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Posts Tagged ‘Fiesta’

I love my Fiesta dish collection. I have both vintage and contemporary collections and both continue to grow with new acquisitions.
macy's box
My newer Fiesta collection tends to grow in chunks – a new set of 8 bowls, plates or mugs will appear in boxes (often with that telltale red star on the side….curse you Macy’s – you give away my secret every time.)

My collection of vintage has grown more slowly – usually one piece at a time, although my new love-fest with pumpkin-colored OvenServe has grown more rapidly thanks to some vendors offering multiples of the same pieces.

When I view eBay or Etsy or LiveAuctioneer for new listings, I notice there are typically two approaches that sellers use: they either try to entice the plunderers with an intact collection, or they break it up piece-by-piece for the pluckers.

It seems the pluckers outnumber the plunderers – the collections often seem to languish without any nibbles. But I guess when a huge collection does sell, it temporarily tilts the scale in favor of that approach.

As a collector, I usually find my best deals one piece at a time. My frugal side insists on patient plucking. So what about you – do you go for the one-shot plunder and enjoy poring over your new haul? Or are you a picky picker, plucking your pieces one at a time? And can you say that five times fast?

Happy collecting,
Terry

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New Year, New Foods

I’ve been mentally contemplating a “laundry list” of new foods I want to try to make in the new year. Why wait when you can jump right in on New Year’s Day?

Despite grafting myself in (via marriage) to the south, I have been slow to warm up to black-eyed peas. For the longest time, Pam’s black-eyed pea salad  was the only recipe I liked well enough to incorporate these humble legumes into a meal. But times and tastebuds change, and this year, Hoppin’ John (bottom right in the picture below) was on the New Year’s Day menu, along with dirty rice (small blue ramekin) and shrimp gumbo (in the Dutch oven and dark blue bowl on the left). Side note – I do love my Fiesta shallow bowls/deep plates…they come in so handy, whatever you call them.

IMG_5265Like most southerners, I’ve eaten my share of dirty rice and gumbo (and made a few attempts to make my own) over the years.

I’ve never been particularly thrilled with my own efforts, so I scrapped those old recipes and tried half-size versions of two new ones. Coastal Living’s Gumbo was easy and delicious; Prairie Woman’s Hoppin’ John was also a winner. Paula Deen’s dirty rice was a tad heavy on the chicken livers (which was my fault – the tub I bought didn’t indicate volume, so I guessed it was a pound, and I think it was larger than that), and even when I cut it in half, it made a HUGE batch. So for smaller families, I’d suggest cutting it to 25% and easing up on the chicken livers – maybe just a couple in there.

So what else is on my list of must-try-foods in 2014? I won’t spoil all the surprises, but here are a few that are warming up for their chance at bat:

Tavern thin pizza (I am homing in on a cold-rise pizza crust that will give me the texture I’m looking for)
Crusty artisan bread in my trusty cast-iron Dutch oven
Tuna pot pies
Poblano pepper-smothered steak

And I’m also going to try Reddit’s 52-weeks of cooking challenge.

What new food adventures are you ready to embark upon this year? Life really is too short to eat the same ‘ol, same ‘ol all the time (even though we have our favorite recipes just like everyone else.) And the worst thing that can happen with a new recipe is that it bombs – if it does, your next meal is only a few hours away. So I dare you to plunge in – look through a cookbook or recipe site – and find something new to cook …soon!

Happy cooking!
Terry

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Our “Spring Break” trip (minus any actual Spring Break-ers) was a week of relaxed-pace recreating in Myrtle Beach.  I knew our vacation was off to a great start when I spied our condo’s dishes:

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If you guessed Fiesta, you guessed correctly. I’m feeling very influential these days.  Or maybe I’m just in good company.  What’s not to love about these dishes?

The week provided several rounds of golf for Mr. Official, a couple hours of hot yoga and a nice 5-mile run for me, plus plenty of pool time.  Our winter whites have been banished for the season, replaced by a pink-brown color they call “tan” – I hear it’s the “in” color this summer.

