Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Spring Cleaning Ideas from The House of Q's

Spring is a time of renewal and refreshing. I love the spring and getting out of the house for a simple walk or to do yard work and gardening. Part of this time of renewal is spring cleaning.

I've shared many times that The House of Q's is a townhouse in metro Atlanta with about 1400 sq. feet. You would think that cleaning after two adults and a few fur babies would be a snap but somehow, it gets away from me. I spent all of last Saturday spring cleaning the downstairs of our townhouse. That includes a living room/dining combo, kitchen, Master bedroom and two bathrooms. When I tell you it took me all day, I mean it took me ALL DAY.

Fresh gardenias really make the whole house smell amazingly welcoming and clean! 

About a year ago, I shared a post on how to deep clean your Master bedroom.  I never dreamed that 1800 people would click/read through the post! It's worth sharing again.. Click on the link above or click here to view the post. 

A snapshot of our master bath "after". 

This year, I took a little different route to the chore of spring cleaning. Charts and lists keep me sane so this printable from Glitter Guide was ideal for my needs. Although the chart is a guide to getting you through the process in one day, you can certainly use two or more days to get this finished. To print the chart, you will need to click this link. 

If you prefer a different format or reference, check out this guide from the queen of homemaking, Martha Stewart.  This list gives you photos and recipes for making your own household cleaners. 

And just because I love her sweet face and her show, I have to share spring cleaning tips from Joanna Gaines. Although I'm not a fan of the whole farmhouse trend that is currently sweeping through homes across America, I do love her! It's my  hope that she and Chip are as sincere and goofy as they seem on TV.  Traditional style is more my taste and comfort level.  Here is the link to Joanna's spring cleaning list. 

If you aren't ready for such a large undertaking, you can always use these shortcuts from Southern Living.  Leave it to Southern Living to help us bring everything together and exude southern hospitality. 

How do you spring clean? What are your tried and true tips and tricks? Please share your ideas! 

With warmth and love,

CEO- The House of Q’s
Keep in touch!


Thursday, March 16, 2017

How to Make Money on eBay

eBay is a wonderful thing. It's my go-to for hard to find pieces and the vehicle I prefer to sell items and make some extra cash.

Some people use Facebook Groups to sell items but being in metro ATL, I'm not comfortable with that. Selling on eBay gives me anonymity with my customers. I'm available if they have questions about an item but not within arms reach and for sure not available via Facebook; that gives me the creeps just thinking about it.

I frequent the area thrift shops weekly in search of things to resell but in particular, high-end children's clothing and bedding. Recently, I've started looking for vintage Pyrex but that's a hard item to score.  Here are some tips and picture examples for listing your items on eBay and being successful. These tips have worked for me time-after-time. Before opening your "store" on eBay you will need to sign up for an account which does require a debit/credit card. I also signed up for a PayPal account so my transactions can happen easily without using paper and are simple to trace.

1.  First things first- ask yourself will the item sell and what would you pay for it. I scour the kids clothing area of every thrift store I go in. Southern Mommy's are always looking for the perfect dress or outfit for their little ones and I've had a lot of success from selling primarily kids clothing.

2.   Only buy items in excellent condition. It's OK if items are not brand new but go over the garment/item with a fine tooth comb and make sure you are getting a good deal on a great item. The goal is to make money, not lose money on a bad purchase.

3.  Take clear pictures that show the entire item in one shot. Take at least five to six pictures and pick the best three or four. Also use a white backdrop unless the item you are selling is white.

Here are some numbers for you to crunch: 

Item: Auburn Tigers Dress- Size 24 months
Amount paid for dress: $2.62
Buy-It Now price on eBay- $16.00
eBay fee to list item: $0.00
eBay final value fee: $0.26
PayPal fee: $0.13
Shipping fee to be paid by seller- $2.00
Cost to ship item (always use an envelope and avoid using boxes) $3.15
Total profit: $9.97

$10 may not seem like a lot to profit but I usually have about 15-20 items listed on my eBay account. Those little numbers add up!

4. Tell a story of how the buyer will use the item or how it will make life a little easier for them. Everyone is busy right? We are all looking for shortcuts and ways to save money.

Here is a description for a dress I sold yesterday....

I listed the  size, condition and ways to use the dress in the first line. In the second line I stated how easy it would be to make this an outfit. Lastly, I listed the fine print in normal size font. The last thing you want is a bad review. 

Here is another dress that I posted and sold this week. 

Item: Kelley's Kids Monogrammed Dress- Size 4
Amount paid for dress: $1.50
Buy-It Now price on eBay- $12.00
eBay fee to list item: $0.00
eBay final value fee: $0.26
Paypal fee: $0.16
Shipping fee to be paid by seller- $3.00
Cost to ship item (always use an envelope and avoid using boxes) $3.15
Total profit: $10.40

And this is the description that I wrote:

I always explain how the person can use the item and how it will make his/her life easier.

