May I brag for a moment...

Thursday, August 29, 2013

When we bought our house over 15 years ago, the front door only had one regular old lock.  We live in  Miami. It's not New York City  but one lock does not seem like enough. We had a locksmith come out and put a medco lock on as a second lock. Medco keys cannot be duplicated without an id and you have to be the person who applied for the lock. In other words, your housekeeper can't make a copy of it.   

On Tuesday morning, the key broke in the lock.  It was my idea to use chewing gum and a coat hanger to try to retrieve it but luckily my husband put the kabash on that.   We contacted a locksmith. Because we have a fancy-schmancy Medco lock, the cost could be up to $300.

We googled "how to get a broken key out of a lock" and a tough guy type explained how to do it using a little wire "broken key retriever" tool.  Our locksmith does not sell them. Neither do the hardware stores.  Luckily Amazon did so we decided to risk the $17.50  it would cost to buy and ship the tools overnight to us (This was $17.50 total with shipping). They came the very next day (gotta love Amazon!) and they loooked like a lock picking kit or something.  No directions or anything.

My amazing, wonderful, handy husband was able to retrieve the key using the tool and some wd-40.  Woo Hoo$ 283.00 saved! Shoe money!  

Here is the dead key!

Isn't my spouse fabulous? Aren't I the smartest girl EVER to marry such a home-improvement stud? 

An eBay Post....

Sunday, August 25, 2013

I've been a powerseller on eBay for over 10 years. Even when my babies were small and when I had my three retail businesses, I always kept a little eBay going on.   Right now, I am in full force I have over 500 listings a month and two seller ids.   People always ask me questions about my eBaying so here are a few of the most asked questions and answers...

Isn't it a lot of work to sell on eBay?

Well, yes and no. Many of my consignment clients try it themselves (who can blame them as they get to keep all of the money and not split it with me) but it is sort of like painting your own house or fixing your own car. If it is small job, it is probably worth saving a few bucks but big jobs should often be left to professionals.

Between my two eBay ids, I have over 7000 positive feedbacks. I have regular customers. I don't have the selling limits that eBayers with low feedback have. Due to my long-standing good record, not only do I have listing and selling down to a science, I consistently get the highest prices for my items. (I check this quite often)

If you have a thing or two to sell, it is very easy to snap a photo and list. If it sells, then you need to ship it out right away!  If you have a carload (as many of my clients have) , it is best left to the professional (me)

Why do you have two selling ids?

I started the second id to sell my own stuff when I started the consignment business but now, I just have two because one has an eBay "store" and the other does not. Ebay often rewards its store owners by NOT inviting them to amazing free listing sales. This seems counter-intuitive but in the eBay world, fair  does not always exist. For example, I pay over $50 a month for my eBay store (in addition to listing and sales fees). The the other non-store id gets 50 free listings a month but they often run a sale allowing free listings. This month there was one and I went crazy with free listings and sold A LOT.

What program to you use to list and keep track?

I use GarageSale for Mac. It took some getting used to but was a one time fee and hosts all of my listings and photos and it is really easy to relist from there. I use ebay's own application called Outright to keep track of expenses for tax purposes.

Yes, if you sell over a certain amount in a year, you get a nice tax form to file with the IRS. Keep this in mind if you decide to run an online garage sale or something.

Do you have any other questions, I'd love to make eBay a recurring theme on my blog!

Here are my sites.

The store one: SouthBeachChic
The non-store one: CasaChic

It's the beginning of the end???

Saturday, August 24, 2013

During our  much needed walk along Hollywood Beach this morning, my husband and I stumbled upon the newly destroyed park and parking lot which was bulldozed to make Margaritaville. This is not going to be your usual Margaritaville restaurant. It is a Margaritaville resort where parrotheads from around the world can live the Jimmy Buffet lifestyle while on vacation.

There was a poster up showing what the 349-room resort was going to look like in 18-24 months when it is completed. 

Even though my husband and I are not "parrotheads", we stood at the rendition and wished it was open already for a check in. We could use a few days of  margaritas and island music. While I was daydreaming about the thought of lounging by the pool while my kids played on the hotels planned flowriders, two cranky locals came up to us and said "It's the beginning of the end".

