Clutter Tip of The Week: Raid Your Pantry

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Yippee! I finally feel myself getting back in to the swing of this decluttering thing, Want to know what got me back on track? You did! Jen & Samantha got me started and then I ran in to a whole new bunch of ladies starting #2011in2011 thanks to Twitter and the spark was lit all over again. It’s so much more fun to do “not so much fun” stuff when you’re not alone. Thanks for getting me back on track ladies!

Here’s what I purged this week:

46 Papers (r)
50 Kids Clothes too small or out of season (40 d, 10 s)
17 Just plain old trash from my counters (t)
15 Homeschooling Worksheets (r)
1 Toy (d)
2 Kids Chairs (d)
1 Broken Mirror (r)
150 Random Papers & Trash- from a junk pile I started but never finished (r,t)
10 condiments/foods from the fridge we don’t even eat (t,r)
18 Items in the pantry/fridge we wouldn’t normally have eaten (t,r)
________________________________________
310 less items in the house!!


And now for the moment you’ve all been waiting for …

The Clutter Tip of the Week: Raid Your Pantry

When we first moved in to this house, I thought the kitchen was GINORMOUS!!! Cabinets, cabinets everywhere and even a mini walk-in pantry. “Who could EVER fill all of these cabinets”, I boasted. Ha, I must have cursed my self. For months we lived with many of the lower cabinets completely empty so the kids had plenty of places for hide and seek … but little by little day by day things just sort of had a way of finding their way into those spacious cabinets.

Before I knew it, all of the cabinets were full, jam packed even and things were busting out everywhere. Since I started purging, I have reclaimed my cabinet space, organized my baking goods, and created an awesome recycling center that actually works for us … but, there was no where for me to put the dry and canned goods I was bringing in each week, the cupboards were anything but bare.

While on a weekend walk around the neighborhood, planning our meals for the week (that’s when I do my planning), I decided I just wasn’t going grocery shopping this week. I would use only items we already had in the cupboards, pantry and freezer to make our meals.

And you know what … we survived. We ate well actually, probably even more than normal because I was trying to get rid of things. We also ate leftovers (something we hardly ever do) and I’ll tell you why we did this time, in an upcoming post (riveting, I know).

And when we were done, my cupboards are just starting to make sense. I had room enough to organize by type instead of just cramming things in and hoping they didn’t fall out and hit me on the head the next time I opened the cabinet.

But best of all …

I saved over $150 this week!!

(the amount my family of 5 spends on groceries in a typical week)

This week I’m challenging you to plan a meal entirely from items you already have on hand but aren’t part of your normal rotation. Then come back here and tell us what you made.

Check out these great gals, also doing 2,011 in 2011: Jen, Samantha, Michelle, Christina, Erin, Melissa, Lilyalayne, YOUR NEXT (there’s still PLENTY of time to join in)

Clutter Tip of the Week: Grab 10

I have to tell you, I’ve lost some momentum on the clutter front. Oh don’t we all! That’s how we got here in the first place, am I right? I’ve been at this for quite some time now and while I can almost see the light at the end of the tunnel, sometimes life just changes your plans. The last few weeks have been a roller coaster for me but those details are for a different post. Today, I’ll tell you what I have gotten done clutter wise and a favorite challenge of mine that helps me get through the days I just don’t feel like doing anything.

55 Toys from the playroom (d)
8 Magazines (r)
5 Items on the counter (r)
____________________________

68 = Total for the week (d = donate, r = recycled, s = sell, t = trash)


This is the most embarrassing total I have posted to date but hey, sometimes that’s life and at least my house is lighter than it was before. And my playroom! Yay, my playroom. It’s finally in a manageable state – details coming soon.

Now for my first declutteirng tip:

When I find myself in a spot where I just can’t bring myself to tackle the clutter zones in my home, I like to play a little game I call “Grab 10″. Grab 10 can be played in one room of your home or throughout your entire house. The title pretty much speaks for itself but I’ll explain it anyway. As quickly as you can, find 10 things that just don’t belong in your home anymore and don’t stop until you do.

