Thursday, April 10, 2008

Things I Can't Throw Away

SheetsAll this talk of home organization and you'd think I was pretty amazing with the boxes and bins but you know I have those things I just can't bear to throw away. Normally if I don't use something within six months it's history but there are a few dark corners of the house where things are stashed--JUST in case. You never know . . . because if the world ends tomorrow and there's famine throughout the land I'm gonna need those Taco Bell sauce packets.

1. Old sheets and towels. We got a set of each for our wedding and I believe if you were to search my linen closet you'd still find them there, nicely folded and waiting for the call to serve. I've replaced the sets several times in the last 15 years but I can't get rid of the old sets--once in a while I'll rip one up for cleaning rags or something but most of the time I just think: "If the kids' get sick in the middle of the night then those extra sheets and old towels are going to come in handy." I haven't had a kid get sick like that in years--years--but I'm still holding on.

2. Dried and silk flowers. Over the years I've used silk flowers for different arrangements but even when I toss the arrangement I find myself picking the flowers out and saving them for another day. Because I'm going to need two dozen faded orange gerbera daisies someday. It'll happen.

3. Scraps of yarn. When I finish a knitting project there's always leftover yarn but I can't throw it away--that's just blasphemy. It's perfectly good yarn and even though each tiny ball remnant is a different color, weight and material I just know I'm going to come across the perfect project to use all those scraps in someday, I can FEEL it.

4. Seashells. Whenever we go on vacation I pick up seashells which was fine for the first dozen trips but we're starting to get an abundance of shells stashed in various corners of the house. It's unfortunate that each is so unique and beautiful because they're starting to pile up and I can't bear to get rid of even one of them--maybe I should get creative and turn them into a funky bathroom decor by cementing them into tile grout along the walls? I've even got them out in the garden among the plants.

5. Plastic flower pots. Speaking of plants, when I buy my seedlings in the spring they come in these nice little plastic pots and I save them in a large stack organized from smallest to biggest and every time I add more to the stack I think, "I'll going to use those when I start my own seeds" then I try not to think too much about establishing a firm date for that goal. So far it's not happening but if it ever does you know I'm prepared. I could open up my own nursery by now--if I don't use the stack soon it's going to fall over and really hurt someone.

McCann's Irish Steel Cut Oats6. McCann's Irish oatmeal cans. I'm a happy oatmeal lover but I don't just love any old oatmeal (Instant? Yuck!) I'm rather specific--I like McCann's Irish steel cut oats which are oats that have been coarsely chopped rather than heated and rolled like the Quaker variety. They're much tastier because you get a nutty chewiness rather than the soggy mush that oatmeal is famous for and as an added bonus for your purchase the oats come in an attractive tin can shaped like a paint can but with the lovely vintage-style lettering. For years I've thought I ought to come up with something fun to do with them but so far no luck. I guess my creative side really isn't into oatmeal as much as my practical side is.

6. Textbooks. If I pay $70 for a book on Edmund Spenser it eats at me over the years and I have a hard time throwing it out. You pay so much for textbooks and your life is tied up in them for a whole semester that to just abandon them seems inhumane. I have quite a few of my them too because I swear my professors had a plot going to make me buy as many textbooks as possible then to change the curriculum so that I couldn't sell any of them back at the end of the semester. It was a conspiracy I tell you. So I hold onto them and plan on brushing up on my post-modern literary criticism sometime in the near future. Because everyone needs a little more Derida in their lives--maybe I can pick up chapters in between episodes of the Simpsons . . .

7. Pens. Not much to say here except that I can't ever throw one out. You can always use more pens, you can never have enough. Especially the way they disappear around here.

8. Eyeshadow. I like Clinique cosmetics but I have the habit of using my lipstick so long I've got to stick a Q-tip down the shaft to scrape out the last remnants of color. Why? Because if I can wait until spring and fall Clinique will have their free gift--woohoo! Free! So I make it last until I can go and stock up and get a bunch of make-up that I wouldn't be caught dead wearing. You know, blushes with names like "Mocha Pink Flamingo" and eyeliners called "Cinnamon Chocolate Latte Licker" but it doesn't matter because it's free. If you open my make-up drawer you'll find all sorts of stuff that I've saved since 1988--but you know I was right about that blue eyeshadow thing coming back so I hold onto everything.

