Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Consignment Sale Tips & Tricks


A couple of weeks ago, I consigned and volunteered at a local consignment sale here locally in Seattle which is run by my good friend, Rachel. She organizes an amazing sale that keeps getting better and better with each season. She’s organized, gets back to people quickly if they have questions and she’s a blast to hang out with!  Her sale is twice a year and if you are local and in Seattle around September 13th – 15th, make sure you check out her Jack & Jill sale. I have to admit, I'm now addicted to her sale and I organize my daughters outgrown clothes and toys she no longer plays with, in bins through out the year for ease of getting them to this sale. 
If you love bargains and being able to reuse toys and baby gear, then you know consignment sales are the best thing EVER! If you've never shopped a consignment sale, first of all, you've been missing out but once you go to one, you are in for quite an experience. 
Consignment sales are not to be confused with Consignment stores, which are open year round. Sales are typically held twice a year for a few days or a weekend. If you are on a budget and let’s say you have 3 kiddos that need clothing and shoes, this is a smart way to shop since they outgrow things so quickly. Another benefit to selling a sale versus a store is you set the price, whereas at a consignment store the prices are set by the shop. Consignment sales are held seasonally and are another way to shop for your child while staying on a budget.
Consignment sales and shops not only have wardrobe options for your kid, they have a big selection of baby items, such as bouncy seats, play mats, bumbo seats, swings, co-sleepers and pack and plays.  High chairs, strollers, baby gates, toddler beds, books, cloth diapers, feeding supplies, and bedding for babies and toddlers are great finds at these sales and also found on the cheap. As a new mom, we sometimes get gear that we think we need and then time flies and we use something for a few weeks and it then lands in storage. New moms really love these sales to be able to snag a deal on those exact items.
Consignment sales can be overwhelming if you've never been to one.  Here are some tips to make your shopping experience the best and you don’t get overwhelmed. Trust me, the first sale I went to, you would have thought it was Black Friday at Target.
1. Make a list and check it twice. Especially if you are shopping for more than one child, make a list of their size and what you’re looking for, especially if you have a budget you need to stick to. It’s just like going to the grocery store, you are on a mission and need to pick up the essentials. If you think you have money left over, then you can get extra items. Most often, you’ll be thinking of buying clothing for the next season. If you are unsure of current shoe size, stop by a shoe store to have your child measured before the sale. You’d be surprised how fast little feet grow.

(Photo courtesy of The Jack & Jill Sale)

