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Organizing Your Kid’s Costumes – it is possible! Repurposing a Bookshelf

17 Feb

Regardless if you find yourself a parent to either an aspiring princess or superhero — you will one day find yourself standing above a pile of costumes, masks, hats and accessories (pirate sword anyone? Rapunzel wig?). ¬†We’ve tried different iterations on how to deal with this – but I just HAD TO share this ingenious way a friend of mine (bluejeaner on Twitter) repurposed her shelf (on the cheap too!) .

Shelving on the left is the way both sides used to look.

The best thing about this in my opinion is that the shelf can be re-converted back into a bookshelf after the kids outgrow their costume phase!

Remove top two shelves (she left the bottom shelf in for shoes) use a tension rod and hang curtain hooks – voila! The genius is in the simplicity.

We haven’t tried this yet, but I’m eyeing our tall book-case to convert into something like this pretty soon ūüôā Here is another angle–

A quick hang and you're set!

Hmmm… thinking this might also work well in a mudroom or entryway…

Do you have any interesting way you organize your kid’s costumes or clothing?

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Craigslist Selling Tips

26 Jan
Craigslist

Hmmm... now what??!!!

I would like to think that I’m a pro at selling things on Craigslist after having done it for some 4-5 years now – but in truth I’m constantly learning new things. One thing I’ve learned after having done it in two cities is that every area probably has its idiosyncracies, but there are several general ‘truths’ which still prevail —
  1. Timing¬†– ie.¬†selling outdoor toys in winter time – especially in cold or colder areas is not a good idea – although there may be (lucky) cases where someone is looking for outdoor toys for indoor use (like a slide). ¬†Same goes for winter coats in the summer, etc. If you can’t wait, you might need to take a steeper cut on your sales price, otherwise- waiting till the season or timing is better might be a good idea.
  2. Competition/Pricing –¬†Always, always, always check out the competition and price correctly for your market and the condition of your item. ¬†Search for your item on Craigslist and see how many are being sold, what condition and model/age and at what price. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve seen multiple listings where people have clearly not done their homework. It does not matter if you bought your item full price – if someone else ¬†has the same item in similar shape ¬†and you price ‘over’¬†them –¬†you technically just helped them clinch a sale.
  3. Include a Link –¬†If the item is available in stores, include a link to the retailer so your potential purchasers can view the specs on the item and see¬†retail price.
  4. Add a photo of the item and fully disclose any wear and tear – it might not be a deal breaker to you, but it might be for your potential buyer. I don’t know about you, but as a frequent buyer myself- I don’t even bother looking at ads without photos.
  5. Respond in a timely manner –¬†if you are busy or are anticipating to be busy, don’t post your sale, just like any business you need to be responsive to your potential buyers. ¬†Even if you feel you have a buyer coming to buy the item already you should still be responsive to others, because there have been numerous occasions where a “sure” buyer dropped out and I was glad I still was able to contact the others who were interested.
  6. Take advantage of the situation –¬†I mean this in a good way — not in a ‘hijack the buyer’ sort of way – I mostly sell kids items and have found that people who come interested in buying an item might also want to ‘look around’ and buy more, so I usually have the other items I have for sale also semi-displayed on the side. ¬†I don’t even have to do a hard sell at all – it’s there, if they want to look they can, and most of the time that’s how I get rid of ¬†smaller items like toys.
  7. Think outside the box in terms of pick up areas – I’ve done it during my lunch break at my work parking lot, at a gas station (someone was on their way to their son’s soccer practice), I think you get the point. Honestly some buyers are also leery now of going to someones house – so it’s always good to be flexible.

Hope this helps — there is nothing like the feeling of unloading something you no longer need to someone who does. ¬†Good luck on your next sale! ¬†Check out my other Craigslist blog posts and please leave a comment to tell me how your Craigslist sales go!

So What Sort of Kid Stuff Really Sells on Craigslist?

12 Jan
Image representing Craigslist as depicted in C...

Image via CrunchBase

We have a LOT of kids stuff. ¬†I’m almost embarrassed to say – probably 90% of what we sell on Craigslist is kid stuff. We’re lucky that Craigslist is such a good marketplace for kids stuff and has worked pretty well for us over all. ¬†We tried looking into doing one of those consignment events and found the amount of work, not to mention the cut they get – not to be worth our time and effort. ¬†Yes, you could probably sell your kitchen sink on Craigslist, it is just that no one might buy it. ¬†Same thing goes for certain type of kid’s stuff. ¬†I’m not saying its impossible, but after trying to sell numerous items through the years, I’ve come to a number of semi-conclusions and unofficially coined the phrase “Declutter for Ca$h!”

