Home again and on with the decluttering.

Hi folks, well all good things must come to and end and my vacation is one of those things. We had a lovely time in Japan but it is always nice to be home again. And now it is back to the decluttering.

We arrived in Japan not long after Christmas and departed in mid January, and what a crazy time it is over there at that time of year. There are lots of New Year celebrations that, among other traditions, seem to involve the purchasing and, I assume, consumption of sweets. I have witnessed the shopping frenzy that goes on in Australia and the USA at this time of year but nothing compares to what I witnessed in Japan. And especially, it seems, at theme parks such as Disneyland. Seriously you can hardly move in the souvenir shops at opening and closing of these parks, and sweets seem to be the main purchasing goal. Given that the word compact would probably describe the majority of homes in Japan, giving consumable gifts would seem a very sensible option. Although I am a little confused as to why there a so few overweight people to be seen, considering the vast quantities and variety of sweet purchases. Clearly the shopping frenzy is not equal to any sort of eating frenzy and these gift must surely be shared among many. However there was still plenty of non consumable souvenir purchasing going on and I am just glad I feel no need to indulge in it.

And on the subject of gifts, I am pleased to say that my family were true to my wishes and did not over endow me with them. Our daughter is going to take us to dinner the next time she is in town and our son and his family gave me mostly items that will be used up (candles, chocolate, wine) and another very small non consumable gift in the way of a key organiser, that is not only minimal in size but practical too.

As a result of my lack of desire for stuff and a little decluttering along the way, I am happy to say that I have made it through the holiday season and a vacation with no more possessions than when I started.  Maybe even fewer.

And today’s decluttering item, which will be going out to a relative, will result in two less skeins of yarn in my meagre yarn stash and has given me something to fill my downtime with (including waiting in cues at theme parks and during train rides and flights) while on my vacation. They are a strange combination of yarn but that is because I didn’t have enough of either to make an entire pair of socks so I simply combined the two. When they are covered with a shoe no one need ever know there is a hidden secret in the way of a splash of red.

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

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Continue reading with these posts:

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  • You just never know. Firstly I would just like to apologise for my recent extended absence from the blog this month. Unfortunately my mother took ill and I rushed off interstate to visit her in hospital and to […]
About Colleen Madsen

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


  1. Welcome back. So glad you had a good time in Japan but have missed you. It’s been crazy busy here but finally slowed down the last week or so. I kept decluttering though. We took the time to go through all the Christmas things and now that we know what we actually can use and want to use we have sent a bunch of items off to the thrift shop.

    • I actually got out my Christmas decorations too. I have decluttered them and now need a smaller container to store them in. That should free up a little space in the garage cage.
      Happy New Year to you.

  2. Welcome back! Missed you & this blog, but decluttered tons and even took many things in for metal recycling in your absence. You & this blog supplied me with the inspiration to keep on track.

  3. Consumable gifts seem like the best idea ever –
    I was happy to have very few gifts this season, I cannot even believe I wrote that, but it is so true.

    • I am glad you have seen the light Lorena, when it comes to less is more in terms of gift receiving. My daughter-in-law has also realised the benefits or less gifts and stuff in general and the pitfalls of too much.

  4. Big holiday at my house with my grandsons here for the whole time! (They live out of state.) There were a few gifts under the tree for them and stockings (they’re 6 and 8) and the “big” gift was a trip to LegoLand (here in Florida)! I ran off a couple of pics of Lego men and then cut them apart and it was a scavenger hunt to find and assemble the pieces to see what they said. Tons of fun Christmas morning and a fabulous family trip that will be remembered for some time! I am so proud of my daughter and son in law for starting their family Christmases with a firm – “no avalanche of gifts” message. I am all for consumable items and memory making adventures!
    Have missed you and all the folks who comment but was able to stay true to the declutter mantra and continued to so as holiday things were put away!

    • Sounds like a perfect Christmas to me Karen, and I love the treasure hunt idea. I do a money hunt at Easter with my Granddaughter. She gets enough eggs etc from the rest of the family so doesn’t need anymore from me.

