good wine, good food, good company and a good clean up…

As you may have noticed there has been a short break in transmission recently – for no other reason than I have been a little busy.  We had friends round for supper the weekend before last and of course that generated a bit of a mad tidy up downstairs. Actually it was more than a tidy up and I was quite shocked at the number of cobwebs I found hiding in corners, it must have been longer than I thought since I last had a good clean.

We managed to get the boxes of Ikea wardrobes out of the living room (they had been there since earlier in the year) and up to the new bedroom and at last they have been assembled and put in place – but more on that in a future post when the ‘new’ room will be revealed.

Whilst giving the living room a thorough clean I not only vacuumed all the books but decluttered all the cupboards, shelves and knick-knacks.

We don’t have a lot of DVD’s as we have little time for watching them but we did have one or two that we once bought for £1 or so and won’t watch again so into the charity bag along with one or two CD’s that have over stayed their welcome.  I am aiming to keep only those items that I feel earn their keep – or in Kondo terms the ones that spark joy.

Our DVD collection is probably less than 20 films and the ones that remain are all those that I will watch again and again from time to time.  Amongst the keepers are the feel good films – Anne of Green Gables and Pride and Prejudice, the funny films – Mr Hulots Holiday and Playtime by Jaques Tatti – and the thriller ones (well as thrilled as I am prepared to be) – Premonition and Before I go to Sleep and not forgetting my favourite box sets – The Good Life and Darling Buds of May.

Whilst sorting through the pile I came across this DVD with Doris Day and have put it to one side to watch one evening as I really cannot remember if I have seen it or not but it looks like a bit of light entertainment for a cosy Friday evening.

 

Anyway back to the cleaning – I have a lot of glassware in the living room – I am not sure why I am attracted to glassware but it is always useful for holding things such as shells…

 

 

and pebbles from the beach…

 

and ‘arty’ creations made by one of my daughters at Art College …this is a small square of glass with interesting textures and colours and I have slotted it into this vase as a means of displaying it…

 

and the latest addition to my collection (a gift for my birthday) are these two vases, also bookends and perfect for displaying my favourite books.  I just love them – the books and the vases – one side has my tiny shell collection from Lady Bay near our cottage and the other I will fill with a stem or two of flowers from the garden.

I wash the glassware in hot soapy water and then dry and polish until gleaming – it instantly makes a room look cleaner.

By the time I had finished the whole room looked and felt so much fresher and neater and I was quite pleased at the transformation.

At the end of the first day I had managed to fill a bag with bits and pieces for the charity shop.

The next day I was up early and started on the kitchen and dining room – not as thorough a clean this time but passable.  I left just enough time to make myself presentable, lay the table and start on the supper before my friends arrived at a quarter to eight.

We were not eating until 8.30 and I had decided to keep the buffet supper fairly simple due to a shortage of time –  the choice was between a homemade feast in a dirty house or a simple ready-made affair in a clean one!

I baked some small new potatoes in the oven which I simply served topped with butter and heated through a selection of buffet style food of pulled pork pasties, greek filo spinach and ricotta parcels and Higgedy veggie rolls  – added a mixed side salad, a few tomatoes and a dish of beetroot.

For afters we had a selection of cheeses and chutney with crackers and finished off with profiteroles and cream.

After all this food on the Saturday evening I had a light breakfast on Sunday morning just yoghurt and fruit – not that I ever have a cooked breakfast anyway but I did skip my usual bowl of Muesli.

 

It was so nice to get up to a tidy house – it is well worth asking friends round to get things done!

 

simply reading and planning and doing…

What a shock to the system being back at work this week and how tired I have been each night  – far too tired to blog.  The good news though is that my working Thursday is now a thing of the past – I will be doing Monday to Wednesday at work and Thursday to Sunday at home – a much better balance in my opinion. I couldn’t wait to get started.

It was quite a long holiday break that we had this year well over 2 weeks and it is surprising how difficult it has been to pick up my routine now we are home – I say that like I have one – I do for the most part!

Now I need to develop a new routine to take me forwards so I have been thinking that Thursday will be my official cleaning day.  That does sound like I don’t ever clean on the other days of the week and sometimes this might be correct on a busy week but I usually manage bits and pieces of tidying rather than cleaning as well as the basic chores of washing up and making beds.  After a few days sitting in the office at the computer I find it is quite nice to do something active and domestic so cleaning will fit in well.

