Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Garage Sale Diet

The sun gets up early these Summer days. So even though I usually leave by 6:45 to head out to the Saturday sales, the sun is already rising and the light has a head start on me.

With Dunkin Donuts coffee in hand (I make my own) and all the dollar bills I can wad into my pocket, I grab my camera, my keys, my detailed list of which houses to go to (and in what order), and then I accelerate into the sunrise!

Gotta love those folks who start their sales at 7:00. By 8:00, I'd love to be wrapping it up and heading to the last few places. Never happens though, because most of the people don't start until 8:00. It's hard to get a jump on the best stuff when everyone starts at the same time and across town from each other.

Lucky for me, most people aren't looking for the good old fashioned junk that I am.

I usually manage finding junk-o'plenty. This week I was beyond proud that I had gone almost everywhere I wanted and only spent $4.00. A bad day junking is a good day for the wallet. I felt like I was making up for weeks past when having run out of allotted garage sale funds, I cleaned out the ash tray cash (which isn't saying much), pilfered all the quarters, dimes and nickels from the car door handle, searched through my purse's zipper area and my little change purse in hopes of resurrecting a sum needed to purchase some important artifact (I'm sure). Aside from my $5 limit per item, having only so much cash on hand keeps me from getting caught up in a spending spree. Dollars add up fast!

Here's what I hauled home for the pittance I spent this week:

Each of these items cost me $1.00. They wanted $5 for the box, but I get tool boxes for $1 all the time, so I didn't feel out of line asking if they'd take $1.00. The dad said "Sure." The kid who was helping said, "Dad, that's 4 dollars off of 5!" The dad wisely told him "I want to get rid of it - someone wants to pay me something for it - it's a garage sale - you take what you can get and get rid of it."

Smart man. The handle is super shiny, but the box itself is a perfect shade of red and it's all chipped up. Then... look at that cool scale! $1.00. I didn't think I'd ever find one. Score!

I spent way too much time digging through a can of stuff so I could find just the drill bits that I needed. There's also some sort of a pick that looks like a dental instrument. It'll come in handy for sure. Altogether these cost me another $1.00.  I should've sprung for the old scissors they had, after all, they're on my list! However since this was only my second stop, I didn't want to buy too much and be out of cash later. 

Did you see the not-so-silver serving tray with handles peeking out from under the red box? Here... have a close up view. Looks like someone baked it in mud for about half a millennium.  I got it for $1.00! I'd been wanting to get some silver items and use them in my decorating. I have a few ideas. I figured this would clean up for the most part. To find one with handles is sweet!

When I got home, I worked on polishing it for a while and gave up on the handle cleaning for the time being. Overall, it's coming out nicely.

These handles were mere murder to clean, so I moved on to clean the other silver.

"What other silver?", you might ask. Well, that's a fair question. It's like this...

I went by Goodwill after the garage sales and I found the little silver bowl below for $1.00. All the other silver there was priced higher than I wanted to pay, and I couldn't decide if I needed it THAT badly, (even though I passed up a cool silver champagne cooler a couple weeks ago because it was $8.00 (I thought that was high), but when I realized I HAD to have it and went back for it, it was gone! I was so mad at myself for passing it up! Me and my pricing standards - I went to another Goodwill near me and their silver was $15 to $25 each piece! What!?) Then I spotted this bowl and it was a buck. It was tarnished of course, but I could tell it was a good one. A buck for something useful and quality is always too tempting to pass up. Sold.



This is a VERY SHINYsilver, and it's the sweetest little bowl. I didn't know I could love and adore a silver bowl. Now I know.

I think I'm entering a silver phase. It will probably last until I run out of my sundry containers of silver cream and my nails and fingers, black from polishing, crumple up and stop working. In other words, the phase may not last long, but I'll enjoy it while it does!

Brace Yourself!

