Sunday, April 19, 2015


Driveways Cover pb front sized

Shopping on Driveways is here!

I decided a while back to turn my “Shopping on Driveways” program into a book, and this has been such a fun project! It’s all my best advice for garaging, and I’m the first to admit I LOVE to give advice!

Furthermore, it’s good advice!

The ebook is only $2.99; you’ll find it over on Amazon here. Paperback is available as well for $12.95. (Sorry it can’t be less; it’s the production costs. I literally make 62 cents if you buy the paperback. Of course you and I both know what I can do with 62 cents…)

Here’s what it’s about:

Shop ‘til you drop…and spend pennies on the dollar! Yard sales, tag sales, estate sales, rummage sales have amazing deals on all kinds of treasure. You can

  • furnish and decorate your home
  • clothe yourself and your family
  • entertain the kids
  • spiff up your yard
  • find gifts for everyone on your list
  • collect materials for crafting and upcycling
  • buy items to resell at a profit.

The Queen of Fifty Cents will show you how to find great sales, how to bargain like a champ and leave everyone smiling, even how to hold your own sale (the best ever). Great advice from an expert thrifter!

Even if you don’t have a Kindle ereader you can still access the ebook. Amazon has a free Kindle reading app thingie, so you can read it on other devices. I hope you’ll take a look, if for no other reason than to find out what happened to Judy and me the time we borrowed a bathroom without asking first.

That’s right - there are stories you haven’t heard before!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Staying Practical

Went out all by myself Friday (Judy being on a road trip with her hubs) and found it a very conversational day. One sale was being run by half a dozen senior citizens (even more senior than me!), and when I entered the garage one of the ladies said, “When you’re done here there’s more stuff in the house.”

“What if I want to go in the house first?” I asked. Ever the rebel, that’s me. She laughed and allowed as how that would probably be okay. Inside were two little dogs, a poodle and an ancient papillon sleeping in a basket. As I looked around, the poodle went from room to room in the nearly empty house making little noises rather like a bird. His owner came in and we ended up talked for twenty minutes or so, along with one of her friends. I picked up the little poodle while we talked, guaranteeing I’d be there a while. He was a bit confused about all the upheaval in his life. She’s just moved to a cottage at one of the local senior centers. The papillon is taking it all in stride, being 17 and not much caring where she sleeps. The friend, noting the tenor of the conversation, went out to her car and brought back a picture of her cocker spaniel for me to see. It was a nice change from someone flipping open their phone and handing it to you so you can admire a picture that’s so tiny you barely know what you’re looking at.

Sorry, that sounded snarky. Of COURSE you can hand me your phone so I can look at your pictures!

At another sale it was me opening an electronic device, but it was my Kindle and I was showing off something I’ll be telling YOU about in a few days. Promise! Had a great conversation with the lady there (hi, Karen!) who turned out to be an artist. Who – yes - took out her phone to show me some pictures, which though small showed me how talented she is. I’m hoping to see some of her work life size one of these days!

At still another sale, two guys were conversing in one of the back bedrooms. I stuck my head in the door and one of them said to come on in. “Is the conversation interesting?” I asked, ever hopeful. “We’re just hiding back here,” one of them told me. “If they see us, they’ll put us to work.”

On Saturday I had the company of Robin, friend and recent retiree from the library. She and her hubs just got back from what was supposed to be a cross-country journey with their camper. But they got short-circuited by illness; both of them caught that flu crud that’s going around that makes you cough and cough and cough. Poor babies. At least they’re just about well now. And I figured that a morning going to a few sales would make anyone feel better.

On my way to pick her up, I stopped at a sale down the hill from my house. Oh my. Frankly, the word “squalor” is what comes to mind. The folks were mostly moved out of this little old house, but there were smells in there…Okay, I’m going to stop. It was icky. I was glad Robin didn’t get exposed to the place!

I ended up spending a big old five bucks over the two days, and did a pretty good job of staying practical. (No projects, no decor…) I was thrilled to find this wok, since my SIL mentioned the other day that they want one.


