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Sunday, January 15, 2017

Old Brick House Vintage Market

I love the pop up antique markets that have become a thing in the past few years. They typically are open 1-3 days a month and either move locations around a given city or stay in the same home space to make them easier to find. As often as not a vintage pop up market will be housed in an old warehouse, barn or vacant store front. I think of them as kind of a fresh take on flea markets.

The greater Phoenix area has several of these that have become extremely popular with long lines of eager buyers waiting to get in as soon as they open each month.  On Friday my friend Lora and I were lunching in downtown Mesa when we noticed a sale going on two doors down. The Old Brick House has been in Mesa selling antiques and furnishings for years, but they have now re imagined themselves as a pop up shop. If you are into vintage, shabby, and unique treasures, this is the place for you!

Lora found a couple of fun items at very reasonable prices. I'm afraid I had to resist as I am still anticipating a move soon. No more shopping for me :(

Here is the Old Brick House schedule for 2017. For more info contact them at
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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Great Green Peppers

I returned home after several weeks away and the refrigerator was bare. There is a wonderful market near me that only sells produce so that is where I headed first thing Monday morning. The green peppers were on sale for 10 for a $1. That's right, a dime each! So of course,  I filled a bag.

 I have read that there are differences in peppers. Those with with 3 bumps are male and those with 4 bumps are female. Supposedly those with 3 bumps have fewer seeds. 

 I don't know, they looked pretty much the same to me...

With only two of us in the house 10 green peppers is a lot. So what to do? Freeze them of course! I hope you know how easy it is to freeze peppers. 

Simply core them and remove all the seeds. Some I sliced into strips and some I diced.
 Place them in freezer bags and pop them in the freezer.  They are so easy to pull out  and throw into recipes. I use the strips for dishes like stir fry, fajitas and sweet and sour meatballs. The diced peppers will go into chili, omelettes  and goulash. They will last in the freezer for a couple of months.

The remaining peppers are on tonight's menu. I have a couple of favorite stuffed pepper recipes that I found via Pinterest that I can share with you here, 

~Recipe for Stuffed Green Peppers with Brown Rice, Italian Sausage, and Parmesan~:


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Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Top 5 Posts of 2016

As the new year starts many people set New Year's resolutions. I'm more about setting new goals, such as  reading more books, taking a new class and traveling to someplace new. I really love learning new things and I find so much inspiration on the internet these days. My own blog is now 5 years old and it's been quite a learning curve. Thanks to all of you who read and follow my posts! Here are my most popular posts of 2016

Coming in at #5, my Thanksgiving post

Next at #4, my favorite reasons to shop at thrift stores

My third most viewed post was about these charming little collectors items,

I was surprised by how many of you liked my little flag pin collection

So here's the thing. My blog is about antiques and collectibles. I do also love to cook and entertain so I occasionally post recipes. By far my most viewed post was my Fresh Strawberry Pie recipe. Maybe I should do a cooking blog??

Happy New Year!

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Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Are cupcakes still a thing? I hope so, because I happen to love cake and cupcakes provide the perfect serving size. They are also so much easier to take to a party - no slicing, no messy cake plate. I had two holiday functions last week and both times took my go to cupcake recipe, Martha Stewart's Red Velvet Cupcakes. I have made this recipe many times always with great success. 
I think Red Velvet cake is a Southern tradition but I don't know who can resist a light chocolate cake with rich cream cheese frosting. Because of the added red food coloring and white frosting all it takes is a few sprinkles of red sanding sugar to make these look like the perfect Christmas dessert.

 What is your favorite cupcake recipe?

Red Velvet Cupcakes

  • 2 1/2 cups cake flour (not self-rising), sifted
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-processed cocoa
  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon red gel-paste food color
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons distilled white vinegar


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with 20 paper liners. Whisk together cake flour, cocoa, and salt.
  2. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, whisk together sugar and butter until combined. Mix in food color and vanilla. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.
  3. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of buttermilk, and whisking well after each. Stir together the baking soda and vinegar in a small bowl (it will foam); add mixture to the batter, and mix on medium speed for 10 seconds.
  4. Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes. Cupcakes can be stored overnight at room temperature, or frozen up to 2 months, in airtight containers.
  5. To finish, use a small offset spatula to spread cupcakes with frosting. Chill before serving.

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces, room temperature
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


  1. Place cream cheese in a medium mixing bowl. Using a rubber spatula, soften cream cheese. Gradually add butter, and continue beating until smooth and well blended. Sift in confectioners' sugar, and continue beating until smooth. Add vanilla, and stir to combine.

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Monday, December 12, 2016

Fontanini Nativity

Many people collect Nativity sets and that may be the primary focus of their Christmas decorations. I realized many years ago that I had a couple of small nativities but not a really nice set. While vacationing in Virginia one February I wandered into a gift shop that had what remained of their Christmas items marked at 50% off. I spied this lovely nativity set and inquired about it. "Hmm," the sales clerk said, "that's one of our Fontanini's. We don't usually mark those down. Let me ask the manager." The manager obliged and I got a 16 piece Fontanini set for $100. (This was 20 years ago.)  They now sell for over $350.

I didn't realize it at the time, but Fontanini is one of the premier makers of Nativity sets. The company was founded by Emanuele Fontanini who began by making paper mache figurines in the late 1800's.

The pieces are all still made in Italy, they are all hand painted and there are dozens of figures sold separately so you can add to your collection.

 Here is the Holy Family,

and the Wise Men.

I also had a few shepherds.

 I bought this sweet shepherdess on a trip to Rome.

Gradually I added a few more pieces.

Imagine how thrilled I was to find a huge Fontanini set at an estate sale last summer!

There were over 30 figures plus a stable. 

The detail is amazing. 

Here is the camel driver tending to the Wise Men's camels.

And there is a Roman soldier checking the census.

The pieces are signed and stamped on the bottom. You can buy Fontanini at finer gift shops and online. Each figure comes boxed with a name and a story card.

Since I had duplicates of the main pieces I'll pass those on to my children.

 My husband says now I have the entire
 village of Bethlehem!

Do you have a special Nativity?

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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Christmas Idea House 2016

Every year for the last 16 years I have been involved in a truly amazing charity event.
 The Christmas Idea House is a fundraiser put on by a women's service league - the Desert Club of Mesa. Our purpose is to award needy students with college scholarships and donate to other local charitable organizations that help women and families in crisis.

 I've shared pictures over the years of some of the rooms that I have decorated. This year I thought I'd share some before and after pictures.

Here is the house that a local family "donated" to us for a week. We fill it with home decor, gift items, and gourmet treats. 

This year my committee was in charge of the Family Room. Ready, set, go!

We work all year crafting, designing and creating . First we have to unload and bring in all of our boxes.

 Hard at work. 
It usually takes us 2-3 days to get the house ready.

 At times we feel overwhelmed!

 Many, many ornaments are laid out waiting to be hung.

Things are starting to look good.

 Dining Room

 Master Bedroom and Bathroom


 Here's the Family Room after we filled it!

I am so blessed to work with such talented ladies.

If you are in the greater Phoenix area this an event not to be missed! Remember, 100% of the money we raise goes to good causes.

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