how to: make pineapple upside-down cake

Hello, hello!

So, for last week’s nacho night, I decided to earn extra hostess-y credit and make dessert. Since I was already turning the oven and stove on for the nachos, I figured, what the hell? Let’s get sweaty and then we’ll get full.

I’ve been wanting to try a recipe out of this little, circa 1963 cookbook, found at a thrift up in Cambridge, Minnesota.

It’s hard to swing a spatula in a thrift-store book section without whacking a Better Homes & Gardens cookbook. They’re everywhere, and usually pretty cheap!

Anyway, back to the dessert. Pineapple Upside-Down Cake is sooooo yummy and as I found, easy to make. (It’s filed in the kids-can-make-it section of the cookbook, that’s how simple it is!) I love how this beauty basically frosts itself! Here’s how to do it…

You’ll Need

3 T. butter

1/2 c. brown sugar

4 canned pineapple slices (save pineapple juice from can, too!)

7 maraschino cherries

1 box of yellow cake mix

How To

Step 1: Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Melt butter and pour into round, oven-safe cake dish. Blend in sugar with melted butter, pat out evenly.

Step 2: Place one canned pineapple slice in the center, and arrange three halved slices and the cherries around the whole slice. This is the “frosting.”

Step 3: Prepare batter according to package directions, but instead of using water, use pineapple juice (add water if there’s not enough). Pour batter over fruit.

Step 4: Bake 45 minutes. Cool in pan on rack for 10 minutes. Turn upside down on big serving plate. Cut and serve warm, ideally with vanilla ice cream.

Recipe found in “So-Good Meals,” part of the Better Homes & Gardens Creative Cooking Library.

If you give this recipe a try, let me know how it goes!



you tube university: bandana’d hair-do

Happy Wednesday, luvs.

I found this ever-so-helpful tutorial on You Tube today about how to achieve an adorable, summery pin-up style ‘do. This gal is too cute, and unlike many beauty (and crochet!) You Tube instructors, she moves at a reasonable pace, i.e. s-l-o-w.

I’m eager to put my thrifted scarves to use this summer, and this is just one more way to rock them. Now that my head’s done up like a ’40s housewife, where else would I be off to except the kitchen? It’s Wednesday, so that means nachos. And giggles. And beers. Tonight’s variety: turkey chili with homemade nacho sauce made with real cheese. Nom.



thrifted ‘fit: april swinson

Hey y’all!

I’m so pleased to introduce you, dear readers, to my Blingo-loving buddy, April Swinson. This gal’s a ball of sunshine—beautiful, bright and filled to the brim with all kinds of talents. From writing catchy ad copy to crafting ridiculously adorable headbands for her ever-popular Etsy shop, this little lady does everything with an easy wit and generous spirit. Did I mention she whips up out-of-this-world cupcakes on the regular? Because, yeah, she does that, too.

April’s no stranger to many of the Twin Cities best thrift store spots, and her always stylish wardrobe includes many a second-hand treasure, including the summery ‘fit pictured below.

Shirt, Downtown Minneapolis Salvation Army, $1
Vintage skirt, Tatters Clothing, $12
Seychelles shoes, Minneapolis Downtown Salvation Army, $1.99 [Seychelles for $2!!! SO jealous!]
Vintage purse, Blacklist Vintage, $18
Locket necklace, an adorable antique store in Stillwater, $8

Me: What’s your favorite thrift store in town? Why?
April: The Downtown Salvation Army gets me every single time.  It’s a great stop for clothes, cute, cheap shoes and even old furniture. In terms of vintage stores I’m quite fond of Blacklist Vintage—it’s a great place to play dress up and they have, hands down, the best hat and fascinator collection in town.  Oh, and I shan’t fail to mention that the little ladies that run the place are always so very pleasant and charming.  I miss their cozy old location, but their new one will do just fine too, I suppose.

Me: Your house and closet are full of awesome thrifted goodies. What are you top tips for successful thrifting?
April: A. Take your time, don’t be afraid to dig and disregard the current context. Much of the time, if I simply see something on the shelf or in a bin, I’m not all that excited about it. I have to think about how something would look either being worn (paired with something I already have in my closet) or on my shelf in my home if I’m looking at housewares, etc. It’s easy for things to look dusty, dingy and drab in a thrift store, but part of the fun of thrifting is realizing the potential in old, forgotten or disregarded items.

Me: Do you have a favorite piece of vintage clothing?
April: I have a set of kerchiefs that my grandmother gave me that I simply adore.  They are so feminine and proper, but I rarely drop one into my purse because they are so precious to me.  Since being the proud owner of said handkerchiefs, I can say confidently that no gal should be without at least one.

Me: What’s on your thrifting wish list?
April: I’m not one to swoon over labels and brands, but I’ve seen not one, but two vintage Coach wallets recently that were purchased by my friends from a thrift store and I’ve convinced myself that I need one too.  An old, pretty brown one with a clasp at the top would be perfect.  If you see one anywhere, let me know. [You got it, girl!]

