Sunday, October 21, 2012
I decided to do some part-time work for my husband's company back in January, 2012. Mainly marketing-oriented projects - working on his website, Facebook pages and print materials and staging properties that are on the market for sale. Also, my son was finishing high school online and he wrapped up high school early - in April, 2012. So, I ramped up work since high school was over, P was admitted to college and I felt like I could breathe a little on the "child educational" front.
Early this summer, my husband's company began purchasing a few properties to fix and flip. This little project has morphed into another "pseudo-careeer" and one that I am getting a lot of personal satisfaction from.
One quick discovery...painting outdated brass fixtures! One of the renovation houses was filled with brass fixtures. The dining room fixture was in great condition and was a very large traditional fixture that I hated to toss. I decided to paint it a dark bronze. For two cans of spray paint (about $8) - the fixture was transformed.
I also found bathroom cabinets in a salvage store including the granite tops for about $300. The quote from the cabinet company was $1500.
I hope to be better organized in keeping my "before" and "afters" on projects going forward. Working on a beach cottage now which is a renovation and decorating opportunity. It will be sold furnished. I have a lot of creative ideas coming about re-working some existing furniture that is currently in the cottage and have found a lot of ideas on Pinterest to incorporate. Also working on a 1950's era house in our neighborhood that is a total gut job. Having fun planning it now!
Thanks for inspiring me to keep writing "DP!"
Looking forward to sharing more projects soon!
Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Being a lifelong sales person, I also wanted to contribute financially to my family "team." I took stock of the things I no longer needed (work clothes) or things that didn't fit my current lifestyle (silver pieces, china) and decided to make some money from things I was no longer using or to donate them so someone else could benefit.
I cleaned out my closet and sold anything with a "label" on EBay. EBay occasionally allows you to list items for free and I began watching for the time periods when I could take advantage of the free listing service. I made a "sell" box, "toss" box and a "donate" box and set forth with emptying out my closet. The donate box left my house immediately so I didn't have time for second thoughts! The same with the toss box....gone! The sell box was relocated to my guest room closet and I added priority mailing supplies for easy packaging. I photographed all of the items and when the time was right for cheaper EBay selling, I began listing the items taking care to write a really good description and putting as much detail in as possible. My teen aged son also had many things he had outgrown and there is a real market for nicer kids clothing so I sold a few of his things too. I easily bought groceries for one week out of every month with my sales.
Next...I evaluated my china cabinet. It really bothered me that I have rarely or never used most of the things in it. I had a set of china I was given at 18 that was never used plus wedding and holiday china and silver serving pieces that I occasionally polished and used once a year. We also had untold amounts of crystal - again - never or rarely used. I contacted Replacements in Greensboro NC and got an analysis of the value of my items. I decided it was time to let go of the china I had never used from my 18th birthday and the silver. Since I live close to Greensboro, I made an appointment and took my items in and left with $700. I was thrilled! I decided to keep my crystal because they couldn't give me much for it ($2 or so a stem) but I came home and cleaned out my butler's pantry glass cabinet and vowed to start using the crystal wine glasses. Now I always use them...and it is a treat.
The last "clean out for money" project I completed was a re-evaluation of my jewelry. I only wear my wedding ring and mainly silver jewelry (earrings and occasional necklace or bracelet) these days. I organized all of my earrings into hanging bags with pouches so I could see what I had. After seeing the ridiculous amount, I have not purchased one pair since! Next, I gathered up the old, tangled gold bracelets, necklaces, high school rings, and earrings and shopped them around to get an idea of value. I finally decided to ship mine to an online company and was offered $800 for the lot.
The money was great, but the feeling of accomplishment was better. After my son goes to college, I have more clean out plans. I want to simplify even more and enjoy life and not the stuff. Some future plans include organizing closets and photos. If I don't use or enjoy something, why hang on to it?
I would love to hear your tips for organization...and Happy Valentine's Day!
Friday, February 3, 2012
Tons of great ideas on this blog!
Want to be able to use the same ingredients to make a hot or cold version?
Quick & Easy & Lowfat "Mexican" Bean Dip
One 8 oz. can fat free refried beans (yes...fat free...you cannot tell the difference!)
1/2 of one packet of taco seasoning
One 8 oz. container of low fat sour cream
Low fat shredded cheese of your preference & quantity - I use cheddar and jack blend
Salsa- few tablespoons of your favorite
Start by layering refried beans on a platter in a circular pattern...
The cold version of this dip pairs wonderfully with Taco Stew (see previous blog for recipe).
**To make a HOT version of this dip, layer ingredients into a bake proof dish (except salsa). Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Top with salsa once dip comes out of the oven.**
Saturday, January 28, 2012
I began by wrapping the wreath with inexpensive boas that were on "cardboard paddles" from Michael's. I just started out by tying the boas onto the wreath and wrapping them all the way around it. Then I filled in the blank spaces with two fluffier, prettier boas. Just wrap and wrap and wrap!
