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    I'd always believed the adage "One man's junk is another man's treasure" until I hosted my first garage sale.

    I spent hours preparing and moving items into the driveway at the crack of dawn, only to discover, after tallying up our sales, that my children actually made more money at their adjacent lemonade and muffin stand.

    So just where did I go wrong? If you're planning to have a yard sale, learn from my mistakes.  

    Here are six tips for setting the stage for a successful yard sale:  

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    Today, my new neighbor came by looking for my hubby.

    "He's sleeping," I told him.

    "Oh, well. Would you mind sending him by when he wakes up? I just had a quick question," he said as he walked off.

    "Do you need to know how to spell something? Because then it'd be worth waiting for him to wake up," I replied. "Otherwise, I may be able to help."

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    I don't know about you, but over the years, I've picked up plenty of odds and ends at garage sales (which are never really held in garages, when you think about it -- usually they're more like lawn/driveway/front stoop sales). And so I see no reason why what happened to an unidentified bargain-hunting family in New York couldn't have happened to me -- maybe there's still hope! Sure, my odds of getting struck by lightning while being attacked by a shark are probably better, but a girl can dream!

    Anyway. Here's the story: The aforementioned family was at a garage sale one day when somebody (maybe the mom?) spotted a simple but elegant glass bowl. Hmm. There were a few nicks and scratches here and there, maybe a tiny crack or two, but it was pretty and simple and she'd been looking for something to put on the mantelpiece.

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    Be careful what you post on Craigslist. And be sure you're very, very explicit about exactly what it is you're offering, or you could wind up like one poor Georgia family.

    Facing foreclosure on their home of 20 years, Pam Hobbs and her son lost even more when a yard sale posting on Craigslist gave people the impression that it wasn't just the furniture in the driveway they were giving away for free. Folks were welcome to come into their home and take anything -- and everything -- they could get their hands on. Total. Chaos. 

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    My sister and I used to share a car, and I was always amazed at the panache with which she would do car maintenance and repairs, like top off the oil and windshield-wiper fluid."Oh my God, you’re like a mechanic," I’d say, watching from our stoop as she strode purposefully from trunk to engine with mysterious bottles. "It’s not hard," she’d inform me. Maybe not. But despite the fact that I can negotiate a car purchase with terrifying efficiency, cook amazing meals that'd make Emeril Lagasse say "BAM!", and share the stage with male improvisers without fear, I was convinced that if I'd attempt such tasks, I’d somehow end up with oil spurting across my windshield on the New Jersey Turnpike. But when I got a fix-it ticket last week and looked at our dwindling bank account, I knew I had to try a few simple car fixes, including fixing my broken tail light. And you know what? It wasn't hard. My sister’s right.I hate when that happens.

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    Ever since Julia Child and her famous kitchen became a fixture of American TV, I think everyone has not only looked at cooking differently, but the use of pegboard too. Before it was maybe just something used to hang tools in the garage, but once Julia's husband Paul lined their kitchen with it and used it to display all those gorgeous copper pots, there was a bingo! moment where people realized they could use it in other parts of their home as well.

    Although some may still think it looks too industrial or cheap (it is happily inexpensive!), take a look at these following uses. I think you'll be surprised to see its functionality and visual interest.

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  • Consumer Reports Is Free Today!

    posted by Amy Keyishian July 5, 2011 at 3:15 PM in Home & Garden
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    My husband knows that before we make any major home purchase, there are two things I’m going to need: My drawer full of Bed, Bath & Beyond 20 percent off coupons, and my back-issues of Consumer Reports. My mom may not have taught me to keep the house clean or separate my laundry -- she’d rather be writing ... and who can blame her? -- but she did teach me to stretch my pennies 'til Abraham Lincoln looks like Gumby. Consumer Reports is a non-profit organization that tests household products and rates them by durability and whether they’re worth the money you pay for them. They don't take ads, and they don’t care if companies get mad at them. So when it’s time to buy a vacuum cleaner and you want to know if Dyson really never loses suction, Consumer Reports is your impartial third-party, removing the hype from the infomercials. And today (July 5, until 3 a.m. EST on July 6), they’re free.

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    We have a great friend named Marc who is a true DIY dad. He re-did his kitchen (like plumbing and all), he's refinished bathrooms, he's built furniture. He is the friend you always want around, the one you would almost pay to have around when you are re-painting as he does a professional-level job. Seriously, we have one wall in our apartment that looks awesome, while the rest are kind of so-so -- we call it the Marc Wall.

    Marc is the dad of two amazing little ones, and his wife is always in search of cool tools, gadgets, whatnots to give him. Father's Day is no different, so I'm helping her find some fabu gifts that celebrate his DIY-ness!

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    It is coming up. Father's Day. June 19, people. I'm thinking of my dad aka The Colonel. He is a gardener. He has 4 hoes. He has his one favorite pair of gloves. He knows his way around Lowe's blindfolded ... and his local nursery owner asks him for gardening tips. Sound like a dad, a husband, a man in your life with a green thumb?

    For any holiday or birthday, I know I can't go wrong with a garden gadget or two for The Colonel. But which one? As I was hunting for this year's Father's Day gift, I thought I'd pass my findings along.

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    I fell in love with this R2-D2 trash can when I saw it a month ago. I’ve since been obsessed with tracking down great-looking external trash cans – probably because, as a California resident, I’m stuck with the boring ones we’re required by law to use. Unlike toilet seats, these are remarkably hard to find! Seems like very few people are into the idea of attention-getting trash bins – or, as a commenter pointed out on the site where I saw that can, they’re worried the darn thing will get stolen. Still, I found a few kicky garbage bins to brighten any sanitation worker's day…

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