Monday, September 28, 2009

The Playroom, Part One Million and Six

I know I just posted about the deep cleaning of the playroom I did over the summer, but I want to show you why you can't just make one sweep through a room and assume that you're done decluttering.

I got rid of a good number of toys and detritus last time I went through the room, but less than two months later, look at all the stuff I managed to pull out of there:

I took this photo on my kitchen counter.
The black crock with the whisk is not being decluttered.

I'm calling this 17 items, most of which had to be thrown away, unfortunately.

But I was left with a playroom pretty much stripped of anything extraneous.

Dammit. There's a can of paint up there on the top of the shelf. That definitely counts as clutter that needs to be gotten rid of. Also, this room used to be Quinn's, hence his name on the door. I haven't yet remembered to move his letters to Team Stimey Jr.'s door.

The next photo is of Lego Land. Jack pretty much lives in that corner.

And, yes, I am aware that overly decorated walls can contribute to a feeling of clutter, but I think it works in this room.

Plus I have a lot of cute art and nowhere else to put it.

The above photo is obviously the train table, at which my children rarely play anymore. That 5'x3'x2' area probably represents a thousand dollars worth of train paraphernalia collected over the past eight years. Anyone wanna give me a thousand dollars for some trains?

Total items discarded: 17
Total rooms completely awesomely clean: 1

Sunday, September 27, 2009

A Couple of Randoms...

I was going through my Junk Pyramid photo file and found a couple of things that I got rid of this summer.

The first is a puzzle. I bought an 8-pack of puzzles this summer for my kids and I to do together. And, yes, there were eight puzzles in the box, but only seven of them were unique. Unfortunately, the eighth puzzle was a duplicate of the Jack Sparrow puzzle we'd done first. So that is getting donated.

For our second item, we have a booster seat. About a year ago a neighbor asked if we had a need for a booster seat they were giving away and I said, "Yes! Yes! Yes!" because who doesn't have a need for an extra booster seat?

It turns out that I don't.

It sat in my garage for months until a friend of mine called in a panic to tell me that she couldn't come over to play and deliver her gerbils for pet sitting because her husband had driven off with her daughter's booster seat. Plus, he was going to have to come home early anyway to give her the seat because she had an appointment she couldn't miss.

Happily, I finally found a use for that extra booster seat. I drove it over to her house and traded it for a terrarium of gerbils, and told her that under no circumstances would I be accepting it back.

Total items: 2


Update to my ink recycling post: There were several of you (or two, but still) who opined that my used ink cartridges should count as items. Therefore, I will count the six ink cartridges I recycled the other day, and the one that I took in on Friday. Hooray! Seven more items on the count!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Jeez. How Many Shoes Do My Kids Have?

I was going through my backlog of photos of decluttering I did over the summer and found some more shoes.

I have no idea how my kids have this many shoes. I don't have that many shoes.

I also decluttered my snack cabinet at the same time that I threw out those shoes. I don't have a before photo, but I love my after photo.

I just got rid of some undesired and/or expired food from that cabinet. Also, one piece of a plastic container.

So that means 3 items, including the shoes. Now, three items isn't a lot, but look at that snack cabinet. Having a cabinet like that makes a huge difference in how I relate to my snacks. I feel like my life is so much easier with a neat snack cabinet.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

More Adventures in Ink Recycling

I was headed to Staples today to buy some printer ink, so I gathered up all my used up ink cartridges that have been taking up space on my desk to take them in to recycle them.

Look! I got rid of exactly six items today!* Although I wish I'd remembered to take the cartridge that had just run out of ink in my printer that necessitated the whole trip in the first place.

Last time I recycled ink, I was unclear about the way you get money back. It turns out that you don't get money immediately, but that it goes on your Staples card and you get it at the end of the month or year or whenever it is that they (claim to) send you money.

Either way, it's better than throwing old cartridges in the trash.

* Dammit. I just noticed that on my last post about ink, I said that these don't count as items because they are consumables. Stupid Past Stimey. I hate her.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Pulling a Stimey

Ever since I started this whole Junk Pyramid enterprise I have been the queen of foisting things onto my friends. If you're in my house and you mention you like something, chances are pretty good that you will walk out of there holding it.

