Today Husband and I brought home our new kitten, Millie, a 5 month old tortie terror who loves to climb and is very, very active.



I have always maintained special play towers for cats are a waste of time, money, and space, and that cats will just ignore them and play with a paper bag instead.

We picked this up just after getting the kitten from the vet. I know in my heart it is an unnecessary purchase, but wouldn’t it be wonderful if she climbed all over it?

I regret buying more things as we think about downsizing and reducing our possessions.  We just can’t keep this up (but what if she really likes it and climbs all over it?).

How do you talk yourself into unnecessary purchases?  What is your plan for simplifying and reducing?

92 thoughts on “Surplus”

  1. Morning all. Based on seeing a few of my friends having to downsize this summer, I’ve started the process now, as I don’t want to wait until it’s necessary. It’s a big job at my place. So my rule is “Three things a week”. Either tossed or sold or given away – as long as they are out of the house! And my cookbook rule still stands as a separate rule – if I get a new cookbook, an old unused cookbook has to go.

    Liked by 2 people

        1. Ah, but now I’m also very picky about what I get, even if it’s free.

          However, if you have an extra Canon lens or two that you’re giving away, then I’d be more than happy to help you out. (this is my attempt to be funny.)


        2. No, not necessarily crap, PJ. It’s just not likely that I want it (see saga about cookbooks below – I function better if I don’t have very many around). However, if you have Baking from my house to yours by Dorie Greenspan that you want to give away, I’ll take that. 🙂

          Anyway, my empty shelve problem will be gone soon. Daughter, who has been keeping her cookbooks in her bedroom in order to not clutter up my shelves, has been given permission to put her cookbooks with mine. And the twins are old enough to not rip them to shreds now, so that should work out.

          Liked by 3 people

  2. I find it very easy to make unnecessary purchases and usually have to talk myself (or mainly my husband) out of buying them. If I can get a few necessary, inexpensive items at Target, I’m lucky to walk out spending less than $100 because there’s always some other things we think we need.

    Since our house foreclosed 7 years ago, we downsized quite a bit, but we still have too much stuff to fit in our little 3-bedroom townhouse. Unfortunately, most of it is Jim’s and he’s far more sentimental than I am and has a really hard time parting with stuff
    His hobbies take up a lot of space, and he likes them all out in the open so he can see them and use them quickly. Naturally, this makes for a lot of mess and clutter that I can’t clean up. (Sigh).
    For starters:.all manner of electronic components and tools, 2-3 telescopes with stands and accessories, 2+ expensive cameras, computers/tablets/phones, at least 100 bottles of essential oils, 100’s of rocks, stones, mineral specimens, shells and I haven’t even started on the books, movies and music. Of course, I have some stuff of my own, but nowhere near what he has.
    While I love that he’s intelligent and has a wide range of interests, he has always overtaken every place we have ever lived. I can’t confine his stuff to one room, or basement or garage because we don’t have the space. Ah, what’s a woman to do?
    Can’t sleep, so I’m up too early and start thinking too much.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. A little tip for those ongoing projects (from my prof. organizing days) – throw a nice looking cloth of some kind over them – out of sight (though a little lumpy, probably), and he can just whisk off the cloth when he wants to do something. Might work unless he also wants to SEE them all the time, too…


  3. Since we live in a culture that is weird on this issue, the question is troublesome. Our culture encourages us to buy, buy, buy. We get messages many times a day telling us we’ll be happy if we buy stuff. And of course, that isn’t true. People who live for a while in simpler societies are usually shocked when they come home and see our rampant materialism with fresh eyes.

    But criticizing materialism like that can be shallow and misleading. Sometimes buying stuff feels great at the time and the feeling improves over time. If you would love to be a better photographer, perhaps a new lens or new camera will improve your photos and your life.

    The only resolution I can see for this dilemma is to become an expert on one’s self. I am almost obsessed about reflecting on purchases I’ve made or hope to make, always questioning whether the cost of the thing is sensible in terms of what joy it could bring.

    The last time I bought a car might be an example. I love cars. In an average week I might spend a dozen hours studying new cars. But I can’t afford to buy one, and in fact can barely afford to run the car I bought in 2003. I spent four years researching that purchase, and I now consider it possibly the best money I ever spent.

    Liked by 5 people

      1. Yes, magazines like Oprah and Real Simple are always urging you to declutter and get rid of stuff, and oh, but the way, here’s a bunch more brand new things you will no doubt want to buy.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Congratulations on your new naughty tortie! If she’s like the others I know, she will have a very definitely personality. I’m sure you will learn quickly 😉

    As the heir of everyone else’s cast-offs, it’s pretty easy to not buy much beyond consumables.

