Sunday, December 10, 2017


We were SO excited to climb into KK’s car for a Friday of fun, after a two-week drought with no sales. And like many other shoppers this time of year, my attention was snagged by toys. Not, I'm afraid, for some well-behaved child looking forward to a visit from Santa (or Tata, as Judy’s 18-month-old granddaughter says). Nope, these were toys for me!

I realized as soon as we stopped at our first address that I had been here before, and I know when and what I bought. It was the house where I found a lovely handmade Velveteen Rabbit, which was exactly the same size as my new kitten, Millie!

That bunny makes a handy yardstick to show how much Millie has grown.

So even though the sale appeared to be a lot of junk strewn over the front yard, I approached with hope. There was so much to look at! I was still inspecting old Christmas wares when I saw what KK pulled out of a plastic garbage bag and I dropped everything and hurried over there.

A Steiff lion! And a big one. I didn’t even need to see the metal button in his ear to know what he was. KK reminded me that Steiffs are not particularly attractive to resell these days. I assured her he was for me! What self-respecting Steiff lover who is also a Leo would pass him up?

Then I looked further into that bag, and some other bags and boxes. Oh my. I actually had to make myself choose between all that was there! I asked the seller (who said that all this was coming out of his parents overflowing attic, and that he had no emotional attachment to any of it) for a price. Which ended up being ten bucks for the lion, a reclining Steiff tiger 

(there were several sizes of this guy available), 

and a Steiff tiger puppet, 

and the cutest Steiff donkey you’ve ever seen. 

He’s not quite as big as Millie, who was very interested in giving him a good sniff. 

There were also a number of dogs – this vintage painted felt pup reminds me of our ZoĆ« (and needs a bit of repair). 

The little made-in-Japan guy 

and the vintage Dakin cocker 

are mohair and probably date from the Fifties. 

(I do admit they might not be quite as cute as the dog KK met at one of our stops.)

So now I'm toting around a big lion, two tigers, a donkey and three dogs. Made it hard to check out all the other boxes and bags, but I managed to snag the missing Fischer Price guy from my three men in a tub toy 

and a quite wonderful handmade embroidered and cutwork tablecloth. 

I noticed it had been mended (which just says to me that someone loved this thing), 

and it turned out I needed to mend another hole as well, which didn't take long.

But you only see the patches if you go looking for them, and I love it.

The other sales that morning were anticlimactic after such a beginning, mostly estate sales with either uninteresting items or high prices, or both. But even though I spent only another $3.50, I was almost as happy as with my toys. One of my favorite nursery rhymes was always the “To market, to market to buy a fat pig” one…and there it was on a linen towel! 

And one of our last stops yielded some choice sewing notions, like some packs of rick rack, 

a fair amount of Stitch Witchery (fusible web that I always pick up when I find it, especially for a dime), disappearing basting thread, and That Purple Thang.

Most of you are probably saying, what the heck is That Purple Thang? Well, it's a little sewing/crafting tool that helps you turn corners and even out puckers and use the sewing machine without stitching through your index finger. I picked up this one because it was a dime and looked interesting. But it might be the deal of the day, since it not only retails for about five bucks, but has 4.5 stars on Amazon with over 700 user reviews.

Good grief, I wish I could get over 700 reviews on my books! Hmmm, maybe I could retitle them as That Purple Thang series? 

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

High Contrast

I knew from the addresses programmed into my GPS that we were going to experience a wide variety of residences on Friday. Our first two stops? The golf course/country club neighborhood, and then a mobile home park that has been around since the Fifties.

I probably felt just a leeeetle bit more at home at the second place!

The country club place was ginormous. Let’s put it this way: my house is big but it's built on two levels so it doesn’t seem overly large. That house was also on two levels…each one just a few hundred square feet smaller than my whole place. And only three bedrooms, so you can imagine the size of each. Here’s the foyer, which I'm sure is bigger than my master bedroom!

The floor covering in the kitchen at first glance appeared to be a classic black and white pattern, 

but each dark square had a rose imprinted in it.

Most of the items for sale were, as Judy put it, just not our taste. Especially in the man’s closet – I've never seen so many pastel silk sport coats in one place, and there were a number of silk shirts in wild prints. But I did grab this throw, 

because I noticed immediately it is 100% alpaca. 

An alpaca throw – how luxurious is that? I splurged ten bucks on it, and when I got home I looked up the brand. These things go for $200 to $500! I just love the natural colors.

I kept feeling splurgy, and succumbed to the charms of a Denby Arabesque teapot, cups and saucers.

On my last pass through the kitchen, I picked up a mystery item.

The lady running the sale and I both thought it might be something for brewing coffee, but after we got home, KK figured out its true purpose. It's a wine decanting funnel! Just what I needed!

On we went to the mobile home park, where the entire single-wide abode would have fit inside the foyer and living room at the other house. I didn’t find anything there; picture motorcycle riding leathers and DVDs of guy films. But KK possibly got the deal of the day – a late model Sodastream Jet for three bucks! Just the CO2 canister is worth ten times that amount.

We moved on to more contrast, a 1930’s house in the lovely older neighborhood where the governor’s mansion is located. The same folks had a sale a few months ago and told us they were going to retire to Mexico or Costa Rica or somewhere (my grasp of geography is surpassed only by my leaky memory). So this was the retirement sale, and since they used to be antique dealers we thought it could be interesting. Which it was, although they seemed to think they were still running an antique store, at least from the prices. Some of the items struck us a creepy, 

but there were cute things as well. 

