Saturday, December 19, 2009


I most assuredly did not go garaging this morning. After all, I'm having an open house tomorrow and a lot of cooking and baking remains to be done, and the next day I’m leaving on a two week trip. So no garaging for me.

I did take just the teensiest detour on my way to the grocery store though. And my car just happened to stop at a few places where there was a variety of unwanted goods set up on driveways.

Which turned out to be a good idea. I found these three little Christmas towels which will be put to use tomorrow (note to self: go start a load of laundry),

and a nice little vintage tea cloth at the first stop.
Another stop netted the jar I need for a food gift we’re planning (note to self: make room for this in the dishwasher and get going on that batch of granola).
Then I found a DVD I know I'll want to watch again.
And at the last detour I gambled three bucks on this software.

If it works on my computer, should be fun for planning arrangements in the new house. If not…one more thrift store donation this year!

Besides buying groceries, baking, cleaning and not garaging, I've been doing my annual review of thrifting purchases. I buy things all year, bit by bit, and I find it interesting to look back and see how it added up.

Bought 29 pieces of clothing for $33.47. (And that’s counting a dozen pairs of brand new Jockey underwear as one item.) Okay, there were 12 more pieces that I didn’t keep for one reason or another that went to the thrift store, which was another $12. Still, those new-in-package undies would have been about $85 in a store, and the hemp skirt I got in September is on the maker’s website for $76. My conservative estimate is that these clothes would have cost at least $975 retail.

Favorites have been the black Italian merino wool sweater for my husband,
the underwear
and some great shoes. I lived in the dollar pair of Crocs last summer, and the sporty green suede Mary Janes have gone many miles on my feet.

I bought 13 accessories for $7.50, including 3 visors, two fanny packs (one with the pink pedometer I've managed not to lose—yet), a bunny pin, a watch and 4 pairs of earrings.
Picked up 26 items in this category for $19.84. I thought I had restrained myself from buying sweaters to felt, but still I bought seven. I’m using them up though; I've made slippers and fingerless gloves and a cushion for the cat’s basket. The black spray paint has come in handy a couple of times, including on the magazine table makeover I showed last week. The best deal of the year may be the 5 yards of Wonder Under for fifty cents—that’s most likely a lifetime supply for me!

Here’s where I tried to be strong this year, with limited success! I brought home 43 items for $50.85. But that’s a 22% drop from last year. I've especially enjoyed the Department 56 Halloween cat,
and the little silver Dansk cat (perfect for our new Midcentury house!).
And I love some of the Christmas things I found.

You can really stretch your entertainment budget if you shop on driveways! For $62 I brought home 10 books, 29 CDs, 21 DVDs, and a whole bunch of magazines. My husband plays the Miles Davis and Thelonius Monk CDs all the time. 1/30

And everyone needs their own copy of Monsters Inc!

Found 20 gift items this year for $17.50. My mother says she likes her Christmas gift (guess she couldn’t wait, she opened it as soon as it arrived!). I found a pretty fabric covered box a couple of weeks ago and put in a whole bunch of quarters, along with some Hundred Grand candy bars and a note saying this is her Yard Sale Starter Kit for 2010, and I hope she can find a hundred grand worth of great stuff for those quarters.

I think we got the most hilarity out of the crystal dachshund knife rests.
We gave them to our dachshund-owning friends when we visited last summer and we all got a big kick out of using them at breakfast.

This category seems to get bigger every year, but I stash a bunch of stuff under it. 102 items! $151.45! But I got a lot of bang for those bucks, and I estimate I would have spent about $2300 retail.
• Food: English breakfast tea, fresh picked apples, and a bag of the best lemons ever.
• Candles: $3 for about 40 candles, including some from Pottery Barn and Williams Sonoma.
• A dozen dishes, including the polka dotted bowl I use every day for my oatmeal, and the Noritake tea set (more Midcentury Modern!)
• Furniture: $34 bought a full wicker patio set with cushions, a vintage rocking chair, vintage magazine table, a table lamp I recovered with vintage linens, a vintage handmade ottoman, and a vintage brass floorlamp.

• Kitchen: $26 for 25 items, including Williams Sonoma pie weights; several dish towels, some vintage; a brand new waffle iron; and my wonderful Jadite batter bowl.
• Several vintage tablecloths and a large April Cornell cloth and napkins
• Best buy of the year was probably the orange cleaner, which works great on everything I've tried it on. When it runs out I'll actually have to buy more in a store.

I spent $38 for 62 door prizes, but hey, my children’s librarians are worth every penny! ;o) And the sweeties actually gave me a contribution this week. There was $1.95 somehow left over after our annual Holiday Luncheon, so rather than try to give everyone back about 3 cents, they gave it to me for future door prizes. Bet I can find something really good for that much money!

