Living Lightly

Susan Vogt on living more simply but abundantly

Browsing Posts published by Susan Vogt

Days 365+126 windows in garage croppedWe live in an old house. We love it but part of being old means that the window were not energy efficient. We had storm windows but they were a pain to put in and out each year. We finally made the commitment to replace all of the 100+ year old windows. It took awhile and was a big investment but we’re glad we did it.

Of course we then had 19 windows, storm windows, and screens to dispose of. After checking around we found an organization ReUse Centers that takes material headed for the dumpster and re-uses them to help others build homes who might not otherwise be able to afford it. The ReUse Center partners with Reset Ministries  to train individuals in repairs and by providing them with guided work experience.Days 365+126 windows storm

What has this taught me?

  1. Respect for skilled labor – It takes a lot of knowledge and skill to do quality workmanship in home repair.
  2. Patience – Most home repair takes longer than originally planned.
  3. Sometimes you have to spend in order to save – Although it cost a lot of money which we will probably not totally recoup in our lifetime, it does save energy and lowers our heating bills.
  4. Days 365+126 windows into ReUse truckThere’s a lot of good people around trying to help people get a leg up. Every city may not have a handy ReUse Center, but just the fact that a few years ago somebody saw the need to keep building supplies out of landfills, matched it with providing used but serviceable materials to builders plus a training program for the unemployed or underemployed means that people are looking for worthy things to do. Perhaps you are already involved in such an entrepreneurial project. Perhaps you’re a person who has the skill and time to start one. Everybody can do something – even if it’s just to identify a need and urge someone else to meet it.

I’m a little late with my bi-weekly blog but it’s planting season and the weather won’t wait.

Days 365+125 sewing machine croppedRecently a friend returned a sewing machine I had lent her about 20 years ago. This is nice but I gave the old one away because I needed a machine that could do a zigzag stitch for knits. The returned machine still works well so I did my own version of Craig’s list and put out an email to friends who might want a machine but didn’t need it to do fancy stuff. Success! A friend knew a friend who teaches women how to do quilts. An extra machine would be handy. Isn’t it nice when the informal economy works. People having stuff know people who need stuff.  Freecycle is a more organized version of this but personally knowing someone is nice. Of course this means one has to be rubbing shoulders with folks that have needs. How do you come into contact with folks who may need things you have?

A variation on this theme is my experience with household repair tools. As a Christmas gift to Jim, I had agreed to organize his tools. It took some time but fed into my love of organizing. Of course the natural result is that I found a number of duplicates and even triplicates. Even after allowing for a few extras in case of breakage, losing a tool, or lending some out, we still had the following to give away.Days 365+124 tools

  • 1 electric drill with bits
  • 4 pliers
  • 1 wrench
  • 4 screw drivers

Since the drill was substantive I did the email to friends and nobody bit, BUT they did have advice. Why not give the tools to Habitat for Humanity’s ReStores  which are nonprofit home improvement stores and donation centers that sell new and gently used furniture, appliances, home accessories, and building materials to the public at a fraction of the retail price. Most medium sized cities have one.

Again, a win/win/win situation. I clear out extra stuff, someone gets a needed tool, and I feel good. What are some good places you’ve found to take household goods you no longer need?



OK, technically, I did finish cleaning my desk up by Easter, BUT I conveniently omitted the fact that the file cabinet next to my desk had a lot of paper clutter and odds and ends on top of it too. I had intended that to be part of my Lenten clean up but just didn’t get around to it. Now I finally had some open time so I tackled it.

I found:
*cell phones & equipment (batteries, instructions, cords for old phones)
*old but usable greeting cards
*miscellaneous files (including background on a homeless couple who stayed with us 6 years ago)



*a lot of dust

It took me about 3 hours to sort through the papers but I think the research I did about what to do with unused cell phones will be more useful to you.

4 Things To Do With Old Cell Phones:
1. Re-purpose it.
Ting  offers some creative uses.
2. Give it to Charity.
Treehugger  lists a number of charities that can use cell phones.
3. Recycle it.
Best Buy was the easiest place for me. (They also take old plastic cards like credit cards.) Click here  for other possibilities.
4. Sell it. Days 365+123 Lent lingers cell phones
Unfortunately, with the rapid enhancements in cell phones, my older phones weren’t good enough for Gazelle . CNET  gives additional ideas for getting cash for your phone. For a video about how this works, click here  (The families featured in the video haven’t caught the “Living Lightly” bug yet, but at least they’re not throwing their old phones in the garbage. BUT, don’t be too quick to sell. Read these cautions about giving away important private info to buyers

1 Thing NOT To Do With Old Cell Phones
Throw them in the garbage. See Why.l

I still have piles of paper on our ping-pong table, aka expanded desk space, but that’ll have to wait for another weekend…or another Lent.

Days 365+120 Lent medical filesMy Lent 2016 resolve was twofold:

  • Paper Reduction. Starting with my desk and including my “desk extensions” (3 file cabinets and the Ping Pong table), my goal was to reduce the paper. The connection to my spiritual life was that I figured clearing the extraneous paper that crowded my life would make me more productive and help me focus on what was really important.
  • Listening Better, i.e Speech Reduction. Since paper reduction didn’t seem quite spiritual enough, I added a resolve to focus on being more mindful of the sacredness of people I interact with each day. This meant listening to others more closely rather than what I had to say. Spiritually, I continue to struggle with pride and self-importance. I figured that focusing on the other would move me toward humility.

How did I do? Although I made some progress, it was not nearly what I had planned – unless you consider not meeting my goals a movement toward humility. 😕 As with any conscious effort to grow, however, I did learn some things.

1.  To avoid endless procrastination, choose a:

  • Doable task – Breaking a goal into small steps is better than aiming to eliminate world hunger. Make it something you can measure and succeed at. Reducing ALL my extraneous papers including my file cabinets was too big to do in six weeks. Even limiting it to my desk was ambitious, but doable.
  • Date to start – Pick a time that you have a reasonable chance of being able to start. Sure, life might interfere with an unexpected crisis that changes your schedule, but choose a date that has a good chance of being available – as we say in Kentucky, “God willin’ and the crick don’t rise.” Ash Wednesday made sense to start a Lenten project; but it was undoable since I was out of town.
  • Length of time – If you know you only want to spend 30 minutes, 1 hour, or half a day doing a project pick something that can reasonably be done within that time. Of course you can always extend the time if you’re on a roll and don’t have another commitment looming, but making the task too open-ended can keep you from starting. On days I only had an hour, I picked small “mini drawers” to review. I saved the monster file drawer for an open Saturday.
  • Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Yes, it would be best to pick a doable task, a start date, and an acceptable length of time, but sometimes life isn’t that neat. Eventually, I decided to just start because if I waited for the perfect time and task, I would lose another week. I decided on one small drawer and 15 minutes. It motivated me to go on – later.

