Category Archives: Halloween

(Many) Shoes and (Pumpkin) Pie

Hi, my name is Wink and I used to blog with frequency. I’ve been with the busy, however, what with this whole the-boyfriend-is-moving-in dealio, as well as filling my free time with helping a local estate liquidation company organize and price a hoarder house for an upcoming sale. Since we last met…

That there above-mentioned boyfriend* moved in. He didn’t bring a lot of Things into the household, but what he did bring was Not Small. We had his parents over for dinner last night, which forced the issue of (finally) organizing the living and dining rooms. They look pretty dang good right now, at the expense of the guest room and basement. Which currently look an awful lot like the hoarder house I’ve been working in.

The hoarder house. Whatever you’re picturing, it’s wrong. This house is in an upper-middle-class neighborhood, and was inhabited by an upper-middle-class couple. For decades, these were “normal,” rational people. And then, about 10 or so years ago, the woman cracked. In a ceaseless attempt to fill that crack, she bought stuff. Lots of stuff. Lots and lots and lots of stuff. In fact, during the last couple of years, she bought so much stuff and with such frequency that she didn’t always have the time to remove the price tags or even take items out of their shopping bags before heading out to buy more stuff. A professional organizer was hired to help deal with all the stuff, which only wound up making more room for more stuff. Which she filled. And then she died. Leaving behind a husband who had grown accustomed to living in a smaller and smaller space, and a hell of a lot of stuff. So the husband moved out and said “to hell with all of this stuff.”

I’ve been to estate sales described as hoarder homes, and I’m always disappointed (?) that they don’t look like the dark, magazine-and-newspaper addled homes that I’ve seen flash by on the news. (I hear there are a few different reality shows that focus on hoarders, but I’ve never seen one so I can’t compare.) I now know how much work goes into clearing those homes out so people can actually walk around in the space. Which seems obvious, but I never did put 2 and 2 together. For two or three weeks now, we’ve been going through this house room by room, clearing out the receipts and tissue paper and shopping bags (we filled a roll-off Dumpster) and trying our best to organize and price the remaining clothing and shoes and furniture and DVDs and artwork and cosmetics and collectible figurines and avoiding altogether the packed-to-the-rafters basement, which will have to be an entirely separate sale.

So anyway, if you live in the greater Denver area, you should really swing by this sale. We’re running the first half (pre-basement) for four days, and while the selection will be greatest on Wednesday (day 1), I can guarantee that there will still be plenty left on Saturday (day 4). Everything is in like-new (or brand-spanking-still-with-tags-new) condition. In an interesting twist, when we finally worked our way into the husband’s home office, we found that it was loaded with antique books and historical artifacts from his family. So this sale has the brand new AND the very old!

Above-mentioned pie: I’d stopped in at Dollar Tree for something or other, and was greeted at the door by a display of canned pumpkin. Canned pumpkin! For a dollar! How could I pass that up? Pumpkin pie is super easy to make, especially when using a store-bought Graham cracker crust (which I knew I had in the pantry), so I whipped one up. A week later, I made an eggnog cake for no reason other than I had some eggnog in the house. I’m crafty that way.

A few posts back, I’d mentioned that I was going to have to start meal planning now that there are two mouths to feed. I’ve been doing it, and it’s surprisingly easy so far. I understand how it might get tedious over time, but so far, so good. This week we’ll be eating a lot of recipes that call for fresh tarragon because I needed it for one recipe and you can only buy one size package which is enough for, like, four different recipes. I used it last night to make the béarnaise sauce required for Sautéed Steak, Henri IV, my very first attempt at a Julia Child recipe. It was delicious and pretty easy, if a bit fussy to plate. Tonight we’ll dine on Fluffy Cracked Wheat With Mustard And Tarragon, and tomorrow I’ll roast up some tarragon chicken.

Part of the meal planning adventure includes serving up something every Wednesday from one of my many vintage cookbooks, and we’re two for two so far. On Halloween I cooked up an Irish Stew (or, since it was Halloween after all, Slaughtered Lamb stew) in ye olde pressure cooker. Actually, I used ye olde (1954) Mirro pressure cooker cookbook, but my spiffy late-model (2011) Cuisinart pressure cooker did the work. I’ve never eaten, let alone made, a lamb stew before, and I have to admit that I am floored by how absofreakinglutely delicious it is! And because pressure cookers are magical things, I went from raw veggies in need of dicing to hot stew ladled into a bowl in just about an hour.

