Monday, March 31, 2008

It's Unfair to Outgrow Books

Today was very productive but a little sad. It's really hard for me to get rid of books. It's especially hard for me to get rid of children's books. They are so fun to read, there are so many memories of cuddling associated with them, and you never know when one of the kids may pick up Barney at the Farm, right? Right? Why would I get rid of a book that one of my children may look at for five seconds one day?

Well, that's why Quinn's bookshelf looked like this:

And remember that there is an equal number of books in Sam and Jack's room. Probably more.

There were so many books in there that it was difficult to find any of them. We ended up reading the same six books over and over because all of the rest were lost in the shuffle.

Books I got rid of:

* Books the little dudes were never interested in. There weren't very many of these. My guys have always been appreciative readers.

* Books that are obviously too young for them and that they don't go back to look at anymore.

* Any book that played music. Enough. We have iPods for that.

* Any book with wheels. We had two. Is that weird?

* Duplicates. We had two copies of Goodnight Gorilla. It's a great book, but we don't need two copies.

Books that got saved from the donation pile:

* The couple that Quinn saw and started reading.

All told, there are 42 books I found to give away.

It makes me sad, but I figure that they are meant for other people who will love them more than we can at this point in time. We've enjoyed them. It's time to pass them on. There will always be new books. There will always be the library.

See all the room Quinn has now?

Just this afternoon he found Go, Dogs, Go! and made us read it to him over and over. I don't know that he'd ever seen that book before because it was lost in the clutter.

If you're local, feel free to come over and rifle through my stash before it gets taken away in two weeks.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Hand-Me-Down Hell

Oh, it's so damn embarrassing:

That was my hand-me-down closet before today. This is where I would toss all Sam, Jack, and Quinn's off-season and off-size clothes. Frankly, it was too much work to go through them all and sort them by size.

Today when I went through the closet, I pulled out summer clothes to put in their dressers. I even found a non-yellow shirt that Quinn is willing to wear! (Please don't ask why he is wearing swim goggles.)

I put all of Sam and Jack's winter clothes in the closet and put Quinn's aside to donate. I decided to sort the remaining hand-me-down clothes, not by size (4T, 5T), but by child (a box for Quinn, a box for Jack, the shaft for Sam):

All told, I found 21 items of clothing to donate:

As far as trash, I found 5 items of clothing that were too stained or worn to store or donate, including that "white"—and I use that term loosely—turtleneck in the front there. Why do you think we had kept ahold of that?

I also found one sock and two french fries. I decided against keeping them.

I'm also donating that faux fur rug. I got it years ago from IKEA. I gave it to Jack as a baby because he loves tactile things. I'd forgotten entirely that I had it. Quinn spent about 23 seconds loving it and then demanded that I get rid of it immediately.

So after a complete failure yesterday to declutter a damn thing, today I got rid of 28 items.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Today I Made a Real Difference in My Day to Day Life

I have a friend who reads The Junk Pyramid and is congratulatory to me on it. But I think she wonders why I am decluttering the locations that I am. When I cleaned off the top of my file cabinet in my Secret Closet, she sarcastically said something to the effect of, "Oh, that's going to change your life." It was less jerky than that, but had a similar sentiment.

This one's for her.

Check. This. Out.:

That's my battery drawer. And it was a disaster. I had planned on doing some more kids clothes today, but this voice changing toy was out of batteries and I made the mistake of putting a new battery in it.

Then Quinn ran around yelling into it. And just FYI, if a toy is soooo annoying that even the six-year-old is yelling, "Go away!" you know you shouldn't have bothered to put batteries back in it. Thanks for that present, Nana.

And on a related note, am I the only person in the world who is physically incapable of attaching a 9-volt battery to to those little connectors in the battery compartment of toys?


When I opened the battery drawer and saw what you see above, I knew that this particular drawer was screaming to be decluttered.

For something called a battery drawer, there sure were a lot of non-battery items in there. (And yes, I am aware that I have a ridiculous number of batteries. I'm kind of crazy that way. We buy them at Costco.)

