hot off the labeller…

After all the decluttering, reorganising and reshuffling of the last few days I have everything labelled to perfection – even my dear hubby –  (though he doesn’t fit neatly into any of my storage boxes)!  You can imagine what he has to say about my labelling but for all his jokes he is able to find things and more importantly put them away afterwards.  I actually quite enjoyed myself – sad I know!

 

Labelled Storage

 

Most of the garage is done now and we can actually move about in there and find things.  We have a few things to sell, a few to give away and a few to mend or just attend to.  So we started a jobs tray for me (see below) and a jobs box (much larger) for OH.

This is as it stands today:-

  • drill a hole in the bottom of the decorative hanging bird feeder – a present from 5 years ago and still waiting a drainage hole.
  • hammer the parasol holder into the ground by the patio
  • Glue the pottery ducks beak on – obviously it is not frost proof as it drops off each winter – a gift from my mum – he is hidden behind the ivy at the moment!
  • replace the socket in the office
  • Screw in the vine eye hooks to the fence for the climber
  • add the wire
  • plant the Xmas tree
  • feed and weed the lawn with one of the 4 boxes of lawn feed!
  • clean the copper rings with Brasso
  • clean the brass plant mister with Brasso

During the clear out I came across the drawer with flower arranging tools.  I am not a flower arranger  – I generally go for the just picked and put in a vase natural look but occasionally I have made gifts with flowers and so I keep a drawer with a few tools, tapes and florist wires.  The vintage flower frog below was discovered amongst my mother in-law’s things and I decided to keep it.  She used to go to flower arranging classes.  I may never use it but somehow it reminds me of her and how creative she was and it is such a delightful little object and packaged in its own charming little box.Flower arranging tools

Vintage flower frog

 

Some items from the shed that are not affected by the weather have had to be rehoused in the garden.  Not knowing where to store my terracotta pots, some of which are vintage from my dads garden shed, I searched around and found this handy little place inside my Victorian cloche that belonged to my father in law.

Terracotta pots

It is a few years since I grew any vegetables – I gave up my little plot, which is now flower bed, a few years ago when I began working full-time.  Looking at all the lovely veg I see being grown on some of my favourite blogs I decided to buy a Courgette plant and grow it in one of my large pots. Courgette

 They are quite decorative vegetables and already I have flowers appearing with the beginnings of the Courgette behind them.  As I was too late for Sweet pea plants this year I also bought a few left over pea plants from a local nursery and have planted these into another pot with some willow stems for support.

Herb pot

The strawberry pot which again came from my dad’s garden has Chives and a few stray self seeded flowers

The Fence

Remember the fence saga – here is a catch up picture – the climbing hydrangea is blooming and once the wires are in place I can tie it back to the fence and hopefully by next year it will cover the mishmash of fencing and all will be well again.
Climbing Hydrangea

The Obelisk (which I previously called a Gazebo!! – it’s my age) is now in place and planted with Honeysuckle – Lonicera Scentsation  – cream and yellow flowers with a long flowering season and a wonderful scent.

Honeysuckle

Just in case you got the idea from my recent moan about the fence that we didn’t get on with our neighbours – well actually we are good friends and I can totally understand that he isn’t a gardener  – I am just a bit too precious over my plants!

Potted geraniums

As part of the garden tidy up I bought one or two summer bedding plants to put in pots – I do like these wooden crates such a shame they don’t last – I might line it with polythene and grow some herbs in it for the summer.

Birdhouse

The new bird house now has a zinc roof to protect it from the weather – another job off the list.

eating outdoors

After all our hard work we put up the parasol and had lunch outside – perfect.

How are you enjoying this warm spell?

Back soon x

 

declutter day 4…

The last four days have been quite a marathon and I am sitting here feeling quite exhausted thinking that somehow I will have to drag myself to work tomorrow and iron something to wear before going to bed.

OH will be in charge of dismantling the shed – yes at last it is empty and the contents re-homed one way or another.  We have little stacks of pots tucked in behind borders and under seats.  The plant foods are still in a container on the kitchen table waiting the first available space somewhere in the garage and the garden tools which I have cleaned and oiled have been transferred to a new rack of hooks on the garage wall.

We decided to go to town and buy the plastic boxes just to get the job off the list – these are now full of all the decluttered stuff that was in the cardboard boxes but at least now you can see at a glance what is inside.

