Author Archives: Darcy Cronin

About Darcy Cronin

I'm a Mother/Coach/Blogger/Business Adventurer from Portland OR. My family consists of my Hubby of 12 years, our 8yo Kieran, 5yo Makenna, and 1yo Teagan. I love dreaming about a better future, and making it happen.

Family Friendly Farmer’s Markets

Despite the fact that I froze this morning when daring to wear a skirt, I am determined to believe that spring is finally here. For me that means the return of my ritual visits to the Portland Farmer’s Markets! 


I mark dates on my calendar, and try to make at least one a week. This year I plan on buying much more produce, since we no longer have organic home delivery.


Not surprisingly, Portland made the Apartment Therapy’s Top 10 List of Farmer’s Market. But they don’t share that the PSU Saturday market is really one mostly for visitors, and locals visit the others all across the city on different days of the week. Here are my favorites:

Here are some tips for saving money at Farmer’s Markets:

  • Buy in season – pretty simple, but you’ll pay more if you get impatient
  • Bring a list, but be flexible – it’s obviously harder to predict availability and sales, so flexibility is key
  • Buy in bulk – freezing fresh produce is a great way to save and eat healthy out of season. But there’s a caveat…
  • Don’t buy more than you have time to eat/store – nothing worse than wasting food!
  • Shop at the end of the day – no vendor wants to schlep home wares, so deals are to be made…and don’t be afraid to negotiate, but remember market etiquette 

While it won’t likely reduce your grocery bill, I think bringing kids to farmer’s markets encourages lifelong healthy eating habits. We’re lucky that our kids go to the market almost every week with their childcare classes. The kids pick out veggies that the cook uses on healthy pizzas, and as you would guess the kids come up with some really creative combos. Portland Farmer’s Markets even offers cooking lessons for kids, which reminds me of my niece, Kid Foodie 🙂 


Do you frequent farmer’s markets with your family?


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Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Cloth Diaper Tips

I’ve been feeling a bit naked lately…without schlepping cloth diapers to/from the office/childcare. You see, once we got serious about potty training and having Girly visit the Toddler room for potty visits, it became challenging for staff to tote clean/dirty diapers between classrooms with up to four Wobblers. I can only imagine the feet of patience that would require, so in an effort to support their effort, I agreed to no longer using cloth diapers at “school”… naturally hoping that this will speed the process toward no diapers altogether!


cloth diaper tipsNot that I want to brag about our effort to use cloth diapers almost full time, but it is pretty rare. I was lucky that the first few months after Girly was in childcare she attended a place that provided cloth service (at no extra charge!), so when we transitioned, I didn’t really want to give that up. But I also knew that it would require quite a bit of effort on my part. Beyond doing two extra loads of diapers per week, one of my initial tests was getting full support of staff to use cloth. They were open to it, but still needed some support on the learning curve…some of these tips should be helpful to new parents too!


Note, most critical factor to hauling dirty diapers is a smell proof container. I bought snapping boxes with handles at Storables, and they truly keep the smell out. I skipped expensive diaper pails in our laundry area for a large snap close tub.


Here is the personal tip sheet that I made for staff to help with using cloth diapers:

Cloth Diaper Tips

Thank you for making the extra effort to use our cloth diapers!

I try to set them up in advance so you don’t have much prep work. Here are a few tips to help make both our lives a bit easier:

Before:

  • There are a variety of style diapers – all of Makenna’s fasten in front (G’s are in back)
  • Please use the thin liners whenever possible – helps remove solids easily
  • Pocket diapers or All-in-ones:  These can only be used once.
  • Wraps can be used multiple times with fresh folding cloth inserts. They are designed to be very repellent and only need to be washed when poop gets on the wrap itself.

After:

  • Please fasten the tabs to the inside Velcro squares – see photos below, this step doesn’t take any extra time really, but it does save me from fastening before washing.
  • Using one bag to line the box daily is sufficient – saves time on both sides.

Thanks!!
Darcy and family

Here’s a review of the new Bum Genius diapers, which happen to be one favorite brand


Do you use cloth diapers in a childcare setting…any tips?


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Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Just Between Friends Lessons

I just got back from picking up leftover items that didn’t sell at this weekend’s Just Between Friends sale in Portland. I wrote earlier about signing up to volunteer/consign and the emotional process of tagging sale items…now I want to share my experience and lessons learned.


