Thursday, January 19, 2012

Update on Antiques Roadshow

I have been away too long.  I am not sure how the time slipped by, but I apologize to anyone who may have actually missed me.

The Antiques Roadshow came to Tulsa a couple of years ago.  I never got around to posting my update, so here it is. 

Well, the items I took to the Antiques Roadshow in Tulsa were, shall we say, met with less than eager enthusiasm by the appraiser.  It was the end of the day; we were in the last group to gain entrance into the event; the appraisers appeared to be tired; etc.  I have to say that my sister and I were quite surprised to find many appraisers consulting books and using computers to look up items.  That was a reality check.  Could it be the appraisers weren't the all-knowing experts that we had supposed?  No offense, Antiques Roadshow, but we weren't the only ones that were not feeling the love from some of the appraisers.  One poor lady in front of us had an unusual and lovely, round silver butter server.  She came away from the table with a look of disgust on her face.  I said, "That's really beautiful.  I hope it was worth a lot!"  She replied, "$35!  I don't think that's right.  I paid a lot more than that for it!"
(Her butter server looked a lot like this, which is currently available for $95 online.  Maybe the appraiser was wrong!)

Now, don't get me wrong.  There were several that appeared to know their stuff like the back of their hand.  The man in "Textiles" who examined my sister's quilt explained how it was possibly the most beautiful example of a Cathedral Window quilt that he had ever seen.  He carefully told her how to care for it and launder it.  (Newsflash!  You aren't supposed to put them in the washing machine, even if it is the extra-large capacity kind on the gentle cycle and you are using Woolite.  It will destroy the fibers and pull out the stitching that your grandmother, great-aunt, second-cousin's mother's sister's best friend lovingly hand-sewed all those years ago.  And for heaven's sake, stop putting them in the dryer.  They should be carefully spread out over a lush, green lawn and air-dryed, allowing the sun to bleach out any unsightly stains.  Note to self:  Stop washing Grandmother's and Grandma's quilts and shoving them in the dryer for the maximum drying cycle...)  My sister's beautiful quilt, that truly was lovingly made by her husband's grandma as a gift for him, was worth approximately $600 in the retail market.     

(This isn't the actual quilt.  I don't have a photo of that one.  This is a photo I stole procured from eBay.  I just wanted you to see what the pattern looked like.  Each of those white lines is actually a square that has been folded and pressed around the colored fabric in the middle.  Talk about time consuming!!)

On to the "Silver" table, where my sister displayed her late-mother-in-law's silverware set.  It was gorgeous!  A full 77-piece set of real sterling silver forks, knives, spoons, serving spoons, butter knives, pickle forks, lemon forks, aspic servers, salt spoons, food pushers, asparagus servers, bone forks, bird forks, marrow scoops, etc.!  Did you know there are 29 different spoons alone and that's not even counting the scoops and servers.  It's enough to make your head spin!  (I don't know about you, but my Home Economics teacher only taught us the main pieces.  She was probably convinced that none of us from our little town in the sticks would ever even see a marrow scoop, let alone have to know how to use one.  ...And come to think of it, she was probably right about that particular piece of silverware and most of the others.)  Of course, all of those obscure pieces weren't really a part of the set left to my sister.  Still, there were some odd pieces that make you wonder exactly what went on at the dinner parties of old and how long did one of those parties last?     
Regular Teaspoon, 4" - 6"

5 o'clock Teaspoon, 4 1/2" - 5 1/2"

Marrow Scoop

Ice Cream Fork

Sherbet Fork

Seriously?  There is 1/2" difference in those spoons!  And may I just say, "Ew," to that marrow scoop?  Gross.  Lastly, who the heck eats ice cream or sherbet with a fork??  The spaces between the tines defeat the purpose by letting all that melty goodness drip back into the bowl (or on the shirt, if you are me)!
Anyway... the appraiser looked at the silverware and proclaimed it to be sterling, which we already knew from the marks on the pieces.  He did comment on the pattern and noted that the pieces probably were just silver-plated originally, but had been "refaced" with sterling at some point.  He also noted that the silver was very old, dating back to the 1920's or 1940's, I believe.  (I have to admit that I was not listening as closely as I should have been.  I was one of those looky-loos gawking at what everyone else brought and second-guessing the items I chose to bring.  In hindsight, I wish I had brought my great-grandmother's carved ivory pin that says, "Mother".)  The appraiser looked up some things in a book on sterling silver dinnerware and proclaimed the entire set to have a wholesale value of approximately $2,500 - $3,500.  My sister had just looked online at the price for a complete 77-piece set and it was priced around $12,500.  So there you go.