Me: It’s summer! What are you excited to do?
April: See ponies! I’ve only been to Canterbury once, but I’m hooked and I’m really looking forward to going back and betting on the horses with clever names. Admittedly, I know close to nothing about horse racing and have nothing else to go off of. [I was there, and yes, picking the best names was indeed her strategy. I admittedly fared no better, though, betting only on horses from my home state.] I’m also excited to grow a few things of my own. Unfortunately, I don’t own a home and my gardening prowess and space is limited, but I purchased a beautiful lettuce and tomato plant a few weeks ago that I’m pretty jazzed about.

Me: Your Tulabaru shop is clean sold out, girl! What are some of the new things you’re working on? And please say you’ll be restocking soon!
April: Oh, poor Tulabaru.  It has been somewhat tossed to the side over the past few months for more important, yet less fun, tasks that life has demanded. But! That’s all about to change. There will be new items up for sale on Etsy in no time at all. [Yessss!] A few weeks ago, I picked up some beautiful vintage brooches and lace that I’m really excited to use for hair pins and headbands.  I’ve also been making a lot of big, billowy bows that I’d like to incorporate more. Another goal is to make more items for all of the kiddos out there.  Maybe it’s just me, but I think every little girl should have a bow, ribbon or headband to wear proudly atop her head.

Isn’t she a sweetie? I put together a little slide show so you can take a peek at more pics from our little photo session. Some of the photos stars include Joe (garage owner), Kiki (adorable husky), cops (arresting someone for a DUI) and an awesome 1946 Dodge Ram that I’m utterly gaga over.

[rockyou id=157705640&w=700&h=233]

If you’d like to have your thrifty style featured, please shoot me an email!

Well, I’m off to spend a couple hours in the company of this very special little gal.

Aaaaand, if that wasn’t enough fun for a day, it’s Wednesday which means tonight I’ll be eating nachos, drinking Pacificos and catching up with a handful of my favorite ladies (minus one, who is hanging out with her Grandpa-in-law-to-be…we’ll miss you Jamie!)!!

I <3 nacho night!!!

I hope you all have lovely Wednesdays!



backpack attack

Hey thrifty people!

Spring’s put a fresh pep in my step, and I’ve been taking that energy and started strolling my lil self to work a few days a week. Sure it takes an hour, but it’s also really fun. I listen to music, notice new things in my neighborhood (hello yard roosters!) and arrive at work with a healthy dose of exercise under my belt. Win-win-win, in my eyes!

The only not fun part of the whole arrangement is that I sorta hate my backpack. I feel like a high-school freshman fashion don’t every time I wear it. It has way, way, way too many pockets and it’s a very boring black. Which of course, led me to ask: Do cute backpacks exist? Can you look good with a pack strapped to your back?

It seems like answers to both questions is YES.

I’m drawn to the most simple styles, like these two rucksack-like packs.



This one from Modcloth is right on in terms of simplicity and it’s pretty cool that it’s made from 100-percent recycled cotton. But, I think it’d be too small to tote everything I need for the day (i.e. laptop, lunch, change of clothes, etc.).

This vintage Boy Scout ditty is also simple and rucksack-y, but again, perhaps too small? I’m not digging the $60 price tag either. There has to be a cheaper similar option found at the surplus store, right?

And last but not least,  this colorful knapsack by local knitwear designer Annie Larson is so charming, but for $130, I could buy myself a new bike and ride to work.  It is undoubtedly awesome though. Good thing lusting is free.

Anyway, I’m going to keep my eyes peeled thrifting this weekend, and maybe hit up an army surplus store to see what affordable options they have. Do you have any ideas of where to look?

I hope your Cinco de Mayo has treated you all well! I’m trying out a new recipe for nacho night, from a new-to-me food blog, Real Mom Kitchen. I’m skeptical of heated cream cheese, but my fingers are crossed it turns out. Last week’s experiment turned out awesome, but you never know. Even if the food sucks, I’m guaranteed a night full of giggles. Cannot wait!!

Hasta luego, lovelies!


P.S. Have you entered the giveaway yet? You have until Thursday night, so hop to it!

store review: animal ark thrift store

Animal Ark Thrift Store

I know, I know, a thrift store in St. Paul? Where the hell is that?? Typically the only things that can get me over that way is a visit with my Auntie Sharyn who lives in Lowertown or a hot date with my honey at Mancini’s. This thrift however, has entered into that good company, quickly becoming something else worth crossing the river for. Because, you see, this is a big thrift store that can house some pretty fantastic finds.

Situated at the top of a long hill in the adorably named neighborhood of Swede Hollow, the biggest strength of this place lies in the housewares section. If you’re looking to outfit a kitchen, top to bottom, with mostly vintage or quality used stuff, this is where I’d send you. (Big brother are you reading?? Get a colander already dude!) The entire left side of the store is essentially just household goods. Pass by the fancy sets of china displayed out front, there are plenty of deals to be had once you start digging an aisle or two back. There’s a lot to look at, so take your time. Some things you can reliably find here: an assortment of old salt and pepper sets, decanters, beautiful cake stands, vintage stemware, kitschy cookbooks and service items, all reasonably priced.

