Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Don’t drive on by

Several times I’ve pulled up to  a yard sale, and seen only a few items and always think about driving by. Typically I stop anyway, and I’ve discovered often there are more items to suit me at these little sales than at the  HUGE SALES, I am headed to!

Saturday was the perfect example of this. Driving around with my mom and dad we saw a sale, we pulled up to see that there was only 50 or so items laid out on a couple of card tables. My mom said, “Do you still want to stop?”

“Hmmm, no” I said not wanting to let them down if it was a wash, but then I remembered the last small sale I had succeeded at and yelled at my already lost in Seattle dad “Wait, Wait, let’s stop.”

It was an interesting family of three hosting the sale. Very cool Seattle people with an array of interesting items. These gardening clogs are simply divine. The lady proclaimed that she had loved them so much she bought them at a sale even though they were one size too small; she had dreamed of gardening in them for years. Now I could live out her dream.

The ones I got are practically brand new. They cost 2 dollars and were exactly my size.

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My mom and I “staged” Sally in the shoes. What could be cuter than a cat in a big pair of red clogs. She wasn’t really having it though, not even a purple flower which she would usually devour, enticed her to wear the clogs longer than 2 or 3 seconds.

She’s missing out I tell you because they are comfortable. However, I do have a new appreciation for people in movies who work with staging animals.

Also I have a renewed appreciation for my mom how cool is she that I was all “Hey mom, would you help me? I “need” to get a picture of Sally wearing my clogs.”

My mom says “ Sounds good, where do you want her? Do you think a flower would entice her? I will try to get my feet out of the picture.”

My mom is great.

We also found this cute little fish it’s used for squeezing a lemon wedge. The juice comes out of its mouth, and it strains out the seeds. I don’t know that I will actually use him, but I love him even if he’s simply for decoration.

I may just have to use him because he looks fun, not because he’s actually a time saver. But I suppose its better to have joy then save time.009

Also this family had two 150 year old cheese graters that they sold me for one dollar. I’m excited to list them on eBay!

Although sometimes it turns out when a sale looks like it has nothing it actually has nothing, more times than not, I will find 3 or 4 wonderfully unique items which I would never be able to snag at a HUGE SALE. 

Someone would have already snapped up these delights before me, someone who wakes up much earlier than 10 am most likely.

As for now I won’t just drive by, I’m going to stop and check things out. I suppose that’s  a metaphor of sorts for my life at the moment too, trying to not just drive by my life, trying to actually examine it for the bits of wonder it contains. Hopefully I’ll find something delightful.

Happy fourth of July and Happy Thrifting !

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Little Garden that could

Upon seeing this in my garden everyone’s reaction has been along the lines of, “You do know that spreads like a weed and takes over the garden”  My response “One can only hope!”

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After making this recipe five times already in three months I knew I either needed to start a rhubarb only savings account or had better start growing my own rhubarb.

Since I am not supposed to harvest it for a year until it gets strong enough to take my abuse, I cannot vouch for it’s deliciousness. It has pretty much become the pomegranate in the Garden of Eden to me. I have to fight every day not to chop off these stalks and eat them right then and there. Maybe even sans sugar they look so amazing.

The start for the rhubarb cost 6 dollars, and if it goes wild as planned its first crop should more than pay for its cost, save me a ton of money, and make my friends Keri and Nicole very happy to partake in its abundance as fellow rhubarb lovers.

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If I couldn’t eat these I may have boycotted gardening all together. So I did, as soon as they were ripe. And they were pretty amazing.

Heeding a warning from my friend Olaiya, I  put up a cage over my four small plants strawberry patch so that birds and squirrels wouldn’t swipe my strawberries as I allowed each berry to reach its peak deliciousiocity.

Alex is not a big strawberry man, which typically I would frown on, but in this circumstance I’m happyl to hog all of the delicious berries to myself. YUM.

