UFO or WIP

We all have them, those UFOs (unfinished objects) that we like to refer to as WIP (work in progress).  Except that they are not, in progress that is.  They are sitting in a box (what did I say about storage boxes) or a “craft bag” (aka black hole of UFOs).  And they are not making any progress at all.

Be honest.  Even though you were really into cross stitch when your eldest was born 25 years ago and made beautiful samplers for every wedding and birth amongst your nearest and dearest, when did you last pick up a piece of aida?  Give it away.  Now.  It is not going to make itself and you are not going to make it either.

I have been culling the UFOs.  I love looking at patchwork and I am immensley impressed by the work that people do but I have to be honest, it’s not really my thing.  I have kept some stunning quilting squares which I used to make bags and totes (so now you all know what I’m giving everyone for Christmas).  But the half finished quilt, which I don’t even particularly like so can’t imagine using even if I did finish it is out.  As are two unused tapestry kits.

On the other hand I do like to knit, I just am better at starting than finishing.  Well until yesterday!  I finally sewed up my granny squares and even the Dancers thought it was beautiful (which really is praise indeed).

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This is not a skirt, although I have been wondering whether to try it on.  No, when complete it will be felted to within an inch of its life and then will be lined and will be a rather gorgeous tote.  I have one already.  This is earmarked for a friend.

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The rest of the knitting UFOs will be frogged.

So what UFOs do you have lurking in your cupboards and what are you going to do with them?

 

 

 

 

 

 

on the final leg

Back inside again today.  Which shows piss poor planning as it is a lovely day and perfect for clearing out the outbuildings; which we opted to do in the cold and rain.

Having taken another carload of books to Amina we had a look at the heaving bookcases in the Gin Gan and started all over again.  While I sorted through hundreds of books the Boss started packing up the lots for auction.  It was a relief when Mel from the British Heart Foundation rang to arrange to come and pick up his second load.  For that means that by Tuesday evening this pile will have gone.

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And so will this one.

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My father is a bibliophile with a particular interest in wine and racing.  Consquently I have a huge collection of books going back to the early fifties, many first editions.  My job this weekend is to go through the book pile and decide which are worth going to auction and which are probably not.  This was one job I didn’t know how I would cope with.  But it was easier than I thought.  He gave them to me when he moved permanently to the States, he knows I will not read the full set of the Compleat Imbiber for example.  But somebody else will enjoy it as much as he did and it is worth quite a lot of money.  The real eye opener was a cookery book “Lady Maclean’s Cook Book”  Mine is a pristine first edition.  It has been put carefully to one side.

I think we are coming towards the end of the tunnel.  It has taken six months to get where we are now and there is still a lot more we can do.  But right now I am enjoying the space, the feeling of freedom and the great sense of relief to see so much clutter go out of our doors.

Will I ever go back to my old ways?  I think not.  I have noticed that as I move around the house I am instinctively picking things and putting them in the charity pile.  Thus went a pair of glass candlesticks, some towels, a selection of scarves and a pair of boots without even thinking.  Shopping holds little appeal unless it is something I really need or really want.  The former is now discussed and depending on severity of need bought now or put on the rolling shopping list.  The latter is put on my birthday list.  Come my birthday I am fairly sure that I won’t want half the things on there.

Finally, when you remove the clutter from your house and spend hour after hour, day after day, week after week, month after month packing it up and sending it away you get a pretty good sense of where you went wrong.  Things that you bought because you “thought they might be useful”, but never were.  Books you bought because they were beautiful but weren’t interesting enough for you to read or use.  Clothes that you bought because they were fantastic quality, a bargain, but you never really loved.  Knick Knacks collected from junk shops over the years.  Oh, and those infernal storage boxes that you kept having to buy to store all of the above 🙂

Now doesn’t that look good?

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Nice and simple.

the bottomless pit…

Today we moved outside.  We cleared two of the back outbuildings yesterday but they were relatively straightforward.  Today we headed into the boiler house and courtyard.  This is mostly garden/building/tools/OMG what do we do with this rubbish.

I have to confess that I lost some of yesterday’s enthusiasm as I tried to restore order in and around the greenhouse.  It had got so bad that I almost found myself unable to listen to Gardeners’ Question Time on the radio my shame about my own garden was so bad.

Most of the stuff is pure rubbish.  There are some new tyres (for a car we no longer own) that are good to go but little else.  I didn’t realise it was possible to own as many plastic flower pots.  If I were to plant enough seeds to fill Hyde Park and pot them all on individually I would still have some to spare.  Half a gate – really?  Lots of broom handles without brooms, perhaps Hogwarts would like them for beginners.  Assorted tools that look positively lethal and are probably banned in most civilised and possibly even uncivilised countries and the obligatory paint pots.  Half empty, colours we no longer have on our walls and impossible to open anyway.

In a way this is easier than inside purely because most of it is pure junk.  There is little need to wonder if something is worth keeping “just in case”, for even the most agile lateral thinker would have a hard job finding something that most of the stuff could be practically used for.

So here are the pictures.

Work in progress

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You can see the finished product tomorrow.  We are going back outside now!

if you have a storage box…

… you will fill it.

Today we have started on the outbuildings.  While the Boss emptied plastic storage containers of stuff we didn’t need I filled them with books to take to Borderline Books.  I have no intention of taking them home again but I think Amira can actually put them to good use.

