Hooking You Up: Awesome and Affordable Lingerie

I love lingerie. I really, really love lingerie. I love all types of lingerie from the classy to the trashy. I think lingerie is the single easiest thing a woman can change in her wardrobe and completely change her mood. And you ladies that are single and not even interested in finding someone special? You are not exempt from this! Lingerie isn’t about your significant other, it’s about you.

With Halloween, the holidays, and New Year’s Eve, there’s no better time to really revamp your lingerie wardrobe and even try something new. So a while back, when I was determined to own a steel boned corset, I found the most amazing lingerie site ever– Oh Cheri. Before I say another word, I want to say something– Oh Cheri didn’t reach out to me about writing for you guys. I love them and wanted to recommend them to you guys.

This store has three key features to an awesome online shopping experience– huge selection across a huge array of sizes, cheap prices (often the cheapest anywhere), and FREE shipping in the US with no minimum purchase.

Can we take a moment and “window” shop? Don’t be freaked out or anything, I’ll keep it tame. Oh and all of these items are under $20.

And ok this is definitely not under $20 but it’s one of my favorite things on their site and I covet it deeply. Come covet with me.

Yeah. Sooooooo pretty.

By the way, I reached out to Oh Cheri and let them know I was going to blog about them because of how much I love their site. And you know what? They offered a discount for you guys– my readers. So go online and do some sexy shopping for you, your friends, and hey even family. Or pass this along to someone who may be shopping for you! Just make sure when it’s time to checkout, you enter the code MUTANT and get 10% off your order.


REALLY good Julep deal & Shopping Spree Total

For everyone curious to know how much I spent at my 12 item Express shopping spree…


That means on average, I spent $20.40 per item. I don’t think that’s pretty shabby considering the kinds of clothes I got. And now I’ll just wear them until death does us part.

Speaking of deals, I’ve got a good one for you. Julep is offering the introductory box for their Maven Subscription program for one penny and that comes with free shipping. This month’s intro box comes with two polishes and a pedicure cream.

How do you get it? Easy peasy.

Step One: GO HERE

Step Two: Take the fun and frivolous Style Quiz, enter you email to find out your Style Personality, and see the box they’d send you. You can also go ahead and check out the boxes of the other styles and if you like one of those better, you can grab that one instead. In my case, it pegged me as an American Beauty but I was all about the Bombshell. So I added Bombshell to my cart and removed American Beauty.

Step Three: Sign up and check out.

When you’re done, you are now a part of the Julep Maven Subscription Program. And honestly? It’s a pretty good one. The way it works is like this.

On the 20th of every month they send you an email showing you your next box. By default they show you the style of the intro box you ended up with. If you love it, you do nothing. They charge your credit card on file $19.99 and send you your box.

If you don’t LOVE it,  you can log in and see the other styles. They even link you to a post on their blog that shows the colors for each box on nails. Next month includes a lip gloss and they took pictures of a girl wearing each color too. I really appreciate this because I feel like it’s full-disclosure and they’re not trying to pull a fast one.

So once you’ve checked out the other styles you can:

1. Choose a different style to send your way. This style will be your default next month.

2. Choose any of the styles and send it to a friend or family member as a gift. I love this for birthdays or other special occasions.

3. Skip the month. That’s right, you don’t have to buy the box every month. You don’t like it, you don’t have a friend who deserves it, or you’re just plain broke that month, you skip.

Of course you can always cancel the subscription and stay happy with your one cent intro box but if you like treating yourself now and then, I think it’s worth keeping it. Occasionally, they throw in a free polish. They also offer subscribers a chance to get mystery boxes– $60 or more worth of products for $19.99. I mentioned I had purchased one of these boxes and I received it the other day.

My Pretty Julep June Mystery Box Packaging

My Julep June Mystery Box Contents

My Mystery Box came with:

Julep Elixir Organic Oil, $24

Facial for Hands Glycolic Hand Scrub, $32

Glow on Age Defying Hand Brightener, $32

Megan, $14

Brooke, $14

And a free Julep.com nail file. Retail value of my $19.99 box? $116.

Not too bad huh?

Honestly, at first I was sort of blank about it. I really didn’t know what to make of the box because three of the six items were totally alien to me. But now that I’ve had it a few days and have been using the products, I’m really happy with it. One of the things I’ve been discovering through my De-Frumpiness Project is how luxurious some really small little things can feel.

