De-clutter/Reduce/Repurpose or Move it out 1-10

I keep reading these lists of what to eliminate in order to get rid of all your clutter. They vary anywhere from 25-100 thing to throw out. I can’t say that I agree with many of them. Actually, the more digging I have been doing, the more I have been finding the value of hanging on to certain things. It seems that the past two weeks, I have been more than thankful for the many things that I keep around. I do agree that certain things should be rearranged or organized better, and some should be eliminated, though I don’t see that all things should be tossed into the garbage. Some of them should be donated or repurposed. Well, you can probably guess what is coming. Here are 10 ideas I have of what to do with the extra stuff hanging around your place.

1–Old Towels: Some suggest donating them to animal shelters and that is a good idea. Here we use towels until there is not much left and then I end up cutting them into squares to be used as scrub rags. I did notice a post someplace about cutting them into strips and weaving them into rugs. I might try that one sometime.

2– Shoes: I was always taught that shoes mold to your feet and shouldn’t be passed on like other clothing. I also wear mine until there is not much left, so they really need to be tossed out.  I am not quite like the stereotypical woman when it comes to shoes. I have a shoe rack that holds 9 pair and seldom have more than it can hold. When I bought a new pair for the wedding, I checked the rack for some to remove. I found a never worn pair to donate and a worn out pair of tennis shoes that was ready for the garbage. Hurrah, that was my toss out for the day, but not before I salvaged the shoe strings. I always find those helpful in sewing projects, or if they are not in the best condition, they end up in the garden cabinet and are used to tie up the pepper plants in a wind storm.

3–Clothing: I have not done a serious purge of my closet, but I did a few drawers earlier this winter. Socks, unders and such. I mostly tossed what was worn out, had elastic showing. I did find some never worn items that will be donated. I also have a pile of about 10 pair of socks that I just plain don’t like. They will become a snake for the door in the near future. I will post on that when it happens.

4–Old Eye glasses: Recently I realized our eye Dr. place takes old glasses. What a relief. James and I gathered up about 7 or 8 pair between the two of us. I also cleaned out several of the glasses cases and included them. Hopefully they will be able to help someone. It felt really good to be able to remove something that will be of value to someone else. And, the best part was because we turned in so many, they refilled two of our glasses cleaner bottles for free.

5–Paper and notebooks: This is one that really gets me when I see suggestions to throw away extra notebooks and paper. Instead organize them and place them either in a designated desk drawer or a shelf where you can locate them. Recently I also found lots of little note pads which I stacked up and put on the edge of my desk for future use. Drop one in your purse and put one beside the phone with a pen for taking notes. If you really want to get rid of the extras and you have full notebooks, drop them off at your local elementary school. Teachers can always find a use for paper.

6–Pens and pencils: Sort before you toss. Dry pens and pencils too short to hold belong in the garbage, but all the rest can be used at sometime by someone. If you don’t need all that you have, find a place to donate them. Again schools are always an option.

7–Food: So this might not be a donate area. This is a reduce. James and I have been trying to limit the amount of food we have been purchasing and using up what is already in the freezer or on the shelves in the pantry or the cellar. The positive of this is that we have been eating less junk food and the freezer is finally not a problem to close. We might even be able to defrost it by summer. Ha!!

Digital:

8–Apps: Before we left for Tennessee, I realized there would be no pictures taken with my phone or iPad unless some of the memory was freed up. I began by eliminating at least one of the games that I never use.

9. Pictures: Pictures take up most of the storage on my phone. We downloaded what was on the iPad to the computer and burned them onto CD’s then I erased them from both the iPad and the phone. I would back them up onto the cloud, but I need to take the time to clear that of an App that should not have backed up on it.

10. Computer files: We needed to take the lap top in for a virus check, which in the long run was a good plan. Because I was afraid of losing files, I finally put the important items on a zip drive and now I have them with me to use at home on the lap top or in the church office if need be. It was actually nice this past Wednesday in the office to have access to all of my sermons and bulletins for reference when I was trying to plan the rest of the Lenten services. And the laptop now has lots more room for other files, like the new track season.

