Sunday, January 31, 2010


“I see you finally got some breakfast,” I said to the guy having a yard sale. He grinned and waved his chocolate donut.

“Breakfast of Champions,” he agreed, and we both snickered.

That was the sale with the moose collection. Don’t think I've ever seen a moose collection at a yard sale before. Saw a crocodile collection a while back, and of course any weekend you can see pigs/frogs/geese/mice /rabbits/horses/cats etc. As is often the case, this was just a few items culled from a much larger collection.

When people know you collect something, you can pretty much bet you’ll be getting geese or frogs or mooses on every gift giving occasion. And you can definitely bet that a certain percentage of that largesse will not be to your taste. If you’re lucky, someone will buy it at your yard sale either because they collect that thing and it is to their taste, or the buyer will know someone who collects it and the cycle begins again. And if you’re REALLY lucky…the person who gave it to you won’t see that you’re selling it at your yard sale.

Just in case anyone was wondering, I do not and have no intention of ever collecting mooses. But I had to buy this one because it is so darned cool.
A 3” tall moose. Sculpture in leather; no glue involved, just cut and shaped.
I found something similar being sold on a Minnesota website as a Christmas ornament, but mine has no hanger. It's sculpture, I tell you. I was bemused by the description of the ornament as having been made by “our forest ranger.”

Saw another first a bit later. I was actually tempted to buy this, but I came to my senses.
It would have made a helluva door prize for a children’s librarian, but our risk management department would have a heart attack if I gave someone a unicycle.

At one stop, the actual sale was hard to spot behind the humungous RV rumbling in the street in front of it. Several guys were on board, and it struck me that this was a ridiculous vehicle in which to go to yard sales. Turned out that several families were having this particular sale together, and the dads and kids were preparing to take off for a weekend of RVing (can't bring myself to call it camping). The 3 or 4 moms seemed eager for them to take off, and I had a pleasant vision of the fun they’d have that evening, out for some female bonding, spending the proceeds of their sale. Hope it happened that way, but when I saw the same RV leaving another sale later in the morning I had to wonder if my scenario was anywhere close to correct.

I bought 14 items for $8.65. And wait till you hear about what I didn’t buy.

This cork board kit is for our new house.
We’re going to need something on the counter next to the cooktop on which to land hot pans. I’ve been keeping an eye out for some 12” tiles, intending to frame four of them together, but this looks like it can serve the same purpose. The box says you have to collect your own wine corks; it will be some time before we move so I figured I could do that. But the nice lady I bought this from had already collected them and told me I'll enjoy seeing what she included. So now instead of collecting, I have plenty of time to actually glue it all together. You don’t want to rush these things.

At the same sale I found this nice tweedy sweater, cotton and rayon.

Thought it looked like it might fit, so I whipped out my little measuring tape. Yup, measurements were promising, and indeed it does fit. The thing that amused me when I got home was noticing the size on the tag…medium. So I checked the RN number (you can figure out when a garment was made by doing a little math) and sure enough, this dates from about 1989, which must have been that fashion period when designs were so oversized that a medium can actually be worn by decidedly not-medium me. I'm planning to try it on Monday with my swishy black skirt and tall black boots. Wasn’t sure about the big cowl neck, but the knit is not bulky and it drapes nicely. And if it's cold I can pull it over my head for a hood. Or pull it over my face if I want to rob a bank.

The ladies at the sale where I bought this were still setting things out. One of them picked up a small yellow object in a plastic bag, wondering out loud what it might be. Then she started laughing and showed her friend the label, saying she wondered what her granny had been up to. I said it was cruel to keep the rest of us in suspense. Turns out it was a pair of string bikinis from Fredericks of Hollywood. Her granny was there, and said they’d been a gag gift at some women’s conference she went to. That was her story and she stuck to it.

Another sale had a ton of craft stuff. I picked up a roll of navy blue ribbon for a quarter.
The seller, who had a wonderfully thick Brooklyn accent, said that she and her husband are downsizing to a mobile home park. The kids are all in New York and what do they need with a four bedroom house and a pool. When an elderly Chinese lady asked her about something, she exclaimed over how cute this lady was and said she just wanted to adopt her. “You’re downsizing,” I reminded her. “You won’t have room to adopt anyone.”

I came home with four ten-cent items this week, all tie-ins for next summer’s water themed reading program. These three came from one sale.
I may have to keep the otters reading a book.
In fact, they’d make a good picture for my office bulletin board one of these days.
It can say something like “You otter be reading!”

I know, I know. Otter nonsense.

The other ten-center is this…I guess it's a trivet. Or maybe something to hang on the wall.

