This year one of my goals is to have less “stuff”. I’m try­ing to con­sume less chem­i­cal gross­ness (just because it’s vegan, doesn’t mean you should eat it…like Baco’s) and to purge unnec­es­sary junk from our house.

We’ve really been try­ing to focus on nour­ish­ing our bod­ies. And with a lit­tle prep, it’s too easy not to!

I make a rice cooker of quinoa or some other grain each Sun­day and we’ve been eat­ing vari­a­tions on this bowl, with some raw veg­gies, avo­cado, maybe some beans and a shoyu/toasted sesame oil sauce that makes for a seri­ously sat­is­fy­ing meal. By chopping/shredding enough veg­gies at once to last a cou­ple of days, and hav­ing the grains ready, there is no chronic Virgo inde­ci­sive­ness plagu­ing our meal times and leav­ing us eat­ing beans, chips and salsa for the eleventy bil­lionth time.

Now, if you know Jim and I, we are pro­fes­sional hob­by­ists. Between the two of us, we have enough books, doc­u­men­taries, instru­ments, tech­no­log­i­cal stuff, craft sup­plies, tools and kitchen equip­ment to keep us busy for the rest of our lives! Add to that hec­tic sched­ules and, well, the clut­ter begins.

We’ve also been purg­ing stuff! This was round one of sev­eral to the thrift store. Even after mov­ing cross-country twice with each other, we’re still bad about hold­ing onto things. While it can be hard, try­ing to emo­tion­ally detach your­self from your pos­ses­sions is prob­a­bly one of the health­i­est things you can do. It can be hard to not beat your­self up when you see things you know you don’t want, but at the time you *had* to have, but there’s no point. Some­one else will be delighted by it and you’ll have that much more phys­i­cal (and men­tal) clar­ity. Just keep that gnaw­ing feel­ing in mind the next time you try talk­ing your­self into some­thing you don’t need. :) (Like the ice cream maker I just bought on sale… wait, though, I need that, right?)

What are you try­ing to remove from your house this year, lit­er­ally or fig­u­ra­tively? Stop­ping neg­a­tive think­ing, mean self-talk or the pile of junk that accu­mu­lates on your night stand? I’m ter­ri­ble about leav­ing my dirty clothes on the floor of the bath­room after I take a shower, we’ve all got bad habits to shed!

Leave a com­ment about what you’re try­ing to elim­i­nate from your life this year and you’ll be entered into a draw­ing for a copy of my cook­book, nom!nom!nom! but­tons and some spe­cial secret good­ies from Food Fight! Yes– more stuff! 😉

Com­ment before Mon­day the 15th to be entered!


60 Responses to cleaning house contest!

  1. Kristin says:

    I’m actu­ally hop­ing to get all ani­mal prod­ucts out of my house (and my life!) this year. I started eat­ing mostly vegan in Decem­ber, but I still have a ways to go. Luck­ily, I’ve dis­cov­ered that I’m totally obsessed with cook­ing and bak­ing vegan food (mmm banana bread and chewy choco­late pep­per­mint cook­ies), so that’s helpful.

    Oh, and I think my hus­band would be thrilled if the pile of clothes next to my side of the bed disappeared!

    • Kris says:

      I have the same pile of clothes on my side of the bed, too! Every time I get it cleaned up I think, “Okay, this is not hap­pen­ing again.” And then a sweat­shirt appears. And some socks. The next thing I know, one of our cats has claimed it as a bed. :)

  2. a-k says:

    I feel like I purge every cou­ple months or so but there is still a weight on me of emo­tional attach­ments to things tucked at the back of a dark closet… well, that and I’m the only one who does the deep clean­ing (my part­ner is a super intense pack­rat some­times, so I’ve resorted to just get­ting rid of things for her). Also, that salad looks mighty tasty!

    • Kris says:

      I have to do the same thing with Jim. He’ll hold on to things that are in such ridicu­lous shape… and then one day they mys­te­ri­ously dis­ap­pear. Hmm… :)

  3. Sandy says:

    I just emp­tied my pantry of all bad foods esp. any­thing with chem­i­cals I have no clue as to what they are. It is thinned out and looks great!! I also purged my clos­ets of sweaters I don’t wear and am giv­ing some books away as well. Feels good to spring clean even though more rain is in our future. :)

  4. Beth says:

    I have a num­ber of things I’m try­ing to purge and all very ran­dom: a cou­ple hun­dred Dis­ney cloi­sonne pins, an antique Singer sewing machine, 3 direc­tors chairs, some elec­tron­ics stuff, 2 garbage bags of designer clothes, and last but not least.… a bear trap (it was for a film shoot! and we’re gonna sell it to a prop house for sure– don’t want it in the wrong hands!). Thing is, I just started school again this week which means NO TIME! Augh! I want this stuff out of here now!

