2016 Clean Up Plan, Accidently on Schedule

In addition to making a list of habits to adopt this year I also made a list of twelve areas to clean.  Because I have done so much purging the last two years I wasn’t sure this was really necessary.  That was a crazy thought, there is always more to do.  I tried to keep it easy on myself though, frankly I am rather tired of getting rid of so much of my stuff.  It is rather stressful.  So here is the list:

  1.  Bathroom cabinets (I have straightened them up but not really gone through and tossed things.)
  2. Shred paperwork (I still have half a box to do)
  3. Clear out the file cabinet
  4. Shred again (see #3 🙂 )
  5. Add recipes and create index for recipe books
  6.  Print and put in album 2015 photos
  7. Purge digital photos
  8. Move photos to online storage
  9. Buy and assemble storage shed    Get ceiling storage racks for garage
  10. Sort out pool, garden and car items in garage
  11. Sort holiday totes in garage
  12. Sort other garage items

I broke down bigger tasks into smaller ones in the hope that would help get them actually accomplished with the goal being of completing one task a month.

Last week I realized it was the end of the month and I hadn’t even looked at the list much less picked a project for the month.  Oh crap.  But it turns out I was ahead of myself.  I actually had clear out the garage (again) on the list and had scheduled it for the last weekend in January.  The weather cooperated, there was no football to distract and as it turned out it took way less time than I thought it would.  Seems I didn’t need to break it down into three areas (months) but it is nice to have some wiggle room for the rest of the year.

I spent one hour on Friday clearing out all the shipping boxes from Christmas (taking advantage of it being recycle pick up day) and filling the trunk of my car with the items set aside for Goodwill.  I also sorted through one whole tote filled with random coaxial cables, lengths of telephone wire, extension cords etc.

On Saturday afternoon we spent three hours purging, stacking and rearranging.  After Christmas I did a good sort of the decorations and downsized by two bins so that task was already done. At the end of the day our large trash bin was full, we had more Goodwill items in the back of my husband’s truck and we could easily park our bikes in such a way as to still reach the items on the shelves.

Yes, we still have a lot of stuff but it fits okay.  No, it doesn’t look like the after photos in magazines.  It looks more like the before photo but to me it looks like a real family’s garage.  I have a little more room for my car which makes me happy and we can get to things without moving ten other things. (We don’t park our truck in the garage because it is too long.)

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Now you can see the garage floor!

We have an appointment next weekend to see if hanging shelves (from the ceiling) are possible.  If so we can clear up more floor space by moving the Christmas totes and other less accessed items up above.  Those hanging shelves could be the attic/basement storage I so dearly miss!

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Good-bye Books

I drove all the way to Mesa BY MYSELF last week.  My first solo road trip in years.  I had six boxes of books that I was ready to divest myself of. I took a few to our local used bookstore for store credit but still had more than one hundred books that I needed to find a home for.

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A filled car trunk

After much debate with myself over the merits and work of trying to sell on ebay or craigslist and exploring selling to Powell’s on-line I stopped and had a think.  The goal was to clear out the house a bit, not make money.  Of course a little extra cash right before Christmas is always nice too.  But I really didn’t want to spend the next six weeks trying to sell books.

In the end I decided to take my books to Half Price Books in Mesa.  I knew they would take everything and I probably wouldn’t make much money but the books would be gone and I would get a little cash.  My hope was to get between $100 and $150 dollars.  Plus I would have the added bonus of a little me time in the car.

Mesa is about a 2 hour drive.  I figured I would leave about 9:00a, about an hour to sell the books, have lunch somewhere and maybe stop at the new outlet mall on the way home.  Everything pretty much went according to plan.

I found the store with only one u-turn.  (In my world road trips always include at least one u-turn.)  Half Price Books bought almost every book with just a few slated for the recycle pile.  I was very excited to see that and was starting to think more money.  Especially when the woman apologized for it taking so long because I had so many good books.  But alas the total was only $90.  I felt a bit disappointed but reminded myself of my goals and hoped others would find pleasure in reading these books I was no longer interested in.

Starting the drive home I felt sort of hollow inside.  Had I just made a huge mistake?  I had expected to feel exuberant, thrilled with my “konmari”  progress, happy for some “found” money.  I left the radio off for awhile and puzzled over my feelings.  Maybe I was just sad to be letting go of some of my past?  Irritated at the thought that I would never have gotten rid of any books if I  still lived in Montana in a house with several  huge built-in floor to ceiling bookshelves?  Anxious about the step I had just taken toward my future small dream home?

I never had an aha that’s the answer moment.  Most likely my feelings are some combination of all of the above.  I decided to stop at Cracker Barrel for a late lunch.  I love browsing the store and thought it would cheer me up.  I had the fish special and afterwards took my time looking at everything in the store but I wasn’t tempted to buy anything.  I skipped the outlet mall too.  I am not really much of a shopper anyway and I felt exhausted.  I went to bed early still puzzled by my post book selling reaction.

