May 30, 2012

Garage Sale Tips & Tricks

It's garage sale season y'all!  I see signs everywhere I look and hear the buzz walking through the gym and grocery store.  Garage sales are a great way to 1) get rid of things you don't need, 2) recycle items that are in good shape but aren't useful to you anymore, 3) motivate you to tidy up your house/garage by removing clutter, and 4) make a little money while doing 1, 2, and 3.

My moms group did a garage sale as a fundraiser a few weekends ago and I thought I'd pass on a few tips and lessons learned so you can better host or help out with a successful garage sale.  I'll start by saying that we made an amazing $500 in two days with mostly housewares, books, clothing, and kid toys/gear.  That's right, you don't have to have fabulous furniture on the docket in order to have a fruitful garage sale.  Here are a few tricks we used that really helped out:

1) Post your Garage Sale online at Craig's List.  It's FREE advertising and a lot of people plan out their garage sale itinerary based on what is posted on Craig's List.  For the title of the post make sure to include the days the sale is going on (i.e. Garage Sale This Fri/Sat!)  Post the ad several days in advance, then re-post it the night before the big sale.  In the body of the ad, keep it simple by placing the address, dates and hours, and list out a few of your hot items.  Add pictures of items to the ad if you have them!

2) Signs, Signs, Signs...and Balloons.  Ok, this one is a given - if you have a garage sale, you put signs up.  However, there is a right and wrong way to go about it.  Make sure your signs are large enough and simple enough to read while someone is driving by.  Make them bright so they stand out from the other white cardboard signs and don't forget arrows directing people in the right direction.  Put signs out on the closest busy road, then continue placing signs at each turn so people won't get lost on their way to the sale.  Put signs out at least 2 days before your sale starts, so you catch weekday work traffic and place them where traffic going both directions can see.  Oh, and splurge on a few balloons the day/s of the sale - tie them to your signs as an extra stand-out, eye-catcher for all your potential clients.

"Main Road" info sign

"Driveway" directional sign

3) Have change ready and available before your Garage Sale begins.  Go to the bank the night before and make sure to get lots of $1 bills and coins.  It's not good for your first customer to arrive and then remember you need change when they hand you a $20...yep, it happened to us because one of the girls ran to the bank right before the sale started.

4) Make pricing easy.  The easiest way to price items you have bulk is by category (all clothing $1 each, books 50 cents each, etc.)  For items that are unique, use colored dot stickers from an office supply store or the local Dollar Store.  Each color represents a price, like the color blue represents $10 in the photo below.  Tape a dot "key" to each table so people understand your color-coding and don't forget to have one near the cash box so the person collecting money knows the prices too.

These pricing dots just get things started...  Allow people to barter, that's part of the fun of garage sales!  And, remember, ultimately you're trying to get rid of stuff so don't be too stuffy about letting things go at small prices.

5) "Free" brings 'em in.  Have a "free" box for items with missing pieces or minor damage and clothing with stains or minor flaws.  You can advertise your "free" box on your Craig's List post as well and people will flock.  As the sale goes on, add more and more things to the box if you're really wanting to get rid of them.

6) Cookies are King.  This is prime time for a bake sale or the kids' lemonade stand on the side.  We baked some cookies, bagged them up, and then sold each bag for a $1.  We made at least $20 on cookies and used them as fodder for bargaining as well - i.e. "We'll thrown in a couple bags of cookies if you take the stroller for $10".  Few people in a captive garage sale audience can turn down cute kids trying to sell lemonade - and they'll pay more for it if a lot of other adults are around...strange but true.

7) When trying to get rid of stuff at the end, sell items by the bag full.  Gather lots of grocery bags before the sale, and as the sale starts to wind down (and you realize how much you still need to get rid of) let people stuff a bag full for $1 or $2.  Stand back and watch the tables clear out!   Those small bills really do add up and it means fewer Goodwill trips for you.

