Monday, June 2, 2008


We’re back from our jaunt to Oregon, where we plan to live after I retire in a few years. Yes, I went garaging! It's been a long, long time since I did any garaging in a small town, and it made me realize how smug I had become about it. I suppose that with anything plentiful you begin to take it for granted, to feel entitled to it, and you forget that there are others who don’t have the same access to it. Gasoline. Food. Water. Jobs.

Garage sales.

I found three sales in the southern Oregon town where we spent the weekend with friends. Three. (There may have been others, but I didn’t find them, and no longer know the place well enough to drive around looking. I'm notorious for getting lost.) I've never counted the number of sales I hit in a morning in Orange County, but I went to three in the first ten minutes I was out. So I am trying to remember to hold a feeling of thankfulness for the abundance I have in my life. Garage sales are as good a symbol of that abundance as anything. I have enough to eat, I have a wonderful job that pays the bills and is fun to boot, I turn on a tap and water flows. And I can go out just about any Saturday in the year and find stuff I love on people’s driveways.

The first of the Oregon sales didn’t have anything I wanted, and the lady having it was grumpy to boot. At the second sale I picked up a CD of French horn music, and a DVD of the first season of My Name is Earl. Jason Lee is a stitch, and our friends had not seen the show, so we watched a couple of episodes. They were hooked. We left the DVD with them, telling them to watch it all and then send it on down to us. However, it's going to be making a detour to Alaska first so their son can watch too. That’s a lot of laughs out of a two buck purchase!

At the last sale they were still setting up when I arrived. People were lined up at the end of the drive, waiting. You see this with estate sales sometimes, but rarely with a regular garage sale. But I was in no hurry, so I attached myself to the group. Turns out there were garage-sale factions. The group I was standing nearest was muttering about the others at the far side of the drive, telling me that ‘those people’ were absolutely ruthless and not to get in their way or they’d probably knock me down. I suppose with only three sales in town people might get desperate for deals! But when the sellers said they were ready, there was no mayhem at all; in fact it was a tad anticlimactic. I was hoping for at least some jostling, if not a fistfight or two. We all just started looking at the merchandise and making our selections
. I picked up a pair of Fiskars scissors (I keep scissors in almost every room in the house, and recently lost a pair somewhere in the yard). Passed up a baggie full of vintage thread on wooden spools, and the lady who got them was thrilled with her find. I did grab the little card with a sweet little holder for the two tiny handmade candles, and a pin with a couple of cats who remind me of our two (Noll Baxter and Mrs. Wilberforce).

Mrs. W Noll

We got home from Oregon this past Friday night, so Saturday I was out on the trail. It was a good day—not too hot, friendly people, good finds. I spent $7.75 and came home with:

A hand-knit ribbon shawl, just right for when you need a little something around your shoulders. It was twenty five cents. “I just got a divorce,” the lady said, “and this was made by my mother in law.” Nuff said.

A wonderful vintage Carole Little dress. How I wish this fit me! But it's destined for resale. There are a couple of tiny holes in the shoulders, but I think a little black thread will fix that right up.

Three very nice men’s sweaters. When I walked up there were three ladies chatting, and one of them told me that they had decided to call it a day, so if there was anything I wanted to just take it. I picked out one of the sweaters and she said, “That’s my husband’s favorite.” This struck me as a little odd. “Are you mad at him?” I asked. She laughed and said no, he was just ready to clean out his closet of stuff he wasn’t wearing any more. I told her about the trick I read somewhere: hang all your clothes hangers backwards in the closet, and when you wear an item you turn the hanger around. In a few weeks you can tell exactly what you really wear and what you can let go of. She loved it—turns out she’s an image consultant, and one of the things she does is work with clients on their wardrobes. So she said the information was a fair trade for the sweaters.

There was a neighborhood sale at another of the townhome developments, but this one was claustrophobically crowded. The first guy I talked to didn’t have anything I wanted, but we chatted about the two Boston terriers at his screen door. He’d adopted one of them only a month ago from an ad on Craigslist. Apparently the poor thing had been abused; he said it’s afraid of women, and if a woman’s voice on TV gets too loud it goes ballistic. But he seemed determined to hang in and give the pup a good forever home. I love dog rescuers.

The only thing I bought in this neighborhood was this Harley sign.

My brother in law is going to get sick of all this Harley stuff I keep finding. I offered the seller less than he was asking and said I'd give it a good home (a line that rarely fails me). He agreed, then said, “I just wish I'd find a good home for all those Barbie heads.” Okay, maybe he said dolls or clothes, but it sure sounded like heads to me!

Then I moved into the vintage part of the morning. First there was a sale where I picked up a pair of little crocheted hats. From their size I think they must have been intended for dolls, though one of the ladies running the sale said she thought they were for babies. “Babies’ heads used to be smaller,” she assured me. Well, maybe.

I was heading home when I stopped at one more sale and hit the motherlode. I wish I could have spent more time looking, but they were starting to close down, moving boxes into the garage around me as I perused. Still, I managed to come away with these vintage handmade linens (at twenty-five cents each!):

Silk-lined cross stitch mat

Heavy linen cloth with redwork

Cross stitch cloth makes a great Cuisinart cover

Hand stitched wall hanging, about 4 feet long

Small cloth with amazingly tiny cross stitch, and funky vintage cotton for the backing

A lovely old runner

The cloth is frayed, but the ends are beautiful, and I couldn’t leave it there for some ignorant person to trash. Someone gave hours of her life to create this. It deserves some love!

The embroidered nasturtiums on this piece are incredible!

A couple of fabulous jackets to sell

The flowers on the fabric appear to be hand embroidered, and catch that sleeve detail!

The borders on this jacket are mirrors!

A Noritake cup and saucer

And this great little plate from the Twenties or Thirties. English china with a design that includes two auks and some Japanese-influenced flowers.

After a morning like that, you just have to go home and feel grateful!


  1. I love the embroidered dutch people dancing! Cute!

  2. Love the redwork too!
    How do you find these great sales?

  3. I'd probably kill for the nasturtiums.

    That would cost a fortune, here, these days.

  4. Welcome home! You did get a great haul! Love the teacop, runner & redwork!

  5. Thanks for stopping by my blog! If you don't mind my asking, how did you find me?

    Your blog is awesome! It inspires me to get on my bike and see what my neighborhood has to offer me this Saturday! I go to thrift stores a lot, but garage sales always have better deals!

  6. My gosh, let me know when the redwork goes on ebay, and the nasturtiums, too!

    I live in a small town in Oregon, and the garage sales aren't great. People don't part with the good stuff, or else I'm competing with 3 second hand shops who get out early early early and buy all the furniture. I feel triumphant just to snag stuff they miss at Goodwill!

  7. The linens are scrumptious! I moved to Oklahoma last year from Florida, and I have NO competition at any yard sale, but the linens are so hard to find! Love your great junque finds!

  8. Hello..thanks for visiting me again..I've been over to read about all your amazing finds in Orange county before but I'm utterly rubbish at remembering to leave a message! I read about beagles with buttery soft ears and Edward in his hilarious headband..his face in the first picture really made me laugh..he looks so embarrassed!!I love the idea of yard sales and although I'm not familiar with all the American names..I know what I like..and I like your finds!

  9. Thanks, I loved the blazer so much I am wearing it today!

  10. The teeny-weeny cross stitch looks ethnic to me - maybe Peruvian? or on the other side of the planet, Hmong? LOL I don't really know.

    But the mirror work is very typical for Indian tribal stuff. Gorgeous!


I really love your comments. Thanks for coming along on my thrifty adventures!

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