windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (baby fozzie)
I'm still hoping, selfishly, that this will catch on with my other thrifting friends. :D


Thrift Find: 2 Holztiger Panda Bear Toys
Found At: Goodwill in Lake Zurich, Illinois
Price Paid: $1.75
Why I'm So Excited: This pair was mistakenly shelved with the decorative wooden plaques and knicknacks when, in fact, they are two beautiful wooden toys from the (amazing) Holztiger company. They retail, together, about $22-$25. I love wooden toys and wish that all of Graeme's toys were wooden. He already had a Holztiger Chicken and Rabbit that I bought him at Farm Sanctuary and now these. They are satin smooth and will last forever. I can't believe something this heirloom-quality and never-played-with and pricey ever made it to a thrift store. See more Holztiger toys here.



Thrift Find: Vintage Toy Stable
Found At: Goodwill in Mundelein, Illinois
Price Paid: $1.90
Why I'm So Excited: It is a giant, sturdily made stable with a central aisle and four stalls that would fit big traditional Breyer model horses. It's in beautiful shape, just missing one screw on the roof. I'm assuming it is vintage though there are no marks or company info on it. But still--it is so perfect and so charming and how-did-that-end-up-priced-for-under-2-dollars?! Graeme spent a lot of time hugging it at home, he was so happy to have a big warm refuge for his animal toys to play in during the winter. ;)
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (warpath)

Thrift Find: Big Wooden Play Table
Found At: Salvation Army Mundelein, Illinois
Price Paid: $25.00
Why I'm So Excited:
This was expensive, in the world of thrift stores, but I refused to leave it behind. With its simple, sturdy top and giant wheeled storage bins beneath, this is the most perfect play and train table imaginable for our new basement play spaces. Graeme and I visited the store, saw it, and started making plans for how to get it into the car. It was exactly two inches too long for the hatchback to close. Graeme said, "Push more, Mommy!" from his supervisory position in his car seat, but really, I was not feeling positive about our chances. I did not give up, though, so I borrowed a screwdriver from someone and spent a lot of time with my hazard lights on outside the store taking it apart, piece by bitter piece. ;)

And it worked!!

(Better yet, I found all the screws in and amongst my floorboards and was able to reassemble the thing with only the help of one toddler child.)

So I'm feeling like a pretty accomplished thrifter. This, added to the odd Thomas the Train cars I've found lumped in with cheap McDonalds toys at yard sales and Goodwills, plus the set of wooden train tracks and buildings I found at a Tuesday Morning for cheap, and I have the fancy-shmanciest little train table--which can double as any other kind of table for games and toys and crafts--for easily under $40. Take that, retail prices! :D

What frugal finds have made you feel like the queen of your own thrifty domain? :)
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (baby fozzie)
Thrift Find: Giant Blue Unicorn Head Cookie Jar
Found At: Goodwill in Jupiter, Florida
Price Paid: $5.35
Why I'm So Excited: It is absurd and fabulous at the same time. I can honestly say I've never seen a unicorn head cookie jar, let alone one in such a vibrant shade of eyeshadow blue. There are even gold stars tangled in its hair. It pushes the envelope of good taste and the cashier boy made terrible fun of me, yes, but it is so freaking adorable. Just look at those crazy eyes and that little baby horn!

Thrift Find: Small White Unicorn Porcelain Jewelry Box
Found At: Goodwill in Jupiter, Florida
Price Paid: $2.28
Why I'm So Excited: It is beautiful! So gracefully carved and not that chalky texture that so many unicorn figurines have. Stamped on the bottom, made in Japan in 1982. The horn was, at some point, broken and reglued which makes it even dearer to me. I'm going to use it for magickal purposes, since it has a nice-sized compartment underneath the lid for stones and whatnot.

