STUFFology 101 Get Your Mind Out of the Clutter book by Brenda Avadian MA Eric Riddle

STUFFology 101 Two Year Anniversary Giveaway!

Our baby girl, STUFFology 101: Get Your Mind Out of the Clutter will be two years old, today!

STUFFology 101 book - Get Your Mind out of the Clutter

Our Special Anniversary Amazon Giveaway promotion begins now and runs through April 12th. NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. This STUFFology 101 Two-Year Anniversary Giveaway ends the earlier of 4/12/15 11:59PM, or when all prizes are claimed. See Official Rules. The official rules for Amazon Giveaway can be found at

Help us celebrate and enter for your chance to win a FREE Kindle copy of STUFFology 101: Get Your Mind Out of the Clutter!

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ENCORE of an Unexpected Gift – A Deep-Fried Thanksgiving

Turkey Deep Fryer for an Unexpected Gift


ENCORE of an UNEXPECTED GIFT – A Deep-Fried Thanksgiving

When one of our possessions is not used, over time it distracts us and creates a feeling of clutter. When curiosity got the better of me and I just had to try a deep fried turkey, Eric let me use it and four families gathered to ENJOY a FUN ADVENTURE.

This unexpected gift inspired Eric and I to write the following poem:

It’s on clearance, what a deal!
A turkey deep fryer to cook our Thanksgiving meal.

Just season to taste with spices and such
A pinch here and there, not too much.
But it says some assembly required
How to do it? I’m too tired.
Years go by and it sits on the shelf
Taunting me like an underutilized elf
Waiting to be used for the big holiday feast
Bothering my wife not in the least.
We should use it when the family’s in town
But it’s still not assembled, I feel so down.

Brenda asks how a deep fried turkey might cook
I’m eager to try it, let’s have a look.
She says, “I have a smoker to offer in trade
For your turkey deep fryer unused for a decade
“No, the fryer is mine.”
“But if you wanna use it, I guess that’s fine.”
Plans are made to break it in right
With special oil and a bird that won’t fight.
The big day draws near, how will it go?
Without some experience, there is no way to know.

Family and friends arrive to see
How a Thanksgiving bird is cooked for free.
The oil is hot, ready at last
Keep the temperature steady to cook it fast.
Anticipation and laughter fill the air
As we wait anxiously for our Thanksgiving fare.
The turkey is cooked and ready to eat.
The glorious meal is crispy and neat.
Making for a mouth-watering display
A great way to spend Thanksgiving Day!

We invite you to view the one-minute YouTube video clips of HOW TO Safely Prepare and ENJOY A Deep Fried Turkey from START to FINISH.


Harald Krueger Parody of STUFFology 101 Cluttergories

Throw it Out or Keep it All?

Harald Krueger Parody of STUFFology 101 CluttergoriesRetired psychiatrist and fellow Toastmaster, Harald Krueger leaves us on tenterhooks with his parody of STUFFology 101.

He says, “Throw it out. Throw it all out!”

But does he really mean it?

See for yourself as he rips through each of the cluttergories – physical, mental, digital, temporal, and sensual.

It’s just too funny to resist. He even breaks into song!

This video of Harald’s presentation was taken with a smartphone during a Thursday evening High Desert Toastmasters club meeting at Robertson’s Honda in Palmdale.

I hope he feels better now that he got this off his chest.

I think he wants to keep it all!

We’ll definitely find out when we invite him to speak at our next community event.

Thank YOU, Harald!

If the video does not play below, click on this link:


STUFFology 101 REVIEW – The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up  Marie KondoMarie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up takes a Samurai’s approach to ridding ourselves of physical clutter.

Written before the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake in Japan her book was released just in time to fill an urgent need of thousands of displaced families in Japan who needed to decide what to keep and what to let go.

Since then it has topped the bestseller list.

Rarely one to join the bandwagon, something drew me to this little hardcover English translation of Kondo’s book. As I read the pages, one incessant question wouldn’t go away: Who is this woman?