  5. Boris says:

    I’m with you on the clothes pil­ing; what­ever sys­tem I’ve tried I’ve always reverted back to Gravity-Assisted Tex­tile Dis­tri­b­u­tion™ after a day or two.
    Own­ing less is really one of my key issues (though I’m not much of an accu­mu­la­tor and given the small flat I live in it would prob­a­bly be imprac­ti­cal), one I get worked up about now and again. I’ve found that when­ever I down-sized in one area, say DVDs, I’d start col­lect­ing stuff in another, like bak­ing stuff. I think what I do want to get rid of this year is some of my books. There’s a quite a few and some I have never looked into or won’t any­more for sure, and of course I like to read and am a wee bit of a bib­lio­phile, but, really, what’s the use of a bad book?
    On the other hand, you do of course realise that by giv­ing away good­ies you’re not mak­ing it eas­ier for us, your dear read­ers, to down­size our house­holds. Then again, your cook­book would be one I’d most def­i­nitely never want to get rid of!

    • Kris says:

      Gravity-Assisted Tex­tile Dis­tri­b­u­tion™”- I love this! Trade­marked :) or not, I’m using it for sure!

      Yes, I real­ize the silli­ness of giv­ing peo­ple stuff while talk­ing about purg­ing stuff, but I can assure that my book won’t make its way to the thrift store! And some of the other good­ies will be con­sum­ables, so they won’t last long. :)

  6. jessy says:

    i love that you’ve been cook­ing up big batches of grains and pre­cut­ting veg­gies and such. dan and i started doing that last year and it really does make every­thing so much eas­ier — and makes less “tater tots and veg­gie burg­ers” meals around here, too. ah ha ha! clean­ing out all the stuff you no longer really need it tough to do, for sure. i am attached to some things in the attic that i just don’t have the heart to give away yet, but i really need to. they’re just tak­ing up space and i know that some­one else will give them a great home.

    this year i’m try­ing to waste less — so i’m get­ting rid of being waste­ful. i’m try­ing to waste less food, water, money, energy, etc. there are good days and days when i fall back a lit­tle — but i’m try­ing and it’s work­ing and i’m see­ing improve­ment. i’m also try­ing to sloooooow down. i real­ize that i’m over­whelmed and stressed out a lot — there’s always so much going on and there’s always inter­net, tele­vi­sion, phone calls, work, house work, etc. i need to stop and sloooooow down and just take it easy & breathe a lit­tle more, ya know? i think being less waste­ful kinda ties in with that, it forces me to be more aware and really pay atten­tion, too. it’s nice! hooray for a good purg­ing of things — and keep it up, Kris! oh yes, and thanks for the give-away. fin­gers crossed!

    • Kris says:

      I agree with you, Jessie. Wast­ing less and tak­ing time to slow down are SO impor­tant. I think that the 90’s push for every­one to mul­ti­task has bro­ken our brains. I find myself some­times doing so many ridicu­lous things at once.

  7. Carla says:

    I’m try­ing to get rid of children’s toys — the ones my kids have out­grown but are stub­bornly refus­ing to part with, even the bribe of hav­ing a garage sale (they love them for some rea­son) and being able to buy some­thing with the pro­ceeds isn’t enough to tempt them into giv­ing up these toys, which they no longer play with!!
    I could just do it myself and take the fall­out after­wards, but I’d pre­fer they were involved.

    • Kris says:

      I think it’s great that you are so patient with your kids, Carla. My dad was in the mil­i­tary, so there was some seri­ous no-nonsense poli­cies in our house. I think involv­ing them now will keep them from becom­ing the pack rat I’ve grown to be as an adult who hates to let go!

  8. Aimee says:

    I have so many craft sup­plies that I never use any­more. I keep try­ing to purge but I always stop and think “but I might need this…someday!” Ugh! I’m deter­mined to give away some of that stuff. My Mom vol­un­teers at a hos­pi­tal art ther­apy pro­gram so that’s where it’ll go.

