Archive for the ‘Yard Sales’ Tag

Attic Treasure Hunting

The value of any treasure discovered is always dependent on the quality, uniqueness, and scarcity of the particular items. Attics have always been the source of great treasure hunts for years, as well as the source of great agony.

For families who have to clear out and dispose of their valued treasures, it is difficult. Time and patience is a valuable commodity when sorting and clearing attic treasures. Care and concern should be given with all items as there may be items that have both monetary and sentimental value, or NOT. If you are fortunate enough to find one or two pieces in that category, then you need to decide what to do with them. Even finding a piece or two with sentimental value only – something you had long forgotten about it — will be a wonderful discovery.

Once the Treasure Hunt is complete and the “stuff” has been categorized what happens now?  For the items you have decided to keep, it depends on the situation you and the family are in; you might be moving so will these items move to new location or will you be taking them to your home? Or you may be staying for a while longer so that will require repacking and labeling the contents of the carton or bin. Be sure to put a date on the bin so you know how long ago you last viewed the contents. Put these repacked and organized containers neatly in a designated space for future access.

Now, you need to take away the items designated as trash, donation, give to family, or sell.

  • Move the trash, if possible, directly out to the curb, a dumpster or at least to the garage to wait for trash day.
  • If you have not already scheduled a donation pick up; do it now.   Move the donation items down to the garage clearly marking them as donations – not to be mistaken for trash.   Resist the temptation of second guessing your decisions.
  • Items marked ‘give to family’, bring them down to an area that can be designated staging area; put all items in here clearly marked with the designated family member’s name. Make a call and schedule a time for      things to be picked up. You may need to make several calls, and then  finally say; “If you don’t come by Sunday, I will be putting them in the trash on Monday.”
  • Put all items for sale in one spot (either leave them in the attic or garage marked sale items). Then determine what type of sale to have.  Arrange for  an appraisal, if necessary. Set a date, even if it is weeks or months away, it will help motivate you to complete the project.

For items that you truly feel have monetary value but you don’t know what it is, I recommend strongly that you pay for an appraisal from a qualified independent appraiser, who knows furniture or artwork. By having an appraisal of the pieces in question, you will be able to make an educated and informed decision on what you want to do with the pieces in question. You won’t walk into a store someday and see your piece (or something very similar) for sale for hundreds of dollars and you sold it for $5 at a moving sale!

Patience, persistence, and many helping hands are the basic elements needed to complete this project. It could take days, weeks, or even months, depending on the level of all available elements at any point in time.


It Is A Mirage – A Clean Garage!

Okay, this month is the time to make a confession. If you think that my house is neat as a pin, with nothing out of place you are wrong! Don’t get me wrong I am organized and stuff like that, but I live to enjoy my home and, like everyone else who provides a service for other people; I am tired when I get home so my house is the last to get any attention. This goes for all parts of the home, especially the Garage.

Garages are suppose to be for your car, or if you are from Massachusetts ‘cah’! Personally my ‘cah’ has never been in the garage. It is always ‘pahked’ in the ‘yahd’ (or driveway), because there isn’t enough room in the garage. There is always enough room for other things, like shelving units, storage boxes, bikes, tools, my work supplies, and anything else you can think of BUT not the ‘cah’.

So this month we need to concentrate on the garage. It should be a fairly simple and quick process now that the weather is warm and you can leave the door (or doors) open.  If you really look around, there really are not a lot of useless or unneeded items.  The real problem is that we don’t put the items back where they belong. When we finish with the item we put it in an empty space, and there is stays, that space becomes its home. Slowly, but swiftly, these items start to encroach into the next available space and then everything just looks so cluttered and unwieldy it becomes too much trouble to spend the little extra time to make things right.

Now let’s get started! Put the ‘cah’ on the street (out of the driveway), and pull everything out of the garage and put it out in the driveway or the ‘yahd’. Don’t forget to gather all the help you can for this project, because it can become tiresome and hard work as the day progresses. It should only take a few hours with help.

Once all the ‘stuff’ is out of the garage take the broom and give the garage (floor, walls and ceiling) a good sweep. You will be amazed at the amount of dirt and dust you will pick up. You may want to sprinkle a little water (not too much or you will have mud) to hold down the dust. When you finish sweeping, let the dust settle for a bit, and start sorting through the ‘stuff’ out in the ‘yahd’.

Trash whatever can be trashed. All those grocery bags and other plastic bags that you have accumulated, consolidate partial packages of items, put like items together. Decide whether or not you need to install wall hooks or purchase another shelving unit.

