Saturday, July 25, 2009


The first driveway I visited this morning was neatly edged with plastic bins, each filled with clothing for a baby girl. Each marked with the sizes…2 mo., 4 mo., 6 mo… The lady having the sale noticed me looking at them and said ruefully, “First granddaughter. Everyone went a little crazy.” Hope some young moms got to this sale, looked like these things had been worn maybe once. And they would have had to change her clothes about five times a dayfor her to wear everything before she outgrew it!

Another sale had a lot of clothing, this time for adults. “I'm arranging it all by color,” the seller told me, hanging up a denim shirt in the blue section. I mentioned that they do that at the Goodwill stores around here. “Oh, I know, and it makes me crazy,” she said. “I don’t know why they don’t arrange by size.” She hung up a shirt in the white section as she spoke.

It was a singularly dog-less morning, but I did meet this nice kitty, Tiger.

Several sales were of the deluded types that believe they are really antique fairs. Or as my friend Marcia says, those folks are way too proud of their stuff. One of these had some fun items but I was about to leave because the prices were so high. But then the fellow having the sale mentioned as he passed me to ignore the marked prices, they were dealing. Ahhh, music to my ears! A basket with ornamental bird nests and blown glass birds was marked $20, so I asked what they might take for just one of the birds. His mother came over and we started talking. Apparently she is quite a collector and decorator. She said she has hundreds of pieces in her Humpty Dumpty collection, and then there’s her Alice in Wonderland collection, and on it went. I told her about a book I was looking at this week called 500 Handmade Dolls, published by Lark Books. A couple of really nice artist made versions of Alice are in it, and she wrote down the title so she could look it up this evening. (Lark has done a whole series of these books, and they’re fabbo. There’s one on teapots, another on tiles, another on quilts…and having looked at them I now want to collect all those things! Check your public library, and if they don’t have the series you could ask to interlibrary loan them.)

By the time I left I'd spent $7.00 at her sale—which was less than the price marked on just one of her items. Two lessons here—always ask for a better price, and always take the time for a little schmoozing so they will want to give you that better price!

Spent a total of $13 this morning, so her sale was more than half. Here’s what I got:

This is the glass bird I picked out of the basket to get the bargaining rolling. I think it's German. I was relieved it reached home with it intact—I've broken things in my car a few times.

Little Red Riding Hood will be going to my office to live with my collection of children’s literature toys. Isn’t the little wolf doll a hoot? It's not marked, but it might be a Department 56 piece.

This little piggy is definitely Department 56—still has its $13.50 price tag.

I actually like the box as much as the ornament!
I may take this Humpty Dumpty rug to work too. Don’t think the janitors ever actually vacuum our offices so it won’t be in anyone’s way. ;o)
While I was taking its picture my pets started coming by. May have to rethink taking it to work. Everyone but Mrs. Wilberforce has stopped in to lay on it, and I expect she’ll be along soon.

Don't you love Noll's artistic pose? What a show off!

I dithered a bit over this plate, which was marked $8.

Finally asked a price, and she held up one finger, so I said sure. Then she asked me what it was marked, and I said eight bucks. So she goes, oh, then how about three dollars. Ummm, well, I liked it better at one I told her, and she said okay. Sheesh, yard sales don’t work like that—after you quote a price you move DOWN from it, not UP!
It wasn’t until I got home that I noticed the Bunny in the Moon.
Evidently it's artist made—signed Howell ’87 on the back. Anyone recognize the maker?
At other sales I found a big soft ball to play with in the pool…
…some fun candles…
…a garland to put together for Valentine’s Day…
…and a whole bunch of small tubes of the toothpaste my husband uses. I know, how unexciting, toothpaste—but I checked on the price when I was at the grocery store, where it was $1.69 per ounce. My score cost about 24 cents per ounce. I win!
And if you want to get really unexciting, my other great buy of the morning was a ten pound bag of potatoes at the 99 Cent Store. Hey, when was the last time you saw potatoes for ten cents a pound?

Friday, July 24, 2009


My sister has started to blog! She’s putting together tours of some of the vintage items she has to sell, very fun stuff. Stop by—you remember what it was like when you first started your blog! And tell her I said hello. She’s over at Midcentury Marilyn.