First, I have to say that I had fun volunteering, and it was amazing to see such a massive resale event. I’ve certainly never seen anything like it, and it was like a green version of Black Friday! The organizers Brooke and Tammy deserve compliments for hosting such a well-organized and friendly event. 🙂


Second, I have to admit that I didn’t make any moneyIn the end I sold only 11 items for $31, and bought 19 items for $67 worth of clothes for Girly. But that’s not to say that I didn’t get a bargain…I sold things I no longer needed, and bought a whole set of clothes in the next size up. The most expensive item I bought was $6.50 for brand new Gymboree jeans (with originally priced at $30), and cheapest was a Gymboree swim top and shorts for $2.50…hopefully most of them can be resold in another year…


Third, my limited sales is also because I had already gave away a lot of the clothes as hand-me-downs to close friends,  all of our Big Guy’s summer clothes to a friend in Costa Rica, and virtually all of Girly’s clothes were passed on to a close family friend. I don’t regret sharing, but it did mean less to sell.


Yet, here are my mistakes:

  • Waited too long to start tagging…it’s not that it really takes that long, but I just don’t have much spare time…what mom really does?! But my biggest excuse was not having enough hangers, which is critical for clothing. It meant having some items half ready, which really made me feel defeated for the effort I had made…so my lesson is to start tagging now for the next fall sale.
  • Once I did start, I made the mistake of tagging a whole bunch of fall/winters clothes, because that’s what I happened to find first in the basement, so I didn’t include any of it in this sale…good thing I’ve got a jump on the next sale 😉
  • Should have sold my baby gear! Since I had never been to a sale, I was reluctant to haul all my gear to the sale, in case it didn’t sell. I now know that baby gear is the main reason most shoppers love JBF sales.
  • Sell and buy toys! I only brought a few toys, but they all sold. I bought Girly a Sweet Pea doll for $3 to match a Hunny Bunny she already has…I looked for another doll because she lost her one true baby doll, but there weren’t any I liked enough…hint, hint, there’s a market for nice used dolls!
  • Price to sell. I probably overpriced a few really cute outfits, partly because due to original cost and partly due to sentimentality. If anything, I think you’d be better off to tag/price with a friend, just so your prices are reasonable. There is a pricing guide online, but there is still a range, and the different between a dollar or two is the difference between it getting sold or not.
  • I volunteered for the first two hours organizing the bedding section, and I have a few tips for selling blankets. Some people bagged blankets in Ziplocks, and it seemed to me that these didn’t sell…people want to feel blankets. It seemed that blankets packaged in ribbon sold better, because you want them tidy too.
  • I just wish that I had heard about JBF sales when I was pregnant, I have no doubt that I could have saved myself a least a grand if I had stocked up at JBF. Beyond the bargain, I do love the resale ethic. When our Big Guy was learning to walk, I remember being torn about buying a brand new push mail cart and a stand-up leap frog music table…if I had known about JBF, I wouldn’t have had all that guilt about buying new plastic gear that will only be used for a few months! 

What lessons do you have from JBF sales?


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Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Just Between Friends Sale Prep

I’ve been really busy this week…tagging items for the Just Between Friends consignment sale in Portland this weekend (Sat/Sun at the Expo). I’ve been prepping part-time for about a month time, but crunch time is here. 


I feel like quite the novice, but thankfully they’ve made the learning curve easier. JBF has lots of quick videos and tip sheets to explain the do’s and don’t of consigning. It turns out that I won’t be able to purge as much as I was hoping, since they only accept seasonal clothing (so no cute holidays sweaters!) I also realized how much was really stained or ripped, so I’ve got a big donate pile.


But what I didn’t completely expect were the emotions involved in sorting through all the baby/little kid clothes. I should have known, since a good friend recruited me to help her with the task of sorting her baby items (and generously donated her used items for my service of helping her!) Together we managed to be pretty efficient and didn’t get too bogged down in the emotions of purging


Yet, when my turn came, it was harder to detach myself from the memories and personal meaning of each cute outfit…like the Easter sweater here. I had managed OK, but then our Big Guy started asking me why we weren’t having another baby…again. He’s been asking us for a baby for months now, and it always tugs at my heart. We’ve made the decision to stay a family of four last summer, but it’s not the easiest thing to explain to a child, especially one who is so eager to help out (even claiming he’ll change diapers!) The kicker was this time he asked if I was selling the birthing tub I used for Girly, I actually already sold it on Craigslist…but the question once again made me second guess our choice…maybe getting some new/secondhand clothes will give me more to look forward to…plus I tried to tell myself that I’m sharing the joy!  


Have you shopped/consigned at a Just Between Friends sale?
Here’s a great review from a fellow mom blogger.


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Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.