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


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.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Daily Declutter

Today is my day for making a menu, grocery shopping, running errands, and that sort of thing. Today I had to remind myself that there is a reason I do it all at once, so I don't have to worry about it the rest of the week, but there certainly were a lot of stops. I came home worn out, but I'm really glad to have everything dealt with, food-wise, for the week.

Yesterday we used our second of three visit to Disney. We had a wonderful time and we are looking forward to going back -- this is not the sort of thing we can do in one day! We rode the rides, watched the Main Street Electrical Parade, got stuck in Small World, and had a great time talking together in lines. My husband and I reminisced a lot about going to Disney even as children, and it really was a wonderful holiday.

We're all a little worn out today, so I'm glad I accomplished all that I did. Groceries, Costco, miscellaneous Target purchases for school -- all done and accomplished for another week. I mailed three items I sold on ebay, so that's something completely out of the house.

I'm working to clear a shelving unit in the garage, so we can park the truck in the garage. We looked up wooden electric ice cream makers on ebay, and it turns out that they are available. Someone had told us years ago that they were hard to find, so we had two ice cream makers sitting in the garage -- the electric one, which had a dying motor, and a hand-crank we bought as backup. So we will sell the hand-crank, let someone else enjoy it, and replace the electric one if we need it. One more thing off the shelf in the garage! It's even posted to ebay already.

That's about it for today. I'm glad I have some forward progress. I'd like to clear off the bar and shelf by the front door (where things land as they come in the door, or before they leave), but I may not make it that far today.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Daily Declutter

I seem to be over the worst of the terrible bug that took over Saturday. No specific symptoms, thank goodness, just the general feeling that I'd been run over by a truck. Lots of sitting and reading, drinking tea and napping. Actually, it would be a great weekend if I didn't feel so squashed flat.

I got several responses on our car, and we found someone to take it home this weekend. Even with the cold. I'm so happy to have finally made a decision on it, and I'm glad to have rehomed it. For a very long time we've been of two minds about having a third vehicle. Now we're down to two cars for two drivers, and I feel much better about that!

I'm optimistic that soon we'll be able to park the truck (moved into service, from storage in the driveway) in the garage. Right now the bicycles are parked in their spot, but if I get rid of a shelving unit it should work. The truck is so big, and the garage very normal sized, so it will be close. But, we did it once, and we can do it again!

I have another shelving unit almost completely empty. It has once small tote, full of out-of-season kids' clothes, that I technically could store elsewhere if I needed. I feel really good about having that much space! I downsized that tote today, after trying clothes on my daughter. Several things she wore last year no longer fit, and they are already at the charity shop. While we were there we also found a new pair of shoes for Easter, and two new dresses. I'm pretty sure we're set for summer clothes now.

Nothing come home from the thrift shop that I did not actually need. An Easter gift for my son, and a pair of swim flippers for a planned trip with my parents, and that's it. I didn't even seriously consider getting the classic Corning Ware casserole dish (white with the blue flowers), even though I was really thrilled to see it, especially after spotting one while watching Hidden Figures. If you haven't seen that yet, I highly recommend it! I'm pretty pleased that I didn't even consider buying the casserole, though, and just felt pleased to recognize it.

I'm also passing along a puzzle mat (so you can roll up your puzzle and eat dinner at the table, then put the puzzle back) and a puzzle to friends who love puzzles. I cannot remember that last time we actually worked on a puzzle. If it becomes a major hole in out lives, we can buy new (or used) puzzles and mat again, but enjoy the space in the mean time.

Little by little, changes are being made!

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Daily Declutter

I have finally sold every book in the box of books we've been storing for five years! I'm just tickled that all the books have been sold, to good homes, like puppies. A copy box worth of books is a good bit of space freed up, as well.

I've also re-homed a LEGO set that has been sitting idle. I was starting to feel that the LEGOs weren't going to find homes, but I am encouraged at this sale. I am looking forward to freeing up the space the LEGOs are taking up. It is rather considerable how much space is dedicated to toys we don't play with.

As we work through these things a couple of LEGO sets have been resurrected for play. I'd like the space, but I'm glad that they are being used. After all, the kids are only getting older and I can sell these sets later, when they are not wanted. On the other hand, we still have too many things, toys included. I don't want this project to focus so much on getting rid of things that the people are ignored in the process. So for the moment these forgotten LEGOs can be played with by my family, and the truly abandoned ones can find new homes.

I am grateful today for my work yesterday. I have caught the cold my husband has been fighting. So, instead of going grocery shopping during dance class, I got to sit under a tree and read my book and rest. I'm so glad my errands are done and I can nurse my cold with a thermos of hot tea today.

And that is all I was able to accomplish this weekend. I will sleep early, and hope that my cold heals quickly. I'm itching to get rid of several things in the shed, including a space heater and the second humidifier, as we have not used them since the kids were babies. If we haven't used them in all that time, I think it's time to offer them to someone else. I hope that will free up enough space to allow me to get rid of one shelving unit in the garage!

Friday, March 3, 2017

Simple Living Isn't Easy

I know that it is no great insight that living simply is not easy. I'm not the first person to discover that taking the road less traveled is bumpier than the road pounded smooth with many feet. But sometimes I'm still surprised by this.

