Monday, February 7, 2011

You've Been Stimeyed!

When you're serious about decluttering, you always need to keep your eyes and ears open for opportunities to dump your stuff on other people.

I pretty much have this down to a science.

For example, who thinks this is something you could dump off onto a hapless friend?

Note hapless friend's arm behind the jug.

This gallon of distilled water has been in my cabinet since the tadpole days, but we don't use distilled water for anything else, so it's been sitting in there for almost a year. I can't throw it out because it's perfectly good water. Who throws out perfectly good water? Yet I'm afraid to drink it. I don't know why, I just am.

Well, when my friend was over and talking about her daughter's science fair project, she mentioned that she had to buy some distilled water in which to grow some samples of...something.

Hapless friend, you've just been Stimeyed.

The irony of the whole situation is that they eventually decided to not do the science project for which they needed the water (something about a fear that her younger daughter would somehow be poisoned by poking at, sniffing, or otherwise ingesting toxic matter), so now the jug is in HER cabinet.*


Total items: 1

* Unless, of course, she has the strength of character to just throw it out.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Colorful Trash

Remember how I cleaned out the craft cabinet a while back? Don't worry, it's not messy again yet. I did, however, forget to mention a couple of things I got rid of when I did a quick first pass prior to the clean out.

I mention them because they were difficult for me to get rid of. Let me explain. The first explanation starts almost four years ago.

When Jack turned four years old, we had a water balloon target practice at his birthday party. For some dumb reason, we didn't bother to fill up the water balloons until late the night before the party and then, for some reason, we did it outside.

It was a valid reason, but I have no recollection of what it was.

Regardless, Alex and I sat outside in the DARK for probably an hour filling dozens of water balloons, for what we knew would be a ten-minute activity. Naturally, there were many balloons we ended up deciding we didn't need. Those balloons—and apparently a piece of sidewalk chalk—have been taking up space in my craft cabinet ever since.

Needless to say, we will not be having that activity at a party again, because although it was a HUGE success and we all loved it, it was a HUGE pain in the ass. Occasionally, my kids ask for water balloons and I think about it and I decide that I really don't want to spend a minute on each balloon that will take them a nanosecond to destroy.

I'm sorry, planet Earth, but I had to just throw these away. I promise to not buy them again.

In similarly bad-to-throw-away news, I have rubber bands. I rarely use rubber bands, but occasionally I need one and nothing else will do, so I try to keep them around. Apparently, I keep them in this little green box...

...even though everyone knows that the rubber band ball is the far superior way to contain them.

I have a rubber band ball, so I got rid of the loose rubber bands.

Instead of pushing my luck by counting each individual item, I'm going to go with four—water balloons, rubber bands, sidewalk chalk, and the spigot thing for the balloons (because even though it comes with each packet of balloons and even though I swore I would not buy water balloons again, part of me was all, "but this is a USEFUL ITEM").

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Alex Gets in on the Act

On Monday, I was home with Sam, Jack was at a playdate with a friend, and Alex took Quinn to Target. They came home with some medium size ceramic plates and some glass glasses. He immediately set about removing all of our mismatched and assorted plastic plates, cups, and bowls from the cabinet.

Evidently he's tired of all the plastic.*

I saved a few of the bowls that I know we need, even if he doesn't. (You need small plastic bowls to mete out goldfish crackers at playdates.)

Here's what we agreed upon getting rid of:

Inspired, I got rid of a couple of other things as well:

Normally I wouldn't count things that I got rid of but then replaced with something else, but I'm counting these because the change in the look of the cabinet is extreme. Also, there is more that we got rid of than we added. Double also, I got rid of a bunch of ink cartridges by putting them in the ink recycling bin at Target and I forgot to count them, so I'm counting these instead.

Total items: 25

* It was actually kind of timely. At the same time Alex was buying the new dishes, there was a grownup professional person at our house and I had to give him water in a plastic cup with a picture of a snowman wearing a Santa hat on it.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Craft Cabinet Door Isn't Ajar Anymore

Not too long ago I wrote about cleaning some old food and stuff out of my snack cabinet. At the time, it occurred to me that I was using a large cabinet for not much stuff and that I could better utilize that space. Considering I have a couple of cabinets with too much stuff, I decide to consolidate my snack food with some of my other food and move my craft supplies over to the former snack cabinet, thus leaving the former craft cabinet free for dishes.

Follow that?

I have two crafty cabinets in my kitchen, one below the counter and one above the counter. Both were full to the brim. In fact, the bottom one stayed ajar about a half inch because of all the crap in it. The reason for this is because my craft cabinet was going to be the first thing I decluttered when my kids went back to school, so I just kept cramming things in there without worrying about organization.