2. Start With Empty. Although it can be daunting, it ended up being more efficient to empty a whole drawer or closet and put back only those things I wanted to keep. Not only did it give me the opportunity to clean the space, but I found hidden items tucked away in corners. Most important, I had to make a conscious decision about each thing I decided to return to the space.

3. Sorting Paper Can Be a Spiritual Experience. Going through my old papers became an exercise in deciding what was trivial and passing from what was important and enduring. It was like a mini life review. I noticed people on my Rolodex who had died, businesses that had closed, people who had moved. I noticed that somethings I once thought were important to save were now obsolete or I could get the information online – like old computer manuals and directories. I wonder what things I think are very important to do today, may change as my life circumstances change. See Cleaning My Desk 1  and Dancing & Desk Cleaning 3.  Other papers were sentimental but there was not a need to keep them. I just needed time to be emotionally ready to let them go.

4. Let Go of Guilt. Guilt can be motivating, but often it just blocks energy needed to act. Rather than wallow in guilt about not being able to start on Ash Wednesday, I started a week late. Rather than beat myself up for not doing this summary on Easter, I’m two weeks late. Rather than give up, I’m still blogging. It’s OK. I’m learning to prioritize the important tasks from the less important ones. It also may be a sign that not only is it necessary to let go of guilt but also to let go of some things on my “To Do” list. Sorting the less important from the essential is a life skill that goes beyond paper reduction.

Days 365+117 ear5. Listening Takes Repetition. I like to think of myself as a good listener. After all I’m a trained counselor. Still, it’s hard to put aside my own agenda and really be present to another human. But, I had a plan. Each morning I would review the people I would likely see that day. Since our kids are sprung and I work at home, this was a small number. Some days I don’t even need to go out of the house so I included phone calls. I also included clerks at stores or a restaurant I might be at. I intended to look at each person mindfully and listen fully to what they said, even if it was just, “Have a good day.” Time after time, I would leave a store or a meeting and realize I had forgotten. Unfortunately I received a physical prompt when I got “airplane ear” after a trip (see Listen Up) Perhaps my difficulty hearing people could be a reminder to listen more closely. It helped but changing a habit takes a lot of repetition. With each day’s renewed resolve fewer opportunities slipped by, but it’s a slow learning curve.

6. Always Have Something To Do While on Hold. I am often on the phone with service personnel trying to figure out bills, internet glitches, etc. I’m also aware that as helpful as the internet can be to modern life, things like social media and promotional emails can be time hogs. No matter how lovely the music, rather than listening to it while I’m waiting for the support person to get back to me, I’ve found it more useful to spend that time checking websites that I don’t normally take the time to read.

Another weekend, another excuse. This past weekend out of town travel kept me from continuing to clean out my desk. After returning home and doing the obligatory catch up from the meeting and addressing the coming week’s priorities, I decided to attack the low hanging fruit – stuff on top of my roll-top desk. This included:Days 365+120 Lent medical files

  • Books: I decided that only reference books deserved to be within arm’s reach. Therefore, my “read sometime” books got demoted to other book shelves. This means they may never get read but at least they aren’t taking up valuable real estate on my desk.
  • Medical Reports: We changed from Humana Medicare to Aetna Medicare on January 1. I had always been annoyed by the unnecessary paper that Humana mailed to me each month but didn’t want to take the time to prune through it or call and complain. This made it easy, just pitch 4 inches of paper reports. So far Aetna has not been inundating me with superfluous paper.
  • Days 365+120 Lent Notes to self cropped107 Miscellaneous notes to self: I have a small tin that I’ve been keeping important and/or interesting scraps of paper in for the past 5 years. They were neat, but 107 are too many to sort through even if I could remember what I wrote. I discarded 72. Of the remaining ones, I grouped 17 into Marriage, Parenting, or Meeting ideas. I saved the essence of some of the discarded ones to computer files. Ah, this feels more manageable.
  • Days 365+120 Lent Misc croppedBox, Book End, and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TMC): I’m moving the box and book end to other parts of the house. I pitched the little TMC acupuncture “thingies.” They were 10 years old and for back pain. I’ve been pain free for awhile.


  1. Know thyself. Admit that I’m more of an article reader than a book reader and pass the books on.
  2. Let go of unrealistic expectations. Although, I had hoped to not only clean out my desk this Lent but also go through my file cabinets. I’ve barely finished my desk and there are just 3 days to go. It’s OK. Although moving can force pruning, for those of us who have lived in one place for a long time, getting rid of the accumulation can also take a long time.
  3. Getting rid of stuff takes time but the process can be sweet. It took me about an hour to go through the 107 notes. Lest you think this was time wasted, I am pleased to report that most of the time was spent on hold with several medical providers who were trying to help me resolve an overcharge on a bill. Bottom line: Always have something to do while on hold. Checking Facebook is another use for “hold” time. On the other hand, spending some time with old inspirational notes was, well, inspirational.

Days 365+119 Lent contra dance swapI’ve been saving pruning my desk files for a weekend – when I have more time. Unfortunately/Fortunately this past weekend was Pig Town Fling – an annual weekend contradance which “required” my full presence and hosting 5 people. My nod to giving stuff away took the form of donating 2 contra dresses to the dress swap and restraining myself from taking 2 dresses in exchange.

Today I tackled the job I’ve been avoiding – going through my work files which are in neat but stuffed hanging folders in my final desk drawer. It was prompted by a meeting with our accountant to prepare our taxes. This meant I had to go through my 2015 tax records. It’s done but I learned a few things about taxes and old files.

