Monday, February 27, 2012

" Mommy, what do you do all day while we're at school?"My Day in Photos

Back in January as my kids were heading back to school after the break, they had asked me, "what do you do all day while we are at school?" Of course I sighed and told them, "I play with your toys all day!"

 Well, as I sent them off to school each day and dug into my daily task of digging out, I often thought of their question. I pondered,what did I do all day? How come, if I spend all of my time cleaning, it is never actually clean? I could tell that my husband also wondered. What does she do all day, of course there were things that he knew I did and that he was appreciative of. However, surely that must not take me ALL day. And! how come it is only fleetingly clean?

 I had already decided that indeed, there was too much. It was my resolution to figure out how to keep a clean house. My husband had long been saying it was a matter of too much stuff--although never really implementing a reduction effort. I had been working towards this goal of reducing and taking pictures to log my efforts--which were not immediately evident in looking at my surroundings. It was a way to make my work tangible after the stuff was gone, I could look at the pictures and say, "wow, I got rid of all that" even if the house was not in perfect order I had a record of my work. My husband kept poking fun at me with my pictures, when he would see me whip out my phone to take a picture of something I had decided to get rid of. He kept saying, "what are you going to do? write a blog? you should write a blog."

 After a particularly hairy night with the fam, I decided that I would not only take pictures of what was gotten rid of, but everything that I did! Of course this cut my efficiency way down. However, I was motivated to actually finish project. i.e. rather than putting some of the items on the counter away and then being distracted by the laundry , I finished the counter and washed it and took the photo. I then texted my husband with each accomplishment in real time. Ironically, I had done less actual work than an average day. Yet my husband kept texting back appreciative words of encouragement. When he arrived home, he was soooo impressed with all the work done.

 For the kids, I was just intending to sit down and show them the photos and tell them about what I did all day while they were at school. As I sat down for a glass of water and to check my e-mail before going out to the bus, I had the idea to make a slide show for them. The result is below. They thought it was great.

My Kind of Clutter and the ICE Age

If i had to categorize my kind of clutter, I would say it is of the 'I might need it one day variety.'  And you see I actually, almost convince myself that it is not really clutter, you've never heard this before....*drum roll here* is useful!!!!  Yup that is right, it is all good helpful stuff.

Pictures are helpful here for me.  I can snap a shot and then look at it as if it were a photo in a magazine.  Then let loose, and tell myself what I really see.  10 tubes of toothpaste.  Useful? yes....but it doesn't leave the space any less cluttered, especially sitting next to 10 new toothbrushes.
Now, and here is my excuse, my MIL is not very involved in our lives.  One thing she does do is make sure her son and grand children are clean!  If you can buy it at the drugstore, I am sure we have more than enough (we really do go through the toilet paper regularly--and THANK YOU! if ever she should find this blog, although I doubt that, as she she is not much for the internet and I can't find this blog when I google it with the exact phrases I have used to write it!)  At any rate, I hate to say "no" to anything she does do, because we are afraid that will be the last thing she ever does....but we are working on a way to let her know.

The other ironic thing is that a lot of the things she brings, we either use minimally or not at all, as they just don't fit our lifestyle.  In the meantime, I stash all of this perfectly good, useful stuff away. Because, say there is a natural disaster, and we cannot procure our usual supplies, these would all be swell!  Or we might have company in need.  And more than once I have told my husband, well we have the space, so what does it hurt to store it so that we don't have to spend money we don't have buying it at some future point...

only, I think we are running out of space.  AND I cannot keep things as orderly as I would like (isn't that well-put!?)

Sabretooth Crampon

By the way stop by my house if we hit the Ice Age, I have some crampons and Plastic boots--I have been down my dominant hand for 3.5 years now, so NO I have not been ice climbing or mountaineering lately, but I might need them one day, right?  Maybe this is "I didn't get enough use out of it" crap?  Or is it my two-handed fantasy junk?

Friday, February 24, 2012

Why the Clutter Out Box Works for Kids

We keep a little green plastic box under the kids art table.  The kids can throw any unused items in it at any time.  This works for them.

