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

 

the nicest thing about the rain…

…is it stops eventually!  AA Milne

Daffodils

Don’t you just love the Pooh quotes – they always make me smile – the rain hasn’t stopped here all weekend – so no gardening possible for me –  I even had to go shopping in the rain this afternoon something I dislike doing on a Sunday but needs must.

I had a number of items to look for mainly for the caravan – a doormat, various sticky hooks for the keys and other items that require hanging and a small dish drainer.  You have to be quite creative in a caravan as space is tight.  I headed to Wilko’s as this often good hunting ground for such items and I wasn’t disappointed- though the dish drainer came from Sainsbury’s.

Then on to Boots as I had a few toiletries on the list – I use Liz Earle’s shampoo and conditioner – a bit pricey (for me) but I like the natural ingredients and it suits my hair and scalp.  I find you need very little to get a good lather so it goes a long way.  I took advantage of the double and triple points coupon I had been sent by post this week.

As it is Sunday my usual health food stores are closed so I had to go to Holland and Barrett for some Aloe Vera juice- to help my digestion (should have thought better of eating the sprouts we had with our meal on Friday – they tasted very odd and shortly after my digestion was, shall we say, a bit disturbed and a bit nauseous, and hasn’t fully recovered all weekend).  They had a half price offer on so I added in a tub of vegetarian gravy powder.

 

Finally, I popped into TK Max and found a small decorated box to keep my bits and pieces in on the bedside table and this unusual little white enamel pot with a stainless steel lid that I can keep cotton wool in at the caravan.

 

On my way to the till I spotted a lightweight duvet jacket with hood for my granddaughter.  It folds up into a really tiny package and I thought it is one of those handy items for the summer that you can squeeze into your handbag on a day out just in case of a shower or cool breeze.

 

With Easter in mind –  I picked up a cute little decorated box in Wilko’s for £1.50 and I will fill it with coloured paper straw and hide some little bite sized Lindt bunnies in there to give to my granddaughter.

 

Also in Wilko’s I spotted a rather nice glasses case which I need so my reading glasses don’t get damaged in my handbag.  My last one wore out ages ago and I have been without since.

So quite a fruitful shopping trip – although in terms of spending maybe I have spent a touch more than I intended – but they were all fairly low priced items and I did avoid stopping in Costa for a drink so saved a bit of money there.

The bowl of daffodils above arrived by post and were a surprise from my granddaughter for having her to stay overnight last weekend – (I think my daughter might have had a hand in this as even though my clever little 2 year old can work an iPad with no trouble I am not sure she has yet mastered internet shopping)!

Apologies for the quality of photographs it was quite dark in the house when I returned home after shopping and I am a bit short of time, but no doubt you get the gist!

Thank you for all the tips and hints about eBay in the comments.  It looks like I need to watch out for a few drawbacks.  I must say I am quite daunted by it all even though part of my job is to train people on our computer software programs and I maintain the software at work –  I am not a savvy online shopper.

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.

 

“I read a book one day and my whole life was changed”…

― Orhan Pamuk, The New Life

Yesterday I had a visit to Leeds to have some blood tests done at Jimmy’s.  I only have to go once a year now to check I’m still OK and I always tag along with my husband who works in Leeds as I dislike driving in the morning rush hour along the M62 – not that you can call it driving it is more like queuing.

He drops me off in a convenient spot and I walk up through the city centre to the Headrow to catch the bus to the hospital.  It is always a constant source of amusement to me that I get on and off at exactly the same bus stops for both journeys yet it costs me £2 to go to the hospital yet only a £1 to come back.

The difference must be it is all downhill coming back!

On the way to the bus I might just happen to call in at one or two of my favourite shops such as Paperchase and Neal’s Yard, even though I tell myself I shouldn’t because there is absolutely nothing that I need and wants are definitely out out out this year.

On the way home  – even better – a visit to Waterstones  – 3 floors of heaven.  I tell myself it is just to get a hot chocolate and a toasted sandwich at the in-store Costa but really I know the truth – it is to browse the endless shelves – collect together a tidy pile of books and then find a soft squidgy arm-chair to sink into and read until I feel I have over stayed my welcome or fear I may be locked in.

My intention was just to browse through the pile – definitely not to buy.   But amongst the Craft shelves of all places I discovered an interesting book called Zero Waste Home: The Ultimate Guide to Simplifying your Life by Bea Johnson and just by reading the preface I knew I wanted to read more of this book.  I am sure some of you will have it on your bookshelves already.  I am hoping it will produce the momentum I need to get going again on my Simplifying.

Then just by chance I also came across The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying by Marie Kondo and I pulled this one off the shelf as I was curious to know what it is about this book that other bloggers like Sue over at Our New Life in the Country and Freda at Live Simply, Simply Live  and a few others are raving about.