Thrift Store Unicorns

What are your latest, greatest thrift finds? :)
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (animal drumming)
Thrift Find: Cuisinart SmartPower Premier Blender
Found At: Goodwill: Jupiter, Florida
Price Paid: $12.98
Why I'm So Excited: I needed a blender. I saw this one at Goodwill, all taped together and impossible to test, and took a chance. Three people actually picked it out of my cart as I was pushing it to the register, trying to buy it themselves. (Craziness! Vultures, all!) I have the same blender at home in Chicago, a wedding gift. I got home and did some googling and discovered it was a $100 blender and, with some cleaning, worked awesomely. Hello, bean dip! Hello, pureed soups! Hello, fruit smoothies! :D :D :D

Thrift Finds:  Cuisinart Super-Duper Blender

Thrift Find: April Cornell Tea-For-One Set
Found At: Goodwill: Evans, Georgia
Price Paid: $2?
Why I'm So Excited: I've always wanted a tea-for-one set. This one stacks so neatly--saucer, mug, teapot, lid. It had the stickers still on it--unused--and is a glorious shade of blue with an embossed songbird design on the teapot. And it was crazy cheap. So I can enjoy the ritual of tea, all out, and foo-foo and girly. :D

Thrift Finds:  One Person Tea Set

Thrift Find: 20 piece Mikasa French Countryside Dishes
Found At: Goodwill: North Palm Beach, Florida
Price Paid: $25.00
Why I'm So Excited: This wasn't very cheap, in terms of thrift-store dishware, but the set was exactly what we needed to give us everyday dishes her at the winter house and the design is simple, elegant, and timeless. They're also just girly enough that I feel I'm getting away with something with Daniel. ;D

Thrift Finds:  Mikasa French Countryside Dishes


Dec. 7th, 2009 11:25 am
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (graeme zabian)
Graeme, when asked on Thanksgiving what he was thankful for, said "Aminals!" without hesitation. Upon thinking a bit more about the question, he added "Mama", "Daddy", and himself to the list. He has a box of Schleich animal figures that are played with pretty much constantly. Those things aren't cheap, either! The local stores have them for about $3-$8 per animal! So, I would like to send out my general gratitude to the Universe and thrift store donors specifically, for all the Schleichs I find tumbled in with the tubs of junky fast food toys. Because of you, a camel, a draft horse, a wooly sheep, and as of this weekend, a baby giraffe and an adorably home-spruced silver-glittery T Rex have now found a new home where, hourly, they're called upon to rescue fellow animals from the dangers of the couch, the bookshelf, and the dreaded dark blanket tunnel.

I'd normally post a Thrift Finds photo, but I'm a bit busy today. In those fast food toy tubs, I also found five of the Gummi Bears, circa 1985. :D The figures are still in great shape and will try to vy with the animals for Graeme's attention. :)
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (jumpin)
Thrift Find: Speak & Math
Found At: Goodwill Lake Zurich, IL
Price Paid: $4.69
Why I'm So Excited: It is a working Speak & Math. If you don't understand how effing-fantastic that is to find in a Goodwill, it may be that we are experiencing a generational gap. I haven't seen one since I gave mine away when I was ten. Twenty-plus years of fond memories and now I have one to play with my son. :D :D

Thrift Find:  Speak & Math

On any normal thrifting day, that would be enough of a !!!!YAY!!!!FIND but this day, I was combing through the Volo Antique Malls in Volo, Illinois this same day for Yule gifts and found something even more exciting...

Thrift Find: 25" x 19" Fairy-themed Stained Glass Window (OMGOMGOMG!)
Found At: Volo Antiques Mall Volo, IL
Price Paid: $150
Why I'm So Excited: I love glass in all incarnations. More than anything, though, I am entranced by stained glass. It is my favorite artform on earth so when I turned the corner and saw this propped up in a dark antique mall stall, I couldn't look away. I was on a mission to shop for other people, so I'd passed dozens of Breyers and She-Ra dolls, not to mention some glorious antique pieces. This window, though, was so phenomenal and super-reasonably priced for the size and intricacy, I couldn't leave without it. I had no real idea what it would look like in the light so I was even that much more chuffed to finally see her in the light with her dear little hand-painted face. Love, love, love, love, love. I'm over-the-moon to have found this. GAH!

