Friday, September 18, 2015

SDD Clutter Free Day 18: TV Comedy DVDs and Fluid Art Collections

It's Day 18 of the So Damn Domestic Clutter Free Countdown, and time to declutter 13 items. Yesterday, someone commented on my declutter picture, "Why don't you just keep them? Even just for deco." I had decluttered 14 special edition DVDs, most of which were movies I loved.

That comment caused me to doubt my decision. I even doubted this whole process. My online friend had followed with, "I dream of someday living in a large house, surrounded by all my lovely things." I started thinking, "Wait, that's my dream!" But it's not.

We think it's security to own a lot of stuff, but we forget how easily a natural disaster or dryer fire or even unemployment and debt can take all of the things away. Real security comes from peace of mind.

In some of the places I shared my declutter pic yesterday, I captioned it, "I'd considered that the DVDs on my shelf said something about me. I wonder what it'll say about me to have no DVDs on my shelf." Well, I don't know what it'll say to others, (probably nothing...who notices things like that?) To me, it'll say, "I am a collector of experiences, not things." And, I know, I know, movies are art. What's wrong with collecting art?

Absolutely nothing's wrong with collecting art. But I figure there's so much art in the world, why limit myself with ownership? Better to continuously rotate which art is on display and really enjoy it. No collecting dust.

Another thing to consider with DVDs is that they're losing value fast. Everybody's doing what I'm doing and going digital. I did a lot of research yesterday and I don't think I'm getting more than $8.50 for all 14 DVDs. If I was willing to post them individually and wait for a buyer and mail them, I could get a few bucks more, (depending on shipping costs).

That low number made me want to hold on to them. That's nowhere near their original value. But I figure before long they won't be worth anything. Might as well get my $8.50 and buy a pad thai dinner special with it.

Day 18: 13 Items Decluttered

1-9. Friends: Seasons 1-10, excluding 6 for some reason. This is a big deal, guys. A season of Friends on DVD was my main birthday or Christmas gift for many a holiday. I've watched the series many
times through. When I first moved to L.A., before I had internet or any furniture, I watched these DVDs on a blanket on the living room floor, with a stryofoam take-out container in hand. It was a great comfort after a long drive and the shock of being on my own.
10, 11. That '70s Show, Season 1 and 2. These were originally my mom's. She was a child of the '70s and loved this show. The DVDs stayed with me after I borrowed them. Now she has dementia symptoms from brain tumors from neurofibromatosis, so she wouldn't be able to operate a DVD player or follow the show.
12. Arrested Development, Season One. Great show. I think this was my brothers' DVD set. I better check in with them before I sell it.
13. It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, The Complete Seasons 1 & 2. Also a great show. Also, I think, my brothers' DVDs.

It's painful to think a brand new TV show season could be $45. I don't know what I'll get for these, but it's probably around $45 for all 13 of them. Thing is, if I only use them when I move and the internet's out, I'd rather have $45 and more shelf space. I can buy digital downloads with that money and save it to an external hard drive. All my DVDs will fit in my hand.

Amazon Affiliate: TV show hyperlinks go to Amazon Prime, video streaming and digital downloads. I receive a commission from Amazon if you buy anything after following one of my links.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

SDD Clutter Free Day 17: DVDS Decluttered; Procrastination VS Mindfulness

It's Day 17 of the So Damn Domestic Clutter Free Countdown, and time to declutter 14 items. Can you believe that? 14? It's such a small number compared to the 30 I started with. And still, today I procrastinated. I was tired from cleaning the roach mess out of the storage console yesterday, and I had a lot on my mind, so I let myself have a lazy day and pretty much laid around, thinking about my future. That's why my "decluttered items" picture is different today. I didn't feel like making my bed, so I took the picture on my ottoman, and I didn't take it until after sunset, so I had to use artificial light.

I still got the job done, 14 items decluttered. I'm happy about that. I decided to declutter DVDs today. When I moved from Bellingham, WA to Los Angeles, CA, I condensed most of my DVD collection to a binder. I saved these ones with special covers (and Heartbreakers, for some reason) to show off on my shelf. However, after a year here in L.A., experiencing lots of show-off-y people, I'm extra mindful of vanity. I don't need a shelf of movies to represent me. It's a little attachment, but it's still an attachment. I'm letting it go.

