"Gifts Are Bridges" (Momastery)

If you are a mom, you may have heard of Glennon Doyle Melton and her phenomenal blog, Momastery. I have read her blog on occasion over the years and had the unique opportunity to attend one of her talks locally (literally less than 10 minutes from my house). In addition to hearing her answer questions from audience members, she included a copy of her latest book, Carry On Warrior - The Power of Embracing Your Messy Life. I arrived early (as suggested) to get a good seat and since I was attending solo, I figured I would start reading her book. I read a few chapters, then the talk began, and just as quickly (or at least it seemed that way, the two hours flew by) the talk ended, I headed home (in a nasty snow storm by the way) and proceeded to read more chapters.Then, life happened, and the book has since sat on my nightstand, collecting dust.

This morning was my turn to "sleep in", which is a joke, since I don't sleep in, but rather, I lounge. I did try to sleep, but that wasn't happening, and my laptop was downstairs, so I turned to Glennon's book and started reading. Several chapters fly by, then I read, "Gifts Are Bridges". I finally figured out the answer to why I continue with this blog.

Yes, with my less than 40 blog followers and ever seesawing 264/265 (seriously, every day it changes) Facebook "likes", I often wonder why I do this blog. Why do I choose to write about my deals, post about upcoming sales, how to get things for less, etc.? I mean, really, who is listening? Okay, yes, maybe 300 people, in this infinite internet world.

One might think I get money from this blog. HAHAHAHA. Sorry, I didn't mean to laugh quite that loud, but no, I make zilch from this blog, and I am quite okay with it. There are a lot of things one must do to make money from a blog, and I am either too lazy to pursue or I don't have confidence in the value this blog offers, probably a bit of both. But I digress . . .

Reading "Gifts Are Bridges," really struck a chord with me. So much so, I got out of my comfy bed to get my laptop, because I felt compelled to write about my "gifts" and how they are "bridges". Here is the gist using Glennon's own words and why they spoke to me:

    "I think God gives us each a gift or two so that we have something special to offer to others. But sometimes we make the mistake of assuming that the things we're good at are common to everyone. We don't recognize that our gifts are unique and therefore worth offering." 

    I am guilty of this. I think that everyone has a thrifty skill, and my skill is simply a bit more conditioned than others. The reality is, I live and breathe thriftiness.  Not everyone does.

    "I think sometimes we get confused and believe that our gift must bring us money or success or fame. Sometimes those things do happen, but not usually. The only thing a gift needs to do is bring you joy. You must find the thing that brings you joy in the doing of that thing, and not worry about the outcome."

     I get caught up in this sometimes. While this blog doesn't offer me money, success or fame (okay, maybe a little fame, I mean, I am recognized at certain sales - ha!), I do make money from turning my thrift buys into profitable sales. But the truth is I truly love to thrift shop.  Doing so brings me joy and sharing with others brings me joy.  Glennon shared in this chapter that one of her sister's gifts is thrifting. Coincidence, I am reading this chapter at this time?? I think not.

    "I think it's pretty hard to keep a gift from becoming a bridge, somehow, someday, someway--if we use it. Because I think God must really want us to connect with each other. He must want us to become a part of each other's lives and memories, and he must want our hearts to get all tangled up with other hearts. We are each an island, but he gives us gifts we use as bridges into each other's lives. When we lay down our gift, we walk right over it and straight into another heart."

    The "gift" of this blog has been my bridge to my friends and my readers. Over the years, I have been told how what I have written has touched/influenced others.  When people find a great deal for themselves, they'll tell me, "Janis would be so proud of me." or "I thought of you when I saw this." I  always keep my friends in mind when I am perusing Facebook yard sale pages, thrift stores, or consignment sales. Many times over the years, I have connected deals with their rightful owners (A set of collector John Deere dishes for A., a Star Wars bedding ensemble for K., Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles toys for J., etc). In turn, people share deals with me that I have been looking for and will share with me upcoming thrift sales because they know how much I will enjoy checking out yet another sale.

     I've connected with complete strangers online and while shopping at thrift stores. Some of these strangers have become my friends. I started a meetup group for thrift shopping a few years back, and while we only met maybe once or twice for thrift outings, we remain connected, and they have shared their gifts with me (the world of ebay).

Yes, Glennon, you are so right - Gifts Are Bridges. Thanks friends for coming over to my island and allowing me to be part of your lives.


