Happy April, everyone! I can’t believe I haven’t checked in since February. Apologies. Were I in Chicago, I would be muttering about how lucky my relatives and friends in Arkansas were, what with Spring appearing around these parts in mid-to-late March and firmly and undeniably planting itself by the beginning of April. However, now that I am actually IN Arkansas, I have to admit that that is not the case thus far. It has been cool and rainy, conditions that are far from conducive to kicking off yard sale season. I do not really feel like it has been Spring yet, despite the days here and there where the weather has winked at the mid-60s. Now, I know, I have no right to complain, because there are many parts of the country that are still seeing snow…and looking forward, I’m seeing temps in the 70s for the rest of the week. I think my body just gets to a point where it demands that it be Spring RIGHT NOW, and when the environment refuses to cooperate, I become sullen and pouty. As Shara pointed out to me not too long ago, the first day we see temperatures in the 80s, we’ll all be muttering about how hot it is. The weather has just been so dadgum weird lately. Justin and I have talked a lot about getting one of those storm shelters put in — they dig up the garage floor and drop a steel box in the ground. I panic at the first word of tornado season so it would probably be worth it just for the peace of mind of having some place to go when the weather gets touchy. But we’ve had a lot of other expenses pop up lately and that will have to wait for a while.
Okay, so that is one long paragraph about the WEATHER, a subject I’m sure we’re all thoroughly tired of talking and hearing about. Moving on!
Yard sales have been sloooooowly but surely starting to rear their heads…the first really great sale I went to was in Rogers, about a 30 minute drive from my house. I was there to pick up an engineering print I was having printed at the closest location of Staples. A word about that. I LOVE Staples engineering prints. SO economical and cool. My local Staples, however, leaves MUCH to be desired. I have had engineering prints printed five times there and Every. Single. Time. there has been something wrong with the order (once they gave me someone else’s print; three times, they re-sized my print despite my explicit instructions not to, and the fifth time, the most recent, I called to make sure they had my file in the system and to reiterate NOT to re-size it, and the knucklehead who answered the phone confirmed that they had the order EVEN THOUGH THEY DID NOT); three times, it require an extra trip BACK to the store, 30 minutes away. The fourth time, my husband checked the print while he was in the store and then had to wait a half hour for them to print it out the correct size. This last time, I called ahead to confirm they had received my upload and instructed them not to resize the print. The guy I talked to said he would absolutely make a note of that so I happily set off the next day to pick up my order, only to be told at about 11:00 am in the store that they had never received my upload. But what about the guy who I had spoken to the night before? I asked. Yeah, he’s not working today, they answered. So Justin drove home and uploaded the file and I took my two impatient twins to run a few other errands, one of which was this sale that I thought I would hit while I was in the area. When I got back, no progress had been made. How much time do you think you need to complete the order? I asked. Twenty minutes, they said. Fine, I said, I’ll give you forty, and took the kids to get something to eat. Come back, order not ready. Still downloading, they said. It’s a big file! they said. How much more time? I asked, through gritted teeth, as my three-year-olds, who had now been in a holding pattern for over two hours, approached total meltdown status. Thirty more minutes to download the file then another 15-20 to print it out, they said. At that point, I had to admit defeat — I had another errand to run back in Fayetteville and had already spent nearly three hours waiting for this print. I was FURIOUS. I called Justin on the way home and he called the store to speak to the manager (I would have happily done that but with two toddlers in the back seat, it’s difficult to have a professional phone call) and asked that the prints be put in the mail (gratis) as soon as they were finished this afternoon. You know, to a city two cities over, which, with their contract with UPS and all, would have cost NOTHING, and this manager had the NERVE to tell my husband that the postage would cost more than the actual order and therefore they would not be doing that. Your wife could have waited another half an hour, the manager told him. Justin began to protest that this was the FIFTH time we had trouble with an order AND THE MANAGER HUNG UP ON HIM. OMG YOU GUYS I need to stop and take some deep breaths because this is making me mad all over again. Justin calls me to tell me he’s been hung up on and five minutes later I get a call from said manager who claims that they got “cut off.” Really, I said, because he was pretty sure you hung up on him. No, she assures me, she did not, and what’s more, they’ve had a change of heart and would be putting my prints in the mail free of charge. So that’s my Staples story. I have not been back since, and I’m sure the lack of my little $3 orders have not exactly sent them into a whirlwind financial uncertainty, which probably has a lot to do with the cavalier attitude of management. Still, I don’t think corporate would be that happy knowing that we were treated that way…I started to make a phone call to them but by that point was tired of the anger and just let it go. I was once a big fan of their engineering prints but my love affair is over.
Geez, two long paragraphs and not a photo yet. Here are two things I got at that Rogers sale, where I spent $60 somehow (talk about starting the season off with a bang) but didn’t take photos of everything I got.
This is a cute old set of homemade drawers — the drawers are actually old fruit crates, one of which still has a label on the back.
One of my all-time favorite finds — this puppy oil painting is too cute.
