Working on the garage

We are spending this afternoon working on the garage.  So far we have eliminated 53 items.  Barb was kicked out of the garage since she wasn’t helping much with her shoulder injury and was annoying John as he started on a new section.

4 license plates – not sure how to dispose of these.  Recycle bin??

1 old first aid kit

1 piece of wood

47 books

May 2017 Update

Can you believe May 2017 is over???  This month flew by!  We have some great memories of this month!  We also spent more than anticipated celebrating!!  That’s ok – it was money well spent!

Kiddo #2 graduated from Medical School!!  We are so proud of her accomplishment!   She and Barb drove across the country to move her new apartment (and official first full-time job) in sunny southern California!  They drove 3 days covering 2700 miles towing a 5×8 uhaul trailer with all her belongings.  Guess that would qualify as minimalist living – she will have more space in an one bedroom place now.  She felt having a “real” job means she doesn’t need to live in a studio any longer.  Look – they even gave her a “physician” parking permit!  How exciting!!

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Both kiddos are in the same time zone as us!!  We are so excited!!

During May we decluttered 30 items – not much but Barb was still recovering from her illnesses and we celebrated a graduation on the other side of the country.  Total so far this year – 687 items removed from our home!!  Now we are “cheating” a little on these numbers this month – kiddo #2 did take with her 8 items: 3 blankets, 1 “big-ass draft” beer stein from the local bar in her college town, 2 reusable water bottles, 1 dresser (so sad to see it leave, it was in the nursery before we even brought kiddo #1 home), and 1 end table.

Some other stuff to leave this month:

 

It’s beginning to feel like we are really getting close to finished.  It’s weird to look at the house and not see all that needs to leave.  We are feeling so relaxed in our house!  There are still “tons” of pictures in boxes in the closet.  Guess I know what I’m doing (maybe) when we return from vacation!

Things are just easier now.

Having been sick since April 13th, I haven’t done much/any housekeeping.  Sure the dishes were put in the dishwasher; laundry was done when we ran out of undies; and the sheets were washed multiple times because when you have a fever, you sweat like crazy.

Know what else??  The house is still tidy!  Sure, the carpet needs vacuuming and furniture could use dusting.  BUT the house generally looks fine.  The “old” house would have had stuff piling up everywhere.  This is the first time I’ve been sick since we removed 14,680 items from the house (since we began counting).  With less clutter, even being out of commission for 4 weeks, everything looks fine.

Other household chores like going through the mail is easier.  We have gone electronic for most things.  We now get very little physical mail and it is very easy to go through standing at the recycle box.  We also stopped all magazine subscriptions and newspaper delivery.  Today the only mail was a Mother’s Day card from kiddo #1.

Paying bills has been simplified – I have a list in the bill/paper box so I know what needs to be paid and the due dates.  I’m still hesitant to do automatic payment.  We have streamlined so much of this that it takes about an hour to get everything done.  It used to take all day – literally – to get every check written, address envelopes, put all the info into the budget book.  The other thing that weirdly helps is getting paid just once a month.  I get paid the last work day of the month, John gets paid the first work day of the month.  Bills get paid and we know exactly how much we have left for the month.

I’m so thankful we started thinking about simplifying our lives a few years ago and that decluttering and minimalism are aspects that are working for us.

 

April Update – April was tough!!

April was a rough month in our house this year.

We decluttered 5 items – I think this is the least amount ever!  Grand total this year is 657.  We have a ways to go to reach our 2017 goal of 2017.  We are enjoying the “freedom” of less in the house!

So here’s our month:
Barb had a stomach bug and missed 2 days of work (Thursday and Friday 4/13 and 4/14).

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Anyone who is a teacher knows that missing work unexpectedly is horrible.  The first day she text a coworker and she handled the sub plans.  Thank you Stefny!!

We got onto a plane Saturday to enjoy the holiday weekend with kiddo #1 in San Francisco area to fly home Sunday night with kiddo #2 in tow.  Kiddo #2 flew in on Friday – it was the first Easter with both kiddos in 5 years!  Such a blessing!

Monday night kiddo #1 called – mommy made her sick.

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Thursday Barb developed a cough and low grade fever.

We then went apartment hunting on Saturday for Kiddo #2 since she will be living about an hour away – horray!!

By Sunday it was a high fever and nasty cough.  Our Doctor-to-be (in 2 weeks!!) insisted she go to the doctor on Monday.  She even escorted Barb since she was so miserable.  Antibiotics and cough medicine prescribed.  Barb missed work again on Monday and Tuesday (4/24 and 4/25).   As of today, tiredness and coughing still happening.  Will this ever end?  This comic represents life when the cough medicine wears off about 3 am.

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Because Barb is on the district science committee, she misses a lot of school for meetings.  At least those are known in advance and you can plan ahead.  Illness is horrible for planning.  Teachers rarely take sick days because of true illness!

John and kiddo #2 picked up the slack for the 2 + weeks Barb was under the weather.  THANK YOU!!

So as you can see, decluttering was nearly nonexistent during April.  We did eliminate an old, ugly, holey t-shirt John insisted on still wearing.  Some things are such accomplishments they have to be mentioned!!

 

 

 

 

March Update

March saw us very busy on the weekends – so much so that we only decluttered 16 items this month.

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Long weekend #1
On a positive – we took a 4 day trip to the opposite coast to visit our kiddo.  One thing we realized is that we are getting too old to take the red-eye flights!  Work all day, drive to the airport, fly across the country to have breakfast with the kiddo wore us down!  Thursday was a great day though.  We visited Arlington National Cemetery – I know, of all the things to do in DC, we visit the cemetery.  It is one of our favorite things!  The Cherry Blossom Festival was non-existent due to the weather destroying the blossoms.

Friday we attended our daughter’s medical school “Match Day” ceremony.  She will be coming back to California for residency!!!  You can imagine how excited we are – she “left” us in 2007 to go to college on the east coast and basically hasn’t been back to live.  We are so proud of her!

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Her Shirt!!

The rest of the weekend was spent celebrating!!  We flew home Sunday to go to work Monday morning.

