Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Daily Declutter

Still working on clearing out the shed. I have a fondue pot that we had fun with, once, after going out for fondue. Making fondue at home is way more complicated than it seems at the restaurant! I would rather spend the money and let someone else deal with all the details, so the set and the fuel are both on Craigslist now. (I'd just donate them, but I don't think the thrift shop would sell the fuel, it would just get trashed, and I'd rather that not happen.)

I posted to ebay the large, metal, paint storage/organizer thingy that I have hated for years. When I bought it, I thought it would be an excellent way to organize craft paints. However, I don't have a spot large enough for storing the organizer, so it just sat on the floor of the shed, being in the way. I hated it actively every time I tried to work in there. Today, my paints are all inside a plastic storage bin, on the shelf, looking tidy and out of the way. Bonus, the paints are in a sealed container, which hopefully will keep them from drying out between uses.

Today is laundry day, so that takes up some of my time and reduces the amount of time I can spend on decluttering. However, it keeps me out of trouble, and clean sheets are one of the great little joys in life, so I will look forward to that tonight. I really enjoy focusing on the joys and results of what I do around the house. By remembering why I clean/was/declutter/organize I feel better about how I spend my time. Also, on the days that I don't work around the house and spend time with the people I love, I enjoy reminding myself that this is the point. Decluttering isn't the point in itself; relationships and the results of decluttering are the actual point.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Daily Declutter

Today I have been fabulously productive, and I feel good. Last night my husband pulled a bunch of winter clothes out of his closet, and I put them away and pulled out a few summer items he's had stored. Our closet and drawers will be less crowded as a result, making life easier for me (I put clean laundry away) and for him (when he's looking for something to wear).

I put a bunch of silver on ebay -- photographed, described and posted. I'm not asking much for each item, and I'm really hopeful that these pieces will get good homes somewhere else. Looking around the shed this morning, I can see a dramatic difference over what I had in December. I probably should have taken pictures, but I really don't want to look back at how bad it was.

I sold a piece on ebay, and I am including a little extra something in the package when I ship it. I had a drop spindle that never had been opened, and I also had some wool roving that never was actually used. Both items will be shipped together, hopefully to be used for a change. Now, I no longer feel the compulsion to come up with a project to use up the roving, and my buyer gets a bonus!

I only have half the things I started with, in my deadline craft box. Half the things I'd planned to use up before the end of the year have already been used up. (Sadly, some of them look like they'll never get used up. Does anyone have an idea for forty "soot sprites" from My Neighbor Totoro? I don't know anyone who needs a banner, and that's all I can think of.) I'm glad I am making progress with some of the things, and I'm also glad that I will not keep the others forever.

The house still looks tidy and peaceful today, with the silver back out in storage, the school books put away, and a lot of the general family debris still in its place after everyone pitched in yesterday. I even put away the dish drying rack, which makes a huge difference in the kitchen! On days like this, I feel like I'm making progress toward the house I really want to live in. (Also, I've been working on my vision board on Pinterest, like Juhli suggested. I find I'm really drawn to the images that look clean and not staged, hich is another way of saying tidy.)

Monday, May 29, 2017

Daily Declutter

Today is Memorial Day, so my family is all home. Our kids'school doesn't assign homework on holidays, so they had the day off as well. As a result, we really got to enjoy the day as a holiday together.

Everyone did a little bit of housework -- my daughter cleaned up her desk, my son finished a school assignment, my husband weedwacked the back yard a little (and finally found the dog's collar!), and I polished the silver to post to ebay. I growled quietly, and everyone pitched in to clean up the detritus people have been leaving lying around. (The kind of detritus I'm hoping to eliminate). But those tasks only took a little while, and the rest of the day we've been able to relax together. We played games, and talked, and ate, and read our books.

The rest of the week we can be productive, and post things to ebay, do laundry, and declutter the cabinets. But today is a day for being together and enjoying each other. That's the purpose of minimalism, so I'm pursuing that today.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Daily Declutter

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

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

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

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

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Daily Declutter

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Daily Declutter

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Minimalism and My Family

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

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

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

I don't yet have a lot of answers.

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, May 22, 2017

Daily Declutter

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

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

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

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

Friday, May 19, 2017

Daily Declutter

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

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

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

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Daily Declutter

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Depression Era Thinking

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, May 15, 2017

Daily Delutter

I was surprised how much clutter I moved this weekend.

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

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

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

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Types of Clutter

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, May 12, 2017

Daily Declutter

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

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

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

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

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Daily Declutter

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

I had no idea I brought so much home.

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

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

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

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

Daily Delutter

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Daily Declutter

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, May 8, 2017

Daily Declutter

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, May 5, 2017

Daily Declutter

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

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

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


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

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

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

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Daily Declutter

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

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

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

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

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

Daily Declutter

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Daily Declutter

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, May 1, 2017

Daily Declutter

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reusing Good Stuff

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

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

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

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

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

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