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Fueling the DIY: If you've ever thought about selling gold, READ THIS!

I couldn't believe this. You know how everyone always hurries through airport security, where they make you empty your spare pennies and dimes into those bins? And then when we get through the other side, eager to catch that flight, don't bother to retrieve our change? 
In 2011 airport security collected more than $400,000 in unclaimed loose change. -Yahoo
That number causes me physical pain. Not to mention goes against everything we clever nesters stand for. Most of the time, loose change makes our diy world go 'round.

(Are there any job openings at airport security??)

Unconventional Means
My favorite hobby, and maybe yours too, is thinking up ways to get extra money to make decor stuff with. The best way to make Jason nervous is to stand in the garage and mutter, "Yes, this would fetch a good sum..." under my breath.  
When I've emptied all the usual places of spare change, and sold anything not nailed down we don't need anymore on Craigslist, it's time to take it up a level.

In planning my bedroom makeover that I'm in the middle of, I wondered "where am I going to get the money for this?"

And then it hit me. Maybe the money is sitting on top of my dresser. 

Raiding Grandma's Jewelry Box
I did it. I raided my jewelry box. Wait a sec, here, Alyssa. Selling gold? Isn't all that a scam? 

We've all see the commercials, sell your gold and silver and make a fortune!

I find it amusing how some ads really try to simplify this concept down to the bare essentials. MO-NEE. GOUULD! YUU GIV, WE PAEE! Thanks for helping us all out with that one.
You may be incredibly skeptical about this topic, or think it's the best thing ever. I was both highly skeptical and incredibly curious.

First Things First
We all know it pays to do the research BEFORE diving in. So that's just what I did. I found quite a bit of helpful info out there, and after doing some reading, I came to the conclusion that it is a completely legit business and absolutely possible to come out ahead selling my gold. 

Here are some Do's before anyone should set foot in a Cash for Gold office.
  • Consider an appraisal. Your jewelry may have more value than just it's weight in gold. Are there any signatures or stamps? Can you find any similar pictures of it online? Your pieces may be from a well known designer or maker. Consider having it appraised by a pro. It will cost more up front, but you will know you if are getting your money's worth when it comes to selling it.
  • Shop Around. Pawn shops and jewelers have a rep for very low pay outs, since they are retail operations and often take a higher profit for themselves. Gold parties can be fun, but also may not pay top dollar for your gold. If you have attended or hosted a gold party, I don't want to knock your experience, it's just a good idea to do your homework before attending one. Mail in companies may be perfectly legit, but it just feels weird to send my valuables away and hope for a good price. 
  • Look 'Em Up. The Better Business Bureau serves the U.S. and Canada and sets standards for ethical business behavior, helps settle disputes, and exposes fraud. Look up the business you're considering on their site to find out how they are rated. If they're not accredited by the BBB,  that might mean trouble.
  • Know the Price of Gold. Check the price of gold on the day you plan to sell. Websites like Kitco give live gold prices. 
When I checked on this particular day, gold was at 1576.70. That means 1 troy ounce, the measurement used to weigh gold, was worth $1576.70. 

FYI: I didn't fully realize this, but you will not get the market price for your gold. Cash for gold places are businesses, after all, and it's only fair for them to make a profit on the service they provide. Each company offers a different quote for your jewelry. This is where comparison shopping really pays off!!

Back to Raiding Grandma's Jewelry Box...
As in, Grandma's jewelry, given to me, a long time ago, she has long since passed. I'm not advocating crimes against the elderly here.

You might not think you have gold jewelry just laying around or if you do, anything you'd want to part with. But you just might be surprised what you find once you start looking. As I rummaged around I picked out several broken chains, single earrings, and out of style pieces I knew I'd never wear again.
I made sure there was nothing Jason bought me in my "to sell" pile. That would've been awkwardNot a chance, my man has great taste :)

I laid everything out to see what I'd found. 3 necklaces, 4 rings, 7 charms, and 3 pairs of earrings. Gold and sterling silver. Some had precious stones and itty bitty diamonds. I included things even if I suspected they might be gold. No harm in trying, right?
I bagged up my items and drove off to cash in an early retirement. 

The Process
Every business will have a slightly different way of doing things. That doesn't necessarily mean they are trying to scam you. Once I did my research and understood the basic process, I felt comfortable and confident that I wouldn't be taken advantage of.

