Thursday, February 1, 2024

The Practical, the Delightful, the Bottom Line

Genie was kind enough to leave a comment on my last post which included a request for the 2023 spreadsheet report, which reminded me I’d never done it! I realized during the year that most of my finds fall into two categories. They are either practical (Pragmatist is my middle name. Hmmm, would that make me Queen Pragmatist of Fifty Cents?) or I find them delightful.

I much prefer the word ‘delight’ to the word ‘joy’; it seems to carry less responsibility, less necessity to work at maintaining it. Delight can be ephemeral and yet no less delightful, and as long as I still view something with that sense of delight I will keep it. If the delight fades, I tell whatever it is goodbye. Makes it easier to pack it off to the Humane Society Thrift Store, where I hope someone else will experience delight. Which of course brings up my donations category – 30 items I bought didn’t make the long-term cut. $44.25 spent…but hopefully will bring in more than that and feed some puppies and kitties.

The single most lucrative category (best return on investment) surprised me because it was such a small one – reselling. I bought only two things to resell, paid a buck and a half for them, and after all expenses they made $60.71 on eBay. I wish all my investments were that robust. Sheesh. What were they, you ask? A vintage bar of soap 

and a silk Citron Santa Monica dress.

Household goods had the next best return on investment – found 13 items for $17.55, worth about $390. As you’d expect, these are things that fall squarely in the practical camp. Fifty cents for a 3-way lightbulb that retails for $12. (Twelve bucks for one lightbulb! Lord have mercy.) A $2 jug of laundry soap that lasted 3.5 months. Nearly new king size all-cotton sheets for a dollar each. You would not believe the thrill I get making the bed with a beautiful blue sheet that cost a dollar.

One of the best household things I found all year is both practical and delightful – a fireplace screen. But wait, you say, there is no fireplace in your house. True, but this is the best doggy gate I have ever used. Never, ever thought of using one this way before.

I found several useful pieces of clothing, the cream of the crop being three Land’s End turtlenecks from a free box. I wear t’necks constantly in the winter, and these are the good heavy ones that are hard to find these days. I bought 12 pieces of clothing and accessories for $12, including this classy vintage purse that’s been fun to carry.

The category in which I found the most items was yard stuff. I saw an article in a (garage sale) gardening magazine about someone who used fancy vases upside down on stakes in their garden. Once you embrace upside-down-on-a-stake, you find all kinds of possibilities on driveways. For both the fancy part and the stake – curtain rods make great stakes, often with interesting finials. My favorite concoction used a $1 curtain rod (originally white, I painted it with copper spray paint) with a $3 pair of glass pendant shades. 

I had an open garden in June, and visitors had a lot of fun spotting all my d├ęcor.

Altogether I had a pretty darned good year – spent a total of $310.55, with an estimated value of $4826. It still pays to shop on driveways!


Sunday, January 7, 2024

Judy in Hats

 Those of you who have been thrifting with me for a while probably remember that my friend Judy is a SUPER good sport about modeling hats. We've seen a gazillion hats of every possible description at yard sales, estate sales and thrift store. Judy has always been willing to pop them on her head and let me take a picture.

She came over the other day and we were looking at pics on our phones, and I realized ow many shots I have of her in hats. So just for fun, here's a look back at Judy in Hats.

Sunday, June 25, 2023

Summer is A-Coming In…

Sing it with me…At last!! Yes, finally, a pretty darned good garaging weekend. I know we tend to blame a lot of stuff on the pandemic, but it really did seem like once that hit, garaging was one of the victims. It was only to be expected in 2020, we felt like we were taking our lives in our hands by leaving the house. Which we possibly were. Goodness, what a year – remember the great toilet paper panic? Go and Google ‘toilet paper earrings’ for a giggle.

I tried to convince myself that garaging has been pitiful ever since because so many people decluttered while they were stuck at home so there’s been no ongoing backlog of unwanted possessions. Thrift stores did seem to be extremely well stocked for a while. But given how many conversations I've had lately with folks who say they desperately need to clear things out, I'm not sure how valid that reasoning was. Not to mention all the reality shows about decluttering and organizing.

But summer is now upon us and I got to indulge in a full weekend of garaging. Only ended up spending $11 so I'm happy to report I didn’t lose my head, but it was just so nice to hop in the car, turn on the GPS, and head out looking for treasure and conversations on a sunny morning.

