Wednesday, December 31, 2008

What Google Thinks I Decluttered This Year

Because I've been so busy decluttering (ha!), I haven't had time to think of a thoughtful way to sum up what's happened here at the Junk Pyramid this year. So I've decided to follow along with Stimeyland and let Google take care of summing up for me. Google search terms are in bold.

But first: I do know that I have decluttered 2,525 items. That's more than 2,500 items that are no longer in my house or garage. I'm pretty proud of that. And after 280 days at six items a day, my goal for today would have been 1,680. So even though I've taken some days off here and there, I'm still doing pretty darn good on my goal.

So what is it that Google thinks I wrote about this year?

BPA.

Way back in April I wrote about my love affair with my water bottles and how I was going to get rid of them. I specifically mentioned my Eddie Bauer water bottle and the response I got from them when I emailed to ask them about the BPA in it. Without question, this was the most viewed page on the Junk Pyramid this year. I got every possible permutation of search about these bottles that you can imagine, from eddie bauer water bottles bpa to eddie bauer bottel thing inside (and how they correctly spelled "bauer" but misspelled "bottel" I'll never know) to deadly water bottles to EDDIE BAUER WATER BOTTLES TOXIC TOXICITY. So, if you're wondering are eddie bauer water bottles bad for you? I would say that the ones with BPA in them are. Toss 'em out.

Then there were the people who took the name of this blog a little too literally. For instance, pyramid making for card board, how to make a pyramid out of play doh and put things in pyramid, plus put information into a pyramid. My personal favorite of these was size of a cardboard pyramid. Because we all know that cardboard pyramids only come in one size.

Then there was the enigmatic pyramid and socks. Although I did write about socks.

Someone was looking for the pyramid 5 pieces. There's something terrible out there known to at least one person as peer pressure pyramid. I had a weirdly large number of people searching for household items shaped like a pyramid.

And there were the people looking for pyramid shaped or Pyramid brand objects such as tupperware pyramid, pyramid knife sharpeners and 9 guitar pyramid stand that got screwed by being sent to my blog.

Have you noticed that if you say (or write) the word "pyramid" too many times it not only loses all meaning, but starts to look really weird?

I did like this query: what are some things that were put in the pyramid? I'm glad you asked.

There were can of tomatoes expired, carpet squares for boys, expired water chestnuts, and don't forget my experiment with expired top ramen.

I'm always happy to answer Google's questions. And people out there have some good ones:

i have a bunch of junk on my floor how to i organize it? I suggest shelves. And containers. And trash bags.

ball pit define It's a play enclosure for kids that is full of small, light balls.

Is flour Sugar salt or pepper a living thing No.

is it bad to eat pasta for dinner? I guess it is if you don't like pasta.

where to throw our skip junk I don't know what "skip junk" is. Some expert I am.

what if you eat expired ramen? It will taste really bad.

How can I make lots of words from one Words are made up of smaller units known as letters. These letters can be rearranged to create new and/or smaller words.

log number feline advantage expire? Just don't try to give it away because people won't take it and they'll call you a freak.

A PLACE WHERE I CAN GO THROW ALL MY JUNK Keep walking, friend. Don't throw it here. (Check out this fabulous place known as "the dump.")

how do I purge my junk? Read The Junk Pyramid!

should I save book jackets? No.

who decides what is a great book? You do. But I can give you tips on how to decide what books to keep.

should I throw away all of my old cassettes The internet says yes.

what do you do with your kids school stuff? I'm glad you asked.

how do you make a easy kids empty big paper pyramid? What was the question again?

Then there are the Google searches that are just bizarre, or I don't know how they brought people here, or I'm flattered by the search term, or they make me laugh hysterically. Here I pay homage.

lost lady mojo Is the lady lost or the mojo?

stimey tomato There were 131 results for this. And I wasn't the first one. Weird.

totally free junk no one wants Stick around. I think I'll be able to help you.

"I felt his toes" shoe fit Okaaaay.

i lost my mojo I was proud to be the tenth search result on this. Don't worry, I found my mojo again.

Boy-House And how!

"you're wearing diapers" —like Is this some weird fetish thing?

amvets candy They have candy? They just give me tax deduction receipts.

awesome red pants They were awesome.

dirty tampons for sale Ewwww. Just...ewwwww.

swag pounds 68.

Possibly my favorite search:
ecclectic fences Because aren't you tired of ordinary fences?

Then there was this highly descriptive (and accurate) search:
decluttering hoarding blogging site: blogspot.com

Have a Safe and Happy New Year. Now get back to decluttering.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Magazines: Enough is Enough

In June I went through my magazine rack and weeded out many of the old, unread magazines stored there. I kept many of them because I wanted to read them and was sure I would get to them. Of course, I was forgetting why they ended up there in the first place. I barely have time to keep up with the new magazines coming to my house, much less the old ones already here.

Since I haven't touched the magazine rack since June, I figured I should just get rid of all the magazines in it and start fresh.


