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Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!


Hope you guys are having an awesome day, and spending time with people who are important to you.

I somehow cooked up the idea that I would host Thanksgiving this year and invite my family and Mark's. It's something I always wanted to do, but can't help but think I'll be in the fetal position in the kitchen or muttering under my breath all day. Or becoming a wino. Perhaps all of the above.

I hope it turns out half as good as Friendsgiving over the weekend. (pictured above) Our friend Colin used a smoker to cook the turkey and it was probably one of the best turkey dinners I've ever eaten.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Pumpkin Cheesecake



Eat your heart out, Cheesecake Factory. For those of you who don't know, cheesecake is one of my favorite desserts. Being a sweet tooth and all, I'm never very picky, but I can have preferences, can't I?

Mark's mom makes me cheesecakes for various special occasions. The most memorable was when she made THREE cheesecakes for my wedding shower. It was pretty low key, but there was so much damn food it was a little crazy. That included the pumpkin cheesecake which I remade over the weekend.

We went to Friendsgiving on Saturday, so I felt ambitious and decided to try my hand at cheesecake. Mark and I got a springform pan for our wedding, and hadn't used it yet, so it seemed like the perfect opportunity. The cake was a bit more work than I was expecting, but the results were fabulous.

Maybe if you're stumped on what to bring to Thanksgiving dinner, maybe give this recipe a try. It's a great twist on the traditional pumpkin pie.

Pumpkin Cheesecake
Recipe courtesy of my mother in law, Debbie

Filling Ingredients:
• 4 packages (8 oz) of cream cheese, softened
• 1 can (15 oz) pure pumpkin
• 5 eggs
• 1 cup brown sugar
• 2/3 cup sugar
• 1/4 cup flour
• 2 teaspoons pumpkin spice

Crust ingredients:
• 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
• 6 tablespoons butter, melted
• 1/3 cup sugar

Crush graham crackers until fine. Stir in sugar, and then butter, until formed. Press down into springform pan, and press edges up the pan and inch or so. Bake crust for 10 minutes at 300 degrees.

While crust is baking, assemble filling in two mixing containers. Mix together canned pumpkin, flour and pumpkin spice. Set aside. In mixing bowl, combine both sugars and cream cheese, and mix for a few minutes until smooth. Slowly add eggs, one by one, continuing to mix, and then add pumpkin mixture.

Once crust is removed from oven and cooled for at least 15 minutes, add filling to pan.

Bake for 70 to 90 minutes at 300 degrees. When finished, turn off oven and crack open oven door for another half hour. Remove cake from oven, loosen edges, and refrigerate overnight.

Remove from springform pan and voila! An amazing cheesecake that everyone is ready to devour. :)

Optional toppings include caramel, pecans, bittersweet chocolate drizzle, among others. Mark and I opted for sprinkling some almonds slices on top to keep it simple and give the cheesecake a little more texture.

And a little somebody definitely wanted in on the fun. This little guy attacks us whenever we're in the kitchen making food, particularly when it involves milk-based products. (Say, for example... cheesecake.) It can be a little annoying sometimes, but he's too adorable to get mad at for long. Here's one of Waldo's signature beg faces:


What are some of your favorite Thanksgiving/winter holiday desserts?

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Ice Queen

Sigh. The snow has come upon us. I think it's easy to tell how I feel about it:




Honestly, the snow isn't so bad. It's just that, well, it's mid-November, and I'm not really ready for it to be 10 degrees every morning. It feels more like January right now. I'm all about the layering, wearing thick tights and cupping warm drinks, but not so much wearing winter coats, hiding my face in my scarf every time a cold breeze goes by, and slipping on ice while walking on the sidewalk.

Luckily, I've been inspired to mix it up lately, outfit-wise, and didn't want to dress in a completely dreary way. I've been in a bit of an outfit slump lately, usually doing my go-to riding boots plus blouse and cardigan for work, but that was getting old. I always feel so inspired by the people around me, with life, goals, fashion sense, etc. (with the people I meet while reporting and in the blogosphere) that it's almost overwhelming. I've been calling it a creativity hangover.

But instead of getting overwhelmed and shutting down like I usually do in stressful situations, I decided to experiment.

I've mostly worn this skirt in the summer, but it's thick enough to be part of a winter ensemble, too, which I totally love.

Here I am sans jacket and hat, pretending to look happy while standing in the season's first snow:


Outfit: Shirt and cardigan, thrifted; faux leather moto jacket, Wilson's Leather; skirt, Modcloth; tights and hat, H&M; flats, Famous Footwear.

And because I FINALLY have enough outfit photos on my blog for some repeat wears here, I thought I'd show how I've worn the moto jacket and maps skirt earlier this year:

InTheWoods@Badass     RockFormation2@Succop

RIP, Fall foliage and summer greenery. :( Until next year, anyway.

