The case for helping a friend ~ By Deb J

Deb J

Deb J

On September 26th I began helping my friend, S, declutter her home. Her first goal was to get everything out of the room she wanted to turn into her craft room. When we started the room was so full of bags and boxes and drawers of STUFF that you couldn’t get into the room and she had no idea what it contained. The first picture below shows the room after half of the mess had been cleaned out. The second picture is of the bed before it was uncovered. I didn’t even know there was a bed in there until we began to unload.

The Spare Room

The Spare Room

As we began to carry out the bags and boxes we uncovered 6000 books, 40 bags of scrapbook supplies bought over the last 4 years and never taken out of the bags, Christmas decorations she forgot she had, 125 items of clothing, 20 throw pillows, 3 bedspreads/quilts, 4 old lamps (2 broken), a puffed valance, 2 pair of drapes, 3 baskets, 2 wreaths, and hoards of other items too numerous to count and describe. There were 7 plastic, wheeled storage units and over 100 containers collected over time to use to store scrapbook supplies in. There were also about 10,000 photos and 15 years worth of memorabilia all in grocery bags. Not included in this room was all of the paper and other scrapbook items that filled her dining room.

The first thing we did was move everything but the bed and dresser out of the new craft room. All scrapbook/craft supplies and storage containers were taken out into the family room to be sorted and placed into storage. Everything else was divided up into the two guest rooms. All the books went into one and all the other items into the other. Gradually S is going through all of these items in the two guest rooms to get them prepared for taking to the Women’s Shelter thrift store or Goodwill.

A picture of the dining room before we cleaned it up and the family room with all of the containers.


It took many days of working on all of this to be able to get it to where it all looks good and is organized and decluttered. We have taken 300 items of clothing, 2000 books, and numerous decorative items to the shelter thrift store and Goodwill. She gave 54 boxes to a friend who was moving. We put 200 bags in the recycle bin along with 25 plastic containers. What containers she has kept are for her to possibly use as we continue to declutter and organize the house.

Here are pictures of the new craft room—1. Shelving unit with albums and tools, 2. Closet with storage units, (18 of the “drawers” contain stickers) 3. Memorabilia in plastic envelope bags, 4. Some of the photos in photo boxes by year.



I will tell you that we are not completely done. Once we have been able to declutter more of the house there will be things that will be moved out of the closet and a few things reorganized to make finding items easier. There will be 3 shelves built to reduce piling some items.

While it has been a challenge, we are both pleased with what we have accomplished. We will move on to other areas of the house after the first of the year.

Today’s Mini Mission

Declutter some items of clothing that no longer suit the climate you live in or just don’t fit anymore.

Today’s Declutter Item

There was a case of some natural progression decluttering that went on in my house this week. When I was about to take one of queen bed fitted sheets of the clothesline I discovered a big hole in it. Being as I already have one set too many I decided to use the damaged sheet as a weed mat in my garden and sent the remainder of the set to the thrift store. I could have keep these for spares but I had enough spares already.

1 Sheet & 2 Pillowcases

1 Sheet & 2 Pillowcases

Eco Tip for the Day

When cooking on your stove top match your saucepan size to your hob size. A small saucepan on a large hob will waste gas or electricity.

For a full list of my eco tips so far click here

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.
  • How little we really need Every time I go on a long vacation I am reminded of how little one really needs to live a comfortable and functional lifestyle. My husband and I often stay in Airbnb places when on […]
About Colleen Madsen

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


  1. Wow. Just wow. You are a brave woman, Deb, for facing that task and kudos to your friend as well: having that much stuff piled in there must have been miserably intimidating to think about getting rid of. Very impressive results already.

  2. Wowza! Deb you deserve a medal of honor! What an undertaking & what a fantastic result! You have been working so hard & it truly shows! I can only imagine how overwhelming that must have seemed at the get-go, yet you & your friend really made great strides. Nicely done! The photo’s sure go a long way to show the magnitude of this decluttering.

    So very interesting to me that a lot folks who have hoarding-like tendencies also tend to have lots of store bags with items they bought still in those bags. Or they keep those same shopping bags to store stuff that probably has no reasonable expectation of seeing the light of day ever again.

    My MIL had Dollar Store bags & Target bags everywhere in her house. So many of those bags still had what she bought in them along with the receipts. It was easy to see just how long ago she bought those items, which in some cases was years prior, yet she never bothered to use the items let alone take them out of the bag. Other shopping bags were slam full of a crazy mish-mash of broken items that should have gone into the trash or recycling along with brand new items. No rhyme & definitely no reason!

    • Jane, not only was it all intimidating for my friend but I think the way her house looks has helped cause some depression. You are right about the bags with goods and receipts still in them. One thing I am proud of S for doing is to stop the buying. That’s a MAJOR change.

