Thursday, November 19, 2009

more stuff

the calls come fast and furious. Do you want a mini-fridge? A treadmill? What about your books? (are we ready for the complete set of Nancy Drew? Trixie Belden?)

Rich reserved a 5X8 trailer today.

The bedroom suite, the dollhouse (though I have serious questions about a real wooden unfinished dollhouse for a 4 year old), the desk. Anything else is extra.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Where is

Where is the camera cable? It is extremely hard to do Wordless Wednesday when you can't pull pics off the camera!!!!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

let's get rid of

Know what I really want to declutter? What I really don't need in my life though it keeps hanging around? This cough. Seriously, I'm done. Tomorrow will be day 18 for me; it's longer for E. We've both been to doctors, neither of us has anything beyond lingering cough. Though the longer this goes on, the greater chance it actually is or turns into something. I'm tired of being the person in an important meeting who coughs with mouth closed, trying to be discrete, only to involuntarily cough a softly as possible, still trying to be discrete, until it all has to come out and the giant hacking cough kicks in. And coughing jsut flat out wears you out. So begone cough! Leave us!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Cleaning for the Cleaning

I go from never posting to 3 posts in just over 2 weeks. You lucky readers! I'll bet you can hardly contain yourselves.

This site exists because we have clearly demonstrated an inability to effectively keep up with the clutter in our lives/house/car/etc. (Put my office on that list. The piles of paper are astonishing.) Still this has to take the cake.

We have a housecleaner come every 2 weeks to give the house a nice thorough cleaning. It's great and not very expensive all things considered. The thing is that we need to declutter/organize the house prior to the cleaner's visit otherwise we don't really maximize the value. That means organizing kid's toys/books/misc c.r.a.p., clearing off surfaces of clutter (newspapers, magazines, misc c.r.a.p.), putting things in their rightful places that have sat out for the better part of two weeks, etc. This usually takes a solid 1-1.5 hrs to accomplish. This does not include making sure that the sheets have been cleaned for our beds (they change the sheets which is cool).

We typically wait until the last minute, so tonight was the night to prepare. The sheets got done last night so we're more or less ready there. Usually we can spend some time in the morning doing the last minute stuff, but we're both busy with work so everything needed to be done tonight. And that's why I'm getting this post in under the NaBloPoMo wire.

After tomorrow, we begin another 2 week cycle. Maybe one of these weeks we'll figure out how to reduce the clutter throughout the week rather than all at the end. Still, it is nice to see that we actually can declutter this place when necessary. Still, it's mostly just finding places to temporarily stash c.r.a.p. Getting organized and reducing the clutter is another matter.

- Rich

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Clean Car

Well, we can cross the car off the list. Had the chance this afternoon to clean out the clutter and take a vacuum to the rugs. Even put the floor mats in the washer. It's amazing at how much more you can appreciate your car when you can actually see the floor.

Managed to get a plastic shopping bag worth of trash out of the car and another bag of items that belong in the house and not the car. Wish I had time to wash the car as well.

- Rich

Saturday, November 14, 2009

more brain clutter

I used to maintain a running mental list: my list of companies that had demonstrated poor customer service and were therefore put on my letter of complaint list. I've made one or two complaints in my day and there's a certain satisfaction in getting it out. But, sadly, the list grows and grows and I rarely have the time to make the complaint or even comment. For example, Store #3 is on the list because I really need someone to carry vegetable bouillon cubes.

Our Subaru dealership made it on the list last week. Before our trip, Rich had to take it in because of a recall alert that was easily fixed. But, for some unknown reason, they completely unattached the carseats! As most of you well know, attaching carseats is a pain - we rarely, and I mean rarely, disconnect those seats because getting them in there tight enough is a workout. And I fail to see how an engine issue requires removing carseats. We thought maybe they vaccumed the back, or the seats, but no. Nothing else was done to the interior of the car - just the seats - and the mats/towels under the seat frames to protect the upholstery - jumbled in the back.