This was all the detritus from the drawer that I was able to get rid off:

Most of it is trash. Like that incredibly malformed battery there in front. I don't know how that happened, but I had to have applied a lot of force to do that to a triple A.

I have no idea how to count the number of items I'm getting rid of on this one, but because I considered this day's decluttering to be a smashing success, I'm going to count it as six. (That puts my total at 505. I'm way ahead of schedule. Yay for me!)

In the drawer itself, I used some little plastic containers to consolidate all the tiny, weird-shaped batteries used for watches and cameras and whatnot. I also used a container for adhesives and safety pins. The double A batteries also got their own container.

Here is my finished product:

Now I can open and close that drawer without having to reach in and shove something down with my hand. I know you know what I'm talking about.

I'm putting this one down in the "actually improved my life" category.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

As Promised...

After my dismal failure to declutter yesterday, I started early this morning with a post-breakfast trip to the hand-me-down closet.

I used to have a hand-me-down organizational system, but three kids and six years later, my system has mutated into "throw the old clothes in the closet and shut the door really fast before any of them fall out."

(This goes double for the shoes, which are balanced precariously on an upper shelf. If you don't get that door closed fast enough, you are going to take a boot to the forehead.)

This closet is really irritating to get into because my changing table sits directly in front of it. There is going to come a day—and that day might be soon—when I no longer need that changing table and I will have unfettered access to the closet. Oh, those will be good times. (For more than one reason.)

I concentrated on shoes today. I'd like to say that was my plan all along, but it wasn't. I just got really overwhelmed by the pile of clothes that I would have had to sort if I took on the clothes.

Without further ado, here is my pre-sort shoe shelf:

The clothes are even worse.

Most of these are shoes that Quinn has outgrown. Why I put them back in the closet, I don't know. Especially when I had to haul a changing table out of the way to do so.

I'm donating seven pairs of shoes and throwing away one stray flip flop.

If you're curious, there are fewer than that number of shoes still in the closet. (I forgot to take that photo.)

I also found a couple other things like another unused curtain rod and a curtain ruffle from Jack's bedding set. It still had all of its original creases. Another never used item.

I think (I think) those wheels belong to a crib that I am giving to a friend of mine. I'll have to remember to ask her if she wants them. But I'll have to wait a while because she's currently busy, having unexpectedly had her baby yesterday! Congratulations to S, G, C, and new baby W!

Total items for today: 11

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Spring Break = Junk Break

Man, spring break is really messing with my ability to declutter. It makes me worry about what summer will bring. I had a lot of fun today with three different sets of moms/kids to play with at different times.

But somehow I didn't manage to send a single thing home with any of them. Am I losing my mojo?

I swear I'm getting back on the horse tomorrow. Maybe I'll do a big project. Maybe I'll go through the hand-me-down closet.

That will be a good "before" photo.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Fuuuuuuck You, Scooba!

It's a long story and I don't really want to go into it and how irritated I am at the iRobot corporation, Hammacher Schlemmer, and myself, but suffice it to say that the three of us managed to screw me out of a refund for this lame-ass floor washing robot.

I'm stripping it for parts to give to my friend. When I was still in my honeymoon phase with Scooba, I convinced her that buying one was a good idea. She hasn't let go of the dream yet, but I have.

After I'm left with just Scooba's skeleton, I'm going to put it in my driveway and back the fuck over it.

I'm just glad I didn't buy a Roomba too.

Total items for today: 1


Monday, March 24, 2008

Things I Hate. Do You Want Them?

Cute, but useless:

These were part of the goody bag for a birthday party for a two-year-old we attended last year. There was a pony to ride and some other animals to pet. There was hay to play in and throw at each other. Oh, good times.

And these animals are adorable, but they are only used by my children to put in piles of their crap and it drives me crazy to have to put them away six times in a week.


I'm not quite ready to get rid of the foam letters that go with these borders, but I am really sick of finding these stupid things everywhere:

On the other hand, if you need more borders, they would be very useful.

And just so we're clear, if my kids ever ask about these border pieces: They NEVER existed.


