Yard Sales and Swaps

I remember when I was a young newlywed, I bought everything new.  Mother was all about keeping up with the Jones’.  Fortunately and unfortunately for me, my first husband had means. I had my own card and I could buy what I wanted, when I wanted. I traveled everywhere, many times just me and my girls or my girls and I, but occasionally with him. It was great on so many levels because I never worried about money.

I didn’t start out that way though. Although I grew up acquiring mother’s expensive tastes, I was also stigmatized by how she and Dad were always at war over money and her extravagant expenditures. I’ll never forget the first time my husband gave me a wad of cash and told me to go out and buy something. cash A few hours later I’d return and hand it all back to him, not being able to spend it. I would get literally nauseous buying anything. So for the first few times, he’d go with me to shop. It still made me nauseous because in those days (the 70’s) $100 for one skirt was outrageous.  Unfortunately, in time, I did get used to it.

After the divorce all that changed.  I was back to normalcy. Yes, I still liked nice things, always will, but I couldn’t always afford them and it really hurt emotionally to exceed my budget. Then there was that gut wrenching feeling I got worrying about how I was going to pay for the stuff if I overdid, which I did way too often. Truthfully, it was a harder habit to break than to acquire.

What had to happen was, this girl had to change her way of thinking and it took awhile. For one, you know that nauseous feeling I used to get spending? Well, I got it again, only now I was feeling sorry for myself having to settle for other people’s junk.  Yup!  That’s how I was. I had to go through a big attitude change.

So here’s a tip: It’s okay to save money. It’s okay not to go crazy buying things you-can’t- afford! Now I’m used to doing things this way and I love it.

Let me show you how I save money and make my home modestly awesome.

Although I’m focusing on the home here, I do find and buy designer clothes at yard sales and consignment stores as well. When I buy new, I look for the bargains.

I have a retro chic look  in my home and I’m good with that. Most of the time people come over and admire a piece and/or jewelry or accessory to an outfit and will ask.”Where did you get that?” Most of the time they already know, but I smile and say, “Yard sale”.

First of all, let me clarify. I do NOT buy undergarments or pants at yard sales. I do not buy beds or used couches. Anything that has been or could possibly have been in contact with someone else’s hoochy does not meet mine. PERIOD!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere is also no buying of electronics. This comes from past experience and not worth the risk. Every once in awhile, I’ll break that rule.  Like when a retired couple planned on moving into a motor home to travel the country. From them we bought a good many things, including approximately 2,000 vintage books and magazines for about $400 give or take. They had owned a book store at one time and had a garage and house full of cool books and mags plus several bookshelves which were included in the purchase. We still have a garage full of books and we’ve already more than doubled our money back on what we spent without even making a dent in the inventory.

With scrupulous shopping, I can often find quality items that were once pricey at retail, for little money.

One of my first awesome buys many years ago were these old vintage poster prints for $10.  I had them framed (three of them) for close to $400. (Don’t tell my husband).  The previous owners were a wealthy family who’d traveled the world, so anything is possible.  I’ve not been able to locate a thing about the artists, so they may be worth nothing or worth thousands.  Who knows?  They are priceless, to me anyway.

We once came across a woman,  who was moving into a small high rise condo in Nashville with a deadline to be out of her recently sold home. She gave us pretty much every valuable item she wasn’t taking with her for $25.00!!! We had to make several trips back and forth filling our van at least three times, to pick them up.  We resold many of the items, but it was a literal steal.

A numbered print of Balboa Park in San Diego

It took me awhile to learn how to shop yard sales, but its so worth it. Just think, the money you save can go for trips and other fun things.

If we aren’t shopping yard sales, we go to swaps and flea markets.  My hubby buys bicycle stuff, jerseys and parts and resells a good many of these on eBay. My yellow bike was a steal at about $20!

I bought my solid oak desk and file cabinet cheap.  Granted, I had to sand and stain them, but where else can you purchase all of that for under $25? (Not counting labor of course). The movie memorabilia fits my screenwriting themed retreat and I even got a larger than life Oscar statuette to boot.

And crystal. I love crystal, but you also need a cabinet for them.  The first cabinet, I inherited from mother, the second my hub found for $15. Within each are crystal, Lladro and china pieces, some of which were mothers and a piece my daughter picked up while traveling with her Badfish dad and various other pieces from estate and yard sales.

Some mid century modern end tables for the living area, (my yoga mat), deco items, like the hand carved bowl under the TV, pottery plates, (I’m a collector of funky candle holders), the fall door wreath, two large glass vases (pictured), and a TV stand plus many other items were all yard sale finds. Many are barely used and some still in their original packaging and never opened. The dog, a Papillon, was found and free. I’m told that if we had papers on him, he’d be a thousand + or so. Too bad lost animals don’t come with papers tied around their necks.

