Winter Count 2015: 84 items

I’m pretty excited about this count, as I have dropped 8 items since last summer. Six items are from the clothing category: I lost earrings, gave a bracelet away and learned how to live with five outfits, instead of the 4 work and 4 non-work outfits I had. In the miscellaneous category, I ditched the iron and ironing board (gave then to my daughter,) switched to bi-focals (ridding myself of the readers and a case for them.)

New/returning items: a got another wallet as it is a practical way to keep the change corralled. I bought a vase (0.99 cents at Goodwill) because by boyfriend has a habit of buying me roses. I de-cluttered my Christmas decorations so extensively (I had always counted the decorations as the kid’s stuff, as I really only decorate for their sake) that I discovered a Christmas decoration that is one of my “100 things.” It is a stocking that my mother knit with my first name on the front and my middle name on the back.

Interestingly, I still see excess in this list: Six shoes! Tights that I wear about three times a year. A scarf–which is a purely decorative item.

Readers tell me that they really enjoy these counting posts–so, Enjoy!

Miscellaneous items (#19)

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laundry basket, suitcase, vase (with roses) shredder, back pack, To-go cup, coffee pot, two books, towel and Christmas stocking, glasses, case and sunglasses, lap top and wallet.

Not pictured are the car and bed and cell phone. Same as previous posts.

Clothing (#54)

outfits #1 & #2

outfits #1 & #2

outfits # 3 & # 4

outfits # 3 & # 4

outfit #5 and the black dress

outfit #5 and the black dress

there are four sets, here are three of them

Exercise clothes: there are four sets, here are three of them

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winter coat and rain coat

winter coat and rain coat

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a fleece, a scarf and a sweatshirt

paint clothes and swim suit

paint clothes and swim suit

watch and earrings

watch and earrings

gloves, headband/ear warmer, basket with socks and other underthings: socks 5 pair, panties 5 pair, bras 4, tights x1.

gloves, headband/ear warmer, basket with socks and other underthings: socks 5 pair, panties 5 pair, bras 4, tights x1.

two summer outfits

two summer outfits

And then 8 hangers pictured in the clothing photos.

Personal care items #12

grooming scissors, deodorant, razor, hair paste, oil, face powder, lip balm and nail clippers, soap/shampoo, mascara, floss/toothpaste/toothbrush, basket to hold stuff in the cabinet

grooming scissors, deodorant, razor, hair paste, oil, face powder, lip balm and nail clippers, soap/shampoo,
mascara, floss/toothpaste/toothbrush, basket to hold stuff in the cabinet

84 things in total, and room to edit!

Another Reason to Shop Second-Hand Stores

As if there were not already a dozen excellent reasons to shop at second-hand stores. Here is one more: this delightful book mark fell out of a book I purchased at Goodwill this week.

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Losing Your Baggage

"My baggage!" "No! My baggage!"

“My baggage!”
“No! My baggage!”

Once you have had that first big de-clutter session, and experienced the excitement and freedom of being responsible for less stuff, you can get a little tingly just thinking about the next round. When you have been on the path for awhile, you notice that beyond the cycle of too much/release/freedom that entire new vistas open for you. Your freedom allows you to think of things in a new way. I had a conversation with a friend this past week and he was lamenting the experience of having the same fights with his wife, over and over. “We are carrying too much emotional baggage. And we know each other’s triggers.” “You don’t have to carry your emotional baggage. You can set it down and just walk away from it.,” I replied. My friend was intrigued and we discussed ways to disconnect from our emotional hurts and beliefs that do not serve us. If you think a home free of clutter feels good, imagine a heart cleared of fear.

Simple Tools

I remember reading a story about how NASA researched for years to develop a pen that would work in the anti-gravity world of space. They spent a lot of time and money creating a workable writing instrument. At the same time, the Russian cosmonauts used a pencil.

When I was a teenager, my mom told me that I insisted on doing things the hard way. Which probably meant not her way. But there is some truth to the comment. At that time, we had an electric can-opener, which looked something like this:

can opener

I thought it was ridiculous to use this energy-sucking device when we had a hand-held can opener that worked just fine.

I prefer walking to riding in a car (maybe because I have to drive so much for work.) I prefer raking the leaves rather than using a gas-powered leaf blower. Usually this preference saves me money and aggravation. The rake always works, doesn’t need repairs or fuel.

I don’t always prefer to do things “the hard way.” As mentioned before, I like my washing machine rather than beating the clothes on a rock. But I like to be mindful of the machines I invite into the house. Sometimes the simpler tool is the best one.

How about you all? What are some simple tools you prefer to more complex ones that do the same job?

2015 A Year of Gratitude

Here’s my resolution for the new year:

Before I complain about anything, I am to remember what I am grateful for. I will use my fingers to count, if I have to.

1) Housing: we have a comfortable, affordable home.

2) Food: we have easy access to inexpensive, healthy food. And expensive, unhealthy food too, if we chose it.