Now on to the "Collectibles" line for me... and it was a loooooong one.  Fortunately, both of my items fell into that category, so I didn't have to move to another line later.  

This is a genuine Griswold cast iron Santa Claus "Hello Kiddies!!" cake mold.  It is two-pieces and was produced in the 1940s-1950s.  An original sells for upward of $400, so there are reproductions out there.  Buyer beware!  

You can identify an original by the following:

1. Originals show Santa's tongue in his open mouth.  Reproductions do not show the tongue. 

2. Many originals (though not all) were made from a mold with a casting flaw on the side of Santa's toy bag.

3. Marks on reproductions have lettering that looks uneven and unprofessional. The lettering on the original is small and even. 

4. Original side loop numbering shows the 9 underlined to prevent it being accidentally read as a 6, as in '868' instead of '898.' Copies do not have an underline.

5. Like most modern reproduction cast iron items, new copies have a rough surface.  The originals have a slick surface inside and out.  New cast iron pieces also frequently have excess metal flash inside details or at edges and may show the grinding marks from cheap, hasty manufacture.

Santa measures approximately 12 inches tall, 7 inches long, and with the 2 pieces joined it is about 4 1/2 inches deep.  

The appraiser knew nothing about the piece, but valued it around $150.  My sister gave it to me as a gift several years ago, and she found it in a thrift store.  She only paid $7.50, so no matter how you look at it, Santa was a great buy!

This complete Blondie & Dagwood set (with Alexander, Cookie, Daisy, & Daisy's five puppies) is just one of the cookie cutter sets I took with me.   A similar set recently sold for $350 in an online auction.  I also had some vintage metal and plastic Mickey & Minnie Mouse cutters, among others.   Let's just say the appraisers and cookie cutter collectors vary widely in their estimation of what these early cutters are worth.  (The appraiser knew nothing about cookie cutters, either.  She estimated the small bundle I brought at $50.  Collectors would value them around $500.)

I also took some vintage Beatles albums.  I didn't have the Butcher cover, but I had some original albums from the early 1960s.  The appraiser didn't take much of a look and, I think, way undervalued the really early pieces. 

After careful consideration, my sister and I decided that for the most part, we would stick with the collectors' opinions (the quilt being a very pleasant exception).  The appraisers may not have thought much of our treasures, but we love them, and really, isn't that what matters in the end?  

Still, we had fun, and if you watched the show, you may have caught a glimpse of us in the background.  We were there behind a horrid painting and again beside another item being gushed over for the cameras.  Not our best angle, but proof we were there! 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Dear Life...

Last Tuesday, I managed to burn my hand by stupidly grabbing hold of the splatter screen on a pan coming directly out of a 500-degree oven.  I had a 3" burn across my palm and burns on my thumb and each finger.  Those burns were pretty much at the joints, as my hand had been curled around the handle.  Yes, stupid, stupid, stupid.  Not exactly the stuff that instills confidence in one's blog when one writes about food a lot... or even for a sporadic blogger like me. 

not an oven mitt...

Wednesday, my husband became ill with severe abdominal cramps, which thankfully, were not related to my cooking!  I spent 2 1/2 hours at UrgiCare with him (after having spent an hour at the doctor for my hand), and then an additional 3 1/2 hours at the Emerency Room.  He was admitted to the hospital for immediate surgery.  During the surgery, they determined he had a twisted bowel, a very dangerous, and potentially deadly situation.  Thankfully, the doctors, nurses, techs, and other hospital staff were all very knowledgeable and good at their jobs.  They were all very nice, as well.  My husband spent 6 days in the hospital and I was there most of the time, only coming home three times to get clean clothes, check the mail, pick up supplies, etc.  Fortunately, our neighbor was kind enough to take care of our dog while we were gone. 

The times I went home, I left in the late evening at returned after midnight.  That was for two reasons:  1.  My husband mostly slept through the time I was gone; and, 2.  I could actually get a decent parking space when I came back to the hospital.  Their parking lots are always packed during the day and evening!  They have a lot of construction going on right now, too, so parking is really limited. 

