Around the House


Okay, not as melodic as “The Hills are Alive with the Sound of Music!” or even as comedic as “The Hills are Alive with the Sound of Griswold!” but nevertheless, it is music to my ears.

Or, rather,  it will be when I actually start de-cluttering. As it is, I’m spending most of my time moving my head around to various angles trying to determine which one produces the least amount of sinus pressure and bloody snot. But I digress.

A few months ago my Best Bud and I decided to have a yard sale this coming spring. Since I have no staging area to speak of, my de-cluttering came to a halt in order to prevent a mental breakdown. However, with absolutely no effort on my part, my tiny little basement “get rid of” pile continued to grow on its own – and at an astounding rate. (Where does this crap come from???) Lately the pile has come dangerously close to what I like to refer to as The Freak-Out Point.

Then, a wonderful thing happened. During an email discussion of an unrelated event, the Best Bud and I touched on the yard sale topic. She asked if she could bring things to my staging area. My head almost exploded. When I had collected myself, I responded with an alarming and vividly detailed account of the current states of both my basement and mental health. We cancelled the yard sale and agreed to donate our stuff.

Free at last, free at last!

I have to say, I didn’t realize how much the idea of having yet another yard sale was weighing me down until we canceled it. I would have celebrated by skipping through a field of daisies if it weren’t for a) it is the middle of winter and there aren’t any fields of daisies nearby, and b) I can’t breathe, much less skip. Instead, I celebrated by swiping a bunch of cardboard boxes bound for recycling and took them home to fill for donating. 

Now all I need to get this project into full swing are antibiotics and someone willing to load the truck…Honey, got a minute?

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Image by jvh33 via Flickr

I just came back from a lunchtime stroll through a retail store where all the Christmas do-dads were lined up on the shelves in all their glittery splendor. It seems the Season of Panic has begun.

I imagine that is how retailers want us to start feeling right about now – panicked. What do I need to buy to have the perfect Halloween-Thanksgiving-Christmas-New Years? Because it does have to be picture perfect – just like in the store displays and commercials – doesn’t it? Or does it?

In the past I have always begun (to the dismay of many) thinking, talking about, and planning for Christmas in late July. This is partly because the majority of my family’s birthdays fall between August and December and it is easier to think of birthday and Christmas shopping in one lump. The other predominant reason is that I’m a planner by nature and like to think and work ahead so I can cram as much holly jolly in as possible.

This year, however, I’m going a different route. I vaguely thought about Christmas some time in mid-July, but let it pass without much ado. When my sister sent out the annual “let’s get the gift list rolling” email, I proclaimed this to be The Year of No Stuff for me (well, except for an airhorn, but that’s a different post altogether).

Now, here it is September, and *gasp* I haven’t made a shopping list, haven’t bought a gift, haven’t started addressing Christmas cards – don’t even have Christmas cards, and I’m still not panicking. I have decided to let the seasons and holidays unfold naturally and prepare for and enjoy them as they come. I’m toning it all down a few notches – will even be purging many of my decorations as they come down out of the attic.

Don’t get me wrong – I love, love, love this time of year, but somewhere along the line it’s all gotten to be too much of everything and not enough of the right things. For years my husband and I have had an ongoing discussion about the holidays. I tell him he hates the holidays, and he tells me, no, he does not hate the holidays! The truth is he hates the hype of the holidays – how it comes weeks or months before the actual event. So this year, I’m flexing my newly found but growing, minimalist attitude and giving my husband, my daughter, and myself the gift of a low-key holiday season. Less decorating, less fretting, less gifting, less its all got to be perfect, and more fun and togetherness.

 

I am convinced that magazines have a secret life, and that when we’re not looking they multiple like bunnies. Maybe it’s their way of getting back at us for going digital.

My husband reads a ton of magazines, and with the exception of his beloved High Performance Pontiac and Auto Restorer, they all eventually make their way (with help from me) to the recycling bin.

My Mother-in-Law used to save all her old magazines for me to read because she knew that I would enjoy looking through them, and I did – up until the point I became a Mom and the magazines started piling up unread. Between the magazines she was sending my way and the ones to which I subscribed, (not to mention my husband’s collection) my house was becoming a glossy paper nightmare.

Finally I asked my Mother-in-Law to pass her magazines on to someone else, and I cancelled my subscriptions. Now I’m left with the carnage of my past sins – a stack of Parents partially read, a stack of Taste of Home (and a few other cooking magazines) barely flipped thru, and worst of all, a stack of Bead Style that I haven’t even given the time of day.

In a weaker moment I considered throwing them all in the recycle bin to be done with it, but that’s taking the easy way out and is wasteful on so many levels. Instead, I’ve decided to tackle the magazine monster like any other project – one step at a time (or in this case, one magazine at a time). I’ll work my way thru each one of them, scanning any recipes or articles that I want to save for later.

My BFF and I are already whispering about the possibility of a yard sale in the Spring, so as I go thru the stacks of magazines I’ll add them to the yard sale pile. Anything related to cooking and crafting tends to sell well. (In the event they don’t sell, there is always Craigslist or Freecycle.) In the meantime, I’ve got about nine months and a lot of reading to do before the yard sale – I better get busy.

 

In my world it’s Tuesday…plus a few hours. 🙂

I have never considered myself minimalist by any stretch of the imagination, though I do love clean lines and uncluttered space. However, I’m starting to wonder if I’m not heading in that direction. So often now I find myself looking around my house, seeing objects with new eyes, and thinking, “that needs to go”. And these were things that I formally loved. My ideas about what is wanted or needed seems to be changing daily, and the desire to lighten the load is increasing exponentially the more stuff I get rid of.

Case in point. Two years ago my sewing/work room was contained within a small extra bedroom. It was a crowded but cozy space with walls the color of caffe au lait, curtains I’d made myself, a bookcase full of books, a closet stuffed with all my sewing, needlework, and jewelry making supplies, an antique dresser filled with odds and ends. I loved that room, and all my little treasures.

Then, I discovered I was pregnant with Little M and the extra room needed to be transformed into a nursery. I carved out an area in the basement and set about creating a new cozy space. It was different but it still had the cozy woman-cave feel, and it worked well until Little M outgrew the basinet and then the pack’n play. When it came time to little Little M roam free, suddenly it was all too much. There were books that could be torn, cords to get tangled in, open shelves with two many things to topple over on a little one. It went on and on. I had to find a compromise that worked for me and for a baby discovering the world around her.

After tossing around several options and trying some that didn’t work, I decided to move the table that my sewing machine sat on back upstairs and set it up in the master bedroom (with creative arrangement of furniture we had the space). Then a lot of related began to follow – books, supplies, a lamp, tools – just because I was accustomed to always having them nearby. Time passed and I realized I was spending more time decluttering the work table than actually creating projects. It was frustrating. 

Finally, one day I took everything back to the basement that I did not absolutely need for the sewing project that I was trying to complete. The table was left with a sewing machine, a task lamp, and a basket that contained my patterns (that were in use), sewing tools, and notions, and a magnetic straight pin holder. Suddenly the space was inviting. I couldn’t wait to use the area. And now I do, regularly. I’ve discovered that the less visual clutter I have hampering me, the more productive I am. Now, the basement area is my storage space, and that little table is my workspace. I bring up to the table only what I need for a project, and return what I don’t need any longer when I’m finished. It’s Heaven, but it has me looking at that basement area more and more wondering, “what can go?” A lot, I’m pretty sure.