I have tried and tested many ideas from other organising books over the years and even though they have good advice something always seems missing for me and I thought this might just be another one, but when I read her introduction something sparked.  I could identify with her initial interest in all things tidy at a young age and her obsession with home-style magazines.  Rather than play with my toys I would line them up as if in assembly at school – this might be bricks, or dolls or those little Wade porcelain figures – everything had to be in order for me even by age six.

The tidying has never been a problem it happens naturally – but keeping it tidy  – that is my sticking point and most of this is due to our busy lives.  I also have a knack of leaving my own tidying to go and help a sick or busy friend or relative do theirs.  I leave their house tidy and go home to my mess!  She continued to talk about how to keep the tidiness and she was suggesting it isn’t to do with lack of time.   Aha I thought this sounds like I might be on to something and I am now curious to discover if the answer to my problem lies within these pages.

So I confess…both books came home with me.

I justified this purchase by telling myself that I had earned a treat after all the overtime I have been doing lately and that this could be the change my life needs.

So if you don’t hear from me for a while you will know this time it is because I have my head in a book…or two.

Financial Focusing review #2

Such a short month February I suppose it should be easier to stay in budget but I still went over by £1.85.  Now I am thinking if only I had taken one more packed lunch I would have hit my target.

If you haven’t been following along my budget allowance for this month has been taken from the whole of  last years spend for each category – less 10% then divided by 52 and times 4 which gives me the figure in the end column.

February 2014 Spending

The £13 for cleaning product was spent on water filters  – a box of 6 which were half price.  I have classed them as a cleaning product as it isn’t really a grocery item either and after all in my logical thinking they do clean up the water!

My groceries were well under budget but my lunches more than double – I must make an effort to pack up more – my mornings are always so busy I need to know exactly what I am taking in fact Ideally I should prepare it the night before.

I had to buy more supplements this month as I had not been replacing them as I ran out since Christmas and they are always expensive I also stocked up on Homeopathic remedies which have to be ordered over the internet.

And you may have noticed the stationery spend ooops – still I am reorganising my office space – I will have some photos soon to show you of the new streamlined office which is slowly coming together now –  but not yet finished.

I managed without buying any petrol last month but I know as I write this I will need to fill up tomorrow when I go shopping I am just hoping I will get a petrol voucher to get some money off.

I am really pleased with the toiletries coming in at £6.24 all I bought was Epsom Salts and Ball of foot cushioned pads both items for my feet.  I add the Epsom salts to my foot bath when I soak my feet.

And now the items that came into our house in the last week or two.

What I bought Feb

 

From left to right –

  • Black display binder – to store my decorating ideas
  • Patterned shopping bag – self explanatory
  • Mini spray bottle – for cleaners – I use these around the house as they are neat and small enough to store in small spaces
  • 3 books – yes I went to Waterstones when I was in Leeds for my hospital appointment but I only paid for one of them as I had £10 on my stamp card and £4 on my points card.
  • 1 box lawn food – ready for April this was on offer at Sainsbury’s
  • Toiletries – 3 for 2 offer on shower gel plus extra points,  handwash from the £1 shop
  • 3 spiky physio balls – I have been wanting to order these for a while as the osteopath I saw last year swears by them for tight muscles.
  • Pack of commemorative children’s TV stamps – occassionally I treat myself to a pack of special stamps for my collection – I couldn’t resist this one of Childrens TV characters
  • Garden Illustrated magazine – I bought this for the article on planting a white border.

None of the items came out of my housekeeping budget apart from the toiletries which are from the March budget and so don’t appear in the table above.

These pictures will now go into my Incoming items tab on my rerouted blog click here to see the full list so far this year of what has come into the house that is not food.

This weekend I had to search for car insurance and breakdown.  After the performance I had when I broke down before Christmas with the free breakdown included in my insurance which turns out is not free at the point of need I decided to buy a years cover from Green Flag which will cover me going to work or  further afield for £65.  My car insurance does not reduce if the breakdown is not included as it is ‘free’ but my current provider is still the cheapest available to me when I search the internet comparison sites.

I am always glad when that job is done and I am signed up for another year.  To make the whole task easier I have a typed sheet with all the information I require to answer the questions such as the year I passed my test and the year I bought my car.  I keep this with my folder so I can refer to it each year – I also keep a note of my no claims bonus years as different providers have different limits.  I am now on 11 years no claims wheras my providers limit is 9 years.

I will need to keep a careful eye on the March budget – it is a longer month and with Mothers Day coming up I will be having a visit from my mum which I will need to save for so I can treat her to a few days out and about.

How are you doing with your budget so far?