2. Let kids play…at home. To make shopping easier, leave your kids home, if possible. You don’t want to be distracted by the little ones who are running around in the huge and crowded sale. Most kids don’t like to shop anyways.   The last sale I was at, a little boy go separated from his mom. It was heartbreaking to see him scared that he lost mommy.  
3. BYOB – bring your own bag. Lots of sales give you a bag that you can use while you’re there but it’s super convenient if you have your own bags that the cashier can then put your items in. Those blue Ikea bags or reusable fabric/nylon grocery bags work well.  
(Photo courtesy of The Jack & Jill Sale)
4. Shop early, shop often!  Going on the opening day will give you a better chance of finding items that are on your wish list.  You can increase your chances for early entry by volunteering and consigning at the sale which often gives shopper a pass to a presale the night before opening day. Many times the last day of the sale is the discount day when most items are half off the listed price.
5. Check before you buy. Once you've picked out your goodies, make sure check them that they are in good condition. Usually the consignment sale’s rules restrict torn or stained clothing and they usually try and do a good job in checking them when folks drop off their items but sometimes they slip by, so make a point to check your goods before you purchase. We do this when we buy new items at a store as well so it only makes sense. For purchasing toys, check that all parts are included and in working order.  I've had the experience of not carefully inspecting toys only to get home and find parts broken that were not obvious and my daughter being terribly sad as a result.  The parts might be taped together in a bag so as a volunteer to help you insure it’s working. They are happy to help if you ask them.
(Photo courtesy of The Jack & Jill Sale)
6. If you’re on the hunt for a car seat, double check the expiration date on the bottom of the seat.  Consignment sales usually require sellers to sign a waiver to insure it hasn't been in an accident or recalled.  
(Photo courtesy of The Jack & Jill Sale)
Have you shopped at a sale and now are interested in consigning items at their next sale?  Being a consignor is fun and helps you get rid of kid-related clutter in your house and most of all you can make some money. If you volunteer on top of consigning, most sales let you you can shop at the sale early, before the public, to get some of the best deals. 
Here are some tips for consigning that will benefit you well: 
1. Many consignment sales have a site with their consignor agreements and rules. Check it out since it will help knowing the tips and tricks for having a seamless selling experience  You can often get on their mailing list to insure you get first dibs on signing up for the sale, since many sales limit the number of consignors due to space constraints. The rules will also let you know items can be sold, how it should be tagged, how it should be hung on a hanger and so on.  Read the Rules!!  The owners of these sales want you to sell your items and make money. You might run the risk of your items not selling if you don’t follow the rules.
2. Presentation is the end all. If you have items with stains, try to treat them and wash, especially if its an item that would sell well. Wrinkled items don’t look nice on a hanger so try and steal or iron the items if possible. The nicer your presentation the more you will sell. Take the mud off the sneakers and tie up the laces. Always think, would you buy the item the way it is or can you fix it?
3. If selling a two piece outfit, it helps to make sure both pieces are attached well so they will not separate during the sale.  Safety pin the pieces together and wrap a rubber band or twist tie around the two hangers to keep them attached.  When selling toys with many parts, place the parts in a sealed plastic bag and tape it shut.  Clear packing tape works great to keep toy parts together that do not fit in bags.  Use plastic bags (such as Ziploc) to contain onesies, socks, underwear, shoes, or other small items.  Tape the bags shut so that buyers are not tempted to take the contents apart, resulting in loss sometimes.
4. Price your items to sell.  Most clothing items sell for between 25 -30% of their retail value since they are in great condition, and high end or boutique labels retain more value. The larger equipment items in great condition hold their value and will sell for up to 50% of their retail value. These items are always in high demand, but again, price to sell. These include strollers, bouncers, furniture, exersaucers, car seats, bumbos, pack n plays, baby carriers, etc. Items that are “new with tags” or still in the box may sell for half their retail value. Don’t forget that most sales offer a half-tag sale and if you mark your items for that, you’ll increase your chances of selling it. 
(Pricing guide courtesy of Consignmentmommies site)

5. All tags should ideally be printed out on white card stock as regular printer paper tears easily and could tear away from your item. Some sales will reject your items if you haven’t followed this rule. Make sure you also print the tags as they are in the system that your consignment sale provides. Re-sizing tags will destroy the bar code and prevent being scanned properly.

6. The easiest and best way to tag your items are with a tagging gun or safety pins. For safety reasons, don’t use straight pins. Ouch! It’s best if you attach the tags to the sizing tag or in a seam when using a gun so you don’t damage the fabric. Attaching the tag to the item versus the hanger will also insure the tags don’t get separated from the item. Make sure you put good descriptions on your items. If the tag does get separated from your item, this will allow the volunteers to be able to match them up with items if buyers find a tag less item.

(Tagging guide courtesy of The Jack & Jill Sale)

7. If you have shoes, zip tying is a great way to attach the tag and also keep the shoes together. Another option is putting them in a Ziploc bag and using packing tap to affix the tag on one side. 

These are just a couple of tips to make your consignment sale experience fun and worthwhile. If you have any tips or tricks, please comment below..we'd love to hear what you think. 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Yarn Egg Wreath

Every holiday I attempt to make a wreath to hang over our mantel or on our door and then life comes along and re-prioritizes my life. Last year, I saw a wreath and though it was easy enough to make. Trisha @ The Sweet Survival made one with yarn and it turned out so adorable. I wanted to scale it down a little and not make it so full so I took my own spin on it and I like the outcome.  I decided to wrap the wreath with coordinating ribbon that matches the yarn. The eggs I covered are in two sizes.

