Transient Stuff

Much of what comes into my home these days is transient. Aside from groceries much of what does come in is free, secondhand, or both. And I have to say it makes it a whole lot easier to pass things on when large sums of money aren’t exchanged to acquire it.  

This week I have decluttered…

  • 2 books – one free, one 10c, both secondhand and both not used in a reasonable length of time so both were taken to the thrift shop.
  • 3 strips of fabric samples – all free from a friend, but after careful consideration I decided I didn’t have a use for them. One went to the thrift shop to sell as a craft supply. Two went to a fellow Renew Newcastle creative to be used in one of her millinery creations.
  • 1 item of clothing – Given to me by a friend, was unused within a reasonable period of time so also was donated to the thrift shop.
  • A variety of craft supplies – All either cheap, secondhand or free and all used to make cards to sell at my art space.

I have a rule these days for the stuff that I bring into my house. It is either used within a reasonable length of time or it goes back out the way it came in. I have neither time nor space for anything that isn’t of use to me. That doesn’t stop me from accepting stuff, it just means that it isn’t allowed to linger if unused.

I have to say it feels good not to be attached to stuff that way that I once was.

Today’s Mini Mission

Declutter something that you’ve been keeping but really belongs in the trash.

“If we do not feel grateful for what we already have, what makes us think we’d be happy with more?” — Unknown

Eco Tip for the Day

Don’t leave tasks linger for so long that you have to redo them such as drying the washing or folding it. This can cause you to have to waste more electricity rewashing and ironing. Need I also mention your wasted time and wear and tear on your appliances.

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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About Colleen Madsen

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


  1. I’m the same way, most of my belongings were gifts or 2nd hand with not much exception. It’s wonderfully liberating giving myself permission to let any items be transient! A fairly recent revelation for me. The more recent the acquisition, the easier it is to let it go for me.

    Still too many things from my past in this house. These are things I can whittle away at as I get the courage to let go. As well as too many “useful” items that I really don’t like (like the big basket of charging cables and too many gadgets that serve infrequently but necessary tasks)

    • Hi creativeme, I too still have lots of items in my home from the past. Craft supplies fall under that heading but as a whole they are being used and whittled away slowly but surely. And I have to admit that that process would be a lot quicker too if I stopping bringing them in. However variety seems to be the spice of life when it comes to craft supplies so I can live with my choice there. Perhaps though it is time I challenged myself to a non acquisition period when it comes to these supplies so I can really notice a difference in the reduction process. Just thinking about this idea gives me a warm feeling inside so I think I will activate that thought. Starting from today I will begin a three month period of not acquiring any paper (not including white or black cardstock) or embellishments (ribbon, string, fabric, buttons, glitter, lace…). There I’ve said it, now lets hope I can stick to it.

  2. Good job Colleen. We are actually getting better along this line. Mom has decided that if something comes in something else goes out. That’s BIG.

  3. I have somewhat of a large transient item still. It a large porcelain doll, the size of a toddler, that my mother in law made. We paid for the class for her to make it as a gift 20 years ago because she loves dolls. She had several not very special dolls in her house that she liked to display. This one was by far the nicest, and largest. It takes up an entire large bin to move it. About 7 years ago my mother in law got a bee in her bonnet that she need to dole out all of her belongings because she believed her number was up. It wasn’t. She gave us the doll 7 years ago and it has been in a closet since. We have cats and kids at home at the time. It does not suit our décor at all (we do modern contemporary mostly) and I am definitely not into porcelain dolls. It is very fragile and large. I’m supposed to keep it to pass on to one of ours, but our daughter has no interest in it at all. It looks nothing like her. I think she even sees it as a bit offensive (she was adopted and the doll was meant to look like a child I might have). My mother in law gave another similar porcelain smaller doll to her other granddaughter who lives local to them. If I were to give this one to that granddaughter too she would know immediately and most likely be very offended. I have been toying with the idea of donating it to maybe a local child cancer patient. Somebody who would think it was special and like it. I’m just not sure if it is worth getting rid of and incurring the certain wrath of my mother in law if she finds out. 🙁 I can understand, she made it. But it is sooo big, delicate and so useless to me. Maybe it is worth keeping just to keep the peace? What about when my mother in law does pass on, will I feel too guilty to get rid of it then? Probably. This doll is more like a monkey on my back!

