Archive for the ‘Clutter’ Category

Last night, preparing to welcome in 2011, I was pondering New Year’s Resolutions.  I still make them, though over the years I have learned to make concrete, do-able resolutions rather than broad sweeping ones like “get fit” or “get organized.”

In that vein, I started to contemplate.  I recently read some “best resolutions” in a magazine and one lady said she vowed to try 3 new recipes a week.  I thought, “that’s a bit too much, but what about one new recipe?”  Then I got to thinking, “I’d really like to clean my office out this year and make it more of a haven, but how to do that?  Maybe clean up and get rid of one thing a week?”  Could I do anything else, one thing at a time?  Eventually, my resolution crystallized into “one new thing.”  I plan to try to do at least one new thing per week this year.  It may be a new recipe or signing up for a cooking class or a new fitness move from a magazine.  Small or large, it doesn’t matter.

Then I thought a little further.  What would these new things do for me?  Hopefully they’d be good.  Maybe I should call it “one good thing.”  Then I thought, heck, good things happen every day, maybe I should resolve to take note of them.  That’s when I decided to go out today and pick up a  pretty journal to keep next to my bed and every night look back on the  day and make a quick note of the “one good thing” I could say about that day.  It’s not a gratitude journal, it’s just an acknowledgment that every day brings SOMETHING that’s good, no matter how tired and cranky and down we might feel sometimes.

Of course I will pursue “one new thing” as well.

What’s your New Year’s Resolution?


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It’s difficult but the destashing/decluttering continues and progress is being made.  Yesterday, after waffling a bit about the handspun yarn I had, I emailed the middle school art teacher to find out if she wanted it.  She was thrilled to have it so I grabbed the box that was stacked behind my chair and went digging in the closet to find two more. Hey, what are all those notebooks in the closet?  Log books from my soap making days.  I kept the most recent one (probably the most refined recipes) and tossed the rest in the trash on my way out the door to take the yarn to school.  I was not going to allow any time for second guessing!  It felt really good.

Today I went through 3 boxes of of fiber and yarn and posted them for sale on a Yahoo group for buying and trading fiber related stuff.  I did have to stop and fondle a particularly soft batch of wool and silk mix, but then reminded myself that I really don’t enjoy spinning anymore.

The piles are getting shorter and I am happy.  Just packed up a book I sold online – out of print and the lady is thrilled to find it and I am thrilled to send it off where it can be loved:).

Time to go work on dinner.  I bought a pork loin on sale and need to go turn it into the correct shape for pork stir fry.



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Yesterday I posted my grand plans for “a box a day….”  Seemed so simple, so straight-forward, and it is, but it does require a bit of an attitude adjustment.  Yesterday I tackled box #1, which held a bunch of framed pictures in 1980’s style frames, which seem a little garish now, along with things like patches from grade school summer camp, prints I had bought on vacation over the years intending to frame, and a big file with every piece of paper associated with my study abroad trip in college.

Pretty easy to go through really – study abroad papers trashed, pictures taken out of frames and frames designated for Goodwill.  I struggled a little with the prints, but realized that if they weren’t on my walls 20 years after purchase, they weren’t likely to go there anytime soon and don’t really fit my decorating style now anyway, so into Goodwill they go.  The patches were also a struggle, but I really have no use for them.  If I ever get around to scrapbooking my 1970’s era photos, they COULD go in the scrap book, but would make them lumpy so I am just going to let them go.

Today I moved on to the next box.  A box filled with handspun yarn from my days of spinning.  There are at least a half dozen boxes just like this one.  I really wasn’t an expert spinner and spun small varieties of stuff, so I really can’t sell it, but i am so through with fiber arts.  Now I am struggling where to donate it – I am not sure it is something that works for Goodwill.

I read an article recently describing several of the ways people think when they are trying to declutter.  One personality is the “perfectionist” – the person who has to find the optimum way to get rid of the thing, whether it’s to get the best price for it, give it to the right charity, or dispose of it in the most green way.  THAT IS SO ME!  It can be paralyzing.  I think I am going to email the middle school art teacher and ask if she has a use for the yarn.

Since I felt I hadn’t “dealt” with the yarn,  I went through a box of craft books and listed them for sale on a craft group.  If they don’t sell, off to the library, except the one that is out of print and likely to be worth a good $40-50.

So, I am making progress but it is a little hard going.  Let me know how you are doing.