On days when that’s all the time or energy you have, then Grab 10 will be enough (psst … that’s actually more than the number of items you need in a day to finish 2,011 in 2011 so that’s really something) — but, where this game really comes in handy is on the days when doing it feels particularly therapeutic. It’s on those days, I challenge you to try Grab 10 in each room of your home. This is honestly the best piece of advice I can give you on decluttering. Try it and you will see, rarely will you stop with only 10 items … and if by chance, you play Grab 10 throughout your home, well, then it will probably look as if you’ve cleaned your house as well. BONUS!

Whether you are joining us for the 2011 in 2011 challenge or not, I’d like to ask you to play Grab 10 sometime this week. Keep track of your 10 items and come back here and let everyone know what they were and what you plan to do with them (donate, sell, recycle, or trash). Who knows, maybe you’ll get bit by the declutter fever and decide to go all the way.

I’m happy to welcome Jen and Samantha to our group this week and I invite you to follow along with them on their journey as well. Catch up with all the 2,011 in 2011 participants here:

Clutter Be Gone

Last week was a huge week for me, not just in learning to love myself, but also in terms of clutter.

I finally tackled our dining room. It’s a constant source of trouble for me. We do our homeschooling in that room so it’s ALWAYS a mess and well, items without a home just sort of seem to end up in there. I got about 70% of the way done … wish I could tell you I was done, done but alas, that’s why I need this challenge! I actually found time to “read” 7 magazines. By read, of course I mean flip through at opportune moments throughout the week ripping out articles I want to “read” later. We also donated several large boxes of non-perishables to our local food bank oh, AND I emptied my purse!!

The breakdown went a little something like this:

34 Homeschool Treasures (r)
4 Unused Toys (d)
7 Recycled Magazines (r)
67 Items to the Food Bank (d)
45 Items from my Dining Room (t,r,d)
25 Things from my Purse (t)
____________________________

182 = Total for the week (r = recycled, t = trash, d = donate, s = sell)



That’s 296 pieces of clutter out of my home in January. That’s pretty awesome in my book.

How’s the decluttering going in your home? Are you keeping tally of your numbers and doing a good job getting items out of the house once you label them as trash, donate or recycle?

It’s never too late to join in with us, remember I did the 2010 challenge in just 3 months last year. Here’s a list of all the folks taking part in the challenge so far. Leave you name, email & url (if you have one) in a comment below if you would like to be added to the list

Let’s Do This Together

If your house is fairly orderly, chances are you are doing something very similar to Opeartion Minimize in your own home. But if you’re a clutter queen like me (or have several little ones running around), then this is one resolution you’re going to want to keep. Here’s the plan …

Each of us will purge 2,011 items from our homes in 2011.

It may sound like a lot of work, but trust me it’s not that bad at all.

In fact, it breaks down to
168 items a month,
39 items a week, or
just  5.5 items a day.

See, easy. Trust me when I say YOU CAN DO THIS!!

How do I know? Cause I did it already! (2,010 items in just 3 months last year) I’m betting, if you join in we’ll actually purge a lot more than 2,011 items and be so much happier with our homes in the process.

Decluttering Guidelines

What Counts: Anything that has taken up residence in your home. Any item using valuable floor/counter/table space you could be using or areas you could be not using in a more calming, soothing way.

This could be stacks of papers and magazines, clothing you no longer need or wear, items in your cupboards you haven’t touched in years, toys no one plays with, hair and body products you have never opened … you get the idea.

What Doesn’t Count: The only items not included in our challenge are things you will be replacing with an item of a similar nature (i.e, – food, recycling, beauty supplies you use on a constant basis, laundry detergent) and items you bring in your home after you start the challenge, like mail, new clothing, etc.

The only exceptions to these guidelines are 1) when you leave mail lying on the counter for a week (or more) and it takes control of your kitchen. Go ahead and toss it and count it. Or 2) when you find 5 empty TP rolls in your guest bath or 3) large empty bottles of laundry detergent in your laundry room just junking up the place. Don’t be hard on yourself, just tally them in with your other items and be done with it. Vow to do better the next time around.

See, simple rules. Just to make sure you’ve got it down, I’ll outline my items for the week.