The temperatures exceeded expectations, pegging out in the high 70s/low 80s most days.  We  ate our fill of local seafood each night and we drove Thunder Road:IMG_3395

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…well, one of us did. Somebody had to take pics, and besides, I wasn’t sure I met the height requirements.

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Because Mr. Official is an easy-going good sport, one night he agreed to forgo a seafood feast and dine on movie theater popcorn and Cokes while watching Jurassic Park in 3-D (in a nearly empty theater.. which was kinda weird.)

In between golf, yoga, and taking laps around the lazy river on innertubes, we also got in a day of antiquing, which netted two red fruit bowls and a turquoise salad bowl for my (ever-growing) collection.  I also acquired some wonderful additions to our landscape, courtesy of a plant sale at Brookgreen Gardens and a fabulous little nursery in Murrells Inlet:IMG_3426.

But the highlight of the trip was on Friday…it was a paparazzi moment for me and my camera when I spotted this gosling surrounded by a couple tough-looking bodyguards on high alert.  I managed to squeeze off a few shots before they shooed me away.

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Technically, it was six goslings.

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Oh, wait…you thought I spotted Ryan Gosling?  Silly goose.  Nope. But I think these Canadians are just as cute as he, and it was way easier to get a photo of ’em than THAT guy.

Happy Monday,
Terry

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Forget the Ides of March and all that.  Sorry Julius Caesar, but that was so last week.

It is the final week of March and the first full week of spring, according to the calendar. But the weather says otherwise. In fact, as I write this, it is snowing. Yes, snowing.

Here.

In. The. South.

Gah.

It is not expected to stick or accumulate, and we should start a slow ascent into warmer temperatures as the week wears on…at least that’s what the weather men and women are promising.  One can only hope, because my Easter dress is sleeveless and my shoes are strappy, and I have no intentions of wearing a jacket.  So have a heart, Mother Nature.

It is definitely March Madness around here.  Every night the sound of rubber soles running, stopping, spinning and jumping on oak flooring reverberates throughout our home, thanks to high-def televisions in practically every room. It matters not that we have no dog in this year’s hunt…Smokey is on hiatus and resting up for fall football. We will watch teams we have never heard of play all evening long, until the Sweet Sixteen becomes four and four becomes one NCAA champ.  Then we can resume regularly scheduled programming. (Okay, I confess: I sneak off to a corner of the house and watch Dallas on Monday nights. And Duck Dynasty on Wednesdays. But otherwise, I’m all-in for whoever’s playing next.)

There is a glimmer of silver lining to this unseasonably cold weather:  I have a good reason to try my hand at one last chicken pot pie for the season (new recipe, new hopes), and a pot of Cincinnati-style chili and beans over spaghetti.  The crockpot will get a workout with a brisket that will be turned into hash and a new slow-cooked barbeque chicken with sweet potato cornbread on the side.  Then maybe…just maybe, the weather will warm and we can begin welcoming spring with grilled foods and cool salads.

Oh and one last thing…March Madness can also explain away a recent shopping spree  through Macy’s online store.  Right?  As long as the new Fiesta bowls arrive while it is still March, that’s my defense and I’m sticking to it.

Happy Monday,
Terry

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Before Christmas, I came across two Fiesta finds (okay, steals) on ebay.  One was a Riviera “Mexicana” platter that the seller had mismarked as Universal Potteries.  (A quick lookup with Google confirmed that Universal Potteries never made ANYTHING that looked like Riviera.)  The platters, whether solid or decaled like the one I bought, typically start at $25 and go up from there  I was the lone bidder so I got it for the opening bid of $12.99.

The other was a Kitchen Kraft cake plate for $0.99 that typically commands a $30 to $75 pricetag. The seller described it as “unmarked Fiesta plate,” but I knew what it was when I spotted the photo.

