Friday, April 20, 2012

Garage Sale Find of the Century

By 7:15 yesterday morning, I was ready for a re-do. The day was off to a gloomy start. So I set out to do what I should really do more often - I cut a new groove. A happier one.

Exhibit A:

French Toast made with cinnamon swirl bread topped with strawberries. And Earl Grey tea.
Please help me make sense of the fact that I have never had Earl Grey tea before yesterday. It just doesn't make sense to me. Oh, the blossoming love I have for Earl Grey. It was just right. Or maybe I'm just feeling extra British over the recent hours Cory and I have spent immersed in Downton.

I have a crush on Mr. Bates. I like how he always looks like he's smirking, even when he's sad.

I also have a crush on Earl, but you already knew that.

Exhibit B:

Sparkly shoes. I dug 'em out. Like I meant it. I put the suckahs on like it was 2003. So what if my pants were too long and my right pinkie toe is now Siamese twins with his neighbor.

Ruby was instantly overcome with sequins envy. Little did I know that they would foreshadow the rest of my morning because.....

Yesterday marked the start of the town-wide garage sale. And I hit the Mother Load at the third stop: A bag of vintage linen calendar towels for uno buckaroolio. I confirmed that it was $1 for the whole bag and I ran. I didn't count them. I didn't even peek through the stack.

For the rest of the morning I thought fondly about the moment after my kids were tucked away for quiet time and I could see exactly what it was that I had in my hot hands. Because the oddest part about it all is that I've never owned a calendar towel nor had the desire to do so.

Long story short, the guy came to clean the carpets and quiet time never really happened and I rummaged through the stack of TWENTY THREE towels on the (carpeted, naturally) breeze-way floor.

I'm still a bit conflicted over what I found.

It was nothing but wonderful that the first towel on the stack hailed from 1976, the year from which every good and perfect thing hails.

Then it started to freak me out that I am fully entrenched in a 1976's color palette for our future home. It felt so wrong that it's wrong. But dang it if I can't quit that robiny blue with the mossy green with the orange with the gold.

What do you think the builder would say if I requested harvest gold counter tops and avocado appliances?

1977? You're a little dreamy.  If I said you had a beautiful bellows would you hold it against me?

1978, I'll dream only of you tonight.
Also, thanks for Cory.

1974, you make me want to believe in red again. 

I marveled over the way I seem to have come full circle in this, my 35th year.

So if you happen to be 29 right now, right here is your future. It's no late-70s, but it could be worse.

Exhibit C:


A note to future historians: This rental house was wall-papered in 1987. No two ways.

What I'm really wondering is, how did these things even get started?

"Hello, I'm calling to see if you could bring a mock apple pie to the pitch-in on Sunday evening."
"I don't know, let me check my towel."

In the end, not every towel was a keeper. And I'm just going to put this right out there: If the day comes that any among us is found considering a teddy bear motif or a baby-blue and mauve color scheme, the offender must be promptly dipped in honey, rolled in acrylic "fur" and sponge painted and/or stenciled to within an inch of his/her life.

This concludes my exhaustive lecture series on indigenous hippie textiles of Midwestern America, circa 1974-1988.

What's your most exciting garage sale score?

ps - Mad, mad props to homegirl Angie, who secured our third bar stool! The stars have aligned and next week, we'll meet for the very first time over chips and salsa to make the hand-off. I love this world we live in. That is all. I have a date with Mr. Bates.


  1. So much I want to say. Love most of them. The bears with blue and mauve give me nightmares. Long story. But my childhood was filled with bears, geese, mauve, blue.... Ugh. Thanks for the smile.

  2. 1975. Where was 1975?

    Those ducks. Law.

    It's the nightmare of my childhood home all over again.

    Burn them.

    Have a good weekend, we'll be sticking stickers on everything in sight.

    Oh, and Calvin's envelope is in the mail. I think I mailed it yesterday, but don't hold me to that.


  3. laughed out loud for the first time today, over towels, oh girl you're funny, I'll take a picture but my favorite garage sale find is a set of 8 plates each with a different vegetable painted on them, I LOVE them so much they're the vocal point of my kitchen, I'm a plate girl.

