Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Selling on eBay

This winter my husband and I decided that our big project would be going through all the boxes in the basement and clearing out stuff.    We hit upon the idea of  selling on ebay, which we have done off and on for a number of years.
The added incentive was to have my cousin and her husband come over and teach them how to sell online too.  It has worked out amazingly well.   We have kept each other motivated and have fun at the same time.   Karl takes such professional pictures that makes selling anything easy.   The photo's do all the "talking."    Once a week we  get together take a bunch of pictures, talk and laugh and then have dinner together.   And in the meantime the boxes are slowly disappearing and we are making some extra money as well. A definite win win!   Our "store"  http://www.ebay.com/usr/danterri.

We have learned so much together and I wanted to make a record of all of it so I don't forget.  So in no particular order here is my brain dump on selling on eBay.

1) Notebooks -  Having a notebook just for selling is great for staying organized especially for  researching the items I want to sell. My method is to write the name of the item at the top of page and use that page just for that, no more hunting through pages of notes. 
As I research online (ebay, google...) I make notes on description words, model numbers and anything else that stands out to use for when I am posting the item for sale.  I also note a dollar range and measurements.
On the side I write down the pictures numbers / date taken to make those easy to find.   After the item is listed I put a big check mark on the top. It is satisfying to check them off one by one.  Later after it sells, I note how much we sold it for.  I just started my 3rd notebook.

2)  Facebook Groups -I have found some wonderful groups on Facebook that have made the experience this time around so much better!   The best one with helpful folks and always a positive attitude is called The Thrifting Board.  With this group you can post pictures of items that you need help with and since they have so many members others will chime in with their advice.  We have learned LOTS about selling and good customer service. I highly recommend it!    I now know what BOLO's are (Be On the Look Out).  These are items that are regularly seen at Thrift stores, garage sales. etc. that I normally would have just passed right up.  I have learned that some of these are worth more than you would think.   I have tried a bunch of them and am so thankful for the knowledge that others have shared with me.   Some of the BOLO's I have learned about are coffee mugs,  Needlecraft kits and stuffed animals.    Of course the flip side of all this information is that it makes me want to rush out and buy more things to sell!   And as the initial goal was to clear out the basement it seems counter-intuitive but it has worked out quite well.

3)   Selling -In the past we just did auctions only. We still do them for the first time we are listing items, especially if we are not sure what price to ask for it.   But gradually we became more comfortable with trying BIN (buy it now) and BO (best offer) options on eBay. I have learned how to make counter offers.  We have also learned how to use online shipping labels that save a lot of time.   The only  thing we have not become comfortable with yet and that may change down the road, is selling internationally.   One step at a time.

4)  Pinterest -This has been a great way to organize Resources.  All those wonderful pages with information about identifying silverware patterns, hat styles, jewelry makers and so on that would have got lost by book marking them, are now on a board on Pinterest.   I have also learned that it can be a great marketing tool.   For instance I had a number of items that related to weddings.  So on the advice of TTB (the thrifting board)  I made a vintage Wedding board.   The idea is that you pin a number of items related to the topic and after every 4th one you add one of your own ebay listings and keep going.  Putting together the wedding board was fun and I really got into it.   It has also been a good place to keep track of BOLO's. 

5)  Packaging - My husband has become a master packer!  Most of the positive feedback we get mentions the great packaging.   We use as much recycled material as we can.  Saving boxes from anything has been a great way to save money.  Bubble wrap, tissue paper, newspaper, brown grocery bags, plastic grocery bags are all used.  A new one I just learned about but haven't tried yet is pool noodles. You can cut these up and use them to hold fragile items like plates or to line boxes with it.
We are always on the look out for packaging materials at stores.

