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  • Hurrah!! I don’t even know where to start, I am so over-motivated. Do I start filling Hefty bags? Start walking? Go buy a gyro? I don’t know – it all sounds so good! Thanks for the inspiration.

  • Crikey. You’ve done well, grasshopper, and deserve not only a tasty gyro but a nice glass of wine and a foot rub.

  • Congradulations Ann!!! I just moved and had to go through the same thing you did. I was so tired when I was done! But it feels great to get rid of all the junk you don’t need. Good job!!!

  • WOw, that’s a GREAT collection of cotton balls! What whiteness, what shapes, what order!

  • Magazine racks are black holes. Should I pitch that thesis to Scientific American?

  • Don’t put those “10 bags of utterly useless crap” in the landfill! Try freecycling the stuff. Really! You’ll be *astounded* at what people will come and take off your hands. Give it a shot!
    Good for you for cleaning up. I should do that too…

  • No way, Jose, you aren’t sucking me in to your crazy Hefty bag cult. My 50 bazillion knitting mags that I will never knit a pattern from are staying right where they are. My husband put you up this, didn’t he?

  • Yeah, that space under the desk; I’ve got one of those (garden catalogs, magazine back issues with my stuff in them, magazines without my stuff in them (IK, Real Simple, Country Life), a folder with last week’s article research, fall Boden catalog, my flip flops … Oops, don’t tell the Flylady I’m not wearing lace-up shoes.

  • So glad you have met Flylady.net – have you posted your pounds of clutter flung? Terribly satisfying. There’s something in the air, I think – I’ve been barrelling through my stash, F-ing the UFO’s.

  • I love love love Cooks Illustrated (do you remember Handcraft Illustrated? I still have some of them in my attic. Sigh.) I ran into Christopher Kimball with his family on the street in New Orleans right after the TV show first aired and I made a damned fool of myself with the fawning. A damned fool.

  • GAH! Now I want to go work on my basement.
    I started three weeks ago and have been effectively ignoring it for the last two.
    When I started, my neighbor was on vacation, so under cover of darkness, I sneaked (loudly) over and got their garbage can and 96 gallon recycle bin. I stuffed those containers. I woke up happy to the sound of the garbage trucks the next day, but started to get a bit anxious around noon when the Recycle was still there. A little more anxious when I picked up the mail and noticed some neighbors had their Yard Waste bins out. Our service picks up Yard Waste or Recycle on alternate weeks. Finally around 4:00 PM I broke down and went online to check our schedule (this required looking up our account number or I would have done it sooner) and sure enough, it was Yard Waste week so I went over in broad daylight and got the neighbors recycle bin and emptied it onto my driveway. Happy feeling all gone. The next week I mentioned it to the neighbor and she said “Oh, our bin is practically empty this week, go ahead and use it”. Gah!
    You have re-inspired me, I’m going into the basement Hefty bags in hand. Thank you.

  • You have motivated me to clean my office. I still have boxes in there that I haven’t unpacked and I moved into my apartment 5 years ago.
    So inspiring 🙂

  • We moved a year ago and we only kept about 1/3 of what we owned. Another 1/3 when to Goodwill and the last 1/3 was trash. I sent cans of food to the foodbank and sold books to the used book store. Everything that was left fit into one 18 foot moving van. Except for the cats and kids of course.
    But you know, the first few weeks in the new house we spent a lot of time shopping for stuff for the new house. It is nice stuff though!

  • Wahoo!!!!! Way to go. You know what they say (whoever they are) “The more you know, the less you need.” Of course the inverse is true of knitting. The more you know about knitting, the more yarn, books, needles you actually use, “look, don’t touch needles” and knitting totes you need!
    P. S. Congrats to the luck winners!

  • This was a really fun idea! Thanks for sharing with us. I think you may have inspired me to do a purge soon too 🙂

  • Freecycle ! If you have a local group. There’s always someone who wants your cr*p !

  • Good for you. I make monthly trips to Goodwill with clothing, books, kitchen items, and sports equipment. I swear this stuff multiplies on it’s own.

  • I’m in the middle of a giant purge of the sewing room this week and was starting to lose steam. Your post has re-energized me but I think I need one of those hazmat suits before I dive back in.

