What is a monkeybox?

When I was a little girl, we had a pet monkey named Amanda. My Dad worked in the produce business, so each night he brought home that days culls in a big box - spotty cucumbers, pithy apples, limp celery, moldy oranges and the like. We called it a monkeybox. It was really just trash, but my Mom would take each piece of fruit and trim it, pare it and cut it up to make a beautiful fruit platter for Amanda. Even though it was deemed trash by one, it still had life left in it and was good for the purpose we needed it. That's how I live my life - thrifting, yard saling, looking for another's trash to be my treasure.

Friday, December 29, 2006

After Christmas Finds

I am trying to be good this year and not fall victim to any cuteness that might lie in wait at Clearance prices in the stores. I have done pretty well. But, stuff is still siting at 50 off. Things look a whole lot different at 75% and even better at 90% off.

I did find this at Wal-Mart and was quite frankly shocked to see it sitting on a shelf. In blogworld, everyone has a cloche. It was the THING to have this year. I hadn't even looked in the Christmas Department this year because I have so much stuff. Too much stuff. Plus, I prefer thrift stores for old vintage items these days. So, to find this vintage looking item on a retail shelf was wuite a surprise.

I think it could use a drop of color somewhere in there, but will think about that next year. Maybe even just some little people milling about. Something. I paid $10.00 for this after looking at it three times and thhen finally deciding to spring for it. $10.00 is a lot of money to me. But, if I had seen it at the thrift for $10.00, I probably would have jumped right on it. I am so odd.

I also found this for my Grocery Store, General Store only village that I have amassed over the years. DH and I met while working in a grocery store, so it seemed only fitting that we buy a Grocery Store as our first village piece. Then it just grew from there. It gets harder to find one each year. Since I am here all the time and this is DH's main money stop on his bread route - it seemed appropriate to join our village this year.

I had spotted these for $15.00 before Christmas, but I knew there would be plenty left after Christmas. I was right and it was only $4.00. It even has a fully stocked produce department in the window which is an added feature as my Dad was in the produce business for about 45 years.

We are headed off to grocery shop in preparation of a possible snowfall and the upcoming New Year's festivities. Must resist temptation.......

Growing Up Is Hard

Christmas Eve 9:00 pm - DS and Daddy decide to wrap the presents for me. They disappear into the bedroom with rolls of paper, tape and some bows.

9:30 pm - DS comes skidding into the bathroom so fast he nearly falls since he is wearing only socks on the hardwood floors. I hear him say, very excitedly, "Look what I made!"

When I turn to look at him, I see that he has fashioned himself a sort of a Super Hero mask out of wrapping paper. He wass so proud that he made it and got it on right and that he can SEE through it. He was just beaming.

The thing is, DS is very tall for his age. He is only 11, but he is 5'3". When he was two people would ask how he liked Kindergarten. Resturants have been charging him adult prices since he was seven. He wears a size 9 Men's shoe. But, in his head - he is about six or seven in the way he plays. He has a very active imagination - he still likes to role play with his toys. He doesn't want to dress like a Power Ranger or play with the little figures, but he still likes the morphers and things that MAKE him a Power Ranger. He still has a big plastic steering wheel and a set of real keys and he often sits on the couch and "drives" it. Although now he goes more grown up places on his trips and not just to Chuck E. Cheese or the toy store. I think it's just fine that he plays hand has an active imagination. Being a grown up is hard, why not be a kid as long as you can be a kid??????

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Catch-Up On The Last Few Days

My Dad got to go home Thursday afternoon. He is now a Diabetic and on heart medication, but seems to be feeling fine. He was out of the hospital less than 24 hours and he had already made a trip to the casino. So, I guess I won't worry about him too much. Well, try to anyway...
On the way home from taking him home, I passed a thrift that I never visit. I had been there one time and it was very high priced. Since it isn't in my thrifting area, I just don't go. But, you never know - so I stopped. We were about to leave empty handed when I spotted a piece of MacKenzie Childs pottery. Well, at least what I thought looked like MacKenzie Childs pottery - I had been keeping my eyes peeled for this for about a year, but had never found any. I picked it up and flipped it over - MacKenzie Childs! Score! Then I looked at the price - $5.00. A bit high for a piece of random pottery at most thrift stores, but actually not too over priced for this particular thrift. I decided I would buy it since I know MacKenzie Childs Pottery is a very hot ebay item. That's when I noticed another piece sitting near it...then another and then another! Holy Cow. I have been looking for this stuff for a year and now I find four pieces at one time!

