How much do you really love those nicknacks?

Here are some questions to ask yourself if you have a lot of nicknacks adorning your home. Usually a home full of nicknacks also has additional furniture to house those nicknacks. Pedestals and little tables for them to sit on, china cabinets and bookshelves crammed with them, open 3D frames hanging on the wall containing more tiny bits and pieces. Just the thought of it all makes me wheeze and sneeze. So here are my questions…

  • How important can each and every item possibly be to you when they are crammed onto shelves where you can’t even see half of them because they are hidden behind one another?
  • How often do you actually take the time to look at each and every one of these items?
  • How clean is your home on a daily basis when there are so many of these items that you can only bring yourself to dust them once a year?
  • How much time and energy do you even have to devote to maintaining your home in this state?
  • How easy is your home to clean properly when so much wall and floor space is covered with the furniture or props holding these items?
  • How much money has been spent acquiring these items while renovations and repairs have gone begging on the structure you live in?
  • How much more could you enjoy and appreciate your favourites among these items if the overall quantity were fewer and less crowded?
  • If you died tomorrow would you really want your loved ones to have to deal with all your stuff in their time of grief?

If you do have a desire to reduce your collection in order to make cleaning day easier but you are having a hard time letting go it is possible to desensitise yourself from this anxiety. All you have to do is choose an item that you care the least about among the collection and let it go. If you feel any pangs after parting with an item remind yourself of your goal of easing your cleaning burden. Give yourself a day or two to establish the fact that you have barely noticed an item’s absence and then choose another least loved item and again let it go. Continue on with this method and I am sure you will end up letting go of more items than you ever thought you would.

Rearrange and spruce up your collection as you progress so as to have it looking the best it can. Bringing all your favourites to the fore.

Hopefully you will advance so far with this task that you start to empty furniture items and can also remove them to create open spaces which are easy to clean. Just thinking about all the balls of fluff, dust mites and possibly even mould and roaches that can hide in all these nooks and crannies makes me cringe. And although that may sound a little melodramatic it is entirely possible. In Australia these are also places where venomous spiders (Redbacks and Whitetails) can lurk.

Today’s Mini Mission

Declutter any old manuals or warranty papers that are out of date or you no longer have the items for. This is one of those areas of paperwork that builds up over time. Be vigilant because paperwork can be very daunting to deal with when allowed to accumulate.

It matters not how fast I go, I hurry faster when I’m slow

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About Colleen Madsen

Colleen is the founder of 365 Less Things and lives in Newcastle, Australia.


  1. Timely! I’m feeling overwhelmed having to downsize from a two-bedroom apartment to a single room. I’m planning a big move overseas in the fall and obviously can’t take 95% of my stuff with me. This is definitely an exercise in letting go – I can feel it’s going to be hugely emotional because I’m also letting go of a lot of stuff inside, things that have been bottled up for too long. A long overdue cleansing, not entirely a bad thing. I need to keep your points in mind as I work through my cupboards, closets and drawers…

    • Hi Annie and welcome to 365 Less Things. When I was writing this post I was thinking do I sound like someone who has no love of nick nacks and should just mind my own business. If someone else loves theirs then who am I to judge. But then I remembered why this post felt like it was begging me to write it. I so often encounter people who are overwhelmed by this sort of stuff, love it but really would prefer to be free of it. A kind of love hate relationship. It holds them to one place, causes them unnecessary work and even bad health in some cases but they fear they will miss it when it is gone. The slow and steady approach is often the safest to take, deleting the easiest things first. Quite often this elimination process goes much further than they ever expected but the hardest part is always getting started.

      I wish you success with you elimination process, your move overseas and your purging of demons.

      • Colleen, many of my friends and even my doctor today said that we are all getting to an age where we need to go through all our THINGS and sort and clear as we don’t want our families to have to do it in a time of grief.
        So your post is well timed and I will share it with friends.

        • Hi Denise, your doctor is very wise and I am glad you are going to share this with your friends. Spread the word

          • Colleen – I realised something yesterday – I have a book that was given to me after my Great Grandmother died when I was a girl, it was presented to her by her school teacher in 1907. The current going rate for these on ebay is $12. I have read it, the plot is pretty boring by today’s standards but I kind of like that I have this. I have told my girls that its entirely up to them whether they want to keep it or not when the time comes, BUT if they don’t want it, I’d like it sent to the museum of the town she grew up in rather than being chucked out. The museum took some other bits and pieces last year that didn’t mean anything to me but were of interest to them and as this book has the school’s letter head for the award glued to the front inside cover, they said they’d love to have it if we ever don’t want it.
            What I have taken from this is that just because something is valuable whether emotionally or moneywise, I shouldn’t expect it to be valuable to the next generation. And anything that is a bit out of the ordinary for getting rid of, it would be a kindness to supply an option that would be acceptable to me and easy for them to do, if they don’t want the item.

