Unclutter my life. Day Seven. The Bearwood Jumble Trail.

It an attempt to sell some of the things I am unearthing during this unclutter my life process I am taking part in the Bearwood summer Jumble Trail. Think yard sale with lots of people all holding one on the same day in the same neighbourhood.

I am hoping to offload some of the cookery books I sorted through, and have been going throught the last few things that I still have from Mom after sorting through her stuff. The amount of stuff she had was staggering for just one room. And I am sorting through my stuff so my kids don’t have to.

At the moment this is what is going into the jumble.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESBrownie badges circa 1989.

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Including the sash.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESEnamel souvenir charms.

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Soft toys.

And a selection of Bionicles, donated by my son. He too has the declutter bug. He has a vested interest in this declutter exercise as when he saw how much stuff Mom had, he realised that one day he may have to go through my stuff. And as a person who is not a hoarder, has enough clothes to last a week and only one pair of shoes, this one collection of stuff was a blip.

Let us hope the sun shines and the people of Bearwood want some decent cookbooks, Bionicles and Brownie Badges.

 

 

 

Unclutter My Life. Day Six. Back into the closet.

This is definitely more than a 7 day exercise. I started clearing my closet on day one. What I didn’t say was that was just one of many that need uncluttering. And then there are the sock and undie drawers. Stuffed to overflowing and something had to be done.

I emptied the sock drawer.

54 pairs of socks

Cleaned it.

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Drawer organiser

Inserted an organiser.

Organised socks

Put back only socks I knew I would wear. The thick colourful ones are a necessity for English winters. And on a chilly summer evening. I started with 54 pairs and 17 odd socks. I now have 24 pairs in the drawer.

These did not make the cut, and I plan to donate them to Socks and Chocs, a charity that helps the homeless.

The left over socks

Seriously, do I need 24 pairs of socks?

Then onto the undies (no photos of those you will pleased to know).

The suck you in to give you a flat tummy that make you faint, went straight into the bin. I am fat, these will never make me look thin. The shabby ones also went into the bin. The rest were sorted by colour into an organiser. Bras, the ones that I have not worn for over two years because the fasteners have broken – binned. I have kept some I rarely never wear, just in case. Just in case of what? No idea. This uncluttering is hard!

Inspired, I went through the baskets. I have one for tights. People who know me well and read this blog, how many times have you seen me in a dress and tights? I did sort them and the ones with holes in were binned. I do wear dresses sometimes. In the summer, with sandals. And for interviews. And they may come in useful. You never know.

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A basket of tights

A basket for thermals. I can justify those. Victorian house that is cold. My current workplace is a church, my office is the vestry. It is cold in there in the summer. Yup those thermals will be needed.

A basket of thermals

Sarongs and scarves in another.

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Sarongs and wraps

That did not fit on this.

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Scarves

I wear scarves ALL THE TIME. I don’t of course, but one day they may come in useful, all 30 something of them.

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Organised and colour coordinated

I then colour coordinated the dress closet. My 31 year old wedding dress is hiding in the plastic covers. There are a couple of items that still have the label attached, that I have never worn. Bought many years ago from Planet and Monsoon. Too gorgeous to part with. As is the beaded evening dress from Monsoon. None fit me of course. This is the year that I will lose 4 stone and wear them. It is.

So the de cluttering is going well. As you can see.

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Linen and the closet of the man of the house

At least the bed linen is organised (all 10 sets of it).The extra duvets and electric blanket? Did I mention a cold Victorian house? This my husbands side of the wardrobe. He too did the socks and undies exercise with me, in that he sorted his, not mine, obviously.

How do you think I am doing in my de cluttering journey?

 

I thought I was getting over the farsickness

until I heard this.

Every time I hear it I yearn to be travelling again.

It was on the radio today when I was in the hairdresser. I had to fight back the tears as they would have wondered what on earth was wrong with me.

