Monday, April 27, 2009


Somehow this morning I ran across Rhoda's
Southern Hospitality blog, where she is hosting a feature on Mondays for us to show off the thrifty treasures we've found over the weekend. Welcome to everyone who's visiting from that link! Keep scrolling down, I've got tons of treasures to share! And I can't post much now because I've got to get back to her list and check out everyone else's good fortune.

First though I wanted to share something nifty. A couple of weeks ago I included a picture of
Bella the bulldog. While I was petting Bella I mentioned to her owners that one of my colleagues was hoping to find a rescued bulldog to adopt, and they said that Bella's breeder also did rescue work. They gave me the contact info, which I passed along, and the happy result is that Kim, my friend, has adopted a dog! Here's her new sidekick, Po:

Isn't she a sweetie pie?! Can't wait to meet her one of these days. But sweet Po is not the first pet I've found for someone at a yard sale. That would have to be Joe the Bunny:I was at a moving sale a few years ago, and the people mentioned they needed to find a home for their bunny. I'd love to have a bunny but we already have four pets so that wasn't going to happen (my husband would have said something more than "Where will you put it?"!!). But I got their contact info and the following Monday sent out an email to my children's librarians. And one of them, Janeane, was indeed looking for a pet for herself and her son, and they adopted Joe. Any time you ask Janeane about Joe she instantly beams and tells you the latest cute things he's done. And I think it's pretty obvious that her son Nathaniel is just as crazy about Joe:

I think it's kind of a hoot that their names rhyme, Joe and Po. And there's lots more names in that vein. Beau, Moe, Status Quo...guess I'll have to keep an eye out for more of these connections to make!

Sunday, April 26, 2009


We (that’s the royal we!) were delighted to discover this week that we have a lady in waiting! Over on the “Just a Girl and Her 1911 Craftsman Bungalow” blog you can meet a smart young woman who is discovering her thrifty side. We hope you will visit her and convey our good wishes (after you read us, natch!). We are flattered beyond belief to have her in our royal realm and wish her many years of thrifty goodness to come.

As my LIW has discovered, when you own a house thrifting is your new best friend. Many of us are constantly decorating our nests, but before the decorating comes the fixing. I figure the less I spend on the unavoidable repairs and improvements, the more I have available for the fun stuff! Case in point: our patio includes a tile-topped counter with a built-in gas grill. (It was there when we bought the house. Evidently some former owner was a party person.) Over the years the marble tiles have gotten chipped and some are loose, and my husband commented recently he wants to retile it. So when I found a tile cutter at a yard sale this week, I was motivated to ask the price.

One dollar later I owned a tile cutter. Now, these are not hugely expensive tools, maybe $20 or so new, but a 95% discount is always a pleasant thing to receive. And now that we have the tile cutter, I'll start keeping an eye out for tile to replace what’s there now. It's not unusual to find leftovers from someone’s remodeling job at their yard sale. Can't wait to see what turns up!

My friend Marcia was with me this week. There were many, many sales—we only covered one tract. Perhaps we could have rushed along to some of the other neighborhood sales, but we very much enjoyed our leisurely progress and picked up far more conversations than stuff. This is a good thing, since we both already own lots and lots of stuff, and the conversations are even less expensive than the things we did buy.

At one point during the morning we mused about what an amazing institution is the American garage sale. You get to walk up to perfect strangers at their home, look at their stuff, perhaps buy something for very little money. And in that space of time you have the chance to converse. Sometimes it’s just a polite hello-how-are-you exchange, but other times an object for sale will trigger vivid stories. One couple we met on Saturday were selling something dog related (can't think now what it was) that led to the story of the dog they’d lost to cancer, the best dog in the world. (At one point the husband was the only dry-eyed person on the driveway!) Their son, they said, had been especially devastated by the loss, because he had never slept alone in his life, this dog had been his constant companion. The conversation meandered on, and by the time we left I'd learned that the husband grew up in the next town over from where I lived in Oklahoma (and probably at about the same time).

