365 things in 365 days

 

January 2008 update

My electronic journal made it until August 13 (below), but I've kept up my paper journal, and I'm pleased to report that I did make it to 365 things (368 actually) by December 31. This year will now be all about severely reducing the amount of things I accumulate. You can read articles about my project from The Portland Press Herald and from The Sentry.

I'm Julie. I live in Maine with my husband of nine years, Dave, and our two boys, Henry (4 years old) and Eli (almost 2). Last December I started to panic thinking about Christmas and all the extra stuff it was going to bring into our house. Looking around, I saw a house crammed with junk, much of which we didn't use. I'm not one to make New Year's resolutions, but my anxiety about accumulation pushed me to resolve to rid myself of 365 things in 2007.

Amount of money I've made so far getting rid of stuff:

$482.55

Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui by Karen Kingston

Organizing from the Inside Out by Julie Morgenstern

Not Buying It: My Year Without Shopping by Judith Levine

To email me click here.

Please put "365 things" or something similar in the subject line. I get a lot of junk mail.

The original blog

The t-shirts

August 13, 2007
Well, I've got something else to add to the list, but I'm not happy about it. About a week ago, my printer just stopped working. I tried about six different things to try to get it to work, going to the manufacturer's website, Googling for similar problems with my printer, and finally calling technical support. Tech support suggested I take it to an authorized repair center in Weymouth, Massachusetts (only 125 miles away). I looked on Amazon.com, and saw that my printer averaged a "one star" rating by other users, who seemed to say that it lasted about a year and a half before quitting (mine lasted 4 years). I realized it was probably the end. So today I went to Best Buy and bought a new printer. Not happy to be shelling out the money, but since they're all "multipurpose" printers now, at least now I also have a scanner and a copier.
I just realized I can't add my old printer to the list until I actually get rid of it, so I'm going to post it on Freecycle now and will add it when it goes.

August 11, 2007
To Goodwill:
213. baby spoons
214. pacifiers
215. Gap t-shirt (baggy and misshapen)
216. white tank top
217. black tank top
218. Banana Republic shorts (frumpy)
219. old Birkenstocks

Also, to the dump:
220. Trailerload of cedar siding

August 9, 2007
211. I cleaned the freezer a bit and threw away five frozen breast milk bags. All of them are well over a year old. Also, our freezer was so full that it didn't properly closed and it had been propped open slightly all night. I don't think anyone is going to want thawed and refrozen year-old breast milk, and my kids never wanted it except straight from the source.
212. I Freecycled a glass butter dish that I got when we moved into this house and I thought…what? That we were suddenly going to become butter dish users?

Today was Pirate Day at Kindercamp. The kids were supposed to arrive dressed as pirates. Who has full-on pirate outfits hanging around their house. Well, apparently, despite decluttering, we do. Henry wore a bandanna and the eye patch that came with that pirate kite I Freecycled.
On another funny Kindercamp note, today was the last day, and we were supposed to turn in evaluations of what we thought of the program. The evaluations had the kids' names written on them in pen and were put in the kids' cubbies. So one of my major criticisms was that the evaluations weren't anonymous. As I was leaving, Henry's counselor came after me, saying loudly, "I completely agree with you that the evaluations should be anonymous!" Well, apparently not, since now everyone knows what my criticism was.

August 8, 2007
When I sold the yarn on eBay and had some money in my Paypal account, I couldn't resist shopping a bit. I bought some CDs that I've wanted (mostly ones that I have on vinyl, but we don't have the record player set up, so I can't listen to them). I bought an extremely excellent tote bag made from a vintage tablecloth, because one time we took the bus into Portland for the farmer's market, and the bag I brought with me was the sorriest, dirtiest, oldest tote bag from 1985, and I thought something a little more, well, fashionable, would be nice (if there's such a thing as a fashionable giant grocery tote). Then I went a little crazy. I bought a red four-slice Dualit toaster for $120. Which, I might say, is a very good price for a four-slice Dualit. It's just a lot of money for a toaster. There was an article in our local paper a while ago about how great Dualits are (the reporter started off being very skeptical, but totally caved by the end), we eat a lot of toast, and I realized how nice it would be to have a four-slice model, since sometimes the toastmaking portion of Sunday morning breakfast takes 20 minutes and is hard to time along with the egg cooking. And, it's red. It's really beautiful, for a toaster. That said, I actually think our old Cuisinart toaster (which we got as a wedding present) made fine toast. But it wasn't nearly as pretty.


Anyway, I also got a pair of pink capri pants, and that's really where I think I stepped over the line. They were theoretically a good idea, since I do need another pair of sporty capri pants (ok, now that I write it, it seems ridiculous), and they were from Athleta, which is a catalog I drool over but can't afford. They ended up being sort of an insanely acidic bright pink, and they weren't all that flattering. They fit, but had side seams that gave me air hips - you know, how the seams go out farther than your actual hips. Sort of like jodhpurs. And I already have hips, thank you very much, I don't need air hips. And they were just too bright. Really, I'm not sure it makes sense for me to buy clothes for myself on eBay. (I gave the pants to Susannah. They didn't fit her either. She's going to try to pass them on to someone who might wear them. At least they were only $5, but still, $5 is $5.)


I was so affected by Judith Levine's Not Buying It when I read it, and I need to keep remembering how it made me feel, because I know a lot of the time I buy things without thinking about it. I had all these revelations while on a walk today. Unfortunately, it was while on a walk to the bookstore to buy books. Eli's beloved Trucks book had fallen apart and we needed a replacement. Also, after a year and a half of trying, finally, finally, Henry is potty trained. We have long held up books to him as incentives (which is probably what worked in the end, it just took a lot longer than I thought it would), and, in desperation about a month ago, I told him that if he went two weeks going in the toilet he'd get three "forever" books (which is what we call non-library books. So we were also ordering the three books he had chosen from our local bookstore (for the record: they are The Scrambled States of America by Laurie Keller, Hippo! No, Rhino by Jeff Newman and Once Upon a Banana by Jennifer Armstrong). All worthwhile purchases, I suppose. But while I was there I almost bought a copy of a dog magazine for Henry to read on the way home. And I did end up buying a package of blank cards (I'm out of decent all-purpose blank cards) and some metal water bottles for the kids (the plastic sippy cups have been grossing and freaking me out lately). I'm not sure it was any great triumph because I didn't buy any dog magazines. I can see why Judith Levine had to give up buying things for an entire year to get in the habit, and to make it so it wasn't even an option. Because, you know, the thing with the Athleta capris is that I really did think about it, I looked at them for a while and thought about whether I'd want them, before I bid on them. But I guess I should have thought about them more. On my way back from the bookstore, I wondered if I could make it the rest of the month without buying anything unnecessary. Except for, ahem, those potty-training books. Are those necessary? If they are really what got Henry to stop peeing all over the floor, then yes.

 

August 6, 2007
I realize that writing down everything I get rid of is like keeping a food diary. When you keep a food diary, you realize that there are things you would eat without thinking about it (the leftovers on your kids' plates), but once you write it down, you're more accountable. I thought that I would be much closer to 365 things by now. I thought that, surely, the yard sale would bump me into the 300s. Now I wonder if 365 things is too many? Looking around at my clutter, which is still here, I certainly feel like I've got that much to get rid of. But I really had hoped to hit November with only 15 more things to go.
August 4, 2007
Emily and Scott were going to stop by on their way back from Blue Hill, but they decided to keep going on home because Wylie was sick. I suddenly realized I'd done a lot in the week since they'd been here: bought mulch and put it on the front garden, organized and cleaned the corner spice cabinet, organized the go-down. Well, maybe not so much, but they were all sort of big things. Do I normally get all that done in a week? The mulch thing, for instance, seemed like it took a month to do, maybe because I'd been looking at our weedy garden for so long and knew I wanted to do it. And I bought the mulch on Monday, and put it on the garden on Friday, and the days in between yawned wide like a year and it seemed like there was no way the buying and the putting on happened in the same week. I don't think I would have realized it except for knowing that I hadn't yet bought it when they left last weekend, and now it was on the garden. Maybe I'll take note of more of these kinds of accomplishments. Or maybe not, in case this really was an unusually productive week.

