24 December 2012

Ex Pat Christmas

Christmas is an odd time to live 3500 miles from your family.  I think that there are some definite pluses and minuses.  Mr Grumpy and me never have to pick which family to spend Christmas with, but seeing my parents won't ever really be an option.  Even though we don't have any mini uses yet, I still feel that we need to take parts of both of our childhood Christmases and create our own traditions. 

I wanted to share with you a few of the decorations that I've brought from the States.  There are still lots of things, decorations included, that need to hop over the pond, but this is a start, and I love pulling these out and remembering their stories every year.

This little angel hung on my Mom's family tree when she was a kid.  She's always been one of my favorites.

 This beautiful child was me, aged one, a gift from someone to commemorate my first Christmas.

Legend has it, that when I was one I didn't quite understand why my parents were hanging things of a tree. If you know nothing about Christmas, it would be an odd thing, wouldn't it?  Despite thinking my parents were crazy, I wanted to take part, so I too my shoe and hung that on the tree.  What I don't understand, is how I tied the shoe, was it off my foot, or did I take it off, and why the heck was my foot so big when I was one?  Anyway, this is a family legend, so I will take it at face value, and pass it on to my eventual kids that way.

This is a rare one, we have lots of ornaments from my Mom's family tree, but not my Dads.  I think its partially because my Mom didn't like a lot of their sorta kitch decorations, and my Dad is one of four boys, I'm sure they destroyed a lot of them as well! I've always liked this little bird, the clip is getting weak, but he is about 50 and made of plastic.  On my next visit I'll be taking home the green squirel, yes, he's green.

I think this one was on my Mom's tree as well.  I brought him over because, well, he's a family tradition and I really feel that I want that connection now that I'm so far away, but also because he wasn't breakable and could be easily brought over on a plane. 
Is anyone else out there far away from their family?  How do you reconcile new traditions with the old? 

21 December 2012

Secret Santas!

This year I participated in two Secret Santas and they were a lot of fun!  As I have no ability to not open a gift in front of me I opened them as soon as they arrived.  Please excuse the terrible pictures, there is no light at all!

The first one was organized by Char over at T rexes and Tiaras. I can't say who I sent my gifts too, but I do know that mine were from the lovely Helen over at I accidentaly spent my wages at Top Shop.   The limit on this exchange was £5 and I can't help but think that my gifter made hers stretch further than I was able to stretch mine. 

Helen sent me a really cute notebook, some Earl Grey tea (how in the world did she know that's my favorite kind?), chocolates (these didn't last long) and a very cute pen!  Thanks Helen for everything, it was so thoughtful!
I also took part in a gift exchange over at Faith Hope & Charity Shopping.  There were several rules to follow here and I did my best, but you know, Americans and rules don't always go well!  My partner was was Mrs M, over at Mrs M Makes.  When I was perusing her blog for ideas I was struck by how talented Mrs M is, and I was feeling pretty lucky that she was my gift buddy.  Let me tell ya, was I ever lucky!
 Mrs M sent me a Milk Tray, earrings, a Grindly plate, a Jaj Pyrex gravy boat and a felt decoration.  Squeal!
Mrs M made the earrings herself, and I'll be wearing them to all my Christmas events. 
I have loads of Grindly Petelware jugs, but this is my first plate and its very special.  All of my other plates were very welcoming!

This Jaj Pyrex gravy boat is part of the Matchmaker rage, and this is my first Matchmaker piece!  What can I say, this is a Christmas of firsts.  It's funny, because I've bid on various bits with this patter on eBay and I've never won, and now I have some!

The most challenging aspect of this exchange was to give something that symbolizes deck the halls.  I'm decking my mantel piece with this lovely felted decoration.

I just love doing these exchanges.  It's so much fun to read through someones blog and really try to get something that they would like, and on the flip side, to get a gift that is a true surprise.  That doesn't really happen when you get to be to the ripe old age of 31 (for another week or so).  My one regret was that I wasn't able to send Mrs M some of my baked goods, I just wasn't sure how to mail them.  Any suggestions?

I really hope that I was able to make the people I bought for just as happy as my gifters have made me!

Did you participate in a gift exchange?  How did it go?