The company I decided to do business with was AAA Gold Exchange. They didn't ask me to write this post, pay me, or give me any incentives whatsoever. I just liked how it all went down and decided to give them some love

I liked them for one because they had an office I could walk into and interact with real people face to face. I am admittedly a little paranoid, but it felt so much better dealing with a real live person for this sort of thing rather than trying to do it through the mail, over the phone, or online. Ya know?

Testing, Testing
I sat down with my friendly rep Lydia and she got the ball rolling. To find out what was gold and what wasn't, she first swept a magnet over all my jewelry. Whatever stuck to the magnet was not gold. Just under half of my loot turned out to be not real and was chucked from the pile. Drat.

Once we knew what was real, she scraped each piece on a slate buffing stone. These scrapings would be chemically tested for karat worth.

The Golden Karat
 A karat (or carat) is the term used to describe gold's purity. 24k gold is pure gold. 18k gold is 18 parts gold and 6 parts other metals. In the same way, 14k gold is 14 parts gold and 8 parts other metals. Here's how the percentages look.

24k = 100% gold
18k = 75% gold
14k = 58% gold
12k = 50% gold

My gal Lydia looked at each gold piece for a karat stamp, separating items by karat valueShe tested each scraping with an acid solution. The liquid would show clear if it was really that karat value or murky and bronzy if not.
They almost all passed, whew!

Apparently shady jewelers can be lame and mark up karat value on a piece of jewelry, making you pay more for less gold. This was the case with one of my gold chains. When it failed the 14k test, she tested to see if it was the next karat value down. Yep. 10k instead. Curse you shady jewelers. 

This step takes a little faith in the company to give you accurate information. It was nice that I could see for myself what the solution was doing. It definitely looked cloudy compared to the other pieces. And my sterling silver was tested in the same way.

Weighing In
Gold is typically weighed in pennyweight. A pennyweight is about one and a half times a standard gram, 1.555 times to be exact.

Scam Alert: 
One way to scam you is by weighing your jewelry in pennyweight and then trying to pay you by the gram (you will get less).

All you need to know is, as long as the business "weighs and pays" in the same unit, you will get a fair price. 

To make sure they're not swapping units, look at the scale they are using. If the scale says DWT they are weighing in pennyweight. Make sure the price they quote you is also in pennyweight.
Some businesses weigh in grams, some in pennyweight. It really doesn't matter. It will always be the same weight of jewelry, regardless of the measurement used. For someone as mathematically challenged as me, this takes some getting used to, but I think I understand this. Just don't ask me how much a pound of feathers weighs.

Another important unit of measure to know is the troy ounce. That's the unit used for the market price of gold. A pennyweight is 1/20th of a troy ounce. If gold is going for $1576.70, like on the day I checked, a pennyweight will be worth 1/20th of that, or $315.34.

Tally Ho!
It was time to calculate how rich I was about to become! My palms itched in anticipation.

Since they don't buy gemstones or diamonds under a certain karat value (who knew?), Lydia weighed some gems the same size as the ones in my jewelry and subtracted this amount from the total weight. I was offered the loose gems if I wanted, but I couldn't think of what I'd do with them, so I passed. If you want to sell a piece but like the stone, you can ask to have it removed and set it in a new piece later.
Each karat value was totaled separately. So all my 24k pieces were totaled together, then the 14k and so on. 

Scam Alert: Another way to scam you is to weigh larger karat items with smaller karat jewelry and you are paid for the lowest karat value. Make sure different karats are weighed and totaled separately.

Businesses offer a certain rate for gold. How much depends on how pure the item is. As karat value goes down, so does the ratio of gold to other metals.

Say the business offers $50 for one pennyweight of pure gold. A 24k item that weighs 1 pennyweight will bring $50. But since a 12k item is only half gold, and a pennyweight of 12k will bring in $25.

Lot's of numbers! I know, hang with me. We're almost there!

The Results Are In
This was what I brought to sell.

All things being tested, here are my results.
Good thing I decided to leave my paper clips and Chuck E. Cheese's tokens at home. Sheesh. The good news is that I got to take all my not real gold pieces back home with me. So there really is no harm in trying.

How Much?
I was dying to see how much my pieces would be worth, I had no idea what to expect. In gold I had 3 chains, 1 charm, 2 rings, and 1 pair of earrings. I also had 2 charms and 2 rings in sterling silver.

Every business will offer a different amount for your jewelry. This is where shopping around could mean a few extra $20's in your wallet.

