Saturday, December 30, 2006

Recent Reads Update

I finished this book last night. It's a good one; I finally understand why smokers smoke. I really never have--sure it's an addiction, but what a messy, smelly, dangerous one. Julia Hansen's memoir is not funny (as one of the jacket quotes says it is) but it is touching, tear-provoking and thoughtful. A very good read. And...her relationship with her mother and her experience of her childhood made me think of my own...

The Legacy

My Clutter Buddy reminded me of something today. The Legacy of Clutter. Waaaay back when I was first expecting DD1, that's 1999, I vowed to conquer my clutter problem. I received a clutter legacy, and knew the pain and did not want to pass that on. Well, best intentions and all that, but it's almost 2007 and my house still has clutter.

The Legacy of Clutter isn't just a tendency toward messiness. It's an inability to let things go, a failure to understand that things are just that: things. They don't have emotions (I have deep memories of buying things because I "felt sorry for them"). They don't equal emotions--that pair of socks is not my mother's love for me. But try telling yourself that if you're a hoarder! It's not easy to change ingrained patterns of belief and behaviour. I struggle every day with this.

So what do I want for the kids? I want to give them a clutter-free house, the ability to let things go without regret, and the knowledge that they are enough.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Yet More Guilt

So where is all this guilt coming from? It's not like I was raised Catholic or anything! I wonder sometimes if it's the right emotion, or if guilt is just the closest match for these feelings.
Here's a little guilt story for you.
Before Christmas, I was doing some clearing and decluttering in the basement. I had bins of toys, gathered from various parts of the house. I went through them, consolidating and purging. I managed to fill two paper grocery sacks with toys, books, etc that either I didn't want the kids to play with (i.e. noisy toys, broken toys) or ones they'd themselves identified as ones that could be given away. Younger DD had two identical soft foam number puzzles, both gifts from the same person. Why two were given, I don't know. No matter, she had two. I thought, "I can give one of those away, easy, no guilt no problem because there are two". Sounds fine, right? Well, days later, younger DD was playing with the remaining one, and older DD wanted to also. Older pointed out that there were two of them (oh no, I thought, she remembers!) and so they could each have one to play with. They bickered some more, and older DD continued talking about the two puzzles. I felt just awful! I had given away something they remembered and talked about! How could I have done that? I could never do it again, making decisions for them about their things! How would I feel?

And so on and so on. Torturing myself over and over.
For a foam puzzle that had been ignored for months before that day.
This is an insidious disease, painful and frustrating.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Four Boxes Gone...with Guilt

I had four boxes of my sister's stuff from ages ago (long story short, I took a storage unit full of my, my mom's and my sister's stuff to my house to store. I've been getting rid of it slowing or returning it to the owners, and had these four boxes left). We took a trip to see family for Solstice/Christmas the past 5 days, and I filled half my car's trunk with her boxes.

I had left her a message that we were coming (didn't mention the boxes, that was a fairly last minute decision), but didn't hear back.

Turns out, she's moving. I just brought her more stuff at the time when she's about to move. Instant guilt overcome me. And to add to it, she casually said 'Why didn't you just get rid of that stuff?'. Um, asking a HOARDER if I could have just 'gotten rid of' another's stuff? Well, she doesn't have this disease, thank the Deities.

So, I feel that I did my duty by returning her things. If she chooses to sell, donate, trash, those boxes, that's all right. They're hers to dispose of or keep.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

The Lamp

Just a repeat of a favourite quote...

"Many of you feel sorry for this lamp. You are crazy. It has no feelings."

--IKEA advertisement


Last weekend, I got about eight inches or so of hair cut off. No, I'm not going to post a picture of the cut-off hair (why? mostly because I forgot to bring my digital camera along to the salon).

I have hair issues. I almost typed 'used to' but it's still true. I kept my eyes closed through the entire hair cut, after showing the stylist a picture (um...the photo on the back of my Costco card actually...). Anyway, the long story is boring, and I'm sick of having hair issues. It's just hair, it grows back. I will dig up an old picture of my and share it with you so you can see perhaps why I have hair issues.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

On Gifts

I have a difficult relationship with gifts. Somehow, I got the idea that the gifts I am given reflect how well the giver knows and loves me. When I receive a gift that I don't care for, if it's from someone close, I feel betrayed. It's a horrible feeling--a sort of falling in the pit of the stomach. Worst are gifts from my mom, the person who I "think" (in quotes because while I know intellectually that this isn't so, some deep primal part of me hasn't figured it out yet) should know me the best. When I receive a gift from her that I don't care for, I feel guilt, betrayal, and sometimes even anger. What an awful emotional state in which to receive a gift!

The feelings are worst at Christmas, less so at my birthday. They're familiar and as I noted above, almost primal. I remember these feelings from childhood, especially the guilt. Guilt that I disliked a gift from my beloved father. Guilt that my first reaction to receiving a gift is hesitation.

I have been working on this, really I have! What I am trying to do is to remember that the gift is merely a symbol of the giver's love or caring for me. It's not the sum of their love or even the sum of their knowledge of my preferences. It's merely a physical manifestation of a fact: that they were thinking about me and wanted to give me something. The thing doesn't matter! It really is the thought that counts.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The Threat of Christmas

Christmas is a joyous time, full of cheer. Carols, candy canes, fruitcake...all the good things of the winter season.

And then comes The Day. The day the things descend upon us: toys upon toys, games and books, clothing and shoes, you name it, there will be too much of it very very soon.

* * *

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

A Hard Task: Selling Books

I've started selling the books. I had this grand plan to take all seventeen (17) boxes to Powell's books in Portland, which is one of my favourite bookstores. Then, I could get store credit at a place I enjoy going. Problem is, I don't live in Portland. I live 180 miles away.

So the boxes just sat. And sat. And sat. This weekend, I realized that had to change. I committed to bringing them to a local bookstore that sells new and used books, two or three boxes at a time. I took the first two boxes in today. They bought a few, not many, but still a few. I'm going to take those two boxes one other place and then they go to the library, where they'll be sold at the Friends of the Library booksale (most likely ... I doubt any would be added to the collection).

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Trixie: Out of the Dark at Last

I couldn't wait, I unpacked my two boxes of vintage Trixie Belden books. I had aimed to have a full shelf clear without double stacking other shelves that were NOT already doubled. But, as I note above, I couldn't wait. I did cull almost a full box of books, but I just didn't have the emotional energy to do more than that. But my precious Trixies are out of the dark--they've been boxed up since, oh, about 1997.

In one of the boxes, I found a 3x5" file card box, filled with cards. What was on the cards, you ask? Take a look! Yes, that is what you think it is. Detailed indices of the contents of my VHS tape collection.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Hot Turkey

I went to a thrift store yesterday. I did go in with one item in mind (a jacket for Older Daughter); they didn't have any nice ones in her size, and what they did have was way overpriced ($14.99 for a USED kid's jacket? I don't think so!). So, why didn't I just leave then and there? Why did I check the game section (oh, well, I was looking for CandyLand for Younger Daughter). I found a nice Ravensburger puzzle. Then, since they were right in front of me, I had to look at books. Older Daughter is always reading and I like to support that. Ten books later, I finally headed for the check-out.

Filing, Dreaded Filing

Yesterday, I did some filing. Frankly, it was because I needed to find a particular piece of mail that I knew I had seen recently (um, that is, sometime in the last six months). I filed my entire pile (13" high) of paperwork.

I used a new system. Previously, I'd created a separate file folder for EACH type of item, breaking everything down. So, for instance, we bank with a couple of banks, and have a number of accounts. Old system: each bank account gets its own file folder. New system: all bank related papers go into a file called 'banking'. It worked a treat--the whole stack filed in about two hours. Old system would have taken twice that amount of time.

Here's a picture of my new files. Now, I just need to clear some space in the file cabinets for them.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Back on the Personal Finance Tip...

So, one of my favourite personal finance blogs is having a contest. I love contests!

Here's my entry: A link to one of my fav posts on the blog, My Money Blog. This one's about the extra bonus you can get from My Money Blog when you open an Emigrant Direct account using his links. Well, it works! Thanks, My Money Blog!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Cold Turkey Update

I bought some really tasty sliced, roasted turkey at Costco on Tuesday. Nice big slices, reasonably priced. Made a great sandwich with some cranberry mustard on whole wheat berry bread--yum! Oh, wait, you didn't want to hear about that kind of turkey, did you?

