We’re preparing to have a yard sale, or as we say up here in the Frozen North, a garage sale. For reasons unknown to me, no one here actually puts their stuff on the grass — it’s all piled onto the driveway, and sometimes in the garage. This would make sense if there were furniture and such, but most of the time it’s just tables of knick knacks and such-like. Why not leave your driveway free for kids to bike or hopscotch on? Maybe it’s residual British influence: Keep Off The Grass.
Terminology aside, we (being a group of house-owning friends, not just The Boy and I) actually had originally talked about doing this last summer, but due to disorganization and procrastination never actually got around to it. So this year, we’ve set a (tentative) date, and things appear to be go.
I am so excited, I can barely contain my internal giddiness.
It’s not the prospect of money at all. For me, it’s really just the opportunity to get rid of all this Stuff that’s lying around the house, most of it unused since I moved in with The Boy two and a half years ago.
Why didn’t I just drive it down to Goodwill, you say? I did. Several times. I went through every scrap of clothing that I own (both here and in my parents house in Tropical Ontario), and gave away about 3.5 black garbage bags worth of clothing. (The Boy was both amused and horrified when he looked at the closet afterwards and said that he honestly couldn’t tell the difference. This may or may not have been because I also had clothes in boxes under the bed, on the floor in the closet, in the other room,… you get the idea.) I’ve also given away books and many a set of knives. I have yet, however, to give away anything which wasn’t mine to start with. I feel that sneakily giving away someone else’s Stuff (no matter how tempting, and how little (or never) we use it!) is dishonest and wrong. (Definitely tempting though, sometimes.)
Over the course of the almost-year (!) that we’ve been living in the house, we’ve been vaguely stashing stuff “for the garage sale” in a room in the basement. A whole room full of Stuff which will vanish! (Anything left after the sale I am driving directly to the nearest Goodwill, never to cross my threshold again.)
The problem is not with all of that Stuff, although I do foresee an upcoming conversation where I plead with The Boy to please let us free some of the kitchen appliances we never use. No, no. For us, the problem is Books.
We’re both used book clutterbugs. It’s addictive and somewhat embarrassing. In spite of having an awesome catalogue of every book (and DVD and game) we own, we still manage to buy duplicates at used book sales, and I can’t get over the guilt of the fact that I keep buying more books when I haven’t actually read all the ones I own.
(Don’t tell anyone, okay? I’m working on it… slowly.)
My project of late has been to pick a section of shelving whenever I have a little time, and sift through it for duplicates or just books I don’t want anymore. Again, for now I’m trying to avoid getting rid of books that aren’t mine, which is why I started with my craft room (8 books, gone!), and last night, the kitchen.
(As an aside, was that the longest intro to get to the point of an entry ever? Sorry about that.)
So in the kitchen we have a butcher’s block where I have been stashing cookbooks essentially since we moved in. It was close to overflowing, and I could only name maybe 5 of the books in that pile from memory. Some of those cookbooks are non-negotiable. Whether for sentimental reasons or others, the following books are staying in the kitchen:
The Creative Cooking Course, by Charlotte Turgeon
How to Eat, by Nigella Lawson
Muffin Mania, by Cathy and Joan Pauli Prange
And… that’s it. I used to want a copy of The Joy of Food (the version that has the instructions for how to skin a squirrel in) as well, so that I’d be able to cook “anything”, but I’m starting to think that would be a mistake. So what about the other twenty nine cookbooks I rummaged out of the block? I did some divvying.
First, there was the pile of books that I have actually used and like, but I always seem to use the same two or three recipes out of them. (e.g. Pei Mei’s Chinese Cook Book Volume I) Couldn’t I just keep the recipes I use and send the books on to their next grateful owners?
Next was the pile of books that I’ve flipped through, and like the look of (e.g. Maida Heatter’s Book of Great Chocolate Desserts) but have never actually tested a recipe from. These were problematic.
Similarly problematic are the books that The Boy bought, mostly while travelling. For the location ones, I guess I have the option of filing them with the travel books as souvenirs, but the other ones I don’t know whether to keep or send on their way.
Lastly was the pile of books I know I don’t want or need. So those got whisked into the basement. (The one I’m proudest of getting rid of? Laurel’s Kitchen, which I’ve had for so long, and always felt I should keep because it has so much nutritional information in it. I have not once looked through it for any of that information and I have so many vegetarian/vegan cooking blogs that I like, I really don’t think I’d ever use the book.)
For the problematic books, I’ve piled them up together, and decided they have until the end of April as their probation period. This means that…
- I actually need to start looking through my cookbooks semi-regularly. I figure this shouldn’t be too hard, since I make up rough menus for the week in my head anyway. This way I can hopefully spend less time browsing cookery websites and just use the books at home instead.
- I should probably tack post-its on the front of the books for easy notation of opinion so that, come April, I’ll have an easy sorting task.
So that was more than a little long-winded, but I’m pretty excited about the whole thing. I’ve been feeling kind of boring on the cooking front for awhile now, so it’ll be fun to jazz things up a little, and also: hey, maybe I’ll learn that I really like some of the cookbooks I own!
It does make me wonder though: am I the only one who owns zillions of cookbooks and really only uses, uh, two of them? For the same 5 recipes?