a garage sale story.

I’ve mentioned before that my day job is at City Hall and it’s located in a fairly residential area.  That makes it somewhat convenient for lunchtime garage saling.

The other day I had to run a couple of boring errands at lunch, but I had about 30 minutes to spare so I followed some random garage sale signs.  It was a pretty fall day, cool but sunny, so I think a lot of people decided to throw together one last garage sale before the snow flies.

When I pulled up to the first sale I saw a little old lady sitting in a lawn chair all by herself.  I always see that as a good sign.  Little old ladies have the best stuff, usually at the lowest prices.

Not so this time.  This particular little old lady had easily over 100 jigsaw puzzles and that was about it.

  But tucked in among those puzzles was a gallon sized Ziploc bag with a set of ‘day of the week’ dishtowels.  Except they had only been stamped with the designs, the embroidery had never been done.  Clearly she had good intentions, but never finished the job.  The price?  $30!

What?!  Even if they were embroidered, $30 would be high for a garage sale price.  Especially a ‘little old lady’ garage sale price.

So, I walked away with nothing.

The next sale I found was being held in a garage that was chock full of mounted deer heads.  Literally, there were at least 20 of them on the wall.  In the garage.  They weren’t there as part of the sale, there was a very prominent sign that said “items on walls not for sale!”  Those things aren’t cheap, so it surprised me to see them displayed in the garage.  I mentioned something along those lines to the sale’s proprietor, a gentlemen probably around my age, and he said “you should see inside the house, that’s where all the best ones are.”

Oh my.

I’m not going to lie, I’m pretty seriously creeped out by stuffed dead animals of any kind.  But this is Minnesota.  There are many, many hunters here and it’s not at all unusual to see mounted trophies.  So I didn’t let that deter me because clearly this garage sale was being held by a Collector with a capital C (unlike me, a non-collector).

This person collected dolls, depression glass, chintzware tea pots, vintage wood working tools, figurines … and obviously, mounted deer heads.  An odd combination to be sure.  I asked the guy if this was his parent’s house.  Perhaps dad was a hunter and mom was the collector.  But he never really answered that question.

Had I come across this sale 15 years ago, I definitely would have nabbed the chintzware teapots.  I used to collect those too, but I got rid of all of mine except this one favorite.

Luckily for me … among all of the collectibles there were some vintage Christmas ornaments.

Unluckily for me, the ornaments were sorted into Ziploc bags (again with the Ziplocs!), fab vintage ornaments mixed with junky tacky ornaments.  And they were priced at $10 per bag, a little steep.  But then I did a little math in my head, each bag had around a dozen good ornaments mixed in with 4 or 5 bad ones.  So even though $10 felt high, it was less than $1 per ornament, so I grabbed two bags.

I ended up with a really nice assortment of ornaments, many of them shaped like bells or other shapes.

I was especially excited to realize I’d scored not just one, but two teapot shaped ornaments.

It’s amazing to me that those delicate little spouts and handles haven’t been broken.

I also grabbed this toolbox.  It’s pretty rusty, but I love the size and shape.  I want to try and save the design on the front, but we’ll see how that goes.

As I was checking out, the proprietor asked me if there was anything else I collected.

  ‘No, um, well, yes, to be honest, yes I collect a few things but I hate to admit it.’

I mentioned vintage wind up alarm clocks and he said “There are tons of clocks inside, do you want to come in and take a look.”

I glanced over at the 40 fake deer eyes staring at me from the walls of the garage, looked around and noticed that I was totally alone here.  I realized that this was the point in every horror movie where the audience wants to yell “noooo!  don’t go through that door!”  So I politely said “no thank you” and walked away with my bag of ornaments and my tool box.

Chances are probably good that I missed out on some great vintage stuff from inside the house.  Had I not been alone, it would have been a different story.  But you just never know.  After all, if I didn’t return from my lunch break how long would it take for my co-workers to start to wonder where I was?  And after that, how long before they guessed that maybe I stopped at some garage sales?  How many months before they find my body buried out behind that garage full of mounted deer heads?  I can just picture the ‘made for TV movie’ now, can’t you?




st anthony park.

Gosh, I’ve had so much to post about this week that I almost forgot to share my finds from the last big neighborhood garage sale of the season, St. Anthony Park.

Last Saturday was a beautiful, sunny fall day.  The day started out crisp, but we were able to ditch our sweatshirts by about 10 a.m. as it warmed up.