Looks brand new. Was priced at two bucks, but when I said tentatively to the seller, “I don’t suppose you’d take one?” he immediately said yes. So a one dollar wok. Wow. (Robin found several glasses that match the ones she already owns there, and a cool small ottoman that opens up for storage and will allow her to get rid of the too-big one in their living room.)

From the garage of the lady with the poodle and the papillon, I scored ever-practical shoe polish in navy and red brown. Perfect for the shoes I bought on a driveway last summer in navy and brown!

shoe polish

The sale where the two guys were hiding out yielded a nice little frying pan.


good brand

I had decided just a few days earlier I needed a little nonstick one, since my eggs scrambled with cottage cheese are hard to clean off our iron ones (well-seasoned though they are). And there was just what I wanted. Thank you, yard sale gods.

And remember those vintage canisters I got a few weeks ago? Love ‘em, but what they really needed was a scoop in each one. When I was growing up we had an old set of tin measuring cups in the canisters – one cup in the flour, half cup in the sugar etc. – and it just didn’t seem right not to have measuring cup scoops. And I found the perfect ones in a free box!

Free scoops

I even ended up with a couple of things from the icky house. This vintage tablecloth was out in the garage (which was a tad less icky); when I asked the price they said I’d have to go ask the ladies in the house.


tablecloth corner

Both the ladies in the house were smoking, which I’m really allergic to. But for a vintage tablecloth I braved it for a few minutes, especially since the price was fifty cents. My other find was a bunch of old buttons in a plastic tray, some of which are kind of fun.

rhinestone buttonsvintage buttons

I was chagrined to discover a razor blade hiding in the bottom of the tray under all the buttons. Thank you yard sale gods for not letting me slice myself up!

After I tossed the razor and took a few deep breaths I went back to my buttons. Anyone know where these with the crossed swords and - is it a thistle? a beet?? - might be from? (Some special regiment from Idaho of sugar beet farmers?) Some are in good shape, some are, well, fuzzy.

is that a beetfuzzy button

These are my faves. Not just the buttons

old buttons

button cards

but also the cards they’re on. The graphics, the fonts. Don’t you love it that someone got paid the big bucks for capitalizing the word NAME?

great NAME

Our last stop on Saturday was a moving sale; the folks are retiring to Prescott, Arizona where the dryer air and lower pressure (being at a higher elevation) will be good for the lady’s arthritis. I spotted a skein of yarn in a box with some doll making supplies and asked how much.

      soft yarn

She said the yarn alone was a dollar, but I could have the whole box of everything for two dollars. I declined the whole box deal; I can justify a soft skein of yarn that will make a lovely cowl, but I’m not getting into doll making. She had purchased the yarn to make hair for a doll she never made. I think she felt a little guilty at charging me so much for just the yarn, for she included the doll making booklet with the deal. I didn’t have the heart to say no, and I’m kind of glad I took it because it’s a doozy. Shows you how to make these creatures


should you be so inclined. Now I know some of you may think they are adorable, fine, enjoy…but not me so much! And the information about the designer just cracked me up.

doll booklet's buy this guy a house

The whole “preemie” thing, I don’t know…

weird doll people

Wonder what the guy in this picture was thinking?

you must be kiddingyeah, right

Do you suppose he included this picture in his acting portfolio? It turns out that these handmade “Little People Pals” were the prototypes for those Cabbage Patch dolls that made this guy rich, rich, rich. Hmmm, maybe he could adopt me?

Monday, April 6, 2015

No, no, no. Yes, yes,YES!

No projects, no decor. That’s our current mantra at sales. So you probably already have a very good idea what I brought home this weekend.

Of course. Decor. And a project.

Judy and I hit an estate sale first thing Friday morning, run by the nice guys I’ve mentioned before. The house was in what is probably my second-favorite neighborhood in Salem (my own Candalaria neighborhood being first) where there are many midcentury houses for us to exclaim over. Our destination house had several cool original features, including a Dishmaster kitchen faucet.

Instinct drew me instantly to the back bedroom where vintage linens were piled under a sign that said “Make an offer.” Which is what I like about these guys sales – they’re way more relaxed about pricing than most of the other local companies.

