Monday, October 28, 2013

Mini Vacations

Years and years ago I got a bit lost driving home across town (whatever town I was living in at the time; we've moved a lot!). When I arrived at my destination, only a few minutes later than planned, I realized that I felt as though I had really traveled. It only takes a modicum of new sights for me to feel I've gone somewhere, and on that day our practice of ‘mini vacations’ was born.

Probably one of the things I love about garaging is the mini-vacation aspect. Nearly every weekend I drive down some street I've never been on before, and I certainly talk to people I've never met. And what do many of us do on vacation but shop for souvenirs? My souvenirs are frugal and bring back wonderful memories.

We’re heading into that time of year when the sales are dwindling. We managed to find three or four, and I picked up a pot that is a smaller version of one I got a few weeks ago
and a couple of Vera napkins. Any meal will be more cheerful when we use these babies!
But this only took us to about 10:15, so Judy said, “Hey, let me take you to my favorite thrift store.” Which turned out to be the one run by the local humane society; how could I say no to that? I admit to liking sales on driveways best, but this was a fun little thrift store. And since I’d never been there before I got that mini vacation feeling. We roamed around for over an hour. Some of us tried on hats.

Some of us bought that hat (and another) after bravely negotiating a 50% discount. She’s getting awfully good at bargaining!

My souvenirs from that mini vacation included something that may have been a souvenir from someone else’s travels. I can’t help wondering if this originally came from Colonial Williamsburg or some other historic site’s gift shop.
I've never embroidered with silk thread before, so this will be fun…and those motifs look like acorns to me! I also picked up these two round boxes made of thin, flexible wood for packaging Christmas gifts
but my favorite find was this single midcentury candle holder of dark wood. We hunted and hunted for a mate, but alas there was only one.
Possibly Danish. Possibly walnut. Possibly will be used as a classy stand for my little acorn thimble case.
On Saturday we had decided to go to an event with our dogs. Judy loaded her Buddy in the car with my Zoe and we started off. You won’t be surprised to know that we left way early and had a list of sales to stop by on the way! I found another item on my look-for list
and some pretty candles for a fall table.
All told I spent $6 this week. I told you mini vacations are frugal!

The event we were heading for was a lure coursing practice. Some of you are scratching your heads and looking quizzical. Lure coursing is a dog sport, usually practiced by sighthounds like borzoi and ridgebacks and whippets. There’s a club down in Albany, and for their practices any kind of dog can attend and try it out. Basically a line pulled by a motor is set up, a regular old plastic grocery bag is attached to the end as the lure, and the dogs take turns chasing it. Most dogs really love to run, and if they have much of a prey drive, chasing something really revs them up. We had no idea how Buddy and Zoe would do, but it sounded interesting.

It was about an hour drive; our destination was a beautiful farm in rolling hills. We were lucky that another participant arrived at the same time we did, because we couldn't see where things were set up from the road, and had to follow her across a field (not too muddy, thank heavens) and around a bend. There were about a dozen dogs in all; mostly various sighthound breeds, and a few herding dogs, and Buddy the Springer.

And Zoe.
 The only dog smaller than her was the Italian greyhound (and that little sucker could run!). In the midst of all those Afghans and borzoi and wolfhounds, Zoe looked like a little scrap of a dog. When it was our first turn, we grabbed the lure and walked way across the field, set it down, removed her leash. Then I flung up my hand to indicate ‘go’ and the bag started away – and so did she. She was totally jazzed when the bag stopped and she got to grab it and give it a good shake. Buddy did great too. You could tell they were having a ball.

All told, each dog ran three times. Watching those big hounds run full out was amazing. The ground literally shook at times. If you love dogs, keep an eye out for lure coursing in your area. You’ll get to stand around in a damp field, huddled into your sweater when the wind comes up, and cheer every dog as they run the way they were meant to.

