Saturday, November 14, 2009


I admit it, the joke was on me. It wasn’t last weekend I was destined to find absolutely nada at the myriad of sales I went to—it was today! Yup, not a thing, in spite of a couple of neighborhoods with lots of sales. To top it off, I started on Friday with a biggish estate sale, so I had two days in which to find nothing.

The good news is, I don’t care a bit! Still had a blast, and feel wonderfully frugal since the only money spent was for a bagel and cream cheese. And I had a dollar-off coupon for that.

Yesterday’s estate sale was not as creepy as the one I went to back in May but it shared some of the same vibe. This one too had creepy broken dolls for sale, along with a number of other things that were broken and useless. I perfectly understand one man’s trash etc.—but even as frugal as I am, I still think some things are just trash!

I did have one favorite moment at Friday’s sale. I was looking through things strewn over the back yard when a crashing sound made me look at a shed attached to the house. A young couple had dropped a picture and broken the glass. I could tell from their demeanor they were not going to ‘fess up to the people running the sale. When I went in there to look around, crunching on broken glass was quite unpleasant, so before I left I found one of the sellers and told him there was broken glass all over the floor back there. His response was classic: “What about it?” I told him rather tartly that it was a safety hazard and it should be cleaned up. “Oh,” he said.

Today was a lot better. Hadn’t been at it very long when I pulled up in front of a sale, and as I got out of the car I heard, “I know you! You bought our patio furniture!” Indeed we did, our amazing ten dollar purchase of a love seat, two chairs, cushions and table that we so enjoy on the patio outside our family room. I was pleased to be able to tell her how much we have appreciated it, and that getting it at that price was a big part of the fun.

A few sales later I noticed a couple of other ladies shopping who had a Wheaten terrier with them. Turned out I've been to sales at their house at least twice and taken pictures of their dog. And down the street at another sale I petted a cute little boxer, and it was one I took a picture of about six months ago. Then again, before I left this neighborhood, I got to talking to another lady and she remembered giving me some of her fresh catnip a couple of years ago. “There’s a sprig of it on the driveway,” she said, pointing. “The neighbor cat comes over about four o’clock every day for kitty happy hour. I guess he saw us setting up this morning and figured the joint was open early.” Here she is with her cat Gracie.

I also enjoyed petting sweet Lady, a Samoyed/Husky mix.
I have a soft spot for Samoyed mixes, because we had one for many years. Casey was a Samoyed/pointer cross. She pretty much looked like a polar bear with spots.
Yes, that is me with sweet Casey—thirty-five years ago! This was our “Little Breakfast in the Big Woods” moment.

While I made no purchases this week, I did take a few pictures of things I didn’t buy. I may regret this non-purchase ever so slightly:
Chicken slippers. They were only a buck, and I was a leeeetle bit tempted—but I know that wearing something like this around the house would drive my dogs absolutely nuts.

I thought this box at the estate sale was a hoot. Don’t you love the part where it says ‘Throw dust away the modern way!” And it's delightfully scented—or it was fifty years ago.
Here are a few of the creepy dolls on offer. What kind of person thinks they can get $6 for a doll with demented eyes and no arms? Next to the dolls, this struck me as about the most macabre thing there.
I often give my tongue a bit of a brush when I'm doing my teeth. A sonic tongue cleaner with 7 agitator ribs and 2 scrapers sounds like overkill. Possibly literally. Ig.

Perhaps the thrifting gods just wanted to wean me gently from buying stuff for a bit, since I won't be able to hit any sales for the next two Saturdays. I'm kind of excited about the reason…we’re buying a house!

It's still a few years until I will retire, but we’ve been talking about trying to find a house we want to retire to now while house prices are down. We started looking a couple of years ago. We had already decided we will move back to Oregon. After some looking around we settled on the Salem area. We found an absolutely wonderful agent to work with—her agency only represents buyers, so there’s no conflict of interest like when they are also trying to sell property. (Seriously, if anyone needs an agent in that area let me know. This woman is fabulous.) We looked at a bunch of houses more than a year and a half ago, then something came up and we put the whole project on hold. But there was one house we had really liked, and we kept talking about it regretfully. Imagine my amazement when I found out it was still on the market! There have been some ups and downs to the saga (including the present owners accepting another offer the day before we arrived to look at the place again!) but evidently this house is supposed to be ours. We’re scheduled to sign the closing papers on the 23rd.

