Sunday, May 31, 2015

Home of the Free

Went garaging on Friday with buddies Judy and KK, and we all found free stuff! We spent a few bucks too, $7 in my case, but it was the free stuff we were talking about at the end.
Judy went home with a great apron, the kind that goes over your head and ties at the sides. It was the pockets that sealed the deal. (Well, the pockets and the price!) KK was terribly pleased with the little gardening implement she found, like this one.

We all kept admiring it, and exclaiming, “The claw! The claw!”
I grabbed my freebie to give as a gift. Three unopened boxes of tea for a Keurig machine.

Several family members have the machines so I’m sure someone will be glad to have these. I have no idea why the folks having the sale put them in the free box, since they are unopened and would retail for about $45. I imagine they could have gotten a few bucks. But I was happy to walk off with them!

I also paid nothing for this little soil test kit. Nope, didn’t steal it!

I bought some other things at that sale and she threw this in since it was only marked a quarter. I’m always happy to save a quarter, knowing I can turn it into something really good at another sale down the road.

So what did my seven bucks go for? Mostly more clothing to play upcycling with. (I turned a too-small vintage shirt and matching pants into a really great top this week, and am almost done adding some length and an inverted back pleat to a linen shirt.) I’ve never been able to wear any of the interesting stuff from Chico’s, but this travelers knit jacket came with coordinating black pants and I think I can do something with them.

This silk shirt also has matching pants, and for once both are too large, so I’ll get to play with these in a different direction.

And I’m always looking for linen items, so was happy to find a couple of shirts

and this little jacket, which is not printed but embroidered!

Then there was The Tablecloth. I do have quite a few tablecloths, and looked long at this one while the debate ran through my head: Ooooh, really nice. But you have so many already. But it’s really nice. It’s decor, you’re not buying decor. But I like it a lot. And it’s French. And it looks like it might be the perfect size for the table on the deck. And – the clincher! – the price was $1. So I brought it home. And I love it. And it IS the perfect size for the table on the deck

and has so many colors in it that lots of our napkins will go with it. 
But I have to admit the real thrill came when I looked up the company on the tag.
Turns out they’ve been printing textiles since something like the 1700s, and these tablecloths are screen printed. So each color is applied separately. Think of the work! I imagine it’s all automated these days, but still. And it explains the price tag for these puppies on the retail market, which for this tablecloth would have been in the $250 - $400 range. Zowie. I’d be terrified to spill something on a $400 tablecloth.

But I can use a $1 tablecloth with impunity. And compared to retail, this was practically free too!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Resistance is Futile

I can never resist checking out a piano. I’m really not a pianist but I own one and have fun with it. And I always want to see what other pianos sound like. (I also never pass a wind chime without finding out what it sounds like, and drums aren’t safe either. I may have to revise my self-image as a quiet person.)

So I have a couple of tunes I can play, and one of them is Ashoken Farewell, the haunting fiddle tune used in the Civil War documentary of a few years ago. And I wasn’t more than six notes into it at the estate sale on Friday when I heard a man’s voice say, “Ashoken Farewell! One of my favorite tunes!” I could hardly believe my ears. About a year and a half ago, I was playing this same tune on an estate sale piano and a man came over and told me enthusiastically, “Ashoken Farewell! One of my favorite tunes!”

This being not-so-big Salem, it was of course the same guy. I’m not sure if he remembered the earlier conversation, but we had a nice chat (again) about what a great tune it is and how it sounds like it should be from the Civil War era but isn’t. (And while we were chatting, his wife was snagging all the great Pendleton shirts my hubs would have liked, dang it!) Now I’m going to expect to see him at any sale where there’s a piano. I’ll have to make sure I keep Ashoken Farewell in practice; I wouldn’t want to disappoint him with wrong notes.

Evidently I can’t resist cashmere either. There was this really beautiful black cashmere ladies’ coat at the last estate sale we went to, and I was trying to get this other lady to buy it. We both stood there petting it (cashmere cloth feels really very nice) and saying neither of us needed another coat, but finally she gave in and put it on.


And it didn’t fit her! Just a bit tight in the hips. About that time my friends Judy and Robin showed up and they petted the coat too. Try it on they said. I don’t need another black coat, I said. This one’s the perfect weight for Oregon, they said. It’s fifteen dollars, I said. Right, they said, only fifteen dollars! So I tried on the black cashmere coat and it fit perfectly and felt great. Then Judy said the clincher. “You can wear it with anything. You can wear it with jeans to go garaging.” Cashmere coatSo yes, I’ll be the lady with jeans and a cashmere coat out looking for bargains in the future. I admit I can’t wait to wear it somewhere. Which means we will undoubtedly be in for a stretch of warm weather.

This whole business of resisting temptation is so difficult, you know? The resolve not to buy projects or decor has made me put down any number of items, and the fact that I can’t remember any of them reinforces the rightness of those decisions. At another estate sale Friday I decided to buy a very nice bottle with a pouring spout and metal lid to use for maple syrup. There were several of them sitting there, priced at a dollar each. Judy pointed out a little chrome stand with two of these bottles plus matching salt and pepper shakers, priced $3. I shook my head, saying I’d never use them. So it would just be decor.