We were savoring every minute as the garage sale season will really start to dwindle here in Minnesota now that it’s October.

Our first stop of the day was a sale that had lots of great free stuff last year.  This year was the same, we had to take a trip to the car to unload our free stuff before going back to look at the priced stuff.

This junkalicious box of nails was the first thing I grabbed from the free pile.

Not only is the box awesome, but I’m always hunting around for nails!  You will almost definitely see this box being given a new life down the road though, I’ll find another spot for storing the nails.

One of the things I purchased from the sale was this really cool school cross-guard sign.  It’s made out of metal and is quite heavy.  I think it would be adorable hanging on the wall over a desk in a kid’s room, don’t you?

I also nabbed a couple more boxes of vintage ornaments.  Aren’t these colors just devine?

I purchased this trio of vintage cookbooks because I have a petite antique secretary desk (yet to be painted) and these will be perfect for staging it.  When I brought the desk home I tried to sell my sister on the idea of putting it in her kitchen and filling it with cookbooks.  She declined, but I still love the idea.

I found several other old books as well, including another old Swedish bible.  I love when they have old writing on the flyleaf.  This one seems to have been presented to Hilda Johansdotter on the occasion of her confirmation in 1892.

It came with the added bonus of some pressed flowers.

I wonder how old those are?

The binding on the bible has detached on one side and I found this really interesting.

The spine is lined with a … what is that?  a bookpage?  a flyer of some kind?  Since it’s in Swedish, I can’t read what it says.  And it’s upside down.  Did someone add this at some point to protect the spine of the book?  Or did they make books this way?  If any of you have seen anything like this before, please let me know in a comment.

Did you notice our Funky Junk signs in that first photo?

The gal who was selling these mentioned that she had been planning to open a shop, but her plans fell through so she was selling off all of her stuff.  She had piles of signs made with stencils from Donna at Funky Junk.  The Farmhouse sign is for me, and the Bakery sign is for Debbie.  It’s going to look cute hung in her kitchen.

Another item I just couldn’t resist was this adorable vintage nursery light switch cover.

Whenever I bring home a really wobbly dresser for Ken to repair, I tell him it’s another humpty dumpty in honor of the first dresser that Ken totally disassembled and put back together again.

I think I might hang onto that photo of the light switch cover to use every time I share another humpty dumpty with you guys!

One last thing I’ll share today is this sweet little dresser.

You aren’t going to believe the price tag on this one.  It was FREE!

I know, crazy, right?  Near the end of our morning we passed a house with a pile of furniture at the curb.  As we were looking it over, the owners came out with another piece of furniture and said “everything is free!”  Seriously?

Of course at this point we had limited space in our vehicle, we had room for just one piece.  I think I picked the cream of the crop.  It has already been over to Ken’s workshop for a few little repairs, I’ve stripped and waxed the top, and last night I painted it.  It’s looking pretty amazing so far, so be sure to stay tuned to see how it turns out!




random garage sales.

Normally I stick with the big community wide garage sales on a Saturday.  It’s a great way to fit in 50 – 60 sales in just a few hours.  The reality of garage saling is that you’ll find great vintage stuff at about one out of 10 sales (I totally made up that stat, but you get my point, right?).

This past Saturday my sister and I had planned to go to the Cannon Falls community wide sales.  We were going to make a day of it and also visit the winery in town.  I was picturing a beautiful, crisp fall day when we made these plans.  In years past I’ve had to wear a jacket and a hat for the Cannon Falls sales because we usually get a cold snap right about now.  However, it was 92 and humid here on Saturday and I just didn’t have it in me to get up at 7 a.m. and drive the 40 minutes to Cannon Falls.

So instead my sister and I decided to hop in my convertible and drive into the city stopping at random sales along the way.  It was the perfect day to buzz around with the top down on the car.  My sister was in charge of sign spotting, although she still needs to work on those skills.  I definitely needed one of those bumper stickers that say “I brake for garage sales” because she never saw the signs until the last possible second.  We only got cursed at once, and that time we weren’t even stopping at a sale, I was turning off to let a very impatient driver get ahead of me.