I ended up spending $20.00 for all four pieces. This thirft took Debit Cards, which I have never encountered at a thrift! Some won't even take checks anymore.

Friday I went to Wal-Mart to do my grocery shopping. I was expecting rude hurried shoppers and tired empolyees. Instead, I was told Merry Christmas but three different shoppers and everyone was so polite, friendly and in a good mood. I usually enjoy a last minute trip to a store where everyone is really grouchy. As they dart out in front of me with their cart and give me a dirty look I say loudy, "AND A MERRY CHRISTMAS TO YOU TOO!" Last year a lady charged out in front of mea nearly driving over my son. I said, "Oh, no, excuse ME," after she said nothing. She stopped and looked at me and started to laugh. She said, that I really put her in her place and she had forgotten her manners and she was sorry and wouldn't forget this anytime soon. The funny thing was, I hadn't really even realized that I had said that out loud!

On the way home we stopped at the Salvation Army. DS found a stuffed Dragon from Shrek. He was carrying it around and these other customers came over to see if he wanted the Shrek and Donkey they had in their cart, but had decided not to buy. I thought that was very thoughtful of them. We already have Shrek and Donkey at home, so, we declined and wished them a Mery Christmas. I walked past the toy bin and noticed a mass of brightly colored plastic and fake hair. My Little Ponys! I dug through the bin and found 27 MLP's. After I got home I discovered a few are knock-offs, but for the most part they are My Little Pony's. I will list these next week.

Today I will make meat and cheese trays, veggie platters, two Sugar Free Chocolate pies, clean the house and finish wrapping a few presents. Sunday afternoon we will go see my Grandmother and take her presents. Christmas Eve night we will have Christmas with my Mom and Step Dad at my house. Christmas Day my Dad will come here in the afternoon.

Christmas morning Santa will have arrived, leaving big snowy footprints across the living room floor. He eats a few cookies, drinks some milk, fills the stocking and leaves a specially wrapped package in red foil gift wrap. When DS was tiny we bought him a HUGE stocking nearly 3 feet tall. (Boy, Santa wishes we wouldn't have gotten such a big one as it is costly to fill!) DS is old enough to know the truth about Santa, but hasn't admitted it yet. So, I'm not going to split the show. I'll be on my hands and knees in the middle of the night sprinking Baking Soda out with my foot shaped stencil, scattering carrots on the front porch and biting of chunks of cookies. Oh, the things a Mother does for the imagination of a child.

Merry Christmas to everyone out in Blogland. Have a wonderful and safe Holiday!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

(Heart) Trouble

Yesterday my Dad was scheduled for a follow up procedure for his cataract surgery. When he got there, they took his pulse, heart rate and blood pressure and it was through the roof. His heart rate was 177 beats per minute. They called an ambulance and took him straight to the hospital. His friend had taken him since it was in a town opposite of where I live and was a quick in and out procedure. Meanwhile, I was at the thrift store when the phone rang. I assumed it was my Dad telling me he was home. Instead it was his friend, "Eye surgery...heart rate...ambulance...hospital..." and the phone went dead. I didn't know what was going on! My husband called and said they had called him first and that he was at the hospital. I ran home and found the number and called. They found him in the ER and put him on the phone. He said he felt just fine and didn't understand what was going on.

It turns out, he has a heart condition and will need to take medicine to control it. And he is a diabetic which is news to us, so he will need to take medication to control that too. If he wouldn't have been at the eye clinic having his heart rate tested, he most likely would have had a stroke. So, it is a blessing that he was where he was when he was. I will take him home tomorrow. And he will be very happy to be there. And, so will I.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

More Candy...

