Monday, January 31, 2011

Ultimate Best of Guide to Minneapolis/St. Paul Thrift Stores

I don’t live in Minnesota, and therefore, providing a thrift store guide to the Minneapolis/St. Paul area does not infringe on my own territory. So, without further ado, I now present you with the best-of-the-best thrift store guide to the metro area (hope I’m getting this to you in time, Lisa!). Now, keep in mind this list is not exhaustive. For that, my favorite resources is, which is a user-input source for all charitable secondhand stores in the country.


1. Unique. Two locations I like: County Rd. D and Rice St. in St. Paul. Extremely crowded at all times. Can be overpriced. Best feature is Rice St.'s vintage section and the fact that they are constantly adding inventory. Best score: LOTS of vintage clothes and cheap kids books.

2. Hidden Treasures. In Nordeast, hidden in a strip mall. Very neat and organized, friendliest staff ever. Best score: a brand new Radio Flyer tricyle for $10.

3. Arc's Value Village. On Winnetka in New Hope and Brooklyn Blvd. in Brooklyn Center. Usually very organized. The Brooklyn Blvd. location has lots of collectibles and designer purses (if you're into that). Best score: Also great vintage clothing on a special rack in the back of the New Hope store.

4. Bibles for Missions, 4713 36th Ave. N, Crystal, MN. Call before you go. Pretty sure they have weird hours and are definitely not open Sundays. Love the little ladies that work there. Best score: honestly don't remember. I know I've scored lots of weird knick knacks, but nothing sticks out specifically.

The best things about thrift stores in the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area:

• No sales tax on clothing
• Plenty of winter gear if you are in the market for it — boots, hats, coats, etc.
• A wide variety of shops from mega-stores like Savers and Goodwill to awesome hole-in-the-wall joints
• No matter where you live, there is one near you (seriously…there were two within walking distance of my old place)

The worst things about thrift stores in the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area:
• It’s a big city, so you gotta be on your game to compete with the crowds
• I’m not a huge Savers/Goodwill fan, and those make up a huge portion of them
• Because the city is so spread out, you can drive a long way to get from one to the next
• As with everywhere, thrift stores have started to try to get smart about what things have a little more value; unfortunately, I find that prices are often ridiculously overblown

Minneapolitans and St. Paulites, did I miss any?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Thrift Store Thursday

Ahh, the dead of winter. Good times. The temperature hit 25 this week and so I trekked outside for a mile walk on my lunch hour yesterday. It felt WARM! Seriously sick when you think of it. But 20 degrees or more above last weeks highs, so it's all relative. All this balmy weather got me thinking about garage sales. And you know what? When I checked Craigslist, I found TWO garage sales! Indoors, mind you, but garage sales nonetheless. So of course, I hit them up.

One was a total bust, but the indoor church sale proved pretty okay. I got a great sweater and a cute vintage tank, so I consider it a success.

Now, I am really looking forward to the return of estate sales, garage sales, church rummages and everything that will break me out of what could definitely become a thrift store funk if I keep hitting the same spots as regularly as I have been.

Speaking of which, a friend who reads my blog said I should post my favorite thrift stores. Hmmm. Isn't that kind of like divulging grandmas secret apple pie recipe? Dare I give out my most closely held secret? Will you all go rush out and pillage my hot spots? Or should I play nice and share? I could definitely give a pretty good run down for Milwaukee area, Madison area and even my old stomping grounds in Minneapolis. Should I?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Your Favorite Recipes of 2010

This year, I've struggled to find time to do a lot of the things that I love to do. Now, I've never been that huge of a cook, but now that I have VERY limited time to be in charge of the cooking, it's like a privilege that's been taken away. I did try a few things, like cinnamon rolls, the lemon-basil martini, and lots and lots of things out of our very first real-deal vegetable garden.

I get asked to participate in lots of recipe exchanges, and I always feel a little lame having not much to contribute. I get most of my recipes online or out of my favorite Giada cookbooks. But, I would love to be better about recommending recipes, because I always get great ones in return.

So, I thought I'd try something new. Why not do a recipe exchange blog post? Tell everyone what's been cooking in your kitchen lately. I'd especially love to hear your simple (fast? slow cooked?) and kid-friendly recipes. So do share! You can link to your own personal recipe (post it on your own blog), or anywhere in the World Wide Web!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Breaded, Not Fried

I love to bake, but I do get tired of all the sweets. What? Who am I kidding. I don't get tired of the sweets, but I know it's not good for us to eat so much. So I often branch out to bread. I tried the no knead recipe with good results. I also purchased the Tassajara Bread Book and went through the painstaking process of making it the "real" way with all the rising and punching and rising and kneading and all that.

But, I have found what I think is the "up my alley" bread baking book, perfect for a person like me with a short attention span and a busy life. It's the book Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. The theory is that you make up a big batch of dough and stick it in the fridge. You can use it for up to a few weeks to make just about anything from regular old bread to cinnamon rolls. So far we made only one loaf and it was not only delicious, but easy and beautiful to look at.

I got the book from the library, and unfortunately I have to return it soon. But before I do, I'm thinking about trying the bagel recipe. Have you ever made bagels from scratch? Is it worth the effort? What are your favorite bread recipes?

Friday, January 21, 2011

Playing Matchmaker

Today I'm excited to participate in Kelly's Korner Blog "Show us your singles" day when people all over the country tell the world about a great guy or girl they know in hopes that a match can be made. Today I'd like to introduce my friend and coworker, Craig.