  4. That last towel would have matched my teenaged bedroom perfectly. Just sayin'.

  5. City wide yard sale!! (Is that all you got?) Every score I score at a yard sale is the best and favorite THAT DAY! Stool...lucky!

  6. OH my goodness... this IS the find of the century!!! Best yard sale find was the one that got away... a washer/dryer set, never been used, perfect condition, front loading, space-age-looking beauties... I didn't ask how much they were because A) I have a washer and dryer and B) It was certainly more than my $30 budget. The guy behind me said, "How much?" and the owner said, “$25… I just need them gone.” The crowd gasped and the inquiring shopper threw his arms up in a V for Victory… actually I don’t know if that’s true. I kind of blacked-out. Two minutes later they were in a truck, driving far, far away from me. So sad.

  7. Ha ha ha oh I love this post. And hello 1976! It certainly was a good year! :) (and did I pick up that you're older than your Mister?!? Scandalous!) (oh wait, so am I. Me, 1976. Him, 1979)

    '87 & ' sad. My mom would've loved them back then.

    Have fun with Mr. Bates! He's a good one. Although Matthew grew on me. But it must be said that Cybil is my favorite.

    P.S. Congratulations on the third stool! Did you decide which island they'll sit next to?

    1. Ditto, my fella's '79 and I'm '77... Just scored a couple of these from our birth years yesterday. Came across this while searching for something very clever & lovely to do with them.

  8. I love Mr. Bates! The Hubs has yet to see Downton b/c I watched the two seasons with my mom while I was in IL in March. Yes - 1 week, 2 seasons amidst her work schedule and my visiting every other family member who wanted to see the kids. A lot of late nights, but so worth it. I want to dress like they do on the show. Also -is there a 1981 towel? I'm curious.

    1. Just double-checked the stack and there is a 1981! It features a cornucopia of fruits and harvesty vegetables in the orange/red/yellow/green scheme.

  9. You are way too fun...we were married in 74, and we still love each other the most!
    It was a good year;) the late 80's? Not so much :) ;)

  10. We are now not only ugly sock twins, we are…unless Miss I-Hate-Reddy-Pants said it wasn't a keeper, "Bless this house with the blue roof and big pink blossoms" twins.

    : )

    Julie M.

    ps I think there is coordinating mauve and baby blue teddy bear wallpaper border playing ring around the base board on my back porch. Fortunately, it's hiding. Speaking of teddy bears...Hugh Bonneville. Yum!!!

  11. Hey I like harvest gold appliances and YES I did also have the green too. In fact we had a seventies wedding and you guessed it, the colors...harvest gold, avocado green, yellow and a kind of orange haha it was my mothers choice of course I was only 18 and didn't have a voice of my own.
    I like your vintage 'towels' perhaps they could be put in a quilt?

  12. I am 29 right now! It's like you were speaking to ME! Whoop whoop! What fun little treasures.

  13. I'm mighty partial to 1974 myself. I'm sooo happy you love Early Grey tea! Another way we can be sisters, cuz I love me some E.G. And when I'm feelin' real spicy, I help myself to some double bergamot earl grey. Ow! Ow!

    Have a great weekend, Shannan. xo

  14. My grandma saves these and uses an old one every year. This year 2012 has the same days as 1986, or something like that. I usually think they're pretty neat. Thank goodness I haven't seen any teddy bears yet.

  15. "1976, the year from which every good and perfect thing hails." Why thank you. Thankyousomuch. :) I would pay far more than a dollar for one of them 1976 towels, if you're lookin' to make a profit. Just sayin'.

  16. My grandmother ALWAYS had one hanging in her
    kitchen. Right above her little round table with the plastic table cloth.
    Thanks for the lovely memory!

  17. Thank goodness you posted pics of your towels because I had no idea what the heck a calendar towel was. There is probably a good reason they are vintage and not still made today. Odd concept of mixing a calendar and dish cloth, perhaps?!

  18. I am avocado green with envy. You know I am.

  19. fun post, and just as fun to see what everyone was said.

    next time, to go full brit, you'll have to add a scone, clotted cream and lemon curd to eat with your earl grey. it'll be brilliant.

    and congrats on the third bar stool!