Yes, our Clutter Out Box is a Lego Bin!! so appropriate
Why It Works 
They don't have to ask where to put it or bring it to the garage, where I keep the outgoing items.  They know that if they put it in they never have to put it away again.  The item will sit there for a fair bit in case of any regrets either by themselves or by siblings.  This has not happened though, rather they have found that once an item is placed in the bin, they know they can live without it, and without even missing it.  It give me a chance to see what they decided to fling, in case it was an odd part to something of ours, or a toy set. 

 I also, sort items from the bin.  sometimes they don't want to throw away an art project, but no donation center would do anything but throw it away, and they don't need our trash.  Also, this gives me a chance to think on the waste we create, and have our children create.  I have been working toward not having the children spend their time, and our money, on projects that are just going to end up in the trash!  School is another thing....sooooo much waste.

As I am writing my daughter is sitting next to me working on a project kit she received for her birthday.  This is a better one.  she is making a headband-so it is something useful.  It looks to be of reasonable quality, and I think that it will be a useful item that will make her happy to know she made.  Still there is an awful lot of packing to dispose of.  Awareness is the first step.

  She is saying, "how do you type so fast, it clicks like every five seconds.  It is such a happy computer.  That computer is enjoying you."  Hmmm, interesting, the computer is happy to click?  Or is it happy because it has my attention?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Making Space!

I tackled another kitchen cabinet!  I went to get the cork screw this morning (to pull a rubber stopper from the cod liver oil)  and realized somehow our utensil drawer had become jam packed.  One look and I knew there were at least a few things that did not belong there.  Right on top was my husband's slider press.  Silly, yes, perhaps...he could use his hands to shape, and not this tool. BUT it makes him tremendously happy (just like the Legos my kids do not need), and he does use it frequently.  So for now it stays.  This is a process that everyone needs to be happy going through.

I figured i would just find it a new home, JUST?!  I could find no happy home.  Something had to go!  At first glance I saw nothing obvious to leave.  In fact, I thought I had done a pretty good job maintaining the kitchen stuff.  Not so.  I found this cabinet, and i set to work :)

I found a great Vitamix on vacation last year, and so the Osterizer has sat dormant ever since.  For Now--those fateful words, this will go to the camper and take the recently vacated place of the waffle maker.  We did really enjoy having smoothies while on vacation-they are simple, quick and nutritious.  Not sure if this one is up to the task, but if I am using it, and it drives me crazy I will be motivated to get rid of it.  Then I will just take our Vitamix with us, a bit of a hassle, but worth it.  I also found a new Oster lid that doesn't even fit this model!  I set it aside for a friend who has one that it might fit.

I gave the Brita Filter to my grandparents, I hope it turns out useful to them.  We have been using the more expensive fridge filter because it is there, saves space, and saves spills, also we drink a LOT more water that way.  Not sure about the waste issue with the filters....wonder if they could be recycled?  Or at least backwashed for reuse.  They do last a long time, and make a huge difference in our water taste.  At any rate I no longer needed the pitcher.

The 4 brown bowls are now in the donate box.  I do have a friend that has a similar set, but not sure if I will get them to her, which ever happens first is where they will go.  I also have a table cloth that makes me think of that same friend, and so I grabbed it out of my linen closet and threw it in with the dishes, it will either finally make it to her or not with the dishes---oh, it would make a good skirt though....

I would love to get rid of the Parafin Spa for hand wax....but the kids and their friends love it.  I recently refilled it--i know it is not a good step in waste reduction to use this product--but I bought the wax a year ago.  I will donate when this wax is all used up.  Maybe it will at least keep someone else from buying a new unit.  For the moment we will enjoy this gift from my grandparents (my grandfather's therapist thought it would help him with the pain in his hands, but he did not like it).

Well it felt like a lot more when I was doing it...but still I cleared off one whole shelf's worth of things in the process of finding a place for a 2"x4" by 2" tall slider press!!!

