Monday, December 15, 2014

complacency

Last week I had a really hard time with my two a day plan. I just kept thinking--maybe I'm at a plateau, maybe I'm at a place where I'm comfortable with the amount of clutter. Maybe I don't see it as clutter. And then we got a new TV for Christmas.

Now the old TV is OLD. Like so old hat it weights 4 tons and all the donation places (Goodwill, Salvation army, local resale shop) won't take it. And I am not keeping it--instead I think I'm going to wait until large trash pickup and set it on the curb. I'm guessing someone will take it.

The new TV is not fancy (it is smaller than you'd want to steal, so don't bother), but in order to get my VCR hooked up to it (yes you did hear that--I LOVE my VCR), as well as the cable box that used to sit on TOP of the TV, we had to juggle the equipment. And they didn't all fit on our tv stand. So my husband and I dragged up our entertainment center from the basement (where it was acting as shelves for water and pop) only to discover that the tv would not fit. (rectangle in a square spot). So suddenly I had to really investigate if we wanted to keep all this.

And suddenly I felt like we had a LOT of clutter. A lot I did not want to have anymore. And big stuff too. A tv, an entertainment center, a computer that is so old and several videotapes, cds and dvds, and cords and wires.

Then we set up the Christmas tree. Whoa, did I have a lot of Christmas stuff that I don't want or need. Christmas themed dishcloths! Candles! and weird ornaments that I'm not sure where they came from. I also have outside lights that I have NEVER used. (I hate ladders). And as I discovered at Halloween, our outside outlet doesn't work. So, I'm going to try hanging them inside. If it works and we like it--they stay, if not--gone.

I'd love to say that everything is settled, but that's hardly the case. The guest room is full of stuff that needs to make it out of the house, the garage has an entertainment center in it, and my donation bag for the library is FULL. But it did shake me up and out of my complacency and that is a good thing.

Friday, December 5, 2014

confession

I have a confession to make.

I have not been very good at the two a day declutter thing lately.

Some days I do really well. I've decided to let go of rings and some unopened lip gloss, a decorative box that made my daughter go "are you sure you are ok with this?" as I encouraged her to wrap a gift in it. Even a sweater that I used to love, but somehow do not anymore is now gone.

But some days...
Some days the darkness of the day, the sadness of the news, the cruelness of people all descend on me. I want to hide in my house and be surrounded by all my stuff and never ever leave.

Those are the bad days. Those are the days I can't bear to get rid of things because it will force me to examine myself more closely, when all I want to do is hide.

So, I've been taking it easy on myself. I do think about decluttering every day. I find myself noticing that I am much better than I was a year ago. I see my friends and acquaintances struggling with their clutter and I am really glad I took this project on.
Side note--two ladies from my book club are moving. One has lived in her house for 40 years, the other has been in her house 46 years. Hearing them talk about the boxes and boxes of things they were throwing out made me feel mixed. On one hand, I kinda wanted their stuff. On the other, I felt a little smug because it wasn't me. Because if I moved, I would get rid of things sure--but not nearly as much as I would have last year at this time.

I'm also finding myself really really conflicted about the holidays coming up. What does a person who has decided to remove the excess from their life want for Christmas? Every time I try to come up with a "wish list" (I've been asked!) I can really only think of things I DON'T want. I don't want more stuff I won't use.

So yeah, it isn't a fun place to be right now. I'm pushing through though because I really can see the difference. I guess that the obvious no longer jumps out at me, means that it may be time to take a second, harder look at things--and right now I do not have the energy for it.

Friday, November 14, 2014

gifts

I made a trip to my donation center today. And I thought to take some before and after pics. So here is before: before

And her eis after--although I was lazy and did the top of the stairs.
after

You might notice that there are some things left behind, mainly a small red box and a framed poster of butterflies. First, I didn't designate the poster as a donation--although I should. But I bought it to decorate the nursery for my girls, and even though it fell off the wall when they were babies and woke everyone up--I still love it. The red box on the other hand...

You see the red box holds a Christmas present I got. And no not one from last year or last decade--one I got THIS year. Yes, it is not even Thanksgiving or December or anything. And guess what--I feel bad that I don't want it.

You see gifts are a hard one for me. I grew up in a family that really really treasured gifts. Gifts were very important. My mom is still very much a gift person and giving gifts must be her love language.
And don't get me wrong--I like gifts. I just like gifts I can actually use. Maybe gifts I can use up. Like food, chocolate, restaurant gift cards, coffee gift cards, heck actual coffee. What I don't like are gifts I don't need, gifts that will sit and take up space and gather dust. And while I'm sure normal people have no problem re-gifting or donating (or returning) stuff like that--I do. Well not so much returning, because then I can get stuff I can use. But honestly there is this ingrained THING in me that says--Hey you got me a gift and I should appreciate the gift because I appreciate you.

So the red box. It has a Christmas mug in it. It wasn't a mug full of anything like chocolate or a gift card. Just a mug. And I have actually gotten rid of a bunch of mugs. In fact, I have 3 mugs I should get rid of but can't because they each commemorate something. Well maybe just two--am thinking maybe I don't care about a former workplace's forced exercise event. So why did I not take this mug off to donation--even though it was sitting RIGHT there? Well first--someone GAVE this to me. They think I need this or at least they wanted me to have this. )Although the reality is probably more like--OOH holiday mugs are on SALE!) And, well..... you see I was thinking of re-gifting.

What if I put a coffee gift card in it, maybe some chocolate and gave it to a teacher? And see I could not for the life of me decide if this is a good idea or not. Wouldn't I just be giving someone else yet another mug that they would struggle with? Or would it be appreciated because of the coffee and chocolate? So here is what I decided--if it is still in the donation pile after Christmas--it goes. If it seems like a good idea when I am doing teacher gifts--it becomes a vessel for a gift.

So how about you? What does a gift mean? Could you easily give away a gift someone gave you --even if you could not use it and in fact had too many? Comment--or send me a tweet @Todaystwo.

Friday, November 7, 2014

paper

The thing is, I always forget how paper can also be clutter.

Paper seems so innocent. It is flat and smooth. You can fit a lot of it in small places. And it is useful and necessary. I mean have you ever tried to have lab work done without a lab slip--which is of course paper. Have you ever been asked for your "registration and proof of insurance"? also paper! Coupons, report cards, mother's day cards, order forms, the list goes on and on. I'm sure you can add to it!

But all that paper can add up. I mean it is easy when your new proof of insurance comes, to throw it in your glovebox. My Doctor always sends lab paperwork home with me for the following year! The kids bring home papers nearly every day from school. Paper is everywhere and some days when I look around for clutter I can easily part with, I forget about the paper. Or I feel like it doesn't count. Like say getting rid of 2 sheets of paper is not a start on eliminating clutter.

But it is. So this week, I've really focused on paper. It came across accidentally as I was making my to do list for the week (yes, I make a weekly list of all the stuff that I should do during the week--that usually has no "day" attached to it--the things that will fall through the cracks otherwise). I added: Shred checks.

See our bank was bought out by another bank, but only the branches in Michigan. So we had to get new debit cards, get new checks, and all the other things associated with changing banks. And so I had a stack of checks and two old debit cards that needed to be disposed of. So yeah, I put them on my list, sounds normal right? Up until I tell you this all happened in SEPTEMBER. So for nearly 2 months, I've had a pile of checks that I could no longer use, sitting on an end table, waiting to be shred. Well if that doesn't sound like clutter, I'm not sure what does.

But then it became this theme, what other paper do I have floating around here that I don't need? And it hit me as I added another proof of insurance card to the glove box. I have a whole compartment in my car FULL of papers. And we have two cars.

So after the checks, I decided to tackle the glove boxes. My husband's had all the usual stuff (car manual, registrations and insurance cards), plus a menu from Panera and two stale lolipops. The car I usually drive? well
before
There were four pens--do you know when the last time I was looking for a pen in my glove box. There was actually less paper than in the other car, which is amazing given this car is 6 years older--you'd think 6 more registrations, but nope. It also had more "emergency" stuff. Including two sets of screwdrivers. Um, I have no idea what to do when the car breaks except to call someone else, so why do I need screwdrivers? Plus also binoculars--but I use those. maybe. sometimes.