5. Once you sell the item, ship it immediately and pack it well. After you receive payment for the item, take it to the post office ASAP. Buyers have an opportunity to rate the experience of shopping with you and you want great reviews! PS. you will also have a chance to rate the buyer (fast payment, good communication, etc.).

At first, I thought I would make a few extra dollars here and there by selling on eBay. I was so surprised when I looked at my total for the past six months.. This is the same kind of money I would make working a part-time job and all I had to do is shop! :)

Have you ever tried to sell on eBay? Have more tips to share?Tell me about your experience... 

With warmth and love,

CEO- The House of Q’s
Keep in touch!


Friday, March 10, 2017

The Town That Pecans Built

I'm blessed to be able to travel often with my job. This week, my job took me to little ole Cordele, Georgia. Never heard of Cordele? Well, that makes two of us.

Thanks to Google and the interwebs, I was able to prepare for the trip and see where I was going. Cordele is not a booming metropolis and there ain't much shakin' in that part of the world as you can imagine.

When I turned the last corner out of the desolate town, I began to drive by cotton fields and thousands of pecan trees. Interestingly enough, it takes six to seven years for a pecan tree to actually produce pecans. After seeing a few of the homes outside of town, I decided that pecans must have built Cordele, Georgia.

House #1: What's not to love about this gorgeous house? The double portico, the old southern architecture and style, the garage that looks to be renovated horse stables... I wanted to go up on the porch and sit a spell in the swing with some sweet tea in my favorite Tervis Tumbler. As you can imagine, this would be frowned upon as I don't know the homeowners. I digress.

Here's a side view of the yard. I counted at least 500 pecan trees on one side of the house. The other side of the road and the back yard (probably five acres) was also full of pecan trees.

House #2: I fell in love a second time on this stretch of road. This house intrigues me because it's a mix of Greek Revival, Colonial and Georgian but it works together. I love how a gazebo is built on both ends of the porch that stretches the length of the house. The widows walk on top of the house is also intriguing. Usually, you only see a widows walk on homes that are near the coast. Want to know more about the origins and meaning of a widows walk? Click here. 

Luckily, we can see the inside of this home because it's currently on the market. Click here for the listing on Zillow.com. 

Again, this home is surrounded by hundreds if not thousands of pecan trees. Here is a wide shot of the drive and some of the property leading up to the home.

House #3: This house is located right next door to house #2 and makes for quite a lovely neighborhood. This house is also a mixture of styles but it meshes beautifully. This home is surrounded by hundreds of pecan trees and is the definition of southern elegance.

The location for the conference, Lake Blackshear is absolutely beautiful.  Lake Blackshear is actually a resort and part of the Georgia State Parks and Historic Sites System.  A few other personal favorites in Georgia State Parks include Skidaway Island as well as Sapelo Island and Reynolds Mansion. 

Here are a few snapshots of the property at Lake Blackshear. The location is off the beaten path but well worth the hour and a half drive from McDonough, Georgia.

I hope you have enjoyed this brief tour of Cordele, Georgia. Have you ever traveled to Cordele? I would love to hear about your experience!

With warmth and love,

CEO- The House of Q’s
Keep in touch!


Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Mary, Mary Quite Contrary, How Does Your Garden Grow?

Mary, Mary, quite contrary 
How does your garden grow? 
With silver bells and cockleshells 
And pretty maids all in a row.
- Mother Goose

I'm not an outdoorsy type of girl. I don't like bugs, or nature, or sweating, to be honest. The most I do outside is sit on a screened-in porch while drinking a Diet Coke. When it comes to gardening, I throw my anti-outside rules out the window. We currently live in a townhouse in metro ATL and while we do have a small yard, there is plenty of room to plant ornamentals and shrubs.

The soil in North Georgia is much different than in South Georgia; nothing grows in the ground in South Georgia without tons of fill dirt hauled in from another region, fertilizer, compost if possible and an ample supply of plant food. The natural soil in South Georgia is sandy and rocky. Somehow, I did have great luck with Hydrangeas and Fairy Roses (petite roses)  but everything else was a struggle and died within a week or two.  Here's a picture of the mophead Hydrangeas that grew in our yard right before we moved to Atlanta....

I got this size blooms from mulch (completely covering the area where the flower was planted and at least three inches up the bottom of the plant, lots of watering and high pH levels in the soil. There's an old wives tale that if you add pennies to the soil of your Hydrangeas, that they will change colors. That is actually true. You can get the same results though by changing the pH levels in your soil. Just know that if you have white Hydrangeas, those will never change to another color.

