Thrift Shop Fun & Cooking 1940’2 Style

So my daughter and I have this new thing we do. We discovered it by accident one day, when a couple of her friends were going with me to see her dance show. She had two shows in one day so I had to get her some food in between shows. We happened to have a little extra time before we needed to be back at the theater and I didn’t want to waste money on something. We stopped at a thrift shop and before we went in, I told everyone to take photos of the weirdest thing you can find and we can laugh about it when we share the photos with each other.

My daughter came up with the idea to open an Instagram account and call it Not So Nifty Thrifties and start her own blog as well at I thought it was a brilliant idea and who knows, maybe this will be the next Awkward Family Photos. So if you are on Instagram, please follow #notsoniftythrifties and you can send in your photos to be featured on the account!

We love thrift shops, but lets be honest, sometimes they try to sell the most bizarre items that really make you question:

  • WHY?
  • Who would ever buy THAT?
  • They want how much for this?
  • What IS it?
  • What do you use THIS for?

We never really truly noticed all the weird little things until we started this game. It’s also very interesting to see what my daughter and her friends think are weird. Sometimes it’s an item that I know what it is, but they are too young to know.   The electronic section is really fun with them, because they truly don’t know what half of the items are. Just yesterday I had to tell them what an answering machine was and what it did. 

I do end up buying one or two small things from most places we visit. I feel weird about taking photos and not buying anything, maybe it’s just me but I can’t help it.  My latest find is this 1946 cook book: The Lily Wallace New American Cookbook.  This book is like gold to me. It’s beyond amazing to go back in time and see what people were making almost 70 years ago.

There are so many interesting recipes that I decided to share them with you from time to time on my blog. I am an huge history fan, and I am obsessed with know how and why people lived a certain way. This is by far one of the coolest ways to learn about our ancestors.


I just knew this had to be a cookbook. Looks similar to the Betty Crocker Cookbook.


Originally published in 1941, The Lily Wallace New American Cook Book circa 1946


The words at the top read: NOTHING IS SMARTER, NOTHING MORE PLEASING, THAN A FRUIT FINALE TO A MEAL. HAVE A VARIETY OF IN-SEASON FRUITS, AND ARRANGE THEM ARTISTICALLY FOR SERVING. I’m not sure about you, but I just love her presentation, those bananas really make the whole thing come alive!


Banana Cream toast sounds weird, but might be good. However, I just love that they need to give detailed instructions on how to freeze fruit.



I know there are still people in America eating squirrel, which is sad,  but the fact that it was so mainstream that they put it in a cookbook is just shocking.


The people in 1946 must have been totally ready for a zombie apocalypse. They even have recipes in here to prepare you for just such an occurrence.


I really with there was a photo of this one, cause it just sounds so nasty. I cannot imagine how FISH AND JELLO can taste good. BLECH!


Summertime Adventures (or Be A Tourist in Your Hometown – Part 2 – South-East Sonoma County)

:::  S U M M E R   I S   H E R E  :::

Are  you sure? I am pretty sure that last month we just celebrated Valentine’s Day right?  It seems like time is somehow stuck in hyper-drive. A month goes by and I have no idea how it happened and what I did with all that time.  Now all of the sudden I have a bored pre-teen that I am apparently supposed to wait on hand and foot as if she were the royal princess of Summer-topia.  I am finding it much more difficult to keep a pre-teen entertained than a 2-7 year old. I am not sure why that is since at this age she doesn’t need 100% supervision; no diapers have to be changed, she needs no naps, we don’t need to pack a huge bag of necessities, toys, stroller or extra clothing. Yet somehow she seems more dependent on me than ever.

It’s been a few years since I was the parent at home during the day in the summer, so I decided we needed some new rules that relate to an 11 year old. So far I have been met with lots of resistance (not surprised), but I am confident that I will prevail as the grand champion.

  • Rule #1: I am not your servant, personal chef, maid, butler, or taxi-cab.
  • Rule #2: You still have to read a book at least 30 minutes a day.
  • Rule #3: You have to help do chores and special projects around the house.
  • Rule #4: You cannot sit and watch TV or movies all day long.
  • Rule #5: You cannot sit and play on your phone or other electronic device all day long.
  • Rule #6: You can stay up late, as long as you get up at a reasonable time the next morning.

Luckily for us one of her best friends lives across the street. This is very helpful when having an only child. They can come and go as they want and they keep each other entertained for the most part.  But even with friends over, they all still get bored, and I have to step in and find something for everyone to do.


