Thursday, June 27, 2013

Little Nugget Turns One

I'm slowly sharing about the five things I discovered while away from my blog the last 3 months.  So far, I've written about how paint transformed our home, that I am now a fan of garage sales, and the books I read over the last few months.

What I am most excited to share is that my little nugget (Haven Joy) turned one! 

How does this fact coincide with learning?  Well, I must say that her party was VASTLY different than the first birthday party that I threw Selah.  If you have never read about the disaster that was her first birthday you can do so here, but suffice it to say - I tried to be SUPER mom and failed miserably. 

With Selah I spent months scouring Pinterest and I did my best to show the world that I was a success as a new mom.  In essence, Selah's party became an exercise in trying to show off my mothering prowess and it was not until I burned the food, found my pinterest crafts falling apart, and had the disposal back up that I finally gave up and remembered that the day was not about me at all.  It was a day to celebrate the bundle of joy who had completely wrecked my life (in all the good ways).

With this lesson stilled seared in my brain, I determined to keep Haven's soiree low key (also, I kind of forgot that her birthday was coming until we were less than 2 weeks out- sorry, second child).  So, what I learned while I was away is that you can still have a great (even cutesy/Pinterest worthy) party without the undue stress that I find far too many mothers placing upon themselves.

Here is what we did to celebrate little nugget's special day:

Simple Table Decor focusing on the Little Nugget
 I decided to have a cook-out and decorate with a picnic motif.  Why?  Because I had most of the decorations and because we were in fact just doing a simply family cook-out to celebrate.  I honestly spent less than $20 on decorations & some fun things for the bigger cousins to do.  The Dollar Store was my best friend - I purchased all paper goods, the plastic table cloth that I used as a runner, and picnic gear!

I decided to purchase bubbles for the bigger cousins to play with and the girls had fun blowing and chasing the bubbles around the yard.

 I didn't worry about any other type of entertainment - we just laid out quilts, let the children squeal as they chased one another in the yard, and chatted over juicy burgers and hot dogs - simple.  I'm learning that I like simple.

The only thing that I did spend time on was the cake.  I had just watch The Pioneer Woman make the most delicious looking cake on her show (can you say Nutella, Chocolate and Strawberries), and I determined that I must give it a try.  I have to confess that I was PROUD of myself when I finished this beauty.

However, by the time the party started the whipped cream has partially melted so my creation was less than stellar...but that's okay!

I also learned that I'm quite expressive when celebrating my little nugget.

And by "expressive" I mean frightening
And then the main event occurred.  We stripped down the baby and let her have some cake.

It was a special evening, a night filled with laughter, great food, the toothy grin of our sweet Haven girl.  Happy Birthday Haven Joy!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Reading Love and My Summer Reading List - More of What I've Learned While Away from Blogging

While I was on my break from blogging, I was falling in love again with reading.  Since I was a young girl I have loved to read (In fact, my parents have a great story about grounding me from my books when I was was devastating to my little life).

My love affair with books has had highs and lows, with seasons where I consume fiction and seasons where I trudge through books of theology both loving and hating the work.  I have had seasons where I read book after book voraciously and then there are the recent seasons in which I read more slowly. 
For the last couple of years I have read more slowly because I have put rules on myself when it comes to reading.  I have told myself I MUST finish every book on my night stand before I can move on to another book, and you know what?  Sometimes I just don't like a book and so I don't want to finish it!

Well, while I was on my blog break I decided it was time to read whatever my heart fancied.  No more rules, no more guilt about the unread books piling up around my house.  I was going to fall in love again with reading...and I did just that!

Here is what I've read over the last couple months:
The Year of Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans.  I have been a long time reader of Rachel's blog - sometimes giving her a fist pump in whole hearted agreement and other times completely disagreeing with her opinions.  As I've read her blog, I realized I really like Rachel.  I wish I could be as open and opinionated without the fear of retribution that she receives on her blog.  So, when I read about her book, I was immediately intrigued and bought it for my phone (yes, sometimes I read on my phone).  Rachel takes a year of her life to literally live out what the Bible says about being a woman (she even lives in a tent one month during her period to uphold the Old Testament laws about living seperate when "unclean").  To me, the book was humorous, insightful, and I was surprised at the humility of Rachel as well as the beautiful lessons God taught her on this journey.

