Tips for Buying on Craigslist

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The past year or so I have been buying and selling on Craigslist (despite the warnings from a Lifetime movie). Craigslist is my equivalent to an extreme sport. Since I’m looking for more adrenaline junkies to join my posse, I have devised some tips to help those who want to brave the world of online haggling. Here’s what I’ve learned…

Be vigilant. If you are looking for something specific like a certain brand or a real leather sofa you have to peruse the site often. Daily. Multiple times a day. Just make it part of your routine. Wake up, pet the dog, scan Craigslist. Also, alter your search words. Be broad and then specific. Think about how far you are willing to drive for a deal and change your location when you search. Think about relatives you can call on in other states and search there. Even misspell search words. You never know what will turn up.

Be aggressive. I suffer from acute phone anxiety. I know it’s much easier to text or email a stranger but if said stranger is selling the perfect honey tan real leather Restoration Hardware type sofa for cheap because they need to get rid of it that day… call them on the TELEPHONE! This my friends was one of my mistakes. I could be sitting on said sofa but I was timid and texted an old guy. (Old guys don’t like to text, ps.)

Be direct. If you really want something, make it known. My favorite words for this are “I have cash and I can pick it up now.” Of course, you are never committed. You can go to the seller’s house and decide it looks much different from the photos and change your mind (or gage their desperation level and offer less; a lot of times they’ll accept because they want it/you gone). It’s Craigslist, people. That’s how it goes. Move on. But at least this way you sound very committed and hopefully they won’t give it to someone else before you get a chance.

Be informed. Just because the post says “midcentury modern” or “leather” or “wood” doesn’t mean it really is. Know what to look for and what to avoid. If they list a brand, look it up and price compare. They say “midcentury modern” but it’s really from Target, that “wood” might actually be particle board topped with veneer, and the “leather” may actually be a blend. Thus whenever you call the seller, because you are going to call them on the telephone, have questions ready. The last thing you want to do is drive to the middle of nowhere only to find out that the perfect antique desk you found is kid sized and purchased from Hobby Lobby.

So friends, get on the internets and find yo’self a deal! Just remember it’s Craigslist and you’re dealing with average people, not professionals.

How To Make French Press Coffee

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My favorite part of the morning is drinking coffee. It has been part of my daily routine since I was in college though it wasn’t until a couple of years later I was introduced to the French press (thanks Greg!). If you drink coffee for taste in addition to the caffeine the French press is the way to go. Full disclosure: It did take me a time or two to get used to it because it does taste different than drip coffee. With French press coffee you get more of the oils from the beans and the flavor of the coffee really comes out. I’m telling you, it’s delicious.

Today I’m going to show you how to make the best coffee one can make at home (and before work even when you’re short on time!).

Before you begin:

There is a little prep work before you make your first press but you only have to do this once. First is knowing your measurements of ground coffee to water ratio. I like about a tablespoon and half of coffee to a cup of water. A lot of times it will say on the back of coffee bags two tablespoons to six ounces of water but I think they just want you to buy more coffee. Once you have measured your water and coffee out just make visual note of how far to fill up the press with water. I know mine by sight for two, three, and four cups of coffee.

What you need:

  • French Press >>> I have this one.
  • Whole Bean Coffee
  • Coffee grinder >>> I have this one.
  • Boiling water >>> I use this.

Process:

  1. Start boiling your water. I use an electric kettle but before I had one I would boil water in the microwave.
  2. Grind your coffee. Before I had an electric coffee grinder I used a hand crank one. Electric all the way!
  3. Add the ground coffee into the french press and pour in boiling water. Give it a little stir with your spoon.
  4. Steep coffee for 3:30 minutes.*
  5. Press and pour. Ta-dah!

*While my water is boiling or my coffee is steeping I fix my lunch, brush my teeth, finish my make up, etc. It’s ok if you steep a little longer than 3:30 minutes before you press. It won’t ruin your coffee.

