Friday, May 28, 2010

The Start of Summer….

I’m so excited for this weekend – are you?!  My husband’s dad’s extended family always has a big reunion/get-together on the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend, and then the town we live in always has a small 4-day fair and then a parade, sponsored by the local fire dept.  Since we live two doors down from the fire department, we get front row seats for the parade and can walk to the little carnival!  (And it’s really not as bad as it sounds – when you live in a small town like ours, hardly anybody’s house ever lights on fire {i.e., no sirens in the middle of the night!}). 

Anyway, my toes are painted a happy shade like this:


And I plan on eating one of these (without the bun, of course):

And playing some of this:

And taking Luke to see one of these:

And then letting him watch one of these:

And I must say I really respect these (for many reasons):

But right now, for giving me the change to experience all of the above!  :)

Happy weekend!  Are you filling it with fun, summery things, too?

Thursday, May 27, 2010

100 Followers and Why I Love MY DH

I am happy to announce that I have finally reached 100 followers!  I was so excited to finally see that number change from 99 to 100. :) 

Any time I get a new follower, I always click on the person’s icon to see if I know them, what other sites they’ve joined, if they have a blog too, etc.  So I clicked on my newest follower, “Jamie”, only to see that she doesn’t have a blog or any other blogs that she’s following yet. 

I also noticed that “Jamie” has the same e-mail address as my husband. 


Chris knew how much it had been stressing me out (in an anticipation kind of way) to be at 99 followers and not move to that big 100 mark.  So he took it upon himself to become my 100th follower – which was incredibly sweet of him and I love him for it. 

He just didn’t realize I would be able to figure it out.  Plus apparently now I know what name he would choose if he were a girl!  hahaha!  Oh, I love that man! :)

Anyway, husband or not, I just wanted to say a big THANK YOU to all of you –girl or boy ;) – who are following me, whether by reader or Google connect (ironically, today my Feedburner is messed up again, showing only 12 readers – of course!). 

Blogging is such a fun outlet and hobby for me.  I love the community of women I have had a chance to become a part of!  Sometimes it can be lonely to be a SAHM and not be out there making connections in the working world – I love that I have found a bunch of great women out there to virtually share “life” and ideas with! :)   

Thank you SO much for commenting and being so sweet and taking an interest in my little blog.  I was going to have a giveaway when I hit this number but I decided that I’d rather wait until my “blogiversary” in August so that I can add some fun fall stuff (my favorite season!) in there too. 

Anyway, thank you SO much and I hope you’ll keep reading!  :)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Luke’s 1st Birthday: Invites and Tea Lights

I can hardly believe my baby is turning ONE in exactly seven weeks! 

2008 and 2009 950(Luke in the hospital.) 

It’s craziness!  I have been having a lot of fun as I start to slowly get things together for his party.  Usually I am a ‘big picture’ kind of person, not a detail-oriented one, but I really want his party to be special so I’m starting the planning early. 

I’m also trying to find a good balance between going over-the-top and not putting a lot into this.  A first birthday is the first chance you have to really celebrate your child – but on the other hand, they will have absolutely no memory of it!  So I’m trying to make it special without going crazy.

I should probably mention that I’ve set a budget for myself of $100 ($25 for decorations and $75 for food), so that is an extra challenge for me!  His theme is Jungle (that was the theme for his showers and his bedroom, so I figured I can drag it out one last time :).  Colors are bright, summery, and happy – yellow, blue, green, and orange – inspired by this fun ribbon I found for $1 each at Michael’s:

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For his invitations, I simply thought of a two-line invite, added a clip-art image of an elephant, and typed the rest of the info into a Word document.

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I had a whole bunch of cardstock already, so I just used different colors to print onto. I wish I had more white cardstock, but it is what it is! 

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Then I just hot-glued that ribbon to the top and bottom! 

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I found a cute birthday lion stamp at Michael’s (also for $1) that I stamped the back of each envelope with.  (I also found a four-pack of birthday-themed stamps w/ink at the Dollar Tree and I bought it since I didn’t have an ink pad already.)

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As for the candles:

A long time ago I saw on The Shabby Nest how she used baby food jars as tea light holders.  I loved that idea and I’m going to do the same thing.  I’ve just jazzed mine up with the same ribbon from Michael’s. 