  • Dear Ann,
    At the end of next week (Friday September 1 at 0-dark-30, to be exact) I am embarking on my own clearing out of crap. I bet you I will have in excess of 18 Hefty bags of outgoing stuff from my 2-bedroom condo. That oughta make you feel better about your 18 bags o’ stuff. I bet I come up with at least 20. Wanna bet?
    If I’m right, can I send you a Hefty bag o’ yarn? PLEASE?

  • huzzah! good for you ann! i love purging my home. i make my husband purge his wardrobe every season and i routinely send out bags of stuff to the curb on a regular basis. it’s very cathartic!

  • I’m feeling an odd, nearly compelling desire to take a week off from work and start in the master bedroom closet.
    But the shoes are sacred.

  • Don’t you feel about eleven-hundred pounds lighter, just from all the purging? What’s funny is that I always used to agonize over things I got rid of. (What if I need it again?) The truth is, I’ve never needed it again–any of it. Way to go!

  • Once you’ve finished moving hefty bags around, take off the haz-mat suit, paint it with acrylic paint & then stitch on it (free machine embroidery). Paint on it some more, more embroidery, then attack it with a heat gun or hold a hot iron very close (but not touching or you’ll wreck your iron!) – v.v. cool bubbly effects between the stitches!

  • I’d love to say you’ve inspired me too. But let’s face it. I’m not going home and cleaning. I’m going home, sitting my ass on the couch and turning on my DVR, and knitting.

  • Ya know, if you’d just stuff bag number two into bag number one, then there woulda been *seventeen* bags. I’m just sayin’.
    Oh yeah. Congrats to the winner.

  • Oh I so love that fake chicken

  • you just made me so hungry for a gyro. mmmm.

  • Wow – I am so impressed with what you have accomplished! Don’t you feel good? You have inspired me. I’m thinking I need to do a similar de-junk in my own home. I’m going to go lie down until the feeling goes away.

  • I love, love, love Flylady! I’ve just spent the past two days flinging stuff in 15 minute intervals. It’s amazing how much can be accomplished this way.

  • This has been the most enjoyable 20 minutes of work this week while reading the blog. The purging binge has inspired me to dedicate at least 15 minutes a day for the next 5 days toward imposing some order in my office. Heck, if you can fill 18 hefty bags, I should be able to ditch 10 waste cans of stuff. And, since we lawyers are no longer paid by the word, I should be able to ditch some of the long-winded and out of date materials that have taken over my office, my desk, my floor and my colleague’s file cabinet. I feel so inspired! Thanks for a great read!!

  • i can’t believe we had the exact same Peter Fox wedding shoes.
    you’ve inspired me: i’m going to start my long-threatened purge this weekend.

  • Well done!
    Charlene Schurch’s book is an awesome sock book. I will probably never buy another one. (Well, unless you and Kay write one.)
    But, I dunno, I was raised in the suburbs complete with sidewalks and no livestock, (Long Island, no less) (Without the G) but isn’t that chicken really a rooster?

  • Now I want a gyro. I do not however, want to clean.

  • Man, if I had shoes like those I would wear them all over the damn place. I think they are perfect to wear to the supermarket with jeans. And if I had a model airplane-meets-kidsilk haze situation you better believe someone would be in time out for a while.
    Following a recent sweep, my new resolution is to only have one magazine at a time in the apartment (not including knitting mags, duh)– in other words if the Sept. Vogue comes in, then the August Vogue must be recycled. We’ll see how long this resolution will last.

  • Whadja do with the fake chicken? Please don’t tell me it ended up all Heftified.

  • Many, many congratulations. A big-ass purge (the technical term) is both a thing of beauty AND a total feel-good high.
    OF course, now the rest of your possessions have room to multiply–I swear stuff *breeds*.

  • Being from Nebraska I just love that fake chicken, scary as he be. Please tell me you didn’t throw him out! I’m sure you could put him in a tree and scare away all the black crows in y’alls neighborhood. (“y’alls neighborhood”…didn’t Vincent Price say that in a Michael Jackson video?) I think he did…oh well I’m babbling now. Nice seeing the homestead Ann!