August 3, 2007
210. Two unsalvageable sippy cups (bad milk experience), recycled.
July 31, 2007
I relisted four of the yarn auctions on eBay that didn't sell before, and three of them sold.
207. Two cones of embroidery floss, 99 cents
208. Three cones of rayon weaving yarn, $12.50
209. Four cones of cotton weaving yarn, $2.25
July 26, 2007
Given to the diaper service:
203. Thirteen used prefold diapers
204. Five diaper doublers

To Goodwill:
205. Various items from a kitchen drawer cleanout - clips, pastry brush, garlic peeler
206. 3 CDs

July 25, 2007
201. Feeling mildly guilty about this: threw away one of Henry's art projects. It was his "invention" from Leonardo da Vinci week at preschool (which was, I think, last October). It was a piece of Styrofoam painted black, with an upside-down can, some large metal washers, and bamboo skewers stuck into it. It looked kind of like a weapon. It's been on top of the refrigerator since he brought it home. Sometimes it spit forth little Styrofoam balls. It was time for it to go.

The (new) diapers sold today on eBay:
202. 28 cotton Chinese prefold diapers, $11.50

July 23, 2007
Exciting dump run.
199. Huge trailer-load of vinyl siding from our back porch (Dave has started to rip off the siding, which is the beginning of a large amount of piggyback projects).
200. A chair that we got for free on the side of the road (I apparently have a problem picking up free chairs that I then decide I don't want). This chair was sort of cool, an old metal rolling office chair, but the plastic on the seat was all torn, and the wheels were squeaky, and generally we had no place for it. I tried to sell it in the yard sale, and to give it go Goodwill (they wouldn't take it) and to Freecycle it, and in the end, it went to the dump.

While at the dump, a guy asked me where I got the SoPo sticker on the back of the car. I told him that I made it, and he wanted to buy three. Luckily I keep an envelope full of SoPo stickers in Dave's glove compartment (I was driving Dave's car, since the van doesn't have a trailer hitch). I paid $10 to dump the trailer of junk, and made $9 in SoPo stickers. Not bad!

Also of note: made it to 200 things today.

July 20, 2007
All my eBay auctions ended yesterday, and I made a whopping $139.47. On yarn! And only ten of them sold. So:
189. Six skeins of vintage sock wool, $3.48
190. Rowan magazine #35, $15.51
191. Three cones of linen weaving yarn, $17.05
192. Fourteen cones of cotton warp yarn for weaving, $36.00
193. One cone of wool/cotton weaving yarn, $11.09
194. One skein of Artful Yarns Museum wool yarn, $2.00
195. Two skeins of Sirdar Rio cotton yarn, 99 cents
196. One skein Lion Brand Kitchen Cotton, $1.80
197. Four cones silk weaving yarn, $43.00
198. Five cones of chenille yarn, $8.55

I started all the auctions at 99 cents. I love to think of people bidding against each other for things that were sitting in a box in our shed.

I also discovered that you can print the shipping label directly from your printer through Paypal, and then leave the package on your doorstep for your mailman to pick up. This is HUGE for me. It was often a real trial trying to get both kids and several bulky packages into the post office, and then to try to deal with shipping them out. We do have an automatic postal center at our post office, so I usually didn't have to stand in line, but wrangling the kids was still a major chore. Printing the labels on my own printer will save me hours.

July 19, 2007
I posted some other diapering things on Freecycle, and the owners of our diaper service are going to take them for a new client of theirs who doesn't have many supplies. So:
185. 4 diaper covers
186. 2 all-in-one diapers
187. 3 doublers

Also given away on Freecycle:
188. Vintage candy thermometer. This was one of those things we found deep in the back of a drawer in our kitchen when we moved in. It was kind of cool looking, and I thought I'd keep it in case I ever needed a candy thermometer. It's been a few years now, and I don't seem to be making any candy. Eli liked to play with the thermometer and toss it around, and then Dave wondered aloud if it had lead paint on it. I tested it (we have a million lead paint test kits for just this type of thing), and it did. Yikes! It went to a former city councilor who I voted for and was really bummed when she didn't get elected this last term. I had a nice little email back-and-forth with her (where I told her that I was really bummed when she didn't get elected) and she loved the thermometer. Happy all around! (Except for the part about Eli and the lead paint toy.)

July 18, 2007
I've relisted the diapers, since some of them were unused (I pulled out the used ones).
July 17, 2007
I listed some cloth diapers and diaper doublers on eBay. A few hours after I listed them, the listings were removed. Apparently you're not allowed to list used diapers on eBay. Who knew?
July 16, 2007
I've gotten several emails from a woman begging me to give her the pirate ship kite, that her kid loves pirate ships, and she's having a pirate ship birthday party for him, and she needs the kite. Which is fine, but I didn't need the subsequent email saying, "Hi, not sure if you understood, but I need the kite for a party this Friday" and another saying, "Hi, haven't heard back from you yet."
July 15, 2007
184. Pirate ship kite, given away on Freecycle. This is one of those items that I should have thought about before buying. Several months ago we were going to the Bug Light Park nearby and flying kites every weekend, or at least watching all the professional kite flyers. We only had this one small kid's kite, and it was a pain to fly, often diving into the ground in a somewhat dangerous manner. I decided we needed a new kite, but they're not that easy to find around here, since the cool kite store downtown went out of business. I found a website that had a ton of kites, and also had user comments. For some reason, I decided to buy not one, but two kites. I got a little ahead of myself. I got a dolphin and a pirate ship. The dolphin is six feet long, but at least you can sort of fold it in half and store it flat. The pirate ship, however, once you put it together (which took me a ridiculous amount of time) was about 2x2x3. It was huge. And not something you could store casually in the back of the car. It was one of those things that sort of made my heart sink every time I saw it, because it was just a mistake to buy two kites in the first place, and especially to buy one that's so huge. We did fly it once, and Henry was a little afraid of it. Eli didn't care about it at all. Dave was recently cleaning out the garage, and I saw how the pirate ship kite took up about half the garage, and just had to get rid of it. I posted it on the Portland Freecycle since those posts go up more quickly, and said it would go to the first person who could come get it. Someone responded that she could come in a few hours, so it went to her. The tricky part was that Henry was right there when she showed up. I explained to him that we have three kites (pirate ship, dolphin, plus original small kite) and this nice lady didn't have any, so we were going to share with her. He was totally fine with that, partially, I'm sure, because of his mild fear of the pirate ship. So all was good.
July 12, 2007
I listed 18 things on eBay today. I don't think I've ever had so many things up at the same time. It's mostly all yarn leftover from the yard sale, and a few knitting magazines.

July 11, 2007
When I was cleaning the attic, I came across several 3.5-inch diskettes from the past 15 years. I brought them to Kinkos to be converted to a CD. Not all could be converted (some were corrupted), but I wouldn't have been able to do anything with the corrupted ones myself anyway. So:
183. Thirty-one diskettes, converted to one CD.

July 10, 2007
182. Recycled a Tupperware container that was breaking and flaking.
July 9, 2007
181. I threw out the plastic placemat we'd been using for Eli. It was a cute one that fastened to the table with suction cups. However, it had become uncleanably greasy from Eli's ongoing butter habit, and was just gross.
July 1, 2007
180. Crusty magnet from a Thomas the Tank Engine magnet set. The picture had ripped off, so it was just an amorphous black shape. Thrown away.

 

June 30, 2007
Also Freecycled:
179. Three conference room chairs that I picked up on the street during Portland Bulky Trash. I actually got four of them, since Dave wanted chairs for playing poker in the garage. These chairs were kind of big. I brought one to Dave's office, and the other three went to the South Portland Historical Society, to go in their new building.

