Saturday Extra ~ Trash to Treasure

Some weeks back Michelle, one of our fellow 365ers, declared that she was going to finish or ditch a craft project that had turned into aspirational clutter. She gave herself a deadline of two weeks to achieve this. However life got in the way and it took a little longer than promised but she has managed to complete the task and has transformed some lovely old pieces of carved wood into some very functional book ends.

She was determines to achieve this goal which did present some difficulty of its own. Michelle said in her email ~Even though I stripped 8 layers of paint from them and cleaned them really well, when I applied the stain, it separated and created this very funky look.  I kind of like it.  The moulding pieces were not perfect to begin with (nail holes, chipped areas) and that comes through in the final product.  Overall I am pleased.

 And thank you and the rest of the 365ers so much for not giving me a hard time about how long this took – – considering what a super small project it turned out to be.  🙂

Well done Michelle you did well and I like the rustic effect of the separated stain also. It is amazing the relief one can get by converting aspiration into something useful or beautiful. The same goes for converting any kind of clutter into something else. Sometimes that will be a donation to a thrift shop, sometimes being repurposed to be useful again and sometimes simply sent to the trash or the recycling. Either way the items are no longer cluttering up your home.


Today’s Mini Mission

Declutter something you have more than enough of.

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

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Continue reading with these posts:

  • Mini Mission ~ Friday 22Dec2017 Declutter a couple of old shabby shoes that you no long choose to use.
  • Mini Mission ~ Thursday 21Dec2017 Declutter your fridge of out of date items or by using up as much as possible before adding more. With the holiday season here you will likely need every inch of spare space.
  • Mini Mission ~ Wednesday 20Dec2017 Declutter by recycling some items. That mound ofused takeout containers, old newspapers and magazines, paperwork that needs shredding, glass jars you set aside in case you have a use for […]
About Colleen Madsen

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


  1. Yeah! You did it. Good job!!

  2. Good for you for finishing it! I have been thinking about this subject the last few days and will probably write a post on it. It seems like we get so excited to do so many things, and sometimes try to start too many at once. It is good to just take things a step at a time and finish one thing before going on to the next. If you don’t like what you are doing enough to finish it, then pass it on to someone who will appreciate it and do it and move on to the next thing. Finishing things lifts such a burden!

  3. Thanks you two! And thanks to Colleen for telling my story. 🙂

    Spendwisemom, I have been guilty in the past of starting several projects or buying the pieces to a project and then not finishing. I don’t do that anymore. When I look at something and think how great it “could” be with a little work, I keep in mind two items in my attic that are waiting for greatness to arrive! These two things I’m not ready to give up on just yet and they are not really hurting anything where they are. At least I’m not buying more projects!

  4. Nice job, Michelle! I really like those!

  5. Michelle, I love these bookends. The stain really makes it special. You know this is an original.
    I am really the worst at finishing a project and I admire you for sticking to it until you completed it. I was looking aroung my house last night at the projects that are almost done, 1/4 done and barely started. I love dreaming up projects but getting to the conclusion is really hard. I just move on the next one. In my living room there is a nearly done cross-stitch project. Two rows to stitch and then to block and frame it. It was to be a gift for my sister last Christmas. Perhaps for her birthday in June. Then, there is another huge cross-stitch project that I bought thinking it would be easy. It’s easy but very time-consuming because of the different colors every 9 stitches. This one is about 1/4 done. Then, there is the latchhook rug I am making for my husband – 1/3 done. Love this but again, it takes about an hour to do one horizontal row. I never seem to have 60 minutes together at one time. So, stitch by stitch. And finally, the quilts for my husband – 1/2 done and my granddaughter – 3/4 done. And the curtains that need to be hemmed. And the multiple quilt blocks that need to be sewn together to make something. You get the picture. Anyway, my sister tells me that she is just picking up one thing at a time and working on it until it is done and not thinking about all the others waiting in the wings. Michelle, now seeing that’s what you did with your bookends, I think this will work for me. Take the one nearest completion and start there. I’ll let you know how it goes. I don’t want to get rid of any of these because I do want to finish them. Just need to get moving again. I do think I like designing and planning more than the execution of the plans. 🙂 This fits into my decluttering because once they are complete, they will be given as gifts and out of my house, except for the ones for my husband, of course.

  6. Thanks Jo H.! Maggie, several sentences into your post, I started grinning. That’s totally me. I finally donated some half-completed cross-stitch projects. Ones I felt I just could NOT finish. This decluttering process really makes me analyze projects. Is this something I can realistically complete in a reasonable time? Is this a project that’s over my head? Is this something that I’m going to have to buy special tools to do? What really bothered me about the bookends was how much trash I created with brushes and paper towels. But I used environmentally friendly stripper and I turned in the used mineral spirits to our local haz/mat recycling place. 🙂

    Good luck to you in completing your projects, as well! We’re here to support you!

