A blog about "nothing"!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

When is it finished???

We moved three years ago.  We sold the other house just over a year ago.   I am still going through boxes!!!   I've not moved very many times in my life, but I know from previous experiences that there always seems to be stuff that hasn't been unpacked years later.  I have a friend who has a husband in the military,  I've only known her since 2006 and in that time, she has moved at least four times.   I don't know how she does it!

Last year when the house sold we had to get the last of the stuff we had left behind for "staging" purposes out, and unfortunately most of it just ended up in the garage.  This spring we went through a lot of it and probably 50% of it was donated.  Some of the things I've sold on Ebay (or will be selling soon), but there were a couple of things that I hadn't decided what I wanted to do with them.  Today as I was going through some stuff, I came across this:

 
This barometer belonged to my mother.  She was a weather fanatic for as long as I can remember (gee, now I know where I get THAT from!).  She purchased this sometime in the 1940's or 50's.  It hung in various places in our house when I was growing up, the last place was in the kitchen.  As a result, it was filthy dirty, so I took a little time to clean it up, and hung it in my living room this morning.  I'm not 100% sure that it still works very well, I did set the adjustable needle so I can see.  I went in to Intellicast.com to see what the barometric pressure is today and it wasn't that far off, so I'm hopeful that it is still working. 
 
What amused me most was when I flipped it over, the original price tag was still on it?!  On Ebay, a barometer like this is selling from $10 - $60 depending on age and condition.  My mom paid all of $5.95 for it.  Doesn't sound like much now, but back then it would have been a bit of an extravagance.  After reading some of the descriptions on Ebay, I'm even more amazed that it isn't smashed to smithereens, I know it fell off the wall a couple of times.  Turns out that not only is the front cover glass, but the dial is ceramic! 
 
 
So now I wait for the weather to change to see if it is still working, and if it is, I guess I will have to search the internet to learn how to adjust it properly.  Hmmmm......

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Cool Find!

Been a busy week here--all sorts of things going on, the main one being a big push to get things listed on Ebay.  I managed to list 25 so far, I've already sold 4 things, so I guess it has been worth it.  I will be back at it again after I am finished writing this post.  I want to have 50 items listed before the end of the month, and will be continuing to post something daily through September and October.  I have some items that I want to have out there for the holiday shopping season, all of this planning is brain draining, but I want this stuff out of my house, and want to get the best prices possible.  The box of Barbie's is getting smaller by the day.

In between all of this I'm trying to get some other things done around here as my sister is coming for a visit next week.  She hasn't been here since spring so I'm really looking forward to it.  I'm going to take her with me to Red White and Blue, she's never been there and keeps hearing me talk about it.  She's not a big thrift shopper, but she does like a good bargain.  Should be interesting.

On Tuesday I needed a break from Ebay stuff, so I decided to make some chocolate fudge.  I've made the microwave version many times, but I've never made the good old fashioned type that you cook on the stove, so I thought I would give it a try.  Especially since I knew I had all of the ingredients already.  Not sure if it was the recipe, the pot I cooked it in (temperature issue) or something else, but it was an unmitigated disaster.  It seemed to go well until it got to the part where I needed to get it up to a certain temperature.  It didn't want to get there (darned old stove), but I knew all about "soft ball stage" and tested it, thought it would be okay.  It wasn't.  It was so bad when it finally did set up, I threw it all out.  I don't do that very often, I hate wasting food, but it was completely inedible.  I think I might stick to buying my fudge or making it in the microwave.  I told Lee last night that while I was bummed out that it was such a wreck, I wasn't beating myself up too bad about it.  That's the first recipe I've made in about a year that ended up in the trash.  One new recipe in the trash per year--I figure that's a pretty good ratio. 

I made a run to JoAnn fabrics a few days ago to pick up a couple of things and came across a really neat discovery.  When they discontinue their special order decorator/upholstery fabrics, they sell off the samples.  They were marked $2, but they apparently wanted rid of them because they were reduced to $1 each.  I dug around and found three that I liked and have a perfect use for.  I have a project in the wings that these are going to be used in--can anyone guess what I'm thinking?  (points to whoever comes up with the right answer first!)

