Sisterdale

Hill Country Venture

by Celia Hayes

So, knowing that on Saturday, May 10, that we will be tied up all day in the hot-pink-and-zebra-striped booth in the Beall’s parking lot at 281 and Bulverde Crossing for the Bulverde Spring market – and that we had some projects to finish before then – my daughter and I declared Friday, May 2 to be our personal holiday, and embarked on a short road trip into the Hill Country. Yes, we love the Hill Country, especially when it appears to have been blessed with slightly more rain than we have had in San Antonio. I wanted to get some snaps that I could use for the cover of my next book, but alas – the bluebonnets were at their best last month.

We went up through the back-road between Boerne and Luckenbach, which leads through Sisterdale; home of the Sister Creek Winery, and the Sisterdale Market just across the street from it – a tiny market, eatery and weekend event venue, where Chico the Tiny Chihuahua returned miraculously on last New Years Day, after an absence of about three weeks. We had a nice chat with the owner and admiring Chico, who apparently survived by hiding out in armadillo holes and drinking from a tiny spring, where his even tinier footprints were later noted. The Sisterdale Market is a charming place, in an old house by the side of the road. During Prohibition days, there was an illicit still in operation in the cellar – whoa – a cellar, for real? The still itself was, according to the current owner, taken out and buried someplace out in back. You’d have thought that the metal parts would have been easily found … but between Sister Creeks, the soil is rich and deep, and easily-dug.

The Sister Creek Winery is another indicator of how steadily the Hill Country is progressing to a state where it might yet be mistaken for the south of France; not only have entrepreneurs experimented with producing goat cheese, olive oil and lavender over the last twenty years or so – there are also vineyards galore. Sister Creek is one of the longer-established; even on a non-holiday Friday there were cars outside – including a massive white stretch limo.

The show-room is an old cotton-gin, built of heavy oak beams, low-ceilinged and smelling of ancient wood. The newer part, where the heavy-lifting of making wine is done, has been added at the back; rooms where the grapes are processed and aged, first in huge stainless-steel tanks, and then in wooden barrels – rank after rank, each labeled with what they are and how long they have been sitting. Some of them are rather heavily stained around the massive wooden bung on top; and that lends another wonderful odor. When I was a very small child, I remember visiting a winery with my parents and grandparents; a wonderful place, set in a garden, and one huge wooden wine-vat, which must have measured at least thirty feet across, and two or three stories tall. It had been retired from active wine-ageing duty and converted into a kind of pavilion in the garden, but the smell of it inside was positively intoxicating in itself. I don’t know if any of the wineries here now age wine in huge wooden barrels like that any more – but it would be a landmark if they did. After all, everything in Texas is supposed to be bigger.

Gypsy Market Vendor

The Moveable Market

by Celia Hayes

My daughter and I are moving a little deeper into the world of the gypsy entrepreneur market these days. I mean, I have been dabbling around the edges for good few years as an independent author, once I realized that there was more to be made – and a lot less ego-death involved – by taking a table at a craft fair, like the New Braunfels Christmas Market, or in Miss Ruby’s Author Corral at Goliad’s Christmas on the Square. But this – like strictly book events, like the West Texas Book and Music Festival in Abilene – involved only a table and a chair. I usually had to bring along some tablecloths, some informational flyers, postcards and my business card, and maybe something eye-catching to adorn the table.

Going hard-core and getting a whole booth at something like the Boerne Market Days meant going much, much farther. My daughter has started a little business making various origami ornaments, flowers and jewelry, and this year we decided to partner together. It helps to have two people doing this kind of event, by the way – you can spell each other, make jaunts to other venders, go to the bathroom – and setting up and breaking down the booth or table is much, much easier. Many vendors, like us, have a day job, or several day jobs. They create on their own time, and bring it to the local market circuit on the weekends.

If we keep it up, we will have to purchase our own folding tables, and pop-up canopy – the nice kind, with the zip-up panel walls which can be attached for shelter, shade and some degree of security. This time, we rented from the management of the Boerne Market Days – but the people who regularly have a spot at the various markets own their own, which will make some more things to stuff into the Montero. A couple of good-sized banners to advertise our two little enterprises are also in our future. I don’t think we’ll go as far as a friend did, when she was selling at faraway craft shows. She and her husband went in their travel trailer; where they slept and cooked their own meals rather than lay out for motel rooms and restaurant meals. The name of the game is to break rather more than even; if the costs of participating in a market; table fee, gas, lodgings, food and your stock – all come up to more than you’ll make from sales, then you are doing it wrong.