Thrift Store Mama (I'm pretty sure it was her) coined the term "pulling a Stimey" at some point, the definition being that you force visitors to your home to take your clutter home with them.

I have to say that it is a very effective way of decluttering.

A couple of years ago I was at a kids' birthday party and one of the moms told the host mom that she liked the CD that was playing. "Take it," the host mom replied, "you can have it." She later told me that her philosophy is that if someone likes something more than you do, they should have it.

I like that. And I KNOW that there is someone out there who likes this CD more than I do:

Back in May we Pulled a Stimey with one of these horrible CDs, but somehow another one snuck into our house. So the other day when Jack's friend was over, I asked her if she'd like to take it home with her. (Hint: Pulling a Stimey goes even better if there is no other parent around.) Of course she did. And she happened to want the little Happy Meal toy I was getting rid of too.

I Pulled a Stimey not long after BlogHer as well. I was babysitting for a friend of mine and while she was gone, I put together her own little swag bag:

I also gave her some Stimeyland pens and put the whole thing in a resuable bag that I came home from BlogHer with. (Hint: Putting items in a bag is an effective way to give your friends more than they want to take because they don't see everything until they get home and it is too late.)

One of the best things about Pulling Stimeys is going to other people's homes and seeing our old stuff there being loved and played with. Definitely a great way to recycle.

Monday, September 21, 2009

And Now For the Bedroom Deep Clean

After tackling the playroom and the basement, I deep-cleaned my kids' room at the beginning of this month. I do this on a regular basis, but this time I was ruthless. If it hadn't been played with for a while, consistently makes a mess, or just flat out bothers me, I got rid of pretty much everything that wasn't a book or an article of clean, fitting, wearable clothing.

What you see here are some of those books and toys that didn't make the cut. Like those already filled in activity books in the front right. Why on earth would I keep those? I'm a moron.

Then I found some pads of paper and activity books that my kids never, ever look at. I'm donating them in hopes that someone else will want to use them. In the back are a bunch of dry erase books and sheets for teaching letters. Now that I think about it, I might donate this stuff to my preschool if they want it.

Next up is a belt that is too little for my kids. I also got rid of a ton of unmatched socks and stained white t-shirts. Plus some Spongebob underpants that Quinn finds too scary to wear.

The pajama shelf was next. My kids often don't wear pajamas, so one or two pairs apiece is plenty for them. What you see here is six sets of PJs and four pajama pants that are too small or that my kids refuse to wear anymore. You also see a stuffed Christmas tree I bought in 2002 and am sick to death of.

Next up are t-shirts that all my kids have grown out of. Also some shirts that I ironed designs on myself but that were mysteriously ruined by one trip through someone else's washing machine over the summer.

This last photo is of some stuffed animals that get in the way a lot and some Build-A-Bear accessories that are usually shoved into the back of a shelf. You'll also see a LOT of tiny notebooks. I tend to get these for birthday party goody bags and Christmas stockings. But my kids will never be able to work their way through our tiny notebook backlog, so hopefully whoever they get donated to will be able to find a use for them.

And there you have it. Not bad for a couple hours worth of work, eh? After looking at the photos, I count roughly 83 items.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Basement Deep Clean

You saw what happened in my kids' playroom the last time I deep cleaned it, now you can see what I took out of my basement. My basement functions as a large playspace and playroom and it often gets out of control. I don't bother to clean it often because I don't go down there very very much.

A while back I rearranged my bookshelves, straightened up the books, and rearranged the toy shelves.

Consequently I found a lot of books, toys, and dress up clothes that I didn't want to keep.

Unfortunately I didn't take photos of all the stuff spread out, so the only photos I have are the following: the first is my donation pile and the second is my trash bag.

It was altogether a very satisfying endeavor. Because I have no idea how many things I got rid of, I'm just going to give a low estimate of 30.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Emptying the Playroom, One Deep Clean at a Time

Every couple of months I do a thorough cleaning of my kids' room and their playroom. I put everything on the correct shelf, I deep clean, and I purge. The last time I did this to the playroom was mid-summer. In fact, it is due for another deep clean in the next week or so.

Even thought this is old news by now, I thought I would share with you all the stuff that I purged last time I was in there.

