Planning a Garage Sale?

with an Australia wide Garage Sale Trial event coming up , you might want to get your head around it now:

Check your motives: If you are doing it to earn money, this is not the right way. It will cost you in excess of 15 hours to organise and do a garage sale – if you work that amount of time in a payed job, you’ll make more money.
If you want to sustainably shift some stuff, connect to your community and have a fun day… teach your kids about money, haggling, how to deal with strangers, you are on the right track.
Also, if the thought of all your stuff going to landfill just keeps you from de cluttering, if you work well with a deadline, this is for you!
Have (more) fun:Clear on your motives but want to have even more fun? Ask a neighbor, the whole street friends or relatives to go in it together.
It’s more fun and your might join someone with a better location – because location is key. If you are planning to do it in the back lane where no passersby will see it, it will be hard to attract people on the day. You  will also have more variety (or less, which can work equally well – themed Garage sales apparently do very well) You will also have an accountability team and more fun launching and promoting it online.
Get started by registering it on the Garage Sale Trial page!
Next is a bit of planning so you don’t get stressed out in the last minute – remember, getting rid of clutter is going to de stress your  life! That’s the goal to have in mind when it will get a bit hectic!!
Sit down  with a piece of paper and your calendar.
Brainstorm (with your family or with yourself) where there could be hidden treasures in your house. Are they big items you just pick on the day or does the whole room need a bit of a de clutter before you can sell those unwanted items?
Figure out where you will store them till the day comes – again having a team behind you can really help!
If you need de cluttering you will need time – and that’s where your calendar comes into play. Find pockets of time – doesn’t always have to be 2 hours in one stretch and block them out for Garage Sale de cluttering.
Start somewhere, but start as soon as possible. It might seem like a long time but the 26th of October will be here sooner than you think. If you realise you can’t face it or are getting nowhere despite having lots of stuff, consider hiring/asking for help!
(there will be more details on the nitty gritties for the week leading up to the event and for the big day…)

coming home from a holiday

be prepared for the day you come home

following Helena’s tips in the last post, you might already have bits and pieces of produce that need cooking. Prepare something now that freezes well so you have a meal on the table when you come back.Winter lends itself to a casserole in the slow cooker or pressure cooker. There is an idea for Cidered Pork here:

cubed pork shoulder
1 leek, thinly sliced
2 tablsp. plain flour
300 ml dry cider
4 carrots, diced
1 apple or pear
salt, pepper, sage
throw into slow cooker and cook for a day on low. Let cool and freeze. Serve with bread
I would also freeze a small bottle of milk and some bread to avoid an early morning dash to the shops before you even had your coffee!

Going Away

Going Away

with the spring holidays almost upon us, you might want to take this organiaing challenge on this year. Your fridge will thank you and you’ll just love coming home to one less thing to think about!

by Helena Tosello
Now’s the perfect time to spring clean your fridge

Planning for a trip is hard work but half the fun as you’ll be enjoying the fruits of your labour. Think of spring cleaning your kitchen the same way – a few tasks that will take some effort and planning but that you will enjoy down the track. Especially when returning home, hungry and tired at the end of a family holiday. A clean tidy house is like a soothing balm in those trying circumstances.

Step 1
One week before your departure take stock of what you have and plan meals to use up any fresh items, leftovers or random ingredients. Freeze whatever you can (overripe fruit, leftovers from meals in the last two days). Throw away anything already beyond its usefulness and give away anything that you won’t be able to use in time.

Be realistic. Are you really going to make that exotic Thai green curry that still require you purchase kaffir lime leaves and fresh ginger root? If the answer is no, then give away most or that entire bunch of coriander, or make some pesto and freeze it.

Step 2
As sections of the fridge become bare, move items to other areas and clean just that one section. This can be done in just 5 minutes while you wait for the kettle to boil and your cup of tea to steep. Some plastic shelves, covers, inserts in fridge doors can be removed completely and washed in soapy water or the dishwasher.

Take the opportunity to remove condiment bottles and jars and wipe the holders and shelves AND the bottom of the bottle/jar before you replace it. Take a moment to decide whether to rearrange items. Wipe down the door seals to improve/maintain the energy efficiency of your fridge.

Step 3
After a couple days of this sort of spot cleaning, enough of your fridge will be clean enough to inspire you to clean the rest of it. I even did my freezer drawers last summer holidays!

