Thursday, August 6

today's load

I wish I'd taken pictures of the other piles of things that have left this house in the last week or so. Today there were two mirrors, three boxes, a plastic bag, and a pair of boots that went to MCC, as well as two re-usable grocery bags full of kids' books that I gave to my sister-in-law. She'll keep a few at home and take the rest to her school. She teaches in a multi-grade early years classroom, so they'll definitely go to better use there than they were here! Also in this pile is a Tupperware cake taker that I've had for years and never used once, that I delivered and sold to a lady here in town, as well as a couple of other bags of things that I had borrowed from friends.

Rest assured, if I owe you any stuff it'll be on its way!

Monday, August 3

inspired by minimalism

I've been reading books on Minimalism.

In the last few months, my home has been driving me NUTS. There is just stuff everywhere. I think it's the basement renovations that have kind of pushed me over the edge and found me kind of depressed about the mess and clutter.

Then about a week ago I read a really interesting article on minimalism and women's clothing. Apparently, in the not-so-distant past, the average woman used to own a measly nine outfits. Today's average is 33 outfits. I wasn't surprised. People shop, I get it.

But then I got thinking - I actually don't own much more than that really. I literally have one pair of jeans. I have a pair of yoga pants that I refuse to wear all over town because, come on, seriously. I have two pairs of dress pants. There might be a skirt in there somewhere that I never really wear.

That's, like, 5 bottoms.

When all my shirts are washed and hung up and all the hangers are slid together, they take up maybe 18 inches of the hanging rod.

I refuse to buy books when I can borrow from the library. I don't collect anything.

I convinced myself that I was totally not a hoarder. Sure, we buy things from time to time, but we don't have crazy spending habits. Then I got thinking that I really have been meaning to go through this house and declutter and organize.

Then I read a few more articles, and I ordered some (cheap) ebooks on the subject. I read all of those. I read some more articles. Then I had a garage sale to get rid of a few things that I'd pulled out of my house recently.

I really should have read the books before the garage sale. Because I have gotten really excited about getting rid of stuff. I did a few kitchen cupboards today, and brought up some new dishes that we've been storing  in the basement. I replaced a few old dishes, but got rid of more than I actually replaced. I admitted to myself that I didn't need four casserole dishes that were all the same size, regardless of whether we had room for them. I threw out a giant electric griddle that sometimes worked. I tossed an entire cutlery set into the pile. I ditched two frying pans. A lunch box. Salt and pepper holders. Some weird pickle dish I have never used. A bunch of coffee cups. I can actually put all my cups and glasses in the cupboard and don't have to gently wiggle the outer ones so they all settle back in before I can shut the door! I let go of actual brand name Tupperware, and I'm a total Tupperware person! I even admitted to myself that I didn't really need a giant banana shaped container that looked like a banana and held an actual banana. It felt so freeing! So therapeutic! It was so fun to empty out a shelf, get rid of a ton of what was in there, and put a fraction of the stuff back in!

Steven is scared. I started today just yapping away about the things in the kitchen that could go, and opening the cupboards to illustrate just how much stuff we never used, and the next thing he knew, I was sitting beside the island surrounded by stuff, a lot of which I handed him and told him to take away.

I did not finish the kitchen today. I did peek in a couple of more cupboards to plan my attack. Our conversations went like this:

One cupboard:

Tiffany: Okay, like in here! Look! I mean, do we really need a turkey platter? Are we turkey platter people? Really?
Steven: Yeah, but there's lots of room for it. We need some stuff.
Tiffany: Yes, there's room. That's not the point. Do we need it? Do we use it? And don't just quickly use it to prove we use it.
Tiffany: And look. This coke platter, really? It is really awkward in here, it takes up a lot of space.
Steven: . . . but, there's room. It's not even full!
Tiffany: You need to embrace the philosophy!

He loves when I said crazy stuff like that.

The next cupboard:

T: Okay look here. We have like, 9 chip bowls. We could keep the two nice ones, and those seven Dollarama ones could go. I could get rid of those...
S: Oh! We have (insert weird word only Steven knows here)! We can keep those!
T: Those have been sitting on the edge of this shelf for years. If you really wanted to use them you would have.
S: Well I can totally use those!
T: No. I got those at my bridal shower, eleven years ago. Don't now look at them with all your wishful thinking. We don't have room in our cupboards for your special wishful thinking items. We have room for only things we really use!
S: .... (just laughs)
T: Oooh, and these can go, and those and those, and that thing back there. I never did use that.
S: But that's like everything on that shelf. What's the point of having empty shelves?
T: It's nice to have space!
S: .... (I think he knows when he's been beat really)

The other day I cleaned off the top of my dresser. Then I texted him a picture of my dresser and a picture of his dresser for comparison's sake. Yesterday he decides he's going to tidy his dresser.