I am quite pleased with our progress but as always I am concerned that we have accumulated so much stuff over the years and at what cost.  When I try to analyse it I can put each item into one of the following categories:

  • we have bought an item because at the time we needed one for some reason and either we still use it making it a very worthwhile purchase or we don’t use it making it a unecessary wasteful purchase.
  • we bought an item because we had to fix or maintain another item although we only needed a small amount or a part we could only buy the item packaged in a large amount or many parts thus producing waste that we have then stored as it seemed even more wasteful to throw it away – screws and the like fall into this category.
  • we didn’t buy the item but acquired it as a present or passed on from a family member (we have lots of these).
  • we liked the item when we bought it but our tastes have changed and it no longer appeals or the more modern versions are so much better
  • we bought a new item to replace an old one but then kept the old item as well (I did this with my iron but guess what – my newer one stopped working recently so boy was I glad that I had hung on to the old one just in case!)
  • we bought an item ready for some job we had planned to do – (an example of this would be the packs of additional parquee flooring for the kitchen / dining room but have since changed our minds -we even bought the tub of adhesive too!)

Whichever category the items fall in to it all makes for an awful lot of stuff.

My plan now is to go over the stuff once again as I find once I have reduced a pile I can often find more things to go out if I revisit it all again.

Once everything that is destined for the charity shop has gone we can make a start on the  boxful of items waiting mending and fixing – I am looking forward to this at it will make them usable again and out of storage.

Have a good week x

 

declutter day 3…

As is often the case when having a clear out one thing leads to another.  This morning I began tying up a few loose ends from my shed clearance  yesterday and then as it continues to rain moved my attentions to the garage so we can make some room to accommodate the excess shed fall out.

I started in the large cupboard  – one of the best value items in our house – bought from Ikea for my Gran in 1990 for around £55 and when we cleared out her council flat a couple of years later we thought it too good to leave.  We now make good use of it by keeping our household cleaners / cloths / shoe cleaning / adhesives / car cleaning and other similar items in here.

This is the picture before…

I took out items shelf by shelf, cleaned the shelf then put back the things we still need.

A few items had been put in the wrong place (not usually by me I might add) and one or two of the glues had gone hard (lids not secured) but generally the cupboard just needed a good clean and tidy – not a lot to get rid of in here but I may be able to make room to squeeze in some of the homeless garden products.

I must say when it comes to decluttering items in places like this I can honestly say that a can of grease or a tin of shoe polish hardly sparks the Kondo joy in me – more of a necessity I think than an item of beauty!

Most of our items are kept together in these Muji tubs – one of the best investments I have ever made.  I keep like things together such as the shoe cleaning kit, the oils and lubricants, cleaning cloths, adhesives tapes, bin bags and various cleaners and I can label them clearly so that even my better half can find what he is looking for quickly (this being the operative word!)

I store all those numerous household cleaners in this cupboard that are used infrequently, such as carpet cleaner (for spills), oven cleaner, leather cleaner, and the ‘you name it I probably have it’ cleaner.  The every day cleaners are kept to hand in the cupboard space under my kitchen sink.

I also store the large packets of washing powder I buy when on offer on the bottom shelf and then decant into smaller containers to keep near to where they are used.

These reused Vanish tubs are also useful for storing cleaning powders and brillo pads.

 

and after…

Ahh that’s neater…

Part way through the cupboard clear out OH appeared and so I asked him (not only to put the kettle on) but to look through all the things in other parts of the garage that I can’t make decisions on.

We always seem to have unidentifiable bits and pieces lying around so he has now (for a quiet life) gathered up and sorted through his piles of computer cables, plumbing bits and the like and grouped them together.

We now have a nice little pile for the charity shop, a big bag of rubbish and those bits and pieces have been identified, labelled and a place found for them.

All I need to do now to finish todays clear out is relabel some of the Muji containers then buy 2 or 3 larger plastic see through storage boxes with lids to replace the worn cardboard ones to store those electrical and plumbing parts and endless computer cables (even though when we need to connect something we never have quite the right one).

There are a few repair jobs and one or two of those getting round to it jobs for OH to do and looking at the mass of outdoor candles, incense sticks, lanterns and fairy lights left over from the wedding last year, not to mention a few miles of bunting, I feel we need to organise a summer garden party to make use of them. That is if we have any more summer to come!

