The Junk Year in Review

This is the time of year when knowledgeable sages prepare their reviews of the past year. You know, best movies, books, plays. The time when we re-cap all the momentuous stuff that happened in the world. Well, if that’s what you want, better look someplace else. I know I should be taking stock of the past year; its ups and downs, highlights and lowlifes. Maybe something spiritually and morally uplifting. Seriously, me? Morally uplifting? Not so much. However, I did think it might be fun to share my junky triumphs of the past year with my readers. And maybe a few tribulations. Like the basement full of snake tanks at an estate sale I stumbled into this past fall. Or the cheeky Buckhead Betty who tried to yoink the little antique oak barley-twist table I’d stashed behind the cash table at a sale earlier in December. Nearly had to pull out the pepper spray on the bee-yotch. Or maybe you’d like to hear about the truly creepy North Carolina country junk shop crawling with hundreds of cats–and the vaguely Deliverance-ish vibe the owner of the place gave off. Or maybe hear me admit I paid $15 for a repro Mercury glass candlestick with the Pottery Barn label plainly visible on the bottom, had I but looked. Nah, let’s forget that sutff. Instead, here are some of the highlights, and some of my favorite junk finds of 2011.

Savannah Estate Sale

Early January found me nesting at The Breeze Inn on Tybee Island, to get some writing done. We had a freezing start to the New Year, but on that first weekend, my friends Diane and Susan and I found a great estate sale in Ardsley Park, a historic Savannah neighborhood of gracious old homes. The pros running the sale even put out a propane heater to keep the customers warm while we waited for the doors to open.

Loads of exquisite china, silver and antiques in dining room.

The sale was great, but I skipped over the pricey stuff and picked up mostly fun, funky stuff for my booth at Seaside Sisters.

Couldn't resist this sweet vintage straw hat.

Wouldn't you like to have dined at Stewart's?At the February Scott’s Antique Market, I scored this adorable vintage wool child’s Little League shirt. Vintage children’s clothing in good condition are always scarce, probably because most of the time back in the day, clothes got handed down multiple times–until they were too worn out to save.

Old bench, new to me.

I spoke to an old friend’s book club last winter, and when it was over, she gave me this wonderful antique wooden bench that she’d inherited. Took it home, did a little wood-strip number on it, along with some very amateurish upholstery work, and now it has pride of place in our sun-room.

The Junk Posse Heads Out!

In March, members of my junk posse hit an estate sale in the far north suburbs, aimed only with our GPS and a willingness to hunt for treasures.

Vintage split-reed porch furniture

I nearly leapt from the moving car when I spotted this fabulous porch furniture. After some wheeling and dealing, it was mine. Had to get Mr. MKA to bring the truck to get it all home, and the peeling paint flakes left a tell-tale trail all the way down the interstate. But after some serious wire-brushing, power-washing and spray painting

How could I resist this vintage turquoise bowling shirt?

, it replaced the previous set of wicker furniture on the porch at The Breeze Inn. March found me back at the Scott’s Antique Market, and visiting various estate sales in and around Atlanta. I loved this bowling shirt, but since it was a size six, it got sold at Seaside Sisters.

Here's that old split-reed furniture, repainted and re-covered.

By April, we’d gotten the porch furniture ready to install at The Breeze Inn. The wicker furniture that had been there got sold within an hour of putting it out for sale at Seaside Sisters. It was a win-win swap.In May, I was cruising down my street in Atlanta when I spotted something sitting at the curb in front of a neighbor’s house. By the time I stopped the car and got out, two men were wrestling with the thing. Dejected, I asked them if they were taking the thing, but to my delight, they replied that they were actually putting it ON the curb. Then they offered to load it into my car! Ka-Ching! The thing turned out to be a vintage anesthesiology machine that had been in my late neighbor’s medical office. Despite Mr. MKA’s complete disbelief that anybody would want “that piece of crap,” I took it down to Seaside Sisters where it sold for about $125.

Also in May, we attended a fun golf outing in the North Georgia mountains, where my friend Jinxie and I shopped at a flea market where we spotted a first–headstones! We didn’t purchase one, but later in the day, at a shop in Cleveland, GA., I did buy this awesome (if cracked) vintage Nestea iced tea crock for $18.

In June? Well, June 6, my 18th book, SUMMER RENTAL came out, and I was off on book tour for most of the month, which remains a blur. I can remember being in Nag’s Head, when my editor called to tell me that we were Number 5 on the New York Times bestseller list. Not a lot of junking got done. But. . . wait. I was doing a signing at the fabulous Page & Palette Books a week or so later, when a fan told me about an estate sale going on in a nearby neighborhood. So I sweet-talked my book escort into doing a drive-by on the way back to my Mobile hotel room where I scored an excellent antique quilt top. See, linens are great for book tours, because you can just slide them into your luggage, not that being on book tour has ever deterred me from junking. In the summer of 2009, when I was on tour for THE FIXER-UPPER, I found the most amazing old wooden sign at a shop on the Jersey shore. I had to be back at my hotel and dressed for dinner with my agent within an hour, but I still managed to buy the sign and have it shipped home. Today, it has a place of honor at The Breeze Inn.