For example, as a family, we don't watch tv. As a result, we have to do something in the evenings, after work. Some nights we watch a movie together, but since we try to limit the nights we do that, we have to make an effort the other nights to actually do something together. Some nights we play a board game, some nights we read individually, and some nights we read aloud a family book (right now we're reading Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book. If you are only familiar with the movies, I highly recommend the book.) Of course, lately, many nights we simply aren't home together so the choice isn't available.

I prefer the nights when we don't watch a movie, but some nights just are movie nights. We're too tired to put out the effort to do anything other than sit and watch. That's the way it is with a lot of simplifying.

Lately, I seem to be too tired or too busy to actively declutter anything. I have put in place some practices to make life simpler, but I seem to have stalled. I'm not moving forward. Progress is hard.

That's ok. What I have done so far is better than what I had before. I have more time to be home because I do all my shopping off a list, one day a week. Less clutter is piling up on flat spots. I have posted the extra car for sale, and I am looking forward to getting rid of a shelving unit because we have less stuff to store.

Some of the simplifying, decluttering, minimalist-ing is in the past, some is in the future. Not much is being done at the moment. But because of what I have done so far, we are discussing getting rid of things we never would have considered getting rid of before. That is an unbelievable change.

I know it's hard to simplify, hard to minimalize, but I have faith that it is worth it. Just as an evening playing games or reading together is more challenging than watching something on tv, I am confident that we will be better rewarded as a family for getting rid of the detritus that is making life harder than it needs to be.

I just need to remind myself of that.

Daily Declutter

Today didn't see much move out of the house. However, I did get my grocery shopping done between dropping my kids off to school and picking my son up after his one class. I wasn't even that late picking him up.

So, I

  • made my menu, 
  • made my shopping list, 
  • actually shopped. 
  • emptied the bag of stuff from the car that's for sale, and re-homed everything we're keeping. A bunch of stuff went in the trash or recycle bin.
  • washed and hung out a load of sheets. My last load of make-up laundry since the machine was "repaired."
  • made more chili-lime salt for gift giving, with lime zest I dehydrated. So it is no longer sitting out on the bar
  • I did not go shopping for a new hat for me. I wanted to stop and look, because the sun is warm today and I am feeling like summer. But I don't need a new hat, I have one that I like. I was already late to pick up my son or I might have stopped. I consider not stopping to buy something I don't really need and which would be an impulse purchase (and probably clutter later) to be a victory.
Not much accomplished toward decluttering, but the bag of stuff from the car didn't sit around becoming clutter. The bar was clean, except for the lime zest, this morning when I got up. We are set for food this week. That's not a bad way to go into a weekend, so I will enjoy that and not sweat the lack of progress.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Daily Declutter

The washer got "repaired" yesterday. Apparently, there was too much dirt in the load of laundry, and it filled up the crevices of the machine. I was supposed to run several self-wash cycles in order to get rid of the dirt and get clean clothes again. I was not ok with the answer, but I understand that's what the manufacturer says. I will not be buying any more products from this manufacturer, but in the mean time I had to vacuum out my washer so I could wash clothes again. I did so, and I'm spending a lot of today doing laundry. Fortunately, the sun is shining and it is a great day for hanging laundry on the line.

I got rid of my flour sifter. I cannot remember the last time I actually sifted anything. Did I sift the flour for my sister-in-law's angel food cake last year? I'm not sure, but I can stir the flour if I really need to, and free up some cabinet space.

I posted a bunch of LEGOs to ebay. Hopefully they will find new homes and move out of mine. When they do I will have about one shelf additional space in the shed. I can use that space to make access to things easier. Just live a little more spaciously.

I also washed, vacuum, photographed and posted my extra car to Craigslist. We will be back to two drivers and two cars. If we need a car for my son in the future we can either use the money we saved from selling this car or we can trust that some other opportunity will arise. In the mean time, we don't need the extra vehicle, the responsibility for maintaining three cars or the vehicle that doesn't fit in the garage.

I know I haven't accomplished much dramatic in the way of minimalisting, but I am making steps forward. (What is the correct form? Minimalist-ing? Minimalisting? Something else?)

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Identifying the Problem

I have been struggling in my efforts to minimalist (minimalize?) my home. I move things out, but I am having difficulty identifying things that we do not need, or use regularly. I sort of feel like I've gotten rid of everything I can get rid of. (I can identify things that belong to family members that we can get rid of. But everyone needs to move at their own pace, and I cannot go through and get rid of all the junk others in my family are hanging on to.)

Part of my problem is all the stuff that comes into the house. This stuff has to be moved back out again, responsibly, and that increases both the mental and physical clutter I am dealing with. I have magazines to take to the senior center. I have hand-me-down jeans to pass down to other people (because they don't fit anyone here). It's a couple of things here, one thing there, but it becomes a lot of clutter pretty quickly.

Add to that the things I need to do to get stuff out. I need to photograph and post LEGOs to ebay. I need to wash and vacuum the extra car, and photograph and post it to Craigslist. I need to do taxes. I need to get a smog certificate for the truck (that's physical and mental clutter, because it's sitting on the shelf by the front door. I tried to get the certificate earlier, but the machine was broken at the shop, and I'm waiting for that to be repaired.)

I can't keep the mental clutter out, or at least not very easily. I have to do taxes. I could just donate the car and ebay items, but I would rather have the money. It's not inconsiderable (enough to cover a car payment, or an extra car payment to pay down the balance).