  3. Hi Deb J,
    that is more than impressive! Now I can understand why S got depressed (or maybe just overly exhausted and needy for a break) after decluttering with your help for a while.
    I hope she knows, how great she did (300 items of clothing! 2000 books!! and more!!!)?! So many decisions she had to make, some of them surely complex, and all of that in such a short time, plus it must have been physically straining, too … A real marathon! But nobody needs to run a marathon every week (and nobody shouldn’t either!). If you allow me to stick with that metaphor: Some sensible, healthy, well planned training and a marathon once in a while to feel accomplished and proud of yourself and prove yourself that you can do it (if you need that kind of encouragement for yourself, some do, some don’t and happily jog every day anyway … ) and S (or better: her home) will be in great shape! She’s lucky to have you – but she also really needs to be proud of herself for that!

    • Ideealistin, I agree that all of that mess is part of the depression S is dealing with. She also decided to do this while recovering from breast cancer surgery and while having steroid treatment for sarcoidosis. She wanted to do it while she had energy from the steroids. False energy and recovering from surgery made it not the best time but she really wanted to get it done. So we did. Now she is paying for it. Thankfully she leaves today for 3 weeks back in her home staate with family. A good respite.

  4. Deb, What a great friend you are. What an undertaking but I know your friend is so happy to be on the journey to improvement. I know just looking at my room in such disarray makes me depressed. But, come January, once the presents are wrapped and the paper put away, I plan to do some deep diving to return my bedroom to it’s old glory. A clean, uncluttered space.
    I was looking for some Christmas cards to send my grandchildren yesterday and was sure I had some kid-appropriate ones. I did not but did find some old – and I mean OLD – cards – faded and tattered. They went into the trash and more to follow. I haven’t sent cards in about 5 years and just haven’t looked in this box. After Christmas, another sort and I know there will be lots to go into the trash or I will send them to St. Jude’s hospital for the kids to use to make new cards.
    Again, Deb, thanks for sharing your hard work with us. It’s a great motivator for me. Merry Christmas to one and all.

    • Maggie, glad you enjoyed reading it. Isn’t it interesting how we can think we have done a good job of getting things taken care of and then up pops something like those old cards? Yours was old cards and today I found some items in the shed that I had forgotten we still have. I have one of those 24-drawer containers that have all sorts of nails, screws, etc. I forgot that when we moved I put some little things in there so that we would have a place to keep them until we got here and saw whether we would need them. It’s only been 4-1/2 years. Grin.

  5. What an amazing transformation! I felt defeated just looking at the first photos. Having a clear goal/purpose for the finished space is an amazing task-master, but without the help of a dedicated friend such as yourself it would have been infinitely more challenging (if not impossible). Truly inspirational!

    • creative me, I think it would overwhelm anyone. The thing that made the difference, like you said, was having someone to help. I had a reason to get with it because I was helping my friend and it gave her someone to make it seem less overwhelming.

  6. Deb J – and the before photos were taken at the halfways mark? Wow, what a transformation.

    • I wish I had thought to take a picture before we started. You would have been amazed. Just imagine how full it would have to be for me to not know that there was a bed in it.

  7. That is tremendous! What hard work that has been done by both of you! She is lucky to have you there, encouraging and helping her through this task. Before my declutter mission started, I too had bags with items in them that had not been used or opened. In addition, I had purchased storage containers and such, but they had never been used for the purpose intended. It is easy to forget what you have and realizing the amount that I did have was enough to bother me. So I am thankful that she is not purchasing like before, that is half of the battle. With time, as the layers of clutter are dealt with, I hope that will do a lot to help your friend with her depression. Keep on keeping on, and don’t let her give up! Great work!

    • Jen, we will not give up. I know it will mean too much to her to get it all cleaned up. I wish she could get rid of more than she has planned to dump but I have to remember she isn’t me. But, I am SO proud of her that she has stopped buying.

      • Deb J – you have hit the nail on the head. Because we have the decluttering bug and gleefully hiff things out regularly, someone one new to the process isn’t ready for more than a layer or two at a time. I’m getting rid of things that I would never have believed I would get rid of, but it has only because of repeated culls and different perspectives put to me via 365 Less Things and to a degree, boredom of seeing the same items each time I go over the area!

        • Yes, Moni. Sometimes it is hard for us to remember that we have to give others time. Like you there are many things that I can get rid of now that I didn’t earlier.

  8. Hi Deb J, thank you for this wonderful post and I thank you also for being such a wonderful friend to S. I know that you have your own health issues to deal with and that all that work was also hard on you. What a wonderful person you are.

    I look forward to seeing photos of the end result, especially the dining and family rooms. When S is up for it of course.

    • Colleen, thanks. I am looking forward to having those pictures to show you. S left today for her trip. She told me that when she gets back and gets over her trip we will have to start again. We have added another friend who said she wants to help us. She thinks it will be fun. We will be glad for the help.