Long Weekend #2
Our second “excursion” this month was the the National Science Teacher Association conference in Los Angeles.  This was a Thursday through Sunday event as well.  2 long weekends away from home in one month.  We both got a few great ideas we can implement in our classrooms.  Always worth it!  We are both so tired and ready for a weekend at home, maybe decluttering the garage!

 

 

February Super Lean Month and Decluttering Update

February is our SUPER LEAN SPENDING MONTH.  We are changing the name from the more common Spend Nothing Month.  We know we will spend money on something!

So today is our first day since Barb got paid (on the last work day of the month) and John gets his check tomorrow (the first work day of the month).   We both get paid once a month.  It is actually easier once you get used to it – it could also be that we’ve been once a month for about 25 years.  You pay all the bills up front – no saving a certain amount for the mortgage, etc.  Then you know exactly how much you have to spend for the next 30ish days.  We are doing this for February since it only has 28 days this year – yes, we like to play mind games with ourselves!

Today (Jan 31, 2017) we spent $70.53  I know it doesn’t look like we are off to a great start in minimal spending.  This purchase included dryer sheets, dishwasher detergent, and ziploc bags for the freezer.  I know, plastic bags are bad.  We just find it so much easier to divide the stuff we need to freeze into the bags for later use.  We also purchased eggs, applesause (I make our own during time off, while we are working it gets bought!), yogurt, almond milk, beets, and a pork loin.  This should cover at least 2 dinners and several breakfasts.  We’ll see!  We are also planning to use up as much as possible from the pantry and freezer.  Food will still need to be purchased – we don’t have much extra stored anymore.

Decluttering update:  625 items left our house and garage in January!!  We have over 1/4 of our 2017 gone already!   It’s hard to not be excited!  Kiddo #2 removed 71 stuffed animals and the rest was from our disaster in the garage.  Hard to believe we have so many items that can still leave the house.

Let us know if you decide to try a Super Lean Month as well!  We know Life As I Interpret It will be joining us.  She also did a “sample” month for January.

 

Stuffed Animals

I know we love them but they take up so much room!  Each one has a special memory.  These are just as hard as other “important treasures”.

Kiddo #2 was home for the last 9 days.  While here, she went through 3 boxes of stuffed animals.  She sorted and debated for a couple of hours.  The pile was narrowed down and she is keeping 1 box – mostly Beanie Babies!  She just couldn’t bring herself to get rid of them!

Total number of stuffed animals going to a new home = 71

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Garage Part 2

504 items gone so far this year!!  We are 1/4 of the way to our 2017 goal!!

Yesterday John went through his box of stuff from his time living in Japan.  So many fun things in it!  He decluttered some of the stuff and ended with a smaller box.

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We counted 10 slides as one item.  I vaguely remember this pile being worth about 100 points.
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Everyone has these right??

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today we spent about 2 1/2 hours in the garage.  We finished the rafters section and removed a few unwanted items.  I’m not sure what John is doing in there at the moment but maybe decluttering his workbench???

On the very plus side, John can walk to his workbench without having to squeeze between the garage door and the air hockey table.  We are so excited!!!

We go back to work on Monday.  Our decluttering spree will be coming to a quick, screeching halt for a while.  This was a very productive week!!

Stuff for the hazardous waste center – taken today!

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More Christmas Lights and other Christmas Stuff

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10 more strings of lights
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13 strings of lights
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20 packages of replacement light bulbs

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Miscellaneous from the last Christmas box.
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bottom of the sleigh, no idea where the actual sleigh is!

 

Random stuff from the Garage – shoe rack, expresso maker, dirt devil, stair stepper, albums, bowling ball, umbrella, and poster never opened.

 

And the dry corsages and boutonnieres!!

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Garage Rafters – oh my!

Today, having nothing better to do on our last few days of vacation, we decided to put away all the Christmas decorations.  They go into the garage rafters.  While we had the ladder out, we pulled down every other box up there.  We decluttered 3 of the 7 boxes and a few other things!  Productive day in the garage!

Box 1:  Memorabilia – this was a hard one to do.  It took the afternoon to completely go through and do the shredding of stuff with our name/address.

Barb’s report cards K-12, 7 deflated balloons, 45 greeting cards, 3 postcards,  1 scrapbook, 3 books for places we visited, and a lot of comics and receipts for places we went while dating!


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Box 2: Empty Boxes!

Kiddo #2 got this RC car while in elementary school.  She is about to graduate medical school in a few months!  The car is gone – now its box is too!

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Box 3: Old Camping Stuff

1 BBQ grate, 4 plates, 4 mugs, 1 thermos, 1 first aid box, plastic and stainless silverware, 4 bottles, 1 box of dog flea collars, and 1 package of toilet seat covers (some of us have issues sitting on public toilets without them!)

 

Other Stuff:

1 reptile cage (the chameleon died about 15 years ago), 2 fishbowls, 1 Therm-a-jug, 1 under-carriage piece for the car, and 1 candle-lit school house.

 

More Stuff Decluttered and we’re counting it too!

So far this year:

  • 10 more magazines!!
  • 1 magazine holders
  • 3 DVD’s  – duplicates, go figure!
  • 2 packages of beef jerky seasoning (sorry, no picture)
  • 1 weight watchers booklet from 1991
  • 1 cracked plastic ruler
  • 39 rubber stamps
  • 9 packages of modeling clay
  • 1 rotten candy apple found in the work bag (no picture – no one needs to see this!)

 

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10 more magazines!!
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another magazine holder

 

 

 

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The thermals and magazine holder are included in this picture for donation purposes. They were actually decluttered in 2016.  Try not to judge on our choice of movies hahaha

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When was the last time anyone in our house stamped??  YEARS AGO!!
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Kiddo #2 knows she used this in 7th grade 15 years ago!!  It’s still pliable!

 

 

 

 

December 2016 Update

We woke this morning needing to remove 39 items from our home to reach our goal of 2016 items gone in 2016.  So what did we do??  We decided to go through the magazine holders that have been stacked in the kitchen and removed 37 magazines, 1 magazine holder, and 1 pair of thermal undies – I know the undies seem odd in the dead of winter.  They have been in the drawer for years and not worn.

