Just Between Friends Sale Advertised on Gsalr.com!

Just found a great place to list garage sales and consignment sales!

List your garage sale on gsalr.com

Come check us out next week – and check out Gsalr.com!

Paula Dean Said the N Word…

Do not get me wrong – I’ve never been a Paula Dean fan. I’m shocked – shocked I tell you – that a chef from the deep south has used the “n” word and allegedly engaged in other racist behaviors.
That said, I think people need to remember that children grow up believing what their parents believe, and when Paula Dean was a child most people in her world were racist – it was just how it was. They were educated to be racist by the example their parents, teachers, preachers, friends were. It takes time and education to undo that. Over the years our country has made great strides, and the attitudes of people – in the south and elsewhere -are evolving. Thank goodness! The older they are the longer it seems to take.
IMO, I do wonder, though, whether/how we should punish people for things they said 10, 15, 20 years ago – when they were on their journey. Who amongst us has not uttered things they (often immediately, sometimes not for many years later) regret in moments of anger or stupidity? Of course it should be acknowledged – but perhaps the consequences should be tempered with a bit of mercy.
Growing up in NJ I didn’t truly understand how people – otherwise good and kind people -could also be racist until I lived in North Carolina 20 years ago. I saw it, saw it being passed by example from parent to child. It shocked me, but also helped me to see how and why racism thrived in the deep south, and made me a little more tolerant of people on that “evolvement” journey.
I don’t know if Paula Dean is a racist or not, but I do think the best way for us to help people to evolve is not to attack them for what they used to believe, but to continue to encourage them to see the light.

Disney and Club Penguin, Stop Spamming Surveys to my 7 Year-old and Telling Him He Won an iPad 2

Dear Club Penguin,

I am writing to express my extreme displeasure that Club Penguin is offering spammy survey telling Son that he has been chosen a winner, that he can choose in iPad 2 or a $100 Walmart gift card, and when you click on it they want you to complete a survey.

To me this is a disgusting manipulation of children.  My 7 year-old actually thought he won something!  And to get children to even attempt to complete these surveys and the information they might reveal – makes me shudder.

Please immediately cease this type of pop up spam on Club Penguin.  If it continues you will be losing a very loyal fan who will be devastated.



How I Scored an iPod Touch for $135

Just bought an iPod Touch for $130. How?

Target sale price $195, get $25 gift card = $170 (deal good thru Saturday, December 10, 2011).

Less 10% off iPod coupon on Target website = $150.

Less $10 gift card with $50 purchase coupon printed off Facebook = $140.

Less $10 gift card gotten when prescription filled = $130.

Ok, $35 of it I had to use on my next Target purchase. Which I did before leaving the store.

A dandy good deal!


Why I Am a Fan of Consignment Sales – Part 1 – The Discovery

The following is part one of an I-don’t-know-how-many-part series on Consignment Sales.

I didn’t know, driving down the street that day, that I was going to stumble into a new money-making opportunity.  Being a stay-at-home Mom in a single income household, I’m always looking for ways to save money, and make money.

I’m kind of surprised I saw the sign at all.  I tend to be in my own world while driving.  I’m keeping my eye on the road, and my mind is usually busy thinking about what else I need to do that day.  But see the sign I did – the one announcing the Just Between Friends children’s consignment sale coming to our local gymnasium that weekend.

I was intrigued.  I have a kidlet.  I also have lots of stuff the kidlet has outgrown.  I’d been saving it and saving it in hopes G-d would bless us with another child, but in the Fall of 2009 I had recently passed the “if-I’m-not-pregnant-by-the-time-I’m-42…” deadline we’d set for ourselves.  Sadly, the kidlet would be an only child.  Happily, he’s a wonderful, happy child with lots of cousins….

I’d been to consignment stores in the past, with mixed results.  I’d bought a few items after they’d been marked down, and had mixed results consigning items (more about that in my next post).

I obviously didn’t have enough time to consign anything, but I thought it was worth checking out.

