Thrifting #7

Some nice things I saw that weren’t quite for me:

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This wood bowl was beautiful. I think it was marked either $12 or $14, and it was a half-price day. A nice piece of wood, well worth a few dollars. Too orange for me though, and I have no good spot to display it. It would just become clutter.

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I was excited about this painting until I saw the two people standing on the beach. Ugh, why do artists have a ruin an idyllic view by adding people? Rhetorical question; I know most people don’t think like I do. Also, it was marked $45.

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A tiny box of shells. Only $1 and the wood was pretty, but the shells were dusty (with no way to open the box to wash them) and the background was orange (my least favorite color).

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A pair of sea-urchin-like frames at $2.50 each. I was really tempted to buy these. Perfect pattern, perfect colors. Looking at them now, I still feel that pull. But, I already have a frame I love even more that’s waiting for a picture. I don’t want to get more frames until I’ve filled that one. I’m trying to start as few new projects as possible. I’m a bit sad I left them behind, but I don’t regret it.

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A 3-D fish! Pretty big! In a frame! But, it was mostly yellow (a color I associate with body oil stains, smoke-stained walls, and old crumbling plastic), and the face was a bit too goofy. Made my heart jump at first glance, though. I think it was $8 or $10.

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A belt with a half nautilus shell attached. I already have a thrifted nautilus shell, and this one was cracked and chipped. It would  have only been $2 though.

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An instant shell collection! I liked the baler shell in back, but they were all rather too small, uninteresting, and yellowish for my taste. I own enough shells already, so I’ve become picky. $20 is a bit cheaper than I’d expect for this shop, but still enough that I’d balk on price alone as a factor.

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More big yellow fish! I tried imagining them with a coat of spray paint, but their shapes were (again) a bit too goofy for my taste. $2.50 each would have been a good deal if I’d liked them.

And what I did buy:

Lots of supplies for our pet rats’ cage, and a couple things for me.

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A $4 bar of soap for 50 cents. I thrifted a 5-pack of this brand for $3 a while ago and only have a couple left, so I was excited to find this one. It’s a bit battered, but still useable. A very strong rose scent.

I’ve been browsing rings online intermittantly, and I don’t like 99.9% of them at all. But I do like ones made of white metal with a band of decoration inset all around the circumference.

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I’m so, so lucky I found this one. I was at the checkout counter with some rat cage supplies (mostly curtain rings), and as I waited to pay I saw a small tray of rings beside me, with this one right on top. I wasn’t excited yet because most rings don’t fit my big fingers, but I tried slipping it on, and not only did it fit, it was comfortable! I quickly asked how much, and couldn’t hand over the $1 fast enough. I wore it out of the shop, and spent the rest of the day admiring the iridescence flashing in the sun. It is perfect!

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The next item is something I thought I’d never see in an op-shop. When I first saw it, I dismissed it, thinking “Huh, that looks like a (item), haha,” and kept browsing. Finally the flow of people dispersed enough that I could get close enough to pick it up, and it actually was


…a glass fishing float!

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I just held it for a moment, disbelieving. Once it hit me, I didn’t feel excitement, or happiness, or relief. I just thought, “Why did it have to be purple?” I was disappointed. There was dirt inside. It wasn’t the green shiny bauble I wanted.

I tried to convince myself otherwise. Maybe it had been made clear and had turned purple with sunlight exposure, like some old glass does. Maybe it would look good in my decor, even as the only spot of purple. Maybe one day I’d have a bunch of common green and blue floats, then it would look like the quirky one of the collection.

I almost put it back on the shelf. I don’t want to buy things that don’t excite me. Then I told myself, “It’ll probably only cost 3 or 4 dollars. It’s not what I wanted, but it’s probably as close as I’ll ever find under 20.” I finally went up to the pay counter, and after some ribbing from the volunteer (“Is that all? Think you can afford it?”) I managed a polite smile and a self-deprecating answer (“I hope so, but probably not.”) so they’d finally give me a price.

50 cents.