Can you tell we subscribed to this magazine for years?  Some were from 2007!   John and kiddo #2 have Celiac Disease, diagnosis was in 2003.  It was a challenge at the beginning with limited resources available so we subscribed to many magazines over the years.  We went through these looking for any special recipes that we just had to keep.  15 recipes made the cut.  Most can probably be found online now.  The amount of information on the web is mind-boggling!

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With the removal of these magazines, WE REACHED OUR GOAL OF 2016 IN 2016!!

Here is a breakdown of the numbers for the year:

  • January = 603 items
  • February = 121 items
  • March = 100 items
  • April = 172 items
  • May = 103 items
  • June and July = 39 items
  • August = 19 items
  • September = 147 items
  • October = 30 items
  • November = 424 items
  • December 258 items

Our beautiful chart!

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More Free Time!

We are like everyone else – change happens whether you want it or not.  Some changes, while unexpected, have positive outcomes.  Others, while strived for, have negative outcomes.  Most of us have negative feelings about change.  When we started decluttering the stuff, we really didn’t expect to see any changes in our lives.

We’ve had some changes in our lives directly and indirectly related to decluttering the stuff.

One change/event that really changed our outlook was having the house flood.  We were already decluttering and really on a roll when that happened in May 2015.  It forced us to go through our belongings much sooner than we would have otherwise.  We lived in a 565 sq ft hotel room for 3.5 months.  This gave us a look at what really is needed on a daily basis.  Did we rid our lives of everything?  No, but it gave decluttering a new look.

Another change/event was the passing of John’s Dad.  It occurred at the time we were living in the hotel.  It was nice having no household responsibilities for the 2 really crazy weeks and the 2 months after.  Death seems to reinforce how important family is – what you do with this new realization varies from person to person.

Relating to family, our eldest daughter got married 10 days after Grandpa passed.  Grandma was adamant that things proceed as planned.  Grandpa would have wanted that.  We gained a son-on-law who is awesome!  He brings out the best in our baby!  They then moved 300+ miles away for jobs.  It has been hard having her so far away.  We were used to quick trips for a meal.  For the previous 10 years, she was only about an hour away (assuming there was no traffic!)  This change makes our visits with her all the more special.

The above family changes resulted in our youngest daughter wanting to move back to the area.   She is currently interviewing for her first job – Doctor!!  Medical residency programs require day-long interviews and she has “moved” in (temporarily) to interview in the area.  It has been a blessing having her around for the last 6 weeks.  She is typically traveling during the week and here on the weekends.   It will be a sad day when she leaves to go back to her home 3,000 miles away.  Hopefully she gets the job placement she wants, regardless of its location.

The decluttering has made so many other aspects of our lives easier.  We no longer have to wear protective gear when we open cabinets or closet.  Things don’t fall!  Everything has a place so putting things away has been easier.  There is less stuff around the house so Saturday cleanings (which used to take all day/weekend) now take about an hour (excluding the laundry time).

We put in a high volume exhaust fan in the master bathroom, splurging on the humidity sensing switch, and now the monthly mold removal process is eliminated!  Since so much of the drywall had to be removed because of the flood, we replaced all the old drywall.  We used mold resistant paint too.  The shower stall, which was replaced, now completely dries!  Towels dry!  They can be used more than once!  Life is good!

We have recently examined how often we could wear clothing between washes.  We both agreed that shirts can rarely make it to day 2 but our pants can go more than one day.  This has decreased the amount of laundry we are doing.

This extra time gives us both time to do other stuff – like remove the weeds hahaha  But seriously, because of the water restrictions, yard maintenance has decreased.  The lawn doesn’t need to be mowed every week.  The back yard lawn is gone – primarily because of watering restrictions.  Less time spent doing these things opens up time for other stuff!

I guess the biggest change in the amount of free time we have.  We don’t worry about doing something on the weekend since the “chores” take so much less time.  They can even be done during the week!

What changes have you noticed since you began decluttering the stuff??  Have you noticed you have more free time for the stuff you want to do??

 

It Brings Him Joy!

We were decluttering some of the Christmas stuff yesterday.  Barb decluttered these Santa salt and pepper shakers.  When John saw them in the donation box, he made a sad face and exclaimed “These bring me joy!  They stay!”

After he said this, we all had a good laugh – he does occasionally listen to Barb!  Kiddo #2 had a friend say a similar thing to her recently.  Guess it’s the season for Joy!!

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October 2016 monthly update

This month has been a busy one for us, but not in the decluttering department!

We decluttered 30 items this month and our yearly total is now 1334.

To reach our goal of 2016 items in 2016 we need to remove 682 items in 2 months!  That amounts to an average of 11 items per day.  WE CAN DO THAT (I think).

Guess we really need to work on the garage.  The weather is finally cooling off so we can’t use that as an excuse.

Just when you think you are done . . .

Just when you think you are done decluttering, you open the entry closet and see a box on the shelf.

It had a pair of drumsticks, ink pad refill ink (8 different colors), foam sheet for kids art projects, piano lesson books, 2 opened skeins of yarn, 1 cedar block (not one package, just one 2 x 2 block), one Christmas stamp, 5 embossing powders, and 2 ink pens!

Drumsticks and foam sheets to Barb’s work, yarn to John’s work, piano books put with the keyboard, Christmas stamp with all the remaining stamps (granted, I’ve not stamped in about 10 years but that is another post!), 2 of the ink pad refills to John’s work, the other 6 ink pad refills donated along with the embossing powders – never even opened 😦

Cleaned the cedar block and put it back on the shelf – maybe it will keep something away.

Both of the ink pens didn’t work – anyone surprised?!?!?

Total number of items leaving the house – 20!!!

Here’s the shelf today – please don’t ask about the 5 umbrellas!!

The green bag has the reusable grocery bags.  The blue bag is our cemetery bag.

And please notice – YOU CAN SEE THE FLOOR!!

 

Declutter the Purse

This post was inspired by Allison at How to get things done in 10 ways.  Thank you Allison!

Here’s my “before” picture.  It doesn’t look so bad.

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Here’s my “everything out”.  It looks like a few receipts, a child’s birthday invite (party was over a week ago), a package of face moisturizer, a pop tab, a few pens, and a few packages of stevia are “excess”.

