Friday, May 31, 2013

Why I Still Yard Sale in the Rain

The girls and I had plans to go yard sale-ing last Saturday morning with my friend Heather and her daughter Grace. The forecast was not in our favor but I was able to find enough local listings in a concentrated area that said they were Rain or Shine. And one of them specifically mentioned a kitchen table for $25. Which is better than $650. So I had to at least check that out.

But before we even set out, Heather had a gift for me - the result of some literal digging for treasure. Back in the fall, she had discovered a some old glass bottles at the edge of her property and had given me one, promising there would be more where that came from in the spring. Sure enough! They're pretty amazing.

A little hot soapy water and a bottle brush and they'll be all sparkly and beautiful. There's Vaseline, Hires Root Beer syrup, Phillips Milk of Magnesium and Mason Jars just to name a few.

Thank you, Heather!

So off we went bright and early and bundled up. Grace had never been yard sale-ing before but she had her little purse full of change and a heart full of anticipation. I hoped it would be the first of many mother-daughter yard sale excursions for the five of us.

The first couple of sales were a bust for everyone and made me nervous about how the rest would be. But the last few sales redeemed the morning. Grace went home with a Hello Kitty (she and her mom are big fans) bike helmet and knee/elbow, a bunch of books and some toys that seemed to make her very happy. Heather, who has the same fondness for tchotchkes that I do, behaved herself quite nicely. She was really looking for some patio furniture but went home with only a few decorative plates. Even if we bought nothing, its always fun sifting through other people's junk!

Here's my loot from our cold and drizzly morning:

I did get one $0.50 little plate that had The Lord's Prayer on it. It's the size of a tea bag plate. I'm guessing it'll make it's home on a gallery wall eventually.

This big old frame was $5. I love the shape. The color. The imperfections. The size. Kids included in the pic for scale. ;)

My oldest insisted her 4-leaf clover get in the shot
The frame has much potential. I could fill it with chalkboard for a kitchen memo board or fill it with cork to display my kids' latest artwork. Or I'll get inspired to do something unique. I'll share here when I do.

This role of gingham wrapping paper was $0.25. Gingham is making a big comeback this season, right? Either way, I'm always a fan.

These leather binders were $1 for the pair.

These are perfect for a unit study I put together for my girls this year called "Who Am I." It's a mosh of all about where they live, their family tree, their body systems/senses, and who they are in Christ. We've been working on it all year and will continue through the summer and into next year too. We've been using some ugly red vinyl binders we already had to contain our paperwork. But since the finished product will really be a keepsake of sorts, I'm psyched to transfer the contents into their new larger, classy binders.

Speaking of keepsakes, I also found these two unused shadowbox frames for $5:

Which reminds me I also found this one at Salvation Army Thrift (Sally's) several weeks ago:

I like the linen background on that one and the ability to pin vs. glue.

I plan to paint all the shadowbox frames to match a few others I already have and group them together to display the 3D natural treasures the girls and I find and save. I've been dreaming about a funky little science museum of sorts on the walls of our soon-to-be homeschool room. We've got some boxes....somewhere.... containing random specimens of insect bodies, snake skins, lichen, pressed plants and flowers, nests, shells, etc. that we've collected in the past. I don't even remember what we've got. That's assuming they all survived moving and a year in storage. And if they didn't, at least we will have our newest collection of four, five, and six-leaved clovers the girls have found in our yard recently.

Moving right along....For $0.50 I snagged a bag of random buttons that will be used to make bracelets and will be stored in the likes of this or this. Here is a sample from the bag:

The only token prize my kids took home was this mini Spyrograph. 'Memba those???!!!

Only we got screwed on this one. It always falls of the track and never finishes a pattern nicely. Oh well. So in the end the girls really just ended up with a new set of $2 stencils. (Rip off.) Which, as it turns out, happen to come in handy for dressing up paper snowflakes with additional geometric patterns.

