• Garage Sale Review: Sunday morning garage sales

    Early morning Sunday garage sales can be hard to handle, especially if you went to 6th Street the night before like Gillian Rhodes did.
    Early morning Sunday garage sales can be hard to handle, especially if you went to 6th Street the night before like Gillian Rhodes did.

    Editor’s note: All photos were taken by Gillian Rhodes, Daily Texan Staff.

    Yo yo yo!

    Welcome to The Garage Sale Review! This entry, friends, marks Gillian and I’s seventh journey into the underbelly of Austin’s odds-and-ends culture. That means we’re straight-up grown-ups in yard sale years! Maturity — so exciting! In honor of graduating to hard-core, level 99, adult garage sale blogger status, we decided to make this coming-of-age post a very special one indeed. No, we didn’t host our own garage sale (that requires some granddaddy garage sale hero experience), but we did tackle a Herculean task almost as intense. We went garage selling on Sunday.

    Now, Sunday garage sales are wild, rabid beasts compared to garage sales on other days. On Saturdays, garage sales are a dime-a-dozen and it’s not too tough to wrangle up some interesting items for stories and photo-ops. Sundays, however, will eat you for breakfast if you don’t have the proper training. Garage sales on the Lord’s Day are the picked-over, chewed-up leftovers from Saturday yard sales. It’s a challenge to find the juicy stuff, so you’ve got to bring your A game. But get ready, people, because we brung it.

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    4703 Sagebrush Circle

    The morning started off with Gillian and I hoppin’ in my car and Gillian immediately yelling at me to pull over so she could puke. She had a tough night last night at Rio Rita’s and was paying for it this morning. I hit the emergency flashers, pulled to the side of the road, let her do the thing and took pictures. When she was “done” I asked her if she wanted me to take her home and I would fly a solo Sunday mission, but, she being the garage sale champion that she is, she wiped the vomit off of her face and pointed to the rugged road ahead.

    The first garage sale we checked out was being run by Danae. Danae’s garage sale was overloaded with baby stuff, which usually implies the turn, turn, turning of passing seasons and children growing up and their parents selling their old, saliva-crusted chew toys. With Danae, however, the baby toys and clothes that she was selling were just a bunch of stuff that her stepmother gave her to sell.

    She also had a bunch of knickknacks for sale. There was a hookah for $20 that she doesn’t use anymore, an old bicycle horn and an Insane Clown Posse action figure. I asked if she considered herself an I.C.P fan and she looked down and admitted that she used to be when she was younger. Wow! A reformed Juggalo! You don’t run into one of those everyday. I gave Danae a chance to explain her old I.C.P tendencies and she said that she grew out of the band. “So now I’m just kind of like ‘take this stuff away.’” Danae said. “I don’t know what happened.”

    7311 Scenic Oaks Circle

    This was a unique garage sale in that it was being held as a benefit for the garage seller’s boyfriend, who passed away a couple of weeks ago. Tish was selling the stuff so she could give some of the proceeds to the family. She didn’t want to be photographed, but she said it’d be OK if we checked out what she had for sale.

    Also, Tish was very proud of her garage sale sign placement. She said that she had made sure to put helpful signs on busy intersections that effectively directed people to her garage sale. I have to admit, Tish was right. Her signs were quite clear and helpful. It’s nice to run into a garage seller who really cares.

    We found some interesting ceramics (leftovers from a neighbor’s garage sale) like that cute little squirrel and that cute little peeing dog and a nice little rock collection, but the real treasure was the box of cassette tapes in the backyard.

    There were some truly golden-oldies in the box, so Gillian and I dove right in and came up with some great finds. An Air Supply’s greatest hits tape was there along with Stevie Wonder, Dolly Parton and even good ol’ Bill Cosby. Talk about some heavenly tunes! If you’re listening to our garage sale music montage, you don’t need me to tell you.

    We were about to head out when we ran into Helene, a fellow garage seller and a redhead to boot! Helene approached me with no hesitation whatsoever and gave me a friendly “Oh, a fellow redhead.” Whoa! Helene definitely knew just what to say to warm my heart and make my acquaintance. We exchanged heritage stats (standard protocol when redheads meet) and I found out Helene is a Russian redhead (she said I look like I’ve got some Scandinavian ginger in me). I asked her if she’d be interested in telling me a little about her garage selling experiences and she said she would be glad to help. That’s the best part about yard sales — the friendly people who share each other’s passion for cheap crap. The common interest connection is enough to give me goose bumps.

    “I love [garage selling],” Helena said. “It’s like a treasure hunt. You never know what you’ll find. Yesterday I went out and found a beautiful end table. It would go for like 90 or 100 dollars for sure and I got it for 15.”

