Friday, February 17, 2023

The process is called Swedish Death Cleaning, who knew?

I finally have both the time and energy to stop by and send out a hello.   January and February are usually slow months for us but they have been just the opposite this year. When I have been home, I have been working on projects as well as the usual cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc.  I'm still behind on correspondence and such!

One thing that is normal from past years is that I like to use these post-Holiday winter months to "fluff the nest".  I often declutter, although this year it is taking on an entire new emphasis.  I also use this time to change some things around in the house like relocating some artwork to make it fresh, changing around some plants to other areas, moving photos from one room to another, etc.

Last year, I switched the larger vertical print of a woman in prayer to the opposite side of the dining area from where it had been since we moved into this house.  I hung it where there had been a large horizontal artwork and then hung that piece where the vertical print had been.  It has been a year and I'm still looking at how much I like the switch.  The vertical print is one of my favorites and it was in a place where I rarely saw it before the move.  It was a refreshed look for less than five minutes of work.

I have continued the files project, although it is on hold for a couple of weeks as a couple other projects call out to be completed.  As I write today, the Study is full of boxes and I have just enough room to walk to the desk and work on the computer.  We have a walk in shower being installed on Monday, replacing the very old 1960s era shower/tub in the bathroom.  After nearly falling a few times, it became a priority for safety reasons. 

I want to write more about world events and the pantry lifestyle soon.  That will have to wait until the installation is finished and the boxes are out of the Study.  They also have to replace the flooring as it will be scuffed up and they are going to paint the bathroom while they are here.

The files in the Study are pretty much sorted, kept or tossed, and are now easy to maintain.  I was able to get a good start on the "homeschooling drawer" in our small office but it is a slower process.  That project will be taken up again after the bathroom project is finished.  It takes time because more thought is needed about what to keep and what to toss.

My decluttering and getting rid of stuff project that I have been doing the past few years has a name and I didn't even know it.  You may remember that it is inspired when we realized what a burden it would be for our kids someday to 1) go through our stuff, and 2) sell the house with the much needed updates still undone.

So, we have budgeted every extra dollar to fixing and updating the house.  It is a good, solid, and even attractive small house but it was built in the 1960s so... and I can relate personally... it needs some work.    Our goal is that when we need to sell the house, there will be no surprise expenditures for our family.

As for the organizational part of the fluffing, I found out there is a name for what I have been doing for years (and getting really serious about it this past year).  There is even a book about the process called The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning.  

Now, I know it sounds morbid but it isn't at all.  It's basically that the questions we ask ourselves about what to keep or give away change as we grow older. The recommendation is that once people arrive at retirement age (approx. 65 years old), they change the way they look at keeping and getting rid of stuff based on if they will still be using the objects and/or if anyone would want it after they are gone (or just retiring to a small place).

I haven't read the book, yet, although I plan to soon.  It is small and it is supposed to be an enjoyable read about how the author went through this process in her own home.  However, there are really good YouTube videos about the process that I have watched in the past couple of months.  It was enjoyable to find out there is actually a name already for what I have been wanting to accomplish.  

Now, I have been doing this a little at a time for many years now but I'm just taking it to another level.  For instance, I inherited a complete set of Victorian era china from my mother-in-law, I collect brown transferware china, I still have the Everyday Lenox I used when both kids were home, and I have the inexpensive dishes I use everyday since there are just the two of us at home.

I did have a set of Noritake wedding china but after having a discussion with my daughter and daughter-in-law a couple years ago, I knew to keep all the china except the Noritake.  It seems no one in the family was interested in 1970s wedding china except me.  So, off it went to Goodwill where someone will find it and love it.  

That is what this process is about, let go of what no one would want when we are no longer here... then... keep what means a lot to you or you know someone will want it and yes, I still collect brown transferware because it makes my heart sing! Otherwise, I rarely purchase thrifted china.  Well, there were those two teacups that were part of the Queen Mother collection... but I digress.

One way of managing "stuff" that I have done for a few years now, too, is that when I purchase something new (to me) for the house, something goes to Goodwill or another charity.  The above photo shows the vintage scale I bought at the antique mall.  

I have wanted such a scale for that spot for at least three or four years.  I had seen them in magazine photos and homemaking videos. I finally found one that I loved and was a price I could afford.  There had been a few cookbooks at that spot so I went through my cookbooks and got rid of a few I knew I would not use, anymore.  That made room on the shelves for the cookbooks that had been in that place.

I will never be a minimalist!  There will be plenty of stuff to go to family or thrift stores when I go to my Heavenly Home... which will be perfect!  Part of the process is having those things around me that makes my heart sing without it looking cluttered.  Of course, what I think does not looked cluttered may not be what another person thinks but I am the one who lives here.