I can reduce the amount of physical clutter that comes into the house. This will be hard for me, because I will have to decline things that people offer me. People offer me things because they think I will want it, or like it. My mother gives me magazines because she thinks I will want to read them, and that is lovely and generous of her. In actual fact, however, I don't read them and they cause me stress. Hand-me-downs that are much too big need to be donated elsewhere. At this point, my kids have enough opinion on their clothes that, unless they like the clothes and they fit when the clothes are offered, I shouldn't bring them home. The possible usefulness is not worth the clutter.

Declining things will be hard for me, but I hope it will get easier with practice. I am afraid people will be offended if I decline something. However, if I am going to reach my goals I will have to make changes, and I think this is one of them.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Daily Declutter

Clutter happened again. The bar (my prime flat spot) is covered with ...stuff again. Parsley in a vase, so it will keep fresh for dinner tomorrow night. A couple of nasty beers that will be made into quick bread (if I put them away, will I forget about them?). A bowl of limes. A couple of vases of flowers that are NOT being displayed to best advantage. A kit for making cough syrup out of herbs (my family have developed a cough, and now it the time to use the kit).

It's so ease for stuff to appear, and it takes work to remove it all. So these things will all be dealt with today. The flowers will be moved someplace smaller, where they will show better. I will write the beers into next weeks menu, then put them away (if my friend does not want them for making corned beef. Is corned beef the meat you cook in beer? I can't remember.). Cough syrup will be made, and hopefully I'll even get around to processing the limes.

All these things are temporary clutter -- they all (mostly) have a definite lifespan. The flowers can only live so long, then they have to go away. I need to get better at dealing with things as they show up, so they don't become clutter.

I do have one permanent thing I need to deal with: potted plants. I have several houseplants sitting around, and some are actively dying. I feel like I should keep houseplants, to purify the air, but I'm not very good at it. They get dusty, and want water more often than I think about it. Is it ok to get rid of houseplants? It's definitely minimalist to get rid of houseplants that I don't love, but are houseplants one of those things that I really should do, like going to the dentist and eating vegetables? I'm thinking of moving one plant out, see how I feel, then evaluate the other plants from there. I will maintain plants in the bedroom because we spend so much time in there, at least for now.

Some things have already been dealt with. I dropped a pair of jeans at the thrift shop, because they were not wanted at the consignment shop. Done. I removed to storage a bunch of jars I am saving for Christmas giving (fudge and epsom bath salts). I found another box of matches in the bathroom, and those are now put away. I'm pretty sure matches are breeding out of dust bunnies in the bathroom. I don't know how they keep showing up. I dropped two boxes at the post office, heading to ebay buyers. Today has not been a loss, but there's always more to do, even as I try to reduce the amount of stuff I have around to deal with.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Daily Declutter

We had a busy weekend, with both kids participating in different activities in opposite parts of the city. Thankfully, I have a good friend who helped out with transportation so my husband and I were both able to be at the event that allowed spectators. Sunday was both productive and restful. We served at a community lunch, then rested hard for the remainder of the day.

I spent much of my free time reading yesterday. I finished Hundred Dollar Christmas by Bill McKibben, and I started Enough: Finding More By Living With Less by Will Davis. Hundred Dollar Christmas would be a great introductory book, especially if you have friends or family members you would like to talk to about reducing the material component of your Christmas celebration.

Enough is a more complex book, looking at Christian theology and the reasons to only have enough, and disperse your wealth ("more than enough") to other people. I have no problem with the Christian theology, being Christian myself, but I know that other people have other paths and not everyone is interested in a book that uses Scripture as evidence. That said, I have very much enjoyed what I have read so far. I am looking at some things I have been storing just in case, and I have been thinking about making things available to other people. If I have more clothes than I need, can I bless someone else with those extra clothes?

That said, I have mostly stagnated today. I made one candle out of stubs, and I will be giving that candle as a gift at Christmas. I finished my father-in-laws hat for next Christmas (using up two half-balls of wool) during piano lessons.

I finally addressed a really messy corner. It turned out to hold a couple of desk supplies, a bunch of broken pencils and paper scraps. It only took a few minutes to clear that spot. I feel a lot of accomplishment, visually, for something that only took a few minutes.

I also cleared a bunch of jars that I have been collecting for gift giving next Christmas. They have been accumulating in the windowsill, but instead they can wait in the Christmas box in the shed. Cleaning up the messy spot and the jars gives a lot of visual impact for minimal effort

I need to process a bunch of limes I was given. They can wait in the freezer to be squeezed over black beans or Mexican food. The zest will become chili-lime salt, and that will be another gift to give this Christmas. I'm not sure it is considered minimalist-ing to make Christmas gifts in February, but it makes my Christmas a lot more peaceful, and I get to define the project however I want, so here I go with that!

I don't post on Sundays. My family takes this day as a rest day, and we're not allowed to work. The kids have to have their homework done before Sunday, or do it after. I don't clean, weed, or actively declutter.

I love taking a day of rest. I love having a day when we cannot be "responsible," but instead have to be idle. I don't have to nag my son to clean his room. We can play a game, read our books or take a nap. If someone is grounded from playing video games, Sunday that suspension is paused.

The most amazing thing happens when we do celebrate this day of rest: we're ready for the week. Growing up I always felt a sense of dread on Sundays. I wasn't ready to go back to school, and I didn't want to do the homework I had put off to the last minute. Now, by Sunday night, I feel ready to tackle things I've been putting off.

