Thursday, September 14, 2023

How to find a new home for your stuff without stressing out

I cleaned and sold on consignment for a friend
Storing stuff seems to be a favorite past time for many American consumers. The shiny fruit is too irresistible. Worse than voluntary acquisition is involuntary inheritance. Don't get me wrong, my family heirlooms are my most treasured items. As a vintage seller, there is nothing I like more than an  antique piece of furniture or a piece of art deco jewelry with a beautiful patina. But as we age, how can we whittle our treasures down to what our heirs want in order to not burden them with a bunch of unwanted junk?

Trash or Treasures?
Recently I was the executor of a dear friends estate. She loved to buy things, and she had developed quite an online ordering addiction. As a vintage seller, it was quite interesting to go through her estate but it was unbelievably overwhelming, even for me! Mixed in with the good was the mess which is never fun to sort through. Fortunately she assigned the right people to deal with her items after she passed and we knocked it out over a series of months and were able to save the treasures and dispose of the rest. Out of respect for her, not to mention I'm personally committed to reducing the waste that goes into a landfill, we were able to divert many things into others hands.

Technology changes fast, equipment obsolete
How can one avoid leaving a disaster area for family before one passes on? Waiting to cull your stash at end of life is not the way to go about doing this right. Graduated gifting is my preferred way of getting rid of things and there are several free sites where one can gift almost anything, even what one would consider to be junk. Joining several local Facebook buy and sell groups is currently the way to move items. Even simpler is to give to a local thrift store. Please consider donating first to the SPCA, salvation army, refugee organization, or church charity.

My Grandmother, a keeper!
Additionally, identify items of historical family significance and find those heirs that are interested in such things and pass them along now so there is no confusion once you have departed. Identifying items of value can be tricky but google has become pretty helpful in such matters. Try googling a few items that you believe to be valuable and see what you can discover. No one wants to accidently donate a valuable piece. You hear about it from time to time. I wonder how much of this is due to panic selling. Overwhelmed by a family members death and just wanting to get rid of all the stuff. One person's trash can indeed be someone else's treasure. I remember as my Grandmother aged she was throwing out the baby with the bathwater. She didn't need all this stuff any more. I remember grabbing sterling silver out of the items she had set aside for a garage sale.

Country cute, not worth the energy or time
The key to selling is to gradually do it and not try to get rid of everything in a weekend out of desperation. Chip away at your stash and make progress. I would recommend that you set aside anything that you really treasure or believe is valuable and start with the "junk and excess stuff".

If you believe you have a somewhat valuable item that could bring you some revenue, by all means, try to sell it. I don't sell anything for less than $15, it's just not worth the time and energy unless your are desperate to pay the light bill! Facebook Marketplace is the easiest place to list and sell right in your own community. The speed of listing has all but taken over selling from Craigslist (which still is a viable option). You can ship through Facebook but that's another complication you don't need initially.

Mirror's perfect for FB Marketplace
Listing on Marketplace is somewhat of an art. Like anything that catches on, scammers target inexperienced listers. If your list an item that is of significant value, a scammer will hit you up seconds after you list. Before messaging anyone back, check their profile to see how old their account is. An account created yesterday with a top models photo is a dead giveaway that it's a scam. Accounts with no followers are dead giveaways as being fake. Do not ever, ever, ever, under any circumstance give out your cell number to anyone that asks! They will steal your Facebook account or sell your phone number to other scammers. If a buyer can only find your meet up spot or house by calling your cell number, then they have no business buying an item through Facebook. Ignore, report and block any account that appears to be fake as a scam and move on. Price items higher than your bottom line price because rarely does anyone pay full price on Marketplace.

Seek expert advise for tricky collections.
If you don't have time to research or sell things, look for a friend of family member that is a savvy seller that can help for a fee. Often it's a matter of trying to determine what has value and what doesn't so you can actually take the first step to dispose of items. For your sanity, it just might be worth paying someone to help you! If you have a really really valuable collection you will need a reliable second opinion. I recommend you only discuss your collection with someone that is an expert or is a close friend or family member. Sadly there are scammers waiting to take advantage.

