Monday, August 18, 2008

Yard Sale Bonanza

Boy, we didn't really set out to, but we did a helluva lot of yardsaling this weekend. It was a Friday off day, and I was feeling half-crazed by recent events, the state of the house, etc., so I basically demanded that we drive up to Gettysburg to do some outlet shopping--summer clearance for the baby, some shirts without stains all over them, that sort of thing. Well, we never got as far as the outlets, because Littlestown, which we have to drive through to get there, was revving up for a giant yard sale weekend. We shopped 'til we were exhausted and the baby was howling, and spent over $70--at yard sales, for pete's sake--and filled the car pretty solid. At the very first yard sale, we spent $35, and not a single item more than $1. I loaded up on new-condition textbooks for Evelyn--4 sequential math texts for grades 3-6, sequential readers for grades 1-5 and several other readers, a sixth grade science text, and a children's text-book style book about Europe and Russia, as well as some cookbooks and a volume about Echinacea. Also, a good-condition game of Memory and assorted playdough toys, and some rusty metal bits for Jacob. Over the course of the day we picked up assorted baby clothing, 7 all-wool sweaters, over 100 books, mostly but not entirely children's books, and various other things.

Then Saturday morning we headed out for the farmer's market, and ended up stopping at half a dozen yard sales on the way there, too. Didn't pick up too much, but we did get some more baby clothing, most notably a super soft and super sweet fuzzy brown jacket with, as we term them, "Ewok ears" on the hood. Also a book with attached color-coded laces to help Wyatt learn to tie his shoes, an AC/DC shirt for me so that I can wear it when Evelyn wears her AB/CD shirt, and a couple of Schleich knights and horses (which we are jokingly referring to as Evelyn's My Little Ponies). Also a complete-in-box beginner's wine brewing kit, much like the beer brewing kit we already had, and valued by us as much for the big food-safe bucket as anything else. Also, already operating out in the shop, a dehumidifier. And last, but not least, a blue plastic rocking boat for Evelyn--you know, the Step 2 molded plastic yard toy stuff.

Anyway, that got my shopping yen out safely, and we had loads of fun, and even got more than a few things that we would have bought sooner or later anyway. At this point, Evelyn is set for winter clothes and not too bad for summer clothes for years to come, mostly from yard sales. It's the way to go!

Thursday, August 14, 2008


The latest outgrowth of the excellent local natural/AP parenting group I'm part of is a semi-separate group created for the express purpose of getting together and trading around goods and services; mostly, at this point, produce. In other words, for getting rid of zucchini. ;-) We've met twice so far, and I've nigh-miraculously made both meets (the first time, my mother was in the hospital--up here--and the second time I had to beg a ride AND was getting a cold, so really shouldn't have gone). The first time, I swapped/sold honey, dried peaches, and cucumbers to the tune of about $40 in goods and cash, and today I made something over twenty (again, goods and cash combined) on dried peaches and cucumbers again, a strawberry jam, fresh ground wholemeal flour, and some dried cayenne. I took home tomatoes, fig-raspberry preserves, an orange playsilk for Evelyn, peaches, and some beets. In fact, that's two weeks or so now that I've kept us supplied with tomatoes without actually purchasing any, and our tomatoes aren't in yet. Not half bad!

Next week the swap meet is here, actually, so that's rather exciting and excellent incentive to clean up the yard a bit, at least to cut down on the rusty nail and poison ivy factors (we've been doing this outside, and of course there are small children present). I hope to have more flour, maybe some pickles...ooh, I should do some fruit leather!... a bit more honey, and we'll see what else I come up with. Also, I've invited Nicole to haul some of her stuff over, and she's agreed, so hopefully I can pull her into the fun, too.

I'm very excited about the whole thing, because it represents 1. a way to make money offa surplus stuff, obviously, 2. an excellent development and practice in the informal economy for everyone involved, which I think will be invaluable in the depression to come, and 3. a return to productivity for yards and people largely excluded from the formal economy (at the moment, most of us are stay at home moms). Personally, my garden isn't actually producing much surplus at the moment...the cucumbers are about it and quite possibly will continue that I see my "product line" as being mostly value-added goods like dried fruit, pickles, etc. So far, I've also thought of possibly making some fresh pasta, knitting dish towels and matching cloths around the holidays, making felt balls for the kids, and naturally, loads and loads of sauerkraut. Well, I assume that the audience for sauerkraut will be a little limited, but we'd make tons anyway after last year's excellent experience. Also possibly bean spreads, hummus, cheese spreads, and other prepared dishes. And I hope to create a bit of a regular audience for fresh-milled flour and dried goods. I figure that's a great way to make back some of the money spent on those toys.

So that's my big enthusiasm right now, aside from Evelyn, who is awesome at the moment. I guess about three weeks ago now she took her first independent steps, and by now she's all but dumped crawling and is getting faster and more confident all the time. She's babbling more and showing more receptive language skills, too, which is very nice because I was beginning to think that she was falling rather behind the curve in that department and, of all the places to be a little slow, language is not the one I would have picked. It's been a crazy three weeks with Mamma sick and here nearly three times as long as she meant to be and yadda yadda I won't get into it except to say that it's created a pretty intensive environment for Evelyn, with many more loving adults than usual talking to her and playing with her. Usually, I mostly leave her alone when she's happy, which I feel has value too, but I should probably set aside time on a more regular basis to work/play with her. She likes her new shape sorter and investigates it most satisfyingly. I think she spent a good 15 minutes straight yesterday doing exactly what she was supposed to do, trying pieces in various holes, etc. My acquisitive nature is very eager to see what people will get her for her birthday. We got her a cute wooden tongue drum, which I think she'll like, but whether she does or not, I guarantee the neighbor boys will. Technically the sorter was for her birthday too, but I sorta just opened it when it came and gave it to her...oops. It's not like it makes any difference to her, but I did think that I'd save some things for an actual celebration so that people would know that, in fact, we got her more than one fairly cheap thing. Whatever.

I've also been doing quite well at yard sales the last few weeks. I've picked up more clothing for Evelyn, piles more books for her (I've been reading the "young adult" selections for myself, and so far they're excellent), a manual breast pump to play with, some cute puddle-jumper boots for when she's older and some warm and comfy Robeez boots for this winter (pink, but for 1/7th the original cost I think I can stomach it), and other miscellany. A particularly excellent find is a child's lap harp complete with a stack of tune-sheets that slip under the strings and graph for you what notes to play for only $1.75, presumably because it was out of tune and they lost the tuning key (a wrench worked dandy, but I have hopes of finding a tuning key someday, too). We turned this over to Wyatt on Tuesday, and with a little help he was able to play through about half the songs and put on a concert for Nicole when she came back. He loved it. As far as I know, that was his first experience with making music, so I feel really good about that.

Well, anyway, it's actually the middle of the night. I just woke up to get a snack and pee, and I felt better than I did all day, so stayed up far longer than I should have. I should get my sick butt back in bed.