I plan to hog the next batch that I picked tonight in my morning yogurt. I think the strawberries have produced enough to equal their cost of 1 dollar per start. And they are perennial, so they will keep paying off year after year with delicious free bounty.

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These peas are just getting big enough to eat. Our start got a bit unruly, and Alex and I had to keep adding layers to our homemade trellis, (I did not include a picture as it is a bit unruly itself, next year we will make it more photogenic)

The start is probably about 8 ft tall. We also planted peas from seed, and they are a more reasonable (3 ft tall) and are producing pods with the same fervor.

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This is our cash crop, it keeps producing and producing. Week after week, its been producing bowl after bowl of delicious salad mix. Enough that we haven’t bought salad mix at the farmers market in over a month saving us at least 5 dollars per week.

Cost of starts and seeds around 10 dollars, we have already doubled our investment, and unless it gets super hot I expect my cash cow to keep producing scrumptious greens to devourer.

057We’ve also been enjoying the plentiful fresh herbs, rosemary, dill, oregano, mint, thyme, parsley, and chives. Looking forward to attempting chamomile tea from the buds that are appearing, and to attempting culinary lavender to make this cake.

Next to come peppers, tomatoes, melon, and hopefully cucumbers if we ever get past this dreadful June-uary in Seattle. For now I am happy to feast on cool weather greens, but do look forward to caprese salad from our purple tomatoes and purple basil.

What are you all growing, what’s your cash crop so far, what are  your go to garden delights, what recipes do you like to make with your garden?

Any experiments that have gone well or not so well? Would love to hear your insights, I need all the help I can get with this garden.

Also,does anyone can or make jam? What are your favorites? I want to get in to that later in the year? Any tips? Let me hear it ya’ll!  Enjoy the season whatever that means in your neck of the woods.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Self Help and eBay

First off, an apology is in order. I never intended to be gone so long. I love writing so much. The Yard Sale Girl Blog has really been a great creative outlet, and I’ve very much enjoyed every comment and interaction. It’s the highlight of my day to read comments and correspond with people about thrifting.

May turned out to be a weird month. It would be nice to say I was so busy I just didn’t have time to write, but that is mostly untrue. Sometimes I just loose my zest for life, I’ve been trying to loose it less and less, but as I am sure you all know losing your zest sucks, and once you’ve lost it, it is extremely hard to find.

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(This is how I felt, not sure if that make sense but looking at this picture makes me feel how I felt.)

A lot of stuff went on last month, but here’s what I believe really happened. I started reading a lot of other blogs, and got intimidated by their delightfulness. Here’s how it went/goes in my head, “Wow, these women are so much cuter, craftier, cleverer, wittier, funnier, such better writers, faster, more prolific, thriftier, more creative and blah blah blah blah on and on sometimes I just won’t shut up to myself, and did I mention they are cuter, there are some pretty darn cute blogs out there.

028 (Me)

Sometimes I feel like they are reading my mind (if my mind was cuter and craftier) and writing the blogs in my head the day before I was going to write them, there in lies the problem with procrastination, no way to prove I thought of it first.

I’ve spent these zestless days constantly thinking about writing, constantly dreaming up new adjectives to describe the wonderful deals, and treasures I’d found. I fantasized about sharing pictures of the lovely food to come out of my garden, about the beautiful dishes and pottery I’d found, the wonderful coupons/ deals I’d discovered,  and most of all I wanted to tell you about all of the wonderful thrifting adventures I’d had. However, I did nothing.

047 (The most delicious spring greens from our garden)

Instead I developed a plan to sabotage myself, constantly thinking of other things to do besides sit down with my lap top and write.

This mean lady inside my head started bossing me around, she said “You probably should reorganize the top of your dresser for the tenth time, “ “Oh, and pretty sure you need to watch an entire season of Top Chef Masters,” and “Oh yea, every piece of laundry better be done before you write, and while you are at it, every cupboard, closet, and junk drawer needs reorganized as well because you know it will look great when its done, and you know no other cute blogger will come to your house and organize your stuff the way you like it, how could they possibly do that, you lock your doors now that you live in Seattle, and really, why would you want to be an active participant in the creativity circulating in your brain anyway, at least reorganizing is tangible and chances are no one is going to come in and tell you your drawer organizing just doesn’t cut it.”