9. Grandpa's hat. A year ago I wrote about how I won a pair of leather gloves at the family Christmas party. They weren't just any gloves they were a pair of gloves made by the Ojibwa Indians for my grandfather while he lived on the reservation. I had them framed and they're really lovely but because I was so happy to get them Grandma thought I should get the hat to match.

So I became owner of a suede cowboy hat that was given to my grandfather at the same time as the leather gloves. Great--only problem is what to do with the darn thing. It's not easy to display like the gloves and it's not really my thing as a fashion accessory so it just sits in my closet--too sentimentally valuable to throw out but too useless to do any good. What to do? Jello mold?

10. Single socks. Every time I do a load of wash I lose socks--call it collateral damage or whatever but it's just a given. When I find a divorced sock I throw it in a special place in the cupboard hoping against hope that some day it will once again find its true love. But don't count on it. So my cupboard has become a virtual singles bar where all the single socks go to hang out and I can't dump any of them for fear of finding their mate the next day. Maybe I should just stop doing laundry. It would almost be easier to buy new socks every week anyway than try to match up socks after a load of wash.

11. Candle stubs. I've never thought of myself as a candle lover but apparently I'm living in denial because I've never been able to throw out a half-used candle in my life. I looked down in the crawl space the other day on a hunt for something unrelated when I came across a shopping bag full of half-used pillar candles that I'd forgotten about--but why throw them out now? They'll come in handy if we ever have an electrical outage. At least an outage in the winter--I don't know that we'd even notice having an outage in the summer.

12. Pillows. I redecorate things occasionally and pillows are an easy way to change color in a room but I've never been able to satisfactorily eliminate the old ones. They're bulky and throwing them in the trash isn't really the eco-friendly thing to do, the Salvation Army certainly wouldn't want the stained pillows I've got to offer so I end up throwing them into the kids' playhouse in the back yard. I think there's thirty or forty of them out there perhaps. Pillows, not kids. At least on a good day.

13. Tote bags. Seems like everyone hands out tote bags, especially when you have babies. They give you tote bags at the hospital, tote bags at the doctor's office, tote bags when you take a tour of the hospital, tote bags from formula companies, tote bags from children's book publishers--you're pretty much swimming in tote bags by the time you take the child home from the hospital but can I get rid of them? Not so easy. I keep thinking I'll find a use for them but then I find myself pregnant again and they just give me more tote bags. Maybe it's time to get rid of all those tote bags. Or stop having children. Or both?

***

Have you checked out this month's Write-Away Contest? The topic is "Going Home" and the deadline is next week.

55 comments:

amy said...

havent been by in a while, I am sorry. This is a great list. we could be great friends

page2 said...

We have way too many pens also. My husband gets a lot of free pens at work, so we have a ton. We haven't bought a pen in years, but we keep getting more. But I can't make myself throw them away if they work!
I too have a hard time getting rid of things with sentimental value. (So why do I keep the pens?) But when I do toss something it really feels good afterward. I can't think of anything I've regretted throwing away.

Lei said...

Some of this kind of surprises me! I take you for a purge-it kind of gal! Although, if these are THE ONLY 13 things you hang onto, you're doing pretty good.

Linda said...

I have been known to dust and wash silk flowers. That is just ridiculous after a while. At this point in life, I'm in pitching mode. The toughest one is books, hands-down. We had the same professors, apparently.

Anonymous said...

Those canvas tote bags they give to new parents make *GREAT* reusable shopping bags for your groceries. When they get really grungy you can simply throw them in the washer. I always seem to have a half dozen stashed in the trunk in my car, but that's better than yet another shredded plastic bag caught in the tops of the trees along the side of the road.

Adventures In Babywearing said...

I am the same way with yarn. I just know, with so many kids, that someday they might need it for something, too!

Steph

Heather said...

