Monday, February 23, 2009


“Whoa,” I said to my husband. “You gotta read this.” (Never pass up a chance to impress your husband!)

We stared at the computer monitor together. It was a post on the Thrifty Chicks blog, and the second paragraph reads: “Queen of Fifty Cents:
This woman deserves a crown for her dedication to thrift. I am certain she is bordering on legend on the yard sale circuit of Southern California. I imagine her secretly leaving a calling card, like the Pink Panther, at each yard sale notifying the host that she was present. I then imagine the host pondering for days on end which customer she was. How apropos.”

Wow. Thanks, Thrifty Chicks! They have bestowed a Lemonade Award on me and four others.

I’ll have to do some research…is this the idea that when life give you lemons you make lemonade? Or perhaps they think I am sweet and tart and so refreshing!

I feel extremely honored, not just by that glowing encomium, but because of who the Thrifty Chicks are. Amy and her cohorts are thrift shopping geniuses. I mean, I do pretty well at this, but dang, every time I head over to their blog their slide shows of thrifted finds just knock me out with envy.

I love the idea of leaving a calling card at the sales I go to. Hmmm, I even know the graphic I want to use, but it's on my work computer, so I'll have to wait to design my QoFC card. Soon though!

The Thrifty Chicks are also busy promoting a petition to establish National Thrift Store Month. Now there’s a worthy celebration! If you’re a Facebook member (or want to be), you can sign the petition here. Other non-Facebook options are reputed to be in the works. And after you sign the petition, keep an eye out for opportunities to let other folks know how very cool thrifting is. Whether your venue is the thrift store, the flea market, or someone’s driveway on Saturday morning, there are adventures in shopping out there just waiting for you.

Now if you’ll ‘scuse me, I need to go read those other Lemonade blogs!

Sunday, February 22, 2009


I decided this was a bagel and cream cheese morning, rather than a cinnamon roll morning, so as I headed out on the garaging trail I stopped at the local bagel place. I gave the cashier a twenty, and asked if she could give me mostly ones for change, since I was headed for garage sales. She lit up—I had found another garager. As she counted out my singles, she said to the a guy picking up his breakfast, “She’s going to garage sales!” Now he lit up. “There are two over on my street,” he said. The cashier almost forgot to give me the fifty one cents that was part of my change. “Hey, that’s a new outfit,” I said. She laughed, then said she’d never thought of looking at clothes before. I started telling them some of the things I've found, and by the time my bagel was toasted we had two converts to thrifting. Plus breakfast.

Great way to start the day.

I'd already found something to laugh about on Craiglist: an ad for a “fabulouse” moving sale. Last week I chuckled over the ad with “an inconclusive list of what will be selling.”

At one stop, when I asked if they were having fun yet, the wife said, “Nobody asked me if I wanted to do this!” She was perfectly cheerful about it, not grumpy at all. I told them the tale of my friend’s husband who had sold anything for a dime and has never had to mind a sale again, and she really liked that. So I asked if the picture frame they were selling was a dime, and she said, no, but it was fifty cents. Turns out there were two, and I bought them both. Aren’t these gorgeous?

Even the little hinge thingies on the back have glitz!

At another sale I saw some handmade paper loosely rolled up and laying on the ground. I looked at it, almost picked it up (I really love paper) but then I thought of the mulberry paper already in my closet and resisted. I was so glad I did. A middle aged Chinese guy found it and asked how much. It was a dollar. He looked happily stunned. He said he is an artist and does Chinese calligraphy on this kind of paper. The lady having the sale said it had been in her mother in law’s estate. MIL died in the 80s, and the seller didn’t even know what this stuff was but always thought that someday she’d find out. So today she found out, and I think she was a thrilled as the calligrapher.

I spent $12 and along with the frames I brought home:

7 handmade lampwork beads—don’t know what I'll use them for yet, but at a quarter apiece I was willing to speculate.