My sister and I are really very compatible garage salers.  Neither of us wants to spend time looking at clothes or toys and other kid stuff, so we pass those sales right on by.  My sister is only looking for things to use in her own home whereas I am looking for cool vintage stuff to re-purpose and ultimately sell, so we tend to not pick the same stuff most of the time.  And my sister is a Disney fanatic.  So you can imagine the fun we had when one of the first sales we stopped at had tables full of Disney collectibles.

Debbie bought some pieces for herself, and I bought some pieces to wrap up for her for Christmas.  That sale had a nice selection of vintage stuff too, including quite a few vintage suitcases.  I just bought one, although in hindsight I don’t know why I didn’t buy more.  Garage sale regret strikes again.

Another sale we stopped at also had some great vintage pieces.  I grabbed the red oil can and talked my sister into the copper one.

She has always admired the oil cans I painted and turned into photo holders …

So now is her chance to make her own.  We later stopped off at Hobby Lobby for some of the little clips I used to hold the photos in place, plus a small jar of dark blue chalk paint for Debbie to use to paint hers.

When the garage sales started to dry up, and the day started to really heat up, we stopped off at a huge, very nicely air conditioned, thrift store.  Debbie has been looking for vintage plaid Faribo wool throws for her patio.

I just love that their tags say “purveyors of warmth and comfort since 1865”.  So far she has only found one genuine Faribo, and several no-name wool throws.  But the no-name versions will do until she has a Faribo for every chair.

I found a cute pair of bowls at the thrift store.

I’d been looking for some new dishes for my cat.  This is embarrassing to admit, but she has been eating out of the old dog dishes that we’ve had since we had a dog … um, like five years ago.  It’s about time I got her some pretty cat sized dishes!

Now Lucy can dine in style.

For me the find of the day was this old photo of a farmstead that someone enlarged and put on a canvas.

I don’t know what it is that I find so appealing about it, but I’m just drawn to it.

Check out the back …

It definitely has some age to it.

I wish I had realized how fragile the front was before I put it in the trunk of the car.  I ended up cracking the photo in several places and I’m very bummed about that.  But I still think it’s going to look awesome just as soon as I find the perfect spot for it in my home.

In general, the prices were lower at these random sales than they tend to be at neighborhood sales.  But we also came home with fewer items overall.  It’s a trade-off.  We had a fun time just driving around following the signs where they took us though.  We’d definitely do it again!

Oh, and I almost forgot, the winners of the hello fall banners were Barbara and Laura.  I know I have more than one Barbara and Laura among my readers, but I sent an email to the correct ones, so if you didn’t get an email, I’m sorry to say it’s not you.  Thanks so much to everyone who took the time to leave a comment last Friday though, and if you didn’t win one, I promise they are quite easy to make so just follow my directions from Friday and give it a go.

vintage greens.

In addition to all of the fab stuff I found at the Lynnhurst sales on Saturday, I also found time to check out a few sales during my lunch hour last week.

I wasn’t specifically trying to find things that were green, but somehow I ended up with several items in that perfectly vintage shade of green.

First of all was this lovely little box.  I was drawn to the original painted finish.

This is the kind of chippy, distressed patina that I am trying to replicate every time I use milk paint.  I want to study the wear patterns on this box and make my next piece of furniture look just like this.  But really, although you can do amazing things with milk paint, it’s hard to beat the real deal.

I also love the fact that the box looks very homemade.  Even the handle looks like it was just cobbled together from some bent wire and bits of scrap sheet metal.

I’m not sure what I’m going to store in this box, but clearly it needs to be something special.  But for now it even looks fab with some green books.

This amazing little green birdhouse came from the same sale.

When I got it home I immediately replaced the scrapbook paper that was lining the bottom with some pages from an old German book that I purchased at Carver Junk Co.

It also has an amazing patina.  Wouldn’t it be adorable with a little plant inside?  Or filled with vintage books.

I also found a couple of old green toolboxes.

I actually came home with 4 old toolboxes, 3 of them from one sale.  The other two aren’t green though, so they didn’t make the cut for this blog post.  Although sometimes the original color and patina should be left alone, oftentimes I paint them like this …

You can see what I’ve done with other toolboxes in the past here, herehere and here.

I’m still working on finding the perfect spot in my house for a touch of green, but I’m determined to find it.

In the meantime, I’m just having fun playing around with my vintage greens.

lynnhurst 2017.

Fall garage sale season is in full swing.  My sister and I have plans to hit the neighborhood sales every Saturday for the rest of this month.  So far, we’ve been finding lots of great stuff.  This past Saturday we went to another Minneapolis neighborhood, Lynnhurst, for their neighborhood sales.