Total items for today: 17

(Each of those border pieces counts as one because they are so damn annoying.)

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Hoping For Spring!

My mood was optimistic today when I decided to go through Quinn's dresser and get rid of the winter clothes that will be too small next year. (I love that last child because when he's done with clothes I get to get rid of them instead of pack them away for the next boy.)

Because I've erred on the happy "It's spring!" side before only to be smacked in the face with subsequent cold and snow, I left him some sweaters.

And it's not like he wears most of his clothes anyway. He is extremely picky and freaks out if I try to put him in something slightly different than that which he likes. I'm sure if I'd asked, he would have helped me himself.

I got rid of 21 items of clothing. (He's clearly my child in that, like me, he has too many clothes. This is also the burden of the third boy.)


I got rid of my very last baby gate today as well. It has been wedged in my fireplace opening since we moved into this house. I decided that the children were finally old enough not to hurl themselves into the ashy hearth. I'm not counting this as an item because I took the gate out to the garage and brought the fireplace screen in from the garage, so I didn't actually get rid of anything.

I'm just bragging that I don't have baby gates anymore.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Too Many Envelopes

I took care of another desk drawer today. It's the drawer into which I throw all of my cards and notebooks and checkbooks:

I don't know if you do this, but people give me notecards and I like them so much I don't want to send them away to other people. So they pile up. After rifling through them all I made yet another promise to myself: I'm going to start sending these to people. No more hoarding.

I moved all of my envelopes to my "mailing stuff" drawer in my kitchen. And I moved blank paper to my "blank paper" drawer in my art area.

I also found a lot of stuff to recycle, some seriously outdated financial stuff, and my passport that is good for two more months. (Who wants to take me to Thailand before June?)

Anywho, my photo of junk to get rid of was really boring, so I'm not going to post it, but I managed to get rid of 7 things.

And after I reorganized my drawer, I was able to actually see the wood bottom. I don't know how long it's been since I've seen the bottom of a drawer.

Friday, March 21, 2008

My Poor Friends

No one's ever going to want to come to my house again.

A radiant WhyMommy came by with both of her little guys today to play. And I swear I didn't invite her just so she'd take some of my stuff home with her.

We've done some trading of items in the past. She gave me a used futon for my basement (which I use to nap on lie down on while vigilantly watching my children play). And I gave her a Cozy Coupe.

But now I'm ahead, because all she had to do was say the word "tent" and I was all like, "Hey, do you want our play tent? You really should take it. Here, I'll walk it out to your car."

And then, when Widget pulled out the fire truck he always likes to play with at our house, I was like, "Distract my kids, I'm going to haul these upstairs while they're not looking and put them where you can't possibly forget them. After I photograph them of course."



But while they are large items, that's only two things. So I went through my map cabinet tonight while I was making tacos for dinner.

And by "map cabinet," I mean, "top shelf of one of my cabinets that I can't reach so I throw shit up there that I'll never use."

I found 16 maps, 2 atlases, and 3 guide books that I was able to get rid of.

But here was my mistake: I didn't keep WhyMommy around to distract my husband.

"You're going to throw all those maps away?" he asked, completely chagrined.

"When are we going to use them?" I asked. I should have asked if he had even been aware of the maps' existence, because he hasn't exactly been poring over them at night to find new routes to the park down the block.

And frankly, if I have three atlases of Maryland and one is from this year, one is from 2000, and one is from the '90s, how many do I really need? And have you ever heard of MapQuest anyway?

But I restrained myself from being (too much of) a jerk and quietly placed them in the recycling bin.

Total items for today: 23

Thursday, March 20, 2008

An Ounce of Prevention...

You know that I've been trying to get rid of stuff, but the counterpoint to getting rid of clutter is not bringing it into the house in the first place.

The minor holidays present a challenge for me. When I was growing up, my mom always made a point of having us wake up to a selection of small presents on days like Valentine's Day and Easter. (I'm a secular kid, so Easter counts as just an Easter Bunny holiday for my family.)