I never let a book tour get in the way of junking.

By July, I was back home (mostly) awaiting the birth of our first grandson, Griffin. But on the day he was due, I got so nervous waiting for him to be born, I took a quick trip down to Scott’s Antique Market before heading over to the hospital. Can’t remember what I bought that day, but the definite find of the day was our little man!

July 9, no junk, just a hunk o' love--John Griffin!


By August, I was off book tour and deep in the throes of trying to finish TFB (which stands for The Friggin’ Book). But somehow, this made me even more junk hungry.I ran away from home to write, all the way to the North Carolina mountain house of my friends Beth and Richard. Where I managed to use the carrot-and-stick rewards system. So many pages of writing in exchange for junking jaunts. Here’s the sweet child’s bentwood chair I found at a new honey hole. Also a tomato, because I ate lots of tomatoes bought from road-side stands.

On that trip, I found an honest-to-goodness treasure trove, The Depot at Gibson Mill, which is in Concord, N.C. Located in an old textile mill, the Depot is an antique mall of gargantuan proportions. Prices are good, and they have great stuff. Seriously great stuff.

Back home in September, I hit some really good estate sales, including the one where all the below treasures were discovered, including the vintage set of Pyrex mixing bowls with a book value of about $75–and I think I paid around $5.

Loads of goodies were unearthed at this Meemaw estate sale in Atlanta’s Virginia-Highlands neighborhood. I loved this old Black Flag atomizer, and put it in the Halloween display in my booth, where it sold pdq.


An excellent estate sale score!

October was an excellent month for junking. At my friend Clay’s moving sale, I scored a great vintage metal dental cabinet, and also a bunch of great plaid blankets, picnic baskets and thermoses which made a great display in my booth.

This vintage dental cabinet sold shortly after it went into my booth.
I went mad for plaid in October at Seaside Sisters.

November brought a yard sale at my neighbor’s house a few doors down. I bought a great patio set and a cool old general store cubbie, but I was delighted at what she gifted me with–a vintage turquoise toy Tonka truck, which she’d rescued from her neighbor’s trash pile. I posted a photo of it on facebook, and a fan emailed me that she had the matching trailer for my truck–which she promptly sent me. I think I have the nicest readers in the world.

Love this turquoise Tonka truck.

And the junking didn’t stop just because the weather got cold in Atlanta. I hit a Meemaw estate sale of a hoarder, and found three holidays worth of loot–vintage Halloween masks and candles, an Easter basket, and some Christmas collectibles too, including a set of vintage plaid Mahoganite dishes.

Christmas came in early December with this estate sale!

So, yes, it was the best of times for junking in 2011. Also for book sales. I was in such a junky mood as Christmas  neared that I determined to gift members of the junk posse with upcycled estate sale treasures. (I prefer this term to re-gifted–all my recipients were told that I’d gleaned their gifts at sales.) Junker Jinxie is a retired school-teacher who collects children’s chairs. She got a sweet little antique bentwood oak chair found at an estate sale earlier in the year. Junker Suze loves nature, so she got a vintage-looking birdhouse picked up at a moving sale. Friend Shay and her husband joined us on a magical trip to Tuscany in 2010, so she got a gorgeous Tuscany coffee table book scored at a Buckhead moving sale, and friend Ellen got an amaryllis I forced and planted in an estate sale silverplate bowl. All the giftees also got paperwhites we forced ourselves. I wrapped everything with wide cotton ribbon found on clearance at Ballard’s Backroom. It made me  happy just looking at the display I set up in front of my Welsh cupboard.

Just a lil' Christmas sumthin' for the junk posse.

So, that’s my year in review. No revolutions in Egypt, no boring Iowa caucuses. Just junk, every month of the year. And may 2012 be just as junky!



1 thought on “The Junk Year in Review”

  1. I just finished reading your Junk Year in Review while enjoying cheese eggs from Waffle House… 🙂 It’s really hard to pick a favorite thing from all the fun you had…. but the anesthesiology machine has to be one of my favorites for sure! Mr. MKA sounds like my husband when I bring stuff home sometimes. And then when it sells he just shakes his head… LOL Why, after all these years, do they still continue to doubt us?? I’m going to check the paper and Craigslist now…. you’ve made me want to go junking this morning!

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