Sunday, March 28, 2010


Back from the conference in Portland, the land of really, really good food. Srsly (as the lolcats say) I don’t think you can get bad food there. Possibly the most memorable thing I ate was at a Thai restaurant half a block from our hotel, a dish called Death by Asparagus. I asked the waiter to have them tone down the heat a bit, and if they did…all I can say is the dish is well named. Delish, but way hot! Thank heavens for the cooling properties of Thai iced tea.

Conference was fine. We gave our workshop twice, once as part of the ‘virtual conference’ and again for about 200 real live librarians. The virtual presentation felt odd, I'm not used to having an audience I can't see, who are making comments by typing them in. But the live session went very well, and having that big an audience on Saturday morning amazed us all.

I was very good and did not spend the whole session looking at my watch and thinking “I ought to be going to yard sales this very minute!”

We got our MCM credenza and hutch cleaned up and moved into my office.
Still loving it. In fact, someone in the household confessed that while I was away he came in here a few times just to slide the doors back and forth. Perfectly understandable, they are very smooth.

My orange walls do not do it justice, but it will be fine here until we eventually move it into its spiritual home, the dining room of our MCM retirement house.

I poked around on the Internet and found that the logo on the back of the credenza
is from Poul Hundevad, which was confirmed last week in the comment by Janus Home. Don’t you love researching the history of your thrifty finds on the Internet? I'll be back on the garaging trail next weekend (lord willing and the creek don’t rise, as they say). Who knows, maybe I'll get lucky again. In fact, I'd almost bet on it!

Saturday, March 20, 2010


My husband and I are in love.

Well, yes, with each other, but we’re coming up on our 38th anniversary in May, so that’s kind of an old story. No, this is a new object of our passion. We found our first addition to our furniture for the midcentury modern house we’ll be retiring to eventually.

We love her. Teak, with what I believe is birch behind the sliding doors on the base,
and this nifty felt-lined sliding tray for flatware. (Please excuse the unlovely background!)
What really makes us swoon is the beveled front edge on the shelves in the upper hutch.
She’s from Denmark, I'm guessing early to mid Sixties. Anyone recognize this logo?
I tried googling “Danish Furniture Company” and as you can imagine got several million hits.

She was an incredible deal. We had to rent a van to get her home, and even with that she cost about fifty bucks. Yeah, the van cost quite a bit more than we paid for the furniture!

We haven’t had a chance to put her two pieces together yet. This beauty is definitely not going to hang out in the garage until we move someday. We’re going to shift some furniture in the house and move her inside in a few days. I think she’s going in my home office. I'll have to move one or two white Ikea bookcases somewhere else, but I can live with that. As soon as I get her fixed up in her new spot I'll take more pics.

It's love, I tell you.

We found her at a sale on Friday, a fundraiser to support a young woman who volunteers as a psychotherapist at an orphanage in Zambabwe. She comes home to the US every once in a while to visit family and friends, and to raise funds so she can go back again.

Hers was the second sale we hit on Friday. The first was an estate sale that advertised in Craigslist that they had midcentury furniture, so I was hot to get over there at starting time. Didn’t see anything I would call midcentury, but it's a useful phrase these days to get people to your sale. My husband found this little white teapot that we like for its unusual lid catcher.
I was a bit bemused by their writing the item name on the price tag.

Maybe label switching does go on at estate sales, but I've never seen it. Most of their prices seemed silly to me. They had looked up every item on eBay and had printouts of auctions that had the highest prices they could find. Can't help wondering how much they actually sold.

Stopped at lots of sales on Saturday as well, but only bought at one of them. Definitely one of those “you have to kiss a lot of frogs to find a prince” days. But it was fun, starting with some of the Craigslist ads. One promised “lots of toys, designer clothing, hooker/pole dancer shoes…” Kind of makes you wonder what sort of toys they were talking about. Their ad went on to tell you to look for their signs, which would be really good. “Airplanes know when I have a sale” they boasted.

I used to proofread books for a friend who is a publisher. You can imagine my shudder at this ad: “Were at the end of the cold de sack.” Hey, I live at the end of a cold de sack too. My favorite ad though was posted a few days ago, on March 16—advertising a sale on March 13…and ending sternly with “No Early Birds.”

Reminds me of a limerick I heard in my youth:
There was a young lady named Bright
Whose speed was much faster than light.
She set out one day
In a relative way
And arrived the previous night.

