Do you have to much Stuff?



By Liz

“Everybody’s gotta have a little place for their stuff. That’s all life is about. Trying to find a place for your stuff.” — George Carlin

When I was making my first cup of coffee this morning, I went to retrieve a coffee mug from my see through glass paneled pantry cabinet and as I looked up, noticed that these cabinets were housing an array of coffee mugs, vases, cookbooks, pitchers, popcorn bowls and several other items that don’t get used on a regular basis and while my coffee was brewing, I thought to myself, “I really need to weed out all the junk in these two cabinets”. After I poured my coffee, I thought about the cabinet space directly below it that is closer to the floor.  That space is occupied by more cookbooks, large serving trays that only come out on holidays, old food storage containers and place-mats.  I realized that we only really use 2 of the cookbooks on a regular basis that occupy the space in these cabinets and maybe 2 or 3 sets of the place mats come out into regular rotation.


So I started to make a mental inventory of what I could get rid of from that space, but as I was making that list in my mind, I would veer off to the unused tablecloths and tea set in my dining room sideboard and the pile of refrigerator magnets in my junk drawer and some of the Christmas presents that I received months earlier still sitting in their original boxes on a shelf in my bedroom closet. All of a sudden, I was feeling completely overwhelmed and my head was spinning with thoughts of where I should start this purge?, and when do I have the time?,  and just like that, it usually gets put on the waaaay back burner and this exercise is in jeopardy of not getting accomplished.

My husband, myself and our brood moved into our current house, only a few short years ago.  Our previous house was approximately 1600 square foot, and as the kids started to get much bigger, we always seemed to be on top of one another. So we moved into our current house that has approximately 2800 square feet, much better when it comes to breathing room and personal space for all of us. When we were getting ready to move from our old house, we needed to get rid of a lot of stuff, after all, there were many years of accumulated crap.  We had at least two garage sales, donated countless boxes of clothes and household items and threw out bag after bag of trash, and this was all before we even packed our first moving box. At the time, it was overwhelming and a huge hassle.  I never wanted to have that undertaking again.

I dislike clutter and as I have mentioned before, my home decorating style is minimalist. There are not a lot of knick knacks donning the flat surfaces in the rooms of my house, simply because I despise cleaning all of it.  However, it appears as though my closet and cabinet spaces area a different story. So, because I didn’t learn my lesson during the time of our move, we apparently, still have a huge abundance of stuff.

The problem is the thought of spending the time to go through it to get rid of it.  When I think about it; I get discouraged and feel completely overwhelmed.  I know I have to do it, but it becomes something I procrastinate on. However, then it becomes this double edged sword, and then seeps into my thoughts, day and night and I think…”yeah…I really have to get to that”.

Yes, I am aware of the “one in…one out method” and I really do try to adhere to that, and I also am very aware of designating a specific day to tackling this clutter dilemma. The problem is working up the ambition to do it, because that feels like such a massive undertaking.

So I have decided to take a slightly different approach.  This upcoming weekend, I plan on picking up at least 2 moving boxes, assembling them and come Monday afternoon, plop them down in the middle of my kitchen, bedroom closet or in the middle of my living room.  I am going to start my timer and give myself 30 minutes to physically touch items and determine if it is something that has seen the light of day in the past 6 months and if it stays where it is, goes into the box designated for donation or the box marked for trash.  When my 30 minutes is up, I will be done with this exercise for the day and I will put the boxes into the garage and if they are not full, pull them out on Tuesday, Wednesday, etc…until the two boxes are full.


Once I have filled the two boxes, they will go to their final destinations either out on the curb on trash day, or dropped off to the donation bin at our closest Goodwill.  Then I will repeat the process the following week.  Even though it is going to take me quite some time to go through my house using this method, I know that I will still feel a sense of accomplishment and I will be achieving my goal of decluttering my “stuff”, albeit 30 minutes at a time, and I will certainly be making a more contentious effort, while I am out….not to bring home more stuff!

Five Frugal Friday

by Liz


It was a usual week here, nothing out of the ordinary, although, our downstairs A/C unit stopped working last weekend. As we waited for the repairman to show, my husband and I were both convinced that we were going to be told that the unit was toast and it was time for a new one.  Our current units were installed when the house was built, about 13 years ago, so we know we can’t avoid that purchase forever. This day, though were really lucky, the repairman told us that a transformer blew on the unit, and he replaced it, did a thorough check on the rest of the downstairs and the upstairs unit.  The total bill was $315.00, this sounds like a lot, but we were bracing ourselves for the cost of new units, somewhere in the range of $12,000 to $15,000 (big sigh of relief). Technically I guess, I could consider this event as one of my weekly frugal victories, but I won’t, since it is all part of home ownership.

So here is my five frugal for this Friday:


1. One of my kids turned 22 this week. HAPPY BIRTHDAY JOE! Joe is a “no fuss” kind of person, he always has been, so when I asked him what kind of cake or treat he wanted for his birthday he asked for just a simple yellow cake with chocolate frosting…..DONE!


2. This one was almost a 2fer, we gave Joe a gift card to Target, one of his most favorite places to shop for his gift, but my husband had previously run across some old Nintendo Mario (Joe is a huge fan) figures still in their boxes, so we gave him these as a little extra gift.  I was all out of wrapping paper, so I got creative and used an old tourist map of Fort Worth from 1963 as wrapping paper….Joe thought that was cool (YAY for me, my kid thinks I did something cool, maybe I am not a complete nerd like the kids think I am).