I noted the date and time of the sale, and showed up bright and early the first day of the two-day event.  I was disappointed to find out that there was an admission charge for the first day.  I was not going to pay admission (too bad I hadn’t researched the sale on the computer, as they have a printable coupon for the admission right there on their website)!   I was encouraged to come back the next day.  Ordinarily I might have been so irritated by the admission charge that I would never have given them my business, but my annoyance went (mostly) away when I was told that most items would be 50% off the final day.

The next day I wasn’t so bright and early, but I was still pretty overwhelmed with the amount of stuff for sale (now, two years later, the sale has doubled in size!).  I took my time looking around – there was a ton of clothing, toys, strollers, high chairs and other baby paraphernalia, a Mommy Mart (all things for Moms), furniture (cribs to dressers to tables and chairs and even sofas!), toys and books – tons of books!

Everything was very well organized, and the items were of good quality.  The company is serious about not selling junk and will remove anything from the floor that is stained or missing pieces.  There were many, many brand new items, still with tags.

It took me awhile to realize how the half-off sale worked.  Apparently, any tag that had a red star on it stayed full-price.   Anything without a star was half-off.  A lot of people were annoyed, but I would come to realize that this is a really, really good thing for consignors (more on that in the next post, too).

I spent a few hours there.  The longer I was there, the more I was amazed by the amount of stuff going out the door.  By the time I left the toy tables and book section were pretty bare.  Most of the big items were gone.  There were still a ton of clothes, especially for the littlest ones.

At the end of the day I wound up buying a few items of clothing (including a Ralph Lauren button-down shirt for $2, two brand new Abercrombie and Fitch shirts for $4 each, and Gymboree pants for $2!), a couple of toys and a few books.

But I left with more than the items I bought.  I left with a total commitment to consign in the Spring sale (they have them twice a year), and I had mentally begun a list of things to sell.  And I left knowing that Husband would be excited that there’d be a bunch less clutter in the house.

I invite you to check out their website and see if there’s a sale near you.  If you are in South Florida, check out the Jupiter JBF sale going on this weekend at the Calvary Chapel on Indiantown Road.  And the Coral Springs/Boca Raton Just Between Friends Fall Sale is September 23-25th at the Coral Springs Gymnasium on Coral Springs Drive.  Whether you want to consign or just shop, check it out!

*  In case you’re wondering, I do not own any JBF sale (though I’d like to – they are franchises).  I will say, though, that by promoting them I get a little extra (volunteers get an extra % of their sales), and I’m hoping to get more people to attend because the more people that show, the more will buy my stuff. And they’ll get great deals, too! That’s what I call a win-win situation!

Playable Angry Birds Cake a Big Hit at Our Angry Birds Birthday Party!

I haven’t posted here in forever, but I couldn’t resist posting some photos of the Angry Birds cake I did for Son’s birthday.

I was originally planning on taking photos of each step, but it was waaay to messy, and it just didn’t happen.

I made my own marshmallow fondant.  Never having worked with fondant before, I tried the recipe for the first time on a 4th of July cake with good results.  Basically, you just melt marshmallows and knead the result with powdered sugar.  There are a few more steps, so if you’re going to do it do what I did and go to YouTube and do a search for Marshmallow fondant…

I was originally going to make the pigs out of fondant, too, but I found little green marshmallow apples at Walmart, and with a few snips of the scissors and some fondant eyes, ears, noses and eyebrows, I had pigs…

I did make the Angry Birds with the fondant, as well as the Pig King.  He’s special. Photos of them in a moment.

I decided to do three different “scenes”, or “levels”.  Here is an overhead shot…

You can see the entire layout a little better here…

In this first scene there is a base of cake.  I used peanut butter bars from the dollar store for the pillars.  The little brown squares are fondant crates of TNT.  When I was done building it I noticed that the structure was leaning a bit.  I was worried that it would fall over in the several hours between when the cake was done and when we’d sing Happy Birthday, so I wound up using a pretzel rod to keep it from tipping over.  The plan was to remove them right before we sang but I forgot.

