It came from your clutter: homemade bagpipes

In this edition of “It came from your clutter,” something that came from my family’s clutter — a sheep stomach and tubes of wood fashioned into bagpipes.

Back in the early 1990s, my husband was deployed to the former Yugoslavia as a UN Peacekeeper. Because he learned to play the bagpipes in military college, he took his set of pipes with him on the deployment. Music has a way of bringing people together and being so loud, the Great Highland bagpipes can be heard by people far and wide. My husband explained the history of bagpipes and how they used to be made with animal skins (modern bagpipes are made with synthetic materials) and the chanter and drones were made with wood.

My husband must have made a positive impression on the local community because at the end of his six-month tour of duty, the people gifted him a set of bagpipes they had made themselves. This “decorative” set of pipes moved with us from duty station to duty station for over fifteen years.

One summer, we started noticing a strange smell coming from the corner of the living room near the shelving unit. I thought perhaps it was a dead mouse because it had that sort of stink. It was the bagpipes. The sheep stomach had started to decay and rot.

We took one last photo of these handmade bagpipes from war-torn former Yugoslavia, said good-bye, and tossed them in the trash. My husband will always have the fondest memories of the people he met there — and of course this photo.

Do you have something unique or bizarre you have found in your clutter that you would like to share with our readers? Please send them to us through our Contact page, we would love to see your discovered oddities!

Unitasker Wednesday: Chef’n Sweet Spot Ice Cream Sandwich Maker

All Unitasker Wednesday posts are jokes — we don’t want you to buy these items, we want you to laugh at their ridiculousness. Enjoy!

When I was in college, I had the opportunity to work with a professor who was doing ice cream research and as a student project, we got to use an industrial ice cream sandwich maker similar to the one in this video. What I learned from working on this machine is that the wafer parts of the sandwich are hard so they do not break as they feed through the machine. The ice cream is cold but soft so that it can be easily pumped through the machine and fill the sandwiches. Once the sandwiches are wrapped, they go into a freezer at -30ºC (about -22ºF). The freezer is this cold to keep the texture of the ice cream smooth by preventing the formation of large ice crystals.

After learning all of this information, I cannot understand why someone would go through the trouble of making ice cream sandwiches at home. However, the Chef’n Sweet Spot Ice Cream Sandwich Maker will allow you to do just that — go through an awful lot of trouble to make sub-par ice cream sandwiches.

I thought perhaps this piece of clutter might be useful if you were allergic to dairy products or needed to make gluten-free ice cream sandwiches but one look in the freezer compartments at my local grocery store and I found dairy-free, gluten-free, nut and peanut free ice cream sandwich options in several different flavours. So you do not actually need the Chef’n Sweet Spot Ice Cream Sandwich Maker to help you cope with allergies.

The Chef’n Sweet Spot Ice Cream Sandwich Maker is supposed to be easy to use but it is still a lot of work. First of all, you have to bake your own wafers in the silicone top and bottom of the mould and wait until they cool. Next, soften ice cream until it is spreadable and fill the tray you have placed on one set of wafers. Then, very carefully put the lid containing the other set of wafers on the top. Finally, freeze the contraption for at least an hour. (I hope your home freezer is at -30ºC). When you take them out of the freezer, gently remove the sandwiches from the mould. Congratulations. You now have messy ice cream sandwiches.

Unless you enjoy making work for yourself, bypass this clutter maker.

Reader Question: Organizing medications

Reader Deborah wrote to us to ask for some help with her situation:

We are overrun with pill bottles and medicines of all kinds — bottles, jars, tubes, etc. of prescriptions, headache pills, cold pills, skin creams, vitamins, and more. Years ago, I got a new cabinet to put next to my sink and it’s now overflowing too. You pull out the bottle you want and others fall out too. How do you corral these?

Dealing with dozens of little bottles that fall over all the time can be frustrating! Here at Unclutterer we’ve got some advice on how to corral these small containers.

Step one is to unclutter. It’s time to dispose of all of the medications and toiletries you no longer need or use. Gather everything up and spread it out on your counter or dining table to see what you have. Collect all of the prescriptions that are no longer used and any expired over-the-counter-medications and vitamins. Ideally, place them into a sealed bag or bucket out of the reach of children and pets until you can dispose of them properly. Check your toiletries such as face creams and cosmetics for expiry dates and dispose of any that are expired.

Now it is time to organize what is left — the items that you are currently using.