    • Kris says:

      Craft sup­plies are hard because there’s no statute of lim­i­ta­tions on them, like the skinny jeans you know you won’t wear or other things. I have my own stash, myself!

  9. Vaala says:

    I’m try­ing to remove my neg­a­tive and destruc­tive self talk this year. Have tried this before and haven’t done so well but I think this year is going to be the year!

    I already have your cook­book and but­tons but my boyfriend fell in love with the Ulti­mate Brown­ies from that book and has a thing for but­tons so another copy would never go amiss!!

    • Kris says:

      Self-talk is SO hard to change. One thing that I try to work on, when I’m doing yoga, is set­ting the inten­tion to love myself dur­ing my prac­tice. No com­par­ing or whin­ing inwardly about what I can’t do, only enjoy­ing what I can. I’ve got­ten quite good at cut­ting out my self talk there, so now I try to take it off the mat with me. “I will be nice and for­giv­ing to myself for the rest of the day”. Some days are more suc­cess­ful than oth­ers, but there are def­i­nite improve­ments being made!

  10. KarmaLily says:

    I’d really like to elim­i­nate pro­cras­ti­na­tion from my life this year! Also, I’d like to decrease the amount of trash I pro­duce. I’m plan­ning on get­ting every­thing I can bulk instead of boxed/bagged/canned. There’s a health food store within walk­ing dis­tance of my apart­ment that even has bulk olive oil and shampoo!

  11. Josiane says:

    I’d love to find a way to stop accu­mu­lat­ing those piles of stuff that clut­ter my kitchen table (and night stand, and work desk, and the kitchen win­dowsill, and… well, you get the point!) — even when I get around to declut­ter­ing those areas, the piles are back in no time. {sigh} I’m still hope­ful I’ll find a way to keep my space unclut­tered… one day…

    • Kris says:

      I’m a pile per­son, too. You should see our sub­counter… and night stands… and bath­room counter… tops of book­shelves. I always say that it’s clut­ter and not dirty/unsanitary– big dif­fer­ence so at least I’m up on one thing!

  12. cmb0096 says:

    Great to see you post­ing again–yay :-)

    I am try­ing to elim­i­nate clutter–even when I “clean” I just kind of organize/dust/clean the clut­ter and I have had it! Every year I clean out my closet and take clothes to Good Will, but I don’t do the rest of my apt, and I have no idea why. Emo­tional clut­ter has to go to…I am not sure how best to tackle that one, but I really do need to come up with some­thing. It is not healthy to carry it all around with you…


  13. TerraD says:

    I’m try­ing to remove a lot from my life, this year. I’m try­ing to go green, so I have to get rid of a ton of not so great toi­letries (think per­fume that was given for Christ­mas 2005, but smells hor­ri­bly), tons of teenager cloth­ing that I try to mix with my adult styles (I’m 25 now, I need to move on). I need to purge the neg­a­tiv­ity, the friends that are stuck in one place and not try­ing to pro­ceed in any way, the unnec­es­sary stress, and mediocrity.

    • Kris says:

      I totally know what you mean about mov­ing on from high school. It’s hard to rec­on­cile becom­ing an adult. It was hard for me to stop going to the junior’s sec­tion at Kohl’s for the longest time. Your goals seem really great for progress.

  14. Lisa says:

    My goal is to elim­i­nate excuses! I’m too quick to find a rea­son NOT to do some­thing, but when­ever I do fol­low through, I’m so happy I did. So the excuses have to go. It seems eas­ier to avoid risk, but then I end up just col­lect­ing regrets.

    I already met my other goal of elim­i­nat­ing the clothing/shoes/accessories that I never wear. Had a great cloth­ing swap with friends, and donated all the left­overs to Good­will. Such a great feel­ing, plus I got some great cute new things for free cour­tesy of my pals’ give­away piles.

    Great post — I love read­ing every­one else’s comments.

    • Kris says:

      Through some train­ing I was lead­ing at work, we got to talk­ing about real time vs. per­ceived time. When you don’t want to do some­thing it seems like it will be hor­ri­ble and take over your life… and then when you do it, it wasn’t so bad after all. But it’s hard to get over that hump.

      Fun idea with the cloth­ing swap!

  15. Allison R says:

    I’m try­ing to purge old files and papers. My recipe files are over­stuffed, but I keep find­ing rea­sons to hold onto them!

    Can you tell me about your shoyu/sesame oil sauce? Do you just mix the two together?

