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.”

Sunday, January 24, 2010


We had a wild and wooly week weather-wise. Rain and blustery wind from Monday to Friday, even a tornado watch one day! (Practically unheard of here.) So when Saturday was as clear and sunny as the weather predictions promised, everyone was both delighted and amazed. And I hope we’re all appreciating this sunny weekend, because tomorrow the rain is supposed to start again.

It felt great to be out with the top down on my car, scouting out those signs tacked up at corners that lead me to treasure. I met a couple of dogs this week, a yellow lab who was shopping with her bike-riding owners, and this older gent:
As I tried to get a picture, I said something about putting him on my blog. One of the guys having the sale exclaimed, “Shadow! You’re going to be on the garage sale dog hall of fame!” You’d almost think he was familiar with my blog.

One sale seemed to be several families who had set up their wares together. I chatted with one of the husbands about remodeling; he was putting out leftover tiles to sell and that started us off. He said their house had been a foreclosure and they’d pretty much had to gut it and start over. That wasn’t the case with our house, but it was over 30 years old when we bought it and needed some systems updated. We did a classic “might as well” remodeling. It started with needing new shower doors for my bathroom. My husband said, if we’re going to do that, we might as well take down that unfinished pine paneling in there too. Then it was, we might as well do the shower stall in the half bath. And on and on for about $25,000 worth of might-as-wells. Which is a chunk of change, but the cost-per-wow has been worth it—we’ve loved and used everything we put in. And isn’t that part of why we thrift, so we can afford things like fixing the house?

But I have to admit, I do still think of my bathroom as having a $25,000 shower door.

This weekend’s adventures were nowhere near that expensive, coming in at a mere $6.75. Several of my finds fall into the category of glass:

Three storage jars with air-tight lids. Originally from Ikea, where they are not terribly expensive, but buying them on a driveway means I got all three for less than half the price of one at the store.
I've already filled the smaller one with kosher salt.
I absolutely love these handmade drinking glasses. They feel great to hold, quite substantial though they’re not very large. I especially like that they’re all slightly different.
This set of six Crate & Barrel Christmas glasses was admittedly a splurge, but they’ve never been used and for a dollar I'm able to feel I'm living large.
Moving on from glass, we have the blue category:
I'm ridiculously excited about this silicone spatula. Hmmm, must be a sign of extreme middle age, to get excited about a spatula. I want to rush right into the kitchen and start mixing up pancakes.
And it looks fabbo with my other colorful utensils.
Then there is the new-in-box personal fan.
I think it must have been a gift; even though the box says it comes without batteries, this one was fully loaded and operational. I'm crazy about it on my home-office desk; the blue against my orange walls is positively zippy.
I've been looking for some small containers for loose tea, and this pack of four plastic containers with blue caps will work just fine until I find something more exciting.
Finally, defying categorization other than 1) useful and 2) cute we have
1) almost full box of large white envelopes (I didn't think the bit of blue on the box was enough to put it into the blue category!)
and 2) another addition for my children’s-literature-toys collection.
This is the bunny from the book Guess How Much I Love You. I checked online to see how much these guys sell for; evidently it originally had a smaller bunny to hug, and the pair sells for—can you believe this?!—almost $40. Sheesh!
My husband took one look and asked, “Are they still making the Trix-are-for-kids rabbit?” You’ll probably have to be a certain age to understand that reference!

I finished hand-sewing a rod pocket onto the quilt I got a couple of weeks ago, and we hung it in our bedroom. We’ve had a vintage double-wedding ring quilt there since we moved in about eight years ago. Before:

I'm really loving the change; the old quilt was beloved but this is much more vibrant. Isn’t that curvy leaf border terrific?

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