Thursday, January 28, 2016

My Pal Once Again: PayPal

I have had several new-ish comments on my eHarm/PayPal experience post (and it's follow up post) and wanted to give an update.

eHarm is still dead to me. No satisfactory resolution. No letter of explanation. Not even an email saying they looked at my complaint, let alone tried to come up with a resolution. My business is not important and I am of no consequence to them. Fine.

I have, however, resumed my business relationship with PayPal. 
It was too difficult to perform the transactions I wanted without PayPal as I do not trust other similar businesses.  I gave them a kind of probationary period to prove themselves before fully resuming the relationship.

Once bitten, twice shy and all that.

I have encountered no problems at all with PayPal and gladly, give them a resounding endorsement once again. Of course, I have to qualify that by saying that neither have I had any problems with any transactions with other online companies that I have paid through PayPal either.  So, I have not had to stop any payments, like discussed in my eHarm/PayPal nightmare post. I don't anticipate any problems with PayPal in the future.

Hurrah for PayPal once again!  I love being able to handle transactions online without having my banking/debit card information all over the internet.  In fact, I rarely do online business with any site that does not have PayPal.

I have found my PayPal joy once again! 

Sunday, November 1, 2015

These Are A Few of My Favorite Things

I have done several posts like this before. Mostly because it's so much fun to share the things that I really like.

Side Note:  One of my favorite bloggers, Jenny On the Spot, does posts like this from time to time (Here's her latest) and she always inspires me to do the same.  By the way, she has a YouTube channel where she vlogs the things she's really into. Entertaining and informative.  It's a win-win for everyone.

But, back to me . . . A-hem . . .

Things That I am Really Into

Turquoise (A little blue, a little green . . .)
I know, I know, it's so last summer. But I began collecting turquoise objects last Spring knowing I was going to be able to set up house all over again this fall.  It's been several years where I could decorate my own space and I was eager to begin making those home decor dreams come true.  It's been fun pairing the trendy color with my love of all things Rustic Romance. I painted a side table, an accent wall in my bedroom and a couple other minor decorative objects turquoise.  I am also getting ready to paint the frame of a gigantic bulletin board (roughly three feet by five feet) the very same color.  Though it may not stay a trendy color for very much longer, it has a relatively permanent place in our home for some time to come.  That makes me very joyful.

Metallic Sharpie Markers
What's not to love about Sharpies? Bold. Beautiful. Useful . . . I just love 'em.  I look for reason's to scrawl across paper, cardboard boxes (we recently moved as I mentioned and every box sported either bronze or copper markings), you name it. I was armed with a Sharpie and ready to use it.  I also scored each pen for less than a buck a piece at the beginning of the school year. Bonus!

So, I am not particularly obsessed with time, but I do like clocks a whole lot. I think it's because clocks are a fun accessory that can express a person's decorating style.  And who can't use a clock in every room?  Here are a few of my faves from my Pintrest board called, "Oh, look at the time."

Hello, Gorgeous!  Wanna come home with me?!

Life sized loveliness . . . le sigh . . .

You'd never forget to look at the time with this fun clock

The perfect marriage of Rustic and Romance

And what favorites list would be complete without chocolate?

Magnum Double Caramel Ice Cream Bars
Chocolate. Double Caramel. Ice Cream.  'Nuff said.

What are some of your favorite things?  Comment below and let us all in on your list of must haves.  Wouldn't want to be left out of something terrific . . .

Counting it all joy,

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Why I Hate Halloween

I know it's not popular to admit, but I hate Halloween.

By the time you read this, another Halloween will have come and gone and my loathing of the holiday will have escalated.  I am assuming, since you are still reading that you are interested in why. So I'm gonna tell you.

I hate Halloween because I cannot decide how I feel about it.  I am wishy-washy over it. Is the holiday just a fun, innocent event that allows for dressing up?  Or is it fraught with evil and I should not have my kids anywhere near it?

Some years I have stuffed down my questions of whether or not we were celebrating evil and I have let my kids trick or treat.  I have tried to make sure that the parties we attended were "safe."  I wanted to believe that in this day and Age of Grace, that we have liberty to do things like trick or treat. And since my family wasn't coming from a place where we viewed the holiday the same way the world does . . . well, then it must be okay.

And then there have been years where I have read convincing articles for all the reasons why Christians shouldn't celebrate Halloween.  The origins of Halloween are quite off-putting.  Certainly evil.  Not something I want to associate with, nor have my family exposed to -- especially when they were younger.

Some of the costumes that people don are enough to give even the most seasoned celebrant nightmares.  One year we went to a party held by an extended family member (my kids were seven, four and three years old).  Several of the party go-ers wore costumes that were so gruesome that I had to whisk my children into another part of the house when the offending costumes entered the room.  I didn't want to be rude and leave the party (read as: sticky familial relations), but neither the kids, nor I were having any fun trying to avoid the fake blood, axes to the head and eyeballs that looked like they had popped out of the owner's head.  I kept asking myself if this was really worth the loot bag the kids would receive at the end of night.  For me, at least that year, it was not.

