Too Nice to Donate?

Recently someone wanted to give away a vase, was new to the area and so asked the location of the nearest Goodwill donation drop. Then she found out the vase was a Waterford and possibly worth up to $250! After learning this, the vase was not donated but put aside to sell. It was too valuable to give to Goodwill.

Has this thought entered your mind before? I have heard this from others. It’s too nice to donate! I understand, as none of us want to give something away that’s valuable. But do you have the time & motivation to take photos, post, sell, follow up with potential buyers, and then coordinate a pick-up or pack and mail the item? Maybe you are willing to find someone to sell it for you–either a professional or delegate this task to your kids? And of course you need the space to store items until sold. Knowing the value of this item stopped this person from getting the vase out of her home immediately. Some items are worth selling (even if you have to share the proceeds), but many times it stops the momentum of decluttering. Sometimes the financial gain is simply not worth it considering the time and energy diverted from the clearing cutter process.

My suggestion is to find your monetary threshold for selling (over $100 or $200?) and a time frame that you must sell by (one or two months?) and donate the item if those two goals are not met. Then find a local charity you value and donate as much there as possible. If you decide to sell, here are some additional ideas. Many people, including yours truly, get caught up in the “Too Nice to Donate” cycle and then it takes longer to finish decluttering our homes!

Here’s to a clutter-free home. ~Ellen

Afraid of Losing Control

I have a friend that I have been coaching about home clutter with for over a year. She is very open about why she will not have me in her home helping her in person. Right now she is only willing to have help virtually. She said that she has a fear of not being control of the decluttering process. She wants to be in control of her environment. If someone else is helping her then she may be resentful or may be angry with herself for letting them influence her in a way that she doesn’t want to be influenced. She doesn’t want to be tricked into giving something away that she actually wants to keep.She says she makes up pressure when there is no pressure.

I get it. One of my sisters has a strong personality and sometimes if I am not feeling confident to stand up for what I want, I will just give in. She came to my home and stayed with my daughter and me when my husband was in the hospital and passed suddenly last fall. She started helping me go through a few of his things. She was immensely helpful, although sometimes I had to say, “I am not ready to give that away”. If she judged me because I wanted to keep something silly, I was okay with that because she knows me well and we would laugh about it later. It takes a special person to allow someone in your home to help you go through your things.

If you don’t feel comfortable with someone else helping you go through your personal items, then go through them yourself. Get the help you need, in person or virtually.

I’m available either way. ~Ellen

Mixing Two Oil Stains to Paint My Deck

Several days ago my daughter said she has a comment for my blog post: she loves and wears everything in her closet! Yay-Go girl! Well, this was a bit of a challenge this last week as she was helping me stain the deck and needed old paint clothes and had nothing to wear that she wanted to get ruined. We looked in the give away pile and found a few things of mine that she made work.

Staining the deck was another lesson learned (again!) My neighbor rebuilt our old falling apart deck in the late fall and this was the first dry stretch in the weather and I wanted to stain it. Looking at our supplies, we had two different shades of 3/4 full gallons of oil based stains. Well, that should be enough, I thought. I’ll mix the two and be good. I checked with one source, both were oil based stains, so the mixing should be fine. Well, of course it wasn’t enough and then not finished yet, I couldn’t get the same stain color! Ugh!

Well, when I went to get more stain, to top it off I ended up getting a water based stain instead of an oil based stain, even though I brought the can in with me to the store! I didn’t realize it until too late and ended up making the project 3x as long and more expensive! Oil DOESN’T mix with water!

The crazy thing was the last time I stained the deck (5 or 6 years ago) my husband was frustrated with me because I was too lazy to drive to the same store to get the same brand and color stain and we ended up with two stairs that were darker shade! You would think I learned my lesson!

I need to slow down, recycle the old stain and buy new. And if I need more, go back to the same store and get the exact same color and type! I’m saving money by doing the work myself, but the extra time it took, I would have paid extra money NOT to have to do it for four days! I’m embarrassed to admit that I did this. I know better. My husband is laughing at me right now, saying ‘I told you so!’ To top it off, with the different colors on top of each other, the deck now looks purple! Well, at least it is my Mom’s favorite color and maybe in a few months I’ll be able to laugh at myself about it! Maybe next time I’ll do clear.