8) Finally, donate the leftovers.  This is one of the most important steps of the garage sale process. Once the sale is over, take whatever is left to your local Goodwill, Salvation Army, or other used-item donation site.  This allows everything to go to good use and prevents you from re-cluttering your garage with unsold items.  Everyone wins!

Does anyone else have any good garage sale tips to share?  We'd love to hear what you garage sale gurus have to say!

May 29, 2012

Outdoor-Inspired Decor

I hope you all had a wonderful Memorial Day weekend with family and friends!  Today, I'm excited to share a great guest post with you - it's from Mari at Arcadian Lighting.  Hope you enjoy and I'd love to hear your feedback in the comment section below.


Hello, everyone! It's Mari here visiting from Arcadian Lighting, the place to go for light fixtures and lighting news on the Internet. One of the things I love most about writing for Arcadian Lighting is that I often get to do guest posts for great blogs like Inspired Whims. Today's post is all about decorating ideas for outdoor inspired spaces. No matter the season, it seems natural elements can bring rooms to life and make them feel more inviting. Materials such as wood and natural stone, live plants and other objects found in nature can bring the beauty of the outdoors inside. Here are eight rooms that do just that. Please enjoy!

A lovely collection of staghorn ferns and other plants brings nature right up onto this inviting covered porch. Pale green cushions reinforce the natural feel of this outdoor decor.

I love this corner with its fresh outdoor feel. An amazing display of daffodils and greenery bring early spring inside. I think I've fallen for that woven back chair—gorgeous.

A hollowed-out tree stump makes for a unique planter and an appealing outdoor inspired décor. The contrast of rustic background with tailored white slipcovered furniture is lovely.

With a panoramic ocean view, this open and airy living room is naturally inspired by the outdoors, but a massive fiddle leaf fig and appealing wood sculpture definitely further the feel of nature.

A simple white drum pendant light seems the perfect fixture for this lovely nature inspired bedroom. Natural woods, pale greens and flower-strewn artwork are all outdoor inspired elements that look at once chic and natural.

Enveloped in greenery inside and out, this light-filled conservatory is the epitome of outdoor inspired décor. I also love the mauve tones with the deep green of the plants.

With a river rock floor, this modern bath has an inviting natural feel. Add the gorgeous bonsai tree in a simple black vessel and a glamorous lighting fixture and it’s the perfect place to relax.

Words fail when attempting to describe the feeling evoked by this out-of-the-ordinary outdoor inspired space. Budding branches, natural wood and a grass green throw are a stunning combination.

Images 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 

How do you like to decorate outdoors? You will find a great selection of outdoor lighting products from Arcadian Lighting here!


Thanks for the post Mari!  Don't you just love bringing the outdoors in?   It provides a much needed breath of fresh air.  I have to say my favorite featured photos are the ocean-side living room with that beautiful fiddle-leafed fig tree, and the gorgeous terrarium-like sun room.  What was your favorite space?

May 25, 2012

Vanilla Pound Cake

This is my all-time favorite pound cake to serve plain or dressed-up with some beautiful berries and ice cream - it's so buttery and has the ideal amount of sweetness to it.  It also works great as a (much more delicious!) alternative to shortcake for Strawberry Shortcake.  For Memorial Day, serve with some blueberries and strawberries for the perfect patriotic dessert!

(all ingredients need to be at room temp for best results so set them out in advance)
5 eggs
3 cups sugar
3 cups flour
1 cup milk
1 Tbsp vanilla
1 cup butter
1/2 cup Crisco

(Do NOT preheat oven and ensure you have two shelves available in the oven - a bottom rack and one positioned at the middle of the oven.)

1. Add vanilla to milk.

2. Grease and flour bunt pan (or 3 large loaf pans).

3. Mix butter, Crisco, and sugar until fluffy and pale yellow throughout.

4. Add one egg at a time, mixing well.

5. Add 1 cup of flour, mix until combined, then 1/2 cup of milk, mix again.  Then add another cup of flour, mix until combined, then 1/2 cup of milk, and mix again.  Add last cup of flour and mix for 2 minutes.

