Thrift Store Score: Mother’s Day Estate Sale Trip

Thanks to my recent round of steroids, Mother’s Day was the best day I’ve had in a long time. Probably since before I was pregnant, or during my round of extreme steroids while I dealt with hives realness. It was a fantastic day, straight out of a good health fantasy, because when you are chronically sick you tend to spend a chunk of your time daydreaming about being healthy. My goal for the weekend was to enjoy a few different types of dessert, as the steroids had kicked my blood sugar into high-gear and I craved sugar almost constantly. A new Paleteria (a kind of a Mexican ice cream shop featuring lots of fresh fruit) had opened up that I wanted to try, I thought pretty constantly about some macarons I’d had at a local bakery, and we have a new ice cream shop in town. We made it to two of the three locations, had a nice lunch out, and on the way back I felt still good, somehow, and I wanted to attempt some thrifting. I couldn’t decide which thrift store sounded most appealing–I wanted to try something new–so we decided to gamble on an estate sale we’d heard about. It paid off in spades.

Most of the time if I’m going to leave the house for an estate sale it’s one put on by my friend Carrie of Treasures to Find. She owned the best thrift store in town, hands down, for the better part of a year, before deciding to pack it in and stick to running estate sales exclusively. This sale was run by Betty Sue & Company, and was fan-tas-tic. Betty Sue owned an antique store for many years and now does estate sales all over the valley. I hope she comes to Turlock again because they were so nice and willing to bargain. They were kind but curious about my camera (I kind of stand out with a chunky DSLR around my neck), and I used it as an opportunity to chat them up. The owners of the estate were a couple who had lived in this house forty years and raised seven or eight kids here. The house itself, like most of its time in our area, is very small by today’s standards, and the yard is enormous. The backyard alone could have comfortably fit another house and yard. It contained several architectural elements such as a large bridge, trellises, gazebos, tons of stonework, fruiting trees, and a crazy quilt of rose patches. There was a garage, a shed, and even a little MIL house. The yard was overpopulated with stone and plastic animal statues. It was a huge yard and it still had the population density of San Francisco. One of my favorite parts about estate sales is seeing other people’s eccentricities. I already own four fondue pots, about a million books, and several dozen crocheted blankets. If I live in the same house for fifty more years, how many will I have by then?

I passed up on a ton of great stuff because originally the plan was to scoop up my favorite stuff first, and then come back the next day to get the rest at a bargain. Huge estate sales that go for two or three days are a double bargain, because on the last day of the sale they practically give stuff away to avoid having to pay to haul it away themselves. I had even made a list on my phone of all the wonderful things I was going to come back for the next day. Unfortunately my good day was followed by several days of terrible health, and there was no way I could have made my way back there even if they were giving away the whole house for free.

I love the cursive house number.

There were so many amazing trees in this yard. That bridge was roped off and considered “unsafe” otherwise you’d be seeing gratuitous amounts of kids-on-the-bridge photos about now.

Have I kicked myself in the ass for not getting that patchwork quilt? Maybe. Do I still cry about it at night? Definitely.

Tons of religious books are practically mandatory for an estate sale from the 70s and 80s. I find them at every estate sale I’ve ever been to.

The green chairs were pretty amazing, and that couch was pristine, but take a look at that robin’s egg blue and forest green shag rug. I haven’t seen carpet like that in a looooong time, and in person, never. This is straight out of my vintage trendy home decor books.

This particular cactus plant was about six feet tall and probably four or five feet wide. Anybody know the name? It was more like a cactus tree than most cacti I’ve seen.

Had I gone back the next day I would have loaded up on loose beads and necklaces.

I only bought one of these beauties–a turquoise one you can see in the bakery photo–but I see several here I would also love to get.

So many trunks. Was someone a magician?

A girl who loves thrifted jewelry, after my own heart.

This is an antique wooden potty-chair. Isobel thought that was hilarious.

No matter where I went in the yard these deer were looking at me.

Isobel: “I want the barrel of money!”

Me: “Okay, but it’s empty.”

Isobel: “Ugh. Nevermind.”

I had to get this wooden Jesus plaque as an item of Thrift Store Gore. We call it Disappointed Jesus because he looks like an office manager who is very disappointed in your performance and has some bad news about your position being terminated.

I was absolutely going to go back for a few of these squirrels.

Hopefully Betty Sue does more estate sales in my area soon!

Friends of the Library Book Sale Score

Last year, I went to the annual Friends of the Library Book Sale and wrote about some of the things I found, but I never finished writing about the things I took home. Last month the book sale rolled around again and I realized I never completed last year’s post, which I needed to get up before I post about this year’s scores. I didn’t find a lot in the way of Gore this year, but I did get into a book-bragging discussion with a cantankerous old man (I may have been a bit cantankerous myself). But all that’s for next time.

We had no money during last year’s book sale as we were still struggling with unemployment, but I had managed to scrape together ten bucks somehow by raiding all of our change stores and combing through my desk drawers carefully. Or maybe I robbed a bank. I don’t know. It’s been too long. But we had ten dollars, a couple of tote bags, and some friends, and that’s more than enough. Here’s my favorite scores of the bunch.

First I’d like to draw your attention to the three unicorn books in the top left-hand corner. I had those books as a child and could barely contain my glee when I found these in mint condition. Mint. Meaning, stickers included. Yes.

The Nature book is enormous (the photo really doesn’t do it justice) and is a beloved favorite of Isobel’s and even Elias. There are lots of full-color photos so she can feel engaged browsing through it even if I’m not right there reading it. Elias really loves to flip through it and make his noises at the photos. Right now the only books he loves more than this one are the board books that offer different textures to touch. Other books really can’t compete with a book featuring a fuzzy bear with a velvety nose.

The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady is my kind of book exactly. Actually, it’s kind of like a blog of her life in the country, discovering different plants and animals, seasons and lights, and recording and illustrating them in a diary. In the photo above you can see a little section of it open in front of Poppy’s fluffy belly. It’s really one incarnation of what I would call a perfect book.

The book next to it with no title isn’t actually a book at all, but a organizer/reminder book. It has spaces for shopping lists, menus, notes, and weekly schedule, with tiny, perfect little illustrations. (If you click on the photo above it should take you to my flickr where you can get a better view) This vintage book is also in perfect, unused condition–a rare find!

For a quarter I picked up Science Experiments You Can Eat for fun with Isobel. It is the exact type of book I would have purchased from a book order in elementary school. We haven’t done any of the experiments yet but when we do I will let you know how they turn out.

The book on weather and photography are gems from the early sixties that I bought just because I liked the art direction for them, but they have great information, too. Obviously the photography book isn’t for DSLR cameras, but there is still a lot of universal information about lighting and such. I just really love the images in both of these books.

You may have noticed the majestic, barely-clothed lass riding on a Pegasus in what appears to be the depths of outer space. These came in a gold foil-covered box and are actually book plates. The painting is called “Golden Wings” by Boris Vallejo from 1977, the height of fantasy-sci fi art. I bought these for Anthony, a man who appreciates both a half naked woman and pegasus flying through space.

We already have a copy of The Hobbit, but now we have a mint-condition paperback copy from 1966.

My favorite score from the bunch, however, is probably the book shown at the very top of the page, Sex and the Single Plant, about plant propagation, by flamboyant gardener Rex Mabe, whose engaging writing style and passion for gardening made him a successful author. The book is filled with beautiful typography, hand-drawn illustrations, and lots of helpful information. The cover is not only vibrantly colored, but made a thick textured cardstock that has held up extremely well since its printing in 1977.


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