So, that is all I have for now. I am looking at the clutter on my coffee table and looking forward for when it is empty. Currently it holds a pile of papers that need to be organized into a neat little list for the income tax person. My plan is to have that turned in by Monday afternoon. Hopefully I don’t get side tracked. It actually isn’t a problem and is rather fun to do once I get started. Now if I would just finish here, I could get to it.

One cupboard clean!

Book shelf of unread books.

Book shelf of unread books.

So, on Tuesday I got a bug to do some cleaning in my room. I just could not stand all the junk standing around anymore. In fact, I had complained about it the night before, and decided it was time to do something and quit talking or even thinking about it. As I looked around the room, I decided that in order to et a few things put away, I needed access to a certain wall, to set some items there, which caused me to end up cleaning out a cupboard which should have been cleaned out long time ago. Well, that was an interesting endeavor. The end result was a new bookshelf where I have stored up several books I would like to read in the near future. Actually the big bonus was the envelop of cash that I found. It was from 2014, and was money that I had set aside for Christmas presents. I remember looking for it then finally believing that I had already spent it. Good grief!!

In terms of the de-cluttering part of the day, I was able to part with a very few items that were deemed garbage, and I now have a large box of cards, photos and papers to sort through in the future. Hopefully the not so far away future either.

Tins!

Tins!

The old wire bookshelf that I was using has been dumped to the car shed for now. It may end up outside in the flower garden, but I have not totally decided. Since it is wire, it could be a good place for climbing plants, but it could also be a place for a few small pots growing herbs. Just not sure yet. The wall where it used to set is now filled with old pop corn tins. I know these items drive some of my daughters crazy, but for me they are great holders of things. I have at least 4 of them filled with yarn or yarn items. One is just for the cones of thread that I use to make the dish cloths. Another has my sock loom and yarn to go with it. Two or three are simply filled with yarn and others are filled with various individual projects including one full of socks that are headed for the sewing machine in the near future to be turned into a long sock snake to be put in front of that door that leaks so badly at the bottom. My great hope is to empty them one at a time meaning that another project is complete,/ and they can be reassigned to hold some other part of the clutter hanging out around here. Mostly, I just want to slowly, but surely whittle down the piles in my area.

Finished beanies

Finished beanies

My current work in progress is not one I want to show off at this time, but I will share the caps that I have recently completed. I love making these, and have found that I need to keep making them larger in order to fit adults. These are mostly the size of a teenager or someone a bit younger. Well, off to the next project. I am on a mission to get things into an arrangement that puts items within range of working on them and eliminate the many tubs of junk we have setting around the room. My goal is to be tub free in this room by Easter!!

February newsletter for Church

Here is the little write-up I included with the newsletter for the month of February 2017.

With all my talk the past few weeks about cleaning out the extra “stuff” and eliminating the clutter, on Wednesday I found out that sometimes it is ok to be a pack rat. I needed to find the wording for the installation service, and the bulletin that should have had it wasn’t on the computer in the office. I finally located it in my home office stash of papers. It wasn’t neatly typed and had never been on the computer, but I found it and was able to figure out what to do for the bulletin this week. I realize that I still need to deal with my clutter, but this incident reinforced for me that sort through is the term rather than follow the latest trends of just tossing everything out. In fact, had I not taken the time last month to sort through and organize the file box of papers where I found that old bulletin with the installation service, I would still be trying to figure out how we did it in the past.

Mostly I have been reminded of the necessity of keeping track of things that are important while cleaning out the “stuff” that no longer matters, and now might actually be of more value to someone else. It also reminded me of the verse found in Matthew 6:21 which says, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Jesus gave this advice as part of his Sermon on the Mt. Just before this verse, he says that if we store up our treasure on earth it could be stolen or rot away and become useless, sort of like all the “stuff” we accumulate then store it in boxes or closets or containers where it benefits no one. I hope we are all able to take some time this month to ponder where it is we should store up our treasure.

Cactus in bloom too!!

Cactus in bloom

Kalanchoe in bloom

Kalanchoe in bloom

Not much else to say, except that I really want to find the time to do some of the sorting and cleaning yet this winter before the snow melts. I know that once the spring hits, it is all hands on deck outside getting the flower and vegetable gardens ready. In fact, I have to hold myself back, with the cold outside, I am longing to get started on planting some seeds to start tomatoes and peppers early. At least I can work with my indoor plants for now, and hope they stay this good.

