Thursday, March 23, 2017

Daily Declutter

I got some things done today, but more things were half-done. However, I think I've identified the source of my tiredness and unmotivated-ness. (Sure it's a word.) I've been taking a Benadryl every night for my allergies. However, I was talking to someone else who mentioned that Benadryl leaves her groggy all day...and I've been pretty groggy. Hopefully my allergies will pass soon, because without the Benadryl I don't sleep, and I feel tired all day, and with the Benadryl I feel groggy all day...

Also, I'm going to try to get more exercise. It certainly can't hurt!

I did move some things around. I put away most of my winter clothes (my heavy coat, and things like that) as that season has passed here. I went ahead and pulled out my spring dresses, so I'm ready for Easter. I also pulled out my daughter's spring dresses, and a couple of dresses for our trip with my parents.

Three (!) things sold on ebay the last couple of days, and I'm thrilled to move some of these things out, especially the box of old magazines. They were too good to throw away, but we had no use for them. I think an antique store bought them; I'm glad they are going where they will do someone some good.

A member of our church is ill, so I used up some frozen bananas and frozen grapes in a banana bread. Grapes work well as replacements for raisins, I've found, if they are cooked -- not so well in instant oatmeal! In overnight oats or banana bread they just come across as plump raisins. So I moved a bit of frozen fruit out of the freezer. I made two loaves, because I always make two loaves -- one to gift and one to eat. I'm glad I did, because my daughter seems to be entering a growth spurt, and she is eating everything she can get her hands on.

I know it's not much, but I'm glad to be getting anything done at all. I am really looking forward to getting back on track!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Daily Declutter

Yesterday I accomplished not much, and it was lovely. My daughter had a study group of friends over, and I tried to remain inconspicuous. Mom's can put a damper on conversation if they are too obvious, so I sat and read my book more than I have on a weekday in living memory.

Today I got some work done! I'm still working on clearing off a shelving unit in the garage. I hope I will soon be able to list it on Craigslist, but I'm working on it slowly. My husband adapts to change better if it happens slowly, and so I am slowly moving this large shelving unit out of the way. I cleared a couple shelves today, but I didn't post the dog clippers to Craigslist yet, I'll give him a chance to think about that first. Then I'll only have one shelf worth of items to rehome or remove, and the shelves can leave. Once the shelves leave the bicycles can take that spot, and the truck can move back into the garage.

When I moved the ice cream maker out to the storage shed, I spent a few minutes evaluating the snow gear I keep stored out there. It turns out I had a pair of snow pants that no longer fit anyone in my family, so those are now residing in the donation box, along with a pair of mittens that are too small.

I will be mailing a cake plate I sold on ebay. I am now down to only three cake plates, which sounds like more than any family could possibly use in this day and age. However, one is used primarily for birthday cakes, one is for Easter decorating, and the last is used every day as storage for muffins, scone and bread leftover. Much nicer than plastic, and they don't dry out. I haven't gotten rid of the two low use cake plates, but they are being considered for removal. We'll see how it goes, but that is for the future. As I have said before, I would like to work toward minimalism without making my family crazy, and not taking too much away too quickly is part of that.

A minor thing I worked on is my collection of CDs. We still listen to them in the truck, but we had developed too many, and they no longer fit in the CD wallet we have. So we thinned the herd a little bit, and the holder now fits better in the truck. Not a major thing, but every little bit helps. Old CDs went to the kids' school, to be a craft project.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Daily Declutter

Today was crazy! My daughter had to get to dance class, while my son was presenting at two different locations today, and we managed to get everyone everywhere they needed to go, before lunch. We dropped my daughter off with a friend at 8am, then drove 45 minutes to my son's first presentation. He presented both of his speeches, then back in the car for another 45 minutes home, grab our chickens, then off to the library for a presentation on how to start backyard chickens. Home for lunch, picked up my daughter from class, ice cream for my son and a birthday present for a family member we'll be seeing tonight, then home for a nap. We needed that nap!

