Saturday, January 30, 2016

Another Milestone

Last Thursday night I attended the "Prospective Parent Night" at the school I intend to enroll Michaela in for Kindergarten. This particular school has been in the plan all along, but when you're finally within a few months of it all coming to be it's kind of overwhelming!

I can hardly believe how fast the last (almost) five years have gone by.

From this:

To this:

... in a blink of an eye.

Before I lost Michael, I always thought Michaela would attend school at one of the schools in my public school district. But since Michaela was born, I began to want something different for her education. I want her education to support her growth in her faith. My faith has helped sustain me through so much, and I want to give her the best start I can in her relationship with the Lord. 

The school I've chosen is affiliated with my parents' church, and it is a Christ-centered and academically excellent school. I believe she will thrive there. In addition to music, art, P.E., and other extracurricular activities, Michaela will attend chapel once a week and have Bible class four times a week at this school. Another nice thing about her school is that several of my mother's friends from church (who knew me as a child) work at the school teaching art and music, and providing before and after school care. I love that they will have a role in Michaela's education.

I am sad to be leaving her early childhood behind, but excited for her to have new experiences and friendships. 

Monday, January 18, 2016

Thrift 'n Flip

So last summer I was thinking about how I could increase my income. You see, in the first twelve years of my teaching career, I had enjoyed a step-increase and a cost-of-living increase yearly - those were the good old days. However, the last cost-of-living increase took place in 2008, and my last step-increase occurred in 2011. There was a small (1%) increase last year, but that's hardly enough to even show up in my take-home pay. Ugh!

With the cost of health insurance (and pretty much everything else) increasing each year, my paycheck was actually decreasing every year. I am hopeful that there will be a more significant raise this year, but we are halfway through the school year and that hasn't happened yet...

I had to do something to create another income stream.

After some research, I came up with two viable options - monetizing this blog, and/or selling on ebay. You might have noticed some of my posts last year in which I recommended various products (and I still think they're good ones!), and included affiliate links. I know there are bloggers that make a nice income even part-time that way, but it never paid off for me. No biggie.

Concurrently, I began learning about selling preowned clothing on ebay and decided to give it a try. Michael and I had sold used books on Amazon in the past, and I'd really enjoyed that. So last summer, Michaela and I began visiting the Goodwill and picking up a few things here and there. I also started reading everything I could on the Internet about selling preowned clothing on ebay, because not everything will fetch a profit even if it's stylish and in good shape.

I have been cramming my head with product information pretty much every chance I get, and thrifting as often as I can since September. Surprisingly, thrifting does qualify for "retail therapy" for me. But, let me tell you, it's even more exciting to pick something up for a few bucks and flip it for five or ten (or more!) times the amount you paid for it. I will admit that I occasionally keep something for myself, though. And I've picked up some nice things for Michaela, and my parents, and my brother-in-law, too. There are treasures to be found at the Goodwill, dear reader.

What's a post without some pictures, right? Here are some of my proudest flips recently:

That was my best flip by far. I found this sweater at the GW the day before Thanksgiving. It sold in about two weeks for $205. I had paid just $12.99 for it. I had never heard of that brand until a few months ago. Certainly not my thing, but these are very popular.

Ah, cashmere. Come to me! Actually, I can only wear cashmere over something else because even though it's super soft, it makes me itch. But cashmere sells well, so I pick it up every time I see it so long as it's in good shape. I paid $6.49 for this lovely sweater and sold it for the asking price. I have sold a lot of sweaters in the last couple of months.

Okay, these were mine. I had two pair from last year, but they were always too big. I learned that Nick and Nora jammies sell well on ebay, and I listed mine. They sold for about $5 less than I paid for them when they were new, so I almost made my money back! Selling things you already have is a great way to get started on ebay, or to make purging your closet profitable.

Okay, this is one of my favorite brands to thrift and to wear. I have never actually owned any new CAbi, though. All of mine is second-hand. The reason CAbi sells well is because it's only available through a sales rep - kind of like Tupperware or Pampered Chef. Women who love CAbi can't go shopping for it in the mall. I almost always put CAbi pieces in my cart when I find them at the GW. Oh, I almost forgot! I paid just $8.49 for this piece.

I have a long way to go before my ebay store does what I need it to do for me financially, but December was a really good month. I have high hopes. In the coming year, I hope to build my store up to about 200 items. I'm just under 120 items now.

Financially, I want to generate enough profit to pay off several debts, and be debt-free (except for my mortgage). I also want my ebay profits to help pay for Michaela's private school tuition - yep, that's starting in September! If it also can help with the home improvements I've put off, and a trip to Scotland one day to see my niece, that would be lovely. Time will tell.

Click here, if you'd like to see what's in my ebay store today.

