Category Archives: Other people’s junk

Working the street again

If there is an award for junk empress of the year, I believe I would definitely qualify to enter.

Last week Rob and I went to our favourite sushi place in Obs, on the way passing a stack of clean, freshly-cut pieces of melamine propped against a lamp post. As I lunged joyfully forwards, Rob suggested that I leave them for the trip back to the car after we’d eaten. (Actually, his words were “For God’s sake, Jill, drop them!”) Reluctantly I agreed. In hindsight, I never should have listened to him (and never will again) because some thieving no-good villain had nicked them while I was california-rolling. I have learnt my lesson. Never put sushi before junk.

In this context, I was more than gratified to stumble across – the very next day – on the pavement in Salt River:


Yip, that’s right – an old busted breadbin and a bit of wooden shelf. Hoo ha! They are now clean and awaiting some primer and some ivory paint so I can use them for my market display.

As I scrabbled excitedly amongst the pile of junk on the pavement, hoping for more treasure, Rob stood watching in horror. His only comment this time: “Thank God my parents can’t see this.”

Moving on.
I’ve managed to potter around a bit with some crochet and some papier maché and even some “gardening” in the last day or two, so I feel like my brain is no longer doing this…

my mind

…and there’s a good chance I’ll soon be back to normal.

To be continued…


another stool sample

{Sorry, I love that pun}.

So, a couple of weeks ago I was standing at my sink doing the washing-up. It was a Monday morning, quite early, and everyone was putting their rubbish bins out on the pavement because Monday’s the day the rubbish men come to Rosebank. I see the woman from the house across the road dumping her black bags and then she chucks out a piece of furniture!!! I was in my flip-flops and over the road before you could say “Other people’s junk”.

Turns out that it was a stool – was originally once a chair but the back disappeared – that had been in her great grand-mother’s house back on the farm.  I don’t which farm, or where, nor am I particularly good pals with this neighbour, but I do know that I can’t bring myself to relieve somebody of something that reminds them of their family history. No, not even me. Are you sure? Yes. Sigh.


That’s what it looked like. I said I would clean and sand it down and maybe give it another coat of paint. I also decided to make a round cushion for it. Now it looks like this:


As you can see, I got two free models – Jessie, and part of Alex.

I did give it another coat of paint, and tidied it up very nicely underneath, but I like the distressed look so I sanded it down all over again.  For the cushion, I couldn’t decide which fabric looked nicer so I used both! The orange is a shweshwe cotton that I love, and that you can get in all different colours now. The cushion also gave me the opportunity to try something I’ve had on the back burner in my head: crocheting an edge on something fabric. It’s hardly original, you’ve probably all been doing it for years, but Janette’s post about her apron (here) and the useful tip about working a row of chain stitch first  (here) via Ellen, finally got me going. My crocheted shells ended up being a bit tight, which is why they’ve flipped up and stayed flipped, but I still like the effect.

Liesl was getting rid of it because she said it was cluttering up their garage so perhaps it means less to her than it would to someone else (me!), but I said I’d do it for her and I have. Now all I have to do is take it back across the road. But what’s the rush? Maybe later — I’ve gotten quite fond of it.

To be continued…


On the pavement in Main Road Woodstock yesterday, I spotted a crate. Getting a crate has been on my list for a while now, because it would be so useful from a market/packing up point of view. Businesses who use crates don’t just give them away, however, and I wasn’t sure how I was going to acquire one for myself.  I got very excited by a bright pink crate outside a health shop in Sea Point last week but it belonged to the bakery who delivers the sugarless oat biscuits and I had to walk away from it.

The Woodstock crate was particularly attractive because it was wide with low sides, more like a bakery crate than a milk crate. It was a bit broken on one side but I felt I could overlook that because the colour made up for it.
I continued past the crate as if it held no interest for me at all, and proceeded to Wool World on the hunt for suitable cotton for bikinis. Coming back, the crate was still there. This is always the sign for me when I spot something on the side of the road – if it’s still there on my second cruising, it’s meant for me.