We already have a lot of other necessary impedimenta – like a collection of sturdy covered plastic tubs in various sizes to store and transport our stock in, which can be fitted into the back of the Montero in a kind of three-dimensional game of Tetris. We saw quite a few venders with varied collections of tubs. We already have some necessary display hardware; metal and wooden stands for propping up books to display them, a rack for showing off pairs of earrings, some baskets and a magnetic board to show off the origami in. Many of the gypsy venders also have tall mesh stands, panels or folding screens to hang items on, or to attach narrow shelves for a wall display.

We already had a cash box, and receipt books – but for this time out we obtained a handy little gadget which only became available in the last year or so; a card reader which attaches to my daughter’s cell phone so that we could process credit card payments. This is enormously helpful to us and many other gypsy entrepreneurs, who previously could only handle check or cash payments. It’s the new old game again – small businesses run from a home or a farm, and selling at temporary markets.

Mobile Food Trucks of San Antonio

Eating on the Go

by Celia Hayes

Well, there is fast food, and then there is fast food – fast food that comes to the customer. When I was stationed in Korea such a convenience was called the ‘chogi’ truck, or as the local national employees called it ‘roooch-coachie’. It came around mid-morning to the building where I worked, dispensing hot sandwiches, snacks, candy bars, ice cream and bags of salted or sugared snack foods. But the chogi truck is to a food truck today as a Model T is to a Jeep Cherokee. They’re gasoline-powered motor vehicles, and they dispense food to the hungry … but the 21st century food truck tends to be a specialty gourmet kitchen on wheels. Certainly in a large and built-up city, there would be lots of hungry lunch-time customers.

Quite likely, a good number of those hungry workers would have exhausted all of the available and nearby restaurants and fast-food places. It’s an expensive and time-consuming operation, opening up a new restaurant in a profitable location in the big city. Conventional wisdom has it that the odds on a new restaurant venture failing within the first three years of operation are fairly high – so starting small with a food truck is a logical solution. Without the huge start-up expense of real estate and a building – all the budding chef-entrepreneur needs is a kitchen on wheels, a map of the city – and one which permits food trucks to park on streets relatively unhindered – and a lot of hungry customers. These days, it also helps to have a Facebook page.

Food trucks have a relatively long history, as these things go. According to the invaluable Wikipedia, the mobile kitchen/canteen had it’s origins in Texas – in the chuck-wagon developed by Charles Goodnight for use on the long-trail cattle drives after the Civil War, when the Transcontinental Railroad had pushed far enough into Kansas to make Texas cattle profitable in the larger markets of the East. From the horse-drawn chuck-wagon, came lunch trucks, which provided meals to shift-workers in the big cities, especially those working the night shift around the turn of the century. This trend continued, of lunch trucks serving meals at construction sites, and setting up at fairs and festivals. The US Army maintained mobile canteens – kitchens on wheels, which are most likely the direct ancestor of today’s food trucks.

According to the same source, the current popularity for food trucks coincided with the economic downturn; a plentitude of food-trucks with no construction sites to service, and a similar glut of hopeful chefs with no restaurants to work in. Necessity makes opportunities – and in this case, a very useful one. Out on 281 and Thousand Oaks, outside the 1604 Loop, a far-seeing local entrepreneur established a sort of gourmet food park – the Boardwalk on Bulverde, set aside for food trucks and customers to meet, greet, and eat. My personal favorite food truck is permanently parked on Nacogdoches, next to the Cordova Auto Center; Ericks Tacos, which has Mexican-style street food to die for and funky street-dining atmosphere to spare. Oh – and look out for the green sauce; nuclear fission in a small plastic cup. On a book trip up to Abilene, we ran across Short Bus Hot Dogs – which is a hotdog stand set up in a converted school bus. And yes, they have a Facebook page. Charlie Goodnight didn’t have any idea of what he set in motion, in 1866.

