$100/week Gluten Free Shopping at Trader Joe’s

TJS header 2

As you all know, I found out a few weeks ago that I cannot eat anything with gluten or soybean oil (although cooked tofu doesn’t seem to bother me). To find out you can no longer eat 70% of the supermarket is quite daunting, especially on a budget and feeding a family of 4. The two boys eat almost as much as grown men, most times!

There are many who have been doing this a lot longer than I have, and they are probably quite used to making everything from scratch. I, however, am only 3 weeks into it, and still find that a few conveniences are much appreciated. I especially love that when I buy everything at ONE store, ONCE a week, I have more time to spend with my babies!

Trader Joe’s is my new boyfriend, I must say. He gives me everything I want, and for super cheap, haha! No, seriously, the store has a million and one different gluten-free options, all clearly marked and still cheaper than most normal things at the supermarket. How does he do it? How does he?

Things to Note:

* The total actually came to $101.70…hope you don’t mind!

* You could probably save even MORE $ per week if you found your meat somewhere else at a bulk rate. But this list is all about one-stop convenience for $100/week!

* I am the only member of the family who is gluten and soybean intolerant, but 90% of our meals avoid carbs as the main base anyways

* The hubbie does not eat lunch with us since he is at work. Usually, he takes leftovers from dinner or makes a sandwich.

* Only the boys eat breakfast on Sundays, as the hubbie and I are fasting before church

* We eat vegan on Wednesdays and Fridays, hence the vegan gluten-free dinner option

* There are only 6 dinners/week planned, because we usually eat out one night a week.

* You can get lots of free fresh produce from friends, especially during the Fall! Most people with gardens or fruit trees have it coming out their ears and can’t wait to give it away to someone who will use it. Ask around!

* We make our own gluten-free bread for sandwiches, using Trader Joe’s gluten free flour (truthfully, I make my own flour to save even more money). This way we can spend $4/week for bread instead of $10 on two of Udi’s small loaves. This isn’t convenient, but it saves us $20-30/month.

*This list assumes that one already has things like spices, oil and butter! Mustn’t forget those!

TJS Breakfast

Breakfast:

4x/week Gluten-Free Oats w/ blueberries== $2+ $3.99= $5.99

2x/week Protein Pancakes (using 6 eggs, 6 bananas, blueberries and gluten free flour)== $2.25+ $1.20+ $0.99= $4.44

1x/week Gluten-Free Waffles with PB and organic sliced strawberries== $1.99+ $1.75+ $0.59= $4.33

Coffee== $2.50  (we buy the $4.99 can every other week– it’s not amazing, but it’s good and budget friendly!)

Organic Half and Half Creamer== $.90/week (I buy a small carton for $1.79 every other week)

Organic Whole Milk== $5.99

TOTAL BREAKFAST: $24.15

TJS Lunch

Lunch:

4x/week Gluten Free PBJ Sandwiches (for the boys): Home-made bread, using Trader Joe’s Gluten-Free All Purpose Flour== $4+ $0.59+ $0.56= $5.12

2x/week Rice Mac and Cheese 2x/week== $3.98

4x/week Egg/Nuts/Cranberries with olive oil salad (for me): $1.99+ $2.25+ $1.99+ $2.50= $8.73

Extra lunchmeat and cheese (for the hubbie) : $3.69+ $2.99= $6.68

TOTAL LUNCH: $24.51

TJS Snacks

Snacks:

Plain Greek Yogurt with berries or jam– $2.50 (half a container/week)

Bananas Sliced with PB– $1.60 for 8 bananas (we go through a TON of them!)

String Cheese== $3.49

Almonds== $2.50 (we go through a $4.99 bag every other week)

Organic Unsweetened Applesauce== $2.49

Raw Carrots== $1

TOTAL SNACK: $13.58

TJS dinner

Dinner:

1x/week Tilapia with Organic Foursome and White Organic Quinoa== $6.44+ $1.69 + $1.16= $9.29

1x/week All-natural Chicken with sweet potato mash== $1.38+ $6.08= $7.46

1x/week Organic Gluten-Free Rice Pasta with Tomato Sauce and Organic Grass-fed Beef== $2.50 (1/2lb.)+ $1.99+ $1.29= $5.78

