mac-grove 2018.

Woo hoo, the late summer neighborhood garage sale season has started!  My sister and I headed out to one of our favorite St. Paul neighborhoods last Saturday, Macalester-Groveland.

After day long torrential rains on Friday, Saturday morning was at least dry although not exactly sunny.  The overcast skies were probably a good thing though because it kept the temperature down and we didn’t have to sweat our way through Mac-Grove.

We were on a mission, and we managed to come home with a full vehicle.

Yep, all of that fit into the back of my sister’s mid-size SUV.

As you can see, once again it was a good day for chairs.  I found another library chair that I’ll be painting at some point.

And I’ve been looking for an Eastlake style chair for a while now.  I want to attempt the ‘deconstructed’ look, but I didn’t want to spend a lot of money in case it’s a dismal failure.  This chair was only $15, so if it’s a bust I’m not out too much cash.

I found a pile of galvanized flower buckets at the first sale we stopped at, so I grabbed all of them.  These are always fun to paint or to add transfers to.

I’ve already had some fun with the galvanized watering can that you can see in the first photo next to these flower buckets.  I removed the green plastic spout, washed the can with soapy water and then added one of the Prima Marketing transfers from their French Pots IV set.

I was curious to find out whether or not the transfers would look good over galvanized metal.  As it turns out, the answer is yes.  As long as you like a somewhat subtle look.

By the way, those are my Little Lime hydrangeas.  They are advertised as a dwarf version of the Limelight hydrangeas.  I can report that this bush is about half the size of my Limelights.  However, the flowers are much more green and they are starting to turn that pretty pinkish-bronze color while the Limelights are still fairly white.

Here are the Limelights for comparison …

Another purchase from Mac-Grove that I’ve already revamped is this simple chrome stool.  It was pretty dirty and had a skanky old vinyl seat.

I started by removing the seat.  When I flipped the stool over I found that there were metal tabs that were folded over to hold the seat in place.  It’s easy to lift them up and take the seat right off.

Ewwwwww!  It was pretty gross under that seat.

And as it turned out, there was an original layer of red vinyl underneath that boring grey vinyl too.

So I ripped off the disgusting vinyl and then cleaned all of the chrome with Brasso.  Then I recovered the seat with a layer of fresh cotton batting and the remnant from a feed sack that I had on hand and then just put it back on.

Easy peasy makeover!

I saved the Mac-Grove ‘find of the day’ status for this bed.

It was one of the very last things I purchased, and I was determined to get it in the SUV.  My sister’s girl scout packing skills really come in handy at moments like these.  And she’s always game to try to fit at least one more thing in the car.

It’s going to be so pretty painted, and I think that foot board is just calling out for a Prima Marketing transfer, don’t you?

the method to my madness.

Whenever I share photos of the haul from a Saturday spent garage saling I get lots of comments from people who say they wish they could find such great stuff themselves.

So I thought I’d share some garage saling tips with you guys today.  Because there definitely is a method to my madness.

Tip no. 1 – shop neighborhood sales.

This is a biggie.  It’s my number one tip because it’s definitely the most important one.

I like to focus on neighborhood sales for the simple reason that it’s efficient.  My sister and I can often hit 50 – 60 sales in one morning at a neighborhood sale because they are all close together.  The more sales you visit, the greater your chances of finding something good.  I’d say there is about one good sale for every 10 or so lame ones.  You know, the ones where you wonder why the people didn’t just rent a dumpster.

If you don’t know whether or not there are any neighborhood sales in your area, try checking the Craigslist garage sale postings frequently.  Some of our neighborhoods are still really old school and post ads in the newspaper too.  Once you find them, be sure to keep track of when they are held.  Most neighborhoods stick with the same weekend (like the 3rd weekend in August for example) every year.

There are two distinct neighborhood garage sale seasons here in the Twin Cities.  The spring season starts the last weekend in April and runs until the end of June.  The sales totally dry up by the 4th of July and tend to not resume again until late August and then run through the end of September.  I’m trying to wait patiently for them to kick in again this year.