14 DVDs take up about a foot of space. That's significant!

I don't mean to be all negative about L.A. I do love it here, and I've found lots of great people. But it's hard to find the good ones because it's such a competitive environment.

Day 17: 14 Items Decluttered

1. HeartBreakers. Sigourney Weaver, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Gene Hackman. In middle school, my best friend, Lindsay, and I used to go to Hollywood Video every weekend and rent a stack of DVDs, usually French or arty. Somehow, we kept coming back to Heartbreakers.
2. Sex and the City: The Movie. I had to! I already had the TV Show box set!
3. Across the Universe. It's my favorite Beatles song, a great title, and a touching movie.
4. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. Fun times. A little murder, a little singing.
5. Amelie. One of my top five favorite movies, for sure. "Without you, today's emotions would be the scurf of yesterday's."
6. Fight Club. Basically the opposite of Amelie, but also a favorite.
7. Thank You for Smoking. Doesn't hold up to Amelie and Fight Club standards, but it's a good watch.
8. Flight of the Conchords: The Complete First Season. I saw these guys for the first time on their HBO special and I was hooked. Awesome show.
9. Flight of the Conchords: The Complete Second Season. Stay cool, Brett. Brett, stay cool. *snaps fingers*
10. Spider-Man 2. I think I had a crush on Spider-Man. I can't think of why else I would own this, since I'm really not into superhero movies.
11. Moulin Rouge! Come What May still makes me sob cry.
12. The X-Files: I Want to Believe. I am a huge X-Files fan. That's all I'll say.
13. V for Vendetta. I saw this in theaters on my birthday one year and totally loved it. I don't think I've watched it much since.
14. Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Classic. Can't go wrong there.

It's a little hard getting rid of DVDs I love, but I know just because I don't own a hard copy of them doesn't mean I'll never get to see them. Everything is available for streaming these days, and if it isn't, I can get a digital copy for my Amazon Prime library.

Just as I'm sure owning fewer books and using the library will encourage me to read more, I believe owning fewer hard copy DVDs will encourage me to watch more digital movies. And, I don't think most people realize this, you can get movies at the public library.

When I own something it's too easy to put it off for a never-to-arrive "later." I don't want to live like that. I mentioned that I procrastinated my decluttering today. I was resting so intentionally, though, I don't know if it can even be considered procrastination. It's more like mindfulness. I'm not doing things because they're expected, but because I genuinely want to do them.

Amazon Affiliate: All links go to digital downloads or Prime streaming. If you buy anything after following one of my links, I get a commission.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

SDD Clutter Free Day 16: How to Destroy a Roach Colony

It's Day 16 of the So Damn Domestic Clutter Free Countdown, and that means today I decluttered 15 items. I decided to tackle my roach drawer, I mean, my plastic grocery bag drawer. I'd saved the bags in a drawer of the storage console in my dining area, either to use for emptying the litter box, or until I'd saved up a bunch to recycle.

I saw roaches go in and out of the drawer, and some major denial happened. I just stopped using that drawer. I don't think I made a conscious decision to avoid it, I just left the drawer closed and it became, "out of sight, out of mind."

Well, part of a 30-day decluttering challenge is facing those areas of our homes that don't work for us. The time had come. I put on rubber gloves, covered my nose and mouth with my shirt, and opened the drawer with my toes, from a distance.

It wasn't so bad! At least not on that top layer of bags. I started moving one bag at a time into the trashcan. Would you believe there were exactly 15 bags in there? Exactly the number of items I needed to declutter for today's goal. I really had no idea how many bags were in there, so that made me laugh.

Once all the bags were out, okay, it was gross. But it wasn't an Indiana Jones-esque swarm, so I was pleasantly surprised. The really disgusting part was underneath the drawer. It was pretty much black from dead roaches and poop. It was also horrifying behind the console, where the still-living ones had scurried and hid from my wrath.

(Actually, I didn't have wrath. I've been saying an equanimity meditation a few times a week for a couple months, so I mostly just felt bad for the roaches and tried to kill them quickly and painlessly. But my air quality comes first.)