6. Place a large pan/baking sheet with 1" water on bottom rack in oven.

7. Pour batter into bunt pan (or divide among 3 large loaf pans) and place on rack in middle of oven.  Turn oven on to 300 degrees F and cook for 1 hour.

8. After an hour, carefully remove pan with water.  Increase oven temp to 350 degrees F and cook an additional 30-35 minutes.

9. Remove pound cake from oven and let cool in bunt pan on baking rack for 15-20 minutes, then turn out of pan onto baking rack and let cool completely before serving.

For best results, after cake completely cools, store in air-tight container for a full day before serving.  The flavor really sets in and the cake is even more-perfectly moist!

Hope you enjoy!  This recipe is so versatile, it's a keeper for all-year-round.  Let me know if you have any cool pound cake serving ideas.

May 23, 2012

Patriotic Napkin Rings

Memorial Day is a special holiday for us as we are a to-the-core military family - several of our close relatives are retired military, my husband is active duty military, and I'm former active duty and currently a Reservist.  We love nothing more than supporting our military heroes, and for us it's also important to point out that our hometown heroes like police, fire fighters, and paramedics are equally as worthy to be celebrated on Memorial Day for all their sacrifices and what they do everyday to keep us safe.  We feel blessed to have several family members in those lines of work as well!

All that being said, I know that many of us like to get together and celebrate Memorial Day with a family gathering or BBQ with friends, so I thought I would share a fun little craft you can use for Memorial Day entertaining!  These patriotic napkin rings (or belts...actually) are super easy to make and use very few supplies from the craft closet.  And, you can keep them around and use them again for 4th of July celebrations too!

Grosgrain Ribbon (recommend ribbon with design printed on both sides)
Small D-Rings
Glue Gun and Glue Sticks
Ruler/Measuring Tape

1. Measure and cut ribbon into 8-9" segments.

2. Run end of ribbon through 2 D-Rings.

3. Run small bead of glue across ribbon to right of D-Rings and press ribbon together so it holds.

4. Cut opposite end of ribbon at angle or notch it like an inverted "v".  Run small bead of glue along edge so ribbon won't fray.

5. Roll up napkin and place in center of ribbon. Loop ribbon through both D-Rings and then down through the outer ring. Pull end until it tightens as much as you like.

6. Now, simply repeat for remaining napkins.

A tip to help you out with a roadblock I hit with my polka dot ribbon...because it's not printed on both sides: Use the hot glue to attach a small length of ribbon to the end that is run through the D-Rings so the polka dots show.

Make sure you set your napkins out on display!  They even work as a patriotic centerpiece that people can conveniently access at the table.

We have a great Memorial Day dessert coming to Inspired Whims on Friday, so don't forget to come back to check it out!

May 18, 2012

Kids Room Organization + Storage Solutions

We all struggle with finding good organization solutions, especially if you're a mom or a down to the bone neat-nick (I happen to fall into both of those categories).  It's important to many of us to streamline our stuff and tidy things up, especially during this Spring Cleaning time of year!

This kid room organization post was inspired by my dear sister-in-law who asked me for some good ideas for creating more usable storage in my sweet niece's bedroom.  Here are the ideas and items I found to be most inspiring for creating a less-cluttered kid-friendly space:

pic from
There are two great ideas in this room! 1) A small tension rod across the top of a bookshelf holds up curtains that can be closed to hid cluttered shelves or tied open after a good room-cleaning, 2) Spray paint some inexpensive metal cookie sheets to match your child's room, then hang them on the wall and use magnets to hold up pictures or artwork (a great idea for a kitchen too...)

I love these inexpensive rolling under-bed storage bins (only $19) from Walmart.  The chalkboard panel on the front allows you to label the bin so the contents aren't a mystery.