Okay, now steady yourself, and I mean it. Are you ready for a real surprise? Are you sitting? You're not reading this on your iphone while hiking through mountains or walking near a busy street are you? Pay attention...I don't want you to get hurt when you flip out seeing what else I got. Okay, okay, you won't be that excited. You may not even think it's cool, but I do, so I'm counting on you all to at least play along. Nah...that won't do. Go ahead and tell it like it is. I can take it. I'm pretty sure I can count on certain daughters of mine to give me THEIR honest opinion.

Well, here's what happened...there was this sale that I had gone to last year where there were these two patio chairs popular back in the Old Florida days of my youth. I could have cared less about them as a kid and would've gone so far as to call them "old lady chairs" at the time (maybe like certain daughters of mine might?). But since they appear now as part of the supporting cast of my childhood memories, they have taken on a beyond cool vibe that now invites me back to that place and time, and to which I happily oblige. Hence, the "old lady chairs" meet "me as an 'old lady'" and guess what...we sort of fit with each other in a way we previously didn't. That's what happens with age, kids!

Last year at that sale when I first saw them, all chippy and turquoise and straight out of the early 60's, I asked if they were for sale but the woman said she'd only sell them if she could get a good price and proceeded to tell me how old and special they were. I knew she wanted too much for my stingy budget. However, I thought my friend Lynn might want them for her new home when she moves, and then I could enjoy them whenever I visited. Lynn and I had seen a white, chippy, rusty bench of this kind at a salvage yard for upwards of $1,000. I called her at the time, but she and her husband were planning to pack things up and downsize for their move, so it was a no-go. That was that. I had to walk away, but the memory of those chairs stuck with me.

Fast forward. Here it was garage sale day again, and with it came a sale that sounded like it was in that same townhome complex. I wondered...could it be? If it was, would the chairs still be there? Might she want someone to take them off her hands for less? I remembered that the front of one of the seats was broken and needed to be soddered. I was unphased. I almost dreaded going and finding the chairs gone, or worse yet, seeing them there but discovering they were still out of my financial realm of possibility.

So I pulled up and it was the same place. Pulse quickening, I craned my neck to peer into the carport. Oh my goodness! Sure enough, the chairs were there still sitting up against the wall in the exact same place. Gorgeous aqua/turquoise paint was still flaking off and no one was even glancing in their direction. They were obviously meant for me. She must have wanted too much last year to still have them, or else no one else NEEDED these 1960's time travel apparatuses as did I. The question was, would they be for sale, and if so, for how much? I got out and did my nonchalant wander-around looking at the goods on all the tables, afraid to discover the awful truth... that I just couldn't have the chairs. Before I left, I got up the nerve and asked if the chairs were for sale. "Yes," she said. "Make me an offer!"

Uh, uh! No, ma'am. I was not falling for that again. No way! (That happened to me with the blue metal chairs, remember?) So I told her, with a laugh, that I didn't have a clue as to what to offer because I had a very low budget for garage sale items. I didn't want to offend her because I knew they were old and worth more than my typical garage sale limits would allow, but I didn't want to blow it by offering based on my assumptions of what I thought she wanted. These were true gems. I had walked away last time and waited the better part of year for this second chance; I was hoping she was one year closer to wanting them out of her hair. My patience should account for something! Financial leniency toward my self-imposed limits was being called upon.

She went ahead and thought a minute and said she would take $50, I countered with a $30 offer, but she was completely unwilling to go that low. I was stuck because I have a hard time spending money. Her friend who was helping her sell told me that if I offered her $40 and held the cash out to her, she'd probably take it. Problem was, I didn't have that much with me. That gave me time to drive away and think, go to the rest of my sales and get more cash if I decided this was indeed the necessity I was being told it was by my Old Florida inner child.

I thought so... glad you agree!