You see, Hollywood Beach is one of the last commercial beach areas in South Florida that has not been upgraded. Many of the beachy places, most famously, South Beach, had developers move in and buy up properties and upgrade them.  This led to many small places being kicked out, mostly due to higher rents. It also led to world class hotels and restaurants being opened in our back door. Amazing shops and big festivals such at Art Basel came to Miami Beach.

The Beach in Hollywood is absolutely gorgeous. The little mom and pop souvenir stands and cafes look like cheap-y beach. Hey, I never complain about the delicious breakfast with the million dollar view that my husband and I often partake in for less than ten bucks at a tiny little cafe. However, the hotels and apartments along the beach look down-right dingy. If they were not on the beach, you would expect crack moms to be hanging out in them.  Bringing a beautiful resort to the area makes such sense. 

To the two old cranks who interrupted my daydream about being wasted away again in Margaritaville, please keep your negativity to yourselves. The place is going to create jobs and re-vitalize the place. Plus, cheeseburgers taste better in paradise! 

I liked it twice!!!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

I've blogged about this before but seriously, this is my favorite thing (besides ebay of course)

It is called Like Twice

You just sign up and request a bag. You fill up the bag with your gently used clothes and they paypal you money or give you a store credit to shop in their store!

I've done this three times already with my clothes that just did not sell on ebay due to their lineage. This stuff was from GAP, J.CREW, Bloomingdales, etc.  This type of stuff does not have a huge sell through rate on ebay so I was happy to get anything for the stuff. (The next stop was goodwill).

I just sent in a few things again and my paypal account is $50 richer.

I've made over $200 in the past few months doing this so
it is a good reason to clean out your closet.

Here is the link if you are interested

Back to School....

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

School started down here on Monday.  Yes, it is the middle of August. Yes, it is a million degrees out in Miami and kids should be in the pool, not school. Too bad, so sad, it is a fact of life here that they start school so darn early.

Sadder still is the fact that the geniuses of the world decided that 7:20 a.m. is a great time to see the bright cheery faces of high schoolers. The people who need more sleep than anyone other than infants start school when the sun is rising. Our bus comes between 6:15 and 6:30 a.m. I really think that life would be cheerier for all those involved if they started school around 9:30 or 10 a.m.

Luckily, everyone had a great first day and it looks like it will be a great year! 179 days left until summer!

My Beautiful Laundrette...

Monday, August 19, 2013

My Beautiful Laundrette is the title of an artsy film from the 80's.  The last time that I recall being at a laundromat was sometime in the 80's.   Today, I took all 100 pounds of the camp trunks to a laundromat.  It was not beautiful or artsy.

I left my house at 6:20 a.m. I was awake anyway and if I remembered correctly, laundromats are not air-conditioned, even in steamy Florida.

As I pulled into the open-air place in a decent-ish neighborhood,  I was immediately accosted by a strung out old lady asking if I wanted to buy a plastic flower.  I told her that I needed all my quarters for the laundry. As it turns out, this was not a lie.

I dragged in the four camp trunks and a bottle of this. Tide should re-name it Tide anti-stinky.

The laundromat was open 24 hours and there was no attendant. There were three men doing laundry and they all looked like pedophiles to me but pretty much ignored me. Perhaps it was because it looked like I was dragging four body bags into the place. It was an open air place and right on a major street (US 1) so I not really nervous. Had there been an attendant, I would have seen if I could just drop off and pay to have her do it , but no such luck.

There were five huge washing machines. I started to load up all of the smelly stuff into them when I noticed that it was $5.00 a load! Whoa!!! The last time I did coin laundry, my roommate and I split a roll of quarters and still had enough left over for a game of quarters. I did not have enough cash to complete the whole job!

The laundromat did not have an ATM so I huffed it across the street to Dunkin Donuts. The nice ladies there advised that they had plenty of white sugar demons but no ATM and I'd have to head a block away to the McDonald for more cash!

As I walked down US 1, I truly hoped that no one I knew saw me. I'm sure it appeared that I was looking to buy drugs.  Luckily McDonalds had an ATM and I withdrew cash and headed back to my beautiful launderette named Swifty

As the sun came up, I not only filled up five jumbo washing machines but two extra large ones for a total of 7. Here's the view from my folding table. I was wondering why no one else grabbed this spot but the sun started to blind me as it rose.

