Hibernation

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Sometimes the household clutter problem is not just volume. Longevity also matters. This category has staying power. Unfortunately for you, these long term occupants are not paying rent.  Underused and underappreciated gift-ware (UUGs) are classic examples of articles who overstay their welcome. Engagement and wedding showers supply a hefty amount of this CRUD (Completely Ridiculous Useless Debris)  responsible a good deal interior congestion. Those of us who took our first set of marriage vows several decades ago are among the most susceptible to keeping still unopened presents in reserve. Here are some possible explanations for the behavior.

  1. You had no idea of where they could be returned and now it is too late
  2. You kept it because you were afraid of offending the giver
  3. You cannot get to them because they are buried under 4 heavy boxes you can’t lift
  4. You were mistakenly saving them for your children
  5. You use them once in a blue moon
  6. You completely forgot they existed

Let us give you examples of the “once in a blue moon variety”: punch-bowl, chip and dip and fondue sets.  You may notice a common thread. All three are typically larger than a breadbox and are dredged up for entertaining at parties and gatherings. Each of the aforementioned also boasts at least one component that can easily go astray. What use is an oversized greasy plastic bowl minus the container for onion dip designed nest inside? Do you have any idea of where the majority of the fondue forks have disappeared? How many cups are missing from the punch bowl set due to breakage or re-purposing? Can you afford to devote that much room to clutter of marginal value?

CRUD Challenge

There is a high probability that these gifts loitering on top shelves or in lockers can be found in their original packaging. Getting reacquainted with boxes from stores that have been shuttered for decades may produce nostalgia of a bygone era. Don’t let that de-rail you. Treat the experience as a second chance to clear out what no longer deserves to live in your home. When you are examining your underappreciated gifts apply the criteria we outlined in the first portion of this blog. If you answered in the affirmative, use that as the impetus to donate, sell or recycle the item in question. Finally, don’t be concerned with hurting the feelings of the giver.  Either you are no longer in touch or she has no recollection of said purchase.

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Posted in C.R.U.D.

Athletes’ Loot

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Doing regular exercise is commendable to maintain weight, flexibility, strength and mobility throughout your life. Fitness fads come in waves.  The 80s made aerobics a household word. The subsequent decades ushered in more fitness trends like Step aerobics, Pilates, hot and cold yoga, kick-boxing, spinning, weight training and Zumba. As our bodies age, we need to adapt our workout routines.  The high impact activities of our twenties inevitably give way to gentler hatha yoga or water aerobics, unless we want to expose ourselves to knee replacements in our sixties.

For those of you who are fitness enthusiasts, it should come as no surprise that every activity requires gear of some sort or another.  Compared to a decent set of gold clubs or high performance skis, these indoor sports represent a modest equipment investment and a low barre to entry (no pun intended). Even if the dollar value in attire and equipment is not significant, the volume can strain your storage capacity. As people who spend far too much time plumbing the depths of storage lockers, we can attest to the glut of underused gym related paraphernalia. If you are not inclined to part with the ritual objects associated with your past, timeworn exercise gear could be yet another category worthy of expunging.

CRUD Challenge

Note to self: stop channeling Jane Fonda.This is our hit list for the most unflattering gym fashions that need to go. Unless leg warmers are going to have a second coming that we don’t know about, we suggest that you begin there. Neon colored tights, head bands and multi-colored nylon track suits may require special handling. They need to be removed before your fashionista millennial children discover them. You won’t be able to handle the shaming.   Here is another. Leotards! Lest you plan on resuming your pre-pubescent career as an Olympic gymnastics hopeful, send them packing.

Now what about the equipment itself? Do you still have the ankle weights that leak sand or flop around on your legs every time you lift? Speaking of weights, those dumbbells responsible for your repetitive stress injuries should be shipped COD to your chiropractors and massage therapists. Do we need to remind you to give away the ab-cruncher purchased from a home shopping channel in a moment of desperation? Is yoga no longer a feature of your routine?  Say Namaste to the foam blocks, straps and the sticky mats you carted back and forth to the studio religiously a couple of decades ago. Do not overlook your idle collection of resistance bands, stability balls, pool noodles for aqua fit or the thigh master.

Don’t bemoan the disappearance of these relics from your closets. All of these items are available for use at the health club or community center.  Otherwise, if you suddenly get the urge to exercise, simply lie down until the feeling passes.

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Posted in C.R.U.D.

Carry Nation

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Are you suffering from storage inadequacy? Are you constantly lamenting the deplorable absence of space in your closets and cabinets? Do you fantasize about converting spare bedrooms into mini-warehouses equipped with floor to ceiling shelving and a forklift for easy access?  Stop wasting your imagination.  Save the money you are planning to spend on these imprudent purchases. Instead, take the opportunity to examine what is really responsible for the overcrowding.

