Saturday, September 17, 2011

Preparing for a Garage Sale?

At about the same period last year, we were busy preparing for a Garage Sale before finally moving in another country. I've been keen on doing this even before I finally had a legitimate reason to have one but I didn't enough stash to make for an interesting garage sale. We usually have a few clothes, some toys here and there, books that I end up donating to charity.

Kyla took the responsibility of arranging the toys for the sale

Moving and the anticipation of living in a smaller space forced us to learn to part with our material belongings. We simply cant take it all. As I was sorting and labelling the stuff, I realized that letting go wasn't difficult after all. You simply cant hold on to your belongings forever unless you want to end up being a storage museum.

While watching episodes of Clean House, I realized that keeping things tidy is just one part of the challenge; the most difficult part is learning to let go of material possessions. Some people like holding on to too many material things in this life I guess. We made a conscious effort to embrace minimalism as we move to a new space, so all abubots (knick knacks) ought to go. And so, the garage sale was set into motion.

Here are the usual stuff that you may consider dumping into the garage sale...
1. All clothes, shoes, accessories and bags that you have not worn in the last 12 months ought to go; unless these are costumes that is worn once a year. If it's an old fashion trend and you want to save it, forget it. Trends do get recycled too so you'll be able to buy something of its likeness someday. Trust me.

2. All toys wear their novelty sooner or later. I make it a point to trim down the toys every year, garage sale or not. We donate them at the least so that some child can enjoy it as well. We only keep less than 10 old toys that are memorable and worthy to keep. But certainly not a closetfull.

3. I initially found it so hard to part with my books, booklets and magazines but I had to. To control this, I only maintain 1 bookshelf today. If it gets full, it means I have to start trimming them down.

4. Glasswares etc.  Unless you intend to set up a carinderia (food stall), do you really need several dozens of glasses, plates, dessert plates, bowls, etc etc?After sorting, we kept only two sets of good quality dinnerware and special edition glasses. If we'll have a huge party, I'm not crazy enough to be laboring over several dozens of plates for dishwashing... I'll hire a caterer. So off with the excess plates and glasses!

5. Ceramics, souvenirs etc etc can go! I'm not really a fan of these ceramic thingies.They gather dusts and they create clutter over time. I know that some folks like collecting ceramic statuettes for display. I don't. I can probably with a few good classy pieces, but not one too many!

6. Miscellaneous plastic bins.

7. Electronic items that you will no longer use.

Here are some tips when planning for a garage sale:

1. Make sure you have enough room to display the items for sale and for people to oggle and move around.

2. Label all items with your retail price. This will save you answering a thousand questions through out the day. Be prepared that folks may haggle. My prices are generously low when we had a garage sale so no one actually haggled for a lower price (DVD Player for Php200?). Be prepared to adjust the price for items that are not moving. Most likely you priced it too high.

3. Group together your items and arealize the goods. I had a section for clothes hung in a rack, bags, shoes stacked in shoe racks, books, toys, cookware and glasswares are on top of a sturdy table, and so on.

Some of these clothes were actually new...

It was also Kyla's idea to display the water bottles in a row.
By this time, most of the glasswares have been cleared.

4. Assign one person to be your cashier. I did this job while Kyla holds the cash box.

5. Make sure you advertise well in advance so that you can expect to move a lot of your stuff fairly well.

Our neighbors came very early- and got the good buys.
We sold this unused wall fan and a couple of DVD players for a steal!

6. Consider bundling small items as one package so that it's easier to sell them. I had a make up kit with accessories, trinkets, relatively fresh nail polish and hair accessories for only Php20. I also bundled several small stuff toys for only Php10.

Another idea from Kyla....
Halloween was approaching then so the pumpkin totes were a sold easily.

7. The prices have to be really cheap if you want to dispose items quickly, like in our case.
8. Have fun!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Streets of Shanghai

I have been to China many times over but never really had enough time to walk around and soak in the cultural waters of one the greatest ancient civilizations in the world. I visited Shanghai, China during my packaging stint when the Global Customization team went to Asia.

