Monday, January 31, 2011

A Great Offer from 'Just Something I Made'

Cathe Holden at 'Just Something I Made' has created some lovely, vintage-look round labels that are being offered as a free download by JSIM and World Label. There are so many uses for these labels -- her blog points out just a few. Check out Cathe's blog post, download the labels and start having fun!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Just One More Day!

My friend, Bargain Hunter, and I get to start setting up our booth at the antiques mall on Tuesday -- just one day away! I spent the afternoon and early evening pricing and putting items in bins to take there and finally feel like I'm almost ready. It's pretty exciting (but scary, too)! We have plans to move all the shelves in and do some painting and touch-up on Tuesday and then spend the rest of the week putting everything in. Our goal is to be ready by Friday afternoon for the weekend shoppers.

Ha! Do you know the old adage that 'if you want to make God laugh, make plans'? Well, I just saw the weather report for this week! We're under a winter storm warning for Tuesday evening into Wednesday evening -- they're predicting 12-16" of snow to fall. So much for our lofty goals! We'll just have to trust that we can get it all done and hope for the best. Those are brave words from the one whose car got stuck in the driveway on Saturday in just 4" of snow. Bargain Hunter may have to come and get me if I'm going to help set up on Thursday...

Hopefully, anyway, I'll have some pictures to share by the end of the week!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Another Metal Chair

I picked up this little vanity chair at the sale yesterday -- the seat is all cracked, but other than that it's in good shape. You can usually pick up things like this at sales for a dollar or two -- they shouldn't be overlooked, because they are hidden treasures!

I'll paint it and replace the seat with some retro fabric -- maybe a pretty pastel floral barkcloth! I'll post pictures when it's finished.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

A Great Thursday Sale - Bittersweet

I went to a great sale today in a town about 40 miles away. There were lots of people there -- I got there an hour early and was #75. It was so crowded because two of the people in the family had been jazz musicians and there were 1000+ records and lots of musical instruments.

I found a treasure trove of wonderful stuff! Lots of pyrex, linens and some interesting and unusual things, too. It took three trips to the car to load it up. Some items are destined for the booth, some for Etsy and some, of course are going to stay here!

Now for the bittersweet. . .
For the second time in a month, I've ended up talking to a relative of the deceased person. This time, I was walking out and held the door for an elderly woman with a cane. She stopped me out on the sidewalk and told me that the lady who lived there (who'd passed away 2 years ago) was her first cousin and the lady's son had just passed away in the fall, which is why the sale was taking place. She seemed so sad about it all -- and had even bought one or two things. I couldn't believe that they'd make her pay for her cousins' stuff, but she didn't mind -- she was very gracious about it.

When I got home and was cleaning everything up, I started looking through the recipes in a really unusual recipe box I'd bought. After reading the recipes (and her added comments), and seeing her handwriting, I feel as though I got to know the lady who lived there -- she's now a real person to me. I know that she liked to bake and had a weakness for lemons and especially for lemon meringue pie. After buying her aprons and pyrex, I know which was her go-to apron and which casseroles were her favorites. I wish I could go back to that conversation on the sidewalk in the snow and ask that lady more about her cousin -- what she'd been like and how old she'd been. At the sale, a man came out and told the lady (as he was walking away) that he'd known the son and that he hated the home being 'ransacked'. She (being again, gracious) said that the owner and his mom (her cousin) wouldn't know and would no longer care, anyway.

I'd add something else to that: If no one who's related wanted the family's stuff, if it isn't sold or given away, it's thrown out (to end up in a landfill somewhere). When it's sold, the people who ultimately end up with it (from the estate sale or an antiques dealer) will like and appreciate it. They will care about it and enjoy it, giving those items -- whether they're records, pyrex bowls, a saxaphone or a recipe box -- new life! There's nothing wrong with that.