If there is such a thing as reincarnation, I want to come back as a bag manufacturer in my next life.  Backpacks, tote bags, gym bags, beach bags, lunch bags, insulated bags, overnight bags, shoe bags, book bags, cosmetic bags, gear bags, duffel bags, garment bags, wine and beverage carriers, grocery bags and even recycling bags are in residence everywhere.  Environmental regulations have helped to curtail the blight of plastic shopping bags. Permanent eco-friendly bags have provided replacements, but they tend to accumulate. Moreover, it seems like there is a special bag for almost every human endeavor. Most bags are opaque, concealing contents from their owners, almost guaranteeing that what they contain will never be remembered or used

Even if bags are re-usable, they do eventually get stained, wear out or people simply tire of them. Just like every other category that requires periodic evaluation, bag CRUD necessitates editing.

CRUD Challenge

Reducing bag clutter poses challenges. Unlike other CRUD categories, such as make-up, jewelry or cosmetics, bags do not reside in a single location. Their whereabouts are usually associated with the items they are intended to transport. Lunch bags cohabitate with snacks or thermoses, swim bags room with masks and nose plugs and backpacks hang with camping gear or last year’s homework assignments. My point is that this kind of global search may not necessarily be accomplished in the time you have between episodes of whatever Netflix series you are currently binge-watching. You will need to dedicate the better part of an afternoon and possibly recruit other family members to help. The best part of doing a round-up and purge of this excess baggage is that you can use some of the unwanted to pack up other detritus  prior to calling your local non-profit for a hefty pick-up.

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Posted in C.R.U.D.

Bean There

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For those who lead busy lives, a leisurely cup of coffee in the morning at the kitchen table may seem like a luxury associated with a bygone era.  It is more likely that the blessed jolt of java is obtained in a retail outlet on the daily commute or after dropping the young ones off at school. On-the-go coffee has its compensations.  Often it is a gourmet experience, crafted by baristas, tastier than the pedestrian blend provided by the humble Mr. Coffee machine at home.  But not everyone is wholly enamored of sipping rapidly cooling brew from the cardboard cup, itself, environmentally suspect and risky to carry. A travel mug must be a godsend. But, is it?

Travel mugs are not without their disparagers. Criticisms concerning dribbling due to ill-fitting lids may top the list, perhaps making these vessels popular only with dry cleaners.  Others decry the taste of plastic or metal compromising the flavor. Many models of travel mugs are not dishwasher safe.  Not all mug shapes and sizes fit into a car’s cup holders, creating a balancing act for drivers. And they call texting a distraction? Try dealing with six ounces of scalding liquid in your lap sixty miles an hour. We call that a full-on emergency.

CRUD Challenge

Is there such a thing as the perfect travel mug? We suspect not, but our clients seem to be hell bent on finding something reliably spill-proof. That is why so many mugs are abandoned in this futile pursuit of perfection.  A clear-out should restore much-needed space in kitchen cabinets and your car’s interior.  Start with some the worst offenders. That should be obvious. These are the mugs for which no lid is to be found, or vice-versa. Next in line are promotional mugs that you have acquired but have never touched your lips. Don’t forget to toss any that lack insulation. If they can’t keep a drink hot or cold for more than five minutes they deserve the boot. Then see if you can remember which one or ones sloshed all over your computer or ruined a really expensive outfit when your commuter train lurched without warning. Recycling those should be particularly satisfying. It really makes you question whether liquids were meant to be drunk while the body is motion.

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Posted in C.R.U.D.

No Esther Williams?

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Can you think of any woman you know, over the age of 22, who looks forward to going shopping for a swimsuit? For that matter, can you think of anyone who is totally happy with the state of her body?  Somewhere between New Year’s and Easter many of us start entertaining the thought of a winter holiday to some tropical paradise or at least, planning for summer fun that invariably includes beach or pool time. Unwelcome thoughts immediately enter the picture. Muffins tops, “bingo arms”, thunder thighs, varicose veins and other crimes of the flesh yet to be revealed, are enough to convert vacation anticipation into vacation aversion. If you have already vowed not to experience torture of the squeezing into a new Spandex equivalent of a sausage casing this season, we urge you to think again. Yes, we are advocating that you go out and find bathing suits flattering to your current body, but not until you give your existing swimwear collection a  critical  once-over.

Your beachwear will likely be located in one of several places: in a drawer, a basket or plastic container on the top shelf of a closet; or in a suitcase that you have not unpacked since last year. Once you commence sorting, you will discover that specific categories will emerge.  These could encompass microscopic bikinis worn when you were a hipless teen with a flat tummy, tops without bottoms and vice-versa, one piece suits that barely cover your derriere and an assortment of faded, stretched out models where the elastic has all but given up. Decide if there is anything worth keeping.