So what does this have to do with minimalism? By reducing to a minimum the number of commitments and chores I am willing to do on this day, I can enjoy what I have. I can enjoy my family by playing together, or simply by being together, reading and drinking tea. I can take a nap if I need to. Or if I want to.

I have a day when I have to step off the treadmill.

Realistically, my life cannot be blissful and peaceful every day. I need to go to doctors appointments, orthodontist appointments, club meetings, dance class, piano lessons. I like supporting my family in the various activities they are exploring, and I like supporting the projects I work for. But I also crave time together with my family, building connections and memories. My day of rest gives me balance.

So, today is Monday. I am back to work after my day of rest. I have piano lessons to drive to. I will be washing the extra car this week and placing it on Craigslist, so I need to locate the registration and be ready to sell it. I can create ebay drafts, ready to post when the new month starts (and I get 50 new free posts). I can get my tax materials together, so I can stop dreading that task (do it now!).  I have the energy and motivation to do what I need to do, because I had the opportunity to seek balance.

Friday, February 24, 2017

What Could I Use Instead

I have a number of "just in case" items that I have been hanging onto, even though they don't actually get used. For example, I have a collection of disposable bags that I have been keeping. They make the cupboard more difficult to use, but occasionally I want to bring a collection of things to people, and I need a way to collect them all together.

For example, I have been collecting a number of books to return to my mother. If I leave them on the bookshelf I know I will forget to bring them (ask me how I know!). So I have been collecting them in a paper bag, and I can leave the whole thing there or I can bring the bag back home. If I were to get rid of those disposable bags, what could I use instead? I probably have a cute basket I could use, and that would look nicer while I am waiting to drive up to my mom's house.

I need to look at a number of clutter-y items this way. I have things I use, but I don't like the way they are stored, or I just have too much and I would like to have more space. What could I do instead if I got rid of certain objects? Could we use the oven instead of the toaster oven (no, my family would riot and that would use a lot more energy to make toast).

I need to do this a lot more with areas that have a lot of things. We still have a relatively large collection of CDs, but we mostly listen to Pandora if we listen to anything (I like quiet). Can we get rid of the CDs in favor of Pandora? I don't know. I'll have to try this out on my family, and see how they take it.

We already do this quiet often with books. Unless a book is something we read regularly (at least once a year) I've been trying to let the library be our bookshelf. I should be able to find alternate sources or alternate uses for things, in order to increase the living space in our home.

Using creativity instead of stockpiling everything I might need, "just in case," is better. I just need to get back in the habit of creating solutions so I can clear more living space.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Daily Declutter

A little of this and a little of that today. The weather is so beautiful outside, I've been trying to get out as much as I can. As a responsible adult, this means weeding or cleaning up.

I've had a pile of costume jewelry on my bureau that I've been meaning to offer to my daughter. She didn't want anything, but my son found a pair of cuff links that he loves, so they found a good home. The rest of the jewelry will be dropped off at a local charity shop where I've found jewelry in the past.

I've had several pieces of outdoor...clutter... that I've been meaning to deal with. I had been using an old wheelbarrow as a planter, but it is even too rusted out for that. Rather than let it rust in place (attractive!) I dragged it over to my neighbor's dumpster, and it is no longer an eyesore.

Likewise, I've been meaning to get rid of our old, nasty barbecue. It will be offered to the metal recycling shop across from the smog check station that I need to visit today. I'd much rather the metal be recycled than landfilled, so that will be another eyesore off the property.

I photographed a few more things for ebay. I'll post them again at the beginning of the month, when posting is free.

Today is my day to make the menu for next week, and my shopping list. I am feeling singularly uninspired, but I will come up with something. It's better to sit with a cup of tea, browsing cookbooks, on a Thursday morning, rather than trying to contrive something Wednesday night at five!

I kept moving today, getting a little done here, a little done there. It doesn't feel like a lot, but it's adding up!

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Do it now!

(This is my 100th post! I can't believe I've written 100 things already! I have a lot of words, as one of my favorite authors, Jan Hatmaker, says.)

I have a couple of personality quirks that make my minimalism look different than the pictures on Pinterest. I like color. Especially green and red. I also like making things, and I like upcycling things into new things. I don't like throwing things away into the landfill. It just seems so...wasteful... to throw things away after all the energy that went into making something.

So I tend to collect bits and bobs of little things to make into new things. I usually have a can or jar of used candle bits that I intend to make into something else. I've dipped pine cones to make firestarters for gifts, and I've poured wax into old egg cartons to make firestarters for us. I have a bunch of candle bits now that I intend to use to make new candles to give as gifts.

In the past, I would often collect the candle bits, and scent oil, and containers, and I would let them sit around until sometime in December. Then, when I need a gift for teachers, or my sister-in-law's parents, or someone like that, I'd mumble under my breath while I tried to scramble together a gift before tonight. And the materials I'd collected would sit, collecting dust, until I got fed up and threw them in the recycling.

Instead of making a mess that I have to declutter later, this year I am trying something different: do it now. I'm picking up candle wicking this week during my shopping trip, and I will finish these gifts now. I will not have seven different containers that might look cute as candles. I will use what I have today, and I will be done. Then I will stick them in the box of completed Christmas gifts, and I will be thrilled this December.

I mended my daughter's overalls this morning. The straps were too long, so I added a couple extra button holes. Today, the day after she gave them to me. Done. I got the sewing machine out, sewed four button holes, and returned the machine. In less than a half and hour. Rather than leaving the clothes to glare at me, next to my seat in the living room (where mending occurs) for three weeks, I have cleared away a piece of potential clutter, and I feel pretty good about myself!