  9. Thank you Deb for sharing your story.

    Your generosity in helping your friend is remarkable.

  10. Thanks Mark. I guess I don’t see it as much as generosity as just that she is such a good friend and I want her to be happy so I will do what I can to help.

  11. Good job, Deb J and S! That is so impressive.

  12. Hi Deb J, thank you for showing us what exactly you have been doing with S.
    Depression and clutter are a bit like the hen and egg, which appeared first. Is depression and unhappiness caused by clutter? In my case the depression resulted in major clutter, simply getting stuff made me happy.
    I think we all know someone similar to S. They have stuff. They keep getting more stuff. They have more than they need. They are not clinically depressed but they are possibly one life crisis away from it.
    Oops, I am not saying everyone who has clutter is depressed. Please forgive me. I am not a qualified to make such claims. I just know for me that was the case.
    Thank you Colleen, Cindy and Deb J plus the rest of the 365 community, having your cyber support with the daily blog and comments helps keep me on track. Enjoy the break over the next few weeks . Don’t forget to come back next year!

    • Wendy F, you are right that we don’t know which came first. Having known S for almost 40 years, I’m not sure about it either. This much I will say though. Either one is sad and we need to do all we can to help. I’m so glad that 365 Less Things is helping you and many others.

    • Wendy F – I didn’t assume that you thought if we had clutter we were depressed or if we suffered depression we must have a clutter problem, understood what you meant! But it is true that it is often a symptom of depression and we can all vouch that decluttering lifts the spirits and a clutter-less (as in less not none) home is more enjoyable. I follow other blogs too but because 365 Less Things is daily, there is no time between posts to fall back into old habbits. If only there were other sites like this for other areas of my life that need a daily push along!

    • Hi Wendy F, being or getting decluttered is also no guarantee to stave off depression ~ trust me I know ~ but it sure can’t hurt. I have however met several people with real clutter issues that also come across as being stressed and anxious.

    • Though clutter and depression or other pathological conditions don’t need to be linked automatically, however I think it is safe to assume a couple of things:
      – Having a lot of clutter usually hints at some underlying issues from twisted or wrongly taught thinking patterns to unsolved questions of personal development and isn’t mere laziness.
      – Too much clutter causes stress and stress most likely causes other issues in the long run. Being constantly stressed out (even if you don’t notice) just isn’t healthy.
      – We live in very confusing societal patterns where on the one hand stuff is valued greatly, almost worshipped, but advertising and media bombard us with pictures of mainly clutterfree perfection (just like the fashion and beauty industry bombards us with images of people who obviously don’t eat (enough) while we are lured into food at every corner and are told to indulge).

  13. A small change of topic, but Adrian says that decluttering indirectly lead to him saving $700-$1000. A while back there was a mini challenge for outdoor furniture and I decided on a table-top patio heater that we’d used once approx six years ago. Because I was thinking about the patio heater I noticed a sign on the way home for a business that hires and repairs among other things patio heaters so I text the number and asked if he’d like a free one – of course the answer was yes. While he was picking it up he noticed the bbq had all the grills and plates pulled out and he mentioned to me that he services/repairs bbq’s too. I passed onto Adrian but he felt ours was too far gone and so we began looking around at new ones but nothing was “the one”. I don’t know how it rolls elsewhere, but here, a bbq is a bloke’s pride and joy and in general his ability to turn out a great bbq meal is a reflection on his manliness (NZ women have quietly encouraged this culture). After a week or so of looking, I asked Adrian again what was wrong with the old one and he told me that the burners had rusted up and the something-something-something had done something and the thermostat was broken and it was looking quite rusty. I suggested I give it a clean up as it was supposedly stainless steel and see if we could possibly get replacement parts instead. Once again I got the number of the service guy, but still Adrian felt that it was beyond repair. So I got out the sugar soap and gave it a big scrub starting with the hood and he dug out the rusted out parts and to his surprise the rusted out part beneath the burners wasn’t the bottom of the structural base he assumed it was, it was a casing. A quick call to the service guy and he had replacement burners and a replacement thermostat and the casing. Next Adrian has ordered replacement handles for the doors and drawers on the cabinet that houses the gas cycliner etc – BTW the non-stainless steel handles were the cause of the rust that a good scrub with jif got the rust off – and just like that, we have a new looking bbq and Adrian is very happy – lots of roasts and yummy bbq meals planned for the holidays. And for a fraction of the cost of a new bbq.

    • What a great thing to have happen. So many times we give up on something and it could be fixed for a lot less than buying a new one. I have to remember this. It’s so easy to just chuck something because we think it is easier to buy a new one. This shows how wrong that can be. Good for you.

      • Deb J – I think it was Colleen’s influence that kept me persisting with it with her re-purposing and re-cycling suggestions. Adrian very happy because he liked his bbq, I’m very happy because all the hot cooking gets done outside and by the blokes! I want to try Beer Can BBQ Chicken this summer. Apparently I need to buy a stand for the chicken with a hole for the can of beer – only $6 but the 365’er in me is rebelling at the idea of bringing something new into the house.

