Home Organization Project 18

Home Organization Project #18 with Go Gingham

On our way to drop off including plastic recycling. It’s impossible to make this photo look cute!

Here’s how I know this year-long, New Year’s resolutions of reducing the amount of stuff in our home (also known as ‘decluttering’) has really changed us. While driving home yesterday, Brad and I both spied several boxes of books on the sidewalk with a sign that read, “Free Books.” I ignored it and prayed my book-loving husband missed seeing it. He didn’t.

“You know I saw those boxes of books back there,” he said as we drove along.

“Oh, really?” Why didn’t you stop?” I asked. We always stop for free piles – especially when they involve books. And, when we stop to look, something usually comes home with us.

“This crazy project of yours has made me think twice about everything I consider bringing in the door,” he replied. “Plus, you know how much I love books and I can’t go through another sorting and eliminating of books.”

The poor thing! I felt his pain. I almost suggested we do a u-turn but stopped myself.

This home organization project has been painful. (Especially painful because we’re tackling another area each week for the year – all 52 weeks and this is week 18!) It’s also time consuming because we’re not just throwing stuff in the trash but finding a place to sell it, donate it or recycle it so it doesn’t end up in a huge garbage pile.

Home Organization Project #18 with Go Gingham
The back of the car ready to unload and then organize/clean out.

  1. Weekly. This week’s project: The cars! We have 2.
  2. Small. This was small. I feel like I’m still recovering from my closet clean out!
  3. Clear and clean. Took everything out and then vacuumed the back.
  4. Get set. Really – how many chairs do we need to tote around with us? How about the mesh bags for collecting seashells? Our kids have long since moved on from searching for beach treasures. Bags of golf balls? Brad doesn’t even golf!
  5. Pack it out. Yes, everything came out and after sorting it all, we realized we have enough grocery bags for an army!
  6. Stop buying. Even free piles need to be passed up! While I love the idea of saving money and getting something second-hand (free is the best!), we still don’t need to have more – of anything. We also need to refuse more cloth grocery bags. Or at least trade them out.
  7. Less is more. Less is more except maybe firewood. That’s one free pile I’ll stop for and lug home. And, I’m glad there are 2 pairs of work gloves in the back of my husband’s car. One pair for him and one pair for me. Who knew free firewood could be romantic, too?!

Will I still stop and look at a free pile on the sidewalk or the side of the road? Maybe but look for me to be more discerning and think twice before bringing items home just because they’re free. There’s still a cost associated with having more ‘stuff’ even if I didn’t part with any cash to get it.

What’s your project this week? Did you tackle your closet yet?

Go Gingham related links:

Ottoman slipcover hides shoes, socks and whatever else my kids stuff under there!
A little home office in our dining room
A free chair – that was rejected!
Green and frugal living – the sweet spot where green and frugal meet
The “weekly home organization projects” – if you’ve missed a week

As part of our New Year’s resolution, we’re cleaning out a different area of our house every week this year. Find all of the “weekly home organization projects” – or click the image below.
Home Organization in 52 weeks from Go Gingham


Sara, creator of Go Gingham, is passionate about cooking and feeding her family healthy, real food. She's a green enthusiast, too, who loves to grow food organically. Sara loves to travel - especially by trading houses. An avid runner, she can also be found chasing after her chickens in the backyard.


  1. This week I am working on my office space. It’s hard because there is a VERY large recumbent exercise bicycle in here, taking up a great deal of prime floor space. But there is no other place for it, so will have to work around its bulk. We have a TV re-purposed into a computer monitor, so we view as we ride. Cuts down on the boredom.

    1. Karen, most people hang items on their exercise bikes so I’m impressed that you’re actually using yours! I like that you’re using a re-purposed TV as a computer monitor. Very smart.
      Thanks for writing in and good luck with the office! 🙂

  2. I agree with you, Sara, that there is a cost associated with keeping stuff, even when it was free. I have found that often one’s stuff owns one, not the other way around! I have one more week of studies before a break and then I’m planning to fill my SUV with stuff to donate. Already I feel relieved!

    1. Oh, Vanessa, good luck with your studies and exams!! I’m so excited for you – once you’re done and can focus on having less. It does feel good, doesn’t it?
      Thanks for sharing ~

  3. Hi Sara – I am very curious to hear more about your attempts to declutter. I know how frugal you are and saving things in case they are needed must be part of how you live – so how do you decide what should go? I have about 1000 notebook tabs and plastic sleeves on my office shelves, but feel guilty just getting rid of them! We all have our areas of hording – mine must be office supplies. And clothes – I hate getting rid of clothes I might need someday. It does feel good to live lighter and with less stuff, though, so maybe I will tackle some of this over the weekend. Thanks, Sara!
    Annie Kip recently posted..Favorite Things Friday: Palazzo Pants

    1. Well, it started with not being able to open a kitchen drawer, Annie, and it’s only gotten worse! 🙂 After 19-years in our home, we either needed to move or purge. I want less stuff – for so many reasons but mostly because it weighs on me and I have to do something with my stuff. I’d rather not!
      Start here: http://gogingham.com/2014/01/smart-simple-home-organization/
      And, then you’ll see why and how we’re doing an area every single week! Thanks for asking, Annie.

