Sunday, December 11, 2011

Little Items, Big Tree

There was a time when my husband and I had a running joke that if he came garaging with me, it was the kiss of death. We would find absolutely nothing. I told him on Friday that the curse was offically lifted, and he can come with me whenever he likes! Our first stop was an estate sale where we got to talking to the brother and sister and their cousin having the sale. The dad is gone, mother has moved to retirement home in Montana, and they needed to clear out a bunch o’ stuff. (Yeah, we helped some with that!) We got some wonderful stories. The parents were professional musicians who played in orchestras all over the country, including the Oklahoma City Symphony where I ushered for concerts when I was in high school. The mom was a cellist, and we saw a wonderful watercolor portrait of her playing. Dad played a wind instrument, but I can’t remember which they said. Their mother was one of four sisters who had been started playing instruments when they were quite young, I think the cello was started at age 8. Another story was about one of their aunts, who at age 6 broke a finger and so was unable to play the piano. Her mother stuck a viola in her hands (guess the broken finger was on the bow hand!) and told her to play, opining that ‘idle hands are the Devil’s playthings.’ The four girls formed a quartet (two violins, viola and cello) and were quite famous in the New England area when they were teens, must have been in the 1930s. “They traveled as far as Indianapolis, though how that came about I’ve never known!” we were told.

Steven found a couple of movies there. The thing they have in common is an orchestra background.


I noticed these interesting dining chairs. “Yeah, Mom made those. And the table,” they told us. Apparently you could buy frames back in the 60s and put together your own chairs.


She must have been a seamstress as well. There were sewing supplies, and I picked up this wonderful piece of vintage boucle wool fabric, the perfect size for a throw for my sofa.


I tried it out last night. It’s toasty warm, light as a feather, and a complete kitty magnet – I had one cat on my lap, and the other tucked into the folds of fabric where it dangled by my feet.

Speaking of kitties, the next stop was another estate sale where I found this. (Nope, that’s definitely not the price I paid!)

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At first I thought the can was empty, it weighed so little, but when I opened it there was an unopened bag of catnip in there. So I brought it home. Wasn’t sure if the ‘nip would still have any attractive qualities, but evidently it is as fresh as the day it was organically hand-picked. I sprinkled some on the cushion in the cat basket, and two seconds later Noll Baxter was in there sniffing.


And rolling.

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I couldn’t get any really good pictures because he wouldn’t stop writhing!

This adorable little ornament came from the same sale

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along with a strange little Pinocchio. about 5” tall. My friend Marcia thought he looked scary when I showed him to her during our Skype call this morning, but I love him. (Maybe he’s better in person.)

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I admit he does a great giant zombie imitation, looming over the snowman house.


And…I just discovered he can walk!!

Saturday I went to another estate sale, and it was almost a bust. They were only letting in a few people at a time, and there was a line, and it was cold. Then one of the guys working the garage part of the sale turned on an old radio, and Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer was suddenly blaring. I commented to the guy behind me in line that being cold was bad enough without Rudolph, which made him laugh (thank heavens). Then the music changed to the Little Drummer Boy, which seemed to cement our new friendship. We chatted as the line slowly diminished in front of us. Turns out he knew the family having the estate sale, and that his dad had been a house builder who built the house we were at! So a fun conversation was definitely a mitigating factor. Didn’t find anything to buy until I was leaving and paused at a box of books in the garage, which included a whole stack of these mid-century guidance pamphlets.


I had to get the one published in 1957, the year our house was built. I think it will be a fun addition to the guest bathroom downstairs! And we’ve been getting all kinds of good advice from it. Like “How to be a lipstick artist…1.) Choose the proper color…and 2.) Apply the lipstick carefully.” Boys get good advice too. I wonder what the correct answer to this little quiz might be?


Saturday afternoon we did something that turned out to be surprisingly thrifty – and involves something I bought recently at a garage sale! We went to a tree farm and got our Christmas tree. A big one.


Certainly the tallest tree I’ve ever had! Yes, it’s going to take a ladder to do the top part. Hope our ornaments will do it justice. Oh, and the thrifty part? Well, aside from the farm being only a couple of miles from home, every one of their u-cut trees was a whopping fifteen bucks. The people were a hoot there too. They had a big sign that said ‘Christmas trees with personality.’ Yes, but what kind of personality, I asked. “Oh, different trees have different personalities,” the lady told us with a twinkle in her eye. “Don’t cut down any of the ones that reach out to slap you!”



  1. How did you make the ornament walk? Love the picutres of Noll Baxter.

  2. Marvelous tree!! Cathy H and I went to the Rose Bowl Swapmeet would have died and gone to heaven....all the mid cen mod stuff around, and all the gay guys with they boyfriends looking for stuff for their condos! no real deals unless you wanted to spend a lot of money...then they were ready to negotiate. got a lot of charming old photos from 1960s and back though and I love them! be sure to post photo of your one tree forest! going to disneyland in the rain tomorrow night for the employee party....will freeze our toes off!

  3. The lil gingerbread house ornament is the sweetest and I could just see that chair recovered I love it! Why didn't you take them home?!

  4. The Pinocchio is my absolute fave! I can't believe he walks! Is he a wind up or just gravity motivated? He is too cute!

  5. I would of bought those those to. I have to beg my husband to go with me. We went to an estate sale this weekend close to our land in the country. I hit the jackpot because she was shutting down. My husband and I visited for a long time and had a nice visit resulting in my husband finding out who own a bunch of peaces of land around us. I told him see you need to go with me more , you never know who you will run into.


I really love your comments. Thanks for coming along on my thrifty adventures!

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