    I’m also saving up for some big goals . Keeping that in front of me really helps, aided and abetted by taking on more work than I can easily get done.

    The two delinquents also aid in decluttering, as anything left out too long can be a tool for letting the staff know the supper dishes have been empty for too long.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. The vet tech who was fostering her said Millie has an opinion about everything. She is somewhat subdued right now since our other cat is asserting some dominence, and is hissing and spitting at her if she gets the lrsst bit out of line.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. The moment my vet met Sam, my new Ragdoll, he said, “He’s trouble, BIG trouble”. Not exactly what a new mom wants to hear, but he was right! To make the problem worse, his sister follows along, doing whatever he’s doing. The first day I let them out of the bedroom they’ve been occupying, they flew past me, knocking things off tables, eating houseplants, chewing on cords, and shattering a big glass vase. All of that within just minutes. I asked how he knew this that my cute little Sam would be “trouble”. He showed me Sam’s whiskers. On one side his whiskers are half the length of the other side, a clear indication that Sam’s been been into things which sheared his whiskers off on one side.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. You had a girlfriend with whiskers that had been sheered off on one side and who chewed on electrical cords? Some guys have no sense at all.

          Liked by 6 people

  5. I have decided that it is time to finally take mother’s old china and her silver coffee service to the thrift store. Neither my daughter nor my son want them. I keep them for sentimental reasons but don’t use them . What is the point in that ?

    Husband has his mother’s silver coffee service. It is in poor shape and would need to be replated to look nice, so he will have to make some decisions about that, too.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. There is an artist in the Twin Cities area that makes things out of old silverware and such. Silver coffee pots and sugar bowls and creamers become the centers of wind chimes, with flattened spoons hanging from them. They are quite beautiful and creative. He also makes bracelets from soon handles, and decorative hooks you can install on a wall, lots of smaller stuff. Maybe son or daughter would like something made out of a piece, as a remembrance.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I found his business card – it says “Silverfish ‘N Things By Bob – Custom Orders Available” – I have his phone number and an e-mail address, but the card does not mention a web site.

        Liked by 2 people

  6. In our Saint Paul home, both the attic and the basement were places where stuff migrated and then just sat there. I once tried to institute a policy whereby any object I had not touched in seven years was a candidate for being chucked out. Obviously, seven years was an arbitrary figure, but the idea still made sense. If we hadn’t used (or even touched) stuff for a decade or so, it was hard to make the case that we “needed” to keep it. And it was embarrassing to see how much stuff we kept around although we weren’t using it. (A prime example would be that big bag clothing that had fit several years ago but now . . . not so well!)

    Liked by 1 person

  7. The “plan” isn’t much: think about downsizing a lot, talk about it a bit less, get rid of things occasionally. Thrift store for most things, the library for old books, scrap metal recycling for “junk.” Tried to sell some old electronics with mixed results. For us, one of the best ways to get rid of things that don’t fall into one of those categories is to put it on the corner of our lot next to the busy county road we live on. Almost everything we put there was gone within 24 hours. Bless the trash pickers and scavengers!

    Chris in Owatonna

    Liked by 3 people

        1. If it were a particular event, it might be a story but it’s more a pattern. Robin will identify something she clearly wants and that isn’t out of the question financially but she sometimes needs encouragement (which feels like “permission”, as if she weren’t an equal partner). That could be interpreted as consideration except I am not always reciprocal in seeking her “permission” for an expenditure.
          I need less encouragement, or have fewer desires but the crux is that I have what I reasonably want and I would wish her to likewise allow herself to get what she needs. So sometimes I find myself pushing her out of her natural restraint. Less often, because I am less restrained in the first place, she does the same for me.

          Liked by 3 people

        2. The relationship Bill describes might possibly allow more purchases than is ideal, but it is so fundamentally fair, affectionate and considerate that a great many couples would exchange their relationship for it in a heartbeat.


  8. I started downsizing years ago when we moved from a home in the foot hills above Denver to a brownstone condo in the city. Then downsized even more when we move to the northern MN lake cabin. During the “re building” of that home I gave away more things…to daughter or to Goodwill. When my sister move and built a home on the same lake…it was time to give her Mom’s china and silver which I never used, had been gifted but needed to gift it to her-she had neither while I had both from Wedding gifts. I seldom used my own…just not in my style of living there.

    When we moved here I started giving away things again. I certainly didn’t need all my boots, heavy jackets/costs and wool sweaters ‘tho I kept some sweaters just in case. I can always give those away later. Friends and family helped with clearing garage tools and yard tools. Daughter was ready for us to bring her things she’d eventually have anyway…so husband’s cherished coke machine, an old refinished ice box, my folks Swedish country table, chairs & bench and more.

