Sunday, October 28, 2007

Road Trip!

We're going on a trip! A trippy trippy trip! Ok, not a trippy trip, but a trip, none the less! What else do you call a 12-hour drive with 3 little ones and no dvd player in the car? It'll be a trip, that's for sure! I'd been afraid to say anything earlier, for fear I'd jinx it and we'd cancel because of some unforeseen event, but everything has been smooth leading up to today, so it's safe to say, we're going on a trip!

What? No dvd player in the car? Well, no. We have a 2001 Mazda MPV and this was before dvd players became standard for cars. Isn't that kind of sad?? That dvd players are standard for cars? What happened to all the games we played as kids going on long car trips with our families? Looking out the window and watching the scenery go by? Punch buggy? License plate bingo? C'mon!! Don't tell me that you pop that dvd in the car and everyone gets lost in their own little techno world? ipod players and cell phones and dvd movies?? Say it ain't so! Anyway, we don't have a dvd player and don't plan on getting one. The girls do great in the car, and they're pretty used to long drives since even going to the food store requires packing the diaperbag and bringing snacks and drinks. They amuse themselves by singing silly songs, poking each other, bringing a doll or 6 along, and reading the newspaper. Newspaper?? Well, sure! Look!
With 3 little ones, that 12-hour trip might become a 15-hour trip, so we are planning to leave when the girls go to bed. Only we will put them to bed in the car. We are heading to Florida (!) to see my Dad and his Wife, my Sister and her Hubby and kids! I haven't met my niece who is now 18 months and my nephew who will soon be 2 months. And they haven't met Youngest who is 22 months. It'll be a mini family reunion of sorts and we are all so excited! Plans have been made, routes have been mapped out, neighbors have been recruited to feed the cats, timers have been set for the lights, luggage is almost packed, the van is oiled and gassed... Let's go! We leave tonight and hope to get there by lunch time, Monday. By doing most of the driving while the girls are asleep, we hope to avoid most of the "Are we there yet?" and the "I gotta pee!" by the girls. See you next week, as I won't be posting while we are in Florida. I will be having too much fun catching up with everyone, taking pictures, and soaking up the warm sun. Have a great week!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Rainy, Chilly, Soupy Kind of Day

A couple of days ago, we had a crafty day. Daddy went out for the day and I told the girls they could make something while he was gone. The girls chose to make scarecrows. Really easy to make but some of the steps in the book were a little wonky. So I changed it up a little and we came up with these.
Get 2 sticks from the yard, one short for the arms and a long one for the body, the book said glue them together, but sorry, Elmer's glue doesn't have that strong of a hold and the girls couldn't wait until tomorrow til the glue dried. So, we tied the sticks together, criss-crossing the loops to make it sturdy. Cut the toe off some old socks and stuff a styrofoam ball inside for the head and then jam the stick up the head and tie the sock around the stick. Old ties that were cut up make the arms and the legs and scraps of felt make the shirt. The girls picked out buttons from my button stash and since the glue didn't dry fast enough, I used pins to stick the buttons on the face. I made little triangle hats from scrap fabric to cover the different color toe of the sock and viola! Scarecrows! They are all standing inside a heavy, empty vase near our Halloween decorations in the living room. We could have embellished them some more, but by the time we were finishing up, my patience was getting thin, with glue all over the place and Youngest getting cranky every time I took the glue, scissors, or pins away from her. The girls are happy with their creations, so I'm happy too!

Today was a rainy, chilly, kinda gloomy day. I like these kinds of days. These kinds of days always make me want to fire up the oven and make something warm and yummy! And that's just what I did! I made french baguette bread and yummy cheesy Broccoli soup for dinner. Mmmmm! Even the girls ate some and dipped torn pieces of bread in their soups. It's a good way to heat up the house with the oven going and I like knowing that pretty soon I'll have some yummy in my tummy!

Here's the recipe for the Cheesy Broccoli Soup if you want to try it yourself:

1 lb broccoli, cut into 1-inch pieces

4 cups vegetable broth

4 tbsp butter

1 bunch (6 to 8) green onions, thinly sliced, including green ends

5 tbsp flour

1 tsp dry mustard

1 1/2 cup milk

3 cups cheddar cheese

salt and pepper to taste

In medium saucepan, bring broccoli and broth to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer 5 minutes.

In a large saucepan, saute onions in butter until tender. Stir in flour and mustard. Slowly add in milk. Cook, stirring, until thick and bubbly. Add Broccoli and broth. Add cheese and stir. Add salt and pepper to taste.

