Monday, June 24, 2013

How to turn your garage sale into the hottest spot in town

Read my column from The Holmes Bargain Hunter

Oh ye that love preparing garage sales little, take heed of my words: They are a goldmine.

I know. Preparation for a garage sale isn’t fun. There is lots of digging out of the corners of your closet, dragging clothes out and wondering why you bought them and finally coming up with a price that people won’t walk away laughing at. It’s hard work, but the payoff is immense. It’s pure profit and there are tried and true tricks that keep people coming year after year to your garage sale. You want to be the one that people say, “Your sale is next week? What time? I won’t miss it.” As I prepare for the annual Benton garage sales at my Aunt Fern’s house this week (they will be over by the time you read this) my mind goes over the myriad of garage sale tips I’ve gleaned over the years. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again – if I could, I would hold garage sales for people every week. That’s how much I love it. The set up, the banter of negotiation, the entire process is pure magic for me. Read on to find out what YOU should take heed of at your next sale.

1) Mind the time of year. Sales, at least here in Ohio, start as soon as the weather gets nice so we’re looking at April when they begin, though I’ve seen them pop up in March already if it’s nice. April is the best month to have one, we had our annual Junk Fling sale at the end of April and the crowds were big. May can be a relatively dead month because of the end of school year activities, graduation, etc. June and July pick up again, while August is slower because of the heat and back to school preparation. September and October are HOT garage sale months. Some of our biggest sales have been held in October. Time of year is key. 

2) Take the time to advertise. Sometimes you get lucky if you throw up a sign, put stuff in the yard and people stop. By and large, though, advertising gets you that crowd you want. Local newspapers are good and used to be the only way to get the word out. With social media handy in this technology age, posting a status on Facebook a week before usually does the trick. Tantalize people with what you will have, but don’t list every little detail. Twitter can get the word out, as can sites like Craigslist. Post pictures to Facebook, and tweet tweet away. The more you reach the better. Your ad can go something like this: Leather couch, picnic table, patio table and chairs, funky garden junk, books, fun household wares, lots to dig through! It can be longer, but words are key. Bring them in with the thought that there is much to dig through and discover.

3) If you’re having a sale, make sure you have enough STUFF. To me, there is nothing worse than pulling into a driveway and seeing two tables set up sparsely. Combine your sale with relatives or friends because it will not be worth it if your tables aren’t groaning.

4) When you set up, don’t be perfect. Let it spill out of your garage enticingly in a pleasing jumble. In England, garage sales are called “Jumble” sales. That’s because everything is in a nice little mess. You don’t come to a garage sale to shop like you’re in a retail store. Frame wonderful vintage items in a pleasing array, but don’t make it perfect. It’s the thrill of the hunt and the best sales are the ones that contain a bit of mystery. For instance, you can display your vintage glassware set on rusty piece of garden junk. Those used wine bottles look great sitting inside that old basket. Put things together for surprise and wonder. If every glass you own is sitting together primly, then there is no discovery to the sale.

5) Do not overprice. I’ll say it again – DO NOT OVERPRICE. This is a garage sale, not a consignment shop in New York. We all know what we paid for those jeans in a moment of madness. They will not sell for even half what you paid for them. A good rule of thumb is to think about what you paid for them, then think half, then go about half of that yet. If they are new and are in fabulous condition, you can TRY for half but be ready to dicker. Don’t keep your expectations so high because you will be disappointed. I will chuckle to myself when I go to a sale that thinks so highly of itself and its prices – and I will leave empty-handed unless there is something I want to negotiate for. Having a garage sale is a way to get rid of items, not let them look pretty in your yard with a high price tag.

6) Move your items around. The first couple hours are usually the busiest, but after that things can look a mess. I’ve found time and time again that moving things, even bigger things, into a different area makes them sell 10 times quicker. Things you stashed under the table should be moved and displayed, as well as what you have sitting outside the sale. Moving things around makes your sale look different and people will stop twice. I can’t count the times people come back the second day and say, “Is this all new stuff?”

7) Lastly, post and tweet pictures the second day of the sale to the last. Let people know what you still have and if it’s going, going gone at half price. Move things out the door.

Having a yard, garage, tag, jumble or rummage sale is a highly profitable way to have simplicity in your life and a jingle of cash in your pocket. Take the time to follow these steps and your sale will be well worth your time. Don’t even waste your time and energy if you’re going to set up and tear down early. Stay open until six and you will get the going home crowd. If you dislike having garage sales ask a friend to hold them – or ask me…because I love them.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

If you want to laugh, read on dear moms...

This has to be, hands down, the funniest read I've come across in awhile. Though my kids are 22, 18, and 17 I once was in this same boat just trying to make it through the day. I look back with fondness on those days of madness. Read on for some GREAT and funny lines that may help you through YOUR day. Jen Hatmaker, I salute you for you candidness! photos. 