1x/week Organic Thai Quinoa Casserole (recipe coming tomorrow!)== $1.16+ $.089+ $0.89+ $1.29+ 2.00 = $6.23

1x/week Organic Veggie Tofu-Stir Fry with Quinoa== $1.16+ $1.49+ $1.99= $4.64

1x/week Sweet Potato Organic Grass-fed Beef Chili== $2.50 (1/2lb.)+ $.89+ $1.38+ $1.29= $6.06

TOTAL DINNER: $39.46

Dessert:

Our family doesn’t eat dessert, 9 times out of 10, but when we do it’s usually a banana/greek yogurt based smoothie, adding whatever else we have on hand (cocoa powder, berries, almond butter). We used to use protein powder as an added ingredient, but this was before I became gluten intolerant. Even if the protein powder uses egg whites or soy as a protein base, I am very sensitive to soybean or any derivative, so we’ve stopped using it.

But…in case you like your gluten-free dessert handy, here are two I love!

Gluten-free Ginger Snaps- $2.29

Gluten-free Brownie Mix- $3.99

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how to list your stuff on Ebay and make $

eBay packages for blog

It’s been a while since you’ve seen me write about any money I’ve made selling anything on eBay.

I have posted about my Craigslist luck. I managed to clean out our old furniture, making enough $ to buy our BOB stroller. In the past week, I’ve sold enough furniture from our old guest room to put tile in our new laundry room.

But eBay? Perhaps I was disillusioned, but I haven’t listed anything there in around a year.

One of my summer goals was to clean out 3 large bins full of old clothes. These were the clothes I affectionately called my “post-pregnancy and nursing” clothes. I hadn’t worn them in 3 whole years!

So, I made myself a rule. I decided that if I wasn’t super excited to see  any of these things come out of storage, then I would sell or thrift them without a second thought. No guilt. I need clothes that I’ll actually WEAR, especially since storing 3 bins of clothes I don’t even like anymore is kind of a drag. I also cleaned out my closet with the same cut-throat premise.

And then, on a whim, I revisited my friend Mr. eBay and listed it all, shirts for $2.99, pants for $9.99.

Lo and behold, in ONE week, I made exactly $190!!! That’s profit– there was more money for shipping costs.

This money wouldn’t have come at a better time. Gregory is bumping up into size 3T now, and when I pulled out my bin full of garage sale finds I’d been saving, I realized that I hardly have anything after 2T in there. I think that part of my brain just could not wrap around the fact that my little baby would ever get that big. But they do! Oh, they do!

Jesse had also expressed a need for new clothes this Fall. Heck, the guy still wears a few shirts he got in HIGH SCHOOL. He’s definitely not one to buy new clothes, so when he asks for them, it must mean he needs them. 🙂

But buying lots of clothes is not exactly in our budget right now. I am trying to carve out a surplus each month to put into savings, not spend it! Before my eBay extravaganza, I had estimated that we could buy new clothes for Gregory in September and October, then Jesse in November and December (Jesse thought we should wait and just ask everyone for clothes for G on his 3rd birthday next month…but what kind of 3 year old only wants clothes for his birthday?)

Using this money, without tapping into ANY of our monthly budget, I was able to turn it around on eBay and buy:

1 pair of Dockers for Jesse

3 Lands End shirts for Jesse

8 shirts for Gregory

4 pairs of pants for Gregory

1 pair of Keens shoes for Gregory

3 shirts for me

1 pair of pants for me

See? ALL that! In exchange for a bin full of clothes that I haven’t seen in 3 years! And there’s still a little bit left over.

Having caught the “eBay Bug” once again, I decided to outline a few tips that I’ve found greatly help one when navigating online selling.

In order of importance:

1. PICTURES. As many as you can! As of right now, eBay gives you 12 free pictures with each listing. Back when I used to sell stuff, it was 10 cents a picture, so I was stingy. But 12 is a lot. Use a free picture editing app to get the lighting and coloring right.

For pants: Take one picture of the front laid out not folded, one of the back, one of the hems, one of the button fly, and one of the inside tag.

For shirts: Take one of the front, then the back, then the tag. You should also take one of the shirt hanging on a nice hanger, so that the bidders can see how it will hang.

For shoes: Stand them up, then take pictures of the tag inside, the soles, and the toes. Make sure to take a picture of every single scuff so as to protect yourself.

