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1/29/15

43 Shades of Gray - Three Months Completed

Hey there, just a quick update on my journey to embracing my gray hair. As I type, I am three months into the transition and we've hit the awkward stage. Dare I say, the dreaded "skunk" stage. There is no denying I have tons of gray and I am at the point where people are probably looking at me saying, "She needs a touch-up, like yesterday."

I will say this, I actually like my gray and am cursing my dyed hair. I just look at the orange-brown ends and cringe. The only thing I can do is continue to maintain regular haircuts and try to style the hair the best way I know how. Do not be surprised to see me in headbands, clips, and the like.

I found a blog series, The Gray Area, on Highland Fashionista and have been inspired. I am so happy she chronicled her journey and continues to provide updates on products she uses to tame the frizz that is gray. Check her out her transition post here.

Here is my transition so far:
3 Months in
After 2 months
2 weeks in

1/28/15

Switcheroo, Switcheroo, Ah, Ah

In the spirit of Taylor Swift's Shake It Off, I give you . . .

Switcheroo, Switcheroo, ah, ah . . . Switcheroo, Switcheroo, ah, ah . . .

Now, you either have Shake It Off or Switcheroo in your head. Apologies.

I am playing a bit of switcheroo today at the ole homestead. As I was preparing items for sale meetups (cha-ching!), I was also simultaneously taking down the "winter" decor. I know, it is not officially the end of winter yet and the Groundhog has not spoken, but I have spoken. Winter decor must be put away so we may bring out Valentine's Day decor. Never a dull moment, right?!

While working, I, of course, got sidetracked (that is what we Cancerians do!). I am in "declutter mode" and almost put a piece of furniture (psst - the hall tree) on the selling block. That is, until I decided to do a switcheroo. (cue the music - ah, ah!)

Long story short, I switched the hall tree in the foyer with the wine rack (read about the wine rack here) in the family room and vice versa.

The "Before" pictures:
Ah, it's humble beginnings.
Recently saved from the basement and the selling block.
Now, "After", you guessed it, the Switcheroo:
I love how the mirror reflection adds more interest to an otherwise bland corner.
SO MUCH BETTER! No more crazy clutter. The only addition will be some better magazines (artsy fartsy ones) to put in the bottle holders or find something else to do with those bottle holders.
Okay, now back to my regularly scheduled task. 

1/27/15

Breakdown

Now, don't panic. I didn't have a breakdown as a result of my thrift detox (only 4 more days!!!). Instead, the breakdowns (yes, PLURAL) we've experienced are household items who just up and quit ("I can't take this anymore!") or are on their way out, slowly.

Here is the list of the household items that just had enough:
  • Husband's car transmission (ouch, this one hit the wallet hard!)
  • Our Lawn tractor (always something to fix on this grrrr! tractor)
  • My laptop (black screen of hopelessness)
  • My husband's laptop (gray screen with a question mark blinking at us - "why me??" it asks)
  • My snow boots (literally became unglued)
  • Coffee pot (shuts off midway through a brew, several times)
So, what to do, what to do? Well, we paid up on 4 of the 6. And I have to laugh (I could cry, I guess, but . . .), because to add to the dismay, when I looked at our bank account, I noticed our mortgage payment went up (taxes and homeowners insurance increases) while my husband's pay went down (pesky medical coverage increases). Nothing we can't handle, but seriously, kick us while we're down, why don't you?

Which 4 got repaired/replaced?
  1. Car Transmission: Our 2001 car is still in decent condition even though it has surpassed 100K miles. It is my husband's car for commuting to work. With the new transmission, we are sure to get another 5 years or more. Both my husband and I are in the mindset to run our cars into the ground. We really dislike car payments.   
  2. Lawn Tractor: I feel like this tractor ALWAYS needs something fixed. We get it serviced every Dec/Jan by the same place to ensure it is ready for the next season. Nearly every time we get the call from the servicer, a repair is needed.  I need to see what other options are available for next year's servicing. We got it fixed, AGAIN by this servicer, because we already invested the $70 for them to come pick it up, since we don't have the means to bring the tractor in ourselves. It is not like we can load it into the SUV. 
  3. My laptop: When I took the laptop to Apple, they explained it was most likely one of two things, but there was the possibility both items needed repair. Well, I just bought a new powercord (since that stopped working in December), so I figured I might get lucky with just the one repair. Nope! I must say, I did miss my Mac while she was in service, especially after my husband's laptop stopped working while I was using it as a replacement. Maybe my thrift detox is jinxing me.  Hmmm . . . 
  4. My snow boots:  The pair I bought at the thrift store last year came apart in November, but we (I mean, my husband), re-glued the sole.  The sole came apart again, this time, while I was volunteering at the kids school.  I looked really silly walking the halls with a flip floppy snow boot.  I decided to invest (aka - pay retail) on a well reviewed snow boot.  I hope the investment pays off because I need good boots for playing in the snow with the kiddos.
As for the laptop, I will let my husband be the decision maker (way to pass the buck, right?!). The coffee maker, on the other hand, has to be replaced; however, we are skipping the fancy "grind and brew" model we've replaced over the years. Just a simple, 12 cup programmable brewer will work for us. We love coffee, but spending nearly $100 on a coffee maker seems out of place with our current goals. Meanwhile, I will continue to press the "start" button a few times throughout the brewing process until it finally gives up completely.  I also need to exchange the whole bean coffee (I just bought of course) with ground.  An added benefit to a new, simpler model, I'll no longer have the  loud grinding noise or the extra cleanup. I hope to find an inexpensive one at a thrift shop (Feb 1st!) or on the Facebook pages.  If not, I will use a coupon, combined with a sale, combined with free shipping, maybe get a rebate and get cash back with Ebates.  If only.