Monday, June 17, 2013

One of my favorite columns on The Bargain Hunter

Why my front porch is my happy place

There’s this place we call home, a place where we keep our stuff, a soft landing pad when things are tough, and a place to stuff your face when no one is looking. Most days we wake up in it and get ready for our day. We make coffee, strong and hot and sip it while browsing the internet or chatting with our better half. The kids move through it, tossing their shoes in the same corner they always have, opening the fridge and expecting or rather knowing that their favorite things will be waiting for them. They know that fresh towels will be perched on their shelf awaiting the next shower, and that no matter how messy they leave the couch it will always be freshly straightened by morning. This is home. 

When you grow up and realize that your home is only what you make of it, it can be a sobering fact. Those towels won’t get clean by themselves and the fridge won’t magically dispose of leftovers – although what a great invention that would be. The flowers won’t rid themselves of weeds in the garden, and the toilets won’t clean themselves. Work and tidiness isn’t everything, and I’m the first to tell you please don’t inspect the corners of my house because it won’t be pretty. I like to live and cleaning 24/7 is not my idea of living. I love my home, though, and in it are places that we like to rest and refresh. For me, when spring and summer roll around that place is the porch. It’s not a huge porch but it’s my porch so let me tell you why I love it.

When we moved into our home the porch was tiny and decrepit, with the ceilings falling down. We didn’t have the money to fix it so we lived with it for several years. One day the hubby decided to tear it off and for a year we lived without a porch. Then came fresh floorboards, and a railing built from scratch. When you can’t do all the fixing up your house needs at once, it’s always so exciting when something does happen. That porch was my haven and still is. We never replaced the ceiling so it seems like another room with a high ceiling and rafters exposed. On it sits wooden deck chairs that we paid twelve whole dollars each for, and assembled by hand. Over the past seventeen years or so we’ve had them they have been a myriad of colors from our kids painting them. Today they are a soft charcoal with plush cushions I scored for ten dollars each at a discount store. In the middle of them sits a small bench I bought at a garage sale. On the bench impatiens bloom in a blue pot that was a thrift store find. A small red table also reigns supreme on the porch this summer. It was built by my husband’s hands from an old chair and door. It holds several collected bird houses and a wooden box that once held live lobsters. Flowers, in a thrift store pot, also grace this tiny collection of things that please me. Huge hanging geranium pots dangle from hooks having scored them for five dollars at Lowe’s. The mini greenhouse greets me as I come up the steps, one of the things I cherish as my dad made this at the height of our Junk Fling (semi-annual garage sale) we used to hold. A large pot of begonias, a stone bird and a small gray garage sale bird house nestle close inside the greenhouse made of windows and intricate trim. Other various and cherished pots hold court on the steps, including old wooden planters that I bought for a dollar each at a great garage sale.

I intimately know each item that graces my porch. It signals home to me. Nothing, though, can compare to when I step out on the porch and ease myself into that chair and just sit. I can feel my mind whir down and down until there is no worry except how far I can see into the pasture field in front of the house. The breeze caresses my face and the relaxation hits me full force. There is nowhere like my porch that makes me feel this way. I’ve faced many a problem out here, talked to my kids into the night, shared many cups of coffee with my husband and met many an adventure through books on it. I also meet God out here to wrangle the details of my life into a manageable mess – He seems to know it’s where I hear Him best. 

It’s not a huge porch. It doesn’t contain the best furniture you can buy, nor is it made from the newest-fangled materials. It’s a porch made of wood and love, stained with tears of joy and sorrow. It comforts me and gets me ready for days ahead that might be filled with uncertainty. It’s not just a porch it’s a haven. I recently told my sister that we all need a happy place in our homes or we might as well live in a tent. My happy place is my little porch and I am thankful for it.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Jello is where it's at.

These look amazing. I'm all about jello. Thanks Nibbles & Feasts for this great little gem. 
Patriotic Gelatina Squares
Yield: Serves 8
    Red Gelatin Layer
  • 1- 3oz package of strawberry flavored gelatin
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 cup cold water
  • White Creamy Layer
  • 1 tablespoons (2 envelopes) unflavored gelatin
  • 2 cups In Delight Sweet Cream coffee creamer
  • Berry blue layer
  • 1- 3oz package of berry blue flavored gelatin
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 cup cold water
    Strawberry Layer
  1. In a medium mixing bowl, add 1 cup boiling water to strawberry gelatin mix, stir 2 minutes until completely dissolved.
  2. Stir in 1 cup cold water until combined.
  3. Pour mixture in a 9"x13" glass dish
  4. Refrigerate until set. Approximately 1 hour.
  5. Sweet cream gelatin
  6. In a medium saucepan, over medium heat boil creamer. Remove from heat and add unflavored gelatin. Stir until gelatin has dissolved.
  7. Gently pour white creamy mixture over red gelatin layer. Refrigerate until set. Approximately 1 hour.
  8. Berry Blue Layer
  9. Meanwhile, in medium mixing bowl, add 1 cup boiling water to berry blue gelatin mix, stir 2 minutes until completely dissolved.
  10. Stir in 1 cup cold water until combined.
  11. Pour the berry blue mixture over white layer. Refrigerate until firm. Approximately 3 hours.
  12. Using a small knife, cut gelatin in squares. Gently lift them out of the glass dish with a spatula and place them in a serving dish.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Growing with Intention

