Sunday, January 30, 2011

Need a Workout? Forget the Gym!

I found a great way to get a workout on Saturday, and there are no gym fees to pay. All you have to do is go out garaging, find an estate sale, look around, then poke your head into the backyard…just at the moment one of the sellers announces, “All of the tile out back is free.”

Oh. My. God.

The tile at this place. The elderly gentleman who had passed on collected it for years. YEARS. From the evidence of the patio, he made good use of some of his stash.

IMG_0028 IMG_0026


But not all by a long shot.

IMG_0031 IMG_0032

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From what I gathered by eavesdropping, a lot of it was leftover from big jobs, and he would bring it home and add to his supply.wall o' tilesCan we just say I was thrilled to happen upon this. We need to re-tile the top of our outdoor cooking area.IMG_0049If I were buying tile in a store for this project I would probably have gone for a darker color. But I scrounged up enough of the free stuff to do the job, including a large patterned tile we might use as a centerpiece.IMG_0050But where’s the workout, you say? Oh my dears, I said I had to scrounge. While the dear old gent had organized pretty much by color, his color categories were simple—like, light and dark. I spent probably 40 minutes lifting large heavy tiles around to find enough of the same kind. Then I got to carry 50+ large heavy tiles to my car and fit them in. (Each tile weighs 4 pounds. Yeah, I just weighed one!) By the time I got them all loaded…let’s just say you would not have wanted to be too close to me!

After I loaded the car IMG_0039I wandered about just looking. It was so tempting to keep adding more to my stash. I could have made sets of coasters for everyone I know—or have ever known—for next Christmas. But I decided to restrain myself. Might as well leave them for someone else with a real project to do.

Later in the morning I was at another sale, and a lady and I were looking at some handy person books and magazines. I said something about the free tile I had found, and she immediately wanted to know where the sale was. Another guy who was looking at stuff looked up and said he had  been there too. Sheesh, how likely is that? Between us we kind of were able to remember where the sale was. Hope she found it. The other guy told me he used to work in a tile store. He said if someone was remodeling a fifties house, he bet they’d find the exact thing they needed in that back yard!

The free tile was the highlight of the morning, but really the whole outing was fun. First stop I met a sweet elderly Lab. This is Jake, who is 11.IMG_0021This little cutie really wanted to get loose and help everyone shop. Her tail is a blur because she was a champion wagger.IMG_0023

Met two nice young couples having sales. The first is expecting their first baby in March. Being a children’s librarian, I made sure they are planning to read, read, read to the child. They assured me they already are. The dad-to-be told me he’s going to speak English and she’ll be speaking Chinese to the baby so she’ll be bilingual. I told him they’ll have a very smart child, and he looked awfully pleased.

The other couple were young and hip. Don’t remember how we got to it, but I was telling them a theory someone shared with me last week: You know how you’re always missing a sock or two? And at the same time you always seems to have more wire hangers in your closet? Well, this guy’s theory is that socks are the larval form of wire hangers. We were all cracking up over this. They told me they do musical theatre, in fact that’s how they met. We decided a musical number about socks and wire hangers would definitely be a hit.

I spent $6.75 during the morning, plus the sweat equity of the tiles! Brought home a couple of librarian door-prizes: IMG_0046 IMG_0048a bag o’ ribbons for craft projects, and a Spin & Draw thingie, complete with two pads of the paper.

I recently lost my cute little metal tin that I kept in my purse for various pills. Picked this up as a replacement.IMG_0047Merely practical. Easy to replace when I find something spiffier.

A few of the handy person magazines.IMG_0045 And sweaters for me and the hubs. His looks new, of very soft merino wool.IMG_0042Mine is also new, one of those items bought and never worn. Jones New York.IMG_0041The polka dots are embroidery. I think it will work with black pants. Love the colors.

Happiest story I heard all morning: a woman who has been out of a job for over two years starts her new position on Monday. She was beaming.

Saturday, January 22, 2011


Our poor Edward, who is a sensitive guy, had a terrible scare this morning.

101_0103The smoke alarm beeped.