So imagine how pleased I was that the dealership called to ensure our service had been a pleasant experience. Well, no, I said, shocking the woman. I politely explained about the seats, told her there was no explanation for why the seats were removed, and said we were extremely displeased.

Ah! One thing off the list.

Friday, November 13, 2009

a week

In one week, we'll be heading down south for warmer weather and relaxation, first with friends, then family. We need to resolve the hitch (Rich is making great progress). We need to decide waht to bring, pack, and get on the road. And I have two huge work projects - two be events - happening next week.

I've thought of another thing from my parents - an older one piece school desk. Elizabeth is a lefty, as am I, and when i was young my parents got, from a school closing, a lefty desk. Loved it. I wonder where it is now and if we can bring it back.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


My life is sometimes cluttered with the past. If not for one of my past jobs, I'd probably not be good friends with a very dear friend. But that job wasn't good for me in so many ways. Nice to laugh about it now, but in too many ways there was too much potential for a serious detour in my career. So, very dear friend invites me to a reception of my former colleagues. It was actually nice to catch up. I was reminded of how much you carry with you from each past position.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Where to put the new....

vacuum cleaner? We have a perfectly fine vacuum cleaner that doesn't get as much use as it should. We also have a dog, a cat, two active kids who spit up and spill things with alarming regularity, and adults who wear shoes in the shoes. And a carpet that gets filthy. So every six months or so we rent a steam cleaner (from Store 2) and are astonished at the block gunk it picks up. At $50 a pop for the rental, Rich this go round suggested we buy one of the new steam cleaners on the market. The small models can be had for $50-75, so it would be a better value than the rentals, and if we use it regularly, we'll have cleaner carpets too. So we spent a rainy day today sucking up a rather disgusting amount of gunk.

Regular vacuum is stored in the hall closet. There's not really room for the new one, even though it's slightly smaller. So yet another thing for the basement. Our goal is to use it at least once a month.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

cluttered mind

This blog is rapidly becoming the aww clutter of my mind, not of my house (or car). But why not, since decluttering the house isn't happening.

So today I went grocery shopping over my lunch break. This is a great example of too many choices being too overwhelming. I was thinking about all the clutter I keep in my head - the grocery rules.

We have three stores we can easily visit. Store 1 is running a special, spend a certain amount for a certain number of weeks, and get a free gift card. Store 1 has become our go-to store with this promotion, plus best prices/availability of organic milk and eggs. And, this week they had triple coupons, and they double coupons up to $.99

Store 2, our former go-to, has better baked goods. And carries quick cook grits in the canister, unlike store 1. Also, grape tomatoes are $1 a pint cheaper.

Store 3 used to be the go-to place for some specifics - the only place that carried vegetable bouillon cubes, stuffing mix in a choose-your-size canister, and my favorite bottle drink super cheap (organic white iced tea with a hint of peach). But they've remodeled, and no longer have the bouillon or stuffing mix.

So moving through the store today, I remembered we needed grits, but now I have to make a special trip to store 2. And I was in store 3 last week, but we still need bouillon. And then I can make a special trip to store 4, which is more of a pain to reach, but by far they ave the best prices on dried fruits, frozen goods, and wine. And that leaves off entirely store 5, which I tend to avoid, but they have by far the best prices on chai, carry 2 specific types of wine I really like, and have the best gingerbread.

Now add in the coupon clipping and organizing, and shopping list organization by the sale flyers, and my brain is quite cluttered with grocery thoughts.

Monday, November 9, 2009

more hitching post news

Rich spent some time on google and sure enough, hitches can be had for not as much money as from the dealership. Not a huge surprise, really. Now have to call around trailer rental places and we're back on.

Sunday, November 8, 2009


So we've run into a slight hitch in the Thanksgiving plans. Literally.