Lydia totaled it up, and out came the numbers- $130. Not bad! :) I liked that there was no pressure to sell. I could have said "thank you, I'll think about it" and gone home with my gold. 

Scam Alert: No one should make you feel pressured to sell, and if they do, chances are they are trying to rip you off!

I decided to go for it. Not millionaire status, but $130 in my hand was doing me a heck of a lot more good than broken jewelry collecting dust in my jewelry box. And that was just what I needed to say hello bedroom set : D.
To Sell Or Not To Sell?
That is the question. I had fun trying this out for the first time. And knowing what to watch out for definitely helped me feel like I wouldn't get ripped off. I was glad to have my gold doing something for me instead of sitting unused on my dresser. And I'm glad I can put some info out there from experiencing it first hand!

Have you ever sold your gold? do you think maybe now you'd give it a try? Anybody have experiences with gold parties?

<3 Alyssa
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C.R.A.P.! Confessions of a DIY Blogger

Today I'm sharing on a topic I've thought a lot about. I originally guest posted this for Lauren at A Commoner's Castle. I've added some new pictures and a few new confessions! :) I hope you enjoy!

A Self Diagnosis
Tell me you've had this happen to you. I'm online all day, on Houzz, Pinterest, Craftgawker, and checking out all my favorite creative blogs. They are all so beautiful, creative, and energetic! 

And then something happens.

I look around my house and see my hubby’s dirty socks on the coffee table, my half finished crafts sitting on the dining room table, and the baby smooshing crackers into the tile.

Seeing picture after picture of beautiful homes, flawlessly executed crafts, and overly photogenic children I think, “how can I compete with this?”  

Everybody but me obviously has perfect lives and spends their time smiling and painting chevrons on things all day long!

I have named this feeling. I call it,  Comparison Rage And Preoccupation syndrome. Otherwise known as, feeling like C.R.A.P.

Getting’ Real
What to do? If I plan on spending any more time in blogland or Pinterest, and not eating my entire weight in ice cream to self medicate, I've got to figure another way out of this funk.

The first thing I do when I start feeling this way is to remind myself that, 

beautiful pictures show only one side of the room, er, story.

Here’s a real life example.

I posted about Andrew's newly finished nursery a few months back (you can see the full post here). Before a camera got anywhere near that room,  I dusted, vacuumed, removed half of Andrew’s diaper paraphernalia, I fluffed blankets, and styled stuffed critters.  

Here’s some of the pics I posted-
(if you can SEE the fresh vacuum lines, there's the first clue.)

I was pretty happy with my work and pleased with the results!

Now, here’s the pics I did not show anybody. If you had turned to the right, you’d see why I didn’t show the closet view.
Stunning, I know. Can your eyes handle this magnificence??

We haven’t exactly gotten around to installing closet doors in here. Thankfully Andrew is still too young to know how he’s being neglected by his parents in this way. 

And if you had turned to see the hallway, you’d find even more good stuff. 

Ye Pile O' Mess. Not so pin worthy. I basically scooped up everything that wasn't fit to photograph and dumped it out of view! 

I walked in the nursery right now, without touching anything, to show you what it looks like on a normal, non blanket fluffing day.

Hamper? Who needs a hamper? The night stand works just fine.

Pooped clothes on the chair. I see nothing wrong with this picture.

 My Andrew sign is wilting. I think I have a tape malfunction. 

Ok, here's the same room, same angle on two very different days. Photo shoot day and regular everyday. 

Angel choir sings, dust fears to tread here, even the stuffed animals are smiling...

and then there's-

An aura of poo hangs in the air due to an over filled trash can (t.m.i. sorry), dirty burp cloths and poop clothes grace the furniture, and every nursery needs a random spare fan in it!! (spare fans are the new chevron.)

That's not being sloppy. That's just real life.

Not saying I'm never sloppy, because didn't you know-?

I wish that were a lie. Perhaps I should add, watching hoarders and blog shooting.

I appreciate it sooo much when my favorite blogging ladies show off their behind the scenes pictures! Their houses on a normal day, the untouched rooms with gloriously high stuff piles, even divulging what they tweaked in the "after" pics that made their room look so great! It reminds me that they live real life too, just like me.

You Got This
The second thing I do to alleviate this C.R.A.P. feeling is to remember my triumphs. I definitely don’t always knock it out of the park. Like the time I hung a painting of a turkey butt on the wall.

