The Ghost of Christmas Past, or 309

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Okay, let’s face it. It’s 2 days until Christmas and I’m not going to decorate the mantel.

I got the tree put up. I got my shopping and wrapping done (thanks Mrs. Mary Kay, AKA No.2 Sis). I got my Christmas letter written and my cards sent out.

I’ve had the first of four Christmas celebrations. And I’m done. Well, except for the three parties this coming weekend. Then I’m done.

I was looking through some old photos of Christmases past.


Christmas past - 1



Christmas past - 2


Christmas past - 3


Besides doing all my Christmas chores this week, I worked on cleaning out the Studio. I donated 2 more boxes to Goodwill. That makes 309 bags, boxes and small pieces of furniture removed from the house since January, 2014. I thought I’d be done by now. Hah!

Stay tuned…

Mirror, Mirror, or 305

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No.2 Sis and I were complimenting No.8 Sis on her well put together outfit the other day, and we agreed that having a full-length mirror might help me do a little better with my couture. No.1 Sis was shocked that I didn’t have a full-length mirror. She had 2 that were slated to go to Goodwill, so she gave me one to take home.

I’m not sure it will really help, but I figure it can’t hurt. Or can it?

The mirror had slots in it for photos, and one of the pictures was of No.1 Sis’ grandson, “R”, at the age of 5. It was taken during a trip Sis, “R”, and I took to North Carolina to visit Dad. What a drive that was. How many ways can a 5 year-old embarrass his great-auntie?

We stopped at a motel with a pool one evening, and I took “R” swimming while Sis had a nap. “R” jumped into the pool, cannonball style, and I complimented him on the resulting splash. He yelled, “You cannonball! You’ll make a HUGE splash!” Thanks, sweetie.

I did train him to open doors for me though, and to call me “Princess Auntie Laurel”. I think it all evened out.



Back to the much more recent past, I worked a bit in the studio over the weekend and finished going through the latest crap tower. In addition to the 3 boxes/bags I pulled out of that pile the weekend before, I came up with one more item. The little plastic set of drawers had to go. I thought I’d keep it until I find a use for it, but it’s that kind of thinking that got my house into the overstuffed state it’s in. Decision made. It’s out of here.


Studio, after. (See before here.)

I haven’t been able to get any of the piles down to zero, so I may have to go through them again (and again). As they say in 12-step groups, “Progress, not perfection”. That still puts me at a total of 305 bags, boxes and small pieces of furniture I’ve gotten rid of since January, 2014.

Speaking of progress, when we arrived in North Carolina, we encouraged “R” to go to his great-grandfather and give him a hug. He stayed right where he was, crossed his arms over his chest and asked in a belligerent tone, “Hey Mister, ya got a boat?”

When we were leaving less than a week later, “R” ran to my Dad, gave him a huge hug, and told him he’d miss him.

Now that’s progress.

Stay tuned…

p.s. I shared this at Chic on a Shoestring.



Autumnal Equinox, Or 296

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It’s the Autumnal Equinox. Don’t forget to dance naked in the moonlight!

I took advantage of the cooling temperatures to get some work done in the garage last Sunday. It was around 70 degrees F, which was perfect, as my comfort range is 70-72. If it’s 68, I think I’m freezing, and if it’s 74, I feel I’ll faint from the heat.

Yes, I am a delicate tundra flower.

No.2 Sis came over to help me clean. I get so much more done with her help!

We broke down boxes from my over-shopping days. We stuffed the recycling bin to overflowing (it was already over half full) and I counted it as 2 bags. That’s a very conservative guesstimate.

Do you realize how sad it’s been for me lately, coming home to a porch devoid of delivered boxes? Sigh, my budget thanks me.

I put 2 bags of garbage in the trash bin. It was all packing material from the aforementioned boxes.

We uncovered the broken mate to the aspirational chair. That had to go in the trash bin, too.

I found several gym bags (unused, of course). I used to get them for free for buying other stuff. More clutter. They went into a bag for Goodwill.

No.2 Sis took a table that No.8 Sis had been storing in my garage. No.8 just had a big rummage sale, so she has room in her garage now.