    • Ha ha Moni, I loved the “…something, something, something had done something…” I guess either the technical jargon was lost on you or you just didn’t care. 😉 That being said how clever of you to persist and end up with a like-new BBQ and saved heaps of dollars.

      • Yep – I’m not the poster girl for “girl power” when it comes to anything mechanical, engineering or electronic, I just phase right out, and he persists in trying to educate me – why I don’t know. I was telling him my friend had bought a new car and he asked me what kind and all I could tell him was “Red”.

        • If our brains were stuffed with all that knowledge, too, nobody would find the butter anymore (“It’s in the butter dish in the little compartment of the fridge door designated for butter, honey.”) Probably there wasn’t butter anyway because nobody would think of buying it …

          I admire women being more tech savvy than me or who can repair cars because it feels more emancipated not to leave the guy stuff to the guys – but the truth is that I am just not interested in these things, that I have other talents and that a day only has 24 hours …

          • I think I missed my calling on this mechanical chick thing. The best job I ever had was fitting windscreens with my dad. I should have tweaked then that I was meant to do “men’s work” but instead I followed on with the clerical work that also went with that job. Silly me, I could be servicing my own car and saving myself a fortune if I had paid more attention to what my talents really were. Drat that Catholic girls school upbringing.

          • Colleen, I know what you mean. I was raised by a father who worked for Ford and did all his own work on his car. He taught me a lot but when it came job time I went for the female type stuff because that was what you did back then. I finally got smart and went into computers but that was only because physically it was too late to work on machinery.

    • Moni, I about giggled out a rib laughing! My husband is a bbq fanatic. We have no less than 4 different bbq/grilling thingys. The husband is big on bbq cook-off’s & enters a few local competitions on a regular basis. If he had it his way, he’s do nothing else but build guitars, cook bbq, brew beer & be Jimmy Buffett.

      • Jane – its like a man-cave that produces food. When we have friends over all the guys gather around it – maybe its a throw back to the caves “me-man-me-make-fire”.

        • Moni, you are so right! The men folk gather ’round the open flame whilst holding fermented alcohol & one up each other with tales of bravery on the battlefield…err, no they just talk about lawn equipment.

          • Jane – around here it is fishing tales (pardon the pun) and how the biggest fish they’ve ever seen got away.

        • Moni, what a hoot, “me-man-me-make -fire.” I love that. It’s so true too. They all just gather around and watch. It’s hilarious.

  14. Wonderful work, Deb and S!

    I had to smile at the bed that revealed itself after some of the clutter departed. I’m on a marathon task of clearing out our garage and after one big effort near a particular area I found a chest of drawers I didn’t know we had! There wasn’t anything in the drawers and I’ve never seen it before – my husband must have got it from somewhere. I had no idea it was there and still have no idea how long it has been there.

    • Haha, nothing better than discovering something empty, isn’t it? In my earlier days of decluttering (aka days of mainly shuffling stuff around …) I sometimes found boxes that were only half full or (crazy, I know) boxes that contained other boxes …

    • Jenny, I love this. It’s sort of like the attic story where it had gotten so full the owners forgot that they had several pieces of antique furniture. They were in dire financial straights and ready to lose their house. they went up to the attic to start cleaning it out and found all this furniture that gave the money they had needed for a couple of years. They not only saved their house but put some in savings.

  15. Natalie (@NatalieInCA)

    I am speechless. What a great friend you are Deb J! When you were talking about your friend S and how you were helping her in the comment section of previous posts, I had never imagine the extend of this journey! The transformation is truly amazing and best of all, she changed her shopping habits. Kudos!

    • Thanks, Natalie. We still have a long way to go because this isn’t the only room we need to overhaul plus the garage. The great thing is that she is now more motivated to go after the rest and like you said she has stopped bringing it in.

  16. Very inspirational Deb J! Congratulations to your friend for having succeed at such a big task she set herself and to you for being an excellent friend and for having been there beside her through this process. I can understand more and more why we hold on to stuff. And why we buy more and more stuff. Buying is fun. Getting out of the shops or of a mall full of bags is really very pleasing. But dealing with stuff when you get home is not that easy. It is very good to see these successful stories here. It gets me doing stuff. I have to say that I agree with a comment here that lots of stuff leads to depression. It is overwhelming. I don’t have as much stuff as S did, and it still seems like too much for me at times. And sometimes, even though I read the blog almost everyday now, I have my moment of indecision, my moment of “should I really declutter this?” and my moment The Lord of the Rings, (as I have mentioned before) “my stuff, my own, mine” (I confess this are the creepiest moment… 😀 😀 😀 😀 ) But I am getting through thanks to this blog. Thank you Deb J for a wonderful post!

