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

 

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Back in Focus…or I can see clearly now my stuff has gone…

 …Whoops I have been away a lot longer than I thought this time but I haven’t been sitting with my feet up  – well only to rest my dodgy knee occasionally – another sudden and unexpected problem to deal with.

Just to update everyone on the flood saga – we went up to the cottage last weekend for a pre-contract meeting with the contractor and it is now completely bare of contents and waiting for the strip out of floors / walls etc next week.  As we closed the door behind us it was a bit sad to leave our cottage looking all empty and forlorn and I did have a little tear but somehow that emptiness felt good too and is quite a freeing experience.

I was astounded to realise when listing the contents for the insurers how much stuff we had accumulated at the cottage since we bought it back in 2004.  When we moved in it was just as empty as last weekend until the bed, cooker and fridge were delivered.  We knew these were the important items that we needed to live there as well as a kettle, pans crockery and cutlery and a few toiletries and towels.  We really were down to the absolute basics but then over time as the contents built up and friends and family have added to them by way of gifts etc it has become unintentionally rather overloaded.

We have had to bring a lot of undamaged items back home to store so now this house is once again groaning under the weight of contents and I am striving to get our home here in Yorkshire back to basics – down to the stuff we really need.

As anyone reading my blog will know nothing has really gone as planned for us this year – but after the last few hectic and stressful months I am turning my attentions back to my 2014 word FOCUS and on completing what I started earlier in the year in February – Simplifying my space (but now even more!)

I have a few areas in particular where I need to limit our contents – one is our bedroom wardrobe which I use for storing clothes, shoes, some bags and linens, the second is the kitchen /dining area and laundry room cupboards and the third the office come craft room.  The storage in these areas should be more than adequate but I think the problem is we have far more items than are in everyday use or we might ever get to use and it is these items I want to decide on whether they should stay or go.

I am sure you will all be familiar with the term the Pareto principle or the 80:20 rule and strangely enough I always find, as a good measure, it actually works.

So with this in mind I have been gathering up items and applying the principle starting with the 20% of items used 80% of the time or the everyday stuff.  This is the easier category as they are well used items which are in use constantly and are usually in the most accessible place.  However, I do think there is room for improvement here as sometimes even items kept to hand might not be in the best place and I have been having a bit of a change round but more on that later.

The difficult category the one we perhaps all struggle with is the 80% of items used only 20% or less of the time – taking a lot of storage space but nevertheless very useful – I think Christmas items come under this category and our trusty little camping stove and kettle, used quite infrequently, but you may remember it got us through Christmas Day in 2012 and has been invaluable for making a cup of tea on a weekend at at the cottage since the flood has left us without any power.  Click here or on the picture if you really want to read about or be reminded of our unusual Christmas 2012 dinner in a car park – you couldn’t make it up could you!

Camping Stove

Other items falling into this useful some of the time section (and size is no indication of their usefulness) would be

  • the summer parasol and picnic/party items,
  • garden chairs,
  • suitcases,
  • the travel hairdryer,
  • our old projector for viewing our slides,
  • dressmakers dummy,
  • a stack of ‘plastipots’,
  • decorating equipment,
  • spare bedding/sleeping bags,
  • thick woolly tights for winter,
  • posh sheer tights for parties,
  • evening bags,
  • special cleaners,
  • special adhesives,
  • Jiffy bags and bubble wrap
  • … I could go on and on.

Of course as well as this there are little collections all over the house of things that are very rarely used they are more objects and items just to look at or listen to –

  • ornaments,
  • pictures and photos,
  • keepsakes,
  • other people’s precious possessions you don’t feel you can get rid of – I think heirlooms is the correct term!,
  • piles of magazines/books and CD/DVD’s
  • …oh and record albums if you are as old as me!

Then on top of that are the disasters – the never used only stored items such as

  • the impulsive good idea purchases that never were (those winter boots that still pinch!),
  • presents given that are frankly just not your taste,
  • those items that might come in handy one day,
  • those items you hang on to in case they come back into fashion or become valuable one day,
  • and those numerous half-finished projects.

I am sure most bloggers can identify with all of the above and it doesn’t matter how many times I have a clear out I am still left with a mass of the above items that need a home but the question is do they need my home!

So on with the marigolds and out with the charity bags and let’s get started…I will keep you updated on my progress.

