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Category: Fun Stuff

Clean Up: A Personal Story

This post is a very personal one for me.  I do not typically share my personal life or problems with very many people…but as I was going through a particular struggle the last few weeks, it occurred to me that I have a unique position to try and help other moms and remind them that they are not alone.  Maybe it seems obvious to think that we all have struggles, but it was someone pointing the obvious out to me that motivates this blog.  I hope some of you will take me up on the challenge and offer at the end.

Like many families, it seems that life has handed us one thing after the next for quite a while now…family members who have died, a child who needed brain surgery, a special needs child, my own injury that causes chronic pain and difficulty with many tasks…it seems there is always something in high priority and it was not usually in my control what that was.  THINGS started to collect around my house…we have too much stuff, much of it being kids stuff.  

Garage 1 v2We are clean people….we dust, vacuum, clean the bathrooms weekly (ok, well almost weekly). Dishes and laundry are done daily.  But truth be told, despite my OCD nature to want everything put back in its place and be cleaned in particular ways, I have trouble getting rid of things.  I would like to give it to someone who wants it, needs it, keep it for sentimental value… or maybe it is in good condition and I could sell it and make some money to help out the family budget.  After all, I am the owner of a successful consignment sale…I certainly know how to prepare and tag my own items, right?  Wrong…I might know how to, but I never seem to get to it.  So the stuff keeps piling up….until about 2 weeks ago thanks to someone stating the obvious.

I knew keeping the stuff was not making me happy.  In fact, DAILY I was quite stressed over everything that I could never seem to sort through and move out.  However, life was happening.  The last couple of months has been especially stressful with our special needs child who was going through medication changes and having many “episodes”.  During one particularly bad day, I sat reviewing notes from his various therapists.  One of the providers, who I will call BXT, has the unique position of being home-based and pointed out that we had lost our ability to manage our son with the things that are important to him because those things were everywhere in our house….we had no control.  Although I had read this message previously and thought “yeah, I know…we have a lot of stuff and we need to get rid of it and organize it”, the message did not profoundly hit me until that day as I sat re-reading, trying to figure out what I was missing or what I could do to improve things for my son and our family.  Although the message was worded in a kind way, suggesting a “summer project”, and was only intended to help I suddenly got rather peeved at BXT….because he was right.  So, I decided to stay peeved…because being Type A personality I did not like the suggestion that I lacked control because of my own failing…it was motivational to be annoyed.

Organizing It v2I wish I had thought to take a picture before we started cleaning out our garage, it was quite an avalanche waiting to happen with some furniture, older sale equipment, bins of clothing and toys, even empty cardboard boxes waiting to go to the burn pile….this is about 2 days into the project.  

With our son safely in a special needs day camp for 2 weeks, my husband took off work and we embarked on what we thought was going to take about a week of purging stuff in our garage.  We started with the safety issues of installing locked cabinets for power tools and chemicals.  Then after that week, we got to the STUFF…you know, all the stuff we had packed up in bins to store for the sale.  Friends, it was ugly….most of the clothing, toys, and books I had packed up with the determination to tag it myself had sat.  It sat too long…elastic was dried out, yellow staining had developed on the clothing, mice had made a couple of nests, some styles of clothing were dated.  We went through it all…being peeved about the obvious situation that had boldly but tactfully pointed out, I was determined to let go of things and also to be realistic about what I could accomplish.  I decided that I needed to throw away, donate, and use the TCT Tagging Service (and yes, I do pay 20% of my total sales plus the fees for supplies and storage, the same as all consignors).

Kathy v2So far I have delivered 14 bins of clothing, outerwear and shoes, 4 boxes of books, and 4 bins of toys to Kathy, our Tagging Service Coordinator.   Here she is getting to work on my items. Thankfully, she said she found the funniest shirt she has tagged for anyone….I hope she keeps her sense of humor because I’m still sending more items her way.  