    • Oh Claire, I do NOT envy your situation!!!! It does not sound like your mother in law is very understanding. I definitely would NOT feel guilty about getting rid of the doll if she passes on.
      Would she be gracious at all if you explained to her that you have discussed the doll with your daughter and she doesn’t want it, and that you’d like to return it to her so she can choose how to pass it on to someone she’d like to have it??????

      It is so unfair when other people put pressure on us in this manner! Obligation clutter!!! Yuk!
      We don’t need that when we are trying to get rid of our own clutter.

      Wish I had some great solution for you, but I don’t!

    • Hi Claire I agree with everything Brenda has said here. Your mother-in-law ought to be more understanding than that. And no one should insist on others keeping stuff they don’t want in their homes. It is a shame you accepted it in the first place.

      Making the suggestion to return it to your MIL sounds like a good task for your husband to undertake as it is his mother. Perhaps she will be more forgiving to him.

      • 🙂 In the future I aspire to be the most understanding mother in law – as I have learned many lessons of “what not to do”! Quite the typical mother in law – daughter in law thing we have going!
        I don’t remember being asked if we wanted the doll. She brought it with her on a visit, Canada to the US. Not an easy thing to return as we never drive there anymore and I can’t imagine flying with it! I would probably need to buy it a seat!
        They’ve had various health issues in the past 7 years and visits are becoming rare. It has been two years since the last…. Our next move will probably be in a year. I might let it haunt me until then and have a plan to maybe donate it. Or maybe I will get it to my sister in law if she wants it (they still visit the US by car) and ask her to keep it hidden, until it doesn’t need to be hidden… I’m brainstorming still….

        • When the time comes (MIL passes or you move “out of reach”)… If no one else in the family wants the doll, look up doll clubs… It might be a “collectible” to someone in a doll club, and therefore loved – no guilt for you! 🙂

          • I never knew there were doll clubs! Great idea, thanks for that Peggy!

          • And Claire, if you move while your MIL is still around declutter the doll and if she ever comes to visit and enquires about it just tell her it got broken in the move. A little white lie is appropriate in situations of desperation.

    • Claire – I was adopted and know that we are sensitive to unintended reminders that we aren’t of DNA. How often do you see your MIL? And how often has your MIL seen the doll in the house?

      • Hi Moni! How neat! That is another confirmation for me not to display the doll, not that I had any doubt. I have actually never displayed the doll in our house since she brought it to us. We had a cat and dog back then and I think it was just understood that wasn’t a great idea to have out. I don’t even really want to ask my daughter if she wants it because I’m 99.9% certain that she doesn’t. It just seems like a reminder that she doesn’t need. We only used to see my parents in law at our place about once a year. Since we have moved they have not been to our new place. It is possible they will not. I am just a little afraid of her asking about it. After writing this I came to think that maybe I can ask my sister in law if she wants it and if she does just to keep it tucked away until my mother in law passes. 🙁 Sounds like a morbid request but if she wants it I know she will understand. It has helped me to write it out here to think about some options. I also am still considering donating it to a little girl in need say maybe through a medical organization.??
        It is kind of weird, I think at least, my mother in law has given back to me just about every expensive and meaningful gift I have given her. Framed baby pictures of her son, given back to me; china pieces, given back to me; doll….It has been kind of strange really. I know she assumes that if I gave it to her I like it and she wants me to have it back for the long term. But really I gave her everything because I thought it was what she likes. I know she thinks this doll should go to grandchildren though. I’ll be looking for an opportunity to pass it along now.

        • Oh that is good news Claire. Since your MIL hasn’t been since you moved the last time then you can declutter the doll now and use the “broken in the move” white lie if she does even come to visit again.

          • Lol, this doll is determined to give me a guilty conscience! Ha! I’m no good at white lies! I’d actually probably allow the doll to have a little accident so I’d be able to be believable if I had to say it broke. I already used “the cat broke it” for a china piece she regifted me. The cat did break it – but it was reparable with superglue, I just didn’t repair it. I also loathe the thought of being talked about for being careless in the future. I know I shouldn’t care so much, I’m working on it!

