Saturday, August 18, 2018


We often joke about "the item of the day" when we're out garaging - something we see for sale everywhere through a morning. This week we kept finding odds and ends of greeting cards with envelopes in baggies. Guess I'm not the only one who mostly sends ecards now. Or probably most people send greetings via Facebook, which I don't use. Anyway, even old ladies (like me!) are now getting rid of their birthday and thank-you cards. (I still keep an appropriate stash for sympathy cards, though. Call me old fashioned, but there are some things you just should not get in your email and a sympathy card is one of them.)

But occasionally we find something that none of us has ever seen on a driveway before. Something like...

...a cute harness so you can take your pet rat for a walk!

So I'm wondering: will we ever see another? Or will we start seeing them all the time, like they've always been around and we just didn't notice?

What's the most unusual thing you've ever spotted for sale?

Monday, July 23, 2018

If the Shoe Fits…

The last instruction I gave myself as I dressed on Friday morning was, “Remember, you do NOT need any more shoes. You have plenty.” I purposefully wore shoes that tie, since they are harder to take off to try on some bargain on a driveway. (And also because we were going to the annual Salem Art Fair after garaging, so I’d be walking quite a bit.)

I am sure it is no surprise that at the very first sale, just down the street from my house, I found some shoes.

They weren’t my only find of the day. There were also bunnies. Practical bunnies – a soap dispenser bunny and a vintage Debbie Dean bunny mug.

 At the same sale I was smitten by these adorable salt & pepper shakers. 

Don’t know why, but for only a buck I had to have them. Maybe it's their small size, not quite as tall as the bunny mug. Anyway, it was love at first sight. I have no regrets.

Another sale yielded a fifty cent piece of heavy cotton fabric in a large scale paisley. About 2 yards long by 2 feet wide.  Good for something, one of these days. 

And another fifty cents bought this hand painted House of Hatten “December Sky Spirit” ornament, ostensibly from Pueblo mythology. I can always use a benign spirit about the house.

But the shoes…yes, they were the big splurge. Sort of. Because I found not just one pair, or two, or…okay, I bought FIVE pairs of shoes!

Two pairs of Danskos, one still in the box, both look like they were worn maybe once. They retail for around $125 a pair. And two pairs of Keens, same excellent condition, same original price range. And a pair of short boots, which were probably originally around a hundred bucks. So about $600 worth of quality footwear, all in my size.

For a total of five bucks. That’s right, they were a dollar a pair.

Admit it. You would have bought them all too!

Monday, July 2, 2018

The Thing with Feathers

I've been thinking about hope, and all kinds of things that are inherently hopeful. Like planting things, especially seeds but really anything you stick in the ground so that it can grow. Don’t you think planting a tree is one of the most hopeful things a person can do? My grandfather planted this one about 70 years ago. 

Yes, that little house is where I spent my first six years. The small window on the back is by a stairway where I would sit and watch trains go over a trestle a few blocks away.

I splurged a bit on Friday on another piece of hope. A bicycle! I think bikes definitely fall into the hopeful category. Will you really take those rides that you are imagining?

I haven’t owned a bike for several years but recently decided I should get one again. Bikes were such a symbol of freedom when we were growing up. We would jump on our bikes and be gone for hours, and no one fretted as long as we were home by dinnertime. When I test-drove this one I was a little wobbly at first, but riding a bike is truly one of those skills you learn for a lifetime.

I love this one. It's definitely an old lady bike! It's designed so that you can put your feet on the ground when you stop, and the seat is way more comfy than the hard leather one on my old ten speed. 

And it has a wicker basket – perfect. I can hardly wait to ride it to the library, but I have to get a lock first. Something we didn’t worry about as kids!

Of course thrifting itself is an act of hope. We happened upon a large neighborhood sale on Friday and had a blast roaming the streets and finding bargains. Besides the bike, I came home with a pair of Ecco shoes for a dollar (that brand seems to retail around $150) 

and a cute pair of socks to go with them. 

Fifty cents purchased a never-been-opened switchplate cover. 

The seller told me she had bought it when her grandson was born, and he’s now ten years old, so she figures this is never going to be put up in his room! Now it's finally fulfilling its destiny in my kitchen.

I was really surprised to find this beaded dragonfly coin purse for fifty cents. It's just like one I found last August and made into a necklace.

The most exciting thing I found was actually free. I can't believe some dealer didn’t spot it. A Sixties Lightolier chandelier designed by Gaetano Sciolari. 

The lady told me when they took it down (why?? It’s gorgeous!!) the wire got cut a bit short, but hey, wire can be spliced or replaced. From the layer of dirt on the light bulbs I'd say this has been sitting around in a garage for years getting in the way…waiting for me!

There are a few of these for sale on antiques sites and Etsy, with prices ranging from $1420 to $1850.  Zowie! I can hardly wait to get it installed, 

replacing this puppy, which I'm sure any number of people would like…but I don’t.

