An amusing thing going around TikTok recently has been de-influencing posts. Rather than the "I want you to BUY this shiny thing"[ad] -- which hey, I'm here for people getting sponsorships -- it's "here's things you shouldn't buy/why did I waste money on these. An example here: https://www.tiktok.com/@michelleskidelsky/video/7197165253900111110 -- this is her third of at least four so far and first she goes for my books and then towards the end of the video the 500 kinds of tea.
Use Up Year
Saturday, February 11, 2023
Using Up & De-Influencing
Tuesday, January 3, 2023
Back to Books -- Category 2+ ?
Last night I made myself a pot of "good tea." I rearranged the tea/coffee/hot cocoa cabinet the other day in anticipation of even more tea and coffee arriving soon and was reminding myself that there's lots of good stuff and it should get drunk. How else will I discover from all the various types I've tried the next "good" tea.
It's back to the work grind this morning, but a big project over the break was to begin to understand just exactly *how many* unread books I own. I knew the number had grown significantly. And so I went back and cataloged the unread e-books, the audiobooks, and scanned the print books. I'm pretty sure I only found 3 duplicates (surprisingly) and the LibraryThing collections -- which is where I'm now keeping all these lists, is ... well everything is nicely stacked up high.
The count is 650 +/- 20. I give myself that wiggle room because there were a couple of duplicates I removed from the collection that I didn't realize until I was working with all formats, and I've also found a few more books as I was putting things away.
And of course, that doesn't include the ~40 library books I have from the two institutions I'm presently affiliated with. Those won't stay here permanently, though I'm absolutely serving as swing space for my main library -- renewing things 6 months at a time.
The last few years have been light on the new book reading. 2022 was 70 titles, which was actually a pretty solid increase. Notably, that would still leave me in the 10 years of reading place if I buy zero more books, which is obviously not happening.
Going through and touching things and cataloging the books has been useful though, a reacquaintance with the things that I have and getting excited about reading them again. There are several new books on my Kindle Paperwhite ready to go. I mentioned considering one a couple of years ago -- my partner got one for me for my birthday in 2021 and I have been really enjoying it as a way to read that isn't on my phone with all it's inherent distractions.
I currently have 3 books going and a library due date tells me that this evening should be a fourth book -- a non fiction book that will likely be more frustrating than fun but I hope will give me some ideas.
What of yours are you hoping to reconnect with in the new year?
Thursday, December 29, 2022
Book Review: Stop Buying Bins
Tuesday, January 4, 2022
Category 9: Soap and Body Scrubs
When I kicked all of this off it was with Lotion -- the backlog of which I was trying to make a dent in. I'm pleased to say that there is less lotion than there was. I did have a brief fall down with a pumpkin lotion last year and a shipping issue meant there's now a lot of pumpkin lotion but overall the count is going in the downward direction. Progress! Go me!
Now then -- the rest of the bath products. As you can see in addition to some lotion we have body scrubs, soap, face wipes, a ton of purse Kleenex (and yet there's never a package in my purse), etc. I checked the expiration date on the sunscreen -- still good to get me through spring or that one 70 degree day in February where I'll need to take a long walk.
And then there's that USPS package. The one down there on the shelf next to my flat iron. See, my friend E decided last spring that she was going to use up all of her soap making supplies. She had a fair amount of supplies and that became a thousand bars of soap. (Yes that's the correct number of zeros, I went back and checked.) And then she had a pre-order for her FB family and friends.
To say that we all went slightly bonkers is an understatement. It was like the trading floor at the NYSE for a solid couple hours there with people Flinging Themselves into the Queue for Pretty and Delicious Smelling Soaps. I was deeply amongst the fray, searching through the descriptions, choosing what I thought would be the finest, trying to keep an eye on what was probably already sold out. Once all bought and boxed, E sent it along...and it was one of the first things I moved into my bathroom. Where's it's sat unopened.
See, first I was justifying that the soap was still curing. Which was true -- E recommended we give it an additional month or so. The soap was fine but a bit longer wouldn't hurt. Also it's not like I don't have other soap.
But it's a new year and I am ready for a new bar of soap (or close enough -- the other soap end may just be banished to another shelf of the shower).
Wednesday, December 29, 2021
Use Up -- A Year In
I planned and thought about this post a lot during the first week of December -- I should have drafted it then because now, instead of being two weeks early it's two weeks past when I launched this site. Ah well. Getting to it when one can.
It's been a year of this buzzing around my head, serving as an additional Instagram account, giving me a place to say Hey I Used a Thing! I didn't have a specific rushing focus to achieve minimalism. I'm somewhere between my friend J's maximalist decorating approach and the Entirely Empty Rooms look.