Thought I would share a sweet of a different type today. I made this wreath several years ago, but each year I doctor it up a bit. I found the ribbon last year and was so excited. Before I had a plain red bow on it - but the Ribbon Cndy ribbon just made it perfect for me. This hangs on the front door. I bought lots of candy garlands at the Dollar Tree and cut the candy and lollipops off them, then hot glued them all over a straw wreath. It's nothing fancy, but I think it's sweet. Ha!

DS is still home with the stomach crud. But, I have got to run an errand or two. I have been home with him for five days straight. I need make-up and clothes that aren't stained - I need to see people over the age of 11 - I need to see that Christmas is coming- I have got to get OUT OF THIS HOUSE. I have a zillion gifts to wrap and no paper. Must get out.......(glazed over zombie look on face....)

Sunday, December 17, 2006

What's In That Basket?

Lot's of yummy stuff, that's what!

*Thrifty Note: The tins were purchase new at the Salvation Army. Small ones were 25¢, Large ones were 50¢. I bought the basket this week at the thrift for $1.00. It was pure luck that the tins fit perfectly in the basket. Vintage Christmas Napkins were a yard sale find - 8/$1.00.

White Chocolate Covered Pretzels
Talk about an easy thing to make, but it just doesn't get any tastier. I love sweet and salt.

*Thrifty Note: The parchment paper was an after Christams find last year for 31¢. I bought 6 rolls, so I am set for awhile!

Peppermint Crunch Clusters
Everyone is always so impressed with these. I'm embarrased to admit how incredibly easy they are to make. Melted chocolate chips, some peppermint extract and crushed up candy cane. Mix it up and spoon it into a mini cupcake liner. I enjoy making these because I get to work out my agressions and beat the holy hell out of a huge candy cane with a rolling pin!

*Thrifty Note: The liners were purchased new in package at the thrift this week for 5¢.

Peanut Butter Fudge
Made especailly for DH. It is smooth and creamy and delicious. Every time he goes to a craft fair or somewhere they are selling fudge by the pound he gets a big slab of Peanut Butter Fudge. That usually coasts about $5.00. I made all this for less than $1.50.

*Thrifty Note: I found the Peanut Butter Chips on Clearance at Walgreen's for 29¢.

Cherry-Almond Vanilla Fudge
Oh, this is a tasty one. It was nearly 75 degrees and very humid the day that I made all these goodies. That's isn't ideal Candy making weather to say the least. This is still a bit soft, so we keep it in the fridge. I think it tastes best cold anyway.

*Thrifty Note: The Cherries are from Dillion's Close-Out Clearance - $1.00 for a jar so big I'll never find a use for it all.

Butter Toffee

Left: Butter Almond Toffee with Chocolate/Right: Butter Almond Toffee sans Chocolate
This is my personal favorite. It is so easy to make. I prefer it without the chocolate - the men in the house prefer it with chocolate. So, I make a double batch and put chocolate on half of it. This only requires sugar, butter and corn syrup. The almonds and chocolate are tasty additions, but not really necessary. I don't own a candy thermometer so I rely on the old cold-water hardcrack test and it works perfectly every time.

*Thrifty Note: The chocolate is three Hershey's Special Dark candy bars that I got for FREE with the Sunday insert coupon in November.

Decorations (Check)
Candy Made (Check)
Gifts Bought (Check)
Gifts Wrapped

Uh-oh - time to wrap the gifts. The hardest job of all. I wrap a lovely most beautiful Birthday gift because there is only one of those. But there are piles of Christmnas gifts to be wrapped. Mountains, I tell you.

It's the thought that count's right?

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Goodies, Goodies, Goodies

I received my Vintage Christmas Swap box from the very talented Lynne. I read lots of other blogs by people that do swaps. They always photograph their boxes unopened and at various stages of opening. How do they do that? I just wanted to RIP it open. but, I did manage to take one photo of the box as I opened it. But, then *RIP*!!! Oh and the charming things it did hold!

I am so in awe of these "Melodee Bells". Each one is made of bright colored aluminum. They look exactly like those aluminum tumblers from the 1950's that hurt your teeth when you drank from them. I love the graphics on the box. After admiring them for three days I finally removed them from the box and put them on my vintage tree.

