Vacate Clutter Day 5

How did these make it through so many kitchen purges? Not today!

I did not follow my plan of resting after lunch. In the morning I worked on the kitchen cabinets and drawers, an extra kitchen closet, and part of the pantry. Then my mom came over for a visit and lunch.

After she left, I couldn’t leave the pantry unfinished. It was tedious looking at all of those teeny expiration dates with my fifty-one year old eyes. The room is not well lit and my eyes were never great anyway. I got glasses when I was three and hard contact lenses when I was eight. When I was three-fourths of the way through, I started writing the month and year on the box/can with a Sharpie marker. If those items are still there on my next pass through the pantry, the dates should be easy to read.

I was on a roll, so I did the dining room, an Easter decorations bin that was in the dining room, and my kitchen desk. Though I go through my desk cabinets and drawers regularly, there were still so many items to file, throw away, relocate, ask Bob about, and “to do” at a later time. I’m also taking notes of items to purchase (such as coffee for guests) and future projects to work on (such as updating checklists or organizing our power outage supplies).

After dinner, I started sorting items in the basement. I did this the whole time Bob was working out down there. He guesses it was one hour and twenty minutes. I now have a list of basement categories to deal with this week. Time to rest and eat popcorn.

Vacate Clutter Days 3 & 4

Day 3

Sunday was a light day because I try to rest on Sundays. I only sorted a pile of books someone gave me last summer. There were some interesting ones that I haven’t decided about yet, and I have a box to go out the door.

Day 4

Today I started with my portion of the Master Bathroom. Bobby’s things are all out on the counter and the floor. I think he’ll go through them soon.

Cleaning drawers is very satisfying, and thinking about reorganization is tempting. After spending too much time on that, I realized that I need to focus on just decluttering or there is no way I’ll get through my checklist during vacation. My daughter Sarah already called my plan “ambitious”, which is code for “I don’t think you’ll finish that much in one week.”

Next up was the Utility Closet. I didn’t think of taking a before photo. Here is the stuff that was in it, and an after photo.

My method was: 1. Empty closet. 2. Relocate items. (I decided to move extra boxes of facial tissues to the bathrooms, car cleaners and shoe/boot sprays to the laundry room cabinets, and hand sanitizer – I do not know where yet.) 3. Throw away trash. 4. Put the keepers back in the closet neatly.

I also decluttered my Laundry Room/Half Bath and the Upstairs (Kids) Bathroom. These were recently remodeled so I didn’t take pictures. I’ll do Room Tours posts on them when I have time. But not this week because I am focused!

Vacate Clutter Day 2

Just a quick update…

I decluttered my bedroom. It’s not finished because Bobby hasn’t gone through his stuff yet. I went through all of my non-clothing items and it took longer than expected. (It’s hard to not get sidetracked when purging reading materials.) I am getting rid of seven items and some paper.

I realized that many of the books in my closet (shown below) are study projects that I hope to do in the future.

Note to self: If you continue to minimize possessions, you’ll reap the benefits of a well-ordered home. One of these will be more time to focus on the study projects you are hoping to do. So don’t give up!

Vacate Clutter Day 1

I started with the living room. I emptied the drawers and shelves. I moved some items to the rooms where they belong, threw away some trash, and got rid of a remote we don’t use. Then I put what we are keeping back in their places neatly. I also dusted and vacuumed while I was at it. If you want to see photos, check out my “Room Tours: The Living Room” post. The room looks almost the same as it did then. The Wii U and accessories have moved upstairs and we no longer have that white pillow. I didn’t get rid of any DVD’s this time around. I have a commitment tomorrow morning. If I have time to continue in the afternoon I will. I asked half my family the questions on pages 54-55 in The Minimalist Home by Joshua Becker. We all agreed that this is an inviting space that encourages conversations, and is easy to maintain. One room down, loads more to go!

Vacate Clutter Vacation

I just sent a text in my family’s group chat about the whole house declutter I plan to do during the upcoming school vacation week.

“Can you think of a catchy name for my project?” I asked.

Matthew, my oldest, who’s 22 (and the only one to respond), suggested Vacate Clutter Vacation. So naturally, I looked up the definition of vacate. To leave a place that one previously occupied. Perfect. I’m going to stay home this week, and send the clutter on a permanent vacation.

You can see the areas I will go through listed above. I’ll likely skim through some books I own to psych myself up. I plan to get as far as I can each morning, then stop at lunch time, leaving the rest of the day for prayer and recreation. Doesn’t this sound like a healthy, balanced approach? It’s not my usual way…

I’ll post my progess here daily.

Experiment #1: Downsizing Eyes

6BBC3B66-1EB1-4505-9FD3-E088D48A7849My step father passed away on December 27, 2019. He and my mother had lived together for thirty years.  They weren’t pack rats, and they were fairly organized and clean.  For the past few months I’ve watched (and sometimes helped) my mother give away and throw away their possessions in order to downsize.  I helped my mother buy a one bedroom condo, which is closer in proximity to my sister and me.  Then two weeks ago, we helped her move the possessions she wanted to keep into the new condo.  Last weekend, she decided she wanted to put her house on the market by the end of the week, and yesterday it was listed.

