Saturday, March 30, 2013

Close to Home

Don’t you love it when you only go to two sales, they’re both less than a mile from home, they both start early, and you find good stuff – stuff that’s been on your “look for” list – at both? AND it’s a gorgeous sunny weekend with spring blooms busting out all over the place? I say woo hoo!

Cherry blossoms on Holiday Dr.Spring bloomsSpring flowers

Sales around here generally start at 9 in the morning, and they’re tetchy if you show up early. (As they have every right to be.) Since I go to the dog park every morning, I have to keep an eye on the time on weekends so I don’t miss too much good stuff. Of course I rarely have to keep an eye on the time the rest of the week, so no need for pity. (Yes, I know perfectly well just how good I have it.) But both Friday and Saturday this week there were sales at 8:00, close to home. So I could swoop by on my way to the park. Thus I arrive before all the good stuff (if any) has been carried off, and the neighborhood gets to enjoy my dogs barking in the car. (Guess I win on that one.) I thought at first that Friday’s sale was all kid stuff, but right away I picked up two terrific bath mats for a buck each. The green stripe looks great in our master bath.


However, there’s a downside. First you have to know that my husband and I absolutely detest scented laundry products. Dryer sheets especially. I know, I know, a lot of you swear by them. To each her own; all my nose detects is chemicals, and really strong ones at that. I just can’t bring myself to believe they’re good for people. And the other factor in play here is that I have a cold – and can’t smell a darned thing. Which I didn’t even realize until I got these mats home and Steven immediately threw them in the washer to get rid of the dryer sheet smell.

Except it hasn’t come out. Two wash cycles later and he says they are as strong as ever. So my question is: how does one neutralize a scent like this? I’m reluctant to use bleach in case it takes out the color. Borax? Oxyclean? Vinegar? Bury them in peat for a few months? Help!

Swirling around in the washing machine with them is a cute kid’s pajama top. A friend recently pointed out to me that if Zoe had something to wear at night she might not insist on crawling under the covers with us, and then hogging the center of the bed. It’s amazing how much room a 30 pound dog can take up. (Of course MY dogs are NOT spoiled.) Her saying that caused me to have a ‘duh’ moment, because our first Springer mix, Kate, also got cold at night and wore jammies.

Katie Flashdance

So now the Zoester has some too…except (you knew it) hers smells like dryer sheets.

Zoe in pajamasZoe dog' sPJs

I’m pleased at how well her PJs match her new ten-cent collar from a couple of weeks ago. Such a stylish girl.

Stylish Zoe

Fortunately, I did find something there – that I’ve been looking for – without dryer sheet smell. You see lots and lots of picture frames on driveways, but it’s rare to find a bunch of matching ones. Score! Nine for three bucks. Really a score.

Stack o' frames

So that took care of Friday…one sale, dog park, laundry. On Saturday I spotted another 8 a.m. sale and thought the address sounded vaguely familiar. This would be because the street is 6 blocks down the hill from my house and we pass it all the time. Thought at first there wasn’t anything here but it turned out there was more in the house, where the dad and 8 year old son were moving an armoire into the living room. They had moved out some time ago and the house has been on the market, so it was pretty empty. But in one corner I saw a rolled up rug standing on end, and I liked the design, what I could see of it, so I asked the price. Ten dollars, the dad said. I wasn’t sure I liked it ten dollars worth so I said let me think about it. Without hardly drawing breath he said, “How about five?” When I didn’t immediately say yes he threw in, “And I’ll carry it to your car for you.” By now I’m laughing and agreeing to five if the whole thing looks good, so we unrolled it. Yup, all good. About then his wife came in and he told her he’d sold the rug for five. “But I thought we were asking ten,” she said. “This woman drives a really hard bargain,” he claimed. His wife just laughed so I think she knows him pretty well.

When he stuffed the rerolled rug into the passenger seat of the car (the dogs were in the back) he said, “Your dogs will really like this rug.” You know what? He was right!

