Thursday, 30 June 2011

Consigning clothes: the journey

Contrary to conventional wisdom, I haven't tossed or given away all my old clothes. No, I've started to consign some. I say "started to" because so far consignment is a journey to an unknown destination.

A couple of points about consigning clothes:
  1. Consignment shops are choosy. They each have their own clientele, and they select clothes that are marketable to that clientele.
  2. Consignment shops don't store anything. They don't just choose what they'll accept, they also choose when they'll accept it. That is, when it's in season, and when they have space for it.
That's why I found myself travelling across town with bags full of clothes, and bringing half of it back home again.

On the up side, the shop accepted 14 things (technically 17 because 3 were sets, but who's counting?). I'll get 50% of any proceeds.

The shop rejected the other 17 things I brought, but offered to accept 7 of them in August.  I can probably get at least $100 for those 7 things if I'm willing to store them for two months and take them back across town.

And then there are the clothes that I didn't bother to bring with me, since I only presented the best of the bunch.

So I still have this lovely collection of "consignable" clothes...

What next?

I'll follow up with another consignment shop which told me to call back next week, and I'll hold the fall clothes until August.

As I write this it feels pretty pathetic. But I'm stubborn and curious, so I'm willing to see how it plays out.

In the meantime, I've tossed a lot, so I've got space in my closet and empty bins in my basement, and I don't mind hanging on to these things for two more months.

And happily, despite the shopkeepers' invitation to "look around" while she reviewed my goods, I managed to get out without buying anything new, or rather old, although I was seriously tempted by a black silk satin Tahari dress with a knock-out ruffled hem.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

There's hope

At last -- I have an appointment to bring clothes into a consignment shop tomorrow! I've picked out the best of the bunch, at least half. It's a lot of clothes. Now I have to squeeze them all into garment bags and hope that they make the grade.

Oh dear,
won't you sell my
old clothes for me!

Monday, 27 June 2011

Stop-and-drop toy consignment

What a weekend.

Friday evening: hosted in-laws for supper.
Friday night: attended party -- first non-work party without child in almost four freaking years!
Saturday morning: worst hangover ever.
Saturday afternoon: mommy & son time on the patio, at the grocery store, and behind the scenes at the local NHL arena -- J particularly enjoyed body-checking imaginary opponents into the boards.
Saturday evening: hosted friends for supper.
Saturday night: sleep, beautiful sleep.
Sunday morning: picked up my dad at the airport.
Sunday afternoon: hosted J's 3rd birthday party Part I (the family party).
Sunday evening: J's birthday party continued.. Did I mention that I was still recovering from Friday night?
Sunday night: deep, deep sleep.
Today: up at six; golf with dad; fun with J...

Did I mention that I'm an introvert?

Where did I get all this energy?

Could it be, possibly, the joy of clutterbusting?

On Thursday afternoon I took a huge volume of toys to a consignment shop. Their stop-and-drop system rules. Basically, I dropped my toys off, no questions asked, no appointment necessary. I was in and out in five minutes.

They promised to review my stuff within a few days and call me to pick up anything they didn't want. I figured there were bound to be a few rejects, which I would then drop in a donation bin. But no. I got a message the very next day thanking me for the great toys which will all be displayed for sale in their shop(!). I'll get 40% of any sales within the next 90 days. After 90 days anything unsold will be returned or donated. This system is a thing of beauty.

I can't wait to see how it turns out!

Wednesday, 22 June 2011


No one wants to consign my clothes! They haven't even seen them.

Apparently I'm not the only one who's been purging her wardrobe around here. The local consignment stores are full...

"Call me in two weeks."
"Call me in August"
"... in September"


Monday, 20 June 2011

Still playing with clothes...

I was pretty disappointed with the prospect of returning two big bins of clothes to the basement, so I gave them another look. 

I realized that there's room for my off-season, business, and too-small clothes in three small, recently-emptied, drawers in the guest-room closet. 

I'm much happier with this, because I did not want to put any clothes back in the basement. When it comes to clutter, out of sight isn't out of mind.

Then I turned to the "rags" bin. 

Since I wanted to keep a painting outfit, I put a pair of jeans and a couple of tops back in my closet. Better to keep them with the rest of my clothes, instead of hidden away in a (packed) basement. 

