Thursday, July 31, 2008

Closet Clutter, Miscellaneous Crap

I have found through this whole decluttering project that miscellaneous crap represents maybe 25 or 30 percent of clutter. That's a lot. Today I'll catch you up on the miscellaneous crap I found loitering in my Secret Closet.

I found some clothes, mostly mine.

There's a white shirt I have to get rid of because I spilled chocolate on it. I can't even blame it on my kids. There is the top to some pajamas I had that were covered in polar bears and reindeer. I loved them, but I think the bottoms went...somewhere? So I'm donating the top.

I also found some cheap, tarnished earrings. I remember taking them out and tossing them away seconds after Alex gave me these far more beautiful earrings:

Last year for Christmas, I thought I Santa thought he was being very clever by buying ridiculously cheap stocking stuffers from Oriental Trading. But the dumb thing is that those ridiculously cheap stocking stuffers come in sets of 12, and last I checked, I don't have 12 children. I have three. And two nephews, who I sent some of this stuff to.

So now I have at least seven of each of these holiday things. (Do any local Santas need some early stocking stuffers?) I also found a stash of little cars.

Miscellaneous crap items for today: 44


Coming soon: This half of the closet:

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Closet Clutter, Book Jackets

So you know how you buy or receive children's hardcover books complete with dust jackets? Well, if you're like me, you generally take the dust jacket off because otherwise your kids will take it off anyway and then you have to pick up both the book and the jacket instead of just the book.

Apparently I'm not the only one who does this, because I remember reading in a parenting magazine a tip that addressed this very thing five or so years ago.

The tip was that you can take those dust jackets, frame or otherwise prepare them, and then use them as wall art.

Great tip, huh?

I thought so. But I've been plagued by it ever since.

Because I saved all my dust jackets instead of just throwing them away in the first place like I should have done. And I never created any art out of them.

So now I'm recycling them whenever I find them in their little stashes in literally every closet in my house. I found three in The Secret Closet.

Total items for today: 3

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Closet Clutter, Saved Cardboard Boxes

Alternatively titled, "Stimey Reveals Levels of Crazy Heretofore Unsuspected."

Remember the "piles of really ridiculous stuff" that were in my closet before I decluttered part of it?

Here is one of them:

Yes, I had a giant pile of intact cardboard boxes AND inflatable packing material stored in that closet. Because you just never know when you'll need to mail something and the post office will have run out of boxes.

There is one time a year—Christmas—when I am glad I have boxes and packing material, and even then I usually use more recently acquired boxes instead of this stash.

And the packing material? What I've done here is make air take up space. God, I'm an idiot. I got rid of ALL of that.

But still, even though I accept the fact that I am completely insane, I cannot help but keep some of the boxes. Maybe next time I go through this closet, you'll see me get rid of those that remain:

I count 9 boxes recycled and 1 big pile of inflated plastic.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Closet Clutter, Day One

I'm going on vacation in less than a week and know that I won't be decluttering my house while I'm away. So in an effort to create good will before I bail for two weeks, I started work on one of the areas of my house I've been dreading most.

The Secret Closet.

It is thus named because it is where I keep presents before they are wrapped. It's also where I keep a couple of other things:

This is what I saw when I opened the door to this closet today.

I'm going to be taking a few days to post all of the things I took out of this closet so as not to bore you to tears all in one day. I will, however, show you before and after photos of one section of the closet. I'm really pleased by this.

Most of what I had to do was neaten things up. And there were piles of really ridiculous things in there. More on that later this week.

But here are some things I got rid of:

I might try to sell the cameras. There's also a child-safety mesh balcony railing that we don't use anymore, as well as an iPod armband that I don't need anymore now that I run with an iShuffle. (Well, actually I don't run much at all anymore, but if I did I would be wearing that Shuffle.)

That fish used to be a clock that I adored for many years. But it broke so I decided to make an art project out of it. That was more than a year ago. To the donation bin with it!

But by far my favorite thing that I found today was this:

Yeah. But extra pieces of what?

Here's a good rule of thumb: If you no longer even know what "extra pieces" belong to, throw them in the trash RIGHT NOW!

Total items for today: 7


I've written and scheduled my next few posts to be published over the next week, so the count you see to the right reflects my totals for the whole week, not just today.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Garage Giveaways

I was so sad the other day when an organization called to try to arrange a charity pickup on a day I was going to be out of town. But then two days ago an MS charity called to say they would come by on Monday. I absolutely love it when people come to my house to pick up my stuff. Love it.

Now, one of my unwritten rules here at The Junk Pyramid (there are many such rules, and they change on a semi-daily basis) is that when I am collecting bags of pre-sorted junk from my garage for a pickup, I must also collect at least six other items from the garage.