Do I feel completely fancy washing my hands with a glycolic hand scrub and then rubbing in an age defying hand brightener? Why yes, yes I do. And by the way, the hand brightener feels and smells so nice. Is there something slightly decadent about dropping oil into my hands from a glass bottle with a glass dropper? Um, yeah. Definitely. For me at least.

You have to understand, I’m the girl that recently rediscovered how yummy it is to apply good facial moisturizer ok?

I don’t have a complicated beauty regimen. I’m not even really sure that I have an actual regimen. But yes I am definitely enjoying the couple of minutes every day where I indulge in myself. My nails are chipped? Time to change the manicure! It’s summer, so I absolutely can’t leave without my facial moisturizer with SPF. Floss! Scrub my hands. Nourish my cuticles! Go into fitting rooms!

Slowing down. I’m actually slowing down. These little things are little pauses. Little only for me and only about me pauses. And they’re nice.



Beauty on a Budget

As much as I have tried to keep my De-Frumpiness Project from deeply impacting my wallet, not spending in this department has been impossible. And you know what? That’s the frickin point.

There are so many ways we put ourselves on the back-burner and spending on other things is definitely the easiest for many of us. In my case, I will justify the purchase of clothing and shoes for my kids when theirs shows wear or is ill-fitting or I just find a really good deal. Not so much for me.

I have found great deals on all sorts of things this year, and even with the De-Frumpiness Project, I have more often than not left the item on the shelf or rack muttering something about not having money right now and then spending the money I don’t have on something else for someone else.

The past couple of months I’ve been forcing that to change. It doesn’t always feel as great as it sounds like it would. Yes, you would think I’d be all excited by the idea of giving myself permission to spend on myself but I just don’t. I stress and moan, “But what about the children?”

Lately I’ve been a bit tough on that whiny part of me and have rebuked her with a sharp, “The children have more than plenty and they don’t even take care of it properly!” Which is kind of true. Ok fine, it’s a lot true. My kids are really lucky because they are part of a very big family that lives in the same city as they do. The very big family is of Cuban heritage mostly and is therefore quite fond of gifts for children. We’re the type of culture that firmly believes if you can’t afford gifts for everyone, at least make sure you get the children gifts. Always, the children.

So my children are inundated. They get clothes and toys and toys and more toys and clothes. Do they get all the clothes they need? No. They don’t get shoes for instance or underwear or socks. But they get a lot of the other stuff– shirts and shorts and skirts and dresses and on and on.

The point is, the kids get a lot more gifts than I do. And that is awesome. That is totally fine. That is the way it should be. BUT that is also the fact I have to remind myself of when I’m talking myself out of buying something for myself that is 1) a great deal, 2) that I can afford at that moment in time and 3) that fills a gap in my diminishing wardrobe. Well, mentally it’s diminishing. I’m having a hard time physically purging my closet this year but that’s another roller coaster post waiting to happen.

Anyhow, here are a few things I have been spending on lately and how I’ve been doing just that.

Clothes: I keep trying Goodwill and keep getting mixed results. Ok, honestly? I don’t find much for me. First of all, the Goodwill by my house is huge in an overwhelming way. It attempts to be organized, but let’s face it, it’s Goodwill. It’s not organized. I just don’t have much shopping time and the past couple of months, I’ve had even less as the kids have been spending more and more Wednesdays and weekends with me instead of their dad (also another post). When I’ve gone and browsed, I’ve found a lot of things that look good until I pull them out and take a look at them. They are the wrong size, stained, faded, or just not what I thought they were when I saw them on the hanger. Repeatedly having this happen to me is insanely discouraging. And when I have found something that is the right size, is not faded, is a good brand, it’s about a couple dollars less than I’d pay for it at a store like Ross.

That doesn’t mean I’ve been striking out in the clothes department completely. I’ve actually scored some major hits– at Ross and Marshalls. Surprisingly, moreso at Ross than Marshalls but I had a great haul last weekend so I can’t complain about Marshalls too much. Although I will complain a little bit. When did Marshalls get so expensive? I was strolling through their shoe section and OUCH. I couldn’t find a nice pair of shoes for under $40.

