Declaring war on clutter, sort of!

The view from my bed of the east side of the room.

Looking at the southwest corner from the sewing machine

I am a little hesitant to add the pictures that go with this particular post. Frankly I am embarrassed at the way certain rooms in my house look. I have always said our house is for living, not for show, but I am not so sure that I have not slipped into existence rather than living. It is time to move closer to the issue of functional and enjoyable living. Now that you have this as the background, I will show you the “before” pictures of my bedroom, without the bedroom part in the picture. Just know this room should have been a family room instead of a bedroom. It is really large and I believe that is why it has become such a dumping ground.

I refuse to do a total an irreparable purge of all that I own, let’s just get that out there front and center. I refuse to throw everything that I have accumulated throughout my life. If it was valuable once, it is worth considering before it goes out the door. And, let’s be even clearer on the matter, nothing is going into the landfill unless it is absolute junk.

I am sharing this as a way to motivate myself. I hope to be able to update weekly or when something major is accomplished. I have a long list of what to do to get this in order. Yesterday I began by locating my tub of winter clothing. I thought that I had all my sweaters in the drawer until I was shopping and remembered what was missing. As I emptied all of the winter clothes, I went through my closet and put all the completely summer items into the tub including all my cropped pants and sleeveless shirts. I also took out all of the sleeveless dresses and re-hung the skirts so that it all looks neater. I also found the scarves that I bought this summer in Baltimore. I will have to figure out how to wear them. I think my next step in the closet is to identify which items need to be removed permanently. I just need to figure out where they are going, then they can be gone. Ya!!!

My next issue besides getting rid of all the produce in the kitchen/dining room and garage is doing some cleaning around here. I eliminated several of the dust bunnies hiding under the bed and tables and even did all the laundry and bedding. It was nice enough outside that I could hang out the bedding, and oh was it wonderful to snuggle under sheets that have the fresh smell of outdoors. I have not touched the windows. My sisters and I plan to do a little cleaning in our joint houses later this week. One of the things on their agenda is windows. I told them that I have never done windows and at my age I am unable to learn anything new. I hope that works for me through the weekend. Maybe I will end up cooking for the group, but that will be fine. I am working on bread again today, but that will be another post.

Well, I will get off the computer and get to work; Happy Fall to all of you!!!

De-clutter advice

I hope you all see this post for what it is worth without being offended. I have been putting out a few posts here and there about de-cluttering and getting organized in my house. I have also spent lots of time on some “sites” to see what others have to say about clutter and how to eliminate it, and they mostly include list after list of what to eliminate. May I just say that people who keep most of the items on those lists are not looking to eliminate clutter because if they keep those items they don’t really have a clutter problem, they have a hoarding problem and that is a completely different issue. There I have put out my feelings on this and so after one little explanation, I will give you my list.

Here is the thing, I keep things mostly because I am anti-filling up the land fills. I want things to be thrown away only when they have completely reached the end of the road of use. I am all about repurposing items and recycling. I just wish that it was financially possible for us to have a recycling drop off in our area. Because we are such a small population it is more costly to collect and transport items to a center than it is to purchase more land for a land-fill, and in our are that means taking land out of agricultural production, which means less area to grow food, so you figure out what that really means.


I have come to the conclusion the only real way to de-clutter is not to buy it in the first place, which is a bad idea for the economy and capitalism, but that is a completely different post. Now with that as background material, here is my “list” of what to please leave off any future lists of 25, 50, 60 80, 100 things to throw away to get rid of clutter. I already know to toss these items and I don’t want to be insulted because I see them on your list. So here is my list of 10.


