recap of my clutter-busting summer!

Happy Friday, friends!

This summer — inspired by the Clutter-Busting Challenge hosted this past May by Crystal at Money-Saving Mom, and the amazing Victoria at Snail-Paced Transformations who is continuing to give away, get rid of, or sell 3 things from her home every week this year — I have been on a mission.

My goal: get things out of my house that I no longer need or use, and get them into the hands of people who do need or could use them.

It’s amazing how much STUFF we accumulate, right?? I am not even the biggest shopper, and still I am just floored by the amount of THINGS I manage to bring into my life and into my space. Books, clothes, magazines, papers, flyers, do-dads, mementos, knick-knacks … where do they even come from??

In regards to clutter, this summer has been a perfect storm of sorts. I moved back home into my childhood bedroom, which was still crammed with stuff from high school and from the year I lived at home after graduating college. Plus, I brought home boxes of new stuff I’d accumulated while living in Indiana.

I was determined to slowly sort through everything through the course of the summer and get rid of as much as possible before moving up the Bay Area to begin my Steinbeck Fellowship. Also, as longtime blog readers know, I really don’t like to waste things, not even uber-ribe bananas. So if an item was useful, I didn’t want to just throw it away — my goal was to repurpose or donate as many items as possible!

clutter busting

Three months later, I’m happy to report my room is much cleaner and less cluttered, and I’m feeling more energized as a result! Here is a list of all the things I got rid of this summer, including how I repurposed some items:

  • 3 boxes of books: donated to the local library and the Boys & Girls Club
  • approx. 40 back issues of various magazines: donated to local senior centers and hospitals {just make sure to tear off the address label and any other personal info before donating!}
  • 2 large bags of clothing, including my heavy winter coat and a bunch of scarves: donated to Goodwill
  • 3 lovely little girls dresses, still in great condition, from when I was a little girl: also donated to Goodwill
  • 4 pairs of shoes I never wear: donated to Goodwill
  • 2 large fleece Snuggies that were not being used: repurposed into two handmade no-sew baby blankets for two friends of mine who each welcomed beautiful babies into their families recently
  • 2 outgrown T-shirts: transformed into diy pillows
  • 10 small hotel shampoos and soaps: donated to a local homeless shelter
  • 1 no-longer-used cellphone: donated to a soldier through Cell Phones for Soldiers.
  • 3 large trash bags full of old papers no longer needed: recycled

WOO-HOO! It feels so wonderful to de-clutter! Not only did I physically get rid of a ton of items, I feel like the act of clearing and sorting and donating was emotionally cleansing as well.

mur sleepy

This task was an amazing reminder of what a difference you can make little by little, day by day … I never imagined at the beginning of the summer that I would be able to get rid of so much unnecessary stuff, but slowly and surely I did!

What goals have you been working on this summer? Any fellow clutter-busters out there? I’d love to hear your tips for STAYING de-cluttered — my next task! 🙂

some related posts you might enjoy:

cleaning out my closet clutter
tips for selling things on craigslist
year of kindness challenge: donating clothes
year of kindness challenge: donating books
year of kindness challenge: donating toiletries

clutter-busting challenge

clutter-busting-challenge1

Crystal at Money-Saving Mom is hosting a Clutter-Busting Challenge in which she is getting rid of {throwing away, selling or donating} at least 7 items for every single day of May. She is inspiring loads of others to do the same, including me! 

I already did a lot of clutter-busting last month when graduated from Purdue and moved from Indiana to California … the move was the fire-under-my-butt motivation to sort through my various papers, knick-knacks, books, clothes, kitchen supplies, etc. and decide what was worth taking with me. I ended up donating and selling everything except for the clothes, blankets, books, and important papers that fit within five suitcases and a few big shipping boxes. 

When I arrived home, I had another opportunity to clutter-bust: my bedroom at home {which my parents have been sweet enough to leave as-is during my time away… it hasn’t been converted to a home office, at least not yet!} There were books and papers and random STUFF that had accumulated during winter breaks and summers at home and that I hadn’t gone through in years. 