Last year would have been very different had we not decided to buy and move. There's still a lot more cardboard in my life than there was in December of 2020. And my schedule and workload evolves with the pandemic, which has also changed how much I can do and what.
But it's also made me a little more attentive of the piles and the wish for acquisitions. I went through my clothes before and after we moved and I think I want to go through them again -- only this time with an eye towards sending a box to ThredUp for some things rarely or barely worn that I'm unlikely to pull out again.
I've started a bag of books that have been read and are ready to go onwards; unfortunately it's a very small bag still and and I'm not sure where it's going but it's started!
And it's a little easier to resist the siren call of new bath scrubs when I actively *know* that there's no space for them in the new bathroom. You'd think after a year that I'd have made a significant dent but they seem to spawn in there when I'm not looking.
While the year winds down I'm making plans for the new year and those continue to include the Using Up. We shall see if 2022 can bring some more empty space.
Sunday, November 28, 2021
The Address Box
Despite the myriad digital method for holding onto addresses, I have clung to a physical one -- mirroring what my mother uses. It's a box of 3x5 cards with hard colored alphabetic sorters. I go back to it over and over again, no matter how many times I try to put everyone's address in their contacts on my phone.
This year, because we moved, I need to get holiday cards out early and so the past few days has involved the deep Updating of the Cards, and quite a lot of texting for "umm, so my address box is definitely out of date, help."
There are new cards going in, people who have become closer friends over the past year or who I realize I have an address somewhere but not here and here is my source of truth.
There are many cards getting edits. Those are an adventure. History is written in those cards, mostly in black and blue ink, with things scrawled on the side or back, addresses crossed out and added. I did rewrite one card this year of a very old friend -- he's gotten engaged to someone and I felt that memories of his past marriage didn't need to remain on the card. So -- E, if you ever see this, you warranted a fresh 3x5 change. Congratulations.
And there are cards that I'm letting go. People who were in my life in the past who won't be again. Some I'm not quite ready for yet, even if the details on the card are no doubt sorely out of date. But there are a few. It's strange to see what moves on out of the box -- who no longer has a card but might remain in mind.
Add things and people who are precious, allow to fade what doesn't need to take up space in your life anymore.
Even in the address box.
Monday, November 22, 2021
Use the Good Things
I am a regular prosecco/champagne consumer. While I enjoy a glass of red or white wine -- as evidenced by being a wine club at my local wine store*-- realizing that I could just have some light bubbly wine on a regular basis was a discovery.
So glad I sorted that out before the pandemic. And why yes, I have bought an entire case at a time --- if you have the space I recommend a mixed set so you can sort out which prosecco you like. However, I did not take complete enough notes so obviously I'll need to run the experiment again. Oh no.
But with all of this bubbly drinking has been interest in some nicer glassware for it. My sister got me a pair of these JoyJolt glasses for my birthday and I've been doing the usual "oh, for a nice occasion" about them for a couple of months.
Glad to tell you, I'm over that and the glasses have been used. One glass. Maybe I'll use the other one tomorrow. It's a nice glass and definitely makes me think of a test tube, which I find hilarious.
Use the gifts, use the good things, enjoy the small things that make you happy. Drink the bubbles.
*If you have a local wine store, check and see if they have a wine club! Mine is very reasonably priced -- $40/month for two bottles and it means I always have a very decent bottle around for whatever we're having for dinner. Bonus of keeping a small woman-owned business open so I can wander in and ask for recommendations.
Wednesday, November 17, 2021
Category 8: The To Read Shelves (and an ebook update)
My ability to obtain books in far greater amount than I have actual time to read has been fairly persistent since childhood. Granted, children's books had larger font and were generally shorter but it will come as little surprise that I have quite the to-read pile around the Chateau. Thinking about it just now, I'm realizing that the to-read pile is in at least four places. And perhaps I should consolidate one or two of those.
I've had a To Read shelf for a while; but as I was unpacking I realized it's become a To Read Bookcase. These are books that I expect to read once. I'm no less excited for them; some are gifts, others are ones I purchased for myself. I look at them just there in front of me and I actively do want to read them.
Do I have brain space or reading time.... that's a separate question. I've been trying to read more fiction again from the perspective of I need not feel guilty about reading. No, it's not a "productive" use of my time in terms of I'm not unpacking a box or dusting or brushing the cats but it's productive in that it's serving something I wish for me. And retaining a modicum of mental health through fiction reading is rarely a bad thing.
That said, I've been carrying the same romance novel for a couple of weeks. Haven't opened it. It's by one of my favorite authors. I know it'll be a couple hours reading at most.
