Whew! I’ll tell you what- that was an adventure! And let me just say that I do NOT want to do it again any time soon- maybe in a few years. I’d definitely do it again, just not next year or anything (really, if KonMari sticks, I shouldn’t have enough stuff in the house TO do another one next year, but…kids and husband…).
Don’t get me wrong; it wasn’t a bad experience, it was just exhausting! To get into why, I’ll have to provide a little background- the Yard Sale Saga, if you will.
For one thing, we live in a townhouse. It’s basically a two-story, 1000-square-foot apartment, meaning we can’t have a garage sale at our home, and instead hosted it at my parents’, somewhat out in the boonies. They aren’t way off the beaten path; only about 10 minutes out of town and in a high-traffic area for passersby, but they are a full hour’s drive away from our home. Obstacle number 1- having to bring anything we want to sell to another location, along with the kids and all their accessories.
Obstacle #2: When we married, there was an unfortunate error in communication regarding the contents of my room at my parents’ house, and they basically boxed it up in its entirety and put it in the top of the shed. This meant I had to comb through everything I hadn’t taken to college with me- everything I owned in 2010 that hadn’t fit or wasn’t needed in my dorm, minus a few things that had made the migration into our newlywed nest already. Picture those large Rubbermaid-type totes- not the huge ones that fit a Christmas tree, but the standard big ones that fit a 3-year-old (ask me how I know…). Ok- there were 10 of them, plus a couple smaller ones of weird sizes, and that was just their place. Yeah…
Obstacle #3: I have a nearly-3-year-old and a 6-month-old. They can’t help, and they can’t keep themselves busy while the adults are doing sale-related things.
There were some other minor difficulties, but these were the largest of them. We (mostly I) had to sort through the stuff at home, pack it up to take to my parents’, plus all the trappings for the four of us to stay over for a week while I sorted my leftovers there and got things tagged. Babies don’t travel light, either!
We had our sale the weekend after the 4th of July, over a Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. The 4th was the Monday before, and we were away at Ryan’s parents’ for the festivities there. So I had Tuesday and Wednesday, really, to sort and tag. 12 boxes, plus two garbage bags full of toys, 2 of clothes, and an additional 3 boxes of stuff we’d brought over (over the course of a few drop-ins; no way did all of that fit in the Stratus!). And I did it…but (I’ll say it again)- whew!
And it was hot. 91 on two days of the sale and the Wednesday before. Ugh.
I’ll spare you all my rambling, though, and break this down into a couple short lists- what went well, and what I’ll do differently next time (or just wasn’t as great as I’d hoped).
What Was Good
- Signage. We used full-sized sheets of hot pink poster board for each sign and put them every block near the house- one to the south, one to the north, and one more an additional block north, since that was a major intersection and not too far out of the way for a garage sale stop. We also had a matching sign over the mailbox that just said “SALE” and had an arrow pointing at the house.
- Pricing. Most things were tagged, unless there was a large enough group of similar items. For example, I had a whole table of toddler/infant clothes that I just stuck a sign on for 50 cents apiece, and the same story for the two tubs of books and stuffed animals. Also, since my aim was to get rid of things rather than rake in top dollar, I didn’t have a whole lot priced over $1, unless I *knew* I could very easily sell it for more and it was worth my effort to do so, even if I had to sell it after the sale (a few formal dresses, the Bumbo seat, Magic: the Gathering cards, for example).
- Advertising. I got on Craigslist and local Facebook garage sale pages a week before and put up ads which featured the dates and times of the sale, a short list of highlights, and the clearance we were doing Saturday afternoon. Lots of the people that stopped mentioned seeing the ads!
- Letting the early birds flock. Friday, I had a lady come around 8:30, while I was still setting up (had to drag it all in the night before to dodge a storm), and had a pleasant conversation as we each went about our business, plus made $15 before we’d even opened.
- Staging. Putting like items together and taking some care with the arrangements. I had my table of toddler/infant clothes right next to the table half-covered in baby goods. The toys were at knee-level; still up off the ground, but in great sight of any kids. Put things that might sell each other nearby- like maternity clothes close to baby stuff, or curtains with decorative vases or bookends that look nice with them. Crafting books with crafting supplies rather than with the other books.