For five days we spring cleaned, painted, posted items on the “letgo” app, gave items to their new owners, and filled up a 15 yard dumpster.  Then on the sixth and seventh days, I rested.  Today, I’m thinking about the whole experience.

Letting go of a home you lived in for forty years as you grieve the loss of your spouse is my mother’s story.  Saying good-bye to my childhood home and remembering my step father and my grandparents, who also have passed away, and who were a big part of my life back then, is my story; but not where I’m going with this today.  I’m pondering the downsizing of material possessions.

Those who know me well, know that this is a big topic of interest for me. Decluttering, purging stuff, minimalism, voluntary poverty, and downsizing… they are all related in my mind.  And now I have this fresh, first-hand experience (not my own) of answering the questions:  What do I want? What do I need? What am I willing to let go of?

It’s hard not to notice the fact that I will one day go through this downsizing myself, or if I die first, my family will be throwing out and giving away my possessions.  So why am I keeping things that I do not use on a regular basis?  It motivates me to do another pass through my home with the eyes of a downsizer.

Experiment #1:

Imagine you are moving into a tiny one bedroom home next week.  It has a small living room, kitchen, bathroom, and very little extra storage.  What would you take with you?  What are your favorite things?  What do you use all the time?  What is most important?

This will not help me to get rid of any of my husband’s or my children’s belongings.  And I will, of course, need to keep many extra articles of furniture and shared items in the common areas.  But let’s see how this experiment will affect my own stash of personal belongings.  Results will be the subject of a future post.

Why Haven’t I Finished Yet?

I have been decluttering ever since I moved out of my Mom’s house around thirty years ago.  I found out letting go of possessions was a thing about ten years later.  And I have been an aspiring minimalist since I first heard the word “minimalist” about ten years ago.  So why can’t I get through my whole house and be done with it?

I realize that I will not actually finish, as in never having to declutter my home again.  I expect to go through all of the rooms, annually perhaps, to remove those items we didn’t end up using much, or maybe things we are finally ready to let go of now that another year has passed.  What I am really asking is: why can’t I get through the whole house?

I know I am repeating areas previously finished again and again, getting sidetracked with other projects, watching lots of movies, taking care of my family and basically, living life. But is there a reason why I can’t seem to finish?  Is it not a priority?  Am I afraid to finish?  Am I procrastinating because it’s hard work?  What’s the deal?

Here is where I am currently perceiving myself to be with this project.

These areas are finished:

  • The van
  • the living room
  • the dining room
  • the master bedroom
  • my clothing
  • Bobby’s clothing
  • Sarah’s clothing
  • Sarah’s room
  • the foyer
  • the linen closet
  • the master bathroom
  • the upstairs bathroom
  • the laundry room
  • the kitchen
  • the pantry
  • the utility closet

These areas were finished (maybe last year), but need to be gone through again:

  • the girls’ room
  • Joseph’s room
  • Joseph’s clothing
  • Rachel’s clothing
  • Hannah’s clothing
  • Mary’s clothing
  • the mudroom
  • the extra closet
  • my kitchen desk
  • the schoolroom

These are the areas that have never been finished:

  •  the basement
  • the garage
  • the sentimental items
  • the digital items

These are areas I do not include in this project at all:

  • the study
  • the shed

Looking at this list sheds some light on why I haven’t finished yet. That’s a lot of areas!!!  Is it even possible to be a minimalist and be responsible for all of these areas?  I don’t know. But I do think I see the light at the end of the tunnel. It doesn’t take much time to go through the repeat areas. Then, there are only four main problem areas and sentimental is almost decluttered, so that leaves three that I think are doable with a little laser focus.  I can do this!

Decluttering Sentimental Items

I woke up to the beautiful sound of rain last Thursday morning, and I decided to start working on the VHS-C tape project. My son has been asking me to finish putting these family home movies onto DVD’s. So I worked on it most of that day, and Sunday too. I’ll be continuing this project (when I have the time) until I finish it.

While the movies were recording, I decluttered the school room and went through what I call the “sentimental items”. I organized by categories and made a list of “Sentimental Projects” to be completed at some time in the future. (Winter might be a good time to work on these.)  So basically, I decluttered the sentimental items and made another To Do list! You can see photos below of: my current project’s mess, the pile of photos to scan, my decluttering checklist, and my new Sentimental Projects list. Making progress!

 

Project 333

So I have a whole year of capsule wardrobes under my belt. (That sounds ridiculous to literal me.) Last year I put together a Winter Capsule Wardrobe mostly from items I owned.  Then I created my first Spring Capsule Wardrobe with the help of an ebook and by purchasing new clothing.  It was exciting, although I had many questions.  I enjoyed looking more feminine most of the time, but I’ll admit I sometimes sacrificed comfort to look like a forty something year old mom who could make 90 outfits out of twenty something items.