I haven't been in a thrift store since ... I saw those old items of mine in one. I guess it's been a couple of weeks. That feels like a long time. I almost went in one the other day, but didn't due to time restrictions, not being true to my 'cold turkey' pledge.

Fact is, I tend to forget about those pledges. I remember the first time I decided to become vegetarian. I went out to dinner the next day with my boyfriend. We went to a Vietnamese restaurant and ordered pho. Yup, beef noodle soup. I didn't remember I was going to be a vegetarian until after it had come! Yes, I did eat it anyway. It was pretty good, as I recall.

I haven't taken any new donations to the thrift store. I haven't done much in the way of clutter clearing recently. Although I did decide that I want my Trixie Belden on display on my bookshelves, which means I need to get rid of more books. Yes, more. I pulled out about six that I can move out. They're ones that made it through the first cull, but ones I don't really plan to reread. Who needs to read Mercedes Lackey's Storm trilogy again? And do I really need paperbacks AND hardcovers? No, I didn't think so.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

A Secular Bible

Have you heard of the Jefferson Bible?

Books I've Read Recently

In no particular order, here are the books I've read most recently. All except American Gods I got at the library.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Going Cold Turkey

Where does that expression come from, anyway? Wikipedia to the rescue!

CB says to go cold turkey on thrift store shopping. She's right, she's right, I know she's right (props to whoever gets that reference), but it's hard. I love the treasure hunt, finding that special deal. It's so much fun. And I don't like most regular stores--department stores have too much stuff, specialty stores are too pricey.

If I could always stick to a list, perhaps. But it's the thrill of being there that's the problem. The feeling "what cool thing will I find today?", that's what I need to avoid. I am complete, I need nothing. Repeat until the message sinks in. Then repeat again.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Missing Blogger

One of my favourite bloggers has disappeared. No website, email returned to sender. Where are you, Seattle Simplicity?

Monday, October 23, 2006

Successful Donation Run

I made two trips tonight to the local thrift store, trunk loaded up with donations. Here's a before of my pile:

And here's the after:

The two paper bags on the ground in the 'after' are going to the baby corner at my church; the other things? Well, it's stuff I'm on the fence about. Those bags were at the back of the pile and I think I just ran out of emotional energy by then.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Freak out of the week

Try browsing in a thrift shop and seeing things you've donated hanging on the racks. It happened to me the other day, at the second branch of the store I usually donate to. OK, so they think they can get $4.99 for that kids' sundress? $3.99 for the leotard? Seeing MY things priced and for sale was not fun. It felt like a violation, which tells you what a disease this is.

In other news, CB has threatened me with a visit. I am to be brave and send off my pile of donations without cataloging each individual item. Apparently, it's good enough for the IRS to say 'x bags of household goods' on my taxes. That was my big excuse. What now? How can I say good-bye properly?

...she did promise me a Krispy Kreme original glazed, so I might be able to find the strength...

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Stuck, Very Very Stuck

Husband has been frustrated lately with the state of the house, and our lives in general. I reminded him of what the Flylady always says "start with yourself". Fact is, he doesn't know how to keep a house any better than me. At least, he doesn't do it with his stuff. Piles accumulate (less than mine, because he isn't a hoarder, but still).

In the past few days, every member of the (human) family has been down with a nasty little gastroenteritis virus. First Older Daughter, and since it was over so quickly (a night spent puking & enduring diarhhea, but still just one night), we assumed food poisoning. That assumption went out the window Thursday night when Younger Daughter and Husband were struck. Nothing so cute & pathetic as a three year old carrying around her own puke bucket. Poor kid.

I got it the next night. Misery. The only bright spot? My dear cat stayed by my side, snuggling and purring as needed. What a good boy!

Being stuck in the house for essentially days, you either get used to it or feel oppressed. Husband began to feel oppressed, and thus, out came the frustration.

I don't know what to do. It feels hopeless. If I can't let go of the stuff, I am stuck? I can't seem to get the will to sell it, donating seems like giving up, what other options are there?

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

So Much Yet to Do and Mental Clutter

Unfinished, waiting tasks from August. AUGUST. Yes, I did have a house guest, and yes school started, which breaks up my day in odd ways as I often drop off and always pick up Older Daughter. But that's no excuse for failing to:

  • catalog and deliver donations (from the immense pile in the garage)

  • list the furniture we want to sell on Craig's List

  • make a stab at the piles and piles of paperwork--some is important, some is just recycling

  • purge the toys, again

I have reverted to my old ways with paperwork. No, let me correct that. I never got to a clear, even, organized happy point with paperwork. There's a lovely book called Getting Things Done that lays out a simple system for dealing with life's tasks. I've had access to it for almost two years. I haven't yet finished it. Anyway, my point is, without a basic system to fall back on, I am limping along without any clear notions of how to keep up with the paper of today. I tend to use the "wait until it's expired, then recycle" system, but that doesn't work with bills, with taxes, with school permission slips.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Three Words

Cake for breakfast.
'nuff said.

One Word


Let me just say that my day yesterday got better and better.

And a huge shout out to my sister, who sent me a fabulous gift, a sweet text message, and cards that made me cry.

A touch of sadness that my mom didn't call. She sent me lovely cards and a gift, but even a voice message would have meant a lot.

Thursday, October 05, 2006


Today is my birthday. It sort of snuck up on me. Due to trying to avoid clutter Husband and I agreed no cards for each other. And low on presents too. But...I've realized those things are important, because I am now feeling it's less of a celebration. A real victory would be to be able to recycle the card after an appropriate amount of time has passed (i.e. a month).

No one made me coffee. All there was time for before getting the kids ready for school and preschool was a microwaved cup from yesterday. Not so good.

I think I hate birthdays. Getting older, more things one hasn't accomplished, same routines, nothing new. What's the point?

It's supposed to be a celebration of life. Yet,'s also another step toward death.

Maybe I'll start celebrating UnBirthdays. There are more of those, so it won't be so stressful!

* * *

I did finally realize what I wanted for my birthday: a functioning car stereo!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

This Is So Hard

This is a devious ailment. It requires constant vigilence. Strength. And just plain hard work.

...and then I come across a blog like Walk Slowly Live Wildly. She, along with her husband and toddler, downsized from a two-story house to a 478 square foot apartment. One bedroom apartment. Take a look at her photo gallery. Oh, the envy! Everything in its place. A place for everything. She has friggin' SPACE in her cupboards!

It's beautiful and seems as far away as the moon to me. No, make that Pluto.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Some New Blogs to Recommend

You may have noticed there are a few more links in the sidebar. I added a couple new Personal Finance blogs that I enjoy. Make Love, Not Debt is a chronicle of an engaged couple's journey out of debt and into marriage. The delightfully named Stop Buying Crap focuses on just that: avoiding stupid spending.

Enjoy and Happy Sunday!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Stuff In, Stuff Out

So, I've been needing to find some long-sleeved dresses for Older Daughter for the fall. Buying new would be nice, but I just can't bring myself to spend $20 or $30 for a dress that'll be stained within an hour of its first wearing. So used is the way to go.

Problem: I have a hard time going into a thrift store and coming out empty handed. Even if nothing meets my needs, something usually finds its way into my basket. That's why I really tried going cold turkey on them. It's not a bargain if I buy things other than what's on my list, and add to my house's clutter.

Here's what I bought: Four dresses for Older Daughter, two long-sleeved, two short (but so darned cute). She likes them all, and can wear one of the short-sleeved ones now as it's still quite warm. The other short-sleeved it a bit big; it'll be saved for next spring. One game, a pirate game by the excellent German game company Ravensburger. All the pieces are there, as well as the rules. It looks like fun. Another game will go out the door in exchange for it. Six books for Older Daughter. She loves to read, and getting books for .69 or .99 sure beats new. One book for me. One pair of cold weather short boots for Older Daughter. She's grown out of her shoes recently and needed one more pair. A like new pair of Keen shoes that I'll sell. A bible with fancy tabs for my mom, who's been wanting one like that.

I had an essay in the works on the subject of bargains. Some people can bargain hunt and come out ahead. I suspect, however, that most people end up spending as much or more than they would have had they just bought the one item they needed new and otherwise stayed away from the thrift stores, the garage sales, the clearance racks. Would I have come out ahead? I spent about $40 on everything listed above. What there did I actually NEED? The two long-sleeved dresses and the boots. Retail price for the equivilent quality? About $55. So, did I come out ahead? Perhaps. You tell me which was the better deal!