You have not specified exactly where you would like to store your medications (pharmacists say that the bathroom medicine cabinet is one of the worst places to store medications) so there are several alternatives listed here.

If several people in your home are using prescription medications, you may want to store each person’s bottles in small, different coloured baskets. It will be very easy to see whose medications are whose. Unless the vials are full of liquid, lay them down flat. They are less likely to tip over and you will still be able to see the labels.

Another option is to use a three-drawer desk organizer. Assign each person their own drawer and lay the vials flat inside. This unit does take up some counter space but it could be easily put on a closet shelf — out of the reach of children.

If you have liquid medications, you could use a turntable. One with high sides and interior dividers will prevent the bottles from falling over when it spins. The dividers would keep everyone’s medication separated and you could easily label each section. You would need counter space or a shelf at least 12-inches deep for this item.

Stackable, transparent storage bins with hinged lids would work for storing vials containing both liquids and solids. Again, each person could have their own bin or you could arrange the medications by category such as, “headache & pain relief” and “cough & cold.” This type of container is nice. Because the lids are hinged, they won’t get separated from the containers and lost or end up in a big pile at the bottom of the cupboard.

If you are limited in counter and shelf space, spice racks can be mounted to walls or the interior of cupboard doors. They are ideal for holding small bottles and vials. A spice rack with several shelves would work if you have multiple bottles of the same height. If some bottles are taller, opt for single spice shelves so you can mount them further apart to accommodate the various sized bottles.

If you travel frequently, consider storing your medications in a transportable, lockable, travel bag. It will keep everything in its place when you are at home and you can just zipper it closed and put it in your suitcase when you are ready to leave.

If you are having difficulty keeping tubes of medication, cosmetics, or even toothpaste from getting lost and tossed around in your cupboard, check out this idea to keep tubes of paint organized. You need not use nails on a piece of plywood in your bathroom, just attach a binder clip to the end of the tube and hang it from a small Command hook on the wall or inside a cupboard door.

Thanks for your great question Deborah. We hope that this post gives you the information you’re looking for.

Do you have a question relating to organizing, home and office projects, productivity, or any problems you think the Unclutterer team could help you solve? To submit your questions to Ask Unclutterer, go to our contact page and type your question in the content field. Please list the subject as “Ask Unclutterer.”

Unitasker Wednesday: Gläce Ice

All Unitasker Wednesday posts are jokes — we don’t want you to buy these items, we want you to laugh at their ridiculousness. Enjoy!

I bet if Unclutterer readers need an ice cube, they reach into their freezer or maybe they have ice cube makers built into their refrigerators. I imagine that if they are throwing a party, they run out to the nearest convenience store and buy a 10-pound bag of ice cubes for about two dollars. (For those that are interested, a 10-pound bag of ice contains about 160 cubes so that works out to about one penny per cube).

But what if you want to enjoy a shot of high-quality Scotch — on the rocks? Would you use ice cubes that only cost a penny?

Of course not! You would purchase Gläce Ice.

Made from purified water, these meticulously crafted, individually carved ice cubes and spheres do not contain minerals, additives, or pollutants that may taint the flavour of high-quality drinks. It is just pure, unadulterated water that will dilute your top shelf spirits.

These marvellously sculpted pieces of ice can be shipped right to your door by the case load. Packed in dry ice, you can get 50 Gläce Ice cubes or spheres (or a combination), for a mere $325 USD. That’s only $6.50 per piece! And, they come in a re-sealable vacuum pouch with a one-way air valve to protect the Gläce Ice from absorbing odours from your freezer.

I suppose you could make your own ice cubes and spheres. You would need a countertop distilling machine to make your own distilled water (less than $100) as well as silicone ice cube trays that will make round and cube shaped pieces of ice (and a host of other frozen treats) for about $15.

balls of steel in whiskyBut that is a lot of clutter that sits in your kitchen making ice cubes year after year. Instead, you can unclutter by joining the Tudor Luxury Ice Club and have Gläce Ice shipped to your door on a regular basis all for the low cost of $1100 USD per year.

For those of you who do NOT like your single malts diluted with water of any type, the website Cool Material evaluated whisky stones to see which ones cooled Scotch the best without changing the flavour. The winner was Balls of Steel. Minimalist styling, effective drink cooling, all for about $30 USD — and a portion of all sales is donated to testicular cancer cure research.

Thanks to Editor-at-Large Erin Doland for tweeting about Gläce Ice and suggesting that we just donate to our local food banks instead.

