Saturday, November 1, 2008


Oh well, I thought, nothing to buy this morning. I might as well just give up and head on home.

The thrifting gods thrive on such despair; all you have to do is just go ahead and surrender to their power. Around a corner, through a light, and there was a huge ‘Neighborhood Garage Sale’ sign. I've noticed the same sort of thing with the flu, when I've felt horrible for days and days, and finally I just say well, this is it, this is how I'm going to feel for the rest of my life, so I might as well just get used to it. And then the next day I feel way better. You’d think I'd learn and just go straight to despair to get it all over with.

The morning started with a bunch of repeat sales—places I know I've been to recently and they weren’t much to begin with. The first one I actually stopped at was on what is known to me as the Car Bra Street. You see, a couple of years ago I was driving down that street looking for a place to park so I could check out two yard sales. A man dashed into the street and ran after my car, waving his arms, so I stopped. When he caught up, he asked me, “Do you have a bra for your car?”

Now, I don’t know about you, but I have trouble processing a sentence that has the word ‘bra’ in it when it comes from a strange man in the middle of the street. I replied something cogent like, “Um, what?”

“A car bra,” he said. (When I told this story to my friend Marcia, her reaction was, “I always wear the same bra in the car as everywhere else!”) I still looked flummoxed, so he went on, “You know, a cover that you strap on the hood to protect it.” Ooohhhh. No, I didn’t have one of those. “Do you want one? I used to have a car like yours, and I sold it, so I'll just give this to you if you want it.” Which is how I came to own a bra for my car that originally cost way more (the receipt was still in the box) than I've ever spent on a bra for myself, and how I came to call that the Car Bra Street.

Today’s sale on the Car Bra Street was thronged with shoppers. A man asked one of the sellers what an item was. “Oh, that’s for belly dancing,” she said, taking the thing from him and fiddling with it. “It’s a belt. Here, you wear it like this…” She put it on over her jeans and fastened the chain. All other activity ceased as she began to switch her hips and the dangly things on the belt jingled merrily. Everyone burst into applause. I do like a sale with entertainment.

At another stop there were two large jack o’lanterns sitting on the porch, and I complimented the dad and two boys on them. “I made the one with the eyebrows,” said the older boy, who was perhaps eight or nine. His little brother said, “The other one is mine. I wanted to make a classic one.” Which he had—it was perfect. I said I was glad that no one had smashed their pumpkins last night on Halloween, and the dad confessed that he had done some pumpkin smashing when he was in high school. “I guess it's a guy thing,” he told me. So now I'm wondering if it's a family tradition, and his father smashed pumpkins, and these two little boys will be doing it in a few years. I really hope not!

I chatted for a while with a woman who works in the textile industry; her garage was full of fabric samples. Somewhere in the garage is a box of single socks, which she was going to give to me to pass along to my children’s librarians for making puppets, but she couldn’t find the box. But she uses one of our branches, so I told her if she does find it to give it to the children’s librarian there. If she says the magic words “yard sale” they will know exactly who to send the box along to!

A few blocks away I talked to a guy whose wife had left him to mind her sale, so I hauled out the ever-useful story of the husband who sold anything for a dime and has never had to participate in a yard sale again. He liked it; I could see the wheels turning. When I picked up a purse he told me that his wife is the Imelda Marcos of purses. She has closets full. We both shook our heads. I told him I use my fanny pack on weekends, and the rest of the time I use the Coach bag I bought for four dollars at a yard sale (yes, it's a real one!). “Wow, even I've heard of Coach bags,” he said. That was about the moment I noticed what was in his garage. “Wow,” I said, “what a gorgeous car.” He beamed. “It's a 1951 Bentley. Take a look at the front of it.” I walked into the garage. Wow again. “I traded a Model T for it. Can you imagine wanting a Model T instead of this? Of course I'd worked on the T for 8 years, but still.” Just no accounting for taste!

I finally managed to spend $4.15 and brought home:

A new Dana Buchman sweater with the $228 tag still on it. EBay, here I come.

Yet another vase in yet another interesting shape. And may I say I have new respect for anyone who can take good photos of clear glass objects!

A couple of DVDs. I have to laugh these days when I encounter someone who wants two or three dollars for a VHS tape, since the last several DVDs I've bought have been fifty cents each.

An awfully cute picture frame.