Pictures are the most important ingredient. Whenever friends ask me why their item didn’t sell, it’s almost always the pictures.

2. Description. I always spend the first paragraph describing my item as poetically as possible. I talk about how it’s fashionable, about what it would look good paired with, about how flattering it is, etc. On the second paragraph, I take every possible measurement. Don’t wait for them to ask, because they will have emotionally moved on to a different item by the time you reply. When shopping, I almost always pass on items without measurements. Even if you know your “size” in a particular brand, sizes vary by year and style. Also make sure to list what materials it’s made of (for instance, some people only like to buy jeans with 98% cotton, 2% lycra).

For shirts: Take measurements of the bust, sleeve length, waist, and entire shirt length

For pants: Take measurements of the rise, inseam, leg opening, and waist.

For shoes: Take measurements of the width and height of the boot shaft.

3. Make your title full of search words. I always include the size, color and brand within my title, even if I detail it later as well. You can put abbreviations like “NWT!” (new with tags) or if it’s in good condition, put, “LIKE NEW!” at the end.

4. List lots of stuff at one time! Not only is it more time effective since you can take all your pictures at once, but you can also write at the bottom of your listing, “Cleaning out my closet! Listing dozens of items!”. This is particularly effective if you have a bunch of popular name brand items with some not so popular. Buyers love combined shipping, and chances are if they are your size and style in pants, they will also want to buy a few of your shirts as well! This time around, ALL of the no-name shirts sold quickly. There’s no explanation for how much traffic they got, other than the fact that people who were buying “JCrew Jeans” also clicked and found my Kohls shirts.

5. Price reasonably. For a popular brand or item, I list it at a third of the retail price, sometimes less. For a not popular item, I only price it at a couple bucks. $3 may not seem like much, but if you sell 10 of them, that’s $30!

Also, keep shipping prices reasonable. Charging too much for shipping is a totally rookie mistake. Some people list the item for 99 cents, then charge $11 for shipping. I immediately walk away when I see something like this. Also, when you ask the program to itemize your search lowest prices first, your item will appear as costing $12, not 99 cents.

If you can keep your packaging costs low (see #7), then you can afford to keep shipping low! I’ve found that it costs between $4-6 for shirts, $6-8 for sweaters, and $9-10 for pants.

If you ship from home, make sure to weigh your item AFTER you’ve packaged it, not before. I’ve had several eBay items I bought delivered to me with a bill attached. If you are off by even a couple ounces, the post office will charge the RECIPIENT the difference, and they tack on fees. I’ve had to claim an extra $5 from sellers before. If they had weighed it correctly in the first place, they would’ve paid an extra 5 cents.

6. 3 Day Auctions: Let’s not kid ourselves, unless it’s a super nice Anthropologie Blazer, there won’t be lots of people bidding and outbidding. Most people wait until the last day anyways, because they’re afraid of running up the price. Do yourself a favor and pick a 3 day listing. I rarely ever use the Buy It Now option.

6 days is also a long time for people to wait if they want the item. 3 days gives people time to find it and bid, but not so much time that they get impatient and find something else in the meantime.

7. Buy your packaging at the Dollar Store. This last round, I sold and mailed 17 items. If I’d spent $2/each on packaging at the post office or Walmart, I’d have wasted $35. Instead, go buy $1 worth of packing tape and $2 worth of recycled brown wrapping paper (or, you can use paper bags cut up. Our county has a ban on plastic bags and makes us pay for paper bags, so we don’t have many lying around). I shipped all of my items with $3 worth of packaging! Win!

If you package this way, just make sure to tape up every corner and seam. Postal carriers are pretty rough and you wouldn’t want the item to break out of the packaging and arrive dirty (it happened to me once).

8. List on Tuesday, end on Friday. Most buyers will pay within a few hours of the auction ending, but others take a day or two to get their act together. You don’t want to punish the people who paid right away, but you also don’t want to take multiple trips to the post office. If you end on Friday, 98% of your buyers will have paid by Sunday night, letting you make one trip on Monday. It also gives you extra time over the weekend to package everything!

Also, people LOVE shopping on Fridays. I got a lot of last minute people out of the blue who weren’t even originally “watching” my items!

