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SoCal Is No Place for Halloween

This happens every year.

It's 85 degrees out and it's Halloween. How may I ask do they expect us to stuff our kids into full body polyester suits, let them run them around, and keep them happy?? I felt pretty sorry for my little Munchkin (he is the dragon below).

I know it's hard to tell with that amazing costume, but it is my son, not a real dragon.

Maybe next year we'll go as something that requires a little less surface area, like a Tarzan or Ryan Lochte. But it's too late now. The costume is bought and paid for, and there shall be pumpkin patches and pictures.

Thankfully it cooled off to around 80 yesterday afternoon. I threw Andrew in the car and we high tailed it out while the sun was still shining! (Is it just me or does the sun set in a hurry this time of year?)

I was flying solo, with Jason still at work. Putting past failed photo sessions out of mind, we went for it. The little man was a trooper! You have earned your candy well, my son.

That's it, *click!... yes, work it, *click! work it!

The sweetest little dragon tushie I ever did see.

Ug. can't.stand.the.cuteness. I'm sorry, but my kid is the cutest human ever, and that's all I have to say about it.

And of course he lit up whenever he knew had an audience. What a ham :) Would that be a boiled ham...? : / We wrapped things up and I stripped him down for a break from his dragony sauna situation.

Later on we checked out a carnival at our local Chick Fil A in Rancho. I thought Andrew might get scared of their giant cow, but he thought it was hilarious.

He especially got a kick out of sticking his finger up the cow's nose. Come on, you know you've always wanted to do that to a cow. I'd probably do it myself. That's my child.

Andrew made it through the whole evening no sweat. Well there was sweat. But at least not the stress kind. Working a photo shoot gives me a hot flash too! What is up with that?

But everybody has a limit.

Happy Halloween! What are you up to today? Getting in some bloggy time before heading out? Will you be stuffing your kids into polyester bodysuits for some Halloween heat stroke too? 
<3 Alyssa

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How to Sell Stuff on Craigslist Without Getting Murdered

Why I Love Craigslist
Last week I talked about my epic purge of our entire house. Now I want to tell you what I did with all that extra stuff!

We are moving in ONE WEEK!

We'll be transitioning from the IE to the OC here in SoCal. Our new place will be 30 miles away, and so much closer to Jason's work. It will be relatively the same size, 3 bedroom, 2 bath instead of 3, and one story this time instead of two.

There's no better excuse opportunity like a big move to get hubby to say "yes" to swapping out much of our hand-me-down newlywed furniture for pieces that will better fit our style and feel a lot more like "us".

Priced to Sell
I've done a LOT of selling this summer. We've sold our bedroom set, a Bowflex, our dining room table, coffee table, rug, lamps, old amps, patio set, and TV!

Selling on Craigslist is definitely not a get rich quick scheme, but totaling everything up I've made just over $1000 so far! Sure beats leaving it on the curb come moving day. And if I exchange our old stuff for previously owned furniture, I may even come out ahead.

Packing and Purging
When something failed my Purge Inducing questions I put it into one of three piles. Those piles were to trash, to sell, and donate.

I threw away stuff only a hoarder crazy person like me would appreciate like empty coffee cans and old magazines. I  set aside stuff that wasn't worth anything but could be donated to charity like clothes or our old bedspread. And I spruced up larger pieces like furniture and "like new" quality stuff to list on Craigslist.

Psychos, Gang Bangers, and The Mob
My poor mom has heard (and related every detail to me) all the horror stories she's heard about people selling their stuff on Craigslist and winding up in some psycho's trunk instead. I think there was even a "Craigs List Killer" out there a while back, which didn't help things. Hopefully this will help convince her that I'm playing it safe! Hi, Mom! :)

Us gals (and maybe guys too) want to sell our stuff and feel safe doing so. It's a little intimidating to have a stranger show up at your door, and invite them to your house to see your stuff. There's some common sense things we can do to play it smart and avoid becoming fish food.