Thrift Find:  Fairy Stained Glass Window
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (baby fozzie)
Thrift Find: Wooden Castle-Shaped Shadowbox
Found At: Salvation Army Chicago, IL
Price Paid: $2.00
Why I'm So Excited:
I jumped for this grubby thing tumbled on the shelf with the spice racks and cracked pet food bowls, trusting that I could clean it up and make it shine. I succeeded and the gamble paid off beautifully.

I don't know who made it or what its purpose is intended as, but it is brilliantly versatile for a pastel purple castle. It is essentially a wooden rectangle, stood on end, with a castle decor false front complete with cheery little cloth flag. On the back are two holes for mounting this on the wall. My mind went wild with the possibilities! I could mount this on the wall as a display for one of my vintage My Little Ponies! I could use it as an adorable bookend for Graeme's library. Or, as it is currently functioning, it makes a wonderful toy castle to use with Graeme's dear as dear can be wooden toy collection.

Graeme pointed gleefully and said, "CASTLE!", when he saw it come out of my shopping bag. (A word he'd never uttered before in his life.) It has since been the site of many magical adventures as Graeme explores the idea of imaginative play and, well, talking. :D Just today, we were imagining that an enchanted frog and an enchanted rabbit lived at the castle with a very kind princess. Everyone was saying nice things to each other like "Me happy!" and "Hello!" and "Uh Oh!" and "Purple castle!" and exchanging sweet kisses. (Mwah!) A friendly knight came to visit for the afternoon, his mount's wooden hooves tapping cheerfully across our hardwood floors. The (equally enchanted) talking horse boastfully leaped up to the roof and balanced on the flagpole before offering everyone (including the frog and rabbit) rides on his back. The animals, tired after all this hopping around, climbed into the castle to take a nap.

In a Toy Story world, I think this $2 decorative castle knick-knack has wound up in the best possible circumstances, the most beloved lead character in a little boy's budding imaginative life.

Graeme's Castle
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (G&I)
Thrift Find: Aeromax Get Real Gear Jr. Fire Fighter Jacket
Found At: Salvation Army Chicago, IL
Price Paid: $3.00
Why I'm So Excited:
Three reasons!

1) This is the best quality children's dress up/costume piece I've ever seen. I only found the jacket, so it is hard to compare, but the original price for the jacket, suspender pants, and matching helmet is a prohibitively expensive $59.95. I paid $3 for a perfect condition jacket.

2) It matches Graeme's beloved, wants-to-wear-it-everywhere "Fire Chief" helmet (another thrift store find for $1).

and most importantly?


Fire Chief Graeme loves it!!

Thrift stores allow me to buy a lot of wonderful, high quality toys and clothes. He gets the best European wooden toys and educational games, a wealth of books and cute outfits to wear and it is all thanks to the magic of the thrift store treasure hunt. :)

What wonderful things have you found in thrift stores or garage sales lately? Anything that delighted the inner two year-old within? :D
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (baby fozzie)
Breyer:  Sham

Thrift Find: Breyer Model--Sham the Arabian
Found At: Wolff's Flea Market in Rosemont, IL
Price Paid: $5.00
Why I'm So Excited!

In the middle of Chicago's largest outdoor flea market, jumbled into a cardboard box full of battered toys, Sham was waiting. He'd started life with a prohibitively high retail value and somehow ended up discarded and unloved in a box with broken-legged Barbie horses, ratty maned generics, and what was, before all the breaks and paint and glitter glue, a Breyer unicorn. The seller was brusque as I gingerly disentangled the Arabian with the worn muzzle from his companions. "$5 for the big ones, $3 for the small ones", he muttered from under the brim of his NASCAR hat.

