Category Archives: garage sale finds

Adventures in Garage Sale-ing

Open hatch of the Forester showing all the goodies we found.
Had to rearrange to get it all to fit.

Loryn here. Something rare happened this Saturday—with Kristin in town for the weekend, all four of the Crafty Sisters went garage sale-ing together. We always have a blast when we do, even if we don’t find lots of stuff. We did pretty good on this Saturday!

The big basket on the right is mine, and you’ll see it here on the blog soon. I also got a set of solid brass bathroom accessories (towel rings and toilet paper holder) for my done-in-a-couple-years bathroom remodel. Most of the stuff I bought was useful, but I did pick up a couple beautiful antique linens that were a quarter each, and a very inexpensive print.

Bag full of corks

We found two really good estate sale/antique sales yesterday. The second one had this giant bag full of wine corks. This is right up Cheri’s alley, and it went something like this:

Loryn: “Hey Cheri! There’s a huge bag of corks over here!”

Cheri (from across the yard): “Oh no! Don’t let me near it! Stop me from buying them!”

Loryn: Turns back.

Cheri: Three seconds later is filling her arms with corks!

She has a really cool idea for them, which you may see on the blog later.

At the first sale, mom (Lynne) spotted the weird find of the day:

We think this is a 1970s running belt. It’s white vinyl, with turn signals and front and back lights, plus a switch. Can’t you picture this with short shorts and knee-high tube socks? Stylin’!

Kristin here: I love going to garage sales when I am in Logansport. The sales in Bloomington are no fun at all. The population there is so transient, that if you are looking to stock a new apartment, you will have excellent luck, but for anyone looking for those unique and fabulous “Just Gotta Have It” finds, you will find that you just used a lot of gas for nothing.

I don’t usually find the specific items I had in mind while out hunting, but there are always things that I need (or that I really wanted, but didn’t know it). My purchases were not many, but I really needed them. The stack of straw mats in the photo are mine, as is the pressure washer. Crammed in the corner where you cannot see them are some nifty little scissors, a cherry pitter, a handle cover for my Calphalon skillet, a pair of tongs, and a cheese slicer.

The straw mats are for our parties. We have a lot of parties and get-togethers and have a tendency to use paper plates, which are great for clean-up, but sometimes hard on the users if they have a lot of food on their plates, hence the straw mats. The pressure washer is a Briggs & Stratton to replace our old one that broke two years ago. It was a beautiful purchase and involved some good bargaining skills. The little items were just for fun for the most part, although I have been looking for a handle cover for the skillet for quite some time. All-in-all, a very successful trip for me.

Bizarre Finds—I Dreamt of Genie

Cheri: After a less than satisfactory garage sale day, I was faced with an unusual dilemma, what was the most bizarre item I found? I puzzled over this for a few days, and eventually talked it over with Lynne. She felt that it should be the genie slippers. I was surprised that she felt they were bizarre, because I thought my purchase of them was perfectly logical. You see, I am a child of the 60s and 70s. I grew up on television, and besides  Bewitched, I Dream of Jeannie was one of my favorite shows. I remember deciding that I wanted to be a genie when I grew up. What an awesome profession it was. If I wanted something all I had to do was cross my arms and nod my head and “poof” there it was. I remember not being so fond of Major Nelson, he seemed really stupid for an astronaut, and really wasn’t very nice to Jeannie.

Anyway, I remember thinking, all I needed was the attire. My aunt had the genie slippers and, as far as I knew she was a genie too, I never asked. But I did know that they were too big for me. I am not sure what I was going to do about the rest of the outfit because I didn’t have harem pants or the midriff shirt, but in my mind, it was the shoes that were necessary. So many years later, I came across the genie shoes and I bought them. They ended up being too big, but that was okay, because they didn’t work. I guess the genie had been worn out of them.  At least I know now. And I can cross “Genie” off my list of what I want to be when I grow up.