Encountered a much loved Poodle today who was taking it easy and didn’t bother to get up.
These Pekes are brothers, Joey and Zack. I keep wanting to call them Zoey and Jack.
Their owner had just purchased a little stuffed Santa toy for them, which Zack was eagerly anticipating. He had no intention of sharing with his brother!

Didn’t find out this friendly kitty’s name.
He was almost impossible to get a picture of, he kept writhing on the sunny sidewalk, purring madly.
Not counting the cost of renting the van to pick up our sideboard, I spent $24 this weekend. (Told you it was an amazing deal!) At the same sale as the sideboard I found this nice black wool jacket, with velveteen lining the front facings and hood.
It was probably designed as a swing coat for someone smaller than me, but hey, it fits and that’s all I care about. Hmmm, maybe I have a swing butt. I didn’t care much for its boring black buttons, so I changed them out for these vintage ones in gray.
Found more DVDs to replace old VHS tapes.
At the same sale I picked up this embroidered rayon shawl or wide scarf.

And that’s it. Just enough to keep it interesting—though the sideboard alone was enough to make my weekend.

I will probably be absent from the blog next week. I'll be in Portland at the Public Library Association’s national convention. They’re a reckless bunch—they’re actually letting me speak. So instead of garaging next Saturday morning I'll be with some colleagues imparting what we like to think is wisdom.

Maybe I can sneak in a few anecdotes about yard sales.

Sunday, March 14, 2010


I see that Rhoda over at Southern Hospitality is starting up her weekly Thrifty Treasures blog party. Let the fun begin! Welcome to all y'all visiting for the first time (I lived in the South for a long time, so I get to say stuff like 'all y'all) and welcome back to old friends!

Saturday, March 13, 2010


Perhaps to make up for our recent rainy Saturdays, I managed to get in two days of garaging this week. Hit a couple of estate sales on Friday. At the first, as I was paying the lady on the porch of the cute little Victorian house, I noticed two kitties looking out through the screen door. Oooh, kitties, I said. “They’re for sale too,” she said. I believe she was doing the sale for an elderly lady who had to move to assisted living, so this statement was perhaps not as heartless as it sounded. But when I looked back at the door—both kitties had disappeared.

Don’t tell me pets can't understand English.

Today when I headed out I had my husband along for companionship. Fortunately he is a patient person, because it turned out to be a chatty morning. My friend Linda is part of a women’s chorus with over 100 members, and once or twice a year they have a big fundraiser yard sale. Big. Tons of stuff for sale, many members of the chorus there working the sale, and lots and lots of shoppers. There had to be hundreds of pieces of clothing, all priced at fifty cents—so you know I was in my element. And tables and tables of household miscellany and boxes of books and movies, plus some furniture and a wide variety of other objects. Linda is the acknowledged yard sale expert of this group, and about every thirty seconds you’d hear someone calling, “Linda! How much should we charge for this?” “Linda, what is this thing? How much is it?” “Linda! Linda? Where’s Linda?”

Come to think of it, I actually met Linda at one of their sales three or four years ago. We got to talking on that very same driveway, then we kept meeting at other yard sales, and now we get together once a week or so to play our hammer dulcimers. When I went over to her house a couple of days ago I was wearing an embroidered shirt (it’s from New Year’s 2000, but I figure if I want to wear a shirt with embroidered fireworks in March that’s okay). Linda said she liked my shirt—and that’s when I remembered I bought it at one of their sales. You just can't go wrong with fifty cent clothing!

While I was going through all the clothes and talking to Linda and her chorus pals, my husband did his perusing of the stock, then patiently watched my stash. When I paid up, he toted it all to the car, including the jacket I had been wearing until I got too warm. I kept talking to folks, and he started looking at some more stuff, and by the time I finished yakking he’d found a paint sprayer that seemed like a good idea to buy. “Linda!” I hollered across the yard. “How much is this?”

We paid for the paint sprayer, headed to the car with it, and I reached into my pocket where I always put my car keys.

No keys.

Steven had his, but mine weren’t in my pockets or my waist pack. I figured I'd laid them down somewhere in all that mess of stuff. “Linda! I’ve lost my car keys!” So Linda and my hubs and several other people and I all started looking, to no avail…until that smart man I married asked if I hadn't been wearing a jacket earlier. Yup, the keys were in my jacket pocket. I was far too relieved to feel as dumb as I probably should have!

