Sunday, June 19, 2022

The Value of the "Free Sale"



    All my life I have enjoyed garage and yard sales.  I have met neighbors, made lifelong friends, bought a few heirlooms, and a few times, made some money and cleared up valuable space before moving, by having my own occasional sales.  Some of the sales I have attended stand out in my memory as really exceptional sales, but many if not most, were of things I didn't need, and I came away with little, or nothing.  It's well worth stopping, but we don't always depart with things we needed.

                       Some time ago, someone started the "free sale". They are probably inspired by the "free stores" that I have read existed in the Haight-Ashbury section of San Francisco in the 1960s, where no one threw anything away. They gave it to someone who needed it. Consequently, one didn't buy much before looking in one of these free exchanges for it.   The free sale is a garage sale where all of the items in a designated area of the sale are free.  Some of these sales have some additional rules, such as each person may take a certain number of items, but many of them do not.  Because the items tend to disappear very quickly, it's probably wise not to travel too far to free sales, but to be especially diligent about checking them out, when they occur in your own area.

                        I went to my first free sale about five years ago. It was a distance from my home but in an area I'd lived in and liked, and so I made a point of being there early. The couple was moving to Hawaii, now that their kids were grown and out of the nest, and so they had thirty years of things that might not fit within their new home, with regard to space and new decor.  They had given things they cared about to their children and other relatives, moved the things they were taking with them to storage, and now the house and the outdoor space were still filled with lots and lots of items they planned to give away. Some sales are giving away household contents but selling cars and riding lawnmowers or RVs or boats that are also at the home. I know this because I talked to them before taking any of their things. My mother used to say that she couldn't go anywhere with my father and I without our making a lifelong friend. Although I think my mother's statement is a little bit exaggerated, I do learn a lot from people in my travels. Talking to them is valuable.  At this particular sale,their rule is that they preferred their things going to individuals and families and not people who planned to sell them, and although you could take as much as you wanted, they asked that you only took things you genuinely liked. I remember the sale well.  Furniture, clothing, new ladies shoes, rugs, lamps, and all things household.  That day I came away with cases of Sam's Club canned goods with an expiration date that was still a year off. (A lot of pineapple) I also gathered about sixteen compact discs, some of which were unusual and nearly new, and reflected the eclectic musical tastes of my children. I took some really nice new books on art.  I also took home several heavy glass or crystal vases, one of which was a Murano, as I often have flowers from the farm in vases around the house.  I was the first person at the sale, but when I left forty minutes later, most of the items were gone. Neighbors who had arrived without cars had quickly picked up tables and rolled up rugs, and had quickly emptied the house, and a lot of the yard.  People who drove up as I was leaving weren't sure it was worth getting out of the car before driving off to the next garage sale.  At the time, I wasn't sure that giving away the gatherings of thirty years in one morning was economic wisdom. Certainly, I enjoyed the sale, but would our generous hosts regret giving away all those expensive towels, curtains and furniture ?    They were smiling.  They were free of the things that complicated their move, which was apparently a move they very much wished to be making.

                    The COVID era killed not only the free sales for a while, but the garage sales as well. They are only just beginning to get started again.  I went to a few of them yesterday. The people who engage in having a free sale have many reasons for doing so. Sometimes, they are shedding household objects they gathered during a marriage, and since that has ended, they are happy to let them go. Sometimes, the family or couple is undertaking a move a distance away or even an international move, and it makes sense to them to regather items they need, in the new setting.  Sometimes, they are liquidating an entire household for relatives, after someone's passing, and they can only be present a short time and don't wish to spend gasoline and time shuttling everything to a high end auction house or to Goodwill.  Such sales are now part of the landscape, and represent good opportunities to gather cooking and survival supplies sometimes. Please consider shopping at one when you can.

                      Remember that having a free sale may well be the fastest and cheapest way to empty a house and a garage, after of course, you have diligently removed family pictures, important sentimental items, coins, family jewelry, and guns. Also make much slower and much more considered arrangements for pets prior to such a sale, if they are not coming with you. Be careful about excluding the items you wish to keep from the free sale. One Charlottesville couple spent six weeks posting ads on Craigslist in an attempt to get a wrapped painting they had inadvertently given away during their free sale, which had sentimental value to them.

                   Lastly, as people empty the house, you may even find the family who is willing the enter into a contract to purchase the remaining home, as they can now see how spacious it is empty.  Keep that in mind.


Thursday, June 9, 2022

Bread Might Not be So Difficult


                                                    These are on Amazon if you need one.

                                                    The Four Quart variety is recommended.

                                                        I have a larger one and that worked too.


   With supply line interruptions here and coming, please give some thought as to how you might create or pinch hit for some of the things your family uses all the time.  Being a country person many miles from a bread and milk store, this is part of our thinking.

                 I have been experimenting with making bread for the days when $6.-$9. a gallon gas makes it cost prohibitive to buy bread outside.  I have used a number of recipes, but this is the one I like the best, for its ease, it's easy ingredients, and for its ease of slicing and using for sandwiches.  It also makes pretty amazing croutons for soups and salads too.

                 The credit for this recipe belongs squarely with writer Chungah Rhee.  The recipe is hers and she has spent quite some time perfecting it while home during the pandemic.  The original recipe can also be found on Damn Delicious.

CAUTION: Please read through this recipe in advance. Do not make this bread with small children or pets in the kitchen while you are working.

 Easy No-Knead Rustic Bread


1. Instant Yeast    (Active Dry Yeast can be used but if you do

                              you must let it rise overnight, rather than 6-8  hrs.)

2.    3 1/4 cups all purpose flour      (Can use whole wheat flour too)

3.    Measure 3/4 tsp. instant yeast.   I used a tsp., and it works too.

4.    1 1/2 cups warm water.         (Mine comes out of the hot tap at 

                                                        110 degrees F.)

5.  Your cast iron Dutch oven.


In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients.

Create a well in center and add the water.

Stir with wooden spoon for 1-2 minutes. Will be sticky.

Cover bowl with plastic wrap and place in warm place for 6-8 hours.

(I put mine in the oven, and placed a kettle of warm water next to it for moisture and heat) 

After your dough has doubled, which was six hours for me,  then       

           Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.  Place your Dutch oven, covered in the oven for 30 minutes.

(We have also been able to make this recipe using an oven at 400 F because we were baking something else at the same time.)

            Remove it and place it on a safe surface. Then placing your bread in a piece of parchment like a sling, drop in into the four quart Dutch oven.   (Conversely, you could leave the Dutch oven in your oven, remove the lid, and drop the dough in the parchment paper straight into Dutch oven and then replace the lid. This would save the dangerous work of removing the very hot Dutch oven from oven itself.)

             Use a sharp knife to make a few cuts in the top of the dough.

Cover and re-place in the oven. Remove the lid after 30 minutes. Continue baking until golden brown, which is about 15 minutes more.  Cool on a wire rack and serve warm.

             The bread usually consumed within a day.  Once cooled, the bread can be cut and used for sandwiches.  Great with soup, or as croutons for soup or on salads.   Most people find the bread is either gone within the meal or within a day, which leads me to my last point. It has no preservatives.


                  This was the second time I made this bread. The Dutch Oven placed in the gas oven works really well.