There is still a way to go but already I can see the difference.  My kitchen in the meantime looks far worse as everything is being stored in here until I can find them a new home.

 

 

 

 

 

weeding out the rubbish…

I am shocked at the amount of stuff you can fit into a space only 6′ by 4′ and how much of it is rarely, if ever, used.  I think I mentioned yesterday that we are clearing out our shed ready to dismantle it to allow the builder access to the outside walls of the house.

As it was raining yesterday and again today I had to bring some items into the house to sort through them.  This is not all the contents just some of the various feed and weed products.

I found things that I had quite forgotten about or obviously duplicated at some point like the four cartons of lawn food (one of which I bought back in 2014 and recorded here but obviously never got to use), 2 canisters of slug pellets plus an empty one and a variety of weed killers that I aquirred after sorting out my dads old shed many years ago.  I hardly ever have need of weed killers as our garden here in Yorkshire is quite small and I tend to use the natural organic versions anyway but at the time I couldn’t bring myself to throw them away.  My dad had three sheds and a very large garden and had multiples of everything – we hardly have room to grow plants never mind cultivate weeds!

I removed any empty or no longer useful items that could be thrown away and combined those, where on closer inspection, I had two half full containers.

 I worked my way through all the various products then cleaned up the canisters and relabelled them. As I only have a small space to grow seeds I really don’t need any more than the few trays and pots pictured below and the tiny propagating lid.

There was also an assortment of clay pots, plant pot holders and various bits and pieces.

I gave all the keepers a good wash and here they are – for the moment – but this might reduce again as I will probably rethink a few items and decide later if I really do need them or if in true Kondo style they spark joy!

Lastly, I cleaned up my garden caddy – this contains my hand tools, secateurs, snippers, a small canister of Fish, blood and bone meal to use when planting and Potash of sulphate, a tin of twine, a weed stick and some Gro-sure (this is not my normal choice of plant food so I think I may have bought this as a stop-gap until I was able to buy my usual Seaweed liquid feed).

I came across this little tin in the shed for seeds – I remember buying it together with the twine canister – so I have now put it to use.

When the rain stopped for a while we went outside and sorted through a heap of old plant pots, plant stakes, canes and odd bags of specialised compost and reduced all this down by 50%.  I had a new bag of orchid compost but no longer have an orchid so I will probably mix this in and use it when planting my tubs of annuals.

So now I am waiting for dry weather and I have a list of use up items –

  • Lawn food – we can use this up on the front and back lawns – the liquid feed with moss killer can go up to Scotland for the lawn there.
  • Compost – various mixtures but can be used to pot up my annual tubs.
  • Gro-sure – I will add this to my plants growing in tubs first and then to the borders.
  • A grow your own Xmas Tree pack – will open the pack and add water as per instructions and sit back and see what happens – a tree by Xmas perhaps??
  • Ant powder and granules – we have a bit of an ant problem by the little path so this will be useful.
  • Little clay acorn bird feeder – I will get hubby to put on a new hanging wire and then hang it from the Cherry tree.
  • Roundup – we can use a little of this on the paths to kill those stubborn weeds that I cannot dig out.
  • The out of date bottle of beer – I can put this down for the slugs.

There is still quite a bit more sorting to do and I will need to tackle the garage to make room temporarily for the stuff from the shed but that is another day.

Just one more thing before I go I do apologise for misleading everyone by recently referring here to buying a Gazebo to match one we already had on the sunny side of the garden – I should have said Obelisks of course!

Have a good weekend x

 

 

 

 

frustration…

…the feeling of being upset or annoyed as a result of being unable to change or achieve something.

What a mixed up day today – I decided not to go into work after all – that might sound as if I have the freedom to choose – but today is a bit of a flexi day as I am trying to cut my hours down to only 3 days a week and doing every other Thursday.  As it is year-end coming up at work I might go in on Saturday instead – I get far more done without the interruptions.

Anyway I am wandering off the point here – the reason for my decision to stay home in the end was the bad start to the day.  I was booked in at my doctors for a blood test this morning to assess my thyroid levels because my own GP has retired and his practice has been taken over by a larger practice of doctors from the next town and the changes are already being felt.

