Home Organizing Project Management Strategies

Purging Your Stuff Using Craigslist, Donation, and Freecycle

I recently went through a pretty major move that involved two toddlers, buying a new house, and selling a new house. This was a situation that called for a lot of de-cluttering and purging before and after the move, and I have learned a lot about the pros and cons about these  3 ways of purging.



More cash
Purge faster and feel good
Local, feel good

Takes the most amount of time, flakes
Tax deduction only
No money, flakes and odd people

Best for items that are easy to sell and has good demand (e.g. kids beds, strollers)
Good for most things inside the house, as well as non-working electronics
Good for one-off items that you can’t sell on Craigslist too well and would be useful for particular situations (e.g.: large stacks of paper, moving boxes, unopened pantry food)

Craigslist is great for a virtual yard sale because I simply cannot be setting up a real life one and sit in front of a yard for a whole weekend with two kids running around. For many  high-demand items like expensive toys, strollers, bookshelves, kids bed, the best thing to do is to take a picture and post it on Craigslist. I was able to get money for my goodies and use it to help finance the move. You have to take pictures, add good descriptions, and be ready to deal with questions about it and do some emailing back and forth. The problem with Craigslist is that you have to deal with a lot of back and forth, making appointments, and sometimes people might flake out on you. This is why it is best reserved for items that have high demand and are likely to yield many offers. Of course, with Craigslist, you are also dealing with the public, so there is more risk as well. Craigslist has been used in the commission of many crimes, so one does have to take precautions. For me, it is really only worth the trouble if you think you can sell the item for more than $50. Otherwise, it is just easier to donate to charity or Freecycle

When it comes to getting rid of things fast, there is nothing like just donating it to your local charity. A lot of times you would get a postcard asking for you to put your stuff in the front driveway for pick up and the charity would accept most household items like clothes, shoes, blankets, even old electronics for recycling. I prefer to chose my own charity and just drive it over (I happen to live close to a really good one) because I don’t like to have things sitting in the driveway and not get picked up (which has happened) and I also like to research my charities. Having a tax-deduction is nice too, so it is important to get a receipt. You get to feel good that your items do benefit a charity you support. You save a lot of time by not having to take pictures to post online, not having to have email back and forth with people, or deal with any flakes. However, it does not guarantee that your items are going to avoid the landfill. What the charity cannot use they will toss.

Freecycle can be either the most convenient way to get rid of something or the least. Since money is not going to exchange hands, you can simply leave your item out in front of your house (if you are not skittish about it) and have the designated person pick it up. However since you are dealing with the public, you will have to prepare yourself for the possibility of flakes, and maybe even weirdos. A lot of people will email you with “Is this still available?” or “I want it” without any other explanation and I tend to pick the person who would at least add why they would need the item because I don’t want to be supporting any hoarders out there. By my experience, since these things are “free” there tends to be a lot more no shows than Craigslist, so one might have to go down the line of offers or repost. I have also had a situation where someone who took an item from me told me she decided that she didn’t want it anymore and could she bring it back. I was advised by our local moderator to tell her that if she did bring it back it would be illegal dumping and I would let the Freecycle community know about it. Luckily for me, she didn’t bring the item back to my home. Like most people, I give away stuff on Freecycle to feel good that my stuff is being useful to someone and that experience was not conducive to that!

In the end, I think if you are under a time crunch, the winning way to go would be donation, followed by Craigslist for easy to sell items. I found donating to be less fussy and easier given I have two kids to juggle on top of the move.


Health Home Personal Strategies

A Small Tweak Can Make All the Difference

After a little more than a year of being a stay at home mom, I was feeling worn down and terrible about myself. Like any mother of a toddler and breastfeeding infant, I was tired. More than anything, I felt like I was maybe not cut out to be a stay at home wife. Sure I was getting better at cooking, I love being there for my children, I did not miss the conflict between work and home that I felt as a working mother, but I was feeling like Cinderella all the time and tired of being a maid in my own house. I was frustrated that I was always cleaning and things keep piling up again sometimes even sooner than I can clean up. I was getting increasingly frustrated at my husband for not picking up his clothes off the floor and into the laundry basket and having to do everything. At least Cinderella had a fairy godmother; my fairy godmother was never going to come. I had to rescue my damn self.

I don’t usually make New Year resolutions but I decided that this year I need to change something permanently. I still have only 24 hours in a day, a son, a daughter, a husband to take care of, but I needed to give more to ME this year. So starting in January, I told my husband that I was going to spend less time on cleaning and start a fitness habit. I gained quite a bit of weight with the two pregnancies and while I didn’t know how I was going to find the time to take care of myself when something as basic as going to the bathroom and taking a shower seems to be a challenge sometimes. Around the end of January I started on my new routine.

Now a little less than two months into this I can tell you that the difference I feel is tremendous. I feel like one of the luckiest women in the world just about everyday. I have a lot more calm and energy at the same time. I don’t have a perfect regime but I remind myself that it is a new lifestyle that I am trying to establish and no lifestyle is perfect. Exercise is the ultimate ME time!

