decluttering, decorating, drEAming, general chit chat, homestEAding, rEArranging, simplifying

slow progress…

As you can tell I have been having a bit of a play around on my blog and fancied a bit of a change – a bit like decorating.  I will be updating my blogroll as a lot of the sites I used to follow are sadly no more or do not blog anymore.  There seems to be quite a few people who have given up recently and I really enjoyed their blogs but I can understand the time pressures of life get in the way and I think once you have a gap it is hard to get back into the routine of blogging – I know this from experience having had a good year off in 2016.  One of the hardest parts is not so much writing on your own blog but having to catch up with the news on everyone else’s.  So much had happened in that year.

I am continuing my quest for a simplified life and continuing the good sort out at home – and I am loving it every time I declutter a space I feel a sense of the whole place feeling lighter and more manageable.  I even felt I needed to do my blog as well and perhaps get rid of any clutter that has collected here so you may see things disappearing along the tabs as these have never worked for me  – I may keep the craft tab as it is a record of the few things I manage to make at Christmas.

As I am simplifying and trying to pare down to the bare minimum we need (or really want to keep in the case of items that are more sentimental than useful) I am starting to ‘beautify’ each area.  I am not sure this is the right descriptive word for what I am doing but it is close enough.  In essence I am looking at each space I clear and the decorative quality of how my possessions are displayed and how it makes me and the room feel.

Rather than going out shopping for anything new I am firstly shopping at home – reviewing what I already have then swapping things around a bit, putting decorative items together in different rooms.

Our new ‘guest room’ is coming along slowly but progress is being made and we are still planning that it will be ready in November for my mum’s visit to go Christmas shopping.  OH has now dismantled the 1980’s MFI mirrored sliding wardrobes and a very nice man has been to measure up to fit new ones which will also have sliding doors because of the tight space.

I was amazed at how much bigger the room looks without the wardrobes but wardrobes are a bit of a necessity and this is the only place that is suitable to put them.  They will be slightly shorter in width but slightly deeper in-depth and so we have had to move the double socket a bit more to the right and then repair the wall.  Whilst doing this a new double socket has been added on the other end of the same wall and the bed will fit comfortably between them.  We have also had the single socket on the window wall made into a double.  Six sockets should surely be enough for anyone and any amount of technology/electrical appliances in the future.

Sockets

With that job done we are now moving on to filling the holes and cracks.  There is, I can assure you, a Polyfilla for any job – fine cracks, big holes, cracks that have movement – I think we have got the whole Pollyfilla range in the garage!

Decorator's Caulk

I had been undecided on the colours I would have for this room – the base colour will be the same soft pale grey of the previous room.  The wardrobes are also grey but slightly deeper than the walls and the accent colour I first thought of was a blue probably duck egg maybe turquoise or teal, however, I have had a big change of heart and I have now settled on a soft vintage pale blush colour and natural linen.

I still intend to keep the room in a Scandinavian style but with a tiny bit of blingy metallic added here and there.  Sparkle is not my usual style but will suit my mum – she is not a blue fan either but loves that dusky pink colour so I think she will like the room when it is finished.  Whilst in TK Max the other day I came across some pretty pink and grey patterned storage boxes which have a silver strip across the lid closure and go perfectly with my chosen colour palette.  I also came away with a candle in a pink tinged silver jar.

I am now looking for a bedside table of modest price – I came across a rather unusual Scandinavian style retro ones on the Sue Ryder site but they are not the right colours.

So I continue to browse around.

Have a good week everyone x

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements
drEAming, fEAsible, general chit chat, taking stock, wEAlth

expanding time, expanding work…

Even though I have four days off work now I seem to struggle to get everything done in the house that I would normally have done in the 3 days I had before.

This suggests to me that Parkinson’s Law “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” has some truth in it!

It may be down to the fact that having more time has allowed me to do each task in some depth – whether it is the mountain of paperwork or the dusting each job now is being done very thoroughly and at last I can see the paperwork pile reducing to the point where I will be working on the ‘stuff’ that I receive during the week – rather than working on last week’s, or last months or longer.

I have been doing more than my set 2 hours recently on the financial tasks and what I term ‘paperwork’ as we have got a few important items to attend to which require careful reading and even more careful decisions – ones that will affect us financially long-term – I don’t know about you but I find these quite difficult.  If I say the word Pensions you will probably know what I mean.

