To keep or to purge, that is the question

To Keep or To Purge - 5 Questions to Ask

I’m over at The Art of Simple today sharing the 5 questions I’ve been using to purge 30 boxes worth of stuff from our house. From the post:

I will fondly remember the summer of 2014 as a season of purging. Just off three moves in three years and finally settled into a more permanent home, I’m finally ready to sell, donate, and gift many of the possessions I’ve carefully stored.

I was so determined to simplify that I literally went through every item that came through the door. Each one was evaluated with a few mental questions to decide whether or not it would stay.

Come on over and visit to read the rest!

 

Tear-Free Hair Care for Curly Haired Kids

Tear Free Hair Care for the Curly-Haired Kid

I have cursed (under my breath) on more than one occasion while combing my daughter’s hair. My 7 year old has a beautiful head of curls but it took a few years to figure out the right arsenal of tools to make it look adorable and keep tears out of the process. This is what works for us:

Ditch the Shampoo

I haven’t used shampoo on my own curly hair in several years.  When I started employing this method on my daughter’s hair, it made a HUGE difference. She wets her hair, scrubs in some conditioner and rinses. She swims every day in the summer and we still only use conditioner.

If I only used one method, no-shampoo would be the one. Try it on your own curly haired kid, you might thank me.

Use Detangler

I’ve tried several hair detanglers and I always go back to this detangler. No phthalates, parabens or yucky smells.  It also holds the curl just enough that I don’t need to use any styling products.

Get a Genie

This is the only thing my daughter will let me run through her hair. I honestly can’t tell you what makes the Knot Genie Detangling Brush so special. It doesn’t have a handle so you hold it in the palm of your hand. I no longer comb from the bottom up, I stick it right at the top of her head and comb down. I’m still gentle, of course, but it doesn’t pull like a traditional comb or brush might. And it gets the knots out!

My daughter even combs her own hair with the Knot Genie and I’ll use it straight out of the shower myself. It goes with us every time we travel. Definitely worth the $9.

Between Washes

A few ideas for keeping hair manageable between conditioning. I often put my daughter’s hair right into ponytails or braids out of the shower. This mellows the curls a bit and allows me to easily style her hair in the morning until we condition again.

If she wears her hair down, I will braid it at night to keep her from tangling it up while she tosses and turns during sleep. Then I just take the braid(s) out, spritz it with water or detangler and lightly comb through the curls.

Trim It

When the knots start becoming unmanageable or tears become the norm, I know it’s time for a haircut. That happens about every three months. And if you don’t have curly hair yourself, I’ll let you in on a secret: layers are curly hair’s best friend. Save your kid from having a mushroom on their head. I’ve been there, done that, got the t-shirt and I’m not going back!

Share your own tips for managing curly hair. We can use all the help we can get, right?
 

17 Simple Tips for a (Very) Successful Garage Sale

7 simple tips for a VERY successful garage sale

photo credit

I’ve had a lot of garage sales over the last 15 years but none as successful as the last two. We made over $1000 each time and are gearing up for another one in June. Here’s a few tips that I believe helped us get there.

Prepare

1. As I organize and get rid of clutter, I add all the unneeded items to boxes labeled ‘garage sale’ knowing that we will probably have enough accumulated by the following spring for a garage sale.

2. For a month or two before your sale, save paper and plastic shopping bags to  use for shoppers that purchase multiple items.

Location

3. We have always lived in centrally located neighborhoods making it easy to hold a garage sale. If you don’t, you may find a family member or friend that wants to join you to host at their centrally located house. The more traffic nearby, the better.

Timing

4. I like to hold our garage sales on a sunny weekend in the late spring right before school gets out because we typically have a lot of moms stopping by while their older children are in school.  Find out if your neighborhood or local area has an annual garage sale, it may be worth scheduling your sale then because of the additional traffic.

5. I’ve found Friday to be a FAR better day for a garage sale than Saturday and both are better than a Sunday. We sell 2x as much on Friday as we do on Saturday. In some cities, I understand that Thursday is garage sale day. Either way, ask around to see what weekday is the garage sale day and then follow it up with a second day.

6. We start at 8am and typically stay ‘open’ until 5pm on Friday and then close early on Saturday, around 1 or 2pm, so we can enjoy the weekend.

16 garage sale tips to make hundreds (thousands) at our next garage sale

Merchandising

7. Beg, borrow and steal as many tables as you need. We also clean off one of the garage shelves and wheel it out to use for the sale. A great layout makes a big difference. Some people will not dig through piles of clothing or books so make it easy for them to see everything. Here’s a few suggestions on how to display what’s for sale:

  • Designate a table for each type of item: kitchen, household, toys, home decor, tools, etc.
  • Clothing : divide by men, women, boys and girls and HANG UP as much as you can. For what you cannot hang, lay out a tarp or blanket and organize the clothing there.
  • Books : I use baskets or tubs to organize books by adult vs. children and stand them all up so it’s easy to flip through each one
  • Toys : divide by boys vs. girls, where its obvious, and group by type of toy (if you have that many)
  • Jewelry and small, expensive items : keep them near the ‘checkout’ area where it’s easy to keep an eye on them (sadly, I have had a few pieces taken without pay)

