Imagination exercise

New development!

We put an offer on another house - for real!

It's a great floor plan with a nice yard and a shop... but of course with all those perks there are compromises... Specifically the house hasn't seen paint or decor since 1984 and has been smoked in all that time. (can you say "stinky"?). I think they may have been trying to reduce the overwhelming nicotine smell when they ripped out the carpets in most of the rooms... but it just left it looking shabby and still smelly.

The other compromise is the location. It's not terrible, it is still our preferred neighborhood and backs onto a park but the road is noisy-busy. (We really thought we wouldn't move unless it was to a rural spot. The thing is rural with a decent house and shop is WAAAAAAY over budget for us.)

So the imagination exercise is back! I will be decluttering to list our house immediately and preparing to move (if our offer is accepted of course). I will be trying to actually purge the extra stuff intead of storing it. Not sure if that's possible with the personal stuff (family pictures for example), but I'll try.

Even if the deal falls through (and they do tend to do that with us), I want to make the house list-ready as an exercise in clutter-discipline. It's so easy to get complacent with clutter and let the "lived-in" look expand into the "can't have anyone over because it's messy" look.

I have to face facts, though my home is cozy and can be pretty, our family hobbies are not suited to a steep driveway, in-house garage or loads of stairs. The hobbies look like they are hear to stay (and that's wonderful) so it's not an unreasonable thing to want a property that can make the hobbies easier. Not to mention all the stairs are brutal on my mother-in-law (her M.S. has her subjected to being CARRIED up the stairs when she wants to visit us). A rancher would be much more friendly to her as well as us.

Of course I am scared of the work of moving, change is never easy. It will strain my husband terribly (he is very sensitive to change more than most) and it's not a move-in ready house so the short term (if the deal goes through) will be costly and difficult. But I wouldn't risk all this upheaval on a whim. I truly think the other property could suit us into old age like it did with the previous owner.... if we can live with the road noise.

Wish us luck!!!!

PS the house is no bigger than the one we have now, but it has less rooms so each room is bigger, I think that will be nice (if the deal goes through)


Goal #18 Fashion Slave

Process: Pull everything out of the closet and pack away Winter favourites, and bring out the Spring hopefuls. A great time to cull the worn out, out of fashion, wrong size, and the pieces that were ignored to be donated to charity or turned to rags.

Goal #18: Put away heavy winter clothes for the season

I was really into it this time, and ruthless about both the winter stuff I chose to store AND about the spring stuff I put back into circulation. Honesty is such a help when doing this chore. Super comfy, sure, but yikes it's faded (rags). So very very cute but I didn't wear it all season (donate). It used to fit very nicely, but is getting unflatteringly snug (this is where honesty hurts the most - donate so I don't feel guilty about it anymore).

Verdict: Over fifteen articles of clothing outta here! So easy!

With all the recent purge items I was able to fill the trunk and head to the charity thrift shop. They were happy and I can't change my mind about any of it. Win Win.


Goal #17 Making my Bed

Time to tackle to bedspreads.

There was a time when I needed more bedspreads, sheets and pillowcases (and mattress protectors too). But that phase is thankfully behind us in this household, so it is time to see what can go!

The beds look best with clean, simple coverings: these rooms aren't big enough to pull off the luxury look of layers and tonnes of pillows.

GOAL #17 per Bed: 1 lightweight cover for Summer, 1 fluffy, warm one for Winter plus two sheet sets per bed is more than enough really (even when we have company).

Starting Point:
6 Twin fitted sheets
4 Twin flat sheets
6 Twin Comforters/blankets
8 Pillows
17 Pillowcases
3 Queen sheet sets (flat, fitted and 2 pillowcases)
5 Decorative Throw Pillows
1 Queen Feather Duvet
1 Queen Duvet Cover
4 Queen Bedspreads
9 Throw blankets (for couches)

Less is Better: Now....
I kept the best quality ones to meet the goal.

