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?

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Lottery - Not!

The bird feeder looked brand new and was marked $5. Too rich for frugal me, so I asked if there was any chance she would take $3. Sure, she said, then had to add, “But that was an $80 bird feeder.”
We hear this sort of remark a lot (and have trained ourselves just to smile agreeably and not say “But this is a garage sale”). Back at the car, I reported to KK and Judy the supposed original price. We all rolled our eyes. Yeah, right, an eighty buck bird feeder.

Looked it up when I got home, and sure enough it was not an $80 feeder. Nope—it was only a $70 feeder. Seventy bucks for a bird feeder, yikes! I simultaneously had to shake my head over the idea of anyone spending that much, and feeling like I had won a prize in a lottery. I must admit it is one swell feeder, designed to thwart squirrels while still feeding a wide variety of birds. In fact, it's so swell that I had to search the Interwebs until I found an instructional video on how to fill it!

That particular estate sale was probably the best of the day. I also picked up a copper-topped vintage coffee carafe, 

an ergonomic pastry blender (your hand gets so, so exhausted making biscuits, right?) 

and a microwavable ice cream scoop. Since I spent $4 there and the feeder was $3…you get the picture.

I wasn’t sure if the carafe was like one I already had or if that was the one Millie broke. Turned out to be the former, but the other has a gold top instead of copper.

And that microwavable ice cream scoop, which I never would have bought if it had been more than a quarter, actually works great. You can dish out quite a few scoops before it cools off. Yes, of course I had to test it!

I had low expectations of the sale being held in a strip-mall storefront, but found three fifty DVDs there (Saving Grace is a huge favorite), 

plus a baggie of vintage spice shakers. 

Judy and I reminisced for quite a while about these, both of us remembering them from childhood but not that they were for all kinds of spices, not just salt and pepper.

They definitely looked better after cleaning!

Our final foray was a church rummage sale downtown that didn’t start until 1 p.m. This is one of the churches that hands you a big grocery bag to fill for five bucks, and the place was a zoo. They also have a ‘special’ room with items they deem more valuable, which is where I found another vase for my windowsill collection, with bubbles in the base. 

I was amused when the church ladies wrapped it up in a couple of pieces of tissue from a sewing pattern. They must have gotten a ton of those donated.

Also found a bear ornament.

No markings so I have no idea of the maker, but I love his sensitive little face; he feels like quite a nice piece. And even though he was deemed special, he was still only fifty cents!

My bag stuffing was purely practical. I needed some king size sheets, and sure enough found a fitted and flat, both in white and all cotton. Into the bag they went, along with a nice cotton rug 

and a queen-size duvet cover and two pillowcases 

that are destined to be slipcovers for the chair in our bedroom (the print goes well with our bedspread). 

I was thrilled to get it all for a fiver, especially since I was recently in an actual fabric store and was APPALLED at the prices. Holey moley. Fifteen bucks a yard for cotton quilting fabric? I really would have to win the lottery if I shopped there instead of in church basements!

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Jersey Girl

KK and I got all excited on Thursday when we saw an ad on Craigslist for an estate sale with tons of fabric. (There was also an ad that mentioned they were selling “cabnuts” but we skipped that one. I've seen lots of misspellings on Craigslist – and of course all those proclaiming a ‘hugh sale’ – but that’s the first time I've seen cabnuts.) 

We couldn’t go first thing in the morning, but as soon as we could we took a beautiful drive down River Road to the next little town over. I was especially eager because I need to make some curtains, and I need 11 yards of fabric. I knew finding something good in that large a quantity was a long shot…and I was right. In fact, I'm not sure there was even one full yard of anything. It had all belonged to a lady who made her living for many years as a seamstress, and seems to have kept every scrap. But it wasn’t a wasted trip – besides getting to try out an Italian restaurant we’d never been to, I came home with a pair of sharp scissors (KK got some Gingher thread snips), a fabric marker,

possibly the cutest apron ever (from the colors I'm guessing early 70s),

and half a yard of adorable flannel showing dachshunds doing things they love to do. (Yes, Diana, this is for you!)

Friday we started out at an estate sale three blocks from my house. I was a little surprised that the group waiting for the sale to open wasn’t bigger, but not surprised that I saw a number of familiar faces. Yes, there is a whole group of diehards here; some are dealers, some just like to poke through other people’s stuff like we do. Fortunately the dealers who were there were not the ones we avoid because of their rude behavior; I suspect those all went to the farm sale several towns away.

We spent some time in the huge walk-in closet among the vintage clothing. A trio of white-haired ladies arrived, exclaiming over the heavenly space in the closet. I think we all agreed that we could leave the clothes, but we’d all have loved to take that closet home! Saw the same ladies a couple of sales later and they greeted us like old friends.

I thought I'd be leaving empty handed because the prices were too high for me (there was a batik I loved but not the price tag) 
but then in the garage I picked up a couple of fifty-cent wine glasses. I really like this stemless one with the engraved circles.

Next sale was mostly baby stuff, but the highlights were the actual baby (her grandparents were having the sale, and grandpa was proudly showing her off; six months old and the most adorable drooly smile you’ve ever seen) and the next-door-neighbor’s gorgeous tree.

I think I mentioned last week we’re having a great fall for tree color. I would SO love to have a treehouse in a tree like this!

We scored once more at another estate sale. One of those where not everything has a price on it – and inevitably anything I liked was tagless. I gathered up a couple of CDs, 

three more wine glasses, 

and a little skier push puppet for KK like this one to make up for the skier silhouettes she missed last week. When I asked about prices they said two bucks for all of it, so hooray. 

Meanwhile, KK found something for me – a handmade porcelain bowl decorated with my Fannie dog!

Wish I knew who had made it. It's signed only with the letter “L” on the bottom (seems appropriate since Fannie’s original name was Lucy). But I'm sure it's her!

I noticed an over-priced vintage sewing machine in one room, so it wasn’t surprising to run across a pile of fabric. But I had to drop everything I was holding to check it out, since a sign said each piece was only a dollar, and on the top was a large piece of cream colored, heavy cotton.

I love the texture, and hoped there would be enough for those curtains I need to make. Alas, there is not, but I bought it anyway because it's such great fabric. Turned out there’s not as much yardage as I thought, only 3½ yards…but it is 104” wide! (For you non-fabric-folks, the usual widths are 45” or 54”.) Then I started looking at the other pieces in the pile. When I picked one up it was very heavy and supple, obviously expensive fabric. I picked out four pieces, 

and it wasn’t until I got home that I saw this tag on one:

All four are thick jersey knits of Pendleton wool! Which I believe they have not made for many years (thank heavens fabric doesn’t go bad). They range in width from 60 to 70”; three of the pieces are about 1½ yards, and the other is close to 4 yards. And heavy – that one alone is almost 5 pounds.

Who needs a gym? Lifting dollar pieces of fabric is so much more fun than lifting weights!
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