I'm absolutely not an expert on pest control, but I'll share with you what I did to clean up the console.

1. A few days before cleaning, I moved most of the roach bait poison to that corner of the apartment. I didn't want to open up the drawer and displace a bunch of living roaches into the rest of the
apartment. (Spoiler alert: a bunch lived and dispersed anyway.)
2. I removed all of my baskets from the shelves, so if they did disperse, they didn't camp out in my belongings. (This way they're in the much better...? >.<)
3. Day of cleaning. Removed everything from the drawer they lived in.
4. Sprayed open drawer with anti-roach mixture: water, vinegar, peppermint oil, tea tree oil.
5. Coated with baking soda. Let sit one minute.
6. Doused drawer with vinegar.
7. Unscrewed the hinges and removed the drawer. Washed it in the kitchen sink. This seems like an unsanitary step. If I had access to a hose, I would have washed it outside. I just used the sink hose, hot water, more vinegar, and a scrub brush.
8. Repeated with three other drawers, even though they weren't as bad. I wanted to make sure all roach poop was cleaned because it's so bad for air quality, and also wanted to make sure to kill any eggs.

9. Set drawers outside to air dry.
10. Swept really gross under-drawer area. Broom heads can be washed or replaced!
11. Repeated same process under the drawers: vinegar spray, baking soda soak, pure vinegar douse, and then since I can't fit a whole storage console in the sink, I mopped it.
12. Moved the console forward. Repeated step 11 behind the console. There's a cable tacked back there that they're small enough to crawl behind. I haven't cleaned that because I ran out of stamina. Tomorrow I'll have to take out the tacks and wipe down the cable.
13. Called a friend from the fresh, outdoor air.

So it was horrifying and disgusting, but not as horrifying and disgusting as I imagined it would be. I'm very pleased that they hadn't lived in there long enough to damage the console. It's a good piece of furniture when it's not infested.

I'm off to shower for about a year.

Amazon Affiliate: Links above go to NOW brand essential oils. I love them. If you follow the link and buy anything, I get a commission from Amazon.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

SDD Clutter Free Day 15: Plants Vs Zombies Figurines, My To-Do List, and My Expectations

It's Day 15 of the So Damn Domestic Clutter Free Countdown, which means time to declutter 16 items. I had to confirm the numbers a few times, like, "Wait, is it Day 16 or 16 items?" I don't need to make a list for my items today. I chose to get rid of my Plants Versus Zombies figurines. There's exactly sixteen of them, so it's perfect.

I bought them online, and when I opened the packaging, they smelled horrible, a strong, chemical oder. I didn't return them because I ordered them right before I moved to bring to CA as a gift for my cousin. There's too much going on when moving to deal with shipping a return. I didn't want to be responsible for my little cousin's lead poisoning, so I held on to them.

I'm not sure if I should sell them with a disclaimer, and let a buyer use their own disgression, or just throw them away.

Speaking of things I'm not sure of, I've been using this great app called Todoist, but I'm still getting in the groove with it. I love that it makes my to-do list an active part of my day, instead of a "someday I should get to this" list. I can assign different tasks to different days, set recurring deadlines, and compete with myself and how many tasks I'd completed the day before.

My Todoist Menu: After
My Todoist Menu: Before
I used it to pace my reading for book club. I did the math of how many pages I'd need to read per day to finish the book the day before book club. Then I set the task as "Read 15 pages Their Eyes Were Watching God every night at 11 PM." Sure enough, I finished the book right on time, and even had extra time to study the author's history and symbolism in the book.

The main issue I've encountered is if I skip a day of a recurring task, it marks it as past due. I'd rather it just reset the task to let me try again. It needs an, "I'm not doing this. Leave me alone" option. It'd be great if I were a master of discipline and never ever deviated from my plans. But then, no it wouldn't. I like having flexibility built into my schedule. I like being able to rest when I'm tired or do more when I have a burst of energy.

I've been using Todoist for a couple weeks, and I'd typed in my routines as individual items. Today I erased all of them. I replaced the fourteen Morning Routine tasks with one task called Morning Routine. It had started to overwhelm be that I had sixty-four tasks on my list every day.