I know this has been a long and philosophical post, but sometimes it's just good to share!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Old Metal Chair

We're getting down to one week before we can get into the booth, so things are pretty busy! I'm painting the shelves that Bargain Hunter's husband built and am still pricing things and packing them up, too. There probably won't be many posts this week.

I keep looking at this chair that I brought in from the barn to get started on. It's an old metal chair like might have been kept in the kitchen for a child to sit on -- perhaps the precursor of the booster seat. I got it for a dollar or two because the seat is in such bad shape and the back rung is broken in half.I'm going to clean it up and make a padded seat covered in old barkcloth. I'll reinforce the back rung with a piece of metal on the inside, painted to match and attached with liquid nails. I'm not planning to repaint it, though -- I think the rest of the paint is okay.
I can hardly wait for the booth to open so I can get to this project! I'll post pictures when it's finished.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

How to Shop at Estate Sales

For the past year, I've been going to estate sales almost weekly with my friend, Bargain Hunter. Over that time, I've become (I hope) a more savvy, smarter shopper. I've also learned some some tips and tricks that I wish I could have found beforehand in a post on 'How to Shop at Estate Sales'. I'll share those tips now and, hopefully, they'll help you!

1. Research the sales. There are several good places to find local (and not-so-local) sales. One of my favorites is Once there, you can sign up for weekly email alerts or just keep checking back to see sales in your area. Many of these sale notices will have photos of items, as well the descriptions of what they have. At you can even 'watch' and map the sales you're interested in. is another site, though I don't think it's as user-friendly (the same sale will often be listed under multiple cities). Craigslist has estate listings, as well, but there you'll get listings for sales that homeowners call estate sales but are not much more than a few old clothes and vhs tapes on a card table. My friend and I have gone to quite a few of those from Craigslist and we always laugh about the typical listing description "50 years of accumulated stuff . . ." and add these words ". . . on 3 card tables in a garage"!

2. Start early!
Once you decide which sale is your 'A' sale, plan to get there early. Most of them will have dealers and early-birds lined up as much as an hour or two before to get 'street numbers'. Street numbers are just numbers given out on a first come-first serve basis before the sale opens. Since houses are often small, the first 20 or 25 people are the first ones in and everyone else waits outside (in order of their numbers).

3. Dress appropriately.
Speaking of waiting outside, if you live in a cold place, dress warmly! In the past 2 weeks we've had to stand in less-than-20 degree temps and snow for up to a half hour. You can also plan on getting dirty -- basements and attics can have decades of accumulated dust and grime.

4. Come prepared. You'll do better if you come armed with the following:
A flashlight (often, the houses, attics & basements are poorly lit)
A large shopping tote (to carry stuff from room to room)
Cash (some sale dealers won't take credit cards and some take no checks or checks
only for over a certain amount)
Hand sanitizer (you'll probably feel pretty grungy from the dust and dirt of digging
through treasure-troves of stuff

5. Inspect your items carefully.
More than once I've come home with something I thought was great, only to find a scratch, nick or stain that I hadn't noticed. If you find it there and you don't mind it, you won't be in for a bad surprise when you get it home.

6. Don't let dirt discourage you!
There are often real treasures hidden under a layer of dirt -- especially in the case of pottery and metal. Rust won't wash off, but grime will. It isn't a bad idea to take a damp cloth in a baggie to 'test' a spot and see if it will come clean.

7. Don't be in a hurry.
Most sales (especially in the morning of the first day) are really crowded and the lines to checkout are long. Expect to wait.

8. Don't be afraid to dicker.
Often only about 1/3 - 1/2 of the items in a sale will be priced. Some dealers post a general sign for common items (like linens or books) and will only price the larger or big-ticket items. It never hurts to ask if they can go a little lower or to group purchases ("If I take all 5 of these, could I have them for _____"). If there's no price marked, the dealer will give you a price. If it's too much for you, tell him so. Sometimes they'll come down to meet you somewhere and sometimes you'll just walk away.

9. Don't be ashamed to walk away from an item.
If the dealer's price is too high for you, don't be embarrassed about saying that you no longer want it and leaving it there at the checkout table. This happens all the time and they think nothing of it.

