AN ORDERLY PASSION...How To Find & Buy Treasures From Yard Sales...Thrift shops...& Flea Markets.

The following is an excerpt from my first book, Frugal Luxuries; 1997, Bantam Books, NY


"In the...whirlwind of passion, you must acquire and beget temperance."
--William Shakespeare,

When buying treasures from yard sales, thrift shops, and flea markets, I find I must be careful not to over accumulate or buy randomly. Collecting in a haphazard manner will contribute to a mismatched, jarring decor that is the opposite of peaceful. I must control my passion for bargains in order to obtain my goals.
To accomplish this, I carry an index card in my organizer that reminds me of my current specific wants and needs. When I discover myself at a yard sale, instead of browsing with no clear goal in mind, I use my list as a guideline. This way, I am more likely to focus and find the items that contribute to a harmonious home and a balanced budget. Here is what is currently listed on my index card:
  • Quality plates and serving ware (blue and white to add to my collection; other pretty pieces to give as gifts or to use decoratively).
  • On-and-lonelies (single teacups of fine china to add to the collection hanging on hooks in our kitchen).
  • Crystal glasses and stemware. (The finer ones are taken to an engraver for monograms and given to special friends in gift baskets, along with a bottle of fine wine or sparkling cider.)
  • Handmade linens, handkerchiefs, and tablecloths (to use as-is or as curtains, in gift baskets, or as fabric for children's dresses).
  • Anything needlepoint (in appropriately muted colors--to make throw pillows, cover chair seats, or to frame as art).
  • Wooden desk chair ( for the desk in the kitchen).
  • A four-cup carafe for a small coffee maker (for Dad, to replace the one I broke).
  • Any Louisa May Alcott books (to add to my collection, as she is my very favorite author--also to pass on to my children).
  • Pretty teapots. (Cracked ones are okay, as I convert them into lamps, flower vases, and pen or glue-stick holders; I give undamaged ones as gifts in baskets, or add them to my personal collection.)
  • Silver pitchers and trays (for daily use to serve iced water, cold tea or milk; also to use as gifts; the pitchers also make lovely flower vases).
  • Unused candles. (These enhance a dull evening or ordinary meal and make the house smell and look prettier.)
  • Quality baskets (for girls' hair bows, bands and brushes; to store rolled towels; and for gift baskets).
  • [DVD's] ....of favorite classic movies.
  • Miniature loaf pans, mini muffin tins, and Bundt (R) cake pans (for baking snack size breads and regular bread for children's lunches, or to include in gift baskets, or to use as party finger foods).
  • Antique metal or wooden gates (to add character to the garden, or to mount onto the wall behind beds to create interesting headboards, or to act as a trellis for climbing plants and vines in the garden).
  • Attractive, well-priced furniture that offers storage and function as well as quality armoires; bookcases (all sizes); china cabinets; vintage child's chair; and easy chairs to tuck into cozy comforts.


scrappy quilter said...

Tracey, I loved your book from the first time I read it, to the many other times I've read it. It's my all time favorite book on gracious living and frugality. I've recommended over and over again and continue to do so. Your second book is the same.

Thank you. Hope you are in the process of writing another one. (hint, hint)

charmaine said...

Hi Tracey! i miss writing to you! i've been so busy. i just had to stop by today and say hello. thank you for all of your always lovely comments on my blog. so, i see you posted your award. you deserved it. i just love your blog. this post has so many tips. i must check out your books to get more tips. how is the family? i hope all is well. have a blessed day!

God Bless,

Tracey McBride said...

Hi Scrappy you so much for the great comments regarding my books :)!! It gives me a lot of pleasure to know that they have been enjoyed... and found useful!
P. S. I really enjoyed your are so creative!

Tracey McBride said...

Hello Charmaine! It's so good to see your sweet name, and read your comments!! Yes, I'm not quite sure how I did it...but I finally was able to copy my lovely new award!! Yee-A! Life is getting back to normal after the holidays...but I was lollagaggin' too much and now really have to buckle down and get some things accomplished for this year. If this pretty weather holds up I may start work on my herb garden for spring! I hope you and your family enjoyed a blessed and happy day. Rosie and her friend just came through the door with Charo Chicken (yumm) so I am off to partake :D ! Thank you so much for the "HELLO"! God bless.

Cabbage Heart said...

I can't help myself when i go to thrift shops...such a wonderland of goodies to touch and hold and buy.

Never...NEVER.... leave me alone in a thrift shop!!!!!


Tracey McBride said...

Hi Cabbage! So great to hear from you, I know things are busy for you! Yes...thrift shops do the same thing to eyes glaze over and I start scanning for favorite treasures :)!

Dana and Daisy said...

Hi Tracey. I find when I am shopping for a specific room, I kind of get into a mindset. Then I think I stick to the plan. But I also might miss opportunities for other rooms because I am mentally in another space.

So your suggestion might help me move mentally back and forth.

Does that make sense to you?

Kathleen Ellis said...

Hi Tracey~
Thanks so much for your visits and kind comments!
I love this post! How does a romantic soul go about attaining your book?! I'd love to read it!
Have a happy week!

Tracey McBride said...

Hi Kathleen! It's lovely to hear from you. While I don't sell the books myself I know they are available on and (some used--starting at a mere 99-cents)! Also, I know Barnes and Noble has them, or can get them for you quickly if they're out, as we just bought a set from the store by our house. Thank you so much for asking :) and for the nice words. Blessings and good thoughts to you!

Tracey McBride said...

Hi Dana, yes, that makes perfect sense to me!! I know what you mean about getting into a mindset and having blinders on to other wants/needs. I think that's one of the reasons I started making my wish list/I want cards...I'd come home from a yard sale or thrift shop and THEN remember I wanted to look for a certain item. My memory is on overload much of the time so I am an avid list maker. I let the lists do the work for me and then all I have to remember is WHERE I put my lists :)! Thanks so much for the note, and for the visit.

Kathleen Grace said...

This is a great list and a good reminder. it's easy to fall in love with something and find it just doesn't really have a place in my home. I think I'll make a list of my own:>)

Down the Rabbit Hole said...


I have been away running my husband's business and I am playing catch up on your wonderful blog! I just have to say that I love both of your books and they have been such an inspiration to me over the years! After reading this very section from your book, I started writing down what I was specifically looking for and it did help so much. Thank you for all of the loveliness that you share!

The original "FRUGAL LUXURIES" ~ Based on the books by Tracey McBride ~ Established 1993

A warm Thank You to all kind souls and kindred spirits who generously take the time to leave a comment...your encouragement, trust and support are deeply appreciated...please know that we read each and every message and will respond as time allows.


Frugal Luxuries
is a registered trademark.


"FRUGAL LUXURIES: Simple Pleasures to Enhance Your Life and Comfort Your Soul" was written by Tracey McBride and published by Bantam Books, NY, in 1997. It was the first of its genre to synergize the elements of simplicity, frugality and gracious living.

After more than a decade, FRUGAL LUXURIES has never been out of print and is now more relevant than ever.

"It's our hope that a new generation, faced with a teetering economy, will also find this information helpful and enlightening."

Sending Good Thought to Our Special Band of Kind and Kindred Souls!

Frugal Luxuries Book I

Frugal Luxuries by the Seasons Book II

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