Unitasker Wednesday: Stuffed meatballs maker

All Unitasker Wednesday posts are jokes — we don’t want you to buy these items, we want you to laugh at their ridiculousness. Enjoy!

If kindergarten students can make spheres with playdough, adults should have no trouble forming a ball out of ground meat with their hands. This is why I do not understand why anyone would be interested in the stuffed meatballs maker.

At just over 10-inches by 10-inches and one inch high, this flippy-floppy item is supposed to improve the way you make stuffed meatballs. First you fill both sides of the meatball maker with meat. (I assume we use a spoon because one of the “great features” of the stuffed meatballs maker is that you do not use your hands.) Then, you make indentations in one side of the meatballs with the hinged cavity maker and fill it with cheese or sauce. Finally, you fold over the top side of the device to seal the meatballs. Again, I assume that the meatballs just roll right out of the meatball maker into a pan for baking.

This would be great if it actually worked. Reading the reviews tells me that I have made erroneous assumptions. The stuffed meatballs maker does not fully seal the meatballs closed, nor do the meatballs simply slide out of the device. They have to be pried out of the meatball maker and then sealed by hand. In addition, you have to wash the meatball maker as well as the spoon and your hands.

Save yourself some time and money and just use your clean hands to make stuffed meatballs and thoroughly wash your hands afterwards. I know there are some readers who do not like handling raw meat so wearing disposable gloves will keep your hands clean. Disposable gloves have many more uses than a meatball maker too.

Reader question: How best to pack and move delicate, fragile, and oddly-shaped items

In our Ask Unclutterer series, we provided advice about moving to New Zealand. One of the comments on that post was:

What should I do with awkward items, like framed artwork? I know it comes down to how much am I willing to pay to keep the item, whatever it is. It just pains me to think about keeping the art and ditching the frame, then paying again to have it framed. What about antique lamps? I have several floor & table lamps that are not only sentimental, but gorgeous. Three of them have very delicate glass shades. *flinch* Rewiring shouldn’t be an issue, just the packing. Should I use spray foam and pack like drunk elephants will handle everything?

Thanks for a great question. I have moved 13 times in the past 28 years, including two trans-Atlantic moves, and I have learned quite a bit about transporting household goods — not just from my own experience but from other military families as well. The first step is to get a professional to service and prepare for moving any:

  • Items with interior moving parts such as grandfather clocks and other time-pieces;
  • Large musical instruments like pianos, harpsicords, harps, etc.;
  • Items that require special skill to disassemble and reassemble such as billiard tables, sculptures, antique furniture, etc.

If possible, hire a professional moving company to pack any irreplaceable, sentimental, fragile, or expensive items. If you wish to pack the items yourself, we’ve listed some advice below.

For transporting artwork and delicate items, the Museum Conservation Institute at the Smithsonian states that you need three layers of protection; a protective wrap, a shock and vibration layer, and a protective outer shell.

Protective wrap covers the surface of your item and prevents scratches. The material used depends on what you are transporting. Cottons and flannels can be used with many things but they can stick to varnishes and some paints. Paper can be used with some items but make sure it is archival quality (acid-free and lignin-free). Plastic sheeting can also be used but moisture may build up and damage your item.

The shock and vibration layer protects against sudden blows (shock) and persistent small bumps (vibration). This layer should be “springy” meaning it needs to have an elastic memory to allow the cushioning effect to occur repeatedly. This material is often a type of foam. The type and thickness of foam depends on the weight of the item and the type of shock anticipated. A good option is pick and pluck foam — pre-scored foam sheeting that allows you to remove bits at a time to create a custom-shaped hole in the foam to protect your item. Check out this video on how it is used.

The protective shell is the outer layer. It provides a hard, puncture-resistant wrap in the event of rough handling. (The drunk elephants you mentioned above.) The hard, outer layer also allows delicate and oddly-shaped items to be closely placed or stacked. The protective shell can be an extra-thick, reinforced, cardboard box with corner supports, or a custom-made plywood box. I do not recommend using household plastic bins for delicate items on long distance moves. They are not sturdy enough. You would need heavy-duty plastic totes that will not be crushed if they are dropped or if other boxes are stacked on top.

About your artwork… I would suggest that you leave it in the frames. It may be more susceptible to damage both physical (rips, scuffs) and environmental (warping from humidity) when removed from the frame. During transport, the frame can act as a protective case for the artwork if it is packed properly. Consider wrapping it in a soft cotton or muslin fabric (protective wrap), add edge protectors (vibration protection), and package it in a heavy-duty cardboard or plywood box (outer wrap). Alternatively, you could pack your artwork in a flat screen TV packing kit.