Tip no. 2 – the early bird gets the worm.

I can’t stress this one enough.  The good stuff goes fast.  You have to get out there as soon as the sales open.  In general we usually find our best buys before 10 a.m.  After that the finds are hit or miss.

Tip no. 3 – shop the first day.

Everything I said above also applies to shopping the first day of a sale.  As you all know, I have a day job.  Every once in a while I can take a Thursday or Friday off work to get to one of the sales that starts on those days, but for the most part I stick with ‘Saturday only’ sales.

Tip no. 4 – going back for something.

At the Linden Hills sales earlier this year I purchased three large pieces of furniture plus two chairs at the very first sale we stopped at that morning.  Clearly all of that would have filled up my sister’s SUV and we would have been done for the day, which was not an option.  So instead I asked the proprietor if I could come back for everything later in the day.  I’ve done this quite a few times and I have yet to have anyone refuse to allow it.

However, if you’re worried about whether or not your stuff will still be there when you come back I have a great tip for you.  Take just one drawer (or shelf) with you.

Brilliant, right?  I learned that tip from my garage sale mentor’s sister.

If you take a drawer there is no chance the person can sell the piece out from under you.

Also, be sure to make note of the address and get the proprietor’s phone number.

Tip no. 5 – study the map ahead of time.

Most of the neighborhood sales around here provide a map and a listing of the sales.  Oftentimes they also include either a little blurb from the seller about what they have, or a chart of some kind indicating whether they have kid’s clothes, baby stuff, furniture, antiques, etc.  In most cases (although not always) the map and listing is available online in advance of the sale, usually at the neighborhood’s website.

For an example, check out this link to see the map and listing from the Linden Hills sales last May.  The sale we went to first was the one that listed “Vintage furniture, linens & books. Some small antiques.”  And that’s where I scored all of that furniture!

So if possible, study the map ahead of time.  Find the sales that have the sort of items you are looking for and be sure to head to those first.

Tip no. 6 – when all else fails.

When all else fails, money is no object, and you just can’t find any neighborhood sales, it’s time to head to your favorite outdoor antique market instead.  We have quite a few of these in our area and next weekend is one of the best, Oronoco Gold Rush.

My sister and I plan to head there again this year.  We don’t usually buy a lot because the prices are definitely higher than garage sale prices, but we do enjoy checking it all out.

And if nothing else, we’ll definitely come home with some homemade fudge.

I hope some of these tips were useful to you.  Do you have a favorite neighborhood sale in your area?  Or maybe an outdoor antique market that you always like to visit?  Anybody else going to Gold Rush this year?  If so, I’d love to hear from you in a comment.

cupboard door upcycle.

One of my favorite things to do is to re-purpose an item that someone cast off.  It’s not the same as taking an old piece of furniture and fixing it up, making it prettier with paint so that someone can continue to use it as a dresser (although obviously I enjoy doing that too).  I’m talking about true upcycling, where you give something a new purpose (like turning a door into a Market sign for example).  There is just something really satisfying about it.

After purchasing this pair of old cupboard doors at the Tangletown garage sales, I decided to do just that.

I started by painting one of the doors with Fusion’s Algonquin.

I love this color.  It’s a rich deep taupe.  But I mainly chose it because I thought it would work well with one of the new transfers from Prima Marketing’s line (thank you to Prima Marketing for providing me with the transfer).

One thing that is different about this transfer versus others that I’ve used so far is that it has a background color.  That sort of parchment look behind the black words and flowers is part of the transfer.

I wasn’t sure how that was going to work when it came to actually applying the transfer.  I thought it might make it more difficult, but in reality it made it much, much easier.  I didn’t have to worry about little bitty tails on letters that might not be stuck down properly.  I really just rubbed over the whole thing fairly quickly with the applicator stick that is provided with the transfer, and when I carefully pulled up the backing sheet … voila!  Perfect!