My list would be very short. Things I can't Throw away: Everything. I'm a pack rat. It's horrible.

Marie N. said...

I'm so glad you are all alright after your harrowing drive yesterday.

I despise matching and folding socks. As soon as my oldest was old enough (about 4) that became one of her chores. Now my youngest does it. Since he is at the need of the line, he will probably have that job until he is out on his own.

Patty W said...

You are SO me !! LOL... Save the silliest things!

Not only do we have shells from all over... we also have a gallon milk jug of sand! Yep... bought tiny little glass bottles to fill with sand to give as souvenirs..umm..they are both still in the basement!

Alter the oatmeal cans... put some pretty paper around them, decorate them... can be a bank, flower vase, bake bread in them (without paper &decorations!).

Hang Grandpa's hat on a coat rack or on a door or...something!

Thanks for all the giggles!

Tammy said...

Let's see...I have some of the same issues with:
1. Old sheets and towels
3. Scraps of yarn (it IS perfectly good - and the skein was probably expensive. Why would I throw it away? Besides, if I ever need to darn the item, I'll want the same yarn, right?)
4. Seashells, only mine is rocks. California beaches don't have fantastic shells, so I collect pretty rocks.
5. Plastic flower pots. The stack is towering in my garage.
13. Tote bags.

Oh, and related to your post below, praising the Lord that you were kept safe from harm!

Melissa said...

hahaha... I have some of the same stash problems, but I have found some solutions for them:

- I use the sheets to go on picnics, and save the towels for my husband's projects around the house where he may need to wipe gross stuff off his hands (working on the car, painting, etc.)

- I use the silk flowers on scrapbook pages and cards! Hahaha... yes, even the faded, dusty ones.

- Same thing with the scraps of yarn. They make cute little additions to scrapbook pages.

- You can make cute little gift things with the oatmeal cans. You can paint them, put paper on them, do pretty much anything to them, and they turn out great!

- I have my husband's great-grandfather's hat hanging off the big mirror in my bedroom. It makes a great decoration. Of course, it isn't a cowboy hat, but you get the idea. :)

Jacki said...

By looking around our home I see that I have had a hard time throwing anything away, even things I can't recycle. Sooo...I am having the urge to purge. :-)

Anonymous said...

Pens, pens, pens - I think my husband and I have picked one up at every hotel, conference, etc. we've ever been too. I recently organized our home office closet and put all the ball point pens in one place ... I'm afraid to count but I think there are easily 200 of them! For those things that don't have sentimental value but you just don't want to throw them away - check out freecycle.org There are freecycle groups ALL over the country - it's basically an internet bulletin board where you post what you want to give away and someone who can use/needs it can answer. Keeps a lot of stuff out of the landfills - I highly recommend it!

Blessed said...

I'm glad I'm not the only one...

On the yarn - I finally started making a "crazy afghan" with all my leftovers, when I have just a bit leftover I add it to the afghan I've been working on, but not finished for years...

Tote bags - use them when you go to the grocery store instead of plastic or paper from there!

Cocoa said...

Being a homeschool family I've got books galore along with crayons and paper going out the wazoo.

Congrats on being one of the top ten motherhood blogs listed in today's Wall Street Journal!
The Blogger Mom, In Your Face

- B - said...

Once a month, I pour a glass of wine after the kid goes to bed and sit down on my living room floor. I pop in a movie and spread all the single socks I can find on the ground in front of me (they multiply like rabbits, the little suckers). And I match 'em up.

I know most people hate this task, but honestly... I find it strangely fulfilling.

Tim Appleton (Applehead) said...

we can not get enough steel cut oats. nothing comes close.

Annie said...

Weet-whoo! Congratulations on having your blog name dropped in the Wall Street Journal today! When I saw your name I'm like,

"Hey I've heard of her!"

Scribbit said...

Thanks Annie and Cocoa--yes, I woke up this morning to an email from Susan over at FoodBlogga with the news of the Wall Street Journal link which was quite the surprise. That's me, riding Dooce's coat tails :)

Andrew's first question was, "Well what did you post today? I hope it was something good"

My response? "Uh, not really. It was just a regular old post."