I paid, took the reciept, carefully wrapped my plastic bag around the float a few times for meagre cushioning, and left. Still no excitement. A little relief that it was so cheap, a bit of worry about breaking it before I got home, and a lot of introspection about why I wasn’t the happiest person on earth right now.

This was my holy grail. Throughout my life, every time I visited a beach, I’d search the sand and vegetation for a glint of glass or a bit of net. I devoured websites and forums about floats, reading the words of people richer or luckier than me who owned these jewels from the tide. I imagined my own small collection, blue and green glass orbs shining in the light. Now I’d actually found one, but it somehow wasn’t cause for joy. Wrong color, wrong circumstances.

Once home, I washed it, did some research to see if it was authentic or a tourist reproduction (answer: I don’t know, but probably a repro), and found a spot for it inside a paua shell where it wouldn’t roll off. I’m glad I have it. But I still would rather have found a prettier one. One that isn’t purple. Oh well.

I thrifted a fishing float! Yay.

8 June

Over the last  couple weeks, I’ve:

  • cleaned the floor drain in the ensuite bathroom (I had to dig the grill out of the grout to access the blocked pipe, so it had never been cleaned in the 12 years since the house was built), removed a fist-sized clump of hair, a finger-sized wedge of wood, a black solidified sediment about an inch thick, three handfuls of grit and sand, and lots of black and gray goop
  • hired someone to haul the huge pile of plant debris away, along with the disintigrating click-clack sofa we’ve had in the front room for months, and several long metal curtain tracks that have been sitting beside the rubbish bins since we bought the house


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  • sawed down about 30 giant agave attenuatas (I needed a wheelbarrow to move some) growing along the side of the house and offered them for free on the front lawn (all gone within 5 hours), leaving about 15 still growing in the rock wall

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I felt a great sense of accomplishment from getting these things done, and look forward to seeing what else I can do this month.

Expecting a light work week, I resumed painting the exterior of the house last Sunday, scraping away gravel and dirt so I could paint the lowest edges. I then got called in to work Monday, went thrifting Tuesday, and got called in to work again on Wednesday and Thursday. Good for the bank account, bad for house painting plans. I believe I’ll have time Friday, Saturday, and Sunday to finish the downpipes and eaves.

After finishing work today, I realised tomorrow was rubbish morning and scrambled to fill the bin before darkness fell. Easily done by removing some organic matter from our yard.

I gave our tibouchina tree a trim, then removed the half-dead wisteria from the fence.


The above photo is from last year. By now, the right half had turned into dead, crumbly sticks and the left half had reached its tendrils into the inaccessible part of our neighbor’s yard again. I was sick of cutting it back, so today I just removed it.

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I’ll need to hammer some boards back in place from the wisteria growing between them and popping them out.

The remaining plants are orange knifophia, blue and white agapanthus, orange daylilies, and red hippeastrum. They really need some division and care, but that’s a project for another day. At least they’re no longer drowning in grass.

Finally, I sawed away a few agave stumps and pulled up clumps of roots to top off the bin.

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I’m slowly working left, pulling out and sawing away everything. I’ve been scattering marigold seeds as a short-term solution while I think of what I want to really do with this area.

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I’m glad I had to fill the bin today. The weather was perfect and the results are satisfying. This weekend, I’ll treat myself to some new leather gardening gloves.






22 May

Vine cutting, continued…

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The morning weather was cool and misty. Perfect for outdoor work.

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I listen to podcasts on my phone, which helped to pass the time.

I haven’t encountered any startling bugs or critters yet. Lots of tiny lizards, but I love seeing them.

By noon, I was nearing the end of the fence.

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And after an hour for lunch and two more hours of work, I’d reached it!

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Half of that time was spent clearing weeds in the rocks.

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I think it’s at least one truckload; maybe two. Maybe I’ll get the rest of those vines in that corner tomorrow morning. Wednesday I plan to saw off many of the giant agaves and put them by the side of the road for anyone who wants them. That’ll make it easier to reach some vines and weeds behind them.

