterior motive:

She who runs the games, does not have to participate in the games. (insert evil grin here)

One of the games I chose was "Name That Baby Food", in which everyone had to taste various baby foods to identify them. 

Do you know how hard it is to find *single* flavors of baby foods? It's a bit of a pain. Apparently everything is now a combination or pairing of foods. After a period of time I considered much too long staring at baby food jars, I was able to find a variety of single flavors. I picked up one combo food just for fun. (insert second evil grin here)

The infamous Jar Eight-I probably should have warmed that one up first.

After the torture session party games, Sarah opened her gifts. I had found a copy of Dr. Spock from 1957, so I included that with some super cute baby clothes.  I also wrapped it in cute vintage paper(which I now have to send the rest of to Sarah because I taped it and ruined the part she wanted to save-oops). 


My sister, however, went all out. She made this amazing quilt(which turned out larger than originally planned, but that just means the baby can grow into it).  She did an amazing job, and Sarah loved it!

The goofy flower is there to block out the baby's name for privacy.

I love vintage and handmade gifts, it adds a personal touch that can sometimes be lacking in modern day, mass-produced items.