(Chuckle) Oh well, you get what you pay for folks :) Nothing but stories of my poor driving skills and inability to play the organ.

Shannon said...

I love this! Isn't it funny the little quirks we all have? I have a bunch of these items around my house too. Why is throwing away so hard??

Denise Patrick said...

I don't knit, so I don't have yarn, but I sew. You know those bumper stickers that say, "She who dies with the most fabric wins."? They were talking about me. Between scraps and material I bought years ago because I was going to make something for my then 5 y/o (who is now 22!), I'm swimming in the stuff.

I also have too many pens and tote bags.

Happy TT!

Chilihead said...

I have a bajillion of those oatmeal cans too! I love that oatmeal and can't bring myself to throw away the cans. That may be one of our weekend projects.

Saw you at wsj today! Woot! I've been trying to leave a comment on the forum, but it's telling me to use less than five links even though I am! Grrr.

Mrs Nespy said...

I'm glad to see that I am not the only one that hangs on to a few things that would seem peculiar to some. My old sheets are drop cloths for the next session of painting. Text books I kept until recently (at least 8 years since needing them), but I finally bit the bullet and let go...and it felt great. I'm trying to work on this and I think doing a pretty good job. Just a few more things to go...

lifemoreabundant said...

When my paternal grandmother died, she actually (really, genuinely) had a box labeled "yarn too short to use."

diXymiss said...

Your list made me smile. I have a similar stash, eXcept my ten yr. old (free gift) tubes of coral sunset and viXen red lipstick are Estee Lauder.

Magpie said...

#3 - You can make a nice striped hat. Or just add a single stripe to a mostly one color hat. That's what I do, anyway. Or use yarn instead of ribbon when wrapping packages.

#11 - Melt them down and make your own candles!

Richelle said...

That's a great list. I think I have a lot of those same things hanging around. I think we need a purging party (but some of it is so hard to get rid of...)

Sassy Mama Bear said...

I can understand why on almost everything. Pens, I do throw away once I am 100% satisfied they will never write again :)
I have tons of yarn scraps.
I had fun visiting your TT.
Mine is at The Cafe.
Hope you'll drop by.

Janet said...

I come from a very long line of packrats (both sides). My grandmothers both reused alumnium foil and bread wrappers. I could post most of this list.
1. We got three sets of towels when we got married, but we kept all our old ones. I still have a Miss Piggy washcloth from college (1980 - not sure what happened to the matching towel).

2. Dried and silk flowers. No silk, but I've dried wedding bouquets and the anniversary roses. They're quite dusty. When you dust them, they disintegrate.

3. Scraps of yarn. And felt, and beads, and sequins and jewels, and wire, and craft paint, and brushes, and glue guns, and stencils, and . . . Although actually I made the Queen a set of plastic canvas alphabet blocks using leftover yarn scraps.

4. Seashells. I have several containers of seashells. I made 3 stepping stones out of some of them.

5. Plastic flower pots. I actually do use these in the spring to plant my basil and morning glory seeds. Sometimes I'll take the bigger ones back to the nursery - they can reuse them.

6. McCann's Irish oatmeal cans. I will have to try this oatmeal so I can start another collection.

6. Textbooks. I spent many a suicide-contemplating hour with Derrida. I donated that book to the college library so I wouldn't have to look at it anymore.

7. Pens. First we each had our own. Then hubby's parents down-sized and we got all of theirs too. 8, yes, 8 large plastic cups full of pens and pencils. I did manage to pare it down from 10 by throwing out all the ones that didn't work.

8. Eyeshadow. Mom gives me all the Clinique stuff she doesn't want. I have yet to wear any. I generally only wear makeup on stage. Because I still have bad 8th-grade memories of shiny blue eyeshadow that had caked by the end of the day.

9. Grandpa's hat. I think that's very cool. You should wear it. I love wearing hats. I wish they'd come back. We have an actual mink stole from my great aunt. Are we going to wear it? Nope. I'm considering giving it a decent burial after 80 years.