            On the inside cover of this book I have slipped a piece of note paper repeating this option and the contact details of the particular museum.

  2. Good post. Have tried to pare this area to the minimum, but should revisit it, since stuff does creep in, doesn’t it.

  3. One thing that helps me let go of things is to find them on ebay selling for considerably less than I thought that particular heirloom/souvenir was worth.

    • Hi C Washburn and welcome to 365 Less Things. The opposite could also work ~ find them on ebay and realise you could make a killing and cash in.

    • C Washburn – I have a friend who had the job of emptying her mother’s house after she passed away. Her mum had always stressed how valuable all these ornaments and trinket items were. So the siblings were expecting great yields off the sale of these but turns out they weren’t valuable at all and it caused some tension between the siblings when they went for roughly 20% of what they were expecting.

      Of course, it can go the other way too, but the elderly lady would have been better to buy some bonds or to have them valued herself as she got older.

      • I agree with you Moni. My Mom has this inflated idea of what everything is worth. If she bought it as a collectible then it should be worth something. Most times they sell so many it is no longer worth even what you gave for it. Unless it is something that is really old and rare you probably won’t get much out of it.

        • Deb J – as a child with a healthy aversion to dusting and cleaning mum’s figurines, china plates, ornaments, crystal ware, silverware, pottery items, brass doo-dads etc I came to the conclusion that to avoid doing this for the rest of my life the key was not to own any such items once I had my own home! And aside from a couple of items amongst engagement and wedding gifts I managed to stick to this plan!

          It probably sounds a bit simple, but for me, I believe the only value in my possessions is the replacement value.

          • Moni, not only did I have a healthy HATE for anything called housework but I had a very unhealthy allergy to dust and mold. But in my house growing up you never gave away something you were given as a gift. it took me a while to realize that was a nutty idea and then I started getting rid of things. Gradually because Mom still had a problem with it. Now it is mostly gone. I can’t wait until it all is.

          • Dear Moni, Wow. How smart you were at such a young age. To avoid the pitfall of clutter. I’m jealous.

      • Kinda awful that they are squabbling over things. I managed to control any urges I had of holding onto ‘Memories” in things. Just doesn’t happen. My dad passed away nearly 3 years ago, I could of taken heaps of things but I didn’t! My son wears his Grandad’s hat and has his Service Medals and Shooting Medals and that is all. He has kept his Pops Service Book and his Prayer Book. All these things can be passed onto Collection Museums and the like if our boy decides to let them go. I was offered all sorts but declined. Everyone else has my Dad’s stuff ‘put away’. I see my Dad when my son puts his hat on or I go into his room and see the Medals laid out in their display box. None of us feel the need to have lots of ‘things’ to remember we had two ‘Fine upstanding men of the highest degree’ in our lives.

        I find it sad that ‘Stuff’ can cause so much strife 🙁

  4. I have been guilty in the past of buying whatever cute thing struck my fancy, but not any longer. And, since I had to move the china hutch out of the kitchen for safety’s sake (don’t want Mr. Contractor to crash into it when doing the adjacent laundry room), I’m going to cull through it even more when I put it back. After I had cleaned out my cupboards, it was really nice to see space between objects. Those trinkets that I will retain in the china hutch will look nice too and seem more special, I think.

    • That sounds like a good plan, Michelle. Happy decluttering to you.

    • Hi Michelle, It is so nice when you can ‘see’ your beauties easily without having to bend your eyes around everything else.
      Have fun de-cluttereing and opening new space and opportunities.
      Now your ‘Chi’ will flow easily 🙂 🙂 🙂

  5. This is a great post.

    Personally, I’m always struggling wanting to have everything on hand ready to use. I always wanted to see my treasures and used to rearrange all the time. What a waste of time! I still have lots of open storage and therefore things look more “cluttered” or colourful than in other houses, as you can see most things, but that is just how it works for me. Still, I don’t feel the need to rearrange all that often any more, now that everything does have room and everything can be up front at once.

