Friday, June 30, 2017

Minimalist Camping -- Or Not

The last couple days I've been away, camping at a local campsite. We had a great time playing games, walking around the lake, and reading books. I kept thinking of minimalism (duh!) and how our camping habits converge and diverge from my minimalist ideal.

First, I love the simple lifestyle we follow when camping. My husband and I spent at least a half an hour talking and watching the ducks and turtles in the lake. (Two of the ducks had ducklings, and they were adorable.) There was no rush, there was no clock, we just sat and talked. Then we went back to camp, started a campfire, made cream puffs out of crescent rolls. The next day was more hiking, card games, reading in the hammock. The kids rode bikes and trained the dogs to run alongside the bikes. (The dogs had a blast, running ahead of the bikes but they are sleeping now. They are sleeping hard.)

On the other hand, we brought a lot of stuff. We brought kites and croquet and card games and trackball. We brought two tents, four sleeping bags plus extra blankets in case we got cold. We brought air-mattresses for us, and for the kids. We brought non-inflatable sleeping pads for the kids. We brought so much stuff!

As we packed up we determined that some of the stuff we brought was unnecessary, and we have either already gotten rid of it, or we will do so soon. However, a lot of the stuff we brought was stuff someone thought we might need. People in my family would rather pack more stuff, and shift it around the campsite, rather than think of something we would want (want, not need) and have to do without it.

And so it goes. We will continue to work forward, trying to eliminate the pieces that are weighing us down. We will try to leave behind the stuff that isn't actually useful and I hope we will learn to give up some of the things we are bringing "just in case."

The most memorable moments of out trip required very little material supplies at all.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Daily Declutter

Today is the day we celebrate finishing my daughter's room. We've started putting back furniture, and getting garage space back. Her bureau is back, her desk is finally in her room (finally! I get my kitchen space back!) and it is time to bring back all the little things that she uses.

Her room is so beautiful right now! It isn't cluttered with all the little things that she's collected over the years, and I am taking advantage of the room's empty beauty. As she puts things back (we had to empty her bureau to paint it) we are evaluating the things she has. As we evaluate her things she has been finding a number of things that don't look pretty in her room anymore, or things that take up space and make other belongings become cluttery. Case in point: my daughter has two small jewelry boxes on top of her bureau. One is very small and the other is very young, so my daughter cleared out all the jewelry she doesn't like or won't wear. A necklace with the original tags didn't make the cut (I think it must have been a gift). Another necklace that no longer fits also didn't make the cut. With the reduction in the number of items, we should be able to reduce the number of jewelry boxes to one. If necessary we can buy one box to replace two, but her room will look less cluttered.

What's really different about this project is our ability to add things until we are done, instead of subtracting things until we're done. If we were subtracting items I think we'd stop sooner because an improvement would look like enough improvement. By adding to a clean, empty room we should be able to tell when we've added too much -- I'm hoping we'll have much less overall by decluttering this way. We're not done yet, but I'm very optimistic about our outcome.

On a different note, this project allowed my husband to discover a tool that was not valuable to him. While cutting corners for the crown molding his miter box was just too flimsy to be useful, and his table saw worked well enough. So the miter box is going to the donation center, and we'll have that much more room in the garage.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Little Changes Make a Big Impact

I've spent most of the day washing laundry or helping my husband with my daughter's room. Today was crown molding and baseboards, which involves a lot of "here, hold this" and not much else from me.

We spent some of the time talking, which is nice, but I also spent more time thinking. Honestly, part of the time I've spent fantasizing about the space we're gaining my giving up soda. I know, I could possibly be geekier, but not by much!

However, we have to store the boxes of soda in the house, store the extras in the garage. We have a recycling bin just for redeemable cans and bottles (in addition to curbside recycling). We have a recycling bin outside for emptying the little bin before we want to go down to the recycling center, and we have another bin in the garage for cans that are in the car, so we don't have to carry them in the house to recycle them. Seriously, this is too much stuff and work dedicated to an unwholesome beverage!

I haven't gotten rid of anything yet. I don't want to spook my husband, who embraces change only slowly. I hadn't even realized we had so much space dedicate to soda. But now, I realize we will be getting a lot of this space back and it invigorates me!

I've said this numerous times in the past, and I'm sure I will say it again, but I am often surprised when I discover something we can eliminate without a loss. I've found clutter that is essentially trash and clutter we've grown out of year ago. We've gotten back usable space by decluttering things that we've overlooked for years.

I'm looking forward to streamlining the recycling process, and I'm looking forward to freeing up the storage space we've been dedicating to something that has suddenly just become "something we used to use."

Monday, June 26, 2017

Daily Declutter

We spent a large portion of today painting my daughter's room. We primed two walls and painted all four walls (two white, two aqua). We also had a chance to have lunch with my mother, then my son had a dentist appointment. All in all it was a busy day, but not much decluttering occurred.