Monday, February 20, 2012

A Twist on Heirloom Guilt

I would like to think of one task to do tomorrow.  One 'doable' task.  See I am always thinking of lovely, grandiose ideas that take lots of planning and materials, and importantly discussions with my more cautious half.  Oh, and i tend to stack several large scale ideas together....i am sabotaging my efforts, yes?!  I make it so big it is impossible, and then i do nothing.

I am thinking that i could reasonably hope to reduce the clutter in my house by saying farewell to my late grandmother's old plant stand.  She used it for years, and it served her well.  However, she was living alone in 1600 +sqft.  and i have little more than that with 5 people.  A friend recently tripped over it, and had no qualms telling me it really had to go (she is also older and lives in a 2300+ sq. ft. house with just her husband).  Even before she said something i knew it didn't work.

That is why it started it's life in the garage.  Eventually it was moved to our small storage space above the garage.  Then, I was trying to make room up there, and came to my senses....sort of.  If I was going to keep it, it had to be useful...which I construed to 'put to use.'  I hauled it out, gave it a paint job, and set out to find some plants to set on it (it has never been full, I love plants, but outside).  I never did find a place that it 'fit'.  We just don't seem to have any extra space, and the whole endeavor has been wasteful.

Why?  Why am I keeping it?  Am I really sentimental over a plant stand?  Honestly, it is heirloom guilt, but not in the traditional sense.  There is a twist here.  If it was the association with my grandmother at issue, I would have taken a picture years ago.  No.  It is the guilt I feel when my mother realizes (and she will) that it is missing.  More than that it will be dealing with her over it, so I guess it is more like anxiety...not good.  It will go tomorrow...

But wait! there is more.  You see she has NO space left.  If I tell her i am getting rid of it she will want it back-and then i feel guilty to adding to the worthless things she is keeping (there is no way she could use it, hence  worthless).  My father will blame me for her bringing one more thing home.  Now if I don't tell her it is going and just get rid of it, she will be upset that I offed and 'heirloom.'  And no, there is no one else to pawn it off on--I only get the stuff that no one else would take, I am last in line.

UPDATE:  I talked to her and she agreed I could release this item!!!  It is gone!!!!!

Not Going Gandhi

For Christmas we received a new toaster oven.  Our old one was fine, but the giver felt it looked, well, used.  The minimalist producer of trash in me was not happy.  And the toaster sat in the living room for almost 2 months in its box.  I asked if we could return it, dh thought not for a myriad of reasons.

I reasoned we could please the giver and use the new one.  The old one could find a new home with someone who needed it.  I have to confess I considered keeping it, to cook the kids modelling projects in.  That clay always says it should be kept separate from your food prep areas.  Thing is I don't trust that clay.  We have had it in a shoe box since we bought a 'few' packages back in college for some projects.  We did break it out the other day for our sons school project.  Please note that 4 months after project completion the whole thing has ended up in a landfill!

One look at our storage area proved there was no space for it.  I put the new box on the counter and told my dh the plan. We discussed it and he thought the toaster oven for his work place could improve his lunch choices, so it was decided. 3 days later it was still there and my dh took it upon himself to swap it out and took it to work.

At first I was immensely pleased at the action.  Then I noticed the little dent in the corner, sorry, it bothered me, my old one was not dented!  I did not use it that day. The following day I was over the dent and we began using the toaster oven.  It was terrible, there was no 'toast' button, so the kids had to turn the dial to start it for reheating their pancakes, etc.  The dial was so stiff that a tremendous amount of effort had to be put into it and then the dial went way to far, but was near impossible to turn back.  They had to stand there and watch it cook, when done take it out, and then unplug it.

Of course, with all of the things that they have on their mind (legos, dolls, play , ................getting ready for school), I knew it was just a matter of time before they forgot something and start a fire.  I called dh, and explained the problem.  He agreed that he would bring the old toaster back.  He was not pleased, it felt awkward to take it back even though we fully intended to switch it out with a new one. Several days later he had made the switch.