You can add 1 grated carrot to the broccoli and broth for extra flavor. Serves 6.


Thursday, October 25, 2007

Kitchen Facts

I have been tagged by the lovely Suffering Summer to list 8 random facts about my kitchen. Sounded like fun because most of the action in my house happens in the the kitchen!

  1. When we bought this house more than 2 years ago, one of the more attractive points was the pantry in the kitchen. At the old place, all I had was a cabinet with slide out shelves and it was barely enough room for 4 people. Baby food took up one entire shelf and canned goods took up another, that left one shelf for boxed items, like cereal and spaghetti.. The new pantry is a lovely nook in the kitchen, not quite in the kitchen, not quite out of the kitchen. It is in the short foyer where the backdoor is and in the next step, you're in the kitchen. It has floor to ceiling shelves and the shelves are more than 6 feet long, stretching behind the wall where I keep items that aren't used as often. It's also a favorite of the girls to climb and give me a heart attack. So we added a latch to lock the sliding doors, but is only effective if we remember to keep the doors shut as you can see Youngest demonstrating here!
  2. We have 2 refrigerators in our kitchen. One side-by-side that came with the house, and a normal fridge that we use to keep frozen items and extra milk. I like to buy my meat in bulk and then cook or separate into smaller containers. The blue containers are cooked ground beef, perfect for one meal of tacos or spaghetti, the pink containers hold 2 uncooked chicken breasts each, the orange containers hold portioned cubed steak. I also make large batches of meatballs for quick meals of meatball subs, or swedish meatball dinners. The two zippy bags on the top shelf hold the meatballs. The popsicles you see, those are actually Hubby's! He loves popsicles and will eat 7 or 8 in one sitting while watching TV. Behind the popsicles are frozen chopped peppers and pureed pumpkin from the garden.
  3. I LOVE vintage glassware. I scour yardsales, flea markets, and thrift stores for them! I am especially fond of the flowered kind, but any vintage pattern will do. I've gotten Hubby hooked and he will bring home a glass or two when he goes to thrift stores without me. I love when company comes for dinner and I get to set the table with all the different glasses and I have fun explaining which glass used to have sour cream, peanut butter, or dried salted beef. The top row, middle red, white and blue flower glass and middle row orange flower glass were for sour cream and the middle row, small tulip glass used to hold pimento cheese.
  4. I have an electric, flat top stove. I love my flat top stove! It makes for easy clean ups! I used to have one of those electric coil stoves and I hated that it was so hard to clean with the food falling in between the coils and becoming cooked-on globs of yuck! Then using foil to cover the "dish" under the coils was so unsightly. For those of you who swear by gas stoves, my electric flat top stove does just fine and I can even can my jams and pickles on it with no trouble!
  5. I have a small, red, 50s dinette table in the kitchen. You'd never know it was there because it is covered with stuff. It has become the dumping grounds for anything that enters the house through the kitchen. I hate that it is covered and complain about it all the time. I clean it and within 2 hours, it is covered again with new stuff! The longest it stays clear is when we have a party and it becomes a buffet table.
  6. We have a cool, vintage, turquoise clock on the kitchen wall. I don't know how vintage it is, since it runs on battery power, but it looks vintage anyway! Someday we'd like to re-model the kitchen into a 50's style kitchen, but that will have to wait. Meanwhile, who says we can't shop for vintage glasses and clocks?
  7. We have a larger red, 50s dinette table in the dining room off the kitchen. It used to belong to Hubby's grandmother. My Mother-in-law told me she changed Hubby's diaper on that table! I loved when we had his family over for dinner once and his Aunt said the table looked familiar. Father-in-law said, "It should, it was Mama's." Aunt got all misty-eyed and said, "there were lots of good meals and conversations around this table!"
  8. I have a window above my sink, which normally would be great, except previous owners added a sun room. So now my kitchen window looks right into the sun room. Perfect when the kids are in there playing and I can keep an eye on them, but usually there is no one in there except the cats doing their business in the litterbox.

That was fun! Makes me appreciate my kitchen even more, knowing I am making memories for my children to look back on! Feel free to participate in this meme, and let me know if you do it so I can check out your post.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Back on Track!

