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Declutter November – end of week 3

Posted by on Monday 21 November 2011 in decluttering | 1 comment

We’ve finished another week of Declutter November – and I’m beginning to struggle a bit!

I think I snagged a lot of the low hanging fruit earlier in the month and during the garden & wardrobe, and this week’s kitchen, mini-challenges so now I feel like I’m picking things just to meet the target rather than because I actually want to get rid of them. That said, I don’t have any wobbles about the things I’ve selected so perhaps it’s good that I’m being forced into it – I’m looking for stuff to declutter rather than it jumping out at me.

This week’s selection then:

  • three books (3 items)
  • a pair of candlestick holders that we got as a gift nearly ten years ago and have never used (1 item)
  • a cute … thing (pencil case? make up bag) that I bough on eBay thinking it was purse size (it’s not) (1 item)
  • two necklaces I took to my mum on Saturday so they’re not pictured (she gave me some of her clutter in return – clutter swap! – but I’m still counting them ;) ) (1 item)
  • and another not pictured – a cute little cotton hoodie I bought for one of our nephews when he was born but forgot to pass on until it was too late. He’s two in a couple of months so it’s sat on my desk for quite a while now! (1 item)

Declutter November mini-challenge week 3: the kitchen

While I’m starting to struggle in the rest of the house, the kitchen mini-challenge was easy peasy! I got rid of:

  • six big egg boxes – lots of people save egg boxes for us but we don’t have much use for these big 12/15 egg ones. They’ll go in the compost as it could use some bulk at the moment.
  • an old bamboo steamer – since we have since inherited both a better bamboo steamer set and a metal one from friends.
  • a cute little tea bag dish which is too small for our teabag mountain
  • the chicken-shaped egg holder I mentioned in the mini-challenge launch – he’s nice but not for us right now
  • the blue thing on the top of the pile, which is a thermos flask for soup/leftovers. I bought it when I temporarily didn’t have access to a microwave at work in … 2002? I then got access to a microwave and it was easier to take things cold then reheat them than carry the bulky flask. I have never used it!

I also moved a lot of things out of the kitchen: six plates, two bowls and four cups into cupboard space elsewhere along with our plastic picnic cups/cutlery; a carrier bag full of old teatowels to use as dirty rags elsewhere; two little shelves of misc; and all the medicines in the box below, which had been stuffed on a toddler-height shelf instead of being properly put back in the medicine box in the bathroom:

We now have some paracetamol, a pack of ibuprofen and a pack of plasters in a little drawer in the kitchen – that’s more than enough on hand. And now we’ve moved everything that nearly two year old nephew who never got his hoodie is far less likely to accidentally overdose on Strepsils and sticky plasters too…!

Between getting rid and clearing out, we now have a lot more cupboard space, an almost completely empty drawer, and three small shelves that are clear. Woo!

How has your week of decluttering gone? Are you still making progress?

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Stuff hangovers and aspirational buying

Posted by on Thursday 17 November 2011 in bad buys, decluttering, personal finance | 5 comments

In this, the Decluttering season, I’ve been thinking a lot about stuff and about how it comes into our lives. My intention was to write this post about the idea of a “stuff hangover” but after reading an article on Get Rich Slowly, I think it’s about more than that.

I suffer from a stuff hangover in several different areas – I’ve changed who I am and what I do but I’ve got stuff hanging over from previous versions of myself. For example, when I moved into our last house in 2000, I was straight out of university and I brought over all my uni notes, books and accoutrement. We brought a large proportion of those books and notes over here when we moved too even though I have long ago abandoned my post-grad plans in that area of study. Another thing: about five years ago, John wrote a comic strip that was quite popular in its incredibly nerdy niche and we sold t-shirts, stickers and badges based on the “characters” and in-jokes. The comic eventually wound up and when shirts sales reduced to a tickle, we took the shop offline too – but we still have a couple of boxes of stock leftover. Together the books/notes and t-shirts take up a fair amount of our storage space and because I see it regularly, I know I need to be brutal and get rid of it.

But there are smaller things that I’m blind to – the twenty pairs of trainer socks I cleared out from my sock drawer the other week were a smaller example, as are the various bits of jewellery I decluttered during last week’s mini-challenge. The jewellery hardly took up any space at all but it was there – in a jewellery box I didn’t use except to keep that unused jewellery in. It all adds up.

So that’s stuff from past-louisa still cluttering up life for present-louisa – the Get Rich Slowly article I mentioned at the start is, in part, about accumulating clutter/wasting money on things present-louisa wants to buy in order to be the perfect possible version of future-louisa: aspirational buying. The article (and comments) talk about things like when people buying exercise equipment because it’ll “force” them to keep fit, or buying the perfect dress or winter coat just because you like them, even though you never go anywhere nice or cold. The main focus of the article is about “buy for every day not special occasions“, which is something I’ve thought about before in terms of not getting use out of things because they’re saved “for best” but in this circumstance, it’s also about choosing a home or car that suits your every day needs not the once a year family get together, or camping trip (in both cases, it’s usually cheaper to pick something smaller and rent a hall/camper van when you need it, rather than having to pay for the extra cost, insurance etc).

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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?

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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?

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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!

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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?

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