Friday, December 25, 2020


Hello, hello! Yes, I'm still here! Sorry about the long silence, but let’s just go ahead and blame it on 2020 along with so much else, right?

Actually, besides the dearth of sales and my inclination to keep myself separate, safe and healthy, I had a second knee replacement surgery in early October that put me out of commission for a while. Happy to say it went great, possibly even better than the first, and it's absolutely wonderful to be able to walk around without pain. And huge thanks go to my friend Marcia, who one again helped me through those first difficult days after surgery when I was hurting, grumpy and drugged!

Then there were almost no sales to go to, and the couple of estate sales I tried (run by well-regarded companies) were taking so few precautions for their customers that I decided not to participate for a while. I'm talking big crowds inside the houses, staff not wearing masks…as much as I love thrifting, it's not worth dying for, right?

But it is time for the annual spreadsheet review! Smaller numbers this year, but still had fun and found some great stuff. I can hardly believe I only spent $132.65 for the whole year. Three years ago that number was just under $1200. I brought home 111 items with an estimated retail value of about $2200. I'm happy with that kind of return on investment!

Crafting and gardening supplies are almost tied for the areas I spent the most ($27+ each). Picked up a few tools and several big pots for the thungbergia vines I plant to grow next summer. 

And under crafting came the twenty bucks for beautiful yarns that would have set me back well over $200 in a shop.

The category in which I brought home the most number of items was Entertainment, which included two dozen magazines to while away all the time this year I wasn’t going out and about. Most of them were even free, so the two bucks spent for the rest was well worth it. And I was able to share the gardening magazines with friends, so even more bang for the buck.

Best return on investment once again was clothing. Only brought home 13 pieces for $9.25, but they would have set me back over $600 in a store. Let’s face it, you just can't beat fifty cent jeans and brand new shirts! And I had a lot of fun improving this linen Coldwater Creek jacket (narrowed the collar and shoulders, added contrasting accents, better buttons).

One of the upsides to reduced garaging was a drastic reduction in my ‘category of shame’ Donations – those things I bring home then decide not to keep. Only four this year!

I was recently reading my earlier year-end-roundup posts and came across this line:

No matter what else happens, I can always look back at my garaging record and say without doubt that it was a very good year!

And I have to say, even in notoriously-awful 2020 that still holds true. I'm safe and healthy, my wonderful pets are all well and making me laugh, and the garaging was fun and worthwhile – as is the spreadsheet I've maintained now for fifteen years. That's a lot of memories and personal history.

In fact, my garaging spreadsheet inspired me this year to create one for another endeavor – my yard makeover. I've never been successful in keeping a garden journal; I tried a few times but it never lasted. But this year I started listing tasks I needed to complete in a spreadsheet, with a column for completion date and notes on the project. Instantly I had a to-do list as well as a list of accomplishments. Then I added another page for bloom times, and another for expenses. I'm not sure I really wanted to know I've spent almost $130 on DIRT since I moved here a couple of years ago (I mean, dirt!). But that’s offset by seeing the great deals I've found on garden tools and pots by shopping on driveways. 

And just like the satisfaction I get from the garaging spreadsheet, I'm amazed to see that I planted 184 things in 2020! (Okay, yes, I had some fabulous help, especially from friends Lysa and Briana!) Some are in the ground, some were in pots and my window boxes, but (so far!) most are still alive.

The end of 2020 will not bring instant change to the troubles of the world, as much as we might want it to. But I feel hopeful for good things in 2021, and I know that for me, some will be very thrifty and fun to find. I hope that’s in your future, too! 

Saturday, August 22, 2020

She Made Me Go Back!

KK and I were planning to go to one rummage sale on Friday, then head ten miles north to the farm that was advertising you-pick tomatoes. After all, we wisely told each other, neither of us needs a single thing, in fact we need to get rid of stuff that we have, yada yada yada. But then I texted her early that morning, “Or we could go to that neighborhood sale where I got the great light fixture a couple of years ago and pick tomatoes another day; I'm good either way.”

Yes, we went to the neighborhood sale!

It quickly became apparent that participation on Friday was low; there were probably quite a few more sales on Saturday. But that was okay. After all neither of us needs a thing etc. And our very first stop was worth going: piles and piles of fifty cent clothing. I haven’t had a dig like that for ages. I spent three bucks and came home with three pairs of jeans, 

two long sleeve t-shirts, 

and a linen jacket from Coldwater Creek in a cheerful floral print. 

Even better, everything fits, and except for the jacket, I don't think any of it has been worn. It all still has that sizing smell. No fancy brands, but who cares?

We cruised for a while longer, then decided to hit the rummage sale on the West side of town, just down the street from the epic estate sale where we bought so much incredible clothing. (I’ll be wearing all that cashmere forever.) The church ladies had moved their annual sale out into their parking lot, and we were all masked and distancing. And so we happily rummaged. Racks of clothing (no thanks, just bought six things), piles of fabric (must…resist…more…fabric…), boxes of picture frames. I flipped through these, smiling over the framed needlepoint with a funny saying about housework. Tempting, but I resisted. I also resisted a curious glass object among the kitchen wares, but happily grabbed the medium-sized saucepan with lid I've been looking for. Each one I've seen for the past few months was over my price-flinch point. At one dollar, this one was meant to be mine. 