 

Have a good weekend everyone x

 

The Friday Fling…

Having thought long and hard about the problem I have with ‘stuff’ and my longing to have both space and a simple but beautiful collection of things around me that I need and use or love and cherish I have decided that I am going to be ruthless and really, really get rid of all the things that I do not use or do not need and this will include those someday I might items – you know the ones – someday I might use it – someday I might need it – don’t we all have them?  Maybe I am the only person in the world who does and that is a scary thought.

So I am introducing you (and myself for that matter) to the Friday Fling.  Friday because it is my day off and Fling because I am going to go through my whole house (but not all today!) inch by inch seeking out those things I do not need or want and Fling them for good. So be warned ‘stuff’ I will find you –  there is no hiding place!

If you would like to join me I would love to here from fellow travellers out there wishing to organise and simplify their stuff too – especially if you have any useful hints and tips.

Making a start

For want of a better place I will begin in our bedroom with my dressing table drawers.  I know it is old fashioned to even have a dressing table but I do like to sit down on the job and have a mirror in front of me and everything I need to hand ready for any major indulgent pampering session I may undertake or just to make my daily routine getting ready for work a smoother operation.

Bearing in mind I only went through these drawers a couple of months ago for a clear-out, I did not expect that I would find very much to fling but with my new mind-set in action, I discovered I was wrong and I have plenty to throw out.  I use the word ‘throw’ loosely as you know me I cannot see good things go to waste and that is probably why they are still here and have missed being cleared out for the last few years!   So for any environmentally obsessive readers like me take note that if it is at all re-useable it will not go in the bin to landfill I will find it another home – just not in my house.

So from the first drawer here is my collection of items of old nail polishes and a couple of make up compacts that I have had for ages and felt that I might use someday.  Some are brand new and some so old they have most likely gone off.

They are ALL GOING OUT and the good point is, apart from 2 bottles of nail varnish, everything else came free in one way or another – so I can feel relieved that I am not getting rid of anything that cost me hard-earned cash in the first place (another of my pet hates!)

Like a capsule wardrobe my new streamlined collection now looks like this…

A small select selection that includes a French manicure set, a very dark polish for parties, a rich Fuschia colour for pretty toe nails for summer and an all-purpose pearly pink for everyday finger nails.

Add in a hand scrub and hand cream, cotton buds and toe separators…

all neatly contained in a Muji container…

…but there is always something that doesn’t quite fit!!

– this really bugs me when I cannot keep everything together because one item is too tall or too fat, too long or too short – you know what I mean.

So on to the next drawer and these are now my keepers…

my useful massage and skin brushing implements

a selection of eye makeup compacts

three types of foundation – a light one for everyday with sunscreen, one light mousse without for parties and do’s and a tub of The Body Shop mineral face powder with brush.

moisturisers for both day and night-time, for body, face and feet and a moisturising vitamin mask for once a week to re-hydrate my skin. These are all decanted into these handy little tubs which stack neatly.

An assortment of skin toner, eye make up remover, basic Calendula and Tea Tree cream for skin repair (spots and rough elbows!), under eye rescue cream and gel (for my bags in other words.  Everything stored in clear Muji containers.

In the final container – cotton wool pads (indulgent luxury not ordinary), make up sponges, make-up brushes, mascara – brown and a small trial adventurous blue for summer, lipsticks and gels and not forgetting the cover up stick,

and a couple of basics.

So there you have it what more could a girl need?

Everything I am keeping are things that I know I use constantly (everyday in most cases), with the odd item specially for occasional use – and although there still seems a lot of stuff I am not sure I could  limit these any more unless I was going to be dropped off on a desert island where I had to choose only 3 products – now there’s a thought.

Day 1 of the Big Spring Clean up

The Shower Room

This room is one of my favourites it is accessed from both the office / craft room and our third bedroom so has two connecting doors opposite each other.  It has a walk in shower , a basin and a loo. In addition we have a family bathroom that has a bath with another shower over the bath, basin and loo.

Lots of scrubbing and rubbing required in here to get it fresh and gleaming again. I find that you need to be very methodical when doing a big clean otherwise you can soon end up in a muddle. I go from inside to out and from top to bottom.  One of the things I noticed when watching a TV advert once about a kitchen cleaner product was that the difference between the before and after was the shine they put on everything in the room.  Even old and shabby items can look good when they sparkle after a good clean.  So even if you don’t have a lot of money to afford new things (and we have been there!) you can always make a home look good just by keeping it clutter free and sparkling clean.

