Friday, December 28, 2018

One More

Hooray! One last sale to go to in 2018!

Okay, it wasn’t actually much of an estate sale. I overheard one of the family running it tell someone it was the fourth sale they had held, which explained the largely empty rooms. I offered them three bucks for the three items I found which they took so fast I wished I had offered two!

I started upstairs, where I had to use the flashlight on my phone to get around. There must not have been a light bulb stronger than 20 watts anywhere in the house. My first find was just a whim.

I love the design of the embroidered patch, and for something with a date of 1954 it looks brand new. Half the fun of bringing stuff like this home is what you find out afterwards. Camp Pioneer, a Boy Scout camp about 2½ hours east of Salem, was founded in 1936 – and it's still there!

At first I thought this was a triangular head scarf, but now I realize it must have been a neckerchief.

There were any number of wool scarves in the various rooms; I think at least some of them were Pendletons, though none had a label. I resisted all (my scarf collection has gotten prodigious) until I came across this lined wool stole. 

It's about 7 feet long and possibly homemade; the side seams are machine sewn but both ends are hand stitched. I think what really got me to bring it home is the hand-knotted fringe. I'm always a sucker for a good detail.

Back downstairs, I came across what I assumed is a twin-size bedspread. I fell hard for the fabric.

When I tried it on a twin bed at home, I saw it's really an odd size. Very long, but not wide enough to hang over the sides very far. But in perfect condition. Maybe I'll drape it over the sofa or something. Or just hang it on a wall as art. And both sides are nice!

I met up with my buddy Judy while I was there, and we went out for a bit of breakfast afterward. We had a good chat (haven’t seen each other for a few weeks, those pesky holidays got in the way) and as we headed to our cars she remarked that it had made her feel so much better to have a sale to go to. We had to laugh at ourselves, because it's so true. We really don’t care if we find anything to buy (though it's great when we do). It's that lovely anticipation when you start out, having no idea what the day will bring.

I am wondering why I don’t bring that same anticipation to every day. After all, we never know what will come down the pike on any given day. We think we know, and of course lots of days go as expected. But certainly not all.

Ah, but here’s the difference. Going to all these sales rarely includes anything really negative. About the worst that happens is you encounter someone who is rude or unpleasant, or you buy something you regret. But you’re unlikely to have to deal with that unpleasant person ever again, and you probably spent so little on that unneeded item that your regret is minimal. And the good encounters and fabulous deals far outweigh the bad.

So maybe I should bring that attitude more into everyday life – view the unpleasant parts as not very important, and focus on the good parts. A good plan for a new year.

Or – maybe I should go thrifting every day?

Sunday, November 4, 2018

To the Bins…and Beyond!

I haven’t been very assiduous about posting, but never fear, the thrifting continues!

The very next day after my last post about all the art I’m finding, I checked Craigslist and saw that the Episcopalian Church’s rummage sale was happening that day. (They start theirs on Thursday, then on Friday afternoon prices go to half, and on Saturday you can stuff a bag for five bucks.) I didn’t find much, I think a scarf and a kitchen doodad, but as I headed for the line to pay, I noticed that they had art propped up behind the tables of their “special” items – nicer things with higher prices. And there was a picture there that caught my eye, colorful windswept trees on a hillside. Sure enough, the handwritten label proclaimed it to be an original, but the price was $20. 

Not a whole lot for an original piece of art, but I had already spent so much in October I was really hesitant. When paid for my other things (a whole dollar!) I asked if they reduced prices at any point and they explained their system. I said I'd try to come back Friday afternoon and see if the picture I wanted was still there. 

One of the two ladies perked up and asked which picture. I pointed and described, and she beamed. It was a piece she had donated. I told her how much I liked it but that I was watching my pennies. She turned to the other lady, whose name tag proclaimed her to be Carol. “Couldn’t we let her have it for half today?” she asked.

Carol pursed her lips and shook her head. “If we do that,” she proclaimed, “we would have to do it for everyone.”

I've heard this line before, and it always annoys me, but I kept smiling. “No you wouldn’t. I'm not going to tell anyone, and I know you wouldn’t either.”

Joyce, the one who donated the picture, smothered a smile. “Maybe we could put it back for her until tomorrow.” Carol shook her head again. “We’ve never done that before.”

“Carol,” I said, still smiling, “why don’t you go take a little walk while Joyce and I talk?”