While Marshalls kills Ross in selection, organization, and brands it’s just not that great in the dollar aspect and that is way more important to me right now than anything else. Why? As much as I am mentally in a hurry to get my wardrobe revamped already, I’m not monetarily in a hurry to do so. I’m not even monetarily able actually. So I have time. I have time to go to the Ross by my house (closer than the nearest Marshalls too and with less nerve-wracking parking than the cramped garage the Marshalls is housed in). I have time to wander the clearance racks. I have time to wander the other racks. I have time to try things on. I have time to not take anything because none of it fits me right. And although that IS slightly depressing I am really tired of not looking quite right in my clothes.

This has actually been my savior. My shape has changed a lot in the past year and a half. While this has wreaked havoc on my wardrobe and my options at home, it has really slowed down my shopping. Before, I used to have the type of shape that was pretty standard for a size Small. Ok so not everything fit perfectly but more often than not things fit the way I expected them to.

Not so anymore. And so this means I force myself into the dressing room every single time no matter what the item is. I never used to use fitting rooms, that’s how standard I was. Fitting rooms slow me down. And fitting rooms make me really question and inspect my prospective purchases. So while my wardrobe overhaul is not going as smoothly or as quickly as I’d want it to, I’m more pleased with where it’s going.

Beauty Products: It is all about the drug store sales. Well, it’s mostly about the drug store sales. It’s almost entirely about the drug store sales. If you haven’t figured this out yet, and you really do enjoy the occasional new lipstick, nail polish, eye shadow, whatever, it’s high time you got on this.

For me, CVS is king. Their coupon policy is easy-peasy. Their ExtraCare Bucks are generous. Their Beauty Club makes it even more generous. The fact they’re all over the place makes them easy to access and you can even shop multiple ones in the same day. I learned all about CVS at Southern Savers. Yes, coupons make CVSing even more rewarding but you can get by without them. You’re just not going to save as much money.

This week alone you can score free facial care products, free deodorant, and free floss (perfect for June’s De-Frumpiness project). You can also get a pretty good deal on razors, face wash, and makeup.

The thing with CVS is patience. Stick to the sales and you’ll be a-ok. Also, don’t be afraid to use their return policy. I had a makeup shopping spree a couple of months ago during a particularly good sale week and bought a powder that was supposed to shimmer. I got home and realized what I got was not what was listed on the rack it was in. The packaging on the products was identical despite the fact they had four different finishes. More than a month later, I finally got the chance to go back to CVS with the product and receipt and was able to exchange it for the right one– even with the first product already being open and used. In other words, be unafraid to purchase makeup you can’t try. If, when you get home, the shade makes you look freshly dead, exchange it for a different shade. Easy!

Walgreens is also quite popular with the savings crowd. I can’t suggest them as strongly as I can CVS because they have so many stupid rules and restrictions with their Register Rewards and coupons it’s a true labor to get things done. My suggestion? Don’t put Walgreens on the list of places you regularly shop at but DO make sure you check out their ad if you find you have to go there for whatever reason (prescription, ATM, medicine, etc.). I had to go to my Walgreens last night for their ATM (ING Direct-friendly!), checked their ad real quick and found they have a deal on Goody hair accessories this week– $2 in Register Rewards when you buy certain $2 hair accessories. That means free hair accessories– IF I have to buy something from Walgreens by June 21st. Turns out I do need some saline drops that never go on sale.So I’m wearing my cute little headband today and in the next few days I’ll go by and pick up the saline drops. Free hair stuff!

Of course, it’s also about keeping an eye out. I ventured into Sally Beauty Supply the other day in search of nail tip guides to find they are having a pretty big sale this month which includes a lot of Buy 1 Get 1 Free deals– even on nail art items (currently a thing). I’d honestly never been much of a Sally girl but rest assured I’ll be checking in on their ads more often now. They have lots of specialty items there you just can’t get at CVS and they’re not afraid to mark them down.

Lastly, there’s the internet. Today I purchased the June Mystery Box from Julep. Julep is a nail care company and every now and then they offer mystery boxes for $60. Each mystery box includes anywhere from $60 to $200 worth of merchandise. This month, you can get a limited edition mystery nail color OR the entire collection of Julep nail polish. Um yeah that’s pretty amazing right? But $60? Ouch. Well, use the code JUNEMYSTERY and your box is $19.99 with free shipping. I indulged. It’s $19.99. I wouldn’t hesitate to spend $19.99 on my kids. Each of Julep’s nail polishes go for $14 each and the mystery boxes include at least three of them from what I’ve seen in previous month’s reveals. Julep is a beauty company to watch. They have a nail polish subscription as well and they occasionally offer the chance to try a box for a penny. I’ve always talked myself out of trying it but next time I won’t, especially if the Mystery Box doesn’t disappoint.

