A year ago on Unclutterer

Auto detailing: The extreme clean

There is a man in my neighborhood who takes the wheels off his car once a month when he cleans his BMW. He washes his car every Saturday, but the wheels are his first-weekend-in-the-month activity. I thought this was the definition of extreme car care, but I was wrong.

I was thinking of Guy Who Takes the Wheels Off His Car the other day when I saw this thread on the Detailing World message boards. Featured on the page is Clark’s story of the four-day cleaning job he did on a Lamborghini Gallardo. Words cannot describe the sense of awe for this ne plus ultra.

Wow.

I don’t know what to say except that you MUST click on this link and see this self-proclaimed “polished bliss.” If I had a Lamborghini, I would ask Clark to detail it for me.

Images from the Detailing World website.

Yard Sales: An unclutterer’s ultimate, how-to guide

Today we welcome guest post author Geralin Thomas, the ideal professional organizer, and her amazing advice for a successful yard sale.

A pocketful of cash, a clutter-free home, and a lot of interaction between your stuff and passers-by all make yard sales hard to resist. Who hasn’t driven by a yard sale and wondered if there’s a too-good-to-be-true bargain hiding behind a used sewing machine, or if the perfect whatcha-ma-call-it at a to-die-for price is amidst all the other treasures?

Why have a yard sale?
We all want our homes to be clean and neat and to reflect who we are. A truly great home balances organization with comfort and style. Hosting a yard sale provides incentive to edit things from your house that no longer fit, work, come in handy, or relate to your lifestyle. Oh yes, and yard sales generate extra income. So, why not have a yard sale?

Choose the right day

  1. Not every day is right for a yard sale. For example, don’t schedule your sale on a holiday weekend unless you live in a tourist town.
  2. The best months for sales are April, May, June and September.
  3. If possible, try to schedule your sale near the 1st or the 15th of the month because those are paydays for a lot of shoppers.
  4. Saturdays are best.
  5. Earlier in the day is better than later.

Spread the word

  1. Contact local authorities and inquire about restrictions, regulations, permits, etc. for posting signs and hosting sales.
  2. Let your neighbors know about your sale; if they don’t want strangers parking in front of their homes, place “no parking” signs where appropriate.
  3. Inquire about placing ads with various local newspapers. Ask how many words, how much it is going to cost, and how far in advance you need to submit the information.
  4. List a rain date or have an indoor back-up plan.
  5. Post signs at local grocery stores.
  6. Place ads on electronic bulletin boards.
  7. Distribute flyers in community centers.
  8. Use foam board rather than poster board for posting signs around the neighborhood.

Advertise clearly

  1. Who is involved in the sale: single family, neighbors, community?
  2. What type of sale is it: yard, community, garage, moving, fire?
  3. When is your sale: date(s) and day of the week, time from xx am –xx pm
  4. Where is the sale: give clear directions from a major intersection
  5. Why should people come? Make your ad stand out. Be creative with your wording and list a few “big ticket” items to draw interest.

Sample ad: Multi-family yard sale; designer-name maternity clothes, educational preschool toys, upscale infant gear, and much more. NO Checks. Saturday & Sunday April 3 -4; 8:30am –1pm. Rain date: Sat. April 10. EARLY BIRDS PAY DOUBLE! 555 Main Street across the boulevard from the community pool.

Sample ad: Retirement Sale; 60 years accumulation of antiques, furniture, power tools, appliances, gardening tools, house ware. Cash Only. Saturday; September 10; 7am – 3pm ONLY (Rain date: Sat. Sept. 17); 555 Main Street, 3 miles West of Rest Assured Retirement Center. NO early birds.

Gather the following supplies

  1. Tables for displaying items
  2. Assortment of bags for people to take their items home: plastic store or grocery bags, gift bags, paper grocery bags, lunch bags
  3. Packing boxes; store them under the display tables until needed
  4. Bubble wrap and newspapers for fragile items or breakables
  5. Tape to secure lids or keep stray pieces together
  6. Permanent markers to change price signs throughout the day
  7. Rubber bands to bundle silverware, spools of ribbon, etc.
  8. Tape measure and yard stick
  9. Calculators for adding up sales
  10. Extension cords to plug in electrical items to show that they work
  11. Spare light bulbs if selling lamps
  12. Batteries for testing toys and small appliances
  13. BONUS TIP: If you want to earn extra income buy extra batteries and sell them!

