Friday, May 26, 2017

Daily Declutter

Today was the last day of project week at school. The kids worked hard all week, and they produced wonderful results, but I am looking forward to next week, when I can get back on schedule.

After taking people to school, and to projects, and back to school, and home again, I did my weekly shopping. I'm happy to report that I did not bring home anything extra from my shopping trip. I stopped by Goodwill and came home with a necklace (for my niece, the reason I stopped by the store), a shirt for me (because I have a hole in the shirt I am wearing. I literally am wearing out my clothes), and a cluttery Oreo box as part of my other niece's birthday gift (for next week). I did not buy a Little Miss Sunshine lunchbox for $2.99, even though it was cute. I don't need it, and I passed it up.

I'm glad I got my grocery shopping done for the week. Last week (with school activities) I didn't get everything I wanted, but we got through without an extra trip. This week I spent a ton of time shopping, but I feel confident in my menu plan and grocery shop. I'm ready for the week to begin.

On a different note, I think I will be following the advice of Juhli, to create a vision board of what I want our home to look like. If I can demonstrate to my family what I want, instead of just trying to get rid of the clutter, maybe they will be more eager to simplify, declutter and minimalist the home. (Also, I'd really like a verb form of minimalist. Minimalize?)

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Daily Declutter

There is clutter everywhere in my house! No matter what I am working on, I find little bits of clutter that I can get rid of. Sadly, I don't feel like I am making progress, although I know I must be.

I went out to the shed to check for a couple things for the craft project I was finishing. While I was out there I found a chalkboard that needs to go back to school, and some glow-in-the-dark stars that I bought when my kids were little. I have obviously never put the stars up, and the kids can no longer be considered little, so the stars can go to someone else (and yes, they still glow). I was also reminded of the Cherry Ames books I kept from my childhood. (I'm not sure if anyone else remembers her, she was a nurse in the '40's.) I will not be rereading these, at this point, but I offered the first ones to my daughter. If she loves them these books will not be clutter; however, if she is indifferent, I do not need to keep them for another generation. Either way, these books need to be read, and they do not need to remain in a box, just taking up space.

I also finally replaced my too-soft pillow. The old pillows (it took a while to find the right one) will go to my sister, who just moved to town and is waiting for her house to be available. I am sorry it took so long to replace my pillow; the replacement sat around the house for a long time before I finally put it on the bed. The old pillows sat around for a couple days before I took them out to the car (to deliver this weekend). I know the replacement and removal process should be automatic, but it wasn't in this case. That is disappointing to me. I need to get better at that.

Still, I haven't brought home anything other than food or library books this week. I have removed several things, and I am slowly clearing the bookcase in the shed.

By jumping around (now in the garage, now in the shed, now in the house) my family does not feel like I am denuding the house. If the shelf in the garage sits empty for a month I can give proof that we don't really need that shelf, and instead it would be better to store bicycles there; if I empty the bookcase in the shed, I can prove to my family we no longer need that storage system. They won't feel threatened and I will make progress. I know this, but it does make me feel like decluttering is not making as much progress as I would like. Slow progress is better than no progress, though!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Daily Declutter

Still moving forward. I sold a ceiling fan on Craigslist. Now I have a little more space, and the guy who bought it was really happy.

Other things are piling up. I'm working to get the silver polished so I can put it on ebay, and that't sitting around on the bar. The felt balls I'm using to make a trivet are drying, as is the birthday gift for my niece. The visible clutter is bothersome, but I know it is a step in the right direction, so I am working to get these tasks finished up so I can move on. By the end of the week everything should be finished and put away.

The library is my friend for reducing book clutter. Stopped by today to exchange books. I picked up a book I know I owned in the past, but it only took a couple days to request it from the library. For the most part, however, the things I read from the library are books that I will only read once, and I'm really glad I don't have to rehome them when I'm done.

The rest of the day was spent driving kids places. Not productive, but that's my job at this point.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Minimalism and My Family

I've gotten rid of a lot of my stuff, and I have a lot of stuff to work on still. But I also have a lot of stuff in my house that isn't mine. There are a lot of things that belong to the family collectively, live movies, books, dishes, paint (in the garage) and other stuff. I have to look at it, clean it, organize it (or organize around it) and otherwise deal with the quantity of stuff that exists. How do I balance my family's right to own what they value with my right and desire to reduce the amount of stuff I have to live with.

This is an popular question for people who are adopting minimalism. I've seen lots of blog posts elsewhere about how family members adopt minimalism. Usually it's a matter of "let them make their own decisions, and when they see how happy you are with less they'll come around."

But what about in the mean time? What about when your family is afraid the house will "look like a hospital room" if you get rid of all the clutter? What if you're going crazy every time you need a serving bowl and you have to shift things around because there's so much in the cupboard? (And I'm sure the two examples here are completely random and not something that has happened in my own personal life.)

I don't yet have a lot of answers.

 As I was on my hands and knees reaching to the back of the cupboard to get the dish I need, I swear that I will get rid of a lot of this stuff to make room for the things I need, and to make access to the things I need a lot easier. I will move some of the things that are in my way, to make my immediate life easier. Hopefully my family will become less attached to the things in storage, and hopefully they will not mind if I get rid of things that have been in storage a while. Hopefully they will find a clearer house more pleasant than a cluttered one.

It makes me grateful that I have spent so much time moving clutter out of storage, so I can move house-clutter out of the house. I'd rather get rid of it entirely, though. But decluttering shouldn't happen at the expense of my family's comfort, and sometimes they feel stressed or threatened when I change too much, too quickly.

Most important, the pursuit of minimalism shouldn't be about "stuff." It shouldn't be about material things. I am pursuing minimalism because I want to improve my life. I want to spend more time focusing on what is important -- my family, my friends, people -- and less time dealing with clutter. Sometimes, after I spend a couple of busy days with my family, I think that I am not decluttering "enough." After all, if I've been busy driving people to lessons, attending the fair and the zoo, I haven't "minimalist-ed." (Yeah, like that's a word.)

I need to remember that minimalism is a tool to improve my life with my family. If I am making my family unhappy by getting rid of stuff, I am working too fast. I'm prioritizing stuff above my family. Getting rid of stuff in preference to the needs of my family is not better than collecting stuff in preference to the need of my family.

So I will continue moving forward, slowly. I may slow down as the school year comes to a close, so I can be present with my family as they conclude their school years. I will remind myself that focusing my on family is minimalism, if I carve away the need to get rid of stuff and instead focus on what is most important.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Daily Declutter

This weekend I added a couple items, and didn't get rid of anything. I have needed replacement sunglasses, and this weekend I bought an emergency pair. I've been looking for a pair I like, but we went to the zoo Saturday and I needed a pair immediately because the sun was so hot and bright. I have been happy since then, because I have really missed having sunglasses.

I also bought a new reusable cup. I've had a large plastic cup that I have been using a lot, for a long time, but somehow it got lost. I was sad, because the weather is getting hot and I need water. So the new cup will replace the lost cup, and if the lost cup turns up then I will give it away (and not keep it for just in case).

On the other hand, I did ship an item from ebay. Slowly getting rid of stuff that way. I did decide to post the silver/silver plate, because I would like to pay off my car early. That adds another task to my list, but it will be worth it in the end. I've made enough to prepay two car payments, and that's definitely progress.

The remainder of the day was spent with family: we went to the zoo, to dance class (and a volunteer meeting) and a celebratory dinner in honor of my son, who worked so hard on preparing for his (unfamiliar) competitions at the fair. I didn't make much progress with "stuff," but I did spend time on the important things, which is what minimalism is really about.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Daily Declutter

This is one of those days that remind me why I need minimalism. There are no activities that I would like to cut, but having a schedule and having the home running smoothly allow me to be present in the moment, and that is definitely a desirable goal.

This morning I had a meeting at the kids' school (planning for the future of the school), I took my son to his competition at the fair (we'll find out results tomorrow), then grocery shopping and back to the fairgrounds to volunteer. It doesn't sound like much, but it took up the whole day! Sadly, by the time I got to the grocery they were out of the organic milk I like, so I'm not sure how that will impact my schedule for next week.