I took the wearable "rags" out of the house and dropped them in a donation bin. Getting them out of the house felt great.

Now, instead of two full bins going back into the basement, I have just a dozen rags. 

This feels much better.

On the consignment front, I discovered that the local consignment boutique isn't taking anything until August. What a drag. I've got call in to two other shops.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Now what do I do with it?

I finally finished going through my clothes yesterday. 

started last weekran out of time, and then took a break.

When I returned to the task, I was a lot faster.

In the meantime, I'd been to a business-social function. In the past, this would have meant lots of outfits on, outfits off, and general angst. This time, I was able to see everything in my closet knowing that it all fit me. I picked out my clothes and got dressed in less than five minutes. This was great motivation.

Here's how I tackled my clothes.

I dragged all my clothes out of the bedroom closet, the armoire, the laundry area, and two bins and a portable "closet" in our basement. I hadn't really noticed before how many places I had clothes stashed away.

I gathered it all in our guest room.

Then I went through everything and put it into one of these categories:
  1. Garbage. (I put these things directly into my son's diaper bin, for obvious reasons.)
  2. Give away or sell. (Initially these were separate categories, but I kept getting caught up trying to decide whether to give away or sell.)
  3. Keep and mend. ("Do you want it enough to actually mend it?") (Nothing went into this category!)
  4. Keep and store -- Halloween. (Two things: a black silk skirt that would make a great Batman cape; a black velvet tunic.)
  5. Keep and store -- business clothes. 
  6. Keep and store -- off-season clothes.
  7. Keep and store -- too small. (Wear-dated for one year.) 
  8. Keep and store -- too big. (In the end I kept just one thing in this category. A pair of gorgeous black wool pants with a black satin stripe down the outer seams. I should ditch these because I don't ever want them to fit again, but they are really great, flattering pants...when I was two sizes bigger than I am now. Hmm.)
  9. Keep and wear now.
I went as fast as possible and tried to imagine myself shopping. I'm a slow shopper, so I asked myself, "Do you love it?" "Does it make you feel good?" Also, "Do you ever put this on only to take it off because you don't feel good in any way?" That's an easy good-bye.

I did 5 loads of laundry at the same time. Distracting but surprisingly effective. Every time I ran to the basement to switch loads, I witnessed the incredible amount of crap down there.

As contemplated, my remaining too-small clothes are now in a wear-dated bag. It's practically a minimalist's closet: three pairs of pants; shorts; a turtleneck; a cardigan; and ten pairs of new cotton undies, which I look forward to wearing five pounds from now. 

If these clothes don't fit in a year, I'll throw in a t-shirt and eBay the lot under the heading "Complete Minimalist Wardrobe".

My own wardrobe is far from minimalist, but it's much trimmer now and it fits me.

I still have a bin that holds off-season and business clothes (unworn since I quit my job but definitely keepers), along with the wear-dated bag.

Although I threw out lots of other clothes, I kept a bin of "rags". That is, clothes I'd be happy to rip up or paint in. Why, oh why? Possibly because my hubby recently bought a 10 lb. bag of rags!  I'd rather toss those purchased rags and use my own. And I'd like to have something I can wear to paint a room...

I just realized that "rags" was not one of my nine categories. How did this happen? This bin is pretty much as-is. I guess I got lazy. Or rushed. Added a label and felt good about it. Fell for the organization trap.

Clearly, I have more culling to do there. And apparently writing about this process has some use for me. In the meantime...

... I now have all of these clothes that I've decided to sell or give away!
Going Soon
Yes, this picture makes me smile. 

I'll be even happier when it's gone. It's all in good condition, since the worn stuff either went out in the garbage or into that "rags" bin. The easy thing would be to put it all in donation bags and be done with it. But I like the idea of a little cash in my pocket. While I'm tempted to Craig's List it, I'll probably compromise and consign it. I won't get as much for it, but I'll be able to get rid of it quickly.

So, next steps:

  1. Divide it into three sets -- dressier consignment; casual consignment (for a different consignment store); charity.
  2. Move it on out.
  3. Do something about that "rags" bin...

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Freezer burn

So mundane, but I finally emptied out my freezer today. Somehow it seemed easier to buy more meat than to reach into that cold, cold box. I finally took the plunge.

