My last post was about giving away useful stuff (coats, curtains, rugs…) but I also found at least 6 kinds of hidden things that were pretty frivolous.

  1. Nerf Guns: Several years ago one of our children bought each family member a Nerf gun as a gag gift for Christmas (since we had a reputation for being pacifists). We had fun with them during the holidays but most were left at our house. I found them stored under a bed. Solution: Offer them to a family up the block with a bunch of kids who often play ball in the street. (It’s a dead end street.) After checking with their mom if it was OK, I was happy they had a new home. (Click to enlarge photos)
  2. Halloween costumes: What were a lion, bear, clown, devil, and witch doing in my closet? Waiting for next Halloween of course. BUT, our kids are grown and even our out of town grandkids are too big for many of these costumes. Most of them were home made so they had sentimental value, but no immediate use. Then voila! Solution: I heard a bunch of younger kids playing at the end of our block and asked if they were interested? The kids tried on the costumes right away and neighbors told me they saw a bear cub running around that afternoon. Yea!
  3. Big Old Wardrobe Box: Now that I had given away the Halloween costumes and winter jackets, I was left with a 3+ foot wardrobe box. I figured I’d just break down the cardboard for recycling. But one of our kids said, “Remember how much fun we had playing with old boxes!” I started looking for neighborhood kids to pass the box on to. Maybe kids don’t play with boxes anymore. I’m still looking. Meanwhile, I’m just calling this my “Lion, Witch, and Wardrobe” phase.
  4. Frames: How many unused picture frames does any house need? Surely not 24. Solutions:
    -5 extra family photos (relocated to appropriate memorabilia boxes)
    -3 landscape paintings (given to a new neighbor for decorating)
    -16 empty but usable frames (will take them to a 2nd hand store)
    -10+ misc. parts (put in trash)
  5. Medicine/Linen Closet: In addition to a few expired medicines, I found 5 large plastic bags (dry cleaning and blanket bags). Plastic bags are anathema to me for environmental reasons. I’m trying to drastically reduce my use of Single Use Plastics (see Reducing SUPs #3). I also found a bunch of cosmetic puffs. Hmmm, I haven’t needed anything dry-cleaned or used enough make-up to require special puffs in at least a decade. So what am I to do? Solutions: Keep them and use them a 2nd or 3rd time. I can use the plastic bags to store things or carry stuff to folks. I found the facial puffs work very well to clean bathroom crevices instead of reaching for a Kleenex.
  6.  Trinkets: For years I’ve collected swag from conferences and trips (key chains, pins, political buttons, costume jewelry, tiny toys…). When kids visit I invite them to choose a trinket. However, the trinket baskets had just become one giant mess, so I  organized them into categories and discarded the junk. I now only have 123 items (225 if you count each pin and hair tie separately). How would you share these?


  1. Lent needn’t be all Sorrow and Sacrifice: When hearing my joy upon finding neighbor kids to pass on the Nerf guns and costumes to, one son commented to me that I seemed too happy. Wasn’t Lent supposed to be about pain, fasting, and giving up? Sure, it all took some effort, but finding good homes for stuff I no longer needed did bring joy. We live in a mixed socio-economic neighborhood and it also helped me get to know some of my neighbors a little better who have a different background than me.
  2. Look around. Open my ears: With these cold Covid days of physical distancing, I’ve stayed inside a lot, focused mostly on Zoom meetings. Opening my eyes and ears to what’s happening just within my one block and ways I could help, was an eye opener.
  3. Reuse: In my ongoing effort to simplify my possessions and life, I’ve focused a lot on giving things away. Now I’m trying to remember to reuse or repair stuff (like plastic bags and mending tears) which also reduces what comes into our home.