Don’t you love the combination of sea creatures and acorns? When the seller said it was a dime, I told her I liked the way she thinks. She laughed and said, “Hey, it's a garage sale.”

I wish she could have been with me a few stops later. This sale had some interesting stuff, but the seller was one of those over-explainers who can't just tell you the price of an object. They have to tell you how much everything else in the vicinity is and how grandma died two years ago and some of this is her stuff and some is her mom’s and some is hers and oh yeah, her sister just split up with her husband and some is hers too. I like stories, but this was too much. I made the mistake of asking how much a wine glass was, and since it was twice as much as I had paid earlier for a nicer one my interest was definitely flagging by the time I'd heard the price of every piece of glassware in sight. But it didn’t end there. The seller wandered off (with me thinking whew, now I can look around) but came back in a moment to say there were more wine glasses by the front of the house. And indeed there were. I smiled derisively to myself at the ones labeled $15 each, thinking (everyone all together now) It’s a Garage Sale. But the sheer absurdity of this had me speechless.

I actually picked one of these puppies up but immediately came to my senses and carefully put it back. I am not the most graceful person, and a horror film played in my head of me breaking this supposedly valuable piece of glass and being forced to pay for it. (Like I would ever have that kind of money on me.) Probably for the whole set, since I would have ruined the ensemble. A narrow escape! I have to admit, a wine glass with a squirrel etched into it is almost as funny as sea creatures with acorns, but I'm sticking with the ten cent items.
I've already decided not to keep these two items.

Thought I might use the vase as a base glued to the plate for a cake stand, but they don’t look good together. And my husband convinced me the vase isn’t stable enough to use this way. Dang, a double buying mistake. Seventy five cents just thrown away. When will I ever learn.

I will probably use this candlestick the same way though, to give some height to a plate I already own.

This tie came from the unicycle sale.

My husband is going to be in a wedding in the summer and said he needs a light purple tie. This ought to do it, and seems to be a nice one. The sellers said it was a hundred dollar tie, and looking at Nordstrom’s website I believe them.

Found one more summer program item, this cute sailor hat.
Couldn’t resist trying it on.
Might be even more flattering that last year’s raccoon hat.
Here’s the wine glass I did buy.

Like it? The pattern is discontinued, but you can get one at Replacements for $49.99 plus shipping. When I saw it at the yard sale, I picked it up and pinged it with my finger (I believe in buying wine glasses by sound). A clear, silvery note rang out, and one of the men having the sale looked up.

“Lenox Windswept,” he said. “They were $32.50 each. Fifty cents.”

I got out two quarters. “Man, you drive a really hard bargain.”


  1. I would have bought the unicycle!
    Love the sea trivet. Is the hole in the centre maybe big enough to hold a soap dish?
    And the reading otters - brilliant! xx

  2. love those sweet otters! looks like a parent and child otter reading together. what a great prop/display for a children's library! my sister is a school librarian in fort worth; sadly, she just doesn't have it in her blood to hunt down the bargains ... as you and i do.

    great treasure finds this week! and don't even get me started on some people's garage sale prices! sheesh!!

  3. That bit about the otters was very good.
    I really get a kick when I read your blog.
    thanks for sharing..

  4. Please don't rob any banks. Even with your nice new sweater. Although if you did, the racoon hat would be a perfect disguise because no one would be looking at your face :)

    Can't. believe. the. $1000. price. tag. That's just silly.

    Always enjoy your posts!

  5. Visit Maine, NH or VT and you will find nothing but the 'moose' souvenirs... likewise, visit garage sales in those states, and you always find... 'moose' items!!!

    Good thing those wine glasses are so valuable - they are going to have them for a long time!

    THANKS for another great post - look forward to living vicariously through your garage sale escapades every week as we are getting dumped on with snow here in Central New York state!

  6. Great deals!

    But man oh man at those crazy prices on the wine glasses.

  7. please, pretty please tell us more about the RN numbers on clothes....

  8. I have a bit of a moose collection :) It goes very well with my cabin-y decor. I even have two of those rounded metal candle holders in your photo!

  9. Great finds, LOVE the garage sales! Lezlee

  10. Long-timer lurker here. Just wanted to say the otters remind me of my owl Christmas ornament and I think it's darling;

    those colored wine glasses had better be actually-made-in-Ireland-Waterford crystal for that price!;

    and that plate that you don't want had me bouncing up and down. My grandmother grew up in the foothills of the Alps so I recongized the pattern right away. The red poppies, blue cornflowers, and either white stell'alpina (aka edelwiess) or golden wheat stalks is a traditional motif. Is the plate marked anything on the back?

  11. I love your blog. LoL That trivet is amazing!!

  12. Wow - those sure were some expensive wine glasses - I bet they got to keep them.


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

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