We learned something for the hassle.  First, if possible do not replace something that works for something 'new'.  It is wasteful of money and time, and you are promoted use of resources to produce something that is not truly needed.  Second, if you do replace something, give yourself a buffer period to be sure you made the right choice before sending out the old.  We often do this with the box of new products too, keep them for a few weeks--but we really are reducing the number of occurrences of new in our home.  Luckily in this case, we hadn't donated it and were able to remedy the situation without further purchases

We had made a similar mistake a few years ago. Every time that I use our tiny shop vac I wish that i had kept the rigid hose extender that went with it.  Upon receiving the new vacuum I promptly marched down the stairs and brought the old one to the curb.  I had even taken the time to write a not to would be takers there was a crack that needed repair.  THEN I went and used the new one, which had only flexible hose, and nowhere to hold on!  by the time I got to the curb it was gone :(

I know for a Blog about Simply Reducing there is a lot about purchasing in this post.  Remember I am on a Journey, and hope to get there.  And I simply want to reduce my waste, not go Ghandi.  Also, you can tell how much thought I give to new things--at least sometimes, and that is a step in the right direction.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Simply Reduce Diet

The real, real beginning of this blog, what got me thinking and moving in the direction of change, was our diets.  My husband and children have an allergy to corn.  Yeah, corn, and living in the US that pretty much translates to; my family is allergic to processed, prepared foods.  Tough yes, but a blessing.  We have eaten much better than we might have ever otherwise.

When you start trying to figure out something like a corn allergy you think it is mind-boggling.  That is until it leads to the question of what 'should' we be eating, and then your brain really starts going to mush!  There are so many conflicting theories and data out there.  Raw? Vegan? Vegetarian? Grain-Free, Bean-free, gluten-free, Phytic acid, Paleo, high-protein, no carb .....oh, my! Guess we'd better stick to air and water--oh, wait that is too polluted!

I have always been fascinated at the variation of food that humans ingest.  I did some biological research on an NSF scholarship, and if I fed those tiny little critters (you couldn't even see them) even a few grains of the wrong food you could kill them--they didn't just adapt for a while!  Humans have had such a varied diet throughout history.  Researches tell us one thing based on this high carb diet here, and the opposite of this group who ate no carbs. How can we make heads or tails of conflicting information.

I don't currently have any specific links (feel free to post them in the comments) about such studies.  Now that I am writing this blog, I will have a place to put them when I do come across them.

Across the board, from what research I have seen, wide-spread obesity is a relatively new trend.  So maybe we should change our approach.  Maybe not look at what they were doing right, but what we are doing that they did not.  And maybe, these specific diets that cut out food groups entirely are the opposite of what we need.  After all, is it not the variation of our food that allowed our species to thrive as it has?

My theory is that we NEED the variation.  What we should reduce are the processed foods and the preservatives that are inhibiting our bodies natural processes.  So grains that are made into highly processed and preserved foods should probably not represent the bulk of our diet.  But it is also perhaps not necessary, or even perhaps healthy to cut our grains out all together, just simply reduce them to make room for other nutrients.

The Simply Reduce processed foods, preservatives, refined sugar product, pesticides, genetically modified, antibiotic-laden foods Diet!  Completely doable!  You won't fail, because it's allowed, your goal is to simply reduce, one choice at a time.

Failure to Reduce : Legos My Nemesis and Obsession?

While on and off efforts to reduce the ' house load ' have preoccupied me, I have alternately collected Legos for my son.  He loves them.  They make him happy.  I want him to be happy...and quiet (sometimes)...he is amazingly creative with them (and often quiet).

Today he built his sister a little Lego kitchen!  It was so sweet---I should grab a photo of that.  While he was doing that she was pretending to be a dentist-washing his mouth with a (pretend) mystery medicine that was dispensed from an elephant, but that didn't seem at all strange to big brother.

I know that more is not always better.  There is too much of a good thing.  I think we might be drowning in Legos. BUT we are happy doing it, mostly.

We have one room that was the music and study room that is now mostly the lego train room.  The desks moved to the dining room, because, well there just was not room for them in that room, what with the train tracks and associated city.  The family room, or toy room, has now been completely inundated with the Legos too (but they are out of the kitchen and dining room).  We tried having them in the cellar play area.  However, we found that unsupervised King Kong was visiting and destroying.  This left a very frustrated boy and very messy legos that would then scatter and end up destroyed as they were ground into the cement floor.