It kind of hurt to put them in the recycling bin.

I'm recycling 28 of them. I think it's a good thing. When I took them out of the rack, dust billowed out along with them.

I also went through a couple of my kitchen cabinets, as part of my upcoming clear-out-everything-in-the-kitchen-that-I-don't-regularly-use project. I was able to find 12 things I don't use and put them in my donation to the National Children's Center that was already on my porch waiting to be picked up.


Total items for today: 40

Monday, December 29, 2008

Dear Stimey—Ange

Today I'm going to solve someone's (Ange's) problem and improve her life. Or at least kill a few minutes of her time as she reads my response to her query that she posted at her blog Tis My Life:
Dear Stimey,

Even though I am a longtime stalker at Stimeyland, I am a new reader of The Junk Pyramid. I am in need of your decluttering wisdom.

Because we are in close proximity to family and friends, we often accumulate other people's junk. I'm telling you, it knows where we live, and it knows how to find us! We have so much of other people's clutter in our house: food containers that eventually get washed that once contained the in-laws' leftovers we never asked for (or ate), toys that were 'borrowed' from a friend to ease a transition (and avert a temper tantrum), magazines and books that I supposedly have to read (but never will), clothes that were needed after an unexpected puking or expected mud puddle incident (I think those got laundered? hmmmm), and of course the fine-accumulating library books and movie rentals.

So we have all of this clutter we can't get rid of until we remember to return it. Yeah, that remembering part is hard. And the locating of the junk is even more difficult in the off chance we do remember.

So what do we do? Donating it all to Goodwill is not an option. I did that last year and the tax write off did not balance out the fines and tsk tsks. The couch won't work, because that's where we put the clean laundry that my mother-in-law folds sometimes. The kitchen won't work because that's where all the shit we have to keep goes. My office? My bedroom? A spare room or shelf or table in the hallway, you say? Nice try.

Please share your wisdom. I'm sure I could put my children through college by saving on the fines alone. And my sanity would be much improved if I had a way to organize borrowed clutter (at least I tell myself that in one of my many voices).

Sincerely,
the borrower of other people's trouble (and crap)

Ange then went on to provide more information about places where she could keep these items.

I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that you, Ange, need not to organize these items, but to get them out of your house.

First of all, that broken paper shredder you mention in your second post? Is it gone yet? Because unless you know how to fix a paper shredder, you'll never use it again. Put it in your trash can immediately.

Then go through the rest of the things on the bakers rack with a trash bag and a recycling box next to you. Throw away everything you don't need, won't use, is out of date. Recycle anything you can. Neaten the rest of the items.

Now I want you to dedicate a spot on that shelf for library books, rented movies, and anything else you get fined for if you don't return it on time. When you bring them into your house, put them there. Everytime your kids want to look at a library book, tell them to go get it. Read it to them then have them return it to its spot on the bakers rack. It may take some reminding, but they will eventually remember that there is a spot specifically for library books.

Mark your calendar for the day you have to return the books. Try to return them a couple of days early so you don't forget.

As for movies, try the same thing. After you watch the movie, take it out of the player and return it to its home. However, if late fines are a big problem for you, I will recommend Netflix to you. They are fast, easy, and never charge a late fee. There plans are as cheap as $4.99 a month, which is about the price of a rental, if I remember correctly.

Books and magazines that people give you to read are tough. I know I have a hard enough time reading the books and magazines that I choose. If you've had it more than two weeks to a month, acknowledge that you're not going to read it. Write down the title and who you borrowed it from in case you'd like to read it another time. Thank the person who lent it to you and tell them you just haven't had time to read it and you'd like to borrow it another time if possible. If someone has given you a magazine to read an article, maybe tear out just the article and recycle the rest of the magazine.

You mention several other things such as toys, clothes, and food containers that you borrow from people. I think the key with items such as these is to return them as soon as possible. The longer they stay in your house, the more likely they are to become your things. But because they don't really belong to you, you can't really declutter them.

This is what I suggest: get a plastic bin and fit it in the space between your garage door and kitchen. Put it where you'll see it when you walk by. As soon as your kids let go of the toy they borrowed, as soon as the clothes they borrowed are washed, or immediately after the leftovers dish comes out of the dishwasher, walk it to the plastic bin. You can move library books and movie rentals here when they are close to being due. Just make sure to put the books and movies on top where you will see them.

Whenever you leave the house, think about where you're going and whether you have anything to return. If you do, take it with you, put it on the front seat of the car next to you so you don't forget it when you get there, and give the items back.

Go through your bin once a week, say, every Sunday evening to see if there's anything you've forgotten in there. Make it your goal to have it empty by that time each week.

Ange, I hope this helps you out. Please let me know if this might work for you or if you see gaping flaws in my plan for you. This is what works at my house, but what works for me may not work for you.

Any suggestions from readers?

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Hi! Still Here!

Yeah, this:


So one thing.