Once again, we filled up my sister’s SUV.  As it turns out, people in Lynnhurst price their stuff to sell!

My sister and I each had one specific item we were looking for.

Debbie wanted some pretty dishtowels to put in a bowl that was going back to her neighbor.  I don’t think I mentioned this here, but a week ago Debbie had a house warming party at her new place and a neighbor brought over a bowl of watermelon.  Debbie follows the rule that you never return a container empty, you put a thoughtful little ‘thank you’ gift inside.

Sure enough, she found a set of pretty blue and white dishtowels.

You might think it’s … well … icky to buy linens like these at a garage sale, but these have obviously not been used.  Often times people have been given stuff like this as a gift and it’s not the right color for them, or for whatever reason they just never used them.  So they sell them.

The one item on my list was a globe.  Not for me actually, but for my co-worker Jodie.  She mentioned that she was looking for a globe to turn into something.  I’m not entirely sure what, but she is very crafty.

Sure enough, we found a globe too.

Granted, it doesn’t always work out this way, but you’d be surprised how much luck we often have finding just what we need at garage sales!

I also came home with a glass canister and a bunch of old blocks.

As well as some more vintage graters to turn into photo holders.

I also found this adorable whisk broom with an embroidered cover.

Have you ever seen anything like this before?  I hadn’t.  I just couldn’t resist it.  I’m going to try soaking the cover in some OxyClean and see if I can clean it up a bit.

My sister added to her Disney ornament collection.  She likes that they are Disney, I like that they are vintage.

She also came home with a fab mid-century ice bucket.

I found a pretty little side table that I’ve already begun to make over, here is the before photo.

But the find of the day was definitely this oak washstand (or as some like to call them, commode).

The drawer pulls on this piece are gorgeous.  I think I would have purchased it for the hardware alone.  But it’s also quite lovely overall.  And look what I found when I opened the top drawer …

It looks hand drawn to me.  Only the top drawer has this liner.  I’m debating whether or not to leave it.  Unfortunately it has some water damage spots.

Do I rip it out?  Or do I leave it and let whomever buys it decide?

Also, I won’t be putting the mirror back on.  These pieces make perfect nightstands, but not with a mirror, because a mirror would be weird on a nightstand, right?  I know it seems like a bit of a shame, but they are both just far more versatile on their own.

The mirror and the harp that held it on the washstand are really pretty though, and in great condition ‘as is’.  I think they would look amazing hung on the wall over the sink in a bathroom.  Especially since it has that towel bar.

I added some hangers to it and hung it in my photo cottage just to give you an idea of what that would look like.  I wish I had a fabulous pedestal sink to use as a prop, but no such luck.  Instead, I’ll share this photo from pinterest to inspire you.  I love the look of the darker wood with the white ship lap behind it.

So if any of you locals happen to have the perfect spot for a mirror over your sink, be sure to check my ‘available for local sale’ page for details.

We didn’t come across the washstand until one of our last stops.  The SUV was fairly full at that point, but I was determined to fit it in.  So there we were once again, unloading the contents of our vehicle onto the curb and packing it all back in around the washstand.  Debbie’s girl scout camping trip packing skills come to our rescue yet again!

Currently I’ve got three furniture makeovers underway out in the carriage house.  Each one is taking much longer than I anticipated.  So let’s all keep our fingers crossed that I manage to get at least one of them finished this week to share with you, but in the meantime I think I still might be able to eke out another five post week.  Be sure to stay tuned!


the day for chairs.

This year has pretty much been a bust for me for garage sale finds.  I missed most of the early summer sales while gone on my trip and while helping my sister move into her new house.  I went to a few random sales in July and August, but didn’t find much.  But all is not lost.  There are a handful of good neighborhood sales in early fall so I might not have to write off the entire 2017 garage sale season.

This past Saturday was the 6th Annual East Isles Super Sale with about 40 sales and as an added bonus the neighborhood just north of them, Lowry Hill, added their own neighborhood sale with about 25 additional homes participating.  My sister picked me up bright and early and we headed off to hit the sales.

If you aren’t familiar with Minneapolis neighborhoods, both of these are stunners.  They are situated along the eastern shore of Lake of the Isles and they are filled with gorgeous historic homes.  My sister and I play a fun game while driving around the neighborhoods called ‘which house would you buy if you won the lottery’ (I know, not a very clever name).

