The shirts off my back

ELEVEN less shirts taking up space in my life.

Don't fit right - out!

Don't feel comfy - out!

Don't look good - out!



Now that the hubbub of Christmas is over, the putting away has begun.  I hope you had a good day - I did!

As The beloved Christmas decor items are dusted and wrapped, a great opportunity comes up to critique each item....

- Do I still love this? Or is it being put out from habit?

- Is this still in good shape? Or am I just remembering what it was in its glory days? If it needs TLC, do I still love it enough to fix it properly - right now?

- Is it something that someone I know would love it more? Maybe it should be passed on to them.

- Do I have more decorations than are really needed or wanted? Don't be afraid to be choosy, picky and snobby about what is on display!

I found some outdoor ribbons that are getting tatty after this windy season.  And I pared down some homemade ornaments that the kids weren't all that attached to anymore. I passed on a holiday movie and some Christmas books that the kids have outgrown too.

The other opportunity is when
bringing back the regular home decor items that were displaced by Christmas. How many are going to be put back out?! The same questions will be asked of these things as the Christmas things.


The Big Picture - Taking Control

In this day and age of western wealth and choices I am blessed to find that there are many areas of life that I am ultimately accountable for…

  • my physical fitness
  • my financial health
  • my home's presentation
  • my business activity/career choices
  • my relationships with friends and family
  • my body's intake of nutrients
  • my family values (and how I present them to the children)

In all these areas I can either LET things happen and live with the consequences or I can take control and really participate in the process to best control the outcome. Sometimes crap happens that is beyond our control (though an amazing amount of bad luck is avoidable with careful forethought). When the doodoo does hit the fan, how the crappy new realities are dealt with is also within our control.

Sometimes things are in conflict… but even with compromises, the most important values can all be met to a decent degree - with conscious effort.

One secret to forming good habits is making the desirable habit more comfortable to do than the undesirable habit. It's a trick that has worked well for my time parenting and for my own growth, though sometimes it is extremely difficult to figure out. (One example that comes to mind was forming the habit of eating dinner together at the table. As dinner is made ready, I turn off all the lights everywhere in the house except the kitchen. It makes the kitchen the most comfortable place to be at dinnertime, and wow it works! )

The other good habit trick is thinking about how the action will affect the future… will eating this (X) make me feel like crap later? …will saying (X) hurt or help the situation? …will buying (X) make daily life easier or harder? It's amazing how thinking ahead can curb regrets!

Over the years, family and finances have come the easiest. Avoiding the pain of debt is far more important to me than updating my wardrobe seasonally or buying sparkly trinkets on credit. Debt is worth the pain when it comes to the roof over our heads though…. through patience and careful timing, our climb up the real estate ladder thus far has been successful by only counting on one income when deciding what we could afford (that sure annoys the bank when your comfort zone is a fraction of the qualifying amount!). Not buying more house than we could afford to maintain was a saving factor a few times too! Crap happens, and it did more than once, so having a small mortgage and no consumer debt kept our heads above water (barely). Enough close calls have really put a point on how my sanity is connected to my financial security, therefore like a squirrel, I try to stash away in times of plenty for the inevitable lean seasons. (The only barrier to that is my husband really feels squeezed so we do have to relax a BIT so he doesn't feel like he works so hard just to survive. )

Sacrifices for family happen every day…. sacrifices that are easy because the results are so rewarding and long lasting. The return on investment for working part time from home so I can be here for the family is really excellent. The money is NOT the important part of that equation for this family. And as long as we can do it, I will be here keeping house.

Housework…. LOL not my easiest priority to say the least. I love a clean house, but I am uncomfortable in a "sterile" house.  It's an emotional stumbling block that I am working on in my journey towards LOVING LESS. I have uncovered some demons over the years that I have associated with "stuff" and the amount of it. Honestly my progress in this area has been monumental over the last few years, but there is still quite a ways and I occasionally slip. Having a neat freak husband is an excellent motivator since I truly would like him to be comfortable at home (he never knows from one day to the next what state of disarray the house will be in when he gets home from work). One thing though… He does know that 99% of the time there will be a home cooked meal for dinner. Other than occasionally feeling burned out trying to figure out WHAT is for dinner, I do enjoy cooking and making a varied menu. No picky eaters would survive in this house! Grocery shopping is by far my favourite kind of shopping, and I can get adventurous in the kitchen.

And to further that thought of food and housekeeping, I am taking gardening more seriously than ever. I have finally found my green thumb (at least it isn't BLACK anymore). There is something wonderful about eating something that you have coaxed from the soil with your own hands. Research is now saying that people that work in the garden live longer and healthier. Fresh air? Micronutrients? Maybe the "peck of dirt" thing that my grandpa used to say is true? (After all he lived to 94 and had his full brain function right up to the end, and he was a professional gardener and grew all his own veggies right up into his late 80s.) In Grandpa's honour I grow tomatoes and try to remember the many tips that he tried to share (before I was interested in growing things). We also have 6 adopted chickens, more for entertainment than anything else… they are characters! They provide us a small amount of fresh eggs and fertilizer and pest control and soil aeration too when I let them into the backyard. Sure they are dusty and a bit stinky, but they are so darned cute! Well worth the cost and effort in my opinion. With a bigger commitment, I could really ramp up the food production to develop from a novel experience to real sustenance, but I'm not sure I have it in me to put that many more hours into it.