"Old lady me" and "inner child me" haggled this decision out across town and back again. I stopped home to drop off salvaged wood I found in my travels, and while there decided that I didn't really HAVE to eat ALL week. I could easily substitute peanut butter sandwiches a few times, have a bowl of cereal for dinner a here and there and make sure to eat every bite of leftovers in the fridge. That would make up for most of it, and in that way my "account" would balance out to $0.00, right? I thought so... glad you agree! The chairs would in effect be free. Duh!

Mind games are a wonderful thing! And so it goes, everytime I want something over my limit, the garage sale diet comes into play. It suffices to say I do not have a weight problem. In this money shuffling game I give up basics, make trades and juggle funds for the love of a different kind of sustanence... "JUNK food".

So look what I got for going without groceries this week...

Ta da!

I gathered together some money, drove back, and the woman looked at her friend for confirmation (and getting it) accepted my $40 offer. The turquoise painted cast iron chairs found themselves at home where other treasures have found safe haven before, in the backseat of my car.

A chippy, aqua, romantic patio dream.

Turns out some of these exact same chairs have sold for $200 each recently online. Whether that's typical or not, it still makes me feel pretty good about my score at $20 each!

I haven't figured out the patio arrangement yet. I've been moving things around and replanting and that new pile of cabinet doors needs to be dealt with, so right now the chairs are just biding their time awaiting placement. They do need to be stripped and repainted eventually, but for now, I'm just loving them as they are and enjoying their shabby beauty as is.

These doors were in a huge trash pile in front of someone's house not too far away from me. I got 16 of them and figured if nothing else I could just get all the knobs off of them. I know I could eventually use this wood for a project or two, if I can just find somewhere to put it in the meantime.

There were still twice this many doors left in the pile and some long doors as well. I didn't even know what to do with the ones I got, so I didn't take any more. The ones I got are strewn about my patio and I have to decide about them quickly. The torential downpours have already come three days in a row, and these will all be bowed soon. Without a storage area, great finds like this being held for some future day can end up being more of a hassle than they're worth. I've moved them around 4 times already. I may have to salvage the knobs and toss the wood after all. [Sad sigh]. Amazing what you can find out there though. If we were doing a wood covered wall, these would have been just the thing!

So there you go. Up until those chairs came along, I had only spent $5 all morning and hauled a few fun finds home, including the free wood. In the end after the chairs, for a $45 morning, total, I was a happy camper. I spent the rest of the day planting two tibuchina bushes in the Florida Summer sun by my patio and gazing fondly at my sweet cast iron lovelies.

Gosh, I just realized - I'm starving! Anybody want some company for dinner?

I'll be sharing this with:

Too Much Time On My Hands

Fridays Unfolded @ Stuff and Nonsense
Open House Party @ No Minimalist Here
What's It Wednesday @ Ivy & Elephants


  1. Wow... more fabulous finds and deals!! The early bird does get the worm! :)

  2. First, you had me with the DD coffee... can you believe the closest DD to me is FIFTY MILES AWAY?! Tragic. truly tragic.

    THEN... you had me with the toolbox! LOVE it!

    THEEEEEENNNNNNNNN....... you had me drooling over your new chairs that ARE INDEED way more important than food.
    Oh wait... I'm still drooling over your AWESOME chairs that are way more important than food.

    You are wise.

    :) Enjoy that PB sandwich in your chairs!!!

  3. Hi Liz!!!!!
    I like the serving tray but I love these chairs!!!!!!!
    They are so beautiful!!!!!!!!!!You are so lucky !!!!!!!!

  4. Wow those chairs are pretty amazing! Congrats on finally getting them! That must be really exciting! (and yes, congrats on making me jealous!)

  5. I am jumping at the bit to go yard saleing this weekend. Have missed it for 4 weeks now and I know I have missed so much good stuff. LOL.......your chairs are pretty pretty special!! And love that color too! Thank you for stopping by and following. I am so happy to do the same. xo

  6. A Garage Sale Diet! That's so funny! You did get some great finds! I tend to pick up a lot of silver at garage sales too. Recently, I tried a trick for easy cleaning. I lined my sink with aluminum foil, sprinkled ice cream salt (or reg salt), and filled it up with hot water. I put my candlestick in for about 2-3 minutes and it came out shiny and new! I don't know how it would work with heavily tarnished items but it wouldn't hurt to try!