My home is my personal Goshen where I feel comfortable, where my relationship with God can grow, where what surrounds me is what I find beautiful. I'm old enough now that it doesn't matter what other people think about my decorating style or what stuff I display.  Each of our homes should be a reflection of us and not a place where we display stuff we think would impress other people.

Of course, I do share this home and mostly I take into account what my husband likes.  Mostly.  Except when he is absolutely wrong.  ;)  He does not like the vintage yellow kitchen scale.  As a former engineer, he doesn't get having anything in the kitchen that you do not plan to use for its' original purpose.

However, he is on board with the process of getting rid of stuff we do not need and the kids will not want.  Which is on the level of a miracle as he is a bit of a hoarder with paper stuff and garage stuff. He keeps what he thinks he may need someday but I reminded him that we do not need a dozen (or two) Amazon boxes.

I plan to be back in probably a little over a week or so.  Hopefully!

Mentioned in this Blog Post

The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning book... here.

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Image:  The camera takes very blurry photos at times!


Vee said...

At one point this week, I became worried about your lack of posting and went running to a mutual friend (Deanna) who gently reminded me that you had explained you'd not be posting as often. Sounds as if you have been putting your time to good use. I resist the entire decluttering move as I think it will be easier on the kids to get rid of it. They can just bull doze the place. 😏

Glad that you are getting a new walk-in shower. It will make life so much easier.

Happy decluttering and rearranging. Little things can make a big difference.

Terra said...

I have heard of Swedish death cleaning and seen some Marie Kondo decluttering TV shows, I am often doing a bit of decluttering. I read that as lifestyles change our kids will not want much of our stuff, such as china and silverware sets, wooden dining tables, Hummel collections, etc. Pianos are being abandoned right and left, so many homes had them in the 1940s and 50s. So letting go of things is a good thing to do. You are accomplishing a lot.

Shelley said...

Brenda! It's so soothing to my soul to see you back and to read your words❤ I was getting worried about you but praying that you were just taking a break. Did you know that God uses you thru your blog to relieve some of my anxiety and depression!? Tonight I will sleep well 😊 🙏🙏 Shelley

Anonymous said...

That’s a project I hope my parents will do while we’re waiting for their in law quarters to be built.

Deanna Rabe

Ann Stevens said...

So good to see your name pop up in my email this morning. Like you I get the urge each January or February to clean out closets and pantries and other "hidey" places where "stuff" gets stashed. There is something about organizing those spaces and gaining more room that lifts my spirits. It's as if a weight is taken off my shoulders so it prompts me to keep on cleaning up.

I, too, have way more dish sets and glassware than I now use. But I also have a husband who doesn't like to part with anything if at all possible. His work place in the garage is a jungle and I very rarely ever venture into that side of the garage. So trying to part with the excess dishes is a hit or miss project. I had never consider the "death cleaning" thing but it does sound like a good idea. Maybe that's the reason I get relief when I clean out the closets, etc. -- because I'm lightening the load for the future. At this point in life there are certain things we are never going to use again for sure.

I've been considering the walk in shower process for our master bath for some time but have not yet approached my reluctant husband about it until we get some other projects out of the way. I had a knee replacement a few months ago (which has healed nicely thank God) and had to use our guest bath with the walk in shower -- so glad we had one at that time. I'm sure you will very much enjoy yours and feel much safer.

Glad to hear from you again. And will look forward to your next post. said...

So good to hear from you!
Yes, I've read that book, we passed it around our "older ladies" friends group. We're trying to clean out our houses and making it easier for our kids when we leave this earth. Pictures are my biggest hangup right now, but I know our son doesn't want them , so I'll continue to enjoy them and eventually get rid of them.
It will be nice that you can enjoy your new bathroom, but sorry to hear of your falls, take care.

Marie said...

I am so glad to see your post--I have missed you! Though I haven't read the book, I have been doing exactly what you suggest. We cleaned out the attic a few years ago, and I told the kids they should thank me. LOL They just looked at me, having no idea. Looking forward to your next installment!

mdoe37 said...

Glad to hear you are updating to a walk-in shower. Better now than when there is an emergency and it becomes a panic to get a contractor. My parents did that a few years ago which served them well for the time they were still living. I ended up selling my home and moving to their home after their deaths for the time being.

But the Lord had some sort of plan.... After dealing with what I thought was back pain for a couple of years, it turns out I have severe arthritis in my hip. Scheduled for a total hip replacement on the 28th. All those handicap bars and walk-in shower will be handy for a minute. lol. My old house would not have been easy at recover in at all.

Never thought I would be changing out body parts at 58. :)

A Woman that Fears the Lord said...

I started downsizing 10 years ago when my husband became disabled and we went from 2600 sq. ft to 750 sq. ft. I have continued. We moved this past year to a 1500 sq. ft. home. I continue to get rid of things because I do not want my children to have to deal with a ton of our things that they will never use. It's very freeing.