Our New Stroller

I’ve been wanting a double stroller for the boys for quite some time. The problem is that most double strollers are a complete waste of time and money. Once you put over 60 lbs. of two kids into them, they are impossible to steer and an absolute pain to push. And don’t get me started on how much trunk space they take up! Courtney and I used to joke that she’d need an extra car just to drive around her stroller.

I’ve heard great things about the BOB stroller line, but I’ve always hated the price tag. Lately though, I’ve been finding myself wanting to go on walks. We live just a 5 minute walk from our main grocery center in Atascadero, and it’d be fun not to use the car every once and a while. We have no sidewalks, however, being out in the country and all, and our roads are quite steep and often mostly gravel.

We also have a day trip to the Midstate Fair planned for tomorrow, along with Big Sur next week. I convinced Jesse that if there were ever a time to get a double stroller, now would be it.

In turn, he reminded me of our commitment to staying on a budget. $400-500 doesn’t exactly fit in, you know what I mean?

But there’s this thing called determination. When I want to buy something, I find a way. I move mountains if I have to. It’s both a very admirable quality, and also a little scary. Why can’t I have this kind of mad perseverance when it comes to prayer?

But I digress. I knew that the only way to get a stroller was to raise the money myself. So, with the help of my sister (who pulled stuff out of my parents’ garage for me), I listed EVERYTHING that we’ve had lying around. Does anyone else have a few things in their garage that they “might want to sell someday”? After 3 moves in the past 2 years, we have a lot of them.

In FOUR HOURS, I made $260.

Hooray, I thought! Now I can go on Craigslist and buy the first BOB stroller I see!

Wrong. I didn’t factor in the fact EVERY SINGLE STROLLER LISTING was written by rude people who never answer their phones or check their email.

I emailed dozens of people over the course of 3 days. Only ONE reply, telling me the item was sold (the listing is still up as we speak. Why are people so rude???).  How hard is it to text back, “No, I want more $ than that”, or, “Sorry, sold”???

I got pretty fed up. So I posted this little number:

Jogging Stroller

Did I really post that? Yes. Was it un-Christian of me? Probably. I do feel bad about it, somewhere deep down under the blind determination that I feel when I want something for my babies. Also, there may or may not have been some PMS crazy affecting me too. And I’m semi-insane without Jesse, who’s been working at the Midstate Fair until 1am the last couple nights.

Whatever. No excuses.

But it worked!!! Within 30 minutes, I got an email from a woman who had been thinking about selling her BOB and got on Craiglist to price compare. My ad was the first that came up.

We met at the park 3 hours later and voila! We now own a like-new BOB stroller for only $60 out of pocket cash!

We went on a walk tonight, and I can already tell that this thing is worth EVERY LAST penny. I was able to turn it with one hand. The boys were super comfy and made up songs together in the seat while I jogged along. Did I also mention that the stroller only take up half of our trunk? And I can fold it up with one hand? Wowza! It’s like the wizard of all strollers!

Alls well that ends well.

July Walk 2013 5

Here were a few pictures from our walk tonight. We live in such a gorgeous neighborhood! I guess I didn’t quite realize how nice the streets are around us.

July Walk 2013 1 July Walk 2013 3 July Walk 2013 4

However fun the walk, it’s always nice to come back to our home sweet home on a hill. 🙂

July Walk 2013 2

Wheelin and Dealin

My mom, sister and I love to spend Saturday mornings garage sale-ing. We got so much this time, it hardly all fit into my Mom’s SUV!

Nothing says vintage bucket like....what???

Nothing says vintage bucket like….what???

Luckily, I knew that I already had the same color metallic spray paint. Ah, much better already!

Luckily, I knew that I already had the same color metallic spray paint. Ah, much better already!

I got this big green bucket for the mudroom to hold the boys' outdoor toys. I already had a few things with the same color green! It's coming together!

I got this big green bucket for the mudroom to hold the boys’ outdoor toys. I already had a few things with the same color green! It’s coming together!

Look at this cute little jar I found!

Look at this cute little jar I found!

With a little glossy white spray paint, it now looks right at home!

With a little glossy white spray paint, it now looks right at home!

 

These tumblers are also the same green, and were only a quarter!

These tumblers are also the same green, and were only a quarter!

