Where growing, making & good living come together

Declutter November mini-challenge week 3: the kitchen

Posted by on Monday 14 November 2011 in decluttering | 8 comments

Our kitchen is just about smallest proper room of our house but is also the most tightly packed: all the usual food, utensils, crockery etc but also the more specialist stuff for our cooking-related hobbies such as John’s wine making and my preserving. I’m sure that’s not an unusual situation for simple living-type people.

At the start of the month, I was thinking about what needs to be in our store cupboard but in order to keep that full and productive, I think I need to sort through our pantries and clear some space: be realistic about what we won’t use at all or something we just need a bit of encouragement to use up (and not replace).

So the mini-challenge: in addition to your one-a-day decluttering, get rid of five extra items from your kitchen. They can be food, tools, pleasantly chintzy but impractically small chicken-shaped egg holders or whatever.

(I’m personally also going to take the opportunity to think about making more space the kitchen – even if it just means moving things to other parts of the house. We’ve got a mini-utility room now and I think more under-the-sink stuff could go down there. And used-once-in-a-blue-moon spare cups etc can go into storage somewhere else. That won’t be as satisfying as just outright getting rid of things but it’ll help us use the kitchen better so will be a step in the right direction.)

What can you get rid of? Can you move anything to somewhere else to make more usable space?

Read More

Declutter November – end of week 2

Posted by on Monday 14 November 2011 in decluttering | 5 comments

So we’ve reached the end of Declutter November week 2 and I don’t know about you guys but our “out” pile is getting pretty big!

My items for this week:

  • two works diaries from 5 and 6 years ago. I disliked the jobs then, and have no interest in who I had to call at 10am on 5th February 2004 now. (counted as one item)
  • a complete ball of blue novelty yarn (I hate working with novelty yarn, not sure why I have this)
  • 3 little baggies of beads (counted as one item)
  • two books
  • a couple of dead plants, that I’d been unsuccessfully trying to revive (not pictured) (counted as one item)

I was stood with all of the above, bar the plants, in the middle of our spare junk room last night, a little annoyed that they wouldn’t really make an impact on the clutter up there, when I realised two things:

  1. The act of looking for & selecting those things is, at this habit-forming stage, more important than clearing lots of space, and
  2. I was leaning on a big bag of “storage limbo” clothes that I had cleared out shortly after we moved here over two years ago and not looked through since.

So the big bin bag of clothes became my seventh item and lo, it also cleared a good amount of space!

And speaking of clothes…

Declutter November mini-challenge – the overlooked bits of your wardrobe

John and I had an evening of going through our wardrobes last Tuesday. John did the equivalent of my shirt sort through earlier in the year: trying on all his shirts and trousers to see what actually fitted him well/comfortably (answer: not very much as he’s changed size over the last couple of years and nothing really fitted his tall/broad frame properly before then either). I got rid of the shirts that I’d put into storage limbo back then, and also went through the overlooked bits of my wardrobe as defined by the challenge.

For the challenge, I needed five things but in the end, my get-rid stash included: six bras (which all have only been worn once or twice max because my boobs didn’t like them), three pyjama tops, four silky camisole sets, two jumpers, sandals, (nearly new, too big) trainers, (too narrow) cute starry flats, a belt, a messenger bag and three little handbags, some jewellery and a little jewellery box.

Between us, the result was seven (small-ish) bin bags, plus two carrier bags of stuff – and more importantly, much easier to navigate wardrobes. Win!

How is everyone else doing? Are your “out” piles growing too?

Read More

Declutter November mini-challenge – the overlooked bits of your wardrobe

Posted by on Monday 7 November 2011 in decluttering | 7 comments

Since many of us have gone a bit silly in the cheap clothes boom over the last decade, we’ve got wardrobes, chests of drawers and vacuum-packed storage bags stuffed full of clothes we no longer wear. There is a lot of coverage in the media these days about getting rid of everything you’ve not worn in the last 12 months, how to organise a clothes swap/swishing party or how to par down to a capsule wardrobe of five classic items.

Like most people I know, I generally keep on top of my tops, shirts, skirts and jumpers – checking through everything every six months or so, and consigning stuff to storage limbo if not straight to a charity shop. (95% of stuff in storage limbo goes to the charity shop at the next clear out.) But a few weeks ago, I realised there were a few areas I don’t really think about when I’m tidy: I then proceeded to get rid of over 20 pairs of knickers (either completely falling apart, the wrong size for me or thong style, which I used to wear but now hate) and about the same amount of socks I never wear for various reasons (size, fabric, shape etc). My underwear drawer is so much easier to navigate now!

So this mini-challenge is about those sorts of place: in addition to your usual one thing a day, have a look through the overlooked bits of your wardrobe to see if you can get rid of another five things from there. Everyone will overlook different bits, but here’s some ideas:

  • Your underwear drawer, your lingerie stash and tights collection etc
  • Nightwear/pyjamas
  • Accessories – charity shops love spare winter scarves/gloves/hats at this time of year, but also look at belts, ties, cotton/silk scarves, sunglasses, bags and other hats – are you really going to wear that fancy fascinator again?
  • Shoes
  • Swim wear and holiday items
  • Exercise clothes – especially if you’re an occasional exerciser like me :)
  • Coats – if they’re hung up on hooks away from your wardrobe, they might get missed.

Have a think – do you think you overlook anywhere? What can be cleared out from there?