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Here’s my “decluttered” pile.  5 receipts, 1 birthday invite, 2 regal club cards get recycled.  Pop tab goes into the pop tab container, stevia back into the kitchen, moisturizer got used, and a 4 pens are removed.  Actually “decluttered” is the eyeglass cleaner.

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Trying to declutter a TV

This is one topic that causes “heated” discussions in our home.  Barb would love to remove a TV (or 2 or 3) from the home.  John is against it – period.

Now to be fair, the TV we have in our bedroom is not connected to the cable system.  It is primarily used in the RV during the summer.  It spends the rest of the year in our bedroom to decrease the odds of the RV being broken in to.

Kiddo #1 (who has been married for 15 months now) “sacrificed” her room as the guest/extra stuff room.  We were “lucky” that the Great Flood of 2015 happened about a month before her wedding.  John really wanted a place to watch TV if both girls were home for an extended period without having to listen to us!

Last week we changed our cable provider and he had them add a cable box to this room.  I guess it is considered a win since our bedroom does NOT have a cable box any longer.

 

 

September 2016 Decluttering Update

We can’t believe another month has passed!  September was a unique month for us.  We took a bereavement trip to help John’s Mom decide was to do with property in Hawaii.  (Yeah, tough life – a week-long trip to Hawaii.  If any of you are teachers, you know that a week out of your classroom is tough!)  It did involve several meetings over 2 days.  Kiddo #2 was able to join us – it was nice spending time with her!

Our week-long trip cost us wayyy more than we expected.  We actually dipped into savings – I know, it’s something we shouldn’t have done!  We also realized that we could travel the country for about 4 weeks during the summer for the same amount we spent for the one week, not including air fare or hotel.  It was a little sobering!

Now to the decluttering – since we had the trip, we cut short our 21-day decluttering challenge to 14 (sort of 16) days.  This allowed 147 items to leave our house!!

So far this year:  1304 items gone!  We have a ways to go to hit 2016.

We are hoping to declutter the Christmas stuff in the garage soon.  Better to get that stuff donated before the holiday!  We tend to wait until the last couple of days before we break out the decorations.

Happy October!!

 

Last Day of the Current Decluttering Challenge.

I wish to thank Anne at MinimalistSometimes.com for this challenge.  I modified this from 21 days to 14 days, did 2 extra counting of items to make up for 2 of the missing days, started counting from the highest number of items at the beginning of the challenge down to 1 item on the last day.

Today is the last day of the challenge.  We might do those extra 5 days when we return from our trip next week.  So the last item is from John’s travel stuff.  He was packing his bag and found this empty container of travel sized shaving cream.  He might replace it when we get to our destination, but I’m counting it!

Total items gone with this 2 week challenge = 146!!  Feeling very accomplished!!!

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Decluttering the Car

My car is pretty clean on the inside.  John’s car – well that’s a different story!  Here are the things for today that I decluttered from my car.  John will do his when we return from our trip.  I think he will have a few more items than this!

  • Old AAA LA Freeway map dated July 2001.  When was the last time we used an actual map??
  • a master lock with an unknown combination.  Wonder how long that was in the glovebox??  Who does it belong to??
  • random wrappers and 1 business card

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3 + 5 = 8

Here’s today’s 3 items plus the 5 from the house I missed a couple of days ago.  I know I decluttered something from my work desk, but it seems like “cheating”.

Isn’t it weird how our brains work on something like this???  We have completely changed up the rules for this decluttering challenge initiated by Anne at MinimalistSometimes and yet I feel I should have the items leave the house.  I suppose they could have even come from the car.

Who’s up for a declutter the car event??  That’s what I’m doing tomorrow!!

So the 8 items for today are an external USB DVD player, 2 software cds, a user’s manual, 2 sound cords for the computer speakers, an ethernet cable, and a printer cable.  These were in a box under John’s desk.  I have no idea why we kept them after the flood but I know we haven’t used or needed them in the last year.  Out they go!!

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Nothing

Nothing left our house today except kiddo #2. She has her step 2 exam in the morning (she’s almost done with medical school!)

We wanted to maximize our dinner enjoyment with her before she drove off in our car.  Her exam is only given in a few places in the country and she figured since she had to travel, she might as well visit us at the same time. 

We’ll make up for missing our 5 item day soon!

New SofaSleeper means more Decluttering!

We finally purchased a new sofa sleeper for the room previously occupied by Kiddo #1.  It’s been a year since her wedding and a year since we moved back into the house after the Great Flood of 2015.  We are pretty confident that she will not be returning to live with us.  She and her husband have great jobs in the Bay Area.  So sad for us!  Great for them!

Ikea is awesome!  Not a paid endorsement!  This sofa sleeper is different than any we’ve seen.  It is deeper than a traditional sofa which we like since we all tend to sit with our feet up on the sofa under us.  The sleeper part is that the front bottom part pulls out and the cushion flips open.  The 2 sofa sectionals together makes a queen sized bed!  Kiddo #2 went with us and sampled each of the sofas and sofa sleepers.

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So to put the sofa into the extra bedroom, we got to declutter some more stuff!!

26 items less in our home!!

So our “official” 6 items for the day are 3 jars of jelly that are looking weird, a salad dressing mixing container, an unopened expired box of pain reliever, and a jar of soy lecithin mixed with citric acid that John mixed about 10 years ago when he was on a bread making kick.

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To make up for the week we are going to miss, here are the 20 items: 2 lamps, 2 light bulbs, 4 hangers, 1 set of kidney stone x-rays, unopened package of pads, 1 down jacket, 1 pair of shoes, another camera case, 2 sweatshirts, 1 tshirt, 1 sleep pants, 2 compression stockings, 1 wallet.

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Thank you Anne at MinimalistSometimes for suggesting a challenge for the month of September!!

Kiddo #2 helps with Decluttering the Stuff!

So here we are – a Saturday decluttering spree!  Kiddo #2 flew in last night and this afternoon went through a small section of her former closet!  7 more items gone!!  On top of these 7 items, 21 extra hangers are leaving the house!  Guess I’ll start working on the week I’ll be missing in reverse this week along with the scheduled days.