I put the wicker patio set in the furniture category, and other than that I spent $24.50 on 19 items. There were candle lanterns and pots and a copper birdbath (saving that for the new house). The little cowboy figure I got a couple of weeks ago will make it outside eventually, but right now he’s hanging out on the hood over the stove. Perhaps to encourage us to rustle up some grub!

Last category: ITEMS FOR RESALE
We all know the economy still sucks, so I didn’t even try to do much selling this year. I did find happy new homes for some yarn and some clothing. And I had one really exciting sale. Back in January I bought a Rolex box at an estate sale, and it sold recently for $107!

So that’s my year. My bottom line? I spent $449.37, and I estimate the retail at $7985. That’s the kind of bottom line I like!

Hope your year was just as much fun—and as lucrative!—and that we’ll meet up out on the thrifting trail in the new year. Meanwhile, I'll be missing for a couple of weeks. We’ll be camped out in our Midcentury marvel, getting it ready to rent. Have a terrific holiday season, and I'll be back next year!

Saturday, December 12, 2009


Rain. Rain, rain and more rain. The weather gods must not have realized it was Saturday morning. About the only sale I could find on Craigslist was an estate sale in ultra posh Corona del Mar. I figured the prices would be high but the ad mentioned Danish furniture—which I figured would look good in the midcentury house we’ve just bought. I was a little surprised that the rain had kept away all the other shoppers, but maybe it's also being near the holidays. In any case, I was right about the prices. I liked this table lamp a lot…

…but not this price tag!

Liked this desk too, but I can't even remember the price. When you get much over fifty cents, the numbers just won’t stay in my head.

I did have to laugh when I got to the room with the ‘art deco sewing machine’ mentioned in their ad. It was the exact same sewing machine cabinet I bought a couple of years ago. Mine housed a Singer 201 in excellent working condition, and theirs had another model, probably from the Fifties. Admittedly their cabinet was in better shape than mine, but when I compare their $375 price tag with my five bucks…I win.

However, I did buy one thing. Just couldn’t resist these wind up duckies.

Couldn’t believe it when they charged me sales tax! I'll be glad when we get through the holidays and yard sales start up again.

I did manage to refurbish one of my finds from last summer, this vintage magazine table.

Took me weeks to get the top to unwarp and stay glued, then more weeks to decide how to paint it. Then a couple more to actually do it. But I really like the way it turned out.
Used flat black spray paint which oddly enough I bought the same day as the table. Man, was it flat. I wanted a little bit of shine, so I got a can of rub-on polyurethane, which I'd heard about and wanted to try. I only did one coat (the can recommends three) but that was enough to give it the gleam I was after. Inside the lower compartment I used periwinkle blue left over from painting my bathroom a while back.
The little ball feet got the blue paint too. And since it needed door/drawer pulls, I used some of the Lucite pieces I scored back in October. I'm not sure I'll leave those permanently, but they’re fine for now.

I have to admit that my husband may have been right on this one…I really don’t know where to put it. It's beside my computer desk for now, and the cats like it there. They can hang out with me while I'm working and have someplace to sit when they have finished walking on my keyboard.

While I've got you here, just wanted to let you know I may have to take another little blogging hiatus. Our annual Christmas open house is next weekend so I suspect I won’t be garaging, and the two weekends after that are holiday weekends. I'll be away most of that time, back up in Oregon getting our house ready to rent. I hope to do my year-end round up of 2009’s thrifting somewhere in there. Meanwhile, have fun and frugal holidays!

Saturday, December 5, 2009


It felt so odd not to blog the past two Saturdays. Before I started this journey I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to keep finding things to say, but so far that has not been the case, and I'm practically suffering withdrawal pains from being gone!

But the Queen of Fifty Cents is back in the saddle. I've returned from the house-buying trip to Oregon, and spent this morning at yard sales. I feel SO much better now!

Thanks to everyone who left kind comments about our new house. We are unbelievably excited about it. My husband is still up there getting it ready to rent, and we’ll be going back up over the Christmas holiday to finish that job. Of course I'm gnashing my teeth that I can't retire this minute and get on up there, but I'll just have to bide my time. Meanwhile, we’ll be thinking and talking about how we want to decorate the place and the furniture we will need, and if I find good stuff at yard sales down here, we’ll use our garage here to store things until time to move. For some reason, when you buy a house that’s twice as big you need more furniture!

Our first night at the new house is one I'm sure we’ll never forget. We bought a nice bottle of wine several weeks ago, planning to use it to celebrate on closing day.

We planned to borrow a couple of plates and forks from my brother in law—only we forgot. We talked about going out for dinner, but we really wanted to stay in, so we microwaved our leftovers from the previous night’s restaurant dinner and passed the table knife that was our only utensil back and forth to eat with. Fortunately I had come armed with a corkscrew along with the wine, so we opened that and passed the bottle as well, since we had no glasses. We ate in the breakfast nook and reminisced about all the houses we have lived in since we married almost 38 years ago. We’ve lived in a lot of places—only got about halfway through the list! Though we did manage to get through the whole bottle of wine, which is extreme drinking for us. It was fascinating that while we both remembered a lot of the same things, we each had memories from every place that the other didn’t remember. I guess we’ll save the rest of the reminiscences for the day we move in.