My final consolation prize for the day was a kitchen table. YAY!  Not that I ever needed one. When we moved I got rid of the hand-me-down table we'd been using all our married life and had belonged to my in-laws for probably 20 years prior. It served us just fine but I never loved it. And now their next hand-me down could be ours when they move across the driveway in a few months. But I've always had something different in mind. Gosh darn it, after almost 14 years of marriage I think I deserve to pick out the kitchen table I want! At a yard sale for goodness sake!

And I found it at the sale with the listing for a $25 table. Turns out this "yard sale" was actually a storage unit sale. (Who watches Storage Wars?!) I won't mention any locations or business names but I would never store anything in that location. The seller was puffing away on a cigarette in the hall where the rows of storage units were all open on top. She had to use a flashlight in her unit to show me her goods. And the entire building reeked of mildew.

Anyhoo, I looked at two of her $25 tables and decided they were not right for me. I was about to give up and go home when the seller's brother mentioned there was a third table. The seller hesitated and commented that she wasn't sure she was willing to let that one go yet. It was the one her kids grew up around. She'd gotten it at Pier 1 way back in the day and paid a lot of money for it. It was sentimental. Blah, blah, blah. Her brother, who was apparently the voice of reason, reminded her that she needed to clear out her unit by month-end. So she agreed to let me look at it.

At this point our four girls were bored to tears and begging to go back downstairs to the candy machine. Heather obliged while I decided to give this one last table a look. They took it out into the hall where I could actually see it. I got a little excited (on the inside).

It was just the shape and size I wanted. Check!
Solid wood. Check!
With some scratches and wear but it just needed a little TLC.

I told her I was interested (in an uninterested sort of way).

She told me to make an offer.

So I did.

With poker face on I made it clear I wouldn't pay more than for double what she was asking for the others because I really came to her sale looking for the $25 tables she advertised but recognized this was sentimental to her.

She accepted immediately.

What??? Aren't you going to haggle me??

I immediately kicked myself internally for not low-balling her. Apparently the table wasn't that sentimental. Oh well. No buyer remorse here. It certainly wasn't the gorgeous antique I saw a couple weeks ago, but then again it was 1/13th of the price!

(More on haggling and other expert yard sale-ing tips here.)

I didn't take a picture of my table with the legs off and crammed into the corner of our garage for now. But I did find this pic online which shows what it would look like post-TLC.

I'm not sure if I'll re-stain the whole thing or paint the bottom like these:

The fact that this table did not come with chairs is A-OK by me. Chairs are a dime a dozen at yard sales. I always ogle over chairs but never have a reason to by them. Now I do so I'll scoop up some I really love for super cheap. Maybe I'll find a set of four for the sides and another matching pair for the captain chairs. But I also love the look of six completely different chairs. For example...
If you're still with me after all that, can I ask for one more favor? Please don't forget to help me look for linens. Thanks!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Looking for Linens

So here's the deal. I've got a project I want to do and I'm hoping YOU can do a little treasure hunting for me to help me pull it off.

I want to make a custom shower curtain for my girls' bathroom. My inspiration comes from this Pin I stole from my friend Becky. It brings me to my happy place.

This is a bunting made from remnants of vintage needlework and ric-rac.  I love everything about it.
I'm not looking to make these exactly but these inspired an idea. I'm thinking of making a shower curtain that is a patchwork of sorts from a collection of vintage embroidered linens, and maybe pieces of 40s/50s era tablecloths as well (think along these lines):

So back to where you come in.

I'm not asking you to go to yard sales or thrift shops or flea markets or antique shops for me (though you can do that too if you like). I'm wondering if you might shop through yours, your moms, your aunts, or your grandmother's linens for some otherwise unused/unwanted vintage embroidered pieces or tablecloths. What's in your attics? Basements? Linen closets? The embroidery can be found on dresser scarves, doilies, tea towels, napkins or tablecloths. Stained items are fine as long as there are some clean spots I can cut out. Ideally I'm looking for lots of bright colors and flowers but I'd consider anything you can hunt down for me.

Got any goodies for me? You can contact me by leaving a comment on the blog or via Facebook if you'd like to make a donation of linens toward my project (or if you'd like to guide me through the sewing). :)

Thank you in advance for your help!

