Monday, April 6, 2009

Day 1: Recipe for De-cluttering

Day One in a series…
Enlist everyone in the house! They helped make the mess. Why should you be the only one cleaning? This is a great project for a Saturday. Before you get busy with this project, start this roast in the crock-pot – you will have barbequed beef sandwiches for dinner with little to no effort:

BBQ Beef Sandwiches

1, 2 to 3-lb beef chuck roast
1 12 or 16-oz. Bottle BBQ sauce
Hamburger buns

Put roast in crock-pot, cover with BBQ sauce (go ahead and use the entire bottle). Turn heat on to Medium, cover and cook for 4-6 hours, or until roast pulls apart easily with fork. When done cooking, shred with fork and serve on buns. If you do not have a crock-pot, bake in a 350 degree oven for a couple of hours. There is no need to sear the meat prior to cooking.

Recipe for De-cluttering
Step 1: Pre-Spring-Cleaning, Day One

My husband is a pack rat. If there is any possible use for an item, even if it’s something that appears to be garbage to you or I, it is tossed into a box for use at some later time…if, that is, I am lucky. Those boxes end up stacked near the doorway; sometimes they even make it out to the shed. Many times these ambiguous items never find their way into a box or even get used at all; rather, they will sometimes sit on our mantle or the marble-topped bombe chest in the corner of our living room. I am sure I am not the only woman in the world with this problem, but it really stinks having a home that is decorated in the Early Garage Sale style.

When my patience has reached its limits (and Spring-Cleaning time is usually a point where my limits lie), I begin the de-cluttering process on my own. When Hubby sees this and realizes his treasures are in danger of a date with the garbage can, he’s usually more than willing to pitch in with his time and effort. Items that seem worthless to me (a handful of washers, zip ties, old hinges, nuts & bolts and other hardware odds & ends) sometimes do get used on the occasional repair project or kids’ school project, so it’s usually in his best interest to lend a hand.

Since our living room is a general catch-all for “stuff”, that’s where we put the boxes: one box we call “Stuff to Put in Its Place”, one box called “Worth Paying the $85.00 per Month for the Storage Unit”, one box that is “Still Useful Enough to Donate” and one box for “Really Not Worth Keeping (a.k.a. Garbage)”.

Once everything that does not belong in that room has been divvied up into above-mentioned boxes, everyone in the household is responsible for their own belongings that have ended up in the “Stuff to Put in Its Place” box. All the other boxes are sent to their new homes in storage, the local charity or our choice, or the trash bin.

I have certain criteria for items I part with, especially when it comes to clothing. I mustn’t allow myself to spend too much time on sorting these items, so it’s a task I know I have to be objective with. Have I worn this in the past 6 months (subjective to the seasonality of the item)? Does it have a sentimental value? Does it still really fit well? If I say no to all of the above questions, I part with it. If the item is a stained t-shirt, I know no one else will want it so that shirt may end up meeting my scissors and becoming a new dust rag. If I can recycle it, I will – as long as it will indeed get used. A 50-lb bag of dust rags won’t be plausible to keep around, and if I donate that and it’s deemed unworthy of resale it may be recycled into insulation or what-have-you. I also remind myself that if this item was liked at one point but not so wonderful anymore, I can be cleaning out closet space for a new one! Even better than the first one!

Items that appear to be clutter sometimes aren’t, really – they just are not presented neatly enough to qualify as “part of the vignette”. The afghan that is balled up in the corner of the couch needs to be folded neatly across the arm of the couch or draped artfully across the back of the recliner. The scattered mess of magazines on the floor can be stacked or fanned across the coffee table or find a home in a magazine rack. I love storage ottomans. Big or small, they provide a nice hiding spot for frequently used things like my crochet or the board games the kids like best. As long as you can keep the “hidden stuff” from accumulating to an unmanageable point, hiding places are great when you need to tidy up in a hurry.

As much as I hate the idea of a “junk drawer”, I have one. The drawer that is in an awkward spot to begin with is where we have ours. Full of useful items that have no other home, I have compartmentalized this space with Velveeta cheese boxes and a small fishing-lure box. It’s been the home to our household flashlight, tape, pencils & pens, fuses and batteries. We keep steel wool in there, too – but it a different box as the batteries, as steel wool in combination with a 9-volt battery can cause a fire – I did not know this until last summer, so keep that in mind if you have a junk drawer of your own! In our house, the kids are not allowed to put anything in the junk drawer. Is essence, it’s more of a “utility drawer”; we don’t allow anything that is just junk to go into it – so remember, the “junk drawer” shouldn’t be a hiding spot for random stuff. The Box Method works in the kitchen, too – if you’ve accumulated your mother-in-law’s Tupperware, send it back! If you put some cookies or cupcakes in one of those containers, she may forgive you for having held onto it for the last three months.

The bathroom is really an important place to keep clean. Now is a good time to clean out expired things like cosmetics, sunscreen and medications. NEVER flush old prescriptions down the toilet. In our area, we can turn them in to local law enforcement, clinics or hospitals. Check with your local agencies before disposing of these items.

Once your house has been de-cluttered, you are ready to begin Day 2… go ahead and wait until next Saturday…Sunday is a day of rest, right?

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