Off we went, to chat with a guy selling boxes of light bulbs at his yard sale. I said he must have changed out his fixtures, and he said no, they’d bought another house that had dozens and dozens of light fixtures in it. The bathrooms alone have something like forty bulbs, so he was changing everything to energy efficient bulbs, and the ones he was selling were the regular ones he’d taken out. I'm not sure I've ever encountered a sale of used light bulbs before.

At another sale I had to take a picture of the shrubbery by their front porch. Don’t you think it looks like a topiary buffalo? I asked the teenage boy minding the sale if that’s what it was, and he seemed unsure. I'm not positive he knew what a buffalo is.
At our next stop I fell into conversation with this gent.
He was holding this gigantic wooden spoon and I said you’d need to be awfully hungry to use that. In an English accent, he said it reminded him of the old saying “If you sup with the devil you should use a long spoon.” Okay, I'm a total sucker for people who say things like that. Then he found a framed souvenir from Brazil, a little reverse-painted map of the country using blue butterfly wings to depict the states. (Should have taken a picture. Hard to describe.) Butterfly wings, he told me, are actually colorless. They are composed of a crystalline substance that defracts light into colors. (He said defracts, not refracts. Sometime I will look up the difference.) The color you get depends on the particular structure of that butterfly. He said if you look at them under an electron microscope the structures are quite amazing. “You must be either a physicist or an entomologist,” I commented. Bingo. Retired physicist. He also told me he’s really good at finding whatever he needs at yard sales, and promised to conjure up some really great midcentury modern furniture for me over the next few weeks. My fingers are crossed.

When we got home I added up what we’d spent. First big blowout of the yard sale year—$44! Sheesh, not sure I can afford to have the hubs come along very often. Actually, that’s unfair. I spent as much on clothes as he did on the paint sprayer, though some of the clothing I hope to resell. And almost half of the total went for movies, which we both enjoy—10 DVDs for our collection, some to replace VHS tapes, some we didn’t have.

These baking dishes will be perfect for a veggie pot pie recipe we’ve been wanting to try.
Here’s the paint sprayer. First project will be painting our metal outdoor chairs. I'm leaning toward a deep blue enamel.
This small cloche came from the estate sale with the disappearing kitties.
The other estate sale yielded a pair of storage jars.
I haven’t bought any yard sale clothing in a while. For myself I found a slouchy J.Jill sweater…
…long black V neck tee…
…Coldwater Creek tee…
…black and cream silk tee (looks good under a black jacket)…
…Ulla Popken tee (you’ve never seen so many tee shirts as they had at this sale)…
…royal blue silk skirt…
I'm hoping to resell these pieces, which include Patagonia, Quacker Factory, and Chico’s Design.
Only met a couple of dogs this time out. Little Penny was a Chihuahua/Jack Russell mix—and absolutely determined I would not take her picture.
But this guy, a great big goofy Golden, not only wanted to be in the picture…
…he wanted to climb right inside my camera!

Sunday, March 7, 2010


“Where are you going?” my dog Edward asked Saturday morning.
“Out looking for yard sales. It's Saturday.”
“But it’s going to start raining,” he objected. He likes it when I stay home with him.
“How do you know that?”
“The fluctuations in barometric pressure make my tail wag,” Edward said. I looked at him. His tail was wagging.
“But Edward, your tail wags all the time. It doesn’t rain all the time.”
“Other things make it wag too,” he admitted. “Like food, and cats, and when you say my name—”
“—and smells, and water, and food, and toys, and scraps of paper—”
This could go on all day. He wags a lot. “Excuse me, I have to go before it starts raining.”

Edward’s tail was right. It did start raining after an hour or so, but I put the top up on my car and that made it stop. A few minutes later I stopped at a sale where a guy was looking at the sky. “Guess that was our downpour,” he said. I explained about closing the lid on my convertible and making it stop, and promised to leave it up for a while. It's the least I can do to keep the garaging fun going.

That was the sale after the one where a woman in her mid thirties held up a lacy bikini she was selling and said ruefully to her friend, “This was the teeniest bikini I ever wore. Those were the days. Four kids later and you’d never know it.”