But I really should.

My health is not that great right now. It's not dire or anything, but I have a feeling that it could be if I ignore it much longer. 40 years of eating what I want when I want is having some consequences on my body. Thankfully "what I want" is mostly good and not too much and "when I want" hasn't been too frequently. It's just that the last 10 years or so I have gotten in the bad habit of eating irregularly and then eating convenient foods instead of the foods I really want.  Lets face it good food (aka REAL food) is more expensive than the crap food-like products that are everywhere these days, so I have been being too miserly for my own good when it comes to nutrition. I am guilt of saving the "good stuff" for the kids and just eating whats left… surely I'm not the only mom that does that?

In the last year and a half in particular, bad things have been a-brewing. If I was a wise woman I would give up all things sugar and processed like my dear friend that has rediscovered energy, good health and freedom from the many inflammatory responses her body was giving her. After all, I know I have inflammatory problems too…. increased belly bloat, joint pain, nerves misfiring in my feet, weight gain, brain fog, chronic minor sinus congestion, among other less definable issues that weren't there when I was young and invincible.

REAL food is a necessity - I understand that. I just have to really live it too, for me and my whole family!

And then there is exercise. I love sauntering to the school in the morning the weekend nature walks and  dancing in the kitchen every time a fun song comes on the radio, but that isn't nearly enough. My stamina is disgraceful, I am not strong AT ALL and my expanding waistline is telling me in no uncertain terms that my caloric intake exceeds my output.

And here it comes down to accountability. When did "convenience" overtake "health" in my priorities?!

  • I do have the TIME to take care of myself (after all if I don't have time to stay healthy, then when am I going to find the time to be sick?!)
  • I am not so financially strapped that I have to eat poorly or stay sedentary (walks are free, dancing at home is free, borrowing exercise videos from the library is free too, gardening more costs some but the returns are both exercise AND nutrition!)
  • I do have real food selection options at the store that I can take advantage of

In a nutshell… it has been 100% my fault that I have formed these bad habits and let myself be seduced by sweet-salty-fatty-fake combinations even a little bit. And even worse, I have let my sons get seduced too!!!!! Unforgivable!

Moving forward.

I have a juicer, and I love fruits and vegetables.
I have a dehydrator and I love kale chips
I have garden space and enough time to use it more effectively
I have a dog that would love LONGER walks MORE OFTEN
I don't have to watch so much TV
I don't have to surf the web so much either….
I could do more housework (happy husband, self satisfaction, more exercise)

No time like the present. With Christmas almost here, it is a sensible time to create good will towards my family's health. I want to be able to enjoy many holidays to come with my family: healthy, pain free and bright.

So as I work on my home - decluttering and consuming less stuff - I want to work on taking my body seriously as well, and my family's nutrition too. Garbage in - Garbage out, right?


The more I look, the more I find

Things from the kitchen, the bathroom, the hall, the laundry room, the shelves, and the office!
PLUS a decent sized bag of boys clothes that are outgrown.

MOST of it is going to charity, and the building set is going to a friend with young boys that has asked for all the building kits that my boys will part with.


pressure to go on

The wall.

Runners know it… that point where continuing on seems impossible. When the muscles rebel, and vision gets distorted, the point that stopping feels inevitable.

That's where I am with the decluttering today. It seems hopeless, all this stuff just keeps coming in and smothering my efforts for a tidy home. AND CHRISTMAS IS COMING!

I'm praying that, like the runner's wall, if I just push a little further it will all come together in the euphoria called the "second wind".

Today's strategy is looking at a place in the house that isn't what I want and setting a 15 minute timer to see what can be done. After all, 15 minutes is not a huge investment. With a finite time, I should be able to press some urgency into the decisions and not sweat the small stuff.


Once those questions are answered as quickly as possible, a quick sort is needed.

  • Keep? if yes, where is it supposed to fit? if no… go to next option.
  • Sell? if yes, do I have time to list it? if no… go to next option...
  • Donate? put it in the box! Take the box to the trunk of the car for the next outing.
  • Gift? for whom? ask the person if they want it right away. Set a time limit.
  • Toss/recycle? Get it out now!


more more more!

The once loved DS is neglected now that the app-machine is here. So I offered to sell the DS for my son. YES! It sold within a week of posting it as a lot with the charger and a few games and the cool guitar case.

ALSO, I went through the cold-weather things and had the boys choose what they wanted.

AND I went through my kitchen and got rid of some bulky "convenience" items that are more annoying to clean than they are worth.

AND I went through my boots and selected a couple pairs that never seems to have the right occasion  to wear

AND I revisited the cables and wires bin and pared that in HALF (with my husband's help) only keeping the best quality version of each kind of cable.

2 large boxes and one grocery bag of good quality charity donations and some spending money for my son.
Happy day!


Self Awareness

My packrat tendencies have been tolerated by my loving husband since we started dating more than 2 decades ago. At some points he was almost buried in his wife's hobbies and compulsive clutter. He patiently has supported me through all my "phases" with my stuff even when it made him miserable.

So here I am formally saying "thank you" to my husband, my rock, my steadfast man for being there even when it was uncomfortable for him.

I am at a clearer place now, I can see what the "stuff" does to his wellbeing. In fact it now does that to my wellbeing too.

Last night, in a quiet moment alone with him, I apologized for being so messy all these years. He was curious as to why that would suddenly come up (I had no reason) and said I was much tidier now than I've ever been.