I was proud of myself this year when I ignored Valentine's Day completely. (My husband may have been less pleased about that, but that's an issue for Stimeyland.) I didn't give my kids Valentine candy or cards, or little pink and red crap for them to muck up their shelves with.

I'm a little more inclined to give them something for Easter. Because the Easter Bunny comes to hide eggs, it makes sense that he would leave a little something for the kiddies, right? I mean, why waste a trip?

In years past, this has meant buying bunny ears, little stuffed animals, tiny rabbits and ducks made out of plastic that no one cared about, but they only cost a dollar, so I should get them, right?

This year I stuck mostly to consumables. The following shows everything the Easter Bunny is bringing all three kids:

Those eggs are sidewalk chalk (and only cost a dollar, so I should get them, right?). They'll each get three candy items and a box of goldfish. And I got them each a little Lego set, which won't cause any extra clutter because I'll just toss them in the existing Lego bin.

I'm not thrilled with the amount of sugar they'll be consuming on Sunday, but at least I didn't buy anything that I'll want to throw away five minutes later.

One of My Dump Zones

I think we all have those spaces in our homes that gather clutter. When we don't know what to do with something, we put it there. When an item doesn't have a home, but it can't just sit on the kitchen table forever, we put it there. My kitchen counter is one of those dump zones, but at least I clean that off every couple of days.

Today I worked on a dump zone in what I refer to as my "Secret Closet" because it is where I store birthday presents and wrapping paper, and no one but me is allowed in it. If not for the sloping ceiling, it would qualify as a walk-in closet. Although I guess it technically is a walk-in, as I walk in and out of it on a regular basis.

There is a file cabinet in this closet. And the top of that file cabinet is one of my dump zones. If I'm upstairs and I don't know what to do with something, it goes there:

First of all, I would like to say this: If I ever even suggest to you that I need to buy a frame, specifically a 4" x 6" frame, tell me to go look in my Secret Closet.

Among the about 10 items I'm discarding from this closet are: four unused nursing pads, two ice packs of the kind they give you at the hospital when you give birth (my youngest child is almost three), a visual timer that I never figured out how to use and that I've lost the adapter for, two iPod cases, more headbands, and assorted—for lack of a better word—trash.

There wasn't a lot to donate from this batch, but I managed to find a couple of things.

I was left with the photo frames, a beloved Zippo lighter from my smoking days, some decorative boxes, and a couple other things.

I think you'll agree that this is an improvement:

The best thing I found is this orange penis wine glass charm that I got at a Slumber Party I went to last year. Why I bothered to bring this home, I can't say. What else I brought home, I won't say.

Stay tuned for the eventual decluttering of the rest of this closet. It will be momentous.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Fast and Easy

I made a huge difference in about 10 minutes today. And that includes time spent taking and uploading photos.

I went from this:

to this:

You can't really tell the depth of mess in that first photo because of the angle and my poor photography skills, but this was one of those drawers that resisted closing. (Or rather—and more frustratingly—opening.) The culprit was a tall, unruly stack of CDs for different computer programs. My solution to that was simple: Put them with all the other software in the closet that I haven't decluttered yet. (See? Decluttering is easy.)

After I did that I even had room to put my extra inks in this drawer, thus consolidating all my "I need these items close at hand" computer gizmos in one drawer. I guess the things I print don't use a lot of pink and light blue. I'm obviously not producing baby announcements here.

I have to keep my printer manuals at hand because I regularly forget how to do things like scan. Or print. Or fax. I recently faxed 32 pages of records to a medical institution only to have them call to tell me that they'd received 32 blank pages. I'd put my originals in upside down. I'm totally the smartest person in the room. (Incidentally, I'm alone right now. I guess that makes me the dumbest person in the room too.)

I broke one of my own rules by keeping a couple cables that I am not sure what they will work with. But I'd rather waste 3 cubic inches of space keeping them than find out later that I threw out the cable that connects my video camera to my computer and I have to spend $45 and wait three days for shipping to get a new one. We don't want that.

There were exactly six things to throw away or donate from this drawer.

