Day 340 In My Expert Opinion

A guest post by Cindy Bogard

I subscribe to Real Simple magazine. I enjoy it, especially the section “New Uses for Everyday Things” which gives alternate uses for common objects. (Newspaper can deodorize food odors. Who knew?)

The December 2010 issue had an article called “Five Things to Save for Your Kids.” “That sounds good,” I thought. Well, think again, Real Simple. For once, I think your advice stinks.

The five experts and their “must keep” items are:

  1. Eric Silver, an antique gallery owner and appraiser on Antiques Roadshow: Insignificant objects from significant occasions, such as a souvenir program from a concert or postcards from vacation.
  2. Mike Bender, founder of the website Something mortifying from your childhood. Mr. Bender believes that we will whip this object out at the crucial moment and show our children how we can relate to their current, awkward situation in life.
  3. Rafael Guber, genealogist: Practical, high-quality household items, such as soup ladles, candlesticks, rosary beads, and other items which can be used by the recipient to create a feeling of closeness to the item-giving loved one.
  4. Jennie Eisenhower, great-granddaughter and granddaughter of two U.S. presidents: Something your descendants can re-purpose. Her example is a sugar bowl from her grandmother Pat Nixon, which she uses as a spare change bowl on her dresser.
  5. Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, history professor and author: What you wore to work Monday. Dr. Ulrich says that wedding dress are “a dime a dozen” because everyone saves those. Something really valuable is common, daily clothing, which few people save.

Wow, decluttering expert Cindy Bogard, blogger from Austin, Texas, thinks these people, with the possible exception of Jennie Eisenhower, have it all wrong.

Here’s how I break it down:

  1. Insignificant objects from significant occasions – Significant to whom? Why? Mr. Silver’s example is a playbill from a concert by The Doors and Jefferson Airplane, now valued at $1000. Unless my father was a professional rock musician, if he gave this to me, I would say, “Thanks Dad” and sell it promptly.
  2. Something mortifying from my childhood – Frankly, I have tried to rid myself of these things. I don’t think a ghastly photo of me wearing a now deeply unstylish outfit with a bad hair do and unflattering glasses is going to convince my children that I can relate to them. If anything, it could make me seems more out-of-touch.
  3. Your practical, high quality household items – Hmm. While I don’t disagree with this bit of expert advice in principle, the items that Mr. Guber mentions (candlesticks, soup ladles) are not valuable to me. I like my grandmother’s kitchen knife that my grandfather sharpened so many times that it has an oddly curved blade and the handle is worn silky smooth. Hardly a “high-quality item,” but dear.
  4. Something your descendants can re-purpose – This is the only one I like, because I like Ms. Eisenhower’s flexibility in re-purposing. I like that she feels free to enjoy her grandmother sugar bowl as a knick-knack collector on her dresser. I hope her grandmother likes it too.
  5. What you wore to work on Monday – I’m sure historians would love to find a fantastic handmade, everyday outfit from the Colonial times, but it will be hundreds of years before someone will value the mass produced jeans and school t-shirt I am wearing right now.

Item 340 of 365 less things

Something I picked up at a garage sale back in the States because my hubby is a Pirates fan. Is has never seen the light of day since I bought it. It would be a miracle if someone spots it at the thrift shop and think “Wow a Pirates bag I have to have that”. Ha Ha
Pirates Bag

5 things I am grateful for today

  1. Another beautiful day – Not to hot and a nice breeze and a few clouds around.
  2. Skip-Bo – A card game that Liam, his grandma and I have been playing everyday for a week. I love to play games with family and friends. I don’t even care if I lose I just love to play.
  3. Fred’s garden – I needed some chives for something I was cooking for dinner and my neighbour Fred has a great garden and loves to share. He actually thanks me for making him feel useful by using his stuff. What a guy!
  4. Cindy – For saving the day yet again. With a visitor in the house and a busy week-end I went blank when trying to come up with a post today so I used one of Cindy’s efficiently written ahead of time posts.  I will try not to make too much of a habit of it.
  5. Pancake shakers – Went there is only enough milk in the fridge for a morning coffee and there isn’t enough bread for toast it is great to be able to whip up a quick brecky (that’s breakfast for you non-Australians) of pancakes and syrup. No effort involved.
<a href=”” title=”Pirates Bag by seattle_maddog, on Flickr”><img src=”” width=”500″ height=”375″ alt=”Pirates Bag” /></a>
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  1. Just another example of how out of touch some of these popular media experts are. Who on earth wants to relive a truly mortifying moment and then make their kid feel awkward by showing them incontrovertible evidence of it? Like you, I think the only decent idea is Jennie Eisenhower’s and that’s only if you really desire to keep something, not out of an obligation to someone who no longer cares. Great post, Cindy, I agree with you completely!

