Hear that? It's the sound of me chipping away at the clutter.

The decluttering process is feeling good! I made huge headway this week and made some cash along the way too.

Here is a gaming console I gave away to someone who is confident they can fix it:

Here is one of SEVERAL sets of little toys I sold:

And a box of random toys for charity too:

Get rid of the toys... don't need the bins! 

A couple pairs of booties that the heel was just slightly "wrong" for me. Sold to a happy happy lady:
Here is a bin of lovely quality sweaters that I sold this week:
Some baking items I wasn't using:
A perfect juicer that was just taking up counter space (it turns out I prefer blender smoothies over juice):

And just today, I decided I wanted to clear more space in my closet.... These items are good, but I can honestly live without them:

The shocking thing, is there is likely even more in the closet I can clear. But I'm not quite ready for the "capsule wardrobe" as I thought I was. Just like I don't like eating the same thing day after day, I enjoy some variety in my closet.

My pantry is full, but not crammed full. My closet is full but not stuffed. My bookshelf has variety but not piles stacked all around the house and my house is cozy but not ridiculously cluttered anymore! These are all amazing accomplishments for me! I have trust that my life will provide. Which means I can let go of what doesn't fit my life RIGHT NOW.


Good Habits

My oldest son is 18. He finished high school and even squeezed in some career training and has a decent job that may in fact lead to a proper career. I couldn't be any more proud of him! He has been invited to still live at home as long as he respects the rules and pays a small stipend for "rent".

But there is another string attached that he was surprisingly receptive to.... I asked him to put away 30% of each paycheque into a savings account and have automatic withdraws of 20% go into long term investments.

I came up with this plan back when I watched the "PRINCESS" episodes that Gail Vaz Oxlade hosts. (If you aren't familiar with her work, get acquainted! She tells it like it is in simple terms and with straightforward strategies how to live within your means, no matter where you are starting from!) One problem that seems to crop up over and over again on Princess is these young people getting used to having 100% of their paycheques as disposable income why they live at home! They get used to it, they take advantage of it and they don't learn realistic lifestyles. They either end up living under their parent's care forever or amassing huge debt when they strike out on their own unprepared for expenses.

Prevention is fairly simple. Show them what a real life healthy budget looks like: (Thank you Gail!)

Tell them how it works.... if you bring home net $2000/month then you shouldn't be spending more than $700 on housing (thats everything about housing, not just rent!), $500 on life, $300 on transportation... you get the idea. The awesome part is the less (%) you spend in one area, the more (%) you have left over to boost another area! There is flexibility to suit your dreams. But one thing that is NOT flexible.... NEVER go more than 100% - that is debt pure and simple. Debt is never free and it takes work to get out of! So the best trick is to really know what you are making and make sure your spending is in line with the income. Not enough money? Two choices: Lower expenses or find a way to make more money. Not rocket science. Hopefully by teaching my son these basic fundamentals he is passively saving up for moving out on his own. It won't be traumatic or life altering in a financial sense because he will be used to it AND he may even be able to afford some household treats like furniture too! LOL

As for the long terms savings... I showed him a great chart explaining compound interest. It's a simple illustration (maybe over simplified?) that has dramatic implications!

Time is on my son's side. Even at crappy rates of return his age is an advantage. I showed him that chart and he wanted to meet a financial advisor to get started ASAP while his expenses are low! (Smart boy)

So... between budgeting realistically and learning how to batch cook (he's a bit slower learning to cook) I think he is well on his way to finding survival skills for the real world!

Good habits to live by. Knowledge is power.



Very productive week for me, I hope you had a good week too!

The bathroom beauty products met their konmari fate. All the beauty stuff got pulled from every corner of the house and put on trial for their spark of joy (or not). It's amazing how many items seem useful but just aren't. Aside from makeup that was old and half dried up lotions (tossed), I cleared out some scented soaps and four large bottles of perfume (snapped up in seconds on a social site). The result was an inventory or functional, beautiful and well organized items.

My husband is still finding clothing that is ridiculously big on him that we passed on to donations!...

And some youth lunchbox items that my boys have transitioned away from. Plus a few more kitchen doodads...

Even more shirts that don't hit the 10 out of 10 from my closet!...