My friend Laurie had a sale a couple of weekends ago — she has gotten out of the booth biz and has been slowly culling all of her merchandise. She’s had one other sale recently — it was amazing, so I wanted to be sure to hit this one as well. It did not disappoint.
She pulled this cute bird off of a vintage lamp. I am in the process of building him a cool base. The little cheese boxes will make ADORABLE storage opportunities in the craft room.
I had seen this project (scroll down to the bottom of the page) a week before and pinned it, so I was DEEEELIGHTED to find all of the materials I needed to give it a try at Laurie’s sale.
And I got this cute doll clothes trunk for just $5.
That same weekend I picked up another ladder…
Yikes, almost hard to see it among all that junk!
Another weekend, I hit another great sale in Springdale — it was in a warehouse, and as it turns out, it was a girl who has a booth in my flea market who was trying to downsize her merchandise a bit. She had a lot of fun stuff, including two mixing bowls that I was, of course, immediately drawn to.
I absolutely love this, have never seen anything like it. She also had this yellow ware bowl that was unpriced.
I brought it up to get a price and she asked me what I would offer her for it. I HATE that. I really do. I have no idea what I’m supposed to say. I hemmed and hawed and she asked me to just be honest and tell her how much it would cost if I found it at a flea market. She said, “just tell me the truth, and I promise I’ll give you a good deal.” This tickled me to death. I had never had anyone try this tack with me before! So I said between $20-$25 (it had several significant chips) which seemed to shock her (I don’t know how she has a booth and doesn’t know anything about mixing bowls, although, her specialty is 1950s-1970s clothing and jewelry and I certainly know nothing about those items) and she settled on $6, which, despite the chips, WAS a good deal. I asked her how she knew I was telling the truth and we ended up laughing about it — then we realized we were at the same flea market and I was REALLY glad I was honest with her. I also bought this from her, which, again, is one of my all-time favorite vintage buys:
She is a little planter/vase and was $7! Not a chip on her! Sigh.
The booth business is going…okay. February was pretty bad for all of use in the area because the snow caused the stores to have to be closed so often. That was probably the lowest check I have had in a while. March picked up a bit, but I’m still making just enough to fund my vintage shopping trips and maybe pay for the kids’ haircuts and buy them lunch out every now and then. I wish I could figure out how to step it up a notch and make more significant of an income off of what is, basically, my hobby. I fear that requires getting a bigger booth so that I can fit furniture into it, and that scares the crap out of me. I have also been mulling over the idea of getting a second booth at another location, here in Fayetteville, where my more mid-century, hipper items might sell for more because of the college kids. It’s hard to think about how I could do more than I am now, though, with these two kids underfoot…they’ll be starting a summer program two days a week for four hours a day in June, so I’ll have to see if I can get significantly more work done with that brief amount of time freed up somewhat.
When I visit my booth each week, the first thing I do is shop the booth directly behind me — it’s #2, for those of you who frequent Daisies and Olives. It’s run by the nicest couple who attend anywhere from 3-7 auctions a week and update their booth 2-3 times a week. Their prices are AMAZING. This is not the greatest picture but take a look at this amazing mid-century side table they had for $42:
I don’t know if you can tell how truly cool this thing was, but trust me, IT WAS COOL. And I’m not even a huge MCM fan. Last week, I picked up this framed photograph:
It’s pretty big, over two feet wide. I have since taken it apart, cleaned off the glass (it came completely clean and is lovely, wavy, bubbly old glass) and put it back together and hung it with my other group shots. It was $15. The frame alone is worth more than that! I love that booth. Visit it often! But don’t buy anything I may want.
At some point in the last month, I got this baby off of Craigslist for $50:
She is tall and thin, all the things I wish I could be. I just loved how she could fit just about anywhere. She was handmade by the man the woman had bought her house from. I think I’m going to paint her, change the hardware, give her some feet, and use her in our bedroom — there are cuphooks screwed into the top, the part with the glass doors, and I could display my vintage jewelry there and use the drawers for scarves and what not. Although I do not have that many scarves. Three, maybe. But I’m sure I can find SOMETHING to put in all those lovely drawers.
This is going to mean nothing to you, because I did not take before pictures, but I painted the frames on these prints I bought over a year ago and now they go perfectly on the new wall color in the kitchen/family room:
I always liked the prints but the original frames were not good — avocado green with gold trim. Would probably have looked lovely in a home in 1974. I love the paint color we went with, BTW — have I mentioned that? It’s Sherwin William’s Koi Pond.
Okay, now I’m just (w)racking my brain, trying to remember what else I need to tell you.
I’ve made a few new signs over the past month or so, but not many, since I haven’t wanted to venture out into the cold, cold garage. I am most proud of this one — I have three oars that I’ve been hanging on to, waiting for the right project.
I had to hand-letter the oar itself, so I was pretty pleased with myself. This one sold pretty quickly.
These two I’m kind of “meh” about, which seems to be the general public’s feeling toward them as well, as they’re still in the booth after three weeks on the sales floor.
