Thursday, February 27, 2014

It’s Giveaway Time!

Do you know that Gilbert & Sullivan song that starts out like this?

Although for such a beastly month as February

Twenty-eight days as a rule are plenty…

I’ve always thought that was so true. I’m okay with winter until February, and then I’m just DONE. Which was no problem when I lived in California, not so much other places. But now we’re almost done with another February (I mean, who can even pronounce the word well?) and I am celebrating by giving away two of my books!

Yup, one lucky reader will win paperback copies of Sleeping Dogs Lie and In Dogs We Trust. If you like funny, cozy mysteries – or dogs -  I think you’ll like these.


The winner will be chosen at random next Wednesday, March 5, 2014. Easy to enter: just leave a comment on THIS post below. I prefer comments that amuse and entertain me, but I’m easy. One entry per person please, and never fear, you’ll have another chance to win books because I’m planning more giveaways through the year.

dogsWeTrust front

Oh, one more thing…since international shipping is so pricey, U.S. readers only please. (Sorry about that!)

Let the giveaway commence!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Twenty Two

$22!! There were actually enough sales this weekend to spend $22! Pretty darned exciting for February. And we even had blue skies and sunshine…talk about icing on the cake!

Judy and I made the rounds on Friday, which took us to the north end of town. (Seems like there’s been more sales that direction this winter. Can’t help wondering if those North Salemites are somehow so much hardier than us soft South Salemites? They are after all three or four miles further from the equator…)

Anyway, north side of town. First sale – didn’t exist. Second sale – what appeared to be a pile of junk on the driveway ready to pack to the dump, and an open garage door. A couple of people poking gingerly into piles. Only the garage sale signs convinced us to actually get out of the car and start poking into piles ourselves. Judy homed in on a bag of dog supplies right away, and I snagged a new-looking dog brush to replace the one that recently fell apart.

Edward loves to be brushed

We kept poking. The garage was piled with tools and welding equipment. The only reason I know it was welding equipment is that I heard a couple of guys say it was, and when I noticed an interesting wheeled cart the seller told me how he’d welded it and put on bicycle tires so he could pack out a deer when he was hunting. Decided it was interesting enough to take a picture, and had another shopper hold it up for me to get a shot.

A handy cart...

“Looks like something you’d use to carry bodies into the woods to hide them,” he commented, then looked around to make sure no law enforcement types were at the sale.

Somehow we got into conversation with the wife of the welder. I said something about all the dog supplies and that started the storytelling. Turns out that they always had Springers, and the last one was a brown and white guy named Buddy. And the dog that lives with Judy is a brown and white Springer named Buddy.

The Budster

We traded dog stories for at least fifteen minutes. I did a little more poking in the nearby piles as we talked and noticed a dusty, closed plastic box. When I opened it I found a dog grooming kit inside. The price was two bucks, so I got it for my friend’s dog Xanadu.

Wahl grooming kit

Being the hairy little lady she is


(she’s a shih tzu/lab mix, unlikely as that may sound!), she actually needs trimming from time to time. So now we can groom her more economically, and I figure if she gets a less-than-perfect haircut while we learn she won’t care since she’s a dog.

Finally got away. The next stop was the polar opposite, everything as neat as a pin and presided over by a sweet elderly couple. Nothing I wanted to buy there, but we chatted as we looked. Then the husband said to me, “We got some news this morning. The lady is moving out of the house we bought a month earlier than she thought, so we can get in right away!” I have no idea why he told me this other than he was so excited he had to share. I asked about the new place and somehow we segued into his life story and early hard times and being a prison guard and how he got out of debt and the relief of making three dollars an hour when he started working at the paper mill. And then it was a tour of the nicely landscaped front yard and the fountains his wife had built. Finally he said he’d better get back into the garage. “She’s going to be mad at me for not helping.” “Just tell her that woman got to talking and wouldn’t let you go,” I advised.

Last sale on our list was another nonexistent one, so we decided to check out a nearby thrift store, where we got the same kind of sensory overload I feel in malls. We both feel so much more at home at garage sales. But we each found something we couldn’t resist. Mine was this small lidded casserole. The price tag was the half-price color, which brought it down to something reasonable.

Small Savinio casseroleSavinio inside

I think it was the design on the inside that caught me. Judy’s score was a fabulous little boiled-wool jacket with embroidery that fit like it was custom made. I looked up the company when I got home (Icelandic Designs) and found it was likely in the $300 range when first bought. Maybe one of these days we’ll find one of their hats to go with it.

