Is That Garbage?

For me it is all about the thrill of the find.  When it comes to decorating, I rarely spend time shopping for home decor.  I am always on the lookout for a great giveaway and I am continually scouring the street.  I have been doing this as long as I can remember. I take great pride in my home, spend hours looking at home decor magazines and watching home decor shows.  I just enjoy “finding” and adapting the perfect piece.

Home decor magazines

One day waiting for the bus, I looked across the street and saw a table on the street – not just any table but one that I had several pictures of in my vision book.  I ran across the street – stood greedily beside the table and quickly called a cab – $10 later, I was the proud owner of my dream table.  I found 2 chairs at another bus stop recently.  This weekend I am going to paint them “butter cream”.  In the photo below – the cabinet (which I had seen and liked at Ikea) was a $50 find on Craigslist.  One of the chairs was from my daughter’s garage sale and another, an inheritance from a beloved friend. The vase was found in the magic laundry room. (read on)

Table and chairs
Street finds – table and chairs

I know my habit of scavaging was a source of embarrassment for my daughters.  One day I found  old railway ties in front of a house put out for garbage pickup.  I stopped the car (with my girls in the backseat) and started loading them into my trunk.  I had a vision of a pathway in my backyard.  Turns out it was the home of one of the friends.  I think they were ducked down on the floor of our family vehicle. In the end, I built my little walkway that led to my hand dug pond (filled with a child’s swimming pool someone had tossed out the week before).  The  found pool didn’t work (kept leaking) and I had to buy a real pond liner after all.

I live in a relatively affluent neighbourhood and I have made some incredible discoveries there.  A few years ago I was walking home and found a beautiful cabinet. I  couldn’t believe it was a giveaway so I knocked on the door just to confirm.  The woman who answered said they had just got a flat screen television, no longer needed the cabinet and her toddlers were continually opening and shutting the doors – she just wanted it gone!  I called a friend for help, called a taxi (asking for a van) and between myself, my friend and the driver – we got it to my home less than 500 metres away.  I paid the driver $30.  I looked online to see if I could find a value for this gorgeous piece and found something very similar retailing for $1500 at Pier One (sale price $800). My daughter now has it in her dining room.

This is just one of my many finds.  I bought a white wicker chair for my living space and not long after found a very similar one left in the garbage area of my apartment complex. Can you guess which one was garbage? Probably not.

One Saturday after a leisurely stroll on the boardwalk, I found 2 half moon end tables.  They have had many uses since I brought them home.  Once I put them together and made a really nice round table. Last summer I found a white Ikea sofa on someone’s lawn with a sign “take me”.  I was looking for the cushions to put on a folding single bed frame as my summer bed.  I felt a bit guilty leaving the frame behind but I am getting a lot of use from this find. I am waiting impatiently for summer to enjoy it again.


I also have a magic laundry room and I couldn’t possibly remember all the things I have collected from there or all the things that I have left there. I call it magic because usually I find something  within days or weeks of imaging it.  Last week I left a dozen or more picture frames from my daughter’s recent purge and 2 days later they were all gone.  I have found a beautiful onyx chess set that I gave to my son in law.  Salad bowls, a gorgeous white platter, a ceramic espresso maker, cds, a radio, books, glass vases, a salad spinner (my most recent find).  Honest, I am not a hoarder – usually if something comes in, something else has to go. I just love the thrill of the find…..tell me, don’t you?

Laundry room finds
from the magic laundry room




Puh-leese!!!! Tell me – what do you mean you don’t cook?

I had a chat recently with a woman who said “I rarely cook.  You know, I live alone so it just doesn’t make sense. She has always lived alone so it isn’t a matter of learning to cook for herself after years of feeding a big family. Usually I am more polite and would have quietly nodded but this wasn’t one of my more polite moments.  Forgive me. I just said no – I don’t know.  In fact, it is a total enigma to me. I have been thinking about it all week.  Granted it isn’t the first time I have heard it and I guess it won’t be the last since now I am asking you, dear reader, do you only cook when there is someone else to feed?

fast food

I did have a neighbour who lived alone and at the end of every week her recycling was filled with pizza boxes.