26 Items I sent off to my SIL (they were things hers already, just stuff that had been living with me)
32 Catalogs stashed in my magazine drawer
3 Magazines (you’ll see as time goes by, this is a big source of my problems)
42 pieces of random junk from my counter & coupon drawer
5 toys no one plays with
6 items for the local Food Bank
_________________________________
114 things just like that


The beauty of this challenge is unlike most declutter projects that tell you to conquer your worst space first or work on one area per week, you don’t have to start anywhere in particular or feel overwhelmed by how bad any one space is. It’s low-stress.

Just grab a few things here & there as you notice them
and keep a tally in your head.
Write down the number whenever you throw something out
or stash it away to give, sell or donate.

Before you know it, you’ll be competing with yourself to see how much you can get rid of each week and as the number gets bigger you’ll notice your problem areas getting smaller. As they shrink, you’ll find the confidence to tackle them once and for all. Just like I did. Plus, I’ll be sharing my tips and personal stories with you along the way.

If it sounds like something you might want to try leave your name, blog or email in the comments section. Feel free to post on your own site every so often about your progress, or not. It’s entirely up to you.

Did she or didn’t she …

I know that’s what you’ve all been asking yourselves. Did she or didn’t she rid her home of 2,010 items in 2010?

Well the answer to the question everyone is dying to know is ….

YES!!!!!


Not only did I meet my goal of getting two thousand and ten unwanted things out of my house, but I surpassed the goal and came in with a grand total of 2,184 less things in my home.

{Cheers} {Applause}

Yes, I can almost hear you now.

But wait, there’s more.

I’m just not finished yet.

My house is so close to being a home I can almost feel it and there’s no way I’m stopping now. This year I’m tackling this project one more time. I’ll rid my home + garage (didn’t count the garage in my numbers last year) of 2,011 more items and finally feel that inner peace I’ve been needing when I spend time in my home.

Want to know the best part?

Alright, I’ll tell you! (You don’t have to twist this girl’s arm) The best part is this time around I’m not a newbie. I have skills and talent and expertise like none other. Alright, maybe I’m embellishing a tad, but I am seeing surfaces of my home I haven’t seen since we moved in and as long as I’m riding on this organizational high I may as well bring you with me right?

That’s why this year I’m asking you to join me. All you have to do is make an effort to get rid of things in your house (regular trash, junk mail, etc not included) and keep a mental note or better yet, a written record as you go.

We’ll all post updates along the way, although they are not required. And more importantly, give each other motivation along the way.

I’ll also share some of the tricks I’ve learned about seperating with your stuff and making your space work for you. Hmm, this go round you might even get to see pictures. Yes people, my home is almost camera ready (this is the part where if you were here, you would hear ME cheering). It’s funny how the less cluttered your home gets, the less cluttered your mind gets too. I so want to share that feeling with you!

A comfortable house is a great

source of happiness. It ranks

immediately after health and

a good conscience.”

-Sydney Smith

Here’s hoping by the time we’re through we all have comfortable houses, great health and a good conscience.

Wondering what happened to those 1,000 items I disposed of since my last post? Well, I know I talked about having a garage sale and boy, was it going to be huge. (Not all 1,000 items but a huge portion of them) Unfortunately, a virus hit my entire family with a vengeance and well, it just had to be put off. I chose to donate all of those items to Arms of Hope. Sure, we could have earned a few hundred bucks right before Christmas, but we donated somewhere that places our belongings with families who really needed them. It just felt right. Besides, I would have gladly paid someone that much to come and make my house feel this much lighter, so in every possible way, it was soooooo worth it.

I’ve already made a huge dent this year and can’t wait to tell you all about it. I’ll try and keep you guys informed more regularly and keep you included on house projects along the way. Stay tuned for a little more background on how we got this way in the first place and why I’m positive we’ll never get back there.

I just can’t wait to get organized and decluttered once and for all! Who’s doing this with me? Take the week to think about it and next week I’ll post an official Operation Minimize Link up post for those of you ready to take on the challenge!

And the final talley for those of you who are wondering:

1,245 Items donated to charity (Wow, that’s 57%!!)

483 Items Recycled (the Earth breathes a sigh of relief)

24 Items Sold

432 In the trash

___________________

2,184 Total Items Gone/ $72 Earned

And to think I only started this challenge in August … what a difference a whole year will make!

