holidays

onepairofshoesatatime is currently enjoying a low key low wardrobe holiday in Turkey (one small suitcase including suncreams etc I was very proud ūüôā ) ¬†Blogging will resume on my return in early August.

chilled

usually clean the fridge once a week, but with anything up to five teenagers plus extras I have been filling it as fast as I can just trying to keep up. However, we are about to go on holiday so it needs to be eaten down and furthermore, in the interests of genuine decluttering I think it is time to get rid of some of the things that have been there far too long. Yes Mr Candied Chestnuts of Cyprus.  You are on the way out.

Apologies for rubbish photos, camera battery on charge and phone clearly not up to the job today.

These, I am horrified to say, are the before photos. ¬†It is way worse that usual because the teenagers keep filling it with stuff and haven’t been putting things in the right places. ¬†Dairy always goes under the cheese, surely everyone knows that? ūüôā

IMG_1084

 

IMG_1085

 

This is the after photo. ¬†I would like to say in my defence that we never usually have any pop in the house as none of us like it. ¬†But the Dancer has just completed her expedition for her Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award. ¬†20km a day for 4 days in average heat of 27 degrees. ¬†She has also fed the entire local mosquito and midge population. ¬†I picked her and two friends up from Cow Green Reservoir last night. ¬†“Bring Pop” was her plaintive cry. ¬†I wasn’t sure if they were going to drink it or wear it.

 

IMG_1086

 

IMG_1087

 

 

I beg the plastic trays from friends who use the supermarket as I find the perfect for separating out the smaller veg and fruit. It’s a really good way of storing tomatoes as it protects them from being squashed. ¬†I’ve had these (and some spares) for over a year. ¬†Fruit juice is an issue. ¬†We get through loads, and whilst I do squeeze quite a lot myself and we get gallons from our own apples I can’t find any other way of buying juice except cartons. ¬†We use them as firelighter in the winter and they make great trays for seeds but that still leaves quite a few left over. ¬†Milk is another issue. ¬†The milkman doesn’t deliver to us as we are too far out. ¬†Although he has offered to deliver our milk to the castle in the village and we could pick up from there. I think he has juice in glass bottles too. ¬†Also NZ Eco Chick ¬†suggests powdered milk. ¬†Anyone else tried that?

The chickens and geese will be happy!

 

IMG_1088

drawers

Now that the kitchen cupboards are clean and sparkly and spacious it is time to tackle the drawers. ¬†People buy me kitchen gadgets and thingamybobs. ¬†How many measuring spoons do I need? ¬†Please, I don’t want any more, or measuring cups or weird ladles. ¬†It took only 40 minutes to turn mess and into order. ¬†See it’s SO EASY. ¬†What are you waiting for?

Photo heavy post.

This is where I keep the stuff I use every day.  Large spoons, graters, spatulas, tongs etc.

 

IMG_1082

 

This was drawer one.

IMG_1065

 

 

Drawer one now.

 

IMG_1073

 

Drawer two

 

IMG_1066

Drawer two now

 

IMG_1075

 

 

Drawer three (this is the dump drawer… can you tell?)

 

IMG_1069

 

 

Drawer three now

IMG_1077

 

 

Drawer four

 

IMG_1070

 

 

Drawer four now

 

IMG_1078

 

 

Drawer five

 

IMG_1071

 

 

Drawer five now

 

IMG_1079

 

 

Drawer six

 

IMG_1072

 

 

Drawer six now

 

IMG_1080

 

Something small tomorrow I think. ¬†I rather fancy sitting out and enjoying this heatwave ūüôā

 

 

 

 

stop

The Singers are 15 next week. ¬†We will be flying to Turkey on their birthday and they are none too pleased. ¬†Not least when they discovered that the Boss has paid extra for two seats with extra leg room because he is fed up of sitting on planes with his knees roughly the same height as his chest. ¬†They (perhaps understandably) thought that as they were flying on their birthday they should have extra leg room. ¬†The fact that they are built like butterflies doesn’t apparently count.