I'm all done with the store and now I can refocus back onto our family life and home again. I worked 21 out of 36 days and averaged 7 hours plus 3 hour round trip driving. I'm thankful that this is only a part-time gig for me and I know I couldn't hack it if it was a full-time job. I did my "free" shopping and got lots of nice clothing, shoes, books and toys for the girls. I tallied up the prices on the tags, cuz I like to see how much I would've paid if I didn't get them for free, and the total came to over $700!! (insert whistle sound effect here) I piled up everything on the bed and sorted through them, separating by sizes for the girls and they are set for the winter. Plenty of books to read, movies to watch, games and puzzles to play. Several pairs of nice shoes, sneakers and snow boots for each kid. Sweaters, jeans, dresses, sweatshirts and winter coats for each girl. I will be sharing some of the booty with my nieces and nephews.

In the beginning of October, we went to visit and stay the night at Hubby's Parent's house. After a lunch at the Ranch House restaurant, we said our good byes to his folks and went our separate ways. Since we used to live in the area, we knew the back roads and avoided all the high traffic areas. On our way through a residential street, I spotted a bunch of stuff on the curb waiting to be picked up by the trash truck. An antique couch!! Drat! We were using the van and not the truck. We kept going and I couldn't get the couch out of my head and I told Hubby how wasteful people were, tossing out a perfectly good antique couch that probably only needed to be re-upholstered. Why couldn't people donate it or ask around to see if someone wanted it?? Maybe we could put it on the roof of the van, isn't that what the roof racks are for?? How many times have we seen an antique couch at the store and we couldn't afford it and now here is one for FREE and we have the van! We could stop at the store for bungee cords and rope. Puh-leeeeeeeze????? The problem was, we had limited amount of cash on hand and we needed to buy gas to get back home which was still a 2 hour drive away. I told Hubby to give me all his cash and I got all my cash and together we had $27. I told him if he would take me to the local Wal-mart and if I could get a bungee cord and rope for $7 or less, the $20 would be more than enough gas to get us home. Hubby knew better than to argue with a determined woman and promptly took us to Wal-mart. I ran in and scored 2 bungee cords and rope for less than $5, Thanks Wal-mart!, and we drove back to the street where we saw the couch.

Much to my satisfaction, and Hubby's relief, the couch was still there. There was a family working on a car in the driveway and I hollered through the window ( in true hillbilly fashion) if we could have the couch? The guy said "sure!" and we got out to secure our prize! Thank the gods the girls were sleeping the whole time and never knew we had a couch on the roof of the van until we got home! The whole drive home, I would look out the window and check out the shadow of the van and see the shadow of the couch that was still up there. What a nightmare that would be if the couch flew off and onto the car behind us. I have my dad to thank for teaching me how to strap and tie things down on the back of the truck or car. Hubby helps me hold the rope tight, but I'm the main 'tie-er upper'!

Here's the couch we brought home. Lucy the cat promptly claimed it, as if to say, "about time you gave me a bed worthy of my queenliness!" There is absolutely nothing wrong with it, except for the back needing to be tightened up a little. The fabric is a little dirty and I bet a steam cleaner would take care of that, but I will re-upholster it and give it a snazzier look. It screams for more than plain old beige and I already have some fabric that would do the job nicely. Can you believe those people threw it away??? I hope to have it done before the end of the year as it needs to take it's place in line behind all the other projects I have lined up: The table I need to finish sanding down and put extensions on the legs to make it higher and turn it into an island for the kitchen, the metal cabinet that needs to be sanded and repainted for my craft room... Lots of ideas and projects, so little time to do them!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Charity Helps Us All

My time at the consignment shop is soon up. Tuesday and Wednesday was spent sorting through the unsold items and separating them by consignor numbers, pulling out the donated items and then bagging them so consignors can come in on Thursday and Friday to pick up their unsold items. Hubby and I both worked nearly 10 hours on Tues and Wed, and by the time we left Wed night, there were still 2 rows of unsorted clothing left on the racks, which translates into 3,000 items or thereabouts.

Poor Bosslady is having a tough time with staffers and volunteers this year. Normally she has a staff of about 10 of us, and volunteers are banging down the door to work in order to shop first before opening to the public. This year, however, 4 of the staffers are getting ready to relocate to another state and haven't been with us as much as in previous sales. One of the staffers has been an absolute no-show and has never called to explain why. Another staffer started her own business and can only come 2 days a week, and yet another now helps out at her child's private school and cannot come daily as she used to. That leaves pretty much Bosslady, 2 others and me. Add in one staffer's wife and my hubby and that makes 6. 6 people sorting through roughly 15,000 items in 2 days is no laughing matter! The volunteers that were banging down the door to get in BEFORE the sale, want no part in helping AFTER the sale. Because you know they just want to check out the goodies and make a mental check-list on what to buy and where it was put.