The other reason I hate Halloween is that all of a sudden my kids get really greedy.  It is something we deal with on a milder note every holiday.  But October rolls around and all my kids talk about is how much candy they are expecting and what elaborate costume they expect me to buy them.  It's not as if they are starved for sweets the rest of the year and Oct 31st is the only time sugar enters their body.

During the years they were able to trick or treat, I would spend a long time checking candy.  Ugh.  Also, my kids would freak out at the suggestion of sharing.  There have been times I gathered the candy and 2/3 of it ended up in the trash because there was so much of it that I felt it was unconscionable to actually let them eat all of it.  In years past, I have curtailed how many houses they could tromp to, in an effort to not bring home so much candy.  You can imagine how well that turned out . . .

And then there's the fact that Halloween is so commercialized that it completely overshadows Thanksgiving in our culture.  (Thanksgiving is viewed as a ho-hum, albeit gluttonous, bridge from one greedy candy-filled holiday to another greedy present-filled holiday. But that is a post for another time.)

We have done the alternative activities like church Harvest parties and the Trunk or Treat events. It all is just another version of the same thing -- mildly sanitized -- but just the same (The issues of evil aren't so prevalent, but the other issues remain). If I let my kids celebrate Halloween, I feel like there are all kinds of rules I have to set up in order for my kids to be safe. It makes me question what kind of parent I am.  And I do that enough all the rest of the year. There are arguments about costumes.  There are arguments about candy.  There are complaints about how cold or rainy it is. Complaints about having to wear coats/tights/scarves and hats that may cover up their costume (or are a part of their costumes and they won't be seen at all . . .) Complaints that he/she got more M&Ms, Twix or whatever.  Complaints that their candy has to be checked before they eat it. 

I guess what I am trying to say is that Halloween makes me tired.

And afraid that my kids think that on this one day of the year they can get pretty close to evil and not suffer repercussions, when that is not the case at all . . .

Have I mentioned that I hate Halloween? I have? Well, I guess I can end this post then. 

And that's something we can all count as joy,

Saturday, June 20, 2015

On Being Divorced - part 6

I see the effects of my divorce in the eyes and actions of my children every day. They are strong, resilient but at times so vulnerable and fragile. I weep even now for the innocence they no longer have. 

Much in their lives is met with the wariness of old souls and they always hold back emotionally. My youngest is the only one who still shows any kind of physical affection, but in the business of growing up, he's drifting further and further from the childlike enthusiasm for hugs and kisses. 

The kids have lots of friends and are growing into their own in a way that I am proud of. I pray daily for the Lord to grant grace where there are gaps to be filled in. Some days those gaps loom large. Many other days I can see His hand and am grateful and humbled all over again. What a great God to serve. I have known joy and liberty I never thought possible. I am still learning to let go of the rigid standards I thought I needed to live by and embrace the freedom Jesus offers. Being the oldest child myself, this is an uphill battle. But worth the climb.

My continual prayer is that my children find their peace, their security in the Hand of the One who loves them more completely than I ever could.

And for me, that is a very joyful thing,

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Garage Sale Etiquette Demystified

'Tis the season for outdoor sports, long evening walks and garage sale-ing!  Just last week I stopped at a garage sale.  And it put my hackles up, dear reader. There were so many things this seller did that was off-putting that I will never again attend one of his sales.  And he has them.  Every year, several times a year.  And every year he makes the same mistakes. He probably has sold stuff or he wouldn't continue.  But he'd sell much more by adhering to a few rules of etiquette.

So, let's talk about garage sales, dear reader. 

Advertising.  You need to put up signs at the very least.  And you need to think "big letters."  A driver can only scan your sign to get the address and days of your sale.  Don't clutter the sign with other info.  Save the detailed listing for your Craig's List mention of your sale.  Or the newspaper is usually reasonable enough in price that you can list some of your bigger items that typically draw a crowd.

Putting up several signs is a good idea.  Better idea: make all your signs the same color, same size and planted firmly into the ground on the right hand side of the road.  You wouldn't believe the amount of people that put signs on the left side of the road expecting drivers on the opposite side to notice.  Of course, signs that have arrows directing traffic toward your sale (a great idea, by the way) would be the exception to the rule when directing someone to turn on a specific road.

Early Birds.  They're out there.  They will show up earlier than you imagine or want them to show up.  They are the ones with a serious eye and want to get there while the gettin' is good.  Don't turn them away because they likely won't return to buy if you do.  Just deal with them politely allowing them to look while you finish setting up.  Then happily take their money when they spend!

Garage sales are not for making money.  You heard me right.  Garage sales and yard sales are NOT for making money. They are for getting rid of stuff.  Decent stuff that you no longer have a use for, but someone else might have a use for (Certainly, we must take into consideration that "decent" is a relative term.  If I am in a garage sale mood, I am willing to take my chances on differing in definitions).  Hopefully you will make some money, but it should not be seen as a money-making event.  You probably aren't going to sell enough to pay for Junior's braces. You might put a dent in the amount the orthodontist is requiring, but chances are, you won't pay for them with one yard sale.

