Category Archives: De-cluttering/Simplifying

We’re moving…

Well, not moving till next summer, but it is on my mind pretty much all the time.  As I go about my daily tasks/living in my current house I ponder which items we own now will make the move and which are or will be no longer useful.

We will be moving from a single family, 3-bedroom rambler type home to a townhouse.  On the surface, that sounds like we are downsizing.  However, in this case, I think we will actually be gaining living space.  BUT, we lose a basement!

Do you know how much stuff you can accumulate in a basement over 22 years?

Only minute part of 52 years worth of junk!
Only minute part of 52 years worth of junk!

 And, you know what – actually, it’s more like 52 years accumulation.  Though we’ve been in our current house for 22 years, I know for a fact, some of the items have been moved to three different homes.

It’s been so easy over the years to “just put it in the basement” when an item is no longer needed or wanted in our living space.  How much easier it would be now as we cull through our belongings if we would have actually gotten rid of stuff along the way instead of being too lazy to deal with it or hanging onto it “just in case” we or our kids or our grand kids ever would need it.

I’m grateful that we have several months to work on discarding things.  Here’s the process we will use as we determine what we will actually move next summer.  For each item we will ask ourselves - Is this something:

  • we still use/need
  • we still love
  • we still think of as having sentimental value (heirlooms, perhaps)

If the answer is no, then the item can be:

  • donated, if it would be usable to someone or,
  • sold, if it isn’t usable to us but might be to someone, AND IF, we have the energy (or the technology know how) to find a buyer through the internet (Craig’s List, Facebook Marketplace, neighborhood website, etc.), or, heaven forbid, a garage sale which sounds like way too much work!
  • recycled, if it isn’t usable but is recyclable material
  •  tossed in the garbage, if it has no value – I anticipate a dumpster being in our driveway for awhile next summer.

I have already started this process.  The hardest items to deal with are those that have been gifted to us.  I feel guilty getting rid of those things – like I’m not grateful for the gift.

It also is overwhelming to deal with some of the sentimental keepsakes.  They have meaning to no one else so will just become trash after we’re gone.  Examples:  cheerleading letters earned in high school, charms on a charm bracelet that were significant to high school and young adult life, scrapbooks full of newspaper clippings, cards, ticket stubs, etc. from teen years.  keepsakes  How do we toss the stuff that we felt was significant enough to save?

Uffda, this is hard work! 

I’d like to be on the other side and already living in our new space.  I know we’ll get there, but I could use any suggestions anyone has on how to prepare for the move.  Feel free to offer advice in the comments section below.

Clothes, clothes everywhere and nothing to wear…

Do you ever stand in front of your closet, which, if like mine, is full of clothes, and bemoan the fact that you have “nothing to wear”?

How can that be?

Well, it may mean some of our clothes are all wrong for us, no longer work for us.  Like me, perhaps you have accumulated clothing you thought you needed, or because it was on sale, or because it was the latest fashion trend, or because it looked great on someone else.  We keep outfits that are no longer our size (because we think we can be that size again), are not in a color that compliments our skin tone, are of a style that doesn’t suit our body type, or have been in the closet for many, many years, because we think we may “need” them someday.

Do you LOVE all your clothes?  If you do, never having anything to wear is not your problem, because you feel good in every single piece of clothing in your wardrobe.  Hooray for you.

If you don’t, it’s time to make a change.

In Minnesota where we have distinct seasons (usually 4 of them, but sometimes we get robbed of a nice fall or spring), changing out our wardrobe is a logical thing to do as we move into the next season.  Right now, it is time to trade our heavy sweaters, boots, and winter garb for brighter, lighter spring and summer clothes and shoes.


So, too, now is a great time to rid our closets and dresser drawers of those clothing items we hate, no longer wear, or no longer fit into.  Think how great it would be if everything in our closets made us feel comfortable and, dare I say it, beautiful?  Never again would we have to say “I have nothing to wear!”

This is not a time to feel guilty about getting rid of the outfit we paid good money for and have only worn once.  If we don’t LOVE it, we need to get rid of it.  Donate it, consign it, so that someone else for whom it may be better suited, can love it.  Make room for shirts, pants, dresses, skirts that we really like, that fit well, and suit our lifestyle.

There are a couple of ways to go about scrutinizing our wardrobes and making changes.