None of this is minimalist. It's not on the road to minimalist. But it is why minimalism is so appealing! I got it done, and I don't have a lot of other stuff to get done today -- I don't have to clean house, of buy groceries, or make dinner, or any of the millions of things that can place demands on my time. I took a nap. And it was good.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Daily Declutter

I wasn't good with decluttering today. I did make my menu, and I completed my shopping. Unfortunately, I needed to get some things at the thrift stores, and that's where things fell apart for me.

I bought a glass pitcher that looks like the one I had that I really liked, but broke. I will get rid of the pitcher I got to replace it that I never really liked. I got envelopes, and we needed them. I got some clothespins, because I always need clothespins -- they break or get lost from time to time. I got shirts and a dress for our vacation (my mother insists we need "Hawaiian" clothes. I got a beach chair for this summer, and beach shoes, and flippers for our vacation. I got an Easter present of a yoga mat for my daughter.

It didn't add up to much, money-wise, and a lot of the stuff is going to replace things we have or have run out of. However, I was surprised at how much stuff I needed to bring into the house.

Nothing was cleaned out, but by doing the menu and shopping today I did simplify the rest of my week, so that's a plus.

I am now exhausted (I took my son shopping for many of my errands) and I plan to make a pitcher of iced tea in my new pitcher, take my shoes off and read a book. I have a new book on hygge; I enjoy reading about how other people live, in the small details, and I enjoy reading about focusing on home and coziness. That will be simple and minimalist enough for today.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Daily Declutter

Next week we're expecting rain (hooray!),so I'm trying to get ahead on washing laundry. That way, I should be able to get through without using the dryer. So, I'm doing a little of this and a little of that. Actually, I seem to declutter by bits and bobs every day, squeezing it in between trips to and from school, laundry, dog washing, and other things I need to do to keep the home running. However, I do feel I have a little more free time than I used to. It may be the decrease in stuff, or it may be the decrease in shopping trips. Or it may be less computer time. Frankly, they all contribute to creating more time, or stealing it.

I found a pair of hiking boots that I thought I'd given away. If I didn't realize I had them, I don't need them. They're in the donate box now.

I gave up the ghost on my large laundry basket. It was breaking, and it just made doing laundry harder, not easier. I got rid of it, and I will see if I can get by with my smaller baskets instead. I will tell myself that it is better to make two trips to the clothesline, and get more steps in. Let's see if I believe me.

I moved a large LEGO tote out of the house, and replaced it with a smaller one. The LEGO area looks better now, and since we've gotten rid of some of the LEGOs I can get away with the smaller tote (and get a little floor space back).

I used some homemade furniture I had made up before, and I was less than thrilled this time. So I dumped the remainder, and I used some Feed and Wax I've had since ... dinosaurs roamed the earth? I'm not sure. I moved the remainder of the Feed and Wax into a smaller container that is easier to use, and I now have more space in my laundry/cleaning cabinet.

I had a set of four canisters, and I've gotten rid of the largest. Not a big change, but it does take up a little less space this way. I'd like to get rid of all of them, but we use one for sugar and one for power cords. We really need to one for power cords, so for now the canisters are staying. I could downsize to only two, but that looked weird.

I finally got the truck smogged, and it's nice to have that done. Now I can send in the registration.

So again, a bit of this and that. All this this-ing and that-ing is making things easier.

Minimalist Easter

Easter is coming, and I am starting to prepare, at least mentally. I have to start early or I don't have time to prepare the way I want to, and feel I am stuck buying things just to meet expectations (mine, or the expectations I think other people will place on me). So here are my early thoughts on planning a minimalist-ing Easter.

All holidays have their share of clutter. Gifts, wrap, decorations all add up to more than you usually have. A lot of it, frankly, is waste. Gift wrap is used once, then discarded. Too many gifts are simply not wanted or needed, and they become clutter or they are discarded -- neither option conveys the love the giver (hopefully) intended to communicate.

Easter is, in many ways, the easiest to simplify. Spring flowers and Christianity are both pretty minimalist in essentials. Plastic eggs and grass are less so. Either you have to store the eggs for 12 months, or you have to make landfill waste every year. Neither option is exactly appealing to me. But no one wants their children to grow up and complain to a therapist that their mom never let them have an Easter Basket because they made clutter. So I need an alternative and not just an elimination.