  4. Sara, I laughed myself silly over your thoughts when spying the books in the free pile. Free books? Yes!! I couldn’t pass them up myself. To me, books seem exempt from the needing-to-be-decluttered category. I have a terribly difficult time parting with books.

    I don’t know why it’s like this for us, maybe it’s that we have always had small cars (or that we’ve lived in marginal neighborhoods in the past without a garage), but we never leave stuff in the car. The trunk has a set of bungee cords (for strapping things down) and 2 cardboard boxes (to keep bags of groceries from tipping over), and that’s it.

    The rest of the house? Well, just try to keep 5 people from dragging stuff home!!! But I am getting better at getting rid of stuff.
    Lili@creativesavv recently posted..Don’t buy cream puffs and eclairs (they are crazy-cheap to make!)

    1. Those free piles are hard to pass up, aren’t they? Those pictures show more than what we normally keep in our cars – we were on our way to drop ‘stuff’ at Goodwill but we do keep more than our share of items that we ‘might’ need. Mostly grocery bags! How many does a family need?
      Keeping the stuff under control is tough… 🙂 Thanks for sharing, Lili!

  5. Great idea to tackle one area every week! It is a constant struggle for me to keep my home decluttered – I have a new policy, too – if I buy anything new something has to go out.

    1. Yes, Lucy, that is a good plan! I try to do that but clearly I’ve gotten off track. Also, now that my kids are older, it’s easier to get rid of their ‘little kid’ items – whereas when they were younger, it was too hard.
      We’re having a big garage sale next month and I can’t wait! More stuff – gone!
      Thanks, Lucy. Good tip on something in, something out. 🙂

  6. SO hear you on the free grocery bags. I have a terrible habit of not returning them immediately to the car after bringing home the groceries, so I feel like I need lots of extras. Instead, maybe I need to return the bags to the car right away and declutter my trunk a little. Hmmmm
    Erin FB recently posted..Three Reasons Why a Weekend Trip is Worth It!

    1. Maybe, EFB! 🙂 I can’t stand to have the empty bags in the entry way so I leave the trunk open on my car and run them back out there ASAP. I’ve gotten burned on that a few times, too, with the rain and all. If I ever have a new car (mine is 21-years-old now!) I hope to not smell moldy trunk again. We’ll see…
      Thanks, Erin!
      ps I made soap and shampoo today…I’ll have to share the shampoo recipe, too. It’s easy and my hair is so happy.

  7. One of my friends describes her car as a moveable purse. 🙂 I find that I don’t stash a lot of stuff in my car, but my kids sure do! Much of it is helpful (books, pencils, crayons, etc.) but it’s amazing how quickly it can get to be a mess. Good luck with your vehicle clean-out (and congrats for not adding new-to-you books after you just sorted through your books!).

    1. Kris, you know how hard that book clean out was ~ LOL! It’s hard for me to pass up chairs but I’ve really gotten out of the habit…I had to have a chair sale a while back. Let’s just say I had 20+ to get rid of. Ugly.
      Yes, the car can be an accumulator of ‘stuff’ when kids need to be entertained on the road. I still keep a deck of cards in the back seat because you never know… 🙂
      Thanks, Kris!

  8. Sara, I think this process is good for you with your kids getting ready to go to college in the next few years. The art of “letting go” becomes invaluable the day you say good-bye to your child as they embark on their own journey. The more sentimental stuff you can part with now, the easier it will be to walk by their rooms and see all the “stuff” that takes you back to a time when you tucked them into bed every night. For me, the hardest adjustment was setting the dinner table for three, instead of four. That might be rough for you too as you eat at home every night. Also, I never realized how much Lucy did for me until she was gone. At any rate, starting now to part with stuff will definitely help when they are packing up to go to college.

    1. Oh, Melissa, thank you for this…I know that you’re right.
      I was just telling a friend who has kids in preschool/elementary that when kids are little, you can’t imagine them growing up and going off to college – and life. But, it slowly happens – as it should – and then you get ready for them to leave and THEY are ready to leave. We’re on that path…for sure!
      Thanks again, friend! 🙂

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