Saturday, August 22, 2009


My friend Stephanie came garaging with me today. It was her first foray into thrifting on driveways, and she did very well. For less than ten dollars she went home with a shirt for her husband, a brand new dress with a sequined bodice for herself, a large Indian cotton tablecloth or bedspread (started to type breadspread…perhaps because soon I have to do the next step on the bread I'm making!), Italian spoon rest and matching salt and pepper, and the cutest little sequined Hello Kitty coin purse you ever did see. Might have been more, that’s all I can remember. Pretty darned good, huh?

She made one little guy’s day—he had a lemonade stand going at his mom’s sale, and she was his first customer. Mom seemed very proud of her little entrepreneur. Across the street we met another budding tycoon. Little boy about four years old was sitting by a small table, counting and sorting some coins. His mom told us he had come to her earlier and asked for some money, so she gave him some change. Then he told her that from now on, she would have to pay for any kisses from him!

One sale had a number of handmade wooden items, and the open garage door revealed a really wonderful shop. I was most intrigued with the flooring—the entire space was covered with short lengths of hardwood.

Probably not what you would want in the house, but it looked great in the garage/workshop. We talked for a while the gentleman here, who teaches woodworking at a community college. Just about everything he had for sale was a prototype of what his students made in class. One semester they all made interesting candleholders for tealights, blocks of wood of varying heights fastened together, all with beveled edges. He said this was a popular project, and a lot of the students gave them to their girlfriends for Christmas. Some students had to hurry and make two or three—because they had more than one girlfriend! He assured us it had a money-back guarantee: “If those candles won’t light I'll give you a full refund.”

He was very proud of this ingenious piece that does triple duty: ironing board to stepladder to chair!

When we left he invited us to take one of his classes sometime. He said he has lots of women students, including recently an 82 year old. Her husband died and left a whole garage full of tools, and she wanted to learn to use them all. “I wish I had as much energy as she did, and she’s eighty two,” he said. I commented that sometimes ladies have more energy after the husband dies, which perhaps was naughty of me. He pretended to be shocked, but he was laughing when he repeated it to his wife. And she laughed too.

Met a few pets today. The first was this handsome kitty, whose name has escaped my brain.
He came right up as though he wanted petting, then swept on by, twitching his noble tail. We stood there gaping with outstretched hands. His owner said he likes to be adored for a couple of minutes at a time, then off he goes.
Little Clementine had no time to notice any of the shoppers at their sale. She was completely focused on the piece of bread someone was eating.
This beagle is named Nigel. Isn’t that perfect? I believe he was a shopper rather than a resident dog.
Speaking of prototypes (I know, that was several paragraphs ago, but you can handle it!) take a look at this amazing instrument.
The seller told us a long story about how this was made as the prototype for a new type of marimba, back in the Twenties or Thirties I think she said.
I was listening with only half an ear because I was busy tapping out a tune with the handle of a candle snuffer, there being no mallets. I really wanted this piece, but it was a firm $300, dang it. And even if I now convinced myself that I could spend that much (and figured out where I would put it!) I no longer have the slightest idea where the sale was! So I guess my bank account is safe.

It is however $11.60 smaller than yesterday, thanks to these buys:
Two CDs
Two DVDs…if you’ve never seen Tender Mercies, please do, it's quite a lovely film.
One VCR, just in case our current machine dies. They SWORE it works.
Hmmm, guess I could have dusted it before taking the picture!

Found some door prizes for children’s librarians…magnetic letters and finger puppets and a headband with doggie ears.

I don’t even know how to describe this ball.
It's fringed and squishy and jiggly, and I discovered when I got home that there’s a light inside that changes color when you throw it. Hey, it was a dime. I’m sure I'll get ten cents worth of enjoyment just squishing it!

Thought this tiny bunny should hang out with my other bunny things, at least when he’s not delivering those Easter eggs. He’s all of 2” long.