Interrupted by Jen Hatmaker.  Jen has gotten quite a bit of buzz recently on the internet, and it is about time.  This lady is hilarious, honest, and not afraid to tell the world how it is.  Interrupted is the story of God's abrupt interruption in her and her husband's life in which they begin to ask big questions about church and whether or not Christians are really living a life that reaches those who are often forgotten.  This book convicted me and stirred me and I probably need to reread it.

Assaulted by Joy: The Redemption of a Cynic by Stephen Simpson.  This memoir is one that I picked up for 50 cents at a book sale, and one day I just felt drawn to read it.  It is a memoir of a self-described jerk and his journey to finding joy.  Spoiler alert - his wife ends up having QUADRUPLETS...and that just bascially brings him to his knees and to some beautiful realities about joy.

Sparkly Green Earrings by Melanie Shankle.  Loved this story of Melanie becoming a mother to Caroline.  Melanie told story about story about the crazy and sweet moments that come with motherhood.  This is a great book for any mother to read.  You will relate, laugh, and relate some more!

Love the One You are With by Emily Giffin and The French Gardener by Santa Montefiore - these are a couple of fiction books I read over the last few months that were kind of mindless.  The best thing I can say about these two is that The French Gardener inspired me to start working in my yard, which I needed to do desperately!

Obviously, I like to read memoirs & personal stories! 

In the last week I have had a few people ask for suggestions of what to read this summer.  Not sure what you are in the mood for, but I thought I'd let you know what I'm planning on reading this summer!

Jesus, the CIA, My Father and Me by Ian Morgan Cron.  I'm actually almost finished with this and I have loved it. 

Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg.  I have read several suggested reading lists by women I admire and this book is almost always listed.  Josh actually bought me this book over a month ago and encouraged me to read it.  I'm planning on focusing on it while in Europe in July.

Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brene Brow.  I feel like everytime I turn around or troll the internet someone is talking about the brilliance of Brene Brown.  I need to be more vulnerable, so can't wait to read this one!

Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist.  I read Shauna's blog and she inspires me.  Josh and I have been talking lately about how we need to open our table more often and have people really become community in our lives.  I feel like this book with give me the kick in the pants and the encouragement to do just that.

Paul's Letter to the Philippians (New International Commentary) by Gordon Fee.  In the last six months I have been drawn to Philippians like a moth to a flame.  It has always held a special place in my heart, but as I dig in more to the gold in this book, I just want to know more.  I respect Gordon Fee, and I love a good commentary so this was an easy choice for me.

Persuasion by Jane Austen. I love Jane Austen.  I have since my junior year in high school, and most who know me would guess that Pride and Prejudice is my favorite Austen book.  As I get older, Persuasion is now my favorite.  It is more subtle and yet the ending is exhilarating and will make you swoon!  If you have never read this lesser known Austen masterpiece you should read it this summer.  I always read one Austen novel a summer, and this year it will be Persuasion.

How about you?  What is on your list to read this summer?

Monday, June 10, 2013

10 Tips for a Successful Garage Sale - What I've Learned While Taking a Blog Break

I've been quiet on the blog for the past 3 months, but I'm back and sharing a few things that I've learned while away.  I first shared about how Paint Transformed My Life and today I want to tell you about something else I have is a secret: 

I am a Garage Sale Rock Star (and I believe you can be one too)
Growing up I helped my mom with multiple garage sales and I LOATHED them.  In almost 13 years of marriage Josh and I have never attempted to do one - I was scared!  When I thought of garage sales I pictured unnecessary haggling (you know, someone offering you 10 cents for something that is only a quarter to begin's a QUARTER people!)  I also envisioned massive amounts of work with little pay-off, and so everytime over the last 13 years that the thought of a garage sale crept into my mind, I would immediately pack up our junk and just give it away.

However, since we are taking our family of 4 to Europe this summer for missions we have been looking for anyway possible to make some extra money (*cough - Josh's singing telegrams).  I decided a garage sale was in order and we had 4 families donate to our cause.  We had a massive amount of junk...and some good stuff too.  But it was worth it because at the end of 3 hard days of work, we made over $2,000!