Beauty boxes are very popular right now. I keep seeing mentions of them all over the place. Julep’s the only one though that seems to be willing to offer great deals. I’ve heard great deals on Glossybox but a $21 monthly subscription is out of the question. I might buy myself one month’s box for my birthday in August to try it out and then, if it’s as good as I’ve been seeing I’ll probably use Tinsel’s guts towards the purchase of another one in December or January. The value of the box’s contents tend to be much higher than the $21 so it’s worth it if the money is set aside for it. Definitely a great Treat Yo Self type of purchase, eh Nikki?

So there you have it. Some of the ways I’ve been spending on myself this year. I wish I could say spending and not stressing but it’s just not true. I still have issues spending on myself and I wonder if in a way I always will. I didn’t have this problem when I was single (no kids, no nobody) but as soon as the loves of my life started making appearances, this went out the window and what was once a fun thing to do turned into a guilt-ridden experience.

What about you? Do you like spending on yourself? What about on things that are outside the Needs Zone but not in the Communal Wants Zone? Things only you want that no one else would really enjoy?

Window Shopping

First things first, I had a lovely weekend but it had its price and that is Total Exhaustion.

I bombed the final. I walked in there and realized I left my calculator at work and then I proceeded to blank out. I left 6 questions blank (no multiple choice) of the 25. I was doubtful on a few more. So yeah. That sucked.

But I got in the car I had my little cry and then I went shopping. Didn’t do too badly. I bought a dress for the Communion the next day and Daughter some sandals that fit her for her dress and I bought myself a beautiful purse. I spent about $60 total so I’m pleased as punch.

Communion was beautiful and emotional and my little one looked so big and grown up in his navy blazer and white linen pants. The Ex was there with his girl and his side of the family. And I was fine. I had a huge smile on my face because I was one proud mama and there was nothing they could do to take it off. I even took a photo with Eldest and Ex since the photographer offered. My mom had a really nice brunch waiting for us with a gorgeous cake and I would love to share photos but the camera is at home and I haven’t uploaded anything yet. There is a super cute shot of Eldest and me that I adore. I’d love to blow it up.

Sunday we went to the ice skating rink for a birthday party and that really made me sore and exhausted.

Now it’s Monday. And I have found out my division did NO layoffs on Friday. Unfortunately, it was not because our division is to be unaffected, but because Those Who Are in Charge were given an extension to modify the list of people to be cut or something like that. So back in limbo. The difference is this time I truly don’t care. People are really angry about the way they’ve handled things and I was too but not anymore. Now I’m just too tired and burnt out and I’m so worn out mentally that I don’t even care my life is on pause, I actually welcome it as a breather.

Anyways, my little shopping trip did give me a case of the wanties so I thought I’d have fun with it and window shop. Make it my Top Ten Wanties List in case someone is clueless for Mother’s Day but mostly because I want to and it can be fun.