A nice sunny Saturday had us exploring a shed out back. The old ceiling fan from my dining room and a tub faucet are getting donated to the Restore this week...

I'm a proud mommy too. My youngest has finally admitted he is too old for some of his toys. He agreed to part with more than 2/3 of one particular role play toy series. Kind of sad for me because they are one toy I always enjoyed playing with as a kid, and enjoyed buying for my boys. We carefully stowed one bin of the very favourites and listed the other 2 bins worth in lots on a selling website.  His room isn't exactly clear by any stretch, but it's a big step forward!



Decluttering is contagious!

All these things flying out of the house at record speed has been noticed and appreciated by my husband. The biggest help has been social media site that gets the big stuff out FAST.

There is an area beside the garage that acts as a parking spot for crap. And this weekend the hubby tackled it. Admitting there were some project machines he didn't actually event want to finish. The biggest one is a lump of metal called a greens mower. Not only did he reclaim that space but I got him $25 for it! The dump run of other miscellaneous bits cost $8 so he's still in the black for that decluttering session!

I finally drove my trunk full of random small items to the thrift shop too.

My sister has also noticed.

This last week she posted and sold several lots of costume jewellery, toys, shoes, CDs and DVDs and even a few big pieces of furniture! I went with her to drop off a load to the thrift shop too. Her house looks waaaaaaaaay better with those few bold decisions. She is happy with the results.

You have to really appreciate the emotional toll some of these decisions take. Each item had its worth. It was brought in on purpose, it had a valuable history (either real or potential). The furniture and toys had real and wonderful memories attached! I am very proud of her.

I don't have any photos of my sister's items, but I can show you the things I have released from my own house.

Weird machine cleared out

Somebody bought this comfy chair... hopefully they have time to use it because I didn't!

bike rack that fit on a car we sold 5 years ago!

Don't worry there are hundreds MORE apples still on the tree, I just thought I would share with the neighbourhood


Live and Learn

The first rule of decluttering is to not buy any storage aids until after the purge.

Last month I bought a small dresser for my closet. Today I cleared it out, posted it and sold it all in record time. Not only did removing it clear out the space, but I feel victorious that it sold so very quickly (and for $10 more than I paid for it)

This morning as I was getting dressed I realized that I didn't actually need it since my closet purge was so successful!! 

Our relationship was short and sweet. Thanks for the month of service little dresser! 

Feeling Good About It

It's been a good weekend for decluttering and organizing. I have found even more "okay but not great" clothing. Yay!

Yesterday I tacked the linen closet. I found a lot of twin sized bedding. Comforters, duvet covers and 6 twin sized fitted sheets. Since we only have one twin bed now, and nights of bed wetting is a distant memory, I kept the three sheets in best condition and a winter weight and summer weight comforter and 2 covers. The rest I posted on a free stuff page on FB and they were snapped up within the hour!

The linen closet also holds my household hardware stash. I re-sorted and streamlined the collection, and found tons of light bulbs we will never use that still are perfectly functional.... FB free page took them away in record time be a very grateful person.

Today I tackled my room. I wanted to clean under my bed.... Dust bunnies gone wild! A bin with the one spare queen sheet set, my sewing box and a small bin of favorite books were easy to deal with. The most annoying item was the old foam mattress that we use for sleepovers, it is not ripped, but also by no means pristine. Time to see if someone else appreciates it more. I gave an accurate description on the same FB page and it was gone before dinner! (Hey it's better than the floor for somebody!)

I felt inspired and pulled the hope chest that my stepdad made for me about 30 years ago out from the crawlspace, cleaned it up and put it at the foot of my bed. It was seriously abused as my boys' toy chest, but it actually looks okay. I also pulled up my off season clothes (except outerwear) I stashed my off season clothes in the chest with a bag of aromatic cedar chips. It feels great to have that old chest back in use! 

Less in the crawlspace, less in my house! A goooooood weekend!


To the china cabinet

We host the big family dinners. Usually 11-17 people a couple times a year. I try to keep the presentation special... So I bring out the China and the serving dishes.

It's fun, and feels good to do something over and above the every day meal.

But as it happens, families grow up and apart too. The sister in law that used to come over with her husband and three kids rarely makes it (because teens think family functions are lame), and my parents don't live in town in the winter. 