  1. Days 365+119 Lent tax forms & tapesTax receipts: I don’t need tax receipts from 2004. In fact, the IRS says I really only need the last 3 years of receipts. I decided to keep the last 4 years, just to be safe. That cleared a lot of space.
  2. When it’s old but you’re not ready: I found outlines from talks I gave over 10 years ago – all neatly ordered by date of course. I should throw everything out that’s over 5 years since most of it is on my computer anyway, but I’m a wimp and keep thinking I might want to refer to them. Solution – at least move them to the back of the drawer and label anything over 2 years “Archives.” When I’m braver, I’ll toss them.
  3. Decide when to be strong and let go: I don’t need “To Do” lists that are 2 – 20 years old? To be fair, these weren’t active “To Do” lists but often contained notes, old rosters, and other miscellaneous gems. I toughed it out and tossed them.
  4. Some decisions are easy: Miscellaneous conference programs from organizations that I am not currently involved with are not necessary to keep. Who would have thought?
  5. Let go of the pride that makes me think others want my old stuff. Tapes (I mean actual cassette tapes) of talks I gave back when cassette tapes were modern technology, could be discarded guilt free. But wait! What if I become famous and my grandchildren want to hear my actual voice after I die? Be strong, Susan, let it go. They won’t have cassette players around to play them on anyway.

This continues to be an experience of noticing that many things that seemed important to save in one decade, lose significance over time. The art is to notice what has lasting value and what does not. People are important, not the symbols of one’s accomplishments (or mistakes). In time my loved ones and I myself will pass away. The important thing is how I spend my time and relate to people now.

Days 365+117 earThis past week I was away at a meeting so I didn’t have time to go through my remaining desk drawers. I figured I’d focus on my companion Lenten resolution – to listen more mindfully.

On the last leg of my flight to Louisiana my ears popped. You know, that uncomfortable feeling that you sometimes get when a plane is landing and your ears don’t quite adjust to the changing pressure. No big deal, I figured I’d get my normal hearing back soon, certainly within a day. I was wrong. Although I could hear, it always felt like one of my ears was hearing through a fog. This was annoying but not a deal breaker. I kept waiting for the fog to lift and occasionally it would, but then it would come back.

Now, 1 week and doctor visit later, I still have my plugged ear. The doctor called it a sinus infection and ordered some medication. Nothing has changed yet – EXCEPT my attitude. For awhile I would whine to myself wondering when my hearing would get back to normal – certainly any day now. In the meantime I gave myself permission to rest and delay work projects. Then I realized that:

  1. I was lucky to still be able to hear. Some people are deaf.
  2. Even though I still have a cough, I don’t feel miserable.
  3. Eventually my ear will clear up. Stop complaining that it’s not on my time schedule. I don’t have anything crucial scheduled for another week.
  4. Oh yes, and about that listening thing – maybe I can turn this hearing loss to my advantage. I can consider it a physical prompt for me to listen more closely to others. Probably it’s just coincidental that it is happening at the same time I’m trying to make a conscious effort to listen better, but sometimes grace is in the mind of the beholder. The insight to look upon this annoyance as a temporary (I presume) gift can be work of the Spirit. I don’t think God wants us humans to suffer, but since some suffering in life is inevitable, reflecting on the meaning of it has helped me to let go of fretting about my hearing and to use it in a positive way.
Days 365+119 Lent old computer stuff

mostly paper to recycle

So, one week later, I’m home and looking at my lower left desk cabinet. It’s not too stuffed. Surely I can at least tackle that. I did – and found:

  • 2 more obsolete directories
  • 2 files of computer and internet directions from about 2005
  • Several more instruction manuals to computers and other electronic devices I no longer own
  • A Netgear wireless adapter. I’m not sure what it does but my son tells me I don’t need it.

Lessons learned:
1. Listen up
2. The computer industry seems determined to aid my decluttering by making most things obsolete by the time I find where I stored them.



I finally made the time to work on my Lenten commitment to clean out the paper clutter in my life, especially around my desk. It took me 2 ½ weeks to start because I knew cleaning off my desk would be a big project and I had other priorities. This weekend, however, provided some free time. For perspective, the first picture at right is the before photo of my desk.

First, I took everything off the desk. This is what scared me because I knew those files and stacks and scraps of paper had information that needed organizing not just a sweep into the paper recycling bin. This would take time. In fact it took about 2 hours to take everything off the desk (Disclaimer, I didn’t tackle the bottom drawers yet.) and about 4 hours to go through the remaining stuff on the surface and 9 mini drawers.



This turned out to be an exercise in sorting trivia from what’s important. I suppose that’s similar to life in general. My findings and prunings may seem inconsequential at first glance but upon reflection I’m struck by how many things seemed important to store and keep when I got this desk about 10 years ago and now are useless. For example, I found and discarded:

  • Directories from past jobs, some over 20 years old
  • 2 ink cartridges from a printer that I haven’t had for 10 years.
  • Computer camera that I replaced several years ago
  • The “New User Edition” for Quicken 2003.
  • Paper manuals for Windows XP and Windows 98 SE
  • Paper instructions for installing drivers/utilities/operating instructions for a Dell computer that I no longer own.
  • 14 discs for obsolete computers or programs. (I discarded these after consulting my son and some other young adults who confirmed that I’d never need them. It’s all online now.)
  • 64 business cards for people I can’t remember. (This was about half my cards)

What took a little longer was dealing with 9 scraps of paper that looked like they were cluttering my desk. Actually, I had very intentionally left these in the middle of my work space because each one required some attention. Now I was forced to do something with them, like:

  • I typed some of the information into related computer files
  • One was a reminder to make an eye appointment, so I stopped procrastinating and just did it.
  • File the Christmas gift warranty in our warranty file.
  • Put several items on my master “To Do” list.


The 9 mini drawers were relative easy because they were, well, “mini.” Mostly I reorganized them a little and updated their labels.

Then I hunkered down for the big job – those folders. This took the most time but I disciplined myself to only keep the folders I actively use on my desk. The rest can go into file cabinets – once I get to pruning them out, but that’s for another weekend, maybe another Lent. We’ll see.

8 Things I learned through this process:

  1. I was right. It did take a long time. It’s good I waited till I had a hunk of time. It would have been hard to continue my work with files in disarray.
  2. I cut myself a break. I quickly saw that if I wanted to deal with the paper on top of my desk, in the bottom drawers, on the Ping-Pong table, on top of the file cabinets etc. it would keep me from starting. I decided that the stack of monthly medical reports and other misc. paper would just have to wait – another example of the perfect being the enemy of the good.
  3. It feels satisfying to have my main work space orderly. It’s a good feeling; sort of like the feeling after going to confession. I often resist doing it, but when it’s over, I feel like a fresh human being.
  4. Most paper over 10 years old can be tossed. (exceptions: documents and stuff that I will use again, although most of this is probably on my computer now.)
  5. Computer related stuff (manuals, paraphernalia, etc.) have an even shorter life span.
  6. Only by emptying everything out would I have found some of the obsolete items tucked away in corners.
  7. Perspective. Although it took time to go through old business cards, directories, and files, it was an exercise in reviewing my life. I thought about the people I once worked with and the projects that seemed so important at the time. I found myself pondering whether what I’m working on now is worthy of my time? What is necessary but will fade in importance over time?
  8. I will never be 100% done. New papers will spontaneously generate to take the place of my bare center desk surface. But that’s OK. I have a bit better system to deal with it now. I still have those other papers (outside of the photo range) to challenge me during the rest of Lent.

