Wednesday, February 05, 2014

What Do You Do With "The Good Stuff?"

We are moving and downsizing again!  (Yes, we got the little bungalow mentioned in my previous post "Bordering on Miraculous.") This time the move is only across town, but still that means packing and moving...






The new house has only two bedrooms, not three.  There are less closets and they are MUCH smaller.  There is plenty of storage space in the basement, but I don't want to haul lots of things cross-town just to store them in a basement.

As a quick review for any new readers: After 5 of our kids graduated and moved out in a quick 5-year period of time, we realized we no longer needed our 2070 sq. ft. 5 bedroom, 8 closet, 2.5 bath house with a full attic full plus an outside storage building.  So in December, 2012 we sold it and downsized to a 3 bedroom 2 bath condo, no attic, no outside storage.  A LOT of stuff had to go!  6 months later, we moved from NC to Wyoming.  Even more stuff did not make it on the Penske truck we drove cross-country!

I am both thrilled and a bit uneasy over the opportunity to downsize even more. I have already done so much purging and releasing in the past two years.  Moving to this little house is definitely going to push me even further out of my comfort zone. I have culled until now I am pretty much down to "The Good Stuff."  All of it is neatly stored and organized, yet, it burdens me still.  Having things that are not getting used or appreciated makes me feel guilty.

Here are some examples.  Do you have similar items sitting around your house?

EXAMPLE #1:  My fine china (Noritake Etienne) and crystal stemware sitting packed in a box.

My china is a triple whammy as it falls into THREE categories that are stumbling blocks in the Great Clutter War:  the gift category, the sentimental category, and the valuable category. We never use it and don't have cabinet space for it. But golly, each plate cost over $20 in 1980's currency and each glass was $26!  You don't just Goodwill an entire set of fine Noritake china, do you?  My kids don't want it. I have looked into selling it, but I can't seem to find a good market for it. would only give me less than $200 for the whole lot of it, and safely shipping the china to them would be such a large expense and challenge in itself.  What's a gal to do?

EXAMPLE #1B:  As a corollary to the fine china, I feel compelled to mention that my everyday dishes are a lovely set of Arcoroc of France "Aspen" I recently inherited from my mother.  I always liked these dishes. My hubby, on the other hand, does not for two main reasons:  a) They are made of glass which means they are semi-transparent, a look he doesn't care for.  b)  They are shaped and molded like a leaf, which means the slightly compulsive one of us (you may guess who) wants them to be turned the "right" way when on the table (who wants to eat off an upside down leaf?) and turned the same direction when stacked in the cabinets so that they fit nicely together.  The less compulsive one of us (you may guess who) thinks this is a pain!  I would like to replace them with something simple that we BOTH like.  But I struggle with what to do with these dishes.  Not to mention it is hard to justify spending money on new dishes when already have a set that is perfectly functional.

EXAMPLE #2:  My fabric.  I purged boxes of fabric last year.  I gave large quantities to quilters I knew.  My fabric is now down to a few containers -- a carefully curated collection of "The Good Stuff" -- patterns and colors that I actually like.  But I'm not using it.  I no longer have a designated sewing spot which means that setting up the machine is an event.  In the last year I have sewn only a few times.  Once again, I perceive this fabric as valuable.  It was not cheap.  I acquired much of it when I was selling project bags on Etsy.  Also, the fabric falls into the I-may-need-it-someday category.  What if I get the sewing urge again? 

EXAMPLE #3:  My beading supplies.  Once upon a time I had a small jewelry and hair stick business.  I sold my handcrafted items in a local shop and online.  It fed my need to create.  It was great fun.  But when it became work, a drudge, and I stopped.  So, I now have a fabulous collection of quality beads and jewelry making supplies that I almost NEVER use except for when one of my daughters needs a nice gift to give a friend.  I don't wear much jewelry, and my hair is not even long enough to use hair sticks any more.  Like the other examples, this is "The Good Stuff."  While there are some less expensive components, my collection also includes a good bit of Swarovski crystals, Czech glass & sterling silver.   Heck, just the fancy-schmancy storage containers that organize them are worth a pretty penny!  Trying to divide it up into small lots and selling it online would be time-consuming and tedious.  I keep hoping to stumble across someone who makes beaded jewelry who might want to buy the whole collection for a steal.  Meanwhile, I hang onto it because what else am I going to do?

These examples are just some of "The Good Stuff" I am struggling with.  I have done some deep soul-searching trying to figure out what is holding me back from simply donating these, and other similar items to charity.  I believe it is because I perceive them to have significant value.  I have already given away hundreds (probably thousands) of dollars worth of stuff.  I want to be a good steward. If I could find a proper venue to sell them at a decent price that is proportional to the effort required, I would do so.  I would also gladly give some of these things away to someone I love, or someone who I know would value them.  But I can't bring myself to just haul them off to the Salvation Army or Goodwill.  Remember, this is "The Good Stuff." I feel the need to find a "proper" home for it...somewhere it's value will be appreciated.

I see my options as the following:

--Keep, store, and ignore the guilt.
--Keep and find a way to use.
--Give away to friends/family.

So, what do YOU do with "The Good Stuff?" If you have any ideas or suggestions, please feel free to leave a comment!


Daniel Hayes said...

Wow! Well, first off, you're well on your way. You've already done a lot of examining the hard questions. But, as my wife Vanessa always says when asked about pair down this or that, it boils down to "Do I NEED it? Do I LOVE it? Do I USE it?"

The china problem has come up a few times on our Edit & Forget It Challenge Facebook page. One of the better recommendations was to find a young couple just starting out and gift the china to them. They'll surely love and appreciate it.

Your fabric conundrum is one that some of our crafters talk about on the B page, too. You may want to have a look. If nothing else, you'll certainly find some kindred spirits there!

Best of luck, Michele!

- Dan Hayes

Paula said...

Hi Michele!
I've been thinking of you, way over there in Wyoming! I hope ya'll are enjoying the Northwest.
I admire your "purging" and wish I could bring myself to do it. Quite an accomplishment - Bravo!
Paula P.

Paula said...

Hi Michele!
I've been thinking of you recently, way over there in Wyoming. I hope ya'll are enjoying living in the Northwest!
I admire your "purging," and wish I could bring myself to tackle my "stuff" too. Quite an accomplishment on your part - Bravo!

Unknown said...

Hi Michele! How did the move go? I'm dying to know what you did with your china. We have a set that we never use either, and I've always wondered what we should do with it. I love reading about your decluttering and downsizing!


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