Thursday, November 9, 2017

Daily Declutter

Because tomorrow is a holiday, I ran my errands today. I'm still maintaining a once-a-week grocery schedule, and it's still one of the top ways I'm maintaining structure around here. I save so much time by not trying to squeeze a 15 minute trip in several times a week. When I calculate in the actual shop, the time to drive there (or get off the freeway if "I'm there anyway") and putting things away, it really adds up.

Additionally, I was able to load up the truck before I headed out on my errands. I had several piles of things that needed to be dropped off elsewhere -- rags for Goodwill, random metal pieces and glass bottles for recycling -- and they are thankfully no longer my responsibility. I don't have that constant "I really ought to" reminder every time I come home! I also put a couple of kids toys out at the curb -- they still work, but they aren't in resale condition. Now those are no longer taking up the garage, and I can park back in the garage before winter weather arrives!

I'm still (again?) making baby steps toward a peaceful and organized home, but it's better than letting the chaos overwhelm me!

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Daily Declutter

The problem with bringing home merchandise for the store is that I always have clutter lying around the living room! Today I got it all outside, and I'm feeling really good about that, but I also know I have a lot of work to do with it, since the clothes are not all priced and tagged. However, I am waiting for tagging supplies, so I have a good excuse.

I finally went through my closet as well. I am pleased that it took so little time to work through my closet. I lay everything out on my bed, pulled out the clothes (mostly dresses) that were summer-only, put back everything I will continue to wear through the autumn and winter, then added the few things I had put away in the spring. I had so many shirts that I pulled out a couple to store, just so I won't have so much bulk in my closet this winter.

I did have one dress that I will be donating to the fabric recycling at Goodwill. I knew it was about worn out, but I was limping by with in through the end of the summer. I will need to look for a replacement, but it is not a rush item. When I rush, I am much more likely to buy something I regret later.

I'm also getting rid of a pretty shirt I never wear because it is a heavy knit and sleeveless. I'm either too warm or too cold in it, and I just don't enjoy wearing it. Likewise, I will be getting rid of a very nice vintage wool sweater; I'm too tall to feel comfortable in this, because the sleeves are just too short. I'll post it to ebay if my daughter doesn't want it.

I also cleared out the freezer. I toasted all the bread ends for bread crumbs, so they won't go to waste and I won't have to eat them myself. This will give me space to store the zucchini that I found late in the garden. I just need to shred it up, and I'll be able to use it all winter for muffins and such.

Last night the kids put away the Halloween decorations and brought out the Thanksgiving decorations. I don't decorate heavily for most holidays, but we do have a little bit going on, especially honeycomb pumpkins and turkeys. We've had these guys for a lot of years, and they still remind me of my childhood.

So, I didn't really get a ton moved out, it feels like it around the house, and that's important. We have a lot more living space, and that's the point!

Friday, November 3, 2017

Daily Declutter

The smaller bins are working! I am able to move bins of clothes for the store outside when they are full and inventoried, which give the house a lot more living space!

Today I continue with my weekly menu planning and shopping trip. I also returned a couple dead plants to Home Depot -- I had been looking at them with guilt for weeks, and finally they are gone! I will move the pots out to the garage, and bring them back out when I decide I need new flowering plants on the porch.

I made another trip to the bins, with the associated laundry that follow a trip to the bins. I again resisted bringing home anything I didn't need. I did pick up a couple shirts for my dad, but I will be leaving them with him this weekend. I'd rather he have shirts from the bins than support sweatshops!

The house is a little messier than I'd like, but I feel good about moving the plants out. Plus, I have federal jury duty for the coming month -- I have to call in every night to find out what I am doing the next day. I have set up a plan, for taking the kids to school and making dinner, so I am hoping I will be able to keep the house on an even keel while attending my civic duty (read that last part with sarcasm).

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Minimalism isn't just about decluttering

I'm pretty sure I've written about this before, but minimalism isn't just about decluttering, and I need to remember that. I write about the things I've gotten rid of (and the routines I've created to keep clutter down), but I don't think enough about how much less I acquire.

I shop frequently now. I shop for the family one day, but I often shop two other days every week, to acquire merchandise for the children's resale shop my mother started. This means I visit garage sales, thrift shops and the bins -- the Goodwill outlet center. And for the most part, I don't bring anything home for my family.

In the past couple of months I have brought home brand new (with tags!) tea towels for gift giving; a couple of shirts for myself, my husband or my kids; a couple of notebooks for the kids' school supplies; a tablecloth I immediately regretted and gave away; and a set of napkins for school lunches. I have not brought home dishes, vases, pans, blankets, toys, holiday decorations or many other items I see for sale. I'm not even tempted, and today I realized that I was not at all tempted to even look at the things that were not shop related.

In earlier times, I would have been tempted. I would have brought home lots of things that were useful, or could be useful, or things that were merely pretty. I have a little weakness for buying blankets, but we have enough for everyone's bed and for the living room, and no where else to store them. This time, I realized I'm not even looking at those blankets, I'm not looking at the glass pitchers. I've come to a place where the stuff no longer offers me possibilities of a life that would be better.