The following Wednesday, I turned to my copy of 641 Tested Recipes from the Sealtest Kitchens for something a little less meat-centric and more retrotastic. I had hardly flipped through the pages when I came across Peppy Cottage Cheese Peppers (“A man’s main dish”) and knew that I had the week’s winner. Green peppers, stuffed with a mixture of rice (I used brown), cottage cheese, sautéed onion, tomato sauce, a bit of Worcestershire sauce, and topped with diced bacon. Not vegetarian, but at least it wasn’t based on meat. And while the squishy pink filling in the peppers looked dubious going into the oven, this turned out to be another will-make-again recipe.

My selection for this week is something called Applesauce Meatballs (Sunset Cook Book of Favorite Recipes, 1949), and I’ll have to report back with the results at a later date. I plan to serve them up with a side of spaghetti squash seasoned with, you guessed it, fresh tarragon. If there’s still any tarragon left at that point, I’ll put it in a small bottle of vinegar to steep for future use.

And on that note: until next time, my dearest readers!

*For the first time in 12 years, someone else did my laundry yesterday. IT IS DELIGHTFUL.

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Filed under collections, day job, food, Halloween, holidays, kitchen, life-threatening clutter, reviews, romance, relationships, shoes, vintage

That moment when…

Gingerbread cupcakes with buttercream brains.

It’s Thursday night and you’re baking festive cupcakes for a party the next night and at the same time you’re boiling a roasted chicken carcass to make stock and then it’s Friday and you go to work and you go to the party (and you don’t forget the cupcakes) and Saturday you spend most of the day moving your boyfriend’s stuff into your house and then there’s a costume party and Sunday you spend the whole day moving more of your boyfriend’s stuff in and the house is a bigger wreck than usual and you spend all of Monday trying to get a grip on reorganizing furniture and clothing and wall art and you’re barely making a dent but you at least get the living room chairs out of the kitchen and that’s when you realize…

…that you never strained, let alone refrigerated, that chicken stock. The pot is still sitting on the stove. Since Thursday. And you pour the whole thing out. Because it may smell delicious (and it does) but 4-days-at-room-temperature chicken stock is probably how the zombie uprising will begin.

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Mond…TUESDAY Rounderp!

You never call, you never write. Oh wait, that’s me. I skipped a whole week (plus) and you said nothing. Nothing at all. I will assume that this is because you are all so polite, and not because you simply didn’t notice.

The last 10 days, in summary: stuff and things, things and stuff.

Winners!

The Highlights

  1. Hey, remember my other “family” over at Reminisicin’ Racing? The last race of the season was held on Saturday, and not only did Reminiscin’ and her sister, Mile-Hi Flyer, finish first and second in the day’s races, but they finished out the season #1 and #2 in points. And there was much rejoicing!
  2. Throw another hat on the stack; I’m now working part-time for a local estate sale company. I know you’ll ask: Yes, I do get first dibs on stuff, but I pay full price and I have to be nice to every jerk who shows up on every day of the sale. There are far more nice people than jerks, but if you’ve ever been to an estate sale as a buyer, you know the people I’m talking about (arguing about prices, “secretly” switching price tags [we know], and/or flat-out rude). Also, my very first sale as an employee was in a mountain home that has been vacant for many months, meaning its corners and recesses were riddled with mouse poo. I went through a small bottle of hand sanitizer in three days. Yuck!
  3. My rack of unlisted stock for Tiddleywink is still packed as full as it can get, but I kinda sorta wound up with yet more stuff for you because my dear friend Erin of Theda Bara’s Vintage Boudoir and I just had to go shopping yesterday. I also acquired 4 more foofy wedding dresses that would fill up the whole rack on their own anyway. If any of my local readers can help me with the overwhelming task of photographing (and/or measuring) all this stuff, I pay in home-cooked food! Or maybe one of these lovely vintage coats! Help! ::buried under vintage clothing::