    • I am curious Sanna, all these things out on display, how often to you dust them. I know that I often dust around these things most weeks but then give all the individual small items a proper dust only every month or so. Sometimes I begrudge doing that since most of these objects are not mine and because I suffer from allergies and prefer they weren’t there collecting dust in the first place. How do the other occupants of your home feel about your items?

      • Actually the other occupants of this home have their own trinkets as well: if you look at the booccase, the bigger figurines all belong to my spouse, the vases and about 8 smallish figurines are mine. Luckily none of us has allergies either.
        Funnily, our floor is the thing in this home that attracts the most dust. I think it’s this laminate flooring. We get dust bunnies in no time. The shelves themselves don’t get that dusty (to really see some dust it takes about a month). I usually dust around the items on the shelves as well but dust part of it weekly, too. I don’t dust all of them at once though but dust some in the first week and some in the other week. Usually I wipe them down damp, so they’re really clean and dust can’t swirl around. Also I often do a quick dust when I use something from the shelf. E.g. if I put back a book I might dust the figurine that sits on the same shelf as this book. There are probably not that many overall trinkets though, the bookcase you saw is the worst spot for them, because I assembled all real trinkets and figurines there over time. If they collected dust like the corners of the rooms though, I’d probably get rid of them! There are but three other flat surfaces in the apartment that feature “decorative” items, mainly plants, which are not as many fiddly bits to move and are dusted when we water them. There is more open shelving though, in almost any room, but meanwhile I use most items in the open shelving on a regular basis, so it’s only the shelves themselves that need to be wiped down sometimes, the teapots or plates in the kitchen are just used and washed afterwards, just like the towels in the bathroom etc. There as well I will often just wipe the spot where e.g. that teapot is standing, when I put it back or take it out of the shelf, so I don’t have to make a big effort once a week or month. I even use some of the vases etc. in the bookcase and also a good part of the books which are dictionaries and grammar books quite regularly (regularly here means more often than once a month).
        I’m okay with that so far, though I’m open to the thought that maybe one day there will be even less.

        • Oh, I do count teapots and plates as “potential trinkets” because I once kind of collected them, that is, I had so many of them that I just couldn’t use even a significant part of them on a regular basis. I still own rather a lot, but I do bring them all out regularly. I did declutter many “everyday” items that weren’t dear to me and use my “treasures” now instead (they’re not necessarily valuable, but they are special to me). Also, they are my decoration now as well, although it is now a useful decoration. 😉

        • Sounds like you use the same schedule of cleaning I do when it comes to dusting. A area this week a different one next. Luckily I don’t have too many.

          I am finding all my dictionary and grammar needs met on the internet these days. Although reading my blog some days you would have to wonder what dodgy sites I use. 😆 That has more to do with poor proof reading though.

  6. This is a good one Colleen. We used to hove all sorts of nick nacks on all sorts of little shelving units. Since many of them were mine because friends thought I wanted a collection of bells, angels, hummingbirds, etc. it took a while for me to realize that I didn’t have to hang on to things just because someone had given them too me. So gradually I would slough them off in a way that didn’t get Mom upset with me. What is left are a few things Mom has kept. Even she is beginning to get a little tired of some of them so we are getting rid of more. Someday I hope to see them all gone but I don’t know when that will be.

    • Hi Deb J, once you own more than three of something it tends to become a collection. Then anyone who knows about this “collection” sees it as an easy out when it comes to gift giving. Hence the collection gets out of control. Years ago I had a collection of elephants, I used to go on great elephant hunts anytime I was near a gift shop. And of course people gave them to me often. Once married to a military man I soon cringed at the thought of having to rearrange them with every move and sold them off quick smart. Then the kids started to collect things and cycle started again. Even I used to acquire these items for them. Those days are definitely gone now, that is for sure.

      • Colleen, you are right about how people start using a perceived collection as an easy out for a gift. I’m glad that I have no one giving me gifts like that anymore.

