Friday, July 19, 2013

The Hidden Costs of Moving

The first weeks after a move to a new home are often filled with unexpected costs. Be forewarned! Some of these expenses can be planned for, and others will totally blow your budget. Here are just a few that we've encountered:

* Driver's licenses and titles for all of the automobiles.

* A new electric dryer for the laundry room (because our new house does not have gas hookup!).

*  A new lawn mower (because the old one died right before the move).

* Numerous trips to the local home improvement store to find everything from light bulbs to picture   hangers.

* New chair cushions for the outdoor patio set ( sold the old ones in a garage sale).

* Numerous trips to Target to find everything from shower curtain liners to cleaning supplies.

* Two new automobiles because the old ones did not pass state emissions and safety inspections.

Okay, that last item on the list may have been a bit more expensive than we'd planned. Sure, we knew that a van with 175,000 miles would probably have some issues. And we knew that a twelve year old Saturn was just buying time. But we really weren't prepared for the double whammy of two new cars in the same month. Ouch!

Needless to say, this is the summer of the "staycation", where we explore what our new city has to offer on the cheap.We're getting creative with our budget whenever possible.

We sold the old dryer on Craigslist, and used the money to finance the purchase of an ipad for my husband's work. I am scouring ebay to find the items I'll need for a bathroom remodel project. We're putting a moratorium on restaurants and opting to "eat in".

There are so many things we'd rather be spending money on the countless home improvement projects we have in store. It looks like those projects will have to wait a little longer.

Friday, June 28, 2013

A Seller's Market

A funny thing happened to the real estate market in recent months. A low inventory of houses for sale coupled with low interest rates for prospective buyers to create a (dare we say it!) seller's market.

It seems like just a year or two ago, people were happy to unload their houses. You want to eat a dozen warm chocolate chip cookies at the open house while you dream up your lowball offer? Help yourself! Want the flat screen television and surround sound included? You got it!

We really didn't realize how quickly the market had changed until we put our house on the market and had three offers in a twenty-four hour period.

Seller's markets are GREAT when you are a seller! Who, I ask you, does not want to choose from multiple offers? And who, given the option, would love to end the cycle of frantic cleanings and showings? (Me! That's who!)

 The downside of a seller's market? It stinks to be the buyer. Two houses were under contract before we could even look at them, and one was listed and poised for multiple offers. Seven offers, to be exact. And our offer, while it was above list price, was not accepted.

My husband has heard the same story from many associates around the country. Houses that quickly sell, {insert happy face}! Homelessness because you can't find a house to purchase, {insert sad face}.

Here are a few tips we picked up this time around:

You can ask any price you'd like in a seller's market, and you may get it, too. The snag comes when the bank appraisers come out to appraise the house for the prospective buyer's mortgage company. If the comparable home sales in your neighborhood do not match your home price, you'll find that all of that staging and home improvement won't help you fight the case for the higher list price. Comparables can be the kiss of death for a good sale price. Until more houses sell for best list prices in this market, the appraisers will continue to use their own mysterious formula.

A seller's market does not, however, mean that you can skip home repairs, cleaning and decluttering. These houses are still lingering on the market for too many months. Home repairs, as well, are liable to get called out on inspection, which could lead to renegotiated sales prices or costly contractor repairs down the line.

If you've found your dream house, you'll probably need to act quickly. Sleep on it, and you could lose it. Bring your best offers to the table because this may be your one and only opportunity.

If you haven't found your dream home, consider the potential dream home. Maybe it has a great lot, but horrible paint colors. There are so many things that can easily be changed...paint, fixtures, landscaping, decor. And there are those things that cannot be changed...location, neighborhood, school system. Weigh the pros and cons, and consider those things that you can and cannot live with for a while.

In this market, timing is everything.

We sold our house quickly, spent a lot of weekends looking for the dream house, lost a few of them along the way, and eventually decided to make an offer on the house that others had overlooked for nearly a year. A great lot in a great neighborhood, great schools and a great location. Plenty of room for the family, with just enough quirkiness to give it a little vintage charm. Vacant, so we could move right in with no temporary housing scenarios.

