Country Living Series

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The urge to purge

Do you ever get the urge to do some nitty-gritty decluttering around the house? Guys, this urge probably doesn't overcome you very often (no offense), but I suspect every female knows exactly what I'm talking about.

It's been a quiet weekend for me because the girls are staying with their grandparents for a couple of days. I actually experienced some boredom (a nice change, now that I think of it).

So while reaching for something in the cabinet under the bathroom sink, it suddenly dawned on me there were way too many nearly-empty bottles of shampoo down there, and it was time to up-end them. (I save up the nearly-empty bottles and then up-end them over a funnel into a half-full bottle so as not to waste shampoo.)

So I gathered all the shampoo and conditioner bottles and started the task.

But then I noticed two dusty bottles of Irish Cream I'd made years ago and which I had put in the cabinet (because it was dark) to age. Um, something told me those bottles were way past drinking. Out they came.

Then the little plastic stacked drawers we use for holding miscellaneous stuff caught my eye. How long had it been since I'd purged those drawers of unneeded clutter that tends to collect? Ages. I cleaned them out and reorganized them into dedicated tooth-care drawers...

...eye-care drawers...

...medical drawers, etc.

On a roll now! I combed through the pantry and discarded the empties that somehow sort of collected. I combined two half-empty containers of syrup into one. I tossed out the jar of maraschino cherries someone gave us and which I know darned good and well we'll never eat. I also made note of some things we're low on: aluminum foil, paper towels, crackers.

I get this way every so often. I like to think we're fairly low on clutter in our house, but you know how it goes: things tend to creep in. Also, since we've become Preppers, my tolerance for "clutter" has had to increase since we're storing more things than before.

Sometimes people tell me their living spaces are too cramped to allow them to become Preppers, and they're often right.  This is especially the case for (cough) the poor unfortunate souls trapped in urban apartments. I've seen pictures of apartments in New York City and can't believe the sizes -- they're so tiny!

But even the smallest, most efficient living quarters tend to collect junk without us realizing it. Even the littlest things like hairpins which have lost the little plastic tip and which makes using them feel like scraping wire across one's scalp (which it is) are useless, so why keep them? Do we expect them to re-grow the little plastic tips?

I'll bet you dollars to donuts if you went through your home with a fine-tooth comb and discarded the stuff you really don't need, it would free up a surprising amount of space.

Since the economy has gone south, the number of people shopping at thrift stores has skyrocketed. As a result, stores are begging for donations. Perhaps now is the time for us all to get the urge to purge unnecessary and unneeded stuff and donate it to stores where it can be recycled for those who can use it.

And in doing so, you've cleared spaces where, just perhaps, you can store something more useful -- like Prepping items.

My $0.02 for the day while I wait for my kids to come home.


  1. Just a quick little idea. My mom use to put a 1/2 of maraschino cherry on the top of each oatmeal raisin cookie before she baked them. Just a little decoration for the cookie and a extra sweet taste in the middle of the cookie. We use to eat around the cherry in the middle and the best was saved for last. They were really good. :)

  2. My parents and grandparents were "savers because of the Depression" and I was raised surrounded with all that clutter, and some really odd things like boxes of string and bags.....With the exception of the craft/art inventory (which I admit I have no power over throwing any of it out, no matter what it is) the rest of my house was always "lean and clean" - because one day I just said "No more" to the way I was raised and just did a mass clear out, LOL.....It does make you feel so much better, with all of that gone (not to mention it's easier to clean more regularly).....

    I've noticed the first thing that the professional organizers do is load people up with baskets and containers....nice touch but it always encourages people to keep (or add) more stuff to them "so they're full" (LOL).......

    Anyone who doesn't move very often, and/or lives in a big house ends up with alot of stuff....if you don't get in there and weed it out now & then, pretty soon it overtakes you! Or else you can't find what you're looking for (and end up buying another one or two or four since it tends to get lost repeatedly)......

    Another lesson I've learned over the years is if you are the type of person (or family) that takes good care of things then they tend to last for the need for 5 of em, when you still have the very first one, is excessive.....Prepping things excluded, of course....LOL....

  3. You speak of exactly what we are spending our days doing. We are finally making our way up to N. Idaho in August. I am so darn excited to finally be making the move! But, first things first. And the first thing: Get rid of every last belonging that isn't worth hauling all the way up there. Including the hair pins with no plastic at their tips. ;)

    Goodwill has received at least 20 large bags of goodies from us so far. Good goodies, not plasticless hairpins. ;)

  4. I have a love hate deal going with cleaning up the clutter, I love when it's done but hate that it keeps coming back. my HUGE project this past fall was the attic, it took me over a month of working a little each day to finially get it all completed but I now have a home for all the non parishables we are putting back for a rainy day.

  5. We've also been decluttering our home. My oldest daughter will be moving out soon, so she is trying to decide what is important enough from her high school/college years to keep and what should be given away. Fortunately, she has decided to rid herself of 3 extra large super sized giant bags of old (nice) tshirts, and other clothes. Unfortunately, they've been piled in my hallway now for 3 weeks. Any tips for that?? :)

  6. (sigh) Men don't know about purging? Bunk!
    I grew up in gated communities (chuckle) - Air Force Bases!
    We moved every two to four years. Not only did I have to make new friends with every move, but I had to decide what NOT to take with every move! I can de-clutter with the best of them!
    OTOH, my wife lived in the same small Missouri town here entire life. No problem at all with saving a "keepsake" from third grade!
    After we married we moved to California - she stored all of her keepsakes with her mom & dad.
    Years later, we've moved back to Missouri - and we're still getting rid of the clutter!!!!