No.2 Sis also took a stack of moving boxes that look like they’d never been used. I’ll count that as 1 bag.

And No.2 Sis took a bag of weeds that I’d pulled from around the maple tree (Rocky 2) this spring. She added the dirt swept up from the garage floor, and she’ll take it to the compost site. She’s so green.

The only trouble with sweeping the dirt out is the garage floor is flat now. I used to know when to stop the car by when I rolled over the big hump of dirt.

garage, sept 2015

I still have some boxes stacked on the side wall, and the work-bench needs clearing off again, but what an improvement!

So that’s 9 bags on Sunday, which brings my total to 296 bags, boxes and small pieces of furniture that I’ve gotten rid of since January, 2014.

Stay tuned…



Loll and Putter, Or 287

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I usually try to take one day per weekend to loll and putter.

I intersperse lying about reading, napping, and puzzle-solving, with a few bursts of house-cleaning activity.

Today, Saturday, was that day. I read a novel, napped, and played a hidden object game on my kindle. I lolled.

And I puttered. I typed up and e-mailed an assignment for my herbal studies.

I did a load of dishes.

I sorted through another pile in the art studio. That netted me 1 box of donations and 2 bags of recycling. I didn’t even count the flattened out boxes in the recycling. Why do I save so much paper?

studio-3, before

studio-3, after

Boy, that next pile is going to be a doozy. And I just love how it highlights my mad engineering skills. See how it’s stacked from the smallest box on the bottom to the largest box on the top?

I also ordered groceries, to be delivered tomorrow. That means I successfully procrastinated cooking for a day. Well played, I must say.

I started pulling together some outfits to wear next week. That inspired me to pull some things out of the closet that I haven’t worn and put them in a donation bag. I was able to fill an entire bag of clothes.

And, I started the laundry, even though I could leave it for “T” when she comes to clean. I’ll leave the towels and sheets for her, but if I wash the clothes I’ll have more to choose from when putting together outfits.

I think that was a good amount of puttering.

Yesterday, I heard a friend was having a rummage sale, so No.2 Sis and I boxed up my stamps and hers, and delivered them to the sale site. I hope they sell!

With the 1 box of donations, 2 bags of recycling, 1 bag of clothes, and 1 box of stamps, I’ve gotten rid of 287 bags, boxes and small pieces of furniture since January, 2014.

Stay tuned…

Studio Progress; 282

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I tackled another pile in the Studio.


I spent a while sorting through it until I felt it was done “enough”. Then I took a picture of it and loaded it onto this blog. Hmm, not done enough after all.

I went through the pile that was left over. Packed up a few more things for give-away. There! Took a picture. Crap. It still looked like crap.

I thought back to when I first started this decluttering process, and realized that I used to get rid of things until it hurt! It hasn’t hurt in a while.

I went through the left-over pile again and put things in give-away boxes until it hurt, at least a little. I probably should have kept going until it hurt a lot, but I didn’t. Still, I loaded 2 boxes of stuff to donate, filled 2 bags of recycling, and threw away a negligible amount of garbage.


Finally, an “after” picture I can take a little pride in.

My total bag count (bags, boxes and small pieces of furniture gotten rid of since January, 2014) is now 282.

Next pile that I work on, I’m going to make sure it hurts a lot!!!

Stay tuned…

p.s. I made $0, nada, zilch, nuttin’, extra in July.


Memphis, Nashville, and 264

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No.2 Sis, No.4 Sis, and I recently returned from a road trip to Memphis and Nashville, Tennessee. It was a pretty uneventful drive, considering it was around 1800 miles round trip.

Well, there was the time the GPS tried to give us driving directions to Cape Town, South Africa, instead of Cape Girardeau, Missouri (where we spent our first night). It would have been interesting to see how the computer thought we could navigate the Atlantic Ocean by car, but we corrected our destination before the GPS could figure it out.

We also had to make a new car rule because we were laughing so much during the trip. If anyone started wheezing and couldn’t catch her breath, we had to remain serious for 10 minutes. No more jokes.

