Heirloom Re-Purpose

Millennial’s don’t want their parent’s stuff. Thrift stores are overrun & recycling is not cost- effective anymore. So what do we do with all our extra stuff?

Thanksmas gift 2019

Here is my Thanksmas gift for this year using my mom’s old china cups. My Mom passed away over 20 years ago. Yes, it took that long to figure out what to do with it! Can you believe it? One sister had it for a time and I then the dishes came into my hands several years ago. We use the plates, but not the tea cups. No one else wanted the china in our family, like many other families, but could I break up a set? I felt I needed to keep them together. Why, I don’t know. I finally realized that my basement could use more space and was okay to get rid of the cups and saucers. Thanks to my friend Lisa who gave me this idea. Now everyone in my family has a succulent in a teacup to remember my Mom!

What about re-purposing an item you want to keep rather than sitting in a box or throwing in the garbage? Just learn from me and don’t wait 20 years to do it! HA!

Good luck and please send me photos of your projects. I need inspiration for next year’s Thankmas! ~Ellen



Several years ago when things were tight with my immediate family we reached out to our extended family and discussed a couple of ideas regarding that year’s Christmas gifts:

  1. Skipping individual gifts and instead give one gift per family
  2. Exchange homemade gifts (the same homemade gift for all families) only

Everyone agreed and it worked out well. We got together with this part of the family on Thanksgiving every year but not Christmas. So we have our little Christmas exchange the day after Thanksgiving and make gingerbread houses or decorate sugar cookies together. Because this get together is part Thanksgiving weekend and part Christmas we have been calling this exchange Thanksmas.

Now over 10 years later we are still exchanging homemade gifts. We revisited the idea of purchased gifts a few years later, but we all seemed to enjoy the homemade gifts, so we are continuing. It has been SO nice over the years to make 4 homemade gifts and be done. It doesn’t always eliminate the stress as I sometimes still procrastinate making them!

I think this was one of my better gifts: garden art

Do some homemade gifts turn to clutter? Yes, of course. But what is given to you as a gift is yours. I have also like practical gifts. Edibles have been popular with our family: soups in a jar, jams, nut butter, cookies in a jar, etc.

Is everyone crafty? No, but that is okay. Some ideas are found on etsy, sometimes I find inspiration in craft stores, in magazines or in retail stores & recreate my own.

Can you find something that your family can agree upon for the holidays to reduce the clutter, reduce the spending, reduce stress, and BE more with our families and friends? A friend of mine does an annual Thanksgifting party where the goal is to give away the best white elephant gift! There is even a prize for the best (read worst) gift. I love it! Talk about making clearing clutter fun! My Aunt donates to a charity in the name of her granddaughter. I also heard about a family that gives experience gifts. They draw names from a hat and spend time with that person and give an experience with a limit of $25. What a cool idea! What does your family do to limit holiday overwhelm when it comes to gifts?

Here’s to increasing our love while reducing the number of gifts (future clutter) this holiday season! ~Ellen


Thanksgiving Everyday

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving in the United States. Typically on this day, we express our gratitude with friends and family. We share a meal with loved ones and reflect on the bounty we have had over the past year. Traditionally no physical gifts are exchanged. We greet one another and share quality time with our loved ones. This is why Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.

Lately, many of us have been grateful on Thanksgiving and then less than 24 hours later on Black Friday or sometimes even on Thanksgiving evening we overspend for the next holiday. Then there is cyber Monday. We could save over a thousand dollars if we didn’t fall into the Christmas hype.

Can we remember our blessings and forget about the race to buy more things that aren’t needed? Is there a fear of looking inconsiderate to our friends and family if we don’t give in excess? We could talk with our friends and loved ones to make a compromise this year with gift exchanges. There many options to reduce excessive gifts: pare down and give one gift per family, white elephant gifts, donate to a charity or give an experience/ or time together.

Many times gifts get returned or turned into clutter. Gift cards are the number one gift requested. At the same time, over $1 Billion worth in gift cards goes unused every year. Ugh! Are we just throwing out hard-earned money?

Over this next month, my challenge for myself (and for you too, if you like) is to make a gratitude list every evening before bed. List ten things you are grateful for that day. My recommendation is instead of buying more stuff this holiday season, we express gratitude for what we already have and consider ways to reduce gifts to others while still expressing our love.

Happy Thanksgiving. I am grateful for this blog platform and for you reading it! ~Ellen

Christmas Boycott

After High School my father stopped giving me and my siblings Christmas gifts. I mentioned this in Adventurous Lasting Memories: Sister’s fund. At the time I remember being upset over this. Looking back, this was admirable.