      • Coleen I love Elephants and Frogs. It was amazing how people used to add to ‘collection’ at one birthday I thought I had actually opened up a ‘sanctuary’!!! hahaha. They do multiply, thankfully I only deal with ‘Snowmen’ now!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂

  7. Lately I have been stronger on this topic than ever before. I have my ONE all time favourite from the collection (usually the one that set off the desire to have the collection in the first place) and the rest can fin different homes.
    Examples: the ONE plate from that china set that I never use (but love the pattern so I serve treats on it for Christmas now), the ONE collector art plate that reminds me most of my favourite childhood home (that had dozens of them hanging on the walls), the ONE vintage camera that I think is the coolest (from the 1/2 dozen that were a real nightmare to dust), the ONE glass knick knack from my grandma’s china cabinet (I enherited the entire contents) and ONE momento of each of my Grandparents, not everything they ever gave me. The vintage Fisher Price house (letting go of the western town, ferry, houseboat, parkade, castle, a barn, and lots of accessories – or is that “excessories”?)

    • good idea, just keep your favorite and let the rest of the collection go…

    • Funny you should mention vintage cameras. After just saying to Deb J that I no longer “enable” my children to collect things, I am just about to buy my photographer son a vintage Kodak camera for his birthday. Oh well perhaps I am not immune to adding to other peoples collections after all. At least he no longer lives in my house so I am not housing his collection.

      You have done well to narrow down your collections to just your favourites. Well done Creative Me.

      And I think you are right, it is “excessories”.

      • Wow, Creative Me! Sounds like you are really getting the work done! Good job!

      • Ha! Today I just sent off two packages of things to my brother to add to his collections. At least we don’t have them anymore.

      • That ‘one’ camera will have pride of place and will be a fabulous conversation piece! 🙂 🙂 🙂

    • That is a great way to have your knick knacks but not have them take over!

  8. Great post Colleen. I have never wanted collections or lots of knick knacks but I understand that many people are drwan to them for different reasons. This post will surely help them to at least cull the objects (and think about not bringing in more 🙂 )
    And BTW I absolutely love Creative Me’s new word “excessories” !!!

  9. “A lot” is relative of course. I don’t think we have a lot of nicknacks but that’s probably because I’d bet that we have about 75% less than we used to. We still have a few that are out all year that I’m particularly fond of, but we don’t have so many that we have special furniture for them. We do still have too many Christmas and Halloween knicknacks but it hasn’t been a priority yet to haul those bins out of the garage to look at them item by item. Probably something we’ll do when the holidays roll around. I did this with my Christmas ornaments last year when we pulled them out to hang them on the tree. I probably sent 25 or so to Goodwill and a few more got given to people I work with that wanted them.

    • Hi Melissa, 75% is a great reduction. Good for you.

      • We currently have two quality porcelain figures sitting on our guest bed (which is where I’ve been putting everything that we decide to get rid of that isn’t trash) that are waiting to be escorted out. I wasn’t really sure what to do with them so they’ve been sitting there for about 2 weeks. I know we don’t want them any more. They are still nice. I’ve just grown bored of them and my husband couldn’t care one way or another about them. I just recently learned that our local used bookstore also takes odds and ends things for consideration for them to buy and resell. On our next trip to that store, I’m planning on taking those (along with a growing pile of other things) to see if they have an interest. I normally don’t mind giving things to Goodwill but these two figurines are fragile and probably wouldn’t withstand the rough handling they get by the people taking donations at the Goodwill center. So we’ll see if I can’t get a little cash for them. If the bookstore doesn’t want them, then I suppose I’ll take them into work with a ‘free’ sign on them in our breakroom. I’ve done that before with other things and they usually get snapped right up. I just don’t really want to see fragile things smashed to bits at the donation center. It was bad enough watching the clods smash up my old glass dining table that I got rid of a few years back. It convinced me I will not donate fragile things to Goodwill ever again as they may as well be placed right in the garbage.

  10. Calico ginger

    I find keeping the collection “in jail” helps. I have my 1930s Beswick and Crown Devon vases in ONE smallish glass display cabinet. If a new one should arrive (very unlikely, but it’s possible if I come across a cracker), then one of the others must exit the house. They only get out (one at a time) when they are being used to hold flowers. They are all washed, along with their cabinet interior, once a year and after any use. This is a pleasurable event, associated with spring cleaning. The days of letting a collection boss me around are over!

  11. By age 10 I’d developed a huge aversion to ornaments. By then I had the regular job of doing the dusting. My mum loves ornaments and they seemed to be everywhere on all flat surfaces. She had several collections – elephants and frogs – and after that a collection of ‘anything goes’. I hated them.

