The hoarding must stop

The live-in help's bedroom turned storeroom
The cleaned out storeroom with just one bag of plastic bags remaining. Hard to believe you couldn’t see any of the slats pre clean-up.

We live in an apartment that has a tiny room and bathroom for a live-in maid.

At least half the apartments we looked at had a room for such purpose (cuarto de servicio), and being from a country where people don’t have live-in help (unless they are super wealthy) that came as a bit of a surprise.

Knowing that we would not be having live-in help, the tiny little room that is about as big as a double bed and its attached bathroom off the laundry became our storeroom. A better name would be to call it the junk room and that spells disaster for a genetically programmed hoarder.

The narrow single bed is built in at waist level atop cupboards where we store suitcases and boxes (kept for the time when we have to move again). The built in floor to ceiling cupboard is the linen press with shelves dedicated to cleaning equipment and one shelf for the Christmas decorations. The Christmas tree, wreath and tubes of baubles are stored in the shower of the bathroom, along with the polystyrene base for the fridge box. On top of the slats for the bed is where the hoarding happens. This is where the reusable shopping bags and backpack are kept, thrown on top of whatever old newspaper or handful of plastic bags. It is a huge mess and a pile of absolutely unnecessary crap that I think has been stressing me out and making me feel blah.

Sending the boys off on an adventure to Nemocon salt mine, I attacked this room with the mission to get of crap and plastic bags.

I started by removing all the recycling to in front of the apartment door so that the boys could take it down to the basement on their way out. I’m rather ashamed to admit that there were 20 egg trays that I had ostensibly been saving to make some egg carton flowers I’d found on Pinterest but never made. They went out, along with the newspaper magazines and catalogues. We had a full sack of plastic bottles I sent down as well. The biggest surprise for me was the sheer quantity of plastic bags we had cluttering up this little room. La suegra had bagged them up neatly when she was here last, but still, they had gotten out of control.

I think it’s worth mentioning the unhealthy relationship that Colombia has with plastic bags. I have never seen anyone take a reusable shopping bag to the supermarket. There seems to be something of a push to get people to use reusable bags, but it’s not embraced. At the supermarket they sometimes even ask if you want your shop double-bagged so it doesn’t break. All bags also come printed with a message saying to reduce plastic bag use, but I don’t think many people have actually read that, and no checkout operator pays any attention to it. So despite using plastic supermarket bags as bin liners and halving the plastic bags we receive at the supermarket by taking a backpack and another jumbo carry bag, we have an unhealthy mountain range the size of the Sierra Nevada in plastic bags.

Reducing the number of plastic bags in our possession was one of my top goals. I started by reviewing the shopping bags and separating the ones with holes from the whole ones (no pun intended). The good ones we could use for bin liners were put in a long plastic bag that had originally contained 6 x 1.1L bags of milk. That is now strung up and is where all the bin bags will be kept. I also kept the jumbo sized bags as they often come in handy, but only kept the best ones and put them all in one bag. I also like to keep the nice ones that you get from clothing and gift stores, and again only picked out the very best that I may actually use one day. We now have the two infrequently used bag types stored in the laundry cupboard, where it should be noted that I found even more stashed bags…

While I just kind of chucked about 5 bags of plastic bags, I am starting to wonder if the supermarkets here have bag recycling points. I feel like I may have seen a few, but then I don’t know if my mind is playing tricks on me and superimposing an Australian supermarket over my local Jumbo. I felt guilty about just chucking them without checking for a supermarket recycling point first, but if I had waited then it would probably end up like when I bag up clothes to take to the op shop and instead of making an immediate trip there it just ends up being stored away again and no space is de-cluttered.

In addition to the massive plastic bag chuck out, I also reorganised the kitchen cupboards and cleaned everything thoroughly, getting rid of the greasy grime on the cupboard doors. Now I just have to hope that my boys will live by the new plastic bag rule, and that I don’t fall back into this old hoarding habit.

What do you hoard?

The big wardrobe downsize

It’s 38 days until I move to LA and in preparation I am taking a fashion trip down sentimental lane.

I will freely admit to anyone that I am a hoarder. I won’t get rid of clothes, shoes or accessories because I come up with an excuse, such as:

  • I might fit into it when I lose weight one day
  • I might fit into it when I put on weight one day
  • It would make a great costume for a fancy dress party (that I never get invited to)
  • My mythical someday daughter will see me in a photo and wish I’d kept the outfit because it is suddenly retro cool again 
  • It has a story such as “Oh, but I got this poncho in Bolivia from a little old lady in full Quechua dress at the market”

I even have some makeup that my aunt gave me when I was in early high school, and I still use it, on the occasion that I need some bright 80s eyeshadow.

I don’t know how long I’ll be in LA for, but I’m taking advantage of my current “clear it out, give it away” mentality to do a sweep of my wardrobe so there isn’t so much temptation to squeeze it into my luggage. So far so good. I’ve managed to part with four pairs of shoes, a handbag, a long formal dress, a suit, a skirt, two hats, a scarf and a few belts. And that was just to one friend.

The outfit of never give aways
All my most loved items in one stunning outfit!

I’m setting aside more things for my 10 year old cousin (who already has a size 8 foot and will soon fit into my size nines) and her dress up box. Mum has already said that she’ll have whatever is left over.

So while people are getting excited as to what they might be able to find in my wardrobe, the sad news for them is that I will still be taking the best and most loved things with me. There will always be room in my luggage for my dress of dresses, the incredible multi-coloured heels, my white hat, my motorcycle handbag, silver crysacolla ring from Mexico and the Bolivian poncho.

This hoarder’s going to hit LA and commit a major fashion faux pas, but what the heck!