I felt like the American Pickers, except I only had to tap a few keystrokes and know what I was looking at to unearth my treasures.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, Mr. Official and I scouted out the Fiesta dish “outlet” on Sevierville Highway as we headed home from Gatlinburg several weeks ago.  They had some nice vintage pieces, along with new factory seconds and (maybe) first quality items, which were overpriced. Shrug. We were in a tourist trap, so the markup was expected and it was still fun to look.

Among the vintage pieces was a stack of cream soup bowls they had tagged for $65 each.  Which is about the going rate if you have pristine-quality pieces and a willing buyer.  (I paid about $10 each for mine, and accepted a couple with chips in the mix.)  But, here’s the kicker:  they had marked them as onion soup bowls, which retail for about ten times that amount.

Now granted, for those of us living in 2012, we don’t usually differentiate between cream soup and onion soup bowls.  Even our fussiest china dishes probably have just a single bowl for each place setting, and it serves soup, cereal, ice cream, fruit, pudding or whatever requires a bowl.  But back in the day, there were special dishes and serving pieces for just about everything.  And whether you know Fiesta or not, there’s no mistaking these two pieces once you see them:

Cream soup bowls with lug handles
Onion soup bowls with Nautilus handles and lids

Let’s hope no unsuspecting buyer thinks they’re getting a steal based on the misleading tag, which could happen if you just know the Fiesta lore and know that onion soup bowls are exceedingly rare and expensive.

I have collected things just because I liked them, and didn’t really care what they were called or what they were worth because I wasn’t spending much on any of them.

a “pig in a poke”

In fact, that’s how my Fiesta collection began.  Along with several plant collections (roses, hostas, daylilies, heucheras…the list goes on.)

But I caution anyone who is ready to move from dabbling dilettante to serious collector to do your homework first. You don’t need to become a walking encyclopedia of details on the object of your desire, but at least know where to go for answers before you get caught up in the excitement of finding a treasure.  It might be a great buy, or it might turn out to be a proverbial “pig in a poke.”

I’ve found the more I learn about Fiesta, the more I appreciate the pieces I come across.  Sometimes I have the fun of unearthing a piece from the dark, dusty recesses of a salvage store.  I wipe away layers of dirt and grime to see it is, then try to act nonchalant as I hand it to the cashier.  Other times, I simply admire a gleaming, beautiful piece that is proudly displayed by someone who knows what they have, and what it’s worth. 

So what do you collect, and why do you love it?

Happy collecting,


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Barry Zito is a very
expensive pitcher

They say a picture is worth a thousand words.

But how much is a pitcher worth?

Well, if he (or she) can throw like Barry Zito, they are worth a lot more than a thousand words.

Beyond the boys of summer, there are Fiesta pitchers.

A few weeks ago, I did a quick rundown on the ball jug/tilt pitchers made by Fiesta under the Harlequin name, along with other similar pottery pieces of that era.  The ball jugs are usually found with fairly modest price tags; full size pitchers in pristine condition can command $100, maybe $150 or $200 if the right buyer comes along.  The smaller creamer-size versions bring far less – I snagged mine for $5, which was a bargain, but pretty typical.

However, if the pitcher in question is a full-size Fiesta disk pitcher in the ever-elusive medium green full-size, like this one:

 Or a gray juice-size Fiesta in perfect condition, like the smaller one shown here:
 

then they can command major-league prices in the ballpark of $2,000 or more.  (All puns intended.)

One of Fiesta’s most unique and iconic pieces is the disk pitcher.  Fiesta included a disk-shaped juice pitcher in their very first year of production, then added a larger 7-inch pitcher in 1938.  They continue dominating the disk pitcher market with the larger version in all the new colors, along with a newer (post-1986) mini disk version that holds five ounces and works as a personal creamer or syrup server.

While sorting out the old and new can be a challenge, at least there aren’t nearly as many look-alike disk pitchers as there are ball/tilt jugs.

I’ve found some disk pitchers, but really none of them would be mistaken for a Fiesta pitcher.  While a few of these pieces have great  lines and shapes in their own right, it seems the disk pitcher is/was fairly difficult to execute with graceful lines.  I’ve picked out some of the better attempts, as well as a few that are undoubtedly beautiful in the eyes of their beholders.