Monday, May 20, 2013

"Thoughts and Prayers"

Before I get started I need to throw out a disclaimer. This is not targeted at anyone in particular. Please don't take offense if this is relevant to you. Just think about it.

There's something that's been bugging me for a long time. I am always reminded of it during times like this when there is horrible tragedy around us. It's a cliché that sounds harmless and is used by so many in deep emotional sincerity to offer comfort to others during tragedies. Which is why I hate to even go there. But I just can't bite my lip any longer!  It's like fingernails down a chalkboard for me every time I see or hear someone say something along the lines of "my thoughts and prayers go out to them" or "my thoughts and prayers are with you."

AAAahhhh...NOOOOoooo! Don't say it!! It's NOT TRUE!

Stay with me.

Awful things are happening all around us to people we know and those we don't. We think about it. We think about those who are hurting. We feel terrible. We may even empathize with them. We want them to know we care. We want them to know we take a mental break out of our hectic lives to try to feel their pain, to be sad for them.  But our thoughts are not with them.  Am I splitting hairs? Maybe. 

I know first hand - it is comforting to be told people are thinking about you when you are going through a tough time.

"You're in my thoughts."
Yes, thank you.

"I'm thinking about you."
So nice. 

"My thoughts are with you."
Huh? No.

"My thoughts go out to them."
No they don't.

Our act of thinking good thoughts can't bring anyone any comfort. But expressing those thoughts directly to someone who is hurting can ease their pain and show our love. However, it's too easy to just tell someone we are thinking about them. The challenge is to go a step further and express those thoughts with ACTION! Instead of just telling of our empathetic thoughts, what if we mail out a check too? How about we send out an offer to help and follow up? (I say "we," meaning "me too!")

Now for the second part of those phrases that really make me wince - the prayers part. Oh, I cringe.

"Sending prayers your way."
Ummm...don't bother.

"My prayers go out to them."
No they don't.

Call me nuts but those phrases about one person's prayers going to another person or being with them worry me if people really think that's what happens. If you want your prayer to be effective in delivering comfort, than it should be spoken to the one and only, true, powerful, wise, loving God. The God who listens. The God who cares. The God for whom nothing is impossible. The God who gives comfort, and peace, and wisdom. And the prayers offered to Him go to....well.....Him. Not to the people being prayed for.  I'm definitely not splitting hairs here.

"I am asking God to give you peace."

"I will keep praying for God to comfort them."

Praying to God on their behalf is the best thing you can do for those suffering tragedy. God uses those prayers to administer His grace to them.  James 5:16 says, "The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective." James 4:2 says, "You do not have because you do not ask God." Hebrews 4:6 says, "Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need."

You can be a major source of encouragement to others if you let them know that you are praying for them (if that is in fact what you're doing). Better yet, if you have the opportunity, pray together with them!

So just something to think about.

In an attempt to offer comfort to others, do you throw around empty clichés? Do you blow ineffective wishful thoughts out into the universe? Do you send hollow prayers other people's way?


Do your empathetic thoughts lead you into actions of loving sacrifice for others? Are you praying to God on others' behalf and then letting them know?

My hope is that your expressions of love and care are always effective, always based on truth and the loving, powerful, mercy of God.

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Sunday, May 19, 2013

Above and Beyond

So Thursday night I was perusing through some estate sale listings and came across these photos of a big antique oak farm table.

It was love at first sight. That's exactly what I want for my dining room. I decided right then and there I'd have to check this sale out. Turns out it was a three day sale run by Above and Beyond Estate Sales. I wanted a chance at that table, so bright and early Friday morning I headed out with my mother-in-law and my youngest for a little treasure hunting.

There were cars lining the street as we neared the house. Uh oh. We ended up being #55 and #56 in line but they were already calling in those with numbers in the 30s. The line moved fairly quickly but almost everyone on their way out was empty handed and complaining about how outrageous the prices were. I got the feeling that the table wasn't exactly going to be a good deal if it was still available.  Then I heard a woman in front of me asking the woman working at the door - "Do you know if the farm table is sold yet?" ( I got nervous.) "No, I don't think so." (Phew. But she was still ahead of me in line.) "How much is it?" (Hold my breath.) "Oh, I'm not sure but its up there. I want to say around $800 but I'm not sure."