8. Make sure everything you are in selling is in clean and working condition. Wash your clothes and fold them neatly. Wipe down anything dusty. Have batteries or an electrical plugin nearby to show that electronics and toys work

9. Put all of your big items out by the curb, they will encourage people to stop to see what else you have.

10. Gather all the cheap toys (i.e. Happy Meal toys, Dollar Store stuff) and anything else that you don’t think is worth even a quarter and put it into a box labeled FREE. Sit it on the curb at the front of the sale so anyone driving by can see it. You would be surprised how many people stop just to look in the box. It’s also a great place to keep kids busy while moms are shopping  your sale.

Pricing

11. Here is my primary pricing philosophy: I would rather sell it for half price and have cash in hand than haul it to Goodwill the next day. That being said, here’s a few ideas for pricing your items:

  • Price EVERYTHING. People do not want to ask for the price. Even if you just put up simple signs such as “All books are 50 cents”, price EVERYTHING
  • People that shop garage sales are looking for a deal.  If you’ve never shopped one,  you might want to visit several so you can get an idea of pricing in your area.

12. On the last day of your sale, designate the last couple hours to sell everything 1/2 off.  If there are a few items you are not willing to go that low on, just put them off to the side.

great tips for my next garage sale

Advertise

13. Starting 2-3 days before your sale, advertise in as many places as possible.  In the listing, make sure to have:

  • Dates AND days, times and address
  • A list of large and popular items (i.e. lawn mower, couch, table, bike)
  • Highlight anything you have a lot of such as baby clothing, books, tools or anything collectible or vintage

14. Here’s several ideas for free advertising:

  • Craigslist.org : choose your city/area and post under the garage sale category
  • Facebook : search for local groups such as ‘swap’ or ‘garage sale’ or ‘resale’
  • Garage Sale Finder
  • Yard Sale Search
  • GSALR
  • Local newspaper : your newspaper may have a free online listing for garage sales
  • Yard Sale Treasure Map : this app allows you to post your sale and find others nearby

15. Head to the local Dollar Store to buy signs or brightly colored poster board.  Make A LOT of signs and post them at all intersections within a mile of your home.  Many people will be driving through your area, see your sign and try to find your sale so make sure your signs lead directly to the sale whether the driver has your address or not.

16. Make sure to use all the same posters (or poster color) so the driver knows they are following the signs to the same garage sale. Use a thick BLACK market and put the DAYS (not dates), times, address and a HUGE ARROW on each sign so the driver can quickly see which direction to head.

Extra Cash

17. A great way to earn a few extra bucks or give your children an opportunity to be an entrepreneur is to set up a lemonade or baked goods stand. Other things to sell:

  • coffee and hot chocolate
  • donuts and breakfast goods
  • lemonade and iced tea
  • brownies and cookies
  • bottled water
  • popsicles and popcorn
What other tips can you share for a successful garage sale?
 

2014 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides on Produce

2014 Shopper's Guide to Pesticides on Produce

Last month, the EWG released their updated shopper’s guide to pesticides in conventional (not organic) produce. The Clean 15 are the top 15 fruits and vegetables the EWG states are the least likely to test positive for pesticide residues.  The Dirty Dozen Plus are the most contaminated conventional fruits and vegetables – those to be avoided.

What to know

  • The majority of pesticide exposure comes from the food you eat. At least 65% of the conventional produce samples tested had at least one pesticide.
  • In 2014, the USDA detected 10 different pesticides on at least 5 percent of 777 samples of peach baby food sold in the U.S. The USDA found six pesticides in apple juice, a staple of many children’s diets.
  • The US has thus far not followed Europe’s lead in banning toxic pesticide chemicals. The European Commission has banned diphenylamine, DPA for short, on fruit raised in the 28 European Union member states and has imposed tight restrictions on imported fruit. DPA, a growth regulator and antioxidant, is applied after harvest to most apples conventionally grown in the U.S. and to some U.S.-grown pears, to prevent the fruit skin from discoloring during months of cold storage.
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics issued an important report in 2012 stating that children have:

 ”unique susceptibilities to [pesticide residues'] potential toxicity.” The pediatricians’ organization cited research that linked pesticide exposures in early life and “pediatric cancers, decreased cognitive function, and behavioral problems.” It advised its members to urge parents to consult “reliable resources that provide information on the relative pesticide content of various fruits and vegetables.”

Clean Fifteen Highlights

  • Avocados were the cleanest: only 1 percent of avocado samples showed any detectable pesticides.
  • Some 89 percent of pineapples, 82 percent of kiwi, 80 percent of papayas, 88 percent of mango and 61 percent of cantaloupe had no residues.
  • No single fruit sample from the Clean Fifteen™ tested positive for more than 4 types of pesticides.
  • Detecting multiple pesticide residues is extremely rare on Clean Fifteen™ vegetables. Only 5.5 percent of Clean Fifteen samples had two or more pesticides.

