Craigslist

Craigslist

I love Craigslist! A little too much sometimes. But most of the time just the right amount.

We have basically furnished our house using Craigslist. In fact, there are only three pieces of furniture in our entire house that we purchased retail. A few were handed down to us or found through freecycle, but the vast majority we found on Craigslist.

We also got our car using Craigslist. We spent below the KBB value for it too. As well as lots of other items such as clothes, house decorations, toys, etc.

I check it just about every day. I look through the free stuff. Then I do a general search with the price parameters of $2 minimum and $20 max. I find a lot of great, cheap stuff this way. I also search separately for anything I am specifically in need of.

A few our finds:
Loft bed $20
Buffet $75
Bench Seat with 3 wicker baskets $10
Couch $75
Patio Furniture: Table, Umbrella and four chairs $40

Here are a few things I found today in the $2-$20 range to give you an example of what is out there. I found so many it was hard to narrow down!

Just in time for Christmas decorating. A 4.5′ artificial Christmas tree for $12.

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A Juiceman II juicer. If you want to try juicing, this is an inexpensive way to do it. Then if you want to upgrade later you can. $20

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An old wood phone stand. $15

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An Step 2 push/riding car for toddlers for $15. These retail for $40+

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These have been on Craigslist for a while and I love them. So tempted to buy one for above son #2’s bed. Kids canopies 1 for $10 or 2 for $18.

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I just love this pie basket! $5

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A large dog coat for $3!

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Boys size 2 L.L. Bean winter boots for $10.

An large new kids play tent for $10.

50 knitting needles for $10.

Kids scooters are pretty expensive new. There are two that I found today. One for $10 and one for $15.

And for my fellow Pinterest nuts, I know I have seen projects using these.

Bird cages for $10-$15 each.

Two ceiling medallions for $8 each.
Could be used to make this wreath from Hope Studios.

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These are just a few examples of the stuff you can find cheap on Craigslist! Any other Craigslist nuts out there?

Please keep in mind these items are not mine, I do not know the individuals selling them and am not vouching for them. Always take proper precautions when meeting and buying things from people online. Use common sense and if at any time the communication gives you alarm pass on the item.

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Mocha and Lucy

Last week we had the pleasure of participating in a video for our local dog shelter. Shelter volunteers came over to take some photos and video of our dogs, us and a shelter volunteer named Grace. Here it is!

We have two crazy dogs that are a part of our family. They make us laugh and make us crazy but they make life more interesting and fun.

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Three years ago we adopted Mocha from Rochester Animal Services/Verona Street Animal Society. She had been at the shelter for a month or more and one of the vets had taken her home to give her extra time to find a family. We went into the shelter to check out another dog but he didn’t end up being a good fit for our (then) three year old son (kept jumping on him and trying to gnaw on his head) so the staff suggested we meet Mocha. She was sweet and gentle and after a few visits we were sold. She is a loving (too loving sometimes), smart, high energy dog and we love having her as a part of our family. And she is coocoo for CoCo Puffs for babies. It’s hysterical and obnoxious. I guess it is a boxer trait which is likely one of her breeds. Best guess is she was about a year old when we got her (3 years old now) and she is a boxer, hound mix. She was brought to the shelter because her owner was incarcerated and his friends couldn’t care for her any more.

Photo by Ken Tryon

Photo by Ken Tryon

With our kids going to school this fall we thought Mocha could use a companion to play and expend energy with. We were on the fence about getting another dog though. Second dog = more expenses (vet, food, etc.) and makes it more difficult to travel. But those sad, sad faces on the shelter’s Facebook page just kept tugging at my heart strings. And the shelter kept running discount and free adoption events. They were beyond capacity with dogs. The last adoption special of the summer wore me down, so the kids and I went down to the shelter again. But all of the dogs we wanted to visit with were already claimed. Dogs were going like hot cakes that day. But the dogs living with fosters were still available (and qualified for the free adoption if you inquired during the event). So after I got home that day I checked out the RAS website again and one of the foster dogs caught my eye. We called and set up a visit.

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The next day we all brought Mocha to the new shelter play yard to meet Chica and they seemed ok with each other. Mocha was distracted in the play yard but they didn’t hate each other so we decided to go for it.

While there the foster told my hubby that Chica had been at the shelter for a few weeks and her time was running out. One of the shelter volunteers, Grace, had worked very hard with her helping her overcome some dog aggressiveness and had begged for more time more than once. She walked her, did some training with her and when a nationally recognized trainer visited the shelter Grace pled her case. Finally Grace found Chica a foster home. She was only fostered for a week when we got her.

Photo by Ken Tryon

Photo by Ken Tryon

Once we got home with the two dogs, Mocha and Lucy (we changed Chica’s name) began to play non-stop and are now best buds. Lucy has fit right in to our family. She is a big mush and loves being loved. Best guess is she is about a year old and is a yellow lab, pitt bull mix. She was brought to the shelter because her owners were moving and not allowed to have a dog at their new place.

