Culling cookbooks


That’s the sound of a long, long day of culling our cookbooks.

David thought it would be a good idea to clean out the pantry this weekend. We’ve got a small walk-in pantry closet with shelves on two sides, which is a boon as we have a pretty small kitchen (10 ft x 10 ft) for a house this size. The pantry serves all kinds of purposes – it even holds brooms on the back of the door! – and has a pretty well-defined setup.

  • Top left: Extra bulk-purchased supplies like paper towels and ziploc bags, as well as our raclette cooker (and a coffee maker for guests)
  • Left shelf #2: Beverages! Besides hot chocolate mix, Ovaltine, and Torani syrups, we have enough flavors of tea for a variety of tastes.
  • Left shelf #3: Canned goods
  • Left shelf #4: Spices, spice mixes, etc.
  • Left shelf #5: Lunch boxes and water bottles
  • Left side floor: Reusable shopping bags and a tub of dog treats

I am fully aware this is more detail than anyone desires. I’m going to continue recording this for posterity, though!

  • Top right: Snow cone maker and supplies, milkshake maker, giant tub of cookie cutters
  • Right shelf #2: Pasta, rice, baking mixes
  • Right shelves #3 & 4: Cookbooks
  • Right shelf #5: All Q’s baking doodads (cookie cutters, food coloring, icing bags, etc.), as well as the pancake griddle
  • Right shelf floor: Basket of paper plates and cups, paper bag filled with paper bags

Now, back to the cookbooks! I love them, because as you all well know, I collect books on areas of my life that need improvement, as though the books themselves will miraculously change me. Our cookbook collection was purged ten years ago when we moved here, and again about four years ago before we went to Europe. Today, however, we got serious.


After cooking with Blue Apron for the last six months, David and I have realized the difference between cookbooks we would use and those that just collect dust. We like cookbooks to have photos, step-by-step directions, and suggested side dishes. David, especially, likes recipes that are a little different. We like to use fresh ingredients, rather than start with, say, a can of Cream of Mushroom soup. We sorted out those types of cookbooks and ended up with one shelf of books we’d look at to plan regular meals.

The second shelf is more “specialty” stuff: various foreign cuisines, desserts (cookies, especially, for Q), party cookbooks (tapas, fondue), and cookbooks of sentimental value.

David has been “mathing it up” all day, telling me that we still need to get rid of all but five of the cookbooks since we have more recipes than we could ever need, numerically. I, on the other hand, am quite pleased with myself, as I have culled an entire shelf and filled a box to take to Powell’s to sell. It was difficult; I got rid of quite a few I thought I couldn’t part with, and there were quite a few times today that I wanted to quit. This kind of purge stresses me out quite a bit. But I persevered!

Next step: meal planning and cooking. Let’s see if we can break away from the support of having food magically appear à la Blue Apron and make it happen all on our own.

Lighting a fire under our behinds

Fire in Dumpster

David and I are not what you’d call high-energy people. We are more like laid-back-borderline-slug people. Since we are both pretty complacent, neither one of us can really get the other one motivated. This can be detrimental to our ever actually getting anything accomplished.

Take our bedroom (please). When all the eBay and garage sale stuff was being sorted and sold, our bedroom became a combination staging area and junk heap. Boxes of excess stuff, laundry baskets full of clean clothes that needed to be put in the dressers we couldn’t quite get to, piles of papers that had been hastily piled on the floor since it was bedtime … and who sorts papers on the bed, anyway? (Lori raises her hand.)

So after the garage sale 12 days ago, we were dying to restore our bedroom to its former just-kind-of-messy glory. But did we? No. David had a game day or two, I went out with friends an evening or two, we worked on other rooms (six carloads have been brought to Goodwill so far, and we are still going strong). Every night, we managed to find something better to do.

Finally, this morning, I asked David what we needed to do to actually rescue the bedroom. I mentioned that if $100,000 were at stake, I could clean the place up in no time, but that otherwise I couldn’t seem to tackle it. He decided that we should pretend that we are going to have house guests arriving any day now who are going to be sleeping in our room, and we have to have it ready to go by this weekend.