4 Twin fitted sheets (-2)
2 Twin flat sheets (-2)
4 Twin Comforters/blankets (-2)
6 Pillows (-2)
8 Pillowcases (-7)
2 Queen sheet sets (-1)
3 Decorative Throw Pillows (-2)
1 Queen Feather Duvet
1 Queen Duvet Cover
2 Queen Bedspreads (-2)
6 Throw blankets (for couches) (-3)


Don't Need It - Don't Want It

When we listed our house last summer, I decluttered, depersonalized and freshened up some paint, etc... Lots of things were tucked into my sister's garage only to come home again after the listing ended and we decided to stay put at least until the next house catches my attention ( LOL).

Part of the process included unplugging the small wall hanging TV in our bedroom so the ugly cables wouldn't be dangling.

The thing is we haven't found a reason to plug it back in -- since LAST SUMMER!

With my husband going to bed so early we NEVER get a chance to watch TV in bed.

It's not pretty and it's proven unneeded so why is it hanging around? Literally hanging around on the wall by my bed? I think I will give it to my sister (though I don't think she watches TV from bed either....?

One thing is it is attached to a VCR to DVD recorder and we still have loads of VHS family videos to put onto DVD before we get rid of that machine. Maybe I can get my talented husband to hook it into the entertainment system downstairs or something.... BTW we still have the video camera that records onto those half-sized VCR tapes! I suppose that should be culled too.

At least I recognize that these gadgets aren't adding anything to my life right now. And knowing is the first step to getting them out of my life for good.


Dig dig dig dig dig

Figuratively and literally today!

The weather was spectacular all day. I celebrated by turning over my little garden plot. Dig dig dig.

Also, I opened all the windows and doors and gave the house a much-needed airing out.

Unfortunately I burned something very very badly in the kitchen last night (damn you laundry distraction!). Even after freezing us with all the windows open until bedtime, fans running full blast, scrubbing the stove top, washing the range hood screens, even taking apart the fan to clean -- even after ALL THAT WORK the inside of the cupboards even stink like smoke. I am genuinely afraid I may need to paint to seal in that burnt stench. I'll give it a few more days or even weeks (I am so glad spring is here so there is better air flow through the place).

Back to the digging.

While waiting for the "eco" shower cleaner to sink in, I pulled out everything in the linen closet and put it back in an orderly way (I love doing this BTW) and took a small pile of rags to my husband's rag bin in the garage (made him happy). A good warm up for decluttering!

Then I called my youngest into his room and told him he had to make sense of his catastrophe of a room. This didn't come out of the blue, even he has been complaining that it's too messy lately, so today was the day.

I sat with him in the middle of his room and picked up each thing to ask where it SHOULD go (not where does it FIT- that's how it got so disorganized in the first place). I know each category of toy has it's own bin.... lego, hotwheels, models, stuffies, even a miscellaneous doomahicky bin... so I got him to get out the bins so that he could easily toss each thing into the best bin for finding it next time he wants it! Revolutionary concept, I know!

At the end of it all, we found a few items that he decided weren't "worth" finding a home for, so off they went to the charity shop box. And there was a grocery bag of broken bits and paper scraps to get rid of too! Wow. Does his room ever look better now, and it didn't take nearly as long as it could have.

I felt so inspired by that success that I visited my dining linen and sorted, purged, and neatly put away in a logical order the table clothes, placemats and napkins. (I host the big family dinners, so these things are used at least 4 times a year.). In the process I found 8 placemats I no longer find "my style" and some cloth napkins that don't really go with my favourite placemats. ta-da! 20 less things in the drawers!


It happened again. The shower curtain was getting a bit stiff (and maybe whiffy too?) so I went to hang up the "spare" shower curtain to put the primary one in the wash basket... but I couldn't find the back-up! Where could it be? I looked in all the logical places. And didn't find it. I must have purged it already. And guess what? The world did not end! After the initial twinge of disapointment at the inconvenience of not having the spare.... I simply washed the primary one right away with a load of other stuff (there is ALWAYS other stuff with an active family of 4). Voila! clean shower curtain no fuss, and no chance for procrastination!!!!


