The Plunge

I had my last baby 15 months ago and I have been trying to get back into shape.  Right before I got married (14 years ago) I signed up with MIT for Leukemia & Lymphoma Society to do the DAM (It was my personal DAMN) Triathlon and had NO CLUE what I was doing.  I was getting planning a wedding, helping my mom refurbish their 200+ year old house, moving to a new city, trying to train for this (DAMN/DAM) Triathlon and raise funds.  I didn’t know many people so I did a lot of random things to raise money.  I did bake sales, I printed letters and walked around neighborhoods and spoke to people and talked to family members.

As for the training well let’s just say I was clueless.  I tried to train and I felt good about the swimming but the stamina I had no clue about.   Nor did I have a clue about how the whole transitioning from event to event worked… So after I raised the money, off I went to the DAM (DAMN!) Triathlon.  The hotel was cool and the people were super nice. I can’t say at this time I remember much more.  My mom and sister came to support me which was fantastic.  So when the guys were unloading our bikes one commented about mine being a mountain bike (So?  It’s a bike right? apparently NOT.)  They told me not to worry about it, I should be fine (uh-oh).

The next morning the Triathlon starts and I start off strong with the swimming.  I am freaked out though because I never swam outside, just in the nice pool at the Rec center.   I did fine, mom said I came out in first 25% of the pack so I was happy.  I didn’t swim in a swimsuit because I didn’t want to change so I just put on a pair of shorts and tank top and off I went on my bike.  Everything I heard and read said the bike is the easiest part and that is when you can catch your breathe and refuel for the run.  So I was feeling good.  But remember the mountain bike thing?  Oh and when they pulled it off the bike one of the bike tech guys said my brake was leaning on my wheel just a little bit and he TRIED to fix it but wasn’t sure it would be permanent because he didn’t have all his stuff with him…UH-OH.  So without going into to too many details basically it was miserable, the bike wasn’t a break, I didn’t get to refuel and I when I thought I was done after going up the HIGHEST bridge I have ever seen (probably not but it felt like it on my bike) the volunteers at the race yelled, “good job on the first loop!” Wait, WHAT????  I had to go around again?!?!?!  I almost broke down and cried right there and then.  I was so exhausted and the thought of the bridge again just crushed my soul.  That is how this became and will always be known (by me) as the DAM/DAMN Triathlon.  After the race I found out my brake was on my wheel the whole time just a little but enough to slow me down especially going down hills, uh.  AND a mountain bike is NOT a good bike for a road race-common sense eluded me.   To finish, I finished exhausted but I had done it.

So fast forward back to today.  That was not a great experience for me so I need some revenge!  I don’t know if they still do that particular Triathlon (not gonna lie, didn’t look too hard!) But I found the Chicago Triathlon and it looks awesome!  AND I can raise money for an great charity!  (more about this in another post).

So please follow my blog as a navigate through this Triathlon training, hopefully much smarter than the first time!!

And if you feel compelled to contribute to my race below is my Link, anything would be awesome, thanks so much!!!

http://fnd.us/11DYAa?ref=sh_f2C48c

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OMG Facebook Selling Pages!

So my latest obsession is local selling pages on Facebook.  If you are down with second hand and like a bargain check this out.

I was introduced to my first one about a month ago.  These sites are brilliant for both buyers and sellers.  It is a garage sale at your fingertips.  I have never been a huge fan of garage sales just because I don’t like driving all over town, getting out of the car and not seeing one thing of interest.  Or even worse, not getting out of the car because the description of the sale is no where near what they have.  The selling pages skip all that-Love!

At first I didn’t really get it but then the more I watched the more addicting it became.  Someone starts the page as an administrator and they make the rules. Usually it is pretty basic: have a picture, price and description.  Also, be honest and fair with how you deal with people.  You are also suppose to do all initial communication on the page not private messages until you get to personal information.  This can be good and bad which I will get to later.  A lot of them are closed groups and you have to be invited and approved.  The idea behind it is more of a community and more honesty.   Of course there are still issues that arise but I think overall everyone abides by the rules and stays honest.