Another dollar brought home these two wonderful vintage but unused tea towels.

We grabbed Thai food at the food trucks and went back to my house to eat by the creek. My outdoor table is probably less than ten feet from the water, and the ducks provide a daily aquatic show, augmented by a pair of green herons, kingfishers, geese and more. (In fact, at my birthday dinner not long ago, also held on my deck, KK suddenly exclaimed and pointed – a hawk had just swooped down and grabbed a fish out of the water!) We chatted about the usual this and that, and I said something about the funny framed needlepoint that I kind of wished now I had bought.

“Let’s go back and you can get it,” she said. Nah, I said, I don’t need it…and so we got back into her car and drove back across the river and parked in the exact same spot in their parking lot, and I hurried over to the box of frames, now fearful it would be gone. But the garage sale gods were smiling upon me, it was still there, still sporting its 75 price tag. 

I grabbed it, then went to the kitchen wares. The mystery item remained; I showed it to KK who thought it might be a wine aerator. 

I decided if it was cheap enough I'd buy it. Along with this adorable bunny that would make an excellent soap dish (now that all I do is wash my hands multiple times a day). 

The church ladies had no idea about the mystery item and priced it at a quarter, and the cute bunny at fifty cents. Well within my splurge range.

Apparently KK was right, and this is to aerate red wine as you pour it from the bottle. At first I thought not because it did not go in the bottle of pinot noir sitting on my counter, but then I tried it in another wine bottle and it fit. I never knew that the interior diameter of all wine bottle necks was not equal, so for only twenty-five cents I have increased my fund of knowledge.

And that's a bargain any day of the week!


Saturday, July 25, 2020

The Fate of the T-Shirts

No garaging for me this weekend, alas. The sales advertised in Craigslist didn’t seem worth going out for, especially after last Friday’s adventure, when the only thing I brought home was an Ikea pants hanger from a free box. Hardly worth the gas!

So I decided to stay home and make masks. I had those two t-shirts from a couple of weeks ago to use for linings, and quite the stash of fabrics collected over the years. Plus, I was looking for mask patterns on Pinterest the other day and found one I just had to try, this veil style. Shout out to Jennifer Maker for the pattern. It was easy to make, her directions and pattern work well (there’s a youth size as well), and I’m finding this more comfortable to wear than other masks I've tried.

The hardest part was choosing fabrics! I often have to battle a feeling of “this is too good for me to use”, especially for something like a face mask that frankly I can hardly believe I have to wear in the first place (maybe you saw All This coming down the pike, but I sure didn’t!). But now it looks like we will be wearing them for possibly a long time to come, so I picked out three pieces from my stash, starting cutting up those tees, and voila.

 I realized after I'd finished sewing that it will be fun (well, as fun as anything to do with face masks is ever going to be) to coordinate them with my various eye glasses.

So now I'm all set for my next foray into public spaces. Have to buy groceries soon (it’s been three weeks; thank heavens you can freeze milk!), and who knows, maybe next week will bring better sales to check out.

Oh, let me finish with some good news: I found the free-box potholder that disappeared in the dryer! It had folded itself in half and was tucked just under the door in shadow so that it was hard to see. Hmmm, it's about the right size and shape, maybe I can add elastic on the sides and turn it into a mask...

Sunday, July 12, 2020

It's Not Just Socks!

The garaging momentum is really building. Last week, spent a buck and a half. This week we were up to $3.25! One way and another, All This has probably saved me quite a bit of money. I didn’t buy gas for two months, or go out to eat (still haven’t had any restaurant meals that cost more than four bucks…yay, Taco Bell takeout), and so far this year I've only spent $72 garaging. Last year this time that figure was $183, and two years ago it was over $550!

I was definitely on the prowl for some heavy cotton t-shirts to use for making masks; I've read they make a pretty good filter. So I was pleased to pull a bright green one out of a free box, and found a dark gray 50 one further down the road.

Green and gray turned out to be the day’s color scheme. For a quarter, I brought home a fun wine bottle stopper.

And maybe it can do double duty as a Christmas ornament?

Another free box yielded two quite nice potholders. I can always use another decent potholder.

It was a good day for free stuff. Found a favorite childhood book at my first stop.

 Had a nice chat with the lady there. I remembered being there at a previous sale, and even what I bought, and was able to tell her how much I've liked this little bowl.

Splurged a couple of bucks on a bunch o’ magazines, some gardening and sewing, and all of last year’s Martha Stewarts.

My last stop was another 25 buy – a dog shedding tool I decided to try. For that price, why not? Apparently the resident Australian shepherd had disliked it. Fannie was okay with it, and clearly it did some de-shedding.