I first heard this on Australia Day 2012, on the way back to Perth after a day out to Margaret River. As we drove back into Perth the storm began. Thunder, lightening and rain, threatened to cancel the firework display. It rained in every city I visited in Australia. As we walked into the hostel, soaked to the skin, the guy on reception, who had told us a few days ago that there was no chance of rain in Perth this time of year, looked at me and my husband and said ‘Rainmakers’. We got caught up in 8 cyclones during our travels, and we are still not put off. We are no strangers to holiday disasters.

Margaret River Region

 

And now, whenver I hear Goyte singing ‘Someone That I Used to Know’, I travel right back to that day. And I know that I just have to be on the road again.

 

Unclutter My Life. Day Five. The Hall aka the dumping ground.

It seems that these posts have been inspiring readers to tackle the clutter in their lives too. My Unclutter book is now out on loan to a friend.

The Reception Station Before

I managed to clear/create the reception station. As I don’t have the book I have no idea what day or time of day I was suppoed to do this. Monday I think.  It is Wednesday. And I started this 9 days ago. What I do know that this seems to be a daily task as everyone empties their lives into the hall on a daily basis.

The Reception Station After It is also the place we put things that are on the way out of the house, such as books to return to the library, things we need to remember to take to work, or donations to take to charity shops. I am going to have to come up with a better solution to keeping this area clutter free.

I also tackled the emotional task of letting go of paperwork I found when going through yet another shoe box that my mother had kept in her wardrobe. I put my wedding planning folder from 31 years ago in the recycling bin.

The table plan was fun as there were divorcees there with new partners and the aunts and uncles from one side of the family were not talking to each other.

Table Plan

And many people on this plan are no longer with us. Holding on to stuff that have happy memories can trigger sad thoughts too.

Wedding Picture

Seems crazy that Mom kept them for so long.

Wedding disco

Gathering dust.

Menu

Yet when I came across them the other day, I could not part with them immediately.

Stone Manor Hotel for your Special Day

I scanned them.

Wedding Stone Manor Bill

And finally in a mass sort out of paperwork I said goodbye to them.

Comparing the costs

It was tough. Why so we hold such attachment to such things?

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I guess that is why sometimes we need a friend to help us let go of stuff. Someone to hold them for us to stop us forming an attachment to them. To help us decide that we do not need a table plan and the receipt for the wedding cake from 31 years ago

Wedding cake

After all I still have my husband, most of the dinner set, some of the cutlery and the towels. Not bad for 31 years.

Nostalgia, Cake and a Poem in The Cotswolds

Charlie aka Forages and Finds invited me and my family for a day out in the Cotswolds.

While I was looking forward to seeing her, I was really looking forward to seeing these.

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All 8 of us plus Truffle the doglet piled in and the adventure began.

When I was learning to drive in 1977 the two cars I had the pleasure of driving were a Mini Cooper and a Morris Traveller. This was a real nostalgia trip for me.

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Memories of when I was 17 flooded back. The smell of the car, the noise of the engine, the bouncy seats, no seat belts in the back, when motoring was about having fun, not about commuting, traffic jams and boy racers. When 50p filled up the petrol tank and 17 year olds could afford to insure a car. No air con, just wide open windows and the wind through your hair.

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Then, like today, a large group of us would set off  to Clent or the Lickey Hills in a collection of Morris Travellers, Minis, Jeeps and Beach Buggies. It was the 70’s, we were into Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young and The Eagles. We had long hair, flared jeans and tie die t shirts. We didn’t have California but we did have Clent.

Back to 2014. Charlie and Dom drove us first to Whichford for lunch at The Straw Kitchen. We had a mooch around Whichford Pottery too. I can thoroughly recommend a visit here. The gardens are lovely, the ceramics on sale are beautifully crafted and the selection of quality gifts is very good.

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The main reason we were here was for the food in this quirky cafe.

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The tea here is English in the true sense of the word as it is grown on the Tregothan Estate in Cornwall.

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The ingredients are seasonal and locally sourced. The menu has an Eastern Mediterranean influence, think Yotam Ottolenghi, with a Cotswold twist. The food is very good.

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And then Charlie announced that we were off to Adelstrop for a walk and some foraging.