I feel better today but  disappointed that I didn’t have a more euphoric experience.  My reaction to life is so strange sometimes.

The Domino Effect

I wish!

I wish!

I have been doing a stellar job of avoiding writing. I wrote for three straight mornings last week. On the fourth day I had to run some errands and with the current heat I greatly prefer to go in the morning. I haven’t written since.

Today I am blaming the public library.  My turn came for the book “the life changing magic of tidying up”.   I had to read it right away as I only have it for three weeks and the waiting list is still quite long.  So I read it.  I didn’t agree with everything but many of the ideas were very intriguing. My favorite is focusing on what you are keeping, not what you are getting rid of.   As you know I have been having a purgefest this year so I am always looking for helpful hints.

When I finished reading the book I was motivated to do some tidying!  I started with my bedroom and rearranged and refolded some of my clothes.  Everything fits so well and the whole closet looks crazy tidy.  I thought I was done purging yet I still came up with another bag of clothes to donate.  (I know, I couldn’t believe it either.)  Now all of my clothes are in my bedroom and in a permanent home except for my winter pajamas.  They were in my half of the playroom closet but are now in a smaller tote in the bottom of my bedroom closet.  Still haven’t quite figured out where to put them when it comes time to wear them but I have a few months before that happens.

After admiring my tidy bedroom this morning I came downstairs and looked at the kitchen with new eyes.  The kitchen is the one room where we have enough storage.  We also have a lot of counter space.  It is not crazy cluttered but I do wish it were a bit clearer.  So I decided to take everything off the counter, give it a good scrub and then take some time putting things back.  Until I had to take everything off I had no idea how much stuff was on there.  I thought it would fit easily on the kitchen table, not quite.

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Everything from the counter on the kitchen table…

 

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… plus the dish drain and bread box.

 

After cleaning the counter I decided to wait a bit before putting anything back.  I wanted to see how the counters looked empty and cogitate a bit on how I wanted them to look.  I went and watched an episode of “Mad About You”.  Then I put back the items I felt sure about where they belonged. This included the dish drain, jar of cookie cutters, treat jar for the dog and our cookie jar.  I got stuck on my small spice rack.  I really wanted to put it in the cupboard with the rest of the spices but it didn’t fit.  I looked at the two large cupboards where I keep food and spices.  Hmmm.

Love the lavender scent, almost made it fun to clean.

Love the lavender scent, almost made me enjoy cleaning.

 

So I decided to take everything out of those two cupboards and see if I could utilize the space better.  I wiped down the shelves and adjusted the height of one shelf and squinted at the spaces.  I surveyed what I had and thought about what I used most frequently.  I tossed a couple of really old items and was happy to find some items. I had plenty of space, I just had to figure out the smartest way to use it.

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At the start of removing items

 

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Lots of empty space in this cupboard.

 

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The after shot.  Time will tell how well it works.

 

With the food cupboards freshly filled I went back to the counter top.  I really didn’t want to put the small apple bookshelf back.  Hmmm.  I looked at the wire shelf in the window area.  I really didn’t like my purse there.  I loved the big window but always wished it was a little higher.  Maybe I could put the wire shelf in front of it anyway and move the trashcan down to the end where it makes more sense?

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The wire shelf before

 

I didn’t like the bread maker on the wire shelf either.  (It’s kind of hard to see in the picture, it is under the basket.) I tried putting it in the same cupboard I tried when I first bought it.  Still too tall.  Duh. But I could lay it down. Success!  I sorted out the dog’s basket and neatened the sunscreen pile.

Then I looked at the books on the apple bookshelf.  Did these books bring me joy?  Not really.  Did I ever use any of the recipes in them?  Not that I recall.  Was I ever going to read them again?  No. They were mysteries with a few recipes in the back.  Honestly, there was one recipe in all of the ten books that I used.  So I copied it and tossed the books in my sell box that I am collecting for Bookman’s. Then I looked at my cookbook bookshelf.  Anything I could purge there?  Of course.

 

Yes, I have a shelf just for cookbooks.

Yes, I have a bookshelf just for cookbooks.

 

Four hours later and the kitchen counter is less cluttered.  I must have done a good job because my seven year old walked into the room after school and was all amazed.  “This looks so different”.  I didn’t think it looked very different, but it does feel cleaner.  I was going to say “you be the judge”  but since I didn’t take photos of the counters before that may be hard to do.  But here is the end result:

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Kitchen overview

 

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I removed the breadbox, spice rack and small bookshelf.  I moved the copper canisters down to where the bookshelf used to be.

 

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Next to the sink  I added the radio from the wire shelf.  I used to keep my day planner and phone on the end but since this is where the dirty dishes get piled up.  It was a disaster waiting to happen.

 

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Now I keep my day planner and phone near the fridge.

 

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The wire shelf in its’ new location.

I am sort of afraid to get up tomorrow, who knows what the next domino will be!

