What is it about the warm weather that gets me all fired up for yard sales? The spring breeze, the birds chirping in the air, people’s used items all over their front lawn—ah, summer is coming!
Seriously though, yard sales are the best. I used to hate them and would hide in my room when my mom would host our annual yard sale. I thought the idea of selling your used goods to others was so embarrassing.
I started coming around to the idea of buying others’ used treasures when I was getting married and wanted a candy buffet and needed glass jars in excess. Going to yard sales is definitely a treasure hunt.
If you want to score some awesome buys at your local yard sales, here are 6 tips to help you win big!
1. Go with an open mind.
If you go to a yard sale with a detailed list of items you need, you are most likely going to go home disappointed and frustrated. You might have an idea of what you would like to get, but be open to the idea of browsing! Don’t stop looking if you initially don’t see what you want. This past weekend I was hoping to find my daughter some play clothes in the next few sizes, but ended up finding a West Bend Deluxe Bread and Dough Maker for $10, which is great since I make bread and dough frequently. Be willing to just look through the items for sale and you’ll never know what you will find.
2. Go frequently.
If you go to a yard sale once a summer you probably won’t find anything great. Pull out those newspapers, look on town websites and schedule out your weekends. Even if you just stop at a sale for 5 minutes, your odds of finding a deal increase drastically. I’m pretty sure that my grandma-in-law goes to every single yard sale in town all year long. BUT, she is always finding something amazing.
3. Find those neighborhood sales.
There are a few larger development neighborhoods in my town that host a yard sale all on the same day. These sales are definitely popular and very busy. Try to get to the sales right when they start and move quickly from sale to sale. I also try to start at a house near the end of the development in order to find the first deals. These yard sales are fun because you can typically walk from house to house which eliminates getting in and out of the car so much. I also think that the sellers put more effort into what they are selling because they know a lot of people will be attending the sales. There always seems to be higher quality items and more of a selection to choose from.
4. Look through the bins.
Why is it that at most yard sales people just put out bins of items instead of displaying them on tables? Don’t they realize that if people don’t see the items they probably won’t buy them? Lucky for you, most people don’t dig through the bins. Take your time and look through all of the items. There always seems to be a lucky buy at the bottom.
5. Make a deal.
If you are buying an item, try to negotiate the price down, within reason! Obviously if you are purchasing a shirt marked at $.25, it might just be tacky to get it for $.05. But if you have found a dresser for $50, try to offer them $35. Most people are just trying to get the items out of their house and will come down to the price you are offering. Don’t be too shy to ask. You can really get a great deal by just negotiating.
6. Know what you are buying.
Have you ever noticed that some sellers price their items crazy high? I think that they actually want to keep the items, but are trying to reason with themselves about doing so. Some items aren’t worth buying if they are over priced, broken without being able to be repaired, or too used or worn. I always take my cell phone with me so that if I find an item I am unsure about I can search it online to check other prices or deals. This has saved me from overspending quite a few times. I have also scored big by purchasing a valuable good for a low cost. Be smart about your buys.
Find those yard sales this summer and save some serious money! Keep me updated about your big wins.
I’ve had an obsession with painted pianos for a while. I think they are so modern and updated with such charm! But here’s where my obsession ends: actually going through the process of painting my piano.
Growing up, piano lessons were a requirement in my house. Once you entered the 2nd grade, the lessons started. I totally dreaded practicing and the 20 minutes on the timer seemed like hours. And the recitals–AH! In some of the home videos of the concerts you can see my hands shaking the entire time I am playing. But somewhere around the age of 17 my views of playing the piano drastically changed. I loved each minute of lessons and practice, and my fears of performing started to fade. My grandma always attended each recital and was such an encouragement through those times.
If I think about one of the best pianists, my grandma comes to mind. She never uses music and always plays from her heart. Even though she can’t remember what happened yesterday, she can remember every single recital song she ever played. It truly is remarkable. When I would be at her house and a song would come on the radio that she liked, she would say, “Missy, go and pick that out on the piano!” I would struggle to make my fingers match up with the tune, and she would come right over and play the entire song with ease. Why didn’t that skill get passed down to me? It is such a gift.
