Decluttering Photos


Boy in a Box

I have mixed feelings about photos. When I worked as a hospice nurse, I used the pictures that people displayed in their homes as conversation starters. It was a good way to learn more about the people I was caring for.

I enjoy looking at photos of my own family once in a while, but I don’t really like to see the same image, whether it be art or photo, day after day after day. It’s too static. I do like the digital photo frames that have a variety of pictures on a reoccurring loop. I may get my favorite photos on one of those someday.

Recently, my youngest son gave back to me all his childhood photos. He didn’t want to take them to college. I used the opportunity to go through them and discard poor quality pictures and duplicates. The stack of keepers was one-third the size of the stack of discards.

Photos are a kind of clutter that is hard to resist. There is a historical quality to them, and once lost, can not be replaced like a sofa or a corkscrew. That said, it was easy to discard photos that were blurry, or that recall sad or bitter memories.

Sometimes It Is a Big Thing


My family has been tolerating my minimalist counting game for years. They know that if they gift me an object that I will either make it one of the 100 things and add it to the count, or re-gift it. I just do not need/use that much stuff. So over the years, they have learned to give me consumable gifts like coffee and books. It makes me happy that they respect this little quirk of mine.

Imagine the increase in happiness experienced this week when my brother gifted me with 60,000 frequent flier miles in honor of my retirement. And several bottles of wine.

I’m over the moon.

Sometimes It’s the Little Things

Cleaning out the closet of my new room at mom’s house, I found some old clothes of my dad’s. (He died in 2002.) Pajamas, a paint shirt, khakis.


These clothes were probably 20 years old before dad died.

Some of the fabric was worn thin and some paint splattered. I cut the usable fabric in rectangles and hemmed the edges.


Frugal cleaning cloths.


  1. this keeps a portion of the fabric out of the landfill for a bit longer.
  2. these will be used instead of paper towels, keeping that waste out of landfill and maybe saving a tree.
  3. the entire time I was hemming the fabric, I was remembering dad.
  4. these fabric pieces are just the perfect size for holding, scrubbing, wiping. This makes them a better tool than just throwing the whole clothing item in the rag bag.
  5. there was no cash outlay for this project. I used thread I already had.

I’m holding onto the khakis for now. I may make a rug out of them.



Nice for a weekend, but not a decade.

At the end of this month, I am officially retired from nursing. I’m also moving into my mom’s house, to help her take care of it. The same house and mom that I ran away from at age 17. Thankfully, mom and I have both matured and we are looking forward to having this time together. We plan on taking Tai Chi and water aerobics classes. We will declutter her place a bit. We plan on reading a lot of library books and listening to music. Mom is hoping I will get excited about the TV series Dr. Who. Especially now that the new Dr. Who will be a woman.

I’m too young and healthy to completely retire, and do not have the disposition to take up golf. I will be devoting myself to writing: a novel, poetry, a You Tube show and of course this blog.

What this means for the blog: there will be many more posts on minimalism,  frugal problem solving and frugal fun. I plan to post weekly.

I am very excited about this chapter of my life and hope you will follow along.

Travel Sewing Kit

A couple times while traveling in Ireland, I longed for a needle and tread to mend some small thing before it became a bigger thing that couldn’t be fixed.


Like this unmendable tear in my daughter’s shorts.

When a few short days after I returned, my daughter split her shorts open, I harvested some of the fabric and string ties and buttons before throwing the rest away.


Materials for travel sewing kit

I used the tie material as bias tape, and formed an envelope shape.


All hand sewn


When my daughter saw it at this stage, she asked if I would make a pouch for her too.


I gave her the one with the button and reserved the one with the safety pin for myself.


I added the needles, thread, safety pins and buttons from my home sewing kit.

I will probably put some nail clippers in there when I travel. I think they are allowed now by the airlines.

Custom-made sewing kit for free.

Trip to Ireland


Cliffs of Moher

My son Patrick has been studying at Trinity College in Dublin for the past academic year. When he finished his studies, I went to Ireland and we toured the country together. Here are a few highlights of the trip.


Patrick in front of St. Patrick’s cathedral.

We spent the first five days in Dublin, with Patrick showing me his favorite places.


We consumed a lot of really good ale.


We went biking in Phoenix park….


…which has a herd of very human-tolerant deer. There are about 450 head that live in the park.

We enjoyed the shops.


Lucky Charms for sale in a shop that boasts it sells the “finest confections.”


We took a tour bus to the passage tomb at Newgrange, an awesome example of human engineering from approximately 4,000 years ago.


We hiked on a rocky beach.


We saw these birds resting on a small ledge on a cliff.

Then we rented a car and went exploring further afield. I was a little concerned about driving on the opposite side of the road that I am used to. We did not have any accidents, but I must say that I found the two lane roundabouts terrifying. Our first day out of Dublin, we drove to Derry and then next day went to see the Giant’s Causeway.


