Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Stuff I should throw away but can't for irrational reasons

I read/heard somewhere that people who end up being packrats are often very creative individuals. The reason they can't bear to throw something away is because they can always see some kind of potential second (or third or fourth) use for it.

I guess I'm a creative person because man, is it ever hard for me to get rid of silly, non-sentimental junk. I'm not talking about old t-shirts, papa-sans, or suitcases. I'm talking about stuff like maps and cardboard boxes. Read on for a run-down of Stuff I Should Throw Away but Can't for Irrational Reasons.

Item: A gigantic cardboard box from a microwave we bought almost four years ago.
Why I can't throw it away: I have a myriad of reasons for keeping this. Hear me out. The first place we lived in Tucson was too small to fit a crib, so Jeremy fitted out this microwave box for Miriam to sleep in. Then it was the receptacle for miscellaneous junk in the closet. Then I cleaned out all that junk, and I'm left with a big empty box. I know I can use it for something...but what? I just hate to get rid of a perfectly good huge cardboard box.

Item: A can of coconut milk.
Why I can't throw it away: I don't know how this got in our pantry, and it's been there for a few years, and is probably expired, and yet I still can't get rid of it. I just know that the second I do, I will come upon some amazing recipe that calls for a can of coconut milk, and then I'll regret it.

Item: A battery recharger.
Why I can't throw it away: I WISH I COULD. Believe me, I wish I could. We don't even have the rechargeable batteries that go with this charger anymore. But part of me thinks we might find those batteries someday, and then they'll be useless to us without the charger, so I better hang onto it...

Item: Lots and lots of Cottonelle Fresh Wipes containers.
Why I can't throw it away: Even the refill packs from Costco give you a new container or two every time, so I have a stash of these underneath the bathroom sink. All of them are empty. I keep thinking I'll find some use for them, but I never do. Any ideas?

Item: Various road maps, including Syria, Jordan, Germany (the map is in Czech and Slovak), St. Petersburg, Vienna, Moscow, etc.
Why I can't throw it away: It's not just a matter of keeping them for next time we go to those places, even though they may be useless by now because of road changes and such. It's a matter of possible political upheaval. Our map of Syria does not acknowledge the existence of territorial disputes in, say, Antakya or the Golan Heights. It's a very optimistic map. It draws its borders the way it wants them to be and makes no apologies for it. I don't think we could find another one like it anywhere. So I continue to keep it, and the other maps, that only get more politically incorrect and more out of date with each year that goes by. Sigh.

What are you holding onto for irrational reasons?


Liz Johnson said...

Clothes in a size too small. Cardboard boxes from EVERYTHING, thinking that I'll use them again when I move. Old books. CD's, even though I have more than one digital copy. Old towels, because, hey, you can never have enough old towels, right? Serving dishes that I have never used. Bank statements and old receipts for items I don't even own anymore.


Lisa Lou said...

Ribbons. and candles. Lots of candles. Cuz it's for emergency preparedness, right? yeah.

JackJen said...

Wish I could help...but I'm in major purge mode right now.

With everything you listed, I kept thinking, "JUST THROW IT OUT!!"...that is, until I got to the maps. Keep the maps. Always keep the maps. I almost bought a globe at a yard sale on Saturday BECAUSE it had the USSR. I have a soft spot for maps.

And from personal experience, old road maps look fantastic when framed.... just sayin'.

Jennifer said...