The second level was the ice scene.  I had planned to use all fondant to make the pillars, but for some reason they did not harden up overnight.  I wound up using the same peanut butter bars I’d used in level 1 and covering them with white icing, but it was a mess!  I used the fondant pillars here and there, and the squares are fondant ice.

There’s the Pig King hiding in the back, where Son wanted him.  Because it’s the safest place, you know.

I know this is a lousy picture, but I just love how his crown came out, and unfortunately I didn’t get a better shot!

This was my favorite level.  I’ve used these sugar wafers for cake decorating many times in the past, and they are light and easy to use.  And yummy!  There is a stream running under the bridge, with blue jello as the water.  The nest is in the back.  For that I just covered a small round cake with tinted icing, and then stuck pieces of broken pretzel sticks all over the place.  I love the nest!  The eggs were candy-coated chocolate purchased at an after-Easter sale.

And, here are the stars of our cake, the  Angry Birds…

I have to admit, I was pretty proud of how they turned out.  Not bad for a first-timer, huh?

I made a slingshot out of pretzel rods, chocolate, licorice and a flat candy I found at the after-Easter sale.  It was for looks only – we used another slingshot for the interactive part of our evening!

Yes, that’s right.  The kids got to toss the Angry Birds at the cake, completely destroying the levels.

They had so much fun!  And this is how it looked after every kid got to try…


We also did an Angry Bird Egg Hunt.  We used Easter Eggs and filled them with candy.  We also did an Angry Bird toss, where I cut holes in a piece of foamboard, stuck Angry Birds (printed from the Internet) all over it, and the kids enjoyed tossing Angry Birds (little water balls in the shapes of birds I found at the dollar store) through the holes.

The favors were slingshots from the dollar store, along with Peeps I bought for 90% off at the after-Easter sale.  Got to love those after-Easter sales!

If you’re thinking about having an Angry Birds party you do NOT have to make a cake like this.  There are plenty of Angry Bird cake ideas on the internet.   I really just love making what I call cake extravaganzas.  They’re fun to do, and I’m pretty sure my son will remember them fondly.  I know I sure will.

Just Say No to Advertising Your Business via Trick-or-Treaters

I’ve always loved Halloween.

As a child I looked forward to Trick-or-Treating with great anticipation.  I recall the year my Mom made ghost costumes for my sister and I, and there was the year I was Cinderella, complete with one of those horrid plastic masks kept on with the thin string of elastic.  Never mind that the plastic mask with the teeny, tiny eye and breath holes practically suffocated me .  Toss it, you say?  Oh, no.  It was part of my costume, and it was pulled down over my face and pushed up for breaths.  Every ten seconds.  All.  Night.  Long.

The last year I could get away with Trick-or-Treating was the year I turned thirteen.   By then too self-conscious and fearful of being uncool, the only possible costume was a hobo.  Every seventh grader in central Jersey was a hobo that year.  My friends and I made the rounds of my 1000+ apartment complex, finally heading home in triumph with a pillowcase full of candy.

By the next year I was simply too old to go Trick-or-Treating, at least without the censure of the adults opening their doors.  So I talked my neighbor into allowing me to chaperone her three and five year-olds, and I did that for the next three years.

As I got older Halloween became on of the joys of being a parent I most looked forward to.  I would accompany my nephews and my friends’ kids, and dream of someday.

Someday has been here for awhile now, and we’re about to celebrate Son’s sixth Halloween. They’ve all been memorable, terrific.  I’ve loved making his costumes, going to Halloween parties, last year’s parade at school, and Trick-or-Treating with friends.  We are working on costume ideas now, and I’m pretty sure I’m going to have to give up the be-the-cute-thing-Mommy-wants-you-to-be ghost (giving up the ghost – pun intended) in favor of his own choice of a “skeleton zombie”.  Sigh.