Texas King Cotton

When Cotton Was King

by Celia Hayes

Amazingly enough, cotton once was king in this part of Texas, even though one thinks more of cattle ranches rather than large-scale cotton production. By the mid 1700s, the Spanish missions established at the headwaters of the San Antonio River produced several thousand pounds of cotton fiber annually, which was spun and woven into cloth for local consumption. The climate was just right to grow cotton, all through the Rio Grande Valley and other more or less temperate regions. Once the threat of Indian raids diminished after the Civil War, and railways opened up access to distant markets, cotton agriculture thrived all across Texas – mostly on a share-cropped basis, where a landowner contracted with an otherwise landless tenant laborer to cultivate and harvest in exchange for a share of the resulting crop.

And cotton grew well – very well indeed, although actual physical relics of it having done so around San Antonio are sparse and most usually in ruins. Before the Civil War it was almost axiomatic that intensive cultivation of cotton speedily exhausted the most fertile soil – but that wasn’t what killed the cotton fields around San Antonio. The not-quite-unexpected disaster came with the arrival of the boll weevil plague – an insect pest which slowly began moving north from Mexico late in the 19th century and hit the American cotton-growing belt in the 1920s. The boll weevil and the stock market crash of 1920 sent local cotton producers into a tail-spin … and by the time efficient pesticides were applied to cotton fields after WWII, many growers and those who made a living from processing the cotton harvest had moved on to other crops – or other means of making a living.

Since the 1920s, suburbia has reached into the vicinity of formerly San Antonio and New Braunfels agricultural lands, but there are some still-existing or repurposed remains. The most noticeable are the ruins of industrial cotton ‘gins’ – ‘gin’ being a shortening of ‘engine’ – that mechanical device developed to efficiently and economically separate the cotton fibers from the seeds. There are three that I know of, although there are probably many more. The most famous that I know is the building in Gruene which now houses the Gristmill Restaurant. Indeed, Gruene was a whole little town built upon the cotton industry. When it all went to nothing in the 1920s, Gruene became stuck in a lovely and preservative kind of stasis, just as it was built in the late 19th and early 20th century. Now it is a destination on the north margin of New Braunfels – and well worth the visit.

The second old cotton gin is out in the fields on the southern fringe of New Braunfels – a little town now a crossroads of secondary roads. It used to be called Comal … and there, in a grove of pecan trees are the yellow-brick ruins and tall chimney stack, along with a brief row of stores which were the center of lively rural life at the same time as Gruene. And in the gentle valley of the Sister Creek there is a third building – a frame one, this time – which also housed a cotton gin, and now serves as the showroom for Sister Creek Winery.

There is still cotton in Texas fields, though; a couple of years ago, I took some pictures of cotton growing near Winters, just south of Abilene – and last year, we spotted huge trailer-truck sized cotton bales just outside Lockhart, at the edge of the parking lot at the Kreuz Market. Cotton – perhaps not king any longer, but still a haunting presence.

Ye Kendall Inn

Boerne – Ye Kendall Inn

by Celia Hayes

So, we were off to Boerne again last Friday, rejoicing in the rain that had fallen the night before – this time so that I could do a talk on the Civil War in the Hill Country for a local chapter of the Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War. Quite a few of the members are transplanted Texans, courtesy of military service – so the series of events in the years 1860-65 in the Hill Country were new to them and interesting.

To me, the nice part of the meeting was that it took place at Ye Kendall Inn, in the modern-but-decorated-to- look-old Halle – the conference center, which is just one of the ramble of buildings – many of them historic and fascinating in themselves – in back of the pillared and porticoed main building. The Kendall Inn has been in the hospitality business since the earliest days of settlements in the Hill Country. It owes much to a convenient location; on a low eminence overlooking a particularly scenic bend of Cibolo Creek, right on Boerne’s pecan-tree lined central square, where a local market is held on the second Saturday of every month.

The oldest part of the Inn began as a private residence – a mansion, really – built by a family named Reed, in the 1850s. It was built of native stone, with walls twenty inches thick, and in the traditional Southern Colonial style, with a wide porch all across the front, and a long gallery on the second floor. The Reeds and other neighbors were in the habit of renting spare bedrooms to travelers and visitors, since there was no other accommodation for them. Some years after the Civil War, what became the structure was purchased by one Colonel Henry King, who served in the Texas state legislature, while his wife ran the Inn.

