Saturday, November 09, 2013

Saving the Past

Are most scrapbookers like me? I am into history, biographies, people's lives, and on a personal level, it manifests as sentimentality and nostalgia for all things of our own history, memories and things included. Which makes for a potent combination when it comes to hoarding or keeping all sorts of things from our lives. But on a practical level, I very much want a minimalist lifestyle! I can see that all our stuff was bogging us down, it used up time and space we don't have the luxury for, we were buying extra shelves and cupboards yet things were always overflowing, and it was impossible to keep the home neat and clean without a lot of effort, not to mention not being able to find anything!

So over the last two to three years, as we entered different stages of our life (children becoming teens for example), moved homes, downsized, we decided to really cull all our things, ending with what we really need and use, and just a little of what we want to keep.

Through this process, I discovered what I could let go off, and what I still feel worthy of hanging onto. But more interestingly, I discovered what really mattered to us, how our perspective has changed over time, why certain things don't matter as much anymore in the long run.

So, what have we discarded?

A doll house I was halfway done constructing (started before I had the children, project abandoned when the boys came and were not interested in dolls). In fact, as you can see they called it a relic and used it for their transformer battles. hahaha
 All the doll house furniture I collected (given to an old friend with two daughters)
Furry friends from all our childhood, mine and dh's included. This was hard! Each of these held such memories!
The lovely dresser from my teen years which we painted and used as a nursery dresser for the boys - it lasted till about four years ago...

The boys' school projects, childish toys, memorabilia of my days training as a speech and drama teacher...

 Baby and childhood inhalers, toys and learning 'toys', blankets and all. Footnote: after the below was made, I changed my mind and saved the Mickey baby comforter set that I hand-made. It's still with me!
All of the boys' primary school artworks and projects. Layouts serve as memories!

This is a very old photo (I was pregnant with Ryan) but this is to remember all the Christmas decorations, ornaments, and even our 5 ft fake tree that has been with us more than ten years, they have all been let go. This was actually very hard (I had hand made the fake wreaths myself and some of the tree ornaments too), and as of right now we have no Christmas decor at all, I'm resisting buying again, and am thinking about how to have a minimalist Christmas. Maybe just one of these Muji wooden trees.

 All our old collections of candle sets, displays, even photo frames...

 And the box of clothing tags I saved over the last twenty years from all of our clothes. Yes, I'm crazy bag-lady-ish in that way. But it was fascinating and unbelievable to see how much just the four of us have purchased and clothed ourselves with!
Then there was all of the travel memorabilia. I only captured this picture of all our travel brochures that we have discarded, but all the rest are gone too. For the last few years we no longer buy souvenirs on our travels, instead we collect a fridge magnet from every location!

 All my craft supplies - I had cupboards full! These are just a few pictures. They went as I no longer work with them. I have digi-scrapping now! And my presents no longer come with bows, sorry folks!

The boys have been selling their old toys on eBay. Here they are photographing them for posting. They have made back more than $100 so far. Our motto to them is, if you want something, you need to get rid of something else first!

 All the christmas cards we received save a few, am still keeping our wedding cards and birthday cards though..

And what have we saved?

These were gifts from Dh to me during our earliest years, before we broke up and then got together again, so yes, these are precious!

Framed drawings by DH (he hasn't done anymore so these early ones are precious too)

All the travel memorabilia we have now - magnets from all the places we've visited over the last twenty years! Super compact souvenir central, don't you agree?

Hand-made by me toddler outfits

Each of the boys get a keepsake box where I saved some of their baby things, medals, kindergarten artwork, even primary 1 journal. Yes, they fit in one box each plus the two round hat boxes .

Books, board games, DVDs, photo albums, photo books, those toys (read - anime figurines, Lego LOTR Helm's Deep), all that we still find dear and still read or play, and can fit into these built in shelves!! 

Part of Living is Learning to Let Things Go
... as the caption on one of my layout says.

I look back at all that stuff we kept, and I understand they were important because they are a part of our history, of what makes us what we are today.

Of course, if we had the luxury of a large house with an attic where all of these could be stowed, I would have loved the idea of one day, when I'm much older, being able to have a wonderful time looking through all our keepsakes and letters and momentoes. But I think I have saved enough, my memories will survive. And ultimately what matters is stored in our hearts. (and our scrapbooks)

How about you? What do you do with all the keepsakes of your lives? Have you tried to simplify?