However, early this morning we (almost forgot to) took the dog to the groomer. In the basket where dog leashes belong we found four leashes (we only have two dogs), a chicken harness (yes, for walking our chicken), bandannas, an eyeglass repair kit and lip balm. Most of those things are necessary, and in fact they slowed the emergency "get-the-dog-to-the-groomer-before-we-lose-our-appointment" run out the door. So that did get decluttered, and next time we will only have two leashes trying to permanently entangle themselves. A small step, but this is the sort of thing I want to resolve, in order to make a minimalist, decluttered, peaceful home.

I'm glad I got something accomplished toward the overall goal.

Another change around here, although not really "minimalist" is the joint decision to give up soda. I have been resisting soda with greater or lesser success (this weekend was lesser). I've known it's not good for me, but my husband and I decided today to stop soda entirely. The amount of sugar in conventional soda is too high, and the artificial sweeteners mess with your microbiota, causing insulin levels to be elevated (and fat accumulation). I'm writing it up here because giving up soda is healthier, and health, mindfulness and minimalism are all related to me. And because if I write it on the internet it must be true and I will feel more accountable. If I feel accountable, hopefully I will be more successful this time (and having my husband on board will help!).

Saturday, June 24, 2017

You have to ask

I don't usually check in on weekends, but I had one of those moments and I thought I'd post it before I forgot.

I was squeezing lemons yesterday, and rather than grab the juicer I prefer I grabbed the one in front. Why do I have two citrus juicers when I'm writing a minimalism blog? I have two because my mother gave one to my daughter. (My daughter likes my mother's juicer, and she often juices citrus fruit for my mother when we visit.) I assumed that my daughter's juicer was something she valued; that's why I kept it. I was even ready to get rid of my juicer (since I usually use hers rather than crawl around to reach mine in the back) but I thought I'd ask. As it turns out, my daughter was surprised I asked, surprised I thought it was hers, and not at all interested in keeping a vintage citrus juicer until she sets up housekeeping at some point in the future.

So I will be posting the vintage juicer to ebay and I will return to using the juicer I have. With a little more space in the cupboard, and one step closer to minimalism.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Daily Declutter

The plumber was fast and effective. He spotted the problem quickly, and it was not that bad a fix. We're cleaning up because we'd rather patch the hole ourselves while we're prepping the room than pay the plumber to do it.

While my husband was home performing homeowner duties I ran my weekly errands. The menu is prepared for the week, and shopping was pretty easy, except they ran out of the milk I like (I'll have to go back tomorrow for that) and I forgot something I needed to return. I think I'm more peeved about shopping multiple times this week than I would have been when I went down to only one trip a week. I really like not running to the store all the time!

I took my daughter with me because she needs to choose some things for her room. We didn't find everything we wanted, but I also didn't find anything I didn't really need. Not only did I not buy anything I didn't need, I didn't see anything unnecessary that I was tempted to bring home. I tell myself that this means I am becoming more self-aware and embracing a minimalist mindset. Or maybe they just didn't have anything I wanted. :) I did buy a set of poker chips for my husband, but he specifically needs them for a game, and they aren't for me, so maybe that shouldn't count?

I have found a lot of what I consider "hidden clutter." Hidden clutter is clutter that I find after I have already decluttered an area; it's stuff that I would have considered clutter the first time if I had seen it, but somehow I overlooked the clutter. Last night I found two expired antibacterial sprays and this afternoon I found craft supplies that I would have discarded if I had seen them before. I'm glad to have these items gone, but they always make me concerned that the reason I have so much clutter is because I'm not seeing clutter I have lying around. At any rate, the sprays are gone and a whole box of craft supplies are on Craigslist, hoping a crafty person will be grateful to have them. And I will continue to declutter bit by bit.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Daily Declutter

A lot of stored clutter got moved today. I went through the craft supplies again, and got rid of a bunch more. I put a bunch of rubber stamps in the donation box, as well as some punches and other stuff I cannot even remember at this point. I also pulled out a bunch of ...kid craft supplies. I don't know how else to describe them. I put cotton balls, q-tips, googly eyes, popsicle sticks, stamp pads and other things in a box to go to church for kids activities. I also gave up on a baby sweater I was supposed to be knitting for the church. Any baby who wore that sweater would cry from the hate I have knit into that sweater -- I do not like knitting with acrylic, but that's easy for a new mama to wash! So I will frog the little bit that I have knit and pass the project off to someone who will knit it with love.

I pulled a couple cute bottles out of storage. I will make chai infused honey in them, and give the honey as a gift at Christmas. We always have a lot of people to give to, and I'd like to make use of these jars, rather than keep them around for "just in case." Plus, chai infused honey will be quickly assembled (avoiding the problem of "projects") and it will not become clutter for other people (unless they too save the cute jars for "just in case" and I cannot take responsibility for that. Clutter out and gifts prepared in advance? I call that a win.

I have held on to old calendars for many years. Will they someday be valuable historical documents, describing the life of an ordinary woman in 1990? I doubt it, but I have kept them for much too long. I finally moved them out, combined the not cards that were in the same container with craft glue and glitter (all the things I bring in the house regularly) and now I have another suitcase to hold out-of-season clothes for my husband. This freed up a tote, making it easier to empty things out of my daughter's room prior to painting.

