Friday, January 31, 2014

Best Way To List Anything for Sale Anywhere - Part 1

To sell something, there are a few things that help your item do better:

Wording - Use words that make you want something. “Old” doesn’t sound as exciting as “vintage or antique.”  Saying it is “rare” makes it of more value than “Hard to find.”

Pictures - make or break you. Sometimes, you can use a picture that is already online if the item is exact but often times, someone will take a picture on a dirty table and the item will sell for much less than if you put it on a black background cloth. Things in the background can distract from the item. Take close pictures of any markings, labels and any damage so they can see what they are buying as if they give you bad feedback after a sell, it can hurt future sells.

Listing - Use Capital letters, Bold letters, Upper and Lower case letters mixed and as many words in the title and description as you can. People find most items through searching certain words in the search. If you have something and just say. “Old women’s watch” you will get some hits but most people don’t want to have to click into your listing to find out what type of watch.

If you put: “ELGIN Vintage Antique 14 Karat, 14K WaTcH”  you now get everyone who searches for 14 karat, 14K vintage watch, Antique watch, Elgin watch etc. Also, in your description, put misspelled or varied spelling variations in case someone misspells the search. If someone from England is searching, they often spell it differently so at the bottom on the search, I add Karat, Karot, Karret, Carrot etc to cover it as some people don’t know how to spell or are from other countries. 

Ebay, Etsy or Amazon
Etsy started as homemade or personal items but has grown. Amazon started as “media” but now sells most anything. Ebay was more for anything but isn’t as popular as EVEYONE sells things now so selling isn’t as profitable as it used to be.

Before listing something, do research to see if it is worth selling online. Look for any markings or “names” on the item. Don’t type in sizes but start with the “Name” for value. If it doesn’t show up, make sure you spelled it right.

You usually have to make an account and “Sign in” before searching. Make the name and password the same so you can remember it easily. Don’t use birthday or address numbers for password.

Once logged in, type the item in the search box and hit enter. Then go on the left side almost to the bottom and check off “Completed listings” and hit enter. Then, go to the top right of the page and click on the arrow in the “Sort” box. A drop down will come up and click on “Price: highest first” and it should then show you the item you have or some similar items. If the price on the right is in Green, the item sold for that amount. If the price is listed in Red, it didn’t sell.

Look at the items similar to yours or exactly like yours. Just because one sold for $200 doesn’t mean they all did. It may be in better condition or come with extra items. If there are a ton of listings for that item, I then go to the “Sort” button and click on “Price: Lowest price”  so I can check out the lowest that same item sold for. It may have been $10 because it had a chip or not even sold at all.

What makes it of value is the condition and how rare or uncommon it is.
Listing – If you want to list the item, look on the page for “Sell a similar item” and click on that. If there are no items like yours, follow prompts on the page. It is hard to sell anything online without a “paypal” account as most people pay with a credit card or transfer money from their account into yours. Rarely people will send a check but it is almost unheard of anymore. There are listing fees, photo hosting fees, and selling fees that are a percentage of the selling price of the item. You need to add that in and the time to list it to determine if it is worth selling online. Also, don’t forget to charge for shipping and handling which should cover your box, packing bubbles and postage costs. Some heavy items could cost you more to send than you would make if you forget to write in your description that you are charging exact shipping or $20 shipping etc.
  Continued next post.....

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Story of My Life or Family History Questions

I have a "Page" on my blog that has lots of great History and Journal questions that can get you started on your family history, diary or journal. Here is a link to that post. 
I thought I would post these other questions on here as I found another paper with questions so I typed them up and you can add them to the other questions. 

If you have a picture of the event you are writing about, try to insert it into the history you are writing. You can print it out if you are writing it by hand or you can put it in the document if you are writing it on the computer. 

Hope this helps you get started on your family history. 

