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.

 

 

 

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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?

 

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.

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.

The 9 to 5 is a con to get you on the work, watch, spend, treadmill

It is what normal people do. I don’t. I rather like people who are not. Who do things differently. I believe that Life begins after normal.

Do you want to be normal?

Do you want to be normal?

It all starts here.

It all starts here

The work, watch, spend treadmill is all about buying stuff to make us feel better about ourselves. Stuff we have been told we need to make us fit in with, well normal people.

Most of us have to go to work so we have the money to buy stuff. Stuff we probably don’t need. Got an iPhone 3, really that is so last year? Now you need an iPhone 4G and in five months that will be so out of date, we will bring out a new version.

The end of the world

The end of the world

And people will queue all night to get their hands on the new version of Windows, trainers or the iPhone to replace the shiny ones they bought less than a year ago. Why?

I have an iPad. It is a ‘first generation’ iPad. Recently, because I hadn’t been ridiculed by a teenager for a while, I took it to the Apple Store for some advice. The child who helped me was amazed that I still had one, described it as vintage. It is less than 5 years old. It does what I need it to do and it will not be replaced until it completely breaks.

Which of course it will. All stuff now is made with a limited shelf life.

I have thought for a while that things don’t last as long as they used to. I have a Kenwood Chef that is 37 years old. I still use it every week. I guess you could call that vintage. Built to last. Now things are no longer built to last. The are built to break.

This is all due to Planned Obsolescence.

If it is not designed to break after a few years then the corporations will design a new version and advertise it as the new must have.

I waste

I waste

And consumers will dump the old style one in order to have the newest and most fashionable so that they don’t look different. They need to fit in and be normal. This is Perceived Obsolescence.

I am not nearly clever enough to have thought all this up by myself.images (4)

The credit for this cleverness has to go to The Story of Stuff. I came across this series of films a while back when writing  De Clutter please for your kids but today was the first time I really listened to it. And truly this needs to be shown at prime time every day for a week. It won’t of course because the governments and corporations will be exposed for their greed and lies.

Wait, haven’t they been exposed for their greed and lies already? And we are still buying into all this crap?

I bought into all this, I was building my career during The Thatcher Years, I didn’t really have a choice know I could have a choice. I got married, had a baby and bought my first home all in the matter of two years in the mid 80’s. I was fed a diet of Dynasty and Dallas and Thirty Something.  I wanted the house, the family, the lifestyle. I wanted to be Hope Steadman.

I was in a managerial role and sending my daughter to day care (even when she had chickenpox). No one at work knew I was a mom. No photos on the desk, I was suited and booted, so career driven so that I, with my husband, could buy a bigger house. And fill it with stuff.

The chance to jump off that treadmill came along when the first redundancy hit us. Do we sell the house and go travelling of look for another job?

Or move nearer family so that when the children were ill we didn’t have to take time off work, a relative could care for them. Really, that was what the conversation was like. And we chose the latter. We bought a five bed house for three of us. Did it up.Rag rolled and sponged everywhere. Had another child five years later (I had been made redundant so it seemed a good time to do so, no time off work). Moved to a six bedroomed house that was ‘in need of modernisation’ and lived on a building site for six months.

Seven redundancies and 30 years of paying off debt in the form of credit cards and mortgages because we chose the lie.

Be Happy

Be Happy

Now, when I read blogs by Ytravelblog and World Travel Family, who educate their children on the road, I regret not doing it. I made excuses, and still do. There was no Google when our children were young we would have had to haul books with us was the excuse I used for not taking my 3 year old travelling. Now of course we happily haul a heavy laptop with us everywhere. And at 3, did she need loads of books?

I wish we had not wondered what we would do when we came back. If we came back. Yet life is not for what ifs. I cannot change the past.

Which is why when we got a second bite at the cherry we ate the whole bunch. Took the money and went on a journey.

Travel Often

Travel Often

If you think you cannot go, ask yourself, what is stopping you?

“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”
― J.R.R. TolkienThe Lord of the Rings

Many of my friends said to me that I was lucky to be able to go off for 5 months around the world. No I wasn’t. I made it happen, it wasn’t luck it was planning. I saw the opportunity and made it happen. If I had waited longer it may not have happened as my mom had been diagnosed with an untreatable condition, yet she still encouraged me to make the trip. And stayed alive long enough to hear about what we did and who we met and where we went. I wrote about this in the post Go Travelling While You Can.

Take the leap

Take the leap

When Mom died I was sure of the poem I wanted read at her funeral.

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Robert Frost

She too was a traveller, and took the road less travelled by, often.

So what are you waiting for?

What are you waiting for?

What are you waiting for?

