2015: The Year of Decluttering

So, when I ventured to tell Elrond Hubby that I wanted to make 2015 THE YEAR OF DECLUTTERING, he said, “What?”

I repeated my goal.

“I heard you,” he said, “I just couldn’t believe my ears!”

Yes, I have a clutter problem.  Or rather, WE have a clutter problem.  Elrond Hubby moved to where I live last spring.  For the previous 5 years, he was in the city where we used to live together, still going to school, while I had moved to this new place working at my current job.  In 5 years, we accumulated a lot of individual household stuff that we wouldn’t have needed if we’d lived together, like pots and pans, furniture, and just all the little stuff that makes a home a home.  So, there’s all that.  And our apt. here is smaller than the one where he was living, so we are feeling the squeeze of too much stuff!

The clutter issue was compounded in 2013 when my dad passed away just a couple of months after my brother passed away, and I got all my dad’s stuff (no sibling to split stuff with, you see).  My dad had A LOT of stuff.  He had a clutter problem, too.  Then, you know, it’s hard to get rid of stuff right after someone passes away.

In the country where Elrond Hubby grew up, friends and family members come into a loved one’s house after his or her spouse has passed away and do some of that first round of cleaning for them.  When his dad passed away, his mom’s sisters came in and took all his dad’s clothing out of the house.  Hearing that made me gasp, but I can kind of understand that doing so can help a person stop dwelling on the death of a loved one and maybe remember them in a different way.  We have been dealing with my dad’s stuff little by little, but some of the more mundane things are triggering less emotion in me now, so I’m ready to let them go.

SO, 2015 has become the YEAR OF DECLUTTERING.  I already started a bit in December when I bought a scanner that scans front and backs of pages and holds 25 pages at a time.  I’ve already scanned about 86 different documents.  We shred most things, but our shredder is about broken, so I need to get a new one!

We also have about 700 DVDs from my dad’s place, a room full of books that is bursting at the seams (grad school, plus I worked in a bookstore for several years), folders with class notes, that endless supply of piles of paper that seem important to keep at the time, and a bunch of clothes that we need to sell, consign, or just donate.  Oh, and yarn.  I go through periods of buying a lot of yarn and other craft/knitting/crocheting stuff.  So now I’m making an afghan.  Pics will be posted when I’m done!

I think clutter helps me stay invisible.  I hide behind stuff instead of dealing with it, accumulate stuff because it makes me feel good.  This year, I’m trying to stop that!

The FlyLady has a great site for helping people take control of their homes.  I would like to follow her daily plans for ridding oneself of CHAOS (Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome), but mostly I don’t.

So, I plan to post weekly how I’m doing and see if anyone wants any of our stuff.  We will probably dispense with stuff locally, but if we can’t, or feel it’s more valuable to an audience online, then we might try to sell it on eBay or use PayPal for an exchange or something like that.

Movies gone through this week:  about 150.  94 will go.  56 will stay.  There are some gems in the ones we will keep, such as George Lucas’ THX 1138, and the extended DVD set of Once Upon a Time in the West, and the 70s version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers!

I found this app to help manage the list:  Libib.  I don’t know all its features yet, but it seems useful so far.

Here’s our site on Libib, if you want to see the movies we are getting rid of.  If you feel strongly about wanting any of them (most are pretty generic), please let me know!

Here’s a summary of January so far:

# Docs scanned:  86

# Movies divided into “keep” and “go”:  150

# Trash bags of paper recycled:  0 (working on filling up one bag)

# Skeins of yarn used:  2

Other stuff given away or recycled:  1 box magazines!

No progress on the things below, but I’m working on them!

# Books read & passed on:  0

# Knitting/crocheting projects completed: 0

# Clothes consigned: 0

# Clothes donated: 0

Don’t be invisible!  Big hugs to all!

Foodie and Un-Foodie

Elrond Hubby is a Foodie.  He loves to cook, and he is an amazing chef!  I’ll post some of his recipes soon.  And he appreciates eating good things and finding new ways to eat and make things, too. I guess that’s the definition of a foodie, right?

