Urban Adaptation

Sustainable urban living, rural dreams, and daily change for a homemade life.

Posts Tagged ‘clutter

Clearing house

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A long time ago, in a land far away…

(Really, just a few years, and pretty much right here…)

…was a girl who really, really liked cool vintage stuff.

And so she went to thrift stores and she bought lots and lots of cool vintage stuff.  Glasses.  Casserole dishes.  Dresses.  Jewelry.  Furniture.  Blankets.  Lamps.  Purses.  Dishes.

Her vintage things were lovely – well made, interesting, and like nothing else that most other people would have (this girl liked things that were somewhat unique).  But she felt a little silly wearing much of the clothing, since she was really more a t-shirt and jeans kind of girl.  And some of the dishes had hairline cracks, so they couldn’t be heated too much.  And some of the linens had holes, or stains, or were just difficult to wash spaghetti sauce out of.  And some of the things that were lovely and perfect and mint, well, she was just afraid to use those, lest they get damaged.

And so, the girl wound up with an apartment full of vintage things that weren’t used, plus a whole lot of semi-equivalent items that were.  And although it never came anywhere close to those scary homes that show up on Hoarders, it became more difficult to clean and manage.

As is probably very obvious, that girl is me.  A love of vintage and a love of collecting combined with the need to have things around that I actually use and a general unwillingness to get rid of anything that still has use in it (even if I’m not actually using it) has made for a full apartment (and this is before we even start talking about the many, many books that live here too).

Now, I try to buy only what I need and have a specific use for.  If I need something, I still usually try to look for something cool and vintage, but also something that’s sturdy and will last well and that I’ll be willing to use (in all honestly, though, in almost all cases function wins out over form these days, although I appreciate the form of the functional in a whole new way – ask me about how much I love my dutch oven, for instance).  These days, that means more cast iron, stainless steel, and heavy glass than anything else.

But I do have my eye on some things that I want to buy, things that I think will be useful.  They will, however, also take up space.  Which means making space.  Which also means going on the warpath again and getting rid of yet more stuff.

I’m trying to keep in mind other benefits too, though.  Getting rid of things means it’s easier to keep this place clean.  It also means more room for things that are more important, such as food, water, and tools.  If I have to move, either for work or for lack of work, it will be easier and less expensive to move fewer things.  More space and tidiness means I’m happier at home, which makes it more likely that I will want to spend time here, which is usually far more frugal than going out.  And less stuff means more room for the projects and activities (and stuff that goes along with them) that help me be more frugal, like the seeds starting on the coffee table, and the sourdough starter, ginger beer starter, and sprouts I have in the kitchen.

This is not something that comes naturally to me at all, but it’s something that needs to be done, and something that I’ve talked about before.  Although I’m currently too busy to set defined goals, I’m trying to get a few things into the donation pile each day, to tidy up here and there, and to consciously think about what I really want and need in my life.

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Written by Jenn

March 21, 2011 at 12:43 pm

In for a penny

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In support of a few November efforts (The Anyway Project and 10×30), I’ve also decided to have another month of no spending beyond the basics.

I hesitate to call this a project unto itself.  While I suppose it is, as cutting back on spending can be a challenge, it’s really to facilitate tightening up my finances a bit more and not bringing anything new into the apartment as I try to clear some things out.  Beyond possibly needing a few work clothes and having my eye on a very few specific books, there’s nothing that I need right now, and working from within a framework of “enough” should help to keep spending and clutter at bay as I work through a few different areas of life.

And so, let the games begin.  The goal?  Basically, no spending on anything beyond rent, utilities, and food for the month.  I’m also looking for ways to reduce these costs a bit more as well, but that’s another post for another time.  I also have more to say about both projects, but it’s late here, and sleep beckons.  So for now, I rest content in the decision to cut back shopping (well, what little left that I do in the way of shopping, anyway) that little bit more, and to hopefully reap the rewards.

Written by Jenn

November 3, 2010 at 2:11 am

November challenge – 10×30

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With some of my work wrapping up, my schedule freeing up, and my state of mind loosening up, I’m looking for a new challenge.  I keep talking about doing another serious purge of the apartment, and since I’m feeling pretty motivated, I think this might be the right time to really start getting things in good order.