You can use your favorite fertilizer/planting soil but make sure you choose the right mixture for your specific needs. I signed up for free garden tips and tricks tailored to my zip code at www.miraclegro.com.   This is not a paid endorsement; I really use these products. There's a line of organic products now available from Miracle Gro as well if you prefer natural products for your gardens/yards. It's worth a visit to the web page to help you make the right decisions for your plants, gardens, and lawn.

Southern Living Magazine is an excellent resource as is your local extension service office. Here is a link to the extension service offices in the state of Georgia. You can find the extension offices in your state with a simple Google search. My local extension office is offering a Master Gardener course and I would love to take part. Unfortunately, it's only offered during the work week.

How do you plan your gardens? Do you plant things randomly or do you make a plan? I'm a planner and need to have a guide to the area I'm working with, what's being planted and how to make the plants as successful as possible.

This printable garden planner is what I'm using this year and is available to print for free from MyFrugalHome.com. This link will take you directly to the printable planner that is courtesy and property of Erin Huffstetler/MyFrugalHome.com

I like this printable binder because I can pick and choose which pages to print. I don't need the whole binder but just a few of the charts/diagrams. You will need to visit the links above to download the forms and charts.

Here are the sheets that I chose to use this year:

The square foot garden plan

The plant profile sheet

The monthly chore and maintenance list

Last but not least, the expense worksheet...

Tell me, dear readers... How do your gardens grow?
Do they grow at all?

With warmth and love,

CEO- The House of Q’s
Keep in touch!


Sunday, February 12, 2017

Grown Up Valentines Day Gifts

I love giving gifts and use every excuse/holiday/birthday/anniversary to treat friends and family. This year, I've decided to expand on my usual Valentines gift for co-workers and throw in a little candy and cute gift bag that can be reused.

My old standby is the hand soap and cute printable below. The tag is courtesy of My Digital Creations.  The tag reads "I'm soapin' you'd be my valentine!". This is the cutest gift and you know the recipient will use it.

Do you remember the Tootsie Roll banks from the 80's? I had one in my room when I was growing up and literally squealed when I saw Valentine themed Tootsie Roll banks when I was shopping this weekend! After the candy is gone, the recipient can keep the bank for loose change or as a memento. I put the bank in a cellophane gift bag and added a big, pretty bow.

One other little thing that I made is a small wreath for a desk or office door. To make the wreath you will need:

Styrofoam Plate
Rotary Cutter/Mat (optional)
Scrapbooking Tape/Elmer's Glue
Large Heart Punch
Small Heart Punch
Extra Small Heart Punch
(The heart punches can be found at your craft store. I use these all year, not just during Valentines Day)
Various Scrapbook Paper (I literally used scraps from other projects)

I used a pattern tutorial to make the origami dress that is attached to the wreath but you could use a paper flower pattern or some other fancy that you prefer.  Attach a small ribbon to the top of the wreath and it's complete!

The last thing I did was bag everything up and get it ready to take to work in the morning. I need to get my Longaberger basket down from the top shelf and pack everything up!  Never heard of Longaberger? You are missing out! Check out more about the company here.

Do you give a Valentine to your friends, family or co-workers? I would love to see your creative ideas! Please feel free to share in the comments section below.

With warmth and love,

CEO- The House of Q’s
Keep in touch!


Saturday, January 28, 2017

Elegant Party Decor on a Budget

One of the perks of working on a college campus in the  conference center is the ideas I get from events held in the building. Yesterday, a group from the budget office was setting up for a retirement party for one of their own. I peeked in to see how they were doing. I expected paper tablecloths, cheesy decor, etc. but was pleasantly surprised to see the gorgeous and classic decorations!  

We love to entertain in the south and will celebrate just about anything to justify throwing a party. You can never go wrong with magnolias in any type of party setting but I thought that these ladies did a great job of making a huge, impersonal space feel smaller and welcoming. Take a look...

Simple arrangements of magnolias, Spanish moss and magnolia leaves are perfect for the tables. The magnolia flowers are actually silk and came from a local craft store. The leaves and moss came from trees around campus. So simple but elegant.. Also, the stripe tablecloths (very Kate Spade) are becoming more of a neutral for all types of events. One of the lady's decorating for the event said that she had plans to use these table cloths for a wedding and a birthday party later in the spring. 

The ladies did a similar arrangement (but much larger) for the food table. This arrangement was placed in the center and the serving dishes were displayed around the table. I also like the twinkle lights in the vase. 

Here is a bird’s eye view of the entire space

The guest of honor is lucky enough to be retiring to Charleston, SC. She was welcomed with a table of goodies to take to her new beach house. 