Ensure that on the day of departure you allow time for any last dishes to be washed, dried and put away and for the bins to be emptied. That way when you returned refreshed from your holiday – even after a horror flight or car trip – you’ll arrive in a clean, orderly, refreshed home environment easing your way back into the hustle and bustle of daily life.
Helena is a mum in the middle of everything trying to regain the centre stage of her own life. She lives in inner west Sydney with two boys and a fly in-fly out husband. She enjoys coffee with friends, being organised, researching, sharing, and working on her fledging blog. You can follow her at

virtual waste

Points – credit card points, loyalty points, rewards points
Now these are really hidden and can be incredibly valuable. Do a quick stocktake of all the accounts or memberships you have which earn you points – start with cards in your wallets, apps on your phone and statements mailed or emailed to you. Put them in spreadsheet – much easier to manage and track.

See if you’re close to getting enough points for something you’ve always wanted AND really need. Otherwise just use them for gift cards and movie vouchers which make great presents, can be used to buy presents or will save you time and money when Christmas and holidays come around.

If you can’t stand closing an account with a small number of points or throwing away the coffee card, check if there’s an expiry date and if so, when. Decide to make an effort to build up the balance then close the account after all the points are used. If it’s too much effort or not important or will cost too much, then decide to throw it out and don’t think about it anymore. Otherwise you’ll be wasting more time J Sometimes you can redeem small amounts (such as $5 iTunes voucher) or donate to charity.

If it’s something you want to keep such as frequent flyer points or credit card points then do a bit of research, sit down and check your points balance, review your spend to see how much you earn every month. Look at the catalogue and identify what you want to use the points for. Be realistic and aim for something you’re close to earning. Otherwise redeem regularly every time you get to a $20 or $50 gift card for a retailer you always use eg supermarket or department store. That way, the $20 you save on groceries just paid for your lunch and coffee with the girls.

Do you know what waste looks like?

by Helena Tosello

Rotting smelly food scraps, discoloured bits of building materials, crumpled paper and broken glass. Is this what you picture when you think of waste? But what about that silk top you bought on holidays two years which you’ve only worn once, the glass decanter wedding present you think is too snobby, or the designer handbag you consider too good to use? Aren’t these all just another form of waste? They may be nicer looking and smelling, but they are waste just the same. A waste of money, time, energy and storage. Could they be put to better use?

In our fast-paced, disposable society we are accustomed to the Reduce Re-use Recycle motto and campaigns to reduce waste in the office (print on both sides, email, don’t print at all); when eating out (restaurants which charge you more if you don’t finish your meal, bringing your own mug to the café for a discount) and shopping (say no to plastic). But have you thought about “hidden waste”, waste masquerading as clothes you’ll wear to a future job you might have one day or art supplies for the painter inside you which has not emerged since you were in school?

How many areas of hidden waste can you uncover in your life?

1. Keeping items for ‘Ron (contraction of “keeping items for later on”)
Did you know bone china which is not used and washed regularly becomes brittle and more likely to break? It’s true, so get those wedding dishes out and use them every day. Breakfast will never feel so glamorous. Wine in a fancy decanter tastes better and adds to your $10 bottle of red. Money saved and mood boosted. Think about items you have bought or been given which are seldom used because you think they are “too good”. What are you saving them for? The Queen? Use them. You are good enough. If you don’t want them or don’t have a genuine need, sell them or give them away.

Keeping things and not using is same as waste. Anything you have and don’t use is wasted. Why would you have waste sitting around your house? A use does not have to be tangible or practical. If an item such as artwork or jewellery gives you pleasure just by looking at it then put it on display.

2. Extra food served and/or eaten
If you don’t need it because you or the family have had sufficient sized portions then eating it is not only bad for your weight but a waste of leftovers which could have been tomorrow’s lunch or dinner. When serving a meal, place extra portions straight in containers into the fridge. You’ll be less likely to overeat.

3. Freebies
We all have things which come into the house unbidden. Rubber bands around newspapers, paper clips, envelopes, gift bags, pens, mail which is only printed on one side (!). Keep and use these items to save you money. They can all be re-used but only if you keep them stored in a logical place (where you use), know where they are and remember to use them.

Samples from magazines and shops are the same. If you don’t think you’ll use it, give it to someone who will. Or toss it, don’t keep it.

4. Time
Everyone has their time wasters – mine are called Sam and Max. Seriously, you’ll feel better if you can use this time, usually spent waiting on other people, doing something useful.

Here are some ideas:
* Waiting in your car for kids to finish sport or any activity – take a book or have an eBook on your phone as well and you’ll discover reading time you never knew you had, write in your diary or a shopping list, call a friend mum sister, clean out your handbag/glove box/wallet
* Waiting in waiting rooms – read (see above), catch up on trash, check Facebook, organise coffee, meals and other appointments, close your eyes and meditate
* Waiting in line – if you’re standing up you can do anything on your phone. Otherwise take the time to concentrate on your breathing and think of nothing at all. They say even 5 minutes of meditation daily is good for your health.