I digress. ¬†We are going on holiday and the Singers are having a birthday. ¬†Consequently we have to go clothes shopping for apparently the rooms that make backstage at London Fashion Week look like a minimalist’s dream, do not contain “a single item of summer clothing.” ¬†I did point out that as they have not been wandering around naked during the current heat wave there must be a few usable pieces. ¬†I was met with the standard teenage sad face. Not the sad I am unhappy face, the sad you are a sad person who really doesn’t understand and clearly was never a teenager and has no idea what being a teenager is like and so on…..

Actually I quite enjoyed it because I didn’t have anything to buy, I just followed them around and marvelled at how they could look drop dead gorgeous in a bin bag. ¬†Shopping for a size 6 willow is a breeze. ¬†It’s going to look fantastic on you whatever it is.

Much planning and mental arithmetic was required. ¬†When you are 14 (okay almost 15) you have limited funds and no access to a credit card (well not in this house anyway). ¬†You cannot buy whatever you want and just “put it on the card”. ¬†You are paying with cash that has been earned or given as a gift. ¬†There were complicated deals that would frazzle the brain of the most devious hedge fund manager juggling swaps and futures. ¬†If one had an advance on their birthday money from Grandad and the other owed me for the ebay shop and the first hadn’t made any ebay purchases but was owed ¬£10 by Dad for the garden work did that cancel the ¬£40 owed to me by the Dancer? ¬†I don’t know either.

cards_2222752a

The point is they knew the value of the purchases and they knew precisely how much they could spend (and still have enough to purchase each other a birthday present). ¬†If you pay with cash you are much more thoughtful about how you spend it. ¬†If you pay with plastic you are not. ¬†Granted, turning up at the travel agents to pay in cash for five return flights to LA would probably cause a minor disturbance. ¬†There is a place for plastic. ¬†But too many of us don’t know what that place is.

One of the reasons we have so much clutter in our lives is because we buy things on a whim, with little thought. ¬†We get home and they may be used once or twice but we didn’t really want or need them so they go to the back of the cupboard. ¬†They stay there either because we have forgotten they are there or because of an undercurrent of guilt that since we paid for them we should keep them.

Refusing to let them into the house in the first place is so much easier and a heck of a lot cheaper. ¬†Shop with cash. ¬†If you must keep your plastic in your purse for an emergency hide it. ¬†I keep a ¬£50 note in my purse for emergencies. ¬†It is too big to spend without some thought and in fact I would probably have to go to a bank and get it changed into smaller notes. ¬†It has been there unspent for over three years. ¬†I have never actually needed it. ¬†You don’t need to take the plastic out with you. ¬†Leave it at home.

lessons

It’s¬†been almost a month since we began to let go.¬† What have I achieved?¬† What have I learned?

We have given away or sold more stuff than I even knew we owned.¬† Cupboards have been emptied, drawers dynamited and corners swept.¬† But it doesn’t feel enough.¬† There is so much more I want to go.

When you start to take out that which you don’t need or want you can see more clearly how much was there in the first place.

I have been doing Project333 for almost a fortnight and apart from a few tweaks I haven’t found it hard at all.

I have far too much in my wardrobe.  It is liberating to only have a handful of clothes.

I thought I would struggle to let go of things I had been keeping for sentimental reasons.  Books were a big issue.  But when I realised I was hording things that I would never use again but still had so much life in them and could be used and enjoyed by other people it was easy.

I had let my emotions create a massive millstone which I moved from house to house but never used.  It took up space and fed my feelings of guilt.

Decluttering¬†doesn’t just affect your living space it changes you.¬† I am unfit, I need to lose weight and I ought to drink less wine.¬† I have known that for years.¬† Now I want to declutter me as well as where I live.

I only have one life I don’t want to fill it or me with rubbish.

frozen

It is hot today, well certainly for the north of England. ¬†Currently 25 degrees (about 73 for those working in farenheit) ¬†and stuffy. ¬†I can’t believe I used to live in the tropics, I must have been made of much sterner stuff when I was younger. ¬†However, it did mean that today was the perfect day to sort the freezer…..