In addition, I added red wire with hearts attached after the boas were wrapped. (These are a little hard to see from this picture, but it adds some shine and sparkle!) To complete the project, I added a bow to the top! Easy, fast project that took about 10-15 minutes and the total cost was less than $20.
Monday, January 23, 2012
Friday, January 20, 2012
Wednesday, January 18, 2012
Yesterday, I got inspired. I have been slowly re-decorating one of my guest rooms. We painted it chocolate brown last year. I added white bedding to the twin beds and then painted an old chest white to serve as a nightstand between the two beds. A friend painted a brown and white zebra pattern onto some old cornice boards for me. Yes....she painted right on the fabric! So my room is slowly coming together.
I got out my little frames and decided to make a "guest room" door hanger. I had some lime green scrapbook paper and some adhesive letters that look like old typewriter keys.
I cut the paper to fit the frame and laid out the words Guest Room....
Then, I re-framed it all in the little frame!
I have moved it all around the room (as I tend to do with everything). It looks cute on the closet door, the door of the little chest (you can see it on the chest in the picture above) and on the door entering the guest room, where I think it will live.
Now I am thinking of other ways to utilize these frames! Of course, putting pictures in them would be great. For Christmas, I think red paper with "Joy" or "Be Merry" could be cute. A little (or big) girl would love a monogram door hanger in the colors of her room. For a party, you can add "Come On In" and hang on front door. The combinations are endless. I think this is pretty cute for a $5 item! The whole project took ten minutes and would be an easy craft project for a young child as well.
I would love to hear other ideas you might have for this same craft idea! Happy Hump Day!
Monday, January 16, 2012
I buy ALL of my cleaning supplies at the dollar store. Let’s face it… all cleaners are made from some version of ammonia, soap and water with a scent. Why pay $4.99 a bottle for a cleaning product when you can get it for a buck? I also get shampoo and liquid hand soap there as well as many other household items like batteries or aluminum foil. It is so satisfying to walk out with BAGS of items for $20.
One of my favorite dollar store buys is candy. I stock up on “movie theater” size boxes to take to the movies when we go. They carry all your favorites like Junior Mints, Starbursts, Raisinets and Twizzlers. I like to give these large boxes of candy along with a gift card or cash for children’s gifts. It is always a hit at any age! Wrap a ten-dollar bill (or whatever denomination you choose) around a box or two of candy with a pretty ribbon. For younger kids, a$10 bill wrapped around a tootsie roll bank is a favorite…so cute! Much more original and thoughtful than a card with money! And who doesn't like candy?
The stores in my area even carry popcorn boxes and bowls that are cute. You can fill one with movie candy, microwave popcorn and a movie store gift card or a DVD for a gift “bundle.” I have even given my mailman a candy “stack” for Christmas and he loved it - and I spent $5! But I digress with my candy fascination…
An easy dollar store decorating idea is to buy "fillers" for glass containers there. At the holidays, you can purchase specialty items that can be jazzed up. For example, I have a large open glass container that always sits in the middle of my dining room table. I like to buy 10-inch candles in glass cylinder containers from the dollar store and use them in the center of my larger glass container with different fillers. The wax stays in the glass candle container and doesn’t melt all over your filler. I like to change up the filler with the season. For Valentine’s Day, try old-fashioned ”message candy hearts.” Other fillers you can find include moss for spring, jelly beans for Easter and small pine cones look pretty for fall and winter. The possibilities are endless!
The dollar store glass candles are also versatile on their own. I used them on my mantle this year at Christmas with greenery from my yard. I have placed them down the length of my sidewalk for a night-time party. They look pretty tied with raffia and running the length of a table. Pretty, simple and inexpensive. $10 worth of candles can transform your home for a party.
As you can tell, I am obsessed with figuring out creative ways to use dollar store treasures. Some of my other favorite finds include: cookie sheets of all sizes, aluminum casserole "dishes" with lids to freeze casseroles (or to use for when taking a dish to a sick friend), brown paper lunch bags, plastic cups that can be personalized with a paint pen for a party, unbreakable Christmas ornaments, gift bags and tissue paper.
Share your favorite finds with me! Happy hunting!
P.S. Great new website find for glass apothecary jars and other goodies:
Friday, January 13, 2012
Keep the staples for this recipe in your pantry and you literally open cans and packages - pour ingredients into your large soup pot and simmer. Easy, easy, easy! Bonus: Leave out the beef for a veggie-only version.
