Mar 14, 2012

Paper Girl

by Sharon Archer

I collect paper.  I’ve collected it for years.  An article here, an article there.  I have great mounds of it, box files of my old lecture notes, filing cabinets with suspension files groaning with interesting snippets of information.
But I'm turning over a new leaf - I’m Organising!   But this leaf turning is a slow process... and not easy.

So what prompted this latest round of Organising?

Well, I dropped my bulging folder of recipe snippets!   I'd been collecting them for a long, long... long time.  Gathering them up and then trying to find the one I'd been looking for in the first place, made me look at them - really look at them.  And I realised... it was time to cull!

From 1981, in February a collection of cakes and biscuits and in June two pages of marvellous mince recipes.  Thirty-one years ago when I liberated them from a New Idea magazine, I must have intended to try them.  But I haven't.

From 1983, in May a tear-out leaflet on prepare ahead dinner parties and in August a page on bread - I haven’t tried these either!

A wad of undated delicacies and then a leap forward to 1996 for Warming Winter Wonders and 1999 for a complete herbs special.  All untried.

I've taken stabs at disposing of some of these before but then hesitated at the last moment... after all, I might suddenly need this recipe or that one.  But that's where my new leaf comes in ... I am
actually disposing of these pages... after I've blogged about them today!

Don't get me wrong, I'm sure they're all fabulous recipes but if I haven't got around to trying them out some time in the last ten to thirty years then the chances are, I'm not going to!

So now, they're gone into the recycling.  It’s just a tiny step... I have knitting patterns in another drawer... and gardening snippets somewhere else.  But this recipe clear-out is a good start, don’t you think?!

So what about you? 
Are you a hoarder?
Do you fight it or embrace it?
Do you have rules to keep it from turning into clutter? 
Any tips to share?


  1. My mum has a folder of recipes from magazines etc... so do I... ever used? Ummm, no! hahahaa, now my daughter has one too! The tradition lives on.

  2. Sharon, what a fun post. I thought it was going to be about your stationery lurve! As you know, we both adore a visit to Officeworks! I used to cut out recipes. Don't anymore. I never cooked any of them!

  3. LOL, Tash! We can't seen to help it! And I'm sure I won't stop collecting... though I'm going to try. But then... there was a gorgeous sounding flourless chocolate cake in the paper the other week...

  4. Anna! YES! Officeworks! A happy place for us stationery-philes! LOL

    What was your tipping point with the recipes - how did you actually decide to stop collecting? I mean I don't cook any of them either but I can't seem to rid myself of that little voice in my head that says "but I might cook this, one day..."

  5. Actually living in that little flat in Sydney taught me the evils of hoarding. Sadly, the virus has resurfaced since I've moved to the Sunshine Coast and I have cupboards to fill. Evol, evol cupboards!

  6. Ah, yes! Now I understand, Anna! Have room - will collect STUFF to fill it! A BIG problem for us after 14 years living where we are - a house, attached flat, outhouse, a large shed and six stables (and no horses any more) all ready to be filled with STUFF!

    ARGH! LOL!

  7. Okay, am waiting for the tips to come pouring in because I'm a old recipe-tearer-outer from way back too, Sharon. I have a whole pile in a folder that I can hardly close and some of them have become old favourites that I use often.

    I was thinking of trying to sort through them and writing my faves up in a hardcover notebook (or glueing them in). But what to do with the rest? I mean, cooking is fun...and who knows when I'll want a recipe for scotch eggs, soda bread or chocolate bread pudding?

  8. I'm another recipe hoarder from magazines and papers. And I have some that my grandmother had clipped from newspapers even older than your 1981 treasures, though I can't tell you how old because I'd have to find them in the pile!

    Thing is, like Michelle, I occasionally cook one, which means I can never take the risk of throwing any out! Who knows which one I'll cook next. Argh!

    What I need is more organisation and sorting into folders so they're easier to find. I did that many years ago when the collection was smaller but it needs doing again. One day...

  9. Oh the angst! The minute I throw something out I need it - usually within a day or two...

    I come from a family of hoarders so I learnt the skill young. Recipes, letters, cards and magazines. GW has been known to liberate magazines by taking pristine conditions sets to the local op shop when I'm away at work. Invariably I go looking for an article and then discover what's happened - by then it's too late to retrieve them.

    We tried to implement a policy of something new comes in the door, something old has to go out but even that's fallen in a heap recently. We're planning to move aboard a catamaran in the next year and I'm going to need therapy when I have to part with all my hoardings...

  10. I love collecting recipes and I have a book of them too, but I do try to cull every now and then. My new trick is to use Pinterest for bookmarking recipes I find online -- not only can you have boards to group recipes together, the photos make for fun browsing! I'm also finding it takes up less space and attracts fewer silverfish... ;)

  11. I do have a couple fo recipes that I use and re-use and re-use, too, Michelle. But then there are all those others that just don't earn the space they've taken up for years. I'm trying to change my approach now and actually "try" the recipes to see if we like them. The BBQ'd ribs recipe last month wasn't all that startling - so recipe disposed of! Woohoo!

    Your hardcover notebook sounds like a good idea... though I do find with lovely hardcovered notebooks that I want to make it special - you know, the writing super neat and pretty pictures and... well, it kind of means I spend lots of time procrastinating in case I find a nicer way to present stuff! Oh, dear, there's probably some very Freudian slips in here!

