Saturday, February 18, 2017

Staying Downsized

After much back and forth and a few sleepless nights, my guy and I decided to stay downsized in our 794 s.f. apartment. While the idea of more space was alluring, the idea of moving again didn't thrill.

Aside from the cost to move from one place to another, the physical and mental toll it takes is enormous. And although we did consider moving within our current community, we just couldn't find a larger space that met our needs - the two potential units either had no view or no sunlight, and as much as I loved the sun-free apartment, I know our sun worshipping cat wouldn't have.

So we've decided to make things work in our smallish space. Even though it means there's next-to-no privacy, we can't stretch our arms out without potentially hitting something, and we'll have to actually purchase a few more items to make the space work better for another year.

Yes, more things. Which seems completely contradictory.

For such a small space I would have liked to have reduced what we already have. But that's impossible, as we pretty much use every single "large" item we have. It's only the small stuff we store in cupboards or our closet that could potentially be minimized.

But we need more light. The lighting we have is insufficient. And we need a few wall-mountable shelves for easy access to our most-used things.

Without these necessary items our space isn't fully functional. And while it was acceptable for the almost-year we've been here, it isn't for the long haul.

Of course it's hard for me to stop at just a couple of things when compiling a list. There's always this urge to create a much, much longer list.

I could certainly use a new duvet, a new sofa pillow, some art for the walls, a mirror to make the space look larger.

And come to think of it, I could use new office supplies to keep my work things tidy. I could use a drawer-ganizer for my serving spoons. A new round oven by Le Creuset to cook with. A new Kindle. A new iPhone. And on. And on. And on.

I clearly still haven't quite figured out where the line is between what is needed and what is maybe/possibly wanted. I still can't quite figure out how to deal with the disappointment of not getting what I want without resorting to using the rush from buying something I want to compensate. I still can't figure out how to shut my brain down when it has the time to create those lists of things I likely don't need.

And I still can't quite figure out how to balance my desire for nice things with my ability to pay for them.

To be continued...

Friday, February 17, 2017

Binges and Purges: February 17, 2017

I had a visitor in town the past week and so I tidied up a bit - which meant that I did end up tossing a few odds and ends. But I didn't really do much in the way of purging. At least not that I can recall. Though I somehow managed to find the time to acquire a few things over the past week and I have a few things on order.


The Binges


We bought a new shower curtain and liner at Crate and Barrel. The liner needed to be replaced. And we found that having just the one curtain didn't work for those times when we needed to send the existing curtain out to be laundered. So we got a second. (Needed.)

We purchased an inexpensive set of measuring spoons - required for some medication we need to give to our cat. (Needed.)

I purchased a replacement pair of sailing shoes for the ones that were an embarrassingly hideous color. (Needed/wanted.)

I finally used my gift card toward the purchase of yet another Nelson clock which I can't wait to arrive. (Wanted.)

I ordered two new small area rugs for the entry/kitchen - one to replace an existing rug and one as a new addition. While not mandatory, both are useful - to keep detritus from coming in when we open our door and to keep the noise level down for our neighbors downstairs when we walk in with shoes on and head for the coat closet. (Needed/wanted.)

And I ordered two more Nelson Bubble lamps - one for the bedroom, one for the dining area - as our space is just too dark in the evening and the built-in lighting is atrocious. (Needed/wanted.)

As most of this is still on order/in transit I don't have pictures just yet.


The Purges


Not much purging was done this week. Though there was quite a bit of decluttering done - how does paperwork accumulate so fast?

We discarded the old shower curtain liner that we'd replaced.

I discarded the horrifically-colored sailing shoes that I'd replaced.

I reduced our dinner set of eight to a set of six by discarding two dinner plates, two salad plates, two large bowls and two small bowls - though I wasn't quite ready to give up those extra two mugs. Some of the glazing had come off a couple of the plates which is what gave me the idea to reduce versus replace. We never used eight dishes before running the dishwasher so a set of eight just was excessive.

