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Clutter Post

This is going to be one of those all-over-the-place kinds of posts.


And I don’t know where to start.


OK maybe I do…that’s a great segue into organization.


I’m a super organized person. I believe there is a place for everything and if there isn’t then I don’t need it. But to understand the kind of organizer I am, you need to know where I came from.


I grew up in a family of pack rats. Not just my immediate family, but the extended family as well. And I have a good-sized extended family. Not hoarders exactly, but our family motto was probably “I might need this someday”.


We didn’t have junk drawers – we had junk rooms.


Who am I kidding? There were junk drawers too.


I don’t recall ever living in a home where we could actually park in the garage – assuming it had one. That doesn’t mean we didn’t. I just honestly don’t remember it.


It wasn’t dirty per se, but it wasn’t clean either really. And I definitely grew up in homes where the roaches didn’t bother to scatter when you turn on the lights.


My personal space was always as tidy and organized as I could get it, but I kept things too.


But we also moved around a lot. Like, a lot a lot. Like 18 times before I graduated high school a lot. So I was constantly getting rid of stuff because I didn’t want to pack and un-pack it.


My parents on the other hand? I think they would just add more boxes each move and not bother to unpack them.


This is all probably why I have always been obsessed with shows like Hoarders and Clean House and more recently Tidying Up with Marie Kondo.


When someone comes into my home for the first time, I usually get compliments on how clean it is. Or tidy. And I won’t lie – it makes me happy when someone says that.


Want to know my secret?


I don’t keep things just in case anymore.


I don’t believe in holding on to something because I might need it someday. There are a few exceptions. I have entertaining dishes I don’t use on the daily. Obviously, holiday décor is a big one. And I have a few plastic bins of purely sentimental items that I’ve allowed myself.


But for the most part, if I have it, I use it.


I was almost completely unpacked when I moved into my apartment within days. The exceptions were a few boxes of books and shoes. I needed something to organize the shoes. And I got rid of a few more pair. And I still need another bookcase, but I am down to just one box of books left.


Because everything is out. I use my belongings as décor. Most of the books I have are the ones I love the most, or honestly they just look really pretty on my shelf.


When I outgrow clothes/get tired of them I donate them to charity. I don’t keep them around.

And living in a smaller space helps keep all of that in check too. I don’t have a place to put anything extra really.


But because of how I grew up, I understand not everyone is like me.


I understand that it can be overwhelming when you want to make a change and you don’t know where to start.


I’m helping a friend downsize and get organized. I’ve done this before, even briefly tried to make a go of it professionally but couldn’t really figure out how to get started (yes, I see the irony). I helped my mom downsize when my dad got sick. And that was a challenge that included her insisting on going through an entire DRAWER of just writing utensils to check and see which pens worked and which ones were duds. We are talking literally hundreds of pens.


Pro-tip – throw out the entire drawer. Buy yourself a 12 pack of pens at Wal-Mart, use that souvenir mug you refuse to drink out of (but also refuse to throw away) as a pen cup, and voila! You know where a pen is, and you are using something you love that’s just been sitting in the back of the cupboard.


The first step in organizing is understanding that no amount of organizing is going to help if you have too much stuff. You have to get rid of things.


Do you really need a flatware service for 16 if you live alone? I’m not suggesting you get down to just one, but you definitely don’t need 16. Especially if you never entertain. My personal rule of thumb is a service for the number of people you can sit at your table, plus 2 in case anything gets lost or damaged.


For me, I can currently squeeze 6 people around my table. It might be cozy, but it can be done. So when I moved last year, I kept a service for 8 in flatware, dishes, and glasses. Anything over that is superfluous.


I could probably make a case that 8 is too many since I don’t entertain much anymore but I’m working on that. We’ll get to that later.


Also, if you can’t remember when you bought something or when you last used it, you probably don’t really need it. Especially if it is still in the original packaging.


But where to start? I always suggest one room at a time. If you think about it on the whole – I need to de-clutter and organize my entire home – you might never do it. It’s too big an undertaking so you just keep living with it as is.


Start small. But a room you use. Kitchen or bathroom is a great start. We just started with a kitchen. And yes – at first glance it was intimidating. But I started with one small section of the countertop. I made a stack of paper products (bills, instruction books, etc) to go through. While those were being weeded through, I went around and found all of the medicines and put them in a box – that was next.


If it is expired, please throw it away. Just do it.


I should also note we had the expiration date talk prior to my arrival. Do you believe in expiration dates? I do. Is it wasteful? Maybe. But I’ve also gotten a terrible sunburn using expired SPF so…


I know some people think they are a hoax designed to get you to buy more product. That’s a decision that only you can make. But I stand firmly by my statement. If it is expired, throw it away.


Having that talk prior to my arrival made going through some of the cabinets much easier. Almost all of the spices were expired. I believe the oldest confirmed date was 1978.


Seriously. Tucked in a back corner of a higher shelf but it was there.


We easily reduced the amount of spices just by throwing out the expired ones. Yes, rebuilding will need to happen, but the good thing is, there is room to grow.


Also stop buying spices in bulk unless you really and truly need that much onion powder in your life. Odds are those things will expire long before you use all of it so all that money you saved wasn’t really saved was it? And those bulk containers take up so much room.


And one more thing - I try to buy the same brand of spices/seasonings because it is easier to organize when the packaging is all the same size/shape.


Once we started cleaning off the counter-tops – one section at a time – and once we started having room in the cabinets, it was sort of a snowball effect. It became easier and easier to let go of things that were no longer needed.