- The bundle sale. Not being afraid to make someone a deal on a pile of stuff, particularly on the last day and loud enough other shoppers notice, is a great way to move the merch. Let the entire remains of the kids’ clothes go for $15, sell a tub of toys for $10- just get it gone!
- Re-staging. Rearrange as you sell- get rid of tables if need be. Folks like the look of plenty, and 3 well-stocked tables look more interesting than 4 or 5 sparse ones.
What Was Not
- Weather. Not much to be done about this aside from holding the sale earlier in the season, really. Which I will- sale by June or no dice next time!
- Signage. By this, I mean the stakes. Initially, I’d had the idea to use a couple 1/4″ dowels, one at each side of the poster board, for staking them into the ground. This didn’t work, and instead of saving money (8 dowels at 57 cents each vs. 4 stakes at 2.79 each), we spent more, because we ended up breaking dowels and having to buy the stakes anyway. Fail.
- Saturday clearance. I really don’t know what happened here! We set out with the plan to do everything you can fit in a bag for $5 after 3pm Saturday- and then had no customers whatsoever after 3pm on Saturday! I’d even said that explicitly in all of my ads on Facebook and Craigslist AND on ALL OF THE SIGNS! What…?
- Afternoons. With the exception of one guy who dropped $20 at 5:30pm (we ran 9-6 every day) Friday, we rarely saw much traffic past 2pm, on any of the days. If we do this again, I’ll probably run Thursday 10-6, and then Friday and Saturday just 9-2, unless there are other sales in the area. Which brings me to…
- Flying solo. Since we had to do what we had to do with our sale, we couldn’t line it up with other sales in the area to feed each other traffic. We were the only ones Thursday, and didn’t even know there was one up the street for a bit Saturday.
- Change. This may sound odd, but we started with too much change. I’d figured $100 would give us a good mix- $10 in quarters, $30 in ones, $40 in fives, and a couple tens in case of larger bills like twenties (which we got quite a few of, but only on larger transactions, as it turns out). Looking back, we could have easily gotten away with $75 or maybe even $50 in change- $5 quarters, $15 or $20 in ones, and the rest in fives. Anything more would be able to be made from the day’s proceeds.
So that’s the rundown. I could go into more detail on a lot of it, and if you’ve got questions, feel free to ask! Overall, it was a lot of work, but we did make about $280 in 3 days, and when you consider most of the stuff was priced under $1, that’s nothing to sneeze at! I don’t doubt that we’d have made a whole lot more if we’d had this during my KonMari festival, or if I’d been able to hold on to everything I was discarding at the time. I sent a lot of good stuff off to the thrift stores 9 months ago!
And, really, with growing kids and a growing family and all the stuff that comes with it, I’ll be doing this again someday. So help me out- what’s the best idea you’ve ever seen at a garage sale?
I know I’m about a year late to the party on this one, but in my Pinterest adventures, I recently stumbled upon the KonMari method of tidying up, and Oh. My. Gosh.
It’s a self-titled method by Marie Kondo, a Japanese decluttering expert (I think we call them professional organizers here, for the most part), and is detailed in her book- The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.
After reading about people’s experiences and the gist of the method across the internet, I was inspired. And I don’t just mean the sort of inspired that causes a person to speed-clean the kitchen and re-sort a bookshelf or two; I mean the lightning strikes sort of inspired. What I’d read and what I’d seen just clicked with me on a deep level, like it’s what I’ve always believed and felt about cleaning and organizing and I just needed someone to point it out to me. I ordered the book for my birthday present and have been devouring the contents since it arrived Friday. The basic breakdown- discard everything, and decide what to keep by whether it brings you joy -is remarkably simple, but utterly unique in the organizing world.
Marie doesn’t want you to sort your stuff and hide its overabundance behind fancy storage systems and organizational gizmos- she wants you to, one object at a time, thoroughly examine your possessions and find what truly adds to your life and be rid of the rest of it. She prescribes an order to working through each and every thing a person owns and, after you have decided what you truly want in your life, methods for storing it.
There are two major things that this book and method have confirmed for me:
- We have enough space; just too much stuff.
