What is a monkeybox?

When I was a little girl, we had a pet monkey named Amanda. My Dad worked in the produce business, so each night he brought home that days culls in a big box - spotty cucumbers, pithy apples, limp celery, moldy oranges and the like. We called it a monkeybox. It was really just trash, but my Mom would take each piece of fruit and trim it, pare it and cut it up to make a beautiful fruit platter for Amanda. Even though it was deemed trash by one, it still had life left in it and was good for the purpose we needed it. That's how I live my life - thrifting, yard saling, looking for another's trash to be my treasure.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

A Day in the Life of A Junker

Yesterday proved to be an interesting garage sale day, more so in stories, people watching and learning lessons, rather than actual buys. As I mentioned before, there is a big craft fair in my neighboring town. This is the small town that I go to each and every weekend looking for and finding sales. This is the town where I find most everything vintage I buy as is is an old established town full of teeny houses with elderly people. It is vintage heaven. It is where I found my paintings for 50¢ that I sold for nearly $500.00, it is where my wealth of vintage tablecloths came from for $1.00 each, my aprons for 25¢ each and so on and so on. It is a junkers paradise. It is also home of the Super Cheap Thrift. And home to the big Spring Clean-up where I have scored so many fabulous FREE things. So, you get the idea, the junk is plentiful every weekend and at affordable prices.

But! The weekend of the Clothesline Fair (named that because back in the day, ladies displayed their quilts for sale on clotheslines) and all that changes. Oh, the junk is still plentiful. In fact, it is more plentiful than ever. There are sales at almost every house. There are tables along the highway full of junk. There are big houses with old furniture, chippy barn doors and piles of quilts stacked about. But, these are not my sort of sales. These are not digger sales or "How much?" sales. Last week's wrinkled apron at the bottom of the box for 25¢ is now neatly pressed, tied with an elegant bow and priced with a paper tag on a string reading "Old Handmade Chicken Scratch Apron $6.50". And, there are rows of these freshly pressed aprons hanging artistically on chippy old doors and on fabulous Hoosier cabinets (priced to sell at a mere $950.00!).

Despite this, I still enjoy going out this weekend to look. I am amazed that people shopping the same circuit I am are able to price a beat up old chair for $50.00 when I have one exactly like it in my backyard that I got for $1.00 in the very same town. Or, better yet, in someone's Spring Clean Up reject pile for free. I am a amazed by the prices. But, I look and I learn something new by reading the paper price tags and I watch the other shoppers. I saw a couple stroking an old door, chippy with green paint and deeming it "spectacular" as they forked out $85.00 for it. $85.00 for a door! Eh gads. It was a cool old door. But I see them by the road. A lot.

Then there's the "We're from the big city, so let's go out to country bumpkinland and buy old stuff cheap" people. I think they can go out and get a super cheap deal form someone that doesn't know any better and make a fortune on it. And, I'm sure it does happen. But, those folks set up this weekend are not foolish. They know their stuff. There is the occasional random sale with a goody mixed in, but for the most part, these are the pros selling their wares. At one such random sale, I missed an old ivory painted step stool -the kind where the steps fold up under the chair, for $5.00. I was headed to look at it when another man looked at it and bought it. It was a deal, very nice and painted in a great color. But, I already have one, so that is fine. Plus, this guy looked like he was going to actually use it and not resell it for big $. At that same sale, there was a young yuppie couple (are there still yuppies?) looking at an old table that was stacked with books and old computer printers. It was priced $75.00. They were sniggering and talking about how they could sell it for at least $200.00 and they they offered the couple $25.00 for it. I left before I heard their answer. I just didn't want to know. This was just a young couple selling baby stuff, books and a few neat old things like the stool and the table. They could have used that $75.00 - or at least $50.00. My first sale of the day. There is a travel trailer behind, the sign, so that gives you an idea of the size of the SALE sign. Here I bought an old thermos for my collection for 25¢ and a big heavy bulky item to be seen below for $5.00. Keep reading....
This sale was two doors up from the first sale. The house in between was having an Estate Jewelry Sale, but I didn't go. (Sounded pricey and not somewhere a 12 year old boy prowling.) They are putting a new highway in front of these three houses, so we were able to pull up and walk to all of them without much trouble. Except for carrying my big heavy bulky $5.00 purchase. At this sale I bought a 1989 magazine with reprints of Marilyn Monroe's nudie pics and a bunch of old pin ups, a Calvin and Hobbes book and a book from an Art Museum all for 75¢. My best find of the day was at this sale. A compliment! The lady having it, walked towards us with a "Hello ladies!" then spotted The Bean and said, "I mean Mr. and Misses!, no wait, Brother and Sister!" and I said, "Maybe Mother and Son?" and she said, "Nooooo...you look good girl!" Now, I don't look good, but I took it as a compliment. Although, to have a 12 year old, I could easily be as young as 30, so I really don't know how to take that now as I think about it! (The Bean is often mistaken for being at least 16, so that is part of the issue.)
I cannot believe you can't see any cars in this photo at this sale. There were at least 20 cars there, traffic coming from each direction and, while we were there, the fire truck, ambulance and rescue squad came screaming through trying to get through the traffic. Here I bought a Tournament Chinese Checker game (that ended up being short a few pieces) for 25¢, a tool/knife thing for The Bean to wear on his belt for $1.00 and the item below for $1.00.
I'm going to display all my beaded earrings on it so I can find them and actually wear them! Yea, me!
This is the sale that had the stepstool and old table. I didn't buy anything here. I think putting the clothes rack in front of everything else is a bad idea. But, I never go looking for clothes.
This was set up in front of the local flea market. The booth owners set up and sell things pretty cheaply. That guy unloading the truck had a bunch of vintage rickrack last spring that he sold me for 10¢ a card. I think I got 50 cards for $5.00. I didn't see any yesterday. He did have a couple bunches of lucite grapes that he told me to make an offer on, but I didn't because I was thinking 50¢ and he was probably thinking $5.00, but then again, maybe not. Here I bought two old candy tins and something else which I honestly do not remember, but I know I paid 75¢ for all three items. Thrifting senality has struck.
So, here's a photo of my house. Yea, I wish. This is one monster of a house and they are constantly adding on, adding big iron gates, a pool house, etc. It is fabulous. They sell antiques with big old prices. This is were the $85.00 door was purchased and everything was so high. Somehow, I prowled around and managed to spend $1.55 on two books on yard saling, a bushel basket and one other thing, which is almost embarrassing at a sale where the cheapest things were $20.00. But, the lady having the sale was as nice to me as if I had bought the $950.00 Hoosier Cabinet, so that was a welcome surprise. She was mainly nice because we bought an item that she had set out for $1.00 and wondered if anyone would buy. Want to see what it is?
Mmmmmm...Ramen Noodles. Permanent Ramen Noodles in a fine China bowl. Ramen Noodles, known in our house as Big Noodles, are The Bean's favorite. We all shared a nice conversation about our love of Big Noodles which lead to a conversation about names for things including Basketti (what her son called Spaghetti) and Perzert (what The Bean called Dessert). The big noodles are sitting on the coffee table and startle me every time I seem them.
At one of the sales FREE box along the way, I found this old chamis from a Ford Dealership from the 1960's. Nothing says "Merry Christmas" like a Santa Chamis!