In another yard we enjoyed a recently planted sea serpent topiary.
The conversation began with that, and continued into finding out that the husband is a professional magician. We visited his coworkers—the four bunnies in his garage. He told us he works at the Magic Castle in Hollywood, and that all the magicians there are getting ready to have their annual garage sale. Apparently they all bring in all their magic stuff for a sale. Dream sale for a ten year old boy!

On one street I parked the car near a large sale, then noticed a woman on her driveway across the street. She had one table with a few items, nothing looked compelling, but I told Marcia I'd go take a look. As I walked up the drive I called out that I might have thought she was lonely, but since she was reading a book I knew she couldn’t be. Turned out she’s an artist and was selling quite nice pottery that she has made. She said she hoped to sell a few pieces so she could buy more clay, and we both ended up helping along the clay fund a little! Marcia bought a set of four small bowls or cups, and I brought home this lovely plate.

I love the colors. She told us to check back next time they have the neighborhood sale—she’s hoping to master handles this year!

We met several nice dogs over the course of the morning, including this sweet little 5 month old boxer pup…
…and this is Jack the Wheaton terrier.
I actually remembered Jack from last year. Evidently he didn’t make it into my blog (I think his appearance was pre-empted by some ducks) but here’s the picture I took then. Hasn’t aged a bit, has he?
I spent $8.75 among all this (priceless!) conversing, and along with the tile cutter and handmade plate brought home:
Fun dessert plates to embellish our next Christmas party:

A little deco-looking pin—supposed to hold a picture. I'm thinking one of Edward’s puppy pics would be good.
This little guy is a future door prize. Must be related to Curious George, look at that face! Though I think George’s eyes line up a little better…
Fins. I like them for swimming laps, and my last pair has gotten grungy. I'm not a huge fan of pink, but pink fins amuse me. These came from the magician…wonder if they’ll disappear when I put them in water?
Marcia gets the gold star for overhearing the our favorite remark of the day. While most of the people we encountered were quite pleasant, one woman was a definite exception. She looked like she had made her face ugly with years of scowling and resentment. Marcia observed her with a customer who evidently spoke little English and was trying to understand the price of a can opener. “It’s two dollars,” Grumpy Woman said, and when she wasn’t understood, kept repeating it louder and louder. (I will never get this belief that somehow one can be magically understood if only one says something loud enough.) Finally she added, “It's two dollars! It's brand new. Look, it's a really good one. It's not from the 99 Cent Store, it's from Walmart!”

Remember the bag of silk fabric I bought last week? Turned out to be about 20 YARDS in all—for two dollars. (Even I am amazed.) Saturday afternoon I turned about 6 yards of into curtains for my home office.
Oh my. I never in this world would have thought I would someday have silk curtains. More proof that if you just keep looking, you can find anything on a driveway on Saturday morning!

Saturday, April 18, 2009


The crochet hook flew in and out of the bright red yarn, leaving a trail of shell pattern in its wake. The younger woman hoped to learn how to crochet by watching her grandmother. “I learned by watching this lady I knew,” the grandmother told me. “I was ten years old. She had a son my age, and he didn’t know it but I knew he was supposed to be my boyfriend. I told him I knew how to crochet even though I didn’t, that I just didn’t have my hook with me. So he handed me a hook, and I took it. Now what was I going to do? Somehow I started making a chain, so he was convinced I knew how. And after that I just watched and then I could do it.”

I told her the perfect end to the story was if they had grown up and she had married him. She laughed. “No,” she said, “that was in Texas, and then we came here, and I haven’t seen him for many years. But I still know how to crochet.”

I was a little surprised when I got home that I hadn't bought more stuff. Not that I didn’t pick up plenty! Found another huge neighborhood having its annual sale day, and I didn’t even get around the entire tract before I called it a day. I'm so proud of myself for not overdoing it. If you go to sales, you’ll know that they’re as addictive as a slot machine—though ultimately produce way more return for your quarters. (A lot of this morning’s deals were literally paid for with quarters. Somehow I had a whole bunch o’ change in my billfold and now it's down to a few pennies. And weighs about six pounds less!)