Here’s a good example of both – we thought KK looked ravishing in this headdress, but the taxidermy battle to the death behind her…not so much.

I think they might not have been completely on the same page, since the husband was giving deals because they have to be out of the house by the end of the month, but the wife wasn’t budging on her prices very high prices. The only thing I bought was this, 

and the wife huffed that she didn’t know where her husband was getting his prices because she had been selling them for twice as much. (Couldn’t have sold many, there was an overflowing boxful.) Anyway, I think this is a guinea hen, made of a sturdy wire armature and rope and feathers. 

I just like her. I was thinking if I leave her outside she might grow moss and look cool in the yard. But then I was also thinking she might just disintegrate in the rain, so for now she’s hanging out on top of the coat closet with a vase of dried alliums.

I like the contrast of her texture against the smooth glass vase.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Getting Pokey

I've been known to say (probably too many times) that I don’t really care if I buy anything when we’re out garaging, I just like to poke through other people’s stuff. (When you were at a friend’s house as a kid weren’t you always curious what was hidden inside their drawers and cupboards? But of course you were far too polite to snoop around. I'm not the only one, am I?)

Part of the fun is, you never know just whose stuff you’ll get to poke around in. Last Thursday, KK and I had the interesting opportunity of doing just that…at a convent!

I got a notice from one of the estate sale sites about this sale, looked at about three of the pictures, and immediately sent the listing to my posse. KK emailed right back that yes, she wanted to go after looking at only three pictures. So we trundled up to Mt. Angel and joined the fairly long line to check it out. According to what I could glean from the ad, the nuns who live there sometimes inherit estates when relatives or other folks die, and stuff had been accumulating for a long time. It was time for a clean out. 

At the appointed hour the line began to move, but as we got near the steps up to the entry door it stopped again. We waited. Someone near us wondered if they were only letting in a certain number at a time, which seemed silly since the building was huge. But that’s exactly what they were doing. We stood in the rain for several more minutes, and when they finally let us in they told us we had to start upstairs because the downstairs rooms were too crowded. The first large room I saw downstairs had only two people in it so I ignored their instructions. (Ever the rebel, that’s me.) Room after room (it looked like these were classrooms at one time) filled with an odd assortment of the usual items you see at a church rummage sale mixed with old art projects, religious items, teaching supplies and more. One huge room had all kinds of furniture, including cabinets that looked like they used to be built in somewhere. One small room was lined with what looked like wooden Gothic windows; organ music was playing in there. Two or three small rooms had musical instruments, including a full size marimba I would love to have (if I had room and more money).

We wandered around for over an hour, picking up a few items. But when we went back downstairs we found an enormous line waiting to pay, since they only had one person taking money. We looked at each other and agreed that nothing we were holding was worth standing in line for an hour or more, so we abandoned everything and exited. And saw that there was still a line at least a block long waiting to get in!

Friday was more fruitful. Not only KK and Judy were with me, but my SIL Linda was down from Portland, and we had a blast. Found a few estate sales, a couple of moving sales. At the first estate sale I picked up another vase for the windowsill collection, 

a jar of sticky gel to keep vases on the windowsill 

(I really like my price better than the original!) 

and some glue tape to try out.

The two sales on the west side netted nothing (and one had a decidedly odd atmosphere, we all said it felt creepy). The moving sale up in Keizer was fun, a couple about our age downsizing and getting rid of what was left after moving. The vintage house had some vintage pieces still in it; I admired a terrific light fixture hanging from the ceiling and asked if there was any chance it was for sale. No such luck; they were taking it to the new place, because it had come from the guy’s parent’s house originally. He said they had a floor lamp that matches it, and he had hoped to find out what company made them, so when Antiques Roadshow was in Portland a while back, he took pictures up there. The lamp expert told him that he too had no idea of the maker and that he could probably look for two years and never find more info. I shared my belief that lamps are hard to research because there are just so darned many of them. A living room, for instance, will probably have only one sofa – but may well have several lamps. At that the guy started laughing and said that’s what the Antiques Roadshow guy had said!

I felt so smart.

Left their place with a fun toy I'll be sending to a friend 

(complete with washing and safety instructions!), 

a couple of embroidery scissors,

and a CD (the wife told me she’s a professional flutist). 

On my way out the door I spotted a nice end table underneath some other stuff 

and ended up paying $7 for it. Drexel Heritage, 

solid walnut, and even though it has an owie on top that I hope I can mitigate (bet someone got in trouble for that!) 

Millie really likes it.

Our last estate sale was over in Silverton, about 25 miles away. Further than we usually go, but it’s a lovely country drive and we had lunch in the cute little downtown. The place was pretty well picked over when we arrived; they said they sold 75% of the stock in the first three hours. But I still scored a few things – a heavy cast resin vase (I'm picturing it holding zinnias next summer) 

and a Barbara Weissman handwoven bag. 

In the back room where the lady must have sewn was something I had noticed in one of the pictures of the sale. See that vest hanging on the wall? 

I thought it looked pretty cool and was amazed that it was still there. Tried it on, and I'll have to move the single button for a better fit, but it is now mine! 

It's really an amazing item, pieced together of silk with all those curves and decorated with a variety of beading. Truly a piece of wearable art.

So all in all, a fun weekend of poking around. Fruitful Pokery – doesn’t that sound like a good name for a band?
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