Thursday, October 9, 2014

Even Mrs. Kravitz would agree!

Does your email inbox look like mine?  I have 9,789 items in my file I label "bacn" or bacon! That's where all my direct and promotional emails are sent.  These emails represent "the perfect storm" of clutter.  I could try to go through them, but what useful purpose would that serve?  

I am well aware, these messages multiplying exponentially in my mailbox are my own fault.  I have undoubtedly signed up for these little notices and promotions.  Because signing up for them is so effortless, the volume of messages starts to escalate very rapidly and before you know it, you are completely overwhelmed and underprepared for the amount of work it takes to read them and/or dispose of them on a daily basis.  

The best solution, I need to open the messages and opt out.  That, of course, is easier said than done! 

Today's Items

This task feels daunting and the messages remind me of Mrs. Kravitz, the nosy neighbor from Bewitched - a popular sitcom from the 70's.  When you click on the opt out button, a dialogue box often pops up asking for the reason you don't want to receive the messages any more.  I can't help hearing my inner voice reply, "It's none of your beeswax."

Mrs. Gladys Kravitz - The Nosy Neighbor

After going through the opting out process on about 10 messages, I'd had enough.  I came to a decision.  Samantha, the main character from Bewitched often used magic to deal with Mrs. Kravitz.  I have the power to perform magic too.  I selected all the conversations.  Deleted, confirmed,  and deleted again.  And just like that, all the messages were sent to trash.  Even Google offered me a way out and gave me a chance to undo my email elimination.  I didn't relent, stuck to my guns and boy does it feel great to have a completely empty mailbox!

Moving forward, I will opt out of a few messages a day.  This is perfectly in line with the Only 3 Things A Day Challenge and maybe before long, I won't be getting all this junk email.  There is nothing like starting fresh!  Even Mrs. Kravitz would have to agree!  

So here we are on Day 8 and I have eliminated thousands of items that were cluttering up my life.  Hope you will join the challenge.  Remember, I will never judge you or all the stuff you have accumulated.  Together we can lighten our loads.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Need a pen? Good luck finding one!

Yesterday's junk drawer adventure led to the realization that I also have many, many pens, pencils, highlighters, and markers.  Of course, like most people, I cannot ever locate one of these items when I'm looking for one; and the follow-up - when I find one it is dry, broken, or out of lead.  I also find myself wondering about the large number of pens that are exotic ink colors like lime green or bright pink.

Today's Items
If pens and pencils were dollars, I'd be rich!

After discovering just how many writing instruments I have all over the house, I had to laugh, since I recently took a phone call from an insurance company and needed to write down a claim number and couldn't find a single pen.  It was comical.  The claims adjustor was a good sport, but it literally took me more than 2 minutes to find a working pen.  It felt like it took 2 hours.

Now that I have them all collected in one place.  It's time to do the boring job of testing them out.  All duds will land in the trash.  Can I tell, you this is not a fun job?  Scribbling all over paper to see if the ink is good or dried up was time consuming but worth it!

Scribble, scribble

After the testing, there are only about 35% of the pens, highlighters and markers that work.  The rest are trash.  The pencils were better and most worked or just needed sharpening.  I'm not sure we use pencils very much in this house.  Note to self:  DO NOT BUY MORE PENCILS.

It was a great feeling to get rid of all the duds,  Now, for a short period of time, at least, when I grab a pen out of the organizer I put right by the phone, it should work.  We should also be able to find one when we are looking for it.  Don't know how long it will last!

As of today - these all work.

Do you have trouble finding a working pen or pencil too?  This Only 3 Things A Day Challenge has certainly been entertaining.  My goal was to eliminate 900 things by the end of a year.  After today's purge, I'm pretty close to more than 300 items and it's only Day 7!

I'd love to hear from you if you are joining the challenge.  By the way, the challenge doesn't have to last a whole year for you - try it for a day, a week or just a month.  We all have unnecessary clutter.  Remember, I will never judge you or stuff you have accumulated.  Together we can lighten our loads.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Junk Drawers aren't just for junk.

Is a junk drawer really full of junk?  Upon inspection, my junk drawer does contain some junk - keys that go to long-forgotten locks, batteries that may or may not work,  nail clippers, spare hardware and items I absolutely cannot identify.

Today's Items


After an informal polling of friends today, everyone agrees that the junk drawer also contains miscellany.  Define miscellany, you might ask.  According to Merriam-Webster, miscellany is a mixture or a collection of different items.  It appears, I have miscellany in abundance.  There are items in the junk drawer that aren't junk, but have to go someplace, so they end up in the junk drawer.