How are you all doing with the weather, in terms of dressing for your climate?

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Call for Guest Posts:
Favorite Holiday Cookie recipes


I'm sure it's not a unique perspective, but I've never met a Christmas cookie I didn't like. I love baking them, eating them, trading them. There can be so much meaning with a confectionary treat this time of year.

In the weeks before Christmas, I would like to share a few of my favorite cookie recipes from over the years. However, I would really like this to be community-oriented, much like a cookie exchange party or a neighborhood cookie tour is, so I'm inviting all who are interested to submit guest posts about their favorite Christmas cookies. I'm looking for posts that include the recipe, some photos, and any fond anecdotes making/eating/sharing those cookies.

Please email me at thriftburgher@gmail.com if you're interested!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Pittsburgh Vintage Mixer
Giveaway Winner!

Thanks to all who entered the raffle. The winner has been contacted.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

If you didn't win, don't let that deter you from going. Admission is $5, and goes from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. this Saturday in Lawrenceville. You can get all the info you need here.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

I stole Charlie Brown's shirt (kinda)




Outfit: Sweater, thrifted; pants, Target; boots, Macy's.

Doesn't the background look like one of those corny 80s backdrops? I love that I found a really cool clearing about two minutes from my house for these shots.

I know this outfit isn't mind blowing or anything, but isn't this the sweetest sweater ever?? I found it at a thrift store awhile back, complete with shoulder pads. It's finally getting to be sweater season, so I've been wearing it to work quite a bit over the past few weeks.

And I love mixing black and brown. (Like the lamest rebel ever would.) I just get an earthy vibe looking at all these colors together, and it feels relaxed but still fun. This may or may not be my last outdoor outfit post for a bit, just because it's supposed to get freezing now. Buh bye, leaves and jacket-free days.

I'm usually not a fan of the cold, but I'm just thankful to see all the seasons, and thankful to be alive. I almost got into a serious car accident last week. To make a long story short: I hydroplaned while driving 70 mph. My car spun in circles on a major highway, with 18-wheelers approaching. I somehow came to a stop on the shoulder of the road, no damage done. I was shaken up, but relieved nothing happened.

I buried the lede a bit, I know. Just trying to be a little more of an optimist right now, and trying to set some life and project goals that are really meaningful. I know it's corny as hell, but carpe diem, guys. :)

AND just a quick reminder, Pittsburgh area readers can enter to win admission for two to the Pittsburgh Vintage Mixer on Nov. 22. Contest ends Friday.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Pennsylvania Prints

I went to State College (home of Penn State University) over the weekend to visit some college friends who are living there now. It was great to be able to spend time with people I don't get to see very much anymore. And weirdly enough, it was my first time visiting State College, even though it's only about a three-hour drive away.

My friend Lauren showed me around, and we explored the downtown area and checked out a few local wineries. We also went to a used bookstore downtown called Webster's, and I found this amazing Pennsylvania Prints book for 6 bucks!

I thought I'd share a few images from it:


Lithograph, from 1902
Published by T.M. Fowler & James B. Moyer


"The Pennsylvania Canal was built at a time when transportation was needed to connect communities across the eastern states. The western section of the Pennsylvania Canal, joining Johnstown and Pittsburgh, was completed in 1830. In 1832 the Juniata section was completed, and in 1834 the Allegheny Portage Railroad was put in service. The line was 300 miles long, cost $25 million to build, and was never profitable.

In 1842 Charles Dickens traveled on the Canal Packet from Harrisburg to Pittsburgh. His eyewitness account is told in his American Notes, published the following year."

Print on broadside, 1837
Printed by Young, Philadelphia


"The mountain lion of Pennsylvania, mascot of Penn State since 1908, has many names: puma, deer tiger, panther, cougar, and catamount, among others..."

Le Cougar de Pensilvanie
Engraving, circa 1787


James Buchanan is the only U.S. president that's from Pennsylvania. I know I have an ancestor or two that were named after him.

Lithograph, from 1856


Lithograph, circa 1847


This is just a snippet of some of the prints featured in the book, all from the mid 1800s to the early 1900s.

I'm glad I snatched this book up while I had the chance, not just because I've been such a sucker for local history lately, but also, because it looks like it's been out of print for awhile. It originally published in 1980, by the Penn State University Press, and the postcards, maps and photos had been used in a historical exhibition at the time. It had a little crease on the cover, so I guess that's how I was able to get the good deal. :)

In addition to Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, there were old maps and postcards of Johnstown, Williamsport, Lewisburg, Easton, among other towns throughout the state.

I think my favorite image, aside from the Pittsburgh map, of course, is the railroad advertisement, highlighting that a ride from Philly to Pittsburgh only takes 3 and a half days! Ha. The human race has come so far over the last 150 years.

The book is titled Pennsylvania Prints, from the Collection of John C. O'Connor and Ralph M. Yeager.