So the first thing to tackle is the inside of the two cupboards.  I love both my Ikea cupboards – the wall cabinet, which is slimline, we picked up very cheaply in the Bargain Corner because it had lost its shelves.  We had some toughened glass shelves made to fit and everything is neatly stored behind what looks like a mirror over the basin.

In this cupboard I tend to keep a few first aid and medicinal items, thermometers and a glass for rinsing plus a container of handy cotton wool and cotton buds.  We do have a bigger cupboard like this downstairs which houses all my supplements, medication, homeopathic remedies and more serious first aid, but this is handy for the few items that we are more likely to use upstairs.

Inside of Wall Cabinet – Before cleaning

The second cupboard in this room is a tall slim Ikea Lillangen, again with a mirrored door, which helps to both reflect the light and gives me a full length view of myself (sometimes helpful, sometimes not so!)  Here I store stocks of shower gels, face creams, deodorants, small travel and guest items, pedicure and oral hygiene etc as well as toilet rolls and cleaning products.  I am always amazed at what I have to pack in here.

Inside Tall Cupboard – Before cleaning

I start with the bigger cupboard and take everything out then clean the inside of the cupboard.  Whilst this is drying I make a start on going through the contents.

I begin by throwing out any out of date products then sorting the things I like and use from the stuff I have acquired that I am not so keen on like a new product that I have been enticed into buying only to find it was a big mistake.  Sometimes I have been given an item as a present but as I have sensitive skin perfumed products do not always agree with me.   I then put to one side anything that is almost finished – the ends of tubes and bottles – with a view to using them up quickly so they do not linger and take up valuable space.  I also make a note of anything that I need to replace or restock.  So now I have everything that I want to put back into the cupboard.

On the left the items I need to use up which I will not be putting back into the cupboard but put in a pretty basket and keep on my dressing table until all finished – on the right an excess of hand cream these may have to go!

Unwanted items – but may make useful presents

Putting everything back and making everything look inviting again

Being a bit of a neat freak I want to feel a sense of pride and pleasure each time I open my cupboard doors and also have the satisfaction of knowing exactly where everything is.  I do not want to have to rummage through mountains of stuff or have cupboards overflowing with things I will never use.

I have learned over the years that presenting the items in your cupboards as you see them displayed in the shops is the key to good-looking and ordered cupboards.  Toiletries tend to get grubby over time so I clean every item with a babywipe and then a quick rub with a dry cloth making sure any grunge from around the caps is removed.  Doing this makes everything clean and looking like it has just been bought again.  I then display like things together if possible on the shelves.My Neal’s Yard collection as the blue glass is so vibrant I like to keep these products together for better effect.

Stocks of face creams – bought on the two for three offers.

I keep a container with Guest size shower gel and body lotion and another with small travel sized products that I have collected – often from hotel bedrooms and those freebies from No 7 makeup and skin care as well as satchets of shampoo and body lotion that come stuck inside magazines to try.

I also keep a container for my essential oils and another for suncare – being fair-skinned I need lots!  All the ‘tub’ containers are from Muji and the ones with lids can be found in most craft shops including Hobbycraft.

I put the cleaners on the bottom shelf and spare toilet rolls above. The rest of the shelves hold the toiletries.The larger cupboard after the clear out

The wall cabinet after the clear out

Getting down to the heavy cleaning part

With both cupboards done and everything arranged back in place I can begin the cleaning of the room.  I recently washed the walls and ceiling down so just a quick Hoover around the corners today and a wipe on top of the door frames.  I then pour some bleach into a container and using an old toothbrush I begin spreading the bleach onto the tile grouting in the shower and also the sealant and any nooks and crannies of the shower screen which I will leave for a few minutes to be working.  I also squirt some down the plug holes and overflow of shower and basin and under the toilet rim.

Whilst waiting for the grouting I get an old pan scrub out and delve into the loo I find this better than using a brush – it is more flexible for getting down into the dark depths and up under the rim.

After this I rinse the shower well of bleach before using a general cleaner on the tiles, glass doors and shower head and unit.  Although I do like to be green and would normally use an Ecover product in here – today I am using a bathroom spray containing a little bleach as it is a deep clean.