What is it that you would change about your day-to-day routine to make it better for you?


Home Strategies Work

Prioritizing and Doing What’s Important

“If everything is important, nothing is important.”

Important vs. Urgent

Eisenhower once said, “What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important.” 

  • Important activities have an outcome that leads to the achievement of your goals.
  • Urgent activities demand immediate attention, and are not necessarily leading to the achievement of your goals.

Urgent activities are often the ones we concentrate on at the cost of focusing on the important. These are the “squeaky wheels that get the grease.” They demand attention because the consequences of not dealing with them are immediate. Urgent is not exactly evil but it can cost you what is important.

When I was working in the corporate world, my job had a lot to do with managing resources and productivity. Even a large company with greater resources cannot manage to accomplish every idea that comes up — to do so would create a lot of pissed off, frustrated, and burned out, and crazy people. Setting priorities help you manage your time, your resources, and more importantly, your focus. Time and resources are always finite and limited, and there is no way you can do everything. In setting priorities for managing the home, you have much more control over it because you are the executive (or co-executive) of the home whereas in a corporate setting you might not have as much determination over company values, culture, and priorities.

What your priorities are will depend on your goals and your values. What you want to get accomplish depends on you and your family. Every family has a different context, and each family value different things and have different cultures. For example, once I became a homemaker, I wanted to learn how to be the best homemaker possible for my family. However, being a homemaker can encompass many things: parenting, cooking, cleaning, decorating, laundry, sewing, gardening, home repair, homeschooling, raising and farming your own food, storing, pest control, plumbing, furniture making, etc… There is no way I can or even really want to learn everything that would make me the super perfect homemaker who can do it all. That person doesn’t exist – I don’t think even Martha Stewart does it all. There are a whole lot of things that I don’t do, probably more than what I actually do. You have to pick the parts that matter to you and either forget about or outsource the rest.

Children Family Personal Relationships Strategies

Holiday Travel with Children

I just came back from a holiday trip to visit my husband’s family out in Naples, Florida for Christmas and I am proud of my family and I have learned a lot on this trip! Frankly, during my research and planning there are so many articles that added to my fear of flying with children. I had been planning and dreading this trip since August and am glad to report that the travel was a successful one. Here’s what I have learned:

Buy a seat for your child(ren).
Do not be like this family when travelling for the holidays. We could have travelled with our baby as a lap child but it was better for everyone involved to purchase a seat for both our toddler and our infant. We have four seats and I used to help me pick out a good seating arrangement. I looked for seat row near the wing (where engine noise would be helpful for kids’ sleep) and my children and I took up the row of three seats (baby sat in the carseat at the window seat, toddler sat in the aisle seat, I sat in between the two children), while my husband sat across the aisle from my toddler. He was also able to grab things out of the bag and grab snacks when needed more easily than I can. My baby slept much better in the carseat than she could on my lap!

Picking a good itinerary and try to get a 1.5 to 2 hour layover where possible.
The trend in domestic air travel is to squeeze out many services and amenities so having a longer layover in between connecting flights so that you can grab a bite to eat, change a diaper, or walk around a bit can make a big difference. Our first flight was changed to leave later than previously booked, which gave us a 45 minute layover. I was not able to change the itinerary as the options are few so we kept our fingers crossed. Our flight was pretty much on time but we still barely made our connecting flight at Dallas Fort Worth Airport because we were given the wrong gate number on top of having to run to a different terminal to catch the connecting flight. The flight did not have any snacks other than crackers for sale (not even a sandwich!) so we were not able to eat a dinner. Skipping a meal is hard on a breastfeeding mom as is and combine that with air travel and it is just plain unpleasant.

Pack the necessities and carry-ons wisely.
Most airlines now charge for every checked luggage, and if you go over on the weight you will pay hefty fees. We travelled with two large wheeled luggage, one wheeled carry-on,two diaper bags, a backpack, a purse, and an Ergo baby carrier. We used an umbrella stroller (our Uppababy G-Luxe with a stroller bag). The stroller bag became our extra checked luggage on our return trip as we became laden with Christmas presents for the children. We had more flexibility when it comes to carry-ons due to the fact that we purchased seats for our children and the airlines tend to be nice about diaper bags, but still when you are traveling with two young children (and carrying an infant carseat) it is best to carry as few as possible. We elected to purchase a CARES harness instead of carrying an additional convertible carseat for the toddler and purchased a convertible carseat sent to the grandparents. It was a lot easier to use the harness than deal with the hassle of the additional larger carseat and gave us flexibility in seating arrangements. On one flight, we had the toddler and Dad sit in the next row behind myself and the baby, with the toddler also sitting at a window seat. Most of the flights had the toddler sitting next to mom, though. Having his teddy bear, a few choice snacks, a book he enjoys, a portable DVD player, and a small collection of good DVDs really helped my toddler behave exceptionally well on these flights. He didn’t even kick any seats!