At any rate, I did get rid of all the expired papers, and one set of screwdrivers--figuring this is the car of family vacations, what if I need to replace batteries on a toy? or fix glasses--as I think the set I kept has tiny screwdrivers too. But I didn't need 2 for sure. So this is what went back in: after

So now I challenge you. Take a look at your spaces, your hidden places. Find that paper you don't need, and recycle that paper. It really does make the paper you NEED much easier to find. (although I'm hoping I don't need to find my registration/proof of insurance anytime soon--at least I know I can.) And yes, I give you permission to count it as cleaning or de-cluttering in whatever game you've challenged yourself with.

Friday, October 31, 2014

slump

I have a confession to make: I have been terrible at de-cluttering lately.

Not only that, I've been bringing things into the house that are like (although not exact) things I have spent a lot of time getting rid of. See, I blame it on halloween.

I love making my kids costumes, but sometimes what will happen is that I'll buy material and then I'll a) run out of time to make whatever I was going to with that or b) someone changes their mind or c) I bought too much fabric. And so then I find myself on October 31 surrounded by a bunch of things I don't need, in my now disaster of a sewing room.

I thought this year would be different. I thought I'd be better at not saving the little scraps, because I can put those in my rag donation bag. And I did, to some degree, but not enough. I thought I could re-purpose some of the leftovers, and some of the bought the wrong stuff, but I have a feeling I won't.

I MIGHT be able to handle this a little more thoughtfully, had I been keeping up with my 2 a day program. But I haven't been very good at that either. I've fallen out of the habit at the same time that it got a little more difficult. I've been through the major spaces once, gotten rid of the obvious clutter. Now I'm revisiting those spaces and making harder choices.

It was easy when I could open the linen closet and instantly see 7 bottles of body lotion I no longer used or cared for. It is much harder when you think about going through your towels and getting rid of the ones you don't need. Although maybe some things are still easy too--I recently decided I didn't need 20 bottles of sample mouthwash from the dentist. Heck, I probably don't need the 2 I kept. But overall, de-clutterign is taking more thought and energy now that I've whittled down the obvious.

AND we head into holidays, which is when I tend to accumulate stuff. This year I don't want to feel that "where do I put this" feeling when gifts arrive. But I'm not sure how to accomplish this.

How do you deal with "deep de-cluttering"? How about the holidays? Tell me about it.

I'm also on Twitter @todaystwo

Friday, October 3, 2014

Things I can't part with...

When I started this project, my best friend asked "Do you really have over 700 things you could get rid of?" and I confidently answered "yes, sadly I do." Probably the reason is because I have such real problems getting rid of things that are no longer useful.

This project has helped, because I can only think of one thing I got rid of that I wish I had kept (the hose). And I can replace that, I just haven't. It makes it a lot easier on the items that I debate over. In fact, if I had not been documenting, I'm not sure I could really even tell you what is gone. I just really don't miss it.

But...
There are still things that irrationally, I can't let go of. I have no use for them, in fact no one is using them. This was hammered home this week because I was having to "re" de-clutter the guest room (aka the dumping ground for the house). The closet had begun to overflow and the bed had stuff on it, so I went through looking for the obvious stuff that had not gotten used, putting away the things that had, and putting things where they should go. In the process, I found the Harry potter lunch box.

On the first pass through this closet, I could not get rid of it because it might be useful. On this pass, it was clear that we have way too many coolers/lunch boxes and I STILL couldn't get rid of it.
Harry potter lunch box
So why not?

Well, this represents a time in my life. My husband gave this to me the Christmas that I worked at a horrible job. I loved Harry Potter (this was 2000 and book 3 had just been published). He thought I needed something happy in the middle of my day.

And it worked. I worked there another 5 months, and then left, got a better job and happily carried this lunch box until I quit my job to stay home with my babies in 2003. I even carried it when I went back to work part-time.

Now, I don't work very far from home, I have flexible hours, and never have to take my lunch. It didn't seem fair to let ONE of my children carry this--and in any case, they both find it "babyish" and "old fashioned." I still can't part with it.

Some day I will. Some day I will realize that the good memories--how loved I felt every time I used it--are still there even if the lunch box isn't. I'm still loved even if I don't pack my lunch. And it might be soon too--I realized in photographing it that the zipper is a little wonky.

What do you have that you just can't get rid of?

Friday, September 26, 2014

bath stuff.

So let's talk shampoo, body wash, and lotions.

You may recall that earlier in the year, I got rid of a lot of "bath stuff." I had it all: body lotions, shower gels, bubble bath, soaps, and body splash and most of it sat pretty much unused or partially used in the bathroom closet for... well a long time. And once after posting about it on twitter I got asked why I didn't just use it up. It got me thinking, why didn't I use it up. Why did I opt for pitching or donating almost all of it? Which of course sort of led to the question of why I had it anyway.

And well, for some the answer to the first question was easy, it didn't smell the way it should have smelled.
Lotions, oils, soaps all have a shelf life after which they start to break down. So my vanilla body spray from Victoria Secret stopped smelling like vanilla and started to smell like alcohol--the kind you drink. Let's just say it wasn't pleasant. Other things (like the bath and body works cucumber melon) just were not to my liking anymore. They still smelled like they were supposed to, but I no longer really found that to be a pleasing scent.

Which of course begs the question--why if I liked it so much did I not use it up to start with? Why did the vanilla body spray go bad?
That answer is more complex.

In the case of the vanilla spray, I loved it so much and then Victoria Secret discontinued that scent. I wanted to save this for special occasions. I didn't WANT to use it up, because then it would be gone and irreplaceable. I was going to say, that might actually be useful for some things, but then I couldn't think of a single thing that you could save quite like that. Maybe a concert t-shirt?

In the case of the second example above--it is no longer to my taste. Well how did I end up with so much of it, that I tired of it before I ran out of it? Why did I have 4 travel sized bottles of cucumber melon shower gel, when I don't even like cucumber melon? And the answer is, that at one point I liked it enough to buy some, and then when people asked for gift suggestions or looked around at what I was using, they saw cucumber melon--and bought it for me. And then I tired of it. But trust me, when you have tired of a scent--you won't use it up.

Then there is the whole issue of I don't really use lotion anymore.
I used to have super dry skin in the winter. I used a lot of lotion. I liked lotion. But then I switched soaps--I started using a home made soap that I buy from the maker and it really doesn't dry my skin. So I don't really use lotion anymore.

I bring all this up because recently, I found a stash of shampoo in another cupboard. These seem to be bottles I bought for some specific purpose or out of desperation maybe? And I decided that maybe I'd use these up. One is shampoo I bought when I took swimming lessons (a few years ago--not as a kid) to keep my hair from getting super weird between winter and chlorine. Another is a shampoo I bought when Suave discontinued my regular kind. Both of them seem to not have broken down and neither has a strong scent, so I decided I'd just use them up. Although, maybe one of them will just get pitched, we'll see how it goes, either way--it will be gone.

Friday, September 19, 2014

School art

Last week, I finally went through the kid art from school that had accumulated all year. A few years ago, I had this huge pile because I had every intention of keeping every thing--forever I guess. I mean after all these are my babies and they will never again be in first grade. And don't I wish I had some of my art from third grade or whatever?

My husband helped me see the light.
We don't have space to save everything. Not everything is worth saving. And the novelty factor of having a piece of art from second grade is worth about a minute of pleasure. Unless....

Unless the project meant something to you at the time.

His idea was great and I'll share it with you in case school art is something you struggle with too.

I still save everything all year. At the end of the school year (or in this case the beginning of the next), I go through everything and photograph it. And I make sure I get really good photographs (even if it takes multiple shots).
Then, I go through and pick ONE that speaks to me--either as indicative of the personality of the child or a piece I just really like. Then I have each of the kids go through their work and pick one or two that they like.

Originally, the plan was to pitch the rest. However, another family member (ahem grandma) decided she would keep everything we didn't want. So now, it all goes to grandma's house.