I didn’t go to any garage sales while I was gone, but visited a couple of thrift stores for a few plates, cups etc. Found most of what I needed at the Goodwill store in Salem, but had more fun at the thrift store run by the Salem Friends of Felines. Half of their store is the usual thrift store, the other half has kitties! Only a few kitties were in individual cages; most were in three good sized rooms where a whole bunch of cats could hang out together. I've never seen such a mellow and friendly bunch of cats. If you need a new friend at your house, check them out. I took my dogs along on the trip, but I was definitely missing Mrs. Wilberforce and Noll Baxter, who were being tenderly cared for by our nice neighbors. It was great to be able to pet some kitties while I was there.

Today my friend Diane joined me for garaging. It's one of the four weekends a year for legal yard sales in the town I live in, so we cruised near my home, then headed up to Floral Park, a lovely older neighborhood on the north side of town. We were both very happy with our finds, and it's a beautiful neighborhood to drive around in. And mostly friendly people, though there were one or two we didn’t mind moving on from. But on both sides of town we saw prices we thought were absurd for yard sales. I think it's partly the economy and people needing the money, and partly sales being held by people who have never gone garaging and don’t know how prices generally run.

For example, this sale was mostly pieces of fabric ranging from half a yard to 4 or more yards, all neatly bundled up and priced.
The lady selling them said she sews for designers. Which sounds pretty high-end and might explain the high end prices on some of the pieces. For instance, a piece of less than two yards of upholstery weight cotton was marked $20. I couldn’t help remembering the wonderful silk I bought for about ten cents a yard, or the entire roll of Schumacher fabric for $2. But other people were buying here.

Later we heard some negotiating that reduced the price of some Pyrex refrigerator dishes from $55 to $50. I don’t have the whole set, but I have two of the pieces and paid a dime each.

At the same sale I was amused by this vintage item—a set of 4 kitchen towels and a “salad dressing bowl and spoon.” Probably a wedding gift fifty years ago.

Later we met Coco Chanel.

She is wheeled everywhere in her carriage. I addressed her as Coco and she gave me an affronted look that said I was being forward.

This handsome guy was more my kind of dog.
Peter was rescued three years ago and is just coming out of the effects of abuse he suffered earlier. How could anyone abuse such a sweetie? His owner laughingly said he’s a very good boy but not terribly smart. Another lady nearby told Peter not to listen to that, that he is just “unconcerned.” We all thought it was the perfect description.

Our other good laugh of the day came when we walked up to a sale where a lady was looking at a box of hair coloring. One of the guys sitting nearby called over, “Hey, what is that stuff, pesticide?”

I spent $13.75, more than making up for my last outing in which I found zip. Can't share a couple of today’s finds because they will be gifts. You’ll never guess what they are—and neither will the intended recipients! But here’s what I can show you:

Children’s librarian door prizes, including a couple of frogs and a cute little frame for next summer’s Make a Splash reading program.

This hat will also be a prize.
The seller quoted me a price of $2 and seemed a bit put out when I offered less. I explained it would go live in a library and have a very good home. Her nice husband standing nearby laughed and said, “Free to a good home, isn’t that how it goes?”
The missus agreed to a dollar, then she wandered off. When I handed the dollar to the mister he handed it back and said, no, just give it that good home. I promised we would. When we got back to the car, Diane and I agreed that the missus would probably have kept the dollar, and frowned at me!

A couple of DVDs of favorite movies, to replace our old VHS tapes. These did NOT come from the sale that had DVDs priced at something like twenty bucks.
Some Christmas ornaments.

These glass pinecones may end up being party favors at our Christmas Open House in a couple of weeks.
I love these earrings.
The lady selling them had a number of cool things she has made. Diane bought a couple of packs of her embossed gift cards. And I should have taken a picture of the clever little primitive Christmas trees she made with twigs, a bit of greenery and old buttons.

At the same sale I succumbed to the charms of this rusty roping cowboy. I think he’ll make a fun yard ornament.
Last is this pink fanny pack.
Wasn’t in the market for a pack(but hey, it's a hip pack!), but a couple of months ago I bought a brand-new-from-a-store pedometer (so unlike me!) and lost it two days later. So what I actually wanted was the bonus pedometer, and at fifty cents the price was right. The store-bought one was pretty chintzy about adding up my steps—I would walk around counting steps in my head, and when I looked at the pedometer it had added nowhere near as many as I counted. But this one seems to be very generous with its counting, so even though it's pink I'm going to like it a lot better!

And now that I look more closely at the packaging, I get one more chortle from my day’s finds. Where but in Southern California would I be asked to buy this pink thing to “Help Save a Lifestyle”?

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