Oh, and my husband and i have spent more nights than I want to admit sorting and building Legos.  Some because it needs to be done, but mostly because we enjoy it.  Strange, but we prefer to say going to the movies most nights.

Wooden Lego Sorting Station
We have been through many iterations of Lego Organization.  We do like the paper sorting Cart with multi-colored drawers.  We have 2 of those.  There was a nice wooden sorting station, we liked it because it was very easy to access.  It was a good station when our collection was a more reasonable size, so i think that we will be selling it ($10 in pocket is better than something that is not working for us right now....but then i think maybe i could use it somewhere else...).

Organizing carts we now are using...
In another post I may become brave enough to walk around and actually take pictures of all the Lego stashes we have....perhaps laying it all out on the same page will motivate me to do something about them...I know, I know, I need to reduce.

Perhaps I should ask my son his opinion, after all from what I have seen posted out there, I am going against the grain with my post about involving the children in minimizing our belongings...

Refuse and Worth : A discussion

Google "refuse"
and this is what you get:


Indicate or show that one is not willing to do something.
Matter thrown away or rejected as worthless; trash.
verb.  decline - deny - reject - repudiate - disallow - repulse
noun.  trash - garbage - rubbish - waste - litter - offal

Is it not interesting? We need to refuse refuse!!  That is we need to Just Say No to worthless items!

If we don't accept things that we don't need, that add no 'worth' and are hence 'worthless', to our lives and our homes we simplify our lives.  We save our money and keep our houses cleaner.

I think that the only confusing part of this concept is the term 'worthless.'

How are we going to define worthless.  Here in lies the trap!  Watch a hoarding show like this one on You tube, A Hoarding Documentary
Just watch the first bit of documentary and you will quickly understand on the far end of the spectrum how everything can seemingly have worth to certain people.  The on of the first items discussed by one hoarder is a pair of  "perfectly good trousers.  the only problem is this one tear..."  He and his wife disagree, she would throw them away, as they are useless.  He argues they have worth, just sew up the tear and they could be worn again many times.

I agree they could have been worn!  If they had been patched and worn that would have been wonderful!  keep them out of landfill, reduce resources used to produce and transport new pants, and saves some money!  But once they have been replaced, and then squirreled off some place to take up space, they no longer have that value.  They are worthless, and worse more resources are being used to house that item!

I know, we hate land-filling....but....perhaps we could all buy cotton and wool and compost worn out clothes.  Recall that even 100 years ago natural fiber were made into clothes, and when too worn for wearing quilts would be made from the remnants!  Check out the quilt my son recently made from his outgrown shirts that could not be passed on,  and some salvaged material from the 70's.  We opted for a meaningful keepsake, with many uses instead of investing many hours into another disposable project for his latest book report.

Now you can see by the documentary gentleman's house that he has applied his 'worth' theory to many, many, many items, and they have filled his home.  So perhaps if we can teach ourselves more definitive theory of 'worth,'
we could find balance in order to simplify our lives.  For me something has worth only if I am going to use it, if it is currently serving a purpose in my life.  The most obvious use is utilitarian--something i use frequently in some way.  Other purposes could be happiness, but here again the waters get murky.  Many will claim the stuff makes them 'happy'  of course that is another long post! For me, if seeing an item makes me happy, and that is it, I don't actually use it, then I take a picture and gleefully let go!  I know that picture is there for me should i wish to enjoy it, and now get to have my space too!

Declutter with Kids : A Strategy : Cleaning Out the Toy Closet

Declutter with the kids, not for them.

In talking to a neighbor mom just a few days ago I was reminded of the wisdom in this.  She had  Freecycled1 a bunch of her child's stuffed animals a few years ago.  He still brings it up to her, "do you remember when you got rid of my stuffed animals?!"  By simply asking them to make the choice you are giving them control.  You are telling them you trust and value their Judgment, a word on that later, and teaching them to make decisions. And do you know that feeling of success you get when you make that decision while clearing some space? You are sharing that feeling of success!