- Most of our stuff is just weighing us down.
She says in her books that her clients she has worked through the KonMari method usually end up with a quarter to a third of the possessions they had at the beginning, and not one has ever regressed into their previously cluttered state afterwards. This sounds incredible, but it makes sense- especially, as she also points out, few people actually realize the scope of what they own. Part of her method is proceeding by category rather than space- all the clothes at once, followed by all the books -and taking everything in the category from every place it is found into one space for decision-making. This shows you how many of something you actually own, bringing the excess to your attention.
The part that I find truly unique (as I mentioned above) is the idea that, when you gather everything up, it is to discard all of it. Your base assumption is that you are throwing (or donating, or selling, if you will realistically take the time and effort to do so in a timely manner) away everything. Yes, everything. Your sorting through is not to decide what to toss, as is the usual prescription (as in, toss anything you haven’t worn/used in a year, anything that’s a duplicate, etc), but on what to keep. It seems trivial, but in changing the mindset of de-cluttering, it really changes the process and the outcome. Joy is your measuring stick- not “Oh, but I only wore it once” or “_____ gave this to me, I can’t get rid of it!” guilt or nostalgia, but true and honest enjoyment of the item in question.
I am excited to get started- I’ve already been doing some preliminary discarding and re-sorting (on clothes, where I am between my “regular” wardrobe and my maternity wear), and some of the areas in my 40 Days of Cleaning project, but I am raring to go on giving our things the full KonMari treatment! I really think this is something that is going to work for us, and that feels great!
Do you know how I know it’s going to work? Because I am excited about the books step. Yes- this dedicated, book-hoarding bibliophile is excited to get rid of books. You read that right. There’s zero trepidation involved here; only drive and excitement, and already I want to buy my hoarding family members copies of her book!
Wish me luck- I’m more than likely going to start in on it tomorrow!
I’ve been mulling over the idea of a weekly cleaning schedule for a bit (thanks, Pinterest- you’re a bad influence :p ) and in a test run, I think this is what will work out best for us (me) right now.
Monday: vacuum and sweep
All of these will still get spot-checks, of course- like cleaning up after dinner in the kitchen and general toy/book pickup throughout the week, but the idea of giving a space a specific day is that it gives me focus to really get on that area- making sure my ducks are in a row, so to speak, and helping me avoid the ADD that plagues my cleaning. Well, not so much my ADD as the motherhood-induced ADD; you know, the start something –> toddler needs you –>somebody calls –> toddler fell and needs a hug –> it’s naptime already –> wait, I should eat something –> …what was I doing?. Yeah…that’s how I go up to bed at night, only to find that all the stuff I’d put on the bed in the midst of cleaning/reorganizing something is still on the bed- and then it ends up in its own pile that then makes something else that needs attention. Urgh.
Anyway…so this is what I was thinking with that list…
Laundry is pretty much already on Tuesday and Saturday, except for diaper laundry, which falls in wherever it’s needed, though I could probably schedule that, too.
I like the idea of vacuuming/sweeping on Monday to start the week off on a clean slate- since these activities include picking up the floors.
Sundays Ryan is home and I can get his help on the bathrooms (especially since my baby belly gets in the way of me doing the shower/tub these days, and the toilets are his job).
The rest are honestly kind of random picks- just an area to a day, keeping things in order and my focus from drifting.
Today, however, downstairs is sharing its spotlight with packing up and doing a quick tidy everywhere (except the kitchen, which I did yesterday. On schedule- heck yeah!), because at bedtime tonight, we will be on our way to Georgia for the wedding of the best man at ours. I love adventures- especially ones where I’m not driving!
Part of wanting to do with fewer clothes is making the ones you keep last. And, I have to admit- I’m not all that good at it. Sure, I can physically hold on to a shirt for a decade, but that doesn’t mean it’s still in good shape…
I’ll be honest- I’ve lost track of my 40 Days of Cleaning project…these first couple weeks back to school have been a little disorienting for us. Trying to establish a routine with a cranky toddler that misses her daddy is no joke.
