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.

 

aprons and dolmades

Turkey was wonderful.  The weather was hard, clear blue skies every day.  I believe we did see one cloud, but it was small and clearly lost.  One of the things I love about coming back from holiday is digging out old recipes and experimenting with recreating the foods we ate whilst we were away.  One of my absolute favourites are dolmades.

In the interest of minimalist living and using up everything I cast my eye over the grape vines in our garden.  Why on earth had I not thought to use them before?  For somebody who can make a pretty reasonable meal out of foraged or caught food you would have thought I would have spotted that opportunity before.

The dolmades were delicious, even more so I think because they came from my own vines.  Before we went away I was furiously foraging and drying flowers and leaves, soon I shall start canning and preserving.  But now I am freezing vine leaves for the winter.

Like all leaves you only want the young and tender ones.  The rule I found which seems to work for me is count three leaves down from the tip and pick the next three leaves.  Clearly this isn’t hard and fast but it gives you an idea of the size of leaf you are looking for.  In my case it is larger than my palm but smaller than my whole hand.

As our leaves have come from our own vines I know that they haven’t been sprayed but they do need washing.  Then make a pile of leaves.  There are five of us in our family and we eat about three each so I made piles of 15 leaves.

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Then roll them up and secure with string.

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Finally blanch in boiling salted water.

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Leave to cool and freeze.  I’ll let you know how they turn out.

In the meantime every cook needs a good apron.  I made this yesterday with some leftover upholstery fabric.  I feel very cool 🙂

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decluttering changed my life

One year on.  Remember this?

 

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and this?

 

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Well now it looks like this.

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In fact that is a mere fraction of what has gone.  As I write I have six more bags to go to charity and the Singers have been dispatching some of the Boss’s clothes on Ebay.  So what next?  What have I learned?

What next?  Well there is still a huge amount to go.  The Boss is slowly working through his wardrobe and I will have to work at his pace.  The study still has far too much in it and there are a few black holes around the house to which we have been turning a blind eye.  The videos and CDs are a case in point.  But as the house has emptied we have begun to turn our attention towards the garden.  I have plans to turn our garden into a mainly physic garden where all the plants are either medicinal, edible or have other practical uses.  Meanwhile the Boss has finally got on top of the meadow and is planning the wild flower border around it.  Currently it’s mainly vetch, poppies and cornflowers, but give him time.

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What have I learned?  How long do you want me to go on?

Don’t give  up  Like learning to play a musical instrument it is hard at first.  You can see other people knocking off a snazzy sounding concerto whilst you are still struggling to coordinate your left and right hand sufficiently to get three notes out in the correct order.  But everybody has to start at the beginning.  Everybody has to practice, practice, practice before they are a master of the art.  Decluttering is no different.

It does become easier.  Trust me, you will come to a point when you are instinctively picking up things that you don’t want or need and putting them in the charity bag or recycling.

Let go of guilt.  Just because it was a gift or a family heirloom does not mean that you have to keep it.  Offer the latter to somebody else in the family to caretake if it will cause a ruction.  So you bought a dress and have never worn it but keep it because you feel you must.  Don’t.  Let it go.  Sell it on eBay BNWT!

Space is beautiful.  The things you love can shine when they are bordered by space, space in itself is something to love and cherish.

Don’t clutter it up the space.  My entire summer wardrobe fits in less space than my shirts used to take up.  My bookshelves contain books I want to read.  I know every shoe I possess, I no longer open a shoe box and look at the contents with surprise.

As I decluttered my belongings I decluttered my mind.  Now I can’t promise that this is true for everyone or that the two were actually connected.  I suffer from acute  and severe depression, the kind where all is well and suddenly for no apparent reason the lights are all turned off.  I made an active decision after a particularly nasty attack that I was going to think differently.  Thus it is quite possible that  my mind declutter is down to that.  Either way.  This year  I have gone from unsure what to do with my life stay at home mum to published author with a second book in the works; professional tarot reader; workshop facilitator and have plans for a small handmade toiletry collection.  As I decluttered I became more focused.  The things I focussed on were not those that I had expected but I am loving life and have big plans for the future.

Not everyone likes it.  A bit like losing weight and discovering that not all your friends are as keen on the new you.  I have been told all sorts of reasons why “they” can’t do it; why “they” could never let go of books (heaven forbid!) and so forth.  Maybe they really can’t or maybe they are jealous.  Whatever the reason it has nothing to do with me so I shall continue my path.

