Saturday, June 27, 2009


My resolve to buy only things I will use right away seems to be getting stronger! I passed up any number of items at today’s yard sales, buying only 6 items. And four of them are to give away! I feel so strong.

The hardest thing to resist was all the vintage hankies. I saw wonderful examples at so many sales. At one house, the hankies had been embroidered by the lady’s grandma, and finished with fine tatted or crocheted edging. She said she has inherited so much stuff, she can't keep it all. She and her husband have ended up with a large amount of family correspondence as well, including the letters his father wrote to his mother when he was in Okinawa during WWII. I suggested they’d make a wonderful addition to family holidays and events. If they were mine, I'd sort them by date, and at Christmas or whenever I would read aloud one or two of the letters from fifty years ago.

Actually, it's just as well my spending was light. We had a humungo vet bill this week. Our sweet Lizzie went in for a little surgery, getting one of those large old-dog lumps removed. They cleaned her teeth as well, and that’s when they found a growth by her tongue. Vet thinks it's benign (though I'll breathe easier when the biopsy results are back) but getting it out required removing a tooth and some bone. She’s feeling a bit punky. (I had similar dental surgery once and she’s being a far better patient than I was!) But she’s an eager eater at mealtime so I think she’s doing well.

My friend Marcia went with me today. We got around two neighborhood sales before we pooped out and went for breakfast. Her favorite deal was a box of Agatha Christie books for five bucks. Plus she bought a book for me—thanks, Marsh! But really, the best deal of all was just meandering from sale to sale, chatting with folks. This fellow might have been the highlight of the morning:
George is eleven years old and quite a character. We both got to hold him, which Marcia especially needed, because she is currently without any kitties at her house. She needed some fur therapy. George was happy to oblige.
These cute older guys were at the first house in the first neighborhood sale.

We petted and chatted. When we finished in that tract and drove by again, the young lady looked up and gave us a big wave. She looked delighted to see us once more. This is why I like yard sales so much more than retail shopping!

Charlie the Cocker Spaniel thoroughly enjoyed the butt scratch I gave him. So much that when I stopped, he plopped himself down on my foot so that a) I couldn’t move and b) I could conveniently keep scratching!
This handsome pair are Sasha and Doc, two Swiss Mountain Dogs. Their owner was thrilled that I knew the breed, and they’re so rare around here I was thrilled to see some in person. Like the Bernese Mountain Dog, they are used in Switzerland to pull dairy carts. Over here they mainly dispense affection.

I spent all of $4 today, and brought home:

A couple of fun things for my children’s librarians…bunny ears
and a handmade armadillo. Surely someone will be doing an armadillo-themed storytime one of these days, right?

This nice box will be a prize for one of the participants in the Summer Reading Program I run for our administrative staff. They get an entry in the raffle drawing for every book read during the summer. In August we’ll have a potluck breakfast and draw for the prizes—most of which come from you know where!

I'm not sure if this item will be a reading prize, or a gift for our friends with dachshunds, or be resold. Still in their box with the $29 sticker on them.
How could I resist a set of crystal dachshund knife rests--no matter how strong I'm feeling?

Must have been a gift, for as the Queen of Fifty Cents always says, if there were no gifts there would be no garage sales!

Marcia paid for this Jasper Fforde book when she was buying others for herself. She’d been laughing over one called Born to Kvetch, so it had to go home with her.
This little frog has magnets in his feet. I just liked the way he can cling to a finger
and I think he’ll be happy with the other frogs in our house.
Okay, maybe I wasn't so strong after all, but he was a dime--and he needed a good home!

Lastly, I found this nice clock, new in its box.
I still need one out by the pool. The one I bought in early May turned out not to work, dang it. I know that yard sale goods are definitely a buyer beware situation, but shoot, if it doesn’t work, either don’t sell it or mark it as not working. I wasted two whole dollars on the other one. And you know what I can do with two whole dollars!

Anyone have a spare Roomba battery? I'm still crazy about my Roomba from last week, but the battery is pretty tired. It's not holding much of a charge, and I think that’s just age. So I'll have to bite the bullet and replace that soon. Then Noll kitty better be on his toes!