While the boxes were at our house we used them.  We put things in them and then put them away out of sight.  Quite, out of sight and never used or seen again.  I am not suggesting that you empty your house of every storage unit.  Most people need a wardrobe, a bookcase, somewhere to keep their knitting/fishing tackle/whatever rocks your boat.  Nobody needs boxes of books or clothes or toys that live in the attic or cellar or outbuilding.

clutterphoto courtesy of NY Times

Decluttering is not the same as organising.  I know.  I am a champion organiser.  Before I started this journey I would have a regular declutter.  I took everything out of a cupboard put some of them into the charity bag and then tidied up everything that was left.  Sometimes I got really enthusiastic and devised a new storage system.  This was often combined with a trip to IKEA for some funky cool storage boxes.  As you can see, what I was doing was reorganising the stuff I already had.  The boxes in the outbuildings and the kists full of books were testament to that.

One way to force yourself to declutter is to go around your house (inside and out, outbuildings and attics) and remove 50% of your “storage boxes”.  If you haven’t got anywhere to hide the clutter it has to go 🙂

in only half a day….

How the mighty are fallen.  Operation Purge 2013 went remarkably well.  The house has taken on a new lease of life, I am loving my considerably more modest wardrobe and even the Christmas decorations were cut by half and rehomed this year.

But, and there is always a “but”.  Not all is quite as it seems.  First I have purged more books but haven’t got around to taking them up to Gateshead.

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Then there is the “stuff that must go to auction”.  There is also the “stuff for charity that has been collected since Christmas” and finally there is the “stuff in the outbuildings”.  The latter is the most scary.

Regular nagging by the Singers (who are keen for us to tidy up and move to somewhere that is within  a day’s walking distance to a bus stop) was starting to get on my nerves.  Hadn’t they noticed quite how much had been done already, didn’t they  notice that I did have other jobs other than chief clutter cutter?  However, they were right.

So today we:

  • Booked a visit from the auction house;
  • Booked a skip for the stuff that just can’t go anywhere else;
  • Sorted auction and charity to either side of the Gin Gan;

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The current charity pile

  • Dismantled the broken ping pong table (and no it’s not repairable we have tried several times) and collected all the garden rubbish for a bonfire;
  • Emptied COMPLETELY two outbuildings;
  • Put a whole load of stuff of Freegle.

IMG_1212[1]Rollerblades anyone?

It is only 3.00pm, we didn’t start until 11.00 and we stopped for lunch.  We are not whirling dervishes, and we had regular tea breaks.  See it doesn’t have to take all day, look how much we achieved in just half a day.  Granted we had a head start in that for the most part we were just sorting stuff that had already been designated in the out pile, but we had put it off for so long because it seemed too much to face.  And it wasn’t

What have you been putting off?

the next step

All the decluttering in the world is not going to have any effect if you don’t stop the stuff coming into your life in the first place.  We’ve all been there: cleared a cupboard or a room and then six months later it has reverted back to type.

Part of the reason for this blog was to encourage transparency and to make me change my mindset.  To think before I bought, to question the actual value of an item.  It has worked to a certain extent, I am certainly far more thoughtful about most purchases whether expensive or from the charity shop.  In fact charity shops used to be one of my downfalls.  Items that I would never have bought new I would happily buy from a charity shop.  I’m not saying that I haven’t had some fantastic buys but just because a dress is only £5 I should buy it.  If I don’t need it I shouldn’t buy it just because it is cheap and/or good value.  It is only good value if I need it.  I was going to insert a picture of a dress that came to mind as I wrote that.  However, said dress went back to the charity shop in the first purge 🙂

So this year I am recording all my expenditure.  Every single last penny.  I would like to see whether the expenditure in various areas matches up to the pleasure we got in those areas.  Groceries are essential, but at the end of the month if I have spent say £200 on groceries and yet we can’t recall more than a handful of lovely  meals then it was not money well spent and we need to work out why.  Our time here on earth is limited as are our funds.  I intend to make sure I get the best out of both of them.

 

hair and there

Today was “hair day” on 40+ Style Challenge.  I challenge ANY woman to declare that she has not wasted hours wishing her hair was finer/thicker/longer/curlier/straighter.  There is a lot that a good hairdresser and a good cut can do but few of us have a hairdresser at our beck and call.  We are the DIY brigade, cut and colour at the salon and otherwise it’s up to us.

For many years I used shampoo.  Only shampoo.  No conditioner, no fancy hair packs, no serums, no oils, nothing.  And my hair was fine.  Then in my thirties it became rather listless.  I succumbed and bought a conditioner, whooooo silky hair.  I was hooked.  I had oils, serums, conditioners, leave in conditioner sprays, heat protectors, sun protectors.  My hair was better defended than Guantanamo Bay.

But the problem with all that stuff is that it doesn’t half take up a lot of space, and it all comes in plastic bottles etc etc.  So I went on a detox.

I haven’t gone “no ‘poo” but I started buying whatever shampoo and conditioner was on special offer.  One was pretty awful but the rest have been fine.  I still have plastic bottles but I’m working on that.  I am going to give solid shampoo a go.

The point is that my hair has not fallen out/gone green/turned to straw.  I am old enough to remember beer and vinegar rinses, egg and oil hair packs and the magic of coconut oil.  At the end of the day the stuff on the top of my head is dead keratin.  I’m going to look after it, but I do not need to waste my money nor clutter my bathroom with a whole load of products.