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.