Friday, June 3, 2011

Decluttering - House and Mind

I have been so inspired by Colleen over at  She has given me the motivation to get rid of all the crap that is just sitting here in my house collecting dust and wasting space.  And I guess a part of me thinks that if I feel lighter in my possessions, I will feel lighter in the mind.  Since my brain always feels very cluttered, this might be a symbolic sweeping out of my mental cobwebs.  Whatever, it's opening up space in the house.

I wanted to share with you some of the things I have decluttered this week:

Cookie Jar Bottom/Planter?

This was either the bottom half of a cookie jar with no lid or a ceramic plant holder.  I got it from a neighbor who was holding a yard sale a couple of years ago.  I thought it was pretty and that I might do something with it, so she told me to take it.  Well, right into the cabinet in the dining room it went and it has sat there in its dark home ever since.  Yesterday, I spoke with my neighbor and told her I had never used it and that I wanted to offer it back to her.  She accepted it for her "yard sale pile" and I had Justin take it back over to her.

Family Photos and Frames:

I got onto a picture hanging kick last weekend, after staring at the huge blank wall in the family room for about the 9,000th time.  I decided that it would be really fun to have a "family photo wall" and it was time to hang something up there, since it had been over a year since we had painted the room.  In keeping with my spending diet, I went rummaging in the basement and discovered an entire box of old frames and another box filled with portraits I had taken of the kids when they were little and their yearly school photos.  I thought what a great way to both recycle and clean out a couple of boxes in the basement at the same time!  Unfortunately, when I dragged out the frames, most of them were not in any condition to be used, not to mention the fact that they were hopelessly outdated and many of them did not have a "picture hanger" option on the back.

Not to be deterred, I forged forward, using the frames I could and throwing the worst of them away.  The picture above represents just a few of the ones where the glass broke, there was no hanger, or it was just plain ugly.  The stack of portraits beside it didn't make the wall and I have stored them in a large manila envelope, as they constitute a yearly history of my children's growth.  I had multitudes of fairly awful school pictures (because aren't they always) and I made the decision to save one of each picture and throw the rest of that particular shot away.  Honestly, I didn't even realize most of them existed, so I don't think I'm going to miss them.  And I think most of them would make the kids cringe with embarrassment anyway, so really wasn't I doing them a favor?

I plead guilty to a trip to Michael's and the purchase of four matching black frames to start replacing all of the old ones.  They had frames for 40% off on Monday and I had an additional 25% off the entire purchase, so I got some pretty expensive frames for a really good price.  I withstood the desire to replace every frame on the wall so that they all would match and ended up with:

Yesterday's item - really ugly dolphin candle souvenir:

This was a candle I bought on one of our trips to Virginia Beach.  I went through a dolphins decorating phase (the creatures, not the football team) back when we first got married and somewhere along the line, I had bought this incredibly ugly candle.  I showed it to Justin and asked him if he thought I should add it to the neighbor's yard sale pile.  Justin told me he didn't think anyone in their right mind would buy the thing and I should really throw it away.  Which I did.

I have made great progress at cleaning out the house over the past two weeks or so.  I have gone through papers and have a "to be shredded" box that is full.  I have a huge plastic box full of craft supplies that I am no longer using that I will be having Justin load into my best friend's car later this afternoon.  Then, last night, I shifted into declutter overdrive:

Assorted quilts:

This is a little more complicated.  My mother is a quilter.  She has her own business, which she is getting ready to move to South Carolina when their new house is ready in August.  She is extremely good her latest career and loves what she does with a passion.  Over the years since she became a quilter full-time, she has made probably more quilts, wall hangings, pictures, place mats, and table runners than she can remember.  I have been the lucky recipient of a great number of these.  I have my favorites.  At the top of the list is the double wedding ring quilt that was the last hand stitched quilt my mother ever made or intends to make many years ago (king sized and so awesome) and a yellow quilt that I have hanging in the upstairs hallway which, for some reason, I fell in love with and begged her to give me.  Yellow is not normally my color, so I don't know what it was about this yellow quilt, but it's one of my all-time favorites.  I also have each of the baby quilts she made for the boys, which can you can sort of see hanging on the quilt rack at the back of the picture above.

