Watching the clip in the last blog entry, reminded me of a specific clutter problem that seems common: cookbooks.
I'm happy to say that I've never had this problem. Most bachelors don't even OWN a cookbook. I own one or two, which worked fine for me. Since getting married, my home has picked up a few more. I'll be keeping an eye on that pile. Growing up, my mother, who was a housewife (or to use the new politically correct euphemism, a "stay-at-home mom") cooked all the time but still managed to keep her cookbook collection under a dozen. If she ever did read from a cookbook, 99% of the time it was the loose-leaf version she owned of "The New Cookbook" from Better Homes & Gardens.
But I have indeed seen other homes where the cookbook collection was out of control. I have one friend who must own at least over 50 cookbooks, taking up many shelves. And the kicker is that the books were on the upper floor, not even anywhere near the kitchen. Not surprisingly, used bookstores always have tons of cookbooks. If anything, it's usually their biggest section.
So while I can't say that I have this cluttering problem, I think I can take a guess as to how it happens. You see the book in the store. You say "Ooh, this looks really good!" You buy the book. Then it sits on your shelf indefinitely, unopened. Or at best, you end up using it for ONE recipe, then don't take it out again. Then you buy another cookbook, and the same thing happens. Another problem is that you typically don't even use 10% of the recipes in a given cookbook, so you're basically using up shelf space to store 2,000 pages worth of recipes just for the 20 pages you DO use.
Does this sound like you? Do you have so many cookbooks that they could fuel a fire stove for 8 straight months? If so, then I offer my humble suggestions:
- Keep your cookbooks in or near the kitchen. If you store them far away, chances are you'll never end up using them.
- Look through your cookbooks and find the ones that you haven't used in 2 years. Stop rationalizing with "Well I may want to use it for this recipe some day." If you've owned the book for 5 years and still haven't done it, chances are you'll simply never get around to doing it anyway. The threshold should probably be less than 2 years, but I'm being lenient in cases where you make some special dish on every other Xmas, or whatever.
- Again, with most cookbooks, you probably won't even end up using 90% of the recipes they give. That's where most of the volume comes from. If you have a 300 page cookbook and you only use it for one recipe, just copy down the damn recipe and get rid of the book.
- Store your "loose" recipes in an organized way. My mother used stick all of them, regardless of size or shape, in a huge stack in a big brown envelope. She managed, but I'm sure you could do better. You can use the good ol' 3x5" index cards and a box. Or store them on your computer and print out the ones you need into a binder. There are lots of free recipe websites out there that can give you a recipe you need anyway, and even store the ones you like to an on-line account. Look into this.
Again, this isn't a problem I personally have, so maybe my suggestions are off-base. But I'm sure there are readers out there who might have this problem.