Still, I got an ebay sale packed up in reused packaging material, arranged for food for the week, supported my family and didn't make a mess. I didn't buy anything when I stopped by Goodwill, although I really could use a pair of sunglasses. I didn't succumb to temptation, not was I much tempted by anything, which is an improvement. I'll chalk this up to a win, and hope to do as well tomorrow.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Daily Declutter

Yesterday I had nothing to post because I was crabby with my family. I'm not proud of it, but I figured that if my family prefers to live with clutter, I'd leave everything lying around. Unfortunately, I have to live with it too, and so today I'm back on track.

My son is working of schoolwork with a friend today, so I tried to Not Act Weird in front of them. I headed out to the barn (big and red, no livestock) to clear out some of the clutter that lives there. We still have more LEGOs than any family should own, but there were other things that I could work on. I cleared out a box of silver or silver plate serving-ware I bought a bunch of years ago for my husband's class. He demonstrated science that removed the tarnish from silver, and needed lots of tarnished silver for that. But that was years ago, and I am still storing (tarnished) silver that we don't use for anything else. That is a big box that can go. (I don't know yet if I will sell it on ebay or just donate it, but it is no longer in "storage" and it now is somewhere I will know I need to deal with it.

I also went through a box of "Things I'm saving in case I need them for Christmas." Decorations I might want to make with the kids, things I might want to use to decorate packages, containers I might need to give gifts in are all sitting there, year after year, waiting for me to have enough extra time at Christmas. However, I don't see myself having extra time, outside of family activities, to sit with my family and create new decorations. If I do, I'd rather make gingerbread houses that I don't have to store, rather than something I do have to store and bring out for display every year! So a bunch of things from that box got donated, and instead I am storing more glass jars in there and a couple of gifts I already have. Better storage for the things I do want to keep, and better access to the things I do want to keep. This is good!

And, since I do still seem to have some of that Depression era mentality that makes it hard to get rid of "perfectly good things," I am making a mermaid necklace and jewelry dish for my niece for her birthday. That should be normal enough for my son and his friend, it will get rid of some of my craft stash, and I can avoid a trip to the shops, all wins. Hopefully my mermaid-loving niece will like her gifts.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Depression Era Thinking

I didn't get much clutter sorted today. I worked on laundry, and I had a dentist appointment, and I took my son to practice for the next round at the fair. So I did adult-responsibility things and I spent my time on things that are important to me and my family (including health and my children's interests).

But I did take a few minutes to move some clutter around. I sent the doilies I sold on ebay. It took me a few minutes to remember where I stored them -- inside a "really good" shoe box I had. It was really sturdy, and protected the contents of the box. But I didn't recognize the box at first as a holder for crochet doilies.

Eventually I found the doilies, and I shipped them off, and all is well. But what do you suppose I did with the "really good" shoe box? I did not set it out to be recycled. I put it back on a shelf to be used for "something" in the future. In case I need to hide something else in plain sight. In case I have a shoe box emergency.

I had a hard time recognizing the shoe box as clutter. It's useful for holding things and for storing things that need to be stored. However, I am trying to reduce the amount of stuff I am storing. I don't want to use it as a gift box with the popular admonition "it's not what it says on the box" as the recipient opens the gift. But I feel I ought to keep it because it "might be useful."

Growing up, my mother never got rid of pillowcases. Her mother told her to always keep them because "pillowcases are so useful." So my mother kept them, and I she taught me to always keep them. And I did, for years and years, until I realized I had a stack of pillowcases I had never reused for anything. If I never really needed them, they weren't really useful, after all.

My grandmother grew up during the Great Depression. Her mother had to scrimp to make ends meet, and the ends didn't always meet even then. Saving the few things that did come their way was truly helpful, if not necessary.

However, it's been more than a few years since the Great Depression began. Material goods are easy to come by, for most of us in the US. Maybe too easy to come by. As a result, we may need to develop a new way of thinking. At the very least, I need to develop a new way of thinking. Instead of looking at clutter as possibilities I need to accept the fact that I don't need to hold on to every potential. I can let things go. I don't need to save everything to protect against the Great Depression.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Daily Delutter

I was surprised how much clutter I moved this weekend.

When we pulled out the party box, which holds plates, cups, napkins, banners, flatware, etc, I found several packages of decorations that we will never use. So I dropped several packages of napkins and other party goods, still in their original packages, in the donation box. Someone will hopefully be really happy to have dragon/castle party supplies. I also got rid of the plastic ice bucket we've been keeping since I-don't-know-when. It was an ugly color, and I'd rather use one of the ceramic bowls I like to serve ice. Likewise, I got rid of a stack of plastic (reusable) cups, because I never want to drink out of plastic, even at parties -- if I'm desperate for drinking glasses, I'll use mason jars. They're even in right now, and I have a ton of those for canning and tupperware alternatives. (Mason jars are great for storing leftover soup, or spaghetti sauce, or gloopy things like that.)

But wait, there's more! I pulled out some of my baking supplies. I had a springform pan which I received when my grandmother was moving to assisted living -- roughly 12 years ago. I have never in that time made a cheesecake (the only thing I know to do with a springform pan). I also got rid of two pie plates (I never make more than two pies at once) and a nine-inch square glass baking pan. Family members (including my newlywed niece) took them home. As a result I was able to move my white Pyrex casserole out from the back of the cupboard to a handy spot in the front. I have hated the back-of-the-cupboard spot since I used it the first time; I have to crawl on my knees to get anything out from there, and that just isn't fun. I'd much, much rather get rid of unnecessary items than crawl around to get stuff I need!

Today I wasn't at home much at all. My son was showing his chicken at the fair. He won! Sadly, I didn't get to see him show his bird because I was driving my daughter to piano (his level showed out of order so kids could get to another event) but I was there to see him receive his prize. We will spend a lot of time this week learning about showing other animals because he will advance to the next level and be expected to show a chicken, rabbit, cavy (like a guinea pig), pygmy goat and dog. I'm so proud of him for all his hard work! (Also nice: he received ribbons, not a trophy for his prize, which will be easier to store.)

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Types of Clutter

I am realizing that there are two types of clutter in my house: Too Much clutter and Somewhere Else clutter. I believe that I will have less Somewhere Else clutter as I reduce the Too Much clutter, but I won't know for sure for a while yet.

What are these two types of clutter? Somewhere Else clutter is clutter that goes somewhere else. It is the sweater that I leave lying in the bathroom, because "I will want to wear that again tomorrow." It is the throw blanket that remains thrown on the sofa, instead of being folded up and put inside of the blanket chest that is right there. It is the half-finished craft projects, the gifts that need to be stored, the sewing machine components that need to be taken outside.

Then there is Too Much clutter. This is the clutter that we don't really need, stuff that we are hanging on to out of habit, or fear, or social expectation. This is the gift someone gave us that we need to pass along, the outgrown shoes, the decorative dust catchers we "need" to decorate" out home.

I struggle with both kinds of clutter. Somewhere Else clutter is something I feel I am improving on, personally. Too Much clutter is what I mostly address here. I hope that, by addressing the Too Much clutter my family and I will be more likely to put away the Somewhere Else clutter. (And if I get rid of the Too Much craft clutter I will not have it lying around being Somewhere Else clutter.)

Even if I'm wrong, carving away the Too Much clutter will be beneficial in the long run, since we won't be living here, like this, forever.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Daily Declutter

Today my baby turns 12! I'll be spending most of today celebrating her.

I woke up early to make pancakes (rare, she likes them mostly raw in the middle). I'll be bringing cupcakes to school, and we're going out for dinner to her choice of restaurant, with milkshakes. I hope she'll feel appreciated and special. However, she doesn't want much stuff, and I am not getting her much.

I feel like I should get her more things so she will feel loved and appreciated, but I also know this is bad reasoning so I am resisting this feeling. Tomorrow the extended family will come over to celebrate, and some of them will be bringing physical gifts while others will bring experiences.

Overall this weekend stuff will flow into the house, and I will not be spending time moving things out of the house. This is ok. We will spend time appreciating my daughter, and celebrating her. And this is the point of minimalism, at least to me: focusing on the people and not the stuff.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Daily Declutter

I narrowly avoided bringing home an office chair for my daughter yesterday. She really wants one, but I don't believe it will fit under her desk. However, it was free, so I wanted to try it. (If I had brought it home, and if I had been right, I would have been stuck looking for a new home for it.) Fortunately, when class got over the chairs were gone, so I was spared from temptation.