So he has noticed! That's great news!

There are still times when I feel behind on fixing my messes, but I really am better. I feel lighter, safer, overall more content than I ever have.

THANK YOU to all the simplifying bloggers out there for motivating me, keeping me focussed and showing me how it's possible. Everyday is getting better.



Victory over the tyranny of excess happens by winning tiny battles.
My husband took a load to the recycling centre, including an ancient skill saw and some odd construction materials.
My own victories include more clothes and books and the following items from around the house....
Diningroom:"dated" tablecloths, bun basket and the less-chosen small teapot.
Kitchen: A fancy swiss potato ricer, some toddler-friendly eating things, cheese slicer, and other oddities

Bathroom: Not my colours.

Every box that goes fills me with a pleasant lightness!


Season's Change

It's officially Autumn! My favourite season for walks in the woods and organizing house in preparation for cold weather.

I went under my house last weekend when there was a break in the weather and dragged up the bins of autumn clothes (the bulky, hard-core winter stuff can stay down there a while longer).

Tuck away the flip flops and filmy summer frocks until next year...

Out come the cozy sweaters, and cord slacks --- how I love to bring them back into regular rotation! It's like getting them new all over again and brings me a feeling of abundance. (I thought about keeping every season's clothes in the regular closets all year, but the thought of giving up the magical change-over is not appealing to me.)

Also, the hand-me-downs bin came out and my youngest son tried on all the stuff that his brother outgrew (4 years age difference). Suffice it to say they are VERY different body shapes and many outfits simply don't fit in any direction (too long and narrow for my husky youngest)

It is sad to give away perfectly good jeans and pants, but at the same time, it felt GREAT giving a very large box of perfectly decent pants to my sister for her very slim son. She won't have to buy pants for him for at least 2 (maybe even 4) years! (NO PHOTO, but it was an impressive amount). Enough pants did fit that I don't have to go shopping and he won't be naked either!

Other items removed from the home this week:

Ancient, heavy, chop saw (now for sale):
 Theme lego (sold in a day)
Box of shoes, toys and clothes that no one uses (to charity)

and some miscellaneous house hardware that didn't get used in the renovation went to the habitat for humanity store.


A Matter of Maintenance

Days "off" when you take a staycation..... not exactly relaxing, when the mission is to declutter, but certainly rejuvenating when the days are filled with crossing things off the to do list that have languished too long.

This was the week to sort the crawlspace, clean out the detritus in one of the sheds, and thoroughly weed the overgrown summer gardens. Rain or no rain, it had to be done.

With labour day behind us, I packed the hottest weather clothes away - liberating tonnes of space in my closet, (its still too early to bring out the cold weather clothes). I am enjoying the roomy closet, even though it's temporary.

Another victory: We took obsolete electronics to the electronics recycler.... that 10 year old computer tower, a satellite dish and 2 receivers (it was an awesome system at the other house, but this place can't get a signal)

Also prone to obsolescence: Toys!
As the kids grow, their toys change. Keeping on top of the pruning process is a must in this age of excess. The kids get spoiled every year with a glut of toys thanks to family and friends, cheap toy opportunities, birthdays and gift giving holidays. Over the years the baby toys have had their phases... baby toys, preschool toys, learning toys, young kids toys, and soft stuffed animals. Now the more complicated kits and collections are slowly being weeded out. This weekend I found 2 large boxes of forgotten toys in the crawlspace and had the pleasure of donating them without any complaints.

The secret to having them agree to let go? There is more than one way to do it.
  • Tough-love Technique: Telling them that if they can't put it away, then it must not be very important to them. Sometimes they simply have too many toys to put them all the way. If there is no home for the toy, I encourage the kids to get rid of less-loved things to make space. It can lead to tears, but it's necessary in a finite world.
  • Spacial Awareness Technique: Telling them they need to get rid of the old to make room for the new (good before birthdays and holidays). If they get rid of a lot, they obviouusly have high hopes for the incoming haul! LOL
  • Charitable Heart Technique: I plead that they don't play with it anymore, but it is still so great, wouldn't it be nice if it could be passed on to another lucky kid now while it's still nice? (that last one works every time on my youngest generous son). Lovingly pack the items off to charity.
  • Enterprising Technique: Offering to post toys online for sale and they can keep the money (good for the toys that are always popular and still in good shape). They learn the issue of depreciation, and that if the toys are broken or missing parts that they are useless.... leading to the last point...
  • Take Care of It OR ELSE! Technique: If it's broken or I find it's pieces all over the house I retain the right to toss it, no matter how much it's "loved".

What is lurking in your crawlspace/attic or storage that is obsolete? Decluttering once is not enough. Regular maintenance is necessary in the age of upgrades.


Say goodbye

A couple outfits and purse and a cuddly lamb... all found in my closet.. all completely ignored this season (too long ignored - out the door)
My sis (always helpful) says these items look "hideous" and had to go...

A 10 year old computer (though it was top of the line in it's day) now even the young kids don't want to play on it anymore. I have removed (and mangled) the hard drives, the rest is going to the electronics recycling centre next time I am out that way. The mouse and small monitor will be getting a second life on another computer.



The refrigerator.

In a home of food and cooking, the fridge is a "hot spot" of activity and mostly overflowing with the perishables and condiments of everyday cooking. And often this most used appliance can become a black hole of forgotten items.