Details to remember

  1. Have a trash can so people can dispose of their bottles and snack wrappers.
  2. Keep a large bottle of hand-sanitizing gel or wet naps to clean your hands.
  3. Leave enough room between tables for shoppers with strollers to browse.
  4. Don’t forget a roll of paper towels for spills and a box of tissues for sneezes.
  5. Lock the doors and windows of your home.

Price it right

  1. Do not price every single item for sale. It is time-consuming and everyone is going to ‘bargain down’ the asking price anyway.
  2. Group similar items together on a table and price them all the same.
  3. Make categories and label them: Exercise and Fitness, Bed & Bath, Camping, Books & Media, etc.
  4. Label the tables: $5.00-$10.00, $1.00 or less, or Best Offer — minimum $20.00, etc.
  5. Price in 50 cent increments (easier to add).
  6. Face the facts, everyone comes to a yard sale looking for a bargain – so give the people what they want and, remember, the main idea is to unload all your unwanted things – making money is almost secondary.

Hang it up!

  1. Make sure all clothes are pressed, clean, and hanging on hangers.
  2. Do not try to sell clothes that need mending, ironing, or stains removed.
  3. Group clothing according to sizes.
  4. Have a full-length mirror stationed somewhere convenient.

Money matters

  1. Before the sale day, go to the bank so you’ll have plenty of small bills on hand – between $50.00 and $75.00 in cash.
  2. If you really want to generate a buzz, ask the bank for $2.00 bills and silver dollars. Younger shoppers love “funny money”.
  3. Hip packs are a must for carrying cash. Do not leave a cash box unattended.
  4. Do not accept checks from strangers. A Cash Only rule is a good one – and take collected money inside your house periodically.

Snacks

  1. A great way for an older child or teen to make a little extra cash is to sell coffee and donuts during the sale.
  2. Stock up at a warehouse-type store: sell mini-bottles of water, juice boxes, small packs of goldfish crackers and other parent-approved snacks for children in tow. Food and drinks will keep shoppers shopping longer.

Leftovers
Do NOT bring the items that didn’t sell back into your home or garage. There are 3 options for leftovers that you must take care of immediately after your yard sale:

  1. Put them into your car or van and drive them to the nearest donation center and obtain a tax credit for your donation.
  2. Place them curbside with a sign that says, “FREE—Help Yourself!” Anything that remains after 2 days should be trashed.
  3. Conduct a “Leftover Raffle.” Sell raffle tickets for $ 3.00. Draw names out of a hat. The winner gets anything and everything they want, and you make $3.00 per person on your leftovers!

Now your attic, garage, and home are clutter-free! You’ve gotten rid of your “trash” and some lucky person has discovered a “treasure”! Best of all, you now have some extra cash to treat your family to something special!

Workspace of the Week: Unconventional solutions

This week’s Workspace of the Week is Graywood Farm’s scrapbooking desk:

I was drawn to this office space for two reasons. For starters, it’s a standing desk, which is a rare submission for our photo group. Secondly, I love the use of unconventional containers for storage. It is a good reminder that you can be creative and think outside the box when putting together your organized space. Go with what speaks to you. Thank you, Graywood Farm, for giving us this valuable reminder!

Want to have your own workspace featured in Workspace of the Week? Submit a picture to the Unclutterer flickr pool. Check it out because we have a nice little community brewing there. Also, don’t forget that workspaces aren’t just desks. If you’re a cook, it’s a kitchen; if you’re a carpenter, it’s your workbench.

10 tips to beat clutter in less than five minutes

I’m happy to have Gretchen Rubin, the fabulous author of The Happiness Project, join us with a guest post today on Unclutterer. There just aren’t enough kind words in the English language to say about her. Welcome, Gretchen!