I’m so proud of what I’ve done over the past couple days. I’ll reward myself with a day of thrifting tomorrow, then arrange for someone to haul away the pile before it kills the grass.

21 May

This morning I pulled some weeds.

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Then green-headed ants swarmed all over the weeds.

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As usual whenever I work in the garden, one got inside my glove and bit me.

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I planted marigolds in this spot years ago, and they’ve self-seeded ever since.

So I stopped until the throbbing pain faded.

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The ants were still swarming after 10 minutes, so I moved to another area.

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Twenty minutes of work, and I had filled another bag.

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But the progress was so slow while constantly stopping to stuff bits in the bag, that I didn’t bother fetching another. I just went for it, to see how much I could get done before I got bitten or tired.

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After an hour, I’d taken a good bite out of the greenery.

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Still a lot left to go. I got a quote a few months ago to get all the vines removed, but it was way more than I’d expected. I’ll see if I can get a cheaper quote once I remove all the vines that I’m able to reach.

After a drink, I returned to balancing on top of the rocks in the hot sun.

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Got another good chunk removed before my partner got home and it was time to stop.

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I had a look, and the vines thin out a bit to the left, so hopefully that’ll go faster.

I poisoned the rightmost vine with a drill and undiluted roundup. Drilled about 15 holes.

It’s good to see the fence again.




11 May

I had quite a chunk of daylight left after work today, and I spent most of it in the front yard.

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Someday I’ll dig up all these ugly strelitzia stumps, but just a quick clip today.

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These double-flowering may bushes are beautiful when flowering, and ugly sticks all the rest of the year.

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Now I won’t have to shove them out of the way as I mow.

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That’s a few weeks’ worth of full rubbish bins right there.



10 May

Today I decluttered one of our kitchen corner cabinets. I faintly remember doing this about a year ago, but it didn’t stick.

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My main goal was to find our package of padlocks to replace the broken one on our garden shed. I knew they were in there somewhere.

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I moved a handful of stuff to the garage, another handful to the donate outbox, tossed two grocery bags’ worth, wiped the shelves, and organised everything. I kept a few things I probably don’t need, but I’m happy with the progress. There’s so much room in there now!

Thrifting #6

I’ve seen some nice stuff in the op-shops over the past few weeks, and some odd stuff too.

The things I didn’t buy:

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Good, cheap furniture is rare. I would have bought this immediately had I seen it a year ago. Barley-twist legs, solid wood, only $50, and there’s a perfect empty spot for it in my house. A little sanding and spray paint would make it great to display decor items.

But, my tastes have changed to favor a simpler, more functional style. I decided that, although it was a great thing at a good price, someone else would appreciate it more. The next time I visited that shop and saw it was gone, for a moment I regretted not buying it, but I thought about my reasoning again and the regret quickly passed.

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This painting caught my eye, but while the boats and water are nicely painted, the buildings are very poorly done. I don’t quite remember how much it was, but I do know it was $25+.

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A nice canvas print. I think it was marked $10. I loved the color of the water and hint of sand, but I’ve never really liked palm trees in art.

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I was really sad to leave this pendant light behind. Beautiful wood, undamaged glass, fairly big, and only $20. But, all our ceilings are minimum height for building code, which means only flush-mount fixtures for us. A real steal for someone else, though.

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This palm-sized block of fused seashells was neat, especially with the information. I was tempted to get it for the novelty, but it was crumbly and useless. I think it was marked $4.

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I tried to get a look at the other fish on these coasters, but they were tied too tight to see. I didn’t like the stamps and writing, but even without those parts, the fish images would have been just a bit too tacky for my taste. Although only $2, they stayed.

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I carried this hand-sized sea turtle around with me for a good 15 minutes. A bit pricey at $4, it was pretty wood that would only get prettier with a clean. But, the front fins bothered me too much. They were too small, and an uncomfortable angle that didn’t mesh with the realism of the rest of the carving. Plus, I already own a wooden sea turtle that I like much more.

