De-cluttering is good for the soul
Almost exactly one month ago, I got cracking on a second phase of our serious de-cluttering project and I’m pleased to say, it’s going well.
When we moved here two years ago, we needed two removal trucks and five men to cart all our possessions in. It took me the best part of a month to pack up our old house and I filled over 100 removal boxes. That’s just way too much stuff for any family.
I’m determined we’re going to live only with what we need and use from now on and this is how I’m doing it:
I’m looking afresh at our stuff and selling or giving away anything long-forgotten or simply not used. So far this week I have sold a freezer, a 56-bottle wine rack, a toddler’s balance bike and our spare buggy. I have £100 in my pocket as a result. Less stuff, more cash. It’s a win : win.
I’m implementing a strict(ish) one in one out policy - I honestly felt a little sick when I realised just how much of a conspicuous consumer I have been over the years. We have amassed so much stuff. So from now on. it’s a one-in-one-out rule. And so far, it’s working. I can talk myself out of any potential impulse buy now, just by reminding myself that I have something similar / the same / just as useful at home already.
I’m de-cluttering little and often. My wardrobe is now compact and my clothes stash fits into the space allocated to it (one wardrobe and half a double chest of drawers). I stood over my husband as he did the same to his enormous t-shirt pile and now we only have what we can store. It feels better. We’re not there yet with his stuff - coats especially have got out of control - but we’re getting there.
If it doesn’t fit in the space, it needs editing. DVDs and CDs, books, cutlery, crockery, glasses, the mug drawer. They’ve all succumbed to a good sorting in the last few weeks and the excess is either being sold, given away or recycled. It feels good to open a cupboard, look at a shelf and know that what’s there is there because I want it to be.
I’m focusing on minimalist mantras. I’ll never be a minimalist, but I’m sure as damn it going to rid ourselves of at least half our stuff and take a considered and contented approach to what remains. I don’t need 42 wine glasses. I need 8 at most. I definitely don’t need 6 Breton striped tops, two artificial Christmas trees, six spare dining chairs or a two-tier changing table.
I’ve got a little test when editing. Did I know I had it? Have I used it in the last year? Will I care if I don’t have it anymore? If the answer to these three questions is a resounding ‘no’, out it goes. Some stuff I sell, some I donate, other stuff I’m boxing up ready for a mammoth car boot sale in the spring. I must admit I prefer to lose it immediately rather than store it to lose later, but at least I’m making a nice neat pile of the storage boxes.
So there you go. How I’m de-cluttering. I’m no expert but I do have one tip to pass on. De-clutter under all the beds first. You wouldn’t believe the ongoing satisfaction of seeing nothing under any of our beds any more. It makes each room seem bigger, it even makes me feel lighter and brighter and it spurs me on to do the same to other areas too. Honestly, try it!
Last year this tree was adorned with baubles. This year it’s festooned with twinkly lights as a makeshift Advent tree for the boys.
I picked the little bags up from Ikea and am filling them with the obligatory sweet treats mixed in with special ‘activity’ treats for weekends and Friday nights.
On the list we have:
- curling up to watch Christmas movies with popcorn
- collecting the Christmas tree - this weekend, SO excited!
- visiting Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland - again, this weekend!
- baking jewel biscuits to hang on the tree
- a trip to the open-air ice rink as the sun sets
- making mince pies
- making paper snowflakes
- making gingerbread houses
- the first clue for our Christmas Eve Treasure Hunt
Linking up with Lou’s little advent linky - such creative ideas going on over there I can tell you!
Nature in the Home - Winter week 7
Hello! I’m back and joining in with Lou’s Nature in the Home themes for the run-up to Christmas, the first of which is a table centrepiece.
Earlier this week, I popped into the gorgeous interiors shop in town that stocks my cards to collect the November takings (yay! I made sales!!!) and rather than pocketing my profits, I made the fatal error of having an ooh and an aah over Sarah’s new stock.
I am steadily building up a wish list and would gladly buy everything in there, but this is at the very top of my list. One day….
Anyway, in the window were three beautifully planted bay trees in whitewashed pots, overlaid with a square of sackcloth and grey velvet ribbon. Well, I thought. One of those WOULD look rather beautiful on my kitchen table. And then I remembered NITH. And I decided it was fate.
So I handed over my profit and a bit more besides and came away with my bay. Sort of OK right?
Next week the theme is handmade wreaths, which is rather good as I am hosting a wreath-making-mulled-wine-drinking evening next week to make 40 of the things along with some other mums for our school fair. Should be plenty of photo opportunities for that one!
Nature in the Home: Autumn Week 5
One of my favourite books is Roald Dahl’s Danny Champion of the World. I loved it when I was younger and will treasure the memories of reading it to Louis each night when we first moved to the countryside.
It’s a wonderful book made all the more magical by the fact that our cottage sits right on the edge of a wood just like the one Danny’s dad poaches and, like Danny’s wood, ours is FULL of pheasants. Louis and I have discussed just how much sleeping powder we’d need to pop into a raisin, we know what time of night we’d need to go and we have concocted all sorts of getaway plans if we were caught. Of course, we’ll never enact our plans - poaching simple isn’t our game (!), but it’s fun to imagine Danny and his Dad creeping through our little wood.