No, it didn’t go off, it beeped. Evidently the battery was getting low, and when that happens it gives a short beep every five minutes or so. For some reason dogs find this terrifying. Lizzie always has, but she can no longer hear it. (One of the blessings of old age.) Once I figured out which alarm was the culprit I pulled it down and got the battery out. Left my husband a note so he could pick up a new batteryIMG_9969

which he did. Edward survived the testing of the new battery (another beep—it was SO awful!) and we are once again fully smoke alarm compliant.

I suspect the dogs I met today are sensitive souls too. There was JacksonIMG_9949  and LolaIMG_9957 and Lila, who felt it was her job to demonstrate every pillow in the huge pile they had for sale.IMG_9961Zero was walking by our last stop, and my friend Linda obliged by throwing the frisbee for him.IMG_9962Not sure how sensitive this guy was, but he certainly was a hoot. He had found a strip of fake fur and was modeling it for the amusement of his family (and me). IMG_9951 IMG_9952IMG_9953

I promised he wouldn’t end up on Youtube. Did not promise he wouldn’t go on my blog.

Met up with Linda by chance part way through the morning, so we followed each other after that. I let her lead for a while, until it turned out she was listening to someone talk on the radio instead of watch for yard sale signs. After she sailed past a large neon-green sign, I took over the lead position! So it happened that we both ended up at the sale where I bought a sofa.

Okay, there’s a story here. I saw this exact same sofa at a sale last year, and I could see that it would be easy to recover, but I wasn’t 100% sure about the style. (Turns out it’s an Ikea piece. Picture it without the little round pillow thingies.)

Allerum Sofa bed Mandarin Orange Panama Cotton

I called my husband and tried to describe it over the phone, thinking this kind of modern design might work in the retirement house. The seller even emailed him a quick picture of it. They were asking $100, and didn’t want to come down any, so we decide to pass it up. Literally a couple of days ago he mentioned he was kind of sorry we hadn’t gotten it. So this morning there was the same sofa on another driveway—and they wanted twenty bucks for it. Called the hubs again, and we decided to go for it if I could figure out a way to get it home. As it turned out, Linda has an SUV. It was full of stuff, but we put some of her stuff in the back of my car and got the sofa in. So now my garage has a bright orange modern sofa thingie in it.

True confession time: I’m having some buyer’s remorse. Not sure I’m going to love it even when it’s not orange. But if we decide not to keep it I imagine I can put it on Craigslist and get my twenty bucks back. I hope.

Other than the sofa, I spent $4.50 on five things, and I’m actually going to keep some of them this time. The giveaways are this dog jumping jack

IMG_9971which is going to be a hit at some library’s storytime, and this cast iron skilletIMG_9975which I know a friend’s husband has been looking for. It needs seasoning, but otherwise looks great.

I’m keeping this outdoor thermometer (still trying to spiff up the yard before the garden tour in the spring)IMG_9970 and this nice piece of glass.IMG_9973Evidently I bought this by weight. The seller named a price, I tried for a lower price, she took it out of my hands and hefted it, then said no, her price stood. I just weighed it—it’s over 3.5 pounds, so probably less expensive per pound than potatoes!

Linda bought three little African violets and gave me one. She had to rescue them. They were the saddest plants you’ve ever seen. Don’t think they could have been watered for weeks.

IMG_9965 We immediately grabbed my water bottle from the car and gave them a drink. This little guy already had perked up by the time I took its picture. And with the dead stuff cleared away it’s ready to grow.IMG_9977 I figure anything that could survive that much neglect deserves another chance. And the cachepot it’s in is worth the quarter.IMG_9966

Speaking of clearing away…Steven tackled our poor storm-damaged gazebo this week and got the bent parts cleared off.IMG_9978We’re playing around with various ideas for what to do with it. (Thanks to those who made suggestions in your comments during the week!) I’m leaning toward growing annual vines up the posts and across the top, maybe on strings or wire. We’ll see.

Let me leave you with my favorite typo from the Craigslist ads this week—the one for a “huge Garga Sale.”

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


Wow. I am overwhelmed with gratitude for all your interest in my giveaway! Sixty-one entries, and you guys had such nice things to say. I really and truly thank everyone who entered.