I was outraged and insulted. To treat this collectible like crap, to such an extent that any value it had once had was gone, and then to ask for $5? I couldn't believe it. I walked away. Another seller, a few aisles down, had three classic size Breyers for $8 each. They were in great shape, displayed with pride on a table next to antique crystal and sterling flatware. I didn't buy them. Someone would.

I walked every aisle of that parking lot flea market and finally realized that I'd have to go back for Sham. $5 was a small price to pay for a rescue mission. What had I been thinking not to spring for it?

When I first moved to Florida (from Illinois) I was about as isolated and culture-shocked as it was possible to be. A few months into the school year, I turned 11 years old. For the first time I could remember, I was encouraged to have a birthday party. We invited my cousin, a new horse crazy friend I'd made in school, and the daughter of my mom's coworker whom I'd never met. We played Twister, as I recall, and when it was time to open the giant boxes on the coffee table, I unwrapped my Mom's gifts to me--my first Breyer horses. I'd never seen anything like them before. One was a fighting stallion and the other, this prancing Arabian stallion mold, a palomino I named Ivory after his ivory-like carved mane. I was in awe of these horses.

Over the years I collected more and then, as my fortunes fell, was forced to sell them all on eBay. Slowly, I'm collecting some of them back through friendships and thrift stores and other rescue missions like this one.

So why am I so excited? Part wistful memory, part toy-rescue, part serendipity. This little guy has aged with grace, his paint worn from his muzzle, the tips of his ears, his rounded flanks in a charming way. His troubles have only made him more beautiful and certainly more precious to me. :)

What have you felt like you were rescuing from the thrift store, garage sale, flea markets of your life lately? :) I'd love to hear your tale. :)
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (stuffed!)
What I miss, perhaps more than anything, about having my dearest friends living closest to me is dishing about the treasure I've unearthed at thrift stores, yard sales, and random dumpsters. Unless I found a thousand dollars in a purse I paid 10 cents for, my husband wouldn't display the appropriate amount of squee and good cheer. ;) So, I'm going to start sharing some of my thrift finds here in the hopes that you will, too. What have you found? What did you pay? Show it off! :D

Thrift Store Find:  Music Box

Thrift Find: The Lady and the Unicorn Music Box
Found At: Goodwill in Jupiter, FL
Price Paid: $1.91
Why I'm So Excited!
I love music box music. I pounce whenever I see something musical in the thrift stores. It is sad how often such haunting melodies are paired with cheap, lumpy ceramic figurines because that isn't my style, at all. This little box, not much bigger than a pack of cards, is beautifully simple, small, and lovely. Its black plastic case looks like laquered wood and the image on the lid is of one of the Lady and the Unicorn tapestries. Unlike a lot of medieval images of unicorns, this one is uncollared and looking happy, almost smiling, with his hooves up on the lady's lap. The lid lifts off to reveal the music mechanism under a protective viewing window and a small compartment that could hold a precious piece of jewelry or two. Even better, this plays Lara's Theme from Doctor Zhivago. I love it! It is the most perfect music box for me. :)

What have you found and loved? :D
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (stuffed!)
Yesterday was wonderful. It could stand as an example of the perfect day.

In the morning I was tooling around the internet before the boys woke up. I found a very insightfully funny series of posts from a fellow LJer who rather concisely explained Twilight. ;)
I know I'm coming late to the bash-Twilight party, but I found these summaries of the books in the series, from an LDS dogma perspective, to be spot-on and fun. The link there is image-intensive but the images are what make it that much more entertaining. It made me smile. :) Whether you love the series or hate the series, you'll probably enjoy it. :)

One of the neighborhood parks was hosting a big garage sale for the weekend. For $50, someone could rent a table space. The park was also taking donations to sell for themselves, all proceeds going to park programming and maintenance. I set off early, sweating like mad in the hot, humid, sunny weather we were having after days of rain. Oh man, it was so uncomfortable!