So is this a worthy Lenten effort. I think so. I’m reminding myself to notice what’s trivial and what’s of lasting importance. I’m continuing to focus on being fully present to people who cross my path each day and to listen closely to them. Some times it’s working.

We’re one week into Lent and I haven’t even started. Oh sure, I’ve not eaten sweets (except on Sunday 🙂 ), but I haven’t started what I planned to do – clean up my paper clutter. My excuse? I’ve been preparing for work travel, traveling, and catching up from travel. All necessary things but still, Lent doesn’t move itself around to accommodate my schedule. How inconsiderate.

Days 365+69a ADAD-Ash WedBut what is the purpose of Lent anyway? Ultimately, it’s a time to enter into the journey of Jesus, especially as he faces his passion and the purpose of his life. It’s a time to take stock of my life and how well I’m following His lead. Will clearing out paper do it?

Even though I’ve been thinking a lot about Lent, I haven’t done anything yet – at least not what I planned. In hindsight, after I let go of my guilt, I realized that I’ve been spending myself in the service of others. I’ve been trying to focus on what they need – not what would make a nice theme and photo for my blog. Maybe Lent for me this year is about letting go of my self-imposed deadlines and projects and focusing on the needs of others. Maybe it wasn’t a wasted week.

But back to paper. I decided to clean out a lot of the paper clutter in my life because it was getting in the way of being able to find things. I was also feeling messy. I wasn’t at peace with my work space. I knew it would be a good decluttering project, but did it really rise to the level of being a spiritual Lenten effort – or was it just a way to justify a cleaning project. How would my clearing unnecessary paper from my life be of any benefit to others? (other than my heirs when I die)Days 365+117 ear

I decided to pair it with Listening – listening more closely to others. Listening doesn’t take any paper. It just takes being truly present to the person I am with in person, phone, or electronically.

Days 365+117 Lent desk cropped

Click to enlarge

I also analyzed why I didn’t think I had time to start my Paper-Less-Lent on Ash Wednesday. I realized that it just felt like too big a job. It would take me hours to go through the folders on my desk, even longer for a file cabinet drawer. So I procrastinated.

Solution: take one folder or small drawer at a time. I counted over 40 desk spaces, file cabinet drawers, and  piles of paper on the Ping-Pong table. I’m going to try to take my own advice:


  1. Take it in small steps. If my day is full of outside responsibilities, pick a small drawer or limit the amount of time (perhaps an hour).
  2. Empty the space first. Ideally I would take everything off my desk surface first. It would look so clean! But I knew that it would take the better part of a day to deal just with this space. That kept me from starting. So I reminded myself to start small (See #1) and just start (See #3.
  3. Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Doing one small drawer is better than nothing. One hour is better than no hour. Daily is good, but not the hill I need to die on.
  4. People are more important than things. Even though it would warm my organizer’s heart to have a clear desk surface, it is more important to be present to the messiness of life and the human beings who pass through mine. Our kids always come first. If they need something, I’ll stop my work to look for that old photo our one son is seeking. It’s harder though to be patient with a klutzy motorist or listen to an annoying or longwinded acquaintance who mostly wants some attention,
  5. Let go of the guilt when I don’t meet my goal of cleaning at least one paper space a day or listening with mindfulness to the store clerk I just treated brusquely or the panhandler I passed by with anonymity.
  6. Don’t fret about the old photos yet. Save that for another year.
Days 365+117 Lent desk mini drawer

Click to enlarge

Paper: I went through 4 “mini desk drawers” before I found anything to discard.

  • Out of 225 old rolodex cards only 5 were worth keeping (70 were from a place I lived 34 years ago, 74 were from a job I quit 11 years ago. 70 were blank,
  • Out of 18 plastic cards (library, insurance, credit etc.) only 12 were still active.
  • Put 15 deposit slips from a bank we no longer use in recycling.

Listening: Not counting my husband, so far today I made a conscious effort to listen closely to one friend.

Seeking your comments on:
How do you deal with feeling overwhelmed by paper?
What do you do when you have a good intention but find it difficult to carry it out?

PS: In Laudato Si Pope Francis says, “These problems [pollution and climate change] are closely linked to a throwaway culture… To cite one example, most of the paper we produce is thrown away and not recycled.” (#22) So perhaps my focus on paper (all of which I’m recycling) does not lack a spiritual dimension. Everything is connected.

dollar signAt my stage of life (children sprung, I work at home) I don’t need to buy stuff as often as I did when our kids were outgrowing clothes and I needed an office wardrobe. Bottom line – I don’t do much shopping. However, underwear does wear out and thus I embarked on what I thought would be a simple quest – socks. After years of darning my socks when they got holes in them, I had a modest mission – buy about 6 pairs of warm, black, sturdy crew socks. My goal was to get some all purpose socks that I could wear with jeans or dressy black slacks. Since I had these specific criteria, I thought I’d by-pass the local discount stores and go to several medium priced stores – a shoe store and a department store.

I quickly learned that my basic black socks were going to be a challenge. Apparently many stores find that they can entice women to buy more socks if they specialize – different lengths, different colors, different designs – all of them thin. Since I was in the mall anyway, I ended up checking 10 different stores plus 2 more on my drive home. None had the basic black thick socks I wanted.

So, I did what many people do as their first step – I checked Amazon. They had some that might work, but I couldn’t tell from the pictures whether they were really thick and warm. I checked some other online stores. Same result. My daughter suggested checking sports/outfitter type stores. I checked some websites. They had socks with a high wool content that looked like they would work. BUT, they were expensive, $15 per pair plus shipping. I decided to spring for two pair. However, intrepid shopper that I had become, I wasn’t giving up on finding simple socks like the ones I had bought at a cheapo dollar store at least five years ago.

Top 2 socks = $15 each Lower 10 socks = 80 cents each

Top 2 socks = $15 each
Lower 10 socks = 80 cents each

I finally decided to make one last check at a couple discount stores and found pretty much what I wanted – a pack of 10 black socks, high cotton content, for $8.00. So, which is better the $15 or 80 cent socks? I’ve now worn and washed them several times. The verdict? They’re about equal.