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Adelstrop. Just a couple of weeks ago I had read the poem I Remember Adelstrop at Make Friends with a Book, the shared reading group I go to. I had mentioned then that I would love to visit the village. And now I was.

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Later after a walk and some trespassing and foraging we stopped here.

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For cake, of course. There is always cake when you are with Charlie and co.

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And we listened as Dom read aloud ‘I remember Adelstrop’. The people on the next table also stopped to listen. Such is the power of shared reading and good poetry.

Go and make some tea, cut a slice of cake and listen to Richard Burton reading the poem by playing the film below.

 

Unclutter My Life. Day Four. Music to inspire the process and technical issues.

There has been a gap in my efforts to get on with the decluttering. This is mainly to do with my WordPress issues. I have spent hours exploring ways to find a solution to the issue, the problem being I have used all the space on my free WordPress site. I then stupidly deleted photos from my posts because I am a ditz, spent ages uploading photos to Flickr as I thought I could link them to WordPress from there (if you can, I cannot work out how to). Spent even more time debating whether to go self hosted and how much will that cost and how the hell do I do it and basically having a digital meltdown.

Why has that got in the way of the decluttering process? Blogging and photos of the progress is very important to me on this journey. It is giving me a visual record of progress made. I am faced with a huge task and somedays I look at it and don’t know where to start. That depresses me, the negative thoughts creep in, I beat myself up for letting it get so bad and tell myself that I will never manage to get this house clean and neat and saleable. At that stage, and because it is sunny, I go in the garden and read. Shut the door on the mess that is my house.

What is different today? It is my day off work and I promised myself that I would get back on task. I want to go on holiday in September.  I want this house up for sale next summer. And I am going to see a good friend on Sunday who may just help me out with my WordPress issues.

Confession time. The decluttering was a by product of deciding to clean the sitting room. I could write my name in the dust on the tv stand. When the sun hits the window I could see that it needed cleaning. I didn’t want to go in there it was so depressing.

First of all the vacuum cleaner was full. Then I noticed that on the shelves were yet more bloody magazines. They went in the recycle bin. The oldest one today was from 2008. I was fat then and am fat now, lot of good buying that did me.

2008 magazine

Once they were off the shelf I noticed that the shelves were really dusty as were all the books on the other shelves. If they are that dusty this must mean we never look at these books. Right those can go too. A bag now sits in the hall to go to the charity shop.

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Steinbeck, I am sorry, I disagree. In my house at least, I really do not want or need more books. This is what I started with.

Before

An hour or two later, with Adele, Fleetwood Mac, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young for company, the shelves are sorted. All the vinyl in one place. What remains of my cook book collection is no longer on the floor, where they have been for the past few days. And clean shelves. It so much easier with good music blasting out, I even did a bit of dancing like no one is watching. And I clean, tidy shelves. Now to get that vinyl in alphabetical order… see number 21 of 30 Things Vinyl Collectors Love.

After

 

Unclutter My Life. Selling the Burberry, another persons closet to clear.

I haven’t actually got rid of anything today. I have however acted on a specific task from my life coaching session with Lisa Beaumont Cherry.  It also relates to my first post in this series, Unclutter My Life. Day One. However it is not my closet I am clearing. It is my mothers.

I have written before about my late mother and her clutter, and the hard process I have gone, and am still going through, slowly letting go of her stuff.

I identified during the life coaching session that it was realistic to advertise the four Burberry Trench coats, which were among the mountain of clothes that Mom hoarded, within a week. It has in fact been four weeks, but hey, it is done now. They have been in a spare wardrobe for over a year now. It is a step forward.

Today I photographed them.

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They have now been uploaded to Vestaire, and once I have negotiated the prices, they will be for sale.

And actually, I remember, I have got rid of some things today. I sold four of my cookbooks I sorted on Day Two.

Baby steps in the right direction.

 

Unclutter My Life. Day Two. Too many cookbooks.

I have jumped to Chapter 4, Wednesday Evening, of Unclutter Your Life in One Week. I am sorting my cookbooks into three piles. Yes my life is that interesting. This is how they were stored previous to this sorting process.