It's New To Me: As They Grow Consignment Sale

Yesterday, I checked out a "new-to-me" consignment sale, As They Grow Kids Consignment, LLC, in Elkton, MD.  As They Grow is a franchise and there has been a presence in the Elkton, MD area for at least the past year, if not more.  I had a limited amount of time Friday morning, so I prepared to be there when they first opened at 9am.

Here are my observations:

- The sale was not large and only took up 1/3 of the available facility space. 
- The sale's floor lighting very dark as I waited outside the entry, but I hoped upon opening the sale, the lights would be turned on. While, the lights were turned on, the overall lighting for the sale was less than ideal.
- There was a relatively small line waiting to enter. 
- Doors opened immediately at the start time, 9am.
Rating: Fair 

- Well organized. All clothing was on hangers (love!), shopping bags were provided, and bar-code tagging was used.
- Good variety of merchandise: clothing, toys, sports, equipment, shoes, large toys, linens, decor, etc. 
- Small quantities of everything. I was surprised by the limited toys and books selection.
- Good quality merchandise - More often, the items were clean (some minor staining on clothing), packaged well, and organized well.
- Overall pricing was reasonable. Of course, you had those oddball $10 for a pair of size 6 boys jeans.
Rating: Very Good

Checking Out:
- They accept cash (no checks), MasterCard, Visa, and Discover.
- The check-out line queued through the shopping area (specifically the clothing and shoes sections)  limiting a shopper's ability to comfortably peruse the clothing. I think this is an area of improvement for the organizers. 
- They had a two-part system:
      - De-Tag Station:  One set of workers removed tags, hangers, and pins from the clothing.  They tallied my number of tags, bagged my items (in small, thin plastic bags that barely closed), and sent me to the register station.
      - Register Station - The cashier entered my tags (her bar-code scanner was not working well) and then offered a receipt-to-email option (no paper option). I accepted the receipt-to-email option and was a little disappointed it was only the summary, not detailed of what I spend (like Just Between Friends).  Also, the tax showed $0.00 which is incorrect.  MD taxes clothing.
- I spent $40.28 for 12 clothing items (2 bathing suits, 3 jeans, 4 sweatpants, 1 set pjs and 2 t-shirts). 
Rating: Good

Overall, I would recommend this sale.  While it is a smaller size and needs a few minor improvements, I was happy with my experience.  I may even go back for their 50% sale (select merchandise based on seller's discretion).

As They Grow Kids Consignment, LLC
All Seasons Sports Academy, 801 Elkton Boulevard, Elkton MD
Facebook: As They Grow Kids Consigment, LLC


Wednesday's WOOT of the Week!

The thrift find or deal from the last week which made me say WOOT!  Share your WOOT! on The Magic That Is Thrift Facebook page here.
My WOOT purchase(s) from the past week are some Two for One rebate deals, as in two purchases from one rebate check/credit.

Kohl's Rebate Visa:
I finally received my rebate from two Black Friday purchases and since it is a Visa, I could use it anywhere.

First purchase - GWO:  I needed to get my thrift mojo back, so I headed to the place that always brings me a thrift score.  The Goodwill Outlet (GWO) in Delaware. I was not disappointed.
Hidden in those bags are some good finds:  Legos, Chuggington Train set, Thomas train pieces, kids pjs, home decor items.  The best part, I had money left over.

Second purchase - Newark Farmer's Market:  I used the remaining credit towards my purchase of fresh fruit and veggies at great prices ($.25/lb for bananas, kiwis 5 for $1; seedless grapes $.99/lb, etc.)

Costco/American Express Cash Back Check

First purchase - Costco: Now, technically, part of this check was already "used" for the new rug we I purchased for our family room. But, you know how that changes when the actual check arrives. Usually, I cash the check and deposit in our bank account. Why? If I use the check, then I am not earning new cash back via the credit card. This trip, I decided to just use the check as payment.  The good thing, I didn't use the entire check.

Second purchase - Future Babysitters Fee:  The hubs and I have a date night scheduled for this Saturday, so the unused rebate funds from the Costco purchase will pay the babysitter fee.



Finding My Voice and Estate Sale Finds

Yesterday, the day we all Sprang Forward an hour, I attended a one day, 4-hour estate sale (see this post for some of the goodies that were available).  I mention the specifics because it sets the stage for what I experienced.

