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Entries in cleaning (8)


5 Solutions to the Stuffed Animal Problem

We have a stuffed animal problem that grows every year when we go to the Jersey shore.

image credit lindr6580 via SXC

You see The Mister loves to play the claw games. And he loves to win stuffed animals for the girls.

The other day I posted on my Facebook wall that I cannot believe we are in the year 2012 and we STILL do not have a good solution for all those stuffed animals.

Friends commented and gave ideas and lo and behold I found a few solutions that don't involve the trash bin. One rule of thumb, ALWAYS clean the stuffed animals and only offer the ones that are gently used.

1. Make a Bean Bag Chair

Maybe you have an old duvet cover, blanket, or sheet set lying around and maybe you are handy with a sewing machine so that you can sew your own giant bean bag and fill it up with all the stuffed animals. But if not, don't fear. I found something on Amazon that can be use for Stuffed Animal Storage and it has a clear panel so you can see all the animals you saved from the landfill!


2. Donate to an Animal Shelter

Someone suggested that an animal shelter might be able to use them in the animal crates as many animal rescue groups ask for old blankets and things.  I reached out to our local Humane Society and got this response.

Hello Janine,

Thank you for thinking of the animals! If the toys are in fairly good condition, they could be donated to our thrift store, Wagging Tails, to be resold and raise funds for the humane society.

So, while they aren't going to give them to the animals, they will resell them and the money raised will help the animals.


3. Donate them to the local police who often give them to kids during domestic situations

I contacted our local county police through twitter and they replied that YES, infact they do take them!

4. Call every single shelter, food bank, and family assistance center - one of them will say yes

I assumed that just because one shelter I called didn't want used stuffed animal, None of them did. I figured it was a safety / health thing. I figured wrong. I contacted A Wider Circle as referred to me by my friend Julia at Forty Weeks. I've heard of A Wider Circle and I know friends that have donated furniture to them, but I did not consider they would take stuffed animals.

I received this reply to my email:

Hi Janine -

Thank you for asking.  We can take these - and thank you for offering to wash them.  That makes a big difference.  


So, if you want to up your chances of a local charity or shelter taking your stuffed animals off your hands...offer to wash them.  And then DO present them with clean ones.


5. Hold a Yard Sale or Use Freecycle

Now, in al honesty I've had no luck even GIVING away stuffed animals at my yard sale. Infact, the last time I actually insisted that if someone wants to make a purchase they had to take a stuffed animal with them.

I'm not kidding.

But other people have had success so I had to include it.

I HAVE had success with Freecycle and I encourage everyone to try it.

Go to and search for a group in your area. Then read the rules and follow them before posting. I've been able to find new homes for things I would otherwise trash... broken fishing rods (yes, broken), old furniture, clothing, and more.


Have another idea? Leave a comment or a link to your ideas!



Christmas clean up complete and I'm reminded why some go for the fake trees

I HATE cleaning up Christmas.

As if it's not bad enough that the house looks bare, the lights get all tangled in the tree, and I can't get everything to pack up in the same bins!

We then have to wrestle the tree out of the house.

Only to be left with...

Christmas,Christmas tree,holidays,cleaning


What do you hate about cleaning up after the holidays?



Here kitty, kitty, kitty

If you were my neighbor you would have heard a lot of this the past week:


"Booooooo booooo!"

{shake, shake, shake, shake}

That's because our cat has been missing for a week.

He's not a big cat to begin with. Infact he's rather small and scrawny and skittish. We never imagined he would have ventured far. So for the past week we kept checking our surrounding neighbors' decks, bushes, and calling his name while shaking his cat food.

And the truth is...

Sometimes in the past year I've wished we had no pets.

When this one got out we considered (birefly) letting the other one out to 'find' him.

But I just couldn't.

And as much as I tried not to let it bother me, I missed Frankie.

For all the bitching and moaning I've done having to clean up cat puke and cat poop because they are having issues going into their twilight years....I love them.

And I missed having this little furball keep my lap warm while I work.

And I missed having to trick him out of my room when I go to bed at night (knowing he'll only wake me up too early in the morning).

And the other cat, Sampson, started to seem really needy and sad so I think he missed him too.

And around day 6 it started to REALLY bother me to the point of tears.

The kids were getting sad about it too. We posted a sign with his picture and our phone number.