I'm supposed to be helping Ange out, and I will, but it might have to wait until after Christmas or maybe New Years. Anyone else have a "Dear Stimey" problem I can help with?

The Junk Pyramid will be on hiatus (will be continuing its current hiatus?) for a few days. I plan to be back on the decluttering wagon soon!

Monday, December 15, 2008

New Sidebar Features

* I am building a Resources for Decluttering list that will live in my sidebar. You can find it by clicking on this button:


In it will be general suggestions for what to do with your junk once you've taken it out of your house. There will also be sections for specific items such as books or opened boxes of diapers or wedding dresses. Some of these resources will be local to the DC metro area, but many will be national.

This list will be a work in progress, so if you don't find what you're looking for today, it might be there next month. If you want me to research what to do with certain junk items, let me know. I also welcome your suggestions. Leave me a comment or email me at stimeyland at gmail dot com.

* There will also be a new section listing posts where I've given tips, such as my recent post on Seasonal Decluttering. This will give you an easy way to locate my posts with decluttering and organizational tips. You'll find this list under the Resources button.

If you're looking for tips on a certain topic that is in the list, don't forget to read the comments too. All y'all have some great ideas. If there is a topic you want me to write a post about, let me know!

* I've also temporarily posted a poll in the sidebar, because I'm curious about a spelling issue. Decluttering or de-cluttering? Discuss. And vote.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Seasonal Decluttering

Weeks and weeks ago, PenguinLady left a comment asking if I had suggestions for how to do seasonal decluttering. Her comment specifically had to do with Halloween stuff, but these tips will work for any holiday or season.

I think the most important thing to do concerning seasonal clutter is to store it in a dedicated spot, categorized by holiday. I keep my seasonal decorations in my basement. I have several Christmas decoration bins and then I have one bin for the other holidays. It would probably be even better to have a separate container for each season or holiday.

I really only decorate for Halloween and Christmas, so it's not such a big deal to me, but if you're like my friend L, who has window garlands and wall decorations that she changes according to the season, as well as different front door wreaths/decorations for every season/holiday, it probably makes more of a difference how you organize it.

Next, I would argue for making your seasonal decluttering a year-long job instead of tackling it all at once. For instance, on Halloween, purge and organize your Halloween items. Then near Thanksgiving, work on your Thanksgiving items.

This not only breaks the task down into more manageable increments, it gets you in the habit of looking at your decor critically every time you use it.

Obviously if all of your seasonal items are thrown together in a mish-mosh, it might make sense to sort them into piles or drawers or shelves or whatever system you are using all at one time before you begin.

The actual decluttering process can take place once you're ready to pull things out to decorate. Pull out your bin with your items and decorate as you normally do. Then look at what is left unused. What's in there?

TYPES OF SEASONAL CLUTTER AND WHAT TO DO WITH IT:

Items you use every few years: If you have so much decor that you like that you have to rotate through it so each piece gets used every other year, fine. Just make sure that the items you keep are ones that you genuinely like and use.

If you have so much decor that you like that you have to rotate through it so each piece gets used every fifth year, you might want to do some purging. Get rid of the things you use the least. If it makes you feel better, donate them for the good karma, or sell them for the money.

Items you never use: The first time you go through any season's decor, you will undoubtedly find things that you never use anymore. (If you don't, you certainly don't need me to tell you what to do. And I'd like you to guest post.) If you find something that you never ever use, get rid of it. Unless these things are...

Items you only keep for sentimental reasons: We all have these. You don't like (or are afraid it will get broken if you use it) the tree topper that's been passed down in your family for generations, but you can't get rid of it. I suggest that you re-purpose such items.

Maybe create a shadow box with a group of such things that can stand on a table or be hung on a wall. Maybe create a dedicated "keep these items safe" box or bin that is not part of your holiday decorations. After all, why drag it down from the attic every year if you're not going to use it? Or maybe you can pass it on to another family member who will use it.

Homemade items made by your kids, or grandkids, or you: First of all, if you don't remember who made it or when, it's lost its sentimental value. Toss it.

Second, if you're like me, you probably have stacks of paper bag turkeys in every form, made by every child. Do you pull them out and display them every Thanksgiving? Great! Keep them.

Do you flip through the stack every Thanksgiving and reminisce about the person who created the art? Great! Keep them. Maybe organize them into a scrapbook or folder.

Do you pick up the stack, move it aside and then put it back in the bin after you get the items that are underneath them? It might be time to let go. You could choose a few of the most important art pieces and keep them, or you can send them to the people who created them (if not you). This is also known as passing the buck, and is a fantastic decluttering technique. Another option is to take photographs of each piece of art and put those photographs in a "holiday art" album and then get rid of the originals.

I consider this category to be the hardest to deal with, but my rule of thumb when I'm deciding what art to keep and what to get rid of is to only keep things that show your child's personality and are indicative of a certain stage in their development. For example, a Christmas tree with squares of wrapping paper glued onto it may not matter so much to you in the long run as a Christmas tree on which your child drew pictures of ornaments, including the candy canes he loved when he was four.