They insisted I should have a blood test as my review date was showing as 2015 – a bit overdue – but this obviously did not bother my previous GP as he always left it to my consultant in Leeds at Jimmy’s to deal with reviewing my dose and checking my blood levels – however, this year they are 6 months behind due to the doctors strikes last year and demand.

So my new doctors were reluctant to issue a prescription without a review blood test – this is fair enough but for the fact that they did not mention at the time that they would not issue my prescription at all until after the results were back –  in fact  I had been told before I went to Scotland that it had been sent to the pharmacy and would be there on my return to pick up.  But of course when I went to pick up my tablets they had not received a prescription and I was left without my medication.

Given that I am totally dependant on my Thyroxin (like a diabetic with insulin) because my Thyroid was removed some years ago and the slightly higher dose of Thyroxin protects me by suppressing any likely cancer cells that may regrow I cannot go for very long without it.  To say I was a little annoyed – well we won’t go there.  However, the doctor rang and apologised and sent my prescription straight away to Sainsbury’s and my cupboard is well stocked once again and I am happy but it took most of the morning and a few phone calls to sort it all out!  Anyway moan over – sometimes changes are a bit frustrating.

Whilst at home for the rest of the day I did an hour on the finances paying the water bill (an estimate again, another frustration)  – checking the bank balances and looking at the general picture which will be another post another day.  Later I went on to the Audible website to use my remaining 9 credits and download nine books.  I am thinking I will cancel the membership rather than renew this month.

I chose quite a mix of books – both fiction and non-fiction – from the snippet they give you to listen to as a sample it is hard to know if you will like the book but you are able to ‘send them back’ so to speak – they just refund the credit to your account and you can choose another.  I have done this with one or two books in the past I found a bit boring or hard going.

After lunch I decided that even though it was throwing it down outside – yet another frustration – I would carry on with clearing out the shed as planned – only instead of being able to take everything out onto the patio I had to bring it inside to sort.  We are having work done on the outside of the house soon and the shed is in the way so it has to be emptied and moved.  When we move it we suspect it will fall to pieces so we will have to go and buy another to replace it – in the meantime I have to declutter.

We will also have to move the compost boxes – it seems this job is fast becoming my hubby’s life’s work having just got the one at the cottage moved again!

Before tea time we jumped in the car and went to Sainsbury’s to do a small shop for necessities and pick up the prescription and on the way home called in to cast our vote – but will my vote change anything?  This election and the whole of Brexit has been as frustrating as my day today – at least tomorrow we will know the result –  will I be happy – maybe – maybe not!

waste not want not…

 

Continuing with the waste of Overproduction…

Since writing the previous post on using the ‘lean’ principles in everyday and domestic life to add value by avoiding waste I am very conscious of buying too much and creating future waste – I just have to look around my house to see the result of this. I wonder why I do buy things sometimes, as more often than not they are not on my shopping list – rather I see something and decide impulsively that I would quite like it, or even worse that I believe I cannot live without it!

As well, I buy because I can; my income, though fairly modest, is such that I do not even have to think about the cost of a small purchase. I often wonder what fortune I might have amassed over the years if I had not squandered my money on all these low-cost hasty purchases.

All this buying has generated a lot of waste and the constant necessity to declutter. I am not alone in this as there seems to be some kind of decluttering fever in blogland at the moment – maybe it isn’t just me that is feeling the need to gain back some space and feel free from the responsibility of storing and looking after stuff.

Are we desiring less but actually buying more?

At the beginning of last year I decided to document everything I bought that wasn’t food. (You can see this here on my rerouted blog). I thought this exercise was going to be a doddle after all I was trying to seriously cut down on what I bought anyway so I wouldn’t be spending a lot of time photographing my purchases – how wrong I was!

By the time March came round I realised this was getting to be quite a time-consuming project because I actually bought more items than I thought I would and as soon as Easter arrived with the better weather my attentions had to be prioritised towards the garden. It was a useful exercise though because I can visually see items in the photos that I bought and haven’t used or I found not to be useful after all.

Simplicity of living and avoidance of waste

Whilst thinking about waste and unnecessary buying I keep going back to one of my favourite discoveries – Innermost House – for those following along with my journey you might remember Innermost House if not click here to discover for yourself. The simplicity of living and freedom from buying that this video promotes is something that I aspire to achieve.

