Monday, May 18, 2015

Resistance is Futile

I can never resist checking out a piano. I’m really not a pianist but I own one and have fun with it. And I always want to see what other pianos sound like. (I also never pass a wind chime without finding out what it sounds like, and drums aren’t safe either. I may have to revise my self-image as a quiet person.)

So I have a couple of tunes I can play, and one of them is Ashoken Farewell, the haunting fiddle tune used in the Civil War documentary of a few years ago. And I wasn’t more than six notes into it at the estate sale on Friday when I heard a man’s voice say, “Ashoken Farewell! One of my favorite tunes!” I could hardly believe my ears. About a year and a half ago, I was playing this same tune on an estate sale piano and a man came over and told me enthusiastically, “Ashoken Farewell! One of my favorite tunes!”

This being not-so-big Salem, it was of course the same guy. I’m not sure if he remembered the earlier conversation, but we had a nice chat (again) about what a great tune it is and how it sounds like it should be from the Civil War era but isn’t. (And while we were chatting, his wife was snagging all the great Pendleton shirts my hubs would have liked, dang it!) Now I’m going to expect to see him at any sale where there’s a piano. I’ll have to make sure I keep Ashoken Farewell in practice; I wouldn’t want to disappoint him with wrong notes.

Evidently I can’t resist cashmere either. There was this really beautiful black cashmere ladies’ coat at the last estate sale we went to, and I was trying to get this other lady to buy it. We both stood there petting it (cashmere cloth feels really very nice) and saying neither of us needed another coat, but finally she gave in and put it on.


And it didn’t fit her! Just a bit tight in the hips. About that time my friends Judy and Robin showed up and they petted the coat too. Try it on they said. I don’t need another black coat, I said. This one’s the perfect weight for Oregon, they said. It’s fifteen dollars, I said. Right, they said, only fifteen dollars! So I tried on the black cashmere coat and it fit perfectly and felt great. Then Judy said the clincher. “You can wear it with anything. You can wear it with jeans to go garaging.” Cashmere coatSo yes, I’ll be the lady with jeans and a cashmere coat out looking for bargains in the future. I admit I can’t wait to wear it somewhere. Which means we will undoubtedly be in for a stretch of warm weather.

This whole business of resisting temptation is so difficult, you know? The resolve not to buy projects or decor has made me put down any number of items, and the fact that I can’t remember any of them reinforces the rightness of those decisions. At another estate sale Friday I decided to buy a very nice bottle with a pouring spout and metal lid to use for maple syrup. There were several of them sitting there, priced at a dollar each. Judy pointed out a little chrome stand with two of these bottles plus matching salt and pepper shakers, priced $3. I shook my head, saying I’d never use them. So it would just be decor.

When I got home I noticed a label on my bottle and went to the computer to check it out.Alessi labelAnd five minutes later I headed back to that sale, fingers crossed that the rest of the bottles and the set would still be there. Because these bottles are designed by Ettore Sottsass for Alessi

Sottsass cruets for Alessiand they retail for over $40 each and that set is priced at over $200. Zowie. But alas, while I scored three more of the bottles (one missing its cap), the set was gone. Sure hope whoever bought it appreciates it!

When I got home again I emailed Judy a link to the set we’d passed up, saying we’d missed the boat. I think her reply truly captures our feelings. “We didn’t miss the boat…we missed a gigantic cruise ship!”

Monday, May 11, 2015

Rummaging for Irises

Oh, I had such a cool day planned for Thursday. Karen and Judy had never been to see the demonstration gardens at the local iris grower. Which are amazing.

IMG_4668 IMG_4733 

The website for the grower said the gardens are open ‘early May to early June.’ The weather forecast was sunny and a high of 70. Perfect. We decided we’d go out for a special breakfast at the restaurant that’s so good you always have to wait at least half an hour, then the garden, then lunch. A field trip!

So a few minutes before Karen picked me up, I double checked the garden website for opening time…and saw that opening day was now listed as Friday, May 8! Not open yet for our planned visit! Phooey! Now what?

A quick look at Craigslist saved the day. When we were all in the car heading for breakfast I told them I had some bad news and some good news. Groans all around when I told them about the garden not opening until the next day. (At least we found out before driving the several miles out there.) Then I said, “But the good news is…the Episcopalian rummage sale starts this morning!”

So after our yummy breakfast (mine included crème brûlée French toast) we headed for the sale, probably just as excited as we’d have been for the garden. We got there after the first frenzy of shoppers, but the gigantic room was still packed with stuff.

I headed straight for the household linens. I’m still refashioning using my duct tape dress form, and household linens can yield large amounts of fabric for great prices. In fact, that day I was wearing a shirt I recently made from a linen tablecloth. I love linen, and always look for it, and sure enough I spotted some pale pink linen right away.


A pair of pillowcases in real linen. When I checked the sign listing prices I saw that pillowcases were fifty cents per pair. So even though this pair had a couple of spots on them, they were too nice to pass up. And the spots came out in the first wash! The lovely embroidery was done by hand. I thought the flowers were in satin stitch, but when I looked at the close-up photo I realized they are actually done in buttonhole stitch.