As it happened, my actual best finds were on Thursday, when I went to only three sales. The first was an estate sale, with the too-common ridiculous estate-sale-prices. It was in a smallish house in a golf course neighborhood, and the real marvel was how in the world they had managed to cram so much furniture into the place. The only thing I saw that might have been of interest had the price not been $25 was a chinois, or china cap strainer – one of those conical things that sits in a stand, and you use a wooden pestle to puree food through the holes. A friend has been wanting one for ages, but at that price she could have a new one.

Next stop was super fun, and I spent a whole $3.50 there. Two sisters about my age were selling off a lot of their over-the-top Halloween decorations, things they had made for the lavish parties they threw. They told me they are pretty much through with big parties, but not to worry they still had a bunch more they were keeping. My need for giant spiders and life size skeletons is minimal, but fortunately they were decluttering a few more things. First find was part of an old chandelier that I plan to use somewhere in the yard, for the base of a gazing ball or something.

Another find was this fun bottle that has also become a yard ornament. 

I've got my eye out for at least two more glass pieces (perhaps vases) to keep it company.

A nondescript box on the lawn turned out to hold fabric. Two yards of this screen print, 

and almost 2 yards of good quality faux fur 

that I will use one of these days to refurbish Millie and Stanley’s cat tree.

Last stop was a fund raiser to send kids to camp or some such, and my goodness what a lot of stuff. I've seen church rummage sales that were smaller. And one of the first things I saw was another chinois – and this one was three bucks. You can bet it was in my hands in a flash, and it was a huge hit with its new owner.

Wandered over to the clothing, much of which was on hangers. Lots and lots of clothes packed tightly together. The way to deal with this scenario is to first look only at the fabrics. When you see something that looks like good quality material you can pull it out to learn more, but you just let your eye pass by all the polyester. And the first thing my eye landed on was a silk Citron Santa Monica tank dress. 

Not my size, but I've got it for sale on eBay and hopefully will make a few bucks. It's a pricey brand that resells well; this dress probably originally went for around $250. Then I spotted another likely fabric, which is a J Jill dress that I’ll be embiggening into a tunic to wear. 

Hard to see, but there are little self-covered buttons and fabric loops all down the front. Not a simple detail to construct, and this piece probably was originally at least $125.

Friday I headed to the south part of town to a large neighborhood that has an annual sale. I've gotten good things there in the past, including my incredible vintage MCM chandelier by Italian designer Gaetano Sciolari that I got…for free. (Still can't believe it. If you can find one for sale online expect to shell out more than $2K.) 

Alas, this neighborhood sale is feeling a bit played out. I think maybe everyone indeed did major decluttering in past years. Had some enjoyable conversations and managed to spend another $1.50 on a DVD and a curtain rod to use – yes, again! – as a yard ornament. I remade my fun napkin-ring stake with half of it.

I was going to stay home Saturday but the promise of another neighborhood sale convinced me otherwise. And my dog park friend Pam came along for the first time which was great. We hit three or four other sales before getting to the neighborhood one, including a fun one where she bought a beautiful silk kimono and some other things and I splurged on a very artsy floor lamp. The couple having the sale are selling everything including home and two Teslas and embarking on a 3 year around the world cruise.

And then wouldn’t you know it, when we got to the neighborhood sale it was nothing. I bought a denim shirt for a buck, and we only found about three sales. Pooh.

When I got home I went to get my lamp out of the SUV and discovered it was way heavier than I could manage. The seller had put it in the car for me, and I'd noticed there were cut wires sticking out of the bottom. I pointed it out and he said he’d fix it. Pam and I chatted with the wife some more while he did something, then closed the car and said all done. Off we went.

I called my ex to come by and help me get the lamp out of the car, which he did. And we discovered that the guy had wrapped tape around the cut wires and there was some rigamarole with a dimmer and no way to plug anything in. Basically I had splurged forty bucks on a cool artsy lamp that didn’t work. Grrrr. (I was too annoyed to even think of taking a picture of it.)

We loaded it back in the car and I drove back across town. Pulled into the driveway. The husband asked me why didn’t I just fix it, which left me speechless for a moment. Probably a good thing because anything that might have come out of my mouth would have been very rude and probably profane. I finally stammered something like, I wouldn’t know how, and I thought I was buying a working lamp and it isn’t. He hauled it out of the car and walked off, and the wife handed me forty bucks back and chatted in a friendly manner for a minute. I went away feeling I'd be okay on a three year cruise with her…but not him.