I doled out a total of $11 this morning, and came home with:

A cozy cotton velour shirt for next winter.

As I was fishing for money, the seller held this shirt and told me it always gets lots of compliments. “One guy I work with would always come up behind me and rub it and say it’s SO soft,” she told me. Hmmm, could be harassment, I said. She shook her head. “Nah, he was gay, he just liked my shirt.” From her I also picked up this cute little china chick.
“There’s another one like it somewhere, but we can't find it,” she said. No matter, two would be less perfect than one. I keep saying I won't get any more chickens, but I didn’t have a baby chick so I needed this, right? And it was twenty five cents. Even I can't get too guilty over a quarter. Also found two bottlebrush trees
and some kitchen/office scales. I was going to give them to a colleague who told me she’s looking for one, but my hubs took one look and claimed it for his office. Sorry, Cathy G., next one is for you!
Loved the colors in this silk scarf.
When I asked the price of this little Rubbermaid container, the guy joked, “Well it used to belong to the Queen of England, which makes it pretty collectible.”
I gave him my Queen of Fifty Cents calling card so he could see how appropriate it would be for the container to go from one queen to another. I think I'll use it to hold birdseed. A couple of weeks ago I hung up a bird feeder outside my window at work. Two purple finches found it the first week and told all their friends. Now the gang is consuming an entire feeder’s worth daily. I'm going to have to put the birds on a diet.

A large sale turned out to be two in one—the driveway and part of the front yard had wares belonging to a mother and daughter, and nearer the porch a couple of friends were setting up their display—tasteful china mostly. A couple of boxes in front of the tasteful china had odds and ends of kitchen stuff, and I pulled out this wonderful bowl.

He quoted me the stiff price of two dollars (okay, it's stiff for me!) but then because it was with the fifty cent stuff he said that was fine. Thank you, thank you--I love this! Perfect for waffle batter on Sunday morning with our new waffle iron from two weeks ago. He said he bought it at an auction in Iowa, which is the icing on the cake. A jadite batter bowl is good, but a jadite batter bowl from an auction in Iowa is perfect. When I got home it was the first thing I showed my husband. “Look! A jadite batter bowl!” He peered at it. “And that’s a good thing?” he asked. I assured him it is, and I'm sure he will agree at breakfast tomorrow. And at least he didn’t ask me where I'm going to put it!

I also scored on the mother-daughter side of the sale: three pairs of shoes! You know how I love Mary Janes, and to find sporty green suede ones, as well as flowered ones just really made my morning. The other embroidered shoes make me feel like an off-duty pasha in my palace.

Ironically, I had bought this cute pair of tennies at the Nordstrom Rack on Friday.

They had been marked down and marked down and were another 35% off which put them into my comfort zone, and are a perfect fit. And I know they’re really cute because while I was trying on the green suede Mary Janes, another shopper picked up my new tennie that I had just taken off and started looking for its mate! “Umm, that one’s mine,” I said, pointing to the other still on my left foot.

Besides all these great deals, this sale sported a handsome—and wide!—black Lab named Blue, who was giving his undivided attention to a sandwich (in the yellow wrap) being consumed over his head.
Little candles for the lanterns in the backyard.
Actually, there are lanterns in the front yard now as well. Good thing I keep finding candles at yard sales! My husband added a couple more in the back recently, and got shorter crooks to hang the furthest, so at night the yard looks longer than it really is.