My wonderful husband gave up a set of books he has kept since childhood. Or possibly it is a set just like a set he had since childhood -- he can't remember if they were actually his or not, and is ready to let them go. I already got them posted to ebay!

Lots of books, shelves, and other things have moved out of my daughter's room. We'd be all ready to paint her room, but we found mold behind her baseboards next to where the shower is (on the other side of the wall). So right now her room is largely on hold as we wait for a plumber to some out and fix the leak. I am not thrilled at this, but I am glad to catch a leak, mitigate the mold and keep the air clean in her room. Additionally, we have decided to add another color to her room (for shelves and such) so we have time to pick out paint and add the color to her furniture, which will be cute and enjoyable for her. I'm really trying to look at the bright side.

I should be more pleased with the progress we made today, but the plumbing problem is discouraging. However, these things do happen, and we will make the best of it!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Daily Declutter

This morning I had the most amazing experience with a neighbor. Someone I had not actually met (but with whom I had exchanged peaches) dropped off a bag of backyard tomatoes! I am so grateful! We had tomato sandwiches and tomato salad for lunch -- a proper celebration of tomatoes.

As is happened, just as my neighbor arrived with her grandchildren I was moving donations to the donation box. (I keep a plastic tote in the house for donations because I have a horror of silverfish, which often live in paper products like cardboard boxes. I transfer donations to cardboard before I drop them off. I keep an ongoing donation box so members of my family can get rid of too small clothing as soon as they realize the items are no longer wanted, rather than requiring us to remember later.) I had a too-small pair of gardening gloves that might work for her grandchildren. As I passed those along my husband remembered that we had a set of child-size gardening tools. This is one of the reasons I want to declutter! We still had gardening tools appropriate for preschoolers when my children are in middle and high school! Surely there are other things hiding in plain sight that can be utilized by other people, rather than sitting around our garage. How did those tools get overlooked so many times? My husband just cleaned the garage recently, yet these tools got away! Thankfully, they are now in a better home.

Other things are getting better homes as well. We are painting and decorating my daughter's room; this requires us to remove almost everything from her room to give us access to the walls. As we remove everything she has been evaluating the things she has been keeping. Books that she has grown out of are (largely) being offered to friends with younger readers (who have recently passed along their too-young books). Doll accessories are being passed along to other girls who will play with their dolls more. LEGOs that are being store -- but not displayed -- are being reconsidered; they may be disassembled or displayed, but they are no longer being taken for granted.

And lest you think I have been working too hard, the second part of the day was spent at the coast. The kids attended a beach party, while my husband and I visited the farmer's market, watched the waves, ate hand-made chocolates (dark chocolate caramel red pepper and sea salt chocolates are definitely worth trying!) and played foosball. We also talked without interruption, and concluded (like Julhi suggested) that I don't actually enjoy many of the projects I begin. I have long felt obligated to make things, and I enjoy having made things, but I don't love the process. Sometimes it helps to have an outside perspective. Realizing this, I will be minimalizing some of my craft supplies, and more importantly, I will be minimalizing the need to begin projects simply because projects are something I am accustomed to doing.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Daily Declutter

Tyranny works. Instead of gently reminding the children, we are imposing stern measures to make them fulfill daily obligations, like cleaning up after themselves when they make something to eat. It's not as pleasant as if they remembered on their own to put away the mayonnaise, but on the other hand, the mayonnaise isn't left out. The house is tidier and I'm not growling around because things aren't being done.

I'm really enjoying summer, but I'm off schedule (which I guess is part of the definition of summer). The past two days I have gone shopping -- once for a bicycle inner tube and once for hot dogs for the kids' youth group bonfire. My menu plan will need to have more freezer meals, in case we decide to eat out or picnic instead of following the plan. I am not going to turn down an activity in order to stay home and follow my menu plan -- the plan is to serve me and not the other way around.

Despite my lack of organization and decluttering I feel like we are living in the heart of what minimalism should be. I was able to sit in on interviews for a new teacher because I wasn't stressed about other obligations. We spent the evening at a park by the beach, with a picnic dinner, playing croquet and flying kites.It felt like vacation; it felt like the way I want to live all the time.

I will be decluttering the rest of the house as things go on, but this week has been slow. I posted a toy to Craigslist, and I have someone who wants to meet with me when I go into town tomorrow morning. I shipped a book I sold on ebay. I'm using my library to watch The Hollow Crown from BBC, so I don't have to buy my own copy. And I'm taking it easy.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Daily Declutter

I'm back on the straight and narrow. Well, sort of. I cleared the peaches that needed to be frozen, and I cut up loquats to be dried. I put blankets and clothes out in the shed. I hung the string lights my husband received for Father's Day. My home looks much tidier.

I did not move anything out, but I dealt with a lot of the clutter that had begun building up. Unfortunately, due to the nature of summer, I have more peaches sitting on the counter, waiting to be processed. (I will make jam out of them Wednesday morning, so I can escape the house for the remainder of the day.) Fresh fruit will need to be picked and processed (or given away) often in the coming month. Hopefully zucchini will begin to come in, and zukes will sit, green and glowering, on the counter next to the peaches and grapes.