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Donations Out the Door

I took a small truck load of donations to the thrift store today. About ten large bags of items--clothes, toys, books, etc. There's still more to go, but I had to take a break. Too much emotion going into it all.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Petite Progress

Today, I did some thinking, and I helped Clutter Buddy with some moving preparation. I have some ideas for an essay I want to write. Need to actually sit down and do the writing.

Thanks to My Money Blog, I have $105.00 more than I did two weeks ago. Check out the link in the Financial Section.

Friday, September 15, 2006

One of Those Days

Today feels like one of those days where, at the end, I feel like I've done nothing. So, here's a list, mostly for myself, so I don't feel empty at bedtime.
Today I:

  • Unloaded, reloaded and ran the dishwasher

  • Folded two loads of laundry

  • Swept the master bedroom and the dining room

  • Watered the cats

  • Took out recycling and compost

  • Emptied the kitchen garbage

  • Worked on the website I maintain

Thursday, September 14, 2006

New Fun Site

OK, so I love my coffee. And when I say "coffee" I don't mean a latte or a mocha or anything like that (although I have been known to drink those too). Coffee=coffee, black, hot, very strong. I like Starbucks. It's hot, strong, and dependable. And don't try to tell me any stories about how it's 'corporate' or 'burnt'. Not true.

Today, I found a delightful site that I would have loved back in my barista days. See the latest addition to the Sites I Follow sidebar to have a look for yourself.

And on the Financial Fitness topic (and clutter reduction as well), this tip from a blog I recently found called Get Rich Slowly


Please send me some get fully better very soon vibes. I have a wretched sinus infection, and it's awful and icky. Better than Sunday, when I first got sick, but I don't want to be sick forever (which is how I feel right now).

There are miscellaneous piles of stuff building up around the house. I cleaned out my purse yesterday, and that pile is still sitting where I left it. If feels...stale.

My Uncle and the dear Husband have gone South to visit my mom, Uncle's big sister, and for Husband to visit his dad. The kids and I will either a) hang out and watch movies and try to get better or b) clean the house

Which do you vote for???

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Busy Busy

I've been busy with family recently. My visiting Uncle, Older Daughter starting school, Younger starting her new year of preschool...lots going on.

Here's the good: I haven't added anything to the house. Well, I did buy one Battlestar Galactica magazine, but I'll send that on to a friend once I'm done reading it. It's one of my vices, I can't help it. Gotta love Edward James Olmos--what an amazing actor!

But back to topic here. I read most of a book on finance yesterday called All Your Worth, by Elizabeth Warren and her daughter, Amelia Warren Tyagi. It's a back-to-basics, but look at the big picture finance book. Worth a look (ha ha) if you feel overwhelmed by the advice in most finance books. These authors also wrote a book called The Two Income Trap, which is on my to-be-read pile, courtesy of the library.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

My Guest Room has a Guest!

My Uncle G (my mom's younger brother) is visiting here from Ohio. Thank goodness I have a guest room! He's got his own space, a comfy bed (well, comfier than a couch), and his own bathroom. It's great!

I haven't done much lately, but I've been working on keeping up-to-date with finances, and focusing on not bringing new things into the house. The world is a sea of temptation. Must not let it fog my purpose.

Older daughter is loving school, and younger is chafing at the bit to go too. Her preschool starts next week.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Back to School

Today, Older Daughter started back up at school. She's in first grade now. She wanted me to stay all day (!) and Younger Daughter wanted to stay also, so we ended up staying almost all day. I am exhausted. The children are running around like maniacs.

Eliminated some clutter today as I took three bags of office supplies to the school. Might have more too.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

My Very Best Money Saving Tip

I consider taking care of, and being aware of, finances part of my decluttering journey. It's about avoiding perfectionism (i.e. letting $ sit in my Roth IRA because I can't take the HUGE amount of time needed to choose which investment to, just get a friggin' S&P 500 fund if you can't decide!), and being aware.

So, here goes.

Stay out of the stores. Be Aware. That's it. If I don't go to stores, I don't spend money. These past few weeks, while I've been actively decluttering every day, I have been so busy I couldn't shop for more than a few groceries. In the process of decluttering and realizing some of my personal issues (i.e. 'do I deserve anything nice?' etc), I've decided to go cold turkey on thrift store shopping. Sure, there are bargains. But if you're a hoarder who thinks it's neat to be the archivist for the world, you're sunk. You'll be knees-deep in old Clue games, mysterious magazines, vintage clothing that fits no-one in your household. You get the picture.

For those non-hoarders, well, just staying out of stores will save you money. Plan your trips, bunch your errands. Shop at only one grocery store, go to the same gas station, buy your clothing at one or maybe two stores. Avoid the variety, because while it sure is the spice of life, it's also eternal temptation. Did you know that if you are offered a variety of foods, you'll eat more? Same with spending your money.

More on Finances

A money blog I've newly discovered, No Credit Needed, is running a contest. Check it out and maybe you'll win!

One of Those Days When You Think You Didn't Do Anything

So, yesterday was one of those days where you come to the end of it and feel like nothing was accomplished. I need an inventory.
Yesterday, I:

  • cleaned off my computer desk

  • ran three loads of laundry

  • folded said laundry and put some of it away

  • dusted and damp mopped the bedroom floor

  • picked up miscellaneous items from the living room floor

  • swapped out living room rugs

  • did some pruning of an overgrown quince

  • much much more!

Today, I'm taking the little children to IKEA. They've promised to play in the Kid's Club area while I do some shopping. Fingers crossed for that, OK?
Here's a picture of the now-tidy computer desk. Cat is cropped for anonymity.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Floor Clutter

Today, I have a goal of removing all the things from the floors that don't belong. Toys, boxes, brooms, misc. STUFF that ends up on the floor. It's tedious and frustrating, because the Small Children tend to undo one's work almost immediately. But it has to happen, don't you agree?

A Huge Shout Out to my Clutter Buddy! Yesterday, she caulked my entire downstairs stall shower in preparation for it to be actually usable for my Uncle who is coming to visit...on...Thursday! Huge kudos, hugs, cheers to CB!

Saturday, September 02, 2006

One More Thing

I did write to my cousin. I didn't make the card. It went out in yesterday's mail. Whew!

Totally and Completely Off Topic

But here it is.

I'm shopping for a car. I'm trying to break this nasty habit I have of waiting until my current car is dead in the driveway before I look for a replacement. I've driven my current car for 9 years. It was six or seven years old when I bought it. The major repairs are kicking in--I had to do the clutch a while ago, the brakes recently, part of the exhaust system. You get the picture.
I know what I want.
It's rare.
This is a problem.

So, I'm throwing this out to the Universe. Universe, please send me...
An Acura Integra GS-R 4 Door Sedan
1998-2001 model years
Less than 80,000 miles on original engine
White, Silver or Black
Leather Seats (or not, can't be too picky, right?)
From the Western United States
One owner
All stock OR any mods done by a skilled mechanic

Friday, September 01, 2006

The (Almost) Finished Room

I'm still going to move those bins into the closet for when our guest actually arrives, but here's the mostly finished set-up:

Thursday, August 31, 2006

The During

OK, you want to know the details? Well, for one thing, most ofe stuff that was in that room is still here, either in the house or in the garage. One of the bookcases was moved into the guest room's closet, and the smaller boxes of craft items are on it. Boxes of comic books were moved out into another part of the house; they will be sold eventually. Some things went into the donate pile, others into the ebay bins or boxes of books to be sold.

What happened was that I realized that to make the changes necessary to turn a junk room into a guest room, most of the items had to be simply physically removed, to make space for the couch/bed and in order to vacuum the rug (which hadn't been vacuumed since it was put down three years ago). Once most of the stuff was out, you could see the 'bones' of the room, and figure out where the furniture had to be to fit without covering over either of the windows.

There is still a great deal of work to be done with the stuff that was removed. Lots of sorting, filing, many decisions. But now, we can have guests over to stay and offer them a civilized place to sleep.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Before and After: The Guest Room

Today, I recovered an entire room. We now have a guest room. Well, Husband still needs to put the futon couch/bed back together, but that takes about fifteen minutes. Thanks to enthusiastic won't-take-no-for-an-answer Clutter Buddy, the remaining stuff was moved, bookcases rearranged, and carpet vacuumed. Take a Look!

Here's another view:

The pieces of wood stuff against the wall are the futon couch. I'll take another shot once it's put together.

Here's the before shot:

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Taking Care of Your Finances

One of the things I procrastinate about is money. I put off balancing the checkbook, filing paperwork, things like that. I have to be able to do it PERFECTLY and since that is incompatble with LIFE, it doesn't get done as promptly as I would like.