    • Andreia – I think we all have “my precious” moments.

      • You know Moni, every time I start having a “my precious” moment, I think about Gollum and how that made him look like at the end. I confess it does discourage me to hold on like that to anything at all. I mean who would want to be a lunatic like Gollum? 😀 😀 😀

        • If you can understand why we hold on to stuff and understand why we want to acquire more and more I would like to hear about it Andréia. I wrestle with this subject in my mind often, especially now that I have very little of such desire anymore. I do however remember the days that I did and I wonder, what was I thinking?

          I wonder…
          1… are we just brainwashed into thinking we are more with more? Or
          2…did we feel deprived when we could not afford more so once we become more affluent we just madly acquire? Or
          3…do we do this just for the feel good high we get from it even though when that wears off soon after we just want more? And
          4…why do we feel so good when we acquire things anyway? To the point that people go into foolish debt doing just that. And
          5…why is it that we put the desire to acquire pretty, shiny, “useful” new stuff ahead of the comfort of knowing we can live with less stress not struggling to pay the bills because we didn’t reserve the cash for necessities?

          Gollum may have been a lunatic but at least the object of his desire would give him incredible powers. People however are just insane.

          • Wow – what a great visual analogy w/Gollum.

          • Colleen – I think it is all of the above and/or a combination of this list. This would make a very interesting discussion piece one day and I have been thinking about it off and on since I read it earlier today.

            It would be nice to blame it all on the marketing strategies of the retailers but its the people taking the bait.

            I am thinking, could it also be a case of people not putting boundaries on how much stuff they acquire? I mean, it never occured to me prior to starting decluttering that you could/should put limits on how much stuff you have. I never actively thought about what would be the magic number of towells I should own, or how many or how few pots I required. If I had of been questioned, I would have thought that the maximum number for the money I had available to spend, would have been the ideal number. I would have called it future-proofing or optimising, rather than challenging myself to reduce or minimise.

            I think there are probably more reasons out there and it would be really interesting to hear more theories.

            • Hi Moni, you are right it would make an interesting discussion. You make some more good points. I really didn’t think much about it either. In fact I prided myself on being fairly frugal for the most part. How wrong I was on many levels.

              • Isn’t it interesting how our perspectives change about what frugal means as we get further along in our decluttering? I still have a ways to go.

          • Really interesting topic here.
            When I look at my grandmothers though, I see that they have learnt some of these “magical” numbers – like: “A tea set for six (for singles or couples) or twelve (for families), two small pots and one large, two frying pans, two sets of linen for each bed” etc. I think all these “numbers” have been from a time when brides were sent to their first own home with a set trousseau and people thought about what was necessary for a “fully equipped home”. As that became obsolete, the numbers must have vanished as well.
            Just think of those “weekday knickers” – how they seem ridiculous nowadays, yet how well they cover one’s needs: 7 pairs of knickers is enough, if you wash once a week. Even though my grannies have a hard time parting with unnecessary presents, they stick to their needs and have a very good idea of what they need when shopping for themselves. That’s probably the reason why they always give me the most wanted and needed sensible presents for birthday and Christmas – new socks, tights, pajamas, shoes, tea – not the “creative”, “funny” – and mostly utterly useless – presents younger people tend to give…

          • This is good Colleen. Maybe we need to explore this further after the holidays.

          • Moni, I agree with the boundaries idea. Sanna, i think you are right about the starting out setup. One thing I think does it now is that we think we have to have everything Mom and Dad have when we start out instead of realizing that they works years to have it. Also, I think about the Bridal Registry idea. It turns into an “I Want” session when couples go to sign up and they get carried away. Unfortunately, many times people get them the indulgences instead of the essentials.

          • Hi Colleen. About your questions, I was remembering a time when I did not have credit cards. I used to wander into a mall and feel sorry for myself because I could not buy this or that piece of clothing. I could not buy the ongoing fashion shoes. I had gained a lot of weight and my clothes did not fit me anymore. I had no clothes to go out. Even my jeans looked awful. I felt like crap. It wasn’t buying or not It was not being able to afford what I wanted. A couple of years later I already knew this blog and had my credit cards, but was still learning to shop. So, at times I did buy more than I needed, actually way more than I needed and it was not good for me or my finances. This year, shopping has been a nice experience. I have not bought clothes for a while. I had plenty of nice things to wear. However I have I few pieces that are going away because they are stained, too worn, or were pieces given that I did not like. I gave careful consideration to things people were going to give me for I could choose it. They are good pices, few and match a lot of things I already own. I am not a psychologist/psychiatrist but buying makes you feel powerful. It was like Steve said about the books and you say about stuff in general: we buy to show others we “are”, “have”, “can”. That’s why people have to buy designer clothes. Does it really matter at what store you bought your clothes? Isn’t the fit, quality and other things more important than a brand? I don’t care about brand, but I know about people that care and care a lot. However the person who cared, was fooled into using a good piece of clothing that had no brand, but just came in a box of so and so brand…So why the need of a brand?
            I have done Christmas shopping, asked and I am giving things that were needed by whom I am gifting and by me. Sure, I have small kids and there will be way more toys than needed, but you can rest assured there will be a lot less tha last year. We enjoy exchanging gifts and I will have to buy what I asked anyway, so I can make gift exchanging a useful thing 😀 .
            Behold girls because by Tuesday I shall tell all of you what my husband got from my relative as a gift. Will it be useful? Will I be mad? Will it be trashed? Don’t miss next weeks episode… 😀 😀 😀
            And Colleen: The ring never gave Gollum any powers, it consumed him. He just had his life extended by the ring and in return the ring made him commit murder, search for dark places and isolate himself.