Basalt columns at the Giant’s Causeway.


Mansion on a hike we took.


We drove through some very wild and beautiful places.


Cliffs of Moher

The trip was a marvelous experience and I am so glad I had the opportunity to go. Let me share with you what I did to make it more affordable.

Plane tickets between Chicago and Dublin were running $1,200-$1,400 for non-stop flights. By booking with the Swedish airline and accepting a 16 hour layover in Stockholm, I got my round trip airfare for $605. Patrick can fly for free, as his step-mother is a flight attendant. Even accounting for the $120 hotel I stayed at near the airport, this was a bargain. Plus, it helped me reset my sleep schedule to European time and I had time to tour the old town of Stockholm.


View from Stockholm’s old town.

Other than that one night in a hotel, the rest of our lodging was through Air B&B, with the cost ranging from $39 to $100 per night. Lodging costs for the entire trip were $880, for nine nights total. One of the things I really loved about Air B&B was meeting each of our hosts. They were as varied as they were welcoming. From a gentleman about my age, born in rural Ireland to a Turkish marketing student to a youngish couple with school aged children who cooked us dinner and served homemade pineapple wine to the real estate entrepreneur that served us fresh, homemade scones to the farm wife who funds her own travels with her Air B&B income–each host was warm and interesting.

We spent about $1,000 on eating out, ale, a few souvenir gifts, and local transportation (trains, buses, bike rental.) The car rental was $400. The total cost of the trip was $2,900. We could have saved a bit of money by not eating out as much, buying food at grocery stores for picnics, etc., but I enjoyed trying the new dishes and familiar ones, with an Irish twist. It was a great trip!

Summer Wardrobe

I did my count earlier this summer, but did not do the individual photos of the wardrobe like I usually do. Several of you requested I post these, so here they are.


Sandals, boots, canvas lace ups and “yard work” shoes


white T, brown jeans


blue/black heather T, skinny jeans


Blue T, wide leg linen pants (with pockets!!!)


Another white T and cut-off brown jeans. You will note that these are a discreet above the knee length and not “Daisy Dukes.”


Grey T and olive-green linen wide-legged pants. Also with pockets.


Grey leggings and green sleeveless top.


Knit linen white/grey heather top and black jeans

I have four exercise outfits. I sleep in those before I wear them to the gym. That minimizes the number of clothes I need, and also reduces my outfit change by one per day.

Organizing Paper Records


Current file system

When we lived in the house, I had file drawer that was 55 cm deep. It was mostly full, and I went through it yearly to discard outdated stuff. When I moved, I was able to get rid of a lot of house related papers including my mortgage repayment instructions and the warranties for the house appliances. In the photo is the current file box, and an envelope for previous tax records.

Here is the system: each topic gets a hanging folder, and for many subjects that is all that is needed.  The automobile records don’t need any more organization. I toss in the maintenance receipts, the insurance coverage documents as they accumulate. During my yearly purge, I take out the outdated ones. Some topics need a bit more organization. The Money folder has three subdivisions (the manila colored folders): one for the credit card, one for the credit union accounts and one for retirement accounts.

The folder with my name has things like my birth certificate, my nursing license, my current item count. I used to have a folder for each of the kids with subdivisions of things like school, medical history, birth certificates and social security cards. As each child has turned twenty-one, I have given the contents of the folder to the young adult, who must then manage his or her own papers.

You may notice a folder titled Death. This folder holds my will, my Health Care Power of Attorney, my Do Not Resuscitate form, a brief set of instructions of what to do with my body and music I would like played at my memorial service. It also contains a letter to my children with money information, how to access the accounts. This letter I update each year, usually around New Year’s Day. Each of my children knows where this information is kept, so they can find it easily when I die.

Some of you will argue for a safe deposit box, or a fire-proof box to keep at home. If you desire these things, go right ahead. I have found I have no need for my marriage license or divorce degree, but they are available at the county courthouse, should I ever need a copy. I have been able to get new copies of documents like a Passport or a birth certificate, when they were destroyed by fire. I mostly hold onto papers that I might need to reference in the coming year or two.

The tax papers I save for seven years. When I file a new year, I destroy the oldest one.

I don’t think I will ever get rid of all papers–I like writing in a paper journal, I find balancing my checkbook easier with a paper statement of the account. But I do feel a bit lighter each time I recognize I no longer need something.

The State of Sheba

Sheba is dismantled and now in three basic components: a pile of metal scrap


the thing in front is the floor rolled up

the trailer base


Stripped to the bones

and a pile of rotten wood and plastic, fit only for the landfill


what a mess

I hope to get the piles out of my host’s garage within the month. The trailer and the metal can be recycled and I will get a dumpster for the trash.