1. Advertise the item and only the item

 I don't know about you, but the TP isn't the first thing jumping out to me in the picture here. Besides distracting from the item I'm trying to sell, I'm advertising to strangers what valuables I have, and maybe even the general contents of my house.

I try to keep ad pictures as distraction free as possible. I just want to sell my TP!

2. No address til the last minute
It's up to you when you give a buyer your address. My personal M.O. is to withhold it until someone has confirmed they're definitely coming, and then give it out a few hours before the appointment. If I'm planning on being out all day, I don't want strangers knowing I have a $200 value weight bench for sale in my backyard, ripe for the picking. And if the item is small enough, I might consider meeting in a public place like a coffee shop to do business.
Pretty Pretty Please, 

I can't think of a good reason to tell the wide world where you and your expensive stuff are located!

3. Have a buddy on hand (or pretend you have one)
For the most part I schedule pick ups in the evenings or on the weekends when Jason is home. When Jason can't be home or if I feel safe handling the transaction on my own, I either have the item at the front of the garage, or just inside my house so I can bring it into the driveway and do my business in the front yard.

Did I just say do my business in the front yard...?: /

"Um, hi Mr. Craigslist person, my husband's just upstairs taking a shower... I mean cleaning his guns... oh, what's that honey? Make that sharpening his swords. How can I help you?"

If no one's home, try my approach. Dress like a rogue ninja and wield a weapon. Then, if they turn out to be normal, you can play it off like, "Oh, it's just a game me and my kids like to play..."

4. More ways to play it smart
Chances are everything will be fine, your transaction will go smoothly, and the man at your door won't be the Craigslist Killer. By following these tips you'll make it that much harder for someone to even THINK about doing something shady.
  • Don't invite people into your home if at all possible.
  • Only accept cash. And don't feel embarrassed to check that those $20's are real!
  • Nobody from Nigeria wants to buy your armoire as a birthday present for his relative in the Maine. And don't give him your Paypal email address either.
Side note, trunks are actually pretty comfortable.

Having all this furniture gone will certainly make our moving day easier! I'm praying I can find nice pieces to replace the stuff I sold, and soon!

Do you have a play it safe check list for Craigslist? Any sketchy experiences to share? Do tell!
<3 Alyssa

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Get Out of My House! I: {6 Ways to Slay Clutter}

Buffy the Sock Pile Slayer
I have a fascination with the show Hoarders.

No matter how hard I try, I just.can't.look.away.

It's pretty much my personal horror of horrors wrapped up in a 45 minute show. I honestly feel for the people they feature, and I'm glad they're getting help. Mostly what the show does for me is create in my bosom a ferocious Anti Hoarder.

I start to feel like I'm Buffy the Clutter Slayer. 
I see a pile of 5 socks, and I'm all, 
"Aah! Evil hoarding plague, you will not take root in my house! 
I will vanquish thee!!"

I consider myself a pretty normal housekeeper. I don't have rooms stacked to the ceiling with empty soup cans, or have 5000 ferrel cats running around or anything.

Here we are, 2 weeks away from moving! It's time to get things into boxes and get on the road. We initially thought this packing thing would be a cinch. "We don't have that much stuff" we said. "It'll be cake" we said. An unbelievable 20 garbage bags full of trash later, I stand corrected.

Questions to fuel the Purge 
(when I don't know where to start)
I suggest going one room at a time, maybe one corner at a time, maybe one item at a time, and see how it goes from there. Try no to attack every closet in one day, chances are you'll run out of steam mid purge and get depressed and discouraged. If you lose your nerve at any point, sit down and watch another episode of Hoarders and you'll be good to go again!

These 6 question were my mental check list as I went through our stuff, piece by piece.  Can you think of any more I could add?

#1 Have I Used This In The Past Year ( or years... or ever)?
For me, if I hadn't used it either since I purchased it or since we moved in 3 years ago, it had to go.