  Name and present address

Name of parents, brothers and sisters. (Tell about them, relate stories)

Name of all grandparents and information from where they came. (Did your family pass through the major stirring events of history – Migration, pioneer etc)

Early memories of home, or homes and surroundings

Economic situations during early childhood life and beyond

Description of self, changes during passing years

Childish pranks and ways of self amusement

First school days, schoolhouse, teachers etc

First lesson in honesty

Outstanding Christmas stories or traditions

First attention from the opposite sex and first date
Schooling… First appearance before the public

Courting days

Embarrassing situations and what happened

Husband or wife (The beautiful things I looked for and found

Marriage – trousseau, wedding, etc

Children and family relationships

Neighbors and friends

People who have entered into your life and made a lasting impression

Church activities – Religion in your home and what part it played

Testimonies, faith-promoting incidents or answers to prayers

Travel and trips

Hobbies – Characteristics

Public life and tall stories

Personal accomplishments; desires, whether fulfilled or not

Appreciations, hope for the future

Philosophy of life

Resolve: …To write somewhat that others may know I love life
…Every good story must be based on facts… dates, names of persons, thoughts.
…Tell your story simply; don’t swell on mistakes or failures unless they taught a lesson
…Use pictures or appropriate illustrations to help make your story live

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Princess Five - Broke a Leg at the Theater

If you have ever been in the theater, you will know that before any performance, they tell you "Break a leg" for good luck. Well, if you do well in a play, I figure you tell the actor that they "broke a leg!" 

Princess Five was in a beginning drama class this semester at school. Since being in that class, she has tried out for three different plays or scenes for performance and competitions and gotten parts in all of them and is going head to head for a seat to the next competition. She has been talking about drama, plays, and scenes for weeks. 

If you remember last summer, I posted about her being in the summer play "Grease" where she did a wonderful job. Click here for that post.

For years we have been in the community plays and any stage opportunity the girls can find, they take. They LOVE being on stage. 

Here is a post about her being in "Oliver" the summer before last with our exchange student.

Her first play was "The king and I" when she was about two. She was the youngest child of the King and would run on stage and leap up into her fathers arms and he would twirl her and pat her on the head etc. 

Of course, watching a cute two year old doing a move like that would bring "oohs and aahs" from the audience and I think that was when the theater "bug" attacked her. 

She was in a Shakespeare play as Ophelia last year they did at the park. Here is a post about that.

Here is the first link I posted when she picked up the guitar for the first time. Just over a year later, here she is on stage singing in front of a crowd. It is amazing to me where she went in a year. From never playing to writing songs and performing in front of large audiences. 

There are some people who can act. There are some people who can sing. There are some people who can dance. Isn't it extra wonderful when you can find someone that can do two or three of those things. 

Princess not only can do all three of those things but she is beautiful as well. As her mom, I can totally have the bragging rites on this. I am sure I am not the only one that thinks this. :-)

If you look at the smile in the top picture and the laugh in the bottom picture, those are something you can't fake. You either love being on stage or you don't. You can see by the ear to ear smile, she really does love acting. They are putting the next play on film as someone is contemplate doing a movie form of the play. Who knows, you may just see Princess Five on the big screen soon!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Princess Four is a SWEET Princess

About a week ago, I started receiving notes all over the house. I thought perhaps Princess Four was buttering me up for something as she started writing me such sweet notes about why she loved me and several that had her "Top ten things I love about mom" on them. 

She would leave them on my bed, slip them under my bedroom door at night or leave them on the washing machine etc. 

They kept coming. Every night, she slips another thoughtful note into my life. So, yesterday or the day before, I asked her if she was hoping to ask me something or wanted something from me. She laughed and said that she was doing it for herself. 

I think she is focusing on trying to be more grateful and more understanding of my life and the life that others may have. 

Over the Christmas break, she decided to write notes for every member of her dance team along with one for the coach. 

She spent HOURS writing notes to each girl telling them what she loves about them and admires in them. 

She wrote the notes and then folded them into their own little envelope with origami. The envelopes were as much a hit as the notes. Several of the girls figured out how she made the envelopes and then started making them as well. 

Today, one of the girls on the team that lives out of town needed a place to wait for her parents to come pick her up as the school was closing. She came to our house to wait and guess what she had under the plastic cover of her school notebook? Princess Four's note to her. 

Princess came home a few days ago and told me she had to go into the coaches office for something and in the center of the coaches desk..... You guessed it! Her note from Princess Four. 