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A large plush ray and crab. Unusual and interesting, but I’ll never buy a second-hand plushie. They’re grime sponges that are difficult to clean thoroughly without damage. No price stickers on plushies at this store.

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This one was just wierd. I can understand why someone would want a decorative figure of two seahorses. I don’t understand why the manufacturer made the male pregnant. Is this some sort of cutesy family ornament? I can’t quite wrap my head around it. Tacky to the extreme.

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When I spotted this coral tealight holder, I thought I could remove the black glass and spray paint the coral to make it nicer. But I couldn’t get the glass to even wobble, so my $1.50 stayed in my pocket.

What I bought:

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My heart pounded when I spotted this poster. It’s very similar to one I love that has pride of place in our TV room. It wasn’t until I got it home that I noticed how much more crowded and flattened the fish are in this new poster, and that the grouper fish are labeled ‘gropers.’ Oh well, it’s not bad enough for me to regret spending $1 on it.

I’m really enjoying the fancy soap bars that I’ve previously bought while op-shopping, so I bought another cute little unopened box for $1. I was pleasantly surprised to see the dragonflies. They won’t be used for a while, but I’m looking forward to it.

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I bought this for $15. It’s very heavy wood with some pretty grain hidden under dark red stain. I did break my rule of knowing where something will go before I buy it. The big, deep drawer will be useful. It might be a nightstand or a sofa side table. I’m in the process of sanding it down, and it’s looking much lighter.







26 April

A couple weeks ago I typed up a weekly cleaning schedule and stuck it on the fridge. It  goes mostly ignored, but I do use it when I feel motivated and need a place to start. It has also greatly helped me with remembering how long since I last cleaned an area. Whereas before my memory was all just a fog, now I can clearly recall if I’ve done something in the past week, or not.

Today’s housecleaning is supposed to be the TV room, entry room, and sunroom. I don’t need to clean everything, but I do need to improve the spaces for it to ‘count.’

Along with a bunch of little tasks, today I completed two things that I consider more significant.

I cleaned the sliding door tracks:

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And vacuumed the recliner and sofa:

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I can’t remember the last time I did either of those tasks. It must have been months ago.

I also dusted the TV stand (and all the decor on it), wiped various marks off the walls, dusted picture frames, and vacuumed.

The living areas are looking pretty good now.

23 April

I’ve been feeling inspired and motivated the past few days. I’ve decluttered the kitchen utensil drawer by 50%, and the junk room closet by 25%. I’ve worked on paintings, scrubbed pet cages, and vacuumed often. I’ve filled up a box to donate back to the op-shops.

Today I’ll share the patio clean-up.

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Plant potting mess, two old rat cages replaced by one bigger and prettier cage, and a picture frame in the process of being spray-painted white.

The big bags of potting mix and sand went to the garden shed, the empty pots to the rubbish bin, and the towel to the laundry. The cages got cleaned and moved to the garden shed as well until they’ll be donated or sold. The frame got another spray coat and will be ready to use once dry.

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A simple but satisfying declutter.

22 April

Our knives are rusting.

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At least I think it’s rust.

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We use them every day, wash them in the dishwasher, then put them back in the knife block. I’m a bit paranoid of cutting myself (last time it happened, I passed out), so I have put off cleaning them because of the extended handling involved.

Finally, the spots were annoying me enough that I finally decided to very carefully remove them.

I began with my primary spot remover: a magic eraser.

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I love magic erasers so much. But after about 30 seconds of scrubbing (it only takes a second or two normally), there were still bits that wouldn’t budge.

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I thought of trying salt and vinegar (for abrasion and acidity), but then remembered the Barkeeper’s Friend canister that I splurged on a few months ago and hadn’t used much. There were annoying powder piles remaining around the rim of the shaker from its last use, so I scooped some up on the corner of a dampened nylon scourer and gave the knife a scrub.

The spots were gone in two seconds.

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I quickly cleaned and rinsed all the other knives.

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I think it took about 10 minutes in all.

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One small embarassment remedied.