it’s done

Sorry for the delay in posting the update.  I promise I did clear up in the time allocated but I have had massive problems with the internet and uploading photographs was not an option.  I think BT has decided to declutter my broadband😉

So here we are, the upstairs study

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And the Barn

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We are slowly moving stuff that we need to keep for the new building out into the outbuildings.  Meanwhile The Boss is sourcing building materials and wood, a lot of wood so it is a good job we cleared the outbuildings last year!

Love Gillie x

 

honesty and transparency

I started this blog in order to be transparent about our decluttering journey.  It has grown to become a blog about living, or rather attempting to live a life with a smaller carbon footprint; to use what we have before we buy more; to repurpose; to make, grow and forage and to live in general with less.

Today is an honesty day, a transparent day.  We are planning building works to divide our house into two and we have been redecorating the half we will remain in.  Consequently we have had to move stuff, put stuff aside for donating/selling.  And this is what I am faced with today.IMG_2622

 

Not a pretty sight is it?

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The barn has been the dumping ground for the main house and the mezzanine has been the dumping ground for the study.

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So all you readers who think that I have a perfectly ordered and decluttered house.  I don’t.  I have a house that is a work in progress.  The redecoration is finished so there is no excuse for this mess.  The builders haven’t started yet and cannot until I empty the barn side of the house over absolutely everything including furniture.  Some will have to be stored to go back in when the work is complete but we can’t keep everything so fairly major work will be required there.

Tomorrow I promise photographs of the finished job:)

a lesson from the queen of the fairies

So maybe I got a bit too excited about the sunshine, but heck when you live in the north you celebrate every ray of golden sunlight as if it may be your last.  So I apologise if I got a little over enthusiastic and feel free to blame me for the blanket of cloud that has settled over Durham (I take no responsibility for the cloud elsewhere).

Today I saw this photograph on Facebook

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Stunning isn’t it.   The earth cradled in a blanket of cloud.

I had a blog planned inspired by this.  So off I tootled to find the original photograph to see if I could use it.  Not only can it not be credited to anyone for certain, but it is apparently for certain fake. (Snopes believes it to have been created by Mike Kiev, but others believe it to be older and created by somebody else as yet unknown). At first I was rather sad, it was such a beautiful picture and gave me hope that perhaps there is hope for this poor old planet after all.  For it to be fake ripped that out from under me.

But does it?  Just because something isn’t real doesn’t mean it can’t be powerful, give hope, succor or security.  My daughters wrote endless letters to Queen Mab (the head of the Tooth Fairies if weren’t aware of this awesome fact).  This was because one day Queen Mab wrote a long letter to a recent tooth loser.  After some days I was approached by a delegation of daughters concerned that there was something wrong with Queen Mab (Fairy Doctors to the rescue) as she had failed to reply to their last few letters.  Thinking very quickly on my feet I pointed out that as nobody had lost a tooth recently Queen Mab would not have known to check for any letters and perhaps rather than hiding them under the stair basket (I don’t know either) they should put them somewhere easier for Queen Mab to find (even fairies need a bit of help) and also let me know so that I could alert Queen Mab to the arrival of a letter.

They turned out to be prolific letter writers.  Poor Queen Mab spent a lot of time over a glass of wine practicing her curlicue writing and keeping the daughters up to date with goings on in her realm.  Changes in her handwriting were poured over and discussions as to why her “H” wasn’t as curly on one letter compared to another only served to increase the need for a glass of wine during the writing of the next letter.

Their private correspondence with the Queen of the Fairies was a source of much pride and even now all grown up, they still remember them.  And yes I did keep them all.  Some things cannot be decluttered.

So if the picture above is a fake, so what.  Enjoy the beauty if you find it beautiful, take comfort from the clouds cradling the earth and if you are sitting under a cloudy  sky and bemoaning the departure of the sun complete with his hat, then think instead of a blanket wrapping the fragile earth.

Love Gillie x

 

slippery slopes and mugs

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Not so much “how the mighty are fallen” (not least because I have never been mighty), but more “how easy it is to slip into bad habits”.