Operation Minimize: 520 – 1077

Holy cow, I haven’t done an Operation Minimize post since the 1st of September and boy have we cleaned out a lot of clutter since then. We were gone for a significant portion of this time, but we cleaned house before we left and have been continuing the purge since we got home. I’ll admit things were slowing down a lot after our cross country trip, but after watching the unforgettable hoarding episode on CSI a few weeks ago, I have had no problems tossing out the junk. Did any of you see that episode? Oh my, I am still having daymares about it. Solved my clutter problems that’s for sure.

Here’s the breakdown:

60 More items to Medina Children’s Home (baby stuff, toys, towels & clothing)

3 Years of Magazines Recycled (that’s 5 1/2 years worth of mags so far!!)

425 Trash or Recycling

____________________________

557 Items out the door!!

For a Grand Total of 1,077 items no longer taking up residence in my house!!!


(I can almost hear the applause & cheers now)

But, we’re not done yet. I’ve just barley crossed the halfway point and I’ve got a long way to go before the clutter gets to a manageable level. I’ve got a major yard sale planned in a few weeks that will clean up a ton of real estate in the house, but it is mainly big ticket items. If I’m going to finish this challenge, I’ll have to buckle down and tackle those despised “clutter zones“. Mine are the kitchen counter, dining room, play room, master bedroom and closets (any & all of them). How about you, have you tamed any of your clutter zones? And if so, how did you do it?

As reluctant as I have been to assign myself any specific areas up to this point, I think I will have to focus on one area a week or maybe a piece of one area every afternoon in order to finish by New Years. I could use some encouragement right about now, advice or even funny anecdotes to help keep me motivated. Any comments would be greatly appreciated, even if it is just to say, “Hey you, get off the computer and get to cracking on all that junk in your house!”

Operation Minimize: 337-520

Wow! I can’t believe I actually did it. I made it passed the 500 mark, meaning my home is now rid of 500 pieces of useless clutter. THAT IS HUGE. yet not. Since I obviously still have so far to go. I chose not to tackle any specific areas, but rather to just pull junk from anywhere I happen to be at the moment. The results are slower but I feel less confined by rules (alright, I’m a rebel). Corners of my home are starting to look better and I am “getting” to the point that I might be comfortable posting photos of my progress.

What do you think? Would you like pictures to go along with this challenge?

I hope you guys will not think less of me or cast judgements based on the state of my home. We’ve got three kids and I am borderline pack rat … it was only a matter of time until something happened and I would much rather lay out all my dirty laundry here with folks that care about me then ever be on an episode of Clean House. Sure Niecy is cute & all AND I would love to see what outrageous outfit or what color flower she would wear to my house … but … I would never, NEVER want the world to see my home like that.

NOTE: My home actually looks nothing like the ones on Clean House – we have all the usual – you know, visible floors, usable chairs & other home furnishings so I’m not sure we could even make it on the show but you get my drift. Don’t you?

It’s the lack of visible counter space that is driving me mad. The state of my bedroom which somehow became the drop off point for things we would put in the garage sale one day … when is THAT day going to come? Soon I tell you, people! Soon!

This week we sent 40 more items to the Medina Children’s Home, 133 items to the recycle or trash bin and 11 items marked for resale.

I gave up 13 magazines (one of my weaknesses) which is monumental for me, hey that’s more than an entire years worth of magazines folks! And found out my baby boy has only 4 shirts and a few pairs of shorts that actually FIT him. Hence the reason if you see us around town, he is rocking his older brothers way cool swim trunks. No worries though, new threads are on their way and I’ll be trading in some of his nicer duds for some new ones at our local Once Upon A Child.

274 Trash

59 To Sell or SOLD

187 To A Better Place

__________________
520 Items No Longer in My House!!

I even had a moment to create this snazzy new tracker which I will use to keep you updated on my progress along the way. Why yes, the Mister is out of town this week … why do you ask? No, I actually get this much stuff done all of the time. Thank You Very Much. Ok, I’m lying now. Not only am I a horrible liar but I actually don’t get all that much done around the house with three kids 4 & under and none of them in school.

