Category Archives: reviews

Plans of Planning

NOTE: This post inspired by Pippin & Pearl’s post from this morning.  The opinions expressed are my own, but have been influenced by every wedding I’ve ever attended (or was unable to attend because the couples in question eloped to Las Vegas with little-to-no notice. Aherm.)  

Don't freak out; I was just modeling it for a friend. This was so long ago that I didn't have a mannequin available for such purposes.

Don’t freak out; I was just modeling it for a friend. This was taken before Tiddleywink Vintage had a mannequin available for such purposes.

Someday, I’ll get married. That’s the plan, anyway. And with each wedding at which I’m present, I make mental notes. Band too genre-specific/DJ hiring too stressful: use an iTunes playlist. Awkward, cliquish socializing: invite only your closest friends/relatives. Starving vegetarians: serve at least a 70:30 ratio of meat-free food. Disappointed parents who missed the event due to surprise elopement: just don’t do that. The most down-to-earth, smart, sane people I know getting caught up in the spiral of wedding planning: keep it simple. No, not etch-your-own-beribboned-mason-jars simple, but REALLY simple. Still, it’s a special event, and should be treated accordingly. I think I found what I’ll eventually be looking for in a book I recently enjoyed reading called Let’s Bring Back: An Encyclopedia of Forgotten-Yet-Delightful, Chic, Useful, Curious, and Otherwise Commendable Things from Times Gone By, by Leslie Blume. She writes:

MORNING WEDDINGS The typical American wedding used to follow along these lines: a ceremony in the morning, followed by a wedding breakfast or luncheon at the bride’s parents’ house. The guest list: relatives and intimate friends. The couple would then leave for their honeymoon in the early afternoon. Compared to the expensive fanfare of today’s circus-like weddings (the average American wedding reportedly costs upward of $20,000), the simplicity of this old ritual is very appealing.

The book also includes a “Small Wedding Luncheon” menu taken from the 1966 edition of The New York Times Menu Cook Book. Punch, an assortment of chilled salads, rolls. Cake, coffee, and strawberries served in sparkling wine. Now, that’s more my style. Assuming I get married in this neck of the woods, I already have a cake bakery picked out. Given my careers-slash-hobbies, I’ll still stress over the perfect dress and invitation. But hopefully not much else.

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(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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Tirammmmisù

Do as I say, not as I do.

Tiramisù!

First, if you’re opposed to the consumption of raw eggs, stop right here. Come back tomorrow, when I share with you all how I manage to turn some unattractive TV trays into (hopefully) pillars of retro beauty.

Superfluous photo of Yolky, my goofy egg separator (which fits perfectly on a Fire King soup bowl) by JO!E.

Today, I’m going to give you the recipe for Tiramisù exactly as it is written on this (Italian) package of (Italian) ladyfingers (imported from Italy).

Are you catching that? I want to make this clear: this is an authentic, traditional, Italian recipe. As promoted by Vicenzi, the “No. 1 in Italy” brand of savoiardi (ladyfingers). This tiramisù may not be what you’ll find in your local supermarket bakery, and it may not be what you’re accustomed to. It is, however, delicious. And incredibly easy. When made according to these instructions.

Tiramisù
Ingredients for 6–8 servings
400 g Vicenzovo ladyfingers
400 g mascarpone
4 eggs, separated
100 g sugar
2 cups espresso
30 g cocoa powder

Beat the egg yolks with sugar until thick and foamy. Whisk in mascarpone. In separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff. Fold the mascarpone mixture into the egg whites. Line a rectangular dish with halve of the Vicenzovo ladyfingers dipped into coffee and cover with half of the mascarpone cream mixture. Top with a second layer of dipped Vicenzovo ladyfingers and mascarpone cream. Sift cocoa powder over the whole surface. Refrigerate until serving time.

The very first time I made this, it was exquisite. The only change I made was to use, instead of the Vicenzovo “hard” ladyfingers, an equivalent amount of Trader Joe’s Soft Lady Fingers, which had fallen into the back of my pantry and gotten stale anyway. They fit perfectly into my large Pyrex baking dish, and with the addition of the eggy mascarpone cream and a dusting of cocoa powder, the result was heavenly.

But I still have 400 grams of these Italian ladyfingers in the pantry. And an invitation to dinner with friends. “I’ll bring dessert,” I say. But this time…this time, things will be a leeeetle bit different.

Egg yolks, sugar, faux-mascarpone.

