Garagesale Guru’s Journal

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Stop eating!!!!

January 3rd, 2008 · No Comments

Sorry, was talking to myself. If I keep it up, I’m going to be too big to get in my car to hit the spring garagesales! Well, maybe not, but it sure feels like it right now.

I wonder if Mr. Guru would be up to heading south for warmer climes and Southern garagesales… nahh, that might be taking the obsession a bit TOO far. I’ll wait for spring. If we head south, I’m parking myself on a beach somewhere to thaw out.

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Happy New Year!

January 1st, 2008 · No Comments

Wow, 2008… time just seems to be zipping along faster and faster the older I get.

Bratling I is a teenager now, newly liberated from braces and pretty darn stunning (time to get that bat to fend of the boys) and Bratling II is a verbose and extremely precious 3 year old, who refuses to wear anything but princess gowns or ballerina tu-tus… Me? I’m just old. Well, I feel like it some days, let me tell you.

I’m waiting for spring to, well, spring again, so I can get out there and hit those early season garagesales once more. The winter feels like a hibernation of sorts, although not one I’ve chosen willingly!

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Clutter clutter, everywhere!

December 27th, 2007 · No Comments

Wow! Can I just rant a minute about how toys are packaged these days???

My little one, 3 years old, got a rude amount of Littlest Pet Shop (LPS) animals and play sets for Christmas this year. They’re very cute, and most of them are small and compact in opened state. But the boxes they came in - oh my GOD! Can I just tell you how much those clear elastics, tape, and plastic wrapped wires annoy the bejeebers out of me? In a reasonable world, it does not take 20 minutes to open a child’s small toy! Especially one that doesn’t require assembly! In that same reasonable world, it doesn’t require heavy kitchen scissors and a paring knife to remove the tiny plastic accoutrement from these finger slicing menaces. Who thought up this madness, anyway? Corporate marketing twits whose only objective is to make it impossible for parents to return these items to the store (if something happens to be broken or non-functional) since the required packaging must be destroyed in order to get it out! Sheer genius, of course, from a marketing standpoint, but as a parent I’m compelled to stick “evil” in there as well.

So it’s a couple of days past Christmas now, and the toys are starting to make their ways to the corners of the living room, bedrooms, etc. Unfortunately in my house, it means every room, but we don’t need to go there.

These evil boxes of LPS were the last to be tackled, and finally, bleeding from my many lacerations, I have finished removing the final bits of pink plastic from it’s impossible packaging. Now we’re finally removing the last remnants of crumpled paper, torn cardboard, wire tie downs, used up tape bits, and shiny clear plastic. A pile bigger than the gifts themselves, I might add. Recycle bins doth overflow. eth. Surely, in the spirit of making the world a better, cleaner, healthier place, we could make packaging less obnoxious? I challenge all environmentally concerned parents, individuals and companies to tackle and campaign for that in 2008.

Recycling falls into the spirit of the true Garagesaler, which is where I’m headed with this post (in case you were wondering…). Not only am I a Garaging Guru, but I’m also a winter Freecycler as well. In most cases you can find your town or city on freecycle.org to join and participate in when you’re not in a position (or climate, mood, etc.) to do the Garagesale thing. Yes I know - the Guru herself, advocating an alternative the the sacred Garagesale! What has the world come to?

Past getting rid of the packaging and wrapping, you must realize that a cluttered home serves to clutter the mind and distract you from living your ideal life. It’s very much along the lines of what Marla Cilley (AKA FlyLady) preaches on her crusading organizational website flylady.net. Worth visiting, by the way. The link will open in another window if you wanted to click it, so you can go read it once you’re done here.

Since we’re approaching a brand-spanking new year, right now would be a fabulous time to go through your home and gather up all the bits and pieces laying around everywhere that aren’t being used, aren’t appreciated anymore, or have been outgrown by your kids. Sort these items into boxes, and if you’re not in a climate that would work for a garagesale just now, and can afford to give things away, offer them up on Freecycle! The beauty of freecycle is that people will come to you and pick up the things you don’t want anymore. It’s a way to give and feel good about yourself, all while ridding your home and lives of the clutter that surrounds you. You’ll feel great knowing these things are going to people you choose, too. I try to choose folks who are in need, as opposed to the people who pounce on every offer just to get free stuff. Hard to tell sometimes, but if you enclose a note with your offer that stipulates you want the items to go to deserving families, and that you reserve the right to choose the recipient, you will find you get better responses and can go from there. For example, before Christmas as I was “decking the halls”, I realized that I had a large amount of holiday decorations that weren’t going to be put out, that I was tired of, or that I had replaced with newer and/or better items. So I gathered several boxes of still-good items and after posting to my local Freecycle group, chose a family who was having some financial difficulties as the recipient. They got some great stuff, and I felt really good about it. Plus I got several freed-up tote boxes and less clutter. Win-Win!

So I don’t have a one-track mind… who woulda thunk it?