Who would have thought that such a small thing as writing a note could make so many people happy. 

I think January is a hard time for some people as the holidays are over and there isn't much to look forward to and the weather is cold and winter is seeming long. Princess planning and writing those notes just now is about the time the team would need them as they head into competition time. 

I think she is inspired to do what she did and I know I am not the only one who appreciates her thoughtfulness at being remembered. Everyone needs to feel needed and appreciated. It makes you want to do more for the person. 

The analogy I use on my kids is this: If you buy a group of children an ice cream cone and only one comes back to thank you, which child do you want to give more to? It is like the story of the ten lepers. Only one came back.... I know God was teaching us with that story being included in the scriptures. He is reminding us that we need to show gratitude in all things. 

Once again, I will point you to the scripture I have on my home page which basically says, "He who giveth thankfulness in all things, I give a hundred fold and more." 

I know this to be true in my own life. I have been so blessed and his promises are sure. I have received a "Hundred" fold, many times. I will send you to this link where it was VERY literal. It is one of my favorite memories. 

Thank you Princess Four for making me feel loved and appreciated as well as your entire team. If I hadn't just written the top ten reason I love you, I would do it here! 

Monday, January 27, 2014

Muddy Buddy Chex Mix - Using a Chocolate Bar or Other Chocolate

Princess five has this thing for Muddy Buddies. Her friends have made it for her often and she has asked about making it several times but it seems like something has always kept us from making it. 
Today, she wanted to make it for her dance competition to share with her team mates. Princess Four had everything ready for making it when we arrived home. They only had two hours after school before they had to be at the school again until late into the evening.
She looked online for the recipe and then laughed when she found it on the box of Chex. The recipe states to use chocolate chips. I had "Dipping Chocolate" in the fridge and I had ground some to use in drinking chocolate. I want to clean out the chocolate drawer so I used that. You can use any type of chocolate or flavored chip or dipping chocolate. Basically, you just need 8 oz. A bag of chocolate chips is usually 12 oz. So as long as you are using a cup (give or take) of any chocolate or an 8 oz chocolate bar or brick, it really doesn't matter. 

The recipe also has you use the microwave. Many times, chocolate gets burned or thick being melted in the microwave and you have to take it out and stir it often. I prefer using a double boiler or a crock pot to melt my chocolate depending on how fast I need it melted. 

Basically, if you don't own a double boiler, just fill one sauce pan with a cup or two of hot water and bring it to a boil. Put a second pan just smaller than the first pan inside the other pan and put the chocolate into the inner sauce pan. 

Stir regularly and be careful to avoid the steam coming out between the pans. It is HOT and can burn you. Only do this if there is an adult there who knows what they are doing. This way you won't burn the chocolate and it will melt evenly if you stir regularly. 

When the chocolate is almost melted, add the butter. When they are all melted, add the peanut butter. When that is melted and it is all smooth, add the vanilla. Mix well and dump on the Chex cereal. 

I wish I had taken a picture but forgot as Princess Five washed her hands and mixed the chocolate in with her clean hands. 

In the recipe, it also says to shake it in a bag to cover with powdered sugar. She went through two bags as they ripped. She was shaking vigorously however.

You can use any chocolate or any flavored chips. When there is some peanut butter the kids don't like the taste of or it is getting older, this is a great way to use it up. The girls for some reason don't like this particular brand of peanut butter but had no problem eating the mix made with it. 

Princess Five was really cute getting it ready to take with her tomorrow. I think she will enjoy sharing one of her favorite treats. Good luck Princess. 

Here is the recipe off the box: 

9cups Rice Chex®, Corn Chex® or Chocolate Chex® cereal (or combination)
1cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2cup peanut butter
1/4cup butter or margarine
1teaspoon vanilla
11/2cups powdered sugar

Preparation Directions
1.Into large bowl, measure cereal; set aside.
2.In 1-quart microwavable bowl, microwave chocolate chips, peanut butter and butter uncovered on High 1 minute; stir. Microwave about 30 seconds longer or until mixture can be stirred smooth. Stir in vanilla. Pour mixture over cereal, stirring until evenly coated. Pour into 2-gallon resealable food-storage plastic bag.
3.Add powdered sugar. Seal bag; shake until well coated. Spread on waxed paper to cool. Store in airtight container in refrigerator.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Cheapest Way to Fill Printer Cartridges of All Types

For years, I have filled my own ink cartridges. The first time I started, I bought the refill pack from somewhere like Office Max. It was about $30.