This is from the sale where we stood with our mouths hanging open because the pickup truck doing a U-turn had a boy about twelve years old lying on the tailgate. I told the guy having the sale that when the kid falls off the parent will probably sue somebody, and he said the woman driving the truck had just been at his sale and was seriously peculiar.

A lifetime supply of hooks for Christmas ornaments. We won't have to resort to reshaped paper clips this year!

And—the one item I’ve really been looking for—a new billfold. My old (I do mean old!) Dooney & Bourke has gotten really shabby and it's time to retire it.

The new one’s more practical than lovely, but will be fine until something better shows up on some other Saturday morning driveway.

I actually got around to cleaning up my sweet little bench that I bought last week. We had a kit out in the garage that we picked up ages ago (really ages, maybe six or seven years) for furniture rehabilitation, so I decided to try it out.

I had hoped it would cover up the scratches more, but it's way cleaner and looks okay to me.


And recovering the seat made all the difference.

From this:
To this:

I really love this fabric—it's left over from making slipcovers for a chair, and there was enough to make a cover for my ironing board too.

I'd never thought about a fabric cover for that until I saw this tutorial on the Whip Up blog. What an improvement over the gray cover we’ve lived with for years!

And—ta da!—the winner of the Disney lithograph from last week is…Kim from the Gemini Moon blog!

Finally, my favorite overheard conversation of the day: a guy held up a shoe and asked the seller how much, and the seller said, “Did you find the other one?”


  1. I won! Woohoo! Thanks! I haven't won anything for a long time! Is that enough exclamation points!

    I love the Bentley. The pics you took were great.

    I really need to start yard saling. I need to find a small secretary desk or equivalent to place in my small spare bedroom of my new condo. Gotta have somewhere to put all the bills.

  2. I do look forward to your stories every Sunday. Now when I am out thrifting, I look for stories too!

    Someone smashed our pumpkins on Friday night. It just peeved me so to think that someone would do such a dumb thing. They had to come onto my porch and get them too. We had even GROWN them in our garden, so we were sentimental about them. Bad Hallowen prank!

  3. Can you imagine toodling around town on a Sunday aftrenoon in that Bentley? I'd have to pack an old-fashioned picnic basket (w/ crystal & china natch!) & head off into the country.

  4. Bench and ironing board both look like a million bucks!

  5. Oh my gosh the ironing board cover is so cool. I want to make one as soon as I can find my ironing board. LOL

  6. Well.

    I just went into my basement and became embarrassed about my ironing board cover. Most of my upholstry (and i use that term loosely) jobs are stapled. I cannot see that happening with a metal ironing board.


    But, I am inspired.

  7. Fabulous day of finds and things sighted. Cannot believe the garage full of fabric samples or the Bentley!

    The upholstering looks great and good luck with the top on ebay

  8. That bench is super cute! Where are you going to use it?

  9. Oh my, the chair looks awesome after the makeover!

    This past weekend I went to check out a garage sale and they had the most amazing antique furniture and the prices were great... Most pieces needed a little makeover but I could so easily picture them beautifull in my living room..... Unfortunatelly i'm still at my parent's so I couldn't really buy anything. :(

    But i did take some pics which I'll post eventually on Chez-Nina.

    Have a great week :D

  10. Really enjoyed your "sailin'" stories! One of the reasons I love to garage sale is the chatter that goes on and meeting people. Sounds like you made some very fine hauls!

  11. Loved your cute post and love your cute personality even made me laugh in several places and that's a GOOD thing, this early in the morning.
    I love your redo on the bench, too...

  12. The bench turned out really well! I need one just like it for my sewing table.

    PS I tagged you on my blog.

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  14. Thanks for visting my blog fellow thrifter! Elizabeth

  15. What a fun blog! I found you via a link on SvelteStuff.

    I haven't been thrifting very much lately, and yard sales are pretty much done for me until next year.

  16. A blog about thrifting? Great! I especially enjoyed the snippet about the Bentley. It must be a guy thing.

  17. I am sure there is a way for me to share my thoughts other than posting a comment, but alas, I am new to the blogging world and I have to plead ignorance. Yes, our benches are kissing cousins indeed, but I am more excited that you pointed out this post to me. It seems you and I share more than just the thrill of the hunt for a newfound treasure, but also the thrill of the Yard Sale Encounter. *wink* (You know what I'm talkin' 'bout.)


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

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