A fun hook to hold my purse

A fun hook to hold my purse

This chair may not look like much, but I have PLANS. Plus, it was only $5! We already made it sturdier with some wood glue in the joints. Next up, paint!

This chair may not look like much, but I have PLANS. Plus, it was only $5! We already made it sturdier with some wood glue in the joints. Next up, paint!

Water shoes and crocs for G, just in time for Big Sur!

Water shoes and crocs for G, just in time for Big Sur!

Best deal of the day-- a set of vintage Thomas the Tank Engine books!

Best deal of the day– a set of vintage Thomas the Tank Engine books!

I got this great condition trampoline for G for $5. And this is what he chose to do on it for the first half hour :)

I got this great condition trampoline for G for $5. And this is what he chose to do on it for the first half hour 🙂

Luckily, he soon figured it out!

Luckily, he soon figured it out!

Cute pose

Cute pose

Some "color your own" placemats for a quarter

Some “color your own” placemats for a quarter

 

A brand new womens' Puma track suit! $2!!!

A brand new womens’ Puma track suit! $2!!!

A Nike windbreaker for $1!

A Nike windbreaker for $1!

Some cool gladiator sandals

Some cool gladiator sandals

 

An Oneill Sherpa Jacket, $1!

An Oneill Sherpa Jacket, $1! Can’t wait to wear it around the campfire at Big Sur 🙂

Even AJ got a book!

Even AJ got a book!

 

 

 

 

 

Day of Deals!

This last Saturday, my mom, sister and friend and I spent nearly 7 hours garage sale-ing!

Ironically, this opportunity came after another friend of mine asked if she could go garage sale-ing sometime. She said that my family and I always have great luck. Funny enough, I couldn’t remember the last time I’d gotten a bunch of good deals!

But when it rains, it pours!

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Stop #1: We hit 4 garage sales here in Atascadero. One was a super depressing estate sale (all of the lady’s stuff was still set up just as she’d left it! There was even a funeral sign-in sheet by the door!!! wtf?). We didn’t get anything here, and left feeling super creeped out and sad.

But the other three had a lot of great deals!

An antique wooden sign, only $1!

An antique wooden sign, only $1!

I'm going to repaint this shelf and use it in the bathroom. The 3 mini flower pots were 25 cents total-- perfect for my kitchen window garden!

I’m going to repaint this shelf and use it in the bathroom. The 3 mini flower pots were 25 cents total– perfect for my kitchen window garden!

 

One house had a giant MOUND of nice boys’ clothes, selling for just 25 cents a piece!!! I got over 26 little boys’ clothes. Here are a few of my favorites.

Garage sale deal 5

Nearly new Joe Boxer pjs!

Garage sale deal 4

How is my Gregory almost in 3T clothing???

Garage sale deal 3

Cute clothes for Baby Wee

Garage sale deal 2

Swim trunks! G is in love with Spongebob, so he is going to go ballistic when he gets to wear these

Garage sale deal 1

2 of my FAVORITES!

Garage Sale Deals 12

A child-sized Adirondack chair– only 25 cents!!!

Garage Sale Deals 10

G sat here next to us this weekend, looking as pleased as punch that he had his own chair 🙂

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Stop #2 (post Jamba Juice, of course):

There is a secret, hole-in-the wall place in San Luis Obispo affectionally titled, “The Bin”. In reality, it’s the Goodwill Outlet/Distribution Center. You have to know where to find it (it’s not listed on google maps), and you have to be willing to get down and dirty (some people even wear gloves!)! If you’re curious about one near you, I found this blog about a similar one.

Basically, you have to DIG through bins and bins of clothing that didn’t sell at the Goodwill stores in the area. All that work pays off though– only $2/pound of clothing! I found around 10 items for myself, all name brands– Forever 21, Abercrombie, Ann Taylor Loft, White House Black Market, Banana Republic….all 10 items for less than $5!

Two of my favorite shirts

Two of my favorite shirts

Garage Sale Deal 9

Super soft Victoria Secret pj pants, Nike running shorts, Abercrombie sweatshirt! All like new!

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Stop #3, downtown SLO.

We really meant to just come here for lunch, but as we were parking, we saw yet ANOTHER garage sale! My sister got a brand new Puma athletic bag for $2 and some cool jars for her room. My mom got an entire bag of clothing (there was a lot of Patagonia and Italian leather!) for $5, and all the books were free.