 

June 27, 2007
Given away on Freecycle:
177. Semi-dented lampshade
178. Several window blinds and curtain rods.

 

 

June 26, 2007
176. Boxes and boxes of weaving yarn, given (via Freecycle) to a woman who lives on Peaks Island and works at the island school. Last year she taught the kids to weave, and needed supplies to do it again. She was incredibly nice and grateful, and I was happy to give her the yarn that I wasn't using and which was taking up a ridiculous amount of storage space.

 

June 23, 2007
Yard sale day! Overall it went really well, especially since I took everything that didn't sell and brought it to Goodwill. Goodwill did reject a few things - a bent lampshade, a damaged chair, and blinds with cords, but it felt so good to get all that stuff out of there. I had been selling a bunch more of the yarn that came with my loom, and I didn't bring that to Goodwill either, since I figured I could Freecycle that to someone I knew would want it, and eBay the good stuff. I also left out some of the more antiquey things, figuring I could eBay them or bring them to the local consignment shop. So, without further ado, here are the lists of what I got rid of today. I think it's fitting that the first item is my 100th. I'll start with the things that sold during the sale:
100. crystal Mikasa clock, $1
101. Le Creuset grill pan $5
102. framed print of birds, $10
103. rubber stamps, $5
104. 3 bags of glass marbles, $1.50 total
105. window shade for car, 25 cents
106. 2 cookbooks, $2
107. 3 CDs, $3
108. 2 videocassettes, $2
109. wooden box, $1
110. Dave's old Matchbox car box, $3
111. 2 terra cotta flower pots, $1
112. portable artist's easel, $6
113. Pottery Barn mirror, $2
114. 2 cones of yarn, given away for free
115. "Another Woman for Peace" pin, given away for free
116. braided leather hair barrette, 50 cents
117. Alice in Wonderland comic book, 50 cents
118. throw rug, $4
119. small magnets, 50 cents
120. flowerpot with lavender on it, $1
121. bamboo shade, $1
122. small wooden bench (stepstool), $4
123. playing cards, $3
124. 15 cones of weaving yarn, $10
125. brown wool African rug, $25 (this is the one I tried to sell on Craig's List earlier in the year)
126. gravy boat (left in our house from the previous tenants), $2
127. fleece blanket, given to neighbor Adriane for free
128. 2 bookplate sets, $2
129. small terra cotta pot, 5 cents
130. red garden clogs, $2
131. Iced tea maker, $3

So that's $101.30. Good money, though not sure if it was worth it for all the work. But at least that stuff is gone, and off to better homes, and it's $101.30 I didn't have before. Now, here's the list of items taken immediately to Goodwill:
132. tape deck
133. tin box
134. clock radio
135. yoga ball
136. 2 lunch bags
137. plastic water bottle
138. star-shaped lamp and light bulbs to fit it
139. Poky Little Puppy nightlight
140. box of unused birth announcements
141. child's cup
142. 4 tiki torches
143. small vacuum that didn't work very well (I think it was called the Turbovac)
144. painted tray
145. quilted coasters
146. hot pads
147. a new-in-package onesie and bib set
148. 2 "baby safe feeders" (little net bags so the baby can suck food through the mesh and not choke)
149. camera and film
150. "Wallies" - wall decals (I looked on eBay and they didn't sell for much, so I figured it wasn't worth my time)
151. cheap pricing gun that never really worked right
152. another tin container
153. glass container
154. picture in a frame
155. vegetable dish
156. cheese tray
157. 2 cutting boards
158. 2 fried food baskets
159. net bag
160. kneeling chair
161. butter dish
162. cheese slicer
163. saucepan
164. rubber spatula
165. white square flowerpot
166. blue sippy cup
167. pink piggy bank
168. red saucepan
169. 3 frying pans
170. 1 small frying pan
171. old wooden train pieces (don't fit with our current trains)
172. 4 bags of books
173. 4 videos
174. 2 CDs
175. 2 "Pickled People" - this was a hard one. I've had them since I was a kid, and I think my dad and I got them together. They were "people" made of nylon hose and stuffed into jars. Sort of cute, sort of creepy. They've been through two yard sales without selling. I've had them in some sort of storage for going on 20 years now. Getting rid of them doesn't mean I'm getting rid of my dad. Time to let them go.

Seventy-five iitems in one day, not bad. At this point, the almost-halfway point in the year, I'm, well, I'm almost halfway. Will I need to have another day like this, though, where I get rid of 75 items at once? I certainly need to do better than the 8 items I got rid of in April.

And here, at the halfway point, do things feel differently? I'm not sure they do. I am still bringing things in to the house, so it's not really like there are 175 fewer things in the house. And I feel like the hidden spaces - closets, attic, shed (still!), filing cabinet, pantry (what we call the "go down" because you go down the basement steps to get there), kitchen cabinets - all these spaces still seem disorganized and cluttered. I feel like I need to start at one corner of the house and go through each spot to organize it. Having two kids, though, there's not really a lot of time that presents itself for this activity.

 

June 21, 2007
I've been getting ready for the yard sale. My mom gave us a bunch of her castoffs and it took me two days to go through and price it all, so now I feel like I'm behind. I'm hoping I can arrange everything artfully to make it look more like a quaint shop instead of a grungy yard sale. Somehow putting a price tag sticker on something makes it look junky. At our last yard sale, I somehow found time to make little informative tags for every item, saying what it was and often putting in some sales pitch. I know a lot of people stopped and read the little tags, and I think when they spend more time at the sale, they're more likely to buy something. But I just don't have time to do those this time.

 

June 11, 2007
99. Recycled the plastic lantern toy that came with Henry's camping kit. I would have been fine with this if it was part of imaginative play, but it just got knocked around and added to clutter. Plus the batteries lasted about five seconds, and it frustrated Henry that he could never get the light to stay on.

 

June 7, 2007
To Freecycle (and, miraculously, all to the same person):
96. Stretched out Speedo swimsuit
97. ¾-full bottle of Aveda Flax Seed hairspray
98. Origins makeup bag (since I've dumped out all my old makeup, I certainly don't need the bag that was holding it).

 

June 2, 2007
94. Continued bathroom cleanout. I cleaned under the sink and threw away old makeup (I guess I used to wear more makeup than I remember!) and almost-gone, now-unused hair gel.
95. Recycled unnecessary and never-used accessory piece to one of our bouncy chairs (it was a yellow plastic star).

 

May 22, 2007
92. A Lego table that was languishing in the attic, given away on Freecycle. This Lego table was kind of dirty and took up a lot of room. Last year, when I was looking for bunk beds for the boys, I went to look at some This End Up bunk beds at a house in Cape Elizabeth. The woman at the house said she was moving the next day, but the entire house was literally filled with garbage. It was gross. Her kid was also actually still sleeping on the bunk bed, and she had to kick him out of the room so I could look at it. Her kids had plastered bumper stickers all over the bunk beds and carved their initials in them. I think I said I would think about it, which was a lie, since there was no way I was buying those bad mojo bunk beds. And then, for some reason, I went completely insane and asked her how much she wanted for the Lego table in her garage. I think I felt sorry for her. Plus I knew Henry would like playing on a Lego table. I paid her $5.00 for it, which was $4.99 too much. I think I was always sort of creeped out by it, and Henry didn't really play with it that much to justify the amount of space it took up. Anyway, not only am I glad to get rid of it, but I gave it to someone who was bringing it to a homeless shelter for the kids to play with there, so I feel even better about it.
93. Cleaned out medicine cabinet in the bathroom. I threw out a bunch of expired and unused stuff, and now it's much more reasonable in there and things don't fall onto your feet when you open the doors.

 

May 21, 2007
I've started attic cleanout in preparation for the yard sale. I've moved two bags of things to the shed for the sale, and
91. thrown away two garbage bags of things no longer needed, and not saleable (e.g., 10-year-old bank statements).

 

May 20, 2007
My mom is visiting. She has informed me that my cyclamen has some kind of disease, and if I don't get rid of it, the disease will spread to my other plants. It certainly can't be good feng shui to keep a diseased plant around, so, thrown away:
90. Diseased cyclamen plant.