Saturday morning, staffers, what few of us there are, will go through the items that the consignors didn't come back for, open up the bags and we go through and pick out what we want for free. Then, at 2 pm, the doors open to the public and the leftovers will be sold at 75% off. Believe me when I say there is so much stuff left and lots of lovely items to be had. Out of 300 consignors, only about 50 actually come back for their items. I made a mental check-list of my own as I was sorting through the items and hoping that if consignor number five hundred and something doesn't come back for their stuff, I'm gonna get it for my kid! There will be a 75% off sale for 2 days, and whatever is left (which is still plenty of good stuff) will be left for the charities. I'm not talking Goodwill or Salvation Army, I'm talking local charities here, the county family shelters or battered women's shelters. They come in and "shop" for free. I was there one year when the family shelter sent people over to shop. There was a woman with 2 kids, a young toddler and an older boy, maybe 6 or 7. It was like Christmas to them, I asked her what she needed and she said shoes for her kids. So I looked for some shoes and helped her toddler try them on. When I took his old shoes off and saw his toe peeking though a hole in his sock, I was so choked up, I had to bite back the tears. I asked her what size clothing she was looking for and helped her find a whole pile of them to take with her. Her older boy saw some toys and he looked torn, like maybe he thought mama had to pay for it and knew she'd say no. I told him he could have it and the look on his face, I'll never forget. He looked at his mama and she said it was ok and he was just so thrilled. He took that big toy, sat on the floor with it and played until mama said it was time to go.

I used to bring home my unsold items and save them for another sale, but after that, seeing how much those "leftovers" helped other people, I leave most of my unsold items. I'll pick out a few that are just too good for me to give away and then leave the rest. Most of my items have sold, so there isn't much left for me, and from what I have seen so far, I think there are only 3 or 4 items I will take back. This is one of those years that I am grateful for the free shopping because I wasn't able to buy much this sale with Hubby out of work. I don't know what I would do if I didn't have Bosslady and her store in my life. I have been able to help support my family by selling things at her store and working for her and clothing my children through her. All the money I made will be used to pay the car insurance and other bills and hopefully, before the next round of bills come in, Hubby will have found some work somewhere.

Well, on that note, I have a few more days left at the store, and then it will be back to my almost daily postings again. Thanks for hanging around and leaving comments. I have read every single comment but have not had the time to answer them. I know I have lots of catching up to do on reading other's blogs and will probably send the kids outside, hubby too, lock myself in the office with a glass of wine and read!

Monday, October 15, 2007

My Baby Is Growing Up!

~*sob! boo hoo!*~ Does anyone have a tissue I can have? My baby is growing up so fast!! Oldest had a major milestone today-- She lost her first tooth! It caught us all off guard. There was no warning with this tooth, no loose tooth, no constant wiggling- either with finger or tongue. Don't you remember as a kid, taking your tongue and moving that loose tooth back and forth, wanting to pull it out but at the same time, fearful of the pain it might cause if you pulled it out before it was ready? There was none of that! I fed them soft tacos for lunch and then the next thing I know, I have Oldest standing before me with a bloody grin, a space in her teeth and a tooth in her hand! What?! How?! She was so excited, jumping up and down. I calmed her down and had her rinse out her mouth to make sure it was an actual, legitimate loss of a baby tooth and not an accident that caused her tooth to get knocked out. It's real, all right. *wah!* My baby is growing up!!

She was so proud of that tooth, and when we went to the store later on, she told everyone she met that she lost her first tooth, see? and she would pull down her lip and give the biggest grin she could and go "see?!" She told a fellow shopper, the cashier, the cart boy, even the guy at the gas station. I let her enjoy the day because, after all, to a 5-year old, losing a tooth is big news!

Putting her to bed tonight, she asked me to ask the Tooth Fairy for paper money in exchange for her tooth. I told her I would see what I could do. Daddy made a phone call to the Tooth Fairy to report a tooth under her pillow tonight and Oldest was in awe after hearing that the Tooth Fairy already knew about her tooth. We told her that she had to go straight to sleep or the Tooth Fairy wouldn't come and if she cheated and only closed her eyes and opened them when the Tooth Fairy reached under her pillow, then the tooth and the Fairy would turn to dust! Not a peep out of her once she went to bed tonight! Even Middle, who shares a room with Oldest stayed in bed tonight and wanted no parts of Daddy tickling her before bed, choosing instead to lie quiet, as if willing herself to fall asleep.