One of the dogs ate the lid of a Tupperware container this week, so I found this Rubbermaid thingie to replace it. I think Edward was the culprit, his tummy’s been a little growly.
A stoneware crock to hold fresh roasted coffee beans.
This vase tempted me because of its heaviness. No cat is going to push this off a table! However, when I got home and looked at the shelf where I keep vases, I realized it's full, and I should have passed this by. So we’ll either have to weed out a vase to make room for it, or donate it, or find another use for it.
Probably should have passed by this Noritake sugar bowl too.
Just thought it was awfully pretty. Didn’t really want the pitcher since it has a chip out of the rim, but she made me take it. Hmmm, maybe I can put part of my button collection in them.
At least I have no guilt over this last item—a brand new Crate & Barrel spatula, the silicone kind that I use for cooking. And this is the only one in my collection with a gingerbread man embedded in it!

We’re taking a little trip up to Oregon next weekend to see friends and family, so I probably won’t have a dispatch for you until we get back. In the meantime, happy thrifting!

Sunday, August 16, 2009


Elaborate signage led me to my first yard sale on Saturday—fluorescent-bright poster board with high contrast arrows. Many signs. Looked promising. Hoped they would make enough on their sale to pay for all that poster board. When I arrived I could see that set up was still taking place, but other shoppers were there so I got out of the car. “Those were great signs,” I told one of the three ladies setting up. She seemed pleased. I told her I would stay out of their way as they worked and she cheerfully said no problem.

Guess one of her cohorts didn’t hear the no problem part, because she was quite put out when anyone asked her how much something was. In fact she got so snarky that I left. They’ll have to pay for the fluorescent poster board without my help. I was thinking only yesterday that one reason I go garaging just about every weekend is that I simply have a good time. Didn’t want her to ruin my morning…and she didn’t. After that it was mostly a hoot from beginning to end.

Soon I found another sign, not on fancy paper this time but adequate to get me to the two sales at neighboring houses. Stopped at the smaller first, where I noticed a lot of baby stuff for sale. “You must have kids,” I said to the young man minding the sale. He said he has two little boys, ages 2 and 5 weeks. I told him he’d need lots of energy for that, and he said he’d had no idea what he was getting into. So much work and so much patience. He was beaming while he said it though, and I kind of think maybe those are two lucky little boys.

Next door I spied this lovely object hanging from the garage door.

“Press the button,” the seller said. I did. It began to jiggle and make clackety noises. I admitted that was about the silliest thing I've ever seen, but did enquire about a price. Five bucks. I was surprised into laughing. (I'm usually extremely polite about whatever price someone quotes me. After all it is their stuff.) I allowed as how I would leave it for someone who could really appreciate it.

I almost missed the next sale; noticed a couple of red balloons hanging from the sign posts just in time. This sale seemed to set the tone for much of the morning: way overpriced clothing. She wanted five or six dollars for a used tee shirt. Sheesh. And as I left I saw that a large van had parked whopperjawed in front of my car, slewed half across the street. Another car had just pulled in behind me, though not too closely, and out got a couple of other Saturday morning regulars, two ladies I've decided to call Theresa and Joan. (I could just ask their names, but you know I'd forget them right away.) We waved to each other, and Joan came over to my car, glaring at the van blocking my way. “You know what I want to do?” she asked. “Someday I am going to buy a Hummer. A Hummer that’s been at war a long time. And when I see cars parked like that I'm going to go right over the top of them. Flatten them.” Ummmm, great idea, I said. I did NOT want to antagonize her. The lips were smiling, but the eyes had a certain glitter that bespoke a serious intention. “Yes,” she said, “right over the top of them. None of them are insured, so what are they gonna do? It's my goal in life.”

As she talked, a young couple got into the van and drove off, so my way was clear. I said goodbye and left. It didn’t break my heart that our paths did not cross again during the morning!

