Unclutter My Life. Day Three.

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

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

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.

Why We Humblebrag About Being Busy

Originally posted on HBR Blog Network - Harvard Business Review:

We have a problem—and the odd thing is we not only know about it, we’re celebrating it. Just today, someone boasted to me that she was so busy she’s averaged four hours of sleep a night for the last two weeks. She wasn’t complaining; she was proud of the fact. She is not alone.

Why are typically rational people so irrational in their behavior? The answer, I believe, is that we’re in the midst of a bubble; one so vast that to be alive today in the developed world is to be affected, or infected, by it. It’s the bubble of bubbles: it not only mirrors the previous bubbles (whether of the Tulip, Silicon Valley or Real Estate variety), it undergirds them all. I call it “The More Bubble.”

The nature of bubbles is that some asset is absurdly overvalued until — eventually — the bubble bursts, and we’re left…

View original 1,016 more words

Take only photos, leave only footprints…

And fill your house with souvenirs?

I have never been one for buying holiday souvenirs. Even before I consciously made the Not Buying It choice, I don’t think I have ever brought much back from my travels. After 8 visits to Turkey I finally got aTurkish evil eye to protect my house last year, as I thought it may be my last visit to Dalyan.Evil Eye

Yet many years ago it seems that holiday souvenirs were important things to bring back. In just the way we all used to send postcards. Postcards are a novelty in this digital age, yet I still picked up the odd one or two when travelling, and having inherited a large box of postcards dating back to the 1930′s through to the 1970′s from my mother, sending postcards was the done thing pre internet days.

As I said, now they are a novelty, yet many of my very digitally engaged twitter friends make a big deal of sending them, as part of the digital detox when on holiday. Indeed I think I made rash promises to send some. I didn’t. And there is the 60 Postcards project that went viral, for all the right reasons. Not that I will be buying the book of course.

Often these souvenirs we picked up as a gift to family and friends, like this perhaps for granny?Weston-Super-Mare

I did collect badges in the 60′s and 70′s. Mom sewed them on my beanie hat.Badges

It was our way of saying ‘look where I have been’ in the same way that uploading the photos to Facebook or our blog does now.

And as I am making choices of what to keep and what to sell or give away, deciding what is tat, treasure, vintage or retro, I remember we have these.Japan

My husbands grandfather went to Japan in the 1920s and brought these home as a reminder of his time teaching English there. They are 90 years old. Definitely treasure then.

And because I am decluttering, and Not Buying It I try not to bring any many souvenirs back from my travels now. Tea towels from New Zealand for friends and family for two reasons.

They were easy to carry in the packs, and New Zealand make the prettiest and maybe the oddest but best quality tea towels ever.

These from Australia are pretty good too. The plan was to make them into cushion covers, but everyone who knows me, knows I can’t sew.Australia

On my last trip I took something very precious to Santorini. I had no plans to bring anything back apart from happy memories and a sense of closure.Oia Santorini

Of course there is a but! Yet I feel I can justify these two items unlike all the other souvenirs we have scattered around the house, these are useful and are not going to add to the mound of clutter. What are they?Tea

I just had to get this tea as it was the best tea I have had for a long time and when I drink it I am back at Villa Nectarios.Breakfast

And this shower gel. I love Korres products, they had a BOGOF offer on them.

Korres Santorini Shower Gel

And it reminds me of Santorini every day.

Santorini

What do you have that remind you of places you have visited?

 

Live Below the Line – Day 4

Yet again, A Girl Called Jack comes to the rescue for ideas for dinner tonight. Chickpea and Peach Curry.Chickpea and Peach Curry

I have made this before and that time I changed it slightly as I only had tinned mangoes in the cupboard. This time I used peaches, but yet again I tweaked it. We are away for a long weekend and I had a banana and some tomatoes that really needed using up. So I threw those in plus the scraping from a jar of chutney. I used one mug of long grain rice, which gave me four ample portions. As a guess, as the tins of peaches, chickpeas and tomatoes are all under 35p each at Aldi, with rice, this cost just over £1 to make. It provided a large supper tonight and a light lunch tomorrow for two adults. That is 25p per portion.

For the rest of my meals today I had porridge with milk, home made soup and two teas without milk.

I have not been hungry at all and I came in well below the £1 today.

What is more this is seriously going to change my attitude toward eating more meat free meals.

Live Below the Line – Day 3

Pasta in a hurryOh dear, still failing to meet the £1 a day target.

Tonight we are having our old favourite, a bargain version of Jamie Oliver’s Pasta al forno con pomodori e mozzarella using basics from Aldi. The most expensive item is the mozzarella at 44p per packet yet still it comes out at about 36p a portion. So with porridge at 7p, including milk and sugar, lunch at 40p as it was left over sausage casserole and tea at 4p for 2 cups (no milk) and a bottle of water I have ‘spent’ 94p on food and drink today.

I have now tallied what we have eaten the past 3 days, and what that has cost in real terms. So far this is £13.78 for three adults, or £1.53 per person per day. The most expensive meal was probably the sausage casserole followed by the pasta bake that was made before the challenge for supper on Saturday. Leftovers from this have been meals for The Gamer when he has not wanted to eat lentils or soup. Both of these contained meat. If I took the meat our of the menu we would be within the £1 per person a day. Oh and The Gamer bought fast food for two days when he has been out with friends. So add £6 to that total and now I am way over budget.

Yet, I think if I tallied up my costs I am within the £1 a day. And not hungry.

This is only possible because I did not go and shop with £5 on Monday. I have only used 200g of 2kg lentils and 100g of 1kg of rice so far and have costed meals based on those portions. I cannot buy small portions at the same cost per kg of these items. The bigger the pack the lower the price. So in a way this is where the challenge is flawed as it does not factor in the saving by buying larger packs that are better value. Yet if you are on a low income or benefits, the chances are you will only have £5 per person for food. This means you cannot afford to buy in bulk and reduce costs over a longer time.

What is the answer? I have ideas but I would be interested in what others think.

Live Below the Line 2014 – Day 2

Day 2 dinner tonight. And yes we can afford some meat.

Image

I didn’t think meat would be on the menu at all this week. These are Aldi gluten free sausages and at £1.99 for  6, substantially more expensive that the 99p value sausages suggested by Live Below the Line UK. I decided to have only one sausage and have the other for lunch tomorrow as there was so much sauce.

And it will all come in under £1 a day as I had lentils and rice left over from yesterday for lunch today and porridge for breakfast. I really have not had the time to do the math yet, but I am pretty sure that as these meals cost less than 33p each, and my sausage cost 33p, I am still within budget. I have my home made bread to fill me up and I even had tea.

This sausage casserole has featured on this blog before, based on a recipe from a student cookbook, using tinned potatoes and carrots instead of fresh, inspired by A Girl Called Jack and her recipe for Sausage and Lentil One Pot dinner.