The final step is to ensure that all of your fragile items are properly labelled FRAGILE and if required, THIS SIDE UP, and DO NOT LAY FLAT. If English is not the language spoken at your destination, you should print your own stickers with the translations to be sure the unloading crew understands.

For those that are interested in how museum artifacts are transported, take a peek at the photos and descriptions at Inside the Conservator’s Studio.

Thanks for your great question. We hope that this post gives you the information you’re looking for.

Do you have a question relating to organizing, home and office projects, productivity, or any problems you think the Unclutterer team could help you solve? To submit your questions to Ask Unclutterer, go to our contact page and type your question in the content field. Please list the subject as “Ask Unclutterer.”

Unitasker Wednesday: Capabunga Artisan Bread Saver

All Unitasker Wednesday posts are jokes — we don’t want you to buy these items, we want you to laugh at their ridiculousness. Enjoy!

Artisan is a term used to describe food produced by non-industrialized methods, often handed down through generations but now in danger of being lost (also known as home cooking). An artisan baker is a craftsperson who is trained to the highest ability to mix, ferment, shape and bake a hand-crafted loaf of bread (also known as my grandmother).

Interesting though these definitions are, most people buy their artisan bread at a bakery where bread making can be automated to some extent. There are variable speed, electric mixers and blenders, and proofers and ovens with accurate timers and fine temperature controls — a long way from how my grandmother made bread using a bowl, a spoon, her hands, a clean linen cloth (which at other times acted as a tea-towel), and a wood stove.

I guess if some people buy their bread at artisan bakeries they would also purchase the Capabunga Artisan Bread Saver to ensure that their bread stays fresh as long as possible. To keep a loaf of crusty bread fresh, you have to cover the cut portion to keep the moisture inside the loaf while allowing the crust to stay exposed to keep it, well, crusty. My grandmother told me that. She also told me that waxed paper or foil wrap and an elastic band (all of which you probably already own) would work really well.

Thanks to reader Joy for bringing this unitasker to our attention.

Innovative organizers to carry your gear

Every once in a while, we feature organizing items in development. Here are a few that help you transport your gear from one place to another effectively and efficiently.

E-Hive

The E-Hive is a sturdy carrier similar to a briefcase that can store and charge up to four phones and three tablets at the same time. It is lockable but lightweight with a comfortable handle. The no-slip elastic straps inside the E-Hive keep your devices secure and prevent damaged screens. One of the best things about the E-Hive is that you do not have dozens of cords strung all over the place.
e-hive transportable charging station
I have travelled a lot with my family of four so that meant 4 phones, 4 sets of earbuds, and a few other devices. We each dragged along USB chargers and cords and crawled under furniture in each hotel room trying to find enough available outlets. How I wish we could have had the E-Hive. We wouldn’t have forgotten the charger we had plugged in behind the curtains. We could have locked our devices when the hotel housekeepers came into our room.

I have a feeling it only works on the North American power grid (110V/60Hz) but it would be great if it was able to work anywhere in the world.

The Mommy Bag

backpack diaper bagMy children are adults now but I still remember struggling with various types of diaper bags when they were babies. I think The Mommy Bag is the best diaper bag I have seen in quite some time. For one thing, the front part of the bag opens fully so when you hang the bag on a hook, you have full access to what you need to change a diaper — including a changing pad. The neatest part of this bag is that the small side pocket has a slit so you can pull diaper wipes out one by one! The other side pocket is insulated to keep milk/formula cold. The Mommy Bag has 20 interior compartments so nothing gets buried in a big mess at the bottom of the bag. It also has a compartment for a 15-inch laptop so when baby falls asleep you can get some work done without having to haul around a separate bag.

It would be a great gift for any parent or caregiver. The only disappointing part is the name –“The Mommy Bag” doesn’t make it sound inviting for fathers, grandparents, or other caregivers.