I finally got rid of the drink coaster holder that I'd been hanging onto for years and years. It was completely unnecessary unless we were moving and gathered up all of our drink coasters. But it wasn't needed and just wasted an inch of space in our junk drawer and so I got rid of it. Our coasters live on our coffee table, kitchen table, and desks and there just isn't any need for a holder.


The Count


Binge Count: 9
Purge Count: 11

And while the count seems to be working in favor of purges, the space that will be taken up by the binges as well as the cost of those binges is far more than what was purged.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Would I Buy It Again?

A recent blog by The Minimalists asks a few questions that I've often asked myself over the years when looking at all my stuff. And so I thought I'd once again ask myself and attempt to answer honestly those questions they have asked here.

(In looking at what I owned in the past) The Minimalists ask: What did I own that I didn't enjoy?

In the past there were many things that I'd purchased that I wish I hadn't because they never made me as happy as I thought they would, they weren't part of a lifestyle I could maintain, or they weren't of a quality that would make me miss them when they were gone and certainly wouldn't make me wish to buy them again.

I spent umpteen dollars at Ikea, at Pottery Barn, at Bed, Bath & Beyond, at Gracious Home, at Ethan Allen, at Shabby Chic, etc. trying to create a home that made me feel happy and safe and comfortable. Nothing I purchased from any of those stores made me feel happy for more than the short term. And while some of those things were comfortable, having to pay my credit card bill made them very much less so.

The Minimalists then ask: If I could start over would I buy those items again today? The answer is a definitive no.

Because I never needed more than one set of dishes. I never needed that extra vase, the newer coffee tables, the fancier sofas, the headboard, the rattan chair, the decorative pillows, the computer hutch, the book case, the curio cabinet, the candle holders.

And of all those past purchases I only have one of those things today - and that one only because it has a memory attached to it.

(In looking around at the things I own today) The Minimalists ask: What do I own that I don't enjoy?

Nothing, really. Though I might enjoy different versions of the things I own a bit more. Or I might enjoy some of the things I own more if I were in a different living space.

My sofa is nice and comfortable. But would I have loved one that was a bit more comfortable and a bit bigger and nicer? Yes. But it's not in the budget right now.

My bed frame is one I'd wanted for many years. But there's one I know I'd enjoy a bit more if I were to settle down in a space for some time - one that's far less mobile.

My desk is just a bit too "precious" for daily use for work and I would love to have the Nelson Swag Leg Desk (my dream desk) instead. But I don't regret the purchase and I use it ever weekday (and will continue to do so until I can either afford the nicer desk or have no use for an office desk at home).

I would love a bigger kitchen table if I were in a space that could accommodate one versus the four person table I have right now.

And I would love my entryway bench a lot more if I were in a different space that actually had an entryway to put it in.

But I am content with these things I have and will be for some time. They're not things I actively want to get rid of, I'd just perhaps want to upgrade them in the future if my situation changed.

I don't have any clothing I haven't worn for months except those reserved for specific occasions or seasons. I purged all my trinkets except for a worry stone given to me by my college professor. I don't have a garage, a storage locker or basement - so no hiding places for my unused stuff.

And while I have a few bins filled with keepsakes that I might not want to keep forever, I use just about everything I own just about every day.

Though it is time to go through that junk drawer and get rid of those Command hooks and other small item extras that haven't been needed or used. Sadly I needed to buy those, I just didn't need the quantity that came in the package.

To be continued...

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Tiny is not for me

I've become a bit obsessed lately with watching shows about Tiny Houses. And while I know that a tiny home isn't in any future that I've imagined for myself, I keep gravitating toward the programs, the blogs, the books talking about this "tiny house movement."

What most attracts me to the tiny house is the idea of the tiny house and its forced simplicity (and what detracts is the lack of empty space).