Besides, there would be no yard sales on a cruise ship!

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

New Year, Old Stuff!

FINALLY… got to go to a sale last weekend!

Turned out not to be a very good sale. Lots and lots and lots of stuff, and to my eyes 99% of it just crap. It was an estate sale, and seemed to be the estate of a hoarder. From the ad on Craigslist, that appeared to be the opinion of the estate sale company as well, because after noon on Sunday they were giving away anything that was left. Which said to me they were expecting a lot of stuff to be left. I've known regular folks to give away anything and everything at the end of a garage sale, but never an estate sale company.

I was there on Saturday, which was their half-price day. Usually the first day is packed with people, but they had neglected to get their ad up on Craigslist on Friday. So we all showed up for half price stuff.

 When I went in one of the bedrooms, another gray-haired lady was contemplating one of those all-enveloping garments from 30 years ago you were supposed to wear to be cozy on the couch. “The trouble with those,” I commented, “was it made it so hard to get to the bathroom.” She laughed and laid the thing down. “I sure don't need anything that would do that!” she told me. Then she recounted to me a family trip she’d been on when she and her six-year-old granddaughter had shared a room. She giggled. “She saw my Depends when we went to bed, and told everyone the next morning that she wanted some fluffy underpants like mine!”

I managed to spend 75¢. Found an unopened package of this glue I've heard is good for securing glass.

I've long wanted to try making one of those garden sculptures out of old vases and plates. Something along these lines:

Now I'll have to actually look at all the discarded glassware when I'm garaging. I no longer own any vases, because my cat Millie demolishes any plant material that she can get her teeth on. (Don’t get me started about the vet bill after she sampled a dieffenbachia at the ex’s house…) But I'm hopeful I'll be able to find some inexpensive pieces to play with. Starting with 25¢ glue makes me willing to experiment!

My other buy was a bar of soap. Pretty, isn't it? 

It seems to be quite an old bar of soap. When I got home I googled it to get an approximate retail price for my spreadsheet. The company still exists – online only – but the only hits I got on this kind of soap were on eBay. Imagine my surprise to see that all the completed auctions for this soap sold – for as much as $20.

Why yes, I am going to put this on eBay. At the rate this year is going, twenty bucks could support months of garaging!

I did resist one other item, and I'm not sorry – but it was hard. You know that pull you feel just because something is just so cool? That’s how I felt when I uncovered this sewing machine.

I was gob smacked by the design of it. Looked it up when I got home – it's a Singer Model 500A, also know as the Rocketeer. 

It dates to the space age Sixties, and was the last of the great Singer models. The review I read said it's of all-metal construction; after the Rocketeer the company started using plastic in their machines.

I really thought about going back on Sunday to see if it was still there. But I already have three sewing machines, so I forbade myself to do it. But…it sure was cool!

Sunday, October 2, 2022


I had a nice email yesterday from a reader, Chris. She said she had tried to leave a comment here on the blog but it didn't work (more on that in a minute) so she emailed. As Genie did back in August (wasn't August about 20 minutes ago? Wait, you say it's now October??!) she was missing my garaging adventures and wanted more. My ego is definitely purring!

But here's the thing - the fact is I've never been happier and don't post very often because I just don't feel like it! I'm at an age and stage of life where for the first time I can do what I want. I don't need to please anyone other than myself, and my main responsibility is to my pets.

The pandemic certainly had a big effect on sales. There are far fewer than in past years. Plus I downsized when I divorced, and already own most everything I need. I still enjoy going to sales and chatting with folks, but don't care if I go out every week.

I have no plans to end this blog, but posts will remain - how shall I put it? - quixotic. If you  miss me (warning, shameless self promotion ahead!) please hop over to Amazon and buy my books. They are quite fun, and if enough of you do it I'll have money to go garaging. Yay!

Now...circling back to the comments thing. I have no idea what is going on with that. My own blog will not let ME leave a comment! It keeps saying I have to sign in even though I already did. Grrrr. I apologize to anyone who has struggled with it, but I don't know how to fix it. Holler if  you have advice.

My now overblown ego thinks someone might want to know what I've been up to if not thrifting. Craigslist is a good pal of mine - just today I scored a cordless vacuum for about 75% off retail (I hate to vacuum, hoping this will make it easier). And for my birthday Craigslist found me something I've been considering for months - an electric tricycle! Isn't she pretty?

