Toys that declutter

The O. family, new owners of our big house, report their almost indescribable joy at cooking on an Aga. While I feel a pang at leaving it, I'm glad that the three-story home with two large gardens is now theirs.

We divested at least half of everything we owned to move into our condo; empty drawers and unsquished closets attest to our diligence. (Too good a job, I had to replace two or three small household items.)

Tech toys, which I always thought of as fun and frivolous, turn out to be terrific for keeping clutter to a minimum.
Clutter's little helpers

Though it took a month for me to unbox the Kindle I received for Mother's Day I've realized I don't have to accumulate many books again. The catalog isn't perfect, but here's a way to keep books, always a huge space hog in our place, from encroaching. 

The same with my iPod nano; I'm not such an audio buff that the sound difference between a CD and downloaded sound file bothers me; it's so small I have to make sure I know where I put it! Both were gifts, and while there are cost and obsolescence factors, I appreciate their remarkable storage capability.

Le Duc's library; partial view
Lest you think I'm missing out on the joy of books–their smell, visual appeal and psychic comfort–look at Le Duc's library, and it's just a section. Then there are over 40 boxes of his books still in storage, which he swears he will tackle "soon".

The bugbear of bags and shoes

Jaunty but shoulder-friendly

Like many women, I'd piled up bags, many rarely carried. Lately I've been using one, a Bensimon nylon and leather "Sac Seau" with a wide strap, almost exclusively. Weightless, it bears witness that my days of big leather on the shoulder are over.

Two bags per season are adequate, the rest were just for love of the style or a good buy.

Shoes are harder to purge. I began to pack in late winter, loathe to throw out summer sandals. Now I have several boxes labeled Shoes Not Worn Much, and isn't that the case for 80% of them? Worn by Sept. or out!

When I do consume, I've adopted the One In/One Out Rule. Le Duc is not fully subscribed; he threatens to stockpile incandescent light bulbs

But what's life without a few well-chosen grace notes, whether lightbulbs or pearls?


Susan B said…
Isn't the Kindle fabulous? I love mine, especially for travel. And my iphone also stores my itunes library. I love being able to purchase a single song. (No more buying the CD based on hearing one song only to realize I don't like the rest of them!)

I've been paring down the shoes, and am getting ready to sell some handbags soon. Have too many that just are never used!
Rubi said…
I'll be in your boat soon, Duchesse. MamaRubi and I went over and looked at the storage unit yesterday. Just looked. And I've decided that the goal isn't to empty it completely, just to move into one that is much, much smaller.

I've also made a list of all the professional books that I want to replace digitally. It's surprising, but nearly all of them are available through GoogleBooks or Nook. And I still have a bunch of CDs in physical form, but I'm going to start digitizing them, a few a day, very soon. Most of the more recent music only exists digitally.
LPC said…
"But what's life without a few well-chosen grace notes, whether lightbulbs or pearls?"

Pearl said…
The great thing is that the catalog is not limited: try this site ( for free classic books/out of print books. And I don't know about the Kindle specifically (I have a Nook) but almost all eBooks now come on platforms for e-Pub and Adobe, which are both compatible with my Nook -- try it with the Kindle. And yes, de-clutter heaven for books you might otherwise only read once.
Hooray for "Light bulbs and pearls"
a move must be the best stimulus for de-cluttering.

Are you walking with a lightness in your step these days?
Angel Jem said…
My Kindle has a name and a birthday and I love him.... somedays I spend more time with him that the husband! Love the digital minimalism going on.
laurieann said…
I absolutely must grow up and join the 21st century technologically speaking. No iphone, no ipod, no e-reader; just a MACbook and cell phone I can barely use. An e-reader would be wonderful for travel and also for contemporary fiction books which seem to end up double stacked on my bookshelves (all 16 of them.) And while I still need to live around books I absolutely must make it a priority to de-clutter other surfaces. It would help if my son had a wing of his own; in my fantasy home!
Susan said…
I'm thinking about an Ipad so that I can travel with it instead of my laptop.

I gave my husband a Kindle for his birthday and he loves it. I haven't tried it yet. I keep wondering if I will miss the actual book. I've read that most people do not miss holding a book.
Duchesse said…
unefemme: I use the iPod for entertaining, just hit a playlist and it's done, but do not enjoy moving though the city with earphones in.

Rubi: Storage units are evil; there, you incited me to come out about them.

LPC: The thing in/thing out rule works if you count things in boxes (like the lightbulbs) as one thing.

Pearl: Fantastic tip, thanks so much.

hostess: If my head was not full of irregular verbs, I would be!