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These will go down the center of the food table.  I love the pop of color they add! 

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I am having a lot of fun with this party! 

Total spent so far: $4 for ribbon and $2 for stamps/ink pad = $6. 

Anybody else have great kid party ideas – something that’s worked for you or you’ve seen online?  Has anybody else done a jungle theme? I would love to see/hear them and get more inspiration!  :)

Linked to:

Show Us What You’re Workin’ With @ Me and My Bucket
Make It Yours Day @ My Backyard Eden
Penny Pinching Party @ The Thrifty Home

Monday, May 24, 2010

Blog Award Time!

My lovely friend IRL, Lindsay, gave me the versatile blogger award last week.  Thanks, Linds!  :)

You are supposed to list 7 things about yourself, so here’s my list of very RANDOM things off the top of my head:

1.  I’ve never been west of the Mississippi, but I’ve been to three countries outside the U.S.  Go figure!

2.  If I’m not consciously thinking about walking up the stairs, I will most likely trip.   

3.  I’ve never been stung by a bee.  Which is actually a bad thing, because I have no idea if I’m allergic or not.  Chris keeps saying he thinks I should intentionally get stung by one, just to see, but I’m so deathly afraid of bees now since I have no idea how bad it hurts that I just can’t tell myself to do it!  

4.  One summer when my kids are older, I want to take an RV and travel around the country. 

5.  I only lost 6 pounds in the hospital with Luke.  He weighed 7 pounds, 7 ounces.  Yup.  That’ll kill your self-esteem!  (Although I tell myself it was all the IVs I was pumped with for 4 days!)

6.  If I could make a living off of yard sales, I would do it for 50 hours a week and for minimum wage, without question.

7.  My favorite book is “Little Women.”  I have read it more times than I can count and currently own 2 copies – I’m always on the lookout for more at Goodwill and yard sales. 

You’re supposed to list 15 people to pass it on to, so here goes!

Kathy @ Because He Lives
Mary @ A Productive Endeavor
Carissa @ Lowercase Letters
Abby @ Tales and Trials
Sarah @ 365 Glimpses of John Parker
Rachel @ A Steady Rain
Jennifer @ All That Glitters
Tracey @ Girls to Grow
Mrs. Alex P @ Growing on Gettysburg
Amy @ Heart Matters
Megan @ NEPA Mom
Kim @ Newly Woodwards
Sarah @ Simply Stafford (Your name is, Sarah, right?!  lol)
Southern Fried Gal @ Southern Fried Dreams
Brittany @ The Dalomba Days

Thanks for inspiring me ladies! I love reading all of your blogs! :) 

Thursday, May 20, 2010

A Double-Duty Chalkboard Frame

You may remember that about a month or two ago I showed you a frame I purchased at a rummage sale with the intent to turn it into a chalkboard menu:

Well, I worked on it last weekend and I’m really happy to show you how it turned out!

Painting it with the chalkboard paint was so, so easy. (Although that stuff is 12 bucks at Lowe’s! Craziness!). I researched online before painting and realized that I didn’t need to prime since I was painting a completely flat and smooth surface.

I simply removed the image from the frame and flipped the printed side over. (We really don’t eat in the garage – that plastic plate is chipped so I used it as a paint tray! lol)

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I gave it a coat of paint with a roller brush, waited about 10 minutes or so, then came back and gave it a second coat. It dries really, really fast!

I seasoned/cured it (also recommended online) by rubbing chalk all over it before using, then wiping it with a damp paper towel. Then it was ready to write on! I have to say, I think it’s pretty amazing that a piece of paper is now erasable. Wonders of technology, baby!

The only “problem” with chalkboard paint is that it is SO addicting! When I finished my project, I looked through all the rooms in our house to see if there was anything else I could use it on. Even Luke got the side-eye. (Kidding).

Anyway, I told you that it had a double purpose, and this is the part I’m really happy about. I don’t have a recipe holder – I’ve been looking for one at yard sales, but I’ve yet to find one. Then it dawned on me: since this is going above my stove, why not figure out a way to use this to hold recipes? (Clearly I am no artist! ha!)

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I grabbed a piece of ribbon from my stash and trimmed it to about 4 inches long. I super-glued it to the back of my frame, slightly off-center, to allow for the hanging teeth my DH attached in the back.