The garbage man is probably not happy.  The local thrift store has a lot of sorting to do.  My son is rather upset that we have locking cabinets in our garage.  The mice have lost their home.  But my house is returning back to order, I think I may even feel some sanity returning…I may be able to park my car in the garage this winter!  I am beginning to find some calm in the storm.  With the epic project of the garage being cleaned out, I can now clean out the smaller areas inside our home and I will have a place to put those bins that are going to the next sale season…directly to our Tagging Service preparers.  I never, ever, want to be in a garage for almost 2 weeks in 90-degree heat…ever!

I challenge each of you to consider realistically…do you have things you want to free yourself from, things you need to get rid of to clear the clutter out of your home and mind?  Will you actually have time to prepare your items, hold a yard sale, or post and meet on Facebook groups?  Please don’t make my mistake.  Don’t hang on to things hoping to maximize your earnings or think you will make the time to do it.  BXT said the obvious to me, he called me out.  Now I’m saying that to you…let it go (insert Frozen song here…lol).  Seriously, being moms we tend to take on more than is reasonable.  We want to do it all!  I am so happy I have cleared a lot of clutter, I’m thankful that I was motivated by someone to make THIS the priority…I’m starting to feeling like I can function again.  Yes, I will “lose” some money to our Tagging Service preparer, but that is far better than leaving it sit and causing both physical and mental clutter…not to mention how much we ended up throwing away (please remember our Tagging Service is not a cleaning service and clothing should be freshly laundered and delivered in bins so we can keep your items clean).  

So, if you need to, you can be peeved at me…but it’s time to get rid of stuff!  Please join me this season in getting Paid to Purge.  If this post connects with you, I encourage you to sign up for our Tagging Service NOW!  Make the commitment to clear it out…make it a summer project.  

I’m getting clutter free…I hope my family and others will help me be accountable to what we accomplished in the last 2 weeks and give me kind reminders, if or when needed, of where we were and where we do not want to be again. It may not solve all of our life problems, but it sure has been a great place to start.  I challenge you to join me!

Summer Fun In The Lehigh Valley

We’re Thrilled at Lehigh Valley Find and Go Seek to be guest blogging for The Clothing Tree to share our favorite summer fun ideas for summer 2016 and some great ways you can plan out your summer and make sure you don’t miss anything!!

Make your bucket list!

We’ve created a super cool Printable Summer Bucket List, which includes a number of awesome local ideas to keep the kids busy all summer long.  Use it to explore somewhere new or check back in on a local spot you haven’t been to in a while. We have copies here to print and ours or blank copy to fill in your own. 

Printable copies of our Bucket Lists lists are available here at this link!

Untitled design (6)Catch a Movie!

We’re so lucky in the Lehigh Valley to have a number of cities, and municipalities that offer FREE movies nights throughout the summer. These are some of my favorite events to attend during the summer months and our kids love them! Pop some Popcorn or pack a picnic dinner and snugggle in on your pop up chair for some great open air entertainment!

Bethlehem Movies in the Park
Allentown Movies in the Park
Forks Township Movies in the Park
Steel Stacks Family Movie Night
Lower Macungie Movies in the Park

Additionally a number of theaters are offering affordable summer movies for children and their parents this summer each week, both Carmike and Regal Cinemas have summer movie programs. for a few dollars you can cool off for the morning and enjoy a family friendly movie with the kids.

Carmike Summer Movie Series – Catasauqua Road
Carmike Summer Movie Series – Promenade Shops
Regal Summer Movie Express – Easton/Nazareth and Quakertown

 

Untitled design (5)Find a Great Summer Camp

Theres plenty to choose from on our huge list of local options here. Make sure to sort the list for day camps or overnights to find exactly what you’re looking for!

A Camp for your Adventurer!

Get exploring with Blue Mountain’s Adventure Camp! A rough and adventurous camp that allows your little camper to explore and experience all that nature has to offer! Their programs offer weekly or multiple week day or overnight camp experiences and featuring bussing from central locations for day campers.

Camps for Staying Active!