19 December 2012

A Rather Late Thanksgiving

I realize that Christmas is just around the corner and this might be blasphemous, but Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I love the food and the togetherness.  And the pumpkin pie!  This year we were in Rome and it went badly.  Very badly. 

I found a Scottish pub that had Thanksgiving on, they sold us tickets just as they ran out of turkey.  It was terrible. 

So, we decided to celebrate the weekend after we came home.  My MIL made the turkey and the trimmings, and I made the pumpkin pie.  I know this comes from a can, but this is what we do in the good old US of A!

I gathered my ingredients, the recipe is on the back of Libbys Pumpkin mix. We got ours from Waitrose. I found the graham cracker crust at Tescos a few weeks ago.

 I then threw everything into a bowl and mixed it up. 
 It was then poured into the pre made pie crust.
 About 40 minutes later it came out ready to go.
We added some whipped cream and both Mr Grumpy and his mom were really happy with it!

17 December 2012

Thrifty Monday

Hi everyone, happy week before Christmas!?!?!  Are all your presents wrapped under the tree?  Mine certainly are not!

This week I have a couple of finds for you that I have been putting off to show you more exciting finds.  Not that I don't love every piece in my collection equally!

First up this  Barker Bros Primrosa jug.  It goes with the plates I found a while ago, and I thought they needed an extra friend. 

It was pretty dirty when I found it at Spittelfields market, and I really thought that I could clean it up.  Unfortunately, that was not really the case.  As you can see by the stain by the lip of the jug. 
This jug was also pretty chippy, but I think those pieces need extra love.  Or something like that.  It's been so long since I bought this that I can't remember what I paid.  I don't think I would have spent more than a pound or two.

Next up is this pretty Jaj Pyrex Chelsea sugar bowl.  I got this one off of eBay a few months ago.  Don't ask what I spent, I can't remember.  

I thought that this piece would benefit from at outdoors photo shoot.  Clearly this was before the demon frost from the depths of  Siberia descended upon the UK.  

Did you find anything good this week?  Will you be buying any of your friends and family thrifty gifts?

I’m going to link up with Magpie Monday at Me and my Shadow, and Thrift Share Monday at Apron Thrift Girl, and Thrifty Love at Cap Creations, and the Thriftasaurus at Sir Thrift A Lot, and Junkin Joe at The Cottage Market..

10 December 2012


I was out at the mall with Mr Grumpy and his mom when I got a text from my local charity shop.  They had some cups for me to check out.  Squeal!

Of course, I had to get them out of the mall and back to our neighborhood in under an hour.  Not easy, but I did it.  We can always go to the mall, but we won't always have the chance of getting tea cups!

When I got to the shops the nice woman who works there pulled out these four pretty tea cups. They aren't Pyrex, but Phoenix.

This is where the mystery got deeper.   You see, the back stamp reads: For Phoenix, Made in USA, 321.  Now I hadn't heard of this company, but I thought the cups were pretty, and they did fly all the way over the pond to come and live with me, who also flew all the way over the pond to live with them.  I payed the 4 quid and went home.

Upon doing some more research I found this page, about a company called Phoenix.  However this was a British company, not American.  Ever stranger, I found the yellow rose pattern on the website here.  I'm rather confused.

So what do I have?  Is it a company that I can't find?  Did Phoenix have an American factory?  Do you know?  Have you found anything  good this week, or even better, do you have your own thrifty mystery to share?

I’m going to link up with Magpie Monday at Me and my Shadow, and Thrift Share Monday at Apron Thrift Girl, and Thrifty Love at Cap Creations, and the Thriftasaurus at Sir Thrift A Lot.

06 December 2012

Quiet, It's Secret

Its certainly is beginning to look a lot like Christmas, and it really feels like Christmas!

I love so many things about this time of year, the jolly mood most people are in, the decorations, baking and eating without counting calories.  Plus the presents.  I love trying to find the perfect gifts for my friends and family.  Mr Grumpy is near impossible to buy for, but I always manage something that he likes.

This year I've decided to expand my gift circle by participating in two Secret Santas, or Polyanna's if your from New Jersey.

