Saturday, January 31, 2009


Our weather must have been ashamed of itself for raining on my parade last weekend. Not only did it clear up but now it's quite warm. (I know those of you like Shara of the Monkeybox blog who have just survived a huge ice storm probably want to charter a plane to come and clobber me for saying that. But just charter the plane and then we’ll all go garaging together, okay?) I was able to get away from work early on Friday, so I found a couple of sales on Craigslist to check out on my way home. Got good stuff at both. Got more good stuff this morning. We’re simple folk here…life is good when there are garage sales!

Had fun chatting with the couple having the first sale yesterday. They are the only people I have ever met who knew about the great bed and breakfast deal you can get from Stash tea. For three proofs of purchase and $3.95 you get a coupon for a free night at a B&B (you buy one night, second is free). We have stayed at a number of wonderful places—used to take mini vacations to the Sonoma County wine country—and I'm one UPC short of sending off for the coupon this year. Can't remember how it came up in their garage, but soon we were comparing the places we’ve stayed. You would have thought we were the oldest of friends. The husband said something about being a Mickey Mouse collector, and the other woman shopping at the time said her husband is a fireman at Disneyland. Now, I get to tell people that my husband is a storyteller (yes, the man lies for a living!), but next to that, being able to claim he’s a fireman at Disneyland would be the coolest.

The next sale was at a house being extensively renovated; my impression was the older gent had moved into senior housing, and his son was down from Seattle to work on the house. They seemed rather harried, and I'm not sure why anyone would hold a sale at the same time they were renovating, but they were selling tools so maybe the renovating was finished. I bought 8 CDs from them, mostly for my husband. He helped me with a big work project this week, and some Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk were just the right thank-you. (What I really want to know is why I didn’t get to have a cool name like Thelonious?)

I was a bit miffed by the number of signs that led nowhere this morning. I suspect that people put up their signs the night before, then you follow them early in the day, and the sale is nowhere to be found. (And it wasn’t that early either, well after 7:00.) Grrrr! I also ran across three or four sellers who were not clear about two of the basic tenets of yard sales: 1) your purpose is to actually sell your stuff and get it out of your house, and 2) bargaining with your customers is not a bad thing. I heard one lady announce staunchly when someone offered her less than her asking price, “One thing about me, I never change my price.” She sounded so darned proud of herself. I left before I could be tempted to point out that she might sell more if she asked a little more than she expected to get, and then made the customer happy by coming down. Of course, the fact that she had nothing for sale that I was interested in also helped speed me on my way!

Another lady was rock solid on her prices, but she at least was entertaining. She was sitting in her garage with another couple, and the husband was a wise cracker. He made some smart remark as he got up from his chair to go into the house for something, and his wife commented that she was going to smack him pretty soon. The rock solid lady said drily, “Well, don’t hold back on my account.” I didn’t buy anything there either, but the laugh was free.

Met up with my Saturday morning friend Linda at the first place I bought anything. We found something neither of us had ever seen on a driveway before:

There seemed to be about six people having the sale, and no one knew prices for anything. Linda found a pair of overalls for her daughter, and a whole chorus began as one person asked another how much the clothing was. The question finally bounced to the teenage boy in the garage, who headed inside to ask yet another person. I told Linda I'd encountered the same thing at another sale recently, and someone had finally said really loud, “You’ll have to ask mom about that, and she’s in the bathroom.” You could roll your eyes and say, “Kids!” but those kids were in their thirties!

I did have to roll my eyes at another sale. The lady next to me looking at stuff told the seller that the box of hanging files he was selling had a bunch of personal files still in them that he should probably remove. He went and looked and sure enough, all kinds of stuff were there. And how did he thank her for her kindness in helping protect him from identity thieves? She had picked out several things to buy, asked him for the price, and he picked up a dish from her pile and said he didn’t really want to sell that.


I spent $21 on my two day yard sale spree. Zowie. But hey, I stopped at the grocery store on the way home, and one thing I saw in the produce aisle made me very happy. Remember back in September when we were given a whole lot of kumquats from some nice folks who had a yard sale? Wish we could have weighed what they gave us to multiply by this!
And just look at what I found this weekend!

The 8 CDs (one is a 2-CD set, so 9 in all) account for almost half. But I looked them up to see what I would have spent buying them new from Amazon: $105 without tax or shipping. I win!

From the bed & breakfast couple, I got these magnets to use at work (we clip notes to our office door frames with them) and a spiffy and unusual spoon rest.

Finally found a biggish mug that I like, and two dozen tea bags to go with it.

A denim visor to shade my eyes in the car.

A very heavy red wrought iron candle holder thingie. I'm betting it could creatively hold something else, and will let you know what I come up with!

At the same sale I splurged a dollar on this tealight chandelier. It seems to want to be made more wonderful; I'm open to suggestions.

Looks good on my patio, don’t you think?

I'm hoping to sell this absolutely gorgeous 100% alpaca yarn, but if it doesn’t go I'll be happy just petting it. Very soft.