Top Ten Mutant Supermodel Wants

  1. Vogue Knitting 2012 Crochet— It comes out tomorrow, it’s $7 and it’s chock full of gorgeous projects.
  2. Betsey Johnson or Betseyville– First of all, never ever anything full-price from her please. The purse I bought myself was actually a Betseyville purse but I got it at Ross so I paid nowhere near retail. As much as I love Betsey, I’ll leave it to other girls to pay her retail prices. I’ve seen her jewelry marked down at places like Nordstrom Rack. Betseyville purses are always to be found in Marshalls and Ross. And lots of her other stuff can be found in those stores too. Her shoes usually end up in DSW or something like that. I’ve even seen her clothes at Marshalls, the pajamas and undies at least.
  3. Shoes— I need shoes in the worst way– especially the basics. I love some good old fashioned pumps, closed toe or peep toe at most. Anything bigger and I feel like my toes are sprawling out over the edge and it’s gross. But I also like flats and would like more of them– especially the ballet style. When I say the ballet ones I mean the ones with the elastic all around the opening of the shoe that you can scrunch up the shoe and stuff. Love those. The other ones almost always end up hurting me.
  4. Hair Stuff— I would love some hair stuff. Clips, barrettes, pins, combsbands, whatever. I find myself leaning more towards romantic styles like pin-up, flapper, or bohemian. The girlier the better really.
  5. Lush— Freaking Lush. I miss Lush so much. It’s one of the first things that went out the window when the money evaporated. I used to indulge in something from Lush every once in a while. Now I can’t even remember the last time I reveled in their yummy bath stuff. When I was really into them, the main product I would buy was the bath bombs. Something about those products, and other bath products really, just make me want to be sure I set aside time for a bath. When I got super frugal and stopped buying myself the bath stuff, I stopped taking baths too. Showers only. That is so not like me. Whether it was a bubble bath or salts or oil, I would draw myself an amazing bath all the time and melt into it with a book (or even knitting swear to god) after the kids were in bed. Of course, I’m not a bath elitist. I don’t really care if it’s from Lush or not, if it’s a bath product I’m super happy. It’s just that Lush is for me the ultimate in luxurious bath time spoilification. And since this is a top ten not mediocre ten, there you go.
  6. Jewelry Holder(s)— The last time I had a legitimate jewelry holder it was the bright red jewelry box the thieves easily snagged off my dresser and took with them a few years ago. Bastards. Now I know better and keep my good stuff carefully hidden all over the place. But the thieves were smart and they left behind pretty much everything that was costume. And since I don’t have much money, most of the jewelry I have gotten since the robbery has been costume as well. This means, I have a lot of costume jewelry. It’s mostly thrown in a drawer. I also have some of it in a tea tin, some more in a little glass container that I think is meant for cotton swabs or something, and strewn on the dresser. So a cute jewelry holder thingy, or three, would be great. And you know what? I have seen so many adorable versions of this sort of thing, I’m not linking to any examples because I’ve thought they were all adorable.
  7. Tops— When I changed sizes, the first thing that had to go was pants. Pants were downright painful to wear because they were too small. When I’ve shrunk in sizes, they’re embarrassing to wear because they’re too big and slip down all the time. But the one thing I cling to for dear life is tops. What a mistake. Not that long ago I finally caved and bought a few tops in my new size, a medium, and was astonished. They looked so pretty! Well at least the more adult tops, the bigger ones. The tighter cut t-shirts need to be a large. For t-shirts I like the funny and cute graphic ones more than your typical plain tee. Bonus points if it’s nerdy or geeky or whatever. And despite the fact I bought a few tops, it was five and five tops isn’t enough. So I would love to move away from my too small stuff and into my more flattering bigger stuff. That’d be great.
  8. Frames— I love art, I really do. I have some artwork and photographs stashed in my storage closet waiting for frames. I even have enough kid-friendly art to make them an entire kid art wall in the play room. But I need frames. In all sizes, even those funky ones like 10 x 14 or 11 x 17. I even need a big movie poster frame for this great Curious George poster I have. So yes, frames. Frames would be fabulous. I don’t care about style or color because I mix it all up anyways.
  9. Accessories— I had a lot of fun this year with the Accessories Month in the De-Frumpiness Project because it really took me out of my comfort rut zone. So I’m totally open to accessories of all sorts. Scarves, pins, bracelets, necklaces, whatever. I would also tie in make up and nail stuff into here because to me, it’s the whole package. You know those Sally Hansen Nail Polish strips? I’d love to try them. All that kind of stuff is awesome to me. Heck I even need makeup brushes in a bad, bad way. What can I say? This happens when you neglect yourself for years.
  10. Crochet Stuff— I really do love to crochet and it’s something I intend to hang on to forever. I love the portability of it and the neatness of it when it’s in progress. I love the finished products. I love the flexibility. I just really love to do it. With crochet, all you need is a hook and some yarn. I’m not picky about the types of yarns. I can always use more hooks. All sizes, all types. I’m happy and carefree that way. And of course there’s extra fun stuff in crochet like crochet hook cases. And there are some great crochet books too, in addition to that amazing Crochet magazine issue up there at the top spot.

So there we have it. I hope you had fun window shopping. It’s so fun to just look at pretty stuff some times. What are your Top Three Wanties right now?

Christmas Shopping: The Update

I’m trudging. But it’s not a bad thing. I feel like I should clarify because for some reason, trudging has a negative connotation in my mind. Can’t trudging be a good thing some times?