At another sale I got to talking with the couple on their lawn chairs by the garage. They were Pacific Islanders, from Samoa or perhaps Tonga. Nice, nice people. They had multiples of several items, and the lady told me they used to have lots of big parties. Birthdays, graduations, any family event. And now the last kid has graduated and she said they aren’t having any more parties. I asked her if she’s like me, whenever you have people over you make about four times as much food as you need. They both started laughing, so evidently they’re the same. “But in our tradition,” her husband told me, “when the party’s over everyone goes home with a plate of food.” “Yeah, same here,” I said. “You must be from Oklahoma too!”

It was a low dog-count morning. Only one I petted was this cute Wheaten terrier, Mackenzie. Very sweet, but could use a bit of a bath!
I enjoyed this lady. She took scraps of Hawaiian materials her sister gave and made a cover for her son’s air compressor. She liked it so well she said she also made covers for her wash and dryer.
I was browsing at another sale when the older lady of the house asked her middle aged son where he had gotten that happy face thing that was for sale. “Oh, that inflatable thing? They gave those out at church, a couple of years ago.” He paused for a moment, then went on, “Usually they deflate in no time, but that thing just won’t go down.” I made stabbing-with-a-knife motions, and he laughed. “Yeah, we might have to do that.” I said I was curious what this thing with the happy faces was (I was picturing something like a beach ball), had they already sold it? No, look under that table. What I found was almost as silly as the dancing skulls:
Yes, a three foot long inflatable plastic sledge hammer covered in happy faces. From church. I'm not sure what the religious significance might be here, but I declined to buy it. I said I was just happy with its story.

Besides, I felt like I was buying so much—just counted, and I came home with 18 items! Total spent: $8.00. I win again! Here’s what eight bucks will get you on Saturday morning:

Three thirty foot long rolls of craft paper. She had a whole carton in all different colors. These will go to a children’s librarian; I see banners in someone’s future.
I'll also be giving away these fun decorations—two flower garlands, a butterfly garland, and a little watering can of thick felt. Tres cheerful! I thought the string on the garlands was regular nylon line, but it's elastic.

A glass globe for a light fixture—or in this case for in the garden. I have a couple of others out in the flower beds; they’re like miniature gazing balls. Thought the different texture of this one would be interesting.
Spiffy lusterware cup and saucer. The bird tempted me to buy it.
Cute ceramic bunny pin.
A little Mary Engelbreit birthday box. I'm sure I'll need to give someone a small gift sometime.

Hmmm, the bunny pin just fits.
Four CDs. One is for Marcia, the Spike Jones is for my hubs, and I'm looking forward to listening to the others in the car.
These adorable mini pumpkin candles are still in their fancy box, with the fancy Williams Sonoma tag on them.

Don’t know what this ribbon will be used for, but I'll think of something. Sometime.
And from the same sale, I picked up a 40” length of foofy edging.
The lady said she used to be an upholsterer (she had lots of fabric remnants for sale) and I'm sorry I didn’t ask what project this was used on. However, I already know what I’m going to use it for. The next time we give our Christmas open house, Lizzie and Edward will be ready to greet guests in their new finery!
Meanwhile, I like it on my dress form.
At one of my last stops, the lady having the sale was vacuuming something in her garage, but turned off the machine and said hello. We chatted for a bit as I looked over her items. She told me her family has gone off on a little trip this weekend. “And while they’re gone, I'm going to sell their stuff,” she said with a grin. I laughed and said they probably wouldn’t even miss what she got rid of. She said that was true, then added, “And tonight, I'm going to take myself out for a nice dinner on what their stuff brought.” She sounded very happy.

Saturday, August 8, 2009


The Craigslist ads promised much today. One announced “YARD SALE OF THE GODS!” I clicked on it, only to discover that you had to make an appointment to see the gods’ yard sale stuff. Definitely not a religion I'm interested in! There was the “Big Ass Sale” promising tools, tools, tools. And the “Yard sale/Knife sale” ad that says “We have over a hundred new knives and swords sitting on tables on our front lawn. Come check it out.” Complete with pictures of the knives, which look pretty darned evil to me. One ad is headlined MOVING SALE, FREE/OBO. Ummm, if you tell me something is free, that’s the best offer you’ll be getting from me! I like the simple enthusiasm of “Yard Sale like you wouldn’t believe!” Another offered “free hugs with purchase” which I found more than a little off-putting. But the one that gets my vote for being most to the point reads “BUY STUFF 8/8.”