Edward likes the rugZoe on the new rug

Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Perks of Blogging

I have a friend who thoroughly dislikes blogs. Probably stems from early encounters with blogs that were basically people’s diaries, meanderings that sometimes are best left unshared. I think we need a new word other than blog, since many people now use a blogging platform to share all kinds of information and writing. I’ve always thought of this blog as a column, the kind of thing you’d read in a back section of the daily paper in the days when people read daily papers and they hired columnists to write for them. I sometimes see myself as an interviewer, which spices up my driveway meanderings for me. (Like considering myself a detective when doing library work.) The same friend claims that I can get anyone’s life story in five minutes on a driveway. Heck, I’ve done it in two minutes in a grocery line!

Didn’t get to do any driveway interviewing this week. Only found a couple of sales to stop at, bought nothing, did no chatting up. But I still have a couple of new possessions, thanks to blogs. The first to arrive, straight from the publisher in New York in a package weighing nearly SEVEN POUNDS, was the book I won from the giveaway on Couture Allure.

Big Book I won!

Can’t wait to savor every page. I’ve been dipping in here and there.

Striped and Pleated DressWonderful fashions on the movie setDresses from 1957Fabulous 80s fasions

Then a day or two later, another package arrived. This one came from QOFC reader Grammy Goodwill, who noticed I like vintage embroideries. (Oh wait - you noticed that too? Hmmm, maybe I should write about other stuff soon!) She very kindly sent me a lovely pair of pillowcases.

Vintage PillowcasesEmbroidered Water Lilies

With water lilies – one of my very favorite plants! I am thrilled.

Embroidered Water Lily

Back when I still had my little backyard pond, having a water lily open its petals never lost its charm.

lily edge oilpink lily oil

So, big thanks for both wonderful gifts. It’s exciting to head out to the mailbox when great stuff keeps arriving. Wonder what’s next? Oh yeah…probably that bicycle wheel I bought on eBay, because I’m hoping to make something like this!

All I need now are the spoons!

Saturday, March 16, 2013



I gave away 4,113 books this week.

Had no idea how many folks might take me up on the offer of a Sleeping Dogs Lie free ebook, and I’m delighted at the results. Hope those 4000+ folks enjoy the book (and yes, come back for the sequels!).

I celebrated in a thoroughly vintage way. I bought a hat!

My friend Judy and I hit a couple of sales in the neighborhood on Friday. One was an estate sale that had a lot of vintage clothing from the Fifties & Sixties. Some pieces had classy looking labels, others were homemade. Or made by a local seamstress. They were nicely done, and I don’t remember seeing a lot of sewing supplies in the sale. In any case, there was a table of hats in one of the bedrooms, and by accident or design a mirror hung on the wall nearby. I probably wouldn’t have noticed the hats, but Judy did, and we started exclaiming over their cuteness and trying a few on. She looked adorable in several of them. I was just explaining I rarely find a hat that fits as I picked up a little navy blue number and popped it onto my head.

And fell in love.

It was the feather that did it.

Vintage hat backvintage hat front

I put it on as soon as I paid for it and wore it away. People smiled as they spotted it. They may have been thinking, “Who is that insane woman with the silly hat?” but they were smiling, so I choose to believe they were thinking, “Wow, I wish I’d gotten here earlier so I could be wearing that hat!”

hat 1 Vintage hat label Eva Mae Modes

Perhaps it is a lucky hat, because I found some other good deals as well. That same estate sale yielded up a set of placemats and napkins in lovely Fifties pink and gray.

Fifties placemat setFifties placemat detail

There were other vintage linens, but I restrained myself and bought only this embroidered linen towel.

embroidered ducks

I’ve decided to use my vintage linen towels in the half-bath off my home office. This one still has a never-washed, shiny sizing finish. I’m thinking perhaps someone embroidered the ducks as a baby shower gift, and the towel was never used. But now it will be!

Found a few more sales this morning. I about had a heart attack going to the first…forgot I had changed the voice on Gertrude Pemberton Smith, my GPS. When a deep male voice boomed out with the first driving instruction I was startled to say the least. And that first sale would not have been worth an actual heart attack, though I did manage to spend a dime there. Our Zoe got a new dress, er, collar.


The next sale had a couple of tables of neatly folded clothing, but even the neatest stack can’t make up for prices in the $5 to $10 range. Figured everything would be overpriced, but it was mostly their discarded clothes they were too proud of. Got this puppy gate for a buck. Now I have enough to keep one downstairs, instead of hauling one up and down.