Sunday, June 21, 2009


A terrible thing happened while I was out garaging on Saturday.

I had to put the top up on my car.

Yes, my friends, it rained. Practically unheard of here in June, and certainly unwelcome on Saturday morning! Weather was fine when I started out, then it began to mist, but I took that for the normal ‘marine layer’ we see a lot of. But the mist was having such a good time it got more enthusiastic until I had to concede it was more rain than mist.

So I had to raise my roof. Dang, I hate when that happens!

This is not to say I did not score. One thing in particular still has me bouncing in excitement. I found a Roomba! Yup, one of those robot vacuum cleaners.
The box was dusty, but when I got it home and unpacked it, the thing looked like it's barely been used. The extra Virtual Wall was never even unpacked. I plugged in the charger and fed it for several hours, then tried it out. It works! It's a hoot! It sings a few notes to say hello, then starts circling and bumping and sweeping, making its way around the room. You have to clear cords and small rugs out of the way, but with bigger rugs it just rolls on and sweeps those too. The pets were agog at first.

But they quickly decided it was not dispensing food and ignored it. It's the first model that came out about seven years ago. A bit noisy, but much less than my Electrolux. It doesn’t automatically go to a docking station to recharge like the new models. But I absolutely detest vacuuming (which is obvious from the amount of pet hair you will usually find in our corners) and now I have a robot to do it for me. So I'm totally jazzed. Isn’t it funny what makes us happy?

Other than Roomba (I need a pet name for it. Any ideas?) I scored a few useful items. I found another mug to try out…
Not sure it's as large as I want, but I like the color (chocolate brown…I think I need to go make some cocoa…) and oddly enough it's a very close color match for this find:
A new pair of Crocs—and they’re Mary Janes! I know, how could I possibly need more shoes. But these will actually let me get rid of a pair of gardening clogs I've had for over 15 years. I haven’t been using them much because they’re not as comfortable as I like my shoes to be. Now I can let them go. And the Crocs are handy because when I get hot working in the yard, I like to just walk into the pool and cool off. With these I don’t even have to take them off!

And speaking of gardening, last week I bought those tee shirts to make do rags for my husband to wear on his head when he’s working in the yard. Then kept one shirt for myself. Well, we now have a lifetime supply of knit fabric to use, because I found a gray knitted jersey sheet to cut up. No picture. Just think sweatshirt gray fabric. You got it.

When I asked how much it was, the lady hollered at her daughter standing in the garage, “Hey, don’t you want to keep your top sheet?” The girl hollered back no. Lady shook her head and told me, “None of my kids will use a top sheet on their beds, just the bottom sheet and a blanket. If I put on the top sheet, they just lay on top of it." I said it's like the duvets used in Europe, they’re just being very cosmopolitan.

It was a morning for color matches. I picked up a gray waffly shirt at possibly the friendliest yard sale of the month. Their signs were terrible, almost didn’t find the sale, but the people were so filled with happiness over arranging their castoffs and talking to strangers on their driveway that I kind of wanted to hang out for a while.
My last find is for a colleague at work. She asked me months ago to keep an eye out for a denim skirt for her. Which naturally meant that all denim skirts were immediately taken off the yard sale market; haven’t seen one for ages. Then this one appeared.
It's a Calvin Klein. I think it's about her size, and I figure the wrap styling will let her adjust if needed.

My total outlay was $27.75. Pretty good for a morning that included a working robot!

Favorite comment of the day: I was chatting with three or four folks at their sale about how heavy the mist was getting, and they noticed a car slowing down to ogle their sale. Then the car turned around and came by again, which they thought was both funny and peculiar. “Why don’t they just get out and come look?” one of them said. I ventured that sometimes people are looking for something specific, like furniture. One of the ladies nodded in agreement. “Oh yes, or totem poles.”

Totem poles! If I were looking for totem poles on driveways in Southern California, I would probably assume I could see them from the car. Yup, makes perfect sense.