2014 Shopper's Guide to Pesticides on Produce

Dirty Dozen Highlights

  • Every sample of imported nectarines and 99 percent of apple samples tested positive for at least one pesticide residue.
  • The average potato had more pesticides by weight than any other food.
  • A single grape sample contained 15 pesticides. Single samples of celery, cherry tomatoes, imported snap peas and strawberries showed 13 different pesticides apiece.

How to use the Shopper’s Guide

Don’t stop eating fruits and vegetables, use the guide to reduce your exposure to pesticides:

  • Choose organic produce when you can afford it.

Studies led by Chensheng (Alex) Lu of Emory University found that elementary school-age children’s body burdens of organophosphate pesticides, including chlorpyrifos and malathion, peaked during the summer, when they ate the most fresh produce. But just five days after switching to an all-organic diet, their bodies were essentially pesticide-free.

  • If you can’t afford 100% organic produce, choose conventional for the Clean 15 and organic for the Dirty Dozen Plus. This is mostly what my family does.
  • Always wash your fruit before eating.  Note these tests were done after washing and peeling so if you don’t do that, you are potentially ingesting even more pesticide residue.

tip iconWant to have the list handy while shopping? Download the FREE Dirty Dozen app for iPhone.

 

15 Gift Ideas for a Green Mom

15 gift ideas for the green and natural mom

Mother’s Day is just a week away but I’m always in need of a few ideas for my birthday and holiday wish lists so I’m sharing them here.

Gifts Under $50

A gift card from Etsy :: I will always and forever be able to spend money on Etsy for lovely, handmade items. You can never go wrong with an Etsy gift card.  Plus it comes via email, no paper waste.

Jewelry that gives back :: I am smitten with the beautiful jewelry from the Noonday Collection. Each piece is carefully made by a woman in Ethiopia, Ecuador or Uganda and helps to restore their communities and provide business opportunities.

teapotJapanese teapot :: I recently enjoyed the best cup of tea made from loose leaf tea and realized what I’ve been missing out on by using teabags. I’d really like to have this glass Japanese teapot to start making my own at home.

Homemade and Natural Spa Kit :: How fun would it be to get all the ingredients to make this natural spa kit to treat myself at home? It also comes with beautiful printable labels.

Organic and fair trade chocolates :: Don’t gloss over this one because you can’t stand the thought of paying $2 for a candy bar. <Or is that only me?> My friend, Tsh, wrote a compelling argument for why we should be buying fair trade chocolate. I’m a chocaholic so I’m dying to try one of these yummy brands: AlterEco, Green & Black’s or Divine Chocolate.  (Tsh mentions many more brands in her post).

15 Gift Ideas for a Green Mom

 

Natural nail care :: I love to keep my toes painted year round and have my eye on these SCOTCH natural nail polishes. They aren’t inexpensive for nail polish but a bottle or two with non-toxic nail polish remover would be the perfect gift.

 

Books :: These are the books on my spring wish list. The Backyard Homestead: Product the Food You Need on a Quarter Acre gets fantastic reviews and seems doable on a smaller scale. Food in Jars: Preserving in Small Batches sounds perfect for my own small backyard garden.  I also wouldn’t mind having the bible of preserving books, Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving.  I’ve recently discovered this author’s blog and would like to read several of his books starting with Clutterfree with Kids.

Gifts Under $100

french market basketFrench market basket :: I have wanted one of these market baskets for ages. They seem so quintessential French and would be perfect for our trips to the farmer’s market.

A garden at home :: We’re moving into a new-to-us home soon and all I want for Christmas are big garden beds. DIY inspiration here or for the non-DIY type, Williams Sonoma has some beautiful raised beds for purchase.  Another idea in this category? A gift card to a local garden store, the perfect spring time gift.

Organic spa treatment :: A facial is my favorite way to spend an hour at the spa. Silky, smooth skin, luscious amounts of vitamin infused moisturizer and a head massage. I instantly feel 10 years younger.

Preserving kit or dehydrator :: It will soon be the perfect time for preserving the summer’s bounty. I generally can items for the freezer but would like to learn how to use a waterbath canner.  I would also like to get a simple dehydrator to make easy and healthy snacks.

Gifts Over $100

A CSA membership :: Community supported agriculture is such a great way to support our local farmers and get a box of ultra fresh produce each week. We have several local CSA’s and I would love to participate this year. Find your local CSA here.

le creusetAnything from Le Creuset :: I’ve been transitioning our cooking out of a myriad of non stick pans to just a few pieces of cookware from Le Creuset. Sure, it’s not inexpensive but Le Creuset is the brand you can pass on to your kids. I can put my money behind that type of quality.

A cruiser bike :: I just want to button on a cute bike basket and ride this bike to the farmer’s market, like tomorrow. You, too?

Compost bin :: This is what I’m getting for Mother’s Day this year. I came across it yesterday and it was love at first sight.  Compact, portable, dual bins and an oversize lid for removing compost easily. LOVE. (hint: it’s about $20 less at the store)