Sunday, December 15, 2013

The First (possibly) Annual Bang for the Buck Awards (Part One)

As I go through my days handling items I’ve bought on driveways, I’m often struck by how much use I get from things that usually cost so little. Of course there are also items that end up in the donation box going to the kitty thrift store, the ones that make me smack my forehead and cry, “What in the world was I thinking?” So I’ve decided to do my own awards ceremony, looking back over the previous calendar year (2012 in this case) and picking out the best – and worst – of my finds.

(This is born partly out of the frustration of now living in a climate where winter severely curtails garaging. Though on Friday we did manage to find a few vintage hats for Judy to try on.)


Wonder why there’s still a tag on this one…do suppose no one ever was brave enough to wear it?!

IMG_7430 IMG_7433 IMG_7434

I figure the Academy Awards also look at the previous year’s oeuvre; it takes a little time to know which items are going to prove themselves worthy. And just as with the Academy Awards, these choices are purely personal. They must be, or else how could Braveheart ever have been selected Best Picture instead of Babe?

Let’s get the category of Worst Choices Made on Driveways in 2012 out of the way. Yes, the forehead smackers. Nominees include the Lands End barn coat ($5) that I never wore; the Hall China cookie jar ($2) which had a crack I didn’t notice until I got home; and a Conair hair straightening wand thingie ($1) to try on my hair that’s only about two inches long and doesn’t really need straightening (did I suddenly channel my 14-year-old self who actually tried ironing her hair once because heaven forbid that it not be perfectly straight? Gosh, weren’t the Sixties FUN?). I seem to have come to my senses as soon as I got home that day, because I didn’t even take a picture of this thing.


All worthy nominees, but the What the Hell Was I Thinking Award goes to the Betty Boop bottle opener.

Oh, Betty! 

At least she only cost a dime.

Let’s move on so I can stop hanging my head in shame. Though that position does stretch out those stiff neck muscles we get sitting at our computers for too long!

In the Clothing category, we had to disqualify the pink paisley rain boots. Although no one else at the dog park had pink paisley boots, they failed monumentally on one important quality. They leaked. I tried fixing the leak. Wouldn’t fix. Finally threw them away. Sigh.

Much more successful were the black corduroy shirt (25 cents); the ($1) Nike gore-tex shoes (that don’t leak, so I’m still wearing them to the park); and the LL Bean lambswool sweater ($1) that only took about three months to get the dryer-sheet smell out of.


But as for bang for the buck (or the 50 cents in this case) I’m giving the award to the knit shirt I bought to use the cuffs on a jacket I already owned.

Fifty cent cuffs

The jacket is now much more comfortable, and the rest of the shirt became the lining for Zoe’s sweater coat that she wears to the park. And I used the scraps left from that for something else that I can’t remember at the moment.


And speaking of making things, let’s look at the Craft category, the things I buy thinking I will make something with them. Sometimes I actually carry through, so nominees include the toy xylophones ($1.50 for two) and fishing line (25 cents) that became three sets of wind chimes; the set of cream horn molds (free!) that became part of a whirligig (after I tried making cream horns with them); and the lovely blouse ($3) that became a classy sofa pillow cover until Zoe ate it.

crafts collage

But my favorite in this category has to be the 50 cent remnant of fabric that became the new lining for my vintage train case.

train case collage

Furniture is a small category, for even though our house is pretty large, it’s also pretty full of furniture! But I still found room for a vintage lab stool (($3); a coffee table we use in our home theatre ($5); and a vintage end table ($1) that still awaits refinishing.

furniture collage 1

I’m going to have to give the award as a tie to two midcentury pieces. The more valuable is the Bruksbo teak wall unit ($8, and apparently much rarer than the Cado units). But this guy is still awaiting mounting on the wall. So he ties with the pole lamp ($10) that we actually have standing in the family room, thanks to a clever extension my husband devised to accommodate a too-tall ceiling.

furniture collage 2

Decor is another small category, though sometimes it’s hard to decide whether an item should land here or in household goods. And decor that turns out not to be loved ends up in donations. So it’s hard to choose a Best-of. I still really like the funky wire art on black velvet ($1); the two little red wooden people (free); the Fisher Price chime ball ($1); and the wire dog letter holder ($1).

decor collage

But let’s give the coveted Bang for the Buck award to the vintage handmade divided wooden box because a) it was free, and b) it became a shelf that hold the wire dog and a number of other puppy pieces.

Box becomes shelf

In the interest of this post not being so darned long no one will finish reading, we end part one. Stay tuned for more Bang for the Buck awards soon!


  1. Oops. It posted before I was ready. I was going to add that it made me feel good to read that I am not the only one who comes home with things that are questionable as to why I bought them.

    1. And now you've made me feel better about it - I'm not alone!

  2. Wow! You certainly did find quite an assortment of things throughout the year!

    1. I myself am always amazed when I look back. It's one reason I keep a list!

  3. Hi there! what a fabulous post, you've certainly got a great eye for thrifting and I think we thrifters are guilty of getting it so right and so wrong hehe!! But with the amounts we do spend, it's not too much a problem!! Great finds and well done xx

    1. And here I thought you had an unerring eye and never bought something you regretted! Your op shop finds leave me drooling.

  4. What a great idea for a post. You keep much more then I do but I think my duds out number yours.

    1. I admit I've gotten the number of dud down...but surely you've never brought home something dumber than a Betty Boop can opener!


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

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