The sale that I went to that inspired this post, had shoes for $50 and $60.  A tennis ball basket for $70.  Sleeping bags for $30.  And purses marked at $150 and $250. These are all items that are well used.  And that is putting it nicely.



Dear Reader, I am all for capitalism: buy low and sell high!  Except when it comes to garage sales. If you have things that have a significant value: put them on Craig's List.  Sell it on eBay. Advertise in the newspaper. They do not belong in a yard sale unless you are willing to sell it for less than what you think it's worth. Here's why:

Sale-ers are typically frugal. Buyers wouldn't be at your sale if they wanted to pay retail or anywhere near retail.  You want people to buy? Then sell low and get rid of it. You give someone a deal and then they are looking for what else they can buy from you. Better they give you their few dollars on a few items than walking away having bought nothing and giving their money to the next yard seller.  Just sayin'. Entertain reasonable offers, make a counter offer if you want, but do what you need to do to get that rickety hanging clothes rack out of your laundry room to make room for something you will actually use.

Am I saying that you can't put a sign on your boat or riding mower and sell it in your yard sale? Not at all.  Beware: unless you advertise them in other places also, chances are, you will get much less traffic and are less likely to get that boat off of your drive and mower out of your shed.

Also, I am less likely to buy from someone who yells out, "Make me an offer!"  I don't want to be rude by low-balling, but heck, I am cheap.  Give me a starting price with which to begin negotiating.  And don't do as the young man I mentioned above and scoff when someone does low-ball.  By expecting the buyer to make an offer, you can bet there are plenty of people who are going to take you up on that and see what they can get from you for a buck or two.  Me, personally? I will just walk away having not spent a dime.

Speaking of dimes.  I have a lovely, lovely relative who insists on putting 5 and 10 cents on items when she has a yard sale. If it's only worth a dime or a nickel, honey, toss it or group it with other like items where you can put a buck on it. Or put it in the free bin. Put a quarter or a dollar amount on your items and make it easy for you and you buyer. You don't want to have to worry about having tons of nickels or dimes in your cash box.  At the end of the day, who wants to be counting dimes, nickels and pennies?

Ain't nobody got time for that.

Set your sale items apart.  Clearly, if you are having a garage sale, there will be items in your garage that you aren't selling.  No worries.  But you do need to have some kind of barrier or a significant empty space so that your buyers get the idea that that particular portion of your garage sale is off limits.  Throw a sheet over your non-sale items.  Erect a line that you can hang a nice sized sign from that politely notifies your buyers that that area is off limits. Or haul everything out of the garage, have the sale in your drive. Shouting "Nothing beyond this point!" each time a new buyer arrives is rude.  No one likes to think that they've overstepped another person's boundaries.  Let's try to set up a sale where you don't embarrass your buyers.

Group like items together.  Buyers sometimes are willing to comb through boxes -- but don't count on it.  Put your items on tables or whatever you have handy that you can make a table out of temporarily. You want them to buy, not spend their time picking through a box full of Junior's unmatched socks in the hopes of finding size 6x shorts for their daughter.  If I have been to two or more yard sales already, I am not combing through boxes -- unless I am looking for something specific. I am scanning tables and hang-up items. If I don't quickly see what I want, I am back down the driveway and off to the next yard sale on my list.  I am not unique in this.  Trust me.

Put all the knick-knacks together.  All of the CDs together.  All of the tools together.  An unorganized yard sale tells me that the seller does not care to take the time to really sell anything.  And please, dear reader, no selling underwear.  Please.Just.No.

Take the time to put prices on your items.  I loathe, absolutely loath walking up to a sale that has no prices on things.  It is rude and inconsiderate of your buyer.  I don't want to have to ask for prices of each item that I may be interested in. When a sale has no prices I walk away, regardless of the "deal" I may be missing.  I'll tell you why.

The buyer thinks the seller is going to size him up and determine prices based on what they think the buyer is capable of paying. Rude. As in: slap your mama, rude. If you are lucky and your potential buyer doesn't think that, then they will definitely know your sale is a half-hearted attempt to rustle up cash.

The yard sale I mentioned above? It was obvious the young man bought items from Goodwill and various other second hand places and put them in his driveway to sell.  The price tags were still on many of the items.  To make matters worse, he was selling the items for five, and ten dollars more than what the Goodwill price tags said.  Rude.  He can sell for what he wants, sure.  But I don't want to give someone like that my money.  Now, if you buy things intending to resell them, have at it.  Lots of people make decent money doing that.  But take the time to remove the price tags. Let's not insult your buyer by informing him or her of the fact that you are asking for more than you were willing to pay yourself.

And let's be reasonable on our pricing, shall we? Oh, I already mentioned that?  It bears repeating.
Let's be reasonable in our pricing.  It's a yard sale.  Not Christie's.

Hope these tips help you become a better seller.  Here's to a long spring and summer of great deals!

Counting it all joy,