  20. First of all, I laughed so hard over your pinkie toe being Siamese twins with its neighbor that my dogs got excited.

    Second, my mother-in-law gave me a ceramic goose just like 1987's towel. It came to a bad end one day while I was home alone.

    Thirdly, how have you missed out on Earl Grey for so long?? At any rate, congrats on your discovery - you're on your way to becoming full on anglophile, lady.

    Finally, the teddy bears actually frighten me and make me think of zombie movies I wish I had never watched as a young girl in the '80's.

  21. My dearest friend, my business partner(dad) used to bring calendar towels into CAC, I would sneak them into the trash when he wasn't looking. Then customers would see one hanging somewhere in the shop and start asking if we had this year, or that year? lol Poor old pop would be looking around saying,"I'm sure we have one with that year somewhere here." I would just stay real quiet. Wow, sometimes I remember just how much I loved those days. Thanks.

    I dare not tell my best find found at a rummage sale. But I can say this, American Pickers has nothing on me.

  22. I was reading your post, reliving the horrors of the 80s, and my 6 y.o. comes up and says "Ooooo, nice teddy bears." SIGH. Have I taught him nothing?!?

  23. I got tickled over your 1977 comment. That's the year I met my husband - I in 9th grade, he in 11th. And 1987? That's what our kitchen was wallpapered in when we moved into this house. Me with the chicken motif moving in with gaggles of geese. It was not pretty. For some reason I waited almost 10 years to cover the birds with yellow paint. Harvest gold, avocado and don't forget the coppertone, please. I grew up with the coppertone appliances.
    I'm assuming I can pull out my sequined brown flats? Please tell me I can.

  24. I so loved your post. It was the first of my quiet, hot coffee, sitting by the open window listening to the birds sing, on a Saturday morning before the world gets up and going read... and I couldn't have chosen a better one.

    (oh there goes two, smarter than me ladies in their walking clothes, eating a healthy banana. Right past my lazy, I won't be joining you thanks anyway, window.)

    I am 47, and can remember those towels in my mothers kitchen growing up. Oh how I disliked those tacky things. :) Now, I have a true fondness for them. Funny how you change the older you get. Actually, I think we go back to what was true and real in our childhood. God has a way of reminding us of, and helping us to rehearse the good. Thanks for being His vessel for me this morning.

    Hugs From My Heart

  25. Well, now we all finally know what happiness really is! Phew! Thank you, 1976 towel, for solving one of life's great mysteries.

    Go for the gold--in your kitchen. I dare ya! Actually, I think you just might. Not the 70's gold...but I'm predicting some form of yellow in that pretty new kitchen. Am I right???

    I now have a bad case of towel envy.

  26. Three things:

    - Congratulations on your towel find! Wish I had something to share, but I have sworn off garage sales until our addition is finished. (OK, I am planning to go to our neighborhood sale today, but hoping I will find absolutely zero.)
    @Kara - My mil has a goose like that. It has a different outfit for each month (including a bikini -- can't remember if that's July or August).

    - Mr. Bates, smirk? Oh, of course -- a private gloat whenever Thomas and O'Brien get their due. (If you like Mr. Bates, have you seen Lark Rise to Candleford?) Since I don't admit to being tempted by eye candy, my favorites are Anna, Mrs. Patmore, Daisy and "Mrs. Shoes", as Carson says. Anyone else starting to like Edith? (My son scoffs at my "little British movies", but two minutes and he's hooked.)

    - Earl Gray = Germany and a breakfast of crusty bread and fruit

  27. 1966 here.
    Hot diggity dog what a find!
    Burn the bears. Sorry.

  28. I HAD a teddy bear bedroom between the years of 1983 and 1989. From '87-'89, it was mauve and baby blue and you'd better believe there were stenciled bears. My waterbed comforter was reversible. Mauve and Dark Mauve. Lovely. I also wore a mauve sweatshirt that my mom had made me that had stenciled geese on it. I was eight. Why. Why?!?!

    I love those towels. I am currently obsessed with teal/lime green/orange/chocolate brown for my home. I was born in '77. I think you could write a thesis based on those towels and 30-somethings' color choices vs. their year of birth. Go for it.

