Saturday, July 24, 2021

Making Space...

Welcome back to another Making Space post.  This week's post is all about process, so you might just want to grab a cuppa and join me as I invite you into my home and my head for a few minutes.

This week it all started when I was flipping through Youtube and I came across a video that I only saw the title of:  How I downsized my cookbooks (or something like that).  Honestly, I lost it almost as quickly as I found it, and nothing I watched after that was all that inspiring, but just seeing the words "How I downsized my cookbooks" - I instantly knew that's what I was going to tackle this week.  I was so ready!

I've mentioned Dana White's Container Principle in various other posts, so I won't reexplain here, but I instantly knew that not heeding this principle is why my cookbooks are out of control (for me). 

I've always kept my cookbooks in the desk section of this bookshelf/desk piece of furniture:
Excuse some poor quality pictures,
but blurriness aside I'm sure you're thinking this doesn't look bad.

Long ago, I started out with just a cookbook or two, and slowly I added to my collection.  For years I only had a few cookbooks, and the little desk space (that is closed above) held them all very neatly and conveniently.  But after many library booksales, and cookbooks being a favorite type of book I liked to bring home, I ended up quickly filling the desk area:

And overflowing cookbooks onto the shelves above the desk.  In case you can't tell, the cookbooks inside the desk space are double parked. It was impossible to get to any cookbook in the back without pulling out a couple of cookbooks in front.  It was a sad state of affairs.

And keep in mind...  I had already purged a bunch of cookbooks sometime in the recent past.  Yep... here's that post!

So the first thing I did was to pull out every cookbook and anything recipe related:
When I did that, I discovered a constellation map thingie on the top shelf that somehow had made its way behind the cookbooks - just like it looks on the top shelf (I left it there for the picture).  That was kind of a cool find.  I'm sure I have a post in me about all the cool things I find as I declutter that I'd completely forgotten we had, probably didn't use in the first place, but now that I'm rediscovering them and seeing how cool they are, I'm waffling over whether I should keep them or not.   I know...  crazy, right?  

That post will come another day.  Maybe.

With all the cookbooks and recipe boxes removed from the desk and the shelves, I set as my goal to only keep as many cookbooks as could fit single file inside the desk space.  Before going any further, I found it interesting and worth noting that the easiest cookbooks to get rid of were my first and most used cookbooks:

The things is...  Even though these were my most regularly used books, I only really used a handful of recipes out of them.  So I copied those pages, slipped the copies into sleeve protectors, and I'm going to recycle the books themselves - because they are very stained and one is somewhat falling apart.  

hose two books along with 23 others are no longer going to reside in the cabinet above.

But let me back up...  Before I started, I knew I wanted to make as quick, but still sensible a work of this as I could - so I set some parameters. They are as follows:

At this point in life I avoid most desserts and sugar-laden treats.  Not that I don't enjoy them from time to time, but I don't make them very often anymore - certainly not often enough to keep several books dedicated to them.  That said, I did keep one Hershey's Chocolate recipe book.  For nostalgia's sake, probably.  

Next - While most diets have some worthwhile principles in them, I'm not interested in going on a strict, or severely restrictive diet anymore, and I don't need cookbooks full of recipes devoted to such various (and sometimes opposing) food-styles.  That doesn't mean I don't sometimes go on sugar fasts, stop drinking diet pop, or pay more attention to the carbs I'm consuming.  I just don't need cookbooks to guide me through that at this point.  That said, I am keeping a No-Salt Cookbook 😝 (for the time time being) on the chance that it may come in handy.

What was left, I flipped through and if the pictures were unappealing I didn't look any further.  The book went immediately onto the get-rid-of-pile.  I might have gotten rid of some perfectly good recipes, but I wasn't likely to spend time perusing them because the pictures were a turn off, so why keep them?

The cookbooks (and magazines, eventually) that are hard for me to get rid of are those from Taste of Home.  The only reason I can figure is that these cookbooks and magazines make me think of a favorite time of life - when I was raising kids.  The magazines were a nice thing to get in the mail, and I enjoyed looking through them, imagining all the wonderful things I'd make for my family.  Truthfully, if pressed, I could probably only come up with a handful of recipes I've actually made from the magazines - I'm sure fewer than 20. 