Shanghai is a bustling metropolitan city in China, littered with skyscrapers that are headquarters to many regional and global corporate behemoths. But what caught my history loving eye is the blend of old world and new world charm.

I was able to pack in quite a heck of a Shanghai street tour in one morning on the day of my flight back. Here are the interesting places from the Streets of Shanghai...

The Oriental Pearl Tower was the tallest structure in China from 1999-2007 before it was surpassed by the Shanghai World Financial Center and the Jin Mao Tower, both in Shanghai. The ground floor serves as a Museum of the History of Shanghai. I definitely did not skip the opportunity to tour the museum.

The Shanghai Oriental Pearl Tower.
The ground floor serves as a Museum showcasing the History of Shanghai. 
Further down town is The Bund (or a Quay) which is a section of Shanghai facing the mile long stretch of the historic Huang Pu River. On one side you can view the Shanghai skyscrapers while the other side are historic buildings with breathtaking Gothic, Baroque, Romanesque and Neo-classical architecture. If it were not for my flight, I can just stroll there all day long.

View of the skyscrapers overlooking Huang Pu River.
It was mid morning yet very breezy on this side of the town.

This is The Bund. Makes you feel like you are in Paris or Rome (or UST Main Building) in this district.
The Customs House and the Hongkong and Shanghai Bank are in the background. This is breathtaking at night.

The Yuyuan Garden was built in 1559 during the reign of Emperor Ming Jiajing as a private garden of the Sichuan province administrator. This is an enclosed area of about two hectares and you can find various Pagodas and cultural relics. There area also Pearl shops within the area and I was able to buy one at a very good bargain!

One of the Pagodas at Yuyuan Garden

The Museum of History of Shanghai is a joy to explore (if you are a history buff). It showcases a wax museum for a lifelike rendition of life in Shanghai from early civilization and pre-colonial days, the British colony period when electric cars and horse drawn carriage ruled downtown, and finally the modern world.

3D exhibit of The Bund

Once a fishing and textile town in the east coast of China, Shanghai is now dubbed as one of Asia's Global City-- the center of finance, commerce, business and technology in Asia. A walk along the streets of Shanghai made me feel that despite the grandeur of being a modern world city pretty much like Hong Kong, Tokyo and Singapore, the ancient traces and spirit of this genteel city remains tenacious and alive!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Oldest and Dearest from My Book Stash (or what's left of it)

Eventhough I love books, I have to trim down my book collection everysooften due to space limitations. In our Sta. Rosa home, we had a custom built wall mounted book shelf enough to hold a considerable volume of books to last a lifetime. Condo-living entailed we only have space for 1 bookshelf which is 75% full by now (and 75% are Kyla's own book collection). And I am not yet succumbing soon to the seduction of Kindle and tablet readers. Call me old fashioned in that area. I tried the e-books during the Palm Pilot era and it catapulted my eye grading to 500.

I have a handful of books from many years ago that are still part and parcel of my book stash wherever I go. From our Rizal hometown to our first home in Makati City to Laguna and til date. I have given away, donated and sold most of my books but these are simply the dearest of them all.

The Mythology by Edith Hamilton was a required reading in Literature during my junior high years. This  was my original book from high school. The book cover still had the date when I purchased the book (October 6, 1989) and still had the original plastic cover which is partly dilapidated by now. We took up the Olympian gods and goddessess, and the Trojan War. But I read the entire book anyway. I love this book because it gives you an insight on the great storytelling from early civilizations when life was still a mystery shrouded by superstitions, supernatural or even paganistic beliefs often confused with religion and simplistic rendition of why life was the way it was. The latest paperback no longer carries the same cover picture of Perseus holding Medusa's head.

