Monday, March 30, 2015

Lucky Seven!

Not to sound negative, but this wasn’t the most exciting garaging weekend I’ve ever had. It’s hard to get too worked up over a fifty cent vegie scrub brush scrubberor a kitchen towel from a free box (even though I like them both).

free dish towel

Picked up a couple of nice wine glasses as back ups for the next time we break one (an all-too-frequent event, usually in the dishwasher and not because we got drunk on the wine).

wine glasses

These came from the sale of a guy who was seriously into wine and clowns. I believe he had worked as a clown or something. Perhaps a drunken clown, who knows. (Now there’s a creepy image!) Judy spotted a couple of probably-vintage plant stands on his driveway so we each scored one of those for a buck.

plant stand with hairpin legs

But…it WAS an exciting weekend for me, because it was my 7th blogiversary! (Sheesh, what a word. I can’t believe I used it.) Yup, seven years reporting on what I bought and who I met. Over 430,000 page views, which seems pretty good to me. After all, this is kind of a niche market! The only way I got myself to start blogging was by promising I could stop if it wasn’t fun. But it was, and is! Who know, maybe I’ve got another seven years in me. Hope you’ll still be along for the ride too!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Home Again. With Loot!

Had a great trip down to the SF Garden Show with my friend Marcia. While the show itself is smaller now than in the past there was still plenty to see, and we met all kinds of interesting people.


Since Marcia and I used to go garaging together regularly, and since I used to live in the Bay Area, naturally I wanted to take her to whatever sales we could find in my old hunting grounds. And it was the perfect excuse to drive through gorgeous neighborhoods all up the Peninsula and ooh and ahh over the houses and gardens. My own old house is looking pretty loved these days, which made me happy.

My old houseWe completely relandscaped that yard, and built the picket fence with our own hands.

The Perfect Picket FenceSo Saturday morning we started out to find some sales. At the first one I watched a guy being rude to a lady. She asked how much a pressure cooker was and he said ten bucks. She clearly wasn’t interested at that price, and he asked how much she wanted to pay. She said a dollar, and he began jeering at her. I waited a moment but then I couldn’t stand it and said to him, “You didn’t ask her how much she would pay, you asked how much she wanted to pay. I’d want to pay a dollar for it too.” To give him credit he laughed and agreed. But I still thought he was a jerk.

It was a big sale, and I found something I’ve wanted for ages. (And was very glad there was someone else to pay, since I didn’t want to give that guy any money!) At long last I have a full set of chrome Lincoln Beautyware canisters, woo hoo! They looked pretty shabby

Lincoln Beautyware beforeBeautyware lid before

but at three bucks for the set I figured I’d take a chance. And they cleaned up quite nicely. The handles were refreshed with a magic marker!

Beautyware lid after

I think they look pretty spiffy on my countertop.

Shiny now

At another sale the young woman was waiting for her friend to arrive with more stuff. While we were looking around, she answered a call from the friend and berated her for being late and why did she go out last night and have a hangover when she knew they were doing the sale the next morning. Then she hung up and repeated the entire conversation to us even though we’d just been forced to listen to the whole thing.

Another sale had a box of DVDs, and I asked the price. A dime each; definitely a price I can live with! Found three I might want in our collection, but when I went to pay they waved away my thirty cents. “Just take ‘em,” the lady told me, and I’m always happy to be given stuff. She was recently widowed and is moving to much smaller quarters. You could tell it was hard, but she was so determinedly cheerful that I’m sure she’ll make it just fine. Even without my thirty cents.

free DVDs

A while later we stopped at another sale. It was late in the morning but they still had a lot of stuff. Found another box of DVDs and asked the price. The daughter of the house (in her twenties) told me to pick out what I wanted and she would make me the best deal I’d ever seen on them. I started to laugh and told her at the last sale they had given me three new, shrink wrapped DVDs. She looked around at all the stuff still on their driveway and nodded. “Take what you want,” she said. “Believe me, no one will ever notice!”

more free DVDsWe wended our way up through Redwood City and San Carlos and Belmont and San Mateo and Burlingame, and finally stopped for a snack. After that we were just going to drive around some pretty neighborhoods, but the first corner we went around brought us to one more sale. They were starting to close up but were happy for us to look. “There’s more in the backyard,” the lady told us, and indeed there was – a clothesline still full of absolutely beautiful women’s clothing. “A dollar apiece for the clothes,” she said, and it was just too tempting. Marcia bought a few to give to friends, and I picked up some to either give to Judy if she can use them, or resell, or upcycle.

silk blend jacketCashmere & wool jacketNice buttonSilk & linenRed silk jacketCitron to upcycle

It was the perfect end to our garaging adventure. And while I’m very happy to be home, and looking forward to seeing what the driveways of Salem will have to offer this weekend, I admit that getting to go to sales again in that place was very special. Okay, I admit it – the garden show was just an excuse!