    Even in the height of my cluttering the problem was never ornaments, I had a few but never so many it was a problem. I ended up getting rid of those because we got rid of a couple of pieces of furniture that they sat on and also because Dizzy recommended a book on decluttering using sheng fui and it made me re-think what kind of figurines/ornaments we have in the house and one line up left the house.

    I have a few ornaments left scattered around the house, but by and large I love not having much in the way of surfaces to dust.

    • Hi Moni! If I ever have my ornaments around the house and I had to dust them regularly I would probably end up hating them as well! 😀 What is the name of the book Dizzy recommended you? My problem is more in the line of books being in every available shelf in my house…I was just about to start a speech here of “Oh I have no problems with ornaments in my free space…” and I looked around. Of course I don’t have ornaments I would have to take the books to have space for them!!! 😀 😀 😀 As books have to be dusted individually, they are my nicknacks.

      • Andreia – yes book collections got me too.
        Clear Your Clutter With Feng Shui by Karen Kingston
        Its an easy read and uses the basic principles in a decluttering context, so doesn’t get complicated.

        • This is a brilliant book: I got it in 2002 and it got me decluttering like a “white tornado”! It’s what got me started on the minimalist path. I still re-read it from time to time, I really recommend it.

          • Hey Janetta,
            It is my Bible!! 🙂 🙂 🙂
            It gets read constantly by myself and friends 🙂 🙂 🙂

      • It’s a great book !!! It is easy to read and basically gets into why we collect and how to de-collect!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂

    • I am not surprised about you not being a ornament kinda gal Moni as I can’t recall you ever mentioning decluttering any. Good for you.

    • Moni, I still have my copy of Karens book, aside from the few good sites I visit, that book along with peter Walsh have been my saving grace. Although I have ‘Stuff’ still being sorted, I love the simplicity of it. In my mind, everytime I clear something I feel the ‘change’ I like to think of it as the ‘Chi’ can flow free!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂

      The most significant part for me was the collection chapter, just makes you really think on what you have as opposed to what you really want! 🙂 🙂 🙂

      • Dizzy – the part that got my attention the most was on the image and representation of what ornaments and/or pictures one has in the house and how it can actually influence that kind of energy. At the time I had decided to get rid of a set of ornaments depicting the Chinese Buried Army and they lived in the big lounge. Long story short, they left on freecycle – and this is NOT made up folks – we noticed in the week or two that followed, that we didn’t seem to pick arguments with each other in that room any more. I mentioned to Adrian and he said “yeah, it had become a bit of a war zone” – the light bulb went on over my head and I raced to get my kobo (BTW this is one of the times that an e-reader lacks some of the drama of an actual book) and frantically scrolled thru the pages (once again, totally not the same as flicking thru a book in high speed) until I found the page. Could these have been drawing war like chii into this room? Who knows but it was too much of a coincidence for me not to be looking cross-eyed at every decorative item around the house!

        • Hey Moni,
          You banged it on the head. There was a lady in that book or Karen’s other, that had a sad forlorn painting of a lady, everytime the owner walked in the room her mood dropped. I firmly believe if your surroundings are dire you will feel the same. I am not suprised you had a ‘war room’ going on. My son has a few ‘Dragons’ depicting what Dragons do, to soften the effects I literally put soft cushions in his room and offset the dominance with soft coloured stones. I just always told him they were the dragons light stones. I also softened his room colours so he is not sleeping in a battle zone.

          If you have books or pictures of war, same deal, place ‘nice things’ near them. Enjoy your ;war free zone’ 🙂 🙂 🙂

          • Not sure I am liking feng shui if it means softening things with more clutter. You see angry dragons I see nasty dust mites. At least the dragons aren’t real. 😉

            I think I like Moni’s idea of just get rid of the offending items rather than trying to “soften” them.

          • Dizzy – does the grid in the book apply just to the house or to the entire section/property?

            Have asked you this on today’s post too. Have a lot of light bulbs going off as I re-read the book. Especially empty boxes! Have the inclination to hang onto them and leave them in the garage which is the self improvement area. Well they’re all gone now! No hollow spaces in my self improment anymore!!!!!