Occasionally, shutterfly will offer a free photobook, and one year I documented the school year in one, and included the photos of the art. One year, we made thank you cards using the pictures of the art. One year we gave notecards with pictures of the art as a christmas gift.

This year, as an aside, it was much easier as the art teacher went on maternity leave mid-year. You could TELL by the projects when the long-term sub had come. I think we may have saved every piece done under the original teacher.

How do you deal with the school art?

art

Monday, September 8, 2014

back into the swing

So, summer vacation for my children came, and my opportunity to do much beyond keeping my head above water so to speak vanished. You would think that my de-cluttering came to a halt as well.

And in some ways it did.

It became harder and harder to focus on one area the way I had been doing before vacation. Before, I'd designate an area and every day I'd work a little bit on it. During vacation it became more like: "UGH I can't get this drawer closed. Hey why do I have 3 of these?"

That's not to say that the latter way of decluttering isn't useful. I discovered a mosquito repellent that had a "yuck" sticker placed on it by my then pre-kindergarten girls after a safety camp. And they started MIDDLE school last week. I also cleared space in cabinets that I never even thought of as cluttered.

Like when my girls sent me on a hunt for small phillips head screwdrivers for a model building day one rainy day, I discovered I had a bunch of junk where I usually store screwdrivers/scissors in the kitchen. And decided I only needed one of each there. I should probably decide just how many screwdrivers total I need and de-clutter the toolbox in the garage.

I also discovered that I need to teach my children about what is trash. A lot of the time when I'd be picking up stuff, I'd discover a cache of wrappers (gum, rainbow loom,candy, and whatever) that they had shoved under other papers or behind cushions. It kind of defeats the purpose of clearing space if the children fill it.

So, the girls are back in school, I am working on getting back to my routine. And I'm willing to take suggestions--What is a problem area for you with regards to clutter? Tell me about it, either in a comment (or send me a tweet @todaystwo) and perhaps I'll use it as a jumping off point for my get back into the swing of things!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Big difference

Summer has been difficult for me to focus on any one area to declutter. Seems that every day is a different adventure with the children, and some days we are in the kitchen all day, some days in the sewing room, and some days I don't think about decluttering until nearly bedtime.

There have even been a number of days where I didn't want to get rid of my stuff thankyouverymuch.

One thing I did notice this summer, the thing that is keeping it worthwhile to me is this. I have changed in how I think about keeping things. On. The last mini-trip, I threw away a sample size toothpaste that was not empty, but no one liked it. (In fact I knew we would never use it again). In the past, I would have kept this "just in case". I also tossed a mostly used sample tube that I knew we have more of at home.

Today we have been to the dentist. And the dentist is the one that gives us lovely samples of floss and paste, all in a little bag. In one of my decluttering binges this winter I decided that we really hate the bags. I used to save them because they are a great size for an overnight with a toothbrush and small paste. The reality was though, that a toothbrush holder works better, and I have 4 of those (one for everyone), so I tossed all the bags. Today, the girls each got a bag, a toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss. Since I will use all the stuff, I'll empty those out into their respective bins, and then toss the bag.

So yay me!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

the water bottle

So yesterday I tweeted "Can I count the two casualties of today's bike ride? If so a water bottle and a pair of pliers. I'll replace the pliers." I was only half joking about those being my two things (although I did go back and go through my box of "christmas" jewelry (which is supposed to be holiday jewelry, but aside from the wind up skull pins, are all Christmas) and got rid of a bunch of things.

The first though is interesting to me because it really shows how far I think I have come on this journey. We went on a bike ride yesterday (10 miles go us) and I had each of the girls bring and carry her own water bottle. One child picked a really old bottle, that she had loved, and she could not be talked out of bringing it--even though she thought it would leak. Well guess what? By mile 3 she had a small puddle in her pack. By Mile 6 she had a water spot 6 inches in diameter on her back and she asked, did she really need to carry it. I said--drink what you want, throw the bottle away. And she did. None of us were even sad about it.

Last year, I never would have been able to so freely suggest that she ditch her bottle. Despite the fact that last year I had more water bottles! This time, I just really saw this as what it was--something that if it made it home, was probably never going to be used again. It leaks! I probably would not have been allowed to get rid of it either--as it was a favorite. But the fact that it made ice water run down her back while she was biking, made my daughter realize that this item had lost its usefulness to her. I had to share my water at the end of the ride, but this was a really small price to pay (even though she chews on the spouts SIGH) The only bad part, was not recycling it.

The pliers on the other hand... well they fell off the bumper of the car, where I had set them down after tightening a screw on the bike rack. I probably have another pair somewhere, but please note I retraced at least part of our trip looking for those. They were my favorite pair.

Friday, July 18, 2014

The Bin.

I did it! I finally went through the entire bin of fabric (after going through the entire dresser). What exactly was this?

before room

In purple is the bin, in green is the dresser. Although this is after I started on the dresser drawers so you can start to see the piles I was making. I went through the dresser first and so as I went along, anything I wanted to keep--I put away in the dresser. And now? The bin is empty!

empty

Which should make me feel better. Except that I have piles of fabric that I no longer want, but are large enough that perhaps someone else could make use of them.

unwanted fabric

Which is kind of depressing.

I still have a ton of novelty fabrics that won't fit in the dresser, and a bunch of flannel that won't fit. I think I'll be making some room on the shelves. I also have re-discovered some projects I still want to finish and have those items all placed together--usually on a shelf.

I'm either going to sell or donate what is left, but with kids home from school thinking about that is overwhelming so...
Yeah you know where this is going
I may put all the unwanted fabric back in the bin until September.

Have an opinion? Leave me a comment, shoot me a tweet.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

garages

Can we talk about garages?

I read somewhere that some absurd number of people don't park their cards in their garages because of all the stuff they put in there. And So to write this I went looking for the number. According to this story on ending garage clutter "According to the U.S. Department of Energy, 25 percent of homeowners with two-car garages don't park any cars in there and 32 percent parked only one." Someday, I'll spend some time tracking down that number to see how accurate it is. Now, I can tell you that my anecdotal evidence would suggest that that is about accurate.

Personally, this is not a problem I have struggled with. It seems keeping snow and ice off my car keeps me motivated enough to not let clutter build up. But that isn't to say that my garage doesn't have issues. Oh no. We have a lot of storage space, which can be a real problem, because lots of useless stuff gets stashed in there.
This weekend, I decided I'd tackle a small area of the garage in order to get back on track after my vacation. And I thought I'd take some before and after pictures to help out. So here is before:

before

And a trashbag full (and donation box and recycling added to), I ended up with the space looking neater.

After

It was hard explaining to twitter what exactly I had gotten rid of. Garbage, old broken plastic frisbees, and toys were the bulk of it. I could not believe how many popsicle wrappers my kids have stashed in the garage. Cleaning and sweeping this small section took me roughly 40 minutes, which is about twice what I like to spend on my de-cluttering, but in this case I really did have to pull lots of stuff out and then put back the stuff I wanted to keep.

Of course, I still have a long way to go, as I turn around from "my" corner and face this:

still dealing

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

vacation!

When I planned this big project of getting rid of two things every day, I built in a little vacation time in my mind. I figured I'd be rid of at least 700 things at the end of the year. Why not 730? Vacation!

So we just got back from a ten day trip to Mackinac Island and Door County. It was lovely. Cool and sunny and full of fudge, cherries, and cheese. We bemoaned the lack of commas on one sign that proclaimed fudge cheese ice cream pies. We hiked, biked, swam, boated, and ate too much. We shopped. But I did not de-clutter the house. I didn't even think about de-cluttering the house.

I did however, as we were packing, find a bag of kitchen utensils that we had deemed at one point too useful to throw out, not used often enough to keep handy. Things like the corkscrew and the candy thermometer. I use them, just not very often. However, there were also a bunch of other things in there and as my husband was complaining as he tried to get what he wanted (extra medicine spoons) I said--you know what, Let's get rid of everything in here except the spoons, the corkscrew, the candy thermometer and the nutcrackers. So out went some cheese knives, and a whole bar tools set.