I wish I didn't have to have a bed frame, a heavy sofa, a freestanding kitchen table and assortment of chairs. I wish I didn't have to have side tables or media cabinets. I wish everything was built in, instead of movable. And I love the compactness of a tiny home's furnishings.

But there's something I love more...

I love having empty spaces in my home. I love having space to move around. I love being able to clean without having to move a piece of furniture in order to clean under it.

With just under 800 square feet I find that there's not enough empty space for me. So trying to squeeze down to under 400 or even 300 square feet sounds more like an ordeal than an adventure.

I've tried to imagine myself, my guy and my cat going tiny. And while we wouldn't have to take all our bulky furniture, we would need comfortable places to sleep, places to relax, places to work, places to eat. We would need space to store all my sailing gear and my guy's technology.

We'd also need some separate space so that we wouldn't be on top of one another whenever we were in our home. And I just can't envision that if we were to live with fewer square feet than we're living with now.

Even if it were just me, or me and my cat, I couldn't imagine living in such a small space - unless that space was a sailboat. I think I'd go stir crazy if I were cooped up in a space that was only as wide as my arm span.

Perhaps it would be different if I owned several acres and had the outdoors as my extended living space. But most of those places that have the extra space (and allow for a tiny home to be built) don't have temperate climates and outside would only be useful "living" space for a few months a year. I just don't see myself stuck inside a tiny home month after month during the cold months - I'd likely end up like Jack in The Shining. So even with the outdoors as my extended living space I would have to pass the opportunity to go tiny by.

And still I watch those tiny home builds. I am fascinated by the people who choose to go tiny.

I try to imagine how they could possibly do it day after day, month after month, let alone year after year. Especially if they're a family of two, three or more.

Fortunately living minimally doesn't mean living tiny. And while I also don't see a McMansion in my future, having a few extra feet, filled with nothing, sounds divine right about now.

With our lease ending soon we are contemplating up-sizing again - instead of opting for tiny. If not back to 1,200 square feet, then perhaps to 1,000. And while the idea of moving is daunting, having minimized quite a bit this past year, it wouldn't take more than a few hours to pack up all our things.

So while I haven't yet found that solution to maximizing (or rather minimizing) my current space, the solution just might be to finding a new space.

To be continued...

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Unable to Let Go

I've written before about my love-hate relationship with my keepsakes. But as it's an ongoing problem I have a bit more to say about them and my inability to part with them.

As I've mentioned before, my lifestyle is a bit nomadic. I don't own a home and I don't stay very long (typically) in the apartments I rent, so I always feel the need to be ready to go at a moment's notice. Which is a challenge with boxes and bins of keepsakes.

Also because I live in an apartment I am forever thinking about the fact that not everyone is as clean or organized as I am and may bring pests with them which will infest my things.

Thankfully much of what I own is easy to maintain and keep an eye on - wood furniture can be dusted and polished, linens and clothes and dishes can be washed. But the keepsakes are things that don't get used frequently and so need to be stored carefully to avoid potential damage or infestation - which is a challenge and a burden.



At one point I had the "perfect" shelf to house my photo albums, storage boxes, and scrapbooks. It worked well for a time but things like dust and sun damage became a concern when my need to look at these things on a regular basis lessened. And so I found that keeping these things wrapped up and out of the sun's harmful rays was better. But it meant that I had little to no access to these things and they started to feel like burdens instead of treasured keepsakes with each and every move.

And while these storage "solutions" are very nice to look at when on display, they aren't on display anymore. Ever. And they are digitized so I could technically toss them all without "losing" them.

But in my head it's not the same. Having a tangible album or scrapbook to peruse makes me feel more connected to the memories. So I've been unable to discard what amounts to four file boxes filed with scrapbooks, cards, and photo albums. Even though most days I wish I could make that leap. Especially with the photos.

My other "keepsakes" are less cut and dry and hard to purge or even make a decision about.