So, here we go. The winner is…Storm, from Confessions of a Psychotic Housewife! Storm, I’ll be emailing you to get your address so I can get your copy of the book sent.


I wish so much that I could afford to give away sixty-one copies, but alas that is not the case. I do plan to give away more copies through the year, so stay tuned. And I could really use your help! I’m trying to create some “buzz” about the book. Those of you who have already read it can help me out by blogging a short review, leaving comments on Amazon, recommending it to review websites, etc. What else can we do? Any of you marketing mavens want to jump in?

Though I can’t give everyone a free copy, we have extended the sale price of $13, which includes tax and shipping. It’s about a 30% discount, which is better than the price at Amazon! If you can’t afford to buy it yourself (and believe me, I have been there), it would be great if you could request your public library to order it. Since it hasn’t been reviewed by the standard library journals most libraries don’t know about it. Tell them it’s circulating well in Orange County, and has a waiting list!

Okay, commercial over! (And I promise the only commercials you’ll get on this blog are of the Shameless Self Promotion variety. But hey, it’s my blog!)

Thanks again to everyone who entered. You really made my day—my week!—with your lovely comments. And special thanks to those of you who have signed up as subscribers and/or followers. There are almost 800 of you guys! Hmmm, maybe that can be one of my 11-ish goal for 2011: 1100 regular readers!

Saturday, January 15, 2011


Oh, we claim it’s for the thrill of the hunt, but really, we shop on driveways so that we don’t have to mourn too much when an investment goes bad.

Sometimes it’s an item that looked okay on that driveway, but when you got home you had second thoughts. Perhaps a piece of clothing didn’t fit, or turned out to have a spot you didn’t notice. You sigh, put the thing in the donation box out in the garage, and move on.

And sometimes it’s an item that got rained on.

A lot.

Really a lot.

Like the gazebo we bought last year.

IMG_6819Which didn’t much care for that rain storm we had back in December (the one that lasted days and days).

IMG_9871  Which now looks like this.

IMG_9946 Is that sad or what?

At least we didn’t pay a retail price tag. I’m really sorry it got ruined, but it sure does take some of the sting out to lose something that cost $35 instead of $300 or more. Of course it was the single most expensive thing I bought on a driveway in 2010.


Oh well. It’s only stuff, after all, not something truly valuable like a husband or a cat or a dog. Who were also not happy during that storm. My cat Noll kept insisting I let him go out, and when the door was opened and he saw the rain, he would go to another door, hoping it wouldn’t be raining over there. And my dog Lizzie does not care to get her enormous paws wet. She would go to the edge of the patio, swing her butt out over the grass and pee, then run back in.

Today must have been our reward for enduring all that rain. Sunny, in the low 80s. I know, all of you in cold places no longer feel sorry for the loss of my gazebo!

Met a couple of friendly dogs. I heard mournful whining from a back yard and asked the lady still setting up her sale what kind of dog she had. “He’s a chow, but he thinks he’s a Labrador,” she said. Usually chows are pretty standoffish, but she was right, this guy was definitely a retriever wannabe.

IMG_9933His name is Yogi, as in Yogi Bear. “He came with that name,” she told me. “I wanted to name him Thread Bear.” We both snickered. This is the least threadbare creature I’ve ever seen.

A little later I met Besos.

IMG_9936Yup, that is Spanish for kisses. You can guess why.

The pickings were slim this morning, spent a whole $2.75, and only one thing will stay with us—this decanter.IMG_9940 The cute rabbit in a hat puppet will be a prize for a children’s librarianIMG_9943 and my mother will get the vintage embroidery transfers.IMG_9944 My brother in law Bob asked me to keep an eye out for leather items he can cut up for some projects he’s doing, and I found the first one today.IMG_9938At my last stop, a guy was looking for blankets and other linens to donate to dog rescue groups. His pickup was emblazoned with signage about wolfdog rescue. I heard him agree when someone at the sale asked him, “Don’t you live over on Labrador?” Struck me as funny. But hey, I’m easy.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Eleven means…a GIVEAWAY!