Best regards,

Lynn Zentner

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Regular readers will recall that last summer I did set out on several decluttering attempts.  Made some progress, but still have way too much junk.  Last week, despite fighting a rotten cold for almost 3 weeks, I set out to clear a bunch of boxes out of the garage that have been there since our basement remodel 2 years ago.  We had a big outdoor bash this past Saturday and we had some concern that it might rain, so I set out to clean the garage so that the party could move in there if necessary.  Naturally, my cleaning resulted in a beautiful sunny day on Saturday and no need for the garage, but I am still glad I got to it.

There wasn’t much time to sort through things, so for the most part, I moved all the boxes that I needed to sort into my (very small) office.  They are now a towering wall behind my desk chair.  One of my summer goals is to turn my office into a relaxing oasis and I can’t do it with the wall of boxes behind me.  So yesterday I told my husband that my goal over the next couple of weeks is to go through a box a day and trash, donate, or sell whatever is in that box.  I started yesterday by listing 13 pounds of plastic tri beads for sale on the Yahoo group, AbandonedCrafts.  I used to make girls beaded socks to sell at Craft shows, but haven’t been to a craft show in years and my major client, my daughter, lost interest in the beaded socks years ago!  Today, my goal is to go through a box of old “desk stuff” that seems to have followed me around in that box since college.  If it hasn’t been on a desk in over 20 years, I think it’s time to get rid of it!

I figure that in about 2 weeks, I should have conquered the wall behind my desk.  I was recently given a gift card to Target and my reward for a clean office will be to use that gift card to replace something in my office with an object that better fits my “Oasis” theme.

Wish me luck!  By the way, I will surely be Freecycling some of this stuff.  I highly recommend you check out your local freecycle group (mine is on YahooGroups) for getting rid of things that may be usable by someone else, but may be something you can’t sell or drop off at a donation center.  Last week I was able to give away a nice oak fireplace mantel and surround as well as a gigantic piece of shower board that my husband had used as a dry erase board.  The people who picked the items up had a use for them and I was glad not to send them to the landfill.

Please join me in dejunking – try a box a day or even a box a week, if you are busy with work.  Just think, you could be 52 boxes lighter by this time next year!

Best regards,


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I have to apologize – I started back to work last week after a summer off and found that putting up a daily blog post was getting to be harder than I thought.  Sometimes I can get to one during my lunch hour, but otherwise I end up posting when I get home from work and am dead tired and not entirely coherent!  I will keep trying, but if you don’t hear from me for a few days, I am just swamped.  Meanwhile, if you are a regular reader and enjoy my posts, shoot me a message to encourage me to keep it up.  My blog stats show that people are visiting my pages, but it would help to know that people are reading and actually finding my posts interesting or helpful.

Beautiful weekend here in the Midwest, if you like it on the cool side, which I do.  I am trying to get out into the garage each week to do a little decluttering.  I have set a goal to be able to pull one vehicle (the car I drive to work) into the garage before the first frost.  Last year I was scraping frost off the car each morning and that is pretty stupid when I have a perfectly good garage.

I have been going through a lot of things that have been dragging after me for 20 years or more and evaluating whether I really need to keep them.  Since I am a University professor, I am having a hard time parting with old engineering textbooks, but I have been trashing all the old notes from classes unrelated to my area of specialization.  I think I will cut down on some of the textbooks and notes I have kept eventually, but Peter Walsh suggests thinning the easy stuff first.  I have also destroyed boxes of old files related to my thesis research.  I have the theses themselves and have not had a need to go back to all my old notes ever since I graduated, so I figured I did not need them.

A few weeks ago, I started listing things on eBay that I knew I did not want, but that may have a bit of value.  I decided not to overwhelm myself, but to try to put up 3-5 listings each Sunday.  Sunday is a good time for me to spend the afternoon listing things (it takes longer than expected even though the process is MUCH easier than it was 10 years ago when I first signed up for eBay) and is a recommended time to have auctions close, since more people have time to surf eBay on a Sunday afternoon.  Before I spend a lot of time and listing fees putting things up, I do a search for completed auctions on similar items to get an idea if it’s worth the time and energy to list my items.

Last week, my first auctions closed and I got bids on 2 of 3 listings for a total of $26.  This week I have 7 listings up and currently have bids on 2 items totally about $60, but I hope they go a bit higher before they close.  I have a few things up for auction that I would not have expected to have any value and are doing quite well.  That is always a nice surprise.    Yesterday one of the shades of our kitchen pendant lamps broke (cheap pieces of junk, it turns out), so we’ve decided to replace them with nicer ones that unfortunately are also more expensive, so I’m hoping for some good eBay outcomes to help pay for those.

