Clearing Away, Stash Management, and a Plan

January is the perfect time to clear out the old, and reduce the size of the stash resource center before it gets out of hand.  Seeing as I have stashes of different things in several storage areas, I have tried to concentrate on just one area at a time.  I’ve been watching a lot of hoarder shows on TV (yes, a guilty pleasure, LOL, don’t tell anyone, OK?).  Hard to say if that is motivating me or not, but I have slowly begun to reduce some of the stuff.  I wouldn’t go so far as to say I am downsizing like a few of my blogger friends have done, but I am reducing some of the stashes.  So, maybe if I talk about my plan, I’ll be more accountable to actually doing it.  If you are in the mood to clear out a bit this month, here are a few of my previous posts on de-cluttering and figuring out what you really want and what can go.  First, Clearing out the Stash Closet Resource Center, sometimes you have to make a mess first before you can clear out the unwanted yardage and organize the scraps.

Stash Reorganization ~ From My Carolina Home

But apparently this didn’t ‘take’, as I had to do more the next January.  January Scraps Clean Out.  See my solution for the overflow baskets.  I’ll be taking a some of my patriotic fabrics to the QOV Sew Day, so that will help.  The stash does keep growing, and I need to do another bit of purging this year.

Scrap Madness at

If you enjoy cooking, see how I organized my recipes from years of magazines in this post – Getting Organized Saving Recipes.  I have kept up with this so no more stacks of paper and magazines just sitting around.  I have tried to stop looking at the magazine exchange at the library too.  Difficult for me sometimes!!

Recipe Organizing | From My Carolina Home

I cleared out my spice and herb cabinet that same year.  Would you believe that some of these things were so old that they didn’t even have a date?

Spring Clean Spice Cabinet at From My Carolina Home

Two years ago, I went through my linen drawers and cleared out the things I never use, and threw out some things too stained to use anymore.  January Clean Out Project also saw some dishes go to the thrift store (and a few that came home with me, sigh).  I need to do this again, with much more ruthlessness this year.  I don’t see myself doing much in the way of dinner parties anymore, no one else around here seems to do those.  Everyone just wants to go out to eat.  So I just don’t need as much stuff.  I still see having a nice table for us to eat our meals (and perhaps the occasional luncheon with sewing buddies), so some decisions need to be made.  I just donated the parfait glasses I got at the thrift store and showed on that post.  I had them for three years and only used them a half dozen times.

January Clean Out and Thrift Store finds

I tried to clear out a box of papers and finish cleaning out the office closet, but it didn’t last long.  That closet still holds boxes of papers and detritus from my childhood and maybe this year it can go.  But I was able to clear some old records and photographs in Cleaning Out.  All my mother’s records are still there, and it has been ten years since she passed away.  I think they can all go through the shredder now, so that is on my list for this year.

Clearing out From My Carolina Home

For the past several months, I have made an effort to donate books I have already read.  I rarely re-read anything anymore, so keeping a library has become less important.  Here is the ‘before’ of just the library shelves.  Stuffed, with no room for anything else, I need to pare down.  I have tried reading on a Kindle borrowed from the library, but I just don’t care for it.  Sometimes I like to go back to earlier pages as I read to refresh who is who, or a description of a place, and that is much harder on an electronic device.  With a real book, I usually remember about how far back I need to go, and which side of the page the description is on.  My plan is to finish off what I have yet to read, then borrow books from the library.

My Bookshelves at From My Carolina Home

Last week I did pretty well, I donated about 50 books (mostly from the paperback shelves) and only came home with four.  It looks a bit nicer with fewer books and more display space for crystal and other pieces.  But I still have a long way to go.  I need to donate a set of gardening encyclopedias, and pare down the cookbooks to just the cookbook shelf near the kitchen.  Then I need to decide if I am ever going to go back and re-read all the Mary Stewart books or the VC Andrews books, and perhaps donate those too.

January Clean Out

Here’s the ‘before’ pic of the office bookshelf.  The paperbacks are stacked two-deep.  Almost all of these are cozy mysteries (over 200 on this shelf), and I am tired of the genre.  Some of these are already gone in the donation last week.  But there are a lot left.  My Goodreads report says I read and reviewed 35 books last year, but the real number is closer to 50.  I just don’t bother reviewing cozy mysteries anymore as they are pretty much all the same.