Our plan is to rent a trailer and haul the stuff back. But, we need a hitch put on the Subaru, which is something we've sort of wanted anyway as it might come in useful some day. You know, when we buy a boat and a travel trailer and start hauling stuff around on a regular basis from our urban house.

I always underestimate costs. How much could a hitch cost? What, maybe $50 for the part and another $50 to install it? Well, our dealership up here says $300 for the part, $300 for installation. Uhaul Florida says $275. Hmmm. Plus, how much can it cost to rent a trailer? What, $300, max? We've only called one place, but more like $450. So, while this was always going to be an expensive proposition, we'd get a bedroom suite and some other stuff out of the deal. But if we're looking at $700 or even more, heck, we can buy a bedroom suite. So, we need to find a cheaper way to acquire a hitch, and find a better rate on a trailer. Or, we bring back a lot of stuff (hahahaha) to make it more worthwhile. I've had my eyes on a china cabinet for a while, and my parents do want to downsize. I'm kidding. So, we're still thinking. More research to do.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

the car

I realize it sounds insane to describe a car as cluttered as our is, except I've been in other parent's cars and it really does get bad quickly. You're mostly in the car with the kids, and so when you get home you've got them and the diaper bag and whatever stuff you went out to get and while you try to make a dent, it builds up. (Especially with a child who must, just must, bring her favorite toys with her.)

So today we went to the doctor and the grocery store, and so coming home we each had a kid and groceries and we scored a parking spot close, but not right by our house, so between each bringing a child in along with bags of groceries, that's exactly how the car continues to be cluttered.

Anyway, the point of this post was to say, as lovely as it was for Rich to bring in a small bag of trash, as I looked around the car today, I didn't see that it made any difference at all. Much work to be done!

Friday, November 6, 2009


Too many excuses, no decluttering. Tonight's excuse - the varied ailments plaguing all the members of the family.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Another project

There are several areas of this house/our life that drive me crazy. My white whales, as it were. I hate that wardrobe thing, too.

Right now I am fixated on the car. Elizabeth cannot leave the house without something, or several somethings, in her hands. And then it ends up in the car, littering the floor and back seat. The stuffed animals she won at the Portuguese fest in Massachusetts. In early August. A random assortment of pens, pencils, and crayons - from restaurants with kid menus. Wrappers from snacks. Random toys. Books. Crap. The DVD player carrier is on the back seat floor, but the DVD player is under the front passenger seat. The other day I noticed there were still crab lines in the trunk! (last weekend in July trip to Pocomoke). We leave for our long trip in just 2 weeks. And that car has to be cleaned out. Every day I think I need to just go out there and collect it all, but work has been heavy lately. And when I do drive, I'm usually loaded down with too much stuff to bring in more than one or two things. I do bring in stuff and throw stuff out. I swear it's multiplying. (and where in the world are we going to store the crab lines, anyway? In the Pocomoke house, there was a corner of the basement where all that stuff went, but not like we're going crabbin' all summer long and need to grab it regularly, but then again they're nice crab lines so I hate to jsut dump them, so we need someplace where we can find them the next time we go crabbing in a couple of years! Actually I hope it is not that long, though this year's haul was disappointing, to say the least.)

Anyway. Rich took the car to work today so he could do school drop off and head into work directly (usually he walks E to school, then drives the Mini - we only have carseats in the Subaru). And imagine my surprise when he walked in at the end of the day carrying a plastic bag full of trash - a quick collection. One small bag of trash down. We probably need a couple of Hefty bags to clear out the rest of it.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

My Pet Project

This is my first post here. I figure since it is NaBloPoMo, why should Susan have all the fun?

As I'm usually the brawn behind the brains in decluttering our house, I thought I would contribute what I consider to be my pet project. That's actually a misnomer. This is something that is not mine - it's just what I would like to see go. It sits up in our 2nd floor hallway mostly because there's really no other place for it. Inside is a menagerie of women's clothes, many of which hold some sentimental value to Susan. So it's not about just getting rid of everything. That would be cruel. It's about getting this monstrosity out of the hall and finding other places for the clothes. Sounds easy. Far from it!