I had no idea I brought so much home.

Likewise, I am constantly amazed by the clutter I have lying around that I get used to, and I forget the clutter is even there. I am finally getting rid of the Squatty Potty I was given at Christmas. I'm pretty sure it was a gag gift, but I had to hang onto it until the person who gave it to me stayed over (for a planned event). However that was almost a month ago, and since then I have been cleaning around the Potty. (Don't know what I'm talking about? Watch the ad, and prepare to laugh. These people have the only possible attitude when selling something to promote bowel movements!) Now I can pass this along, and have less to clean around. (If only I could get rid of the scale as well! It's evil little feet collect hair, and I hate it, but my husband uses it.)

I know it would be more efficient if I cleared out one section of my home at a time (clear everything out of my bathroom, then put back only what I need) but my family is afraid of becoming too stark, too empty. So I will continue to work slowly, decluttering whatever I can, patchwork fashion, until either I have less stuff or my family joins the struggle.

I felt rather triumphant today when I realized that my daughter is turning 12, the magical age when she can use adult strength medications, not pediatric dosages. So I cleared out all the pediatric meds to pass along to a friend with small children. This allowed me to use the storage container to contain all the paraphernalia she needs in a much tidier way -- toothpaste, dental floss, bath fizzies and other miscellany will not need to live on the counter any longer. Likewise, since they were sharing my son't belongings no longer have an excuse for being clutter. Wiping down their bathroom will be easier. This begs the question: should I start having them wipe down the cabinets regularly, so they can learn that skill? This is a question worth exploring (for me!).

Unfortunately for me, there is a (friendly) snake in the front yard, so I am unable to go outside and move things around in the shed. Snakes give me the shivers. So the remainder of the day will probably be spend on regular cleaning and laundry and not cleaning out the clutter.

Daily Delutter

I was fairly grumpy yesterday, and my family noticed. A quick 10 minute tidy took care of a lot of the stuff that was left lying around -- including a couple of items that were't mine to decide about. Now those things are gone, and I'm feeling much better about the house in general. I tell myself that a minimalist home would never become messy, but I know I'm deluding myself. My family will always have the ability to leave things lying around, because they will always have shoes, jackets, schoolbooks and things like that. It is the nature of the beast, but I would like to simplify regardless.

Unexpectedly, I had to run to the store today. My daughter needed large pieces of cardboard for a school project, so I stopped by Costco and got some of their surplus. (They often have large, clean, flat pieces of cardboard between layers of products, and they let you take it home.) I dropped it off at school, and everything else I brought home was food. I also picked up a book for her birthday at Barnes and Noble, and a couple of Christmas presents for my niece and nephew at the 75% off table. But, other than the book I intended to buy, nothing else will stay here. I didn't succumb to any clutter temptations while I was out.

I found a few more kitchen items that I don't need. I will be dropping off empty plastic storage containers at the church, and I found an apron that I use twice a year at a museum I have been volunteering at. However, we will not be attending this year, and even if we did I could use some of the aprons they have there -- I do not need my own! This virtually has cleared one shelf in the kitchen -- the crummy one I have to kneel to use. It can remain empty, and I will be happy with that.

On a different note, I found this article about adopting minimalism, and the mindset toward stuff, which I found interesting.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Daily Declutter

Apparently, my home was invaded by angry monkeys. I have so much clutter lying around that I don't even want to deal with it -- I want to just give up and let my family live in the debris they have created. (Cue grumpy stamping up the stairs noises. And we don't have stairs.)

Despite my reluctance to deal with my family's zone of destruction, I did accomplish a couple things today. I checked everything off my To Do list today: move slipcovers out to the barn, mend a torn labcoat AND return the sewing machine to its spot, dispose of an item that I thought was donate-able (but wasn't), attend a meeting at church, return library books, etc, etc.

I even managed not to bring any new clutter into my home.

I didn't make any headway with the overall cleaning project, however. I put two pillowcases in the donate box (which was remarkably hard, since I grew up with the admonition to never throw away pillowcases because they're so useful. Useful for what I'm not sure.)

Once again, I will remind myself that tomorrow is another day. And at least I didn't add to the clutter today.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Daily Declutter

I have finally found the nature of my problem. Juhli (thanks, Juhli!) asked how much was coming into my house, since getting rid of stuff didn't seem to be as productive as I hope (she was much nicer about it, but these are my words). As it turns out, stuff keeps slithering into my house at an alarming rate, and I largely am unaware of the slithering.

This weekend (in which we got rid of nothing), my husband and I stopped by the thrift shop to buy him a mug to replace one that broke. We found a lovely mug, but then we kept looking! We bought a bicycle helmet for my son (his old one is in bad condition, so we needed it!), a pair of pajama shorts for him (he's grown out of everything else, and summer is coming), and a wetsuit for my daughter (who grew out of her wetsuit last year a will swim even if her teeth are chattering). All good stuff, right? All stuff we need, right? All stuff that is taking over our home!

Also, a friend came back from a trip to Japan and brought beautiful and useful gifts for all of us. Socks for my daughter. A tea cup for me. Another friend brought me food that her family can no longer eat and shopping bags from her mother-in-law's home (which she is clearing out). I am so blessed that  I have friends who think of me and give me goods. But, as everything is flowing into my home, it is filling up as quickly as I am working to empty it!

Recognizing the problem is the first step in solving it. Now I know why I still have so much stuff. I will pass along the shopping bags to my nieces, who have just moved out on their own. They can use shopping bags! I do not need to keep more "just in case." Some of the food will be donated to the food bank so it won't become food clutter. (Again, first world problem!) Duplicate items will be trashed or donated, as appropriate. I will not make homes for these things if we have not needed them, and I will try to find a way to block them from setting up shop in my home.

And on that note: my daughter is having a birthday this week and people are demanding we come up with suggestions for birthday gifts. (I should have such problems!)

Friday, May 5, 2017

Daily Declutter

Someone commented that I should look at what I'm buying (adding), not just what I'm getting rid of. Today was my errands and shopping day, so it's a good day to look at what I bought. Mostly groceries, and most of the groceries I bought were on the list: milk, bread, veggie burgers for the freezer (in case of a burger emergency. It happens.). I did pick up some ravioli that were super cheap, and if we don't eat them for lunch this week I'll make them for a quick dinner next weekend.

So I was feeling pretty good about myself. Then I remembered that I bought a pop-up canopy. We've been getting by with the old kind (with the legs that you put together) after our old canopy broke and we had a canopy emergency while camping out of state (I feel like my life has lots of emergencies today). So, this will be one in, one out for canopies. Part of me wonders if I can bring the canopy to the beach instead of the umbrellas I was given this week, but that seems like it would make trips to the beach much harder, and the point of minimalism is to make life easier. So I will keep three things instead of one thing, but it will make regular outings easier this summer.

I feel a little like it is wrong to keep more items. Even though I know more items will make life easier, I feel like "minimalism" requires I have fewer items. I will tough it out and go with the easier life, rather than the fewer item count.

---

So, I just went outside to put some bags away, and I found a soft dog bowl (for hiking) I also bought today. I didn't even remember it when I wrote the above! I think I have a problem! (But, we've tried lots of strategies for watering our dogs, and this worked best for us, but our old one was destroyed somehow, and we'll need it this summer for hiking. I know I have a problem with stuff!)

However, I did get rid of a couple of cardboard boxes that were either empty or full of trash. Why were we storing trash? It wasn't all trash when it went out to the garage, but it has deteriorated in the years its been out there (plastic) so that was an easy decision. I've spent a lot of time trying to recycle batteries I found out there -- although batteries account for only 1% of waste by volume they contribute 88% of the heavy metals in landfills. So I really need to dispose of used batteries responsibly, even though I really don't want to at this point. I have a call in to the Hazmat site here, so I hope to be able to get rid of the batteries next week, as well as some paint and old lightbulbs. The shelving unit is almost ready to move out, and I'm optimistic that just a little more work in the garage will make room for the buckets we have out there. (I also hope to donate several buckets, but I see my family balking at that, because buckets are useful, even though we haven't been using most of them.)

