Memories, Keepsakes and Cardboard Boxes

When my grandmother passed away it went the way this type of things go: bitter sweet. We know that it’s coming with our grandparents, and we can be prepared to a certain extent. Then, when it happens, it will still be surprising and heartbreaking but not the same as when it happens with someone that is young. My grandmother was my best friend, and I’m not saying that to be generous.

I hung out with her on the weekends and talked to her on the phone when I was driving. We sent each other silly cards in the mail. I asked for her advice and she told me stories about times that seemed impossible. She willed her house to me, and everything in it, and suddenly all of my life, the entire time I had known my grandmother, became a wall of cardboard boxes. The dishes that I had grown up using. The housecoats she wore over her dresses. The sewing materials. It was all packed into cardboard boxes.


I didn’t know what to do with it. I knew I couldn’t make a choice right then. At the time, I felt like I could never part from anything. I knew that I would have to wait until a season of my life where I had moved on from the pain and sense of loss. That season didn’t come when I got married, or when my husband and I bought our first home. To be sure it was all part of the process; it was all leading me along. My husband, bless his heart, was so patient with me, helping lug all of those cardboard boxes every time we moved.

He never once pressured me to open them. He never once scolded me for keeping them. Finally, the season came, and with it brought the arrival of our daughter. Throughout the pregnancy, I felt my grandmother’s presence as strongly as if she was with me again. Finally, I felt the compulsion to move on from being the granddaughter so that I could become a mother.

All of those cardboard boxes came opening wide, all of my childhood and my grandmother’s life came spilling out, and I found myself eating on those dishes again, and sewing those old housecoats into a quilt for my baby. Some of the items were donated to a good cause, and some of them entered seamlessly back into my world, as if they had been there all along.

Plastic Shipping Bags and Other Helpful Shipping Suggestions

I recently discovered the amazing invention of plastic shipping bags. This has more or less revolutionized things for me. As the owner of a small business, specifically one that is currently being run out of my home, I am always looking for new ways and ideas to either save money or provide a better service. It’s even better when I can do both at the same time, and this is what I found in plastic shipping bags. Allow me to explain:

  • I can buy plastic shipping bags in bulk. This not only saves me money but it allows me to have a constant supply on hand without fear of running out. I know how long my supply will last me, and I can order ahead of time so that the next couple weeks, or months, will run just as smoothly.
  • I can buy multiple varieties of plastic shipping bags. Buying in bulk is an amazing asset to any business owner. At the same time, having plenty of options is not so much a preference as it is a necessity. When using a product that best compliments the product you are trying to sell, or deal with, you are paying the proper respect to both your product and your customer. Using packaging or shipping materials that are either too small or too big speaks of a lack of professionalism, or a lack of resources. No one needs to know that my business is run out of my guest bedroom because I try to make everything look as official as possible. If it looks like I’m using supplies from my craft closet no one is going to take me seriously.
  • Plastic shipping bags offer added protection to my product. I admit that my sales were quite a bit less before I discovered these bad mammajammas. Sometimes I was getting complaints from customers who were saying that my product had leaked or broken somewhere in transit. Maybe it was the fault of the delivery guy, or maybe it was even the fault of the customer and they just wanted to get their money back. Regardless, I needed to make sure that I had done everything possible on my end. Since I started using the proper packaging and shipping supplies my sales have increased and I have more and more return customers.

Granted, hindsight is twenty/twenty, and there are some things that you have to learn the hard way. The important thing is that I am actually learning, and taking what I’m learning to heart. I think that is what produces success, whether or not you own a business or just in everyday life.

Everyday Items to Use as Packing Supplies

Most of us have to pack up and move at least once in our lives, even if it’s just getting married and settling down right across the street from where we grew up (which is certainly not how it’s happened for me, but it has for some). At the same time, most of us don’t have the luxury of being able to afford all of those extra amenities available which make the moving process a lot less painful than it is. Because, let’s face it, even though it sounds pretty simple and straight forward, it’s just not.

Packaging Materials with String

Things always go wrong, and they always take a heck of a lot longer than we think they will. One of the biggest stressors is packing supplies. Yes, I said packing supplies. Because it turns out that when you want to start packing they don’t just appear before you in a nice little bundle. They wind up being incredibly expensive and I wind up finding out that I am a poor judge of size because I need to go back to the store a good four or five times to get more boxes or tape. I have compiled a short list of “moving hacks” consisting primarily of everyday items that can be used as packing supplies:

  • coming in at number one is garbage bags. Hands down. Without a doubt. These are absolutely perfect to stuff with everything in the linen closet. You may have to do a bit of refolding during the unpacking process, but that’s okay. Write on them with a sharpie: sheets, pillows, towels… And the best part is that you can still use the garbage bags if they don’t get destroyed in the move (and if they do, oh well, they are just garbage bags!).
  • coming in at number two is…wait for it… garbage bags! That’s right, twice in a row, and for good reason. If you are like me than you hate packing clothes because of hangers and then rehanging. Take a garbage bag and, while leaving everything still hanging, just slide it up over a section of clothes and tie it off right under the hangar hook. Voila! The clothes stay clean, the hooks make for easy carrying, the unpacking process is virtually nonexistent and, you guessed it, you can still use the garbage bags!