It is first come first get so you have to be fast (this is the addicting, constant watch!!!  Kind of like Ebay bidding so the last second when it first began).  This is were the addiction comes in because if it is something really hot it people comment in under a minute and they have first dibs on the item.  Then people claim “back up” or second, third, fourth, etc in line if the people above them pass or don’t finish communication.  Usually children’s items go the fastest if they are priced right, for example: ride on items, playhouses, and water tables to name a few.  There is also room for negotiation but you have to be careful about it because everyone in the group can see your request.  So someone can comment they will give the seller full price which puts you in a spot to pass or pay full price.  This is the downside to having everything communicated on the page.  The upside is that if you are not the initial person you are able to read what is going on with the item.  It is also like being a fly on the wall sometimes seeing what is going on with hot items or topics people bring up.

Here are some tips based on my experiences:

Buying:

-Check often and a lot.  Add notifications on the Facebook page to all.  If it is a busy site you will constantly get updates but you will have a better chance in getting an item you find interesting.

-If you see something you like immediately comment and say you are interested.  You aren’t obligated to buy but it will put you first in line if you catch it fast enough.  Caution on this: ask what you need to know to make your decision and then let them know if you want it or pass.  This is a common courtesy to the seller and another potential buyer.  But if you wait to think about it you may miss it.  That has happened to me several times!

-Contact the seller once you have been told its yours!  Get information on where they live and pick up options.  Sometimes people will meet you or you pick it up at their house.  I have had people drop off  items I bought at my house but I think I was super lucky!  Once an arrangement has been made keep your end of the deal.

Selling:

-Clean your item up, nobody wants to pick up a dirty item plus people tend to want more $ off if it is dirty.

-Post a good pic, short description and a GOOD price.  I also leave a little room for negotiation on a big item but if it is small I make it a price that can’t be resisted.

-Once you have a buyer let everyone know “sold pending pick up” in your comment section.  Once it is picked up delete the post off the wall.  Both of these things are common courtesy so people know it’s gone and deleting helps to not clog the site.

-I try to pretty much post everything that I am about to take to goodwill.  I price it cheap because I figure a few dollars is better than nothing.  Those items I leave on the porch for people to pick up and leave money at my door.  I don’t want to have to wait around for someone for $3.  My thought is that it is a community and most people aren’t going to steal from you.  But I am taking a chance and figure I am out a few dollars.  Anything larger I make sure I am home to actually make a transaction.

-Some people do post things for free just to get rid of.  This is nice if you don’t want to make a trip to a donation center.

If you join a group, have fun and remember it’s addicting!!!

Father’s Day from 2 sons

So this is the week before Father’s day and my husband is a sentimental guy so I always try to give him something special.  We already have one thing ready (a plate with hand prints) but wanted to do something else.  I had in mind what I wanted to do so I just had to figure my game plan to execute it.  Son #1 recently quit daycare to stay home with me but he spent the first two Father’s day at Primrose and they always make fantastic crafts especially for holidays and special days.  So not to be out done I worked to make a similar item we got the first year he was at Primrose.

We made imprints of both boys hands and feet.  This may sound simple enough but I tried this last year with plaster of paris and it was a ROCK HARD MESS!  We did it on the driveway and left remnants of the plaster all over the place.   Then I let it dry on a paper plate thinking it would easily peel off but then couldn’t get it off the paper plate.  The husband thought it was wonderful and it sits on the paper plate in his office (in the drawer actually).  You could hardly tell what it was, not my finest crafting moment.

So this time I started with Crayola Air-Dry Clay, White, that I bought from Wal-Mart (very reasonable for a 5 lb tub).  This stuff is awesome.  It is easy to mold and it air drys if you leave it out or you can let the kids re-use over and over again.  I am going to use this for other projects to come!!!

We had all our materials: the clay, parchment paper, saran wrap, and my rolling pin so we got started.