 

May 9, 2007
This is a small one, but every little thing counts, right?
89. A very tiny metal clip that once held a bag of coffee closed (it came with the coffee). Too small to really hold anything else closed. Thrown into the recycle bin.

 

May 7, 2007
88. I dumped out a huge bag of old makeup that had been up in the attic. I'm wearing makeup approximately never these days, and I certainly have no need to wear five-year-old makeup.

 

May 3, 2007
From the gym locker cleanout:
87. Max Factor Lashfinity mascara, sold on eBay for $1.54. It's no longer available, so I thought maybe it would sell for a million dollars (well, not really). It did get more than one bid (I started at 99 cents), so that's somethin

 

May 1, 2007
Several bras given away on Freecycle:
81. Maidenform underwire
82. nursing bra
83. non-underwire random bra
84. racerback bra, intended to wear with tank tops, it has never happened
85. 4 sports bras
86. 2 bustiers

All of the bras were different sizes, so I wasn't really expecting one person to take them all. But someone replied and said something to the effect of, "We're five women living in a house, and we all wear bras!" so that worked for me.

 

April 30, 2007
I've only moved out eight items in April. Very bad. Though I've been doing a lot of yard sale prep, and I'm thinking that my one-day total for yard sale day will bring my average way up.

 

April 25, 2007
80. Tossed out more expired baby food from the go-down.

 

April 23, 2007
On Friday I passed out yard sale flyers to everyone on our street, hoping to get some other people to join in the sale with us. I've got six families participating so far. I've been trying to bring something out to the shed every day - the shed is where we've been throwing things to sell in the yard sale. It looks like the agreed-upon date is June 16.

 

April 22, 2007
79. Threw away several jars of expired baby food from the go-down.

 

April 19, 2007
The April issue of Real Simple magazine has an article about how to declutter your mind by throwing away 50 things. It is motivating and underscores what I think I'm trying to do here, though part of me thought, while reading it, "Hey! That's my idea!" Which it's clearly not. I'm not the first person to decide to declutter. I think I was maybe just looking for an excuse to let this whole thing peter out, as I am wont to do with the big projects in my life. Instead, maybe I'll take it as a sign to keep forging forward.

 

April 18, 2007
78. Dave's old (and barely worn) Merrell sneakers sold on eBay for $33.50.

 

April 17, 2007
To Goodwill:
75. Four pajama bottoms.
76. One pajama top.
77. Three sweatshirts.

 

April 16, 2007
I cleaned out my locker at the gym. I'm having trouble going there on a consistent basis, since Eli screams horrifically every time I leave him in the day care. One time I finished my workout and he had been crying so much, he actually had salt stains on his cheeks. Nevertheless, when I do go to the gym, I don't take the time to shower or anything decadent like that, but I run back to Eli as quickly as possible. So it didn't make sense for us to pay $8 every month for me to have a locker I never used. I brought most of the items home, but I did throw away:
74. Almost-gone shampoo, old sunscreen, old makeup, and a makeup bag with a broken zipper.

 

April 1, 2007
Here's a big one:
73. Subaru Forester. We got it from my mom last August, in an attempt to get a car that fit all of us, since none of us seemed to fit very well in our old Subaru Legacy Wagon. When I was pregnant, I pretty much had to roll out of it sideways in order to get out. So my saintly mother offered to trade us the Legacy for the Forester. At first we all loved it, but over time it became clear that Dave didn't fit in it at all. Every weekend we seemed to have an argument about how he was cramming himself into my car. We went looking at new cars, mainly minivans, since it would be nice to be able to fit more people in our car if we had guests or if I wanted to drive a friend of Henry's somewhere. They're all pretty expensive, and we came to the conclusion that really, we should only have two cars (we had the Forester, Dave's old Isuzu Trooper, and our 1980 VW Vanagon camper van). Suddenly we realized that, if we wanted to have two cars, and one of them shouldn't be the Forester, then why not give the Forester back to my mom, and then, hello! we'd have two cars. And I could drive the Vanagon around. And maybe we'd decide to get a new, other, car at some point, but why not get rid of the one we know isn't working, and then deal with what we've got. It felt so amazing to come to this decision, because suddenly this constant argument (about Dave not fitting in the Subaru) completely went away. And my mom was very happy to have the Forester back. She drove the Legacy here, and I am going to sell it here in Maine.

 

March 31, 2007
My 36th birthday. I'm not sure I feel lighter from my decluttering so far, but it's nice to have gotten off to a good start. I can see it might end up having to be a lifelong endeavor. I'm averaging 24 things a month now, so I need to ramp it up a bit if I want to make 365 by the end of the year.

 

March 25, 2007
I made a September appointment at Material Objects, since I keep seeing fall and winter clothes in my closet that I want to get rid of. I'm hoping this will give me incentive to keep cleaning things out and putting them aside, so by the time the appointment comes, I'll have several bags ready to go.

 

March 24, 2007
72. Got rid of the strange little plastic plate that came in this toy camping kit Henry got for his first birthday. This little plate gets kicked around everywhere, but no one actually ever seems to play with it, and I was sick of picking it up. I put it into the recycling bin.

 

March 23, 2007
A sad day, a long time in coming. Our cat Peatie died today. He was 18, and I knew it would be soon, because he had gotten really skinny. Yesterday he was coming down the stairs and I noticed blood on his jaw, and saw that his jaw was swollen and there seemed to be some more blood inside his mouth. I know from past experience that large mouth tumors are not good, especially on an old guy like he was. I made an appointment to bring him in while Henry was at school. It was very sad, but the vet commended me for bringing him in when I did. She said that a lot of people wait too long, and it's not really fair to the cats. I felt, well, I feel odd saying I felt ok about it, but really, I did, so it must have been the right time. I talked to him and petted him while they were euthanizing him. I hope that made a difference for him. He was a very good, very sweet kitty, and always so good and tolerant of the boys.
When I brought Henry home, I told him that Peatie had died while he was at school. Many people had suggested that I get the body (or the ashes) and bury them, or at least release some balloons with a message to Peatie tied to them. I wasn't really sure what I wanted to do. I had already talked to Henry a bit about the fact that Peatie might die soon, just because I wanted to prepare him, since it was obviously going to happen soon. Henry really took it very well. Maybe he knew it was happening beforehand. Who knows. An hour after I told him, he asked if we could get a dog now. I told him we'd have to see. Half an hour after that he said he wanted a poodle. Good grief.

I did have a brief moment wondering whether I could add Peatie to the 365 things list (has this whole project made me ruthless?) but since I wasn't really wanting to get rid of him, I'm not going to put him on.

 

March 19, 2007
71. Freecycled a box of yarn that came with my loom. It has been in the corner of the garage since we moved. Within moments of posting it, I got five replies. I gave the box to a group in Bayside that teaches kids to knit.

 

March 18, 2007
70. Threw away four jars of home canned artichoke puree from 1999. Gross.

 

March 14, 2007
Freecycled:
68. High chair. We got this soon after Henry was born, from neighbors of our friends Ian and Ellen. The neighbors were moving back to England and getting rid of most of their possessions. They stressed to Ellen that this high chair was made in Italy. I guess it was nice, but it was really huge, not all that nice looking, and collected crumbs and stray food bits like crazy. I asked my mom to get Eli a Stokke Tripp Trapp chair for his birthday last month, which is a funky Z-shaped high chair that can sit right at the table, and which has slats for moving the seat down, so it can theoretically be used into adulthood. It's much more attractive than the high chair, and roughly 3 million times easier to clean. Plus Eli likes being at the table, and I like not having that giant high chair taking up the entire living room. Replacing the high chair was one of those feel-good, better-feng-shui moves for this year.
69. Mobile. It was a nice one (the Tiny Love Symphony in Motion), but we got it second hand, and already a little broken, and it had really fallen into disrepair. I advertised it as broken, but someone might be more motivated to rig it back together, and the high chair person wanted it as well. I had a brief thought about cutting off the animals that had been on the mobile so the boys could use them as stuffed animals, but they don't particularly need more stuffed animals, and it was nice to get rid of the whole huge thing. It had been in my closet for a really long time, and took up a lot of space, and fairly frequently the boys would find it and drag it out and fling it around. No good.