As I often do when I see so much bounty sitting around, I remind myself that I am fortunate to have so much. I'm also grateful for my earlier efforts to clean away clutter so I have room for the bounty that is coming in. Truly, a lot can be said for clearing clutter so I can receive new blessings.

I also am reminded that I need to just buckle down and complete projects, even if I don't feel the spirit move me. I did not finish the trivet I've been working on (for a couple months). For a while I was waiting for my son to be interested in finishing the project with me (he expressed interest. Once.). Now, I will finish this project the first opportunity I get, and just be glad it's done.

There's a lot to be said for done, and having space (physical and mental) to move on to the next thing.

Daily Declutter

I have been so busy having fun! I'm sorry I didn't post Friday, but I spent much of the day going shopping (shopped with my husband, so I bought more than usual!), picked the car up from the mechanic (regular service, nothing bad), and came home and collapsed for a while. The we played a game as a family, and watched a John Wayne movie outside, in the cool of the evening. We went back to the fair Saturday so my son could show his chicken, then we spent the rest of the day enjoying the fair again. We got to bed a couple hours after bedtime two days in a row, and I'm feeling it!

I will take this moment to pitch John Wayne movies. I love John Wayne, as a person and a character, and I am always surprised how far from stereotype his films exist. We watched El Dorado Friday, and we all enjoyed it. Robert Mitchum was much funnier than I expected, and the whole film didn't progress how I expected it. The kids enjoyed it, too. If you haven't gone back and seen these in a while (or ever!) it's worth a viewing. Plus, it's on Netflix right now, which makes it easy.

Ok, advert over. My darling husband has been patiently and pleasantly pointing out that a lot of the clutter around the house is mine. Unfortunately, when I look at it I don't think of it as clutter, I think of it as "Projects I'm in the middle of." Which, yes, technically looks like clutter. My brain certainly perceives these projects as clutter! So today I will work on cleaning up these in-process projects. Once the "project" clutter is under control again I will be able to attack the stationary clutter with a good conscience. My list for today is: slice and freeze peaches, slice and dry loquats, hang lights (porch lights my husband received for Father's Day), school clothes go out to the shed, last winter blankets go out to barn, locate totes for both, finish the trivet I was working on a month ago (with or without my son). Plus regular household tasks like laundry and making yogurt, and a trip to the orthodontist, the  bicycle store, Costco for a return, and someplace that sells vegetarian hot dogs because I found out yesterday that the kids will need some for a church event this week.

In essence, this weekend has been about fun. Today we will work hard enough to get to have fun later this week.

Friday, June 16, 2017

County Fair

I love the county fair. I love it! Frankly, I love any event where people can share whatever they are passionate about, and we attend a lot of events just to see people demonstrate their blacksmithing skills, or quilting, or caber tossing, or whatever. The county fair is an opportunity to see kids (and adults) show off the goat, or cow, or chickens they have spent the year raising. Yesterday I saw someone shaving the back end of a cow to make her look a little more perfect. You have to really have an animal trained for her to allow you to groom her so personally.

Children were there, looking at animals they do not see the rest of the year, and there were people comparing the competition chickens with the chickens they keep at home. (I remember when keeping chickens at home was unusual, and it wasn't that many years ago that chickens at the fair were as unfamiliar as the goats and cows.) Burros and piglets stood around looking adorable and photogenic (or slept, in the case of the piglets).

I love the display of arts, paintings and furniture and welded metal. Someone yesterday created a model plastic digester, which is designed to break long carbon chains in plastic down to methane and propane in the presence of argon (to prevent combustion and the creation of toxic by-products). This would be an amazing alternative to simply burying plastics in the landfill (if it is viable). Someone invented this, though, and brought it to the fair for display. I love all of it!

Another part of the fair is all the selling. The fair is an unparalleled opportunity to buy thing, things you can't buy the rest of the year, or things that are fair specials -- such amazing deals that you cannot afford to miss! We were repeatedly offered free trips to Hawaii, free gifts (aren't all gifts free?) and improved TV service. I was offered skin treatments to make me look younger, and a better straightening iron to eliminate the curls in my hair. There were exercise machines that you could stand on and the machine would jiggle the fat off you. There were several different installers and manufacturers of saunas. (I don't know where you live, but the last thing I need going in to summer is an indoor sauna. I usually work to minimize the amount of outdoor sauna that I am exposed to!)

I don't spend a lot of time watching TV, reading magazines or shopping the mall, and maybe that made me unusually aware of the degree of inadequacy the merchants were selling. Your shoes are too dirty (after a day of walking in the dirt, everyone's are!). Your home needs a better shower, kitchen, barbecue. You need to be younger, and your hair is all wrong.

As always, we enjoyed the fair. I didn't bring much home with me, except the new tags for the dog (the tags there worked better for us than the ones we get at the petshop) and new sunglasses for me (they even had bifocal sunglasses, for reading at the beach!). I did not buy the reusable instant hand warmers (even though they were really cool, we live in southern California -- it doesn't get that cold!). I didn't buy the drill attachment that allows my husband to cut sheet metal (I have no idea what he, personally, would do with that. He works in wood, almost all the time.) And I didn't buy the concept that something we could buy at the fair would make us better.