Mostly I just love hanging out with my fur gang. Remember that new kitten, Stanley? Best impulse decision ever. I woke up yesterday to find we were sleeping cheek to cheek. Great way to start the day!

Saturday, September 3, 2022

Labor Day Labors

I may have to adjust my opinion about holiday weekends. I rarely participate in them because I'm retired and don't have the same need for a long weekend as working folks. I also avoid crowds and traffic. For a long time I've considered them useless for garaging as well, just not enough sales to bother with. Yet it was over the Memorial Day weekend I found my wonderful bunny weathervane

and I'm very happy with my Labor Day finds!

First stop was only four blocks from home, and the first thing I saw was a section of metal deck railing, just like what I took off the old deck I had removed this summer. I'm hanging onto it for eventual use as a fence along my creek side, but I still need several more panels. I crossed my fingers that this one would be affordable, and it was. Very. As in…free! And they’re even delivering it since it was too long for my SUV. Definitely a score.

The next two sales on my list ended up being drive-bys. I couldn’t even see if there was actually a sale for all the crappy old cars sitting around at the first, and the next looked skimpy and tired. Maybe there was treasure there, but I doubt it!

Onward to one near Bush’s Pasture Park, a beautiful large park in a lovely old neighborhood. Very popular with walkers, and dogs. The car parked in front of the sale was occupied by a large golden-doodle whose owners had stopped to browse. He was very happy when they returned to the car so he could go visit the squirrels. This was the sale where I picked up a cool piece of art. Thought at first it was a watercolor print, but it's actually a photograph. 

Signed and numbered by the artist and very nicely framed, and all of two bucks. I love it with the other two original watercolors I've found recently.

I also picked up a wineglass here (broke one recently). It was priced at fifty cents. When I went to pay I handed her the two singles for the picture and checked my coins, which amounted to five pennies. Hmmm, I said, we can either break another one or I can give you five cents for the wineglass. Which was fine with her! Not sure when I last got anything for a nickel, let alone a very nice wineglass with a beautiful tone when tapped. (I always buy wineglasses by their sound.)

Another quick stop netted a counted cross stitch with one of my favorite sayings, which I have now learned dates to World War 2 and the efforts on the home front to support the war.

One more stop before heading home, where the first thing I saw was a bunch of free stuff. Good free stuff! I picked up 5 trough planters, used but in perfect condition. 

Then I saw canning jars, and grabbed two quart size I know my friend Toni is looking for. Among them was a quart jar of buttons, so I snagged that as well. You know I love me some buttons! I'll go through these soon and sort out the ones I want to add to my stash, and find a new home for the rest. It did my heart good to see them, because all the button jars I've seen recently (usually at estate sales) were quite pricey.

I also picked up a vintage hanky (yes, I sometimes use hankies!) 

and a pink bath towel with an entertaining border. 

From the size of the towel and the label I'm guessing it could date back to the 70s! 

I've been looking for a terry towel to cut up for dish cloths (I put out a fresh one every morning and toss yesterday’s into the laundry) and this will be perfect.

I think they may have had more stuff in their free pile than actually for sale, but my eyes lit up when I saw something I recognized. Several years ago I bought a carved wood jester riding a trike that was made by a Czech master puppet maker, Miroslav Trejtnar. (Alas, the photos of it have disappeared from my blog, dang it, possibly a victim of a hard drive crash a few years ago.) I was absolutely amazed to see another piece by the same artist sitting among a variety of items priced at a dollar. As a rule I don't care much for clown images, but this one I like. 

He rocks from side to side and his beads slide around; perhaps he’s supposed to be a juggler. In any case he is now mine and looks quite at home among some other wooden toys, including a French clown who was originally part of a skittles set (the game, not the candy!)

I came home happy for sure, and am looking forward to future holiday weekends !


Saturday, August 27, 2022


I had a comment on my last post recently from Genie saying I’ve been missed, and I was very touched. I love getting comments (exception = spam!!) and it’s been my practice to comment in reply. I’m not sure what’s going on with the old blog, but it just will not let me leave a comment. Wants me to keep signing in, even though I have signed in and it's my own blog, dammit. I hope no one else has been similarly frustrated. Ain’t technology grand? Actually yes, it is, but it sure can be frustrating.