How about you? Did you rid your home of some useless junk this week? If you did, you KNOW I want to know all about it!

I added this post to the Raising Homemakers homemaking party!

Miss the start of this series? No problems, you can catch all the decluttering goodness right here:
Operation Minimize – A journey in decluttering

Operation Minimize: 231-336

Operation Minimize is a challenge to rid my home of 2,010 items by the end of the year. I’m playing along with several other bloggers/Moms from You Are What You Keep. I started around the first of August so I have a lot of work to do if I want to finish by the end of they year. Along the way, I post updates of my progress here.

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted an Operation Minimize update. It seems the further we get in to this challenge, the more difficult it becomes. I’m ashamed to admit the first 200 items were easy because they were all just visible clutter taking up space in my home and while I still have my fair share of visible clutter (and even more hidden away) … we are getting to the point where I have to make decisions.

Oh, how I do not like to make decisions. Honestly, it is my lack of decision making that got us in to this mess in the first place. I read a book a few months ago that stopped me in my clutter tracks. It taught me two lessons I am trying desperately hard not to forget. The first – piles of clutter are just stacks of unmade decisions taking up residency in your home. And the second – everyone has a routine for organizing. Even if your organizing routine is to drop everything when you walk in the door. You still had to make the decision to drop the items there and walk away. Or leave the dishes in the sink as opposed to washing them or placing them in the dishwasher. Even walking away from an overflowing trash can … they are all decisions you make about the state of your home and the way your items are organized.

For some reason, these statements just made so much sense to me. Every time I walk in the door with a pile of mail and want to throw it on the counter. Piles of clutter are stacks of unmade decisions … plays in my head. When I want to leave my folded clothes for the next day or the clean clothes in the dryer … again, I hear a voice saying, it would only take you a few extra seconds to go the extra step and cross this off your to do list.

It’s been helpful, but alas … I need more help. I only managed to gather up 105 items over the last two weeks and while it felt like it should have been much more … 105 is better than nothing. Two more giant bags of stuff dropped off for the Medina Children’s home, an ice cream cart that is going to have a fabulous new life, a more organized pantry, fewer needless items in my bathroom. It feels good to get rid of these things and for the most part I have done a good job about not bringing in any new items while we are trying to get rid of the overflow we have already.

141 Trash

48 To Sell or SOLD

147 To A Better Place

__________________

336 Items No Longer in My House!! :)

But we’ve still got a LONG way to go to get to 2010. My goal for the next week is to break the 500 mark.Wish me luck!

Miss the start of this series? No worries it’s all right here:

1-115
116-231

I added this post to the Raising Homemakers homemaking party!

Wants vs. Needs & More Decluttering

In the grand scheme of things, this falls no where near my list of needs and not even that high on my list of wants … but every season I fall in love with several items from the Boden catalog. I pine over them until they go on sale (to a price I could possibly afford). I put them in my shopping cart, I visit them a few times each day and eventually they’re all gone. Sold out & I’m remorseful for a missed opportunity to add something timeless/classic to my pretty expendable wardrobe.

This is one of those items:
Boden_Photographers_Jacket

It’s called a Photographer’s Jacket (which in my opinion makes it that much cooler) and it first entered my life when I featured in a What to Wear to Bloggy Bootcamp style advice column for the super cool Cindy of Skip to My Lou fame. Back then it was $98 and a bit of a splurge but it’s on sale now for $65 and I hear it calling my name throughout the day.

I have three problems with that. 1) How could I choose just one color? I love them ALL. Which one is your favorite? 2) I made a deal with myself at the beginning of the year to only buy clothes when I hit specific weight loss goals (every 5 pounds) … I haven’t gotten close to a goal in 4 months! And 3) I’ve been trying not to make any unnecessary purchases until I get a hold on all this clutter.

