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…

 

 

 

 

 

decorating, homestEAding, rEArranging, simplifying

before and after a guided tour…

Remember Dolly and Ted – they have had their baths and are now clean and presentable and ready to invite you to have a peep around their new home…

This room was our younger daughter’s bedroom, part of the extension we had built above the garage in 1997, and pine was fashionable back then together with red check fabric and stencilled walls.   So this is a guided tour of the before and after.

I made the curtains from a duvet cover to get the look she wanted – notice how they had faded over time.  After she left home it became a bit of a dumping ground and a handy place to dry the washing.

We even had a settee in here for a while waiting to transport it up to the cottage.   I can’t believe it got this messy – I took this picture after Christmas one year – I obviously didn’t know where to put all the new presents!

                       Before we started we had a good clear out and now…

…it is light and bright – the walls are a soft grey called Amonite by Farrow and Ball and the woodwork All White Eggshell.

I decided not to put curtains back as I love the simplicity of the window and chose a plain white roller blind.  Little L, my granddaughter, will eventually be using this room so I wanted it to be inviting for a little girl to sleep in so there are a few toys about…

The new fitted wardrobes are from the PAX range at IKEA they are the 30cm deep ones with plain white shaker style doors and we added the white-painted wooden handles which OH lovingly made!

There is enough hanging space and drawer room for a few clothes when little L comes to stay

and the double side of the wardrobe is my new linen cupboard…

and I have designated one of the drawers for my fabrics and sewing projects…

The corner had an overburdened bookcase and became another dumping ground…

but has been pared down considerably to make this reading corner with a new smaller, lower bookcase and a couple of narrow picture shelves that display some of the most cherished books…

Remember the pine ‘samba’ style staircase that some bloggers told me they rather liked…

Nineties stenciling

– it leads to the mezzanine sleeping platform above…

well yes we did paint it and no I don’t regret it…

The carpet is a little too creamy now but we have laid it back down until we finish the other rooms after which we will buy all the same colour throughout the house.

Upstairs on the mezzanine –  the Lloyd loom bedside cabinet belonged to my mum-in-law, a definite keeper and so the colours had to work around this.

We decided not to paint the pine bed for the time being as you cannot really see the pine colour until up close.  OH made this bed in our first house in 1979 so it does not owe us anything only a new mattress which we will try to find in the sales.

The quilt cover is from Next it ties in the blue of the cabinet and the blue snuggly throw I found in IKEA for only £4.

I am pleased with the way this room has turned out the soft grey has proved to be better than paining the room all white and in some lights actually can look white.  It may not be to everyone’s taste but I love the clean spacious look – it is not too minimalist but I have been careful not to overfill the room.

So two rooms finished now, we finished the family bathroom a while ago, and only four more rooms to go upstairs.

Next on the list is the middle bedroom once the residence of my older daughter.  This will become our main guest room and will be mainly used by my mum when she comes down to stay.  At the moment we have a single bed in there but will change this for a double.  There is a considerable amount of decluttering to do in here too but having already started to rid ourselves of any excess I am quite enjoying all the new space.

Have a good weekend x