Hey, remember that cute vintage tablecloth I picked up last Saturday, the one with all the stains?
I soaked it all week in oxy cleaner stuff. Took it out this morning, and all the spots were gone! Woo hoo! It's even cuter now that it's clean.
Turn out there’s even some pale pink in the design, which I had no idea was there.
What period do you think? Late fifties, early sixties maybe?

And here’s the maiden voyage for the mini-bundt pans I found Saturday. I concocted some little almond-raspberry cakes this morning. Turned out not half bad.

Last evening we were out in the back yard, strolling and admiring our handiwork. Well, my husband’s handiwork, it's 95% him. However, I can claim to have stuck the starts of these coleuses (colei?) into yard sale pots and arranged them around the little wooden bench I bought last summer for a couple of bucks. The coleus with the lime green edge is from a plant I bought up in Oregon, but all of the other is from a few sprigs a lady gave me at her yard sale 4 or 5 years ago. I sprout new starts every spring. I think you could call it an enthusiastic plant.

Sunday, July 19, 2009


The lady at the bagel place handed me my change, and something didn’t look quite right about it. I'd given her a fiver, and she gave me back four ones and some change. That’s about how much I think a bagel and cream cheese should cost—but not how much it does cost! I told her she’d given me too much back and gave her two of the ones. “I don’t know what I was thinking about,” she said, shaking her head. “You’re thinking you want me to buy a whole new wardrobe at yard sales this morning,” I told her, and she laughed and said I probably could.

Those extra two bucks would almost have covered my expenses this Saturday. Another day of minimal purchases, but a way fun outing nonetheless. Ummm, mostly fun. I managed to drop my bagel (cream cheese side down, of course) onto the front of my shirt not once but twice as I drove along. I was wearing my Queen of Fifty Cents shirt, the one with the big Q on the back that I picked up a few weeks ago. I think the cream cheese will come out, but if it doesn’t—well, the shirt cost fifty cents, so no biggie.

Saw several of the regulars. Carol, the white haired grandmother who buys toys for her grandkids and stuff for her son’s classroom (he teaches grade school in LA), was at the first sale I stopped at—and several others as well. The paper mache artist (don’t know her name) was there with her mom. Her mother always stays in the car but participates in whatever conversation is going on by calling out the window. She says I look exactly like her friend Alice, and since she can never remember my name (perfectly fair since I can't remember hers!) I've suggested she call me Not-Alice.

Part of the fun on Saturday morning is that you never know what you’ll encounter. Okay, that’s true of every day! My second or third stop wasn’t a huge sale, but everything was neatly marked with prices (unusual around here, usually you have to ask). I told the lady and her daughter I could see they had worked really hard to prepare. The mom laughed and agreed, then mentioned that their sale this time wasn’t just to clear out clutter, but to help pay for a dress for her daughter to wear in Irish dance competitions. “She’s getting pretty good, but I had no idea how expensive this was going to turn out to be,” she told me ruefully. I love Irish dancing (well, who doesn’t) so I asked the girl, Maggie, if she would dance for me. She demurred for a moment but her mom encouraged her, so she stood up straight and launched into a wonderful step dance. She was just delightful, and when she finished and I had applauded, I asked if she could do it again while I filmed her. I gave them my blog calling card and said I'd love to show Maggie dancing. So off she went again. I chimed in with a little mouth music and we were all grinning like fools when she finished. When I edited the film, I followed the real performance with a slow motion version. Here is my film Maggie Dances.

Now, a morning with a sweet girl dancing for you is wonderful enough, but at one of the last sales I met this lady.

She was having a great time playing her finger cymbals, and told me she’s started taking belly dance lessons and absolutely loves it. Yes, she can make that coin belt jingle! I pulled out the camera and snapped her picture, and she said oh, I should have been wearing my red hat. So I grabbed it off the table where it was for sale, and we shot again.
I mentioned meeting Maggie earlier and she said she had really wanted to do Irish dance, but there were no classes nearby, so she tried belly dance. Looks like it was meant to be.