That lady in my head can be so demanding. She sucks all of my energy mental and physical. Every weed must be plucked from the garden, every speck of dirt must be swept from the floor, every grocery must be bought, every friend must be seen, every movie must be watched, and by the time I am done doing her bidding, it is just about time to start over with the first thing on her list.

The things she says to me are the stupidest things, especially writing them out, I can now see how stupid she sounds, but I listened. I did her bidding for the last two months.  Finally I broke free of her oppression.

To paraphrase Oscar Wilde, through Subhan Schenker, through me, I said “Hey silly Yard Sale Girl, stop trying to be somebody else, everyone’s already taken, you should probably just be yourself, since that’s really all you can be, and that’s great, beautiful, wonderful, authentic and fine oh yea and it’s your only choice so just do it”

My long winded, not near as concise and poignant as the original, paraphrasing just proves the point, I have to be me.

Ok Yard Sale Girl, you’ve had enough of what you don’t want (self criticism, procrastination, and envy of others) time to go for what you do want. It’s time to get back in the saddle, time to get back to the drawing board, back to square one, back on track, and all of the other idioms and clich├ęs out there you are going to do them all, and do them like you, while being the best you, you can be. You go girl! (And yes I have to live with the fact that being me entails saying “You Go Girl!”  to myself to get out of a rut)

Picture me doing the cabbage patch,and I am not sure why that paragraph made me feel like doing the cabbage patch, or why I think the cabbage patch is empowering in anyway, it just is, and that’s just me. I am embarrassing, sometimes simplistically trite, and I almost always use too many words to get to my point, but that’s me.

071 (Alex thinks this giraffe is something only I would like. I found it at The Goodwill for 1 dollar and 99 cents, and thought it was just about the coolest thing. It just felt like me, even if other people don’t like it it’s still me, and I can’t pretend it’s not.)

Writing about this particular subject, eBay, I felt like Holden Caulfield (phony). That mean lady kept saying, “What do you know about eBay anyway, you will never know as much as everyone else. You are an eBay dummy,” and on and on. Seriously, she’s so annoying sometimes.

In the amount of time I’ve spent having these thoughts, I probably could have researched and written a book on E-bay for heaven sake, pull it together Yard Sale Girl!

Anyway now that my self help blog is over, back to my thrift blog, and hopefully back to that regularly.

eBay

The long awaited,aka you’ve probably forgotten about it by now, second part to this blog.

A few weeks months ago, I met with Paul to discuss his eBay adventures. He’s the husband of my friend Joni. I told her how I wanted to start selling on eBay and she said all casually “Oh my husband Paul’s done that before, and he loves to talk about it, would you like to meet him?”

I was thinking,  “ Well ok so he’s done it before, so that makes him 10 times better than me.” 

I said, “Sure I’d love to.” Figuring he could at least show me how to find the right website.

It turns out  that Paul’s somewhat of an eBay guru.  Really, he should be writing books on the subject. The best part was he was so kind. He was so generous and giving with his time and espousing his secrets.

He gave me a good feeling about selling on eBay. He made me want to search for re-sellable treasures every day all day. I wanted to scour the planet for lovely little items like these.

085(I hate smoking, but LOVE this ashtray. It would be a great jewelry tray for someone. I already have several “cute little jewelry trays” so that is why I hope to re-sell it. It has a really cool marking on the bottom that I will need to research. I purchased this at The Goodwill for 3 dollars and 99 cents. That’s a lot for me to spend at The Will, but I thought I could maybe get 10 on eBay.)