6. Unwanted Gifts
Two words: Gift Cupboard. I admit to keeping anything which comes into our home which could be regifted. They may have been given as gifts to you or your family, be duplicates, extras in a sale, anything. As long as original packaging is intact and any food items will not expire too soon, keep these items for those last minute birthday invitations and Kris Kringles. However a warning: these gifts will not save you time, money or energy if you forget about them and do not use them.

Look through all the items and decide if any can be used in the next few weeks. List what you have. Keep the list on your phone or in your handbag. There’s nothing worse than buying something only to find something similar at home.

See if anything just needs a couple of extra items to make it into a decent present. Think about when and what they can be used for. Eg upcoming kids birthdays, Christmas presents for teachers, coaches, neighbours.

Do a big clean out two months before Christmas and note when your local schools and churches are taking donations for presents and fetes. Anything unused by Christmas could go under a wishing tree in Kmart.

I would love to write about wasted opportunities but don’t feel qualified, being an advanced procrastinator myself. Though I did hear an interesting quote the other day:

“Good luck happens when opportunity meets preparation.”

Here’s to all of us being better prepared and less wasteful.

Helena is a mum in the middle of everything trying to regain the centre stage of her own life. She lives in inner west Sydney with two boys and a fly in-fly out husband. She enjoys coffee with friends, being organised, researching, sharing, and working on her fledging blog. You can follow her at

The Four Stages of Moving

Moving on from talking about moving… here are some tips that should save you some serious money

  1. De clutter and organise as soon as you know the date of moving. (or even if you are not moving, always a good idea in my books!)

This is the most cost saving tip I can think of – every item you decide to de clutter now will not be packed into boxes and will not cost you any further money!
De clutter: get rid of everything you don’t need any more or won’t need in the new house. Store like with like and label like crazy!

  1. Everything you don’t need in the next 6 month

Start packing everything you won’t need in the next 6 month: seasonal decorating, unseasonal clothing, sentimental value, kids toys and clothes for the future, Christmas crockery, rarely used board games…
number your boxes, clearly state the content, clearly state which room/area of the new house they will be going into. Store in the front of the garage till you feel you are done with that part of the move.
If you have the space, store them in the front of the garage, if not hire a storage space for 6 month. (When filling that space be aware, that what you put in first will come out last!)

  1. This should leave everything you need in the next 6 month in your house.

Keep sorting and purging, putting like with like. The more organised you live now, the more organised your move will be – because it will be easy for the removalist to pack your categories. Leave stickers and notes around the house, specifically on furniture, stating where they are going in the new house or if they are coming with you at all. This should leave a clear playing field for the removalist come moving day… You could even book a day at the spa or treat the family to a night in a hotel! You deserve it after all that preparation you have done; you can afford it with all the clutter you got rid off that you don’t have to pay being packed and moved!

  1. Everything you need on the moving day and first day in the new home

Think of it like a holiday; pack a suitcase with your most important documents  (Grab and Run File) some snacks and treats, something for the kids to do on their own when parents get stressed and busy, important phone numbers, chargers, two or three changes of clothes, bed linen…
Place it in a designated area and communicate to everyone what this is and that its NOT going to be packed under any circumstances. The car works well for this!
A friend of mine moved the whole family overseas, with two kids under six. The removalist accidently packed the bag with very important documents, including the passport! We tried to get emergency passport parallel to unpacking the whole container at the depot. The bag was found in the end, but the stress was huge!

Kitchen de clutter – continuing

de cluttered your  kitchen? Retrofitting idea

This is a good option to utilize the full depth of your cupboards. Once you organise like with like: pasta with pasta, spices with spices, ready made meal ingredients…  Store them in these longish containers and when you look for something just take the whole container out onto the kitchen bench or rest on the ledge of the shelf!
(Also available in a wide version.)

Howard’s Storage
Amalie Pullout Organiser – Narrow

$9.95pull out drawer

I get the Shits!!

I personally organise when I get the shits!!

How often should I….go through my pantry… de clutter my wardrobe?
How much … memorabilia…office supplies… pots should I keep?
It s a simple question, but there is no simple answer. Everyone is different and everyone has to set their own standards.
I personally work like this: I do it when it gives me the shits!
We are having guests tonight and I am seeing a client this afternoon, so I dedicated the morning to cooking.  When I opened my pantry, it looked like this… too messy for me.
 I get the shits and just start; pull everything out, give the cupboard a wipe, de clutter, de canter and re organise.
Took me half an hour and now I am off to cooking Osso Bucco with homemade German egg noodles (Spaetzle).