But sweet comments by family, friends, and you guys remind me that sometimes I do get it right, and you do too!! 

We’re all trying to make our lives a little more awesome, and chances are, we actually succeed from time to time. 

And, more than likely we underestimate how much what we do means to those around us!

Embrace the Fail
When all else fails, I stop blog surfing and type in this website. CraftFail. I discovered this site a while back and somehow always leave feeling better about my artsy endeavors. (I was not paid to say this, I just think they’re awesome!). 

Here you can laugh along with fellow crafters who had their project fail hilariously and miserably. Some of my favorites include the foam pellet Devil Tree
and the fail that got me hooked on this site, Cookie Monster Cupcakes.
You can even see one of my very own flops on there, this lovely thing!

Holy Restickable Glue stick Batman. It wasn’t funny at the time, but now it is! : ) 

Sometimes a good laugh is just what I need to remind myself not to take it all too seriously. After all, it's not exactly Middle East peace talks, it's decorating for crying out loud. 

Craftians, Unite!
Nobody paints chevrons all day, not our favorite blogging ladies, and certainly not me. I know that, but sometimes a reminder is good for the soul! My house doesn’t look like a magazine cover 7 days a week, and that’s ok. My crafts sometimes are only fit to amuse. And that's ok too. I’m a real human being with a stuff pile just as big as the one I’m sure my blogging icons have at their house too.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with cleaning up before you show off your space or sweet craft triumphs. We all like pretty pictures! 

BUT-  what I’m saying is this. Let’s not let those glossy, white balanced, staged pictures fool us. Let them inspire and motivate us to be creative, but never make us feel like second class uncraftians. Will you join me in fighting C.R.A.P.?  Pinky swear?

<3 Alyssa

(Sorry for saying C.R.A.P. so much, mom. It had the letters I needed.)

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Sharing this at: My Life And Kids, Foley Fam Unedited, and One Artsy Mama
UPDATE: Thank you Amy for featuring this post on One Artsy Mama!

DIY Mod Podge: An Experiment

I'm about to get a little personal now:

I am a Mod Podge virgin. 

(waiting for you to recover)

There should be a reality show for that. A twenty something diy'er who hasn't tried her hand at Mod Podge, as in ever?? I smell a contract in the works.

What Time Is It?
It's Pinterest Challenge time! Summer Edition, that is. And what better time to get a little more friendly with Mod Podge than now?

Once a quarter some fabulous bloggin' ladies put on this challenge for Pinterest lovers of all kinds!
The ladies behind the awesomeness: Kate from Centsational Girl, Michelle from Ten June, Sherri from Young House Love, and Katie from Bower Power. Thank you, thank you, thank you ladies! *blowing kisses*

What's the Challenge?
The rules are simple: pick something you've pinned on Pinterest, it can be anything, and vow to get off that computer, roll up your sleeves, and MAKE it happen! Then pat yourself on the back for being extremely productive and share it with the world.

Fun much? oh yes.

Challenge: Accepted
For this challenge, I decided it was high time I rolled up my sleeves and educated myself on the universe of Mod Podge. There is all this talk claiming this miracle product can work it's magic on everything from jewelry to furniture, leaving pure awesomeness in it's wake.

It was time to see what it's all about for myself.

This is a double whammy challenge: 
Phase 1: Make my own Mod Podge 
Phase 2: Do something fun with it

Phase 1: DIY Mod Podge
If there's one thing I love more than discovering new craft mediums, it's saving a buck. This recipe for homemade Mod Podge was one of those things I pinned on my Me Do It board awhile back, making mental note to investigate later.

I did a little investigating. All the blogs I visited had the exact same recipe for diy Mod Podge.

DIY Mod Podge Recipe:
1/2 Water
1/2 White School Glue
Empty Bottle

Sounds simple enough. I bought a 4oz bottle of glue from the 99 Cent store. After some math related stress and vivid word problem flashbacks, I can safely report: 

1/2 Cup of water = 4 oz

Thankfully this information was printed on the reverse side of my measuring cup. Measuring cup, pound it.

I added 1/2 C. glue to 1/2 C. water. You can be cool like me and use an empty fish oil supplement bottle left over from when I was pregnant with Andrew. 

Then it was all about shaking it like a polariod picture!

This is me shaking it.

Now that I had my spiffy homemade Mod Podge mix, it was time to get creating.

