In mid February, I hosted about 25 ladies for our monthly meeting. As the hostess, I was also supposed to come up with a program. Hmm, what to talk about? I know…how about decorating?! So I had my talented husband make some of his wooden centerpiece troughs and then showed a few ways that vessels can used for both decoration and function.
First, I showed how a trough could be used to hold basic cooking supplies next to the stove by filling the trough with salt and pepper, as well as cooking oils and balsamic vinegar. Next, I showed an old sewing machine drawer outfitted with shampoos, soaps and body wash for a guest bathroom. It is always nice to provide toiletries for out-of-town company, and corralling these items makes it so easy to keep them tucked away until guests show up.
The next trough was filled with some artificial greenery in pots, intermingled with candles. This is a good year-round look that can sit on the table in between seasonal decor, and with a few minor changes, can easily be adapted to any occasion.
Last, because Valentine’s day was a few days after the meeting, I filled a trough with an artificial pink and red flower arrangement, surrounded by pink candles with heart ribbons around them and some Happy Valentine’s spikes. It was simple to make, but really said “Happy Valentine’s Day.” After I made the displays, we held a drawing and gave away the candle greenery version and the Valentine’s trough.
After the demonstration was complete, I asked if there were any questions. One of the women said she was downsizing, and wanted to know how to determine what to take and what to get rid of. Very good question! My answer was this: Go room-by-room through your home and look at everything. Pictures on the wall, furniture, and accessories. Item by item, ask yourself, do you really, truly love it. If so, you should try to take it with you. If not, maybe it could find a home with a family member or be sold. Once you have selected the things you love, then it’s time to think about the functional items that you need to live day-to-day. You know, a bed, dresser, sofa, tables and chairs. Ultimately, the amount of space available in your downsized place will determine how many items you will be able to take with you, but narrowing the list to functionality and the things you truly love should speed up the process later.
The downsizing and minimalist movements have gained a lot of traction lately. As the large number of baby boomers like my husband and I hit retirement age, thoughts of downsizing or “rightsizing” become something we think about. The reason I was able to answer the woman’s question so easily was that I had gone through the “what do I truly love?” exercise not long before. In our case, most of the things we love are of sentimental, not monetary, value. Photos on the wall that my mother has taken, a pew from the sanctuary where Jim and I were married, furniture from family members, Jim’s Navy memorabilia, handmade art made by my sister, gifts from our children, and the pictures of our travels are all in the love column. The rest? They are items that are functional and help make our home comfortable, but are mostly just stuff. Stuff that we don’t necessarily need, and definitely don’t love.
Even if you have no plans to move, I would recommend going through the “What do we love?” exercise in your home. It should only take 10-15 minutes. Go room-by-room, look at every item, and take a mental inventory of your belongings. If faced with either the need or choice to downsize, you will have already solved part of the puzzle by knowing which items will make the move. For me, it was a great way to remind myself of what I already inherently knew. It’s not the cost of an item, but rather the memories and people attached to our belongings, that make them the most loved of all.