Nostalgia Strikes: Weekly Reader Book Bag

Weekly Reader Book Bag
Third-grade status symbol, circa 1982

I had to have this the minute I spotted it at a big barn sale recently. I have no idea what I will do with it, but it was 10 cents. The minute I picked it up, I was transported back to elementary school. The Weekly Reader program was a big deal—not only did we get to get out of class, we got to buy books!

 I was obsessed with books even before I could read, and during the era of the
Weekly Reader bag, I was obsessed with Beverly Cleary. I remember buying my copy of Ramona and Her Mother at the Weekly Reader book fair, and I was in love the minute I read about Willa Jean’s teddy bear.
I read every Beverly Cleary book I could get my hands on over the next two years, but eventually I grew up and moved on. I forgot about Ramona for almost two decades. Then came September 11, 2001. The night the Twin Towers fell, I didn’t think I would ever be able to get the horror out of my head and sleep. I searched my bookshelves for something, anything, that would help me put it out of my head. There, tucked into the back of a shelf was my Weekly Reader copy of Ramona and Her Mother, and I started reading.
I loved the book just as much as I did in elementary school. It’s just as fresh and funny, and even more poignant. I laughed until I cried at Ramona’s carsick scene and felt just as bad as Beezus at her bad haircut. It was exactly the innocence that I needed that night, and I fell asleep knowing that there is good in the world, even when horrible things happen.
Every now and then, I pick up a book from my childhood. I have a 1977 Weekly Reader copy of The Mouse and the Motorcycle on my bookshelf now. It is simply impossible to be unhappy when you’re reading about a mouse who can drive.

Vintage Pegs, Let My Fingers Do the Walking

The bucket of pegs.
I want to run my fingers through them just looking at the picture.

Sometimes when you are at a garage sale, you will run across an item that is so cool that you know if you don’t buy it, you will spend the rest of your life regretting it. Okay, maybe not that long, but a long time.

Anyway, Lynne and I were at a garage sale last weekend and I ran across something that describes this scenario perfectly. The item I found was peg boards and pegs.

The boards are about 12×12 inches square. They look like actual pegboard and they have patterns that fit over them. A student is supposed to match the colored pegs to the pattern. They have always reminded me of a Lite Brite without the electricity.

The pegs come in all different colors, and they are about 2-3 inches long and they are made of wood. When you stick your hand in the container and wiggle your fingers, they make a really neat wooden sound. That may be the reason I like them so much.

I believe the board and pegs are about 30 to 40 years old and they just have that awesome vintage feel. The graphics on the back are very cool, so needless to say I bought them. I knew I could not take the stress of lifetime regret.

Since I picked them up, I have been running ideas though my head and this process has become a nice calming oasis in my otherwise hectic world. I think that I may try several ideas and then again, maybe, I might just hang out with the container of pegs and run my fingers through them. Ahhhh…so calming.


Space Invaders

Space Invader TV Tubes
The space invaders ready for a war of the worlds. Or maybe just a close encounter.

Space Invaders

Space Invader TV Tubes
The space invaders ready for a war of the worlds. Or maybe just a close encounter.

I pick up lots of small items at sales, and I have always had a pretty vivid imagination. I like to create creatures out of objects. The TV tubes are the perfect example. At one point you have just TV tubes, (which are really pretty amazing works of art by themselves), but if you put eyes on them, you give them a personality. And if you give the creatures a landscape, you have a whole story. It’s true, one picture is worth a thousand words.

TV tube robots
A really close encounter.


A Clothes Garage Sale Weekend

We had very nice weather for Garage Sales this weekend, and it was what I like to call a “clothes” day . Occasionally, we are able to go to Garage Sales and buy clothes that we might like. Clothes sales are really great if the items don’t go over one dollar. Twenty five cents is pretty great, that way if they don’t fit or you decide you don’t like them we don’t feel so bad putting them in the Goodwill bag.

Garage sale finds
Some of the clothes we found this past weekend.