This is why you haven't thrown out that coconut milk:

• 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
• 1 teaspoon salt and pepper
• 1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
• 2 tablespoons curry powder
• 1/2 onion, thinly sliced
• ½ green bell pepper, sliced
• ½ red bell pepper, sliced
• 2 cloves garlic, crushed
• 1 (14 ounce) can coconut milk
• 1 (14.5 ounce) can stewed, diced tomatoes
• 1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
• 3 tablespoons brown sugar

1. Season chicken pieces with salt and pepper.
2. Heat oil and curry powder in a large skillet over medium-high heat for two minutes. Stir in onions, peppers and garlic, and cook 1 minute more. Add chicken, tossing lightly to coat with curry oil. Reduce heat to medium, and cook for 7 to 10 minutes, or until chicken is no longer pink in center and juices run clear.
3. Pour coconut milk, tomatoes, tomato sauce, and sugar into the pan, and stir to combine. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, approximately 20 to 30 minutes.
4. Serve over jasmine rice and garnish with chopped peanuts and cilantro. (Optional)

We eat this a lot and it is so good!

trishtator said...

Who says these reasons are irrational? :)

Keep the coconut milk, make some of that curry. So good.

Alli E. said...

I have too many things to list...old formula cans, old cameras (it is amazing how big and bulky they are compared to the cameras now--I just know my kids won't believe it someday.), shoe boxes, you name it. I must be REALLY creative!!!

Suzanne Bubnash said...

In my world the general rule is 1. if it can be recycled, just do it & get the clutter out of your life and 2. if someone else can be using it, give it to DI or Goodwill (do not trash it if it's at all usable)

Sentimental things are another story. Perhaps a good rule would be to buy one of those nice plastic storage boxes to fill w/ sentimental items, & have a rule to keep only what will fit in there.

I don't get rid of maps--I enjoy them too much. I even asked my Grandma for her 1930 World Atlas & love it's historical uniqueness. She made pencil marks and comments in it as she followed Hitler's rise to power & then the Allied march to victory! It's falling apart but I will always keep it.

Crys said...

Hello you are moving...and you always need boxes...so there you go. I'm sure you can use that box. Maybe to move bedding. I mean it has to be something light right. As for the Cottonelle boxes, how about little toys, Polypockets, tiny ponies, puzzle pieces that you've lost the boxes for. You get the idea :)

Natchel said...

Ohhhh don't even get me started. I wrote the book on packratting! Nate goes crazy with my irrational hoarding of everything chachka...
My mom has started clearing out my bedroom back home because they are renting out their house when they go on their mission. She calls me nightly and she names off everything in a section of my room to keep or get rid of. And every night, I have a panic attack! "But what if I have daughters that WANT my old Barbies?!" "You want to throw away my collection of foreign water bottles??" You get the idea :)

Jeanerbee said...

I have gotten really good at getting rid of stuff with two moves in a year! Recycle the plastic boxes or use them for crayons or toy storage. I LOVE that Miriam slept in that box... use it to pack your tv/computer/something big. Here's a recipe for some YUMMY lentil soup.

1 large onion, finely chopped
1 1-inch piece of ginger peeled and chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 large carrots, cut into 1/2 inch half moons
1 cup red lentils
3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 15oz can coconut milk
coarse salt
1 tablespoon curry powder
2 cups spinach leaves shredded.

sautee the onion, garlic, ginger until softened. add curry powder. add carrots, lentils, broth and coconut milk and bring soup to a boil. reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until lentils are tender, 20 min. stir vigorously to break up the lentils, then season to taste with salt. add the spinach leaves right before serving.

Stephanie said...

You could store art supplies in the fresh wipes containers (crayons, markers, pencils, paint brushes, etc.). I use a Huggies wipes container to store plastic bags. They are easy to pull out through the opening.

sarah said...

i also have the old bank statements and receipts. i never write in a journal so i when i look at them they remind me what i was doing or why i was buying something that day, so if i get rid of them i'll never remember! other than that the hardest thing for me to get rid of is home decorations..i have too many and dont use them, but think that maybe if i live in a house again, i'll need them!

and i agree with suzanne-recycle!

Nancy said...

Box: You're moving soon.

Coconut milk: I have two cans of that that I inherited from a friend who moved recently. I also have no idea what to use it for, but if I find a good recipe I will pass it on.

Wipe-boxes: organizing toys. Although, those boxes are a little small. But they might be useful for carrying toiletries. Portable soap dish?

