The Minimalists Documentary

We watched the Minimalists documentary last night.  We watched through Netflix but it looks like several other options to watch are available.

The film didn’t really “teach” us anything new, but it did remind us about our journey and why we are decluttering the stuff.  It allowed us to think about other aspects of minimalism and simplifying.  Finding your own fulfillment is what life should be about.  We would recommend it – just don’t expect to learn why you should be a minimalist.

Quote from film that is the big message in just 4 words:

Love People, Use Things

Here is the link to the film:  Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things

Here is the link to their website:  The Minimalists

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.


days 24-27 for blogPhototasticCollage-2016-01-31-16-59-58


days 28-31 for blog PhototasticCollage-2016-01-31-17-02-03



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!

for blog 8-11 PhototasticCollage-2016-01-16-20-14-25
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.

Our Annual Black Friday “Boycott”

While in college, both of us had to work the day after Thanksgiving – John at a bank and Barb in retail.  The busyness then was nothing compared to current madness.  Stores remained closed on Thanksgiving and opened at 7 or 8 am on Black Friday. 

When we finally got jobs that gave us the day after Thanksgiving off, we avoided shopping. Now, 30 years later, we still avoid shopping this day, even online. 

Our original reasons for boycotting purchasing today stem from having experienced it from the other side with crazy customers on the busiest day of the year. We really didn’t want to experience it from the consumer side!  Now our minimalist, anti-consumerism, simplifying outlook on life influences this decision even further.

Is the “really great deal” of stuff worth it?  Do you really save money when you buy random stuff in the hopes you can give it up someone?   Was the time and stress worth the savings?  Will the recipient enjoy the random stuff?  Do you really need to add more clutter to someone’s life?  Did you enjoy the experience of Black Friday shopping?   

Grandma took the girls one year Black Friday shopping while they were in high school (because Mommy wanted nothing to do with shopping at 6 am)  Both had never experienced the madness of Black Friday. They came home physically and emotionally exhausted, understanding why we avoided the madness.   Neither of the kiddos are shopped today!  

So to those of you Black Friday shoppers, enjoy the crowds!  We are going to be doing something else!  

Does it really need to be connected to the Internet??

We recently read an article in the New York Times (Sep 6, 2015) by Allison Arieff titled “The Not Very Smart Home”.  (Online the title appears to be “The Internet of Way Too Many Things” – not sure why the difference)

Here’s the link.

She seems to hit certain dilemmas in our minimalist/simplification/environmentally-friendly quest right on the head.  We often comment about some of the same things she mentions in her article.

“…a night light that “listens” for your smoke detector to go off and then calls your smartphone to let you know your house might be on fire.”

“Technology is integrated not because it is necessary, but because the technology exists to integrate it.”

Wouldn’t it be better if the night light called the fire department??? Continue reading

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

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!

Life in the Motel musings

Since the “Great Flood of 2015”, we have been a resident of the local Residence Inn since May 19.  They provide breakfast daily, “happy hour” 3 days a week, and all the stuff needed to stay in their rooms.  We are in a studio room – king size bed, living area and full kitchen with most of what you would need to stay there.

Here are some of our musings.

  • Our larger couch is way more comfortable to sit on to watch movies.
  • Streaming movies hasn’t been a problem.  They provide decent wifi.
  • The knives they provide SUCK!
  • 4 plates for the both of us is not enough if we eat/prepare more than one meal a day.
  • 4 glasses are not enough either.
  • 4 utensils for eating is definitely not enough!
  • They should provide a sponge for the kitchen. 
  • We miss our washing machine.
  • The coffee maker just isn’t the same.
  • We miss our gas stove.
  • Electric stovetop is easier to clean than our gas stovetop.
  • It is ridiculous that they will come into the room to change the towels and make our bed every day.  
  • Glad they have the “We are all set for today” sign.
  • Not sure we could live full-time in 450 sq ft.
  • Walls are nice to have.
  • Cleaning up 450 sq ft is easier than 1300 sq ft.
  • The Dog likes his daily walks – there are police dogs in training staying here and he really likes leaving his scent on every bush!
  • We won’t miss carting our recyclables from the hotel to the house.
  • The hotel should make a better effort at recycling.
  • We have generated a lot more waste in the last 2 months. 
  • This may be larger than our RV, but it feels more confining.

We agree with the Pope!

Pope Francis has written an analysis of modern life contained in the 184-page “Encyclical Letter Laudato Si’ of the Holy Father FRANCIS on Care for Our Common Home” to all people (here’s the link for the original letter from this article by CNN.)   This article by CNN summarizes it into 10 “commandments”.  

While reading the original Letter, all of these topics are talked about, especially numbers 1, 3, 5, and 10.  His basic premise:  Earth was given to all to use and care for.  Our actions do not show we are caring for Earth.

Pope Francis’s Letter as summarized by CNN in bold and our take from reading the original encyclical are in italics:

  1. Think of future generations leave it cleaner than you found it.  also see number 7
  2. Embrace alternative fuel sources – this also ties in with number 3 and 4.  Not just embrace, but decrease usage.
  3. Consider pollution’s effect on the poor capitalism, consumerism, and materialism effect all.  The poor aren’t able to escape it as easily
  4. Take the bus – see numbers1, 2, and 3.  Politicians need to see that public transportation needs to be proactive, not reactive to traffic congestion.
  5. Be humble – obviously!
  6. Don’t become a slave to your phone – or other technologies or distractions.  Ties in with number 7
  7. Don’t trade online relationships for real ones – create authentic memories with others  (experiences rock!)
  8. Turn off the lights, recycle, and don’t waste food – ties in with number 3.  Minimalists tend to be more environmentally aware but also see number 5.  Do it for intrinsic reasons!
  9. Educate yourself – about all of the effects of numbers 1-10!
  10. Believe you can make a difference – too many people are indifferent or think their contribution won’t matter.  YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE!

Sounds like the kind of life we are striving for!  We are not Catholic, but appreciate what Pope Francis is trying to accomplish.

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

A Few Sites We Like

Minimalism/Zero-Waste (updated 05.11.2015)

becoming minimalist – love their “start here” section

nourishing minimalism – 2015 in 2015 challenge is what started it all!  brilliant idea to keep track of the items you remove during decluttering

The Minimalists – great essays on the topic of minimalism

Frugalwoods – Financial Independence and Simple Living

Paris To Go – capsule wardrobe info and zero-waste ideas. Love the gluten-free map of Paris!  If we ever get there,  John will be able to eat!