So now, scratching my head, I am wondering about those who don’t cook. What do you eat?  Do you not cook because you have found awesome food to eat every day?  Do you go to restaurants for 3 meals a day?  Do you use a food delivery service?  Do you eat the prepared food in a grocery store?  Do you live on pizzas and hamburgers? Oh my goodness, my questions are limitless. Where do you find fresh vegetables lightly steamed or roasted?  Don’t you ever crave a big pot of spinach, Kale, broccoli?

fresh veggies

I am not a fancy cook for myself – actually not a fancy cook for company.  I think I am a simple cook and I do love feeding people. I love to have people around my table enjoying and appreciating something I have made.  I also truly appreciate feeding myself.  I don’t spend hours preparing dishes but I do make sure that I get lots of vegetables and protein every day.  I aim for a balance of carbohydrates, vegetables and protein 3 times a day.  I am cognizant of the amount of sodium I consume and 2 years ago gave up sugar and sugar substitutes.  Infrequently, I will have a tablespoon of honey or maple syrup in a dessert.

Several years ago, my daughter was ill and I was staying with her.  She couldn’t tolerate the smell of cooking so I was picking up a meal on my way to her home after work each day.  I tried to make a healthy choice but it isn’t that easy – there was a Pizzaria near me where I would get 2 slices of the Mediterranean,  a Middle Eastern takeout for a chicken shwarma, and I did find a little Mom/Pop restaurant where the owner would make me a serving of white rice, unsalted chicken breast, simple salad with iceberg lettuce and a container of her homemade salt free hot sauce.  On occasion I would pick up a barbecue chicken and coleslaw. After about a month of this, I had gained 14 pounds and my blood pressure was through the roof!  My daughter was feeling better and I stepped back for a while, cooked my own food and after 14 days the weight disappeared and I was back on track.

So again, I ask the question, if you don’t cook for yourself what do you eat?

My favourite meal at home is broiled chicken (preferably thighs or leg and thigh) with lots of a green vegetable and a sweet potato.  The vegetables range from broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower( not green) spinach, kale, brussel sprouts, swiss chard or beet greens.  My choice of carbs vary as well – brown rice, barley, buckwheat groats, white potato, sweet potato, steelcut oatmeal, squash or rye bread.  When I am lazy (often), I put it all in one pan in the oven.  Voila, after 40-60 minutes dinner is done and on the plate.  Home cooked fast food.

dinner at home
Bake at 400 for 50 -60 minutes

I love a stir fry where I take out my electric wok and start with a wee bit of oil, 3 cloves of garlic and a chopped onion. Now I add the kitchen sink – usually zucchini, green beans, broccoli, spinach and anything else around.  Frozen vegetables come in handy here – peas, corn, beans, medleys of broccoli and cauliflower….just toss it all in…add a bit of water or broth rather than more oil.  For protein you can toss in black beans, chick peas, chicken, beef or pork, shrimp, tilapia, salmon or seafood medley – a different idea and mixture every day.  You can add some brown rice or any of the choices I mentioned above.  Sometimes I use frozen hash browns (no name are the lowest in sodium).  Noodles made of buckwheat (soba) are my favourite but whole wheat are healthy choice, rice noodles.  This is quick and easy food and dinner can be on the table in 20 minutes.

There is always the crock pot…put everything you want in and when you come home, dinner is hot and ready.  Last year, I learned that I could through in a whole squash – spaghetti or otherwise and it would be ready when I got home.  Any sauce tastes great on spaghetti squash.  My choice is my home made pesto.

Even a homemade pizza is a healthy at home choice – whole wheat pita, low fat mozzarella cheese grated with onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, and peppers – fast and nothing hidden! How about fish tacos – tortillas, avocado, cole slaw and a piece of fish.  Dinner is done! How about an omelette?  Spaghetti with sauce from a jar?  A sandwich piled how with protein and vegetables?


Puh-leese!!!! Tell me – what do you mean you don’t cook? Signed puzzled in Toronto 🙂