The dresser, we got one day when we were unloading a storage unit in Alabama.


The Ethan Allen came from some guy who asked us if we’d be interested in buying his storage unit. We said, we’d take a look and I about had a cow because it was more like a barn full of furniture and then when my hub made him a ridiculous offer and the guy said yes, I about fell over.   There were several Ethan Allen items, headboards, dining sets and cabinets plus many, many antiques.  A few were not in good shape because the dampness had warped the drawers, but many more were redeemable. I kept the Ethan Allen dresser and a few other things then sold off the rest. Unfortunately, I have a kitty who thinks she can open drawers to climb in and has left her marks in her effort, but… OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The shower curtain was brand new in its original package. The rest was purchased here and there but all are quality items. The jade good luck frog and potpourri, I bought brand new.

The best thing is my style cycles in and out. Since little is invested in any given piece or pieces, if I tire of them, out they go and something else takes its place. Nothing comes in without something going out.

From the bathroom to all my other spaces, there you have it.

Living on a dime and proud of it.


This has been an unusually busy week and today was the worst.

Yesterday, my Cat Chloe had to have surgery. As I mentioned a few blogs ago, she’d been losing weight of late and now she’d stopped eating.  When I took her in before, her blood work had not indicated anything grave, other than a typical (for her age) kidney enzyme count or some such, which only required a diet change. However, I could tell she was losing weight and yet hungry all the time.  She liked her canned food, which was soft, but she was no longer going for the dry. Another age thing?

Well, felines have something they are prone to called resorption. It affects their teeth and gum area and can cause them quite a bit of pain. Fortunately only one tooth was involved, so we had it extracted.  She is fine now.

Doing what she does best – in the daytime anyway.

However, my little gal has to be on pain meds for three days. She was not a happy camper because when she got home, her favorite place to be (outside) was barred.

I couldn’t let her go out because it was now evening and we are known to have coyotes in the neighborhood, so the vet said no. Having been sedated, her reflexes would be subpar for awhile.

So up goes the baby gate and boy did she try to figure that thing out. She was not happy.

baby gate

But all in all, she did get a pretty bandage.


In the meantime, I  add some warm water to her dry food per Dr.’s suggestion, which I did last night. She ate.

The downside to that is that this AM what was left over had drawn ANTS!!!  Lot’s of them, with a trail leading outside, down and around the patio to the fence and disappearing heaven knows where.

I know the neighbors have complained of ants, but they’d not been a problem here.

I looked everywhere for any kind of bug spray and found none.  So, I got out the vinegar. Well, it soaked them but it didn’t kill them, so Home Depot, here I come.

Oh dear!  So many choices. Which do I go for?

Well Spectricide was cheapest, Ortho next and the highest was RAID!  So, I used my “rule of thumb” and got the one priced in the middle.  I figured if Raid was that high, almost twice the others, it must have a ton of stuff I don’t want in the house or…near my pets. The cheapest, I reasoned might not do the trick, I don’t know, but I didn’t want to have to go back if it didn’t.  My animals were starving!  And, I wanted to be able to put their food down and feel it wouldn’t be contaminated.

I needn’t have worried. They’ve been sleeping most of the day anyway.

I woke Ferguson, he looks worried probably wondering what I’m up to now.

In addition to spray I got some of these little “traps”.  It says they’ll take the stuff to the nest and they’ll all be gone. I know how tenacious these little guys can be. I did the tour in Arizona of the Biodome where they had put several species of ants in there and the little guys took over and…eradicated all others!  Nope. I wasn’t taking any chances. These were little guys.

The first go around with vinegar didn’t do much. When I got back from the store, they’d already called in reinforcements. What a mess! I couldn’t think what on earth they could be going for. I don’t have a messy floor. I’d put the food up. What in hell’s name did they want, as one came crawling up my leg and then the other?!

I had to get in all the places I could think of. I laid them by the fence where they’d disappeared to and behind planters next to the doors. Everywhere the trail lead in.

Ant bait

I made sure to lay them in places where the pets couldn’t get them, not that they would, but just in case.

So…then I had to clean up the mess of ant carcasses and while I was at it, I bathed the dog. Ferguson, our Papillon, although a spaniel derivative,  hates baths but he actually did good this time and I even brushed his teeth without him fussin’ too much.


So by the time my two are ready to eat this evening I’m sure things will be fine.

I hope.

Killing ants is a lot of work.