3 dresses, 3 shirts, 1 deflated exercise ball and the 21 hangers!

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1 deflated exercise ball, 3 dresses, 3 shirts
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21 extra hangers
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Thank you MinimalistSometimes.com fo the challenge!

 

8 more items gone!

It’s amazing what you can find in 15 minutes to get rid of.

John found 2 magazines on his dresser last night.  He was also willing to part with his ground coffee container.  He just puts it back into the bag he brought the beans home in now. Barb found 3 old school related books on the shelf.  These books were 3 textbook adoptions ago and are copyrighted 1993 before she started working at that school.  An old camera case with no camera but an ink pen inside. And the pen that wouldn’t work when we went to add the camera case to the donation list.

Very productive 15 minutes!

I would like to add that doing a reverse count down on the days has been so much easier.  When I’ve done this type of challenge before, by the end of the month I’ve removed so much more than the required items I scramble to find items.  So glad I tried it this way.  Thank you Anne at Minimalist Sometimes for the challenge!

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And why does it keep rotating the picture???

Folder Anyone?

Why do we have 11 of these report covers in the desk?  Oh yeah, we had kids who had to do reports and we made them reuse them.  Since the kiddos are now 27 and 29, one in her last year of medical school, the other done with her PhD, I don’t think they will need the parentals to get them a report cover!

And a broken stapler.  12 more items gone!  Thank you Anne for the challenge!  (See the challenge post here at Minimalist Sometimes)

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August 2016 Decluttering Update

We have had a slow decluttering month.  Both of us went back to work after 9 weeks of time off.  We really hate to refer to it as “vacation” time since it is unpaid.  Most people assume when you say vacation it means paid time off.

Barb is learning a new Digital Learning System and that is taking all of her extra time.  John sponsors an after school engineering club and is having 20-30 students staying multiple days a week to work on projects.  We are both glad our students are engaged but it takes a toll on our free time at the beginning of a new school year.

Back to decluttering – August saw us remove on 19 items from the house. So far in 2016:

Our Annual Grand Total = 1157 items.  We are sure hopeful that we hit 2016 in 2016!

Happy Decluttering Everyone!

 

Joining a New Declutter Challenge

We are joining Anne at Minimalist Sometimes in her 21 day challenge – Decluttering this Time.

We are only going to do 14 days since we have a trip scheduled and will be gone for days 15-21.  We are also doing the count from 14 items the first day to 1 item on the 14th day since that will be the day before we leave.  We are also starting today while she is starting on Monday!  Let the decluttering begin!!

A unique find in Barb’s desk:  a word search puzzle book dated August 1998.  I guess if it hasn’t been used in 18 years, it can leave the desk!

Here are the first 14 items.

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puzzle books never used – super word-find publish date is August 1998.  Sudoku is April 2008.
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4 cup coffee pot that was in the RV.
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How many mesh travel laundry bags do we really need??

 

 

Decluttering the Weeds Event!

This weekend is the Declutter The Weeds Event!  All are welcome! haha

The compost bin will be getting an addition!

Having been gone for 7 weeks and having the sprinkler system malfunction during that time has resulted in a yard (well, 1/2 a yard) of large weeds.  One half has a large amount of large ones, the other 1/2 has just deadness until the trees.

John is planning to fix the sprinklers this weekend – we get to water 2 times a week here.  Guess we get to “remodel” the backyard.  We’ve always wanted to add a fire pit.

 

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So here’s the east side of the patio.  Keep in mind, the brick wall is 5 feet tall.  One of the fruit trees (apple) didn’t survive the lack of water.

 

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And here’s the west side of the patio.  No weeds, but plenty of deadness!  Even the plants at the base of the embankment didn’t survive.

June and July Update

June and July flew by!  In preparing for our trip, traveling, and getting things put away upon our return, we decluttered 38 items in these 2 months.  It doesn’t seem like much, but having decluttered so much last year, things are starting to slow down in decluttering the inside of house.  Now we really need to focus more energy on the garage.  Boy, we can’t wait!  (do you sense the sarcasm there?!?)

Yearly total:  1138 items removed!

Our daughter gave us a new suitcase set (to “pay” us for providing her cell phone) and we removed 3 suitcases.  We counted this as only 1 item removed since they were replacements.

Sure hope we can reach our goal of 2016 items removed!!

 

It’s Nice to be Home!

We are home!  It was so nice unpacking the RV this year.  Everything was put away within one day – including all the laundry.  Having less stuff around the house sure did make it easier!  We packed just the amount of clothing we needed.  This year we made a concerted effort to minimize the amount we packed.  We even minimized the extra food items since our cupboards run closer to bare these days.

Only 11 items officially left the RV.  In the couple of days we’ve been home, we’ve removed about a dozen items.  The donation box is filling up and needs to be counted!  Of all the kitchen cupboards to get into, John delved into the one we haven’t decluttered this morning.  He was getting out a sheet to make biscuits and ran across these heat vacuum sealing films.  We decluttered the machine a while ago!

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John goes back to work tomorrow and Barb leaves today for a conference.  So sad to be returning to “normal”.

Here’s a map of our travels this year.  Not sure how many miles we traveled but the 7 weeks flew by.

Just can’t get rid of it!

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Do you see that silver “key” pointing to the left in the picture above??  It was on the key ring when we purchased our motorhome 10 years ago.  We asked the dealer what it went to.  His response “I don’t know.  You’ll eventually figure it out.”  So we’ve kept this stupid thing on the key ring for 10 years!

Yesterday, we had a discussion about removing it – yes a full out discussion!  John said he just can’t do it.  Why??  We might eventually figure out what it opens.  Now Barb is of the mindset that we haven’t figured it out in 10 years, the likelihood of figuring it out is ZERO!

So here it is – still on the key ring!

Anyone else have something like this that really should be decluttered but just can’t do it?

RV decluttering too! update 1

How many of you keep old car registration papers in the glove box for years??  If you do, you are not alone!  One driving day, the glove box was tackled!  5 years worth of registration and insurance papers (not including the current ones sitting at home on the desk). Sure hope we don’t need them!

On another evening, we looked through the tow car glove box. Not as bad – only one extra!