Coming Up

For the immediate future, my Thurs/Fri/Saturdays will be spent working at estate sales. Between the on-site hours and the travel time, those days are pretty much used up, and with fitting in design/production work on my days “off,” I won’t likely be able to post to the blog every weekday as I have been. Particularly if I ever want to list new items to Tiddleywink or Winkorama again! I’m once again running out of time to get the Christmas crafts magazines listed in enough time for you guys to actually craft from them, so it’s a priority I really need to work into my schedule. Tomorrow sounds good, right? Tomorrow it is! In the meantime, you can follow my daily “antics” visually via Instagram, where I’m @ampersandwich. If you don’t have an Instagram account, you can instead follow along at Followgram, where there’s an RSS link to make things easy.

And with that, I’m off to start putting up Halloween décor and to rummage the pantry for dinner. Until tomorrow, dear readers!

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Filed under day job, friends, Halloween, holidays, life-threatening clutter, shopping, vintage

Welcome. Now leave.

Messy Stuff: My life is a bit upside-down right now. That’s all you need to know, but it’s why I’ve been generally absent from all of my usual online activities. And from a bunch of in-person stuff too. Now go away.

Oh, wait. I invited you here by writing this. Okay. Well, then. Umm…

One Thing: The catalog project that a friend and I have been contracted for is finally reaching the point where enough copy is written and photography is completed that the thing is starting to look darn good, if I may say so. Many-many-many thanks to my partner-slash-boss, who is so very skilled at Tetris-ing seemingly impossible demands into visually stimulating layouts. Also, we did three straight days of studio photography with about 300 babies/toddlers (okay, more like 19) and I didn’t break out in hives. Also, I learned that I am damn good at putting together flat-pack furniture. I suppose it comes from years of decorating my living spaces on a college student’s budget, which was all I had to work with even many years out of college. Perhaps my next tattoo should be of a set of Allen wrenches (hex keys to some of you).

Another Thing: I’m still toying with the idea of selling off my shop‘s inventory to any interested vintage vendors. Or of hoarding what I have, buying (with what money?) as much as I can get my hands on, and opening a brick-and-mortar location (also, with what money?). Which is 13 shades of crazy, but finding meaningful full-time employment working for someone else has been, let’s be generous and say: difficult. What I would love is to work at a vintage store, if it would pay enough to cover my living expenses. Which are pretty low, if I don’t maintain a savings account or 401k or, you know, eat.*

Also: I promise that I have more fun stuff to list in the shop as soon as I am no longer Trapped Under Something Heavy. Thank you for your patience, and let me know if you’re looking for anything specific. I may have it in my unlisted inventory, you never know. Well, you know when you ask.

And Then: I never intended to leave Twitter for so long, but I was surprised by how much I don’t miss it. I still plan to come back, but with a greatly thinned Follow list. As soon as I figure out how to do that, because I only follow accounts that I actually care about in the first place. Some of you need to shut the hell up a bit, though. A good copy writer once told me, “pretend every word costs a dime.” Which is a bit of advice that, if you read my blog posts (and you do, obviously, because you’re reading this) you know that I myself often ignore.

For Drewseph: Hi! Halloween is coming. Which means that Halloween Costuming Blog Posts are coming. Plotting is afoot, and a couple of preliminary purchases have been made, but that particular plan may be out the window already. Time will tell.

When All Of A Sudden: It is entirely likely that a certain red (mostly) headed friend will come over today to help me re-dye my horrifically ignored hair, which has been neither cut nor colored since my beloved Lacey worked her magic on me for Viva. Which, if you don’t recall, was the first weekend in April. Do the math. It’s not pretty.

Th-th-th-that’s all Folks. See you soon. Maybe.

____________

*Cheese, I love cheese, rahhlly I do. And I love cheese that costs $24.99/lb. although I don’t BUY cheese that costs $24.99/lb. Not while I’m so precariously underemployed, I don’t.

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Filed under food, friends, Halloween, tattoo

as promised: pro photos

The umbrella was NOT part of the costume, but a fun prop in the studio!