Another sale was a whole driveway full of stuff belonging to three ladies who were neighbors. One of them kept looking around and saying, “I've got to get this organized. This is such a mess. It is driving me crazy.” Her two friends were not bothered at all (I bet she’s always saying something drives her crazy and they’ve learned to ignore her.) She kept bustling around, and we were chatting a bit, so finally I told her I go to lots of sales and hers was no messier than anyone else’s, and she didn’t need to worry about organizing it, she could just relax. She seemed a bit relieved, but started fretting about a bag of pens and pencils that someone had offered her a quarter for. So then we had the conversation about how sometimes it's better to have a quarter than to have a bag of used pens at the end of the day. This segued into a general discussion about the right way to bargain at yard sales. One of her friends, a largish lady sitting in the garage in a comfy pair of jeans and roomy purple shirt, started to laugh. “I don’t know what it is,” she said, “but we can go to a yard sale together and I'll ask how much something is and they’ll say two dollars, and then she comes up right behind me and they look at her and say here honey, you just take this.” I nodded wisely and told her I knew what it was—she just had to stop dressing so rich. She looked down at her purple shirt and cracked up.

It was a fine day for dogs (besides Edward; it's always a fine day for Edward). First there was Rocco.
He was a very well behaved Westie, and turned out he is blind. Which brought back a lot of memories, because the dog I had when we got married went blind, so we were seeing eye people for a number of years. This was Casey, our Samoyed-pointer cross.
Next I came across Oreo.
Oreo’s people were minding their sale and eating omelettes, and Oreo’s attention was fixed firmly on their plates. When she saw me taking her picture she gave a little growl, clearly telling me to back off from the eggs, they were hers.

At my final stop I met this little sweetie.
Gidget is a 14 week old Lab, and a very good girl. She is already house trained, and she lost her first baby tooth Friday. I got to hold her and we went shopping together in their garage.
It's absolutely true…happiness is a warm puppy!

I spent $7 during the morning; nearly half of it went for this extravagant buy:

Smencils. Yes, pencils that smell. Made from recycled newspapers…but packaged in individual plastic tubes. Perhaps a little unclear on the idea of saving the earth. The lady I bought them from said they were a fund raiser at her kids’ school. “I paid a dollar each, and we sold them for two dollars,” she said, but she had four buckets left and was selling them for a quarter. I asked her how much for a bucket, that I'd like to give them to my children’s librarians. Yes, I shamelessly played the children’s librarian card, and will continue to do so, it works like a charm. Plus it's true. We settled on three bucks, and she made sure I got the fullest bucket. Looks like there are about 40 of them, so at our next children’s librarians meeting I'll give at least one to everyone.

I thought these bookends were awfully cute.

They’re made of cast resin that’s covered with some kind of flocking so they really are, well, warm and fuzzy.
Haven’t decided if I'll keep them in my office for a while or give them for a door prize. Hmmm, they’re heavy enough I could use them for door stops!

I do plan to give away this belt. Figured the sea shells would make it appropriate for someone to use during our water-themed Summer Reading Program. I can see a teddy bear decked out with this as a spiffy headband.

In the realm of the practical, my husband will find a use for this box of printable postcards.

Couldn’t resist these vintage linens, from puppy Gidget’s garage. Brought home six beautiful tissue linen, hand-embroidered place mats.

Wouldn’t they be lovely stitched together for a little curtain, with sunlight streaming through? Also bought a lavender linen tablecloth, hand embroidered and beautifully hemmed…

…plus 12 matching napkins…
and 12…what the heck are these little things? They are ¼ the size of the napkins.
Too thin for coasters. For your bread plate maybe? You can see how often I set a formal table.

I bought this sweet little pin from the lady who was fretting over her messy sale.
I love the bunny painting and the dangly thingies. When I got home I went online to see if I could find out anything about the artist. Googled the name on the back, and got a hit that sounded like my pin, so I clicked on it. It was a seller’s page on Ecrater. Hmmm, I thought, that’s where my sister sells her stuff. I looked at the seller’s name. Midcentury Marilyn.

My sister.

Small world!

LATER IN THE DAY EDIT: Guess I was confusing in that last bit about my sister! She's not the artist, that is someone named Marjoleine Bastin. My sister sells vintage stuff, and she found the same pin in Oklahoma that I found in California. Sorry to have been unclear...guess just because I knew what I meant doesn't mean everyone else does! I still think it's amazing we both found the same thing!

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