So what did I learn from this shopping experience:
1. Time counts
Serious shopping for the quality and cost conscious buyer can take a lot of time. Weighing the cost of your time to research a good buy and check prices may offset paying less money. Which is more valuable – my time or my money?
2. Fashion sells
Stores have a vested interest in trying to manipulate our wants. While I had no interest in designer socks, apparently many people do – or have been persuaded that they should. Many socks had designs, pictures, or words on them. I call them “silly socks” because all these cute things are not bad but they do make them less versatile. Basic black goes with everything. Maybe I’m just a stick in the mud, but I’d rather treat myself to some chocolate than buy limited use socks. PS: After reading this blog, many of my friends kidded me and took me to task saying that an occasional splurge on “silly socks” was fun and an opportunity to express their creativity. So there! I guess I am a stick in the mud.
3. Online shopping pros
It can be quicker
*It can save gas (at least the gas in my car, if not the delivery truck)
*Some stores offer free returns.
4. Online shopping cons:
You can’t feel and try on the merchandise. Fit and look may not be what you anticipated.
*Local stores suffer loss of business. This may cause employees to be laid off or the store to close, both of which hurt your neighbors and the local economy.
*Lack of personal advice from a sales person who knows the merchandise
5. Temptation lurks
Being in stores can tantalize us to buy more things that we didn’t originally intend just because we see things displayed. Not bad, if I really need it, but then we get back to the classic “needs vs wants” decision. Solution: Wait! If it’s a genuine need it will be there tomorrow or next week. If it passes, I haven’t lost any money.
6. Quality to cost ratio
Quality often costs more – but not always. The challenge is to figure out when paying more will get you more. That often takes time. (see #1)
7. Waste offsets
In my quest for the perfect socks, I also bought some small men’s cotton socks thinking that I could shrink them to fit me. It didn’t work. I gave them to my husband who really didn’t need more socks. We decided to give some of his socks away. Waste can be offset by generosity.
8. Sale and Return Psychology
I like sales. I like to save money. But, as Joshua Fields Milburn says, “Forget sale prices. Everything is 100% off when you don’t buy it.” Also Joshua Becker explains the psychology of return policies in his blog post How Return Policies Encourage Spending.
9. Thrills are short term
The thrill of something new can be a mood enhancer. For some folks shopping is recreation or a way to cancel out depression. After I got my socks, it was fun to open a package of fresh socks and wear them for the first time. It didn’t take long, however, for the high to wear off. Now it’s just, “Oh yeah, those socks. They’re fine.”

What kind of shopper are you? What are your criteria before you buy something?

My last blog talked about “The Beauty of Empty” and how helpful it is to empty out a space to start the pruning process. Now it’s time to start with myself (and my husband).

Days 365+115 Susan's Refilled closetDays 365+115 Susan's Empty closetSince my first round of pruning our clothes closet in 2010, I’ve slowly been passing clothes on that I seldom wear, but I never actually emptied it out. This time I took my own advice and started from ground zero. The first photo shows the left half of our closet with all my suits, skirts, pants, dresses, and blouses removed.

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I found 7 items I’m willing to give away and 3 maybes:
3 dresses (1 elegant and 2 serviceable)
3 skirts
1 cultural outfit from Indonesia; nice but not many opportunities to wear it.

Then I put everything else back. I feel better.

Then I turned to my husband… When I give talks, often someone will say, “I’m fine with giving stuff away, but my spouse or kids are the problem.” My usual response is “Invite others, but do your own thing. Convincing/cajoling others to join you can strain your relationship.” BUT, I had noticed that our clothes would have more room to “breathe” if Jim would also prune his half of the closet. He resisted, quoting me back to myself. He’d do it when HE was ready. Days 365+115 pinball machine

Ever the politician, however, he offered me a deal. He would go through his half of the closet IF I would refurbish his old toy pinball machine that he had as a child. I took it as a challenge, spent some time fussing with it, and, with the help of the friendly staff at our corner hardware store, met his request.

Being an honest fellow, Jim dutifully went through his clothes and chose to give away some of his stuff. He decided that some clothes were not good enough to give away so he threw away (or I made rags out of) some other things. I moved his rarely used robe to the guest bedroom in case a modest guest wanted to use it to get to the shower on another floor.

Days 365+115 Jim's Throw AwayDays 365+115 Jim's Give AwayThrow Aways:        Give Aways:
2 pairs of shorts     7 polo shirts
1 pair of jeans        9 dress shirts
2 sweatshirts          hiking boots
4 T-shirts

Stuff-nothingJanuary 1: As we begin a new year, our hearts turn to resolutions but our practical sides often resist – at least after a feeble try at exercising more, eating healthier, becoming more prayerful, etc. In an effort to serve you better and clear my own life of clutter, I keep up with what professional organizers recommend and what other simple living bloggers have to say on the subject. One common practice is to START WITH EMPTY.

By this I mean focus on one space – a drawer, a closet, a desk, a shelf, etc. Then go through the following process:

  1. Choose a time and a time limit. Maybe you want to do this today, every day, once a week or once a month. It could be 15 minutes, an hour, a half day – whatever seems doable to you without feeling burdensome.
  2. Take everything out of the space. This has the double purpose of helping you see what you have and allows for easier cleaning.
  3. Clean the space if necessary. This can feel rewarding, even if you end up putting absolutely everything back that you took out.
  4. Review the contents of the drawer, closet, shelf. See last Lent’s series on A-Drawer-A-Day for inspiration.  Separate into the categories of:Days 365+69k ADAD Keep Wait GA Move
    *KEEP – These are the items that are essential or bring you real joy.
    *GIVE AWAY, aka RECYCLE – This is the hardest part because now, or in the near future, you need to figure out where to take it.
    *WAIT and MOVE are optional extra categories.
  5. Put back the KEEP items. Put the GIVE AWAY or RECYCLE items in a container in an inconvenient place that will motivate you to actually take them to the person, store, recycling bin etc. (For example, next to the front door.)Days 365+69k ADAD Recycle Throw Away
  6. Put the WAIT items in a container that is out of the way. If after several months, a year, or whatever you haven’t missed the item, let it go. Sometimes your mind or heart needs this time to be ready to let go of sentimental items. Say good-by with reverent intentionality.
  7. Move the MOVE items immediately to their more logical home.
  8. Stop. You could of course go on to declutter another space if you still have time, but this process works best if you end with a feeling of accomplishment rather than fatigue or frustration because you’ve just crowded the rest of your day’s schedule. Crowding time can be just as stressful as hanging on to too much stuff.