Remember the goal is to clean the floor so you have room for your ‘cah’.  With a plan in mind and the dust settled, it is time to start putting things back where they belong. Tools are in the tool box, the bikes are in a rack or hung on wall hooks, and the trash barrels are off to the side but convenient to the door. Everything is in place now step back and take a picture!  Remember how it looks, this is what you want all the time.

Now ‘pahk’ the ‘cah’ in the garage. There is plenty of room now!   You can actually open the door without knocking or hitting anything.  What a nice, satisfying experience and just think it didn’t take forever to accomplish.  Congratulations, you have a ‘wicked p**a’ clean garage that any Boston ‘cah’ is proud to ‘pahk’ in.  Now it is time for a Dunk!

Three Suggestions for Baby Boomer’s to Downsizing Parents Home.

For years, with both happiness and sadness, parents have sent their children off to college and the children leave a lot of their “STUFF” behind.  This “STUFF” has a tendency to “hang out” at the house for a long time.  Somehow this gives parents the feeling that “The children will be back because they want their “STUFF”
In a lot of cases, parents whose children left the family home years ago – for college, pursuing a career, or for marriage, left behind “STUFF” that is still hanging around in the basement and attic.  When I work with clients I find and I am told; “Oh that belongs to Suzie (or Dick), I have it until they have room.”

Fall is when many of us are thinking of clearing out our gardens and preparing them for winter.  This would also be a perfect time to start weeding out all the stuff that has been hanging around your parent’s homes that you left behind when you moved on with your lives.

Three suggestions on how to begin to help your parents to organize and downsize and get rid of the trash you or your siblings left behind.

  1. Send a friendly little email to your siblings, telling them what you plan and when you are planning to do it.
  2. Give them a specific date that if they want anything they left behind to come and take it away.
  3. Stick to the plan.  When the deadline comes and goes, start the clean out process, and donate, sell, or throw out all items that you do not want or need.
You will feel so much better for having done this and so will your parents.  Remember this will need to be done sooner or later and NOW is a perfect time to start.

No Air Conditioning, Fans, or Fresh Air!

Okay, I am sitting here at my computer barely dressed, in an air-conditioned office, under the overhead fan and I am hot!    I love summer as long as my home and car is air-conditioned and I have ceiling fans, with out these conveniences I would not be a happy camper.   Not sure how we made it through so many years with out these things.

Even though I am hot, I am far better off compared to a woman I visited this morning.     This woman was in a small, very cluttered home with no air conditioning, fans, or fresh air!   It was stifling sitting at her kitchen table.   It amazes me how she was able to be in that house.   How do our seniors do it.

We talked for about 20 minutes before I was given the grand tour of the home to figure out what was required — just to put the house on the market.   It really was a nice home in a very nice neighborhood of starter homes.   Her problem is that she is sick, old, and physically unable to maintain the property.   She is barely able to take care of herself!   There was no discussion of family in the area to help her, and we talked about her using my services.   She said,  she was at her WITTZ END!   And she was!

Once I get going, and tackle the house one room at a time it will quickly start to shape up!   This is what I do, one room at a time, I move my clients from FRAZZLED TO DAZZLED!   After her home is sold we will move her into a retirement community where she will have all the amenities that she deserves, and she will not have to worry about the lawn, heating oil, or air conditioning.

You know You Grew Up In . . . When You Remember!

It is funny how Face Book pages are springing up reminiscing about the good old days of growing up in your home town.  We are all looking back on them through rose color glasses, and fondly remembering things that we did way back when.  I am doing the very same thing and I really enjoy connecting with classmates and others who remember a kinder gentler time.

I remember when every Saturday morning we loaded up the car, in my case it was my Mother’s Rambler American, with trash for the weekly trip to the Town Dump.   The Dump, not politically correct now, was the place to go, be seen, to meet people, and to find precious worldly treasures.

Every politician running for office would do meet and greats at the dump!  Every organization with a cause to promote was at the dump passing out information or demonstrating for their cause.  You could always see and talk with someone you knew, whether you wanted to or not.

Then there were the people who would rummage through the items people dropped off looking for the treasure of the day.   You would be amazed and the people who were rummaging.   Looking back this isn’t such a bad idea.   Many good things have been tossed out in haste and found by people who were just browsing.