Sorry, back to the point.

My budget? It. Is. Working?

Remember how I wrote about the gift guilt complex? Well, so far I’m handling it pretty well!

I went ahead and wrote out my list with the budgeted amount next to each name. And then I put it in my purse. It is always with me. So if I see something and it reminds me of a certain someone, I can do a quick check on my list and see if it’s in my budget. There are 41 items on my budget, by the way. That’s why the need for a portable list exists in my case.

I’ve completed 28 of the 41. And actually, I’ve gone over budget on several of them.

But I’ve also come under budget on many others. And this is the important part for me. Because I am rewiring the system this year and I’m not even stressing it.

Yes, I love the people on my Christmas list. I really would love to do good things for them and give them lots of great stuff I know they’d enjoy or they need or whatever. I really would because that’s the kind of thing that I enjoy doing.

But I’m getting better to accepting there are limits to generosity because at the end of the day, bills have to get paid. Like the $542 auto repair bill I got this morning. And the rent. And the groceries. And the prescriptions.

I used to think really specific budgets were crappy for me. Now I’m back to wondering if maybe I should re-think this. I’ve been putting time into my 2012 annual budget. Usually I end up tinkering with different months, raising this and lowering that. But this year, I’d like to make it as uniform and seamless as I possibly can. I want to set it up and just let it do its thing.

And believe it or not, part of that is making me consider envelopes. Again. I don’t know. The Christmas thing has worked out well for me but it’s not like I had the funds for each person set aside in envelopes. I just had them written on a sheet of paper. I updated it constantly to show how much I had left for a particular person or how much I blew it by.

I do track my spending on Excel but maybe this is something I need to think about– the visibility factor. The quick check-in. Maybe I need something old skool for my purse? Thoughts?

Oh regarding Tinsel, he’ll meet his demise on December 31st. I made this decision for a few reasons. One, my next influx of money isn’t until December 17 and I fear if I open him up earlier I’ll be too tempted to use him to make ends meet or to buy other people’s presents and then, poof, bye bye Tinsel. Two, I am going on my first actual big road trip with the kids December 26. Again, I’m afraid I’ll be too tempted to use him frivolously on the trip or to supplement trip expenditures.  That’s not the purpose of Tinsel so I’m going to get all Cuban with it. I’ll empty him out on the 31st and treat myself with a gift for Three Kings Day. Plus that means I can start saving up all year again for my very own Treat Yo Self Day (thank you Niki a million times for that one)!

Are you done with your shopping yet? Have you started? Did you start and hit a snag? Did you think about starting and then thought some more? Did you start and are just trudging right through?

Garage Sale Recap

It's TRUE!

There are so many ways to say it, and so many things to apply the concept to but you really have to clear the old to make room for the new. Change is such an inherent aspect of being human.

It seems having a garage sale is, for me, a great way to flush out my life and invigorate it with newness.

I don’t have garage sales often. And honestly, I strongly dislike prepping for them and actually doing them is a major strain on me as well for a number of reasons in a number of ways. But it just so happens both times I’ve done a garage sale have resulted in so much good coming out of them, they’ve been deemed Totally Worth It.

My first garage sale I did the year before last. And maybe a garage sale every other year is a good thing for me. Just enough time to accumulate enough stuff to make it worth the agony perhaps.

Yesterday was my second garage sale. I’ve been working on it for days. I’m pretty detail-oriented when it comes to garage sales and I always feel like I just don’t have enough time. This time, I felt way more prepared than the last time but it was still pretty taxing.

We cut the string and opened just after 9:00 AM. In my city, there’s a regulation that forbids beginning the garage sale earlier. But we had a ton of stuff and so we roped off the driveway while we set up. Some people were not amused and a couple were extremely pushy but thankfully I had a couple of friends who made awesome bouncers too. When we were (mostly) ready, we got going. The vast majority of the little to mid-size things went really fast, probably in the first couple of hours.

Those are the most tedious to deal with but my friend, The FacePainter, was on-hand and she was awesome. She loves garage sales and just knew what to do and how to make it work really smooth. I think most of the transactions that included the small things were handled by her.

The bigger items, furniture, went in the afternoon. And it almost all went.

Best part of the day, maybe even week?