Not that Halloween hasn’t had it’s share of disappointments.  When I was very little we’d eat the candy apples and other homemade goodies we got as part of our cache.  Then sick people started putting things like razor blades in apples, so we had to give up those lovingly made treats and start inspecting our candy.

Then there was the bane of the northern childrens’ existence – being forced by our mothers to – gasp! – wear a coat over our costumes!!  Oh, the insanity of it all!

Now there is a relatively new trend that is irking me to no end.

People are advertising their businesses on the backs of Trick-or-Treaters.  There are blog posts all over the blogosphere promoting the practice, and giving suggestions on how to maximize the impact.   Entrepreneurs can attach business cards to candy, give free samples (that no child would give any type of hoot about at all – they just want CANDY!),  links to your blog and coupons.  Coupons for a “free” karate lesson (and afterward the big sell for $120/month lessons), or $5 off your $20 Avon order, or free estimates for pest control!

No one loves a coupon more than I.  And I understand that times are tough.  Finding creative ways to advertise is not only important, but vital to the survival of small business, and the recovery of our economy.

I get it.  I do.

But please don’t do it on the backs of children Trick-or-Treating.  I don’t want to be handed your business card, or invited to sell Herbalife.  I don’t want to think about you or your business while I’m watching my son bask in the glow of praise for his costume,  thank givers politely, and run to catch up to his friends.

I don’t want your business there.  It’s tainting one of the most fun, carefree rites of childhood.  Moving the focus from my child.  Where it’s supposed to be.

Don’t you understand that he’ll be thirty tomorrow?

So, if we are on the receiving end of your solicitation, know that it will end up in the trash, and I will be less likely to patronize your business.  Actually, pretty definitely not likely at all.

And, for the record, I also don’t want to see ads on textbooks, playground equipment, or school buses.  Capisce?


Well, might as well enter a carnival…

Back before I stopped blogging, I would enter posts I like in blog carnivals.  Blog carnivals are kind of like blog magazines, where 10 – 30 or so bloggers submit articles for consideration that are either included or not, and the carnival host chooses their picks as the best that week.  It’s a great way to find a bunch of great posts, and get introduced to new blogs.

The other day I entered my post No One at AmTrust Bank Seems to Know Jack About Their Minimum Balance Policy in the Carnival of Money Stories, hosted at Eventual Millionaire this week.

There are some terrific articles over there, so go check it out!

No One at AmTrust Bank Seems to Know Jack About Their Minimum Balance Policy

This post has a long prologue, so I can catch you up on things since I effectively stopped posting last year.  It’s only a partial summary, but it helps to understand why I was asking about the Minimum Balance Policy in the first place.  For those of you uninterested, skip to “Here’s the meat of the story:”.

I’ve written before about how much I hate bank fees.  And I’ve written about how I use my bank accounts to manage my bills and save money.

A lot has happened since those posts were written, but you may be glad to know that I still use my bank accounts to manage my bills and save money, and I still hate bank fees.  And have had no trouble with both.

But, the economy has affected us all.  It’s been almost a year since pay cut #2.  We’ve moved since then, rented out the townhouse, and are looking for ways for me to make some money to help our bottom line.

August was a particularly tight month, and things are only going to get tighter.  We have a large property tax bill due in November, and there’s Christmas, too.   Plus, in order to keep our wonderful, reliable tenants we had to reduce the rent $100 a month.  Sigh.

As I was paying bills last month, I was very much afraid I’d have to take money out of our Money Market to meet our obligations.  But after collecting some past due fees from a couple of clients, and getting paid $75 to taste butter in a focus group, I was pretty sure I’d make it.  Just.  But I’d likely have to “borrow” a few hundred dollars from the Money Market account, just to be safe.

Except for Husband’s paychecks (which are direct-deposited into checking, I deposit all money into our Statement Savings account.  I don’t keep a great deal of money in there – it’s mostly used as a way station for money on it’s way  to the checking account, our Money Market (which is our long-term liquid savings), or to pay our mortgage).  I got in this habit years ago when I did keep more money in there so that I didn’t have to worry about check holds and could transfer cash into my checking account  after depositing my dark-ages paper paycheck (no direct deposit for them!).