6)  Storage - Once I list an item then it is moved upstairs and kept safe until it is sold.   I have plastic bins that I have found at the thrift stores and I put a paper on the top listing the items that are individually wrapped inside.  Another great discovery was berry crates that we found at Costco.  These are heavy duty cardboard boxes that stack very nicely.  I try to keep like items together so for instance have all my jewelry in one and toys in another.  The raspberry crates are a nice small size.   I am still working on keeping track of the stored items.  Ideally I should have the bins/ boxes numbered and somewhere either in my notebook or on a spreadsheet a note about where the item is stored.

7)  Record Keeping - As eBay only stores a list of items that have been sold for the last 60 days I am coming up with a system to keep track of the sales.  If we ever get to having a store I believe there are ways to keep track of these on the site.  In the meantime I am using google sheets for the purpose.  I am trying to keep records of the name of the item, how much we paid for it, what it sold for, shipping costs and dates for each one. 

8)  Pictures - The better the pictures the less you have to describe your item.   Most listings let you have up to 12 pictures for free so we try to take enough shots to use all those.  We do all angles, insides, bottoms and close ups of tags/ markings. Also any defects or special features.   We have had fun "staging' these shots to make them look their best.  For glass items it is better to try to use sunny days where natural lighting makes them just shine.  We are so thankful to Karl for his professional shots and knowledge!!  This year I learned that if I highlight the first picture I want for my listing then hold down the shift key and click the last picture (if they are in order) then it will select them all and load them one after another. Big time saver!

9)  Descriptions -  I have learned from Diane to copy and paste my title into the description post. I've discovered that the title doesn't have spell check so by copying it I have found spelling errors I might have missed.
I try to use up all the available spaces allotted for the title and get all the pertinent information. Each letter in the title should began with a capital and take out all punctuation (it messes up search engines).  By copying the title into the description box I can just add more info for each part of the description.  I try to have just bullet points so they are easy to read.   To make your listing mobile friendly use at least 14 font size and align it to the left.

10)  Finding items to Sell -  This is the part I think is the most fun!  We like going to thrift stores  year round and garage sales in the summer.  I have always loved treasure hunting.   Now I feel like I have graduated to being a more informed shopper.   The ultimate tool for this is a smart phone or notepad.  Then you can research items while you are shopping.  Some day soon we hope to have one.  In the meantime  I just go with my gut reaction.     My method for thrift stores is to go through the store and really concentrate on a few areas during the "hunt".  I put anything I might be interested in my cart.  When I am done with that then I go through the cart and start really looking at each item and deciding what I want to buy.  I try to keep the BOLO's in mind and I am learning to trust myself more.  If I really like it then I figure that someone else will like it too.   Garage sales are a little more work but you can find some great deals.   The other more obvious place to look for items to sell is at home.  Once you have made a few sales you start looking at your belongings in a different light!  It has changed how we think about our stuff.   We have made it into a part time business and are are loving working from home.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Grandma's Library

I love childrens' books!  I  have been collecting them for years.  
It all started 30 years ago when our daughter was born.  I soon discovered that she would sit contently in my lap and let me read to her when she was a baby.
We started out with simple board books that matched her attention span.  Then we went to short sentences and if they rhymed she liked them even more.   So began my search for good books.
Little did I know that it would become a fun life time hobby!

We did go to the library too but since little children can be hard on anything as fragile as paper, I wanted to start getting some books for her own.    I shopped at thrift stores,  used library sales and spent hours crouched down on driveways at garage sales looking for good books.  

Six years later our oldest son was born and the search continued.  He liked cars, trucks and trains so those were added to our collection.   Nine years after that came our youngest son and I continued the tradition of starting to read to him when he was a baby.   As they grew the books became longer and we would graduate to chapter books.  It became our bed time ritual to have them all tucked in bed and I would read out loud to them.   Even when they became adolescents they liked to be read to.
We have shared many laughs over a book.

When my youngest son out grew some of the books I thought about clearing them out to put in our yearly garage sale.  I did sell lots but there were some that I couldn't part with.   I decided that I would keep our favorites and box them up and save them for them to share with their own children.
I imagined reading it to my grand children and hearing them laugh at the same parts that their Mommy and Daddy liked when they were little.