After a few days of sorting, I am proud to share with you the big pile of stuff that I am getting rid of! 

clutter busting

I took the clothes/shoes/purses to Goodwill and donated the books to my local library. Not only does it feel good to purge your life of unnecessary items, I also love imagining the person who will enjoy each item in its next life! 

Are any of you doing spring/early summer cleaning and organizing? I’d love to hear your success stories and tips!

You can follow along the entire Clutter-Busting series at Money-Saving Mom here: https://moneysavingmom.com/series/clutter-busting-challenge

review of “7: an experimental mutiny against excess” by jen hatmaker

You know when you hear a ton of good things about a book or a movie or TV show, and there’s a part of you that is hesitant to delve into that piece of entertainment or knowledge because you’re worried that it’s been built up too much, that it can never live up to your expectations now that so many people have raved about it to you?

Often, when I do end up caving and watching or reading whatever it is everyone is buzzing about, I do feel a little disappointed in the end — I guess my imagination and expectations are too easily raised to insurmountable heights! But there have been a few exceptions, when I have just been knocked off my feet by something that had already been built up so much. Off the top of my head, I can think of:

  • The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  • the musical Wicked {I saw it with my mom, who was similarly blown away}
  • Downton Abbey {Mike and I resisted this for a while but are now thoroughly on the Downton Abbey train! Still a little behind, making our way through Season 2 and trying to avoid spoilers on Facebook!}

And now I have a new thing to add to my list: Jen Hatmaker’s amazingly inspiring book 7: an experimental mutiny against excess.

7 by jen hatmaker

I bought this book because I kept seeing great things pop up about it on many of my favorite blogs. The idea behind the book really intrigued me; here is the synopsis from Jen’s website:

7 is the true story of how Jen (along with her husband and her children to varying degrees) took seven months, identified seven areas of excess, and made seven simple choices to fight back against the modern-day diseases of greed, materialism, and overindulgence.”

When sifting through my thoughts about this book, the first thing that struck me was that my experience reading this book is a little ironic, considering Jen’s message of taking your life back from the modern pressures of materialism and overindulgence. Because I gobbled up this book. I devoured the whole thing in less than two days. I just could not stop myself from reading “a little more, just a little more, one more chapter …” Talk about indulgence! 🙂

There were a number of things that made reading this book so addictive. First, I loved Jen’s voice. Much in the same way I felt like reading The Happiness Project was an extended conversation with author Gretchen Rubin over coffee, reading 7: an experimental mutiny against excess felt like I was sitting with Jen Hatmaker at her kitchen table, listening to stories from her life. She opens her home and her life to readers, and her voice is so warm and inviting. I read part of this book on a plane trip, and I had to bite my lip multiple times so as not to laugh out loud. She is hilarious!

I think one of my reservations about reading this book was that I would feel “preached at,” but this is not one of those books. The book is written in a diary format, so reading it feels like you are there with Jen in the trenches as she attempts to make these huge changes in her life. She chronicles her failures and setbacks in addition to her successes and high points — by the end of the book {or, to be more honest, by the end of chapter 2 or 3!} I felt like Jen was one of my good friends. Or perhaps my own personal cheerleader, encouraging me to take the leap and implement some of these ideas into my own life.

The book proceeds chronologically over the course of a year in Jen’s life, with each chapter devoted to a month of the project. {She took off a couple weeks between months to recharge and regroup.} Here is the breakdown of how Jen organized her 7 project:

  • month 1: Food
  • month 2: Clothes
  • month 3: Possessions
  • month 4: Media
  • month 5: Waste
  • month 6: Spending
  • month 7: Stress

I think for me, the most eye-opening and inspiring chapters were those devoted to waste/the environment, possessions and stress. After reading this book, I feel so blessed to have so much, yet also the pressing need to unburden myself from extra possessions — I want to give more to others, to use what I have for good. I feel even more committed to my year of kindness challenge and inspired to do even more! And I have plans in the works to create a more efficient and thorough household recycling system — I try to recycle what I can, but I think I can do better. I will keep you posted!