Ah-ha! The link for the pro photos from Halloween 2009: The Future Is Now has been posted. Feast your eyes on this slide show from Peek Photography, our wonderful and hard-working hosts.

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Filed under friends, Halloween, holidays, sewing

This (was) Halloween

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Present at the “The Future” themed Halloween party:

  • Ripley and Kane (Alien)
  • Obama Christ
  • Dr. Who
  • Axiom passenger (Wall•E)
  • Miss Galaxie 1959 (yeah, that was me)
  • Star Trek TOS and TNG
  • Terminators
  • Jayne, Inara, and the “Two by two, hands of blue” guys (Firefly)
  • Seth Gecko and Santanico Pandemonium (From Dusk Til Dawn)
  • OctoMummy and her archeologist
  • 2012, uh, “ascenders”
  • My New Bikini Body (STAR magazine cover)
  • Illegal Aliens (aliens in convict stripes)
  • Fortune teller
  • Robot vampires
  • Pigs In Space
  • Jessica 6 (Logan’s Run)
  • Zombie (only one!)
  • Jane Jetson
  • a few others, yeesh!

Snapshots taken by me, @jgamet, and @lesafumi are posted on my flickr page. Professional photos to come later. Also, stay tuned for photos from my current client’s office Halloween party, which was postponed due to snow and is being held this coming week!

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On Costuming

My friend Erin and I met, through mutual friends, at a roller derby bout. I’m usually terrible at remembering names/faces, but Erin’s hair was such a luminous, platinum blonde, that I was able to pick her out from the crowd of people I’d met that night when we all met up at a bar post-bout. And, unlike most people who meet briefly at a single social event, she remembered me, as well. When Erin hosted a Mary Kay party to support a coworker, I attended. In fact, Megan and I went together, dressed in our Tupperware Party best.

We made an impression that night.

Not too long later, Erin asked if I would like to accompany her on some Halloween shopping. It was probably late August or early September, so that sounded like a great idea to me. I didn’t know that “normal” people thought that was perhaps a little early. We spent all day driving around and shopping. Michael’s, Flossie McGrew’s, the wig boutique on the 16th Street Mall, one of those temporary Halloween stores, which was still setting out boxes. All day. And we only stopped because we didn’t want to worry Erin’s husband.

We clicked.

In the realm of people I’ve been friends with in my life, I have always been the costumiest. And while I’d known Megan and Joe for a few years before they introduced me to Erin, I somehow had never attended a costume function with them. I Didn’t Know. Now, out of the four of us, I am probably the least costumiest. I have grand ideas, but I cut corners. The three of them, however, spare no expense, cut no corners, and give up all sorts of activities for the sake of Creating. All of us insist on designing our own costumes. I did see Megan in a packaged costume ONCE, but I knew how much effort she had put into Joe’s costume that year, and it was totally understandable. We’re not unreasonable people.

When people ask me what our deal is, I have a hard time explaining it. I know that we love to get dressed up, but the four of us do that as frequently as possible. Dinner, cocktails, numerous parties during the year. Every event is an opportunity to polish up. Maybe it’s because we’re all designers, but for us, the beauty is in the actual creation, from our own hands, of a completely new person (place or thing). We get absorbed in the details. The illusion won’t fly if something is wrong. We’re not alone in our beliefs. Erica and Jeff joined us this year, making sure that Doctor Horrible’s weaponry was just right, and that Captain Hammer was so complete that he carried a wallet-size photo of Penny with him, lovingly signed on the back. Desha and Jon came as Bladerunner‘s Priss and Roy, and Jon was so bold as to bleach his hair and wax his chest for the role. In the world outside my own, Wil Wheaton mentioned on Twitter, “In the Halloween section, Target tries to pass off what is CLEARLY an Orc Barbarian sword as a ‘Giant Ninja’ sword. I weep for the children.” And early on Saturday morning, Andy Ihnatko posted this to flickr. It’s everything I’ve wanted to say to people who want to join in the fun, but are intimidated (or lazy). Being written by Andy, it’s better than anything I could say. My geeky cyber-heroes, you are gods among men.

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Filed under friends, Halloween, holidays, sewing, shopping