  2. Thanks Simple Poppy. It’s been a rough morning, and it feels good to have someone think my ideas are the cat’s meow.

  3. In agreement here, also – number 4 seems like a reasonable idea but the rest just don’t make sense to me. I love the idea of using something a different way than it was intended, and if that means you’re keeping something old to use in a way that fits with your life, it’s even better!

    “Expert” opinions are still just opinions. You know your own life better than anyone else.

    • And I meant to add – these experts are all coming at the topic from their area of work/interest. It’s no wonder they picked the things they did!

      • I absolutely agree Jo. It’s like the man who has a hammer and thinks everything is a nail. Of course the guy on Antiques Roadshow wants you to save all your stuff – he’ll be out of work if you don’t!

  4. Keeping an awkward moment memento? No thanks! Those are the time I want to forget myself! Cindy, almost every knife in my drawer came either from my mom or grandmother–they’re great quality knives and still very serviceable. Great post!

    Colleen, I love playing Skip-bo too! Have you seen Bananagrams? It’s an exanded version of Speed Scrabble, which is another one of my favorites games.

    • Hi Willow,
      I have not heard of either of those. I bet my neighbour would love speed scrabble. I a draw one of the nieces or nephews in the secret Santa I may have to look for those two games. I love to play games with them when we go to visit. We had a fun time playing some sort safe cracker game last Christmas.

  5. Love Banagrams too. It’s great to play with the kids. My husband and I enjoy Scrabble, but it can be so . . . slow . . .

    I don’t know Skip-bo.

  6. I totally agree with you Cindy. When Steve’s family unearthed a scrapbook kept by his grandmother, we enjoyed looking at old family photos, but we were baffled as to why she had kept a napkin from a friend’s wedding for posterity. Needless to say, we didn’t keep it.

    • I opened my Grandma’s cookbook the other day and out dropped a recipe contest form in great condition. To be considered, recipes had to be submitted by Dec. 1953. Cooler than a napkin from a wedding, I think, but it probably got there the same way: Grandma stuck it in the book and then forogt about it.

  7. We have banana grams and love it.

    Now a scrabble board set is something I would keep for my kids!

    • We have three Scrabble sets, so I’m ceratinly not one to talk: the “deluxe” one we use regularly, a travel one, and a cheap board in case we need a back up. What can I say? We take our Scrabble seriously.

  8. Cindy, great post. I chuckle often when I read “expert” advice because 9 times out of 10 its tailored to their own lives or work, not to the real world. I think the better idea in deciding what to save for your kids would be to get to know your kids – find out for yourself what would be of interest to them to hold onto. Sometimes its the last thing we expect.

    • My Mom didn’t save anything. The only thing that made it out of my childhood was a teddy bear, which I always kept with me. I wished she’d have kept my Nancy Drew books (I had them all, although I confess that I didn’t like them nearly as much when I started reading then to my girls), my Big Baby baby doll, and my Breyer horse collection, which I basically re-bought for my own kids.

      • I have a few things from my childhood that survived including some school papers, my School Days book, and my Mrs. Beasley doll. I had a complete set of Nancy Drew books including some original ones from the 50s that belonged to my stepmom. When I was a teenager those things went in the attic, but my much younger brothers used to play up there (after I’d moved out on my own) and the books got trashed and throw out. I would have totally sold those early editions on ebay!

  9. Oops! We also have travel scrabble, deluxe version, ordinary AND a vertical version too! But I guess they are not clutter if you use them!

  10. I have a Deluxe Scrabble, and a regular board one. I am curious about the new Flash Scrabble Cubes – has anyone tried them? I LOVE Scrabble, but my husband won’t play, so I play it on Facebook with friends, which is terribly slow.

  11. Interesting post, Cindy, although, like you, I don’t agree with the experts. I often wonder where people like this get their “expert” title. I do agree with keeping a few items of value and/or practical purpose for future generations. I am keeping my husband’s boyhood Tonka trucks made of metal, not plastic, for my grandchildren. I’ve also kept my son’s Hardy Boys and Chronicles of Narnia books, his Lincoln logs, Legos, and special Matchbox cars. With technology the way it is these days and children glued to their computers, Tv’s, iPods, cell phones, and other paraphernalia that require little or no imagination, I like to pass on items that will spark imagination and creativity.

    • Those experts are clearly experts at something, just not decluttering! I like your list. I personally think a good rule to follow is to keep the wooden and metal toys and get rid of the plastic. As for the books, hang onto the one you read so much that the covers are falling off. Those are the ones that will be dear.