  • if ya have a local thrift store or shelter of some sort: One man’s trash…

  • That’s a lot of bags. Thanks for the inspirational picture!
    I agree with the Freecyclers. People took my fake Christmas tree in June, and a Halloween witch’s hat with scary green hair!
    And, I’d just like to say, there’s no such thing as Easy Ornamental Grasses. I planted a little something like that and am now contemplating spending hundreds of dollars to get someone to rescue my garden from it. Invasive is not good, in a 10 foot square garden!

  • About that chicken. Are you looking for it? There’s one just like it sitting on top of my bookcase. Did yours fly out here?

  • i love the chicken

  • I did Flylady for a bit, but I was overwhelmed by guilt. I do throw things out and sometimes the crew notices. Usually not. But I will admit to having boxes still unpacked from moving in 5 years ago. And I have clothing that does not fit me any longer. Girl, I say, if you lose the weight, then you deserve new clothes! But each time I go through the closet I’m not cutthroat enough. Maybe when I get back from vacation I’ll start throwing again! Good job!

  • In January, we moved to our new home, an old 4 bedroom Colonial on 16 1/2 acres, with a detached 3 bay garage, an old dairy barn, and a 4 bay pole barn. We moved the contents of our home, in which my husband had lived since 1983, and to which I added the contents of a second 4 bedroom home when we were married in 1992. Then, my mother joined us here in April with most of the contents of the 3 bedroom home she’d lived in since 1952. We disposed of over 4 1/2 TONS of stuff between the 2 houses. We still cannot walk into the garage without inhaling, the pole barn is too full for the landscape wagon, not to mention the 1953 tractor that will be arriving next week, with accessories. Did I say we have 9 dogs, 6 cats, 5 birds, 10 rabbits, 3 Angora goats, 2 Nubian goats and a betta fish? Which I pretty much care for by myself? And I’m trying to prepare for the NY Sheep and Wool, in which I have fortunately been able to secure a booth for my fledgling fiber/yarn dying business? You have inspired me to restart the purge necessary to make roon for all the raw fiber and yarn that is adding to the melee! If I survive till October, maybe I’ll see you there. Look for Kay at Sliver Moon Farm. See if I managed to get the dying done.

  • Day-um! Ya did good. Ya did real good. I’m inspired. Think I’ll mosey on over to the Flylady website. 😀

  • Oh, Ann, if keeping a house neat and tidy were that simple. I did a major clean out about two years ago and it took about three months to amass enough crap to make me want to cry. Honestly, three months. My problem is I see something super cheap at Target and think, “I could use this . . . someday,” all the while knowing that I will never, not matter how hard I try, find a use for a cherry shaped spaghetti strainer. Some day, I will have a place for everything . . . and then I will fall over dead from shock!

  • Dude. I was at SUCH a disadvantage, but consider myself warned in re kids and their crap. Good story and huzzah!!! Also: You have inspired me to tackle the Desk. Maybe I’ll photograph the Desk before I start. My brother said, “Good to know I’m not the only one with piles of paper on my desk.” Me: “Oh but you haven’t looked in the desk, or under the desk, or behind the desk, or on the cabinet behind the desk.” yes. I’m sure I have files full of 10 year-old bank statements.

  • PS PERFECT summation of Flylady. dang.

  • I’m right there in decluttering-land with you. Not to the tune of 18 Hefty bags, but I took about 3 Hefty bags’ worth of crap to Goodwill on Monday and filled three grocery sacks in about 5 minutes’ work in the kitchen. Sickening, honestly. Where did all this crap come from?
    Let’s not even consider the fabric/craft room. That’s last on the list for now.

  • well done!
    i have to say, i love that chicken. . .

  • Amen Sister! After living in my grandparent’s residence which was overwhelmingly, frustratingly, and infuriatingly stuffed to the gills with crap, I became rabid about protecting my space. Space and room to breath is worth WAY more than my old road atlases. So I started a new mantra everytime I clean to evaluate what I’m surrounding myself with. “Would I feel bad if I lost this is a house fire?”
    It is amazing what you realize you can live without when you take that perspective.

  • Well sheesh! I’m just so honored that I was one of the lucky guessers! Any consolation prizes? Like maybe being dubbed the chief assistant junk amount estimator? Heck, I’ll even take the shoes!
    Thanks for letting me play–Jenn U.

  • I’m motivated, I’m inspired, I’m awe struck. My Hefty bag purge begins tomorrow. The same day the kidlets start school. I find it’s easier for things to disappear while they aren’t home to drag them back into the house!