If I continue to do that, my garage will be cleaned out right on time. In 2032.

So I randomly chose a bin and found 20 items. (A couple of things didn't make it into the exceptionally well-lit photo above.)

In the photo you will find completely unused baking paraphernalia that I won at a raffle three years ago. You'll also see another plastic Eddie Bauer water bottle and some more pieces of baby monitor. (How many baby monitors did I have to begin with, anyway?) There is a square tablecloth, which is funny because I don't have any square tables.

There are also five flower-shaped trivets there. Way back when I lived in Oakland, California, there was an elderly couple who lived on our street. They invited us to come over to their garage sale one day. Alex went, and once there under the very watchful eyes of this couple, he felt obligated to purchase something. The only thing is, this was not so much a garage sale as a sale of dollar store items marked up 1000 percent. Alex bought one of the cheapest items, which was a package of these trivets for $10. We still have five or six of them in the kitchen.

Total items for today: 20

Thursday, July 24, 2008

This is Why My Suitcase Weighed 68 Pounds

Since I got home from my trip, my bag of pared down swag has been sitting on my counter. Every time I start to look at it I see more things that I can't believe I brought home. Fortunately, I am supposed to be passing on a swag bag to another blogger soon. That bag is on my counter as well, so whenever I find anything I don't need, I just toss it into her bag.

It's good stuff. It's just not good for me.

Like that Merci chocolate in the back center. Like I need more chocolate.

Or the Sesame Street mouse pad. What on God's green earth ever possessed me to pick that up? I use a trackball so I don't need a mouse pad. And my kids are scared of Sesame Street.

My kids are also apparently scared of sunglasses. Into the giveaway bag with them.

That little gray box in the foreground? I was excited when someone from kaboodle handed it to me because: Oooh! A little gray box!

I continued to be excited even after I found out it's a purse hook. Until I thought more about it and realized that although it's totally cool and all, I don't know that I have ever had a need for a purse hook. And if I did have a need, I'm not sure that the tiny hook would hold a purse packed full of pull-ups, sunscreen, and wooden trains.

Total items: 9


I'd also like to take this opportunity to post part of a comment I got on my last post about giving away swag. Emma says:
You can't count that as junk you've got rid of! You just brought it in... surely all the other swag should be subtracted from your total ;)
Clearly Emma has been talking to my husband because he's always telling me that when I bring a lot of crap into the house I should be subtracting it from my count.

Fortunately I make my own rules here at The Junk Pyramid, and you clutter accountants can suck it. (Oh, I kid. I love you all.)

Here is part of what I wrote back to Emma:
I believe that if I had refused the swag it wouldn't have counted as items I got rid of. But I don't think it matters how long something has been in my possession, as long as it is in my possession. Whether in a hotel room, or at home, I was still getting rid of my belongings. Especially the stuff I brought home in my suitcase.

If I had bought the items in SF, then given them away, they would have counted, right? Just 'cause it's free, doesn't mean it's not clutter.
I absolutely loved getting this comment though. I am thrilled to hear that someone cares enough to object! What do you guys think? Should it count or not?

(And don't think if you all say that it shouldn't count that I'll be removing those items from my count, 'cause I won't. Remember? My blog, my ridiculous rules.)

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Swag Problem

You may have heard that I went to BlogHer last weekend. (Here is where you mutter, "Yeah, you won't shut up about it.")

When I packed, I had a big ol' suitcase mostly empty but for three outfits and a huge bag of luggage tags. When I came home that big ol' suitcase was stuffed full and weighed 68 pounds, resulting in a heavy luggage charge at the airport.

But it could have been so much worse.

See, everywhere you turned at BlogHer, there were people trying to give you free stuff. And it was awesome. Except for when you discovered that the bag you were just handed was full of stuff you didn't need or that was totally awesome, but not something you can use.

For instance, that Mod Mum baby sling was completely awesome, but I think I would have a hard time forcing Sam to sit in it.

Fortunately BlogHer had anticipated this dilemma and was providing a swag recycling room sponsored by Zwaggle. Basically, if you acquired something you didn't want, you could take it to that room, where other people could take the item, or they would make sure it would get recycled. How cool is that?

(Maybe they've been reading The Junk Pyramid. Huh? Huh? Okay, they haven't, but let me have my delusions, thank you very much.)

I was able to find 19 items to put in the Zwaggle room.

Then after I carted all million pounds of my swag home, I found still more stuff I didn't need. So I put it in a bag I carried home for another blogger. She's getting 21 of my pieces of swag. Hopefully she will appreciate the lotion that I am too squeamish to put on.

So after my extended hiatus from de-junking, my total items for the week is 40.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Cookbook Clutter

The Junk Pyramid took a little bit of a hit today.