By then, Boerne was one of the places where local cattle ranchers assembled large herds for the long trek north to the rail-served stockyards in Kansas. After the Kings tenure, the original building was sold again, to a pair of hoteliers from Dallas, who renamed it the Boerne Hotel, and expanded the building, adding a pair of galleried wings on either side. They hoped to cater to those who came to restore their health in the mild climate of the Hill Country, and to wealthy San Antonio residents who came to escape the dreadful summer heat in those days before air conditioning. One of the biggest local boosters was a pair of doctors; William Kingsbury and Ferdinand Herff, who lauded the efficacy of the local hot springs and the clear air.

Before the San Antonio & Aransas Pass railroad line reached Boerne in 1887, those visitors arrived on the stage – which stopped at the hotel, after a seven-hour journey from San Antonio. For the remainder of the 19th century and the first two decades of the 20th, Boerne was a mecca for those wanting to recover their health, or just to spend a lively and fashionable summer in the Hills. For all of that time, the Kendall Inn was one of the main centers of social activity. Now, having become one of what my daughter calls ‘a bedroom slipper of San Antonio’ the Kendall Inn is still a destination, with a wine shop, a very fine restaurant and grill, a spa … and of course, it is still a hotel.

A Weekend of Market Hopping in San Antonio

A Weekend in the Markets

by Celia Hayes

Several markets, actually – beginning with the super-gigantic NEISD – PTA book sale, which is held every year in April at the Blossom Athletic center basketball stadium. This is the nirvana of book sales to a serious aficionado of same, both because of the flat rate involved: 50 cents for softbound, one dollar for hard-bound, no matter what the size or original value of the book involved, and because … well, there is nearly half an acre of books, and all of them roughly organized by category, and I have been able to replace many of the books that my parents had in their house when it burned to the ground in 2003; books and serious publications like Horizon and American Heritage, which I consumed as if they were Godiva chocolates from the time that I could read words of three syllables and more.

Very likely that is where my affection for excellent writing, far corners of the earth and exciting history came from. This time, I scored twenty-two books, half of them being copies of the American Heritage magazine when it was published in hardback and without advertisements. I recognized every one of the covers, since they were from 1964-1966. This made a full and heavy box full of books, for which I requested the services of a sturdy youth to carry them out to the Montero. These events are fully staffed by adult, teenage and grade-school age volunteers, it benefits the PTA of the Northside Independent School District here in San Antonio, the range of books on offer is incredible and the prices for them cannot be beaten with a stick. Look for next year’s sale sometime in April, 2013. NEISD is one of the largest school districts in San Antonio. Search for NEISD homes for sale online.

From there, my daughter and I headed north to Boerne, for Market Days and a pleasant afternoon going up Main Street and dipping into those variously tempting establishments with goods affordable to the likes of us – especially those antique stores which have pressed glass among the goods. My daughter collects this … but from antique stores is not so much fun as scoring it at yard and estate sales. We went to support a neighbor of ours who makes hanging bird-feeders from plates, and curious ornamented lamps made from bottles filled with glass pebbles … he’s another retiree like me, with an all-consuming interest and a certain degree of skill.

There are a number of interesting new shops along Main Street now; the one which we liked the best was a The Squirrel’s Nest resale shop, at 255 South Main which benefits the Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation center in Kendalia. This is a place which does an absolutely sterling and very valuable job; that is, they’re the folks you call when you find an injured wild critter or bird. You might not know what to do, but they do. And there were some very nice things in the resale shop… Boerne, TX is in the Texas Hill Country. Search online for Boerne ISD homes for sale.

We love market days in Boerne (pronounced ‘Bernie’) – my daughter says it is one of San Antonio’s bedroom slippers, with Bulverde being the other slipper. Market Days in Boerne are on the second weekend of the month, on the town square, which is adorned by a bandstand and a line of pecan trees around three sides. There is a regular booth offering the very best beef or chicken gorditas, made with fresh-fried corn tortillas and simply stuffed to the brim with juicy goodness. Regulars to the market and townspeople on Main Street know about this … so I’m glad to know the secret is out. They set up at the river end of town square, just across the street from the waterworks building and the public lavatories.

And that was my weekend – yours?