The deeper side of emptying
As virtuous as it may be to empty and clean one’s physical space, there is a deeper level of emptying that you may choose to pursue. It is a spiritual emptying which involves clearing your mind and your being or unnecessary worries, stress, and self-importance. Spiritual guides call this kenosis (self-emptying).

This is a lifelong effort but is usually aided by ongoing prayer, meditation, often with the help of a faith community or spiritual coach. Yoga or Buddhist practices help some people. For me, it helps to take time in the morning for quiet and prayer. Being part of a faith community helps me check my ego lest I get too full of myself. The beauty of emptying oneself applies on many levels.

Start today. Today may just be the resolution and a plan for when the first time will be. Are you in?

PS: It occurs to me that “The Beauty of Empty” is a first world topic. People who are truly empty of food, shelter, or other necessities do not find beauty in their destitution and suffering. It’s a sobering realization that I can afford to let go of stuff.

December 31: As the year comes to a close, it seems like a natural time to give away the things I’ve been collecting in my “Giveaway Bin.” The month of December, however, has also been a busy time for me. (What a surprise 😉 ) So, I did what any committed but lazy declutterer would do. I took the easy way out. Ideally, I would have found good homes for the kitchen and clothes items, but when Viet Vets called and asked if I had any items to donate, I quickly said yes since all I have to do is put my stuff on our porch on the allotted day. My 3 months or so of items included:

Days 365+113 misc.Kitchen:                                            Clothes:
1 cutting board                                  1 pair of pants
2 iron skillets                                     2 shirts
1 salad bowl set                                 2 belts
1 salt shaker                                      2 pairs of slippers
1 nut cracker


salad bowl set, salt shaker, nut cracker, skillets, cutting board, measuring spoons

salad bowl set, salt shaker, nut cracker, skillets, cutting board, measuring spoons

1 digital photo screen                        1 train case
2 vases                                             1 necklace
1 hair dryer                                       2 Kleenex packets
sewing patterns                                 1 Purell hand sanitizer
nail clippers                                        4 cloth napkins
4 books

Some of these things hopefully will be useful to immigrants or others setting up a home. Other items I realize are pretty petty or dated. This, however, was a circumstance of not letting the perfect be the enemy of the good. Sometimes that’s better than not doing anything and I just have to let go of the guilt.

PS: Please forgive the lousy blurred photo. I’m chalking it up to letting go of perfection.

Days 365+112 booksAs our 44 year marriage evolved, we realized that my husband, Jim, enjoyed cooking and I didn’t. This fits us well in sort of a “Jack Sprat could eat no fat; his wife could eat no lean” way. As our marriage progressed so did our accumulation of cookbooks. I dared not complain because, after all, I was happily not doing much cooking. Internally, however, I found myself annoyed at how much space cookbooks were taking up in our kitchen. It wouldn’t be so bad if Jim used them all but our diabetic son moved out over 20 years ago. Did we still need a diabetic cookbook? Did we really need cooking with kids and camping cookbooks anymore?

Besides, not only had our marriage evolved but so has technology. Jim now gets most of his recipes from the internet and our daughter keeps updating the “Vogt Family Cookbook” with recipes each Christmas. The marital compromise was that we would give away half of our 36 cookbooks. We also selected 9 other books that were nice but we knew we’d never read again. This barely makes a dent in our overall book collection but it’s progress.

While we were busy slimming down our book collection, the book gods were working in the other direction. One of our friends was struggling with wondering why bad things kept happening to him – a relatively good Jewish person. Obviously I had to get him, When Bad Things Happen to Good People by Rabbi Harold Kushner. I assuaged my conscience by taking my 27 used books to our local half-price bookstore thinking it would be a zero sum game – pricewise. I lost, but I still felt good about unloading the books.

However, last night my husband found a cookbook at a Friends-of-the-Library sale. Well, 27 out, 1 in. Could be worse.

What criteria do you use for keeping or letting go of books?

Days 365+111 Advent wreath.Traditionally the time leading up to Christmas is a time of shopping. It is also the time that my own nuclear family again faces the question of how we are going to celebrate the holidays and what will we do about gift giving. In the past we have ranged from buying a gift for everyone, to drawing names, to our “Nothing New Christmas.”

Perhaps it is a function of getting older, but lately I’ve found myself feeling even more accosted by the persistent radio, TV, and newspaper ads urging me to buy more stuff to make the holidays memorable. I ignore the ads but I think it weighs down our culture and raises unnecessary expectations of what will make me happy. I can’t singlehandedly change the marketing industry. (Hey, they’re only doing their job so they can make money to buy their own Christmas gifts – or perhaps just pay the rent.) Sometimes, however, humor can impact our attitudes and clear our minds more easily than sermons. I offer you Jerry Seinfeld’s 5 minute sketch, There’s Too Many Things.

I’m not saying don’t buy anything or don’t try to please your family, but this might put it in perspective. Some things are just impulse or duty gifts that quickly become clutter. Consider how you might bring joy to others during this month (sing, dance, read and talk together, or other creative activities).

On New Year’s Day I’ll suggest some strategies for clearing whatever clutter you may have accumulated – despite your best efforts.


Days 365+85 Thank you cardAs we approach the season of Thanksgiving and Gift Giving, my mind turns to how to be generous. What is truly helpful vs. what  just adds to another’s clutter, feeds an addiction, or stresses the environment. First, let me say that it is possible to overthink this generosity thing. At its core generosity is about letting go of money or stuff that I don’t need in order to help another person. It is a manifestation of Love. Still, there are six thorny challenges plus one reminder that I’d like to pose to you.

BeggarOne practice I decided to do last year during Lent was to give $20 to a corner panhandler each time I drove by. Fine idea, but what to do when Lent was over? Do I still give? My previous $20 donations were a stretch for me. Do I give less? Do I take a different route? I wasn’t sure.

One son said he never carries cash so it wouldn’t be an issue for him. I asked participants at a Living Lightly workshop. They suggested buying a stash of coupons for a nearby fast-food restaurant or keeping some non-perishable food like granola bars in the car. I’m well aware that giving cash can be abused since some people may use the money for alcohol or drugs, so giving food directly made sense. Still, my goal was not just to be efficient but to stretch my own attitude of generosity and not to pre-judge.