All I got were these like new running shoes-- get ready...25 cents!!! The lady was totally giving away her stuff

All I got were these like new running shoes– get ready…25 cents!!! The lady was totally giving away her stuff

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Stop #4: NCCS thrift store.

At this point, it was nearly 3pm and we were TIRED. But we decided to run in and see if there was anything.

Of course, this is where I hit the jackpot. Not only did I find a bunch of things we’ve been needing, but since we have $100/year’s worth of teacher’s credit at the store, all of it was FREE!!!!!

3 pairs of nearly new shoes-- Converse, and Old Navy! $2/each

3 pairs of nearly new shoes in G’s current size– Converse, and Old Navy! Would’ve been $2/each

Garage Sale Deals 11

A wicker patio set– would’ve been $22. They came with cushions, but I absolutely HATE the print. I bought some cheery red and blue outdoor fabric to cover them with. More later!

I got these shoes. Funny story-- I had the exact same pair when I lived in Dallas. They were so comfy, I wore them nonstop for almost 2 years. I wore them until there were holes in the soles and I had to throw them out! These were the same ones in my size, so I went ahead and got them, in case I can get another year or two of use from them :) Would've been $2

Funny story– I had this same exact pair when I lived in Dallas. They were so comfy, I wore them nonstop for almost 2 years. In the end, there were holes in the soles and I had to throw them out! These were the same ones in my size, so I went ahead and got them, in case I can get another year or two of use from them 🙂 Would’ve been $2

Not pictured, I also got a brand new full size mattress cover for our guest bed (again, free for me, would’ve been $2).

 

So….there you have it! Was it worth an entire day’s worth of work? Well, the real point of the day was to spend time with my sister, mom, and friend Susan. We were able to go out to lunch together as well, which would’ve been worth it in and of itself.

All in all, we had so much fun, it would’ve been worth it even if we hadn’t gotten such great deals!

 

Deals!

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted any good thrift store/craigslist/garage sale finds.

This past week has been an amazing batch of deals, so I thought I’d share!

First of all, G finally has a toddler bed and mattress. We already had his crib mattress, but I want to use G’s crib for Anthony soon eventually.

I’m also a HUGE stickler about organic mattresses. Our current crib mattress is organic and wool, due to another lucky find on Craigslist (it was unused since the baby ended up co-sleeping until he was ready for a bed). Unfortunately, new organic crib mattresses come with a hefty price tag, and since I also have a mortgage to pay now, money isn’t what it used to be around here 😉

This is the one I wanted, but it was $279 on Amazon!!!

This is the one I wanted, but it was $279 on Amazon!!!

I’ve been faithfully searching for weeks/months, looking for the right deal.

And then, the crib mattress of my dreams, NEW AND STILL IN THE BOX, was listed on Craigslist for only $100. Turns out, the mom had received two at her shower and didn’t feel like going through the process of mailing back the other one.

G's new room 1

Gregory was cackling with glee the entire time we set this up!

His toddler bed was $55 on Amazon. It’s super sturdy, took only 30 minutes to set up, and arrived in 2 days! I didn’t want to buy on Craigslist because I want to be able to get a matching one for Anthony when the time comes.

Our next two deals:

coffee can wooden bowls

I found both of these at our school’s thrift store. They were cheap to begin with, but we actually got them for free (teacher’s store credit).

Our last deal that we got I don’t have a picture of, due to its disassembled nature. We found the perfect ceiling fan for our bedroom, also free because it was at the thrift store! Last summer, our ceiling fans enabled us to only turn on our air conditioning once or twice (the Texan in me can’t believe I just said that!), so we’re stoked to have another one.

Our “Maybe” House

Warning: Fair amount of real estate explanation and lingo in here….

Last Thursday night, we toured the only TWO houses within 15 minutes of us that were not a short sales or REOs (the market here is CRAZY, I tell you). Our problem thus far has been that our price range ($200-300k) is SCARY close to the cash investor range. We’ve actually put a few offers on houses, only to have them GONE within a week of being on the market! The last one we put an offer on, got 12 offers within 5 days and ended up going for $40k more than the asking price!!!