  7. Sooo glad you found me. Love your blog and love the finds! I have been looking for a scale with some green or blue in it. You are soooo lucky. $1???? I can't believe. The chippy chairs are incredible! Wow, you are good girl. I will be following you from now on-my kind of girl! Just wish I had your kind of luck!

  8. I live in Florida, come on by! I feel like I owe you a dinner for this fun read! And those chairs really are fabulous! You will really be glad you got them! I'm glad I found your post at Jann's party! FL hugs!

  9. Oh that is too funny, and your logic seems reasonable to me!! No lunch but cool chairs? Makes sense.

  10. 1st of all, where the heck do you live? Why? Because I would go thrifting with you and I would of offered that sweet old lady $50 for those chairs and you would of lost out. You know what, then we would of had an argument, and ended our friendship right then and there. Moral of the story, so glad we don't live close, so we can be friends.

    You are so lucky to find those chairs again and buy them for $40. I need to take lessons from you!

    So glad you stopped by and let me know you liked my garden!

  11. Liz, first of all I just can NOT believe the bargains you get. That scale and tool box would be a heck of alot more at any yard sale around here. I would have jumped at the $5 price. Can't believe you got it for $1. The turquoise chairs are wonderful. I have a bench, a table, and 4 chairs just like them. They were my sweet mothers. Her and dad use to go to AZ as snowbirds. They brought them home one year. I know that she paid quite a bit for them. Mine are white. Planning on using them up by my out building that hubs and I are going to build next Spring. Thinkin I might need to paint them a color. Thanks for sharing with Share Your Cup.

  12. I remember you talking about those chairs. Wow! what a find - actually all of them. I love that kitchen scale. I'd use it every day (remember birthdays and Christmas are coming up :). So, see, I'm not doing iphone facebook on a mountain top while hiking. :D

  13. The chairs are worth every penny! Love the shabbiness! I know about those diets you mentioned. A girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do!

  14. GREAT FINDS. I would go without groceries for 2 weeks for those beautiful chairs :)

  15. Boy you hit the mother load. I agree I can't head to a yard sale with my trusty coffee and down here it's Krispy Kremes. I love your iron chairs, I can see finding a place for everything you got. I have come over from Patti's party, drop by for a visit. Kathy

  16. Liz,
    Now... you are very naughty girl, making me drool of those pretty chairs.

    They are adorable. $40? I guess, it's a steal, though?

    Lucky girl this week, huh?

    TY again for sharing.
    /CC from Stockholm

  17. So fun joining you on your adventure! ;) I had to laugh when you said you were beginning a silver stage-- I'm there as well-- even did a post on succulents served up on a silver tray!! :)

    Thanks for coming by to read and see my garden chairs, Cha & Cha! They-- and I-- were so happy to meet you!

    All the best!

  18. Oh, I'd love to have you over for a slice of caramel cake AND some really good java!!! :) ....and maybe even serve it up on silver! ;)

  19. Great finds! I love the chairs! Thanks for sharing at Potpourri Friday!

  20. Ok, wait a said on my post that you're jealous of all my finds...? Well, I think you're scoring quite a few of your own, missy! Kudos on those gorgeous chairs! :)

  21. Those chairs are amazing! You found some great stuff!

    So happy to meet you and visit with you tonight. Going to check out more of your posts.


  22. I think I need to try your diet, Liz! lol! Forty bucks for those chairs was a steal! Great job on nabbing all of your pretty goodies! :)

    xoxo laurie

  23. Oh what a fun post! I enjoyed it so much and I love the chairs! You really did get a good deal and I like them the way they are. Have a great weekend.