A woman pulled up and was eying my dining room set. “How much for the dining table?” she asked. “Twenty bucks,” I said, “with the chairs.” She started crying and hugged me. She thanked me and told me I had no idea what I was doing for her. She then spotted a sofa I had in the back. “How much is the sofa?” she asked. “Also twenty bucks,” I said. The smile on her face was SO bright. I told her she could have both for $35 but she said no way and paid the full amount.

She ended up telling me the super brief version of her story. It was something along the lines of her being sick for a very long time, being unable to work consistently for years, and everything in her house becoming severely neglected as a result. The stuff she was buying from me was stuff that was her taste and that she could actually afford. She was so happy. She also ended up buying a nightstand for $5 and some clothes we were selling at a quarter each. She bought a couple of items for her granddaughter who was with her too and some of the avocados I had picked that day.

That’s the thing I like about garage sales. I was glad things I was letting go of were able to help her, to make her feel better. It’s amazing when you see the ripple of effect of charity or good deeds.

There’s a reason I was selling my dining set and for as cheap as $20.

On Saturday, I got a phone call from my Aunt. I had told her I was having the garage sale because in purging my closet to the bare bones, I found a bunch of clothes that I had barely worn which were way too small for me but would likely fit my goddaughter (who funny enough had just donated a bunch of shoes to me not that long ago). She was super excited about my having a garage sale because she was de-cluttering as well. She wanted to donate the items to me but she wanted to know if I was allowed to sell furniture at my garage sale. Of course I was.

Well, in that case, she wanted to know if we could think of a way to get her dining set to me because they wanted to change. They’d had it for years and they hardly ever used it because they had it set as the formal dining room and was too out of the way.

I told my aunt that yes my garage sale allowed furniture to be sold but if she was just going to give it to me to sell so I could have the money, I was going to keep it for myself. I told her to send me a picture because I wanted to be sure I was thinking of the right dining set and that I hadn’t confused it with something I had seen somewhere else. Sure enough, this is the picture that arrived in my inbox. Note: This is the dining room in her house, not mine!

It includes the table, the chairs, and the buffet. I love it. It’s so beautiful. And there’s no way I could afford a set like that any time soon. Just no way. The set I had was a $150 bargain from IKEA that I built all by myself. It was nice and modern looking but it was showing signs of wear. And that was fine, because I have kids and I know that’s just what they do, but this was too wonderful to pass up on. My uncle decided since I was going to keep it, he’d arrange one of his delivery guys to bring it to the house for me some time this week.

And that’s the way I ended up being able to sell my dining set to this woman who was so very grateful for the chance to improve her situation as well. Ironically, the sofa she bought was the same sofa my Aunt had donated to my Grandmother who then donated to me when I was between couches a couple of years ago. Good deeds lead to more good deeds somehow some way.

Clearing out the old summons in the new.

A new (to me) dining set isn’t the only stuff I received in the course of the garage sale. Funny enough, I cleaned out two closets: Eldest’s and my own. My friend brought a bunch of clothes to the garage sale– clothes from her sister and clothes from her boyfriend’s co-worker. The sister has a son slightly older than Eldest so I found heaps of clothes in Eldest’s size and a lot of it perfect for a Miami winter. I couldn’t believe it! And her boyfriend’s co-worker is a shopaholic who apparently runs the gamut in sizes because there was everything in there from size 0 to size 8. I’m in the size 6 to 8 part of the spectrum these days which was my closet was empty and depressed.

Not anymore! I got a gorgeous wool coat, some beautifully tailored suit jackets, a couple of great dresses, a beautiful top that is perfect for New Year’s, and sweaters (which I had purged very rigorously).

And I was able to keep the good vibes going forward. I found an absolutely stunning 100% silk blouse that I just knew was my grandmother’s style. I had her try it on and she loved it. She was so excited about her little garage sale gift.

We also got a free TV from the Boyfriend who moved in this week. It just became too difficult for him to continue paying rent and child support and car insurance and other bills on unemployment. So he’s with us until his situation improves. The TV is in the kids’ newly cleaned out and reorganized play room. They’re going to flip out when they see it today.

When everything was done, I counted out the money. I made $334.75. I dumped the $1.75 that was in quarters into Tinsel the Christmas Pig, put $4 into the Worlds Finest Chocolate envelope since we sold some of those, put $24 aside for field trip money, and was left with $305.