SideKick: The Ultimate Gym Fitness Bag

Finally, people have put some thought into creating a gym bag that is not just a large, formless sack with a strap! Sidekick has three compartments — one main compartment and two separate compartments at each end. The end compartments have wide openings so it is easy to get a pair of shoes in and out, and they have ventilation holes to prevent moisture build-up. Sidekick also comes with a mesh laundry bag you can toss directly into your wash. The interior is lined with elastic strapping to keep your water bottles upright and your gear organized. Sidekick has detachable backpack straps to convert it from duffle bag to a backpack. It is extremely durable with heavy-duty, snag-free zippers and magnetic snaps instead of Velcro. But my favourite thing about the Sidekick bag is that it has an interior support structure so it stays upright making it much easier to find everything inside.

ultimate gym bag sidekick

Travel Bag Buddy

The Travel Bag Buddy secures a bag or purse on top of a rolling suitcase with an adjustable elastic strap and extra sturdy buckle. It sounds familiar but this item also holds your essential travel documents, phone, cash, cards, and a few other items to give you quick, convenient access when you need them. The Travel Bag Buddy works with almost all bag sizes and handle combinations. The bag strap can stay attached to your secondary bag and reattach to the handle in seconds so it will never get lost. Travel Bag Buddy folds flat so you can store it in your purse to keep your travel information organized and RFID protected.

Travel Bag Buddy - RFID Protected Travel Organizer and Secondary Bag Strap

I have seen many people (myself included) fumble with purses, bags, passports, boarding passes, and electronic devices while going through airport security. It is frustrating and time consuming. If everyone had a Travel Bag Buddy maybe we would all get through security checkpoints faster and in better humour.

 

What do you think of these designs? Would you invest in these products? Do you have any suggestions to make them better?

Unitasker Wednesday: Pie markers

All Unitasker Wednesday posts are jokes — we don’t want you to buy these items, we want you to laugh at their ridiculousness. Enjoy!

Canadian Thanksgiving is fast approaching and with the smell of pumpkin spice lattes wafting out of every coffee shop, our attention turns to pumpkin pie. (This is my favourite, super easy recipe.) With only four adults in our family, it is pretty easy to cut the pie into equal pieces. If you have to serve pie to five or seven people, it gets a little tricky to cut pieces into equal sizes.

That’s why you need a collection of Pie Markers! Pie markers score pies (and cakes) in equal proportions for serving your guests perfect slices. Made of durable food grade aluminum, these pie markers will make sure that you will not waste time trying to equally slice your pies with a knife which will be inaccurate and time-consuming.

Buy an entire set of pie markers so you can cut pies into 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, and 12 slices. Just remember that the diameter of each is almost nine inches so the entire set will create lots of clutter in your cupboards.

If you would like to avoid the clutter, this video shows you a trick for using a simple piece of paper (which you likely already have) to find the centre of a pie. In the video they score a line across the centre of the pie but if you want to cut the pie into an odd number of pieces, do not score across the centre, just make a little X to mark a line out from the centre and use a protractor (clean it thoroughly first) to mark the angles around the pie according to this chart.

Unless you are running a bakery, restaurant, or catering business and need to mark many pies and cakes every day, use a piece of paper and protractor. They will take up a lot less space in your kitchen cupboards.

Reader Question: What to do with partially used toiletries

Unclutterer reader Joan sent us an email with this question:

What should I do with toiletries and similar items that were tried but we do not use? I have a number of products I purchased but did not care for. Also, I was an cosmetics rep for over 20 years, and that was many years ago. I have a large number of products stored in my basement and I would like to find them a new home.

This is such a great question. There are many reasons why we may have unused or partly used toiletries lying about, including:

  • You purchased an item and it does not work for your hair/skin type.
  • Guests (including children who have gone off to college) left items at your place.
  • You are moving and the moving company will not take any liquids.
  • You received items as a gift and will never use them.

The first step is to check if the products are expired. Some cosmetics/toiletry company websites will allow you to look up the lot number and see how old the product is. You can also inquire by email or use the website’s contact form. Two great independent websites for checking products are Check Fresh and Check Cosmetic. Both of these sites list lot numbers and expiry dates of most major brands.

If the product has expired unfortunately, the only thing you can do is dispose of the product and recycle the container. It seems like a waste but when the products degrade, they may do more harm than good. They may be contaminated with bacteria, as they breakdown they could irritate your skin/hair. Some products (specifically sunscreen) are no longer effective past their expiry date.