Gradually I have cleared out a lot of old papers from the files and I have reached the point where I am completely up to date with the filing and can now do it as I go along.  I have also spent quite a few hours entering receipts and logging our spending on our Money Program on the computer.  Every account is now fully balanced and the advantage of this program is that I can run reports that will tell me how much I am spending each week in any given category – it would even tell me in which shops I spend the most money – the possibilities are endless!

When I have gathered all the information I can begin to look at making any reductions and adjustments. I am expecting a few shocks when I see the totals so far for the year.  Spending the odd fiver a week on something can add up to quite a lot over the year.  Items like magazines are typical of this kind of spending (even though I believe I have been very good recently and picked them up and then put them back on the shelf again one or two have accidentally fallen into my trolley!).  And then there are birthday cards and gifts this is always a category where the figures creep up but I have managed to buy some nice gifts at very reasonable bargain prices.

I know our food spending is working out at about £50 a week – we eat well usually in the sense that we buy as much organic food as we can and a lot of fruit and vegetables and make a good many of our meals from scratch (though this does not necessarily mean we always make healthy meals!).  When pushed for time we will often compromise and buy the main bit of the meal ready-made like Nut Cutlets and add a plateful of vegetables.

With more attention to our menu planning I know I could reduce this by another £10 easily.  I have noticed that the price for having a drink or lunch out is creeping up and although it is a nice treat now and again it does add up to quite an amount over the year.

I have some additional points vouchers for Sainsbury’s for items that I would usually buy which is good and I was handed another 5 x points voucher this evening to put towards my full shop next week.  So my total rewards value now stands at £101.44 which I am saving towards Christmas or one of their double up events if they run it again this year in November.

Stay tuned for my next update. x

drEAming, general chit chat, getting things done, managEAble, rEArranging, simplifying

decluttering my inbox…

My intention today was to have a really good clean in the house but by the time we had seen the man who came to measure up for our new sliding wardrobes in what will be the guest room, when we have decorated it, the urge to get scrubbing had waned and I became sidetracked by checking my emails.

Then somehow I have managed to spend most of the afternoon clearing out old emails from my inbox all 755 and doing a bit of reorganising of folders.  I now have zero emails in my inbox (but that won’t last long) and anything that needs some further consideration is in a follow-up folder at the top of the folder list.  I have fifteen follow-up items to deal with, some of which require an email answer.  Anything I need to keep goes into an appropriate folder.

I have also unsubscribed from a number of those emails that arrive in my inbox and I find that I never open them – just delete them – but often they begin to stack up if I don’t log in to read my emails everyday and especially when we are at the cottage and do not have an internet connection.

I actually feel much better in myself for doing this task – it was prompted by something I read yesterday in the book How to Get Things Done by Richard Templar

Basically he suggests that you don’t work a week behind and gave emails as a prime example.  You can deal with today’s emails or last Wednesday’s emails it takes the same amount of time but one keeps you on top of the game and is more efficient.

 

This made absolute sense to me as I find I am often reading last weeks emails and sometimes last months.  In the big clear out I unexpectedly found an email received in August and still unread from my insurance company which had got lost amongst the many subscription emails that come in daily.

So now with less junk I should be able to spot the requests for the meter readings or the insurance renewal more easily.

Yes, I definitely feel good tonight after that major declutter- all I need to do now is make sure I leave 10 to 15 minutes a day to check on my inbox and read and deal with the new items.

I am looking at other areas of my life where I might be working a week behind – do you have this problem?

Have a good weekend. x

 

 

 

 

crEAting, drEAming, general chit chat, getting things done, managEAble

the best things come in small packages…

I have quite a few birthdays in October – all friends –  and we give each other gifts that are modest in price about £5 to £8.  I usually find bits and pieces in some of the gift shops in Scotland and buy them as I see them and stash them away.

On Sunday I had a mammoth wrapping session it felt a bit like Christmas.  I like to make my modest gifts look tempting and I wrap them with care taking time to choose the paper and ribbons I think appropriate.  I often use printed tissue paper for those awkward shaped items.

I have one of those paper punch shape cutters that produces a tiny label.  I decorate these in different ways in this picture I have used some little rubber stamp pictures.  I also cut up cards for labels as it is such a shame to throw old birthday cards away.

