Friday, January 13, 2012

Sitting On My Butt, but...

6 weeks I've been sitting on my butt...thinking about my nest and my clutter. Yes, I had foot surgery and have had to stay off the foot for 6 weeks. I learned that I don't really want to sleep all day or read all night. That I don't have to gain 20 lbs or eat take out. That I don't like a dirty kitchen. That the cat box doesn't need to stink. That I can put in a pretty good day's work in a wheelchair!

Still sitting

I was just reading this post by Cindy of Cottage Instincts, which is just what I needed to get going with my big project for 2012: getting rid of 1/2 of my stuff! Cindy says to keep what you LOVE, and teaches us how to distinguish the LOVES from the LIKES. Thank you, Cindy, for inspiring me with your decorating blog! We certainly LOVE the same sort of things. I have so much great stuff that I LIKE--collections of art, dishes, nicknacks, furniture, craft stuff and clothes! I can't get my hands on enough magazines, paper ephemera, old postcards, old books, pictures, sheet music,,,...etc. to keep me satisfied. Then there is so much stuff, I can't get rid of it...How do I decide what to keep?  My name is Sherry and I'm a paper hoarder.

Speaking of magazines, all of my Somerset Magazines are non-negotiable--I may keep them forever! I read, reread, dogear the pages, whip off my glasses, and turn up the lights--I don't want to miss a single detail. I used to be the same about Country Home and Mary Englebreit's Home Companion, I miss them! (rumor has it that Mary is bringing back the magazine!) Country Living is an old standby, but I am sure missing COLOR! I like the white room here and there, but lately it seems that they feature 2 or 3 white-interior homes per issue! Give me some green and some purple! Give me robins egg blue and sunny yellow! Please...?  Still speaking of magazines, have you seen MaryJane's Farm Mag? It's sweet!

So, getting back to my I looked around me, stuck at home like I have been, I realized that I could not escape the mess. I couldn't just drive off with my camera and be gone all day. I couldn't while away hours at Barnes & Noble or Homegoods. I had to start cleaning out the corners. I'm sick of avalanches everywhere I turn.

Love the couch, like the table, love the rug, like the art...

I started by volunteering to host Christmas eve dinner at my "house." Which made me look at the place through someone else's eyes. Most people like my place and the ambiance (while they secretly flinch at the quantity of stuff!) They love the little vignettes and the collections. There's something to look at everywhere! I have such neat stuff!  I made that? I'm so talented....Sigh. All I could see was stuff, no style.

Okay, so what stuff is unnecessary? I got rid of piles and piles of paper. I went through 5 boxes and stored what remained in 1 storage box with room to spare. I found things I have not seen in years, and must not have needed! So I got rid of them. I started putting things with other like things, descattering the clutter.

It was worse than this!

I needed to do some crafting and couldn't even get near the craft area with my wheelchair. The houseplants were overwhelming the room and I can't seem to stop propagating them. So I rearranged them all so I could reach them to trim and water them. I cut the babies off and gave them away, I threw away tons of cuttings, only saving a few of the best to start more. Pulled all the dead leaves off them and fertilized them all. Then I moved a few more inches into the craft "room" and started weeding out the clutter. In one afternoon I got into the room and found the materials I needed to begin making and wrapping gifts.

I attacked my desk and moved the printers into better positions and threw out another ton of paper. I made a paper cutting area on a small folding table. I organized the drawers. I took down the same old pictures and hung some sweet bird prints with robins' egg blue background. Nice. My Buddhist altar area was neat, so I didn't have to do anything there except vacuum. And vacuum I did! I dug out the huge pet hair remover upright and vacuumed everything I could reach. I had to empty that baby 3 times! Between the dried leaves, dead flies and wasps, the newish wool rug and the cats, the place had been less than hygienic! Wow! What a change.

Harlequin Ware--Interested?

Then I tackled my kitchen. I rearranged a couple of pieces of kitchen furniture (I have very few real cabinets) and I filled 2 carpenter clean-up bags with recyclables! I like to think I can "do something" with those soup boxes and plastic bags and nice glass jars. Maybe I can do something with a couple of them, but not hundreds! What was I thinking?  Rearranging things showed me how dirty my habits had become! Yech-major cleaning! Then I got rid of a big dark hutch full of a ton of Harlequin Ware (a Homer Laughlin collection of colorful dishes from the early-mid 20th century). I picked out 4 place settings in the 4 colors I love and took pictures of what was left so I can list it on ebay. Then I packed them up and moved them out. I have an unheated "shed" type room attached to my space. It is becoming my warehouse. I rearranged my cabinets and shelves to fit more stuff inside for a later purge, finessed the art wall, put on my Christmas tablecloth and got ready to party. Christmas eve dinner was a nice pot-luck and all was well.

Lush plants, Lovely colors

My brother Jim wonders how you can vacuum in a wheelchair. He had some wild idea of my putting the handle between my knees and rolling the chair back and forth. I did call him a rude name for that picture. I find vacuuming in a wheelchair to be quite easy, and I don't even break a sweat! Meanwhile the houseplants are looking lush and the living room is still clean and neat. I'm maintaining the kitchen and keep coming up with more ideas like covering tins with scrapbook paper for matching storage bins. The craft room needs more work, though yesterday I did expose the sewing machine and hem my new sweat pants.