Damaged items: If the item isn't sentimental and it's damaged, get rid of it. Even if it was expensive. If you don't use it, it's just as much of a waste to keep it as to throw it away.

If you tell yourself every year that you're going to fix it next year, make this the year. Fix it. Or acknowledge that you never will.

Damaged sentimental items are hard, because items don't lose their sentimental value just because they're damaged. See above for dealing with sentimental objects. If you still want to keep it, consider how you can preserve it. Can you laminate the art or put it in a frame? Can you use pieces of it to create something else just as meaningful?

RE-DECLUTTERING AT THE END OF THE SEASON:

When you put the decor away, revisit what you have. Is there a decoration that annoyed you or that you fell out of love with after having it on your mantle for two weeks? Can you not remember who made the glue-string snowflake ornament? Is anything falling apart after being used? Those are things you can get rid of.

Plus, if there was an item you were undecided on when you first pulled out your seasonal bin, now is the time to revisit it. Sometimes it takes two or three tries for me to get rid of something, so re-evaluate each piece every time you look through the bin.

Those are my tips for seasonal decluttering. What are yours?

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Seasonal Purge

We decorated our house for Christmas today. As I was gong through the bins, I found some items that we had outgrown (the book and DVDs/video), can't figure out how to use (gingerbread house from scratch kit), or that didn't work (string of lights).


Total items for today: 6

Friday, December 12, 2008

My Kids Would Kill Me

While sitting around chatting with a friend today, I looked around my tragically cluttered basement.

"This has to be my next project," I thought to myself.

No time like the present, right? I decided that because all of our board games live in the basement, but don't get used down there, I should move them to our upstairs playroom. Of course, that involves freeing up some space in the playroom.

So I decided to get rid of this train set:


This was a tough decision. It is only a year old. Quinn, when he remembers about it, thinks it's really cool. But I don't think the battery powered parts even work anymore, and pieces are broken, making it difficult to get it to work, even by pushing it around the track.

And he doesn't really remember about it very often.

I'm also getting rid of a Blues Clues Memory game and a couple of pieces we don't use from a game.

Here is the other thing I snuck out of the house:


I hate these. My kids loved them and played with them for a long time, but they seem to have finally forgotten about them. Occasionally someone will fling all the pieces all over the basement and then I will have to re-stack them. They's gotta go.

I have a charity coming to pick these (and more) items up on December 29. If my kids ask about these before then, I'll return them. I'm not heartless, after all. But if they don't, some other kid will be very happy.

Total items: I'll go with the conservative number of 4.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

How to Lose Friends and Alienate People

A friend talked me into buying this from her at a garage sale for $3. My kids loved it for a while.


Yesterday I sold it for $10 on Craigslist.

I feel like I should give her the money.

But I'm not gonna.

Total items: 1

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Puzzle Purge

It's a good thing I'm such an awesome blogger and dedicated declutterer. < /sarcasm>

I've been a little bit MIA lately, but I have been thinking of decluttering. I've put some things up for sale on Craigslist and have given some things to some friends. And Alex got rid of a broken dehumidifier that has been taking up space in our basement for months. And months.



So, although it may look like I'm not doing anything (based on the utter lack of activity here for the last week and a half), I am always looking for things to get rid of.

Total items: 11 (10 puzzles and 1 dehumidifier)

Saturday, November 29, 2008

What to Do With Your Kid's School Paraphenalia

Let's be clear. I don't scrapbook. If I did, my scrapbooks would consist of empty books with a pile of photos and other stuff on top of them. I know this because I DO make books that contain school memorabilia for each of my kids.

These may sound like scrapbooks to you, but I don't make a whole lot of effort to make them attractive. Basically, if something comes home from school that I want to keep, or if I take a photo of something school related, I either glue or staple it into the book and call it done.

I do this largely because when I was growing up, my mom had a little book with two pages for each grade. On one side was a pocket in which you were supposed to put report cards and other items like that. On the other side, you put your class photo.

I loved this book as a child and wanted to create something similar. Hence the "school books" I put together for my kids.

Mostly this involves a box in my closet, into which I toss everything that needs to go into the book. Periodically I will sit down and sort it all out and put it all in the books.

On Thanksgiving I decided to sit down and work through my stack. Said stack dated back to January. You can see the stack in the foreground here, in the Office Depot box. The school books are in the back. I paste their school photo on the front each year.


I sorted the pile by child, with a different pile for artwork to go into my artwork boxes. Plus I made a pile for "things to deal with later" and put that back into the original box.

This is a photo of all the items after they were sorted. No really. It is.


Those green expanding files are where I keep selected art. I obviously don't keep everything, and there would be too much to paste into the school book, so I have a file for each kid.

Then I sat down and started with the smallest pile—Quinn's. I organized it into chronological order and started gluing and stapling. I put things like emails from the teacher, photos of class celebrations, certificates of achievement, and "special artwork" into the book.