Aaaaand one more project to leave you with…
I got this in Little Rock last summer for $2.50. Its only faults were a tear in the leather of the seat. I love its MCM sleek lines. I recovered the seat, even figuring out how to tuft it, and I think it’s quite cute. However, it’s been in the booth for two weeks now without a nibble, so I may be the only one who likes it.
Okay, that’s it for now. I promise that now that yard sale season is starting up, I’ll post more often…I’ll finally have something to write about again! Hope all is well and warming up in your neck of the woods!
Linking up to The Nifty Thrifty at A Living Space and Thriftasaurus at Sir-Thrift-A-Lot.
Hello, poor little neglected blog. I am so sorry I have not updated in so long. I am having a really hard time getting motivated to log in here, and I blame it fully and completely on this terrible, no-good winter we are ALL (with the exception of you lucky people in southern California) having. This has been a tough one, hasn’t it? My whole body has just felt tense against the cold for about four months now and I have had little-to-no impetus to get out in the garage and work with the jigsaw, or paint, or go through the massive pile of crap that’s out there to see what can go to the booth. I just want to huddle inside my house only there are these two demons in here with me, see, that create the opposite urge to flee no matter what the weather outside is. It’s quite a conundrum. We had a beautiful stretch of two to three days at the beginning of this week where temperatures were in the fifties and sixties and the change in my mood — in ALL of our moods, actually — was drastic and wonderful. We spent two full mornings outside, with the kids running around and me cleaning out my wood pile, cleaning and washing the car, and sorting through stuff in the garage that I forgot I had. I got two big projects done — remember those barn stools I got at auction many moons ago?
I had sanded down the tops during another freak warm snap we had some time back but had never moved past that stage. I decided to try and stain the top of the big one and paint the rest.
I feel a little “eh” about them. I do think the long would would be great at the end of the bed…the small one is an odd shape — almost square — that makes its utility kind of awkward. They’re up at the booth, taking a LOT of room, and I don’t think they sold this week as someone told me two days ago they saw them there. Business has been downright CRAPPY. I know I made rent this month, but it was touch and go there for a few days — I’ve never NOT made rent so worrying about it was pretty unsettling. I’m not counting on much of a check this month at all. This is my official one year marker — I started at this flea market in February of last year, and February was my worst month in that 12-month cycle, so it may just be a crappy month, period. But we’ve had several weeks of inclement weather and the store has been completely shut down for probably four or five days this month, so that adds to the lackluster sales. Of course there haven’t been any yard sales, very few estate sales, and I’m limiting my auction exposure due to my addiction issues (ahem) so I haven’t brought in a ton of new merchandise to take to the booth — which is good, because the garage is full. I have stuff under dropcloths out there that I’ve forgotten about. I’m going to take it easy on buying anything new for the next six weeks or so and see if I can’t clear out a lot of stuff that’s taking up so much room. Despite the gloomy weather, it should be warming soon, and I can get out there and paint what I need to and just get the projects done. It really starts to wear on you after a while, doesn’t it, having so much STUFF hanging around your neck and so many projects on your to-do list that have been there for…YEARS. I would like a cleaner slate going into yard sale season, you know what I mean?
Though I SAY I’m limiting my auction action, I did go to one a couple of weeks ago that looked promising. It was overcrowded and over-priced, yet I sat there for five hours because I had spotted a couple of things I couldn’t stop thinking about that I HAD to have. There’s that PROBLEM I mentioned. The last few times I’ve gone to auctions I’ve bought primarily for myself, not for the booth. A 50-50 ratio would even be okay, because then it’s like you’re funding your bad habit by buying some stuff that you’ll make a profit on by re-selling, but lately, everything has been for ME and has been way too expensive. Case in point, this set of bookends I couldn’t resist.
How adorable is this little guy? TOO ADORABLE IS WHAT. Which is why I found myself bidding him up to $27. Ridiculous. That is a fortune to me! I like my treasures cheap — a low price adds to the appeal and to the great story you can tell everyone.
The other thing I really wanted were two toy metal phones, which I have wanted for ages. And one was RED.
I love you, red phone. But I paid $14 for him and $14 for his little black companion and that just can’t happen. I needed to find him at some yard sale out in the country, buried in some box underneath a table, and when I pull him out the woman having the sale needed to say, “oh, you want that old thing? I was just going to throw him away, I didn’t think anyone would want that! How about a quarter?” And I would skip with him in my arms back to the car to tell everyone I know how little I paid for him. But no. Instead I sat in a chair for five hours and paid $28 for he and his friend. I’m grounded from auctions (you know, unless a REALLY REALLY good one comes along).
I have been working on prints, lately. I’m trying to get better at the chalkboard prints, but it’s slow going. I see so many of them online that are just gorgeous but those people obviously have a better grasp on Illustrator than I do. This one did pretty well in the booth — it sold within a day or two:
But there are two others that have been sitting down there for weeks and weeks now. TAKING UP ROOM. I just know that I could be SUCH a great graphic designer if only I had twelve hours a day to sit in front of the computer and monkey around. Is that too much to ask? Twelve hours a day? Sheesh. Here are a few more prints that I’ve been working on.