I've had a couple people ask me if I have any tips for a successful garage sale after this, and although it may have been an absolute fluke, I feel like I did learn some things that ended up making this venture successful.  So here are my 10 tips to becoming a Garage Sale Rock Star (take them for what they are worth - about 10 cents):

1.  Ask rich friends to donate stuff to your sale ;)
I'm only half joking here.  People in the US have too much stuff and many people would happily give you their junk if you simply asked.  We asked only a handful of people and everyone we asked was happy to donate!  We offered to pick up their donated items, and for many of them they saw this as a way to bless us AND they got rid of items like a life size Pluto stuffed animal - it was a win-win for everyone!

2. The High-Low Pricing Game 
(Price Items to Sell BUT Also Price Slightly Above What You Want)
People want to feel like they are getting a deal at a garage sale, so items should be priced cheaply.  HOWEVER, people also want to feel like they worked to get that deal and will almost always ask you to come down on your price.  Therefore, there is a fine line in pricing.  As I priced items I would ask myself what the minimum I wanted for the item (so that I could keep it cheap), and then I would price it slightly higher.

For instance, if I wanted $5 for an item I would price it at $7 or $8.  This gave me room to negotiate and I didn't start the day off frustrated that I wasn't making what I felt was a fair price.

We let Selah keep $1 of her profits and went to the dollar store
3.  Let Your Kids Join in the Fun
We talked up the garage sale to Selah for weeks and she decided that she wanted to have a cookie/lemonade stand.  She was quite the sales girl too!  Starting at 8am she asked almost every person who came into our yard if they would like to buy a cookie...and who can say no to this face?

Needless to say, we SOLD OUT of cookies at 11am on Friday...and she had a blast while making a little extra cash.

4.  Use Social Media 
The power of Facebook and Twitter really is amazing in situations like this.  We probably sold over $500 worth of stuff to friends and acquaintances via facebook.  I made an album of pictures and posted them to facebook the night before our sale.  Before we opened our garage doors on Friday morning we had reserved 5 items for friends and several others were requesting our address to come check out our wares for themselves.

So don't be afraid to use social media to highlight your garage sale.  Your stuff could be just what a friend has been searching for, AND it makes the day more fun as friends pop by to see what you have for sale!

5.   Choose the Date for your Sale Wisely
We had our Garage Sale the Friday & Saturday of Memorial Day Weekend.  I initially thought this was going to be a poor decision, but after speaking with several of our garage sale patrons who frequent garage sales, I discovered that this ended up in our benefit.  There were very few who had garage sales this weekend and so we had little competition.  This was a fluke for us...but I do think that choosing your date wisely is important.

Think about when pay day falls each month...
Think about the weather...

And consider opening your sale for Friday and Saturday.  We had an excellent crowd come by on Friday morning - people who came with a purpose.

6.  Write a Great Ad 
I started calling our garage sale "The EPIC Garage Sale" a couple of weeks before it ever occurred.  I was trying to psyche myself up for this giant task that I was inwardly dreading so I kept calling it epic to try and make it sound fun and important.  Because it was in my mind, we used the word Epic in all of our ads.  It was silly really...but I had numerous people come by and say - "Is THIS the EPIC Garage Sale?"

Words like giant or big or multi-family are used often so try using an adjective that is out of the ordinary and perhaps you will hook a few more buyers who are intrigued by your creativity.

The rest of our ad was just a list of items we had for sale.  No fancy sentences or flowery statements, just a straight forward list (furniture, electronics, home decor, children's items, stroller, rugs, grill, sporting equipment, etc).

7.  Display Items Well
Sorting through piles...
I learned this from an HGTV show - display items so that they look their best.  I am kicking myself that I deleted these pictures, but I displayed my rugs nicely, sat chairs and a side table on them, and over and over people stopped to take a closer look because they could picture those items in a house.  I also tried to categorize items so that as you walked around the garage you could see all the home decor in one place, all the sports equipment in one place (I actually called it the section of Good Intentions), etc.

Lastly, we set out the items that we felt would draw people to the sale in the driveway close to the road.  So, as people drove past they could see furniture, our grill, a child's play table, etc.  "If you TEMPT them they will come."