So I went through the books, and will eventually go through all the TOH magazines and copy the recipes I either made and liked, or that still look like keepers.  I've done that already for the TOH cookbooks and they are soon leaving:

I think it's worth mentioning, that I, personally, understand the appeal of collecting cookbooks.  I maintain that collecting cookbooks and cooking magazines purely to enjoy perusing them is a valid thing to do, so I have no regrets picking up inexpensive cookbooks through the years, and subscribing to various iterations of TOH magazine in years past, but that said, I'm also ready to let them go and free up the space they have taken up in my house, my head and my heart. 

Finished (for the moment), culling through cookbooks, I'm happy to report that I met my goal.  Everything fits, single file, inside the desk!

Nothing cookbook or food related is on the top two shelves. 

Moving on...   I thought I'd stick with the cooking/kitchen theme, so I also emptied out and unstuffed a stuffed linen closet.  Along with having a thing for cookbooks, I have a thing for towels.   

I have amassed a large number of kitchen towels over the years and I like to change them out seasonally. I gave myself the goal of only keeping as many seasonal towels as will fit in the kitchen drawer (that's assigned to towels and dishcloths) at a time. 

I counted and learned that about 24 towels fit in that draw at one time.  I know...  even that number is probably ridiculous, but it's what fits in the drawer!  So I counted out 24 towels for each season (if I had that many) and I removed the rest of the towels.  For the record...  I just counted and I ended up only saving 74 towels.  Yes, I know that's still a lot of kitchen towels for one household, but they fit very neatly in the space allotted in the linen closet, so "Yay, me!"

These are the ones that are leaving:
They are still nice enough towels to have a fair amount of use in them, so I'm taking them to our church's kitchen where they can be used to clean up all manner of stuff and they'll get to looking shabby in no time, I'm sure.  I've never understood why or how church kitchen towels get so bad looking.  

Also, in this linen closet are kept tablecloths and some cloth napkins.  Now, I've whittled these down before, and doing this was a little harder this time around, but I pulled out four tablecloths to rehome:

Yep, one is brand new.  But I've got another one that's almost identical that I'm keeping. In my defense, I have bought very few table cloths over the years.  Tablecloths were a favorite gift of MIL's to give, so there were many Christmases I was presented with a new one.  Even though I had barely used ones in storage.  

The bright red one above was always pulled out for birthday meals when the boys were growing up. I hesitated slightly about getting rid of it, but honestly, I think it only fits our table when the leaf is out and most of the time anymore when we're all together, the table is extended, so I'm not sure it's going to be getting anymore use anyway.  The other two cloths are vinyl - handy when you've got kids or messy crafts, but I don't care for them anymore and have so little use for them - they're outta here!

Being close to my goal of 60 things, I started looking around for things that sort of go with the kitchen theme and I came upon this:
What is it, you ask?   

It's a pillar candle that I wrapped up to keep the color from coming off onto other candles, and just look at how the color has been soaked up into the paper towel!!!

I unwrapped it, and saw that it had 3 or 4 layers of paper towel around it.  And just handling it, the color came right off onto my hand!
Yuk.  I don't need a candle around that is going to stain anything and everything.  So it's getting chucked.  Several of these are being donated:

The short blue-green one is similar to the tall one so it's getting culled due to guilt by association.  The pale green one would be kind of pretty, but it's faded and yellow on the back side.  The red candle is supposed to be scented, but it's not a scent that I like so why keep it?  It smells slightly of coffee, I'm sure someone else will love it.  The glass globe-shaped candle holder I've had for years, and it's kind of pretty when lit, but it hardly ever gets lit and I'm okay with letting it go.  I think.  I'm waffling a bit seeing it in the picture...  sigh  Just being real here.  The other container is a small hydroponic planter that didn't work well for me, so it's definitely taking a hike.

All in all that's at least 62 more things leaving the house this week.   It's amazing how much lighter a space feels once the excess starts leaving.

And just because I know you're curious...  I've taken a close-up of all my keeper (for now) cookbooks: 

It's a little dark in there, but hopefully you can see enough to satisfy your curiosity.  

And three of these recipe boxes are full of recipes (one has recipe cards only).  You can see we're not going to starve around here 
for lack of knowing how to cook something. 

I'm thinking of sticking with books for another week.  I could easily remove 60 books and it not make a dent, but I'm not sure I have the stick-to-it-iveness to stick to it with books for another week. 

I could tackle the game closet.  What do you do when you own (and love) games that no one else wants to play with you?

