Category Archives: Organize

Change Is Good. Pricey, But Good.

1st June 2011

I’m tired, and slightly overwhelmed right now.

I’m in the process of planning a big purge, an even bigger garage sale, the painting of almost every room in our house, replacing some furniture, renovating our patio door and deck and buying new accessories, drapes, rugs and couches.

Um, can someone let my husband know that I’m planning all this? Oh wait, that’s why he’s holding on to his wallet for dear life.

Dear husband, I’ll make it easy on you – I’ll start small.

How about a much needed owl?

So cute, right? How about two?

I couldn’t help myself – love me an owl.

Um, DARLING, do you mind helping me carry a little something from the van?

Oopsie…. I bought something a little bigger than an owl.

Blame the owl – I needed somewhere to put it.

Toss The Crap 2011 – An Act in Futility and Stupidity

23rd March 2011

Before the kids came along, my house was clean and organized about 99% of the time. EVERYTHING had it’s place, and everything was spotless. You could drop by at anytime of the day, and this was pretty much the case, no matter what day it was. My house was a clean freak’s dream.

Then I had kids.

I know you will relate to me when I say, holy sweet hell do kids need a lot of stuff.

Of course, it’s not just the stuff they need, like clothes, shoes, hair accessories (why yes, I do live with a four year old princess), but there is all that other crap, like toys, and craft stuff, and dvds, and games, and oh yes, BOOKS.

Now, add in two sets of grandparents, godparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, friends, and various stragglers looking for cake and free alcohol, and every birthday, Easter, and Christmas is a nightmare of more incoming stuff. Also, if that wasn’t enough, Greeks also celebrate something called a Nameday, which usually leads to envelopes of money for the lucky person celebrating, but may also involve MORE stuff to fit into an already overcrowded home.

Do you get where I’m going with this? Even if I never bought either kid a thing, ever again, I would still be overwhelmed and inundated with STUFF until the end of time, or until I lose my mind – whichever comes first.

Because of all this STUFF, every year, I try to do a purge around this time of year, getting rid of things the kids don’t use, play with or fit into any more. I then save it all and have a massive garage sale in the spring. Around these parts (ie. my house) I’m known as the garage sale queen  – the last two garage sales I had, I made $1700. At each of them. That’s  $3400 at two garage sales selling mainly kids stuff. Yes, you may bow at my awesomeness. I blogged about it once, way way back — feel free to read it if you need some pointers.

So, it’s that time again, time to do a big purge and I’m calling it TOSS THE CRAP 2011, because I plan to be ruthless and brutal this year. And with the stuff that I hate to get rid of, like books, or toys the kids actually do enjoy, I’m trying to downsize as much as I can. Take my word for it – do it when they’re sleeping – the screaming is really minimized that way.

Insert evil cackle here.

Sadly, along with the major purge, comes the need to organize what is left behind.

Hence this,

And this,

(Playmobil anyone?)

And sadly this,

(You are looking at 600+ alphabetized Pokemon cards – if this isn’t a cry for help, I don’t know what is. Seriously, I lost two HOURS of my life so that I can say my seven year old’s Pokemon cards are organized. Imagine how long the linen closet is going to take.)

I plan to continue blogging about my Toss The Crap SPECTACULAR whenever I conquer another corner of my home, mainly as a reference to prove to myself that it was in fact clean at one time – because you know, kids have a way of moving things around.

I wonder if they sell kiddie straightjackets. (Thinking aloud and mostly kidding)

Toss the Crap 2011 – Organizing the kid’s DVDs

15th March 2011

I love my children.

What I don’t love is how much stuff comes along with the children.

Oy, the stuff.

If you have children, I’m sure you know what I’m talking about.

Case in point – kids’ dvds

This is only some of the collection. (Weep with me for the sweaters that could have been.)

What is most annoying however, is the space required to store all these DVDs – they fill an entire tv cabinet.

Me no likey.

Then I had a GENIUS idea.

Enter the CD wallet (the ugly CD wallet says my husband).

I picked it up at Target the other day for $25 (holds 208 DVDs). With the kids help, I alphabetized all the flicks, and we tossed the dvd cases.

What do you think? Before or after?

Looks like spring cleaning  (TOSS THE CRAP 2011!)  has officially begun.

Spring Cleaning

13th April 2010

Shoot me. (With some of Marc Jacobs’ Daisy perfume thank you very much)

Sadly, it’s that time of year again. (Yup, still fat.)