  24. Reading this post was almost as good as going out thrifting with an old friend! You scored lots of great finds!
    Thanks so much for your kind comment on my Table for Two post! :)

  25. Oh, I love how you rationalized this decision. My kind of thinking as well. Great purchase. I would not part with these if I found them either.

  26. I need to go garage saling with you! Great buys :)

  27. I need to go garage saling with you! Great buys :)

  28. liz: lady you are a riot!! Can we vacation [garage sale] together-next time you are going to see your daughter in bham how about let's plan on you adding one or two days to your travel plans and come by Brundidge and let's see wht kind of trouble we can get into..THIS CHAPTER WAS SO HILARIOUS--I CHEATED AND SKIPPED TO THE END..NOW I HAVE TO GO BACK A READ WHAT I MISSED. ahhhhhhhhh, the games we [bargain shoppers] play to accomplish the fun end results. I am TIRED now following you around w the hunt.


  29. Can I please come Yard Sale-ing with you? What scores-seriously that scale for $1 and those chairs-you are killing me! Thanks for linking up and sharing my new button:)

  30. Be still my heart!! Oh wow! First of all, that pile of goodness for $1 each made me green with envy. What a score. You did a great job on that beautiful silver tray and I like the handles just the way they are. Those chairs have me drooling. You were so lucky to see them again and even luckier that they were still there when you went back with the money. The color and chippy patina is stunning. Great job. Now I need to finish my second cup of coffee, load up my dollar bills and get out to do some treasure hunting.

  31. Haaaa I do that to my car, too!! I'll put anything in it. Love your taste. Thanks for following my blog. I'm gleaning sooo much from everyone.

  32. Liz, you are a woman after my own heart. I just happened to run across your blog and fell in love with your Garage Sale Diet! You should see the new small dents I have put on my little Honda Civic trying to get me 'finds' into the back seat! Thank you for letting me know I'm sane! Cindie R

    1. Cindie, welcome to the dented car club! I really scratched up the inside of the door jam area of the car trying to get these chairs out the other day. Sometimes getting them in is fine but pulling them back out seems impossible. I'm usually pretty careful and don't do too much damage but lately, I think I'm getting less and less careful. Thanks so much for stopping by to comment. If you have a blog, please let me know so I can come by and visit at your place!

  33. I cannot even believe you got that scale for $1!! I had been wanting one forever and thought I did good when I found one for $10 (they're usually $20-$30 around these parts). I loved your story about the chairs, what patience you must have. : ) I do a post almost every Friday about my garage sale/thrift store finds, I usually end up finding at least one great deal a week.

    I'll be back when I have more time to poke around your blog a bit. Thanks for stopping by The Cozy Old Farmhouse! Oh, and I'd love to know what part of Florida you're in? We're originally from FL and plan to move back after Hubby finishes up his schooling.

  34. great finds AND prices!! love the green chairs very much.

  35. I love your thought process, so like mine. Rationalization is a beautiful thing! Beautiful chairs.

  36. Oh, yeah, I love that diet! Gorgeous chairs, I'd have snatched them up, too! Amazingly meant for you! So glad you got them.
    Thanks so much for sharing them with us at WIW.

  37. I love your logic, Liz!
    I'm so glad you got your chairs~ it was destiny for sure.

  38. I enjoy your posts so much! I know I'll love following you!

  39. I can't believe the chairs were still there. The color is so beautiful, it would be a shame to repaint them right away. I would like to live with that color in the garden for awhile.
    I am not a garage sale or flea market girl ( one flea market in the last 5 years), but I have to say that after reading blog after blog of wonderful success stories, I might need to change my ways.

    Oh, and if I didn't live in California (I assume you are east coast), I would say that the silver you bought were both wedding presents I gave to Goodwill when we downsized. I had both items, but I never thought of myself as a silver person.

    Thanks for the vicarious garage sale experience!