One large can of crushed tomatoes (28 oz or 32 oz OK)
One large can of tomato puree (28 oz or 32 oz OK)
Two (15-16 oz) cans of red kidney beans (drain and rinse)
One 10 oz. can of Ro-Tel (diced tomatoes and green chiles) - add entire can, liquid and all
One 8-10 oz. can of corn (drain liquid)
One packet of taco seasoning
One packet of Hidden Valley dry ranch dressing mix
Optional: One pound of cooked and drained ground beef or ground turkey - whatever your family likes
Combine all ingredients into large soup pot and simmer on low-to-medium heat for 30-40 minutes. Stir and adjust temp to make sure you don't burn ingredients on bottom of pot. This is a great make-ahead soup and is even better on days 2 and 3.
Tip: I buy store-brand canned goods except for the Ro-tel and the Hidden Valley ranch mix.
Once you are ready to serve, garnish with shredded cheese, sour cream, crushed taco chips and anything else your heart desires!
Makes about 8 generous portions.
Wednesday, January 11, 2012
Now that I am not working full-time OUTSIDE of the house, I have worked harder than ever to save money and stay on budget. When I worked, I did some of the same things I do now, but I have kicked things up a notch. On Wednesdays (Hump Day), I hope to share some tips on things that have helped me simplify my life, stay organized and on budget. I’d love to hear from you about your successes.
I highly recommend shopping online for groceries. Some people look at me like I have three heads when I tell them I do this. I have shopped online for YEARS for groceries. It all started when I worked like a maniac and did not have the energy to go to the store after work, nor did I want to spend my weekends trudging to the grocery store. When my grocery store (Lowe’s Foods) started their online service, I had a young son who usually went to the store with me and it was a pain! My son always wanted things he didn’t need and I was more likely to impulse buy as well. Plus, online shopping is available 24 hours a day, so I could do it when it was convenient for me. I could even order from work in a pinch. So I decided to give this new service a shot.
Believe it or not, the fee to shop online is minimal…about $5. I would spend the $5 fee or more if I walked into the store because of impulse buying! To get started, I sat down and spent an afternoon setting up a master list (via the grocery store’s website) of the things we buy most often. From there, I added things as I went along each week. It took a few tries to get things right, but it is second nature to get groceries this way now. It takes about ten minutes to place an order and the best part…I drive to the store, push a buzzer and they roll the groceries out to my car and load them! Rain or shine! And then I just drive away!
I usually submit my order on Tuesdays when the store is fully stocked from the weekend so they are more likely to have all of my items. If you forget something, you can call them and they will add it. IT IS SO EASY! I even use the service when I go to the beach and use the delivery option my store offers so I can walk into my beach vacation house and unpack (or have a cocktail) while I wait for our groceries to arrive!
I keep a list all week of the things we need on my kitchen island and have taught my guys to add to it. I menu plan (more on this topic later) before I start the order and take my laptop into the kitchen when I am ready to work on it. (This way I can look through the fridge and the pantry to make sure I am not duplicating something or to see if I am out of something.)
Another benefit of ordering online is that you can see your total cost in your virtual cart. I know my budget number and will literally remove things I think we can do without from the cart until I hit the magic number. I do not go over budget. The store calls me if they are out of something, they see if I want a substitution and they confirm when the order is ready.
For the coupon clipping folks, I think you could "rock the savings" even more. Just another opportunity to visually check what you are purchasing with your coupons. I have not taken up this cause because I am a "paper hater."
Give online grocery shopping a try. It is really worth the effort! I'd love to hear from you if you have questions about the process or if you already do this and have additional tips to share!
Preview of next week's Hump Day Tip: Weekly Dinner Menu Planning
Monday, January 9, 2012
My childhood girlfriends and I go on at least one trip together each year. I have known most of these women since middle school. These are my "lifetime" friends. Each one is a treasure and offers their own personality to the group. For me, lifetime friends are the ones who have known you before you acquired all of your titles...mom, wife, co-worker, etc. These women know DANA. They can call me out on things and understand where I am coming from in an instant. These are also the friends I can pick off where I left off with immediately upon seeing them (some live in my town but we don't get together as often as people would think and some live farther away so mileage prohibits frequent visits).
I write about this topic because I think it is important to figure out "what juices you." For me, seeing these "lifer" friends who understand and know me makes me feel understood and validated. I can talk about my problems and trust they will give their honest opinions and know they care about me. We just have fun together too and can give each other a word or a look that can transport us back to 1983 in a second.
I do have great friends outside of this group and I have made it my mission to reach out to other neat women I have known and enjoyed being around this past year. It was the best resolution I made in 2011. I have re-connected with a college friend for lunch and a woman I knew from my work life who has kids similar in age to mine and has "freedom." I have had lunch and dinner with my son's former babysitter who is back in town earning another college degree. I have invited ladies in my neighborhood to a holiday wine and cheese with my other great "neighborhood" girlfriends. I walk with a great girlfriend almost daily and I am going to my first book club meeting this week!
Now that I am "at home," I find that having plans on the horizon keep me moving forward and give me something to look ahead to. Surrounding people who feed your soul is so important. Being happy with yourself is too....more on that to come!