Monday, January 25, 2021

home talk

I started a big decluttering project this past weekend: cleaning out my bookcases. I easily have 500-600 books in my house, most of them housed in the bookcases in the basement family room. Some of my friends are downsizing now and moving into smaller dwellings. I've seen how much they've purged when moving. Inspiring, for sure! Not that we're planning on moving anytime soon. But sometimes I look around my basement - the family room and the storage area - and feel overwhelmed by all the stuff we've accumulated over the past 30+ years of living here. 

Most of my fiction books came from library book sales. Mind you, these are books I've never even read! (I don't keep fiction books after I read them.) I only keep non-fiction books if they're ones I will refer to again. Here's the piles I'm getting rid of: 135 books, so far! I am going to start by trying to sell them in bulk on Facebook Marketplace. If that doesn't work, I'm going to call a local used bookstore where the profits go to the Environmental Defenders group, and see if they want them. If not, I will donate to the Salvation Army.

These are the main bookshelves in the family room. You can see the cleared out spaces I have now. There are two more small bookcases in the family room - one with my non-fiction books and the other with children's books from my boy's childhood days. I worked on cleaning out the children's books today. I have about 50 of those books to either sell or donate. I'll be working on my non-fiction books and cookbooks next.

Speaking of Facebook Marketplace, I've been looking for a new piece of furniture for my large kitchen wall. I'd like to replace the tall, skinny hutch and vintage cart with a mid-sized hutch. I found a beautiful pine hutch just the other day that had glass double doors on top, a nice ledge space, then two big cupboards on the bottom. And it was only $50. It sold right away. I have emotional ties to this skinny hutch. Brian and I bought it when we were first married. It was our first quality, vintage piece of furniture we purchased in an antique store. But it doesn't serve us well anymore. I need more cupboard space for larger serving dishes, our wedding china, and smaller kitchen appliances such as the blender, food processor and Crockpot. My cookbooks (I have about 40-50, soon to be less!) could go in the upper portion like what I have now. I considered a buffet instead of a hutch, but then I wouldn't have display room for my cookbooks.

The nourishing comfort food continues...this is a soup I made a few days ago. This one started out with your basic onions, celery and garlic and then I added three sweet potatoes, one carrot, a can of tomatoes and broth. Baby spinach was stirred in at the end. You can also stir in a can of drained white beans. A reader in my last post asked if I would share my posole recipe. I don't have a "recipe"! I do sometimes follow recipes I find online or in my cookbooks, but I also make a lot of things just from the top of my head. That's why I like cooking better than baking...I feel more creative with cooking. I make up a lot of my own recipes and just go with the flow as I'm cooking. 

A winter storm is going to hit here anytime now. Depending on how it tracks, we should get 4-8" of snow by tomorrow morning. High winds will also make for blowing and drifting snow across the roadways. Brian's working until 11 PM tonight so of course, I worry about him driving home in this weather. I won't be able to go to bed until he's home safe and sound. In the meantime, I have a pot of chicken and veggie soup simmering on the stove. I added fresh garlic and ginger to the soup, as well as turmeric, rosemary and thyme. Anti-inflammatory, comforting and delicious! I wish you all could smell my house right now. 😃

Have a good week and stay well and safe.


  1. I'm sure your house smells absolutely delicious. You are such an inspiration with paring down your book collection. We have lots of books too. I got rid of several non-fiction books I don't plan to read - I posted them on Craig's list and if that doesn't work, we'll take them to a local used book store to turn in for credit. I always enjoy your posts. Stay safe and warm in the storm. See you again soon.

  2. It sounds like Brian is in for a comforting treat when he arrives home. Hope the snow holds off until he is safe and sound.
    I can relate to your book situation. When we built our last house I wanted lots of built in bookcases as that was something I didn't have in the previous house. It didn't take long until the bookcases were filled. I did several edits through the years. The thing is when I can find such fabulous books for so cheap at the local thrift shops, it's hard to resist. Now in this house there are no bookcases (yet), but I have books stuffed in closets and drawers. I guess once a book lover always a book lover :). If you ever do decide to move you will be happy that you have thinned them out a bit. I wish you luck in selling them.

  3. There is nothing prettier than a bookcase filled with books. It makes a room feel so cozy. I love yours. I had a yard sale a couple of years ago and had about 50 books to sell. Would you believe not one sold? Not one! And they were all in excellent condition. I think a hutch in your kitchen is an excellent idea. You have that wall that would accommodate a nice size one. It'll provide all that storage space for your china, appliances etc. and the shelves for all your cookbooks. That'll be awesome. Good luck in your hunt. You don't have to get rid of that vintage piece, just move to another area in your home. It's a nice piece. Prayers and safe travels for your husband. We're expecting snow here as well.