 

March 9, 2007
To Goodwill:
65. Old Navy jeans, bought as transitional pants from just-post-pregnancy size to my "regular" size.
66. Target brand fleece lightweight jacket, which I think looked cute at some point, but now made me look like a mechanic, and not in a good way.
67. Four sippy cups that consistently lost their valves, thus becoming spilly cups.

 

March 4, 2007
Happy day. My computer has been returned much sooner than expected. One nice thing, and something I will put on the list, is that they fixed the broken screen part. One of the hinges had gotten so loose that the computer didn't close properly and often slipped open when I was working on it. Definitely bad feng shui. So:

64. Broken laptop screen top, fixed.

 

February 28, 2007
I'm definitely going through computer withdrawal. It's not so much the loss of email, though that's what I expected to be more painful, since it's often my during-the-day link to the outside world. No, the difficult part has been the loss of my easy information center. I didn't quite realize how many little factoids I access on the computer each day. Our blender carafe broke - how do I find a new one. Someone mentioned a farm camp for Henry - how can I find out more about it? Dave needed a new suitcase, and the one I got him from L.L. Bean doesn't fit under our bed (our usual suitcase-storage spot) - do they have any similar styles that would fit? Of course, there is a way to find this information: pick up the phone. When I found out I would be without a computer for four weeks, I thought maybe it would give me more time, since I wouldn't be emailing our web surfing. But I think that so far it seems like it has given me less time. It takes a lot more time to call on the phone than it does to check something online, especially also because I can get up from the computer and help the kids if I need to, and it's not as easy to do that on the phone, so then I have to plan to make the phone call.

 

February 23, 2007
Difficult vacation week continues. Yesterday Henry broke my computer. I was vacuuming and went upstairs to find Henry playing at my computer. It was on a DOS screen with the message "Deleting Flash Memory…". I couldn't break out of that screen or get the computer to shut off. After almost an hour with no change, I finally pulled out the battery. And then the computer wouldn't turn on. The result then being that I had to send the computer out for repair, and it was to take two to four weeks until I'd get it back. I'm a little off kilter at the thought of being without my daily lifeline for so long. I've got to figure out a way to try to check my email before then. But even with that, a lack of computer robs me of my ability to type off a quick blowing-off-steam email, of easily capturing a moment I want to expand into an essay or story later on (ok, confession, I'm not sure how often this actually happens), or being able to web surf for a recipe or the cheapest place to find something we're looking for.
Henry fell asleep in the shopping cart at Best Buy today, while I explained my computer woes to the Geek Squad technician. I couldn't get him to wake up for the walk to the car, and he stayed asleep even when we got home and I brought him in to the couch. When he finally woke up it was to have one hell of a temper tantrum. I finally got him to calm down by voicing what I thought his feelings must be: tough to be crammed in the house for a week with me and Eli, too cold to really go outside for long, and without the outlet of school, which is a place where he can hide a bit and be out of mom's eye. The weather had better make summer more manageable, because otherwise I don't know what I'm going to do.
I guess I'm just thankful that he broke my computer, and not Eli.

 

February 22, 2007
February vacation has Henry and I butting heads. He obviously misses the routine of going to school, and the weather means we can't really leave the house to get some fresh air. And nobody is sleeping. When I complained to the boys this morning that we need to be sleeping more, Henry said, "Well, I think you will enjoy this little adventure."

 

February 21, 2007
I've been doing a good job of not accumulating more things, partially because I've been trying to go to the YMCA in the mornings, and we have to head home right afterwards for Eli's nap, so there's no time for us to run to Target (or wherever) until much later in the day, at which point I'd rather just stay at home.

 

February 20, 2007
I've continued my kitchen cleanout, this time attacking the refrigerator. Why do I keep thinking my kids will eat applesauce? There were three jars of moldy applesauce hiding in there.

 

February 19, 2007
63. More to Goodwill: a black buttoned shirt that was really hip a few years ago, but now, not so much. It was some sort of polyester blend that draped nicely, but somehow weathered to look a little senior citizen on me.

While at Goodwill, I found two pairs of Gap jeans for $5.00 each. Two days ago I ordered two pairs of jeans from Gap.com, since my current jeans have a hole in them at the bottom that I keep catching my heel on, and I needed some more long-sleeved t-shirts, so I thought I'd order jeans at the same time. But my Goodwill purchase today means I can return the new jeans, and save myself $100.

 

February 18, 2007
62. Added to the Goodwill pile: four long-sleeved grey t-shirts, one wool sweater, and a baseball cap. These are part of the Zeile aftermath, as I started to assess my closet and see what I really never wear.

 

February 17, 2007
60. I cleaned out the cupboard above the stove. I guess it would be called the Oil and Vinegar Cupboard. It had reached the point where it was so stuffed that if you put a bottle in, another bottle would jump out. I found three bottles of rice vinegar and two bottles of cooking wine, as well as several bottles of oils or vinegars we never used (or which were essentially empty). In the end I got rid of eleven bottles, and now it's much more pleasant to use the oils and vinegars that remain in the cabinet, since you don't have to cover your head to protect it from leaping bottles whenever you are shoving some aside to see what's in there.
61. I also cleaned out the armoire in our front hallway that serves as a coat closet. The situation in there was similar to the Oil and Vinegar Cupboard, except that coats don't leap from the closet quite as easily as bottles do. Coats tend to suck you in as you shove another coat into the woolen morass. I stuffed a garbage bag full or coats, hats, and scarves. Off to Goodwill.

 

February 16, 2007
59. Nine baby bottles, given away on Freecycle. My kids never really used them, and they're certainly not going to start now.

 

February 13, 2007
We went over to Zeile's today. A month or so ago I gave her a copy of Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui by Karen Kingston, which is the book that put me on the proactive path to decluttering. Zeile hadn't even read the whole book, just a few key passages, and had already gone on a complete clutter-clearing rampage. The rooms that she had tackled looked amazingly different. She got rid of an entire bureau, and all the clothes that were in it. While we were there we went through a tin locker-closet full of clothes. She stuffed two huge garbage bags with clothes she was bringing to Goodwill. It was amazing that all that stuff was even in this small closet. It was a good inspirational boost to help her get rid of so many clothes, and got me thinking more of some of the things I want to move out. It is hard though with both boys around - they either get interested in what I'm sorting through, or they decide they want it. Or, the things I want to clear out are in the attic, and it's not at all childproofed up there. I think as it gets closer to when we have a yard sale in June, I'll be able to make the time to clean out the attic boxes.

 

February 9, 2007
Two more items out the door thanks to Freecycle.
57. A small bin of Legos, fake Legos, and other random junky toys.
This whole thing was given to us by some neighbor, and it was one of those things that made me anxious every time it was brought out of the closet. It was hard to clean up and hard to play with, because there really weren't enough of any one type of toy in there. I had it hidden away in the boys' closet for several weeks, and since Henry never asked for it, I posted it on Freecycle. Then yesterday Henry's friend Jonah came over, immediately spied the bin in the closet, and threw a fit because he wanted to play with it. So there was even more anxiety associated with this bin of toys, because I was afraid if they played with it then Henry would remember something about it that he liked. But I remained firm and we were able to move past it, though not without Jonah saying, "You know, when people say 'please' they get what they want." His dad's a lawyer and so he's already a fairly shrewd negotiator at three-and-a-half.