My Bookshelves at From My Carolina Home

Once again this spring, I’ll go through my closet.  What’s In Your Closet? involves taking a hard look at every item, deciding what can be repaired or altered, what is stained beyond use and should be thrown away, what no longer fits and can be donated, and what to keep.  There is detailed wardrobe analysis information on that post, applicable to clothes lovers like me, and to the nothing but t-shirts and jeans crowd, too.

Closet Cleanout at From My Carolina Home

So, there is my dirty little secret, out in the open.  Hi, my name is Carole, and I am a bona fide pack rat. (Thank you, I did hear some saying hello, Carole!)  I need to clear out more books, more dishes, more stuff in general.  Some of the costume jewelry, collectibles and dishes will go on ebay soon.  I’ll have to tackle the two large bookshelves full of quilting, sewing, crafting and stamping books in the sewing room as well.  I’ll give you all first crack at those, then they will go up for sale and anything not selling will go to the charity book store Books For Good.  Now that I am doing my own designs, I just don’t have time to do the pretty quilts in most of those books.  Nor do I have the space anymore either, as my quilt shelves are overflowing and the guest room cannot hold any more.  My sample sale helped that, and several more quilted items were donated to charity auctions.  I still have two more to get rid of, and I’ll see where they can go soon.  I think this year I’ll concentrate on wall hangings and smaller projects that sell more easily after the design work is done.  Although, naturally I have decided to do the queen size of Scrap Dance Twist Mystery.  That mystery quilt along begins on Friday.

Do you have a goal for cleaning something out this month?

38 thoughts on “Clearing Away, Stash Management, and a Plan

  1. If that is all of your fabric, I would say you are in good shape! It is always good to go through our things and decide what is really worth holding on to and discard the rest. I am sure you will do well with those endeavors. Thanks for the inspiration.

  2. Rita C.

    She who dies with the most fabric wins, right? I remember a quilting friend telling me that back in the early 80s, when she and her mother had a huge shed FULL of fabrics (and she’s an award winning quilter now).
    Oh, seeing these photos is a bit of a trigger for my 2019 trauma of downsizing, but I am all for getting in and doing it. I normally do a purge in January, but this year’s will be much smaller, as it was continuous last year. I do want to tackle scanning more paper from years’ past. I made great headway last year but then stopped at the move in April.
    This is a good, motivating post!

  3. mlmcspadden

    I definitely have goals for going thru and cleaning out things – i’m looking at potentially having to move cross-country again this year so it is time once again to go thru things.

    So far – two boxes of books (paperbacks and hardbacks) are in the car and waiting to be dropped off somewhere. I’ve gone thru my tote of precuts and weeded out from that….some to be listed for sale, and a couple to be sent as a surprise to a quilting friend. Lots more to go, including getting rid of most of the clothing related fabrics that I have held onto.

  4. Linda B

    Get rid of anything else, but don’t get rid of your Mary Stewart books Carole! Ha! They are hard to come by, and are my favorites to re-read. I don’t know why our library does not carry them any longer. It is funny how the internet has changed even how we access information at home. I used to feel sort of proud that I did not seem to be a collector of anything except a few sterling silver demitasse spoons, but then realized that I like to collect information. Yes, the recipes are a big part of that, but also how-to stuff, and I am realizing that info is possibly the worst possible thing to be a collector of! I find it challenging to rethink what things are important (to me) to hold onto, and what are not, as these things keep changing. I do type out the few recipes I actually try to follow each time, and have a notebook of these. But mostly seem to google specific info now instead of looking up elsewhere, so why am I keeping all these things? Will we always have the internet?

    1. Ruth

      Last year I wanted to read some Nevil Shute books, a writer who covered part of WWI and on to WWII with his novels. I only have a few. Couldn’t find a single one of them in the library. No Dorothy Gilman “Mrs. Pollifax” books either. The libraries today have plenty of “room for expansion”. But they’ve been doing that for nearly 20 years now, and they never “expand,” they just get rid of more books. Why would empty shelf space in a library be more important than books on shelves?
      I read all of Mary Stewart’s books too. Only kept Airs Above the Ground and the Moon-Spinners. I just don’t have room for all the books I like.

  5. stephzw

    It is your stuff, don’t let someone else tell you to get rid of it. If it makes you happy keep it. I hoard material myself, and I don’t plan on getting rid of any of it.