Aren't you jealous of these little jewels? I wrote and asked Lynne how she could bear to part with these sweet litle guys. Her secret? She bought TWO and kept one for herself! Now there's a gal with a head on her shoulders!
The first Santa is wooden and was hand painted by Lynne herself. The second Santa is a celluloid ornament - I think a Christmas light tucks into the bag on the back, but I am hesitant to try it for fear I will melt him! The third Santa is a wonderful old cupcake or floral pick with a tiny wooden face. So divine!

This fabulous little card holds a secret. The litle girl slips out of her airplane and is a paper doll! There are various clothes included in the card. She will most surely become a part of my yearly decor!

Here's a fun rubber faced Santa for my collection too. He is so funny! I also received a knitted stocking, three vintage glass bells and a set of six linen napkins embroidered with Christmas trees and snowflakes. There was also a wonderufl hardbound book entitled, "The Autobiograpy of Santa Claus" which looks wonderful!

I was at home all day yesterday due to my son's unexpected bout of stomach flu. It was not a pretty sight on Thursday night and much of Friday morning. He stayed on the couch under a blanket clutching a coffee can (you know why!). I stayed in the kitchen and did all my holdiay candy making. I wasn't sure when I was going to get that done, but now it is all done.

I did get one more thing thrown on to my plate this week. I have to make 150 goody bags for all the teachers from 5th grade to 12th grade by Wednesday. I decided on a Hostess cake, a packet of hot chocotale and a candy cane all in a colorful Christmas gift bag with a note that says "The PTSA thinks you are SWEET! Happy Holidays!" or something along those lines.

I'll pot photos ofthe candy tomorrow. I don't think DH will ever get used to me photgraphing everything I do!

Monday, December 11, 2006

A Busy Week

First off, today is my Mom's birthday.


She is on her way over for a birthday party with me . WARNING: We, here at monkeybox and all members of the monkeybox family like REAL birthday cake with REAL buttercream icing. And lots of it. The more the better. So what if some of might be diabetic or might need to watch what we eat better. It is a BIRTHDAY. No time to be worried about sutff like that. *Disclaimer: We only have real birthday cake with buttercream icing three times a year, so we indulge. The rest of the year we TRY to behave pretty well. Unless we get invited to a wedding. Because, let's face it, there isn't anything on the planet as good as wedding cake! But, I digress..... Today is also DH's grandmother's 89th birthday.

I have a busy week ahead of me. And if Christmastime isn't a busy enought time, I seen to have all these extra things thrown in to add difficulties. Tommorow I have to take our Saturn in to be serviced. I hate dealing with car maintenance. (Isn't that supposed to be the man's job?) A few months ago we had a computer board replaced. When they replaced it, the mileage suddenly jumped up 2,500 miles. So, they are going to replace it and another board again and that should fix it. Our warranty is based on mileage so it is important to get the mileage corrected. We only have 20,000 miles on it. I will be there 3-4 hours waiting. Luckily, there is a Tuesday Mornings and Hobby Lobby next door so I can roam around there. I do not like to hang out in the "lounge"!

Wednesday is DH's day off so I get to work him like a horse. The hanging rod on one side of our closet has broken off the wall so all the clothes are in a huge heap. DH needs to fix it. He is not handy. Not one itty bity bit. He installed out TP holder with double stick tape when we moved in here. So, I am the handy-gal around here. But, I am not very strong and I am rather short, so I need help with this one. So, since all the clothes are out of the closet, we might as well get rid of the junk we never wear. So, that means......a trip to the THRIFT STORE to donate! Yeah!

Thursday I am going Christams shopping with my Dad. He never knows what to get for my family, so I go and pick things out. He pays, takes it home, wraps it up and I act surprised on Christmas Day. He also goes to Sam's Club and buys us odd things like barrels of peanuts, mounds of Rocher Chocolates and giant cans of Nacho Cheese Sauce. It makes for a rather interesting Christmas! Thursday is also Volunteer day at school to do my weekly copying.