Wardrobe Reality (Part II)

While the focus on my wardrobe has been primarily on purging I have recognized some needs as well. And there is now room in my closet for a few items. One area in particular is capris. By late September/October I am sick of wearing my shorts, even if the temps are still in the 90’s.  I find myself homesick for autumn. As a compromise I have begun building an autumn wardrobe for warm temperatures.  Just a few shirts in fall colors and capris. In my purging I had gotten rid of all my casual capris except for one pair. I have three pair of dressier ones that I wear to church or when I want to look a little nicer but I wanted a few more pair for around the house  and that seemed more suited to fall than summer. I got lucky at Goodwill and found two pair. Khaki Dockers that fit perfect and a denim pair that I need to get taken in a bit.

And then I looked at the J. Peterman catalog.  J. Peterman Owner’s Manuals are a recently acquired guilty pleasure.  I didn’t even know J. Peterman was a real company when it was on “Seinfeld”!  I love reading all the vignettes and imagine myself in the breezy dresses walking towards a café in Italy or France or Cape Cod. But actually wearing something from there in my real world, not so much.

When I was purging all my sweaters I promised myself that I could buy a light weight red sweater. Something that would look good at Christmas. And there in the catalog was a red summer sweater, made for cool nights on the beach. The reviews were good, it was on sale and I decided to buy it. And then, dark blue capris, perfect, exactly the addition I needed. How about a pair of rust colored hanging out pants?  I hadn’t sorted out my sweatpants yet but I thought a pair of new, less frumpy ones would be a good asset. And then there was the hooded sweatshirt. It was actually for men but reviews said it was cut small. It was like nothing I owned, striped and color blocked and on sale. Into the cart it went.

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Christmas in August!

When the package came it was like Christmas. The sweater was heavier than I expected, more like a medium weight, but that could be because it was 100 degrees when I was trying it on. I loved the fit, color and style and into the closet it went. Everything else fit as well and felt really good. I confess I have no  need for another hooded sweatshirt but I love the uniqueness and there is nothing even remotely like it in my closet.

I have to admit it feels really good to only wear clothes I love and that fit well.  I no longer dread getting dressed in the morning and I feel like my days are more productive now that I am not slouching around in sloppy workout clothes or humongous tee shirts.  For me at least my clothes affect my attitude.  Better clothes choices = better outlook.

Wardrobe Reality (Part I)

The focus of my purging this summer has been my wardrobe. The purpose of going through all my clothes has been threefold:

The first and primary purpose was closet size. This is the smallest closet I have had in decades, coupled with the fact that I have no attic or basement to store totes of off season clothes in.

A second purpose emerged as I realized how much stuff I have and how old most of it is.  It is not that I am a huge clothes shopper but over the last 10 to 20 years items accumulated.

Thirdly, I have come to accept that my wardrobe is set up for the wrong season. Until I moved to the desert southwest five years ago I had always lived in the northern tier of the nation. I had nine months of winter clothes.  Even in the summer one needed fleeces and jeans for at night. Now I barely need 3 months of slightly cooler weather clothes.  Actual cold weather clothes?  Maybe two or three days.

I have for the most part accomplished goal one.  All of my clothes except for one tote box  are in my bedroom closet or dresser.  This tote box is full of winter pajamas and is in my half of the playroom closet.  Goal two is done for my summer wardrobe.  I admit I am loving my pared down choices and I have not missed anything I’ve gotten rid of.  I am still a pretty casual dresser but no longer crossing the line into slobville.  (I can’t see the casual changing, after all I am a stay at home mom of a seven year old where it is going to be over 100 degrees everyday for the foreseeable forecast.)

And now we come to goal three.  I was going to wait until winter to go through my cold weather items but since I was on a roll I decided to give it a go.  I have a lot of sweaters.  Some heavy, some lightweight.  Cardigans and pullovers.  I  read a blog post about a woman who had a huge walk in closet and actually counted her clothes.  I thought about doing that but, nah I was happy with my summer outfits.  They fit neatly in the closet, I loved and was wearing everything I had.  Good enough,  I didn’t care about a number.

But sweaters?  I stopped and thought.  How many really cold days a year did we have here?  Not just cold but gray and rainy because even in winter the sun here is warm.  How many days could I wear a heavy pullover sweater?  Realistically only two or three plus my December trip to Flagstaff which adds another two to four days.  I looked at my pile of sweaters.  Hmmm.  I finally paired it down to five and it wasn’t easy.  I hated getting rid of sweaters I would wear if we had the weather for them.  I went back to the “would I buy it today” mentality and that did the trick.

I also  kept five heavy cardigans because I use them as my winter coats for walking my son to school in the morning and then walking the dog.    I also have nine lighter weight pullover and cardigan sweaters.  These get more wear as we seldom turn the heat on so I frequently wear a layer over my shirt in the mornings around the house until the sun warms things up.

It still seems like a ridiculous amount of sweaters for this climate.  I will see what happens this winter.  What I wear and what I love.  I will try and keep in mind how happy I am with fewer summer clothes.  Of course the forecast is for an El Nino winter, cooler and wetter so maybe this year I will need my sweaters.  It is a very comforting thought.