A good substitute for the Gregorio Zaide history book

I love history books, especially that of the Spanish era. Perhaps in previous life I lived in the Spanish colonial-era Manila which explains my affinity for history. I also have books about America and Europe- not the school textbooks- but the kind that gives you an unapologetic glimpse of history and its glaring realities. The Old Manila is good read because it packs a punch despite the slim volume and is insightful and comprehensive. I also bought a coffee table book about the History of Manila and it's nearby cities and provinces. We cannot live in the past but we must not forget our past either - we must learn from the lessons of history and use it to influence a better future. Sadly, not al lot of our youth really likes history.

My book Europe 101 had an interesting closing anecdote about geopolitical history, economics and a daring prediction about modern age social justice and what it means for the First and the Third World.  It cited a quote from the 1979 best seller "The Future in Our Hands" and after that I'm hooked. Made me think hard and deep. I must find that book.

The book "Who Moved My Cheese?" was given to me by my manager Rohan Murkunde in 2000. There were about 5 of us in his team and we were about to face a huge change in our career- moving from R&D to Product Supply. The book is about adapting with change. I did not have a lot of drawbacks going through that episode of my life because a feeling somewhere in my gut circa 1998 tells me that moving to the Plant is my fate. But this book gave me the wisdom that we should not cease looking for the signs that foretells significant change that is about to happen.

Pride and Prejudice is a hand me down book from my friend Nats. Love story from the 19th century par excellence. What I loved most about it is that heroine is actually a feisty, speak-before-you-think, no non-sense young lady. It is inspiring that even though we are centuries apart, there were already liberal minded women who are ahead of their time! They are the true femme fatale!

The book by John Maxwell 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader was a gift by my then manager Carlos Morales, given to me during my early years as a young manager with subordinates for the first time. This book had a lasting impact on me and shaped by beliefs, thinking and convictions as a leader. In latter years, I used quotations from this book as part of the trainings I gave to my organization.

I was fortunate to receive the book "Now, Discover Your Strengths" as a gift twice. One was from my former manager in packaging days, Suhas Potnis and the second one was from my friend Ed Macias. This is one powerful book that changed the way I looked at strengths and the so-called weaknesses. It enabled me to discover strengths at its most fundamental level. Years later when I moved from one role to another in my career, I have used the wisdom I learned from this book to help guide me on which path to go based on my strengths. On moments of doubt, I read this book again to reaffirm on what I know I should be holding on to.

"The Best of Youngblood' is a compilation of stories from twenty-something Filipino writers and wannabe writers in the early 90s. I bought it when I was at that age bracket so you can say it is the literature of my generation (Gen-X). It is the many facets of the youth from Generation X. By now, some of them are working moms like me, some are still enjoying the freedom of being single, some are probably torn in between, and some are still searching for themselves true to Gen-X tienes tienes (coloqial for fluff). If you have read the book or if you are a true Gen X-er, you will understand what I mean.

The poignant opening story from the book Chicken Soup for Children with Special Needs
One of the most heartwarming book I have ever owned- Chicken Soup for Childen with Special Needs. This is the only Chicken Soup book left to me, obviously the closest to my heart. I read it one story at a time. Most stories are poignant, each story is inspiring and leaves you a feeling of connectedness to millions of others whom I have never met but we are linked together by a common special bond. The opening story "Welcome to Holland" sent me to tears for its truthful evocation of every mother and child's journey. I still cry whenever I read the opening story eventhough I've read it a hundred times.

Similarly the book "The Curious Incident of the Dog at Midnight" gives you an insight of how the mind of a person with autism perceives his world around him. How he thinks, how he processes what he sees, what he hears and how he will react accordingly. It enlightened me as to how my son apparently looks at the world from his eyes.

I encountered the book "The Five People You Meet in Heaven" while reading the Chicken Soup for Children with Special Needs. It is thought provoking to say the least and there are just so many unforgettable quotes and passages that makes you ponder. "Endings are also beginnings. You just don't know it at that time." And yes, it got me thinking who are the five people that will greet me when I die. Knowing my life, I can already surely tell at least one of the five.