The most touristy thing we did was visit Graceland, Elvis Presley’s home in Memphis. You can’t go to Tennessee and not visit Graceland. I was a little disappointed that we didn’t see Mom’s ghost in the Jungle Room, but I’m sure she was there somewhere. (Unfortunately, no photography is allowed inside Graceland).

Here we are at the Bluebird Cafe. From the left, it’s No.4 Sis, Aunt P., No.2 Sis, Cousin J., and me. I’m taller than all of them, but I’m also the highest on a slope, so I’m towering over my teeny-tiny relatives.

Bluebird Cafe and Franklin TN

And above, we’re posing by a cannon in a park in Franklin, Tennesee. From the left, that’s me, No.2 Sis, No.4 Sis and Aunt P.

Oh, I can see why Dr. Doogie, my chiropractor, asked me if my mother or grandmother were kind of round shouldered and hunched forward (yes to both). I’m doing that here. And I can see why my doctor wants me to lose 80 more pounds. Other than that, it’s a lovely, lovely picture.

The rest of the time, we visited with Aunt P., Cousin J. and her husband, and all of J’s kids and grandkids. Oh, and we shopped and ate and played cards. It was perfect.

Yes, I shopped. I tend to bring home lots of souvenirs from all my trips. I was pretty restrained on this trip, though.

The photo below shows what I bought. There’s a hand-blown glass bottle, an Elvis mug, a bottle of spices, a tea towel, a scarf, and some postcards and greeting cards.

souvenirs from Tennessee

I knew I needed to get rid of some stuff, so I cleaned out the china hutch. I came up with a full box to donate. It consisted of a big Tupperware thingie, a mug, 4 gold chargers, 2 hand-made pottery bowls, 3 placemats, 6 cloth napkins, a nut bowl, and a set of four snack bowls for card parties.

In an unrelated move, I cleaned out the freezer and filled a bag of garbage. Not everything had an expiration date on it, but I’m pretty sure it’s time to ditch the pizzas my niece sold me as a fund-raiser for her middle school. She’s in college now.

The donation box, the freezer bag, and the two end tables I gave to No.2 Sis brings me to 264 boxes, bags, and pieces of furniture removed from my cottage, so far. Yay, me!

Stay tuned…



242, the KonMari Way

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I was so inspired by Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up (see Reading List #6) that I went through my half of my dresser and half of my closet again. I still need to go through the other half of the closet and 2 more dresser drawers.

I filled up 2 more kitchen garbage bags with clothes to donate by following her advice to keep only pieces that give me a thrill. Well, some clothes I kept just because they gave me a little tingle, but I definitely got rid of anything that made me shudder.

Now my socks are relaxed and on vacation, my tee-shirts have found their “sweet spot”, and my hanging shirts feel loved and respected. Happy sigh.


before KonMari


after KonMari

Stay tuned…

p.s. I shared this at Chic on a Shoestring and I Heart Organizing.



235, or Dr. Doogie and the Ice Pack

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I was planning on getting a lot done this weekend, but that was before I saw Dr. Doogie, the chiropractor, Friday night. She was poking around my ribs and sternum and asking if it hurt. Well, it didn’t until you starting jabbing me like a schoolyard bully.

Apparently, in addition to my back being its usual wonky self, my ribs and sternum were misaligned. How does that happen? She ordered me to go directly home and apply ice. There are two essential things I lacked for an ice pack. The ice, and the pack.

I stopped by the drugstore and bought a gel pack (similar to the one linked below, only I paid a lot more) and a bag of ice. I put the gel pack in the freezer to cool for future icings. I made a pack out of the ice cubes by putting them in multiple snack bags and putting the snack bags in a one gallon freezer bag. That made a pretty flat ice pack, and I thought I was pretty clever for thinking of it.

Ice pack

Although I won’t take the vacuum cleaner to the repair shop as planned, or make a Goodwill drop-off (too much lifting), I still need to do my weekly maintenance.


Kitchen: 12 minutes to load the dishwasher, clear and wash counters, and scrub the grill. I didn’t try any new recipes this week. I just grilled a few burgers and a couple of steaks to build meals around.

Queen Bedroom: 15 minutes to mate socks, put away clean laundry, clear some junk off of bed, and make bed.