At the same sale I saw this box as I was leaving.
The contents were all jumbled but I saw Fimo, so I bought it. Turns out to have two dozen blocks of Fimo in wonderful colors, two or three kinds of Fimo varnish…
…plus two boxes of sealing wax and three seals. And the Lucite shoe box it's all packed in would cost as much as I paid for everything. I have some playing with clay in my future.

Signed vintage linen tablecloth.

Isn’t this adorable?

All hand stitched, mounted on board. I think it originally had three of these…I'm guessing potholders.

The seller said her mother in law had made it, she thought in the Fifties, but I think it looks older than that. Anybody want to venture a guess?

Two little chalkware chickens—to add to that chicken vibe in my bathroom!

Don’t think anyone uses Rolodexes anymore, but these cards will be great by the phone for taking notes.

I am now prepared for the next time Edward gets matted fur behind his ears (hopefully never).

I'm always a sucker for a cute depiction of reading together.
This is a nightlight but the innards are missing, but I bet I can find a replacement (as I did for the Pooh & Piglet nightlight back in September).

I picked up these earrings…
…so I can use the posts to remake these.
They just don’t work with the wires. There, isn’t this better?

Lastly, I am totally thrilled with these cushions for the chairs on my patio. I didn’t hesitate one second over $3 for two of them. (Already had the model on the premises.) Looked them up on Lowe’s website when I got home. You can buy some just like them—for $58 each. Sheesh. Do people really pay sixty bucks for a cushion? A handsome Edward dog, maybe, but a cushion?
I think I got a fabulouse deal!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


This is a PS to the bra-buying saga I recounted a couple of posts ago. To recap, I ordered three bras, two arrived, one didn’t. After too much time elapsed I entered into a very slow process of receiving that last bra. By the time it finally got here they had already sent a replacement, so I ended up with two.

The joke on me was, of the three styles I ordered, the one I got two of was the least comfortable! In fact it was decidedly snug. There was no way I was going to send them back—it was simply more than I could face.

But wearing an uncomfortable bra …nope, couldn’t go there. Then I had a brainstorm. I had another bra I was getting rid of now that I had the new ones. So I cut off the hook section and attached it to one of the new ones, and the eye section for the other one. Five minutes with my trusty old Singer 201 and I have two bras that are now perfectly comfy.


Sunday, February 15, 2009


I always wake up early. Very early. Like, 4 a.m. early. I used to figure I was a dairy farmer in my last life, but by now I've decided I was probably the cow.

I was delighted when 4 a.m. rolled around Saturday morning and I opened my eyes to see moonlight streaming through the Himalayan bamboo outside my bedroom window. Moonlight now meant sunshine later, which would mean…yard sales! It rained all day yesterday, so I was resigned to a second weekend without my thrifting fix. Those of you who travel the thrifting road know what I'm talking about. It’s our favorite form of gambling, and we get antsy when we can't be out there perusing tables of used items on strangers’ driveways. Unlike gambling, however, we actually get something for our quarters. Today’s haul was light (often the case on a holiday weekend), but for $1.50 I came home with $40 worth of stuff.

Beats playing a slot machine any day.

I had my fingers crossed that I would run across some fusible webbing (used for sewing). And there it was at the very first sale—a whole 5 yard bolt of Wonder Under.

How much, I asked, and the guy said fifty cents. You speak my language, I told him. A lady near me giggled. I poked around but didn’t find anything else and went to pay. “Let’s see, that was seven dollars, right?” he deadpanned. “That’s right,” I agreed, handing him two quarters. Just then I noticed that his sweatshirt was emblazoned with a Comedy Central logo. So at least he was correctly labeled. And I have what will likely be a lifetime supply of this stuff.

I needed it to repair a spot on a sleeve that got splashed with some bleach.

I appliqu├ęd a small heart over it. Yes, wearing my heart on my sleeve, as the saying goes. The fabric was a scrap left over from the Ulla Popken skirt I remodeled a few days ago.