Perfect timing.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Things They Left Behind

Sometimes, God hands you a wonderful blessing, and if you are smart, you will take it with both hands.

To date, this house has been a blessing, and each day, we fall in love with it a little bit more. Mind you, this house was not the stunning looker that everyone was clamoring for, but rather the wallflower who waited patiently for someone to really appreciate her hidden beauty. This house waited for us, and we are so thankful that it did.

On day one, we were blessed to meet the sellers, who were wonderful people. The husband and doctor who became a lawyer, and his lovely wife who became a renowned jeweler. They raised two sons in this house that they lovingly tended for thirty years. They were so happy to know that boys would be playing basketball in the driveway and swinging from the tree fort once again.

The sellers were truly generous people.

They left garden art, doormats, and bird feeders.

They left us a piano!

They left us keys and openers, with notes and detailed explanations.

Finally, they left us this binder. I say "binder" loosely because, seriously, it's more like a tome! It's a testament to how home owners should stay organized regarding the house, its appliances, and major repairs.

Need to know how to use the rotisserie feature of the wall ovens? Never fear! It's in the binder, in plastic sleeve protectors none the less!

Wondering where they purchased the carpet? It's in the binder.

Trying to figure out how to turn on the sprinkler system? It's in the binder.

Not only did this family leave us a wealth of information, but they also walked us through the house to show us the features we might miss...

...the Bali blinds in the master bedroom that can open from the top down or the bottom up.

...the electrical outlet at the bottom of the lamp post, perfect for holiday lights.

...the built-in cutting board in the kitchen.

...the pastry board in the cupboard.

...the flowers and shrubs and trees in the garden.

What a sweet couple! I think it was hard for them to say goodbye to this house that they'd loved for so long. They shared memories of their happy home. I shared how this home made me feel happy the moment I walked into it. (I shared it in this post:

She cried, I cried.

It was a moving experience.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Corporate Relocation: Week Four

We are beginning week four of our corporate relocation to Pittsburgh, and it has been quite an adventure!

Corporate relocation involves so much more than just moving your belongings from one house to another. Let's face it. You are uprooting your life and the lives of everyone in your household. It is like plucking a plant out of the ground, moving it to a new location in the garden, and hoping that with enough watering and sunlight, it will grow.

A big part of the relocation process is learning your environment. I like to do this in an ever expanding set of concentric circles, with my new house being the epicenter.  It starts out small...trips to the bank, trips to the grocery store. Then it expands a little...trips to Lowe's and Home Depot and Target. Trips to the local pizza joint and the shopping mall. Trips out for ice cream.

Each trip helps build your confidence a little. I can do this! I know that intersection! I can find my way home!

We have found our new library. Today, we will find our new post office.

Small steps.

Every week, we have visited a new church in our area. We are learning a lot about ourselves and about different denominations in the process. Finding a new church is a big priority for our family.  We're beginning to realize that this process could take a long time. We've decided to double up on our weekly worship, hoping to attend a Saturday evening service at one church, and then trying a Sunday morning service at another.

Church shopping will definitely be getting its own post very soon. It is such a complex process that it could really deserve its own book!

In the meantime, I love this view of the golden spires and steeples of the Russian Orthodox church down the street. I can see them glowing in the sunlight while I type at my desk in the living room. The best part? Listening to the church bells every Sunday morning. A sweet music that is good for the soul.

 Goals for week four:

* Tend to the garden and get some potted flowers and annuals.

*Walk the neighborhood with the boys to encourage them to explore and meet new friends.

*Locate new doctors, dentists, and care providers.

*Transfer school records and get registered for fall.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

When You Can Live With Wood Paneling (And When You Cannot)

Wood paneling.

Just say those words and watch people's reaction.

Some folks nod their heads and smile, thinking warm and cozy thoughts.

Other folks cringe.

Let's face it. If you are in the habit of purchasing older homes, you are likely to have a few close encounters of the wood paneling kind.