Christmas Baskets for the Neighbors

Sing We Now of Christmas

by Celia Hayes

And of Christmas presents, and decorations on the tree and mailing out the cards and all … we really don’t have to go shopping actually, since we do that throughout the year. What we do at this time of the year is to turn out the contents of the ‘gift closet’ – where we had stashed all the things purchased throughout the year with an eye towards this season, wrap them suitably and send them on their merry way. That done, we turn to the entrancing question of ‘what to give the neighbors’ for Christmas, or more particularly, those neighbors who are also friends. Something to eat is the standard, but fruitcake is … well, does anyone actually eat fruitcake? Cookies are … well, everybody does cookies, and I am beginning to suspect that no one actually eats them either. I am pretty certain that no one ate them that year I did gingerbread cookies from an old Joy of Cooking recipe and they came tasting something like ginger and looking like what we have to pick up after the dog.

Fortunately for our neighbors, there’s a whole world of home-made edible possibilities out there, and this year, we’ve been exploring them. We decided upon gift-baskets of flavored olive oil and spiced vinegar, with a mini-wheel of home-made cheddar cheese, and a small loaf of home-baked fresh bread. (I, in a moment of backing frenzy some years ago, bought a number of mini-loaf pans.)

The recipe for the flavored oil is fairly straight-forward: three or four fresh springs of rosemary (picked from the bounteous rosemary bushes growing in the front yard) washed and carefully dried, and ¼ to ½ teaspoon of dried and crushed red pepper flakes. Place in a bottle, and fill to near the top with good quality olive oil, heated until just barely warm. Cork the bottle, and store in a cool dark place for at least a week. (Refrigerate after opening.)

We did garlic and chili pepper vinegar, also. This recipe came from Sunset’s Home Canning recipe book. We used dried red cayenne peppers from the pepper plants which grew so lavishly in the topsy-turvy: four to six dried peppers, three to four dried bay leaves, and three fresh cloves of garlic per bottle, filled to the top with white wine vinegar. As with the oil, store in a dark, cool place before use, and refrigerate afterwards. The very best deal on the small bottles that we chose for the vinegar and oil was at Home Brew Party, on Nacogdoches and Judson.

The homeade cheeses were made from a recipe for farmhouse cheddar, in Ricki Carroll’s Home Cheesemaking, but instead of making one large wheel, I made three little ones. But if you don’t want to venture that far into D-I-Y territory, any small flavorful cheese would do. My daughter, the Queen of All Thrift-Shopping found inexpensive baskets to hold it all at the Dollar Tree, but really, any attractive container will do – even just a plain brown bag with a checkered napkin. So, our gift baskets will look pretty much like this – don’t you wish you were our neighbors?

 

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Old Banners Become Ladies Handbags

We’ve Never Wondered About That . . .

by Celia Hayes

We did our usual ramble through the yearly San Antonio Herb Market this last weekend; It used to be much more down-home and funky when it used to be held under the oak trees in Aggie Park, but a couple of years ago it moved to tres upscale digs at the Pearl Brewery, which allowed us to hit the weekly Saturday farmer’s market as well. It’s been at least a year since we did the farmer’s market at the Pearl. To our delight there were many new venders, and some of our old favorites, including the Kitchen Pride folks from Gonzales who sell mushrooms. My daughter loves mushrooms, and indulged in a whole bag of baby portabellas, we sampled some gourmet mozzarella, while she lamented once again her capacity for making ricotta when she really, really meant to make mozzarella. (It’s a gift, I guess.)

Anyway, we hit the farmer’s market first, and walked back through the Full Goods building, and curiosity led us into one of the offices, where there were a great many tables set out, piled with colorful scraps of this and that, and a table of handbags, market bags, purses and aprons set out.

It turned out that this was where the volunteers working to revive the Women’s Pavilion in HemisFair Park had set up one of their projects, which was to make these bags and things out of used advertising banners. It seems that these enormous all-weather banners and things are one-time-use only; for sports events, conventions, street displays, to hang outside and indoors to advertise or ornament special events and all. The material they are made of is not only indestructible; the used banners can’t be buried in a land-fill, or incinerated because of all the stuff that would be released in burning, and it’s not like they can be painted over, like a billboard. So, what to do – what to do? Well, recycle them into something useful and ornamental, and what about bags and aprons?

So, the ladies of the Women’s Pavilion had worked up a number of patterns – easy to use, especially if one is of an age to have taken home economics – and solicit volunteers to come and cut out the pieces for the various items from a bale of banners made available, which would be sewn together by experts . . . and sell the resulting items to fund the restoration of the Women’s Pavilion. Some of the finished items were amazing, and ingenious – and of course the original banners had been extremely eye-catching and colorful as well. One couldn’t not make something dull, given the original material, and they certainly would be durable enough.