      • Oh Moni,
        first you have “habbits” today, then you throw Gollum in … Is that some secret NZ-campaign to make us all rush out watch “The Hobbit”? 😉

        • Ideealistin – LOL – Andreia started it! But I am looking forward to seeing the movie. Back when the first and second movie came out, our school held a fundraiser evening and borrowed movie memorabilia and collectible items for the LOTR movies. Adrian’s cousin is an avid collector of such items so we borrowed some swords and a half size very real looking figurine (?) of Gollum. Later on Adrian loaded him into his vehicle (with a seatbelt on Gollum) but for some reason we swapped vehicles and as I drove the road I glanced in the rear view mirror and got one hell of a fright because a very real looking Gollum was staring at me. I nearly ran off the road, took me a couple of second to click that it was the statue.

    • Thanks Andreia. I think that the big help to stop the buying and cluttering is to figure out why. Like Colleen asks, why do we do what we do? I”m just glad we have this daily blog to help us ask those questions and to give us ideas for how to change.

  17. How lucky to have a friend like you!!! I paid a company to come in for 3 days to do what you very kindly did for your friend.
    A toast to decluttering!!!

    • Jill, being able to pay someone to come in and do it for you is a big help. I wish my friend could afford to do that when we get to the garage. Oh, my! What a mess it is.

  18. Deb J – What a difference – we have a couple of rooms that were similar to these but we are slowly working through them, so I am fully aware of how much work you and your friend put in on this. Amazing!

  19. …by the way, Deb, aren’t you a cute little moppet!
    36 + lbs less little moppet no doubt!

    • Jane, I like the moppet title. It’s actually 40# now and holding. If I can just maintain during the holidays I will be happy. Then it’s back to losing more I hope.

  20. WOW! What a transformation! Congratulations to you for helping your friend and to your friend for having the courage to ask.

    This topic makes me pick at a scab on a very old wound. I grew up in a house so jam-packed with my mother’s physical “memories” and holiday items that I could not have friends over. I also see far too many women believing that they are the “Custodians of Memories” and “Makers of Memories” and they get sucked into buying all sorts of holiday decorations to “make memories,” and then get sucked into the expensive hobby of “scrapbooking” to further EMBELLISH those memories, as though the photos and other memory items cannot stand on their own.

    Some people may not like what I am going to say, but all you NEED are photo albums, plain scrapbooks with acid free paper, simple labels, and acid-free mounting tape to save your photos and memory items. You do not need to fill an album with childhood soccer-team photos and then further embellish this with soccer-themed stamps and stickers. An observer can tell that the subject of the photos is soccer simply by looking at the photos.

    Far too many households are crammed with holiday decor for every imaginable holiday, and supplies for embellishing scrapbooks. Purchase one, simple, solid-color scrapbook or photo album at a time, fill them, then purchase another as needed. Devoting an entire room in a house, large sums of money and many, many hours of your life into embellishing old memories — instead of creating new experiences — fills your life only with stuff. Just stuff. Not memories. Even if they are well-organized, scrapbook and embellishment supplies are just “stuff.”

    My photo albums consist of plastic sleeves with simple labels to identify dates, events and people, but some of my best life memories have no photo documentation whatsoever. Those memories are no less brilliant for lack of documentation — much less for lack of decoration.

    A clutter free home and time spent with your family is far more important than time spent decorating soccer photos with soccer-themed stickers. I’m sorry if this sounds “spartan” to some people, but it’s true.

    Consider simply placing photos, paper awards, childhood artwork, concert ticket stubs and similar items in a plain scrapbook with a short note to document what it is. It will free up so much of your life to have MORE memorable experiences. Acid-free paper and binders with plain plastic sleeves make saving those items quick and easy, and you don’t need a whole room (think of the mortgage!) to store these simple supplies. A small box or a drawer will hold a couple of fresh scrapbooks and photo albums, tape, scissors, markers and labels. Refresh these simple supplies as needed.