Progress was made, and I have identified a tendency to buy things without remembering that I did. Hopefully I can decrease that tendency and see greater progress.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Daily Declutter

Does emptying the freezer count toward deluttering? I used up a bag of frozen grapes, and I'v used up the bag of bread ends. Some are breadcrumbs, and the rest are bread pudding for breakfast this weekend. I've almost eliminated enough to shut down the chest freezer (most of the chest freezer is full of ice I've frozen to save energy).

I've processed all the loquats, and put the dried fruit away in the pantry. I no longer have fresh fruit staring accusingly at me; the dehydrator is waiting to be washed, as I type this, and it will be put away.

I was appreciating earlier today that the shelf by the front door is clear of almost everything except what belongs there. Sunglasses, the kids' iphone (for use only as a device to take pictures and listen to Pandora), an Easter decoration. My son's watch needs a new battery, and I will try to get that fixed tomorrow morning on my errands run. Other than that it's looking good.

I was going to work in the garage today, but the weather will be so much better tomorrow I put it off. Hopefully I will not get sidetracked by errands tomorrow morning, and I hope to finally clear off the shelf in the garage. I feel like it is more likely since I wrote down my goal.

I also did laundry, made dinner, drove kids, played games with the family. Not a tremendously productive day, but a good one -- I have to be happy with that.

Daily Declutter

Today was not a productive one. More pottering around, cut up more loquats for drying, that sort of thing.

I did find something in the shed that I realized I didn't need. I had a package of clay that I bought when the kids were little. It may have been there 10 years, but every time I looked at it I thought "oh, I'll use that some day to make seed bombs." However, I finally decided to give up the seed bomb idea -- if I hadn't done it in the five years I've been thinking of, I probably won't actually do it. When I opened to the package, I just shook my head; there was a sad, shriveled remnant that wasn't worth saving all these years.

Why did I keep this trash for so long? The clay is on the ground, waiting for rain, and the package is in the recycling bin. There's a little more space on my shelves.

It makes me wonder how much of the stuff that is sitting around it habit, and not even useful if I decided to try to use it?

Fortunately, as Scarlet O'hara said, tomorrow is another day. I have another opportunity to make a difference!

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Daily Declutter

I worked on the shed again. Pulled out a few more things: a couple of boxes that won't be useful for ebay shipping, a couple of items that I need to ship for ebay (hooray!), a basket for dropping fruit off to a friend -- if it doesn't come back, that's ok. I have some dried flowers I'm going to try to paint; I've been thinking about it for a while, and if it doesn't work out I'll just get rid of them (compost). If it does work out I'll use them instead of bows with giftwrap and move the flowers out of the craft supplies, regardless.

I also started a project that, while probably not on anyone else's list of minimalisting activities, will move out the giant bag of fabric scraps in the shed. Since it's a zero-waste sort of project I figured I'd mention it here. I've seen (for years!) pins on Pinterest showing string or twine made out of fabric scraps. I've spent the last 30 minutes or an hour twisting together otherwise useless scraps of fabric to make a very pretty string of twine which I can use as ribbon on gift wrap. It's fairly addictive and brainless enough to take to meetings or other occasions when I need to use my brain but not my eyes or hands.

Since I have a new source of ribbon for gift wrap I am getting rid of a couple of rolls of ribbon in my wrapping box. I'm not thrilled with the colors, but I didn't want to buy something new since what I have works. I have no idea where the odd-colored ribbon came from , but I know someone else can use it if I drop it off at Goodwill -- they always have bags of ribbon and yarn for sale.

This project will give me impetus to wrap the gifts I finished yesterday, and I'll be done with that.

Sadly, while I've been working on gifts and the shed, the house has gotten cluttered again. I've left project materials lying around and other people have left their things lying around. I need to work on minimalist habits (like I did in the beginning of the project, dealing with clothing left lying around) to fix the clutter that occurs when I'm working on projects other than Project Declutter the House.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Daily Declutter

I feel like I'm just keeping my head above water, but when I reflect I see progress. It's a really good reason to write things down!

I've been working on gifts, which isn't the same thing as decluttering, except this way I won't be stressed when it's time to give gifts. Reducing stress is a big part of minimalisting, at least to me, so I think it counts.

I finished my Mother's Day gift for my mom, except for wrapping.
I finished a gift for my nephew's birthday, except for wrapping.
I started loquat liqueur for Christmas presents (it takes four months to age).

I also cut up a ton of loquats and I am drying them. And I mostly kept the house sanitary. I am tired of people leaving food and dishes lying around after they eat, and I am on the warpath with this. I track down the guilty party, force the guilty party to clean up after himself/herself, and assign another household task as a "reminder" or reinforcement for the future. (Yes, it would be faster to do it myself, but then there would never be any improvement. And forcing someone else to vacuum/sweep/clean the bathroom is lovely. Even if this is not part of "minimalisting," it is what I've been up to today.)

I pulled out a box containing a torn lace tablecloth that belonged to my great-grandmother. I had been saving it because of heritage, but when I looked over it today it was not...special. My great-grandmother lived into the 1990's, and I'm not sure when she bought the tablecloth, but it certainly wasn't a wedding gift! I suddenly can let it go -- especially since my history-loving daughter was underwhelmed by the tablecloth. I will put the tablecloth in fabric recycling (it's that badly torn), the doilies will go to ebay, and I will free up a little more space in the shed.

That's about it for decluttering, but I did make life simpler down the road, and I'm willing to count that today!

Reusing Good Stuff

I went to a community-wide garage sale this weekend, and did pretty well. I didn't buy much, which is good, but I did buy a sweater that I didn't need, which is bad. The sweater was vintage, in beautiful condition, with beading and no holes and I couldn't resist. I also got a set of like-new brain puzzles for my father.

I shouldn't have gone to the garage sale in the first place, but I was looking for a couple items I know my family will use in the next couple of months. We live in southern California, and I know we will be going to the beach. My children like playing in the water longer than I do -- so I will be sitting on the beach, and I have wanted an umbrella in years past. My son wants a betta fish (actually, he wants a 20 gallon aquarium and I've talked him down) so I was looking for a bowl for the fish. I didn't come back with either, but as I looked a couple friends offered to supply both the bowl and the umbrella, so I'm set.

It made me think about all the stuff people have, things they don't want and would like to move to good homes. This same weekend I spoke to an elderly man who would like to get rid of the woodworking tools in his garage because he can no longer use them. He'd like them to go to a good home, but he doesn't have the wherewithal to find a new home (I'll be looking around for him).

As I get rid of things in my journey toward minimalism I want my stuff to be useful to someone else. I have so much that has either never been used or has not been used up. If my useful stuff could supply someone else's needs we would all be better off -- me, the person who needs them, the environment (less stuff made creates less demand on resources and creates less landfill). I feel frustrated when things I don't need lie around without purpose (this means you, souvenir Jamaica hat someone gave us!)

I'd like more people to be open to used items as an answer to a need. I'd like more people to be willing to give used items as a gift, without an associated stigma (the puzzles are not "used up" because they have been used!). I'd like people to have a safe way to offer their unwanted materials to other people.

I don't have answers. I just hope that other people are trying to get answers to the same questions.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Daily Declutter

I started making wool felt balls out of the "craft supplies I need to use up or give away." I also realized that I like browsing Pinterest more than I like actually making things. And I like making things because I need to use something more than I am apt to find a pin, then gather the supplies and go make something. So forcing myself to use up supplies is beneficial in a couple of ways: I will have Christmas presents completed before Christmas, I will clear out clutter, and I am learning about myself. All good things!

However, craft projects are fairly messy. I have felt balls drying on the window sill in the kitchen, and wool roving sitting around waiting to me made. I wonder if making "things" will be something that will fall by the wayside as I become more minimalist. I do know that I am having a harder time finding things to make that don't seem like clutter.

I also am making dried loquats and loquat liqueur. The dried fruit will be for snacks, the liqueur will probably be for gifting, depending on how it turns out. One year the liqueur turned out dark brown instead of lovely golden. I still tasted good, but it wasn't lovely for gifting.