The day started out slow.  We didn’t buy a single thing at the first 5 sales we stopped at.  But then things picked up.  I found two adorable kid sized chairs.

I love painting these little chairs so I pick them up whenever I see them at a good price.

Next, I spotted a trio of gorgeous old chairs that I knew would be fantastic painted, so those went in the back of the SUV too.

I also found some ornaments to add to my growing non-collection.

At that same sale, Debbie picked up a stash of these adorable vintage candy molds.

I hadn’t really looked at them closely until I pulled them out to take photos.  Each one is different and quite a few animals are represented, including a cat, a rooster, a pelican, a frog, a horse and a fish.

Debbie recently put up some open shelves in her kitchen and has displayed some blue canning jars on them.  She’s looking for fun things to put in the jars, and that’s where these will go.

By the time we ended up at the sale with these awesome bar stools, the back of the vehicle was already pretty full.

But I just couldn’t pass them up.  So we unloaded everything onto the curb and then reloaded more carefully so that we could fit them in.  We had to remove the headrests from the car seats to get it all situated, but we were determined.  I had to spend the rest of the morning with big rusty metal planter on my lap (and I forgot to get a photo of it) because there wasn’t another inch of room in that vehicle.

One of the sales we stopped at was donating all of their proceeds to hurricane victims.  Although we didn’t buy anything, we did make a donation and get a free homemade cinnamon roll which was delicious.  Our thoughts were with the people in Florida as we were enjoying the perfectly gorgeous day here in Minnesota.  One of Debbie’s good friends from high school (we both went to high school in Boca Raton, Florida) still lives in Boca and was on the road for hours on Friday evacuating from her home.  We were both happy to hear that she had arrived safely at her destination late Friday night and I hope that everyone else in Florida stayed safe during the storm.

Meanwhile, back here in Minnesota, it’s always fun coming home with a haul, and it definitely was the day for chairs!

Be sure to check back tomorrow (yes, I said tomorrow, I think it’s going to be another five post week!) to see what I did with one of them already!





the barn chic vintage sale.

Hi everybody!  This is a public service announcement especially for my local readers (Twin Cities, Minnesota), although the rest of you may enjoy it as well.

You may remember that last year I shared a tour of Kim’s fabulous home, Stone Hill Farm (here, here and here).

Kim and her friends Lisa and Susan host the fabulous Barn Chic Vintage Sale out of Kim’s barn and this year they are having their sale a little earlier than usual.  In fact, it starts tomorrow!

They let me swing by last night for a little preview, so I thought I’d share a few photos with you all!

They have tons of lovely painted furniture.  So much that I can’t possibly share it all with you in a blog post.  This french provincial vanity/desk is so pretty, I love the colors on it paired with the natural wood top (which is a little hard to see in this photo).

There is also a matching nightstand (and you can see that wood top better in this photo) …

Although not french provincial in style, this next dresser looks equally lovely in the blue and white color scheme.

 Here’s an adorable wicker sofa reupholstered in vintage chenille.

I didn’t ask what paint color was on this petite desk, but it looks a lot like the MMS Flow Blue on my Norwegian stool from the other day, doesn’t it?

I love the hot pink bird on the fabric on this vanity bench.  The green and white waterfall style vanity that it’s paired with would be an awesome addition to a girl’s bedroom.

There are many, many more pieces of furniture!

But there are also plenty of smaller decor items too, like this rustic folk art house.

And as you can imagine, this miniature dresser has my name all over it!

I was also really tempted by these adorable banners made out of remnants from vintage embroidered linens.

What a great use for those pretty vintage linens, right?

You know I have a weakness for floral china, and they had a lovely set.

I think most of my favorite colors were well represented.

Aqua …

Green …

Yellow …

Red …

Oh, and guess what?  This is just the stuff that was inside.  They also have a ton of stuff outside!  They didn’t quite have that stuff set up yet, and I was distracted by the chickens, so I didn’t get any photos out there.  You’ll just have to take my word for it, there was a lot of great stuff!

Here are the details for the sale.

When:  Thursday, June 22 – Saturday, June 24 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day.

Where:  2946 Oakgreen Avenue, Stillwater, MN

Please note, they do not take credit cards, so come prepared to pay cash.

If you are local, you won’t want to miss this sale!