The first one is a secret, and I can't tell you who its for until after the holidays.  Char over at T Rexes and Tiaras organized everything.  
The second one isn't so secret and it was organized by Faith Hope and Charity Shopping.  My swap partner is the creative Mrs M over at Mrs M Makes.    I was a bit liberal with the handmade portion, as I'm not really very crafty, but I hope that she'll still enjoy the treats I sent. 

I posted both parcels this past Saturday as we just have so much on over the next few weeks that I was worried I wouldn't have another chance.  Unfortunately, on Friday I was out with some friends from work and while I managed to take pictures of the wrapped gifts in my hazy state, I didn't get photos of the actual gifts.  Hopefully both ladies will post them on their blogs and I will be able to show you what I got for them.

Are you participating in a gift exchange this year?

03 December 2012

A Tale of Two Bowls

Several months ago I found this bowl. It was sad and all alone on the self at the now closed Spittlefields Crypt charity shop.  I took it home, cleaned it up, and introduced it to all of my other Pyrex bowls.

Still, the bowl was lonely.  Once upon a time it had been part of a set and its family had long since gone astray.

Then, one day, I spotted a red bowl on eBay, a bowl that I just knew had to be part of the set that the blue bowl was from.  I bid, and then was almost outbid at the last second, but my reserve bid saved me.  Eventually this little lonely red bowl found its way to my doorstep.
I was right, they were part of a three bowl set and now they have been reunited.  (Cue the playing of At Last in the background)

Now these only sad and lonely bowls are happily reunited.  All they need from me is love, cake batter, and the smallest piece, a yellow bowl.  I'll be keeping my eyes peeled for that one.

What have you found this week?  Now that I've given my collections personalities have I crossed the line from quirky to actually totally insane?

I’m going to link up with Magpie Monday at Me and my Shadow, and Thrift Share Monday at Apron Thrift Girl, and Thrifty Love at Cap Creations, and the Thriftasaurus at Sir Thrift A Lot.

01 December 2012

Advent Tea

A few weeks ago I saw Advent Tea posted on Maria in the Wood.  I love tea and I just had to join in.  So I went to her shop and a few days later this cute little tin showed up on my doorstep.

Basically, instead of having a bit of chocolate every day leading up to Christmas I'll be having a different type of tea!  What a great idea!

There is also a blog so that everyone can follow along.

Happy first day of December!

26 November 2012

Original Thrift

Morning everyone!  How goes it in the land of thrift?  I've had a pretty good week myself.  

First up is this beautiful tin!  It joins its cake equivalent that I bought off of eBay ages ago. I found this in a junk/vintage shop called This Shop Rocks on Brick Lane.  A lot of the items are rather pricey, but this was only £3. I try to get there at least once a week and was thrilled to find this beautiful tin.

This Schott Mainz - Jenaer Glass bowl took all of my bargining powers to get.  I found it at Spittlfields Market and the seller wanted £9.  I felt like that was nuts so I put it down and walked away.  I couldn't stop thinking about it though and after picking up my lunch I headed back.  I managed to get him down to £5.  He said no at first, but I pointed out that the decoration had a bit of damage and he caved.  At first I thought that Schott Mainz was the German version of Pyrex, but after a bit of research I learned that its the company that invented the type of glass Pyrex is made of.  I think this is so pretty and was an amazing addition to my collection.
So, what did you find this week?  Do you have any tried and true bargining tips?

I’m going to link up with Magpie Monday at Me and my Shadow, and Thrift Share Monday at Apron Thrift Girl, and Thrifty Love at Cap Creations.

22 November 2012

Peanut Butter Time

A few weeks ago Mr Grumpy, my mother in law and me headed up to Liverpool for a weekend away.  I'll be posting pictures and thoughts on that soon.  I knew that we would need snacks for the train ride so I made.... peanut butter cookies!

Now, I have a job that requires stupid hours.  Therefore I don't have time, full stop.  I found the recipe, made sure I had the ingredients and forgot about it.  

Now come to Friday night when I walked in my door at 8 pm.  I had laundry to do, bags to pack, a house to tidy and cookies to make.  It was daunting, but the cookies were not going to fall by the wayside.  So I started them first.

I gathered everything I needed. 

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/4 cup flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Then I beat the butter until it was creamy, added the sugars and beat some more.
Next up I threw in the egg and peanut butter. 
I then mixed the dry ingredients.

