What A 3-Layer Cake Taught Me About Decluttering and Special Moments

What This Cake Taught Me About Decluttering and Special Moments

For starters, lets just put it out there.

I am an (undiagnosed) 42 year old mom with ADD, OCD and hoarding tendencies.  A crazy combination, let me tell ya.  I thrive on being involved in lots of stuff, and I am already planning new things before that “stuff” is even finished.  Sound familiar?  I am one of those people who could have a five bedroom house with three projects in progress in every room (and 100 more stacked in another).  Of course, these projects would be spread ALL over the room and take days and days to finish because they would need to be perfect while the rest of my house fell apart and I had a nervous breakdown, over the mess and stress.  I would still be planning my next project.  I swear, my brain never shuts down.

I love to recycle and “buy” things because they are cheap or free.  Yard sales, clearance, thrift stores, estate sales, these are my nemesis.  I bring tons of things home for “future projects” that I end up just moving around and reorganizing 100x.  Can I get an amen from anyone like me?

This past December I became very sick.  More than my usual challenges I could barely stand up, walk and breathe without severe pain or struggling for breath.  Then a routine exam showed a mass in my right breast and we decided to have a precautionary biopsy.

Being that I have ADD, the idea of being off my feet for even longer did not appeal to me, at allI mean, come on!  I am a person who multitasks while watching television, always.

I prayed about the situation, and the fact I didn’t want my husband to do more than he already does.  He is truly wonderful…fixing dinner when I can’t, running errands, shopping with coupons, helping with housework and more.  But then, I realized I could reduce the stress on him and me by reducing my “projects and plans”.  I didn’t decorate for the holidays like I used to.  We didn’t go to family Christmas or have a fancy meal, instead we just enjoyed our time together (on the sofa, with naps).

As we prepared for my biopsy, I knew I would be unable to use my arms for several days, and possibly weeks after.

Note:  The first mammogram caused my shoulder to sublux and be non-supportive for days.  I knew the biopsy would take even longer and likely to cause more damage and a possible complete dislocation.  (Thankfully, it didn’t because the staff were aware of what happened the first time, then read up on my illness and took every precaution to make the procedure as non-damaging as possible.)

But I pre-planned my December and January accordingly.  Which means I planned absolutely NO projects.  Yep, that’s right, no projects.  Not in my kitchen, not in my bedroom, not in my garage, not in my basement.  Instead we started spending time together as a family and began eliminating “stuff” from our home and lives, so that on surgery day and during my healing time my home was clean, uncluttered and free of stress.

Know what?

I enjoyed it!

My family enjoyed it!

My house enjoyed it!

This little break led me to create my goals in 2016 to include living simple- not starting projects, not buying anything for future projects, consciously removing and not adding clutter.

Hey, I may never live in a tiny house, but I am certainly improving.

This led to the 3 layer cake incident that brought me to tears last week.

January has been sooooo peaceful.  Even though I am really struggling with some complications from my Hypermobility Ehlers Danlos Syndrome and it’s side effects January has been almost completely STRESS FREE!

Hubby has been coming home to a clean, peaceful house and family each night.  Laundry is done each day.  Dishes are done each day and night.  Counters are clean and empty all the time.  The clutter is all put away and slowly leaving out house.  (Just Make Do January helped with this quite a bit.)  EVERYONE in our home is happier.

What does this have to do with a three layer chocolate cake?


This past week I was sharing with the Declutterathon Facebook Group that Emily @ My Love For Words offers that I had almost taken two/thirds of my large “carry and serve” dishes to the local consignment shop.  Some of those dishes have never been used.  You know the ones.  They are awkward, don’t stack well, get used maybe 2x a year, if that, and simply take up a ton of space.

I mean.  Yes, I like the idea of cooking and going places, but around here it simply does.not.happen.

A perfect example is this tall, orange and white Tupperware cake carrier that has never been used, but is in excellent condition.  It is now stored in the garage with all the other large, hard to store, seldom never used items I haven’t tackled for decluttering yet.

My daughter has asked me at least once a month for years to make a three layer cake, but I have always told her No, without fail.


Because baking a three layer cake takes time.  It takes special tools and special storage, and I didn’t know where any of them were in our cluttered closets and cabinets.  Because baking a cake and cleaning up all the dishes seemed like too large a task, in addition to the cluttered counter, sink full of dishes and table full of projects and papers.

Why did I say yes this time?

Because my home was not a disaster.  I didn’t have a counter or island full of “stuff” and papers.  We could reach the supplies easily, and I knew exactly where they were.  The dishes we caught up and the multiple mixing bowls and baking pans could go directly in the dishwasher.  (We made homemade chocolate icing, too.)  Note:  This means there were tons of dirty dishes in our tiny kitchen.

As I looked at this three layer chocolate cake, heard the laughter in my family’s voice and saw the joy on my daughter’s face, I knew right then and there, that all the de-cluttering and slowing down was worth it.

No craft project, shopping trip, organizing project or “great deal” was worth losing time with my kids.  I only wish it had hit home with such force when they were younger.  I lost so many years trying to chase “things and deals” that I missed out on “moments.  Moments I could have spent baking a cake, creating a puzzle or just hanging with my kids.

But now, I can say YES!

Yes, to family time and trying new recipes.

Yes, to my children’s laughter and joy as we drop an egg on the floor or fling icing on the walls because we accidentally turned the mixer on super speed before the batter was thick enough.  Yes, it happens.  All.the.time.


Yes, to moments that mean more than “stuff” or projects ever could.

And all because I said YES to a three layer chocolate cake that.I.can’t.even.eat.



What is standing in the way of you saying yes to those important moments?

Please don’t be like me and wait until they are old enough to move out, to realize what you missed.  Take action now and begin saying YES.

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  • By Leah, February 11, 2016 @ 11:22 am

    What a great post, Tina. I definitely feel you (it was as if you were describing me in those first two paragraphs!). I really need to stop buying quilting supplies. I have enough supplies for about 10 quilts in my craft room… Probably enough for the next 10 years. I am really trying to be more intentional about spending playtime with my toddler, instead of always carting him around the house as I attempt to ‘get things done.’ I’m a work in progress, but this is a good reminder to savor the down time (or create down time when we feel it doesn’t exist). And to make cake!

  • By Kali, May 20, 2016 @ 10:46 am

    Tina, I love that you shared how much you are enjoying the “moments” you now have time for. I love those moments that add up to be the greatest memories.

  • By Betty, June 1, 2016 @ 5:47 am

    Good for you. Thanks for sharing this. I am in a process of constantly being aware to declutter and not let things pile up. It was a process and I am still working on it.

  • By Tina Miller, June 1, 2016 @ 11:40 am

    We are too. Each year I feel as though I am getting a much better handle on what it means. I don’t know that it ever ends but I do believe it becomes easier with practice.

    Thank you for stopping by.

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