Here's a sample page from Jack's book:


I didn't really get rid of anything, unless you count used up glue sticks, and I don't, but I did a lot of organizing. And when my kids are 18 and leaving for college, I can pull out these books, look at how cute they were, and be happy that I spent a couple of hours once or twice a year putting them together.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Making Room

Every year (and by that, I mean this year and last year), I try to get rid of some of our current toy clutter to make room for new and better items that we'll acquire over the holiday season.

I did some work in our playroom the other day, to make room for the Lego table I'm making Jack for Christmas. There were a lot of little items in that room that I was able to purge.


Above you see 48 cars, 2 bouncy balls, 3 pez dispensers, 1 plastic train (five years old!), 1 puzzle with a missing piece, 1 set of train signs, 4 little bags, 6 items of random detritus, and one stuffed fish.

I am also getting rid of this train, which has 23 out of 26 letters intact. I thought Quinn would adore this when I got it for him last year. He loved trains, but he was afraid of trains with faces. So I bought this for him, and he immediately forgot about his fear of trains with faces and started asking for obscure Thomas the Tank Engine characters. (Diesel 10, anyone?)


I'm hoping that it will find a good home.

Total items: 68

*****

Also, winners of the National Decluttering Day challenge are everyone who decluttered who doesn't already have a tag. Congratulations, to *m* and De in DC! Email me your address at stimeyland at gmail dot com, and I'll send you your tag. Magpie, do you already have a tag? If not, email me your address too! Congrats!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Spoils of the Closet

Now that you know the story of my closet decluttering yesterday, it's time to show you what I was able to get rid of.

I didn't include things that were obviously just trash and recyclables. You can thank me later.

The things taking up the most space in my Secret Closet (and, yes, that is how my entire family refers to it) were these two waterproof sheets that used to live on Sam and Jack's beds, and seven kind of nasty pillows.

Ewwwwwwww!

Next up is a fun batch of stuff that includes a wrapping paper organizer I tried to use before I figured out that a stand-up plastic container is the way to go. Also included are an old backpack, an old diaper bag, and some sort of stray strap.



There were lots of odds and ends from old art projects, such as a bag of cotton batting, some pieces of felt, professional acrylic gesso (I don't even know what this is), and a left-over wooden piece from when I made seldom-used beds for Sam and Jack's teddy bears.

There were also a number of plastic bags that used to house various books or toys and I felt that I should keep because they would undoubtedly be useful some day. And here they are, being useful today by upping my item count on The Junk Pyramid.

I'm such an idiot.

I'm also getting rid of a play-doh toy in the shape of a McDonald's. Someone gave that to Sam for his third birthday. I immediately hated it, but he loved it. When he lost interest in it, I moved it upstairs to the closet. I have no idea why I didn't just trash it then. Remember, I'm in recovery.

Here's my next batch:


I tend to buy craft kits around Christmas time for my kids to do. Then I'm left with 22 extra craft kits. So I store them upstairs. I'm going to donate them. There are a couple little cloth bags that my kids and I decorated, a couple of old crafty things, and three (!) splat mats to put under my kids while they painted. Let me repeat: three.

Next up was this batch:


More baby monitor parts. How many of these did I have? Also in the electronics department are a pile of cords, an old remote control, and a clock.

I had still more crafts, although Sam saw me trying to get rid of the most annoying craft of all, a box of recycled packing peanuts, and wouldn't let me get rid of it. I may have an eagle eye for clutter, but he has an eagle eye for my furtive decluttering activities.

Also, because I found so many extra gift tags in my gift wrap organization yesterday, I got rid of these non-adhesive tags. Somebody else can tape these to presents.

The last thing I had to get rid of was a Ziploc bag full of magnets.


At some point a couple years ago, I took most of our magnets off of our fridge. It's amazing what a difference that can make in the way your kitchen looks.

At the time, I wasn't prepared to get rid of the magnets. And God knows why because there are very few interesting magnets up there. I ended up only keeping one magnet that I found:


And that's because he was my boss ten years ago and I'm still a little bit afraid of him. I couldn't possibly put him in the trash.

I sorted through all of this, to put some in the trash, some in the recycling bin, and a lot in my donation bin.

Total items for National Decluttering Day? 90

Not bad for a day's work.

Also, kudos to all of you for your excellent decluttering work yesterday. Keep at it today and leave me a comment on Friday's post to be in the running for your very own Stimeyland luggage tag!

How I Celebrated National Decluttering Day

After challenging all of you to declutter at least 10 items this weekend, it occurred to me that I had to do some work too or I would look like a big fat Jerky Jerkerson. Especially after your comments with your lists of items came rolling in. So I decided to tackle one of the "big projects" I keep claiming that I'm going to do.

Remember this? If you weren't around then, back in July I cleaned out half of a closet and promised to do the other half soon. Well, here it is only November, and I'm following up on my promise.

