February 3, 2012

Making a Temporary House a Home | First Things First

First things first. Par down, par down and par down some more. I know, I know, this is not very fun. But it is an important step necessary to making a house a home. If you move as often as I do, you never know what type of house you will be living in next. A house full of clutter isn't very relaxing. It also does not give way to pretty decor. I admit this is something that does not come naturally to me at all. I am a reformed pack rat myself.
Growing up in an Air Force family, I moved frequently as a child as well. I am sure my parents loved the fact I lugged around boxes of cards I received in the mail, junk I won at a school fair, and years worth of church bulletins. I have this innate ability to attach sentimental value to almost anything. It's an illness.

I also have this problem in thinking, "What if I need this later?" Later has never come for me. Yes, there are certain papers and records you should keep. Thankfully, in the digital age you can almost always find these records online or contact the source to have another sent to you if need be. As for the papers you truly need to hang onto, they can be stored in a small filing cabinet that takes up very little room.

So, what are some ideas for parring down? Here are just a few:

1. General Decluttering: Join me in Beth Dargis's Declutter 2012 challenge. You can find Beth's calendar here. You can follow along with me as I tackle the items on the calendar each Monday in my Declutter With Me series.

2. The Kitchen: Keep only the minimum.
Tabletop | I love dishes. LOVE THEM. I used to have at least four full sets of dishes. However, my family always reached for the same dishes. There was never a time I needed them ALL. My husband and I made a decision to sell two of those sets. {One set is our wedding china and we will always keep that. It is currently in storage in the States.} We then spent quite a bit of time looking for a practical, pretty, neutral set of dishes that we agreed on. We finally settled on these. After they arrived and were unpacked, we donated any remaining dishes we had left.

Prep + Serveware | In my house, these are interchangeable. Here are all the bowls I have. Two vintage Pyrex bowls, a large salad bowl from my wedding and two bowls I picked up in Soufflenheim. I also have two Corningware bakers with lids and a shallow pasta bowl from Soufflenheim. {I think the pasta bowl will be headed to donation soon.} I use those for baking as well as storing  leftover food. Most of the time, the sides we have with dinner are small enough to fit into a bowl from our dinnerware. I also use the large dinner plates as platters.

Flatware | We received a very simple set of flatware {that we chose} as a wedding gift ten years ago. We still have only that set. Along the way, we seem to have lost quite a few tea spoons. I very recently purchased a set of six from IKEA as those are the spoons my kids use the most. We go through the whole set in less than two days. We run the dishwasher almost daily. It works. There are no dishes piling in the sink because we need to wash them to be used again almost immediately.

Utensils | I purchased the bamboo set of utensils from Pampered Chef about 18 months ago. I just received the silicone Le Creuset utensils for Christmas. Together, I use these utensils for about 90% of my cooking. Occassionally, I use the OXO spatula and spoon. Very rarely do I use the pasta spoon or masher. Actually, I need to donate those.

Cooking Accessories | I have a bunch of cool tools that are great for cooking. Thankfully, they are small. I use them occassionally and they are easy to store. I use the Pampered Chef adjustable measuring spoons and measure-all cups multiple times a day. I also use the solid measuring cups and rolling pin frequently. Those are my MUST HAVES.  The other things in here really could stand to be donated.

Pots, Pans + Bakeware | I have a large nonstick skillet from Pampered Chef as well as a large Le Creuset pot that I use for everyday cooking. I have two bakers from Soufflenheim, two cookie sheets from Pampered Chef, a Pampered Chef stoneware loaf pan and some generic muffin pans. They are all very easy to store. I have some old nonstick pots that I really need to replace. I use those for boiling eggs, etc.

3. The Bathroom: Minimize!
Towels | In our master bath, we have two white bath towels, {We had four until a recent laundry mistake. Oops!} two white hand towels and several Norwex washcloths. In the kids/guest bath, we have several sage green towels as well as some very cute personalized towels my mother in law made for the kids. All of our towels were wedding gifts. We have yet to buy any towels. {Until I replace those white towels I ruined!!}

Products | I once had a mentor tell me she never accepted free samples of makeup, toiletries, etc. She is a genius. My kids and hubby have all used the same toiletry products for years. It really simplifies things. Sometimes we keep a replacement, most of the time I replace as needed. Having very little toiletries to clutter our bathroom is really nice. I have a product problem. I have way too much stuff. I collect makeup I never use. I truly use the same makeup every single day. I need to get rid of the rest, but I haven't been able to make myself do that quite yet.

4. Closets: If you think about it, most people could do with a lot less clothes. All we really need is a few pair of jeans, some nice tops and a couple of cardigans. I am not an expert on this subject, so please don't look to me for specific advice on clothing! I do know we have way too many clothes. I had a realization that a lot of clothes = a lot of laundry. I have really parred down the amount of clothing our family has, but we could stand a little more weeding out. My goal is to have everything fit nicely into our dressers and closets with space to spare.

5. Books: We have a lot of books. Most of them are books we don't want to get rid of, but we do not use. I came up with a good idea of storing them in clear containers such as this. That way, we can look into the box without actually opening it when we are searching for a specific title. The system works very well. We kept these books in storage either in a basement of storage room. Right now they are safely stored in the States.

6. CDs/DVDs: We have too many of each of these. They were taking up way too much room. My hubby and I decided to recycle all of the cases and bought cd/dvd storage cases that hold 100. We have two with music and one with movies. This takes up far less room than when the cds/dvds were in there original cases. They fit nicely into a small drawer in our armoire.

7. Toys: I try to regularly go through my kids' toys with them and weed out those that are broken or no longer loved. Just having Christmas, it is definitely time to do this again. Although my kids do have too many toys, I try very hard to keep them out of site when their rooms are picked up. The toys are kept in multiple bins within their closets or in drawers/on shelves of their furniture. This, of course is a personal preference. But I do find it makes the overall atmosphere of home much more calm. On a daily basis, my kids drag out quite a bit of their toys. We help them completely clean their rooms about once a week.

8. Laundry: I used to keep a laundry basket in each person's room. That made doing laundry very challenging and frankly, it never got done. When we moved into our new house on post, I had everyone put their dirty clothes in the laundry room. We have a sorter similar to this. {Local friends: I got it at Momax in Boeblingen.}When one of the compartment {or all of them!} is full, I do a load of laundry. It has really helped me to stay on top of those piles of dirty clothes.

Well, I think that covers nearly everything. I hope this post helps you with some  ideas to par down in your own home. Now that we have covered this, we can move onto the fun things next week!