The SISO Method for Life Management

As part of my ongoing plan to NOT turn into my mother when I get old—well, this is really only about certain aspects of turning into her since her voice already comes out of my mouth and I’ve been known to say “six of one, half a dozen of the other”—I try to apply the SISO method to purchases.

Stuff In, Stuff Out, that is.

This picture illustrates a bit of that. We’ve “invested” (ha!) in cheap dishware for far too long. It chips, it cracks, it breaks outright, and the dinner plates for the most recent set don’t even fit in the dishwasher, necessitating a lot of hand washing. I also bought a set of deliberately-even-cheaper plastic dishes for use on the patio--as if anyone would ever remember to use those instead of the breakable set.

I’ve always liked Fiestaware and decided to start buying it as an investment in better quality and products made in the US. Not shopping for it like one of those people who tramples others in search of the matching serving bowl, mind you—just having fun poking around antique stores and picking up a plate or a bowl here and there.

I figured this would take a while but we could put up with the cheap stuff (it disappears a little bit at a time anyway) as we built up a cupboard full of colorful fun.

Last weekend I lucked into a batch that nearly makes up six full settings (thanks, Vintage Rabbit, for being such an awesome source!). Eldest Daughter helped me haul our stash out to the car.

When we got it home I faced the test: Would I keep all those other dishes or make a clean sweep of it?

Before the SISO days, I would have justified keeping an entire second set of dishes I didn’t even like stored in the basement “in case we entertain.”

Never mind that the last time I did a sit-down dinner for over a dozen people who would care about matching dishes I had a different husband and still ate meat (that was some prime rib I cooked, too—I still refer to that particular meal as The Day I Did The Full Martha). But no more.

Instead I boxed them all up for Goodwill. I did stash the really giganto plates and the “gold” (plastic) chargers in the basement because I didn't score any giganto Fiestaware yet; if I haven’t used them in six months out they go.

How is any of this being “not my mom”? It all goes back to the weekends I spent sorting through their house preparing for the estate sale before we moved them to assisted living for Mom’s dementia.

I swore then to end my “just in case we’ll need it someday” approach to deciding what stays and what goes. A lifetime of that and they’ll be digging your corpse out from under a mound of empty yogurt containers and peanut butter jars, to say nothing of magazines saved because there was that one recipe you really meant to try one of these days when you had fresh cilantro on hand, or was it fennel bulb?

At any rate, I’m trying to use the SISO method not just on housewares but on my closet, my bathroom, and other places where things tend to accumulate and then multiply in the dark.

If my white sleeveless shell—one of those closet basics they tell you to invest in and They Are Right On This One—is getting ratty around the arms and I buy a replacement then I have to get rid of the first one. No keeping it for back-up. It’s ratty, remember? You replaced it, right?

If I own two pairs of tan capris—one pair dressier than the other so yes there’s a reason I have two pair (pairs?)—then I resist the urge to buy a pair of tan capris with faint cream stripes (different, right? Not duplicative of the other two pair, right?) on sale for 50% off at Bobby’s Boutique which carries the best of the Goodwill best meaning I could have had those babies for $4 instead of $8 and even Eldest Daughter the Uber-Mom-That-Makes-You-Look-Old-Clothing-Critic thought they looked good on me breathe baby breathe it’s okay you don’t need them….

Stuff In. Stuff Out.


  1. A great perspective to have, Barb. We try to follow SISO in our household as well. As you point out, it can be a challenge to keep on that track, with so many material temptations in our world. A sense of humour helps :-)

  2. I like it...going to give that a try, but maybe in some cases I need to do a two-fer: buy one to replace *two* old items!

  3. So Tom, I can get those tan & cream-striped capris if I get rid of both of my current tan capris? Painful choice! :D

    Lorne--It also helps if I remember that I want to lower the impact I have on the planet and buying more new stuff just adds to the size of the foot I'm stomping with. Not laugh-inducing, but motivating. And there's a lot of fun in finding perfectly good old or used stuff that's been around a long time and gets a new lease on life at our place.

    This is making me feel as if I should go clean a closet or something!


  4. SISO is a great idea. I threaten to do this anytime we buy anything new, and it's good to know that some people even carry out those threats!

  5. Just found this highly relevant post by Shanna Trenholm, which was especially serendipitous since I follow her on Twitter:


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