Thursday, December 28, 2017

Five Hundred

I am amazed to write these words: this is my Five Hundredth Post as the Queen of Fifty Cents.

When I started this as a lighthearted experiment in the blogging thing I'd been hearing about, it never occurred to me I would just keep on going. And going. Who knows, maybe I'll just keep it up until I get done with garaging.

In which case maybe we’ll run forever! Come along for the ride, it's been fun so far.

I have no thrifting adventures to report, as predictably there were no sales to be seen the Friday before Christmas. But we still needed a Fun Friday, so KK, Judy, and Linda came to my house that morning. We had a fairly hilarious time constructing holiday gnomes from wine corks, felted sweaters, and various crafty items brought home from sales through the year like vintage pipe cleaners and wooden beads.

The hot glue gun came in handy, and only a few fingers got burnt by the glue. Perhaps we shouldn’t have imbibed Judy’s mulled red wine sangria while gluing?

But we thought our gnomes turned out pretty darned good.

The other reason we gathered was to eat. (Gatherings at my house always include eating!) KK had recently mentioned that she had never tasted a soufflé, which was not a state of affairs I could allow to continue. So we had asparagus and cheese soufflé with KK’s fruit platter, then for dessert…individual chocolate soufflés!

I had not made a chocolate soufflé for ages. But looking at the picture, I think celebrating a 500th blog post is an excellent excuse to make another!

Monday, December 18, 2017

The Handicapped Frog & the Broken Pitcher

Pickings looked pretty darned slim on Friday, with only one estate sale listed in Salem. Well, there was another sale but since all they had were Hot Wheels, we had no trouble skipping it. 

But then it turned out that KK had to go to Portland to return a loaner car (hers went in for an oil change and they found a leak in the water pump, to the tune of over $800…Merry Christmas, KK!) so I turned up a few more estate sales in the big city. Turned out that big city sales are pretty much like our local ones, with the same mix of stuff and prices. But it was fun to have an excuse to drive around in handsome old neighborhoods we don’t normally see.

Looking was pretty much all I did; I spent a total of four bucks. I was bemused at the local sale by the four-poster bed sitting across the room from a large bathtub. Evidently this was the master bedroom.

Not how I would arrange my own house, but hey, I'm not planning to live there. I was empty handed when I left the place, but as I emerged I spied a fun piece of garden art – a metal frog made from two shovels and some rebar.

He was marked $5, which would have been fine if he weren’t half blind.

I offered them two bucks, they said yes, and now I own a one-eyed yard frog. Millie of course had to check him out.


The frog has temporarily gone home with KK. Since she is an artist she has an arsenal of paints, and is going to try to create a passable replacement eye, maybe from a Ping-Pong ball. I can hardly wait to see what she comes up with.

Her reward is the pair of Keen boiled wool slippers that I got at one of the Portland sales, that turned out to be just a leeeetle bit too small. Her feet are a leeeetle bit smaller than mine, so she gets them. Along with the pair of Josef Seibel short boots and the bright yellow rain boots from the same sale, where shoes were a buck a pair. I really wanted those yellow boots, sigh. Oh well, that’s what I get for having such nice big feet!

So – two bucks for the frog, one for the Keens. The last dollar? Spent that on a lovely little glass pitcher that was heavily covered with dirt, down in the basement of an old Craftsman house. I noticed it was signed on the bottom so I handed over that dollar.

And wouldn’t you know the dirt was covering up cracks! I was really batting a thousand that day, right?

A one-eyed frog, too-small shoes, and a cracked pitcher. Determined to make at least a little lemonade from my lemons, I got out the jar of Museum Gel and added the little pitcher to the glass collection on the window ledge.

Where no one can see the cracks. We’ll just let it be our little secret, okay?

Sunday, December 10, 2017


We were SO excited to climb into KK’s car for a Friday of fun, after a two-week drought with no sales. And like many other shoppers this time of year, my attention was snagged by toys. Not, I'm afraid, for some well-behaved child looking forward to a visit from Santa (or Tata, as Judy’s 18-month-old granddaughter says). Nope, these were toys for me!

I realized as soon as we stopped at our first address that I had been here before, and I know when and what I bought. It was the house where I found a lovely handmade Velveteen Rabbit, which was exactly the same size as my new kitten, Millie!

That bunny makes a handy yardstick to show how much Millie has grown.

So even though the sale appeared to be a lot of junk strewn over the front yard, I approached with hope. There was so much to look at! I was still inspecting old Christmas wares when I saw what KK pulled out of a plastic garbage bag and I dropped everything and hurried over there.

A Steiff lion! And a big one. I didn’t even need to see the metal button in his ear to know what he was. KK reminded me that Steiffs are not particularly attractive to resell these days. I assured her he was for me! What self-respecting Steiff lover who is also a Leo would pass him up?