One of my favorite homes was a cape cod style bungalow. The previous owner had painted the wood paneling in the family room a bright shade of white. It was a little too harsh for me when paired with the brick fireplace. We painted that paneling a rich warm shade of terra cotta, and it made the room very inviting.

Another of my favorite homes had a wood paneled wainscoting in the family room in a rich burled wood. It suited the room, with its brick fireplace flanked by built-in bookcases. It would have been a travesty to mess with that wood paneling.

The family room in this sixties colonial guessed it!...wood paneling. Walls and walls and walls (and walls!) of it. Truthfully, I like it! This is our movie viewing room, and we want it to be on the darker side. My husband is not convinced that he can live with it. I keep telling him to have a little patience. When we get new furniture for this room (and that will be a necessity very soon), it will make all the difference. The room also faces the east, and gets plenty of light during the day.

For now, I'm doing my best to make the space a true family room. Framed photos. Beloved books and movies. Games and entertainment. Comfy places to sit with plenty of throw pillows and blankets. I'm adding brightly colored accessories to counteract the darker nature of the wood paneled walls.

In a weird twist, it's becoming one of my favorite rooms of the house. Go figure!

And then there is the issue of the den.

We were lucky enough to find a colonial with not one, but TWO wood paneled rooms. The den is situated at the back of the house. It is in the southwest corner of the house, with two windows that are shaded by trees. There is absolutely no overhead lighting. It is dark, dark, dark for the majority of the day, save for an hour or two in the late afternoon.

The den has a ton of built-ins, perfect for a craft room.

And it would be a perfect craft room, too, if you could actually see what you are working on in there. Unfortunately, the light gets sucked by the dark paneled walls.

This room will also serve as the guest room. It is situated next to a full bathroom on the main floor, perfect for guests. Unfortunately, I can't imagine a guest who would want to stay in that room in its current condition.

I am sensing a painting project in the near future.

The July issue of Country Living magazine features a Cape Cod colonial where the home owners painted the wood paneling a warm and sunny yellow.

Sunny, bright, light reflecting yellow.

It's a possibility.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

A Happier Happy Place

It was the room that sold me on this house. I took one look at the cheerful yellow gingham wallpaper, the light streaming through the window, and the door leading to the patio and I thought "I can be happy here."

It was a perfect laundry room.

Hey, don't judge! Everyone has their happy place. For me, my happy place is wherever I'm doing the family laundry. With all the boys currently living under the same roof, I'm spending more time than normal in the laundry room. Not that I'm complaining! This Mama Bird loves having all of her baby birds in the same nest. And when the laundry room is this cute, who can complain?

One of the things I've learned about moving into a new home is that you can't be married to the original concept of an item from your previous home. You may have always had a certain painting decorating the walls of your kitchen, but in your new home it may actually work better in the dining room. A furniture piece that always graced your family room may turn out to be just the thing your living room needs.

Case in point: the braided area rugs that are now warming up the tile floors of my laundry room were actually used to warm up the concrete floors of the front porch at my previous home. I found the homespun charm of a braided rug went perfectly with the gingham in this room!

I got my laundry chute! This was a wish list item when we began house hunting back in March. Whenever we toured a house with our realtor, she made sure to point out if it had a laundry chute for me. This chute starts in the master bedroom, hidden in the floor of a cabinet in the bathroom. My little guy, Sam, has had fun sending things down the chute. It reminds him of the movie Stuart Little, when Stuart accidently goes down the chute and ends up in the washing machine.

This room does double duty, serving as our dog's feeding station as well. She would probably prefer to eat at the kitchen table with the rest of the family, but she's learning to adjust. This little braided rug works well for those times when she's too thirsty to drink like a lady.

The previous owners must have used this room for their dogs as well. They left this sweet little wall plaque that has hooks for dog leashes.

Do you have a happy place in your house? If so, where is it?

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Six Tips For Moving Out/Moving In Day

A few tips for making the move go smoothly:

1.) Post-It Notes are a must! I used these notes to label every room in the house. As the movers unload off the truck, they don't have to ask you "Which room is your office? Where's Sam's room?" They can see the labels, match it with the name on the box contents, and move it right in. I probably could have used a black Sharpie to make it more visible, though.