- Rich

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

headed down the wrong path

So, in the Sunday ads we got the big toy catalog from Toys 'R Us. Elizabeth decided to look through it and point out good ideas for Christmas. And her attention was completely taken by the dollhouses. Great, I thought, a giant piece of plastic that costs over $100. Can't wait.

Later in the day we went to a party and there was a huge dollhouse in the playroom. And guess where Elizabeth spent all her time? I stood there watching her thinking about the reality of buying a dollhouse for Christmas, when someone asked me if I had ever had a dollhouse. Lightbulb! Indeed, I did once have a dollhouse. When I was around 10 or so, I got a big wooden dollhouse, that we were going to decorate and finish off. Uh, though we never did. But it is there, someplace in my parent's house. It's big, it's wooden, it's designed to be finished with paint and little wallpaper and twee little real dollhouse furniture. Hey, I think I did actually get some furniture, too, throughout the years, so there's probably someplace some furniture.

We're off to my parent's for Thanksgiving, and our plan is to pick up my old bedroom furniture and haul it back for Elizabeth's room. We'll rent a trailer. You see the issue here. I bet that trailer will have more room than the furniture needs.

Do we seek out the dollohuse? Could it possibly still be in good shape? Is it a good idea to give a 4 year old a huge unfinished wooden dollhouse? Will we ever finish it? Or even attempt to finish it?

And most importantly, can I get away with not bringing too much stuff back from my parents?

Monday, November 2, 2009

Where are my black boots?

Here is a classic case of why I don't throw stuff out. We went to Ren Fest last weekend with some friends who wanted to dress up. It was a last minute decision for us, and so I had no costume. Rich has an old king costume from many Halloweens ago, and Elizabeth has a princess dress, and we had a pirate bandanna and scarf for Andrew. And I felt like a tool with no costume ideas at all. Suddenly I was inspired. I had recently purchased a plain shirt with quite puffy sleeves. With black pants, a bandanna, and big gold jewelry, I figured I could at least look slightly like a pirate-y gypsy-ish person. (though you're not supposed to say gypsy anymore, right, so I don't know what the other part of my costume was supposed to be - a fortune teller? Is that sensitive to the plight of the Roma?). Plus, I have, somewhere, flat black slouch boots, so perfect to complete the costume.

Now, I bought these boots either in high school or perhaps in the first years of college, so late 80s. I loved them and wore them all the time and when my cat the famous Andre attacked them and bit a hole in the leather, I had them repaired at a cost probably more than the original boot cost. So, all I had to do was find them. I did remember that I hadn't worn them for a while - I distinctly recall wearing them in the winter of '94 (yes, 1994!) and noticing water seeped into them. But I have recently seen those boots, in the great clearout of the front bedroom, so definitely worth digging out and using for this fake costume.

When my sister was here last summer she helped me go through a ton of stuff in the front bedroom, for a very very nice tax deduction. I ran across the boots then, in a box of old shoes that hadn't been worn (or seen the light of day, truth be told) for probably at least ten years. And the boots were there. So, last Sunday morning, I searched. And searched. And searched. Not in the front bedroom closet. Not in the boot box under my bed (but did find a pair of boots that were ripped and I can throw out). Not in the cardboard box I thought they were in, in the attic. Not in any other box in the attic. Not shoved into my closet. Not in any other shoe storage area. No sign of them in the basement. Not in my trunk that contains nearly all my other 80s paraphernalia, like my prom dress. An hour of searching, and I could not find them. And because it was muddy and wet (which means the boots probably would have been a bad choice anyway since my last memory of wearing them was cold, wet feet), I ended up wearing an old pair of tassel loafers, and I have yet to meet any pirate/gypsy/fortune teller who wears tassel loafers.