It's surprising how quickly frozen food spoils. I'm throwing out expired mini waffles, mini pizzas, and a Lean Cuisine entree; two mostly-empty freezer-burned tubs of ice cream; a piece of breaded fish in an unmarked baggie; and a half-full bag of frozen beans that tasted like dust.

Happy discovery: a bag of Mediterranean mixed veggies that I must have bought when I wanted to spoil myself. Perfect for tonight's supper.

To ensure that we eat all of this soon I'm making an inventory to print and post on the freezer door:

  • Ground beef (2 unlabelled freezer bags, about 3 pounds total).
  • Stir-fry beef strips (2 packages each >1 pound).
  • Rib roast.
  • Boneless pork chops (5).
  • Bone-in pork chops (2).
  • Pork roast.
  • Boneless chicken breasts (6).
  • Mini hamburger buns (11).
  • Regular hamburger buns (4).
  • Mini hotdog buns (10).
  • Regular hotdog buns (6).
  • Bagels (5).
  • Waffles (4 2).
  • Lean Cuisine entree (1).
  • Pie shell (1).
  • Mini tart shells (12).
  • Vanilla ice cream (unopened).
  • A tiny amount A full container of my husband's favourite ice cream.
  • Homemade beef stock (4 x 2 cups).
  • Cooked pasta for J's lunches (5 x 2 cups).
  • Chopped spinach (500 g and 300 g).
  • Peas (about 500 g).
  • French fries (about 300 g).
  • Blueberries (about 300 g).
An embarrassment of riches in our kitchen. Looks like it's burger time.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Nancy Drew's shoes

We interrupt this week's clothing clutter-bust to bring you an extra-large bag of clutter hauled out of the basement today.

Contains three large stuffed dogs, one promotional monkey, and one stuffed bunny with x-shaped eyes that recites "Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep..." in the creepiest voice imaginable.

Yes, I'm throwing out five of my son's toys. He has lots more. As a precautionary measure, and due to lack of space, I've stored them in the basement for the past few months, without complaint.

I'm also throwing out a pair of incredibly comfortable mid-heeled patent leather pumps, which would have been perfect for the original Nancy Drew, until the leather got scraped. I wish I could say they got scraped in an old mine shaft, but it was probably just a parking lot.

Also five empty shirt-boxes. "What if I need to gift-wrap a shirt?" protests my clutter voice. I'll wrap it without a box, that's what. Check out Clutterkiller's piece on The "What If's?". I took her advice and moved quickly when I got the urge to toss these boxes.

I'm pretty sure that I put a couple of other things in the garbage bag that I've already forgotten. Amazing how that happens.

Now it's all on the curb with the rest of our garbage and recycling, waiting for the garbage and recycling trucks...

In the meantime, I'm resisting the urge to run outside and retrieve the pumps to make a kick-ass Nancy Drew Halloween costume. As if I could pass for a teen-aged crime-stopper anymore. As if I even go to Halloween parties anymore! But maybe when Nancy grew up she became a clutter-buster, hm?

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

I'm doing it!

Clothes are hard to purge. Aside from the emotional reasons (see previous post), clothes are hard to purge because:
  1. Evening clothes, though rarely worn, are expensive and hard to buy when needed (e.g. "babe, did I mention that client dinner at the Swanky Hotel on Thursday?"). Of course it's been more than a year since I wore most of them, but I'm keeping my favourites. 
  2. Clothes that aren't useful today might be in future. Case in point: hundreds of dollars worth of suits, untouched since I quit my job a few months ago. I'll work again one day. I might even wear suits again. I'm keeping my favourites.
  3. Clothes that are too small today might fit in the future. While conventionally regarded as a delusion, I believe this to be true. I remember a day when I pulled on some old jeans and they fit again. What a great feeling! Admittedly, I had just reached bridal weight, and they stopped fitting again shortly after the honeymoon. But now I've started jogging and yoga, and I'm no longer trapped in an office self-medicating with Peanut M&M's. Fitness could happen! Many would scoff, but if I truly love it, and if I would actually wear it if it fit, I'll keep it -- in one specially-marked bin labelled "Too Small -- Wear or Toss by June 8, 2012". 
  4. Clothes that are too big today might fit in the future. It's surprisingly hard to part with ultra-flattering fat pants. But that's the wrong attitude isn't it? Good riddance fat pants! I'm glad not to need you anymore.
Well, despite these little obstacles, I'm thrilled to say that the purge is on!