  29. No way! You made my name all blue with the linky thing? Wow, a true friend. I have to admit, my husband was a *little* bit worried that I was buying things for blog "friends" I'd never actually met. Ha! Now I can put his mind at ease ;)

    I'm partial to the 1978 towels. The bears...not so much. Although, I think we had those gems somewhere in our house when I was little. Gives me the shakes.

    I can almost taste the chips and salsa now :)


    1. I saw your stools in Southern Living or House Beautiful this weekend. You are right up there with the big girls! Enjoy

  30. Talk about flashback!! The first calender you show I remember very well hanging in my parents kitchen. My mother use to get one every year. She stopped just a few years ago because they are so hard to find now. Thanks for the memory! I'll have to tell my mom to hang on to hers & let me have them.

    Diane J./Ohio

  31. This is killing me. In a good way, a laugh my head off way. I swear my mother had a teddy bear holding an apple on a wooden heart shaped shelf when I was a child. I distinctly remember it hanging in our kitchen. Poor her. She probably didn't realize she could have had a calendar towel to match. Here's my question. Do they still make calendar towels? I've never seen one with 2008 or 20010 on it. Never. Love your find. ;-)

  32. oh, good LORD! i grew up in a pukey peach and hunter green color combo{carpet AND walls were peach} bedroom. colors picked by YOURS TRULY.
    there were lots and lots of teddys, too. :) ones that i embellished with peach and green and blue and mauve and lace of all sorts. YIKES!
    yesterday was city wide rummage for us, too.
    we scored some vintage linens, and some other cool stuff, but nothing like your calendars, i tell ya!

    so, if you decide to go with the 70's color might want to consider my BRIGHT orange crackly counter tops. for real. i'd let you have them...and the huge brass chandy, too. :)

  33. Score! :) Do tell...what are your plans for them? And I have to say I loathe bears and hearts. Blach! ;) How cool that someone found your other stool. Yeah!! :)

  34. Fave part:

    "It was nothing but wonderful that the first towel on the stack hailed from 1976, the year from which every good and perfect thing hails."

    You made me laugh out loud or "lots of love!"..whatever. It happened.

    I would venture to say 1972 was also a banner year!

    The year of my birth.

    Best garage sale score EVER? 2001. Summer. Minneapolis. I lived in Tennessee but found a beautiful, old, stained glass terrarium. I think I paid $2 for it. I lugged that thing as my carry on. This was before terrariums were all the rage on Etsy and in design.

    I like to think of myself as a pioneer.

    Sadly, said item was given to the Goodwill in Flagstaff, AZ before I moved again...

    It's about knowing what to keep, isn't it?

    Congrats on your fabric calendar, the bears and all else.

    Rock this Saturday, Shiny.


  35. it looks like i was born in the year of the kitchen!

  36. Happiness IS 1976 for this 35-year-old, too! How profound. Although all this time I've thought it was a warm gun.

    Speaking of a warm gun, I also was raised in a house with blue and mauve geese. I distinctly remember that as I helped my Mom and her friend Kay wallpaper our kitchen, I thought (and said aloud) "how could this ever go out of style?". It is noteworthy that it was also the church parsonage. I'm sure the next pastors were over the moon.

    Have a great weekend!

  37. You are officially the funniest person I know (or sort of know. Or wish I knew. Whatever.). I spewed birthday cake all over my computer with the mock apple pie comment. So what will you do with your treasures??

  38. What a great trip down memory lane! So what are you planning? Framing them? Just do toss out the bear one.

  39. "I don't know, let me check my towel." Hahahaha!

  40. How did we manage to speak on the real life phone this week and NOT talk about Downton? How?


    I love your calendar towels. I find them odd and snazzy at the same time. :)

  41. What did I find at yard sales today? Nothing. One measley 75 cent comic book at an antique mall. The only thing I discovered was an alternative to my favorite bottled iced tea(Honest Tea's Peach Oo-la-long) - Tazo's Organic Iced Black. I told my sister it tasted like the diabetic-friendly version of the sweet tea our neighbor made in a plastic gallon pickle jug while we were growing up. Yum. As for HOT tea, well, let's just say that Earl and I have a standing date every morning. Him, me, pretty tea cup - it's better for all those around me if no one gets between us. My husband is okay with this, as he has his own morning date with Frank Sumatra(from Larry's Beans). :)