When I started to have nieces and nephews I would buy them books too. If nothing else I wanted to be remembered as the Aunt who gave them books.  

About 5 years ago we hit a time in our lives when money was very short.  I sadly realized that I might have to stop buying children's books.  It had become such a habit that my cousins would tease me when we went thrift store shopping together and I would head straight for the bookshelves.  They nick named me the crazy book lady.    How could I give up something that I enjoyed so much?

Thinking it over one day I came upon the solution.   I could still buy them if I could sell them and help with our finances.    Oh joy!    A year before this our daughter was married and while she and her husband were visiting I showed them the book case that had all the books I was saving for their children.  My son in law looked at them and smiled and said Grandma's library.   So when I decided to start selling books on Amazon that is the name that popped into my head for my store. 

Grandma's Library was born!  I went on happily looking for books.  The wonderful thing is that since I had been looking for books for so many years, I could easily spot those  that I had never seen before.  These are usually the best ones to sell.  There are hundreds of copies of all the favorite ones like Dr. Seuss and they are not worth much online.   Without realizing it I had gained some knowledge of children's books. 

Two years ago our first grand child was born, a beautiful little girl.   And the tradition continues.  I have bought her lots of books and will continue to do so.  And just this last summer we are now the proud grand parents of the sweetest little boy.   More books coming. 

Grandma's library online has done well. I like thinking that I am helping to spread my love of good books to other little children.  And I love that I now am blessed to do so with my own grandchildren.
My "library" on Amazon   

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Stone Soup

When the cold weather hits I haul out my crockpot and start making soup.

No Matter what the recipe is I usually start by adding 2 large onions, 5-6 cloves of garlic, 2 large carrots, 3 stalks of celery with the leaves and fresh parsley.     I use a small food processor for the onions, garlic, celery leaves and parsley and when I am done I rinse the bowl of the food processor with a little water to get every last bit of veggie goodness and add it to the pot. It always make me feel very frugal.   

What has saved many an otherwise ho-hum pot of soup is a jar of Better than Bouillon in my fridge.  Just add a heaping tablespoon or two and it tastes better every time.   I have given jars of it as gifts, that's how much I like it.  Somewhere I read about a woman who feels the same way about  Italian Seasoning, she said she puts it in everything and so I crush some in my hands to get the most flavor and add it too.

Next I add some type of protein - meat, barley or beans.  Beans!.  There is this awesome little Mennonite store by my Mom's house that sells all sorts of beans in bags for a very reasonable price.   I like to buy all different colors and then mix them together in tall storage jars ( it looks pretty on the shelf too).
  A friend told me that her kids will eat any soup with Red Lentils in it because they make the soup creamy.  So that is one of the beans I add to my mix.

I like that I can throw this all in the night before and let it cook on low while I sleep. 
In the morning I take a peek and if necessary add some more water and it is ready to eat by lunch.

While I was chopping up the veggies tonight I was thinking about the children's book Stone Soup.   In that story a stranger comes to a town and the people there will not share their food with him.     .  He offers to make them the best tasting soup they ever had and they are eager to try it.  He asks for the biggest pot that they have and fills it with water.  Then he adds an ordinary stone to it.   After the water has heated up he tastes it and says something like you know what this soup needs?   And proceeds to ask for first onions, then carrots and on through a list of ingredients that each of the neighbors, one by one,  runs and eagerly gets to add to the soup.  I love that they are all working together and are not aware of what this stranger is teaching them about sharing.   In the end the soup tastes just right and they are all amazed that a stone could make such good food.      It makes me realize that food is meant to be shared.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

How to Enter Giveaways - "Alternative Shopping"

Comment, Follow, Tweet, Subscribe, Vote, Repeat.  Giveaway Lingo .
Giveaways are fun alternative shopping and a great way to try new things for free!