But I still like my Furminator better. If you need a really good, sturdy dog grooming tool, it’s the one I’d recommend. But they don't end up on driveways – at driveway prices – very often. It's actually something I bought in a store, but only after a lady at a garage sale was telling me what a great tool it is. So it has garaging roots! I’ll be donating this new one to the humane society thrift store, so I’m sure it will get a good home.

As I left the sale, one of the ladies in charge was crossing the street to her house, and I admired some of her flowers, She asked if I knew the name of them, which I did (echinops, or globe thistle) and she was so happy to finally be able to recall the name that she cut some for me to bring home!

When I got home, I started a load of laundry that included the t-shirts and the potholders. And somewhere between the laundry basket of dirty clothes and the folding of clean things out of the dryer – the gray potholder disappeared! In the two–plus years I've been in this house, I don't think my dryer has eaten anything. Not a single sock has disappeared. And now it seems to have gobbled up a potholder. And dang it, I used the green one this morning, and it's a really good potholder! 

I'm still hopeful it will reappear as mysteriously as it left. Perhaps in the company of socks I never noticed were gone.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Happy Hopping

I'm happy to report that the garaging scene here in Salem is looking up. The proof? I managed to spend a whole $1.50 on Friday!

I was flying solo and promised myself that if I started to get too hot wearing a mask, I'd pack it in for the morning. This is definitely not an issue I've ever had in close to half a century of garaging! It turned out I had no problem getting through my list, which I had limited to the south part of town. Most of the sales again were meh, just nothing that needed to come home with me and not much conversation either. My first purchase was this book.

You can see its original bargain price, but that pales in comparison to the 50 that I paid! A couple of stops later I picked up a DVD for a buck.

Price-wise, the deal of the day had to be this stack of free magazines.

The real highlight of the morning was unexpected. I was heading toward the final stop on my GPS route, when I passed a house with something in the yard that made me turn around and go back for a better look.

Aren’t these hoops terrific? I've been trying to come up with some kind of inexpensive arch for a trellis over the wide double gates into my yard, so my first thought was maybe this was something I could copy. Turns out these are made from galvanized pipe, which is not something I have the wherewithal to bend. As I was about to return to my car, I noticed a woman in the back yard, so I called hello and she came out. (Holding a colander full of strawberries she had just picked!) We had a nice conversation and she showed me around her garden, including the flock of young chickens and the guinea pigs who live under the deck. She and her husband have spent the last 3 years turning the former lawn into a productive food and ornamental garden. They made the hoop trellises themselves, and she confirmed it was quite a lot of work. Those vines you see climbing up are hops vines, which also grow on their back fence.

It's always delightful to visit someone’s garden. But it was all I could do not to grab those fresh-picked strawberries and run!

Monday, June 22, 2020

So Where Is All That Decluttering?

Hello! Is everyone okay?? Hasn’t this been (and continuing to be) a strange and amazing time? KK and I actually got to go to some yard sales on Friday, and it struck me that I never heard the words coronavirus, Covid, or pandemic in any of my eavesdropping through the morning. Instead, folks around here are using the phrase “all this,” as in “Before all this we were planning to do such and such.” I wonder if it's that ancient tendency not to give power to something evil by speaking its name.

If that works, let’s all do it!

We’re fine at my house, and probably definitely experienced less disruption than many. There are advantages to being an introvert living alone. Though many of us introverts have discovered there is quite a difference between staying home because we want to – and staying home because we have to. Our greatest privation was the closing of our dog parks for several weeks; thank heavens for my biggish yard and dogs who like to retrieve balls.

My big stay-at-home focus has been the landscaping of my yard. It was pretty much a blank slate when I moved in. (Except for the ever-fertile weeds, goldurn ‘em.) 

I've been working on it (slowly, because I am an old lady) since I moved in, and am starting to see some results. 

One of the businesses that have remained open are plant nurseries, and I live in the Willamette Valley, which is nursery heaven. I read somewhere that we have more wholesale nurseries here than anywhere else in America, and the plants you buy wherever you are have a good chance of originating here. So, other than the grocery store and the pharmacy, nurseries have been just about the only place I've gone since March. Plus, friends like my gardening buddy Lysa have shared plants from their gardens. Anyone want to guess how many I've put into the dirt since mid-March?

At last count…148.

Some went into containers, like my new window boxes, and many more into the ground. 

Almost everything is thriving, and I sure hope that continues. I really don't want to plant anything over again!

While I've been working outside, it's my impression that many folks have been going through their homes for some serious decluttering. I’m not planning to go to any estate sales for the foreseeable future, since they are usually inside a house. But outdoor sales, bring ‘em on – with all that decluttering I've been thinking this will be a good garaging season.

So it was with high hopes that KK and I donned our masks and gloves and headed out into the sunshine Friday morning. And what did we find? How much did we spend???

Between us, we spent…fifty cents. Yup. At the last stop KK bought a fifty cent spatula. That was it. We went to 10 or so sales, and by and large what we saw was stuff that even I would likely throw away. And I don't throw away anything without thinking twice about it.

But what the heck. We got outside for a while, talked to a few people (from several feet away), and avoided adding any clutter to our own homes. I count that as a good day’s work…and there’s always the next time!

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