Carol hemmed and hawed a bit, but before long she turned away, and Joyce and I walked over to the picture. She told me she bought it from a local artist in Hood River and that it’s a cherry orchard (fruit is the big industry up there). She had it framed after she bought it, and she was really hoping that someone would fall in love with it when she donated it. I assured her I was that person, ten dollars quietly changed hands, and off I went. She seemed just as happy that it found the right home as I was to have it. I did a little rearranging and had it hung in my living room within half an hour of arriving home.

This is no amateur piece like some of the others (though I love them too!). 

The artist, Sally Bills Bailey, has apparently won lots of awards for her watercolors and acrylics. I found three of her works online with sales prices in the $1200 to $1800 range – and those are unframed. So I got an amazing bargain, but no one could love it more than I do!

You know how when something lucky happens people will say you should go buy that lottery ticket? Well, I think that’s the perfect time to keep thrifting – you’re far more likely to ‘win’ than with the lottery!

A few days later KK and I made a foray to the Goodwill bins, where I found a couple of beautifully made wooden toys. I knew exactly the person who would love them, my friend Lonna’s brother Jeff collects (among other things) wooden trains and cars etc. Sure enough, he loved them!

And wouldn’t you know, the next time we hit the bins I spotted something else I knew he would love for his Mickey Mouse collection – a vintage Mickey backscratcher.

He has hundreds of Mickey items, but didn’t have a backscratcher. He does now!

In between those two trips to the bins, we happened on a pretty good estate sale over near my old house. (In the really posh part of the neighborhood.) On Friday all I got was this metal bunny; 

it had lost its rod that stuck into the ground, but I like it on the wall.

KK and I went back on Saturday. Way fewer people crowded into the house, and still lots of interesting stuff to see. I walked off with some metal shelving for my garage (too boring to take a picture of, and now it’s full of things like paint cans.) More interesting is the adorable bunny hose holder – the paint is flaking off a bit, but I've got a can of copper metallic spray paint that will make it really spiffy.

My other find was a king size down comforter for five bucks. (Picture a large white poofy thing.) I knew I needed a duvet cover for it (white bed coverings and dogs are not a good combo!) so that was our excuse for the second trip to the bins. Where I found an Eddie Bauer king-size duvet cover in a dark red damask. LOVE! It washed beautifully, and is big enough on my queen size bed to hang down to the dust ruffle. 

Me and the girls are cozy at night, let me tell you!

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Getting Artsy

One of the things I'm really enjoying about living alone (or at least as alone as a woman with two dogs and a cat will ever be) is the complete freedom to decorate as I please. No negotiating about where to hang a picture or place a piece of furniture. ZoĆ« and Fannie and Millie never ever say, “Where are you going to put that?”

I think I may be turning my house into a gallery. I keep finding pieces of art that I can't resist, and locating one more spot to accommodate the new acquisition. There was that watercolor from the estate sale a couple of weeks ago, which seemed to open the floodgates. The next time I went garaging, I picked up another original painting…for a dollar. 

I love it; reminds me of the creek I now live on (though my location is nothing like so rural – I'm only about 10 blocks from the state capital!). The next day I went to the Baptist rummage sale, and there was another original oil, this time an autumn scene of a covered bridge. (Did you know we have more than 50 covered bridges in western Oregon?) 

The price was two dollars, so there was no incentive to resist. Hanging next to it was a beautifully stitched and framed crewel embroidery, probably from the 70s. 

I believe it was a Paragon kit called Poppies in Bloom (for some obscure reason…). Whoever stitched it did a beautiful job.

Of course art comes in all formats, and I've always loved folk art. Which certainly describes my newest bunny, who comes from Russia with love. (MY love – I'm crazy about him!) 

When you swing the wooden ball he paddles his boat; it is fabulous. I keep taking him down to play with.

Found an area rug for my living room that was art to my eyes. Thick wool plush, looks like new, twenty bucks. Yes please.

And I stand firm in my belief that well-designed, practical items we use every day are a wonderful form of art. Into which category I put my new paring knife; don’t you love using a good knife? 

In fact, a big part of the enjoyment I get from cooking (and oh yes, I do love the eating part!) is using the terrific kitchen tools I've found on driveways over the years. Excuse me while I go make a note to do a future post on a tour of my favorite kitchen stuff…

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Done Good

I was SO proud of myself on Friday! I did a great job of staying focused while we were out on the garaging trail, keeping my purchases to practical stuff I’ll use. More or less. I could certainly have lived without another whisk, but I've never seen one like this before.

I figure if it doesn’t work well I can take the little inner ball out for a cat toy! And using this pewter-handled spreader by Arthur Court to smear brie on a cracker is way fun.