  1. Clothing is touch and go… depending on how you market it – a no-photo rough ad about ‘2T clothes for sale’ will not get you anywhere. ¬†Individually selling clothing is not quite worth your time either (IMHO) what has worked for me is taking group photos of the bunch for sale and selling it all for one price – list brands, sizes, and be honest about any wear and tear. ¬†On the positive side, if successful – you probably will get more money selling clothing this way rather than selling them either at a consignment shop or at a ‘Just Between Friends’ ¬†type of event. ¬†Shoes are another thing that I think some people are leery of paying a good price to get second-hand – ALTHOUGH an exception might be girl’s tap shoes.
  2. Maternity Clothes Рyep, you can try to sell this as a package deal.  Worked for one of our friends and she unloaded all her maternity clothes in good condition for a flat $125!
  3. Infant ‘Essentials’¬†i.e. high chair, stroller, pack n’ play, etc.– ¬†if a decent brand

    Our old Play Area/Gate-- useful, cute, and sturdy makes for a quick sell ūüôā

    (Graco, Britax etc.) will usually sell well. ¬†PLEASE take a good photo and try to clean the item beforehand. If it doesn’t sell immediately – patience – wait a couple of weeks and re-post. Having moved to Tulsa we found that ‘trendier’ items may not sell as well here compared to a major city – things like a Stokke chair, or a Learning Tower might sell pretty fast in Chicago, but not as quickly in a smaller city.

  4. Toys¬†– is another touch and go category — ‘classics’ such as train tables and train sets, climbers, ride-ons, usually do well depending on wear and tear. ¬†Smaller pieces or toys with lots of pieces (ie. fisher price doll houses, etc.) maybe not as much. ¬†We found that ‘large’ toys do pretty well (climbers, slides etc.). ¬†We are on the fence when it

    I posted this art table twice before I got a sale. I love Step 2 or Little Tikes stuff- they always clean up real well and look brand new in a jif!

    comes to bundling vs. individual selling of toys – just like much of Craigslist it really depends on luck and the decision would fall more on you to decide whether you want to bother selling your toys piece meal or in one go.

Hopefully this helps you look at your ‘stuff’ differently – we certainly do. ¬†I know there are certain items I’m itching to sell but my wife is still adamant about keeping (indoor trampoline anyone? kid’s bookshelf?). ¬†At the end of the day Craigslist satisfies a lot of our needs, the need to declutter, the need to have a little extra cash, and the need to recycle – win win all around in my opinion. Happy Selling!

Itching to sell this train table someday ūüôā We actually got this off of Craigslist for quite a steal.

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Organizing the Arts and Craft Area – Voila! Part 2

27 Oct

It always surprises us how BAD things get when you are in the process of organizing anything.¬† The mounds of clutter, the piles of things that needs to be thrown or given away.¬† Ugh!¬† And doing this with a toddler who wants in on any activity didn’t make it any easier.

OK, I’m done with the whining. :0)

What really helped was knowing that our 5-year-old would end up having a creative and most importantly ‘functional’ space for herself.¬† We wanted a space that would be easy to clean up because it wasn’t so cluttered and unorganized. ¬†Here are some things we had to think about when we were planning out the space:

  • What does she enjoy doing there? (For her it was, writing in her journal, drawing, coloring, crafts, making cards)
  • What items needs to be easily accessible to her (ie. her coloring books, crayons, etc.) and what shouldn’t be (ie. glue gun, beads etc.)?
  • What doesn’t belong there, and why does it keep on showing up there? (toys, hats, coats, sunblock, etc.) and how do we address that?
  • How do we label the different aspects of the space where it would be easily understandable by a 5-year-old?

After the initial mess of piling everything into groups and weeding out what doesn’t need to be there, we were surprised to see that we do have space!¬† Here are a couple of organizing materials that really helped.¬† I have to admit this was our THIRD time trying to make sense of this space.¬† So I think these things really helped make this time matter.

Labeler

Our new Labeler!

We were lucky to be able to participate in the Brother P-touch program.¬† We never had a labeler, I looked into buying one eons ago, but never got around to actually purchasing one (life happens).¬† My experience with labelers were those dymo things when I was a teenager and it was never easy to use¬†and I don’t think I ever really used that to organize anything either.¬† Lately we’ve been pathetically using post-it notes and white sticker labels that you hand write on – I found one on the floor a couple of weeks ago and it took me a while to figure out where it goes!¬† Some things that surprised me (as a novice labeler):

– It’s actually was quite easy to print out the labels – in the midst of organizing the space I really didn’t want ANYTHING that needed a learning curve.¬† It was VERY straight-forward.¬† In fact even inserting the label tape/ink cartridge was idiot proof with a drawing of the cartridge etched into the spot!