The samples are 12 inches x 12 inches, they would be great for making throw pillows, but that's not what I have in mind.  Two of the ones I picked out not only had the 12 x 12 piece, but then a bunch of 6 x 6 pieces attached indicating the different colors available, so it was like getting a bonus.  I won't be starting on this project until after the beginning of September, but I promise I will be sharing it on the blog as I progress.  It's my big "fall/winter" project, although I have a feeling once I get started, I won't be happy until it's finished.  Any ideas, anyone?!?!?!

Back to Ebay....................

Monday, August 19, 2013

Selling on Ebay

I've mentioned before that I've been selling stuff on Ebay to clean my house out, primarily stuff that I inherited when my mom passed away, but also a bunch of my own stuff.  I've noticed that when I tell people that I'm selling on Ebay, I get one of two reactions--"gosh, that must be really complicated" or "I should try that, I have stuff I want to get rid of, it should be easy".   Let me just say that it's neither complicated or easy!  I think it falls somewhere in between, but it IS time consuming and there are things you need to do beforehand to avoid feeling overwhelmed or end up completely disappointed.

The basics:  first you need to set up an Ebay account.  You may have already purchased stuff on Ebay, and you can use that account to sell with as well.  There are some things you need to set in your selling preferences in advance (ie.--selling internationally, who can't bid, etc).  You then also need to set up a Paypal account if you don't already have one, and need to add information to that so you can receive payments.  Setting this stuff up well in advance of listing items will save you a lot of time so that when you are ready to sell, you can get moving.

Next:  do some research before you list items.  A lot of times something you think will sell well might not, and vice versa.  You need to not only look at what is currently available for sale but also look at completed auctions.  Sure, someone may ask $35.00 for Fun In The Sun Barbie, but did anyone actually pay that for it?  This helps give you an idea as to whether or not an item is worth listing and what price to start it at.  Keep in mind that both Ebay and PayPal charge you fees based on selling price as well as shipping fees!  My general rule of thumb is if I can't sell it for $5 or more, I donate it.  There are plenty of people who sell stuff for less than that, and they probably do okay, but for the limited amount of time that I have to dedicate to this, it isn't worth it for me.

So--you know what you want to sell, you have your accounts set up--what's next?  First you need to photograph your item.  There used to be a time when Ebay would let you list stuff without photos, but not anymore.  You can put 12 photos with your item at no charge, and I've found the more photos you have, the better.  You don't want them to be high resolution either, so either use a lower setting on your camera, or edit them.  Next, find a box that your item will fit in and weigh it.  I can't stress how important this step is!!!  I am usually pretty good about this, but recently I sold an item that I thought would fit in a box I had, only to find out it didn't--argh!!!!  I wasted almost an entire morning just trying to find a box for it to fit in, and then I lost money on my shipping fee because it ended up costing more than what I had charged.   Once you have that all out of the way, you can go to the USPS website and figure out what it is going to cost to ship it, or you can use the shipping calculator on Ebay that only requires you to put the weight and the box dimensions in.  To me the shipping part is the worst part of the whole process.

Now you are ready to list your item.  Be sure to give a good description of your item, I am always amazed at how bad some of the descriptions are on Ebay--and I'm sure those people wonder why their items don't sell, or why they have issues with buyers after the sale.  Be honest about it, if the item has a scratch on it, the box is dinged--whatever--be sure to state it.   You might get a little less for it, but you aren't going to get negative feedback for it either. 

Buy It Now, Auction--which is best????  I've done them all, and it really is kind of a personal thing.  If you are someone who loves the thrill of the end of the auction, then the traditional auction route might be fun.  Just be sure to list your item so that your starting price is the minimum amount you are willing to take for it.  You an also do auctions that can be either--not a huge fan of this, but have sold a few things this way.  Buy It Now is currently my favorite, either they want it or they don't, you only have to monitor your sold items.  I list mine as 30 day Buy It Now, after the 30 days are up I can relist it if I want to and reduce the price if necessary. 