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(This tea set, below, was purchased at half price on a Sunday Estate sale. Not my style at the moment, but I do like it and if I could just get the original Estate sale price of 35 dollars on eBay I would be happy.)

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Pauls made a lot of money on eBay, he was too polite to brag, but I have a feeling by a few of the things he told me about, that he’s made a pretty substantial chunk of change. Such as this espresso mill that he bought for 250 dollars and sold for 750 dollars.

 

mill

Here’s a few of the suggestions he gave me. These have aided in his tremendous success and luck with eBay, and also with re-selling in general.

Suggestion 1. The Golden Rule

Paul basically told me to treat others as I would like to be treated without sounding preachy. He said that he does not use big red letters on his posts saying YOU BETTER PAY ME OR ELSE, and when people ask questions about his wares, he answers to the best of his knowledge and thanks them for their inquiries.

Even if he’s already given the info in the post, he answers the question anyway, and doesn’t say anything like “Look at the post”, as saying things like this can come off rude in an email. Even if the intention’s not so.

Paul also guarantees his products, he will take them back if the customer is unsatisfied. He told me he has only had to do this once.

Suggestion 2 List 5-10 items simultaneously

This makes it easier for shipping and answering questions when your bids end on the same date, and you can ship everything out together, and answer questions for only a set amount of time. He has Fridays off work, so he likes to list one week and ship out the next week on this day.

Suggestion 3 Do NOT let your bids end on a Saturday

Try to think about when the most people will be checking the computer for items on eBay. Perhaps Sunday nights around 7:00 pm when people are wrapping up from the weekend. Or Friday afternoon when people are surfing away the last hour of their workday before the weekend.

Suggestion 4 Find your cash cow

Paul likes to find Vitamixers, these little camp stoves and other vintage camping equipment. For some reason vintage camping equipment sells big in Japan, so Paul includes international buyers only on his camping gear.

He knows he can always sell these items for a decent profit and also knows that they will sell.

stove

Suggestion 5 Use * in searching items

If you cannot read the whole label or you think it might be misspelled. For instance with my delft bleau pot I searched de* bl* pot

Suggestion 6 Only look for things that have sold don’t look at what they are priced at look at what they sold for

Sounds obvious, but I would not have known this and my guess is that others have made this mistake too.

Suggestion 7 Use – in searching items

If you want to remove words from the search use the minus sign. Such as Fishing Reels-New. This will help you more accurately find products like yours eliminating certain categories, like used or new.

Suggestion 8 Do NOT set a reserve

As a non-gambler this was harder for me to come to terms with, but Paul’s evidence was irrefutable. He believes that the sprit of eBay is not conducive to the reserves. He thinks that the bidders should determine the prices, and that they are turned off by reserve prices as it takes away a bit of the fun.

He showed me how things without reserve prices tend to sell much better than things that have a reserve. He believes in people and believes in the spirit of the bid. He says that he comes out by far ahead using this policy. He did admit some things he’d sold had not gotten the price he paid, but he really believed it was a huge advantage to not put a reserve on items, unless it was absolutely mandatory.

decoys(Paul took a risk buying these decoys, they were hand carved, and looked old, but had no artist markings, he didn’t put a reserve and didn’t get quite what he wanted out of them, but that’s just how it goes sometimes.)

Suggestion 9 Over share (I think I can handle that!)

Always give too much info about the product, explain each and every flaw, but back this up with great pictures, so that  they think “Wow, it is nowhere near as bad as they said it was.” For instance with that tea set one cup is cracked, so I would want to include that, and also show pictures. This is also important for your eBay rating, if you over explain on the front end your customers will be happier with what they get and are more likely to give you a good rating.

Here are some things I’ve found that I wish to list on eBay. I’ve set a deadline of July for myself to actually try eBay. I am slow at accomplishing things that really shouldn’t be considered accomplishments, but that’s me and I am learning to accept that.

080 I took Paul’s camping gear suggestion, I love this little plaid thermos.

I will let you know how it all turns out, eventually.