I know this advice sounds like the sort of advice your mom gave you when you were a teenager, but there's probably a reason for that. If I get my task done now, I don't have the physical or mental clutter sitting around, clogging up my energy and environment. I feel like I keep discovering the same concept over and over, but I also feel I am improving.

Routines, schedules and minimalism

I don't know how minimalism relates to simplicity, or how simplicity relates to minimalism. I know they are related but I don't know if you can have one without the other. In my life they are interrelated, and as I pursue minimalism I am also pursuing simplicity.

One of the strategies I have employed since the beginning of this project is my grocery list and menu plan. Is our weekly menu more simple because of the planning that occurs at the beginning of the week? I do know my time is simpler, since I don't need to invent dinner plans at five o'clock, and I don't need to run to the store several times a week. Is this an aspect of minimalism, or simply mindfulness? I do know I am more mindful of my time since I have been eliminating excess.

I am also much better at the tiny tasks that contribute to piles of clutter around the house. I have written a couple of times about putting my sweater and jeans away, even if I expect to wear them again the next day. I no longer have a pile of clothes glaring at me each morning. Is this minimalism, simplicity, or just finally having an adult household routine? I'm not sure, but as I work to clear a surface I find my habits are changing to create an improved environment.

Knowing that shopping day is coming, I check the cupboard and refrigerator, and eliminate food waste by planning to use everything that is in there. (If my family is reading this, that does mean that raisins will be scare until the mango bits are finished.) Storage containers are emptied out, so I always have containers for leftovers (some of the virtue of that may be attributed to a growing teenage boy, as well.) I declutter as I go for a simple, streamlined refrigerator.

I'm actually rather surprised at the synchronicity the forces that are changing my environment. As I work to streamline my physical environment I am freeing up time (which I expected) and people are seeking me out for relationship building (which I did not especially expect, but I am enjoying the time to build friendships). I am able to exchange time I spent on home care and replace it with people-care.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Daily Declutter

I haven't been actively decluttering stuff lately, but I have been working on my to-do list, and I have been spending time with people. Yesterday was a holiday, so the kids didn't have schoolwork. My daughter and I cleared out her wardrobe. She got rid of several items that she no longer liked or which no longer fit. Afterwards we went to the store and got a couple of tank tops, which she needed to wear some of the tops she likes. We also found two pairs of jeans, because she keeps growing! I did not get anything for myself because I don't need anything and I did not find anything that appeals to me. I'm pretty thrilled with myself for not feeling tempted to add anything to my possessions.

I had time to play a game with my son. I love having time to play with him, when I don't feel pressured to go do something else. We sat and played and were silly together. We made cookies for school, and told each other riddles out of a couple different puzzle books. In all, an evening well spent.

I also got new tires for the car, and took it for an oil change today. Not exciting, but they were tasks that were costing my mental energy. Now my mental energy can be better spent on being present.

Today is laundry day. The sun is shining, and the laundry is drying quickly, even the jeans. I met up with a friend for tea and talking, which was beneficial to both of us.

I wrote earlier that I need to figure out what I will do with my time when I no longer need to deal with my possessions as often. As I declutter, I think I am building closer and better relationships with people around me, and I think that is the answer to my question. As I reduce the physical possessions in my life I am building relationships. I'm not sure how if works, but it's definitely worth it.

Would a minimalist keep this?

I have a lot of things around my house still. I have been decluttering for over twenty years, since shortly after I received a lot of wedding gifts that I probably didn't really need. Yet I still have a lot!

I want to get rid of more, but when I glance around my house I feel like we use everything I see. Microwave? Yes, every day, to reheat my tea. Toaster oven? Several times a day, to make toast or sandwiches. Decorative "flour, sugar, tea" canisters? Actually, I use the sugar and salt for sugar and salt, and the flour one holds my charging cords.

On and on it goes. I'd like to get rid of my "good" china, but we use it every year when we host Easter dinner. I guess I could get rid of it, but then I'd need to buy more plates so there would be enough for everyone. And where would I store the extra plates the rest of the year, because I don't want them cluttering up my everyday cupboard.

In the last two months, since I've been focusing on it and thinking about it, I've reduced the clutter around the house. I've eliminated a number of piles that seemed permanent, and I've also just gotten rid of a lot of items that I didn't think about but stored out of habit. These are good things. I've also gotten out of the habit of buying things I don't need. (I took my daughter shopping for jeans that fit and a couple new tank tops to wear under shirts she owns. I came home with jeans, tank tops and a pair of boots. As a result, she got rid of two pairs of boots she doesn't like as well as the new ones.)

What does my life looks like, as a minimalist? I don't want to get rid of things we use and enjoy. That seems counter to the spirit of eliminating the excess. But I don't want everything to remain the same. That seems counter to the "-ing" in the title of the blog. If I'm not becoming something different, or doing something different, what am I doing? Recording a list of daily chores? Surely the internet does not need that!

So far, I think the answer lies in time. If I continue moving forward with baby steps (I'm beginning to hate that phrase, but it is what best describes my efforts) I hope to continue making incremental changes that will add up to the change I want to see.

