When you haven't worn it in a year....or five....

alisandeJanuary 29, 2005

I don't have a lot of clothes by most standards. But my severely limited closet space makes it seem as though I have an extensive wardrobe. Much of it has gone unused for at least a year. My question is: Why is it so hard for me to get rid of clothes and shoes?

Some of the pieces have sentimental value, but even that isn't much of an excuse. I keep thinking I WILL wear them, maybe next year. But you and I know how likely that is. I have to get rid of some of these, and I know I'll feel better when I do. So why is the process so difficult??

Susan

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cupofkindness

Because you spent money on them, you enjoyed wearing them, and you probably looked great in them. What about donating the clothes to one of those places that outfits single mothers (welfare-to-workfare type programs) for job interviews and a work wardrobe? That could make a real difference in someone's life.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2005 at 6:05PM
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blazedog

Don't be so hard on yourself.

Start with those things that are easiest -- the stuff that wasn't that great to begin with and you never enjoyed wearing; the stuff that is so obviously out of style and hideous to boot; that you wore alot and has seen better days.

As you progressively go through the layers of decluttering it becomes easier. At this point, you are stalled because your are thinking that you have to do it all at once - get rid of everything.

Henceforth if you buy something you must immediately get rid of one item.

My closets are over crammed and I am a work in progress. Every week or so I re-evaluate a few and see which ones I am emotionally ready to get rid of -- as flylady says, you didn't create the clutter in a day so why worry that it's not decluttered in a day.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2005 at 8:41PM
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claire_de_luna

I am there. I just bagged (to donate) pants that I wore two sizes ago. I kept thinking I might wear them someday, but I didn't. (It doesn't help I couldn't really find them anyway, since they were creating a jam in my closet. Never mind they don't even fit!) I realized as I was going through these things that a lot of them are out of style. (Although I hear that now the 80's are on their way back.)

Part of it for me has to do with the fact that I'm hard to fit. Whether it's shoes or pants, shopping is a hassle sometimes. If the shoes fit, then it's hard for me to part with them. That said, I'm cleaned out, yet still have a limit. I'm no longer cramming. I could go through everything in another month or so and probably weed out a few more things, but for now I've done well...

    Bookmark   January 29, 2005 at 9:10PM
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Sylvia

I don't remember where I read this tip, probably in a thread here somewhere.

Hang ALL your clothes with the hanger hook backwards. As you wear them and clean them and put them back, put the hanger hooks back the right way. Pick a time frame, perhaps at the end of each season?, and at that point take everything that remains backwards and get rid of it.

The only things I would *really* exclude are: fancies like ball gowns if you still have occasions to wear them, or maternity dresses if you plan on another child, or ski clothes if you plan to ski etc. But regular everyday clothes, if you are not wearing them it is because they no longer work for you. Embrace the fact that you have changed and moved on, and use them to bless someone else.

And blazedog is exactly right: when you bring something new home, you *must* find one like it to get rid of. A shirt for a shirt, a pair of pants for a pair of pants.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2005 at 3:00PM
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mitchdesj

Interesting topic; I purged my closets a few years ago but I had kept a few pantsuits that were good quality and had spent a lot of money on; 2 years later, those suits were still there, unworn; I decided to wear them for a day and decide for good.

I remembered that the brown one always felt thick and warm; wearing it one more time confirmed this so in the goodwill bag it went. The black one creased like crazy and made me look funny so out that one went, and so on and so forth.....

Forcing yourself to wear the clothes you keep endlessly , one more time before ditching them can make you feel better about getting rid of them more permanently- when they've been in your closet for so long, you forget why you are not wearing them.
Seeing yourself in the mirror and walking about in the clothes makes you make a decision real fast !!!

    Bookmark   January 31, 2005 at 6:27AM
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talley_sue_nyc

Long ago, I asked a question about the "if you haven't used it in a year, toss it" concept.

If I followed that, I'd throw out my long underwear because this was a mild winter, my swimsuit because I didn't make it to a pool one summer, my formal dress because there was no wedding in the family this year.

(I had a long list of other stuff, like the power drill, the cake plate, etc, but I'll stick to clothes)

Someone had an alternate way to look at this, and I really like it.

Have you ever *passed up* a chance to wear it? In other words, if the weather's cold, but I decide not to wear those longjohns, I need to toss them.

If there's a wedding in the family, and I decide not to wear that formal dress (either picking a different one, or ESP. if I go buy a new one), that's a sign I should pass it on.