Moving on to the drains and plugholes –  I fill the basin with water and keep the plug in whilst continuing to run the water so that the overflow takes the excess and gets a good rinse through. By keeping the water running and raising the plug slightly until you feel the ‘pull’ the drain will suck through any trapped mass of hair and grungy stuff.  To clean the pipe I have a long-handled drain brush to get down into the plughole but a toothbrush can be just as good – it is always amazing the build up of black grungy stuff in here and I can tell when it is clean as the pipe becomes bright white again.    To finish off I use a kettle of boiling water poured over a handful of Soda Crystals into the plughole and left for about 10 minutes – this gets rid of any greasy residue and freshen the drains.  A few more flushes through and wow much fresher and sparkling clean.

Going from just clean to ‘gleam’

After a good clean of all the pottery I always go over with a little polish on a duster – a tip I picked up from watching a lady in a bathroom showroom cleaning the display sets.  This makes the pottery gleam like new again.  I do the pedestal as well as the inside of the basin and taps and I also polish up the outside of the loo and the toilet seat.The tiles I polish over in the same way but I use diluted vinegar in water in a spray bottle to polish the glass shower doors and mirrors.

The daisy picture I painted a few years ago goes very well with the soft tones of the Shower room.  I found a brilliant product the other day by Scotch – they are double-sided clear adhesive tabs that secure objects but can be removed from most surfaces and reused.  I am using them here to adhere the top of the frame back to the wall to prevent it leaning forwards as they tend to do.

After cleaning the radiator, skirting boards and floor I am done cleaning at last, although  I do have to wait until Hubby can help clean the fan and light fitting for me.  All that is left to do is shake and wash the bath mat and replace the towels.

I can then stand back and admire my efforts.

Yo-yo organisation – is there a cure?

The sorting out and decluttering is taking a lot of time but I am trying to be very ruthless and thorough.  This week I have been through all my books in the office which are mainly craft, health, time, and home management.

Part of the bookcase before the tidy up still bearing the aftermath of Christmas

I limited myself to an amount which comfortably fits on the bookcase which instantly made the space look neater.  As well as not buying more magazines I have decided no more books either – for a while at least – instead I will reread some of the ones I already have and if I feel the information is not relevant any more I will give it away to the charity shop.

Bookcase after

In addition to my organising frenzy I have been thinking about the constant problem I seem to have with what is similar to Yo-yo dieting and that is my Yo-yo organisation.  I get everything organised and neat and tidy and then something happens like an event such as Christmas or a holiday which seems to take over and I end up with the house back in a mess.  It is not necessarily a big event that leads to my downfall – it might be that I have to work some overtime one or two nights or we have a weekend away or just the fact that I am often too tired to do anything after working all day and this alone can be enough to generate those piles again – piles of washing, ironing, paperwork, and items to put away.  So here are my thoughts on why this might be happening.

Reasons for finding I am getting back to chaos

  • Taking on too much
  • Spreading myself thinly because I hate to disappoint people and say no
  • Thinking I am superwoman and planning more than I can do in a day
  • Doing the wrong thing at the wrong time
  • Not allowing time for the clean up after a job
  • Booking out too many weekends away visiting etc
  • Leaving preparation to the last minute
  • Letting the filing and shredding pile mount up
  • Not taking the time to put things away after use
  • Not having a designated place for everything I own
  • Not learning from past mistakes
  • Continuing to do what doesn’t work
  • Going to bed late and getting up too late to get ahead with the day

In addition to this list there are other matters that I have identified as being definite problems in my life

Frequent and time-consuming issues that need resolving

  • Meals – these are something that I must get to grips with and plan ahead more to save time
  • Clearing up the kitchen after cooking and eating – this seems to be an endless task
  • Recycling – all the washing and sorting and storage and then disposal of the recycling rubbish
  • Paperwork – Hurrying to open all the mail and putting it to one side for later and not getting back to it for a few days
  • ISA fixed savings constantly reaching maturity and require re-investing this takes a lot of time to research a good rate as does searching for new insurance / energy / internet deals

As well as all this there are issues I keep having with finding a good system or storage or time which I need to consider

Other issues I need to address

  • The paperwork pending piles – where, when and how to ‘pend’ items waiting for a reply or a decision or action
  • Articles relevant for a current or future project
  • Items waiting for a future appointment or event
  • Upcoming exhibitions, plays art courses, gardens open etc
  • Magazine clippings
  • Finishing old projects
  • Collecting a lot of craft items and having no time to make things with them so I need to think about planning sometime for a ‘Crafternoon’

I have clearly a lot of thinking to do and then an action plan…watch this space!

