Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Faux French Door

We went to the HFH Re-store the other day to look for a French door for my office. (We’ve come to the fixing/upgrading doors part of our do-for-the-house list.) Didn’t find any the right size, darn it. But then we had to look around to see what else was there. (It’s like when you drop off a box of donations at the thrift store…don’t you always have to take a quick look to see if there’s something you need?) As I may have mentioned, we have a biggish family room downstairs that we use for a home theatre. So far it’s rather scantily furnished, being further down that same list.

There were a number of theatre seats for sale, in short rows of two and three, which were a little tempting. But they weren’t comfortable enough or vintage enough, so we turned away from them…only to spy this.


You know you’ve chosen the right life mate when you simultaneously fall for a vintage beauty shop dryer chair. But we did, and now she’s in the back row of our home theatre seats.


I was entranced by the instructions stapled inside to guide you in installing the dryer unit.


I love her. She’s quite comfy. And yes, the dryer works, so maybe if things get tight I can start a little home business down there. Although with my skills in hairdressing, I’d be well advised to stick to the writing. Maybe I’ll take my laptop down there and sit in her to write. Really, she’s much better than a French door! Of course, she did come with a feature I’ll never use.


I think she needs a name. So far I’m calling her Mildred, but I’m open to suggestions.

I ended up spending $6.50 at sales this weekend. Perhaps finding the chair encouraged the thrifting gods to come through with some movies.


I could sit there to browse through my new-to-me magazines. I’m not likely to make any of the projects, but at a buck for the whole stack I can definitely get my money’s worth just looking at the pictures.


If the weather gets too warm, I can wear my new Hello Kitty shirt for watching movies.


But I doubt if my other two buys from the fruitful driveways of Salem will interact much with the beauty chair.


Hey, I’m trying something new. This blog is now available as a Kindle subscription on Amazon. For 99 cents a month you’ll get the old boggity-blog automatically and never have to worry about missing a posting again. (I’m just sure that’s been an issue for many. Right.) There’s even a two-week free trial thingie, in case you have buyer’s remorse. And we all know that thrifters CAN have buyer’s remorse about a buck, right? After all, in my world a dollar is equivalent (on good days!) to four cashmere sweaters.

And while we’re indulging in Shameless Self Promotion…if you have an e-reader (Kindle or Nook etc.), you might like to know that my new book, The Dog Prince, is now available on Amazon and Smashwords. With the cover the majority of you liked best (number 5…which was my favorite too). I’m still working on getting the paperback version printed, but that will be done soon as well.

Just sayin’!

(Added a couple of hours later...THANK YOU to whoever ordered the very first copy of The Dog Prince for their Kindle!)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Another Darned Good Reason to Shop on Driveways!

After I finished Sunday’s blog post, I wandered back into the living room to find that, far from going back to her nap, Zoe had decided to work on a little art project.


Evidently she decided my former Citron Santa Monica pillow cover should be more of an eyelet fabric, and she got carried away.




But this is one of the big reasons I prefer to shop on driveways: I just don’t want to have to worry about my stuff. I’m quite sorry to say goodbye to this piece, it hurts way less than it would if she’d worked her magic on this pillow, or this one, or this. I was able to calmly take the thing away from her. Not worth getting bent over, and the free-box pillow inside is still good, so I can try again.

Meanwhile, I’ve saved my money for better things. Like gas, to make our now-daily trips to the dog park, where the Queen Anne’s lace began blooming last week.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Relative Values

I had an email the other day from Austin at, telling me about their Garage Saling World Championship. Basically, you spend up to $25 at yard sales, blog about it, send them a link to your blog, and you’re in the running for a $25 VISA gift card (ironically something that can’t be used at garage sales!). Judging criteria: best bang for the buck. Heck, I figure I’m a shoo in! Then I started thinking about the whole bang-for-the-buck thing, and I’ve decided they’ve chosen a rather complicated criteria.

For instance, we could look at resale value. I got a lot of bang out of the vintage toy monkey that cost me two bucks and sold for $130.


And that Rolex box (just the box, mind you!) that cost fifty cents…it came with a great story behind it, and sold for over $150.