  • Congratulations on decrapitating!

  • You are an inspiration to us all Ann! I am going out tomorrow to stock up on hefty bags and I am going to beat your record!!!!!

  • You know what? After reading this post, and thinking about my rooms and basement and closets – I’m GLAD I didn’t win the Hefty bag of yarn. Whew, close call!

  • You’re a flybaby? Yay! (When I saw that they had found the perfect dishcloths, though, all I could think is “I’m enjoying the ones I’m knitting, thanks!”)

  • how about a garage sale….organized and run by your boys?….and in the process they get to keep the moola!

  • I started doing Flylady a month ago and little by little things are getting better —
    But tomorrow I will be at the Rogers Historical Museum — I was asked the day after your talk to help catalog items — Starting with hooked rugs – They have YEARS, DECADES, MULTIPLE DECADES of fun stuff to go thru. I am at once intimidated, terrified, excited and feeling like a kid let go in a candy shop.
    But Friday I will start in my back room — which is mainly books and my clothes (many sizes of clothes) to go thru and bag and throw out. Not going the freecell routine and I am not saving them for a yard sale and I am most certainly not saving them so that as Weight Watcher works I would think I could wear the smaller sized – they are way out of style – and besides that is how I got to where I am now. I going for that feeling you have now.

  • Congratulations..one of my favourite things to do is go to the dump, it is so liberating chucking all the old junk down into the dumpsters. I once read “A home is a place to keep your stuff while you go out and get/buy more stuff” I try to remember this when I am shopping……..

  • Ya know, this sounds like a PERFECT project for me. I could even get a hazmat/clean room suit from Hubby (works in biopharmaceuticals). This would be perfect…as soon as recover from the surgery I’m having next week, so, say…October. What a great thing to keep me occupied while the kids are in school. If I do a couple of bags a day, I can knit guilt-free! ;->

  • Darn! Missed it by only 2.

  • BWHAHAHA! I called my whole family over to see the rubberband airplane vs kidsilk haze. (I had to explain kidsilk haze). DH immediately started laughing because he remembers 4 years ago when I was looking for some stationery finding my niddy noddy in the bookcase cupboard, broken. The boys were 1 1/2 then.

  • I like Flylady, but in small doses. It’s disconcerting to have messages from her everytime I look in my inbox, telling me to put down my knittin’, get off my a**, and throw something away. 😉

  • I feel your pain. It took roughly 18 hours for me and a friend (who’s practicing to become a Professional Organizer) to clean out my “studio.” It was exhausting work, especially the part where I had to convince her that yes, I really did need all that yarn (she’s clearly not a knitter).
    Congratulations for a job well done!

  • I just got done moving…. so I’ve done a part of the purge thing. I’ve given most of my decent stuff to battered women’s shelters…. these women and children leave with literally the clothes on their back. My stuff is much appreciated there.

  • I’m not sure whether that was inspiring or depressing, as I’m sure I could do at least that much or more – in what is likely a smaller house.
    I wasn’t about to hazard a guess, though, particularly after you reserved the right to send all of it. No glutton for punishment, me.

  • what a coincidence- I’ve just bought myself some shoes to wear to my wedding. They have satin bows. but they’re starting out black. Here’s hoping they’re not 15 years between wearings.

  • I have a bookcase cheat for you. I have grandiose ambitions of having a library room someday and so have tons of books with limited bookcases. Once I went through my books and donated those I no longer wanted to our high school library (I do that every other year or so, it’s amazing what I thought I had to keep two years ago!) I found that if you put some books on each shelf stacked alongside the books normally placed, you can get more books in! And it looks kind of cool, too. I alternate shelves so the stacked books are on one side on one shelf and the other side on the next shelf. Alas, this system is also getting crowded. I’ll just have to buy that new house/add that new room so I can have my library!

  • LOVE the chicken/rooster too. I’m so proud. We purged a lot when we moved, even more when we unpacked and I’m giving all the old size 6’s to Goodwill, since I’m pretty sure the next time I’m a size 6 I’ll be too old to look good in those clothes–sad though!

  • Have you heard of Freecycling? It’s a great thing and I’m sure there’s an egroup there. Perfect way to find wanted homes for your unwanteds. No landfill involved!