I think my bigger break through came though in the shopping. I only bought consumables for my souvenirs. Fudge, some lingonberry jam, and some yarn. No t-shirts or sweat shirts (although I really really wanted some), no thing to hang on the wall, no thing to put on the shelf. Well, two exceptions: magnet for my fridge magnet collection, and an ornament for the Christmas tree. And I didn't need the ornament, that was my husband. At the end of the vacation, all the souvenirs will be gone (um fudge almost is) or made functional (you should see the sweater I'm making).

I am trying to get back into the swing of de-cluttering. Yesterday I finally got rid of the spaghetti squash I realized a few months ago I had no desire to eat. And I decided four months was long enough to keep two shamrocks given to me on my birthday (I like plants, I have plants, I hated these). Later today, I'll go tackle the fabric again. Or the garage.

Next week is camp week, and I'm planning a big donation day in there somewhere.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

best laid plans

When I started this project and decided to blog and tweet about it, I decided to a) tweet at least once a day and b) blog at least once a week. I picked Fridays to blog because with kids in school and a front loaded weekly schedule, Friday was an easy relaxing day. And then the school year ended.

Now, I am not one of those moms who gripes that the kids are home all day. I actually like the kids being home all day--once we get our expectations aligned.

Someone once told me that the reason that we get frustrated in daily life is because our expectations do not match the reality. This was a lightbulb moment for me. I started to notice that if the grocery store frustrated me it was because I had this expectation--I go in, find exactly what I need, get out with little to no fuss--and I met this different reality--they are out of bread flour and every line is horridly long, and the person in front of me has 50 things in the 12 items or fewer line! It actually made it easier to deal with the mundane frustrations because when I head into the store, I know to leave my (sometimes unrealistic) expectations at the door. I know that if I am frustrated with the kids, that it probably means I have an expectation of them that they may not even be aware of.

And so, we head into summer, where the children expect fun and pool time, and laziness, and sleeping in. And where I expect to be able to get all my normal stuff done (running 9 miles a week, de-cluttering every day, keeping the house tidy) and expect them to help out.

We have already had some issues. The first day of summer vacation the high temperature was an unseasonably cool 58 F, so obviously (to me) the pool was out. But to my kids, this was an insult--how DARE the weather not cooperate. How DARE mom make these arbitrary rules (I told them I was not taking them to the pool unless it was at least 70). The first day of summer vacation, I told them that I had a new expectation for them in regards to chores--they would now be responsible for putting their dirty dishes in the dishwasher, instead of the sink. This has been met with great resistance. In addition, errands are no longer quick in and out things they were. We have to spend 15 minutes getting ready (in case we see someone--ah tweens), or deciding who will actually go. We have to make grand bargains (as in if we do these three errands we might be able to hit the pool later but seriously we need propane/food/swimming suits). And of course in dealing with all of this, the de-cluttering has fallen by the wayside.

I will get back to it, I have to. For one thing the sewing room is still a mess. For another, I had a de-cluttering nightmare, in which I could not bear to part with any of my 4 pairs of slippers (I don't actually have 4 pairs of slippers). Today I made a start to get back to it, I finally threw out the ice cream I bought back in December that no one wanted to eat.

Friday, June 6, 2014

progress of sorts

So, I haven't had a lot of time this week to go through things, but most days I did manage to get my two things in. Part of what happened is that my husband undertook a massive book shifting project this weekend.

As an aside, to say we have a lot of books would be the understatement of the year.

And so all weekend, I got rid of books instead of fabric. And he filled two and a half boxes with books to donate. But I did promise pictures. And I guess when I look at the pictures, I can't see progress, but trust me it is there. First the side hall before:

DSCN2727

And then during:

P5300067

That empty drawer was so crammed full of fabric that it wouldn't close. It will have fabric in it again, because I have this huge tub of fabric that I'd like to winnow down so that most of it fits in the dresser. I also moved that dresser back to where it goes. The plastic dresser is going to have to find a new home, so I'm hoping I clear out enough stuff to make that happen. The two boxes in the background? Full of books to donate. Anyway, here is the main view--sort of before:

DSCN2726

And today:

P5300068

Kinda looks worse, but that's primarily because all the fabric on the floor is finding a new home. Also that stuffed raccoon on the chair--he keeps moving to that chair from the donation box. Like every day. So, I think I'll have to donate him (he has a name says my daughter--Rocky Raccoon geeze) during the school day.

I also photographed my piles of giveaway fabric. These are scraps and flannels:

P5300069

These are the bigger pieces (1/4 yard or larger):

P5300070

And while I have a long way to go, I still do feel like I am making progress!

If you're curious about what is leaving my house every day, you can follow me on Twitter. I'm @Todaystwo.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Lost and found

Back in March I wrote about how I had lost the wrench tool to my ice cream maker. I thought about buying another, but in the end, the slumber party ice cream wasn't really affected by the lack of a wrench. But it was clear that warmer weather would possibly change that situation. Fast forward to this week, when my husband pulled his favorite oven mitt from the de-cluttered drawer (seriously! I de-cluttered the oven mitt drawer) and under it was not only the wrench but the instruction booklet. I debated about if I should keep it there, since I know several people suggest various methods, like put it the first place you looked for it, or put it where it makes sense (which would be in the ice cream maker I guess). I however, will probably now always look for it where it was found, so I just left it there. So here you go--if I lose it again, someone tell me to look under my husband's favorite oven mitt.

A more baffling (at least to me) loss was also discovered this week. Somehow, I have forgotten where I stored the plain cotton "summer" sheets for the girls. I don't think I gave them away, but I can't find them anywhere. I did find one set but I know I have a second. somewhere. In addition, I seem to have lost a fitted jersey style sheet. I took it off the bed, washed it, dried it, but then when I was folding it wasn't there. It is like the sock monster got really hungry and ate a sheet. I hate to put those away without it, but I am at a real loss. I mean my house isn't *that* cluttered (anymore). I think I'd notice something as large as a twin bed sheet lying on the floor.

Mostly though this week, I am still slogging through endless drawers of fabric. It seems every day my twitter is nearly the same "today I got rid of some fabric". And I am making headway, I have cleared out most a dresser drawer of scraps that heaven only knows why I was saving. I even found scraps from several baby quilts I made in 1998-2001. I know I kept those scraps so I could do repairs if needed, but those "babies" are all teenagers now and so out with (most of) them.

Funny how sometimes, you can feel like you aren't making any headway as you slog through the same task day after day, and sometimes, you can see real progress. Seeing that nearly empty drawer, I feel like progress has been made, even if most of the stuff from the drawer is sitting around the room in various piles and even though I have a huge blanket box that I'd like to incorporate into my current storage. For some reason, it just looks like even though I only get rid of the equivalent of about 1/2 yard to a yard every day, that I am really making a dent.

Maybe next week, I'll even post a picture.

In the meantime, follow me on Twitter, to see what goes every day.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Waiting on your Clutter

You know how when you decide to get rid of things, they can sometimes still sit around? Sometimes it is just that you are waiting to fill up a box or a bag for donation, or sometimes you have to wait for the next "hazardous" collection time (old aerosol cans, paints etc). Sometimes, you can't decide which is the best option for getting rid of something.

In my case, this week brought about the once a month heavy trash pickup. One heavy trash pickup week, you can set out large yard waste (my neighbors cut down a huge hedge!) and/or you can put out trash too large for the garbage cans. Many times, people in pickup trucks drive around the large trash area (each section of town has a different week) and they scavenge. This used to bother me a little, but now I'm feeling like it is an easy less greedy form of freecycle. And I find it interesting at what stays until the trash guys come by, and what things don't sit out for even an hour.

Last month, I pulled out an old window blind, and a broken plastic carpet protector that had been sitting in the garage all winter, plus a bunch of mops that I decided to part with. After 24 hours, all that was left was the cracked plastic sheet. This month, I dragged up a bunch of carpet remnants that I have been saving for at least 3 years. They stayed and got picked up by the trash collectors.

Side note: Why was I saving carpet remnants? I think I had this idea that either I could carpet some mythical dollhouse that we will someday build or that the scraps could be used on the one set of stairs we have not yet re-carpeted. I have no idea. At any rate, I do remember not wanting tho throw those pieces out. And now that they are gone? Whoo hoo does the closet in the basement ever look big and spacious.