Who can’t use a couple of pairs of socks for a quarter each?

My main search was for a dresser for the bedroom; at every sale I scanned for one I could use. We had a few estate sales on the list which are typically inside the house, and I made a beeline for the bedrooms with my fingers crossed. But no luck all morning.

I've been looking for a dresser for several weeks now, and let me tell you: there are a lot of hideously ugly dressers out there looking for new homes! I visited just about every thrift store in town, and saved a search on Craigslist so every new listing came to my email. Lordy, lordy. Maybe I'd have seen nicer things if I had been looking in a higher price range, but maybe not. My research indicates that dressers in this country lead a very hard life! They get beat up and painted and decorated with stickers and lose their handles. People try out treatments they’ve seen on Pinterest and end up with something that should go on a Pinterest-fail site. I was getting thoroughly discouraged.

The last sale on our list had a picture of a dresser, but the sale didn’t start until noon. We had lunch first and so didn’t get there till closer to 1:00. Made that beeline for the bedroom, and the dresser was still there. And I liked it! And it was marked $25! I tested the drawers (they all rolled in and out just fine), gave it a quick sniff test (no icky smells), and immediately bought it. And I like it a lot!

It's not a high end piece of furniture, but it’s exactly the size and shape I needed. Perhaps someday I'll find something better, but in the meantime this is just fine.

I spent Saturday switching my summer clothes for the cool weather stuff, and the dresser allowed me to remove all the clutter in my closet that’s been bugging me. I can't tell you how happy I am to have all my shoes off the floor!

So – Friday I was thrifty, Saturday I was industrious, and Sunday…I just went wild.

Earlier in the week, KK was asked by a friend of a friend to look over some art that would be in an estate sale over the weekend. (KK’s an artist as well as an architect.) We were regaled with stories about all the art in this woman’s house, as well as many other interesting items, but we also heard the prices were going to be high. I resisted checking it out on Saturday, but Sunday would be half price on many things, so I decided to see what was left. I just wish I could have known the lady who collected all this stuff (I heard she is quite elderly and has gone to Minnesota to live with her sister) because I think we would be simpatico. Yes, she had much fine art…but she also had a taste for whimsy to match mine.

There was something about that half-price thing that made me think I could buy everything I wanted. And I did. Some of it was indeed practical, like a lamp for the corner of the living room I've been watching for.

This molded glass table lamp is both whimsical and practical. The red cord was what made me buy it.

I was excited to find the laundry basket I've been wanting, something with a lid because Fannie loves to remove dirty socks from the basket and chew on them. 

This one fits in the closet and has a removable cloth bag. Perfect.

A little vintage drawer cabinet is just the thing for jewelry-making bits and bobs. I'm saving it for a rainy day activity to load all the drawers.

But…much of what I got was just for fun! Like an original framed watercolor. 

I love daffodils (I had hundreds in the front yard of my last house), 

but what really made me buy it was the two little birds in the corner.

This kinetic toy is so goofy when you roll it along I had to have it. The wings flap in a very erratic manner.

Who actually  needs more mugs, right? But for a quarter each I brought home two; I can always give them away when I get tired of them. I just liked the blue & white design,

and the colors on the large hand-painted one are luscious. It's the perfect size for soup. I think I'll make soup this week.

I'm certainly not short of fabric, but they had some bundles of high quality stuff that at half price were only $3.75. That bought me about 2 yards of the heavy cotton striped piece, and about 3 yards each of heavy natural linen and blue & white ikat. If you’ve been in a fabric store recently you know what a steal that is!

A couple of pairs of earrings came home with me. Everyone needs more earrings, right? (Even though I have so many I keep saying I need to grow more ears so I can wear them all more often.)

I probably got a little carried away with ornaments. This metal dog has washers for eyes, and look at his toes!

Another dog – how could I resist that crazed expression?

I'm a little surprised by how much I love this primitive angel, with her embroidered threadbare fabric and wooden wings. 

Maybe it's her finely-drawn face with the stern expression.

I'm ready for Hallowe’en with my handmade clay jack o’lantern.

This little cardinal carving is only about an inch high. Cardinals were my favorite birds growing up, but we don’t have them in Oregon.

I can't believe no one had snatched up this wonderful mouse with his umbrella.

And I almost resisted the paper mache bunny basket

 – but the carrot on the handle was too much. He’s perfect for holding pens and pencils in my kitchen.

Thank heavens for these sales, where we can indulge our whimsical souls without breaking the bank!

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