When I got home I noticed a label on my bottle and went to the computer to check it out.Alessi labelAnd five minutes later I headed back to that sale, fingers crossed that the rest of the bottles and the set would still be there. Because these bottles are designed by Ettore Sottsass for Alessi

Sottsass cruets for Alessiand they retail for over $40 each and that set is priced at over $200. Zowie. But alas, while I scored three more of the bottles (one missing its cap), the set was gone. Sure hope whoever bought it appreciates it!

When I got home again I emailed Judy a link to the set we’d passed up, saying we’d missed the boat. I think her reply truly captures our feelings. “We didn’t miss the boat…we missed a gigantic cruise ship!”

Monday, May 11, 2015

Rummaging for Irises

Oh, I had such a cool day planned for Thursday. Karen and Judy had never been to see the demonstration gardens at the local iris grower. Which are amazing.

IMG_4668 IMG_4733 

The website for the grower said the gardens are open ‘early May to early June.’ The weather forecast was sunny and a high of 70. Perfect. We decided we’d go out for a special breakfast at the restaurant that’s so good you always have to wait at least half an hour, then the garden, then lunch. A field trip!

So a few minutes before Karen picked me up, I double checked the garden website for opening time…and saw that opening day was now listed as Friday, May 8! Not open yet for our planned visit! Phooey! Now what?

A quick look at Craigslist saved the day. When we were all in the car heading for breakfast I told them I had some bad news and some good news. Groans all around when I told them about the garden not opening until the next day. (At least we found out before driving the several miles out there.) Then I said, “But the good news is…the Episcopalian rummage sale starts this morning!”

So after our yummy breakfast (mine included crème brûlée French toast) we headed for the sale, probably just as excited as we’d have been for the garden. We got there after the first frenzy of shoppers, but the gigantic room was still packed with stuff.

I headed straight for the household linens. I’m still refashioning using my duct tape dress form, and household linens can yield large amounts of fabric for great prices. In fact, that day I was wearing a shirt I recently made from a linen tablecloth. I love linen, and always look for it, and sure enough I spotted some pale pink linen right away.


A pair of pillowcases in real linen. When I checked the sign listing prices I saw that pillowcases were fifty cents per pair. So even though this pair had a couple of spots on them, they were too nice to pass up. And the spots came out in the first wash! The lovely embroidery was done by hand. I thought the flowers were in satin stitch, but when I looked at the close-up photo I realized they are actually done in buttonhole stitch.


So here’s my idea for this pair: a while back I ran across an ad for linen bath towels and I’ve wanted some ever since. But they are pretty darned pricey. I’m going to combine the two pillowcases into one larger piece; I can always return them to being pillowcases later. But for fifty cents - instead of the usual fifty bucks or so - I can try out a linen bath towel.

Next I wandered over to the tables and racks of clothing. I have to tell you, I’ve gotten spoiled by the other local churches that hand you a bag to stuff. I mentioned to one of the ladies working the sale how much the other churches like using the bag system. She thought about it for a moment, and then told me that might be okay for some churches but the clothing donated for her church’s sale was of a much higher quality. I was struggling to keep a straight face, thinking of the clothes I have stuffed into bags (100% cashmere coat! Geiger boiled wool jacket! Linen, silk, cashmere sweaters!). But you would have been proud of me; I just nodded and left her endlessly refolding shirts to keep the tables neat.

Even though I’m bravely trying not to bring home more decor, I couldn’t help a quick pass by those tables. And yes, I picked up some things I couldn’t resist. Not, I’m relieved to tell you, this cute but weird bird figurine.


We had quite a discussion about it. Dead bird? So happy he caught that worm that he fell on his back in ecstasy? The worm wrestled him to the ground??


But this little ladybug doll by Kathe Kruse (German dollmaker) did come home with me. It’s rather curious; I found nothing like it on the Web.

IMG_8576IMG_8572The face is like her Waldorf dolls, and it has a long tie as for tying around a child’s wrist, but it’s stuffed with excelsior like a vintage bear would be. Which seems a curious choice for something to give a young child, at least these days.

IMG_8574I think she’ll be part of my Funny Little People collection. Near her on the table I found a terribly cute Christmas ornament.           IMG_8583 IMG_8579I wouldn’t have spent the $10 listed on the original tag, but a quarter…yup.


And then one more piece of art jumped out at me.

IMG_8568I picked it up, put it down, then picked it up again. If it had been marked at more than a dollar I might have been able to resist…but it was only a buck.


I have no regrets, I really love this thing, the way it’s carved frame and all from a single piece of wood. It’s signed on the back but I couldn’t find anything about the carver on the Internet.


As you can imagine, looking up O.H. Hilton got me a zillion hits about hotels in Ohio. It’s amazing how many woodcarving events have been held at hotels in Ohio!

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