10. Go late.
If you don't get to a sale at the moment it begins, still go to it. Because everyone goes focusing on different items, something you really want might not be taken. I'm always surprised at things that are still available at sales I've gone to later in the day. In addition to that, dealers often will make better deals (or have big discounts) on the second or third day of the sale.

I hope these tips are helpful. I wish I'd seen a guide like this when I was starting out -- it would have saved me some 'life lessons'. Maybe the most important piece of advise, though, is to have fun! These sales can really be a blast -- you'll find unusual things, learn a little history and meet some really nice people who enjoy old stuff like you do. You'll probably even see some of the same people over and over and get to know them a little bit.

Happy sale-shopping!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Rescued Glove Box

Just a quick post -- my 'junk sister' Bargain Hunter and I hit lots of sales today, and I have lots of items to clean up!

Do you have a nice old piece that just has a few flaws? I had this old glove (or maybe hosiery) box that was stained on the lid. I didn't want to take it apart to wash the lid fabric -- it might shrink and not fit anymore, I wasn't sure I could stretch it properly, and I wasn't even sure the stains would come out.

So, I decided to embellish it with vintage yo-yos and trims, all strategically placed. I used buttons, a tiny crocheted flower and a paper millinery flower (cut off of its stem). Because I was using mixed media -- fabric, crochet yarn, plastic & paper, I used a super-sticky clear all-purpose craft glue. It has no odor, held immediately and was re-positionable for a short time, plus it won't harden and pop off like hot glue does.

The box still has a little staining and some imperfections, but now I won't mind displaying it. It's still 100% vintage, too!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

'Pressing' Memories

In preparation for the mall booth, I spent a good part of my day today at the ironing board. I ironed cafe curtains, aprons, tablecloths, dishtowels and over 30 handkerchiefs!
As I stood there ironing one hankie after another, I thought about my grandmother.
Like many little girls in the 1950s, I learned to iron on hankies. Everything that was ironed at our house was 'sprinkled' with water first, using a glass 7Up bottle with a sprinkle-head added. I remember my grandma (who we called, oddly enough, Ningle -- it's a long story) sprinkling the clothes at the kitchen table, folding and rolling them up and putting them in a plastic bag in the refrigerator over night. To this day, I have no idea why they chilled.It was such a big deal to get to sprinkle my own hankies and then iron them! I remember standing on a stool at the ironing board (always in front of 'The Guiding Light', 'The Edge of Night' or 'As the World Turns' on TV) and ironing the hankies, dishtowels and, later, aprons. I felt so grown up and independent, though now I know Ning was watching to make sure I didn't get burnt or incinerate the hankies.

Today as I ironed away, these happy memories made the job go much more quickly -- all the moment needed was 'The Edge of Night'!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Projects Waiting!

I've been spending alot of time in my project room getting things together for the booth and pricing them. I keep looking wistfully at all the 'raw material' (translate: junk) there and thinking of things I want to do with it. I can hardly wait until the pricing is done, the booth is set up and I have time to get to work making a few things.

What have you made lately? Check out the blogs in the right sidebar for some GREAT ideas of things to make out of junk! Get creative!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Getting Ready to Sell!

In preparation for setting up the booth, I've been making more frequent trips to the local thrift & consignment stores, as well as estate sales. Today was my lucky day! I found:

A large Pyrex mixing bowl

A Homer Laughlin Riviera cream colored cream pitcher

A very small Pyrex casserole (the spoon is lets you see just how little it is!)
A 1970s Pyrex casserole (minus the lid)

A cool old chalkboard

Every day, we get a little closer to set-up week -- it's starting to be exciting!

Friday, January 14, 2011

A Frog and a Prince

Today Bargain Hunter and I ventured out into the snow and cold to go to two sales -- one turned out to be a real frog. We even waited outside in the snow for a half hour for this one (until we couldn't feel our toes any longer)! It's the second time we've been to a sale run by this particular person and both times it's been disorganized and high priced. We probably will skip her next ones unless there is something great to lure us.