Then I looked further into that bag, and some other bags and boxes. Oh my. I actually had to make myself choose between all that was there! I asked the seller (who said that all this was coming out of his parents overflowing attic, and that he had no emotional attachment to any of it) for a price. Which ended up being ten bucks for the lion, a reclining Steiff tiger 

(there were several sizes of this guy available), 

and a Steiff tiger puppet, 

and the cutest Steiff donkey you’ve ever seen. 

He’s not quite as big as Millie, who was very interested in giving him a good sniff. 

There were also a number of dogs – this vintage painted felt pup reminds me of our Zoë (and needs a bit of repair). 

The little made-in-Japan guy 

and the vintage Dakin cocker 

are mohair and probably date from the Fifties. 

(I do admit they might not be quite as cute as the dog KK met at one of our stops.)

So now I'm toting around a big lion, two tigers, a donkey and three dogs. Made it hard to check out all the other boxes and bags, but I managed to snag the missing Fischer Price guy from my three men in a tub toy 

and a quite wonderful handmade embroidered and cutwork tablecloth. 

I noticed it had been mended (which just says to me that someone loved this thing), 

and it turned out I needed to mend another hole as well, which didn't take long.

But you only see the patches if you go looking for them, and I love it.

The other sales that morning were anticlimactic after such a beginning, mostly estate sales with either uninteresting items or high prices, or both. But even though I spent only another $3.50, I was almost as happy as with my toys. One of my favorite nursery rhymes was always the “To market, to market to buy a fat pig” one…and there it was on a linen towel! 

And one of our last stops yielded some choice sewing notions, like some packs of rick rack, 

a fair amount of Stitch Witchery (fusible web that I always pick up when I find it, especially for a dime), disappearing basting thread, and That Purple Thang.

Most of you are probably saying, what the heck is That Purple Thang? Well, it's a little sewing/crafting tool that helps you turn corners and even out puckers and use the sewing machine without stitching through your index finger. I picked up this one because it was a dime and looked interesting. But it might be the deal of the day, since it not only retails for about five bucks, but has 4.5 stars on Amazon with over 700 user reviews.

Good grief, I wish I could get over 700 reviews on my books! Hmmm, maybe I could retitle them as That Purple Thang series? 

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

High Contrast

I knew from the addresses programmed into my GPS that we were going to experience a wide variety of residences on Friday. Our first two stops? The golf course/country club neighborhood, and then a mobile home park that has been around since the Fifties.

I probably felt just a leeeetle bit more at home at the second place!

The country club place was ginormous. Let’s put it this way: my house is big but it's built on two levels so it doesn’t seem overly large. That house was also on two levels…each one just a few hundred square feet smaller than my whole place. And only three bedrooms, so you can imagine the size of each. Here’s the foyer, which I'm sure is bigger than my master bedroom!

The floor covering in the kitchen at first glance appeared to be a classic black and white pattern, 

but each dark square had a rose imprinted in it.

Most of the items for sale were, as Judy put it, just not our taste. Especially in the man’s closet – I've never seen so many pastel silk sport coats in one place, and there were a number of silk shirts in wild prints. But I did grab this throw, 

because I noticed immediately it is 100% alpaca. 

An alpaca throw – how luxurious is that? I splurged ten bucks on it, and when I got home I looked up the brand. These things go for $200 to $500! I just love the natural colors.

I kept feeling splurgy, and succumbed to the charms of a Denby Arabesque teapot, cups and saucers.

On my last pass through the kitchen, I picked up a mystery item.

The lady running the sale and I both thought it might be something for brewing coffee, but after we got home, KK figured out its true purpose. It's a wine decanting funnel! Just what I needed!

On we went to the mobile home park, where the entire single-wide abode would have fit inside the foyer and living room at the other house. I didn’t find anything there; picture motorcycle riding leathers and DVDs of guy films. But KK possibly got the deal of the day – a late model Sodastream Jet for three bucks! Just the CO2 canister is worth ten times that amount.

We moved on to more contrast, a 1930’s house in the lovely older neighborhood where the governor’s mansion is located. The same folks had a sale a few months ago and told us they were going to retire to Mexico or Costa Rica or somewhere (my grasp of geography is surpassed only by my leaky memory). So this was the retirement sale, and since they used to be antique dealers we thought it could be interesting. Which it was, although they seemed to think they were still running an antique store, at least from the prices. Some of the items struck us a creepy, 

but there were cute things as well. 

Here’s a good example of both – we thought KK looked ravishing in this headdress, but the taxidermy battle to the death behind her…not so much.

I think they might not have been completely on the same page, since the husband was giving deals because they have to be out of the house by the end of the month, but the wife wasn’t budging on her prices very high prices. The only thing I bought was this, 

and the wife huffed that she didn’t know where her husband was getting his prices because she had been selling them for twice as much. (Couldn’t have sold many, there was an overflowing boxful.) Anyway, I think this is a guinea hen, made of a sturdy wire armature and rope and feathers. 

I just like her. I was thinking if I leave her outside she might grow moss and look cool in the yard. But then I was also thinking she might just disintegrate in the rain, so for now she’s hanging out on top of the coat closet with a vase of dried alliums.

I like the contrast of her texture against the smooth glass vase.
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