I thank minimalism for that. Life is about what you do, not about getting the stuff that would make those dream activities possible. If I actually have a need for a new blanket (a blanket gets chewed up by the dog, for example) I can easily acquire another one. After all, there's enough stuff in the world. But I have been increasingly able to disregard stuff for stuff's sake, and that's improvement, too.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Daily Declutter

There is always more to declutter! I started planning for Christmas this week, and came up with a few items that I can declutter in the process. I'm not giving clutter for Christmas, but I do have some wool that will be knit into gifts. As I went through my yarn, I realized I still have some aluminum knitting needles -- and I hate knitting with aluminum needles! So away they go. If I want to knit something with that size needles, I will be happier buying new wooden needles, so away those went.

I still haven't cleaned out my wardrobe, but my daughter went through hers, and found items that I have never seen before. So those have wandered off as well.

In the meantime, the bar has mostly been cleared (my jury duty paperwork remains out, and pumpkins sit out waiting for Halloween to be carved, then made into puree for pumpkin bread). The counter in my bathroom is cleared of clothes that are "still mostly clean." The living room only has the clothes for the shop that I am actively pricing (the rest have been removed to storage).

Not the decluttering accomplishment I got before the shop, but I'm holding steady in areas, and still making progress in others.

Fantasy Minimalism

I have a rich fantasy life. The fantasy me wakes up when I'm rested -- not when the alarm clock goes off. Then she gets up, has a lingering cup of tea (and maybe breakfast) with my husband. We step out of our cute cottage, then walk the dogs -- an English bulldog and a husky -- to the nearby dog park. I wander into town (again walking distance) to pick up fresh produce and a crusty loaf of whole wheat bread for dinner. I volunteer at the library or similar organization once a week, and my husband volunteers at the maritime society. I know the town where fantasy me lives, and I've looked online for real estate there.

This is nothing like my real life. I almost always wake up to the melodious sounds of the alarm clock -- or occasionally, the sound of my dog barking. I get in the car to pick up my son from practice, I drink tea while checking email, I take a kid to school, I come home and do laundry, or maybe it is my day to drive to the grocery store the next town over. I come home and wash more laundry, label laundry, price laundry. (I now take laundry outside in totes I can carry!)

My fantasy life is not the only correct minimalist life. I'm pretty sure I couldn't actually live that way. For one thing, I still have kids at home, and my fantasy life seems to revolve around dogs. My fantasy life does not seem to include washing dishes, washing laundry or any housework at all. (I've had a husky; sweeping is a major occupation for husky people.)

I've been a little demoralized about my minimalist journey because my real life is so distant from my fantasy minimalist life. But as I work to control my environment, and as I focus on the life I actually live, I have become more aware that minimalism is how I live the life I am living, not a fantasy life with house elves. Minimalism is a tool that allows me to enjoy living a busy life, with growing children who are developing their own direction in life. It is a tool to allow me to pursue a business opportunity, charitable opportunity, or  travel opportunity, without compromising my future or my priorities.

So, yes. My life is crazy-busy. My husband and I are not home two nights a week because we are taking kids to classes. Weekends are full of extracurricular activities, garage sale-ing, and the occasional sleepover. But clearing the clutter out of the living room, creating a menu that does not involve take-out pizza (I can't eat cheese anymore) and preventing orthodontist appointments from conflicting with school might be what minimalism looks like for me right now.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Daily Declutter

Well, I can't say I've made a great deal of forward progress, but my efforts with the smaller bins have created a positive effect. I went to the bins (and took pictures! But I don't think they demonstrate the immensity of what I'm dealing with, and I will try again. Taking pictures of random things is hard for me -- I have yet to get up the nerve to take pictures of my shopping cart. It just seems too weird for me, and I'm introverted enough to want to avoid attracting that sort of attention.) and my home does not look like it. I have about one load of laundry waiting to be washed, and the rest of the clothes are tagged and in a bin -- not roaming the living room, taking up laundry baskets. They will be priced and taken outside today.

Much of the day that was not spent on laundry and clothes for the shop was spent on creating Halloween costumes. My son will be an arcade game, and my daughter will be Spider-Man -- but the homemade costume, not the one Iron Man made. Cardboard boxes were instrumental in construction, and a sweatshirt and ski cap were sacrificed to the cause, but everything else will be reusable when we're done. Plus, everything either came from the bins, the thrift shop or was packing material, and the cardboard box will still be able to be recycled at the end of the night.

I did have a positive zero-waste event. Several weeks ago, my husband went to the snack shop at the local science museum (it's next to my daughter's dance class, so it's convenient) to get a cup of iced tea. He had remembered his reusable cup and was feeling good. However, they refused to use his reusable cup...but they were willing to sell him their reusable cup, which he could then reuse. They said they could not use his cup because it was "against Health Code." He gave up arguing with them (I didn't ask if he used a paper cup, but I know he didn't come home with a new reusable cup) and moved on.

I emailed the manager. This is, after all, a science museum! They should know about trash, and zero-waste, and things like that. They should be in favor of reducing landfill, and creating more plastic (which can only be downcycled, not truly recycled over and over like glass or aluminum).  The manager was very nice, and after a couple of emails back and forth, she changed the policy at the snack shop and retrained the employees! Apparently, the Health Code says you can use a customer's cup if it's clean and you don't tough the equipment.

I'm really grateful that the manager followed up and was willing to change! A zero-waste victory!