    1104 Austin Heights Blvd.

    Our next garage sale stop brought us to the yard of Yohan and Elisa. This garage sale had caught our eye because it was a rare “Sunday only” model. It takes a strong-spirited garage seller to brave the treacherous waters of a Sunday-exclusive garage sale, so there was no way we could pass it up. I asked them why they chose to defy garage sale logic and Elisa said that it was simply a matter of not being able to get off of work in time to make it happen on Saturday. Risky business, I say, but Gillian and I wished them well.

    The couple had some nice items for sale, including some international fare from Greece and China, a cool owl, a wine glass from a 1992 prom and a bunch of old VHS tapes. Yohan told me that a garage sale shark, which, as Yohan delicately put it, is one of “the old men who show up at like 6 a.m.,” had snatched up the only old porno tape he had, but he assured me there were still some good movies available. He was right, and for $1 each there were definitely some steals. Also, we found a garage sale kitty that, according to Elisa, had just started hanging out earlier that morning when they were setting up. There’s nothing like a photo of a cute garage sale kitty to boost blog traffic.

    1716 Bissel Lane

    Our final stop of the morning was Gary’s garage sale. Gary owns a floor covering business and he was selling a lot of mint-condition power tools to help him make some money to pay rent and bills. Gary said that his business had dropped off to the point that he was considering moving to a different city where the rent wasn’t so high, but in the meantime he was selling his tools at 25 percent of what he paid for them. He wasn’t very excited about having to sell his equipment, but he said that he didn’t have another choice. Chin up, Gary! The tools were in great condition, so hopefully somebody scooped them up and gave Gary some quick cash for them after we left.

    Gary was also very into rockin’ music, judging by his extensive rock cassette tape collection (we grabbed The Cars, Creed and a few other can’t-miss tapes) and also his $4000 drum kit (that he was selling for $2000).

    OK, you guys, we’re glad y’all could make it out this week. Tune in next time because garage selling is cool!

  • Apron Optional: Shortbread

    The shape and firmness of shortbread make it an easy snack to wrap up and send to friends and family. This simple, five-ingredient recipe can have warm shortbread ready in a little over half an hour.
    The shape and firmness of shortbread make it an easy snack to wrap up and send to friends and family. This simple, five-ingredient recipe can have warm shortbread ready in a little over half an hour.

    Where to begin? This week has been chaotic.

    I’ve been in the hectic process of moving out of my apartment. I am always equal parts amazed and disgusted by the sheer magnitude of stuff I am able to cram into my apartment. It’s insane, really.

    What’s the plus side to all of this madness you may ask? I will be spending the next week in Paris with my family. I’m ecstatic just thinking about the art and food — I can’t decide which is more exciting. Since we are staying in an apartment next week, I will actually be cooking for you from France — in my French kitchen!

    Because of all this hustle and bustle, I wanted to make something relatively simple that would also serve as a good travel snack (I think I build up the drive to Houston in my head as some grand excursion and prepare as such).

    Although I make desserts a lot, I’m don’t really have a huge sweet tooth. With the exception of a few things, I never really ‘crave’ dessert (don’t think that stops me from eating them often).

    One thing I can’t resist is a good piece of shortbread. The crunchy, crumbly texture is almost as addicting as the rich, buttery flavor. It’s one of those things that tastes so perfect in its simplicity. Really, the only flaw in shortbread is me — I could polish off a whole tin of it in one sitting if I’m not careful.

    Shortbread is relatively easy to make, and it comes out consistently well. But I am convinced that the more carefully you follow the recipe, the better they come out. Sometimes the simpler something is, the more noticeable the quality can be.

    You can make your cookies in a round pan and cut them into triangles, kind of like pizza slices. Or, you can do what I prefer and make rectangular bars. Really, they can be any shape you like (I almost considered longhorn-shaped cookies!). But the smaller they are, the better they pack without breaking.

    Packablility is something to consider, primarily if you’re giving your shortbread to someone. The cookie itself travels well and could easily be sent to a friend far away or delivered to that lucky son of a gun nearby. I mean what a great gift, right? FYI: I’m always registered for shortbread gifts.

    Now I know this isn’t exactly a revolutionary idea, but the other great thing about shortbread is its incredible dipping ability. My personal dunking (or spreading, if you’re fancy) favorites are Nutella and jam, such as strawberry or red/black current.

    I used a recipe I found on Allrecipes.com because it was simple (it only has three ingredients!), but I added 2 teaspoons of pure vanilla and a pinch of kosher salt to enhance the flavor. In this case, the vanilla doesn’t so much alter the flavor as it enhances the buttery taste — and who doesn’t want that?

    Until next week, au revoir! (I should really learn how to say something else in French before I get there...)