Although there is a background to this transfer that has some color to it, it is also fairly sheer.  So the color that you choose to put under it is going to make a difference in how the transfer looks.  I went with the Algonquin because I wanted my transfer to blend a bit with the background.  A white background would provide more contrast.

After the transfer was in place, I sanded the door to distress the paint.  I did not sand over the transfer, just the painted areas of the door.  Then I added some wax to get a consistent sheen over the entire piece.

Finally, I found some discarded wooden dresser knobs in my stash of rejected hardware and added them in a row at the bottom of the door.

The original wood stain on the knobs worked beautifully with the Algonquin and the colors in the transfer.

Thus the cupboard door becomes a kitchen towel holder.  Or a place to hang your bathrobe.  Or a pretty spot to hang some necklaces.

The people at Prima Marketing were kind enough to send a couple extra of this style transfer so that I could give some away today thus rounding out my week of of Prima Marketing transfer giveaways.

To be eligible to win one of these transfers all you have to do is leave a comment on this blog post by tonight (Friday, June 29) at midnight (U.S. central).  I’ll draw two names at random and each winner will get one transfer.

To spice up the comments today I thought I would ask you guys to tell me who your second favorite blogger is (ha, I’m being sarcastic, of course I’m not really assuming I am your favorite).  But seriously, share another blog that you enjoy in your comment.  Maybe a few of us (including me) will discover some new blogs to love today!

The fine print: no purchase necessary, you must be 18 years of age or older to win, void where prohibited by law, the number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning, approximate retail value of prize is $25, if the prize is not claimed by Friday, July 6, 2018 another name will be drawn at random to win, blah, blah, blah.

another rainy Saturday.

Two of my favorite garage sales took place this past week.

First there was the ‘breakfast meeting’ garage sale.  My friend/co-worker Sue and I go to this sale every year.  We both pass the sign for it on our way in to work, so when we see it we know that we need to head back out for our annual ‘breakfast meeting’.  Shhhhh, don’t tell anyone.  This is our little secret.

I always find some great stuff.  Here is last year’s haul.

Seeing this photo reminded me that I did some fun stuff with a few of those items.

I kept the bucket ‘as is’ and I even used it as a prop in last Friday’s blog post after filling it up with peonies.

The little stool under the bucket was revived with some of Miss Mustard Seed’s Flow Blue milk paint and I’ve kept that so far too.

And in fact, the little watering can in that last photo was also from the ‘breakfast meeting’ sale last year and it got a coat of Flow Blue as well.  I brought that in to Reclaiming Beautiful to sell.  I figure my non-collection of 10 watering cans is sufficient and I don’t need to add to it.

The plain plywood box in that photo went from drab to fab with a paint job and an IOD transfer applied to it.  So far I have it in my giant English cupboard holding all of my photography supplies like extra lenses and so forth.

I still have the chair that’s in the photo.  I’m saving it to pair up with a desk sometime down the road.

The rest of the stuff I purchased that day was sold as is.

At this year’s sale I found another little pile of fun goodies like this pretty pair of pyrex dishes.

And this set of McCoy nesting bowls.

Isn’t this ‘cottage’ doorstop adorable?

With a house as old as mine there is always a need for doorstops.  My doors all have a mind of their own.

I also nabbed this pretty quilt to use in my guest room.

In addition to the ‘breakfast meeting’ sale, the Nokomis neighborhood sales were on Saturday.  My sister and I love to go to those because that’s the neighborhood where our parents grew up.  We always drive by our grandparent’s old houses.

Once again though, this past Saturday was rainy.  If you’re keeping track, this was our third Saturday in a row with rainy weather for garage saling.  As we headed into Minneapolis there was thunder, lightening and a heavy downpour of rain.  But we were not to be deterred.  And this time we had my niece with us, which is a rarity, so we really were hoping to find some great stuff.

We really didn’t have much luck though.  Even though there were around 100 sales listed on the map, most of them did not open due to the weather.  I’m sure many of them planned to have their sales out in the yard, and that just wasn’t going to happen.  I always feel so bad for people when they’ve gone to all of the trouble to get ready for a garage sale, and then the weather doesn’t cooperate at all.