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We are so happy RAS staff, volunteers and fosters worked so hard to give our two girls extra time for us to find them. They are both wonderful additions to our family.

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If you have room in your home and heart, and are ready for the commitment, to adopt or foster a dog (or cat) please contact Rochester Animal Services. There are so many animals there who need a second chance at life. And when you adopt a dog that isn’t a puppy, potty training is usually already done. Plus! And both of our girls were already crate trained. Plus, plus! Dogs that are currently being fostered are a great choice too. That means the shelter thought they were such a good candidate for adoption that they should have extra time. And most fosters work with the dogs while they are in their care to help train them and make them even more adoptable.

I have to add though, that if you aren’t ready to take on the responsibility of an animal, financially and with time invested in training, or if you aren’t in a stable place (like you may be moving or family situations may be changing) don’t adopt right now. These animals need people who can commit for the long haul and who will train them, understand their needs and love them. If you love animals and can’t adopt or foster right now then why not volunteer at your local shelter instead? Or help a friend out when they need a dog sitter over the holidays (hint, hint).

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Apple-y Goodness!

Despite chronic illness I still try to tackle, what feels like, huge projects sometimes. Like blogging. Or fixing something that is broken.

Something that, last month, was a huge project for me started with a cheap bushel of apples from Zarpentine Farms.

Peeling, coring, slicing, cutting, cooking and processing is time consuming and relatively labor intensive. But food in jars makes me happy and the bounty lasts a long time.

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To make life easier, I decided to go with making apple sauce in the crock pot, like I had seen on Pinterest. I found a few different recipes on Pinterest and by Googling “crockpot applesauce.” I used my Pampered Chef Apple/Peeler/Corer/Slicer and did up all of my apples.

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Apple scraps for the compost.

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I put the cut up apples into my crock pots on low and let them cook over night. In one of the crock pots I decided to do spiced applesauce. I used this recipe from Completely Delicious. For the plain apple sauce I didn’t add anything extra.

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I decided to make some apple butter too. I used this recipe from PickYourOwn.org. The only difference between making the apple sauce and the apple butter is you put some butter knives under the lid to lift it and let some moisture escape for a few hours. This lets the sauce become more thick.

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Once the apples were all cooked. I hit them with an immersion blender. I do not know how I lived without an immersion blender for so long! Then I ladled the sauce and butter into hot, sanitized jars and processed them in a hot water bath.

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Hot water bath processing.

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Spiced apple sauce.

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Plain apple sauce.

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Apple butter.

I ended up with 3-5 few jars of each. Apples cook down A LOT. But yummy!

Strep

Son #2 has strep for the second time in a month.  Oh my.  I am so tired.  He had it, his brother had it, my husband had it twice and now he has it again.  We cleaned, changed toothbrushes, changed sheets and ran the dishwasher on sanitize again and again.  I guess I need to do that all again.  And it is going around school so all of that may be a lost cause.

Thankfully, usually, they really don’t get sick.  And thankfully I haven’t had it.  Just the normal Chronic Fatigue Syndrome stuff for me.  I was already extra tired today before we got the call from the school nurse.

Here’s hoping we can kick this bug once and for all this time and get some immune system reserves built up.

Now if someone wants to buy me this . . .
Rapid Response Strep-A Test Kit (STR-15S25) RR 25 Strips/Box

Living on the Cheap – Christmas Shopping

Gift

The holidays are upon us. They seem to come earlier and earlier each year. It is easy to get caught up in the frenzy and buys lots and lots of stuff for lots and lots of people. So I am going to share our strategies for doing Christmas Shopping on the cheap.

First, save! If we don’t have the money we don’t buy things! If you haven’t been saving all year, squirrel away what you can now and shop with that.

Decrease your to buy for list. Seems harsh, I know. We only buy for the kids in our family and sometimes something small for our kids friends. We decided adults wouldn’t exchange gifts unless it is something extremely thoughtful, personalized, home made or a service you can perform (like a free house cleaning, carpentry services, etc.). We let our families know a few years back that we would be doing this due to budgetary constraints and that we would appreciate it if they only bought gifts for the kids as well. I know that for a lot of families this is bucking tradition. But our experience has been positive. Our families still usually get each other a little something (they don’t follow instructions well) but the holiday buying has become so much less stressful, less expensive and more thoughtful.

Keep an Amazon wish list throughout the year. This is useful for birthdays as well as Christmas. I keep an Amazon wish list for each person in our family. You can add items from Amazon or from other websites. I add items throughout the year, as I come across them, that I think the kids would like or need, or items they have mentioned wanting. Then when I go to do my shopping I have have a nice list already put together. And I share this list with family when they ask for gift ideas. I also use this list to comparison shop. If I find an item on another website and add it to the Amazon wish list, Amazon will tell me if they stock the item and how much it is. Sometimes they have it cheaper. This helps prevent “panic” buying of random stuff just to have gifts.