Who is Marie Kondo?

Very little has been published beyond the same biographical information rehashed in the media including the major media. Usually, one can find enough information online to satiate one’s curiosity; but Kondo is holding onto her privacy like Ft. Knox.

If you were going to undertake a drastic life shift by ridding yourself of mementos and even family pics, you’d want to be assured that the person advising you has a lifetime of knowledge grounded in research. What are her credentials? The best I could find is a kindergartener who loved to tidy up and a quarter century later, at age thirty, married, without children, advises us to rid ourselves of anything that doesn’t “spark joy.”

What if Kondo has children and later discovers a need to hold onto her children’s treasures? What will be her advice to those parents who hopped on the KonMari bandwagon to rid themselves of these possessions?

As a reader and STUFFologist, I am raising the red flag. Buyer beware of following a young lady who felt alone as a child and felt comforted by breathing life into her possessions. Today, due to timing and the forces of marketing (remember, the pet rock craze?), she’s a 2-million copy best-selling author without clear credentials.

What Works

Still, I do agree with a number of her ideas.

  1. Put things back where they belong.
  2. Take care of your things and they’ll take care of you.
  3. Fold and/or roll socks without folding over and stretching out the cuffs.
  4. Fold underwear compactly in threes.
  5. Fold and store each item vertically like books on a bookshelf, and not stacked atop one another where you’ll forget what’s at the bottom.

I do not agree with her self-admitted impatience. Although, that’s just me. I tend to be patient in our world hungry for instant fixes.

I do like organizing my clothes in my drawers and Kondo’s technique appeals to me. However, I do not agree with her technique of folding T-shirts. I’m rather meticulous in my approach and as many times as I tried, I could not find the wrinkle-free sweet spot for my cotton shirts made in the U.S.A., Vietnam, China, Nicaragua, or Jordan. Admittedly, I don’t have any made in Japan, while Kondo does.

I did apply her “Does this spark joy?” criteria to one third of the books on one of my bookshelves. IT WORKED. Yet, those that didn’t spark joy remain in a pile on the floor in front of the bookshelf with a space remaining where they once more. Now, I must take care not to stub my toe on the stack on the floor below.

Our Need for Quick Fixes

We’re a society who wants quick fixes. We want success, now. We lack patience. Kondo advises completing our decluttering in one major effort until something clicks and you’ll never have to do it again.

I’m not sure Kondo’s quick-fix click is a lifetime fix. Kondo admits to being impatient—needing it done right now. But just as eating fast food frequently results in poor health and crash diets are following by even greater weight gain, crash decluttering may result in long-term regrets. In fact, it may create an even greater problem, such as hoarding for fear of future loss.

What we need is patience and mindful accumulating of the things we need. In these ways, we develop life-changing habits for the long haul. I’m under the impression Kondo’s obsession with tidiness is due to her desire to shop and bring things into her space to feel good. Now, a walk in nature. Ahhh that feels good.



It’s Our Third Anniversary and We Finally Sign a Post-Nup

For nearly three years, Eric and I had been working together without nuptials on S.T.U.F.F.

“What,” you ask? “You’re not even married.”

Weeeaaaall, in a way we are.

You see when you commit to work with someone, it becomes like a marriage.

Three years ago, we made the commitment to collaborate on writing a book about decluttering. We felt like book spouses, marrying our ideas together during weekends as our vision for the book took shape. And just like the newlywed phase passes, we too had differences. Despite our disagreements, we remained committed to seeing the birth of our baby (book).STUFFology 101 Get Your Mind Out of the Clutter book  Avadian + Riddle

STUFFology 101: Get Your Mind Out of the Clutter was conceived early July 2012. She took nearly two years to be born. Like most parents, we felt PROUD and JOY at her birth on April 1, 2014.

Yes, that was April Fool’s Day. We believe it’s best not to take ourselves too seriously. We also felt relief: No more labor pains! Ask Eric about indexing.