This is the weirdest declutter project I have heard of, but while I was rummaging around to see if I had enough vodka to make liqueur I decided to declutter my wine store. No, not like that! Seriously, I have several bottles of wine that I know have to have been there since at least last Easter, if not the year before that. These are not vintage bottles that I will save for my grandchildren's christening -- they need to find a home. I cannot offer them to family, since family gave them to me, so I will be offering them to the other moms in my daughter's dance class. (I envision myself standing by the trunk of the car handing out bottles of wine, and it is not a pretty picture.)

I made blueberry vodka for a nephew's birthday. I'll pack it with the recipe for blueberry vodka lemonade (how's that for a summer refreshment?) and some chocolate port I found, I know port's more of a winter drink, but it sounded too good to pass up. I'll be packaging the vodka in a cute bottle I've been saving for years, so that counts as decluttering as well. (Bonus: the aging vodka is in the cupboard, so it doesn't look cluttery as it steeps.)

Are you getting rid of things? Let me know!

Minimalist-ing to Self-Discovery

I don't actually know if it's a matter of minimalist-ing alone, or if writing about it is more important, but I find that I am getting to know my likes and dislikes better as I examine my possessions with an eye to decluttering.

As I worked at decluttering my craft supplies I realized I don't really love the idea of coming up with ideas for the supplies I have; I'd rather have a vision of something I'd like to make and improvise materials to create that vision. This past Christmas I enjoyed making gift tags and ribbon out of found materials much more than using up felt to make a trivet. (Although I love the way the trivet looks!)

I also am beginning to realize that I would rather give clutter-free gifts, rather than clutter-y gifts. This means I'd rather make seasoned salt, flavored sugar, fruity alcohol, soap, jam, crackers, peanut butter, lotion , bath salts, knitted socks or something rather than give a gift that will sit forever. Since most of the things that are consumable require few permanent supplies, I can get rid of a lot of the supplies I have saved.

I also can spend time throughout the year making alcohol, jam or socks instead of stressing out in November and December. I've always known I like that better.

I'm willing to give away books that I do not reread regularly -- and I'm willing to give away those books I do reread regularly if I'm able to get them easily from the library. (Frankenstein is always checked out in October, so I do need to own it.) The same goes for seasonal movies -- I'm much better at anticipating a need for them.

I find it is interesting that I do not know myself as well as I should; it is interesting that I can get to know myself better by looking to get rid of the things I do not want to keep. I guess it means the real me has been covered in clutter.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Daily Declutter

I did stuff today! I'm much more proud of myself than I should be, but this is the first time in a couple of weeks that I have been able to make a concerted effort to declutter an area. I went out to the shed yesterday, and was faced with the horror of other people not putting things away. I put out of season sheets away in their boxes (I love flannel sheets in winter!), mended a sheet that got torn (on an edge where it doesn't matter for feel but it does matter for wear, and generally put things away.

Then, I started clearing up the craft supplies. I have a really hard time getting rid of these because I feel that they might be useful for a gift, or for a school project. But honestly, my kids are past the age when they need to make a lot of school projects out of cotton balls and popsicle sticks. I threw away baby food jars (but I don't have a baby! If I need them, how will I get them? --- I haven't needed them in 11 years, I'll probably live without them.), lids to jars I no longer have, dirty cardboard (?!). I donated fancy cut-out confetti, modeling clay, flat marbles, a cute basket.

I also created a container of "If I don't use it this year I'm giving it away" stuff. If I found something that is just too useful to give away right now, I put it together. This will be my first line of attack when making gifts for people. The three single pompoms that can be used on a birthday gift tag? Use 'em or lose 'em. The bag of rainbow colored wool fleece? It will become a trivet this year or never. I feel too tense to get rid of this stuff without giving it one last chance, but I also don't want to keep everything forever "just in case." Make the decision now and don't keep everything always.

I know it would be cleaner to just get rid of these supplies and replace them or do without. It would be more "minimalist." But I also want to be true to myself, and I like making personal gifts for people. I like the creative process, and I like having a low impact/zero waste gift giving style. I figure the compromise will be beneficial by the end of the year. Since I've taken so long to collect all my clutter, it's fair to take some time to streamline without making myself or my family feel deprived or pressured to get rid of things to meet an outside standard.

Clutter-free Mother's Day Gifts

I found gift giving really difficult ...ok, always. I have a hard time choosing things for people. I'm a little like Shrek, "Well, I don't really like it, but I thought you might..." I'm also not great at receiving gifts, but I think I fake it pretty well. (I hope so!)

As I embrace minimalism, I don't want to get someone else something that will sit around someone else's house, collecting dust and creating guilt. Another blogger referred to these items as a "clutter burden," and that exactly describes how I feel about some gifts I have given or received. So I've been trying to create a variety of consumable gifts. At Christmas I gave handkerchiefs, body scrub, homemade Nutella lip balm, knitted socks, things like that. I figure they'll get used, used up, and (hopefully) recycled at the end of their lifespans.

But, Mother's Day is coming up, and Father's Day after that. I need new inspiration, and you probably do too. I don't want to just get whatever the radio station is pushing this year. (My radio stations have already started with Mother's Day ads. My mother does not need jewelry or shampoo, but thanks for asking, radio station.)

This year I'll be making flavored salts for a variety of gifting occasions. They're interesting, unusual, and very low waste. Chili-lime salt, on roasted potatoes, sounds amazing to me! Red wine sea salt looks beautiful, and Sichuan- sesame salt is supposed to be yummy on watermelon and mango, and those are just coming into season. I think that would be a great set, and it will end up in a variety of people's gift boxes now and through Christmas this year.

If your mom is more sweet than salty, flavored sugars might be the gift for her. Lemon, orange, vanilla, mint, cinnamon. Sprinkle the sugar on toast or cookies, or stir it into tea for a flavor boost.

Bath salts are classic, but there's a reason. I prefer to package them in reused plastic containers (because I don't want to drop glass when I'm barefoot), but if your mom's not clumsy, a pretty glass container is more elegant. I've also made this for my daughter's male dance teacher, but we relabeled it "muscle soak" to be more "manly." If you have a dad who suffers from sore muscles often, this might be something he'll appreciate.

Of course, if you'd prefer to buy something rather than make something, I like experience gifts. A massage, dinner out (on a day that is not Mother's Day!), someone to clean the house -- any of these would be a hit for me. Of course, you know your mother better than I do, so think of the things she does, and either get her something to make her regular activities easier (house cleaning service) or encourage an interest she has. I've seen a lot of Groupons here for wine tasting and painting classes (together), so if your mom is creative, this might be the gift for her. I really like Groupons because they present ideas that I often wouldn't have thought of otherwise, and they get me out of my rut.

I'd love to hear other ideas for Mother's Day gifts, from mothers and not-mothers. I love hearing new ideas for things people can use without making clutter.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Daily Declutter

I'm working to get back on schedule. I shopped for meals through Thursday, and I will be going shopping Friday as usual. In menu planning I cleaned out the pantry (again), getting rid of a couple things I didn't want, and using empty space better. I have open shelving in the kitchen; as I use up the contents of the jars on the open shelves I have not been replenishing as I once did. I will likely not be making chili for the next several months, and I will buy chili beans when autumn approaches. Right now that jar can be used to hold pasta. Thus, the pasta shelf is emptier and more easily examined and things are less likely to be overlooked.

I also looked at a couple other ingredients I primarily use in winter. Dried mushrooms will be converted to mushroom powder or mushroom salt and used up instead of sitting on the shelf for six more months. Coconut flour will become muffins this weekend.

However, when I was putting the suitcases away in the shed, I found a scene of horror and desolation. Ok, maybe it wasn't quite that bad, but it sure felt like it! People have been shoving things in the shed, and it's virtually impossible to walk around in there. At least I know what I need to work on next! I hope to spend some time out there tomorrow, and in the coming week, to determine what is necessary or desired by my family and what can be donated. Desired things will be stored effectively. Although storing things is less efficient than just getting rid of stuff we aren't using, it does allow my family time to become detached, so they don't rebel against this whole "minimalism - thing" I've introduced.

All in all, things are back to the way they were before we hosted Easter dinner and went on vacation. I now feel I can move forward again.