What's the going rate for a tooth these days?? A friend told me she wanted to put a $5 bill under her daughter's pillow but her husband thought it was too much and got a $2 bill instead. I remember getting a quarter for my teeth. I think a dollar bill will be good.

I remember when I discovered my teeth in my Dad's wooden treasure chest when I was snooping one day. I opened the lid and in one of the little compartments were mine and my sister's baby teeth. I put 2 and 2 together and realized that my Dad was the Tooth Fairy. I was old enough to not get upset and I had lost all my baby teeth for a few years by then. I thought it was cool that he had saved our teeth all those years and I know it was his way of remembering us every time he opened his chest. I'll squirrel away my children's teeth and then maybe someday I'll put it where they could find it if they ever snooped through my jewelry box and see if they say anything. For now, though, I am looking forward to morning, when Oldest discovers that the Tooth Fairy had come last night!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Flavors of Fall

The leaves were changing and falling, but the temperature felt like summer. Wednesday night, I woke in the middle of the night, shivering, our thin summer blanket no longer keeping the chilly night air at bay. Thursday was spent putting warmer blankets on all the beds and it was our first 'feels like fall' kind of day with the lower temperatures. Most of the windows are now cracked or closed and the mornings are the kind where after getting out of a nice warm bed and putting bare feet to cold wood floors make you want to snuggle deeper under the covers! Middle has been getting into bed with me in the mornings lately, and I didn't mind. I would grab her and pull her close, smelling her hair and feeling her heart beat. She has cold feet now and I am pushing away from her instead of pulling her close!

Friday, it was chilly in the house and I deemed it the perfect day to make the wild grape jelly with the juice that is sitting in the freezer. Remember a couple of weeks ago I picked wild grapes with the girls? I extracted the juice and froze it for later when I wasn't so busy. The heat and steam from the hot water canner would be just the thing to warm up the kitchen! I am not posting a tutorial for the grape jelly, because it is made pretty much the same way as Blackberry jam. I made about 12 half pints and this morning was our first official breakfast of toast and wild grape jelly.

It was delicious!! Oldest had 2 pieces of toast and then came after mine when she polished hers off. She looked at me with her blue puppy-dog eyes and opened her mouth much like a baby bird begging mama bird for some worms to eat. So we took turns taking bites of my toast until it was all gone.

A few days off from the store also brought out the Halloween decorations. The girls have been nagging me to decorate for Halloween and I have been putting it off because of all the craziness going on. Finally, I gave in to their demands and dragged out our box of decorations. We strung ghost lights on the living room window, hung goblins and ghosts, plugged in the fake jack o'lantern, pulled out our collection of black cats and wove pumpkin lights around them. I am most pleased with the black cat decorations and they look great sitting on our old cabinet from the 1800's. It was Oldest's idea to prop up the blue skeleton man and have him "petting" one of the black cats.

Hubby and I both love Halloween and we would love to host a major costume party one day. Our only obstacle is where we live.. we can't get our friends to come up and stay late enough to enjoy a bonfire. When we have visitors, you can see them keeping one eye on the clock, not wanting to stay late and driving home through the mountains in the dark. I can understand their concerns, not being used to the twists and turns in the road and then a bunch of deer and raccoons crossing the road turn it into an obstacle course. It just makes it hard for us to plan events. We really need to get out and meet new friends up here and then we can invite them to a Halloween party! I am bursting with ideas for a Halloween party, and someday I will be able to put them to use. In the meantime, we usually go back to the city to go trick-or-treating with friends in their neighborhood. We will be staying closer to home this year, not wanting to make a 2 hour trek one way in the middle of the week and battling rush hour traffic. We haven't decided where we will go yet, depends on how cold it will be.

Home from the store today, because Hubby will be gathering firewood from a friend's property. He asked Hubby to help him chop and split the wood in return for as much wood as we need. How blessed we are to have a friend like him! It costs about $120 for a cord of wood (a cord is about 3 pick-up truck loads of wood) and last winter we had 3 cords delivered. This is saving us almost $400 if we use as much wood as we did last winter. I think we will use 4 cords this winter because we cheated a little and used oil heat in the beginning of last winter. I'd like to try and use less oil this time, because it is so expensive and we want to reduce our dependency on oil. I'll be taking the girls over to the property later to say hello and give the girls fresh air and exercise. I'd also like to see a log-splitter in action, because Hubby raves about it and the little kid in him comes out when he talks about a new "toy". Hubby wants to get a log splitter of our own, but that will have to wait until our finances return to normal because a good quality log-splitter can run as high at $800. *gulp!* For now we will count our blessings and get our wood from the friend.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Different Kinds of Bounty