Likewise, I'm not exactly a ceramic bunny sort of girl. But I do want to decorate the house, and we host our entire extended family (about 20-25 people every year. It grows with weddings and will shrink this year since my sister moved out of town). How to I decorate festively without making clutter?

I've come up with a couple of solutions that seem to work for us. I know there are a lot of other ideas out there, and I would love to hear what other people do, so if I don't say something that really works for you, please let me know!

For our Easter egg hunt, and our Easter baskets, I have in the past simply reused the plastic eggs from previous years. People bring plastic eggs, and we pass along the plastic eggs we don't need. Each kid gets six or seven plastic eggs full of candy and dried fruit. They also may get a movie to share, new summer gear (goggles, swimsuit, towel). I always fill the basket with things they will use, not just filler. Some years I even dispense with the "basket" and just place their gifts on the table under a cloth, if the gifts are too large. No one has ever complained about not having a "basket" if they have a new game or book that won't fit.  Lastly, I fill a real chicken egg with chocolate. When they peel it, instead of a hard boiled egg there's a chocolate egg! (I bake the hollow egg in the oven to sterilize it, just in case.)

The majority of the egg hunt eggs, however, are cascarones, or confetti eggs. The kids then have fun smashing eggs on each others' heads (grandpa's are also excellent victims), there's a lot of running around, and we don't have a basket full of  plastic eggs and candy to horde. This has gotten better over the years; my nephew was diagnosed with Celiac, and casarones are gluten free. The older kids still have fun smashing confetti on each other, and it gives them a chance to act like kids.

Inside, I have a few decorations of the ceramic-bunny school, but I am hoping to reduce that number again this year. Last year I made origami butterflies out of damaged book pages, glued them to a stick, and placed them in mason jars with wildflowers. At the end of the day, the sticks went back into the yard, the mason jars went back into the cupboard, and the paper butterflies can be composted or recycled (I can't remember what I did). By keeping the project simple I was able to decorate and discard everything at the end, without making a huge environmental impact.

I still set the table with real china and glass I only use once a year. I can't think of a good solution for me here: I don't want to keep china for one meal a year, but I don't want to use disposables at Easter dinner, and I don't want to have enough everyday china for thirty people! So I keep my good china, and the Easter table looks sparkly and special, which is my goal. (And food. Lots of food is another goal!)

I use Easter lilies or other potted flowers around the house. If I am organized, I can buy plants I plan to plant in the yard, stick them in decorative pots and spread them around the house for decorations. I've done this several times, and I like how decorative the house looks, without ceramic bunnies.

In conclusion, I don't have more at the end of Easter morning. We don't have toys that will break easily. We don't have much candy, but we do have dried fruit for snacking or breakfast cereal. We have replacements for summer necessities that have become lost or damaged the previous summer. We have a lot of confetti on the lawn (but it decomposes because it is paper). The table decorations are recycled or composted, the table settings are washed and put away. Easter has been celebrated, but not with an increase in the amount of stuff we need to store.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Daily Declutter

Sometimes, I start clearing out a space and I wonder how I kept some of this junk for so long. I recycled two buckets today -- one was an old bakery bucket with no handle, the other held kitty litter once, and it arrived at our house when a friend delivered some bare-root plants. We didn't like to use either one, but there they sat, taking up space in the garage. Both are now sitting in the recycling bin, waiting to be picked up from the trash truck.

Other times, I get so frustrated with the junk around here that isn't mine, it's ours. I had to call my husband and make sure he was ok with me getting rid of those two buckets. Because they weren't mine and I couldn't throw them out if my husband still wanted them. It's just not polite. He didn't care, and I think that's probably true for a lot of the junk that's lying around here. I don't want to force him to spend an evening or weekend approving junk for disposal, or worse yet, cleaning the garage because I have a be in my bonnet, but I don't know another way to get rid of some of this stuff.

Getting rid of those two buckets was further progress on the removal of that shelving unit, though.

I also spent a little time torturing bathing the dog. I decluttered about a pound of stink off that animal. He's now sleeping on the sofa. The other dog got groomed yesterday, and Archie was laughing at Murray for it. He has since stopped. I've never been a person to get my dog groomed, but Murray is a poodle cross, and he gets pretty miserable if he doesn't get a haircut.