I’m kind of thinking of doing a whole series of these romantic book quotes. I especially love the Gone with the Wind print…that was my very favorite book for years and years and years. I just SWOONED over it. I read it in fifth grade, against the wishes of the school librarian, who let my frenemy (we were very, very competitive with each other) Kenny read it but not me — she said she thought Kenny was more mature and was more ready for the content of the book than I was. NO, IT WAS BECAUSE HE WAS A BOY. Man, did that chap my hide. I marched off to the city library and checked it out myself. I SHOWED HER.
Hm. What else can I tell you? During the warm snap, I got a bit done in the garage, and dug these framed prints out of a box to bring them inside. They were in the booth for months at a bargain basement price and never sold. I realized they were the perfect color for our kitchen, which was painted in December. So I hung those suckers up! Nothing like shopping out of your own garage.
They are pages from the most beautiful book called In and Out of the Garden by Sara Midda. If you ever find that book at a used book sale or thrift store, buy it. It has gorgeous illustrations.
I did get the kids out this week and hit four different thrift stores — I just needed a fix and hadn’t been in a while, so despite the fact that it was 20 degrees outside, we piled in the car and went on the hunt. Four thrift stores, and this is all I came home with:
This lovely, old picture frame (the glass is wavy with bubbles) for $4.50, which is going in the gallery wall in the living room, and
this pretty (but nothing fancy) little vintage bracelet for $4. Both items came from a thrift store in Springdale that I rarely go to (Shara, it’s the one on Robinson — is it Council for the Blind?) because their prices are outrageous. Anything that is even slightly old gets separated into their glass cases and marked at prices that I would gawk at in an antique store. I swear, they have quilts in there that have been there for a year now because they’re ripped and stained yet they are marked $85. The worst part is, they seem to get some really, really good stuff but they mark it way too far out of reasonable range. But, I wonder, are all thrift stores getting stuff this nice only I never see it because it’s priced low and so it flies off of their shelves? I miss the days when I had the luxury of visiting Chicago thrift stores two times a day. Oh, that was the life!
The only other thing I have to show you is the progress I’m making on my wooden dough bowls. These have been out in the garage for a long time, gasping for moisture.
Just looking at that picture makes me itch with dryness. I bought some Howard Cutting Board Oil and went to town on them. People, it is the most satisfying job I have ever done. I told Justin last night that I wish my job was oiling dry dough bowls. Like, that’s what I did for a living, day in and day out. For two days now I’ve sitting down, listening to my iPod (I’m listening to Five Days at Memorial, the story of the hospital in New Orleans where a doctor was accused of euthanasia during Hurricane Katrina. Riveting and emotionally draining. Really good book.) and just methodically oiling these bowls, again and again. Today I was getting impatient at the kids’ attempts to put off naptime — I wanted to shout, GO TO SLEEP SO I CAN OIL MY DOUGH BOWLS. It is just so satisfying. Look at them now!
And I’m not even finished. I want to oil them at least twice more tonight and then let them dry overnight so I can get them in the booth tomorrow. WHAT CAN I OIL NEXT?
BTW, isn’t that chair gorgeous? Have I ever told you guys that my grandpa MADE those chairs, with his own two hands? Does it not blow your mind to think of someone working with iron like that? I was so lucky to end up with two of these after my grandmother died. They are two of my most treasured possessions.
I hope you are all surviving the winter with your sanity intact. It’s just so, so awful but I promise you that Spring is right around the corner. We can make it. I know we can. Keep the faith.
Instagram has made me a terrible blogger. It’s just so easy to snap a picture with my phone and throw it up on Instagram with a pithy comment, and then I feel as though I’ve blogged about it, but I really haven’t. Also, as I tell Shara, I have imaginary conversations with you guys all the time in my head and end up feeling like I told you about the last awesome thing I bought/sold/found/left behind already. PLUS, it’s January, and cold, and grey, and there just haven’t been a whole ton of thrifting/yard sale opportunities lately. EXCUSES, EXCUSES.
And, actually, today was gloriously warm — nearing 70 degrees. Tomorrow, down to 22 degrees. I know better than to complain, though– my old employer, Chicago Public Schools, is closing the system down for an amazing third day this winter due to extreme cold temperatures. In the seven years I worked for them, the school system closed once, when we had nearly two feet of snow, and then for only one day. Polar Vortex, indeed. I hope that all of you are staying warm and have at least a day or two of respite as we have been having. Today I spray painted a few frames and finished a sign while I could get outside…and cajoled Twin A into posing with the finished product.
So…I’ve been getting a little too into the filters on Instagram. Forgive me my artistic license.
I’ve actually been getting a bit more crafty than usual these days. I think I showed you a photo of the pennants I was making from vintage Little Golden books — I kind of upped the ante on these by backing them with felt. I think it makes them much more durable and they also hang a lot more nicely. Of course, it takes a lot more time and costs a bit more, so I have to charge more for them, and I just don’t know if anyone is going to want to pay $16 for them — but it’s really not worth making them for any less than that.