    • Regardless that the most I do with my photos is put them in a box, I remember that in my teenage days, I wanted to “save memorabilia” – like tickets to the movies and other little bits and pieces of paper that I aquired on my first travels and nights/days out. Or other scraps from magazines etc. that I just liked very much for the colours or motive. I just glued them in a little notebook that also served as my diary. I never bought anything to embellish, I just used my scraps to embellish. And I didn’t have a stack of them, as I glued them in as they came along. When the trend of “scrapbooking” and later even “smashbooking” came up, I thought that downright crazy. Isn’t the sense of a “smashbook” to just put everything in as it comes along? Just as I did as a teen? What’s the use in buying premade “embellishments”? It’s just a black hole for money in my opinion.

      That said, I do like paper craft and I do make cards etc. myself, but my supplies for that are limited – I use my own folding and cutting skills and glue on selfmade origami, silhouettes etc.
      I just really never got the whole pre-made-embellishment hype in the last decade or so.

    • Dez, I tend to agree with you. I am a Creative Memories scrapbooker and I collected a lot of stickers and stuff that mostly went to kids and schools to use when I realized I just wanted to get the photos in books. I have gone overboard with the books — but they are a family history of sorts and quite a collection of photos — I am known in my scrapbooking group (a bunch of friends so it’s very social for me) as the one who goes through albums and pages like crazy — not so much the embellishments. I enjoy using the embellishments at times (and I get applause from the group when I do). I now am moving towards digital albums that get printed and bound and I’ve severely reduced my supplies to two bags — maybe one more album of my husband’s old photos (unless I scan them all) and then those will mostly go away (I’m letting go a bit at a time, as I sometimes use the supplies in other craft projects).

      I get the women who scrapbook as a hobby and for whom the embellishment is an artistic outlet. But you have to recognize if you are that person and will actually do it or if you just like owning all the pretty stuff: rather like collecting notebooks, pens and books on writing doesn’t make you a writer, and collecting books on decluttering and organization doesn’t make you organized!

      Deb J, if your friend decides she really is not likely to use some of the stuff — teachers, particularly in the younger grades, would dearly love to make use of it.

      • Sassy, you have some good things to say here. They now have these pages that have room for 4 photos at 4X6 and then 4 journaling cards. I have begun using these with no embellishments. They are a better than regular albums because you can integrate with with other types of pages if you want, work in ring binders, and are archival. I’m loving them. I decided to print them because having them in a digital file means another person can’t leaf through them nor is it easy to have an explanation for the picture that they can read.

    • Dez C, I totally understand your take on just a simple keeping of photos. I got caught in that craze of scrapbooking but was never so caught up with it that I took photos of everything that happened in my life. Even then I went overboard but have stopped that craziness and I now only keep simple albums with pictures and explanations. All that wasted paper. For some though, it seems to be a way for them to remember life with their kids (or for their kids). I don’t know but what I would have liked to have had some scrapbooks or albums of when I was growing up so I would now be able to see some of the things we did and the people we knew. My father seems to be more in the mood to take pictures of scenery and that only as I got older. We have very few pictures of my growing up years.

    • Dez, I never got into scrapbooking despite the constant peer-pressure from my co-workers & friends that were into it. To be honest, I just don’t like sitting around looking at photo’s in general let alone photo’s surrounded by soccer ball stickers.

      • Jane – when I first saw scrapbooking I thought it looked really cool, but I knew that way lay madenss for me, that I’d get addicted and end up with tonnes of stuff.

    • Totally agree! I started scrapbooking on a whim, and really enjoyed it for several years. It was a good creative outlet and I did keep it simple-ish. Unfortunately, it’s not just the supplies that take up space, but the albums as well! I’m taking on board my sister’s suggestion, and just going to print up a photo book each year. I barely look at my scrapbooked photos because the albums are so cumbersome.

      I don’t take as many photos these days, anyway. When my son ran in his first school athletics carnival a few months ago I decided to watch him with my eyes, not a camera lens. I didn’t even take a single photo on Christmas day, because I was busy enjoying it with my kids.

  21. Wow, Deb J!
    That is HUGE progress!
    Thankfully, I never had to clean out a room quite as bad, that would really be an intimidating thought.

    • Sanna, imagine having an entire house that looks like that! There are only 2 rooms in the house that aren’t disasters. It is a very intimidating, overwhelming place to visit.

  22. OMG! What an outrageous job! You are a wonderfull person to help your friend Deb J! I’m also interested at the after photos, maybe S cound do a scrapbook about the decluttering? Or just a collage that se could hang somewhere to remind her how things were and how far she got?!

    On a side note: I’m doing last weeks minimissions this week and I found out yesturday that I have 12 pairs of scissors In an 65 square meter appartment (ok 2 pairs in the shed).
    So I decided that i would declutter some. I managed one pair that was not of a good make. All other scissors are of the same brand (fiskars) to which I also have a sharpening device and I can not get myself to get rid of these scissors.
    Sorry to bother you lot with this, just had to share my gollum moment……….
    I’ve got so far but still have a long way to go…… It’s a long perilous journey to mordor.