This is probably the best free thing I've ever picked up at a sale. I hope the sales you find are just as good to you!

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

The Future is Now

I bought a dining table at the Goodwill Bins today.

For a dollar.

I always think when I get a particularly good deal that this one might just be the all-time most amazing score. And then another comes along and tops it. But a decent dining table for a dollar – has to be a record at least in the furniture department.

Have you been to a Goodwill ‘outlet’ – AKA The Bins? It's the last stop for all the leftovers from all the local Goodwill stores, giving them one last chance to avoid the landfill or being baled and shipped overseas or whatever they do with the mountains of stuff that no one wants. There is always good stuff that has drifted downstream unnoticed, until someone plucks it out of a bin. you pay by the pound for most things, so if your finds are lightweight you can really make out.

Fortunately the furniture does not go by weight. It gets a few days at five bucks, and then is marked down to a dollar. My table isn’t fancy 

and getting it home was a bit of an adventure; convertible with the top down to the rescue. 

Probably someday I'll find a better one, but till then this will do just fine.

And it wasn’t even the best deal of the day. I found two sweaters of the same brand in the same bin. Eskandar, made in Scotland 

and sold in places like Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman. 

My guess is this pair of sweaters was donated by someone who received them as a gift from a wealthy granny and never wore them. The crew at the Goodwill didn’t recognize the brand name and so they got sent straight to the bins; this is not the time of year that sweaters are in much demand. But my rummaging hands know good fibers when I feel them. One sweater is the softest merino imaginable, the other is cashmere. I looked up the brand when I got home. Similar merino sweaters are about $1500, and cashmeres are over $2000. My price was about $3-4 each.

I wish that rich granny would give up buying unappreciated sweaters and simply adopt me. 

Meanwhile, I will certainly appreciate the sweaters!

Last week we saw something that was a first for me.

A 3-D printer, available at a garage sale. 

I wonder if they’ve been showing up on driveways for a while now, or if I might have spotted the very first one in the world.

No way to know. But a thrifter can dream!

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

A Quickie!

I was on a mission last Friday to stay with practical stuff that I actually need. Which was fairly (if not 100%) successful. Found a broom at the first estate sale Judy & I went to, what could be more practical than that?

The most practical item: needed a new trash can for under the sink. Found the perfect one, and then used it the rest of the morning to corral my other finds. Made me think I should always go garaging with an empty trash can in the car!

Reddest item: A toss-up between the brand new silicone spatula and the set of measuring cups. I’m giving the cups away to someone else, so let’s go with the spatula.

Coziest item: two skeins of Icelandic wool for a buck. But I don’t see yarn, I see a warm pair of felted slippers (one of these days).

Most vintage item: As we were leaving a really junky looking sale I noticed what I thought might be one of those old bed lamps, which you hooked over the headboard of your bed so you can read comfortably and turn it off easily when you get sleepy. (That’s how we all fall asleep, yes?) It turned out to be a vintage bathroom light 

complete with a dismayed-looking face for a plug. 

The price was fifty cents, how could I not take a chance on it? I put a query on the local Next Door site asking if anyone knew where I could get it rewired, and almost immediately got a reply saying her husband is a retired electrician who would be glad to do that for me. So I schlepped it a few blocks over to their house. Gary took one look and said the wiring is just fine, but come out to the shop and he would burnish off all the rust and gunk on the base and end caps. Which he did, it’s ready for a new coat of spray paint. Wouldn’t take a penny, and ended up showing me several of his other projects. Besides being an electrician he does plumbing, carpentry, you name it. He restores cars and motorcycles. He makes beautiful walking canes that he gives to anyone who needs one. He buys pieces of antique rifles and painstakingly fits them into new pieces. I finally asked him if he ever eats or sleeps; he laughed and said he has a lot of nervous energy. I could only think of Michelangelo; I bet he had a lot of nervous energy too.

Best bang for the buck: Picked up a new Rubbermaid utensil tray to help organize my pantry, like this one. My price: a quarter. Amazon’s price: over $16. Good grief.

Happiest piece of scrap fabric: The sale with the waste basket was at a quilter’s house, and there were free scraps. This is my favorite.

Funniest item that is also blue: at the junky looking sale, another shopper pointed to an item and asked what it was. “It’s a cat carrier,” was the answer. “My daughter just had to have it.” She sounded good-natured but I believe I detected an eye roll. I glanced over at the item in question, and when the other shopper didn’t take it I strolled over and picked it up. When I asked how much, the lady said make an offer. I shrugged (don’t really need another pet carrier) and said I could do a dollar. “Sold,” she said. So for one dollar I brought home a new carrier for Millie. She is going to be an astronaut the next time she has to go to the vet.