Today was the day I mucked it out.

Consolidating multiples of sauces, tossing the expired salad dressings (why do I even buy them, they always expire before I even get 1/3 through them no matter how small the bottle), and washing the shelves and bins. Happily, thanks to more conscious shopping efforts, there has been little waste in the way of veggies (I wish there was never any waste of food, a goal I keep striving for).

It looks so much sparklier in there, and I know what I have. Very pretty results.


Size matters

When decluttering size does matter!

The size of the space you have and the size of the stuff you chose to keep.

There is the size of clothes that fit too.

Lots of folks have weight fluctuations, some of which are extreme, so I know this is a common dilemma for many people. When choosing what to declutter from the closets... How do I decide what sizes are clutter?

The old rule is that is it doesn't fit, look good or feel good then it automatically gets cut from the wardrobe. But in the last 9 months or so, my body has changed size (unfortunately larger than I am comfortable with). Some items I have given up because I barely wore them even when they did fit, but MOST of my summer-season pants that fit last year are really too small. Since I do think it would be in my health's best interest to lose the excess weight, I am hesitant about getting rid of perfectly good shorts and capris. Yet.

But, where is the line between aspirational clutter and a realistic frugal sensibility?
Is it one size difference?
Or is it a time limit like one year?
I really would like the convenience of only having things that fit in my closet.... And having the pretty clothes that don't fit mixed in with the few remaining bottoms that do fit does add some frustration to getting dressed. But at the same time I keep hoping the smaller clothes will motivate me to do what needs to be done to fit them again.

Does anyone have any ideas? All thoughts will be greatly appreciated?


My Apologies

I am sorry if anyone was following the "spending holiday" posts.

Alas, I had to admit defeat.
I'm not going into the details, but sometimes, retreating is the best way to move forward.

Though I lost this one battle, I will win the war by learning from these mistakes.


Vow of Contentment

I can thank the Happiness Project for this revelation (link)

“By making a vow of stability the monk renounces the vain hope of wandering off to find a ‘perfect monastery.’ This implies a deep act of faith: the recognition that it does not much matter where we are or whom we live with…Stability becomes difficult for a man whose monastic ideal contains some note, some element of the extraordinary. All monastaries are more or less ordinary…Its ordinariness is one of its greatest blessings.”

How does this apply to an everyday life? For someone looking for simplicity and contentment and overall happiness, it has EVERYTHING to do with everyday life!

How much happier would you be if you weren't looking for something better? If you were truly happy with your lot in life?

Lately I have been wanting to sell my car. My grand plan was to sell it, pocket the money and drive the junker that we got for our son to learn to drive in (hubby found a running car for $200 and has put enough money into it to make it safe... but its still not pretty). Drving it until we found the perfect replacement.... or until the teen buys the junker, which ever comes first.

Hubby had a different plan, he thinks we should sell the 4 door sedan and get a fuel efficient, newer, SUV thing so that we would have a practical, reliable and stylish vehicle to be seen in.

In otherwords he wants to UPGRADE.

I had a reasonable offer on my car. But it still makes me sick to think my lovely car has depreciated by 40% in the last 3 year! In effect, we have absorbed $135/month - not including taxes or insurance or maintenance, for the privilage of driving the car.

To add insult to injury, hubby and I went car shopping and found the top end of my comfort zone for car price buys a run down picked over (and sometimes smelly) model of the car that haubby prefers!To get into one of those cars would be like paying several thousand dollars to DOWNGRADE and a significant amount of taxes too.

This is were the vow of stability comes in.

Please hold me to this.

I vow to love my car -even though it isn't dog or cargo friendly & even though it drinks PREMIUM only fuel - because it looks good, it runs great and it is paid for. So as long as this car is safe and reliable and not too embarassing to take to client meetings, I will stay the course. I will remain content - even with hubby pressing for something different.


gone and back again

The ipod touch 1st gen came back.
It didn't play the games that the 9 year old wanted (though I told her that the games were limited before she came to get it in the first place) I suppose I could have been a jerk and said "tough luck, you should have done your research before you bought it." But I didn't. I gave her the money back and accepted the iPod back into my life. Then I loaded it back up with songs and some goofy old games and played with it for a while. There is nothing wrong with it other than it's old and apple doesn't support it anymore. As long as I have it, I can run it.

But the 2 chairs are sold now. The lady seemed happy. And I am happy to have the space and to have the cash too.

Next on the chopping block:

A smallish, ugly, in-the-window, air conditioner. It was a welcome relief from the scorching heat of the other house (with it's full sun exposure and big windows), but in this house it's completely not neccessary. It works and I COULD just keep it in the crawlspace "just in case" since it isn't costing me anything if I don't plug it in.

But thats just silly.

It still works and surely someone is out there desperately wishing they had an air conditioner that doesn't cost a fortune.  
**** in less than 24 hours someone bought it without even haggling - I even found the manual for it! ****

More things that are leaving:

Summer clothes that aren't working for me anymore... I am saving them for the next time I see my slender friend. She may have them or take them to her next clothes swap or sell them as she wishes.

AND some more books (no photo sorry)


For Sale

iPod Touch (1st gen)
I loved you well, but got a new bigger one for Christmas last year.
Then my boy loved you but got a bigger, newer (2nd hand) one with his birthday money.
You languished on my desk for too long, so you went for sale.
(yesterday someone offered an acceptable $50 and now a 9 year old boy gets to love it)

You were perfect at my last house. Strong, easy to clean, perfect size for the eating nook.
In this house you are just in the way... surely someone will pay $30 for a pair of solid wood chairs.
I will hang on until the ad expires, if no one wants them, then off to charity.