Now it's much neater. I changed my Kharma settings from a goal of 40 tasks per day, to a goal of 10 tasks per day. That means my tasks are weighted about the same as they were, so I'll still rake in lots of points. Yeah, there's points! Your status upgrades at different levels of points. It's pretty great.

I only completed my massive night routine once this week, so I decided to take Flylady's suggestion to build a routine up from 3 tasks at a time. I was able to build my full morning routine as whole by taking notes along the way, but my dream night routine is about 2-3 hours long, so I think starting small is the way to go here.

The three items I'm going to work on are:
1. Fill up the dish drying rack. I like this because it's very visual and finite. It's better than "Do all the dishes," which can overwhelm me. I have a feeling all the dishes will be done with this goal, anyway.
2. Read pre-planned number of pages. Right now I'm reading Wonder by R.J. Palacio, 50 pages a night, because it's a children's book.
3. Meditate. I'm using the Stop, Breathe, Think app. I like that it tracks my mental and physical settledness, as well as my emotions. It helps me notice patterns in my mood. Plus the meditations actually help me and there are stickers!

It hurts a little bit to let go of the rest of my routine for now. It brought be so much peace of mind when I was able to complete it, but if it's not working, I gotta reset. Anyway, it's not gone for good. It's just on hiatus. Once I feel solid in those three things, I'll add in another three things.

Looks like today I decluttered 16 toys, plus my to-do list, and my expectations. I like that perspective!

Monday, September 14, 2015

SDD Clutter Free Day 14: Bathroom Cabinet, and I Start Selling Things

This is actually the After pic, believe it or not.
Today is Day 14 of the So Damn Domestic Clutter Free Countdown. I easily found 17 items to declutter when I organized my over the toilet cabinet. 

Before I get into that, I want to talk about today's prompt from Emily. It was a reminder to get rid of items as you go. It's so obvious, but so easy to avoid. I've mentioned my own plan to make it a project to sell or donate everything in the first week of October. I still think that's a good idea, to tack an extra week onto the challenge to finish up any projects that got started through the previous month.

But Emily's prompt helped me realize something, or commit to the idea: There's no reason I can't start now. So, with that inspiration, I made four Craigslist ads today! 

Ooh, I just got a customer for my board games. That'll clear up a nice chunk of space!

Now, about the bathroom cabinet. The previous tenants sold me my over-the-toilet cabinet when I toured the place, since the bathroom here doesn't have any drawers. It was looking a little crowded so I'm glad I was able to clear out some things. It doesn't look like a minimalist's bathroom, but it's closer than it was this morning!

Day 14: 17 Items Decluttered

1, 2. Hair ribbons. Cute with a high ponytail, but I don't do that very often. I have headbands and a few special barrettes if I feel like doing artful hairstyles.

3. Pile of hair ties, stretched elastic or way too much knotted hair.
4,5. Sweat bands? I liked these for washing my face when I had short hair, but I don't need so many.
6. Garbage. Lid of q-tip box, head wrap packaging, used up toothpaste tube, cardboard cup I was keeping sample lotions in.
7, 8. Even more lotions. I feel wasteful getting rid of so many lotions. I just don't use them since I discovered that oils work better for my skin. I'm thinking of putting a package together for a couple bucks for any of my non-expired, non-gross toiletries. (An example of gross would be used mascara. Eye bacteria, no thanks.)
9. Tiny drawers. I kept my lipsticks in this and it was the perfect size, but I realized I only like two of my lipsticks (saving make up for another day's declutter pile), so I don't need this box.
10-13. A brush and two combs. One brush and comb seen in the glass at the bottom of the picture. I'm washing them with Apple Cider Vinegar and warm water before I put them in my toiletry pack.
14. Girls' hair accessories. This could count as a bunch of items. I'm glad to let go of something I definitely don't use. Bye, Pooh Bear barrettes. (Oh man, I loved Pooh Bear so much.)
15-17. Soap bears. I freaking love these. We took them from our Yellowstone National Park hotel room when I was twelve years-old or so. I remember my grandmas playing with them and being silly. But I took a picture to remember them by. There used to be four. I tried to use one, but it irritated my skin (most things do).