Then came the fun part, the drying.  The machines at Swifty take one quarter at a time. This buys you about five minutes.   I loaded up ten of the dryers and then had to stand them and keep putting in quarters as each one stopped.   I think that the other patrons there at that early morning were giving me the stink eye for taking up so many dryers.  Is there some type of laundromat etiquette? I hope not but I doubt that I'm ever going back so I really don't care. I wanted to get this dirty job over with as fast as possible.

At 7:30, a helper got dropped off by his father after a bribe of a dunkin donut and a little cash was accepted. He helped by putting quarter after quarter in the dryers that I was hogging and with the heavy lifting of the ikea bags of clean laundry into my car. You know that I love my ikea bags!

By 8:30 a.m., all of the camp clothes and trunks were washed, dryed, folded and on the way home.  

While the laundromat was a little bit creepy, this was a brilliant idea. I would have been doing the stinky laundry at home for days and days.  

By the way, I always use fragrance free detergent. My favorite is All Clear, however, the Tide Sport with Febreeze was a rock star for this tough job.  I can't believe how clean and fragrant the clothing is. I'd highly recommend it for a dirty job.  (This is an un-paid, un-solicited opinion/review)

Please help me!!!

Friday, August 16, 2013

I am still going through the carload of stuff that my friend gave me to list on eBay.  I don't know how to list this little beauty. She used it to hold remote controls but I have no idea what is actually for or called.

Any ideas my blogger friends?

It is heavy and about the size of a placemat. It is wood and has leather in the middle. Brass handles and feet. No markings anywhere.

Sometime a little procrastination works out...

Monday, August 12, 2013

My boys were going to Sleep-away camp. Sometime after Christmas, the camp travel agent sent an email with the options for the camp flights. My camp has so many kids from South Florida, that they are able to have most of the kids go up and back on chartered flights.   Camp seemed so far away back then and my husband and I could not plan that far ahead. Were we going to go on a road trip to camp? Fly up with them and make a vacation out of it? Put them on the plane one-way, both ways or not at all. 

We did not decide until June! A spring career change meant that there was no summer travel plans for us this year.  We were going to just send them on the plane both ways. By that time, there was no room on the main flight coming home. (it was non-stop)  They had another option. About 40 kids were flying on another airline but there was a change of planes involved.  The flight did have chaperones so we just paid for it and booked it.

Yesterday, the first non-stop flight was supposed to be home at 2:30 (my nephew was on that one). Our flights were supposed to arrive at 4:30.   The non-stop flight was delayed and delayed due to mechanical issues. Eventually it landed at midnight.   My boys were on time and I was hugging them at 4:30!  Sometimes procrastinating does work out. (Most of the time is does not)

They had a blast at camp. The best summer ever!  Now the stinky camp bags are heading my way. Pee eww!!! I'm thinking of just throwing them in my car and taking them to a laundry mat so that I can get that dirty job completely over with in a few hours rather than pull that stuff into my house and launder it over the course of days.  It rained a lot at camp and I'm thinking that every thing is going to be extra damp and moldy. Any thoughts?

Calling all Collectors..

Friday, August 9, 2013

When I was a little girl, my mom went to a party at someone's house and the next day she told me how the man had traveled all over the world and had collected elephant figurines from all over. He only had ones with the trunks up because ones with the trunks up are good luck. I am not sure if trunk down is bad luck but my mom decided that she would also start to collect elephants with trunks up only.

Once word got out that she collected these things, it seems like elephant figurines started to multiply around my house like baby rabbits. They came in all colors, sizes and styles. Anytime anyone needed to get her a gift or souvenir, another elephant appeared. At some point, I think she realized that she did not really want to collect and display elephants but it was too late.

 The elephant invasion stopped finally stopped when my parents moved after I left for college.  My Dad was a real estate developer and my parents got to move into a model home. It was professionally decorated and came with everything except linens and dishes.  The elephants were either sold at garage sale or donated to charity.  To this day, there is not one elephant in that house.

I had a pez collection in my office when I was a lawyer. They are now in shoe boxes in a closet. I can't bear to part with them but I don't really want to look at them.  My son had a beanie baby collection when he was an infant which was started by the elephant grandma. He was born right during the height of the craze and she could not stop buying them for him.  They were dust collectors and worth way less than the original prices and were given to goodwill several years ago.