BTW, if you ever buy this stuff, it works way better to remove the paper backing and use parchment paper instead. Way, way better!

The next stop was a little further west than I normally drive, but there were so few sales I decided to check it out. Lots of stuff strewn across the yard, much of it still in boxes, completely disorganized and hard to check out. The guy running this sale was as affable as a Labrador puppy. I spotted a CD I wanted and asked how much.
“If you buy one,” he told me, “it's a dollar. But if you buy two, it's still a dollar.” I raised an eyebrow. “I want to get rid of stuff,” he added. I said if I couldn’t find a second CD I’d like to discuss his pricing policy. “Oh, okay, fifty cents,” he said. Those Lab puppies can never hold out. I found a fun paper airplane kit for a door prize, and now we were up to a dollar, which seemed to make him very happy.

When I finished looking around and went to pay him, he was talking to another guy. “Did you see that?” he said. “That guy just left without paying me.” We shook our heads in disgust. Seriously, stealing from a yard sale is so low. “Did you see how fast he drove away?”

“Here’s my dollar,” I said, handing it to him. “And I promise I'll drive away slowly.”

Last stop was a moving sale, and the family seemed like a really nice bunch. Have you ever been to a sale where the people didn’t get along, the parents snapping at the kids and making snarky remarks to each other? I walk away from those. These people were the opposite. There was a glass topped coffee table that a couple of people were looking at, priced at $25. The teenage daughter finally sold it for $20, and called to her parents, “Twenty bucks! I got twenty bucks for the table.” Mom and dad both cheered. A couple of minutes later the mother hollered out, “We’ve got a work bench and table saw in here!” Dad chimed in, “And a partridge…” and the rest of the family sang, “…in a pear tree!” I was about ready to ask if they’d like to adopt me, they sounded like so much fun. I picked up a couple of packets of stickers for a door prize, and the daughter told me they were free. My favorite word, after fifty cents!

When I got home I found that the box of goodies I won last week (without knowing I'd entered!) had arrived from Old Time Me Artist. Sher, thank you! She sent me this darling wicker tea cup and saucer (I think it has a small blooming plant in its future),
a lovely little pitcher (pancakes for breakfast tomorrow, so I can pour maple syrple from this),
a packet of notecards,
and this sweet vintage apron, which I believe was designed for wash day. The entire apron is a big pocket for holding your clothespins. I love it!

I'm back in the market for a largish mug. I was willing to live with not being able to put this one in the microwave (even 30 seconds made the cup so hot I burned my fingers).
But this morning the entire handle came off, and that I cannot put up with! Fortunately it only had cold water in it at the time, and I was standing in front of the sink.
So now I've broken two mugs in my search for the perfect one. Third time will be the charm, I just know it.

Thursday, February 12, 2009


I recently made a brief foray into retail shopping. Found some undies on sale at TJ Maxx, and figured I should upgrade the bra supply as well. A few days later a catalog arrived with my favorite brand on sale. Went to their website to order, but the sale prices there were higher than in the catalog. So I picked up the dreaded telephone (I think hating the phone has a genetic component, my sister is the same way) and ordered. About 10 days later a package arrived, holding two of the three bras I had ordered. The paperwork promised the other would arrive shortly.

I waited.

It didn't arrive.

I finally sent a message via their website explaining the problem. I would appreciate receiving my order soon.

The next day I received this email:
Date: Mon, 2 Feb 2009
Subject: Email Research (KMM7396312I15977L0KM)
Thank you for your email. We have looked at your issue but will need to get additional assistance from our Customer Service department. We appreciate your patience and will respond back to you as soon as possible.

Days passed. I emailed again:
Fri 2/06/09
I have received no further information from you, and I have not received my merchandise. I found my order confirmation number: 696-904-253 Missing item: SPORTS BRA 1 CH1691CH - WHITE INSTOCK Original order was on 1/13/09 and should have been delivered within 2 weeks (your promise). Please resend immediately, and I think you should upgrade the shipping on this item since I have waited so long. Thank you for your immediate attention.