          • Hi Claire, at least you are aware of what the real problem is in this situation…
            “I know I shouldn’t care so much, I’m working on it!”
            As for the doll having an “unfortunate accident”, I have a story to impart. My parent had a clock, a very plain clock, that always had to have its time adjusted because it ran fast. Some twenty years, give or take a few, into their marriage we were moving house and someone said ~ “Why don’t you get rid of that clock, it never keeps time properly?”. My mother refused saying it was a wedding gift. A friend was helping us move house and was carrying the box that had the clock perched on the top. Half way up the stairs going into the new house the clock fell from the box and smashed on the steps. My mother casually said ~ “Well that is the end of that, it never kept time properly anyway.”. Clearly she didn’t want the clock but felt obligated to keep it. I often wonder whether she perched it precariously on top of the box for a reason.
            And the moral of this story is. Next time you move if there is anything fragile that you dislike but keep out of obligation, don’t take too much care about how you pack it.

          • Hi Colleen,
            Isn’t that the truth?! Once the “thing” is gone it is almost a relief to the person who was holding onto it so tightly. I will remember that clock story and pack accordingly on our next move! Brilliant! 🙂
            This doll very nearly met its demise this afternoon. I had an “I tripped and dropped it on the concrete floor” story all worked out, which is what would have happened….then I remembered, my MIL is not a maker/crafter/builder. This doll and the other doll are the only two things that I know of that she has made with her hands. Layers of issues here! I’m just going to try to pass it on in November and if no one wants it, donate it. I must be the only one with such a vexing doll!

        • Here’s my two cents, for what it’s worth. This item is causing you far more psychological grief that it is worth and perhaps you are worrying more than necessary. I would
          1) tell your daughter you are getting rid of the doll and she has first dibs — that way you are not assuming what she wants and won’t hurt her feelings if she does for some reason want it. You never know.
          2) contact the other granddaughter and ask if she wants it. She might have had a great hankering to own it and will be upset if you give it away. If she says No Thanks you are good to go.
          3). If you give the doll to any family member, be upfront with MIL and let her know you had no room for it and wanted it to stay in the family because it is an heirloom. This is what she would expect you to to do eventually, you are just doing it sooner.
          4). If no family member wants it, give it away as you like and IF MIL ever asks tell her what you did couched in positive and flattering terms (gave it to child in need, she loved it. Gave it to doll museum so it could be appreciated…..)

          By the way, I am struggling with a similar scenario and trying to decide how to dispose of a set of old china which was given to me by my uncle. No family to pass it to and it isn’t really an heirloom. Can’t give it back, no family to pass it to, I have just sold the china cabinet because it won’t fit into the new house. He’s of the opinion that it is of great $$ value (he’s wrong) and also the type to be very offended if he found out I got rid of it. He’s far away and his memory is such that he may no longer even remember he had it, let alone gave it to me. I once told him I’d use the plates for skeet shooting. I just might…

          • Hi WendyB!
            You’re very correct – this doll has caused me way more psychological grief than it is worth! I’m going to leave it shelved in the closet until November. We have a family reunion then and it will be the earliest that I can get it back to family. I’ll check ahead of time with sister in law and schlep it with me if she wants it. If not, I’ll donate it somewhere.
            Just remembering – this doll had several outfits and pairs of shoes! MIL thought she needed different outfits for different seasons……I’ve already donated all but one of those.

          • Oh, and about the china…….I’ve had that too. I’ve gotten rid of extras by whittling down to the bare bones. Maybe not the most efficient way but it has given me time to see if anyone is going to be asking about it. You could give away all or most of the serving pieces and keep just two or four place settings until you know your uncle has forgotten about them. I realized from my wedding china that we never used the teacups, saucers and small plates, so I donated just those. From another set, we never used the teapot, coffee pot, bowls, teacups and saucers. So I donated those. An elderly neighbor of my husbands grandmother (phew) gave us two different sets of teacups and saucers – after about 18 years I finally donated all of those. It is all so terrible to move. Everything needs to be wrapped individually and it takes up so much space. Definitely don’t move china you don’t like!

    • Ohhhhh…did you ever consider that she might not have wanted the class to begin with? I think you said she had only made a couple of things in her life? Is that correct? anyway, you’ve gotten some really good advice from others on this blog. Good luck!

      • Deanna – I wondered for a moment and then I remembered that she bought herself a second class after the first one and made the second doll. She really had a thing for dolls back then!

    • Claire,

      Your post made me laugh out loud. I know you have a serious problem, but you always write the funniest things. I can’t possibly type what I want to say about your MIL (you would probably laugh, but others would not).

      You are a wonderful person to care so much about this doll and your MIL. My advice to you is to just get rid of it. Donate it to a needy child, like you posted. If your MIL comes to visit one day and asks where it is, just tell her the truth. Don’t be held hostage by a doll or your MIL.