Having a clutter-filled house can make you feel overwhelmed and exhausted. Everywhere you look, you see little chores that should be done. No single task is particularly difficult, but together, they add up to a big headache and a big mess. Pretty quickly, it’s easier just to add to the piles than to try to attack the problem.

Here are ten easy, quick tips that, if followed regularly, will help keep your clutter under control. And none of them takes more than five minutes – if that.

  1. Make your bed each morning.
  2. Throw away the newspaper each night, even if you haven’t read it yet.
  3. Follow the “one-minute rule” – push yourself to do any chore that takes less than one minute. Throw away the junk mail, close the cabinet door, put your dirty socks in the hamper, hang up your wet towel.
  4. Identify an organization or person to whom you can give things you no longer need – it’s much easier to get rid of unneeded stuff if you can envision someone else getting good use from them. Also, figure out a place to store those things until you hand them over. We have a special shelf for books that we’re taking to the Housing Works thrift store. When the shelf is full, we drop off the books.
  5. Pause for a moment before you “store” something. Storing something means you don’t intend to use it much. Other than holiday decorations and seasonal clothes, you should strive to “store” as little as possible.
  6. Beware of freebies. Never accept anything free, unless you’re thrilled with it. A mug, a tote bag, a hand-me-down toy, the lamp from your mother-in-law—if you don’t need it, don’t take it.
  7. Get rid of things if they break. When I went through our apartment, I was astonished by how many things I’d kept even though they didn’t work.
  8. Don’t keep any piece of paper unless you know that you actually need it. I have a friend who, for years, carefully filed away the stubs when she paid her gas bill. “Why?” I asked, mystified. “I have no idea,” she said. Along the same lines, don’t keep anything that would quickly become dated—like travel information. Remember the internet! If you can easily find information online, you don’t need to keep a hard copy.
  9. Hang up your coat.
  10. Before you go to bed, take five minutes to do an “evening tidy-up.” Don’t tackle anything ambitious, but just stack up the magazines, put your shoes away, shove the chairs into place, etc. Just a few minutes of tidying can make your house look a lot better, and it’s a calming thing to do before going to sleep. Plus it makes the morning nicer.

Are mobiles necessary?

Every child is unique. Some love to suck on pacifiers until they are well beyond three years old, while others never use them at all. Which causes me to wonder if anyone’s child got use out of their crib mobile?

Well, I’m not entirely sure about the need for a mobile. My daughter couldn’t have cared less about the mobile we had hanging over her crib. I don’t think we ever wound it up more than a handful of times. We ended up donating it way before we moved her into a bed. Are you depriving your child by foregoing a mobile? Are they going to miss out on early child development, because you failed to supply them with a spinning musical mobile? I doubt it.

Granted, some kids love their mobiles and they help them fall asleep. But, a one-size-fits-all guide to raising a baby is not realistic. I guess what I’m saying is, there is no magic toy that all babies need. Mobiles are a traditional product that parents have come to attach to their cribs with little or no hesitation. Maybe it’s time to pause before buying baby gear simply out of habit.

Is there a “can’t live without it” baby product that your son or daughter ended up not paying attention to? I have a fairly long list of things that my daughter easily lived without.

Unitasker Wednesday: GoateeSaver

I’m not the best person to ask for advice when it comes to facial hair grooming. I only shave once a week because I don’t have a large amount of hair on my face, and I work from home. So, maybe my lack of expertise is the reason I don’t adequately understand the need for the GoateeSaver.

From the GoateeSaver site:

Tired of the constant struggle every morning trying to get your goatee to look perfect? GoateeSaver revolutionizes the way you shave and trim your goatee. GoateeSaver can be customized to your face in seconds, with three easy adjustments. Just slide it over your mouth and shave to get the perfect look that women will admire and men will respect.

Constant struggle? I had no idea that the goateed had to put up with such adversity to look good! Thankfully, the GoateeSaver is here to help. Just shove this thing in your mouth and shave around it. It sounds too good to be true. Check out the site for an informative video and I’m sure you’ll be sold. Now go forth, and be manly.