After some time, I started looking for refill kits at yard sales and second hand stores. When I was going through my court cases over the years for my divorce, the ink getting things ready for court could have put a child through college. The above kit I bought for $3 a few years ago. Since then, I just keep buying smaller kits and adding to my supply in the big kit. Today, I found this kit for $4 at a second hand store. It had never been used. The price on the kit as you can see at the top of the box was originally $35.

The kit will refill one cartridge 8 times. That means I am getting my ink cartridge for $0.50 each. However, $4 for a new kit is usually more than I pay and sometimes there are black and color cartridge ink in a kit as in the kit above which only cost me $3 for the entire kit. So, I am getting my cartridges for almost nothing.

My sister kept telling me she needed to get cartridges for her printer and finally one day I said something about filling her own. She said it was expensive to buy the kits to refill her own. I told her how I bought my ink at the second hand stores etc. It was funny but I guess she thought I was buying ink cartridges at the second hand store that were new and was using a needle to suck the ink out of the cartridges for other computer printers.

She started buying up the new cartridges for $1 or less and opening them, inserting the refill needles from the kits and would suck the ink out of the cartridge and then squirt it into her cartridge that was empty.

Later, I was talking to her at a second hand store and she was excited about picking up some ink cartridges for really cheap. I asked why she was getting all the different sizes. She said, "Oh, I do like you do, getting the ink out of the cartridges with the needle and sticking the ink into my cartridge."

I told her I had never even thought about doing that. She said that she thought that was what I was telling her to do when we talked. I thought it was brilliant but it was NOT my idea and that wasn't what I meant but guess who NEVER buys new cartridges anymore? Yep, she still refills her ink using other sized printer cartridges.

I have never needed to try this as I have a good supply as you can see, and I keep my eyes open for "refill" kits and so far, I have had plenty. I thought I would share this story so you can have that as an option. It costs whatever the other cartridge would cost you. Or, you could put an add on a yardsale site or in the paper asking for people to donate old cartridges and get them for free. I know some people probably have a few old ones in the desk that may not fit the new one they would probably just give you.

The other thing I have done when a cartridge stops working as sometimes they get broken or stopped up, is I will buy new, unopened cartridges for $1 if they aren't past expiration and will take the to "Cartridge World" and exchange them for the type of cartridge I do need. They take most makes and models cartridges and if they are full and unopened, they will many times just do an even exchange. A few times, I have had to give them a dollar or two if the one I needed was a bit bigger than the one I gave them.

I have not bought a new cartridge in about ten years or so. I am SO glad I decided to start refilling my own cartridges.

I am not sure why I was so scared at first to try and refill my own ink cartridges, I then just decided to read the instructions and try. It is funny how sometimes some of the simplest things can seem overwhelming. 

It is REALLY easy to fill your own cartridges. Most kits come with with everything you need to refill any brand cartridge. Some kits are specific to one type but EVERY kit I have ever purchased would do most any cartridge as they give you a few options.

The kit comes with a syringe and needle. Some come with a poker to get into the ink. I usually just use the needle to puncture the foil on the top of the lid of each ink bottle. There is usually a sticker of some type to cover the hole once you refill the cartridge so the ink doesn't dry up or leak out. There is sometimes a "Head cleaner" to wipe away the old ink of the "foot" or "head" of the cartridge but not all kits have this. I have rarely used it and usually a damp paper towel works fine.

 Some kits have black rubber stoppers to put over, or in the refill hole but I think that older type is not as common anymore. That is about all the comes in each kit. Some have written instructions and some have a DVD to show you how . Basically, what I show here is it. You can probably find 5,000 youtube videos on how to refill it so I didn't want to take the time to do a video but I figures this post may just inspire you to try to do it yourself and that is good enough for me. 

