Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Being thankful for Mom’s potato salad

I know, potato salad is a pretty odd thing for which to be thankful, but on this Thanksgiving eve, I’m feeling nostalgic as we prepare to celebrate another turkey day.
With only three members of the family (me, Ella, and Jimmy, Ella’s brother) in town, we plan to eat at the local Golden Corral around 10:30 a.m. before the restaurant gets too crowded.  It’s not very sentimental, but it’s cheaper, and we avoid the big mess in the kitchen.  Lack of leftovers is a bummer, though.
Growing up, however, Thanksgiving was a big day in our house.  With Mom and two grandmothers preparing food, it was inevitable that the little fat kid that I was would be underfoot in the kitchen, stealing bites of food here and there, and trying to sample as much of the meal as possible before we actually sat down to eat.  Since Dad didn’t like turkey, and my Grandma Fair only ate “hog meat,” ham was the meat of choice, and was served with homemade dressing; snap or pole beans with potatoes; collard greens or turnips; rutabagas; fried cornbread; jellied cranberry sauce, and, of course, the aforementioned potato salad, my favorite.
Mom would peel, dice, and boil the potatoes, and then mix them up with a wonderful concoction of mayonnaise, onions, celery, boiled eggs, and some sweet pickle relish.  She used a big metal bowl for mixing before gently spooning the salad into a serving dish.  Without fail, she would always leave me a little in the bottom of the bowl to sample, and I would do my best to get every last bit of the good stuff before handing the bowl off to be washed.
I was piddling around in our guest house last week, looking through the kitchen cabinets, and actually found that bowl.  It looked smaller than I remember, though.  I considered taking it home, and preparing the dish as best as I could remember, but realized that it just wouldn’t be the same.
I absent mindedly put the bowl back in the cabinet, lost in the memories of holidays past, and realized how thankful I was not only for what I had, but also for all that my parents had given me, and how they had prepared me, as best they could, for life beyond the thunderdome of childhood.
Still, what I wouldn’t give for one more taste of Mom’s potato salad on Thanksgiving from that big metal bowl.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

A day only hardcore thrifters could enjoy

Saturday was a four church sale day, and would have been fun had it not been so cold and windy.  I’ve asked it before, but who is crazier, those who have yard sales when it’s freezing, or those who attend these cold events?
Of course, opportunity often comes with adversity, and despite winds that literally were blowing items off tables, we managed to score some good finds.  It truly was a day that only hardcore pickers could enjoy, or endure.
The first church sale started at 7 a.m., and has a history of letting shoppers in early.  Since it is an outside sale, both Ella and I knew it would be miserable trying to scout not only in the 37 degree weather and wind, but also in the dark.  We may be hardcore, but we’re not stupid.  So, we opted to bypass that church until later in the day, hoping that there would be something left.  
We therefore started our day at an 8 a.m. inside church sale that also featured a small book sale.  The book sale netted some good finds; the actual yard sale, less so.   It was pushing 9 a.m. by that time, so we rushed over to another church sale that was just setting up outside.  I immediately found the media table, and the teens kept bringing over bags of books and DVDs.  We filled a large tote full of boxed DVD sets, individual DVDs, and a bunch of Amish romance series books, bound with string to keep individual sets together.  We paid $20 for the tote, plus a few other odds and ends.  With the wind and cold biting at us, we were proud to make it back to the truck with our extremities intact.
We visited a few miscellaneous sales before pulling up to the next church sale, which thankfully was inside.  We found a few things, and we partook of the bake sale.  
We finally made it to the sale that started at 7 a.m., and it was still cold.  I could only imagine how it must have felt earlier.  I found a few things, but the wind and cold made looking uncomfortable. 
So much for being hardcore.
There were a few sales in a neighboring town, so we headed that way, stopping at a sale in a restaurant parking lot.  Thankfully, it had warmed up a bit, making the wind less of an issue.  Ella found a new in shrink-wrap puzzle, then another, then another.  I love picking up puzzles, but this was insane.  We ended up with 70 new puzzles at $1 each.  That’s a lot of money, but the ones that I scanned were worth in excess of $10 each, so I figured we’d do OK.
We made a few more stops that netted little, so we decided to call it a day, at least as far as the yard sales were concerned.  Later Saturday evening, we went to the local auction, and picked up a few items, most notably several “pigs in a poke” boxes.  A “pig in a poke” at an auction is a sealed box that is auctioned off as is.  You have no idea what is in the box.  Ella is a sucker for such things, and we ended up with three boxes, one of which had junk, and two of which had fine china from Japan, or at least that’s what it said on the bottom of each plate and cup.   Other than putting it in our antique booth, I’m not quite sure what to do with it.
On Sunday, believe it or not, there was another church sale that started at 9 a.m., and, of course, we were there.  We didn’t find much, but it did get me up out of bed, and in a working mood.  The rest of Sunday was spent listing and packing.
Over at the antique mall, our booth total for October was a respectable $742 against a rent of $468 (both booths), for a “profit” of roughly $274.  We had no sale of any item over $30, which proves the adage that “smalls” make your rent, but “bigs” make your profit.  On a positive note, DVDs continue to be a good seller for us (35 sold).
On the online side for October, we sold 157 items across all venues (Amazon, Alibris, Half, and Biblio), with Amazon leading the way.  On Ebay, we had a paltry 17 sales; I so need to revamp my store.
I had thought that this weekend would be relatively easy (i.e., no significant sales).  Already, though, two church sales and at least one institutional sale have been advertised.  With Thanksgiving on the horizon, such sales should taper off.   As they say on Game of Thrones, winter’s coming, and much like the proverbial ant in the parable, I hope we have squirreled away enough resources. 
Have a good rest of the week.