In an effort to make Quinn poop, I've resorted to buying trinkets to bribe him. I tried to find cheap things that I wouldn't hate ten minutes after I gave them to him, but that's tough. So I brought possible future junk into my house today.

I didn't do too badly though. I ended up buying several Playmobil knights. And a mermaid. And a merman. Those are sort of for me though. Have I mentioned how much I adore Playmobil toys?

Anyway, I was at Target buying the above and running into this lovely lady, when I pictured my Junk Pyramid Count* in my head. Everytime I bring something into the house that is not a necessary or semi-necessary (Alex and I have different opinions about necessity) item, Alex tells me that I should subtract it from my count.

Goddamn lawyer.

Anyway, I don't feel bad enough to start subtracting items from my count, but I do feel bad enough that I came straight home and organized and decluttered my cookbook cabinet.

The before:

Yes, that is the empty ant farm up on the top shelf. It's waiting for my next foray into insecticide.

This cabinet is also where I keep my tape. Because if I keep it lower down, my kids will use it to tape off entire rooms and create giant wasteful messes. FUN FACT: Jack's teacher this year had to remove the tape from her classroom's writing table specifically because of him. He would use it to tape off the housekeeping corner so no one could go in.

I found a lot in here. Like three sushi cookbooks. Please. I'm not making homemade sushi anytime soon, and if I do, that's what the internet is for. I also found water balloons, an unopened package of nightlights, and a baby monitor adapter.

I found Rachael Ray's cookbook. I decided to keep it. For now. But she's on probation. I kept one kid's cookbook and multiple books containing "tips" about cooking. Tips like "How to boil an egg." I swear to God, every single damn time I hardboil eggs, I have to look it up. Although the last time, I accidentally left them boiling for, like, 45 minutes and they were fine, so I'm not sure what I'm worried will happen.

This is what I got rid of:

That's 20 books, 2 notebooks, and an adapter for a baby monitor that I gave away weeks ago. I think I might try to sell some of these. I'll have to wipe the food off of them first though.

And here is what I'll find in a month or so when I decide to cook a meal for my family:

It wasn't as hard as I thought it would be.


Oh, and I can't forget the single, but GIANT item I got rid of on Monday. I invited some people over to play in my pool and convinced one of them to take this home:

I bought that thing four years ago for Jack's first birthday thinking it would be something he and Sam could play on together and wouldn't be just another thing cluttering up my house. (It would clutter up my yard instead, of course.)

Well, my kids have used it maybe ten times since I've gotten it. And that's only when one of their friends is over and wants to play on it. So long, teeter totter! May you have years of happiness killing someone else's grass.

Total items for today (and Monday): 24

* I think that "The Count" is getting increasingly unreliable. The number of items I've gotten rid of is accurate, and the goal number jives with the number of days (I think). It's just that the number of days may be a figment of my imagination at this point. I try to remember to update it even when I don't post, but frankly, I cannot guarantee that this is day 126. Just some truth in reporting for you.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Virtual Uncluttering

I'm not going to add any numbers to my count, but I threw a whole bunch of things in the trash today. The reason I'm not counting them is because I threw them into my computer's trashcan.

I spent about a half hour today and a half hour yesterday clearing out and streamlining my computer and email.

Yesterday I organized my Hotmail account and all my contacts. I marked people as favorites and mercilessly removed people from my favorites list. I deleted email folders that were useless and trashed messages I'd saved that let me know that the shoes I ordered two years ago were shipped. End result: my email will be marginally simpler to use. And I'm only using 1% instead of 5% of my allotted storage.

But I feel better.

And today I cleaned out my external hard drives. I have two of them. One is dedicated to videography projects and one is dedicated to my job, my videography, my volunteer positions, and my blogging. I cleared a lot of extraneous files and folders so that everything is a lot more organized and uncluttered.

My house may not be cleaner, but my computer is.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The Great Toy Purge of Aught-Eight is Complete

I've been missing around these parts lately. I've spent the past week spending every second I haven't been in charge of my children working on a job I had due for my videography business.

But even in the midst of deadline chaos, I did not forget about my Pyramid. Because every second I was alone with my kids I spent in the basement playroom finishing my Basement Reorganization and Toy Purge.

And purge I did:

Some of that is destined for the trash and some of it is good for donation. Regardless of its destination, there are 31 less items in my basement than there were yesterday.

So now I think that every toy we have is one we use. I no longer have broken toys. I no longer have toys that are too young for my kids. I no longer have toys that my kids don't play with. I no longer have assorted bits of trash in my basement.

And the basement is super organized and beautiful. I don't think I'm ever going to let a kid play in there again. I think I would like to preserve it in its current state.