St. Francis Hospital, AKA "The Pink Palace", Tulsa, Oklahoma

Six days of near-constant togetherness in the hospital can also take its toll.  I drove my husband crazy a time or two with all my questions, but he was a captive audience and I had to take advantage of that, you know?  (LOL)  When he started driving me crazy, I went to the snack bar, cafeteria, or gift shop.  The hospital has great merchandise in the gift shop, but it isn't over-priced.  The snack bar and cafeteria have a wide variety of really good food.  There is even a Starbucks!  (That is the one place I didn't get to visit, though, as the line was always long and I was not willing to wait.)    Of course, he slept a lot, which forced me to watch television with the mute button on.  I was really happy when I figured out how to turn on the Closed Captioning and could stop trying to read lips.  That only took three days!  (haha)  We were also very glad when we had visitors, as it gave us an additional break from having to entertain each other. {Special shout out of thanks to my cousin Ronda and her family, who brought me lunch and dinner on three separate occasions! The food was all delicious and much appreciated!  We love you guys!!}

My husband was released from the hospital Monday morning and we got home around noon.  It's hard to get any rest while at the hospital, as the patient is constantly being awakened to have their vitals checked, draw blood, walk around the floor for exercise, change the IV bags, etc.  That inadvertently awakens the family member (AKA "unpaid caregiver") staying with the patient.  But it is possibly even harder to rest at home - at least for said unpaid caregiver.  Since we returned home I have washed clothes from the bottomless laundry basket, picked up his prescription, made homemade applesauce (recipe to be blogged later), washed dishes, made pudding, put the hospital stuff away, folded the endless laundry, etc., etc.  I wanted to lie down and take a nap, but our dog was hogging my side of the bed.  She was so happy to have her "daddy" home, she wasn't leaving his side for any reason! 

Leiua and her "daddy"

[Now that I think about it, the hospital staff that drew the blood only ever came in at night.  Is it just an odd coincidence that phlebotomists work those hours, or are there really Vampyres in Tulsa?  ...Okay, just a little "House of Night" humor.  If you are not familiar with the book series by P. C. & Kristen Cast, it is young adult fiction about a vampyre finishing school set in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and the surrounding area.  I am enjoying reading the books, as the stories are well written.  I especially like reading about the local scenery, stores, activities, and the like, though.  It really makes the books come alive for me.  If you are into the whole supernatural literature scene, you should definitely check the books out.] 

Anyway, my husband is slow to get around and on some pretty stiff pain medication.  He will be off work for several days, at the very least.  Thank goodness for the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), as it will allow me to stay home and care for him, as well.  That way I won't have to worry about him all day while I am at work.  Hopefully, we won't kill each other from all the togetherness, since there is no gift shop or snack bar for escape!  Hmmm... QuikTrip is only a couple of miles down the road...

Monday, January 9, 2012

Homemade Wrinkle Releaser Spray

I hate to iron!  Wait... I don't just hate to iron.  I really, really, really hate to iron!  That being said, wrinkle releaser spray is one of my favorite products.  When I first found out there was such a thing, I bought a bottle to try it out.  Downy Wrinkle Releaser Spray worked wonderfully and I loved it. 

Then, my grocery store stopped carrying the product.  I found out that Dollar General Stores carried it, so I bought it there for several months.  Then they, too, discontinued the product.  However, they had a store brand that seemed to work just as well.  As a bonus, it was half the cost.  I used that for several more months and then the unthinkable happened.  They stopped carrying their own version of wrinkle releaser spray.

In a fit of frustration, I decided there had to be a recipe for making my own wrinkle releaser spray out there somewhere.  This was over ten years ago, but I after an hour or so I was able to find a recipe.  It was very simple.  In fact, it was so simple I didn't think it would be effective.  I whipped up a batch and put it in an empty spray bottle.  I sprayed a very wrinkled shirt and waited.  Surprisingly, the homemade product worked as well or better as the store-bought wrinkle releaser spray.  The cost of making my own spray was pennies on the dollar.  Given the simplicity of the recipe, it just doesn't make sense to pay the high cost for the store-brand version.  Give the recipe a try and see if you agree with me.

You need three things to make your own Wrinkle Releaser Spray: 
1) empty spray bottle (32 ounce) - may be used, but must be clean
2) liquid fabric softener (any brand)
3) tap water. 

Step 1:  Take the lid off the spray bottle;
Step 2:  Uncap the liquid fabric softener and pour one capful;
Step 3:  Carefully pour the liquid fabric softener into the empty spray bottle;
Step 4:  Fill the spray bottle the rest of the way with tap water;
Step 5:  Recap the spray bottle and shake to mix well.

Spray directly onto colorfast clothing and hang them to allow wrinkles to fall out on their own.  You may hold the fabric taut and gently "brush" the wrinkles out with your free hand, as well.  To test for colorfastness, find a hidden seam of the garment or an hidden spot. Apply the spray to the garment and then dab the area with a clean cotton cloth. If the color removes itself from the garment onto the cloth, you should not use the spray on the clothing.  In all honesty, I have found that if I can throw the clothing in the washer, I can use the wrinkle releaser spray on it.  If a garment is marked "Dry Clean Only", I do the colorfast test before spraying it with the releaser.



Give it a try and let me know what you think!