On the ebook front though, my partner got me the newest Kindle Paperwhite for my birthday and that has been an interesting change! I got it a cover with a kickstand, allowing me to easily read, knit, eat, all the multi-tasking things that appeal and I've finished three books in the past week. The spreadsheet is getting very very slowly updated and I've also bought 2-3 e-books in the past week so I'm not quite on the making progress yet.
But it has begun. And I'm reading cute stories and they end happily -- with the romance sorted, the mystery solved, the people generally happy for now. A much needed orderly change compared to the reality of a deeply messy world.
Monday, November 8, 2021
Category: Returns NaNoBloMo
It's better, of course, not to buy extraneous things. But given the reality that I am much more likely to buy new clothes if they are shipped to my home -- things will arrive which are not things that should be kept. No matter how many pictures, how much detail is provided, especially with clothing there are still things that really matter -- like oh that shirt won't remotely cover my long waist self or the fabric is absolutely gross when put on.
I also, like many of us, struggle with returns. Getting things dropped off at the right location, printing the return slip and finding packing tape, it all takes *effort* and that takes time and energy and and and... All this of course to the companies' benefit as now I will miss return windows or just decide to keep/dispose of the object another way.
However, I'm getting better at it.
I'm in the process of resetting my wardrobe again. I'm still in business casual most days and beyond that, I'm increasingly impatient with clothes that aren't meeting me where I want to be in appearance, cut, etc. Weird color I was willing to put up with before? Gone. Work pants that mostly fit but are kind of baggy? Out. Shoes that I adored but are truly dead and it's time to let them go, they've left the building. I'm back in three inch heeled boots today and they are so wonderfully comfortable -- but even with a relatively normal shoe size it can be challenging to locate what I actually want.
It's also meant that rather than trying to make things work, if it's not working and it's not readily alterable, I'm sending it back. Get the money back, get the item out of my house, stop pretending it'll be good enough for a mediocre day. Truthfully I know I won't wear it, I'll end up refolding it 18 times trying to convince myself to wear it, and then it'll go in the donation pile. So let's at least skip those parts.
In terms of returns getting easier -- well we have a lot of packing tape still and miscellaneous boxes. Working from home a couple days a week still means that it's easier to take a 15 minute walk to the post office or the UPS drop site to hand over a prepared package.
So far, this is mostly only working for clothes and a pair of boots. I'm less willing to mail books back unless something is clearly wrong; and mostly other stuff is things I still actually wanted. So there the goal is more to judiciously buy less and remember I have wish lists for a reason. If I still want it three weeks later, it can stay on the wish list. Otherwise it can come off and I didn't actually want it.
Wednesday, November 3, 2021
NanoBloMo: Didn't We Get Rid of Things?
I swear that before and during and now after the move, I've gotten rid of things. Lots of things. Many many things have gone to Goodwill, in the dumpster, to the appropriate recipients.
So far you can't tell.
Which means it's time to get back to using things up.
Slow and Deliberate Unpacking continues. It's been somewhat derailed by my return to campus three days a week for the fall semester. Losing 9 hours a week just to the commute as well as the general exhaustion that accompanies all of the planning, being in public, etc makes a significant difference in what I can get done during the week. The encroaching darkness doesn't help either, signaling bedtime much much earlier in the day.
But it's interesting to look at things again as they come out of boxes, unused for several months, and wonder what continues to need a home with us. Some things are pleasant surprises -- oh *that* is where that was. For example, the discovery of a box of clothes that I entirely did not remember packing, which included both of my bathrobes. Do I remember packing such a box? No. Did I label it properly? Also no, which means it was in the final moving push. Did I have to run the whole box through the laundry? Yes of course.
In addition to a running box for donation, I've also started a box of Out of Sight. It's things I'm perhaps not quite ready to let go of yet but they also don't need to be in the everyday path where I might have familiarity attachment. It makes for a random box and one I'll need to date with a "check this in a year and then let go onward."
Now if I can get through the two "childhood" boxes that my mother brought on her last trip here without too many feelings...
(Also I'm doing NaNoBloMo - -blogging daily between my three blogs to try and restart my writing in general and get back to these places I do enjoy being. Follow along at HedgehogLibrarian and HedgehogKnitting if you'd like to see everything!)
Sunday, August 22, 2021
Category 7: Cleaning Supplies
Sunday, July 11, 2021
On the Side of Mount Cardboard
Sunday, May 2, 2021
Category 6: Notepads and Notebooks
These are not the journals-- these are legal pads of yellow paper, and spiral notebooks that are somewhere between 2-17 years old. They're half used, with pages and pages ripped out and long since trashed or recycled. Where notes do occasionally remain, they're vague and don't tell me much. "Email Scott and Angela" one page said --- although I know neither a Scott or an Angela and cannot remember any such combination in the past decade.