decluttering, rEArranging, simplifying

rEArranging…the magazines

 

When we had the flood at the cottage in Scotland (for any new readers click here) I was quite pleased to find that my collection of Coast magazines had survived undamaged.  I always looked forward to the walk along the beach to the village store to buy my copy and buying local helps keep the shop running as it is the only one left now (the Post Office closed down last year and is now part of the general store) and it is 15 miles into the nearest town.  As we have never had a TV there I would read and reread each copy on an evening whilst listening to the radio.

Since the flood it seemed a bit pointless buying the magazine any more and to be honest I haven’t really missed it as a lot of the features are just repeated like any other magazine so I thought long and hard about why I was hanging on to this great stack of old magazines going back to 2005 and I couldn’t really come up with a good enough answer to warrant keeping them.

I had already taken any useful coastal gardening features out a while ago, as these were the most interesting articles for me, the recipes were mainly for cooking fish (and as you know I am vegetarian), and I had also torn out any decorating ideas that might inspire me in the future.  I decided that if I needed any of the information in the future about the featured Seaside towns and walks or seabirds and animal life I could always find something in other places like the internet or local library so last night I sat and poured through each one, pulled out any remaining features that I might want to refer to…

 

Coast Magazine

and here they are all ready for the charity shop or recycle bin.

Down Your way

I kept half a dozen of the earliest copies together with a handful of local magazines called Down Your Way which have nostalgic contributions written by Yorkshire folk and my mum always likes to read these when she visits.

Coast Magazine

The old Lloyd Loom bedside cabinet now housed on the mezzanine of the newly decorated bedroom has a handy ledge to display my much reduced but more manageable collection.

I actually feel quite relieved that I do not have to find a space to store all those magazines now and it is another step on my way to a simplified life.

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organising, rEArranging

rEArranging…organising the sewing projects

When we decorated the mezzanine bedroom recently we put in new shallow wardrobes and one side has become my linen cupboard with a drawer reserved for my sewing projects and fabrics.  I am determined to use up these fabrics over time and finish the half-started projects, it is just a matter of making some time.  As I was going through and decluttering the pile I finished two simple ones in about 30 minutes which was quite encouraging  as they had been hanging around for ages – you can read about it here.

It is so much nicer to be able to pull open a drawer (rather than rummaging in a storage box) and see at a glance my fabric collection and even the half-started or half-finished projects depending on your point of view.  If I am feeling optimistic I would say they are half-finished but I am not sure that is strictly accurate anyway to get back to the organising – in an attempt to organise my sewing projects in some way I bought some large plastic Ziploc bags to separate and contain each of the half-started projects. The bags will allow me to keep all the necessary bits and pieces and patterns together and when I have the time I can just select the project I want to progress and in the meantime everything will remain in one place and stay clean.

The grey fabric with the cute printed hens is actually a tea-towel set I bought from Sainsbury’s ages ago with the intention of making a tea cosy.

Projects

The bag to the right contains a knitted cushion cover that my mum made for me last year but needs sewing together and the bag at the top left contains the surplus bunting flags from the wedding (2 miles of bunting for the marquee seemed adequate – you can view it here), but I intend to go ahead and make up the left overs into bunting with a view to selling or hiring it out.  Lastly, the final bag has some Christmas fabric and the pattern to make more stockings now that our immediate family has expanded – I am aiming for this Christmas – we shall see!

I decided that if I keep one project at a time in sight and near to hand it will (might) encourage me to pick it up and deal with it but I was not keen on having a ‘pile of stuff’ developing in a corner of our living room.  A basket or crate didn’t seem to be the answer  – I have various ones in various sizes but none seemed quite right so I was quite delighted when I came across this little cotton rope container in Next and I thought it was perfect to contain the project I am currently going to work on (the knitted cushion), and it is decorative enough to keep by me in the living room so I can dip in and out of it whilst watching TV.

Sewing basket

It is also a useful place I have found to keep my current Country Living magazine!

PS does anyone know the best way to sew a knitted cushion together – do you make a small seam allowance like with fabric?  Answers on a postcard please!

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

 

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

 

 

 

 

cleaning, decluttering, decorating, drEAming, general chit chat, homestEAding, nEAtening, 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.

decluttering, drEAming, fEAsible, financial focusing, general chit chat, managEAble, organising, rEArranging, trEAsury

tackling the paperwork mountain…

I am not used to working Thursdays now so it was a bit of a long week for me last week waiting until Friday for a day off work.  Due to the Birmingham visit on Tuesday  I had to work on Thursday which has recently become my cleaning day – so no cleaning done.  Dilemma then when I woke up on Friday morning – do I clean today instead or do the paperwork that is normally designated for Fridays.