What was interesting was that there was practically a line of ladies wanting to look at linens. We all agreed it’s a dangerous vice because vintage linens are fairly common, and quite irresistible. Fortunately they are also practical, so I felt no remorse at selecting some embroidered towels (don’t you love the Beet Lady’s expression? A Beet Lady’s work is never done, while Teacup Ladies just dance through life.)

Beet Lady

Teacup Lady

and a heavy, never-used tea towel with a recipe for Baked Mushrooms - in Czech.

Czech towelMushroom recipe

I also grabbed a pair of what I though were hand knit mittens


but when I got them home I realized the thumb is sewn in, so they are machine made. Note to self: pay more attention to details before you spend that fifty cents.

Alas, machine made

Then I spotted a large folded linen something.

You may have picked up that I love linen fabric. Love to wear it, love to dry dishes with it. Love it on my table. Give me linen. Don’t care that it wrinkles; wrinkles are part of life (as pretty much everyone my age has found out). So here was this humungous linen tablecloth (it’s about 6 feet wide by 9 feet long)

BIG piece o' fabric

with (alas!) a major flaw.

Ink spots

Ink spots. But, I reasoned, the ink spots are all clustered in one corner, and this is great fabric. I could make something from this. And I got it for a buck. And took home another project. But I’ve already decided what I’ll be making!

Fleeing from the linens room, I spotted a small vase. Small enough to fit on the windowsill and become part of the collection of colored vases up there.

Trelleborg vaseCollection grows

Still has its old label that says “Trelleborg” which seems to have been a Swedish glass company that stopped production in 1955, so this is an old piece. I love the little bubbles.

Trelleborg label

Judy scored a round vintage metal table that I believe matches my Homecrest rocking chairs. On the way back to the car we made a pact to put in our wills that I get the table if she goes first, and she gets the chairs if I go first.

It’s good to get these things settled.

Our last stop was a house on a busy street across town; fortunately there was room for several cars to park in the driveway (and a traffic light a block away that came in handy for giving us a chance to back out onto that busy street when we left!). The very first thing I saw was this vintage cake cover.

Ransburg cake coverCake cover handle

I picked it up. No base, just the cover. Dirty. Looked like rust on the back.

Icky back of cover

It was two bucks. It was decor. I bought it. I think it was the rooster, I just love him. So yes, another piece of decor, and considering the scrubbing needed also something of a project. But my trusty can of Bar Keepers Friend and some elbow grease did the trick.

Ransburg cover cleanedTop cleaned

Turned out that wasn’t rust on the back, just dirt. I do not want to know what kind, and it’s gone now.

Icky back cleaned

This is apparently a Ransburg piece, hand painted and so made between the Thirties and the Fifties. I am sorry to know that there were canister sets that matched – just one more thing to want!

Cake cover aloft

So yes, I brought home projects and decor. I will try to be stronger in future. However, the cutest, most wonderful thing I saw this weekend I did NOT bring home. (And not because I didn’t want to.) We had Sunday dinner at my niece’s house, which has a creek behind it where numerous water birds hang out. Including Canada geese, which had been absent for the past couple of weeks…and we found out why.

Image C Kelsey Miller 2015

Babies! Most adorable things you ever saw. And Mom and Dad brought them by to show them off. We threw some seed out for them and Mom and the babies ate while Dad stood guard.            Images C Kelsey Miller 2015Now we can hardly wait for the ducks and mergansers to show up with their offspring. Isn’t spring wonderful? Flowering trees, cheerful bulbs, baby birds. And yard sales, where I will be trying very hard not to buy projects or decor!

Monday, March 30, 2015

Lucky Seven!

Not to sound negative, but this wasn’t the most exciting garaging weekend I’ve ever had. It’s hard to get too worked up over a fifty cent vegie scrub brush scrubberor a kitchen towel from a free box (even though I like them both).

free dish towel

Picked up a couple of nice wine glasses as back ups for the next time we break one (an all-too-frequent event, usually in the dishwasher and not because we got drunk on the wine).

wine glasses

These came from the sale of a guy who was seriously into wine and clowns. I believe he had worked as a clown or something. Perhaps a drunken clown, who knows. (Now there’s a creepy image!) Judy spotted a couple of probably-vintage plant stands on his driveway so we each scored one of those for a buck.

plant stand with hairpin legs

But…it WAS an exciting weekend for me, because it was my 7th blogiversary! (Sheesh, what a word. I can’t believe I used it.) Yup, seven years reporting on what I bought and who I met. Over 430,000 page views, which seems pretty good to me. After all, this is kind of a niche market! The only way I got myself to start blogging was by promising I could stop if it wasn’t fun. But it was, and is! Who know, maybe I’ve got another seven years in me. Hope you’ll still be along for the ride too!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Home Again. With Loot!

