Sunday, October 26, 2014

The Protection of the Garage Sale Gods

So on our New England trip, Linda and I drove into Maine. We were very excited, neither of us had ever been to Maine. We found our travel days were best when we had a single destination, and on that day it was to eat gelato in Portland. (Hey, you can go to all the museums you want when you travel. We wanted gelato, and it was worth the trip.)

Soon after we got into Maine we passed a collection of outlet stores, and we commented on the clothing store where we’ve both found good quality and well-fitting items in the past. A few miles further along we passed more outlets, including another branch of this store we liked. So we stopped. Turned out this particular small outlet didn’t have our sizes, but the lady working there told us about the bigger one a few miles past Portland where they had lots of stuff and a huge sale going on. She gave us directions.

We achieved our gelato mission, the day was still young. Let’s go see if we can score any bargains, we said. My rationale was that I had just weeded my closet of everything that wasn’t being used or didn’t fit, and my supply of pants had taken a hit. So off we went.

And could not find the place.

Even after we went online and ascertained the exact address and put it in the GPS, we never saw this outlet mall. Must have driven right past it. So Linda’s theory was that the garage sale gods didn’t want us to buy retail and had hidden the store from us. And I think she’s right because of what happened when I got home.

We returned on Thursday night, which meant that Judy and I could have what we call “Fun Friday.” Not many ads in Craigslist, but the Methodists were having a rummage sale, so we were off and rummaging. And what did my rummaging turn up?

Pants! Including some of the brand of the outlet we couldn’t find. Two pairs of black slacks, two pairs of linen,

linen pants pocketFlax pocket

a pair of Eddie Bauer jeans (sheesh, these retail for like $75)

Eddie Bauer jeans - for a buck

plus a $200+ Norwegian sweater

Norskwear sweater

and a beautiful linen blouse with pulled thread embroidery.

linen shirt detail

All for $14.

Hooray for the garage sale gods!

We managed Fun Friday again this week, even though the Oregon rains have begun in earnest. I spend fifty cents at an estate sale for one of those memory foam bath mats (sorry, it just did not make for a compelling picture!) AND this silicone pastry mat.

silicone rolling sheet

I’ll be interested to see how well it works. Looks just like the one on the King Arthur Flour site (minus their logo) where users were raving about them.

Then we headed to the only other sale on our side of town, advertised as a huge barn sale. And it was a fair sized sale in a barn, but the folks were under the impression it was an antique store and had priced accordingly. I think I got the only actual bargain in the place. This little guy


caught my eye. I mean, this is a seriously cute bunny, yes?

Ulbricht Bunny cute!

But the price tag on his foot – no.

Ulbricht Bunny original price

So I asked the lady how much he was. “He couldn’t be that much, right?” I said, showing her the tag. She agreed, and suggested two dollars. I tentatively offered one…and a good home, and she said sure. So a dollar later the bunny was mine.

Ulbricht Bunny with lamp

When I got home I started searching for more info on him. The price tag peeled off to reveal another. He’s a ‘real Erzgebirge’ bunny, most likely by Christian Ulbricht.

Real Erzgebirge

Didn’t find this exact one but similar ones share his darling shoes

Ulbricht Bunny shoes

and whiskers

Ulbricht Bunny whiskers

and tail.

Ulbricht Bunny tail

The current crop of these bunnies retail anywhere from $35 to $80. Yowza.

And he’s not only cute. He’s a natural born leader!

Ulbricht Bunny parade

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Tag…I’m it!

So Martha Stewart was telling the truth – they really are called tag sales in the East.

Tag Sale

Wasn’t it thoughtful of my niece Kim to move into a new place just before her mom and I arrived in New England, so we’d have an excuse for tag sales and thrift stores? It was perfect – we could drive around, ooh and aah over the beautiful fall colors, and hunt for bargains at the same time. A perfect weekend! Of course I did miss having Judy with me to try on all the hats. This is the only one I could get Kim to model.

Frog hat

We found a bunch of items on Kim’s list, including some furniture. This was my favorite piece – a little metal cabinet from the Fifties. (Ignore the dirt, it will be clean and probably painted soon.) If I’d been able to get it in my carry-on bag for the flight home, we might have had to arm wrestle over it.

cute midcentury metal cabinet

We felt right at home at tag sales. They have dogs at them.

Bailey the Lab mix

This is Bailey, isn’t she a beaut? Lab/Doberman mix. My favorite thing that happened at her sale was this: I had told my SIL Linda that she was NOT to allow me to buy any yarn as souvenirs on this trip. Not after that big score at the estate sale recently. So we bravely passed up every yarn shop in four states. The Linda spotted some great yarn at Bailey’s sale – and she bought it for me to knit!

yarn - but not my yarn! Yarn from Newfoundland Yarn

But that’s okay. The yarn had a great story – the lady bought it at the mill where it was made in Newfoundland and brought it home riding on the back of a motorcycle! (Her husband was rolling his eyes – but fondly - as  she told us this story.) And it came in handy for packing my souvenirs. Yes, I managed to come away with breakables. But how could I resist this wonderful addition to my midcentury coffee carafe collection

Douglas Flameproof meets PyrexDouglas Flameproof side

or this tiny one?

small Pyrex carafeP1070406

or a couple of Modern Star cups and saucers?

Homer Laughlin Modern Star teacup

I believe you used to be able to order these from the Quaker Oats company for two box tops and some cash.