 

The paperwork won!

It is a sit down job and I was quite tired by Friday morning so cleaning seemed far too energetic and I had a ‘ladies who lunch’ date with my friend which I knew would break up part of the day.

Surprisingly my desk was reasonably tidy and I got stuck in.  First job was to write a to do list – I now use Todoist as I can’t install Microsoft works on the Mac – it was the closest program to the one I had but not as good and I refuse to pay to upgrade to the premium service.  The list seemed never-ending in fact so long that even if I retired tomorrow I feel sure I would not get to the end.

So then I did a shorter version to capture the really urgent tasks but it still looks a bit daunting.

Having assembled a frightening list I then made a note of any upcoming appointments and put reminders in my diary.  I also checked the September birthdays and made a mental note to see if I can find suitable cards from my supply to save me buying any more.  I have more than enough blank cards in my craft cupboard and just need to find some time to make some and this would be a good economy as I spend far too much on cards over a year.

Then it was down to bill paying – the plumber for the recent radiator leak (yes I know more water problems),  the roofer (who has done a small repair for us to prevent a future leak) and Yorkshire Water for our water bill (it seems a little ironic that we have to pay so much for water when we seem to attract more than our fair share of free water into our lives in the form of leaks and floods!).

Whilst online transferring the payments I did a quick check of our bank statements to assess our situation.  We have of course spent quite a bit on paint and new furniture recently for the bedroom we have just decorated – I didn’t set a budget as such but I always know when something is more than we should be spending.  The wardrobes were our dearest item and then the drawers and the small bookcase but the two blinds were very reasonable at £16 and we made the wardrobe door handles.  The duvet cover with pillowslips only came as a pack of two at £32 making them £16 each, the fleecy throw was £4 and a few picture frames at £3 or £4 each.  Everything else we already had.

Within our usual day-to-day spending there is always room to economise more.  The dearest item by far this week was the petrol we bought for the journey to Birmingham.  My neighbour has recently been sent three Sainsbury’s 12p off petrol coupons,  I go there every week and they have not sent me or OH any – so feeling a trifle miffed about that.

I am however still taking packed lunches to work so saving a good £10 a week there even allowing for the extra food on the weekly shopping bill.  I have a £20 gift token for Boots so I will wait until there are offers on the brands I use or put it towards a new hairdryer – mine stopped working one day recently, the same week as the iron died on me!

We have just changed gas providers from Npower to EDF for a cheaper deal – the electricity is already on a reasonable fixed rate and with our BT line we pay up front for the year which is cheaper and try not to go over the hour with our calls which are free for the first 60 minutes – difficult when you have 2 daughters, a mother and a sister (and not forgetting my brother) who all like a long chat.  I will just have to start keeping the timer by the phone and cut them off after 55 minutes!

As I can’t reduce most of the bills any further I can only look to the housekeeping and transport costs – food, petrol, cleaning and toiletries to make more savings.

 

Over the rest of the weekend I extended sorting the paperwork to a mammoth session of decluttering and streamlining the files in the office.  I am not sure where the mountain of paper came from to throw out but the files are so much lighter now.  There is far too much paper to shred – I can’t put it in the recycle bin as too much sensitive information so we will take it on holiday with us to Scotland and have a bonfire at the cottage.

 

So after my sorting out session everything is in order and up to date,  I even managed to set up the log in account for my new workplace pension.  We have always preferred the ethical funds for OH’s pension where we have been given a choice and it has performed well over the years so I was pleased to find I could choose an ethical one with our workplace pension provider.  I am not sure I will accrue very much between now and retirement but I won’t be refusing the ‘free’ money paid in by my employer and the government as every little helps!

My next job is my heap (I exaggerate not here) of magazine cuttings – I am not sure why I find such a pleasure in hoarding articles and pictures torn from magazines.  I spend time neatly filing them into folders – all subjects – gardening, craft, health, decorating ideas, recipes etc but now I have a whole shelf full of files dedicated to magazine cuttings plus the heap waiting to be filed.

I realise I have a problem and as an example of how chronic my addiction is I have articles on health issues I don’t even suffer with…well not yet anyway!   I have more diets than I could possibly try out and more craft ideas than I would even want to attempt – after all why would I want to crotchet a hot water bottle cover really when I can’t even crotchet!  In my perfect life I might consider it but when it takes me all my time to go to work, shop, cook and clean a crotchet hot water bottle cover is probably on the end of my do to list.  (Just checking I did add this on to the end of my list!)

So I am resolving to be ruthless – my OH is not convinced – he knows me and my cuttings well!  Watch this space…