10. Single socks. I made a lost sock holder out of a hanger, some yarn, and clothespins. Generally I can find the mates, but there are some socks (especially those little baby ones) that have been hanging there since I put it up somewhere around 2 years ago.

11. Candle stubs. When the Queen was about a year old she discovered the candle drawer and promptly broke all the tapers in half. Yes, I still have them. (Because, you know, you can melt them down and make new ones - and I have.)

12. Pillows. I had lots of pillows in my former life. I put them in a community yard sale recently. In our house, they are just a magnet for cat hair.

13. Tote bags. I probably have 30 tote bags. I used some of them to contain the Queen's toys - we made a rack out of a piece of board and used decorative drawer pulls for hooks.

You know, I really shouldn't respond to your Thursday ones, because I always end up with a post-length comment.

Janet said...

Oh yeah, I do have the beanie that my mother had to wear as a college freshman. And my grandmother's highs school ring and my father's college ring.

Daisy said...

The socks? We have a box in our closet for "orphan socks." After they've been orphaned a while and there's no hope of reconciliation, I take the loners to school and use them as erasers for whiteboards. The kids love them, and I don't feel any guilt when I finally throw them away.

Daisy said...

Ah, the yarn? I used to set out scraps in the spring when the birds were nesting. A few weeks later, I'd take the day care kids walking and look for nests --- with our yarn in them!

Sheila said...

I love scraps of yarn! I love making striped sweaters and striped baby blankets, especially with a little bit of novelty yarn thrown in.

And those old towels? Everytime we go to Africa we take them with us. They're great for cloth menstrual pads (I know, EWWW, but they're comfortable and they work!). Flannel on top, towel in the middle, fleece on the bottom, sew them up, and there you go!

Visit To Love, Honor and Vacuum today!

calicobebop said...

I love those totes! I have a closet full of them! I use them at the beach, to hold shoes on a road trip, to hold library books, and tote things to and from work. If you ever want to get rid of any just pack them up and ship them to Virginia Beach! :)

Nicholas said...

I sold some of my college textbooks back to the bookstore, but I still have all the ones they didn't take back, and even though I know I probably won't open them again, ever, I can't get rid of them.

Like an anonymous commenter, I also collect pens. I have enough to last me the rest of my life but still I buy more.

luckyzmom said...

I'm a collecter of all of the above and then some. My largest category would be clothes too small, clothes too big, clothes out of style but I love them, clothes that I never go anywhere I would wear anymore, clothes that don't go with anything, clothes that that I hate but cost too much to get rid of, sexy lingerie.

I'll have to run out to the driveway to retrieve the WSJ. Wooohooo I know someone famous!

thediaperdiaries said...

Amen to the single socks. What is the deal with that. Some of them I have had for so long there is no way a reunion is taking place. Yet I can't throw them away...just in case.

The Healthy Mom said...

I can't believe how many things you hang on to and I have those same items in boxes in my garage. We recently moved to a much smaller house and a lot of those same items have piled up. I no longer have room for them but I just can't get rid of them either. Cheers to packrats!

Cascia @ Healthy Moms

LisaC said...

I was watching "Cribs" one day (just to make sure they weren't at my house yet!) and this famous guy who I had never heard of showed everyone his sock drawer. It was full of brand new socks. He said he never wears the same pair twice. I would love to be able to do that. Sockas drive me crazy in the laundry. Wouldn't it be great to just throw them away and not have to match them up!

MommyTime said...

Well, my pile is on the windowseat, but that's the official home of Socks Without Friends. They hang out there for about 5 weeks, and if their friends don't turn up after several cycles worth of laundry, then they get ditched. All the other stuff, though, I can't help you with. Since most of it, I keep too.

planetnomad said...

I can't get rid of odd socks either. When we moved from Mauritania, I finally gave up on ever finding their mates, after years of fruitless searching. In the trash they went, from which I do not doubt they were rescued and found new homes on the cold feet of the local children.

pussreboots said...

OK... we're twins separated at birth. I was nodding all the way through your list. Happy TT.

My Ice Cream Diary said...

YIKES! Every month I swear I'm going to enter the writeaway early.