Polyester Pest

This has been a problem with my wardrobe as far back as I can remember - polyester makes me sweat.

So even a beautiful colour, comfortable, flattering garment has to be rejected because of the fabric composition. It's getting trickier to identify it too. I used to be able to touch the item and tell, but they are getting better at making soft, natural feeling weaves.

Example: I have a nice shirt that I got recently thinking it was that new bamboo fibre. It is so soft and drapes beautifully, some french design brand. But I wore it the other day and sweat buckets! I couldn't figure out what was going on because it wasn't THAT hot out. After I got home, I peeled it off and searched for the tag... it was very faded (2nd hand garment) but I finally saw the cause "100% polyester". It tricked me!

The thing is I still want it in my wardrobe. It's pretty -- AND its comfy -- a hard combo to beat. But I can't be sweating like that everytime I wear it, and I'm not a fan of antiperspirants.... sigh... it's gotta go. So sad. At least I didn't spend a fortune on it.

Like every rule, there are exceptions. I have 4 shirts, 2 dresses and one pair of black slacks that are a polyester/spandex blend because they have a very specific purpose. These are my travel clothes. They are wrinkle proof, pack VERY small, wash up and drip dry quickly and look fantastic on. Its worth the sweat for all those features when travelling. And worth the space they take up in my closet the rest of the time (yes they look THAT good). I got to take them to an out of town wedding just a couple weeks ago, I was the only one in my group that didn't need to iron in the hotel room before heading out.

Sometimes the convenience outweighs minor discomfort, but for day-to-day life the polyester is not welcome in my wardrobe.


Too Full

I was doing so well! But I should know by now that decluttering is an ongoing process, and old habits die hard without due diligence.

This week the cupboards started overflowing again - the game of food tetris was happening any time I was looking for something. And worst of all I able to find what I KNOW I had to make meals!

Today I took action and ripped it all out - one cupboard at a time. With the helpful formula of Julie Morgenstern Sort, Purge, Assign a home, Containerize, Equalize... I reclaimed the SPACE in my cupboards again.

I put things where they belong, I removed expired and unhealthy foods (mostly impulse buys), then I made sure the container (where applicable) was properly filled and an appropriate size for the contents. And the cupboard had only the things it was supposed to have.

Only getting rid of a grocery bag's worth of neglected food, I reclaimed order in the kitchen pantry. My recycle bin was almost filled with plastic bags and cardboard boxes. And the chickens received a bonanza of wheat bread crumbs and stale cereal (and a box of unsalted soda crackers that they can have later moved to the feed shed)

What astonishes me is how fast I lost control.

Obviously I have a long way to go...


Out of Sight Out of Mind

365 things was talking about space allocation to help with clutter control this week.

I am a big fan of this technique, but I have discovered a trap of sorts. Complacency with what is in the allocated space can create a stagnation. If it is contained, and tidy, then it can be easy overlooked as an opportunity for decluttering and further streamlining.

Exhibit A: storage in my son's room. Tidy boxes crammed full of stuff in a cube shelf unit. Today I dared to look into those cubes and found a veritable plethora of bits and bobs that are completely useless! So I just rooted around for just FIVE MINUTES and got a whole grocery bag of less loved hotwheels, "prize" toys (from fast food joints) and other fun bits that show up in charity shop grab bags. So easy, so fast.


Falling Off the Chuck Wagon

I started the year off with a "pantry challenge" and it was a huge success! Good thing too because our freezer died (hubby repaired it but it took a few days) and if it wasn't so empty we would have ruined many more foods.

The temptation to fill it to capacity again has been surprisingly easy to resist. I guess I really am in a more stable place emotionally with food. (Pat myself on the back) I trust that food is available and easy to access. I trust that I can afford to feed my family now and in the future. I trust that space in my freezer/pantry is not an emptiness that always needs filling. Yep, I have had food issues.

Of course, when I look to make one of my staple dinners and find that I'm out of something, the surprise and disbelief as I rant at the cupboard is almost comical. "HOW can I be out of stewed tomatoes?" I've had to get used to actually checking BEFORE I start making something, instead of assuming my cupboard is like a well stocked grocery store.

Confession time.

I bought baked beans in bulk last week. Only 6 cans, but still, I've been so good.

Menu planning has helped. I draft up the menu based on the sale flyer, check the cupboards for the ingredients and fill in what is needed. I also have a chalk board to put down any staples that have run out so I can watch for them to go on sale again.

The freezer is still easy to go through, the fridge seems wo go through phases from STACKED-STUFFED to not-stuffed-but-still-not-bare and the pantry is full, but not bursting at the seams or flowing into other rooms like it was before!

To Thine Own Self Be True

I got this dress from one of my sister's closet purges with dreams of wearing it to a spring wedding. She never wore it and now she is about 4 dress sizes smaller. It has a retro cut that makes me feel like Mrs. Cleaver or something. Totally cool even though it's slightly too big and a bit fussy fabric compared to my usual dress preference.
Well there is a wedding coming up, so I tried it on to see if it was appropriate. My family didn't like it at all on me! So straight to the donate box it went. After all, if I couldn't wear it to the function I got it for, what good is it in my closet? NO GOOD!
Hopefully someone else will love the retro styling as much as I do AND look good in it. I was quickly forced to admit that though I think its cool, it's just not ME.
Is there anything in your wardrobe that you totally groove on but isn't your style? Maybe it's time to make space for the real you instead.