    • Kris says:

      Alli­son: It’s super easy– equal parts shoyu and sesame. If I’m feel­ing ambi­tious I throw it in the Vita-Mix with a lit­tle chunk of gin­ger. It’s got a potent fla­vor, so a lit­tle goes a long way, but it’s SO good.

  16. Allison says:

    I would really love to declut­ter my mail box, my recy­cle bin and my trash­can. Mail­box by get­ting less junk mail that I never care a thing about. Recy­cle bin by reduc­ing and reusing rather than sim­ply recy­cling. And my trash can by com­post­ing and buy­ing things with next to no packaging.

    Your bowl looks so yummy by the way. Do you really like using a rice cooker vs a pot? I can never deter­mine if another appli­ance is really worth it.

    Oh, and I am totally going to start call­ing myself a pro­fes­sional hob­by­ist. I have tools and equip­ment and know-how to do far too many things I never have time to do.

    • Kris says:

      Alli­son– I LOVE my rice cooker. I make quinoa, rice, wild rice, ama­ranth, you name it, and it turns out per­fect and fluffy every time. You don’t need to worry about tem­per­a­ture or burn­ing to the bot­tom of the pot, it just hap­pens and it seems to cook faster than the stove. It’s so con­ve­nient, too, because I’ll come home and throw some grains on and then I can work out or do what­ever else and then by the time I’m done, half of din­ner is there.

    • Dave says:

      I sec­ond that — a rice cooker is one of the best and most-used appli­ances in our kitchen. Find­ing the space for yet another appli­ance is worth the price of per­fect rice.

  17. Kiersten says:

    I am try­ing to get rid of some of my eating/food issues and all the neg­a­tive thoughts in my head. I also need to declut­ter my apart­ment. We moved in less than 2 months ago and there’s still a few boxes lay­ing around.

  18. I just dis­cov­ered your web­site and it’s great! (So I’m slow). I remem­ber your old web­site when you were ‘Squir­rel’. So many neat recipes, I can’t wait to try them!

  19. Megan says:

    Oh man, you should have seen all the old text­books we got rid of last month. Sev­eral BOXES worth. Why was I still hang­ing on to text­books from my first major (that I changed fresh­man year)?!

    • Kris says:

      I still have lots of text books, too. I always think, “I might want to relearn about this.” Books are the most dif­fi­cult thing for me to part with.

  20. Megan says:

    I need to go through all my clothes again, I try to do this a cou­ple times a year but I’m find­ing it harder and harder to part with things because you never know when you’re gonna need it, right?
    My hus­band and I are a bit pack-ratty so it prob­a­ble wouldn’t kill us to go through every­thing we have in out stor­age room; we seem to keep accu­mu­lat­ing large boxes for the day that we MIGHT move out of our apart­ment and it’s got­ten a lit­tle out of hand. It’s not that we’re attached to these boxes, I think it’s more the issue of being lazy 😉

  21. Paula says:

    My goal this year is to elim­i­nate clut­ter a lit­tle bit at a time and to have a place for every­thing. I declut­tered one bath­room drawer and it is amaz­ing how much quicker it is to keep clean and get ready in the morn­ing. Oh, and to not leave my slip­pers in the bath­room every morning.

    • Kris says:

      I finally broke down and bought a jew­elry box so to help clean up my crazy mess in the bath­room draw­ers. Now it’s just find­ing the ambi­tion to actu­ally clean through all of it. 😛

  22. Woops! I didn’t real­ize I was enter­ing a con­test by post­ing! I can’t throw out any­thing right now, we haven’t had trash pick-up in over a week due to snow and we can’t get out to the main roads.

  23. Lee Ann says:

    I’m going to lose that last 15 pounds that I’ve been car­ry­ing around all these years. One fab­u­lous ben­e­fit of being vegan is that my weight has finally sta­bi­lized, even while try­ing to bake my way through Kris’s book.
    My other goal is to not only pare down what I own but to bring less home too.

  24. Molly G says:

    My part­ner, Dan is a HUGE pack-rat… I am con­stantly mak­ing him clean and get rid of things like old mail.

    For me, I would love to be able to get rid of my old clothes. I have clothes from high school (six years ago), clothes with stains, clothes with holes, etc. It would be wise of me to get some new clothes and get rid of the old, but I hate wasting!

    • Kris says:

      Jim has this mock turtle­neck– I’m embar­rassed to even say it, and it’s so awful look­ing… I think it may “dis­ap­pear” some­time in the near future… that’s the way things have to go with him and clothes!