If you are looking for some affordable and/or free things to do this summer, I have a few fun and interesting idea’s for you. We have been to all of these places and we just love them!  For fun things to do out west please see my earlier blog post: Be a Tourist in your Hometown

JELLY BELLY FACTORY – Vacaville, CA  – Free factory tours, plus free samples and a free bag of Jelly Bellies for everyone!  I realize this is not in Sonoma County, but it is located only about an hour from Santa Rosa and this makes for a fun day. The tour is about 40 minutes, includes videos and history of the company and on weekdays you can see all the workers in the factory and all the machines going. Weekends the factory workers have off, so it’s a little less exciting, but it is still fun. They also give out free chocolate and fudge samples in the gift shop, plus you can go through the line at the jelly bean sample bar as many times as you want and try all the flavors. They do have a  cafe with all sorts of Jelly Bean shaped food which is ok, but not great.  However if you are coming from Northern Sonoma County and take hwy 116 exit in Petaluma, there is a wonderful place to stop and eat either on the way to the Jelly Belly Factory or on the way back called The Fremont Diner (see next item on this list below).

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THE FREMONT DINER – Carneros Hwy Between Sonoma and Napa (AKA Hwy 121/12) – On your way out to or back from Vacaville, (honestly anytime you want an amazing home cooked, farm fresh, locally grown, organic, free range, utterly fantastic food) stop by this quaint historic landmark for some tasty grub that will knock your socks off. They grow as much of their own food as possible in their gardens, or they get it locally.  You will be treated like family as you sit inside and enjoy the antiques or outside at a picnic table in their “backyard”. Amazing views when you sit outside with gorgeous vineyards on the hills. Once we were treated to a rare double rainbow at sunset as we dined outside.  Check out their seasonal menu (they serve what’s fresh!) however they always have the popular dishes such as the Deviled Eggs, Nashville Fried Chicken, Fremont Burger and Mac-n-cheese. They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner. If you happen to have $5 bucks in your pocket, be sure to go inside and have your photos done in the Chicken Coop Photo Booth. You get two strips of 4 poses so you can share with a friend!


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CORNERSTONE SONOMA – (About 5 minutes from Fremont Diner)  Sonoma, CA – It’s hard to describe exactly what Cornerstone is. It’s part art exhibit, part garden, mix in some interactive outdoor experiences, and throw in a cafe and a wine tasting room and there you have it. What is so cool about it is that this kind of art appeals to all ages and types of people,  and the opportunity to wander & experience the outdoor art gardens is completely free. The gardens have separate sections and each one has something different and unique, created by some pretty clever artists. One of my favorites is the metal tunnel, called RISE. It has great acoustics and its fun to sing inside of it. There’s also a wishing tree with iridescent prismatic ribbons that you write a wish on then tie it to the”tree”. The ribbons sway in the breeze making the rainbow colors so vibrant and beautiful. If you are hungry you can stop and grab a bite to eat at the cafe, with indoor and outdoor seating. (Note that we have not eaten here at Park 121 yet.) Or bring a snack ans sit out on the grass in the middle of the gardens. Lots of fun adventures and silly photos are bound to keep any child or adult entertained for hours.

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CLINE CELLARS – Sonoma, CA – Just a hop, skip and a jump from Cornerstone, is Cline Cellars.  Cline Cellars has some beautiful property that makes for a wonderful morning or afternoon walk. They have a small tasting room (free tasting of 5 non-reserve wines), California Missions Museum (also free), gorgeous pond, gardens, and even some beautiful pheasants and other exotic looking birds, they also offer tours of the estate.  This makes Cline Cellars a perfect stop with or with out kids. For those wine snobs out there, Cline Cellars are well known for having Ancient Vines, some of the oldest and most rare grapevines in California that range in age from 80 to 120 years old.  They are also pesticide free and sustain organic practices on all their vineyards.

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JACUZZI WINERY– Sonoma, CA – Only 417 feet from Cline Cellars is this fabulous Italian themed winery. They have a beautiful tasting room, food & gift shop. Here you can also sample glorious house made olive oils and vinegars.  Like Cline Cellars, they offer a complimentary wine tasting of 5 of their non-reserve wines. The grounds are spectacular and you almost feel as if you are on vacation in Italy, and yes they are the ones who invented the “Jacuzzi Spa Tub”. Go ahead and take some photos of yourself while you are here, your friends will be jealous that you are in Tuscany!

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Accomplishing Goals & My FavoriteThings This Year


::: G O A L S :::

I had an initial goal of writing on my new blog at least once a week. Ideally twice a week to share new recipes, places to go, awesome products or fabulous restaurants. Turns out I get so busy in day to day life I find it hard to make myself sit down and write. You see, I am a little bit of a perfectionist, and sadly that keeps me from doing or accomplishing certain things I want, because in my mind I need to have everything in place, the research 110% complete, and all the t’s crossed and i’s dotted before I will do it.  Then I get overwhelmed at how much work it is, so I just continue going about normal life and also make sure I have time to clean up the house and make something fabulous for dinner.