The apartment usually isn’t that messy, but there’s more stuff in here than I’d like, it does get away from us occasionally, and ‘d like to clear some of it out.  Less stuff means easier to clean and tidy.  Less stuff also means more room for hanging out, and yoga, and friends over, and all that good stuff.  It would be nice for The Boy to have a bit more space.  Also, I know that at some point I will likely have to move for work, and the more I can get rid of now, the better (moving just the books is likely to be a bit of a nightmare).

I’m calling this challenge to myself (and to you too, if you’d like to join in) 10×30.  The goal?  Getting rid of 10 things a day for 30 days for a total of 300 things out of the apartment for good.  Of course, in order to keep things on the level it’s not like I can get a whole lot of new things in either.  So, in addition to 10×30, I’m also going to make sure that if I do get anything new, an equivalent item has to leave (this is above and beyond the 10 per day that I’m shooting for).  Clothing in, clothing out.  Books in, books out.

While I have a few suspects already lined up for removal (have to start on the right foot) this will be a challenge.  I like my things, and I sometimes have a hard time getting rid of stuff in the moment, even though it almost always feels good after the fact.

As an incentive and to keep myself motivated, I’m going to keep track of things here.  Maybe with photos, if I can get my camera working, but I’ll definitely be monitering my progress – it might be every day, if I can swing it, or I might just make it a weekly thing, which also gives me the opportunity to anticipate or compensate for busy days by doing the work ahead of time or after the fact.  In any case, there will be updates and reports and all of that fun stuff as I look to purge some more stuff from life that just doesn’t need to be here anymore.

Off we go…

Written by Jenn

October 30, 2010 at 12:29 pm

Clearing the clutter

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With a season spent largely indoors looming infront of me, I find myself thinking more about rearranging and settling in.  I also find myself thinking about clearing out as well, though, in an effort to make a bit more space to comfortably spend my time at home.

With many interests and things on the go, I tend to have a lot of stuff kicking around as well (not that many interests inherently leads to a lot of stuff necessarily, but in my case, it certainly tends to.)  There are knitting and sewing materials, cooking utensils and cookbooks, musical instruments, art supplies, and DVDs and books.  There’s also vastly different clothing – almost one set for teaching and academic life, and another for bumming around the house, exercising, and mucking around outside.

I also tend to hold onto things.  Long-standing and deep-seated fears about having enough and ideals about using things up means I tend to hold onto a lot and, in some cases, acquire a lot, especially from the thrift store (together, this can be a deadly combo.)  Combined with a hyper-awareness of the state of the economy, the threat of Peak Oil, and all manner of other cheery little topics makes me want to hold on to what I have, just in case.  And so there are snow boots, warm coats, wool blankets, a food dehydrator, food stores, oil lamps, and all manner of other sustainable living-type things for just-in-case.

But at this point, knowing that a move may be in my future strikes a bit of fear in my heart.  The thought of moving just the books alone is terrifying, let alone the wealth of stuff that also happens to be kicking around here.  Plus, I just plain old don’t like feeling surrounded and tied down by things.  And I do.  I very much do at times.

So, a project lies ahead.  A long, slow one, I’m thinking.  One where I slowly and steadily complement my reduced spending and shopping with the process of weeding out what I no longer want or need to keep in my life.

No two ways about it, this will be a tough one.  It’s been tough before, and it’ll be tough again.  There’s not much that I can’t justify keeping, but stuff needs to go, plain and simple.  Fewer clothes, fewer books, fewer dishes and pots, fewer random bits and pieces and whatever else is hiding away in the back corners of the apartment.

I’m thinking that come the start of November, when things really cool off and the craziness of October has, with any luck, abated a bit, I’ll be working to either get rid of a set number of things a day (5?  10?), or work my way through a small portion of the apartment (a shelf or drawer, maybe) and get rid of what I can.  Then, rinse and repeat.

The process has to be slow.  Getting all up in my stuff’s face, as it were, doesn’t tend to work well all at once, and does little more than leave me frustrated and with a messier place than when I started.  So, the ideal is bit by bit, hopefully daily, but at least weekly.  As for the overall goal, I don’t know what that is yet, but I’ve considered before, and am considering again, whether 25 percent of what I own would be too much of a stretch.  It would go a long way towards lightning the load and making me feel a lot better, but it might be frustrating or unrealistic to expect so much.

And so I think, and I plan, and for now I get back to the writing and editing that needs to be done while in the back of my mind I start plotting what can make its way out of my life and into someone else’s.

Written by Jenn

October 16, 2010 at 10:33 pm