Monday, March 16, 2015


“Not many sales this morning,” I told Judy as she got into the car Friday morning. “I have low expectations.” We agreed that it didn’t matter, we still got that thrill of setting out on a treasure hunt. And the first place we stopped had a cute vintage outdoor table set that Judy liked. The lady said she had recently painted it that color, one of Judy’s favorites. Judy was giving it a good scrutiny when one of the people helping with the sale came out and taped a Sold sign on it.

Oooookay. So much for that!

I ended up spending fifty cents there.

Sticky things

I’ll need to stick something somewhere, sometime, right?

The next sale on the list was nonexistent. How does it happen that people put an ad on Craigslist and then there is no sale? Is it some cruel joke? And the next one had nothing, or at least nothing but decor type stuff. We’re both staying strong in our No Decor decision; it really helps having a friend along to agree that no matter how cute something is, it’s decor and we don’t need it. (I’m interested to see how long we last – and what rationales we’ll use when we give in to cuteness.)

Almost didn’t stop at the last sale, it looked so meager. But you never know. Ended up buying a couple more movies for my collection

More movies

and having a fun conversation with the guy having the sale. Another movie buff, so we all got to describe our favorite scenes from some of the ones he had for sale. We also admired his cockatiels and got to hear about the ones that recently had babies.

We were on the north side of Salem by then, and somehow our route back home took us by the big Goodwill store with the bins. I think maybe it was my car that decided to stop there, it just turned right into that parking lot and slid into a space.

Since I made my duct-tape dress form a couple of weeks ago, I find I’m looking at used clothing with new eyes. Just completed my first upcycle that started with a linen sweater

Linen sweater Linen sweater detail

a pair of linen blend pants

linen pants

and a little silk shirt, and became this.


I especially loved adding some vintage buttons from my stash.

Vintage buttons

I think this is going to be really fun. Figuring out ways to combine things to make something new, unique, and comfortable…not to mention frugal. And thanks to those church rummage sales and the Goodwill bins, I have wonderful materials to work with. Materials that cost so little I can experiment with complete impunity. That upcycled sweater has less than a dollar invested in it!

So we waded through bins, looking mostly for linen (and cashmere, for next winter). I got to chatting with another lady and noticed a black linen dress in her cart.

Linen dress

“Holler if you see more linen,” I said, and she told me to take that one. “I have no idea if my daughter would ever wear it,” she said, and put it in my cart. So now I’m not just shopping the bins, I’m shopping in other people’s carts!

Ended up with a whole new stack of possibilities.

Goodwill bins

In these end-of-the-line bins, once you stop looking for something in a particular size there are wonderful choices in fabrics. A retro print

Retro rayon

and some printed silk

Silk print

that might work with this embroidered linen.

Linen shirt

Charm galore

Cute Jacket

and hand embroidery.


I can hardly wait to play with all my textiles. But I will have to wait, because I’m taking a little trip! I’m driving to San Francisco to meet up with my friend Marcia. We’ll be going to the San Francisco Garden Show, and seeing old friends, and going to fun restaurants and generally being happy retired ladies. This is exactly the kind of jaunt I fantasized about while I was waiting to retire!

I did find one other thing in the Goodwill bins that turned out to be the exact right size – but not for me. As I was rummaging I spotted a dog coat and picked it up. And got really excited when I saw the logo. A real Thunder Shirt in Zoe’s size! Zoe in ThundershirtSee, some dogs are soothed by being swaddled during thunderstorms or fireworks. We tried it with Zoe last Fourth of July when she was so upset by the bangs, using an old t-shirt and safety pins. Definitely helped her. I looked at buying her one of the commercial wraps, but they cost $30-40 and I figured we’d be fine with the homemade variety. But I’m more than happy to be able to strap on the real thing when I can buy it for about 80 cents!

Thundershirt logo


Sunday, March 8, 2015


I went out this weekend and spent $28.10. In early March. Did I ever have fun…and get a LOT of stuff!

One of the nice ladies at Morningside Methodist Church left a comment last week to give me a heads-up that their rummage sale was fast approaching. I immediately texted Judy: “Methodists having a sale! Yippee!” She texted a double yippee back.

So what’s the big deal with a church rummage sale? Five bucks a bag, my friends. Whatever you can stuff into it. They also have a separate room with individually priced, higher end items, but we found plenty to love in the bag-it room. Not only that, but the sale is run by super nice ladies. Nice because they are, well, nice, and super because they read my blog! They even came to my Shopping on Driveways program at the library back in November.

I just hope they’ll still like me after they realize I have killer bag stuffing skills. The thing is, I recently made (with help from my SIL Linda & niece Kelsey – thanks, you guys!) one of those duct tape dress forms so I can try upcycling clothing. So I was on the lookout for fabric to play with. All of this was in my bag.