A Little of This , A Little of That

Stuff I just chose not to wear in the last 12 months:

pants too small now!
(just admit it and move on)

Excess cables and wires:

Every little bit helps when the goal is to have space.



Sometimes a thing is stored too long.

Dry goods that expire in the pantry, or adhesives that dry out for example.

Yesterday I visited that found box of stationary and found that the many envelopes that I had been hoarding for years had all sealed themselves up over the damp time spent in the shed this winter. About 3 pounds of pristine and pretty envelopes rendered useless by neglect. Now they are recycling.

Live and learn.


Heading that way

Yesterday I had to go to the bank, and my youngest said he wanted to see that the thrift shop next door had to offer. So I thought "Yay! An opportunity to make a donation!"

I asked my son to follow me to his room and we pulled out all his shirts and I held them up one by one and asked "Keep or Donate?" When he looked like he might be waffling, I gently reminded him that he had lots of shirts and if this one wasn't one he loved that it still would be a NICE thing to donate. After that was done, we went through the same routine with the pants. To show him that I wasn't picking on him, we went to my closet and I let him chose a dress that he thought was "hideous" and a pair of flip flops that are a garish color (he was getting impatient so I didn't push farther). The loot stuffed one of my extra fabric shopping bags (that I was planning to donate).

Banking, donating and browsing was all done efficiently and my son didn't even find anything he wanted to buy (except a bag of candy from the pharmacy next door... so close!).

I think it may be something to consider as a new habit as a compliment to the one-in-one-out rule. Fill a bag for donation before even going to the store, it's worth a try to do it every time.


Nice Mug

It has been a subtle transformation with removal of the excess in my household.

One box or bag at a time - a broken item not replaced, a rarely used thing just disappears, not dramatic at all (except the actual moving house last summer part)

It's funny that lately people keep noticing (for the first time) some furniture that I've had for over a decade -- now that it fits properly. "Is that new? It's nice."

Others are starting to notice that I have "less". Most are comfortable with it, but some folks have interesting reponses.

"Is that ALL your coffee mugs?"  More than one friend over for coffee has mentioned the number of mugs we have now. I don't run out of them even with big family dinners, so I'm not sure what they mean. MOST of the time only 2 per day are used, then they are washed. I was thinking the dozen we still have is a bit excessive, but apparently others think we need more.

(oops, that menu shouldn't be there!)


GOAL #37 Linen Closet

Finally took my own advice and let go of some of the "baggage" attached to the overflowing linen closet's contents! Namely, resisting the facts these items are past their prime, outlived their usefullness or ruined (no matter how expensive they were). I should use the nicer items that I already have, I need to release the left overs to leave room for the good stuff!

Here is the goal:
  • For linens- 2 sheet sets per bed (so there is enough for when company comes), with a maximum 2 pillowcases per pillow and no more than a winter and a summer duvet per bed.
  • For bath towels- only the ones in good shape!
  • For dish towels- only the ones in decent shape that fit in the drawer.

To resist the temptation of putting the threadbare, bleached or stained back into rotation (some were very expensive/past efforts to remove them had failed) I made sure to tear them into rags right then and there and put the bags of rags out in the garage for the super messes. And for the excess linens, the local thrift store will be getting a decent bag of donations tomorrow (I seemed to have been hoarding pillow cases for some reason). I had cleared out most of the decorative oddballs (duvet covers and throws) before we moved last year, so it wasn't too outrageous... even still, 2 STUFFED grocery bags of rags and a cloth shopping bag of donated linens made a BIG difference to how tidy and functional the closet is. Its a big improvement with only 15 minutes of work.

On a footnote (pun intended) I brought out the summer shoes and culled a couple pairs that I have decided I don't need anymore. And a handbag that is very cool and well built, but ridiculously heavy so I don't enjoy using it!

Bu-Bye :)

Here is the result! Way better than the over stuffed chaos that was there before.... the striped baskets (that areNOT full anymore) each have a specific theme: 1) twin sheet sets, 2) spare queen sheet set and 3) housekeeping rags

Bad Feelings

If you don't have it anymore you can't:
  • Feel anxious about how much it cost
  • Feel guilty about  never using it
  • Feel embarassed that it doesn't fit anymore
  • Feel overwhelmed that it hasn't been repaired or finished it yet
  • Feel frustrated over having to clean/maintain it
  • Feel buried by the space it takes up
  • Feel shame/loss/anger over the memory that is attached to it

Those are things I know about decluttering.
It is work to remember all these points, especially if you have had the thing a long time,... that's the hardest part, admitting that the item may actually be emotionally toxic.

Have the courage to admit that the time is up with the items that invoke the above feelings: say good-bye, forgive yourself and move forward to more space and a wide open future. You have my permission to give it a new home and toss the 'baggage'.


Easy Choice!

While looking for my gardening books, I found a whole box of stuff I don't need. All of it in very good condition, these shirts and hats are going to my favourite charity thrift shop.


Missing In Action

It was inevitable... I am missing something I feel I need.