  12. Loved the post today. All of the questions are important ones to ask when it comes to these pesky things, especially the question posed in the title. Over the years, as I did not want anything to be left in boxes when I moved around, I found that I got into a habit of putting something wherever there was a spot to hold it. Whether it was in a cabinet, on a table or any other surface that I could find a spot to hold things. At this last move, I knew that less is more and I could not keep that many because they would end up being too crowded and not to mention having to dust them. Since then, I have gotten rid of a large curio cabinet and the large majority of the knick knacks are gone. I kept a few that were my favorites, but even with that cull, I am contemplating getting rid of more. Really, what purpose do they serve? Except for something pretty to look at, or maybe they remind us of a person or memory of a moment in time. Digital pictures can do the same thing. I tend to ask myself alot when contemplating an item, that if I was gone, who would want this item? If all else fails and you can’t see the wood for the trees, have someone else help as an unbiased eye.

    • Hi Jen, you comment reminded me that nicknacks were high on my list of items to declutter after our last move. Many of them were initially left in boxes because they could not fit in this house. It took many weeks to finally declutter enough of them to make what was left fit. Then when I started my 365 mission there were a lot more sent on their way. Now I personally have very little left in that way of things. Including crystal glasses, old china and lots of other stuff that was kept just because it once belonged to passed loved ones. They are mostly gone now but funnily enough I still often think of the loved ones. So no, I don’t need them to bring back memories.

  13. Colleen, today’s post really made me laugh – no need to guess how you feel about those little ornaments! 🙂

    Thankfully I’ve never been much of an ornament person so we don’t own many things like that, not even Christmas decorations. But candles, now, that’s another story. I have real and battery-operated candles and lanterns all over the place, and they are an almighty nuisance sometimes as they gather dust or get knocked over when I reach past them for something else, but the joy of relaxing in a scented and candle-lit room is worth it right now. Maybe it won’t always be.

    • Was I that obvious Jenny? 😆 All but one candle is gone as well. With the exception of some tealights in case of power outages.

      • Not sure if you can see this link if you aren’t a Facebook user, but this is how we spent the first night of the huge Christchurch earthquake in 2011 – drinking wine by candlelight. We didn’t get electricity back for several days. I was so glad to have my lanterns and candles that week!

        Turns out that garden solar lights are also very useful in a no-electricity situation. We pulled them off their stakes and lined the hallway so that people could find their way to the bedrooms without tripping over something. So long as there was some sunshine during the day it worked great – I just lined them up on the windowsills to charge 🙂

        • Jenny – I was just thinking of you the other day! I passed on your advice to put cardboard cask wine into the survival kit not glass bottles!

          • Ha ha, of all the things I can be influential about I didn’t have cask wine at the top of my list 🙂 But it is a very practical choice, and also easier to stack than bottles. Too funny that you were thinking of me when you passed on the advice.

    • Oohhh 🙂 candles Well I am addicted. I feel they are functional though and I love to have tealights glowing instead of harsh bright lights blazing away!!! Mine don’t last long enough to have to dust!! 🙂 🙂 🙂

  14. Hi Everyone,
    Today I realised I am a day out of whack.
    Read yesterday to see how I’m going! Nicknacks feared the hell out of me today.
    I have read everything and now I am going to lie down for a headache nap! I posted on the wrong day, what I did today so Tomorrow I will start the Mini-Missions! hahaha. It is still May isn’t it????? 🙂 🙂 🙂

  15. In an ideal world my home would have very few nicknacks (and little stuff in general) on display that need dusting/cleaning – but it would have a closet or other practical and accessible storage for the things I don’t need (to see) every day but that I don’t want to declutter either. Minimal but with some loved items on rotation: best of both worlds! And the look stays fresh because of the little changes.
    I try to use this principle already but I notice that without easily accessible storage for the items I’d love to rotate there’s not much rotation. I would love it if putting a decorational item back after dusting would mean it is my decision to have it there because it would be super easy to put it into it’s storage space and it would be as easy to put something else out if I decided to, because all that deco stuff is in one place.

  16. Jenny – LOL – didn’t mean to make you sound like a wine-o! I guess because there is so much public education about being prepared and most folks do have a survival kit that it was good to hear something, well, useful and practical. And obvious. Until someone has gone thru something that major you just don’t know what is useful and what isn’t. I know someone that checked thru her survival kit recently and there were still disposable nappies in it, and her son is now at primary school! I have a relative who went thru the Christchurch earthquake and she said it was just the last straw that day when she had an ‘aha!’ moment that she had a bottle of wine in the cupboard in the garage (hidden for emergencies – but more of the unexpected guests type emergency, than my city has been struck with a natural disaster type of emergency) and she went to get it and it was smashed.