I have five journals filled with old thoughts that I don't want to look at necessarily but am not sure I want to discard. I have two cassette mix tapes made my guy for me that were digitized but there's something to be said for the originals. I have six video tapes with home movies (also digitized) but they contain footage of those no longer with us. I have an oversized album and a mini album with photos given to me by my parents that while digitized are definitely not as unique looking as the originals. I have a portfolio filled with film negatives of pictures I have both in print and digitally. I have several small random items that don't fit in a scrapbook as well as an oversized diploma that doesn't.

All these things live in pretty storage boxes in the media cabinet in my living room, wrapped up tightly and protected against any potential harm but earthquake or fire. And while loved to many degrees, they are weighty to own.

And then there's the "memorial" keepsakes which take up space in a couple of bins an outdoor small storage closet (that mostly houses sleeping bags) that I can't even bring myself to look through. Or think about. Even though I know I should purge many of these things as keeping the things won't bring them back. But, once again, I'm not ready to let go.

Though I really should. Because living life forward is what matters. Living life in the past isn't living. And holding onto pain isn't healthy.

Letting go is good. But I've lost a lot in the past several years and I know that I'll be losing a lot more in the next few years. And so I've been particularly clingy. And parting with these things of my past, especially those that are connected to loved ones living or gone, is too hard right now.

Logic does not prevail.

Though I know that letting go of all the things does not mean letting go of the one they belonged to. And I know that letting go of a physical item is more than fine when I have its digital counterpart. And I know that in the long run I will feel much freer to have let go.

But I just can't right now. No matter how much I wish I could.

Though I wish I could then simply not worry about it for now, stick a pin in it, push it to the back of my mind, like so many can. However, as that type of thought process doesn't come naturally to me I'll have to do some research on how best to do this.

And I'll have to focus on the two remaining areas of my life's stuffs that need minimalizing - my digital clutter and what remain of my "important" papers. Neither task will be easy though I have made the decision to just click "delete" on much of my digital clutter, starting with time machine backups for two computers I don't even own anymore. Off to do that now.

To be continued...

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Binges and Purges: December 21, 2016-January 18, 2016

In the ramp up to the holidays there was a bit more bingeing than I might have liked. Between Christmas and New Years I managed to purge quite a few things. And following the holidays it's been a mix of both.

The shopping for others put me in a very consumerist mood that was only taken down a notch or two with every re-watch of The Minimalists documentary. The spending, of course, got me very angry with myself and so the purge that followed was a bit radical. Which (as expected) brought on this need to "fill the void" left by my "missing" things.

As mentioned in my holiday wrap up post I received a couple gift cards which put me in a shopping mood. And the need for some warmer gear for sailing also helped trigger the urge to spend.

I've also had some free time to attempt to try and figure out those keepsakes and stored "important" papers, so that somewhat worked to my advantage though it did cause me to purchase a few things I might not otherwise have done if I just let things alone.


The Binges


I just recently purchased this barometer which is now hanging on my living room wall. I hadn't really needed one, but when I went into West Marine to purchase some much needed gloves my guy thought it would be good to check them out. After much ado as this particular model was discontinued, I couldn't very well not buy it. And it has come in handy. Though it does make me wish for the matching (hard-to-find) tide clock.

I also purchased a few necessary items for sailing - a fleece for those colder days on the water, a pair of full-fingered sailing gloves (I'd only had the 3/4 finger gloves before), the Coast Guard's navigation rule book, and the three ASA texts I had to discard previously due to damage. I had also purchased another pair of shoes to use while racing and/or solo sailing but got the wrong size and had to give them away as I had inadvertently discarded the packaging before trying them on.

During the lead-up-to-Christmas online sales-athon I did end up succumbing to a sale on bath mats at Rachel Ashwell's Shabby Chic. The two I had that are used in front of the sinks are starting to look rough around the edges and also don't allow for immediate replacements while they're in the wash, so I wanted to add these similar but much cuter versions to my linen collection.