At the weekend, the boys went into the woods with their friend and came back full of wide-eyed stories about finding a pheasant’s feather and coming across a supposed poacher’s trail. They came back with their mini-poachers’ loot and handily gave me a subject for this week’s Nature in the Home.
Making the most of the windfall apples
My neighbour gave us two big bagfuls of cooking apples this weekend. Her garden is a rambling affair with lots of gnarled and wind-battered old apple trees and like the rest of the country, her crop last year was almost non-existent but this year has been a bumper one for the humble apple - and we are reaping the benefits.
I’m not entirely sure what to do with 30+ cooking apples, but I’m going to do my best to use them this week as I don’t think they will keep for long. On Sunday, I made a Mary Berry recipe - American Apple & Raisin Cake - which was dead easy and rather delicious. We ate it with ice-cream in front of a roaring fire on Sunday evening.
I think I’ll also try another Mary Berry recipe too - this time for an apple dessert cake. Apparently it can be eaten like a Danish with morning coffee (I’m in!) but it also freezes well so it sounds pretty good to me.
I’ve also promised my mum & dad an apple pie when they come for dinner tonight and I reckon apples stewed with a bit of brown sugar will work wonders wrapped in a pancake for breakfast one morning.
What else can I do with them? Any tried and tested cooking apple recipes I’m overlooking? Can you make apple jam? Is it too early to make a dried apple Christmas garland?
The eleventh hour
At Sunday’s Remembrance service they read out the names of our town’s folk who died in the First World War. So many names. It must have devastated our little town.
After the service, the Parade marched around the town once more and ended up outside the pub where everyone sang Abide with Me. A beautiful tribute to The Fallen.
Looking up through the church window to the leaves falling outside, I thought of how that tree somehow represented those brave young men. Bunched together but then falling, inevitably, one by one, to lay in the cold ground.
We will remember them.
A sneak peek…
Of a new range of cards I’ve been working on (*eek!*).
The collection is small - a mixture of 10 portrait and landscape designs to start with. I took inspiration from the world around me when choosing the shots to use and I’ve gone for clean lines, uncomplicated compositions and muted tones which I hope will appeal for all sorts of occasions.
Samples were ordered yesterday - each card will have a rough-textured recycled brown envelope and a cellophane wrap - and I’ve got at least one supplier (hopefully) lined up. It’s a small step in an exciting direction.
What do you think? Would you buy one if you saw it on the counter in a lovely interiors shop?
Nature in the Home - Autumn week 3
The last of the fading hydrangeas from our faithful old friend in the garden plonked into my paint-stained, crackly-glazed marmalade jar - joining in with the autumn series of Lou’s Nature in the Home.
I think one of my favourite
time-wasting pastimes is pottering around my home making little vignettes of lovely things. We’re currently going through a massive purge to rid ourselves of the clutter and excess that fills our home - we desperately need to tighten our belts and raise some extra money so we’re looking afresh at our possessions, working out what we really need to survive and donating or selling the rest. We’re by no means going down the minimalist route, but we are starting to live with less.
It’s such a liberating and satisfying experience*. Ridding our home of things we no longer need or use gives space to the things we want to keep. It allows them to stand alone and stand out.
This old marmalade jar exactly illustrates that. It’s staying because I love it and it means something to me. Every layer of paint tells a story. The crackly glaze pleases my eye. It’s a little forever treasure holding fading stems from my favourite plant, plonked haphazardly on the top of a kitchen shelf and it makes me smile every time I see it.
By the way, I’m having all sorts of trouble commenting on other blogs at the moment - is anyone else finding the same? I write comments but when I submit them, they completely disappear, it’s so frustrating. I will get to the bottom of it but I just wanted to say I am visiting all your blogs and loving your posts even if I appear a bit silent at the moment - I will return (somehow!)
* Yesterday we sold our (shockingly under-used but perfect) treadmill to friends in our village - you wouldn’t believe the euphoria we felt at raising a bit of money and also finally freeing ourselves of the guilt that owning and neglecting such an item had burdened us with!
Treading worn paths and lingering long
We had a quiet half term, preferring the comforts of home to wild adventuring. The week off gave the boys and I time to re-charge, rest a little and spend time together just ‘being’.
But we did venture out midweek, wrapped in down-filled coats and boots and armed with a flask of soup and ham & cheese wraps, to Batsford. Our last visit was in January and we trod some of the same paths and lingered a bit longer under favourite trees, enjoying the autumn sunshine.
Trees were scaled, caves were explored, chocolate was munched in secret spots, tomato soup was slurped and fresh air was aplenty.
On the way back, we all sang at the top of our voices over the noisy old campervan engine to our favourite tunes as the sun set behind us.
It was a good day.
Nature in the Home - Autumn week 1
The rituals of autumn are comforting. Layering extra blankets on the beds and lighting candles to dispel the dark evenings. Emptying trouser pockets of conkers and harvesting our tiny pumpkin patch. Hearty Sunday roasts and steaming hot coffee after a walk. Digging scarves and gloves out of their summer storage and returning welly boots to their position at the back door. Watching the big old tree dropping its leaves once more.
Autumn has made a welcome return and so too has Lou’s Nature in the Home series.