I promptly found a Christmas themed container and dumped it in there properly jump-starting my Christmas shopping fund.

I don’t think of myself as a Garage Sale Guru but I will tell you the Top Three things that worked for me:

  1. Price everything clearly. I found a pack of neon color dots at Walgreen’s that, paired with a black Sharpie, worked wonderfully.
  2. Price everything at your lowest price point. Remember, if you have an item for sale in a garage sale it is because you have made the decision this item no longer belongs in your life. The ultimate goal is to get rid of it. I don’t give items that don’t sell a second chance and I don’t think you should either. If it doesn’t sell, I pack my car and immediately deliver it to Goodwill. I immediately post the large items on Craigslist’s Free Section and put them on the curb. When I say, “Everything must go” I mean it, and you should too. It’s better to get the quarter for it at the garage sale than the zero you get for it at Goodwill. Besides, it also goes much faster when it’s priced super cheap. The less time you’re out there, the better. I actually didn’t do this for my furniture items and wish I did because I don’t think I would’ve been out there as long!
  3. Price things as uniformly as possible. For instance, you can have clothing split into four categories– 25 cents, 50 cents, 75 cents, and a dollar. Put all of the 25 cents stuff together and label it clearly. Do the same for each bin and put some separation between them so things don’t get mixed together too much. Maybe do the bin of 25 cent clothing, a bin of kid shoes, a bin of 50 cent clothing, a bin of purses, a bin of 75 cent clothing, a bin of adult shoes, a bin of dollar clothing, and a bin of belts, ties, and hats.

I know the rest of the United States is entering the unfriendly weather season but tell me about your past garage sale experiences or plans for future ones! I really want to become a garage sale shopper. I said it last time I had a garage sale and never did it. This time really reminded me how much I should at least try it, especially when I got the chance to shop my friend’s goods! What turned you on or off to garage sales?

Oh Christmas pig, Oh Christmas pig!

Christmas Pig

"Christmas Pig" by Justin Belcher

Here’s a quick little idea I had that I wanted to share.

I have a routine where I empty my wallet daily and put the ones in a little box. I use the ones to pay the kids’ allowances. Sometimes, I have enough ones in there to pay allowances for a month and sometimes I have just enough for the week. It depends on how much cash I’m using, but it overall has helped me always have money on hand to pay them and that’s been a real sanity saver and guilt curber.

I’ve wanted to use more cash more often because I think it limits me better than a card does and I’d like to get in the habit of going cash only for 90% of my day to day expenses.

Now, I have an incentive to do that.

I have a piggy bank.

Every time my wallet looks huge and gross, I empty the coins out into it. I wasn’t really sure what to do with the money this year.

But now I do.

I came up with a little incentive to dump my change into my piggy bank. My change is going to buy my Christmas present to myself. It’s not going to go towards my Christmas present, it will pay for my Christmas present in full.

What’ll it be? Depends on how much money my little piggy’s got when I cash it out at the end of the year.

I figure this will help me in a couple ways.

1) I want to use cash as much as possible as we head into the chaos of the end of the year. I behave so much better when I know I can only buy x amount of dollars worth of stuff because there’s only x amount of dollars in my wallet. With the little plastic card thing, it gets fuzzy. I know I only have x amount of dollars to spend on y thing but I don’t know know, you know? Anyhow using more cash inevitably leads to more cha-ching, cha-ching for the little piggy wiggy.

2) It’ll curb satisfying the wanties. Or at least delay it. And then I won’t be dipping into any other type of money to satisfy the holiday wanties. I think the reason the wanties really kick into gear around the end of the year is because we get absolutely bombed with advertising and subconscious messages to want things that are shiny and bright. Not to mention, most of us shop for gifts and just in doing so we are exposed to things. I’m a sucker for things. Nice, pretty, lovely things.

3) I’ll be doing something for me and it’s not of negative consequence on anything else. Not to mention, I’m a single mom of three wee ones. If I don’t spoil me, no one else will and that’s completely fine with me.

So, I’ll be focused on feeding my pig and fattening him up for my totally self-indulgent Christmas slaughter.

Do you have any totally ridiculous silly little games you play to motivate yourself? Don’t you think my piggy bank needs a name? Should I take a picture of him to encourage a pig-naming brainstorming session?

P.S. Do take a moment to read the article I linked to up there. It is amazing.