So after leg therapy tonight, I dove in. Luckily the Blazers made the fourth quarter of their game against the Clippers virtually unwatchable so I wasn’t tempted by the television. I filled another Goodwill box with clothes. I recycled an entire wastebasketful of magazines without reading them. I reorganized my bookcase so I could fit my magazine basket on one shelf instead of on the floor beside my bed. I folded and put away two loads of laundry. I was on fire.

Am I done? No way. But I made a start, and I am proud of what I accomplished. That’s a pretty successful evening, if you ask me!

Photo by Ben Watts – thank you!

Daily Check-In:

  • I’m grateful! for the chance to hang out with Deb and Beth tonight!
  • I’m lighter! by a big pile of clothes in the Goodwill box and another big pile in the garbage. You know it’s sad when you have been wearing clothes that you then determine are too scruffy to give to Goodwill.

Paper grows on trees around here

Paper Weaving
Photo by FeatheredTar

David says that I have an addiction to wood products. If you can make it out of wood, I can’t get enough. You’ve heard about my many linear feet of books and my baskets and piles of magazines, but here today we shall be looking at wood products in their most basic form: paper.

Ah, yes. Paper, glorious paper. My old nemesis. Paper bands itself together into piles and sneaks up on me wherever it finds a flat surface, a spare dishpan, or a tote bag. I fight back, but there is only so much I can do before it has me surrounded. It comes in many disguises:

  • Newspaper. I have to cancel it when the pile I have not yet read (“processed,” really, much like the magazines, although I don’t usually save the clippings) exceeds the allotted space on the end table which holds it.
  • Clippings / Interesting stuff. Why, I ask you, do I save this? Why do I have file folders filled with every interesting thing I have ever read? Because I am in love, I tell you, with the written word, and parting with any words I found particularly good is tough.
  • Memorabilia. I have letters people have written me, dating back to grade school. Greeting cards, if they have more than just “Love, Aunt Jane” written in them. Homework Quinland has done. Classwork (read “busywork”) Quinland has done. Virtually every painting or drawing Quinland has done. Homework and artwork I did back in the day. Certificates, brochures, ticket stubs… you name it. All of it is earmarked as scrapbook fodder. As I have turned memorabilia into scrapbooks, I have found it easy to cull what will not fit and let it go, but not before that. Until I actually scrap the page, I feel a need to hang on to all that possibility.
  • Greeting cards. New ones. Unused. Ready to be sent. I do use them; I just don’t use them fast enough. I have slowed the influx tremendously, but the backlog is astounding. I have a cabinet in the office filled with nothing but greeting cards, and I have already donated a bunch to the local senior center.
  • Blank books. You know, journals, sketchbooks, etc. I have an entire drawer filled with them. (Why? Because back when I was a compulsive shopper, I found the particular kind I liked and bought all I could find in case I could never find them again. I don’t do that kind of thing any more. Most of the new and unused stuff you hear about here was bought at that time, not recently.)
  • Old bills and receipts. I am slowly culling out the seriously old stuff, though it is itching to be transformed into memorabilia. I started using the Freedom Filer system about three years ago and it has really helped me to let go of old receipts.
  • Stationery in general. Talk about paper in its most basic form – I’ve got it. Binder paper. Copy paper. Cardstock. Graph paper. Story paper with the space at the top for a drawing. Notepads (a desk drawer full). Fancy stationery with matching envelopes. Index cards (a shoebox full). Post it notes (a shoebox not-quite-full). Labels (another desk drawer full). File folders. Hanging file folders. Mailing envelopes.

Sigh.  I know that facing one’s problems is half the battle, but when I see it all in print like this, it looks simultaneously hopeless and ridiculous.  I guess I have to take heart and trust that this is a good first step.  I’ll release some paper clutter tonight and see if that feels better.

Do you have troubles with paper?  What is your clutter nemesis?

  • {Clutter} released: One big stack of cardstock and a stack of story paper from the playroom / soon-to-be scrapbook room.