The yard sale was pretty small. The donated items took up about 12 tables and then there were perhaps 4 or 5 individual sellers. At first glance, I thought it was going to be a total wash. But wait! :D One woman, when asked how much she was asking for a Frosty the Snowman board book said, "Oh, just take it." Another woman had a couple summer outfits in Graeme's size for $2. At the park's tables, I dug through a vat of McDonald's toys to discover a My Little Pony baby (one of the S1s with the printed diaper design) and an old fashioned sheep figure, a quarter bought me both. More donations were being dropped off while I shopped and nothing was priced. A woman was walking around and anytime someone picked something up, she'd say, "Isn't that great? It is brand new! Only 50 cents, you ought to just get it!". I found seven great kitchen linens--two halloween, the rest black or white spangled with silver stars. They were $1 for the lot. I picked up a big paper grocery bag filled with Little People stuff--the construction set, a lot of boulders, construction people, little fork lift, and other construction-y vehicles and they asked $3. (I've been too long away from garage sales--they're so much cheaper than thrift stores around here.) I also got, for $2, a big 70-piece case of Lego Quatro blocks. Carrying it all home was a juggle, but I felt like quite the successful hunter-gatherer providing for my family (or at least its toy room.) :D

While I was hauling this load home in the heat, Daniel and Graeme were playing together at the smaller, shadier park by our house. We met up halfway home and went back for a breakfast of thick slabs of farmer's market sourdough bread with strawberry jam. Mmmm! Graeme mostly ignored breakfast in favor of his new toys. We all sat on the floor together for at least an hour, playing. Such fun. :)

That afternoon, we drove out to the suburbs to attend Tutti Insieme 2009. It is billed as an interfaith "Celebration of Spirit, Unity, and Harmony" but I would say it had all the appearances of a well-run pagan festival day. The temperature when we arrived was 96 degrees! Whoa, sunny! :) It was gorgeous, though, all laid out at the Arabian Knights Farm, this 10 acre horse farm secretly hiding just down the street from a suburban Whole Foods. Amid the grass and tree shade, there were dozens of vendors set up selling everything from princess dresses for toddlers to voodoo conjure bags. It was awesome. I mean, come on, pagan shopping! Jewelry, herbs, crystals, clothes, candles, soaps, books, and home design. A witchy shopping utopia. :D I bought some crystals, a glorious little green print summery skirt and a big soft handmade goddess doll that Graeme calls "Mama". They were raffling off fantastic gift baskets. (We didn't win, but it was fun to see the glee of the people who did. :D )

The only suggested admission charge for this big event, with its vendors and group rituals, workshops, live music and readers, was to contribute some food item to the free potluck meal. Whoa, that was a surprise, too! The largest barn on the property, a big indoor show arena, had been converted into a giant party space. It had a dance floor and a stage, seating for hundreds of people, and both a regular buffet and a dessert buffet line. It was so impressive! My food offerings were just swallowed up by the bounty on offer there. To have, in these tough times, a feast like that for the entire community to share in, freely and without thought of cost, was the best possible celebration of the Solstice. There was no sign of shortage anywhere. There was plenty, ten and twenty times over, for all to be full.

Graeme was happy, too. He squished through mud and danced over grass. He kept looking around and saying, "Wow!". He collected and sorted through some random twigs, branches, and bark that looked interesting to him and waved hello to all the horses staring out from the shade of their stalls.

After the raffle wrapped up and our cash ran down, we piled our sun-pink selves into the car and drove to a Trader Joe's nearby. It was closed, power outage, so we stopped instead at a Borders bookstore (where Graeme played and I bought some Alaska travel books and a couple tattoo magazines) and then to an organizational store where we stocked up on little plastic totes and bins in an attempt to (re)organize Graeme's many books and toys into something manageable and put-away-able.

Once home, I sorted toys and printed out little tote labels while Daniel made us a surprisingly spectacular dinner of leftover pasta sauce, drained ramen noodles, and toasted sourdough garlic bread. Mmmm.

It was a full, sunny, family-oriented, paganified, shopping victorious perfect, perfect, perfect day.


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