3. I rescued the 3 remaining Bosc pears we had in our fruit bowl that no one was eating. To us, the Bosc did not taste as good as the Anjou, so I pulled up my recipes and found a quick and easy recipe for raspberry poached pears. We ate the poached pears with some whipped cream for dessert that evening, and they were really tasty.


4. I stopped into one of the thrift stores by our house to look for a skirt, found one, but the real prize was the Tommy Hilfiger one piece bathing suit that I found, brand new with the tags still on it for $6.00, in my size. One of the seams had started to come loose, (I assume that is why it was at the thrift store). As a homemaker, I would like to brag about my mad sewing skills, but the truth is I cannot sew to save my life. My only aptitude in this department is fixing a seam that isn’t too far gone, or fixing a button. My skill in this area was enough to save to save the garment, and now I have a new swimsuit for the summer season.


5. I cleaned the filters from my vacuum cleaner.  The vacuum had been sounding like it was struggling so I pulled the filters out to clean them, like I do on a regular basis, but found that this time; the filters were particularly gross. They had a lot of dust and gunk adhered to them.  I washed them both by using warm water and a mild dish detergent, let them thoroughly air dry (this took over 24 hours) and reassembled my machine.  No more struggling sounds. My vacuum is working as good as new. I guess I was lax about cleaning my filters that time (going to have to stay on top of that).

So that is my fiver for the week. How about you? What kinds of things did you do to save some green this week?

Dusting it Off


By Liz

Do you like to clean? Do you look forward to getting your home ship shape? Maybe put on your favorite music and sing and dance while cleaning like no one is watching while you do so? Yeah……me neither.  Don’t get me wrong, I love a clean house, but I don’t like to do it.

Many of my family and friends know this about me and have asked why I just don’t break down and hire someone to clean my house.  Simply answered, I just can’t justify my laziness in this area. We all have things we hate to do, but sometimes you just “gotta suck it up buttercup”….right? So if there is any way I can shorten my weekly ritual, and still get clean results, you bet your bippy I am going to find it.

Let me first give you a quick synopsis of my home décor.  There is very little of it. When I was a kid living at home, my mom had so much stuff, it was like being in a museum.  I think because her parents were from the Great Depression era, that way of thinking (never throw anything away) and decorating were a part of the baby boomer generation as well. So back then, in our house, you could always be sure that there was a knick knack of some sort occupying every flat surface that was available in the house, and it was my chore to dust it all!

Needless to say, when I became an adult and moved out on my own, I took a more minimalist approach to decorating. I do have some tchotchkes of my own that I display, but they are few and far between which means, there is a lot less to clean.

The following is a list of the best tools that I have found for dusting that make this chore easy and produce the best results.

1. Microfiber cloths. This wonder material is great for surfaces that you need to dust, but don’t want to put any cleaner on. I use this cloth to knock the dust off of my T.V.s; table top glass framed pictures; and it does wonders getting all the pet hair off of our leather couch.

2. Orphaned, cotton socks. Slip one of these babies over your hand and you now have a 2 sided polishing cloth to use with your furniture polish. The great thing about this tool, is once the sock becomes to dirty and dusty, simply pull it off your hand and replace with a clean one.  Since we are a family of 7, we seem to have an abundance of these dusting cloths, if you don’t have many in your inventory, I am quite sure you can ask friends or family to start saving them for you, even though you might get some strange looks.

3. Walmart’s, Great Value, Furniture Polish. After many years of dusting and trying many different products, this furniture polish is my all time favorite because it works great! It doesn’t go on heavy so it does not leave a thick residue behind. It leaves my furniture dust free with a nice, streak free shine to it; and the answer is NO… I am not getting compensated to say this.

4. Ostrich feather duster. I love this tool, I use it every week, sometimes 2 times a week to dust the whole house (if the spirit moves me)without using my furniture polish and cotton socks. It is easy and I can glide through my entire house and dust off all surfaces in less than 15 minutes. I generally use the polish and sock method about once every 4 to 6 weeks. A helpful note: only use 100% ostrich down feathers for the best results.  Ostrich down is softer, more pliable, and more valuable than run-of-the-mill feathers. Forget cheap synthetic dusters, brightly dyed chicken-feather dusters, or even regular ostrich feathers. They don’t work.

You might be asking; what is the best way to keep these tools clean?…glad you asked.  To remove the dust from your feather duster, simply take it outside and shake it upside down vigorously. If you require a more thorough cleaning of the duster you may use warm soapy water, followed by a clean water rinse, then hang to dry.

For both your cotton socks and microfiber cloths, proper care is a snap. No fabric softener, no bleach, no heat – that’s all you have to remember! Wash in the washing machine with detergent only. Tumble them dry on low heat or no heat.

Now let me add that these aren’t all the tools I use for my deep spring cleaning, all of them make an appearance during that time, but a few more come out as well, but that is another article to be had later on and just a reminder that these products are meant to be used in this fashion for maintenance of your dusting needs. If you have neglected your dusting duties and are starting from a position with a few inches of dust on your surfaces, you will need a deep cleaning first, and then you can maintain your clean surfaces with these 4 products.