My family room – the before pictures

I don’t have my after pictures ready as I am still working on this room.  Three garbage bags full of donations to take to the Salvation Army tomorrow morning, 1 1/2 totes to set aside to sell.  Since we’ve moved to this home – quite a bit has been removed – giant toybox, 3 book shelves (1 remains), a very large computer desk, plants, and more.  At one point we had a narrow walkway to get from the door to the large bathroom.  We probably would have turned the large bathroom into a closet if it weren’t for the cat (litter box and feed station in the bathroom) and for the bunny who is in the bathroom (much calmer – was overly anxious all the time before.  I believe it’s from being a daycare bunny.)

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Roughly a third of our home was unusable because of the clutter and chaos.  Also – there are no pictures of any room at it’s worst.  and these pictures are how we lived when no one was looking.  I would have never let even family who didn’t live with us see these rooms like this.  We were very, very good and stashing and dashing.  closets bursting at seems – comments about having a lot of stuff but never would I show anyone this.

Here is picture 2 – our plant is no longer with us.  We’ve had this neglected plant for almost our whole marriage.  I didn’t want to get rid of it but also didn’t want to keep it.  plant and stand were sold at one of the yard sales this summer.  bookshelf given to my brother.  I imagine many items pictured are no longer in our home.

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Our vacuum cleaning not put away but near the walkway so we can get to it.  a solitary dress on a garment rack.  nothing goes together and it’s all chaos.

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We have this gorgeous furniture set – my husband’s computer desk and matching book shelf.  beautiful set – was a yard sale find.  We obviously don’t take care of it.  it’s loaded down with too many items.  red bins on top full of stuff, piles everywhere.

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Okay so I couldn’t just post these and not give you some progress –

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Closet (taken in March) – kitchen set sold.  sewing box sold.  pink box full of motivation/ improvement audio CDs – donated to my work.  Will show updated pictures of the closet soon.

Now for some pictures I took about 10 minutes ago – I’ve been wanting to wait until it was “perfect” but I don’t really want to wait anymore.  I spent about 10 minutes straightening up before taking these pictures.

This first picture is what you see when you are looking into the room.  I’ve been going through things and decided that I’m separating out by who needs to make the decision to keep or get rid of.  The bright green bucket on the desk is my daughter’s items, the green tote underneath is my husband’s and the black (hunger games) bag next to it is mine.  The black cauldron still holds Halloween candy and once it’s empty will join the Halloween decorations in the shed.  The bag next to the desk is full of empty bags that were full of stuff.  The tall white totes next to the couch (2 of them) were full of stuff – now empty.

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Game shelf still full but not overflowing anymore as we purged a bit of games.

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Here is the tv from our bedroom – move to the family room so I can eventually exercise in here with the Wii fit and the Kinect.  Also – here is the printer stand and game shelf that was previously in the living room.  really cord heavy but eventually we will make it more attractive.  my husband’s bowling ball that he has yet to put away in the closet.

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some totes chilling where they don’t belong – empty green tote, white tote has yard sale items, gray tote next to it has our winter stuff – hats, gloves, scarves, boots, coats, etc., large gray tote has my daughter’s toys that she isn’t ready to part with but doesn’t fit in her room – going to the shed until she is ready to part with them or wants to switch out her toys.  white box full of empty bottles for homemade laundry soap and fabric softener to give away.  bag is full of stuff I still need to sort through.

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The picture below was not taken tonight but gives you a good idea on how it’s looking now.  my husband has decided to sell these two pieces of furniture which means we have to decide what to keep and what to get rid of.  red baskets still full of stuff.  shelves have less books than before.  those plastic shoeboxes are full of art supplies that we actually use.  he is also taking about selling his computer and buying a laptop.

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I wanted to share the dryer balls my husband and I have been making!  still need to be felted.

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My living room – the update!