Have you shopped for mascarpone lately? My local supermarket carries two brands, at $5 and $6 per container. This recipe requires two containers. Now don’t get me wrong, I like my friends and all, but that’s a steep price for someone as cheap frugal as I am. Enter: the Internet. And an assortment of recipes for making a mascarpone substitute. I can’t imagine that any of them will taste like proper mascarpone, but I pick a substitute formula that I think will come closest: a mixture of neufchâtel, sour cream, and heavy cream. The ratios required will make too much “mascarpone” for this particular recipe, but I figure hey, did anyone in history ever once complain that their tiramisù was too creamy? Probably not. So I mix up a batch, thus cutting calories while doubling the prep time and dirtying an extra mixer bowl.

Lay, lady, lay.

I start lining my Pyrex dish, and these ladyfingers are not the same size as their Trader Joe counterparts. I have to break them to fit, and even then, each layer of ladyfingers is coming in well shy of the prescribed 200 grams. Oh heck, it’ll be fine, right? Right? I spread the layers of floofy (technical term, that), creamy cheese mixture, I dust with cocoa, it looks lovely. See photo at top of this post. Delightful, right? Because of all of the extra cream mixture, the dish is precariously full. I set it into another, larger dish for travel, and head to see my friends.

We dine on delicious black bean and corn tacos, we chat, we laugh, and now it’s time for dessert. I grab a spatula and some plates, and start serving…tiramisoup. The scant amount of ladyfingers can’t soak up all of the extra cream mixture. Well, that’s okay, it will still taste like…cream cheese. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, I mean, look at cheesecake, right? But this does not taste, or feel, like tiramisù. It has a vague tanginess that cream cheese has, and which mascarpone does not. And it’s soupy. So, follow the recipe as instructed. Use a big enough pan. Learn from my mistakes. And enjoy!

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Vintage Victuals: Love Apple Cake

love apple n. : A tomato. [Probably translation of French pomme d'amour (from the former belief in the tomato’s aphrodisiacal powers) : pommeapple + deof + amourlove.]

1937 and wouldn’t that pattern make a fabulous dress print?

For those of you not “in the know,” I collect old cookbooks. I frequently read them cover to cover, like a novel. Sometimes, I even cook something out of them. I’m particularly attracted to recipes that use tomatoes in unexpected, perhaps ill-advised ways, as evidenced by the now-classic Ketchup In Dessert experiment. So when my mom bought me a copy of something called Royal Cook Book from 1937 (brought to us by Royal Baking Powder), and then found a recipe inside for Love Apple Cake, well, it was just a matter of how soon I could get into the kitchen!

With the exception of Jell-O booklets, I usually don’t see the same unfortunate recipe repeated in books spanning the years. However, when I found myself at the grocery store knowing that I needed a few things for this recipe but not remembering exactly what, I did a quick online search and found a nearly identical recipe printed in the February 11th, 1935 issue of The Pittsburgh Press. So we can assume that this recipe has some redeeming quality, in order to have survived for at least two years.

An excellent Valentine party dessert, according to the Pittsburgh Press, February 11th, 1935

Now, this is not a (semi-)traditional tomato soup spice cake. This depression-era Love Apple Cake is a three-layer white cake with a tomato filling, and then coated with 7 Minute Frosting. Let’s break this down into segments:

White Cake

Oops. Not-so-white cake.

You can use your favorite recipe for white cake (may I suggest this one if you’re baking at altitude) but because I’m recipe testing, I’m using the specific recipe in the book. The caveat here is that the White Cake recipe is proportioned for two 9-inch layers, but the Love Apple Cake instructions say to pour it into three 8-inch layer pans. So okay, the layers will be thin. No problem. Except that the instructions make no adjustment in time or oven temperature! I follow the instructions as written, and wind up with three thin, overcooked (okay, burned) layers. NOTE: The only difference twixt the book recipe and the newspaper recipe is that one calls for granulated sugar, and the other for confectioner’s sugar. Even the time/temp are the same (375° for 25 minutes).

7 Minute Frosting

I finally have a double boiler! Yay! More on that in Friday’s post. I can now make 7 Minute Frosting without fumbling around with a bowl set on top of a saucepan. What I don’t have, however, is a hand mixer or egg beater. The Shoes And Pie Test Kitchen is equipped with a stand mixer, a stick blender, and whisks. What do I need an egg beater for? Well, 7 Minute Frosting for one thing. I whisked as hard as I could by hand for 7 minutes to no avail. I even poured the resulting mixture into the stand mixer to see if I could fix it, but wound up with something akin to marshmallow fluff. I should have saved it for future Rice Krispie Treats, but foolishly poured it down the drain (damn!) and started over. I wound up making an Italian Meringue instead. (Note for non-cooks: same ingredients, different cooking method.) Good thing I overbought eggs!