My kids now collect Disney and Hard Rock pins. They keep them in albums under their beds. They had quite a collection and when I started to add up how much we have spent on those over-priced pieces of metal, I get a little bit nauseous.   At least they don't take up a lot of room.

Right now, the only thing that I really collect are shoes but they are useful and a necessity, so I'm not sure that this counts as a collection.  

What do you collect? How do you display it? What other interesting collection habits do you know about? Please tell. Enquiring minds want to know.

Thanks for inspiring this blog idea today!

And I thought that I was a crazy camp mom....

Thursday, August 8, 2013

I just read an article from The Wall Street Journal titled Parents Scrutinize Online Camp Photos to Check on Kids .  The article talks about crazy sleep-away camp mothers and their obsession with the photos that the camps post online.

This is an actual shot of my child! 

This is my sixth summer as a Sleep-away camp mom.  My oldest son started at age 10.  His camp does posts photos of the kids doing various activities. They have no schedule or method for posting. Some days they post hundreds of photos. Other days none. There is no set time for posting them.  Even when they post a lot of photos, there may be none of your kids.  Luckily, they do not post videos.

The photos are one of those things in life that are either great or horrible.  

The good:
-When your child writes you on the first day of camp, yet never again writes to you, you know he is alive

- Some of the shots are priceless. This week I spotted my son in a kayak race and at an amusement park. Last week the photog caught my cranky teenager cracking up.  They  looked amazing.

- When they get home, they have shots of their summer friends as they were way to busy having fun to stop and take any photos during camp.

- When you miss them and spot a photo of them, it is a nice feeling. During my eldest son's first year, my husband woke me up in the middle of the night after perusing the camp photos to show me the first perfect shot of him.

- My youngest son broke his arm during his first few days of camp during his first year. Seeing photos a few days later of him horseback riding and being pulled behind a boat on a tube made me realize that he was totally fine, even with the waterproof cast.

The bad:

- Days go by and you don't spot a photo of your child. You think about calling the camp to make sure he has not run away. One of my crazy friend has called  camp on more than one occasion in the past to demand a "proof of life" shot.

- During the first few years of camp, you must analyze every photo. "Is my child in the middle of the group photos or on the ends?"  "Is that smile fake?" "Why is he wearing the same t-shirt in every single photo for an entire week?"

The Ugly

- You spot your child in a sweatshirt in the daytime in July and everyone else is in a t-shirt. You cannot help yourself from writing him to figure out why he is being so weird.

- You spot your child with an ace bandage on his ankle. You have to speculate as to what happened until the camp office is open the next day (just a sprain)

- You wonder why they are not in photos with girls. You wonder why they are in too many photos with girls.

- One of my son's friends is at camp for his first year and looks miserable in every single photo. I truly think he is messing with his mother! 

Luckily, I am not as crazy as the parents in the WSJ article. One summer, one of my son's bunkmates seemed to be in every photo.  Turns out, his parents offered him a buck for every shot he got in. He probably bought himself a mercedes when he got home with the winnings!

I also don't tell my kids to do a thumbs up or other sign and I definitely don't pay for photo sightings.   I ask them to try to get in a photo with their brother and/or cousins at least once per summer. So far, nothing. Part of the camp experience is to become more independent.  Another part is to get away from your nagging mother.  Luckily for everyone, the campers will come home this weekend and I will get to see them in person.  

All Alone (poor me)

Monday, August 5, 2013

My boys are still at camp and my man had to go out of town all weekend for a business conference. I was going to go with him but we decided that I would not see him as he was booked all weekend. So Friday morning I dropped him off with no plans of what I was going to do to keep myself busy until late Sunday night.

My married girlfriends are all with their summer boyfriends as their kids are also at sleep-away camp. The kids are all coming back next week so I knew not to try to be a third wheel in those love-fests.

My unmarried  friends are just too wild on the weekends for me to hang out with. I challenge college girls to keep up with newly divorced 40-ish hot mamas on a Saturday night. These are not your mother's 40-ish friends. These are yoga-going, botox-taking, fabulous women who have ditched 180 pounds of ex-husband and are out for fun.  I am not interested in that. At all.  

