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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

EDIT... spring cleaning's lazy sister

  When I was little, my mother used to spring clean.  I won't go into a long list of things she cleaned or how she did it, but suffice it to say curtains came down, rugs got rolled up, windows sparkled and out came the huge heavy floor buffer.  I am not my mother.  I learned a long time ago, the best I can hope for here at farm and fru fru is to fight dirt one day at a time and hope for the best.  It's a good day  if I can keep stuff from growing on the kitchen floor. Spring does make me antsy to "straighten" though...notice I did not say clean.  My s.i.l. and have discussed many times that if you keep things picked up and orderly, people tend to think your house is somewhat clean.  This is so true.  I am NO decorator, and what I know about style wouldn't fill a thimble, but what I do enjoy doing is what I call editing. 

We all have too much stuff....stuff we got 20 years ago as wedding presents, stuff we buy then don't like, stuff we do like, stuff other people give us they don't want, stuff children leave behind when they leave home, stuff we needed at one time but don't need anymore ...the list goes on and on.  If we had lots of time on our hands, we would probably all still be like my mother was all those years ago and rip the curtains down on the first sunny spring day, remove all the furniture out to the back yard and clean like crazy, but we do not have lots of time on our hands and the only way the furniture is going to the back yard is in case of fire, so for me, I spring edit. 

Editing is paring down.  It is donating one vegetable peeler because you have 6.  It is calling clear house on the coffee table.  It is coming to the realization that you can do without 16 pitchers on the shelf and picking your three favorites to display instead.  Here, I will stop again and say I AM NO EXPERT, but I do know when I go into a room, I am much more apt to love the space if I can actually see and enjoy the person's belongings.  When your cupboard is full to the brim with the 16 pitchers AND 4 dolls, 7 plates, a dried floral arrangement and a wreath, it tires me out to look at it.  It becomes a jumble, a whole.

Those of us who have been around a while have more than likely amassed quite a collection of....well, stuff.  So how do you decide what to keep and what to throw out?  Volumes have been written about the subject...whole TV shows are dedicated to organization, and I love them all.  But for me it all comes down to two things...Does the piece in question serve a purpose and/or do I love it.  If the answer to either question is no, then it should probably go. Notice I said it should .  We all know that is not always possible, but just keeping the questions in mind can be life changing.

Another suggestion when editing a closet, room, shelf etc. is to ask someone over to help;  Or ask them to come for a muffin them bulldog them into helping.   An unbiased eye can help you see aunt tilly's gold and magenta urn in a whole new light.  It might look awful in your earth-tone family room, but just right in your friend's spa bath.  Don't be afraid to share your belongings or swap with friends. 

One of the things I find most difficult in editing a room is to get rid of something someone you love gave you.  This is touchy.  It's so easy to attach your feelings for the loved one onto the now unloved item and think, "oh I just can't give away the cupie doll with the clock in it because grandpa gave it to me.."  and feel so guilty the cupie doll remains taking up valuable real estate you could use for something you actually need and would use.  This is when your unbiased friend will look at you and say "what are you thinking?"    Someone told me once that you don't have to keep everything someone ever gave you.  Sit with that a minute.  Chances are grandpa gave you something other than the cupie doll.  Maybe not, and if you are truly attached to the cupie doll, keep it.  But if the one and only reason you are keeping it is because someone gave it to you, then you are doing yourself a disservice.  Donate the cupie doll.  Give it to someone who LOVES the cupie doll. It deserves to belong to someone who loves it. 

I know this all sounds very harsh, and I am the first to say I have MOST of my children's macaroni school projects and drawings.  I do.  But if you can "edit" just one cupboard this spring; just one junk drawer, you will love the result.  You can start your spring off on a somewhat "cleaner" foot and the things you do continue to display or use will be that much more enjoyable to you because they won't be surrounded and crowded out by a jumble of things you really don't like that well, and therefore will come to the forefront and can be fully appreciated.

I read somewhere that the key to loving how you live is in knowing what you truly love.  You can't be happy in a room full of somebody else's memories; a room cluttered with stuff that meant something 20 years ago, but is not relevant to your life today.  I encourage you to edit something today...your kitchen counter top, your sideboard, your junk drawer...just choose....but do it.   You may not buff the floors, but editing will be a great start to the spring.    ps...don't forget to sign up for the giveaway!

photo credit  country living magazine


  1. When I was young, my big sister had the much larger room. Mother would clean and clean her room, and by the time she got around to my much smaller room, there wasn't much left to do. I guess when you were raised in such a large room space, you have a tendencey to collect things, and this is something that stays with you throughout your life.
    The curse of being spoiled as a child....

  2. my brother has always been of a jealous nature...being the youngest it was He who was spoiled and suffered room envy....

  3. Well said! You made me remember one of my own favorite quotes:

    “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful” -- William Morris

    Now if I can just stick to that as I keep doing my own spring editing!

    P.S. Found your blog via a comment you left on Betz White's blog.

    ReplyDelete happy to hear from you.........