Friday, October 27, 2017

Daily Declutter

There is always more to declutter! I started planning for Christmas this week, and came up with a few items that I can declutter in the process. I'm not giving clutter for Christmas, but I do have some wool that will be knit into gifts. As I went through my yarn, I realized I still have some aluminum knitting needles -- and I hate knitting with aluminum needles! So away they go. If I want to knit something with that size needles, I will be happier buying new wooden needles, so away those went.

I still haven't cleaned out my wardrobe, but my daughter went through hers, and found items that I have never seen before. So those have wandered off as well.

In the meantime, the bar has mostly been cleared (my jury duty paperwork remains out, and pumpkins sit out waiting for Halloween to be carved, then made into puree for pumpkin bread). The counter in my bathroom is cleared of clothes that are "still mostly clean." The living room only has the clothes for the shop that I am actively pricing (the rest have been removed to storage).

Not the decluttering accomplishment I got before the shop, but I'm holding steady in areas, and still making progress in others.

Fantasy Minimalism

I have a rich fantasy life. The fantasy me wakes up when I'm rested -- not when the alarm clock goes off. Then she gets up, has a lingering cup of tea (and maybe breakfast) with my husband. We step out of our cute cottage, then walk the dogs -- an English bulldog and a husky -- to the nearby dog park. I wander into town (again walking distance) to pick up fresh produce and a crusty loaf of whole wheat bread for dinner. I volunteer at the library or similar organization once a week, and my husband volunteers at the maritime society. I know the town where fantasy me lives, and I've looked online for real estate there.

This is nothing like my real life. I almost always wake up to the melodious sounds of the alarm clock -- or occasionally, the sound of my dog barking. I get in the car to pick up my son from practice, I drink tea while checking email, I take a kid to school, I come home and do laundry, or maybe it is my day to drive to the grocery store the next town over. I come home and wash more laundry, label laundry, price laundry. (I now take laundry outside in totes I can carry!)

My fantasy life is not the only correct minimalist life. I'm pretty sure I couldn't actually live that way. For one thing, I still have kids at home, and my fantasy life seems to revolve around dogs. My fantasy life does not seem to include washing dishes, washing laundry or any housework at all. (I've had a husky; sweeping is a major occupation for husky people.)

I've been a little demoralized about my minimalist journey because my real life is so distant from my fantasy minimalist life. But as I work to control my environment, and as I focus on the life I actually live, I have become more aware that minimalism is how I live the life I am living, not a fantasy life with house elves. Minimalism is a tool that allows me to enjoy living a busy life, with growing children who are developing their own direction in life. It is a tool to allow me to pursue a business opportunity, charitable opportunity, or  travel opportunity, without compromising my future or my priorities.

So, yes. My life is crazy-busy. My husband and I are not home two nights a week because we are taking kids to classes. Weekends are full of extracurricular activities, garage sale-ing, and the occasional sleepover. But clearing the clutter out of the living room, creating a menu that does not involve take-out pizza (I can't eat cheese anymore) and preventing orthodontist appointments from conflicting with school might be what minimalism looks like for me right now.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Daily Declutter

Well, I can't say I've made a great deal of forward progress, but my efforts with the smaller bins have created a positive effect. I went to the bins (and took pictures! But I don't think they demonstrate the immensity of what I'm dealing with, and I will try again. Taking pictures of random things is hard for me -- I have yet to get up the nerve to take pictures of my shopping cart. It just seems too weird for me, and I'm introverted enough to want to avoid attracting that sort of attention.) and my home does not look like it. I have about one load of laundry waiting to be washed, and the rest of the clothes are tagged and in a bin -- not roaming the living room, taking up laundry baskets. They will be priced and taken outside today.

Much of the day that was not spent on laundry and clothes for the shop was spent on creating Halloween costumes. My son will be an arcade game, and my daughter will be Spider-Man -- but the homemade costume, not the one Iron Man made. Cardboard boxes were instrumental in construction, and a sweatshirt and ski cap were sacrificed to the cause, but everything else will be reusable when we're done. Plus, everything either came from the bins, the thrift shop or was packing material, and the cardboard box will still be able to be recycled at the end of the night.

I did have a positive zero-waste event. Several weeks ago, my husband went to the snack shop at the local science museum (it's next to my daughter's dance class, so it's convenient) to get a cup of iced tea. He had remembered his reusable cup and was feeling good. However, they refused to use his reusable cup...but they were willing to sell him their reusable cup, which he could then reuse. They said they could not use his cup because it was "against Health Code." He gave up arguing with them (I didn't ask if he used a paper cup, but I know he didn't come home with a new reusable cup) and moved on.