On a funny side note, one of our movers asked us "Are you a pastor's family?"

Uhm, no. Why do you ask?

"I just assumed from the names of your sons," he said.

Luke. John. Samuel. It was a good assumption.

"No, we just love the Lord," I answered.

"So do I!" he said, beaming. He showed us the bracelet that he was wearing as a reminder.

Lesson of the day: You never know where you might be a Christian witness to the world!

2.) If possible, arrange to have your dogs stay in doggy day care for moving day. I say "if possible" because it just wasn't possible for us. Our old girl is too crotchety and set in her ways to spend time in a kennel full of yappers. She tried to stay out of the way, but it's still hard to navigate around 75 pounds of labradorness.

3.) Have plenty of water on hand for the movers. It was a hot day here on moving day, and those movers are accomplishing amazing feats of strength. They need to stay hydrated. Stock the fridge with plenty of bottled water. (And trust me, they want water, not soda. As the movers told me that day, drinking soda on a hot day just makes you thirstier. We stocked both, but the water was a big hit).

4.) Moving Day is not the time to tackle major cleaning of your new home. Trust me, you will just be in the way. Save it for later. Dirt always waits for later. :)

5.) You will need to have a bathroom that is ready for customers. Have a hand towel, hand soap, and toilet paper ready.

6.) Remember to have cash on hand for tipping your driver and movers. Be generous here, folks. They are doing the back breaking work for you. Show them a little love and appreciation. Some crews appreciate having a meal provided for them that day (carryout pizza is always a favorite), but others just want to get the job done and eat afterward. Ask the crew leader for their preference.

Our crew from United was wonderful! They were patient, they were thoughtful, and they were professional. Nothing was damaged in our move. Everything was accounted for, and they went above and beyond the call of duty to ensure our happiness.

A moving day success!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Unpacking Day

We're here! We're here! We're finally here!

Last Friday, the moving van was waiting for us at our new Pittsburgh home. They spent a long, hot, grueling day unpacking all of our furniture and boxes.

So many boxes!

I have to confess...before the move, my husband and I both looked around our home and thought (rather smugly, I might add) "Wow, we've really pared down! Look at how much we've cleared out! Unpacking should be a breeze!"

And then the movers brought our stuff into the new house. As we began to unpack, we were overwhelmed by the sheer volume of STUFF that we possess.

Why, oh why, do we hold on to so many things? We wish we could have had ten more garage sales!

The lesson learned here is this: When you think you've pared down, go through your house and do it again. And again. And again.

We were exhausted by the end of every day. Our muscles were tired from lugging and toting, and our brains were tired from making so many decisions.

We're getting more settled and more comfortable in our new home every day. I can finally see the top of my kitchen table, and that's progress!

Yesterday, this table hosted an impromptu tea party with my new neighbor and her little daughter. Mary, Mary Theresa, and Mary Rose all sat down to a proper tea.

I think I'm going to love it here.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Paying It Forward

Yesterday was officially moving out day. The moving van came at 9am, and by 4 that afternoon they had loaded everything onto the moving van.

It's amazing how much stuff one family of five can accumulate over a twenty-five year period!

It was a bittersweet day. The house looked so sad and forlorn without all of the things that make our house a home.

 Realtors will tell you to have your house "broom clean" for the next owners. Sorry, but that's not good enough for me. When I leave a house, I leave it clean from top to bottom. Cabinets and shelves are wiped clean, baseboards and ceiling fans are dusted, carpets are vacuumed, floors are mopped, and bathrooms are scrubbed clean.

I like to think that I'm paying it forward.

It is our hope and prayer that the next owners will enjoy our home as much as we did.

The future may seem fragile from this point on, but we're keeping this end up!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Boxing Day

The packers are here today to box up our worldly possessions. To be completely honest, I wasn't prepared. Oh sure, you can work all weekend to ensure that things go smoothly. But on the morning of the packers' arrival, you still feel like there are two dozen things you didn't get to.