I am so glad that even amazing people like you have their secret stashes too. I keep all my mismatched socks with the intent to make fabulous sock dolls that I will sell for buko bucks. I have no money and a bag full of single socks. I'm more of an idea person. =)

I also keep old sheets but my kids use them all the time for making forts, curtains for plays, or to bounce objects on (including the littlest child). They are also fun for the kids to paint, draw on, or tie die.

WomensDaily said...

Make a bowl with the scraps of yarn.

Linds said...

I use the yarn scraps for couching. It looks great, and is a great finish to sewing projects.

trek said...

3. Yarn scraps: make mini stockings for your Christmas tree. I pust a couple dozen Sockies on my tree this past Christmas and my young Neatnik loved them. So did her teachers who got some for their trees just before Christmas vacation.

6. McCann's tins: use them to store other products such as tea bags or stuff that sometimes comes in odd sized or flimsy containers like pankcake batter mix. We use very little pancake mix but I like to keep a bit on hand for the small one. I pour the mix into a recycled plastic cashew container (not a McCann's tin, I'm afraid) then I use clear packing tape to affix the instructions/nutritional information from the original mix box. It also has the added benefit of keeping the product fresh longer as the box isn't air-tight but the cashew container/McCann's tin does.

Lori - Queen of Dirty Laundry said...

I'm right there with you on a few of these, especially yarn and special containers. In fact, I was drooling over your Oatmeal tin, thinking of all the wonderful things I could keep in there - sugar, rice, beans...

HEY, you could keep your yarn scraps in there!

And you could have a little giveaway every season to get rid of your Clinique leftovers - then they could clog up someone else's drawer!

Erin said...

When we moved last fall I FINALLY caved in and donated all of my old textbooks to the library. I had been keeping them and thinking "I'll actually read them one of these days," but finally when it came time to pack the blasted things AGAIN I found that I just couldn't do it.

The library was THRILLED to get them. I guess they list them on Amazon and ebay and then use the profits to help buy other books for the library. So...yay! I helped! :)

Kimmie said...

A thought for your oatmeal tins...do you have a deck? You could poke two holes and thread rope across the back and tie it to your deck (hanging)...add some soil and some flowers and you'll have a beautiful new way to enjoy your 'saves.' (if you are brave you could paint them all different colors to add to their beauty.)

You probably could do the same hanging from tree branches...don't forget to pop a hole in the bottom for drainage. ;-)

blessings to you!

Kimmie
mama to 6
one homemade and 5 adopted

Coach J said...

Ha! I JUST walked by a box of seashells and asked myself "Just WHY are we keeping these? I'm pretty sure there's more down on the coast." Sigh. They're still there.

poopsy said...

I saved steel cut oats cans too! I planted a plant in one. The rest languished on a shelf, and I believe got tossed when we moved.

Sara DownToEarth said...

As a Farmer's Market vendor, I will say that many of really appreciate egg cartons and those fruit or vegetable baskets from the produce section. Margins are pretty thin in this business, and most of us are also very into "reduce, reuse and recycle".

The One and Only said...

Hello! I have a great site to oust your things to someone who wants them:

freecycle.org!

Jan/lost-strayed-or-stolen.blogspot.com said...

Tote bags have a special use in my opinion. Years ago I realized how many teachers are given tote bags that they never use. Having been a foster parent, and seen some kids carrying all their worldly possessions in paper bags, I started asking for tote bag donations. I collected over 400 and took them to our local children's shelter. They were thrilled to have so many sturdy, colorful, clean, and in most cases never used tote bags for the kids to organize their stuff.

Amanda on Maui said...

I can relate to number 6. The math books get changed out so often that selling them back to the bookstore is impossible, and finding the time and energy to put them on half.com is pretty much a no go. So, they sit in my closet.
I had a teacher this semester who told us we could use our text books for our final exam, and if they had notes in them that was fine, but we couldn't use notes that weren't in the books themselves. So, I had to ruin the books by writing in them, which means being stuck with them forever.
Oh well, I suppose I should read even more of the classics.