Thanks to reader Scott for bringing this unitasker to our attention.

**Each week, the Unitasker Wednesday column humorously pokes fun at the unnecessary, single-use items that manage to find their way into our homes.

A year ago on Unclutterer

Money for nothing

MSN Money columnist MP Dunleavey talks about “The High Price of Too Much Stuff” in a recent post:

Never mind that we live in a culture that encourages constant consumption. Or that few can afford all the stuff that is supposedly part of the American dream. Or that debt is a drag on your personal financial health.

The relentless focus on having and buying and wanting and owning — and using your credit card or your home equity to cover it — has landed us here: with crates of things we don’t need, stuffed into compartments where we never see it, throwing yet more money down the drain for the meaningless thrill of knowing we have it.

Why? Because we don’t want to admit we were wrong, that buying all that stuff didn’t add up to what we had hoped.

I don’t agree with all of her statements (I’m reluctant to blame In Style magazine and the t.v. show Friends for current economic issues), but her general conclusion is a good one:

When I drive past those ugly, sprawling storage facilities, or even the bright cheery ones, I feel depressed. Someday these early years of the 21st century will be remembered as the Crazy Aughts, a time when Americans spent more money on nothing than ever before in our history.

And we are not richer, we are not happier, for all that getting and spending.

Thanks to reader Margaret who sent us the link.

Table in a box

The website Style Files in April featured a dining set perfect for small spaces:

Unfortunately, it looks like the design is only available in Japan right now. Until it heads to this side of the Pacific, we’ll just have to drool over it. Or, maybe we could encourage a U.S. firm to start carrying it … c’mon, you know you want to!

Thanks to reader Patricia who tipped us off about this great space-saving design.

Streaming Netflix

I’ve been a Netflix junkie for the past three years. I really enjoy the service and I only have a couple problems with it: Damaged discs and the dreaded “Very Long Wait” for some highly anticipated new releases. I was a bit intrigued by the Roku Netflix Player when it was released this past spring, but I’ve been holding off until their selection of available titles increases. Currently, they offer roughly 12,000 titles, a fraction of what is available in disc form. Everything I have read about the Roku is fairly positive. It is easy to set up, the user interface is straight forward, but the picture quality is a bit less than the DVD itself. I’m also awaiting the inevitable upgrade to streaming HD content. Surely, bandwidth is the main obstacle to that becoming a reality. Roku says that the player is HD ready and will stream HD movies and TV shows when Netflix is able to send the content. While the Roku box costs $99.99, the streaming of Netflix does not cost you anything extra if you already have an unlimited monthly membership (starting at $8.95 per month).

While I’m waiting for the perfect Netflix player to come along, Engadget is reporting that LG has a Blu-Ray player that will stream Netflix content. I have yet to upgrade to Blu-Ray, but this is definitely the unit I would go with when/if I go that route. The Blu-Ray player is still limited with the content that Netflix is offering, but it also plays Blu-Ray and standard DVDs. This offers a bit more versatility to the player where the Roku just streams Netflix.

I’m a big fan of being able to leave the physical media in the past and these developments, while not perfect, are approaching something I would be interested in purchasing. With options from Apple TV and Amazon’s Unbox, the inevitable end to the physical disc will be here before you know it.

All-in-one washer/dryer

LG may have created the ultimate space saving laundry solution in the All-In-One Washer and Dryer. From LG’s site:

Perfect for people who want to do laundry at home but don’t have an external venting source which conventional dryers require. This unit runs on standard voltage electricity and is great for placement in closets; it’s also a good solution for apartments, businesses and vacation homes where there may be space constraints.

Since it doesn’t need to be vented and it washes and dries your clothes, it appears to be a great small-space appliance. I did a quick search of Amazon and there are a few similar options from other companies. Has anyone had the chance to do a load of laundry in one of these units? I’m interested in finding out how well it works. The load capacities seem ridiculously small, and I’m curious about its drying capabilities.

(via CNET’s Appliances & Kitchen Gadgets Blog)