I have been entering them for a couple of years now ever since my daughter told me about them.
I well remember how  optimistically I threw myself into them at first, spending hours on the computer entering as many as I could find.  After one month I was on the verge of quitting!  I hadn't won a thing and thought I had just wasted a lot of my time.  And right then was when I won my first one, I was so excited!  The ironic thing is that I never did receive that first prize.   But it kept me going and I went on to win lots so I am thankful for it anyway. 

   I wanted to post some of the tips I have learned that may be helpful to others who are interested in this  "shopping" method.   I am by no means an expert and don't claim to be but I am willing to share my little bits of knowledge so take it as a kindly gesture.   Here is my humble advice:

1)  Set up an email address just for the giveaways.  As you will be typing this address a LOT make it something simple and not too long.   Gmail works well for leaving comments on some blogs.

2) Set up a Twitter account, again  just for  giveaways.  It's free and easy.
When I find blogs that do a lot of giveaways I always follow that blogger on twitter.  It is almost always at least one entry on the giveaway forms.

3)  Tweeting for giveaway forms.  It took me awhile to learn how to get the  URL from twitter to enter into the forms that don't do it automatically.  I love the new forms where you just click on the words of the tweet and then it tells you that it is confirmed and you just click the submit button.

 For all the older forms this is how you do it.  The box on the form will say something like "Post Tweet" or "Share this Giveaway" click on it to open the box.  Inside will be a blue Tweet button.  When you click the Tweet button, a separate box pops up with the pre-written message.   You click on the blue tweet button and then move your mouse towards the top of the box.  In blue will be a little  line that says "view it on Twitter" that pops up after you have sent the tweet and is only there for a few seconds before the box goes away.  So if you are ready for it you can click on it and it will bring you to the direct link to your tweet.  You can then highlight the link by holding down your mouse button across the URL that appears at the top of the screen.  You then hit the shortcut keys on your computer for copy (on a PC it is the control and letter C buttons).  Close that window and go back to the entry form and in the space for the tweet entry hit the paste buttons (control and the letter V) and then click the submit button.  Occasionally it happens that it disappears too fast for you to hit the View it on twitter line so this is what you do to find it.   Open a new window for Twitter.  Find your tweet which will be somewhere near the top since you just sent it.  You then click on your name above the tweet and when the tweet shows up, click on the word "details" under your tweet and that will get you the direct link.  Follow the previous directions of highlighting and copying and pasting to put it in the entry form.

Twitter has a limit on how many people you can follow depending on how many followers you have so I select these carefully.   Following the bloggers is a good choice.  Following the company that is offering the prize/ product is something I only do if there are a lot of giveaways I am entering from them.  If you have hit your limit they won't allow you to follow any new ones until you have gone into your account and unfollowed some others. 

4)  Tweeting for comment type entries.  You can use the above method for the sweepstake type giveaways where you enter by leaving comments instead of using a form.   For those there will be a list of instructions at the bottom of the blog post about how you can enter.  Usually it is something like leave a comment answering this question and it will give you the question which you answer in the comment section below the post.  Most of the time it will also tell you that you can get another entry by tweeting about the giveaway.   Look either at the very top or the very bottom of the post and you will find the blue bird logo for Twitter. I also recently found one where you had to click on the green "Share" button at the side of the post to find twitters logo so you may have to hunt for it.
  Click on the logo and the tweet box pops up for you to send the pre-written message.  You leave a second comment with the link for your tweet using the above method of copy and paste.   As a side note for these types of entries be sure to read the instructions carefully as sometime they will require you to add something to the tweet message  such as "# sweepstakes entry."

5)  Tweeting for Extra Entries - Most forms will tell you that you can come back  tomorrow and tweet again to get more entries.  I usually take advantage of this.  My method is open a window for Twitter, sign in and then click on "Tweets" under my name.  This will take me to my home page where I see just the tweets that I have sent.  I systematically go down my list and tweet again on each form.  The tweets you sent yesterday will have a link to click on that will bring you back to the blog.  I believe most of them switch to the "next day" after midnight.   