Spring cleaning. (MEH)

It’s the time to get a little ruthless with the cleaning and the organizing and the letting go of the STUFF suffocating every corner of my abode. I’ve been tackling one area at a time, on my own. I have two children, so it’s slow going – I’m sure you understand.

So, I started small with the front closet, kitchen cabinets and the kids’ rooms. Done, done and done.

Yesterday, the man and I decided to tackle the crawl space (also know as the depths of hell in our basement). We clearly had no idea how big this job would be. What’s in there? EVERYTHING – its literally overflowing in crap.  I would say 80% of it is kid related – toys, furniture, and 16+ large rubbermaids FULL of outgrown clothing. We also have boxes and boxes of books that we have no shelf space for at the moment. Books in boxes is a sad, sad thing if you ask me. There is also a crazy amount of random stuff that I have no idea why we even bought in the first place (YES, I’m referring to you $600 foosball table, that has been wrapped up in our crawl space for 5 years).

We decided the best way to try and tackle this was to pull out as much as possible and go from there. A good idea in theory – except that we really had no free space to begin with. The result? It’s basically a depressing, crap explosion that is beyond stressful at the moment. Two levels of our house are now an utter mess/work in progress. The front hall is packed with piles of toys and kids items that I plan to get rid of. Of course, the children can’t help but want to play with these toys, and are constantly moving things and knocking things over. Our laundry room is a mess, our playroom/rec room is filled with stuff, and the crawl space is the worst of all.

I’m trying to think of the end result so it’s not as stressful, but it’s not really working.

Also, crying about it doesn’t actually work either.

Neither does whining, yelling or screaming into a pillow. Go figure.

I think I need a cleaning lady. And a bulldozer. And a priest.

If I could get the husband and the kids to move out, I could be done in 2 days. Failing that, it will be nothing short of a miracle if it gets done by the end of the month.

In the meantime, please send me valium. And wine. And lip gloss.

And because I have no shame, I feel the need to share my horror story with you, as evidenced in these sad, I-swear-my-house-does-not-normally-look-like-this pics.

Garbage Sales are CRAPTASTIC!

29th July 2009

In yesterday’s post I spoke about how I made $1700 at my last garage sale, within an 8-hr period. That statement had several people asking me exactly how I did that, and would I please blog about it. So here it is: my guide to throwing a successful garage sale.

1. PICK A DATE: First off, you need to pick a date, so you have a clear deadline with which to work with. I would suggest giving yourself about a 2-week period to allow for getting everything ready and for the online ads to be seen. My suggestion is to ALWAYS do it on a Saturday, and ALWAYS start early. I always start my garage sales at 6 a.m. for several reasons. Most garage sales don’t start this early, so you are guaranteed to get the early crowd. Also, the sooner you start, the sooner you finish which is always nice.

2. Once you have the date and time picked out, ADVERTISE. You need to get the word out, because if no one shows up, you’re just a loser with a whole bunch of old crap on your front lawn. I advertise in the paper, online and with signage in and around the neighborhood.

  • LOCAL PAPERS: I place a small ad that starts with the location, date and time. I always list the bigger items that could potentially draw a crowd, along with some general items like kid’s clothing, etc. Also, you should definitely make sure to say RAIN or SHINE, if you are willing to do that.
  • ONLINE: I place my own FREE ads on Kijiji, Craigslist and any other local sites or forums that draws people. I can’t tell you how many people I had stop by, that mentioned they had seen it online.
  • SIGNAGE: I hit the dollar store, buy the brightest colors of bristol board I can find, a permanent black marker, heavy-duty tape and some GARAGE SALE signs, and get to work. Once the signs are ready, I go out the day before the sale and post them throughout the neighborhood and all entry/exit points in the neighborhood that intersect with major streets, so I can also get the attention of people who happen to be driving by.

garage

3. Now its time to ROUND UP ALL THE SALE ITEMS. This is the time to scour your home, your crawl space, your storage areas and your garage for items that you don’t use, don’t need, and have been gathering dust. Once I decided that I was going to have a garage sale, I went from room to room with an empty box and filled it with the stuff we really didn’t need or use anymore. Once I had pulled everything out of my house, I also asked my mom if she had anything that she wanted to get rid of as well. This is your opportunity to be ruthless!

4. PREPARING your stuff is next. It is really important that you CLEAN the stuff you’re going to sell. You might be able to sell a dirty plate, but you’ll make more off a clean one. So CLEAN your stuff.