So our first few sales this week were clothes sales. We eventually got down to the nitty gritty though. Estate sales (true estate sales) have got to be the very best sales ever. There is usually a bunch of junk mixed in with the nice items and truthfully, I love the junk. I really like it when someone pulls out a junk drawer and you get to go through it. It is always best to be cautious though. You never know what may be lurking in the drawer, ie, razor blades, nails, tacks. Anyway, I have certain items I like to pick up.

Lately, I have been drawn to old TV tubes, (they really do look neat, almost like little vintage robots). Dresser hardware or cabinet hardware is another item I try to pick up, but it does need to be vintage and have a cool patina. Keys, I pick up most keys that I find. I also like to pick up little pieces of old toys. If the item you find is really greasy or dirty you can put it in a mesh bag or a dishwasher basket and run it through the dishwasher and if it gets destroyed you just throw out the pieces.

Now, if I ever figure out what I am going to do with the things I pick up and collect, I will pass that on, but for now, they just sit in jars and I look at them and dream.


Pamphlets to the Past

One of the more interesting garage sale items I found this past weekend is a booklet titled Business Letters and How To Write Them printed originally as Business Executive’s Handbook in 1937. I love these vintage pamphlets. They are an intimate conversation with history. These authors are speaking to you in the same voice they spoke to their contemporaries. I can learn and marvel at the conventions and manners of the early 20th century without the distortions of nostalgia and history books.

I was drawn in first by the section on stilted business language. The authors advocate a clear, organized and cordial style rather than the use of a special “business” style which “involves the elimination of all friendly feeling from the letter.” I am going to post a partial list of their phrases to avoid and I am pleased to note that their opinions are still valid and still needed:

as per your instructions; attached please find; contents duly noted; regarding your communication; this letter is for the purpose of inquiring; please be advised that; and pursuant to

I recognize every one of these and I may admit to using one or two, but  I refuse to admit to ever using “pursuant to.”

The section on libelous letters is as useful today as the 1930’s. To quote the authors: “The law cannot prevent a person from writing anything he pleases, but it can and often does make him responsible for his statements.” This seems to be good advice today as the seeming anonymity of the internet pushes the boundaries of gossip versus libel. If you insist on commenting about your sister’s bad haircut in your blog, the odds are good that she will discover your perfidy.

In 1937, libel was “defined as a false and malicious publication which tends to injure the reputation of a living person or the memory of a deceased person, and to expose him to public hatred, contempt, or ridicule.”

However, there were some rules to be applied:

  • If a statement could be proved true it was not libel. If “the reputation of a living person or the memory of a deceased person” deserved to be “exposed to public hatred, contempt” and ridicule, lawsuits were dismissed.
  • Also, “a libelous letter or comment must be communicated to a third party to be actionable.” It has to be read by someone other than the person defamed. Calling your sister ‘a dirty dog’ in the kitchen is not libel unless your mother was there too. This makes a lot of sense as having lawyers in the middle of you and your spouse’s private disputes would be costly as well as awkward.

1937 was the middle of the Great Depression and most of the libelous acts mentioned have to do with bankruptcy, insolvency and dereliction of duties. I suppose that it is libelous to say that corporate CEO’s are ‘dirty dogs’ who cannot be bothered with the ethics of business or concern for the future of their companies, but we can comment on the excesses of their salaries in comparison to our own. As the salaries are well documented and how dirty CEO’s are would depend on how many showers they take in a week.

The rest of the booklet is the standard stuff that we learned in typing class (when there were typewriters–aren’t you glad those clunky things are gone? And those erasers?) about letterheads, datelines, proper forms of address and the complimentary close.  (“I am dear Mr. President, Faithfully yours…” Not quite how we word missives to our elected officials, now huh?)

To me the best part of the booklet was the section called the Dictionary of Correct Usage. One of my pet peeves is the use of “bear” and “bare.” Bare witness has a totally different meaning than bear witness. I keep them straight with this sentence; I don’t know how many times I have had to bear the sight of bare bums when someone wearing low rider jeans leans over. Here is one excerpt from the Dictionary of Correct Usage and my own sentence clarifying it:

accept, except. ACCEPT means to receive with approval, reply to affirmatively, agree to; EXCEPT means to exclude, make an exception to.