Like everyone else in the world, I have a pack of unopened ink for a printer I don't use anymore. We use a trackball, so I don't need that mouse pad. (Which was a going away present when we left Alaska. The giver explained that it was supposed to be a "moose pad," but the store had run out of the pads with photos of moose on them. It kind of wrecks the joke that we got a polar bear.)

Then there are some cable thingies and some documentation for a camera I don't use, plus some software I will never install on my computer.

Total items for today: 6

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Six Items; Lots of Words

I cleaned out Sam and Jack's closet today. Which was not a totally necessary thing to do. there were only 15 or so things in there to begin with, so it was tough to find six to get rid of. (It seems that I need to make better use of this closet.)

But I did!

For those of you who are counting, that clear bag in the back (1 item) has something in it (another item).

The curtain rod thingy has been in the closet since we moved in and we've never used it. In fact, there are new and improved curtain rods in the room now, so I'm tossing that old one.

The shoes also belonged to Quinn and also make him cry if I try to put them on his feet.

The book was the text for the Hanen Program class that Montgomery County Infants and Toddlers enrolled me in back when Sam was speech delayed. Apparently the Hanen Program works. Because these days he Never. Stops. Talking. I don't need that book anymore. All of my kids talk.

The sweatshirt provided material for a Halloween costume the year Sam decided that he just had to be Swiper. Although Dora the Explorer is everywhere, Swiper is apparently not the biggest seller, because no one makes Swiper Halloween costumes.

But because that was the first Halloween Sam wanted to dress up as a specific character, I commissioned someone to make him a costume. This sweatshirt's sleeves provided Swiper's tail. The reason I thought I should save this until he was big/unfashionable enough to want to wear an orange Old Navy hoodie sweatshirt with no sleeves is beyond me. I wish I had a digital photo of Sam in his costume though. He was very cute.

Total items for today: 6

Monday, March 17, 2008

Tool Time

Honestly, my before and after pictures today look almost the same:

But trust me when I say there is a huge difference in my tool cabinet.

Where before there was a giant pile of stuff, now there are smaller organized piles of things.

I consolidated my 6000 Allen wrenches, my 45 screwdrivers, and my hammers, nails, box cutters, wrenches, and levels in the red toolbox on the bottom.

My ratchet tools and drill & drill bits are there on the second shelf from the bottom. That black toolbox know holds my staggering collection of hooks and eyes. For some weird reason, I have a lot of them—like 12. If it was in an unopened package and there was a chance I might use the item some day, I kept it and put it in this toolbox. My cable ties are there too.

On the left door are all my drywall screws. Other than a screwdriver, drill, and hammer and nails, they are the things I use most, so it makes sense to have them handy.

Next shelf up, you'll find more tools, clamps, extension cords, and a couple miscellaneous items.

And on the top is spackle and painting supplies.

So what did I throw away? Mostly a billion and six individual screws, nuts, washers, and other assorted crap. I figure if I haven't used it since I last organized this cabinet a couple of years ago, then I really don't need it. And if it does turn out that I need that 1/2" pointy screw I just threw away? Well, I'll take my 12 cents down to the Home Depot and buy myself a new one.

Here is all the stuff that got trashed:

Included are little plastic pieces intended to be attached to to the inner doors of the cabinet to hang tools from. Whatever. There are also pieces to things that I don't know what they belong to. Be gone! My billion and six screws are here. As is a mostly empty can of carpet cleaner and some incense. Incense? I think I last used that in grad school.

Here's something else I decided to get rid of:

For someone with paralyzing arachnophobia and a healthy distaste for other bugs, the bug vacuum seemed like a good idea when I bought it. I used it a lot at first, but its suction proved weak and giant crickets proved stronger—not to mention hard to trap. (A Dyson vacuum cleaner proved stronger still.)

Plus I got skeeved out by all the bugs inside the thing. It was hard for me to get near it. (I have problems. I know.)

The last things I'm getting rid of are a variety of child safety devices.

There are no less than four kinds of outlet covers in that picture. Those will get donated.