We managed to get some video of our dogs. When I edited Zoe’s, I could hear that someone near Judy (who was filming) really got into my dog’s run and was yelling, “Go! Go go go go go!” And it wasn’t even me.


At the end of the afternoon we piled back into the Civic and headed across the field to the road. Both dogs went to sleep immediately, and Judy gave a big sigh.

“Now that,” she said, “was a mini vacation!”

Sunday, October 20, 2013


I recently noticed a house on the next street has gone on the market, so I was interested when I saw there was an estate sale at that address this weekend. Wish I could have known the family who lived there, because they had very cool stuff. Lots of art, real art. Lots of decorative things made from metal. Lots of high priced stuff that I didn’t have a hope of bringing home! But we still did okay, and the house itself was certainly worth visiting. I’ve never seen a window like this one: Amazing MCM windowIsn’t that cantilevered glass amazing?

I headed straight for the bedrooms (still looking for another guest bed). But the only thing I wanted in there was a couple of Vera tablecloths, and the prices were prohibitive. But look at the paneling in one corner of the room.

Cool MCM paneling

Another room had mostly Christmas things and toys. I know we’d have been kindred spirits because of the toys! Almost the first thing I saw in there was something I’ve wanted for years.             Steiff bunny puppet Steiff rabbit puppetA Steiff bunny puppet. No button in his ear, but I took a close look and could see where the button had been removed. Definitely a Steiff. Six bucks, but hey, I wanted him. On another table I spotted a little rooster and realized he was made from mohair, and only a dollar.

Little Steiff rooster

He came along, and when I got home discovered he’s also a Steiff. I think an older one because of his metal feet. He’s having a good time now going for a ride with my Czech jester.

Riding rooster

Judy caught up with me then; she’d headed first to the garage. “I bought a lamp,” she told me, “but I want a second opinion.” How flattering when the second opinion desired is yours!

When we reached the garage and she showed me the lamp, I tried to break it to her gently. “No, you shouldn’t buy that lamp. I should buy that lamp!” Sorry, didn’t get a picture of it – cool midcentury teak floor lamp with three gold-shaded lights with the star cutouts from the period. But we have a rule – whoever sees it first gets it! So Judy has a new lamp to go with her MCM clock. Dang, I may have to start hitting garages first!

I did find a little something in the garage, some tiny wooden Christmas ornaments lurking in a box o’ junk. At a quarter apiece they fit my budget,

Tiny ornaments

and I love Santa in his pink roadster with the wheels that turn

Santa's pink roadster

and this little girl with her stars.

Star girl

We tried two or three garage sales and found nothing, then headed for the Methodist Church rummage sale downtown. On the way we saw that the Episcopalians were also having a sale this weekend, but didn’t open until noon. So the Methodists got us first. Those ladies were a hoot. We walked into a side room labeled “Collectibles” (it’s always interesting to see what is considered collectible) and I asked the lady keeping an eye on things how it was going. “Great!” she said. “I’ve only had one guy in here that I wanted to shoot.” Whoa, seriously? “Yup. He kept fingering this ring someone donated, and he waited until I was distracted and then made off with it.” He stole from a church rummage sale? Yikes. “It really annoyed me,” she admitted. “I coulda shot him.”

“Don’t mess with the church ladies!” I said, and all the church ladies chuckled. You could see they enjoyed the image of themselves as dangerous women.

There was another side room with ladies clothing, and right away I spotted a jacket I liked, of a brand I like.

Jacket detailBoiled wool jacket

Purple boiled wool, and comfy as heck. Mine. I think I’m going to change out the buttons to some vintage ones in my stash. Still trying to decide which.

Vintage buttons 2Vintage buttons 1

I also picked up some pots (nice heavy glazed ones for fifty cents each)

Glazed potsShallow pot

and a pair of socks that will be perfect for the dog park.

