Monday, October 25, 2010

Make a Difference Monday

I went MAD today and took all the stuff I'd gathered into all those bags and donated it to the local Food Pantry/Clothes Closet. Since I found out they will accept gently used toys, I knew I'd finally found the right place to give all our "excess" stuff still in good condition. While I was there, I conquered their "Share" corner, a new creation by the Director. Last week, it had a few paperbacks and some extra canned food. This week, it looked as though someone had dropped a house on it. I suspected as much and came armed with a container of baby wipes and other stuff to help me clean and organize. I had only one hour to work, as I needed to be home, but I made a really good dent. I threw away a lot of stuff that people had donated. Let me just say this: donation centers are not garbage dumps, people. They do not need one decrepit bootie. Or a game with half the pieces missing. Or books written in the '70s. Or really old newspapers and margarine tubs. Blech. Pass the latex gloves. Seriously? Half a kimono? And what is the other half of my body supposed to wear? Or is this for the person who already has many half-kimonos laying around the house and is just looking to pick up a few spare halves? Come. On. Because someone is down and out doesn't mean they want your trash. If you wouldn't use it/put it on, there's a good chance no one else will, either. Not talking fashion here. Talking, "I wouldn't put this on because it looks like fleas have nested in it for centuries." THAT's the kind of thing that just shouldn't be donated. Common sense, people.
I'll return to the food pantry with more stuff. I have half a garage full of excess that I've been collecting for decades. I'm betting you do, too. Perhaps not intentionally, but collecting nonetheless.
"Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. ~ Luke 12:33-34

Friday, October 22, 2010

New Kitchen! (Almost)

Here are some photos from our kitchen mini-remodel: First, how the kitchen looks now: This is during the mini-remodel. All the drawers were in another room, but the new granite was up, and our wonderful, huge new stainless steel farm-style sink was installed. So. Nice. Although the granite looks greenish here, it's black, tan and gold. Very pretty:

During. Not much to talk about here. Except how I couldn't cook anything and suddenly, all I wanted to do was cook, hee-hee!

I'll try to find a "before" shot. The difference is stunning. A huge thanks to our landlords for doing this when they really didn't have to. All I did was break off a stove knob and they not only replaced the stove, but gave us new countetops and a fabulous new sink as well! Woot!

THIS is what I gathered in just a few minutes of (slightly manic) purging:
  • FOUR large trash bags of "stuff". Just excess "stuff" from around the house. I haven't even gone into the drawers, closets, cupboards, etc. Most of it was from my 6-year old's room. Most kids have waaaay too many toys, my lil' darling included.
  • TWO grocery bags of videos, DVDs and ... cassettes. Yes, I still had some of those around. We'll never miss them and our entertainment center looks so much cleaner!
  • A grocery sack of miscellaneous items of whose origins I'm not sure. I know the cement-like hair gel is from my eldest daughter's Shakespearean production. One year ago. Seriously.

I finally found a place that will accept our extremely gently used kid's toys for donation straight to a child: Our local food bank. It's very small, but has clothing, household and personal care items as well. The lovely lady who runs it knows each of her clients personally and knows who has a child with a birthday coming up. Christmas is right around the corner and some of the toys I'm donating are brand-new or like-new, just without their original shrink wrapping. No other agency would accept the non-new toys, which broke my heart. Now, I finally have a place to donate these items and I feel better knowing they will go to someone who really needs them rather than to a secondhand store. I know that many people who shop thrift stores end up with the "too much stuff" problem, precisely because the items are so inexpensive and easy to buy (even if you don't really need them). I've done it myself. It's good to donate to the Salvation Army or Goodwill, but if I can actually donate an item directly to an actual child in need, I would rather.

I know many blogs are doing the "10-Item Giveaway" and photographing the items they are getting rid of each day or week. If I'd stopped to photograph everything, I wouldn't have collected as much stuff. I was also trying to get it done before my wee one woke up, since some of the stuff I'm donating is non-negotiable and I didn't want to start the day off with hurt feelings. Although I'm going through most of her stuff with her, to teach her about donating and purging--and hopefully, how not to get in this position in the first place!--there are always items that she wants to keep that I think we should donate. She is so excited by the new clean spaces, she doesn't miss a thing.

If you have kids and clutter, read the book Simplicity Parenting. Check it out of your local library (less cluttering!). It details how kids feel (and the misbehaviors that often materialize) when living in cluttered quarters and how free and easy life becomes after the clutter and excess is removed. Even if you love it. Even if it's still good. Even if you paid a fortune for it. Even if you might need it some day. Even if.

Stop making excuses and go de-excessorize something!