3) Transportation: we have a paid for car, three bikes and the opportunity for free airplane trips. Plus, we can all walk for long distances without difficulty.

4) Health: we are all reasonably healthy. We have access to excellent health care, should we need it and a way to pay for it also.

5) Enrichment: the kids are in school, we have a free public library, the internet for a small fee and the time to pursue most of the interests that we have.

So, if you see me open my mouth, then close it and count on my fingers….you will know what I am doing–counting my blessings.


Revisiting the To Do List

About a year ago, I posted about living life without a To-Do list. I want to let you all know how I have done with the only New Year’s Resolution I gave myself this past year. I’d say about a C+. I have had a list some weeks. The list was probably needed because those weeks were busy enough I would have forgotten things otherwise. And I have created this mental To-Do list of thing to fix around the house before next summer. But–I am living the month of December without a list, and have given myself permission to not start the next home project (painting my daughter’s room) until she goes back to school after winter break. What this has meant for the month so far is more naps on the couch and books being read and a much more patient countenance. I am feeling smugly satisfied. satisfied cat

Oselo McCarty

Oselo Mcarty

Oselo Mcarty

Oselo Mcarty was born in 1908. She lived and worked in Hattiesburg, Mississippi as a laundress for 75 years. Her formal education ended after she had completed the 6th grade (so approximately 1920) and after that she joined the family business of washing and ironing other people’s clothing. She lived simply and saved. She never married or had children and by the time she was 87 years old, her savings were enough that she started a scholarship and the University of Southern Mississippi with $150,000.

Minimalist Christmas Decorations

One of my co-workers was telling us about the seven [!!!] themed Christmas trees that she puts up each year. She reports that it takes her two weeks to get them all up and three weeks, after the holidays, to get them all taken down and put away. Yikes! I can think of so many, many things I would rather do with that time.

I do decorate. I put up the stockings.

Same stockings we have used for years.

Same stockings we have used for years.

And a fresh wreath on the front door.

Compostable too!

Compostable too!

It took me one minute, fifteen seconds, [middle son timed me] and cost $15.

My kind of holiday cheer.

Minimalist Gifts

Not wanting her minimalism to dampen the joy of gift-giving, reader Patricia asks for some suggestions for gifts to give and receive that are not objects. Here’s a few of my favorites:

My Favorite Gift

My Favorite Gift

1) My absolute favorite gift to give and receive is time together. Consider tickets to an activity you both enjoy like a sports event, a play or a trans-continental train ride. A trip to Europe would be welcome. Once, I gifted my father tickets to the Glen Miller Orchestra (a favorite of his youth.) Mom, dad and I attended the concert together. I have seen my father cry just twice in his lifetime. On the day his mother died, and when he was thanking me for the gift of the concert.

2) Consumables: Sure, chocolate, wine and cheese are good. But how about postcards and stamps? Crossword puzzle books? Handmade soap? Firewood? Decorations made from nature that will decompose, like flowers, pumpkins, ivy, pinecones, etc. I knew a woman who loved to grow flowers. She collected vases from friends and thrift shops. All summer long she created beautiful floral arrangements and delivered them to the local nursing homes.

3) Purchase digital services like I-tunes or Shutterfly.

4) Photos (print or digital) of your loved one’s family. Preferably ones they could not easily get themselves like antique family photos that you have copied for the whole family or candid snapshots of your nieces and nephews when you have them for a sleepover.

5) A gift to a charity that you both admire. The Red Cross. The Heifer Project. Habitat for Humanity. Physicians Without Borders. You get the idea.

6) A gift of service. Cleaning out the gutters of an elderly homeowner. Babysitting for new parents. Use of your guest bedroom, if you live in  a place people like to visit. If you have a talent like photography or baking the most amazing treats, you can offer to do that for a special occasion.

We are limited only by our lack of imagination.


The Art of Re-Gifting

Every successful minimalist knows that it’s not just one big declutter and then you are done. Keeping stuff out of your dwelling space requires vigilance and multiple strategies. Donating to charities, garage sales and asking loved ones not to buy you stuff are all excellent strategies. As is re-gifting. There is to be no shame in it, if done right.

Here's some stuff I have been collecting for the past year to re-gift at Christmas.

Here’s some stuff I have been collecting for the past year to re-gift at Christmas.

Here are the rules of re-gifting:

1) Never, ever, ever give the gift back to the person who gave it to you. Ever. If you don’t trust your memory, put a note with the item reminding you who gave it to you.

2) If at all possible, leave the original packaging and tags on it.

3) The gift needs to match the person. Don’t give a Christian music CD to an atheist or a leather belt to a vegan. The goal is not to just get rid of stuff (if that is the goal, just donate the item to charity) but to find a home for the item where it will be loved and used.

4) Don’t re-gift to someone who is offended by the concept.

Now go out there and have some simple, frugal, minimalist fun.