  • Peruse the entire closet or dresser drawers all at once, tossing:
    • anything not worn for a long time
    • anything that no longer fits
    • anything that is “out of style” (how about the dress pants I’ve had since 1990?)
    • anything that we don’t LOVE


  • Using that same criteria for discarding, consider items in categories one at a time – pull out all the sweaters and go through them; then pull out all the tee-shirts and go through them; then consider all the pants, etc.  You get the idea.  This is an approach touted by Marie Kondo in her book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up:  The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.  I actually have done this exercise and was amazed at all the tee-shirts, for example, that I owned and didn’t wear.  I now have only tee-shirts in the drawer that I actually like and wear.

As we do this purging process, it’s helpful to have a couple of boxes or bags handy for sorting the cast offs – one for donate or consign-worthy items; one for items that should only end up in the garbage can. (Or, if you are really ambitious, gather things to add to a garage sale and make some money that way. The garage sale being more work than I am willing to do!)

By the way, we can also attack our fashion accessories in this way – jewelry, scarves, handbags, etc.  If we don’t love an item – we need to get rid of it!  Make room for pieces that make us feel good.

A bonus to this process – after getting rid of all the unsuitable, unlovable clutter, we have room to purchase a couple of new pieces that we can enjoy wearing or using.

You can see this post is aimed at women.  Men, however, could benefit from this purging process also.  I’m thinking about RC’s many ties and how he never wears a tie anymore.  We could donate several and keep just one or two in case he needs to wear one to a funeral or wedding or somesuch…removing some of the clutter in his closet!

Happy purging – let me know how it goes for you.  When you are done, I hope you never have another day that you don’t feel wonderful in what you are wearing.



Lightening the load…

I’ll preface this post by saying organizing and striving for efficiencies in both my personal and work life are the things that make me tick and give me satisfaction. And, if I do say so myself, I’m, pretty darn good at keeping things under control!

But, then again, maybe not…read on.

On a recent Sunday morning drive through our neighborhood on the way home from church , we noticed a For Sale sign posted at the entrance of a twin home complex.  To my surprise, RC said, “let’s drive in and see what’s for sale.”

Now, I’m not sure I’ve even expressed it out loud, but recently, I’ve fantasized about moving into a twin home/townhouse type of dwelling, and leaving the work of maintaining a single-family home behind…in particular, leaving behind the maintenance of the exterior of the premises and taking care of the yard/gardens.  We do love our back yard and during suitable weather, spend a good amount of time on our patio enjoying the gardens and grass.  However, as I like to say, we have created a monster – it takes a lot of hard work (manual labor) to keep everything looking nice.  My back, for one, often rebels when I’ve spent time planting, weeding, pruning, etc.

So, my fantasy is to move into a place where I have just a nice patio or deck suitable for growing my favorite flowers in a couple of pots – low maintenance!

Flower pots on a patio
Flower pots on a patio

Also, it would be nice to have someone else be responsible for the exterior of the home and mowing the lawn, shoveling the snow.  (RC claims he does still enjoy doing those things.)

As I said, moving is my fantasy and not one, I think, my husband shares.  So, I was surprised he wanted to do a drive-by of this twin home that was for sale.  Turns out, it was a lovely-looking unit – single story, relatively new structure in a small complex of similar homes.

Well, conveniently, our son and daughter-in-law, Pete and Karen, are in the real estate business.  I seized the opportunity to have Karen get me the specific details about the unit being sold.  She found it has a couple of bedrooms and bathrooms, a family area, nice kitchen and patio.  It would be perfect except for one thing – it has no basement!  Not for me so much, but for RC that could be a deal-breaker.

I’m married to a salesman – one who keeps “samples” of his wares and “demo equipment” on hand in his basement, garage and, I might add, his car.  A good friend teases me about the fact I won’t allow anyone other than family to see our basement.  It is full of stuff and not the tidy, organized basement I assume most other people have.

Some of the STUFF in our basement!
Some of the stuff in our basement!

How will we ever be able to move into a home without a basement?!

This brings me to what I considered to be the topic of this post when I started writing today – lightening the load

I’m speculating we won’t live in our current home for the rest of our lives, however long that might be – 20-25 years if we are really lucky – realistically, probably a shorter time period.  I think we should start cleaning out unwanted, un-needed stuff now while we’re able so a move someday can be a much easier process.