Hall Pottery made several attempts with disk pitchers; some were more graceful than others.

Alamo Pottery made a version that was stylish and pretty – and the shape is similar to Fiesta, although the markings are distinctly different:

Vernon Kiln Pottery’s Vernonware disk pitcher was particularly graceful and came in several colors:

Feltman-Langer USA, creators of the no-spill travel mug, made their own splash on the mid-century pottery scene with this sleek horizontal ribbed version:
Universal Potteries‘ disk jugs were…well, we’ll just call ’em distinctive. They even came with a cap for the spout.

A few more full-size jug mugs in this rogue’s gallery.  On the left is a Wallace China pitcher; on the right is a Shawnee/McCoy “Stars” pitcher – you have to look closely to see the embossed stars:

And here are some miniature disk pitchers. These mini disks are both most likely from Cronin/Sevilla.  At a glance, they look much like a Fiesta pitcher, except for the lower handle placement; those with the telltale white interior are definitely not Fiesta.

Below is a Cantinaware Pottery creamer.  This is a relatively new piece in a line offered by Target in the mid-1990s until a court-ordered injunction was issued by Homer Laughlin.


 There’s even a collector’s market for “Burrite” plastic disk jugs. To each his own…

And now for the final burning questions on everyone’s mind, I’m sure:

1.  Is it “disk” or “disc?”  Disk is the older word, but both refer to thin, circular things.  You’ll find the pitchers labeled both ways.
2.  And about the term pitcher?  It was first used by the ancient Greeks to describe earthen vessels.  It wasn’t until 1845 that it was used to designate the baseball player on the center mound.

If you are a Fiesta lover, you’ll undoubtedly want to add some disk pitchers to your (ahem) “lineup.” Fortunately, they can be had for much less than an MLB player’s contract.

Happy collecting,

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Buying off eBay can be fun and exciting.  And with some discipline, it can be a fairly (cough) inexpensive means of acquiring items that you want, especially those that are no longer readily available in stores.  Like my Fiesta dishes.  And my violet china.  And my Christmas village pieces.

But as the saying goes, occasionally, there’s a fly in the ointment.  And this past year, I had two ointment incidents – and my guess is they were equally frustrating for the sellers.  The first involved my “lucky #7 red bowl.”  Well, it wasn’t so lucky.  When the USPS driver handed the box to me, it rattled.  I told him it shouldn’t rattle.  We opened it then and there, to find shards and chips rattling around what was left of the cracked bowl. The seller graciously and promptly refunded my money, but that meant I was – and am – still short the seventh bowl.  One of these days, another one in good quality at a good price will come up and I’ll snag it, but sometimes you’re ready for the hunt to be over, and I was at that point.

More recently, the UPS driver left a box at my door that also rattled ominously when I picked it up.  It was supposed to be the Granville house from “It’s a Wonderful Life.”  Well, apparently UPS’ aim was better than George’s – they not only broke out a window, but busted up the whole place. All the kings horses and men couldn’t put this thing back together again.  Like the Fiesta bowl, it’s disappointing for all concerned. In the big scheme of things, it’s a minor tempest in a tiny little teacup, but once again, I’m left without the item that I had really hoped to have and display.

So why am I writing this?  To vent, yes. And to caution sellers of one-of-a-kind items to take extra precautions when preparing them for shipment.  An extra layer or two of bubble wrap, snugged up nice and tight, can mean the difference between a successful transaction and one that leaves everyone feeling the pain.

I’d lump in the drivers and package sorters into my little list of transgressors, but to be honest, those guys do a tremendous job, day in and day out.  I can’t expect them to treat every package like they’re carrying afternoon tea to the Queen.

And I guess I will make it a point from here on out to remind/plead for extra-careful packaging on any future eBay wins.  Then cross my fingers that the box doesn’t make a clink when it shouldn’t.

Happy (?) collecting,

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