The only problem is that the closet had since reverted back to this:


In my defense, most of that is because three suitcases were thrown haphazardly in there, as well as some earlybird Christmas purchases. The shelves I cleaned in July were still clean.

I should explain the purpose of this closet. It is my Secret Closet, thus named because it is where I hide presents from my famiy. It is also (when clean) large enough to sit in to wrap presents. So, yes, I can claim to have my own gift wrapping room.

Once I organized the clutter that had just been thrown in the door, I decided to organize my gift wrap. I have a lot of gift wrap, mostly because it is so unorganized that I think I don't have enough and so I buy more.

Hmmm, I wonder why that is?

First, I took everything out of my gift wrap organizer. I cleaned up my ribbon and threw away any that was too sqooshed or unraveled to use. Then I stacked up my tissue paper and non-roll wrapping paper and put them in the organizer.

Next up were gift bags. I save mine to reuse (big surprise there, huh?), but I haven't been keeping good track of them. I sorted them by size, with the Christmas bags in a different stack, then I put all of them in an easy-to-access pocket of the organizer.

Because my ribbons, tags, scissors, tape, pens, and the box I keep receipts in until after the holidays were already organized on a shelf from last time, that was all I had to do to achieve gift wrapping access.


The closet is L-shaped, and past the gift wrap and around the corner was a big pile of old pillows and some waterproof sheets from my kids' beds. This is where I throw bags that I'm not sure I'm ready to part with. I also have a couple boxes of baby things I'm not ready to part with.

You know what? I am finally ready to part with a bunch of the bags, but not the baby items.

I pulled a lot of things out and then cleaned up the baby things, some bags, an inflatable bed, and a box of lids to plastic bins that aren't being used right now, but might be in the future. (I know, I know, I have a problem.)


This closet is also where I keep art supplies for myself and my children that I don't use a lot. These art supplies were in bins and in boxes and all over the floor. I put some in my piles to donate and throw away and then organized the rest—one bin for my stuff, one bin for my kids' stuff. Then I put it all in the corner and moved our suitcases next to them.

Compare this to the second photo above.


Now, for the big reveal. Take a look again at the first photo to see what was there when I opened my closet. Now look at this picture to see what I saw just before closing the door:


Nice, huh?

Do I still deserve to be among you on National Decluttering Day?

Stay tuned, because tomorrow I'm going to show you what I got rid of. I promise, it's dramatic.

Friday, November 21, 2008

I Challenge You

Hey, everyone, Kijiji, a website featuring free, local classified ads, has arbitrarily named this Saturday, November 22 National Declutter Day.

If you click on that link above, you can enter a contest to win a home visit from decluttering expert Tava Smiley, host of the TLC show Clean Sweep.

There is also a packrat quiz on the site. I took the quiz and my result was that I am a "Hopeful Hanger-On," meaning that I keep things around because I'm convinced they'll come in handy in the future.

I have to admit that they nailed me. I'm getting better, and this blog has been a big part of that, but hopeful hanging on is exactly what got me into trouble in the first place.

I'd also like to challenge you to take advantage of National Declutter Day, no matter how arbitrary it may be. I challenge you to look around your house on Saturday and get rid of at least ten items.

Come back after you declutter, and tell me what you got rid of. Sometime on Monday I'll look through all your responses and pick the best one. Or if there are a bunch I really like, I'll make my kids pick a winner out of a hat.

The winner (continental U.S. only please) will receive a super-awesome Stimeyland luggage tag. Because there's no better way to celebrate decluttering than recluttering! If you want to enter, remember to leave your email address.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

My Eagle Eye for Clutter

I babysat two small children today. They were from two different families, but in the true spirit of multitasking, I scheduled them on the same day to kill babysit two birds with one stone.

Or something.

Anyway, one of them was four. The other was two. And Quinn is three.

So I didn't have time to do much besides watch them and play with them. But while they were at my house, I did keep my eye out for obvious junk. And, surprise, surprise! I found some.


Per usual, I found some shoes.

I also found a stray swim diaper and some diaper rash cream in my basement. I'll probably be running across little stashes of diaper-related things for years to come.

I found a camera that Sam used to love, but which is now broken. I also found a game that plays poker or blackjack or something.

There is a sweater that Jack used to wear but that Quinn will staunchly refuse to wear.

There is also a box that used to house little fuzzy animals. We still have the animals and love them, but the box is useless now that we don't keep the animals in it.

Then there is a teensy book jacket for a teensy book whose whereabouts are unknown. Rule of thumb: if you don't have the eeny-weeny book, you don't need the eeny-weeny book jacket.

And there is a box for a pitch pipe that was long ago requisitioned for our musical instruments box.

Total items for today: 10

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Bye, Bye Baby Furniture

Now that the children who used this crib are seven and three, respectively...


...it's time to pass it on to someone else.

