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.

Styrofoam

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???

Choke Cherry Jelly

Bowls full enough

Tree full

Last Friday when it was too cold to have the pool open, meaning Paulina was home in the afternoon, and my Aunt Glenda was still in Phoenix, Paulina and I took two medium sized bowls and went to Glenda’s to pick the choke cherries. I normally don’t bother her tree, but after I had posted the pictures of our little tree, and she commented that someone should pick hers, I took that for permission. We filled those bowls as you can see on the picture, and still left plenty behind for another picker.

Mashing the cherries

It took until Sunday afternoon before we got to the actual canning part. It should have been sooner, but things never quite work out on the weekends. Here is what we did. We washed the cherries in a strainer and carefully picked out all of the stems that were still on. Next we put all the cleaned cherries into a large pot and put them on the stove on medium to heat up and eventually boil. As they got hotter, we took the potato masher that we reserve for canning purposes and mashed them down.

stirring in the cone

Eventually–well after the jars were washed and the counter was cleared of all the other dirty dishes, we got to the stage of running them through the canning cone. I don’t know what the exact name is for this thing, but to me it is the cone. I also have an original from back in the day so to speak. You can buy these new again. I am not sure how old this one is, I bought it used when we were first married, so I have had it fairly close to 35 years and have used it every year we had a garden. Because of the high stain value of choke cherries, I made sure everything we used was either glass or stainless steel. I should have checked the dish towels more carefully or insisted on paper. In the clean up, I found that my “like new” dish towel that I use to cover the bread dough was in the clean up mix and now after treatment has three blue spots on it. Oh well, nothing nice ever keeps that way it seems.

So the next phase was actually making the jelly. The recipe which I took from my New Salem Band Cookbook that I purchased many years ago while taking a writing workshop in Bismarck. I bought it from a workshop classmate whose daughter was in that band, but introvert me, I never kept track of her name. Anyway, the recipe verifies with the one from the Sur-Jell box.

boiling up the syrup

In the jars.

Chokecherry Jelly: 5 cups chokecherry juice, 7 cups of sugar, 1 box Sure-Jell fruit pectin. In a large kettle mix juice and pectin. Bring to a boil stirring constantly. Add sugar and again bring to a boil stirring occasionally. Boil 1 minute or until 2 strands come together when poured from a spoon. Pour into clean, hot jars and seal. The Sure-Jell box said this would make 9 cups. Ha Ha!! I read and followed the instructions right up to the word occasionally. Apparently long words are getting hard for me to understand, or at the best, my patience for long instructions is fading. I stirred constantly and did not stop the boil at 1 minute. I kept trying to figure out how we were going to make it turn into a strand. I kept thinking of the consistency of hard candy. Ah-Duh! Jelly or Jam is to be spreadable. I am afraid of opening the jars. I think we might have the consistency of a firm jello, or perhaps a chewable jolly rancher. At the worst, Paulina and I are thinking we will reserve this for making those cookies that call for a jelly in the center. Who knows they might be rather good.

We were able to keep a nearly full pint of just syrup. That was put in a jar and set in the fridge to use as ice cream topping. I am looking forward to that. When I was little I always hated that because I wanted chocolate and we didn’t buy chocolate because we had chokecherry. Now I understand what a treat we had.

 

Rain clouds

Clouds to the south over the trees.

Looking north

I took these pictures a few days ago, but the sky isn’t much different tonight. I went to check the garden (found a cucumber) and James went to dump the kitchen compost container, and we both barely made it into the house before the rain began to smatter against the windows. It was not much rain this evening, but enough to keep the pool closed. Paulina will not be getting much of a final check at this rate. Either no children come, or the weather sets in and they have to leave after an hour or two this whole week. It sounds like next week will pretty much be the end because the other guards are leaving to return to school, and they really have not had anyone there. It was plenty hot and busy in June, so I guess that is just how this summer is going.

It is good that we are getting this rain now, at least some of the crops will be salvaged, and perhaps there will be a little moisture going into the ground for hope of something better next spring. James talked to his brothers and it sounds like the row crops will be a little less than a great crop, but at least it is better than if the heat would have continues. Also, I am hopeful that this means the pastures will be ok. Half of what we own is pasture land, and I am always concerned for how that holds up.

James and I were in Bismarck today to pick up my aunt from the airport as she came back from Phoenix. She had been there since the middle of July or so. It was just a little less than a month, and I think time for her to get home. Ha!! I don’t know how many times this past week, I wanted to pick up the phone and ask her to come over for coffee or just sit on the porch, and then I remembered she wasn’t here yet.