Minimalist-ing Vacation

I've mostly recovered from our vacation. (Which seems like a ridiculous thing to say, but after our flight, staying up until 1 am, then having to get ready for school the next, I do feel like I need to recover.) I don't have much laundry left to wash, and much of what's left is leftover from Easter dinner. I think I had one extra load from the vacation, consisting of swimsuits.

I'm really happy with what we pack, and what we brought home, for the most part. We went to Hawaii, courtesy of my parents (thanks, Mom and Dad!), so we didn't need much in the way of warm clothing. As I mentioned before, we brought two backpacks, two carry-on suitcases and a dufflebag of snorkel gear for a week. I would leave the snorkel gear next time, and just rent it there. When you add up the number of days we spent snorkeling vs. the price of buying the gear and paying for checked baggage (both ways), it wasn't worth the cost, and I do not see myself snorkeling here.

I will bring an umbrella next time (we ended up buying some there) because, although rain is usually light, it isn't always. I did bring a sweater (against advice) and that was useful, both on the flight and one or two evenings. It seems like Hawaiians air condition the buildings a lot, and I got chilly indoors, even though it was nice outside. But that's just me.

For the return trip we dropped off a couple things at a thrift store. It gave us space in our bags for the things we collected on the trip (I hesitate to call them souvenirs, but they came home anyway.) Four or five shell necklaces, from the luau. I left mine behind, but the rest of the family seemed to need to take them home. Several boxes of chocolate covered macadamia nuts, and a bag of plain macadamias. A couple of pens with faces and fluffy hair that the kids were given at a show. Palm frond fish that we made at the Polynesian Village (a great outing!) and a couple palm frond headbands. Really, not that bad, although several of these things I wouldn't have brought myself (I would rather then necklaces have been left at the luau, but I'm trying not to make my family nuts with this project, so I didn't suggest they leave their necklaces behind.)

In all, for one week in Hawaii, I packed:
3 dresses (I wore one on the plane, for four dresses in total. One was a "luau dress.")
1 sweater
2 swimsuits
undergarments
pajamas and robe (because I have a phobia of having to evacuate my room in the middle of the night. It's happened a couple times before, for fire alarms, and I am NOT going out without clothes.)
2 pairs of shoes

The rest of the family packed similarly, with two pairs of shorts and 2-3 t-shirts and 1-2 collared/luau shirts for the guys. We hung up our clothes to air, after wearing, and didn't feel grubby for wearing the same thing more than once. Backpacks contained a reusable water bottle, books and entertainment for the plane, and snacks.

We absolutely did not feel that we needed more, and we thrilled to have a minimal amount of stuff to transport. I hope this information is helpful to you if you're planning to go away for a while -- I looked at a lot of "packing tips" sited before our last vacation, to make sure I wouldn't get there and not have "enough."


Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Home from Vacation

I spent the last week on vacation with my parents. I lied to myself, and thought I'd post while I was gone, but we were so busy I never thought of it. Not once, until I was in the airport on the way home. Sorry to leave without explanation!

My parents treated us all to a week in Honolulu. It was an amazing experience that we could not have afforded on our own. I am so grateful for my parents, this time together, and this amazing gift!

Traveling by airplane and living in a hotel for a week emphasized how I love minimalism! For the four of us we packed two backpacks, two "carry on" luggage pieces and a dufflebag of snorkel gear. Moving around the airport was great, with each person having one bag to carry. I also learned some things about traveling -- in the future I'd leave the snorkel gear and just rent it there!

Having so few bags meant we had few items to clutter up our hotel room. My kids slept in my parents; room, and their space got pretty cluttered with twice as many people, and my parents had brought more luggage than we did. Enjoying the clean space was very nice! However, we did get rather cluttered by the end of the week because we had purchased things but those things didn't have a "spot." For example, we bought crackers for lunch (crackers, cheese, almond butter and a pineapple make an easy picnic lunch) but there was no kitchen in the room, so they just sort of sat out and shifted around until we finished them up.

I think I could have brought less, and been equally happy. Having less to transport, maintain and collect certainly is easier and more enjoyable than having more.

I will write more about minimalism and this past holiday, but today will be spent in recovery. We need milk, fruit and clean laundry, and that will be my focus for today.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Daily Declutter

Still sick. I've taken a nap every day this week! And not in the good, "I feel lazy I think I'll have a nap" sort of way; more in the "If I don't go lie down I'm going to fall down" sort of way.

However, Spring Cleaning must progress because we have people coming over for Easter. The kids' bathroom has developed an odor (other than usual kid bathroom smell) and we must track it down and destroy it. As a part of that effort, we (and by we, I mean one of the kids because I'm sick and can't smell the smell if they find it) cleared out everything under the sink -- lots of clutter removed there. I'm not sure what everything was, but I know there's a lot less in there now.

I also washed the shower curtain with vinegar, removed the bathmat to wash (not done yet, but it is planned, with the cleaning rags and other gross things) and the odor is now gone. Two benefits in one!

This year, despite suffering from the terrible virus of Terribleness, getting ready for Easter has largely been easier than usual. The flat areas that usually collect so much debris are already clear. Lots of areas are less cluttered, and habits I'm implementing seem to be making a generally favorable impact overall.

Not minimalist, but definitely better than it's been in the past.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

At least we're not falling behind

I have been sick with a horrible cough. It keeps me up nights, so I'm exhausted as well, from not sleeping. (Duh.) I've been doing things like...sitting on the sofa reading books, and napping. Not exactly making a lot of forward progress. Oh, and laryngitis. So I've been practicing my charades skills. (Not as much fun when I'm acting out "go empty the dishwasher.")

 I was planning to spring clean and get rid of some family possessions, but my current plan is simply to make the house clean enough to host the family on Easter. Thankfully everyone is bringing something to share, or I'd have to cancel, seriously. However, the doctor says I only have a virus, and it will pass in two weeks, at the latest. In case you're keeping track, that's exactly the length of Spring Break, so that's comforting.

And I'm crabby. Did I mention I'm crabby?

Yesterday my husband went to his dad's house to clear out the attic. His parents stored everything in the attic. Taxes from their parents, greeting cards, collections they no longer collect, two toaster ovens, pillows, photographs (please, please don't store your photographs in the attic! If the heat doesn't get them, the silverfish will).

My wonderful husband did NOT bring home a lot of things to keep. A plastic trash can to replace one in the garage that is broken (one in, one out). A few books. Two old suitcases (which I use for storage, instead of plastic totes. I'm hoping the train case can replace my plastic bin of craft supplies). His school records, which he plans to look through with the kids, then recycle. A few other things on that line.

I'm so happy and grateful that he did not come home with boxes of things that had been important once, that no longer have utility to my husband or anyone. It is so easy to look at that sort of thing, remember the memory and suddenly become unable to get rid of the item. Although we've been living happily without a memory of his third grade teacher, or the coloring book from the trip he took in 1981 (I'm not making this up), it is easy to get bogged down with the memories.

So, although I'm not doing anything useful right now, I will be grateful that things aren't getting worse while I lie around looking like furniture.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Daily Declutter

Yesterday was win some, lose some. I got rid of a couple more pitchers, a beautiful blue glass bottle that I never use (but it would look really pretty with a couple yellow daisies sticking out of it. Not that I do that. So out it went), a couple of clear glass Pyrex bowls (the one used for school went out to storage with other school stuff). Laundry was washed, folded and put away.

I also emptied the dish drainer and put it away under the sink. The kitchen looks so much tidier without the dishes piled up all day, so I will try to implement this as a new daily habit. (When the dishwasher gets emptied people put things on the rack to finish drying, and the drying rack has developed a habit of always sitting there, full of clean dishes, until the next load of dishes need to be dried. Not lovely.)

However, the decorations above the kitchen cabinets are going back up. My family missed them, and asked for them back. I will put that back this morning, as they live here too, and they get a say in what the house looks like. This is part of the reason I am decluttering so slowly (I remind myself), so my family can participate in the process and also be comfortable at home. But I'm pretty disappointed that they noticed, and resisted.

Still, the amount of stuff I got out of the cupboard was significant, and those cupboards continue to become more functional.