Goodbye, faithful crib. You've been loved.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

I Sure Have A Lot of Obsolete Media

Today I set my sights on a dresser that houses old VHS tapes, old video games, and some clothes. I wasn't prepared to deal with the games or clothes, so I started with the tapes.

Because we don't own a VCR anymore.

And if I want to watch one of those movies, I'll put it on my Netflix queue.

The only problem was that I couldn't get the drawer open. There was absolutely no obstruction that I could see or feel. I couldn't figure out what magic was giving me only three inches from which to pull out tapes.

Finally, like 15 minutes later (I'm nothing if not quick), I noticed that one of the boards on the bottom of the drawer was about a quarter of an inch lower than the other board. After some experimentation and a close call where I almost got my arm caught in the drawer under the one I was trying to open, I finally got it open to reveal this:


These are the videos I wasn't able to get rid of a couple of years ago, when I weeded out most of my extensive collection.

This first stack was easy. No VCR means no need for blank video tapes.


I donated the blank ones and threw away the used ones.

I happened to be on the phone with a friend of mine who does have a VCR at her beach house. Somehow she talked me into giving her these 35 tapes:


I think she was bummed out when I actually showed up at her house with three bags of tapes.

This is what I was left with. A couple I didn't think my friend wanted. A couple had sentimental value. And a couple were tapes of my various drama endeavors from elementary school and junior high.


Total items: 46

Giveaways: Why NOT to Enter

Lately I've gotten a little addicted to blog giveaways. They're fantastic because even if a lot of people enter, you still have a 1 in 300 chance of winning instead of a 1 in 6.7 million chance. (Unless it's Dooce doing the giveaway, and then it's closer to the 6.7 million.) Sometimes you have as much as a 1 in 10 ten chance of winning.

Since I started entering these giveaways, I've won my fair share of cool stuff. Oddly, most of it is art. (You should see the wall clutter in my kids' playroom.)

High on the possibility of winning, I spent a few weeks entering every giveaway contest I came across. Not every contest promised something I needed, but FREE! and FREE! and did I mention FREE?!

I have recently come to my senses. Because something free that you don't need is still something you don't need. So now I only enter giveaway contests if the giveaway is something that I have a concrete use for. (Sometimes that concrete use is as a gift.)

This theory can be extended to freebies that are tossed into kids' meals, shopping bags, free samples, or anything else. If you're not going to use that free sample of face cream, turn it down. If your kid is going to quickly tire of the plastic car that comes with his Happy Meal, order a la carte instead, or pass the toy back through the window.

I'm going to further extend this theory to good deals on coupons. I know people who have discount buying down to an art. If you do this sort of thing, just make sure that the things you do get are things you will use, otherwise you're still wasting money—just less money. Or do like one blogger I read, and donate your cheapie extras to a food bank.

Because the easiest was to declutter is to not have to declutter. If you don't bring it into your house, you don't have to worry about getting it out of your house.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

More DVD Clutter

I fully intend to get back to some big projects soon, but I've been going though a period of lethargy, travel, and colds and flu. So for now, all I have for you is a stack of DVDs.

It's funny, and a little sad, that second and third children grow up so much faster than firsts. When Sam was three and a half, he was watching the Wiggles all the time. Now that Quinn is three and a half, he watches The Clone Wars.

Farewell, Greg, Anthony, Jeff, and my favorite: Murray.


Farewell, also to several other DVDs that my kids never watch.

I also got rid of a much loved pair of sweatpants that are simply unwearable now. I had some DVD cases that didn't have matching DVDs. I keep and re-use the cases, but recycle all the packaging. I will count the spare packaging in the following photo and the one above as one item.


Oh, and lest I forget, I'm also getting rid of a cold pack intended to be used on injuries. I've never used it (because I have other, better options), so I'm donating it.

Total items: 16

Monday, November 3, 2008

I Refuse to RE-Clutter!

When we Alex painted our TV room, we he changed the outlet covers, ceiling lamps, and door knobs.

Pre-Pyramid Stimey would have kept the old doorknobs under the assumption that even though we Alex took them down because he we didn't like them, they would come in handy some day.

Current Stimey knows that is untrue. Current Stimey is putting them in her donation box. Current Stimey has three fewer baggies full of old hardware than she did before.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Throw Away Your Mystery Keys!

Today I was thinking about what to declutter next when I had an aha moment:

My key box!!


There are keys in there that came with our house and that we have never used. Now, as far as I can tell, I have the keys to every lock in the place, so I don't have to worry that these keys might come in handy later. In fact, we have changed some of the locks, so these keys might not have a match at all anymore.

I was able to remove 17 keys.


Tomorrow I'm going to take them far away from my house and its locks and throw them away.

My Beautiful New TV Room

I have not been decluttering lately. I hope to change that in the next couple of months. One of the reasons I haven't decluttered in the last week or so was that I was out of town. Another reason is because I am lazy. But the biggest reason is because Alex was engaged in a big home improvement project and everything has been in such disarray that I haven't been able to think about organization.

