Friday, April 29, 2011

Farewell Friday: Pant-astic.

On Fridays I say farewell to something that left my house during the week.  Here's today's Farewell Friday item....

I bought a few new pairs of Summer pants this week.  I decided that if new pants were coming in, old pants had to go -- and I stuck to my goal!  I tried on every pair of Summer pants (and organized the drawer, while I was at it) and got rid of several pairs.  The ones I got rid of either didn't fit or were simply pants that I didn't like.  They fit but didn't look good or make me feel good.  So out they go -- and they are in great condition (wish I hadn't spent the money) so they will make a thrift store shopper very happy!

Do pictures of pants become more interesting when you use cool filters?  Not really.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Letter go.

How long do you keep letters and cards?  I don't get nearly as many as I used to (thanks to e-mail -- not sure if this is a good or bad thing....or both) but I still get a fair amount, especially cards and handwritten thank you notes.

A loooooooong time ago I read in a Martha Stewart magazine (I wish I had kept the clipping, alas) that she recommends saving only truly special letters.  For example, if you have 24 birthday cards saved from your grandmother, maybe just keep the 5 that she actually wrote a special note in (and get rid of the others that just have a signature). Those 5 notes are a wonderful representation of her correspondence with you, and doesn't get buried in the pile of cards that don't have that same kind of meaning.

I used to save EVERY SINGLE LETTER I ever got.  Every one.  This sounds so corny, but good old Martha's advice really worked for me!  I realized that not only was such a huge collection of letters a hindrance to ever actually looking at them but it was also not a special collection in any way.  From then on I would open a letter/card/note and if it had something special about it I'd save it in my letter box.  The rest I'd enjoy for a week or so (longer for Christmas cards) and then they'd get tossed.

What do you do with your cards and letters?

Monday, April 25, 2011

Organizer bins are not always evil.

I am not a big fan of organizer bins (for myself, that is).  I have a tendency to put a million things in them, put them "away" and then they and their contents are never seen again.  Only a very special few have functioned well in my house.  Here's an example of a Bin Success Story.

Before, under my sink was a hot mess (I love it when Niecy Nash used to say that that on Clean House):

I ventured into this scary place and found:
  • 3 bottles of lotion with about 1 inch of lotion at the bottom
  • 2 aerosol cans of deodorant (only one works)
  • about 10 hair products that didn't work for me but apparently were worth saving for years on end in my bathroom cabinet
  • some expensive salon conditioner that I thought had been used up ages ago
I put the daily-use items in a bin, pulled a few hair products to give away, and put the lotions on my countertop so they will be used up this week.  The cabinet still isn't pretty, but is a lot more functional now:

I also put everything in an organizer bin that has a handle so I can slide it out in the morning when I'm getting ready.  No more fishing around looking for things in the dark depths.

We'll see if this bin makes the cut.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Farewell Friday: Postcards

 On Fridays I say farewell to something that left my house during the week.  Here's today's Farewell Friday item....

I love all things New York City.  Especially vintage New York City.  So when I ordered a tote bag (have you seen the Strand bookstore's tote bags?  Perfection.  Awesome-ness in the form of a bag.  I own waaaaaaaay too many) and got this book of postcards for free with my order, I was pretty enthused.

But is a book of postcards the most useful thing?  Once you've flipped through it a couple of times you've kind of finished "reading" it.  You don't really want to rip some out and mail them (first, I usually send postcards from a place I'm actually AT, and second, I don't want to ruin the poor little book!) and so it sits in its virgin state, gathering dust.

I finally was able to pull off this particular piece of Velcro Clutter and it's going into my garage sale (held in May -- so it's not going to be in the house too long) bin.

Goodbye, postcards!  To know you was to love you.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


Git-r-done (pronounced git-ter-dun), for those of you who may not be familiar with weird-o American slang, is a funny way of saying "get it done" (why does explaining something funny suddenly make it sound dumb?).  Hmm.  Anyway.....tonight I FINALLY did a task that has honestly been gathering dust on my kitchen counter for at least 6 months.  Finally!  It's done!  Going to the post office tomorrow!  Git-r-done!  And it feels awesome.

I wish I hadn't been such a horrible procrastinator, but it is great to finally start crossing some really old items off of my list (this was so old it wasn't even ON any lists anymore).  Maybe this momentum will last, and I can git-more-dun (that doesn't work, does it?).

Off to slay the clutter dragons!

Monday, April 18, 2011

I heart Freecycle.

Have you heard of Freecycle? It's a network (organized by geographic area) that allows people to post items to give away (for free -- never for sale/profit) or to ask for items they need. I love using it -- sometimes those weirdo items that I know won't sell at my garage sale or get picked up at the thrift shop can find their way into just the right homes (and you know I'm nutso about having my things go to "good" homes). Besides -- it's free!