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With the parchment paper laid out we put a good size clump of clay on the paper and then put the saran wrap on top.  This made sure the clay didn’t stick to the rolling pin or the table (learned this making sugar cookies!)

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Next I put Son #1 on the job to roll out the clay (with a little help of course).  We left it about 1/2″ thick evenly across the rolled clay. I made it in a sort of oval/circular shape with enough room for my 2 year olds foot and hand as well as room to write on it.

Once you have the thickness/shape/size you want slowly remove the saran wrap.  I flipped the clay over and the surface that was on the parchment paper is much smoother to do the imprint.  I took Son #1’s foot and hand and pressed down pretty hard.  We practiced a couple times making the imprints and he was having fun rolling the dough so we played a little bit with ours.

IMG_6612After a couple rounds we got one of his hand and foot we liked (left foot, right hand) we did Son #2 which was much easier than doing the ink stamped plate!  You have a little room to move the hand or foot around before pressing hard so if you have a wiggly baby you don’t have to worry about ruining this like you do with paint hand print projects.We did it the exact same way we did Son #1’s  so that dad will have matching plaques.

I took the finished product to a secret, secure location (haha!  the spare closet) where the husband wouldn’t find it so it could dry.  The tub said 2-3 days to dry but I think it takes a little less.  We kept it there for 3 days.  IMG_6613

I went in and checked on it every day to see how it was drying, just out of curiosity.  It slightly lightened in color which I really liked and I was happy with how it looked.

I used a sharpie to write each boys’ name and the year at the top.  The Sharpie didn’t write the best but it was all I had.  Another type of pen or marker may work better.  Then we wrapped them up and are ready to give to dad!

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This is a great gift to do year after year or even just to have as a memento.   I am really happy with the end result and will do this again each year for my husband.  He wants to put them all on a shelf to see how they grow each year.

I really like this clay and also think that I could have the boys paint it for another project…hmmm next craft project maybe???? LOL

I was thinking about getting a shadowbox and putting the imprints in the frame.  Not sure if it will work or not but will try and keep you posted!

Happy Father’s Day and Happy Crafting!!

Making Lasting Memories

I recently had my second baby boy and sadly this will be my last. Part of me would love #3 and a chance for a baby girl but it isn’t in the cards for me.   I have started putting clothes into piles as he grows out of them: donate, give to friends and sell.  I still have that fleeting thought of a keep pile but not sure what I would do with them.  There are 2 outfits I just can’t part with and I am sure you know where I am going with this: the clothes the boys came home from the hospital in.  They were from 2 of my favorites stores too: Gap and Carters.  A sweet little penguin one piece with a matching hat both sweater material.  The second was super soft baby blue 2 piece with an elephant and matching striped hat.  I just LOVE, LOVE, LOVE these outfits!   Every time I look at them it reminds me of those special days and I can’t part with them.

I thought about trying to make a blanket or pillow with them but really thought that would look weird so I asked a girlfriend if she was saving hers.  She said yes and that she bought teddy bears that she was going to dress with the hospital clothes.  While I liked that idea I didn’t think that really went with the feel of my house or my decor.  I tried to Google the topic but really didn’t find anything.  I also looked on my favorite site, Pinterest but nothing came up on that either.  I couldn’t think of anything all that great to do and put them back in the closest.

Then about 2 weeks ago I found a shadowbox I bought when boy #1 came along.  I had put a picture, his little cap from the hospital and a couple other things in it.  To be totally honest, it was a hot mess!  It didn’t flow together and just looked all hodge podged.  That’s when the clothes I saved came to mind, perfect!  The shadowboxes came with velcro but that didn’t hold up I found from my first attempt.  So I grabbed some push pins and got to work.