One of the best things about the trip to Bismarck was that we really didn’t have much time to shop, so it was plan what we needed and get to it. I liked the idea because not buying is my new best way to eliminate clutter. We did purchase a few needed items, and then we browsed the canning area where I picked up some lids and both powdered and liquid pectin for making jelly. I need to get at those choke cherries tomorrow afternoon, no excuses. I also bought a larger embroidery hoop to do those towels that I stamped yesterday. I put a new bulb in the light beside my rocking chair, now I have no excuse for not doing those towels as I watch television at night. Hmmmm.

I learned that I won’t need to start my long-term substitute job on the first day of school because they are going to have the students stay with the regular classroom teachers on the first week until they get the schedules all in place. I will be starting on the last Monday in August and stay until the teacher is back. Ya!! I enjoy that room and am looking forward to being there. I know most of the students and the other teachers, and it is one of those really small schools that just feels like home.

Well, enough for tonight. I am supposed to be finishing my message, and I just can’t get to it even though I pretty well know what I want to say. These are the times, I would love to use note cards and a few key words and just talk. I am always afraid to do that because I might never get to the point and end it. I already carry on too long for some people in the audience (mostly family, Ha ha!!). Catch you later.

Sorting, washing, organizing…

We spent today sorting many of the boxes that we dug out of the closet and up from the basement. We also dug out more boxes from almost every corner of the house. Sadly we didn’t completely clean any of those corners. I keep hoping for some time yet this summer and into the fall. At least the closet looks better, and it feels so much bigger. James and I sort of agree that it is because of all those craft boxes that have been removed, and also because of the new shoe shelf, which allowed for us to toss out that ugly broken shoe stand. Yipee, it was nothing by a pain that I tripped over and it scratched up the floor.

Sweatshirts drying on the line.

So, the bedroom looked pretty cluttered yet last night. We drug most of the boxes of clothes downstairs, and I am about 3/4 of the way through washing everything. Most of it will end up on the rummage sale. I have picked a few things to put away for another day, about four items to keep, and an arm load of old t-shirt material items to add to the stack slated to be cut into t-shirt yarn for to crochet rugs. I also have a pile of jeans to be cut into quilt squares. Like I said, I am hoping to get to some of these projects this fall. If I have to do it in the evenings, I am thinking that I will need to invest in a decent light.

The best part of it all is that I was able to find homes for the sheets in the towel closets in the two bathrooms upstairs. We also fit the boxes of pictures into the computer room for now, and James went through a box of old pay stubs and bills, and was able to toss everything except one envelope of information about the concrete in front of our house. He put that in with files of other house upgrades. I also threw away some boxes, but still need to figure out how to let go of those balloons. I mean really, I think I have every myelin balloon that was ever given to anyone in this family. In 35 years, that is a lot of balloons.

Our real goal this summer was to get the basement emptied of some of the junk there, so we can actually use it as livable space. As it was we took about five boxes up stairs from there. Paulina went through her suitcase of Bratz dolls and a couple of other containers and organized things better. I think there was even some garbage generated in the sorting. In going through containers, she found some of the pieces for certain of her dolls, so they can now be stored away for when she ever has her own place.

Workbench that may become a plant holder, or a seat, not sure yet.

She has identified a few of the old pieces of furniture that she is willing to take to college. She and her friend, Katie, will be living in a campus apartment this year, and so they have room and need for more than just their clothes. They won’t need a fridge, but I can send some dishes and baking supplies, which should help clear out some of the kitchen areas, too. Yaaaa!!! All these things go with the idea that they are not to come back. Haha, as if that idea has worked well in the past. I also identified a few pieces that I would like to see removed from the house and not brought back inside. One of them ended up on the porch for now, not sure if it is going up for sale in the near future, or just staying outside.

Plant mess

Last evening as we were working in the house there was a short rainstorm outside. When the wind came up, we just ignored it, which is not something we ever do. When I went downstairs to put a box on the dining room table, I peeked out to the porch from the living room and found a slight disaster. The plants that had been sitting on the ledge and the little table were on the floor and some of them were completely out of their pots. I did the best I could to stand them up and put them back together, but I am afraid the little aloe vera plants will not survive.

Tent is doing well!

After my fiasco with the plants,  I was soaked and needed to change. By that time James realized the wind had picked up, and he ran out to see if the tent needed to be taken down, then he was soaked. He had put it up in the morning to see if it was still usable. We have had that thing since 1992 when we were chaperons for the Senior Class trip that was a canoe/camping trip in Minnesota. That was the only time we ever went camping away from home. The only other times we used that tent was with track meets. It was along at the 1997 State Meet in Minot and Jessica, Victoria, Paulina and Sarah Wiley stayed in there through the whole meet. We were really afraid that Paulina would try to get out and run around (she was only 2) but they must have had enough toys along to keep themselves occupied. It was great.