Saturday I got to go out with my friend Toni (Xanadu’s person). We headed to an estate sale. On the way she noticed the address on the GPS and said her grandparents had lived on that street. Turns out the sale was two houses away from their house, and one of the other shoppers lived in the house between and recognized her. While they caught up, I marveled at the house. From the outside it looks like any ranch house, and then you walk into an absolutely stunning ROUND living room

curved wall

with stone tiles on one wall that to me looked like quartz.

Wall o' quartz

All the woodwork was painted a beautiful blue. It’s for sale, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it sells quickly after all those people at the estate sale saw it. Everyone was talking about how lovely the place was.

I even found a few things to buy. This hand rake will make cleaning up our Japanese maple much easier

Yard Butler hand rake

and of course I had to snap up some yarn. Four skeins for $1.50 – that’s a no brainer.

Cotton yarn

And when I got home I discovered it comes with a matching crochet hook!

Yarn with matching crochet hook

Xanny loves to chase squirrels, so I got her the squirrel squeaky toy.


She loved it immediately. Zoe is jealous (but would rip it to shreds in three minutes).


The next sale yielded the toaster oven that’s been on my list for some time, and this is the first one that I considered reasonably priced at five bucks.

Toaster oven

I also scored some CDs

today's CDs

and some LPs to play on our vintage RCA stereo.


I was pretty excited to find this one…it was one of my favorites years ago, but parted with when we didn’t have anything to play them on. It’s the only music I own on both CD and LP.

 An old favorite

We had one more stop, and it turned out to be at the house Judy & I visited last December on the day of our first snow. Since their sale got snowed out, they were giving it one more shot. Lots of stuff had gone, though not of course the gigantic freezer in the basement that I think they must have moved in and then built the house around it. I picked up this cache pot of textured terra cotta with a beautiful turquoise glaze on the inside

Turquoise on the inside

and a couple of decorating magazines from the 1960s

Vintage magazinesSixties fun

How much do you think I want these cabinets on the cover of the Kitchen & Bath Guide? Guide ‘em on over to my house, stat!

I need these cabinets!

When I got home I discovered that the Kitchen & Bath Guide had really been influential. The downstairs bathroom we had admired with the pink marble counter must have been inspired by this

Bathroom inspiration 

and tucked into that page were some bids for the work and this hand sketch of the vanity that they put in.

Bathroom plan            

The house is still for sale, still fabulous. Say, if any of my readers buys it, I’ll give you the magazine and notes for your archives. How’s that for an incentive to move to Salem?

Monday, February 17, 2014

The Ill Wind

Rain is lashing down on our metal-roofed house this morning, and the wind is gusting so hard that every wind chime in the neighborhood is clamoring. Including the one I made from a yard-sale xylophone

xylophone wind chime

and the wonderful rusty bell I picked up last summer.

Vintage metal bell

It’s the perfect theme song for Friday’s thrifting adventure, which we can entitle “It’s an Ill Wind that Blows Nobody Good.” You know that old saying, right? I’ve always taken it to mean that something good comes out of just about every circumstance.

So Friday morning I was on the road to Portland, taking a friend to the airport for a flight to Ohio. (The one downside to living in Salem is, you have to go to Portland to fly anywhere. Unless you’re in the National Guard and for moi, driving to P’land is the more practical option.) I was kind of excited because it gave me a chance to go to some estate sales up there. I had four addresses programmed into Grace, my GPS, and with hope in my heart I zoomed away from the airport.

And all four were a complete bust. Absolutely nothing I could use, and high prices to boot. Except at the third place where stuff was half priced because the sale had already run for several days…but pretty much nothing was left. Sigh.

But en route to the last address my cell phone rang. It was the friend I’d dropped off. The airport at her destination had been closed because of weather, so her trip had to be canceled. And thanks to those estate sales I was still in Portland and could easily pick her up and take her home again!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

White Stuff

There was not a snowball’s chance in you-know-where this weekend for a single estate sale or moving sale or garage sale or even a thrift store visit. There was however PLENTY of snowball-making material.

End of first day's snowSecond day & still snowingMore snow on the Doug Fir

Our part of Oregon is much more about rain. Last year we didn’t get any snow at all. We just made up for it. My niece is referring to this weekend as ‘snowpocalypse.’

Bonsai in snowJapanese mapleBunny is getting buried

Since we are cozy and warm at home with food and firewood on hand, we enjoyed the spectacle of two days of snowfall. We’ll doubtless be here a few more days until streets become driveable again.

Garden sculpture with snowFill 'er upPeekabooThe only bird that isn't hungrySomeone passed by

Hmmm. I’ve never bought a snowglobe before last week’s giant-beaver-at-the-state-capitol version.