I'm not finished yet, but I've made a lot of progress today. I've thrown out several things and set aside a few piles of outgoing clothes, so far. My husband has his half of the closet back (I can't wait to get at his stuff too, but that's another story). I'm motivated and I'm going to continue tomorrow.

Clutter runs deep

I've often wondered why it is that I have such a strong desire to get rid of clutter, yet so little success at doing so.
Today I set aside the whole day to make a dent in my clutter. At some point I will go for a run (more of a walk/run because I'm new at this), because that's important to me too, and at some point I will make supper, because that's important to my family, but I have a big chunk of time here.
I decided to start with my clothes.
I feel so anxious about de-cluttering my clothes that I almost talked myself into de-cluttering more toiletries as a "warm up" to the clothes.
I can see now that starting with toiletries would just be procrastinating the clothes. I am very averse to this. I am afraid of it.
I decided to start by meditating, both because I'm trying to make a habit of it and because I thought it would help me get into a better space for this.
Not so much. I didn't find any peace, but I discovered something.
I realized that I have a lot of guilt. Well, I knew that, but I realized that I have even more guilt!
Almost two years ago, my mother died. This has been very hard for me. In lots of ways. Mostly, I miss her. A lot. Also, I feel a lot of guilt. Guilt about not being a better daughter. Guilt about wasted time. Guilt about not showing her how much I loved her. Guilt about being critical of her.
Among other things, I was critical of the way that she held onto things. I tried to help her, but in doing so I was critical of her.
One time I even went so far as to intentionally break a teapot right in front of her. She had received it as a gift but she did not like it. I was trying to show her that it was okay to get rid of an unwanted gift. I took the teapot and wrapped it in newspaper, and dropped it on her kitchen floor. It shattered. She started to cry. She tried to laugh, but I could see that she was very hurt. It was incredibly stupid of me. I feel like a monster. A cold, insensitive bully. I was really trying to help her. I thought that she would find it liberating. She didn't, of course. I've regretted it ever since, and yet I never brought it up again. I wonder if she was able to forgive me, or if she just felt horribly rejected by me, by this heartless creature that she had nurtured.
My mom also kept clothes. In my late teens I pulled out some clothes I was no longer wearing, to give to charity. My mom squeezed them into her dresser and continued to wear them. I found this embarrassing at the time, as any eighteen-year-old probably would. If those clothes weren't good enough for me, my mom deserved better too! But she didn't see it that way. She saw that they were wearable and it would be wasteful to give them away.
Now I feel that purging my own clothes would be a betrayal of my mom.
This is not easy.
I already feel that I was not a good enough daughter when she was alive. Can I get of my clothes while I feel that she's watching, and is disappointed in me?
I remind myself that feelings aren't facts, but I want to believe that she is watching. I want to believe that she is still with me.
I wish that she would forgive me and tell me that it's okay to do this.
I am amazed that my father has apparently been making some progress de-cluttering his home. And yet, he gave me bins of her clothes that I will eventually go through.
Maybe I will start with those easy toiletries after all.
I wish that I didn't feel that getting rid of clothes that don't serve me was betraying my mom. Let me start with that thought. I feel that it's a betrayal. Is it? It's not what she would do. Therefore in doing so I feel that I am rejecting her. Yet I don't love her any less. Is it possible to act differently from one's parent without rejecting them? I am rejecting her beliefs in this one area. Those beliefs were part of her frugality. For most of my life I have been anything but frugal. Very recently, I've become more frugal. Mom, you set a good example for me there, and I'm finally embracing it. But keeping clothes that don't fit, that don't suit me, that I don't want to wear, is not helping me. It's taking up space. It's wasting time. It isn't saving me any money. The money isn't spent, and if I'm not wearing these clothes then they aren't doing any good at all. I'm not criticizing your habits -- you actually wore your clothes! I'm just trying to make some changes in my life. To free up some space for me. I hope you understand.
I can see that I need to find a way to accept myself, to forgive myself.  She isn't here to hear my apology, or to forgive me, and I can't seem to accept that. Yet. I hope.
I suppose that my mom got her frugality from her own mom, another absolutely amazing woman. My Oma dismissed any thought of waste with the phrase, "During the war..." She would say this while brushing the visible mould off a blueberry muffin and handing it to me. I will never forget the taste of mouldy blueberry muffin, because I enjoyed it several times. It's hard to argue with someone who raised two kids in an occupied country, her husband hidden from the enemy under the dining room floor. My Oma lived until she was 93 and none of us ever got food poisoning. Two generations later, I still feel a little bit under siege. I just can't identify the enemy.

