Monday, December 16, 2019

Unexpected Treasures

Wasn’t going out on Friday, only two estate sales in town that looked meh and Judy and I both decided housework could take precedence. Then KK ended up with Friday off, so she and I checked out the estate sales. Which turned out to be…meh. And both involved climbing stairs, and both houses were, um, somewhat smelly. The first had been inhabited by smokers (lovely collection of ashtrays for sale in the garage), the second by mildew and infrequently changed cat boxes.

And I admit that stairs are not my favorite thing. The new knee is doing just fine, but we're still slow on stairs. I really appreciated the lady going up in front of me who commented, "You know, I have always hated climbing stairs!" Someone who understands me!

I managed to spend four bucks at the first sale. The family was probably Swedish; among other things there were numerous Christmas ornaments made of the traditional straw. I was a bit tempted, but my rambunctious cat Millie would have made short work of them. But I loved this hand embroidered (all in chain stitch) bell pull, 

and Millie highly approves of the bunny tea cloth I brought home.

I love the bunnies, don't they look like they are conversing?

On Saturday, KK and I headed off to Portland. We were lunching with Linda, then getting KK’s car serviced at the dealer. When we reached Linda’s house we found she had ducked out to run a quick errand that of course took longer than expected, but we had seen an ‘estate sale’ sign around the corner so of course we had to check it out. Turned out to be further away than expected, but on the way to our lunch spot.

Everyone else in Portland must have been at a mall, because this very nice estate sale was practically deserted. And luckily Linda soon texted, and joined us. KK found several things (sorry, can't remember what!) and Linda went back the next day to buy the mirror she fell in love with – at
half price.

I hit the jackpot before I even went in the house – found a large Japanese aralia (fatsia japonica) for only ten bucks. (If you buy plants you know that’s a steal!) It was one possibility I've been considering for a part of my yard I'm developing because of its imposing appearance and shade tolerance.

 Inside I picked up a pair of fifty cent earrings,

two lovely blue ramekins (fifty cents each),

and a handmade tote bag that I just love.

Needs a bit of mending, but hey, I like to mend!

Out in the garage I found another holiday bell pull, this one of Swedish hardanger embroidery on linen.

I guess it was Swedish weekend, since we had to go by IKEA while we were in Portland as well. But the little glow we felt from finding this completely unexpected estate sale carried us through the retail encounter. Which on a Saturday afternoon, ten days before Christmas, we certainly needed!

Monday, December 9, 2019


Last summer, when my friend Marcia was here and we were waiting for my knee replacement surgery to happen, we naturally did a bit of garaging. We stopped at an estate sale in my old neighborhood, and it was a treasure trove. We had a great time on their driveway, chatting and roasting in the August heat and digging through the many boxes. The sale was lady’s parents’ belongings, and her mother was an extremely creative (and collecting!) person. Marcia came away with an armload of CDs, and I bought music and movies and craft supplies and whimsical doodads. I remember walking away with my arms full for a total of five bucks.

One of my favorite whimsies that day was this tiny vintage piece.

So you may only imagine how excited I was to see that they were having another sale this weekend. I don't usually go back to one I've already seen, but I knew they had only scratched the surface of the parents’ belongings.

Marcia is back in California now, so I took my friend Lonna along to see what we could see. Alas, her luck was not running well – she found a book she wanted that turned out wasn’t for sale. Then she saw something else she liked and had a somewhat unpleasant encounter with one of the pushy guys I think is a local dealer. (There are a handful of these folks who are consistently rude, and I generally try to arrive at sales when I think they will have left.) So sorry, Lonna, it’s not usually like that!

I fared better. On our way into the house we walked by a large Christmas wreath. I noticed it had a price tag. One dollar. Now mine. It's just faux greenery but you can't beat that price. I think I'll refurbish it for next year, but for now it's the total of my seasonal decorating.

The first thing I found inside was this trio of one-inch tall angels. Some of their wings have gotten broken, but I still love them.

My next find was a large framed embroidery for my studio.

You may remember that my focus word for this year is “Mend” – this seemed a perfect reminder. When I got home, I noticed a tag on the back from the framing shop. Imagine my surprise when I saw it was framed in Oklahoma City where I grew up!

Turns out the framers are still in business, and one of their shops is only a few blocks from where I lived. I'm sure I'll never know who the embroiderer was, but I wonder if our paths ever crossed? Whoever she was, the frame was carefully selected to color blend with the embroidery.

I found some cute cupcake papers. At three for a penny, home they came.

In one of the back bedrooms, I found this big (about 2’ tall) papier-mâché bunny who now resides at my house. He was one of the things the creative mother made.