Also, take everything out of the cabinet. Looking at your dishes? Don’t say well I know I am keeping that so I’m not taking it out. Touch everything. I know Marie Kondo says that too and only keep items that spark joy (and that’s a bit challenging when doing a kitchen or bathroom cleanse). But I am looking at it more from a practical standpoint. Once you take 16 cereal bowls out of the cabinet – yes, even if it is a matching set – you will have a harder time putting that many back in if you know you don’t really need them.


Also you can use this opportunity to wipe down the inside of the cabinet and put in shelf liner if you don’t already have it. And shelf liner is cheap. You can literally get it at the dollar store. Buy something fun and colorful to brighten up your cabinets.


And may I also suggest you stop hoarding Chick-fil-A sauces, Whataburger Fancy Ketchup, and soy sauce? Do you ever really go back and use those?


I’m pleased to say that within 10 hours over 2 days we had done a complete overhaul of this kitchen. We have several boxes set aside to donate/sell. Multiple bags of trash. And now that the kitchen is done, and it really wasn’t that bad, we are ready to move on to the next room.


I'd also like to state right here that I was there for moral support, a little tough love, and guidance but my friend did all of the work. You can't let someone else de-clutter for you.


Here’s a few more tips: stop collecting coffee mugs or use them for display. It’s ok to have a collection but if they are just stuck in a cabinet what’s the point? You know you drink out of the same 4 mugs anyway.


Do not hang onto something just because it was a gift. If you hate it or don’t use it or no longer need it, pass it along to someone else (by donation, don’t re-gift). Odds are your aunt doesn’t even remember giving that to you 15 years ago.


Stop saving things because your kid(s) might want it someday. They probably won’t. Unless it is really special and unique like I have a toybox that my Grandpa made for me when I was little. I recovered it for my boys and I still have it to pass down to my grandkids someday.


Technically Susie is storing it for me because I don’t have the space. But it still applies.


Once you have de-cluttered, you can get organized. Put things where they make sense and you are more likely to put it away properly the next time you use it.


That’s my next big secret. I don’t really clean a lot. I don’t have to. Because I always take the time to put things away properly.


OK – maybe not always. But usually. Again, living in a smaller space encourages that but my house in Hutto was much bigger and you could walk in without notice just about any time/day and it would still look the same.


If you only keep what you need/use, and if everything has its place, it’s easy to keep up with it. Don’t put dirty dishes in the sink. Put them in the dishwasher. Recycle the junk mail. Go paperless with your bills.


As for cleaning – like actual cleaning – I probably don’t do that as often as I should. But you don’t notice because everything is tidy.


So if you need help de-cluttering/organizing, give me a call. I'm happy to help - and if you can toss me a few bucks for the help, even better.


Moving on. For now. I’ll provide more tips when we move on to the next space.


I’m having my first dinner party this weekend. I’m super excited about it.


Daniel and I started having dinner parties a few years ago. We had the space, so why not? We’d have 6-8 friends over for dinner, drinks, and games once a month. And it was so fun. But then he started traveling more and it became harder to find time to do it so we eventually stopped.


I missed it.


So I’ve invited a couple of couples to join Rob and I at my place on Saturday night. It’ll be cozy having 6 around the table but we can do it. I’m going comfort food this time around – pot roast, mashed potatoes, and green beans. For dessert I am planning some kind of cake so I can decorate it using my new Russian tips that I still haven’t figured out how to use. Wish me luck!


I think I have a ghost.


A ghost cat, to be specific.


There have been times when I will hear a noise and my first thought is Spike and then I dismiss it because I am a rational person and Spike is gone.


And sometimes I think I see movement out of the corner of my eye but I don’t because I live alone and Spike is gone. That’s just me missing him, right?


But then this happened.


See the tiny holes?

Spike was declawed – don’t @ me about how that is wrong. I know it is. But it was done when he was young and he never suffered any ill effects from it. And neither did my furniture or carpet or walls. And he was a strictly indoor cat (or he was supposed to be). And I'll do it again when I get another cat someday.


He still had his back claws though and I can’t tell you how many shirts I had that would get ruined from him sitting in my lap and digging those back claws in.


Tiny little holes.


In that exact same spot.


In that exact same pattern.


So? Why you getting all freaked out Suzanne?


Because I just bought this t-shirt. I just took the tags off it and wore it for the first time. This is not an old shirt. And it wasn’t exactly cheap either.


Now you tell me how those tiny little holes got there.


I’ve already had a talk with my ghost kitty asking him not to ruin any more shirts.


And finally. The part some of you have been waiting for. What did that Facebook post mean?


Daniel announced yesterday that the French Whore has an interview to come and live permanently in the US in March with the intention of moving here (presumably to Connecticut) a few weeks later. And then they are going to be married. By Lanie.


I do have a lot of thoughts and feelings about this news and they aren't all friendly so I will keep them to myself. And I appreciate everyone passing this information along. Really. I do. I like seeing those posts now. If only because of how barf-worthy they are to me.


I think it is disgusting that he is painting himself to be this long-suffering husband that finally has a bright ray of sunshine in his life. And that he allows people to think he “deserves to finally be happy” as if he was miserable before rather than set the record straight. Because he doesn’t want his fans to know what a garbage person he truly is.


Whatever.


I knew this was coming. So, it doesn’t come as a surprise. And it truly isn’t upsetting. Because I don’t care.


I wish them all the happiness they deserve.


And I don’t care if you are a #Swiftie or not, this song is literally perfect for me and this situation. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6RV8kLMYizM


It isn’t love, it isn’t hate, its just indifference.


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