I received the newest Apple TV for Christmas. But it's not a binge (as it was a gift), and, besides, I have the older model in the "out" box - I just have to determine whether I can give it away or eCycle it.

A gift card I received prompted a few purchases - a somewhat needed fitted sheet to replace a damaged one I'd been holding on to, another new bathmat (this one for in front of the tub/shower), and Rachel Ashwell's latest book to read and enjoy.

But where I went overboard spend-wise was in organizational items post-holiday:

I purchased a new empty scrapbook + extra pages to use when my current keepsake scrapbook becomes filled and I bought a letter box storage container to hold said scrapbooks.


I bought a magazine file desktop holder for my guy's notebooks that could be added to the media cabinet near his desk. And I purchased two CD/DVD storage containers for his discs (which formerly lived in two much larger binders in a file tote in the closet which he had no easy access to) so that he could access them easily. And while these three items don't add to my count of 100+ things they do add to my binge count.

I also purchased three Pina Zangaro portfolio books and extra insert pages and extender posts to organize the keepsakes I didn't want to get rid of (even though I had a somewhat acceptable storage solution for those things already).

And I purchased a Kolo photo box to match one I already had that I am repurposing to store cards that I've been saving.

***

While all of this may not seem like much it feels like A LOT. It feels like something I've done before - find storage solution, become unhappy with it, get new storage solution. Rinse. Repeat. Instead of purging these things I am constantly finding new ways to store them. And each time around they become more and more expensive solutions.

But at this point in life I am not ready to let these things go. Even though most are in digital format - I'd scanned everything I owned through mid-2010 and have added very little to the keepsakes post-2010. So I am trying to make them as pleasing to look at as possible. Even if I end up wrapping them in movers plastic, putting them in a plastic file box, wrapping that in plastic, and storing it cocooned in the back of my closet to look at SOMEDAY.

The Purges


While that list of binges was fairly long, my list of purges, thankfully, is a bit longer. (Oh, and I did end up giving away those three mugs as gifts that I had been tempted to keep as they were so beautiful.)


I gave away a rarely used Le Creuset 3 qt pot in a color I wasn't in love with. I still have my 5 qt pot and a rounder 3 qt one. At some point I would like to swap those with ones in more classic colors, but for now I'm happy enough with them. (Though I am ever tempted to get the ones in the color of the moment - French grey and the darker grey.)

I also gave away my All-Clad 12" fry pan with the brushed aluminum bottom. I found that after purchasing the copper bottom Mauviel pan I didn't need two pans as I thought I might.


I tossed eight towels - four body towels (2 pink, 2 cream) and four hand towels (2 green, 2 cream) I'd been holding on to for some time. They were used and loved in the past but were showing wear and it was time to let them go as I hadn't used them for almost two years.


I gave away a number of my Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic bed pillow cases (six) I had but didn't often use - these latest (shown above) were lovely but the ruffle made them less comfortable to sleep with for my guy, the others were just patterns I'd grown tired of. And I gave away one vintage sofa pillow case as it didn't match my current sofa.

I tossed the fitted sheet with the pattern I loved that had gotten mixed in the wash with a red rag that ruined it and two pillow inserts for pillows I no longer had, .

I gave away an art folio I no longer used to hold keepsakes, recycled five plastic storage containers that were no longer in use, I tossed a damaged Muji binder with page inserts, the two binders and DVD pages that my guy used to use for his DVDs and a broken CD case holder, 10 Muji plastic zip envelopes that used to hold keepsakes/cards, two frames with pictures I no longer displayed, and 2 letter-sized fabric covered storage boxes that used to hold keepsakes I'd found other storage solutions for.

I gave away the incorrectly sized sailing shoes I bought.

I also gave away (nearly) all of the review books I'd been hanging onto - though I'm not counting these toward my purges as they were never intended to be kept in the first place.