All those valuable, positive emotions verses the negative emotions you would feel if someone came in and just got rid of your stuff.  You might feel someone tricked you, pulled out the rug while you were not looking.
An overall feeling of loss, loss of trust, loss of control, loss off stuff.  That all equates to wanting to hold on to stuff to stay in control.

We are in this state of purging right now.  It is spring, and there is also a motivating consignment sale for children's paraphernalia.  I have taken the road of asking for the children's input. There are pros and cons of including your family in decluttering.


  • done as a family, promotes working together
  • values the child's input
  • teach valuable life lessons 
  • promotes trust
  • motivations to 'get it done' while everyone is there
  • takes some decision-making weight off of your shoulders


  • you have to wait until everyone is home, and sometimes, cannot finish before someone has to leave, for me this is probably the biggest sticking point
  • everyone has to agree on what goes and what stays
I suppose my choice is obvious, please comment if I have missed any salient points and I will add them.  Below I will try to outline what strategies I have utilized in decluttering with the children, first I will list the strategy, and then I will expound upon them.

  1. let them see you decluttering areas that do not involve their things to set a good example, be sure you 'seem' to be having fun!  And show them the difference you have made.
  2. Set a time
  3. Explain what your objective is 
  4. Help them set a goal
  5. Keep it positive and fun,
  6. try to refrain from imposing your choice

1.  Let them see you decluttering areas that do not involve their things to set a good example, be sure you 'seem' to be having fun!  And show them the difference you have made.  This is modelling the behavior you want to see, and getting important things done.  It is hypocritical to ask them to keep their things to a reasonable, tidy quantity if you are not doing the same.  The reasons they should do it are the same that you should.

This modelling was the impetus behind my emptying the cabinet over the fridge, see this post

2.  It will be very important to set a time to tackle a specific area, as you will want to be sure everyone is home.  We have to schedule around work, sports, social and school events.

3.  Explain what you want to achieve and why.  This can be tricky with children, who might just think that if the toys don't fit in the closet, why not just keep them in the laundry baskets, it seems to work just fine...
So you might need to convince them, selling points would be explaining if they no longer have some of the items, they will never have to pick them up again!  Making room for new things, and room to play, as well as having a tidy house to have friends over.

I recently allowed the children to watch a short clip on Youtube as to what could happen to a house if everyone in it chose to keep everything and never put things away.
We watched How Clean is Your House-Blame The Kids

I was nervous letting them see it.  We don't watch much TV in our house in the first place.  On top of that was the thought that they could maybe take away the idea that I should be the one doing everything, although they already have that idea, who knows where they got it.  When it comes to their things though, I think they very much want to have a say, but as far as the day to day chores go they would be quite pleased to have me do it all.  Overall I think it really inspired them to want to keep a clean home, and importantly to reduce the amount of stuff they have to take care.

In the future, should the need for further motivation arise, I will show them The Story of Stuff
It is a great video about stuff and what its true cost is.  I will probably introduce this to them either for an Earth Day Project or when I get to the point where I am asking them to start Refusing Stuff.

4.  Help them set a goal.

So they will know that there is going to be an achievement, they can succeed.  We just cleaned out the toy closet.  So the goal was to reduce the amount of toys to a 'reasonable number' and so that the door would shut!  We had been discussing what a reasonable number of dressing up outfits would be and first decided 2 each, after all you can only wear one at a time.  Then once we removed them all from the closet and tried to make decision, they wanted 5 each.  But there was concern if they would all fit in an organized manner. So 3 was agreed, but in the end there were 4 each.  As the goal was to reduce, and we had a huge bag leaving, and to have it be organized, they all fit more than comfortably.  So a compromise had been reached and the goal achieved.  It is good to model this flexibility and reasoning, we ask it of them all the time, when suddenly they are at the bank on the way to a birthday party.