Over our holidays I have been doing a lot of reading – you know the kind of book that is titled –  ‘help I need to get my life and home sorted out and in balance’.  I have a stack of books on the subject by my bed – some from the library and others from my book shelf for a reread or on my Audio books to listen to while I dust.  I am especially into a little book I discovered in the library called ‘L’art de la Simplicite – How to live more with less by Dominique Loreau,  it can seem a bit repetitive in places but I am liking the approach to ‘simplism’.

I apologise in advance for the poor photo quality I was dog tired when taking these pics last night.  I think Thursday may be the designated cleaning day but Friday is going to be the designated recovery day.

The areas I am looking to improve are housekeeping or house management (if you want to encompass the whole of running a house and its upkeep), health, finances and fitness.  I am looking for ways to make each category simple and less time-consuming to deal with.

From my reading there is a common thread running through the advise and that is to have less stuff to deal with – back to the decluttering then.  The other common thread is routine and habit – even in the area of fitness choosing just 2 exercises to do daily is better than nothing and gets a routine and discipline going.  I decided this is just the approach I need together with my leaning towards the Lean and 5S  that I have spoken about here before.

 

To get stuck in on my first designated cleaning day I decided that I would perhaps fall in line with the fly lady zone but when I went on her website it was the living room this week and I felt our main bedroom needed a good going over more urgently and decided on this instead.

I emptied each of the drawers and the wardrobe – cleaned everything down and had a bit of a declutter and I found a few items that I hadn’t used since the last clear out so decided they were for the charity pile.

Everything looks neater and fresher and a bit of a sparkle now.

I have been using Neal’s Yard frankincense Intense face cream and serum since Christmas (a bit pricey but worth it and goes a long way) – this was part of my Secret Santa gift and I am well impressed – I can feel the serum working straight away and it glides over my skin easily.  I think the texture has improved all though the blemishes and freckles I accept will never go away.  The sun damage to my fair skin was probably done much earlier in my childhood when the effects of the sun were not as well understood.  Anyway back to the story – I picked out everything I am using each day in creams and lotions and potions and any leftovers of stuff I will not be repurchasing are to go in the use up box.  If unused and unopened they will go to charity.

So in my drawers now I only have what I like and use.  It is very liberating to do this and I aim to do the same throughout the house – no more hanging on to things just in case – not even the free sachets.

Sorting the current selection of clothes in the wardrobe was harder as I confess I found 3 items I have bought recently and not yet worn and shock horror still have tags on – I think too late to return though.  It isn’t that I don’t like them but I am thinking if I haven’t managed a day to wear them yet after 6 weeks perhaps they are not exactly my favourites.

One of the tops in particular was a bit of a mad buy as it reminded me of my Art college days – a summer weekend at Reading Festival sleeping out under the stars listening to Genesis dressed in flowing embroidered cheesecloth with my long tousled ginger hair and probably no suncream in sight but not a care in the world other than how to get through the mud to the washroom!  The top I bought in Sainsbury’s 25% off week is a fine cheesecloth like cotton, gypsy style with embroidered panel and probably represented this memory – I have put it on 3 times now to go out in it and then changed at the last moment – I am no longer this free-flowing gypsy person!  I think it is going to be a charity gift.

Of course I have only been able to do my own clothes and so I just arranged OH’s ties neatly on the rack fixed to the inside of the wardrobe door knowing that a lot of them will not be worn again but at least they look ‘organised’ until I can get OH to look through them.

I will have to revisit the wardrobe again but I have given those ‘I’m a bit unsure’ items a final chance to be worn – if not they will go out at the end of the summer.  I sometimes find that there is a reason for not wearing something apart from it feeling tighter and if something does not feel quite right then I am not happy wearing it.

By the time I had done all the sorting I only managed to vacuum the walls, the carpet and the surfaces and didn’t get to move the furniture out – that will have to be another time.

Of course because I will not be working Thursday the figure on my monthly pay slip will be much reduced from now on and I shall have to economise further to take into account this drop in income.  Our fridge at the moment is virtually empty – this is good as it means we have manage to eat up everything we bought for the week.  I am sure I could scrape a couple of meals together from the store cupboard and freezer but there would be little fresh veg – home-grown courgettes, carrots and frozen peas are left over and I have a tin of sweetcorn and maybe an egg or two – perhaps Fritters!

Just off to plan my other days off now – have a good weekend.

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!