In the spirit of improving one's finances, and since finances are related to compulsions, hoarding and perfectionism, I've added some financial resources and blogs that I like to the right side-bar. Check them out; perhaps you'll be inspired to take care of some business.

Today, I took Older Daughter to have her yearly haircut--both Husband and I keep saying to her "You look so cute!". I think she's getting a bit tired of it. Let's see...hit the library and picked up some books and paid some fines. Did some laundry. Still haven't removed everything not furniture from the guest room. The boxes are heavy and I am easily discouraged recently.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

More Outside

This morning, I had some political duties to take care of (I'm a Precinct Committee Officer for the Democratic Party), but I have just finished a 'shift' in the back yard, weed whacking and raking overgrown grass. Feels good to do some physical labour, but my hands get sore fast. Guess I need to grow some callouses.
My main goal today is to move all the boxes out of the guest room. The problem is that I don't really have a place to put them. The basement cupboards that I had cleared out are full again, mostly with items from the guest room. I really resist the idea of stacking boxes in a corner or something like that, but it may be my only choice if I am to clear the room any time soon.

Friday, August 25, 2006


It can bring me to a screaming halt. I've owed my cousin a thank you note for almost three months. Why haven't I sent her one? Because I make my own cards. I haven't had a chance (meaning, I haven't made the time) to make her a very special one, because she's very special. So, instead of just grabbing a store-bought card and writing a heartfelt sentiment, I don't do anything.

Hoarders are often perfectionists. You laugh, because you've seen my pictures, and those of others. How can those piles of crapola be the work of a perfectionist? Easy. If you can't do it just perfectly right, don't do it at all. So, since there's just not enough time in a day to clean the house, well, can't do it at all. Better to let it sit than do a half-assed job.

Perfectionism is why I've worked so very hard the past couple of weeks and done so little the past three days. I haven't been able to devote my full attention to decluttering and if I can't go at it full-force, why even try?

We are also easily discouraged. For me, keeping a blog has been the rope that kept me from falling into the abyss of despair. Each day, at the end of the day, I'd wonder what I'd actually done, because the house just didn't look much better. Then, I'd call up the blog and see my list--oh! I guess I did accomplish a lot.

Today, my goal is to move all the boxes of craft stuff and such that don't belong in the guest room out of there.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

ABC News on Hoarding

Here's a hopeful video. You'll need Macromedia Flash Player to watch it.

An Outdoor Task

Today, I wanted to take on an outdoor task. The backyard has been sadly neglected and is quite overgrown with grass mostly, but some weeds and miscellaneous plants. It all need to be whacked down, raked, then rototilled. I am not going to rototill, but I sure can whack and rake.

So, I start to do it and the grasses (seriously they're like 3' or something) get tangled in the whacker and the cords don't seem to be extending. It's at the end of it's cord supply, meaning it needs to be restrung. Great. Stopped practically before I start.

Now, I think we have spare cord. I have the instructions for how to re-string it. Husband has done it before. I will update my progress later!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Back on Track

I sort of took yesterday off. Well, I thought I had, but then I listed out all the stuff I did and it seemed like a pretty full day!

Today, my goal is to move out some of the boxes from the guest room. Some are what I call 'scary boxes', those that I open up to try to sort and immediately slam the lid on. There are also two huge, clear, Rubbermaid bins of paperwork. Filing to be done. Those are scary, let me tell you! I need to do the most recent of them before tax time.

So, easier to move the boxes out so I can vacuum, dust and rearrange the guest room. I have a futon folding couch-sofa that will go in there as a guest bed. It needs enough space to unfold.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Taking Stock

I feel that I need to take time and catch up with the hot spots, small flat surfaces and mini-piles that have developed while I've been tackling big picture tasks. I'll update my done list later today.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Catching Up

I have to write down what I've managed to take care of since yesterday, so I don't forget and think I'm turning into a slacker.

First, here's a lovely little essay on how to stop making piles of junk.

  • Took out all the trash and recycling that had built up.

  • Did laundry. The hampers are close to empty--that is, so low that it's not worth doing a load yet.

  • Working in Older Daughter's room, boxing up stuff she doesn't use or that is just too much for the space.

  • Three more bags of donations tossed onto the pile.

  • Built a new shoe rack. IKEA to the rescue! It matches the lovely coat rack I put together a few days ago.

  • Finished dusting Older Daughter's room. Swapped her old rug for a new one. Re-packaged her Legos into one larger bin rather than three smaller ones.

  • Vacuumed living room rug again, and the downstairs rug that I'd not yet done. Looks much nicer!

  • Cleaned out my car. Now, what to do with the boxes of junk I just pulled out of it??

  • Dumped two more bags of garbage and one of recycling.

  • Cleaned toys out of Husband's car.

  • Cleared off dining room table (it's a large flat surface, what can I say?) and changed the table cloth and placemats.

  • Swiffered the dining room and hallway.

  • Culled two more cds by listening and saying 'eh'.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Use the Good Stuff

A brief reminder to Use the Good Stuff!

Putzing Around

Today, I haven't worked on a big project so far. A box here, a box there.

  • Cleared out a 'stash & dash' from a couple of years ago. Most is recycling, a few items into donate, some trash, some to file.

  • Made the mistake of actually looking into a box with old letters. That's a time and mental energy drain. Don't do it.

  • Rearranged boxes in basement storage cupboards so that my old junk is in one spot, and Husband's in another so he can easily see what's his when he goes to sort it out.

  • Sorted through a laundry basket full of stuff (from the floor of the upstairs linen closet). Most ended up in donate, some things found new, better homes.

  • Next up, trip to the library to return books and donate a box full for the library book sale.

Friday, August 18, 2006


I had an epiphany about my ebay bins. My Clutter Buddy mentioned that she thought I should consider culling those bins down a bit more. I thought about it, and realized...

The ebay stuff is stuff that I'm not ready to let go of yet, and keeping it around to sell allows me to keep it around longer.

Now, you armchair psychologists are saying "Well, duh!", but to me this was huge.

I just now sorted through a closet and picked out two dresses to donate. I considered a third, looking at it. I've owned it forever, it was probably my mother's. I wore it in a high school variety show where I lip-synched a Marilyn Monroe song (yes, I might have a picture. No, you don't get to see it.). Lots of memories in that dress. I looked at it, and then checked the label. It's an I.Magnin (fancy brand from 30-40 years ago, kind of like Nordstrom). My next thought? That might sell as vintage on ebay! Bingo! I was able to let go. I can let that dress go. But not ... quite ... yet.

Another Day Another Orgy of Decluttering

So far today, I've finished putting together a new coat & shoe rack for the downstairs hallway. I've also purged my totebag collection. Until I can get the pictures to work here, I'm using the Angelfire album. Remember, pop-up blocker!
More accomplished!

  • Removed all extraneous fridge magnets: gone are the fridge poetry, advertising magnets, magnets that don't hold anything up, pieces to magnet games long gone. Fridge is grimy now that I can see the surface.

  • Cleaned out the floor of the linen closet. This spot builds up junk and becomes a dumping ground. Found a lot of garbage, stuff to donate, stuff that needs to be stored elsewhere.

  • Younger Daughter vacuumed the living room rug. She insisted, what could I say?

  • Culled through a stash & dash consisting of stuff that I dumped out of my purse over the past two years. It had filled 1 1/2 drawers of the dresser we kept in our downstairs hallway. Lots of papers to be filed for taxes, auto records, etc. Two brown bags' worth of recycling. Two sacks of garbage.

  • Did three loads of laundry, wash, dry and fold.

  • Heard back from Canon about my camera. They say they'll fix it and it should be on its way back home in about a week. Clutter Buddy, who had lent me her camera, is out of town for a week and needed the camera back. So, I am photo-less for another while.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

The Back-Logged Life

I just found this link on The Discardian. Fabulous stuff!

The Back-Logged Life


I still can't get them to show properly here at Blogspot/Blogger, so I had to make a little photo album elsewhere.

Before and Afters, and some In-Betweens

Be sure you have your pop-up blocker activated before you open the link. Sorry about that!

I'm on a Roll!

So much to report! First, I need to treasure my mom more. She took Younger Daughter and me out to dinner last night and breakfast today (um, nice change from leftover mac & cheese!) and she's out for a walk with Younger Daughter so I can...

  • Set up the turntable. I'm listening to an actual vinyl record on a Technics 1200 turntable. This totally rocks!