Big Dog socks

Finished the morning with the Episcopalian church ladies. I’m always impressed by the clothing at their sale. Nearly always really expensive brands! Alas, nothing to fit this year. But we each got a silicone pinch pot to try out

Pinch bowl

and I scored a hand/neckwarmer scarf thingie with barley inserts that you microwave. None of them knew what it was for, so I got that for a buck.

On Saturday there were very few sales advertised, and we had folks coming for dinner (house cleaning and cooking were on my do list) so I decided I would just run back by that first estate sale to see if there was anything else that looked attractive on half-price day. And waiting for me in the toy room was a little guy I hadn’t seen the day before. Hmmm, I thought, that looks like a Zotty bear, but he also looks like a Hermann, not a Steiff.

Hermann Zotty

I know, it’s a weird kind of expertise! What can I say, I just like vintage toys. But he was cute and affordable (especially at half price) so home he came. Started researching, and I’ll be danged – Hermann made Zotty bears as well as Steiff! The Steiffs have peach colored fur on their chests and the Hermanns are a single color, but I think the real giveaway for me is the ear placement. Anyway, he now gets to hang out with my other Hermann bear that I bought in Germany many years ago.

Hermann bears

I think there’s a real family resemblance, don’t you?

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Hansel & Gretel Come Home

Got back from garaging on Friday a little past noon, feeling glad that I hadn’t told my husband that I’d probably be back a lot earlier than usual. After all, Judy and I only had four sales to go to; how long could that take? Oh, an average of 45 minutes each!

We started off agreeing we didn’t care that there were so few sales, we would just enjoy the sunshine and the top down on the car and the beautiful fall leaves. And we did. First sale was down a country road not too far from home. (One of the things I love about Salem is that there ARE country roads not far from home – quite a change from Southern California.) The house with the sale was set back from the road, but we boldly drove up the drive and found there was plenty of parking by their barn. We were greeted by a very enthusiastic young yellow Lab. (That’s when I discovered I’d gone off without a camera, so no pet pics this week, dang it.)

The sale was quite a hodgepodge – vintage toys next to tools next to worthless junk next to DVDs. Judy spotted a French door that she thought might work at her house, and since the price was five bucks she bought it. It was too large to drive around with in the back of my convertible, so she said she’d take her husband’s pickup back for it later. I picked out a few movies to add to our collection

More movies 

then looked around once more. A vintage doll caught my eye, and I picked it up out of the box where it seems to have slumbered for a half century or more. The eyes were what I noticed.

Hummel Hansl eyes

I’ve never been much of a doll person (teddies seem much more loveable) but this looked pretty high quality to me. Then I saw he was one of a pair.

Hummel Hansl & GretlHummel tag

Hummel’s Hansl and Gretl dolls. Thinking this might be something to try to resell, I asked the price. A dollar each. Deal. And I found a little china Hansel too, so I added him to my pile.

Our next stop was an estate sale run by a couple of guys I’ve encountered before. Nice guys. Upstairs I noticed some sewing equipment, and thought this ironing mitt might be handy.

Ironing mitt

There was a sign that said all the sewing stuff together was something like twenty bucks. I took the mitt downstairs and asked the taller guy if they’d sell it separately. “Sure,” he said. “Six hundred bucks. No? Okay, make me an offer.” I offered a dollar and he was fine with it. A little while later I heard another lady ask if she could buy one of the sewing things separately, and for how much. “You bet,” he said. “Six hundred bucks.” She too spent a dollar.

We looked all around, chatting with the guys, and I thought I was finished when Judy pointed to a tablecloth that I hadn’t noticed and told me I had to at least feel it, the cloth was so luscious. I took one look and knew what it was – a California Hand Prints cloth. Priced at two bucks. Mine! I have several of these, but this is the first Christmas one.

California Handprints xmas cloth CHP Xmas tablecloth CHP detail

I promised Judy she can come over any time and pet my whole collection of them. The fabric is lovely; most of their designs are printed on heavy rayon or maybe a rayon/cotton blend.