Tomato Filling

This is the part you’re curious about. The recipe specifies unseasoned tomato juice, but I could find no such thing at the supermarket. Even the low-sodium tomato juice contains added salt so I wound up buying a can of tomato paste (ingredients: tomatoes) and thinning it with water to a juice consistency. Everything else went smoothly, although I’m still a bit perplexed by the instruction to “cook mixture until thick and clear.” Have you ever SEEN tomato juice? It’s not going to magically become translucent. I am going to assume the author means clear of lumps. Maybe. For your use and enjoyment, the Tomato Filling recipe:

1 cup unseasoned tomato juice
grated rind of 1 lemon
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2½ tbs cornstarch
1 tbs butter
2 tbs lemon juice

Heat tomato juice with lemon rind. Mix cornstarch and sugar and add [to] tomato juice, stirring all the time to prevent lumping. Cook mixture until thick and clear, stirring constantly. [Remove from fire and] Add lemon juice and butter. [Cool before filling cake.]

…wherein any additional information in the newspaper version is shown in brackets.

End Result

Overall, it does make for a serviceable cake. It would look even nicer if I decorated it with red candy hearts, as suggested in both versions. The contrast between the white layers and red filling would be more pronounced if my layers hadn’t yellowed from over baking. But how does it taste? Surprisingly good. The cake layers are a bit chewy because they’re, have I mentioned, over baked. I will be making this again, though, so I’ll make adjustments there. The Italian Meringue cooks up even faster than a 7 Minute Frosting, but they’re so close in all respects that the choice is yours to make. The tomato filling is mostly lemon-flavored, due to the zest and lemon juice. My version may be somewhat more tomato-y than intended, because I self-mixed a pretty thick “juice” from the tomato paste. Still, anyone who didn’t know would be probably not be able to guess the extra flavor. You’ll wind up with a bowl full of leftover egg yolks, so try to have something in mind to do with those. I didn’t, and cringed from the waste when I poured them down the drain. Next time, I’ll use them to make a batch of lemon curd. Which is also a delicious cake filling!

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Estate Wizards: Thbpppt

I’ve been frequenting estate sales for a couple of years now, but due to scheduling and locations I hadn’t yet shopped with A&A Estate Wizards. Now that I have, I’m sure that I won’t a second time.

I typically try to arrive after the initial melee of shoppers have gone through in order to avoid standing around and waiting for the sale to start, but some items in the preview photos for this sale particularly intrigued me so I decided to mingle with the throng of Regulars (those folks who hit up multiple sales every weekend, and who are always first in line). The sale was about a 45 minute drive away so I gassed up the car, cashed up my wallet, and headed down to arrive 20-25 minutes before doors were scheduled to open.

It was no surprise to see a sign-up sheet on the door, and I was even prepared with my own pen. Good thing, too, as the “Wizards” hadn’t provided one. It did feel a little silly to sign up as #36 on the list, because…well, here’s how these things typically work: Some estate sale companies employ the use of sign-up sheets so that they aren’t overrun with rabid bargain hunters as soon as they open the door. Particularly when the house is small, has a clunky floor plan, or when there’s lots of furniture, it can be a big help to space out the crowd to a manageable horde. A person from the estate sale company will open the doors at the stated time, permit the first 10 or so names on the list to enter, and then shut everyone else out for the time being. 5 or 10 minutes later, after the initial group have thinned out through the house, they’ll invite the next batch of people in. This will continue until the first 25ishy folks are in (and beginning to leave) and after that, it’s just open to the general public. I’ve been to a number of sales where I was early enough to sign up on the list, but have never actually had my name called, as I’ve never been that high up on the roster. So yeah, when I saw that I would be #36, I almost didn’t bother to write my name down at all. Almost.

At the starting time, the first 12 names (two people were absent) were called. They entered. The rest of us waited.

5 minutes went by.

10 minutes went by. One of the first people exited, empty handed. He was frustrated because the Wizards had apparently pre-sold some items, in particular whatever items he happened to be after. That’s not typical, and not cool.

15 minutes went by. The crowd was getting very restless. We began to realize that the speech a Wizard had given as the crowd had formed earlier about “not acting up like children” should have been a warning to us as to how their methods generally influence their customers’ moods.

18 minutes went by, and the second of the first batch exited, with a camera in hand. EIGHTEEN MINUTES for the Wizards to make their first sale. One of the Regulars, he was surprised to see us all still standing outside and waiting.