I still love the grandma's China pattern. I still love the wedding present pottery serving dishes too. However, I have kept other things out of habit. I don't need 7 champagne flutes or every single obscure bit of the China, or 3 different coloured glass cake plates or a half dozen candle sticks!

So I looked closely. I weighed the emotional value and I purged some stuff! Yay!

A friend has taken the crystal champagne flutes off my hands, and the rest will be off to a new life from the thrift shop. 

Not pictured: 3 hats, 2 nickel plated candle sticks and a couple more shirts!


Outward and Onward

I am always on the look out for things that don't earn their keep around here. Thanks to the KonMari method, I am in the right mindset to really chose effectively.

Keepsakes are being photographed and released.

Stashes are being used up or given away - never to be built up again!

Collections are being reassessed and taken down to only the best and truly loved pieces...

This is an amazing journey.

Books, more shoes, more clothes, even the stuff in my crawlspace is getting judged. I found more family DVDs in the crawlspace and took more to the consignment shop and traded them for some vinyl records. A bag of stuffed animals that were so dear to my boys (and me) have found a new home thanks to the magic of the free stuff sharing website! And the old airplanes from the shed and new lotions (too many lotions here!) from my shameful stash of beauty supplies. 

Snuggly friends have a new home
Less lotions now
Toy planes flying for someone else now
This doll is a musical box with swivelling head, my grandma loved her. I love the memory of grandma's smile.
Random box of goodies for the thrift store


Garden Glory!

The decluttering efforts have spilled out into the yard.

Recently I gave away many tools and supplies that just were not my favourite. (I can never seem to find a full pair of gloves no matter how many I buy though). Funny how getting rid of a few items can make the whole shed work better!

Clutter or not, the garden is thriving in the sun. There are severe watering restrictions on right now with our historic levels of sun, so the garden has it's patches of incredible bounty in the fields of crispy yellow. Too hot to weed in the sun, but the veggies seem to be keeping ahead of the pests with vigour.
Apples are looking good so far
Too hot!
A good start to summer
zucchini plants up to my hips!

Zucchini are doing great, the peas are done, I've never seen so many raspberries on my small number of canes and the tomatoes are looking promising from the few we've picked already. Finally the garlic is ready (I had no idea they took 2 years) and the many squash vines are looking great (fingers crossed). Strangely the spinach and lettuces didn't even sprout and the beans are slow. In the greenhouse, it's a jungle of melons and tomatoes and fragrant basil! mmmmm.....

And in other news, my creative juices are overflowing with nowhere to go.


At least you have your health...

The last couple weeks have been in a bit of turmoil thanks to some broken bones in the house (my husband, not me). Trees vs man... tree wins! Husband is in a sling for his collar bone and ribs. He can't work and even more frustrating, he can't help with much around the house. In a nutshell he feels kind of useless. I feel for him. I almost feel like I'm showing off using two hands for things, reaching across the table, rolling over in bed... all those things that are excruciating if you have breaks like his.

Despite that mishap, I am still finding time and stuff to purge from my closet! It's ridiculous! I pick it up and think "nice" then put it on and think "not nice enough" and into the donate bag it goes. I want only 10 out of 10 on the love-it scale! A big black garbage bag was filled in the last few weeks. Crazy but true. I'm getting closer to the "click point" that Mari Kondo speaks of!

I also donated a few more books.
And put some kitchen stuff away for when my son sets up a place of his own.

The garden is too hot to work in. I focus on making sure it gets enough water within our watering restriction times, and harvesting. The weeds are left to their own devices. Oh well, priorities must be made when the weather is so mean. It's much nicer inside the shade of the house, but even then activity of any sort suck in the afternoon. Thats when I get to read!

So my message for the day is to honor yourself. Limitations and all. And be thankful for your health, even if it's not perfect.


Tiny Houses

The tiny house movement is a magical thing to me.
So compact, so efficient, and portable too!

Of course, the reality is that if I wanted to pursue such a life, I would need to let go of everything but the basics. AND my husband too, because he doesn't want to live in anything smaller than what we already have here! LOL

Maybe, just maybe, if I can pare down my possessions to the essentials of THIS house, my life could feel more efficient too.