I got rid of my kids' bristle blocks that they don't play with anymore and I got rid of that big ol' box of stuff on the left there.

I don't remember what all was in there. But it was a good haul.

This next photo is of all the trash and recycling that accumulated in that room in a couple of months. This is why I have to deep clean so often.

But the best part of this particular purge is that I finally got rid of all the little decorative train track pieces that are adorable but that my kids never use. They like tracks. And trains. And that's about it. (And, frankly, it may be time to pack up the train table before too long.)

I'm counting the bristle blocks as one item, I'm going to (under)guesstimate ten items in the box, and I'll say that I got rid of 12 groups of train toys.

Total items: 23

Friday, September 18, 2009

Useful, But Never Used

A couple of weeks ago, I got rid of this:

First of all, let's just try to pretend that the table in the background isn't the most cluttered table on the planet.

Moving on.

This fantastic roll of newsprint seems like a silly thing to give away what with all the possibilities it holds. You might think I shouldn't have put it in the recycling bin. But what if I told you that this particular roll of newsprint is older than both Jack and Quinn?

Funny story about this roll of paper. Back when I lived in Alaska for a year, starting when Sam was 10 months old, I used to go to the gym every single weekday morning. And the lady that ran the daycare there told me that the Fairbanks paper had all kinds of extra ends of newsprint rolls that they got rid of, but that you could just go pick them up and use them for free.

What a great idea, I thought!

So I tromped over to the newspaper office one day and dragged Sam out of the car. He was all ensconced in a giant blue snowsuit, it being 20 degrees below zero. We went into the office and were confronted with a busy room and no obvious front desk.

The daycare lady had told me that the production room was down a hall that started to the right of the entry room and that the rolls of paper were just inside the door on the left. So I walked in like I knew what I was doing, wandered down the hall (puffy blue toddler in arms), and found the production room.

I located the end rolls and picked the one that still had the most paper on it.

Now, Sam wasn't walking very well yet in those days, especially if encumbered by a large blue snowsuit. So I put him in one arm and the (very heavy) roll in the other arm and walked right back out of the building.

No one said a word to me.

I still wonder about that. It's not like I looked like I belonged. And it's not like I was wandering around in the lobby. I was deep in the bowels of the production plant. You know, with a toddler.

Anywho. We used the paper roll a couple times and then had it moved from Fairbanks, Alaska, to Maryland. Think on that for a minute.

Once we were in Maryland, we used it a couple more times.

It's huge too, so it's hard to find a place for it, so we would forget about it all the time until it got in our way and then we would curse at it. I think the cats may have used it for a scratching post.

I'm really happy that it's gone. At least I got a funny story out of it.

But it was a good lesson. Sometimes something that is super useful and a great idea just doesn't work for your family. And that's okay. In retrospect, I wish I'd Freecycled it instead, but I'm just glad that I have my two cubic feet back.

Total items: 1

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Shoe Recycling

Yesterday I posted about giving away six pairs of shoes. Today I'm going to tell you about some good ideas for things to do with those shoes. Credit for these ideas goes largely to Whirlwind, who feeds me so many great decluttering resources.

You can always donate shoes to local organizations and thrift shops. But there are so many places to recycle shoes where they will be reused for good purposes.

The Crocs company has an organization called Crocs Cares (formerly SolesUnited) which donates Crocs around the world. Their website says they are undergoing some changes, so it is not clear if they will continue to accept donations of used Crocs. I am currently waiting to hear back from them about this and will let you know here as soon as I do.

Soles4Souls is an organization that takes donated shoes and gives them to people who need them all across the world. They accept any kind of shoes from dress shoes and sneakers to dance shoes and flip flops as long as they are new or gently used. They will even accept a solitary shoe without a mate.

They consider "gently used" to mean that you would still wear them: no holes in the soles, with shoelaces, reasonably clean. Any shoes they receive that don't make the cut get recycled, however, so send along any you find.

Soles4Souls has three locations to which you can ship or drop off your old shoes. You might also be able to locate a local place that collects shoes for Soles4Souls by entering your zip code on their website. The last place I bought shoes for Quinn had a donation box.