20 minutes in, and two more names were called to enter. Two. We had been joking amongst ourselves that the Wizards must be employing a one in/one out rule, but we didn’t think that they actually were. Without the “pressure” of other shoppers wandering through the house, it’s all too easy to take your merry old time, to pore over items, to sit back and flip through every page of a photo album. It’s okay, because the next customer won’t be allowed in until you leave. That’s all very nice for the shoppers already IN the house, but as I watched people trickle out, I was noticing how little (if anything) they were carrying with them. Obviously, this tactic is not good for the people waiting, nor is it good for the bottom line.

My mom had come with me this time, but she gave up on the waiting game and left. I multiplied my travel time by my time already invested and decided to stick around a bit longer.

We waited. One fellow wait-er took out his notepad to record the company name so he would know to avoid them in the future, and saw that he already had them written down. Oops! Upon hearing this, one of the Regulars said that she’d avoided Wizard sales for a year, but was giving them another chance. She didn’t think she’d be back again.

It took SEVENTY-FIVE minutes to get to #36 on the list, and if you factor in how many people had already left out of frustration, I was probably only the 25th actual shopper. I zipped in and tried as quickly as possible to locate the blue dress I’d spotted in the preview photos, but I couldn’t find it. A black dress I’d seen in the photos was still there, though, and while no individual item of clothing was marked with a price, a day-glo yellow sign said clothing (mostly of the pastel polyester pantsuit variety) was $1–$5, priced at checkout. (At checkout, the conversation went like this: Me—Can you tell me how much this is? Power Trip Wizard, indignant—I never said it was $20! Me—No, um, I’m asking how much. Power Trip Wizard—Oh, $50.)

It wasn’t until after I’d already explored the bathroom and the first bedroom that I discovered that the Wizards had not only not priced anything but the furniture, but that they also hadn’t taken the time to actually empty the cabinets or dresser drawers of their contents. I tried to go through some drawers as best as I could, but I was by now encumbered with seven shoeboxes, and there was no Hold area. Unheard of! I very much liked the jacquard towels in the bathroom, and would have bought the set if there had been two of each size, but only one of each was on the towel rack. It’s entirely possible that there were more stored in the vanity, but the cabinets are usually (always) emptied out first so I didn’t even think to look! Dang!

It didn’t take me long to scope out the rest of the sale and determine that while the lady of the house did collect shoes, she didn’t use Pyrex, or cookbooks, or sew. The pretty “Cake” tin shown above was nowhere to be found, and a set of chrome kitchen canisters (Garner Ware perhaps?) was being sold at $22…a very good price but for the fact that one section had over the years become entirely too fussy to close. I do actually USE these things, so that would be a bother.

Checking out was another fiasco. The Wizards had inexplicably chosen a cluttered back room with only one entrance/exit (through the kitchen) as their checkout area. Why not in the nearly empty living room, right by the front door so they could keep an eye on potential thieves? No idea. There was no place to form a line, and once it was my turn, there was no place to set down my merchandise while my haul was tallied up. Peon Wizard #1 had me set my items on the “cashier table” which was covered in jewelry cases, but Power Trip Wizard chastised her and had me move my items to the floor behind the table. This move involved getting both in and out of the way of numerous other customers, in addition to the cashiers themselves. While I was paying, Peon Wizard #2 tried to explain to Power Trip Wizard that the crowd outside had been keeping count of how many people were leaving and were wondering not-so-politely when anyone else would be let in. Power Trip Wizard told Peon Wizard #2 to ignore the shoppers still outside and instead make sure the house was tidy.

As I left, 90 minutes after the sale had officially started, there was still a crowd of people waiting outside. The same people who had been waiting with me earlier! Someone said that 8 people had exited the sale, with still no new shoppers allowed in. I wouldn’t be surprised if they turned into an angry mob, with rakes and torches!

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Cookbook Challenge: Doing My Part

Okay, folks, I have taken on and completed my portion of last week’s Cookbook Challenge, the long-waiting Ketchup In Dessert from a 1956 ad for Heinz Ketchup.

First, we start off with some tart, green Granny Smith apples.

Apples: both tart and green

We peel them, slice them, and arrange them in a shallow, buttered baking dish.

Next, we mix up some ketchup and lemon juice.

It's organic, baby.

And then, um, pour it over the apples. (NOTE: I’m using a vintage aluminum pie pan because I forgot that you’re not supposed to mix tomatoes and aluminum until after I’d poured and I wasn’t going to dirty an extra baking dish, but there was very little contact and everything survived. Still: do as I say, and not as I do.)