The task got started on Sunday afternoon. I think that the fact that I started a Monday morning task on Thursday afternoon (sorting my wardrobe) and a Wednesday evening task on Sunday afternoon gives you some idea of how I approach most things in life. Not a linear person at all. What I am doing however is tackling the jobs I can deal with. It seems to me it is pretty unreasonable to do all the jobs she suggests in 7 days. Others seem to agree, going on some of the reviews on Good Reads. I too am flicking through and cherry picking the tasks that work for me. Letting go of stuff is never easy so why force myself into a place that makes me uncomfortable? The task was to sort them into books I use once a week, once a month and those I rarely or never open. These made it to the less than a monthly/rarely pile. Some have one or two recipes I use occasionally. I checked and they are all available on line. All of these are being offered for sale.

Which books have I kept? My cookbooks nowDelia taught me to cook. Both are over 30 years old. I think they have stood the test of time. The student book is one I use all the time. The Hairy Bikers is relatively new so I have not tested which category it belongs to yet (that said all the recipes are on line) and this is the most used Jamie Oliver cook book. As most of his recipes seem to be availble on line even this may go. The juicing book came with the juicer and I live in hope of becoming a dedicated juice type of person. We shall see. How many cook books do you have and could you get rid of them like this?

Unclutter My Life, Day One. Going into the Closet.

In an attempt to restore order in my life, and to clear this house of all the stuff we have accumulated over 30 odd years, I am reading this book. Unlutter in 7 days

I know it will take me longer than 7 days. I have a six bedroom house. And the amount of stuff that is in it is overwhelming. I really did not know where to start.

This book is helping me to tackle the clutter, as it deals with one area at a time. I tend to start one job then get distracted. Yet the tranformation from being a person who talked and blogged about needing to do this, to one that was doing it, came as a result of attending a life coaching workshop at Nettlefest, led by Lisa Cherry Beaumont.

During the session I identfied that the area of my life I most wanted to make a change in was the clutter in my home.There are lots of other things about and in my life that I want and need to change and I listed all of them during the session.  I could only choose one and I chose this particular topic because, as it impacted on so many other areas of my life, it would potentially make positive changes there too.

It really helped that part of the process was writing an outcome statement and putting a date on it. As was visualising the impact that achieving the goal would have on my life.

I am constantly reading articles about decluttering, and after reading 20 Things In Your Home you Need To Get Rid Of Now I recycled 100’s of magazines that have been gathering dust. Some date back to 2009. I am not sure a dentist surgery will take magazines that old.

Old magazines

I have had this book for sometime, yet I am now more focussed on the goal as a result of the life coaching. The book is a tool to help me achieve that goal. After reading Chapter 1, Foundations, and Chapter 2, Monday Morning, Your Wardrobe, on a sunny Thursday afternoon in the garden, I was inspired to get going on some closet clearing.

My colour coordinated wardrobe

In 30 minutes I achieved this.

Coathangers

These are all the spare coathangers I have after weeding these out of the wardrobe. Out with the old

These clothes have now been donated to charity.

The book is, I think, somewhat unrealistic. Chapter 1, Monday, implies that the closet could be sorted before you set off for work. The second section of Monday covers organising your desk and office at work.  Monday evening, no flopping on the sofa with a chilled white wine, there is the Reception Station to be sorted.

Yeah right, that’s going to happen. Not.

Perhaps starting on a Thursday held me back.

Yet I have made a start. I have a Goal. I have identified the Reality. Explored my Options. Identified my Way forward. I am going to GROW.

Thrift is a choice for those who can afford it

to recommend thrift to the poor is both grotesque and insulting

Oscar Wilde. The Soul of Man Under Socialism 1891

He goes on to say :

It is like advising a man who is starving to eat less.

 

Yet isn’t that exactly what this government is telling us? To tighten our belts.

Food writers, TV chefs, glossy magazines, supermarket adverts are bombarding us with family meals on a budget, use cheap cuts of meat, grow your own veg, Save with Jamie and or Cheap and Cheerful recipes from James Martin.