The San Antonio building originally was paid for almost entirely by donations and subscriptions, and designed to fit the site: lots of light and air, multi-level and flat-roofed, in a classic 1960’s modern style. Unfortunately, it fell into disrepair after the HemisFair was over. The eventual hope is that the restored building being so convenient to the Henry B. Gonzales Convention Center and an integral part of HemisFair Park in downtown San Antonio, Texas, that it would work as an event venue: a place for classes, an exhibition space, and for civic and private events. It will take a great many bags and aprons to get there, I am sure – but the supply of raw material is nearly inexhaustible, and so is the determination of the women to make it so.

And we had never really thought about what happens to those old banners. Now we know.

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2011 Annual Herb Festival At Pearl Brewery

20 Herbs to Remember

Written by Randy Watson

The 20th Anniversary of the San Antonio Herb Market presents the “20 Herbs to Remember” … at the Pearl Brewery Complex, 312 Pearl Parkway, San Antonio, TX. Saturday, October 15, 2011 from 9:00am to 4:00pm.

The 2011 San Antonio Herb Market. The free SAWS-sponsored event features cooking demos, lectures, and activities for the kids! Purchase fresh herbs and other plants, handmade soaps, olive oils, books and other products to delight your herbal senses. Visit with experts on organic gardening, and choose from an array of handmade gardening items to purchase for your patio, deck or yard.

The Herb Market is free and open to the public. Mark your calendars for this very special event!

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Habits of Frugality Part 1

Frugality – Part One

by Celia Hayes

I suppose I have come by the predilection for thrift in a fairly straightforward way – I inherited it. There are things that because my parents didn’t do them, I never actually have or would in the foreseeable future. Like purchase an entirely new automobile. Do you know how much it depreciates, as soon as you drive it off the lot? I can hear Dad lecturing me, even now. At least two years old, lightly used, dealer warranty.

Not even if I should become a fabulously wealthy and famous writer, the Margaret Mitchell of the Hill Country  . . .  nope, although I have now and again spent money unwisely, I just cannot bring myself to spend full retail on certain things. Apparently I am not alone in this, these days.  As my mother said of certain items of classic fashion; “Hold onto them long enough and they will come around again.” So, these habits of frugality have most assuredly come around again, in these troubled economic times. I can let them out for a romp, and bask in the glow of being fashionable! (This last happened when I first got into blogging – hey, for about a year or so, I was cutting edge!)

I guess the first overarching principle is – don’t fear second-hand! Second hand is cool, quirky and devastatingly original! It wasn’t made in China – it may even have been made in America! It is even ecologically sound, if that floats your boat. Best of all – it’s cheap. There are things that it is just more sensible to buy second hand: books, for instance. DVDs. Clothing – lightly worn, clean and good quality, of course. Older, vintage items might even be better quality for the same price as something brand new – but cheap. The same goes for shoes, but extra emphasis on the lightly-worn. Accessories and decorative elements, jewelry – say, what do you call second-hand jewelry which has been around for a while? Vintage, if not actually antique.  China, pottery, and glassware; you’d be blown away by the quality and good value of items available at estate sales, garage sales and thrift stores.

Speaking of antiques, that’s another good second hand purchase: good solid wood furniture. Something made twenty, thirty years ago, of solid wood with a little wear and tear on it will still be something more solid, more worthwhile, elegant, and possibly even more interesting that a something made last week from a slab of glued and compressed sawdust covered with cheap veneer. Consider this, also – that solid piece of good wood furniture is already broken in!

Second-hand upholstered furniture is something I am in two minds about – considering that liquids (including human and animal bodily fluids – yuck!) might have been spilled into it, all kinds of microscopic and larger vermin might have made a happy home therein over the years that it has been in use. Basically, unless it can be dry-cleaned, or run through an ultra-hot washing machine cycle with bleach, I’d give it a miss.   . . .  this applies to pillows, too. And mattresses. I might be budget-minded, but I am also fastidious.  Generally, these last fall into the category of things one should go ahead and purchase new, but your mileage and your skills at upholstery may vary.

(Next week – Marked down, and a list of sources!)
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