This is one of our most shameful areas.  I have tried all sorts of strategies to keep on top of it but none of them have lasted much longer than a month or two.  We have three freezers. A small freezer below our fridge in our kitchen; a chest freezer and a small freezer in the outbuildings.

The fridge in the kitchen is the main daily use freezer.  The one I use first when  working out what we are going to eat the following week; the one the ice cream lives in; the ice box and any herbs I have frozen for over the winter.

The chest freezer is meant to be for fish (my husband is a trout and salmon fisherman) and whole or half animals bought direct from the farmer; freeze ahead meals (especially over the Christmas holidays); leftovers sufficient for another meal for at least 2 people; bones and meat for the dogs; odd stuff my husband buys when he is let loose in the farmers’ market on his own. ¬†Though as I bought an alpaca steak last time I went to the Hexham market I can’t really complain about the Desperate Dan Pie he bought.

Finally there is the small freezer used for fruit. ¬†We have a lot of fruit bushes and trees gooseberries, redcurrents, blackcurrents, apples, damsons, plums and quinces. We also have raspberries, strawberries, cherries and blueberries, but they never last long enough to make it to the freezer! ¬†Everything comes to harvest at once and I can’t can and jelly it all in one go so it goes straight into the freezer along with any foraged fruit (sloes, rosehips, elderberries) and I do bulk sessions at my leisure.

In theory it should work well. ¬†In practice it is chaos, not even of the organised kind. ¬†So out it all came. There was a shocking amount that fell into the unidentifiable category and combined with the dog meat and bones which had got wedged under a whole side of smoked salmon the dogs will be well fed this week. ¬†Then there were the soups. ¬†Now I like soup as much as the next man. ¬†My husband should have married the Soup Dragon. ¬†He makes soup by the gallon, thick broths and lentil soups made using a ham bone from a mutated pig the size of a shire horse and so thick they could be served by the slice. ¬†The one kind of soup I can’t stand. ¬†The problem is he makes it, ¬†bags it up and then forgets about it and makes some more. ¬†Henceforth he is banned from even mentioning the word “stock” until he has eaten at least 2/3 of the soup lake in our freezer.

The most interesting bits were the unused cuts from the whole lamb we get each spring.  I am the only person who likes heart so I usually have that braised on a cold night whilst everyone else wrinkles their noses at me and snaffles some kind of dubious takeaway.  I have plenty of recipes for skirt and breast and all those other cheap cuts that nobody else wants but even I was baffled by these.

IMG_1064

I have added them to the dog pile.

Finally the leftovers. ” Bolognese sauce for 5″ is brilliant; “lamb hot pot for 2” could do my husband and I for lunch; unidentifiable meat dish dated October 2010 I thought could probably go.

So now I have this

IMG_1061

All sorted neatly into bags

this

IMG_1063

Meat drawer

and this.

IMG_1062

Fruit waiting to be jellied

But more importantly what I have learned and what will I do differently?

  • Bags – sorting stuff in the big freezer by bag avoids loosing dog food under the salmon. ¬†I have a raw meat and fish bag, a cooked meals, soup and stock bag and a breakfast bag (bacon, black pudding, white pudding, fruit pudding and kippers).
  • All menu planning to use existing stocks in the kitchen freezer before going to the outside freezer and finally the farmers’ market.
  • Nobody is allowed to put anything in the freezer except me (because I am the only person who labels anything!)
  • Cut down on game purchases. ¬†Only my husband and I really like game, I can sneak it in to casseroles for the girls but they have been suspicious ever since they discovered “dark beef” was venison and “dark chicken” was pheasant! ¬†We do get given game by friends who shoot and my husband has brought the odd animal home himself but they tend to get eaten immediately. ¬†It’s the partridge picked up at the farmers’ market that just never gets eaten. ¬†The venison liver, which to be fair looks delicious but again as only my husband and I eat liver and game it’s not going to see the light of day on a regular weekday evening.
  • Leftovers. ¬†Is the reason there is so much left over because I efficiently cooked twice the amount, because unexpectedly half the family were out for supper or because it wasn’t a great recipe? ¬†In the latter case there is no point putting it in the freezer because nobody is going to eat it. ¬†A rather odd chicken and chickpea curry fell into that category.
  • Never put milk in the freezer. ¬†Nobody ever remembers it is there.
  • If I’ve not turned it into jelly or canned it by December I’m never going to do it.