Yet another gate

Seemed like maybe there were two families having the sale, which could account for the disparity in prices. One of the sellers was looking over the table of dishes when I reached that spot in the garage. She picked up a mug and exclaimed, “Hey, these are my mugs, the one we use at home.” I looked – a nice sturdy neutral mug. Then I looked at the table again, and exclaimed in my turn, “And these are the glasses at my house, and I need to replace two that got broken!”

Glasses that match mine

From there I headed to a sale close to home, a small Forties house down the hill from us that was pretty much full of Pottery Barn stuff. And for once not overpriced. Ended up with three new-to-me sofa pillows…

Sofa pillows

…plus a good story. When I left there were two teenage boys helping move some end tables outside to load. I overheard one of them say, “That is wild, man, that your dad helped that guy steal that stuff!” Apparently a few minutes earlier, while the female half of a shopping couple was inside paying for some small thing, the male half asked the teen’s dad if he’d give him a hand loading some furniture in his pickup. Of course the dad said yes, they loaded up some stuff, the woman came out and they drove away…without paying for the furniture. Talk about trash behavior – and nerve.

Took my paid-for pillows home, then looked at the clock. The day-before’s estate sale was to go half-price starting at noon. So a little past that time I drove the few blocks back to see if there were any great hats left. Though the house was by no means empty yet, the contents had certainly diminished. But sometimes that can be a good thing; you see items that were covered up before. Like the pair of Fifties twin-size bedspreads that I got for five bucks. They’re just right for my children’s literature guest room.

Fifties bedspreadsVintage bedspread on vintage bed

We’ve just moved that bookcase into that room; hence its bareness. I have a bunch o’ stuff to arrange there, while still leaving room for guests’ things. Like CPAP machines. One weekend there were six of us sleeping here, and four of us use CPAPs. We called it our CPAP slumber party.

The hat table was sadly depleted, sigh. Another lady stood by it looking at a little woven-rattan purse. Inside the purse was…it looked like another vintage hat. “I think they kept an unfinished project in here,” she commented. I asked if she were taking it, and she said she just wanted the bag. So we ended our shopping at the same time, and after she paid fifty cents for the bag, she gave me the contents.

Unfinished vintage hat frontUnfinished vintage hat sideUnfinished vintage hat inside

It’s a partially complete vintage hat! Deep brown velveteen over a wired buckram form. Looks like the lining is sewn together and ready to insert, and there’s some extra velveteen and a ribbon, perhaps for the hatband. I’m going to have fun with this.

P1010879Unfinished hat liningUnfinsihed hat ribbon

Wonder where I can find a curly brown feather?


I need a curly feather for this hat!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

You Snooze…I Win!

I entered a giveaway the other day on the Couture Allure Vintage Fashion Blog. The prize was this new book put out by the Smithsonian. I wanted it. I didn’t win.


Sigh. But when I checked my email this morning, I learned that two of the ten winners never got in touch to claim their prize. And they drew again and my number came up. Woo hoo!

Can’t wait to get my hands on this book, which has been published in conjunction with a new show L.A. Frock Stars. If you like vintage clothing be sure to watch the first episode on the website. And yes, check out Couture Allure too. Talk about eye candy! I’ve learned a lot in the weeks I’ve been reading it.

So thank you so much, Jody at Couture Allure. In honor of the subject at hand, I’m using a font named Chanel!

Since we’re on the subject of book giveaways – yes, the Sleeping Dogs Lie ebook giveaway is ticking right along. Plenty more copies available. That’s one of the beauty of ebooks, you don’t run out. So far we’ve given away just shy of 2500 copies – it’s averaging about one book per minute! So download and enjoy. Giveaway ends Friday night!

Sleeping Dogs Lie Cover

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Even Better than Frugal…it’s FREE!!

Here’s the best kind of giveaway…it’s for everyone! You don’t have to leave a comment (though that is always welcomed!) or jump through any hoops. (Well, almost, depending on whether you have a Kindle or not.) Starting tomorrow (not today, Sunday, but tomorrow, Monday March 11) my Sleeping Dogs Lie ebook will be available for free download for 5 days!

Sleeping Dogs Lie Cover

Though the usual price of $2.99 is less than a fancy cup of coffee, here at this blog we know how far we can stretch three bucks. So this is your chance to read a fun book and then take the three bucks you didn’t spend on it to a yard sale and get something fabulous. (Be sure to tell me if you do!)

