Monday, February 26, 2018

Good Fortune, If Not Good Matches

Two estate sales on Friday – miraculously not far from each other. 

According to the ad for the first, the lady had worked for ‘the government’ and lived in Japan for many years, sending items back to the states every year. Working for the government takes in a lot of territory – as a librarian I was a government worker, as was my friend Anne who was a forest ranger, and my father-in-law who worked on the radio gear on B-52 bombers on an Air Force base. But let’s assign this lady to running an elite cadre of spies active throughout Asia – because why not?

The house was full of some wonderful art and china and furniture from Asia. A whole boxful of blue glass Japanese floats; a 19th century bone-inlaid cabinet. While some items had hefty price tags, on the whole we felt that the prices were pretty darned good. Especially for the things we look for. 

We were barely in the house (passing through the laundry room on our way in) when I spied baggies of acrylic paint tubes. KK snagged all those and was thrilled – the paintings she is doing now are very textured and take lots of paint.

Back in one of the bedrooms, the closet had several beautiful kimonos and obis for sale. I'm sure the $10 price tag was a steal, but I resisted since I already have one magnificent silk kimono on display.

However, in the same room there was a table with fabric on it, and I snatched up some of that. Lovely solid color silk fabric, one meter wide by four yards long, for two bucks! (Silk can easily be $40 to $60 a yard in a fabric store.) I got two brown and one gray; plenty of yardage to make something nice. 

Apparently they were purchased at a store in Okinawa that donates all the profits to charity (and has for 50 years!). The price there was outstanding, but mine was even better!

In the kitchen I picked up another adorable little fifty-cent bowl for my morning yogurt and granola.

On a further counter I spied some rice-grain china, which I've always liked. A pair of little teacups were the exact size I've been looking for, for a project. Since the pair was only a dollar, into my bag they went.

The project is to replace the base of the little pig-on-a-pillow figurine I picked up back in October. Millie knocked it off the shelf and broke the handle on the cup that is the base. Alas, when I tried on this new cup for size, it fit perfectly – but the colors don’t go together. At all.

So I'm still looking for a 2.5” diameter teacup, with some pinks and greens in the design this time! The good news is, the hubster loved these rice grain cups and plans to use them for espresso.

The last thing I picked up turned out to be one of those “the jokes on me” items. A lacquered bamboo box, about 8” tall. 

When I pulled off the lid I thought, oh cool, Japanese fireplace matches! What fun! 

So into my bag it went. Upside down, evidently, because when I went to pay I found the lid had come off and all the little bamboo strips with the red tips had come out. When I got home I went to put them back into the box, and that’s when I discovered the booklet tucked inside. I had bought – not fireplace matches – but fortune telling sticks!

Thanks to the Internet, I learned that you make a wish, then shake the tilted container so that one stick rises above the others. That one is your fortune for the day. I'm sure you’ll be pleased to know that my fortune for today is auspicious and that I am going to get my wish.

Of course we always wish for more than one sale, and about ten minutes before KK picked me up on Friday I checked Craigslist one last time and there was a fresh ad. And the sale was only a few blocks from the first one. It turned out to be not nearly as interesting as the first, but I did bring home a Belgian waffle iron (after plugging it in for a few minutes at the sale to make sure it was working). Heated up just fine, but it sure was dirty!

But nothing a bit of soap and elbow grease couldn’t handle, and the buttermilk waffles I made on Sunday were delish.

Some of you may recall the sale we went to earlier this month – the same sale where KK found the Charlie Harper serigraph – where we found some decorator fabric samples.

Thought you might like to see an “after” picture. I took one of the small cuts, hand embroidered it, and made it into a fabric necklace. The beads are from the candle bobeche I bought for fifty cents in January.

I really love re-embroidering print fabric. Definitely will be doing more!

Friday, February 9, 2018

Four Sales, Nine Dollars, and Several Conversations Later…

Where was Judy when we needed her? The object of the day turned out to be vintage hats, and she is our hat model! Alas, she couldn’t be with us on Friday. I loved this beauty, but couldn’t justify spending a fiver on it when I have two others of a similar nature.

Neither of mine has amazing folded ribbon trim decorating them though.

Hmmm. I just realized that tomorrow will be their half-price day, and the sale is close to home. Must resist…

The same sale had linens bundled for $4 “unless otherwise marked.” You can bet I scrutinized my bundle to make sure I wouldn’t have a price surprise when I paid, but four bucks it was. Which got me quite a deal.

A hand-printed tablecloth from France that is still being sold in stores. This size goes for $120. And the set of six matching napkins?

They retail for $85. The set feels close to new. Even better…no dryer sheet smell!

Didn’t have to pay a penny for the nice conversation with the white haired lady who was also enjoying the hats. We met up again in the dining room by a bookshelf, where she commented that she so wished she could have known the person whose estate sale this was. “I can tell by her books that we would have really gotten along well,” she told me.

I am wondering if anyone named Ingrid came along after we were there, and scooped up this sign.

