Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Coming Clean

It’s not the first time I've done it.

I usually don’t admit what I've done. To anyone.

But now it’s time to share this dirty little secret.

Which is…sometimes I buy things just so I can clean them up.

I know, I know. How peculiar is that? It's not like I don’t already own things that could use a good cleaning. Like my husband’s Civic hatchback in which I transport dogs to the park twice a day, seven days a week, rain or shine. The dogs are generally clean and dry when I take them down the hill. Coming back…not so much.

There’s really no point in cleaning up the car until the rains stop, which certainly won’t be this week. But I brought home a few items on Friday mostly because I wanted to clean the poor things. Do you suppose a steady diet of thrifting erodes our sanity after a while?

We went to three or four sales, though I only bought at one. Not the first one. That was the way overpriced sale that I was still enjoying because they had really super dog. Gigantic. A Great Pyrenees/Newfoundland/St. Bernard mix, which may be even odder than our Edward, who was Rottweiler, Springer spaniel, and shepherd. I was exclaiming over their dog’s gorgeousness and as I often do, pulled out my camera and took a picture for the blog.

Whoa. In less than a second the woman having the sale was beside me, hissing at me not to take a picture of her dog. Ooookay, sure. I slipped the camera back into my pocket. She went on to say (more than once) that she is very protective of her dog. Ummmm, what does that even mean? You think I’m going to what, steal your dog? Believe me, I have my hands full with the ones I have. I gave her a not-very-genuine smile and we left.

I wouldn't have been so taken aback if I had not shot hundreds of pictures of other people’s dogs over the years. Pretty sure not one of those shots led to a dognapping. Meeting everyone’s dogs has been a highlight of my garaging career.

Oh well. So I met someone with a screw loose. Who am I to talk – I buy things so I can clean them!

On we went to the estate sale on our list. Which was one of those with mostly terrific prices. Like fat quarters (a quarter of a yard of fabric for the uninitiated!) for a quarter each

or a nice cotton tablecloth for another quarter.

In fact, almost everything I got was a quarter. The big spends were fifty cents each for the vintage laundry bag

and the pair of Bonzo dog (a cartoon character from the Twenties) salt and pepper shakers. Which I picked up because I liked their look,

and bought because they were so darned dirty. Keep reading, the ‘after’ picture is coming!

Other quarters went for some stuff to line kitchen drawers, 

a little framed piece of hardanger embroidery, 

a couple of partially embroidered pillow cases that I think will be fun to finish (okay, they were a quarter each!), 

and in one of those boxes of kitchen miscellany I fished out two silverplated items, a tiny spoon 

and a nutcracker. I admit I was rather bemused by the thought of a silver nutcracker, especially for a quarter.

I was happy with my bag o’ goodies and headed out to the garage to pay up, and I saw my big splurge item of the day. Which desperately needs cleaning (and it hasn’t stopped raining long enough for me to take it out on the deck and do just that).

An oak armchair. Quite old, I think. Originally had a cane seat. 

I heard it calling my name, and when I went over and sat down in it, I had to have it. I'm hoping that once it's clean and that oak is shining again, the ten bucks I paid for it won't seem too ridiculous.

Once home, I pulled out my trusty container of silver polish (the one I've had for so long it’s practically an antique as well) and went to work.

The spoon and the nutcracker both responded nicely.

What I find fascinating is that the plating is so worn on the nutcracker. It looks like it had a lot of use.

But the Bonzo dogs were the real transformation. I think they look much happier without their years of grime, don’t you?

But then, so does Zoƫ!

Monday, March 13, 2017

Cover Ups

Five bucks.

Probably doesn’t sound like a lot of money to many people these days. In a retail world it doesn’t buy you much—a few ink pens, a package of granola bars, maybe a pair of socks. I try not to flinch too hard when I find something at a sale that’s five bucks, but I've gotten so used to the bargains we find that to shell out a fiver means I really want something.

Which is probably why the annual church rummage sale where you get to fill a large paper grocery bag for $5 is a highlight of our spring. Some years are more exciting than others, but stuffing a bag is always a thrill. I may never top last year’s haul but this year made me pretty darned happy, including as it did a vintage Pierre Cardin sweater that I’m currently upcycling

a pair of wool slacks from Germany, fabulous fabric, seem to be brand new

a cute little homemade hoodie for the fabric

a cute little jacket with embroidered polka dots, slated to become the lining of a bag I’m making

a casual plaid shirt, perfect to pop on over a cashmere sweater around the house to keep it clean (I'm a really messy person!)

and an etched wine carafe that I love.

From the church we made our way to an estate sale about a block from my house, at the home of a retired judge who apparently was quite a guy. Most of what we saw was far beyond my $5 flinch point, though I did leave with a cute pair of earrings

and a set of vintage Vera napkins—not in perfect condition, but I did a little mending and they are fine for family dinners.

However, there were a couple of items I was still thinking about the next morning, so I went back and hooray, both things I wanted were still there on half-price day! Soon we were carrying this lamp back up the hill to our house

as well as this framed drawing of the old Marion Hotel, a local landmark that burned down many years ago.

And why would I want a picture of a place that was gone long before I ever set foot in Salem? Because of the couple who built our house back in 1957. We were told by a long-time neighbor in his 90s that the husband was the manager of the Marion Hotel for many years. According to this old gent, the Marion was where lawmakers stayed when the legislature was in session, and that it was where they kept “their fancy women.” So the folks who built our house knew all the dirt back in the day!

After the judge’s house we found a couple of moving sales, and at one I picked up this pair of curtains for a project I've been wanting to do. They were another whole $5, but I bravely bought them anyway. More on that project in a minute.

I'm not quite sure where the week went, but before I knew it Friday had rolled around again and I was out with my posse, looking for deals. Which included a couple of Irish linen hand towels

a sweater stone for de-pilling all that cashmere I recently bought

a sturdy wicker-topped stool for a dollar

and some vintage silk scarves. ‘Cause, you know, I'm so low on scarves after that amazing estate sale last month. The Oscar de la Renta and the Liz Claiborne are likely from the 80s

but these are quite a bit older, from the 40s I think.

One estate sale had boxes of fabric out in the garage, stuff jumbled together and priced at $5 a box or more. No one was showing any interest at all, so I pulled out a piece I liked, and one of those linen towels, and offered a buck for them, saying I didn’t need a whole box. They seemed happy to take it. When I got home I discovered that my Hawaiian-looking fabric is actually from Hawaii,

and that my half-dollar purchased 6½ yards of high-quality rayon material. Now that’s what I call a screamin’ deal!

Let’s circle back to those curtains I bought. Our sweet Fannie, who is almost 11 months old now, still sleeps in her crate at night and when we need to leave her home alone.

The crate sits in a corner of our bedroom and has been covered with an old comforter that we ordered from the Spiegel catalog back in 1973. No, I'm not exaggerating, we’ve had it that long. Let’s be kind and say that it is no longer an object of beauty. But it served its purpose in keeping drafts off the puppy at night, and letting us see that she wasn’t going to chew up a crate cover. So I've been watching for something to use to make a better one. I passed up a quilt a while back that I deemed too pricey at ten bucks and have been kicking myself over my parsimony. So when the $5 curtains caught my eye I knew it was time. I spent a fun day fitting and stitching, assisted by the lovely Millie

who got in the way at every step. But by Fannie’s bedtime the crate had a fitted cover that Millie and I are quite pleased with.

The next morning I finished a matching cushion cover for inside.

The day after that I discovered that while Fannie does not seem inclined to chew on the crate cover, she did eat all four vintage buttons off the cushion cover during the night.


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