  • Clear my side porch so that my side door can be used. Problem--despite unlocking it, the door won't open. I need to find the key.

  • Move all of Husband's books that were in the bedroom onto his bookcase in the guest room.

  • Moved the smallest of the bookcases from the guest room into the garage. I had emptied it yesterday. No, everything that was on it is not yet sorted, but baby steps, remember?

Earlier today, my Clutter Buddy (CB for short) came by to help with some big stuff. Here's what we did:

  • With the help of my dear neighbor across the street (and his handtruck), we moved the old entertainment center from the dining room where it has sat since last Wednesday when MIL helped me set up the new into the garage.

  • We removed the doors to the main bedroom closet. Our house is small, it was built in 1940 and they didn't have a lot of stuff back then. Still, the bedroom closet had two doors. They really invaded the room, and were often left open.
  • While I emptied the drawers of the dresser we kept in the downstairs hall (ostensibly for shoes, keys, purses, etc but in reality a dumping ground and a tempting flat surface)...

  • CB installed a wire curtain rod in the closet opening. Now, there's a lovely purple Celtic design spread there acting as a curtain. It does need to be hemmed, but I can do that later.

  • We moved aforementioned dresser into the garage. I have another solution for the hall shoes and such, but I need to clean first. I actually found some rabbit turds from when we had rabbits...back in 1999!

  • I sorted a laundry basket that contained stash & dash from my car. This one wasn't too old, only May. Most went into garbage or recycling.

  • Major Kudos and Applause to my dear Clutter Buddy, who jumps in with both feet and makes it happen!

Here are some truths I'm learning. If you can't or won't change, change your environment. Our original bathroom had a vanity style sink with a large cupboard beneath it and a large medicine cabinet. Both were always packed, with additional stuff on the counter of the vanity. When we remodeled, I made some decisions (that Husband didn't always agree with, but does now). We chose a pedestal sink (it's actually a wall mounted one with chrome legs, very retro!). It has NO storage except for a spot for a bottle of hand soap on the edge. A small, recessed medicine cabinet. That's all. There's a small bin kept on the floor near the tub with the kids' bath toys, and I keep two small stainless steel canisters, one for Q-Tips another for manicure tools, on the top of the toilet. The garbage sits there too, out of the way. We have three towel bars, and a robe hook. It's the most functional room in the house and there is no clutter there. There CAN'T be and that's the beauty of it.
So, my lesson is this. I need to arrange my whole house so that clutter can't build up. It'll take time for me to change, but if I change my surroundings, I will be forced to change my behaviour. I don't clog up the bathroom with junk anymore (I used to!).
Record's over. Must flip it to side B.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

A Tiny New Entry With a Few More "Got 'Em Done"s

  • Purged beading supplies. I have a small bin (maybe 1/4 the size of those big ebay bins) of beading supplies for making jewelry. I haven't done it much since having why hang onto everything? I kept my tools and the gemstone beads. Rest goes on ebay!

  • Picked up my mom at the train station. I was talking to her last night and she said "Do you want me to come up and help you?" and I thought a moment and said "Sure". She was on a train the next morning. What a mom!

No New Pictures Yet...But Lots of Progress

I still can't post pictures. No idea why not. Very frustrating!

Today, so far, I've poked about a little. Here's what I've accomplished so far:

  • Sorted through record albums. These were taking up an entire shelf of the built-in bookcase in the guest room. I have a stack of tentative keepers, and husband's are out in the garage on a table for him to sort. I've decided to put his questionable stuff--that is, things that I'm not sure if he wants to keep or not--all together on or under a card table in the garage, with his name on each box so he knows it's his.

  • Vacuumed the basement stairs. Takes about two minutes and instantly makes the house feel tidier.

  • Filled another box of books to sell and moved them to the 'books to sell' stack in the garage. There are sixteen banker-style boxes now!

  • Shredded some old documents.

  • Sorted a box of office supplies. Kept a few, the rest go to Older Daughter's school or are to be donated.

  • Paid bills.

  • Took care of a financial task I'd been putting off.

  • Had a decent breakfast, coffee, and read the paper. :-)

  • Update!

  • Finished filling, put lids on, and took to the garage two more bins/boxes of ebay stuff.

  • Vacuumed two of the four rugs in the basement. They are still stained (well, it's a basement! Things like paint get spilled there!), but look much better

  • Changed the cat litter and vacuumed the bathroom.

  • Moved books that had been sitting on the living room couch (because they were on that consold table that I moved downstairs yesterday) to the now-free shelf in the built-in bookcase in the basement. Culled out a few while I was at it.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006


I haven't been able to post pictures recently. I have some I am itching to share, but Blogspot isn't cooperating. We'll work on it.

Meanwhile, today I got a little bit done. Not as much as I'd hoped, but still progress is progress.

I moved some empty boxes out to the pile of empties in the garage. Moved boxes of scrapbook supplies from the guest room (giving it its proper name now) into a storage cupboard in the basement. Thanks to decluttering, I have two mostly free cupboards that I plan to use to store craft supplies. They'll be in one place, and reasonably accessible. I'll tweak it as needed.

I sorted through three banker's style boxes of VHS tapes. I haven't owned a working VCR for almost two years. We just don't use tapes. Most of the tapes were of figure skating competitions I had taped from TV back when I follwed skating intensely. That was, um, 1995-1999. 75% of the tapes went straight back into the box to go to the garage. There are other tapes besides the skating--movies, some TV shows, etc. They'll all go into the pile called 'Husband Needs to Review'. I did promise him I wouldn't give away any of his stuff, so boxes are piling up that contain items he needs to review. I plan to put all of these into the garage on a table, so as to make the process more comfortable and convenient.

I also moved a console table from the living room into the laundry room, to act as a folding and sorting table. Swept the laundry room. Still need to vacuum it, but the vacuum is upstairs and the laundry room is downstairs. That's a problem, as I hate taking the vacuum from one floor to the other. The basement stairs are a bit steep. It always feels...risky.

Today, I also did some errands. They were frustrating. Best Buy did not have the DVD holder or the CD holders that I wanted; the hardware store didn't have the right sort of caulk either.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Pack Rat

I've come across another documentary about hoarding:

Pack Rat

I Love The Discardian

There's a link to this blog on my sidebar, but I have to share this specific entry with you.

Getting Rid of Stuff

And here's a lovely quote, also from The Discardian:

"Let It Go

Maybe you have a hard time getting rid of things. Maybe you feel guilty about getting rid of that "perfectly good" toy you don't like anymore. Stop. It may be perfectly good for someone, but that someone isn't you. There's nothing inherently wrong with you getting rid of it. Who are you worried about offending? (As the Ikea ad says "Many of you feel sorry for this lamp. You are crazy. It has no feelings.")"

Finally...Some Big Changes

It seems that everyday, no matter how hard I've worked the day before, I wake up and look around and think "hmmm...doesn't look that different". Well, no matter what my mind is saying, I know that big changes happened.

Yesterday, I had some assistance from my Clutter Buddy. Gently, respectfully, but knowing what I want to achieve, she helped me plow through sections of the basement, change decor, move boxes out the door and recognize what I've accomplished (that I tend to dismiss). Here's a small list of what happened:

  • Painting over mantle swapped for a lovely mirror (painting had been on the 'let's sell that' list for a while)

  • Painting featuring a single woman reading an alien language--located in the corner of the living room in which I tend to read, by myself, no matter how I ask husband to join me (!)--swapped out for an ink drawing of two poplar trees

  • Boxes destined to go back to their original owner removed to the garage

  • thus leaving space to add storage for bulk paper goods in a convenient location

  • Diapering supplies moved out of the house

  • Painting that I realized I had negative feelings about moved out in favor of a Japanese country scene

  • Gift bags purged and stored with the wrapping paper, all in one location. How convenient!

  • Cleaned off the top of the freezer in the basement. Found a strange solid puddle of material, which, when cleaned by scraping with a putty knife and many rags, turned out to be ... solidified melted ice cream! The smell grew truly awful as it got damp from the rags. No idea how long it was there...

  • Sorted through clothing that had been bagged up back in the winter when Older Daughter came down with lice, courtesy of school. If you can live without it and not miss it for six months, perhaps you don't need to keep it?

  • Two ill-fitting leather coats in the donate pile.

  • Clutter Buddy, a whiz with a drill, replaced a door knob on a closet in the basement that had been off for I can't remember how long. It had a lock and one day I needed into the closet and couldn't find the key. So, hacked out the door knob and it stayed that way until yesterday.