Had another interesting conversation at our next stop. A woman a few years younger than me was perusing tablecloths and said ruefully that she is practically helpless to resist them. I commiserated, thinking of my own over-stuffed tablecloth drawers. And the stack of vintage pillowcases, and drawer full of kitchen towels. As we chatted, she mentioned she is moving to Hawai’i soon. I was surprised. “Most people sell everything they have before they move there,” I commented, “since it's so expensive to ship things over.” But she said she has it all worked out.

“I bought a shipping container, and I'm taking everything,” she told me. “I have a big old Victorian in Albany I'm getting ready to put on the market. Whatever space is left in the container I’ll sell to other shippers. Then when I get there, I'll have the container moved to the land I'm going to buy, and I’ll live in it until I can build something. I lived in my car once and liked it so I figure this will be even better.” 

Then she started telling me how some of her friends think she’s crazy, and how much healthier she’ll be over there, and somehow it became a bit of a rant. I was standing there thinking about a life path that led from living in a car to buying a million dollar shipping container, and whether she might like to adopt me, but wondering if the friends might be right and she’s certifiable or possibly delusional or just plain making it all up.

 But I hope her story was true, and that gray haired ladies can go from living in a car to living in a shipping container in Hawai’i.

This was the sale where I resisted all the linens (let them go to Hawai’i) but picked up a couple of pairs of clip earrings to make into sweater guards.

My SIL has been looking for some, and while I thought two bucks a pair was a bit high, I liked them. 

I also picked up this adorable kitty pin, 

a measuring cup to go into the dog food container (an upgrade from the plastic scoop from a box of detergent I've been using for years), 

and a vintage aluminum half teaspoon measure. 

It's going in my jar of stevia; I use a half teaspoon of the stuff in a pitcher of iced tea, so now it will have its own little scoop. Looks a lot better after I washed it!

When I went to pay, I set everything on the table. The guy running the sale (we know him from other sales) gave a quick glance and said, “One dollar.” Done. I never argue with anyone who wants to give me a screaming deal.

Third stop was on the west side, and this is where I stocked up on more sewing notions.

The sewing machine needles alone would cost more than I paid for everything all morning. Also brought home a yard of heavy cotton basketweave fabric, 

a gold paint pen, 

and in the kitchen I scooped up a pancake batter dispenser. Can't wait to try it out.

Back across the river and north to the last sale. Where we almost didn’t stop, it looked so junky, but we were there so we got out to look. Oh my, was this lady “proud of her stuff” as we say at overpriced sales. KK and I were goofing around with a pile of hats, and she came over to try to get us to buy them for five bucks each. She took her hats more seriously than we did; they were battered and nowhere near as cool as the hat at the first sale. But I did end up buying a bracelet.

Which might possibly be about the ugliest bracelet I've ever seen, with the combination of chain mail and faux pearls. BUT…it has a very good magnetic clasp! So I'm going to use that for something else. And it looks a lot better since I scrubbed it off. Can you tell which side has been cleaned and which hasn’t?

We ended the morning celebrating one of our favorite holidays: National Pizza Day. Guess I should have taken a picture of my pizza for the blog, but all I could think about was eating it!

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Climb Every Stairway

If you go to sales, you’ve probably noticed that there’s often a theme through the morning. At every sale you’ll see some particular item. Could be clown stuff, or a particular brand of china, or marble ashtrays from the Sixties. Once I remember a run of Backstreet Boys posters; all those teen fans had grown up and left home.

This week is was…stairways.

KK and I went to five sales, and every single one had stairs to climb.

Before we headed to the last one, I said I hoped there would be no more stairs this morning, and KK agreed wholeheartedly. So what did we find? A very steep driveway to trudge our way up, and then stairs to the door!

Fortunately we found some fun deals to make up for all that unwanted exercise. Like these tablecloths from our first stop, an estate sale of a former antique dealer.

At least they said he was an antique dealer. I think we may have been in hoarder territory, there was such a jumble of stuff. Part of KK’s loot included some large vintage fabric samples, which she had thought were tablecloths. She didn’t want samples, so she gave them to me.

I just had to add this Dutch boy with pails to the Funny Little People collection.

Those round breeches are irresistible!

Another stop (and more stairs) was the sale with sewing stuff. One lady was comparing two of the $5 sewing machines to get for her nephew, who wants to learn. I think she ended up taking both, since the price was so low. I spent my fiver there for some fabric (3 yards of heavy cream cotton, some black wool felt, and black velvet – none of which make for compelling pictures), a bunch o’ notions, 

and my favorite find of the day, a hand printed tablecloth from Sweden.

Just about everything I could find about the designer 

was in Swedish (Google’s translations are amusing at times, but very handy!). I finally found a reference to this particular piece on a Japanese museum website. It’s called Christmas Party and dates to 1964.

The downtown church book sale (with stairs) netted a couple of pieces of entertainment.

And that last stop (with the stairs AND the steep driveway!) is where I found this cute bowl.

From Japan, I think.

Perfect for my bit of yogurt and granola in the morning.

Later in the day the phone rang. It was KK telling me she had gone back by the first sale on her way to the dog park and found a few more things. Then she told me what her main find was, and I admit it – I'm hideously jealous!

A little digging turned up a signed Charley Harper serigraph from 1979 of his picture of a squirrel hanging on a bird feeder. You can get one too, if you want to spend $200. KK’s price?

Three bucks.

She wins!

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