In the picture above, there is this random plastic cup/lid.  I have an arrow pointing to it and the question, "what is this?"  I honestly don't know.  Did I save it consciously for a reason, or did it end up in the junk drawer because I couldn't think of anywhere else to put it?  If I were looking for it, whatever it is, would I look for it in the junk drawer?  How long should I hang on to it?  Will I need it?  And still I come back to the most pressing question, what the hell is it?  Seems silly, but I feel a little anxious about that crazy cup/lid thingy.  We will come back to this later.

There seem to be a lot of random batteries in my drawers too.  Do they work?  Is this Lone Ranger of a battery, a dud?  I am gathering these random batteries together and will purchase a testing device.  The duds will be disposed of properly and the good ones will be used.

Another item I seemed to have tucked into lots of drawers - nail clippers.  Here's a thought-provoking question - how many nail clippers does one family need?  And the follow-up question, why can't we ever find a nail clipper when we are looking for one?  This may be a life mystery I cannot solve here on the pages of a blog.  I have collected the clippers together and they are now in the drawer of my bathroom.  Hopefully, we will be able to find 1, or 2, or 3 in the coming months!

Keys appear to be troublesome as well.  We have many keys and not many locks.  I have the keys in a nice little ziplock bag.  Of course, they aren't marked and haven't been touched since I put them into the nice little ziplock bag.  Maybe I have hung on to the keys as a metaphor - you be the lock, I'll be the key.

Going to the trash.

Then there is the bag of spare parts.  These are the various screws, washers, nails, and plastic caps that are left over from build-it-yourself furniture.  We hang on to these little gems thinking we may need them one day.  Of course, we rarely do need them, and they mostly prick then end of your finger when you reach into the back of the drawer to find a nail clipper.

Spare Parts

So in keeping with the Only 3 Things A Day Challenge, I'm getting rid of the keys - there are many, many more than 3.  I am also getting rid of the spare parts, also accounting for more than 3 items.

I want to throw that unidentifiable plastic cup/lid out as well.  But I keep thinking, what if I need it someday.  Since the challenge isn't supposed to cause me any anxiety.  I am giving myself permission to hang on to it.  I promise to revisit the junk drawer, and the mysterious cap in about 6 months.  If I still haven't identified the cap and it's purpose by then - it's history.

What's your junk drawer look like?  Give yourself permission to sift out the junk and trash it.  Hang on to the miscellany, and please share any tips you have for keeping your clutter at bay.  Remember, I'll never judge you or all the stuff you have accumulated.  Together we can lighten our loads!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Do you have a case of disc mania - get ready for the cure!

It is clear, I have been hanging on to every old game,  program disc, CD and DVD we have ever purchased.  I suppose that some of them are "collectors' items", but undoubtedly most of them are just trash.  It's hard to believe we played all these games, used all these programs, listened to all these albums and watched all these movies.  When I look at the discs, I can understand why more and more programs, movies and music are going to the cloud.  In total, I collected over 100 really outdated discs!

Today's Items

Just a few of the many, many discs!

I looked for a way to repurpose these old discs and really couldn't find any good use for them.  There are a few websites that recommend using the discs as paint palettes.  I don't do much painting.  There's another site that recommends making mosaics or lamps out of the discs.  None of these ideas really floated my boat.  The one piece of information that was universal in my search - how toxic these discs are to our environment if they are not properly repurposed.  I don't know about you, but I'd like to leave this place in at least as good, if not better condition than when I arrived here!  Until I started looking, I honestly had no idea that it wasn't perfectly fine to just throw out an old disc.

Through divine intervention,  I stumbled on the CD Recycling Center of America.  Wow, this is quite the operation.  Just watching the video made me realize I should never throw out another disc and neither should you!  It's easy and free (except for the cost of the mailing box) to send my outdated program discs, game discs, dvd's and cd's to them and they will take care of the rest.  They will even take the empty jewel boxes.  The only work on my part:  separating the items into piles.

Again, the Only 3 Things A Day Challenge is changing me and making me think outside the box.  I actually feel really great about getting rid of these discs and sending them on to be repurposed.  My life will be clutter free and so will the environment.

I would love to hear from you if you decide to join the challenge!  Remember, I will never judge you or the stuff you have accumulated!  We need to stick together and lighten our loads!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Celery, carrots and grapes for dinner? Why not?