    (Liking the LOTR analogy, which is why Tolkien wrote LOTR, by the way!)

    • Haha!
      I think, in my 65square meter apartment there might be about 12 pairs of scissors as well. I should do a round-up. It’s definitely too many though.
      (need: 3 pairs: kitchen scissors, sewing scissors, crafting scissors)

    • Oh, Fiskars scissors, that would bog me down, too. Great quality but not really possible to recoup some money: Those are the hard things for me, too. It’s easier to let go if someone around you needs one and would appreciate it. So maybe if at some occasion you notice family or a friend not having good scissors you could be generous an offer one of yours. Thus I could let go of some underutilised real tupperware (off to my sister) and other kitchenware (to a friend). Sure I did not get anything for it but at least these items are used now (I know, I know, giving items to the thrift store most likely puts them back into use, too, but somehow if there is “hidden value” I sometimes really feel compelled to find the right home because I fear otherwise it might just get trashed …)

      And, Hunter XS, now you inspired me to look out for too many scissors, too. I should gather them all and see which ones work the best and give away the others. I’m a bit scared, how many I will find … I’ll give you an update 😉

      • I found 13 (if you count the nail one and the tiny one for thread, too). So 12 maybe isn’t too embarrassing? Or we are all just scissor hoarders …
        Two will go immediately (well, into the donation or “free” pile. As they are starting a pile right now, I’ll have to see, what it becomes). I’ve always known they were not good, but new and shiny – not a reason to stay in the house if I think about it clearly. Those cheapos simply shouldn’t have been bought in the first place. Oh, well …
        The rest: to the test! Maybe I’m lucky and another one or two prove to be bad?!
        Thanks for the inspiration 😉

    • Yes, I do plan to take really good after photos. And S does plan to scrapbook it all. She was mentioning this a few days ago.

      I understand the scissors thing. I hate to get rid of good scissors because they last so long and are so good. But I am even that way about not so good scissors. So I have made a pact with myself that I will get rid of all of the poor ones and use the good ones and not buy any more. Now if I can just stick to it. Grin.

  23. 6,000 books? Wow! I’ll bet it was fun to watch the transformation of this room. I don’t know if I read it here or another blog but I love the “blank page” method of cleaning out a room. My office is due for it. The best method for me is to remove EVERYTHING from the room and only place back the things I want to keep. I should take a before pic and post it on my blog … it keeps me accountable for doing what I say I’m going to do. Haha! I love your blog … keep up the good work … you are changing people’s lives!

    • Suddenlysusan, I think my friend probably has another 6,000 or more she still hasn’t gone through and wants to keep some of. I’ve been there so I understand in a way. I love the blank page method too if you can do it. In this case we had to. There was nothing in there that didn’t need to come out so we could even figure out where to start. Her husbands office and the garage will have to be done that way too.

  24. Great post and I love the pictures. I think pictures make all the difference sometimes!

  25. Bless you for helping your friend! I so wish I had someone to help me. My friends/neighbors have messy cluttered unfinished houses like mine and I have suggested perhaps once a month work parties at each of our homes. Make a list of things to get done and in three hours or whatever, all of us work on that list. But no bites. No one is willing to help me tackle my disaster here and it is just frustrating and demoralizing. I get so easily distracted an “oh I can use this or that”. Nonsense! So, I am renewing my goal for 2013 to have this house decluttered. My first goal is to have it look noticeably different for when my brother returns in three weeks. Wish me luck!

    • Hi Christine,
      I certainly do wish you luck. The best advice I can give you is start with the easy stuff. Stuff you know you don’t want and just need to get out of the house. As you start to see your progress you will most likely become keener to get rid of more. Even the things you weren’t ready to be rid of in a previous stage will become easier to let go of.
      Please drop back in to let us know how you are going. And if you need advice please feel free to contact me anytime using my contact page. Why not follow some of the Monday mini mission to help you find things to declutter. Good luck again.

    • Hello Christine

      Good luck with your journey. I do wish you luck in finding some face to face support, but if I can help from a distance, online, then drop me an email.

    • I’m sorry no one wants to help you there in your area. BUT, you have all of us here who will support you and do all we can. So don’t give up and when you find yourself starting to dither about something get on here and read some of the old blog posts or ask us to give you a “hang in there. You can do it.” boost.

  26. Christine, Don’t know where you are. I am in Virginia, USA. I am new to this site (about 5 months) and am not new to decluttering but love the 365LESS format. One a day is about all I can do most days. I think you will find, as I have, lots of support from the readers and writers of this website. Even though we are all around the world, we are fighting the same battle as you. What to do with the clutter and how to get rid of it. Please stop in anytime and we will be here for you.