Had a great trip down to the SF Garden Show with my friend Marcia. While the show itself is smaller now than in the past there was still plenty to see, and we met all kinds of interesting people.


Since Marcia and I used to go garaging together regularly, and since I used to live in the Bay Area, naturally I wanted to take her to whatever sales we could find in my old hunting grounds. And it was the perfect excuse to drive through gorgeous neighborhoods all up the Peninsula and ooh and ahh over the houses and gardens. My own old house is looking pretty loved these days, which made me happy.

My old houseWe completely relandscaped that yard, and built the picket fence with our own hands.

The Perfect Picket FenceSo Saturday morning we started out to find some sales. At the first one I watched a guy being rude to a lady. She asked how much a pressure cooker was and he said ten bucks. She clearly wasn’t interested at that price, and he asked how much she wanted to pay. She said a dollar, and he began jeering at her. I waited a moment but then I couldn’t stand it and said to him, “You didn’t ask her how much she would pay, you asked how much she wanted to pay. I’d want to pay a dollar for it too.” To give him credit he laughed and agreed. But I still thought he was a jerk.

It was a big sale, and I found something I’ve wanted for ages. (And was very glad there was someone else to pay, since I didn’t want to give that guy any money!) At long last I have a full set of chrome Lincoln Beautyware canisters, woo hoo! They looked pretty shabby

Lincoln Beautyware beforeBeautyware lid before

but at three bucks for the set I figured I’d take a chance. And they cleaned up quite nicely. The handles were refreshed with a magic marker!

Beautyware lid after

I think they look pretty spiffy on my countertop.

Shiny now

At another sale the young woman was waiting for her friend to arrive with more stuff. While we were looking around, she answered a call from the friend and berated her for being late and why did she go out last night and have a hangover when she knew they were doing the sale the next morning. Then she hung up and repeated the entire conversation to us even though we’d just been forced to listen to the whole thing.

Another sale had a box of DVDs, and I asked the price. A dime each; definitely a price I can live with! Found three I might want in our collection, but when I went to pay they waved away my thirty cents. “Just take ‘em,” the lady told me, and I’m always happy to be given stuff. She was recently widowed and is moving to much smaller quarters. You could tell it was hard, but she was so determinedly cheerful that I’m sure she’ll make it just fine. Even without my thirty cents.

free DVDs

A while later we stopped at another sale. It was late in the morning but they still had a lot of stuff. Found another box of DVDs and asked the price. The daughter of the house (in her twenties) told me to pick out what I wanted and she would make me the best deal I’d ever seen on them. I started to laugh and told her at the last sale they had given me three new, shrink wrapped DVDs. She looked around at all the stuff still on their driveway and nodded. “Take what you want,” she said. “Believe me, no one will ever notice!”

more free DVDsWe wended our way up through Redwood City and San Carlos and Belmont and San Mateo and Burlingame, and finally stopped for a snack. After that we were just going to drive around some pretty neighborhoods, but the first corner we went around brought us to one more sale. They were starting to close up but were happy for us to look. “There’s more in the backyard,” the lady told us, and indeed there was – a clothesline still full of absolutely beautiful women’s clothing. “A dollar apiece for the clothes,” she said, and it was just too tempting. Marcia bought a few to give to friends, and I picked up some to either give to Judy if she can use them, or resell, or upcycle.

silk blend jacketCashmere & wool jacketNice buttonSilk & linenRed silk jacketCitron to upcycle

It was the perfect end to our garaging adventure. And while I’m very happy to be home, and looking forward to seeing what the driveways of Salem will have to offer this weekend, I admit that getting to go to sales again in that place was very special. Okay, I admit it – the garden show was just an excuse!

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