You will need: 
14" round foam
Ribbon to wrap the foam in
4 different colors of yarn
4-6 large size cheap plastic eggs
8-12 small size cheap plastic eggs
Lots of hot glue



Once you wrap the foam, put a dab of glue on the end of the ribbon to adhere it to the wreath. Take an egg and put a little glue on the top and start wrapping the yarn around the egg. Be careful cause the eggs are slippery. Make sure you cover the egg and don't leave any gaps so the plastic doesn't show. Be creative on how you cover the eggs.


We're in full easter decorating mode and I'll share some more decorations with you in the coming days. I put the Paper Egg Garland up that I made last year.





Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Easy Guacamole

The grocery store had avocados on sale the other day so I bought one. Sometimes I crave some chips and guacamole and realize I never have any avocados at home. I'm finding more and more recipes that have avocado in them like salads, sandwiches..so maybe it's time to make it a staple around the kitchen like tomatoes and cucumbers.

Yesterday my avocado was perfect. I made this guacamole in about 5 mins flat and dived in. Even my daughter tried it. 


   Ingredients: 

  • 4 ripe medium-size avocados; Haas recommended, if available
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 small red onion, finely diced

Directions: 

Cut avocados in half lengthwise, twist halves apart. Remove pit by hitting it with sharp base of knife blade and twisting. Scoop out flesh of avocado onto plate or cutting board. Sprinkle on garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Using a fork mash avocado to desired consistency. Add in the lime juice, cilantro, chili powder and red onions. Mix well.

To refrigerate and serve later: press out any air pockets with back of a spoon, cover with double layer of plastic wrap that is pressed against the guacamole to remove layer of air. Refrigerate up to 4 hours.

To freeze: transfer guacamole to freezer plastic bags, press out air and flatten to thin layer; seal and freeze up to 2 months. To thaw gradually, move to refrigerator. To thaw quickly, place frozen bag in bowl of water--thaws in approx. 30 min. 

Monday, March 18, 2013

One Year Blogiversary


Well, today is the one year anniversary of this little blog of mine. I've enjoyed creating my little space and contributing, even if it hasn't be regularly. This will change, I hope. 

Here are some fun stats:

80 blog posts (70 of them food related)
421 comments. You guys like to visit and I love that!
2 blog theme change (What can I say..I get easily bored visually)
428: the largest number of pageviews in one day
5 posts with no comments
1,165 Facebook fans
20-30 pictures taken per dish for the 1-2 that make it to the blog.
3,249 pins on Pinterest…and counting!
293 Followers on Pinterest

The best of this blog? You. To celeberate my first year and also my readers, I'm hosting my first ever giveaway. $25 gift card to Sur La Table.  Please take a second to leave me a comment on what you would like to see on the blog.  Would you like to see more regular desserts? Are you looking for more sandwich or appetizer ideas? Seriously, I want to know what you think! You can also shoot me an email at etgrant@me.com. I love getting emails!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Thank you all for a truly fabulous year. You guys are the best!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Easter Egg Marshmallow Treats


Pinterest, it's a wonderful tool isn't? Especially this week because they introduced their new Analytics Platform and this geek is all about analytics. I've been wondering, seriously, I have..when Pinterest would jump on the analytics bandwagon since statistically, traffic for bloggers has increased the most with use of Pinterest. In order to gain access to this informative tool, you need to list your site and become a business user and then you get can opt in to view their new site layout. Once in, you won't see much in figures but over time, you'll be able to see clicks, re-pins and source of your traffic.

*high five Pinterest*

Now...Google, I have a few thoughts on your decision to nix Google Reader...granted it's not the end of the world but it was a pretty convenient tool to use. 

This week my daughter asked me if we could make rice krispie treats for Easter. It sounded good. I like them every once in a while. Just the other day, I pinned this Easter Marshmallow Bark and thought, what if we added rice krispies? 

I think they turned out pretty good. I have to warn you though..they are extremely sweet, with the chocolate and marshmallow but it's a fun treat to make and putting them into cellophane bags with cute ribbon could make a cute treat for a play-date or Easter Egg Hunt. 



