Embracing The Imperfect Is Affordable!



I’m at a pretty interesting point in my life in terms of collecting.  My little spot at the antique store is doing well & I’m turning my reasonably priced items over at a rapid pace (free cool trash finds are just win-win!).  I’m really getting into my new role as a ‘trash antique dealer’, for lack of a better name.  The people who run the store are great & the other dealers I’ve met I like a whole lot, but they are definitely more of the ‘real’ antique dealers.  Sure, I go to auctions, estate sales & get occasional house clean-outs to help with, but I shy away from ‘perfect’ (since I’m ultimately going to manage to damage it anyway), and buy (or trashpick the yard sale cast-offs) the low-rent boxes of  ‘whatever’ and embrace the chips, tears, stains, off colors, & mismatched, so that I can then offer them up……for cheap!

All I know, is I’m having a bunch of fun being able to continue picking & collecting the way I always have, and filling up my booth with bargains for other people to find! 

How about you?  How do you feel about collecting whatever it is you collect?  Do you go for perfect or are you ok with an items ‘issues’?


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Why I Love Mosaics (Or How I Accidentally Break Things).

Here are a few pictures of china I recently found at a flea market. The first picture shows what the plates looked like before I owned them for all of five minutes. Really. Dropped the bag & broke three plates & the handle off the tea pitcher minutes after I walked away from the vendor.

I’m not what one would describe as graceful. I spill things on me, tend to tear shirts by getting caught on things, and always have a bruise or cut from where I walked into a door handle or too close to a corner on something. My boyfriend gave me the nickname ‘Crash’, within a few weeks of us being together (it’s been a few years now…). As a result of my natural tendency to spill, tear, or break, I shy away from collecting breakables or wearing anything white. I’m not clumsy, I just get distracted mentally & have never really cared if I tore something or spilled something on myself so it’s not like I take great pains to avoid it (it makes sense in my head). With my booth at the antique store, at a yard sale, flea market, or auction, I’ll now buy things I normally wouldn’t to sell. But, the pictures above are a reminder that I really, really, need to steer clear of breakables.

How about you? Are there certain things you inadvertently damage so you avoid collecting them?


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Why I Trash Pick Bowls

If you’ve read any other part of this blog, you know I trashpick. I also have a dog & a few cats. While many would argue that a few stainless steel pet bowls would make a whole lot of sense, I don’t use them. Mainly because when I find a bowl, I’m not sure if I’ll end up using it as a people or pet bowl & I don’t like to eat out of plastic or stainless steel, thus, I tend to not acquire them. Anyway, as a result of my stainless steel reluctance, I trashpick bowls or score them for next to nothing at flea markets or yard sales when I find a larger one I really like. As a result of not using the virtually unbreakable stainless steel pet bowls, I tend to have plenty of material to make mosaics with (or at least amass the variety of colors & patterns to make mosaics with). The cool Mikasa white/blue bowl lasted about three years before a cat fight & falling chair broke it. The flea market trashpicked blue stoneware one held up for about a year before it broke. Ok, that one may have been my fault – I’m a ‘breaker’ (boyfriend has nicknamed me ‘crash’), which is why I stay away from collecting breakable stuff. I’m not clumsy, just a bit rough on things at times…

How about you? What do you trashpick that you use for your pets?


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Items Found In The Cedar Blanket Chest


Awhile back, I found a great cedar blanket chest (I LOVE cedar – really, what’s not to love? Smells great & helps preserve stuff!). Here is a sample of what was inside:

I love when an item is trash picked & you find even more cool stuff stashed in it somewhere!

How about you? Have you found almost or equally great items in something you trash picked?

(read post about said cedar chest here: http://wp.me/sZyJ6-577 )

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Blown Away By Trash Picking Windmills!

Things have picked up since this post I started last night:

The wind has been knocked out of my sails. Well, sort of. A friend needed a vacuum, which I found, but it didn’t work & try as they did, they couldn’t fix it. I rarely pick something that truly doesn’t work. I have to say, it’s made me feel a little off my game. But, I do try to look at the positives, & it’s cooling off outside, which means I can now pay attention to the stuff on the front & back porch that seems to have accumulated (I really, really don’t function well in heat).