So fast forward a few years, my husband bought me a used, well loved piano, and it has been such a treasure in my house. Every day of my pregnancy I played the piano, and now my daughter is so fascinated with all music. Although I am so thankful to have this instrument in my house, I was never a fan of the color and the bench and legs are pretty worn. I have decided to paint my piano with a chalk paint, and I’m pretty sure if I told my grandma she would pass out. Her early 1900’s grand piano is beautiful and should never be painted. However, my few decades old spinet piano needs some TLC.
Here is a before photo of my piano:Once I finish the painting, I will be sure to update!
Have you ever used chalk paint? Any tips and tricks?
What is it about getting your hands and counters (and all other surfaces) covered with flour that is so rewarding? This weekend I made my grandma’s Italian Bread recipe and it was good for my soul. Although it is a simple recipe with minimal ingredients, it is a timely task. I had a few free hours on Sunday and decided to crack open the bread section in my grandma’s cookbook and knead out some stress.
Cup after cup of flour went into the whirring mixer and a beautiful dough emerged, ready to knead. This bread has to be kneaded four times with a resting period in between each. My grandma always laid out spoons on her counter to keep track of which kneading she was completing. Something so simple–yet so needed! I would have been lost without the spoons.
I popped the loaves in the oven and waited impatiently while the heavenly scent filled my house.
What I love about this recipe is that it makes four loaves of bread–plenty to share! After the bread came out of the oven, my husband and I delivered two warm loaves to our parents and took two loaves to our small group dinner.
Why is that the most basic of ingredients can brighten someone’s day? Growing up my grandma made bread all of the time. We loved getting the phone call that she had fresh bread waiting on her counter for us to come and get. We cherished each slice and anticipated the next loaf from her oven.
Even though bread making isn’t a dump and bake type recipe, I’m hoping to make it more often and share it with those around me.
Is there a recipe that you love to make and share with others?
Makes 4 loaves
8 cups flour (sometimes I mix whole wheat and white, like I did in the picture)
1 T. salt
3 T. sugar
3 T. cooking oil (I used vegetable)
2 pkg. dry yeast dissolved in 3 cups warm water
Mix salt, sugar and oil into yeast-water mixture. Start beating in flour until all 8 cups are used. Cover. Let rise 4 times, for 10 minutes each time. Punch down and knead each time. Once 40 minutes has passed and you have punched and kneaded every 10 minutes, divide the dough into 4 equal portions. Roll each portion with a rolling pin and roll up jelly-roll fashion. Place loaves on a greased cookie sheet, brush tops with oil, and cut diagonal lines on the top. Let rise for 1 hour. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes. This is optional, but I do brush the loaves with melted butter once they are done baking to keep them soft!
Here are the tools I love for baking this type of bread:
I’ll admit it. I am totally obsessed with cookbooks, and my collection is outgrowing the shelves on my bookshelves.
My family laughs when they see numerous cookbooks on my Christmas list. I love flipping through the pages of any style cookbook and reading the ingredient lists and looking at the final product pictures. I’ve been known to spend hours going through stacks of these recipe books, reading and detailing each page. Now, I hate to say it, but I will: sometimes I never make anything out of the cookbooks I have. EEK!
There’s just something total relaxing and heart warming about pouring over the books of collected recipes from different individuals who have spent so much time perfecting these dishes and probably even making them numerous times for their own families.
I DEFINITELY did not get this obsession from my grandma. She has a few cookbooks but really only made anything out of one. On the day of her wedding, her mother gave her a Better Homes and Gardens cookbook and it pretty much became her Bible. It scares me to turn the pages of this book because they are so fragile and well loved that they often disintegrate in your fingers. I’m pretty sure she has the majority of the recipes in this heavy cookbook memorized and perfected.
I’m trying to utilize my own cookbooks like my grandma did her Better Homes and Garden book. The cookbook I am starting to make multiple recipes out of is the Pioneer Woman’s latest, Dinnertime. I received this book from my in-laws, of course off my Christmas list.
If you have not checked out the Pioneer Woman’s blog, you definitely should. She is witty and practical and has SO many delicious (and easy) recipes. Her cookbooks are all beautifully laid out with pictures of each step of the recipe. She has personal notes about each dish and even great pairing recipes. I’ve made many of the dishes and my husband has enjoyed them all.
If you are looking for a new trusty standard cookbook to turn to or a gift for a dear friend, I 100% recommend this book. I know it will become a family favorite in your household.
My husband and I are pretty competitive, even if I don’t often admit it. This weekend we decided to have a bake-off and let the members of our small group decide the winner. My husband made a yummy fruit pizza with an array of fresh fruit toppings, and I went with my grandma’s simply delicious Wacky Cake.