8.  Keep Your Eyes on Valuable Small Items
We had two small electronics stolen during our sale and it almost ruined the sale for me.  I was mad at myself because I had intended to keep an eye on these gems.  BUT, with over 20 people in our garage, wearing Haven in a baby carrier, and helping Selah to pour lemonade, there was a good hour when I lost track and found myself looking up to realize a video camera and digital camera were gone.  UGH!

So, come up with a plan.  Have family or friends help out and just keep an eye on small valuables.

9.  Close Early & Make Final Deals
There is no sense in staying open until 6pm if the crowds disappear at 2pm.  End on a winning note and try to avoid exhaustion.  Most garage sale shoppers know to get there early so your best opportunity to make a profit is in the morning.  As your crowd disappears (especially on Friday) don't be afraid to close down at 1 or 2pm (remember, you still have another day to sell and you will need your energy). 

On Saturday as the day progresses start slashing prices and let everyone know that you will make them a deal.  We wanted to empty as much of our merchandise as possible so we made some killer deals at 1pm on Saturday.  It felt good to wrap things up by making sales of $50 and watching as people loaded our stuff into their cars.

10.  Let People Know Your Story and Listen to Theirs
We had a few conversations over the course of two days that helped us to let go of a few items that had sentimental value.  In fact, we had one conversation with a family from Czech Republic who ended up purchasing a desk from us.  We listened to their story of moving to America and their dilemma in trying to find any furniture with a European flare.  We also got to share about our trip to Czech Republic and we made a brief connection right there in the garage.  

I sold some baby stuff to a new mother and we connected over stories of sleepless nights and new born smiles.  I actually concluded the weekend with a new appreciation of connecting with others in my community - I met a widow who lives five houses down and yet who always stays behind her closed door.  Josh talked business with a few who came through our garage, and this sale...that I was woefully dreading became a weekend of small conversations that left me grateful to live in a city like Lubbock.

So those are my 10 tips from our garage to yours!  And perhaps the best tip of all - Give Thanks!  Whether you make $2,000 or $200 - people are buying your things that you no longer want.  So, choose a weekend, sort through your junk, get some friends to donate to your cause, and have fun meeting new people!  I hope at the end of your next garage sale you too feel like a Garage Sale Rock Star!

Friday, June 7, 2013

What I've Learned While I've Been on a Blog Break - Paint Is Your Friend

Well hello, Becoming Paige!  I've been gone for far too long...unsure of why exactly - just busy with the ordinary and allowing writing to slip a place of priority in my life.  But I'm back, and I thought I'd share a few things I've learned over the last 3 months!

I was going to make this one post, but it has become so long (apparently I've learned a lot over the last 3 months) that I've decided to make this a 5 part series...and I've actually written all 5 parts so come back later this week for more that I've learned.

Now, to the first thing I've learned: 

1.  Paint Can Totally Transform a Space
If you have ever visited my house you know that it is covered (wall to wall and ceilings too) with wood paneling.  When I first moved in I loved the wood - it was beautiful real wood (not cheap paneling) and the house had the ambiance of a lodge or cabin.  I would welcome people to "The Lodge" when anyone came to visit and I was happy and cozy in my cabin-like atmosphere...


I had Haven.  I'm not sure what happened with the second baby.  Maybe it was the hormones or maybe it was that we now had another person in The Lodge...but for whatever reason, the wood no longer felt homey - it felt clausterphobic.  Some days I felt like the walls were closing in on me and so I began dreaming of painting everything white.

My dream became a reality - thanks in large part to a wonderful couple - Gayle & Kay Whitten, and I AM IN LOVE!  I love my home again.  It now feels like a beach bungalow.  It is white and bright and feels LARGE!  I think the pictures speak for themselves.





Mr. Whitten in the midst of sanding (for over 8 hours)!!!!
Can you see why I'm giddy?!  So, before I move to the next thing I've learned I want to say a GIGANTIC thank you to Gayle & Kay Whitten.  It ended up becoming a difficult project even for these professional painters & you should come feel my walls - they are perfection - like butter!

If you need a true transformation in your home, perhaps you should consider paint!  I've kept all my decor & furniture in the living room, but the pain has inspired me to rearrange, purge and redecorate - it's been fun!

That is my first lesson while I was away!  Next up....the secrets to a phenomenal garage sale!  Have a great weekend
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