I save things for one reason and one reason alone - you never know. You never know when you might need them. Sure, slouchy boots went out of style in the mid-90s, but now that style is back in! The location of these boots is driving my insane. I just went down and looked in another bag, inspired by a new thought. No dice.

But I did just find the tax receipt from the big clothing of the 80s purge of '08.

12 skirts
1 t-shirt. With shoulder pads
4 jackets (HUGE shoulder pads)
4 vests (I used to really, really like vests - my mid90s look)
3 silk blouses
1 top (? not a blouse or tshirt but a top?)
3 dresses
2 exercise shorts
1 formal dress
4 pairs of shoes
2 purses
1 earwarmer
1 hat
2 pairs mittens

Daggone, that was a lot. 42 items. Wohoo. Hmm, though - I had been wondering if I had donated those boots, and thought the receipt would tell me. 4 pairs of shoes. I would have written down boots if they were there. So that means those boots are in this house somewhere, taunting me.

These next 20 days of decluttering now have a purpose. Find the d**m boots. And then put them in the boot box under my bed (with another pair of brown boots I had totally forgotten I had, no, not these, a pair of high heeled stretch faux suede), so that the next time I want to be a pirate/fortune teller/gypsy I am prepared!!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Back to it

Wow, I really abandoned this blog, huh? And I am sad to say, I abandoned the effort, too.

Once again we are drowning in too much stuff. Kid stuff crammed in the living room. Junk piled in the front hall, on top of the three strollers. Basement play area a wreck of toy detritus. Our car....oh, our car full of crap, not ever cleaned out after a handful of trips this summer. I think the DVD player is shoved under the front seat.

So, tomorrow, it's on. Haven't decided yet how exactly, back to tallying things out per day, or organizing area by area, room by room. But NaBloPoMo provides a level of motivation to start back up. Even if we are headed to my parents for the last ten days of the month, trying hard to make sure we don't bring too much stuff home!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

a thought

Perhaps, if you choose to live in a small, older house, you simply cannot own as much stuff as someone who lives in a large, spacious, newer house.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

O, that way Madness Lies

So the other day, when discussing various room re-arrangements for our daughter's bedroom, my husband says, what if we just put some stuff in storage? Temporarily? Until we had time to deal with it?

Clearly, it's time for Awww Clutter to ramp back up. Because once you go the way of the off-site storage unit, well, there's no hope. It's over, you're done.

I've been using the whole baby excuse, which I think it pretty darn legit. You have a baby, you should get 4 months pass on the decluttering efforts. But, it's been 4 months, stuff is piling up (as can too easily get out of control when small children who have tons of plastic crap are around), and time to get back to it. I started back to work 2 weeks ago, and those first two weeks have left the house a disaster. But we're getting into a groove, I'm working from home for the next month or so, the nanny is here, so I can spare a few minutes to get things done around the house. I need to think if I will restart the 6 things, or how to handle.

So today I tackled a bit of the crazy. When everything is in shambles, and you start clearing things up, do you work on one area at a time? Or, as I did this morning, do you start in one area, and as you put thingd away move from area to area? I think the second strategy works when you are really just trying to do a surface clearing to get some of the big, easy stuff organized and put away. But for true decluttering, I'm a fan of one area at a time. What about you?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

computer clutter

Still here. Not doing much decluttering lately, but there's still a lot of accounting to be done from December. The problem now (besides time!) is my computer. It is full of pictures and songs, so full that adding new pictures is really a problem. So I haven't been posting because it's a hassle getting pics from the camera to the computer to the blog. Gotta solve that clutter problem.

But, there's also the huge problem of time. Much like Elizabeth, Andrew naps best on the move. So if I go for a walk, he'll nap all afternoon in the stroller. If I put him down and try to get things done, he's wide awake.