Ingredients: 

  • 1 bag white chocolate chips {12 oz}
  • 3 cups mini rainbow marshmallows
  • 2 cups of rice krispies 
  • about 1 Tbsp. shortening..it aid's in melting the chocolate
  • You can some Easter colored sprinkles, too
Directions: 

To start, I always like to measure out my items and particularly in this recipe, you can’t waste time because once the chocolate is melted, you want to make sure the marshmallows don’t melt.

Couple of things to prep before you dive in

- Measure 3 cups of marshmallows
- Take an 8x11 glass dish  and line with parchment paper
- Mix the white chocolate and shortening in a medium sized glass bowl and melt in the microwave for 1 minute. Give it a small stir, then return to the microwave in 30 second increments, until chocolate melts completely when you stir it. It took about 3 minutes for my chocolate to fully melt. Caution: White chocolate might look like it hasn't melted yet when really, if you stir it, you’ll find that it is.

Once your chocolate is ready, add the marshmallows and rice krispies. Remember I told you to prep all your items..that’s because if you take too long to stir, your marshmallows will melt and you don’t really want that. Half of the beauty of these treats are is that the marshmallow holds it’s form.


Pour your mixture into your prepared pan and smooth out so that your edges are nice and even. Here is where my daughter really had her roll in making these..add some sprinkles to the top of your treats.
Pop your pan into the freezer for about 20 minutes, until chocolate is set. Again, do this quickly so the marshmallows don’t start to melt.
Have them rest at room temperature before cut your eggs with a cookie cutter. Enjoy! 

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Broccoli With Fettuccine & Lemon Zest

I enjoy a nice bowl of pasta every now and then. What I don't enjoy is the heavy, bloating feeling after enjoying it. For those of us looking for a light alternative to sauce heavy pasta, try this broccoli-heavy pasta that gets a lot of its flavor at the end of cooking. We used shallots and lemon zest to add a twist to it. You can also sprinkle red pepper flakes for some added spice. 



Ingredients: 
  • 1/2 pound fettuccine
  • 1 pound broccoli, cut into small florets
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
Directions: 

Bring a large pot of water and 2 teaspoons salt to a boil. Add the fettuccine and cook until it's al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water. Prep the broccoli.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When hot and shimmering, slightly brown the shallots until translucent and add the broccoli florets to the pan and sprinkle them lightly with salt and pepper. Leave them alone to brown, 2 minutes.

Add a splash of pasta water to the broccoli and reduce the heat to medium. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the broccoli is barely tender, another 3 minutes.

Drain the pasta and toss it with the broccoli. Add the red pepper flakes, lemon zest and toss to combine. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil.



Monday, March 11, 2013

Rustic Apple Tarts

The other day while browsing Martha Stewart's magazine at the dentist, waiting for my daughter to get her exam, I stumbled upon a picture of an apple tart. It looked so delicious and I instantly craved it. I had to have it right then and there. Isn't it amazing how publications can take such a breath taking picture of food to make you instantly long for it? I thought about how soon I could recreate these myself and realized it wouldn't be soon...I had a jam packed day ahead of me. Lucky for me though, we had all the ingredients at home so I volunteered my mom to whip them up. :)




Rustic Apple Tarts (adapted from Martha Stewart)

Ingredients: 
  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry (from a standard 17.3-ounce package), thawed
  • Flour, for work surface
  • 3 Granny Smith apples
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg yolk, beaten with 1 teaspoon water, for egg wash
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons apricot jam
  • Cinnamon to sprinkle on top
Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Open pastry sheet and remove paper. Fold sheet back up. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out pastry sheet (still folded) to an 8-by-14-inch rectangle. Trim edges with a pizza cutter or sharp paring knife. Transfer to a baking sheet; place in freezer. Peel, core, and slice apples 1/4 inch thick. Toss in a large bowl with sugar. 

Brush pastry with egg wash, avoiding edges. Use a sharp paring knife to score a 3/4-inch border around pastry (do not cut all the way through). Place apples inside border, and dot with butter. Bake until pastry is golden and apples are tender, 30 to 35 minutes.

In the microwave or a small saucepan, heat jelly with 1 tablespoon water until melted. Brush apples with glaze. Sprinkle cinnamon and serve tart warm or at room temperature.

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