You would perhaps think that Simplistic living is quite an easy goal to accomplish but I think it is a constant struggle. The world wants me to spend. I watch the TV and I am subjected to advertising, I go to the shops and I am attracted by the displays and the most recent fashion must haves, I hand over my money at the checkout and they hand me back vouchers so I will return and spend more.

Worse still I don’t even need to have cash anymore I just hand over a piece of plastic and I don’t feel the loss of my hard-earned money. And just when I think I can’t spend anymore because all the shops are closed I log on to the internet and all my movements are being tracked so that I am bombarded with adverts of products I might like to buy from the sites I visit.

Not buying more must surely begin with being content with what I already have and not being tempted into buying things unnecessarily. I can look back at the world my grandparents knew and see that they were far more content with their lot. Their world was definitely simpler, their choice was limited and their income also limited their choice.

Going back to my task of Simplifying my house, one of my main goals  in the decluttering battle is to be much more careful when shopping to avoid being wasteful. I really do not want to be throwing out items that I only bought a few months before, whether that is clothes, household contents or food and I do not want to get rid of loads of stuff only to find that a month or two down the line the house has filled up once again.

Limiting my spending

To stop this happening I have thought of a number of things I have decided to do

  • I am looking to put some kind of limit onto the amount of items I have in any one category.  For instance I could limit myself to one magazine a month, 6 pairs of shoes, 6 sets of underwear, a capsule wardrobe, 1 bookcase of books etc this way items can only be replaced rather than be added to.
  • I will repair and maintain the items we already have where possible rather than replace them with new
  • I will avoid the need to keep any ‘just in case’ items
  • I will decline taking other people’s bags of decluttered items that are passed on
  • I will suggest tokens for my birthdays that I can use for a massage, facial or a meal, something that I do not have to keep or suggest a donation to my favourite charity.
  • l will borrow books from the library
  • I will limit my store cupboard supplies
  • I will try harder to plan weekly menus to cut down on food waste
  • I will make a concentrated effort to make my own cards from my craft cupboard materials.
  • I will only keep what I really use unless it is for sentimental reasons

I am sure there are more ways than this to minimise the ‘stuff’ from creeping back in.  I may be wrong, and do tell me if I am, but Kondo never says exactly how she deals with any accumulted stuff after the initial declutter, it is as though she expects it will never be a problem again.  Her message is always to apply the test of does it ‘give joy’ but quite often that urge to buy and spend and therefore accumulate is the very ‘Joy’ bit – albeit quite short lived in most cases.  In this world of plenty having that bit more does not register with us until the bit more has become a bit of a mountain!

I have no doubt I could keep on forever buying and decluttering but I prefer not to –  it seems such a waste of effort and time and resources not to mention space so I need to take a stand now.

Perhaps I will even get back to photographing and logging all my purchases again as a way of avoiding future waste.

 

learning to live a little leaner…

My final day at work yesterday for a whole week – yay! – I am winding down today but as soon as I can pack a few things and jump in the car on Saturday we are headed for Scotland.  Of course we will have to stay in a rented cottage as our own is still not ready (or even close) but we will be able to go in the garden which has probably reached jungle proportions by now.

After my initial decluttering of the toiletries, my underwear drawer and the cleaning products I have ground to a bit of a halt and nothing much is getting done in the house at the moment due to my continuing heavy work commitments.

You may remember my post in February about work and how I had decided to leave but I was asked to stay if they could make things better; well rather than winding down towards retirement it seems my ‘career’ is having a sudden late onset revival and after agreeing to stay on I have been promoted this week!  It is actually the same job in essence with a new title.  Although I think much more will be expected of me  – earning my keep as it were,  and I keep wondering if I really want this right now but I won’t make that decision until I have tried it out.  I have been given full authority to sort out our department (I can’t say too much about this here as it is a touch political) and make it more efficient and organised.  A bit like decluttering I think!

With all this organising, decluttering and efficiency required both at home and work I have been reading a lot about the Lean methods used by the Japanese and I must say it makes sense to me.  Although the principles of Lean refer more to the manufacturing process and giving customer value you can use these same principles to apply to your life or other situations.  Lean concentrates on adding value – if your activities do not add value then they are wasteful in Lean terms.