Angel Jem: A name, now I want a name for mine...

laurieann: I can remember a time before computers :) The Kindle was a big transformational tool for me. I use my cell phone much less.

Susan: Have you been to the store to play with an iPad? That's apparently when they become irresistible. No, don't miss the books and love the Kindle access. Just wish absolutely every book ever written were available.
Tiffany said…
I'm singing the Kindle love song too ... Although we do still have a library, we now buy only 'special' books.

All our music is now on the iPod; CDs are still in storage, but likely to go soon.

As for handbags, I only have one - is that sad? My grace notes, as you so aptly describe them, are probably all food and kitchen related.
Rubi said…
Back again to suggest that all of you with e-readers check into what your local libraries have available as digital books.

I have a pretty strict rule for myself about not buying "disposable fiction" so as to avoid drowning in books and bankrupting myself at one go -- and I was delighted to learn that I can carry on borrowing a lot of what I want in digital form.

And for classics, most of them are public domain and available free (GoogleBooks, Project Gutenberg, and others).
Beryl said…
After reading about your electronics being presents, I realized that I have never bought any of mine. I have kids and a husband who insist I live in this decade. Even though it took me a while to start with it, I love my Nook. I have it to thank for at least two empty closets that used to hold all the classic books I referenced very rarely. But having to turn it off for take-offs and landing make it very frustrating when I am really into my reading. So I still buy books, but try to get those read and return ones at the airport.
Unknown said…
Both my husband and I have kindles now. They are so useful travelling to France. If you read quickly like I do you can immediately download another as it is impossible to buy good English books here and they are too heavy to carry on plane. Same with iPod we have music where-ever we go.
An aga! Do you know about this book?: Not useful to you now, I suppose, but a great gift for the new owners (not that you need gift them anything at all, obviously).

Actually, as a gift maven, you might be interested to know about Persephone Press who publish the most wonderful books-as-gifts. Sadly, expensive to ship overseas. (I'm not being paid to endorse the press, I was just too excited about a match for the aga book.)
Duchesse said…
Tiffany: One bag! We have too many seasons here for that to work but it's admirable.

Rubi: Thanks for a good idea, did not know libraries offered it.

Beryl" I'm not as annoyed by landing and takeoff restrictions, when I am preparing to meet my Maker anyway.

Chicatanyage: Yes, for travel too.

Dorky: We left our copy for the new owners., plus several other Aga cookbooks now out of print.
Anonymous said…
That's a great bag! Did you buy it online?

Love Le Duc's library. I find great comfort in having my books around and would have a hard time getting rid of them even with the new Kindle/iPad technology.

I'm really impressed at your ability to purge!
Susan Tiner said…
Le Duc's library looks tantalizing.

I have to agree about tech toys solving many clutter issues.
Duchesse said…
Anonymous: I bought the bag locally. We will continue to have books around but just not be buried in them.

Susan Tiner: He will never stop buying books but now sees that he has to pay for storage, so that should cut down his habit.
materfamilias said…
I do enjoy my e-reader (a Kobo), and it will help cut down on the mystery novel and other lighter reading clutter, but I'm still buying books and filling shelves. And I still enjoy CDs, although many times I'm happy to just add singles onto my iPod from iTunes. I do try to stick to a One in/One out policy, though . . .
Mardel said…
I love the kindle. Although I still have and probably will have books, I have been primarily reading new things digitally, and I love that my iPhone stores my itunes library. Increasingly I would rather my grace notes be pretty baubles, so even the books will get another round of weeding.

I'm starting to eliminate shoes again, and handbags, but I suspect many things will move with me and it is only after I am in my new location that I will know what really works and what doesn't.
Duchesse said…
Mardel: I fondly suggest you be ruthless with the weeding, IF you are moving to a smaller place. (This is what a friend advised me and she was right!) Can't even recall what I used to own. I enjoyed finding new homes for the stuff, and the uncluttered life is far more valuable than any item.
Mardel said…
THanks, I AM moving to a smaller space, and I would like to start out with it only being half-full or less so I am planning pretty ruthless weeding. I'm not at the books yet, I'm tackling my accumulated stash of sewing and knitting stuff and am amazed at how ruthless I can be, and how good it feels to be rid of things. I want to feel like I am starting fresh.
Duchesse said…
Mardel: Starting fresh is it exactly! I bought all new sheets and towels. It was important to have a few beloved things from our home of 25 years, but we also bought some interesting new pieces to fit the space. We are simply delighted with the decluttered place and are keeping it that way. no more shopping bags folded up and stored, newspapers kept to read at an unspecified date or objects kept just because my mother gave them to me.

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