Well, James decided not to chance taking it down during the storm thinking it would do more harm than good. This morning when he went out to check on it, there were only a few damp spots in it. Apparently all the years packed away in the basement have not done it any harm. Hope the kids have fun playing in it this weekend. James is thinking that Jaxon might enjoy camping out with grandpa on Friday night. We shall see how long that lasts. I wonder how high they would jump if someone snuck outside and tried to scare them????

 

Garden helper

Last week when I was working in the garden, I soon found I was not alone. When I looked at the tomato plants, I found a guard cat watching me. Roger often stands guard in the area where I am working both inside and out. I sometimes wonder if she thinks she is a dog. Haha!

I had started a longer post today about cleaning out some of my closet and sorting through boxes from the basement, but early this afternoon I had to back off and am currently sitting up in bed trying to rest until whatever hit me goes away. I am blaming my ears, but am not real sure what this is. James made an observation that Tuesday’s are not my best days especially when I do lots of laundry on Mondays and hang most of it on the line. I think it started yesterday already as I kept feeling like I was walking sideways. I just know that I don’t want to think about going out in the heat,but now I am under the covers because I am cold. Maybe it is a psychosomatic reaction to sorting and throwing away stuff saved forever. Enough said, just wanted to share this picture of my guard cat, Roger. Hope you are having a great Tuesday.

Garden progress: fruit trees

Ripe choke cherries

Lots of choke cherries

The other day when I was out in the garden, I took a walk around the yard and checked on the trees. I found that the chokecherry trees are producing this year and the birds have not eaten all of them off yet. This morning James picked the tree that is fully ripe, hopefully we will get to the others before the birds do.

 

apples

plums

The apple tree has lots of apples, unusual to have two years in a row of good produce around here. The apples are pretty small this year, and I suppose that is because it was so dry early on. I am not sure if that really makes a difference, but it seems to be this year because the plums are also really small. The good news about the plums is that so far we have not seen any of the webs indicating that little worm in the fruit. I would appreciate getting enough of a crop to make some jelly. The hard part will be that they won’t ripen until after school starts and I am in the middle of that long-term substituting situation. Well it will be good to be busy and to be paid.

Not much else to mention here. We had our first meal from the garden today. I made some stir fry that included the peas that were picked a few days ago. We also put half of a zucchini into it, and James and Paulina ate that part of the stir fry. I dislike how soft and soggy zucchini gets when cooked in stir-fry. I ate the other half of the zucchini grilled with Cajun spice on it, oh yummy!! We had fresh peaches and fresh strawberries for dessert. I don’t think that I will need to nibble on chips this evening, hurrah!! Today is my last day of lounging around. Tomorrow starts my serious effort to drop 5-10 pounds before I have to squeeze into dress clothes five days a week. Yikes this could be a major challenge. Hope you are enjoying the rest of the summer.

Garden Progress: weeding and trimming

Cucumbers crawling

Today was a morning in the garden. By the time I got up, James was already working on the weeds along the peas and then the cucumbers. Later I picked the peas and worked on training the cucumbers up the fence, which is what you see to the right. Most of the weeds that James had to deal with were what we call creeping jenny. It is a vine with white morning-glory shaped flowers, but all much smaller. The vine is quite fine, but as tenacious as can be, and it has almost a wire-like quality to the way it goes about choking other plants. It seems not matter how deep you go on that plant, you cannot get all of the roots. James is also adamant that it is disposed of rather than tossed on a pile of other weeds. He thinks just having the dead plant in an area will start a new growth. I have to laugh at him sometimes.

Two pumpkins growing

I made it outside about an hour after him, and went to work on that invasive pumpkin plant. The problem is that I let three plants grow thinking that they were all different, when in fact they were all pumpkins. I found that there were a few pumpkins already growing, so I followed their vine back to the root and I was really careful, and a little lucky, about keeping those intact. At one point I was afraid that I had pulled out the wrong root, but fortunately not the case. I ended up leaving the other two plants just to be safe. I did cut as much as I could off what was left. It was necessary to get some of it out of the tomato cages. The vine that has three pumpkins growing on it actually loops through one of the cages, and it might be interesting before the harvest is over. I will have to keep on top of the trimming because I know that plant will try to grow more. Hopefully with this trimming we will get five nice sized pumpkins for a change instead of 25 dinks.