My $3.25 this Saturday went for mostly practical stuff, like a bottle of dish detergent!
This vintage tablecloth is pretty stained, but hopefully the oxy cleaner stuff will work its magic once more.

I bought these mini-bundt pans to use with my latest cookbook.
I think I wrote about it before. Because I found a digital scale for fifty cents a while back, I got interested in cooking by weighing the ingredients instead of measuring, which led me to a book called Ratio by Michael Ruhlman. The beauty of this system is that you can make any amount, so I thought I'd try some small batches of cake batter in this pan. Though we do our best, sometimes it's hard for two people to eat an entire cake before it's past its prime (she wrote, as she took the last bite of slightly stale almond meringue cake from several days ago). My husband brought home three baskets of strawberries from the farmer’s market yesterday, which is going to inspire me to try these pans.

Found a couple of the tennis visors I like to wear in the car.
And finally, in the entertainment department, I picked up a copy of The Princess Bride, which I've always intended to read. Love the movie and have been told the book is way better (as they generally are).

Favorite overheard conversation of the day:

Mid-thirties guy to his wife or maybe sister as they sat in the garage, minding the sale: “Do you remember Mark Bindler from high school?”
She: “Maybe.”
He: “He’s a plumber now.”
She: “What did he look like?”
He: “Dark and handsome.”
She (enthusiastically): “Oh yeah, I remember him.”

Saturday, July 11, 2009


I think everyone expected today to be blazingly hot and wussed out of having their yard sales. The pickings were plum pitiful! I'm awfully glad I didn’t rush to get to the one neighborhood sales advertised on Craigslist. Pulled into the tract and on the first street passed one little boy selling a few toys he had laid out on a TV tray, then around the corner found three houses in a row with sales. As I pulled over to park I heard a shout of, “Mouse Lady!” and there was Nancy, the garager I wrote about back in September (where you can find out why she called me Mouse Lady).

I felt a tad disoriented because I was sure this was not the address where I'd seen her the last time she had a sale. But right away I found out why. “My husband got laid off and our house got flooded—all on the same day,” she told me. Now that was a rough day. “We’re staying here with some friends while the house gets fixed.” The entire downstairs must have mold removed and new drywall. Sounds awful—as does the unemployment.

I also saw another Saturday morning regular whose name I don’t know. She had a hip replaced in June and this was her first day back on the trail. She looked great and said the surgery and recovery had gone very well.

I’ve just decided I have no problems in my life! Secure job, pretty darned good health, nice husband, green convertible, sweet pets. And a delicious dinner in a little while of green beans we actually grew (we’re so proud of ourselves!).

Speaking of the sweet pets…I had to bite my tongue this morning to keep from saying something rude. I was chatting with a couple of guys at their sale about dogs—they had three generations of Golden retrievers hanging out in their garage. Chloe is 11…
…her daughter Jasmine is about 9…
…and Jasmine’s son Andy is 6.
I mentioned that both my dogs are mixes, and that Edward is a Springer/Rottweiler/shepherd mix, which I can never say with a straight face. Sounds like it could be awful, but Edward is a fabbo dog.
And it's okay for me to chuckle over his hybrid parentage, but this guy started going on about what a shame he’s not a purebred Springer. Now don’t get me wrong, I love Springers, but you couldn’t find a better dog than Edward—and he has none of the genetic problems that many breeds display. But I just gave their dogs a final pat and headed off before I said something unbecoming to a Queen—even if my kingdom is only Fifty Cents!

BTW, our Lizzie asks me to thank everyone for their good wishes after her recent surgery, and to let you know that the growth they removed from her mouth was benign. Whew!!
I spent a whopping $3.10 today and brought home:

A Smith & Hawken denim skirt, which I will probably shorten from the waist, as it currently drags the ground.
Still has its embossed hang tag, so must not have been worn. I went to their website when I got home to see how much it would have retailed for, and discovered they have just announced that all their stores will close by the end of the year. No more Smith & Hawken.

Coldwater Creek floral jacket of linen and rayon.

Glass snowman to display at Christmas. Thought it would look cool with a candle inside, but candles need air to burn. I'll have to watch out for some of those little LED candles.