PS loved the fact that WordPress spell check doesn’t recognise kipper or chickpea – foodie philistine!

rule bending

If it doesn’t work, try again, bend the rules, make it work for you. ¬†I’m¬†still¬†working¬†on Project333. ¬†Still determined to cut the wardrobe to 33 items (or thereabouts) but have found that some of the things I thought would work, didn’t.

I am a long floaty¬†skirt girl. ¬†I had one long floaty¬†skirt in my selection. ¬†It would have been easy for me to say “AAGH ¬†It doesn’t work I’m giving up and introducing more skirts”. ¬†Alternatively I could say “This selection didn’t work so I need to start again.” ¬†Or “I need to tweak this, maybe 35 would work better for me” or “I need to tweak this I’m not going to wear all those trousers but I could substitute them for some skirts.”¬† I opted for the latter.

There is no failure unless you give up.  If 35 items works perfectly for you, then have 35 items.  If 33 items works fine but you need one ultra smart outfit that you know will only be worn once, then hold onto that outfit but wear it only on that specific occasion.  Then think about next time an occasion like that comes up.  Could you tweak your 33 to include something suitable?

Today I am going to a smart event at the Cathedral followed by lunch and a private viewing of the Lindisfarne gospels.  I have to look very smart.  I have managed to stick to my 33 items with one exception.  A fuschia silk jacket.  It turns my dress from pretty to smart.  So today I will wear the jacket.  Tonight it goes back into storage. I am not going to beat myself up about it.  I am going to concentrate on what I have achieved already.

This isn’t about making life hard, it’s about making life easier. ¬†You make the rules. ¬†Just remember though, if you keep breaking them then like a smoker who says “oh just one more, I’ll give up tomorrow” you will never get there.

It may be uncomfortable but it isn’t meant to be back breaking. ¬†This week I am going to pack for our holiday to Turkey. ¬†I am looking forward to selecting a handful of items from the 33 in my wardrobe. ¬†No packing angst this year. ¬†What would change in your life if you only had 33 items in your wardrobe?

refill

The holiday is approaching.  We are going to Turkey, Kalkan to be precise and I am making headway into the preparations.  I have e-visas, e-tickets and the hotel and car were booked online.  So far so good.

Yesterday I hit Boots for the suncream etc.

  • Suncream
  • Aftersun
  • Shampoo and conditioner
  • Insect repellant
  • Prescription refills
  • Antihistamine cream
  • Eurax for prickly heat.
  • plastic
  • plastic
  • plastic
  • metal
  • cardboard and blister pack
  • metal
  • metal

Not one of those was refillable.¬† The Body Shop used to offer refills.¬† When I was at school in Brighton we used to go to the very first Body Shop, it was in a back street in Kemp Town I think.¬† The labels were handwritten and every bottle was refillable.¬† Now that is no more and it seems we don’t have an appetite for reusing our own containers.

Most of us of a certain age remember collecting the pop bottles to take back to the corner shop in return for a handful of pennies which we then spent on garish gobstoppers, flying saucers and blackjacks.  We all had a milkman who picked up our empty milk bottles (and used to take me on rides on his wagon and let me feed his horse carrots).  Gone in many places now.

Why do we let it happen?¬† Why do we not fight back?¬† If you know of a company or shop who refills bottles (from milk to wine to shampoo, whatever.¬† One which will let you use your own containers.¬† Let me know.¬† It doesn’t matter where in the world you are.¬† I’ll add them to a list here on the blog.¬† It would be good if it were a list that “grew and grew like Topsy”.¬† But it will only go if we vote with our feet and our wallets.

present

IMG_1051

Today I tackled an AAGH zone.  The present cupboard (as opposed to the future and past cupboards) is both a help and a hindrance.

Yes, it is useful to be able to pick things up for friends and family, that moment when you see something and go “Yes!”¬† But there is also the temptation to buy random things in sales that you can “allocate” later.¬† I am often guilty of this.¬† There are a lot of children in our family and I have been wont to buy up books and toys in the sales and then wonder who to give them to.