I mention this because my current de-cluttering efforts are running into the problem of "what to do with it." I have over the years saved many many scraps of fabric from tons of projects. Some of it, I know is no use to anyone, and I am hoping that it will get recycled. Some of it is from a few projects I've started but never completed over the years. I'm tryign to put together those projects first, before I decide which are reasonable to keep.

And then there is a third area of fabric scraps or rather larger pieces. Pieces that someone else might be able to use (pre-cut 4 inch square, pre-cut 2 inch squares, 1/4 yard cuts, large sections of what was once a fat quarter) but that I no longer want. It is these things I am having difficulty dealing with. I would love for them to go to someone or someones who would use them--and I know there will be more. I'm considering several options, one of which is donation to a quilting project, one of which is selling them on Etsy. I haven't decided which route to take. So I have some use piles now that need to go somewhere--I consider them gone already. And yet, they are still around. It is making it hard to see the progress that I know is happening.

So, does anyone out there have any advice on fabric pieces and what the best place might be for them?

Saturday, May 10, 2014

basement

This week, I had a few items of work done around the house. The first was, we hired an electrician to come in and install a light fixture and install a new outlet in the basement that I could run my dehumidifier from without flipping a circuit. This is the same basement I am currently focusing my de-cluttering efforts on. Because of his impending visit, I had to move a bunch of stuff, so he could have access to a wall that usually has a dresser and a chair in front of it. I was moving things when I realized that one of the bins in the three drawer storage bins was totally empty. It was where I had stored patterns, but now all the patterns fit in one drawer (instead of overflowing two).

Second, we had our sprinkler system turned on, which has always required that someone move things around in both the basement and the garage. Last night, I went to check the area in the basement and realized that the suitcases and area rug I'd gotten rid of back in March were no longer blocking the way. I still had to move a few things in the garage but they are bikes--and because I finally sold one of the older bikes, that was easy too.

Many times, I've wondered, is two things a day enough? Will it ever make a difference that I can see? This week, I could really see what all those small steps led up to. Yes, it didn't matter that many times my two things were small (like the ton of bath gel and soaps and body lotions), it was all practice so that one day I could say--hey, I don't need this area rug I've been storing since we changed the first guest room over to nursery.

And two things works well for me. Today I spent 90 minutes in the basement, staring down this: DSCN2726

I went through all the fabric on the shelf in the bottom right. Some I discarded (I'm starting a rag bag, as I've heard goodwill takes rags and scraps that they sell. And if they don't I'll just throw it away as these are not sellable scraps.) and some I put away more efficiently. After that I started to get worn down and sat there staring at the mess and not really feeling like I wanted to part with anything else. So, I quit.

I had more than my two things, I can shut the door on the basement, and get back to it tomorrow when I am refreshed and ready to make good decisions.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Weird stuff found while de cluttering Pt1

We all have weird stuff we find when we start cleaning out closets and drawers. The oh my, why did I save this stained blouse with the three buttons missing? But every once in a while we find real doozies. Real things that we saved, tucked away even, that when shown the de cluttering light of day make you go hmmm. If you follow me on twitter you get to see just a verbal snapshot of some of these, but here are the longer stories.

I recently came across a set of Threads magazine that I had taken home after my library discarded them. They were filled with useful information about adjusting patterns and stuff. Well, when I pulled them down, I realized they were from 1994. I had 20 year old magazines! Not only that, I've never referred to them, and I figure if I ever decide to sew real pants (as opposed to pj pants) I can probably find that information elsewhere.

They weren't the oldest magazine I had though, I had a Better Homes and Gardens from 1988 on that shelf. I saved it because I made a cross-stitch pattern from it and some of the recipes looked good. Oh-Kay. Funny thing was, there was an article about things to do and places to stay when you go to the place we are vacationing this year AND the inn we are staying at is featured. So who says you don't find useful info from old magazines. ha ha.

A dryer accessory from a dryer I owned two dryers ago. It is a sweater drying rack, and it doesn't fit in my current dryer. I think I kept that out of habit.

I mentioned on twitter about my mop collection. Before I started this process I had, I kid you not, 6 mops. I have three now, only because I missed one which is in the garage and going out this week for large trash pickup. I should say, I have no idea why I have so many mops, but I know. I am searching for the perfect mop. Or they discontinued making the replacement mop heads. You know, one of those.

I also mentioned I got rid of an iron, but had two left. I rarely iron clothes, and use my iron almost exclusively for sewing. I owned three because... well because I accumulate things. See I got iron #1 as a gift (graduation, wedding, something) and around the same time I also got iron #2 which was nearly identical. SO I left iron #2 in the box and used the first. Then we moved and I LOST iron #1 in the move. So I opened iron #2 and decided I liked it better because it had an automatic shut off. Then iron #1 turned up. Over the years iron #2 has been dropped and moved and no longer had a low heat setting. And one Halloween I melted some fun fur fabric to it. My mother-in -law is great with sewing stuff and she gave me some iron cleaner stuff--and another IRON so now iron #3. I liked all of them, but really I only need one. That's why I got rid of iron #2 and am now keeping #1 and #3. Did you follow that? no?

Last thing, and know that while everything above has been removed from the house, this is still here. I found a baggie of beach rocks and beach glass that I saved, probably from Lake Michigan. One of them has a hole in it. I'm keeping it and a little freaked out by it because of having read The first 4 Spiderwick Chronicles. If you aren't familiar with the stories, supposedly rocks with holes in them let you see faeries and other invisible creatures. And in the books they are usually creepy. So, if I ever need to see faerie folk, I have a rock.

Friday, April 25, 2014

blah week

This has been kind of a blah week for me. Although I did reach a milestone in making my de-cluttering efforts a habit: I dreamed about it. I dreamt that I was tackling this gorgeous closet and pulling out things and saying--Why have I kept this? And everything was really dusty. It was odd.

Probably the biggest reason this week has felt so blah is that a lot of the stuff I'm "getting rid of" is being saved for a sale. And my donation pie is full. So I'm not really seeing any progress.

The sale is in 8 days. I have a huge pile of books, clothes, and toys. I am only individually pricing the toys, which makes things easier. And my daughters are theoretically running this sale for extra cash, so they are encouraged to do their own de-cluttering. And they did! One daughter who declared to me, she needed a really big house when she grew up (to hold all her stuff) found 20 books on her shelf she didn't want anymore and is currently arguing with her sister about another 10 mutually shared books that she'd like to get rid of that her sister (the one who usually has no trouble with this) wants to keep. Everything left over is getting donated. Everything.

Also I am clearly ready to take another load of things to be donated. Between the two of us, my husband and I emptied a file cabinet! And I have another filled box, two trash bags of clothes, and another box that probably will be full by the end of the weekend. But all this stuff is still all piled up, making me still feel very cluttered and a little defeated.

So I am giving myself (and you if you need it) this pep talk.
Every little bit helps.
These piles of clutter are temporary.
You have made great progress! Go check out the smaller areas you have cleared!
Look how much you have inspired your family in their own efforts!

And now, I think I'll load the car and head out to donate my big pile.

Friday, April 18, 2014

jeans

This week found me tackling the sewing/craft room again. And today I want to talk about the jeans. I might have a slight problem when it comes to jeans.

In fact I have a drawer in my dresser full of jeans I don't wear, but could wear if I were a few inches smaller. But I hate to throw them out, because a) I liked those jeans and b) we are only talking like 2 inches, not 22.

I also have a huge stash of jeans that are ripped or I did give up on for various other reasons, that I am saving for a craft project (or two). But a few years ago, I made a jean quilt. It is a smallish quilt--big enough for an impromptu picnic or outdoor seating. In the summer, it lives in the car and is very useful. So yes, these are jeans that did not get used in that project!

jean squares

I think I ended up using 45 squares, instead of the 40 listed. But clearly, I have a problem, because I was faced with this: Jeans before

And a bigger picture view shows the ones I pulled out before I thought to take a before picture:
bigger picture

And yes, I had flannel stashed in there too.