This afternoon’s task will be to find 5 more things out in the garage to list on eBay and also go through a few more boxes.  Slowly but surely I am making progress.  Let me know how you are doing.

Best regards,


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If you are a regular reader, you know that I have set a goal to clear out the clutter in our garage enough to pull a car in before the first frost.  Progress has been slow, but we keep chipping at it.  Yesterday, though it was quite hot, I spent about an hour out there going through boxes and trying to consolidate – things I want to keep, things I want to sell, and things I need to get rid of one way or another (trash or charity or Freecycle.)

My main goal was to start collecting anything I thought might have some value on Ebay and start getting things listed.  In particular, I wanted to gather up all the Nancy Drew and other series books, which have been packed in many boxes and were scattered all over the garage, and get them into decent lots for Ebay.  I think I did find them all, but before I start in on the Nancy Drews, I thought I would experiment this week and list some of the lesser known series, so I put up three auctions and we’ll see how they do.

I also realized that there are still about 6 heavy boxes of college textbooks and notes out there – most of which are mine – I think my husband already dealt with his.  As Peter Walsh says, treat them with respect or get rid of them.  Since they haven’t come out of their boxes in the 14 years I’ve lived here, I need to get rid of them.  I have already dug out anything I thought would be helpful for teaching the classes I teach now at the university, so my next task is to go through those boxes and junk the notes and give away the books.  I don’t think our library likes donated textbooks, so they’ll probably go on Freecycle.

The piles are getting smaller and I feel like I have a plan, so that keeps me motivated to keep at it.  How are you doing with your garage cleanout?  My husband cleared a huge amount of junk off the basement shelves in the last couple weeks, so once we do decide what to keep, we may actually have a place for it!  Then again, I am trying to reclaim my office and it sure would be nice to get all the Christmas decorations out of the office closet so I would have more room to organize craft supplies….

Will keep you posted.  Next week – daily pantry tips.

Best regards,


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As we continued our decluttering and cleaning this summer, we noticed the old wooden play set in the backyard.     With two teens in the house, no one has been on it much in the last couple years and the path out to it is overgrown with weeds.    My husband and I discussed what to do with it.  Pull it down and throw it out?  But aside from some discoloration of the plastic swings and slide, it was still in OK shape.  I said that first I would try putting it on Freecycle.

So yesterday afternoon I posted an offer of a free wooden play set to anyone willing to come take it apart and haul it away.  I thought I would be lucky if I got one or two responses.  Within an hour of the moderator approving my post, I had 8 emails in my mailbox!

The nice thing about Freecycle is that it is up to the person with the item to decide if they want to give it away first come, first serve or pick someone randomly, or whatever.  I generally go with first come, first serve, but try to avoid people who will be “no shows” or decide they don’t want the item.  Once I post it, I’d like to get rid of it quickly.

So I read through all the emails and was struck by one lady who said she had been looking for a play set for her son for over a year and she said they could pick it up in the morning, so I offered it to her first.  She emailed back right away and said how thrilled she was.

As promised, she arrived this morning with her husband, her boy (adorable), and a trailer.  They had it pulled apart and loaded in about an hour and I could tell her little boy was just tickled to have it.  Her kids are about the same age mine were when we put up the play set many years ago, so that was kind of cool.  I even found the instruction booklet in my files and gave it to them, though her husband seemed pretty handy and probably didn’t need it.

So our play set is gone in less than 24 hours since I first posted to get rid of it and to a really nice family to boot.  Now I need to think about what to do with the enclosed, sand-filled bed out in our woods where the play set used to stand.  It’s just a tiny bit sad to see the thing go since it signals the end of an era, but I’d rather have my clean yard and have someone actually using the thing.

I highly recommend your local Freecycle group for anything you need to get rid of that might still be useful to someone but may not be suitable or easy to donate to Goodwill or another charity.   I have found new homes for a surprising number of things that otherwise would have just been thrown out.   I have even given away a dozen of the plastic buckets that cat litter comes in.  They are handy for a lot of things, but one family can only use so many!

Look around your house and see if you have anything to Freecycle.   Because you usually handle things by email, you can respond in your own time, rather than having the phone ring off the hook, as happened to us when we put a “free” ad in the newspaper.

Best regards,


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