Below in bold are the main ‘wastes’ associated with Lean and are taken from Lean for Dummies Cheat Sheet.

Consider the questions of each type of waste which have been translated by me into the more domestic situation of Household Management – are you able to identify with any of my wastes or perhaps you have different issues.

Apologies here to any truly Lean followers if my interpretations are a little loose. 

  • Overproduction

    – do you provide more information than is necessary or spend unnecessary amount of time on paperwork? Do you overproduce generally creating future waste?

Whenever you produce more than you need, you are creating waste.

Buying too much, making too much, storing too much can all be examples of waste in the home.  When we waste we end up throwing the waste away.  A lot of effort can be put into buying, making and storing and this is needless if you end up with waste.

I thought about this question with regards to my emails and paperwork.  My emails can be wordy – perhaps my posts are too – don’t answer that one!

In respect of the paperwork – it takes a long time – I have a lot of it – files and files in fact – do I need to hang on to it?

I also thought about the overproduction involved in managing the grocery shopping and cooking.  There is no doubt good meal planning prevents waste but can the act of meal planning be simplified by doing one menu for the month for each season – then that is it – no more planning.

Could I simplify our accounting in some way – I love my money program but is it really necessary to know where every penny was spent?  I am working on this one.

  • Waiting

    – do you spend too much time waiting for information from others or is there a time lag between production steps?

I can identify here with the time lag – I have time lag between washing and ironing the clothes and the putting away – so our house constantly resembles a Chinese laundry (am I allowed to say that these days?)

We do not wash up immediately after eating in the evenings (bad habit)

We constantly buy things and then do not get to use them – instances of this are all over the house from those little flossing brushes to a whole bathroom suite.

  • Inventory

    – work in progress – Do you have large stocks of materials and is your work in process inventory too high?

Obviously after seeing all my cleaning products together I can only say yes to this and a lot of the other ‘stuff’ in my life.  The garage is testimony to this along with the craft items, an oversupply of food in the cupboards and freezer.  I also have half-finished craft projects and maintenance projects on the go.

  • Transportation

    – Do things flow efficiently.  Could you combine deliveries or deliver things more quickly?

This can cover a number of household issues from the flow of a room – how you might organise the kitchen for instance – to the flow of doing tasks and combining errands and tasks.

Decluttering I find actually helps the flow.  Far too often I find that I am keeping things in the wrong place because something else is resident in the right place.

  • Overprocessing

    Do you needlessly work on something more than once?

Almost certainly – the constant decluttering for instance!  I might also begin something that I cannot finish and then have to come back to it later and start over.

  • Motion

    – how is work passed along the team – do people understand what is required at each step?  Do people and equipment move between tasks efficiently?

We are a team of two normally and will be once again when team daughter and partner move out LOL.  I do not think the housework is split 50:50 in our team of two.  Hubby works longer hours than me so it would seem unfair.   Hubby is generally on waste management and fix and repair, whilst I am on meal planning and production, laundry production and household maintenance and cleanliness.  It is hard to ‘pass along’ on a team of two – although I can think of a good example of this where I generate the waste and hubby moves it!  I think co-ordination could work better and I believe a bit more effort to take note of what is required at each step  – the finishing off process – would not go amiss.

  • Defects

    – how often do you find mistakes – do you make the same mistakes on a regular basis?

Oh I definitely think we do in this household – even something as simple as the washing up inspection when dishes are rejected as not properly clean and need to be done again, or items of clothing not put out in time for washing and are not included in the wash.  Receipts not being presented on time when I am trying to balance our accounts, shopping put away in the wrong place and has to be swapped around, out of stock items not being put on the shopping list ready for the weekly shop and toilet rolls not being replaced by the last user – need I go on!

  • Workforce

    – do you use time wisely?  Do you spend most of your time on activities that add value and are a high priority?

Obviously not as I am writing this post now when I should be maintaining the house and packing!

 

Reading both Marie Kondo’s book on decluttering, the Zero Waste Home and the Minimalists book I can see how Lean fits into all these concepts quite well.  Tightening up on all the above areas of waste could make life simpler and my stuff more manageable.  I am certainly going to give this a lot more thought over the Easter break and look at how I can apply a no waste policy to our household.

 

 

Have a good Easter x