A lot of the time it was things like college textbooks or old magazines that had become outdated and we no longer had a reason to hold onto anymore.

Some other big culprits were baby toys,  "miracle working" kitchen gadgets (come on, we've all bought 'em!), and exercise equipment.

Prime example- this giant turkey roaster that I've had for 4 years and never taken out of the box. This thing is huge! Why am I keeping it? Truthfully, it was a wedding present. And if you were the one who gave me this roaster, I'm very thankful, really. I'm just not the roasting type. But I'll pass it on to someone who is!

#2 Is This Still In Style?
I like to learn this one the hard way.

Clothes, accessories, art and home decor all need regular evaluation to keep from looking dated. I try to keep up with trends, I do. But those pesky things come and go so darn fast! My dear friends have had more than one intervention on this subject, particularly in the wardrobe department.

Apparently fuzzy white golf hats 
and hot pink bejazzled tote bags 
are not the thing anymore?? whatever.

Whatever style you have for your home or your fashion should be intentional. If you love vintage or quirky stuff, that's fine! Just know that's what they are. And if you're going for a current look, reevaluate, reevaluate, reevaluate!

#3 Is It Broken? (and will I ever really fix it?)
I have a drawer full of good intentions. "It's just missing this one little impossible-to-find part"... "I'll glue the head back on, and the arms, and legs... good as new!".

I carefully saved the pieces to this magnet Jason brought me back from a business trip to Brazil.

Why? It was sentimental. That was 3 years ago. I've been storing this broken magnet for three years and sometimes I've just got to face the facts. No, I'm never going to fix this, and even if I did it wouldn't be as good as new again. *sigh. *gulp. Tossing it.

#4 Is This Even My Cr@p Stuff?
Have you ever had something so long you forget it's not even yours?

Whether I borrowed it or it got left at my house, I've collected several "I should really return that someday"s, including this lovely XL tupperware conainer. Since I'm moving, and it's ridiculous to pack other people's stuff, guess it's time I got on that.

Yes, that tupperware says WINE, but I'm the wrong Mrs. Wine. My sister-in-law Val lent this to me at Andrew's party. It's coming back to you, Val, real soon, I promise! :)

#5 Will My Husband Realize It's Gone?

This applies to kids too.

Come on, you know you want to. Not anything major like his weight bench or sparring equipment, or the kids' jungle gym. That would be too obvious. But maybe, just maybe the broken pocket knife, and "important" pile of filthy rags he has stored in the garage. The naked Barbies under the couch. Sometimes we need to help our men and our kids purge too.

And if you tell him I did anything with his rags, I'll deny it.

#6 Am I Enjoying This or Just Storing It For "Someday"?
Crafters must have a particular weakness when it comes to empty containers, am I right? The promise of pure mind bending potential is almost too much to resist. And sometimes I don't.

It broke my heart, but I managed to throw away a whole shelf of empty oatmeal and coffee containers I was saving because you never know when you'll need them! Maybe I'll teach a craft class... maybe I'll become a Preschool never know!

How about you? This is a brutal question, I know. But if it doesn't have a place in the house, could you be perpetually storing it for the elusive "someday"?

Our new place's kitchen is much smaller than the one we have now, and every square inch of pantry space will be precious. Plus I figure I can beef up my coffee can stash again pretty easily and cheaply if I need to. You never know!

Post Purge
Whew. It's taken me this whole summer, but I successfully went through the entire house, room by room, sorting and purging without mercy. Those 20 garbage bags were a source of pride, like popping a giant pimple or losing 50 pounds. It feels wonderful!

I feel like my house is clean! The stuff I still have I have for a REASON. It has value and purpose.

And that's a place worth getting to.

I promise.