I hope you try a French press. If you’re not ready to convert at least order one the next time you’re at coffee shop. Even Starbucks will do one.

Quick Art History – Grandma Moses

I tell my students they need to be able to name a few artists when asked and should also know a thing or two about them. If nothing else, it comes in handy when playing Jeopardy (and assures people that you have a little “culture”). I’m calling this feature “Quick Art History” where I’ll give you the important points of an artist’s work and life. You’ll surely dazzle your friends at the next dinner party. Art historians may cringe at my pedestrian treatment, but I do it for the people.

Quick Art History

Anna Mary Robertson “Grandma” Moses lived from 1860 to 1961. She was born in upstate New York into a large farming family. She grew up on the farm and continued agrarian living into marriage and parenthood. Selfless and scrappy, she bought her family a cow with her own savings and churned butter for supplemental income during tough times. At the age of 72 Grandma Moses took up embroidery and would give away her creations that she dubbed “worsted” pictures.

Grandma-Mose-Home-in-the-Hills

After just a few years, her arthritis made it difficult for her to embroider. Her daughter suggested she take up painting… at age 76. She painted casually and painted intently and gave away much of her work. Most of it was bright, honest, and direct. As someone who had lived a complete life and only painted as a personal hobby, Moses felt neither a need to evolve into something nor a desire to make a critical statement with her “work.”

pull boys

Many paintings ended up in a local pharmacy window gathering dust until they caught the eye of a New York City collector who had a propensity for seeking out native artistic “finds.” He bought all of her paintings in the store window, took them back to NYC, and made the rounds to museums and galleries in hopes of making Grandma Moses famous. Collectors and curators liked the paintings but were turned off by her age.

country wedding

It wasn’t until 1940 that her paintings made their public debut. The show was titled “What a Farmwife Painted,” thinking that the artist’s name, completely unknown, did not merit attention. A New York department store reassembled her show for a Thanksgiving Festival and invited Grandma Moses to speak. The NYC press was charmed by her humility and overall precious personality and she became a superstar, shortly thereafter featured on the cover of Time and Life magazines (among many other awards, president meetings, exhibitions, etc). Her passing at the age of 101 was front page news across America and much of Europe.

the old bridge

Grandma Moses is an example of continued perseverance, lifelong learning, and doing what you enjoy for enjoyment’s sake. She painted without self-consciousness or egotism. It’s okay to pursue things you don’t have any expectations for. And it’s never too late to start. Grandma Moses is not included in a lot of survey art history classes but her story is important to any creative. Now get to it already! (bio reference)

time cover

“I didn’t have an opportunity to study art….but if a thing seems right to me, I do it.  Art is like the Bible.  Everyone reads the Bible and has a different opinion.  Everyone looks at pictures and has a different opinion, so I go on my own.  I love bright colors so I use bright colors.  I don’t know much about perspective and things like that.  But I paint because I like to and I know what I want to paint.” (source)

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Learning List

The other day I was talking to my boyfriend Greg about how we learn certain things strictly out of necessity and not because we want to (like lighting a gas pilot light because you can’t take another cold shower). It made me think about the different types of learning we experience in our short little lives. If you’re like me you are curious about everything. I feel like I am in a constant state of  “why is that” coupled with “I can do that.” Not to nerd-out on everyone but I like to learn.

To me (as an adult) there are two categories of learning: continuing education and learning wants. Continuing education pertains to my daily life and building on what I already know. Learning wants are skills that I need to make time for in the future to learn. I’ve narrowed my lists to five each (but there’s always more!).

Things I’m always learning and working on:

  • Design and art {duh}
  • Cooking and Nutrition
  • Organization
  • Gratitude/Compassion
  • Being a good human

Things I plan on learning:

  • Calligraphy
  • Photoshop  and Photography {more in depth}
  • Beef Wellington
  • Basic sewing
  • American Ninja Warrior stuff

 

What are your thoughts on learning? Do you have a list of things you want to learn?

 
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