I have discovered my own style.  As I have let go of things that I didn’t like, need or want I have discovered a style that is mine and I like it.

I have made some amazing friends and some incredible business contacts.  I have discovered crossovers and potential joint projects with people I probably would never have met had I not started, and gone public with this journey.

I have more time.  I can’t explain this one, I still live in the same house, I still have the same family.  Perhaps it is more that I am more mindful of my time, I don’t fritter it away.  As I am only keeping things I cherish I am learning to cherish my time as well.

And finally, I did it because I wanted to.  You have to want to.

 

 

 

 

 

101 things you could let go of right now

I love lists.  Don’t you?  That immensely satisfying feeling as you cross off the things you have done.  Decluttering is perfect for list makers.  You can break up the clutter by room, by cupboard, by person, by subject area.  Oddly enough, I have done none of these things.  I have just started in one part of the house and worked my way round, over and over again.  Then I came across this blog by Joshua Becker 101 Physical That Can Be Reduced In Your Home .  Oh the joys, I am so doing this today.  I have already crossed off those things I have already reduced to the bare minimum or we don’t have.  But so much more to go.  I’m all fired up and ready to give the remaining clutter the heave ho.

Could you take this list round your home?  How much could you cross off today?

  1. Glassware
  2. Cookbooks
  3. Kitchen gadgets
  4. Kitchen appliances
  5. Pots / pans
  6. Mixing bowls
  7. Tupperware
  8. Water pitchers
  9. Magazines
  10. Newspapers
  11. Books
  12. Over-the-counter medicine
  13. Make-up
  14. Barretts / hair clips / ponytail holders
  15. Cleaning supplies
  16. Personal beauty appliances (hair dryer/curlers, electric razors)
  17. Bottles of shampoo/conditioner
  18. Photos
  19. Photography supplies
  20. Sewing supplies
  21. Craft supplies
  22. Scrap-booking supplies
  23. CD’s
  24. DVD’s
  25. Decorative items
  26. Candles
  27. Figurines
  28. Crystal
  29. Vases
  30. Audio/visual components
  31. Audio/visual cables
  32. Computer equipment
  33. MP3 players
  34. Furniture
  35. Video game systems
  36. Vdeo games
  37. Video game accessories
  38. Shirts / shorts
  39. Pants
  40. Coats
  41. Dresses
  42. Hats
  43. Clothes hangers
  44. Shoes
  45. Winter gear
  46. Jewelry
  47. Purses
  48. Coins
  49. Pillows
  50. Towels
  51. Linen sets
  52. Candle Holders
  53. Televisions
  54. Items on your bulletin board
  55. Magnets
  56. Artwork
  57. Mirrors
  58. Home office supplies
  59. Pens/pencils
  60. Old batteries
  61. Tools
  62. Hardware
  63. Rolls of duct tape
  64. Coolers
  65. Manuals
  66. Phone books
  67. Coupons
  68. Sporting good supplies
  69. Sports memorabilia
  70. Aluminum cans
  71. Glass bottles
  72. Automobile fluids
  73. Automobiles
  74. Scrap pieces of lumber
  75. Brooms
  76. Rakes
  77. Shovels
  78. Garden tools
  79. Plant containers
  80. Empty cardboard boxes
  81. Board games
  82. Puzzles
  83. Decks of cards
  84. Unused wedding gifts
  85. Baby clothes
  86. Baby supplies
  87. Old schoolbooks/papers
  88. Army men
  89. Bath toys
  90. Toy balls
  91. Toy cars/trucks
  92. Toy musical instruments
  93. Stuffed animals
  94. Plastic toys
  95. Childrens’ old school papers
  96. Suitcases
  97. Soda
  98. Alcohol
  99. Processed foods
  100. Christmas / seasonal decorations
  101. Cable channels

clutter causes frustration, please pull over and allow me to chuck you out

frustration

Those of you who have spent any time on the A9 will be familiar with these signs.  In my experience they have little effect and I have spent hours in a high state of frustration behind a slow moving vehicle.  However that is a whole different story.

Were you to walk into my house tomorrow you would, in the light of this blog, to discover a minimalist, clear lined, almost empty house.  Sadly you would be disappointed.  Despite the enormous amount of stuff we have rehomed there is still far more than we need.  Over the past few days I have seen things out of the corner of my eye that I wanted out.  So today I did Operation Quick and Dirty.

