Goodwill treasure hunting

I had a structural integration appointment this afternoon over in SE Portland. (It’s also known as “rolfing.” The structural integration, I mean, not SE Portland.) When I happen to end up on that side of town close to rush hour, I like to avoid traffic by killing time at the ultimate shopping destination: the big Goodwill store at SE 6th and Grand.

Let me preface this by saying that Goodwill of the Columbia-Willamette triumphs over all other states’ Goodwill stores. (David and I go to Goodwill everywhere we go, so I have some data to judge by.) Our Goodwill stores are clean; they are well-organized; basically, they feel less like thrift stores and more like retail stores. In fact, they now sell new items — Target seconds — as well.

The last out-of-state Goodwill stores I went to, in Arizona and California, felt more like junk stores. Kind of dusty. Dimly lit. Merchandise barely sorted into categories. I felt like I had to literally dig through heaps of things to find anything decent.

But I digress. When I went to Goodwill today, I got a little too caught up in the concept of “killing time.” After my usual overview of the store (first to board games for David, then to stationery to look for scrapbooking stuff), I decided to check out the children’s books.  This location does a fantastic job of sorting out Newbery Award books from the rest of the kids’ books, so I like to see if I can add anything to my collection. I recently discovered, however, that they have not sorted the younger-kids’ chapter books in the same way. Ack! This means that one might find a lovely book like Cynthia Ryland’s Missing May right there with Nasty Little Beasts, Doorway to Doom, and Disneyland Hostage.

No books were moved in the making of this photo. This is just as I found them. My eyes! MY EYES!!!

This effectively doubles the number of shelves one has to go through to find obscure Newbery books. While sitting on the floor going through the final chapter-book shelves (Why are the ones on the bottom always the sports-themed books? Do they think boys are more likely to not care about getting dirty?), I came across this classic that I had not read in years and years and years:

I wondered if I even remembered the storyline after all that time, so I opened it up.

Big mistake. Because of who I am as a person, I suddenly found myself on page 40, still sitting on the floor, blocking traffic. Rush hour was long over.

I did what I had to do. I got in the checkout line, cart filled with a Creative Memories scrapbook, an outdoor cushion to identical to the one I sent Q for his dorm chair, a sealed copy of Wits and Wagers for only $2.99 . . . and that copy of Daddy Long Legs.  I mean, it was 99 cents, and I don’t think I already own it.

I know I don’t own Disneyland Hostage. I’m going to have to go back for that one.

Culling cookbooks

Whew!

That’s the sound of a long, long day of culling our cookbooks.

David thought it would be a good idea to clean out the pantry this weekend. We’ve got a small walk-in pantry closet with shelves on two sides, which is a boon as we have a pretty small kitchen (10 ft x 10 ft) for a house this size. The pantry serves all kinds of purposes – it even holds brooms on the back of the door! – and has a pretty well-defined setup.

  • Top left: Extra bulk-purchased supplies like paper towels and ziploc bags, as well as our raclette cooker (and a coffee maker for guests)
  • Left shelf #2: Beverages! Besides hot chocolate mix, Ovaltine, and Torani syrups, we have enough flavors of tea for a variety of tastes.
  • Left shelf #3: Canned goods
  • Left shelf #4: Spices, spice mixes, etc.
  • Left shelf #5: Lunch boxes and water bottles
  • Left side floor: Reusable shopping bags and a tub of dog treats

I am fully aware this is more detail than anyone desires. I’m going to continue recording this for posterity, though!

  • Top right: Snow cone maker and supplies, milkshake maker, giant tub of cookie cutters
  • Right shelf #2: Pasta, rice, baking mixes
  • Right shelves #3 & 4: Cookbooks
  • Right shelf #5: All Q’s baking doodads (cookie cutters, food coloring, icing bags, etc.), as well as the pancake griddle
  • Right shelf floor: Basket of paper plates and cups, paper bag filled with paper bags

Now, back to the cookbooks! I love them, because as you all well know, I collect books on areas of my life that need improvement, as though the books themselves will miraculously change me. Our cookbook collection was purged ten years ago when we moved here, and again about four years ago before we went to Europe. Today, however, we got serious.

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After cooking with Blue Apron for the last six months, David and I have realized the difference between cookbooks we would use and those that just collect dust. We like cookbooks to have photos, step-by-step directions, and suggested side dishes. David, especially, likes recipes that are a little different. We like to use fresh ingredients, rather than start with, say, a can of Cream of Mushroom soup. We sorted out those types of cookbooks and ended up with one shelf of books we’d look at to plan regular meals.

The second shelf is more “specialty” stuff: various foreign cuisines, desserts (cookies, especially, for Q), party cookbooks (tapas, fondue), and cookbooks of sentimental value.

David has been “mathing it up” all day, telling me that we still need to get rid of all but five of the cookbooks since we have more recipes than we could ever need, numerically. I, on the other hand, am quite pleased with myself, as I have culled an entire shelf and filled a box to take to Powell’s to sell. It was difficult; I got rid of quite a few I thought I couldn’t part with, and there were quite a few times today that I wanted to quit. This kind of purge stresses me out quite a bit. But I persevered!

Next step: meal planning and cooking. Let’s see if we can break away from the support of having food magically appear à la Blue Apron and make it happen all on our own.

Plan #11 – Corral my favorite books

Books

As part of my ongoing guest room update, I moved a couple of bookcases back into the room from other points in the house. One is serving as a nightstand/shelf for books that guest people might be interested in (such as random fiction, anthologies of trivia, and all our old high school yearbooks). The other is my stash of Books of Yore.

You see, I am obsessed with the past. Growing up, my two favorite authors were Laura Ingalls Wilder, author of the Little House books, and Louisa May Alcott, author of Little Women. You may have heard that Quinland’s middle name, Rose, was chosen because of ties to both of them. As I got older, I became interested in their lives and their journeys as writers, and I started collecting books about them as well as adding to my collection of books by them. (Don’t ask how many editions of Little Women I have. Each one is different in some way!)

In the last ten years or so, I began my love affair with Jane Austen. Inspired by the 2005 Keira Knightley version of Pride and Prejudice, I read all of Austen’s books and fell in love. Again, I have begun to collect books about her as well as books by her. I have a few fan-fiction sequels, as well, though thankfully I can get my fill of those online. (I stumbled upon the ones I have at a garage sale. Can you imagine? I simply had to buy them all.)

Around the same time, I started to read L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables series. I enjoyed them tremendously, but when I read her Emily of New Moon series, Emily replaced Anne in a heartbeat. I love those books. Something about Emily and her quest to become a writer just resonates with something inside me, though I fully admit I haven’t shown anywhere near the passion – the need to write stories – that she did. Someday… someday.

All these old books about young people got me interested in old educational materials, and I’ve started to pick those up when I find them. I have a set of McGuffy’s Readers (a reproduction set, of course), but I’ve also found some really interesting textbooks on specific subjects at antique shops and estate sales. It’s fascinating to see how straightforward they are. No bells and whistles and games and illustrations for those kids! Just stuff to memorize and questions to answer, the way God intended. (Just kidding. In case there was any confusion on that point.)

Historical fiction; biographies; old school books… hooray! I love that bookshelf. Every time I see those books, they make me happy. They spark joy. I purge my books on a regular basis, but those ones are definite keepers.