Blogging 365, Day 12: Adventures in Thrift Shopping

It’s been bone-chillingly cold around here lately at least by California standards. In fact, tonight is supposed to be one of the coldest nights we’ve had for some time that could break records. I’ve been using my sleeping bag – tested for up to 24 degrees – as my blanket as of late and it’s been working just fine.

Either way, the 36 degree temperatures didn’t stop me from going for a 6.2 mile run at 7 am. I just had to bundle up a bit and I was fine.

Once I got home and put back some of the 950 calories I had just burned, we decided to make a trip to good ol’ Goodwill to see what we could conjure up. We love thrift shopping because even if we go home empty-handed, we always leave the place in a better mood after seeing some of the fun and crazy stuff that once made other peoples’ lives worth living.

Let’s start off with this gem that children of the ‘80s will know and appreciate. CAM02740

Face it, you had one. And if you didn’t you had a knock-off like I did because you couldn’t afford the real McCoy – that is, Mom couldn’t afford it.

CAM02741

Ah, this! The Sony Mavica line of digital cameras that used floppy disks as storage media! Believe it or not, this was one of the high-end models because it was 2 megapixels and supported both floppy disks and Memory Stick media (which begs the question: Why?). I was always jealous of this one since I had the one with 640×480 resolution and having the Memory Stick option would have meant not having to carry around a box of floppies like I did one year on Las Vegas. The quality of the camera was absolutely atrocious but hey, I was cool. One disk held around 25 images if I recall. Now I carry around a phone with 5 MP and a 32GB card and it’s not enough.

CAM02742

*RING! RING! CLICK!* This is Jim Rockford. At the tone, leave your name and message. I’ll get back to you. *BEEEP!*

Don’t check your messages, Jim. You know it’s going to be bad news. By the way, Mike Post ruled TV themes back in the day…when shows still had theme songs

CAM02743

Anthony preparing for his future.

CAM02745

I really should have gotten this but I don’t think my bosses would have approved. My co-workers, on the other hand, would probably fight over it or laugh at it.

Actually, some might want my job starting Monday. We’re getting swamped with projects and it’s looking like at least a week of one-hour overtime each day. This is going to come in handy and while tedious, I will gladly take it along with my raise that went into effect at the beginning of the year.

Off to bed. Or reading at least. I’m falling behind  on both…

A Weekend of Bargains!

I have to admit that last weekend was a bargain hunter’s dream.

First of all, we went to free event that was held at our not-so-local Sport Chalet store in Huntington Beach. The event was promoting and sponsored by the Steamboat Resort in Colorado and everything, I mean everything, within the confines of the arbitrary event boundaries was free: lunch, face painting, real snow for the kids to play in, balloon animals, snowboard lessons for kids, autographs from ski legend Billy Kidd, photos that put you on a slope in Colorado. It was definitely my kind of event and we all had a blast.

But the best part: spinning the wheel for prizes! There were no limits as to how may times you could spin the wheel so Anthony and I went back a few times. The result?

CAM02384-1

In addition to ski hats, lip balm, Steamboat lapel pins and bandanas, we won about $30 in gift cards. You can’t beat that! Thanks to Sport Chalet and Steamboat for putting on such a fun and totally free event. You guys rock!

But before all that, I wanted to make a quick stop at the local Goodwill to see if I could find a copy of The Hobbit (the book not the movie, you silly goose). It was at this very thrift store that I found copies of The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers*, both of which I snagged immediately, so I figured I might have some luck.**

While I didn’t find it and will probably have to resort to buying it new, I did come across quite a few other things that a person on a budget was more than happy to purchase.

Lot 1: Contra Nintendo cartridge

CAM02395

Up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A. Everyone knows that code and here’s the game that popularized it. This game was one of many that were sitting on the shelf and knowing the value of it, I decided that dropping a mere $3.99 for it was indeed a bargain.

How much of a bargain? The current bid high bid on eBay is $15.50 with just over a day left and 10 watchers. Yes, 10 of them. I get the feeling it will be going for much more than I expected. Not a bad ROI if I do say so myself.

Lot 2: Brita Filters

CAM02451

I have two Brita pitchers in the fridge and I use them daily. In fact, Monte and Steve will only drink water that comes from the pitcher and not spigot water. (My cats? Spoiled? Nah.) At any rate, Ann found this floating around the store and at $9.99, I also saw it as a bargain despite the box being a bit bent out of shape.

How much of a bargain were these? Here’s what they sell for at:

  • Walmart: $29.88
  • Target: $29.89
  • Brita (MSRP): $37.99

Holy buckets, I’m scoring stuff left and right here. These I will use for sure – no reselling.

Lot 3: Amphipod Hydration Belt

CAM02406

When you run, you get thirsty and unless you are running an event where volunteers are handing out cups of water, you’re screwed if you suddenly become parched.