You'll still be frantically doing laundry, emptying garbage cans, collecting cleaning supplies.

In the end, you just have to let it go and submit to the chaos and the capable hands of the folks who know what they're doing.

I always feel the need to apologize to the poor people who draw the short straw and have to pack my craft room.

"Sorry about the mess. I tried my best to clean it up for you."

"This is nothing!" the ladies said. "We were just saying 'We love this woman! Look! She put all of her liquid bottles in Ziploc baggies!' "

I'm sure they just said that to make me feel better.

I really thought of telling the packers that someone broke into our house, and instead of stealing stuff, they left a bunch of crap instead. But something tells me they've heard that lame excuse before.

Here's a short list of some things we did to prep for the packers:

* In the yard, we gathered all garden statues, fencing, bird feeders and bird baths and put them in the garage for packing.

* In the craft room, I packaged all papers neatly, put all my inks, sprays, and mists into Ziploc baggies, and made sure all accessories and tools were stored in drawers.

* In each bedroom, we put our suitcases and any other items that would not get packed onto our beds.

* In the master bathroom, we put a pile of cleaning supplies in the bathtub. These items will be handy when the house is empty and we do a thorough cleaning before turning it over to the new owners.

* On the kitchen island, we made a pile for the new house owners that includes manuals for all appliances, garage door openers, spare keys, extra real estate flyers, etc.

* We labeled rooms with directions on where the items will go in the new house. We put Post-It notes with the boys' names on their bedroom doors, and labeled rooms according to their placement in the new house: Family Room, Den, Living Room, Kitchen, etc.

* We made sure all dishes were clean and in the cabinets. We also took any items we'd still need from the pantry and put them in a "Do not pack" pile.

* We emptied all garbage cans.

* We did one final "purging" and took another van load to Goodwill.

I have no doubt that I will be unpacking some items this weekend and asking myself "Why didn't I get rid of this?" It's bound to happen. But for now, we're feeling pretty good about the move. The packers are a family bunch, and they're extremely patient with us.

We're tired, but blessed.

"Don't forget to pack me, Mom!"

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Choosing A Moving Company

More great advice from Angie of Angie's List:

Unfortunately, when you move with a relocation company, you do not get to pick who your movers will be. We've had wonderful experiences with Grabel movers in the past. This time, we'll be using a new company. I hope we can give them a glowing report as well!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Finding A Realtor

Good advice from Angie of Angie's List:

Angie has another great article today about finding the right movers. I'll post that one soon!

Friday, May 24, 2013


Today, I will be heading over to the vet's office to pick up Maggie's prescriptions before our move. Our vet has taken such wonderful care of Maggie these last five years, and we're so thankful. I decided to cut a bouquet of roses from my garden (it's still my garden until May 30th!). I'll be giving these to the ladies at Hamilton Hills Animal Hospital to express our gratitude.

Moving is a wonderful time to stop and think about all of the people that have been such a blessing. Pastors, teachers, doctors, neighbors, so many special people who deserve our thanks.

I think I may be handing out a few more bouquets before the week is over.


Thursday, May 23, 2013

On Packers and Packing

The packers will be arriving on Memorial Day. Yikes! I can't believe how the time has flown! It seems as if one day we were pondering a move, and the next day we were moving. Actually, it didn't happen quite that quickly. This process has been slowly unfolding since February, but when you are so busy, it seems to go by in the blink of an eye!

Here are a few things you should know about professional packers:

* They pack by rooms. If you want something in Sam's room at the new house, you better make sure it's in Sam's room now so that the packers will label it correctly. Otherwise, you may be digging through boxes unnecessarily.

* If it's not nailed down, they will pack it. Yes, packers have been known to pack a garbage can with garbage still inside. You have to be one step ahead of them in this regard. Think ahead!

* Packers work quickly and efficiently. Try not to hover over them, inspecting their work. If there's something you do not trust them to pack, then be prepared to pack it and transport it yourself. The moving company can only guarantee the items that were professionally packed.

* Use Post-It notes to label items with "DO NOT PACK" signs.

