Four Piles.

So this moving thing…

has been good in a way.  In our current situation, another move could be imminent, but perhaps not.  The story is complicated, but long story short, we are again renting a home and sincerely hoping to buy something in the near future.  Finding something we really love, that we are willing to shell out the big bucks for is a whole other story.  I am pretty sure we have commitment issues.

So we wait…

In the meantime, I am seizing this opportunity to purge in a big way, and score a little extra cash in the process.  (And who isn’t trying to find an extra buck these days???)
I should preface this by saying I do not do garage sales.  (As in having them.  I have been know to peruse a good sale once in awhile.)  In my experience, they are simply too much work for too little return.  Seriously, my time is worth so much more than sticking little neon price stickers on a hundred boxes of junk.  
So.  Not.  Worth.  It.
Four Piles.  That’s what I call it.  It’s my system.  And it works. 
Pile Numero Uno:  The Good Stuff
All the good stuff (meaning anything worth a little something) goes into the pile that will inevitably end up on Ebay(I go on a listing frenzy once my pile is big enough to warrant it.) 

Little treasures that would go for pennies at a sale (or not at all!) can often be golden to a global Ebay audience.  Old stuff is vintage.  And that is a good thing.  Everyone is looking for something.

It can seem intimidating at first, but the process is really quite simple (and monetarily rewarding!).  I’ve unloaded all kinds of things for quick cash including speakers, unopened cosmetics, handbags, a guitar, a violin, books, old cell phones, bracelet charms, video games, etc.  

There is a minimal listing fee and a Final Value Fee assessed once the transaction is complete.  At the end of the day, the extra cash far outweighs what you’d make at a garage sale.
And always check the vintage stuff.  I recently discovered some of my childhood toys are going for insane amounts of cash!  (Like my old Charmkin accessories!  Or my Rainbow Brite!  Mom, I’ll be calling you later to see if these are still in your basement…)

Pile, Part Deux:  The Big Stuff
Some stuff is just too big.  I know people do it all the time, but selling the big stuff on Ebay is a hassle.  Shipping can be a bear.  (I once sold a large vintage amp on Ebay and beside the fact that I could barely wrangle my then 18-month-old and the beastly machine into the UPS store, I completely underestimated on shipping costs.  Lesson learned.)

Anything of value that is too big gets listed on Craigslist.  Or more recently my local area swap page on facebook.  I prefer this because it easier, simple and completely local.  Check facebook to see if your area has a swap page.  It is basically a free newspaper ad that reaches a heck of lot more potential customers.  They are popping up all over facebook and are entirely convenient.
Pile #3:  The Okay Stuff

The okay stuff gets donated.  Plain and simple.  For me, this means mostly clothes and shoes.  Unless you are dealing with high-end designer labels, old prom dresses, or a good men’s suit, clothing doesn’t usually bring in much cash.  Our family has been continually blessed with hand-me-downs from good friends that I feel compelled to give back that way.
The 4th Pile:  The Junk
Anything no longer of any value to anyone goes here, destined for the landfill, the recycling bin or repurposing.  This includes anything broken beyond repair.  Clothes that are not in good enough condition to donate are cut up for cleaning rags
So I’ve got my work cut out for me.  After continually moving around the same unpacked boxes the last 9 years of my life, I am looking forward to Great Purge of 2012 (and a couple extra dollars in my pocket).  Its going to be awesome.

Firing up the coffee machine…  All systems go.

Continue the coffee love by joining my facebook page:
Blue Jeans & Coffee Beans.

This post is a part of Simple Lives Thursday.

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Heaping.  Mountainous.  Overflowing.  

These are just a few words to describe my ever-growing pile of things to be mended, sewed, or patched.  I actually don’t mind grabbing a pile of such work and planting myself in front of the tv for a couple of hours to catch up.  It’s just that I’ve really let it go this time.

And then there are the socks.  

I am pretty good about using a small, mesh laundry bag (like the ones intended for lingerie) to corral the family socks (especially the little ones!), but no matter how hard I try… there are stragglers.

The ones that don’t match.  The ones that are missing.  The ones that are entirely too worn out, but have a perfectly good mate.  What’s a girl to do?

(Read more on laundry shenanigans here:  Laundry Quandry.)
If the sock is not too worn, it makes perfect sense to stitch it up.  It takes about 10 seconds and it’s good as new.  I am careful to make the seam on the outside of the sock or my girls will complain of discomfort. 
In the old days, women would mend holes in the toes of socks indefinitely.  Consequently, the sock would become shorter and shorter and continually be handed down to the next child in line!  I do this, too.  They also did something similar with sheets.  When bed sheets became worn in the middle, they would cut them down the center and sew the outsides of the sheets together to make a new “middle.”  Ingenious.  
Eventually a good sock gets so worn out that it is impossible to mend and seems of no use at all.  Nonsense.  This is when our socks get a second life in the rag drawer.  I love using old socks to clean with.  Turn the sock inside out to use the warm, fuzzy side for maximum scrubbing power.  You can even wear the sock like a glove.  (Great for those really disgusting jobs that you will inevitably encounter when you have kids!)