I currently have WAY too many long-sleeved T-shirts, turtlenecks, and thin sweaters. (the funny thing is, the ones that fit a little bit funny are actually the ones I wear; I don't love how they fit, but their material and color work well)

I need to start applying this same concept, and slowly work my way through. If I say, "I'm going to wear this today," and find myself hesitating, then that shirt is going in the giveaway pile.

And mitchdesj, that's a really great piece of advice! I think I'll need to apply it as well.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2005 at 10:08AM
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marie26

mitchdesj and Talley Sue, I love the advice you both gave. I cleaned out my dresser drawers today and finally threw out those items I always pass up. I still have my closet to do and I will definitely use your guidelines when going through my clothes. If I know I always pass it up, out it goes and if I can't let it go, I must wear it. It's funny but when I wrote "I must wear it", I realized that more even more clothes will get thrown out because I know I will never wear them.

I just wish I knew how to apply these principles to my hoarding of paper.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2005 at 2:24PM
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Julie_MI_Z5

Good morning! I was reading old posts this morning and this one is perfect timing. Last night I found a stash of summer clothes that I didn't wear this year (primarily because I had forgotten where I stashed them). Too bad summer is definitely over in Michigan!

I can definitely get rid of some of them... just have to figure out which ones!

    Bookmark   October 13, 2005 at 5:54AM
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trekaren

The "haven't worn it in a year" thing does not work for me.

But I think the hurricane has made me rethink why I hold on to things.

True sentimental things I keep: A vintage dress from 1964 that my aunt wore (she died very young in '65). My cap and gown from graduation. A dress my mother made for me.

Otherwise, I did see that I was hanging onto other things simply because "it's a nice outfit and I spent good money on it - even though for one reason or another I NEVER wear it".

One pantsuit is so matronly on me. I wore it once and hated it. Kept it for about 8 years. WHY?

A gorgeous red suit that mom bought me in 1990. It is so beautiful - looks like something Susan Lucci would wear. BUT I never wore it. When it was given to me it barely fit, and within 6 months I was way past ever wearing a size 8 ever again LOL

But (a) it was a gift and (b) it is pretty. But why leave it hanging for 15 years???? With tags still on??? So I told my mom what I was going to do, and now it's in the pile that is going to Must Ministries. Some size eight hurricane victim is going to look FABULOUS! (and by the way, Mom was shocked I still had it)

Anyway, some things, after thinking hard, and evaluating logically, I realize I can part with them. And others, there is true sentiment attached, and I am cool with keeping them.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2005 at 8:51AM
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caseyb

I have trouble with this too - one of my big problems is suits, which I wear occasionally for work - say 3 or 4 times a year, no more than 6. I recently (finally) gave some away, and will likely part with one or two more, on the principle that I only need a few versatile suits, so I should only keep what looks great on me and is versatile.

I also really like the advice above about forcing yourself to wear something to remember why you haven't been - I have done this a few times (not as part of a clean-out-the-closet program) and been surpised at how much I *like* some of them. They just get lost because I have *too much*.

Similar to the suit problem, I have too many dresses, mostly summer. I have had very little occassion to wear them in the past three years, since we have been building our house for that long. Most of my 'casual/fun' clothes have been languishing while my 'work' clothes (covered with paint, wood glue and holes) have gotten a serious workout. Now that life is presumeably back to normal, I should be able to pare down... My goal is to figure out how many dresses of what type I might need in my wardrobe, and then weed things out until that's what I have. Right now, I think I have more options than I'll ever need. And because I have so much, I don't feel like I can buy anything new/updated without guilt.

Good luck to all of us. :)

    Bookmark   October 13, 2005 at 9:45AM
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sheriz6

Clearing out clothing is SO hard! I left the workforce to be a SAHM nine years ago and I just got rid of the last of my work clothes. They no longer fit and were no longer in style, but it was still a wrench to let them go.

One thing that helped a lot was for me to come to terms with the fact that I will most probably never be a size 8 or 10 again. I also realized that I didn't have to dress for baby messes anymore (my youngest is 6). Last spring (after watching TLC's "What Not to Wear" all winter and taking copious notes, LOL) I went on a shopping spree and bought new clothes that actually fit and looked good on me. I hadn't done anything like this in YEARS. Once I had a few really nice outfits, it was much easier to purge the rest.

I've been doing regular closet-purges every couple of months since then, and it has gotten easier and easier to let go of stuff.

TREKaren, when you mentioned your Aunt's dress, I thought immediately of my Dad's sweater (he died in '86) that I still keep. It wasn't even one of his favorites or anything, it was just his, and I doubt I'll ever part with it.