I took the outfits and centered them in the box.  I tried to lay them out to give it some dimension instead of laying flat in the box.  I redid it a couple times (and probably will continue until I love it!) I pinned in several places and tried to hide them or at least use colors that the tips would blend.  I then took the matching hats and put on the left side and the hat the wore in the hospital on the right.  I also put their hospital bracelets on the left arm of the outfit.  I have a baby ring from my dad that my mom gave me on my wedding day that was attached to my bouquet with a strip of my baby blanket.  I bought a baby ring for my son and attached it also which I put in the box also.  I don’t have one for baby #2 but I plan to add it soon.

I have two different styles of shadowboxes because I bought them at different times but I plan to get both to match eventually.  I bought them at Michael’s (which is one of my least favorite places EVER) and the quality is blah but it is close and they have coupons but that is another story for later.

So below are pictures of my final project, I put them on the wall tonight and am happy with my outcome.  I put them in each of the boys rooms and boy #1 was so excited to see it on the wall (let’s be clear it is the first thing that has gone on his wall so that might be why too!)

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While I still am holding on to a couple other outfits these will stay with our family forever and the boys will someday appreciate-I hope:)  I may come up with another idea for some other favorite outfits and if so I will share when it comes to me!

 

Caribbean Jerk Chicken with Fruit Salsa

The weather if finally breaking and we decided to grill out tonight after a much needed walk. Both the husband and I were wanting something light so we decided on chicken.

 

I took some chicken and marinated it in Lawry’s Caribbean Jerk Marinade with Papaya Juice for about 2 hours.  We grilled the chicken and I decided to jazz it up with some fruit salsa.  I have never made this before so I was definitely experimenting.  I usually have a recipe for everything I make but wanted to use what I had at the house and so I created the below recipe:

The prep time is about 30 mins for the salsa.

1 Medium Granny Smith Apple

-1 Medium Orange

-1 1/2 cups pineapple

-1/4 Green Pepper

-1 Small Red Pepper

-1/4 cup onion

-1/2 Tablespoon Parsley

-1 Teaspoon Cumin

-1 Teaspoon Lemon Juice

Chop fruit and vegetables to small pieces and mix all ingredients.
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Once chicken is grilled put generous portion of salsa on top-Delish and Light!  Hope you Enjoy!

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Ways to Save-This Thifty Moms Favorite Sale

Toys at a sale

Toys at a sale

I am sure many people know about what I am going to write about today but  can’t help it I have to give my two cents.  One of my favorite places to shop are the Mom sales.  I had never heard of these sales until about 2 years ago.  I was Very skeptical because I am not really a fan of garage sales because I never find anything that was worth all the driving around and I don’t like getting one thing here, one thing there.  I am more one stop shop if I am buying second hand.  I also am particular about quality and condition of items I buy I want them to be in darn close to brand new condition.  So needless to say it took some convincing to go to my first sale but now I am hooked and look forward to each sale I find.

I have a couple things that have helped me get the best deals and not miss out which I am going to share my secrets below! Each sale is set up differently.  Style 1 is more garage sale like that each seller has their own area while others Style 2 group all the items together-this is the kind of sale I prefer because you don’t have to worry about finding something in better condition or spending all your money at the start of the sale and then see more at the end.

First: Where to find the sales locally-Word of mouth from other moms is always great because they have more than likely been to the sale before and can give you the low down.  Also, online of course.  Facebook has some pages dedicated to sales.  My favorite for Ohio is Ohio Mom to Mom Sale Facebook Page it has a page of all the sales and then a few days before posts on their wall all the upcoming sales.

Second: Do your research-Try and find out as much as  you can about the sale: hours they are open, is there an admission fee, do they take credit cards or cash only, how large of a selection do they have/how many sellers do they have, what sizes they sell and what kinds of toys they sell.  Some mainly sell second hand where others have new toys from Melissa & Doug, etc.

Third-Volunteer-This is by far the best way to get the best deals (aside from being apart of the organization holding the sale).  Usually you can sign up with the organization that is sponsoring the event and work a 2-4 hour shift (this varies on their policy), I have also brought food and been considered a volunteer.  Basically there is always a “pre-sale” for those that are working that takes place Before the sale starts.  This is the best way to shop. Why?  Several great reasons: Shopping before everything has been picked over, not as stressful because there aren’t as many shoppers, you can actually get to all the areas you want to shop without having to wait and the line to check out isn’t as long.