And added it all together:
Then I found out that the next step was to leave the dough for 3 hours in the fridge.


It was just after 9:30 at this point. 

Instead I stuck the dough in the freezer for an hour.  However, this is a picture of it in the fridge, before the idea dawned on me. 
Then I ran around the house, cleaning things up and taking care of a slightly ill Mr Grumpy.  When the hour was up I got my cookies spread out on baking sheets while the oven warmed up.

To make the pattern I used a fork:
Around midnight I ended up with this and headed off to sleep.
Mr Grumpy and his mom were very appreciative of the home made snack!

19 November 2012

Its Raining Pyrex

About a month ago I was sick, really sick.  I had a terrible double ear infection and it felt like I was living in a tunnel. Because of this I was home from work on a weekday.  A rare occurence indeed.  I soon discovered that I needed milk, or some other staple that I wanted enough to leave the house.  This is when I discovered a new charity shop, just a two minute walk away.  It didn't have a sign yet, so I would have never known it was there.  The place was packed with vintage stuff in really good condition.  Somehow, I just knew that eventually I would find something there. 

This past Saturday I ran down there while Mr Gumpy took him Mom home.  I was not disapointed!

Piled on top of each other I found these pieces:

A June Rose Jaj Pyrex bowl!

A Jaj Pyrex Snowflake bowl with..... with a lid!
And, drumroll please....this Jaj Pyrex dish with a mystery pattern!

Anyone know the name?

On top of my amazing finds, the staff at this show was amazing.  They took my phone number and promised to give me a call whenever they get Pyrex and Utiltiy China in!  I feel really lucky to have such a great shop so close by!

I’m going to link up with Magpie Monday at Me and my Shadow, and Thrift Share Monday at Apron Thrift Girl, and Thrifty Love at Cap Creations.

15 November 2012

eBay Fail #2

A few months ago I posted about my first UK eBay fail here. Now I've had another.  I guess that when you consider how much I buy off of eBay that these types of things are bound to happen on occation.  Still, I find it to be really dissapointing.

A few weeks ago I won an auction for 4 Grindley Tea/Coffee cups, as the seller listed it.  What I recieved was 4 espresso, mini type cups.
Now, these are cute, really cute, and I might have bought them anyway if they had been listed properly.  However, they aren't very useful and this isn't what the seller listed. So I contacted the seller and met a very rude woman.  First she wouldn't let me send them back, then I raised a claim and was able to send them back, then she claimed that they were all broken and that I didn't pack them in anything, besides a box I assume.  Of course they were packed very well, better than when she sent them to me. 

This is just to show you the size difference.

In the end I asked eBay to make the final ruling and I got my money back and left negitive feedback.  Part of me feels like I shouldn't have bothered to go to so  much effort, sometimes I wouldn't bother.  However, I think that its really important for sellers to know when they list things incorrectly.  I think too many people just don't say anything and that makes it more difficult to deal with sellers when things are perfect.  

Anyone have any bad eBay luck recently?


12 November 2012

As if I Could Stop

I have this problem that I'd like to share.  Often when I go to buy Christmas presents, or maybe just when I'm researching options, or looking for ideas, I end up with a present for myself.  I was picking up something secret for Mr Grumpy and I found this:

A Booths Blue Mist coffee pot.  Now, I don't drink coffee, and I'm not even sure if Booths falls under my allowed utility china umbrella.  However, my Booths jug that I found here and it was getting rather lonley on its own.  Plus, I just love the blue color.  How could I say no to a 99p eBay win?  Well, I couldn't, only someone much stronger and with better budgeting skills than I could have.

My other find was actually something I forgot to add to another post.  It was found along with my massive Johnson Brothers haul a few weeks ago, or maybe a month at this point?  It was in the window of a charity shop and called to me.

I don't know what Fru-Grains are.  All I know is that this tin, at £5 had my name on it.  I think that I'll be using it to hold my wooden spoons.  However, I'm a bit worried if it gets damp.  How do you display your vintage tins?  Do you use them, or are they there to be ornimental?

I’m going to link up Magpie Monday at Me and my Shadow, Thrift Share Monday at Apron Thrift Girl and Thrifty Love over at Cap Creations.