The last area of closet clearing I need to face are the fancy dresses. We've been on a number of cruises and hope to go again when the kids are older so I have a number of (expensive, sigh!) cocktail dresses that I just haven't been able to part with. I know most of them are at least a size too small, too, so I should know better by now, right?

    Bookmark   October 13, 2005 at 9:57AM
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smom40

About two years ago, I got firm with myself. I took EVERYTHING out of the closets and made myself deal with it. I took out googobs of stuff. I'm never going to be a 'small' again. Or if I ever get there? I'm not going to wear "that". Do I need that white suit from the 80's? LOL NO NO NO I don't!

As to the size thing? I kept back ONE pair of teeny tiny jeans so that one day when I'm a really old bat, I can say to myself, damn I looked good in those!

I dumped all of the shoes that didn't fit postpregnancy. Meaning ALL of them. I grew 1/4 size. All of them went. All of the small sweaters. Tiny lingerie...

I kept my wedding dress, those jeans, a sweater given to me from the Netherlands that I might actually wear one size from now. The rest went to Goodwill.

I have very little in my closets that needs to be weeded. It's freeing.

It's addictive to toss it. Easy to cram it into a bag and shove it in the charity bin. And this is coming from a woman that once saved everything. I find myself wanting to toss things that I still wear! LOL

Now if I could just be that firm with kid's stuff that I'm saving...

    Bookmark   October 13, 2005 at 10:14AM
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talley_sue_nyc

I did a purge a while ago, and am pretty happy about it.

Then, when I pulled out the winter clothes and packed the summer ones away, I discovered that I have fewer winter clothes than summer ones! even though winter clothes are thicker.

I think I was tougher on the winter clothes; I tried to be tough on the summer ones as I put them away, but I couldn't quite bring myself to toss some of the work ones.

Though I'm really going ot think about those weskits. I liked the *idea* of how they look, but when I wear them, I feel kinda fat. They're in the "hesitate to actually put it on after I've picked it out" category.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2005 at 10:58AM
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Julie_MI_Z5

I give up.... What is a weskit? LOL

The best news is I'm pretty sure everything I own will fit me next week (I gained 3 pounds last week--much of which is in my swollen ankles--so some things would be a little too snug, LOL).

If I make the keep/toss judgment on the basis of what makes me feel good and what makes me feel frumpy, I might make progress.

My Friday night goal: DH and DS will be gone so I'll have the house to myself. I will clear off 10 hangers in that summer clothes stash.

You guys will have to hold me to it!

Julie

    Bookmark   October 13, 2005 at 8:46PM
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smom40

C'mon Julie, you can do it!

I've thrown away half of my house in the last week! ROFL!

Okay, not quite, but the trashcans are already full out there...

There is still stuff in there that I don't like, but if I toss any more, I'll be nekkid! :D

    Bookmark   October 14, 2005 at 12:07AM
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quiltglo

I am so glad that we don't have to bother with different clothing for different seasons. I know, one would think in Alaska we would have a closet full of winter stuff, but it's really all outside gear. I wear T-shirts and jeans all year round and just throw on a sweater if it gets cold. My kids have a couple of pairs of shorts, but nothing that takes up extra space.

It was so hard for me to get rid of my first wedding dress. We were only married a couple of years and didn't have any kids, but I hung onto that for years.

With my middle aged spread, my first real purge was anything at all that didn't fit. Having 3 kids in 5 years and seemingly not losing any weight, I had to empty the hole darn closet.

It was also easy for me to get rid of work clothes, since I taugh science and my pants rarely lasted two years.

And what in the heck is a weskit?

Gloria

    Bookmark   October 14, 2005 at 1:49AM
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holly_bc

Here's me poking my nose in again Julie. :-)) Forget about the 'purge part' of spring/summer (for now). Instead, find the 7 fave's - be it for work or not - just find 7 outfits that are big "YES"'s for you. Doing that concentrates energy on the positive. And then do that again (when you have time) cause at the end of the day(s), your going to have several outfits that you feel 'great' about and the rest kinda sorts itself out into the "Nope - don't think so. . ." pile almost all by itself. It either doesn't fit, doesn't make you feel good, or you need to spend waay more than it's worth to get said item together. JMH thots. :-))

A "Weskit" is a vest, generally shorter than the longer vests common today, but a vest all the same.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2005 at 2:22AM
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talley_sue_nyc

most tops labeled as a "weskit" are like vests w/ sleeves (usu. short), worn as a top.