I had a really hard time with this, What if some of the jeans in there fit me? What if they'd make good cutoffs? What if I want to make a cute jeans purse?

In the end, I made myself go through them and pull out 10 pairs to get rid of. I figured just 10 would leave me enough to tackle whatever projects I wanted to do. After I got to 10, I totally surprised myself by throwing in an eleventh.

I'm not done with this shelf yet, I still have jeans to sort through (I made a pile of might fit). But behind all the jeans I found two stereo speakers! And an valance I had made for the nursery (12 years ago!). Both items, I can let go. Neither item was completely visible at first glance (although you can see the valance under the jeans, but seriously, I thought it was fabric). But I feel like I made real progress, even though I probably didn't need to keep any jeans.

It is all about the baby steps.

Remember, you can follow me on twitter to see what goes every day.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Frugality

I am a frugal person. The dictionary.com definition is right on for me: "economical in use or expenditure; prudently saving or sparing; not wasteful". I don't go shopping just to go shopping. I usually don't buy "trendy" clothes, preferring classics that will last. I eat leftovers, and get really upset when something goes bad before I can use it. And I don't think overall that it is a terrible thing to be frugal. In fact, I don't want to change.

But it does have its down side, especially when it is in regards to clutter and saving things.

I tend to hang onto things that were expensive to buy. Which explains why I had a 15 year old digital camera. I had spent some serious (for me) bucks on it back in the day and hey it still worked!. Of course I'd since replaced it many times (3 times!) and I didn't use it. And I am not even sure I could download pictures from it to my current computer. Not that it held more than 200 pictures. But I was very hesitant to let it go. What if I needed it? Why should I give it away? It cost me a lot of money.

And it had clearly outlived it's usefulness. And that is what I need to remember as I am going through my things.

The other thing I have been tackling this week is my sewing area. This week, I decided that I would get rid of all the patterns I no longer need, cut or uncut. And it was hard. I think because of the frugality. What if I change my mind and DO want to make something from this? I'll have to buy the pattern again! But when I got realistic about it, I realized that 1) some patterns will never get made again because I will never ever need to make a size 4T princess costume and 2) clutter was getting in the way of my frugality. I had 2 of the same pattern! Why? Because I had so many patterns that I didn't even know what I had. Plus, I had run out of room in my pattern drawers, and so patterns I was currently working with are spread out all over the room. Now I have not only a better idea of what I already own, they are all tidy and in one place, so I won't buy a duplicate.

Clutter may be preventing me from being frugal by causing me to spend money on things I already own!

I am trying to turn my frugality into a good thing. I'm trying to use my frugality to aid in the de-cluttering. And the best way I have come up with so far is this: If you had to pay someone to move this item to a new house (and assuming your new house had all the space of your old house) would you do it? Sometimes, the answer is yes. Yes, I would pay someone to move my wedding dress, my children's christening dresses, and my box of baby stuff for both my husband and I. But many times, the answer is a resounding no. No, I would not pay someone to move my wedding shoes, 15 or so patterns mostly from old halloween costumes, or a dozen other things I've put in the donation box.

Probably the biggest "little voice" I hear when I am de-cluttering is "what if I need this again?" For a frugal person, this is a pretty strong and loud voice. And sometimes, honestly, I listen. But most of the time, I know that voice is not right. I will not need my wedding shoes again (even if the dress gets used). And even if I do need whatever I just got rid of? Most of the time I have a 3 week buffer before I take things to the donation place. And about a one week buffer on things I pitch. if I don't need it in that time, I probably wouldn't have remembered I had one if I did need it!

Remember, you can follow me on twitter (@todaystwo) where I post details every day of the things I'm de-cluttering.

Friday, April 4, 2014

de-cuttering with guests

This week was my girls' spring break, and rather than travel anywhere, we had guests. And let me tell you, attempting to de-clutter, even two items at a time, was a challenge with guests in the house.

It wasn't that I was trying to clear out the room they were in--I feel like I've done a decent job of the guest room, and to go further will take help from other family members. I had targeted the children this week, thinking they could help me with some of their things. However, I think I forgot one fundamental principle that seems to work best for me and for them too apparently: Start small.

It isn't that we have to do a huge de-cluttering project digging everything out of the closet and going through it piece by piece. We could maybe start with one drawer a day. Sadly though, they were initially interested in going through the summer clothes bin, and I jumped on it. And so now, I do have a small pile of clothes that don't fit--headed for a mom 2 mom sale. But I also have a pile of clothes that don't fit but they can't bear to get rid of (sigh) and a bigger pile that they haven't gone through yet because they are tired of trying on clothes.

I'm no better. My goal for myself was to go through my accessories drawers. And somehow I got stuck on hosiery. I have 4 pairs of pantyhose and 10 knee highs that I am having trouble thinning out, despite the fact that I rarely wear hosiery of any sort. I know I can cut this in half and never miss the difference. But I am struggling, I think because having guests has worn me out.

But guests are gone, and soon we'll be back to school and I can get back to clearing out the basement.
In baby steps.

Friday, March 28, 2014

spring break

This week, I got the guest room done in the sense of my stuff has been whittled down. There are still huge amounts of papers that are my husband's stuff, but I'm not going to pretend I can clear that out without his help. It is however ready for guests and much nicer looking than it was before. I could always have it guest ready pretty quick, but now it has the bonus of having been dusted (ahem). I do still have some things I can't seem to let go of. My Harry Potter lunch box (despite the fact that I haven't packed my own lunch in about 3 years), and two of my collectible dolls. I used to have a small doll collection as a teenager mainly because my mother always wanted a doll collection. And I honestly liked the 5 that survived all the moved I made as a young adult. I'm just feeling like there are 2 that I'd like to be able to give away but something is holding me back. It is ok though because their shelf is so empty now, that keeping them a little longer isn't hurting anything.

Next week is my children's spring break and we are having my mom come visit, and I'm hoping it doesn't derail the clutter busting. In fact, I was thinking that next week's project could be that the children start clearing out some of their stuff. They want to sell their old clothes, toys and books at the mom to mom sale their school hosts. I'm hoping to appeal to their sense of greed and clear out a few bigger ticket item toys. But next week I'd like to get them to sort through their spring clothes (not that they'll be wearing them any time soon) and their winter clothes and possibly their books. How to make it fun and manageable is escaping me.

I will be working on my dresser drawers this week. Although it was hard not to start today when I went searching for my lint brush (which turned out to be in the one relatively clear drawer).

After that comes the hardest task yet. The sewing room. Someone on flickr recently favorited a picture I took in 2008 of the space, and I decided to take a picture of how it looks 6 years later. The result: sewing room

2008 on the left, today on the right. So ahem, I have some work to do. Although that might be a "get rid of one thing and finish one thing" kind of project. I notice the girl scout vests in the pile in the picture on the right. I could finish the patches on that and tuck those away. The creative things are always hard for me--I always see such potential in fabric and patterns and yarn. Plus, a lot of the clutter are partially completed projects. But I am promising myself that I will not feel like I need to hang onto 1) patterns we've outgrown (cut or not) 2) fabric I find ugly, and 3) scraps. We'll see how long it lasts.

Friday, March 21, 2014

cell phones

This week I got rid of something I slated for donation well over a year ago--my old cell phones. I meant to get rid of these guys when we got our new ones, but since we changed carriers, there wasn't that easy--oh here take the old ones option. And old they were:

phones

Now maybe you don't have this problem. Maybe you know about 50 places off the top of your head where you could donate these or earn money for these or whatever. I however did not. And so I stalled and they sat in the guest room (duh) for 14 months. Yes, 14 months--maybe 15.

So late last week I decided, I'm getting rid of these this week or else. So I did what everyone probably did last week--I googled "donate old cell phones." Now first a word, I don't live in a major metropolitan area. Meaning that many things that come up in searches like these are pointless because when I look into it it usually comes out that the closest drop off place is 25 miles or more from me. But the last thing on the how stuff works article that came up included a link to http://www.americancellphonedrive.org/ And there I discovered that there was a drop box at the library!

