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Hi, I'm Elizabeth and I invite you to grab a glass of sweet tea and join me as I (along with my husband, John) renovate our love nest. We're both born and raised in the south and love to share with you some of our favorite recipes, stories and our life. We hope you'll come back often!

Friday, May 27, 2011

the clutter, the stuff and the house

We all have it. Clutter, that is. The stuff that fills our life. Fills our house and in some cases, drives us nuts. The show Hoarding is in a world of it's own when to comes down to holding onto things, I am happy to say, our house is not quite that bad. The shed, is another matter. I get hives if I think about it too long. Seriously. :)

I have a couple of rules when it comes to clutter, junk and the like.

1) If it's old, and no longer serves a purpose, or it's broken: it goes (yes, I'm talking about the computer cable that is so out of date and doesn't plug into anything we currently own, the old picture frame that is broken, the pot you don't use, and havent in 3 (or more) years because it's all scratched up. This also includes worn out clothes or anything you just plain don't use anymore (and no, I do NOT rip up old clothes for dust cloths. I buy plain white wash cloths at walmart for cleaning. That way I can see when they're dirty or old and everyone in the house knows what they're used for. and they're cheap).

My philosophy behind this: life it too short to be cramped in your house by things you don't use. If in the case that "you may need it someday" I guarantee you can either borrow it from a friend, a neighbor, or buy it again in a pinch. If you don't use it, you don't like it, or it's not currently serving a purpose, it's O.T.D. (out the door). Typically I give things to Goodwill. I like to recycle and give things another life if I can. Something you're holding on to may be better used by someone who really needs the item.

2) If it's a gift, a knick-knack or a sentimental piece: It deserves thinking about. This is a bit of a stickier situation. But I'm going to take the time to walk you through this step. It's the hardest part of de-cluttering.
sentimental items: Most sentimental items from my childhood are kept away in a tupperware box in the attic. Since my childhood I've gone through the box several times and donated items that were once much more important to me than they are now. I think that as we grow and live, certain things that used to have a lot of meaning, are exchanged for others and for memories. I learned a while back that just because I threw away the love notes from a high school boyfriend doesn't mean I don't remember our fun times together. It just means I needed that box to put something else in it, like the jewelry I wore on my wedding day. Just because the notes are gone, doesn't mean it takes away the memory.

I think a lot of people struggle with this step of cleaning. The candlesticks you got from your grandmother. Yes, you love your grandmother, but your taste in design is different. So for years the candlesticks sit on your buffet in the dining room. You don't really love them, but because of her you want to keep them.
Let's break it down: do you love the candlesticks? not really. Will you love your grandmother any less if you passed them on to another owner? No. Do the candlesticks have any particular significance to you other than they were hers? No. Then you have your answer. You can pass them on. Pass them on and THEN get yourself some new candlesticks that YOU love and buy them in her memory. Win. Win.

If your grandmother was kind enough to give you a set of candlesticks just for the heck of it, I'm sure she gave you some other more meaningful items that you should hold on to. This also goes for Moms, Aunts, Grandfathers, hubands etc. Here's an example of my own:

When my grandmother's house was purged last year (she's in assisted living now) there were so many items that I remembered from my childhood I wanted to keep. I had to really sit myself down and ask if I wanted the item for what it meant, or was I trying to hold on to the memory? In the end, it was the memory I wanted, not the set of blocks. As we continued to go through her home, there were items that John and I both liked and we needed in our home now. The mirror in our guest bathroom came from my Grandmother's home. We had just bought our home a few months prior and we didn't have a mirror for the guest bath. Now it serves 2 purposes.
1. It is useful for everyone who enters the bathroom.
2. It holds a memory of my grandparent's home that I can use all my life.

If an item doesn't serve a purpose for YOUR HOME and YOUR LIFE and you're only keeping ahold of it because of a memory, that's emotionally cluttering your home.

I like to have a goal that everything I have placed in our home has a purpose and meaning. I'm still working towards that goal. I too, struggle with "but what if I need it... " syndrome. I have to get tough on myself and really find out the reason for keeping it.

How do you handle the "extra's" in your life?

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I put a lot of hard work into the blog, so I love hearing back from you! If you wish, leave me a comment and help make Southern Comfort a fun place to voice your thoughts too! Happy Writing, Elizabeth

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