I'm determined to spend a few nights there before we have to find tenants to rent it, so I'm heading up to Oregon next week. I'll be on the road the next two Saturdays, so no garaging. But I'll have more pictures of the house when I get back. Meanwhile, here are a few shots of our 1957 Midcentury Modern beauty:

Doesn’t look very big, does it? Looks are deceiving! It's built on a hill as you can see from the back view...
…and it's twice the size of our present house. And—it has a tennis court!
Even weirder than the fact of it still being on the market is that the folks we are buying it from are also librarians. What are the odds of that?

So I'm pretty excited. Keep your fingers crossed that we will find excellent renters!

Saturday, November 7, 2009


Those thrifting gods. They are such suckers. Seriously, all you have to do is leave your house on Saturday morning utterly convinced that this is the day you will find nothing. The only sales you’ll run across will be those crappy ones with signs that promise a huge sale (or hugh sale, as I see more and more) and then end up being two bald tires and a candle stub. So you figure oh well, doesn’t matter, I'll just run my other errands and call it a day.

The thrifting gods cannot stand this. Just to show you, they start throwing great deals at you right and left. Which you of course snap up, and then lay on the gratitude. Gosh thrifting gods, I sure was wrong this morning! You guys are the best!

They love that.

And admittedly I love the deals they threw at me this morning. As well as this little cutie.

Couldn’t get much of a picture of him because he was so intent on sniffing my shoe. I'm sure he knows all about my pets now.

The thrifting gods gave me some fun sellers too. I had to chuckle at the guy who said what a perfect day it was for their sale. He gazed up at the completely gray sky, shivering a little in the cool morning air. “Perfect,” he said. “It's not raining.” Okay, that works for me.

At another sale I noticed a bunch of trophies for sale. Not your usual guy-with-a-baseball-bat or football type trophies. These had strutting majorettes on them. And hanging on a rack nearby was a whole collection of little pleated skirts and majorette sweaters. One of the trophies was marked 1979, so these are like 30 year old outfits. Must have been stored really well; they looked new. I asked the lady having the sale if she had been the majorette, but no, it was their daughter. “Our son used to be so frustrated,” her husband told me. “He’d work all year in Little League and if they were lucky they’d come home with one trophy at the end of all that. And his sister would go to one competition and come home with seven or eight trophies.”

I think I'm on the brother’s side in this one.

Later I complimented a couple on how empty their garage was, telling them they may be the only people around besides my husband and me who can park in their garage. (Does it not seem a tad ironic that most people put boxes of stuff they don’t use in their garage, and park their multi-thousand dollar cars on the street?) They started laughing, and told me they have not yet moved into this house, and that’s the only reason the garage was so clear.

So what did the thrifting gods deliver unto me today? I paid up $11.85 in tribute to them, and in return I received:

Two vintage Coach bags. These will probably be resold.
Something I've been wanting for a long time, a bird bath.
I don’t much care for the concrete type, and this looks like it might be interesting. If I can get it out of the packaging. I opened one end to take a look and it's so well wrapped up I just decided to take it on faith.

In a practical vein, I picked up all these light bulbs for two bucks.
From the same sale, this possibly less practical but completely delightful vintage tea towel. Needs an oxy soak, but I had to give it a good home. It's made of that wonderful, absolutely smooth vintage cotton that feels so good to the hand.

I'm getting an awfully good collection of candle lanterns and if this one—complete with large unused pillar candle—had been more than a nickel I might have passed it up. At that price, it's mine.
From the same five-cent box came this silver server. Don’t think I've ever seen one this shape.

