Thrifty Kitchen: Homemade Holiday Hot Beverages

by Kim Merrikin, Seattle Goodwill
December 20, 2016

Thrifty Kitchen: Homemade Holiday BeveragesNothing pairs with cold weather and the twinkle of Christmas lights like a hot beverage. Whether you’re into mulled wine, hot cocoa, spiced cider—it all just adds a little something to the holiday season. Earlier in our Holiday #GoodwillDIY series we showed you how to make some festive mugs to serve it in—now here is my personal homemade peppermint hot cocoa recipe and slow cooker cranberry apple cider.  

Peppermint Hot Cocoa
This year, to accommodate some dairy-free guests, I made my cocoa with a base of unsweetened almond milk—and it was delicious. You can try it with other milk substitutes, too—or just regular dairy  milk—but whatever you choose, I recommend getting something unsweetened. You’ll be adding plenty of sweetness.

10 oz. Dark Chocolate Chips
1 Tsp. Vanilla Extract
2 Tsp. Peppermint Extract
2-4 Tbsp. Dark Chocolate Cocoa Powder
½ Gallon Milk or Milk Substitute


  1. Start by putting the milk in a pot over low heat—you want to heat it slowly to avoid burning, or a filmy layer at the top. The milk will likely take longer to heat than making the chocolate mixture to go in it will, so start the milk about 10-15 minutes before you start the steps below.
  2. Add the chocolate chips to the double boiler, and occasionally stir/scrape the bottom and edges as it melts. If you don’t own a double boiler, you can DIY one using a pot and a metal or glass bowl. (These items are easy to come by at Goodwill!).
  3. Once the chocolate is completely melted, add the extracts—stirring each time you add some.
  4. Add the cocoa powder as needed to absorb some of the extra liquid you added to the melted chocolate—add enough so there’s no liquid gathering at the edges of the bowl, but not so much that it starts to get clumpy.
  5. Remove the bowl from the double boiler, and pour the melted chocolate mixture into the milk—use a whisk to mix it well!

Once the ingredients are well-incorporated, it’s ready to serve—top it with marshmallows and a candy cane! (Or, if you want to make it an adult beverage—add a shot of Peppermint Schnapps or Peppermint Vodka.)

Slow Cooker Cranberry Cider

1.5 Liters Apple Cider
½ Liter Cranberry Juice (unsweetened)
2 Cups Orange Juice (Pulp-free, unsweetened)
3-5 Cinnamon Sticks
1 Tbsp. Whole Cloves
½ Cup Sugar (I like to use raw sugar for its molasses-like flavor!)
Cranberries/Orange Slices to Garnish

With the exception of the garnish, throw it all into the slow cooker on low heat for 3-4 hours. It’s that easy. Once it’s hot, you might want to throw the garnishes in the slow cooker so they’re not cold when you serve them with a hot beverage! (Want to make it an adult beverage? Add a shot of bourbon to the mug before adding the cider.)

Enjoy either of these recipes with friends and family—indoors or out! 

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DIY: Holiday Shadowbox Décor

by Kim Merrikin, Seattle Goodwill
December 18, 2016

ShadowboxNext weekend, the end-of-year holidays will be in full swing. Saturday is Christmas Eve, and the first night of Hanukkah, Sunday is Christmas—and the following weekend is the end of Hanukkah, and we’ll say goodbye to 2016, and ring in 2017.

One of the reasons I love this DIY project is that it’s totally adaptable to whatever you’re celebrating over the next few weeks—or anytime. You can simply swap out bauble colors to match your interior décor, choose a different word or phrase to highlight, or change the contents of the shadowbox entirely for a different season or holiday. That’s one of the cool things about DIY projects—you can make it completely yours.Shadowbox - SuppliesFor this project, I started with a small shadowbox frame, some silver, white, and red baubles (that fit within the depth of the frame) that I found at Goodwill, some silver glitter spray paint, white acrylic paint, some paint brushes, and I chose to reuse the lights from last year’s DIY String Light Ornaments.

Step One: Glitter
I started with a light coat of glitter spray paint on the inside of the glass on the shadowbox frame—and then gave it an hour or so to dry completely.