5.  Try to keep it Positive and Fun.
This activity will be what you make it.  Every moment of childhood is precious.  With that in mind, it is useful to have an adult partner in this activity, so if you become frustrated they can bolster the positivity while you regain perspective.  This happened with shelves of games, they were on the top three shelves and then shoved in on top of things on the other shelves.  So we knew we had to reduce.  But how to agree?!

Make it a game.  We made it a voting game. Everybody had a say, "put your finger on your nose if you want to give this game away!"  Inevitably there were times when the vote was decided.  Often-times though, the odd man our would see the dissension and simply change their vote-yes, a little peer pressure.  But what good is a game if no one wants to play it with you? Sometimes we weighted voting power.  If someone had a special attachment to an item even though everyone else wanted it to go  (often when it was a specific child's toy, when most toys are 'for sharing') it was put in the 'Thinking Pile.'  If there is enough space they ultimately make the decision to keep or not.  Interestingly, they often had decided that they didn't really want it, they just didn't want other making the decision to get rid of something that was specifically theirs.

We brought humor to the table by asking, "if you want to keep this game (a known favorite) pat your head while touching your nose....all right and rub your belly too!"  It was great fun watching them try to rub their bellies with their feet!

6.  Try to refrain from imposing your choices.  This can be hard.  And really, isn't it our job to guide our children's decisions?

I wanted to empower my children, to let them feel in control of their surrounds by involving them.  Their choices are often not what we would choose.  There is a bit of balance involved in this act.  If I know that they are not going to use it I will try to help them see this, so that they are still making the choice.  I have found that an effective way to do this is keep having them look at the pile of games and ask, "if I was going to play 1 game with you right now, which one would you choose?  Not this one? If I was going to play another, which would it be?"  This worked.

daughter posing at MOM's Tree house for sale photo
There are some instances when they tell you they are done with a toy that you are not ready for them to be done with.  Perhaps it is a toy you love, or spent a lot of money on, you have to let them let go.  I know, it's hard.  We just sold this tree house, I was so sad , i had been hanging on to it, unplayed with for months, even thought they kept telling me they were done.

 I loved it.  I liked looking at it, arranging the furniture.  All visiting children were drawn to it, but not mine, they were done.  Other parents always complimented it...
Now that it is gone they don't miss it and they have taken some old toys out of the closet and set them up in its place.
This set up was played with more in 1 day than with that tree house had been played with in months.

Here is the outcome of our efforts!  Now we can put away some of the things that formerly did not fit!  Look at all that space.  I wish I had taken a before picture, there was no space, literally packed.

We got rid of a big bag of costumes
and stacks of games - about 20 of them, along with some other miscellaneous things.  some Instruments and infant toys (we were keeping them 'for company').

1.  Freecycle is a great Yahoo Group where you can connect with locals to give away useful items that are not worth selling.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Get Rid of It

The Get Rid of It tab at the top is a photo library where i will be posting pictures of things.  Certainly not all of them, I know I have already missed boatloads--when you are in the mood to fling, sometimes you don't want to slow down for photos.  Other times, it seems like such a herculean effort to clean out and part with items that you want to memorialize your success and share it.
stuff that was on loan that is ready to go back with its owner
and a few Christmas present that were found on top of the Piano...

I will try to post a picture and the thinking behind why it left our home.  Sometimes i will add where it is going and/or why.  I hate to waste, and hate to send things to the landfill...

"Put it in the 'get rid of its'!"  That is how it was phrased by my mother.  I still think this, but in practice we have been using a green Lego bin in the kids area where they can simply put anything they no longer want to have to clean up.

Right now I in the middle of a real purge, I will have another post on that in the near future.  For the first time the kids have really been involved--and i think that they are enjoying it.

I also, added an About Page, so you can understand what I am presently trying to accomplish with my blog.  First and foremost, this has to be something that I want to do, as I am not sure that anyone else (save my poor husband, who almost chided me into writing a blog by joking i should write a blog because what else would i do with my photos of stuff i am getting rid of) will ever read this.

Happy I am to try.

