Imagination exercise revisited

The moving plan I posed on the 13th of last month isn't going quite as planned.

It's not that I don't have boxes lying around... Unfortunately I do. There is a 4 cubic foot assortment of "stuff" that is homeless right now wandering from room to room.

It's crap (I mean precious belongings) that came from my office when it was bad that made its way to the laundry room of doom that then got moved to the family room when the renovations started in there! It got moved back to the office and had to get shuffled back to the laundry room when the office had to be tidy for a meeting... And back to the family room when it was time to hang the ceiling in the LR... It's waiting there now, making the family room too messy to be relaxing.

I'm frustrated by this seemingly endless cycle!

Back to the "moving plan"... Only a few items have left the house since my grand packing idea. Some progress is better than none I suppose. If I think about it in space savings - not much yet.

The goal I've been setting are successful in measurable ways, so I'm not being too tough on myself about the moving exercise slowness. Part of the thing that is hanging me up is the boxes chaos that the packing would cause. Part of it is that work has picked up (yay) to the point of needed a lot of my time. More importantly the pretty, sentimental things that are essentially useless are the things I find the hardest to part with (at least mostly). This has been a good way to handle it though, because I have to really LOOK at each item (pretending to pack it) and re evaluate whether I still feel attached to it or whether the item is something that has blended into the background of it's place in the house.

Whenever my honest reaction leans towards ambivalence I get to expel it! (after taking a picture if there are nice memories associated) Slow and steady. Maybe the "moving" day can just be bumped a while, after all it's not a complete loss as an exercise.


Putting a number on Minimalism

A lot of minimalists like to have number limits on belongings.
Project 333, 100 things challenge, etc. I love these blogs and projects for motivating me, but honestly a number limit doesn't quite work for me. The milder versions have less constraints, but of course even the "you don't need more than 8 of anything" rule feels too restrictive.
Let me explain
I don't need more than 8 shirts..... ? Or is that no more than 8 long sleeved shirts? Or is that no more than 8 long sleeved button up shirts? Where do I draw the line at the classification of each thing? 8 pants? Or 8 jeans, plus 8 cords and 8 pairs of slacks? See the problem?

One thing is for sure, even with 8 of EVERY category, my fashionista sister would never understand any limit but the constraints of how much she can CRAM into her large closet and 3 dressers (and of course the off season closet and the formal wear wardrobe too). 
My preference is a compromise. The limits are not numerical absolutes, and they aren't maximum capacity space constraints either... I figure if I can easily find what I need within the closet (or drawer)and everything in there is what I can wear NOW (the right size, and in good repair and a style I like) then that should be the perfect amount!
With this special density, the one-in-one-out rule is completely necessary. Otherwise things can very quickly slip into an over-crowded chaos.

Just ask my pantry... it is over the comfortable-access-capacity on a regular basis!


Goal #13 The Junk Drawer

Be afraid, be very afraid! The junk drawer is a common fixture for most families. It's the place to find a screwdriver, tape, the spare batteries and everything else that was left on the counter that didn't have a kitchen task to do.

Goal #13 Clean Out the Junk Drawer

Background: I have a confession. There is more than ONE junk drawer in this house. There is the standard kitchen one, one in the living room, one in the diningroom and even one in my office.

Challenge: One drawer at a time, clean out what shouldn't be there and re-assess what should.


Process: With each location, get some materials set out ahead of time. Prepare a large flat surface to sort on, 4 baskets (toss, keep, put away, donate) and cleaning supplies for wiping out the drawer once it's emptied. Next empty the drawer ALL THE WAY EMPTY onto the flat surface. Then take a moment to enjoy the cleared space.... ah, doesn't that feel good? Now you can look at what you were storing in there.... the garbage should be obvious the broken bits and dead batteries (I have them, you do too right?) The stuff that found it's way to the drawer instead of "home" should also be obvious. DON'T GET DISTRACTED HERE: put the items in the "put away" basket for now. Take the time to focus on what's in the "keep" basket. Is it a duplicate? Does it belong in the drawer? Any wires can now be labelled and tied up tidy, a small container might be handy for keeping the screwdriver bits together, etc etc. Now you get to put the "keep" stuff back. You can see if a divider, or small baskets would help out (not until after the purge though). Back to the "put away" basket.... Why was it in the drawer? Is it's home in the right place? Easy to find and there when you need it? Is it a duplicate?

