House Beautiful

Goodwill Hunting: Ball Jar drinking glasses, Wine Corks, and Big ‘Ol Frames

Last week, I hit the junk store motherload.

For the last few months, I’ve been seeing this mysterious “Salvation Army” in the distance whenever I get on the highway.  That’s about enough to make someone like me drive over the guard rails in pursuit of mothball-covered treasures.  I went home and yelped it, but alas…  no dice.  Driving around trying to find it was like looking for Atlantis.  Remember that climactic scene in Labyrinth, when David Bowie keeps moving baby Toby around the MC Escher stairs so Jennifer Connelly can’t get to him?  It was like that.  Then, last week while I was running errands, I saw a teeeeeeny sign near the corner of Ashland & Clybourn in Chicago, and there she was – down a little path, tucked behind some buildings….  A diamond in the rough.  A most MASSIVE Salvation Army.  Hallelujah.

THIS place looked like 20 bombs went off inside Fraggle Rock.  I’ve seen some junk stores in my day, and I’ve neh-ver seen anything like this.  I thought a little goblin was going to crawl out from under one of the 957 mounds of crap in there and slime me.

Albeit messy, this place is still a treasure-trove.  It’s heavy on the dishes (see previous Goodwill Hunting post on how to mix-and-match dinnerware), board games, electronics and housewares, and light on the furniture, but all at traditionally dirt cheap Goodwill prices.  Aside from the goodies-to-be-had, trips to Goodwill always make for solid entertainment.  For instance:  I was at a thrift store with my cousin Jill recently, and some trucker (40 years my senior) sauntered over, handed me his number, and winked.  Thanks dude…  aces.  Last week, the old lady standing next to me in the dish aisle held up a ceramic statue of two rabbits doin’ the nasty and went, “heh-heh (spit), look a-dem guys!”  then let out a scary, deep-throated, raspy smoker laugh.  Ya kinda gotta love it.

On to the TREASURE HUNTING (!)  Here’s what was scored one rainy spring afternoon:

1)  A couple wide mouth Ball jars for 40 cents each.  I just can’t get enough of them.  They are my favorite drinking glasses, but can also be used 1,001 other ways.  Stay tuned for an upcoming Ode to Ball Jars post.

2)  A HUUUUUUUGE bag of corks for $2.  I’ve been collecting my own and wanting to do this for a long, long time…  and now I don’t have to sacrifice my liver to do it.  (Inspiration courtesy of the genius duo at Young House Love – a blog you should definitely be reading if you’re braving any form of DIY renovating).   Tip:  Place the candle in the hurricane FIRST so it’ll sit straight, then fill with corks.  

3)  This enormous map of Nantucket for $15. Granted; the rope is a little hokey, in an “ARRR matey” kinda way.  But the print is awesome.  (Note:  If you come across any large frames that are inexpensive and still in good shape – even if they’re a yucky color – SNAG ‘EM.  The next time you want something custom framed and don’t want to spend a fortune, spray paint your $10 Goodwill frame whatever color you like, then take it to the frame shop and have them use it to frame your print.  Or whatever.  You’ll still have to pay for the glass and the matting, but it will be EXPONENTIALLY cheaper.)

Nantucket looks swell in our dining room, which has 10 ft. ceilings and not much natural light, so a bright, larger-scale piece (this is about 48 inches wide in real life) is a plus.  As a general rule, art should be hung at eye-level, and I used that rule-of-thumb when hanging this piece.  But, I know – it’s still a smidge too low.  The light is also a smidge too high, but the cord isn’t long enough to drop it any further, and my landlord had to jimmy-rig it up there.  I’ll let you know if I have any additional excuses about why my dining room is still unfinished.

Okay, one more:  please exsqueeze the sparse room and naked windows.  It’s a work in progress, and being the most indecisive person in the universe, I haven’t chosen fabric for them yet.  Below are a few in the running…  thoughts?

(Clockwise, from top left:  Home Couture for Quadrille’s “Contessa” – available to the trade.  Rowe Furniture swatch.  Pottery Barn’s Gabrielle Jacquard.)

That’s all I scooped up this time around.  A Goodwill word to the wise:  even though everything is 10 cents, it doesn’t mean you need to buy everything.  Or anything at all, even.  Don’t take home anything you can’t use, don’t love or don’t need.  But if you love it, by all means, grab it!  Then take it home and give it (and yourself) a good scrub.


5 Responses to “Goodwill Hunting: Ball Jar drinking glasses, Wine Corks, and Big ‘Ol Frames”

  • Wide mouth Ball jars are also aces for making homemade pickles.

    A skill I picked up last summer and am still reaping the benefits. Yum.

  • Ahhh. That old man. I had almost forgotten about that.
    I really like that graphic print for curtains, but it will be the most demanding of the three.
    I’m in love with the jelly jars with the “heirloom quilt” motif.. They are excellent little wine glasses for around the house. They are also nice votive holders since the textured glass reflects the candlelight. We went to a wedding that used them to line the driveway to the celebration instead of luminaries. I heard that there were 250 of them! Zang!

  • Ooooh, the quiiilllllted kind (!) I actually NEVER see those anymore… except maybe in Nanny’s cabinets. That’s a GREAT idear though. And, do you mean you like the grey & white fabric best?

  • Valuable info. Lucky me I found your site by accident, I bookmarked it.

  • Mine eyes love the Pottery Barn’s Gabrielle Jacquard best. My favorite vase is a Ball Jar my granny gave me! So enjoy the blog!

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