    It was difficult to start my ‘gifting’ process…sounds so much better then getting rid of…however once I started it became easier. I even gifted most all my books…we have a little book store in Mahtowa-Twice Told Tales-recycled books sold low priced with all proceeds to church charity projects. I think that gifting was my most difficult.

    All our furniture has been gifted to me throughout our marriage. We did buy a bedroom ‘suite’ over 30 years ago…still have that and we purchased a lazy boy couch a few year ago. Other than those items, our patio set and some kitchen appliances everynthing in our home came from my folks and other relatives….many cast offs but I cherish them all. So our home is…eclectic eccentricly homey…I think cozy. I’m warmed by my relics…each has a story…and they make me feel connected.

    Liked by 4 people

  9. When we first moved into our smallish bungalow, the attic space had been roughly finished into a room and the basement had been subdivided into several areas, one or two of which, I suspect, had at some time been used as makeshift bedrooms. I immediately converted one of the basement rooms into an office space, repainting the walls and adding carpeting, which covers a multitude of sins, to the floor and adding dedicated circuits and an internet cable connection for my computer equipment. Joining that in the space are the drawing tables, bookshelves, flat files and assorted trappings that support my interests.

    I completely remodeled the second floor, adding skylights, drywall to the walls and ceiling, adequate wiring and lighting, a cork floor, wainscoting and a bathroom. I even replaced the utilitarian stairs with slightly deeper oak ones. That has become Robin’s cozy domain, where she keeps her spinning wheels, yarn, sewing machine, books and collections, with closets under the eaves for art supplies, games and surplus bedding. She has a small alcove that serves as her office.

    There will come a time, probably not that far off, when we will have to seriously downsize. Believe it or not, I have become much more selective about which books I bring home and which ones stay there. We regularly take a pile of books to the used book store for credit.

    I’ve talked about this before, but one of the knotty questions we face is the issue of family and genealogical material. Both Robin and I have been the recipients of generations of family photos and artifacts—boxes and boxes of them. Just sorting them is and will be a years-long project, with no assurance that successive generations will ever care. For any avid family history researcher that may emerge, the stuff is golden—photos and letters and one-of-a-kind documents—but will that researcher emerge? It’s kind of ironic that we feel the responsibility to preserve those materials when the fact we have them at all is in large part because our parents didn’t want to deal with them.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. When my last grandparent died, my aunt’s took home all the photographs and sorted the newer ones to go back to whichever branch of the family they belonged to.

      The old ones were also sorted as to which side of the family they came from, identified if possible, and then scanned into an online album for all to access and add info. Not quite sure where the originals ended up, but I love being able to look them over and download some I want for whatever reason.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. I wonder if State Historical Societies would be able to offer digitized family history banks to residents to store these historical family treasues for future generations. We are in the same boat as you, Bill, regarding family historical documents and photos


      1. You can always create a record on Scanned documents and photos can be uploaded. You have to create an account, but it’s entirely free. There are other free document and photo storage sites as well, but you wonder if they will be around in future years. The Church of Latter Day Saints runs the site, and they seem to be pretty committed to maintaining it.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Thanks for the link, Linda.

          There used to be a site that let you download the program and you could then choose to share your info online or not, but you could also load pictures on that (I had it on the late, lamented stolen laptop).

          Do the LDS take corrections? They’ve got something in their database about a childless great-great aunt and uncle that I know for a fact is dead wrong, I don’t care what the official census says (and I’ve got obits to prove it).

          I never know whether I think it is sad or hilarious that people have incorporated Johanna and Theodor into their family tree on based on this.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. is affiliated with LDS. I have an account with several branches of the family tree there. In doing research online, I sometimes consult other trees but always with skepticism. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve come across people allegedly born when their mother was several years dead or in another country or 70 years old. People did not always give census takers accurate information and so sometimes the records are questionable, but most often the compilers of these other family trees simply don’t apply basic reason to their assertions and often link their family with an unassociated individual or group.
          LDS has a bias toward wanting to make connections because the whole original purpose of the church’s obsession with genealogy was to identify supposed family members for posthumous proxy baptism. Traditionally they have not been too concerned with accuracy. However, Ancestry provides vehicles for researchers to make corrections the the records.

          Liked by 1 person

        3. is not affiliated with the church – it’s a for-profit run by Paul Allen, who is a Mormon. has had partnerships with the church and relied heavily on the church’s info for their site. I don’t think there is any current affiliation between the two sites, though.