Do you have old paint and stains to recycle? These can’t be just tossed. Check your local city dumps or some paint centers take them as well. Recycle safely and buy enough!

Here’s to a clutter-free paint/stain section in your garage. Thanks for reading. ~Ellen

What To Do With Sentimental Old Photos and Cards

Spring is in the air and many people associate this season to cleaning. Do you want to make your cleaning easier? Declutter first!  

I recently helped a client go through her sentimental pile. This is a tough job and it takes mental stamina. There were lots of photos and memorability of her family and along with it memories, stories and items to pass down to the next generation. Sometimes the next generation wants some of this memorabilia and other times they hear the story, see a photo and then it gets tossed.

I believe what helped my client get through these boxes were her siblings. It helps to have others helping, sharing and laughing together. The pictures and cards were spread out on the table for all to view and comment. They looked at them together, told stories about their parents, friends and family. It was a stroll down memory lane. I was honored to be there helping and almost felt apart of the family!

They kept only the good photos (one album out of about 20), planning to digitize all slides and will make a photo collage on one wall in the garage for the grand kids and great grand kids to view. The other key that helped this situation is all the photos were sorted and looked at in a clear comfortable setting. We took only one box at a time into the house from the garage to sort and declutter. This made it more manageable and less overwhelming.

Challenge: talk to your extended family to see if you agree to bring all old family photos and memorabilia together for your next family gathering to sort and declutter. Plan it and make it happen!

If you need help to keep you focused on purging, reach out to me. I am available to help. Here’s to a clutter-free home! ~Ellen

Spring inspirational articles:

Springtime lesson learned

Spring decluttering is better than spring cleaning

Where Can You Donate Food Storage Containers?

One friend was noticing all her food storage containers that she doesn’t use. How does this pile grow by itself?! She didn’t want to throw them away or leave out with a free sign for the homeless (they are already making a mess of the neighborhood) and she is not sure that resale stores would take them…..ugh! All this overthinking for getting rid of storage containers! I wanted to scream at her, “JUST THROW THEM AWAY!”

I like to store containers with their lids on so that I don’t have to search to find lids later

Finding the perfect “home” for our cast off items can take up a lot of real estate in our minds and it’s no wonder the decluttering process takes so long. My friend ended up finding a non-profit that was doing a bake sale and she donated them there for their baked goods. I can not imagine going through this thinking process for every item you plan to give away! My suggestion is to find a local charity you like and donate everything there. If the item is not accepted at the charity, then toss/recycle and don’t think about it again! Sell only the big ticket items over $50. You will loose momentum and it is not worth the slow down/ extra time. We know it can be tough to declutter your home and we don’t want any road blocks if we can avoid them in advance!


Where do you like to donate your items? Here’s to living in a clutter-free home.

The Difference Between Decluttering and Organizing

A common mistake for many people is interchanging these words: declutter and organize. Some people try organizing their way out of a mess. If all my stuff is in order, looking neat, I’ll feel good, they think. However, many containers organized and labeled can still be overwhelming AND hard to clean, maintain and move. Starting with organization allows you to avoid the tough decisions of what to get rid of while feeling like you are making progress. Organizing first means you are often trying to find space for things you don’t want to keep and perhaps ignoring the problem.

It’s wise to gather like items to take stock of what you currently own and then pare down. Do you really wear all eight pairs of black shoes?

Declutter first and then organize.

You can thank me later! HA!

Clutter-Free Home

Someone asked me recently what my definition of a clutter-free home (and mind) look like? Here is my answer:

As you look around your home, your mind is calm and you feel at peace.

Even looking in those dark, deep corners of your home is peaceful. This would also mean being able to find something easily in your home. My schedule is also minimal with lots of white space on my calendar for spontaneous dance parties!

Often when one’s physical surroundings are cluttered, the mind is cluttered as well. A clutter-free mind leaves room to dream, think and is not clogged up with endless lists or shoulds.