I found the coffee coloured spotty paper in Sainsbury’s it comes on a roll and is good to keep on hand as it is useful for any occasion.

 

Here they are all ready to go with the appropriate cards.

It always feels good to have things organised and I feel quite pleased with myself that this month at least I won’t have to think about rushing around getting gifts and cards sorted out at the last minute.  Oh… if all my life was like this!

beach cottage, bEAching, cottage garden, drEAming, general chit chat, mEAndering, sEAsons

what we didn’t do on our holidays…

Hello – I’m back – well I have been back at home for over a week but soooo busy that blogging has not been an option for me.

To say I was a little disappointed on holiday is probably an understatement.  All was going to plan, we got off on time and ambled our way up country stopping for lunch and tea and arriving at the cottage early evening.  After a good nights sleep we had a lovely day in the garden the following day with the sun shining down on us and the sea so calm with a beautiful silvery cast and then the next day it happened – my back went into spasm, I couldn’t move and I spent the rest of the holiday in pain and discomfort unable to do any gardening!! We also had to abandon the visit we had planned to go up to the Cowal Open Studios at Dunoon. (Sorry we missed you Freda if you are reading this).

OH plodded on as best he could all week in the garden trying to do as much as he could inbetween the rain and the cooking.

One or two of you asked me to bring back some pictures of the garden so I thought I would show you the progress so far to the stream bank.

Remember the flood – this was the original view at the bottom of our garden with the little wooden bridge.

After the flood we were then left with this gaping void where the sea had taken not only the bridge but a slice of both our garden on the right of the picture and the farmers land on the left.

This is what it looked like back in January this year (looking from the other direction) when the engineering work had been completed and the boundary of our garden re-established using gabion baskets to form a stable edge and then black mesh laid over to create a more natural looking banking.

This is how it looks today – the grasses and wild flowers are beginning to grow back through the black mesh and the gaping void we were left with is narrower and much less obvious now and… we have grass – you can hardly call it a lawn but it looks better than the mud heap we had up until Easter.

There were pockets of colour dotted here and there in the garden – the bright orange of the nasturtiums and Monbretia, the glossy red berries and hips and the bobbing white daisy heads of the chamomile, and of course the Hydrangeas and White Anemones.

 

 

We had bought a pond cover to install over our pond to try to minimise the amount of leaves that fall into the pond at this time of year.  It was not an easy thing to put together and seemed to have a few basic design faults which added to the frustration, but it is now in place so we will have to see how it goes.

On my only day in the garden we managed to clear a patch and sow the grass seed where we wanted to extend the lawn on the wood side garden.  Once this has taken we will plant a few shade loving shrubs along the banking to give it some structure.  I am not sure the netting is going to keep out the wood pigeons.

 

Whilst indisposed for most of the holiday there was little to do (with no internet or TV) other than read.  I had taken a number of library books and one in particular I found quite thought-provoking and I will come back to this another day as the ideas are quite useful.  I also made use of this time reading all the diet and health articles I had clipped from my pile of magazines and taken with me on holiday. I learnt a lot and will be putting my findings into practice over the next few weeks and will share this with you.

On the last evening after having been straightened out by the local osteopath ready for the journey home the next day we celebrated with a meal out at Henry’s in Stranraer and then took a detour on the way back to the cottage to Portpatrick a delightful little harbour village.  The white-painted Harbour Masters cottage by the lighthouse with its mustard yellow window mullions and contrasting blue shutters (that are often tight shut against the winter storms) is one of my favourite houses.

As the day was drawing to an early close I captured the last of the sun setting over the Irish sea.

 

Back at home it has been a busy week and a half as we have been going up and down to North Yorkshire on my days off to help my younger daughter move.   She is now renting a place further away from Masham but this one has central heating and double glazing.

Luckily my back has fully recovered and I have been scrubbing cookers (she has two – an oil-fired Rayburn which they have had difficulty keeping lit and the back up electric oven in the adjoining laundry room).  I have no idea how to work a Rayburn but I hear they have already made pancakes so must have overcome the lighting problems.

I am ever hopeful that one day they will be able to afford their own home but the prices in the area are far too high for first time buyers.  Each time she rents we end up fixing things that really the landlord should be doing but typically never do.