– The labels aren’t permanently welded in place after sticking them on.¬† After a couple of weeks I was still able to move one label from one spot to the other – it was on plastic though, but still it transferred well and re-stuck well.

– You can’t beat how NEAT labels look compared to hand-written post its (yeah, I know… duh)

– The designs available were easy to use too – I used a plain rounded edged rectangle for most of my labels, while for my boxes and storage containers I used something that looked like a clipboard.

The way I organized our space – things Julia has access to in the bottom shelves, and more ‘storage’ items on the top shelves. ¬†I placed items first prior to affixing the labels in order to get a feel for where they are.

Arts and Crafts Double Tower 

(sfx: Angels singing) Our New Storage Tower! All labeled up and ready to go...

After going through multiple iterations of storage choices – ie. boxes, baskets, drawer units – We realized that having multiple places to put things just leads to more clutter and not much organization. ¬†By pure fluke we happened upon our local education/school supplies store’s back to school sale and found exactly what we needed! ¬†At first 20 drawers felt like a lot, but in reality it was just enough so that everything literally has a place and isn’t cluttered into one big drawer or container.

So now, scissors has a drawer of its own, so does tape, colored pencils, and markers Рjust to name a few, but you get my point.  I also decided against going alphabetical, since this was to be used daily by my 5-year-old.  I opted to go from most used (colored pencils, stamps, scissors, tape, markers) on the top half and less used on the bottom (pipe cleaners, glitter glue, pom poms, etc).

The final result is below!  I have resigned myself to the fact that an area filled with all these minute items will never truly look pristine.  But at the very least it is now functional, and best of all Рeverything has its place now. :o)

Re-positioned the table, made a new tabletop cover, reorganized everything and Voila! the new space!

One last tip — I found this plastic cloth-by-the-yard at Michaels that really helped make the table more interesting ¬†and like-new again – ¬†we simply ¬†taped it to the bottom of the table (much like when gift wrapping) and tucked some colorful tissue in between for color.

We aren’t exactly poster children of organizing, but there are two things that make us go through the rigors of organizing

— We seem to love our stuff ¬†and with two kids there never seems to be an end to the amount of stuff we have all over the place. ¬†With stuff accumulation comes the burden of organizing the stuff!

— We want our kids to live in an environment where they can actually have fun, relax, learn, and be kids – without the clutter, junk and mess.

— With the daily grind of life, things are hectic enough without the stress of trying to find something every hour or so. ¬†(Where are those pair of scissors? ¬†Where is that little empty drawstring bag? ¬†I swear I have a jar of googly eyes somewhere!)

— And with the ability of finding something and knowing where things should be, comes the $$ savings from not having to go out and buy more thinking that you’re out. ¬†(I wasn’t REALLY trying to accumulate 5 bottles of Elmer’s glue!)

Hope this helps somewhat ūüôā ¬†If you have any organizational tips please do share by leaving a comment on this blog post – would love to hear your tips!!!

Disclaimer

I wrote this review while participating in a campaign by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of Brother P-Touch and received a product and gift card to facilitate my review and a promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate.

Reorganizing Our Arts and Craft Area (Heaven Help Us) Part 1

24 Oct

Gets worse, before it gets better - Making Piles

SO… as usual our lives take over, our schedules go hay-wire and the first to suffer is our (seemingly) nicely organized art area. Primarily it’s because it is right by where we enter the house from our attached garage, so everything we are holding as we enter gets dumped there, likewise, as we leave the house everything the kids are holding gets dumped there as well. Our intention for this area was for our older daughter Julia to have an arts and craft area to herself (emphasis on herself) where she can write in her journal, draw, color, etc. without us worrying about Stella (22 months of energy) getting in her way.

The Dreaded

We started with really thinking through what needs to be in the area – her art supplies, craft supplies, her artwork, and if there is room, a small cubby for her ‘going out and keeping busy’ items – crayons, coloring books, note pads, markers, her Leapster, etc.

What to get rid of – ahhh executive decisions!

1. Incomplete (ie. unusable) craft kits

2. Glue/markers – anything that have lost their caps and WILL DRY OUT

3. Semi-dried out play doh — ugh

4. Sentimental half done crafts or ‘Art’

We then sorted everything into piles. Our piles:

– craft items – subdivided into complete kits (ie shrinky dinks, magnet sets, etc.) and craft ‘ingredients’ – ie. eyes, puff-ball thingies, pipe cleaners, stickers, etc.