6)  Leaving Comments    Most giveaways have an entry to leave a comment.  For some you must do it first in order to unlock the other entries.  It is good to leave complete sentences with at least 8 words, otherwise some apps may delete it as spam.   A lot of times you must check a box underneath the comment to confirm that you are Not a spammer in order for it to show up on the post.
  Also unless you want to see them uncheck the boxes that say let me see follow up comments.    Don't leave your email address in the message part of your comment.   This just invites a lot of nasty spam.  I never enter  giveaways that ask you do that but thankfully they are few.
To leave a comment you usually have to enter your name and email in the boxes above your comment, your name will show up but your email will not be made public.  Only the blogger can see that information.

7)  Subscribe to the Blog -  The best way to make sure that you will see the email that the blogger will send you if you win is to subscribe to their blog.  This also is on most of the forms and will get you more entries for the giveaway.   Sometimes the giveaway forms will have a box at the top just for entering your email so they can contact you if you win.  Either way if they don't have that information how are they going to be able to let you know if you won?   Subscribing  is also a good way to find out about future giveaways that they are hosting as you look through your emails from them.  Sometime they will also include "Bonus codes" in those emails which are a word or phrase that you can enter in the giveaway form and it is only shown to subscribers.   There are a couple of different forms used for subscribing.  One is Feed Burner where a little box pops up and you enter a code (random letters and numbers) to verify that you are a real person.  There are other ones depending on what app the blogger is using.  Almost all of them require that you confirm the subscription for it to count as an entry.  This is an email that will be sent to the address you gave and you open it and click on the confirm line in the message. It will usually then open another window telling you that you have confirmed and are now officially subscribed.   Don't forget to do this part.

8)  Voting -   Some of the entries on the forms are for voting for the blog.   Picket Fence is an easy one to do.  It will either say click here and when you do a new window opens that says you have just voted for (the name of the blog).   If there is not a link for you to click on to vote for them on Picket fence in the form you can search down the side of the blog for the Picket Fence logo, which says "We're on the Fence" clicking on that will take you to the same page saying you have voted for them.  For the older forms you may have to copy and paste the link from the picket fence page to put in the form.    For the newer forms you just close that window and the form will tell that the entry is confirmed and you click the submit button.    The other voting type entry is  Top Mommy Blogger where again you just click on the link and it automatically places a vote for that blog. You can vote once a day so this an easy way to get more entries.   When I go back to the blog to send another tweet the next day I check to see if I can vote again too. 

9)  Pinterest  -  Following a blogger on Pinterest is another way to get entries.  They usually require that you follow all of their boards.    To do this you click the red "Follow" button in the upper right hand corner of their Pinterest  home page.   You then either enter your name as seen on Pinterest in the giveaway form or they will ask you for the URL of your Pinterest page.  To get the URL click on your name in the upper right hand corner, it will bring you to your boards and you will see your name in the URL.  Copy and paste that link in the giveaway form.

Another entry will say "Pin This"  and give you a direct link to what they want pinned or just ask you to pin any picture from the giveaway onto your boards.    So either click the direct link or use your "Pin It" button to pin something on your page.  I have a board labeled Giveaways for these entries.  After you have pinned the picture a box will pop up and at the bottom in red it says "See It Now"  Click that button to get the direct link to your pin and again highlight, copy and paste it on the giveaway page for verification.   You can follow as many Pinterest boards as you like.

    As a side note following others on Pinterest is a good way to advertise yourself as you can put a link of your own under your name on your home page.  The more people I follow the more that will see my link and hopefully click on it.  Mine is for my Amazon page where I sell lots of children's books under the store name of Grandma's Library.