Today is shopping day, so I will be running around getting all my errands done. I already emptied the dish rack and my menu is mostly made for next week (Spring Break! Hooray!) so I have a good start on today, and I am optimistic that the day will be a productive one. I might even be able to get the shelving unit and the weed trimmer posted to Craigslist, making a lot more storage space and room to park the truck in the garage!

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Catching Up

Sorry I've been absent. My daughter borrowed the computer to work on a project at a friend's house, and while she brought the computer home, she left the power cord. So I've been without access to the internet for a couple days, while we waited for the cord to come home.

I made good use of the time, however. We went to Disneyland (our last time on the Southern California pass), then came home and spent the day at the theatre, with my daughter's dance show. So I wouldn't have had much time for writing -- I haven't had time for decluttering, either, so I wouldn't have had much to write about.

I feel so motivated, though. My daughter's friend had an absolutely beautiful, minimalist home. I even got to peek in her pantry, and that was not cluttered, either. The house felt calm, and tidy, and spacious -- even with a bunch of middle school girls working on a project. I know my home feels cluttered and untidy because I feel the need to deal with a lot of the clutter that lies around here, but I'd like that feeling of calm to be part of my home. I'd like to get rid of pieces of furniture to make the house feel more spacious -- but I'm pretty sure the calm wouldn't happen in that case, because my family would rebel against the changes. So I will soldier on, but more aggressively, I think.

I did remove all the decorative items from above the cabinets. No one has noticed, but I do like the clean look of not having stuff up there. And if no one notices, no one must mind, right? Or maybe it's because no one had been home.

I'm also planning to move the things we use once a year out to the storage area. My husband has a couple of household items that he uses once a year for school. I can move those outside, making better use of living space and still have the things we need. A compromise that will keep both of us happy.

Other than that, I'm just doing the things I need to do to keep the house running. Laundry, menu planning, cleaning. Hopefully I can declutter a little while I'm at it!

Friday, March 31, 2017

Stalling

If you've been reading this blog lately, you might have noticed that I've been stalling. I just don't seem to be making much forward progress. Part of the problem is the fact that I share my home with my family, part is that I've already eliminated the low hanging fruit, and part is because we've been so busy.

At this point, I have seen a difference between the beginning of the project and now, but I'm not making much progress right now. I'm trying, but I feel like I'm not making the progress and change I'd like.

Should I accept this as a seasonal reality -- I can't make big changes while the kids are so busy with activities, and I'm preparing for Easter. Should I just wait until May is over, and begin large scale change when school gets out? Should I just limp along for the next two months? Or is there something I should do right now to get things really going?

I've been making little changes, and they are beneficial. I've gotten rid of much of the stockpile of food in the pantry, and I'm buying things as we need them. Before I started a menu plan I needed to keep lots of "just in case" foods. Now is simpler. The shelf by the front door and the bar are both usually tidier than they ever were before. I've reduced the bags of frozen fruit in the freezer, and I can use it more efficiently than I used to. Actually, it seems that everything is more efficient now.

The improvement I have experienced so far encourages me to make more improvement, but I don't see an easy way to do that.

I know I'm droning on, but I feel I ought to post honestly. Minimalist-ing is not always an easy process, even though I really enjoy the results.

Daily Declutter

Last night I realized we had a duplicate copy of the Second Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling. I love Kipling; The Jungle Book, Kim, Just So Stories. However, since I have a second copy, I will be getting rid of one. As I pulled it off the shelf, I thought I'd check to see if there were a market for it on ebay. Turns out there is! I'm excited to find out that someone else can use it, and I'm excited that the little bit of space this will save on my shelf is enough to display a pretty vase that has sort of been floating around.

I also listed a bundle of handkerchiefs. Someone might find them useful as wedding season approaches, but my family would much rather have new flannel handkerchiefs than vintage cotton. They are also not impressed by embroidery -- scratchy on delicate noses -- so those can go find a better home, where they will be appreciated, and not neglected in a drawer around here.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Daily Declutter

Almost done with the shelving unit in the garage! I've been working on this slowly, so my husband can get used to the idea and not freak out, but I'm almost done. The things that were on there have either been decluttered or rehomed elsewhere (where something else was decluttered) and we will soon have room for our bicycles and our truck in the garage.

I moved some boxes closer to where I store ebay items. This should make packaging things for shipping easier, and it got some space freed up in the garage. I'm hoping to put the dog clippers on Craigslist this afternoon, and that spot will be open. I'll also be putting a beer making kit on Craigslist. It was a gift, and my husband enjoyed it, but not enough to keep making the beer. So hopefully the beer kit will find a good home as well. I packaged up most of the parts of the kit, and I am waiting patiently for my husband to finish off the last couple of beers before I post it, so I can include those bottles for the new owner.

I don't know if this is minimalist-ing topic, but it certainly is making my life better! My son has not demonstrated the ability to clean up after himself when he makes food, unless I remind him to do so. So I have been coming in to find the remains of his sandwich on the counter (bag of bread out, open; peanut butter, open; sticky knife on the counter; crumbs everywhere). Finally, in desperation, I warned him that I would make him clean the toilet if he didn't start cleaning up after himself. After all, if I have to do something I don't want to do (remind him to clean up after himself), then he can do something I don't want to do (clean the toilet). Today, he learned to clean the toilet! I didn't have to do my most-hated chore, even though I still had to remind him to clean up the counter. (I mind reminding him less when it means I don't have to do my most-hated chore). Either way, it's a win for me -- either he learns to clean up after himself or he can clean the toilet. (And in case you feel too sorry for him, he's in high school. When he moves out, and when he gets married, the people he lives with will appreciate this skill set.)

I decluttered a tiny cast iron frying pan that came with a Christmas gift. I have not used it yet, and although I love the way it looks, it clutters up the cupboard and makes using my real pans harder. So out it goes. I also found a few more silk flowers for school, and a couple more CDs. They will be dropped off and used for crafts at the annual fundraiser.

The weather is warm enough now, I don't think I need to worry about frost any more, and my basil will be moved outside. It will grow better with more root space, and it will no longer live on the bar, inviting people to drop other things on that flat space to keep the basil company. (Someone is keeping it company right now with a DVD, a script for church, and the box of stained glass still waiting for a trip to the hardware store for hanging hardware. That will be dealt with this afternoon, when it is time to pick my daughter up from school.)

As for the remainder of my day, I will make my grandmother's perogi, and freeze it for Easter dinner. Some will be tonight's dinner as well! Potato-cheese dumplings, topped with sour cream. That will take up the remainder of the afternoon, but it will be worth it!

 

Daily Declutter

Moving forward again! I photographed several more items for ebay. My box of donations is full, and needs to be dropped at the charity shop -- I'll try to drive by there tomorrow. A vintage mechanical adding machine/calculator is finally posted. I'm glad it's dealt with, because I'm posting it for someone else, and I'm glad to get it off my to-do list.

I heard back from our tax accountant, and our taxes are all done! My to-do list, or really important things, is about done. I'll send in my auto registration, and I think that's all I have hanging over my head. It feels so good to have adult responsibilities dealt with!

I also had to run my son to sign up for a class in the fall, run him to a 4H meeting, run him to another meeting, run him home and then run myself to a meeting. So I didn't get as much done at home as I might like, but I didn't waste much time, either. (And while he was signing up for class, I got to read my book, which was nice!)

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Is Minimalism for Me?

I loved the look of minimalism for a long time before I decided to pursue it. For many years I tried to simply declutter or organize my clutter. I have a lot of storage space, including two sheds and a garage. (We don't have any storage space in the house, except closets, so a little of the storage I can justify for Christmas decorations and such, but not most of it.) Why is minimalism a lifestyle worth pursuing?

Minimalism seems to be a much simpler, more focused lifestyle. I am seeking simplicity and focus. I don't like the scattered distraction I get so often. I have a busy life, and I would like to eliminate the inessentials. That is what minimalism seems to be about.

I look at the minimalism practiced by some people, and the pictures posted to Pinterest (I am breaking my Pinterest habit, and I spend a lot less time there, but I do check in). I cannot see my family supporting me if I moved to that level of minimalism, and they have to live here too.