And I shredded and tossed a number of old papers, documents, folder and envelopes that were no longer needed, though not nearly enough. (A post about that is forthcoming.)

***

I am in purge mode this week - I want to find a home for that extra sleeping bag I know I won't use and some other things I need to make a decision on once and for all. I am just hopeful my need to acquire some things won't outpace the need to purge.

The Count


Binge Count: 22
Purge Count: 44 (did not count docu purges)

So while my purges doubled my binges it does not make me feel one iota better. I just hope this isn't the start to a binge-and-purge cycle, but rather a one-off due to the nature of the season.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Wrapping up the holidays

No pun intended with that post title... at least I don't think there was.

But as I was MIA with the blog over the holidays I figured I at least needed to stop by and wrap things up.

As expected, the holidays were stressful - shopping, shipping, meeting expectations, closing out the year, dealing with family - so in many ways I'm glad they're over. Although I did enjoy the extra days off, even if I didn't always get to spend them quite how I wanted.

I spent a bit more than I wanted to - shopping for gifts, shipping said gifts - but I think those who received the gifts that I sent very much enjoyed them. So the extra cash spent was worth it.

I didn't receive very many gifts - which made me very, very happy. My guy and I set a limit and he stuck to it. I got a gift I very much wanted, needed, and am using daily (an updated Apple TV). I also received a couple gift certificates (also wanted) although the unused one is burning a hole in my pocket and the one I used ended up costing me a bit more out-of-pocket. But it was also worth it as I was able to get a much needed fitted sheet, bath mat, and a book I know I'll enjoy reading and eventually pass along.

So my home is not inundated with new stuff to stress over. Maybe one or two things I received as gifts from others that I'm not sure what to do with. But I'll figure that out over the next few months.

I'd hoped to spend those extra days off finally making decisions about all of those things I'd been delaying a decision on. But once again it didn't quite work out as planned. (Not at all surprised.) Though I should be happy that I did "purge" quite a few less difficult items that I'd been hemming and hawing over. And while I don't feel "lighter" without them yet, I know I will start to when I don't have to lift up the extra plastic storage box to get to what I need and I don't have to find a way to cram the lid down on one that may be a little too full.

The holidays weren't all joy and sunshine and fun so I did mentally fall apart one day and start to put together a mental list of various items I just HAD TO HAVE that would make me feel SO MUCH BETTER. I was so close to pressing that "click to buy" button on two of my "MUST HAVE NOWs." But somehow I refrained. And while I think that someday I would like to have one of those things to replace something I own that I don't like quite as much, that day is not today, tomorrow, or in the near future.

So I think I've made some progress in my quest for minimal.

And I did end up purchasing a couple items that may not have been 100% necessary. But after two very cold days out on the water I added a pair of full-fingered gloves to my sailing gear and a fleece mid-layer zip-up. (Full binge/purge "holiday" list to come.)

I had some memorable experiences - sailing in wind, rain, fog, saw family, spent time with my guy and my cat. I read a few great books. I wasted much time on bad films, worse television, and forgettable meals. And I spent way too much time stressing.

Over work. Over health. Over loved ones' health. Over money. Over my new and excessively noisy neighbor.

Which makes me think that if I were one to have New Years Resolutions, I should add some type of meditation to the list. Because sleepless nights don't add value to my life. They don't make for clear decision-making. And I don't enjoy not sleeping - unless it's for "fun" reasons like night sailing.

So as I work further toward achieving my goal of minimal, I am going to investigate how I can incorporate meditation into my life.

To be continued...

(Oh, and I also re-watched my iTunes copy of the documentary Minimalism, which really helped to quiet the brewing storm over New Years' weekend. And it also sparked some debate with my guy who is a bit more wary about the idea of minimalism, who does not at all believe that anyone "goes tiny" for more than a second, and who thinks much of minimalism's tenets are obvious and no brainers - to which I pointed out that they may be so for him, but not so for me. So a definitely valuable way to spend my time.)