  7. You did it. Good for you.

  8. Congratulations on aspiration to done!

    You should be very proud of yourself!

  9. They look awesome and I know that you are happy to have it completed. Great job! Since starting this decluttering journey, I let go of a lot of cross stitch kits and kept only a couple that I really wanted. As well, much of my scrapbooking has gone out the door and I kept a small supply to embellish cards and photos. Definitely, there are a few things that I am not ready to give up on just yet either and that is what I kept, but not near as much as I had before. No matter how big or small the task, now you get to enjoy the feeling of a well accomplished and finished task, plus they are useful. What a nice photo, now I can put a photo with your name :).

  10. Gotta share this. Mom decluttered a bunch of clothes, a bunch of plastic containers, two tablecloths, some placemats, several big packages of pretty paper plates, and some other little things. WooHoo!!!! Now to get her to go through the jewelry again.

    • WOW WOW & WOW good for you. Now the two of you get on a plane to Perth and help me. hahaha I seem to be finding more and more. Also looking at other things I have let slide and now I am starting to count the minutes, hours, days till they are no longer here 😉

      Well done both of you. 🙂 🙂 🙂

      • Dizzy, if I could I would be on the plane and over there. It would be fun to just come to Australia and see all of you who live there. I’d grab Colleen and we would take a tour.

        • Better buy a lottery ticker Deb J. I’m up for it if you get here.

          • Don’t buy them. I’d rather just figure out how much it would cost and pray it in. Hum! I’m thinking I’m getting serious about this. I need to do some checking.

          • Erm excuse me ladies It’s coffee at my place before any tour. First tour my garage, then we hit the Valley for lunch then it’s back to my garage, then hit the valley for dinner, then back to my garage, then we meet everyone and de-clutter our way across Australia hahaha wouldn’t that be a hoot!!!!

            First things first MY GARAGE AGAIN!!!!!! heehee titter titter 🙂 🙂 🙂

          • Dizzy, you are too funny. I take it we should plan a day at each stop to help declutter.

    • Your mother fails to surprise me these days. She has become a pocket dynamo when it comes to decluttering. I now think it is the norm for her. However YAY!!!!

    • Deb J, I find your mom to be an inspiration. It is never too late to change old habits. That is great!

    • Woooo Hoooo! Fantastic! You are doing such a wonderful thing, helping your Mom. Much admiration from over here to you!

  11. Well done Michelle,
    It’s always nice to complete something. May I ask how many books will the ends be holding?? I only ask because I had a similar project last year that I kept putting off. When I finished it all (Keepsake type box) I ended up giving it away because I had de-cluttered the stuff it was going to hold hahaha. 🙂 🙂 🙂

    • Dizzy – now that is funny, but I understand what you are saying. Just one one each side to hold as many books as I need. 🙂

      • Hey Michelle , good for you! Books are a bit of a bane for me so are my scrapbook goodies and as much as I am paring down I still find more. I still haven’t been able to decide on a reading techno thingy yet. I have changed the way I craft but I still craft so it is still around. Striving for the happy medium between having the stuff and using it, as having it all out of the house. Everything else within the house is on board, and where it should be and pared down to what I know I’ll use but still I find others!! Ho hum 🙂 🙂 🙂

  12. Hi all,

    My 4s & 9s seem to be working!!!! So far this week I have de-cluttered
    49 blue pens What the!!! I kept 5 to use up
    24 red pens What The!!!! I kept 2 to use up
    15 black pens What The!!! I kept 2 to use up
    OK I CAN HEAR YOU ALL SCREAMING “WHO HAS 97 ASSORTED PENS” Well most of them were left overs from school left all over the house !!! Also I managed to empty every drawer, bag, purse, basket, school pack, brief case, car glovebox, etc etc and all I found was 97 pens and $17.45c. (will save the money to replace pens when my re-purposed 9 run out!!) found other stuff too and returned it to right place, home, shelf or bin!!
    19 excercise books, kept 2 to be used at dance Mums do not believe the school booklist!! Buy 1 per subject and that is it!!
    4 large D Ring files (same as above) only used 2 all year was asked to buy 1 for each subject!!!
    12 text books – will be donated to school to be used up.

    4 wine glasses (survived my smashing Christmas but not needed – too snall hahaha)
    19 files of various paperwork that has since been shredded – files will stay in the filing cabinet for when I get rid of it.
    29 pcs of clothing – mine (season swap around and crappy t’s) donated & trashed (obviously my Project 33 needs to be revisited)
    34 pcs of clothing – walking Karri – Tree – grown out of – donated
    19 pcs of clothing – hubby – lost enough weight to have clothes hanging all wrong – donated
    4 prs assorted shoes – totally trashed between us!!