  7. Bah! Look at all of you heaping praise on Patrice for her accomplishment. Hogwash! Just let her try to actually find anything now that she's cleaned it all up! Hahahahahahaaaa!

    That's why, whenever I get this feeling, I grab hold of the couch, lay down and nap until this feeling goes away. Works everytime.
    (Tongue in cheek snark of the week)

    Steve Davis
    Anchorage, Alaska

  8. Steve is lucky his wife hasn't gotten rid of the couch....yet....


  9. "Since the economy has gone south, the number of people shopping at thrift stores has skyrocketed. As a result, stores are begging for donations."
    This is so true! I've been a thrift store shopper since high school, long before it was trendy, and it's served me well as a SAHM of eight. A couple of months ago, I stopped into the Goodwill in the small town that my oldest daughter and her family live in, and I was shocked to see the shelves three-quarters empty. I asked the checker and she said that business had increased so much that they couldn't keep the shelves stocked, and yes! she did ask me to bring in my donations!
    Another day, I visited a much larger Goodwill in another town on a Sunday, and was hard-pressed to find a parking space. Inside, the store was wall-to-wall people; I've never seen anything like it.
    So glad my family has long been accustomed to shopping second-hand, we have better things to spend our money on!


  10. I probably would try to bake a cake with that Irish Cream. I bet it was still good. Probably add 12 oz of the good stuff to 1 box cake mix and bake according to directions. I've added 1 can Diet Coke to 1 box chocolate cake mix-turns out great... good low cal recipe.
    We made your recipe (Irish Cream) at Christmas and it WAS excellent!!
    --K in OK <><

  11. I have these fits of my garage. It's rare but I have this everchasing dream of converting my two car garage into a man cave, complete with workout gym, tool bench, and lazy boy recliner infront if a big screen.

    The only way to get there is by uncluttering. Achieved the wall shelves project this weekend. Now I have more places to organize my stuff.

  12. Oh, Patrice, you must have rummaged around in my brain as a *full house purge* is what I am about to do here! The fella and the kids are about to go visit family in California and I will be here, alone, with just the dogs, chickens and goats---for 4 days!
    The worst offenders here are...BOXES! They save every box. They have boxes for items they no longer own!I don't know why they save every single box, but they do!

  13. For those donating purged items in good condition to a charitable organization - a little advice. I prepared taxes for 10 years and would always tell my clients that, if you ITEMIZE your taxes, keeping a list of your donations is a very good way to legally/honorably/fairly deduct the value of your contributions.

    When preparing for a donation, I gather everything up and make a written list. For example: Boy's Tshirts and quantity (I use hashmarks), Girl's tennis shoes and quantity, Men's jeans and quantity. Then I take the whole list to and use their FREE "It's Deductible" software under "Tax Calculators & Tips". Full disclosure - I worked for their competition, and love the Turbo Tax tool. You enter the charity, address, date of donation, date of purchase (normally "various" in this situation") and start adding items. For fair market value, I typically estimate 4 x the resale value. Print the form, staple it to the receipt from the donation and file for tax season. Since I'm extra cautious, I also take a few digital photos of the items being donated before hauling them to Goodwill.

    If you have more than $500 in non-cash contribution, you do need to fill out an additional form (8286), but it's well worth it to correctly claim the resale value of the items, rather than lumping a huge bag of clothes as "$50". If you take the standard deduction on your taxes, the above is not necessary. ;o),,id=106990,00.html

    Becky (not the troll) :o)

  14. I am geneticly unable to declutter. Really, my grandmother had a stuffed full house, my mother's house looks like a hamster nest, and my house needs a shoehorn to get anything into it. If I move some stuff out, I get more stuff to take it's place. I have at least one of everything you could think of, and if I don't have it my mother does.

    Spring form pan? I have it. Spare cat dish? Under the sink. C clamps? Bottom shelf in the garage. China glue? Yeah sure, china cabinet drawer.

    I do not keep half-empty bottles of anything. Old bottle MUST be empty before opening a new one. But if the world falls apart and we need mouse traps-- they are in the can next to the deep freeze. I have everything, and your share too.

  15. Five years ago I moved into my house with a toothbrush, towel and a futon. OMG it is hard to believe how much junk accumulates!
    My solution: made a deal with the local Disabled American Vets and Goodwill to come every 2 weeks for a pickup. Now one or the other comes every week. They don't mind if it is a light week or if tons of stuff are piled in front of the garage. Knowing that someone will be there early Tuesday morning has been a great motivator and I like knowing that I am benefiting good causes.
    Now I have room to add preps after they haul away old clothes, kitchen gadgets, wierd gifts, ancient electronics, etc.
    Love your blog.

  16. About emptying those shampoo bottles, there is an easier way to do it. I just add a little water to them and then use it on my hair. You can get two or three washings by making the shampoo thinner and therefore easier to access. Then I just throw away the empty bottle.

    Even though I've gotten rid of a ton of stuff and organized my house, there seems to be one truth in this world: I can never get rid of enough stuff to satisfy my hubby!