It's not acceptable to buy more stuff to replace what you are gifting or selling. The habit of acquiring needs to come to an end in for your to make progress! Picking up free stuff that you really don't need, has to be halted. Move your life forward to be a considerate consumer, purchasing only what you NEED to live on, helping to save the environment from industrial pollution created from the manufacture of new goods.

I hope this helps to get you started. Set a goal to identify three items a day to get rid of in an environmentally conscience manner.


Sunday, August 20, 2023

Annual National Butterfly Count in Albemarle County Charlottesville Crozet Virginia

Monarch on Milkweed
One of my favorite things to do is participate in the annual butterfly count. Around the same time each year, several teams scour Albemarle county in search of butterflies. Tallies are sent into the North American Butterfly Association that keeps track of sightings nationwide. Counts occur at different times nationally depending upon when sightings are most likely.

Sulphur Butterfly in a flower field
This year it's been reported that numbers are down and we did find this to be true. Some believe it is because of the multiple torrential Spring rains that we experienced. Others feel it might be from the late cold snap, the same one that wiped out my Peach and Plum blossoms leaving me fruitless this year.

Big eyed Robber Fly grabbed a Bee
Insects are a wonderful indicator species that can give us a heads up if something is off-kilter. Approximately 30 different butterfly species can be found in our area. It would be nearly impossible for all 30 to be accounted for during the annual count. We also track the number of individual butterflies in each species. The big numbers usually come in for Tiger Swallowtails but not this year. Other more rare species were even harder to find. Sadly no Zebra Swallowtails in my yard this year.

National numbers have been collected for 30 years. I'm glad someone is watching and I certainly have found it fascinating and educational. I've learned so much about nature from the counts. I always encounter some strange plant, tree, or insect leaving me inspired to continue searching for new critters while preserving native plantings in my own backyard. 

Tiger Swallowtail in Echinacea
~ Rebecca



Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Spring Beach Trip to Duck North Carolina, Beach Birds and Restaurants

Early April I slipped away to enjoy a week at the Beach with a dear friend. It was a perfect time of year before the Summer rush. I left my new greenhouse behind at a crucial time. I had my seedlings coming up in the greenhouse but it was pretty calm in the garden so it ended up a good decision.

The weather was generally warm enough in Duck, North Carolina to get outside every day. We booked a house ocean view with a hot tub. We even sat on the beach a few days but most of our time was spent hiking or reclining on the decks. I even found some time to rotate between two books and we attempted to read aloud one of my favorite books, The Devil in the White City, but it ended up being so very time consuming. We turned on the TV only once, the very last evening, because we were packing and trying to down leftovers.

The sunrises were glorious and our hikes were peaceful. We checked out a nearby trail, the Pine Island Audubon Nature Trail and made it up to Corolla several times to walk the supposed "wild horse areas". A lot of poo views but no ponies in sight. We headed out one day over to Manteo to visit The Elizabethan Gardens

As always, there were plenty of things to see and do. We had the best food ever and my fav coffee shop with enormous biscuits, Treehouse Cafe, had just opened for the season. A word to the wise, wait until April 1 to go to Duck as many restaurants do not fire up until then! Missing out on all that good food would be so sad. Our favorite found restaurant was NC Coast Bar and Grill. We discovered their wonderful beignets so had to hit it twice, once for a dinner sunset. An interesting phenomenon is that the sun rises only over the beach and the sun sets only over the sound side (the outer banks is a barrier island strip having 2 open sides). If your beach house is situated on the ocean side you have to go over to the sound side to see a sun set so restaurants on that side are busy during that period of the day.

Curiously we didn't see any Ducks in Duck but enjoyed many Cormorants and my favorite seabird the Pelican. We had numerous flyovers of Pelicans and even saw a few Dolphins. There were not many bird sightings in the forests we hiked but my Merlin bird sound identification app on my phone picked up many different calls. I was surprised to see quite a few butterflies during this time of year.

It's never long enough but my greenhouse and messy gardens were calling me home.

Plan a trip somewhere this year, have some fun!


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