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)