  12. Oh, Rachel! Can you feel me glowing a gentle green?! You must have some real VINTAGE treasures if you've inherited your grandmother's recipe snippings!

    Check on the folders to sort! And I do think my new system of trying the recipe before it earns its place has merit... though the question is; will I keep it up!?

  13. Wow, Helene! Your catamaran adventure will be absolutely AMAZING! And my word, you'd better get ruthless with your hoarding!

    When we travelled around on the motorbike for 4 months, I was amazed with how little we could manage with... though wo did always have home-base full of our hoarded goodies. Are you keeping home-base or are you weighing anchor completely?

    LOL on GW liberating your wonderful magazines - tell him to bewar, least you "help" him with his "stuff". It's always easy to be ruthless when it's not your precious! I know I could do an AWESOME job of cleaning up Glenn's shed!

  14. LOL on the silverfish, Emmie! I didn't mention the scurryings from my scattered pile of recipe clippings!

    You know I'll need to investigate Pinterest now... you could be responsible for a new vice - cyber-hoarding! ;)

  15. LOL, cyber-hoarding! I love it!

  16. Hi Sharon. Other than my vast collection of pets - eight horses, three dogs, three birds and a house cow named Ginger, I have a compulsion to collect pink depression glass. I have a cabinet full and still love finding new pieces.
    I have had grand plans in the past to store recipes, but they usually end up getting tossed when I do my yearly throw out. Now I just google a recipe when I need it.
    Great post :)

  17. I don't have enough space or storage to be a hoarder. Each year leading up to Christmas I go though every cupboard in the house, cleaning, tidying & culling.

  18. Helen, I went and Google pink Depression glass - collecting it is very popular apparently! It's very pretty and so much nicer to hoard than paper!

  19. Marybelle, you and Helen have a yearly clean out! I am so impressed! Maybe that's something I need to aim for - regular culling so it doesn't turn into an overwhelming task!

  20. my mom had so many recipe and love cooking, but i never and dont really cooking ;(

  21. Oh Sharon, you hit a chord. I'm a hoarder. I married a hoarder. Our kids have inherited that, though I notice my daughter, moving around while at university, is getting quite ruthless at chucking stuff out.

    Yes! I've got old recipes but they're pasted in. Several years ago I got sick enough to spend time in bed and as I recuperated I finally got energy do do something sitting up - going through the recipes and tossing out a lot. Still have many, many old ones and still didn't find the amazing chocolate mousse recipe with cointreau I used to make. Sigh. The number of acquired recipes is accumulating again and I'll have to be strong to resist the lure. I used to snip them from the 'New Idea' too. I wonder if we share some of the same ones,

  22. Hi Eli! The recipe-collecting gene passed you by so your kitchen shelf must be wonderfully uncluttered! Do you have the odd favourite dish that you don't mind cooking or do you prefer to eat out?

  23. Hi Annie! LOL on that chord! There's a very good chance that some of the same recipes from New Idea have passed over our kitchen benches! Handy that you could use that recuperation time to organise your recipes - but I don't want you to do anything so you need any more recuperation time, okay! :)

    Mmmm, chocolate mousse with cointreau - now that sounds divine!

  24. I don't hoard recipes but my husband does. We have a huge collection of cookbooks and a huge pile of cut out recipes. Nowadays he gets cookbooks from the library and looks online for recipes. He does have a recipe file on the computer which grows every week. We do have a lot of favorites which we never seem to have enough time to use as often as we would like because there is always something new in the to be tried pile.

  25. Yay for the culling!! It's hard, I know, but I'm getting better at it too.
    My mother gave me an organ like 10 tens ago. It blew up when we moved it here. Got it fixed. Blew up again almost straight away. It's sat in that corner of my living room all that time. My mum didn't want it back. I didn't want it either!! Finally my sister just a month ago helped me shift it outside. Next stop the dump. Should have done it so much sooner!

  26. 10 tens ago???
    And I thought I'd checked it twice LOL

  27. Kaelee - a man who hoards recipes? I hope that translates into a man who does the cooking?! If that's the case, don't let him get away!


  28. Oh, well done on getting rid of the organ, Robyn! I think it can be hard to part with things when they've been given to you. But if it doesn't work and you don't want it and it's taking up room then I think you've done the right thing! Yay for your sister coming to help you do the deed!

    LOL on your "10 ten ago"! The eye really does glide over the most inconvenient things at times - and naturally, as soon as it pops up as an actual COMMENT, it sticks out like a sore toe!!

  29. Sharon - I remember this about you in our retreat in Tasmania last year. You pored over those ye-olde magazines like they were spun of gold. Though I'm happy to say you didn't 'liberate' anything that time (as far as I'm aware!).

    Could I suggest scanning and filing everything? The paper won't perish, the print won't fade and you only need a space as big as a CDROM to keep everything on. You can become a virtual hoarder.

    I'm not a hoarder but I live with one and it's awful. There's not a spare room in my house (or garage or shed) that I can get to. Yet he can't see it and can't see the need for fixing. It's like people with body-image disorders can't see what they truly look like, horders can't see what their cluttered spaces truly look like. Anything you can do to reduce the 'publicness' would be a kindness for your gorgeous DH.

    But the collector in me does also understand you can't just throw them out. Not after all that emotional investment.

    Scan. File. Save.

    It will change your life.