Will I ever be a "minimalist?" Will I ever be down to 100 items, or just enough to pack in a dufflebag, or something like that? I doubt it. I do want my own version of minimalism, though, that contains the essentials without the surplus. This includes physical surplus, mental surplus and commitment surplus.

So what's the difference between just decluttering and minimalism? To me, decluttering involves getting rid of things that are extra, things that are in my way or not used. Minimalism is about identifying what is important and getting rid of anything that doesn't qualify as important. So I have to decide if the meetings I attend are important, or if they are something that just adds busyness to my life.

Dance class is important to my family -- or at least parts of it. Running is important to other parts of my family. 4H is important, but I can participate at a lower level. My version of minimalism requires I identify which commitments are essential and eliminate the others.

I have been working to discard physical things that are not essential. The extra car is extra, and keeping it in case I might need it in the future is contrary to how I want to live now. So the car was decluttered, and I feel much better without it.

So, I guess the answer to my question is yes, but it's not the same minimalism that other people practice. I think that's the best way to approach minimalism (or any activity): find the aspects of minimalism that apply to how you want to live and embrace them. If I get to define minimalism for myself, I think I can say minimalism is for me.


Monday, March 27, 2017

Daily Declutter

Being off my game this past week has certainly left me behind! I got a couple parcels posted, but ebay did get a few things out of my house. That was about it last week.

This week, I have a lot of general clean up to do. Today I worked on laundry, and general tidiness. I also ran a kid to the dentist (and sat during the cleaning, because I didn't have any shopping to do. I brought a book to read, but ended up just chatting instead, and I really enjoyed myself!), then to the junior college to register for classes. I will be running him in again tomorrow to finish registration. I did make dinner, instead of stopping by for burritos, thanks to the menu plan. (I have no idea how I got by for so long without a plan!)

Still, things look better than they once would have been, after a week of being sluggish. The bar currently contains a plant, a gift we received yesterday (I need to stop by the hardware shop to get something to display the stained glass created by a dear friend. I definitely want to keep the chicken stained glass he made!), the "gift bag" from the dentist, a book I was reading at the table while I ate a snack (a terrible habit, but there you are. Something to work on, eating mindfully.), and I think that's it! A definite improvement from years before. Reducing the amount of available clutter, and creating a schedule for meals has really helped.

Tomorrow afternoon will be about as hectic as today, but I am optimistic that I will make forward strides in the morning.

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.


Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Daily Declutter

Today I got rid of a bunch of things, but they're mostly tiny. Still, it made a difference! I went through my bureau: I got rid of a box of vintage handkerchiefs, some jewelry I never wear, and a jewelry box I've had since I was a girl. If I don't love it, and my daughter doesn't want it, I don't need to keep it!

I sometimes think that I should keep certain things to pass down. I didn't have a lot of things from my "ancestors" when I was a kid, but I wanted a sense of history. I read a lot of books involving treasures found in attics, and I wanted an attic of treasures to explore. For that matter, I also wanted a secret compartment and a window seat. My daughter doesn't seem to feel the same longing, and I guess my grandkids can be happy with whatever survives the various purges through the years. They'll both appreciate not having to deal with all my stuff in the interim, as will I.

Anyway, clearing away those things eliminated most of the clutter that was on top of my bureau. All that's left is a clock, our wedding topper (a Lenox figurine of a bride and groom; it was a gift from my mother-in-law to-be) and a booklet of family coupons (good for folding laundry, or sweeping, or cleaning the bathroom. A precious gift to savor!). Now I just have to rehome a couple pieces of good jewelry, and the handkerchiefs on ebay. It is definitely cleaner looking right now, and it will be even better after I dust!

I washed out a pickle jar to store bulk oatmeal I've had sitting on the counter. It was on sale, and I overbought, but my family will definitely use it, eventually! I struggle with overbuying things that we will use, but I don't have room to store. I'm sure that will get better.

I did find a package of gnocchi in the cupboard that had gone bad. Really bad. I threw it away, rather than try to return it to the store, because I didn't want to look at it for the rest of the week until I went to the store. I figure that's an improvement. In the past I would have kept it to get my money back, but my piece of mind is worth more than the $2 I'd get from returning the gnochi!

Sometimes, it's hard getting rid of things I've had for a long time

I've been decluttering literally for years. Possibly even decades. Getting rid of Stuff is not easy at this point, although it once was. That stack of magazines? Gone. The old textbooks? Gone.

It's harder now. I look through piles or shelves of things (yes, I still have piles and shelves of things) and the things I see are all things I've chosen to keep. Some things have made the cut numerous times. That pretty milk glass cake plate is a collectable. It's almost an antique, if it isn't already! Surely I need to keep that! Likewise the copy of Tom Sawyer I got from my grandfather (I've always hated Tom, but I loved my grandfather. Don't I need to keep the book? I know I have other things from him, but he wrote an inscription in the book!).

And yet, I keep moving forward. I get rid of a few things, or a few tasks, every day. I move from a busy, cluttered environment and mindset to something...a little more open.

It's not a fast process. I've been doing this for years, but I feel like I've made a lot more progress in the last three-ish months than I have in previous years. It may be the power of naming, but I look at things a lot harder than I have before. And, frankly, I want to be able to write down that I have done something, and not look like a slacker.

But decluttering is still hard sometimes.

Today I found a bunch of silk flowers we used in preschool to make fairy dolls. I've been keeping these flower bits for so many years, repeatedly telling myself that I might need them to make dolls for a niece, or cousin. Today I got rid of all the remaining silk flowers. It should have been an easy decision years ago, but it hasn't been. Finally, this time through, they seemed like something I could pass on to someone else. And it feels good.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Daily Declutter

I feel so motivated after resting up on Sunday -- unless I'm down with a horrible virus like I was last week! Lots of little things done, all over the place.

Moved an empty plastic tote out to the garage. I'm pretty excited because it means someone other than myself empties a plastic tote!

Organized some donations to the church bingo game (for prizes). The things that won't be prizes are set aside to be donated to Goodwill. The prizes will be dropped off at a friend's house tonight.

I cleared another shelf in the garage. Soon I should be able to post that shelving unit to Craigslist.

Hung napkins and tablecloths out in the sun, to bleach. I found that one of my tablecloths has a tear in it -- it's not repairable, so I'm recycling the fabric. I also realized I have a LOT more napkins than I could use even if every family member came to dinner, and everyone brought a date (as appropriate). I will be getting rid of about 12-15 napkins, and I'll still have more than I need at one meal.

I also found a seed sack (like a flour sack, but more sturdy) in the bin with the tableclothes. Why, I have no idea. I had no idea it was there. It's now listed on ebay. Also on bay are more Life magazines, and a pretty white cake plate that I really do not need, and which I never use. Hopefully these items will find a better life elsewhere.

If everyone went minimalist, there would be no need for many of the items I post to ebay. On the other hand, if people buy them from ebay, hopefully they are not also creating demand for new stuff to be manufactured. But I think about what would happen if everyone embraced minimalism; what would we do with all the stuff that is already manufactured but unwanted. For that matter, what will people do with all the stuff that is unnecessary but people keep buying new anyway?

"Be Prepared"?

I'm struggling between two poles: do I prepare for possibilities, or do I embrace the minimalist option? Do I make sure I have what I need (in an imagines scenario), or do I get rid of the things I don't regularly need?

I recently posted to ebay an antique ice cream churn. We had been keeping it in case the motorized machine gave out. I wasn't using the antique machine (frankly, we mostly only use the motorized one for birthday parties), but we were keeping a backup just in case.

I have some serving bowls just in case we need them for Easter dinner (which we host for the entire family).

I also bought a bunch of breakfast cereal because it was on sale. Now I have to store it, but my family will eventually use it up. But we have to store it.

And on and on. What is the balance between wanting a clean, minimalist, easy home, and keeping the things we will want, or might want, later?

I don't actually have answers on this right now. I am getting rid of the ice cream maker, keeping the cereal, and I will seehow my family feels about getting rid of some of the serving pieces (because I am doing this with a family, and trying not to make them crazy in the process). I seem need to make the decision on a case-by-case basis, but I do feel pulled in two directions. Hopefully I will clear a path in the future that will identify what level of storage I'm comfortable keeping.