Yes, I sat on my butt for 6 weeks, but I did all that too! My 16-year old niece came in every day and asked what she could do. She helped with the things that I couldn't do and I gave her a few dollars a week. It is hard to find work around here! My brother kindly took the trash to the dump. It filled his whole van. My nephew moved the hutch into the warehouse.

How it could look

Now I plan to use Cindy's advice and look at everything I own. Do I like it? Do I LOVE it? We should surround ourselves with things we love. We should use our treasures every day. My new mantra is, "just because someone gave this to me doesn't mean I have to keep it forever!" Toss!  I plan to own 50 % less by next January. And I will LOVE everything I keep!

"This place" (left) -- I live in an old lumber store

This year is going to be life-changing for me. I've been unemployed since April 2011 and can't find any full-time work. I never thought I could retire early, but it looks like my best option at this time. I do pick up some part time work from time to time and I can keep doing that. I hope to be able to sell my warehouse of stuff on line or by tag sales. My brother may be selling this place, in which case I will move in with Mom. We both should benefit from that move. She could use the help and she has room for me if I stick to my plan. I look forward to living in a real house for a change! Who was it who said, "Be the change you wish to see"? I am learning to embrace change in the quest for a happier life.

Keep on Chirping!



  1. Dear Sherry, what a long and thoughtful post- yes I could need to do what you did those 6 months- in my mind it feels so very difficult,just to think about it, lol
    I love the colours you have in your sitting room, I also don`t have all white, but I do love the white I have together with soft blue in the kitchen, and soft rosa, and dark green in the sitting rooom.
    I wish you a beautiful year, and hope for you it will be great even without work-and even if you have to moove and start all over again.

  2. Hi Sherry, I'm impressed that everything you got done during those 6 weeks that you were laid up. Most folks would have sat around and done nothing but you managed to take the bull by the horns and get it done. I got lots of avalanches going on around here too. I keep saving stuff to upcycle or just because I feel guilty throwing it and it is causing big problems for me. I don't have a lot of storage around here and just keep stuffing stuff everywhere. Ugh! I did start in the kids room the first week of the new year and got lots done. The trunk of my car was full on Thursday but the Indian lady who takes care of our front office called her daughter to come take it all. woohoo! Such a relief. The purging and organizing will be an ongoing project for sure. I love your cozy, comfy style. Everyone feels the same way about my home -- they are intrigued because there is so much to see, but they cringe at the thought of dusting it all. Hope your foot is all better now. Best wishes, Tammy

  3. Such A Wonderful Post Sherry! Sorry To Learn Of Your Foot Surgery Butttttttt So Pleased To Learn Of Your Creative Way Of Dealing With It. I Definitely Cracked Up When Reading Your Confession To Being A "Paper Hoarder". Hahahaha Still Puts A Smile On My Face!

    Ya Know, I Sincerely Believe "All Things Unfold According To A Purposeful Plan." So I'm Thinking The Move (if your brother does indeed sell the place) To Your Mother's Might Be A Wonderful Change.

    Sherry, You Have Such A Positive Personality And Reading Of Your Recent Overhaul Has Lifted My Soul. Have A Glorious Weekend Sweet Friend. Love&Sunshine, Terri

  4. What an inspiring post Sherry, I absolutely love the colors in your house and your style. Doesn't it feel ggreat to declutter? I've been working on it for about a year now but there is still a ways to go — I gguess it is an ongoing project and I'm getting to the stuff that's harder to let go of I think!

    I wish you a speedy recovery. The snow and sunlight is beautiful in our part of the world today, isn't it?!

  5. Your post is inspiring. We should all reduce by at least 50 %. So much time in life is taken up by tending to stuff. I cannot believe you accomplished all that from a wheelchair! Congrats!

  6. Dear Sherry, sorry about your foot but it seems that you have used your time well. Your home always comes across so very delightful, so much colour;) Love that Harlequin Ware image;))
    Have a great Sunday,

  7. Good for you, Sherry!!! And by the way, my brother vacuums in a wheelchair. :)
    You know, when we moved from a McMansion to our tiny cottage, we got rid of so much stuff. I kept questioning why I had thought I had needed it all in the first place.
    But I love living simply, with items that are useful and with little touches of what I find beautiful. Most of the art I dabble with requires very little space. Watercolors are much simpler than oils for instance. And the biggest surprise of all? I feel content because we have everything we need for a happy life.
    Glad to hear your 2012 is off to a great start!

  8. Oh my goodness Sherry- you have been busy!! I would love to go through my house and just start getting rid of stuff! Way to go-- I think you have inspired me. If I don't love it-- it's going to be GONE!!

  9. I am late to this party but hope that it was a good one and you have recovered from your surgery to the point of not needing a wheelchair...."She" is also on a purge mission. It goes slowly but the results are sooooo gratifying. Or so "she" tells me. Purrsonally, it wears me out so I nap ;) Hoping you are staying warm up there.....



  10. Oh my goodness Sherry. I am so envious! I started my most recent purge last September while i was on vacation and have been doing a little bit at a time since then. I got rid of LOTS of stuff but still have a lot left to purge. Like you, I kept a ton of Stampington magazines only l had like the first six years of Somerset Studio. I had to let them go although I have quite a few of Somerset Life, Home, Holidays, etc now. I don't want to collect but they are so hard to resist! You are now my inspiration. As I continue my sorting, purging and organizing, I will keep thinking of you!

    Hope you are feeling better and happy Valentine's day!
    Sharon :-)


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