Or the furnace room...  all manner of odd stuff lurks there.

Check back if you're interested in seeing what gets purged next week!

Making Space Week 40:  424 things gone!

Sunday, July 18, 2021

Little doilies happening here...

The weeks right now are kind of blurring together.  Looking at houses for sale online, visiting some open houses (of houses for sale) and having a realtor here to do a market analysis... my mind has definitely been in the clouds of house hunting. 

The market is insane at the moment.  Houses sell fast - within days and sometimes hours of being put on the market.  Occasionally a house will show up on and within minutes "pending" is posted on the listing.  Other houses linger for a day or two.

Fortunately, we're in a good spot.  We don't have to move, but mentally we're getting ourselves ready for it - and our house too. 

At the moment, I'm finding crafting to be kind of like busy work and I tend to avoid it, but somehow this past week crochet thread made its way into my fingers and I started crocheting more doilies from the book 99 Little Doilies by Patricia Kristoffersen.

First was Doily #10 that I learned is called Vanity Fair elsewhere:

Mine measures 6 1/4 inches - a tad smaller than the original

And then I crocheted Doily #10:

This little fella measures only 3 3/4 inches across.

At this point, I started to make an official note that I've completed this doily and I found out I had made it before.  In the same color, no less!


To get over it, I decided to throw myself into yet another little doily, and that's when I produced the illustrious #83:

This sweet thing is 4 inches across!

I'm running out of clever names, 'cuz for some reason
 Petticoat Junction came to mind on this one.

And that's all I've got for this YOP post.  

If you're interested in my decluttering journey, check in later in the week.  I'm continuing to make progress toward getting rid of 1,000 things.  Honestly, I think I'll be getting rid of lots more than that, but 1,000 things has a nice ring to it, don't you think?   

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Making Space...

I've decided to spend more time purging craft items.  And hubs joined in with a few items from his study. This time I've gone through my paper crafting supplies and just general craft supplies.  This category is both easy and hard.   It's easy because I was able to identify some supplies that I bought on sale once upon a time, but have never used.  My normal MO would be to tell myself "I might still use it someday", but the decluttering me says, "Stop kidding yourself!  You haven't used it in years, let someone else have a shot at it."  At the moment, this kind of self-talk is easy.  I'm listening to the voice that says, "Let it go!"   

The hard part is that there still is a lot of stuff that makes no sense to me at the moment to let go of, so while there's a measurable amount of bits and pieces leaving, the containers these things in are nowhere near empty, so I'm not really changing the space this stuff takes up.  Not yet, anyway.  I need to think on this.  In a future home, it may be worthwhile to reconfigure my containers and consolidate perhaps, but as I'm trying to declutter right now, consolidating and rethinking my storage doesn't make sense to spend much time on, so that makes this a bit hard.  At this point, I just have no idea if a next home will have space for this stuff, or what that space will look like.  

For now I think I will just trust that letting go of stuff is progress regardless of whether or not I'm downsizing a significant number of containers of craft stuff at this point.  

Here is this week's haul:

As usual, if I counted every single item, there'd be far more than the count is when I sometimes count groups of items, but I'm claiming 80 items gone this week.

Vee asked last week:  "Are you releasing items just to be getting them gone or are you taking a careful look at it? ... It is interesting to see each person's style."

The answer is a bit of both.  I'm not striving for minimalism at this point, not because the idea doesn't appeal to me, but that's not very realistic.  And I don't want to spend money needlessly replacing things I think I really might use when I have the time or inclination.  On the other hand, I've had things for many years that I've hung onto for that exact reason, and when I admit I'm still not using these things, it's very freeing to let them go.   It's freeing to release myself from the expectation that I will (or must) use the thing, and to release myself from the guilt over money spent on something I never used.  Sure, I still spent the money on it, but if I make it available to someone else to use, the money spent is much less guilt inducing.

So...  while yes, the goal is to get things gone - for various reasons, I am trying to apply some thought.  That said, sometimes I do just say to something I'm waffling over, "You're outta here!"  And there is a weird relief when that happens.

In some future posts, I'll try to share some resources that I'm finding helpful as I sort through a lifetime of stuff.  Different things help me on different days, or when sorting through different things.

I'm going to spend a bit more time on crafty stuff for another day or so, so more may show up next week.  Or maybe not.  Each week is a surprise.  😉

Making Space Week 39:  326 things gone!