Goal #15 Pantry Accounting

It's good to visit the pantry regularly to take stock, and check rotation to keep on top of expiry dates.

Goal #15 KNOW what's in my pantry right now!

Game plan: Take all the dry goods out of the pantry. Sort from oldest to newest of like items, make a note of anything that is running low and put it away with the most urgently dated items at the front!

Verdict: This is an exercise that always makes me feel very wealthy and secure! In about one hour --while waiting for a reply email -- it was all done. Now I know what I currently have ample amounts of, and what I still haven't touched from my last pantry audit (and therefore leave off future shopping lists!)


Goal #16 Framed

This goal is a bit different.

Residue from when we listed our house briefy last year... a few boxes of "personal" decor that were removed to neutralize the house for showings. Of those boxes, the hardest one to deal with after the house was un-listed is the one with framed family phots. They are great photos in carefully selected frames.

BUT the problem is I like my walls better with    l e s s    on them... and therefore putting the photos back up would be clutter.

What could the solution be?

I love the photos - they make me happy and connected to family that has passed, and my boy's younger cute-ness.

I am seriously concidering taking the pictures out of the frames, scanning them and putting the originals in a plain photo album. The idea makes me sad that they won't be displayed, but less sad than the idea of putting the pictures back up. Is that crazy?

So my goal is to find a respectful and wonderful way to honor the pictures in a place I can visit often enough (like when they were on the wall). I can't put them back up, I like the space better clearer.

Any ideas would be appreciated.

(PS a digital frame is not an option because I loathe cables dangling down the wall)


Clutter Creep

I had an opportunity to do something different with my life the last couple weeks, and with hesitation I went for it. The result was that I was working away from my desk (and even away from my town) for 3 days and coming home in the evening.

You would think with no one home for all day the house couldn't possibly get messy, right?


Somehow only having time to cook, eat, do dishes and prepare for the next day made the little messes that the family makes in the evening accumulate. Clutter had creeped onto every surface and into every nook. Lego, remote controls, homeworks sheets, half folded laundry, computer accesories, novels, etc, etc... the result was chaos that looked like a grittier version of the after Christmas morning mess. And in every room of the house too!

Thankfully I was able to spend the morning tidying. Then the afternoon cleaning. Hubby worked on the yard.... a winter of neglect had to be acknowledged out there.

It was an eye-opening experience. Apparently I do more tidying throughout the day than I give myself credit for!

The adventure that was my out of town contract is over for now, but apparently I did a good job and they do want me back... and that's good, because now I will be better prepared.


Goal #14 Paper Monster

One thing that fills me with dread is the thought of throwing away papers that I am supposed to keep. And likewise keeping too many papers for too long can be a real threat to my clutter anxiety.That is where GOAL #14 comes from... slaying the dreaded paper monster one sheet at a time!

Step one: Pull out the giant box of "old papers" to a place that I may actually feel good about sitting for an hour or so.

Step two: Pull the papershredder and recycling pags to the same place.

Step three: decide on what year will be my cut off for bank statements, bills, etc. And decide what items I will want to keep no matter what year thery were from (employment letters, receipts for cars I still have, etc)

Step four: pour myself a tall glass of water and grab a snack, then DIVE IN!

Verdict: I made the cut-off 10 years for most of it (I'm sure any time before that nobody cares about but me.) The still relevant stuff from before then (house improvements, car repairs, major life events) went into a special envelope called "PRE-2002". Some papers were so boring that they could be tossed right into recycling without any identity compromises, but MOST of it needs to be shredded. That hungry machine worked hard for me today and the kids had fun feeding it! I ended up with a FULL bag one of (those large clear ones) of shred that will go to the curb with my next recycling pick up day.

My ugly box of "old papers" was practically empty, so I moved some papers from my file cabinet to the box... then I actually put it away before it languished in my livingroom for too long! (Huge step for me!)

My mom says she keeps envelopes that say "SHRED AFTER XX-XX-20XX" so that she doesn't even have to sort later. I may adopt that technique.