Thanks to some animal, most likely a bird, for planting the pumpkins for us! I had bought pumpkin seeds but never got around to planting them. I didn't plant them at the same time I planted everything else, because then I would have pumpkins in August. So I plant around mid-July and then they are ready around September-October. But thanks to a bird that probably lost his lunch, a seed sprouted and an unknown vine started to grow. I knew it was from the squash family, but which squash was it?? I anticipated the flowers and then a small fruit growing, but every time, the fruit would fall before it developed into something recognizable. Or the flowers would fall off after blooming. Then, finally, a fruit that stayed, and grew. And grew. A pumpkin!! Then in another area, another vine started to grow and another pumpkin appeared! We have 2 lovely pumpkins now, one to carve into a jack o'lantern and the other to be processed into pumpkin puree for making pies later.
I finished the last of the harvest from our garden. While I was busy with the store and not tending to the garden, it looks like some deer ate the tops of my pepper plants. They also broke open a few watermelons and the bugs and bees were having a picnic with the leftover watermelons. I found one intact watermelon and brought it in, along with the rest of the peppers and a few green tomatoes. I found deer droppings all over the garden area and I know that if I didn't pick what was left, there would be nothing left later on. I spent the better part of yesterday evening chopping the peppers and freezing them in small containers. The watermelon was dessert and the tomatoes will sit while I patiently wait for them to ripen.

Today we went into town to run some errands, shop at the thrift store and then the grocery store. The prices at the thrift store have been rising and I am a little disappointed with their pricing system, if you can call it that. I spotted a large doll house with no price and I asked a clerk who took it in the back and then returned with a price of $3.49 on it. Score! I balanced it on the cart and went merrily on my way. Hoping to continue my good fortune, I spotted a small scooter and it was priced at $20.99!! Wha??? Pass. Spotted a rocking helicopter toy and it was priced at nearly $30. No thanks. A chalkboard easel (missing the chalk and eraser tray), $19.99; castle bookshelf/toy bin, $24.99; Hippopotamus Lego eater picker-upper, $9.99. I realize the thrift stores want to make their money, but how are they going to make any money by overcharging for USED items?? I think the general rule of thumb for pricing used items is 1/4 of the original price and if in extremely good condition, 1/2. Many of these items needed a good cleaning and many came without accessories or missing parts. The Lego hungry hippo toy came without any legos. The castle bookshelf/toy bin had most of the decorative stickers torn off. I would overlook those flaws if the price was right-- I have a bunch of legos at home the hungry hippo could eat. I would clean off the sticker residue and put the castle to use.

The thrift store's saving grace today, was that $3.49 doll house. I've seen it at full price for $99 and it was in pretty good shape, although missing all the furniture and people. I'll find them in my future hunts. I also scored some great vintage green flowered sheets and was only charged for half of the price. Hubby found some toy cars for the kid inside him and we felt pretty good about what we got, even if we were kind of disappointed we couldn't afford the other items. There will be other days and even better bargains!

And speaking of bargains, when we went to the store on Monday to drop off a few items to sell, many of our consigned big items have sold already! I picked up a big slide for $15, cleaned it up, slapped a $150 price tag on it and it sold for just that! Picked up a great train table with storage bins underneath for $5 at a yard sale, cleaned up the crayon marks, and it sold for $50. Bought a HUGE doll house for $10 and it sold for $75. My worries from last week are quickly fading and being replaced with excitement and the success of the resale business. It makes all the hunting at the yard sales all summer long (who am I kidding, I love hunting at the yard sales!!) and filling up the basement corner with "merchandise" worth it! After I find furniture for the doll house I picked up today, it'll be sold for $50. Not bad for $3.49!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Taking Stock

Last week, with all the stress of working long hours at the shop, dealing with screwed up eating times and poor meals for the kids, 3 hours round-trip driving and being out of the familiar elements of home, my emotions finally couldn't take anymore and I had a little meltdown.