  4. Oh wow! That is a lot of books! Will feel great to purge and only keep what you want. i definitely feel like we have too much unnecessary stuff. I like the idea of Swedish death cleaning, where you have a good sort out so that no one has to deal with your stuff when you are gone. I know my boys don't care about most of what I have, especially where crafts are concerned. And neither one of them are very sentimental about belongings. I'm definitely getting better about letting things go. Soup is always a good idea. I'm like you, rarely follow recipes. Even if I do and then make something similar again, I always just throw it together, based on what I have or the spices, etc that I think might make it even tastier. :) Definitely can't do that with baking. Sending warm wishes your way. Take care.

  5. We downsized this past Sept from a 2400 square foot home to a 1400 square foot home. We did sell our house completely furnished, except for some personal items like art, Christmas ornaments etc, so we didn't have to purge much. Your soup sounds delicious!

  6. Books and soup. Those two things bring me so much comfort. I wish I could smell your home too.
    Sending you big wintery hugs and a safe drive to and from work for Brian.


  7. I'm sure it feels great to pass on all those books and free up bookshelf space. I send a bag of fiction that I don't want to keep every once in a while to a little grocery store near our old house where they keep a bin for customers to donate and take. Lots of books I used to find at Goodwill go into that after I've read them but I have found a few vintage classics that stay.

    Melanie, I hope you can find a hutch for that big wall in your kitchen that you love. The possibilities for storage and display is exciting! Maybe you can find another space for the narrow one somewhere else in the house. I've never bought from FB marketplace but I know from following a few YouTubers who do that you have to jump on a find. One ran to her car in her bathrobe and scored a gorgeous antique wardrobe! Soup time, indeed! Did you get a lot of snow last night? I hope Brian got home safely.

  8. Hi Melanie! Soup sounds really good right now. We're cold but no snow. Suppose to get flurries later tonight. I too, have been trying to get rid of stuff but oh how I hate getting rid of my junk. LOL. Stay warm and safe.

  9. That soup sounds really good with all the snow we are getting. Cold and snowy day and soup. Perfect combination. Wow you really have a big collection of books for sure. I bet you can sell them easily on FB Marketplace. I have always wanted one of those little houses out front of my house that you put books in for passerby's to pick out a book. A lot of people have those here in Wheaton. I love the idea. You would need a very big book house! Have a great rest of the day. Let's hope for some sunshine this week. xoxo

  10. You sure know how to keep the home fires burning. Years ago I had two bookcases full of books. I didn't take the books down often, and one day I noticed I had roaches. I couldn't figure out where they were coming from. Then I started taking my books out and they were all behind my books! That scared me from ever keeping books stored for long periods of time in bookcases!

    1. Oh, that's gross! That is one bug we've never had in this house, thank goodness. My bookcases are clean!

  11. I like your shelves! I decided on somewhat of a whim a couple of weeks ago to turn our home office room into a library-finally deciding to embrace all of the books I have amassed instead of constantly trying to find new hiding places for them-I did only keep the ones that still "spark joy"!

  12. I have a whole house of antiques I need to get rid of so we can downsize at some point. No one wants beautiful antiques anymore, it is all IKEA stuff and things that are dispensable. Stay safe.

  13. You’ve always had a large book collection, it must be hard to sort through them all. I keep thinking of doing the same, but just haven’t yet. I never get rid of my gardening books though. I’ve done lots of cooking and baking lately, and I’m enjoying it much more now that hubby is home all the time. I do love making a cozy home, but even that’s starting to wear thin right now. I’m so over this pandemic!

  14. I am a collector of books as well Melanie. It is so hard to downsize, and decide what to keep when you have so many you love. Your bookshelves look so lovely! And I know also how hard it is to get rid of furniture that no longer serves a purpose, even when its loved. Perhaps it could find better use in a different spot in your home? I've done that before too, sometimes using furniture in unconventional places. I've seen hutches in bedrooms, instead of dining rooms! Hope you are staying warm and cozy with the storm! Many blessings :)

  15. It's so hard for me to part with books although I've gotten better about it in certain categories. Like you, I get a lot of fiction from our library book sales. One thing I've been doing the past few years is to do a book giveaway on my blog every so often. After my youngest got married I did get rid of about 15 boxes of homeschooling books. I sold some and gave the rest away. I'll bet I have well over a thousand books...maybe a couple thousand? I don't have trouble getting rid of modern fiction after I've read it but so much of what I've collected over the years consists of classic literature and vintage fiction in wonderful old hardback editions. Unless and until I don't have room, those will remain on my shelves. I did get rid of a few (very few) cookbooks but those are hard for me to part with, too.

    I'm totally with you on preferring cooking over baking and for the same reason. I *can* follow a recipe but I much prefer the creativity of making up my own.


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