      • Aw thank you Melanie!
        I am trying to have a sense of humor about it – otherwise it just plain ticks me off! My MIL and I have had so many typical MIL/DIL issues over the years that I am trying to avoid the avoidable ones. We have enough issues without issues over dolls! Lol. My sister in law has the other doll (and a bio daughter that this doll looks like). If she wants it I will haul it 2,000 miles to a family reunion for her. That is my first choice right now. If not, I will donate it. Either way it will be out of my storage closet this year! I feel good about that plan now. I just worked it out in my head because of this post – thanks Colleen and all!!!

        • Hi Claire, there is nothing like your good friends here at 365 to make you pissed of enough with a difficult piece of clutter to inspire you to decide it has got to go. It is our pleasure. lol!

  4. I loved this post, Colleen. It feels so good to just allow things to pass through! I have never really been a shopper, just a “junker”! As, Creativeme said above, the more recent the acquisition, the easier to let go. Just today, I mailed off 2 books that i had gotten at a thrift store, and read and enjoyed, to 2 different people. However, it has been harder to let go of things I have had for years and enjoyed. I’m now to the stage of letting go, and it is getting easier all the time. Everything that goes makes me feel lighter. I’m having a yard sale this weekend and I’m hoping to offload even more!!

    • Hi Brenda, I am more of a junker myself so I know where you are coming from. However that only makes it easier to acquire and build up if you allow it. Been there done that. As you say though – “It feels so good to just allow things to pass through!”. Others might think that that is no big deal but it really is. Even though the habit of easy come easy go is prevalent in Western Society these days we all have certain categories of things that we find harder to part with than others. Mine is crafting materials and little bits and pieces that “might come in useful one day”. Especially if they are cheap or free but might save me money some time in the future. Being able to recognise these items as clutter and allow them to pass through my life instead of linger is a beautiful thing as far as I am concerned.

  5. My one weakness is tops from our local op shop! I have been buying a few recently because I have been losing weight and my older clothes look shabby and baggy. However I always pass on the same number, or more, back to the op shop, so my wardrobe stays the same. This way I update my look, extremely cheaply, and completely satisfy any craving for something “new”. I also often find brand new unworn clothes!!

    I gave away a wonderful favourite blouse which was flattering, comfortable and still like new, simply because I realised I never wore it. My style has changed over the years. If I buy something which I later realise was a mistake, I have no qualms about donating it back. I reckon it cost me a few dollars to ” rent” it, as opposed to a new item which can be very expensive.

    • I like to do the same Janetta. If only the thrift shop I volunteer at hadn’t stopped stocking clothes. Now I have to go out of my way to look for secondhand clothes. Needless to say my selection of tops is getting quite small as I don’t often find myself going out to other secondhand stores.

  6. So I have been moving along for quite some time, decluttering. Unfortunately, I have started to bring in some new clothing, accessories and cosmetics to replace items that were donated or tossed. I think I am just one of those people who likes to have choices and now that I am approaching 69, I find I am not ready to look the “old lady” part. I have done fairly well with decor items and bring very little of those items back….but I can just go so long with the personal stuff. Do I appear to be hopeless?

    One good thing is that I repeatedly do the 1 in, 1 out rule, for the most part. One more thing, I seem to have some regrets for recently donated clothing. I was trying everything on and being very critical (perfectionistic) about fit. I let go of some tops that I think I should not have. Oh well!

    • Hi Anna, no you don’t “appear to be hopeless”. You just got carried away decluttering stuff for the sake of it instead of decluttering for you. There is nothing wrong with having choices in certain areas if that is what suits you. I have a tonne of craft supplies and make no apology for that as I craft all the time. Although, even that is something I am reducing.
      That being said, I would be more concerned about being wasteful if I were you. One in one out is all well and good but whether it is environmentally friendly when done on a regular basic is the question.

  7. Colleen,
    Thanks for taking the time to reply. The idea of being wasteful will give me something to reflect on. I guess I can justify acquiring more of what I don’t really need if I’m not careful. Another way to fool myself!

  8. Hi, Colleen. We don’t have many items coming in, apart from groceries. We borrow books, magazines and DVDs from the library. I do have books that I love (and which are keepers) in a bookcase. I think it’s great that you set time limits for stuff to leave … the fewer chances for unused stuff to get up to mischief, the better. 🙂