And yesterday we got a call that someone about a half mile away had seen him...fighting with her cat.

Uh oh.

I was just getting used to cleaning out the littler box only once a week!

I was just getting used to not having to toss a cat off my lap during an important conference call!

But I got all heart-tingly when I heard my kitty might still be alive....and fighting!

So we hopped in the car armed with his food bowl, treats, a towel, a pet carrier, and my cell phone.

And we found him.

And now he's curled up in my lap as I type this.

Where he belongs.

Until he pukes.




Spring Cleaning for the clearing house

My house has become a clearing house of sorts.

I have hand-me-downs coming in (read here how the Twofer fight over them), I have hand-me-downs going out to friends with younger kids, and I have hand-me-downs waiting in the wings to be used.

And then...I have HMDs (hand-me-downs) that come back to me from the friends with younger kids.

Twice a year I have to take inventory. This year I'm going to sell some of the HMDs and toys at a local consignment sale. This will require a little more organization on my part but I KNOW it will be well worth it.

Step 1: collect what you want to sell

For me this is the stuff that has been returned from friend with younger kids and that's in good shape. It also means toys the Twofer have fully outgrown and that I'd rather not keep for young visitors...I can't keep it all now can I.

Step 2: sort by age, size, and season

It's almost Spring so anything Fall or Winter will get put back to be sold in September. Yes, this means YET another bag but I can deal with it later. Procrastination isn't such a bad thing. All the Spring clothing looks like this:

spring clothes sorted for consignment

and I've started a lovely pile in my foyer of toys, gear, etc that looks like this:

toys, water safety, roller skates and more for consignment

Step 3: price and label items

For yard sales I stage everything in my garage and have colorful dot stickers where I write the price so people know what to pay where to start haggling. For this consignment sale they've got a very cool online system where you enter information for each item (price, size, description, if you want to donate it after the end of the sale) and then you print out a label with a bar code. uses bar code system for tagging

The hardest thing is knowing how to price items. Go here to get an idea of where to start with pricing items and keep in mind what you would pay if you found the item at a yard or consignment sale. For larger items I've done better (made more money) selling them on Craigslist. For smaller items I'm hoping the sale will help me get rid of most of my inventory while still making a little money.

wood work bench and roller skated priced and tagged for consignment

Step 4: get rid of it

Now you are all set to either sell it at a yard sale, at a rummage sale (ie: where the proceeds go to the church hosting it) or consignment sale.

You can also list it on ebay or CraigsList.

Or donate it! You can easily add up the value to use on the donation receipt.

And leave me a comment letting me know where you get rid of your stuff and how. Tips and tricks are appreciated!


Disclosure: I have a working relationship with Tot Swap that is separate from my blog. All opinions are my own and this post was neither reviewed nor approved by Tot Swap prior to being published.


I survived....two weeks without a dishwasher


You know that show, "I survived" on Biography where people tell the stories where they survived car crashes and getting lost in the snow for a month or getting kidnapped by the Mexican mafia?

I think there needs to be a show for the rest of us who have survived things that are not life-threatending, but no less painful, scary, and challenging (ok, maybe a little less).

Like, for instance, I have one friend who survived 9 hours on a plane sitting on the runway with a 2 year old!

I have another friend who survived a horrifying overnight bus trip with her two young girls from DC to Florida.

And most recently I survived 2 weeks without my dishwasher!

Here's how I managed...

1. Rubber gloves - to avoid dry, chapped, sore hands

2. GOOD dishsoap like Clorox Greenworks and Dawn - both of these cut grease and get that baked-on stuff to come off

3. Stay on top of it - don't let the entire day's worth of dishes pile up. I tried to do them at least twice a day.

4. Plastic cups - as much as I hated using them, it saved me a lot of time not having to wash every single glass and cup we used. We did reuse a water glass for the day but the girls are always grabbing milk or juice and I just couldn't keep washing their cups.

5. Assign other chores - because emptying the dishwasher is one of the chorse assigned to the Twofer, they had it easy and I had it rough the last two weeks. It wasn't worth it to have them put the dishes away because we just kept reusing the ones as I cleaned them.  What I did do was assign other chores to them to fill that time so they don't forget the still have a role in this family.

Have you survived something lately? I would love to hear how you got through it!