Pepper area

Besides the pumpkins, I did as much weeding as I could along the peppers and that row of red onions to their south side. I also tried to free the yellow onions that are north of the peppers, but that was a feat that will not happen in one day or especially one morning that was already partially used. I ended up pulling out another pail of cosmos. Not sure where this batch will end up. I might need to dig a new spot in the yard just for them. I look back at some of the pictures that I took earlier this summer and found out those cosmos were not there the first time we weeded. They came and grew up while we were in Baltimore, literally during those six days they sprouted and took over. Good Grief!!

James took the wheelbarrow to the garden when he started weeding this morning. By the time I got there, he had it nearly full. It only took a few of the pumpkin vines to fill it, and then he dumped it. When he returned, I had the rest of the discarded vines stacked to start the next load. By the time I was finished with the pepper/onion rows we had the second load full. It is to the point that we no longer count how much is clean, but we gauge our work by how many loads of weeds we remove.

Tomato

James also went around the tomato cans and cages and pulled out the weeds there. He mulches the tomatoes pretty heavily each year, so there are never many weeds in those. We need to do a better job of rotating those around the entire garden in the future. We are finding that the mulching has really improved the soil and so the more times the tomatoes are planted in a space, the better that soil is. I guess we fertilize them pretty well too. Our next issue will be to clean out the area around the zucchini and then that south area where I planted the zinnias and where there is a second batch of snow peas. I am not sure how soon we will get to that. The rest of today I will be working on the message for tomorrow and after that, we will need to get going on cleaning the house for company next weekend. James has a birthday coming up and the girls want to be here. It is also nearing out 35th wedding anniversary and we might need to do something fun for that. Not sure, I think James and I have had enough traveling for the summer, so maybe just a few hot dogs and hamburgers on the grill. Ha!! Right in the middle of those two days, Ana will turn three. I think that is what we will celebrate.

So, what are your plans for the rest of the summer???

Previous Older Entries

timogarden

Ecological gardening and food processing in Sweden

Bee Organized with Pamela

To help you organize and contain your clutter. Sharing tips with you.

Alive and Piecing

Navigating Life with 4 Poodles, 2 Teens, & an Obsession for Quilting

Empty Nest, Full Life

Formerly: PostDepartumDepression Thoughts about the "post Mommy" years of life

bunny totem knits

knitting a spiritual, intellectual, emotional life

stitchinggrandma

Quilting and Sewing projects and the occasional craft

Mostly Not New

Exploring alternatives to constantly buying new crap

rachelmankowitz

The Cricket Pages

Missy's Crafty Mess

knitting, crochet, yarn dyeing, cross stitch, books, cats, and family recipes. My journey through grief and loss...

Lillian's Cupboard

I store all kinds of things about cooking, quilting and some surprises in my cupboard. Check it out.

Wishful Thinking

A fine WordPress.com site

Pommie Sheila

The musings and escapades of an emigre down under

Ramblin' through Dave's Garden

Garden and Pond stuff

DaniellaJoe's Blog

crochet is my favorite fiber art and my goal is to become a real artist...

Garden Walk Garden Talk

The Greater Garden of Nature

Writing from Scotland

by Christine Laennec

Agrigirl's Blog

Placemaking for Healthier Communities and a Healthier Planet

SARAH THE GARDENER

Real Gardening in my Real Garden

Seasweetie's Pages

One Woman On A Quest for Peace, Joy and the Write Words

So It Goes

North Dakota Representative District 12 thoughts and ramblings

tom.basson

healthy (body+mind+spirit) = healthy soul

My Tangled Yarn Knitting Adventures

Ramblings from an obsessed knitter

Nature and Wildlife Pics

Photos of Birds, Bugs, and Buds

Buzy Day

The adventure of NikkiM

I Love To Go A Gardening

Growing Our Life in Northern Michigan

Simply Grateful Housewife

Finding happiness despite the cobwebs and dirty dishes.

The Ramblings of a Knitting Goddess

I knit. I laugh. I dream.

It's not really about me...

...its about a creative journey of faith

Grassroots & Gardening

A passion for journalism and gardening

The Renegade Seamstress

Refashions Beyond My Wildest Seams

go go little red

Craftin' each day as if it's the last!

Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast

Birthplace of James Madison and Southern Plantation

The Inbox Jaunt

From Doodle to Design

Travel. Garden. Eat.

Enjoy the good things in life ~ you can always clean tomorrow!

Lake Superior Spirit

Blogging from the Upper Peninsula North Woods...