As we moved further on into our declutter process I managed to stick strictly to one in one out (remember this post ), but gradually I let a few more items in and didn’t get around to shifting out an equivalent number.  Then as that happened more than once or twice I stopped being so strict in the shop.  If you have a one in one out policy you have to (a) really want the new item and (b) know of an item you are prepared to donate in return .  There is no “whoops what fell into my basket” with one in one out shopping.

We were in Morpeth this weekend and as usual we had a wander around the charity shops (excellent by the way).  I bought two pairs of linen trousers.  I came home and as I hung them up I noticed that my small wardrobe was a little bit tight.

Today I went to make a cup of tea and had to tidy the mug shelf before something fell out.

Something had gone wrong.

The clothes issue had not got out of hand and I have caught it in time.  I like to declutter in summer because it’s easier to try on clothes and see if they still fit/I like them etc when I am not wearing enough clothes to keep Nanook of the North warm.  So I have programmed a clear out tomorrow.

The cups are a funny one, because I can’t remember the last time I bought a cup.  However, we are forever being given them.  They don’t match, I don’t particularly like them and they certainly don’t make my heart sing.  So today this lot went to the charity shop and were replaced with 6 of the beauties at the top.  I love them, they are beautiful and they serve their purpose.

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Decluttering is a forever process, because not only do you slide backwards sometimes (clothes) but you are not the only person who brings stuff into your house (mugs).  If you have a hiccough, don’t beat yourself up, just pick yourself up and start again.

Love Gillie

P.S.  Since I posted this the Father Christmas mug has been given a reprieve on the grounds that it was abducted by The Boss and Singer 1.

 

reclaim your garden

Excess photo alert: the sun doesn’t often show his face around here!

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Here in the UK the sun has been out for three whole days.  That is little short of a miracle and in true British fashion, the weather is pretty much the number one topic of conversation.  It is wonderful, I am a summer person, I hate wearing lots of clothes and can’t wait to be in flip flops loose tops and cut off trousers and leggings.  It certainly makes deciding what to wear in the morning much easier when you only need to wear two items!

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Yesterday I took the day off, no work whatsoever.  I lay in the hammock all afternoon and read.  At the perfectly appointed time The Boss came out with a large glass of Pinot Gris.  At this point for fear of wasting the Pinot by inadvertently watering the grass with it I moved to the table and continued to read, sip and listen to the birdsong.

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What has made this year in the garden so wonderfully easy is that we decluttered all the outbuildings two years ago.  We no longer have half a deckchair hanging around just in case.  Boxes of garden toys that the girls have grown out of have gone.  In fact yesterday morning the trampoline frame (the pad had long gone) was picked up by a chap who is going to use it to make a polytunnel (Freegle is wonderful for letting things go to new and better homes).  We now use our hammock and deck chairs, I sit out in the courtyard with a cup of tea, we play ping pong in the meadow.

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Dolly enjoying a doze in the sun.

It is so easy to stuff seasonal things away where you can’t see them out of season, but then come summer (or winter and where are the snow chains?) and the effort of digging through all the rubbish is so depressing that it is easy to be tempted by those special offers and just go out and by some new chairs or ping pong bats.

Remember the Hanging Gardens of Brancepeth?  Now look at them.

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It’s lovely out there, take advantage of that, clear out one bit of one garage/outbuilding/shed.  Reclaim your summer.

Love Gillie x

is pinterest ruining your life?

I have been researching Bullet Journals.  Go on, google it, 99% of what you find will not be practical planners which keep you on track but whopping great works of art  How anybody gets things done when they have to cover every page with washi tape and colour everything in I don’t know.  But then I came across this post  The Lazy Genius (I even love the title), wherein she says these magic words..

I encourage you to not look for other examples of Bullet Journaling, not just yet. Why? Because there are people who doll their pages up beautifully with washi tape, calligraphy, stamps, intricate doodles, and everything else that makes your heart beat fast at the craft store. They’re color-coordinated with tabs and labels, and there are so many pages to choose from, it’s like a scary organizational buffet. 