When I am at home, I am basically in charge of my surroundings. I wake, dress in a t-shirt and comfy pants, and then go about my day making sure I take care of the little ones as I go. Hubby does his thing, whether it is filling out job applications on the Internet or physically out hunting for job leads, or doing stuff around the house. Now that I am out of the house and working at the store, I feel a bit of pressure to make myself a little more presentable. I find myself spending a little more time on my hair, putting on my necklace and earrings, and then feeling frustrated when the nicest thing I have to wear is too fancy or more suited for cold weather. So I am stuck with wearing the same v-neck t-shirts I always wear, only this time I am checking to make sure there are no stains or holes, which just about eliminates half of my shirts. The pants I usually wear are 'around-the-house-pants' only. I don't dare wear them out in public, so that narrows my choice of pants down to three. Since Hubby isn't working and we are starting to scrape the bottom of the barrel with money, I can't run out and buy some new clothes. Sounds superficial, worrying about my clothes and my outward appearance, but my self-esteem has been a little low for a while now, and I was already feeling frustrated with my choice of clothing because I still haven't lost the baby weight from when I had Youngest. I am also surrounded by a bunch of mommies at the store with manicures and pedicures, nice clothes and the latest hairstyles and they look so much better than I do, and I really try hard not to compare myself because they may have great DNA or they put in more effort in their exercising and diet than I did, but still, I felt worse about myself than I normally do.

Add the low self-esteem to lack of sleep and poor diet from not being home and cooking all 3 meals like I usually do, worrying about how I was going to pay the big bills we have coming up, Hubby not working a steady job and the added stress of the store, I was headed for a brick wall. I had a crying spell and blubbered to Hubby all my woes and sobbed myself to sleep.

I need to take stock of what I have and what I am fortunate to be blessed with. We all need to do that from time to time, to remind ourselves that somewhere out there, there is someone in worse shape than I am and I shouldn't despair. I don't want to feel sorry for myself and have people pity me. I am not looking for a pity party and I want to remember that I have my family to support me and love me just the way I am.

~I am fortunate to have a loving Husband. He loves me the way I am, post childbirth body and all. He loves my high-pitched laugh, he doesn't abuse me in any form and is always there for me. He is a loving father to our children. He is my best friend, my lover, my everything.

~I have 3 beautiful girls who are healthy and happy. They are growing and learning and loving. I love having this chance to teach them things and watch them develop. I cherish the moments I have with them because I know that if I blink, they will be ready to leave the nest and start lives of their own.

~We have family and friends that we love and love us back. Our children have loving grandparents and plenty of aunts and uncles and cousins. We have friends that help us out and we would do the same for them.

~I have a roof over my head and we are able to pay the mortgage every month. As long as we have our house, we are okay.

~We have food in our pantry. We have food from our garden. I am able to feed my family and keep their bellies filled. I was able to make jam from wild berries and grapes found on the property. I was able to grow yummy fruits and vegetables.

~We have nearly 15 acres of trees which help keep us warm in the winter with their wood, keep us cool in the summer with their shade and give us plenty to eat with their fruit. Not to forget, homes for the animals, too!

~I have the consignment shop to work at and while Hubby isn't working, I am, so there is always some form of income, even if it isn't a lot, a little is better than nothing. We are able to clean house and sell clothing and toys and getting full price instead of 50% and then that money will go to the bills we need to pay. Without the shop, I would have no money and a messy house!

I know there are things I can do to improve our situation. I need to step up to the plate and do more. Pretty soon, my stint at the store will be over and it will free up my time again and our routine will go back to normal. I can resume selling things on eBay and eke out a little bit of money from that with all the stuff we find at yard sales. Hubby has a job interview next week that sounds really promising and we are praying and hoping that something good comes of it. I also know there are things I can do to improve my self-esteem. I need to be more diligent about the food I eat and pay more attention to my diet and exercise regimen. I have a whole stack of jeans and tops that don't fit and I am eager to get back into. I am feeling better and this is what I needed to do for myself. To take stock of what I have and pay no mind to what I don't. Thanks for listening.

Monday, October 8, 2007

I'm Tickled Pink!

While I have been away, being a busy worker bee at the consignment shop, I have been given these lovely awards by some fellow bloggers!! How tickled I am to receive these and to know that while I am away and not posting, I am still thought of by others. I received Blogging That hits the mark from the worldly Lady M and the man that favors beat up volvos, Darth Sardonic. I got the You Make Me Smile award from the perky Wake Up and Smell the Coffee. And finally, the Nice Matters award came from sweet DJ Kirkby. Thanks all!!