A close friend of mine and I have had the opportunity to spend lots of time with each other over the last few months. We are both over 40 and have those feeling of not being accomplished enough, not knowing what we are doing in life and regretting being scared to try or do things that we have both wanted since high school. Why do we make excuses to ourselves? Why do we hold ourselves back from reaching goals? Our new motto is “We’re over 40, so forget it!”  (Try replacing “forget” with a famous 4 letter word that begins with F for extra oomph!) A little confidence can go along way, and I need to remember that I don’t have to be perfect, I just need to get out there and try it.

So how do we move past this and how do I get myself to write in my blog consistently? How do I begin to accomplish my other goals? I have so many, I guess I am at the age where I need to writer down my bucket list, and actually start making them happen. So far here are my top 10 major goals to accomplish by the end of 2014.

  1. Produce and star in my own cabaret show called “The Triple D’s – Daring, Dazzling, Diva’s”
  2. Write a blog entry at least twice a week
  3. Organize the dreaded craft room that has now become the crap room
  4. Join a choir, band or other musical type group
  5. Join a photography club and start learning more
  6. Get serious about having an art exhibit & prepare for a show in 2015
  7. Start selling my photos on stock photography websites
  8. Record a CD of  broadway, classics, & jazz songs
  9. Take cake decorating classes and start making amazing cakes for people
  10. Take a road trip this summer with my daughter

::: F A B U L O U S   F I N D S  ::: 

So one of my mini goals I already accomplished this year, was to get my baking goods organized in such a way that everything is easy to grab.  Now that I am home more, I cook from scratch at least 4-5 days a week.  I was constantly moving heavy canisters to and from and some were so small that they didn’t even hold enough flour to make a couple loafs of bread. I spent months looking for just the right canisters to hold all my ingredients. Surprisingly most canisters are glass, and I really wanted plastic. I do not have space on my kitchen counters to store them, so I have to keep them on a bookshelf turned pantry. Glass containers once filled are quite heavy and I have not had good luck with those metal flippy sealers on them either. I also don’t like containers that are solid, I want to be able to see how much flour or sugar I have left just a quick glance.

Finally last month I found some plastic baking containers at Macy’s. They had all sizes and even a value pack. The prices were cheaper than glass and the clicky-clacky lidded ones, plus combined with a Macy’s discount of $20 off if you spend $50, they were quite a steal. So what is this product that I am in LOVE with???  It’s called SISTEMA. Here is a link to their website: (photo below from their website)


Here are some of my favorite things about them:

  • BPA Free
  • The larger sizes come with their own 1 Cup measuring cup
  • They are stackable
  • Freezer safe
  • Microwave safe
  • Dishwasher safe
  • There is a groove on one side of the larger containers that make it easy to pick up
  • The lids have a tight rubber seal for freshness and to prevent moisture
  • The company was started by one guy in his garage 30 years ago, they are not a huge corporation

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As you can see I went as far as to label my containers with my super awesome Epson Label Maker so that I don’t mix up the bread flour with the all purpose flour. It just makes finding the items a lot easier.  I have saved a lot of time since I began using these. The containers pictured above are from my kitchen.  The smaller ones actually hold a whole bag of chocolate chips. When I bought them they seemed too small, so it was a nice surprise that it all fit.



They also make smaller containers that are perfect for my daughters lunches. My favorites are the divided containers, you can get a serving of fruit on one side and a veggie on the other and they seal up great so they never leak.


If you are interested in a great label maker, I highly recommend the Epson LabelWorks LW-400 Label Maker (available on  Here are the reasons I love this little guy.

  • Backlit display – type and print labels in challenging lighting conditions
  • Amazing variety – 14 fonts, 10 styles, 300+ built-in symbols, over 75 frames, bar codes and more
  • Less waste – smaller margins compared to other brands for up to 62% less waste
  • Large built-in memory – store up to 50 files
  • Specialty print models and labels
  • Split back labels – so its very easy to peel the backing off


So, here we are at the end of a blog. How do we tie together all of these amazing things? Let’s just leave it at this: LIFE IS SHORT, GO OUT AND LIVE IT. DO NOT TAKE ANYTHING FOR GRANTED AND DO NOT BE AFRAID TO TRY AND REACH YOUR GOALS. 

Have a wonderful day, and rest of the week! Get out there and accomplish something, even completing a SMALL goal can be uplifting and make you fulfilled. Now, I have about 20 more mini goals for today, so I better get moving if I am to get them all done before bedtime!