Since this is all about me, though, haha, I must say that I am an UNFoodie.  Yes, I love good food and I delight in finding and tasting all sorts of wonderful concoctions, but when it comes to cooking, I take, hmm, let’s call it a functional and creative  approach.  Some might say lazy, but who listens to them?

Here’s an example of something that I did this weekend that has happened about 1000 times before.

I was reading through the WordPress Reader feed and came upon a post that had the Bloglovin badge/link, followed it to see what it is, and after a few more clicks, happened upon this lovely recipe for 60 calorie pumpkin bars with vanilla bean cream cheese frosting.  I loooooove autumn recipes, including anything baked with pumpkin, and the temps where I live have finally dropped below 75 at night (I f*cking hate summer heat), so it seemed like the right time to break out the baking pan and try something new.

Here’s where the UnFoodie comes out.  The ingredients for this recipe are:

“Ingredients For Pumpkin Bar Batter *1 1/2 Cups 100% Whole Grain Unbleached Wheat Flour, *1/2 Cup Almond Flour, *1 Tbsp Ground Cinnamon, *1/2 Tsp. Freshly Grated Nutmeg, *1 Tsp Baking Powder, *1 Tsp Baking Soda, *1/2 Cup Unsweetened Applesauce, *4 Large Eggs *1 Tsp Olive Oil, *2 Cups Pumpkin Puree, *3 Tbsps. Brown Sugar *1 Tsp Vanilla Bean Paste, *1/8 Cup Agave. and *Baking Stevia or Truvia to Taste.

Ingredients For Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Frosting *2 Tbsp Almond Flour, *Baking Stevia or Truvia to Taste, *1 Tsp Vanilla Bean Paste, *5 Oz Cup Vanilla Greek Yogurt, 3/4 Cups Plain Cream Cheese(1/3 less fat) , *1 Tsp Unsweetened Almond Milk, *2 Tbsp. Agave, *1 Tbsp Brown Sugar.”

Sounds YUMMY.  “Yeah, I don’t have some of the key ingredients, but whatever, I’ll make do,” I think.  Because I want these pumpkin bars.  Because the likelihood of finding any or all of the special ingredients (almond flour, unsweetened applesauce, agave nectar, vanilla bean paste, stevia, and unsweetened almond milk) at my nearest grocery store is about ZILCH out of 100.  Because I don’t want to drive an hour or more to pick up those ingredients just to have something sweet to eat for breakfast!

SO, I make do.  Whole grain unbleached wheat flour and almond flour?  Ah, regular flour will do.  Oh, and I have some semolina flour left over from something I cooked 3 years ago, so I’ll mix that in, and it’ll be healthier and will not taste like just plain white flour (right).  Freshly grated nutmeg?  Nope, just some from a jar.  That’s normal, right?  Unsweetened applesauce?  I think this was pure genius:  I grated up two granny smith apples.  Perfect!  Vanilla bean paste?  Nah, just vanilla extract (pure, though, not imitation, I mean I do have SOME standards).  Agave?  Honey.  That’s fine, right?  Stevia?  2 packets of Splenda.  Cooking with gas!  Well, electric, which sucks, but it’s what we have, so whatever.

OK, put all that together, baked it, came out looking yummy.  No pics, sorry.  How UnFoodie of me.  Ummm, it didn’t taste WONDERFUL.  But not horrible, either.  Needed some more sweetness.  First, I tried adding powdered sugar on top, which I often do to cakes, to avoid all the calories of frosting/icing.  (Is there a difference between frosting and icing?  Is it just a regional difference in the word?  Which one do you use?)  The powdered sugar added something good, but it still lacked the creaminess and tartness of frosting/icing to make it all come together.  OK, go back to the recipe.  What did it call for?  Oops, more of what I don’t have.  I do have greek yogurt in abundance.  Google substitution for cream cheese.  Turns out that regular yogurt, strained overnight in cheesecloth will work.  Not gonna happen in my house.  I can just see Elrond Hubby opening the fridge and saying, “What is THAT?”  “What?” I innocently would respond.  “That THING wrapped in your bandanna that is leaking down the sides of the tupperware into the fruit drawer!”  “Oh, is it leaking?  Sorrrrrryyyyy!”  So you see why that’s a bad idea.  Because I do not MAKE.  I make DO.