Appetizing, no?

Still with me? Good! Now we mix up some flour/sugar/cinnamon/butter into a fine crumb.

Siftin'

And top the apples with it.

Ketchup: Masked!

Bake bake bake bake…hey, the kitchen smells pretty good!

Looks unassuming, eh?

Time to serve!

Nobody will ever know.

VERDICT: It was actually pretty good. The ketchup adds an interesting flavor note that your guests would be hard-pressed to put their finger on, but is in no way overpowering or, well, ketchup-y. If making this again, I would stir the ketchup thoroughly into the apples before pouring them into the baking dish, to better distribute the color. It’s a bit jarring to see that streak of red just under the crumbs!

Now it’s your turn: A winner will be selected on the 11th! Get on it!

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NEW Eyeglasses!

For someone who wears her contact lenses as much as possible, I sure do spend a lot of time in eyeglasses. Sometimes because my eye is having an inexplicable physical “reaction” to wearing lenses, and sometimes because eyeglasses can be so stinkin’ cool! In a previous post, you saw my current lineup of prescription glasses in addition to one pair of frames that I managed to part with and sell at Tiddleywink Vintage. Yup, that means that I have three pairs of Rx-filled eyeglasses. Now, to be fair, one of those pairs is an outdated prescription, and they were my “backup” glasses when something was awry with my “go-to” pair. Last spring, you may recall, I added the vintage aluminum cat-eye pair just in time for wearing during the wee hours of the VLV weekender, when the cigarette smoke and long hours are too-too much for my contacts to handle.

Recently, my “go-to” pair started to lose its anti-reflective coating.* The scratches and imperfections in the coating were now starting to give me a headache, and my first instinct was to have fresh, new lenses put into my frames once again. I usually go to Costco for this sort of thing, and I have had nothing but pleasant experiences with the staff at the two Costco optical departments that I’ve used. But…

You may recall that after asking around at what seemed like EVERY local lab, I wound up sending that previously-mentioned vintage pair of aluminum frames to 39DollarGlasses.com to be re-lensed. That wound up working out so well that I decided to have another pair of vintage frames fitted with prescription G15 lenses and I thought that perhaps I’d send these frames in along with that pair, or hey, maybe splurge on a whole new pair, since the cost would be the same!

I don’t recall what unrelated thing I was looking up when Google came back with a Sponsored Ad for ZenniOptical, but I was intrigued by their promise of a complete pair of (single-vision) eyeglasses with prices starting at $6.95. I mean, really. $6.95? Who are they trying to kid? I took a look. I got distracted. I went back a few days later (the tab was still open in my browser) and did a new search… and found the frames at the top of this post. Advertised for $29.95, they’re one of the more expensive pairs on the site. I uploaded my photo so I could “try on” the frames, decided I liked them, and went ahead and filled out the order form so I could find out what they’d actually cost when filled with my prescription (My Rx is affordably single vision, but the strength that I require often results in an extra fee).

There was no surcharge for my strength. I placed my order. I looked around for reviews of the site (NOTE: I recommend that you do this BEFORE buying from a vendor you’re unfamiliar with). It was all too easy to find reviews written by folks who had to wait three or more weeks for their order to arrive. Folks who complained about the quality of the frames. Folks who complained about the quality of the frames, and then noted that, well, they did spend all of $10 so maybe you get what you pay for. I was a little nervous, but not too much. After all, this wouldn’t be my only pair. I’d still have back-ups. And I’d only be out $30.

I placed my order on the evening of November 29th, and received my new glasses in the mail on December 9th. If you don’t want to do the math, that’s 8 business days. They arrived in a padded envelope, packed inside a hard case with a lens cloth and a PD (Pupillary Distance) ruler. I wore them for three days before writing this post so that I could give an accurate review, and I report no headaches, no wavy lenses, no problems whatsoever.

If you need your existing frames, particularly vintage frames, re-lensed, I still heartily recommend 39DollarGlasses.com, where there is also a large selection of attractive new frames, and top-notch customer service. But now I know that ZenniOptical is also a fun option, and while the frames won’t likely last the 50+/- years that my older frames have, or perhaps they won’t last even three years, it’s a small investment to make to have some pretty nifty specs.

____________________

*Having worn glasses for nearly 30 years, both with and without anti-reflective coatings, and working daily on computers (the usual excuse for needing ARC) for 15+ years, I believe I am fully qualified to say it’s a crock. Skip the coating, save your money. The ARC coating does photograph better, if that’s something you’re concerned with. And if you are, you probably wear contacts anyway.

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