    • Her disappointment must have been bitter. Even people who don’t normally drink much were glad of a medicinal something-or-other that day!

      • Jenny – hell yes she was unhappy. The last straw! She reckoned she was tempted to lick the shelf. But she didn’t. Nerves were so rattled and had just taken in two other families and she had just about to go to the supermarket when it hit, so not really enough food for everyone. Aftershocks were frightening. Heck, I’d hook myself up to an IV of wine under the circumstances!

    • Hey Moni, tell her to keep the nappies in the kit, you never know!! Apart from the obvious use, they are brilliant if there are any injuries, we have used them for cold packs too, wet them and the gel cools so you can use them on sprains etc. My hubby still laughs at me when I pack the first aid kit, I still put 5 sanitary pads and tampons in there. The pads are brilliant for nasty cuts and tampons are great for nose bleeds. hahaha I stopped at an accident and the head wound on the poor bloke was horrible, but I staunched the flow with a pad. He looked a right sight when the ambos got there!! but hey improvisation! If you look closely at Boxers, when they get biffed their medic shoves compressed cotton up their nose, tampons are all ready to go!!

      Aside from all that I pray that none of you have to go through anything devastating. 🙂 🙂 🙂

  17. Just a thought in response to Moni and the old book. Your family may not remember to look inside or under or behind items to where you have made notations, especially if clearing under stress or in a rush. If you have items that are important and you have specific intentions regarding their disposal, I suggest you make a list and keep it with but not part of your will. My great-aunt pencilled my name on the back of a watercolor painting of her house (now vanished for a high-rise building). Last time I saw the painting it was in her daughter’s garage — headed for a rummage sale! Not worth making a stink about, but lesson learned. Whoever clears up after us will know that THIS sculpture goes to a museum, THESE paintings are worth sending to a gallery and the rest of it can be sent out into the world. That will make their job much easier.

    • Wendy B – good idea as there are a couple of my wishes that aren’t worthy of including in my will so I will include this. I’ve only just turned 40 so I’m hoping I’ve got a long way to go!

  18. Excellent post!

    I hate knick-knacks, and don’t keep any around. I’ve been accused of having a “sterile” environment because of how few decorative objects, pictures, etc. I have out. Hubby on the other hand–he’d have knick-knacks on every available surface if I’d let him, which I don’t. He even loves to junk up the garden with those tacky plastic figurines, but usually after I roll my eyes a few times, they tend to disappear. 😉

    When my daughter was little, she and I were into all sorts of crafts. I gave up most of those crafts after she grew up though, because if I didn’t like having useless/excess stuff around, why would I want to create it just to have it clutter up somebody else’s house? (Handcrafts with a real purpose are fine–purely decorative ones, not so much.)

    Slowly my hubby is coming around to my way of thinking, and it’s one of the points you mentioned: we don’t want to have a lot of clutter here because we wouldn’t want our children to have to deal with a big mess when we’re gone.

    My siblings and I are going to have to clear out a farmhouse, barn, and other outbuildings when my mother is gone. It’s going to take us MONTHS of work because my parents saved everything when they were farming. I dread that task.

    • Hi Becky, clearly I am not much of a knick-knack lover either. And like you my husband owns most of the dust collectors around here. His are mostly life memory stuff ~ presentoes from work and the like ~ and sports collectables. Personally I would be happy to see the back of most of them but if they make him happy to see them so be it.

      I tend to agree with you about impractical craft items too. I mostly make greeting cards these days which I send out to family and friends for birthdays and Christmas. This saves me on buying store bought cards and the recipient gets something made with love. I do hope they just through them in the recycling once the occasion has past though and don’t feel obliged to keep them.

      Clearing out after past loved ones can be quite a monumental task. Good on you for dealing with your own stuff now and not burdening your loved ones with it. I know that my kids would be glad to take anything that is left in our house because recently as they have both moved out of home they keep asking ~ “Do you want to get rid of this or that.” We’d be living in a bare house if we gave them everything they wanted. 😆

  19. Oooh… they are some piercing questions. I like them.

    I have had quasi-minimalistic tendencies since I was a teenager, and knick-knacks was a no-no since then. Somehow I got it that impractical items were useless, but sadly I got caught on the consumer treadmill buying ‘useful’ stuff. I am so glad to have stepped off.

    And in regard to your last question, I do not look forward to inheriting all of my mothers knick knacks…


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