    So far so good, considering I feel I am pretty well up with it, OBVIOUSLY I AM NOT!!! I will continue to re-visit many areas. With still having many things packed in boxes, I have decided to go back through all of them as well. We have been renting now since September and I feel I could pass on a lot more seeing as I haven’t needed any of it since we sold our house and packed it all up. One thing I am proud of though (if I may call it such) I didn’t hang on to total rubbish. It was all good things that were useful and in service. With my son finishing out at school I was able to pack a lot of stuff up to move on. His text books and winter uniforms etc will be donated as soon as the uniform shop opens for the winter trade. That will definitely free up a lot of space. YAY!!!

    I am starting to wonder if it is multiplying in the boxes cos I don’t remember packing most of it hahaha. OMG will it ever end. Next on the radar the Garage AGAIN!! I like to keep bashing that drum!! My bookshelves , hubby and son have finally finished reading what they had tagged so I’ll be doing that chestnut AGAIN and the DVD”S that I failed with last time are AGAIN back on the list. Oh and candle holders!!! Definitely multiplied whilst in the packing boxes ( 🙁 🙁 🙁 :p ) 🙂 🙂 🙂
    Dare I say it “WHAT THE!!!!”

    • Wow Dizzy! Sounds like you a good time and got a good haul to get rid of. Good for you.

    • Dizzy you should open your own store and just leave some merchandise in boxes. It will then multiply and you will never have to buy new stock for the store ever again and everything you sell will be pure profit. But on a serious note, I understand the pen thing and the school supply thing. Like you I am pretty sure I didn’t buy most of the pens, they just multiplied. I started ignoring the school supply list after about the second year that we lived in America. I discovered the same thing as you, it was a generic list but when the kids started their teachers had other ideas about what they wanted their students to have. After that I sent mine to school with a ring binder with paper and pens and just waited for them to be told what they actually needed. I still ended up with a lot left over when they finished school but I think that was because it was so much cheaper to buy in bulk and they just never got through what I thought they would. Most just ring binder paper.

      • Dizzy! That is simply stunning and so dang impressive! You are an inspiration, girl!

      • Colleen, you may be right, I keep finding more that I can easily get rid of because the first thing that crosses my mind is why????? I really thought I had everything sorted before we moved, obviously not. My hubby did say that maybe my blinkers were on and that I just packed it to get out of the house. It’s a poor excuse but I’ll use it for now heehee!!

        Not for long though because the more I look the more I find. Thankfully everything else is ticking along and nothing builds up in the house. I’m so glad to have a big garage at the moment but I shall have everything done by the time the new house is built !!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂

  13. Just wanted to share with everyone…I went through my childhood collection of Breyer horses and decreased it by half. Now the remaining ones fit well on my shelves without being crowded…I may declutter more later, but I thought it was a good start. Now I’m just not sure what to do with the ones I’m not keeping. I can’t bring myself to just drop them off at Goodwill, I think they should go to another collector (some emotional attachment here)…any advice? Craig’s list? Ebay? Never really tried to sell anything before.

    • Hi Deanna. The market for things depends on so many factors. Often people hang onto things they think are of great monetary value only to find out they aren’t. A look at Ebay, Kijiji, Craig’s List, etc. will give you an idea if what you have is saleable and what it’s worth. That may help you decide whether you want to go to the trouble of selling them. Otherwise, my plan would be to think of someone who has admired them in the past and ask if they’re interested. Good luck. WB

  14. Dizzy,
    Count me in for the tour. I’ve always wanted to see Australia. When I was a young girl, there was a program to bring young, single women to Australia. I really wanted to be a part of that adventure, but ended up having open-heart surgery and couldn’t get well fast enough to make the trip. That was in the late 1960’s.
    So, I’ve still got this trip on my bucket list and so, wanted to let you know to save a place on the bus for me.
    Now, for my weekend activities. My sewing room is getting cleaned our slowly but surely. I cleaned out about 30 magazines and another bag of paper. Am mailing some books that I read last week, to a friend . As soon as I am done with 4-5, I ship them off. Then she passes them around in Kansas.
    Deb J, am picking up a few puzzles from my neighbor this week and will have a package on it way to you by next Monday.
    Finally, a few years ago, I purchased an antique jewelry chest – it stands about 20″ high and has doors and drawers. I thought it would fit on my dresser but way too big. It has been sitting on the floor in my bedroom for a long time. I like it but it has never really fit in. I have decided to put it in my sewing room and use if for scissors and other sewing things that never seem to have a place. I think this will be perfect there and if not, it will be donated. No room, it will have to go.

    • It sounds like we could get something started here Colleen. Maggie, Mom & I will look forward to the puzzles. I like your idea for the jewelry case. Hope it works in the sewing room.