Step Two: Letter
If you want the paint to be on the inside of the glass like I did, you need to paint it on backwards. The easiest way to do this is to write it out forward on a piece of thin paper, outline it with a marker that soaks through the paper, then color it in on the backside of the paper. Place the shadowbox on top of the back side of the paper, and paint over your “stencil.” Paint thin, let it dry, and then paint again—repeat this until you have smooth edges, and opaque paint.Shadowbox LetteringStep Three: Baubles
After a little trial and error, I realized the baubles needed to go in before the lights. Not only did that allow a little extra give when closing the frame, but it helped the lettering pop a bit more with the shadows and backlighting.

Step Four: Lights
Fill as much of the rest of the shadowbox with lights—this is totally optional—but I thought it added a nice touch, and it brings a little light to the living room in an otherwise dark time of the year.

Shadowbox - UnlitStep Five: Close The Shadowbox
The final step is to close the shadowbox. If the back of your frame doesn’t quite fit like mine, use a little hot glue to firmly attach the back.

In this whole process, the lettering was the most challenging and time-consuming. If you’d prefer, you can do the same thing by choosing a font you like, and printing your word in the size you want it, rather than hand-lettering. All in all, this project took about 30 minutes (excluding time spent waiting for paint to dry), and adds brightness and “joy” to the room! 



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Designer bags: From practical use to fashion statement

by Andrew Lang, Seattle Goodwill
December 16, 2016

Women’s handbags have underwent quite the transformation during the past 200 years. While today perhaps the purse is utilized as a fashion statement as much as it is for practical use, the reason for having a bag in tow has never wavered. Its instrumental purpose is carrying important items to and from.

Bags have been utilized for centuries, obviously, but the true evolution of today’s purse derives from the 18th century when women’s clothing transformed, thus producing the reticule—the first real handbag.  

Reticules were made from various fabrics and hung from chords or chains. The 19th Century Industrial Revolution spawned new materials such as papier-mache, iron and polished steel. Those were used to craft new designs, and soon bags were developed for the modern traveler.

The most influential factor in developing today’s common handbag was women’s expanding roles. With society adapting and more women gaining workplace roles, women became more mobile and needed their handbags for practical needs.

Eventually, all sorts of bags were created for various needs. Leather bags were made for office use, more practical plastic bags were made for casual usage and elegant bags and clutches were designed for evening occasions.

The importance of branding emerged during the 20th Century, and with it came the rise of well-known designer brands such as Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Prada, Chanel and Versace to name a few.

Quality designer bags are made to last a long time and are an investment, and shopping Seattle Goodwill online or at our eBay store presents a more affordable alternative for those either looking to make a fashion statement or get plenty of use out of a quality bag.

Plus, when you shop online at Goodwill, you’re helping us create jobs for others by providing funding for our free Job Training and Education Programs.

Coach is one of the most common designer bag brands. Here are some tips from Goodwill Online Auctions Lister Jamie Havins on how to decipher a real from a fake:

  1. Stitching: Probably the No. 1 indictor of a fake bag is the intricacy—or lack thereof—in the stitching. If you’re buying a quality product, you should expect some quality effort put into it. Look for many small stitches completed in a clean, straight manner. If the material buckles along the stitching, that’s a red flag.
  2. Signature pattern: Coach bags are notorious for their signature ‘C’ patterning, but one hallmark of the brand is if the patterning is on the exterior, there won’t be any on the interior lining. Many creators of faux bags think, ‘More Cs the better,’ and will plaster the Coach insignia all over the bag.
  3. Check the creed: Coach bags have a stamp on the inside of them called a creed. If the creed is not stamped in very deep, there’s a good chance it’s a fake. Also, if you type in the last four digits after the hyphen on creed, a real purse should pop up online. In real coach creeds, the letters are in all CAPS.   

*History of bags obtained from Tassen Museum of Bags and Purses

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DIY: Gold Accent Mugs

by Kim Merrikin, Seattle Goodwill
December 11, 2016

DIY: Gold Accented MugsIf you’ve been following along with our DIY projects, you’re probably familiar with our love for spray paint. Why do we love it so? It’s versatile—it comes in a variety of colors, textures, and types that work on nearly every surface type. You can refinish furniture, dress up photo frames—or turn ordinary white coffee mugs into a festive addition to your holiday party, or gift for a friend!