Alas, even though I carted another really big box of miscellany to the thrift store yesterday, and my recycling box is overflowing with random paper, I still have very much too much!

It really hit home as I was helping another friend move this month, how much I really have that I don't need.

She has hit a financial snag and had to give up the 5 bedroom house she was renting. I had helped her move in and she owned barely anything as it was with her just fleeing a bad relationship and taking her 2 teen boys with her. After 2 years there, when she found out she couldn't afford the house anymore, she pared down even further! She gave away and sold almost all her furniture and what was left fit into a small storage unit (mattresses, photos, kitchen basics, linens, christmas items and beloved things only). I'm pretty sure that unit could not even hold the contents of my kitchen cupboards! She is essentially homeless at the moment. One son is living with me at my house, and the other moved out of province, the mom is staying with a friend. I feel for her and the tough choices she has made. Living apart from her kids (even if they are older) is very tough on her too. She did the best could with what she was given, but the lesson is how she made it so much easier by letting go of the crap to lighten the burden along the way. (She is seeking an affordable 2 bedroom place right now and will worry about furniture when she finds it)

I would not be comfortable living with the level of sparsity she had in that big house. I would not be comfortable giving up EVERYTHING, but then again I don't think many people would.

Downsizing is different by definition for each person. For some it might be hard to go from 3000 sqft to 2200. For others it might be too much giving up the 2 bedroom house with a yard for a condo of the same size. The more romantically inclined might give it all up for a tiny house on wheels or backpack around the world!

And then there are the ones that are forced into it by circumstance. How they deal with the loss of their stuff and the space they live in is an interesting story... tragedy? or triumph?

My goal is to downsize my belongings to a lighter density. I will keep the fantasy of a tiny home in mind as I search for that magical saturation point of stuff/space.

Tiny home dwellers, minimalists, professional organizers and seekers of balance... thank you for sharing your experiences.


Take THAT clutter!

It looks like the same stuff, but it's two NEW big boxes of stuff leaving!

The contents of these mystery boxes:
a random assortment of linens, 
MORE clothes, 
Fiction and reference books, 
kitchen doodads
Halloween decorations that don't work with this house
All of which are in good enough shape for donating.

Also, not pictured: 
The books, pottery, clothes and toys that my sister scooped
The small bag of rags
The big bag of recyclable papers

I'm feeling really good about this latest purging success. 
It's like a switch has been thrown, the decisions are coming easier. 

Getting dressed in the morning... If I put something on and it doesn't feel right, it goes straight into the box! "Take that you ill fitting garment! I won't accidentally try to wear you again!"

Looking for something in a cupboard, if I come across something that makes me say "I forgot I still had this" then I seriously ponder why I do still have it. Basically I'm being a harsh landlord "what have you done for me lately?" If the item can't prove it's worthiness then it's off to the donate box!

Instead of pondering an items' value, I ponder whether my life will be missing anything if the item is not here. It's amazing how little we really need if we ask the right questions of our stuff!

For some reason I am past thinking about how much it cost, or how much it used to mean to me or it's "what if" potential! This is a revelation, truly, for how much I can freely let go. 

Making donations helps me let go too. Knowing it is benefitting the charity and maybe a new owner too gives me a warm fuzzy feeling that is so much nicer than hanging on to all this stuff.

More? How is it possible?

This morning I was preparing for the day and put on a top that made me say "ugh". Not that it was a BAD top, it just didn't spark "joy" and I wanted JOY!

I thought I already purged the heck out of all my clothes mercilessly.... But apparently I missed a couple of less than amazing tops. Okay, more like a DOZEN less than amazing tops.

It's not you, it's me... In short I think we should part ways.

I guess love is a fickle thing. 

Last week I still felt happy to own these things, this week I don't. Falling out of love is just as easy as falling in love when it comes to fashion. And I have reached a point in my life where I am getting VERY picky about what items I will share my closet with! None of those items are irreplaceable or valuable. Sorry stuff, it was nice knowing you, but it's time to move along.

Also in the donate box is a vast assortment of junk jewelry (some I have had for decades), a nice big wicker basket, and more unread books.