Here’s the meat of the story:

That Statement Savings account now has a $250 minimum balance, which is pretty standard in the industry.  I’ve not given it much thought, but I’ve also been careful never to go below that threshold.  But when paying bills last week I forgot to transfer the “loan” of the extra few hundred dollars from the Money Market to the Statement Savings.  Luckily, I realized this on September 1st – the  day my mortgage is deducted from the account, and the day that my balance would have fallen below the $250 threshold.  And, luckily, it was around lunchtime, well before the end of the business day.  And to make it even more lucky, I realized it when I was on my way to the bank to deposit the rent checks into that account, so it wasn’t in the least inconvenient to handle it.

I was handing the deposit to the teller when I realized I had a few questions.  Would I get charged a service fee for going below the $250 threshold if I made a deposit before the close of that business day?  In other words, if the automatic debit hit my account at 1:15 pm and I made a deposit bringing me over the $250 requirement at 1:20 pm, would I get hit with the charge?  Or is it based on the balance at the end of the day?  I was told that I COULD get charged the fee.  There was no way to know, as it was automated.  Really?

And, what if I deposit checks?  Would the checks I deposited be counted as meeting the minimum balance requirement, even though they were as yet uncollected?  Does the bank give the client the benefit of the doubt in the limited scope of meeting the account’s minimum balance requirement?

If the check deposit I was making would suffice, I wouldn’t need to transfer cash from the Money Market.  But if I was required to keep an available balance of $250 – not simply a balance of $250, then the transfer would be necessary.

The teller, when asked, told me the balance had to be available.  That didn’t make sense to me, as it would seem that the bank would say what they mean and mean what they say, and I was pretty sure the word “available” was nowhere in this particular part of their fee disclosures.  I seemed to remember words that go something like “must maintain a minimum balance of $250…”, NOT “must maintain a minimum available balance of $250…”.

So, I asked very politely where it was written that we had to maintain the minimum available balance.  I wanted to know not only so I could know whether or not I needed to transfer money, but also because I thought it very important that THEY should know.

The teller called the manager, who tried to be helpful, and  recommended that I was “better safe than sorry.”  She offered to deposit one of my checks without a hold, effectively removing the necessity for me to transfer any money.

Very nice of her, and completely unnecessary, because the answer was much more important that my particular situation – which would have been easily taken care of regardless.  The offer of the one-time accommodation meant that the manager didn’t know the answer, either.  And I was never shown the disclosure, even though I’d asked twice.

Both the manager and  the teller seemed perplexed that I really, truly wanted an answer to these questions.  I was not angry, I was not belligerent.  I was quite pleasant as I explained that I felt it was important to get the answers, so I would know.  And they would know.

Seeing a long line, I assured them that they didn’t need to find out right that second.  I would welcome a phone call later, once they received an answer, most particularly to the question:  Is it minimum balance of $250, or minimum available balance of $250?

I did receive a call back from the teller near the end of the day.  She told me that it was available balance.  I asked, again, to see where that was written.  She hemmed and hawed for a few moments, and wound up telling me that she spoke to several people and they all indicated available balance, but they didn’t really know.  And, frankly, didn’t seem all that eager to find out.

How can they not know?!?!?!?    Someone must know!

So, now, I must find the answer.  I am off to the Consumerist, and  to try to find some bigwig AmTrust email addresses.

And I’m asking you, my dear, neglected friends.  Do let me know if you know, if you know someone who knows, and/or if you agree with me that it’s important to know.

Deal of the Day September 4, 2010 – VitaTops Coupon Code


Those of you on Weight Watchers may be aware of the low-point masterpiece that is VitaTops.  They are currently offering a coupon code for 10% off.  Enter MMMYY3QyQ at checkout for the discount.

Special thanks to new blogger Helter Svelter, who found this deal!

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