Are you feeling a purge coming on (or trying to get one to come on)? Do you have a similar set of questions, or different ones you use to evaluate your stuff? I'd love to hear about it! :)

<3 Alyssa

Thanks so much for reading! Do you follow Clever Nest yet? 
Don't miss a post! 
Become a GFC follower and stay in touch:)

P.S. My bestie Jesirae deserves credit for taking these pictures. We had the best time, acted totally ridiculously, and loved every minute. Some outtakes of our madness.

11 Kid-Friendly Halloween Ideas

Nest To Impress: {Halloween}

I'm a weakling when it comes to scary stuff and gore.

After watching Signs for the first time (that alien movie with Mel Gibson), I slept with the light and radio on for a week.

 I was 18.

And trying to stomach Pinterest pics of Halloween "treats" like the much-too-real "Witchy Fingers" or Floating Eyeball Punch?

Heck to the no.

Other than that, I love Halloween! I love dressing up, as in present tense, much to my husband's dismay. I've been scouting the local thrift stores for this year's production. Stay tuned. Points for being extremely embarrassing to my husband.

11 Kid Friendly Halloween Ideas
Baby's First Pumpkin
I can't get over how stinking cute this idea is! I will definitely be attempting this with Andrew's little appendages this year. There's no directions with the picture, but it seems pretty straight forward to me. I'll trace Andrew's hands and feet on a piece of paper, then tape the outlines to the pumpkin, and cut out the shapes.

Googly Eyes Halloween Wreath by Melissa at No. 2 Pencil
I love Melissa, she is always sharing fun, beautiful, and easy DIYs. She cracks me up with her ping pong ball wreath :). It's the perfect mix of whimsical and spooky, and it's easy to make. Pop on over to Melissa's blog for the how-to!

Eyes in the Bushes by Thrifty Crafty Girl
What a great idea! I knew there was a good reason for keeping all those toilet paper rolls. These would be fun in the bushes outside or a dark corner inside your house!

Flight of the Bats by Larry on Instructables
Falling under the category of "A Lot of Anything Looks Good" are these bat silhouettes. They look great inside or outside.
Bats on the Porch from Martha Stewart

Paper Plate Skeleton by Chris at Pick Up Some Creativity
This fun and low budget Skeleton is a family tradition of Chris' family. As soon as Andrew's a little older, I will definitely be making one with him :).

Monster Door by Jen at Passion for Parties
The pic speaks for itself. Crepe paper and paper plates make a super sweet door decoration! Jen said she put this together in just a few minutes.

Pop the Pumpkin from Martha Stewart
This would be a great game for a Halloween party or Fall Festival. A bunch of orange balloons, green paper stem, and you've got an instant dart game. You could even stuff some candy inside the balloons for some extra treats.

Pumpkin Bowling from Jeanetics
This is my kind of craft- TP + black paper + pumpkin. So easy to make, and I bet the kids would have fun sticking their fingers into a slimy pumpkin :).

DIY Cornstarch Ghost by Shatzi of Love and Laundry
This was the best tutorial I found for the startched ghost. No hard to find or expensive products to buy, just cornstarch and water! A few of these guys might be fun on a table, or hanging from the trees.

Mummy Juice Boxes by Landee of Landee See Landee Do
Thank you Landee for some fun, non body part Halloween snacks! These juice box mummies are so cute, they'd be great at  a party or to stick in your kid's lunch box!

Jack-O-Lantern Clementines by A Holiday Haven
Proving sometimes simple is best are these fun mini Jack-O-Lanterns. Why have I never thought of this before?? Seriously, sharpie on a tangerine= mind blown.
This would be a good way to sneak some fruit into the diet of candy

I Want to Feature You!
Each season or holiday I'll bring you a showcase of some beautiful DIY projects, party ideas, and recipes that rock my socks. 
I'd luuuurve to feature YOUR project! 

If you have any Thanksgiving or Christmas projects you'd like to share, send me a link up to it in a comment. I'll be picking my faves soon!

<3 Alyssa

Thanks so much for reading! Do you follow Clever Nest yet? 
Don't miss a post! 
Become a GFC follower and stay in touch:)

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