And you can see in the photo the quilt pennants — I have strips of a crazy quilt I bought over the summer that I’m turning into banners as well. I’ve also been working on chalkboard prints — because I’m always coming in on the tail end of a trend. This is the first one I made, currently framed and in the booth so we’ll see…
This is a bunch of stuff I took up to the booth on Friday. I tried to pull all my pinks, reds, and frilly stuff to hint at Valentine’s Day. That’s the biggest chalkboard I’ve ever made, I think — I would be just as happy if it didn’t sell because it would be fun to keep for the kids. To the right of the picture you can see the pallet bookshelf I made.
What a comedy of errors this was. First of all, I bit off more than I could chew last week and was trying to juggle too many projects. The bookshelf was finished except for the bottom — I needed to screw a piece of wood into the bottom and then finish painting. Every piece of wood I had that fit perfectly cracked when I screwed it in. So I ended up using a super thick piece of wood that wasn’t quite as wide as the bottom, stripped the screws, banged them in anyway with a hammer, and then it was sitting a little off-kilter. All because I got into too big a hurry and didn’t think things through. It’s out in the garage waiting for me to try and figure out how to fix it. First of all, it’s really too heavy to be practical, unless you wanted it to sit on top of a dresser or something. Oh well. Not all experiments pan out, I guess!
I haven’t hit any great auctions lately, and thrift store shopping has been a bit dry, but here’s a quick run down on what I’ve picked up since we last talked.
Some nights (okay, a lot of nights) I sneak out when Justin gets home from work and go thrift store shopping. I know it’s probably not the best time to get the good stuff but it’s so peaceful at the stores and such a nice way to wind down from a stressful day (which most of them seem to be lately, as Emme is entering a stage that surpasses the Terrible Threes and zips straight to Demonic). One day last week I found the dog on the right at one thrift store, which totally made me happy, then the other four at the next thrift store I went to. I was going to offer them to my friend Kristie, who collects dogs, and then take whatever she doesn’t want to the booth, but I have fallen in love with them and am trying to decide whether to keep them or not if she doesn’t want them. I seem to be adopting more and more of her collections which is going to make me seem like a stalker pretty soon.
Last Saturday I went to an estate sale around 10:30, having slept in instead of getting up early. As anxious as I am for yard sale season to kick into gear, I’m dreading the return of those early mornings. I checked Craigslist and saw this estate sale, but it didn’t sound interesting enough to get up early…big mistake. BIG MISTAKE. The first thing I saw when I walked up to the door was an industrial file cabinet with about thirty little drawers with a sold sign on it. Turns out it sold for $30. There was enough good stuff left for me to know that there was probably a ton of great, old items I would have bought. I got some aprons for a quarter a piece, a few Christmas tablecloths for a couple of bucks, and this wedding dress from 1962 for $10. Once I figure out how to steam the netting it will photograph much better. It’s headed to Etsy. I also got a vintage cowgirl shirt with embroidered flowers on the back for $2…also Etsy bound.
I also got this hat for $3, one of the best hats I’ve ever bought. I just love it. That same day I stopped by the Salvation Army near my house and found two more hats for $2 each. I haven’t bought hats in forever.
A couple of Saturdays back, Kristie and I took the 45-minute drive to nearby Ft. Smith for a flea market that Kristie and Bailey used to go to on a semi-regular basis. I got another quilt top there for $15 that I am passionately in love with.
SO MANY wonderful old fabrics. I don’t know what I’ll do with it. Kristie once got a quote from a quilter for finishing up a quilt top and she said it was over $200…so that’s out. I am no where near patient enough to finish it by myself. I would love to make curtains for a nursery out of it but it’s not big enough to use it that way in the twins’ room. I did go to an antique mall not too long ago where the owner of a booth had lined her walls with quilt tops…probably I will just keep it and look at it every two days or so.
I also got a big piece of vintage fabric that looks and feels just like a feed sack. It was only $6 and I know I’ll be able to use it for something.
And this chalkware guy, who is big (around two feet high):
I think he’s ADORABLE but I seem to be the only one who loves him. I think he’s going in the twins’ room, unless they give him the same stink eye that everyone else seems to.
And finally, I painted the stool/ironing board/step ladder thingy I got at Potter’s House a while back. Remember this?
On one of the few warm days we’ve had in a while, I scrubbed this sucker down and painted it.
And then I fell in love with it, which is highly impractical, because I picked a color that was all wrong for any room in my house. It really is a handy thing to have around as it serves many purposes. I have it marked kind of high in the booth so I won’t feel bad if it sells, and I won’t feel bad if it doesn’t sell. You know that game, right?
Today, as promised, it’s freezing cold weather again…but I know Spring is right around the corner. Let’s try and keep the faith!
I had a flash of insight while sitting at my last auction. It was after 10 pm, I was alone, it was a Friday night, and I started wondering what in the heck was so fascinating about auctions that I was willing to spend so much time at one when I have so many other things that I should be doing…and all of a sudden, it hit me: bidding at auctions is like gambling.