10)  Facebook -  Visiting someone's Facebook page will get you more entries.  You just click the link that will take you to their page, let it fully load before you close the window.  It used to be that you had to like their page but Facebook has changed the rules for this so now you just visit.  I do sometimes see entries where you also have to leave a comment or like it but usually it is not a requirement.  This is helpful as Facebook will allow you only to like so many pages.

11)   Low Entry Giveaways -    These are some of the best ones to enter because you have a bigger chance of winning!     You can Google that phrase and find websites that will list them out for you.  I often check them and enter all the ones I am interested in winning.    And I want to say Thank you for those that help me find these often hidden giveaways.

12) Finding Giveaways -  Other than the sites that tell you about the low entry giveaways you can do your  own searches for them.   Use the search button on sites like Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook to find giveaways.  Also once you have subscribed to a bunch of blogs you will find other giveaways in your emails.  I  like a site called Online Sweepstakes - the web's premier sweepstakes. This site lists the giveaways in numerous ways - by type of prize, new ones, expiring ones etc.  After you have selected a category you will see at the top left hand of the page a box that says "Display All"  if you click on this a pop down box will appear where you can select "blogs only".  I personally like to enter giveaways on blogs. 

13)  Giveaway Forms -    The old one that I keep referring to is called RaffleCopter and for that one you do a lot of copying and pasting.  Some of the newer ones are  Promo Simple ,Giveaway Tools and WooBox.  To use these a box will pop up that asks you to allow the app to run and you click the "Allow" button.  They don't download anything to your computer so I am fine with using these forms.  Besides the newer ones are So Much easier to use that I love the time that they save me. Sometimes the forms do not show up on the page.  At the bottom of the post look for  "Entry Form"  or  "Rafflecopter" and click on that to find it.

14)   Winning Giveaways -   Most giveaways run from 2-4 weeks.  After they have ended a winner is randomly selected  (by the app being used)  and if it is you, the blogger will send you an email letting you know.  You usually have a set time to respond to the email or another winner will be selected.  Obviously you don't want to miss these emails so check your account daily.   I also always look in my spam folder just in case and try to keep that folder empty so that it is easier to check.  If you follow a lot of blogs then you will get a lot of emails.   I find that an easy way  to check to see if I have won is to use the search button.   I search for these three words one at a  time.  "Congrat"  some use this abbreviated form and others spell it out but this will find it for you.  "Winner" and "Won".  Usually those words appear in the title of the email letting you know you have won and often have a person's name instead of the blog name as the sender.   Open this up and after you do a little dance at your computer respond.  They will ask for your address so the prize can be sent to you.   And sometimes for your phone number and also if you have a choose of color etc in the prize which one you would like.  I always make sure to thank them and to share my enthusiasm at winning the prize.    I keep a  notebook of all winnings and check them off as I receive them and write them to let them know that they have arrived.  Once in awhile a prize will not show up so I write them letting them know and they are very nice in helping me so remember to be courteous and patient.  The prizes usually are coming from the company and not from them and so it out of their hands how much time it will take.  It is always better to be kind in these correspondences.   

15)   Giveway  Hops and  Linky's -  Giveaway hops are when a bunch of bloggers get together and all have a different prize.  At the bottom of each of these posts you will find the links to the other giveaways in the hop. Usually these have a theme name and there is one that is the grand prize giveaway.  These are a fun way to find lots of giveaways in one spot.  Giveaway linky's are when a blog offers to let anyone list their giveaway on their page.  Some of them do this on a certain day every week.  You can do a search on google for "giveaway linky" to find these. 

I hope this has been helpful and if you have a question or something to add,  please leave me a comment.   Have fun!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Tropical Tornado

My latest creation.  I haven't painted in over a year!  I had fun with this one.
collage and acrylic.  the bottom right reminds me of our betta Blue in his bowl.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Iced Tea Recipe using Decaf with a hint of Orange spice.

Summer weather is here and that means making gallons of ice tea!   Every spring I have to do a trial and error method to remember how we like it... to save me from that next year here is my recipe.

