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(TM) 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(TM)”- 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.

  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.