Steven dumps out a basket of random crap onto the bed. He starts picking through it and making it into piles.
T: Nooo! Don 't do that! You dump it out, you quickly just grab the things that really jump out at you that you want, you put those things back and the rest you just scoop into the garbage.
T: No really. Stop sorting! Hang on, I'll get you the garbage.
T: Here's the garbage.
S: (sort, sort, sort)
T: You're doing it wrong! Just scoop it into the garbage! You're over thinking! Stop making piles! Why are you sorting bolts? Just scoop it!

There has been a lot of this these last few days. It really would be easier if I could, in good conscience, just sort all his crap without him while he's at work.

Anyway, the whole point is basically summed up, in book after book, in article after article like this:
Minimalism is the intentional promotion of the things we most value 
and the removal of everything that distracts us from it.

It sounds easy. Honestly, it's like anything else - I'll take from it what I need and want to use. I do like the way the books help me to see the stuff as just stuff. It's not as important as we somehow make it, when we constantly rearrange, store and reorganize. What's the point of having things buried in closets and kitchen cupboards and catch-all areas in neatly labeled (or not) boxes for years when you're obviously not using them? It just turns into so much stuff.

The winter before last I worked for New Directions here in town, in homes where people with special needs lived. The one thing that I really noticed about the houses were that although they were cozy and homey, and had a few decorations on end tables and some art on the walls, as well as a couch blanket or two and some of the people's personal items in display on their rooms, that there wasn't a lot of extra. It was nice. We did a lot of cleaning in those homes and it was so nice to clean a house that wasn't full of things that nobody used. Dusting and tidying and cleaning the floors is better when there aren't piles of papers gathering dust in corners, and storage containers full of old picture frames and candles crammed into closets in the basement. I envied the open space in the homes.

A home is supposed to be about the people, not the mountains of things. Things are kind of meaningless compared to family and experiences.

Anyway, wish me (and Steven, more importantly) luck.

Saturday, July 25


I want to cook meat on a spit. I think that's what it's called. In the movies they make it look all appealing, the meat sizzling above a bed of coals, and later the juices running as people tear into a literal hunk of meat, their fingers dripping - because of course you eat it with your hands. Think Walking Dead, when Gareth is munching away on that chunk of meat while talking to Bob. Admit it, until you KNEW it was Bob it was pretty appetizing. 

There are never any veggies either. Just meat. Sometimes flasks. 

If steven can drop a hunk of meat into the burning barrel and then eat it hours later, I should totally be able to do this. 

Sunday, July 19

summer camp

Today I dropped Jordan off at summer camp. She will be gone for five nights. Five!

It's the same camp I went to as a kid, and I loved it! The time away from home, meeting new friends, trying new things, it was always the highlight of my summer.

In the spring I asked her if she still wanted to go to summer camp. Last year she pointed out to me a number of times that other kids she knew had gone to sleep-away camp, and not just to a day camp, so this spring I asked her if she still wanted to go to a sleep-away summer camp, and she jumped at it. I sent away her registration, and a few days later received a confirmation email. She excitedly chose her four activities for the week and was happy to hear that her cousin would be joining her.

As it came closer, I could tell she was nervous. She mentioned a few times recently that she'd miss me. I told her that I'd miss her too, but that I was excited for her to try something new and fun.

Today we packed up the campsite that we had been in for the last few nights, and I took Jordan to have a shower and put on clean clothes, and then we said goodbye to Steven and the other kids and she and I hopped in the car so I could drop her off at summer camp on the way home.

And she immediately burst into tears.

I'm pretty sure I never cried when I had to go to camp as a kid. Anyway, I waved Steven over for one last hug, calmed her down, told her it was for five days and she was going to have lots of fun and we wanted to hear all about it, and then she and I headed for the highway.

For the next hour, we drove along eating snacks and way too many chips, and talked about horseback riding and archery, and that it was cool that she got to spend a whole week with kids her own age doing big kid stuff, and staying up late, and hanging out with one of her favorite cousins, and cool teenager counselors instead of grumpy old parents.

When we arrived at camp we took all her stuff out of the car and made our way down to the check in area, where super-friendly staff told us where to go. Her counselor was waiting for her and led us down to her cabin where we left all her stuff.

The rest of her group was out at the playground with the other counselor, so we went to find them. Jordan held my hand the whole way, and was seriously shy and sweet. I mentioned to the girl that it was kind of funny that she was being so shy, and that in a few hours she'd shine as the goofy kid in the group.

Eventually the meeting bell rang and I left her at the door of the hall, looking worried and uncertain, and I made a break for the car. I know she'll be fine once she feels like she knows the other kids, but it was pretty hard to leave her there and drive away when she looked so worried!

Five sleeps.