Monday, 6 June 2011

100 things I no longer have

Since I'll never be the "100 things" type, I decided to count the departed things instead. I just created a page to list the stuff that I've dispatched. 

I wonder if it's wrong to track busted clutter. Will this list be an ongoing tie to the clutter? I just read it and it doesn't feel good. Can I get away with just adding to the list without reviewing it?

When I am all done, if there is such a thing, I will click delete and celebrate. I am looking forward to that.

In the meantime, there is far more clutter in the house than on the list, so I have lots of work to do.

So far, the list is inspiring just because it is embarrassingly short...

Friday, 3 June 2011

Food clutter

Sometimes I do the stupidest things.

I had a full day of tasks ahead of me. The first was grocery shopping. I got that far.

But when I started to put the groceries away I had a sudden urge to clean the fridge. And I listened to this urge, even as I knew that it would derail my other plans.

Of course I told myself it wouldn't take long. Of course I knew that everything takes longer than I expect. And this took even longer than that!

Once I got into it I had a lengthy conversation with myself about my bad habits. I mean, who cares if the inside of the fridge is dirty? I didn't.

But when chilled food covers every inch of counter-top, and half the fridge-racks are washed and drying in the sun, there's nowhere to go but onwards.

The only point at which I thought that cleaning the fridge might have been a good idea was when I found a dead mosquito in there.

Anyway, my fridge is now sparkling, my to do list is barely off the ground, and (silver lining!) I've continued my small steps de-cluttering.

There weren't many expired things in the fridge, which is good news, but they're gone now.

Then our junk-food bin caught my de-clutterring eye. Yes, we had run out of room in our cupboards and started storing junk-food in a bin on top of the fridge.

This got inconvenient when my husband brought home a vat of protein powder with nowhere to go but on top of the junk-food bin. It's hard to enjoy good chocolate when you have to lift a vat of protein powder to get at it.

So, I am happy to say that the junk-food bin is now history! I started by tossing all the leftover Easter, Christmas, and yes, Halloween candy. This left nothing in the bin but pumpkin seeds and chocolate-covered almonds (his fixes) and dark chocolate bars (mine). And then I realized, there's room for those in the kitchen cupboards. Bye-bye junk-food bin!

Next stop, clothes...

Thursday, 2 June 2011

The plastic drawer

Today's de-clutter turned out to be more of a re-organization than a purge. It wasn't sexy but it did lighten our load a little bit.
As often happens, our big drawer of plastic food-storage containers would not close today.
As rarely happens, I decided to respond without the use of force.
  1. I spread a clean blanket on the floor, and emptied the drawer onto the blanket. 
  2. I picked out the containers that belong to my mother-in-law and moved them to the front entry.
  3. I picked out the things that belong elsewhere and put them away.
  4. I picked out the broken and orphaned pieces and recycled them.
  5. I tried to find other pieces to recycle, and realized that we do use most of this stuff. So, I picked out three containers that don't stack, and grouped them at the back of the drawer. If we don't use them in the next month then I'll give them away. 
  6. I put everything back neatly and found I had room to add our Pyrex food-storage containers to the same drawer. Having all the food-storage containers in one organized place will make them easier to find and might even reduce the number we need. 
As soon as I was done our dog Charley moved in and enjoyed a nap on the empty blanket. Sorry, no pictures of drawer or dog.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

One thing at a time

Without a lot of time for de-cluttering, I'm keeping my momentum going by tossing things as I encounter them.
One day it was toiletries we were never going to use, like the body scrub that made us itchy.
Another day it was the potty-training toilet-seat insert that shifted precariously when my son sat on it -- I don't think anyone could pee sitting on that thing!
Another day it was a bunch of old, stretched out underwear that I was keeping "just in case" -- just in case I ran out of clean underwear; just in case I needed a reason to drive extra-carefully to avoid ending up in a hospital gown in faded panties.
Odd series of items. Anyway, I'm glad to be rid of them.