  • Would you believe that I bought the exact same shoes from Peter Fox for my weddding in 1989 and died them black, too?! I have worn mine since then, but probably no more than 5 times. Seemed like a good way to rationalize the outrageous cost at the time! Congrats on your progress. Well done.

  • You have earned your black belt in cleaning!
    OMG! Silk’s on a Plane!

  • I have those same shoes, almost wore them to my own wedding but changed at the last moment. Wonder which closet they are in?? Could get rid of them to make room for more yarn.

  • Congrats on purge….
    Just wanted to let you know that Amazon is really easy to use to sell books. I sold a couple shelves worth of books, making a couple of hundred dollars. Sell books to get more yarn $$$$!
    Enjoy the purged space

  • Your joy practically jumps off the page! Congrats and thanks for the motivation.

  • Uh-MAZING!!! I mean, WOW – I wish I could do that!!!
    May I ask a question about your ballband Dishcloth? I’m having problems with the “Slip 1 purlwise” and then in the next row, “Bring yarn forward, slip 1 purlwise, bring yarn back”. I was doing that in the FIRST row with the “Slip 1 purlwise”…so I guess I wasn’t supposed to do it unless you said to?
    Thank You!

  • Oh, one other thing – do you cut the colors every time you switch from A to B, or do you run the colors up the sides to the next bar? I’ve been cutting…

  • Oh lord. I feel sick. I so need to do what you just done but I can’t quite cope with it. I started this morning – 5 bags in 40 mins. Where will this end ??? Hyperventilating. Need more wine …

  • Too funny. I have to tackle the gazillion boxes in our garage sometime this fall and I am DREADING it. Think about 40 hefties. It’s evil. How do two childless 35-year-olds who have rented their entire lives and move across country at least once a year manage to accumulate so much crap? I think I may need the staff of Clean Sweep.

  • Oh Ann! I don’t know when I have laughed so hard! Thank you for sharing your life with all of us! You are truly delightful!!

  • When hubby & I “trash bag clean” he tapes them shut with duct tape (lots of duct tape) so we can’t easily change our minds or go thru the other persons bag when their back is turned to rescue stuff. I’ve learned to cope.

  • Did you really get married in 1783? No wonder you have so much stuff! ; )
    Great job, seriously. I’m so overdue for a similar purge and I’ve only been in this homw for 4 years. Eeeep.

  • Oh my god, those are the same shoes I wore to my 1989 wedding. Hideously expensive Peter Fox pumps with a Louis heel…my mother said I should dye them black too, that is, if they still fit, which they totally don’t after 2 kids. Still, I’ll never get rid of them!

  • You go, girl! I ought to do some weeding out myself. But – we just dropped our son off at college, now I can put my yarn stash in his room. Whoopie! Daughter’s room is reserved for my book stash. All that space…all for me…

  • I’m so inspired, I want to go and purge the whole house right now! Of course, I get sidetracked and would end up looking through the baby books instead.
    I love those shoes. Adore them. They are fabulous! Really, I think you should continue to wear them. Unless they don’t fit or are just not comfortable. Life is too short for uncomfortable shoes.
    Are you sure there aren’t more things in those “total trash” bags that you can’t recycle?

  • good for you! this is why i have a very small house (900 sq ft). it hasn’t stopped us from accumulating crap, but it means we have to go through it and get rid of stuff more often.

  • Hi Ann,
    I’ve just started enjoying your blog and I can’t tell you how much fun I’ve had reading about your cleanout.
    That photo of the cotton balls and your caption is hilarious!!
    By the way, my daughter is leaving for college on Sunday. Could you come by next week with your hazmat suit and garbage bags and give her bedroom the once over? LOL!
    Very best regards!

  • Congratulations on the big cleanout. My husband and I are in the midst of moving our bedroom to the upstairs, which means that all three bedrooms need to be cleaned out and moved around. It’s actually taking all summer.
    Have you discovered BookCrossing (www.bookcrossing.com)? It’s a good way to get rid of books you no longer want. And the great thing is, you can track where they go after they leave your hands.

  • “Collection of cotton balls. Who was collecting cotton balls? Why are these ones special?”
    I lost it right there, and didn’t stop giggling until… well, I’m still giggling. That is so something I’d find while cleaning. Gotta love kids.