Project Life October

The first spread contains snapshots from my father-in-law's baptism, the best day of the year, definitely! I've completed a photobook to celebrate the occassion, 7 copies of it are on the way!
We also spent time with my mom and went out to town.
More pictures just of the boys and their daddy, I just love these moments and don't mind filling my PL with all of these photos. 
Jared had been doing these 3D modelling on his laptop (self-taught and using free program) and recently we stumbled on a professional 3D Printing shop where they were so impressed with what he did, they made a copy of his tank for him - for free! And invited him to hang out with them any time!

 I also love to add to my PL stories like this:
it was Dh's birthday, and Jared was found to have nine cavities on a recent dental visit. You have got to be kidding me!!!

Linking up at Jessica's The Mom Creative where there is lots of PL inspiration, including hers!

Beijing Layouts
I'm speeding up towards the last ten or so layouts for my Beijing album. 6 double page layouts completed this month!

Lots of amazing photos as we toured the 798 Dashnzi Art District, where a huge lot of ex-factory buildings are converted into art galleries and the whole space is dotted with outdoor sculptures, cafes, art shops, and more - a very wonderful place to visit - so unlike the rest of Beijing!!
Love the funky sculptures or installations! 
Sometimes the installations can get really weird like this one where some artist blew up a giant boulder and filmed it to simulate the Big Bang.... We love coming up with all sorts of clever interpretations of these art...
Then there is this Sony Exploration Centre where the most fun exhibit was where you sit on opposite sides of this screen and they 'amalgamate' your faces - R and his dad are definitely carbon copies! Me and J do not look so good amalgamated!
Next we spent a morning at the Capital Museum - lovely architecture and porcelains and a special exhibit of a young emperor - but the boys were not too interested.
One evening we went strolling and shopping down the area of old Beijing near the lakes, there are now funky shops and old and new mixed together - a most enjoyable walk!

I only had some blurred photos because we were on an overnight train between PingYao and Beijing - it was such fun! All four of us in a 1st class cabin with bunk beds. Very comfortable and we could lock the doors and had games and food and bonding in tight quarters!

You are welcome to download this template to create with HERE !!


  1. This is so inspiring! I have been thinking about doing this for a long time and you've given me some great ideas. And thank you for the lovely template.

    1. The first steps are the hardest, but resisting the urge to accumulate again is also challenging! :)

  2. I am impressed by all the materials things you have let go. Scrapbook layouts seem the ideal way to remember past treasures, and yours are always so beautiful!

    Thanks for the template! :)

    1. It's not so much letting go of the material things, as letting go of all the stuff that seem to make up the histories of our past, but the desire to simplify won over! Thanks Sue!

  3. You do the coolest things! Last summer we had to start the purging process as we left our home of 16 years to do church planting, preparing to move more often. It was hard at first but at the end it felt great and in fact i feel like i need to purge again. Thanks for the inspiration. Why is it that we cling so much to things of this world when truly the most valuable thing is people and that is why I love how you do such great things with your family and focus so much on the things of God. Thanks for the free template too!

    1. YOU are doing the coolest thing Rhadonda! Uprooting and moving to do church planting is just so wonderful and impressive, the Lord go before you and with you and through you! You are so right about things, people are what matters, I'm learning this everyday. Still long ways to go! :)

  4. Thank you, love all the LO and photos...

  5. I think we must be related! We get magnets from our travels, too!

    I started the 40 bags are supposed to get rid of 40 bags worth of 'stuff' in 40 days...well, I knew I couldn't do it in 40 days...and it appears that I can't do it in 1 year...but...I'm still filling up bags and decluttering. After Christmas, I'm tackling the non-digital photo bin.

    Great post! Have a wonderful week!

    1. Me too! I still have the non-digital photos to tackle - I've started twice, but it will probably take five sittings to get through them!

  6. Merci beaucoup pour le template, je vais l'utiliser.

  7. Jealous you have Helm's Deep. Do you know the funny thing is the older I get the more I am able to get rid of stuff? I have two small tubs under my bed of the things I have kept - papers, diaries, etc.

    1. It's true! As years pass, I am able to part with more keepsakes that were previously deemed non-negotiable. I guess with more years under our belts, the difference between what was truly important or memorable and what is less so becomes more apparent. You beat me! I still have four ikea boxes or papers, diaries, letters to push through!

  8. Thank you for the template!



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