Fourth-Get there early-even for a pre-sale.  The line will always start before the doors open.  This can vary on the sale from an hour to three hours.  I don’t feel like I have to be the first one in but I like to be in the first 1/3 of the line because I know I will have a great chance at the items I am looking for.

Fifth-Have a list and your smartphone-I always make a list of items I would like to find.  Sometimes this is specific (last time was Little Einstein figurines) and sometimes it is general (last time outdoor play gym/house).  I write this on my notes in my iPhone about a week before and keep adding anything I think of so I don’t forget.  I also use my phone to check prices on items that I am not sure if they are overpriced or a rare find.

Sixth-Make your Game Plan-For Style 1 (the more garage sales) decide where you want to start, sometimes going all the way to the back is best (but you are working against flow) or make a lap and then go back to the sellers you are interested in but you do risk something being sold by the time you get back to it.  Style 2-whether you want to hit the clothes first or large toys figure out where you want to go first based on what you would be more disappointed in not getting.  I usually hit large toys first, then small toys then clothes.  Mainly because I can usually find that special item (only one of) in the toy section and it takes me longer to go through the clothes than it does the toys.

Seventh-Look over all your items-Style 1-Check the items as soon as you pick it up.  If it does have some damage/stain that you can live with ask them for a discount.  They may have priced accordingly or maybe didn’t know it had it, can’t hurt to ask.  Style 2-I will grab anything I am interested in (if you have to think about the purchase TAKE IT because if it is a good item it will be gone by the time you make up your mind) and then when I worked my way through the sale I find a spot out of the way and double check all my items and get an idea of how much I am spending.  Clothes: check for holes and stains, make sure to look on the back and under collars and along the seams.  Toys: make sure all the pieces are there and that it does what it is suppose to.  If it doesn’t have batteries that is a crap shoot on if it really works or not.  For me it depends on the cost and how much I think my son will like it that I take the chance.

My Final piece of Advise-Bring a friend-it is always more fun with your best pal-ENOUGH SAID!

Racks and Racks of Clothes

Racks and Racks of Clothes

A Great Trip to the Outlet and Even more savings than expected

I recently have become obsessed with furniture and wall hangings now that we have moved in to our house (4th one in 8 years) and swear this one is it, no more moving.  Every other house I didn’t really decorate or worry too much about filling rooms with items I liked.  This one is different.  I am making this one feel like home.  So I decided it would be great to have my 2 year old have a craft table along side mine.  I looked and looked and Pottery Barn had the best tables I found.  I took a trip to the Pottery Barn outlet and found 2 tables in the color I wanted but they both were pretty damaged.  I was debating on what to do when I went to the far back corner and there it was, a table in PERFECT condition in the mahogany color I wanted.  Same price as the majorly damaged.

Now I just had to decide if I wanted chairs that didn’t match.  After a quick call to The Husband and his reasoning I bought the table and 2 white chairs at the cost on the sticker plus 25% off (special they were running).

I got my claim check and the guy said he would meet me at my car to load them up.  After we were loaded we headed home.  When The Husband went to get it out of the car he asked if I knew about the 2 dings in the top.  Of course I didn’t.  He said he could fix it but I was so frustrated that the guy damaged the table putting it in the car (2nd time this happened from the outlet) I decided to give them a call.   I explained to the girl on the phone what happened and that I knew it was an outlet but it is hard to justify paying for one condition and receiving another.  I said, “I don’t know if you do anything about these instances but I at least thought you should know this is happening.”  after 2 more phone calls I was given an additional 25% off the table making it less than the 2 chairs.  This frugal girl was ecstatic!!!

Moral of the story is it doesn’t hurt to nicely explain when things happen or aren’t right from a purchase, who knows you may end up with a steal of a deal!!!!

 

 

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