I've run out of large brown paper grocery sacks, my primary tool for my donate runs. My recycling bin is overflowing, the garbage is packed full (and I have two bags sitting in the garage waiting for after Wednesday, when the garbage truck comes by).

* * *
I have to share a sweet something. Yesterday, after I dropped off those bags of fabric for Project Linus, I stopped at my car for a moment before unlocking it to think. I was wondering how I would feel after parting with so much of one thing, a special craft thing, something I had spent much money on. What did I feel? Relief. A tiny bit of regret that I had accumulated so much. But I didn't beat myself up. I didn't revel in the guilt. I simply thanked the deities that I had the courage to release those things, and thanked those who created Project Linus because knowing it was all going to a wonderful cause did truly help me to let those bags go.

Oh, and did I mention? The fabric store was actually conducting a fabric drive (like a food drive, you know) when I dropped my bags off. They offered a coupon for a 5% discount for each yard donated, up to 25% off. Now, I easily exceeded that. The lady who helped me offered the coupon and I declined. She offered again, and again I declined, citing the risk of temptation. But she did respect my answer. That took strength, let me tell you!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

A Day Off

Or at least, part of a day.

Today, I took the morning off from decluttering. I read part of the paper, went to church (where I dropped off a bag of baby stuff for the 'Baby Corner' donation area) did some errands (including dropping off four huge bags of fabrics for Project Linus, leaving a box of books at the library for the Friends of the Library book sale, and adding a bag full of canned goods and such to the Volunteers of America food bank barrel at the grocery store). Went to the church picnic for a brief visit and now am back home.

It's back to work now. My goal for the afternoon is to re-bag and itemize my huge pile of donations and take them OTD. Anything more than that will be gravy!

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Watch this

It's the trailer for a documentary film. Sad and frightening. Frankly, it gave me a chill, a feeling that I had escaped something dire...

And, a reminder that serious OCD hoarding is a mental illness and should involve professionals skilled and experienced in handling OCD.

My Mother's Garden

Long Day

I've been working since 7 a.m. this morning. Here's some of what I did:

  • I used to do stash & dash in older daughter's room. I found two bins in the basement of those stash & dash results. Cleared them out today. Some I had to keep, but there was a lot of recycling, trash and give-away too.

  • Conquered another crafty bin. I found a messy bin full of yarn, knitting needles, half started projects, and gadgets. I saved a small tote bag's worth, including my favourite needles (the ones I don't love are in an ebay bin), a skein or two of yarn and some of the gadgets.

  • The Christmas and Halloween decorations and such have been binned or boxed, labeled and moved to the garage attic.

  • My built-in bookshelf in the craft/scrapbook/guest room now has only books on it, and they are only double-stacked in one small section (and those are all by the same author--Nora Roberts anyone?)

  • I did a quick clean of the refridgerator, tossing old leftovers and such.

  • I emptied a wooden toy box (about 2' x 3' in size) of its collection of miscellaneous stuff. It is now empty and I need to decide if I should keep it. Keeping it requires painting it, as it's unfinished wood and will look like crap if it gets used unpainted.

  • Found all the pieces to a cool dinosaur floor puzzle (pieces had been in three separate bins in the basement!!)

  • Filled two more boxes of books.

  • Filled three huge bags of quilting fabrics destined for Project Linus

  • I am exhausted!

I think that's about all, but there may be more later.

Don't forget to check the links on the right hand side of the page. I'm always adding new sites to the links list and the Feng Shui list. Check them out. All will open in a new window, so you don't miss a minute of Confessions!

Friday, August 11, 2006

Pushing through the Resistance

With the help of a clutter buddy, that is.

I am lucky enough to have a clutter buddy--someone who is decluttering at the same time as me. Today, we did some work at her house. Made amazing progress. I wish we'd taken pictures, but suffice to say that a once cluttered, hard to use room is now a restful, clean oasis.

Going through some of her harder items to toss and seeing how she'd worked through what she needed to in order to be able to let those things go gave me the impetus and emotional energy I needed to tackle those sewing bins.

I culled three of my bins (these are 18 Gallon Rubbermaid bins I'm talking about, same size as that huge stack of ebay ones in my garage as seen below) and reduced the contents to one. I have several bags of donations, including quilting fabrics for Project Linus, a group that provides handmade blankets and quilts to seriously ill children around the country. Another few things will go a friend who quilts. I saved only some patterns, tools, and a few small pieces of fabric that I especially like.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

It's Getting Harder

The easy stuff is done. What I have to deal with now is very hard and progress is slow. I keep finding boxes with 'precious' things in them. I tried to sort some of my sewing supplies today. It just didn't work. I'd open a bin, pull a few things out and put them all back. It felt futile. With each piece, each object, I found myself saying 'but that's still useful!' 'but I could make a dress up outfit out of that!' 'but that's going to be my Rennaissance Faire costume!'.

Right. Like I have time for major sewing projects. Like I even go to the Rennaissance Faire (we have at least three in our area. I've gone to one, one single time. Seven years ago.). So, can I just give all that stuff away? Is it possible?

I have a dream of making my junk/scrap/stuff room into a guest room. It'll need to be done soon, as I have a guest coming in September. Early September.

Please, give me strength!

Stuck in the Past

A while ago, I cleaned out a few old files in one of our filing cabinets. We have two four drawer filing cabinets, nice sturdy ones that belonged to husband's grandfather.

Both are stuffed.

I had to do a bit of cleaning out in order to fit the current year's tax folder into the cabinet. I put most stuff in recycling, but had a box for shredding. That box sat for four months because I didn't have a shredder. The other day, younger daughter and I hit the office supply store and bought a shredder. We started the next day and today, we finished the box.

This morning, for some reason the files called to me. Perhaps it was because late last night, I had the urge to do more and decided to tackle husband's workbench. Now, there might be a peek-a-boo view of the workbench in one of the photos below. It was covered in stuff. Receipts, bits of wood, screws, parts of half-done projects, tools. Paints, pens, dust, old plastic bags. Yucky. Very very yucky.

Now, for those in the Feng Shui know, a flat surface that is unusable due to clutter impedes creativity and energy. This bench was a toxic zone! Husband frequently complained about how hard it was to use, but for some reason found it hard to tackle the clutter.

Well, now it's clean. Actually clean. And clear. All the items are put away--tools with tools, projects in shallow boxes, papers filed where they can be accessed. It was very satisfying and now when I look at it, it feels restful and full of potential.

So, anyway, back to the filing cabinets. They are in a far corner of the basement--the Wealth area in fact. And how about that, stuffed full (i.e. no room for more!) cabinets in the Wealth area. Not good. I picked my personal financial drawer and went at. card and bank statements from the early nineties. Old promotional flyers, catalogs, solicitations. I generated a whole pile for the shredder and a huge pile for recycling. Still much more to do, but this feeling of lightness is addictive.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Move Your Stuff...

Change Your Life. One of my new favourite Feng Shui books. And, that's what I did today (with some help).

Today was IKEA day. There are many areas that need a bit of a lift, so those needs were addressed. I'll share some pictures once I have everything unwrapped and in place.

The big change came once we came back home. I'd been pondering changing out our entertainment center for quite a while. We have a wood-coloured (fake veneer) particle board armoire-style center. It actually doesn't look too bad, but it's chipped, the doors to the cabinet section stick and are uneven. And it hulked over the room. I'd been looking for a replacement, but couldn't find anything in a reasonable price range that had the right dimensions. the basement, we had some older pieces that had been basically in storage for 9 years. For some reason, even though I'd been suggesting for a while that we donate them, they came to mind. We call them the Tetris bricks, because they are two pieces shaped like the 'L' in the game Tetris. They can fit together in many ways for a different look.

With some good-natured help from my mother-in-law, we moved everything off the old unit (and there was a lot of stuff--TV, DVD player, receiver, many many many DVDs and CDs as well), and brought the new pieces up from the basement. A careful diagram of the connecting plugs later, we'd made the change.

It looks nice. More open. The TV, which had been feeling small, seems larger and easier to see outside of its confined space. I'll need another culling pass with the DVDs and the CDs, but that's not a bad thing, is it?

Everything is Meant to Be

This morning, just now in fact, as I was enjoying my morning coffee, a large truck pulled up in front of my house. I thought it was the garbage truck, but lo! It was Community Services for the Blind, a local non-profit that picks up donations.