58. One cat hair mitten.
This was an odd item from my bedside drawer. I posted it on Freecycle and almost immediately received a response from a woman pleading desperately. Her email said, "Please please please let me be the first response I need this so badly I have a long-haired cat and there's hair everywhere!" I love when people want an item so much that they are sure that there will be hundreds of responses. She was the only person who replied, plus I think I would have passed it on to her anyway because of her passionate need for…a cat hair mitten. I certainly believe in Freecycle, in things not only being free or cheap but also in recycling those goods which already exist in the community. But I couldn't help thinking that if she needed this so much, why didn't she just go spend the $5 and get one herself?

 

February 6, 2007
56. A National Geographic from 2000. What was it doing on my bookshelf? It has been recycled.

 

February 5, 2007
Last week was week of the flu. Eli had it for two days, Henry had it for a whopping five. Henry was so weak and dehydrated at the end it was frightening. He skinny to begin with, so was looking downright skeletal by Day 5. He really went four days without eating. The fifth day he was finally able to keep some food down, and was a little more motivated to eat. I know there are viruses going around, but with this project in mind I'll admit I did wonder if there was some feng shui aspect of our home that invited the illness in. Or, who knows, maybe we would have gotten it anyway, and it was good feng shui in our home that prevented Dave and I from getting sick. When we're sick, I feel like sick germs are flying about our house (as they no doubt are) and I want to scrub everything with disinfectant. I opened the windows some last week just to give those sick germs an escape route. I do know I would feel much worse about it all if we had a cluttered house - just thinking of having to clean around all kinds of tchotchkes makes me anxious. At least when the boys threw up last week they were barfing on an unfettered patch of floor, instead of on a pile of clutter (sorry for the nasty visual).

55. One small ball pump. It was on the back porch, and was sort of old and crusty. Both boys kept handling it, and it's needle-y sharp bits plus the fact that it looked like it was harboring tetanus made me snatch it away and pitch it.

 

February 4, 2007
54. Freecycled two pairs of pajamas, size 18 months.

I got them on eBay when Henry was little and they were not that attractive and never really fit him. They'd probably fit Eli now, but they're summer pajamas. Plus, they were sort of ugly.

 

February 2, 2007
53. A promotional CD-ROM for Newfoundland and Labrador. I got rid of it on Freecycle. When the fellow who was picking it up showed up on our back porch, I had completely forgotten that he was stopping by, even though I'd gotten his email about it about an hour earlier. I felt like such a scatterbrain when I opened the door and looked at him blankly when he told me his name.

 

January 31, 2007
The end of the month, and 52 things out of my house. I'm not sure I can really tell the difference. Fifty-six items over 31 days is roughly 1.6 items a day. If I keep up this pace (which is highly doubtful), I'll get rid of 584 things by the end of the year. And if I can't tell the difference after all that, something is seriously wrong.

 

January 27, 2007
Unloaded two more books on Freecycle:
51. Baby Bargains and
52. Toddler Bargains both by Denise and Alan Fields

 

January 25, 2007
Two days ago I took the boys outside to play in the snow while I tried to clear off our driveway. Dave is out of town and I felt very empowered after I managed to figure out how to operate the snow blower. Tim came over with the girls to play in the snow some more. I came up with the brilliant idea to bring maple syrup outside and make what Claire calls Wax on Snow. I went into the kitchen and gathered a pyrex casserole dish to pack the snow into, and two plastic tumblers full of maple syrup (one for Henry, one for Miranda). Somehow I managed to slip on the ice on the back steps, bounce on my ass down three steps, and land at the bottom with a very sore coccyx and completely covered in maple syrup. I, quite literally, took a spill. "Um Julie?" said Miranda. "You have maple syrup on your jeans." Yeah, I know. All I could manage was a shrill, "We're not going to make any candy!!" I had to run inside and change all my clothes (socks, even) while hobbling about with my sore butt. Will a full and total decluttering prevent events like this? Is ice on the back steps a form of clutter? Does a life that includes me covered in maple syrup a life of clutter? Or is this just life with kids? Or, is life with kids necessarily life with clutter.

 

January 24, 2007
I dyed my hair this evening. Does getting rid of grays count as decluttering?
On an actual decluttering note, I got rid of another decluttering book:
50. How to Lose 200 Pounds This Weekend by Don Aslett. Given away on Freecycle. I got an odd response to this from a guy who said he'd be happy to have me leave the book on his porch. I almost wrote back and said, "You don't really get it, buddy…you're supposed to come to me to pick up the things." In the end I gave it to an enthusiastic first-time Freecycler who said, "I've never done this before and I hope I'm not making some mistake." I thought that was much more charming than the guy who wanted me to do all the driving. In fact, I ended up dropping the book off at her house, because it was on my way to the store while I was out anyway. So, there, ha, if maybe that guy had been a bit nicer and not so aggressively forthcoming, I would have dropped off the book at his house anyway. He also wrote his email in some blue font that was about 38 point and that kind of threw me off.

 

January 22, 2007
I gave two things to Goodwill today that I'm not going to add to the list because I've had them less than three months. One was a coat I bought (at Goodwill) for Eli when he desperately needed a winter coat. I had been looking there for weeks and finally found something that would fit him. Three days later I found a much nicer L.L. Bean fleece snowsuit in size 2T (versus the 12 month size of the coat, which fits him only right this second). So I reGoodwilled the coat, since it wasn't going to get worn anymore. I also got rid of the outdoor lights that came in a lighting kit for Christmas lights. I used the extension cords and power strip, but I don't really have a desire to shine floodlights on the outside of my house. I tried to give the lights away on Freecycle but no one was interested.
My mom sent me a link to an article about an organization called The Compact where members pledge not to buy anything new for some amount of time. I looked into a local group of the same organization a while back. I had thought it meant not to buy anything new to you, but it actually means, if you're going to buy something, buy used. While I wholeheartedly support this notion, the email list (which I did join for a while) was mostly people exchanging information about good places to shop for used items. I didn't like that there was still such an emphasis on shopping. I love that there are so many options for buying things used (and cheaper), but I do feel like there is still too much stuff coming into our house, whether it's new or not. With kids a lot of this is unavoidable, but my whole reason for taking on this project is because if we don't get rid of our unused things while we still accumulate more things, we'll be buried under a mountain before the year is out.

 

January 19, 2007
I brought some things to Goodwill.
47. Six cardboard puzzles. Our neighbor gave these to us when she gave us a huge stack of puzzles (see #13, Barney puzzle). These puzzles had all the pieces but were sort of warped and I found them frustrating to do. Since they were often left out on the floor, unfinished, I think Henry found them frustrating too. I'd rather get new nice puzzles than keep these.
48. Plastic briefcase thing that Henry received as an art supply kit. The art supplies have long since been used or moved into his desk, and the empty briefcase has been kicking around his room for a while.
49. A Mozart for Babies CD that I received at my baby shower when I was pregnant with Henry, and which I have listened to exactly never.

 

January 18, 2007
Anne emailed me that she was considering getting some quilt hanger to hang up a quilt in Sam's room. I had a cute one that we used a while ago in Henry's room, but haven't been able to use for probably two years. I pulled it out of the closet and wrapped it up and mailed if off (I was going to the post office to mail off some more magazines anyway). It was a surprise thing to get rid of, since I had forgotten about it. Most of the things I'm getting rid of are things I've been looking at for months and thinking, "I don't need that thing." So:
40. Star quilt hanger.

I'll also add the magazines I sent out:
41. Rowan Number 27
42. Rowan Number 34
43. Rowan Number 32

Also, three magazines went to a woman who lives in Cape Elizabeth, who just stopped by to pick them up (so easy!):
44. Interweave Knits Summer 2003
45. Interweave Knits Summer 2005
46. Interweave Knits Winter 2005

 

January 17, 2007
It's been several days since I've gotten rid of anything, and I think if I don't do regular removal of extraneous items, the momentum definitely peters out a bit. I was thinking though about the things so far that I have been conflicted about getting rid of, and realized that I don't feel bad about them at all any more. I was thinking about the wedding veil and the Eric Carle book Henry liked, and really they don't cross my mind at all anymore. I think, if something is out of sight in a box in your garage or attic, it will also be out of mind in someone else's house.