Phase 2: Making Something Awesome With It
I'm giving our Master Bedroom a much needed face lift (more on that fun stuff here :) and the makeover is spilling over into our Master Bath.

I'm sticking to the same color scheme in there as for the bedroom: seafoam, gray, yellow, and white. I decided to make some art that would bring in my style and a pop of color!
My Pinspirations: top left: Always Swell, top right: Summer Road's etsy shop
bottom left: The Craftberry Busybottom right: Addicted 2 Decorating

Why Seashells are Like a Plate of Cupcakes
Ahhh, shells. They have such a cool graphic look while bringing in a natural texture that draws you in for a closer look. 

I have to be careful. I love me a beach theme. It's like a closet cupcake eating addiction. Just. one. bite. But before you know it, I've eaten the whole plate and am licking the crumbs off my shirt.

From age 10-15 my bedroom was a virtual explosion of all things shell, beachy, and dolphin related. It was impressive. If I'm not careful, I would easily turn my house into a nautical oasis. I must restrain myself, and enjoy my beachyness in moderation. 

So for this project I rummaged around my old collection and came out with this clam shell and sand dollar.

First I sprayed them with a clear coat to seal the porous surfaces. Then I gave them an antique treatment with Rust-Oleum Metallic Gold spray, a paper towel, brown paint, and then white paint.

This was what I ended up with. Mostly white with a glint of gold here and there, and deep brown showing off the details.

I grabbed a few old wall plaques from my picture frame bin and cut a piece of scrapbook paper to fit.

Time to Bust out the Podge!
The moment had arrived.

In the name of science I bought my own bottle of real Mod Podge. Sort of as a back up in case my diy version was a total wash, and as a control group to compare my diy bottle to the real thing.

For an even comparison, I did one plaque entirely with the real Podge, and one with my homemade version.

I brushed a light coat of Mod Podge on the back of the piece of scrap book paper and affixed it to the plaque.

Are you a Clever Nest follower? 
What, no? Don't miss any of my shenanigans! 
Let's be friends : D

I did the same to the other plaque with my diy mixture, and let them both dry.

I noticed some bubbling during the drying process to both Podges (real stuff in back, mine in front). The fake stuff bubbled a little more than the other one. But once they were both dry, no more bubbles! The water evaporated, leaving both papers perfectly flat again.

Then it was time to varnish the top. Here's a comparison shot of the two Podges in the "wet" phase.
The real Mod Podge on the left was much thicker and had more body to it, where as my diy version on the right was thinner and more watery, but still glue like.

Will the Real Podge Please Stand Up
When the top coats was dry, I could now definitely see a difference between the Podges! The real stuff was much glossier and had a thicker body to it (you can even see brush strokes), compared to my diy version which was pretty much invisible. No sheen or texture to speak of.

Both pieces of paper were firmly affixed to the plaques, however. And the diy Podge seemed like it would have worked just fine for a project like this. I personally liked the look of the real Podge, seeing the brush strokes reminds me of a painted canvas. And it made the paper seem more like a part of the plaque.

Let There Be Shells
I busted out my hot glue gun to secure my shells to both plaques.

I love the final product!

How could I not, they're shells??

Especially loving how the antiquing enhanced the shells' natural textures.

The Verdict on the Podge
I was surprised there was such a visible difference between the Podges. I could definitely tell the real stuff from the diy version. 

More body
Visible brush strokes
Soft glossy sheen
Paper looks like it's part of the object it's applied to

Thin (though I suppose you could play with the recipe and thicken it up)
No body, or brush strokes
Invisible, no sheen
Paper looks like it's on top of the object

I personally liked the thickness and sheen of the real Podge, and since I don't use very much of it in general, I'll probably stick to the real deal for future projects. I've still got a whole bottle left to experiment with!

How about the cost?
It was .50 cents for a 8oz bottle of diy Mod Podge compared to $2.40 ($4.99 minus a 40% off coupon) for the same size bottle of the real stuff. 

Total DIY Savings = 
$1.90 per bottle

If I had a massive project or used it all the time, I'd definitely consider using the diy version. As an infrequent user (never up til now) it's not worth my while to make my own for only $2 cheaper than I can get the real stuff. Not quite enough savings to tempt me there.

I'm glad I tried it though! Off to hang my new shell art. My bathroom just got more awesome.

Want more?

And keep up with me during the week!

UPDATE: Thank you Gail at My Repurposed Life for featuring this post!
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