Susan Dromey Heeter's Budget Vogue: Thrift shop treasures fuel kitchen fantasies

By SUSAN DROMEY HEETER March 09. 2018 6:40PM


Thrift shops tend to be organized by sections: women's clothing, children's attire, electronics, shoes. I tend to peruse all. I find it especially anthropologically interesting to investigate castoffs, to ascertain what no longer is in vogue, what trends have passed. Slankets have seen their day, fondue sets have gone the way of rotary phones.

Alas, there is one section to which I am drawn as if by a magnet, a section that I have, truly, no right to be in, where I have no real need to gather any more goods, any more accoutrements. And this, my fellow Budget Voguers, would be the kitchen section.

Yes, that section with the 800 fondue sets, by which I am always tempted. In fact, I have two fondue sets, always anticipating that moment of apres-ski when the vision of melted cheese on bread seems like a wonderful idea. That moment has never actually happened, but in my mind, it will. Oh, yes, it will.

When I asked Jo, my fellow thrift shopper extraordinaire, what she collects for her kitchen fantasies, she did not hesitate when speaking of the myriad cake pans she owns. "I'm at the ready" she announced and laughed, "But truth be told, I run to Market Basket or BJ's when I need a cake."

I, too, feel I'm always at the ready - for that imagined tea party I'll have in my backyard. The cloth napkins are beautiful, so sweet in their uniqueness. The silver punch bowl glistens.

Martha Stewart saunters in and gasps, "It's so lovely, Susan, and where did you get that fabulously vintage apron?"

"Oh," I respond ever so humbly, "At some little thrift shop.for fifty cents."

I impress myself in my kitchen fantasies; I really cook and entertain and, like my punch bowl, literally glisten in my vision of hospitality. But to be honest, as I am typing this, I am eating salt and vinegar chips, straight from the bag. My keyboard is greasy. This, my fellow Budget Voguers, is the truth of my entertainment. More often than not? Chips straight from the bag, soda directly from a can, paper towels performing service as napkins.

I disappoint myself in my own reality. In my fantasies, I've whipped up cream for fresh strawberries, set those strawberries atop my lovely Villeroy & Boch china plates, served freshly squeezed orange juice (utilizing the juicer I just procured from Wonderland Thrift Shop). Oh, it's so lovely, so perfect, so Pinterest.

Alas, so untrue. But that is not to stop me from dreaming, preparing, and, of course, anticipating that moment when, like Jo, I may really make that cake. I, too, have a plethora of cake pans, and I am available for weddings, funerals, bar mitzvahs, first communions. Have I ever made a layered cake? No, but I'm at the ready, I'm at the ready.

And may you be at the ready, dear Budget Vogue readers. And if I see you eyeing that kitchen scale at one of my thrift haunts, do know I'll probably grab it when your back is turned. I'll need something to weigh my food after all that cake decorating.

Susan Dromey Heeter lives and teaches on the Seacoast. Budget Vogue is published monthly.


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