PS If you're local to Pittsburgh, don't forget to enter to win admission for two to the Pittsburgh Vintage Mixer! You can also read a Q&A I did with one of the event's founders, Bess Dunlevy. The giveaway ends on Friday night, and the mixer event is on Saturday, Nov. 22.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Q&A with Bess Dunlevy
Pittsburgh Vintage Mixer founder (local giveaway!)

Guys, I am so so excited to present my first Q&A post AND first giveaway post on the blog!

I met Bess Dunlevy, who created the local event Pittsburgh Vintage Mixer, at a Yelp event earlier this year. She was a really fun person to chat it up with, and she was nice enough to take the time to answer some questions about her vintage collecting habits and talk about the next event, coming up on Saturday, Nov. 22!

If you're local to Pittsburgh, you can also enter to win two tickets to the vintage mixer below. :) How cool is that??

I'm hoping to make the Q&A sessions an occasional part of the blog, so enjoy.


Bess Dunlevy, 35 (pictured in the middle, with fellow directors Jason Sumney and Michael Lutz)
Castle Shannon resident; Washington, PA native

How did you become interested in collecting vintage items? What keeps you interested in it?

My mom would take me to flea markets when I was a kid in Washington County, and my grandmother, who lived in Murrysville, took me along with her to antique shops. Collecting has always been fun for me. In 2009, my pals, Jason Sumney and Michael Lutz, and I began selling vintage housewares on Etsy as Red Pop Shop. We were new Pittsburgh homeowners at the time and wanted to sell vintage to folks like us, who use vintage in everyday, but also want good quality but on a budget. We’re going on our sixth year selling together, and I’ve since branched out in selling small furniture and vintage clothing here in Pittsburgh. In my own life, midcentury furniture and vintage fashion are a big part of my personal aesthetic - it’s rarely about the value of the item for me. I just like old things.



Are there any particular items you tend to collect?

Yes. I have a bit of an issue saying no to 1950s dishware and certain midcentury patterns. Canonsburg Pottery, Royal China, Russell Wright - I have three china cupboards filled. I enjoy having dinner on a great plate, even when I’m dining alone or it’s just takeout. I think it tastes better.

What is your favorite vintage houseware you own and why? Favorite vintage clothing piece?

Around the house, it’s hard to say. I think it changes for me. This summer, I bought a funky vintage aluminum porch glider. It’s huge with brightly colored vinyl cushions that are still in wonderful condition. I had a bit of an adventure picking it up with friends. And I have used it every warm morning, afternoon, evening since! It will remain a staple on my porch so long as my neighbors don’t get tired of my gaudy outdoor decor. My clothing is really forever in rotation.

Is there anything in particular vintage item you aspire to have that you haven’t found just yet? If so, is there a reason why this item is hard to find?

Honestly, I surround myself with vintage pieces that match my personal style - it’s rarely about a certain item or designer. I pick up things along the way that I like. Sometimes they turn out to be gems; sometimes I use a table for a few months and realize it’s not a good fit for my little 1950s home. It’s fun to research the history of pieces that I buy. I love well made, casual furniture from the 1950s and 1960s and the hunt for new stuff is always the best part.

How do you feel about mixing items from different eras, places, especially when it comes to outfits?

I can’t imagine not mixing pieces. I think wearing items from one era only is a bit extreme and, perhaps, kinda boring.


All photos courtesy of Bess and pghvintagemixer.com

How did your interest evolve into your Etsy Store, Red Pop, and the annual Pittsburgh Vintage Mixer? Why did you start the Pittsburgh Vintage Mixer?

The vintage fair came about over talks and plans between the three of us (myself, Sumney and Lutz) and mutual friends. We discussed the successes of vendor fairs focused solely on vintage and retro culture in other cities, and the wealth of vintage and antiques shops here in Southwestern PA. In 2011, we began planning the first Pittsburgh Vintage Mixer - a one-day vintage event with an atmosphere that would fall somewhere between a flea market and a high-end antiques fair. Our mission for the event, then and now, is that it focuses on genuine vintage, quality and variety, and remains accessible to collectors of all ages and budgets.

I heard that you only have vintage items that are true to their original form, not upcycled. Is there a reason for that?

That’s correct. Pittsburgh is lucky to have a number of wonderful upcycled small businesses in the region, as well as a thriving arts and crafts community, and we support and value the craftsmanship behind upcycled vintage. The Mixer has evolved into an event that recognizes vintage “in the raw.” Coats may have had a button reattached or lamps may have been rewired for safety, but ultimately, the Mixer is a place for genuine antiques and vintage sellers to show off their collections. It’s become a special part of the event. I think it sets us apart.

So when is it?!?!

The next Pittsburgh Vintage Mixer is our fourth event and our very first fall fair!