They usu. curve in at the waist, though they fit loosely (they may have a tie; but the general effect is for them to be loose yet curve along w/ the body).

Here is a link that might be useful: here's a good pic of one

    Bookmark   October 14, 2005 at 1:54PM
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quiltglo

Very pretty. I have one just like that in lime green and it's one of my favorite blouses. I didn't realize the style had a name. But that's not like a vest.

Gloria

    Bookmark   October 14, 2005 at 3:22PM
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talley_sue_nyc

I think it's called a weskit because the SHAPE of the bodic is like a vest's and the BOTTOM is shaped like a vest.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2005 at 6:22PM
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Julie_MI_Z5

Yesterday evening I managed 7 things, then started agonizing over two blouses and gave up. I dreamed about it all night, then got up this morning and purged 7 more things, including both blouses!

What started my trouble last night was a white embroidered Christmas blouse my mother sent me. I hate to iron it. It's pretty enough, but "not me". I didn't wear it last year, and finally admitted I wasn't likely to wear it this year... and if I did I would only wear it once. Not worth keeping.

Also gone this morning: a 3-piece swimsuit (top, bikini bottom, shorts). I hate water and haven't been in it since our youngest son could go without mama holding him. I'm pretty sure I got this one in 1978 when I moved to Michigan.

I need to shop for Weskits! Reminds me of a regular blouse with form-fitting darts.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2005 at 6:30AM
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Julie_MI_Z5

Just got back from the coat closet.

In the giveaway bag went a winter jacket from my mother that (1) makes me feel fat, and (2) isn't water repellant. I wear it once a year and can do without it.

In the trash bag went two worn out sweatshirts and a billion-year-old trenchcoat that is too icky to wear to work or church. Where else would I wear a trenchcoat?? LOL

    Bookmark   October 15, 2005 at 7:10AM
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alisande

You guys are so inspiring! I'm glad this thread got resurrected, because so did my determination to gather up unwanted clothes and fill a bag or two (or ten). :-)

Susan

    Bookmark   October 15, 2005 at 9:45AM
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sheriz6

I'm so pleased, DH looked through the stuff on his side of the closet this past week and he's purged eight pairs of dress pants that don't fit, two dress shirts that choke him, and a ratty old quilted flannel jacket/shirt thing that he hasn't worn in years. He also tossed three pair of work shoes that have definitely seen better days. We now have one bag for donation and one for the trash.

Because of this thread I've had those cocktail dresses on my mind this week, too. I think I'm going to try them on and whatever is too small will go. We'll see how I do!

    Bookmark   October 15, 2005 at 10:31AM
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trekaren

I just got all the clothes in the van for goodwill, and before I left, I also checked thru the coat closet. Out went 3 mens jackets, one of DD's old coats, and one of my old jackets that I do not imagine I have worn since around 1992!!!

Now we are off to Goodwill!

    Bookmark   October 15, 2005 at 1:04PM
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Julie_MI_Z5

The new computer is out for repair (#*&*$#&, I said!) and DS wants to use this one.

Holly, I liked your idea of putting together outfits I know I would wear next spring/summer and seeing what's left.

So... I've been thinking... how many clothes do I keep KNOWING I will only wear them once a year? I'm going to exclude cocktail dresses (don't wear them often, but would hate to replace them later) and go RIGHT NOW and purge the the wear once or twice clothes.

When DS is finished computing, I'll report back.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2005 at 2:48PM
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Julie_MI_Z5

Reporting back:

Of COURSE I was distracted and never made it back to the closet. In the meantime:

If I dress up for work 5 days a week, and wear casual clothes 2 days, how many sweatshirts do I need?? In my defense, I have purchased 2 sweatshirts in the last 10 years. Since then, DS's have outgrown theirs and somehow they ended up with MY clothes. They fit, but....

Out of here this afternoon:
3 more sweatshirts (so far)
6 prs underwear (too big; I lost weight last winter and thought I'd trashed all the big ones already)
6 prs socks that I throw back in the drawer every time I pull them out (I like cushy terry stuff in mine and these are thin cotton)
1 grubby too-big workout t-shirt (I have nicer ones).

Hooray for me!

    Bookmark   October 15, 2005 at 5:49PM
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quiltglo

I've been so proud of myself for staying on top of the clothing. I must have done something, though. I can't for the life of me find the 5 year old's winter coat. Checked everywhere and since the closets are decluttered I don't see that it could be hiding. Everyone else's was all lined up and waiting to be tried on to see if they still fit. All I can think of is that it got in a bag and I didn't realized it. It either got thrown out or given away.