Yesterday, I was talking to Mom on the phone and we were making tentative plans of things for us to get done when I bring the kids out to help her clean out the present house later this month.  One of the things on that list is going through quilts that she does not want to move to determine which ones I want to keep and which ones we should place on EBay for sale.  Last night, I decided I should probably go through the quilts I already have and see which ones I don't use and really don't want.  That's the pile in the picture that I put together last night.

I'm torn on whether to put these on EBay and give some of them to my friend or just put them all right back into storage.  These definitely come under Colleen's definition of "sentimental clutter."  Anything my mother makes and gives to me has sentimental value.  But at the rate she makes quilts, it is quite likely that I will soon have more quilts than I know what to do with.  In fact, as evidenced from the picture above, I already do, because there are quilts currently on each son's bed, the wedding ring quilt is in the master bedroom closet (stored in a cotton bag) because I don't want my cats to damage it with their claws, I have several quilts from when the boys were growing up that have too much sentimental value to ever get rid of, and there are quilts hanging on the walls of my house.  And I will be inheriting some more by the end of the month that Mom doesn't want to move.

I wonder sometimes when I look at all of these beautiful quilts if my mom remembers each one she made.  I spend so many months on every cross stitch project that I do, you'd think I'd remember each of them explicitly, but I have been doing cross stitch for over 30 years and I don't remember every project that I have done.  Mom makes quilts so fast, both for herself, her family, and her customers, that I don't think that's possible.  I am going to have to ask her that question.

At the very least, if I let my friend take a couple of place settings and a quilt or two, I will get pictures before they go.  I hear that's a great way to "keep" your clutter.  Put a digital picture of it onto a storage device for the computer and get it out of your house.  It's the best way to live a simpler life - have less stuff.

I'm working hard at less stuff.  I posted a few days ago a picture of the indian statue we got from Justin's great-uncle that was broken, which we ended up tossing in the trash.  But I have a picture.  It's on my blog here somewhere.

I hope that by the end of this summer, I will be moving into a maintenace phase of keeping the amount of clutter in my house to the bare minimum of things I love, use regularly, or simply can't bear to part with.  At the very least, I will have had Ben take all of the actual trash that is in the basement to the dump and cleaned out a few closets and cabinets.  As Colleen said in a response to my comment that I am overwhelmed with this task, it took me a very long time to accumulate all of this "stuff" and there is no time limit on getting it out of here.

Of course, with my obsessiveness, taking things slow and steady is a tough road.  So, I am not only decluttering my house, I am also working at doing it in a slower and more methodical way than when I started, because I think that's one way to "declutter my mind."  And believe me, there is a lot of clutter in my mind!  It's also much easier on me physically because frankly, decluttering is really pretty physically hard.


(Stay tuned for how the psychiatrist visit went.  I just haven't been able to write about that one yet, but I promise to update you.)


  1. Hey, Chelle, I know a few girls who would love a few bigger quilts. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge! All I ever got were baby quilts, which are being kept in storage.

    Good job with the decluttering. I know that I am more at peace when the space I inhabit is in order...that being said...entropy is the law surrounding my life. ;)

  2. Jennifer,

    I may just have some bigger sized quilts after going to my mom's later this month. You can let me know what size you are looking for and what colors and I will see if she has any that she wants to give away for you. I should get her to put up a website to share pictures of all the quilts she's done.

    She's an amazingly talented quilter. I need to post up some pictures of the quilts she has made for me. I've got the kids' baby quilts and the double wedding ring and they are just beautiful! She actually does her work now on a "long arm" machine and usually has a backlog of about 20 quilts at a time. One of her quilts recently sold at a quilt show for $900!!! Absolutely amazing.



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