Monday, January 10, 2011


You won't find the word "minimalizing" in your Webster's or New Oxford American Dictionary. It doesn't even make an appearance at Urban Dictionary. It is, in fact, a North of 49 exclusive.

minimalizing- verb; the action taken when one attempts to minimize one's possessions and live a somewhat more minimalist lifestyle, i.e., getting rid of stuff.

There are numerous minimalist blogs such as miss minimalist that espouse the virtues of living a "stuff-free" lifestyle. And there are the inevitable books that are spin-offs from these blogs. I am not interested in reducing the contents of my home to 100 or fewer items, and I have no desire to live in a home that is under 400 square feet in total floor space. So I would like to reassure you, the reader, that this particular blog will not be running ads down the side for things like reusable toilet paper (yes, there is such a thing) and e-book downloads on how a family of four can get by with just one pair of shoes (okay, I might have made that one up).

However, after 30+ years of marriage and raising five kids there is a fair amount of stuff contained within the walls here at North of 49. Before any of my kids moved away from home I had operated under the faulty assumption that when they moved out all of their stuff would go with them. Wrong. Numerous obstacles have stood in the way of my kids actually possessing their possessions. Here is the short list of excuses reasons.

1. Not enough space at their current residence
2. No need for the item at this time
3. No way to transport the item to their current residence
4. They will take it with them next time

We are down to just one and a half children left living at home. (The half designation goes to our basement boy. Since he is only here temporarily- he moved home for "just three days" back in September- I don't think I should count him as a full resident.)  Surely we don't need as much stuff as we did when all five were living here with us. It is time to reassess what we possess.

I have a plan. I think it is a good plan. Every day this year I am going to get rid of at least one item. If it has any life left in it I will donate it to the thrift store. If not, it will get recycled or thrown out. I am writing down what I get rid of each day, and it is already fun to look back and see how much minimalizing has taken place.

An important part of minimalizing is to simply not accumulate stuff in the first place. So I am setting up a few guidelines to help out in that department. The first is a "one thing in, two things out" policy. It is as simple as it sounds. If something new enters this home two things must leave at the same time. These items would be above and beyond my daily minimalizing.

Due to the fact that we have a slight problem with appliance dysfunction here at North of 49 appliance replacement is a straight trade. An example of this would be the toaster I purchased to replace our no longer toasting toaster oven. That was a one-for-one deal.

Then it was discovered the new toaster was a lemon- note in the picture that the lever is pushed all the way down yet the bread is still sticking up. This is only a good feature if you like just the bottom half of your bread toasted. Back it went to the store and another one was purchased. Again, this was a one-for-one trade.

I am giving myself exemptions for computer related items. And, of course, my knitting.

Books are under a tougher policy than other items. For each book- new or used- that comes through the front door, three must depart. (I have to admit I might have set up this last rule so I would have a good excuse to buy a Nook or a Kindle, the purchase of which doesn't fit well with the overall theme of this post, does it?)

I find myself wondering if, by the end of the year, I will run out of things to get rid of. Perhaps this should serve as a warning to my basement boy.........


  1. Hey, Kristie,if you're really serious, I think your knitting should count. ;) Just KIDDING! I know that would be impossible for you!

    I like minimalizing...although you wouldn't know it as I went to Michael's today and came home with more 'stuff' for the house (and a bit of yarn). It was ON SALE!

  2. I have put myself way ahead of the game with the two boxes of books that I culled over the holidays. There must be at least 75 books! Does that mean I can make a big Amazon purchase? Not!

  3. OMGoodnes, I really need to get my wife to believe in this! I think she's trying to stuff so much junk in the house that it will be impossible for either of us to fall over when we get old--we'll always have a pile to lean on. LOL!

    Back in December I saw a cookbook that I thought you might like (I did), but probably not worth having to get rid of three in exchange.

  4. Just to get this clear...the toaster you got to replace the non-working toaster...didn't work.
    You DO have some serious appliance issues at your house, don't you!

    (lurker who came over from Jean's blog and has kept checking in.)

    Beverly near Yosemite CA

  5. I just use the we move every 3 to 4 years way to purge.

    (Actually, we're hoping for at least 7 years here. But we've never lived anywhere longer than 4 years since we got 1992.)