We knew she would be a FUN child so we launched her into the world with a FUN party.

She’s 14 months old now and remains a FUN child.

Since then, STUFFology 101  was released as an eBook, and later seeing her influence spread (worldwide English Audio rights sold) and recently Korean Language rights, we’re happy to see her make a path in this big world of ours where many ideas are shared.

Eric Riddle and Brenda Avadian sign their post nup agreementTo ensure we progress according to our initial vision and that should something happen to either or both of us that our “heirs and assigns” will be confident in carrying out our wishes, we retained a Los Angeles-based Intellectual Property attorney to draft our post-nup.

To think, how many partners can agree to a pre-nup much less a post-nup. But this ability to see eye-to-eye is how Eric and I started working together in the first place. We agree on most things–the important ones being integrity and a stable with both-feet-on-the-ground approach to our business and marketing decisions.

We also believe in keeping lines of communication as open as humanly possible. Some days (weeks?) it’s harder than others, but we’ve managed to reach our third anniversary.

When I reflect on it, it’s almost like following our apronym S.T.U.F.F. Instead of letting go, we let in and developed our ideas until we created a book.

We simply got Started.

We Trusted the process.

We Understood how each step builds upon the next.

Sometimes we struggled, but we maintained Focus on each area.

And eventually, we Finished.


How to be clutter free

The dog days of summer are nearly upon us; Graduations, Father’s Day, vacations, and maybe a project or two. What is on your to do list? May I suggest picking a spot to de-clutter?

In STUFFology 101: Get Your Mind Out of the Clutter we said, “The stuff we think we’ll need some day often gets in the way – and this is what we call clutter.” It is the physical clutter that I want you to think about for your de-cluttering project.

Since you define your own clutter, pick an area that would make you feel better if it was clutter free. Many items are available to you to clean and organize that area in a method that suits you personally. A quick trip to Home Depot illustrates the many options to choose from. How-to-be-clutter-free_De-Clutter_bins_2015 - R

I favor plastic storage bins because they resist water and critters better than cardboard, and come in many shapes and sizes. They can also be stacked neatly in a closet or used in conjunction with utility shelving in the garage.

Decide which will work best for your situation before purchasing something just because it is on sale or looks good at the store. Once you have what you need for your project, put some serious thought in what you want to keep, toss, or donate. Putting everything in bins on shelving in the garage is not necessarily de-cluttering your living space.

Out of sight and out of mind in the house is just moving clutter to the garage in plastic bins. Do not do this! Rather, keep what is important to you in the bins, and donate what is not. Be as ruthless as you can be with yourself. You may be surprised at how easy it is once you get started.

How-to-be-clutter-free_De-Clutter_shelves_2015 - RFinish a specific area of clutter before moving on to the next. This process should make you feel lighter as you complete each, momentum is a good thing. A quick review of S.T.U.F.F. may help.

I suggest working in 30-90 minute increments so you can complete a given area versus trying to do the whole house in one day. De-cluttering is a process, not an event. If you don’t feel like you are making meaningful progress it will not get done. Who wants that kind of frustration?

Take before and after photos to record your success; maybe even send us a note and picture to to share with others. Sometimes seeing how other folks do things can inspire us to take action with our own clutter.

Summertime presents us with the opportunity to consider the physical clutter in our living space. Use the storage solutions available at your local retailer to de-clutter just one area TODAY.


STUFFology 101 Review – Frugal Simplicity: 99 Ways to Declutter, Save Money & Simplify Your Life

Frugal Simplicity: 99 Ways to Declutter, Save Money & Simplify Your Life offers more than just tips on how to deal with the clutter in your life. Author Sally Thomas talks about multiple issues that may be preventing you from living your life simply. A look at the Table of Contents shows these include mindset, decluttering & living with less, frugality & money, and getting more out of life.

Her 99 ways are broken down by sections in the book. Each section incorporates tasks for the reader to complete before moving forward. The section on mindset offers a quick overview of why it (your own mindset) is important to the decluttering process.