Focus on your children’s safety and comfort; ignore “other people.”
My children behaved well, better than I expected, and for that I am very proud. That said, there are always people who might roll their eyes or complain even if you have not done anything wrong. I was focused on my children so I really hardly noticed other people’s attitudes, except for the lady who complained to the flight attendant. The lady who sat in front of my daughter on the flight complained to the flight attendant that she could not recline her seat because of my rear-facing infant car seat being in the way and wanted the carseat moved as my baby was sleeping in it. I explained that the seat had to be used rear-facing and per airline regulations it has to be at the window seat. Ultimately, the flight attendant asked another passenger who sat on the aisle seat in front of my son if they could switch seats so that she can recline her seat.

There are also other families and other friendly folks on the plane.
Before embarking on the trip, I did a lot of research and there are plenty of articles and comments that will intensify the fear of flying with children. For every person who hates you for bringing your children, there are more that are nice, helpful, or neutral. I want to go on record to say that there are plenty of people who are nice and helpful to me while on this trip. One lady made my day when she told me that she thinks I am doing an awesome job with my children. Two men on the parking shuttle helped me move my stroller with toddler off the bus. A few other people even asked if they could help me out carrying something, or encouragingly told me I was doing OK as I walked down the airplane aisle trying to not hit anyone with my diaper bag or my baby.

I learned a lot about my children, myself, and my partner on this trip. The experience brought us closer. I am very proud of my children and even a little proud of myself and my husband too.


Good Resources:

Flying with Babies, Toddlers, and Kids

Jet With Kids

Have Baby Will Travel





Personal Strategies

New Domesticity and Women’s Liberation

elena-lu /Foter

Recently an article in the Washington Post by Emily Matchar called “The new domesticity: Fun, empowering, or a step back for American women” seems to have set off soem strong reactions from both working women and stay at home mother persuasion. I find the article, as well as the two strong reactive posts it inspired to be amusing, as both seem to me to be from completely different perspectives, though both find the original article offensive and appalling. It piqued my interest enough to look into this idea of domesticity.

A quick Google search landed me at one of my favorite references, Wikipedia, under the entry “Cult of Domesticity”:

The Cult of Domesticity or Cult of True Womanhood[a] was a prevailing value system among the upper and middle classes during the jaguar century in the United States[1]and Great Britain. Although all women were supposed to emulate this ideal of womanhood, it was assumed that only white women could live up to the ideal.[2][3] Similarly,working class women who had to leave the domestic sphere to pursue paid employment, were regarded as unfeminine.[4]

According to the ideals of the cult of domesticity, women were supposed to embody perfect virtue in all senses. The women who abided by and promoted these standards were generally literate and lived in the Northeastern United States, particularly New York and Massachusetts. Women were put in the center of the domestic sphere and were expected to fulfill the roles of a calm and nurturing mother, a loving and faithful wife, and a passive, delicate, and virtuous creature. These women were also expected to be pious and religious, teaching those around them by their Christian beliefs, and expected to unfailingly inspire and support their husbands.

Holy Moly. When I started writing this blog I had no idea that the word domesticity is so loaded! So glad I didn’t name this blog anything with that term in the name, because this blog is definitely not about “extreme domesticity” or any retro hipster nostalgia for times when beatniks lives in hippies communes and bohemian women raised chickens, if that is what they did (or I might be thinking of Michael Fitzsimmons from Peggy Sue Got Married).

History has definitely seen much association of domesticity as women’s occupation, in the capacity of wife and mother. Much of this was promoted by society, government, and women’s magazines. What is considered the pink ghetto and structural obstacles for women today were once jobs previously held by men until women were liberated from their domestic domain. Still, women still take on most of the domestic work, even when both men and women work. Maybe we are not so liberated after all.

For my part I have no interest in going back and doing things the old fashioned way. I remember being taught how to do the laundry by hand on a washboard — it is the reason I love my washing machine and dryer. I remember being taught how to cook using a fan and a coal stove — for this reason, I love my small kitchen and its small oven and gas stove. I remember learning how to sew on my grandmother’s foot-powered sewing machine, and it is the reason I am so impressed with my computerized Bernina. I love all my kitchen gadgets — food processor, mixer, and slow cooker because of the convenience it gives me. I have NO INTEREST WHATSOEVER in going back and doing things the old fashioned way; I prefer and want to do things as a modern person. I love my iPhone, iPad, and computer that I use everyday as a modern stay-at-home mother and housewife. I will continue to use these modern tools even after I stop being a stay-at-home housewife.

I don’t know if I will ever get into canning, homesteading, homeschooling, or even gardening. I might explore those things if I ever manage to get things under control in my household enough to have additional time and mental space. However, I know that knitting is not just for ladies, and cooking is not exclusively women’s work. I grew up thinking that cooking was a man’s job because chefs are men. Staying at home is not only for mothers, it can be a choice for fathers as well, even though its level of acceptance can vary in different societies and countries. Marrying for love and affection is a modern evolution in human existence as well.

Modern homemaking is different than “new domesticity” because its revolves around modern family, modern marriage, and modern living. This is what my blog is about.