Saturday, June 13, 2009


I think my memory is getting better. I have a cryptic note from this morning’s garaging that looks like “pot pound” and I've been wracking my brain over what that means. No, I didn’t run across anyone selling pot by the pound out of their garage, or see any cute little children pounding on an old pot (always so much more fun than an expensive toy). After some musing I have finally realized it's supposed to be potpourri—which tells you a lot about both my memory and my handwriting. I ran across someone selling homemade potpourri this morning, which I think is a first in my saling experience. I asked her if she has lots of rosebushes and she said no, just the one. Her rosebush must bloom more prolifically than any I've ever had, or else it took her a long time to gather all those petals!

A few blocks away I stopped at a sale that didn’t have much, but the lady was so darned nice. I asked (as I often do, it's a good ice breaker) if she was having fun, and she said most sincerely that she really was. “I love doing this,” she said, “and getting to say hi to everyone.”

A condo community was having a neighborhood sale, one of those sponsored by a local realtor. Around here this means that the realtor does the advertising and puts out signs, and usually goes around giving donuts to all the participants. I suppose this generates business for them, that folks are more likely to call the realtor who gave them donuts when it comes time to sell their house. So I was in one of the little garages there this morning talking to the two ladies having the sale. A neighbor stopped in and offered them some grocery store donuts, saying that the realtor was nowhere to be seen and it didn’t look like they’d be bringing the donuts around. My goodness, our feathers got fluffed! No donuts! They were being funny about it, but they really did expect their donuts. One of them grabbed her cell phone and called the realtor! Turns out she’d started her donut deliveries in the back of the community rather than the front and would be there in a bit. That sounded better, except… “Oh no, all the good ones will be gone!” said one of my ladies. “Oooh, yeah,” said the other, “nothing but glazed!” A nearby neighbor listening in said, “Could be worse, could be Hostess donuts.” And another called from her garage, “Hey, don’t knock Hostess. I am not picky when it comes to my donuts!”

I was still chuckling over the donut indignation a few minutes later when I ran into the realtor in question. I was talking to another lady about how it's always the thing you think no one will buy that goes first. She said yeah, someone actually bought her painting that was a portrait of her dachshund. In mock horror I exclaimed, “You sold your dog’s portrait?!” (which had us both giggling) when up steps a perky blonde with a stack of Krispy Kreme boxes. She must have heard what I said but not the context (i.e. joking), because she gave me a very startled look. And then of course I kept running into her about six more times. I wanted to tell her to hurry up and get those donuts to the ladies up front before they wore themselves out fretting over them.

At another garage in that community, the husband was standing in the driveway, waving people in. “My wife’s making deals,” he kept calling. “Get in here, there’s a lot to love!” He must have been on autopilot, because even when no one was near he was still barking like a carney.

Actually his wife was making deals, and one of the deals was that petting the dog was free! This is Foxy Brown.

She is a beginning Splash Dog—that sport where the dog leaps from the end of a dock into water. Here’s a film clip, in case you’ve never seen it.

Probably the most unusual conversation I had this morning was with a woman whose husband got a melanoma—in his eye. I've never heard of this, and she said it's very rare. She described the surgery, in which they detached the eye from the muscles and packed it with radiation material for 5 days, then took that stuff out and reattached the eye. (I love the way total strangers tell me the most amazing things.) Her hubby is doing fine. I don’t know whether to be terrified that there’s one more awful thing I never knew about before, or elated at the advances in medical science. Hmmm, it's Saturday, the sun is out…I vote for elated!

I spent $10.50 today and came home with:

A new stock of magazines—fifty in all! The newsstand value would be over $200. Here’s a sample—the rest are all Martha Stewart and Real Simple.
Dachshund bookends
A cute shirt and capris
Seven CDs
Two of the CDs came from a sale that had a handsome dark red coleus by the porch, and I scored a couple of clippings for my garden. Hope they grow—coleus are usually pretty cooperative.
A set of dragons for Chinese New Year. I'll give these to a children’s librarian, won’t they be fun as part of a book display?
Eight really really cute greeting cards, each still in its protective plastic sleeve.

And two shirts. I was looking for heavy t-shirts I can cut up to make my husband new ‘do rags’ to wear when he’s gardening, and these looked like they’d work.

