Wednesday, January 4, 2012

2012 resolution - Use it or Lose it

How much stuff do you have lying around the house "just in case"? I admit to being absolutely terrible for hoarding potentially useless stuff that might never see the light of day, my rationale being "Ahhh, but you never know".

Need a pirate costume, disco diva, heavenly angel, hairy biker? No problem. I have so many scraps of material, feathers, glitter, buttons, etc. that I could dress the chorus of a West End play - at a moment's notice. I really need to go through the boxes and at least chuck out some of the duplicates. I should also try to give away some of the beautiful bolts of fabric in there. I used to sew quite a lot, but these days the sewing machine is brought out for halloween costumes and patching the knees of trousers that still fit the 8 year old.

My huge crime however, is not so much the "you never know when it's going to come in useful" stuff, but the stuff that's "too nice to use", and I'm not just talking about my wedding china.

 A few years ago I bought a quantity of the most beautiful gift bags at Costco. I still have 80% of them because I keep holding back and making do with another, lesser gift bag. How rude of me! In effect, I'm taking one of the fab bags out, thinking of the gift recipient and deciding that they're not worthy of said gift bag.  I resolve to use all the bags up by the end of the year.

Ditto with all the gift creams and smelly stuff I have. How can they be "too nice to use"? There's only one use for them, and if you leave them lying around for too long, they tend to smell a bit "off" or the ingredients separate. They're not even good for re-gifting at that point.

And ditto the various spices and herbs in my pantry. Did you know that most of them have about a six month shelf life? Go on, take out one of those little jars from way in the back and do a blind smell test. If they're really old, you won't be able to smell the difference between the parsley and the paprika. So, not that I'm a fab cook (or even an enthusiastic one) but I'm going to use up the older stuff in every meal until my cache is under control. I have so many spice jars they cascade everywhere if I so much as look at them.

Challenge - take a look around your house and see if you're hoarding stuff. Make me feel better!

22 comments:

  1. I know what you mean, but I always find that the minute I throw something away I will need it again - that invitation will come to a pirate costume party, or a recipe will call for cloves....

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  2. Guilty, guilty, guilty. Do you think there's a rehab programme for folks like us?

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  3. I am the opposite and re-gift or thift away loads of things every month or give to the cleaners. We don't even have a coffee machine anymore. Love this post as was thinking about this. (My friend asked me how I could possibly do without a black suit just in case i had to go to a funeral) My parents keep everything, it's all in the same place as it was 20 years ago and that is very comforting. I'm constantly rotating it all and I wonder if I'm fooling myself....

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  4. I go back and forth between going really minimalist and having things "just in case". I mean yes, we don't use the nice china or glasses very often, but you can't be giving guests your chipped every day stuff either. And for funerals, better to have the one suit (which still fits) that having to go out and buy one for the occasion.

    At the moment I am pretending that we're moving, and going round asking myself whether I would box things up and take them along. I also happen to volunteer for the school jumble/garage sale which means that I can donate loads of stuff and know that the funds are going to a good cause.

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  5. So true about the nice smelly stuff. I have loads of it lurking around and there never seems a nice enough occasion to use it.

    I've a new years resolution to wear all my clothes. So I'm looking surprisingly smart in dresses and skirts. Quite enjoying it!

    Happy New Year, may 2012 be clutter free...

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  6. I'm not too bad as far as hoarding goes. We never had the space in the UK, but here we do, so any hoarding instincts have surfaced. I'm bad at throwing out shoes. You never know when it might be useful to have a grotty old pair of trainers to potter round a muddy garden in. But I have several old pairs of shoes on that basis.

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  7. Wait, most of those spices only last 6 months??? Sigh. I have some MORE cleaning to do. Much like you I have lots around "just in case"!

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  8. I'm a long-time silent reader, but can't keep quiet on this one. I could've written this! Really!

    My ex-husband says I could be on that show "Hoarders". I've never seen it, but I think he is exaggerating. I hope he is. :-O

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  9. I'm a shocking hoarder and like you I have gift bags and cards I don't send out bvecause they are too nice - toptally idiotic when I think about it! maybe I should just give them too myslef then at least they'd be used!