PS, Eating Paleo/Primal is going very well! 
I still feel good, my weight is steady at a comfortable size. Sure I indulge in the occasional bite of something off-menu, but a bite usually satisfies the craving (or impulse) then I go back to doing what feels best. I don't feel even the least bit ready to give it up, its a good way to be and I really enjoy the food so much! I have even found ways to eat out... though I can't control what oil they cook my omelet in, I can skip the cheese and get extra veggies. Eggs Benedict on a slab of tomato instead of english muffin is DIVINE! Stir fry without the sauce is pretty tasty too. (I do miss french toast, at least I think I do at the moment)



Diving in to mayhem

My sons are not tidy. (They take after mommy for that)
Sure they love a clean, tidy room but they can't seem to keep it that way. The obvious reason might be that everything CAN'T be put away, but that's not right. There is a space for everything. The items just can't  seem to make it back into the drawers and baskets! 
A familiar lament that I am guilty of too.

Before school I asked my youngest if I could rearrange his room today. He agreed. 

This is why....

Bits and bobs EVERYWHERE
And thats AFTER picking up all the laundry!

After a couple hours of sorting and moving and cleaning I came to this....

I hope he likes it

The desk has more light by the window

Amazingly I didn't have to throw anything out.... But I did toss a small bag of broken things and packages. Just through the act of putting like-things together and rearranging it looks so much better. Of course, this has fixed nothing. All the things in the baskets and drawers can make their way back onto the floor and desk easily!

The cupboard is now the designated home for his R.C. cars (his big hobby) and the cube baskets are for small toys. The desk drawers for Lego and the bins in the closet are sorted into theme (playmobils, bionicles, Star Wars) closet upper shelf for his large RC airplanes. It is organized and presently clean. I will plead with him to let go of more things. First by leading by example!


Big gains through letting go.

This is going great!

I did bags and dresses (but nothing to show there because my last purge was bang-on leaving me only the best, and very few). Ditto with accessories like scarves hats and belts.

But today I did SHOES!

Even after getting rid of some last week, Marie Kondo's method was far better at really streamlining. Sure some of them are cute or maybe even practical, but do they spark JOY when I am holding them? Wearing them? Now THAT is the question to ask!

Here is the "before" photo (don't judge).

Not pictured are the special footwear (steel toed work shoes, high top hikers, snow boots and proper running shoes) they are exempt from removal because of their specialized function.

Shocking that this is a post purge starting point!

I am glad MK doesn't have a numerical limit. I love a variety of footwear, much like how I feel about jackets, they can elevate or cozy-up an outfit. So easily. The criteria is "JOY" and I stuck to it.

Some decent brands and even some hand made cowboy boots got cut. Thank you footwear for your hard work supporting me when I needed you. Thank you for the thrill of finding and owning you and the service of helping me define my style. You were appreciated, and I hope you continue to give service to your new owners.

Feeling buoyed by this success, I went through my extensive DVD collection and packed 2 bags! I loved all of the movies at some point but had either watched them to the point of memorizing them or had moved past what attracted me to them (thank you for the entertainment). Either way, no joy left.

And some books (just because they caught my eye). No joy.

Now the physical part. Loading the selections from the last few days into my trunk.... Oops! They don't all fit! So I loaded the back seat too. (It looked like I was moving out).  

Happily I was able to take the DVDs to a local music store. I agreed to take store credit and traded the 2 bags of DVDs for 8 vinyl records of an artist that I have loved since I was a teen. (Great trade IMO)

The rest of it (there was still all the coats, shoes, bags, and clothing from the last purge plus all the mountains of stuff from this ultimate tidy-fest so far) 

I found a thrift shop that was happy to get it. As I walked in to ask them if they take donations, a porcelain lamb caught my eye. It filled me with joy when I touched it. And even though I wanted to pay for it, the store owner gave it to me as a thank you. It's goofy, but honestly I love it. And this wee trinket will remind me of this lovely experience...

... until I don't feel joy from it of course.


Jackets, coats, etc

Next in line for strick culling is jackets!

This was more challenging to gather up. Jackets (and blazers) are kept in the master closet, front hall closet and mud room. Then there are the off season ones in the crawlspace.

It took me longer to dig them all up to pile them together than it did to purge them!

It's a big pile! I know I purged them not too long ago, but I didn't follow MK's method of putting them ALL together before starting. It really puts things into perspective. 

