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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

De-Clutter & Make Some Bucks

2011 was a year of cleaning house....literally and figuratively!  Since leaving my incredibly stressful mortgage career, I needed to decompress and clear my mental clutter...a process that took longer than expected.  When I left work in November 2010, I rolled right into the chaos of the holidays.  Once the holidays were over and I really could relax into my new role, I wanted to find some ways to simplify my life. 

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

My Own Road: Flowers and Dots baby shower - FREE printables!

My Own Road: Flowers and Dots baby shower - FREE printables!

Tons of great ideas on this blog!

Cottage Hill: Dog Silhouette Pillow

Cottage Hill: Dog Silhouette Pillow

TGIF (Truly Great and Inexpensive Food): Super Bowl Edition

Want to make a quick Super Bowl Appetizer?
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 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...
Mix 1/2 packet of taco seasoning with sour cream and layer over beans...

Top with shredded cheese and a little salsa...chill for 30 minutes or before serving.
In warm weather months, replace salsa with halved grape tomatoes, finely diced scallions and chopped olives and/or chiles....whatever fresh ingredients you like!

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.**