I was going to say that my tolerance for frustration has not increased along with my age, but upon reflection perhaps it has. I can certainly roll my eyes and shrug and say “oh well” about most things that don't go as I'd wish. Which has been a good attitude to bring to garaging this summer; the pickings have been slim. Since I don't actually need anything and I rarely resell now it really doesn’t matter, and I still have fun conversations with folks along the way. And life still throws a few surprises at me from time to time.

I'm still chuckling about something that happened when I was leaving a sale a couple of weeks ago. I was just about to get into my car when a woman leaving the same sale called over to me, “Hey, are you that woman who is running for governor?” It’s a startling thing to be asked. (Not, of course, if you actually are running for governor.) I assured her I was not that person and she went on her way. On further reflection, I decided I might vote for a candidate I'd seen shopping on driveways, since to me it denotes a sensible attitude on fiscal responsibility.

At another recent sale I came upon two middle aged guys going through DVDs and other items. One of them discovered a thick notebook filled with cards – like baseball cards – in plastic sleeves. Oh look, he exclaimed, these are all of Diana Rigg when she was in The Avengers. I couldn’t help laughing; there are collector’s cards of Diana Rigg in The Avengers? Sheesh, who knew. Then the other one said very seriously that the problem with this notebook was that nothing was in its original packaging which was such a shame. I can see there’s a whole area of collecting out there that I am completely ignorant of. And plan to remain so, thank you.

And yes, they did buy all the collecting cards.

At another place I had an enjoyable conversation with a lady I remembered buying some yarn from a few years ago at her previous sale. We talked about yarn and textiles and somehow segued into gardening, and she asked I'd like to see her back yard, that she was a novice gardener but had planted lots of flowers over the past couple of years. We headed to the back, and it was stunning – a riot of color and texture, just wonderful. “Hey,” I said, “I'm on the Open Garden Committee of the Salem Hardy Plant Society, is there any chance you’d like to open your garden for members to visit one of these days?” And she said yes! Even though she’s not yet a member, she opened her garden this weekend, and everyone who visited love it. I had such a good time watching her connect with other gardeners and just soaking in the peace of her garden. So Linda, thank you so much for surprising me and saying yes!

My biggest surprise lately did not happen while I was garaging however. I was  grocery shopping and headed to my favorite pet store for dog food. These folks partner with a cat rescue group and sometimes have adoptable kitties in the store; it is in fact where I found my Millie. 

I always glance over at the big walk-in enclosure just to see if any kitties are there, and this time there was one – a tiny dark gray tabby kitten, ten weeks old. Our eyes met. He gave a tiny little mew. And I was a goner.

I was in no way in the market for an additional pet. But I was smitten. When I left the store with my dog food I was telling myself sternly that I had to think about this overnight, I should not rush into anything. By the time I got home I was telling myself sternly that I had to think about this at least until I put the groceries away. When I finished with the groceries…I went straight to my phone and called the pet store and said that kitten in MINE!

And he is. His name is Stanley and he is fabulous.

For such a baby he’s quite mellow. Had the run of the house within a day and gets along with everyone. Plays adorably, eats like a champ, and likes to cuddle. He tucks himself beside my pillow and sleeps all night. Okay, a couple of times he’s been up at 2 a.m. to play with my eyebrows, but hey, he’s a baby. I could not be happier with my impulsive decision and have no regrets at all.

Which reminded me of an earlier cat adoption, when we took in Puddy. He was at least 12 at the time, and I was afraid it would be hard to integrate him into the family. But he walked in, greeted the other cat and two dogs, and simply settled in to live the rest of his life with us. Again, no regrets, and he inspired me to write this. Feel free to substitute your name of choice for Puddy – and say yes to the next surprise that comes your way!


You should always say ‘yes’ to a Puddy.

A Puddy’s a wonderful thing.

They’ll purr for you in the autumn

And summer, and winter, and spring.

They lay by you in your bed at night

And sing you a soft lullaby

And during the day, they’ll get in your way

And crouch where you want to walk by.


You should always say yes to a Puddy.

A Puddy’s a wonderful guy.

They’ll be with you when you are happy

And mop up your tears when you cry.

They eat whatever you give them,

Then bump your head with their nose

And when dinner’s done, they lie in the sun

In a perfectly artistic pose.


So always say yes to a Puddy

If a Puddy should come to your door.

He’s wise and he has much to teach you

And a Pud can't be bought at the store.

Though at first you might think you don’t need one

And you try to say no, not for me.

You’ll never regret a Pud as a pet

Just try one, and then you will see.

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