In the space of a ten  minute dash around the house I accumulated all of this.

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Sobering isn’t it?

clothes statistics

It’s end of the month time,  those of you with a mathematical bent will be longing for this post.  This is the sequel to the statistic in the wardrobe,  today you are getting another rip-roaring romp through my wardrobe.

This is the basis of my wardrobe for the next three months.  I can, and no doubt will add and subtract here and there.  But after two months of clothes analysis I think this is the core.

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This is how they look hanging up.

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Including what I am wearing today that makes 27 items.  I have not included shoes because for the most part I wear the same fit flops or Toms all summer.

This is how I got there.

This month I have worn more of my wardrobe, a total of 48 items compared to 40 last  month, but blue has been toppled by gray.

I wore:

  • 11 tops 18 times
  • 8 bottoms 20 times
  • 8 dresses 12 times
  • 6 cardigans 13 times
  • 5 scarves 9 times
  • 10 pairs of shoes 23 times

I must have forgotten to record some shoes because though I do spend most of my day barefoot, I do usually put something on my feet when I walk out of the house!

The colour analysis is dominated by gray, but I have managed to inject a little more colour this month

  • Gray 22
  • Blue 18
  • Red 11
  • Green 5
  • Purple 4
  • White 4
  • Cream 1
  • Pink 1
  • Brown 1

But by far the most interesting figures are the comparison between one month and the next.  As the weather has been pretty consistent they should be fairly comparable

I wore 5 tops, 5 bottoms, 5 dresses and 3 cardigans both months.  Those items were worn a whopping 84 times over the past two months with the highest wearage going to an ancient pale blue jersey wrap which was worn 12 times during April and May.

So isolating the clothes I wore most and adding in those I know go with the core items and I love (no good if I don’t love them, I won’t wear them and they should be on the way out anyway)  I have my reverse approach to Project 333.

 

life is easier without clutter

I was talking with my mother earlier today and the conversation inevitably came around to decluttering.  The area in question being her wardrobe.  She maintains that there is nothing in her wardrobe that the doesn’t like nor anything that doesn’t fit.  On the other hand there is enough in there for her to  have just taken out several boxes of clothes because the wardrobe was full.  It is not a small wardrobe.

That freaked me out.  The idea of having that many clothes was scary. I love the fact that it doesn’t take me ages to get dressed in the morning.  I love the fact that I have discovered tops and bottoms that I would never have thought of putting together look fabulous.  I love the fact that I am much better at layering and thus don’t need so many jumpers (even in the north of England).

So I began to think of other areas where decluttering has actually made my life easier.

The kitchen.  I never have to clean a finickety garlic press, it’s long gone, I grate garlic now.  I am seriously wondering about keeping my Kenward Chef.  I rarely use it.  Today I made Bakewell tart and homemade custard for supper.  I did the whole thing by hand and with a hand held beater.  I would never have bothered to make pudding if I had to get out the Kenward and then wash all the bits up.  I make bread by hand because I enjoy the process.  The yoghurt maker died and I discovered I could make yoghurt just as easily without it.  The kettle died so we started using our stove top one on the aga and/or the hob.  Just as quick.  Leave it on the side of the aga and the water is always warm and there is a nice space on the kitchen surface where the kettle used to be.

The knicker drawer!  I cleared out every single item  of underwear other than recently purchased bras that fit and knickers that I wouldn’t mind being caught wearing if I was run over by a bus.  To the latter I added 4 pairs of bamboo knickers that I adore and with which I  will be replacing all current incumbants as they wear out.  Early mornings are so much easier when there are only five pairs of knickers and a couple of bras in your drawer.

The compost bin.  The kitchen compost bin has been replaced by a smaller one and the garden compost bin moved closer to the house.  Net result nobody minds emptying the compost.  That is a BIG result in our house.

Books.  Having got rid of books I had held onto for all sorts of reasons, but books I was never going to read again I have discovered some gems that was hidden behind all the rest.  Books I had forgotten I had bought but have loved reading …. and passing on.

Oddly enough the area I was most scared about decluttering.  The area where I thought I needed all those bits and pieces was the kitchen.  That has proved to be the area where decluttering has been the most productive.