Usually, estate sales are handled over a 2-3 day span.  The first day is full price and the second is usually discounted.  Not the case with this sale. This sale, you had to make decisions quickly or your sought after items were marked "SOLD" before you could say "um".

So, let me set the stage for you:
1) The estate sale pictures had some lovely items - Pottery Barn this and that. Cool wall clocks, huge lanterns, nice mirrors, etc., so you expected a good turnout.
2) It is scheduled for 10am the day of "Spring Forward" (one less hour makes people a bit cranky, myself included).
3) I have a cold.
4) I arrive 20 minutes early to stand in line behind people who must have arrived at 9am.
5) By 10am, there is a sizable line behind me.
6) Doors open and by the time I get in (maybe 20 seconds after the start), some of my chosen items are already sold.
7) It is hard to move and the pressure is on to grab what you want, right away.
8) I forgot my shopping bags, so I have to wait to have my items to put on hold.
9) There are a few people ahead of me and there is one person behind me.
10) I wait patiently (as other items are being sold) for my turn and then . . .

The person behind me decides to completely ignore my turn and starts putting her stuff ahead of mine to be put on hold.  I looked at her in disbelief, then in irritation, and finally, my mouth opened and these words were sputtered:

"Maybe next time you could wait your turn."

Oh, snap. I said it OUT LOUD. She looked at me incredulously, "I am just putting my stuff down to be put on hold." (er, she knew there was a line for the hold area, as she had waited behind me for a bit until she decided she didn't want to anymore)

"Yes, and I was ahead of you, waiting patiently." At this time, the room got a bit quiet and the sale organizers were looking at us.

"Uh, uh, I didn't realize,"she stammered, not looking at me.

At that point, I didn't say anything else and we all went about our business (Although, I did overhear her say later that was the first time she was "yelled" at during an estate sale. I didn't yell at her. Apparently, a confident voice translates to yelling nowadays). I realized later she was a regular at these sales so I think the estate company allows her some leeway.  Still, behavior like that irks me and I normally would simply stew internally or tell a friend who might be shopping with me, but I didn't have a shopping friend this time.  Maybe I should have shopping friends with me for these estate sales. Not only can I complain to them, I would have back-up (ha! not for a fight) for spotting and snagging deals. I noticed teamwork was involved in most of the best deals. Either way, I am tired of keeping quiet when people don't play fair. On a side note, when all my gray hair comes in, my speaking out will be looked at as having a "senior moment", rather than being a rude whippersnapper.  More advantages of being gray.

With the drama out of the way and a few of my items on hold, I set about trying to find my "must haves".  I only snagged one. The other items I got were good as well.  I will say the prices were a bit high (closer to retail than thrift), but they were selling because it was, again, a one day, 4-hour sale. I tried to negotiate (because, why not) and the estate company owner responded "I need to feed my family." A bit dramatic, but okay, whatever. If I had talked to one of her adult kids working the sale, they would have negotiated because I heard them do so with others who pointed out the retail prices. I think I was possibly black-balled for my "outburst" earlier, but no biggie. I didn't have to buy the items if I didn't want to, right?

After all said and done, I got myself some good deals. I was especially happy with my clothing deals.  On average, I spent just under $4 a piece for assorted clothing items, with Liz Claiborne tags, etc.  Most of my items were sleepwear, which I find to be so expensive bought retail.  I couldn't wait to get home, wash them, and wear some that night.  So incredibly comfortable.

Here are my finds:
My "Must Have" Metal Topiary Wall Art - $20 (Retails for $50 online)
Large assortment of clothes
Random assortment
Me and my clocks!
The nesting bowls (paid too much, but they are nostalgic to me)
Grr, one of them is missing its 2nd frame (probably lost in the chaos), but at $8 each set, not too bad. Original Marshalls stickers - $24.99


Estate Sale Prices - Deal or No Deal?

The larger clock - $60.
Chandelier - $200
Mirror - $120
Large Lantern - $30
Metal Wall Art - $20
Mirror - $60
$8 a set (shutter & 2 frames)
The above items (photos courtesy of were featured at an estate sale I attended today. I went in hopes of snagging some good deals. Unfortunately, even though I was maybe, 20th in line, I was only able to score one of my "must have" items.  This sale was challenging.  Many people, tight spaces, and uber quick "solds".  This is one time where I wish I had a shopping partner. 

So, tell me, which ones are "Deals" and which ones are "No Deals".