In the other back bedroom, I noticed a really nice switch plate cover, and asked if it might be for sale. The answer was yes, in fact I could just have it, if a screw driver could be located to remove it from the wall. Alas, no screwdriver appeared. I first tried a dime (too big) and then the tip of a table knife (also too big) then they did locate some odd multi-purpose tool but it was too awkward to turn the screws. But I really loved it. So later in the day I went back – with my own screwdriver! Had it off the wall in no time, and made sure that the folks having the sale knew how much I love it.

Of course since I was there again I had to shop again. It was amazing how much had left the house in two or three hours, but much remained. I picked up some movies

including one that might be in Chinese.

I found a very small Yixing tea pot, too small to be practical for use. But a) it was only fifty cents, and b) it looks good with my other Yixing pots. ‘Nuff said.

My last find was another papier-mâché bunny, much smaller than the first. 

I absolutely fell for his hand painted face.

So sometimes you can go home again – even if it's to someone else’s home! Even better, they told me another sale is planned in January, because they hadn’t even started on clearing the garage.

I can hardly wait.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019


I've done a fair amount of mending over the years, perhaps especially this year, since “Mend” has been my special focus. Sorry to say I haven’t mended everything I meant to (yet!) – there is a basket of items needing attention in my studio thumbing its nose at me whenever I walk by.

And today I helped mend something I've never dreamed of tackling before…a concrete garden fountain!

My friend Lysa recently bought a garden fountain she’s had her eye on for a while. When they got it home and lifted it out of the car, one corner of the top broke off. Moisture had penetrated partway along the break line, so clearly it had been cracked for a while. Very disappointing! But gardeners are an intrepid lot. She headed off to the hardware store for epoxy that claims to glue concrete, rounded up a couple of long clamps, and we tackled the job this morning.

I apologize for no pictures, but neither of us has done anything like this before, and there was no way I was getting my camera anywhere near brown, gooey epoxy! (I have a bad track record for messiness.) We mixed the two parts of the glue, donned plastic gloves, smeared and fitted and clamped, and then crossed our fingers. The repair is still drying so no final results are in, but we have high hopes that the mend will prove functional, though probably not invisible. But that’s okay, “visible mending” is something of a movement these days. Try that phrase on Google or Pinterest.

It’s too bad we didn’t have gold epoxy though, we could have mended it kintsugi style.

A concrete fountain is not the only odd thing I've ever mended. I think the previous record was held by the traveling dog crate ripped by an exuberant young Golden retriever. It's not terribly elegant, but it was patched it well enough for Higgs to travel 1500 miles or so home in it.

Millie was a lot of help with that mend!

Since the weather has been cold and damp here, I'm quite pleased with the other mend I recently completed. Back in May, Judy and I went to an outdoor rummage sale on a really cold and rainy morning. The weather probably influenced me to buy this Norwegian sweater. 

When I got home, I looked up the brand and discovered that you can still buy this exact same sweater. Of course a new one will set you back $220. Mine cost $1. But it had holes!

One should never let a hole or two (or five or six) get in the way of a lovely wool sweater. Some red cashmere scraps and a bit of embroidery thread to the rescue.

And wouldn’t you know it – I like it much better now than when it was just black and white!

Friday, October 25, 2019

Stepping Out

The ads on Craigslist for today’s sales were less than enticing. Which seems a bit odd, since the weather is terrific (chilly but sunny) and it's near the end of the month (which can trigger moving sales). But as I looked at the pictures of the offerings, I decided they were N.W.P.O.B. (you know: Not Worth Putting On a Bra). So I’m staying home and enjoying my thrifted Halloween décor 

and looking at an upcycled pair of shoes I completed recently.

You may recall I found several pairs of shoes for a buck each not long ago. When I got them home, I realized the Dansko oxfords were a bit worse for the wear. 

Probably worth a dollar, but definitely used. Some stitching was coming undone and I considered taking them to a shoe repair place. But I really couldn’t justify the cost. It's not like I don't have umpty other pairs of shoes and I can only wear one pair at a time. I could either let them go, or wear them coming apart (which looks pretty sloppy, though for shoes I wear to the dog park that’s not a big issue), or do something playful with them.

So yeah, I opted for playful!

Had a lot of fun going through my fabric stash and picking out possibilities, then deciding what would work where. 

I glued them on with Mod Podge for fabric, then gave them a couple of coats of polyurethane leftover from another project.

And I bet you can guess where I wore them the first time. Yup – wore them to go garaging a couple of weeks ago!

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