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Then I slid a paperclip through the other end of the ribbon and hot-glued the ribbon around it.

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Voila! An instant recipe card holder! And the best part is, since the ribbon and paperclip are so thin, it can easily be flipped behind the menu if I’m having people over or something.

Now you see it……

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Now you don’t! :)chalkboard 017

I’m not gonna lie, I’m pretty thrilled with how this came out! 2 projects for the price of one – can’t beat that!

Oh, and think of the potential for when I have teenagers! My kids are gonna love me, I just know it. ;)

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Linked to these fabulous parties:

Frugalicious Friday @ Finding Fabulous
DIY Day @ A Soft Place to Land
Show Us What You’re Workin’ With @ Me and My Bucket
Sunday Showcase @ Under the Table and Dreaming
Make it Yours Day @ My Backyard Eden
Best DIY Projects of May @ Beneath My Heart

The Girl Creative

Monday, May 17, 2010

Parmesan Broccoli – Just Say No to Velveeta!

I have to be honest here and say that I although I have never personally purchased Velveeta, I have been known to pound down a few hearty servings of nachos and cheese in my day.  It tastes good, sure – but it always makes me feel a little funny after I’ve eaten it. 

I understand that some of you probably grew up on Velveeta, but can I pleeeeeease try to convince you to not use it anymore if you still are? It’s so chock-full of chemicals and I promise you, once you start tweaking your favorite recipes with real cheese, you will never miss it! 

I’ve mentioned before that we eat Sunday lunch with all of my in-laws every week.  Well, when broccoli is being served, there is no question that it will be doused with butter and Velveeta.  They are wonderful, wonderful people; I just always joke with my DH that they have the “I’ll have a little corn with my butter” philosophy of veggies. :)

Anyway, onto the broccoli recipe – I am fully confident that you are going to love this!  

Here’s what you’ll need (there aren’t any measurements: just go with the flow!):


Parmesan Broccoli

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olive oil
minced/chopped garlic
broccoli (pre-steamed, but remove from heat about a minute too early)
chicken stock (you can get away without this; I’ll explain how)
parmesan cheese
red pepper flakes (optional but it gives it a great kick)

1. Pour just enough olive oil into your pan that it is covered on the bottom. 

2. Add a big spoonful of garlic in the olive oil  and cook on medium until garlic has *just* started to turn golden, being careful not to burn. 

3. Add your pre-steamed broccoli and sauté for a minute or two, tossing with tongs to coat the broccoli with the oil and garlic.

4. Add a splash of chicken stock to loosen everything up, while still tossing and coating broccoli.  (It tastes better this way but can be omitted if you don’t have stock on hand.)

5.  Sprinkle liberally with parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper flakes, tossing to coat again.  Remove from heat and serve.

(Then, if you’re part Italian like me, you will probably want to douse with more cheese when it’s on your plate.  You can never have too much cheese!)


This is really, really, reeeeeeaaaaaallly good.  DH and I both love our broccoli this way now (although we can still eat it just plain steamed – yum!).  Thankfully for me, Luke LOVES broccoli – I was serving him broccoli sprinkled with parmesan yesterday and he was screaming for more!  I gave the kid about 10 stalks’ worth in the baby grinder and then I had to cut him off – for all of our sakes!  lol

So enjoy this deliciously cheesy broccoli – and remember, just say NO to Velveeta! :)

For more clean recipes, click here. 

Linked to:
Tasty Tuesday @ Beauty and Bedlam
Tuesdays at the Table @ All the Small Stuff
Tempt my Tummy Tuesday @ Blessed With Grace


P.S. Is anyone else’s Feedburner all messed up?!  Mine keeps going from the 120s to 13 and back again, like every other day.  Is it just me?! 

An Apology

I lost a follower after my last post.

I just want to clarify here that I was only curious about the types of comments others have received, and I was in no way judging working moms.