Fill a 4 quart pan 2/3's  full of cold water and put on the stove to heat.
Remove the paper and tags from 7 tea bags and put them in the pot.
(6 decaf tea and 1 orange spice black tea like Stash or Constant Comment)
Place a lid on the pan and when it starts to come to a boil turn off the heat
Let it sit covered for about 15 minutes.
Fill a 1/2 measuring cup with sugar but not all the way, leave about an inch on the top. (We don't like it too sweet)
With a big spoon move the tea bags to one side and pour the sugar in so it doesn't hit the bags.
Scoop out the bags into the measuring cup.   Hold the spoon on the bags to pour off the tea but don't squeeze them,  it won't be bitter that way.
Throw out the tea bags or put them in the composting bucket.
Stir the tea to dissolve the sugar.
Pour most of it into a gallon size container, swish the remaining tea around the pan to get all the sugar.
  Then fill the same pan with cold water and add to the container until it is full.
Refrigerate.  I like making the tea at night so it's nice and cold in the morning.

Since we drink this all day I like using the decaf tea bags so we don't get too much caffeine. The orange spice tea gives it a great flavor.

I keep this and a big pitcher of lemonade (Aldi's frozen is good) in the fridge all summer.
It's perfect for a quick drink coming in from the garden.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Gardening Bug!

This last winter a good friend and I got together and decided to try growing everything for our gardens from seeds.  Neither of us have had much luck with this in the past, the poor things got leggy and never even made it out of the house.   The key I learned from past attempts is first that with all the work, water and effort that goes into gardening . BUY GOOD  SEEDS.

So we picked  Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds  which is a beautiful catalog with great selection and good prices.     There are dozens of pages of just tomatoes alone.... red, pink, yellow, purple, striped....!It was work just narrowing those done to just 7 varieties.

We shared all  the seeds which made it very economical and also fun.   We have become garden friends in that we know we can call each other and talk away about our thoughts on gardening.  Thus saving all the others in our lives who eyes just glaze over after awhile when we get into too many details. lol It is our new favorite subject.

We have learned a lot by going to "you-tube university" and watching video's on the right way to grow the seeds, what you need etc.  I especially like "The Rusted Gardener", his video's are informative, short and stick to the point of the title ( the fact that his name is the same as my son is great too!)   My dear husband built me a double light holder for the seedlings based on one of his video's.  

We are off to a good start.  Here are some of my seed babies happily growing under the lights.

In case you are interested (if not skip this list, it's okay)  this is what I'm growing this year:
Tomatoes - had to pick one of each of the colors!
Basil - to make caprese salads
Marigolds - for protecting the tomatoes from bugs
Turnips-  the thing I sneak into all my soups and stews when the boys aren't looking
Beets - the leaves and root fried in bacon is a new fav.
Strawberry Popcorn - cute little red ears of corn that would make great gifts
Broccoli - my boys actually like this veggie.  Don't ask me how I did it. =]
Carrots - little finger ones that I'm going to tuck in here and there
Cucumbers - to make cucumber and mint sandwiches.  Already have a mint patch.
Squash - Iran and Buttercup -sure I'll will be sharing lots of these.
Ground Cherries - a vine that gives you cherries this year and grow in husks
Beans - Hutterite - you can dry these and they make very creamy soups
Cilantro - love it in any Mexican dish
Snap Peas - for dipping in hummus
Swiss Chard - 5 colors! - planning on putting this out front - so pretty.
Lettuce - for all the BLT's I live on in the summer time
Cabbage -red - for pretty coleslaw to go with anything BBQ'd.
SunFlowers - giant ones for the cucumbers to grow on and for the seeds.

I usually buy flowers but realized I can grow those from seeds too so:
Zinnia's - love these flowers and last year they bloomed all summer
Browallia - pretty blue flowers for the window box and planters
Hollyhock - all different colors - biennials - so won't bloom until next year

That ought to keep me busy this summer and happily playing in the dirt.