Laughlin Modern Star cup & saucerLaughlin Modern Star

And how could I resist this cranberry glass vase for the skinny glass collection in the kitchen window?

cranberry glass vasecranberry base top

The handle is attached with a little leaf shape.

cranberry vase handle

At least none of it was very heavy, and packed in the yarn everything got home just fine in the bottom of my carry-on bag. I noticed though that the x-ray inspection of my bag went on quite a long time at the airport!

At another sale I picked up this wool throw. It’s so soft it might be cashmere.

wrap up in wool

I noticed a few little moth holes and asked the price. “Oh, just take it,” they said. One more thing to pack, but I love it. Might use it on a side table this winter. winter table coverbird bowl with yarnI think we had the most fun in the small town having a fall festival. On that side of the street were tents and booths with crafts and food and such. On this side of the street was a fair size rummage sale – and they really wanted to get rid of everything. The day was getting along when we arrived, and soon we heard the people working the sale calling out, “Two dollars a bag! Anything you can get in a bag for two dollars! Get your bag here!” A few minutes later they were offering bigger bags, then boxes, then “We’ll help you carry everything!” We started going through all the tables for the items on Kim’s list. Just the curtain rods she found would be worth $2 and she ended up with lots more – bowls and a vintage tablecloth and a hand-spun, hand-woven antique wool blanket – can’t remember most of it.

two bucks of loot

We found a plastic bin to pile things in. I added a few things of my own – the small carafe and the teacups, a linen tea towel, half a dozen CDs.

more cheap entertainment

By the time we finished spending two bucks, the festival was over and they were packing up the tents. But just think of all the money we saved starting on the two dollar side of the road!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

SABLE…I Think I Have It!

I noticed an ad on Craigslist for an estate sale the other day that mentioned yarn among the items available. If you’re a knitter or crocheter, you know what that means – I had to go! Judy and I went to a couple of sales first that listed an earlier opening time. The first was a huge stockpile of years of accumulation, with the kind of prices we love. Fifty cents. A quarter. I know she found some stuff there but I don’t even remember what it was because I was intent on my own pile! Ended up with a vintage Vera tablecloth

Vera yellow tableclothVera table cloth

and some fabric

Hand printed silk fabricSilk fabric hand printedCrysanthemum fabric

and five rolls of old wallpaper, which I’m hoping will resell.

vintage wallpaper  boxvintage Cinderella wallpaerCinderella feeds the geeseCinderella flees

Then we were off to the estate sale. The house was quite large and I kept poking my head into rooms that held anything but yarn. Like a collection of at least 40 pairs of Birkenstocks. Priced at $30 each, so no thanks. I kept looking and finally found the room full of fabric, with the closet full of yarn. Several ladies were choosing fabric pieces (lots of quilters around here) but no one was looking at the yarn, so I dove in. I expected any minute for other knitters to show up but no one did.

All the yarn was done up in ziplock bags that had been stapled shut – a bit frustrating since choosing yarn is a tactile experience. But unlike the Birks and most other items in the house, the yarn prices were pretty reasonable. (If you’ve ever been in a yarn store you know how shockingly expensive it can be.) So I picked out a bag, then another, and another. Judy caught up with me and I made her hold some bags, then I went and found a box to corral everything. In all I spent about $20 just on yarn, which is a lot of money for a fifty cent lady! But I came home with over $200 in yarn. And I had so much fun sorting and petting it when I got it home that…yes, I went back the next day!

Well, it was half price day. I fully expected the yarn to be wiped out, but there was still quite a bit of good stuff. So I grabbed another box and started putting yarn in it.

Had a bit of a moment when another shopper started pulling yarn out of my box. I said those were mine, I’d already selected them. My goodness, the look she gave me! Talk about a face that would curdle milk. I was surprised, because most folks around here would just say oh sorry, let’s see what’s left in the closet. Hmmm, maybe she’s related to one of the guys from last week who were getting into a fight over something at a yard sale. She definitely looked ready to take a swing at me, but fortunately backed off.

You have to be careful around knitters though. We often carry sharp pointed objects and we know how to use them!

So another $14 in yarn came home with me, at least $300 worth. It makes quite a pile.

Stash o' yarnYarn stash

There are wonderful colors and textures

yarn colorspretty yarn

and I may love the single ball of floofy bunny angora yarn best of all.

angora yarn     curl of angora yarn

Knitters often use an acronym – SABLE – to describe their stockpile of yarn: Stash Acquired Beyond Life Expectancy. Clearly the lady whose estate was being sold had achieved it, and I think I’m getting there too. When I first got back into knitting (because I visited an alpaca farm and bought one skein of sock yarn) I determined that I would buy no more yarn than would fit into my vintage train case. And then it was the train case and a zippered bag I happened to have. And since yarn is squishy I was holding the line there…until now. But it’s such fun to see all this beautiful yarn, and so satisfying to think of a project and grab the yarn from your stash and go with it. And I just ran across the idea on someone’s blog to display balls of beautiful yarn around the house. Which brings me to my other purchase from Saturday morning.

He’s bigger than the crystal water buffalo, but was just as alluring. As soon as I saw this kingfisher on his bowl he had to be mine.

Kingfisher bowlkingfisher potceramic kingfisher

He’ll look great with flowers growing in the pot, I thought. But now I think he’ll look great with some lovely balls of yarn heaped in his bowl.

yarn textures

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