I know it’s here somewhere…

Organising and labelling in the craft cupboard

Since my last post I have been ‘ordering’ my craft cupboard and drawers.  They are a bit of a work in progress at the moment but I am getting there.  The hardest part is making the decisions – should I continue to store it to use it or lose it?  Storage space is valuable and I do not like my cupboards and drawers overfull – I like to see space around everything as they say less is more!  So I have been quite ruthless and have decided to pass a few things on to fellow crafters and reduce the amount I keep.  I am now at the stage where I have sorted through everything and found a new home and I am about to begin the labelling and re-labelling process, before I do come and have a grand tour.

This is my Ikea Effektiv craft cupboard and as you can see I am a bit of a ‘neat freak’ and I do like uniformity – it helps to make things look organised.  The plastic and white boxes hold a variety of crafting items such as coloured card, craft card, cellophane bags, laces, ribbons and cords, folded wrapping paper, cracker making and card making bits and pieces – in fact you name it and it is probably in there!  I still need to buy a few more of the plastic see-through boxes.  I prefer these for this purpose to the plain white cardboard as it is easier to see what is inside and then I find I do not forget what I already have.  Until I can get to my local craft shop to get some more the cardboard boxes will do for now.

On the bottom shelf I have twelve A4 containers which fit the space very neatly leaving a slot at the left hand side just big enough to accommodate – (starting from the back and out of sight) – my large container of craft glue (which I decant into smaller old film pots) then my stacker pots filled with foil stars and shapes, sequins and beads. I would not label things like this as each section is self-evident.

The two large reels of curling ribbon standing in the front, one white satin, one Christmas green are an absolute bargain from Hobbycraft.  You will find them in the florists section and they are so much more cost-effective than those tiny reels you get in card shops and supermarkets.  Each reel was £2.29 and I limited myself to just the two colours mainly because they are more difficult to store.

Moving to the middle shelf – I have another stack of eight A4 boxes and a further eight smaller boxes on the left which tend to be more useful than the larger ones for dividing up ribbons and smaller items etc into type such as satin or Christmas and I if I needed to I could pull them forward a little to store something I do not use very often behind them and avoid the empty wasted space they create at the moment.  Putting something in front of them would not be an option as I use these boxes quite often and I find there is nothing worse than having frequently used items inaccessible.

On the top shelf I feel the decorated cardboard boxes would be more space effective if they were all the same width and I may eventually change these if I can find a suitable alternative but these are good because they are deep and I can store the contents on end rather than flat.  The largest holds an assortment of blank cards, the medium an assortment of quality envelopes in different sizes and the smallest box holds my lovely tissue paper collection perfectly.

I prefer wrapping my smaller gifts in tissue paper to ordinary sheets of gift paper.  Firstly, I love the way it moulds to the shape of any object creating layers and folds and secondly, I like the gentle rustle it creates when wrapping and opening.  I finish them off with embellishments of curling ribbon or raffia and reuse pieces of cut down old cards for gift tags or I have a selection of home-made ones.

The stackable grey containers on the right hand side of the top shelf house our slide collection which has now grown immensely since acquiring some quite vintage family snaps from both my mum and my mum in law when clearing out their houses.  I shall need to order another four boxes from the internet and I think there is just enough room for them to slot in the gap by shuffling the decorative boxes along and storing the empty Hanimex round cassette elsewhere – probably with the projector.

Well just the labelling to do now with my trusty Brother labelling machine for the plastic boxes and for the cardboard I have some sticky backed file label pockets where I can slip in printed white labels that can be changed when necessary without pulling off the decorative paper covering.

And Voila…the result!  (I know the picture is not good but the light is quite dismal today – I will upload a better one when we get some sunshine).  I am quite pleased that this is one cupboard now finished and the good thing about a declutter session is that it serves to refresh my memory when I come across items that I have bought and forgotten about.

Next week I will finish the craft drawers – they contain my rubber stamps and other bits and pieces.