After the sale--once the item has been paid for, ship it and be sure to leave feedback for your buyer.  I am still surprised at the number of people who don't leave feedback, buyer or seller, and it's frustrating.  It's how the system works and without that feedback, there might be issues (particularly with a seller) that a potential buyer isn't aware of.  If you have an item that is sold and isn't paid for within a reasonable time, file a non-paying buyer report.  DO THIS!!!  I am stunned by the people who won't do this for fear of retaliation, but it's the only way that sellers can get their fees back and repeat offenders can get their accounts suspended.  I take it one step further and block these people from bidding on my auctions.  I don't have time for that kind of crap.  I guess there are people who do this for fun.  What floors me is most of the ones that I have had were for items under $20--seriously?!  If you didn't have the $20 to pay for it when you placed the bid, you shouldn't have bid in the first place.  (can you tell this is a hot button topic for me? LOL)

I'm not getting rich off Ebay, but it also isn't a full time job for me.  I'm using it to unload items of value that I no longer have use or space for and make a little extra cash.  I have a friend who uses it to rotate her kids clothing on a regular basis as their sizes change.  A lot of sellers who have been selling on Ebay for a long time have been very critical of recent fee changes and so forth.  My feelings are such:  if you don't like it, you don't have to sell your stuff there.  Try opening a physical store front where you have significantly higher overhead and see where you are at after a month of those expenses in comparison.  To me it is a much better way of selling stuff than a yard sale too, I've had plenty of those over the years!  Ebay hits a much much bigger customer base, and the prices you can get for some things is dictated by a national average as opposed to your local average which results in a much higher return. 

Just to give you an idea of how much time to list items:  today I listed 10 items.  I started at 9:00AM and finished a little after 1:00PM.  I did eat lunch, take the dog out to pee and did some laundry, but for the most part I was concentrating on Ebay--taking pictures, folding/fitting boxes, weighing items.  Most of my items had around 5 photos, sometimes (depending on what it is) I may only have 2 pictures which takes less time. 

I hope this has helped anyone interested in selling on Ebay.  I sold years ago when Ebay was in it's infancy, took a break, and now I'm back.  Sure, I've had a few screw ups and disappointments, but overall it has been a good experience.  Just like anything else, you have to find what works for you and work the bugs out.  Everyone's experience is going to be different, but that's what makes it fun.  Good luck!!!
Laundry basket of dolls heading for Ebay!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Just How Much?!?!

Shopping at thrift stores is a great way to save money.  How much can you save shopping at thrift stores?  A LOT!  Especially if you buy a lot of higher end names this way.   One thing I have a terrible time finding is pants, I’m really picky about the fit and I’m kind of an odd shape.  I am thrilled that since January, I have managed to add 5 pairs of pants/jeans via thrift stores to my wardrobe.  I’m always excited when I find something that I am looking for at a thrift store, it makes it that much more of a score.  Here is a breakdown on just those 5 pairs of pants for a comparison:
 
Lands End Sport Knit Cords (like new condition, sized incorrectly, which is why I think they ended up at Goodwill)
Regular price--$44.00      My price $2.99
 
Denim & Company Narrow Leg Cords (brand new)
Regular Price $38.50 + 6.22 S&H from QVC        My price $2.99
 
Roamans Twill Khaki’s (like new condition, sized weird!)
Regular Price $47.99      My price $2.99
 
Just My Size Jean Leggings  (like new condition, sized weird too!)
Regular Price $16.00    My price $1.00
 
White Stag Knit Pants (brand new)
Regular price $13.97   My price $2.99
 
Had I paid full price for these pants, my out of pocket would have been $166.68.   Instead I paid $12.96 for all 5—less than the price for one pair of the cheapest pants on this list.  My savings--$153.72!!!  That’s $153.72 that I can use for other things instead. 
 