So here's the skinny on this eligible guy:
--Craig has strong Christian values and is involved in church activities
--He's 40
--This guy is outgoing, friendly and loves to hang out with his friends, especially if they're going out for seafood or Italian
--He grew up and lives in southeast Wisconsin
--Craig works in the financial industry
--His education is in Mass Communication and Psychology
--Music is a passion for him (listening versus playing)
--Sometimes he likes to inform us that whatever it is we're eating is really bad for us, which is an endearing quality -- he's really into being healthy and likes to work out and be active
--He's never been down the aisle (unless you're talking about the grocery store)
--He's funny
--He likes to travel (Seattle is one of his favorites)

Here's who he's looking for in that special lady:
--Strong Christian woman
--She likes to get dressed to go out, but is also comfortable hanging out in jeans and a sweatshirt (here's my interpretation: he's looking for someone who takes care of herself, but doesn't spend 4 hours getting ready to go out)
--She makes him laugh

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Thrift Store Thursday

Here's the latest scores from the thrift store. This week was all about vintage clothes for the ladies!

The plaid dress is by Pendleton, and it's in perfect condition. I wish it fit me, because it's so warm and fun! Pendleton is based in Portland, Oregon and has been weaving fabric there for 100 years.

My other favorite is the tennis jacket with the yellow stripes. If that doesn't sell in my Etsy shop, it's ALL MINE!

Who doesn't need a poodle skirt? This would be so fun to have in a little girl's dress-up collection. I can just see the twirling that would ensue!

This crazy plaid shirt is some sort of western wear. I don't know much about it, but it just appealed to me.

This great scarf I bought at Rummage-a-rama, and I think it's so cool but I have no idea if I'd wear it, or display it somehow.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Thrift Store Thursday

Wow, I am completely addicted to thrift shopping. It's an illness. Seriously.

I have ALWAYS been a thrift shopper. I have worked at thrift stores. But, it hasn't ever taken over all of my free time like it is now (my free time consists of my lunch breaks and one or two hours on the weekend if naps I guess it's not like I spend 30 hours a week at Goodwill or anything...).

Here's my most recent scores. Some of these came from Rummage-a-rama at the WI state fairgrounds. You should go if you're local, it's great!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Why Being a Stay-at-Home Parent is Harder Than Being a Working Parent

Now before you slay me with your rantings about how you work very hard and staying home is all trips to the zoo and eating bon bons while the kids nap, please know that I am also a working (outside the home) parent. I only know my own perspective, and that is one of a mama who goes off to my cubicle home every day. I leave my two kids home with the most hardworking, patient and loving man in the world: my husband.

If you had asked me who works harder -- a staying home parent or a working parent -- when we only had one, adorable, perfectly-behaved baby or toddler, I may have answered differently. I certainly came to work many, many days going "Seriously? They're taking a walk to the park today and I'm sitting through a 4-hour conference call?" But boy, have things changed. We now have an out-of-control toddler and an infant. Talk about a busy day-job!

My hubby calls me sometimes at work needing advice. Like "When I dropped him off at preschool, he was hysterical. Should I go back and get him?" or "He has completely destroyed his room and, oh, wait now he's just peed on the floor. How would you handle it?" or "I had to let the baby cry herself to sleep today so I could get him dressed to leave the house. In the end, I left him in what he wore yesterday and to bed last night. Is that okay?"

So at least I get a glimpse of the world at home when I'm not there. And I get to feel a little bit a part of the parenting choices. But really, I sit here in my cush office, eating a leisurely lunch filled with conversation about TV and what everyone's going to be up to this weekend. Meanwhile, he's trying to slap together something, anything that one will eat will simultaneously putting a bottle in the other. Those of you out there with 3, 4, 5 do you survive? How do you get through each day? Seriously, my husband needs to know. Could you shoot him an email?

Of course some days are better than others, but I just can't imagine a job harder than raising kids. They are one minute adorable, sweet, fun-loving huggers and the next urinating, screeching, fighting sassy-faces. Even my worst day at work does not involve cleaning up anyone else's soiled underpants, or explaining why it's not okay to go outside in 3 degree weather without a coat on.

So to my hubby, Mr. Pumpkin, I say: you are doing an amazing job, and you are a great dad. Even if some days you'd like to fire yourself and/or hire a nanny, or you feel like there's nothing at all graceful or admirable about what you're doing, you are awesome.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Happy 2011

We rang in the new year English style. At 6 p.m. Central Time it was midnight in England so we did some research and found some cool British new year traditions we could celebrate. For example, we observed the tradition of "First Footing" by having "a dark-haired, handsome young man" (my son) be the first person in the door on new year's day (or just after 6 p.m. at our house) bearing coal (a stick), bread and salt. The items are supposed to bring warmth, food and money to those at the home.

Then, my nieces dropped egg whites into a glass of water and looked into the mixture to find the first letter of the man they would marry. Amazingly, the egg whites do form some interesting letter-looking shapes in water! So there's an "M" in one nieces' future and an "S" in the other's. And of course we had to have a little puzzle for the kids to try to match the funny Britishism to the picture, like hooter for nose, telly for television and biscuit for cookie. Good times!

We ate some awesome English foods, too. No bangers and mash, but we did have beer cheese soup with English ale. Yum! And we had a very nice, roaring fire (check out the great vintage log-getter I scored at a thrift store). It was very relaxing, right up until my toddler woke up at 11 p.m. and SCREAMED his head of like a maniac because he didn't want to go back to bed. And then there was the 2 a.m. wakeup call at my bedroom door from my sister, who was awoken in the basement bedroom to the sound of water pouring down from the kitchen -- caused by an overflowing dishwasher (or more likely all the leeks I had shoved down the garbage disposal earlier). Ugh. So the new year started a little rough, but I'm hoping it'll be looking up!

Did you rock in the new year? Did you make any resolutions?