Elite Sports Academy is offering a full summer of programming that allows working parents a great option for their kids who need somewhere to be during the work day that isn’t a day care setting. Their Elite Kids Summer Camp includes a variety of sports, games and more to keep kids busy. Elite Sports Academy is also offering specialty sports camps for soccer, softball and baseball.

Active Learning Centers is one the Lehigh Valley’s premiere child care facilities, and their popular summer camp features day trips, water play, martial arts programs and more. The program runs all summer long to assist working parents with school age children.

Kids can get a chance to develop their baseball skills at IronPigs Baseball Camps Get coached by professionals and enjoy a meet and greet with the players. Kids also receive the opportunity to attend and get introduced on field at a home game.

Specialty Camps

As a former educator it is always exciting what I see camp options for children who have different needs. Valley Family Therapeutics is offering summer enrichment programs that include on site therapists. Their highly trained staff is present to work on social skills, speech, fine motor skills and more.

Get Rocking with a music camp with School of Rock Kids can hone their instrumental skills and vocal skills using their 3 camps options. Their rebound “Beatles” camps offers an amazing opportunity to explore their history and perform live.

An international Experience

Compass USA offers Lehigh Valley families the opportunity to host an international student for 3 weeks in July! This is the perfect opportunity to build friendships, immerse your children in a new culture and offers the opportunity to build their foreign language skills. Local host families just rave about this program.

5 GreatPack your bags for a day trip!

The Lehigh Valley is close to so many amazing attractions, and cities so take advantage. Take a look at some of our favorite ideas for local-ish day trips! All of these options are less than a 2 hour drive from most points in the Lehigh Valley. If these ideas don’t pique your interest see our full list of day trip ideas here!

 

Knoebles – This gem offers free admission to their amusement park! Rides of course must be paid for using a all day ride pass or tickets but, this offers a huge cost savings for parents and grandparents who just want to watch and not ride along. The park’s food is seriously amazing and couldn’t have more options to pick from, its almost worth the drive just to go eat. The park is shady, offers free parking and has a giant pool with a few water slides and a splash park to cool off at. If you’re interested in extending your stay on site camping is also available.

Mauch Chunk Lake – A bit closer to home, just north in Carbon County, is Mauch Chunk Lake. This park offers boating, swimming, camping, hiking and more. With a sand beach for children to play at, this location offers a picturesque option for a day at the beach without fighting traffic or booking an expensive place to stay overnight!

Mercer Museum and Fonthill Castle – Step back in time when you visit these two incredible attractions in Doylestown. The Mercer Museum – filled with artifacts and objects gathered from 1850 – 1930 represent the time prior to the industrialization of america. The Fonthill Castle’s architecture is stunning and featuring works of art in a variety of styles, including a famed collection of Moravian tiles. They offer number of kids activities including printable scavengers hunts with a variety of themes (Harry Potter, Lord of the the Rings and more). Family friendly events are scheduled throughout the summer so check out what they have happening and make a visit.

Bushkill Falls – Even on the hottest of days walking through Bushkill Falls you will feel cool! This awesome attraction – less than 30 minutes North for most of the Valley, offers breathtaking views of waterfalls with only a short drive.

Crystal Cave or Lost River Caverns – Visit an underground caves at one of these super close day trip options. Crystal Cave- in Kutztown and Lost River Caverns in Hellertown offer an awesome both educational and entertaining experience for kids. This trip is probably best for children 7 and older but is breathtaking and completely worth the visit.

Reflections of Sunflowers and Swiss Chard

Reflections of

The 2015 growing season was the first time our family joined a CSA. I had wanted to join a local CSA for a few years to have more control over where our food comes from and to support our local farmers.  A “CSA” is Community Share Agriculture…we buy a “share of the harvest” in advance and then enjoy weekly pick-ups of produce from the farm picked fresh that morning.  I do have my own vegetable garden but….well, let’s just say some years are not as successful as others (life happens and weeds take over or I forget that we didn’t fertilize properly)!  We chose Blooming Glen Farms as our farm of choice, not just because of location but also because of pricing, guaranteed quantity of items per weeks, and that it is a certified organic farm.  We liked that it included fruit, herbs, and flowers as well.  