Living Room

Our living room is definately better.  More or less it’s similar to my previous numbers posting.  We have removed most of the video games out of this room. (now in the family room)

We kept the PS3 in this room so we can watch netflix and movies.  I liked the bins so much in my daughter’s room that I bought one for the living room.  I chose not to put the top two baskets in so that I could use the shelves as a place to display my favorite Christmas decorations.  I could never be a minimalist with no Christmas decorations but I did realize that I also don’t need four totes full.

Usually our living room is plastered with holiday stuff to where it’s overwhelming.  not so much this year.

As you can tell there is quite a bit less here than before.  7 of our favorite Christmas decorations are on the two shelves but my snowman sitting on the floor next to Jack’s bed.  The PS3, two controllers, tv controller and surge protector make up the other items pictured.  Want to know what’s in the basket?  Two Christmas collection DVD sets for easy access!  Hanging on the wall is my TV and my picture frame.  It seems cord heavy in the picture but we will have to make due.

Second view – our Christmas tree full of ornaments and a newly aquired tree topper to replace our beloved but broken tree topper.  our snowman tree skirt, a wooden santa, our recliner with my husband’s sweatshirt and coat.  Two pictures hang on the wall – will be moving them to a better location eventually.  Hidden behind the recliner are two folding tables for when we have parties for my daughter.

This is what you see when you walk into our living room.  our couch was moved because my husband wanted to see the tv better so it no longer rests flat against the wall.  my laptop and a tiger pillow on the couch and my cat sleeping.  9 pictures hanging on the wall and blinds but nothing hanging from the ceiling anymore.  Our cat’s tower against the wall.

behind the couch – jack’s crate with his blankets, toys and treats.  Our bench to the kitchen table and 4 of my daughter’s favorite toys for Christmas.

Hidden on the window sill are about 15 acorn squash and mini pumpkins.  I’m going to have to throw these in the woods soon as they will be rotten before long.

So another glimpse of my life – not minimalist, not a hoarder but comfortable and lived in.  My living room makes me happy

Minimalism, Lagom and Hoarding

I know you are probably wondering what minimalism, lagom and hoarding have in common – most would say that minimalism and hoarding are the complete opposites but I believe they have a lot in common.  Does stuff or the lack of stuff make people happy?  I imagine many would say yes.  I believe that with either it’s always about one more thing.  One more thing to acquire or one more thing to purge.  it never seems to be enough.  walking through the stores thinking will this item make me happy?  walking through the house thinking will this item need to leave my house?  Either way it’s about that strong urge to focus on stuff (or the lack thereof).

Lagom however is this wonderful Swedish word that roughly translates to just the right amount.  Hoarding can be too much stuff.  Minimalism can be too little stuff but Lagom is just the right amount.  If 100 items is just the right amount for you to where you don’t feel deprived and you don’t feel overwhelmed then that’s your number or those are your things that you need.  If 5,000 items is just right for you to fit your needs (a crafter maybe? with a large family) then that’s your number.  However it’s not about the number at all it’s more about having what you need no more no less.  For each person this is different.

So with Lagom it is okay to buy new things, it’s okay to own things and it’s okay to be at peace with things as long as it’s the right things for you.  Be happy with embracing enough, embracing equality and sharing of resources by donating items that no longer fit you and your lifestyle, resist the call for too much or too little.

I’ve decided that instead of trying to reach for this unattainable goal of living a minimalist life with my unwilling husband and daughter that I should strive for a Lagom life and be confident that if we keep what we love, enjoy and use that our home will be comfortable and happy.