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  10. What a great mantra that all of us need to chant! Life is too short, we need to enjoy everything to the fullest - thanks for this great reminder!

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  11. Welcome Feather - glad to hear your voice, especially when it's in unison with mine! I don't think I'm nearly as bad as those hoarding people, and I hope you aren't either. They're very scary.
    And ditto Cafe - love those cinnamon raisin breakfast crisps. Might just have to try my hand at them.

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  12. You are absolutely right! I am not a hoarder and often need something that I threw out a few weeks before, so hoarding is not necessarily a bad thing. But I usually don't use my best stuff, and I should!

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  13. This post really made me smile because I'm just the same!! I have tons of smellies in the cupboard that I haven't used because they're too nice to use, lol. Also, my sister in law gave us presents this year in beautiful boxes she'd bought from Costco and I've saved them to use next year. But I'll be choosing carefully as to who gets them!!

    CJ x

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  14. I have to agree with Nappy Valley Girl - when you lug something off to the charity shop only to realise six months later that that particular bag or chunky bead necklace would have completed the outfit you're planning in your head! That is the worst type of regret, accompanied as it is by a sneaking, guilty wish to rush out and buy a replacement!
    And what is it with gift bags? You're right! I assess peoples deservingness before deciding which one to use - I'm not even sure on what parameters, but I think it's a mixture of how posh the recipient is deemed to be, and what I can get away with off-loading. Just don't ask me who I'm saving those "best" ones for...

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  15. Hahahaha. Seriously? Is that seriously your spice cupboard? Hahaha! I am not surprised anymore that you advised me to maybe keep those bars - just in case :-)
    PS: To get to that window you would have to be one of 25 families to have a key through the first gate and then again one of 4 families to get through the 2nd one. Am not too worried here.

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  16. In the Netherlands we generally don't have enough space to hoard things. It's a matter of common sense to get rid of things that are obsolete and extra. I'm not much of a hoarder anyway, but especially not under these conditions. I also think about the people who will come after me and what they will have to deal with. I want to save them that bother.

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  17. I'm sure my mum bought me the same Costco gift bag selection. I tend to put presents in them for her, don't write on the tag and then she hands it back to me, or uses it for a present for me. A couple of the really nice ones have done the rounds a few times!

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  18. I've read your blog for a while now with out commenting - one of those silent stalkers. I'm an expat too - based in Washington DC (hope queenager is enjoying it). We are about the same age and I identify with a lot of what you write about. But this blog just hit me between the eyes - I am the same way in storing things that are to good to use. Don't you think it is something to do with the time and background we were brought up in? It is one of the things I love about the US culture - wrapping presents in beautiful paper/boxes/bows -(that often seem quite over the top for the actual gift). They use the right tool for the right job (and go out and buy it if they need it) - instead of making do - which is my childhood memory/background.
    Anyway - it's a constant source of debate between my American husband and myself - so I'm thrilled to see it is not just me! Love your blog.
    DMG

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  19. Trisha - I love the way people these days are very open about keeping gift bags and re-using them. Last time I gave a gift in a bag, the recipient (who was off to the airport and therefore couldn't keep it) asked me if I wanted it back to use again. And I took it!

    DMG - Welcome. Not sure what it is about me as my siblings aren't the same. I'm fairly crafty and can usually find a way to re-use things in a creative way (when I have the time). For example, all my Xmas cards are now in a cardboard box waiting to be made into beautiful gifts tags for next year. But it's just on more box to have to store!

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  20. Oh I totally loved this post! I did a major wardrobe clearout four days ago and I'm still on a high! I gave everything to charity (tho I could have made quite a lot on eBay) and now I know where everything is and what it matches. Best. Feeling. Ever.
    (Love your blog btw, found you through Metropolitan Mum and have pulled u into my Google Reader!)

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  21. This post just jumped out at me! Touched on the topic in my 9 December post. I've found that these "tendencies" are genetic. Thinking of my mother - well, I could go on and on there - and her sister - another extreme case - helps me fight it!

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  22. Ah well I don't hoard much myself but I am married to possibly the world's most determined and enthusiastic keeper of stuff. He also loves acquiring new stuff. I love him to bits but have often thought that if I were left alone the one consolation would be that I could get rid of stuff in a big way!

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