Though I'm happy to say that all 12 of my knitting magazines sold on eBay last night, for a whopping (and unbelievable) total of $179.50. There was one that you could get from the publisher as a back issue for $6.99, and it sold for $22.45. Why? I think people just get caught up in the auction fever and don't think about what they're doing. I feel a little bad about this. But not too bad.

I'll add the magazines to the list once they are actually shipped and out of the house.

In an effort to get things moving out of the house again, I brought seven books to the local bookstore.
30. Elements of Style (Strunk and White). This was my old copy; my mom gave me the new version with illustrations by Maira Kalman.
31. Two decluttering books: Organize Your Home by Ronni Eisenberg, and
32. Cut the Clutter and Stow the Stuff by Lori Baird.
33. The Baby Owner's Manual by Louis and Joe Borgenicht. This is a cute book, and one that was kind of handy after Henry was born, but it's not one I ever refer to anymore.
34. The Pregnancy Book by William Sears. I think I got this in a very pro-Sears moment during my pregnancy with Henry, but I didn't end up using it nearly as much as some other, similar, books.
35. The Complete Aromatherapy Handbook by Susanne Fischer-Rizzi. A nice idea, but I don't seem to be doing any aromatherapy. Nor, truthfully, did I ever. I took a quick look on eBay just to make sure this wasn't some sought-after out-of-print book, and found one copy that was apparently from Tori Spelling's estate (there were no bids).
36. The Feeling Good Handbook by David Burns. My friend Michele gave me this book, and said it helped her a lot. It looked really good in so many ways, and probably would be really helpful, but I'm finding I really don't have the time to read it, and, at 732 pages, it was taking up a lot of valuable bookshelf real estate.

I'll also add the three knitting magazines that got sent out today:
37. Interweave Knits Fall 2005
38. Interweave Knits Spring 2005
39. Rowan Number 28

I stopped by the consignment shop in Portland today to see if any of the things I dropped off there in December sold. They gave me a check for $30.50, which I thought was pretty good. Of course I had out-of-control notions that I would get $100, especially after my eBay magazine coup. When I was picking up Henry at Cottage Road, Susannah walked in wearing a skirt I used to have. I didn't remember giving it to her. She had just bought it at the consignment shop in Portland; it was one of the ones I dropped off in December. If I had known I would have just given it to her!

 

January 12, 2007
29. Five various baskets that have been banging around our house for a while now. They were a really odd assortment of sizes and purposes, from a small rustic twiggy thing that is maybe only good for potpourri to a big rectangular one you could use for underbed storage. I had posted them on South Portland Freecycle and no one wanted them, and I was about to bring them to Goodwill when I decided to post them to Portland Freecycle. I got about 15 responses. People were responding and essentially saying, "Me me me, oh pick me please!" The woman who I gave them to worked second shift and so I left the baskets outside so she could come by to pick them up at midnight. She emailed me saying how much she loves them.

 

January 11, 2007
28. The tray for the booster seat Henry uses at the dining room table. We've maybe used the tray part twice, and it's been lying outside under the porch for two years.

 

January 10, 2007
I donated four books to the library:
23. Peek-a-Boo by Jan Ormerod. We got this as a Raising Readers book and it's alright, but we never really read it, and we already have Where's Baby by Karen Katz which is the same general idea.
24. Little Brown Bear Won't Go to School by Jane Dyer. My mom gave us this book. It's very cute, but Henry is scared of the lion in it, and so it never gets read.
25. The first of hopefully many ironic declutterings of books about decluttering: Uncluttered by Candace Ord Manroe.
26. Ten Little Rubber Ducks by Eric Carle.
That last book was tough for me. Henry loves it. Dave and I can't stand it. It's a pain to read, and the book itself has a gimmicky squeaking duck that makes the last page about half an inch thick. But it broke my heart a bit to see the book in the donation box, and I almost took it out. I keep thinking that once I make the decision to get rid of something (and I felt very right in my decision to get rid of Ten Little Rubber Ducks) that it would be an easy relief to actually do the getting rid of. Apparently it's not the case. I felt horribly guilty about this all day.

Also today I threw away:
27. An unopened box of baby oatmeal with an expiration date of April 2004.

 

January 9, 2007
Rid myself of some emotionally big stuff today.
19. wedding veil,
20. wedding gown crinoline, and
21. wedding corset.

The veil was the first thing I really hesitated about. There is all that emotional history attached to it, and the memory of feeling like a princess because of it on my wedding day. I borrowed the dress from my friend Jean and so the veil was really the big item that I still have. But. It was being stored shoved in a box in the garage, so it's not like I took extra care to preserve it in acid-free paper or anything (it was in fine shape, it's just that if I hadn't made that effort, did I really want to keep it). And the boys won't want it, so should I save it for their future brides? No one really wants to wear the wedding stuff of their mother in law. Their own mother maybe, but not the mother in law. I went back and forth a bit, and finally called Teresa, who said she thought I should keep it. But I think by that point I had talked myself into getting rid of it. Mostly because keeping it would mean that I should preserve it in some way, and I didn't really want to make the effort, which means right there that it should go. I do have the shawl from my wedding (which had also been shoved in the box in the garage, but I had been looking for this shawl for years so I was glad to have found it), and the earrings I wore, so some future granddaughter can wear those to her wedding. Oh, and I also realized that my veil wasn't even that nice in the first place. I bought the tulle and some satin piping and a comb and some little satin roses and had my seamstress make it. I think it cost $30.
In the end I gave it all away on Freecycle. Some woman was very glad to get it for her daughter, who is getting married this summer. I almost backed out of the whole deal when she told me her daughter is 22 and will be 23 when she gets married, because that just sounds like way too young to get married and I don't want my wedding stuff participating in a doomed union. But who am I to say? Maybe they'll be married 50 years.
Dave joked that I should shove the stuff at the woman and say bitterly, "Here! You can have it!" but that didn't really seem in the spirit of things.
I also listed twelve knitting magazines on eBay tonight. Amazingly, I hadn't even finished listing everything when I already had two bids, so at least my decluttering is making some money. Several of the magazines are no longer available back issues, so I'm hoping those will go for big money, which has actually happened to me in the past. I was surprised how hard it was for me to part with these magazines. My reasoning in getting rid of them was that by the time I start knitting again, these patterns won't even be fashionable anymore. But I remember when I was learning to knit and I got these magazines and I used to spend so much time going through them and reading the patterns and deciding what I would make. In the end I kept three that I had originally planned on getting rid of, because I just didn't feel ready yet. One had some very interesting information about making mittens (well, I thought it was interesting), one had a sweater that I made for Henry and Eli, and one has a sweater that I've been in the process of making for myself for the past four years (and which I really do want to finish someday).
One more thing I got rid of today:
22. An almost-empty package of cough drops (into the garbage). I ate one and it was weirdly gummy and stick and dissolved in my mouth in four seconds. The label said they expired two months ago. Usually I wouldn't have a problem keeping expired cough drops around, but these were obviously bad.

 

January 8, 2007
Dropped several things off at Goodwill today. I got three new shirts there last week and so felt like I should do a quick check in my closet to see if there was anything that wasn't getting worn, and immediately found:
15. Three dark red long-sleeved t-shirts. Not sure when they were last worn, but they are kind of baggy and slobbish, so out they go.

Also got rid of:
16. Empty hot sauce bottle, from hot sauce making kit. Never used?
17. Divided plastic cat food dish.
18. Two handmade scrunchies, for hair. When was the last time anyone used scrunchies? Well, somebody might, and these were very nice, made by my friend Liz Webber in college. Estimated last use by me: college.

 

January 7, 2007
14. Plastic golf/baseball/basketball toy that was broken and hideous and had been languishing in our yard for months. I hid this thing in the shed ages ago and then Henry saw it once and dragged it out. Then it broke. I hid it in the shed in the first place because I didn't like it, and I liked it even less broken. Unfortunately it was in a prominent spot in the yard so Henry would definitely see me moving it. I was moving my car into the driveway after the boys were asleep and saw my opportunity to throw the awful toy in the garbage. Now I'm just praying Henry doesn't look into our outside garbage before garbage day.