  1. The banana peels from breakfast. (compost pile–then on the garden)
  2. Empty juice containers (recycle)
  3. Cardboard boxes (ok so I do need to break mine down and recycle them)
  4. Broken dishes (like really do you put that on there–of course I have been saving some to break up for a mosaic table top, but those are old ceramic pieces)
  5. Styrofoam insides of flower arrangements (Yes, I forgot where I put them, they are in the garbage now)
  6. Used gift wrap (I swear I threw it away this summer)
  7. Plastic bags from stores (I reuse them for small garbage bags, and I promise to take back the rest and recycle them in the future)
  8. Old food in the fridge or pantry (our rule has always been when it smells or the mold covers the entire top, it goes out, and not to the stray cats either because here we just end up with skunks and raccoons in the yard.)
  9. Toilet paper rolls (I confess there was a time when I used them as candle molds, or fire starters in the fire pit, but currently they are straight in the garbage, they are cardboard and will break down at some point–I need to find the company that figured out how to make the rolls without the tube.)
  10. And finally, last but not least or best is the: Dried up pens. (I have a theory that pens and pencils multiply when we leave the room, and though I don’t ever toss one that is still functional, I am quick to eliminate the dried up ones.)

Hopefully this has come off in the way I intended. Perhaps I will work on a serious list of what I keep to recycle and repurpose and what we actually do with those items. Earlier this year, we filled our van and drove to the place where Jessica lives and dropped the items at the recycling center there. It was a good feeling to know that what we were removing from our space was going to be remade into something useful and not just dumped into a landfill. Mostly I am hoping manufacturers begin to figure out ways to reduce the amount of garbage that comes with each product. I know that a good part of our packaging is there as a safety factor, but we need more of a happy medium at this time.

What do you do to help out the environment???

De-Clutter: One project done

Finally I can report on a project finished. I, apparently, work better on a deadline. Tomorrow is a baby shower for a girl who grew up across the street from us. I made one of my signature flannel blankets and I think it turned out pretty well. There were some issues with the bobbin and the tension on the first side, but after I had it adjusted correctly everything went pretty well. The biggest thing with this “pattern” is to be sure to press the seams. Basically you purchase to swatches of flannel. I used to get 1 yard of each usually a pattern and a matching solid. This time I took 1 and 1/4 yards because that makes the blanket more of a square. Also I was not happy with the solid colors that would match and chose a polka dot for the backside. I am really pleased with the result. I think that I will use polka dots or strips in the future rather than solid.

So, why did I put this under the title of de-clutter? Yesterday I spent the better part of the day trying to organize on paper this mess in my room. I finally came to the conclusion that this stuff is not leaving because I am not willing to let go of it in its present state. In other words, I am not willing to throw out my yard or my material or any of the other things that I have piled up. But, on the other hand, if I can turn them into something useful then I can let them go. So, this material is now a baby blanket and well, maybe I will get started on a few other things. I did drag out the stencils this morning when the iron was hot and stamped a couple of dish towels to embroider. That puts about five in the bag and three more to stamp. I need to put a deadline on them and maybe I can get them out of here too. Eventually I will have this place cleaned out.

Let’s see, perhaps a goal of reducing the piles by 10 percent each month might be a reasonable goal. I read a pin this past week that makes the most sense of any clutter free/organizing post I have ever seen. It wasn’t so much about how to throw things out as it was about not bringing more clutter into the mix. I think that is where I need to start. Nothing new until 10 things have been removed. So, the baby blanket you see on top of this post is item 1. Now I only have 9 more to go. Now if I can follow that rule for my craft items, I better do the same for my house plants. I really want to reduce those for this winter. Hmmm what about the canned items?

Sorting, organizing and even tossing

Old wrapping paper.

Oh my oh my it really happened. I cannot believe it, but I finally let go of THE most ridiculous thing that I have holding onto forever. I had this box of gift wrapping that I saved from the baby shower held for me and Victoria when I taught in Jud. I have moved this and stored this and saved this for… lets just say Vic is nearly 30. I was always going to cut a wee piece from each one and put them into her baby book, or a scrap-book. It never happened and I even did a picture book for her and Jessica during a snow storm one winter. Let’s just say after three days of no school you have to accomplish something.