And before you chastise me for my obviously unsafe storage of tools, let me assure you that my children have never even noticed this cabinet. Even when I was cleaning it out today, it was like I was invisible. Although I wonder if the plastic on the doors would take one of my hooks and eyes?

Total items/groups for today: 21

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Baby Steps

I had another slow day here at The Junk Pyramid. In fact, I only got rid of five items. But five is better than zero, right?

Here you'll see two Peter Rabbit crib sheets that really don't match Quinn's new toddler bed. Those sheets, by the way, they were Sam's. They've been well loved.

The shoes come from Quinn. The last time I put them on his feet he started crying and when I felt his toes, they were all squished up at the front.

The other two things are bath toys. The one on the left is a container of bath crayons, which are a total pain in the ass, and almost used up anyway. The thing on the right is a tub of pellets that change the color of the bath. It is empty. I include it in my count because, even though it's empty, it's been on a shelf in my bathroom for months.

And that, my dear friends, is the very definition of clutter: an unusable item taking up space and causing ugliness. Well, that's my definition of clutter anyway.

Total items for today: 5

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Books From the Past

Those of you who know me know how difficult it is for me to get rid of books. Those of you who don't know me may be aware of it too.

Nonetheless, these books were kind of no-brainers:

Let's start with the obvious: A 1998 almanac and a 1995 guide to movies aren't that valuable because, as you may be aware, the world has marched on since the '90s.

The dollhouse books? At one point I swore I was going to build a dollhouse for my kids. And by "for my kids," I mean "for me." I was going to put tiny furniture in it and wallpaper it and put itty-bitty flower pots in the windows, and maybe I was going to wire it for lights, and if the teensy occupants built enough equity, I was going to have them refinance and put a tile floor and granite counters in the kitchen.

But I'm never going to do that. So someone else can have these books.

There's a book there about professions in the health care industry because there was a time when I was sure that I should be a surgical tech. That's probably not going to happen.

And the other book is a leftover from college. I got rid of most of the books I was assigned to read in college, but I kept this one because one of my favorite professors wrote it.

But then it occurred to me: I didn't read the thing when I was supposed to, so I probably am never going to read it now. So there's really no use holding onto it just because I enjoyed hearing my professor talk about the separation of church and state.


On another note, I found more plastic eggs.

What is wrong with me that I have this many eggs? I'm going to try to donate them to the friend that took my last batch. And if she doesn't want 'em, I'm going to try Freecycle.


The last thing for today is a selection of balls from my basement inflatable ball pit. (Don't even get me started about that.) I wasn't sure if I should count these as an item because I didn't know if throwing away 18 balls and keeping 482 counts as decluttering. But then I added the purple ball and decided that I could legitimately count the batch as 1.

Don't look too closely at the balls in this picture because the reason I'm getting rid of them is that they fell victim to a diaper non-containment disaster that occurred in the ball pit last week. I came across these while Clorox wiping the majority of those 482 balls.

(The best part is that I was alerted to the fact that the diaper had failed in the ball pit as opposed to elsewhere in the basement (as I'd previously thought), when Quinn brought me a poop-covered ball in the middle of a potluck for three moms and nine kids that I was hosting. You've not seen parents yell, "Out of the ball pit!" and line their kids up for hand washing faster than I have.)

If you play in my basement, rest assured that the ball pit is as close to sterile as it's ever going to be. And don't worry, I'm not donating those balls to anyone.


Total items for today: 8

Friday, March 14, 2008

Off Topic

I just have one thing to say: Jack really needs to go to school. After two sick days with him and one not sick but possibly contagious day, I am fatigued by having kids all day long. What in the hell am I going to do this summer?

Consider this an official call for summer playdates.

Total number of items for today: 0

(And in fact I should probably subtract a couple after my trip to Target. How was I supposed to not buy those adorable basketball-shaped ice packs for lunch boxes?

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Salt and Pepper, Anyone?

'Cause we have some if you need it.