Most likely it’s not a magical snowglobe and shaking it didn’t bring on this storm…but I think I’ll leave it sitting quietly on the shelf for a while!           

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Greedy Dogs, Vintage Goodies, and a Great Bargain

I’m starting to worry a bit about that Red Hat Society. At least the local chapter. Seems like every estate sale we go to there are red and purple hats looking for a new home. Some of them are quite spiffy.


I don’t think you could help having a good time wearing the world’s most amazing hat band.


Friday’s estate sale had other nice hats too, but at eight bucks each Judy wasn’t really tempted.


This sale was run by the two guys I met at the grocery store at Christmastime, playing secret Santas. When we arrived the guy named Eldon assured me that for us, all prices were…doubled. I told him he was a heckuva salesman. Their sales are interesting because you never know how they’ll price something. Some items seem way high, especially by my standards, and then other things are more than reasonable. I ended up spending a big old $18; over half of that went for this paper shredder (the last one I got on a driveway died a while back)


which came with two forms of lubricant. None of us had the slightest idea that shredders needed lubricating. Wonder if that would have made the last one live longer?

The first thing I spotted was this mid-century coffee carafe. No markings, and the stand is some kind of plastic, but I love it.


Oddly enough, this morning I ran across a picture of a Ben Seibel-designed carafe (a Tempron Taste Tempter) that is quite similar. Different stand though, and wrapped with sea grass instead of what looks like cotton rope. Mine is probably the low-end copy. But now I have Another Collection!


At least if you believe that three of anything constitutes a collection.

On the same table I spotted something that will be handy, given that we have actual guest rooms that real live guests sleep in.


A bedside carafe! The lid is a drinking glass.


I feel so genteel now.

Back in one of the bedrooms I spotted something that made me laugh and was marked twenty-five cents, so I brought it home.


A state capital snow globe. The laughter came when I spotted the Godzilla-sized beaver poised to rampage through Salem, reducing all in its path to rubble. Most likely with its tail, though beaver teeth are quite impressive too.

The kitchen yielded something on my must-buy list.


Mine got broken recently by a certain black-and-gold dog named Edward who pulled it off the kitchen counter and then ate the homemade baklava he found among the glass shards. I was horrified that he may well have eaten broken glass (you can’t x-ray for it, glass doesn’t show up) but the vet was more concerned about all the butter in the baklava, which can cause pancreatitis. Edward is doing fine after recovering from his tummy-ache, and I am doing fine now that I’m pretty sure he isn’t going to be felled by eating broken glass. Rest assured I will never give him a chance for a repeat performance!

Upside down

We were on our way out when Judy spotted a bundle of linens and pulled out a cute tea towel. She decided she didn’t want it so I added it to my pile. The linen felt so good in the hand, and I love the colors.


We told Eldon it was the only thing in the bundle we wanted, and he said, “Just take it.” (So much for charging us double!) It wasn’t until I got home I realized it’s a Vera.


I also picked up a couple of rolling plant stands for the deck.


Eldon assured me there would be no extra charge for the cobwebs. He’s generous that way.

Later on Friday my SIL Linda and I were putzing around downtown and decided to go the Humane Society thrift store. Neither of us found anything we wanted, but we were having a good time chatting with other ladies there and looking at clothes. Found a wonderful reversible jacket -  periwinkle blue on one side, black on the other, hand-stitched buttonholes, and the fabric was a blend of wool and angora. I spotted the lady we’d been talking to about never paying retail for clothes, and took it over to her. “This jacket is fabulous and we think you should try it on.” She did, and it was clear we’d made a sale. She was still wearing it when we left the store.


Saturday morning, Linda and I decided to try our luck at the only sale listed on our end of town. Turned out to be stuff from an antique mall that had closed down and nothing we were interested in. We headed home just in time to pass a young woman putting up a yard sale sign. We careened around the corner and found the sale, run by a very friendly woman who talked and talked and talked. Nothing there I wanted either, but as we were leaving Linda commented that since her sewing machine hasn’t been working for a while she wondered if she should consider the one there.

“What sewing machine?” I hadn’t even noticed it. We stopped to look – a new looking Singer, no price marked. We asked. The lady said she just didn’t know, that it was a $500 machine and she’d used it once and decided it was more complicated that she wanted to deal with and she was hoping someone would come along and tell her what it was worth. We made a note of the model and when we got home Linda did a little research.

Seems like most folks who have one are pleased with it, so she went back and offered the $40 she had with her…and they said yes! I told her to tell them she’d give it a good home, and I’m sure that’s what did the trick. I think what impresses me the most is, it threads the needle all by itself. Not sure I would use over 200 stitch patterns, but automatic needle threading – bring it on!

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