I also noted that three pairs of these pants were sized weird.  The Lands’ End Sport Knit Cords were my usual size, but were supposedly petites—NOT!  I usually wear regular or tall pants, but they fit perfectly.  The Roamans Khaki’s and the JMS Jeans were tagged for a size much larger than what I would normally wear, but fit fine.  This is why it pays to either try on clothing at thrift stores or at least have a tape measure with you for places that don’t have fitting rooms.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten a great deal on a clothing item because the size it was marked was not the size the garment actually was.   People are lazy and don’t want to take the time/effort to return stuff, so it frequently ends up at the thrift store.  Someone’s laziness can be your gain! 
 
Vera Bradley Bag I scored for $4 
 
Other examples of great savings I’ve scored from thrift stores just this year:  (all in new or like new condition)
 
Vera Bradley Hipster Bag Regular Price $34.99 (on sale), my price $4.00
 
Quacker Factory jacket and capri pants Regular Price Approx $50 (I had to guestimate since this item is discontinued) my price $5.00  (these were another mis-sized item)
 
Basic Editions Polo Shirt Regular Price $12.99, my price $4.00
 
Denim & Co Shirt Regular Price $17, my price $3.00
 
Brooks Brothers Sweater Regular Price $128.00, my price $3.00
 
The other advantage to shopping at thrift stores is finding higher end clothing that I probably wouldn’t buy otherwise.  I’m hoping that these items last longer, but if not, I’m not out much money.  I would never spend $128 on a sweater EVER, but for $3 I can take a chance on it.  The other side to this is flipping these items if they don’t work out and more than likely making your money back.  I bought a sweater last year for $2 at Goodwill, didn’t care for it after all, sold it on Ebay for $17.  I’ve also flipped quite a few things via consignment.   My all-time favorite flip is a Brooks Brothers skirt that I bought for $14.99 on clearance at a Brooks Brothers outlet, wore it for 2 years, then sold it on Ebay for $20.  I basically got paid $5 to wear the skirt ;)  The lesson here is that people will buy used clothing in good shape if it is a high end brand name, and pay a little more for it. 
 
I hope that this information is useful and if nothing else will convince a few more people to try thrift store shopping for at least part of your wardrobe.  It’s economical, many times the money made from it goes to a worthy cause, and it is recycling in the finest form.  Reduce, reuse, recycle!!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Bummed!

Last night I was working on a craft project and I broke one of my favorite tools.  I wanted to cry, not just because I broke it while working on something, but I've had it for a while and not sure I can replace it.  I did some checking this morning and I was right, it is no longer made.  I'm hoping I can find something similar somewhere, I'm even looking on Ebay at this point.  I suppose now that I have your curiosity piqued, I should tell you what it was.........


Yeah, that's right, a tape measure.  But not just any tape measure--a very small/compact tape measure that was perfect for leaving in a purse.  I've probably had it close to 15 years and I have used it tons.  It was a metal one as well, like the big contractor type, but only 1/4 inch wide, so it wasn't heavy or difficult to handle.  I first discovered the usefulness of one this size when I worked in a frame shop, we each had one in our pockets at all times because we constantly were measuring.  They make small ones for sewing, but they aren't stiff and don't have the hook on the end (very handy when measuring furniture pieces when you are all by yourself!).   The hook is what actually broke off, I heard "snap" and then all I heard was the sound of continuous retracting. :(  Wish me luck!!! 

Friday, August 9, 2013

Happy Birthday Princess!!!

I can't believe that tomorrow is Laney's birthday--and she turns 5!  No big plans, we aren't that crazy--but we will take her to Dairy Queen after dinner for ice cream.  DQ is one of her favorite places to go :)

Here is the very first picture I took of her after we brought her home--she was about 4 months old at this point:
 
And here is she now:

 
To many more years of cuddles, licks and "woofs"!  Happy birthday Laney!
 
 
Have a great weekend everyone!
 