What are your go-to items when you plan a party/event? Are you planning an event that you would like to share on my blog? Contact me today for information on how to share your events! 

With warmth and love,

CEO- The House of Q’s
Keep in touch!


Sunday, January 15, 2017

Azalea Trail Maids 2017-2018 Court

Each year in December, the Mobile Alabama Jaycees sponsors the Mobile Azalea Trail Maids. The Maids serve as hospitality ambassadors for Mobile at a variety of civic events on a national, state and local level. The purpose of this program is not just to have a beautiful, handmade antebellum gown (although that’s a big plus in my opinion), but to promote tourism and local hospitality to Mobile, Alabama.

The Azalea Trail dates back to the 1920's and eventually led to Mobile being named the Azalea Capital of the United States. It wasn't until 1949 that the Trail Maids were added to the mix. The first court consisted of eight girls from local high schools. 

Fast-forward to present day. Becoming an Azalea Trail Maid is a process and anything but easy. The group has grown to 50 rising high school seniors who are chosen yearly and serve as official ambassadors to the city of Mobile, Alabama. The application and interview process is rigorous and preparations begin years in advance. The application process starts with local high schools. Many schools offer classes and conduct random interviews to get the girls ready for the next step in the interview process. It isn’t enough to be smart or pretty. The girls must be well-rounded, cultured and knowledgeable about the state of Alabama and more in particular, Mobile. 

At the very heart of this program is a desire to serve and bring pride to the great state of Alabama. Southern girls are taught at a very early age that it's both a duty and pleasure to serve our committees and make our world a little better each day. The Azalea Trail Maid program instills this tradition and obligation in a whole new generation of girls. 

The large, initial application pool of 250 is cut to 100 girls by representatives from area high schools. It is then that out-of-town judges decide the 50 who will represent the Azalea Trail. The 50 girls are notified via US Mail (I love that!).

The interview process is famously difficult and challenging and can include questions relating to current events, the girl's resume, career goals, national/world issues, social change or Mobile history.

Becoming a Trail Maid is a family affair. Many of the mothers of Trail Maids have a “Trail Room” in their homes. Each girl receives a wooden holder to display the dress along with a hat, parasol, gauntlets, cummerbund, a bow with a sash, pantaloons, a long-line bra, shoes dyed to match the dress and a faux fur-lined cape (for cold weather). As you can imagine, many mothers also served as Trail Maids and want their daughters to carry on the tradition.
Over the years, the group has appeared in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, Disney World’s Easter Parade, the Inauguration of President Obama, the Indianapolis 500 and the Pasadena Rose Bowl Parade just to name a few.

As with anything of quality, all of this does come at a cost. The dress alone starts at $3,000 (for a base model) and girls try to get on a seamstress’ dress list four years before even applying or being accepted to be a Trail Maid. Each dress is unique and takes roughly 200 hours to create and weighs 40-50 pounds.

Although the colors of each dress are assigned randomly and are separated into five groups of 10 (blue, green, yellow, peach and lavender), the queen is assigned the lone pink dress of the group. 

Please allow me introduce you to the 2017-2018 court..

Taylor Boykin- Azalea Trail Court Queen (Pink Dress)
Caroline Whatley – First Lady in Waiting
Kamryn Pigg- Second Lady in Waiting

Emily Andrews
Abigail Anderson
Carrington Bush
McKenna Crone
Caitlin Crownover
Anna DeArmon
Victoria Dodd
Samantha Edwards
Sydney Eiland
Kathryn Eubanks
Victoria Fletcher
Karim Garcia
Chelsea Geter
Kennedy Gill
Courtney Glenn
Morgan Green
Meagan Hamm
Jayuanna Harris
Mallory Henderson
Olivia Hernandez
Savannah Herrington
Alexandria Hardy-Murphy
Riley Hickman
Ella Kendall
Julia Kelley
Aryn Laird
Jamie Lim
Mia McInvale
BriAnna Montgomery
Zistine Mones
Mackie Neese
Hannah Pickett
Sheree Pladgett
Madison Plattenburg
Elizabeth Railey
Jane Roberts
Isabel Sammons
Bria Scott
Bailey Sheffield
Kennedy Smith
Lana Stringer
Sarah Kate Stokley
Anna Sullivan
Kaycee Tate
Abigail Tucker
Caroline Wacker
Claire Willingham

Enjoy the pictures below which are provided and owned by and courtesy of  www.al.com (Alabama.com). The mission of www.al.com is to provide innovative ways to inform, connect and empower the people of Alabama and the communities in which they serve. 

With warmth and love,

CEO- The House of Q’s
Keep in touch!