Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Thank Heavens for Bingo

Not all yard sales are well thought out, long-planned enterprises. The first one I stopped at on Saturday was pretty sparse, though there was a cute little desk that I bravely resisted. (I have a thing about desks. I dream of having a huge house with desks in every room.) I chatted with the seller for a few minutes, and as I was leaving he mentioned, “When I got home last night I saw that a neighbor had put up some garage sale signs, so I figured what the heck, I'll have one too.”

Spontaneity. A rare quality at seven on Saturday morning!

Another sale close to home was held by a couple who are moving to Peru and selling everything they own. The first thing I spotted was a red tea kettle. I needed a kettle with a whistle, so I asked how much. Two dollars, she said. I left it for the moment (I mean, two whole dollars!) and looked around some more. They had a very posh espresso maker with all the accessories. I mentioned that we have a La Pavoni from a garage sale, and the guy seemed impressed. I myself was impressed when he told me he wanted $400 for his machine—at a garage sale! We paid ten bucks for the La Pavoni and it's not only a great machine, it's a work of art as well.

These people are a little too proud of their stuff, I thought. But I kept looking around, and picked up a fabric remnant.

Fifty cents, the wife said. Ah, now you’re talking my language, I told her. And she immediately said, you can have that and the kettle for fifty cents.


My favorite sign of the day read “Kitchen wares $0.50 or best offer.”

Favorite product description: a harried young mother (her five year old son was supposed to be in his room in a time out, but kept showing up saying he was ready to listen now and getting sent back to his room) was selling a rain stick. These are great for library storytimes, so I got it for a door prize. She told me that it supposedly is made from a piece of cactus, and these spots (pointing) are where the pointy things were. (Spines, I wanted to tell her, but like her son she wasn’t listening.) “They bang in the pokey things,” she said, “and that’s what makes the noise when whatever is inside falls through.”

Okay. Could be true. And I could never resist any item where pokey things have been banged in. (Marcia, stop sniggering!)

Favorite product description of something I didn’t buy: one young woman had a basket with photos for sale. I idly asked if she was the photographer, and she said yes. “They’re pictures of tree spirits,” she told me. She picked one out of the basket and pointed. “See, here’s the spirit in this one.” I looked. Sure enough, there was a small face among the leaves. She pointed them out in a couple more pictures, including the one with the word Love spelled out on a fallen log. “They live in another dimension,” she said, “but they show themselves to me. I'm doing a book of them.”

Were the pictures real, or had she photoshopped in the little faces? I have no idea, but I felt strongly that she was completely sincere. I'd certainly prefer to live in a world where tree spirits show themselves to women who have yard sales on Saturday morning.

And finally, my favorite grandma story this week: two houses with adjoining driveways had set up sales. At the first, there were a lot of fake flowers and crafty materials, plus at least two dozen baskets with Christmas-y flower arrangements in them. Didn’t see anything I wanted, so I stepped over to the next drive and picked up a very small beaded bag. The young woman said she loved it but it was just too tiny. Twenty five cents. But too tiny for me either. Then the woman from the first sale popped over with another vintage bag in her hand. Turns out they were mother and daughter. The bag the mother had was her mother’s from a long time ago. It was a quarter too, and I decided to buy that one.

“And you get a free basket with any purchase,” they told me, indicating the pile of seasonal arrangements. Ummmm, thanks but no thanks. “Did I see their signs on the street,” they asked then, “or the ad in Craigslist?” Well, I did look at Craigslist, but I definitely saw the signs. “Oh, good, then you get a free basket.” Ummmm, thanks but no thanks. “Grandma used to make those, the grandma whose purse you bought,” the daughter said. And her mother added, “Yeah, she did that for years and years, but now she plays bingo, thank God.”

I spent $16, and here’s what I got:
Containers for buttons (oh boy, I get to play with sorting buttons!). The three glass jars came from the articulate mother along with the rain stick, and the covered, divided dish from Ikea was from the Peru people. The cute little tin full of bobbins is going to lose the bobbins and gain some buttons. No doubt Noll Baxter, who is modeling the jars, will want to help me sort buttons.

More soap (I must be a very clean person, from all these great soaps I've been finding!) in a box I really love, with cloth tapes on the lid that say “What’s the story? Morning glory” and a paper flower. Hmmm, another button container…

The red tea kettle, which looks spiffy on our recently purchased black stove.

China door hanger will be a summer reading prize for work.

Another piece of yard art, or maybe a summer reading prize…

…and a crook for hanging another lantern in the yard. (When the dozen or so candles are all lit out there it looks like fairyland, or at least a fitting place for some tree spirits.)

More buttons.

Inexpensive entertainment.

A new supply of jasmine tea, complete with charming instructions for its brewing.

A silk and cashmere top to sell. I hope. And if it doesn’t sell, I will be comforted by the knowledge that my buying mistakes are in the fifty cent range, while other people’s mistakes cost much more…

A silk Ellen Tracy jacket to sell.

A pair of perfect vintage dresser scarves, with a pulled thread and embroidery design. These are just begging to be curtains, and I don’t have one single small window in my house where I can use them, dang it!

Some vintage paper goods.

And some new-to-me clothes, including a fifty cent cotton sweater from Nordstrom; a bright yellow rayon shirt that turned out to have a couple of holes, but hey, it yielded a pair of good shoulder pads; a cute cotton tee shirt; a dramatic black tunic of soft rayon;

and a brand new, gorgeous wool wrap embroidered with sweeps of flowers. I can hardly wait to wear it to the theatre next winter.

I'll be the woman driving across town in the green convertible, wearing the stunningly orange embroidered wrap. You won’t be able to miss me.


  1. Love your whistling kettle. I was looking at some in a shop near me and they were much dearer than what you paid!
    As usual great finds

  2. the kimono is my fave
    rock it in that convertible

  3. I loved your assortment of buttons. You can really do alot of things with those.

    Any plans yet?

  4. What a kindred spirit! I love your choices, Soooo hard to pick a favorite! (But thank heavens for bingo is right!! LOL)

  5. Hi! Thanks for commenting on my blog! Yep, this is the lifestyle for me, rescues, freebies, yard sale treasures, and thrifted finds!

    I loved reading through your blog and seeing all your great finds! You really are the Queen of Fifty Cents!


  6. I like your new front page! I think I've changed mine 5 or 6 times since I've had my blog. Just can't decide. You and your buttons! Whatta woman!

  7. You could come out from under cover and make these stories into a book! I love your writing style!


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

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