I'm still loving this challenge. I'm glad I started selling things today. Having decluttered items out of the way will make this process even more satisfying. Most goals are accomplished by taking small steps every day, rather than big steps in a week, so I think starting the sale process now will help make sure it happens by the end of the first week of October.

That'll free up time to expand my reading challenge! Did I mention I'm thinking about working through my unread books next month? So excited.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

SDD Clutter Free Day 13: Magazines and Visualizations of Life and Home

Nope, still awesome.
Happy Sunday, or whatever day you read this on! It's Day 13 of the So Damn Domestic Clutter Free Countdown, so today I decluttered 18 items. Emily's prompt for the day is to visualize the end result of decluttering, so you can easily tell when something doesn't fit your vision. I love this prompt. 

I have a feeling my Pinterest boards are filled with images that no longer resonate with me. In this last year, my values have changed.

If you've followed my decluttering this past week, you know just in the last few days I've changed. I went from someone who coveted a large, personal home library, to someone who sees more benefit to using free resources. I just got my library card last month. (I had one in Washington, but I put off getting my Los Angeles County Library Card for almost a year after moving.) I've already become familiar with some of the librarians, if not by name, at least by face. That sense of community is part of what I'm building right now by minimizing my belongings.

Is it laughable that now I'm thinking about decluttering my Pinterest boards? I'm enjoying that image. It's a chore for the Age of Information! The promise when we make those boards is that we're going to revisit them for inspiration, so logically, having cluttered Pinterest boards is like having a closet full of clothes you don't wear. They're not being used for their intended purpose. They're just taking up space.

At least my Weekday Gourmet board is always current! Gotta love Pinterest for collecting recipes. Mmm.

One thing I've figured out is that visualizing can be difficult when there's too many options. In my
This board's still awesome, too.
I was right that there's a bunch
of personal libraries in there, though,
and other unnecessary attachment,
like big kitchens.
life right now, I don't know if I'll be able to afford my apartment much longer. I might need to move in with a roommate or move to a less expensive city. When I visualize what I want, it's to stay here and keep building towards my goals here, and I'm mostly working toward that vision. At the same time, I wonder if it's worth it to hang up a picture if I'm going to have to take it down soon.

That uncertainty is why I'm focused on minimalism and flexibility. My security in the near future will not come from having my kitchen perfectly organized, but from having fewer kitchen tools, so it's easier and less expensive to move. If I manage to keep this apartment, I know I will still reap the benefits of simple living.

On that note, I don't want it to feel like a loss if I move. I want to feel excited for the new experiences wherever I go. I feel very attached to some of my furniture. I so carefully selected it and took on the cost and effort to move it here with me, but it's still just stuff. Besides, the pieces I'm thinking of now, my bookcase and entertainment storage console, they were Craigslist finds. If it brings me joy to find beautiful, practical, inexpensive furniture online, it shouldn't upset me to think of getting rid of anything.

Someone else will get to experience gratitude for these items. Then someday maybe I'll go through the process again, and the new pieces will be even more appropriate for my life at that time.

I'm preparing myself to get rid of one piece of furniture, maybe for my last day, that one special item. We'll see. To get to that place, I'll have to clear out a lot more items first!

Day 13: Declutter 18 Items

Real Simple Magazines.
#SDDclutterfree participant Day 13. 18 items decluttered, all magazines. And the cat's back!
The weather's cooled down a bit, so they cats are back to
following me around the apartment.

Elle Decor Magazines.

HGTV Magazines.

Vegetarian Times Magazines.

My original plan was to read one magazine each night and declutter it as one item toward my goal the next day. It only worked once. My reading mojo has gone towards books for book club. I do still want to read these magazines before getting rid of them to get my money's worth (or my dad's Coke rewards' worth, in the case of Real Simple :)). At this point, I'm committing to getting rid of them by the end of the first week of October, read or not.

I'm dedicating that week to selling or donating all the items I collect in this countdown, so it's a reasonable deadline for recycling magazines as well.

No more magazines will come into the house from now on. If I really want to read an issue, I'm going digital!