I've gotten rid of a lot of items via Freecycle. My favorite part are the "wants" which I read faithfully, hoping that one of my sacred clutter items could be loved by someone else. Once someone posted that he needed a specific kind of kitchen stool and he posted a photo. I had EXACTLY that stool in my closet where it had sat, untouched (except by dust) for 5 whole years. I know this because I put it there when I moved to this house and haven't used it since. I don't know why, but I couldn't bear to part with it but as soon as I knew someone needed it it went!

If you are having trouble getting rid of unusual/random/strangely specific items, try Freecycle! Be safe, though -- remember that it's a public forum and not everyone on there is a Boy Scout.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Farewell Friday: The Tin

On Fridays I say farewell to something that left my house during the week.  Here's today's Farewell Friday item....

I have this thing for tins.  Even tins that aren't pretty!  There's one in my kitchen that I LOVE (I mean I seriously smile whenever I look at it - I will write about it soon).  There are some recipe tins scattered throughout the house.  And some decorative ones that hold spare change in the living room.  they are awesome.

But sometimes a tin just has to go.  This one came with some makeup I recently bought:

And even though it's clean/useful/etc. I am letting it go!  Farewell, tin!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Wrap it up.

I live in an old house which, strangely enough, has LOTS of closets (I know lots of old houses don't have nearly enough). 

This is great, because I have lots of storage space. 

This is bad, because I have lots of storage space. 

You get it. Anyway, in one of my closets I've got a bookshelf that holds wrapping paper/bows/gift tags/etc.  It is a scary place:

When I need to wrap a present I sometimes buy NEW PAPER because that closet it so hard to get to.  I know, this is not something to be proud of (and believe me, I'm not).  Today I whipped it into shape.

What do you think?

I found some awesome tissue paper that I didn't even remember buying, some great bows (foil -- very pretty) and some adorable gift bags that will be perfect at Christmastime.  And the best part?  That turquoise and brown felt bin FINALLY found a home.  And it's actually exactly the right thing!  Perfect size, the handle makes it easy to slide in and out, and it stores tissue paper without damaging it (and vice versa).  Ahh.  Feels good.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Going to a better place.

I have a lot of clutter that I simply must absolutely keep because they are of Vital Importance.  You know what I mean; I'm sure you have some of these items as well.  And then suddenly, when someone comes along who can use and enjoy these items, they fly out the door.  I guess I just need to be absolutely certain they have a good home until I can release them (remember the bear?).

This happened to me this weekend.  I upgraded a small TV/VCR combo to a TV/DVD combo.  The old one still works (a few quirks but lots of life in it) and I found a friend who wants to have it.  Awesome! 

A few months ago I was decluttering my TV cabinet and found a bunch of VHS tapes that I just couldn't bear to part with (because, you know, My Cousin Vinny is a classic that I was sure to pass on to future generations).  Now that I'm giving this TV/VCR to a friend, suddenly a bunch of these VHS tapes are eminently let-go-able!  I guess that knowing someone will watch these and actually enjoy them (I still have a VCR but never use it) makes it easier to let them go.  Even the ones that I was certain I'd NEVER EVER get rid of (again, you know the feeling, right?) were easy to add to the bag since I knew they were going to someone who not only wanted them but was looking forward to getting them.

I have a sneaking suspicion a few more tapes will join these later today, too.......

Friday, April 8, 2011

Farewell Friday: The Green Bag

Hear ye!  Hear ye!  I have officially designated Fridays to be "Farewell Fridays" so we can celebrate the clutter that has been banished from the land.  I realized that I don't always show you guys what I actually get rid of and that is one of my favorite parts of the clutter blogs I love to read!

Here's our first Farewell Friday item:

I bought this purse at a local discount store and LOVED IT ON SIGHT.  Apple green (the picture doesn't do it justice), patent "leather," awesome. Unfortunately, one can't really test drive a purse until you have it home/filled/carry it for a week.....and so I sadly learned that even though this is the Cutest Bag in the World it really is hard to use (something about the long zipper -- hard to get stuff in/out).  Off to eBay land it goes.

What did you say farewell to this week?

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Got five minutes to kill? Clean the toilet.

Once I was talking to my dad and told him I had 5 minutes until a friend picked me up and didn't know what to do with myself.  He said, "if you ever have 5 minutes to kill, go clean the toilet.  You'll never be sorry."  There are two ironic things about this story.  First, my dad doesn't clean the toilets in his house (my folks have an arrangement where he does "outside" and she does "inside").  I don't know that he has ever cleaned a toilet, actually.  The second irony is that apparently once in my life I truly DIDN'T know what to do with an extra five minutes.  Crazy.

Anyhow, the point of all of this -- and the reason why I remember his advice, after all of these years -- is this:  when you have a minute to spare, doing a small/concrete/completable task will ALWAYS be a smart idea.  You could waste that time or you could do something useful that you will be glad for later (who's sorry that their toilet is clean?  No one!).  Some tasks don't take long at all -- but if you have 10 of those tasks to do, that time can add up.  Scattering them throughout the day/week/whatever can really lower the stress level and the perceived amount of time it takes to get these things done.  5 minutes here and there?  Do-able.  3 hour block of cleaning on a Saturday afternoon?  Not nearly as fun.