It's pretty cool here now, so DH picked him up another one. I figured that would bring the old coat out of hiding for sure. No such luck.

Sigh.

One last suggestion as you declutter those old clothes. Don't forget to check the pockets. When we bought this house we only had one key for it. Since we were remodeling before moving in, we didn't want to change the locks until all the workers were done. One morning, everyone is locked out and I can't find the key. We pay for emergency re-keying. Not cheap.

The house gets done enough for the workers to leave, so we re-key again. And then it snows, so Ms Airhead here grabs her winter coat and, low and behold, what's that in my pocket? I should have just thrown the thing away and not said anything since the DH is never going to let me live that one down.

Gloria

    Bookmark   October 16, 2005 at 2:17AM
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trekaren

Ahhhh the money I have found in coat pockets throughout the years!!!

I do not EVER set out to put money in coat pockets, and I'm still not really sure how it happens LOL

    Bookmark   October 16, 2005 at 8:05AM
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Julie_MI_Z5

I found a fall outfit I always loved in with the stash of lost summer clothes. Put it on for church this morning. TOO BIG! It goes in the giveaway bag.

Second choice: a stashed navy skirt and a white blouse. I had to iron the blouse. I'm not sure I like it that much.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2005 at 9:38AM
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Julie_MI_Z5

UPDATE:

The white blouse stays. It didn't wrinkle at all after I put it on.

The navy skirt goes, as do the red one and black one just like it. Almost saved the black one (it's a plain a-line skirt, perfect for summer funerals) until I decided NO! since I have other options.... LOL

    Bookmark   October 16, 2005 at 2:29PM
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beache

I'm so happy to find this thread!

Last weekend my DH was cleaning off his workbench, and I just started casually going through some of the bins of clothes I have saved down in the basement. I was saving them for many reasons: they might fit me again someday; I spent a lot of money on them; my two daughters (10 & 7) might want them someday.....etc.

I had about 12 large Rubbermaid-type bins down there--20 years of clothes. I just kept moving and by the end I got them down to 2 bins-mostly vintage and dressy clothes that my two girls might really want. I also got rid of all the 80's shoes that I was saving, and a bunch of my DH's pants that will never fit again.

All together, I brought 14 large garbage bags of stuff to the Salvation Army!!! It felt good to clean up the basement, but I have to admit, I almost threw my body across those bags as the man unloaded them! It's so hard! Some of it was really fine quality stuff and much of it was very trendy 80's and 90's stuff. It was hard for me because when I was in high school I shopped thrift stores for vintage clothes, and often when I'd bring home a find, my mom would say "I had one like that! I threw it away!" (40's and 50's stuff). I found it so frustrating! So I was hanging on to my stuff for my two girls. But ya'know what? I can't hang on to that much stuff for the next 5-10 years on the off chance that my kids will think some of it is cool when they are in high school. So I let it go. And it really does feel good.

In that formerly crowded area, We are now putting our treadmill, some weights, and a TV! And we are now both inspired to continue cleaning up that basement and pitching stuff we don't need or use. I told DH if he is willing to part with all his darkroom equipment, then I can certainly go through my stuff and see what else can go. It's hard, but it's freeing too.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2005 at 2:24PM
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alisande

Darkroom equipment, beache? I was faced with what to do with my Dad's after he died. It was a big deal for me, as I grew up in his darkroom. The realtor suggested donating it to a college with a good photography program. That's what I did. The school was delighted to get vintage black & white equipment, and I was happy to get it a good home.

Okay, I've started on the old clothes fling. They aren't all old, either...into the Salvation Army bag went the beautiful purple dress that I've tried to wear at least four times, each time concluding that it looked as though it couldn't decide between being cut on the selvage or the bias, and then putting it back on the hanger.

This does feel good!

Susan

    Bookmark   October 17, 2005 at 2:58PM
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Julie_MI_Z5

Beache and Susan, CONGRATULATIONS!

My weekend clothes purging is already at the Salvation Army. I FEEL GOOD ABOUT IT!

    Bookmark   October 17, 2005 at 5:32PM
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beache

Alisande,

DH and I used to have a darkroom in our apartment. He was always planning to build a small one in our basement because he thought the kids would really get a kick out of it. But now he realizes the digital world is here, so HE mentioned getting rid of it all! Woo Hoo! I also thought of giving it to a college photography class--maybe the one we took together in the 70's.

If we get another rainy weekend, I'll takle the rest of the basement!

    Bookmark   October 18, 2005 at 10:07AM
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