Decluttering is a beautiful thing.
The process that liberates the space is like fresh air coming into my lungs!


That thing that isn't supposed to happen keeps happening -- I find myself "missing" things I have purged!

My niece was over playing with my old toys, and I found myself regretting not having my blond Barbie anymore for her to play with -- she is blond, so she likes blond dolls. And my Barbie clothes are VERY limited now. Then again for something that gets played with maybe once a year, it's quite probably enough! In the end she had fun with the Latina one (I kept the Korean, Japanese and Spanish) and still found enough outfits to have a great little plot going.

And I did get my hair cut. SHORT. Short hair needs product, but I'd already decluttered my short hair goos. I now have 1 mousse and 1 light hold hairspray to work with. At first I resented "losing" the stuff, but you know what? I figured it out WITHOUT buying anything new!

Sometimes I find myself looking for a book, trying to find an obscure serving dish or a bagged-out sweater that have already been let go. There is a pang of disappointment, doubt and maybe even regret. But it's just a pang, and I always seem to be able to find away around the lack without serious consequences.

I guess that means I didn't really NEED it after all, right?

I still have a LOOOOONG way to go in this decluttering process. More dragons to slay more hang ups to get over, more crap to wade through before I will truly feel successful at this.  But I am moving forward and every step feels lighter letting me know this is the right path for me.


Goal #9 Variety is not always the spice of Life

Keeping a spice "just in case" seems like a good idea when you love to cook as much as I do, but in truth if the lid hasn't been opened in 5 years, it's probably not worth using even if the perfect recipe presents itself tomorrow!

Goal #9 
Clear out the spice drawer (and cupboards too)

Background: I LOVE cooking! The flavours from around the world excite me... so as a result I have amassed an enviable selection of spices and herbs. There needs to be a time limit to this culinary collection (there are recommended time lines, but I'm too frugal to rotate them THAT often).

Challenge: Time to get realistic about what has expired, and what is not going to be used again. This will leave room to more easily find what is regularly used and what is loved in the spice drawer! Gather all the bottle spices from the spice drawer, bin of spice bags, and economy size spice jars from around the kitchen and purge the ignored, expired and "not my taste" flavours from these locale.


Verdict: Under 1/2 hour of time to do.... and now the spice drawer is so much easier to use! And the overflow to other cupboards is no longer a problem! 7 glass bottles, 4 small plastic shakers, 2 ziploc bags and a large jar (consolidated down to a small bottle) of spices/herbs removed from my kitchen.

Process: The kitchen smelled amazing as I dumped the old spices and herbs to recycle the glass bottles. I sneezed, and maybe even felt a little regret at "wasting" this resources.... but truthfully it was a long overdue chore.


Goal #8 Sewing Notions

I haven't dragged my sewing machine out in years... I still want to use it someday, so it's not going anywhere, but what about all the bits and bobs that are in that sewing box?

Goal #8
Donate all outdated materials that aren't being useful RIGHT NOW and can be easily replaced when I take up sewing again.

Background: I really enjoyed sewing. Oddly, I did it a lot more before I had kids. I inherited a large quantity of fabrics, laces and bindings from the various elders in my family... and what do you know.... I don't use them!

Challenge: Be realistic about what I will use. If I haven't found a need for it in this last decade, why do I still think I may need it someday? Donate the excess now and enjoy the space it frees up!


Verdict: Better than expected! I gave a box of great-granny's laces and bindings to a niece that loves making small figures (she loved it). I also gave her a jar of buttons and most of my threads and ribbons.

Process: All of these things were already together so it wasn't a hard challenge. 15 minutes from dusting off and opening the bin to closing it back up again. It was easy once the decision was made... I did feel a little catch in my throat when I came upon my grandma's hand-crocheted lace. I kept that. Just one roll. It's just too pretty and sentimental (and not replaceable).


Imagination Exercise

Since my sister won't "rob" me like I was hoping, I have to find a new way to shake up this blind addiction to my everyday stuff. 

A kind of shock therapy could be helpful.

How about pretending I am moving?

Even better, pretending I am DOWNSIZING!

Or I could get crazy here and pretend I am downsizing and moving to a different continent! ooooh.... that may be a better challenge farther down the road... for now I will stick to the idea of just moving.

Moving means sorting, purging, prioritizing and really weighing if something is worth the time and effort of taking it along.... sounds like a great decluttering exercise!

I am no stranger to moving. At last count I have called 48 locations "home" in my lifetime (and I've lived in this house for nearly 12 years!), my parents did not live together and they both had the itch to move very regularly - hence the stupidly high number. Those itchy feet have passed down to me and the only things that have stopped me from continuing the trend forever was: A) Money and B) My Husband (and kids). I have "settled" here in that the offers on the other houses have fallen through over the years one way or another and we aren't desperate to take a hit to leave this place. Our house is pretty good actually. Cheap enough to maintain small enough that it can be maintained and has evolved over the years to accommodate our changing needs. The location is on the edge of rural enough for my country-boy-husband while central enough for work-at-home me -- and the school only a short walk away has been a unifying part of my kids' academic and social life so far.

Moving involves a pulling-out of EVERYTHING. Every single item needs to be prioritised as it is packed: occassionally used stuff gets packed first, decorative items and other non-essentials go into boxes next, then the everyday items need to be weighed as to how badly they will be missed when they are packed... until finally you are down to the bare minimum that fits in one tote for the morning of the move. It's an exhilarating process! (or is that just me?)