It has been tremendously busy around here and I have been looking forward to this week where I can finally stay at home and catch up on all the neglected chores. Hubby and I have been to work at the store everyday with the exception of Sunday, where we spent the day with his parents in the city. After work on Saturday, we dropped off my Mom at her home and then kept going east to stay the night with my in-laws. We had plans to go and see the Masonic Temple in Alexandria, Va and then lunch on Sunday. The last time I went to the Masonic Temple was when I was about 5 or 6 years old and we were sightseeing as a family visiting from Illinois (I think. I was just a kid and I can't remember all the details.). It was nice to re-visit as an adult and see all the things I don't remember. It was very interesting and the young tour guide did well, except I couldn't understand him, me being deaf and finding it hard to look away from all the artifacts and reading his lips instead. I just gave myself my own guided tour and read all the little signs and information posted next to the statues and paintings and what-nots. The only trouble was, when I looked up, I found that they were all patiently waiting for me so they could go on to the next level. Whoops! We worked our way to the top of the temple and we were able to step outside to the balcony and look out among the city. We could see clear across the Potomac River and see all the way to the Washington Monument and the dome of the Capitol in D.C. Hubby and I were both pleased when the tour guide told his Mom that our girls were well-behaved children.
The tour guide might have changed his mind about the girls, though, because after he dropped us off back at the starting point and we wandered downstairs to the Shriner's exhibit, the girls all climbed into a miniature car that was on a display platform. They weren't meant to be in there and I quickly snapped a picture!

It was an interesting day, and we enjoyed being able to share it with our girls and their grandparents. We looked forward to heading home, though, feeling like we have been away for days with all the work we've done at the store and also for sleeping on a pull out sofa bed with Youngest tossing and turning between us. I would wake up often in the night to find her head nestled on my hip, an arm across my cheek or a foot pressed on my ribs. Hubby never slept so far away from me with Youngest in the middle! Our own bed felt like heaven after a night like that. We will probably go back to the Masonic Temple one day when the girls are a little older and we can go for an educational field trip if I am still home schooling. I'll be sure to teach about George Washington and the Masons before we go.

Did you do anything over the weekend?

Monday, October 1, 2007

Sounds like it, but this is NOT an ad!

Everyone at the store has been working hard trying to organize nearly 35,000 baby-related items. Yes, 35,000. Nearly 300 consignors have brought in 35,000 items to sell. Can you believe it?! The sale starts this Thursday and we have been scrambling trying to get everything in order, inspecting and rejecting soiled and broken items. It is down to the wire these next few days and will be mostly spent doing clean-up-- picking up the strings from the tags on the floor, straightening the toys and clothing, cleaning up the counters and computer areas and hollering after the kids to not open anything!
The picture above shows only a small portion of the clothing we got. We had so many clothes that Boss Lady ordered extension bars for the racks and the clothing barely has wiggle room. There are separate round racks for Halloween costumes, Christmas outfits, snowsuits and formal wear. The picture below shows a wall covered with toys, toys and more toys! Infant toys, toddler toys, big girl and boy toys. We take smaller toys and pop them into plastic baggies and hang them on the wall for easier shopping. No digging through bins here! Under the tables are all sorts of scooters and floor toys, blocks and learn-to-stand toys. Elsewhere, not pictured, are rows of toy ride-on cars, bikes, rocking horses and chalkboards.
This picture shows a wall of movies and books! The first 5 shelves on the left are all movies and the other shelves are all books. This doesn't include the 5 tables full of board games, puzzles, and leapfrog type learning toys. We put all the small tables and chairs in this area and the plan is to set them up to look like a little reading area with the sets being for sale of course. In another area is a big section of new less-than-perfect bedroom furniture. Beautiful bunk beds, dressers and desk sets in natural wood or painted colors. I'd buy some but we already have furniture for the girls, darn it!
I will be working everyday this week and my mom has come up to babysit the girls for me. Hubby is pounding the pavement, looking for work and I don't like to bring the girls to the store when it is open for business. Too many people coming and going and too easy to lose track of the girls when you get busy checking people out. Thursday night, we open to volunteers who have helped set up the store and I swear, these volunteers run in as soon as the doors open, slapping tape with "SOLD" written on it, onto everything in sight. These volunteers spend $200 to $700 dollars each. I kid you not. We get lots of large families shopping for a whole year in one night, or other smaller families that buy a whole lot for a fraction of the cost. Where else can you buy a $300 crib, slightly used, for $75? Or cute outfits from brand-name stores (gymboree, the children's place to name a few) for an average of $6 apiece?

It is going to be a crazy week for me but I will get a nice week-long break next week. I'll be able to catch up on the stuff that has been ignored around the house and maybe get to make and can that grape jelly. I'm anxious to taste the finished product! After my break, there will be 4 more days of work and then it's all over until the next Spring sale where it starts all over again!