(The preceding paragraph was written last night, prior to the paragraph below about my windmill finds this morning)

A little about how things have picked up:

This morning, I went out & found two awesome yard windmills! One looks to be about 8ft; the other perhaps 5ft. Interestingly enough, I picked them from one of my regular routes, where I always noticed them thinking how cool they looked in the solidly suburban neighborhood, developed in the mid 50’s-60’s. In the back of my mind however, I just knew, that if the house were to be sold, the windmills would be the first thing the new owners would take out. The windmills were put to the curb, but a tacky nylon decorative flag was protruding from the porch – whatever…my gain! I’d also like to note, for the pic, the top was just thrown on the mount temporarily. My guess is there is some way the windmill is supposed to be put together, but that’s where my boyfriend steps in as the put-together man. I’m the finder.

How have your finds been lately? Have you found anything in the trash that you had your eye on?

[a big thank you to my boss, who let me use his pick-up to get the mounts that I initially had to leave behind]

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Bad Yard Sale Signs

All summer long, my boyfriend and I enjoyed pointing out to each other the terrible signs other folks put up to advertise their yard sale. For me, a terrible yard sale sign is one that is illegible, confusing, or can’t easily guide me to the yard sale. We actually developed a goal to photograph them, but it’s hard to take time out in a collecting frenzy just to try to illustrate a point. We did, however, manage to get a pic of one that, well, look & see for yourself:

Perhaps you noticed the three arrows pointing in different directions. I’d like to point out that the arrow pointing to the right & the one pointing straight ahead would not have lead you to the yard sale. It was the arrow pointing to the left! I’m a lefty & went on instinct & somehow divined where to go…the houses & neighborhoods are close together & I know the area well where the yard sale was, otherwise, we would have passed. I also considered the potential prankster factor, and after some minor sleuthing at the yard sale, did in fact verify the sign had not been altered.

It seems basic enough, but it amazes me how many people that have yard sales hit a brain freeze & muck up their signage. I’m not one for presentation, and I feel signs to direct people to your yard sale should be simple, yet, so many people just get it wrong. What makes a good sign to me? For starters, one that clearly points you in the correct direction…

How about you? Have you come across any bad yard sale signs lately?

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Collecting, Keeping & Mounting Insects

The horsefly I found today reminded me to post my toad picture. The toad was hanging out under a planter pot in a wooden planter carrier I wanted to sell in the yard sale (and did) we had awhile back. He finally made his way somewhere into the massive lily-of-the-valley spread I have in the front of the house.

While I’ve always been fascinated with bugs, critters, & nature, it never occurred to me to actually keep any of the ‘naturally’ deceased ones to mount, until I found a 95% intact Luna moth over a year ago. Unfortunately, the furthest I got was putting what I’ve found – Luna moth, dragonfly, horse fly, some-beetle-who’s-name-escapes me, and a cicada – was getting them into airtight containers that are on a shelf…

So, seriously, what’s the best, easiest way for a trash-finding procrastinator to mount these? Actually, I’m looking to ‘preserve’ them more than anything….still a mount?

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Establishing A Trash Picking Limit


While I am aware trash picking dazzles & mesmerizes me, I really try to keep a lid on coming across as too much of a fanatical ‘join us’ ambassador. Yes, the topic comes up daily with me & virtually anyone I have a conversation with, but when something is very much a part of your life, I think that’s natural. However, even I know when to curb finding. I do have some very thoughtful-to-the-picking-lifestyle enablers in my life who like to offer hints, piles they passed, etc, but there are times it’s akin to offering liquor to someone in recovery……..for instance;

………My boss comes into work today after an early morning jog in a summer resort town close to work & says, “You need to be there for finds. Have you gone there? There’s tons of stuff everywhere!” & then offers to LET ME GO PICKING for a bit…..(have I mentioned all the various finds I’ve added at work that would have otherwise have been purchased? Personally, I think I’m an asset…even if I do give a spectacularly stellar mediocre interest toward my job). I declined! Why? Because I know ME, and I know I would never have returned to work, and would have easily made three+ trips home to dump stuff I found. I still have stuff from a few weeks ago on the front porch (ok, no rarity, but these are actual keepers!) & a few antique book cases waiting for a placement somewhere other than just carefully placed in the living room, out of the TV line-of-sight.

How about you? Are you able to identify when it’s time to hold off picking for a bit?