CRUD Challenge

If this perusal of the present state of your swimsuits still does not motivate you to replace, consider these factors.  No doubt it has been a long time since you have deigned to enter the swimwear department of any store in the mall. Even if you are no longer size 4, creative designs and miracle fabrics have come along to enhance your assets and deflect attention from your “problem” zones. If going to a store is too intimidating, on-line shopping and catalogues provide you with garments to try on in the privacy of your home. Remember, everything is subject to change, including your body as you age. Clearing outdated, ill-fitting, uncomplimentary and tired wardrobe pieces acknowledges your commitment to staying current and embracing the person you are today. As hard as this may seem, your reward will come when you start splashing in the surf, self-assured in your new suit.  Take the plunge. A little ruching goes a long way.

 

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Posted in C.R.U.D.

Pajama D-Day

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In your current situation you may have ample room for your entire wardrobe.  You might possess 2 or more dressers in your bedroom just dedicated to your clothes.  If your adult children have vacated the family home, along with their belongings, then some of your clothing may have migrated into the drawers and closet space they left empty.

Now imagine that one day you will be faced with moving to a smaller location. When everything you own needs to be reduced to what a one bedroom apartment can comfortably handle, you will have difficult choices to make.

By taking inventory of the contents of your dresser drawers you can get a better sense as to what should be on your endangered species list for consideration. One category comes to mind immediately: sleepwear. Granted, we spend roughly a third of our lives in slumber and at least that amount binge watching streamed entertainment at home. Comfortable clothing like pajamas serve as appropriate attire for relaxed activities like nodding off on the sofa.  We understand the love affair with pajamas. Once you don them it signals you are done for the day. But, how many pair do you really need?

Needless to say, we see large numbers of pajamas, nightgowns, bathrobes and loungewear in our clients’ closets and drawers. To some degree, they are seasonal items. You can’t wear your flannel p.j.s topped with a velvet floor-length housecoat in the blistering heat of July. This is why people need to double-up on sleepwear, to cover all eventualities, unless they reside in the tropics. Still pajamas a hefty category deserving of frequent purging.

CRUD Challenge

If you have already invested a good percentage of your net worth in designer sleepwear then this may prove too challenging. On the other hand, if your p.j.s look like your dogs played tug-of- war with them, or the bottoms have morphed into a permanent, tangled wad that prevents you from closing the drawer in which they reside, then this should be a walk in the park. Don’t despair. Your washer and dryer won’t let you down if you run out.

Unload the drawers and closets, examining each garment for wear and tear, as well as sizing. Your discard pile should look something like this: things that are too small, faded, stained, full of holes or the flannel has lost its nap.  Toss or make rags out of the unwearable ones. Donate the pajamas in decent condition to shelters and other non-profits. What you wear or don’t wear to bed is really none of our business. Making sure your home is functioning with the right amount of stuff is.

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Posted in C.R.U.D., Show Clutter The Door

Dark Passages

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We know we are going to get in serious trouble for even suggesting that journals qualify as CRUD. If you have de-cluttered as many homes as we have then you would know why we include these iconic digests of personal misery in the category. When we were growing up the practice was referred to as “keeping a diary”.  No doubt there are many fine authors who, as children, honed their skills compulsively scribbling away in those little lockable private books.   In your formative years as  diarist, perhaps your diary served as the repository for confidences meant for your eyes only: junior high crushes; fantasizing about a disfiguring accident befalling a   competitor for a spot on the JV cheerleading squad; anxiety over math tests or acne: or the sheer dread being seen anywhere in public with your parents.  Life in one’s early teens is an emotional minefield.  Is there a benefit to reliving the humiliation in print a few more stable decades later?

Puzzlingly, journaling persists in a world dominated by the tyranny of social media. With virtually no barriers to entry, blogging, Twitter, Facebook and other platforms serve up an audience of countless millions for sharing one’s musings. With the potential for power and fame available at one’s fingertips, what explains the attraction of unburdening to a lined paper volume with a probable readership of one?

We understand that many people derive immense satisfaction recording the minutia of daily life in journals and, but at what price?  How much space in your home are you willing to squander in order to accommodate so much of the past? Our clients insist that they will go back and re-read the entries, when they have the time. Somehow, that day never arrives. It is often journals that are contained in the boxes that remain unopened from previous moves. 

CRUD Challenge

It may not be now, but some day you may want to downsize from your current living quarters to something smaller and more manageable. When you get to that point there will be drastic possession reductions required for a successful transition. You will have to make hundreds if not thousands of decisions regarding everything you own. The merits of keeping journals must we weighed against the importance of your other treasured things.

If a small bonfire is not a suitable option, here are some suggestions for how to deal with your journal collection. The first is to stop buying them. Inoculate yourself by staying out of the kind of store that specializes in incredibly beautiful high-end stationery and paper goods, so you won’t be tempted. Check through your current inventory. You may be surprised to find that you have brand new journals that you bought and put away without writing a single word. They can be donated. Re-purpose a small journal to keep in your purse to help you remember to do things, like calling people and making shopping lists. That covers the blank ones. You may be wondering about the box full of journals that contain your writings. What you decide to do is dependent upon your comfort level with the content. Do you want a future biographer to have access to your pet peeves? Shredding may prove prudent.

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Posted in Uncategorized

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