And then there are these 6 plastic baskets we found in the cupboard. WHY did we buy them??  We’ve never used them in the 10 years we’ve had this RV.

May 2016 Update

We have had 1099 random items leave our home this year, 103 during the month of May.  It amazes us that we are able to find more things to declutter!

We will be traveling for the next 7 weeks.  While we are gone, we will be decluttering the RV and adding it to our annual count.  We figure if the garage can be decluttered, our home away from home can be too!  It will be interesting to see what kind of stuff we have hidden away in the RV and don’t use/need.

Happy Summer everyone!!

 

Decluttering the First Aid kit

Thankfully, we rarely have to use the first aid kit.  This morning it was staring at us, just as it has been for the last 25 years!  It normally sits outside the master bath in the corner, easily accessible and every one knows where it is.

Here is one of many items that I think is well beyond use!

Go declutter and update that first aid kit!!

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April Decluttering Update

We did a financial review this weekend and are very pleased with the results.  Read about it here.

Now onto decluttering the stuff update!

We removed 172 items this month giving us a grand total of 996 items to leave our home!  12 items short of half our goal of 2016.  

Kiddo #2 was home for spring break and was able to remove 2 boxes from her FREE storage facility (aka the bedroom closet).  That was about half of the 172 items!  Way to go Kiddo!  We found a box in the garage with Kiddo #1 undergraduate college notes – since she is finished with grad school, we felt it was safe to discard them.

We are debating whether items removed from the RV as we prepare for our summer adventure should count.  What do you think??  While we are traveling, should we streamline the things we have in the RV and count those as well?

We made one donation trip.  Total this year so far is 5.  IRS won’t be questioning our donations this year!  (Hopefully they don’t question 2015 donations either!)

Overall, a great month.  Some decluttering took place and we enjoyed having kiddo #2 home.  Now onto May!

 

 

Decluttering one email Account

I made a realization – you can turn off the notifications for WordPress!  I was receiving an email every time someone we follow posted or commented.  It was driving me crazy!  This specific email is only associated with this WordPress account.  I had to check it each day due to the volume.  This account has been averaging about 150 emails a day.

How easy was it to stop the emails??  Just go to manage the followed sites, click the > to the left of each site, and move the notification button to OFF.

Life just got a little less crazy in our household!!

 

March 2016 Update

March has been a slow decluttering the stuff month for us.  You would think with both of us having a full week off more would have been cleared!  Too bad we weren’t off at the same time.  We both enjoyed our spring break with plenty of relaxation!

We removed exactly 100 items from the house.  We made one donation trip to Goodwill this month as well.

Our grand totals in 2016 are:

  • 824 items gone
  • 5 donation trips

Here is a pic of the bedroom – finally feeling decluttered!  Closet doors might be put back up this weekend!!  The bottom track arrived this week.  Amazing how difficult it is ordering for a 16 foot closet.

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February Update

February has been a slow decluttering the stuff month for us.

We removed 121 items from the house – mostly from kitchen cupboards.  We made one donation trip to Goodwill this month as well.

Our grand totals are:

  • 724 items gone
  • 4 donation trip

This cupboard pictured below was cleaned out again.  The empty spot on the middle shelf holds a mixing bowl.  We also placed 6 place settings of our china and crystal goblets in this cupboard instead of boxed in the hall closet.  Now they can be used!!

Kiddo #2 needs to be asked if we can get rid of her color-changing oatmeal bowl – she ate and saved instant packets to “buy” it and I just can’t seem to remove it yet.  John thinks that after living away from here for the last 8 years gives us the “right” to eliminate it – yet she ate oatmeal out of it (not instant anymore) when she was home at Christmas.

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Here is the “mystery” item of the month – iodine.  Why did we have a small bottle of iodine (which expired in 2001) mixed in with these really old extracts??  We extracted the extracts from a cupboard as well.  John knows the chocolate extract has been with us since 1989 – he used it to make chocolate liqueur soon after kiddo#2 was born.  Good buy extracts!

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We have completed our taxes for 2015.  Donations last year gave us a tax credit of over $18,000!  Here’s a pic before I finished entering all our donations.  Our big fear is that we will be audited!

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January Challenge Update #4

So this month’s challenge was . . . challenging!  Not only keeping track of the number of items each day, but documenting with pictures was more effort than we thought.  We had the counting down – both of us counting “trash” and “recycling” stuff as we worked, donation stuff in a box to be tallied when the tax list was prepared.  Easy system for us!

Then we added the number of items to equal the date challenge.   This aspect was strange for us.  We were used to just working until we felt finished for the day.  Trying to maintain the daily removal, especially as the month’s end was looming, was more difficult than we ever expected.  Stopping at a specific number each day took more restraint than we are used to!  

The positive is how easy decluttering the stuff can be if you take it one day at a time – each day has a specific goal whether it is a number, location, type of items, etc.  Just set a goal!

Barb had “fun” playing with a new app to make a collage of the pictures – each day being put into a single collage.  It was more effort than she is willing to continue!  Our numbers updates may occasionally include pictures in the future but we are done with the pics of everything leaving the house and which items should “count”.

January did see 601 items leave the house.  It also saw the addition of a new high efficiency washing machine – more on that soon.

 

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January Challenge update #3

So here we are – January 23!  We have been decluttering fools!  We find it hard to believe we are still finding stuff to declutter.

Grand total so far in 2016 – 563 items!

Here are the pictures for the items decluttered for the Decluttering Challenge to remove the number of items corresponding to the date.

The tile for day 16 doesn’t exist in the house any longer – why keep it??  We are also finally to the point we can clear out the excess from the garage after the Great Flood of 2015.  Boxes that weren’t picked up by others are being cut to be recycled.

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days 16 and 18: Misc from garage.  Try not to judge!  We should do a before/after pic!  day 17: stuff from around the house.  day 19:  John cleaned his desktop!

 

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day 20: Liqueur John made in 1989!  days 21 and 22: flatware mostly from the RV.  How many people were we thinking would stay in RV with us???  day 23: 23 cd’s from kiddo #2 bedroom.