Well, seeing as how it is January, I obviously didn't do it first.

These cabinets need regular decluttering because of the nature of using things and replenishing things.

This morning, schools opened two hours late because there was an inch of snow on the ground (don't even get me started), so while my kids destroyed the house, I cleaned out and organized my craft cabinet.

Naturally, I forgot to take before photos, but rest assured that it was a scene.

I was ruthless and got rid of all the little projects that I assumed we would do someday. I decided that if I had given an art project to my kids for Easter and hadn't done it? It probably wasn't going to get done. All of those went into the donate pile. I'm sure that someone somewhere will do them.

I also got rid of a lot of junk. I don't know how there was so much junk in there, but I found a lot to recycle—for example. a couple of pieces of cardboard that I thought would be fun to draw on, but because my kids refuse to draw on anything but clean paper, just sat there. I also recycled some activity books that had been mostly done and then forgotten.

I threw away a bunch of little containers that seemed like they would be useful to store things in, but really just took up a lot of space.

I tried to talk myself into getting rid of a bunch of foam stickers that I had, but I just couldn't yet. Instead, I consolidated them into a Ziploc bag instead of leaving them in bulky plastic bins.

I did manage to get rid of a bunch of loose crayons and pens. We have so many of those that even though it felt wasteful to get rid of them, it seemed just as ludicrous to keep them. There are places you can send old crayons to be recycled, which I have done before, but didn't have the energy to do this time.

A lot of the stuff I got rid of was like this—pieces of things, bits of stickers, a stray paper here and there.

I also got rid of this.

I have no idea what it is so when I found it a while back, I crammed it in my craft cabinet. I sure it's essential for something, but I don't know what. And until I create some sort of repository in my house for "things that I don't need, but that I am absolutely sure will become essential someday," I'm trying to be brave and get rid of these things.

Here are the things I'm donating. I have to talk to Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny about being smarter about the things they give to my kids.

Here is my finished product. This is the cabinet under the counter:

For a cabinet with doors that wouldn't close all the way, I'd say this is a pretty big improvement. I kept Play-Doh, paint, some beads, markers, those damn foam stickers, the puzzles I nerd about with, and a few other things.

Here is the cabinet that used to be my snack cabinet:

In it, I put boxes with more day-to-day things, such as glue, scissors, colored pencils, and a rubber band ball. Because everyone needs a rubber band ball.

I also finally found a good place to put workbooks and notebooks where they are easily accessible. In their prior home, they were really hard to reach. I also put some craft kits in there. Some of them we are midway through using, some of them have been stashed in places for so long that we forgot about them.

Right now everything is easy to find and easy to reach and I'm so happy. Plus, I have a whole empty cabinet to fill. I've already made a promise to myself that I will keep it neat and organized.

But I've made that promise before. We'll see how it goes.

I'm going to call the item count 30, even though it's probably higher than that.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

More Time in the Secret Closet

I've gotten comments here before that suggest that it is impressive that I still have things to declutter. I call it less impressive and more embarrassing. See, the thing about clutter is that it is a constant fight against entropy to keep the clutter away. To prove this, I offer up the example of my secret closet, which is what I call the closet in which I keep gift wrapping supplies, gifts I plan to give to people, and assorted other crap.

I have decluttered that stupid closet more times than I can count.

Okay, that's a lie. I can count. It's three. Here you go:

1. Closet Clutter, Day One

2. How I Celebrated National Decluttering Day and The Spoils of the Closet

3. The Secret Closet Reprise

And now I'm about to offer up decluttering number four: The Secret Closet Re-reprise.

I got rid of all the things I usually do. I got rid of old receipts for gifts that I gave away a long time ago, I tossed old bits of crumpled wrapping paper and short lengths of ribbons that will never be useful for wrapping a gift. I took a bunch of old bags and art supplies and threw them into the far back of the closet. That is a project for another day.

But this is not a cleaning blog. (God forbid.) This is a decluttering blog. So let me tell you what I decluttered.

I found this magazine rack in there. It is full of old puzzle books that I bought in bulk at one point long ago. For many of these books I have done all the fun puzzles and left the rest for later. Guess what? Later's not coming.

Nineteen books recycled.

Probably the biggest change that I made in the closet was cleaning out the boxes I have in there. I used to keep a lot of boxes there in case I needed one to mail something. In some of the past declutterings of these closets, I've recycled some of these boxes. This go-round, I recycled* all of them, with the exception of three or four shoeboxes in case we need to make a diorama.

I didn't count the big boxes I got rid of, but there is substantially more space there now.

In the past, when I've been getting rid of boxes, I refused to even think of getting rid of the selection of small boxes and bags that I kept for little gifts. I haven't used any of those boxes and bags in probably four years.