Those journals are beautiful without question. But remember when I said trial and error taught me to keep my Bullet Journal simple? That’s because I went through three – yeah, THREE – different journals because I kept getting frustrated and starting over. I couldn’t keep up with all the beauty I wanted to see on every page. My handwriting is boring, the only thing I can doodle is a wobbly spiral, and while I do have an impressive collection of washi tape, it just took too long to make every page pretty. I was dressing my journal for the Oscars when I live a Modern Family reruns life.”

That pretty much sums up life in general.  We spend way too much time comparing ourselves, our children, our homes, our entire lives with other people.  Meanwhile they are comparing their lives with yet more people.  We make Compare the Market dot com look like a car boot sale.

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Slow down and let the rest of them overtake you. 

What is on your pinterest board (if you have one)?  I cleared mine out recently and now it has things I want to do (practical ideas for converting a transit van into a camper van, no dreamy lifestyle photos but stuff I need to know); my herbal medicine references; low tox living references.  Yes, there are ideas for the garden and our home, but not pictures of stuff or places we are never going to achieve with quotes like “oh in  my dreams”, or “one day I am going to live here”.  Aspiration is good, but only if it makes you feel good, not if it means that you spend your life, your actual life, aspiring to another life, and whoops… you have missed your own life.

When I led happiness workshops I would give everyone a small pretty notebook and some pens and ask them to fill the first page with stuff that made them happy, words, pictures whatever.  NOBODY could co it.  They didn’t want to spoil the book. Then I took a big black permanent marker and said they had 10  minutes or I would scribble all over the first page.  Most people grabbed their notebook and clasped it to their chest.  My analogy was that notebook is your life, if you are scared to make a mistake because you want it to be perfect then you will never life your life but spend it waiting for perfection.

Perfection doesn’t exist.  Beauty is in the imperfection.  Look at this  perfectly symmetrical faces are not more beautiful than our natural imbalanced ones.  The Japanese (always spot on with observations) even have a name for it.  Wabi-Sabi ..

The aesthetic is sometimes described as one of beauty that is “imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete” (Leonard Koren)

Fill up those beautiful notebooks you have on your shelves, if you have to cross out a mistake, cross it out.  Live you life with all its imperfections and revel in the beauty that is not perfect.

Love Gillie

 

the maybe box

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Over the years I  have read a lot of decluttering books, blogs, articles.  I have listened to people talking about their own journey and heard people give advice.  Almost every single person, regardless of their methodology, rationale or philosophy advised people to have three piles: In, Out and Maybe.

I have never had a Maybe.

When you are decluttering a drawer or a cupboard you are examining not only physical stuff but also your emotions.  Even if the drawer is in the kitchen there will be an emotion attached to they stuff you are putting through your hands.  The  meals you have cooked with that whisk.  The kind thought behind the gift of spiraliser you have never used.  Examining your emotions is part of the process.  Accept the emotion, accept the memory and unless it meets the pre-Raphaelite code of  “do you believe it to be beautiful or know it to be useful” then let it go.  There is no inbetween.

So why  have a maybe box?  Because you haven’t completed the journey for the item.  You haven’t decided it it is either beautiful or useful and so you put it in the maybe box.  I can guarantee that almost all if not all of that box will never make it out of the door.  The mere fact that it has gone into Maybe is proof that you are  not ready to let it go.  So why pretend?

Furthermore, you come to the end of the declutter that day and feel great because your drawer is now clear, neat and ordered.  There are things that have been thrown away and some put in a bag to go to charity (tomorrow not sometime next week….!)  and then there is that Maybe box.  You have to find somewhere to put the maybe box, probably somewhere you can’t see it so you forget about it until the next declutter.

Over the course of the month, things from the Maybe box will work their way back into that drawer and it is no longer neat and ordered but reverts back to its original state.  All that work for so little return.  That wonderful feeling you had when you first decluttered that drawer comes back to haunt you and worse you tell yourself that decluttering clearly doesn’t work, at least not for you.  And you give up.

All because you had a Maybe box.

Be strong, let it go or keep it.  The important thing is to not only make the decision but to know why you have made it, in fact once you have done that the decision is not only easy but becomes a no-brainer.

Love Gillie