  5. Hi Colleen and Welcome Home! So glad you had a good and safe vacation! As Calla said, I missed you and the blog family!!! However, I accomplished much. You may have noticed at the last post, Before Christmas, I took 57 articles of clothing to the thrift. Finally got up the nerve to remove things that didn’t fit well, weren’t me, too small, etc. That spurred me on. I made another pass through books and removed 119!!! Altogether this January, I have removed 340 items. Since I am down to a managable amount of clutter removal, I decided to keep a journal of the number of items. Someone on here mentioned putting numbers on the calendar which gave me the idea. Eventually, I will go thru books again, but I now have less than 300. I know that seems huge to most people, but for me it is really good. I also mixed all my bottles of trying-to-use-it-up shampoos I hated in with some inferior dish liquid and have been using it for laundry. No more extra shampoo bottles!!

    I got no gifts for Christmas, so no problem there. However, for some reason, my husband’s family decided to draw names for next year while they were at our home. I was not in on the discussion and had no idea what was going on. I have told one of my step daughters many times how I feel about shopping and gifts and how I am trying to simplify. Therefore, I was very upset when they came into the living room, and started having people draw names. When I realized what was happening, I said, “WAIT!
    We do not want to be included in name drawing!!! I don’t shop or do gifts! Please just exchange amongst yourselves!” They said we were already in the hat and it would mess everything up now if our names were removed. I kept protesting and My husband didn’t like me rocking the boat. I don’t mean to be a spoil sport, but I felt like I was forced to compromise my values in my own home. I was pretty unhappy about the whole thing. Mostly about being forced to shop for two gifts next year for people whose taste I do not know with money I do not really have to spend.

    But, I’m very happy about my other progress! And happy 365 is back up and running!!! Let’s “Git ‘er done” in 2017!!!!

    • You are doing so well Brenda and I am sorry about having secret Santa dropped on you for next year. Make it abundantly clear to those you orchestrated this that from this point forward that you will have no part in the gift exchange in the future. Too bad if they don’t like it as it would have no impact on the event but is certainly having one on you and your principals and budget so you should not be forced to partake. In fact if you could discover who has you and your husband in the upcoming draw them you could exchange them for the people you have and opt out altogether.

      This may have nothing to do with your situation, but it never ceases to amaze me how people have no problem with separating Christmas from Jesus but impossible to separate it from gift giving.

      • Colleen, thank you so much for your kind reply! I was feeling very guilty that I told the “name exchange story”. I LOVED your comment about how people can separate Jesus from Christmas but not the gift giving!!! So very true and, if you don’t mind, I will take up that mantra! Even back in my younger days when I had NO clutter, name exchanges never made much sense to me and I would never participate in the work place, etc. To me, it was like, “ok, we will spend $20 on each other to buy something neither of us will like or want, so why don’t we just keep our $20 to start with?” Ha!

        Now, if someone knitted me wonderful hand made socks for Christmas, it might change my whole attitude!!! Ha-ha.

  6. love the socks! great way to use up yarn

  7. You are a very talented sock maker! I’m impressed!

    My decluttering is moving nicely – amazed at the many nooks and crannies of stuff.

    • Thanks Pat, I have had quite a bit of practice over the last 12 months or so. Every pair I make I do a little different from the last. I am very pleased with the results. Are you also a knitter?

  8. Colleen, I forgot to mention how wonderful your socks were!!! You are very talented! I loved them and I’m sure the recipient will, too.

    • Thanks Brenda, the recipient has one foot longer than the other so she now will have a pair of socks that actually fit here well on both feet because I knitting one shorter than the other.

  9. Cute socks!! I love them.

    • Thanks deanna, I love to make them. By the end of the second sock I am usually thinking 1~ “This is getting boring.”, but once I am done I just want to start another pair. I used different yarns and change up the pattern a bit every time so it remains interesting.

  10. Hi Colleen,

    I also have to say how much I love the socks! I would wear them with sandals (yep, I do that), just to give everyone a jolt he he 🙂 I really think you could sell those in the art mall 🙂 So glad to read that others were decluttering during the holiday season… I have been continuing my decluttering journey… but slowly… not vast amounts going out the door… but not much coming in, either 🙂

    • Thanks Pat. They take so long to make that they would never realise enough dollars to make it worth the effort. Although I usually give them away so why not sell them at a reasonable price and make a few bucks. I do love them myself and tend to only wear my handmade ones now over the few other pairs I have.

  11. Hi Colleen,

    Welcome back! It was great to see your blog post when I checked in today. How interesting about all those sweet purchases in Japan – I didn’t know about this. Those socks you knitted are fabulous!

    • Hi Christine, I always find retail and shopping behaviours fascinating when visiting other countries. I says a lot about people, what their needs and interests are when it comes to consumption. I also find their recycling behaviours interesting too. Travel is more about the way people live to me rather than the famous sites.