First, a quick word about gambling: when my parents came to visit me in Chicago years and years ago, I was looking for something to entertain them with; there are several Riverboat casinos in the Chicago vicinity and, though no one in my family — beside my brother, who will sometimes play blackjack when he gets the opportunity — had ever been to a casino before, I thought it might be fun to give it a try. My Mom and I walked in, put our first quarters in a slot machine, and it was like a scene out of a cartoon: we had dollar signs instead of eyeballs. If we hadn’t been lucky enough to have Justin and my Dad with us, I’m not sure what might have happened. As it was, I spent all of the cash I had brought with me, visited the cash machine once, and Justin had to stop me from hitting it a second time after all that money was gone. It was crazy, and three hours later, I was standing out in the parking garage, blinking dazedly against the midday light, wondering what in the hell had come over me. My Mom and I realized that Tunica, Mississippi was around a three-hour car trip from where they lived in Little Rock and we usually would go and spend a night there when I came down to visit them from Chicago. After that first trip, we managed our money a lot more conservatively — we set a limit for ourselves and wouldn’t overspend that limit — but one time Mom won a ton of money on a slot machine (I want to say nearly $400) and she lost it all in the same machine. I was sitting next to her, telling her to cash out, cash out, cash out, but her glazed expression indicated that nothing was getting through to her. Afterward, she couldn’t believe she had done it. You just lose yourself in the lie that where there is $400, there is probably $400 more, just waiting to come to you, and this next quarter is going to be the one to do it. Whoops, not that quarter, but surely the one after it. Nope, this next one. Until you’re looking at a balance of $3.75.
It’s obvious that I have an addictive personality when it comes to gambling, and auctions play into that personality trait: you don’t know how much money you’ll need to spend, but if you spend enough, you might hit the jackpot. It’s competitive, you sometimes have to bluff (make the person bidding against you think you’ll have no problem bidding this mixing bowl up to $150 so they’d better just drop out now), and if you just commit to spending $2 more, you’ll get that print that you love so much…no? Okay, just $2 more, then…no? Well, what’s another $2? And: you usually walk out of the joint with the realization that you spent way more than you intended.
I’ve only been to two different auction houses in Northwest Arkansas (Shara’s been to way more and has her favorites…can’t wait to go to an auction with her) but they are both completely different, both in their merchandise and their employees. The clientele mostly overlaps, and a big percentage of the people who go know each other. Friday night I was at Ken’s Auction House, in Springdale, where I went about a month ago to an auction that was held right after the big snow we had. He had a TON of stuff, because he had to cancel two auctions due to the weather, and because it was a Sunday and not technically my day to venture off the reservation I was nervous about staying too long, so I ended up only buying a couple of small mixing bowls (they are beautiful and bargain priced at $5…not many people bid on mixing bowls at Ken’s). I had my eye on several things there that I reluctantly left behind because of my time constraints, but when I showed up on Friday night, everything I had eyeballed the last time was still there! Unlike Larry Williams, auctions at Ken’s don’t go on until all of the merchandise is gone: as one of his employees told me, he sells until he gets tired, then tells the people who are left to grab what they want off the shelf and bring it up to the table and he auctions those items off and then it’s over. At that point, you have to commit to a $5 opening bid, which, for most stuff, is fine, but you do miss out on that chance to get things for $1 or $2, which is sometimes a possibility. Friday night started out PACKED — I stood in the back for about an hour before climbing over some people to get to a seat in the middle of the back row.
If there’s anyone out there reading who thought that I didn’t come home with a mixing bowl or two…you have not been reading long enough. I am hoping this one will finance the other two I bought, which I would like to keep. It’s almost 12 inches in diameter and I paid $22 for it, which is a lot, I know, but I’m hoping I can sell it for a decent profit.
After I bought these, the very confused couple sitting next to me said “We just have to ask you what you’re going to do with those.” And I was like, “Hmmm….I’m not sure.” I checked Pinterest to see if there were any interesting ideas; looks like some people use clock casings for shadow boxes or dioramas but it’s hard to see what you’ve got inside of them because it’s so dark. I’m wondering if I can somehow use them as frames. You will be the first to know once I figure it out.
This is a pretty big mirror, over three feet, and is really cool…except it’s damaged up at the top. The crack is under the surface of the mirror, but definitely visible, which is why I only paid $5 for it. I’m wondering if I can fashion some kind of decorative accent out of one or two of my vintage millinery flowers to disguise the flaw? Would that look cheesy?
By about 10 pm, it had cleared out quite a bit, and around 10:45, he made the announcement to grab what you wanted. It’s so fun. For the most part, you’re pretty much assured of getting your item for less than $10, unless it’s a hotly contested item, which none of mine were. I picked up another cuckoo clock for $5. This one I MIGHT be able to part with after I paint it. Remember the last one?
Yeah, haven’t been able to let go of it. Here’s the new one.