So here’s my idea for this pair: a while back I ran across an ad for linen bath towels and I’ve wanted some ever since. But they are pretty darned pricey. I’m going to combine the two pillowcases into one larger piece; I can always return them to being pillowcases later. But for fifty cents - instead of the usual fifty bucks or so - I can try out a linen bath towel.

Next I wandered over to the tables and racks of clothing. I have to tell you, I’ve gotten spoiled by the other local churches that hand you a bag to stuff. I mentioned to one of the ladies working the sale how much the other churches like using the bag system. She thought about it for a moment, and then told me that might be okay for some churches but the clothing donated for her church’s sale was of a much higher quality. I was struggling to keep a straight face, thinking of the clothes I have stuffed into bags (100% cashmere coat! Geiger boiled wool jacket! Linen, silk, cashmere sweaters!). But you would have been proud of me; I just nodded and left her endlessly refolding shirts to keep the tables neat.

Even though I’m bravely trying not to bring home more decor, I couldn’t help a quick pass by those tables. And yes, I picked up some things I couldn’t resist. Not, I’m relieved to tell you, this cute but weird bird figurine.


We had quite a discussion about it. Dead bird? So happy he caught that worm that he fell on his back in ecstasy? The worm wrestled him to the ground??


But this little ladybug doll by Kathe Kruse (German dollmaker) did come home with me. It’s rather curious; I found nothing like it on the Web.

IMG_8576IMG_8572The face is like her Waldorf dolls, and it has a long tie as for tying around a child’s wrist, but it’s stuffed with excelsior like a vintage bear would be. Which seems a curious choice for something to give a young child, at least these days.

IMG_8574I think she’ll be part of my Funny Little People collection. Near her on the table I found a terribly cute Christmas ornament.           IMG_8583 IMG_8579I wouldn’t have spent the $10 listed on the original tag, but a quarter…yup.


And then one more piece of art jumped out at me.

IMG_8568I picked it up, put it down, then picked it up again. If it had been marked at more than a dollar I might have been able to resist…but it was only a buck.


I have no regrets, I really love this thing, the way it’s carved frame and all from a single piece of wood. It’s signed on the back but I couldn’t find anything about the carver on the Internet.


As you can imagine, looking up O.H. Hilton got me a zillion hits about hotels in Ohio. It’s amazing how many woodcarving events have been held at hotels in Ohio!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Those Darned Paparazzi!

It’s hard, you know. You bring out a new book, and the next thing you know paparazzi are snapping your picture when you least expect it. Of course they’re sneaky and you’re not even aware your picture has been taken. Until a friend emails you the link to the place on the Web where your casual Friday morning self has been posted for everyone to see.


It's what I do

Yup, that’s me, front and center. Here’s the story.

My friends Robin and Ken are also garagers, and Ken likes to study the pictures in Craigslist ads to determine if a sale is worth going to. The folks having this sale had posted only a picture of their house in their ad. (Perhaps feeling that the address was not enough? Of course it’s a gorgeous house, and more on that in a minute.) So Ken sent them a polite email suggesting they post pictures of the stuff for sale.

Meanwhile, Judy and I are at this sale (she’s standing in line to pay for something in the picture). A few minutes earlier as I was paying my quarter for a green vase, I heard one of the ladies say she was going inside for a minute to post more pictures on their Craigslist ad. I never gave it a moment’s thought, until later in the morning when Robin emailed me to say ‘take a look.’ And there I was.

Now that I think about it though, it’s more likely that this was a wildlife photographer. Stalking the wily yardsale bird to her native habitat.

So here’s the story about the house: Judy and I went to an estate sale here back in December 2013. The sale where it started snowing while we were there and we had an exciting time getting home. The snow had time to accumulate while we were inside because we both fell in love with the house and kept looking at it. Then, since their sale got snowed out, they had another estate sale a few weeks later and this time I went with my friend Toni. The house stayed on the market for quite a long time, so when I got to this week’s sale I asked if they were the new owners.

“Not us, but our friends,” they said. And went on to describe how their friends saw pictures of this house on Zillow and kept looking at them and looking at them – but they lived in Brooklyn, NY! Finally they asked a relative who lives here to check out the house, got a favorable report, and bought it without ever setting foot in it. And they love it!

Superior houseFriday wasn’t much of a muchness sale-wise, but I did augment my windowsill vase collection.


I can hardly believe it – I’ve filled up the second window!

Line o' vases

Saturday was a washout until I hit the last sale, and it was just fine. Turned out the $10 Cuisinart didn’t actually work (I’ve learned to always ask to plug things in!) but I got some very nice wind chimes, a couple of bottle brush  trees and a cute Santa ornament


and a nifty knitting bag with a book of cute dog knits and some very nice yarn. The bag will be perfect to store some of my overflowing yarn stash, at least if I can figure out where to put the bag!

knitting goodies

The big score was a brand new Dale of Norway sweater, still with its tag hanging. Ought to resell well next fall.

Norweigian sweater

If not, Noll says he’d like to have it.

Bad catOh yes, and besides all this good stuff, I learned a valuable lesson.

Be careful where you put your donut…or Judy might sit on it.

Smooshed donut

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?

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