Shop all at once. Using my Amazon lists, and knowing my budget, I wait until I have figured out exactly what I want to buy, then go online and make one big order. I often wait until Black Friday or Cyber Monday when I can get some better prices on some of the items I am planning to order anyway. The past few years I have made one Amazon order and one Rainbow Resource order (they have great educational toys, books and small, fun, inexpensive stocking stuffers). I spend enough on each to qualify for free shipping and I end up having the vast majority of my Christmas shopping done all at once.

Thrift store it. We make regular stops at thrift stores and just keep our eyes open for things we need or that would make great gifts. I know some people think buying used items for gifts is tacky but I couldn’t care less. My kids don’t care and you get so much more for your money (and keep things out of landfills) that way. For example, I found them each a t-shirt, one Lego Ninjago and one Angry Birds, at Goodwill the other day and spent less than $5 total.

Craigslist. You know that expensive toy that your kid would love to have? Find it on craigslist. You will pay a lot less for it and as a bonus you won’t have to fight with the stupid packaging that stuff comes in. For example, I have been looking at Nintendo DS and DS Lite prices on Craigslist and have been seeing them for $50-$75 including games, cases, accessories, etc. That is half the retail price, if not less.

Make homemade gifts. If you can sew, build, cook, brew, write, etc. then make gifts. It is a great, inexpensive way to give gifts. Just be sure you keep your material costs low. You can find a ton of great ideas on Pinterest.

Don’t send Christmas cards. Ouch! I know. I really enjoy sending a receiving Christmas cards, but they are just so expensive. And the postage is rediculous. Instead, send a email update letter and Christmas greeting to your friends and family. But still send Grandma a card by regular mail. In years past we have taken what we would have spent on postage a donated to buy chicks through Samaritan’s Purse. A great way to give while saving.

Don’t buy daily deals, lightning deals, etc. My reasoning here is twofold. First I would end up paying so much more for shipping or order more than needed to get free shipping if I shopped these. Second, I can not take the constant bombardment of “you must buy this now”, constant searching for deals, constant shopping. I haven’t found the prices on those deals to be super amazing either. I think it is easier to loose track of your budget with these as well.

These are the strategies I have found work best for me right now. What are your favorite ways to save during the holidays?

Heavy

Life seems to get heavier this time of year. The cold is setting in which makes my bones hurt. So many people I know are struggling. Lost jobs, lost loved ones, lost health, depression. It feels like we are all teetering on the brink. And we are entering the holiday season. A time that to be full of thankfulness, joy and giving. And we are thankful. But that joy is hard to hold on to. Difficult to see through the hardness of life.

I have been learning though. Reading Ann Voskamp’s book One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are has really challenged me to learn to live thankfully despite this hard life. The key to keeping that joy seems to be gratefulness. So easy to lose, so important to regain. If you haven’t read this book I would definitely encourage you to. I listened to it through our library’s website, then checked out the paper copy, then bought it and am reading it again. Maybe I am a slow learner but it is such an important lesson to really learn, deep down, and to practice until I have it. Being thankful, grateful, for all of the little things and big things fills the heart with joy.

Forgive my lack of eloquence. My brain is a jumbled, mushy, mess lately. Just go read Ann Voskamp’s book. She is very eloquent. Check out her blog too. www.aholyexperience.com It is definitely worth adding to your RSS feed.

And if you have time, money and/or gifts to give, do it. If you need someone to give to, let me know. I have friends who really could use a helping hand right now.

How Much Does it Cost?

We sometimes talk about our lives in terms of what things cost us. How much things cost monetarily. How much time an activity costs us. Or how much energy something costs.

As someone with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome the activities of life cost me more energy and brain power than your average person. Say you take a walk around the block. That will cost you some energy but chances are you will bounce back quickly. Whereas a walk around the block will, most likely, put me flat out on the couch for a day or more.

One of the, oh so wonderful, defining symptoms of CFS is Post-Exertional Malaise (PEM). PEM is what I would describe as my body over-reacting to everything I do. Simple activity and my body reacts like I ran a marathon (minus the runners high). Exhaustion, pain and not being able to think straight.

And PEM is not predictable. The same activity may cause me to be exhausted for a few hours one time and flat out on the couch for two days or two weeks other times.

So how much does it cost? This year Trick-or-Treating with my kids has so far cost me 2 1/2 days of recovery. I am having a hard time writing this post because the words aren’t flowing properly.

How much did it cost you?

I don’t really have a point to all of this. Just to open up, inform and encourage everyone to consider that what costs you a little bit of energy might be a big decision for someone else. Just as with money and time, we are all in different places.

For more information on PEM read Post-Exertional Malaise by the CFIDS Association of America.