We found three mis-matched—but all white—coffee mugs at our Flagship store on Dearborn, grabbed a can of gold all-surfaces Krylon spray paint, a roll of Frogtape, and a food-safe spray-on sealant to make three different gold-accented mugs.

White MugsStep One: Clean
Always start a project that involves spray paint by thoroughly cleaning and drying the surface you’re about to paint. (We recommend cleaning everything you purchase in our stores before use!)

Use Frogtape to create a patternStep Two: Tape
Next, use the frog tape to cover the areas of the mug you want to stay white. You can see in the photo that we have two mugs with a white rim, and one with a gold one—after completing this project, we realized the ones that had the white rim looked a little better.

Step Three: Paint
Once you have your pattern taped down, in a well-ventilated area and with a ground covering, coat the whole mug in a thin layer of paint. Let it dry, then repeat. You might need to do this 3-4 times.

Spray paint the mugs goldStep Four: Seal
Once the paint is completely dry to the touch, add a layer or two of sealant. This will allow you to wash the mug, and make it safer to drink from—and less likely to rub off on hands, clothes, or furniture.

Step Five: Peel
Gently peel the Frogtape off of the mug. It should leave crisp lines, with no leakage under the tape.

Step Six: Seal Again
Now that you’ve exposed the edges of your paint job, spray on an extra layer of sealant.

Let the mugs dry (and air out) for a day or two before washing and using.

Stay tuned for a blog with some festive beverage recipes that will fill your gold-accented mugs! 

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Uncoding the value of trading cards

by Andrew Lang, Seattle Goodwill
December 9, 2016

Growing up in the 1990s, nearly every birthday, Christmas or trip to a grocery store I pleaded with my parents for a pack of sports trading cards. Usually, they’d deliver, and sometimes I’d be lucky enough to score an entire box.

My parents always told me to hold on to them because they’d be worth money someday.

Looking back through those old cards brings a fun sense of nostalgia, and I’ve since come to terms that few sports cards made after 1980 are worth much money. That’s because today they’ve lost popularity, and so many were made post 1980 that anything made since isn’t very rare.

Financially, apparently I was collecting the wrong trading cards.

Of all the cards on the market, nothing is more popular than Magic: The Gathering. MTG, which was created in 1993 by Richard Garfield and published by Wizards of the Coast, has been popular since its inception and boasts 20 million players as of 2015.

Because of the large draw, there are plenty of buyers looking to collect the rarest MTG cards. Three years ago, arguably Magic’s most famous card—The Black Lotus—fetched $27,302 during an auction.

Obviously, Black Lotuses aren’t hanging out in every collector’s stack of cards, but if you want to begin playing MTG or want to bolster your existing collection with some rare cards, Seattle Goodwill has a treasure trove awaiting.

On Magic card players or traders can find 17-pound boxes of cards for sale. That’s right, 17-POUND BOXES. Hand selected sets of 30-40 rare cards also are available and even some individual cards.

Pete Williams, who specializes in listing trading cards for Seattle Goodwill’s Online store, said he saw a dual lands Magic card sell for upward of $200 online.

Here are some things to look for when shopping trading cards at Goodwill:

Magic: The Gathering


  • Fifteen cards come in a traditional MTG booster pack. You’ll receive one basic land card, 10 common cards, three uncommon cards and one rare or mythic rare card.
  • The color of the expansion set symbol will indicate the rarity of a card. Black = common, silver = uncommon, gold = rare and orange/red/bronze = mythic.
  • Don’t forget about foil cards. They will also have a colored symbol and have a great chance of being valuable. Treat them as you would a rare card.



  • Look at the bottom-right corner of your card to determine its rarity. Circle = common, diamond = uncommon, star = rare, star H or three stars = special or extra rare.
  • Holographic cards have a shiny, foil layer and a rare holographic card indicates it is probably has some value.
  • Most Pokémon cards display the Pokémon’s level after the name on the top right. Some cards have additional symbols, and those cards tend to hold value. Symbols could include an ex, a star, LV.X, or SP.
  • Like most trading cards, Pokémon cards created early on often hold value. Any card that reads “Wizards of the Coast” at the bottom is from 1999-2000. Also, look for a first edition stamp.  

Visit Goodwill’s online or eBay store find all the MTG and Pokémon cards you’re looking for.

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