Packing Supplies

I’m going to stop there, because hopefully I’ve gotten the idea ball rolling a little bit for you. The next time you need to move take a minute to brainstorm and come up with ways to transform what you already have on hand into packing supplies.

Cardboard Storage Boxes Can Help You Stay Organized

There is a friend of mine who has a ton of kids. When I say she has a ton of kids, I really mean it. I’m not even going to tell you how many, but I will say that it’s in the double digits. And less than forty. I know for myself, with two children, that our need for storage did not simply double, since the number of people in our home doubled, it quadrupled and then doubled that. Somehow a couple boxes from the glory days became a lot easier to go through.

Cardboard Storage Boxes

Throwing out CDs we hadn’t listened to in over a decade was actually a grateful task. With each box that we went through it was a grumble and a groan over what kind of garbage we were going to stumble across. So the tote of CDs was a no-brainer: trash! In the place of all of those boxes of paraphernalia and meaningless momentos went “baby stuff”. And then “more baby stuff”, and then “baby stuff for girls” next to “baby stuff for boys”. Suddenly, we found ourselves having to organize by months, and then years, and then stuff they couldn’t fit into anymore and stuff that they wouldn’t be able to wear for a while still.

The need for a highly organized system became crucial. This is where my friend with the buttload of kids comes in. She uses cardboard storage boxes for all of her storage needs, which is obviously much more intense than my own. Notice that I said “cardboard storage boxes” and not plastic totes or bins. There are a couple reasons for this. For one, she doesn’t like anything clear so that the kids can see what is going on in there and want to investigate. For another, the cardboard storage boxes are a lot easier to deal with.


They are a uniform size, easy to stack tightly. With the plastic ones- there is a lot of space in between and behind that doesn’t get used. One of the most hidden but probably most important benefits of going the “paper” route is that you are sticking to manageable sizes and that means they won’t get too heavy.

Those plastic bins come in some ginormous sizes, and you wind up needing upwards of three people to move them sometimes. When you go with cardboard storage boxes you find yourself doing a job that you can handle on your own. Oh, one last tip: write the contents of the box on an index card, and put it in an envelope taped to the front.

The Thing About Bin Liners

Some bins work best with bin liners (like refrigerator bins… Google these if you have never never heard of them before. I hadn’t until very recently, but everything changed since then.). Some bins require bin liners (like trash bins. I guess they could probably go under the first category, but no one really just throws trash in cans anymore without a bag, and that’s because the result is nasty and disgusting).

Some bins don’t need bin liners at all. Consider Tupperware bins, or the Rubbermaid kind. Bins that don’t need the plastic reinforcement because they are secure enough and strong enough to protect whatever they are holding. In the case of my home, it’s going to be clothes that are too big for my kids (labelled Boy 5T winter, or Girl 24 mos. summer).

Bin Liners1

If it’s not stuff for them to grow into it’s what they’ve already grown out of: baby 0-12 mos., and baby gear- tub, wraps, bottles, etc. This is what my basement looks like. My basement also has a litter box, which I should really start buying liners for. And my basement also has a tote full of catfood, that I should also get some sort of liner for because even though it is in a plastic container something about it still attracts bugs and we have facilitated the start of some sort of small beetle colony somewhere in the vicinity. Not that I’m complaining.

I used to live in an apartment on the ground floor, a really crappy place, it was so drafty that we couldn’t even tape up those plastic sheets around the windows in the colder months because the wind coming through the cracks would blow it down. Insane, I tell you. Also, the grass grew to over one foot tall before it was cut, and it was not uncommon to almost step on a rabbit or a freaking snake on your way out to the car. The point is, though, that this crappy apartment had an ant problem, and the ants congregated to the cat food. Poor thing couldn’t even eat because her food was crawling…

The thing about bin liners is that they can be super helpful and handy, like in the case of the ones for the refrigerator, which work some kind of miracle in preserving fruits and vegetables. They can be considered a household staple slash necessity if you are like a normal household and believe in putting your garbage in a protected can. Whatever the case, there are a plethora to choose from, and they each have their own story and purpose. Just like everything else on this place, for goodness sake.