 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Home Made Salsa and Chips

My garden is starting to wind down now, the lettuce is just about finished, the peppers are getting smaller (and fewer), the green beans are just about done and the tomatoes are starting to dwindle, no new starts but luckily still plenty of green ones yet to turn.  I figure in the next two or three weeks I'll be emptying out planters and putting them away for the season.  It was definitely worth it though, we have really enjoyed having the fresh veggies so conveniently placed right outside our door.  The onions are the only thing that isn't done, and those still have a ways to go.  I just need to figure out what I'm going to do with them all when I harvest them!

About a week or so ago the tomatoes had actually gotten ahead of me enough that I needed to figure out something I could make with them as I didn't want to waste a single one.  I decided on some fresh salsa along with fresh made corn chips--mmmm!  Very easy to make, we finished off every last bit of it in one sitting.

Super Easy Salsa

4 - 6 small tomatoes or 2 - 3 medium to large tomatoes, tops cut off and sectioned
1/2 Medium onion, cut in half again
1 small pepper (I used a banana pepper since I had it, but you could use jalapeno if you want more of a kick!)
Juice of 1/2 of a lime
Sprigs of Cilantro (to taste)
A couple of shakes of salt (to taste)

Take all of the ingredients and put them in to a food chopper/food processor, pulse 3 - 6 times to cut and mix.  If you like your salsa more like a puree, keep pulsing.  Store in the fridge for an hour before serving so all the flavors blend.   I personally left out the cilantro as we aren't big fans and we still loved it.  Can't tell you how long you can store this in the fridge since it didn't hang around long enough!

Fresh Tortilla Chips

Take a soft corn tortilla and cut it in to 6 wedge shaped pieces.  Easiest way to do this is on a cutting board with a pizza cutter.   Heat corn oil to medium heat in a small skillet, once it is heated, drop wedges in to hot oil several at a time, turning them over as they cook.  Once cooked through, remove them from the heat and place on a paper towel to absorb remaining oil and lightly salt them.  The best way to tell if they are cooked the whole way through is they not only change color, but they get really stiff.  I used 8 tortillas to make enough chips to finish off the entire batch of salsa.  Delicious :)

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Things you never forget

We all have dates and events in our lives that we never forget.  Some of them personal, some of them universal like 9/11, the death of Princess Diana, the Challenger Space Shuttle Disaster.  One of my "personal" moments is nothing tragic, in fact it's rather goofy.  October 11, 1975 was the date of the first episode of Saturday Night Live, and as I watched, little did I know that I was watching something special.  It is almost 38 years later and the show is still going strong, and has been the starting point for so many truly talented entertainers.  Those first few seasons remain very special to me though, who could forget The Coneheads, Todd & Lisa, Samurai Tailor (or Deli, or whatever John Belushi came up with!),  Cheeberger-cheeberger--the list just goes on and on.  The following clip is one from the very first episode that still cracks me up to this day.  I thought I was alone until one day at work one of my co-workers brought it up.  Enjoy.


Sunday, August 4, 2013

A Trip To Target

I enjoy going to Target and looking around, rarely do I ever go looking for something in particular.  Mostly because Target isn't close, so I'm not as familiar with what they carry all the time.  Friday I decided I was way overdue for a trip to Target and really had nothing going on in the afternoon, so off I went! 

I really didn't buy much--a bag of their yummy trail mix that I love and a bottle of eye drops.  Oh, and these:

 
I have several antique blue canning jars, but I use them for display only as I'm so afraid of ruining/breaking them.  A couple of months ago I saw that Ball was making blue jars again for the 100th anniversary, so I've been keeping my eyes peeled ever since.  I could have ordered them online, but not a big fan of having glass items shipped if I can avoid it.  Everytime I noticed canning jars in a store, I was seriously checking out the display.  Target was the last place I expected to find them, and at a good price as well--$10.99 for 6.  So what do I plan on using them for?  Food storage, makeshift vases, craft storage--whatever!  I think they will look cute alongside my Longaberger canning jars that are a basketweave pattern, don't you agree?