Some companies say it will ruin your computer printer if you refill your own but basically, that is there way to get you to purchase their own brand. It would be really hard to ruin your printer that way. Chances are, you should get a new printer if it is that finiky that you can't use refilled cartridges. Over the years, I have saved myself enough in filling my own to purchase many printers over. Every three cartridges, you could buy a new printer. Just a thought if you have one of "those" type printers.

You get your ink cartridge out of your printer.  Peel back the label covering the top of the cartridge. In black, fill the top hole. In color, notice on the sticker you peeled back what color of ink is beneath that hole. When filling a color one, you have to fill each hole separately so just do the same with each hole using the color of ink for that hole.

Poke a hole in the top of the foil that covers and seals the ink. Use the syringe to pull out a few ml's of ink.
The amount you insert into the cartridge depends on how big it is. There is a sponge in the cartridge to hold the ink. Put your needle in until it is on the sponge. As you can see in the needle picture, there are some needles that are straight and some that are bent and the bent one has a hole in the side of the needle. I like the side one as it doesn't get stopped up by the sponge. Sometimes when you have the straight one, if you are pushing it in, it gets a little stiff pushing it in because it is stuck into the sponge.

Most kits do come with the straight needle though and it does work so it isn't a big deal. Once you have the syringe full and stuck into the filling hole, once it is touching the sponge, SLOWLY start pushing the ink in. If gas came out in a stream with lots of pressure, it would push the nozzle out of the car spraying gas everywhere. It is like that. Just slowly fill the cartridge. Push the ink in until you can see ink in the hole but not coming out of the hole. I figure it is better to under fill it than have ink everywhere.

Once you fill the cartridge, rinse the needle and syringe out in the sink and clean up any residue so you don't stain your  sink or counter.

Either use the same sticker that was on the cartridge to seal it back up or use one of the stickers that the refill package gives you. I usually just reseal it with the same sticker as you can see, I never fully removed it.

Be careful not to shoot any AIR into the cartridge. If you have air in the syringe with the ink, flip the side while you are pushing it in and the air will rise to the back/top of the syringe so you don't get air into the cartridge.

The other thing is, never shake the ink or the syringe as that can cause foam or air bubbles in the ink which can cause the cartridge to dry up and have problems. If you spilled a little ink on the top of the cartridge, just dab it off as you can see I did with a paper towel so that the sticker will stick and you won't have ink all over.

You can wear rubber gloves when you fill them as some kits do come with them but I usually forget to wear them. I usually do get some on my fingers but not much. Also, DO NOT EVER DO THIS OVER CARPET or anything made of fabric. Always fill it over a counter or sink just in case you have a problem. Today, I pushed a needle into the foil and it exploded some and sent drops of ink onto the counter. It was an easy wipe to clean up but if I had done it at desk, I would have had ink on papers, carpet etc.

Lastly, I use a slightly damp paper towel to BLOT, not wipe, the foot of the cartridge. You can use the store foot cleaner or alcohol but I usually just use a slight amount of water and then blot the foot clean until I have a clear "foot print" where only the square of the foot shows and not black all over from the mess at the bottom of the dirty foot. ALSO - When cleaning, DON'T turn it upside down like I did in the picture. Sometimes the ink you just put in can leak out the back hole making a mess. Hold the cartridge upright and just blot it onto the paper until you see the little rectangle like I show here and not all the side messy stuff.

I show in the picture how the "foot" sticks out and is where the ink comes out of the cartridge. You can see how I have ink all over kinda messy on the sides of the paper towel, but then it comes out in a nice clean rectangle and that is what you want. Then, just put it back into the printer and treat it like you would any new cartridge that you just got. I like to print something right away to "prime" the cartridge and make sure it is working.

There have been a few times it got clogged because I shook the ink and I guess it had stuff in the bottom. Another time, I shoved the needle into the sponge and I guess parts of the sponge clogged the place the ink comes out so if you have those problems, take that cartridge to "Cartridge World" or another place and tell them you are having a problem with it. they will weigh it and give you credit towards a new one. For the most part, I have not had any problems and have saved myself a TON of money in new cartridges.

Happy Filling!