Financial Focusing review #1

Update for February Housekeeping

February                                                              Wk1                 Wk2
Groceries / wholefoods and cleaning      21.10               38.15
Lunch & snacks at work                                 0.00                 7.65
Medicines/ remedies / supplements        2.29                 0.00
Stationery                                                            0.00                 5.97
Toiletries / makeup                                         6.24                 0.00
Total                                                                      29.63                51.77
Having a week off work with my poorly foot  in week 1 of February actually saved quite a bit of money partly because I did not have to buy lunches and partly because it kept me out of the shops!
I did also use some reward points towards my groceries so although these figures look quite reasonable if I factor in the reward points I would have overspent on food.
I am quite proud of myself for not buying any magazines this month so far.  I have a subscription for Country Living (xmas present) and I kept last years too to reread – much of which is still relevant.

Update for the bill budget

There is good news on the energy savings too – Npower our gas provider have refunded our account with £250 and will reduce our standing order to £60 month.  I will be working hard to get this reduced further but at the moment this is a start.
Scottish Power are yet to send us the £54 cheque for the compensation due for last years 3 days without power during the heavy snow.  I was told it would be here the end of January and I rang to remind them of this last Friday but could not get to speak with the right person.  It is quite frustrating that I have to keep chasing them – I can feel a letter coming on.

Items coming into the house this last week. 

I have been having some problems with the car remote and have had to use the ordinary key.  So I bought a new battery which only lasted a day so I think there must be something wrong with the remote fob – a bit of a waste of a new battery and the money.
Car remote battery
I bought these garden chair covers to put over the metal patio chairs and keep them from the bad weather. Money well spent here I think.
Garden Chair covers
This is a granite worktop saver and I have had this on my list for a long time – we have one at the cottage and they are extremely useful and versatile – I can chop veg and put hot pans on here and being cool it is good for pastry though perhaps a bit on the small side.
Granite worktop saver
This exercise of monitoring what comes into the house is quite enlightening and I am already beginning to see where some of the money goes and how we  accumulate more stuff soon after a clearout – I have already bought quite a few items this year even though it hasn’t felt like it.  One or two new items a week will accumulate over the year to a huge 52 -104 items.  That is actually quite a lot of new things to find homes for unless they are replacing something I already have.
Tomorrow is shopping day – with my meal plan in hand I should only be buying the basics – bread, milk, fresh veg and anything we have run out of.  I don’t know whether to be excited or worried about a trip to Rymans one night this week.  I am clearing our home office / craft room at the moment and need a few more stationery items to complete my new systems.  The temptation could just prove too much!
On a different note my appraisal was OK – glad it is over I don’t feel I get much out of them really and I don’t see how one form can suit all personalities I feel I need to redesign mine to make sense to me!  It will now end up in a folder and like everyone else only be referred to prior to the next review in 6 months time – not how they are meant to be used but I will be making my own goal and task list that I can understand.
Have a good day tomorrow – the weather is certainly improving but for how long?

January Spending Review…

Crutches

At last these are now redundant and my foot almost back to normal.  Thank you everyone for the kind words – at least it hasn’t prevented me from reading your posts.

I have been having a bit of a review of my spending for January – has my financial focus done any good?

January 2014 Spending

This was a 5 week month – my 1st week began on Monday 30th December and the 5th week ends on Sunday 2nd February for ease of calculating and comparing full weeks. 

I had a £38.18 overspend in total with some of that being on groceries, lunches and petrol.  However, if I am careful I won’t have to buy petrol next month unless I go further afield to see my daughter or my mum comes down for a visit.  On the whole I am quite pleased with the result at least having a target makes sure that you limit any temptation to overspend.

The areas I need to work on are lunches and stationery – quite clearly a bit over the budget I have allowed myself!

As you know I am photographing everything that comes into the house that is not food and below are the items for last week.  You can see all the items to date by clicking on the Incoming Items 2014 tab across the top of my blog.  It will be interesting for me to look back and analyse exactly what has been useful or not, what I didn’t really need to buy and what I haven’t even used!  Hopefully none of the last category.

New products Wk 5

A Mascara, 2 x  lip gloss and a bottle of Tea Tree Oil

Shopping Wk 5

You will have noticed the second photo contains all stationery items – once I go into Rymans I can’t help myself it is like being in a sweetie shop – but they are all to help me in getting the office better organised. 

The Deep Tuff box is something I am test driving so to speak.  At the moment it contains all the papers and brochures in connection with our future new Kitchen.  I might also buy one for my extensive garden clippings and notes.  They fit neatly on a bookcase on end and I think they are an excellent way to contain papers in a space saving upright position.

The long thin item is actually called Filefix  – A4 self adhesive filing strip, something that I actually made myself a long time ago by cutting the side strip of one of those thin plastic wallets and sticking the perforated edge to the edge of an instruction booklet so that I can put it with all the other papers in my instructions binder.  Perhaps I should have patented the idea at the time but I am delighted someone else has thought to market them.

These coupons also came into the house this week by post – at least we had no junk mail.  I can use the Tesco coupons for food on our next trip to Scotland and the M&S vouchers for £18 will come in handy for food or a gift or two or even new tights.

Coupons

I hope you had a thrifty January  – have a lovely weekend.