– art items – brushes, paint, fabric paint, glitter glue, finger paint

– paper differing sizes and color

– toys (yeah they got in here)

– take out/car trip arts and crafts (small boxes of crayons, small tubs of playdoh, etc.)

– one tote for our 22 month old’s stuff…

We emptied out EVERYTHING! All our little drawers and pen holders – in short, things we thought would help us keep organized but didn’t. We ended up with (believe it or not) FIVE different empty organizational containers that we didn’t need anyway.

I am embarrassed to say, it took us about two weeks to do everything, so yes, we lived in our mess for a while. With two active girls to feed, clothe, bath, read, play, etc., our time is limited and honestly letting them ‘help’ is NO help ūüôā

The grand unveiling of how it all turns out is in the next post… Stay tuned!!!

Let Your Child Declutter Their Artwork – You May Be Surprised!

16 Aug

I’ve written a couple posts on “what to do with your child‘s artwork.”¬† We had artwork coming out of our ears not to forget ¬†crafts of all sizes, shapes and colors.¬† Although I would like to think that in the area of sentimentality, we rate ourselves on the more average scale,¬†this summer my wife and I discovered that our five year-old daughter, Julia, is actually less attached to her “master-pieces” than we are!

We are big believers in getting the child involved in household chores, some decisions, etc., so when it came time to sort through the pile of artwork that accumulated in¬†a box¬†and around her art area, we had Julia decide what to keep in¬†her “memory box” and what to place in the recycle bin.¬† We were amazed at how casually she¬†kept saying “toss it” or “recycle.”¬† My wife admitted¬†herself that¬†she would have kept about 50%¬†of the pieces whereas Julia only said “keep” to less than 10%!¬† This made us realize that for kids (Julia is 5), their attachment to their art is¬†really the “process” of creating and perhaps the admiring of the latest piece for a day or week.¬† After that, they have totally moved on to the next project/activity!¬† We are glad we got her started in this process early rather than later.

Our daughter's now semi-empty art window - ready for the new school year!

So, we still initially held on to “mom & dad’s” favorite pieces to be photographed, etc.¬† But only Julia’s selections will go into her memory box (actually, more like a big tote as it gets filled with certificates, ticket stubs, playbills, etc.).

Lessons learned:

  1. Children may not be as attached to their art work as parents think they are, especially as time passes and new creations/techniques are mastered.
  2. Your child may be better, much better, at de-cluttering that pile of artwork and letting go then dear old mom and dad!
  3. By starting them earlier rather than later, you might be able to foster better habits of ‘letting go’ than if you wait till they are older.

Of course, now due to Julia’s diligence in getting rid of almost everything – ¬†my wife has started her own memory box.¬† Some things won’t change ;0)

Happy organizing!

Are YOU ready for school? Getting Organized before school starts

12 Aug

Here we are again! The couple of weeks before school starts (at least for us here in Oklahoma). Where has the time gone?!  Here are some of what we did this summer to prepare for the new school year:

  1. Get all school forms filled out and ready to go, lists ready to check off.
  2. Clean out study and/or art areas, out with the old in with the new!
  3. Sorting through closets and dressers Рsome things have been outgrown, some have seen their last days.  Donate, sell or store away for younger siblings.
  4. Check out open houses for extra-curricular activities ¬†– ballet, soccer, art, music – if you’re not sure what your child would be interested in, this would be a good opportunity to check out the facility, classes and teachers.¬† Be sure to ask to attend a trial class/session at no charge!
  5. Getting ready for me usually mentally starts around the tax-free weekend–¬†chances are your State has one.¬† Although you can always buy online and possibly save on sales tax, but nothing beats being able to try on clothes and check things out first hand.¬† Stores have become more savvy and offer sales around the same time too.
  6. Get your own desk ready, take out all old school year information and paperwork – get ready for the new stuff!
  7. Plan some playdates with school mates – get them excited to see their friends and start school!

Usually at this time my wife then starts to weep internally thinking about¬†our daughter growing up ūüėČ

It’s also important to make sure your child is mentally ready for school – Kid’s Health has a good post with tips on how to walk your child through back-to-school anxiety in their post called Going Back to School¬†.¬† The article does talk more to the student rather than to the parent – making it perfect for middle-schoolers, but I like that I still get an idea of what might be going through my daughter’s mind as school approaches.

If you are like us, we sometimes run out of ideas for easy, quick snacks – Cool Mom Picks has a good list of healthy snacks available in stores in their post Back to School Shopping- Better Lunchbox Snacks¬†– as an aside our kids love the Florida’s Natural Organic Fruit Nuggets and Chex Mix.