Some of you may remember a post last summer where I bought a lawnmower; I almost missed the sign and had to turn around and go back. Same thing happened at the same corner today—saw the sign at the last second. This sale was about a block from the lawnmower folks, an older couple who were selling what was left in the house after their aunt and uncle moved to senior housing. Apparently they’d been at it all week and just wanted to be done with it; prices are marked, they said, and everything’s at least half off. Half off at a garage sale is good for me! Didn’t think I was going to find anything since it was so picked over, but there it was in the back of the garage.
My new vintage red rocking chair. Picked a pile of paper out of it and sat down, and I could tell immediately that my butt had come home. It's not perfect—there’s a crack in the seat—but in spite of that it's rock solid.

Very heavy. I really wonder what the wood is; it's too bad stripping paint is such a horrible job.
I do love the color. Needs cleaning and perhaps some embellishing. Don’t you think it has a sort of Mary Engelbreit vibe? And I didn’t pay the $10 sticker price or even half—they seemed perfectly happy with the three bucks I offered.

Predictably my husband took one look at it when I got home and said, “Where are you going to put it?” (He’s wonderful, but he’s not perfect.) Don’t know where for sure yet, but it will look great wherever I want my butt to be!

Sunday, January 25, 2009


Rain on Saturday morning meant no yard sales, the wimps. Even the ad in Craigslist that promised an amazing sale, rain or shine…lied. But that’s okay, we need the rain more than I need more stuff (she said with only the slightest hint of bitterness in her voice).

I'm trying to put my finds to use, so let me show you a few of those. A couple of weeks ago at the First Sale of the Year Extravaganza I picked up a couple of wall racks.

I was able to get the doorknob one mounted on a wall at work, behind the door. No, it is not hung vertically, but I can't get Blogger to load the picture right!

Now when I arrive in the morning I hang up my purse and any wrap I might be wearing. Because my purse is there, I don’t forget the wrap when I go home, which I've done a gazillion times in the past. Does anyone else end up with a whole bunch of sweaters and jackets in their office because you don’t need it in the afternoon? Not a problem in a colder climate, as I recall.

My extremely nice husband took down the towel bar that was in my bathroom and hung the white cabinet thingy for me. I'm liking it.
I no longer wear makeup so my toiletries are minimal, and it's nice that they’re easy to grab. I felt that something more was needed, hence the chickens.

I'm getting the feeling of a grand chicken love story being enacted, narrated by Chicken Socks.

Sometimes I end up using my found treasures, but not in the way I expected. Back in September I got these vases, intending to create some kind of totem for the garden.
Hasn’t happened yet, and my husband (our resident flower arranger) really likes the largest to use as a vase, of all things. A few weeks ago I ran across pictures of terrariums and began thinking about making one. My research indicated that African violets are good candidates, and Saturday when I was doing errands (NOT looking for yard sales in the rain, indeed not!) I stopped in at a local nursery and found absolutely adorable miniatures.

I had some Irish moss left from this project:

This planter came from a yard sale a year or two ago (I remember the husband had to go inside to ask the wife if he could sell it to me at the price I proposed; evidently she said yes). The little tree was part of my Christmas d├ęcor, picked up at Trader Joe’s, and the blue glass thingy was originally a handmade glass oil lamp. The wick part had been lost, so I bought it for a quarter. I used a dab of the sticky poster-holding stuff I found a few weeks ago to place a glass pebble over the hole in the lamp to keep water out.

I figured three of these tiny plants would be about right for the largest vase. Nope. Three is about right for three vases! I ended up using one of the smaller vases I bought in September, the bucket shaped one found in November, and a glass block I've had for years.

For now I'm using the recent glass plate as a lid on the round vase.
It's a little too large but gives it a sort of mushroom vibe, don’t you think? And one of these days I'll find a smaller plate to replace it. The other vases will get lids as soon as I cut up this plastic box.
Bought some new undies recently (yes, I actually bought something in a STORE! Don’t be too disappointed in me, it's so hard to find undies any other way.) and I just knew the box would come in handy for something.

So please think good thoughts for my terrariums to help them thrive. Or maybe good thoughts are not really what they need. A year or so ago I was at a moving sale where the lady was selling a whole bunch o’ fabulous African violets. She was asking more for them then I wanted to pay, but I exclaimed over their beauty and we talked for a few minutes. I told her I've never had much luck growing them. “You know,” she said, “these did well for quite a while, and then they all just stopped blooming. Nothing I did seemed to help. Finally, one day I just marched in the kitchen where they all were and told them that they had one month to bloom or I was throwing them all away. And within a month they were all blooming again and haven’t stopped.”

Now, where else but on someone’s driveway on Saturday morning would I ever have learned about tough love for African violets?

Sunday, January 18, 2009


I was bemused the other day when I ran across this picture on Martha Stewart’s website:

Dang, I thought, she sneaked into my house to borrow my pot!