(Disclosure: we have bought some really amazing things from the fair in the past. The extendable ladders have repeatedly been useful to us, and my husband is grateful every year that we purchased one. But we are no longer new homeowners, and there's not much that we really need to acquire at this point in our lives.)

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Daily Declutter

The fair opens late, so I was able to tidy away a few things left from yesterday. I put my daughter's winter clothes out in the shed. I decided to get rid of one of her ski jackets (we live in southern California and we don't ski!). I made up a picnic lunch.

And I contemplated the stuff my daughter wants to save forever. I can't even complain, because these are things that I handed down to her, and now she wants to hand them down to her daughter, because she loved having things that were handed down from me.

Because I held on to two giant stuffed animals I will now be storing them until she moves out. I will also be saving the dollhouse my grandfather made for me, which I saved for my daughter. Not knowing if I would ever have a daughter (I might have had a troop of basketball-playing sons who would never look at a doll. I didn't know.)

At this point in my life, I don't want to save stuff. But I also have to recognize that it is unfair to force my daughter to get rid of things that are special to her because of their history.

I am glad that she didn't want to keep the Nancy Drew and Cherry Ames books I saved for her from my childhood. But I do wish I hadn't passed down quite so much stuff.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Daily Declutter

When I don't write things down, I forget things. Yesterday I thought I spent most of the day driving my son to the fair, but that was only because the trip to the fair took so long and I wrote late. Upon further reflection, I realized that I spent most of the morning encouraging him to clean his room. By encouraging, I mean I sat on his bed and told him to "pick up any group of things you see on the floor. Ok, pick up all the pens. Pick up all the post-it notes. Pick up all the school papers you no longer need." He thought the best way to clean would be to dump everything from his school bag and desk (including drawers) into a pile on the floor, so it was quite an undertaking. However, his room no longer makes me hyperventilate, so that's a good thing. He got rid of a lot of papers; he also got rid of a few toys, to give to his cousins, and I got rid of a plastic tote to carry the toys.

I will try to remember better today, and not write quite as late. (I typically check in a couple times a day, as I accomplish things, and that prevents as much forgetfulness.)

I didn't get much of my stuff decluttered, but I worked with my daughter today, cleaning out her room. She had a lot more ...stuff... sitting around. We got rid of clothes that no longer fit, clothes that are too warm (a ski jacket still in her closet in June?), and a few toys she hasn't played with in over a year. She like working together, so it was good time together, and she will be happier if she is better able to find her stuff when she wants something.

On a related note, I pulled my husband's teaching shirts out of the closet. They will sit quietly in the shed until school starts up, and in the meantime he will have better access to the clothes he will wear this summer (that is not you, dark blue high school t-shirt!). Maybe he will enjoy having fewer items in his closet, and groom his wardrobe a little closer next year? One can only hope. (I am the person who puts clean clothes away in his closet, so I do have a vested interest.)

Additionally, a pair of too-small work gloves got donated out of the garage, and some scrap wood is now cute spools for gifting ribbon at Christmas. The scrap wood bin is being reduced slowly, but as I have said so many times before, slow decluttering is better than acquisition.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Daily Declutter

Today I spent four hours dropping my son's chickens at the fair. The actual process was smooth, but the traffic was outside what I would imagine. I know some people deal with traffic like this every day, and I am so grateful not to have to deal with that sort of thing. Reducing my wants, so I can avoid driving an hour through traffic, is worth it to me, especially when I am reminded like this! We made it home safely, and I am grateful. We were force to resort to our "emergency bubbles;" I keep a bottle of bubbles in the car, and my son blew bubbles out the window as we sat in traffic. The bubbles definitely elevated my mood, and I am hoping it helped some of the other drivers as well.

At home I did not make a lot of progress decluttering, but I did get most of the laundry washed. It is necessary, and it is almost done. Tomorrow morning I will was a couple more loads and make sure everything is put away. I found a couple more items of winter wear and I will make sure all our winter clothes are collected together and put out to storage.

The only thing I can really say I got decluttered is a wooden chair we have been storing in the garage. If it's only being stored it is not something we need to keep. I know it won't make a big difference, but every little bit helps. I hope to get a wooden window seat posted to Craigslist (my husband built it as a stand-alone, and my daughter no longer wants it. Hopefully someone else will have a little girl who wants to live in the olden days.).

I am wondering if my version of a minimalist life is the same as life on vacation. Both are (ideally) simple and focused on family. When I think about what I like about vacation I think of a minimalist life, either in a campsite or in a rented suite I appreciate how everything I need is present, but I don't have too much to deal with. Can I make everyday more like summer vacation?

Monday, June 12, 2017

Daily Declutter

Today is predicted to be our last day of beautiful weather before the heat arrives. I did not use the day to work outside, which would have been wise, but I have dealt with a little of the indoor clutter. We had a bunch of peaches and a bunch of loquats that needed to be processed, and both have been cut up and moved around. The loquats and some of the peaches are in the dehydrator right now, and more peaches are in the freezer, waiting to become cobbler.