I always blame the results of how they destroyed those books while in high school for a history project on why I no longer do anything about organizing pictures or dealing with my clutter. That business devastated me. I had worked so hard on those books and for me they told a unique story of my children, and then for some stupid project they were destroyed and most of the pictures never did come back, but I can’t even talk about it in detail because of how it upsets me, so I don’t know how it snuck in here.

Also funny, but the computer has been jumping the text around and I have not been able to type some of the things that I wanted to say. Must be some powers watching out for me, so I don’t put things onto social media that should not be said. There should be a filter on all of these sites that pop up and ask the author if they are sure they want to post certain things and they should have to double and triple click yes before it is actually uploaded. Anyway, that is just my opinion.

His side, the new section

My side

So I wrote that yesterday and was interrupted by a bout of who knows what. I still think it was a psychosomatic disorder related to clearing out clutter. Today James and I actually got to tackle that closet of ours. We drug everything out of the south side, took off the shelves and redid it to put in a hanging area for his clothes. I have pictures to show the after. The before is not something that anyone should see, except the other picture that I have is what my room looks like with everything piled on the table while we worked on the closet. After a few rounds of vacuuming and some dusting and swiffering, we began to put things back. We also threw out the shoe holder that was scratching the floor and even a few of the shoes on it.

The junk from the closet.

I have several items set aside for each of the daughters, and an entire table full of things in the dinning room set for the sale on Saturday. Hopefully I can get the rest of it sorted and ready in the next two days while still getting the house ready for them to show up here. It is amazing some of the things we found, as in James found a fancy towel and a blanket that he must have been given when the football team made it to state like 10 years ago. I think we need to start using what we have. If the girls have to sort all of this junk they will throw it all away. Oh, yes my biggest pile of sale items will be old Herreid sweatshirts that are in mint condition. Hope they sell! Well, that is all for now. Catch you all after a bit more

Work not on the list

Cabinet and open area where washer was.

Left over carpet as the counter top.

Today I need to get my message ready for tomorrow, but I am not ready to sit down to all of that, so in the meantime, it was off to work in another corner of the house. So after a little consultation we decided to take a stab at the garage in the northeast corner and deal with the counter top and the area where the garden items are. Mostly the picture to the left shows the east wall of the garage. The space where the washer was in now filled with boxes that hopefully we can fill and send out of the house as the summer goes along. The cabinet has no counter on this picture. We cleared it them took off the board that acts as the counter top so James could sort through the drawers without a hindrance. We also took off the cloth that we cover it with and washed it. Instead of putting the cloth back, we decided to try a carpet remnant that has been rolled up in a corner for a couple of years. Now to buy some staples to hold it in place. As we were working on it, we did a few other things that I am hoping to post soon, but have to wait for the sun to set to get the last picture in the project.

Washer on the pick up

Bye-bye old Maytag!!

The issue for today was to remove some items that are no longer of any use and to open up a little space in the area. We also wanted to clear the counter so that we can use it to do things rather than have to work on the little yellow cart or the freezer. It seems that every counter in the house or garage is so full of junk that we can’t ever work on it. The biggest deal of the day was my agreement to toss out the old Maytag washer. It was a gift from Albertus and MaryAnn (James’ parents) for our wedding which was 35 years ago this August. It worked up until last spring. When we tried to have it repaired we were told the drum was out and because it was so old there was no way to get parts for it. Quite sad.

Rearranged inside the porch

Blinds are down. Flag shows no wind today.

I also rearranged and sorted out my planting pots. By the time I was finished I decided to repot a few plants and moved some larger and some smaller and ended up opening up one of my big coffee cups so it could house a spider plant. Next James found one of our shades in the big shop. Somehow it was taken down last year because he thought it was broken. We made a few adjustments to how it was arranged, and yes it was partially broken, but we repaired it and hung it then expanded both it and the one beside to block some of the west sun. Sure makes the porch cooler and in turn the living room. Nice. So none of this was on the list from this week, but it was on the “all-time clean-out everything” list, and this was a nice start. My goal for the rest of the summer and fall is to toss out at least one bag, hopefully two and repurpose at least one other bag of something each day. I would say with the half a bag of garbage in the container and the removal of the washer we hit the garbage goal today. By rearranging and restacking the plant pots, I am hoping I can count another bag of repurposing. Now for a shower and get to that message for the morning. I am pretty sure there won’t be a power point this week, but maybe by the week after Father’s Day.