* Make sure that you've packed your suitcase and personal items before the packers arrive, and label it with a Do Not Pack sticky note.

* It may be best to move items that won't be packed to one central location...the car, maybe.

This week, I am working room by room to get the appropriate items in their proper locations. For example, there are a lot of decorative items that I plan on using in my new kitchen. I have moved them into a corner of my current kitchen to make it that much easier.

Are you picking up a theme here? I've had some of these items in storage because they just didn't work in my current kitchen. But I know they will look fabulous in my new kitchen!

I purchased these adorable measuring spoons from a store more than two years ago...for my future kitchen. And now, they'll finally have a permanent home!

When I remodeled my dining room last January, I took down these buffalo check plaid curtains and replaced them with sheers. I washed them and stored them for another day.  I think these will look fantastic in my new living room!

In the meantime, all of my college sons are now home, and we are sorting through their belongings as well. The house is in one of those stages where things look worse before they get better. Hopefully, we'll be completely organized by Monday!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

One Week Countdown

We're in the home stretch now! In less than one week, the packers will be here to begin the process of packing our items for the moving van.

There are a LOT of things to accomplish when you are in the final stages of a big move. Here are just a few items that go on the priority list:

*Cancel utilities and services for your former home.

*Get utilities and services set up for your new home.

*Get homeowners insurance, as well as auto insurance for your new residence.

*Get prescriptions filled at your local pharmacy, if necessary. In our case, that means getting my geriatric dog's prescriptions from her vet before needing to find a new vet.

*Check with the schools about transcripts.

*Check with the doctors and dentists about medical records.

*Fill out change of address forms at the local post office.

*Update your church and friends with your new contact information.

*Get your home organized and in order for packing day.

*Take one more trip to the local Goodwill or other charity to donate items.

*Consider going through your kitchen and donating food items to a local food pantry.

This weekend, my husband came home and loaded up the car with quite a few house plants, which he will be keeping in his apartment in Pittsburgh until the move. (That's just one of many items that the movers will not move). He plans on leaving the car there, renting another car, and driving back this weekend for the moving week. That way, we will only have two cars left here that we can use to transport our family and a our overnight necessities.

In the meantime, we've been visiting a few of my favorite places here in Noblesville, Indiana.

Lunch at the Uptown Cafe:

Watching the train rumble through the historic square:

Checking out the lovely window displays at one of our favorite shops, A Corner Cottage:

It's a lovely small town, and I hope to visit it again one day, perhaps on one of my drives out west to pick up my college son.

Good memories!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

True Green Building

My oldest son, Luke, recently graduated from Ball State University with a degree in construction management. Much of the focus of his studies has been sustainable building practices, green energy, and environmentally friendly building practices.

Over lunch this week, we discussed the many ideas that consumers and home owners in our country have about "environmental" home remodeling. I cringe every time I watch a remodeling show where the homeowners rip out everything, and then want to rebuild with "environmentally-friendly products."

You know what is truly environmentally friendly? Keeping things out of landfills and using what you have!

Honestly, we are living in a disposable age, where we'd rather throw away something old before giving any thought to fixing and using what we have. It used to be that you bought something, used it, took care of it, fixed and repaired it, and were happy to have it. Now, we replace something merely because it's not currently popular.

Here's the big problem with following a trend. Trends have a very short life span. What is popular today will be unpopular ten years, five years, even a year from now.

When making decisions on your home, you have to ask yourself a few questions:

*Can I live with it?

*Can I give it an update without throwing it away?

*Do I really love it, or am I only loving it because advertisers are telling me to love it?

*Will I love it five years from now? Ten years from now?

*What is the environmental impact on my decorating and home decisions?

*What are the pieces of my home that are timeless, and what are the elements that are trendy? Am I investing too heavily in the trendy when I should be investing in the timeless?

Here's an example. I have two "vintage" bathrooms in my new home. One is "pink" and one is "yellow".

My realtor hated them both.

"So dated!" she said.