IMG_7951As the season started you could be sure that if it was our Tuesday pick up day, it would be raining…it became a joke among the Tuesday shareholders.  You see, each week of the CSA a member usually had one or maybe two items that were “pick your own” in addition to the already harvested and washed crops that are in the pick-up room.  The farm would let us know how many pints or quarts and out we would go to the field to pick.  I loved going to the field to pick my crops, it brought out my inner farmer! My son would often join too.  CSA members were always welcome back any day of the week except Sunday to gather your “pick your own” crops…but I’m a busy mom and a camper, so the rain did not deter me from the mission at hand…

On many a rainy day my son was along…he enjoyed the adventure of going out to the field in the rain.  Our first strawberry picking was in the rain…our first green beans picking was in the rain…oh and a thunderstorm too! (We hurried out of the field that time…the medical side of me reasoned it was not good to be the tallest thing in a field of several acres with lightning and thunder.)

IMG_7952My son especially enjoyed the tall sunflower field from which he could pick flowers.  One particular Tuesday was just a downpour.  I stood waiting for my son to emerge from the sunflowers (which were so tight together I could not get in the row).  I figured we were already soaking wet and could not be anymore drenched than we were, so there was no need to hurry along…I just let him search out his flower.  Finally, he emerges from the sunflowers with a mammoth sunflower which he cut at ground level, holding it at least 3 feet taller than himself!  He proudly proclaims, “I thought I would cut a BEAUTIFUL flower to help us remember this lovely day!” I could not help but to stand there and laugh…what a great little guy I have! 

IMG_7949We were pleased with our first season’s experience.  My mother had also joined last season, but was not as favorable to the experience…she had selected a full share which proved to be way more produce than she needed for 2 people and she felt a bit overwhelmed and shared much with her neighbor, so this year she joined as a “half-share” holder.  (If you are a vegetarian I image a full share would be perfect for 2 people, though.). When you join you need to be prepared that you will likely need to adjust your menu and cooking style slightly as well as your shopping list.  You will have a variety of locally grown produce items that you may not have even heard of before.  I grew up in a “food family”…we preserve our homegrown food, canned fruit, and jam, and even prepared large quantities of food for big groups (as in 100s of people)..but I never heard of Kohlrabi.  

Kohlrabi was my personal new favorite…we like to shred it with some garlic powder, salt and pepper, added our own fresh backyard eggs and then cooked it in the mornings for breakfast.  You will receive a lot of leafy greens, Swiss Chard and Kale were fairly new to me and we received it often in our share…I’ve heard of them but never really experimented.  You will want to have some ideas on what to do with them all because salad will get boring.  We sautéed our kale and Swiss chard with garlic or garlic scapes (that is a little shot from the top of a garlic plant that will show up in your share some weeks as the farm needs to trim them in order for our garlic to grow properly underground). We also roasted our kale for a crispy kale chip treat.  One of my favorite things to do is to sauté some Swiss Chard along with a few other fresh veggies like tomato or zucchini and make it into an omelet with my Kohlrabi “fritter”.  Towards the end of the growing season, you will receive a lot of radish varieties…these are the size of turnips.  I’m honestly not a fan of radish, but I found that if I roasted them with the potatoes and carrots we received that it really mellowed the flavor of the radish and I found it quite enjoyable.  

IMG_7950If you are considering a CSA be prepared to experience new things, it is a bit different than shopping at the grocery store’s produce aisle.  Have some recipes on hand for the anticipated harvest or do what I often did…just ask other CSA members during pick up what they do with the item of produce in question…this is where most of these ideas came from.

A CSA may not be for everyone, but it is for me and my family….I look forward to our first pick up today when I know one of our family favorites will be on the farm…STRAWBERRIES! If this article has inspired you to check out the Blooming Glen Farm CSA, please list us as your reference.  I do get a credit for referrals which I use to purchase additional items that I preserve for our family for the winter time.