1. Made a vase arrangement for the table using lilies and ferns from the garden.
2. Harvested over five quarts of berries, 1 quart of green beans, lettuce and chamomile from the garden. I also harvested a bowl of Japanese beetles for my chickens.
In order to hand-pick the beetles, fill a container 75% full of water and add a drop of dish soap. Then go out early in the morning when the bugs are still sleeping. My beetles LOVE the raspberry patch, so that is where I collect. If they are still tired, you can usually brush or shake the bugs off into the bowl of water. After collecting, I leave the bugs for an hour or two until I know they have all died. Then I feed them to the chickens.
This accomplishes two things. First it gets the bugs off the raspberries without any chemicals, and second it feeds the chickens a nice protein-filled snack. It only takes 15-20 minutes in the morning to do this.
3. Mounted/framed some paintings from Honduras and Guatemala. Hubs measured and built frames for the paintings out of scrap lumber, and then I helped him stretch and staple the canvas over each frame. They turned out very nice.
5. Went to garage sales! I ended up spending about $48.00, but $24.00 of that was on canning jars. I paid $0.33 on the jars, which were half-pint and pint sized. This price was only 50% off retail for the normal half-pints that I bought, but I also purchased an equal amount of specialty jars that cost $1.00 or more new. So those jars were 75%+ off retail. I will use the specialty jars for farmers market stuff and gifts.
In addition to the jars, I also bought some vintage items for selling on Ebay/Etsy, several candles, lamp oil, an electricity timer, a belt, two baskets, a like-new pair of flip flops, a spatula, three small rubbermaid food containers with lids (I needed more of that size, plus they had lids!), a necklace, a clothes drying rack, a dish drainer (the one I have doesn't fit in the sink and takes up a lot of counter space when not in use), a pizza pan, two cookie sheets, brand new heart-shaped cookie cutters, baby-themed stamps for making cards, a lined notebook/journal, a folder/binder for storing coupons, a box of sewing notions (thread, buttons, snaps, velcro, etc.) and several items for the "prize box" I keep for my piano students.
My Garage Sale Strategy
It can be easy to just fill your house with garage sale junk. However, there are some things you can do to prevent useless garage sale buildup in your home.
1) Carefully select housewares for the purpose of upgrading your lifestyle. These things should be specific items you are looking for, not impulse purchases. For example, I don't go around collecting dish drainers. I had my eye on one at Walmart, and actually considered buying it. However, by waiting for a garage sale I saved about 70% retail price.
2) Buy tools that you will use to make stuff or save money with. The stampers, clothes drying rack and meat slicer are all things I hope to save money by using.
3) Buy things to sell. That way you can make money with them AND get rid of them! You can also sell tools that you buy and end up not using.
4) Buy supplies and consumables. Things like sewing notions or lamp oil are items that I may have bought anyway and will eventually get used up. The sewing box was $1.00 and included several different thread colors. Building up a supply of thread through garage sales and then matching those threads to your project is a lot cheaper than starting a project and buying new thread to match exactly. In fact, using steeply discounted supplies is essential to frugal sewing. If you are making a skirt and spend $1.50 on thread (and that is the cheap kind), you've already spent half of what a Goodwill skirt would cost.
5) Don't buy something you already have. The problem with garage sales (and sales in general) is that people buy something just because it's a good deal. They don't have a plan for the item, so it ends up sitting in the garage or barn or attic until THEY have a garage sale. In the mean time, the item has only been taking up space and depreciating in value.
7. Earned $53.04 at the farmers market. Technically I am taking the months of July and August off, but this Saturday Hubs was busy and I thought I'd take the opportunity to try out a different Saturday market in my home town. This one was smaller, but also had smaller fees and was close by. I was curious to see how things would work out. I priced my baked goods a little lower than I normally do. As it turns out, they were still a little bit higher than the other bakers, but people bought anyway.
At the end of the day, I actually made more money this week at a small market than I did either week of June ($47.06 and $44.36 respectively) at the large market. Though I marked my prices down and didn't sell as much stuff on Saturday, the $15 less in booth fee and $1 less in gas money allowed my net profit to be more. Who knew? Now I can plan on doing the larger market during the month of May (before the small market opens), and then move to the smaller market in June. From June-August I will probably only sell once a month. $53.00 is more than enough to cover monthly summer feed costs for the animals.
The only thing I didn't like about my hometown market was selling (or not selling) to people I grew up with. That was a little weird. I felt like some of the people I knew were critiquing my stuff. I wondered if they thought my products were stupid or overpriced or bad. "Oh, there's Bethany, trying to sell a bunch of stuff she made. I know her- she's not a REAL baker/soap-maker/author/farmer. Let me look at this... nope, totally not legit. I'll bet she doesn't even make any money at this. What a waste of time. What a loser. She should just go get a real job like all the rest of us."
We tend to take strangers more seriously than friends (especially the ones we grew up with), so my suspicions/fears were probably correct in some cases. There will always be a few people who think you are "not legit" just because you grew up down the street. However, the bottom line is that I did make more money and it was easier and less stressful than the large market. So, I'll probably sell there again.
Unfortunately, on the way home one of my tires blew. So, my market car is out of commission until Hubs finds another tire. Good thing I'm not doing market again for a while!
Anyhow, while we were gone for essentially two weeks (first for Honduras, then across the country for a funeral), Adi's milk production dropped to 1 1/2 cups per day. I believe this is because we left the kids on her instead of separating them and milking her (to make chores easier on the animal babysitters), and she naturally started to wean them. So during that time she went from 3 cups per milking to 1.5 cups per milking. Last year it took months, not weeks, for her to go down like that.
Now that we've separated her from the kids and are milking twice a day regularly, I'm hoping that her production will stay over 3 cups per day.
Goals for Next Week:
1. Make soaps.
2. Photograph aprons for Etsy.
3. Continue to harvest garden produce.
Til next time,