Recently, I saw a sign for plastic cups for sale. I was upset with the attempt of guilt in this advertisement. Ugh! Does not buying plastic cups really make us a grinch? Will these just sit and be clutter in our homes? How many other gifts do we give that are turned into clutter?

Lately there has been a push for reducing waste and preserving our environment and at the same time families are feeling pressure to spend 2 weeks worth of their salary on Christmas. What a dichotomy! According to this article, 680 billion is spent on Christmas in the US. But in a couple of days, gifts are mostly forgotten.

What are you doing to reduce waste and clutter this holiday season? Make a plan, talk to your family and friends and share your ideas.

PS You are not a grinch for not buying stuff you don’t need. You are an ANGEL for helping save the planet and reducing clutter! ~Ellen

Clearing Cluttered Thoughts

This blog has been about the clutter in your home, however, today let’s look at mental clutter. Before decluttering the physical stuff, we may need to declutter our minds.

My book group this month is reading Devised by Doreen Dodgen-Magee. She reminds us of the constant information we have access to and how there is never downtime with our smartphones. If we are bored, waiting in line, or have free time, we fill it in. This NY times article references to research on creativity that comes out of boredom.

I was listening to Melanie Wahlberg speak on Never alone: how spiritual ideas work in us mention uprooting stagnating thoughts to make space and room for inspiration. We all want inspiration. YES! Let’s remove the shame or negative self-talk within us.

Try staring at the moon

My cousin recommended Solve for Happy, Engineering your path to Joy by Mo Gawdat. The author suggests talking back to the negative thoughts in your head. ‘That thought won’t do; send me another one. Give me a positive one.’ I love this idea.

How do we be still and clear our minds of thoughts? Maybe it’s through meditation, yoga, prayer, staring at nothing, listening to the silence, playing with a fidget toy or a combination thereof. It is not easy & takes practice.

This week let’s schedule a time for silence, talking back to unwanted thoughts and see what boredom brings. We can declutter our thoughts and have peace! ~Ellen


Analyze and Strategize or Just Dump?

After listening to Organizing from the Inside Out by Julie Morgenstern, her three steps to organize hit home with me:

1) Analyze 2) Strategize 3) Attack

In a way, you may have been doing these steps without even realizing it. But maybe not and you need a gentle nudge to finish. Or maybe you are stuck on ‘good enough’.

Analyze. Why do you want less in your home? How did you accumulate so much stuff? What types of clutter do you have the most of? Watch this 3 min. video to get a scope of your clutter. What makes you hold on to it? Why do you purchase something when it is not needed? Do we need to think about these questions before to creating a clutter-free home? If we don’t, then our habits might be repeated and clutter may accumulate again. Morgenstern asks, does every item have a “home?”

Strategy. It is important to have a plan with everything, right? This way, when things get challenging, you will know your next step. No thinking or second-guessing, just moving forward to the next area. Step by step. Do you get frustrated and attack clutter haphazardly? It is not necessarily wrong, it just makes keeping track of what is completed a bit more challenging. When can you realistically plan to do this declutter work? How do to carve out more time in the day? Get up early, go to bed later, eliminate hobbies for a period, involve family, take vacation time or dedicate weekends.

Attack. Now comes the action to make it happen. Stick to your plan and get things done. You don’t want to burn out. Take frequent breaks in your cleared areas to relish in your space. Congratulate yourself on what you have accomplished and now return to your why so you will finish strong!

Your challenge is to write out these ideas for your clutter-free home!

I appreciate you reading. Thanks! ~Ellen


Clearing Clutter For An Event

pumpkin carving fun

Not many people get together with friends in their homes.  Why is this?  We recently had  friends over to carve pumpkins.  We have an annual pumpkin party to celebrate fall!  I used to get stressed out preparing for a party.  I want everything to be clear, clean and look nice.  Do you plan a ladies night at your home or invite people over for a party just so that you can clean?  I used to do this.  Why do we clean for others, yet not for our selves and the loved ones we live with?  Maybe I don’t want to look like a slob in front of my friends.  I want to appear that I have it all together.  I used to throw everything into a closet just to get things out of sight before a party (shh– don’t tell anyone) HA!

Am I or my family not worthy to live in a clutter free home?  Do we impress our friends just for appearances?  Who are the most important people in our lives?  The ones that are living in our home!  So why do we not priority them to make their home simple and clutter-free? 