But then when I got home and looked at the gray one, I realized this is on the back:
What else could that Q stand for but Queen of Fifty Cents? So I'm going to remodel the neckline and start wearing it on Saturday mornings. I'll find another tee shirt for Steven’s do rag next week. I can hardly wait to look!

P.S. This has zip to do with thrifting…I've been learning to use our video editing software, and I finally succeeded in putting a film on Youtube! Here’s our cat Noll Baxter in his Youtube debut.

Monday, June 8, 2009


Just as we need to rearrange our rooms from time to time, a blog needs refreshing as well. I've been having fun today playing with mine. Susan over at Between Naps on the Porch did a piece yesterday with lots of great info about formatting your blog. So I've spent today playing with mine. One of her great pieces of advice is to create a separate test blog, so if anything goes wrong you won't lose anything on your real blog.

My new background is from Hotbliggityblog, and the banner is from The Cutest Blog on the Block. The hardest part was choosing from among all the wonderful free designs! I did some editing on the header in the program that came with my camera. And did you know you can plug a picture into Microsoft Publisher, add the text you want, lock it together, and then Save-As a picture? Worked like a dream.

Hope you like the new look. Now that I've tried this out I may be rearranging my rooms more often!

Saturday, June 6, 2009


This was just one of the best garaging days! Neighborhood sale in a very nice area. Found some fun stuff, didn’t spend too much, got some good stories, petted some fine dogs. The best!

At the bagel store, the sesame bagels (my favorite, and of course you can never have too many sesame seeds scattered about your car, right?) were still warm from the oven, so I didn’t even have it toasted. Just schmear on that cream cheese baby. I gave the lady a twenty and asked if she could spare some ones in change. “Are you going to yard sales?” she asked, looking eager. “You bet,” I said, “and there are a lot of them out there today.” She gave me all ones, and I said the first one I spent would be in her honor. Which would be for…let me think…oh yes—a vintage scale. This one is for you, Cathy G.! Hope you’re still wanting one!

Isn’t this a fabbo car?
I think he said it's a 1927 Model A. The guy who owns it was on his knees in his front yard, cleaning the blades of a ceiling fan. Another old guy walked up to see what was for sale and commented with a twinkle in his eye, “That’s a nice sight, a guy on his knees.” “Yes, and he’s cleaning something, how cool is that?” I said. We all chuckled.

I saw the same old guy across the street a few minutes later at another sale and noticed he had a couple of bags with stuff in them. I asked if he’d found some good stuff. He beamed. “Oh, yes, my favorite thing.” He opened a bag to show me—old candles, partly used. “I melt them down to make new candles,” he said. Which I have to admit I'd never thought of doing, I just use them as is. “So you have, like, candle molds and everything?” I asked him. His smile got bigger; I could tell how much he enjoys his creativity. “You know what I use for molds? Pringles cans. Pour in the wax and just peel off the can when it’s cooled.” I may have to try that sometime—if anyone ever gives me some Pringles. I've never bought a can of them in my life.

I talked to two children on those little scooter thingies, Razors. The little boy was not quite three, and just learning to ride. As soon as I walked up he called, “Watch me! Watch me!” Of course I obliged, and off he went. In a moment his mom called him to head back and he did, balancing beautifully. We commented on how he was watching where he’s going and not looking at his feet. The kid will probably be swooping around on a skateboard before much longer.

Up the street I met a young girl, about six or seven, who immediately informed me that I couldn’t buy her scooter. I noticed it had a $3 price tag on the handlebars. “Oh, it's not mine,” she said. “It's for sale but I'm not going to give it up. I'm using it to cruise, that’s my plan.” By now I was cracking up. She was so articulate and so completely self possessed. I suspect she still has that scooter.

Met several nice dogs today. This lovely lady is a Viszla named Gita. She may have the softest ears on the planet.

Handsome Thor has just had his summer haircut.

I bought some fun socks from his owner, who told me she is a member of a Funky Sock Society—a group of women who do a sock exchange every month. What fun. Maybe we need to start something like that where I work. Funky socks can really brighten your day.

Doggie haircuts seemed to be the order of the day—Sierra the Springer had just had her summer do as well.