Friday brings make up time for the laundry that didn't get done and the grocery shopping. I wil also buy groceries from my Grandmother. She is extremely picky and buys things that I do not - butternut squash, heavy cream, buttermilk, couscous and other oddities that I have trouble selecting. She needs me to buy meat this week, but since I don't eat it, I won't buy it. Sorry, Grammy. My Uncle is coming in to town for the weekend, so that always means fun times.

So, what's up with you this week?

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Secret Pal Goodies

I received a fun package today from my Secret Pal. She lives in Illinois, but that is all I know about her. Tody I got a lovely wooden shelf full of lots of pumice stones, masagers, back brushes, loofahs and all sort so nice things. Plus several bottles of Bath & Bodyworks lotions, scrubs and sprays to boot. Then there was a huge bag of Hershey's Miniatures, a fun pair of pink striped socks, a glass snowflake votive holder and two gardenia candles. Also, a wire wreath with a red cardinal on it that just so happens to be our school mascot. I'm not done yet - she also sent DS two different games and a fat bubble gum candy cane. It was such a nice heavy box of goodies. So, thank you Peaches.

I finally finished my Christmas cards tonight. I planned on doing photo Christmas cards, but didn't get around to that either. I have never done those before and really didn't know what to do. I will plan on that next year. I did have a photo all picked out:
Dh came home for his Saturday afternoon nap today, so DS and I headed out. We went to two thrifts. The one I mentioned last week with the new low prices was first on the list and then we went to the Salvation Army. At the first thrift store I spent $9.00 on assorted 1/2 price Christmas items and a few other items. I got a Serta Sheep keychain. I know Serta Sheeps sell, but not sure about the keychain. But, at 25¢, it will either sell or go to DS's keychain collection. I also bought a stripey bag purse for $1.00. Any true yard saler or thrift go-er has a stripey bag in their possession. This is a bag made of super strong almost screened wire type of material in bright colors. I have five big stripey bags that I keep in the back of the car for saling emergencies (!). This is a purse made of the very same material. I would never use it for a purse as you can see everything and sometimes you don't really want everything to be seen. But, it will be great for the cellphone, camera, and other assorted items when travelling or on a field trip. Mostly, I had never seen a stripey bag PURSE, so I HAD to have it! It was only a $1.00 and a deal for a sure-fire conversation starter.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

I've been thrifitng again. Bad, bad, bad. Yesterday I had a decent haul at the City Hospital Thrift. The lady that runs it is always asking me if I could sell certain things on ebay. Yesterday it was three stair stepper machines. I keep telling her that I rarely sell on ebay, but she keeps asking. And, I've noticed that she prices things a bit higher to me. I guess she thinks I am reselling everything. Some things I will, but not everything. Besides, can you imagine shipping a stair stepper??? Eye-yi-yi!
Here's part of my haul from yesterday. Yet another box of red vintage Shiny Brite ornaments. It's funny, I sent my vintage Christmas swap partner a box exactly like these from this exact thrift store. So, I think they had been together and now I have bought them both. The stuffed animal looking things are blank doll forms. Sometimes I get in the crafty mood and like to make a doll or a wreath. So, I thought these looked fun and at only 50¢ each I couldn't lose out. The pile on the bottom left is a bag of different pieces of all sorts of Christmas materials and ribbons. It was 75¢. I think I will use some of these things to make the aforementioned doll. The tin is a Sunshine Biscuit tin in the Wedgewood pattern. It was made as a tribute to the Wedgwood pottery company. I am supposed to refrain from buying any tins since I literally have hundreds of them, but this one was special and it lept into my hands. (And so did another nice old one today, Shhhhh.) In the background you see the fabulous hand quilted and hand tied baby quilt that I scored for a mere $2.00.
This is a nice old soft vintage baby quilt - not a new shiny cotton quilt. And, on the backside it says "Bobbie" on it which I find endearing. I will probably use this in my decorating somewhere and might even use it to cover up on a cold winter night on the couch. I don't normally even look in the area where the baby things are since it is generally just onsies and little outfits. But, you just never know what you might find!

