Monday, December 28, 2015

Spreadsheet Time!

I never would have believed you, if you had told me when I was young and struggling to learn math skills, how much fun I would have every year playing with the numbers in my garaging spreadsheet.

I know I’m not alone in remembering ‘word problems’ as the worst. Who the heck cared how long it would take one train going 25 MPH and another train going in the opposite direction at 35 MPH to pass each other. Unless both trains were on the same track and you were riding on one of them – then you might care.

But then you grow up and find out how much fun it is to shop on driveways, and you start a spreadsheet to keep track of how much your fun has cost you. And now it’s that time of year when I get out my spreadsheet and start playing with numbers. Who knew how satisfying yard sale math could turn out to be?

516: the number of items I brought home. I have to admit I can hardly believe it! But when I look back at previous years it’s not unusually high.

0: the cost of 43 items. Many were in free boxes, including some really good stuff, like this Pendleton throw.

Mrs. Wilberforce
Others were given to me by nice people. We’d get into enjoyable conversations and before I left they’d be saying, “Oh, just take it.” I’m good with that! 

Books, magazines, DVDs, clothing, measuring cups, and more, all free. Even a flamingo.

knitted flamingo
380: the number of items for which I paid ten to fifty cents. So 82% of what I bought cost at most fifty cents. From tea towels to dog collars to a cashmere coat

to sewing notions to dishes and adorable ornaments…


…I could go on all day, couldn’t I? You probably wish I wouldn’t. Okay, the fifty cent Fairy Godmother has granted your wish!

96: the number of items for which I paid $2 or more. You know I must seriously like something to spend that much! And indeed, some of my favorites for the year cost more than my beloved fifty cents. Like the Lincoln Beautyware canisters I’d been wanting for years.

Shiny now
And a handsome glazed terra cotta egg. Zoe likes it too.

Egg Thingie photobomb
I would have regretted not buying this fabbo birdbath.

tall birdbath
$35: The most I paid for a single item in 2015, which was this vintage Kitchenaid mixer.

A Kitchenaid for $35, wow, right? But I’m perfectly happy with the $20 one I found a couple of years ago, and bought this for resale. I put an ad on Craigslist a few days before Christmas, and it was snapped up by a very happy guy for $80 as a gift for his wife. But speaking of reselling…

19,200%: the difference between the fifty cents I paid for a mystery object and the profit I made on it. This conversation piece turned out to be a Nikken Magboy, used for magnetic healing (identified by one of my dear blog readers!)

and sold last month on eBay. After paying all their fees, my profit was about $96. I also sold 3 sweaters for which I had paid a total of $4 for a profit of over $125. I like to think it helps defray the overall cost of my garaging habit. 

41%: The amount of this year’s garaging that was paid for by reselling items I bought on driveways.

$690.80: Yup, that’s the total for my year o’ fun.

$15,056: my conservative estimate of the retail value.

A lot of stuff for not a lot of money. And that’s not even the best part of 2015. Back in April I got into conversation with a nice lady at her sale, and we hit it off so well that we went to lunch a few days later. And the week after that. Then she came garaging with Judy and me, and now KK is one of my dearest friends. A new friend found on a driveway?
Ms. Mysterious


Sunday, December 13, 2015

Steve Allen & the Fairy Godmother in a Box

Between the holidays and the weather, we’re traveling further afield this month to find sales. Last week we drove to the little town of Sublimity (is that not a great name for a town?) for an estate sale, and lucked into a second one while we were there.

I think I need a keeper though. or at least need to stop talking to everyone and pay attention to the stuff I buy. I paid for things at both sales that didn’t make it home with me, dang it. We’re talking about a total of $2 in merchandise, so I’m not going broke because of it, but in both cases I wanted the items. So from now on I’m planning to take two of my canvas bags along – one to leave in the car to put purchases in, and the other to take in to the sales with me to hold everything until I get it ALL back to the car.

But while I didn’t get home with the cute little wooden Steinbach ornament or the DVD of Steve Allen teaching a jazz piano lesson (I’m REALLY sorry about that one, the copies I’m seeing online are about thirty bucks!), it turned out to be that proverbial ill wind. I texted KK that I was missing some items, and she did a thorough search of her car. Alas, did not find the DVD or ornament, but she did find her missing sunglasses, and the little case of Stickum I lost out of my pocket weeks ago.

And the sales were fun, and I still made it home with some good stuff. Here’s an example of the fun: KK trying on the Mr. Magoo glasses at our second stop.

I gleaned a few vintage textiles, including this beautifully embroidered linen runner.

Even though the Steinbach ornie didn’t make it home, this silver plated running gnome did.

He got much shinier after a bit of polishing.

Two and a half yards of lovely wool fabric for a couple of bucks, and I think it might possibly be Pendleton.

Couldn’t resist this framed picture of Hobbes the tiger.

On the back, someone had taped a plastic sleeve with the original strip it came from, which came out in 1992.

The second estate sale was handled by the family, who had the sad task of clearing out their parents’ house. Dad had been a piano tuner and there were several items connected to his profession for sale. And that Steve Allen DVD.

I fell in love with this vintage planter.

She’s currently holding the pens, pencils, scissors and knitting needles I keep on my desk. Why yes, I do keep a few double pointed knitting needles close at hand!
I tried to resist this fabulous bowl, but I’m glad I didn’t.