Monday, February 20, 2017

It Cost Good Money

I bought three bottles of peppermint essential oil several years ago, in the hope that the oil would eliminate a rodent problem we were having. I have heard that rodents cannot stand the smell of peppermint oil, and they would flee anyplace that smelled of peppermint. We got rid of the rodents, and I do not know if the peppermint oil helped, or if the snap traps did all the work. However, the rodents were gone. The essential oil remains.

I do not want to use this oil for anything else. I don't especially want to smell like peppermint. Among other reasons, I don't want to think about rodents all day. I have hung on to this oil for years, in case we have another rodent summer, and just because it seems wrong to throw essential oil away. After all, if I needed more, it's not cheap. I spent good money on these bottles, and I shouldn't throw them away!

Another way to look at this is: I bought these bottles, which served their purpose years ago. I hope not to need them again. I'll clear up this tiny section of counter and stop worrying about future rodents. After all, we're talking about something in the neighborhood of $5-10, not hundreds. Letting go of all that space, all over the house, is worth the minor financial investment if I need to buy the oil again.

Hanging on to the essential oil will not bring the money back to me. So I need to come to grips with the money spent in the past (an expense I was willing to spend at the time) and stop cluttering up the present.

With this in mind, I will pass my essential oils along to a friend whose garage has become inhabited. I will release the money I spent in the past in order to have a more enjoyable present and future. This will stop being one of my excuses.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Daily Declutter

More little things today. I'm trying to squeeze decluttering into my regular life, rather than dedicate a large block of time to decluttering. The process is drawn out, but I think it's less stressful than a more concentrated approach because I have so many outside obligations, especially to things that aren't mine. I don't want to tell the kids that they can't go to lessons or meetings because I want to get rid of all our junk.

This morning the rain had ended, so I took pictures of more LEGOs we're rehoming, and some measuring cups I hadn't wanted to get rid of. Or, that I didn't want to use because I don't like them, but they're vintage and I want to make sure they don't get thrown away at the thrift shop. That does happen when the shop has too much merchandise (because people buy too much new stuff. Period.). Still, I don't run a museum, so I shouldn't be the home to all the excess stuff just because it's old.

Fortunately, I remembered to look them up on ebay. People do collect these, so hopefully I can find a good home that way. Either way they are out of my cupboard for now, and hopefully for the long term.

A lot of the clutter I have eliminated so far has been behavioral. I no longer have clothes cluttering the bathroom counter because I have changed my awareness and my habits. I am grateful for the awareness, brought about by writing it out, of how my behavior eliminates clutter even more than getting rid of the physical items that surround me.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Daily Declutter

Lots of running around in circles today. I went to the tire store, but the tires they had ordered for me were the wrong size for my car. I will have to go back next week. I had to go out a second time to do my grocery shopping, because my son had to be picked up from school. However, I got almost all my grocery shopping finished (I need one thing at another store, but I think it can wait until next week) other than that one thing my grocery errands are done.

My groceries are all put away, and I am set for the next week's menus. It feels good to have that done.

I did get rid of an old, damaged mirror that had been sitting around for over a year. Neither Goodwill not Salvation Army would take it without a frame (apparently, someone might "get their head chopped off" if the store had a mirror without a frame), so I had to throw it away. It was damaged, so I don't feel too bad, and I am very happy to be rid of this large piece of clutter.

We are expecting a large storm through town overnight, so I tidied up outside. Mostly moving hanging baskets down to the ground so they won't fly off and damage something, but the mirror was part of the tiding effort, so that was worthwhile to me.

I threw some seeds in the ground, as an effort toward gardening. I'm a terrible gardener. I don't like following the rules (plant this after the frost; plant this before the frost; start this indoors) so plants don't succeed very often. I've even killed zucchini. However, I know water is important for plants, and we're certainly getting rain this week, so I'm putting seeds out and hoping for the best.

So, not much forward progress, but I am maintaining my schedule, and that is simplifying my life. We spent the evening together as a family, unstressed, watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer on Netflix, and playing Yahtzee. That I definitely consider a win, because that is how I want to spend time with my family. And that, not the stuff, is what minimalist-ing is about.

But I have the space!

I'm going to throw my husband under the bus here. When I get the decluttering bug, one of his frequent excuses (other than "but I use that") is "but we have the space."

Not surprisingly, I do not find this a justifiable excuse. I feel so much better in uncluttered spaces (to be honest, so does he). So having space to keep clutter does not justify having clutter.

I find that when I declutter spaces where I "have space," I free up room throughout the room or even my whole house. For example, when I discarded expired ointment and a medicine dropper from the medicine cabinet I was able to declutter the bathroom counter. I now have space for my deodorant in the medicine cabinet. My daily environment is less cluttered because I cleared out a space that was hidden. Although I "had space" for those unnecessary items, decluttering allowed me to prioritize valuable things above undesirable things.

This is true for anything. Deluttering the garage, the linen closet, the cabinet under the sink allows me to get rid of the things that aren't really valuable. This may allow me to store something I find valuable (I like to store the swim things together during the summer, in the linen closet, so no one loses a swimsuit and we can walk out the door to the pool without hassle) or it may allow me to simply enjoy a clean counter, dryer or other flat surface.

Sometimes I don't see the point to decluttering invisible spaces. If we've "always" stored table linens there, why should I declutter them? We're not going to stop using tablecloths and napkins, after all. But the last time I decluttered that space I found two tablecloths that I didn't even realize we had, and now it's easier to find what we actually need.