I thought it would be a total loss until we went into the basement, where I got a few things, though...

A vintage GE toaster that works great (Turner the crazy dog & I shared the test-toast)

A vintage scale

A large paint-by-number

Two little (4x5) paint-by-numbers framed in adhesive tape (!) with broken glass -- they need to be re-framed

With these tools and some patience, you can clean just about anything!
Look at the 'after' picture of the toaster -- it's a beauty!
The next sale was a prince! The prices were fair and the people running it were really nice to deal with. We didn't get much, though, because we got there late and everything interesting was gone. There were two big home-made shelving units in the basement, though, and they were FREE! We grabbed those for our booth.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Estate Sale Fun on a Thursday

There were 2 good estate sales today and my friend and 'junking' partner, Bargain Hunter' had to work, so I ended up going out on my own. It's not nearly as much fun without someone to talk to! With the booth in mind, I bought lots of things as inventory. We have no idea how much we'll need or what will sell. For the first month or two, it will all be trial and error.

I got some great stuff, though. The first sale was a 'digger' sale and the house had 80 years of accumulated grime and cigarette smoke. I didn't buy anything that couldn't a) be thrown in the washing machine or b) scrubbed! I got a bread box that had so much dirt on it that it looked tan:

The right front is where I started scrubbing - the left front is untouched

The top had no shine at all - just dirt!
Here's the 'after' shot!
I got a box of shiny brite ornaments, some other Christmas stuff, some turquoise melmac pieces, some tumbler-sized jelly jar glasses, a great green vinyl elephant from the 50s, lots of fabric, hankies and a few aprons.
The best 'big ticket' item was this small Econolite Christmas tree light. It's got a little damage, but overall it's in great shape.

The only thing I bought to keep for myself is this little figurine. I have NO idea why I like it so much, but I just love it -- it makes me smile every time it look at it. It says 'Margaret' on the bottom, but it doesn't look like homemade ceramics. Maybe that's the little girl's name...

Stepping Out in Faith!

Well, my friend Bargain Hunter and I signed the papers today to get a booth at our local antiques mall! We're really excited and have lots of ideas for making it work, but it's pretty scary, too. We take possession on February 1 (a Tuesday) and hope to have everything in place by Friday, February 4, so we don't lose the weekend traffic. Needless to say, that will be a VERY busy week!

I'll keep you posted on our progress as February 4 approaches and hope to have pictures to post, too.

This is REALLY scary!

About 6 months ago, I radically cut my paid work hours to be available to help my husband with his new business. Since then, I've been trying to find ways to earn money, while still being flexible in my hours -- not an easy task in this economy!

I've done lots of thrifting and estate-sale-shopping with my friend, Bargain Hunter. I've bought and sold on Ebay for years (okay, so I've bought more than I've sold -- who's counting?) but started selling on Etsy in October. I'm having so much fun! I find that I enjoy doing this more than just about anything else.

But, here's the scary part... My friend Bargain Hunter and I were talking about our dream to have a booth in an antique mall. She found out that our favorite local mall, Livingston Antique Outlet, has a few coming available in February and March. BH wants to get one of them and share it. We figured out that we'd have to sell just 13 items each to make the monthly rent. And LAO gets great shopper traffic -- you can hardly find a parking place there on the weekends and there are always lots of shoppers at other times of the week, too. The idea of doing that, though, is REALLY scary to me -- but exciting, too!

What's funny is that, in her last post, BH blogged about how scared she is to sell on Ebay and Etsy -- that's a piece of cake! I'm totally freaked out by the idea of selling in a mall! How can two friends who have so much in common have such different points of view?

So what do you think, dear readers? Should we give it a try for 6 months or so and see what we can do with it? Is it too late to begin doing something you've wished you could do for 20 years or more?

Pretty scary stuff!