I did find some fun things though, like a bag full of mid-century modern drawer pulls for only a quarter.

You never know when I might run across a mid-century piece that needs hardware.  For a quarter, this was definitely a good investment.

I also came home with some more mid-mod barware.  This set is in pristine condition and has six glasses plus the ice bowl and tongs.

It wasn’t all mid-century though.  I also purchased this ginormous scale.

I really should have taken a ‘before’ photo so you could see the transformation.  This was probably the most disgustingly grimy thing I’ve ever purchased at a garage sale (and that is definitely saying something).  The entire thing was covered in a thick layer of greasy dirt.  It also had quite a few paint splatters on it.  But it cleaned up beautifully with just some Dawn dish washing soap and a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser.

By the way, if any of my local readers are lucky enough to have a large kitchen with space for displaying something like this (which would look great with a plant on it, or maybe a couple of ironstone pitchers) this scale is going to be for sale, so be sure to leave a comment if interested.

We finally gave up on the sales at around 11 a.m.  We were driving around in circles at that point and not finding very many sales that were actually open.

So we did what any normal people would do, we drove over to Minnehaha Falls to do some sightseeing and to admire the amount of water going over the falls.

And then despite the fact that we looked like drowned rats, we stopped off for lunch on the way home.  We may not have scored many bargains, but we still had a great rainy Saturday!

the old switcheroo.

In the past I have always gone to the ECCO neighborhood sale the first weekend in June.  I’m not going to lie, I mainly go for the tacos.  There is a family in that neighborhood that makes authentic tacos and sells them out of their garage during the sale.  But early this past Saturday when I printed out their map just before heading out I discovered that ECCO had only 21 houses participating this year.  I’m not sure what happened with that, but when you’re used to sales with 80+ participants, 21 is a small number.

So I did a little googling and discovered that the Kenny/Armitage neighborhood had moved its sale from Memorial Day weekend to this past weekend instead.  I always wondered why they chose a holiday weekend in the past.  It can’t have been good timing for many.  It was obvious that more households were participating as a result.  There were 74 homes on their list.

So I pulled a last minute switcheroo.  Instead of ECCO, my sister and I headed to Kenny/Armitage.

The weather forecast was fairly dire.  The chance of rain starting by 9 a.m. was 80%, 100% chance of rain by noon.  So we went prepared with hats and rain jackets, but we actually stayed fairly dry until about 11 a.m.  We had a few things in the car by then but we were hardly full up.  Still we thought about packing it in at that point.  But then we saw just one more sign, and then just one more, and, well, you get the picture.  A little rain never hurt anyone, although it does make life difficult for those having a ‘yard sale’ rather than a ‘garage sale’.  Besides, I feel really sympathetic for those people who have gone to all the work of having a sale only to have it rain on their parade.

Some of our best bargains of the day were found after the rain started.  One plus to a rainy garage sale day is that it keeps the crowds down.  There were very few shoppers out and about in Kenny/Armitage.

Our very first purchases in the morning were hostas.

Probably not terribly exciting for you guys to see, but these were probably one of the best bargains of the day.  The small ones were $1 and the larger ones were $2.  The guy selling them had a gorgeously landscaped garden full of a variety of hostas.  He was just dividing off some of them to control their size.  I bought three, but my sister bought six!  These weren’t your run of the mill boring hostas either.  One of mine is a Sunpower, and my sister got a couple Guacamole’s.  I’m a big fan of ‘garage sale gardening‘, why pay $20 for a hosta when you can get it for $2?

It was a sort of garden-y themed day.  I also found this fab garden pedestal for $15 …

By the way, that is my own Guacamole hosta there on the right, and June on the left.

Another garden item I purchased was this clay pot brush.

I never knew they made such a thing, but it has a really stiff bristle that is designed to brush the dried dirt out of your clay pots.  How fab!  It was just $2.

I also purchased this vintage enamelware pitcher for $2.  You don’t normally see them with a flower design on them.