I feel a little bit bad throwing all these things away and adding to landfills but so much of what I'm chucking really is garbage. No one would want it, and it would seem disrespectful to try to unload broken things on Goodwill or Freecycle.

This is the end of my first week. I am averaging two things a day, which I'm sure I won't be able to keep up. But what if I did? What if I got rid of 730 things this year? How would my life change?

 

January 5, 2007
12. Paper shredder. I gave it away on Freecycle. I did use it occasionally, but the boys often played with it (dangerously) and it took up a lot of room under my desk. And was noisy. A lot of people wanted it. There are some other items I posted on Freecycle which no one has wanted (those are going to Goodwill soon).
13. Wooden Barney puzzle with a missing piece. Our neighbor gave us about 20 puzzles last year, which was great. This puzzle came with a missing piece. Plus I wasn't that thrilled about having a Barney puzzle in the first place. I threw it in the garbage. Henry hasn't noticed its absence yet.

 

January 4, 2007
Two items from under the kitchen sink, both thrown into the garbage:
10. Sample size bottle of Johnson's baby shampoo. We got it from the hospital when Eli was born, and never used it.
11. A bottle of natural stovetop cleanser, one-quarter full. I got it to clean our smooth-top range. I tried really hard to like it, but it just didn't work at all, so I went back to buying the more expensive, more toxic stuff.

As I had expected, being in the mode of decluttering definitely feeds on itself. I keep wanting to add things to the list. I see a lot of things that the boys never use that I wonder if I can get rid of without Henry noticing. And there are things - undersink, old food in cabinets - that I would have never really seen or been complacent about if I hadn't been thinking about things to get rid of.

 

January 3, 2007
Eli got his seventh tooth today. Apparently 2007 is (so far) the Year of the Tooth.

5. Threw several things out from a little-used cabinet (where things often languish for years without being seen. One was the rest of a container of teff, which I bought thinking it would be Our New Grain, but which we obviously haven't taken to eating. Teff apparently means "lost" because the grains are so small, and I do remember having an issue when some of it spilled.
6. A box containing one no-bake lasagna sheet. I can't remember when I last made lasagna, and who knows how old this box is, and it's taking up an awful lot of room.
7. A plastic bag containing about three-quarters of a cup of an unidentifiable grain.

I just posted two things on Freecycle but I'm not adding them to the list until they're out of the house.

8. A Halloween book that we'd constructed out of some magazine, that had long ago lost its cover. It was shoved down into the bottom of the toy basket. Recycled.
9. A 4-cup rectangular Rubbermaid food storage container. A very useful size, but the top had ripped (and thus wouldn't seal properly) and the inside was flaking. Recycled.

Somehow it seems that the house is already looking brighter. I don't think this is possible after the removal of nine items, so I just must be deluded (as usual).

 

January 2, 2007
I am not going to count this, but I'm sending my mom my 2006 calendar. She wanted it so she could try painting some of the images (black and white photographs) in it. I don't think I can count getting rid of a calendar that I was technically using two days ago, but at least it's something else I'm moving out. I'm also sending her the sock she left here a few weeks ago, but obviously not counting that either. I was hoping to send these out today but the U.S. Postal Service has randomly decided to close to honor President Gerald Ford. So I'll have to send them out tomorrow.

Last night I had a dream where I was all flabby and dissatisfied with my body (note: my dream body was exactly the same as my actual body) and in the dream I was having all kinds of trouble finding time to shower. Conclusion: my anxiety dream is not at all an exaggeration of my real life.

I've posted my first Craig's List ad, for an old wool rug. It's a pretty nice wool rug, but is woven and impossible to vacuum (I didn't mention this fact in the ad). The other major reason for getting rid of the rug is that it comes from my mom's ex-husband, The Man of Whom We Do Not Speak. Certainly it's got to be bad feng shui to keep this relic around. I listed the rug for $50, but I'd be glad to get anything for it. I even contemplated giving it away on Freecycle, but I thought I'd try for some cash first.

4. Recycled the superfluous cardboard dividers from our ornament boxes, as I was taking out the tree. Our ornament storage boxes are designed for three levels of ornaments, but this assumes you have tiny ornaments; I have never been able to fit more than two levels. But I've been stuffing the extra flattened dividers back into the boxes every year. Why? Out they go!

 

January 1, 2007
I've gotten rid of my first thing, and it's a completely un-momentous item, but I think is one of the sorts of things I'll be discarding this year. The only reason it's the first thing is that I almost threw it away last night but then thought, "Oh! I'm going to save this for tomorrow." So:
1. It was the envelope for some American Express Gift Cheques we'd gotten when Eli was born. The envelope has been on the bulletin board in our kitchen for ten months. I was saving it because I thought there were receipts inside with trackable numbers for the cheques. I realized last night that we weren't going to ever need these numbers, and that's when I was going to throw it away. Turns out the papers in there were just congratulating us on our gift, and telling us how to use them. Worthless! And taking up valuable bulletin board space and a pushpin for all this time.
Another item:
2. Eli's crib bumper. One of the ties was broken, so it was always saggy and sorry-looking. Besides, I'm supposed to take it out since he can pull himself up now, and could theoretically use the bumper to hike himself up and out of the crib. It has been thrown into the garbage, since it's saggy and broken. Henry protested the bumper's removal. He's not fond of change. This could be a major problem with this project.
3. Curious George Trading Card. Some thing we cut out of a magazine months ago. Henry liked it for one day, and then it worked its way into the toy basket. There are more of these around somewhere, also to be thrown into the garbage when they're found.

Eli got his sixth tooth today. Does this mean the new year be all about teeth for him?

 

December 27, 2006
I'm coming up with some rules for things I get rid of. I think I need to have had them for at least three months, so they're actual clutter and not just some new acquisition. And I can't count them as separate items if they're logically a bundle. If I could only sell them together on eBay, then I think they have to count as one thing (e.g., 20 cloth diapers would likely count as one item, instead of 20). I may go back and revise everything if I'm far short of 365 things by the end of the year, but I don't want to "cheat" through this.
Also, I think it's ok if I do buy some things. Even if I replace things. I was thinking specifically of my bathrobe. It's perfectly fine, in that it is in decent shape. But it makes my ass look huge. Why I got a bathrobe with rump pleats is beyond me. At any rate, perhaps this year I will find a more attractive bathrobe and get rid of my old one. This will count as one item. What I'm saying is, if I replace something, it's not like those things cancel each other out. The point is getting rid of things that don't work, Mostly this will be flat out getting rid of things, but sometimes I'll get something that works better.

 

December 16, 2006
As Christmas approaches, and I foresee the new things coming in to our home (presents, that is), I'm feeling fairly overwhelmed by the amount of stuff we have. Our shed is so full that you can't open the door without something falling out. We want to do work in our attic but the prospect of moving all the boxes of stuff up there to get the work done is stopping us. Where would the boxes go? It seems like, every day, Henry makes a mess out of something and it just seems another casualty of too much stuff: I'm often left wondering why we even have the thing he's making the mess with. And, having two kids, it seems like our stuff accumulation rate has increased rapidly. We're suffocating under a mountain.
Here's my new idea. I'm going to get rid of 365 things in 2007. I'll go the standard routes: donating, selling, and throwing away. It will average to a thing a day but won't actually be a thing a day, since I'd love to have a big yard sale in the spring, and also there will be things I could sell on eBay that would make more sense to sell as a group.
Now there are things I see all over the house that I could get rid of. Are there really 365? I don't know. Maybe I'll get rid of half that early on and will try to do a push at the end of the year.
My hope is that by getting rid of all these things that we don't use, I'll open our life up to more. More time since I won't be cleaning around all the things. More mental freedom without the closets full of things. Things. I'll start January 1.