Mix Master

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.

IT FIGURES.

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!

7 thoughts on “Mix Master

  1. CapnPlanet

    Ah, I feel your pain. About being a packrat, I mean. I’m always sure that as soon as I throw something out, I’ll need it the next day. But I’m gradually learning to get over that. I try to keep in mind a few criteria: when the last time I used something was, how likely I am to use it again, and how easy it would be to get another one if I really needed it.

    if only houses were like disk drives — continually dropping in price and expanding in storage space. Now that would be awesome. Of course you’d want a search application for all the junk you’d accumulate…

  2. ahhh nooo! i totally didn’t see that coming for some reason. bummer. you should try to ‘google’ the bowls, i’m betting you will be able to find replacements somewhere…seriously.

    i am so proud to tell you that i started purging our cupboards and closets etc about eight or nine months ago (or was it a year and eight or nine months ago…can’t remember) you gain momentum once you start, it just seems easier and easier to get rid of stuff. i’ve sold things, given them away, taken stuff to charity and tossed stuff…it’s amazing. now when i try to tidy a cupboard or closet, i find that it’s so much faster because i’ve alreay decluttered alot.

  3. Sorry to hear about the mixer, but I’m proud of you for taking it in stride.

    I love your plans to get rid of excess stuff, but for goodness sake, try to have a garage sale with it all! You could make a couple of hundred dollars, which could then be put directly toward Etsy purchases.

    Maybe it’s too late in the season for a garage sale, but would it be terrible to section off a part of the basement for “garage sale goods” so you can beat everyone to the punch next spring?

    Something to think about…

  4. CapnPlanet — I’m afraid I am a bit of a pack rat, but I aspire not to be. Every time we visit our parents and see their basements…I come home with new resolve to GET RID OF STUFF. Maybe I’ll make it a new year’s resolution.

    Porter — Good for you! I hope my house gets to the same level of tidiness!

    FameThrowa — A very interesting idea. Do people actually buy stuff at garage sales? I’m not a big garage saler myself so I have no idea if people actually will come or not. Hm. May/June is the big garage sale time so I will keep it all until this spring, at least, and see what we end up with in terms of stock.

  5. rheostaticsfan

    Our community has a garage sale every spring. The last two years I’ve been wanting to participate but I’ve been away. If you get at least 3 houses on your street then your street will be mentioned by name in the local free newspaper. Otherwise the community sale is advertised in the Citizen and the Kourier in general terms.

    Maybe we can both participate this coming year?

    Apparently I was just like your kids when I was little and as a result my mother kept every little thing I ever owned. In the last few years she’s been shipping it all to my house with some kind of sentimental lodestone attached (..you wanted it then and I kept it so you’d better still want this stuff and have close personal bonds with every object). Just last weekend she brought me a plastic teacup that they’d just unearthed from digging up my old sandbox (30 years covered in grass). Seriously. A plastic teacup that had been buried for 30 years. What am I supposed to do with that?!? BTW it is a little stained from the dirt but otherwise totally 100% fine. Proof positive that this stuff NEVER breaks down in a landfill.

    Anyhow, I’d like to garage sale a lot of stuff that maybe someone somewhere will want.

  6. Oh my GOD, RheostaticsFan, my mother is EXACTLY the same way. HER mother, my Nana, is the opposite — she gets rid of stuff all the time and lives clean — and my mother always resented coming home to find some of her stuff gone. So it’s sort of a backlash to the way she was raised, that she (my mom) keeps EVERYTHING we ever had as kids, and now is sending it all to my house.

    “You LOVED this doll! You played with it all time!”

    Yes, but I am THIRTY-SEVEN now.

    Some stuff I am giving to the girls but lots of other stuff just went to the charity bin (don’t tell my mother). I have a little keepsakes bin where I put certain toys and clothes that my kids really loved, and Sir Monkeypants always reminds me that this bin is for ME, not for them.

    Anyway, about the garage sale, sounds good. I always thought I’d have a big one once the kids were done with the baby stuff but next summer is probably not too soon, especially if I keep cleaning out the kitchen like I currently am. My street always gets enough houses to participate in the community garage sale so let’s make it a plan for June!

  7. Yay for the clear-out. I love getting rid of stuff. It’s almost like one of my favorite hobbies. And the tradition of bringing the whole class goodies on your birthday has been around since mine started school, so a good 10 years or so. I like it better when you’re a grown up and someone else brings you a cake at work!!

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