Sure, you can carry a bottle with you but that proves to be cumbersome as well as very cold on chilly mornings. That’s why hydration belts were invented. You fill up the bottles with water or electrolyte-packed drink of choice, clip them on, strap the belt to you and you’re good to go.

And once I started running longer distances, I realized how handy having one of these belts would be.

The problem: price. They can run a minimum of $30 for a low-end belt with only two bottles or up to $46 for the model you see above which holds four bottles as well a pouch for storing a snack or device.

I found this item just randomly thrown in with the toys as it’s my belief that the employees had no idea what it was. If they had, it would have been over with the sporting goods stuff but I’m willing to bet that they thought it was some kind of NERF gun accessory.

Either way, I picked it up and held onto it once I realized that it was. Upon inspection I saw that the Velcro fastener had come loose but it wasn’t anything Ann and her crazy crafty glue from unknown country of origin couldn’t fix, which she did once I brought it home.

Oh, and how much was this, you ask? Does $4.99 sound like a deal? Winner winner, chicken dinner!

Between the filters and the belt, I paid $15 for stuff that retails for $76 – or about 80% off original MSRP. Plus throw in the $30 gift cards we won and the profit I’ll make on the game and I’d say that Saturday was indeed a great day to be a tightwad.

Not that I am or anything…

*I am currently on The Two Towers. The last time I read these books was in 8th grade and I was overjoyed when I learned they were being made into movies in the early 2000s. I saw them first-run and own them all on DVD (and after reading them again, I still prefer the books). Bet you never expected that from me, did you?

**I later found The Return of the King at another thrift store but still no stupid, fat hobbitses…

Thrift Shopping

We love thrift shopping. There’s no question about it.

Sometimes you find some really cool stuff and other times you wander around aimlessly and just enjoy the selection of garbage on display, garbage that was once brand-spanking-new and hanging on a shelf of an amusement park or carefully selected by a gift-giver for their beloved Aunt Bessie. In some cases it’s just something that someone outgrew or just doesn’t need anymore.

Now it’s all carelessly just sitting amongst the rest of the used items with prices dispensed by a price sticker gun and applied by a person making minimum wage.

And it’s wonderfully amazing.

Granted, I prefer shopping at a place called Savers but they are not too close to us. The trade-off, however, is higher quality merchandise than most other thrift shops.

But today we went to Goodwill as we waited for the TJ Maxx next door to open – and that’s when the fun began.

This was one of the first items I saw when I walked in the store:

MAZEL TOV!

Um…Jewish maracas? Isn’t that like saying “Mexican gefilte fish”? And isn’t that price a little steep for being a thrift shop item? Look, I’m not perpetrating a negative stereotype here but that price is absolutely INSANE! Maybe, just maybe, they meant to label it $2.99 because after some Googling, I found said maracas (referred to as “Mazel Tov Maracas” for Bar and Bat Mitzvahs or other events) for as little as $9.99. Heck, one place was selling a dozen for $27.99.

Still, it’s not something you see every day – at least not this goy.

I did manage to find a few never-worn t-shirts from local 5ks from a few years ago that I ended up buying. It’s not like I like to pretend I run; I actually do as was evident in a post not so far back.

After finding my shirts, I decided to look through the collection of hats/caps which for some reason I try not to buy from places like this. While rummaging, I found this splendiferous pirate hat from Disneyland which Anthony was all-too-eager to model for me:

"I hate you, Dad."

This would have been a great find if Anthony’s name was Jimmy.

See, and this is what I don’t get: stuff from Disneyland is not cheap and generally kept forever as a memoir from a vacation or a day with the family. Why did Pirate Jimmy end up not wanting this anymore? Did something happen to him? Kind of sad but interesting to think about.

Finally, after coming across a baby blue trucker’s hat from Kennedy Space Center emblazoned with a silk-screened image of the Space Shuttle on the front panels, I saw this hat and literally was laughing to the point of slouching over and having aching sides:

Snip, snip!

Can you imagine trying to be on the field while wearing this hat and having your opponents constantly laughing at you? But maybe this was the [sic] Snippers’ strategy: to confuse the enemy with such a painful misspelling that the other team wouldn’t be able to concentrate on the game at hand and drive them into hysterics.

Hey, it worked on me.

Can’t wait for what I’ll see during our next visit.

Until then, I’ll have to live with the regret of not picking up this nifty jacket from Savers about a month ago:

Gotta love thrift shopping.

Sunday’s Activities

In addition to randomly coming across an Indy car in a parking lot on Sunday, here are a few other things we did along with even more pictures.

We love thrift shops and in particular, a chain called Savers. There used to be a few of them locally but unfortunately, they both closed so now we are reserved to traveling to the Anaheim location which considering we can hear the Disneyland fireworks from home, isn’t too far for us.

