Sunday, December 22, 2013

The First Bang for the Buck Awards, Part 2

Back after a brief intermission, we continue looking back at last year’s spreadsheet to discover what purchases have stood the test of time. The first category – Gifts – was a shoo-in, since the recipient has told me he often uses it. And that would be the “Songs for the Open Highway” CD I found for BIL Biker Bob. Evidently it is exactly as perfect as I thought it would be to climb on that Harley and take off with these songs playing. Score!


In a way, the Pets category is a mixed bag, in that some of the nominees are for the pets’ delight, and some are for us to use with the pets. The baby gates are an example of the latter (found 3 during the year for a total of fifty cents!).


The bag of whiffle balls ($1) and the cute squeaky toy (25 cents) are the former. They delighted Zoe completely for the very short period of time it took her to destroy them. (Toys bought in stores last no longer, so I might as well make her happy without spending much.) Her Duke basketball (from a free box) made it from March to December.

b-ball 1

But for my money, the deal of the year was the blanket/pad thingie ($2) that is perfect in the back of the Civic to protect it from wet and muddy dogs on our daily dog park trips.

After the dog park 

This is clearly an after-park view of Zoe!

Moving on into the kitchen, we have many worthy candidates. In fact, I found 37 kitchen items through the year that in my conservative estimate would have cost well over $500 retail! A few favorites included the red-handled Italian strainer (50 cents), a large wok with lid and steamer basket ($2), a brand-new scrub brush that holds dish soap (75 cents), two Yorkshire pudding pans ($1) that have made many delicious little tarts, and a gorgeous blue Dansk fondue pot and stand ($6).


For sheer good looks and midcentury credentials, we’d have to make the fondue pot the winner. But kitchenware is essentially a practical category, and I must confess that I don’t make fondue all that often. So the coveted Bang for the Buck for Kitchenware goes to this unassuming little tea kettle that boils the water for my husband’s coffee every day

tea kettle

and whistles very loudly when the water is hot.

We’ll finish today with another practical category, which for lack of a better word I’ve always called “Household.” If you were to go garaging for no other reason, the wonderful tools you can find to help with daily life would be enough. Here’s where you can really save some money, too. The 41 items in this category would have cost close to $1200 in stores. Seriously. You just can’t beat deals like a $150 ladder for five bucks! Other favorites ranged from a terrific vintage Electrolux ($10, and it still keeps up with four furry pets) to a space heater ($3) to a vintage stamped pillowcase that enticed me to take up embroidery after who knows how long (free!) to a lifetime supply of safety pins.


Hard to choose a favorite, but I did: the wool rug made many years ago from colorful recycled strips of cloth sewn into a thick round. Better than any gel pad to stand on and cook – at least when the pets don’t get there before me.


One more round of awards is coming, leading up to my favorite category of all: The Story of the Year. I think I know which was the best story I was told in 2012…but if you have a fave, I’d love to know what it was!


  1. I continue to look forward to your posts, as I am unable to yard sale right now, so I am vicariously enjoying them with you! Thank you for letting us have a peek into your "adventures in driveways".

    1. I hope you'll have sales to go to before you know it. I really miss it when I can't get to at least one or two!

  2. You are an inspiration! I, too, totally enjoy using my thrifty finds - it just feels so right and so good.

    I bought a very similar kettle - my daughter took a liking to it, so off it went to be enjoyed in her apartment.

  3. Winter in the midwest=no garage sales. Instead, I'm going through my house and dividing all the stuff I've accumulated before I'm invited as a guest on Hoarders. Since we just purchased my mom and dad's small lake cabin, I've started a box for there. Another group to divide with my two daughters, one for my own sale next summer and another for donation. There seems to be more than enough to go around. Of course, what does my 90 year old mom give me but two complete sets of 1950's mixing bowls. My love of garage saling is indeed inherited.

    1. Mine was inherited too - and we could certainly have gotten worse genes!

  4. It took me a minute to find it but I did! In November 2012 you told a story told to you about a guy becoming a crook. I think the title was something along the lines of "The Best Story Ever Told in a Garage"

    Love your blog! I read it weekly. I'm in Alaska and while not as dedicated as you my best find EVER were three Paolo Soleri bronze bells. The seller only wanted $20 a piece (she knew what she had) and I snatched them up!

    1. Ha ha! I picked your favorite too! I always scroll back in your blog to where I last left off and read forward. I should have read all the way forward first! I just love that story.

    2. Wow, you get a gold star for remembering that story! I had to look up your bronze bells. They are fabulous. Now I've got something else to keep an eye out for!


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

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