Coats are a category that is so finicky. Dependent on weather, destination, activity and the clothes worn under the coat.... For example, my fall gardening coat is not the one I want to be seen in for a dinner out -- even if the weather is similar. And my dirt bike riding jacket is not something that is comfortable just wear around. Business meeting coats, grocery getting coats, off to yoga and off to a lunch date with friends.... So many occasions.... so many weather situations too...

Obviously I love a good coat!

That's why it's good for me to honestly ask "does this spark joy?"

I did find some that I actually dread wearing (even if they have their function). Those are the ones hitting the bricks today.

It's weird, one of them I have hung onto for so long because it's a "good" four season jacket. Weatherproof, nice brand, lots of pockets, stylish colour. But it rubs my chin and bunches up awkwardly when I sit down. Next winter I may need to go shopping, but it has to leave! I put up with it long enough. The others are so specialized that I can't anticipate needing them for their intended design again.

Still a whole lot of coats in my life, but at least there are empty hangers in my closet and a bit of breathing room.


Bottoms out!

Today, I put MK's "Tidying" audio book back on and dug into the next category..... BOTTOMS!
Shorts, pants, skirts.

Dutifully, I pulled everything out of the closet and drawers, then went into the crawlspace for the off season slacks (lots of corduroy) and piled it onto the bed:

I touched and then sometimes tried things on. The pile for keeping was pretty big in relation to the give-away pile since I am good at getting rid of ill fitting pants quickly (bad pants are so annoying!)

But I still found 14 bottoms that don't give me joy!

The closet looks better, and nothing went back under the house. 

This happened in such reasonable time that I followed up by going through all my sleepwear. I found a box of nightgowns that I forgot I even had.... I had tucked them away when I was feeling fat and unhealthy. These are items I love to touch, very pretty things, so I will be incorporating them back into regular circulation now that I feel good again. I found several tatty and stretched PJs that I happily discarded to make room for my newly rediscovered night gowns. I'm looking forward to getting ready for sleep tonight!


My new favourite things

My new favourite things are digital at the moment.

First off my library membership for digital loans is AWESOME! I have borrowed a few fun movies, tried new music and found inspiring audio books.
More on that in a moment.

Secondly, facebook's local "FREE ONLY" page. I mentioned it before, but since then have passed on several more items within minutes of posting them, and managed to pick up a healthy patch of oregano plants (all I had to do was bring a shovel and bucket). Finally a use that I can understand for that social media super-giant.

Not pictured was the two sets of garden shed shelves that lingered in my yard for too long, but found a new home quickly once I posted them.

Vintage chair that was snapped up in an afternoon
Helpful books picked up by an appreciative parent

Back to the audiobooks... "Essentialism" was inspiring and motivating to be sure, but yesterday I listened to Marie Kondo's book "The life-changing magic of tidying up" and it was a game changer.

Her focus for successful decluttering is on what you are keeping - and her selection method is very simple: Does it bring joy to my heart? If the answer is Heck no! Then say a simple thank you for the lessons the items has taught and then release it without guilt nor hesitation. It's an interesting angle to be sure. I thought it might be a little touchy feely but I gave it a shot with the first suggested category: clothes (specifically tops).

Well it worked!

Over THREE DOZEN items that I had missed on my last purge! (and I thought I had done so well before LOL) Thats just tops! I'm not sure I have reached the "click point" that Marie talks about, but my closet sure looks better. It's amazing how many things were in there that I had kept because of good quality, trusted brand or appealing colour. Some of these things I hadn't even really tried to wear yet (hand-me-downs from my stylish sister). Funny how saying "thank you for teaching me a little more about myself" made me feel far less guilty about folding it carefully into the give-away pile!

Physically touching the tops as they are piled high on my bed, pondering my feelings about it. Pride wasn't good enough, comfort on it's own, adventure, or pretty style wasn't good enough. I had to feel "JOY" at the thought of having it! Ironically some of my less pretty tops do give me genuine joy. (They all stayed.)

I own far less bottoms. That's for tomorrow.

(While I was at it I found a blanket in the back of the closet that I forgot I owned, and a less favourite suitcase. Some books that aren't relevant to me today caught my eye too)