My grandma states in her cookbook (how awesome is it that she complied our favorite recipes into a cookbook?) that she received this recipe from a recipe club she was a part of when her kids were little, and made it often. I remember making this cake with her so many times when I was young, and in fact, this was one of the first recipes I made by myself. It’s that simple!
This cake is a depression-era cake meaning no eggs or milk. I love that! You also make it in the baking pan–win for no bowl cleanup. My grandma added a powdered sugar icing on top when it was warm. Although you don’t have to ice this cake, please do. I gave the recipe to a friend for her bridal shower and she didn’t follow the icing instructions and iced it with a canned chocolate frosting. For the love of everything, do NOT ice with a canned frosting. Ick.
Here’s how it starts (don’t mind my fantastic photography skills):
You mix all of the dry ingredients together in an 8×8 baking pan.
Dig out three wells, one large, one medium and one small.
Add the wet ingredients into the different sized wells and pour on the cup of water and mix all together.Please note the flour mess. This is essential in baking. Who keeps a clean kitchen when baking, anyways?
Bake for the appropriate amount of time and it is finished!
BUT, my grandma always poured over the top a simple powdered sugar icing while it was hot and let it soak into the cake. DELICIOUS! I love the fact that you serve this cake warm and don’t have to wait for it to cool to ice.
Do me a favor and make this cake tonight! You definitely won’t regret your decision.
Oh, and I won the bake-off! It was a major hit. Me 1,584 1, Husband 1,584.
1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
3T. cocoa powder
1T. white vinegar
1 cup cold water
1t. baking soda
6T. vegetable oil
Preheat oven to 350°.
Into an un-greased 8×8 baking dish, mix together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, soda and salt.
Carve out three wells into the mixture. In the largest well pour the oil; medium well pour the vinegar; smallest well pour the vanilla.
Pour the cup of cold water over the top and stir until combined.
Bake for 25 minutes or until cooked through.
Quick Powdered Sugar Icing
2 cups powdered sugar
2 T. melted butter
milk–to make spreading consistency
Mix together the sugar, butter, vanilla and milk until well combined and smooth.
I can’t believe I am already starting to think about my baby’s first birthday! Whew, time flies. I might still have a month and a half to finish birthday party plans, but it seems that I am behind according to most of my friends, family and online resources.
Whenever I am in party planning mode, I think about my grandma. In her hay day, my grandma was the master party planner. In fact she still has the notebook documenting all of the parties she planned. This well-loved book is stuffed full of lists upon lists with neat little check marks noting completion of each to-do entry. I can remember some of those lists from the major holiday dinners she hosted at her house each year. She planned out each and every minute of the days leading up to the event. I laughed at the the fact that she would write 10:53AM, turn on oven. 10:57AM, put ham in oven. She was so precise and so intentional about every minute of her preparation that during the party she was able to be present and enjoy everyone’s company and what was happening around her.
But the best part of my grandma’s planning was that she was not fussy about the overall state of her home. She definitely followed a strict cleaning schedule each week, and her floors were immaculate, but she didn’t get upset if something was too out of order. When I spent my spring breaks with my dearest cousin with my grandparents at their Florida condo, she was always insistent on celebrating our birthdays with a party with their friends. She would invite them over for cake and coffee and we would always be talked into showing off our recent shopping trip purchases. In the 15 minutes before everyone arrived, my grandma shuffled around the condo fluffing a few pillows and happened to notice a few miscellaneous papers and items on the counter top. She looked at my cousin and me and said, “Girls, watch how to pick up quickly.” She scooped up all of the items and shoved them in the washing machine. I loved her stress-free attitude about life’s daily clutter.
As I plan out my daughter’s party, I see myself looking back to my grandma’s expertise. I hope to be organized enough that I can watch my baby light up when she sees her first candle on her first cake and watch those who love her light up when they see her smash her little hands into the icing. But, I hope to be relaxed enough to not worry about small details and willingly shove them in the washing machine out of sight.
As a Christian, aren’t we called to open our homes and tables and fellowship with others? I want to presently participate in those times of deep conversation and joy. I don’t want to miss those life-changing moments by worrying about the perfect linens or centerpieces or that there are toys all over my floor.
Will you join me in shoving life’s distractions and clutter in the washing machine?