Gone Thrifting!

[For “1969 Poodle Wall Plaque” giveaway, see end of post and leave a comment!]

Do you ever go “thrifting”? The phrase is trending, but the act itself has been around for decades. As a teenager (early 1980s), I loved heading to Little 5 Points, in Atlanta, to visit the vintage clothes stores (Stefan’s, Junkman’s Daughter) and then head over to the AMVETS thrift store on Moreland Avenue, for hours of perusing. I scored all kinds of wonderful, magical things in those shops…clothes, of course, but also jewelry (they don’t make ‘em like they used to!!) shoes, purses, scarves, gloves, and at AMVETS they sold household items as well — I got some fantastic blown glass vases and some glasses, framed art, all the fun stuff! I still have a lot of the things I bought. Some are put away in boxes, but some are out, about my home, and I enjoy them every day! 

Currently I frequent just two thrift shops in the Atlanta area, City Thrift in Lilburn, GA and the Goodwill near my home in Peachtree Corners.  I have scored some SERIOUS loot at these places! I want to share some of the amazing finds I’ve had recently, and how I’ve upcycled some of the items. I also want to note how appreciative I am that people are willing to take the time to donate items they no longer need.

Visiting a thrift shop can be overwhelming, so I have a few tips to share for folks who are interested.

Tip 1 — Visit often, keep it short.

I found that if I visit the shop often, say — once a week, and stay for about 30 minutes, I tend to be able to spot great stuff easily. Some items will stay on the shelves for weeks, so if you visit regularly you will stop noticing the things that don’t interest you and be able to recognize the new inventory. Taking in everything on the shelves or racks can be overwhelming. Thirty minutes is about the maximum time I can focus while thrifting, too.

Tip 2 — Focus on one or two departments per trip.

This is related to my first tip: One thrifting trip might be a visit down all the “home goods” aisles — kitchen items, home decor, small appliances, and outdoor decor such as flower pots and garden items. In another visit, focus on shoes, handbags, belts, hats/scarves, and jewelry. Or focus on looking at just jackets and sweaters. My brain gets foggy when I try to take on much more than that. I do admit, I always head straight to the small appliances, though, every single visit. I am obsessed with finding espresso machines — I’ve found three so far (gifted them to two of my sons)!

Tip 3 — Fuel yourself!

Make sure you aren’t hungry, thirsty, or in need of a bathroom visit. Sorta ruins the fun otherwise…

Tip 4 — Keep your eye out for the unusual, and keep an open mind!

Most everything is cheap in a thrift store. If something really catches my eye, I will buy it even if I don’t want to keep it “forever”. As my sister-in-law once said, “Think of it as a rental program! Buy it, enjoy it a while, then re-donate it!” That actually makes a lot of sense to me. I’ve always been of the mindset that, when I buy something, I’m going to always have it, and I’d better make the best use of what I have. I do that to a degree, but thrift shop items are low cost, and it can be fun to buy something a little outside my comfort zone or my taste, and get creative with it! Upcyling (refashioning something thought to be useless into something of greater value) can be delightful and rewarding, too!

Tip 5 — Prepare for AMAZING finds!

Read on to see the fantastical stuff I’ve found while thrifting!


This Italian-made espresso machine retails for $200+ and it was new, in-box when I spotted it at City Thrift! My BEST buy ever!!

Unique Barware

George Briard Mid-Century cocktail glasses, on eBay for $50+, and have real gold detail. Festive at the holidays!
Another set of fun holiday glassware!

More kitchen and housewares

This German dessert set looked as if it was never used! It was one of my pricier purchases, $50. It’s so much fun to use in when friends are over. I love the curve of the coffee pot, and the sassy style of the cream and sugar set!
Some 99-cent items, and how I use them.
These square vases caught my teen’s eye. He used them to create a vignette of succulent plants for his nightstand.
This wicker trunk is from Bombay Company. It matches my decor perfectly!
I found these frames on different visits at City Thrift. I like to look for unusual shaped frames, and especially tiny frames! These are pics of me with each of my sons:)

Fun Apparel


Unicorn Thrifting Find — A 3-D Printer

This 3-D Printer had just been rolled out onto the floor when my son and I walked in to Goodwill, in late 2019. We already had a 3-D printer but this one had additional features and was half retail price (it came with original receipt from Amazon!). It took the guys a little work to get it going, but now they use it for most of their 3-D projects.

Upcycling

I love these medallions, but decided to upcyle them to fit with my bedroom decor. I do love using the chalk paint!

This mirror was on its way to the thrift store from my dad’s garage. The frame is plastic, so I decided to try chalk paint on it!
In its finished space, it looks like a fine wood-carved frame! I love it!