This is an YiXing pot, picked up several years ago at a yard sale in San Mateo, where we used to live. The original owner said she made a trip to China right after it was opened to trade with the US, and this was the souvenir she brought back. We love this thing, which started us on our little collection of YiXing (pronounced ee-shing) pots, now up to four. It's one of the things I always look for at sales, and find so rarely. I'm guessing Martha probably paid more than two bucks for her pot. Of course, if she did sneak in to borrow mine, she also sneaked it back again. I'm betting Edward helped.
He's a very helpful boy. This is how he helps with the laundry.

Went garaging Saturday with two friends, Marcia and Diane, and we had a ball. Everyone found good stuff—Marcia bought a set of Mills Brothers albums and a lovely silver chocolate pot set; Diane scored big time with a nice end table for her living room, purse, skirt from France (more on that), framed picture…I can't even remember all she got. I came home with four new things; I'm happy to report that I was better at remembering my resolution not to buy every good deal this year. And thinking of the things I almost bought and didn’t…they were good things, but I'm just as glad I left them. Whew—no regrets!

The first sale was two-in-one—a nice young couple had their wares set up on the double driveway, and an older lady (perhaps the mother of one of them) was sitting in a chair on the lawn guarding a collection of clothing spread out on a sheet. She was a hoot—bright red dyed hair, rhinestone sunglasses—but perhaps not as ready to part with her wardrobe as she needed to be. Diane overheard her arguing with a customer about the price of a shirt. “Why, I paid $150 for that!” she exclaimed. Our reaction was 1) why would anyone pay $150 for a shirt, and 2) it's a yard sale!

We encountered the other end of the spectrum a few stops later. Not only were these people ready to part with their cast off clothing, they were ready to party with them as well. When we walked up, the husband of the original owner of this skirt was showing off the wares. In fact I think he would have modeled every piece of clothing on the driveway with the slightest bit of encouragement.
He was quite happy to pose for a picture, which I said was SO going in my blog. The paint-spattered boots are the perfect accessory, don’t you think?

After our photo session he draped the skirt over the side mirror on the truck parked in the drive. I sidled over to look at it—gorgeous light weight wool classic pleated skirt from France. Sidled back over to Diane and told her to take a look, seemed to be about her size. Price was a dollar—or if she would also take the guy who modeled it, they’d pay her twenty bucks. The two ladies having the sale swore he is a really, really nice guy. Diane, having a really nice guy at her house already, declined the offer (we didn’t have room for him in the car anyway). He professed disappointment both at not getting a new home and the loss of his pleated skirt, so I picked up another skirt from the pile on the driveway and handed it to him. He promptly pulled it on and began to dance around. As we left, they called out to come back soon. Not a chance! we called back, but we all waved to each other as we drove away.

I spent $4.00, but got twenty five cents back. The last thing I found was this box:

It's quite dirty, but I'm picturing it cleaned up and lined with some interesting cloth. When open, the lid looks like a little stage; maybe I can make it into some kind of art piece.
There was some random junk inside, including a handwritten note that says Pure Play (I'm sure that’s just red ink on it…) some Mardi Gras necklaces, and a quarter.
I have found money a couple of times while garaging, but I don’t think I ever bought something with money in it before. And yes, it's only a quarter, but remember, my husband’s Land's End cashmere sweater cost a quarter!

Also found another pair of embroidered pillow cases. These look like Grandma finished them and they were put away and never used, but rest assured they will be used now!

I was able to replace my hummingbird feeder, which recently bit the dust. We have quite a few hummers year round, and I've missed feeding them.
Unlike buying a feeder in a store, this one came with handwritten instructions for making your own hummer food, rather than advertising pre-mixed sugar water.
I love hummers, and they do love to be fed. Last summer one day the feeder was empty, and a hummer kept flying back and forth from right in front of my face over to the feeder. You could practically see her hands on her little hips and her foot tapping impatiently. Come on, get the danged feeder filled!

I absolutely adore this piece, a two-inch high silver cat. Made by Dansk, wonderfully abstract—and heavy. Can't be solid silver, it weighs almost half a pound! It was pretty tarnished, so after taking the before picture…
…I went looking for the silver polish. Which is lost. How in the world did we lose a tin of silver polish from under the sink? Undeterred, I used my backup silver polish: toothpaste. Yes, my dears, it does a dandy job removing tarnish

and your shiny object smells pleasantly minty afterward as well!

Friday, January 16, 2009


The package of goodies I won in Llyn M’s 200th Post Giveaway arrived yesterday! It was such fun to open the box and find not only the book, handsome bag holder, and vintage cake decorating kit that I was expecting,
but a lovely card (how did Llyn know what I look like?!),
ornaments, soap, note pad and candy as well, all beautifully wrapped in bright paper and cute little bags.

Llyn, thanks so much, this really made my day.

Now, if y’all will excuse me I've got to go bake a cake to decorate…
Pin It button on image hover