This is a brilliant DIY concept that would be really easy to create - book slings made of fabric, wooden dowels, and double-curtain rod holders...all items that can be found at your local hardware and craft stores.  Easy instructions for this great project can be found {here}.

Bins and boxes - two critical words for easy organization.  Here are a few unique ones I've found that are both decorative and useful:

 Why not round?  These Ikea Kvarnvik Boxes (3 for $20) remind me of cute hat boxes

 These large Striped Strapping Floor Bins ($17 each) from Land of Nod would be great laundry hampers

You can't go wrong with polka dots!  These Ikea Pingla Boxes (2 for $5) are sturdy and very affordable

I admit it...I'm a sucker for these brightly colored metal lockers ($184) from  If I could incorporate them into a master bedroom, I would. :)  They're probably more appropriate for the kiddos...hmmm, or maybe a laundry room?

pic from CozyCottageCute
Dressers are great storage options for so many things.  Don't limit their use to only folded clothes - use them to store books, toys, crafts supplies, and more.  The pictured dresser was refinished with a new paint job, knobs, and cute house numbers.  You can find some great dressers to fix-up on your local Craig's List - a little elbow grease will result in a custom piece perfect for your space.

Need a good catch-all for all those tiny items like crayons, hair ties, the tiniest Legos, or Barbie accessories?  This Lazy-Susan ($35) from Pottery Barn Kids fits on any desk, dresser, or sink-top and allows your child to see what he/she is looking for.

pic from StrawberryChic
This is a super cool DIY project to hold pens, pencils, markers, and crayons.  Simply find a piece of wood (it could even be a rectangular piece of lumber) and use a drill bit to drill holes the size of your writing tools.  Instructions for making your own rustic pencil holder can be found {here}.

Storage ottomans are great for a kid's room.  They can hide away toys, be used as extra seating, and can easily fit beneath a window - valuable space that is usually wasted because we don't want to block the light or a view. Here are a few of my favorites:

This Tufted Grey Storage Ottoman ($146) from is beautiful, and would likely last far into adult-hood - a piece they'd want to take with them when they move out.

A decorative fabric Storage Bench ($196) from can be used in a bedroom, an entryway, or as a coffee table in a living space - an extremely versatile piece.

This Woven Storage Cube (only $51) from is a great option that is inexpensive and translates to other spaces in your house.  The rush weave is very durable and will last for a long time, even when "durability tested" by little ones for years on end.

pic from Design*Sponge
Another great homemade book/magazine storage idea - a pegboard with bungee cords offers a cool way to display your child's favorite reads.  I think this would be great for a teenager - it looks hip, cool, and industrial. Details on how to make this can be found {here}.

Hooks are a great way to get clothes and coats up off the floor, or help your kiddo plan ahead by setting out an outfit for the next day:

This modern looking Ikea Tjusig Rack ($10) offers streamlined style.

A whimsical over-the-door hook solution - Umbra Birdseye Multi-Hook ($25) from

Finally, some ever-important shelving solutions...

This Ikea Ikea Ekby Alex wall-hung shelf ($50) contains two drawers for extra storage.  It would serve as a great bookshelf or even as a bedside table when hung next to a bed at the same height as the mattress top.

You may ask, what can you do with this simple Ikea Lack Wall Shelf ($7)...

Well, here's a great idea - hang several in a zigzag pattern to create a shelf like the red ones shown below:

pic from HyphenInteriors

This room also features one of my all-time favorite, classically simple shelving options - the Expedit Shelving Unit series from Ikea (starting at $40), shown in detail below.

This unit can serve as open shelving, or Ikea makes several bins that fit perfectly inside the cubbies for stashing stuff.  Worth checking out as I've seen designers use these inexpensive shelving units even in high-end design because of their functionality and clean lines.

Hope these kids room storage ideas and items have got your organizing juices flowin'.  Do you have any creative storage ideas you can share with us?  Please let me know if I can help you find a custom storage solution for your unique space.  I'd love to help!

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