 TWENTY-SEVEN small boxes recycled;
9 small bags (and another tote bag) donated.

What else did I find in there that I had been keeping for stupid reasons? Well, this box of half-used Valentines probably qualifies.

Because my kids are likely to remember they exist and then want to use them.

The secret closet is also a repository for leftovers from party favors and whatnot. I tend to buy party favors from Oriental Trading**, which is great because they are cheap and awesome, but I always end up with more than I need.

Some things I can use for other gifts or for add-ons to other gifts, but nearly everything in the closet currently has reached the end of its usefulness for the Stimey household.

Whistles and medals I'll keep; wristbands and tiny bags, I'll donate.

I was also going to give this little stack of notebooks to somebody who was at my house just a couple of days ago, but I forgot. Dammit.

I've been putting these toys in stockings, party goody bags, and whatever else I can think of for years. I'm tired of it.


It was actually completely astounding to me how many leftover party supplies I had in there.

I also found a few other assorted items to donate and organized my stash of things that I have on hand to give as gifts in cases of emergency. It was actually really good to go through all that stuff. I found some things that I didn't even remember that I had, including at least one that I hadn't given but that was still wrapped and I didn't know what was in it.

I also discovered that I will likely not need to purchase any gift tags in my lifetime.

All told, I eliminated 156 items from that closet, and that doesn't include large boxes and some insignificant-ish items I decided not to count.

I'll be sure to let you know the next time I declutter the closet.

* I should probably make clear that I didn't actually recycle the boxes, but I made Alex do it. He's such a good sport.

It's also not really my fault that every time I post a photo of Alex,
he's making a weird face in it. It's like I pull out my camera
and his face does that automatically.

** If you've never read my post about the Oriental Trading piƱata I got for Jack's birthday a couple of years ago, you should. It's one of my favorites.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Organization Begets Cleanliness

This is not so much a post about decluttering as a post about organization and me patting myself on the back for something I'm really proud of.

Namely, I created the perfect home for all our board games. We have a pretty good number of games and they've ended up strewn all over my kids' rooms. Because they didn't have a good home, sometimes boxes would get squooshed or pieces would fall out and get lost.

I decided that because Sam uses drawers in which to store his clothes, we would make the closet in his room our game closet. But first, we had to deal with how to arrange the room. His room is very small and has two doors, a giant shelf that covers one entire wall, a closet, and window. It is a challenge to find a place to put Sam's full bed without blocking a door, yet still leaving enough room for Sam to be able to sit or play on his floor.

The best option is to put the bed where it blocks part of the closet door, but then the closet was going to be unusable. Until, that is, Canape came over to my house and suggested that we take the door off and put a curtain there instead.

She blew my mind.


Then I made Alex build shelves. Inside that door, the closet stretches probably another foot to the left. There is so much space in there now. I love it.

Super voila!

My kids love it too. They have played more games in the past two days than in the past month. AND, after they play a game, they PUT IT AWAY. With ALL its pieces.


The moral of this story is that if there is an easy, clearly marked home for things, it is far more likely that they are going to be put away and taken care of.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Now I Have to Declutter Stuff I Didn't Want in the First Place

I do a lot of shopping with Amazon and they do a great job. Occasionally, however, they fuck up. For instance, one day last week I came home to find a giant box from them. Thinking I knew what was inside it (a gift for a family member), I opened the box and pulled out...a tire?

Seeing as how I don't own an adult-size bike, it seems highly unlikely that I would have ordered an adult-size bike tire. After a little investigating (read: "actually looking at the packing slip"), I noticed that a packing slip for an item (that came in a different box) was taped to the packing slip for some woman named Virginia, who lives in Kentucky.

After a big sigh, because I knew that I had to contact Amazon because I wanted Virginia to get her bike tire, I emailed them to tell them. They almost immediately sent back an email telling me thanks, that I wasn't charged for the tire, and that if I mailed the tire back to them, they would reimburse me for my shipping costs.

Doesn't that sound like all kinds of fun?

Of course, I wrote back:

Here's the thing. I'm not super excited about dragging that giant box to the post office in the middle of December and spending the money to return and then waiting for reimbursement. Especially because it's a bigger-than-standard box. Is there a way for you to arrange a pick up from my porch?
Much as I expected, they wrote back again almost immediately to tell me that I don't actually have to return the tire (mental note: ALWAYS be the squeaky wheel), and that I can dispose of it at my leisure.

So, here's the thing: Does anyone local need a bike tire? You would need to pick it up because I think I mentioned that I don't plan on taking it to the post office. Here is a photo of the tag in case you need more specifics:

If no one wants it, I'll Freecycle it.

Total items: One.