Tuesday, May 28, 2013

European invasion

After months and months of planning, the day is finally here. We are headed to Europe, baby! Jason (aka The Mr.) went to Spain several years ago but Zachary (aka The Teen) and I have never flown over the Atlantic Ocean.

We fly from Louisville, KY, to Newark, NJ, and then on to Frankfurt, Germany. I will have no problem sleeping on the plane but Jason, who will be driving once we get to Deutschland, may be another story. I've brought toothpicks to prop his eyes open if necessary. Hey, driving while sleepy in a foreign country where the signs are in another language shouldn't be a problem, right?

We'll be visiting Germany most of the time. My dirndl and the guys' liederhosen are packed.

Ironically, we were at a somewhat-local German restaurant last weekend in celebration of Jason's grandparents' 60th wedding anniversary. It's called the Schnitzelbank, and it's about an hour away in Jasper, Indiana. I convinced my guys to try the sampler platter so we could get an idea of what some of our favorites or not-so-favorites might be when we get to Germany.

Who knows how authentic all the food was, but Zachary and I were all about the Schweineschnitzel (pork cutlet breaded and pan-fried), so we can't wait to try more!


You can expect lots and lots of photos in the next weeks. I'm warning you now! In addition to several cities in Germany, we'll make a day trip into the Salzburg, Austria, area, and then spend several days in Prauge, Czech Republic. I am totally stoked. Sorry, my checked bag is full, so I can't sneak you in. My cats already tried.

Have you been  to Germany, Austria, or Czech Republic before? If so, what were your favorite things to see or do? I've done tons of research, of course, but personal recommendations are always great. Got a favorite restaurant there? Pass it along!


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

3 Steps to a KICK BUTT Yard Sale

Yard sale season is upon us, so I thought I'd share some of my best tips for making lots of moolah with your own sale! Last month my son and I made a total of over $700 on our sale, and we didn't even have much in the way of big-ticket items. You can do it too!!!


Just when you think your pile of yard sale items is complete, think again! We all have things we live with that we don't truly love, right? Why not turn those "meh" items into cash you can use to buy something spectacular?! Seriously, I took artwork off walls, decorative accessories off shelves, clothes out of my closet, and holiday dishes out of my cabinets. Scour every room for things you really don't need or really don't like. It will be uncomfortable, but just remember the wad of cash you'll have to go shopping for new things afterward!

Challenge everyone else in the house to do the same with their own stuff. If you let your kids keep profits off items of theirs that sell, they will be more inclined to purge some of those old toys they no longer play with that are cluttering up the place.


Make sure you price every item. Shoppers don't want to ask you for a price every time they spot something they're mildly interested in. Believe me -- they'll move on rather than go through the hassle. For similar items you might have a lot of, like books, you can post a sign reading something like "Paperbacks $1, Hardbacks $3" if that's easier.

When pricing, be unbiased and focus on what a buyer might pay for it. Try to find that sweet spot that nets you the most money, while still letting shoppers feel like they got a good deal. A good rule of thumb is 10% of the original price, but consider the condition of the item and how current it is. I don't care if you paid $75 for those Guess acid-wash in 1987. Nobody is going to pay $7.50 for them today. Unless they are shooting a period film.

On the flip side, don't sell yourself short. I was surprised how much some of my son's SpongeBob and Star Wars Lego sets are worth, and even some of his Nerf guns. Do some research on Ebay for anything that might be collectible. If you see the same item sold recently for $30 on Ebay, price it at $20 in your yard sale. If it sells, you've saved the effort and fees for putting it on Ebay. If not, you know Ebay is a back-up option. This goes for some electronics too.

Now back to my tip about being ruthless in your purging. If there's something you're not sure about parting with, price it for what you would be happy to sell it for. Maybe it's a beautiful ceramic pitcher that you adored in your "I collect ceramic pitchers and display them above my kitchen cabinets and everywhere else I can think of" phase. (Not speaking from personal experience or anything.) Sure, the pitcher is still pretty, but maybe it doesn't quite ift with your current decorating style. Instead of giving it a rock-bottom-priced-to-move price, mark it at what would make you feel okay with parting with it. If it sells, awesome. If not, you can hold on to it for a little while longer. But do this sparingly, otherwise you're going to be hauling a lot of unsold items back into your house at the end of the day!


Picture the displays at your favorite stores. Isn't it more pleasant to shop where things are organized? If you make it easier for customers to shop, they're more likely to find things to buy, rather than passing up a table full of un-sorted junk. Put like items together -- electronics in one area, kitchen stuff in another, etc.