Here's the thermos bottle for my "I bought a bunch of thermoses one day and decided to keep them and call it a collection" collection. (See my header!)
I bought this nice old basket with a swivel handle at a sale I didn't photograph. Three ladies were on the third day of having the sale together and none of them had ever a) seen this basket, b) remembered owning this basket or c) had any idea where this basket came from. It was full of hair ribbons and barrettes, but I took them out and asked about the basket, so maybe that is part of the remembering it issue. Everything was half price and no one knew where it came from or who to give the money to, so I think they settled on 50¢, then halved it to 25¢. Let's talk about Math a minute. Everything was half price and I bought four items marked 25¢ each. But instead of adding 25 x 4 to equal $1.00 and halving it to 50¢, they halved each 25¢ item to 10¢ making it a total of 40¢. Why do people make easy things difficult?
Here's that heavy bulky $5.00 item, my only true treasure of the day.

An old mantle. I don't have a fireplace. I don't have anywhere to use it. But, it was $5.00! It's worth that in parts alone. My plan is to sit it in the backyard by the fence, put potted plants on it, hang a window above it, plant orange flowers inside it, sit a couple old metal lawn chairs in front of it and BAM!...a faux fireplace in the truest sense of the word!

Cool, right?

Today we are actually going to the Clothesline Fair itself. I like to look at the crafts to get ideas of things I can make. There is the $5.00 Birdhouse booth where we usually buy a new birdhouse. The guy makes them out of found objects and they are pretty cool. And, there is one more sale I missed yesterday that had tables covered in vintage tablecloths and old pottery piled on it. I know I can't afford anything, but it will be interesting to look. And who knows, I might find a treasure!


  1. I have a mantle like that in my bedroom. You've seen it on the blog before, with the pottery on it, mirror above it.

    There is no fireplace there, just the mantle. LOL

    (I paid WAY WAY more than $5 for mine. Of course, I didnt have Jack then, and I had a jobby job so I actually had money. LOL)

  2. I'm jonesin to go thrifting even though I have no business bringing in more junk.

    Love,love,love the mantel.

  3. Anonymous1:04 PM

    great, great finds! you are so lucky! I now have the urge to go

  4. I guess what anyone considers a bargain (like an $85 door!) depends on your frame of reference. If you only look at clothes at the mall, then the clothes at Goodwill are dirt cheap. If you buy fifty cent clothes on people's driveways like I do(and I'm talking Jones New York, Liz Claiborne, Talbots...) then Goodwill is way too spendy!

    Love the garden fireplace idea! I'm still trying to get my husband over the old wicker rocker I planted with succulents in the seat!

  5. I love reading about your junking adventures. And the mantle....I NEED a mantle. $5 - are you kidding me? The house we moved into this summer has a fireplace with a brick surround, but the previous owners never got around to putting in a mantle. I'm always on the lookout.

  6. Anonymous5:53 PM

    i have been searching for a mantle for cheap and they are always 95+. I love your idea for using it in the back yard, super cute:) Great post!

  7. I'm dying to find a mantle like that--way to go! I can't believe it was only $5. Wow.

    And the fake bowl of ramen noodles has to qualify as the most bizarre thing you've ever bought, right? LOL

  8. What a huge sale, and the mantle was the best! I just sold a mantle via ebay for $213! I have an old one in front of a bookshelf,with a cupboard on top.So I guess you can use them anywhere, without the fireplace!

  9. What a FUN weekend!!

  10. I love the mantel...it's toooo cute! You got some awesome treasures there girlfriend, but I was crackin up on the ramen noodle dish...my kids eat them all the time!



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