Note: The staff works the Internet to research prices, especially on the china and dishes. It’s not unusual to stumble across some pieces that are marked pretty high—whole sets of china for $150, for example—with the eBay summary taped to the shelf underneath.

Moving on…I can’t say I know very much about vinyl, but they sure seem to have a lot, and every record is $1. The stacks are stashed in the back room, which also has all the men’s clothes, lighting, gardening stuff, some furniture and electronics, all of which they have a healthy selection of.

In terms of clothes, you’ll have to go often to score anything remarkable. Some of my favorite things I’ve picked up here wardrobe-wise are some leather Brazilian-made clogs and this sporty Lee denim jacket I’m in love with. You can rely on variety of costume-y, grandma-like jewelry—think lots of beads, clip-on earrings, cuff bracelets, fake gold, belt buckles, etc. Scarves and hankies are also had aplenty.

The furniture displayed is in good shape with inoffensive, serviceable designs. I’d say it’s priced fairly, but not cheaply. A woman working there mentioned a whole ‘nother space adjacent to the shop, that’s chockful of furniture that you can get escorted to and browse, if furniture is what you’re seeking. Of course she told me this on my way out the door, so I can’t tell you first-hand what’s back over there. Good to know, though, right?

Sale-wise, every time I’ve visited, art’s been 50 percent off. While the majority consists of cheesy prints, I’ve found some charming crewel and cross-stitched pieces as well as some frames that would be worth shelling out a buck or two for. All brown dishes (covered crocks and company) always seem to be 50 percent off, too. I haven’t noticed across-the-board discounts on clothing, but they do put stuff on sale when the seasons change.

The service here is the only things I can complain about, because, it wasn’t the best the last time I was there. The lady was curt, and honest to goodness, I felt like I ruined her entire morning by asking her to ring me up. She didn’t include part of my purchase, meaning she had to run my card twice. I might as well have kicked her in the shins, it was that painful for her. Everyone has tough days, but c’mon…be nice! She was a volunteer, too, which made her sour ‘tude even more inexplicable. It’s volunteer work, not work work. Be pumped!

Where does the money raised here go? According to Animal Ark’s website, the shop generates approximately $60,000 a year for the shelter, the animals and their care. As Minnesota’s largest no-kill shelter, Animal Ark serves more than 1,000 homeless animals every year in their Hastings shelter and through their network of foster homes. The fact that the “rabbits are kept in a luxury bunny suite that includes all the amenities a house rabbit deserves,” makes my heart happy. Bunny suites for the house rabbits—for cute’s sake! If you’re considering adopting a dog or cat (or rabbit, I suppose), I dare you spend a few minutes on their site and not fall head-over-heels in love with one of the many eligible furballs.

To me, they’re a worthy organization and I’m 100-percent content to have my thrifting dollars support their mission.

Here are some of my favorite finds from this shop:

Go here to find: Dishes, kitchen utensils, vintage sheets, jewelry, pet supplies, kitschy art, furniture (dining tables, especially)

Selection/Variety: ♥ ♥ ♥

Quality: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Pricing: ♥ ♥

Organization: ♥ ♥ ♥

Customer service: ♥ ♥

Cleanliness: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Do they take credit cards? Yep! (They also sell pet licenses for St. Paul pooches and kitty cats.)

While you’re there: Um, well, let me preface this by saying I know next to nothing about St. Paul, BUT, when Mary and I were there last Saturday, we stopped at Swede Hollow Cafe and dang, everything looked awesome. Half the place was digging into caramel rolls the size of a baby’s head, and they also had a decent sammy selection. I had a cubano (fancy term for coffee with milk and brown sugar–news to me, too) and it was sufficiently hot, sugary and caffeinated.

Where it is:809 E. 7th Street, St. Paul

Hours: Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Contact: 651.772.8983,

I’ve been a bad blogger, and for that, I am sorry. I had a big presentation at work this morning, and it’s been taking up a lot of energy. Other things that have been keeping me busy? Early a.m. yoga at the Guthrie, seeing these two bands last night at First Avenue, eating obscene amounts of soul food from this place, research disguised as shopping for the June issue of METRO magazine and as usual, dog walking, chores and a healthy dose of goofing off.

Tonight’s plans revolve around putting away some nachos (and a Pacifico or two) with a couple delightful ladies, a weekly tradition I’m fairly obsessed with.  I’m trying a shrimp nacho recipe—I could eat both nachos and shrimps everyday of my life and be happy, but I’m not 100-percent sure I’ll love them together.  [Update: I totally did! These turned out super yummy.] If I can manage to avoid splashing any more pineapple juice onto my just-washed bangs like I did a minute ago, we should be in OK shape. Back to the kitchen I go…