The last few weeks, my son, David, and I have spent Saturday mornings going to tag sales in the area. I mainly go to look for books, pieces of my mother's china (I'm trying to find extra pieces in the event I break any) and anything that may catch my fancy.

We've been pretty lucky so far -- I've picked up shorts and capris with the original store tags on them, pieces of china identical to my mom's and made by the same pottery, but in a different color (a total impulse buy) some CDs and a wall decoration for our deck. David has managed to score a tool box for his truck, brand new and with a working lock, and some prints for his walls.

I wasn't always a tag sale person. As a matter of fact, I resisted my sister-in-law's efforts to get me to go for years. She finally convinced me and I was semi-hooked. I enjoyed spending the time with her, but
didn't really buy much -- until I had David. The summer I was pregnant, I made an amazing discovery -- there are thousands of never-been-worn baby clothes and never-been-used baby equipment to be had. One of the greatest tag sales I've ever gone to was at the home of a woman who had had a retail children's clothing store or consignment shop. For $20, I literally stuffed a hug trash bag full of new baby clothes in sizes 3 months to well over 3T. I had enough clothes to dress David for almost two years.

David had no choice in his early years but to go to tag sales with me. When he was a baby, I would carry him as I checked things out.


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When he got older, he discovered there were toys to be had -- and mom would rarely say no, unlike when we went to the store. By the time he was 5, I had gotten into the habit of giving him $5 and letting him buy what he wanted. Sometimes he spent it all, sometimes he didn't and it went back into my wallet and was added to the next week's $5.

Unfortunately, he quickly learned to dicker on the prices, even if he couldn't read them yet. I say unfortunately because it often meant the object of his desires was something I didn't particularly want him to bring home. One time he spotted a rather large Little Tykes mountain with tunnels and slopes that was designed to be used with Matchbox or Hot Wheels cars. It was in excellent condition, and I knew he would have a great time with it, but there was no room in his already crowded bedroom and would end up in the living room. My saving grace, or so I thought, was it was marked $15 and he only had $5.

"Sweetie, you don't have enough money. It costs $10 more than you have," I explained.

To his credit, he didn't complain or ask for more money. I turned to look at some books and realized he had wandered away. I watched as he went up to the woman running the sale and tugged on her pants leg.

"Misses, I really want that mountain for my cars," he said, looking up at her with his big blue eyes, pointing at the toy and gripping his money in his other hand. "But I only have $5. Could I buy it for this?"

I waited for her to say no and offer it to him for $10, at which point I was going to give him the extra money. To my surprise, she agreed to the $5. It was so big, he couldn't lift it. I lived with the state's second-highest peak in my living room for years.

A few years later, he fell in love with a large floor vase. My friend, Nancy, had a few in her home and he was infatuated with them. The vase was marked $15 and again I was counting on his lack of funds. He flashed his baby blues, the woman said, "Oh you're so cute!" and accepted $5. He was so proud he could give it to me. When the salvage crew came to our house a few years ago, after we lost our home in a fire, that vase was one of the fist items to be packed up to be cleaned.

There also has been surprises along the way. I once bought David an L.A. Raiders jacket for $5 -- the first time he wore it he found a $20 bill in a zipped-up pocket. At another sale, as I browsed through some books, I came upon one I had had as a child, which I remarked to my sister-in-law. I bought it for old times' sake and brought it home -- only to discover "This book belong to Margaret Ebert" written in a childish printing. It was my book. I wonder where it had been during its 30-year absence from my life.

David surprised me this weekend by buying a large container of hummus at the market. Nancy comes from a long line of Lebanese and makes a mean hummus, which over the years I had never seen Mr. I-Don't-Do-Fruits-or-Veggies (yes, I know chick peas are technically legumes) ever taste.

So, folks, stock up on some pita chips or bread because this week it's all about hummus. I used to make these two for tailgating during David's college football games.

Warning: Tahini is not cheap these days; the good news is that a can will make many batches of hummus and it stays good for a long time in the refrigerator.

Pizza Hummus

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 cup tomato paste

2 teaspoons dried oregano

1 teaspoon dried basil

2 to 3 cloves garlic

3 cups canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed,1 2 cup liquid reserved

1/4 cup tahini

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

Kosher salt

Heat the olive oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add the tomato paste, oregano and basil and cook until slightly toasted, about two minutes. Transfer the tomato paste mixture to a food processor. Add the garlic, chickpeas, chickpea liquid, tahini, lemon juice and 1 teaspoon salt. Puree until smooth and creamy.


Buffalo Wing Hummus

3 cups canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed,1 2 cup liquid reserved

2 to 3 cloves garlic

1/4 cup tahini

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

11/2 teaspoons paprika

2 tablespoons barbecue sauce

2 to 3 tablespoons cayenne hot sauce

1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar

Kosher salt

Put the chickpeas, chickpea liquid, garlic, tahini, lemon juice, paprika, barbecue sauce, hot sauce, vinegar and 11/2 teaspoons salt in a food processor. Puree until smooth and creamy.