Rolex box

Finding something that would cost many, many times what you paid if you bought it in a store is always a thrill, and probably what makes garaging an addictive sport. I shall immodestly give myself full marks in this category. Some examples: last year I spent $20 for four Hans Wegner CH23 chairs. I had no idea who they were by, but liked their midcentury vibe. It was so exciting to research them and realize what I’d found.


I just went looking for current prices on these. There are some on eBay priced at over $700…EACH. Everything else I found online had been sold. I think I did well that day! Ditto for the day I picked up two living room chairs that I could tell were midcentury, but were so dirty I was afraid the finish had been ruined. But I got both for $7, and they turned out to be in beautiful condition under the dirt, and designed by Hans Olsen. Just saw one for sale online – for $1100…and I have two of them. Woo hoo!

Hans Olsen chair

I also place a high value on feeling clever or smart. Don’t you love finding something you can repurpose? I picked up a toy xylophone this weekend for fifty cents, the second in a month.


I made a wind chime out of the first one that’s hanging in the crabapple tree outside my office window. I like it so much I’m going to make a couple more with this one, combining notes that will make nice chords.


Then there was the shirt I picked up a few weeks ago for a couple of bucks, planning to resell it. Citron Santa Monica brand, which if you hang around places like Nordstrom's you know is pretty pricey. Alas, there was a small stain on the shirt I didn’t notice, so I couldn’t resell it. But it was perfect for recovering a sofa pillow I plucked out of a free box, and now it’s Zoe’s favorite companion as she naps on the couch.

Zoe & pillow

For me, the true measure of value is probably how useful something is to me.. Take our apple peeler. I paid a buck for it back in February of 2006.

apple peeler

These puppies cost maybe $20, a nice discount but hardly earth shaking. It was several years old, and had belonged to a kindergarten teacher who used it in her classroom, so it had a nice history. Didn’t know how well it would work, but it turned out to be a fabulous machine. Peels, cores and slices in about two seconds. We learned to make tarte tatin which takes no time with a sheet of puff pastry out of the freezer and is an absolutely killer dessert. Warm apple and cinnamon smells in your kitchen on a winter’s night…priceless. And the darned machine will even peel potatoes! Lots of bang in that buck.

As pragmatic as I am, I have plenty of finds that are in my home purely because they make me smile. Like my ten-cent Steiff bunny

Steiff bunny

or the house of blocks ($1) that I arranged into one of my favorite reading slogans


or this group of folks (less than $2 for all of them).


Even Disapproving Angel Kitty cracks me up.


Still, garaging is not just about stuff, it’s about people, and this is probably the most valuable part of all. You know how much I value the stories that come with the stuff I buy. I love my apple peeler, but knowing it spent years making five-year-olds excited about learning adds so much to its value. We just love the round rag rug I found a few weeks ago, but the note detailing how it was made added so much to the purchase. When I go garaging with a friend, the time we spend together is worth so much. I even have friends that I met at garage sales, like Linda. We used to get together weekly to play rounds on our hammer dulcimers. Neither of us can play worth a darn, but we had a great time! Here she is in her $5 lion dance mask. Hmmmm, maybe she should win the contest! 

So how did I do this week in the bang-for-the-buck sweepstakes? Ironically, I spent a total of $24.95 – just squeaked under the $25 limit! The big find was something my husband spent several hours out shopping for this week, a screen door!


We need several, but this is the right size for a couple of our doors. Cost $20, which if you’ve priced these puppies lately you’ll know is a great deal. And the guy I bought it from was a hoot. He had to show me his new screen door, one of those retractable ones. He rolled it in and out several times so I could fully appreciate its coolness.

From a lady nursing a 3-week-old baby I picked up a full length mirror. We’ve lived for nearly a year without one, which has been a change from our last house, which had entire mirrored walls in every room. Now I have to figure out where to hang this one.


For entertainment I scored a couple of DVDs (Miss Pettigrew is one of my absolute faves, and the book is even better)


and a stack of free magazines. The lady at this sale actually came out of the house to give me the latest ones she had when she saw I’d picked some out of her free box.


