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!

Monday, January 22, 2018


We were in the back hallway of a house having an estate sale Friday when KK saw someone who looked familiar.

“Are you Bo’s mom?” she asked, and the woman said yes. “I’ve seen you at the dog park,” KK went on. “I go there with my dog Willow? That Bo is just the cutest little thing.”

The woman looked a bit confused. KK went on talking about the dog park, until the lady interrupted her, laughing. “Actually, my dog’s name is Charlie Brown. Usually my husband takes him to the dog park but sometimes I do. But the reason I said yes was, my son is named Bo!” We all cracked up over the coincidence. I mean, what are the odds?

That was the sale where I spent the most money on Friday—a buck and a half. For which I got an unopened can of tahini and two fancy jars of jam.

It was not a big spending day! My only other purchases were for danglies to put on textile necklaces—a bracelet

and a couple of bobeches (bobeche? aka candle wax drip catchers) with nice beads.

KK’s big splurge was two bucks for a large sheet of high-quality plywood for a future painting. Which came from a sale where we saw something surprising...KK’s truck again! And this time we got to meet that other KK. Who evidently is another thrifter, so we will probably keep running into her and her unusual vehicle.

Turns out that it's not a golf cart at all. It's a one seat, three-wheeled vehicle made for use as a meter-maid cart. She pointed out to us how strongly it’s built, with roll bars built into the chassis all around. I believe it is one of these Westward Interceptors. She bought it at a police auction in Seattle.

Reportedly it is street legal and will do up to 60 MPH. “But the only time I tried that,” said the other KK, “it was pretty scary. With just one front wheel it wouldn’t take much to tip over at that speed.”

She seems to be making good thrifting use of her diminutive steed. There was an 8 foot long board sticking out of the off-side window!

Some of you may remember my big splurge from a few weeks ago on a 100% alpaca throw. Ten bucks is definitely a lot for me to spend, but these babies cost hundreds of dollars if you buy them in a store, and it’s quite luscious. Turns out I'm not the only one who thinks so—our ZoĆ« has discovered that the best place to spend the night is curled up in alpaca.

Isn’t this the epitome of why we thrift? I'd be terrified to spend hundreds on pretty much anything, afraid of ruining it and wasting all that money. But by spending a few hours shopping on driveways, Zozo and I can both wallow in luxury!

Monday, January 15, 2018

KK’s Surprise

Did you see that golf cart?” I said, as KK made a U-turn so she could park near the estate sale.

“No, what about it?”

I led her to the back of the small vehicle parked in front of the house with the sale.

“Isn’t that nice,” said KK. “Someone brought me a truck!”

Which was about the most exciting thing we saw all morning. Three estate sales: first one was in the country club neighborhood down by the river. Overpriced and nothing either of us wanted. Then the one with the cart, then one on the east side that was also overpriced and had nothing I wanted.

I did manage to spend a quarter, on a little music box that has seen better days. It didn’t turn and the figures were all loose, but it was a quarter – and a challenge. I wanted to see if I could make it go.

I did this once before, with the wonderful vintage Steinbach piece featuring woodcutter elves playing the zither and doing the foot slapping dance. That one was stuck, stuck, stuck and took quite a bit of tinkering. This one was less stuck than simply broken – two of the three figures were broken off under the platform, and the tree was no longer anchored.

I worked on it for an hour or so. Took a while just to figure out what the problems were. Then several more minutes to heat up the hot glue gun! Yes, I may be retired and no longer a children’s librarian, but I still rock that hot glue gun. 

I got all the pieces back in place and the music mechanism going. Originally the figures turned as well as going around the tree, but only the unbroken one still does that. But hey, it plays! Okay, not terribly well or for very long, but what do you want for a quarter? I figure the figures are not of children holding those green apples, but rather of three little old ladies who see no need to go rushing around that tree.

The box is now among my Funny Little People collection where it looks quite at home.

We passed the Goodwill bins on the way home, and I had better luck there. Found the king size sheet I was needing (and hopefully will be able to remove the rest of the infernal smell of &(*#^&!$%@ dryer sheets after a few more washings) (don’t get me started on those things), as well as some art. Isn’t this print adorable?

Apparently the artist, John Knowles Hare, did a lot of magazine covers and advertising work back around the 1920s. This print was tucked inside a vintage picture book and is in pretty good shape. I've added a frame for it to my search list.

I also brought home two of the vintage picture books, oversized and printed on that heavy paper that feels almost like linen. I may frame some of the pages from Baby Animals.

And I have a plan for the Sleepy Time Book. 

I've been wanting a long runner or some such for the wall over my king-size bed. I'm going to stitch some of these pages in a row to black cloth and hang it there. Easier than making a quilt! And lest you be fretting over my dismantling of books, I made sure that these are not rare or in perfect condition. They’ll get a lot more love and attention on my walls than in the Goodwill bins, for sure!

I also picked up a big piece of tulle at the bins, where you pay by the pound. Exactly the place you want to buy diaphanous fabric - yards and yards for pretty much nothing. A tiny bit has already been put to use in my latest project. Many years ago I picked up a fused glass bunny pin (from a yard sale, natch) that I love but rarely wear. So I decided to make him a series of fabric backdrops so I can wear him as a necklace, and finished the first one yesterday. The tulle became his wings.

Let’s fly away! (Bunnies have the best ideas, don’t they?)

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