Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Get rid of 50 things

Our 1924 craftsman single-story bungalow is 1070 square feet.  Its floor plan is very similar to this one but without the 2nd story:

Last summer we converted the office into the nursery, giving up the 2nd bedroom and finding new places for all of its contents.  This is not a small task in such a small home.  It required that I shovel clean out the attic.  Bluck.  The mere thought of that project still irks me. 

After the nursery was done last summer - well, mostly done; I still had to hang the wall decor - I took a break from working on it and focused on a healthy third trimester.

In January this happened.  Snow.  Lots (for us) of snow!

Kaelen wasn't that impressed and just wanted to go back inside.
His feet didn't even touch the crotch of this snow suit!

The next day brought an ice storm.

I was a month into my maternity leave, bored with the entertainment options available to me, and had cabin fever.  Karen had recently suggested that people get rid of 50 things.

I'd been meaning to reorganize the cupboard under the microwave so that some of the baby things we'd acquired, but didn't have room for, could find a more permanent location than the counter.  I waited until the baby was sleeping and started.  The project went quickly, so I turned my attentions to the adjacent cupboard.

Since it was snowy outside, we were housebound, and Kaelen was still napping, I decided to clear out this drawer.  (OMG how much Jello does one household need?!?)

Then I did this one.

I found this sugar cube tin, which I'd bought in France quite a while back, and used it as the basis for another cupboard's reorganization.

Then I scrubbed the cupboards' fronts.  That single cupboard organization project morphed into a complete scrub-down and revamp of my entire kitchen.

The tiger was loose.  Over the next few weeks I:
  • reorganized my kitchen
  • cleaned and purged my linens
  • scrubbed my laundry room, top to bottom
  • used my Groupon for 2 hours of maid service and had my kitchen and bathrooms cleaned
  • went through all my bathroom cabinet contents and got rid of the old stuff
  • prepared my maternity clothes & Kaelen's too-small clothes for the upcoming Just Between Friends sale, packed up borrowed maternity wear to return to my friend
  • finished nearly every pending project, from hanging neglected pictures to rearranging furniture
  • ordered and installed new glass shelves in our bathroom cabinet (in and of itself a 5-year project... ugh)
  • emptied the cupboard where our new microwave/range hood is to be installed ($35 on craigslist!)
  • written in Kaelen's baby book
  • cleaned the oven and fridge
  • gave the fridge's expired contents to the chickens
  • made 9 chickens very happy
A girlfriend accused me of nesting after the fact.  My neighbor came over for another reason and said, "holy crap, your house looks amazing!".  Why yes, yes it does.

From what I can remember, my toss/donate pile included:
  • KITCHEN: 2 pkgs bamboo skewers, electric kettle, 3 candy dishes, 2 ice cube trays, 1 bowl, 4 travel mugs, 1 thermos, 1 Starbucks Barista espresso machine, 1 spoon rest, orphaned glass pot lid, expired jello & pudding, condiments I'd purchased with good intentions and poor follow-through, spice rack with all its bottles, a Christmas plate
  • LINENS: 4 sets of sheets, 5-6 blankets, about 35 cloth napkins, 6 dish towels, 20 washcloths, 4 bath towels, 6-8 hand towels, 8-10 tablecloths, 3 table runners
  • CLOTHING: all maternity clothes, 15-20 items of Kaelen's, wool pea coat
  • BATHROOM: hand mirror, silver dresser set (given to a friend's daughter), old meds, and never-to-be-used toiletries
  • MISC: 6' potted Norwegian pine tree, dead houseplant, some Christmas ornaments, a box of knick-knacks from my parents' attic, my childhood collection of masks, 2 stuffed animals, framed Japanese print, shoe rack, 15 books
As I went through some of my items I found myself automatically saving some "valuable" things without truly evaluating their usefulness in our lives.  A hand mirror, for example, was something I put back after purging the drawer.  Only after returning it to its former spot did I question why I'd kept it... then immediately put it into the "toss" pile.

My house now gleams. It's spotless, projects are done, things are put away, and our possessions have - and are in - places. I feel liberated and am planning to purge my laundry room, which I organized last year.  I also want to get rid of at least half of my clothes and clean out the "pantry" (really it's just a shelf in the stairwell to our attic).  Maybe if I get really motivated I'll edit my CD collection and Gene's DVDs to the essentials.

Did I get rid of 50 things?  Actually, the count is above 200.  I can't tell you how much better I feel about our home.  I've never been happier with and prouder of it.  It's so freeing to get rid of things that weigh you down emotionally, even though you may not realize it.  Challenging myself to purge so many things was hard but it allowed me to go to the next stage with my house and tackle projects we've been putting off as we prepared for this little guy.
He started this whole thing!

Challenge yourself to get rid of 50 things.  You'll be amazed at how much you can clear from your home's contents and by all the mental cobwebs that will disappear along with them.

Let me know how you do!


  1. I did the house-purge too after reading Karen's post. What a charge that can give you! Your little guy is so cute, I love him laying in the snow, sound asleep, all unimpressed. Me too, baby - me too.

  2. Thanks, Lydia.

    I realized this morning that another inspiration for cleaning was Netflix' streaming of "Hoarders". I challenge anyone to watch a full episode without getting an itch to start chucking stuff. I can usually go about 20 minutes before I'm off my behind and searching for things to discard.

  3. Good work! I think I'm going to have to do this, immediately! Thanks for the inspiration!