But it was worth it.

We have a room that we use as a TV room/office/computer room. Over the past couple of weeks Alex painted it red. Red Jalapeño, to be exact. If you want to have heart palpitations at a paint store, order yourself some Red Jalapeño paint.

It took us two tries to get ours. Alex chickened out at the last second on our first attempt, and we came home with a perfectly cromulent brown paint, but one that was just not right for our room. He'd already started painting when we realized that we needed the room to be red.

I'm so glad we made that decision. The room is all beautiful and cozy now. The following photos show the room from its entry hallway and then proceeding counter-clockwise around the room. (Don't worry. I'm getting to the decluttering. Eventually.)





Isn't it pretty?

And red?

In fact, after Alex had painted the first coat, Sam walked in and said, "It's like the inside of a volcano."

So yeah, it's pretty red. But it's soooooo cozy.

And when we brought everything back into the room and reorganized, I got rid of a few things:


What you see there are three black pillows that rarely got used, and just ended up on the floor all the time. You also see a pair of slippers that were awesome ten months ago, but that are now kind of gross and dirty. There's also a mostly used notebook that has apparently been living under my desk for the past three years. I'm also donating some little thingy that has something to do with an Xbox. My neighbor won it, but doesn't have an Xbox, so she gave it to us. And I don't know what it does, so I'm hoping it will end up with someone who does.

All of which is a long way to say that I'm getting rid of 6 items.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Cassette Tapes Chock Full of Bad '80s Hair Metal Bands

Would you like to get a clear glimpse of teenage Stimey? Then read on.

CAUTION: Some of the links below may lead to sites that will start playing loud music. Proceed at your own risk. And how do all these bands still have current websites anyway?

When I left for college, I packed this box:


It was full of this:


I opened it today for the first time since I graduated from high school in 1991. Let me tell you, what a treasure trove.

This was the top layer of the box:


The first tapes I pulled out were Suicidal Tendencies. Oh, did that take me back. Next I pulled out some very old AC/DC, followed by a self-made tape that I had labeled "EVEN MORE DETH" referring, I assume, to Megadeth, a band that my high school self found very profound.

There was some Ratt, which is embarrassing, even for teenage Stimey.

Here is what I found in the next layer of tapes:


Yes, that is the soundtrack to Stand By Me that you see there sandwiched between Iron Maiden and Testament.

You will also see my extensive collection of Pat Benatar tapes. I had more Benatar albums, but those are on vinyl. I don't know where they are now.

Layer three of the box revealed these:


Frankly, I don't know that I ever really enjoyed the Cro-Mags or Voivod. I know that I did enjoy Tears for Fears.

There is a tape in there that a friend of mine made for me and labeled, "'Whatever you do, don't listen to this tape' tape". Done and done. Although, honestly, I'm willing to bet good money that the music on this tape is better than Voivod.

Also, check out the Best of '89. How can you miss with a cassette like that?

I found a bunch of tapes, mostly without cases, stuffed into the spaces on the side of the box. Here are those:


There are three tapes labeled "Radio 1987". I bet those are good. Especially the one with the pig sticker on it.

There was some weird stuff here. Like a MiniDisc that came with a Rolling Stone magazine once. I'm not sure why I kept it. Maybe I was waiting for the format to come back. Or to show up in the first place.

There were also some Metallica singles, which I assume that I purchased for the B-sides. I also found the soundtrack to Footloose, some Cyndi Lauper, and early Madonna.

Plus a tape that apparently contained the soundtrack to Top Gun and the gem that is "Lady in Red."

This is what was left on the bottom:


Somewhere in there is the first cassette tape I ever purchased. Go ahead, guess. Is it Jetboy? Is it Beverly Hills Cop II? Is it The Jerky Boys? Is it Belinda Carlisle or Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam?

There's no way I was respectable enough for it to be INXS.

It was Sports, by Huey Lewis and the News. I'm obviously not cool enough to know this, but I think that's embarrassing.

And that doesn't even count the Skid Row and White Lion.

I briefly thought about listening to some of the tapes, but quickly decided I couldn't stomach it. Because for every early AC/DC album or "All I wanted was a Pepsi!" there is the soundtrack to The Little Mermaid and "Lady in red...is dancing with me...cheek to cheek."

And I just am not ready to make that sort of auditory sacrifice.

I do specifically remember being a teenager and hoping I never turned into the kind of person who wouldn't listen to these tapes all the time. Sorry, Teenage Stimey. You turned into exactly the type of loser you were worried about.

My only decision now is what to do with the tapes. I kind of feel like I should just throw them away. Because, really, who wants my high school friend's straight-edge band's demo tape? Or Ratt?

And if I do Freecycle them or list them on Craigslist for free, isn't that just going to reflect badly on me when the person who picks them up rifles through them? Won't he (and you know it would be a he) make fun of me for years?

Suggestions and teasing welcome.

Total items: 187 tapes and 1 MiniDisc. Plus my dignity.