For products that have not yet expired, here are some uncluttering options:

  • Contact local charities and ask if they accept partial bottles as donations. Do not be surprised if they say no. Due to health/sanitary concerns, many charities will only take new, unopened products.
  • Have an Uncluttering Party and invite your friends or neighbours in for a “swap meet.” You might be able to unclutter your items and get items you would actually use.
  • If your workplace allows, leave items in a common area for fellow co-workers. (Always check with your human resources department first!)
  • List your items on Freecycle, craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, or other type of online classified ad site.
  • Offer items in your neighbourhood groups such as Nextdoor, or Facebook neighbourhood groups if you belong to any. My neighbourhood has a ‘Buy Nothing’ Facebook group that has been very successful in helping people get rid of what they don’t want while helping others get what they do want.

Thanks for your great question Joan. We hope that this post gives you the information you’re looking for.

Do you have a question relating to organizing, home and office projects, productivity, or any problems you think the Unclutterer team could help you solve? To submit your questions to Ask Unclutterer, go to our contact page and type your question in the content field. Please list the subject as “Ask Unclutterer.”

Unitasker Wednesday: Personalized peanut butter spoon

All Unitasker Wednesday posts are jokes — we don’t want you to buy these items, we want you to laugh at their ridiculousness. Enjoy!

Wouldn’t it be great to have your own personalized peanut butter spoon when you eat peanut butter right out of the jar? No longer will you have to use a regular, everyday spoon for such an exalted task!

This custom-made spoon is hand stamped one letter at a time and made with non-toxic ink. (We would certainly hope the ink is non-toxic!). The vendor suggests that if you choose to use your spoon you should wash it the dishwasher to avoid abrasive hand scrubbing to prevent the ink from wearing off.

I’m not sure why you would buy a spoon if you do not plan on using it. Maybe at $25 (plus $10 shipping) you would want to keep it pristine, as a decorative item mounted on the wall with a souvenir spoon collection — but then again, with Comic Sans typeface, maybe not.

Thank you to professional organizer, Hazel Thornton for bringing this unitasker to our attention.

Book review: The Minimalist Home: A Room-by-Room Guide to a Decluttered, Refocused Life

In The Minimalist Home, author Joshua Becker suggests that one of the problems affecting many of us is that we are living in homes that mass marketers want to sell us instead of the homes that our hearts and souls crave. Even the highly publicized “minimalism home” with white-washed walls and stark rooms with the occasional piece of expensive (and probably uncomfortable) furniture, is not what we truly need. Becker states, ” Successful family living was never about the size of a house. So, make more of the people within your household, and make less of the house itself.”

The Minimalist Home helps readers define their vision and set goals for how they want to live in their space, whether that space is an apartment, house, cottage, houseboat, or mobile home. Becker gives readers practical advice on how to engage and motivate family members to create the ideal home for everyone. He believes that with less stuff occupying your home, there will be fewer worries on your mind and you will appreciate and make better use of what you do own. You can then focus on your family and enjoy activities together. I appreciated this particular quote:

The goal of minimalism is not just to own less stuff. The goal is to unburden our lives so we can accomplish more.

In The Minimalist Home, each room has a dedicated chapter, from family rooms to bedrooms, from outdoor spaces to hobby spaces, and even spaces dealing with family pets. Within each chapter there are sections on defining the vision and goals for the space, implementing a step-by-step plan, and reflecting on possessions to include items that tell your family’s story. There is a “minimizing checklist” at the end of the chapter so readers can ensure they have reached their goal. The Minimalist Home also includes maintenance guides — from daily maintenance like putting away the mail and dishes, to yearly maintenance such as spring cleaning and filing income taxes.

This book has no glossy photos nor examples of the latest home décor trends. As a matter of fact, Becker does not propose rules on how much of each item to keep or toss. He encourages the reader to analyse his/her lifestyle and minimize to that level. It is a very nice change because so many books about minimalism make the readers feel that they are keeping too much or shaming them for feeling sentimental about souvenirs or heirlooms.

The last two chapters in the book are particularly interesting. Becker discusses the advantages of downsizing, not just when the kids have left for college or at retirement, but at your current stage of life, whatever it is. He raises points such as it takes less time to clean and maintain a smaller house, and mortgage payments and utility bills will be lower too. The dollar-value calculations he shows, reinforce his reasoning. Becker also recounts the stories of several people who minimized and downsized and then were able to pursue their passions — from travelling to volunteering for various causes. He states:

…minimalism doesn’t guarantee that you can find meaning and significance in life. But it does, almost always, open your eyes wider to these issues and create a context where you can think through them better.

If you are looking for help to define your vision and set goals, to work together as a family to create a welcoming home that is your ideal of comfort, that nurtures your passions, The Minimalist Home is the book you need.