And lastly, a bag of freshly picked lemons. Sorry, no picture, they’re in the fridge! The lady seemed very concerned that I get the fullest bag. I used one on angelhair pasta for lunch and it was so juicy and good!

Didn’t find this at a sale, but my thriftiest treasure of the day arrived in the mail. A couple of weeks ago I ran across an announcement that Glidden was giving away free paint, and I hurried to their website and asked for one.
IIt arrived today, a whole quart of interior latex. No idea what I'll do with it, but surely something will just beg to be painted robin’s egg blue someday soon!

Saturday, July 4, 2009


I took one look at the yard sale ads this morning on Craigslist—or perhaps I should say I looked for the ads—and realized there was no point in even cranking up my car’s engine. So I've been having a lovely quiet morning at home, considering what to blog over. My first thought was to share past thrifty finds that are red…

…or white…

…or blue.

But then I started thinking about this being Independence Day. Independence is a big deal with me. I love knowing I can take care of myself and my loved ones. And a big part of feeling independent has been freeing myself from the retail world. I don’t watch television, which means I see fewer ads than practically anyone else in America. (Wow, freedom from advertising—there’s something to cherish!) I manage to conjure up enough things to want without having Madison Avenue nagging me to Buy More Stuff. And knowing that with a little patience I can find practically anything second hand has certainly freed our finances. Of course there are times when we have to buy something in a store in order to complete some task (my husband’s car can practically make the run to Home Depot without a driver by now!). But all of my ‘fun shopping’ takes place on people’s driveways, not at the mall, and if you’ve read much of my blog you’ll know how much fun I can have for very little cash!

There’s another freedom aspect to shopping second hand as well—you simply do not have to worry about your stuff. If it gets broken or stained or lost, who cares? I always think about a very nice pair of artist-made ceramic earrings I bought for (you guessed it) fifty cents. I wore them often, and then one of them disappeared. Looked everywhere, couldn’t find it. Dang, I said, but hey, they had cost fifty cents. Then the day we moved out of that house, we were loading the dryer onto the truck, and there was my earring underneath. Evidently our cat Buster had been playing kitty-soccer with my earring—out of the bedroom, across the hall, through the kitchen, out the cat door into the garage, down three steps, and SCORE under the dryer! I still have those earrings, and every time I wear them I get to think of our sweet Buster having fun with them. Our memories are worth more than anything we can buy in a store.

Thrifting lets me have far better quality possessions than I could ever afford if they were new. And I can enjoy them without having to worry about insuring them, or working overtime to pay for them, or having to keep spending on dry cleaning them. Gosh, I'm feeling more independent by the minute!

And even though garaging was a bust this morning, I actually did make it to a couple of sales yesterday. Both were moving sales run by delightful people it was a pleasure to chat with. Cute little Chelsea was the official greeter at the first.
Her owners clearly adore her. They told me she came from the pound, and the day after they got her everyone went off to work and school. Little baby Chelsea managed to escape from the back yard—and went and sat on the porch waiting for her new family to come home. Evidently she knew this was a great place to live! And when she rides in their pickup, she puts one front foot on the arm rest and hangs the other over the door, like a trucker on a long haul. Her family is moving to southern Oregon, just a few miles from where I had my first library job over 30 years ago. I bought this nice cashmere sweater from them, which I'm hoping my hubs will like. He’s worth gambling a dollar on!
The family having the other Friday sale is moving to Nebraska. I sure people move to Nebraska all the time, but you don’t hear much about it in Southern California! The lovely mom in this family, Leslie, is an artist. We got to talking about vintage stuff and she showed me a couple of great vintage handbags she’d thrifted. In one of them she found a couple of old movie stubs that were printed with a movie star’s face and a fortune like you would find in a fortune cookie. Have any of you ever seen anything like this? I'd love to know if this was a practice in movie theatres at a particular period. Unfortunately I didn’t have my camera with me (always a mistake!) so I can't show you what they look like. But I was telling her how much I've enjoyed having this blog, and she said she’s been thinking about starting one. So Leslie, when you get your blog going you’ll have to post about your cool ticket stubs so we can all see them!

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