I thought this one would make a great vase for my peonies, which are just starting to open.

However, as is sometimes the case with vintage pieces like this, this one was not watertight.  So I thought I’d share my trick for dealing with that.  Just use a jar that fits inside to hold the water and the flowers.

I’ve learned the hard way to always test vintage containers for their water tightness before I fill them with flowers and place them on my table!

The last garden-ish find of the day was a box full of glass cloches.

OK, a couple of them look more like cake stand domes rather than cloches, but potato-potahto.

I love using these to bring more interest to a vignette.  Everything seems slightly more important when it’s under a glass cloche.

Even just a simple photograph.

You may have noticed that I used the largest one while staging the Bunker Hill Blue buffet that I shared on Monday.

A couple of you left comments about my luck in finding a mannequin at the Roseville sales last week, but you’ll never guess what.  I found a genuine dress form this time!

She’s wearing a rather unattractive and slightly holey grey jersey right now, but once I get that off you won’t even recognize her.  I’m saving that transformation for another post.

The guy I bought her from said he found her in the attic of his house.  Every time he went up to the attic to look for something he was freaked out by seeing a headless woman out of the corner of his eye, so he had to get rid of her.

As for the desk, it was such a good bargain that I couldn’t possibly not buy it.

It’s going to need just a little help from my handyman Ken in the form of some glue and clamps.  But aren’t those knobs kind of fantastic?

I’ve reserved ‘find of the day’ status for this amazing vintage portable typewriter.

Isn’t it gorgeous?

It’s quite small and even fits on the Colliers’ Atlas that I purchased last week.

The gal who sold it to me said that her grandmother used to type all of her letters on this typewriter!

All in all, my sister and I had a great time at the Kenny/Armitage sales despite the rain, although we did miss those tacos!


ladies who lunch.

When I was a bit younger if you’d asked me if I wanted to be one of those ‘ladies who lunch’ I would have answered with an emphatic ‘yes’!

Who wouldn’t want to be free as a bird every day, with the disposable income required to meet your gal pals at fancy restaurants for lunch.  I could totally see my future as a lady of leisure.

But in reality I’ve pretty much had a full time job since I left school.  That was … um … egads … 37 years ago.  However, every once in a while I take a staycation and try to pretend for a week that I live that way all the time.  You know, I don’t think I’ve mentioned yet that I’ve been off work all of this week!

But I should have known that I’m not really cut out to be a lady who lunches.  I’m much more of a lady who skips lunch to go to garage sales!

So yesterday my friend Meggan (a.k.a. the thrift doctor) and I headed out to the Roseville city-wide garage sales for the day.  It was a total luxury for me to be able to go to a neighborhood sale that started on a Thursday!  This was the second time Meggan and I have done this sale, we did it two years ago too.

Once again we had a great time and we managed to fill up Meggan’s SUV, and in fact Mr. Q and I had to go back later with our van to pick up this pair of twin beds that I found.

Aren’t they going to be amazing with a coat of paint or two?

I also brought home a mid-century piece.

Technically I think it’s a table and it has these clever little pop out leaves that make it bigger, but I think this would work beautifully as a desk.  The blonde ‘wood’ is all Formica, and the legs are metal.  I’m debating painting the legs … maybe?  Or maybe just cleaning them up.  Either way I’ll definitely clean the piece up a bit, stage it as a desk and then see if I can flip it on Craigslist.

I also ended up with a bit more mid-century glassware.

The crazy thing is that I first purchased the set of tall glasses with a matching ice bowl at one sale, and then found the matching shorter glasses at another!

Seriously, what are the chances?  Cocktails anyone?

I mainly purchased this gorgeous Atlas for the color.  It’s the most lovely shade of green.

But it also has some gorgeous blue and green colored maps inside that would be awesome framed.

I also found this set of books that will be perfect for staging photos, or for filling up a bookshelf.

Obviously I couldn’t resist this little doll sized dresser.  It’s the perfect shade of aqua blue, and you know I’m obsessed with miniature furniture.  Since it was only $5, it had to come home with me.