I thought I should check with the nearest shop, since I don’t ever want to get caught stealing anything, so I went in. It was a café (in South Africa this is a corner shop, where you get bread, newspapers, cigarettes, sweets, etc, maybe you’d call it a newsagent in the UK; not a café like you would find on the cobblestoned streets of Paris) and I asked the man at the till if the crate was his.

Man: I don’t know.

Me: But does it belong to you?

Man: I’m not sure. I’m just looking after the shop for my friend.

Me: Okay, but do you think that crate belongs to him?

Man: What crate?

Me: There’s a dirty old broken crate outside, and if it’s for junk then I want it.

Man: What for?

Me: You know what, never mind, it’s fine, it’s fine. Keep the crate.

Man: Maybe it’s not broken.

Me: It is broken but it doesn’t matter. Thanks.

Man: Take the crate.

Me: But maybe it belongs to your friend who owns the shop?

Man: He’s not really my friend. Take it.

Here is my lovely crate, in the process of being packed up for the Pinelands market on Saturday.  See – it doesn’t take much to make me happy!?!!

To be continued…

oranges and apples

I love it when I’ve had something lying uselessly around for ages waiting for me to conjure up its destiny, and then I do!

I found a bag of these fabric flowers at a weird dusty little habby shop in Retreat months ago, and finally it came to me – stick them on a paper lantern.


I smoothed some cold glue onto each flower, covering it quite well, then smoothed the flower onto the paper.  When it was dry, I splodged on some modge podge just to make sure it wouldn’t fall off later. The podge has given the surface quite a nice varnishy look, so I might add more later and see what happens. Even if the paper gets damp and goes transparent, I’ve discovered that it will dry back to normal.

And now that the previously-disadvantaged flowers have had a happy ending, I think I will have to go back and scrummage (rummage?) for more.

Lastly, just a quickie idea – last night my honorary in-laws took us all for dinner at Al’s Grill in Rondebosch. Jason ordered an Appletiser and, after he’d poured it into his glass, something about the shape of the bottle spoke to me. I took it home, washed it, sloshed some white acrylic paint inside, and let it dry overnight. Now it looks like this:

I love the lime-green effect. Apologies for the lousy picture, I get very excited when I’m ready to post about something and am in too much of a rush to spend time on the styling or the background. heh

To be continued…

Cheap Luxury – Xmas craft #1

Cheap Luxury is a South African blog run by Natalie and Elaine up in the Big Guava Johannesburg.  (We Capetonians have a reputation for thinking our city is superior to all others – sorry guys!).  The favourite joke a while ago, before the Transvaal became Gauteng, was:  What’s the definition of a Transvaler? Answer: Someone who can’t get a job in Cape Town.  (‘Gautenger’ doesn’t have quite the same ring to it, does it?). Okay, sorry sorry guys, kidding.

So, I’ve been following Cheap Luxury for a while now and love the local tips and info about our own strange little world down here at the tip of Africa. They once featured me as a “Fabulous Follower” (here), and for weeks afterwards I was recognised by strangers in supermarkets and stalked by the paparazzi.

The girls asked if anyone wanted to submit ideas for affordable and quick xmas crafts, so I came up with this yesterday:

1. Clean an empty jar and paint the inside with red acrylic paint – just sort of swish around inside with a brush, doesn’t have to be perfect.  (I see that I left a bit of gluey stuff on one of my peanut butters jars – so don’t do that).

2.  Wind some thin wire tightly around the neck of the jar and make two loops, into which you hook another piece of wire for hanging.

3. Cut a piece of tinsel long enough to go round the top of the jar, and stick it in place with a glue gun.

4. Hang on something.

I thought these would look nice with a candle in (obviously being careful that the flame doesn’t catch the tinsel), or bits of hanging greenery. I don’t think I could think of anything much cheaper and easier to make, so they’re probably great for children (except the glue gun bit – ALWAYS be careful when using those things!). They could also stick on bits of glitter or sequins or stickers or whatever else their festive little hearts desire.

To be continued…