As I mentioned recently, the number eleven has always been my fave. And here it is 1/11/11. That definitely deserves something special, yes? So in honor of the 11th day of 2011, I’m giving away a copy of that fabulous novel Sleeping Dogs Lie.

Yes, the one written by moi!

FRONT COVERAll you have to do is leave a comment to enter. Period. You don’t have to sign up as a follower (but of course I’d love it if you did!) or blog or tweet or beep or anything for extra chances. Just a comment. Easy peasy.

We’ll let this run until noon, next Monday 1/17/11, then I’ll draw a name out of the hat or figure out how to use one of those random number generators.

Can’t wait to see who wins!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

2011…Thrifting Heaven?

Lo, the holidays are over and done, and yard sales begin anew. How can it fail to be a banner thrifting year when the first driveway score is a frog

IMG_9915 with freckles on his kneesIMG_9918 from Costa RicaIMG_9916 signed by the artist?IMG_9917 I think this frog will enjoy hanging out with the others I’ve found on OC drivewaysIMG_9923 and really, with the whole gang.IMG_9924 Actually, the first score of the year came from a thrift store. We went up to LA on Thursday to go to the art museum and eat ethnic food (Ethiopian for lunch, Thai for dinner). Perused a few thrift stores that we’ve passed several times and never stopped at. I remain confirmed in my belief that the real deals are on driveways, but Steven spotted one thing we had to have. Another lamp.IMG_9929Fabbo, yes? It has its original stickers still which proclaim it to be a Sight Light, and it swivels in a complete circle. Price was higher than my normal range, but I knew if we didn’t get it we’d regret it, and I do try to live without regrets.

Had a nice conversation with a lady named Liz who works with at-risk teens. Her extremely self-possessed and charming teenage daughter made numerous deals while we chatted. We ended up talking about different learning styles and she mentioned that a lot of her students are more auditory learners. So I told her about the downloadable audiobooks on my library’s website. She was thrilled—she can download a book to her classroom computer for free and have the kids listen as a class. She said she played a recording of Tom Sawyer before Christmas and was amazed at the discussion that ensued.

Hmmm, must remember to put this on my monthly report as an outreach contact!

‘Twasn’t a very doggy morning, but here is Paxson.IMG_9908He is a labradoodle who missed the curly hair gene. Wish I had gotten a picture of a dog I saw being walked. It must have been a bulldog/terrier mix. Bulldog body and head with wiry hair. The one kitty I saw kept being chased away by an annoying seven year old girl every time I reached for my camera.

Spent five bucks this morning, and besides the frog vase I came home with 7 CDs,IMG_9919one of which will be a gift for a music loving friend (you know who you are, Marcia). There’s a Pink Floyd in there that I got for my hubs, who was excited to see it. It’s so nice when you can bring happiness for twenty five cents.

He also gets today’s clothing score. We were in a trendy shop the other day (I know, doesn’t sound like me) with a mix of new and vintage clothing. They had a whole rack of men’s new Pendleton shirts that we were admiring, but the close-to-$100 price tags, not so much. Don’t worry, I told him, I will find you Pendletons this year. And I did.IMG_9910Brand new. No tags, I think it was a gift. Guy told me it didn’t fit him. It was hanging from the garage door next to an ugly black jacket, and I managed not to crack up when he said the Pendleton was two bucks, but the jacket was $10 because it was a Dickies. Which can be bought new for about a third of what a Pendleton shirt costs. Go figure.

Picked up a Tin Man doll for my children’s literature toys collection IMG_9925 and literally a bag of crepe paper streamers.IMG_9920 I figure children’s librarians can always use these, so I asked how much for all of them. One dolluh. Yup. There were so many she had to go get a bigger bag to hold them. Counted when I got home—36 rolls. Woo hoo!

In the category of Things I Didn’t Buy we have this original oyl painting.IMG_9905 That’s a caterpillar she has her nose by. Didn’t want you to think it was something else.

And the comment that made my day? Stopped at a sale and it turned out to be the lady I bought my wonderful wire Christmas tree from. We chatted about this and that while I browsed. When I left she told me, “Come and visit any time. I really enjoy your stories!”

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