My home update

I will admit that as I’ve been purging and decluttering that I am happier but is it about giving up the stuff or is it a combination of everything I’ve been going through.  I still think too much about stuff and I’m not okay with that.  I still feel the strong urge to acquire and have actually bought more since starting on this process.  I still feel the strong urge to declutter and get rid of stuff.  Now don’t get me wrong, the number of my items in my home have been steadily decreasing but some of the quality has been increasing.  quality involves more money put into the item.  We got rid of hundreds of items with our last yard sale.  so we rushed off to the store and bought a keurig.  we love it and my husband uses it daily.  so definitely a good purchase.  the kcups are expensive and although we have a reusable filter my husband prefers the cups.  reoccurring “luxury” costs.  still takes up less room than all the other stuff.  this awesome coffee machine creates the urges to buy MORE!  Now that we have this lovely machine sitting on our counter I want to buy a lovely display rack to store the cute little cups in.  We haven’t bought it but I want it.  Hate the wanting.  I want to not want.

The kitchen has less stuff in it but it still gets messy so fast.  I buy food that we don’t really need because I have a food obsession and often feel deprived based on the trauma of my past.  We have less dishes but still hate to wash the ones we have.  We have less bakeware – this one is hard for me as I want to buy more.  We don’t need more than 1 cookie sheet or 1 cupcake pan or more cookware than we have but I WANT it.  I am really trying to justify buying a few loaf pans but I don’t really need them.  When I was at my mom’s house I baked three delicious little loaves of bread so now I want them to bake bread at home but in reality I always have frozen bread dough but rarely do I ever make loaves of bread with it.  I use it to make rolls, or pizza, or pull apart bread or any number of things but very rarely would I make loaves of bread.

One recent purchase that I absolutely love is my rice cooker/ food steamer.  I use it frequently, it’s super easy to use and to clean and it makes more than just rice.  I made quinoa today and it turned out perfectly.

My daughter’s room

We got rid of lots in my daughter’s room but spent money upgrading her things.  We got rid of her rather large toy box and replaced it with this rather cute set of drawers which holds considerably less toys.  She is amazed at how much more room she has to play in her room.  She is spending more time playing now that she has less stuff!  The toy box she purged was one of those long outdoors storage benches made out of plastic – they hold a lot of stuff.  She is ready to get rid of it completely but I’m not.  We put it outside next to the shed and I put her roller skates, moon shoes and the fishing poles and tackle box in here.  Better than them being all scattered about.

She wasn’t ready to part with most of her toys though so I bought a large tote to store these toys in the shed until she is ready to part with them.  She was able to choose what toys went into the bins for her room and what toys went into storage.

One thing she purged from her living room was her bed frame.  strange – and sometimes i worry what people would think of my daughter’s mattresses being on the floor but she is happy with it and it makes her room look bigger.  I like it because nothing disappears under her bed anymore.  I also like it because we are not banging into the metal frame anymore.  (the polly pocket toys all fit in a bin so when her room is picked up the only toys you see are the three babies on top and the stuffed animals in her net.)  so her room bit by bit is getting to where it needs to be.

 

 

My Bookshelf

So this is what I’ve noticed.  I’ve been paring down my books since my husband gave me my ereader.  Books that made the cut last yard sale weren’t so lucky today.  I pulled everything off the shelves and took a good long look at each book.  I had to really ask myself if I would ever read or use the book.  I then had to ask myself if my daughter would ever read or use the book.  I forced myself to be honest with myself and some of my “favorites” are just dust collectors.  Many more cookbooks landed into the yard sale box.  A handful of parenting books and self-help books landed in the box.  Most of my case worker books are in the box.  I figured if I don’t know how to be a case worker by now then I’m definitely in the wrong field.  My life skills books that I swore I’d never part with are in the box.  I simply don’t use them enough to justify the space they take up on my shelf.  I’m hoping someone who will put them to good use will find them.

I have about 8 books that I’m undecided on.  Most were recently purchased but I haven’t read them yet.  I have them in a pile on the book shelf so that once I read them I can either pass them along or add them to the keep shelf.  I may need to pick a date and if I haven’t started any of them I may as well part with them.