Later that day:
Subject: Thank you for your inquiry. (KMM7411890I15977L0KM)
We have received your email. Your email is in queue to be answered by the next available agent. We will respond to you as soon as possible.

Sat 2/07/09 12:13 AM
I have now waited another 24 hours and received no further information. Please send me my merchandise.

Later that day:
Subject: Thank you for your inquiry. (KMM7411890I15977L0KM)
We have received your email. Your email is in queue to be answered by the next available agent. We will respond to you as soon as possible.

That was Saturday. I dashed out to the mailbox between rain showers and a miracle had occured--my long awaited package was there. The next day I sent another email.

Sun 2/08/09
I am sure this will receive nothing more than the same automated response I have now gotten several times. I finally received my missing bra in yesterday’s mail, which according to its paperwork was sent more than three weeks ago. I find this hard to believe but I'm sure you will conveniently blame the post office. Who knows. Just in case an actual human ever reads this, I want you to know that I like the merchandise so well I was planning to order more. However, because of the nonresponsiveness of your so-called customer service, I will never buy anything from you again. I will also tell any number of other people not to buy from you.

If the problem has been that your customer service is geared to the telephone, all I can do is remind you that this is 2009 and smart companies do business in numerous formats. The only reason I ordered my bras over the telephone is that the sale price on your website was higher than in the paper catalog. Which strikes me as utterly ludicrous. Where do your costs lie, in printing thousands of wasteful catalogs that end up in thousands of landfills, or in producing a web site?
In annoyance,

Later that day:
Subject: Thank you for your inquiry. (KMM7411890I15977L0KM)
We have received your email. Your email is in queue to be answered by the next available agent. We will respond to you as soon as possible.

Still later:
Date: Sun, 8 Feb 2009
Subject: Acknowledgement and Apology (KMM7419853I15977L0KM)
Dear Customer,
Thank you for contacting us one more time.

We do apologize that you have been given such poor service. This being Sunday, the Customer Service Department is closed so I just wanted you to know your message has been sent top priority for action or response tomorrow. We really don't want to lose you as a customer.

We try to keep the prices the same in the catalog and on the website. However, the catalogs are printed several months in advance and therefore, price increases and decreases may not be reflected in catalogs as quickly as they can be on our website. As always, you are given the opportunity to order online and use the catalog.To get the price listed in the catalog, please click on the "Catalog Quick Order" at the bottom of your screen. Key in the DC #, click on submit and then key in the item description, size, color and dollar amount shown in the catalog.

Thank you for corresponding with

Monday passed.

Tuesday, 2/10
Well, Wendy, if you actually exist, I thank you for your response. It even gave me a bit of hope that my "message has been sent top priority for action or response tomorrow." Silly me. Of course there was no response the next day. So you may still count me among your former customers, not because of your merchandise or prices, but solely because of your customer service, and really, it hurts to even call it that. Good bye; and Wendy, if I were you I'd be looking for a better place to work.

Tue 2/10/09
We have received your email. Your email is in queue to be answered by the next available agent. We will respond to you as soon as possible.

Wed 2/11/09
Dear Customer,

Thank you for your recent e-mail letting us know that you have not received part of your order. Our records show that your delivery time is up. Therefore, we have processed a replacement to be shipped to you. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused. Let us know if we can be of further assistance. Thank you for corresponding with
Sincerely, Leandrea

Dear I have received your email. Your email is in queue to be answered by my next available alternate persona. We will respond to you as soon as possible.