It wouldn’t be hard to regather and take stock; it’s just counting, after all. But right now all I know is I’m behind by at least 2 days, so today (and probably the next few, too), I’ve got to try and knock out one bigger task and one 5-minute wonder. The pick so far is trash cans and the front closet…but I’m realizing as I type that the front closet is actually going to require the husband’s cooperation. He’s got coats up the wazoo, and I know he only wears like two of them. Admittedly, in this particular realm, I’m just as guilty- but my extras have been boxed up for more than a year now, so I have full confidence that I can and will live without them. So maybe that particular task will have to wait for the weekend.
The weekend, actually, is part of what’s put me behind. I’ve been too quick to say “yes” to running around town Saturday instead of staying home and taking advantage of an extra pair of hands with Moonbaby to get things accomplished. But not this week- this Saturday is mine!
But anyway…back to work! Have the trashcans done already- though this particular item on the list I’m going to dub “Least Likely to be Noticed,” since I’m probably the only one that was even slightly bothered by the spots and stickiness gathering on the kitchen trash can. That’s alright- it’s shiny and non-smelly now, so I’m happy, and I can cross it off the list!
Day 7 of my 40 Days of Cleaning and I’ve got 7 things done- and I haven’t even done one today yet. Maybe I put too many little things on there after all…we’ll see.
I’ll admit to a little cheating upstairs, though. See, I had the dresser, bookshelf, and dressing table (also known as the “crap collector” for that room) as separate items, but as I started working on the table, I realized that the three of them are really sort of part of the same system. To really clean one up, I had to at least putter around the other two. So I focused in on the dressing table and bookshelf and spread the work over the last two days. I’m pretty pleased with the result, there. I didn’t take any “before” photos because it was seriously just a mess and I was rather embarrassed about some of the stuff sitting around.
But here’s my afters:
I know there’s a pile of clothes still hanging out on the lower shelf of the bookshelf- it’s temporary. Those are all my fall/winter maternity tops waiting for their chance in the closet. Once they move, I’ll have open space on that shelf that I’m sure I’ll relocate something to somewhere in the next 33 days. This particular bookshelf really just needed a dusting and tidying- I think I only relocated one item off of it, and that was to stash a pile of mostly sentimental papers (cards and the like) in my nightstand.
The dressing table, however, is really rather a fabulous transformation. That red/wicker basket you see on the bookshelf there used to occupy the space of the photo frame (which will be filled shortly), and it was just a crap magnet. It’s still kind of a miscellaneous bin; but it’s in a closed area and more manageable now- plus, 95% of the stuff in it is the husband’s, so…I kind of can’t purge it myself in good conscience. Between the existing bin of miscellany and the position right by the door, this table caught whatever sundry items needed depositing when we came upstairs, and it was driving me crazy. I’d much rather have the space clear, with minimal occupied surface area.
The thought behind keeping the table as clear as possible (the drawer’s even empty- the contents found a new, tidier, and more toddler-proof home in a bin on the dresser) is that it will give me a surface on which to work on sewing projects when I get the chance. I’ll still have to either keep Moonbaby clear or clean up after each session, but at least now I have a place to set up without hauling the machine downstairs and trying to find space on the dining room table. I’d like to find a small stool, or maybe a folding chair, for me to use there and tuck into the corner when it’s not needed.
I also went after the closet tubs on a previous day, and honestly, it was less satisfying than I’d hoped. I was really hoping to ditch a tub or two, but no such luck. If I could find a better storage solution for my few other purses (seriously, like 3- and I don’t change purses often enough to justify having them more easily accessible), I could definitely get rid of one. This is what the tub zone of our closet looks like- there’s only one photo because it didn’t change any (%*$@#!):
It’s not necessarily a LOT of the closet- it just looks cluttered to me. Maybe if they all matched, I’d feel better about it. The top green one holds seasonal decorative items (Christmas, mostly) and some general decorative bits I don’t have anywhere safe to put right now but can’t bear to part with, like my collection of boxes, which I would LOVE to put on display. The red one underneath is blankets- extras for our bed or guests. One blue tote is extra purses (and formerly neckties, which I once needed for work but then ditched), and the other is stuffed animals of mine that I’m holding for the kids. To the far right you can somewhat see my crafting tote- all my little bits like beads and wire, ribbon, a few paints, some patterns, and my interchangeable needle sets. The back left corner has a couple boxes of household stuff we don’t need right now because it’s duplicates of what our roommate has.