Verdict: It's not called a junk drawer for nothing! I think gremlins are putting weird crap in there. Used napkin in the livingroom drawer anyone? Busted plastic battery cover for a lost toy in the kitchen? On the bright side I found a DVD series that I borrowed last summer that I can now return (how embarassing). The drawers are now easier to open, close and find stuff in -- I love my clean drawers! Of course I know that this challenge needs to be visited regularly and often.


Goal #12: Spring must be coming

The seasonal "sport" of gardening accumulates a lot of stuff, even for a casual participant like me.

Goal #12: Gardening Paraphernalia: Part 1

Background: Because I garden on impulse pretty much exclusively, I have too many impulse purchases tucked away in various areas of the house and yard. A practical aspirational clutter, because I WANT to grow more than I do, but rarely follow through. I'm quite sure I have duplicates, duds and expired stuff in the mix.

Challenge: Keep only the things that work best, that are relevant to my current garden and are still viable.


Process: In part 1 of this challenge, focus on the gardening materials that are kept indoors.
Start by pulling all the gardening things together to really see what there is. Set out a large, easy-clean area to make the inventory... then get searching. That means going into the darkest recesses of the garage, laundryroom, under the sinks, etc. ... you know where you hide this stuff. Ask the tough questions: Is it broken? Why did I buy this? Do I use it? Do I need it? Is this still relevant to the plants I have now? Has it expired?

Verdict: I found duplicates of fertilizer in almost every cupboard. I guess I think I use it more than I really do. I also found seeds that I had bought for my last house (I have lived here for 12 years!) I think if I haven't planted them by now, I won't be -- and that's provided they are even still alive. I know now with certainty where the supplies are and what I have BEFORE the impulse Spring planting season arrives here!


Goal #11 Growing Growing GONE

As kids grow, they out-grow clothes, boots and jackets, mittens, hats, etc... timing is everything.

Goal #11 -  Kid's Clothing

Background: Both kids being boys means that one gets the hand-me downs of the other. That has worked well up until recently when their very different bodyshapes and clothing tastes showed differences that made hand-me-downs not so wonderful.

Challenge: Go through the kid's clothes and reduce the items that don't fit, aren't favourites or are in bad shape. And maybe even set LIMITS to how many of each kind of garment they each own (fit comfortably in the space provided even when everything is clean - or a number limit).


Process: Pull out the clothes that are in current circulation and ask the kids about each piece: Does this still fit? Why don't you wear this? Wear is the match to this sock/glove/PJ set? An enlightening set of questions for some of it!

Verdict: It took a while... a whole weekend with many many interruptions. I won't deny it. There were tears. Apparently the reason why some of these items are in such bad shape is because they are FAVOURITES and not willingly relinquished. I let them keep a couple outfits as "grub" clothes because I have some grub clothes in my closet too for dirty chores.... but with the warning that if I saw them worn to school then they might just lose them! Some things were hard for me to let go- stuff I thought was quite flattering or good quality but they didn't want -- since it will be on their bodies, I let it go.

I'm sure some parent trying to put clothes on their kids will appreciate what I have donated, and the messed over ones have beefed up my husband's rag supply.


Goal #10 Scrub a Dub Duds

How many sweet smelling bodywash gels does one person need?

Goal #10
Reduce perfumes, lotions & soaps

Background: I know I must be hard to buy for, because I get a lot of pretty "spa" sets for gift occassions. While I appreciate the scent-iment, I can't possibly use all of any one set before the next one comes along. Then there is the trouble of the moisturizing lotions... I really prefer an unscented moisturizer.

Challenge: Reduce the lotions, soaps and perfumes to the ones that are most loved and used regularly... and not expired.


Process: Pull everything scented from the livingroom, office, & bathrooms (you never know when the urge to smell pretty may come along) Beware of lotions that have been there for YEARS... if they haven't been used by now, SHOULD THEY BE?!

Verdict: So many pretty smells!  It was hard to get rid of some of these because they were given with love and I genuinely liked the scents. BUT like I said above I prefer an unscented moisturizer.... so I kept one favourite for summer legs and got rid of the rest. I consolodated two half used hair spray bottles to one and binned several scrubs and bubble baths that I haven't reached for in 5 years. The unopened lotions are in the donate box now. So my bathroom drawers are roomier and there are none but my very favourite to reach for now.