Project completed

img_8928I did not take pictures as I was in progress with this project, but I have three from the completed item. I have been wanting to make this pillow for Jessica for a long time, and was glad to finally get the time. It actually only took me about half an hour to do. The easy part was that I had a pillow form to use for the stuffing and that is also what made it hard. I liked that I didn’t have to stuff it, but sewing around the form in closing it up was tough.

img_8930

This t-shirt comes from the campaign to repeal the corporate farming law that was passed by the legislature. Jess was a pretty big part of that repeal and that is probably another reason she was targeted during her election this fall. I guess it is her gain not to be part of what is happening this session. By the time they get finished gutting education and higher education and anything that benefits the poor then giving tax breaks to the upper end, the state will look like … well no need to continue here. I am sure you get the picture.

The bottom was tough to sew but I finally got it closed.

The bottom was tough to sew but I finally got it closed.

Here Is another  picture of that pillow. And the best part was that she seemed to like it, hurrah! This project was a big win for me. I got rid of one t-shirt and the pillow form, so this counts on my anti clutter campaign, rah, rah!

Jan. 23, 2017: Working on the clutter

Today I finally bit the bullet and worked on some of the clutter mess. It was nothing organized and actually sort of random. I packed up all the snowmen. I did the Santa’s on Saturday and today found a piece that should go in that box, but how I have no idea. I got everything in so neatly last year even with a new addition, but this year it was a struggle. The snowmen on the other hand went back in their box with room to spare. I guess it all depends on how I see the puzzle at the time.

Desk in place

Desk in place

The real project for the day was the laundry and clearing the laundry room of the desk that has been sitting there since we moved Paulina into the dorm. Jessica had volunteered to keep the desk, but at the time, I was not able to part with it, as if, but I figured it out today. First off I had to clean out the papers that Paulina left in it, so now she has a box to sort when she comes home. Next I had to clear everything extra out of my office room. It was quite a trip getting that little library table back into my bedroom, but mission accomplished. Tomorrow sometime I will work on clearing out some boxes and refilling the drawers. It will be nice to have a few less shoe boxes setting around in the room. The idea thing will be to sort as I go through them and toss items of no value. Hurrah for that idea. I actually have a tin or two of items from when I emptied my teacher’s desk in Mobridge. It might be a good time to sort those and toss the things I really would rather forget.

Now the next step is to move the big table out of there, although I am not ready to do that until I have that last skirt cut out and sewed up. Maybe next month on that one. As I was digging and moving items today, I moved a few things around in my closet again. Not enough to really count it, but little by little I am making a start on that area. I found a few easy, quick projects that I drug out to the light of day, and hopefully I can complete one or two this week. I also have a couple of items on the burner that I have been looking forward to doing, but am unable to speak of them here because certain nosy daughters don’t need to know of them until they see them in person.

One other thing that will be leaving my house with the garbage this week is a dead kalanchoe plant. I was sad to see it when I went around the house to water everything, but somehow it must have dried up and tipped out of its pot. It was not a fantastic plant and the pot really needs to be redone a bit, so instead of putting it all back together and trying to save it, I pulled it out of the dirt and dropped it into the garbage. It felt so good to be able to let go of it. Besides, I only have about 8 more of those plants in much better condition all over the house and several ways to make more, so no loss there. What have you clearer out today???

Philosophy for more frugal living

I have been kicking around the idea of doing periodic posts about my ideas on how to live more frugally, and even how to live with less clutter. That last part is really going to be a test of my skills since I am so tied into things because of what they represent. During 2017, I will be sharing some of my ideas and practices and life style not to mention the whole experiment of trying to live with less, live on less and how I plan to make at least my corner of the world just a little bit better. I am not a published or awarded expert on any of this, but I feel that living on this earth for just about 60 years and having spent much of that time in the presence of people far older than me, I have learned from many on how to get by when you need to, and how to enjoy what you have. Besides I am sick of reading posts and pins that tell me to toss out everything to have a less cluttered life, and some of the plans on frugal living go a little beyond what I see as good for the economy as a whole. So here goes.