In preparation for the hot weather we got window fans out. I purchased a new fan for my bedroom, but it will be going back to the store because it did not fit my window. The fan that will be in there (the one we had before is no longer powerful enough to cool the room) is much bigger, and I will need to create some sort of covering for the glass part of the window to keep light out. Hopefully we can get that done this week. I found directions on Pinterest for a cute shutter, and that will be both nicer than the cardboard suggestion that preceded the shutter plan. I need to get it done in the next day or two.

Tomorrow will be a day for being an adult. The phone is not working, and the repair person will be coming out tomorrow morning, followed by the termite guy. I am telling myself this will give me lots of time to work on house projects.

I did sell a box of books on ebay, and it is already packaged, labeled and ready to drop off at the post office. A box of books is very large, and I feel like I have moved a lot of stuff simply by selling one item.

The rest of the day was spent enjoying the beginning of summer. We will not be so slothful all summer, but it certainly is nice to take a couple days to really relax!

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Daily Declutter

Last night I went to the thrift shop to look for picture frames for my daughter's room. When we painted her room when she was three we decorated the walls with an underwater theme: fish and seaweed, with waves and clouds above. However, now she is in middle school, and we are going to repaint, but she would like to keep some of the fish on the walls as mementos. We decided to frame those fish, and paint around the frames -- as if the fish were pictures, not part of the wall. To do this we need frames.

I actually had a need when I planned to go to the thrift shop. Everything was going well, except I brought my husband with me. Now, this man has many lovely attributes, but he is a clutter-er. He has no problem with his clutter lying around. To make a long story shorter, we cam home with a lot of stuff last night: a pile of comic books, a large thermos for water at the beach, a shirt for my daughter (to replace one she has grown out of), and a new hole punch for my son (his broke). In the grand scheme of things it's not a lot of stuff, but it certainly isn't moving in the right direction. (You may have noticed that picture frames are not on the "purchased" list. I will need to venture out again.)

Tomorrow we're finally celebrating my daughter's birthday with her friends, so the bulk of the morning was spend making a birthday cake and cleaning up from that. The remainder of the day will be spent with the family, sailing. (We rent a boat, which is the minimalist answer to boating! The upkeep on a sailboat is tremendous!) Tomorrow we will eat pizza, puppy chow and cheeze doodles, and run around playing laser tag.

In total, I don't expect to make a dent in our material load, but I am pursuing minimalism by focusing on my family and enjoying these beautiful days without responsibility, packed lunches or homework.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Daily Declutter

Today is the last day of school! I'm so excited for summer, and I'm so excited to be done with the responsibilities of school for a while. We have a full schedule, but once school is over it lightens up a lot -- we don't have to leave the house early, I don't have to have packed or packable lunches, I don't have to nag people to complete and turn in homework.

I was feeling motivated to declutter something today. I can't deal with my daughter's desk in the kitchen (and the lunch bags lying around, and the general mess she has created) until school gets out. But I tackled the wrapping supplies I have had under the bed. Under the bed is a storage space that keeps stuff out of the way, but it still looks messy to me, having a plastic tote peeking out. Especially since my bedroom is situated so I can see it from the kitchen. I finally looked through that tote, and I found that it was full of stuff that I don't use, and things I will probably never use. I had three rolls of plain wrapping paper -- but I don't wrap things in paper, I use reusable gift bags. Those paper rolls have been there literally for years, and I have had to keep the large storage tote to fit those rolls that I never use. In the next week or two I will decorate these blank rolls and they will be included in the "everything you need to wrap Christmas presents" gifts I give to 4H leaders and people like that. The wrap will be both used and gone.

Getting rid of the tote under the bed is pretty exciting to me. The remainder of the gift wrap went into an adorable vintage suitcase, and it is now living in the bottom of my closet, looking cute. I was planning to use a vintage hatbox suitcase, but that was fiddly to open and sort of odd-smelling on the inside. I decided to let that go to someone who will enjoy it exclusively for its exterior, and it is off to the thrift shop.

I also spent a couple hours weeding. Does weeding count as decluttering?

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Daily Declutter

Sometimes the clutter turns invisible, and I overlook it. During the winter my husband keeps a couple of overshirts and a sweatshirt by the front door, so he can grab something warm on his way out the door. However, that season is passed, but his clothes continued to hang by the front door. I finally noticed, and they are now in the laundry, on their way out to the shed.

Likewise, I had a couple gallon storage jars sitting on the floor near a cabinet (out of the way). I finally realized that I have room to store these inside the cabinet now, since I've cleared out a lot of the stuff that was in there. More clutter gone.

I posted a toy to Craigslist, dropped an ebay package at the post office, and dropped a bag of jewelry at a the historical society for their shop. I spoke to the main office of the historical society, and they do want some local ephemera for their collection; I will stop by next week to drop those off in the collections office. I rehomed some clutter that's been piling up, and I tossed a shopping bag that has a hole in the bottom. I've had this bag for a long time, and I never use it because it has a hole. By getting rid of it, I will no longer have the frustration of picking up a bag with a hole then returning it to the car for another one before I can go into the store. Why would it take me so long to do this simple thing?