At work it has been a round of appraisals and notice of forthcoming changes that will be implemented soon.  Since the appointment recently of two new directors we have been told to expect plenty of change.  On average I believe we have had some kind of change every three months for the past 3 years even before the new directors!  As they say nothing ever stays the same and the family feel our firm once boasted has now disappeared.  I meet people in the corridor and I don’t even know they are new employees.

Onwards and upwards.  I need to have a good catch up with everyone now.

 

clEAning, decluttering, decorating, drEAming, general chit chat, homestEAding, rEArranging, simplifying

weekly review – more cleaning and clearing

A normal week this week so I finished work on Wednesday night and then did a bit of a shop in Sainsbury’s taking advantage of any items on offer – so now one of those huge 1kg tubs of Lurpack butter sits in my fridge as it was the only one available on offer and I never buy butter at full price.

Last time this happened we got the butter dish out of the cupboard and kept decanting slabs of butter into it.  It is actually quite nice to have a proper butter dish on the table and the saving on buying the very large size is really good at 60p for 100 grams against 75p per 100 grams for the smaller size – I might buy this size again even though it almost fills a shelf by itself!

When I came to put the food away I was too tired to do any more than just pushing it in where it would fit with the intention of sorting it out later so my first job on Thursday morning was cleaning and sorting the two fridges.

We have a small under the counter one in the kitchen now 30 years old and showing its age but still going strong and a larger one in the laundry room where we keep our vegetables, salad and fruit.  We invested in this a few years ago because our veg goes off quickly in either the kitchen or the garage.  I still store potatoes and onions in the garage though.

Whilst sorting and cleaning I decided to wash and chop some of the veg and put it into bags so that it will be ready when we want to make a meal.

I don’t usually do this but the idea came to me because we already pre-prepare a large bowl of mixed fresh fruit for our breakfast and salad for our lunch or my packed lunches.

 

So I prepared Leeks, Celery and Spring onions as I find these most time-consuming.

I keep the prepared salad in these ‘handy’ containers  – I nickname it our ‘Salad Bar’  – the deep one with 3 sections is great to take any combination of radish, cucumber, tomatoes, grated carrot, peppers etc but I would never put the chopped spring onions or beetroot in here as they would end up making the container smell or stain.  The larger square container has a plastic rack that sits on the bottom to keep the lettuce crisp and fresh and it does seem to work.

…and voila all sorted!  If this works I might try to pre prepare a lot more of our veg now I have a bit more time at home.

 

Whilst in the kitchen I moved on to cleaning the herb and spice rack.  My collection of four little chickens had become a trifle dusty and some of the herbs past their best by a few years.  I tend to use fresh herbs that have been frozen more than the dried ones so they end up well out of date before I get to the end and eventually smell and taste of very little.

 

I will need to replenish some of them and also buy some of the spices I will need for bonfire night and Christmas (I did whisper that word!).

There is something special about the taste and smell of the spices that mark this season – warming ginger for the Parkin and Ginger cake, mixed spice and cinnamon for the Christmas cake and cloves that will be used for my pomanders.

I always buy organic when I can but find that the Whole food shops sell it in bags that are far too big a quantity for us so I get the smaller packets from Waitrose.  As luck would have it a coupon has just dropped through my door for £10 off a £50 spend!  I shall make a list and maybe go on Saturday when we are out and about.

 

In between all this cleaning and clearing I managed to get our double mattress protector washed and hung on the line for a good blow before the next rain shower.

Whilst I was out in the garden I realised how much is still in flower even though summer is well and truly over.  I took a couple of pictures to capture the last of the colour – the vibrant red of the Kaffir lilies against the deep blue of the geraniums…

 

…and I just love the mustard yellow seed heads bobbing around with the finely cut Monbretia petals which are a softer orange than most and contrast well against the mauve of the hydrangea.

For anyone reading my last post about clippings these are my binders full of ideas – I even have one called Clippings – this is just a place to put any interesting newspaper and magazine articles about the area our cottage is in.  When we had the flood we hit the local newspapers!  One day soon I will go through them and try to reduce the amount.

 

 

If you have been following my recent decorating posts you will know we have just finished one bedroom and are about to start on the middle bedroom which belonged to my elder daughter and now used by my mum when she comes to stay.  So I thought I would show you the before pictures.  As you will see it is well overdue a complete overhaul.

The pictures are cheap ones bought when we ‘styled’ my mum in laws house to sell.  Rather than just take them straight to charity I put them up in here but they won’t be going back as they are not really my taste.  I might keep the silver frames and put new pictures in.