Next stop was in the neighborhood where my car broke down last summer. I told Judy how glad I was she was with me that day, because she noticed smoke coming from my engine as soon as it happened. We pulled over and discovered the crack in my radiator, but thanks to stopping so soon, there was no other damage to the engine. The guys at the shop were amazed that the radiator was all that had to be replaced. That was pricey enough, but I’m sure Judy’s sharp eyes saved me hundreds of dollars that day!

The sale turned out to be a nothing, one of those “I drove all the way down here for this?” sales. Though Judy did score three of those vintage wooden hangers covered with crochet from the free box. So off we went to our last stop, where two neighbor ladies were having a sale together. And as often happens when you go around with someone who’s lived in this community her entire adult life, one of the ladies was a friend of Judy’s. They had lots of catching up to do while we browsed around a packed garage. The other lady has ended up with boxes and boxes from a storage unit with her parents and grandparents stuff. This sale was a preliminary foray into the decluttering she has to do.

Her back yard was full of barking dachshunds, and I asked if she showed them. “Oh yes, they are all champions,” she assured me. She said she’s also a dog show judge. Picked up a nice braided leather collar for Edward there, and succumbed to the lure of this mohair dachshund.

Mohair dachshund Play with me

I wish I’d noticed that one of his ears has been replaced with other fur. Probably would have saved the dollar he cost. On the other hand, he seems to have a non-working growler or something in his tummy, and I’m intrigued enough I might undo some stitches to see what’s in there. Zoe wants to know too.

What's inside that tummy

Later that afternoon the phone rang, and it was Judy. “I went back to pick up my door,” she said, “and the guy was closing up, and he gave me all the rest of the dolls to give you.” Oooookay, I thought, just what I need. (Remember, I’m not much of a doll person!)

She brought them over a bit later and I began to inventory my windfall. And it’s a mixed bag as far as windfalls go. The guy had told us he helped a lady have a sale to clear out a warehouse of her late husband’s, who was something of a hoarder. She’d gave him the leftovers, which was mostly what he was selling this weekend. So I have ended up with the a hoarder’s remnants of some little girl’s collection of costume dolls, probably from the Fifties.

Did any of you collect them? I had a neighbor who did, and I remember being polite as she showed me all her dolls, while silently hoping we could go back outside and play soon. Apparently there was even a Doll of the Month club that you could subscribe to (wonder how many little girls got that subscription for Christmas or a birthday?). From my Googling after these dolls arrived, I think this guy could have been one of those.

Greek soldier dollGreek soldier doll eyes 

He’s the biggest one in the lot, at about 16”. The rest are much smaller. Several are going straight to the kitty-rescue thrift store. Little plastic things with the open/shut swiveling eyes that I find a bit creepy.

Costume doll 3 Costume doll 1  Costume doll 2

This lady has a painted cloth face.

Costume doll 4

Painted face

I’m afraid the little Dutch children haven’t fared very well through the years. Their chipped paint is rather macabre.

Poor little Dutch boy Aging is hard Dutch children

When you look more closely at the harem doll

 Harem lady

you see that her features are quite Caucasian. Hmmmm, one of those Englishwomen kidnapped by a sheik and forced to live in his harem?

The Englishwoman in the harem

There are a few I may try to sell; these Skookum dolls do seem to move on eBay.

Skookum vintage doll

These two Italian ladies were made by Magis of Roma.

Italian ladies    

I think they are plotting something.

Hush, the Duke may hear us...I'm sure it's getting closer...

There was a small Gretel to go with my small Hansel.

Small Hansel & Gretel 

Little bisque figurines. At first I though the Hummel Hansl and Gretl were also bisque, but now I think they are some kind of composition material. Time has cracked them in several places

Age cracks on Hummel Gretl Hand lotion needed - years ago!

but time does that to all of us. The Hummels are in their original boxes, and I just feel so gosh-darned sorry that they spent so many years in a box, that I think I’m going to let them hang out with my other toys.

Seeing double

I bet they’ll enjoy that.

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