I know some people like to declutter their home in one fell swoop. I'm the other kind of person; I keep whittling down my unnecessary possessions until I (hopefully) have a minimalist home with nothing in it except the things I find really important to the way we live. Hopefully a day will come when I do not have to worry about cluttered surfaces, cabinets or drawers. Even better, I hope not to have a cluttered mind. In the meantime I will continue to declutter both the hidden and visible clutter, whether we have room for it or not.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Daily Declutter

I am so often shocked at the old clutter! I checked the medicine cabinet for clutter this morning; I found a medicine dropper (for little kids), matchbooks, and a tube of ointment from I-don't-know when. I now have room in there for my deodorant, clearing up the counter a little more.

I dropped off a couple of boxes of packing popcorn. The shipping place in town reuses it, and the things I have for ebay right now don't need it. I'd rather someone else use it, since I'd just be storing it. As clutter. I dropped off several boxes at the post office at the same time.

We should have rain tomorrow and the next day, so I took some pictures to post to ebay. I'd like to get them up tonight, but I also would like to spend time with my family, so we'll see how that goes.

A roadrunner stopped in the front yard today, and my daughter and I got to watch it for a while. They really remind me of dinosaurs! The way they move their heads, and the way they display their tails, is unlike any other bird I have seen. Plus, they eat snail and mice (and lizards, which I'm not ok with!) so they are welcome to visit our yard any time. If you've only every see the Warner Brothers Coyote and Roadrunner, you should check them out on youtube. They're really fascinating.

I made my menu for the week. This is a great activity for when I don't want to do anything, but I still get something done. I'm almost done with my shopping list as well, and I will be going shopping tomorrow since Saturday has filled up on it's own. I love having the extra time this one change has facilitated. And, despite almost running out of milk, my family continues to survive. (This week my kids ran through a half gallon of milk in two meals. So they have had to limit milk the rest of the week, and get by on other foods instead.)

Focus and Mindfulness

This is not my quote. But it is something I need to remember, and I find it all too easy to forget.

Minimalism is a lot about mindfulness. Minimalism is about being aware of all the world around me, my place in the world, and my contributions to the world,

If I focus on how slowly I am making improvements I will not notice how many improvements I have made. Keeping a journal, or blog, allows me to see what I have accomplished. It helps me focus on the joys of accomplishment.

I remember a story about a king who commissioned two of his knights to survey his kingdom. One knight was to report every good thing he saw; the other was to report every bad thing. When the knights returned, the knight who was to report bad things described a kingdom that was desperate, falling apart, without hope. The other knight reported joy, health, caring and blessings among the people.

I hope you see the blessings in your life, despite the difficulties. I hope, as you eliminate the extraneous aspects of your life and develop a simpler lifestyle, that the joys become more obvious and overshadow the difficulties.

Daily Declutter

Yesterday was largely housekeeping, which is important to that clean, decluttered fantasy home I imagine, but it's not exciting. I did clear a basket, some tools and the glass jar of failed laundry detergent off the dryer. Now the dryer only hold laundry baskets, which pleases me more than it probably should.

Laundry was washed, folded and put away. At least, I think it was put away. I have to check on the kids, because sometimes they just pile up the clean laundry on furniture. Then it falls on the floor, gets slept on by the dog, and ends back up in the wash.

I sold a bunch of items on ebay yesterday, and I will be packing and shipping them this morning -- hopefully before I drop the kids off at school. I'm so excited to see these things move. I think I will be able to eliminate an entire box from the shed when all these items are shipped, which is a noticeable amount of change.

No major changed today, but I wanted to post baby steps.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Daily Declutter

Today I did a lot of things I've been needing to accomplish. For one, I went to the dentist. Not a decluttering activity, but a necessary one.

I also photographed a bunch of items for ebay, posted three, and shipped two items. Hooray for shipping! I am about out of boxes now, and I will need to prowl around looking for boxes before I can ship much more. I am willing to do that! I think the kids' school is a source I can tap for that.

I got rid of some vintage fruit box art. In the 1920's to 1960's of so, fruit packers pasted these labels on wooden boxes as advertising and identification. They are really pretty, and interesting art for the kitchen. But in 15 years I had never framed and hung these pieces, and it is someone else's turn. They don't take up much space -- in fact I had forgotten them -- but they still need to move out. At some point I or someone else will have to deal with all my stuff, and there is no reason to keep these. As Marie Kondo would say, they aren't "sparking joy."

We got home late, late last night. However, I put my sweater away where it went (it took an effort) but the bedroom and bathroom were tidy when I woke up, which was a nice way to start the day. I write that because it continues to be an effort some days, and I want to give myself credit for doing hard things, even if they are obvious. Even if they are the sorts of things I should have been doing all along.

I printed out more shopping lists to hang on the refrigerator so my family can keep the list updated. This supports my goal of making fewer shopping trips.

I'm pleased, overall, with what I did get done today. Not much actually left the house, but a lot of little things are off my mind. And two ebay boxes of goods did leave, which always makes me happy!

"Ought to"

I realized yesterday that a lot of the clutter I have difficulty with is of the "ought to" variety. My imaginary minimalist house (the home I am working for) is a restful place, without stuff ordering me around. I realize now that I need to get rid of the "ought to" things that are cluttering up both my mind and my home.