The Mixer is Saturday, Nov. 22, at The Teamsters Hall Local 249 on Butler Street (across from the cemetery), Lawrenceville. The event is 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. and will feature nearly 35 vintage sellers, local food trucks Franktuary and Mac and Gold, beverages and treats from 4121 Main, as well as music selections from a mix of local DJs.

What kinds of items should people expect to see there?

Vinyl, men’s and women’s fashion and accessories, furniture, decor, housewares, artwork, toys, paper ephemera and more.

What advice do you have to anyone that’s new to the vintage scene?

Talk to people. There are some wonderful vintage and second-hand shops here in Pittsburgh and inside are wonderfully interesting and knowledgeable shop owners. Chat with them, pick their brains, get to know what they sell and what you like to collect and in the meantime, enjoy the hunt!

You can find out more about the event at the Facebook event page, the website, Instagram and Twitter!

Here's the giveaway to win two tickets to the event, which runs until midnight next Friday. Best of luck, guys!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

New England in Snapshots

Sadly, fall is a fleeting season. Leaf colors are passed their prime at this point. Luckily though, Mark and I definitely got a year's worth of fall fun during our New England trip the other week, and some great pictures to gaze at all year round:











It was a beautiful trip, and a much-needed break from the routine. Since our one-year wedding anniversary was right around the corner, this trip was kind of our nerdy honeymoon getaway.

Highlights of our trip:

• Going to Concord, Mass. to see a piece of history. Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Nathaniel Hawthorne lived in this town for a time. All three famous writers are also buried at the same cemetery in town. (Thoreau's very plain headstone is pictured above. He's buried with family members, with a larger headstone naming all of them.)

• Exploring downtown Boston via the Freedom Trail. On the trail includes Paul Revere's home, the site of the first public school in the United States, the site that inspired the Boston Tea Party, among other momentous U.S. historical events.

• Eating some delightful clam chowder. We had bowls at Union Oyster House, in downtown Boston, and had a fancy dinner with soup at Legal Seafoods in Cambridge. (Another food Boston is obsessed with: Doughnuts!)

• Seeing one of the largest rowing races in the world: The Head of the Charles. This was big for me because I am a longtime rower. I always heard about this race. We never raced in it because it was too expensive to enter and too far away for it to be at all practical, but it's kind of the stuff of legends. After that, we walked around Harvard Square and took a peek at the university.

• Spending our last night of the trip in Salem, Mass., home of the Salem Witch Trials. One of the oldest marked cemeteries in the United States is in this town, with death dates going back to the 1700s. There was also a lot of hubbub with Halloween happenings. They really capitalize on the ghost story tours and goofy touristy stuff. But my favorite part was probably seeing the Salem Witch Trials memorial. Twenty people were executed during a one-year span the late 1600s for being witches or wizards. It's kind of crazy how far hysteria went in that case.

One thing I won't miss: Boston drivers. It's not an easy town to navigate at all, and drivers are super aggressive, but I managed.

How has the fall been treating you?

Monday, November 3, 2014

Smitten with a Kitten

Mark and I have a new member of our little family: He's an adorable five-month-old orange tabby.




This little fur baby, who we've named Waldo, was an unexpected addition at our house. We've quickly taken a liking to this little guy. He's an incredibly sweet, mellow yet playful lap cat.

Mark and I actually discovered him hanging around our neighborhood after we returned from our New England trip. While we were away, a lot of the neighbors began leaving out bowls of food and makeshift beds on porches for him. One neighbor posted signs notifying everyone of his homelessness, and that if he has an owner that he should be claimed. He is extremely people friendly, nudging around ankles, wanting to play, and wanting to let himself into any house he could. Obviously, this cat wasn't feral. He began sitting on my welcome mat every time I came home to greet me, much like a dog would. It was incredibly sweet, but I felt awful shutting him out of the house.

Mark also watched him from inside our apartment, since the kitten would often hang around our porch during the day, playing with leaves and plants by himself for hours.

Last weekend, my landlord came over since new neighbors were moving in. She said she might have to take him to the shelter soon if he wasn't claimed, since he had been nomadic in our neighborhood for the past few weeks. She told me the neighborhood has had it's fair share of pet drop offs over the last few years, including a loving pitbull she had to take to the shelter a few years ago. That's when I knew I couldn't let that happen to him.

I set up a vet appointment at a local clinic to get the kitten checked out. He didn't have a microchip. Once he was all cleared (albeit a few ticks) and got vaccinated, he's been a sweetie in our house ever since.

Mark and I expect more and more that he was abandoned. He hated being alone for the first week or so, but has finally gotten used to sleeping in his bed at night instead of scratching at our bedroom door.

He's incredibly tolerant of playful torture, like the hot dog costume we put on him on Halloween. And he might turn into a Garfield... he loves investigating human food. And he's kind of obsessed with cream cheese. :)