I went through each of the tubs (but not the corner boxes) and ditched what I could from each and re-packed them in the hope I might be able to downsize something, but no dice. Ah well- you win some, you lose some. At least I did manage to part with some things from the green bin that, really, I wasn’t all that attached to anymore. So that’s a plus, right?
I am going to have to make a Goodwill run in the next few days- my “get out” stack is getting a bit out of hand now!
As long as I can remember, fall has felt very academic to me, even when I haven’t been headed to school myself. It’s a season that demands a slowing down to not only enjoy the changing colors and the cooling weather (and I can’t get enough of the smell of fall, personally), but to find new lessons.
Since I’ve been out of school, this has taken its form in the urge to learn something new or to deepen and expand my knowledge of something already familiar. I mean, that’s basically what you’re doing in a formal education anyway, but outside of a structured educational system, it means I’m free to choose whatever I please- provided I have the means.
This time, I’m not really sure where I want to go. It would be a fantastic time to work on my photography; get more familiar with my camera. Or do more baking- maybe actually nail down a habit of bread-making and stop buying loaves at the store. Maybe take the opportunity of having pitched all (yes, ALL!) my previous stash of makeup and learn to apply it more skillfully. Or perhaps it’s really time to get friendly with my sewing machine- I do have the fantastic excuse of an incoming baby to sew tiny things for, and tiny things don’t need much material or time, right? So many good options.
Of course, whatever I choose is going to have to also fit around my in-progress 40 Days of Cleaning. I’m making progress and keeping up, but I don’t want to slow down or pause it for my new activity. So nothing I’d need to exclusively use naptime for.
Day 2 of my 40 Days of Cleaning adventure and we’re on track (and will even be a little ahead, but I’ll get to that). I knocked out the bathroom cabinets yesterday, and did the tea cupboard today, tossing more than I’d thought out of each and completely neglecting to take pictures of anything. Ah well…I’ll do better.
Just like I’m trying to do better about getting back to my original goal of 3 posts per week to this thing. I miss writing, and I notice a great difference in my overall mood, patience, and drive when I make time for it.
Since I noticed some of the things I tossed in these two days were kit essentials, so to speak, I’ve been making a shopping list as I go along. While some items I’d rather replace ASAP, like the children’s ibuprofen and Tums (which my pregnant bum has sorely missed since we ran out- swear to you, with all the heartburn, I’m having a Wookie!), some of it I know can wait and I’ve started watching ads and seeking coupons to make my replacements as inexpensive as possible.
One such place is my makeup stash, which will be meeting its doom as soon as I finish this post. (This is the part that puts me technically slightly ahead, as it’s part of the dresser cleanup!) Now, some of you reading this are probably saying “Makeup? She owns makeup?” Yes, yes I do- I just don’t use it often. Once in a while if I just want the fun of some eyeshadow and mascara, or if we’re going out, like to that wedding last August and the one we’re headed to Georgia for this October. It’s actually rather extensive in the eye and lip departments, mostly due to the fact that I was a mark. representative, which is like a junior branch of Avon.
The obvious side effect of not using much very often is that, well, most of it really needs to go. While I did have the sense to have a good collection of neutral, suitable for every-day wear colors, I think the last time I bought a lipstick or gloss was probably 2011. Well past the advised expiration date of about a year. Shoot, the newest piece of the stash is my mascara, and that I’m pretty sure I bought in 2014, but I’m not entirely sure.
Now, I’m not prepared to completely ditch having a stash- like I said, I do occasionally find use for it -but I definitely don’t need to replace the entire thing. That would be ridiculous, both in terms of cash output and storage. But I’ll want new foundation, maybe 2-3 eyeshadows, mascara, and a lipcolor or two. Maybe some pressed powder and concealer, but I really shouldn’t own more than 10 pieces, seeing how little I use anything. The options for all of that have seriously expanded even just in the 4 years since I bought lipstick, so I’m going to have to do some research and read some reviews before I commit to anything, especially since I’m looking at more of a drugstore price range than department store. I don’t want anything to cost me more than $10- especially if it’s a tiny container! I need bang for the buck here, as with everything else. Makeup can be very much like toilet paper- the cheap stuff just costs you more in the long run and you can totally tell the difference when you use it.
