Lately I’ve been feeling like we just have too much stuff. When we were first married we had a 1000-square-foot 2-bedroom apartment, and we fit into it just fine. When we bought our first house — a mid-sized townhouse — it seemed too spacious to be believed. We had several closets that were empty. The unfinished basement had nothing but a few boxes and an old desk. Upstairs, the whole living/dining room was unfurnished, a giant room for just running around in or rolling around on the carpet. The space was incredible.
Now we’re in a four bedroom, two-and-a-half bath house and it feels like we’re starting to push the limit.
Sure, there are the kids, and they have lots and lots of kid-related things, from toys to clothes to books to sippy cups to diapers. We’re kind of using that stuff, though. I’d dearly love to cull the toys, in particular, but the kids always seem to notice. I’ll throw out one broken pair of sunglasses that they haven’t touched in six months, and the very next day it’ll be, “Where’s those pink sunglasses that I LOVE WITH ALL MY HEART?” So not a lot of kid stuff gets disposed of around here.
But on top of all the kid junk, I also feel like I personally have too much crap. Every drawer seems full of random detritus that doesn’t have a purpose. Stuff falls out of every cupboard when you open it, stuff that I crammed in there because there it didn’t have a good location. I have half-used hair care products that I don’t use at all anymore. I have kitchen appliances that only see the light of day once a year, at best. I have cloth napkins that were a wedding gift twelve years ago that I have never used. EVER.
So recently I decided that I’d try to take just one drawer or cupboard, once a week, and go through it. Anything I hadn’t used in a year was gone — to charity, if possible, to the garbage if not.
I decided to start with one particular kitchen cabinet. It’s Little Miss Sunshine’s favourite cabinet to open and empty (aside from the snack cabinet, which is now locked). It was full to overflowing with rarely-used items like napkins, fancy placemats, and the fondue pot. Just about the only thing in the cupboard I ever used was my stand mixer — I do a ton of baking around here, since it’s so hard to buy baked goods that are egg and milk free — and it was getting pretty hard to get the mixer in and out of the cupboard.
My mixer, by the way, is probably my favourite kitchen appliance. It isn’t the most useful or anything like that, but I just love the thing. My mother is big on baking and her mixmaster is also her favourite kitchen appliance. When she’d pull out the mixer, we’d know that cookies and cakes and other sources of yummy goodness were not far away. My mom is the one who bought me my mixer — she saw it on a good sale back when I was in university. At the time I thought I would never use it much, and it was so big and such a pain to move around in my student days. But now I love it, I use it all the time, and it reminds me of my mom, so it has a nice sentimental quality, too.
When my mom bought the mixer, she worried about the fact that it had glass bowls. She thought they might break someday. But the bowls are very heavy and strong and I’ve actually dropped them a few times in the past 15 years with nary a chip. Still, every time I got out my mixer I’d worry about the fact that I had to kind of edge it through a narrow pathway between baskets and coasters and fancy Christmas tablecloths, so I really wanted to clear out that cupboard first, to avoid any breaking dangers.
I dragged everything out of the cupboard and almost everything got rerouted to the charity pile; the fondue pot got sent to our downstairs pantry shelves and the Christmas tablecloths went in the cupboard above the fridge. Left behind were a few coasters and hot plates, some cookie tins, and my beloved mixer.
I must say, I feel really, really good about getting rid of stuff and about having a tidier kitchen.
So Sunday morning, I had to make some granola bars for Captain Jelly Belly’s school snacks this week, as well as chocolate chip cookies for Gal Smiley to bring to school the next day as her birthday treat for the class (apparently a tradition, which we learned about last year — when did that start?).
I opened up my nice tidy cupboard with lots and lots of space and easily took out my mixer.
The bowls slid out of my hand and both smashed into a thousand pieces on the floor.
They haven’t made my model in years so I can’t get any replacement parts, and now the mixer is essentially useless. But you know what? I’m not actually all that upset about it. Ten years ago, I would have cried and demanded that Sir Monkeypants take me out THAT VERY SECOND to get a new one, one as close to exactly like the old one as possible. But it seems I’ve grown up. It’s just a thing. And my joy over having one cupboard, JUST ONE, that is neat and tidy and crap-free overshadows the loss.
I guess I’ve traded sentimentality for organization. I’ve come a long way, baby!