I am really looking forward to tomorrow afternoon, when all school materials must be turned in. The schoolbooks that are cluttering every flat surface will be out of the house, and I can begin working on some of the clutter the kids have accrued in binders, desks and floors (sigh).

This summer we will be redecorating my daughter's bedroom. I have new bedding and some decorative objects for her room; as soon as we have her room painted I can move her new decor into her room and out of my storage spaces. Us it or lose it, and we're finally going to use some of the stuff I've been storing for years!

Monday, June 5, 2017

Daily Declutter

This weekend I reread the first couple Cherry Ames books I had saved for my daughter. There were fun, and a nice relaxing read for this weekend. My daughter admitted that she has no interest in every reading them, so they can go to ebay and someone else who will love them. The stories were especially interesting from a historical perspective; the nursing program was very different from the program nurses follow now. Also, the first books are set during World War II, which adds an additional historical element. (In later books Cherry serves as a Dude Ranch Nurse and a Department Store Nurse, among other titles, which makes me curious about what was going on back then!) Today I will need to photograph and post these books in anticipation of moving a box of books out of the shed.

I decluttered a vintage Nancy Drew title that got lost and didn't get posted with the Nancy Drew books I sold earlier. It's not worth it to sell one book.

I also successfully found a home for the sewing machine and wringer washer my daughter no longer wants. The friend who gave them to us in the first place is happy to have them back. I'm glad they'll have a good home so quickly! I have a load of donations in the truck; after I drop them off at the thrift shop I'll load of these things and drop them off too. I'll have a bunch of new space by this weekend!

I finished emptying the chest freezer. Now all I have to do is empty out the water (it is not frost free!) and it can sit idle for a while. If I need to fill it this summer I will be happy to have it, and if I don't need to fill it this summer I will have evidence that it is not needed, so I can convince my husband to get rid of it.

Looking over what I've done today, I'm please that I've done so much. Granted, not much physically moved out of the house today, but I moved a lot out of my brain; things that were in my mind as "things I need to deal with" have had decisions made, and actions taken, and now they only need wait until someone else moves (or I drop off other stuff) so I can finish what I have decided to do. It feels almost the same, emotionally, as actually getting rid of stuff. Especially since I'm storing things in the shed until I actually get rid of them. (This is not a good strategy unless I already have a plan for them to leave permanently.)

Clutter-free Father's Day Gifts

Father's Day is just around the corner, lurking. Somehow, I always find Father's Day to be more difficult than Mother's Day (possibly because I have to get my husband a gift, and not the other way around). Since I compiled a list for Mother's Day I thought I'd try a similar list for the men.

Rachel at Nourishing Minimalism has a great list, and I'm using a few of her ideas here.

I prefer to give homemade gifts, in part because the people in my life mostly buy what they need when they need it, and they don't have a lot of "wants." But they do often have interests that can be supported. I'm sure the men in your life will have some different interests than mine, so approach their gift giving from the perspective of "what do they like" instead of "what do they want" for clutter-free ideas.

My dad likes to eat, and he likes scorching-hot foods. Seriously, he has on hot sauce that the grandkids aren't allowed to touch because it's so hot, and he has to wash his hands after he uses it. I plan to make him hot sauce. I've made Thai chilis in vinegar before, but I've also seen sriracha recipes on Pinterest. Chili oil, for salad dressing, dipping bread, or barbecued meat would also be a great option. Many men have an interest in food, one way or another, that can be supported with gift giving. (Rubs or sauces for the grill enthusiast, for example.)

My husband immediately suggested tickets to a baseball game. If you don't live near a major league park, all the better! I love our minor league team more than our major league team, and a day out there with snack and beer is a great way to celebrate Dad. If you need a souvenir of the day, keep score and bring the record home. If baseball's not his thing there are lots of other sports, or even tickets to the theatre (there are lots of summer festivals that are worth exploring).

Museum tickets (for the day or the year) are another way to support his interests. We have a machinery museum, a railroad museum and a maritime museum near us, all of which are traditionally masculine interests, in addition to the local history museum and the air and space museum. Taking him and showing interest in his interests is a good way to connect with your dad, or you can give him a chance to geek-out with other people who are really enthusiastic about his interests.

My last suggestion is for a service that he doesn't want to do. I know I'd be thrilled (mostly) to have someone else clean my house (I'd have to clean it first myself, because I have issues, but that's another subject). Give him a certificate to clean the garage, an oil change, lawn service, or clean the house -- whatever his personal chores fall out to be. Someone can haul away the old shed in the back yard, or even lay the patio he's been wishing for.

Clutter-free gifts are often challenging to conceive because so much of our culture is focused on material gifts, and having "something to open" at gift-giving occasions. I hope my list can be a springboard for your creative gift giving!

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Daily Declutter

I don't usually write anything on weekends, but today was special and I feel it needs recognition: when I got home from my daughter's dance class (and grocery trip) my husband was almost done cleaning the garage! We can park both vehicles in the garage again!