A realization came to me when I saw the business card case full of cards for a volunteer position I hold. I "ought to" use those, I thought. Then it occurred to me that I have not had a desire for the cards, they were a gift to all the volunteer leaders, and I had not had a need for the cards or the holder in the year or more since I received the cards. With that, I dumped the cards and the guilt. I no longer will think about the things I should do when I see it, every morning in the basket where I keep my hair accessories. (Another question might be why the case was there, but it is to no purpose now.) I could both declutter the physical object and the responsibility associated with it.

That is my problem with a lot of clutter I have around the house. The laundry detergent I can not use with my new washer -- I "ought to" do something with that. But I have another stain remedy, and it works better than the soap does. I just need to let it go! I "ought to" frame the fruit crate labels I bought for the kitchen 15 years ago -- but I have other decor, and I don't need another errand. So I will put them on ebay today, and someone else can enjoy them.

If I get rid of the clutter than causes my guilt, anxiety or stress, I am both minimalizing my environment and my internal life. Which is the point, isn't it? Minimalism is supposed to be about eliminating the excess in my life so I can enjoy the desirable elements.

I don't always realize the difference between clutter and the things I need. I am getting better at understanding the reasons for keeping some of the things I have kept, things that do not add to the enjoyment of my life. I'm really happy every time I recognize a stumbling block for what it is, and I am able to avoid it in the future.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Change Can Be Hard

Ferret in my front yard!
Change can be hard. Who knew? Stop the presses!

But seriously. I was reading A Simple Year, and she commented about how hard it was when she started to become a minimalist. I was surprised to read that someone else struggled to get rid of things! Maybe I shouldn't be surprised, with all the decluttering information out there. Somehow, I felt that when I realized I like the minimalism all the material clutter would fall away. But it's not working that way.

I have so much stuff, and sometimes it's difficult to tell the difference between stuff I need and stuff I don't. Sometimes it's hard on my family, finding another pile of things I want to get rid of.

Sometimes it's discouraging that I still have so much stuff to work through.

I keep reminding myself that there is less than there used to be. The house is tidier than it used to be, just as a baseline. When it gets messy, there is less than there used to be. This helps with both pick up and finding a spot to put things away.

Selling things is a slow process, but I am selling things. The money goes to pay off the loan on the car, so each item sold is a double bonus.

When I read accounts of people who sold all their junk and paid off thousands of dollars in debt in a year, I feel I'm not making progress as I should. But I am enough. Their life is not my life, their goals are not my goals. My family does not want to move at that rate, nor do they want to move out of or house to travel the world.

If you are reading this and struggling, hang in there! We can do this. Taking baby steps toward our goal is still forward progress, and we do not have a timetable we have to follow!

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Daily Declutter

I shipped a couple of books I sold through ebay. Hooray, things out! While I was at the post office I returned a couple of shipping boxes that I ended up not needing. I didn't want to throw them away (they were still brand new!), and now they are back where they belong and out of my house! It's amazing to me how tiny things like that feel like an improvement, but the boxes had been living in the bottom of my closet, and now I see bare floor down there. I'm also donating a box of breakfast cereal that is unopened. No one loves it, although I will request my family finish the open box we have.

I did my weekly shopping. This necessitated creating my menu. For some reason I was weak on ideas this week, but I did it. We have enough food to see us through until next week. I got more prepared food than usual, but my daughter is suffering quietly from braces, and I am trying to support her. Applesauce, ice cream, her favorite soup from Costco (even though the package is plastic and not zero-waste) are all on the menu the next couple of days. I went to five stores to get all the items I wanted, plus a trip to Target to return swimsuits. It took three hours, which seemed like my entire lifetime, but it's really worth the concentrated time to be all done.

Because I have super-awesome, amazing, tremendous friends, I was even able to take a nap this afternoon. I am feeling so run down. I don't know if I'm coming down sick (I don' have time!) or just tired from staying up late at the drive-in. My friend offered to bring my daughter home after dance class so I could come home and sleep. I am so grateful! I hope the extra sleep will fend off anything that is trying to bring me down. And tea. Lots of tea will keep me whole.

Updated to add: I had some time before bedtime, and my daughter was still working on homework, so I felt I needed to work too, in solidarity. So I ironed a couple of weeks worth of shirts. My son had two white button down shirts to be ironed, in different sizes. I had him try them on: one was too small and one had a spot on it. The too small one is in the box to be donated, the spotty one is pretreated and in the wash. So I had two fewer shirts to iron, and every piece of clean laundry is put away!

Friday, February 10, 2017

Daily Declutter

I've been longing for a clean, tidy home, so I spent much of today cleaning, not decluttering. Blame it on hygge. I scrubbed the only four drawers in my kitchen. I scrubbed the cabinet next to the drawers. I scrubbed the inside of my dishwasher (I still think the soap that cleans my dishes should clean my dishwasher as well, but it doesn't work that way.) I scrubbed the base of my blender (how does that get so dirty?) Those cabinets look so much better, but the rest need scrubbing more than ever.

I did dust and declutter the top of my bureau. I put away a few mementos the kids have made for me, some gift wrap, and a pair of scissors I obviously don't need went into the donation box. I also found a lot of dust, and that was decluttered appropriately as well. 😉

The most minimalist-ing thing I did today, though, was empty the donation box and drop off the contents at Goodwill. I have a donation station that is not too far from my kids' school, so we stopped by after pickup.

Although I didn't get rid of much today, I feel good about the deep cleaning. A really clean home it part of the Pinterest look I like so much. I probably won't get it that clean while I have kids at home, but the kids are worth it.