Today, I am finding that some well known charities have stopped accepting furniture and other household items.   It is becoming more difficult to find places for clients to donate or give away their valued possessions.   Although our environment no longer encourages open dumping, I fondly remember the “good old days” when I spent Saturday mornings at the Town Dump, shaking hands with politicians and the trash pickers!


Get your Kids to take their “stuff”!  Set a deadline date (3 – 4 weeks down the road) for them to come and take their “stuff” that you have very nicely sorted and put to one side for them.   You may need to use tough love!   Tell them if they don’t come or don’t want the items you will arrange to dispose of the items.   If they don’t come by this date (you can give them gentle reminders during this time period) schedule the trash person to come in as soon as possible after the deadline.    

Give your special items now to your family.   If there are special items that you know you are not going to need or use again, why not consider giving them to that special person now while you can enjoy giving the gift and the person receiving the gift will appreciate and can thank you in person.

Only keep the items you truly treasure!    Remember you cannot keep everything, and you need to be ruthless in your decisions.  You may change your mind several times.   Until you are really sure or have any doubts don’t throw or give anything away.   Make lists, add and subtract from the lists and make sure this is what you truly want.   Once you give them away or throw them out they are gone forever.

Donate to charity.   If you have three sets of dishes, be realistic do you really need them?   Anything that you don’t need, cannot use, and don’t want (but is good and serviceable) donate them to your favorite charity.  There are so many good charities that can use these items.    Clothing to homeless shelters, books to the local library, furniture to Goodwill and any number of places are looking for good serviceable items.  And most are happy to give receipts for tax purposes.

Whatever you do, do something!   Just don’t sit there and let stuff pile up around you until you cannot walk safely in your own home.    It is better to be in control with where and how to dispose of your stuff than have someone come in and take control and give you no say in the matter.     There is plenty of help out there, ask at the Senior Center or your clergy person for recommendations on how to proceed.  

You will feel so much better when you start the process.


Downsizing, de-cluttering, organizing, or whatever you want to call it, it is a necessary evil that we all need to face at some time in our lives.   Probably we should do it periodically, but most of us procrastinate and let things accumulate in the basements, attics, garages, and sheds.  There are various reasons to de-clutter; from moving into a smaller home, to stay safely in your home,   you, your spouse or partner may be ill, disabled or have died or you cannot maintain your home any longer.   These are all very important reason to seriously think about downsizing and NOW is a good time to start!  Whenever possible family members should be involved in the process, because there may be items that they might want.  


  •  Set aside specific periods of time. 
     Start off slowly, one to three hours a day is sufficient because of the physical and emotional strain involved.   Take frequent breaks, to avoid becoming overwhelmed and dehydrated.   If you decide to tackle the basement first, break it down in sections.   Make sure that you dispose of all trash and take the items to be donated away (this eliminates second guessing!)  Only leave items that you are keeping or planning on moving. When you complete that section STOP!  You will feel good about what you have accomplished and schedule your next session.    

  •  Develop a system for sorting. 
    Start with large items (too large for cartons) first, by putting color stickers on these items: i.e.: Yellow = Donate, Blue = Keep, Green=Give Away, Pink=Undecided.    Then determine how and where these items are going and right that on the stickers.   Knick-knacks are smaller and stickers don’t stay put.   Set up cartons and mark them KEEP, GIVE AWAY, DONATE, UNDECIDED.    If you need make
    the phone calls for pickups right away and schedule it to happen!  Don’t procrastinate make the calls! 
  •  Take time to remember:
     Don’t rush the sorting and downsizing, it will take time and if you start early, before the pressure is on to finish by a certain deadline date, you can decide what you want to do and make sure you are comfortable with your decision.  Take time to laugh or cry, reminisce, look through old papers, and to remember and grieve.    You need this time and it will help you to let go.
  • Take pictures or video of items. 
    In order to remember and pass the memories down to your family take pictures or a video of the items.  Recording your memories and recollections of an item and its connection to the family is particularly important if the items are family heirlooms.  The younger family members may not aware of the history or special significance the piece(s) have to the family history.   Your recorded recollections will bring added value to your family. 

The earlier you start to prepare for a move, the better off you will be.   Downsizing and moving is a very stressful time in a persons life, no matter how old they are.    Doing this after years of living in the same home, and having accumulated a lot of “STUFF” is a lot of work.     This only adds to your stress levels.

In my next posting I will talk about the downsizing and how to get rid of the stuff we have all accumulated over the years.    The pros and cons of moving sales, and why your items are not selling for what you know they are worth!

To all the Mothers, Grandmothers, and wannabe Mothers – HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!

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