This post from http://jesslively.com/ is simply amazing. It encapsulates everything I long to do and the reasons for it. I intend to live and grow intentionally from here on out. Our dreams are just things we are GOOD at so let's grow them. 

Intentional Careers

Over the past few days I’ve had three important conversations with friends about various careers paths. Upon reflection, it has occurred to me that I have not shared my views on career life and intentionality.

In a world where people, women especially, face a vast array of career choices, there seems to have risen an equally vast array of judgment and ridicule.
No longer is it assumed that women will stay at home, go to work, have kids, or even get married.
And while we could be celebrating this freedom in our society, it seems that each camp faces ridicule from another.
Stay at home moms feel uncomfortable explaining what they “do” in social settings, corporate women are bombarded with criticism about their maternity leave (or lack of one), and the blogging community seems to overemphasize self-employment.
But the truth is that when it comes to living a life with intention, there is no magic bullet career path for every person.
Every career decision has trade-offs and opportunity costs. And when it comes to designing a life with intention, this is not a problem. Intentionality implies that we have the ability to personally select from a variety of choices the one that best suits our current life and long-term legacy. It does not mean that choosing every answer under the sun will leave us most satisfied.
Removing unfulfilling layers is what creates a high quality life, not adding complication due to unnecessary stress and societal expectations.
There truly is no single “right” answer for every person’s career.
The world does not need more CEO’s, stay at home moms, part-time corporate workers, or self-employed business owners.
The world needs more people operating out of joy, freedom, purpose, and intention with support from the community at large. 
My hope is that over time as more and more people start selecting a life worth living, according to their internal compass, the more the world will begin to see that people from all walks of life in all career (and non-career) paths can live with joy, peace, and personal fulfillment.
That is what we are set on this Earth to accomplish. Trying to argue about which career path is best for everyone is futile and missing the point.
We are meant to help others. It doesn’t matter if we are in a board room, a play room, or a school room.
It’s time we start seeking to understand people’s positive and well-meaning goals and motivations and then celebrate their fearless pursuit of those aims.
The rest is just details.

What will YOU do after your kids graduate?

Finding yourself after the kids graduate

I’m here to tell you that I have the nicest butt around – well, Boston Butt that is. Thanks to Rodhe’s IGA I scored 30 pounds of these beautiful cuts for $1.28 a pound. I’m sure it was a Memorial Day sale, but it sure came in handy when I needed lots of meat to feed our grad party crowd. I’m even competing with a friend, who also bought some of the meat, as to whose butt looks better when done. Game on.

I’m nostalgic as I write this because normally I write about getting a great deal or figuring out how to make extra cash. I’m nostalgic because I’ve been down memory lane this week getting ready for this grad party. I know, I know – I’ve been writing about it for weeks. But since I’m the one who gets to write then I guess, dear reader, you get to hear some more. I still feel 18. Wasn’t it just yesterday (instead of actually 26 years ago) that I walked down the middle aisle of Hiland High School and received my diploma in a blue floral print dress with white heels? I strode down the aisle with the surge that only being free of school forever can bring. It’s exhilarating, exciting and a feeling that is full of promise. Accomplishment is what it is, wrapped up in a day full of pomp and circumstance, then joyful bliss as you throw your cap in the air. 

With each successive graduation of my kids, be it from college or high school, I know I’m getting older. Why then, do I feel even better? Even stronger? Ready to tackle the world? Is it because I’ve done the job God handed me? The one where you are to “raise a child in the way he will go”? I kept my kids clean, didn’t let them eat dirt, fed them, made sure they went to school without too many days pretending they were sick and got them to graduation. It must be the feeling of another accomplishment – my kids are raised. They are good. They are on their path. It’s a most humbling feeling, yet one that feels full of so much promise – for them AND for me. It’s time for me to let them go and get out of their way. Through this process I find myself. I find the younger version of me, the one who had so many dreams that held exciting tidbits for the future. This is what we need to find when our days of wiping dirty butts are over, when being a taxi turns into waving goodbye. That is when we turn around as they leave and see all that is STILL in store for us. Even though it’s their time, it has become my time as well. The future stretches out for me as I reach to embrace it.