This was especially challenging because we have an enormous truck, and it takes up a lot more room than the old car. My wonderful husband got rid of a bunch of stuff (in said truck, to take to the thrift store), some stuff went to school (if he wants to keep clutter there I will not say anything about it), and some was just stored better. The almost-empty shelving unit is still there and still almost empty, but for the time being I will just let it stay empty. Hopefully he will get used to the idea that we don't need to fill it up with anything. Or we will need it, I'll be wrong and we'll be happy we have it. Stranger things have happened.

I couldn't finish my shopping trip yesterday because the police helicopters were circling the store I wanted to go to, and I just didn't need to go that badly. So today I finished up (we were out of oatmeal, among other things. Oatmeal will be used in end-of-the-year gifts of granola or muesli for the teachers), then went to the zoo and watched the orangutans for a while. I did not go shopping, as much as I was tempted. I do not need anything, and I could not even invent anything that I needed. I was better off at the zoo, although the orangutans always make me sad because they have such sad faces, and such sad fates.

On an unrelated note, we picked up my daughter from school yesterday and we went to see Wonder Woman. I was very hopeful for this film, and it lived up to my every expectation. I am so happy with how it turned out -- I was so happy to take my 12 year old daughter to see a superhero movie with characters she can admire. (So far she's been really interested in Black Widow from the Avengers, and I'm not 100% comfortable with that.) The script was good, the actors were very good, and the setting was beautiful (except for the war parts which were not gratuitous. In fact, at one point a queue of wounded soldiers are leaving the front, and they were less gruesome that accounts I have read.) If you are considering going to see it, I definitely recommend you go!

Friday, June 2, 2017

Daily Declutter

Today is shopping day. I have a menu made out, my shopping list written up. I just have to get it all done in an hour and a half while my son is in class. More likely he'l have to wait in the media center for a bit, but he can use that time to study for finals.

List night I had a hard conversation (for me) with my daughter. Years ago she was really into Little House on the Prairie, and she received a couple of antiques to help her play "olden days." I had the only little girl (5 years old?) who was ecstatic to receive an old wringer and washtub for her birthday. She's wash doll clothes with it, and even bought a washboard to go with it. But she hasn't used it in years, or the treadle sewing machine she received a couple years later, and they both take up a lot of space. So last night I asked if she still wanted them...and she was completely causal about getting rid of them. "Oh, no, I had forgotten about that, and I don't think I'll ever use it again." I've been putting off asking her, but it was so easy! Next chance I get I'll post them to Craigslist, and move them out!

That's about all the productive I'll be today. Go shopping, put food away, then we're off to see Wonder Woman, then a family birthday. I really, really, hope Wonder Woman is good -- woman-positive and no moony romance. I haven't been to an opening weekend movie in a long time and I hope it works out!

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Daily Declutter

I got an item shipped for ebay today. That's about all the decluttering I was up for. I didn't increase clutter, though, so that's something.

As I was driving my son to school this morning I noticed that one of the main branches of our peach tree had split. A few years ago the same thing happened, and the tree healed after we wrapped it, so I spent a good part of the morning wrapping the tree, and pruning branches that were weighing the tree down. There might be a metaphor here that I could use, something about having too much, even too much of a good thing, can be destructive. Hmmmm.

However, with the aid of my valiant daughter (seriously, the break was above my head. My arms are aching from holding the branch up, and my 5-foot-1 daughter had to do most of the wrapping above her head as well. However, we rescued a number of peaches that are almost ripe, and they will ripen as best they can, and they will go into cobbler next week.

I stopped by the store on my way home from my husband's school; it's not my usual day shopping, but I haven't gotten birthday gifts for two nieces whose birthdays we are celebrating tomorrow. I went into the store with minimal inspiration, and came out with the foundations for two gifts. One niece will get an Oreo/lunch package (lunch bag, package of Oreos, Oreo box, something else I haven't figured out) and the other one will receive a beach bag (bag, beach towel, sunscreen, chapstick, maybe flipflops). They're both on their own this year, so I figure they can use a lot of adult essentials, but packaged to be fun. After all, they're not going to want to buy lunch or sunscreen, but they're going to need it, and they can spend their money on things that are more fun instead. I bought a pair of shorts for my daughter, but I did not get anything else for me. I did not get the grey linen blouse I almost bought, because I knew I would never actually wear it (I wanted it to be white, but it just wasn't). I'm feeling pretty pleased that I recognized that I would not wear the blouse, and I did not bring home clutter.

School is wrapping up for both my husband and my kids, so we have lots to do in the coming week. However, after that summer is here and we will be free! Today we have an event at my husband's school. I am realizing that simplifying, minimalizing, my schedule is difficult because I'm the mom. Even if I minimalize my schedule I still have to facilitate everyone else's schedule. I'm going to still try to streamline everyone's schedule, so I can drop off one person to the way to another event, but I don't want people to miss out on the end-of-the-year pool party just because I'm trying to reduce my own schedule. (On the other hand, people do have to limit their own commitments so they know how to balance their time. I don't have a perfect answer for this, and I may not get one while the kids are still living at home, and especially if they aren't driving. I guess it gives me something else to work on. In case I run out of physical clutter.)