Amazon Affiliate: All Amazon links in this post go to digital magazine subscriptions to save trees and shelf space. Magazine search.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

SDD Clutter Free Day 12: Under Bed Storage Totes

#SDDclutterfree Countdown Participant. Day 12/30. I suddenly become a wuss and keep everything. Just kidding. But I am less ruthless as I organize my under bed storage totes.
Under bed storage totes: Amazon Search
It's Day 12 of the So Damn Domestic Clutter Free Countdown, and that means 19 more items decluttered! Today I focused on the storage totes I keep under my bed. I wasn't very ruthless with these. Most of the items stored are things I don't need frequent access to, but am comfortable holding on to. For example, the speaker stands for my ipod dock. They're wall-mounted right now, so I don't need the stands, but it's perfectly reasonable to think I might want them when I move.

I can imagine the benefits of getting rid of all gift wrap. Instead of storing rolls of wrapping paper, I could always use gift bags. I would buy them for each gift at the time of gifting, and be done with it. Not to mention the possibility of giving experiences as gifts and not using wrapping products at all. 

Losing the gift wrap would free up an entire tote. It's something to keep in mind if I have to downsize to a smaller apartment (or just a bedroom in a shared space), but for now, the gift supplies are happy where they are.

What I did declutter made a big difference. And, more importantly, for today's purposes, I got those totes organized. Technically, this is a "getting rid of stuff" challenge, not a "make the stuff neater" challenge, but organizing those totes is a step towards simple living for me.

What happened was, when I moved, both totes slid out of the truck and smashed on the freeway. Luckily, it was the freeway near Bellingham, WA, which isn't super crowded. My brother was driving and a stranger stopped to help him pick up as much as they could.

I bought replacement totes and shoveled the stuff into them for the long move to California. It's one year later and, though I'd taken them out and used items from them, I hadn't removed everything, sorted it, and put it back in any intentional way. Now I won't have to guess which items are in which tote.

Day 12: 19 Items Decluttered

1. Address labels for a residence I no longer inhabit.
#SDDclutterfree Countdown Participant. Day 12/30. I suddenly become a wuss and keep everything. Just kidding. But I am less ruthless as I organize my under bed storage totes.
2. Ceramic pen-holder shoe. I find this item quite charming and like have quirky things like this, but it's the least practical of my three pen holders. Plus I like the look of my desk when it's more minimal.
3. Necklace extender packaging. I put the extenders on their intended necklaces. The goal is to get the necklace to hang over the shirt instead of getting lost under it.
4. Fish beads bookmark. I touched this and immediately thought of someone to give it to.
5-7. Sandal hangers. Obviously unused.
8. Brochures from exhibits we didn't even stay to look at in D.C. years ago.
9. Magazine cut outs for collages I'll never make.
10. Catalogs used to make character inspiration boards for the novel that lives in my head.
11. Valentine's stickers. I don't have a lot of Valentine's to give stickers to, now that I'm not in elementary school being forced to celebrate Valentine's Day.
12. "Sorry" board game. Just not feeling it, really.
13. Fairy wings. My out-of-town friend's impromptu Halloween costume last year.
14. Skirt that's too small and has a broken zipper. It was in the tote with my craft stuff, as if feeling crafty, I was magically going to want to mend the zipper on it. (I did like that skirt though.)
15-18. Fake eyelashes. The last million times I tried to wear these I promised myself, "Never again." It's time to live up to that promise.
19. Cat tent. This was a hand-me-down when a friend's cat wouldn't use it. Jolie loved it, but there's no good surface to keep it on with this apartment layout. I've avoided throwing it away because I feel guilty tossing that much toy-grade plastic. (I just made up that term. I don't know if it's real.) The fabric's pretty worn out, but I'll see if someone wants it. (Okay, having second thoughts. Jolsie's so cute in that thing! Ack!)
Plus! Button from old comforter, button of adorable cow that's rusted on the back and has no pin, and random chain thingy.
#SDDclutterfree Countdown Participant. Day 12/30. I suddenly become a wuss and keep everything. Just kidding. But I am less ruthless as I organize my under bed storage totes.
See? It's not really that much emptier, but it is MUCH neater.
Under bed storage totes: Amazon Search