I go to the library a few times a week, so after confirming that yes indeed they took these and used the money to help fund the local cable access channel--I stuck all of this in my library bag. They only took the actual phones, but it freed me up to throw away the cords. Whew--that piece of clutter is gone! (and yes, I did clear everything from them before donating)

Also this week, I went through a file cabinet that included a huge stack of a) professional articles and b) knitting patterns. I went through them and discovered that many of the professional articles were articles that if I need that information again, I'm likely to find newer and better articles. As for the knitting patterns... let's just say my taste has changed a bit:
DSCN2553

I am discovering an issue though that I don't really know how to deal with, so I'll put it to the hive mind of the internet: I have a lot of race shirts. Mostly from local area 5ks that I've run in the last 7 years. I don't wear them. I don't need a quilt (trust me I have a spring quilt and a winter quilt, many wall hangings and my kids have at least 4 bed sized quilts--we are loved by an avid quilter!). They feel like clutter--and yet... I just can't get rid of them. I ran those races! So, I put it to you good internet folks: Would you keep these? Perhaps designate a bin and promise yourself not to exceed the bin? Would you donate them? Would you donate some of them?

Friday, March 14, 2014

On de-cluttering and loss

I'm sure everyone has a room or a closet or a drawer that things that you can't find space for get relegated. In our case, it is the guest room. This week I have been attempting to tackle the dumping ground that is our guest room. And you know like anything, some tasks about it have been easy. And others not so much. My husband also got into the act on this, making it initially more "messy" as he pulled everything out of the built in dresser that he felt he could part with. Which made my initial forays into that room easy. I peeked in, grabbed things from his pile that I thought I could pitch and moved on. Then the pile disappeared.

Then I thought I'd tackle the closet. And initially that went well. I found raincoats that no longer fit the girls (and while they will be replaced, I'm still calling it a get rid of), and last year's winter coats. I found a dress coat that I wear perhaps once a year and decided I have another coat I like better. And then I found this: Airbed

I wasn't sure it worked. I wasn't sure when we last used it. I'm not even sure where it came from. So I decided to inflate it and see what was what.

inflated

It works. It inflated easily and stayed inflated for long enough that even though I suspect it has a slow leak, it would probably make it through a night. And then I couldn't get rid of it.

I KNOW!
I decided that I should keep it, and I justified that by thinking about the reason why I started this de-clutter journey. I want to have room in my house for the things I want to keep and use. I want to be able to find the things I need. If I get rid of all the other things that are easier to part with--I will have room for this. I will be able to find it when the next slumber party happens and people don't want to sleep on the floor.

So many other things in this room have gone easily enough--more sheet sets, pillowcases, stuffed animals, decor from our first house together (think 90s country chic), and old hats and mittens. I can make room for the things that are harder to part with until I am ready.

After all this de-cluttering I have been doing (2 a day! Mostly more--follow me on twitter if you want the day by day things) you would think by now that I would not lose things. Sadly, you would be wrong. I have lost the "wrench" to our ice cream ball. You would think that it would be stored with the ice cream ball, but no. Also, I have recently de-cluttered the silverware drawer and the junk drawer in the kitchen. It was in neither place. I KNOW I would not have gotten rid of this, as the ice cream ball is relatively new. And it is bugging me that I can't find it. I am thinking of buying a replacement, but am sure it will turn up. One thing that always has paralyzed me in past de-cluttering efforts is the "what if I need this" train of thought. Losing this is really making me not want to de-clutter, and I am trying to tell myself that de-cluttering has already saved me time--I didn't need to spend a half hour going though the drawers in the kitchen, I know it isn't there because I can easily see the things that are there.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Time of day

Up until this last week I would have answered the question: What is the easiest time for you to de-clutter? With: Int he morning when I am fresh.

And it is sort of true. As the day beats me down with the thousands of decisions we make (what to wear, what to eat, how to get to work, how much to nag the children about homework) I become increasingly incapable of making "big" decisions like--will I ever wear this sweater again? It is one of the problems I have always had with cleaning closets or drawers or taking on big all day organization projects. About an hour in, I just can no longer rationally think about that skirt I haven't worn in years but used to love.

This week, though, has taught me that there is also a sweet spot in the day. A spot when I am so tired of dealing that I think Oh man I can not deal with that purple skirt in my closet one second longer! When finally I am all worn down that I just want things out of my life.

It gives me another reason to like this two a day plan of mine. Some days I can wake up and open the junk drawer and find half dozen things to throw away--all before I have to decide what I am packing in the children's lunches. Other days, I can stagger into the guest room (AKA the dumping ground) right before going to bed and realize that I've never actually liked those candlesticks we bought 20 years ago, and have had sitting in here on a shelf for the last 10. Either way--something has left the house.

Which works for you? Early morning? Mid afternoon? Or when you are too exhausted to argue with yourself for keeping things?

donation box
My donation box
Remember you can follow me on Twitter @todaystwo where I'll tell you about EVERYTHING I de-clutter.

Friday, February 28, 2014

donation

Over the weekend, our sewer line backed up.

Now, this happens about once a year. I'll be doing laundry and suddenly I have sudsy water in the floor drain. I keep things away from there, and I have a guy I call, so no biggie. Except that every time he comes, and every time the sprinkler system guy comes, I have to haul all this stuff out of the way so they can get to the main line and the water valve.

This time, we could not remember which place the sewer guy usually runs through and decided to move a lot of stuff out of there. Some, had been designated giveaway--like all the trash bags I'm filling as I clear out my two things every day. (I had 3 bags of clothes/linens and 2 boxes of kitchen stuff/electronics.) Others, well...

So, I decided that I didn't want to move all that stuff and then put it back, so I moved it to the car. In went the end table we agreed to donate 2 years ago, that sat by the chest freezer gathering its own clutter. In went the typewriter that was supposed to go with the table, In went the area rug, that my husband wanted to get rid of, but I was hanging onto in case I wanted it again (you know what? If I want an area rug again, I probably wouldn't have wanted that one.) And in went several of the smaller things. And then, I drove to the donation center.

When I came back I realized I had forgotten all three bags of clothes, the box of shoes, and some of the kitchen stuff. In addition, I decided that it was pointless to keep the two HUGE suitcases that don't have wheels. I will never take them on a trip. And so Monday, I loaded my car (looked like I was moving out) with all that stuff, plus a third suitcase. and drove it over to the donation site. It made me a little sad. One of those suitcases was a graduation gift from my grandma. But I still have the useful overnight that came with it, and I still have my memories of how she said--you need these because you are going places!

The reason I am saying all this, isn't to prove that hey! I do get rid of stuff! No, I tell you all this because it helps you to understand when I say that now every time I go to the basement, I see gaps. I see big gaps where the end table was, and where the bags were. And I realize just how big my basement is when it isn't cluttered with crap. I still have things I have to move to get to the main line, but they are suitcases I actually use--and I have a place to move them to.

Everyone I told about this crazy project suggested that I'd feel relief to have these things gone. But I haven't really. That is until that last trip to the donation center. I really wish I had thought to take before and after pictures, because it is amazing.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Linen closet

One of the most interesting things about this whole decluttering process is how my husband has jumped on the bandwagon. So this weekend, while I set out to finish the hall linen closet (having issues with the top shelf), he cleaned out his dresser. One of his fabulous finds was that he had several old pairs of glasses. Now, he is very much in need of his glasses, and I would be hard pressed to go without mine, so we do have spare pairs and we need them. In fact, I know my husband has a pair at work too. But what we found was quite crazy. He looked at me and said, "I have 5 extra pairs of glasses!" I said--I bet I have more. And I did. I had 7! After we had a good laugh, we sorted through and each picked the most current prescription to keep, and made a pile of glasses to donate the next time we go to the eye dr. (in about 3 weeks). I kept back an older pair that was pretty much destroyed, but had been my hip quirky glasses. They aren't usable as frames anyway--I wore them OUT. Here is what our pile looked like:
glasses

But back to the linen closet.
Before I started it looked like this:
before

Pretty crowded, and pretty messy. Honestly I thought this would be a slam dunk. I seriously thought I'd take a shelf a day and in three days I'd have something gorgeous to show you. Not so. The first few days were easy. I got rid of a ton of old bath stuff, lotions, bubble baths and hair sprays! And then, I hit a wall.