Thu 2/12/09
Dear Customer,

Thank you for your e mails. We apologize for our delay and your inconvenience. Thank you for letting us know that the initial shipment did arrive. They had reshipped a replacement and it should arrive tomorrow. Please keep the extra shipment, complimentary for all of the inconvenience. Please let us know if we can be of further assistance.
Sincerely, Wanda

Dear Wanda,
Thank you so much for the complimentary bra. You can be of no further assistance, and rest assured I will not be bothering your company ever again. I am going back to shopping on driveways.
The Queen of Fifty Cents

Sunday, February 8, 2009


Took my husband to the airport Thursday morning (he was a teller at the Timpanogas Storytelling Conference this weekend).
On the way he mentioned that it was supposed to start raining again. We looked out at the warm sunshine bathing the view and laughed. “I don’t think so,” I said. So of course by the time his plane took off the gray clouds had rolled in, and by the time he got to Utah the rain was coming down outside my window. As a weather prophet I get no points at all. And the weather gets no points for furthering my yard sale career. Didn’t even go out to a couple of sales that promised to be there rain or shine. I fell for that a couple of weeks ago. Fool me twice…

In keeping with my resolution to use my garaging finds, I remodeled this skirt and blouse I picked up last summer for a buck and a half.

They’re by Ulla Popken, and judging from her website would have been about $70 each retail. Rayon with embroidery and some tasteful sequins. The tag said dry clean.

I don’t dry clean.

I don’t like the smell of the chemicals, don’t think they’re healthy to be around, and I don’t like the cost. My frugal self can't quite see buying something for less than a dollar and then spending to dry clean it over and over. So any yard sale clothing that says dry clean, I hand wash. Almost never has this backfired, and the item or two that shrank just got donated. They weren’t ruined, just smaller!

The top on this set shrank just a little, and kind of selectively. After I washed it and dried it on the line, it was a little snug, especially the sleeves. Heck, I thought, but then I started considering the skirt. I have short legs, so lots of skirts hit the tops of my shoes if I don’t shorten them or hike them up under my armpits. This skirt was quite long, but has a ruffled tier on the bottom, so not a candidate for shortening at the hem. However, skirts can easily be shortened from the top. So Saturday morning I picked open the elastic waist on the skirt, cut off about 5”, sewed a new casing, reinserted elastic and voila, the skirt was a length I like. Then I picked open the side and underarm seams on the blouse and inserted the cut-off skirt material. I admit picking out seams is boring, but I did it while watching a movie so it didn’t drive me mad. Since the fabric is black, I fancy the addition is barely noticeable. And if anyone ever comments on it I'll just say yes, I did add in some fabric, aren’t you clever to have noticed.

So now I have this comfy and (I think) spiffy dress to wear.
I used the same technique a while back on this Jones New York silk skirt. It was a couple of sizes too small, but cut on the bias and too long, so when I shortened it at the waist it was perfect.

Now that the weekend is nearly over and it's almost time to go back to the airport to pick up my husband, the sun has come out. Can't deny we need the rain, but I'd rather have it on a weekday if you please!

When I finished my sewing on Saturday I went out in the back yard with the dogs between showers. A couple of daffodils had been knocked over by the rain, so I brought them in and put them in one of my yard sale vases. Hmmm, rain plus sunshine equals daffodils. That seems okay by me.

Thursday, February 5, 2009


I'm the first to admit I don’t always pay full attention to what I'm doing. Okay, even the slightest bit of attention. The latest evidence is that I had the delightful experience of winning a giveaway this week—and I didn’t even know I had entered! Sher over at the Oldtime Me Artist blog left a message saying she had a surprise for me. Little did she know how much of a surprise. I left a comment on her post a few days ago in which she shows a crocus making its way into the light. I had no idea she was running a month long giveaway, but as the happy winner, Sher, I think it's a great idea. I think she's doing another giveaway for February so get on over there and leave a comment! I'm so excited that I've won a vintage apron and several other things.

Entering a blog giveaway is not my first, nor largest, unconscious act. I think that honor would have to go to the time I climbed Mt. Hood without knowing it.