And in truth, they are dated. But you know what? I love them both! This little yellow bathroom is so sweet! I love the pedestal sink on the chrome base. I love the original tile floor. I love the true porcelain/ceramic tubs that keep the heat better than any of the vinyl tubs today. I took one look at these bathrooms and instantly thought "I can live with that!"

There will be other things in my new home that I will not love and I will not be able to live with, like the bulkhead cabinets in the kitchen that block the view and make me feel claustrophobic. Those will eventually go. But I hope to repurpose those cabinets somewhere in the home, maybe providing extra storage in the laundry room.

Small changes can make big impacts. Working with what you have can be a challenge, but I think that's half the fun!

Tell me...what steps have you taken to make your home a little "greener"?

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Big Moving Sale!

When the stickers and Sharpies make an appearance, you know what it must be time for...the big moving sale!

I try to have one garage sale every year. It's just a wonderful way to purge your house of unnecessary clutter and give it a little breathing room. I promised myself that I would take a long hard look at my storage room before the move. My goal was to reduce the amount of items by one-quarter. I decided that if it's been in the storage room of this house for five years, it would probably stay in storage at the next house for another five years. And seriously, why are we holding on to items that occupy valuable real estate in our homes? I say let those items bless another home.

Here's another thing to consider: if you don't have to pack it, then you don't have to unpack it either!

My corporate relocation package includes a full move. That means that packers come a few days before the big move to pack everything, and after the move they come back to unpack everything. They may not realize it, but one reason I have a moving sale is to make their jobs that much easier!

I thought I'd share a few garage sale tips, in case you were thinking of having one this season, too.

For starters, I always advertise my sales on Craigslist about a day or two before the actual day. It helps to list some major items, and provide photos as well.  I put this photo on my listing at last year's sale, and I had a woman here at 8am to look at my Stampin' Up goodies. That is the power of advertising!

Give some thought to how you display items. Some folks like to look at tables, racks, or shelves, while others like to root around for buried treasure at the bottom of a basket. Put your big ticket items on prominent display, and save the baskets and boxes for small ticket items. I like to arrange my tables and racks in a welcoming U shape.

Invest in some various sizes of lunch bags. These are great for pricing small items like jewelry or crafts.

Make a child's day by offering a hodgepodge of free items in a box at their eye level. It's a nice way to make moms and dads and grandparents happy, too!

Here are a few tips on preparing for your sale:

*Clean everything. If it is dirty or in total disrepair, it probably will not sell. Add a button, sew a seam, and make it neat and presentable.

*Price everything before the sale if at all possible. Trust me on this. You can tell folks to make you an offer, but they won't. They will, however, make offers on items that are marked. Marked items sell so much faster!

*Keep some stickers and Sharpies handy for price changes.

*The day before the sale, get some change at the bank. I usually get about 40 to 50 dollars, broken down into a roll of quarters, 20 one dollar bills, and a few fives.

*Price it fair, and price it to move. Be prepared to mark some items down for hagglers. Ask yourself if it's worth it to save it, or is it worth it to get it out of your house.

*Wondering if an item will sell? Put it out there and see! I'm always amazed at the things I sell. I have sold old lamp shades, drawer pulls from some old dressers, some old bed linens, never can tell what some folks will buy!

On the day of the sale, remember these tips:

*Keep your money on your person at all times. No cash boxes. I prefer a cross body handbag for this purpose, and the money is never out of sight.

*If your sale is in your garage or front lawn, then lock your front door and all other doors to your home.

*Never let a stranger into your home for any reason. Always recommend the nearest public restrooms, gas stations, etc.

*Never leave your sale unattended.

*Keep your cell phone and house phone handy.

*Provide bags and boxes, if possible.

Some things that typically sell well at my sales:

Mens suits
Children's Clothing
Ink pads, stamp sets, and craft items
Children's Books
Sporting equipment
Housewares (blinds, shades, kitchen items, and decorative items)

And here's my most important tip:


Greet every customer. Talk to their kids. Chat with them about their awesome finds. Don't hide behind a table with your arms crossed and a scowl on your face. Walk around, smile, and spread a little joy!

That's good advice for any day of the week!