  25. Abby says:

    I too am try­ing to elim­i­nate clut­ter from my life by remem­ber­ing that “stuff” isn’t impor­tant (ok, except the stuff that has super-serious sen­ti­men­tal­ity). I’ve found that it some­times helps to purge with a friend who can put some of your sen­ti­men­tal­ity in per­spec­tive. Also, really good stuff can go to a con­sign­ment store & you can for­ward the prof­its to your favorite ani­mal charity!

  26. caroline m says:

    this year i’m work­ing on NOT throw­ing things away, iron­i­cally. we just bought a com­post and i’ve been push­ing my roomies to recycle/compost every­thing! yay for less trash!

  27. Molly says:

    Ugh…Even though I can’t see it, the knowl­edge of hav­ing a closet full of accu­mu­lated junk like old clothes, elec­tron­ics, and books…drives me crazy. It’s really a mat­ter of get­ting it all together, ask­ing myself if I really need it, and then not being lazy enough to take it to the thrift store. I recently bought a paper shred­der off Amazon–it’s ther­a­peu­tic haha! I can get rid of all the papers lying around that I don’t want to just throw into the recy­cling right away.

    I’m a bit of a clean freak, but because I’m busy, I get those piles of clothes lying around too. Once I actu­ally get to clean­ing them up or wash­ing them I feel so much better!

    One thing I really want to do this year, or this month really, amongst other cleans­ing activities…is clean up my com­puter! All the old files and programs…ah, I want to upgrade my oper­at­ing sys­tem too. That’d be nice. 😀

  28. Dave says:

    My wife and I bought way too much house when we bought, and it quickly filled with crap. We both want to just get rid of all the “stuff” — the books, the DVD’s, the CD’s, the craft sup­plies (ok… not ALL the craft sup­plies) so that we can sell this house and downsize.

    We’ve switched to ebooks and our local library rather than buy­ing books, Net­flix instead of buy­ing DVD’s, and dig­i­tal down­loads of music instead of buy­ing CD’s. The last big project is to purge and/or scan our phys­i­cal files. Not look­ing for­ward to that, though.

    • Kris says:

      Isn’t it amaz­ing how you can find stuff to fill a space? We’ve switched to dig­i­tal media, too, and it works great!

  29. hayleylujah says:

    I’m try­ing to elim­i­nate pro­cras­ti­nat­ing. I’ll look at my messy room and think “Oh, I’ll take the time to clean this tomor­row.” and then I end up putting it off for longer and longer. So I’m going to try my best this year to do things when they need to be done and stop being so darn lazy.

  30. brandi says:

    I’ve elim­i­nated sugar com­pletely from my diet and for­tu­nately this has helped me to work on con­sum­ing less processed foods. along with this, I’ve been try­ing to elim­i­nate all of my habit­ual pro­cras­ti­na­tion which is waaay harder than the lack of sugar in my life.

  31. Crystal says:

    I have decided that every month I’m going to go through my house and get rid of 100 items. Could be any­thing from clothes I never wear, dishes I rarely use, junk food in my pantry, or sen­ti­men­tal tchotchkes I’ve been hang­ing on to for no good rea­son. It’s man­age­able enough that I don’t feel over­whelmed when doing it and I actu­ally have fun try­ing to come up with my 100 items!

    I’m also going to try to stop hoard­ing food. My pantry is walk-in with a lot of shelves and over the years I’ve stuffed those shelves full. While I like hav­ing a lot of options avail­able to me at any given moment I also want to be able to pick up items for a new recipe and not feel bad about not using up what’s already in the pantry.

    • Kris says:

      Wow, 100 items! That is ambi­tious! I also have the same prob­lem with my pantry. It seems like if there is room you’ll find stuff to fit in there.

  32. Ang says:

    I am try­ing to get rid of the per­pet­ual pile of paper, clothes and cro­chet at my side of the bed.
    My hus­band is a pack rat, he’s kept TV guides for the last 6 years which he has promised to get rid of this month.
    We have promised each other no more clut­ter, that we will take down to the char­ity shop stuff we don’t use.

  33. Michal says:

    I just found your blog, and I really do love it. The header, your phi­los­o­phy and your photos! :)

    I am also try­ing to get rid of all of the unness­cary crap that I have col­lected over my short sev­en­teen years of life. Its been an on going thing but with each bag I throw away I feel a lit­tle lighter.