I realize that people stop following blogs for many different reasons - I've lost readers before, and there are few blogs I've stopped following after I realized they weren't quite what I thought they were. Normally I wouldn't say anything, but if my comments offended that person (or anyone else for that matter), I just want to apologize! Every mom carries enough guilt already, and I certainly did not want to add to that in any way.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Working Moms Vs. Stay-At-Home Moms: Stereotypes

{This is a long post – you’ve been warned! :) If you’re visiting from New Friend Friday, welcome!  I usually don’t write such long posts but you’re totally invited to add your two cents in the comments!}


I substituted yesterday for a 6th grade class at the local elementary school – first time I’ve been in a classroom since last June, when I was huge, puffy, and hot still pregnant with Luke.  Monday, as you know, I spent the day in New York City

This week was the first time I’d ever been away from Luke for an entire day, and it happened twice.  It was hard.  I cried.  I didn’t realize how attached I had become to him or how much he has become my everyday life. 

I know that it is really good and healthy for him to be in other people’s homes and interact with others throughout the day – he needs that.  But being away this week (and I have one more day to sub next Thursday) only confirmed to me that I made the right choice last year when I resigned from my job.  A good-paying job with amazing benefits.

You know, in the middle of a recession. 

I told Chris last spring when we were talking and praying about me quitting that emotionally I knew I wouldn’t be able to handle leaving Luke everyday.  Plus, I wasn’t crazy about my job to begin with.  It was a good one, as far as jobs go, but I wasn’t giddy to go to work every day or anything. 

So I quit.  And I’m thrilled with my choice. 

However, I have to say that I have been kinda shocked at some of the reactions I’ve gotten when people find out that I’m a stay-at-home-mom.  Things like, “Oh, must be nice……” or “You’re sooooo lucky.” 

As if I sit at home all day while my nanny watches my son so I can get my nails done and get ready for my husband to whisk me away to Maui for the weekend. 

When the reality is that we go on dates very rarely, I use coupons like there is no tomorrow, we don’t have a lot of luxuries, we pray ALL THE TIME about money, and we’re probably considered poor by American standards of wealth. 

It’s the choice we made, and neither of us regret it.  It just bothers me when others assume they know what my life is like.   There are some days I literally cry because Luke has been so tough or draining.  It’s stressful sometimes that I never leave my job behind – my job is my life and I just can’t escape come 5:00.  There are plenty of things I’d like to buy or home improvements  I’d like to make or places I’d like to go with Chris – but that’s just not possible right now.   And yes, sometimes I cry when we don’t have money in the budget that week to do something I want, even something simple like order pizza when I’m too tired to make dinner (totally mature, I know).

I still wouldn’t trade this life for an instant, though.  Thankfully, most people that know me think staying at home is great, and I have been encouraged by many wonderful men and women.  I am thankful for a husband who supports me and isn’t afraid of being poor to let me have the one job that I want – the one that unfortunately doesn’t pay.  I am thrilled that I get to wake up and “live my dream” as my friend Amy wrote on FB a week or so ago. 

I wrote all of this because I’m very curious. 

For all of you reading this who are mothers (if you aren’t a mother yet, please still feel free to share!), have you encountered rude comments or stereotypes? Working moms, have you been told you should be at home with your kids?  SAHMs, has it been implied that you’re lazy or rich?  If you SAH, do you wish you were working, or vice versa?  I’ve noticed that a lot of girls follow in what their mom did – so if your mom worked, you work, and if she stayed at home, you do, too.  Both of our moms stayed at home with us, which is probably why it seemed so natural for me to do so, too.  Do you follow that pattern? 

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this subject – it has been talked about on a few other blogs (that I honestly cannot remember right now, I’m so sorry if it was yours!) – and I wanted to know what all of you think. 

{Comments that belittle moms on either “side” will be deleted.}

The Girl Creative

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Our Trip to the Today Show!

As I mentioned on Sunday night, Monday morning I traveled to New York City with Lindsay and her DH in hopes of getting on the Today Show – and we did!  I haven’t been able to watch it yet (again with the no-cable) but my parents have it saved on their DVR for the next time I visit them – they said we were definitely on tv. :) 

It was SO much fun! 

As we rounded the corner into Rockefeller Plaza you could hear the crowd screaming – we got there in time to see just a glimpse of Meredith, Ann, Al, and Matt outside – then all of them went inside except Ann. 

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Look at those shoes – don’t you love them?! 

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She came closer and closer and I swear my heart was beating a mile a minute.  The woman is GORGEOUS.  She is SO much prettier than she looks on tv – but I wasn’t about to tell her that!  After waiting, we finally got in a photo with her.  We told her she was beautiful and she said, “Honey girl, there is enough frosting on me to ice a cake!”  Isn’t that hilarious?! 

