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Putting penguin in his place

The words ringing in my ear right now come from the sage advice found in my story today on garden decor.

Before you buy something, make sure you have a place to put it -- and a place to store it, if need be.

So said local florist John M. Hochadel, who was referring to animal statuary and other garden ornamentation.

But he could have been talking about many of the things that land in our homes -- inside or out.

Small kitchen appliances, for one. Huge serving bowls and trays for another. And let's not get started on oversized stuffed animals.

We have a stuffed penguin in our house that stands a couple feet tall. It resides in one of three rooms because there is no one perfect spot for the traveling fella. It's not as big and scary as some of those stuffed animals people drag home from carnivals -- what DO you do with those? -- but it does take up space, nonetheless.

Much of the inventory people tend to acquire comes from the "just one more" category. Just one more beach towel. (They look so cute and vibrant on store shelves this time of year, don't they?) One more tall flower vase. One more woven basket. One more picture frame with sentimental words written on it.

Years ago, as our collection of cookbooks grew, I decided that we should only own as many cookbooks as would fit on the shelves designated to hold them. If one came in, one had to go.

This was an easy decision, and so far it has worked (especially since many new and interesting recipes can be found online).

A few things I have observed through the years:

*"Folds flat for easy storage," sounds promising at first. But, after folding flat, then what?

*Toys often get smaller as kids get bigger. Storage-wise, this is a good thing.

*There sure are a lot of cute things available these days for decorating kids' rooms.

*Items sold in a neighborhood garage sale often stay in the neighborhood. They just travel from one house to another.

*And, an obvious one, the more storage space you have the more you're apt to accumulate. This is particularly true of small kitchen appliances such as slow cookers, smoothie makers and those little cake pops makers.

I've also noticed that it is easier to be skeptical of others' purchasing decisions than your own. Let me share an example:

My mother once saw a pair of decorative zebras she considered buying.

"You don't need two zebras," I told her.

"They will stand right here," she said, ignoring my comment and pointing to a spot on her living room floor.

Sadly, for her, the striking creatures sold out before she could go back and purchase them.

Perhaps she will settle for a stuffed penguin in the exact same colors.