I emailed the manager. This is, after all, a science museum! They should know about trash, and zero-waste, and things like that. They should be in favor of reducing landfill, and creating more plastic (which can only be downcycled, not truly recycled over and over like glass or aluminum).  The manager was very nice, and after a couple of emails back and forth, she changed the policy at the snack shop and retrained the employees! Apparently, the Health Code says you can use a customer's cup if it's clean and you don't tough the equipment.

I'm really grateful that the manager followed up and was willing to change! A zero-waste victory!

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Daily Decluter

I think I have my living room back! I moved out the last boxes, including a box of tagged, priced and inventoried clothes. I moved the empty totes out to the barn, so I can get them when I need them and move around when I don't. I do not have a pile of things I need to decide about, lurking next to my chair. (How will I clean the stain off this shirt? What will I do with the vintage baby clothes?) Ok, I have one shirt with an ink stain I need to remove, and soon, because it's a Christmas shirt. But that's so much better!  For now, they go out to the barn so my living space will be living space, not storage space.

I even managed to post an item to ebay. I decluttered some lids that make mason jars into travel mugs -- but I have a travel mug I like, and I mostly just use my regular mug anyway. So these can go live with someone who will use them, and I can stop feeling guilty about them!

All my laundry is washed, folded, and put away. That used to be a foregone conclusion, but lately things have been lingering in laundry baskets, or worse, laundry baskets have been full of clothes for the shop.

Tonight (or early tomorrow) I will complete the menu and shopping list for next week, and finish my errands for the week. It will set me up to stay on top of things next week!

Daily Declutter

I brought the totes home, and they have made a positive difference in my home already. Yesterday I moved three totes of clothes out of the house (two into the barn, one into the truck for delivery). I labeled four baby shower boxes (so you can get a gift and out of the store in less than five minutes. For people who hate baby showers, or who forget.) I washes two loads of laundry, and one is already put away. I made decisions about baby shoes, burp clothes and bibs (on their way out to the truck in my next trip).

The bar is mostly clear, and I made enchiladas for dinner and banana bread for breakfast. I really feel like I'm making progress, but there's still a lot to do.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Respect Yourself

I had baby clothes all over my living room. It was way beyond what I was comfortable with, what my husband was comfortable with, very much in line with what my dogs are comfortable with ("Get off the laundry! I'll have to rewash that!). I kept the clothes in laundry baskets, totes from Costco, chairs. (I told you it wasn't pretty.)

I think I have a solution. I have moves almost all the clothes out of the house (I have a basket of to-be-washed, and I think that's it!). What was the difference? I finally bought totes that I could move comfortably.

I bought large totes before. I could store several loads of laundry -- over a hundred items of clothes -- in one tote. But they sat in the house because they were too awkward to move. And it took me a long time to realize my problem was the size of the tote. My darling husband (who has put up with so much so far) would carry the totes out of the house, but I wouldn't. Now I can load up clothes, and store them until I am able to tag them. I can carry most of the clothes out, and just work on one small section at a time, so my family will only have one tote of clothes to ignore.

Most people don't have hundreds of items of baby clothes sitting around the house, so what's my point? The point is, it took me a long time to realize, I have to make sure I am physically comfortable with my tools or I won't use them.

If the laundry basket is too heavy, if the shopping bags are too large, if the cabinet is too deep, I will resist using it. If I resist using it, clutter will build up, and I will get frustrated, until I identify the source of the disconnect and fix that.

I am so glad to finally have all this clutter out of the way! We can go back to living in our house, especially as the weather makes living outside (eating on the porch, relaxing on the porch) more difficult.

I'm so excited to finally make progress with this problem!


I think I am finally recovering from opening the shop with my mother. By recovering, I still have clothes, shoes, bags, bins and boxes cluttering up all the living space in my living room. Not minimalist. But lately, more than ever, I have been appreciating how my efforts to approach minimalism have made this endeavor possible.

In the past year I altered habits to streamline processes around the house. I put away things that would become clutter -- before they became clutter. I sold or donated a lot of clutter, which made space for me to store boxes, bags and bins. I developed a shopping list and shopping day, began menu planning and generally made the home run more smoothly. If I had known I would start spending my time rescuing children's clothes from charity shops, washing and leaving them around my house, I couldn't have had a better preparation than what I did over the last ten months or so.

However, since August, minimalism has escaped from me, and I think my entire family has suffered. I would post a photo of my living room, but I am ashamed of the mounds of clutter. I am unwilling to let this continue, and I will have to work on two fronts if I am to make the changes I wish to see.

To that end, I will resume writing. I felt a sense of motivation and obligation to create change, so I could report change every day. Some days the change was minute, but I regularly made changes -- and that added up to a lot. I will not be able to report as often, as I will frequently need to buy for the shop and work on the shop in other ways. I hope to be able to report on an expedition to "the bins," where I am able to buy so much for the shop. (So. Much. Clothes.)

So, thanks for reading along, and bearing with me on this new expedition!