So, I had greek yogurt and powdered sugar on top of my pumpkin bars.  Not bad, in my book!

THIS morning, however, I had my usual “special” breakfast, bread with chocolate chips and peanut butter on it (I’m out of pita bread).  About an hour later, I had some of the pumpkin bars, as yesterday, but there was some peanut butter still stuck to my plate, and that tasted GOOD with the pumpkin bars.  SOOOO, brainchild:  pumpkin bar heated in the microwave, with chocolate chips melted onto the top, and then smeared with peanut butter.  With a dollop of greek yogurt on top.  VERY NICE.

Elrond Hubby:  “If I ate that, I would fart pumpkin for a week!”

Foodie and UnFoodie.

The Ongoing Saga of Elrond Hubby and Pet Hair

I haven’t written much over the last few days for a few different reasons.  Mostly, I’ve been feeling down, but I was also falling behind on planning and grading for my class, so I’ve been working on catching up on that, too.  Plus, it’s so interesting to read all of your stories that sometimes I don’t realize that a couple of hours has passed!  So, apologies to my NaBloPoMo goals, but I’m trying to figure out a way to balance things.

Anyway, you may have read previous posts on Elrond Hubby‘s obsession with pet hair, here and here.  Last night, he was talking again about my plan to get a Great Pyrenees dog.  He is dead set against it, because of the masses of hair that the Pyrenees have, and the amount of shedding that they must do.  I broke down and showed him my posts on his rants about cat hair a few days ago, and now he is self-conscious, but not in a bad way.  He also realizes how obsessed he is about it and how funny it must seem, so it gives us more to laugh about.

But he is not giving up!  He remembered yesterday that I said a couple of weeks ago that the President’s dogs, Bo and Sunny, who are Portuguese Water Dogs, are apparently nearly hypo-allergenic, and “they don’t shed.”   I remember saying this.  I don’t remember why I said it, other than I think I believed it at the time, but then I doubted myself.  Maybe I was wrong?  Maybe I just want a doggie so much that I am willing to lie about the hair issue?  I didn’t look it up, thinking he might drop it (HA, right!)

So, last night, he brought up Bo and Sunny again, and the conversation went something like this:

EH:  So, you said they’re hypo-allergenic?

Me:  Yep.

EH:  And they don’t shed?

Me:  (feeling sheepish and guilty)  Um, I might have been lying about that.

EH:  WHAAAAAT?????

Me:  It might be true!

EH:  I am never trusting you again.  About dogs, I mean.

Me:  Really?  At least I was honest enough to tell you that I lied about it.  OK, let’s look it up.

(In general, we look up a lot of things to solve questions like this.  Thank goodness for the internet!)

Me:  HAH!  I’m right!  (Reading from Wikipedia that they are nearly hypoallergenic and do not shed…as much as other dogs.)

EH:  Heyyyyy, that picture doesn’t look like Bo and Sunny.  Where did all that hair come from?  If that’s what they’re like, then that’s a fricking nightmare!

Then we laugh.  A lot.

EH:  Ok, go blog about that.  You should make your blog all about me, since I’m apparently hilarious.

He says that jokingly.  I think he’s flattered that I think he’s hilarious.  At least stuff like that isn’t a “problem.”  I mean, he says that I could throw poop at the walls like a monkey in the zoo and he would still love me.  In monkeys’ defense, I have never seen or heard of them throwing poop, but I believe him about the love part, thank goodness.  So I guess I can overlook his teeny tiny obsession with cat and dog hair.  🙂