Category Archives: Simplify

Releasing Books Part II and then comes Magazines

Success. The Bernal Heights Library accepted all of the books I donated. I took them in to the Circulation Desk to drop them off. The Librarian explained to me that whatever they don’t keep they donate to Friends of the San Francisco Public Library.

Next time though I think I will donate them directly to the Friends of the Library because they will give you a receipt for your tax-deductible donation. I don’t think the libraries themselves are setup to give the receipts.

Also, they don’t accept magazines. I have yet to find a local place that I would consider a good source for buying and selling (or even donating) used magazines. I called my local bookstore, Red Hill Books, on Cortland Avenue. They do not currently buy or sell used magazines. That would be the most ideal location for me if I could buy and sell used magazines there. I know I would stop in all the time. I did provide that feedback to the person I spoke with on the phone so I will let you know if anything comes of that feedback.

I was told that Green Apple Books might buy and sell used magazines. I called them. They said no they do not buy and sell used magazines. There is a used book store in Berkeley on Shattuck near the BART station that will buy (in limited quantities for like ten cents each) used magazines and does also sell used magazines. Alas Berkeley is also too far to be a stop on my regular errands and therefore would not be a simple solution for me.

For now the best solution I’ve found is that I’m going to donate them to Gifts on the Hill.  Gifts on the Hill is run by the Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center which is an awesome non-profit that serves Bernal Community members in large part seniors and low-income. I called Gifts on the Hill and they said they don’t sell used magazines but that the seniors would probably enjoy them so that’s where I’m going to donate my magazines this year. Perhaps knowing that they are going to a place where people will enjoy them will help me to donate them as soon as I’m done reading them so they don’t end up as house clutter.


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Can I…SIMPLIFY…this year?

Word of the day? Word of the week? Maybe even word of the year? Simplify.

I am really excited about this article I read in this month’s Sunset magazine. It’s all about a family who lives a zero waste lifestyle. The family lives right here in the Bay Area in Mill Valley. The mom, Bea Johnson, is a professional organizer and a blogger. They have two kids and a dog.  What amazes me is just how much they have simplified their life. I love the pictures of their home in the article. That’s actually the most appealing part of the article for me. The words tell you how to do it but when I saw the pictures of this clutter-free home I thought:  I.WANT.THAT. How nice would it be to come home and have no clutter, no crowding in your drawers, no cramming in your closets? To love the things that you own and to release the stuff that doesn’t serve you? It has definitely motivated me to do more this year to simplify my life.

Here’s my story of one important thing (for me) that I’ve been motivated to do so far:

Books. In the article Bea talks a lot about how they don’t own books. They go to the library regularly. When I first read that I had mixed thoughts. The part of my that clings to stuff said “No books? Sacrilege!” Then the part of me that wants to simplify said, “Well, we have a library less than 3 blocks away. Why not share a few more books with the library. Besides if I decide I want to read one then it’ll be there at the library.” So my simplifying self won that argument and I took a good look at my bookshelf. And there it was “Ulysses” by James Joyce.  I bought this book when I lived in Ireland, in 1999. I had great intentions of reading it. It has now been with me though 3 moves and eleven years and I still have not read it. So “Ulysses” and several other acquired-with-good-intentions-but-never-got-around-to-them books went into my box to donate to my library.

Now here’s the part where I’m not completely there with the simplifying. The simplest thing would have been to just donate all those books along with the other clothes and household items I dropped off at the thrift store yesterday.  I held the books back because I plan to take them to our library this week. I know that the library may not accept all of them and that will require another trip to drop them off at the thrift store. I’m OK with that. See long ago I started to realize that when it comes to my own personal attachment to stuff sometimes I have to make little bargains with myself – the little Clinging Angel on my shoulder versus the little Simplifying Angel on my other shoulder. In this conversation the Clinging Angel was able to release the attachment to the books because those books would be available at the library. (Nevermind the fact that all the books I’m donating are probably already available in the SF Public Library system). Attachment to stuff is not simply logical. We carry a lot of emotional attachment to our stuff. My “Ulysses” book was part of my special time in Ireland, the time I spent devoted to learning about my Irish heritage. My Clinging Angel didn’t want to let go of that special memory or admit that I probably wasn’t going to get around to reading Ulysses. So my Simplifying Angel had to take a baby-step by donating the book to the library instead of the thrift store.

Logical, no. Effective, yes. Score one for my Simplifying Angel.

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Dream, make, save – repurpose a gift box into a tea chest

Combining households, friends moving away, Christmas gifts…what do these things all have in common? They’ve left us with a huge stash of teas and an overflowing cabinet.

On Amazon the other day I spied these beautiful wooden tea chests.

Mark Feldstein Wooden Tea Chest

Ironwood Gourmet Acacia Wood Tea Chest

Do you ever start to daydream whenever you’re shopping and you find something you like? I do. I started to imagine that unweidly gallon-sized ziplock bag full of mixed tea packets sweetly compartmentalized in a wooden tea chest. Then happy memories of a lovely dining experience at The Fly Trap capped off by the waiter opening the wooden tea chest and asking me to pick out my tea – just like a present. Lovely. And all of this could be mine – for only $25 – $45.

And then I remembered that I happened to have a metal box left over from a Christmas gift set, a cardboard box from a case of wine, a pair of scissors and a ruler. And also perhaps a greater fondness for the green in my wallet than my shopping daydreams.So here’s what I wepurposed:

I lucked out in that the cardboard inserts from the wine case were just about exactly the right size. I pretty much just trimmed them down with scissors until they fit into the metal tin. I did find that it’s best to keep the height of the cardboard inserts about half an inch lower than the top of the box. That allows you easier access to pick up the tea packets.

Best of all my tea cupboard is no longer overflowing. I can’t wait to have guests over for tea. Total wepurpose savings = $40.


Filed under Organize, Repurpose, Simplify

Extend your reach – repurpose your tweezers

Have you ever had a candle in a tall jar? After awhile the wick ends up pretty far down and you can no longer light it with a regular match or a lighter. Countless times I have singed my fingertips trying to reach down that long skinny glass. Or the flame ended up too close to the glass and created ugly smoke marks.

Turns out I already had a simple tool in my bathroom cupboard that solves the problem.

(1) Strike a match

(2) Hold the unlit end of your match with a tweezers

(3) Light the candle

Simple, free, problem solver.


Filed under Repurpose, Simplify