And for this week’s vintage score, we have two adorable milk glass salt shakers, probably from the Sixties. Dang, they’re cute – and they were a dime each.


There was even free entertainment. You have to love a scarecrow dancing to the music only he can hear from Kokopelli’s flute.


Whether or not I ever win anything in the Garage Saling World Championships…I win, every time I go garaging!


Sunday, July 15, 2012

Return of the Sloth

Boy, do I have loyal friends. I missed blogging last week, and my friend Diana emailed to make sure I was all right! (Thanks, Didi!) Truth is I was just being a sloth…and it wasn’t a terribly exciting weekend for garaging. Oh, the stuff I brought home was just fine, including a pump sprayer and some great leather gardening gloves for yard work, a brand new scrubbie thing


some notebook paper reinforcers from a free box for that once in a blue moon time you need one (hmmm, wonder what other use I could find for these…)


a couple of Alan J. Pakula movies (nothing like a good conspiracy story)


more whiffle balls for Zoe (they don’t last very long under her determined onslaughts)


and a heavy corduroy shirt for next winter…if I can get it away from Miss Pup


but nary a story for anything.

This week was a little more chatty. Met another Zoe


and a beagle mix named Bagel, who was absolutely determined NOT to look at that camera thing.


Chatted for a while with a nice lady (hi, Robin!) who’s being going through a bunch o’ stuff. Her mom’s in the hospital, she’s had health problems, but where we really connected was that we’ve both been through Jobs from Hell. (No, not my last one…though it had a few moments!) A lot of you know that there are some really toxic workplaces out there, which can make your life just miserable. I’ve been through two of those, so if you’re going through it I encourage you not to doubt your own sanity, and to get out as soon as you possibly can. My first Job from Hell, I actually worked for an embezzler who went to jail not too long after I left there. As far as I was concerned she should have gotten a life sentence for the misery she caused. But hey, living well IS the best revenge, so I win!

Robin had some nice plants for sale, and it was really hard to resist bringing home most of them. We’re starting the relandscaping of our yard next month with the building of new retaining walls, so planting can’t start till after that. Right now this is the view from my office windows.


The only reason it’s not even worse is that my fabulous husband has been assiduously weeding in prep for new stuff. We don’t want to use any herbicides so we can reestablish our wildlife habitat status. We’re still thinking about what plants we’ll want, but Robin had a bunch of crocosmias, so I brought home three pots. I’m going to plant them in a big container for now until we can put them in the ground.


My other finds this weekend were some sweet old padded hangers


some Gurley candles I hope to resell


and 12 skeins of yummy vintage yarn in a beautiful peach. Haven’t decided whether to try to use it or resell it.


At the same sale I found this skein of wool and mohair, unbelievably soft, for – are you ready? – a dime! I’m thinking about making a tea cozy with it. Haven’t knitted for a long time, but like riding a bicycle, the skills stay with you. I hope!


Stopped at a bunch of other sales but found nothing to buy. But I did get into conversation at one with a mother and adult daughter who had three of their four little dogs with them, so we started chatting about dogs. I told them about the fabulous dog park here in Salem where I’ve started taking our two every day. Now, I’ve been to dog parks before, but never anything like this place; they were limited in size, with chain link fence, scrubby grass or bare dirt. Certainly nowhere near as big as the one at Minto Brown Island Park.


I’m not sure why I didn’t start going here sooner, since it’s only a 4 minute drive from my house. Guess I was a bit afraid we might meet mean dogs, and Zoe is a bit shy. But she’s really coming out of her shell and is having so much fun running and running and running. Edward doesn’t run so much, but he takes his self-appointed duties as goodwill ambassador seriously, and trots all over greeting everyone.


I must have been pretty convincing about what a great dog park this is, because that evening I saw some small dogs that looked familiar, then heard, “Hey, you were at our garage sale today!” And they came back again last night. I guess Edward can be my inspiration, so as I trot from sale to sale I can be a goodwill ambassador for the dog park.


The best part of the dog park is when we get home. No more teenage dog getting into things, no more chewing. A tired dog IS a good dog!


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