And he's stirring now and I really want to get an Awww Trouble post up.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

checking out the basement

I've said how much progress we've made in the basement. Full accounting to come. There's a big stack of stuff to be thrown out or donated in the back area of the basement. But here's some evidence. Remember this?

This is what you used to see when you went down the steps to the basement. A huge pile of unorganized crap.

The night before we had a holiday open house, my mom, my friend Amy, and my brother helped put the finishing touches on this area - a quick and simple cover on the seat that you couldn't even see in the photo above. So now (minus Mom, Amy, and Michael, of course), this is what you see when you go downstairs.
(you can see the TSM TV in the front corner of this photo! I got TSM's permission to try to sell the beast. We'll see what happens. Hmm, if I sell it, can I claim it as a decluttering item?)

Thursday, January 1, 2009

new year

Ok, yes, I took a month off posting. It's a little thing called the holidays and a newborn and too many things to do. But, decluttering and organizing still occurred on a major scale. Just no time to document. We do, indeed, have a basement playroom. Pictures and a long post later, to do it justice.

Instead, today, usually reserved for looking ahead and making resolutions, is going to be dedicated to looking back at what may be my biggest clutter mistake of 2008. In the midst of all the holiday craziness, I made a classic cluttering mistake. One of my weaknesses is free stuff. Turning down free stuff is nearly impossible. So when my friend Thrift Store Mama mentioned (in the comments) she had a 32-inch TV she wanted out of her house, I took the bait. She suckered me!! Well, it was my fault. See, my parents are visiting, and only had a small TV in their guest room. I mentioned the possibility of a free big tv to my dad (the man from whom I inherited the clutter gene), and he was all for it. And TSM said she'd only give me the big TV if I pledged to get rid of the small one, which was an easy thing to agree, since the 13-incher was going home with my parents, and I figured the big tv would be good for the basement playroom, or attic office/guest room.The very next day, TSM and I had worked out the details and my dad and I went over to pick it up. And TSM met me at the door and said, um, I'd forgotten how heavy/big this TV is - like over 200 pounds of big. TSM and her husband are strong, and with my dad's help (I'm post c-section! no lifting!), they got it down the stairs and crammed into the back of our Subaru. FILLING the entire back of the Subaru. You can see the photo evidence here.And with that, it was no longer her problem, it was ours. We left the TV in the back of the car, on our city street, overnight. TSM suggested we put on a note - you would be an idiot to try to steal this heavy TV. Even without a note, no thief took the bait (darn it!). The next night, we had friends over for dinner, and we figured we could have the husband, Don, help Rich and my Dad. So after dinner, Don and Rich head outside. It was raining. My dad went to get a jacket, but Don and Rich quickly pulled the TV out of the back. "Oh, this isn't so bad" they said - it took a lot of effort to get it in the back of the car, but no effort at all for them to pull it out. So they decided to start up the steps to the house. And it was raining. And there are no handholds on the plastic TV. And Don has a bad back. And the TV was mow slippery. And Don's end slipped, and Rich took the entire weight of the TV - with his hand - specifically index finger - caught between the TV and the cement steps. Ouch!

And so, the new TV sat in our front hallway for a couple of weeks. There's no way that TV was going up our steps to the second floor, and even if we managed that, we had no surface to place the TV. So it sat.

We had Andrew's baptism and an open house the 28th. So the 27th, my brother came over and he, my Dad, and Rich somehow got the TV to the basement. This monster TV is too frigging big to be in our small play area. And so now it sits in the corner of the basement, taking up room. We actually tried to sucker my brother into taking it, but he is built of stronger stuff than I and easily said no.

So. Anyone else want a big-ass, heavy TV? Any other suckers out there? It's really nice. Just......big. If no takers, I've got to discuss with TSM. Maybe sell on Craig's List, giving the majority of proceeds to her?

New Year's resolution #1 - say no to free stuff you don't need, especially when you know it's the wrong size!