My own family has different approaches to this. When one son lived in Indonesia for a year, his policy was to give to anyone who asked since he figured he had an income and the street beggars usually didn’t. When our daughter did Peace Corps in Mali for several years she did the opposite. She said that giving to beggars reinforced their assumption that all white people had money to spare. Since she lived among the poor and on a low income she didn’t want to encourage that attitude. My husband always gives. I seldom do. I’m trying to change my practice, mostly to enlarge my heart.

I addressed my criteria for giving to charities in my last blog, Inheriting and Investing Money. In summary:

  1. Tithe (Give at least 10% away.)
  2. Give to causes that I am personally involved with.
  3. Choose causes in which my relatively small contribution can make a difference.

Yes, too much focus can be put on gift-giving at Christmas time. Still, it’s nice to know that someone is thinking about you and trying to decide what you might like as a treat. One year our family decided to buy nothing new for each other.  It was a challenge. It was humorous. Read  about it here. I’ve also collected a number of ideas for Frugal Gifts for Family and Friends.  Maybe some of them will fit you.

Days 365+110 Bling

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Have you ever been to a conference, wanted to take a small gift to a host, won a white elephant gift that you can’t use? We all pick up trinkets and bling here and there and sometimes pass them on to others. I don’t want to be ungrateful or a miser but I really don’t need one more key chain, shirt with a logo on it, or other memorabilia type trinkets. It seems to me that things that are consumable (food) or useful (pens or water bottles), would be more appreciated and make less clutter in our lives than another plaque.Days 203- Extra campaigning

Give to anyone who comes to the door asking for a donation or selling something – especially kids. Been there. Done that.
Addendum 12-12-15: I’ve just been scammed. A couple days ago an older teen came to the door selling packaged cookies for Holmes H.S. He said the requested donation was $10. I was in a hurry so, in the spirit of buying from any youth who comes to the door, I said yes. Besides several of our kids graduated from this school.
Later, my husband asked how I knew he was from Holmes and why did I pay with cash. Hmmm. I called the high school and they said they did not have such a fundraising drive going on and besides they always have an order form for goods. I then called our neighborhood communicator and asked her to send an email blast to the neighbors about this. Then I called the police to alert them to watch for this kid walking the neighborhood.
a. If in doubt, pay with a check. (A scammer will not accept a check because it identifies him/her. If it’s made to the school, they won’t be able to cash it.)
b. Don’t be in a hurry.
Although this was a rip-off, still the fellow apparently needed money. Was there a better way to respond to his need that wouldn’t reinforce lying? One neighbor suggested offering him some household chores to earn money.
PS:  The cookies were stale and unappealing.

When it comes to material things, it’s hard to know how much is enough and how much is too much? I don’t consider myself wealthy but then it often depends on whom I am comparing myself to. To avoid kidding myself or being a tightwad I’ve found that rubbing shoulders with the have nots keeps me honest. Frequent contact with those who have less material goods than I do keeps me from always measuring myself against the wealthy and feeling I’m poor by comparison.

Be grateful. The gospel about the rich young man (Mark 10:17-27) continues to make me squirm. BUT, I try to focus on the wonderful gifts – many free like nature, people, and art – that are around me. Wallowing in guilt does not glorify God. Give thanks.

dollar signAfter my mother died last spring my brothers and I inherited some tangible household items and memorabilia along with some money, mostly in the form of stocks. In hindsight, deciding what to do with the physical items was relatively easy. I swapped out some of our more raggedy furniture for the nicer and memory laden items from mom. (See Finding Good Homes #3  and #4.)  I found respectable new homes for the other items. (See Homes for Inherited Stuff #5 )

The money part is much more complicated. For one it takes awhile to settle an estate and I’m not very astute at handling finances. Mostly I knew that I now had a lot more virtual money – not cash in the bank but stocks in a cloud somewhere. In order to be good stewards, my husband and I decided to consult a financial adviser. After clarifying our values within ourselves and with our adviser, we realized that we didn’t need all the extra money to meet our daily or projected needs. It seemed only right and fair to share our bounty with those who needed it more. This was an easy decision because it flowed from our faith and values. The hard part was facing the question, How much should we give away and to whom?

HOW MUCH IS ENOUGH TO GIVE AWAY?Days 112 Extra - Question mark
I know myself well enough to know that I’m frugal by nature. (That is probably an understatement.) I knew that I would have to face the downside of that trait and not be a cheapskate. I wanted some outside source to tell me how much. One answer comes easily to people of Judea-Christian heritage – Give away the traditional tithe or 10%. Thank you to the Bible. While this is not a perfect solution since 10% of a wealthy person’s income is not nearly as painful as 10% of a poor person’s income – thus the graduated income tax – still, it is a start. Awareness of the Widow’s Mite (see Luke 21:2-3) saves me from taking undue pride.

We decided to apply the criteria we use for most of our annual donations:

  1. Days 365+109 First ShiftGive to a cause that we are personally invested in. Thus we gave some seed money to First Shift Justice Project and the Marianist Lay Communities we are part of. Since we know these causes intimately, we know the money will be well used for the good of society and extends our own volunteer commitments.
  2. Choose a cause that our relatively small contribution can make a difference. While there are many worthy national and international causes, many people already are donating to cure various diseases and world hunger. This is good, but our donations won’t be game-changers for these organizations.
  3. Make stocks count. A new criteria for us was in the area of stocks. Although we wanted to be responsible investors, we did not feel compelled to make the maximum return on stocks. Previously we had invested in socially responsible funds. But now we learned about yet another strategy – Impact Investing. (Click here and here to learn more.) We decided to put a percentage of our stocks into one or two organizations that may or may not bring the highest financial return, BUT it would make a significant impact on the viability of a cause that we support. We’re still researching which particular organizations to allocate this pot of money to. Mostly, we remember that we are privileged to even own stocks.

It’s hard to be rich – at least in the sense of being generously rich. (Tweet that). Trying to decide what causes to give money to takes a lot of research. Charity Navigator is another helpful source to check legitimate charities. See also a program by Gene Gardner called Donating With Confidence on my website.

Days 365+20 DC garbage cansRecycling is good. Right? Well, sort of. Of course it is better to recycle stuff than not to, but remember those other ecology Rs – Reduce and Reuse?

This all came to mind recently as my city changed its trash collection company. They used to accept all plastics #1 – #7 but now only accept plastic bottles that have a smaller neck than the body. After many calls to the city and the new recycling company, I started to understand the complexity of the recycling system and how there has to be a way for recycling companies to make a profit from collecting our plastics. If there is no buyer for certain plastics, a for profit company won’t take it. Glass, cans, and paper continue to be profitable, but those pesky plastics are often the problem. All of this caused me to remember that as good as recycling is, it’s even better to “pre-cycle” – buy as few things as possible that are throw-aways.