  6. Sallie Minnich

    Re resourcing my resources is a constant activity. My likes, styles tend to change a bit with time. I am keeping less and less of books, patterns, papers as so much is on the internet and I forget that I have saved the DIY pinecone wreath from the seventies!!

  7. I’ve been doing the same thing. Perhaps a new year is the motivator of needing a more organized life. I just ordered new spice racks so that is my next project.

  8. Brenda

    i can definitely identify with your plight. I have a Fiesta collection and they just came out with a new color that I love, and I do not need any more dishes – but just one in that color! My clothes and stash are out of control . I am old and need help moving and arranging but where to find it. Ah, to be young again and full of energy and motivation!

  9. Mary Ed Williams

    About the queen size mystery quilt – would it be possible to give dimensions for a smaller quilt? I have nothing queen size (well, except for my appetite and stash). New to your blog and I really like it. I live in Pittsboro, a little east of you.

  10. KJ

    Wow, impressive purging. We downsized from a 2200 square foot rancher to a 1600 square foot condo in November. It doesn’t sound like a huge difference, but it sure is. We pre-bought the condo so I had plenty of time to sort and purge.Several garage sales made us quite a bit of money, and space. The main part of unpacking is complete and we are now bringing items from the paid storage locker into the condo. A donation box is a constant presence. I did a lot of purging but lots of doorways means many items of heirloom furniture do not fit and are being donated. It isn’t easy, nor is it fun anymore, but it is necessary in order to enjoy our new home. Yes, I was able to start sewing again this week. The room is not complete but is clear enough to start sewing again.
    Good luck to everyone who wants to declutter, for whatever reason. 🙂

  11. I need to take a serious look at my closet…but I may wait another season until these hot flashes quit…I could go back to my freezing self that needs those blazers! I think I will take a serious look at my sweater drawers. I have several that I never wear, and they should just go!
    It is also time for a serious clean out and organization of the resource shelf in my sewing room. I doubt I’ll throw anything out, but it definitely needs some attention!
    Good luck as you evaluate and purge!

  12. Priscilla

    Great job of cleaning out! I’m slowly doing the same thing. Just finished The Gown last night. I loved it!!

  13. Debbie Miller

    It must be the season to clean and clear! So many I know are doing that. I definitely need to as I am also a lifelong packrat. I or a family member always need something right after I have gotten rid of it! Also, when cleaning-I sometimes get so distracted when I find a forgotten treasure!

  14. Ann D

    Your list of areas to clean is reminding me that I could do some decluttering too. However, when I pull out everything to clean a space, I wind up putting much of the stuff back due to being overwhelmed with having to decide what to do with the stuff and where it should go. I have been subscribed to the blog ‘A slob comes clean’ and she has a different approach to decluttering which is making more sense to me.
    Well, we both have plans to clear stuff out and that is what matters. I have a guest closet which getting filled by things that don’t really belong in that space but I have not figured out where they really should go. Time to get stuff out of the house.

  15. Yes, we’re reducing books, filing cabinet paperwork, clothes etc. I have already cleared out our large linen cupboard and donated over half of the bed linens and towels to a refugee centre in our nearby city. I’m using scraps in my quilts all the time (an ongoing project for the past few years). I also intend to go through every drawer and cupboard to get rid of a lot of things we don’t need anymore. A big job, so doing a little in small bursts of time. Very satisfying though.

  16. Connie Bailey

    I can do all the things you mentioned in this post but you missed a huge part that many of us have trouble with. How can you give away things that have emotional attachment? Things that belonged to my mother, grandmother and mother in law. Other family members don’t have an interest in them but I can’t bear to have someone other than family have them. Any suggestions?

    1. Sandra Clark

      Well, as a person who has practically NOTHING from my grandparents and other ancestors, I urge you to ask ALL the kinfolk if they want your heirlooms before giving them to a thrift shop. There is usually someone in each generation who cares about the family legacy. My oldest sister inherited the beautiful handmade quilt from my maternal grandma, but I”m a middle child and often middle children don’t get diddle squat 🙂 Please ask around. A couple months ago at a local thrift shop, I found a huge old (like 100 years old) photo album full of unidentified folks from the late 1800’s…a total shame that the family member(s) got rid of it!!!