Long, long ago (she said, putting on her storyteller voice) we lived in the beautiful far away land of Oregon. We heard or read somewhere about a little forest service campground called Tilly Jane, located it on a map, packed up our 1969 Chevy van, grabbed the dog, and off we went. The map we used to get there was our regular Rand McNally book of the entire country. Good maps but not very detailed. I remember there was a little x on the map labeled Mt. Hood, and it was over there and we were over here, and I figured it was the next mountain over. We turned off the highway and started up the last 14 miles, which was a one lane gravel road. Took about an hour to go those 14 miles, but it was worth it. Tilly Jane Campground was absolutely beautiful. You parked at the base of the camp and carried your stuff in, and we were the only ones there. Trees about a mile tall, silence except for the birds, and air so clean and pure you felt you had just discovered what breathing was all about.

We set up our camp and decided to explore a bit. On the far side of the campground a trail meandered upward, with a small sign reading “To the Summit.” It was latish in the afternoon by now, so we thought we’d take a little stroll to the top of the mountain we were on so we could look over at Mt. Hood as the sun went down. We could see its snow covered top in the distance, beyond the ridge we took to be the top of our mountain.

Can you tell we grew up on the prairies?

The trail crossed a little creek, then started to climb in earnest. And climb. And climb and climb and climb. My husband and the dog were bounding upward like a couple of mountain goats, with me toiling along, getting further and further behind. Let’s just say I'm not of a body type built for mountain hiking. Every step became an act of sheer will, and my head began to pound. I’m sure I had read about the effect of altitude on oxygen but as far as I knew that was in the Himalayas or somewhere, not where I was. (Tilly Jane is at 5000 feet—I just looked it up.) I finally said enough and sat down on a rock, heaving the thin air up and down in my lungs. Steven circled back to check on me. “You go on, I'll wait here,” I told him. He said he’d just be a few more minutes.

So I sat alone on whatever the heck mountain it was, watching the shadows lengthen in the immense distance below. My legs began to feel like part of my body again, and my heart slowed to its normal thumpety thump. After a bit I heard footsteps, and Steven and Kate joined me on my rock.

“Guess what,” he said. “That ridge up there is just a ridge, not the top.”

“Oh, yes?” I said politely.

“Yeah. It swoops down a little and then goes up to the snow. We’re on Mt. Hood.”

I felt a bit silly and very Midwestern all the way back to our camp.

A couple of years later we camped again at Tilly Jane with some friends, and they took our picture at just about the spot I'd watched the sunset. And life has been full of surprises ever since.

Monday, February 2, 2009


Had an amazing experience the other day. As I mentioned back in November I have searches saved on Google Reader that tell me when someone in the blogosphere has written about thrifting or garage saling. (That’s how I've found a number of you!) So on Friday I came across this:
From garage saling – Google Blog Search by unknown
My sister in CA has great luck buying designer clothes at garage sales and sells on ebay. She is more of an occasional seller so that format works for her. She has the best blog about garage saling, a link is on my page ...

Wait a minute, I thought. That’s me. I'm the sister in California. And I was right, it was my sis Midcentury Marilyn participating in a discussion group for sellers of antiques and vintage stuff. It just felt so weird to turn up in my own Reader like that! Hmmm, perhaps that was my fifteen seconds of fame. (I know, it used to be fifteen minutes, but I keep hearing that everything moves faster these days.) So thanks, Midcentury M, for the plug and the surprise! I guess it's true that you can run but you can't hide!

The Thrifty Chicks are doing a fun promo this week. Amy is giving away thrifted items in exchange for various pledges. Today you’re supposed to pledge you’ll visit a thrift store this week. I’m hoping she’ll give me dispensation to substitute a yard sale or two. Or five. She’s a real evangelist for thrifting, and dang, does she find great stuff. If you’d like to feel some pure, unadulterated thrifting envy, watch the slide shows on her site of her thrifted finds.

Speaking of thrifted finds…my butt is sittin’ in that red rocker from last Saturday right this minute. Pulled it up to the computer to see how rocking and typing work together. So far so good. And I'm liking my new mug except for one thing…turns out when you microwave water in it for tea, the handle gets hot. Really hot. I've got the burn on my finger to prove it!

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