YUH??! That's insanity. This is an estate sale, not an antique shop. I get it, its the first day. But come on now. Clearly all the shoppers were irritated at the prices that were way above and beyond what is typically expected at estate sales. Explains the company name.

Well, we'd come that far so we still had to check it out. It would be interesting if nothing else. And it was. Turns out the table was actually $650. Not exactly in my budget!

Here are some pics from the online listing of some other items that would have tempted me if the prices were not ridiculous. Like these $20 silhouettes. Just one or two more for my girls shared room would be fun.

But I picked up my last estate sale silhouettes for $5. Not $20. And the other day I grabbed a couple of these adorable plates at Salvation Army for $0.99 each. Not $20.

I saw a woman walking out of the sale with this old wooden toolbox.

I'm curious what she paid. Probably more than the $5 I paid for my last one.

These wicker rockers were beautiful. Would love them on my front porch but I didn't even look at the price.

In the end we did walk out empty handed. Which is fine. It was worth a shot and always fun to poke around. But I'm not just any old treasure hunter. I'm a bargain hunter. Above and beyond are the types of treasures I expect to find at estate sales, not the prices.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Books, Blanket, Basket, Burlap & Buttons

This loot is at least a month old at this point, but IF I'm ever going to have time to blog about any of my found treasures these days, that's usually how its going to be. Late if at all.

So hubby, kids and I all headed out one Saturday morning when one estate sale promised a whole room full of old books for $1 each. We didn't make many stops, but remember this - quality is better than quantity. Here's our loot from that morning.

First, the $1 books.

I snagged this one because of the beautiful brown and aqua cover. This will be displayed somewhere in my house. When I get to do that.

This one also had a pretty binding, interesting content, and an author I recognized. It could settle in nicely among the likes of these.

This last one I got mostly because I liked the cover. I thought it could be fun to add to a winter mantel display or some other winter decorating.

Here are the books hubby snagged:

The book room was packed with people and it was hard to get close enough to reach the shelves, never mind browse the titles. And when you could, there was usually this pushy guy in the way that smelled like he hadn't showered in a few months. We were lucky we came out with any books even though the entire room was lined with full shelves.

At the same estate sale I snagged this super-fun granny-square afghan that I just love! I'm always drawn to these old crotched afghans even when they border on ugly but I thought I could totally pull this one off in the girls room. The black background and the bright colors will coordinate with the fabric I picked out for making valances, pillow cases and dust ruffles in their room and it will tie in their black rug.

Don't look too close or you'll notice some squares are actually navy!
Now don't laugh, this is my lame attempt to throw together a super-quick mood board with the fabrics I love and some of my recent finds. I didn't bother to carefully crop out the blue carpet in the background of some photos. I didn't add in anything else I already have to go in my room plan.  It is what it is...

Here's a $1 basket I got from the same sale that will most likely be used in organizing linen closets again.

It's old news that I love to snag wallpaper at yard sales because it has so many uses, including wrapping gifts, but sometimes I even find unopened rolls of wrapping paper and I loved this gray and white lace design that was dirt cheap.

This huge burlap coffee sack put me back $1:

There are all sorts of creative inspirations to use plain burlap or coffee sacks for. My favorite blogger ever - Funky Junk Donna - has several to share here. So I'll keep it on hand for when the "need" arises.
This old wooden tool box was mine for $5.

My original intention was to use this toolbox as another rustic planter, but then a few days after I bought it I stumbled across this picture posted by Trash Find Redesigned and I immediately changed my mind. I SO will try it as a towel bar! 
Last but not least, I scooped up this little card with three boring, large, dark, gray buttons:

I can't get enough of these big plain "backdrop buttons" on the cheap for making my button bracelets. Which I still haven't blogged about. And I so wish I had time to make more of. Maybe this summer...

Here's another shot of most of the loot from that morning, for scale:

And then, last but not least, the following afternoon I did a spur of the moment pull-over at a yard sale in town and paid $5 for another hardware organizer that I will again clean up and transform into a button organizer for me.

That's all folks.
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