As for this toy truck, the fact that it was the perfect shade of “Millennial Pink” sold me on it.  It’s missing its cab, but hey, it’s a Ford.  I can see it filled with succulents, or maybe with some pink vintage ornaments at Christmas.

I brought home a few other odds and ends as well like this sweet little copper watering can and a perfectly lovely little Oxalis plant that was only $2.50.

I also found my Lula’s sister …

She may not look like much yet, but I’ll work her over and add some vintage details.  After all, the original Lula started out in similar shape to this and now look at her.

I found a few more bits and pieces that I didn’t have time to photograph, so all in all it was another successful neighborhood garage sale.

All things considered, I think I’ll stick with not being a lady who lunches.  It’s so much more fun this way!






quickie garage sale makeovers.

I was hoping to have a fabulous vintage painted dresser to share with you guys today.  And actually, the dresser itself is done.  However, I haven’t had the chance to take photos of it yet.  I could have raced through some not very well staged photos in the driveway, but this particular dresser deserves better.  I kind of love how it turned out and I want to do it justice, so you’ll have to wait until next week for that.

Instead I’m going to share a few quickie garage sale makeovers today that I’ve finished in the the last couple of weeks.

I purchased this trio of goodies at the Tangletown sales back at the beginning of May.

The vintage chalkboard was the easiest makeover.  The chalkboard portion itself was in pretty rough shape from what I can only imagine were years of abuse.

So I sanded that down with my orbital sander and repainted it with Rustoleum chalkboard paint.

You might be wondering why I didn’t use milk paint for this chalkboard and the simple reason is that I wasn’t sure it would stick to this surface.  I’m not even really sure what the surface of this chalkboard is.  The label calls it a ‘slated blackboard’, but it didn’t feel heavy enough to actually be slate.  What is a ‘slated’ chalkboard anyway?  Do any of you know?

The Rustoleum chalkboard paint worked well on this surface, regardless of what it is.

Aside from cleaning it a little, I left the frame of the chalkboard ‘as is’.  I love how worn and well used it looks.

Once the chalkboard paint was fully dry, I seasoned the chalkboard by rubbing chalk all over it and then wiping it away with a dry cloth.  Next I used one of my favorite stencils to outline some lettering and then filled it in with chalk.  I added some butcher’s string to hang it, and that was it.

While I had the chalkboard paint out, I also added some to the kid-size folding chair.

Here it is before.

In addition to turning the seat into a chalkboard, I also added some Tim Holtz number rub-ons to the chair back.

Then I used one of my favorite methods for adding a chalk drawing.  Check out my ‘how-to’ post on that by clicking the photo below:

You may recall the chair in that post hanging on the wall in my kitchen …

I just love it, so when I saw the nearly identical little chair at the Tangletown sales I knew I had to buy it and make another.

Last up is the random piece of paneling that I purchased for a dollar.  I really don’t know what this came from, but I thought it would make a great sign.

I started off giving it a paint job.

I was playing around a bit with using water and chalk paint and blending two colors into each other.

I used Dixie Belle’s Stormy Seas and Savannah Mist which work beautifully together.  I don’t think I’m ready to attempt this technique on a piece of furniture yet, but it was fun to practice with it on this paneling.

Once I had achieved a look I liked with the paint I let it dry and then added a Prima Marketing transfer.  You can find this particular transfer on for $10 right now.

Part of the reason I purchased this piece of paneling in the first place was because I already had this transfer and I thought it might just fit perfectly … and it did.

In fact the design of the transfer mimics the raised detail on the paneling almost exactly.

I could not have planned this better if I’d tried.

Now I just have to head to my local hardware store and figure out some way to add hangers to this piece.  It’s pretty thin so my normal options won’t work.  It’s also pretty light, so I don’t need something heavy duty.  I’m thinking some sort of adhesive hanger will do the trick.

Be sure to check back next week when I promise I really will share that dresser, and as a bonus I might also have a gorgeous sideboard that I’ve been working on finished too!