No, they weren't here for me. They'd called a couple of weeks ago (before my recent purging) and I'd said "No, I don't have anything". But my neighbors across the street did. And so I hopped out the door and asked the driver if he could wait a few minutes and I ran down to garage and grabbed three bags of clothing (which they would take, he couldn't take all my donations due to space). But hey, three bags gone and what a nice feeling!

The driver had his young son with him helping. A nice image for the day.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Visual Aids!!! (aka pictures)

Thanks to my friend C, I have some more pictures to share. These first ones are of my ebay bins in the garage. Note that the tall stack has another stack the same height right behind it. Yes, ten bins!:

Here's a pile of items for ebay that need to be binned up (yes, I bought more bins. You do what you need to do!):

And here is the even larger pile of donations that need to go. Yes, I will actually take them to the charity shop:

Monday, August 07, 2006

Feng Shui in Action

As I've been cleaning and decluttering, I've tried to keep the Feng Shui BaGua in mind. I've discovered that my older daughter's room is in our Wealth and Prosperity section--her cluttered, dusty room in which we found a piece of moldy food attached to a dollar bill! That ain't good Feng Shui!

Other discoveries ... the Love and Marriage section of the basement is ... my junk room! The Love and Marriage section of our bedroom contains ... my husband's hobby magazines and a pile of totebags. Health is located about where my very disorganized pantry is.

Now, lest you think my whole house has only bad Feng Shui, the Children and Family area is about where all the toys tend to end up. :-)

I just finished this book on Feng Shui. It felt very helpful, but I do wish the author had given more details on what to use to fix areas that need work.

One important thing to remember: always make sure you have the permission of those living in the space to move their stuff before you do so! Luckily, I read this in the above book before moving any of husband's things. I asked permission, and he granted it. Let the moving commence!

I want to leave you with this quote from Fast Feng Shui:
"Stop thinking of cleaning up your clutter as a tremendous chore, and start thinking of it as one of the most effective feng shui tactics available to you. Every magazine and piece of paper you recycle, every book you give to the library, every item of clothing you release to a new owner creates space in your life for new energy, joy, activities, and companionship to come in. "

Sunday, August 06, 2006

An Ambitious List

Last night, I wrote up a fairly ambitious list for today. Thus far (and it's about 3pm here on the Left Coast), I'm still working on the first item.

It's a big first item.


Take all bins of ebay items to the garage. That's it. But first, I had to sweep the garage, set up a safe place to stack the bins, find the bins (making sure they really are ebay items), label them on all four sides, and carry them from the house to the garage.

So far, I've found eight 18 gallon Rubbermaid bins, and set up two 14 gallon bins as shipping supply bins. Finally all those padded envelopes have a home!

I'm not going to tell you the rest of the items on my list. Suffice to say that I'll be pleased to finish up number one today.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

So Far...

I've moved a large table out of the 'scrapbooking room' (aka 'the junk room') and into the garage. Plan is to use it for sorting. While clearing off the table, I tackled 7 small Rubbermaid & Sterlite boxes. These are the small, 6 quart size. They often sell them as 'shoe boxes'. Well, mine were all chock full of: pens, papers, notecards, stationary, postcards, pencils, paper clips etc. I purged so much that there are now only three boxes, and each is NOT stuffed to the brim. Felt *SO* good. Such relief. With each item into the toss pile, I kept thinking 'why did I keep this for so long? why did I think this was so precious?' And so on and so forth.

There were boxes stored under the table that I had to move before actually moving the table. Can I tell you how much my back hurts now? I glanced in a few of the boxes. Some have books that I want to see on my shelves again. Books that make me happy. Some had old school papers that I need to purge. I did a purge of them a few years ago, but I still have two full boxes and that's too many considering how long I've been out of school (going on ten years now).

Here's the interesting part. In a couple of boxes were large paperback graphic novels. It'll age me, but I'll tell you some of the names. ElfQuest, Dazzler the Movie, X-Men, New Mutants, She-Hulk. Some of them made me want to take a break and read them, but the bulk of them? I just got this awful feeling inside that spoke to me and it said "How long do I have to tend these things? When can I give them up?" That's when I left the room and went to check ebay prices. Yup, they'll go for enough to make it worth while. Ebay pile is getting bigger and me with no digital camera.:-)

Big Plans

I am quite thrown by my digital camera's demise. One of the reasons I did this journey as a blog was to share before, during and after pictures. How can I do that without a camera? Of course, I do have a film camera, but no scanner, and the immediacy is lost.

But, you will be proud of me. I'm not going to let it stop me.

Today, I have big plans. Unfortunately, I need more bins. Laugh if you will (I can hear you, really I can), but I do. I need to clear our all the stuff in the big one's room and in the basement. I've made a radical decision: I'm going to move all the junk to the garage and make it a staging area for sorting. I just have this feeling that things will get better for me emotionally if the stuff is out of the house, even if it isn't dealt with yet. I'll update you and we'll see if I'm right or delusional.

* * *

This morning, I took care of a task I'd been putting off. Our dining room table has chairs on one side, and a bench with storage cubbies under it on the other side. Those cubbies had become, shall we say, full? One bin had old phone books (easy to fix, as the new books came just the other day. Now they have a home.). The middle bin was my stash & dash bin. Newspaper clippings, crossword puzzles, whole newspapers, you get the idea. It's all cleared out. I have a small stack of papers to be filed (tax receipts and the like) and a small stack to keep (articles on places I'd like to go, recipes etc). I was ruthless about that last category. Am I going to make Irish Stew with twenty ingredients? No! So, out it goes.

Friday, August 04, 2006

No New Pictures for a While only three months old digital camera is broken. It just suddenly malfunctioned and will be on its way back to Canon tomorrow. Up until it broke, I had been really happy with it.

Very Frustrated.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Other People's Junk is Easier

Today I helped my friend C clear out some stuff. Man, was it fun! Toss this, donate that, do you really want to save that? She was a good sport about it, and I think she had about six bags to donate and two bags of trash at the end. Turn around is fair play, so she'll get her chance to go at my junk.

I am afraid. Very very afraid.


Wednesday, August 02, 2006

The Flylady was Right (Again!)

The Flylady is a familiar figure to those of us on the Internet interested in: housekeeping, cooking, home organization, clutter control, etc. She's a very sensible person who shares her life lessons with thousands of people.

Well, she has lots of bits of advice, one of which is to give your bathroom a 'swish and a swipe' every day. I don't do that. But, I did have a habit of cleaning the bathroom once a week. It took about 15 minutes, and the bathroom sparkled. My technique is below, for those interested.

Now, it's been over a month since I last cleaned the bathroom. Why? Well, I've been frustrated with the house in general and with myself as well. Frustrated with the dear husband. Sick and tired of all the clutter and junk. So, I didn't do it. The ironic thing is...that bit of cleaning took so little time and made such a difference.

I cleaned the bathroom this evening. It took easily twice as long as it used to, because of the built up grime and gunk.

So, lesson? Trust the Flylady.

(My Bathroom mMethod, adapted from the Flylady: Windex the mirrors, paper towel off, use that towel to clean the sink and faucet, Swiffer the floor-remove stepstool, potty, etc. first, wipe down tub, toilet, windowsill, floor. Finish with a fresh rug, fresh bathmat and fresh handtowel. Spray room scent.)

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

(many) Bags on Their Way OTD (out the door)!

At last count, it was eleven bags (grocery store brown paper bags) full of items for the thrift store. I also have a couple of boxes of magazines, which means I'll take everything to St. Vincent de Paul, because they accept magazines. I did as my friends S and C suggested and went through the bins of ebay items to cull them. No, I didn't go through all of them. Just the ones I could get to. The ones I can't get to are boxed into a closet that has junk piled in front of it and thus can't be properly opened.
Here's why I can't get to the rest of those bins right now:

I freed up two bins, pulling out things that had stains or that just weren't worth selling. I haven't listed any items yet. I'll post with glee when that happens.

Feeling fragile again. It's mentally exhausting going through all this stuff. The basement is almost impassible due to the junk. I can barely get through it without hurting myself on something. I'll take some more pictures.

Here're the full bags:

Monday, July 31, 2006

A Break from Clutter: Two Books You Should Read

I'm on the verge of finishing these two books and I've enjoyed both of them immensely. They're very different, but both focus on the issue of identity: who we are and what is our place in the world.

Baby Steps Make it Easy

Last night, I moved six boxes of books out into the garage. Thanks to last weekend's work, there is plenty of space to use the garage as a staging area. I have more room to work in my Room (i.e. the craft room, the junk room, my personal shame...whatever name floats your boat!), and putting those things in the garage is a stage on the way to saying good-bye to them.