January Challenge Update #2

One January challenge is to rid our home/garage of items each day equal to the date.  So far we have kept it up!  Barb loves the Phototastic Collage App for Windows 10!  Can you guess Barb’s favorite color??

Total Items removed so far:  419 of our goal – 2016 items in 2016!

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Day 8:  old washcloth, backpack and the trash found in it   Day 9: Curtains and polygrip for the crown that fell off   Day 10:  4 hangers, boot box, 5 burned cd’s    Day 11:  6 tights, 4 watch batteries, sunglass case
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Day 12:  2 purses, 2 directions on using fondant, 2 craft kits, 6 unworn undies   Day 13:  13 whiteboard markers taken back to work   Day 14: 14 random things from the desk   Day 15: 15 undies worn only once and not liked

Decluttering Challenges for 2016

We are participating in 2 different challenges this year:

  1. Remove 2016 items during 2016
  2. For January, remove the number of items which corresponds to the date (e.g. Jan 14 will be 14 items) found at Embracing Homemaking

We are pretty confident we can reach 2016 items.  We are organizing and documenting the decluttered items for the January challenge set up at Embracing Homemaking.  Documenting the items is already “a challenge” and it is only day 7!  Here is some of the stuff we have decluttered.

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Day 1: Keep in mind kiddo #1 has her PhD and kiddo #2 is in 3rd year of medical school.  Day 2: Bags from when they both were in high school, one with tag 😦  Day 3: leggings.  Day 4: Jeans, hard to see pair 4 at bottom of pic.

 

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Day 5: Camisole type shirts.  Day 6: Fabric, pattern, etc and receipt dated 2008 for a dress never made.  Day 7: Uncomfortable bras.

Declutter Recap of 2015

So here we are – the end of 2015.  We have decluttered so much from our lives!  We are feeling lighter every day with our attitude changes toward stuff,  less commercialization in our daily lives, and simplicity/minimalism.

Some of the biggies:

  • 11,827 items were removed from our house/garage.  And to think, we thought the removal of 2015 would be difficult!  Our modified goal of 10,000 was reached (thanks in part to our house flooding) and surpassed.
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    Our 6 counting sheets for the 2015 in 2015 Challenge.  We were tempted to go on a decluttering spree to fill the last page but decided against it tonight.  Party with friends won!
  • 44 donation trips – we averaged one every 8.3 days!  It has been so helpful having a donation box by the front door.  When it fills, out it goes.  We even had the Salvation Army do a pickup of large furniture items.  So easy to do!
  • We are afraid with the number of donations that the IRS will audit us!  Thankfully we took pictures of every item donated!
  • Documenting the number of items, while difficult, was really eye-opening.  Who knew that we had over 400 unworking pens in the pen drawer??  I guess if you have a pen drawer, that should say something!
  • Our closets and drawers open and close without fear of something falling on you!
  • We decided to purchase just one item for each other for Christmas and stick to a $250 budget per person – this was a new concept for us.  John asked for a fitbit surge (and it is a small item to have enter the house!)  Barb asked for a kindle voyage.  She has figured out how to borrow e-books from the library and it is small.  Win Win!  Now to finish going through the boxes of books in the garage!

We have decided to continue the challenge for 2016.  As of today, we aren’t sure we will count for the entire year, but who knows.  We were really surprised at the number of items in 2015.

Thank you Nourishing Minimalism for the push we needed to make this happen!

2015 in 2015 Update #8

It has been a crazy month for us.  The master bath shower is done being tiled and grouted.  Walls have been painted.  Waiting for the shower doors to arrive!

Our decluttering project has been increased this month!  Kiddo #1 came home and cleared a few boxes!  We also cleared out a filing cabinet – 4 overstuffed drawers down to 2 usable drawers.  This took an entire weekend sifting through each piece of paper.  Goal is to remove the filing cabinet! Continue reading

2015 in 2015 Update #7

Decluttering the stuff has slowed down this past month.  Our focus has been on finishing the master bath shower.  We’ve had delays in getting the contractor to do their part on the shower floor.  Now that we are both working again, time seems to be our biggest hurdle to getting the house back to normal.  There are only a few boxes left in the garage.

We have noticed that our time after work during the week is less stressful.  Having less stuff makes picking up so much easier!  If only we had recognized this when we had small children living here!

So now for the numbers!

House = 5780

Garage = 2500.

Barbie’s, etc =  2301  (See this post for details)

GRAND TOTAL = 10,581 with 38 trips to Goodwill.  1 trip in September!

Items removed this month = 71 !!

New Goal – 12,000 by the end of the year.  The garage is our next focus area!  Barb still has boxes of books to go through!

2015 in 2015 update #6 – We made it to 10,000!

So here we are – another month of decluttering the stuff completed!

We’ve been moved back into the house now for a month.  Most of the boxes are empty or stored for the kiddos to go through or pick up.  I’m assuming some of it will be here for a while.  Good thing we have an extra closet!

In unpacking all of our belongs, we decluttered some more stuff – 516 items to be exact!  We have basically gone through everything in the house and are feeling pretty good about how it is turning out.  Now the garage is a different story!  There are many items (mostly furniture, storage containers that are empty, and master bath stuff) we didn’t put back into the house and now we really need to make a decision about that stuff.  Good thing we have a 3 day weekend coming up!

So here are the numbers – Continue reading

Blast from the Past

We’ve been decluttering fools this week!  238 items gone and basically all our boxes unpacked (kiddos still have some to go through but that will take time).


As Barb walked into the kitchen this morning she saw something bright on the floor. Drawn to bright things, she had to investigate – even if to just pick it up and throw it away.

Now some of you will recognize the company name.  How many of you remember T G & Y?  How many of you remember the old pre-computer cash registers?  Who remembers having to make change – not the register telling you how much to give the customer?  Who remembers putting these kind of stickers on every item before it was sold?   The memories of our first “real” job!

Barb worked for them from 1977 – 1982. She was making $2.20 per hour when she started. Ended making $4.90 per hour.  She never shopped there after leaving since all stores in our area were closed.

John’s first “real” job was with the county.  He worked every Saturday for “a real paycheck” washing and gassing county vehicles.  Back then, it was cheaper to hire high school kids than to use an automated car wash.