Back to the kitchen for coffee round 2.  Perhaps I will get to my sewing today.  Perhaps not.  Either way, there will be coffee.  
Continue the coffee love by joining my facebook page:
Blue Jeans & Coffee Beans.

This post is a part of the Frugal Tuesday Tip.

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Little Miss Clean.

God made rainy days so gardeners could get the housework done. 

And well, I am not exactly a gardener (you can read more about that whole shenanigan here:  Greenthumbery.), but I do enjoy a good foul-weather day that forces me to actually get a few things done around the house.  I am sure this is God’s way of keeping in line.

I fancy a clean house just as much as the next person, but it’s definitely more of a challenge these days.  I once heard someone say that cleaning your house before the children are done growing is like shoveling before it’s done snowing.  Couldn’t possibly be more true.

However, it must be done (and frequently requires copious amounts of coffee). 

I quickly learned that my third child is much different from her older sisters.  She is cunning, precocious, and really, really fast.  (I imagine she is exactly like my husband was at the tender age of two and if you know my husband, you know exactly what I mean.)  She is continually bubbling over with incessant vitality and spirit (also the reason I am consuming greater quantities of coffee these days.)  She readily scales walls, cupboards, fences, and furniture.  I removed the ladder from my older girls’ bunk beds to help curb her desire to climb.  Now she just climbs into the top bunk by scaling up the side.  (Is she part monkey???)  I am convinced that nothing could ever be completely my kind of toddler-proof.

She loves to eat my all-natural deodorant and once sucked the ink out of Sharpie marker.  Trust me, I have poison control on my speed dial.  Most importantly… I. Love.  Her.

I was making an effort to “green clean” before, but it’s certainly become more of a priority in our home since this sweet baby arrived.  (You can read more tips here:  Super Secrets.)

Natural cleaning products are in abundance these days, but they are so darn pricey.  I have everything I need right in my kitchen.  I can clean my whole house with just vinegar, baking soda, salt and lemon juice.

Here are a few of my favorite natural cleaning recipes:

Drain Declogger

Pour 1 c. of baking soda down the drain, followed by 1 c. of hot vinegar.  Place a cloth over the top of the drain and let it sit for 15 minutes.  Flush with hot water.  Works like a charm!

Air freshener

Place baking soda with lemon juice in a small dish to absorb odors around the house.

Fabric Softener

Use 1/4 c. white vinegar in place of liquid fabric softener.  Softens and freshens clothes and removes odors. 

Sticker Remover

Sponge full-strength white vinegar over stickers several times and wait 15 minutes.  Then rub off.  Also works well for sticky residue left behind by labels or price tags!

Window & Mirror Cleaner

Mix 2 tsp. of white vinegar with 1 quart of warm water.  Use crumpled newspaper (black and white only, not color) or a cotton cloth to clean.  (Don’t clean windows when the sun is on them or if they are warm or streaks will show.  Be sure to follow recipe.  Using too much vinegar will eventually cloud windows.)

NOTE:  You can recycle old baking soda used for deodorizing the refrigerator and freezer by using it to clean around the house!

Happy cleaning!!!
NOTE:  If you haven’t already noticed this blog has just been nominated for Best All-Around Mom Blog at!!!  Please, go cast your vote by clicking on the button below (or at the top right-hand side of the page)!  Voting is open until October 15!

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Sweet celebration.

Labor Day.  A recognition of those who labor… by not working.  A day off for most, unless you are mom in which case there will never truly be a day off. 

Sophia Loren once said, “When you are a mother you are never really alone in your thoughts.  A mother always has to think twice, once for herself and once for her child.” 

Applying my super math skills, I suppose that means I must think in quadruple.  Once each for me and my three little girls.  Now that is labor.  No wonder my life requires such profuse amounts of coffee! 

(Yesterday, I woke up late, skipped my coffee and consequently caught myself applying lip gloss to my lashes.  True story.  Whose bright idea was it to make the lip gloss tube so strikingly simliar to the mascara anyway???)

So let’s do something easy.  Something non-laborious in honor of this beautiful Labor Day.  (And since it’s officially a holiday we won’t bother to count calories either!)

My girls will be squealing with delight when they smell this delicious treat coming from the kitchen!  It’s a favorite at our house and so easy, I could not mess it up even without a cup of coffee.

Bread Machine Cinnamon Bread

1 c. water
2 T. butter or margarine, softened
3 c. flour
3 T. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp. bread machine yeast
3/4 c. raisins (optional)

1.  Measure carefully, placing all ingredients except raisins in bread machine pan in the order recommended by the manufacturer.  (Add raisins at the Raisin/Nut signal or 5-10 minutes before last kneading cycle ends.)

2.  Select Sweet or Basic/White cycle.  Use Medium or Light color.  Remove baked bread from pan and cool on wire rack.

Bonus Tip:  After baking, drizzle warm bread with a simple powdered sugar glaze (1 1/2 c. powdered sugar + 2 T. water or milk). Let cool. Tastes just like a glazed cinnamon twist from the bakery!

Makes 1 loaf (1 1/2 lb) 12 slices

NOTE:  You can download a printable copy of this recipe by visiting the “Recipes” tab at the top of the page.  (I am working on uploading all my recipes previously posted in this format so check back often for new ideas!)