I fear I’m in this cleaning out mode by myself.  I don’t think RC agrees with my idea of moving someday and he has a hard time parting with things.  I will say, since he is still working, there are many items in our basement we can’t get rid of yet.

But, back to my opening paragraph, though I have maybe let things get a little out of control as far as accumulating things, given my personality, I’m having a very satisfying time now, ridding the house of things not needed or useful anymore.  Driving by the twin home and checking out its features has given me the impetus to start preparing in the event I ever realize my moving fantasy.  Our garbage can and recycling bin were full to the top this week.  I have a few boxes ready to go to the Good Will also.

I’ll continue to whittle away at de-cluttering.  It entertains me for now; and, perhaps someday we’ll be glad I did lighten our load!


Too much stuff…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIf you’re like me and over a life-time of maintaining a home you’ve collected just too much stuff, I know of a fun way to begin cleaning out the clutter.  I call it 9 for 9 – tossing, donating, gifting or otherwise ridding your household of nine items each day for nine days.  I have done this little exercise on more than one occasion over the years, and always thought it was an actual Feng Shui concept.  (Feng Shui – the science of placement founded in Eastern cultures meant to create balance and harmony in one’s surroundings.) When I Googled Feng Shui, however, I didn’t find any specific references to this 9 for 9 process.  My daughter, Amy, introduced me to this clearing-the-clutter method several years ago (and, actually, to Feng Shui) after she heard about it during a workshop she attended.  As Amy and I discussed the fact I couldn’t find 9 for 9 on the internet, she suggested it was perhaps just the good idea of the leader of that class.

The number nine is, in fact, a very important number in Feng Shui.  The Chinese have assigned a meaning to each number from one to nine, with each successive number being more complex and representing more knowledge.  Nine then, is the epitome of all of this knowledge and represents completion and satisfaction to the Chinese.  Given this information, I still can’t explain the reason we should discard nine things for nine days, but maybe some of you are brighter than me and can figure out the connection.  I just enjoy feeling like I’m participating in a sophisticated science (plus clearing out my house)!

Though I am by no means, deep into Feng Shui, I do know that its followers feel mess saps strength and blocks positive energy.  They also think broken things are impediments to vitality.  Feng Shuiers strive to harmonize their energy with their surroundings; thus, clearing clutter or fixing broken things fits right in with their goals.  Though not specifically about Feng Shui, other articles I have read about clearing clutter preach we should keep only the things we absolutely love, use, or which have sentimental value to us.  Using those criteria makes it easy to decide what to dispose of.

Doing a 9 for 9 blast works fine alone, but I have found it is really more fun joining in the effort with a group or at least one other person, with each participant sharing their list of cast-offs at the end of each day (through FB or email, etc.).  The lists can provide some great humor – e.g., (1) two straws from McDonalds with the paper cover still intact, (2) a sippy cup no one is using or needs, (3) a dog leash for a dog who has been gone since 2000.  You get the idea – WHY ARE WE KEEPING THIS STUFF?!?  Sharing the lists with others provides the incentive for keeping up the process for the nine days, and holds everyone accountable.

Finding 81 things to discard over nine days can be a challenge, but not as daunting as tossing 27 things each day for nine days…I did find a reference on Google for someone who proposes doing that.  Believe me, nine a day is enough; and, for those of you that work outside the home a full day plus have all the normal responsibilities of running a household, you may find yourself gathering items to toss at 10:00 o’clock at night.  Try to hang in there though, because you will feel so good when you complete the nine days.

See my picture below of the first nine items I am discarding as I start yet another round of 9 for 9.

  1. some yarn meant for mending, if needed, a sweater I no longer have – garbage
  2. two bracelets I’ll never wear again – donation bag
  3. two CDs of music for very young children and no very young children in sight – donation bag
  4. (love this one) billing paperwork for daughter’s college sorority – she graduated in the 90s! – shred
  5. a paper punch for an obsolete calendar system now that I have an iPhone – garbage
  6. new bobby pins which I haven’t used in years (and, why do I have two full cards of them?) – garbage or maybe donation bag since they are new
  7. old nail polish – garbage
  8. used Christmas candles that haven’t been lit for a long time and won’t be used again – garbage
  9. a half-empty travel size bottle of bath gel which is very old – garbagephoto

Gotta run to start finding my next nine things.  Perhaps I’ll tackle my clothes closets today.