  17. Ugh!! Have you been talking to my older son? He’s been after me to go through the studio and clear out some stuff. He plans to help with that task this coming weekend. Honestly, I prefer to do that project in private (so only I know the full extent of my own overabundant fabric stash!!)

    Hello! My name is Joy. I just MIGHT be a scrap-a-holic!

  18. Brenda Ackerman

    Hello Carole, I enjoyed your post today. The only thing that I have an overabundance of is my fabric. For quite some time, I have just been getting rid of all items that just do not matter any more to me. My husband on the other hand is a big time hoarder. As long as it does not in any way effect the space in our home to the point that…well I am not sure. LOL. I still have some organizing to do in the fabric area and hope to get to that in the next few months. Thank you for sharing this fun topic and sharing yourself with us! Have a great day!

  19. connie wolfe

    You deserve a big pat on the back for all of your hard work and mental distress. I understand how things just come home with you especially from the thrift shops and the library sales. My husband and I even did this on our last extended RV trip. His justification is “it’s for charity!”.

  20. Dasha

    My hat off if you manage to do that clear out!
    My daughter had a clear out program last year that goes like this: You remove the number of items from a given area which corresponds with the day of the month. So on the first of the month you dispose of 1 item, on the second day of the month 2 items, etc., etc., By the end of the month you have rid yourself of 400+ things. I started, and managed about 3 weeks worth and then it tailed off. LOL
    As for books. Well, you’ll never get me onto Kindle. I just don’t like the way they work. Like you, I often want to go back and reread a page, or double check something I have missed or misunderstood. On the other hand I don’t buy books any more. We have a lot of book exchanges around here. There’s even a book trolley outside one of the local shops, where you can leave a book or two or take one to read. My library is my new (old) best friend! Currently reading a long out of print book which I have got from the library on interlibrary loan.

  21. So, we are doing a little painting and when you do that you naturally have to move a lot of stuff, and then decide maybe you don’t need it all. I took everything down from on top of the kitchen cabinets and decided to donate quite a bit of the items that weren’t my style (most were gifts). I also did a mini closet clean out around the entire house. I took my donations over on Monday. Out of my stamp desk, I did fill a box of things for a friend who wants to start stamping. I wasn’t ready to part with anything else from in there. Good luck with your clean out. I find the youtube clutter control videos helpful, and I like the hoarder shows as well.

  22. Jill McCaughey

    We downsized from 4800sf to 2350sf I had magazine holders piled two deep all along the hallway to my studio, along with boxes of fabric and craft items. The look on my daughters’ faces said it all…then they all asked what I intended for them to do with things when I was no longer there, as they don’t sew or craft like i do. I promised to go through every magazine, which I did, donating and recycling all but about 50. Then I sorted and donated a huge amount of fabric, and also was realistic about the crafts I no longer was interested in, and out the door things went.then I sat down, wrote a long list of who and where I wanted items to go,what community groups to sew quilts for out of my fabric, and who to call when I was gone. They were grateful. This year my guild in Arizona received the stashes from 2 of our deceased members, and we are sewing like mad. Not a dent made in the boxes we received!
    Lessons? You bet. Still a way to go, though.
    How about animal shelters for some of your linens and towels? And women’s shelters for household items, too?
    Thanks for your blog, one I enjoy reading. Jill in Phoenix/Calgary

  23. I went through a MAJOR purge 8 years ago, after many less major purges in preparation for a wonderful life change. I began by setting up 3 large boxes labeled – Keep, Go, and I Don’t Know. Once they were full I placed the Keep where they belonged, The Go Box was sorted – throw out, yard sale (in the small town I lived in my yard sales were “not to be missed” events) , and the IDK box was marked with the expiration date of 3 months & placed in my storage unit. Each week I went through this exercise, and at the 3 month mark I went through the IDK again. As I sorted up enough for a yard sale, a sale was held. My rule was whatever was left after the sale went immediately to a non-profit., not back in the house or storage. I also held a special holidays decoration yard sale with all of the seasons/holidays organized for easy shopping. That one was a big hit. For my clothes, my rule was separates/shoes/ accessories had to make 3 different outfits, dresses or suits had to have been worn at least 3 times in the season. My final purge I donated 30 boxes of books to local libraries, a truckload of quilting fabric, supplies, tools to a local quilting group I helped get started, and a nice donation to every local non-profit in our area. I pared down to where everything I owned fit in the back of a pick up truck! Now that we’re settled, I can’t say that anymore. Except for quilting/fabric stash, I continue to keep my self well contained. Books are read and donated to our neighborhood free library exchange, clothes must meet my 3 rule, and I am not the same consumer I was in my past. It was a ton of work, but I took it a step at a time. So worth it. And life is GOOD and I am Blessed. Good Luck with your efforts.