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Then we waited around, holding our sign, hoping to get noticed by the camera men.  It was Lindsay’s idea – it says “We left Jake and Luke for Matt and Al!”  I thought it was pretty awesome. :)

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We ran around the outside a few times, trying to get to where we thought the camera guys would film for commercials. One woman had a sign that said this was her first time in NYC since 1945 and another had a sign saying “Hi so-and-so, I’m pregnant.”  Hard to compete!  lol

This is what it looks like when the cast is inside – just the tv monitors and the camera guys:

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Anyway, at 9:00 they came back out just briefly.  Matt went back out before we could get our photo with him:

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but we managed to snag Al while doing the weather (he didn’t look very happy with us, but we didn’t know he was still doing the weather!)


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and Natalie Morales, who is so ridiculously beautiful I almost didn’t want my photo.  She is also very, very sweet.  And her legs are killer. 

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After they went inside, we went into the NBC store and bought some Today Show mugs.  

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And we finally got our photo with Matt.  The man really needs to put on some weight. 

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We went to Little Italy and got some great Italian desserts (I cheated and got pignoli gelato, a rainbow cookie, and a chocolate cannoli.  I hadn’t had sugar in 6 and a half weeks and I decided it was either go big or go home.  Clearly, I went big.  No regrets! Those desserts were awesome!) 

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We also stopped and got some chicken and lamb kebab from a cart (also awesome), I got some earrings and Lindsay got a sweatshirt, and then we pretty much decided that was it. 

It felt a little weird to have gone all the way to the city and not stay all day, but we were all tired and we had our boys to go home to!  So we got home at 5:30! haha

All in all, it was a totally amazing experience and one that I’m so happy to say that I did! I totally recommend it. :)

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Sunday, May 9, 2010

Church Rummage Sale 5/8

{If you read my last post, yes, I am actually in New York today! I typed this last night. :) }

As I mentioned on Friday, I went to a local church’s rummage sale on Saturday. They hand you a brown paper bag and you can fill it up for $1. Here’s what I scored:

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  1. 2 toys for Luke
  2. Martha Stewart Living Fall 2008 magazine (for inspiration)
  3. Cream fall plate w/acorn detail (I am a little bit obsessed with the fall season)
  4. 6th Season of the Waltons (oh yeah baby – takes me back!)
  5. Solas cd (DH was in a Celtic folk band in college and we love this music)
  6. Soap dispenser (not sure if I’m actually keeping it yet)
  7. Cheese grater
  8. Gravy separator (been looking for one of these bad boys!)
  9. Big apothecary jar (yay!)
  10. 2 mini Christmas trees (can never have too many of these!)
  11. Red ornaments for filler – ditto above
  12. Red hanging thing for Luke’s closet
  13. Bunch of closet organizers (8 total) – not exactly sure how these work but I have a total bin/basket fetish. It’s a really good thing The Container Store is nowhere near here!
  14. Green round tablecloth for Christmas
  15. Mini laundry basket (again on the organization!)
  16. Some awesome fabric from Waverly with French writing all over it – hopefully it doesn’t say anything scandalous? lol The only thing I recognize is the word “le jardin” - if you can read the other words, would you let me know what it says? :)

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Of course I got some clothes! :) (Starred clothes will be sold at the shops; the rest are all for me!)

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  1. Black Ralph Lauren shirt
  2. Old Navy sweatshirt/sweater thing*
  3. Old Navy winter capri/loungers w/tag still on*
  4. Work shorts for the hubs
  5. White Gap dress*
  6. White and cream Old Navy maxi (I am really disappointed this didn’t fit!)*
  7. Striped Old Navy tank
  8. Forever 21 beaded tank
  9. Brown Old navy shirt/Teal Old Navy shirt (winter sleep shirts)
  10. 2-piece skirt suit for my MIL (not pictured b/c I already gave it to her)

So…….I got 35 items, for the grand total of THREE DOLLARS. That equals about 8 cents per item, baby!

My favorites are the Waverly fabric, the RL shirt, the fall dish, and the apothecary jar. Totally would have paid 3 bucks to get these four things at a yard sale!

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I already can’t wait til this church runs their sale again in October! hahaha

Linked to Today’s Thrifty Treasures @ Southern Hospitality.