The second section formally begins the 99 ways to simplify with “declutter and live with less”. I appreciated these tips because they are easy to understand and follow. Some are common sense, but she took the time to assemble them in an organized fashion. These tips deal with different areas of the house that tend to accumulate clutter as well as her thoughts about the mechanics of decluttering in general. Frugal Simplicity Book Cover

In the third section the author highlights 42 different ways to save money, which fit well with the broad topic of the book, simplicity. The advice in this section reminded me of things our parents may have done and took for granted; her list provides a gentle reminder for the next generation.

The fourth section concludes her 99 ways to simplify under the heading of “simplify & get more out of life”. I liked this section because the tips made me think a little deeper about how I prioritize my day. Simple advice is often clear on paper but not necessarily easy to follow because of our hectic lives. The book also contains a bonus section, but I won’t spoil the surprise!

In STUFFology 101: Get Your Mind Out of the Clutter we focus on fun and flexible approaches to get your mind out of what you define as clutter. Frugal Simplicity: 99 Ways to Declutter, Save Money & Simplify Your Life is a bit broader in scope, but still a quick read full of actionable advice. If you want to declutter and simplify your life it is well worth your time.


What STUFF means

What does our STUFF mean?

Better yet, what does our STUFF say about us?

Throughout our lives, we accumulate STUFF for diverse reasons.

We aspire to make a statement.

Years ago, while I lived in Wisconsin, an Indiana-based consultant asked me why I don’t wear a Rolex watch. I told him my Seiko works just fine. He advised me that a Rolex would help create an image of success. I reminded him of the irony that he had driven four hours in his Mercedes sporting his Rolex, because he needed my advice.

We acquire a unique item while on travel.

Coke Bottle from Armenia and The Wooden Spoon 5 - webWhile in Armenia, I brought home a bottle of Coke with Armenian lettering.

Take a moment, right now to recall something you acquired within the last week or two.

What was it and why?

I bought a pair of crop pants on sale at Costco. Why? They were a compromise between too-short shorts and pants. I’ll just roll up the legs to just above my knees and they’ll be perfect.

Then we hold onto the STUFF we acquired.

We hold onto a reminder of a loved one.

I still hold onto The Wooden Spoon. If you haven’t yet, read the story in STUFFology 101.

We think we’ll need it, later.

We paid a lot for the item and can’t justify letting go of it.

Yep, these are some of the reasons we accumulate clutter.

Long after the reason for acquiring an item has passed, we’re still holding on.

What’s with that?

Oh, I’m not criticizing. I do it too!

As a STUFFologist, I make it my business to define my own clutter, but it takes time to get rid of STUFF.

Deciding what we hold onto defines who we are. Our STUFF makes statements about how we see ourselves.

WOAH, you say! Not all my stuff!

I agree.

Over time, we try to find containers to store the stuff that we don’t need, right now.

And even though it’s out of sight, we remain tethered to our Stuff.

I still have recordings and videos from over a decade and a half ago when my husband and I taped my father while he lived with dementia. He couldn’t make sense of his image on TV and insisted we call the station manager because there was a guy that looked just like him on TV. I thought about making a video to help people understand what it’s like living with dementia. Enough time has passed. There are far better videos available, today.

I am ready to let go.

Nooo, you say. You can get them converted by a service!

Again, retrieving all the videos and audio recordings and then determining which items to convert, takes time. However, it bears mentioning, we don’t have to reduce ourselves to an all-or-nothing choice. I may choose to preserve at least one of those memories.

Still, I don’t want to live through another Station Fire to be forced into rush decisions about what I keep and what I let go.

An earthquake? A fire? A flood?

I am letting go of things now, so I don’t leave others with the burden of getting rid of my STUFF.

I Start by defining the clutter in an area, Trust in the process, Understand the cyclical nature of clutter, Focus for a time, and Finish getting rid of my S.T.U.F.F. in that area.