Another point to make here - sometimes that 5-minute task can actually be something FUN!  If you are really stressed, anxious, etc. -- taking 5 minutes to flip through a magazine, or sit in a comfy chair and look out the window, or take a few minutes to play with a pet -- those activities are valuable too.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The kindness of strangers.

I promise that my other posts will be about clutter, but I had to write this one to thank you (my readers!  how wonderful to know I have readers!) for sharing my clutter journey with me.  When I started this blog one month ago I hoped to create a place to share what I was doing and what I struggled with.  I hoped that some folks would eventually find me some day -- and maybe share their own stories, successes and challenges too.  I had no idea that from the very beginning I'd meet some wonderful people who not only read my blog but shared their thoughts in the comments, and that some kind fellow bloggers would even link to my site!  I was, and am, bowled over by the warm welcome you've all given me.  I've read blogs for years but didn't know, until I actually tried to write one myself, how much the reader visits, comments and links could mean.  What a heartwarming experience this has been! 

I am so very grateful to you all -- you who were "strangers" before and who are now people I can count as my online friends.  You've given me a real gift -- thank you. 


(ok, back to our regularly-scheduled programming)

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Break it down.

I have been writing lately about being overwhelmed and you guys have had some great suggestions.  Jessiejack wrote:

Sometimes when I get overwhelmed, I do what I call a QFC (QuickFire Challenge ala top chef) I write down the next immediate 5 things to do. That could be small or big things - like take out the trash, make that phone call or pay the bills. It has to be doable and concrete. For some reason, I calm down and focus better. If I'm feeling frisky I may even put a timer on!:)

I love that idea!  I tried it today and can tell you it worked. And the other thing she didn't mention is that it energized me to keep going -- and do 5 more!  I think sometimes if we are faced with a giant mess (or even a regular mess) it can look so huge and insurmountable that there doesn't seem like a way to get it taken care of.  Choosing five do-able things -- that you know you can complete immediately and with success, is an awesome way to begin to tackle the beast.

The other thing I love about JessieJack's strategy is that since they are quick and complete-able (yes, I made that word up) tasks, you will really start seeing a difference quickly.

Thanks for the awesome advice, JessieJack!   And thanks to ALL of you - you all have shared some fabulous comments -- thank you so much!  You rock.

Monday, April 4, 2011

I'm losing it.

Literally, that is.  I have reached a very bad place where I am starting to lose things!  This week (is it a full moon or something?) has been a strangely unproductive, stressful, and holy-cow-I'm-so-behind kind of week.  The cherry on that anxiousness sundae was that now I'm losing things!  My dad's birthday is this week and I lost his present!  I had a letter for a friend to mail -- lost it!  Had some shoes to return -- lost the receipt!  Lost it all.  One thing I don't typically do is lose things -- never have, don't know why.  But that lucky streak ended this week!  Of course, it wasn't life-ending or anything but did add to the stress level around here.

Those of you who have been reading my little blog can probably guess where the lost items were.......yes!  The Room of Doom.  I've been so busy that I keep tossing stuff in there to try and keep the rest of the house manageable.  Sounds great in theory but apparently that tactic has its flaws as well!

The moral of the story?  There isn't one.  But it does remind me that as I continue this de-cluttering journey there may be a day where I have LESS stuff for things to get lost in.  This journey, however slow and sometimes frustrating, is WORTH it.  I know it is!  And someday I'll see the benefits much more clearly.

Thanks for walking the path with me, guys!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Sunday Funnies.

I don't get to read the Sunday comic strips any more but this great image from a post on Jeri Dansky's awsesome blog, Jeri's Organizing & Decluttering News, gave me a chuckle.

image from Jeri's Organizing & Decluttering News

So cool, Jeri!  Sign me up!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Goodbye seems to be the hardest word.

You know those items of clutter that you don't use, don't need, aren't sell-able, and aren't worth anything? The ones that you cling to for some WEIRD reason that even you don't understand (yes, it always comes back to velcro clutter)?

Here's one of mine:

I have a few bears. Some are special (my teddy bear from childhood, a recent gift from a friend, the one that's great for hugging, etc.). Some are not (the ones that came with bouquets of flowers, the Beanie Baby that was a gift, the Commemorative Christmas Bear from So and So's Department Store). But they are still loveable and I just can't get rid of them until I know they have good homes.

{note: this issue holds me up a lot: needing things to go to "good" homes -- not sure what qualifies a home to be "good" but I waste a lot of time on it}

As usual, I come up with lots of bizarro reasons why I need to keep these things and usually they sit and gather dust for a scary amount of time. But I need to let them go! They aren't getting used by me and the longer they sit here the less useful they may be to other folks.  Stuffed animals are particularly hard for me -- not only do they have that sentimental attachment (some times) -- but I know a lot of places can't or won't take them so their future is pretty grim (the bears, not the thrift stores!).

How do you talk yourself out of this place? I'm still working on it.