Most things find happy homes, but there are a few items that have hung around for several years.¬† But still I have kept them in the vain hope that suddenly somebody will want the rather lovely carving set that came free with our knives.¬† A perfect example of the free gift you don’t want.¬† I still buy things when I see them and know that the person I have bought them for will love them and use them.¬† But all the other opportunistic purchases.¬† No.¬† Not anymore.¬† All I was doing was fooling myself I was getting a bargain when I was still being sucked in to the consumerist “need to have/need to buy”.¬† I bought two beautiful and very simple slipware tumblers for a friend.¬† They will suit their lifestyle and will be used.¬† They cost me 50P each in a closing down sale.¬† But who cares what the cost is?¬† They were bought with purpose and love not just because they were a bargain.

Then there is the wrapping paper.  Many years ago my mother and I wrapped all our presents in chinese and arabic newspapers.  Those were the days when Paris Match was exotic.  Since then I have usually wrapped presents in brown paper with red ribbon.  But that is still disposable.  We have moved on to bags, but the problem there is that you need to get the bag back in order to refill it for next year.

This is the current present cupboard.  The red box has presents that are allocated to specific people.  The pink file is my Christmas file, lists of presents I have given people over the past 10 years (with a lot of people to buy for it is important not to give a similar present two years in a row), recipes and decoration ideas etc.  Some crackers bought in the sale last year.  I think this ought to be the last year of crackers.  They are so very not zero waste.  Need to find an alternative.

The yellow bag has various things collected and made for Samaritan’s Purse¬† Christmas shoe boxes.

Soon it will be the Singers’ birthday.¬† They will be 15.¬† It is hard to have a mother who wants to stop buying when you are a teenager.¬† But I am proud to say they are on board.¬† Singer one doesn’t know what she wants for her birthday but she would like a really good pair of boots.¬† So we will buy boots in the autumn because as she says “there is no point buying something just for the sake of it when there is something I would like and use and can get later.”

 

no

When I was a student in the eighties and used my own shopping bags, refusing the plastic bags at the check out¬† I got some rather odd looks.¬† But now it is commonplace.¬† It is almost looked down upon to request a plastic bag.¬† I have yet to get non food retailers to accept my own bags but I am working on it.¬† Explaining that the newly purchased dress will not self destruct if it is placed in a cotton tote rather than a plastic bag with the shop’s name emblazoned on the side is still a step too far for some shops.¬† But the time will come.¬† I am patient.

It’s all about saying no.¬† Today I practiced refusing things I didn’t want.¬† The reactions were interesting.

Case one: local co-op.¬† I refuse the receipt and the voucher automatically printed that gives me ¬£5 next time I spent ¬£50.¬† Not an eyelash was batted.¬† It occurred to me to ask if it was possible to request that no receipt and voucher were printed, but I decided one step at a time.¬† I’ll try that tomorrow…

Case two:¬† large supermarket whose doors I rarely darken.¬† However this was an emergency.¬† I refused the receipt.¬† The girl on the checkout looked at me and looked at the receipt and yet another voucher telling me how much I had saved by shopping there rather than elsewhere and tried to give them to me again.¬† Again I refused.¬† Blind panic set in and she clearly didn’t know what to do.¬† By now I had bagged up my shopping (in my own bags) and was heading out of the door.¬† For all I know she is still clinging onto that redundant piece of paper.

We are used to saying no to plastic bags in supermarkets.  Why not say no to:

  • plastic bags in all shops from clothes to DIY
  • receipts you don’t want
  • automatically produced vouchers especially those that tell you how much you saved
  • freebies from make up to pens.¬† You don’t need them and they aren’t really free.
  • paper napkins
  • plastic straws and parasols in drinks
  • Bags for veg.¬† Why does you single broccoli have to have its own bag?¬† Frankly why do 6 apples have to have their own bag?
  • dry cleaners who will not take back wire coathangers

Until we start to vocalise our objections we will keep having unwanted and unnecessary stuff foistered upon us.