Do you enjoy thrifting? Have you had fun and success, upcyling? I’d love to read about your experiences. Please share in the comments!

***If you’d like to enter my Thrifted Giveaway, (randomly chosen 4/30/21) to become the lucky owner of this adorable pair of 1969 Miller Studios Poodle Wall Plaques, please leave a comment below!***

These plaques measure approximately 6″ x 9″ and are painted plaster, 1969/1970 Miller Studios originals. Similar here!

A corner of my kitchen

I have a spot in my kitchen that is all set up for making espresso drinks. I can remember how, when I was growing up in the 70s, my mother would sit for hours and hours at the kitchen table with her sister and their friends, laughing, talking, and pouring and sipping their coffee. Mama drank hers black. She liked good strong coffee! Coffee for her was something to be savored and enjoyed and crafted. As an adult I liked the coffee she made, but I never had a big cup, a small cup was plenty for me — and I definitely had it black, too. I like to taste it!

That’s why an espresso machine is perfect for my taste in coffee. It’s just a small amount at a time, and it’s nice & rich. It’s crafted. I like it.

About 6 years ago I got my first espresso machine. I paid $5 for it at a thrift shop. It was a little Krups machine that probably cost $99 new. I wasn’t fancy. It just had one button and one knob, and a steam wand for the milk. It was a perfect intro to espresso making. Through trial and error I learned how to make a good espresso and I enjoyed that machine for a few years.

Usually when I’m having a latte, I brew the espresso directly into the cup then pour the steamed milk on top.

This time, with my Krups machine, I steamed the milk first, poured it into my cup, and then brewed the espresso into the milk, just to see what it would be like. This is what appeared: an image of Mother and Child. I couldn’t have designed this myself if I’d tried!


Eventually the portafilter (where the grounds sit) started leaking, so I gave it to my son, who took it to our basement workshop where it will be taken apart (probably for the pump inside). 

I spent some time (ok, a LOT of time) online, researching espresso machines. I wanted a new one that was simple to use, with not too many bells and whistles, that was affordable, and one that would be a step up from the Krups. I did find a great machine — the Italian-made Gaggia Classic.

It makes terrific espresso shots, and the steamed milk is pretty decent, although I think the newer models have improved the technology in that area. Anyway I don’t have lattes too often — I usually just enjoy just having a simple espresso shot in the morning.

I upped my game and got a fancy grinder Christmas 2019. That was fun! It’s niiiiiice.


I have some lovely accoutrements which bring me great pleasure while I have my coffee. This little café caddy belonged to my late mother and houses my collection of special cups and mugs and flavorings.

Some are thrifted, some were gifts, and some were Mama’s. I bought the two pretty glasses in Valencia, Spain and they cost about 50 cents each. The shop owner recalled to me how her father and his friends used to drink their coffee out of those exact kinds of glasses every day. I liked the idea of that! (Why didn’t I buy more than two??)

One of my favorite things in the caddy is this little coffee pot salt & pepper set I inherited. Mama bought it online about 15 years ago. She was very surprised when the set arrived, because she was expecting a full-sized double-burner coffee warmer! She didn’t know it was a miniature salt & pepper set. “I wondered why it was so cheap…” she mused! Mama had such a great sense of humor and she didn’t mind laughing at herself. She always kept the little Lockhorns cartoon with it, tucked underneath!


The very best part of my espresso experience is the coffee itself. No matter how awesome the equipment is, if you don’t have good coffee beans, it won’t taste good. It just won’t. I am very lucky because my brother Rob owns a coffee shop, Java Lords Coffee House & Bar, in Little 5 Points, Atlanta, GA. He roasts the coffee beans himself — they are super fresh and Fair Trade, too.

My favorites are the beans from Yirgacheffe and Tanzania. There is a natural, subtle variation with every batch Rob roasts, but these particular beans tend to have a warm, sweet, fruity aroma! Rob always has a terrific house blend on hand, which he calls “Lord’s House”.

Other special roasts include Mourning Blend (that “u” changes the meaning, right) Dead Souls’, and Darkness Blend. He also roasts beans from Sumatra, Thailand, Mexico, Columbia, Peru, Brazil, Nicaragua, and other places as well. In my opinion, Java Lords sells the best coffee beans. When I can’t get over L5P to replenish, I do like to buy Allegra Coffee Beans from Whole Foods. They are pretty good and I enjoy those espressos, but when I get back to my Java Lords beans…it’s just soooo good! 

I’m lucky to have come up with a great combination of elevated equipment, my pretty tableware, and the unparalleled coffee beans. It’s a nice start to my day and I just love it! Do you have a coffee ritual, or a machine you love? Do you have special mugs or other accoutrements that give you warm feelings? Leave me a comment! I’d love to hear…