Theeeeeeennnnn things got a little hairy. Ken was getting tired and instead of auctioning things off one at a time, he ended up putting about 12-14 items out on a table and doing “Choice of.” Now it got risky, because you didn’t know if people were going to go after your item or not. I’m a naturally paranoid person who thinks that everyone loves what I love, so I was particularly vulnerable to this little ploy, and I ended up paying $16 instead of holding out for $5 for Alice Blue Gown:
I’m not that sad about it. I really do love her. The frame itself is so beautiful, and I bought her to keep instead of re-selling her, so I’m not too upset.
I did okay on these two items, for which I bit my lip and waited until the bidding halted at $6:
(The one on the left came from All My Treasures yesterday — 75% off!)
I am in deep and abiding love with this little, 4 inch mixer.
Which brings me to my last mixing bowl purchase. There was a set of these that included one larger than the one I brought home (I’m sure at one point there was a smaller one but it was nowhere to be found). When I first brought it to the table to be auctioned off at the end of the night I had high hopes to get each of them for $5, but then Ken went to choice, and I knew I was screwed. Still, I bit my tongue and waited through two rounds and no one took either bowl. The third round was for $13, and even thought I thought the pair was worth $26, I just couldn’t commit to that price, and was relieved to see that a man I was familiar with had won the bidding. He is my imaginary friend, meaning I like him and smile and say hello every time I see him, but he generally doesn’t notice and wouldn’t know me from Adam. He’s nice but not overly friendly, not pushy at all, but has a very forthright way of bargaining at yard sales and estate sales that I admire. He’s got long hair and on Friday was wearing John Lennon glasses, further endearing himself to me. ANYWAY, he always goes for the mantique sort of item, so I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw it was he walking towards the table… UNTIL HE GRABBED THE LARGER OF THE TWO BLUE BOWLS. WHAT THE WHAT??? Not only are you going to take my bowl, but you’re going to split the set? OH NO HE DI’INT. You sir, are no longer my imaginary friend. When Ken asked if anyone wanted anything else from the table for $13, I MAY have pushed an old lady over to get to this bowl.
Isn’t it beautiful? You know what would make it prettier? IF THERE WERE TWO OF THEM. About ten minutes after this transaction, my imaginary friend said to me, “I think you got the better deal…when I took a closer look at mine, I saw it had a hairline crack.” Now was my perfect chance to offer him $13 for it but it didn’t even occur to me. And I don’t know where he sells, so I can’t even see if I can try and find it. As I was leaving, he DID say, “Don’t I see you at yard sales sometimes?” And I said “Yes! The last sale I saw you at was the Hill Street Estate Sale!” And we reminisced about what a great sale that was. So now maybe he’ll at least say hi back the next time I see him!
There’s an auction on Monday night at the other auction house, and I will probably be there. I justify it by saying that there aren’t yard sales right now, and I need to get merchandise from somewhere, but there are two problems with this rationale: first, I am finding way more things that I want to keep for myself rather than re-sell, and second, I spend more money than I do at yard sales. Like the milk glass vase up there: I don’t think I would have paid $5 for that at a yard sale — it would’ve seemed too expensive at that price. But in the context of the auction, it starts to sound like a bargain. If you try and visit my blog and it appears to have been shut down, it is because I have bankrupted myself and my family through this addiction.
BTW: I am now on Instagram. Shara told me a while ago how much fun it is but until two weeks ago, I had a flip phone that didn’t even have an internet connection…I am rather low-tech in the phone area. But Justin saved all gift cards for two years and had enough after Christmas to buy us both new iPhones. Never thought I would have a phone so fancy and the thing I was most excited about was the ability to Instagram. I’m prettyquirkyblog and you can click on the Instagram button to the right of this post to find me.
One last thing…I completely forgot to show you what Shara brought for the twins’ birthday. A gift so cute and clever that only Shara could have created it.
There are two of them, of course, and you can probably guess that the other one is holding a “Jack” banner. The kids were so impressed that these gorillas knew their names even before they met them. Trust Shara to bring a bit of vintage cleverness to the party!
Hope you are all staying warm. Seems like most of the country is layered in snow right now, and we’re no exception…flakes still coming down and school cancelled for tomorrow. Let’s all hold on to the hope of Spring, shall we?
Linking up with The Nifty Thrifty at A Living Space and Make it Pretty Monday at The Dedicated House.
Great merciful heavens, that was a tough couple of weeks we just went through. The kids turned 3 on December 16th, but one set of grandparents were out of town that weekend so we postponed the party until the 22nd…if you’ve been reading for a while, you’ll remember that we did the same thing last year because we had just moved to Arkansas the week before their birthday. I fear that we would be asking too much of our relatives if we try this a third year — after all, nobody has anything at all to do on December 22nd, right??? — not to mention driving ourselves to the loony bin…trying to throw a party for 40 on Sunday, then have the first family Christmas celebration on Monday, host Christmas Eve festivities at our house on Tuesday, then the third family celebration on Wednesday is not exactly an ideal time frame. We don’t get much time to enjoy things, and in case you did not know, having children opening gifts for four straight days is NEVER A GOOD IDEA. They woke up Thursday grouchy, spoiled, and disappointed that a pile of presents were not waiting for them anywhere.