Is this a sustainable practice time will tell...will I run out of things to get rid of, run out of other things to reduce and simplify?  At this point I don't think so, but it is nice to believe that it might be possible to 100 percent achieve this goal.  

Bacon Grease Enlightenment

Two posts in one day, wow! off to a crazy start, but wanted to update on what i have accomplished.

I have finished the cabinet and will have to take a new photo.  Some paper goods went down to easily accessed storage, but not my prime kitchen space.  Some went out to our camper...maybe i will use it when we are not 'hooked-up' ; but to be honest, I usually have enough reusable dishware to just use it while we are on the road and stack it in the dish pan until we get to water--and if I know we are having several meals, a couple of gallons of water will wash the dishes--there is just plain no excuse for me to waste trees and energy! And that is why I ended up with thousands of disposables.

I have also just put away my first ever bacon 'drippings.'  With dreams of seriously reducing our waste, this was an effort.  Before we had kids i had one small grocery bag every 2 weeks or so...

My husband was very skeptical when told that soap could be made from it, not sure he wanted to smell like bacon.  I saw this idea on Zero Waste Home  a very inspiring site I came across a few days ago and spent last night reading.  Sorry that is not a direct link to the bacon comment--although it was really just mentioned that the grease was saved for soap, rather than thrown in the trash.  The recipe is rather simple and like the soap-making at Old Sturbridge Village where the fat is mixed with a lye and water mixture.
 After a quick search on bacon grease while it was cooling, an amazing number of uses for bacon were revealed--such as pie crust.  This site convinced him it was worthwhile

He was onboard, as we have been talking about simplifying our foods by reducing the amount of processed foods we eat, especially the scary stuff like "shortening," preservatives, and L-cysteine (human hair found in bread--seen yesterday in a Yahoo article-don't have that link handy). 
bacon drippings

It is not much bacon grease, and we don't eat too much of it, so one cooking foray should use it up.  Should i amass enough to actually make soap, I will be sure to post both the adventure and the outcome here.  If this is something you have experience with, please comment, I'd love to hear.

Challenged by 100 Things : Paper Goods Overload

half-emptied cabinet

I have been working to simplify my life for some time.  At first thought this should be a SIMPLE process but no....

I actually started a reduce 1000 things challenge through the Ravelry site years ago, and it caught on!  I was posting so much on Freecycle that people were sending requests, and some people (not sure what their angle was?!)  Even wrote to ask if i would ever be done posting.

Then i saw the 100 thing Challenge, and didn't even *want* to attempt it LOL!

Well today I realized that for someone who detests waste, I had an entire cabinet devoted to paper goods!  My MIL loves disposable :(  I try not to start a war, so i simply accept and stash...not working.  I do love to volunteer to bring these items to events that i know that i cannot get them to change their ways, i.e. school parties--but there just are not enough!  So I started using it when my MIL came, which did use some, and pleased her greatly.  However, it simply fueled the fire, and she brought more :(
What  was removed from cabinet in above photo-and the beginning of a blog

Today I decided that I would:

1.  politely show my MIL my stash and let her know that we would "let her know when we need more"

2.  Move the whole lot into a "module"   
      Previously I referred to these as boxes, and had been using this technique of limitation prior,but
      found Miss Minimalist Blog last night)  I will keep one box and  
      donate the rest.

3. Get the stuff that I use more often often the top of the fridge and into the cabinet  :)

as the paper goods pile on the kitchen floor grew I looked down and laughed at the thought of the 100 Thing Challenge!  I think that I have more than 100 Paper goods items alone....well, if you count each separate item I am sure there are thousands, but if you count each package of items maybe i could squeak in under 100 check out the photo.  I decided to sit down and start a blog I have been thinking about to log my progress instead of counting...

Now I am off to finish the task.  My hope is that this blog will keep me accountable.  Perhaps it could even help motivate another by sharing my journey.

Update:  see pictures of the finished cabinet in the Bacon Grease Enlightenment Post!  Where I ponder the appropriate use of disposable dishes.  Also, I really only *reduced* about 10 bowls, where the water-proof finish had delaminated, these were tossed into the trash unused!