Isn’t it a hoot? They retail for about $70. Seems well made. And Millie will have a swell view from inside.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Still Here!

In case you had noticed my absence from posting for the past couple of weeks, I just wanted to reassure everyone that I have not been kidnapped by a roving band of teenage wildebeests (so common an occurrence in suburban Oregon). I'm in the middle of a big project (more on that when I can) and staying focused on that is the priority.

Not that we've had much in the way of sales lately anyway! KK and Judy and I did have a fun Friday morning making the rounds, during which I managed to spend one whole dollar on a pair of earrings. And the week before was similar. It seems a little ironic that we manage to score great finds all through the winter, and then once the weather warms up...nada.

But sometimes you just have to kiss a lot of frogs to find a prince, and we'll keep frog-kissin' until those princely finds return!

Sunday, April 29, 2018


Driving towards downtown on Wednesday morning, I spied it – right in front of the Episcopalian Church.

A sign. One I'd see before.

“Rummage Sale, Thursday Friday Saturday 9 a.m.”

I drove around the block and pulled the car over. Took my phone out. Texted.

“KK. Episcopalians are rummaging tomorrow @ 9!”

She texted back. “Bummer! Have to go to Eugene.” About 10 minutes later she texted again. “I’ll go to Eugene after!”

We’ve both made good finds among the Episcopalians’ cast-offs before. Mine included some $2 cashmere sweaters  that retailed for over $600 at the swanky San Francisco shop that originally sold them. Once something like that happens, Pavlov’s drooling dogs have nothing on you. It's a completely autonomic response. You MUST go to that sale.

And possibly drool.

This year’s finds were more practical than drool-worthy, but practical makes me very happy. A set of all-cotton sheets for the queen-size bed for three bucks? Yes please. (Macy’s house brand, online  price tag near $150.) Two pairs of pricey-brands crop pants for summer? Check. And for a little icing on the practical cake, a long (40” or so) strand of blue glass beads for another two bucks - embellishments for future textile pieces.

On Friday, KK and I took what I call a mini-vacation, which is any trip to an unfamiliar place, even if it’s just one street away from my usual route. She needed to deliver one of her paintings that was accepted into an art show in Corvallis, and there was an estate sale that looked like it might be good in nearby Albany. So I mapped out our trail down there instead of our usual stomping grounds.

I'm happy to report that for once the pictures did not lie, it was a good sale. (I define a good sale as one where the items belonged to someone whose taste matched mine. When that includes adorable vintage wooden toy thingies, bingo!) When we arrived I headed straight for the fireplace in the living room, where the pictures had indicated something I don’t see often.


No, not people hunched over in the rain the statutory 10 feet from a building entrance. Or the contraptions for smoking meat. I mean the German wooden figurines that you mostly see as a Christmas ornament. They come in all shapes and sizes, most often in the form of a man with a pipe. When you burn cone incense inside, the smoke comes out his mouth. I have a few, including Santa and a postman. My favorite in my collection has always been the aproned haus frau holding a bowl of dumplings – and the emerging smoke is the steam from the dumplings.

Sure enough, on the hearth was a lineup of three or four smokers, and unlike any I'd ever seen. I pounced, even though it was a bit of a splurge. The one with the acorns was a no-brainer.

And the elf sitting by his mushroom home? 

When I saw that the smoke comes out of the mushroom’s chimney, AND that he is sitting on a snail, into my bag he went. 

When I got home and inspected my finds, I saw that both were artist-made back in the 90s.

KK found me in the kitchen, where I scored a nice heavy kitchen knife and an Ove glove.

She was holding a little wooden object and asked if I'd seen it. Which I had not, or it would have been in my hands, not hers. I asked if she were buying it. Whew! She had picked it up for me!

Bunnies and chicks! Vintage music box. The tag said ‘as-is’ but who cares. I knew there was a music box inside because of the weight, but it wasn’t until I got it home and was cleaning off the dust that I realized how it is supposed to work. 

See that tallest bunny? ‘Tall’ being a relative term, he’s all of 2½” high. 

Well, he is the key – or at least glued to the key. You turn him to wind the music box, and then he’s supposed to revolve as the Blue Danube plays. Unfortunately he does not want to revolve on his own. But I have gotten other music boxes to play, and I have hopes for this one. I’ll tinker with it when I can take my time over it. Meanwhile, every time I look at the baby chick tucked up into the painted bed I feel myself grinning like the Cheshire Cat.

KK found my other buy as well – the Pinocchio egg cup. 

Though he may well become the Pinocchio candle holder, since I rarely eat a boiled egg. Or he can just around looking cute.

Hmmm, I just realized something. My last maxi-vacation was the trip to Chicago a couple of years ago, when I bought one and only one souvenir (a pair of vintage earrings from a thrift store). But I take a mini-vacation and look at all my souvenirs!

It's probably a good thing I don’t travel very often.

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