I tackled my other pantry cabinet today. This one had a lot more food in it. And a lot more spilled food coloring. (Which I ended up consolidating with my many cake sprinkles in a Tupperware container.)

It was nearly impossible to tell what was in here by simply opening the cabinet door:

I think my biggest problem is that all of my flour and baking stuff was on the bottom shelf, but it really didn't need to be. I need to have cans of food where I can tell what it is instead of cake flour, wheat flour, and two kinds of brown sugar where I can see it. And, contrary to appearances and the existence of three containers of cupcake papers, I don't really bake all that often.

I ended up moving my canned goods to the bottom shelf where they will be easier to inventory. Flour, sugar, jarred spaghetti sauce and other more often used items went on the second shelf.

(Although my kids won't eat the current spaghetti sauce I have because when I thought it was clever to get sauce with spinach in it so they'd eat a vegetable, I neglected to remember that they have eyes, would see the green bits, and then refuse to eat spaghetti—one of the six foods they're usually willing to consume.)

I also put extra containers of spices on this shelf. Note to Alex: Why did you buy a two and half pound container of garlic salt?

On the third shelf I put the weird flours, baking stuff, Bisquik, and some of the many pudding cups I found.

The fourth shelf is for packaged bake mixes, oats, and extra containers of peanut butter and ketchup.

Some odd things I found? A can of water chestnuts. An open envelope of yeast. A box of Splenda. And astounding amounts of baking powder and the aforementioned pudding.

I was able to find some food to donate this time at least. There's a food donation organization housed in the church that houses my preschool, so I get to just drop that off on Monday.

Here is my donation:

And here is my sad parade of expired items.

There was a time when I ate an envelope of tuna for lunch every day. There are two whole stacks of those behind the rest of the food.

Goal: Make better use of my food before it expires.

Approximate items for today: 20

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Rice With Pasta For Dinner, Anyone?

This one didn't make me happy. It made me feel sad and wasteful and as if I were directly responsible for starving people who would have loved the expired food I threw away today.

I have two pantry-type cabinets. I went through one of them today:

It's tough to know if what I need is somewhere in there. So I end up buying more whole canned tomatoes or whatever, and when I figure out that I already have whole canned tomatoes, it's 2008 and the original tomatoes expired in 2006.

True story.

Here are my sad expired castaways:

Most of this expired in 2006. How does that happen? You'll see a bunch of 100-calorie snack foods I got tired of before making it through the whole Costco pack. By the date on them, I'm guessing I went through that phase in 2005.

You'll also see a package of Whoppers left over from Halloween. Because nobody likes to eat the Whoppers.

And that green Archer Farms meal in the back? I bought a couple of them from Target thinking they might be easy all-in-one meals. Don't fall into that trap. Easy, yes. Delicious, no.

Here's my after shot:

I organized this cabinet by making a rice shelf and a pasta shelf. I'm moving all of the canned goods to the other cabinet so they're all together.

Except for beans for taco night. All the taco fixin's are staying together here. Along with adult snack food and candy that gets doled out to the children to bribe them to potty train or fetch Alex beers or whatever.

I found a bunch of Top Ramen in this cabinet from the Ramen-craving days of Quinn's pregnancy. (Maybe my mass consumption of this type of "food" explains why he is so weird.) Anyway, this is also expired, but I can't imagine that there's anything in there that will kill me if I eat it. It's just noodles, salt, and MSG, right? I'm having it for lunch today. And tomorrow. And the next day. (It's a little embarrassing to admit to you that I'm going to be eating expired Ramen noodles for lunch. See how much I love and trust you?)

After organizing this cabinet, I've made a vow to work my way steadily through these dry goods before any more of them go bad and before I buy any more rice or pasta at the grocery store.

So if you have delicious rice or pasta recipes, I'd love to have them.

Tomorrow I'll go through the other cabinet.

Total items for today (after grouping by category): 7

Update: Expired Top Ramen is really gross.


Why six items a day?
What? You have a better number?

I didn't want the pressure of too many items a day, but too few wouldn't make a big difference. Plus, see my diagram? There are six sections. I know one shouldn't have anything to do with the other, but I like the symmetry of it.