  • Kitchen Items/Toys – CLEAN THEM! Smaller items can be sold together – use ziploc bags, ribbon or tape to sell as a bundle.
  • Linens/Clothes – FOLD THEM and use ribbon or string to attach similar items. For example, tie similar items together, such as sheet sets, onesies or bibs. Its so much easier to sell 5 onesies for $1 than 5 onesies for$.20 each.
  • Appliances – Clean them, and make sure they work. If you have the instruction booklet, even better.
  • Larger Items: Again, make sure they are clean and in working order.

5. Once all the items are ready to go, its time to PRICE them. You have to price your stuff – It’s a MUST. Take the time the night before and put a sticker on everything. This allows the shoppers to really check out your stuff without having to keep asking what everything costs. Its also helpful when people buy more than one item, so you don’t have to come up with a price on the fly. I have a simple philosophy when it comes to pricing and its nothing new. Price your items slightly higher than what you would ultimately like to get, that way you can barter down to your final price. Do not overprice your stuff – its a garage sale. The last time I went to one, this woman was selling kids paperback books for $2 each and no one would buy them. I sold mine for $.25 and sold every book I had. Also, the smaller, cheaper items I NEVER barter on. I can’t be bothered to barter with someone over something thats a dollar. That just annoys me – even I have limits.

Also, PLEASE, do not let anyone intimidate you into selling something at a price you’re not comfortable with. I was selling a large tv shelving unit, that someone clearly wanted. When I told her the final price, she tried to make me accept a lower offer by telling me she would walk if I didn’t give her that price. I asked her if she needed directions out of the neighborhood. Please honey – the only person that intimidates me is my father – go use your weak tactics someplace else. She left and came back 10 minutes later, and bought it. Maria kicks garage sale ASS!

6. Everything is priced and ready to go, next up is SETUP! This is also really important. If everything is set up in a clean and organized way, people will want to buy stuff. If it looks gross and messy, why would anybody stop. I use tables I have, such as my patio table, and I borrow tables from neighbours so that all items are off the ground (except the larger items). Put like items together and arrange it so that it looks organized. As you sell items, keep rearranging so it looks clean throughout. I promise you, its the little things that make a big difference. As the day progresses toward the end of day (especially the last hour), I tend to try to get rid of as much as possible so I’ll lower the prices at least half. I also remember at my last garage sale, this little old lady came by just when I started packing up. I let her pick out everything she wanted, I put it all in a bag for her, and when she asked how much it was, I told her just to take it. Little did you know, I am also a philanthropist, what can I tell you.

7. Yay. Its over. Now what? DO NOT TAKE ANYTHING BACK INTO YOUR HOUSE! PACK IT UP RIGHT THEN AND THERE, put it in the car, and drive to the nearest Salvation Army, Value Village, March of Dimes or any organization that will take it. You may need to arrange this ahead of time. If you were willing to sell it, then there is no reason to keep it. And on your way home pick up all the signs that you put out!

8. COUNT YOUR MOOLAH!!! WOOT WOOT!

AND REMEMBER –

THINGS YOU MUST HAVE:

  • Price stickers
  • Signage (bristol board, signs, permanent marker, heavy duty tape)
  • Bags – I can’t tell you how many people are thrilled to have the option of putting their goodies in a bag.
  • Money Belt (HOT!) for all your cash!
  • Helper – Don’t go it alone. You have to have someone with you in case nature calls (and by nature, I mean Starbucks)

SURPRISING THINGS THAT WILL SELL:

Honestly some of the things I put out that I thought I could never sell, were usually the first to go, and usually vice versa:

  • Beauty Products: I’ve bought hair products, shampoos, and similar items, that I wasn’t happy with and only used a bit of in the end. I put it all on a table, priced it up, made sure people knew which ones were brand new and which were used and they were gone first- couldn’t believe it.
  • Kids clothes sold easily. I had it all bundled and displayed by size and item. I sold nothing with stains or any kind of damage – no one wants that.
  • I had a sheet set that had pen marks on it. I put a large sticker on it, and made sure the seller would know it and it sold.
  • I had odd items, like single pillowcases or a scrabble game with a couple of tiles missing, and people still bought them.
  • Adult clothes, shoes and handbags do NOT sell, although coats always do.
  • Books, and movies sell well, as long as they are CHEAP. No one  is willing to pay alot for these items

There you have it – a foolproof way to make a ton of moolah on your next garage sale. I’m hoping I haven’t forgotten anything. Please let me know if you have additional suggestions that you can offer on garage sales. Also, would love to hear stories about experiences you’ve had selling your crap too!