Packing for the wedding/baby shower

I don’t know why, it might be learned behavior from my mother, but traveling always seems more fun in the early stages of planning than on the day of leaving. I can’t remember a specific, but there were so many times when I thought as a child we were going to go some place or do something fun or exciting, and in the end we stayed home. She was even worse as she aged and getting out and about started being hard for her. Today I wish that we had taken better care of her and helped her more, but in our defense, she never wanted to be in a place that didn’t allow smoking. Now I fully understand her attitude about wanting to be at home with your own comforts (though no smoking here) because I have that same attitude.

It is ok to think about travel and trips and say maybe or yes I will, but when it comes right down to packing and leaving, I just want to stay home and have them tell me about it. So my issue today is really more than we will be spending three days in the hotel two weekends in a row. I am starting to realize my angst is for that trip to Baltimore to go to General Synod that is looming on the horizon. I also don’t want to have to think past these next two weeks, I want to focus on them and enjoy them. What was that in my New Year’s Resolution post, something about being in the moment, Just Live, I think is what I titled one post.

But maybe all this running around will turn out for the best so then we will be content to sit and rest for a bit. Ha!! Fat chance of that. As soon as we return from Tenn. the track season starts up and Jaxon will be in the middle of his second wrestling season which could involve some Friday night or Saturdays, and then we have meets and Paulina has outdoors and some time in there I suspect there will be a set of twins dropping in on the family. Maybe the trip in June will be our rest. At the least I feel that James and I have become the poster children for day trips around either the state of North or South Dakota. Our poor van is at 209,000 miles and going. Maybe that is what our next trip should be, to a dealership for another vehicle. Yikes!!

Ana in dress

Ana posing in old dress. Only she would get to stand barefoot on the kitchen table.

I think my biggest worry today is that I will leave something behind, though not a problem because there are two sisters coming later and they could maybe go to my house and dig until they find what I need, if I even have what I need. Thankfully two things will be allowed to stay home and that is really a blessing. I dug out the flower girl dress that Victoria wore when she was young, and though it fit Ana, it is not the best fit on the sleeves. I washed it, hung it outside to dry but because there was no breeze to fluff it out I was going to need to do a little pressing of it, groan! Well yesterday Victoria finally mentioned that she found a new dress on line that was very reasonable and is pretty and so great relief because I was able to take that headache off my to do list. I also found a clear bowl that will work for one of the activities and now I don’t have to clean up the old pretzel container that was in the garage. Through this whole endeavor, I keep finding more and more things that have been deemed clutter in our house, but actually are of use here. Not something that a pack-rat/near hoarder should be learning.

What I am most excited about in this whole wild weekend is that in digging out things to take along or to give away or to use in the endeavor, we ended up doing some cleaning and sorting out. I have that useable cupboard beside my bed which I wrote about a couple of posts back. Then last night as we were digging in the cleaning cupboard looking for some extra table cloths, we ended up sorting and tossing and organizing all the cleaning rags and containers. This was one place we ended up with the most thrown out items of all the de-cluttering we have done. We finally tossed shoe polish from the 1980s and some old vinyl car cleaner along with lots of worn out rags and empty bottles. It was great because with the room we cleaned out, we were able to move some containers from under the sink to a more secure area in this cabinet. I am bothered by this area each time the grand children come, so now that is eliminated.

Well, time to get on the road to Linton. I have a few stops down town, so catch you later maybe with a few wedding picks, or shower or both or maybe just by the pool. At least I am not on duty on Sunday morning. Yikes……  Oh yes, “Yippeee, going to the wedding!!”