It was made by Deb Shapiro, an Oregon potter. Showed it to my SIL Linda the other day, and she has several pieces by the same artist!

I like this glasses case better than the one that came with my glasses. I’m loving my big round frames, but I think I’ll keep the smaller ones that came with the case. I might want to try that style one of these days.

My favorite find of the day was actually the cause of the DVD not coming home with me. On a table with lots of other random stuff I saw this wooden box and picked it up.

I couldn’t figure out how to open it, so I asked what it was. “Oh! Be careful!” one of the ladies exclaimed. “That is a Jack in the box!” She said it with a real note of alarm in her voice. Apparently one of them had accidently opened the box earlier and I guess it scared them all when this popped out.

She’s not a scary figure – in fact, she's a fairy godmother. She has her wand, and a bag full of wishes.

She was hand made in Maine, probably back in the Eighties. I fell instantly in love. Ended up paying two dollars for everything, so she was fifty cents. But before I left, I wanted to know the secret of how to open the box. So I laid down all my finds, closed up the wooden box again, and asked them to show me how it opened. And everyone tried…and no one could get it open! We poked, we pried, we pushed, nothing worked. Not to worry, I finally said, I’ll figure it out later. Gathered up my stuff and off we went, and that must be when I didn’t pick up the DVD. Sigh.

But the good news is, it only took a few minutes after I got home to learn the trick of opening the box. (You just press in a certain spot on the front.) I don’t have Steve Allen, but I do have a fairy godmother. I’m hoping she’ll let me have a few of those wishes in her bag, and in the meantime, I’m finding that she is an excellent listener. 

Sunday, November 29, 2015

A New Pupcycle!

No sales to attend on a holiday weekend, sigh. One of the local churches actually advertised a Black Friday Rummage Sale – and yes, it started at 6 a.m. I was tempted, but not enough to drive across town.

But the upside is, I had some time on my hands. And it’s been cold. So Zoe got a warm new outfit!

Started with this wool sweater that had been through a machine wash and dry.    P1060042Very cozy. Cut off the sleeves, did a bit of pinning and stitching, added buttons and elastic loops on each side, et voilĂ !


A nice warm pupcycle!


Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Did It! Woo Hoo!

I just wrote “The End” at the bottom of page 214 of the book I began on November 1. Yes, folks, for the first time I participated in National Novel Writing Month…

Winner 2015 - Web Banner

…a crazy event in which writers all over the world commit to writing a 50,000 word novel in thirty days. Much to my surprise, i just finished at 50,790 words – a week early.

All I can tell you right now is that the book is titled Sidestep. It is not part of my Willow Falls series. And it is VERY much a first draft, which translates as “probably pretty awful but I really have no idea yet.”

I’m going to put it away for a week or two, enjoy Thanksgiving, maybe get a massage to celebrate and restore some circulation to my tired wrists. In a few weeks I’ll dig in and start the rewrites.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go stare at the bottom of page 214 again. The End.

Happy sigh.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Cats and Armadillos

KK and I swooped from one end of Salem (the northwest end) to the other (the south end) on Friday. Almost all my loot came from one of the first two sales. And all of KK’s – the only thing she bought was a cute short linen jacket. I was not so restrained.

I started out in the downstairs bedroom with the table piled with various linens. I resisted the hand knit afghan, but I did pull a couple of things out of the pile. There was nothing to indicate prices on the linens, so I went in search of one of the worker bees. Two bucks, she said. I twitched the linen towel in my hand and asked, two dollars for this?  siamese cat towelirish linen

I probably sounded horrified. (Or maybe whiney, but I hope not.) Ohhhh, she said, small things like that are fifty cents. Much better, I said and mentioned that I like linen. She said she had noticed a number of linen items on that table. So back I went to dig some more.

And sure enough, there were things I had missed earlier. Like this linen tablecloth.

linen tablecloth

A large lovely piece of pure linen…complete with an actual laundry mark. Don’t see those every day!

tablecloth laundry mark

Then I found my favorite piece – an embroidered crib spread of the Three Little Kittens.

kittens counterpane

Zoe took one look at it when I spread it out to photograph, and immediately did what any self-respecting dog would do with a kitten embroidery.

Zoe   kittens   mittens

She flopped down on it and sniffed.

Those kittens are pretty darned pleased with their mittens.

mitten kitten 3mitten kitten 1

And the girl kitten is extra happy – she has the piece of pie!

mitten kitten 2

There were cat things everywhere in this house, which was located in a retirement community on a golf course. From linens to figurines to spoon rests to slippers to you name it, there was a cat version for sale. I resisted all but the linens. Almost.

cat doorstop

This wooden doorstop forced its way into my hands and came home with me.

cat doorstop butt

cat doorstop face

I think someone had fun painting that face.

cat doorstop at work

In the living room on the fireplace mantel, I found a different collection – about half a dozen small colorful armadillos with bobbing heads.

tiny nodding armadillo

I had to have him. I think it’s the hot pink ears.

tiny nodding armadillo ears

He seems to be a reader, he couldn’t wait for me to open the book I picked up for fifty cents.        tiny nodding armadillo and bookSo now I have two armadillos. I have no intention of buying any more, but then I wasn’t looking for these two!

For now, the new little guy is hanging out with what I’ve been calling my Funny Little People collection.

little 'dillo and friendsHmmm. Given the range of characters involved, I may have to rename it my Small Colorful Creatures That I Couldn’t Resist collection.

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