So I barricaded myself in my house. I bought new dishes and totally cleaned out my kitchen. I really dug deep and pulled out a ton of stuff that we never use.  Goodwill hit the motherlode again. I am seriously keeping them in inventory this year. I moved stuff around. My kitchen is so organized right now. I feel like I could work at the container store.

I went to the high school uniform sale. The uniform company for both schools does not have a retail store in the area, so they do on-site sales. This means that I have to go to one for the high school and a different sale for the middle school.  I know, call the waambulance.  It was quite depressing walking into the high school gym to buy man-sized embroidered polo shirts. I am not ready for the summer to be over.   I have to do middle school next week. I hope that they did not grow too much at camp, or I will have to then return the shirts to timbuktoo, the location of the uniform store. 

I did some other work but did not finish all of the projects that are on my list as I got caught up in a Sex and the City marathon. Yes, I've seen every episode  but they just suck me in.  I still think Mr. Big is an  a-hole and she should have married Aiden.

My husband got home and while I was lonely, I tried to respect the lull and enjoy the silence. The boys are back in a week and the craziness starts up again.  

Dear Son...

Friday, August 2, 2013

In addition to old fashioned snail mail, I can send e-mails to my sons at sleepaway camp. You have to buy credits for one dollar per note  and you can send a text-only message (no photos) that will likely be read by the camp in the same way that prison guards read incoming inmate mail.   The kids cannot e-mail back.

My husband loves to write to them this way. I really don't and only do it when I have an urgent message to get to them.  It usually is on the last day of camp when I write " please leave any wet towels or clothing at camp and not place them in the bags for the five day un-airconditioned truck ride that the trunks take from North Carolina to Miami".

Here is today's email to my youngest child...

Dear Sam:

I know that you have not escaped from camp because I've seen some amazing photos of you on the camp website this week but I have only received one letter from you.   I am not mad at you for not writing to me even though I have written to you every single day including the five days before you actually left so that you would get mail during the first few days of camp.

That being said, you MUST write four letters before you leave camp. You must put stamps on these letters and actually mail them.  Please write to

Grandma B
Grandma S
Aunt J
Aunt K

I don't care if the letters just say "Camp is great! I love and Miss you". You are going to be in the dog house when you get home if this is not done.

I love and miss you so much honey.

Love Mom

It was supposed to be a silly GNO...

Thursday, August 1, 2013

I have a group of girlfriends that I have lunch or drinks with about once a month. They are my "fun friends". We laugh and gossip and then go off on our merry ways. I don't speak to any of them on a regular basis. I like them all and I know that if I needed something, they would help, but they are not my "core" friends. They are mostly entertainment.

I was looking forward to a summer girls night out (GNO) last night. Kids at camp usually make for the best GNO's.   I should have taken it as an omen that things were not going to be fantastic when two of the girls canceled. Then the remaining three of us could not pick a place to go.   We finally settled on our usual, over-priced watering hole inside the lounge of the fanciest steak place in town.  The drinks are $15 and up and the service is terrible but they don't try to rush us out of the table and they don't yell at us when we are laughing and being loud.

I got there and one of the girls was there.  While we waited for the last girl to show up she told me her latest drama. She is going through a bad break up. It is getting super-ugly. They were not married but lawyers are involved.  He is a jerk. She is a great girl. It is a good thing she is getting out alive.

Instead of laughing, there was crying. I was giving advice like Dear Abby.

My best advice of the night came when she was complaining about what everyone in town was going to say about their break up.  "Don't take this the wrong way but no one really gives a crap about your break up. You are not a Kardashian", I said.  I guess the ghost of Dear Abby does not have to worry about me taking over her column. Right?  

Seriously, I explained that even though they were a known couple in the community, people were not going to have whole dinners devoted to discussing the erosion of their relationship. They might wonder for a second as to who dumped who and/or why but I doubt that people that they know are really that interested.   

One of the few things that is good about getting older is that you don't care what people think as much. At least I don't.  I also think that people don't really care about what is going on in other people's lives as much as you might think that they do.   

Luckily the therapy session ended once the wine kicked in and I did end up laughing a lot.

What is the best advice that you have given a friend lately?

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