I have in this cabinet two full cans of Pledge. I don't use Pledge anymore because of how waxy it leaves things. But as I said before, I can't donate them, and I can't pitch them. Then I stared at the top shelf which I was sure was filled with pillowcases. Not just any old pillowcases, but grandma made pillow cases. Why my two children needed 40 pillowcases made by their grandma is beyond me, but I know all parties had a blast picking out fabrics and making cases. And I dreaded going through them.

But I did. I discovered that there was a set of sheets that I could be using for the children. And I discovered several "half" sets, where I was missing the fitted or the top sheet. And so, I donated those. I still feel like I could probably get rid of more things in this closet, but I'm going to call it finished.
after

In the middle of this big project (again, at least 2 items every day), I decided to tackle a drawer in the bathroom. Well, my drawer in the bathroom. I lamented on twitter that I have two curling irons and I never curl my hair. I'm working on that. I will get rid of one, i promise--I need to try them both out though. It took me about 20 minutes total and I went from this:before to this:after

The biggest compliment I've gotten from my husband is this, he likes the de-cluttering I did in the "junk" drawer, where we keep the phone chargers. He can get his phone charged without fighting with the drawer! I'd call that a win for this experiment and encouragement to keep going.

You can always play along at home--declutter your own house or apartment 2 items at a time, and comment here or tweet me about it.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Where it goes

If you follow me on twitter( @todaystwo) you'll see what I "get rid of" every day. But I thought that anyone reading might want to know what I do with all that stuff.

The fact is, that I do lots of different things. I don't run every day to Salvation Army or Goodwill or another thrift shop. So for things that I can donate, I put in a bag in the basement, and when I have a trunkful (sometime next week actually) I'll donate it. My rules for donation are this: If I would buy it at one of those thrift shops, I'll donate it. So, I've put things like clothes without stains and holes, the potholders I don't want, and my old disk walkman. If it is ripped or something I don't think anyone would buy used --open lotion, underwear, or broken things, I do something else with them.

I have thrown away a lot of stuff--although I do recycle what I can. But I am not going to empty a lotion bottle to recycle it. And yes, if you've followed me on twitter you know--I got rid of a LOT of lotion and old bath stuff lately. I seem to have discovered I have a lotion hoarding habit. I don't feel bad about throwing all this away, although maybe I should.

Some things you can't donate, throw away, or recycle. Like the two full cans of Pledge I found. First, it doesn't fit my rule for donation--I don't think people go to thrift stores to buy furniture polish. You can't recycle full aerosol cans, nor can you throw them away. Instead I need to wait until the next hazardous waste disposal date. Because I can't do that right now, I have not counted those as "disposed of" I could, I suppose use them. I don't like the waxy finish pledge leaves on things, and I've had these bottles for YEARS like maybe we moved them to this house 14 years ago. We also have once a month "large trash pickup" or as I like to call it--Freecycle day. Some things will go there once winter is over.

My library takes book donations (the "friends" sell them to earn money for library programs) and since I am at the library many times a week, I usually take any books, magazines, puzzles, DVDs, videos or other things the "friends" can sell over there pretty much immediately.

Our school also holds a mom to mom sale as a fundraiser, and I am saving some of the nicer kid stuff for that. If those don't sell or we decide not to do it--I'll donate those. Although my biggest fear with that is that we won't make back the money we'll spend to rent a table.

So for the record, if something gets moved to the donation bin, the mom to mom sale bin, put in my backpack to head to the library, or gets thrown in the trash, I count it as "gone."

What do you do with the things you de-clutter from your house?

Friday, February 7, 2014

souvenirs

My De-cluttering plan for this year is, in some ways, a little like therapy. I don't mean that I feel all good or cleansed when I clear out a drawer or finally let go of something. Although there is some of that. No, the way I've been de-cluttering (little bits at a time, quitting when I start to question my decisions, trying to work in the mornings) is really showing me areas in which I have problems. And I thought as a semi-regular thing I'd write about those. You know in case it spurs something in someone else. So I thought today I'd write a little about an object I recently threw away (and no I don't always throw away--I usually donate or recycle, but some things need to be thrown away).

When I was cleaning the cabinet in my bedroom I ran across a sun catcher. This sun catcher was stained glass, with a pressed flower int he center. Very 1990s in color and style. Which it was because it was a trinket purchased on our honeymoon in the early 1990s. So I run across this and I realize that it is broken. The part of it that held it to a suction cup in the window had snapped off. It was dusty, really dusty. For some reason, I thought I'd wash it. Like I could clean it and store it away for another 20 years or so. But why was I thinking about keeping this? It was broken, and dusty and has been sitting in the cabinet so long I had forgotten it existed.

Anyway, I washed it off and in the process I realized that the seal around the pressed flower was not tight--which explained why the flower had faded so much over the years. In essence, it also meant I had ruined this sun catcher by washing it. And so I asked my husband if he minded if I threw it away.
I don't know why I felt I had to ask permission, but I did He very rarely says no, keep this.
And I was very sad to lose it.

I have spent a lot of time thinking about this. Why do I feel sad to let go of an object that has outlived its use and beauty? Why did I really want to keep it?

The answer is of course, it was purchased as a souvenir of our honeymoon. If I let go of a piece that was supposed to remind me of what a great time we had, am I also letting go of the memories? Am I pitching a piece of my honeymoon?

Of course the rational side of me says, "no, you have a loving marriage and you will continue to have a loving marriage without this sun catcher." In fact if I had no souvenirs of our honeymoon, I would still remember it. It doesn't make me love my husband any less, and it doesn't make our marriage weaker to have gotten rid of this one thing. What power I gave to this object! No wonder I didn't throw it away when it broke. No wonder I never got rid of it when the flower faded. If anything getting rid of it will make my marriage go a little smoother, as there is now less useless stuff in the cabinet, making it a real storage area for things we need to store--and access.

Now, I just need to put this logic to the other souvenirs from trips we have taken that have outlasted their usefulness, and beauty.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

small steps, big difference

The big question: How much of a difference can you make if you make such small steps?

Well, I feel like I can make a lot. Last week I was focusing on this cabinet in our bedroom. Here is the before:
before1
before

As you can see, it was cluttered inside and outside. Every day I took a shelf and spent about 10-15 minutes going through everything. I got rid of:
Owners manuals for things we no longer owned
Cords for computers we no longer used
An ancient digital camera
A portable disc player
all the disc players accessories
a vase
a broken suncatcher
In the end, it made it easier to store the things I wanted to store, because I have the room to store them. All in all it is much much neater.

after
after 1

Next up--this closet:
before

If you want the play by play of everything I'm getting rid of day by day, follow me on Twitter! (@todaystwo)

Monday, January 27, 2014

Introduction

Hi I'm Jodie and I have a lot of clutter. I'm not a hoarder, you can still walk through my house. I just have a lot of stuff, and I have a hard time getting rid of some stuff. But I want to clear out some space in my life and in my house.

I read articles all the time about how to "de-clutter your home in 30 days!" and I read closet makeover stories all the time in women's magazines. I know the tricks, the rules. You get three boxes, keep, trash, donate, you put everything in a box! You get rid of any clothes you haven't worn in a year/6months/9 months! I know the whole--would I replace this if I lots it trick. But I can't do it. I get overwhelmed and suddenly I lose my focus and I want to keep everything. I'm usually good for the first 1/2 hour or so, but after that everything means something to me. Everything becomes a keeper.

I don't think I'm alone in this. I think that the more decisions that a person makes in a day, the less able they are to make those decisions.

So, I had this plan. What if I went against everything I've ever read about organizing and de-cluttering and took small steps? What if I set a goal of say letting go of at least two things every day? What if I tackled the heavy cluttered closets and rooms a little bit every day?

So far, it has worked and for most of January I have gotten rid of at least two items every day.

I thought this might be a good place to talk about that process and maybe some of the issues that come up as I go through this. I also started a twitter feed, where I'll post the things I've gotten rid of that day. So feel free to follow along at @todaystwo.