Advent: Dec. 10 Work in progress….

Christmas CD

Christmas CD

As it turned out yesterday, I did not join Roger for a cat nap. After I found her on the clean bedding, I got to work folding and putting it away. Next I drug myself and the paperwork that needed finishing (and never did) to the kitchen where it was a little warmer. I put on a Christmas CD and considered baking something to warm up the room, but never did that either.

Pantry is finally clean!

Pantry is finally clean!

Instead I opened the pantry and pulled out some drawers and got to work sorting, cleaning up the shelves and rearranging everything to fit better. It is all neat and tidy, and I threw out a couple of very outdated items. Time to watch more closely the expiration dates of some of the items in the cupboard. What I threw away wasn’t such a major cost at least. One was a small box of unflavored gelatin that I picked up in an auction box and never should have brought into the house. The other was a hand-made soup package that was a gift a few years back. It was filled with lentils and beans and dried peas and never sounded too appetizing. We put that along with some rather old sunflower seeds into an old aluminum pie tin and set it out for the birds. I hope it was all ok for their diet. I did notice one feeding on it a little this morning. For more on the birds see yesterday’s post.

Today I should be getting the message ready for church tomorrow, but have not gotten up the “Loosht” yet.  That word is from our German-Russian dialect and means, desire. I hate it when I get into one of those procrastination modes because I always pay for it afterwards. It is snowing and I have been half hoping it gets bad enough to call off church, now how terrible is that? I guess it would be best if I just got to work and put together the ideas that I have in my notes. The big issue for me today is that we have the big community musicale tomorrow, and I am supposed to be doing two readings. I have one ready, but have not even picked out the second one. I said that I could do two, but had not turned in a title, so really don’t know if I am on the program once or twice. Interesting that no one could bother to send out an email of the bulletin, anyway, I will be ready with both and if I only need to do one, so be it. The sad thing is our church is the only one that doesn’t have a musical number to contribute. This happened one other time and I did a dramatic reading then too. I love doing those, but somehow this community basis everything on music. Ironically at one time our church was the music in our area. I guess that is how things evolve sometimes.

Advent tree and train sets, rearranged.

Advent tree and train sets, rearranged.

Ok, so I would like to report on a few other items that I worked on today in terms of cleaning and de-cluttering and organizing things around here. I ended by cleaning off the HD card of the camera. I noticed that I only had room for about 4 more pictures, so it was time to download and burn them to a CD which is what I have been doing to save the price of a new HD card.

Sophia by the tree.

Sophia by the tree.

The big thing is that I redid the decorations on the table. Sophia was having a fit that she couldn’t look out the window, so I moved the tree to give her an area behind it. Now she wants nothing to do with looking out the window and was even gone for most of the afternoon. I suspect she was annoyed about the fuss and disappeared to the basement to sleep on the spare bed there. It was actually a good idea and I even rearranged all the little “Advent” ornaments that I have been putting on the fiber optic tree which my mother gave me. I figured out that if I used both the bulb ornaments and the little wooden and ceramic ornaments then I would have more than needed. I ended up putting all of the bulb type on the tree and using the others for the one per day, “Advent” ornaments. I added to that and put on a couple of larger glass ones that we don’t put on the larger tree in case the cats decide to get silly. Anyway, with the train sets and a few fake gifts beside the Advent tree, I sort of like the new arrangement. Good thing we don’t need the table for a family style Christmas dinner anytime. GRRRR!!! I have a few more pictures, but will save them for another day. Now that the NDSU Bison beat the SDSU Jackrabbits and are moving on to the final four in their division of football, James is off the couch and looking for a task. I think I hear that he is in the extra bathroom cleaning up the tub under all the plants I have wintering in there. Hopefully they all survive. Here is hoping you all stay dry and warm and enjoy the rest of the Advent season.

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