          There is some info online about making corrections to records, but I have not tried it, so I can’t tell you for sure what can and can’t be done. If you change something, there is usually an opportunity to type text in a box labeled “Reason you believe this information is correct”, so you do have a place to present your argument.

          Liked by 1 person

        4. I have a half-sister who appears in census records as the daughter of her grandmother instead of the daughter of her real mother. I’ve been able to slot her into the correct place on the family tree, though, in spite of the inaccurate census record.


        1. Agree with Renee on knowing where you came from. I’ve found several things in my genealogical searches that explain a lot.

          My people are stoical and not given to telling tales. The local newspaper was not quite so circumspect.

          It’s actually very freeing to find out you are not the first imperfect teig in the family tree.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. My point is that I’ve done a lot of the research and I know my background as far as the records can reveal. What I wrestle with is preserving that for anyone coming after me. There are some things, like actually being able to identify people in photos from two or three generations back that will be lost when I’m gone.

          Liked by 1 person

      1. We like it. When I remodeled it, I wanted it to feel as much as possible like it belonged to the rest of the house and had always been that way. Because the dimensions were slightly reduced, with the ceiling about a half foot lower than normal, I mimicked the woodwork style used on the main floor but with subtly smaller dimensions. We chose to model the color scheme after prototypical Carl Larsson paintings, with cream colored walls, greenish blue wainscoting and accents here and there of persimmon.

        Originally I had my drawing table and equipment up there in one of the alcoves and we shared the space, but Robin needed a dedicated office area, so I moved my stuff into the basement and we set up a nice little desk and file cabinet in the alcove.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Mostly I just try to visualize where I will put it. Having a 900 sq. ft. house… there just is no room for much else to come in – if I buy it, something else has to go – soon if not immediately…

    Like most of you, we still have managed to accumulate a lot after downsizing for our move. And now helping our friend move, I’ve inherited a lot of things I need to find room for – a paper cutter? Sure I’ll bet there’s room in the basement. Hmmm, that’s a nice rug – maybe if I gave away the one in the bedroom…

    Liked by 3 people

    1. That is a compact home, BiR. I met a woman who had a memorable way of saying her home was compact. “I can plug the vacuum cleaner in in the living room and vacuum the whole house without moving the plug.”


  11. I can honestly say that we have stopped buying unnecessary things. If we buy something new, whatever is being replaced goes out. This goes for clothes, linen and household goods. Stuff that we no longer use, but that is still good, gets Freecycled. It would not be in accurate, however, to characterize our somewhat sporadic method of getting rid of things as a plan.

    One problem that we have are friends and neighbors who insist on buying us gifts for having done them favors. For example, Helen just returned from a month-long trip to Hawaii during which I took care of her chickens, cat and houseplants. As thanks she’s brought me this metal replica of a pictograph, designed for hanging on the wall. I have no place to display it, and (to be honest) neither Hans nor I care for it. I’m sure she spent good money on it, and as she frequently visits, I can’t just get rid of it. Any suggestions? I don’t want to hurt her feelings, but I’ve got to make her understand that I really don’t want such gifts. When I look around the house, a fair amount of the doodads that clutter up the place are such gifts. I know exactly who gave them to us and when, and here they sit, unused, unappreciated, and collecting dust.

    The more troublesome stuff we need to get rid of, however, is the “valuable” family heirlooms that Hans inherited after his father died: Royal Copenhagen china (much of it chipped!), and collections of antique glasses – so valuable and fragile that we never use them. What’s the point in having nice glasses if you never use them?

    Perhaps I should seize the opportunity of this lovely rainy day to get rid of a few more items. Thanks for the inspiration, Renee.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I regularly kitty-sit for a couple that travels a good bit. They bring back lovely treats from their travels. I just finished (after careful rationing) done excellent chocolate from Geneva.

      Perhaps you can drop the hint that this would be a highly desirable way to fulfill the inclination for gratitude?

      Liked by 3 people

    2. Husband helped me with my horror of breaking grandmother’s wedding crystal or our wedding china. Not his exact words but…what was I waiting for…to pass them on or to enjoy them while we are alive? We’ve broken some things and I’ve been sad but not for long. I have enjoyed using heirlooms.

      Liked by 2 people

  12. Mig’s comment gets into the delicate business of giving and receiving. My mother-in-law (God rest her soul) had a uniquely prickly style of giving. I think shopping for gifts was threatening for her, so she made snap decisions that often missed the mark. And then she would become Trumpishly snappy if the gift receiver wasn’t delighted. If she gave you a sweater two sizes too small, for example, she’d suggest you must have “put on a few pounds.”