Now that the Christmas decorations are up, I thought I would share some of my favorite things. And, Schnitzel with noodles.... I love Annalee dolls. And I really love them at thrift store and yard sale prices. I got the pink girl and the big reindeer at a big thrift store in a neighboring town about six years ago. I planned on selling them near Christmas, but the longer I had them, the more I fell in love with them. And, as you can see, they didn't get sold. They were $1.00 each. The Santa, according to the tag, is actually just from Wal-Mart in the 1970's. But it certainly is an AnnaLee wannabe. He was 50¢.

These three little Annalee Santas came from the City hospital thrift store last year. I remember seeing them as I entered the door and I almost floated over to them. I only saw one at first, then another and then another. I hesitated before looking at the price because sometimes I am not so pleased to see a price like $10.00 on something cool. I was thrilled to see the magic price of 50¢ on each one. The lttle elf mouse came from a yard sale this summer for $1.00.
More finds tommorrow......

Sunday, December 03, 2006


Surprise #1: I'm always on the lookout for any new and unusual Santas for my collection. I am also always looking for any rubber faced Santas because they sell well in Japan. At the thrift last Wednesday I was shopping very quickly because the place was mobbed and there was a ton of great stuff. If I saw something of interest, I just tosed it in my basket and moved on to the next item. I spotted a rubber faced Santa on the toy shelf and tossed it into my basket. I could see the price was only 50¢ so I figured I would just buy it and check it out later for condition, age, etc.
So, when I got home and pulled THIS out of the bag I totally freaked. This is one sacareee Santa! His giant man head is attached to a plastic baby doll body He is wearing a full Santa suit complete with boots and mittens, so you can't tell it's a baby doll body unless you undress him.
Which I did.

For some reason.

Why was that again?

Surprise #2: After downloading the latest pictures on my memory card to the computer I came across this unexpected photo. Seems I have a budding self portrait photographer in the house. And, yes, those are his teeth. He has good teeth. But this picture makes him look like he bought thema the gumball machine. He often takes photos then he is surprised when I mention them. I think he forgets that I will find them and know he has been playing with Mom's digital camera. When he was little, he used to sneak treats and hide the wrappers under the couch thinking I would never be the wiser. That is, until I vacummed and Kraft Singles wrappers and Hershey's Kisses foil got stuck in the vacuum hose. The jig is up Knucklehead

Friday, December 01, 2006

Rain, Flood, Ice, Sleet, Snow

That's what we had yesterday. First it rained and it rained and it rained some more - nearly 5 inches of the wet stuff. The streets flooded, the creek flooded, the ditches flooded - everything was flooded. Then it got cold and it got cold fast. So, the wet stuff turned to ice. Then it started sleeting. And sometime last night, it all turned to snow. I was on pins and needles all day yeterday knowing DS was at school and an ice storm was being forecasted. Finally, the schools wised up and decided to dismiss at 1:00. All the 5th gaders went to the office to call home. I have never known them to do that before! When I answered the phone and it was DS, I didn't know what was going on. He has never called me from school before so it really threw me for a loop! I went and got him and we came home to hunker down for the worse. But, oddly enough even though the temperatures never got past 25 degrees, it is all nearly melted away. At least he got a snow day out of it since school was cancelled all day today.
I made this wreath last week. Is is covered with all the wonderful vintage Shiny Brite oraments I have been finding at the thrifts lately. The colors don't show as beautiful on the picture as they are in person. I used fucshia, turquoise and green ornaments. I thought about adding a bow, but decided against it. I think that would make it too froo-froo. I put in on the bedroom door just to take this photo. It is in the living room above my little grocery store village.
I am slowly decorating the house. I got a great new tree at the thrift on Wednesday. It is tall and skinny with a real bark trunk. It reminds me of a Victorian tree. So, I spent most of the day sorting my goodies looking for the old glass balls that I have been picking up here and there over the years. I also had a brand new box of "Victorian style" bulbs that look old, so I used them. I had several paper maiche houses to add to it and a bunch of paper maiche people too. I even hid a glass pickle ornament like the Victorians did! I'll post a photo once I move everything around several hundred times because I am crazeeeeee.

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