The problems: we CAN’T usually go more than asking price. If the house doesn’t appraise for as much as you offer, you are supposed to pay the difference in cash. That’s not even including a down payment! So if we offer $15k above an asking price, we are looking at shelling out $15k, plus our downpayment– something we cannot do.

Add that to the fact that housing prices have risen 5% since Anthony was born (no joke), and 15.5% since last year (AGH!), and we decided to step up the timeline on “The Plan”, before the market here locks us out.

Back to my story– we toured two homes, the only two that we might have a chance at. You see, it’s hard to have a chance on a Short Sale or an REO, because the bank makes the final decision, not the seller. And a bank will ALWAYS go with who has the most cash, not who was first, who wants it most, who is offering the most, etc. That’s the frustrating truth.

One of the houses we toured had only been on the market for 3 days and is pretty much our PERFECT ideal. 4 bedrooms, fixer upper in all the right ways (to our un-trained eyes, anyways), on a HUGE 1/2 acre lot, 5 minutes from school, and on a big hill with an incredible view! It even has a few details that I love– knotty wood beam ceilings (no icky popcorn ceilings!) and a rock fire pit on the back patio!

So, Friday morning, we put in an offer. Since our realtor believes that the house is very under-priced, we offered $11k more than asking, so that the extra could be used towards our downpayment, freeing up our funds for repairs.

As of Tuesday, they accepted our offer! It was a little scary, down to the wire, because at the last minute a cash investor came forward who was willing to pay for the entire thing with CASH and wanted to keep the tenants! I told you this market was scary!

And then, we got some more scary news yesterday. Since the house was, at one point, part of a lawsuit, it’s a “Sheriff’s Sale”, meaning that the party who lost the house has a 6 month redemption period. According to CA law, the seller cannot acquire the deed until that 6 month redemption period is over. And no title company will insure the title until that 6 months is up.

The problem was that we had no idea when the 6 months had begun. Did this mean our escrow couldn’t even BEGIN until 6 months had passed?

As of this morning, it looks like we can acquire the deed at the end of November, which would probably put our closing date sometime in December. A little later than we wanted, but hey, if we can make it work, we will!

We really believe that this house is a good deal, seeing as all the houses around it are going for $100k more, just because they have landscaping and curb appeal. If the market keeps appreciating as well, it should be a great investment!

We have our friend who is a contractor coming out to the property tomorrow morning to see if there are any “deal-breaker” repairs that he can see, and also to give us a rough quote for the kinds of repairs we want (kitchen remodel, new floors, portico off the front door for curb appeal, etc.). Everything depends on how much money we’re going to have to shell out in order to repair it. The current tenants LOVE living there and didn’t want to leave, so that says good things about the house!

So, for now, we are calling this our “Maybe” House. So many things between now and December could happen, many more than usual sale-escrow transactions to deal with, so we are taking this one day at a time!

But that doesn’t mean we aren’t at least grateful our initial offer got accepted 🙂

 

*Interesting Side Note #1: The street this house is on is the SAME STREET where Jesse was born, 29 years ago!

**Interesting Side Note #2: The realtor representing this house is the SAME realtor who has represented multiple friends of ours, including the Bartels! She knows our families, and really wants things to work in our favor!

***Interesting Side Note #3: The husband of the realtor representing the house also manages a few rental properties. I toured one of them in November of last year. He and I chatted for a bit, and he said to me, “Why on earth are you guys looking to rent instead of buy? Don’t make someone like me rich! Go buy a house! Now’s the time!” Partly due to this conversation, we started trying to buy a house!

Master Bedroom Picture Project

I’ve been on a project spree lately, in case you can’t tell. I already mentioned that when we move, we will be overhauling the color scheme/decor that we previously had in our master bedroom.

Part of what we needed was some sort of decoration or art work to go above our headboard. I looked around for things that would work in our color scheme, but I didn’t like it or it was more than I wanted to spend.

I’ve always really wanted large photo canvases of our wedding pictures, but they’re really expensive– about $80/each for an 8×10. So, I decided to do the cheap version for now, before deciding to make that kind of investment. These 11×14 were $15/each through our photographer, and they turned out beautifully. The canvases were $5/each on sale at Michaels. I glued the back of them onto the canvas using photo-safe Mod-Podge, and voila!