Plus a pair of jeans that I was wearing when I took these pictures (some nice lady had already shortened them to the perfect length!), and three dog collars for Zoe (none of my dogs has ever had such a wardrobe), plus a ball of linen yarn and a hand carved tatting shuttle.


My grandmother tried to teach me to tat as a child, and I nearly cut off the circulation in most of my fingers. I’m sticking to knitting, but I want to see how that yarn turns out. And that’s not all. Also tossed in some sewing notions


and two lovely pieces of fabric.


The taffeta on top has about 5 yards in the piece, and about 2 yards for the other. And possibly my favorite thing of all, a 3” high handmade Piglet figurine.


I think he’s adorable. Eventually he’ll go down to the children’s literature themed guest room, but for the moment he’s on my desk, keeping me company.

Judy and I just had a ball, stuffing our bags and chatting with nice Methodist ladies. But wait, you say, that was just five bucks worth of great stuff. Where did you spend the other $23.10?

I had 5 sales on my list for Friday. This one was the most colorful (and neatest). Can you believe this is her garage?

IMG_8166Even though I’m still trying not to bring home more decor, I did break down and spend fifty cents on a cute metal bird to put in a pot on the deck


and a shiny colorful garland.


Another sale netted napkins and some beautiful vintage hand towels.


Yes, that green tag does say ten cents! At an estate sale I picked up a Pendleton throw for a buck. Pre-felted. I may combine it with something else for a warm garment.


And speaking of warm…what did Judy find on one of these driveways? A hat, of course! I made her buy it. For $3, how could she not?

IMG_8167 IMG_8169So we returned home tired and happy and not much poorer. Later in the afternoon I checked Craigslist to see if there were more sales on Saturday that might be worth going out for. Moments later I texted Judy: “That huge church is having its rummage sale tomorrow!” “YIppee!!” was the expected reply.

We went to this huge church’s sale last year so we had a pretty good idea of what we’d see. I’m not kidding about it being huge. I think I’ve lived in towns with less population than was in that room (make that rooms) and the tables of stuff were unbelievable. Overwhelming. The kind of scene where you immediately figure out how you’ll find each other again if you get separated. We went around to check out the furniture in the Furniture Wing (Judy found a vintage coffee table for $5) and then took a deep breath and went back to the main room. Just in time for the announcement that prices would be half off at 1 p.m.

“Let’s come back later,” I suggested, and Judy looked relieved. She went to pay for her table, and I said I’d meet her at the car after a really quick gander at a couple of tables. She went that way, I went this, and somehow my feet took me right to the area with yarn. I said I was going to resist decor this year. I didn’t say a darned thing about resisting yarn.

Someone whose taste in yarn I respect had made a nice donation. I picked out several bags. This is what $15 can buy at a rummage sale.


This is what $15 buys in a yarn store.

IMG_8176Now you know why I don’t resist great yarn finds. One bag had 16 skeins of this yarn, which retails for $13 a ball.


When I got home I found this kit in one of the bags. One of these days I’ll have to try knitting and felting a calla!

IMG_8180So I grabbed the yarn, and hurried off to pay, not wanting to make Judy wait too long at the car for me. OMG, the lines were about 40 people long. So I scooted over to the furniture area to see if she was still there. Nope, she’d already paid the furniture lady and gone out, but there was no line there and they were happy to take my money for the yarn.

When we returned after lunch, the room was just as full of people and stuff as when we’d left. Honestly, you could not tell that anything had gone, and yet hundreds of people had been there buying. (I don’t even want to know how much stuff they had to get rid of when the sale was over.) But now the items on tables were half price – and clothing was $5 a bag. I quickly checked the tables of linens and picked up this table runner


which may have some garment possibilities.


Then I headed up on the stage area to check out clothing. Now, the Methodist ladies give you a capacious Trader Joe’s paper bag to stuff. These folks hand out the plastic ones from the grocery store, and they just aren’t as big. But I can stuff any kind of bag.  IMG_8186Sweaters and skirts and shirts and scarves, anything I liked the fabric. But that’s not all. My bag also swallowed a Geiger boiled wool coat from Austria      IMG_8207

that Zoe likes a lot. I’m hoping to resell it, but if not she said she’d really like to have it.


I was pretty happy with my stuffed bag, but while Judy was getting her finds into her bag, I made one last sweep, and found a cashmere coat.

IMG_8209 IMG_8210

It’s unbelievably soft. Unfortunately it has two or three tiny owies, so I think I’ll be using it in some of my upcycling adventures.

IMG_8211You know you’re living large when you have cashmere on hand for upcycling!

When I got home and put all my finds into my spreadsheet, I saw that I found more stuff at the giant church and it all averaged to about fifty cents an item. But those Methodist ladies with their Trader Joe’s bags really won my frugal heart. My well-stuffed bag averaged about 22 cents per item.

Maybe I shouldn’t tell that. They might not let me come to their sale next year!

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