I'm pretty sure that I did NOT declutter my favourite gardening reference books... but I can't seem to find them! Since the move and the paring down of books, I guess they could have gone astray. They aren't in the bookshelf here.

There was a box of books under the house that hadn't been opened yet, but the gardening books weren't in there - it had my yearbooks from high school! (I am keeping those until both my kids graduate at least because they think it's funny to look at me as a teen)

In the sheds I found a forgotten box with stationery in it... It will be be edited agressively because the only thing I missed was the geometry set that I needed for the kid's math homework. Thankfully, I resisted replacing it because I KNEW I had one SOMEWHERE!

I wonder where the books are? I really want them to plan my new vegetable garden this year! I need plant pairings and soil preference and planting times for my zone... that's a lot of digging on the internet (pun intended).

Besides, that's half the fun of gardening- sitting with a good plant book pouring over it taking notes and sketching plans! Dreaming of big harvests and the freshest yummiest food.


Putting on the brakes

I've had to slow down my decluttering efforts because of other, more urgent matters. Note I said "urgent" not necessarily important.

Spring has sprung and I had to squeeze every available moment of decent weather to work on the yard. We have "decluttered" a long row of neglected and diseased hedges along the driveway and a tottering cinder block wall in the front. As well we have prepared the veggie plot for the new season and built a better gate for the free-range-chicken-zone of the garden.

With all this yard action I have had little time to think about the other goals that I've already started! So the laundry room still looks much the same.

It didn't help that the freezer decided to die and all the contents had to taken in a mad rush to my sister's freezer. Thankfully my handy husband found the problem and resuscitated the appliance, so we were spared the unpleasant task of buying a new one! I am so lucky we did the freezer challenge in January, otherwise there would have been far too much to fit in my sister's space!

Easter, birthdays and a whole mess of new, demanding contracts for work have also interupted my desire to purge the clutter. The desire is still there, but I can't do much about it right this minute.... oh well.

Don't give up on me, there is more to toss, and more to see.

Small victories like these are still happening:

 (an empty cabinet that needs to go to a different house...
... it was a hand-made present so it's a tough one to let go of)
PLUS my husband has purged 3 coats and a pair of shoes too!


I wish I took pictures

I made a deal with my youngest boy this weekend... if he could help with some of MY chores, I would clean his room. After short negotiations as to what chores he'd have to do, he went for it.

So I spent a good part of Sunday tearing into the plethora of bins and containers in his room. It looked waaaaaay worse before it started looking better, but now there is some logic to the containers (all the playmobil in one place, hotwheels in another, for example).

Thanks to all the practice I've had in my own spaces lately, I had great success consolidating and streamlining his storage bins! I put SIX high quality empty bins in the crawlspace (I know I should just donate them, but I will give them some time to prove useless before that). There was a small amount of trash (toy packages) and only a small amount of damaged toys, so I didn't really remove a whole lot of volume. It was just the miss-filed items that were taking up so much extra space. And that accident has been fixed now.

He came home from an outing with dad to a better looking and better functioning space. Oh ya and it was cleaner too. With everything torn out, I could vacuum and dust in the chronically blocked corners... small mountains of dust and pet hair lurked there (ewwww). With less bins now, theoretically it should be easier to clean these corners more often. It's now Wednesday and it's still very nice in there. :)

In other news: 2 weeks ago I gave 4 very large, quality, hinged plastic bins to my sister to help her rotate toys in her kids' playroom.... she has seen my decluttering successes and thought she'd try cutting down the immediate choices for her kids so they could find it easier to put things away and easier to find something to play with. By rotating the toys, old will be new again in a few months, and clean up time should go faster.

It's funny how there is a certain point where too much choice is annoying instead of fun - that's where her playroom had gone to. Nobody wanted to play in there. Now that 4 large totes worth are out of sight, and several more bags were donated or tossed, and even a large piece of furniture was removed, her kids suddenly love their playroom again!

No I didn't pest my sister to do it, she just saw with her own eyes that I have been happier with less, and recognized that it could solve her playroom frustrations to have less too. And I just happened to have a bunch of empty bins (!)

Align Life with Priorities

I found "extraorganized.com" recently and thought I'd give some of the concepts a real effort.
(My comments are in the CAPS)

"Align your life with your priorities"

What is important to you, at this moment in your life? Over the next twelve months, aim to gradually bring the way you spend your time into alignment with these things. To help identify your core priorities, think about the following questions:

• What are your top five priorities?

• From a friend’s perspective, what would they say your top five priorities are?

• Does the way you spend your time reflect either list?

• Is there anything getting in the way of your priorities? Is it worth it?



GOAL #36 - Entryway/laundryroom

Not a lot going on in the entryway (there is no room to hide bins anyways!) but I do have an excess of reusable grocery bags in the coat closet. I think the eco thing to do is use these extra bags as my donation containers for a while.

The laundryroom is a whole other story. Stacks of bins for shoes, cleaning supplies and other bits and bobs. Here is the starting point....

The goal is to to clear off the horizontal surfaces and limit the busy-clutter.


Away for Good, Away for Now

I put an audio book on and got packing today.

Away forever - one box of stuff is going away forever
Away for now - going to the crawlspace with "expiry dates" written on them - 1 large box of DVDs and 1 box of books

(small sampling of stuff going away so far)


Reality is a mean mistress

I look at all these things around, and am anguishing over how to FIX the lingering piles that are plaguing me.