The fine print:

  • Yes! The Sleeping Dogs Lie ebook is available for free download from Amazon from March 11 to 15, 2013.
  • Available only for the Kindle
  • Don’t have a Kindle? You can get a free Kindle app and read Sleeping Dogs Lie on your computer, tablet etc.
  • Sequels In Dogs We Trust & The Dog Prince are available for $2.99 each as ebooks.
  • Paperbacks of all titles are still $15 each.
  • If you are an Amazon Prime member, you’ll be able to BORROW Sleeping Dogs Lie for your Kindle for at least the next three months. (I’m evaluating that program with this book.)
  • Can you tell your friends and family? You bet! Anyone who might enjoy it is welcome…but free is only for these five days!

What’s the book about?

On a rainy October night, Louisa McGuire waits in the car while her friend Bob makes a dash into the grocery store. Soon he comes out again—but with him is a woman in a sleek red suit. She leads him to her Mercedes and they drive away. Has Louisa been ditched, or has Bob been kidnapped? She enlists the help of her cousin Kay, owner of an antique store, and two intrepid canines, Jack and Emily Ann, to follow the scant clues to find Bob. Find him they do—but when they learn who he really is, they find out that the stakes are high. Will they avoid being the next victims of a cold-blooded murderer?

Go! Fetch! Read!

Monday, March 4, 2013


This is Women’s Money Week. I'd like to celebrate by telling you the story of a torn dollar bill.

I was at the dog park a couple of weeks ago, one of those gray wet mornings when the dogs are having a great time running around and getting muddy, and I was chatting with two other women about everything and nothing. Frank and Al paused on their walk to say good morning. As we talked, Frank reached into his pocket for something and a crumpled dollar bill fell to the ground.

He didn’t notice, but my dog ZoĆ« did. She ran up to retrieve it. I reached down and grabbed it before she could and handed it back to Frank.

He was in a jocular mood, and said something like, “A dollar bill! Hah, means nothing to me.” And with a big grin he tore it in two and tossed it up into the air. We all watched the pieces flutter to the ground, where they stayed. In a few minutes he and Al walked on.

Judy and Alison and I waited until they were far enough away not to notice, then Judy picked up the pieces of the dollar bill. “What was that about?” she said.

“Beats me, but I’ve got some tape at home.”

“It’s yours.” She handed the pieces to me. And I knew what to do with a dollar.

Although garage sales are thin on the ground this time of year in Oregon, I found an estate sale later that morning. And for one dollar I purchased a professional-quality whisk for my kitchen, and a vintage sugar dish that I've repurposed to hold my homemade body lotion. (Three parts coconut oil, one part olive oil, whipped into a lovely creamy froth.)


Monday’s theme for Women’s Money Week is “Increasing Income.” Picking money up off the ground is one way to do it. Easier than getting a second job or working more hours or asking for a raise, though limited in scope. But the best way I know of increasing income is to utilize its corollary: “Decreasing Outgo.” And if you’ve read my blog before, you know I've always done that not by deprivation, but by confining most of my shopping to driveways. All it takes is a little time and some patience, and the knowledge that if you keep showing up amazing bargains will be yours.

How amazing? Decide for yourself. Here’s a random selection of finds that all cost a dollar or less.

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2’ x 3’ wool rug!

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Le Creuset kettle!



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Vintage Vera linen in perfect condition!


Perhaps you have no interest in kitchenware or tools or DVDs etc. But I bet you wear clothes! Secondhand clothing is the biggest bargain around. You can have much classier and better quality items if you let someone else wear them for a bit first. You’ll even find some with the tags still on them, bought and never worn. How classy, how much less expensive? The twenty-five cent cashmere sweater is what I think of as my Personal Monetary Unit, against which I measure most other purchases. And I have found this deal more than once. Want a Jones New York silk skirt, Armani shirt, J. Crew wool sweater, Wrangler denim jacket, Pendleton wool bathrobe, and a linen sweater from Ireland—all for five bucks? You can have deals like this. But you’ll never find them at the mall!

So here’s to Women’s Money Week. Decrease your outgo and have the most fun doing it. Shop on driveways!

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