Okay. We did that. Marcia came along again today and provided me with a real belly laugh. She was clearing out the back seat of her convertible so I could put something there that I had bought. Opened her trunk to put in the stuff from the back seat. Found a bag with several paperback books she had finished. So she grabbed them and took them to the lady having the sale and gave them to her to sell. I was cracking up. First time I have ever seen a random customer leave stuff to sell! Sure hope someone bought them, because as she called to us as we left, “Hey, I'm supposed to have less stuff when I finish this thing, not more!”

M also had a great doggie moment. As soon as she reached this one sale she spotted a cute little dog, which she picked up. It immediately went to town licking her face and ear, wiggling and wagging all the while. When I walked up, Marcia was giggling and the two guys who own the dog were laughing and telling her she was going to get a bath now.

Marcia must taste really good…isn’t this a satisfied look on Chisu’s face?
Didn’t get a very good pic of their other dog…
…whose name is Moomoo, “Because he looks like a cow.” But hey, he’s a Jack Russell terrier mix. How could I possibly expect him to hold still for a photo op?

Besides having awfully cute dogs, these guys get a big gold star for their signs. Large, clear, good arrows, and at every single corner where a turn was needed, they had a visible sign. It's too bad there’s no money to be made as a Garage Sale Sign Consultant, because I would be perfect for that job!

I spent $9 today for this loot:

After a couple of dud sales, we hit a really nice one where a young mom and her daughter were still arranging their wares on the drive. First thing I found was some peach colored ribbon.
I've been wanting to try making lavender wands and I'm hoping this ribbon will work, though it might be too wide. But it was only a quarter, so worth trying out. When I was taking its picture I discovered it's the kind with wired edges.

This fun lamp was an even better price…free! I was looking at the torn paper cover and thinking I could redo it, and she said just take it.
From the same sale came my big splurge of the morning (and since I only spent nine bucks in all you know I am speaking relatively)…
Isn’t this a great little vintage table? M and I were standing there gazing at it, both of us saying how much we liked it, both of us saying But I Have No Room For More Furniture. The lady told us her dad had had it forever (anyone have an idea on its age? I think it has a Twenties/Thirties look) and that he’d put something wet on it and warped the top.
So she went over to his house and took it away from him. How much, I finally asked. She didn’t know. She had said the same thing when M asked about a pitcher, and her little girl promptly chimed in, “Mom, it's three dollars.” So now, when the mom didn’t know what price to put on the table, M said, “I know who to ask.” She looked at the 8 year old, who said, “Five dollars.” So I anteed up a fiver and now I have a new project.

I picked it up to put in the car, which is when I discovered it is made of very solid wood. Sucker weighs a ton. While I was hefting it into the back seat my friend Linda showed up on her yard sale rounds. She knows what my husband always says when I bring home anything larger than the proverbial breadbox, so she said it for him: “Where are you going to put it?” So that will be my second project—first I fix (Marcia says she has some clamps I can borrow to unwarp it) and paint it, then I figure out where it goes. Wish me luck—on both parts!

Speaking of paint, I scored a couple of cans of black spray paint. I keep reading on other people’s blogs about the wonderful things they’ve done with this stuff. Now I can play too.
Bought two unopened packs of photo paper. Two hundred sheets ought to hold us for a while!
This little Halloween decoration will be a door prize for a children’s librarian. A fun thing to keep on the desk in October.

And I think these little clips are a hoot. Not sure what I'll use them for beyond having a line of tiny Greek dancers on my desk.

Though it turns out they’re pretty strong!
Hey, I understand that today is National Garage Sale Day. Hope everyone celebrated in an appropriate manner by getting up early and shopping on some driveways!
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