But for all of my grouching and complaining: how lucky are we to be able to celebrate with so many family members? VERY LUCKY. And how lucky are we that so many family and friends are willing to give up two or more hours on the Sunday before Christmas to celebrate the twins’ birthdays? VERY LUCKY. This is the first year we’ve thrown a BIG party for them, so we kind of went overboard. I really wanted to rent a bouncy house but we had a cold-cold-cold snap the week of their party so I thought better of it…instead, we found a children’s performer who came, played her guitar, and led the littler kids in a sing-a-long.
In addition to grandparents and aunts and uncles, we invited all of my cousins and their kids who live in the Northwest Arkansas area, along with our very special friends like Kristie, Bailey, Beth, Shara, and Shara’s son, Christopher. So we had a house full. In the week before the party I went NUTS trying to get the house a little more put-together than it has been. We moved in in May, so you would think I would have gotten around to a couple of the projects I’ve had on my list for some time now…but you would be wrong. How is it we always end up working on things for the booth instead of for our own houses? If you have a booth or a store, I’ll bet you find yourself doing the same thing. Even though it nearly killed me to try and do all of that stuff in a week, I’m still glad I had a deadline that forced me to do it. We had the kitchen/family room painted, re-did all of the stuff that was above the kitchen cabinets, put together a gallery wall in the living room, painted the kids’ room, put together a gallery wall in their room. Next is putting up big-kid beds (KILL ME NOW) and then I’m going to finally get some pictures up of our house because, at last, I’m kind of proud of it.
I have some odds and ends to show you, because of course, I DID still manage to do a little thrift store shopping in middle of all of the madness.
The kids and I had to drive waaaaaaay up north to Rogers (about a thirty minute drive) because that’s the closest Staples location, and I used their Engineer Print service for another couple of projects I did two weeks ago (I’ll show you pictures when I get the house pictures taken. I just LOVE getting things blown up HUGE with that service). Since we were already in town, we OF COURSE stopped by the Salvation Army store. It’s huge, and pretty good, I just don’t get a chance to visit it very often because of the distance. I picked up all of these old-school light strings and bulbs for just under $10. The strings don’t work, which is perfect for me, because I have something in mind like this -- a Christmas sign that has a garland of big old bulbs hanging from it. The loose bulbs are to use on wreaths — I saw a vintage ornament wreath that used the old bulbs to plug some of the holes after all the ornaments had been glued on and it was adorable. I also think these bulbs look so cute just sitting in old mason jars. I’m stockpiling this stuff with an eye towards being more prepared for next year in the booth — seems that most people stop buying things to decorate for Christmas around the first of December. Before the first, my Christmas decor stuff was selling like hotcakes. After the first or so, sales ground to a halt. So I want to be ready to fully stock the booth from about mid-November until December…I’m aiming at at least two or three Christmas projects a month until next year. And these semi-old ornaments will be perfect for an ornament wreath:
At that same Sally, I got four stocking holders. I had been looking for some for our family, but they all seemed so light. I wanted some that would truly hold the stocking even after Santa had stuffed it full of goodies. By the way, no one ever told me that Santa spends almost as much stuffing the stocking as he does on all of the other presents combined. What the heck, man? Solution: SMALLER STOCKINGS.
These were $4.50 each.
I am just now remembering that I stopped by my local Salvation Army about a week-and-a-half ago — forgot to take any pictures in the rush of the madness that was going on then. I got some vintage ornaments, the most beautiful manger scene EVER for $3.50, a wooden manger with scalloped roof, and this tree skirt, which is the only thing out still (all other Christmas has been safely packed away in the attic):
We didn’t have a tree skirt, and when I went out to buy one, I was disappointed in the prices (thirty dollars???) and the styles (puffy white satin?????) so hadn’t pulled the trigger on a purchase…and then found this one for $4! POLKA DOTS!
Next year, I decided to hold off putting any of my really old ornaments on the tree, lest they end up with the same fate as my six lost glass ornaments from this year (sob). I found these (kind of cheesy) Christopher Radko Shiny Brites at a half-off sale and decided to grab three of them to at least lend the spirit of vintage to our next year’s tree.
When these wretched children of mine are 18, I suppose I will try to use the real thing again.
And one more thing I found pre-holidays…
How cool is this??? It was $4.99! In very nice shape. The wood is just bare, no finish on it whatsoever, so I’m thinking I should paint it? Chalk paint? Or bright red? Or what? Suggestions solicited. It will be a bit until it’s warm enough to paint it.
There is an auction tomorrow that I am kind of contemplating going to. I haven’t been to one in weeks and I’m kind of hankering for it…but I shouldn’t spend the money. Who knew throwing a kids’ birthday party was so expensive??? Guess I will wait until tomorrow and see. Part of me wants to get this garage completely cleaned out of merchandise before I buy anything else…so much JUNK out there right now.
Here’s wishing you and yours the HAPPIEST of New Year’s Eve celebrations and a happy and healthy year to come. I’m grateful and thankful for each and every one of you who takes the time to read my blog…you make collecting a whole lot more fun.