I want a pretty, clean space. I know that means getting rid of everything that doesn't fit the vision.

I know it, but I have such a hard time DOING it. Cutting the fat as it were is tougher than it sounds as I look at the kid's art and the lego model, the costume sparkly necklace and my yoda figurine on my desk. They are so cute and fun on their own, but all together on my desk it looks messy.

The vision is worth the temporary pain, right?

Once these cute things are put away I will forget about them quickly, right?


It's time

I've been saying for a couple years now that I want to own less and be happy with less so I will feel less smothered/overwhelmed by all the stuff.

In the old days, all my stuff was a comfy blanket to keep me warm in uncertain times. Sparse homes made me feel cold and uncomfortable even for a short visit! How things have changed. Now a cluttered home suffocates me and so much of my own things seem to just harbour mess and stress.

That photo of my office area that I posted a while back is a prime example. What's that all about? My blog is "Happy Shiny Me" and that image is neither "happy" nor "shiny", but it is "me" in that place at that time.

That's how I know it is time.  It's GOTTA GO. All the books I don't read, papers I don't look at, tools I don't use, treasures that don't mean anything anymore. Movies that I keep rewatching (don't I have better things to do with my time?) I've held onto so much for so long, it won't be easy... I have to be strong, with a clear vision of my end goal - SPACE TO BREATHE -  and space to bring new experiences into my life.

So that I don't have any immediate regrets, I will be utilizing the vast empty space under my house as a purgatory for my stuff. Taking a tip from other declutterers I will have boxes taped up with the current date written clearly. If I do not break the seal looking to retrieve something from the box in one year, I am sure I can safely get rid of it. An added bonus of keeping the boxes in the crawlspace is that I will likely try to "make do" without this item instead of going looking for it. And if I can make do without it once, then I can likely permanently live without this theoretical item, right?


GOAL #35 Kitchen and Dining

To remove the excess in order to reveal the right amount! That is the goal here. To make the important things stand out and not me smothered by the extraneous materials.

“I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.”
― Michelangelo

No place is it more important to me than the kitchen!
Since this is a container challenge that I am going for right now, I won't be tearing into every cupboard and drawer this week. Just the containers that are lurking within. I have baskets that contain mixes, baskets that contain baking supplies, baskets that have "treats".

The dining room is very simple because I don't have too much extra stuff in there.... but I'll do it too.

This mission is to remove the outdated, expired, broken and unloved that don't belong here anymore. (And hopefully to remove a few containers and streamline while I'm at it.)

These items I no longer use/want in my kitchen:

Any items removed is good news!



"Where did all this CRAP come from!", my internal dialogue is raging right now.

I know very well where it all came from, each and every piece of debris, garbage and outdated thing.

Packaging is a major culprit for most of western society, I think. Too much all the time and never ending!

Built-in obsolescence is another infuriating offender! Why oh why can't they build things to last anymore! Nothing makes me more angry than spending good money on a new item to find out that it was built to last a season or two. The last few hundred dollars I have spent on my son's shoes, they FELL APART before he got a chance to outgrow them, not cheap knock-off brands either! Total garbage in a few short months. Electronics and small appliances are a source of frustration in this category as well. Toasters and kettles in particular. I want to spend the money on a GOOD one and use it for decades please!

The nitty gritty of my endless rage is  - gritty.

Dirt dirt dirt dirt dirt. Dog, cat, kid, yard, dust, fluff, food, MESS!

Never ending, hard to keep even remotely ahead of.

I have "peaked" again with my tolerance threshold...

((((yoga breaths))))

I guess I better get back to war with it.


GOAL#34 - Office/Den

This is a two week goal... the sheer volume of little things is DAUNTING!

Starting Point.... my office/den is by far the most tragic space in my home for homeless clutter and "one day I might need it" clutter... a lot of sentimental clutter resides there too. Oh ya and the box of things that are heading out of the house usually ends up beside the bookshelf too.

See what I mean?!
I anticipate this goal will be CHALLENGING. But not impossible. Some containers are working... I know what's in them and can find what I'm looking for. OTHERS are mysterious containers of unknown flotsam and jetsam. Those are the ones I will be focusing on.
Some of the more interesting items found in and around my desk area:
  • MORE bits and bobs that belong in my hardware bin,
  • tape measures,
  • sewing items,
  • about 20 gluesticks,
  • outdated business cards,
  • old kids projects that never got finished,
  • magazines,
  • lipbalms,
  • nail trimmers (I have SIX apparently!),
  • lotions and
  • hair accessories.
Obviously having my office downstairs at the other house made me keep some items "conveniently close" instead of "properly away". In this house, being one level, EVERYTHING is conveniently close even when it IS away, so hopefully that is the end of that habit.
Also: cables for obsolete electronics, software discs for computers I no longer own and other gadget junk. The weird thing is that I thought I already went through these gadget-bins last year! I swear they breed on their own.
The biggest SINGLE item I removed is a monitor that I used as my "toolbar" monitor in tandem with my main monitor. It started acting up a few months ago and now it won't turm on. Buh-Bye! My desk looks so much brighter without it!
 More yet to slog through.... I'll post the final results next week.


GOAL #33 - Living room Storage

Not nearly as intimidating as the bedroom containers!
What lurks inside?

Decluttered from one bin (now for sale online) an old gaming system and the games:

The other containers were okay. One "theme" per container, I can live with that for now.