Clothes sell better when hung, because even if you have them neatly stacked at the start of the sale, once people start picking them up and looking at them, your neat stacks will turn into a hot mess in no time. We use a long metal rod hung across one of our open garage doors. If you have a clothing rack, that's great. Or you can even hang clothes from the spreaders on the side of a tall ladder. Another clothes tip - if it's hard to find the size tag, mark it on the price sticker so people don't have to search.

One great way to entice people into your sale is to display large items closest to the curb. Frequent yard sale shoppers often just do a quick drive-by and if they don't see anything of interest right away, they move on to the next place. Popular items like furniture, bikes, and large baby or kid items are great for this.


Successful yard sales do take effort to put together, but the rewards include less clutter in your house and more money in your pocket! For more suggestions, see my post 10 tips for hosting a successful yard sale.

Got any other tips to share? Leave me a comment!


Sunday, May 19, 2013

Cats enjoying the spring weather

You occasionally see cat heads or behinds in my room photos if you look closely, but I don't think I've ever introduced all of my furry friends to you. They are inside cats, but occasionally we allow them to explore outside for a little while. Recently they were enjoying a nice sunny day, and I had to snap some pics.





They are the most high-maintenance cats I know, but their cuteness can't be denied. And they are very snuggly. You can't beat a snuggly cat to calm you down and lift your mood. That is ... unless you need to get up to go to the bathroom ... or to eat ... or because you can't reach the remote ... or your phone is ringing and you can't reach it. The things we do to to keep our snuggly cats comfortable!

Are you a pet person too? If I weren't married, I would most definitely be a crazy cat lady.


Thursday, May 2, 2013

Gloss blue nightstand using oil-based paint

Well, hello there, friends! I have been vacation planning day and night, but decided it was time to pull myself away for a few minutes to share a recent project with you.

I've painted quite a few pieces of furniture, but in the past I've always stuck with latex paint because it's easy to clean up. I usually use my Wagner paint sprayer, but a couple times I've gone the foam roller route. I've been wanting to try oil-based paint because I know the finish is hard-wearing. And since it takes longer to dry than latex, when brushing on the paint, it typically leaves fewer brush marks because it has more time for the paint to settle.

This is my inaugural oil-based paint with a brush project. And I'm pleased with how it turned out!

Yep, it's the same table, just two different angles and styled differently.

We were handed down an oak bedroom suite that my father-in-law used years ago, then my husband used as a teen. It included a dresser, two twin beds and a nightstand. It worked great in my son's room because a friend spending the night could sleep in the second bed. As Zachary got older, he wanted a bigger bed, so we did a furniture switcheroo.

That left the oak bedroom suite open for other uses. As I've mentioned before, I'm not a fan of a bedroom suite anyway. It's much more appealing to use furniture pieces that have been gathered from here and there.

I showed you last summer my whitewashed nightstand-turned-side table. Remember, I never intended to leave it whitewashed because it's not really my style, but it did sort of fit my former coastal theme. Remember too that the "whitewashing" was really just a coat of primer that I had painted and never covered with a real coat of paint!

For a while I used the table just inside my front door, but it was too short for the space and never quite looked right.

I've been wanting to try Rustoleum's ready-made oil-based paints that Jenny raves over, and those this little table would be a perfect guinea pig. Because I can never get enough blue, I decided to try Rustoleum Gloss Royal Blue.

Working with oil-based paint is a bit tricky because you can't just rinse out brushes or rollers with water. I purchased an inexpensive 2" brush that I didn't mind throwing away, but I also purchased a bottle of
Klean-Strip 1 qt. Green Odorless Mineral Spirits to clean my brush in between coats.

Other than the cleaning factor, the oil-based paint was easy to use. It's not for quick jobs that need more than one coat because it takes about 24 hours to dry before a second coat can go on. But oil is great for pieces that are going to get a bit more wear, because it's a tougher finish. (That's why most trim work in houses is oil-based rather than latex.)

Which knobs do you like best? The colorful ceramics on the left, or the brushed nickel modern style on the right?

This is the first piece of furniture that I painted with the intention to sell it. There are still about 10 pieces waiting in queue in my basement, but who knows when I'll get to them. I did set this table out at my yard sale in April and it had quite few admirers, but most yard sale shoppers want yard sale prices, not makeover prices! When I get more pieces done, I'll investigate getting a booth at a monthly local flea market.

Oh, and I finally found a piece of furniture that works better just inside my entry. It's ... tall .... and more my style ... and was a total bargain. I'll be sharing that with you soon.

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