My mom’s gonna be upset that you can see her mismatched dining room chairs in the background. Don’t worry, she’s working on replacing them ASAP 🙂

I even helped Janelle with her own 8×10 from school! These smaller canvases were even cheaper– about $1.50/each

Nightstands, Part 1

I’m gonna fill you in on a little secret– in all 5.5 years of our marriage, Jesse and I have NEVER had nightstands. I know, right? The horrors. We’ve used two tiny little tables here and there, but they don’t store anything and they hardly hold anything on top.

This is a problem when you are nursing all night, every night. I always have the following right next to me: a burp cloth, a jug of water, a lamp, my phone/clock/alarm, cream, chapstick, plus any breastpump parts. It gets pretty crowded and messy looking.

But here’s the problem– I don’t LIKE the look of more substantial nightstands! The idea of having a matching dresser/nightstand set makes me feel really old inside. I like the more delicate, eclectic, mis-matched look a ton more. But….most of these kinds of nightstands are not practical, seeing as they are small and don’t have drawers.

So, I’ve been scoping Craigslist for months, waiting for the perfect deal to jump on. My criteria– super cheap, unordinary details, able to be sanded down and painted, and close nearby.

This last week, I found all of these in one deal. These nightstands were $30/each, located in our town. Not only that, but the lady even delivered them for us once she found out we’d just had a baby 🙂

Pretty roughed up and "old" looking, right?

Step 2: Thursday, Jesse spent a few hours sanding them down for me. Seriously, it’s amazing how many drawers doors open when you’re willing to buy furniture in any paint/finish, knowing you can just redo it yourself. Or, in my case, knowing that your loving husband will willingly give up an afternoon to do it for you!

In around 3 hours yesterday early evening (broken up twice for feedings!), I was able to paint 2 coats of no VOC paint on them. My mom and I had gone on an “outing” to Home Depot Wednesday night (I got to pick two “outings” this week! One to Target, one to Home Depot!) and picked out a light green/gray that matches perfectly with the new duvet bedding set I have my eyes on. We’ve had the same maroon/beige color scheme in our room since we got married, and I’m totally ready for a change.

Anyways, here they are, Step 3 completed.

The new, more modern hardware I ordered from Home Depot hasn’t arrived yet (mail order, only). Hardware is to furniture as the eyes are to the face, so putting those on will obviously change the look quite a bit. I can’t wait! I’m also considering adding some dark shading in various places to highlight the details, but I’m not sure how…

Washer/Dryer

This may seem boring to all of you, but to my neurotic-nesting self, it was the highlight of my Saturday!

Since everything is moving along nicely with our escrow (house inspection didn’t turn up anything big, thank God!), we are starting to plan for moving in. For realsies, not just in my head/on Pinterest/in my design notebook 🙂

For the past few weeks, I’ve been looking for a good deal on a front-loading washer and dryer. I’ve read and heard from others that top loaders are best for cloth diapers, but the fact is that our laundry space will be a bit cramped in the new place. Instead of having an official, “laundry room”, we will have a closet, of sorts. This is nothing different than any apartment we’ve lived in, however, so I know that we can handle it easily, even managing to make it cute!

Anyways, I wanted front loaders so that I could multi-task the space and make a laundry folding station on top. Note these inspiration pictures from Pinterest:

 

These are not front loaders, but I find this picture cute and inspirational, nonetheless

The problem? Most front loaders are out of our meager price range.

Then, I found someone who had just moved and wanted to remodel their entire laundry room area to something “fancier” (and, by the looks of their giant house, they could probably afford it!).

Which is how we got these babies, PLUS the matching pedestals (not shown), for $400 total. The gas dryer had only been used for 3 weeks before the owner moved to an electric-only house. It then sat, unused for a few years. Enter US.

 

At first, I didn’t want the pedestals, because I was afraid that the top would then be too high for me to fold laundry on, foiling my whole “convenience” plan. But when we got there and I tried them out, they were definitely not too tall. And the convenience of having the pedestals, so as not to have to bend over too much? Super awesome.

Anyways, there they are! Of course, I’m nervous about buying used appliances, but, truth be told, we don’t have the money to spend $2000 on brand new ones. We had really great luck buying used ones in Dallas, so I’m praying these will work until we can afford new ones, should the need arise.