Anyway…enough chatter- off to do some cleaning and purging (and photo-taking!) before naptime gets away from me!
I’ve been having the nesting urge lately, and since we don’t really need to acquire hardly anything for this baby, it’s expressing itself in a need to reorganize and take inventory. In my Pinterest wanderings, I came across a couple blogs along the lines of “40 Bags in 40 Days,” about making a list of 40 places in your nest that need some attention. The original post’s intent was to get rid of 40 bags of stuff, one from each area, but that’s not necessarily where this is headed. The posts inspired me to make my own list of places that need cleaning and/or reorganizing, and I’m pretty pleased with the result:
It’s a decent list (though a terrible photo taken with my phone- I got lazy and didn’t want to type it), I think. I broke down some tasks into multiple points so that I’d have some things that clocked in at half an hour or less of work, since some of them will be larger projects (the closets and clothes, for example). The first 20-ish things were easy, I struggled getting to 30, and had to reach deep for the last three on the list.
I like the idea of this “X Days to Clean” list, because it’s not necessarily a chronological list- you just pick one thing every day to tackle, and if you want and have time, you can do another. Granted, some things on my list should be done in a certain order- I should do my clothes purge before reorganizing the dresser and closet, for example -but overall, I can take on what feels like a good fit for how I’m feeling that day and what sort of time I know I can squeeze out.
I haven’t decided what I’m doing today yet. Probably one of the quick n’ easy ones like the bathroom cabinets (they’re so small there’s not much chance to get over-stuffed or disorganized), since we have rather a lot going on this afternoon/evening. After that, though, I’m going to do my best to knock out the larger projects while Ryan is still off school. Just makes it more efficient and focused if I’m not also wrangling a toddler while trying to sort out a closet, you know?
And at the end of it, I hope to have several nice bags of things to go down to St. Vincent’s. Which, I suppose will be item #41: GET IT OUT! Some drop-offs will occur as I go, as collection zones for things supposed to leave the house are part of the problem- I have a big blue tub of clothes I don’t want in the trunk of the car that will go as part of the Pontiac item on the list, but in the name of saving gas and time, I’d rather make a couple larger drops than a grocery bag here and a stack of books there.
By the end of this list, if I keep to it, we’ll be at about 90 days to baby #2, so I’ll have time to get in another round if I’d like (or feel the need) to further indulge the nesting instinct!
Everyone’s heard it: “When life gives you lemons…” (and all its cheeky cousins). We seem to be in a lemon-flavored week here at the Starski house- two cars into the shop within a day of each other, one we’re still waiting to hear back on and one that was in such bad shape that the repair guy called back and told us he couldn’t, in good conscience, fix it, because the car was just not worth the sorts of repairs it needed.
Upside to that is that we’ve found a repair shop we know we can trust (thanks to the recommendation of Ryan’s Grand Knight on that one!). And, well, we rather disliked that vehicle anyway. Definite downside? We’re car-shopping again, less than a year since acquiring the other car that’s also in the shop, and we’re doing so without easy transportation.
But, as my aunt said, it is good timing in many ways. The weather is still warm, I’m only 21 weeks pregnant, and Ryan is still off school and work for the summer. We don’t live in the middle of nowhere- it is approximately a 20-minute walk to our nearest strip of stores, including Meijer, and while our particular bus stop may be inconvenient, we do still have an expansive bus system to use. Which is, thanks to his student status, free for Ryan to ride. It is much better that this happen now rather than, say, a month or two into the future, when the weather has turned cold and I’m much further along (and much larger), or even further into the winter when I may be in labor at any moment. Sure, we had to cancel a couple appointments, a family visit, and a long-awaited reunion with friends for me, and those things are all disappointing, but very much like this baby’s due date falling during the winter break for Western, it is well-timed, all things considered.
If nothing else, it gives us more motivation and fewer excuses against cleaning this place up. We still have boxes hanging out from when we moved in…last September…hrm…