I accept your offer to help me with grammar and semantics with the bad grace you would expect. I except your mother from any horribleness resulting from my bad attitude.

Really, people are bemoaning the loss of writing due to the influence of computers and texting and smart phones, but I think people are writing more than they ever have since there is such an eager and vast audience out there waiting to be entertained. At least someone out there in the ether will agree with what you say and even make the same writing errors you do.


Lanterns and Fortunes and Dragons, Oh My!

McDonald's Special Promotion
Lanterns, banners, dragons and even uniforms from McDonald's sauces promotion.

















Another weekend has come and gone. It was over way too quickly. But, Lynne and I hit some interesting garage sales this weekend. If the sales don’t seem to be going very well, I have a game I like to play. I try to find the item that the seller puts out and says, “Go ahead, put it out, someone will buy it”.

To me a garage sale is a safari, or a scavenger hunt. My mind is going a hundred miles a minute trying to figure out what I will do with the item I just picked up, how does it fit in with what I have?  Do I have any idea what I may use if for? Garage sales are not for the weak willed.  A lot of thought goes in to any object you pick up, often, it is exhausting. After a summer of sales, I am usually glad to see them end and give myself a rest, and then, after a few weeks I am back to craving sales again.

Each week I would like to document the strangest, oddest, or neatest item we have found at a sale. The one for this week is a real doozy. After a bit of research I found out that in 1986 McDonalds had a promotion on their McNugget sauces. The sauces were Teriyaki, Sweet and Sour and Hot mustard. The nuggets included a carry out box and chopsticks and even a fortune cookie. For some reason, I do not recall this, as I really am a McDonalds Freak. Anyway, at a local sale, I found 4 oriental uniform shirts, 2 large paper dragons, 4 oriental hats, 2 banners and 10 paper Japanese Lanterns. The lanterns were what really sold me.

One of my boys promptly confiscated a dragon and put it on his ceiling in his room, and it looks really good.  As for the rest of the items, I think I will use the lanterns in my room, and I will probably keep the rest packed, until I decide if I can sell it or hang on to it for posterity.  After all, they really don’t take up a lot of space. (Keep telling yourself that Cheri).


No Crying Over Spilt Milk!

My best garage sale find.

My Fisher Price lunchbox
My Fisher Price lunchbox

My most fantastical garage sale find ever has got to be the small lunchbox barn that I found at a church rummage sale.This small little lunchbox offered me a chance to relive my youth and feel vindicated all at once. Double whammy.

I was rummaging in boxes when I spied something that looked a little familiar. As I picked it up things went swoosh. I’d swear it really was a swoosh. I was taken back to the kitchen of our house where we lived when I was  4, holding a toy lunchbox that looked like a little barn. It had the usual wonderful decals that marked it as Fisher Price, it was red and it had a little handle to carry it and inside of the top lid was a play thermos that looked like a silo. It was just too utterly awesome.

The first thing I did was take the thermos/silo out and fill it with milk, and put it back under its little hanger in the lid. I proceeded to go to imaginary work, on an imaginary construction site, until imaginary lunch. I picked up my little lunchbox and opened it. Was I ever in for a shock. My thermos/silo had become a gooey mess, the milk had leaked everywhere and I remember thinking in my little brain, “what did I do”? Things get a little sketchy after that, the silo was thrown out and milk had gotten on the decals.

As I flashed back to the present, (swoosh again) I picked it up and held my breath, I slowly opened it. Nope, nothing. I breathed a sigh of relief and silently forgave myself and every other kid who been silly enough to think they could keep milk in a cardboard silo. Needless to say, I snatched it up, and it reminds me of the simplicity of being a kid because seriously, if it looks like a thermos, It ought to be able to be used as a thermos.

Regular lunchbox versus FP lunchbox
Regular lunchbox versus FP lunchbox
No crying over spilt milk!
No crying over spilt milk!