The minimum wage for someone over 25 is £6.31 per hour.If you work a 40 hour week that is just over £252 a week, or £13124 a year, £1093 a month, before tax and other deductions. If you live in a council flat almost a quarter of your income will go on rent. I have checked a local authority for properties to let, and for a one bedroom flat the rent is between £75 and £83 in West Bromwich, Sandwell. If you rent from a private landlord the rent would be an average of £99. And on top of that there are utility bills and Council Tax to pay, about £30 per week depending where you live and time of year. Add to that travelling to work by bus, that is another £12 a week if you have a bus pass or £4 a day if you don’t. Numbeo have a cost of living indicator here on which I have based these figures.

After deducting these from your £252 pay packet you would be left with £135 for everything else. Food, clothes, prescriptions, entertainment, and saving for the spectacles you need, the boiler repair and the phone bill. I haven’t even added in the cost of a TV licence or internet connection or cable.

And then you become ill. Too ill to work. Or you get laid off. And then you have to rely on benefits. From the date of making a claim for Job Seekers Allowance and other benefits, to receiving payment, could take up to three weeks. Sometimes more if you have to be assessed for your fitness to work.

The gas bill is due and you cannot pay it. You cooker stops working and you cannot afford to replace it. To help you ‘budget’ your utility company installs a pre payment meter, which is the most expensive way to pay for gas and electric. Yet it stops you getting into debt by having bills you can’t pay. And then it snows, the temperature plummets and you have £5 to last the next three days.

What would you spend that £5 on?

And this is a scenario for a single person with no dependents. What if there were young children in the family?

Would you tell the young man working in a bar, on a minimum wage to be more thrifty?Could you tell a mom who buys food for her child and lives on tea with sugar to keep her energy levels to eat less?

To work harder?

The Living Wage Foundation work with employers to encourage them to pay a living, not minimum wage. The Joseph Rowntree Association have set a Minimum Income Standard based on what members of the public think is enough money to live on, to maintain a socially-acceptable quality of life. Both organisations agree that the minimum wage is too low.

I heard of a family that only had one lightbulb. Only light the room you are in. They were not practicing thrift, it wasn’t a choice to have one light bulb. They really could not to afford to put money in the meter to pay for the electricity.

And those of us who earn much more than the minimum wage, can make a choice to be thrifty. We can decide to save for a holiday abroad, a new kitchen, a rainy day we hope will never happen. How many of us have made a choice to not eat out or have takeaways for a few months to save for something special? Have you chosen to shop at Aldi instead of Asda?  Did you chose to shop at charity shops and feel triumphant when you got a designer dress for a fiver?

Some of us can afford to be thrifty. Others don’t have that choice, it is thrust upon them. They have already cut back and the cupboard is bare. They hang around supermarkets for when items are reduced and charity shops are not an opportunity to bag a bargain but are the only clothes they can afford. If the boiler breaks they hope the landlord will fix it. In the meantime you have cold washes not showers.

This is a reality for so many people in the UK today. If they are lucky they may get a a job that pays more, that gets them off benefits. If they are not they may get a referral to a foodbank from the Citizens Advice Bureau or Local Authority.

These are the figures from The Trussell Trust. Foodbank is not a lifestyle choice. Foodbank is a life line.

  • 913,138 people received three days’ emergency food from Trussell Trust foodbanks in 2013-14 compared to346,992 in 2012-13

Of course it will never happen to you. You have a good job, a house with a mortgage, a company car and a Final Pension Scheme. Life is good. And you go to Florida on a holiday of a lifetime. On the first day back at work you get a redundancy notice.

Six months later you are still unemployed. You savings have all gone.

Your children get Free School Dinners. A grant for a free school uniform.

Twelve months later you have to attend mandatory job club, with half a dozen other middle managers and directors who, like you, thought it would never happen to them.

Eighteen months later you get a job, on half the salary you were earning before. The bills are the same, the mortgage is in arrears, and so you spend the next one, two, three, ten years paying of the debt you accumulated when unemployed.

No, this could never happen to you.

But if you really want to know how it feels to be hungry, to have a child who was hungry, then read Hunger Hurts by Jack Monroe.

And then make a donation to your local foodbank.