The resident dog at this sale was Mack, a poodle-Maltese cross. He was a little shy but finally agreed to a bit of petting. Those Maltese genes have given him the most amazingly soft coat—almost as soft as our cat Mrs. Wilberforce!
On the same street I had a lovely chat with a couple of ladies who may have given me the deal of the day. Piled on a daybed were several packages of fabric. I told them I'm not crazy about sewing but I do love to look at this stuff. One plastic bag held a partially made silk kimono. “My mother was a seamstress, so she was either working on this or got it to use the fabric.” We looked shook our heads admiringly over the hand stitched seams. I was very tempted by a package of Indian fabric with horses hand embroidered on it, but I resisted. I stopped resisting when I saw the grocery bag full of wonderful textured silk.
All that plus the piece in the next picture. For a couple of bucks I have enough fabric for the curtains I've been needing in my home office, and possibly slipcovers for the rattan sectional as well. Woo hoo! Silk curtains! I hung some of it over the empty curtain rod so we could see how it looked.
“You got all that for two dollars?” my husband asked. I nodded. “Sure beats the ones we saw at Ikea the other day,” he said, “and I think we would have had to hem those as well.”

Now really. You just have to love being able to look at Ikea as the expensive option! But that makes me remember something the fabric lady said that cracked me up. We were talking about second hand clothing, and I said all mine comes from driveways because I think Goodwill is just too expensive. “Oh,” she said wisely, “you always have to remember—it's the name you’re paying for.”

Sunday, April 12, 2009


Saturday morning started auspiciously at the bagel store. As I was waiting for my toasted bagel with cream cheese to be prepped, the other lady waiting for her order asked me if I came here often. I told her once in a while, and she said, “Here, I forgot to use my coupon, you can use it next time you come.” And she gave me a coupon for a free bagel with cheese with the purchase of a drink. Good through June—but I'll probably use it next week!

As I drove off, I noticed a duck in the parking. I think he was saving a parking place for someone.

I headed out, making my way toward a neighborhood sale in Huntington Beach. Saw a few signs along the way, and at the first sale I parked behind a man who was trying to fit a wooden easel into his small car. “You’ll have to be an artist now,” I commented, and he laughed and said first he had to figure out how to get the thing home. That’s when I noticed the car—a vintage Thunderbird.
“It's a ’55, with a ’57 porthole top,” he told me. “Yeah, it's really a lot of fun to drive.”

In the passenger seat lounged a large stuffed bunny. I said Bunny must really enjoy riding with him.
“I just bought him,” the guy said. “I figure on Easter it will be okay to use the car pool lane with him in the car, right?” I agreed—it would be just too churlish of the Highway Patrol to give someone a ticket on Easter just because their riding companion wasn’t actually a person.

I crossed the street and shopped the first sale, then headed back to my car. The T-bird man had finally gotten the easel wedged in his trunk, and was talking to another guy of about the same age. “Yeah,” I heard him say as I started my engine, “it's a ’55 with a ’57 porthole top. Really a lot of fun to drive.”

Down the street I found another sale, apparently held by several young couples. One of the guys was holding up this object and commenting on how cool it was.

A vintage bike light with AM radio. How I would have loved it when I was 12! I took the pictures and mentioned my blog, handing over one of my calling cards. They seemed to enjoy the card, and when I asked the price of something, one of the guys said a dollar, and then his wife said, “No, fifty cents! She’s the fifty cent lady.” Found something else I liked, and again she priced it at fifty cents. It's always so gratifying to encounter someone who speaks your language!

The neighborhood sale was a bit out of my usual area, but I'm glad I headed over there—it proved fruitful. Evidently this tract does a neighborhood sale annually, and I heard several sellers commenting that this was the most traffic they’d seen in several years. When I arrived home I found that my husband had the LA Times folded open to the big article headlined “Garage sales are a win-win in this economy .” Ummm…duh! I hope one of the results of this period is that people will realize that garaging is a win-win in any economy. Monetary issues aside (because the advantages are so obvious they hardly need belaboring), thrifting is green, and a heckuva lot of fun. Whenever I buy something new, I'm struck by how annoying all that packaging is. Besides putting more stuff in the landfill, a lot of it is just darned hard to get open. How in the world will I be able to get into one of those plastic clamshell thingies when I'm elderly? I can barely manage now with the help of electric scissors! Thank heavens most of what I buy is second hand—so no packaging, and no awful sizing smell in my ‘new’ clothes.