See previous post related to hitting a limit: http://wp.me/pZyJ6-11

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Trash Picking Household Appliances

When my boyfriend & I REALLY need an ordinary, everyday item for the house or garage/shop, I won’t find it for awhile, and then when I do, they’re everywhere. Case in point, the dehumidifiers in the picture above I found on the same trash day, within a mile of each other. If it’s a request from a friend or coworker, I’ll find it the next day, or at the latest, within a few weeks. As a result, I try to anticipate when I may NEED an actual item – often it’s more about when do I give up on the one in use? For instance, the side of my toaster falls off on occasion when I move it, & the push down lever is kind of testy, but otherwise, I’m fine with it….

My boyfriend had needed a dehumidifier for a few months as his basement suddenly started to take in moisture & asked me to keep an eye out. Four months later I still hadn’t come across one, we went through a period of weekend transports with MY dehumidifier & my boyfriend thought I kept forgetting he needed it (because I enjoyed moving a somewhat bulky appliance up & down the stairs to the car over & over…and please…..forget to trashpick a requested item with an immediate use?), SO I finally broke down and bought a brown metal dinosaur at a yard sale. Many people would agree this may qualify as a case of just-break-down-and-buy-it-already, but I choose to disagree. We found a temporary (albeit a slightly inconvenient) solution that worked until we could trash pick one, or find a newer one reasonably priced at a yard sale. Keep in mind, MY idea of a reasonably priced item is more like a 1952 price, since I KNOW I will eventually find it in the trash.

….Naturally, after I bought the yard sale dehumidifier, I trash picked three, much nicer & more efficient ones within the month.

How about you? At what point do you just give in & buy something (new or used), or upgrade for a nicer, newer version?

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If You Really Want Something, Don’t Put It Down Or Remove Your Grip

We were at one of my favorite flea markets (despite some of the quite pushy codgers), held twice a year for a local historical society, and my boyfriend learned this the hard way. He found this really nice bench that had a great darker, aged wood, and was thinking about it. It didn’t have a price on it, so, hands in pockets, he asked the vendor how much she wanted, and she gave a very reasonable price. He nodded his head, continued looking at other things while he said, more to me than the vendor, “yeah. I’ll get it”… The words were barely out of his mouth when another woman picked it up & gave the vendor the money. He was a bit flabbergasted and looked at me in disbelief, shaking his head & stating, um, a little loudly, “Are you serious? She bought that right out from under me!” While it sucks to have something you wanted go to someone else, I feel that’s just how it goes if you don’t communicate properly.  Additionally, this is a topic I’ve told him & warned him of before & like it or not, you have to communicate properly. Guess it’s just one of those lessons you have to learn the hard way.

When I’m interested in an item that doesn’t have a price, I hold onto it or put my hand on it (for larger items) while I’m asking. If I’m finding lots of great things I am definitely going to buy & just can’t hold it all in two hands, I tell the seller “I want to buy these but I’m not done looking at your items.” And then ask, “Is there somewhere I can place these while I look?”. If there’s an item I’m not sure about, I won’t put it aside, but usually carry it with me while I make up my mind. My feeling is, if you have it in your hand, or have told the vendor you are going to buy an item but are still looking at their things & have gotten an acknowledgement, then your claim is good. Otherwise, all bets are off.

Now, here’s a situation where I was the victor due to someone else’s lack of communicating an intent to buy. I was at a yard sale, and there was a really cool, handmade knitted blanket. There were a lot of really cool things & I was working my way toward it, when a woman asked, “How much?”. The seller responded with a ridiculously low price, the woman slightly nodded, and walked away. She walked away as in, down the block. As soon as she put it down & it was apparant she was passing on the blanket, I added it to my pile. About five minutes later, I was done looking, so I paid up. As I was gathering my items, the other woman returned. She looked a little disheartened & said to the seller, “oh…I wanted that, I just had to go get some money.” She never stated she wanted it, or asked to have it put aside while she went to get money. I hesitated in case the woman gave the seller any kind of hassle (I’d offer it up just so the seller wouldn’t have to deal with crazy neighbor lady again…), but the woman realized her own error in not communicating properly.

Comments? Any thoughts or experiences? How do you handle similar situations, either as a buyer or seller?


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