Queen Bath: 5 minutes to clear counter and pick up dirty clothes.

Queen Closet: 20 minutes to put away clean clothes, clear dresser, and pick out outfits and accessories for the coming week.

I managed to fill the donation box that I started last week. I added the candle bowl that I de-limed a while back. I found the base to a similar one in the garage and found the bowl in the dining room hutch. I added that to the box, too. I added a tablecloth from the hutch, then I tucked in some books from the studio and called it done. It will go to Goodwill when I feel I can safely lift things again.

I also filled a bag of recycling. That puts me at 235.

Stay tuned…

p.s. I linked this to Cozy Little House.

Note to readers: This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission if you make a purchase using the link (whether it’s the product I recommend or another). Thanks for helping me earn virgin margarita money!


233, Part 2

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I cooked fajitas on Sunday and it still smells like a Mexican cantina today. Good thing I like the smell of Mexican cantinas. Although it does make me want a cerveza con lima.

I’ve been working 10 hour days since I returned from vacation, and my urge to declutter is dormant. I had to force myself into my art studio turned storage room. I promised myself I would go through one box. This box.

Box, before and after.

Box, before and after.

I found a 3-hole punch, 2 calculators, 3 expired credit cards, a box of outdated business cards, a crap load of CD’s and an even bigger crap load of floppy disks!

There was also a folder with my entire work and education history. I hope to never need that again, as I’d like to work at “The Company” until retirement. I’ll keep it just in case, though.

There was a large stack of used, but serviceable file folders, paper tablets, and hanging files. There was also a bunch of printer paper and another box of envelopes. I must have found a dozen boxes of envelopes during my decluttering. Did I buy a new box every time I needed to mail something?

I also found a large envelope of photos from a vacation taken in 2003. Where the vacation was taken is not immediately apparent. I should be able to figure it out with further study.

I started another donation box, and added to the garbage and recycling bins. Nothing came up to a full bag or box, so I’m still at 233, but progress is being made!

Stay tuned…




6 New Year’s Resolutions

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I was only going to make one New Year’s resolution this year. Unfortunately, No.2 Sis insisted that “be perfect” was an inappropriate resolution. She thinks maybe I should come up with something a little more realistic.

I don’t remember making any resolutions last year, although perhaps I did and just forgot. I got a lot accomplished in 2014 anyway.

I started decluttering the house and garage. I got 231 bags, boxes, and small pieces of furniture to a donation center, the garbage, or recycling. I’m not done, Goddess help me, but I’ve made a huge amount of progress.

I organized the Queen bedroom, Queen bathroom, Queen closet, and kitchen. And I got the chandelier hung in the Throne Room.

I started cooking, and I started eating in a more healthful way. Of course, there was one slip-up (lasting from Thanksgiving through Christmas), but I lowered my blood sugar enough to go off all of my diabetes medications, and lost 22 pounds.

I started this blog, and posted to it pretty regularly. Do you know how many projects like that I’ve started and given up on within weeks? I don’t even want to think about it.

One thing I didn’t do so well, was manage my finances. I ran a credit card up to the limit, and it will probably take two years to pay off. That’s IF I can be diligent with large payments and make no more charges.

So, here are my resolutions for 2015:

1. Cut credit card debt by half.

2. Continue decluttering and blogging.

3. Continue to cook, and eat well.

4. Take a photography course.

5. Take a tech writing course.

6. Learn Tai Chi.

That’s manageable, right? I’ll have to do a reality check with No.2 Sis to be sure.

Oh, I do remember making a New Year’s resolution for 2014. I was determined to finish my Herbal Studies course. That lasted about 3 weeks. I’m now going into the sixth year of a two year course, and it doesn’t seem important enough to add it to the above list. Hmmm, that’s giving me some information, isn’t it?

Happy New Year, and I wish you great success with all your endeavors!

Stay tuned…

p.s.  I shared this on Tweak It Tuesday at Cozy Little House.

And on The Creative Collection at Classy Clutter.

And on Flaunt It Fridays at Chic on a Shoestring.

And I Heart Organizing.