Today I will share 5 areas that I feel we can all start to make our lives better financially and in terms of the space we occupy.

1) Let’s begin with Appreciation for what you have. You could start with a list of 10 items that you have or people/or pets that are around you that you appreciate. Yesterday the new Gov. of North Dakota started his first State of the State speech with a segment about gratitude. Maybe that is a good place to start. Put together a list of 10, 20 or more things for which you are grateful or things you appreciate. Just doing that might prevent you from chasing after something new and better and more elaborate. It might make you think less about getting your happiness from spending.

2) Shop at home first! I don’t mean in your hometown, though that is a good idea. I mean in your house or garage or yard. When it is time to make supper, check the panty, the fridge and the freezer before you go out to eat, call for take out or head to the grocery store. Before you run out to buy another bottle of shampoo or lotion or house hold cleaners check the back of the supply cabinet. Before you go shopping for a new night stand or plant holder or any small furniture, look in the garage a storage shed, your basement and see what you might have in another area that will work for what you want. I learned this lesson so well when we were living in another town for a short two year stint. I went back to our house (we didn’t sell it, we just didn’t live there full time for a bit) and shopped there before I spent any money. I was amazed at how many items I had stored in various cupboards. I think we went a whole year without needing to buy some items.

3) When you are shopping ask those questions: Do I really need this? Do I have one like it? How will I use it. I need to do a better job of this with my clothes. I am forever finding the “cutest” tops and when I get them home, I have only one item to pair with them on sometimes nothing at all. I will do more on clothes when I get a better handle of them. This is also a question I need to ask myself when I am shopping for kitchen items. I have many things there that I never use, but most of them came from purchasing a $1 or $2 box at an auction sale. Seems to me this is more of a clutter issue than a frugal issue.

Garden produce

Garden produce

4) Learn to do certain things for yourself. The number one thing that I am thankful to have learned as a teenager is how to operate a sewing machine. I have been able to sew things for myself and my family over the years even to the point of sewing the baptismal gown and hat and booties set that was used for my own daughters. Over the years I have sewed some clothing, but mostly I have been able to mend things when needed. I realize that I don’t do enough of this in big terms, but it has helped somewhat. Growing your own food and preserving it is also a good thing to learn. I am not sure how much this is a savings except when you are able to eat fresh from your garden rather than purchase it. I plan this summer to keep very close records to find out the truth on this one. For me the preserving is about knowing what is in your food more than having it be cheaper. (On the other hand, sometimes hiring someone to do things for you is a way to keep the economy in your area rolling, but that is a topic for another segment.)

5) Finally, I am an advocate of using cash or a cash mentality when spending. Of course I will never do totally cash because I love the idea of cash back cards. The thing with using a credit card that is a problem and a reason that many “exerts” advise against it is that too many people just run up the balance without regard to the bottom line. My husband and I started our first credit cards when we were married in 1982 under the idea that nothing could be charged that couldn’t be paid off with the next pay check. Of course in those days credit cards were charging 18 to 21 percent interest and there was no way you could afford to over charge on them. The other issue with the first card we looked at they were not really credit cards, but it was a plastic savings account. You didn’t get the card until you put $500 into the savings account with their bank. In other words you could only use as much as you had in the account, so you were in essence borrowing from yourself. I haven’t heard of cards like this lately, but you could still use the concept. Our current issue is to only use the card that issues a yearly cash back. We have stopped using the cards that offer a points reward because where we live most of the places that accept the points don’t exist. Because we purchased a television this year that we had saved up for, we earned lots of extra points and are expecting a nice bonus check in February.

Good grief, I never planned to ramble on quite this long on just a little philosophy type of started post. At any rate, even if no one sees a value in this, I will at least be reminding myself of some of my expectations for this year. I really seriously want to live with less and feel free to use the space that is in our home rather than tripping over all this extra junk that is everywhere. I know that I could just toss and scrap a few things, but I always consider what all the tossing does to the environment. The best way to recycle is not to buy it in the first place, so that is where I will start for now with my plans to be a little more frugal.

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