If your sneakers are too worn out to be used by another person, consider sending them to Nike's Reuse a Shoe program. (They accept all brands.) They take old sneakers and grind them up into materials to create sports tracks, playgrounds, courts, and more. Get the address for where to send your shoes or learn how to set up a shoe drive on the Reuse a Shoe website.

Does anyone else have tips for recycling, reusing, or donating shoes?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Sneakers, Boots, and Crocs, Oh My!

I think I've said this before, but every single time I look through my kids' shoes, I find at least one pair to get rid of. This summer, I've found five pairs to get rid of.

These were Sam's:

These were given to me as hand-me-downs for Quinn, not two weeks ago. And then I found out that he needs fancy shoes (meaning "actually fit and support his feet") with arch supports. So these are getting passed on.

These last are Quinn's beloved Crocs that he wore for two years, in all seasons. They also had a brief career as first and second base in impromptu baseball games.

I also donated a pair of shoes at the shoe store where we got Quinn's new shoes. Tomorrow I'll have some information on different ways to recycle and donate shoes.

Total items to be donated: 6

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Sand and Summer Toys, So Long!

Oh, I wish I'd remembered to take a before photo of my back porch. We have a sand table on the back deck and something like seven billion filthy little toys that our kids never touch. Yesterday it finally got to me and I snapped. I dragged Quinn outside, turned on the hose, and started spraying and sorting everything I could find. (Including Quinn.)

It may give you an idea of what the deck was like before, if you mentally contrast the next two photos. The first one is the clean "after" photo of one side of the deck. The second one is the "after sorting" photo of the other side of the deck.

Imagine all those toys in that second photo scattered all over the deck.

This was also a good time to get rid of two giant objects that have been uglifying my yard all summer: a broken picnic table umbrella and a wading pool with a missing drain piece.

This is a photo of everything that wasn't salvageable enough to keep or donate. Many of these toys are broken, some are missing pieces, and some were just too dirty for anyone to ever want.

There are also a couple things up there that we wrecked by leaving them outside: a broom and a tablecloth. There is also a giant knucklebone that I bought for the dog, but that just caused problems because she couldn't figure out how to chew on it, but she attacked our cats if they entered the same room as it. You should have seen her sad little face when I threw it away.

This next photo are the toys that made the cut for donation. Quinn looked at this table and said, "We need to have a yard sale."

There are lots of trucks, plastic yard tools, boats, shells, sand molds, and the plastic farm animals that I thought it would be so much fun to create hills, valleys, and sand dunes for. There is also a small orange bucket in the photo that I later reclaimed for my kids.

The following two photos show everything I kept. In the first photo is my bin with some shovels, a couple of sprinklers, a couple of buckets, some bats, and some water toys and a pretend fishing pole. Oh, also a snow disc. (Yes, that was in my yard all summer long.)

I also kept these items in the sand table. All my kids really do is dig and pour sand on each other anyway.

I don't think I can even tell you how good it feels to have that taken care of. In the past, when I've packed away summer toys, I've refused to get rid of so much—those cute boats that never get sailed, the adorable plastic animals that sit at the bottom of the box all summer, the eleventy billion tiny trucks—because I convinced myself that they're good toys and someone might want to play with them one day.

Well, it's been years, and they don't play with them. And if, next summer, someone decides they badly need a plastic truck that we don't have, I'll spend the dollar then.

This is a really rough guesstimate based on my trying to count objects in the photos, but I think I got rid of 95 items yesterday. It was well worth the one to two hours it took me to do the cleaning.

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Junk Pyramid is Back!

Well, hello there! How was your summer? I hope you were busy. Or not. Whatever floats your boat. What I do hope is that you have been decluttering, or at least not acquiring things. I've been doing both, even though you haven't seen it here. I know! Living and decluttering without blogging about it! Can you imagine?

However, when I remembered to, I took photos and took notes. You'll be seeing those in the upcoming days. You'll also be seeing tips, resources, and more. And there were a couple of you who asked Dear Stimey questions, you know, like a year ago. I'll be getting to those.

You may notice a change over there in the sidebar. I've changed The Count to only hold the total number of things that I've gotten rid of rather than the number of days, total items, and the goal number based on six items a day. It's gotten too complicated to keep count of the days, and I've always been ahead of my goal anyway (until now).

I'll be back with decluttering tomorrow!