Reduce: Avoid buying stuff in plastic containers whenever possible. Avoid using products that create hazardous waste.

Reuse: Use reusable water bottles. Repair clothes, shoes, household items when possible.

BUT, what to do when reduce/reuse won’t work. Here my experience this past weekend may be food for thought.Days 365+108 hazardous recycling 2Days 365+108 Hazardous recycling trunk

  1. Hazardous Waste: This was the weekend that my community collects hazardous waste. For 6 months we’ve been collecting broken electronics, lightbulbs, toner cartridges, batteries, and a broken printer. It took a special trip to the collection center but I feel virtuous.
  2. Days 365+108 Bell peppers

    Just a few of the peppers

    Too Many Peppers: My garden was a mixed blessing this summer. My beans did well; not so much the tomatoes. The bell peppers were slow to mature. BUT, all of a sudden it was the day before the first frost was forecast so I checked my sleepy peppers. Wow! I guess I had overlooked them because I picked 53 in different stages of development. Way too many for Jim and I to eat. So, I took a walk around the neighborhood and found new homes for 40 of them. I’m not sure which of the Rs covers sharing, but it felt even better than disposing of the hazardous waste.

Now back to dealing with those ornery plastics. I was near Whole Foods today so I took my #1-#7 plastics there. Normally I wouldn’t make the trip figuring that the gas and time outweighs the benefit.

Trying to do the right thing can be pretty complicated. It’s often a matter of weighing the time to do research, the bother of spending effort to do something extra, or the inconvenience of doing without an item. It’s hard to be responsible. What are the trade-offs you make?

CZVS Schauerman photo croppedFollowing my mother’s death last spring, I was blessed with inheriting quite a few lovely items. This presented me with a mini dilemma. Here I am trying to prune my home of extra possessions but I want to honor the memory of my mother. By including some of her household items in my decor I am reminded of her presence. Following are 5 insights that evolved as I tried to decide what to keep and what to give away:

  1. Honoring a loved one: Eventually I came to peace with the realization that my mother did not reside in these physical items. They are reminders of her but the real honor is holding her memory in my heart, remembering her twinkling eyes, and her love of crossword puzzles.
  2. Visual reminders. Still, seeing a special piece of furniture reminds me of her and her good taste. Thus I kept 2 lovely chairs and tables which replaced raggedy chairs and worn tables that had “un-graced” our home for awhile. (See end of Finding Good Homes #4) This felt good because it was consistent with my “one in-one out” criterion.
  3. Saving for posterity. Personally I don’t do silver (too much hassle to keep clean). However, my mother had some nice silver pieces and I knew my daughter would like them. I’m saving a few pieces for her until she returns to live in the USA.
  4. Passing stuff on. I didn’t need more sheets, towels, blankets, and clothes so these were easy decisions to pass on to our local Catholic Worker House and Mary Magdalene Center (a place for homeless people to get showers and clothes). (See Challenge #4)
  5. Click to enlarge

    Click to enlarge

    Too good for Goodwill. I don’t like the idea that poor people should not have nice or fancy things. That seems judgmental and classist. Still, my mom had 14 pairs of elegant fine leather gloves, a Pieta sculpture from Rome, and some fireplace irons. I don’t need any of these things but it seemed like they would also not be very useful to people who frequent thrift stores. (I also frequent thrift stores but wouldn’t be looking for these items either.) In the past I’ve taken these kinds of articles to an upscale consignment shop (Legacies) in Cincinnati. Proceeds go to a local cancer support community. Before I could get to Legacies, however, I found more personal homes for:

    • The Pieta sculpture – A group of Marianist volunteers had just come to town to work in low income schools. They accepted the sculpture as a focal point for prayer in their common home.Days 365+107 fireplace irons
    • Fireplace irons – A repair person was in our home today. On a whim I asked if he had a fireplace? Would he like the irons? Yes. Success.

The gloves (many of them never worn) I’ll take to Legacies.

How do you honor your deceased loved ones?
What do you do with inherited items besides just adding them to your household?

Now on to the really hard core homeless items. My top 3 are

  1. Mattresses. (I never did find any place that would take a mattress so I re-purposed the baby crib rails and metal as garden supports and put the mattress on the floor for visiting kids.) See mattress posts here and here.
  2. Items that are not appropriate for a thrift store. (fancy gloves, fireplace irons, exclusive religious sculptures. I’ll deal with expensive inherited items like these in my upcoming post, “What to do with inherited treasures?
  3. Trophies. This is today’s challenge. I dealt with trophies almost 5 years ago. Click here to see post. The embarrassing thing is that I still found 13 trophies and 12 plaques stored away in a corner of the house. I finally decided to seriously research what to do with them since I didn’t need them, didn’t plan on being super crafty and turn them into coat pegs or other projects, but I also didn’t want them to just go into a landfill.

Here’s what didn’t work (so you don’t have to waste your time):Days 365+106 trophies

  • I called all 5 of the Trophy stores in the greater Cincinnati area. None of them were interested in old trophies.
  • I googled “What to do with old trophies” and several variations of this search. I came up with 5 promising websites: Total Awards & Promotions (temporarily closed), TC-retrophy (not now), Earth 911 (the search function gave me a local contact, Pro-Recyclers. Since it was close, I drove there. It no longer exists), and Lamb Awards (I got a live person at this site based in Maryland. You mail your trophies to them and they turn them into new trophies. You pay the shipping. The only problem is that they only accept trophies during the summer. Since it’s now September, I didn’t want to wait till June.

Trophy Solution:
On the way home from Pro Recyclers, I had to pass the grade school near our home. I know that one of the recommendations I offered 5 years ago was to donate trophies to schools, scout troops, etc. but I never did it. I decided what the heck, I’ve got these trophies ready to go, why not at least stop and ask. Victory! A teacher said, “Yes, sure we can use them for art projects, whatever.” You may not be so lucky, but it’s worth a couple calls.

When all else fails – the Curb Side SolutionDays 365+106 chairs on curb cropped
Since I inherited two lovely chairs from my mother, I had two comfortable but a bit worn chairs that I no longer needed. I didn’t have a vehicle big enough to take them to a thrift shop so I defaulted to the old standby – put them out the afternoon before garbage collection day and hope someone picks them up. It worked. I also inherited two end tables so I put them out the following week. It worked again. Glad that there are scavengers around who are willing to make my life easier.