One of my biggest goals in the Only 3 Things A Day Challenge is to quit wasting things.  I know how lucky I am to live in America, the land of plenty.  I don't have to do any real hunting or gathering.  Everything in my life is really a convenience.  I honestly believe I should never complain about absolutely anything.  My life is luckily filled with those little things I shouldn't sweat.  That being said, I can do better.

Every week on garbage day, I go through the refrigerator and there is at least one thing I need to throw out because we didn't eat it before it became "sketchy".  Most weeks, I am ashamed to say, I find more than one thing. Today's not trash day, but I know I have some fruits and veggies I purchased that will be rotten by trash day if we don't eat them now.

I feel like my family is the worst about eating the fresh produce before it's overripe or rotten.  Why?  It's the food in the refrigerator that is absolutely the most healthy for us. So what's the answer?

Today's Items

It's time for new strategies.  First of all,  I have washed and prepped the produce instead of my usual washing it and prepping it as I use it.  Second, I have made it very clear we need to eat these items today.  I expect us to snack on them throughout the day and if there are any of carrots and celery left - they will go into the dinner recipe for tonight.  The grapes will be dessert.

I have to stand firm on this.  No budging.  We have to eliminate the waste of perfectly good food due to our laziness.  I could always go to the "starving children in a foreign country" argument, but the absolute best arguments are:

  • Time is money.  
  • Money is money.
  • You bought - you need to eat it.

The best thing about keeping this blog is the accountability.  Over time, I'll be able to review the promises I have made and check up on myself and how successful I am.  I'd love to hear about any successful strategies you have for avoiding food waste and the ultimate waste of money.

Hope you decide to join the challenge!  Remember, I will never judge you or the stuff you have accumulated!  We need to stick together and lighten our loads!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

GWP - Free Clutter!

If you purchase cosmetics from your local department store, you may have been the lucky recipient of a GWP or Gift With Purchase.  It's hard to walk through the Macy's without noticing the signs that remind you that it's Bonus Time at the Clinique counter. The ages-old premise is designed by the cosmetic companies to increase the amount you purchase.  It simply works like this -  you can go home with a pretty bag of small size products/goodies if you spend above a certain amount.  It's the Happy Meal for cosmetic users.  I often plan my purchases around these GWP's - because hey - who doesn't love something free?

Today's Items

I have an overabundance of the pretty little bags; eye make-up removers; weird-shaped cosmetic brushes that leave black hairs all over your face; and tubes of cleansers for acne-prone skin.  I save all these things - for trips I never take;  skin conditions I will never have; and out of town visitors that don't come to stay.  I have baskets and baskets of them in the GWP Graveyard!

The GWP Graveyard

Most of the potions and tubes have no dates on them, so who knows how long I have had them loitering around.  In fact, some of the products I recognize as no longer in production.  Many of the brushes are too exotic for a "plain vanilla" make-up girl like me.  I don't do any contouring, shading or spackling.

So what's my plan for these items?  After eliminating the items, I am sure are out of date or too old to be safe, I'm on the hunt for a woman's shelter in my area.  I will call around and find out if there's an emergency domestic abuse shelter that will take these items.  My fingers are crossed I can find somewhere for these products to land and to be used and appreciated.  I can only imagine how much space I will garner under my bathroom sink when I'm done!

Moving forward in my efforts to avoid clutter - even if it's free clutter.  I am going to avoid the GWP trap.  I might just find my bank account a little more flush by spending less money on that extra lipstick or eyeliner (an item I will undoubtedly never use) that I add to my purchase to get me to the spending threshold required to receive my GWP.  Emotionally, I think I will miss the freebies, but logically I know this is stuff I will never use!  My new mantra will have to be - "No more GWP for me."  Hope I can stick to my convictions.  Keep an eye out for me at the Lancome counter - and thump me upside the head if you see me fall off the wagon!  Just to test me, look at what came in the mail today!  I practiced self-control and put the card in the recycling bin.

Self control needed - the card went right to the trash!

Have you ever fallen prey to the GWP trap?  I'd love to hear if you have a clever way for using the items without waste and clutter.

Hope you decide to join the challenge!  Remember, I will never judge you or the stuff you have accumulated!  We need to stick together and lighten our loads!

Friday, October 3, 2014

It's expired, is there an app for that?

It's always surprising how many expired things I can find in my pantry and medicine chest. Even my cosmetics come with a little symbol that says 6m or 12m now - which is actually not very useful since I have no recollection when I purchased that face cream!  Some items that have expired don't cause me any anxiety.  I'm grateful we didn't use the entire bottle of Bactine.  That means we haven't been cutting and scraping ourselves much.   On a deeper level, I guess I should worry about the $4.99 that I spent for the Bactine that went to waste.  Soap and water would have mostly likely worked fine, but that discussion is for another time.

