My Mom's Apple Cake (originated by Aunt Dorothy)
Get rid of things that no longer work for you.
A few saved recipes from the past = precious mementos.
A huge collection = overwhelming clutter.
--My Riff/Mash-Up of a Gretchen Rubin Happiness Project Rule--
My Thursday Office Purge Party
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On Thursday, I spent most of the day going through every drawer, every shelf, every binder, and every file folder in my office at work. It was a Purge Party.
Amazing, what I found hidden out of sight in my file folders, drawers, & binders.
Old, irrelevant, no longer useful papers, manuals, memos, statistics, & computer discs galore!
Here's the reason for the Thursday purge. Next week we're getting brand-new carpeting in the library. All the furniture and cubicle dividers will be dismantled--and moved out--to make way for new carpeting. But, before any of this can happen, all of us had to pack up every single thing in our offices (correction: cubicles). And there's no way I was going to pack up all that useless stuff.
We brought in a giant paper recycling dumpster, and I purged, baby! It felt fantastic to unload that useless clutter. And it was so much fun.
My Friday Paper Purge
Friday was my day off. I had a long list of things on my To-Do List--and none of them were remotely close to organizing recipes, or purging home files. Are you kidding me? After Thursday's office purge, I had had enough of that for awhile.
But, that's exactly what my Friday turned into.
When I returned home from exercising & errands on Friday morning, I found my husband in the middle of a Clean, Purge, & Organize Mission! Be careful what you wish for, is all I have to say.
My Husband: "That pile of stuff on the kitchen island--that's all of your papers, recipes, and things. I've already thrown out all the obvious garbage stuff that was on the shelves. So please go through your stuff--decide what you want to keep--or throw it out. I can't do anymore here until you go through that stuff."
Me: "Oh gee, thanks!" (I'm thinking--now, why exactly should my pile of stuff stop you from continuing on with your cleaning & organizing mission? But, by now he was on to another project--changing the oil in my car.)
I kept my mouth shut. Trust me--there was no way I wanted to go through those piles--right then--at that moment--but I can't stand clutter on my kitchen island. It had to be dealt with right away. This was stuff I've looked through before--stuff I hadn't been quite ready to part with in the past. Ugh.
But, I definitely didn't want to be the roadblock to my husband's cleaning & organizing mission.
So, I carefully went through the pile on the kitchen island.
- My mom's last wallet, with her driver's license, little notes, membership cards.
- One recipe album, 2 recipe notebooks, 5 file folders worth of recipes from the past 39 years of marriage (periodically weeded)
- My kids' left-behind CDs.
- My meager collection of CDs
- Two giant notebooks & a file box filled with non-medical newspaper clippings, inspirational stuff, articles worth saving, how-to information (like how to hang a picture), business cards, records of past home-improvement projects, what's planted in our garden, some medical records, travel ideas, book & movie recommendations, and more. At one point in my life these were all things that were "save worthy".
Three hours later I had purged a giant garbage bag with papers from my past--all ready for the recycling dumpster!
And, yes, I saved what was worth saving.
The Recipe Purge
I already knew I was committed to this plant-based no-oil lifestyle without needing to purge any recipes from my past. My pantry has long ago been purged of junk. I've been eating plant-based for 3 1/2 years now. No-added-oil for 13 months. It feels like how I've always eaten. It's normal. It's routine.
But, ditching my recipes & cookbooks feels like drawing a line in the sand. Like throwing out clothes that no longer fit. Or making your kitchen officially Kosher. It's saying, "This is me, now. I'm not the same person that I used to be. This isn't a fad. It's no longer just an experiment. Sure, I'm open to tweaking--but oil, dairy, meat... I don't think so!
So, now it's a done deal. All those holiday recipes I had collected for briskets, kugels, blintz souffle--the desserts made with lots of butter, nuts, shortening, eggs & oil....GONE! (Don't worry---if anyone should ever need them--they're all findable on the internet)
All those saved newspaper/magazine/internet/photocopied/hand-written recipes for cookies, cakes, chicken, beef, and casseroles...GONE!
All the cookbooks I no longer use--The Barefood Contessa's, Rachel Ray's, The Silver Palate--banished to the basement bookshelf. Donate to the library? To friends?
It was a no-brainer. I had no regrets or second thoughts.
I can't imagine making anything anymore with shortening, butter, oil, eggs, cheese, cream, meat, or poultry.
Surprisingly, there were plenty of recipes worth saving. Some I had long forgotten about, that can be easily tweaked to go oil-free or dairy-free. It was nice to be reminded of them.
My Special Flowered Recipe Notebook--39 Years of Cooking History
Yes, I'm a sentimental softy, at heart.
There's a whole history of recipes from the special people in my life that lives in my Pink Flowered Recipe Notebook. They're yellowed with age. They're grease-splattered. Some are hard to read.
Plenty are written in the handwriting of those special people. They're "forever keepers".
Of course, I saved all of those.
My Sister's Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies
My Mother-in-Law's Sour Cream Coffee Cake
She was making this in her kitchen on the day we first met--1970.
My Sister-in-Law's Spaghetti (she passed away 30 years ago)
Uncovering Buried Treasures
I was listening to Senator Sherrod Brown on the radio as I was busily sorting through the piles on my kitchen island.
Brown happened to mention his wife, Connie Schultz, had just celebrated a birthday. Connie's a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, who's a favorite of mine. She's smart, funny, & has chutzpah. She's not afraid to tell-it-as-she-sees-it! Click here for a Connie Schultz, I-can't-believe-this-is-really-true story post.
How strange that I had just uncovered a copy of a yellowed Plain Dealer magazine page with a poem she had written almost 10 years ago.
Update: I just re-read my Connie Schultz post--hadn't read it since I wrote it in 2008. Gotta say--the story about Jane left tears in my eyes & gave me chills. You see, Jane's grandmother just happens to be my mom! And, here's another coincidental twist to all of this--I also remembered that I had tucked a copy of Connie's poem into Jane's college graduation card. The rest of the story....she's graduated with a Dr. of Physical Therapy in 2010 and she's doing just fine!
Create Your Own Rainbow
We think we have all the time in the world.
Some day we'll go home early. We'll write that song,
Speak our mind, say we're sorry and make it right.
Some day we'll pluck our biggest dream out of the sky
And declare this one here is mine.
The future is no place to leave our hopes,
And waiting for the right time to make our mark can blind us to
the perfect moment right in front of us.
Quietly beckoning us to seize its promise.
Connie's poem wasn't the only piece of buried treasure that I rediscovered on the Kitchen Island yesterday--and decided to save. There were other gold nuggets that I saved, put away, only to rediscover again, the next time I go on a paper purge.
I Guess I'm Not the Only One
At dinner last night I told my friend Joyce about my recipe purge.
Turns out--she did the exact same thing 2 weeks ago. Dumping all the recipes & cookbooks that no longer fit with the way she now cooks.
Help! Does anyone have some practical advice on how best to save papers & scraps of useful "orphaned" info--so it can be easily retrieved--not buried alive? Please Share!
Any tips for creating useful retrievable files--that don't turn into "another way station before going into the trash"?
How do you keep track of what you file/put away?
And Stay Tuned:
- The latest very exciting news in Alzheimer's/Dementia Prevention
- Our Brendan Brazier's Recovery Drink Review--along with his energy bar recipe
- It's been 13 months on the Esselstyn plant-based no-oil diet--coming up--My Review