This sticker has been floating around our stuff for over 33 years!  It has survived our getting married and moving into 3 different places.  It survived our flood.  It survived a house with children, dogs, and a cat.   What did it fall off of?  How did it end up on the kitchen floor?

This little sticker is a survivor!  If it can make it intact, so can we!

Decluttering the kiddo’s stuff

Kiddo history  We have 2 adult kiddos (28 and 26). They both went away to college, leaving home in 2005 and 2007 respectively. Their bedrooms have remained as they left them until recently (thank you “Great Flood”). We are now trying to reorganize their rooms into a guest room and den/office area.

Kiddo 1 recently married.  We are assuming she will not being moving back in.  Most of her belongings are gone but the sentimental stuff was boxed up and left here.

Kiddo 2 moved home for a year after college to prep for med school and is now back on the opposite coast – in med school! She left mostly sentimental stuff here and not packed up.

Unpacking after the “Great Flood”  As we are unpacking the boxes, each box must be opened. The packers were not really detailed about contents and frequently marked the boxes for different rooms. Very frustrating to say the least!

Kiddo 2 called today while Barb was looking into a box from her bedroom.  A few items were discussed and kiddo 2 made a great suggestion:  why don’t we set a certain amount of time and FaceTime so I can quickly let you know if it is a keeper or a goner?”   We knew she was smart!

So we promptly switched to FaceTime, set a 10 minute limit, and decluttered 4 pairs of shoes, 3 formal dresses from high school, and about 20 knick knacks together!  She might be almost 3000 miles away, but we still were able to get her to declutter her stuff!

  

  

2015 in 2015 Update #5

We can’t believe how much stuff we have decluttered!  After the “Great Flood”, we have been unpacking and decluttering along the way during July.  Our stuff was delivered July 14 and we staying the night for the first time July 30.  We had to wait for a bathroom to be functional.  Things are not quite back to normal but they are coming along.

Here are the numbers so far for 2015:

House = 5269

Garage = 2424

Barbie’s, etc =  2301  (See this post for details)

GRAND TOTAL = 9994 with 32 trips to Goodwill.  9 of these trips were this recent month!

Items removed this month = 1632 !!

WE WILL MAKE IT TO 10,000 ITEMS REMOVED FROM THE HOUSE!!  Who knew that we would actually declutter this much stuff when we started in January.  We were tempted to go around and find 6 items but we are too tired tonight.

We didn’t eliminate any stuff from the garage this month.  It is still full of boxes/belongings/furniture that used to be in the house.  The Barbie category didn’t change either.  The toys left are in the rafters of the garage and can wait until we have more of the house completed.

While we are unpacking, we keep thinking how much more work it would have been with 8362 more items.  The approximate 1000 books alone gave us a backache!

2015 in 2015 Update #3

So here we are – June already!  Last month was crazy with our unplanned packing party.  We were so focused trying to “survive” our flood that little was actually removed.  Thankfully, we had very little on the floors – mostly furniture damage (to the tune of $6927 for restoration)  The garage floor was decluttered greatly so we had very little damage in the garage.

So we have been decluttering our stuff for 5 complete months.  The most recent numbers as of June 5, 2015:

House = 3533

Garage = 2335

TOTAL = 5868  with 22 trips to Goodwill

Barbie, Toys, etc = 2301  (see previous update for explanation)

GRAND TOTAL = 8169  

619 items removed in May!

On a side note:  Barb removed 1066 items from her classroom since Jan. 1  Maybe more will be removed when we return in August.

Continue reading

Unplanned Packing Party Update

So we have finished packing the entire house. They took the rest of it last night. We will be living in a hotel for at least 2 months.

It was really hard to decide which items to take with us. We usually go in the RV for June and July. Why does this seem so difficult while those 2 months seem stress free?  We think it has to do with the unplanned aspect of this.

We need to do some shopping too. We have made considerable progress not shopping for anything but “necessities”. Putting the house back in order is a necessity, but we have to decide everything “yesterday”.

Some of the things we have to decide: paint colors, type of molding/trim, carpet, door jam stuff, doors, and bathroom vanities.  We’re feeling stressed about going to the various stores to look at samples.

We also haven’t received a dollar amount from the insurance company. Our adjuster said he would have it by next week. How can we possibly tell the contractor what to buy when the budget hadn’t been developed?

Pics of our disaster so far:  The drywall didn’t need to be removed as high as we thought!


  

Decluttering the taxes!

Now that our 2015 taxes are completed and submitted, we decided to look into how long you really need to keep tax records.  According to the United States IRS web site:

“Period of Limitations that apply to income tax returns

  1. Keep records for 3 years if situations (4), (5), and (6) below do not apply to you.
  2. Keep records for 3 years from the date you filed your original return or 2 years from the date you paid the tax, whichever is later, if you file a claim for credit or refund after you file your return.
  3. Keep records for 7 years if you file a claim for a loss from worthless securities or bad debt deduction.
  4. Keep records for 6 years if you do not report income that you should report, and it is more than 25% of the gross income shown on your return.
  5. Keep records indefinitely if you do not file a return.
  6. Keep records indefinitely if you file a fraudulent return.
  7. Keep employment tax records for at least 4 years after the date that the tax becomes due or is paid, whichever is later.”

Gotta love numbers 4, 5 and 6!

So for the last couple of weekends, we have been scanning and shredding the old documents from 1977 – 2001.   Some of the interesting things we found while decluttering this stuff: Continue reading

Do we really need a LABEL??

As I’ve been reading more about minimalism, simplifying, and clutter, I realize we all seem to want a label to describe our current, former, or future state of being.

For clutter:  accumulator, collector, tosser, dumper, crafter, closeted, hoarder, and the list goes on!  We don’t need a label to know we keep too many of our belongings.  Our outlook on life is changing!  That’s why we are eliminating some of our belongings!    Continue reading

252 Children’s Books Gone

Youngest child home this week.  We went through 5 boxes of children’s books.  She kept 30 and we are donating 252 books.  If you look in our garage, it wouldn’t seem any different!  Scary that so many boxes have left and we haven’t made a dent!  10 more of her book boxes to go.  Not sure we will get to them this week while she is home for spring break.  Most likely not.