But then it calls to me again …

Update: Apparently, in the 8 hours it took me to publish this post ALL the photographer’s jackets have disappeared from the site. Dang it, they got me again. Breaks my heart every year and now I’ll spend weeks wishing I would have jumped on it & how much cooler my wardrobe could have been, if only …. Ah, well what are you going to do. As long as we’re here, let me know if you need any style advice of your own. I like to shop vicariously through the needs of others. Check it out here -> KSW At Your Service

In other news, I purged another 116 items from our home and I am starting to notice the difference! The untrained eye might still come in our house and see mounds of clutter … but too someone who lives with it every day, I’m starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel. I’m even going as far to rule out any items from the garage. (That’s a 2010 project all on its own) And thinking I just might tackle 2011 items from there next year. Yay!!

That brings our grand total to 231 items out of the house!!!

86 Trash

48 To Sell or SOLD

97 To A Better Place

I’m hoping to make big strides this week while the Mr. is away … wish me luck. For those of you who said you might play along, how many items did you gather up this week?

Operation Minimize: A journey in Decluttering

Sometimes I have to laugh at myself.

Do you ever stumble on to a certain blog or web page and think to yourself you were destined to read those words … at that exact moment? Well I do. It happens to me all the time. Maybe not in a “fate brought me to this” kind of way but in more of a, “Wow! This is really going to change my life kind of way.

I really need to start sharing these moments with you guys more. I promise I’m going to get on that right away. Hmm, might as well start now.

So last week I was sifting through my feeds, trying to catch up on the 1000+ backlog of posts I need to read. When somehow or another, I came across the website You Are What You Keep. The writer, Tabitha is on a mission to reduce the number of items in her home by 2,010 by the end of the year. I know, cool right? Well, as I read her posts I got to thinking about how much I wanted to join Sarah from Clover Lane on her mission to get rid of 40 bags in 40 days during Lent. Instead I sat around, thinking about it … procrastinating … watching as she progressed and items in my house kept accumulating instead of disappearing.

That’s probably why Tabitha’s experiment appealed to me so much. I often play the throw 10 things away game when I walk into various rooms of my house, so I just sort of figured this would be a version of that … just on a MUCH larger scale.

Anyway, I ran the idea by the Mr. and we both decided the house would look a whole lot better minus two thousand and ten items. So, we’re in! We started today. Here’s our Day 1 breakdown:

1-11 toys from the playroom
Note: Starting small, today I just asked the kids which cars they didn’t want. Cars are taking over our lives. Turns out diecast construction equipment is “not their favorite”. Yes! Those are the worst to step on anyways. (AUNTS & GRANDPARENTS see Note – no construction vehicles for holidays)
12-29 Magazines (Yes, 18 brand new magazine. All my SIL’s who moved recently, mailing them in the AM. Just wait till I get around to my magazines! Dang you $5 Amazon magazine subscriptions.)
30-33 Some of SIL’s Things (also being mailed tomorrow)
Note: Yay! for Megan she just scored a great gig in Cali and is officially moving on Fri. If you’ve got a minute, stop by I Love … I Hate and congratulate her.
34-82 Kids Clothes boxed up for resale
83-109 Kids Clothes donated to the Medina Children’s Home
110-115 Women’s items also donated to the Medina Children’s Home
_____________________________________________________________
115 just on Day 1!

Not a bad start, ashamed to say this didn’t even make a dent in the clutter that is taking over my life, my home and my happiness. Like I’ve told you before, I’m a sucker for numbers and stats so I think this challenge will suit me well. I’m not sure if I’ll make it by the end of the year but if I don’t, I’ll just up my number to 2011.

Tabitha likes to log items by Sold, Trashed, or sent to a “Better Place”. I want to play by the rules so today’s 115 items break down like this.

48 Sold
67 To A Better Place

If you like this idea as much as I do, feel free to join in. Tabitha even has a Flickr group if you’re brave enough to post photos of your clutter and progress along the way.

The rules state items can be given away, sold, or thrown in the trash. Trash items only count if they are leaving your home and you are not replacing them with similar everyday items (toilet paper rolls, cans, bottles, etc). If you lose count she has handy system for just counting a full bag as 10 or 20 items.

If you’re on the fence or curious about my progress, drop me a line or leave me a comment. Chatting about it will only help motivate me more. I’ll post updates along the way and see if I can whip up some handy dandy tracker widgets so you can see my progress when you stop by.

Yay! Never been so excited to get rid of things

I added this post to a Homemaking Link Up on Raising Homemakers