Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Love The One You're With

     In an effort to shed my honorary title as Queen of Clutter, I've been systematically going through our house and sorting through stuff. I've pulled open drawers, closets, boxes, fridges, and freezers. In the process of discarding, giving away, and reorganizing, I've discovered all kinds of things I'd forgotten about and have received some pretty good insights into my habits and personality.
     In addition to discovering we'd been hanging onto quite a bit of useless stuff (or useless to us but useful to someone else), I've also found there are useable things that we've forgotten about and in a lot of cases, purchased duplicates of. For example, food in the pantry and freezers, a whole range of skincare products in the master bathroom, and a whack of travel-size amenities pilfered from hotels were among the trove of found treasures. The odd duplicates collection includes multiple half-used bags of chocolate chips, several bags of rock-solid brown sugar, and more nail polish than at the local Vietanamese nail palace.
     For the sake of not being wasteful, as well as for saving money and actually using/enjoying what we've got, I'm making an effort not to buy more stuff til I've pretty much depleted our current "inventories". In the Purchasing & Logistics world, that's called "FIFO" (first in, first out) versus our recent "LIFO" (last in, first out) approach.
     In terms of food items, my rifling through the freezers has yielded some interesting meals. Hot Italian sausages  were broiled and tossed with some pasta. That was interesting in a good way. Frozen chopped ham was thrown into a batch of French Canadian pea soup. Unfortunately, this was "interesting" being used as a polite term instead of what Cam and Austin really thought. Sadly, I found numerous packages of expensive but freezer-burnt boneless, skinless chicken breasts. What a waste.
     The chest freezer in the basement is nearly empty, the freezer in the kitchen fridge is less packed, and the freezer in the garage "beer fridge" is still in the early days of exploration. Key learnings from my freezer diving (upscale dumptser diving?) have been:
  1. Have a good look in the fridge, freezer, and pantry before going grocery shopping.
  2. A suggestion from my friend Mimi in Montreal: Keep an inventory list of what's in the freezer, to save yourself from having to rifle in the cold.
  3. Use stuff up. It's a complete waste of money and freezer space to buy food and then let it get freezer burnt.
     As for personal care products, at a recent spa visit, when asked "And how are you for skin care products?", rather than be tempted (or strong-armed as some spas do) to purchase something new, be it a tube or an entire product line, I laughed and politely declined, saying I had pretty much every skin care brand represented in my bathroom cupboard. And so, I am now systematically using, enjoying, and using up the products I've got. Just finished a jar of Yves Rocher night cream and have launched into a collection of travel/trial sized Sothys products given to me by my friend Victoria, who swears by this brand. Next stop will be the collection of Avon skincare products stashed in my drawer.
     I normally stretch my shampoo and conditioner dollar by alternating salon brand (I am keen on the Schwartzkopf brand) with really creamy, oopy-goopy drugstore brands like Pantene and Dove. Having discovered Cam's serious haul of hotel mini bottles of hair products, I am working them into the rotation as well. I draw the line, however, at only using name-brand shampoos and conditioners out of those little bottles, and the shampoos have to be of the creamy variety. Otherwise, you're pretty much washing your hair with dish soap. Steer clear of product that is only labelled with the hotel name, unless it's a high-end hotel. For example, Hyatt has a pretty good ginger shampoo and conditioner, but heaven help you and your bad hair day if you dare to dip into Days, Holiday Inn, or Comfort hotels' "private label" products.
     I've heard it's fun to "shop your own closet" and find new clothing combinations. Haven't tried this yet, and am a bit concerned that it will be the blind leading the blind, considering the wardrobe consultant and the shopper are one in the same person. Will report back on this in future. 


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