    She came back from a world tour with a suitcase filled with gifts. She gave my daughter five little dolls dressed in native costumes, saying, “You can add these to your collection of foreign dolls.” When my daughter protested that she didn’t have a collection of foreign dolls, my mil replied, “Well now you do.” (The dolls went to the attic until BiR and others helped me clean up my home for sale.)

    Liked by 3 people

  13. Great post, Renee. I could talk about this stuff all day.

    For me, the plan started with books. For a long time, I had lots and lots of books. I thought of them as my friends and liked having them around me. But then I started to feel differently about them. I felt like they were accusing me of neglect. Books that I had never read, books that I had read but would never pick up again, books that were in need of repair that I would never get around to fixing…they became part of a long list of things that I should do but were neglecting. So I was ready to find a new home for many of the books in order to quiet their incessant chatter. Also, I had about a ton of cookbooks and they became a burden. I realized that even if I tried a new recipe several times a week, that I would not be able to make a dent in the unused cookbooks even if I lived to be 90. So I culled a lot of books.

    Somewhere in there, I read the book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. This book is not for everyone, but it was definitely for me. I’ve gone through a ton of stuff, using the method in that book, and feel freer and lighter because of it. (Unfortunately, I live with other people and so am not able to use this method with their stuff so my life may never be what I would like it to be in that regard.) And the weird thing is, it’s taken away the desire to get more stuff. Now I go to a thrift store and if I’m shopping for new shirts, if I don’t find something that I love, I leave with nothing. I’ve gone to book stores and left empty-handed – something I never would have done before.

    The best thing about all this is how I feel. There’s a freedom about having the right amount of stuff. My mind feels more clear and I think it helped me find out that photography was what I wanted (or needed) to do.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. That does sound very freeing ljb, good for you. The many boxes of books, a lot of them wonderful children’s books, that you so generously gave me, are long gone from the Little Free Library.

      Another advantage of not buying stuff on impulse is that you’re not squandering your money in drips and drabs and running up the balance on your credit card. Been there, done that, and done with that.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. A lot of my unnecessary purchases come from garage sales and thrift stores. I can easily pass things up if they are what I would consider overpriced. Many times, though, I buy something because it’s priced so low that it seems like a low risk transaction. I figure if I get it home and it’s not, as they say, sparking joy, I can always donate it and give someone else an opportunity.

    Sometimes I bring something home that I paid so little for it was nearly free, and really use or wear it a lot. This happens just often enough to ensure that I keep stopping for garage sales periodically. I find vintage kitchen stuff that matches things that my mother used when I was a kid, and it pleases me to have some of that stuff around. It has more appeal to me than the new things they have at Ikea and Crate & Barrel.

    Simplifying and reducing…yes, I plan to have a plan at some point.

    Liked by 3 people

  15. For what it’s worth, I have one of those scratching post/perch things in my living room. The top perch has sides that form it into a sort of cat bed. Several of my cats have liked that spot for an afternoon snooze. And although they are getting a bit elderly, every so often one of them will still careen across the living room and leap up the “stairs” like a kitten.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I thought I would keep the resident delinquents out of the s&h’s loft by the simple expedient of removing the ladder.

      I was wrong.

      I’ve never seen them get up there, but have had the fun of experiencing the heroic descent.

      Liked by 3 people

  16. The first two cats I got to know were such astonishing athletes I assumed that was just the nature of cats. Then I got to know Cleo, the most affectionate but clumsiest cat ever to draw breath. Cleo would often leap up into the lap of anyone who would pet her. Cleo would purr and twist with pleasure, lying on her back, but as often as not she would fall off the lap and hit the floor upside down.


      1. Isn’t that the same article I posted, Linda? I’m not trying to be snooty, just wondering if you had a different article in mind?


      2. When my dad died in fall of 1992, my sister had to pay a company to come in and haul the furniture and whatnot to clean out the apartment. Granted, on my last visit to Denmark, I discovered that a lot of their stuff had found their way to the abodes of my sister and her two adult kids, but all of their teak furniture she had to pay to have hauled away.


        1. Yes, but not unusual. My parents’ furniture was run of the mill Danish modern furniture, and by 1992 most people in Denmark were sick of it. Had it been high end stuff, things might have been different. Also, my parents were both smokers, so that may also have had an impact. I’m sure everything in that apartment reaked.


  17. Rise and Shine Baboons!

    I have been off-line the last several days after my computer got hacked! I have spent the last 24 hours dealing with that. Today I drive to Iowa to see my mother. I will poke my head in as I can.

    I lost a post I did in the hacking, and I will try to reproduce it.

    Liked by 1 person

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