Okay, I'll step off my soapbox now!

The dogs of the day included Baxter, a miniature Schnauzer, who likes to bark. Also Bella the bulldog, who doesn’t bark.

Here’s what I picked up this week. I spent a total of $28.50, and over a third of it went for one deal. But I'm not going to tell you which, you’ll have to guess!

I scored two pairs of like-new Levi 550s in my husband’s size. Sorry, no picture, but you don’t need one. Just close your eyes and imagine a really cute middle aged guy. Now picture him in relaxed-fit jeans. You got it—that’s exactly what he looks like in his new 550s!

This Pooh lamp was the first buy of the morning.
I think I'll use it on my desk at work, so I can leave the obnoxious overhead fluorescents off. He looks a bit like he’s having a Near-Death Experience (“The light! I see a very bright light!”) but with that honey pot in his arms you know he’ll go happy.
Found door-prizes-to-be for children’s librarians:
This great monkey is made on a wire frame, so he’s posable.

Twenty-one new boxes of crayons—made from soybeans.

And who wouldn’t want a purple unicorn marionette?
I recently got a camcorder at work for making library webcasts, and this will make a good bag for it.
Of course the label has to come off. Danged if I'm going to walk around carrying a bag with a label that says Dickies.

These cat shoes are too cute. How I wish they were my size, but alas they are not, so they’ll be sold. They’re a size 9, so if you’re interested let me know and we could avoid the eBay middleman.
This find is a keeper however—a fabbo Noritake teapot, creamer and sugar bowl. I haven’t yet found the pattern name, so if anyone knows what it is, give a holler. I used the pot at breakfast this morning, and I just love it—the shape of the handle, the way it pours.

Speaking of breakfast, last week’s waffle iron is a keeper as well. I'm so happy to be able to use my waffle cookbook again (our last waffle iron died some time ago).

Great book (she wrote a wonderful pancake book too). This morning we had ricotta waffles with fresh strawberries and sour cream. Yummers!

I love the bunnies on this William Sonoma dish towel.
I scored three shirts and two sweaters. The soft pinwale corduroy shirt is a Polo Ralph Lauren. I may have to share it with my husband—we both like it.
I will need to shorten the sleeves on this denim colored Eddie Bauer sweater—evidently it started life as a guy’s sweater, but no need for it to stay that way!
Black Italian sweater of 100% merino wool—it has an incredible hand, very springy. If my hubs decides he doesn’t like it, I think I'll try felting it.
This sweet rayon blouse is a Liz Claiborne.
Says to dry clean, but as you may know, I don’t do dry clean. I've given it a hand wash and it's drying on the line. Keep your fingers crossed that it didn’t shrink so I can wear it with my swishy black skirt. But if it does shrink, my loss will be the thrift store’s gain.

And a cheerful border print shirt, should be fun to wear this summer. The fabric is linen and rayon, feels great.

I'll be able to replace one of my non-whistling kettles. The older and more forgetful I become, the more necessary is the whistle!
And lastly, a lovely framed watercolor. I think I'll hang it over my computer at home; I'm a little tired of the picture that’s there now.
I thought this bed of nasturtiums was amazing, and when I commented on it, the lady having the sale laughed. “We didn’t even know they were blooming. We always park the car right here so they were out of sight.” We talked about nasturtiums as edible, and she said when she was a child they put them on sandwiches. I've had them in salads, but a nasturtium sandwich sounds awfully charming!
Favorite comment of the day: at the sale with the vintage bike light, the conversation wandered from yard sales to weather (via the thought that we’re so lucky to be able to go to sales all year round here, unlike places with snow). One of the guys commented, “Talk about snow. I lived in Indiana for four years once. It was the longest eight years of my life.”

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