  42. SCORE!!!! hugs and happy7 weekend wishes.

  43. As you were on your teddy bear tirade, I was thinking to myself "sponge paint". Super twins...activate.

  44. I too am mad crushing on Mr. Bates. Pray tell thee has seen "Larkrise to Candleford" PRAY TELL! (Glenco and I call it "Darkside to Candlesticks" - anyhoo - not a big fan of the Earl Grey - tried to be all grown up, but I'd prefer a lowly bag o Lipton to it. Not of fan of the Bergamot-sets me teeth on edge it do. Lovin' the calendars. I'm totally all over 1976.

    1. he's also in North and SOuth, which is fantastical!!! couldn't get into downton abbey, but loved larkrise too:)

  45. "beautiful bellows" = laughing outloud, by myself, at my computer. Thank you for that fulfilling and yet awkward moment.

  46. It appears that you can find 2012 calendar towels on both Etsy and Amazon. The bad news is, the one I glanced at on Amazon had both cats and hearts on it. CATS and HEARTS!
    In 2012.
    I was kinda hoping for an embroidered Justin Bieber. Or flamingos.
    Either would be fine.

  47. The Siamese twin comment about your toes made me laugh out loud! Sometimes good shoes are worth physical impairment. We don't have such interesting yard sale finds in these parts (Pickerington, OH--you know it?) ---at least I haven't found any yet that can beat your towels. Those colors and designs, oh my.

  48. Your post title drew me in because I'm still laughing at "my" garage sale find of the century. Don't be jealous, but today I purchase a bright red unicycle for $2!! The look on my husband's face as I walked to the car with it was priceless!

  49. Oh Shannan, have you tried Lady Grey? Outshines her hubby by miles n miles. Something oddly attractive about your calendar/towels, except the teddy bears.geese/mauve n blue ones. Give me the 60s gold n green over the 80s anyday. I put bold yellow/orange floral contact paper on my cupboard fronts in our first 1966 ranch home. Dumb kid move, I realized soon as it was finished. You are a delight, hope that book is being edited soon. Thanks

  50. Saw this today, thought of you:

  51. I've gotta tell you, I was loving the colors of those first two towels! My living room, kitchen, and dinning room are done in shades of rust, red, orange, yellow, green, and that turqoisey sky blue. I love it!! My mom laughs and says it is an updated 70's look, but everyone who visits seems to love it too. So, keep your fun 70's colors!

  52. Hey Farmgirl! If you want to sell that first Happiness Is towel from 1976, I'd buy it. That sucker is toooo cute. So, I totally got a decorating idea from your blog today that I am suuuppppper pumped about.

    How cute would it be to frame a vintage tea towel for every member of the fam with their birth year on it?!

    I'm all over that like white on rice.

  53. Three things:

    1. Jealous of those towels. Way jealous. Totally remind me of my childhood. {You can keep the teddy bears though.}
    2. When you finish both seasons of Downton, you will fall into a deep depression {and this has nothing to do with the's just that the show is so amazing and we are desperately missing it.}
    3. Earl is my favorite hot tea.

  54. Such a nice collections of the calenders with different designs and colorful creations.It look so wonderful art in this article.Thanx to share with us some extra ordinary informations.


  55. "let me check my calendar towel!" You slay me! These are so charming. I have a couple myself and am not quite sure if I want to hang them on a towel bar or stash them away in shame. Did you happen to find one with a 1977? That's truly the better year.

  56. oh, duh. Now I'm seeing the 1977 model! It's a bute! :)

  57. I'd be happy to take 1978 off your hands! I still have a box of fancy schmancy spoons to send you. I suck at getting to the post office.

  58. I found it so funny that right after I read this post I headed to my husbands grandmother's house to visit. I was going through her old linens and found a bunch of these calendar towels!

  59. Hi. I'm the creepy stalker girl commenting on a post from 2012. I happened on your blog and have been moved and inspired by so many of your posts. And then... THIS. I sat here LOLing myself to pieces. Just thought I should warn you that I may be forming a blog crush on you.