Then there are the dregs .... Everything that is trash or unloved or isn't important enough to come-with  -- in short everything you don't want to pack -- is either tossed or sold.... or if you are a lazy mover, hucked into a miscellaneous box to be sorted (and loathed) on the other side.

If this mindul, evaluative, methodical process can be used on each room of my current house, I will surely end up with less than I have now and really know what it is that I have chosen to move on with. If while taking this action, I pretend to be moving into a home with LESS STORAGE it will be even better!

So many of the places I have thought to live in over the years actually do have less storage than this place... this house really has obscene amounts of shelving for a home this size! It may open up new opportunities to have less storable crap. More opportunities, and less stuff, that sounds good to me.

Let's pretend....

Parameters: It's conceivable that a future house could easily be 100 sqft smaller with 1 less kitchen cupboard, 1/2 the pantry, and a storage space a fraction of the size we have now!

Timeframe: 8 weeks is realistic. Countdown to April 9th as the theoretical moving day!


My boys are growing

As the kids grow there are eras that are outgrown. The ample amounts of baby gear and strollers have long since been passed down to neighbours and friends. In the past are the chunky primary coloured toddler toys and sandbox gear. Replaced with tiny bits of lego, hotwheels, skateboards, bikes and electronic gadgets. Now that they are older, they make many of their own decisions regarding toys.

Let it be said here... older brother is not very good at passing down his toys... even if he doesn't want them anymore, he doesn't like "giving" them to his brother. It's been a stress-point since the beginning. I try not to get in the middle of the battles, but I do have to mediate from time to time to keep either from collecting too much broken or worn out items or paying too much or trying to take back items after a deal has been reached, etc etc... and I will sometimes pre-empt the transaction by selling or donating the item to prevent younger from having too much (failing miserably with that BTW).

Up until very recently, I have kept my older boy's clothing after he's outgrown to be hand-me-down to the younger (elastic waist bands are forgiving for different shapes) it takes between 2-4 years depending on the timing of their growth spurts. There is a place in the storage closet for these things and totes marked and rotated.

Suddenly a new era has appeared.

Young boy is heftier than the slim older one... and there aren't a lot of adjustable waist bands on the pre-teen sizing. Not much CAN be passed down I realised last size switch. Out of 12 pairs of pants he could only wear 5! The rest went to charity after storing for so long... kind of annoying really.

Here is the dilemma... do I keep the totes for the years in between ages "just in case" the clothes will fit and be appealing to the younger one? Or do I let the skinny jeans go now and just accept that more money will be spent when the time comes for the younger to need new pants?


Goal #7 Cables and Cords

Got a Gadget? It most likely comes with a cable or 2....

Goal #7
Reduce, organize the cables/cords to what is used/needed.

Background: Adapters, charges, connectors all over the place....my junk drawer is full of them.... what are they all for anyways?!

Challenge: Find the gadget that the cable/cord goes to and label the cord. Edit duplicates and redundant items.


Verdict: Mixed results. There were some charger cables that I just had no clue what they went to (and I'm afraid to throw them out in case the thingy show up needing a charge! BUT I did find a handful of USB cables that were identical, so I picked 3 favourites of varying lengths (one for each computer) for the many items they can be used with and donated the rest.

Process: Junk Drawer, office drawer, laundry room bin, bedroom side table, coffee table drawer... they all had cables! I pulled them all into one place and sorted the redundant from the good. (I really don't think I need 75 ft of phone cables anymore with all the cordless phones in the house). With the wireless router working so reliably these days, 4 different ethernet wires are redundant now too. Unfortunately it was a huge challenge finding the gadgets to go with the charger cables. The ones I found, I did label. the ones I did not find are now living in a clear plastic shoe box in my storage space. I'm not sure this goal is "done" exactly. But so far, it's taken a couple hours.... yes I'm that disorganized and had that many cables!


Snapshots of L E S S

Here are some pictures of recently released items... (I must make a habit of taking pictures more often.)


Goal #6 Pretty Little Things

All that glitters is not gold. Earrings, bracelets, necklaces, broaches, watches, hair accessories all have a way of coming into the home but never leaving (they don't take up much room). I think NOW is the time to admit that some of these pretty things have overstayed their usefulness (or fashion era!).

Goal #6
Keep only the Beauty Accessories that are flattering, that I love or have real sentimental value.

Background: I don't really have a problem in this area.... or at least I didn't think I did until I dragged it all out onto my bed! Little boxes and baskets housed an amazing quantity of sparkly bits!
Challenge: Be ruthless! Cull all jewelry down to the most beloved. Cull all but the best quality hair accessories. Bin the broken, soiled or odds, bag the rest for charitable thrift donation.


Verdict: From 6 bins and baskets down to one jewelry box (and a small hair accessories basket) in less than an hour. I now know where every piece is, and I know every bit works properly)

Process: Put each box, basket and bin onto my bed in front of the full length mirror. Got a big tray out for safe sorting. Asked the questions of each item: Does this work the way it's supposed to? Do I have all the pieces? Do I still like it (this is where the mirror comes in handy)? Is it comfortable to wear? Does it have any cash value (I don't have much in the way of "real" jewelry so not much fits this category for me)? Some choices were really easy.... bold patterned scrunchies?! broken earrings?!

BONUS! During this cull process, many empty baskets and pretty boxes presented themsleves. Some I repurposed (replacing uglier ones) and left overs went off to my favorite thrift shop as donations. Not an easy thing for me to do... I find small storage boxes almost as appealling as what in them.