These mini successes encourage me to keep going whether it’s getting through emails, a pile of magazines, books, paperwork, and more. I think of Queen’s refrain: I want to break free. It’s not easy, but if we keep at it, we will break free of clutter.

The older I grow, the less STUFF means to me.


Cut Through the Clutter

What unexpected gifts will unveil themselves to you when you cut through the clutter?

In STUFFology 101: Get Your Mind Out of the Clutter, we discuss the five categories of clutter, which we call cluttergories. They are physical, mental, digital, temporal and sensual. Clutter has an ebb and flow to it, just like life. How we define our clutter may change.

Recently my Dad has been making improvements to his home, discovering areas of clutter in the process. One hall closet in particular had several shoe boxes full of old pictures (remember the print kind?) that were stored at random. My daughter Maggie volunteered to sort them out and organize them for my Dad so the whole family could enjoy them.

We took all the boxes home for easier sorting, and to help cut through the clutter at my Dad’s house! My first unexpected gift came shortly thereafter. As Maggie went through each box of pictures she would stop to ask who or what was in a given photo. It is amazing what memories (my unexpected gift) came into focus as I answered her questions. Of course there were questions that neither I nor my wife could answer about certain photos. That’s not a problem because a sticky note to mark that photo will do the trick short term. Maybe my Dad can provide the answers.  Unexpected-Gifts_Cut-Through-the-Clutter_05272015 - Copy

His pictures are now neatly organized in new photo boxes. As he looks through them in the future he will enjoy a pleasant stroll down memory lane, an unexpected gift worth giving.

Maggie was inspired to review and sort the family photos at our house as a result of this project. Fortunately my wife keeps them in pretty good order already. This is when I received my second unexpected gift. The photos triggered pleasant memories for sure, but also motivated me to take action.

Looking at my skinnier self from years ago, coupled with some good-natured teasing from my daughter, motivated me to lose weight. Getting back in shape is something I have been working at half-heartedly for most of this year, with limited success. Pictures tell a tale that is difficult to ignore.

The physical clutter of printed pictures has motivated me to get in better physical shape. What cluttergories are impacting your life?  Cut through that clutter to unveil an unexpected gift that is unique to you.


Tug of war with Magic Question 1

“I’m cheap,” said my friend as she pulled the empty bottle of shampoo out of the trash. “I can get another two shampoos out of this.”

“No you’re not,” I replied. “You’re ecologically minded. You’re green!” I added.

She smiled, unbelievingly.

Raised by Depression-era parents, she also saved everything. You never know when you’ll need it.

From time to time, I also have a tug-of-war when letting go.

Do I save something to use in another way or do I let it go to keep clutter at bay?

For years, I’ve saved a little jar of night cream. I let go of a smaller travel-sized version with no regrets, but I’ve held onto this larger-sized one. What if I might like to use it for something else? Unlike my friend, I do try to be ecologically minded.

The tug-of-war begins when I consider The Station Fire of 2009.

Would this be one of the items I’d take with me when we evacuate?


In a similar vein, Magic Question 1 is: Will I take time to acquire this item again if I lost it in a disaster?


As I write this, I’m struggling to reach the rest of the lotion from the bottom of a large-sized pump bottle. I could let the remaining lotion pour into this little jar! Oh, but I need to clean it, first.

This begs the question: When is enough ENOUGH?

Do the resources spent—water, soap, and my time—outweigh any benefit to saving it?


My friend gave me an idea, which I shared with my husband. Today, we add we add a little water to a near-empty bottle of shampoo and manage a few extra uses. That’s not being cheap, that’s being GREEN!

Little jar of cream tossed in trashI tossed the jar of night cream.

Instead, I’ll simply tilt the bottle with a piece of foil covering the top until I use the last of the lotion.

It may seem incidental to focus on one little jar of cream, but as you know if you finished reading STUFFology 101, mass attracts mass. Even one sheet of paper can soon grow into an overwhelming pile.

So, I ask you: What’s the “little jar” you need to let go in your life?

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