Thankfully, there are only 4 more days left in Jinxed January.  Fingers crossed, no more breakdowns.
Come on, Cuisi, hold on a little longer.

1/25/15

Adieu, Black Beauty

Happy Trails!
Today, I bid adieu to my rack rental business after selling the last of my double rail Black Beauty clothing rack inventory.

Overall, I am very happy with the success of this business venture. I bought the racks initially to use for my own, in-house consignment store, then I ventured into the rental business.

I advertised mainly on Craigslist/word-of-mouth and gained customers from local and not-so-local school consignment sales. 

While I didn't hit my profit goal (I was shy by just one more 3-day rental), I did earn a remarkable ROI. The racks required no upkeep, required limited storage space and were relatively easy to transport. My only job was to deliver and pick-up the disassembled racks, so my labor was minimal as well.

Why did I end the business? The times they were a changin'. Local consignment sales were either exiting the business, building/buying their own racks or borrowing racks for free from other sale organizers. Since I only had seven racks, I couldn't necessarily provide full service for the mid to larger size sales.  Could I have more actively pursued new customers?  Sure, I could, but I also knew the racks would begin showing wear with all the shuttling around and different people handling the assembly. I would either need to replace them and/or invest in more racks, which are expensive via retail and very hard to find second hand. In the end, I realized I no longer wanted to invest my energies in this type of business. 

With this decision made, I created a "for sale" Craigslist ad, reached out to local business owners, and emailed consignment sale organizers.  After many ad "renews", emails, texts, etc, I sold the last few today.  I could have accepted the many low-ball offers, but I stood my ground. I had my profit goal in mind and I was going to get as close to reaching it as I could.

I have learned so much in these past few years with consignment sales and rack rentals. I can't wait to apply what I've learned and learn new skills in my next venture.  Stay tuned!

1/20/15

Sell or Salvage?

I am in the process of cleaning out unwanted items all over the house.  Yesterday, inspired by the disaster zone my kids created with their Duplo Lego collection, I set out to complete another play area re-org.

As with all my re-orgs and clean-outs, I get side-tracked with the "sell or salvage" internal dialogue.  Several items were considered and three were salvaged.  It is hard for me to let go of items that can be re-purposed.  I know, sounds like what you hear on Hoarders, but really, I am not a hoarder, just frugal. Warning:  Picture heavy post.

Here is a breakdown of what was salvaged:

Item 1:  Train Table
Well, at first, I was cleaning the table for the purposes of selling it.  Then, my mind wandered to those Pinterest posts featuring train table to Lego table conversions, where you buy the Duplo/Lego plates and affix to the underside of the train table top.  The train table becomes a dual train/Lego table, simply by flipping over the table top pieces. Hmm, while continuing to scrub away, I thought:

1) My boys tend to play on the floor rather than the table. Yes, a mystery to me too. 
2) They are in between Duplo and Lego, so which plates would I buy?
3) What if the table became our puzzle/game table instead?  The height and width are just right for the boys to reach across (unlike the kitchen table) and we don't have to play on the floor, which gets uncomfortable for this momma's back.

Okay, we'll keep the table a bit longer. After I finished cleaning the table, I did organize their Duplo Legos in the accompanying train table bins.  Maybe if it is organized as a Duplo table, they will use it as such until it's game time? One can only hope.
Yes, the table and all the Duplos were thrifted or gifted. I know the table top is not pretty and that is why it will remain in the basement for family puzzle/game time.
I added an extra long bin that fits under the table. My hope with this bin is that they won't DUMP all the bricks out since they can see them easily.  Fingers crossed.
Item 2:  Wrought iron wine rack
I purchased this rack in my single days when I lived in Cleveland.  It was perfect to house my few bottles of wine and even fewer wine glasses.  Years later, this poor thing stands empty in a corner of our basement.  We have a table top wine rack now and our wine glasses are all in cabinets.  What to do?  Sell or Salvage? 
A quick text to the hubby and we agreed to sell it.  I posted it on the local Facebook page, but I didn't price it for a quick sell.  Hot commodities sell quickly on that page and after an hour, there were still no bites on my lonesome wine rack. 

Meanwhile, I checked Pinterest for ideas on how to repurpose the wine rack.  Most suggestions were to use the bottle holders to store guest towels.  Well, we could do that, but I didn't really want to store this in our guest bathroom.  I knew it would be ruined after a short period co-existing with my twin boys and their sloppy bathroom etiquette (ahem!).  I finally found a post that suggested using the bottle holders to store magazines.  Hmm, that might work should I move it to the family room. 

After some help from the hubby (the rack is very heavy), we found a new home for another salvaged item and I deleted the untouched Facebook sale post. 
Cozy corner home.
It adds a little oomph to the room. I know I need curtains and a new paint color.
Item 3: Candle Holder Wall Sconce
Image credit: hayneedle.com
I didn't think to take a "before" picture, so I am using this picture from the internet. The scroll work is the same as mine, but the candle holders are slightly different. I mention this because I may have another use for the glass candle holders themselves.

Anywho . . . this was really collecting dust in the basement.  I did use this a few times and it is pretty when lit, but I just wasn't into the candle holder part of it anymore.  I thought about selling it, but I really didn't want to.  I like the scroll pattern and I thought, if only I could remove the circular candle holder pieces, I could reuse it.

Well, I found a way to remove them (quite easily to my amazement) and decided to transform it into monogrammed wall art.  I still need to finalize the piece, so I will hold off on the "how to" post for a bit longer, but here is the semi-finished end result.
I cannot wait to finish and display.
Did I decide to sell anything??!!!  Yes, yes I did.  See, I told you I am not a hoarder.  The following items are either posted to be sold or have sold.  Feels good to make progress.  Yes, "progress", I have more work to do.
SOLD!