It sounds like you've been putting a lot of thought into this, which is great! The #1 factor I've found that determines the level of success one can attain on eBay is how much effort you put into it, how hard you work at it. Everything else can be learned, but you can't teach someone to have determination and enthusiasm.
From one stay-at-home mom to another, you have to consider the fact that time is money, and things that take too much time can cut seriously into your profits. Therefore, I generally stay away from garage sales, since they're so time-intensive. I also stay away from buying my products up front, then having to photograph, package, and ship them myself.
I have found dropshipping to be perfect for me. Once you spend the time to conduct your initial market research and find some viable products to sell, and get a bunch of long-term, multiple-quantity, fixed-price listings up on eBay that will always be up there, the time you need to spend is very minimal to process orders and make small changes here and there.
For me, it doesn't matter that I've never used the products myself, or even that I don't really know much about the products I sell. The market research tells me how good a particular product is -- otherwise, so many people wouldn't be buying it! You can also research products online to find out how good they are.
As far as your listings are concerned, Richelle is totally right. You can have listings are both professional as well as personal, which is definitely the best way to go.
As far as your antique fork is concerned, if you had a reserve price on it, that could very likely have been why no one bid on it. As a rule, most buyers hate reserve prices and will avoid reserve auctions like the plague. It's better to set a higher starting price than to use a hidden reserve price, which usually just frustrates buyers and sends them elsewhere.
But the very best thing of all to do is to set a low price and let the market determine the value of the item. Most buyers are pretty savvy, and your item should receive what its really worth, depending on what your competition is offering and how much demand versus supply there is for that type of item. That's why research is so very essential.
If all else fails, eBay allows sellers to end their auctions early and pull them completely off the site up until the last 12 hours of the listing, so you can set a low starting price and then closely monitor the listing to see how high the bidding gets up until those last 13 hours or so, at which point you can decide whether or not you want to end it early.
I hope that helps!