Two Happy Things

1.  This little boy:

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I may not be getting a lot of sleep lately, but oh do I love this little man!  Very blessed to be his mommy – and Happy Mother’s Day to all of you moms and moms-to-be out there!  And if you’re not pregnant yet, well, maybe this will be your lucky year! ;)

2.  This big city:

Picture of Manhattan Skyline New York City - Free Pictures -

(Image courtesy

Tomorrow morning, me, Lindsay, and her DH will be traveling to NYC to go to the Today Show!  I don’t have tv anymore but I used to watch the Today Show for years while getting ready for work and it is still my favorite morning show whenever I happen to catch it.  We have both always wanted to go to the show, so you will have to look for us tomorrow!  You know what I look like – so just look for me next to a gorgeous redhead and a big guy who looks like he could work in a prison (haha).  We may or may not be looking deliriously tired from getting up at 3 am.  I was joking that with our luck tomorrow they’ll be interviewing somebody about some horrible crime and we’ll be the idiots outside waving our hands because we’re on tv!  lol

Oh and you can pray that nobody decides to leave a car bomb outside the NBC studios!  haha (No seriously….)

See ya!

Friday, May 7, 2010

How I Make Money By Shopping at Yard Sales

It’s Frugal Friday over at Life as Mom, and since I posted about my clothing deals on Monday, I thought I’d share how I make a *profit* by going to church and yard sales – you heard me! :)

The short answer: I find super-cheap clothes that I can sell at local consignment shops where I have accounts.

Here’s the scoop:

Growing up in Connecticut, my mom and I went to yard sales all the time – but I had never heard of a church rummage sale until I moved to PA. They have them *all* the time here – and most of them have tables upon tables of clothes just waiting to be picked through for ridiculously cheap prices.

There are a few churches I can think of that let you fill up a bag for $1, which are my favorite sales to go to (although I’ve been to personal yard sales where they do this, too). I am always, always, always on the look-out for name-brand clothes. If they fit me, great! But as long as they’re in good shape and still in style, they go in the bag to be sold at the consignment shop.

For instance, on Monday I showed you these clothes that I purchased:

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However, I’m not keeping the black cardigan or the black pants for myself – they’re too small. I don’t even get how “0” is a size – but don’t get me started! haha

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Both of the items are a little older – if you shop at The Limited you can tell that’s an old tag – but since they’re pretty classic pieces (and the sweater is wool), I think I can get away with it.

You may already know this, but I’ll share it anyway: Banana Republic, Gap, and Old Navy are all owned by the same parent company. Underneath every tag it will tell you what quarter of what year the piece was in stores.

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So, as you can see, these pants came out in Fall 2002 – which happens to be right when I started college! But they’re still high-quality and totally still in style – it’s not like they’re elastic waist and tapered leg! :) Even though I know these pants can still be worn, I always cut the tag out when I sell the item – just in case. I want the shopkeeper to be influenced by the look of the piece – not when it happened to come out in stores!

Here’s another example: back in the fall I posted about another church’s bag sale I went to, where I purchased some J. Crew jeans and a J. Crew cable-knit sweater. Both of those were too small for me, so both went off to the consignment shop, as well. blog photos 7 009

For some reason, I seem to find a lot of Talbot’s and J. Crew pieces in this area. I sell to 3 different shops, and those pieces always seem to have success!

The important thing to keep in perspective is the price you’re paying up front. Most of my items cost me the equivalent of 10 cents or less, since they’re in a bag with sometimes dozens of other items for $1. Personally, I wouldn’t pay more than a quarter for a piece I knew I was going to sell. Although, all of the consignment shops I sell to have a policy that any unsold items get donated to charity, so I’m okay with that. :)

So there you have it! That’s how I make yard sales work for me! Did I mention that I’m going to another $1/bag church sale tomorrow? Yeah, I’m not kidding when I say I might not be able to sleep tonight. ;)

What about you? Do you sell to any consignment shops? Do you enjoy clothes shopping at yard sales, or does it drive you crazy? If you have any other clothing tips, let me know – and happy weekend! :)

(P.S. I’m totally going with green for the chair! I have some left over celery/seafoam green from Luke’s bedroom that I’m going to mix with a little white and I think it will be perfect – I’ll post a picture when it’s finished. Thanks for your input! :)