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Holiday ramblings

December 25th, 2007 · No Comments

I was sitting here today, amid the usual holiday chaos of wrapping paper, gift bags, tissue paper and the like, thinking that Christmas is really just a retail holiday now. I realize that isn’t a new thought, or a new disappointment. It’s just something that I seem to mull over every year, vowing each time to change “next year”, and I never do.

Christmas… it should be more than people tearing into gifts and food that took weeks to search for, hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars to purchase, and countless hours to prepare.

It should be more than the end result of mere moments of self indulgence.

It should be a time for family, a prolonged and joyous time, where people don’t make “gimme lists” or constantly think about “what they’re getting”. Don’t get me wrong - there’s nothing better than a child being thrilled about a fabulous present under the tree, knowing you put that smile on their face. My own mother told me that one of our presents to her this year (a digital photo frame) was “bar none, the best gift she’d received this Christmas”, and she absolutely loves it. Definitely a gratifying response, and one I certainly appreciated.

Ok, so it did go well, everyone was spoiled and definitely well-fed. So why then, do I feel like something is missing?

Spoiled… is that the key word here? Christmas lists? Hrm. Am I feeling perhaps that all it really boils down to is the fact that people tell me what to buy them, and I go ahead and do it? Am I feeling that maybe the whole idea of this is that it’s simply WRONG? I think that must be it. It definitely grates on my nerves when someone hands me a list of things they want for Christmas. Generally I tend to ignore these lists, but sometimes it’s just easier to get them exactly what they want and be done with it. Bah, we really are spoiled!

My little daughter (Bratling II) did the “I want I want I want” thing, as any 3 year old is apt to do. And like every other normal parent on the planet, I ignored it for the most part and answered with “well maybe Santa will bring it, who knows”. Do you know what she remembered and dwelled on most of all though? The cheapest thing under the tree this year - a Little Mermaid Cell Phone. She talked about it constantly, and very seriously sat upon Santa’s knee during their visit and asked him only for that one item. I think it cost all of $3. That child, with all of her many other gifts, was so utterly thrilled when she opened that tiny package “from Santa”, and beheld that bit of purple plastic, it was a sight to see. Hrm. Perhaps not “truly” spoiled yet, my girl.

(You’ll remember that the title of this post has “ramblings” in it, so forgive me if I do just that.)

So I’m unhappy. Not miserable and depressed mind you, just not happy with how it all seems to end once the last bit of turkey is put away and the kids are in bed come Christmas night. Come and gone in the blink of an eye, it seems. I feel as though something has been lost, or ignored… skipped over… but I can’t quite put my finger on it.

I guess perhaps I’m unhappy that it seems to be just a child’s holiday, and for the rest of us, it’s only work and additional stresses (shopping, crowds, preparation, money…). I’m not big on crowds.

We have a small family - my brother and their 2 kids, our 2 kids, my parents and my one remaining 96 year old grandmother. Mr. Guru’s family is slightly larger, but far away on the East Coast. Maybe that isn’t a bad thing, since it all seems to boil down to money. If we had a huge family, we’d practically need to bankrupt ourselves each year to make sure one and all were spoiled! …there’s that word again.

Merry Retail Day? Visa Claus? O Holy… Presents, Batman? Bah! Humbug!

One year I’d like to skip it all - the crowds and the stress. Get the family all together and rent a remote cabin in the woods somewhere for a whole week. Build snowmen, have snowball fights, drink eggnog and hot chocolate, and get rosy cheeks and belly aches from laughing long and loud. Make ourselves remember what Christmas is really all about - celebration of family and reaffirming life and strengthening relationships. Oh, I know some of you are saying “um, hello…” but I’m not talking about Christmas as a religious holiday just now. For us it really is simply being together that matters (or should matter). But I think it would mean so much more if we were “really” together, without all the rest of the distractions and foolishness that Christmas has become. If we could take time and really connect, and bring cherished traditions to the forefront rather than presents and glitz, remove the “spoiled” and replace it with joy and contentment… now that would bring a smile to my face. That would build memories to last a lifetime.

One day…

May the joys of the holidays be yours. Have a happy and safe holiday season! Merry Christmas!

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San Jose Flash News Interview

December 16th, 2007 · No Comments

The California interview was interesting in that it went in a direction I never thought about before… shopping for Christmas gifts at garagesales!

The subject matter wasn’t my idea, and it certainly presented a bit of a challenge on how to best present my views on it without offending. I think it went well though.

So lets think about this then. In all honesty I think it’s a pretty tacky way to save some money, and doesn’t conform to my idea of why we go garaging.

On the other hand, if you were selective about it, you could certainly pick up some non-family type gifts by going that route. I see brand new, still-in-package items all the time at yard sales - so if you’re thinking in terms of the obligatory gifts one needs to purchase for the kids’ bus driver, the teacher, the paper boy, etc… is it really a bad idea? I don’t think so. I like the idea of picking up the odd hostess gift when the opportunity presents itself too - sometimes you can find some really marvelous items!

The recipients don’t need to know where they came from, after all. Call it a guilty secret… like that box of chocolate you ate all by yourself last Valentine’s Day ;)

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