 

I am clearing the room bit by bit as the wardrobes are being dismantled to make way for new ones that will hopefully  be more space effective and only have two doors rather than three as at the moment there is always a bit you cannot get to easily creating pockets of wasted space.  Eventually this wardrobe will give mum some hanging space when she visits and hold our out of season clothes as we will be losing six drawers.

The two sets of Ikea drawers will be going up to my daughters new house with the single bed and mum will be getting a bigger double bed and this can then be used when either daughter and partners stay over too.

The retro nursing chair was my mum-in-laws – it was meant for the cottage so I am having to store it here now until the cottage is ready.  I am still undecided about keeping it, it needs recovering and estimates have been about £200.  Once we have the new bed the chair will not fit back in here so I need to make a decision soon.

Tomorrow we will be resuming our hunt for reasonably priced sliding doors – I am really out of touch with prices for furniture but the estimates we have been given seem far too high for a spare bedroom.  The ones we are removing were less than £90 from MFI in early nineties!  They have to be sliding doors as there isn’t enough room for opening doors in this room.

Well that is my update hope your weekend goes well.

drEAming, general chit chat, rEArranging

my love affair with clipping…

Thank you for the lovely comments on my last post with a few helpful suggestions which are noted about dealing with my affliction addiction.

I have been trying to think why I like my clippings so much – I suppose they are like my best friends, a bit like my Journals, they are a visual representation of who I am and what I like or aspire to just like my Journals are a written record of my life – I don’t think I could ever be paperless as much as I might want to be to save the environment.

It would be my one minimalist stumbling block.  I think I am beyond help.

Another reason is I hate waste and I would only buy a magazine if there are features that catch my eye or an article or two I might want to read.  The only regular magazine I have is by a subscription to Country Living magazine (a regular Christmas present from my OH) and I am trying hard to economise and avoid buying additional magazines as I feel bad that I have to eventually throw them away and that feels like a waste of money.  With the cost of a magazine these days I find it can be more costs effective to buy a cheap book in the Works to satisfy a sudden urge I might have.

My clipping habit started years ago when still a teenager with my 60’s Petticoat magazine.  I would tear out pictures of the latest fashion I liked and articles on beauty routines.  This then continued as a  fashion student at art college always tearing out bits and pieces that would generate future ideas.  Then when we bought our first house I bought magazines for decorating and gardening features.

One idea from Alys at Gardening Nirvana is to use Pinterest to cut down the amount of clippings.  Good tip Alys –  I do use Pinterest as well to capture interesting bits and pieces and  I agree it is a good way to keep ideas and not have to provide the storage room that clippings demand I should use it more perhaps and buy less magazines in future.

But I am definitely an old-fashioned paper girl too – I don’t have a Kindle because I like to hold a book in my hands – there is something very tactile about the feel of books like the feel of cloth.

 

Once a week I love nothing better than to browse the lengthy magazine aisle in Sainsbury’s before I start the weekly shop and this is where I might be tempted to select something that appeals.  It might be anything from Top Sante to Self Build, Coast to English Garden or even our local magazine called Down your Way with memorable and humorous stories of people’s lives in Yorkshire in past decades.

So when I have a pile of magazines that I have read I go through and first of all pull out the recipes, then any gardening features that I want to keep – (in Coast magazine they are useful because they feature other people’s seaside gardens), then I might tear out any decorating ideas for future reference it might be anything from a cushion to a paint colour or furniture.  On the way through I might see something for my craft folder or save an article on improving my diet and health.   After this I clip snippets of information on new products like supplements or face creams that have been tried and tested.  From the Woman’s Weekly my mum passes on I save those crossword puzzles at the back to do at the cottage as we do not have ready-made entertainment like a TV!

Finally, after all that clipping I tear off the very front or back cover on a glossy magazine and I use these to punch out multi coloured butterflies and flower shapes to make my recycled paper cards.

Tania at Frugal in Essex mentions that she uses her smart phone so I will take this on board Tania though I will have to find mine first.  I will do anything on a computer – at work I train colleagues on our softwear programs and am called on to solve a range of technical issues but phones and me have yet to gel in the same way.

Lyn at Everyday Life – sounds like we are on the same page as far as magazines and cuttings – next time you have a throw out throw them my way.