Kids-Clothes

Consignment shopping is an excellent way to purchase kids and baby clothes, often brand new and for less than one-third of the retail price. And most cities now have specialty consignment shops for babies, children and teens.

The consignment process is simple. If you are a seller, the store sets its criteria for accepting merchandise, and sets the price—usually 50 percent of the new retail price.

Kids-Clothes

Expect a consignment shop to have very high standards for what they will accept: Must be a current style, must be brought in clean and must have no visible wear, holes or stains. You can even bring in new items with tags still attached (you won’t believe all the new things in a consignment store). You bring your items to the store to be reviewed and submitted for sale (most stores have limited hours for this process, so call ahead).  Read more

The most amazing thing happened since my last post. You’ll recall I said we were going to take a week off. And we came this close to ordering all of the cabinets before we left for vacation. But at the last minute decided to wait until we returned. Good thing, too.

We got back into town and made a beeline for IKEA in Costa Mesa, Calif. Here’s the first thing I saw.

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Roasted Root

I generally don’t crave recipes with parsnips, turnips or sweet potatoes, but flip the calendar to fall and I’m glued to the Food Network watching tips and techniques for preparing root veggies. I wonder if Brenda read my mind! (If you’re new to EC, that’s Brenda Ponichtera, R.D., our favorite dietician.)

Roasted Root

Some rights reserved by Dinner Series

This month, Brenda’s recipes include roasted root vegetables and a healthy version of the classic entree, Chicken Cordon Bleu. If you want to serve them together, Brenda adjusts the cooking time so you can bake them alongside each other. Read more

Dear Mary,

Recently my sister and I spent a day shopping at outlets. I was pretty pleased with some good deals I scored, especially one sweater I found for 50 percent off. But then a couple days later I went to my local mall and saw the same sweater on sale for even less! Needless to say, I was pretty annoyed. Is there any way to guarantee I’m getting the best bargain when shopping at an outlet? Sandy, email

Potomac Mills JCPenney Outlet mall entrance
Dear Sandy,

Outlet shopping can produce some great bargains, but you have to be particularly careful. You can find first-quality overruns, seconds, samples, prototypes, discontinued items, and even merchandise made to sell in outlets only. Outlets are where retailers send their manufacturing goofs. They might look great on the rack, but perhaps the fabric was cut off-grain or they are not true to size. Don’t assume everything is a bargain.

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Sale

I don’t know if the world is getting older, or we all just have too many things to remember, but more and more memory-saving tips are landing in my inbox. Let me just say, “thanks, keep ‘em coming!”

COUPON REMINDER. I used to have such a challenge remembering to use the instant coupons that came stuck to the front of a product. I’d get home from the grocery store and there it was, still stuck to the product. One day it dawned on me what to do. When I pick the product off the shelf, I IMMEDIATELY stick the coupon over the bar code. That way, if I get busy unloading the basket the clerk will have to remove it to scan the product! Sylvia, Louisiana

Sale

ODOR-FREE ONION STOCKPILE. Make sure when you are freezing onions to use freezer bags, not just sandwich zip-type bags. Bags designed for the freezer do a better job of keeping the food’s odors from escaping. I mean, who wants their freezer to smell like onions? Tina, EC blog

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Candy

Okay, I’ll say a word and you respond with the first thing that pops into your head:

Me: January

You: White Sales!

Excellent response—the very one I was hoping for to set the tone for this column. It’s important to note that times have changed with these monthly sale guides. In recent years, some of the best sales often take place immediately before the related holiday or season.

Here’s a month-by-month guide for the best times to purchase all sorts of consumer goods:

October. This is the big candy month. Stock up for all your holidays. And it may be a good time to buy a new car, if you must. In October, salespeople are getting nervous about meeting or beating year-end quotas.

Candy

November. Turkeys are priced dirt cheap from now through Christmas. So are cranberries and baking supplies. Stock the freezer because a turkey that remains frozen is good for at least a year.   Read more

I care that with so much abundance around me, still there are hungry people right here in my own community. It breaks my heart to think of the millions of children who go to bed hungry every night.

I’m not proud to say that I hadn’t thought about world hunger much until my friend Dr. Kate Thornton, Director of Hunger and Sustainability Initiatives at Auburn University launched the Why We Care campaign.

People, we have to do something about this. It’s good to care and to hope, but those are not strategies. Caring and hoping are emotions. We need to put feet to care and hope. I’m so concerned about how much food we waste in our home, but concern doesn’t get nourishing food to people who are going to bed hungry tonight.

I want to encourage you to start caring, too, but to do more than that. Today I am going to take the money I would have spent on some “want” and give it to someone who is hungry. There are lots of charitable organizations that are doing such a great job of feeding the hungry, but working in ways that are effective. I am particularly fond of Compassion International. They have a great track record of getting a big percentage of every dollar donated right to the need. That’s important to me.

Do you care about hunger? Take a picture and tell us why, then post it at the Why Care Campaign page as well. Then stop for a moment and thank God that your kids are not experiencing the pain of hunger―that you have enough to feed them and yourself, too.

Jumping

Celebrate? With all that’s going on in our economy, our nation—our world? You may be thinking that’s the last thing you’ll be doing now, or any time soon. If so, let me encourage you to think again. Now, of all times, we need to celebrate wherever and whenever possible.

In their book, Why Good Things Happen to Good People, authors Stephen Post and Julie Neimark tell us that celebration is one of the most important ways that we express gratitude. Celebration is gratitude in action, and celebration—like rest, seat belts and green leafy vegetables—is good for us!

Jumping

Celebration creates joy. Feeling down in the dumps? Celebrate something or someone. The gratitude you feel as a result of celebrating others, or creation in general, will help you to be less materialistic and therefore more easily satisfied with what life brings your way. It’s a fact that gratitude actually creates joy within our souls.  Read more

Potatoes

I thought it was a fluke, a lucky find. Imagine 5-pounds of potatoes for just $.99. The regular price for 5-pounds is about $3.99 at my supermarket. I grabbed two bags so fast it made my head spin. Now, months later I can relax because that’s the regular price for potatoes at my local dollar store. Such a great buy and one that’s sent me in search of knock-your-socks-off potato recipes. Check these out, and just see if your family doesn’t rave the way mine does!

Potatoes

Some rights reserved by jemasmith

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Woman-Worried-Bills

Dear Mary,

My husband has always handled the family finances, but I’ve decided that I want a say in what we do with our money. After all, what would I do if something happened to him? The problem is, I’m not exactly a financial whiz. I don’t know anything about stocks and bonds, retirement funds, and so on. And my husband isn’t too keen on teaching me. He thinks that I should trust him to make the right decisions for our family, and gets offended anytime I question him.

I don’t want to fight with him about this, but I feel strongly about learning how to handle money on my own. Where should I start? Jolene, email

Woman-Worried-Bills

Dear Jolene,

First, let me applaud you for your desire to become involved in this area of your marriage. You say that you want to be involved in the financial decisions, but if your husband gets offended and takes your request to mean you do not trust him, the two of you have a communication problem. Read more

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