While we went for clothes, it’s always joy to meander through the store and check out shelf after shelf of useless and useful crap, oddities, trinkets, etc. You might even find a nice bike there if you’re lucky. But recently the crapfest hasn’t been as intriguing as it has been in the past so I’ve taken to looking at the books.

And here’s the kicker – I hate reading. Seriously, I do. Something has to be extremely interesting to make me sit and read it and for the most part, nothing does it. This is why Ann often doubts that I read the entire Lord of the Rings series in my younger years.

LOTR aside, novels don’t do it for me. I can’t stand them. This is why I thought this book might be an interesting read:

IMG_20120325_101052-picsay - Blackfyr

Come on, you know…Walt Whitman. Leaves of Grass and all that. I thumbed through it and while interesting, I guess I’m not all that enthralled with the man to even put down the couple of bucks they were asking for the 43-year-old book (hey, the same age as me). It was just letters he wrote to people. Interesting but…not enough for me.

I kept looking and found this one that was just the opposite:

IMG_20120325_105429-picsay - Hagrid,Hassel

How to Be Pope is written in the style of an instruction manual detailing how your life would be as pope: the people who work for you, the significance of the vestments, where you can dine, etc. It’s chock full of facts about Vatican City, a place that despite my leaving the Catholic church has always been a place I’d like to visit. For example, did you know there’s a gas station and railroad within the City? Sure, the rail system is only 2,600 feet but it’s there. I’m halfway through it and it has brought back memories of how elegant and time-honored Catholic mass truly is and I’d be remiss to say that at times, I do miss the elegance of the mass. It’s all so beautiful and, well, holy. It was the church’s politics that made me leave but there’s still a place in my heart for the grandeur of the mass. Pope John Paul II was awesome.

IMG_20120325_124729 - Ground

I had to pick this up. New season, new hat. #ItsTimeForDodgerBaseball!

Next to Savers is Vallarta Supermarket (or supermercado) which is, as if the name wasn’t a big enough indication, a Mexican market. It’s relatively new and is one of the most well-stocked, clean, and friendly mercados I’ve been to.

2011-11-20_10-31-54_HDR

You name it, the have it: carniceria (meat market) with prepared and unprepared meats of every variety, panaderia (bakery) with Mexican bread and tortillas made fresh, and even a restaurant that serves up some fantastic food at decent prices.

IMG_20120325_115657-picsay - Tjugo

The bakery had all sorts of goodies on display including these, which were two Mexican sugar cookies with frosting between them and an Oreo stuffed inside. You probably wouldn’t want to know the number of calories, grams of sugar, or lard in these things but you probably wouldn’t care once you took a bite.

IMG_20120325_111829-picsay - Blackten

This right here? This is what Heaven smells like and believe it or not, this is not even the entire row of pan dulce. This was all that would fit in the frame of my phone’s camera. We ended up buying about three bags of pan because hey, at 5 for $2, you would have, too.

We spent the rest of the day relaxing and enjoying the rainstorm that moved through our area which at times was a torrential downpour.

And doing tons of laundry.

By the way, the smell of a panaderia should be made into a chemical form and turned into a car air freshener, both spray and embedded into a little dangly thing in the shape of a piece of bread.

And if I were pope, you bet my Popemobile would have one – or several.

A New Life

I’d like to change gears with today’s post since the last one wasn’t exactly all daisies and rainbows. But if I can throw this in, we all miss Cindy terribly and are still reeling from her passing. More later, but let’s get to this post.

Since I met my weight loss goal well over a year ago, cycling has become a regular part of my exercise routine. And as you probably know, I used to ride my bike to work about a year ago, only to be harassed day after day after day about it. And while I truly do enjoy the ride my Trek 7100 delivers, I had been in the market for something different for some time now.

Like a Trek mountain bike that I could thrash the shit out of since, well, my 7100 couldn’t possibly handle that kind of abuse.

So I began looking online and at my local bike shop for something that would suit my needs. And yeah, I found what I wanted alright and yeah, it was not quite within my budget. Bummer.

Then one day while I was…somewhere I can’t remember right now, Ann sends me a text. Turns out that she was at the local thrift shop and, knowing I was in the market for another bike, told me she had found one. The conversation went a little something like this:

Ann: found a bike at thrift shop

Me: is it any good?

Ann: its a trek and $99

Me: really? send me a pic

Ann:

Me: not bad but its missing the crank! no thanks!

Ann: ok just checking. i didnt even notice that

Yes, this was exactly what I had been looking for only it was sort of broken and missing parts. There’d be no way in Hell I’d be willing to pay $100 for that dilapidated thing. Nuh-uh. No way.

Continue reading