It was terribly tarnished (don’t know if that shows up in the picture) but five minutes with the silver polish shined it up nicely.
The guy I bought it from looked at it and wondered if it was a cake server or a pie server. Then his eyes lit up. “I know,” he said, “lasagna! Or brownies! Yeah, brownies.” By then I was so hungry I had to leave.

I've got to go through our collection of rugs and weed out a few, so I can justify bringing this home.

Wool, hand hooked, one buck. Mine. Thank you, oh thrifting gods.

My stash of interesting soaps has dwindled, so I was pleased with this find.

Nice Van Gogh notecards.
Word game, which will go live in a library. Should be fun for the after school crowd.
These last two finds came from the same sale, which seemed to be an estate sale. There were two things this person evidently loved—the color purple, and Dalmatians. There were purple dishes, candles, bedding, plates with violets on them, I can't remember what all. If you could manufacture it in purple, it was here. And there were Dalmatian books, and figurines, and salt and pepper shakers, and costumes and on and on. The only thing I didn’t see was a purple dalmation. And my two purchases fell into neither category. The first was this vintage afghan.
Okay, I admit there is some purple in it. Feels like wool, and I'm sure it will be warm because it weighs a ton. I weighed it when I got home; it's nearly six pounds. Which may not sound like a lot, but you try lugging around a floppy six pound weight while you’re shopping on a driveway. But I love the colors, the design. And as soon as I laid it on the bed to take a picture I discovered it is a kitty magnet.
My other find was a framed picture.

Cattails are something I just like. Thought this was a nice picture, with cool wood used in the frame.
When I got to the car with it I noticed this on the back.
So it's not just a picture, it's an etching! I think I'll hang it up near the scherenschnitte piece I got a few weeks ago and let them feel special together. And I was thinking it would be fun to design something to put on the back of yard sale finds…“We hereby certify that this authentic Yard Sale Find is warranted to be used and free of packaging.”

Let me leave you with my favorite overheard conversation this morning:
Husband: “Have you seen my sunglasses?”
Wife: “No. Um, I sold a pair for fifty cents a few minutes ago. Hope they weren’t yours.”

Friday, November 6, 2009


To be strictly correct, there wasn’t really any wheeling involved in what I've been doing, but where I come from that’s always the way you say it. Wheelin’ and dealin’. To say you’re dealing has a different connotation entirely.

Don’t you just love the English language?

In any case, I just finished a little high-finance over on Amazon.

Needed some more rechargeable batteries, found some there that sounded like what I wanted. Granted, I can buy regular batteries very inexpensively at the 99 Cent Store, but I hate throwing them away all the time. (They don’t last very long in my Wii remote.) The rechargeables are a better deal all around. So I put my chosen batteries into my Amazon cart, and I was $7 away from free shipping.

Now, this free shipping thing is probably a gold mine for them. I suspect that most of us start shopping immediately for another item or two so we can get that free shipping. I admit it, I sat here at my computer trying to think of something else I needed. Or really, really wanted. Because you know me—it has to be something pretty vital for me not to wait to find it on someone’s driveway.

The interesting thing was, I couldn’t think of anything! Of course there are books I'd like to have, but I'm a librarian for heaven’s sake. I have over 2 million books at my disposal any day of the week, for free. Thought about that 10” springform pan I've been looking for, but they were way more than $7 and it's the kind of thing I like to handle before I buy. All bakeware is not created equal. I'll just keep checking at TJ Maxx until the springform of my dreams appears. It had to be something I'd really enjoy that cost as close to seven bucks as possible.

Finally had a brainstorm, and started looking at magazines. Yup, lots available to subscribe to, and they count toward your free shipping. Of course many are pretty pricey too, but I had recently checked out an issue of This Old House and quite enjoyed it. The price was $12 for a year—but they’ve got this special deal going and there was a $5 discount. Bingo!

So, if I had bought just my batteries and paid for the shipping, the total would have been $22.04. The batteries plus the subscription with free shipping and minus the discount came to $23.75. So as far as I'm concerned, my subscription cost only $1.71.

Wheelin’ and dealin’.
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