If I’ve missed anywhere obvious in my suggestions list, do let me know as I’m probably overlooking it and will need to sort it out!

Read More

Declutter November – end of week 1

Posted by on Monday 7 November 2011 in decluttering | 7 comments

So last week we kicked off our Declutter November challenge – 22 of us have pledged to get rid of one thing every day in November (and possibly other things in the weekly mini-challenges too), with the hope of making our homes a little bit tidier and, more importantly, changing how we look at all that junk.

Team Declutter: how has your first week been?

This is my first six days pile:

I thought this week would be really easy for me and John – the obvious stand-out “get rid of me!!” stuff – but I’ve been distracted with my hardcore start to NaNoWriMo (32,104 words in 6 days!) so I’ve copped out a bit (since they’re not really a clutter problem for us) and included three books. But the top one was a pure clutter book: I’ve only read half of it and didn’t like it, but John bought it for me as a birthday present just before we got together so it always had a special meaning/been a memory. Then this week I realised that we’ve been together for nearly ten years now so plenty of much better memories together: sod the book I didn’t like!

The other things are:

  • a food cover/umbrella thing – it’s nice but doesn’t collapse so always been a bit in the way.
  • a never-used-for-anything ginger jar.
  • a little souvenir Russian/matryoshka doll. This was one of those “completely blind to it” things: it was a souvenir gift from someone else that had got mentally bundled in with the matryoshka set we selected for ourselves while in Russia a few years ago. I’d stopped seeing it as a separate thing that I didn’t like. Gone!

I took this picture before John selected his Sunday item but he’s mostly getting rid of books too:

The glass (salad?) bowl is just about the most inappropriate thing clumsy people like us should own. We were too scared to use it so just filled up half a cupboard and was never used…

Declutter your greenhouse, garden or shed mini-challenge

I set the first mini-challenge on Tuesday – get rid of five items growing-related items, however that applies to you.

Over the weekend, I got rid of a broken plastic bucket and a got-another-just-like-it rake from the space near the chicken coop. And from further up the patio, I got rid of a rusty old waste bin which had been sat near the outside tap for a year? two years? and its contents (an ancient dustpan brush, a slightly snapped cat tray scoop – all counted as one thing), and also a plastic plug tray which we must have stood on half a dozen times. I also sorted through my seed stash and got rid of some things I don’t think I’ll try growing again: cauliflower, watercress and some Real Seeds pepper seeds (we just don’t have the sun for them – but my dad does, so I’ll send them to him).

All in, I liked that I actually got rid of some trip-over-it clutter from the garden and vow to try harder to get rid of stuff like that from the house this week too.

Team Declutter: what have you been getting rid of?

Read More

Declutter November mini-challenge – your greenhouse, garden or shed

Posted by on Tuesday 1 November 2011 in decluttering | 1 comment

Here’s the first mini-challenge of the Decluttering in November challenge: in addition to your usual one thing every day, find five things to get rid of from your greenhouse, garden or shed.

I was going to leave this one until later in the month but, if last year is anything to go by, our worlds might be under a blanket of white by then so I’ll decided it would be better to declutter while the sun shines :)

So anyway, for this one, you need to get rid of five things from whatever garden/growing space you have.

This is going to be easier for some people than others. If you’ve only got a few houseplants or herbs on the kitchen window sill, you might struggle but do you have any unwanted old plastic plant pots lying around? decorative planters/pots or even vases you no longer use? multiple half bottles of BabyBio that could be condensed into one? Or even the plants themselves – anything you don’t want any more? People often give large plants away on our local Freecycle/Freegle group.

For grow-your-own people with more space: it’s the pretty much end of the growing year so think about what you’ve not used in the last 12 months – any pots, container or tools you could get rid of? Anything broken beyond repair? Because we growers love to reuse things, many of our gardens/allotments resemble junk heaps of possibilities: I’m not advocating getting rid of those planks that might become raised beds next year or the barrel than might become a waterbutt but to look at everything again: be realistic and honest with yourself, and think if someone else might get better use out of it than you. This sort of thing isn’t going to sell at charity shops but, again, all this sort of thing regularly turns up on our Freecycle/Freegle list and there are an increasing number of gardening community groups that might be grateful for resources.

On a smaller scale, what about your seed stash – anything you’re not going to grow again that could be passed on? Half bottles of feeds/fertilisers that are taking up shelf space? And what about spare/old growing books?

Have a look around and see what can go :)

Read More

Declutter November is under way!

Posted by on Tuesday 1 November 2011 in decluttering | 10 comments

I mentioned last week that I’m going to set myself a decluttering “challenge” for November – get rid of one thing every day.

I’m also going to set some weekly themed mini-challenges to get rid another five things each week, so by the end of the month, 50 things should be gone from the house.

It’s a bit of a two-fold plan: 1) get rid of some unwanted junk and 2) by doing it daily for a sustained period to make me more conscious of the stuff around me and look at things in a new “do we need or even want this?” light.

I asked if anyone else fancied a clearout too and a good few people jumped on board:

Collectively, we’re going to get rid of a lot of junk!

I’ll announce the first mini-challenge this afternoon but until then crew (and anyone else who wants to join in!), let’s take off our clutter blinkers and get going! :)

Anyone else up for it? If so, leave a comment below and I’ll add you to the list

UPDATED TO ADD: I’ve add the new sign-ups to the list – 21 22 of us at this count. That’s means over a thousand things are going to leave our collective houses – yay!

Read More