I continued the concept with my own version of the Summer Capsule Wardrobe. It was easy and comfortable.  I may have had a few too many items that I didn’t end up wearing.  Then came the Fall Capsule Wardrobe, which was fun and comfy except for a few pieces that felt tight because I gained some weight.  I used an ebook again and my mother commented on how nice I looked in colors I didn’t usually wear. Instead of gray, charcoal, or black, I was being seen in public in burgundy and pink.

When it came time to set up another winter one I hesitated.  The clothing in the winter ebooks didn’t look warm and cozy to me.  And I had so many nice fall clothes and a pile of old winter clothes in my basement. How would I choose? I decided to go with a clothing experiment I’ve done in the past called Project 333.  For me, it was a quick and easy way to choose from what I had (and what I got for Christmas) to make a simple winter wardrobe. Because it included outerwear and accessories (and mittens!) I had to choose only my favorite winter items.

Here they are:

  1. blue boot cut jeans
  2. blue skinny jeans
  3. black skinny jeans
  4. green skinny jeans
  5. burgundy skinny jeans
  6. gray sweater
  7. 24601 T-shirt
  8. purple flannel shirt
  9. purple long sleeve T
  10. white long sleeve T
  11. burgundy flannel shirt
  12. burgundy long sleeve T
  13. navy striped sweater
  14. black turtleneck
  15. white sweater
  16. black cardigan
  17. beige cardigan
  18. gray cardigan
  19. navy hoodie
  20. fringed cardigan
  21. hiking boots
  22. black western boots
  23. tan heeled boots
  24. snow boots
  25. black & white plaid scarf
  26. black scarf
  27. red scarf
  28. mittens
  29. gloves
  30. sunglasses
  31. winter coat
  32. tote bag
  33. purse

It’s fun to experiment with new ideas and see how they work in real life.  I’m not completely sold on the capsule wardrobe concept.  I don’t know if it matters to me whether or not it appears that I am wearing many different outfits.  In fact, I recently saw a male acquaintance who was wearing a short sleeve black T-shirt with blue jeans and comfortable looking sneakers.  I think the last time I saw him he may have been wearing a short sleeve black T-shirt, tan shorts and comfortable looking sandals.  That is how I used to dress.  The fact that I noticed this and had a desire for this simplicity will likely influence how I dress in future seasons.

Fall Capsule Wardrobe

We’re about halfway through the fall season, and I’m just getting around to posting about my fall capsule wardrobe. Yesterday, I packed away a couple of sleeveless tops and a pair of shorts that I kept out because we were still having some hot weather in October, but I think that’s over now. I also noticed that there are several items I haven’t even worn yet.  Maybe I don’t need them.

I’m sorry to say that I haven’t worn the black jeans because they’ve been feeling too tight. I gained a few pounds. I’m not tempted to wear the dress, skirt or pumps in the colder weather. And the same for the jean jacket. Sweaters and sweatshirts feel cozier.

So here is what I have been wearing, starting with the tops: white, gray, black, and charcoal long sleeve T-shirts, an ivory top, a striped long sleeve T-shirt, a chambray shirt, black plaid and burgundy plaid tunics, and my Les Mis T-shirt.

The bottoms are: blue boot cut jeans, and burgundy, hunter green, and blue skinny jeans.

The layers are as follows: charcoal, olive, gray, and beige cardigans; navy and gray hoodies; and a black raincoat.

The shoes and accessories are:  black western boots, gray converse sneakers, hiking boots, black sling-back pumps, a scarf, a black handbag, a black tote bag, and a silver necklace (not shown).

The inspiration for this wardrobe was from The Essential Capsule Wardrobe: Fall 2018 Collection found at Classy Yet Trendy.  I basically copied it by using what I have and buying several of the items in it.  I simplified the wardrobe a bit by not adding the beige ankle boots, suede jacket and handbag. So I use black with everything, which may not look as nice sometimes, but it saved money.

The capsule wardrobe concept makes shopping way less overwhelming for me. Instead of looking for a new top for fall (out of the endless choices), I can look specifically for a black and white plaid shirt. And tweaking it is not hard. I went with a tunic because I like to cover my butt.  The hiking boots make me comfortable in rain and mud, and the men’s hoodie sweatshirts are great on chilly fall days. (with a blanket, for super cozy)

These capsule wardrobes have also taken me out of my comfort zone, and have kept me from just wearing my grubbies all the time.  They’ve reminded me that twenty years ago (before kids) I used to enjoy wearing heels.  (and pencil skirts and mini skirts and bodysuits and Bongo jeans… Yikes!) And if I want to continue to fit in my skinny jeans, I might have to eat better or work out. I’ll just have to take better care of myself, body and soul.