Maps: We keep those, too. You never know when you're going to go back and might want an outdated map, right?

Obviously I'm very good at keeping everything. Everything.

But I am trying to learn that I don't have to. Andrew is very good at getting rid of things and encouraging me to get rid of things. Sometimes he bribes me to get rid of old clothes by replacing them with new ones. Seriously.

"Get rid of 5 shirts that you haven't worn since we got married and I'll get you a new one."

It's not that my clothes are immodest, it's that you "never know" when you might need x-color of t-shirt.

I'm a serious, serious pack rat. It's sick.

shabba shabba said...

Sure, I'll be the first male to comment. Thanks!

You should definitely keep the maps. When I was little, I used to fish the fold-out maps out the dozens of National Geographic magazines from the 70s and tack them to the huge wood-paneled wall in the family room. I'm not sure why my parents let me do this.

I would spend hours (or at least minutes) gazing at maps of far off places. In 2nd grade, I learned all the US capitals, then I moved on to Australian provincial capitals, Canadian provincial capitals, Latin American capitals, etc. I didn't have a lot going.

I've forgotten all of those capitals, but I still love maps. Since we're moving too, I just unearthed our 2004 Rand McNally US road atlas and I've been gazing intently at it over dinner the last week or so. I even catch myself taking long "bathroom breaks" to look at maps of states I'll probably never go to, like Mississippi and the upper peninsula of Michigan.

In sum, I think your kids will someday thank you for saving the maps. They can be good FHE activities too. You can all, you know, look at maps together.

Maybe I'll have to make my own blog post on maps. I didn't realize I had so much to say on the topic.

JackJen said...

About a year ago, I went through my whole kitchen and took out everything I don't use at LEAST weekly...and I couldn't part with the stuff, so I put it on a shelf in the basement. About once a month, I mozy down there to get something I need...

Here we are a year later, and I'm unsure of what to keep and give away...

So today I'm putting stickers on every kitchen item I'm keeping in my basement. If I use something, I'll peel the sticker off. In a year, everything that still has a sticker on it gets sold/gifted.

I'm considering doing that with EVERYTHING in my basement...

Lindsay said...

I think I am going to post about some random ingredient on my blog and see what recipes people can come up with for me too. Excellent idea. I am trying to get rid of stuff right now too, but just can't throw away some things. For example, I have three big boxes of bandaids with drug ads on them from Bryan's pharmaceutical days. I can't get rid of them. I'll eventually use all 10,000+ of them, right?

Katie said...

You could use the fresh wipes containers (or at least one) to hold little hair things. I'm sure between the two girls you have lots of little bows, rubber bands and barrettes. You could also use them to hold crayons, or nails/screws, make-up (I keep my make-up in a hard plastic pencil box, that way anytime I need to do make-up in the car or when I pack for vacation it's always ready to go.)

Laura said...

I have the same problem. My problem stems from the thought that I might just use it someday. so I become a pack rat. Thankfully I am married to Matt, who helps me realize that that if I really do need it in the future, I can buy another something. He has really helped me get rid of the junk that I have a problem letting go.

Teresa Jane said...

You could use the baby wipe containers for Miriam's hair accessories, or possible fingernail polish or something. I always feel like hair stuff is random and messy and I like to organize it!

Kat Clark said...

I don't know what to say but I will tell you that I did laugh about the battery charger. I have to boxes full of random charges and other small electronic crap that I can't get rid of. How annoying?!

Camille said...

Containers are my weakness--food containers, boxes like you mentioned, etc. Why pay extra money for tupperware/fancy baskets when we get them free all the time from other products? I guess that's why my house and especially my kids' toys will never look like the Pottery Barn catalog. Right now I have a plastic container on my kitchen counter that used to hold couscous but now is begging to be used elsewhere. I'd better figure out where to put it before Birch loses patience and it ends up in the recycle bin. At least there is recycling...


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