Wednesday, July 2, 2014

A Little Bit Less

When I have an hour or two at home alone there are a few go-to activities for me.  Sewing is probably at the top of the list.  I can spend hours puttering away on dresses and mending and things, all the better if I've got an audiobook going, too.  And reading, in general, would be another one high up on my free time list, especially in the hammock.  But, if neither of those tripped my trigger I might end up wandering the house tidying, organizing and decluttering.  What can I say?  I'm a dork.  I like everything in my home in its place.  I like to eliminate jumbles and piles and chaotic cupboards.  I enjoy going through a closet and weeding out unused things to donate to charity.  Its satisfying work and the more I get rid of the less work there is to do in the future.
See, I don't like things cluttering up drawers and closets, especially things we don't really use.  I don't subscribe to the out-of-sight-out-of-mind philosophy--if you want it our of mind I figure it could probably just go altogether.  I find it irritating to not be able to find what I am looking for because its lost in the chaos of piles of papers or drawers of bric-a-brac.  Its a waste of my time and space, both of which I value highly.  Plus, doesn't it seem silly to have more than a dozen re-usable shopping bags when we only use three?  I mean, do I really need dozens of ballpoint pens in my little house?  How many coffee mugs does a two-person household really need?  And so on.

I am not a minimalist.  And I don't aspire to be one.  But, I do like order.  I do like having enough to meet our needs without holding on to extras, "just in case."  I do believe that less can be more.  I do find that, trite though it may be, the more you own the more it ends up owning you.

I've always admired that quote from Thoreou that says, " greatest skill is to want but little..."  I aspire to that.  I'm simple.  I like to keep a simple, tidy, functional home, too.
Which brings me to the heart of the post I am trying to write.

See, Matt has been giving me a chance to fulfill my newly spoken vows of "in sickness and in health," by getting a very nasty cold this week.  It is just a cold, but since he almost never gets sick Matt doesn't take to it very well.  It totally wipes him out--mentally and physically.  So he's spent the last several days sleeping, pretty much, with a little reading and tea drinking in between naps.  He said he was starting to feel himself again last night though, thank goodness.  I prefer to see him being his playful, busy-body self.  But, since I had the whole evening to myself two nights back I set about to a fun, little cleaning/decluttering project I learned about earlier that day from Gillie:  101 Physical Things That Can Be Reduced in Your Home
Here is my list of cast-off, surplus, items:

Glassware  - 4 (coffee mug, three wine glasses)
Cookbooks - 2 (Both acquired for free, neither we'd ever used)
Kitchen gadgets - 1 (food processor)
Kitchen appliances - All in active use
Pots / pans - 3 (surplus cast iron pans)
Mixing bowlsAll in active use
Water pitchersAll in active use
Magazines - 3 (really they were catalogs, but...)
Newspapers - We don't have any
Books - 7
Over-the-counter medicine - All in active use
Make-up - All in active use
Barretts / hair clips / ponytail holders - All in active use, I recently weeded out the surplus
Cleaning supplies - All in active use
Personal beauty appliances (hair dryer/curlers, electric razors) - All in active use
Bottles of shampoo/conditioner - All in active use
Photos - I am unwilling to declutter my photo albums
Photography supplies  - All in active use
Sewing supplies
Craft supplies
Scrap-booking supplies - We don't have any
Decorative items - 1 (And I cannot remember what now...)
Candles - We have spares, but none that I am willing to give away because I will use them.
Figurines - 2 (wooden nesting dolls)
Crystal - We don't have any
Vases - 1
Audio/visual components
Audio/visual cables - 2 (mini-USB cords for my camera.  I had three for some reason.)
Computer equipment
MP3 players  - All in active use
Furniture - 1 (a ridiculously small glass-topped end table)
Video game systems
Vdeo games
Video game accessories
Shirts / shorts - 2 (tops that just don't fit me right)
Coats - 1 (long, grey, wool winter coat.  I always wear my long, blue, wool winter coat)
Hats - 2 (women's style baseball caps that were just a bit too small.)
Clothes hangers
Shoes - 2 (one pair from me, one pair from Matt)
Winter gear - 3 (stocking caps which we never wear)
Jewelry - 3 (bracelets, but I recently donated my unused necklaces and earrings, too)
Coins - We don't have any, well, a little in the change jar.  We cashed it in already this year.
Pillows - All in active use
Towels - All in active use
Linen sets - All in active use
Candle Holders - 1 (A plastic one that I'd found on top of the fridge.  I had no idea it was up there.)
Televisions - All in active use
Items on your bulletin board - 3 (bills which had been paid, but never moved to filing)
Magnets - 3 (all freebies from businesses that I don't shop at)
Artwork - I am unwilling to declutter my art portfolio or my framed wall art.
Mirrors - All in active use, except that antique one that just looks pretty on my shelf.
Home office supplies - 1 (notepad)
Pens/pencils - 16
Old batteries - We don't have any
Rolls of duct tape - All in active use
Coolers - All in active use
Phone books - All in active use
Coupons - 1 (It didn't have an expiration date, but its been on the fridge for more than two years.)
Sporting good supplies - 2
Sports memorabilia - We don't have any
Aluminum cans - They go directly into the recycling dumpster
Glass bottles 
Automobile fluids - We don't have any
Automobiles - All in active use
Scrap pieces of lumber - We still have lumber neatly stacked in the garage, but its all earmarked for projects
Brooms - All in active use
Garden tools
Plant containers
Empty cardboard boxes - 3 (they'd been languishing on the porch since the wedding waiting to be recycled)
Board games - All in active use (I just recently weeded this, too)
Puzzles - We don't have any
Decks of cards
Unused wedding gifts - Its too soon to say, but I think we're going to use the heck out of all of them.
Baby clothes - We don't have any
Baby supplies - We don't have any
Old schoolbooks/papers
Army men - We don't have any
Bath toys - We don't have any
Toy balls - All in active use (I do have a small toy collection for visiting youngsters)
Toy cars/trucks - All in active use
Toy musical instruments - We don't have any
Stuffed animals - All in active use
Plastic toys - 7 (junky little things that made their way into said toy collection over the years)
Childrens’ old school papers - We don't have any
Suitcases - All in active use (Actually, we could use to acquire one since ours are patched with duct tape.)
Soda - All in active use (I am on a special soda-a-day bender on the wedding leftovers)
Alcohol  - All in active use 
Processed foods - All in active use 
Christmas / seasonal decorations - 1 (a garter I considered for the wedding before skipping it altogether)
Cable channels - We don't have any
It was interesting to work through the list.  Quite, actually.  For one thing, there are many categories that we don't even have one of, let alone extras to get rid of, personal beauty appliances, cable channels, or newspapers, for example.  Several others, TVs, bottles of shampoo, or MP3 players, say, we only have one of and so didn't have any decluttering to do.   But, for most of the categories there were at least a couple things that easily got added to the charity box.
Generally I just declutter as needed.  For example, say I open the closet to put away my coat and there are no free hangers because we've got too many coats and jackets.  So I pick out the ones I never wear and thus, free up some hangers.  So, this more focused, ordered reduction is new to me.  Over the course of the evening I packed up quite a bit to send off to Goodwill...and I didn't even get through the whole list or the whole house.  I would have loved to go through the bedroom--particularly the closet--, but since it was currently in use as the sickroom I figured it could wait.  And then I started feeling under the weather last night myself so decided to kind of take it easy and read rather than finish up the list.  Another day.
The 23 items in bold are the ones I need to get back to once I'm feeling better.  I am certain there are objects stashed in my sewing room that I don't use.  Also, I have this fixation on keeping every single manual for any product that we buy or get as a gift.  I probably don't need to.  Its not like a reference them often or anything. I'm thinking maybe I'll scan that I still have a copy without them taking up the physical space.  That seems smarter.  I don't know why I didn't think of it sooner.
All photos from hiking the South Rim of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone in May 2013
It was a good exercise in reduction.  78 little bits of this and that which are no longer demanding my attention.


  1. Clutter stresses me out to the max. I'm not a minimalist persay, but I don't like keeping things around for no good reason. The BF and I are currently tackling his house before I move in & bring more stuff with me.

    1. That is a good plan. And congrats on that big step.

      Oh, clutter...I cannot bear it.


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