  • Weekend Recs: Third Thursday, Swanky Jazzy, Pop on Cello, Happy Birthday Iggi

    The Blanton Museum is hosting a free evening of art and activities, with main events including a screening of John Berger’s 1972 BBC television series “Ways of Seeing,” yoga in the galleries and a book club discussion on “Snoop: What Your Stuff Says About You” led by Sam Gosling, UT psychology professor and author of the book.

    WHAT: Third Thursday at the Blanton
    WHEN: July 21 at 5 p.m.
    WHERE: The Blanton Museum

    Lead by Austin’s swanky six-piece jazz band The Copa Kings, the HighBall is traveling back in time to the sophisticated days of the ’30s, ’40s and ’50s with straight scotch over ice, swing dancing and some scat singing.

    WHAT: The Copa Kings
    WHEN: July 22 at 7 p.m.
    WHERE: The HighBall

    Classically-trained pop cellist Ben Sollee and his bandmates are making a pit stop in Austin, perhaps hot off their bicycles. Known for their quirks — from touring across America and hauling their instruments on bikes to intertwining American folk with pop and classical music — the band is the perfect dose of flawless musicality and youthful fun.

    WHAT: Ben Sollee with Thousands
    WHEN: July 23 at 8 p.m.
    WHERE: The Parish
    ADMISSION: $12 online, $15 at door

    The deliciously greasy vegan food trailer, Iggi’s Texatarian is celebrating its first birthday this Saturday with live music from DJ uLovei and DJ Fredster and bands such as Coma in Algiers, Wicked Poseur and The Bang Bang Theodores. There’ll also be some yummy food from Iggi’s and Asian fusion trailer Me So Hungry and face painting!

    WHAT: Iggi’s One-Year Anniversary Party
    WHEN: Saturday, July 23 from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m.
    WHERE: Cheer Up Charlie’s
    ADMISSION: Free, 21+

  • Art in Translation: The Trees Have Souls

    (Photo Courtesy of Davis Gallery)
    (Photo Courtesy of Davis Gallery)

    I’ll admit, I have really come to love having an excuse to go these art excursions and this week was no different. I stopped in to Davis Gallery on the corner of West 12th Street and Shoal Creek Boulevard, intent on writing about an abstract cityscape I had seen online.

    Not wanting to short change any of you, I made a courtesy lap around the gallery to ensure I had not missed anything — and boy, I did. I struck gold, or at least gold leaf, with Sandra Langston’s charcoal sketch “Tree of Souls.” I turned the corner while I was making my way through the gallery and it literally stunned me with its, well, soul.

    Before I get into this piece, it might be helpful for me to give you a little background on how I fell in love with not art, but art history.

    In high school, I was always frustrated by the fact that I never really found my niche in any of my classes or extracurricular activities. Then, my senior year I took Advanced Placement Art History and it finally clicked. For the first time, I wasn’t just interested in what I was studying; I was enchanted by it — and by other subjects by proxy. After deciding to double major in art history, I took a survey class on modern art, my longtime favorite.

    Although the professor was a somewhat kooky woman (in the most fantastic way, I can assure you), she said something that has shaped how I look at art ever since. “The reason so many people hate modern art is that so much of it is just paint splattered on a canvas, just a picture, just hotel art. When you study [modern art], you come to find that the pieces that work have a soul. You can feel them,” she said.

    And with that, we can now move into this week’s piece. “Tree of Souls” caught my eye because it was so different from the rest of the pieces on display. In a gallery of colorful paintings and mixed media installations, the black and white sketch is a clear departure from the rest of the art in their Summer Group Show. The gold leaf painted on the wispy, energetic tree leaves, however, gives it the ethereal quality that draws you in.

    Langston, originally from Austin, currently lives in the middle of an olive grove in Southern Italy. Although these groves consist of dozens of streamlined rows of thin trees, every once in a while, you will find an olive tree that is centuries old. These behemoths are incredibly thick and gnarly, showing a sort of individual character that can’t be found in the groves.

    The artist was struck by how much life you could see in a tree such as this. It seems as though she is showing the soul of the tree or perhaps even the souls which the tree has experienced over the years. Either way, the golden leaves give it a hint of magic that immediately makes my mind go to childhood nature movie favorites such as “Pocahontas” and “Fern Gully.” Just wait before you roll your eyes.

    Think of a time when something in nature really struck you or touched you in some way. If you haven’t, go to a park and close your eyes or something. Think about the trees rustling lightly and that hint of breeze brushing over your shoulder as you look up through the branches and see golden gleams of sun (much like the piece’s golden leaves) shining through the leaves. It’s not just a view. It’s a feeling, and it’s a feeling Langston has captured in her drawing.

    Has a work of art ever given you that sort of experience?