I'll post some pictures later.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

(that witty title just slipped right out of my brain)

One thing I've been trying to do is to pass on things to others. I have, as you know, a lot of stuff. Way too much for one person. Too much, in fact, for a dozen. As I've been culling things, I have consciously tried to identify those things that I could pass onto specific new homes. That is, in addition to or as an alternative to the larger passing on that occurs when I make trips to the Goodwill or other thrift stores.

Today, I gave a knitting book to my friend Z, who is an avid knitter. I had enjoyed reading it (never actually knit any of the patterns, fancy that), and thought she might as well. Turned out she'd been wanting THAT SPECIFIC BOOK for a while! Joy!

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Emotional Check-Up: Part Two

I'm feeling very fragile today. There's a lot going on besides the clutter, but I think the clutter clearing is bringing up emotional energy that affects everything else.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Compulsive Hoarding OCD

My friend C sent me this link. It's a good overview of compulsive hoarding OCD:
"Saving the World"

Husband has occasionally told me "You don't need to be the archivist for the world!"

Books: Magic or Just Chunks of Paper

I love books. I've always loved them, and been surrounded by them. In my house growing up, we had numerous full-size bookcases full of books. My father loved them too. Our interactions involved books; going to the library or bookstore. He'd buy me just about any book I wanted, though he'd often ask me not to finish it too fast! Any psych 101 student could tell me that holding onto my books is holding onto my father.

Here's the rub, see. I could choose to keep all my books (see below for a selection, remembering that I've already culled nine banker's boxes full of them). However, by keeping them all, I would be choosing to keep clutter, dust, old memories. The books aren't my father, I know that. But my little reptile brain may not know it.

Going through the shelves in the past few days, I've found many duplicates, books I haven't read, books I didn't actually like, books I was given that I don't want to keep. Being honest let me fill those boxes up.

I have three more bookcases to go. Once they're culled, I will organize them by subject matter (fiction and non, each sorted by genre or topic). My new rule is: no double stacking. If there are so many books they don't fit, something needs to go.

This shelf, believe it or not, has been culled. Obviously, it needs another pass!

These two shelves are ones I haven't yet gone through. The boxes contain photos.

Another view of one of the shelves I have yet to tackle:

Another shelf yet to be decluttered:

The shelf on the left has been culled; the one on the right belongs to the husband, who hasn't yet tackled books.

You can find piles like these all over my house!

These are the boxes ready to go OTD (out the door, a Flyladyism)

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Tackling the Garage: Part Three

Today while I was out, that husband worked on the garage attic. He swept, shop-vac'd, and moved stuff, leaving this:

He's just left for our third dump run of this leg of the decluttering adventure. Mostly wood, with some recycling and some just plain garbage:

And here's the left bay of the garage. Ready to park a vehicle!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Letting Go: The Ebay dream

I have bins of items that I intend to sell on eBay. Now, I actually have sold items on eBay, so this isn't an impossible dream. But, I don't do it. I can't remember the last time I had items listed for sale. Frankly, I don't like doing it. It's a hassle--you have to take pictures, write descriptions, measure things, weigh them, figure out the shipping cost, and then actually type all that information into the eBay system. Major hassle, especially with small children and cats around.

So, why don't I just give it all away? (no individual item is valuable enough to take it to one of those places that sell your stuff for you, or I would do that). I hesitate because (wait for it...)...all that stuff is worth good money! I can't just give it away! I just need to (insert gung-ho adjective). But I don't, right? So, shouldn't I just let it all go? Free myself of it?

You may ask how much stuff we're talking about here. Let me show you:
This is the main stack of bins:

Smaller stack, with those culled cookbooks on top:

These bins fill a closet. Hard to see how many there are, because they're all silver:

More bins in the closet. These are different from the ones above.

The bag has packing peanuts and other shipping supplies:

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

A Very Special Post: The Wood Stove

Back in 1996 or so, when we bought our house, we had the wood stove insert that was in the fireplace removed. Where did we have it removed to, you may ask? The garage. Why? Because we 'might want it someday'. Yup, really. So, there it sat, for ten years. We made a couple of attempts to sell it (no luck) or give it away (again, no luck). Finally, with this burst of cleaning energy that arrived, it made sense for the wood stove to finally go. The problem? Where to take it. A few moments of thought, and I remembered a place that recycles metal. One quick phone call later, and the wood stove had a new home, provided we deliver it there.

And here's the story. Our driveway is sloped toward the garage. The wood stove was in the far rear of the garage. While I was tackling bookshelves inside and herding the small children, my sweet, ingenious husband decided to tackle the woodstove. First, he somehow moved it onto a dolly. Then, again, SOMEHOW, he hauled it up to the sidewalk, where the slope begins. Then, he put his truck into place at the bottom of the slope and constructed a ramp. My job was supposed to be to drive my car and use it as a brake to keep the dolly'ed wood stove from soaring down the hill. Luckily, the hauling attachment wouldn't fit on my car, and even more luckily, a friend dropped by at just the right time that he got to be the lucky driver. I documented the scene for you, you lucky dogs!

The stove at the top of the driveway slope:

The stove at the base of the ramp:

Now, it's actually on the ramp:

Moving along:

Into the truck:

In the truck!

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Emotional Check-Up

The outdoor changes are easy. The things stored in the garage are mostly either damaged by being stored there or are not my things. There's not a lot of emotional attachment there. It's just relief at seeing broken, useless things carted away. It's a good feelng, a lightness. But also, there's this nagging 'why did I/we wait so long?' Why did we live with this junk for so long? Why was its toxic presence allowed?

My father used to spend Sundays 'working' in our garage. I use quotation marks because really, he just moved things around a little, and more often, added more stuff. Our garage was full. Literally full. The door barely opened--you had to heave on it and force it. Nothing in it was really organized. Boxes and bags, all piled atop each other. Old clothes, books, magazines, furniture, tools & nails, you name it, it was in there. My dad was very protective of it; we kids liked to play in it because there were all sorts of interesting things to be found, but he didn't want us in there without him. Of course, there were practical reasons for that. It was quite dangerous, and there were, let's call them rodents. And spiders. Lots of spiders.

In case you couldn't tell, my dad was a hoarder. He was a young man during the Great Depression, which doubtless affected him. He also had jobs that put him in proximity to a lot of stuff--he worked as a longshoreman and for a salvage company. Really, that's like an alcoholic working in a bar. Or a gambler living on the Las Vegas strip.

Tackling the Garage: Part Two

I'll post some pictures this afternoon, but for now, here's a brief update.

This morning, we got up early (it's horribly, awfully, ickily, stickily hot here), around 7 a.m. to load up the truck. We had to remove the canopy to fit everything in. The destination? The Dump (aka the Transfer Station). The Load? A dryer, a water heater, an old icky couch, three bags of trash, a broken gas grill, an old art project, the blinds that were installed when we moved in (ten years ago, and they've been in the garage for almost that long), misc bits of metal, wood, and other garbage.

What a relief to have all that drive off! The bill was less than $40; why did we wait so long to get rid of all that junk? How much of our time has been wasted by it--moving it, avoiding it, just seeing it taking up space?

We took a break, then moved on to the garage attic, which is full of strange junk left by the previous owners. We found many parts of projects--cut sheetrock, boards, plywood, broken flourescent tubes, a mouse's nest, empty anti-breeze bottles, bits of metal, an old medicine cabinet, cardboard boxes, parts to an old wooden boat, two ancient captain's chairs and I'm sure I'm forgetting something. Oh, we also found a really cute white wood child's twin size bed. All parts are there, and it's in nice shape.

Craig's List came in handy again. We sold our Yakima bicycle car rack (made to fit a car with rain gutters...we haven't owned a car with rain gutters for over ten years). We considered selling a computer desk, but we'd have to put it together to make it look presentable for a photo and it doesn't feel worth it. We'll try donating it, then another trip to the dump if that fails.

Here's the computer desk. The charity *did* take it and even helped unload.

This is the current junk heap--the cardboard is headed for recycling, the foam thingy and bits of wood for the dump on our next dump load.

A view of the garage attic. We've been removing junk that two (possibly more) previous owners accumulated. Once it's cleaned out, it'll hold those empty boxes that you need to hold onto--computer, tv, etc.

Here's the free pile as of early afternoon yesterday. Since then, the fireplace accessory and the pot plants have gone.

The heaviest item to leave the premises!