As I'm working through my things though, the number 6 seems increasingly irrelevant.

Why do you have to write a blog about this? Why can't you just declutter and shut the hell up about it?
Because I have a need to establish rules for myself to follow. But I like to break those rules, so I have to feel accountable to someone. Y'all will do.

There have been days I haven't felt like doing any decluttering, but then I think about my blog and I go ahead and do it. It's very motivating. I highly suggest you start your own decluttering blog as well. And then I'll have another motivating factor: my extreme competitiveness.

Whirlwind wants to know: Can I steal your idea?
Please do. (See above.) I'll even put up a blogroll of declutterers so all of us junk pyramiders can get inspiration from each other!

The New Girl asks: What are you doing about your husband's stuff? And your kids' stuff?
For my kids, they're still young enough that I can take things without them objecting too much. Especially if I remove them while they're at school. (Oh, I'm not a nice person.) I'm trying to stick with things that they don't care about any more. Sometimes Sam will remember something that's long gone, or find something in the recycling bin or donation box, and then I have some 'splaining to do.

My husband is a harder case. He has a ton of crap, but he doesn't have the deculuttering bug. For now I'm postponing doing anything with it. At some point I'm going to have to go through it and ask him if I can throw away each item. And he's going to say no, and it's going to be really sad and frustrating for me. So far he's wanted to keep everything I've asked him about.

Fortunately, it will take a lot of time for me to declutter my stuff, so I can postpone this problem for a while.

Thrift Store Mama asked this question (and the next two): How and why did the stuff get into your house in the first place?
Well, now, there's the rub. I like to buy things. It makes me irrationally happy.

We have so many toys because (a) I like toys, (b) my kids like toys, (c) as a newer mom I liked watching my kids enjoy a new toy, and (d) I used to use retail therapy as real therapy.

I'm better now. Most of the time.

I've been working for a while now on not buying as many things. I used to go to Target more than once a week and buy, buy, buy. Now I go maybe once a month. And buy less.

At 34 I've finally come to the realization that I don't need to buy things I don't need. (Seems obvious, huh?)

Are you following a plan/method as you move through the house decluttering?
Nope. I've got not a plan in the world. Every day I assess how much time I have and what looks like fun to declutter. Or I look at what really needs to be taken care of and I set aside time to do it. Also I plan to declutter according to what I can donate. I decluttered clothes when Amvets called for them. I decluttered towels when the humane society needed towels. And so on.

How do you manage doing it everyday in addition to your regular household chores?
Let's get something straight. I don't like to clean, but I LOVE to organize. So this is perfect for me. So how do I fit it in with my regular household chores? Well, I ignore the household chores.

Plus, I'm hoping that if I get rid of a bunch of my stuff that it will be easier to clean.

Although if I'm being completely honest, most of my little projects so far have not taken more than 15-30 minutes.

And there are things that need to be decluttered in pretty much every area of my home, so I can usually find something to clean out wherever I'm taking care of my children.

Can I have your junk?

Email me at stimeyland (at) gmail (dot) com if you see something you like. It's been suggested (by The New Girl) that I set up PayPal for shipping costs and send my detritus all over the country. If there's interest, I just may do so. 'Til then, we can work something out between us.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

One Item Every 3.33 Seconds

I did a fast one today.

I'd co-oped in the morning, carpooled kids after preschool, and then gone to playgroup. I was looking forward to an evening of karate and then dinner prep and then working after the kids went to bed.

So I decided to spend one minute decluttering some stuff that I didn't have to sort:

That's 18 CDs of kids' music.

I had kids in Kindermusik or Music Together for probably five years straight. Consequently I have a lot of CDs. I got rid of some of these a few days ago and it was hard. We listened to those CDs over and over. But we didn't listen to any of them longer than we spent in the corresponding session of the class.

I could hold onto them in the hopes that we would listen to them again (which is what I've been doing, not to mention very unlikely), or I could—gasp—declutter!

The choice was obvious: toss 'em in my donation box.