Well, this review is getting quite long, so I guess I should wrap it up … as you can probably tell, I highly recommend this book. It surpassed even my built-up expectations, moved me, made me think, and warmed my heart. Perhaps above all else, it made me feel hopeful and inspired to do my small part to make a difference and make the world a better, brighter place. Jen Hatmaker is a testament that we all can take charge of our lives, mutiny successfully against excess, and live a more simplified, healthier and happier existence!

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if you enjoyed this post, you might also like:
review of The Happiness Project
review of Thirteen Reasons Why
review of The Secret Keeper

year of kindness challenge: week 2

Happy Monday, everyone! Hope your week is off to a marvelous start!

year of kindness button

How did last week go for you? Did you join me in the #yearofkindness challenge? I was surprised at how much FUN I had combing through my closets for items to donate! Never imagined I could enjoy cleaning/organizing so much. I’ve donated clothing in the past, but something about looking through my closet *specifically* for items to give to others made the endeavor feel different — waaaaay more rewarding. Maybe also because in the past I would purge items from my closet solely in order to make room for new items. Not this time! Simpler is better for this girl. Less clothing means I can better appreciate the items I do have!

I ended up packing up a small box of four bras in great condition to ship off to Free the Girls, a fantastic organization I featured in a post last summer.

bras to donate

I also brought a box of about a dozen clothing items — t-shirts, sweaters, pants, and a pair of shoes that never quite fit me right — to the local Goodwill.

donation box goodwill

It made me so happy to give these things away to others! An added bonus is that my closet feels neater and less cluttered.

And maybe it’s a coincidence, or maybe I’m just more attuned to kindness around me, but the karma was returning my way this past week! Just a couple examples:

  • I went to Starbucks on my way home one evening, about half an hour before they closed, and ordered a green tea {I’ve been battling a cold this week and am guzzling green tea like nobody’s business!} … I went to pay with a gift card I’d received for Christmas, but the barista just waved my card away, smiled, and gave me the tea for free! 
  • My super sweet friend Chidelia sent a box of delectable chocolate-covered strawberries. What a wonderful surprise to come home from school and find it waiting on the doorstep!

strawberries

  • My students are already participating in class, volunteering to read their writing when I ask for examples, and even laughed at my feeble attempts at humor, which is pretty much unheard of so early in the semester! {Normally it takes a few weeks to break down their shyness and get them “on my side.”}

I’m already jazzed up about this week! Okay, here’s the Week 2 Challenge: leave a stranger a nice note and quarters for the laundry machine. If you live in an apartment complex with a laundry facility {like I do} you can easily leave quarters and a note there. If not, go to a laundromat and leave a note and quarters on one or two of the machines there.

Take pictures and blog about your experience, or email me at dallaswoodburn <AT> gmail <DOT> com, and I’ll be delighted to link to and share your experiences in my post next week!

In joy & kindness,
Dallas

what I wore to see “the nutcracker”

Happy Monday, everyone! It is a marvelous Monday for me because I am back home soaking up time with my family! When I am with them, I just feel so joyful and comforted. I love my family!

Yesterday afternoon my mom, Mike and I went to see a local ballet production of “The Nutcracker.” It is a tradition for my mom and me to see it together every year, and it was really nice to have Mike come along this year!

me and mike

The weather in Ventura has been beautiful and sunny — a welcome relief from the cold weather in Indiana — so I decided to take advantage of this and wear a skirt, tights, a short-sleeved blouse and light sweater.

what I wore to nutcracker

{The artwork in the background of this picture is a self-portrait done by my talented brother! Isn’t it great?}

You can’t quite see my shoes in this picture, but they are the same ones I wore to Thanksgiving dinner.

The ballet was terrific as always. Such a talented group of dancers! They amaze me with their poise and grace. And I love the music! It really gets me into the holiday spirit.

Afterwards, we came home and I made healthy turkey enchiladas for dinner. My Gramps joined us, and it was so wonderful to see him!

me and gramps

Hope your week is off to a lovely start! What are some of your favorite Christmas traditions?

xoxo,
Dallas