This week, pretend you are having a party and get all the physical clutter out of your common living areas.  Let’s start with the living room and kitchen.  Just the extra stuff on the counters and the floor.  Don’t worry about what is inside the cabinets at this point.  Live, love and laugh with your loved ones in a clutter-free home!

Thanks for reading! ~Ellen




Do you get overwhelmed with your stuff and not know where to start? You want a cleared house, a place to relax and your car to fit in your garage. You want it all done and you want it done NOW!

From Josh Becker’s article on financial minimalism:

“Be like a stamp—stick to one thing until you get there.” —Josh Billings

This is a quote I need to read and reread. I tend to jump around my house decluttering different areas randomly.

There are many ways to declutter a home. Which works best for you? Whichever way you decide, focus on that and get it done. Maybe it is just one shelf. Don’t get sidetracked or hung up on where to put things from the shelf. If something doesn’t belong on the shelf and doesn’t have a “home,” put it in the place where you usually use it the most. You can also quickly empty the shelf by placing all items in a bag and then sort through them later. Just beware to make time for sorting. I did this once and then the bag sat unsorted for several weeks!

Another idea is to declutter one corner or small area of a room. Anytime you get frustrated with your stuff, go to that clutter-free area and reflect on how that space feels. If you like it, do another small area in that same room. The goal would be to get an entire room cleared of clutter. This will be your respite when other areas in the house get out of control. Then do another room and finally your entire home!

I know this sounds simple but doing it can be challenging. For this week, try clearing one shelf. Focus on this and hopefully next week you will have all the shelves on the bookcase finished. Stick to it. Let me know how your stickiness worked out!

Thanks for reading and please share with someone you think may be interested. ~Ellen

Labels: Hoarder, Declutterer, Minimalist or Releaser

A friend of my sister’s mentioned she is not a hoarder, but not a releaser. We watch Hoarders on TV and think, I don’t have it that bad! Who is to say if we are happy and at peace with the stuff in our home, but us.

The word “minimalist” can conquer up extreme living. There are different levels of minimalism, but why do we label ourselves and put ourselves into a category? People are happy with different levels of clutter. Maybe someone isn’t a releaser but at the same time they don’t have a lot of items in their home. Or people have lots of stuff in their home, but love it all and are happy. I often refer to decluttering but I also like releasing items out into the world. It feels kinder.

Words and names are important and we resonate with them. I feel a certain way when a word is written or said whether it is positive, negative or neutral. It matters what words we use. Karen Kingston blogs about the advantages of reducing word clutter and Gretchin Rubin has a word of the year challenge.

Some of us want to be included in something larger. We want support and accountability. We want a connection with others in the same situation and we do that with word association. In this way, we identify what we want.

Let’s not let words and labels get in the way of our goals but rather bring us closer to them. If a simple home is what you want, commit to it and get help if needed! There are 12-step programs for Clutterers Anonymous.

Your challenge this week is to identify your level of comfort with your items in your home. Here is my 3-minute video to help with clutter assessment.

Thanks for reading and please share if you think someone else will find useful. ~Ellen

For more inspiration: Clearing Clutter’s Facebook page

Uniform Dressing & Capsule Wardrobe Challenge

Many successful people dress in a uniform. I was surprised to learn that even some high-level fashion designers also prefer to have their outfits predetermined so they have the energy for other things. It seems a little comical to me to be in the fashion industry promoting new fashion trends and not changing your personal fashion daily. Yes, these designers dress for fashion, but also comfort, what looks good on them and gives them confidence. Maybe we need to take this advice. This reminds me of a capsule wardrobe. Start with basic, high-quality clothes in coordinating colors and add accessory accents depending on the season.

How do you find your uniform?  project333As I was searching I found Project 333 from Be More with Less. For the next three months (October – December) I will wear only 33 items in rotation. This does not include workout clothes, lounge wear, and nightwear (thank goodness). It does include clothes, shoes, and accessories. I am going to challenge myself and these are my items:

  • 2 pants
  • 2 jeans
  • 1 dress
  • 7 tops
  • 4 sweaters
  • 3 jackets
  • 5 pairs of shoes
  • 2 scarves
  • 1 belt
  • 6 pieces of jewelry

I like this project because I don’t have to give away any clothes (yet). I boxed the items I didn’t pick and put them in the basement so they are out of the way. This gives me time to consider and I know they are there. No immediate decisions on what to give away help me do this experiment. I doubt anyone will even notice I am wearing the same thing week after week!

Will you join me in this challenge? If it is not good timing for you now, can you decide a date that will work for you and plan to do it then? Invite a friend to join you & put it on the calendar!

Thanks for reading!

~Ellen, purgingclutterathome@gmail.com