  40. i so enjoyed your post! thank you for visiting me and inviting me to your blog. if i lived anywhere near you, we would be side by side junking around the garage sales. and with your garage sale diet, i would lose a few pounds as well! unfortunately, in the Philippines, garage sales aren't that common. whenever i am in the US i visit all the thrift shops i can find!

  41. Love the silver bowl! The chairs are perfect in their old chippy state!

  42. Your chairs are amazing! These are precisely what hubby and myself are looking for... and the exact colour too! Beautiful. Enjoy!

  43. Wow those chairs are an awesome find and your silver pieces are so pretty. Your posts are always written so wonderfully. Really they are so much fun to read!!

  44. That silver bowl and the chairs were excellent finds! Who needs food when you can have treasures like these!

  45. I am so glad that you stopped by my blog so I could find yours! You are one amazing woman and I am jealous of more than a few of your fabulous finds!

    Can't wait to spend half my day on your blog!

    Have a happy week!


  46. Thanks for sharing this wonderful post on Simple & Sweet Fridays. What great finds! Always love your inspiring comments, thank you!


  47. You can come to my house for dinner and tell me more of your delightful garage sale stories. I have a jar of peanut butter and we'll have cereal for dessert :) I'll serve it on my yard sale silver all polished up nice and shiny!

  48. Thank you for joining me at Home Sweet Home!

  49. really did a great job that old tool box and scale.


  50. Great finds! Thank you for sharing this at Saturday Show and Tell. I can't wait to see what you have for this week! I look forward to seeing you there.

  51. I love the chairs! You got a great deal! I became a follower. Thank you so much for becoming a follower on my blog and for your lovely comments!

  52. Good for you! Sometimes you have to let the inner child win:)


  53. This is great!!! I am hosting a Giveaway to win a 50 dollar gift card to the store HomeGoods. It would be great if you stopped by and entered. Thanks Anu

  54. Liz...THOUGHT ABOUT U TODAY...wondered what you were finding out garage SAILING today..SHARE SOON??? AND maybe an update on work done on your finds from This outing -REm you as we were taking pictures n DOWNTOWN MONTGOMERY..the ALLEY..sooooooo fabulous-will have a post [pics] to share soon-perhaps while we are in BIRMIGHAM [ 6-8 weeks] I can spot some wonderful scenes to capture.

  55. love this post, liz! and those chairs--to die for!

  56. Oh, and I could totally tear it up together on a Saturday morning! This very day, I cleaned out my car's ash tray to buy a $3 rug. Yep...paid for it in nickels! Girl, there's no grocery worth the beauty of those chairs...they are FANTASTIC. What an awesome story!!
    Enjoy the rest of your weekend! Featuring this tomorrow night at the party.


  57. Those chairs are amazing! Love all of your finds! Congrats on your feature at I Should Be Mopping the Floors! I'm your newest GFC follower!
    Barbara @ Chase the Star

  58. Such great finds! The scale for one dollar?! And, the chairs are just beautiful! I LOVE a yard sale!

  59. THANK YOU! now I won't feel so crazed when I rationalize junking purchases using the peanut butter diet/deprivation routine..what a relief that others have used this ruse :)) whew!!
    I've learned that if it's your heart's desire, it's worth that diet.

  60. Your chairs are wonderful! Great price, too--I wish I would get up for yard sales but I sleep in. Your Revere bowl is a pretty and shiny beauty--and so cheap, too! Great finds!

  61. Liz, you had me hanging on every word! I haven't read such a good book in a while! Oh yeah, it's not a book. Too bad! You should think about it.

    Linda at The French Hens Nest

  62. I havent any word to appreciate this post.....Really i am impressed from this post....the person who create this post it was a great human..thanks for shared this with us.
    How to Destress your Life


Thanks for coming by. I hope you'll say hello and let me know your thoughts. I'd love to hear from you! Unfortunately spammers have been at an all time high, so I will no longer be able to accept anonymous comments.