In the future, I will try to post my favorite flips here on a monthly basis.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Christmas Recap

I think we made the very most of our time leading up to Christmas. Once school got out, we got busy making these shower bombs to give as gifts, and these amazing chocolate chip cookies, and this fudge. Everything turned out well, but if you're going to try just one of those recipes then make those chocolate chip cookies! They are the best I've ever made.

We sent Koa to the kitty kennel (he has forgiven me!), and spent three nights at my parents' house. Christmas Eve was pretty low-key, but Christmas Day was wonderfully busy.

Here are some glimpses into our Christmas:

Michaela slept in until 7 AM! On Christmas Eve she received a new pair of jammies and a Christmas book. I love her Christmas jammies.

It was pretty much a Disney Princess kind of Christmas. Here she is with her latest "Magic Clip Dolls". 

Monday, December 28, 2015

November/December Stitch Fix Review

Spoiler alert...

(I've always wanted to do that!)

This was the time I sent it all back.

Yep. I did.

Kind of disappointing. But, hey. They're just clothes. And I have to say that it wasn't a terrible, awful fix. It was just okay.

So here we go.

Up first was the Winslette Skinny Jean by Just Black. I had been asking my stylist for a pair of colored denim jeans for at least a couple of months. I liked the color of these, but they were not the right size - they were too small. Oh, well.

Then I tried the Chantrey Cable Knit Sweater by RD Style with the Chloe Houndstooth Infinity Scarf by Look by M. I really liked the charcoal gray color of the sweater, but it didn't feel like it was the best quality. I remember catching my hand on a loose (but not that loose) thread on the inside while trying it on, and that was a red flag to me. It was also a pretty loose knit, so I would have had to wear something underneath it every time.

The scarf was just okay. It looked fine with the sweater.

I kind of liked the next sweater. It's the Corby Pullover Sweater by Skies are Blue. I don't remember the price now, but I think I thought it was too expensive for what it was.

Lastly, I received the Rowen Faux Leather Quilted Vest by Fate. It was too small and so I didn't take a picture of it on me.

However, I got to wear one by the same maker yesterday in the right size (but a different color) that I received in my first Le Tote box. I really liked the way it felt and how it looked. The right size makes all the difference! I do like this navy blue color better than the olive one that I wore yesterday.

So, yeah. I sent them all back. And I decided to take another break from Stitch Fix.

In the meantime I am trying Le Tote. I had been receiving their emails for sometime, and then I saw another blogger wearing a cute sweater she got from Le Tote and I decided to check it out. More on that in another post, perhaps, but basically it's a clothes borrowing service. You get three pieces of clothing and two accessories in a delivery. After wearing them just send them back for another delivery - as many times a month as you can. Since I've had a heck of a time finding sweaters I really like, I thought it would be a great way to try some new labels. Yesterday I wore a really soft and stretchy black crew neck sweater by French Connection, and I layered that vest over it. Today, I packed it all up and sent it back. In a few days I'll get five more things to borrow. Kind of fun!

If you'd like to try Stitch Fix, click here.

If you'd like to try Le Tote, click here.

Those are affiliate links and that means I'll receive a credit on my account should you sign up for one of those services.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Christmastime is Here

The weekend after Thanksgiving, we dove right into the Christmas spirit. Koa joined us the day after Christmas last year and, while I don't recall him getting into anything, I decided that instead of a fresh tree we should play it safe and use the artificial tree instead. I have seen these videos, and I didn't want to live it:

Koa was overly interested in the tree at first, but I chewed him out about it one night and he's stayed away since then. Well, pretty much. There was this little indiscretion:

Merry Christmas to you too, Koa...

I've done my best to plan and do fun things with Michaela throughout the month. We've been to Disneyland, our church's Christmas program, and a local walk-thru nativity program put on by several churches in the neighborhood.

We watched White Christmas.

I hadn't seen that one in a looong time. I tried to get Michaela to watch some of the vintage Christmas animated movies, but she's not interested yet.

We've been making some gifts and baking since school got out. Angela shared her family recipes for sugar cookies and frosting, and we had some sticky, messy fun making those yesterday and today.

No, we're not having a heatwave. It's actually been cool here. But I made her take off her pullover before we started frosting, and I pulled her hair back. You have no idea how messy this child can be...

In the midst of all the busyness, I have tried to enjoy the season. Truth is, it's not always as enjoyable as the photos look.

It's rushed.

There's a lot of pressure. 

I'm sure that's not how it's supposed to be, but that's how I feel a lot of the time. And with my birthday three days before Christmas, I am usually in a funk thinking Is that it? Another year, and that's it? The only years I didn't feel that way were the ones I was married, and probably Michaela's first (and maybe second) Christmas. Something's almost always missing, and it's not going to be under the Christmas tree. KWIM?

I obviously need an attitude adjustment (on an annual basis).

It's not about me.

It's about her.

And it's about Him.

May we all experience the JOY of the Lord this Christmas no matter what is or isn't under the Christmas tree.