    1. Sandra Clark

      Kay, It sounds like you started over, which can be a very rewarding experience. Plus, you blessed many others in the process 🙂


  24. thedarlingdogwood

    I’ve been trying to clear out stuff and get rid of it, partially to try to not let our (small) house get too full, and partially to set a good example for my son and teach him to get rid of stuff he’s not using or playing with. My biggest challenge is time; I have so little leisure time and sorting through stuff is not my first choice of how to use it!

    So excited for the next Scrap Dance to start! I couldn’t remember when it’s starting, so glad that it sounds like tomorrow!!

  25. Nancy Roberts

    Yes, you did hear someone say, “Hello Carole.” It was me! Must say I cringed a little reading this, esp about the old spices! I wonder about some of mine- shows how often I bake and cook. And I’m with you on the books- I’d so much rather hold the book in my hands. E-readers are just ok. But the sewing room is the biggie. Good luck with yours.

  26. Carol

    I did all that organizing last year, but sadly I’m not that good at putting fabric back where it should be after finishing a project. We may be moving across country so I am acutely aware of what is coming in the house and going out. NOT sadly, I am waiting for an order from EQuilter. What can I say?? I needed a FIX!!
    XX, Carol

  27. Sandra Clark

    Your photos of your sewing closet and bookshelves are making me a little envious! Regarding your “ruthless” comment…A couple decades ago I watched a random dvd about how “that time of the month” is a blessing. I know, don’t roll your eyes. The theory is that women tend to be people pleasers and “nice” and so they often sweep stuff under the rug until “that time of the month” when all those things that really bother them insist on being dealt with. I think that is a really lovely thought, actually, that the LORD would have a mechanism for making us deal with our “junk” (physical or emotional).
    I do not agree with Marie Kondo…I”ve been a nanny to families who don’t have extra stuff around and I think it is a shame that their children don’t have a supply of craft/sewing/woodworking/art supplies. When I was a kiddo in the early 1970’s , my sisters and I would cut out “paper dolls” from old Sears catalogs and lots of other creative fun things, too. I guess it’s a matter of balance. Not too much and not too little.

    Thank you for your blog…It’s always interesting & inspiring!


  28. Joni

    Great post! I too, have been attacking all of the cabinets in our home. It is a wonderful feeling to go thru everything and toss, donate and share. I have a couple of family members doing the same, so we are each other’s sounding boards and cheer leaders.

  29. Susan Nixon

    I was thinking I should invite a non-quilting friend over, and then I should leave her alone and go to a movie while she clears things out. LOL Maybe half a dozen times!

  30. i have to agree with the timing. January is perfect. All the decorations are going away so why not sort out everything else as well?
    I managed to put together 4 very large moving boxes of decorations to donate. They have already found a new home.
    Thankfully we did our big clean out last year when the carpets were replaced. I think we can have a reprieve this year.

  31. In 2012 I was completely changing my life – retiring, moving, and so it required a major purge. Best thing I ever did. Donated 30 boxes of good books to the libraries and several boxes of paperbacks to local non-profit thrift stores. Held a three week yard sale – everything found new homes, and what was left was donated to local non-profits (truckloads). I also donated a full pickup truck load to a quilt group I help start. For my clothes I have a three outfit rule for separates – each piece must be able to be worn in three different outfits. Now that I’m retired that means blue jeans, capris, shorts mix with every t-shirt (lol). I use this for all skirts, shirts, pants, and blouses. I only have a few dresses. The stress relief from this purge is felt to this day. This year I have worked on better organizing my sewing room – folded all of my yardage on comic boards (amazing), set up a useable scrap system, and plan to tackle my patterns this week – they are all contained in a wicker hanging file box I found at Habitat. I find it easier to be more creatively productive. Good Luck in your purge journey. Take Care

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