Getting to a clutter-free home and mind is a journey. I love everything about living with less & clearing my mind AND I’m still on this journey after almost three years! You may think it is a long time. Yes, it is. With the sudden passing of my husband in the fall, I’m taking more time. Which is okay. Everyone has their own pace and circumstances.

Won’t you join me on this journey and not just read about clearing clutter, but get something out of your home (and mind) today that is not making you smile and make room for peace. ~Ellen

Making Money Blogging

Last night I watched a training video on how to monetize blogging. As you know, the writer recommends a product or service and they get money for the referral. LOTS of bloggers have affiliates, in fact, most do. The training blogger related it to recommending a movie on Netflix to your friends. Hm…Some people have suggested I do this. One reader was confused as to the point of my blog. What am I trying to accomplish or sell? Originally I started this blog to record my own decluttering journey and over two and a half years later and I am still writing (& decluttering). I have also helped others both in person and virtually with their stuff. If you are feeling overwhelmed, reach out to me and we can do this together. One step at a time.

So I ask you, the reader, for some advise, feedback and market research. When you read a blog do you care if they recommend a product or service or have advertisements? To me, I guess this wouldn’t be a big deal except that I am trying to promote getting rid of clutter and not buying unnecessary things. I understand my free site currently has advertisements, so I need to buck up and pay for my own site so that I won’t be a hypocrite! However, if it is a referral for a service that could help, would you still oppose it? Am I against all tools? No, I just don’t want people to buy items or services just because they are excited about it in the moment and then not use it or appreciate it and it turns to clutter. There must be a compromise. I would certainly love to make money writing a blog AND live the life I am promoting. Your thoughts? Would you consider signing up for an on-line declutter course?

Thanks for reading and sharing. Your Clutter Consultant,~Ellen

Social Media Detox

I recently watched The Social Dilemma on Netflix. It is scary, impactful and resonating in view of recent current events. What hit me hard is the rise of preteen and teen girls harming themselves. I have two teenage girls! I watched it again with my daughters (bribed with pizza) and insisted on no phones while watching. I’m sad to say that it was tough for them to sit for the length of the film (without their phones). They got up for dessert, re-booted their laundry, read a book or talked with each other. I must have paused the documentary a half a dozen times waiting for them to focus. I felt like just getting to the end of the documentary with them was a victory.

Then I tried to discuss what we watched with them. “Mom, we know all this already. ” Ya, just like one of the heads of Pinterest who knows it is addicting but still can’t keep his phone out of his bedroom! I asked them their guess of their social media use. Silence. “Mom, it is too late (for you) to limit this.” They are 17 and 18 years old! Really, it is too late?

Then I read, ‘I Get Better Sleep’ The People Who Quit Social Media. We know that teens need more sleep than children and adults.

The irony is that some of you may be reading this from a post on social media. Is it time to declutter your social media? Thanks for reading, watching and considering getting involved. Here’s to a clutter-free home and mind! ~Ellen

Community to the Next Level

Last week I wrote in admiration of Community Living.  The last several days I experienced my community first hand in the mist of a snow storm with no electricity or heat for 41 hours (but who is counting?) The generosity of my neighbors is admirable.

favorite pics in the hood

One neighbor promised a delivered Valentine’s dinner and then the power went out.  She had not finished making dinner, so she finished cooking it on the camping stove!  I was not able to open our garage to get a shovel because it was blocked by snow. Another neighbor shoveled out the snow in front of the garage and cleared our entry way to the house too!  The next night another neighbor had a BBQ cook out outdoors.  It was great to have a small social gathering outdoors eating together and sharing stories.  Some had been cross country skiing, sledding, walking, reading three books in three snow days, and doing puzzles during the snowed in days.

When it comes down to it, there were only a few physical things I especially appreciated during this time: a gas stove, a hot bath, a hot water bag (for my bed), long underwear & snow boats! We really don’t need all that much to survive. Let’s get to know our neighbors AND re-look at our stuff. Here’s to having a clutter-free home.

A big thank you to all my neighbors! ~Ellen