I have to admit I was especially taken with this sweetie pie, Gwennie.

Short for Gwendolyn. Short is the operative word here. My guess is she’s a corgi mix, maybe with Sheltie, though she has a blue tongue so could be some chow back there somewhere. She was a pound puppy, so who knows. “We got her right after 9-11,” her owner told me. “We were supposed to take a trip and it got cancelled, so we said okay, time to get a dog.”

When I left I petted Gwennie once more, and this time she fell over so I could admire her tummy and give it a good rub.

As I walked into one garage, the sale of this item was being concluded. I had to get a picture.
They were talking about putting it on their patio. Interesting patio!

A couple of items I didn’t buy…I thought this box was funny.
I particularly like the phrase “Space-saving Breakthrough!”

This hand carved cane with a dog’s head handle was too spendy for me.
The daughter of the house liked it too, and I hope she took it home.

At one sale there were several embroidery kits for sale, and the lady told me she was giving them up because of her eyes. I asked if she had embroidered the little framed picture I'd seen on another table. She said no, it was done by her mother in law, and she got a little misty eyed as she told me about her. We fetched the picture and looked at it, a wonderful little nighttime snow scene exquisitely embroidered on black satin.
Apologies that my photo isn’t better. I should have taken the time for a macro photo. The snow on the trees is composed entirely of tiny French knots, probably done with a single thread. The stars are single stitches. I was tempted to buy it. But the lady having the sale said she was a little sorry she’d put it out. Someone else conversing with us suggested having it made into a pillow top. I looked more closely at the framing. The mat was a piece of green paper, probably construction paper. I said that if she reframed it with a real mat and another frame it would be a wonderful thing to hang. She laughed and said her MIL had been a teacher, so it probably was a piece of construction paper. The embroidery dates from the Thirties, when her husband’s parents lived in the California Sierras, where he was a forest ranger. Once a month they would drive down the mountain and go to Fresno for supplies. She told me, “She had to drive herself to Fresno when my husband was born. Her sister was supposed to take her, but she panicked and couldn’t drive. The road’s still there. It's the worst almost-two-lane road I've ever been on in my life.” By the time we finished talking, the little snowy night picture was taken back into the house. I'm awfully glad she’s keeping it.

I spent $11.75 this morning. Found a nearly full roll of quilt batting for a project I've got in mind, but you don’t need a picture of that! White, fluffy, rolled up, in plastic bag. I'm sure your imagination can also picture a three inch high stack of index cards in several colors, which my husband likes for taking phone messages. You already know about the scale. These are my Funky Sock Society socks.
This little art project was only a quarter, akin to a paint by number, and I loved doing those as a child.
I was charged with finding a shirt or two for my husband to wear when he works in the yard. So I picked up this one—and it may be too good for yard work! He’s a redhead so green looks really good on him.
My supply of dish towels is pretty good these days, but I'm a sucker for stuff with wheat. 100% cotton, from France, even has a signature.

At the same sale I found these wind chimes. I actually bought them for the dangly part, not the chimes. I have some very nice chimes, but the windcatcher is long gone, so I'm hoping this will work.

I found some puppets to give to my children’s librarians—a set of community helpers, and a Wild Thing…

…and a book of flying dinos to keep some kids occupied after school someday…

…and big stack of wonderful handmade bookmarks.

This black pot will hold cooking utensils. I like the contrast with our colorful spatulas.

And a score for the yard—four brand new candle lanterns. Aren’t the little round ones adorable? Like old fashioned alarm clocks.
The best score of the week actually came several days ago. A house down the street has gone up for sale, and one day several pots were put out front with a free sign. So we strolled down to take a look, and brought these babies home. I added the geraniums!
A couple of days later we were leaving to go to a movie, and sitting out front with another free sign was this beauty. I love its weathered wood.

Let’s take it, we said, and picked it up to carry it home. Which is when we discovered that not only are the arms made of cast iron, so are all those slats in the back. The darned thing weighs a ton. But we huffed and puffed it down the street to our house, where it looks quite nice on the patio in the corner. We’ve been sitting on it every evening, and enjoying our view.

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