I also find myself wondering, what will happen to me if I use a health, beauty or food product after the expiration date?  Will it involve a digestive ailment, rash, disfigurement or worse?  I'd like to think I'm good about not letting things go to waste, but let's face it - we all have to clean out the refrigerator because something has grown green mold, gotten smelly or has expired before we can use it up.  I got to thinking, wouldn't it be great if there was an app for that?

I could wake up to my daily calendar and a message that says, "Don't forget to throw out that Cepacol Throat Spray, it's expired."  I choose this example because I found one in the medicine chest that expired in 2009!  Equally shameful is the Simply Saline that expired in 2008.  How clever Siri would be if she could help me out with the mayo on the refrigerator door that expired 3 months ago.

Today's Items

These items and many more expired items that I came across today in the medicine chest are going!  The empty containers that have the recycling symbol on the bottom will go into the recycling bin and the others will make their way to the trash.  Moving forward, I am going to use a Sharpie Marker to denote the expiration date of each item that's in the medicine chest in a conspicuous location.  Maybe this will help us to use these items up, or at least throw them out closer to the actual expiration date.

Does this happen to you?  A friend of mine who was inspired by my Only 3 Things A Day Challent sent me the photo below.  YES, it does say use before December 31, 1998!  It was from a box of beignet mix.  She happily reported that she threw it out!   

Let's keep setting ourselves free! I would love to hear from you if you decide to join the challenge!  Remember I will never judge you or the stuff you have accumulated!  We need to stick together and lighten our loads.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

The Challenge Begins

Like many middle class Americans, I have too much "stuff"!  I am not bragging, I am sheepishly admitting to my crimes and weaknesses.  I'm not ready for an episode of Hoarders yet, but I have recently found myself to be drowning in a sea of underused, dusty household items that were purchased over the course of my lifetime as part of my pursuit of the American Dream.  Stuff, stuff and more stuff.  For some crazy reason, my family and I have too much.  De-clutter needs to be my motto!

In an effort to simplify my life and reduce the amount of dusting required in my home, I have decided to challenge myself to throw away or give away at least 3 items a day.  With a number as small as 3, I should be able to do this, each and every day.  It won't take much time or lots of thought and at the end of a year - I will have gotten rid of over 900 items!

I have been unofficially doing the challenge for a week now and it's been so cathartic that I don't want it to end, so here I am blogging about it as a way to keep myself accountable and enthusiastic about my progress.

Yesterday I sent old phonebooks and magazines to the recycling bin.  The day before I collected some fabric scraps and fat quarters for my quilt guild.  I cleaned out my pantry and threw out all the "out-of-date" items.  I cleaned out my laundry room cabinet and within the last few days have thrown out or gotten rid of way more than just 3 items.  This is very happy!

Now if you happen to follow along or take the challenge too, I am only asking that you not criticize me for the embarrassing amount of stuff I have accumulated.  Some of the items will go to charities, but some things will be headed to the trash.  I will make every effort to repurpose items that are useable to others.

Today's Items

Barbra Streisand VHS Tape - Unopened
Empty Box
Dry Inkpads
Free Lens Cleaner Fluid

Of course there is a story behind these items, but I honestly believe that only some of the items are worth talking about!  

That VHS tape was given to me by Mom, who is now deceased.  While I enjoy Barbra as much as the next person who can recognize a great set of singing pipes, I am not likely to ever watch this tape, and have never watched it yet!  It's still unopened.  I no longer own a working VHS viewer (the broken one will hopefully make it's way to this blog soon!), so it's time for Barb to move on!  I've been hanging on to the tape, well because my Mom gave it to me.  I had to give myself permission to get rid of it.  I had to remind myself that it's NOT my Mom - it's just something she gave me.  She would actually laugh if she knew I had hung on to it all this time, unopened, unused and that I have actually moved it to three different homes!  Enough is enough - isn't that one of Barbra's songs?

The Lens Cleaner Fluid will be donated to the Lions Club, and when I pick up my new glasses today, I will pass on the free sample fluid they hand out with every pair my family has ever purchased.  We clearly or unclearly for that matter, never clean our glasses using the stuff!

As you can see, Only 3 Things A Day is often more!  Hooray!

I would love to hear from you if you decide to join the challenge!  Remember, I will never judge you or the stuff you have accumulated!  We need to stick together and lighten our loads!