You know what’s strange?  My hoarding part of my brain is starting to flare up big time.  I think the purging is starting to trigger it.  It’s especially bad with the books.  I rarely crack open a cook book.  I either cook what I know or look it up online.  I rarely use a craft or activity book unless it’s colorful and illustrated.  Typically I go online for ideas.  I’ve been switching out my favorite physical copies of books for digital copies to free up more room plus I enjoy reading them more on the ereader.  Here’s where the hoarding monster comes in – disaster, survivalist scenarios in where there’s no way to recharge my laptop or ereader.  with no electricity I will lose all my books and have nothing to read.  Writing it out makes it seem even more ridiculous because if there were a catastrophe I would unlikely be reading but trying to survive and two, if there were a major disaster I doubt that I would last long considering my cardio skills suck.  If there were a zombie outbreak I’d be the tasty treat or the fat girl who trips and falls and gives the fitter people in my group an extra few moments to get away.

Here’s a sore spot – my bookshelf is fairly clear and has some open space.  my family sees this as a drop spot.  I need to create a habit of boomeranging their items from my space or shared spaces to their spaces.  This rings especially true for my daughter.

We always work better when we have goals in mind so today my husband and I came up with our wish list.  These are expensive items that we need/ want so I wrote them down so that I stop wasting money on items not on this list.  We can’t afford to take on new debt so we are left with the following options to pay for the following list – we can sell our clutter/ excess possessions, we can cut back on our spending to include food purchases, we can find alternative ways to increase our income (try to sell my husband’s jewelry he makes on etsy/ try to sell more of our photos and graphic designs on cafepress) and reevaluate the list periodically to see if these items are still important to us down the line.

Here’s our list – the first one is our top priority right now due to problems with our current vehicle.

  • A car – I definitely need something more fuel-efficient and something smaller than what we are currently using.  A car would use up less gas than our jeep and the tires will be cheaper when we need to replace them.
  • Fix the Jeep – tires, a windshield plus some other things needed.  Once we get the car the Jeep will be the back up vehicle.  We were going to try selling the Jeep but if there is an emergency with my daughter and I’m at work it could take an hour or more for me to get home (40 miles from home to office).  some of my visits are much further away.
  • Fix the external hard drive –  the larger dog we used to have knocked this on the ground and broke it.  It’ll cost about $2000 to recover our photos off of this.  about 7 years of photos that we are hoping are recoverable.
  • Upgrade camera – my husband and I are hobbyist photographers.  He wants to be a professional photographer but we just aren’t there.  Tonight we discussed what we needed to do to become better photographers.  We need to practice, practice and practice some more.  We are not as good as we used to be.  I haven’t taken the time to learn my new camera (my camera recently broke and we had to replace it).  I can tell you this much though – it’s way too slow and works lousy in low lighting.  It seems like my husband has gotten sloppy with his work.  The lighting is off, the posing is off, angles are bad.  We also should upgrade both of our cameras but we need to at least upgrade mine.
  • Upgrade photography equipment – some filters, a new flash, etc.
  • Another AC unit.  It’s so hot and our window unit in the living room is just not enough anymore.  My husband really wants one for the bedroom since he’s been struggling with sleeping due to the heat.
  • Paint the walls in the house.

I also thought it would be helpful to write down how I want to be spending my time so that when I’m trying to declutter I can see if it fits into my categories.

How I want to spend my free time

  • NOT CLEANING
  • Working on adding designs to cafepress
  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Gardening

This list came rather quickly to me and there were a few things that surprised me.  Gardening came without hesitation which means my OCD exercises are working.  Gardening would not have come anywhere near this list this time last year.  That area of OCD is weakening and I am getting stronger.  Three of my four activites are solo activites.  I went to write down “playing games” but the urge really isn’t there.  I’ll play if my husband or my daughter asks me to but it’s not as strong as it used to be.  Arts and crafts are no longer on this list.  I think it was my fantasy self who liked these activities – the person who I wanted to be but not who I actually am.  I really just want some time to myself, to read, think, process and write.  I want to have outings with my husband and daughter, eat meals together, spend some time talking together but I need time alone as well.