“The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say”
― J.R.R. TolkienThe Fellowship of the Ring

 

Not Buying It – But Borrowing Books

I love books. I really do. My first proper job after graduating was managing a book shop. I have worked in the library service. I love book shops. My favourite one at the moment is Scarthin Books in Derbyshire. If you have never been, you are in for a lovely surprise. Independently owned, it is an Aladdin’s cave of books. It has a lovely cafe and a wonderful view. Even the loo is worth a visit.

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I have all sorts of books, novels, travel books, cookery books. And it is hard to part with them.

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I have spent the last year weeding out my collection of books. I had too many. I need to declutter. I have probably got rid of over half my collection and the Jane Austen and Bronte novels I bought in the 1970’s were the first to go. That was hard. I knew that I would never read these editions again (I will re read the novels again and again) because the print is too small for me to read.

The process of deciding which ones to part with involved a lot of emptying of shelves and stacking of books. And a lot of dusting.

The sorting of the books begins

The sorting of the books begins

My cook book collection

These are in the kitchen and are all cookery books, with one or two gardening grow your own type books (I plan to and never do).

Two bookshelves in the dining room.

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The collection in the sitting room.

Books in the sitting room

Books in the sitting room

The ones I am thinking about donating or maybe not.

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I was tempted by a bargain book at the Green supermarket a couple of weeks back and as documented in a earlier post, I did not fall to the temptation.

I won’t be without my best friends though because I can get all these lovely books, for free at my library.

Currently on loan from Sandwell Libraries

Currently on loan from Sandwell Libraries

Twice a week I got to Make Friends with a Book, a shared reading group, that has four groups in Sandwell Libraries. I love the going, it is so relaxing and everyone is so welcoming and friendly. I am a little bit a lot biased as I was part of the team that sourced the funding, five years ago, to bring shared reading to Sandwell. The groups share short stories, novels and poem, all read aloud. There is always tea of course. The conversations that we have, when reflecting on what we have heard are always interesting. On Monday I admitted to being very much like the young boy in Powder, who, as he always thinks ahead, numbers his coathangers. (I don’t number them, I do have a system though).

As well as meeting to share books, the group have gone on theatre visits too. Most recently to see a Christmas Carol at the Birmingham Rep. they have also been to Stratford to see The Tempest and All’s Well that Ends Well.

Make Friends with a Book go to Stratford

Make Friends with a Book go to Stratford

Many of the short stories we read are from a collection put together by The Reader Organisation, who were the pioneers of shared reading with their Get into Reading groups. The facilitators of Make Friends with a Book in Sandwell were trained by them.

To find out more about shared reading in Sandwell visit the Make Friends with a Book website here.

I am looking for a good home for my collection of feminist novels by Fay Weldon and my Harry Potter books.

The Harry Potter and Fay Weldon books currently seeking a new home

The Harry Potter and Fay Weldon books seeking a new home

Let me know if you can re home them.

Not buying it – winter boots

The cat peed on my favourite leather boots.DSCN0356

They are not new boots, possibly 6 or 7 years old. I got them on sale but they were still about £80 or so. They meet nearly all my requirements. Flat but not frumpy, a good grippy sole for when it is icy. Good quality leather. Look good with dresses and jeans.

Now they are a bit stinky. Cat pee is stinky.

What to do?

I reluctantly decided that I may have to buy new boots as my only other boots are these.DSCN2215

Great for camping.

Not so great for an interview, or for a meeting.

My other favourite boots did not survive this weather last year.DSCN3732

I went boot shopping. I hate shopping and I hate shoe shopping. Not a shopper.

I spent three hours looking at boots, trying on boots, long boots, brown boots, and got fed up with shopping and I looked online and I really liked these boots from Toast. Met all my criteria for boots, see above, but not the price, see below.

Then I read this.

In this article Jessica Seaton, director of Toast, replied that her 14-year-old company seeks out women or men “with intelligence and something special about them”. She added that on “a couple of occasions” people of colour had been found who fitted this description. Is she really implying that black models simply aren’t bright enough?

I didn’t buy any boots. Not even those lovely ones even though they are on sale.

I reasoned that if I really want to make travelling my lifestyle and want to be in warm countries most of the time boots were probably not a priority. Heavy and bulky to carry and absolutely not needed in the countries I want to visit.

I was also incredibly shocked by the high cost and low quality of most of the boots in the shops. The average price was £150. The ones I got close to liking were over £200.

No boots. Not buying any boots.

I cleaned my leather boots inside and out. Saddle soap and a bit of Multi Purpose Cleaner and they don’t smell any more. Worried that they may foam in the rain (this has happened to me before).

The cat won’t pee on them again as I now put them away in the shoe cupboard.

And if it snows it will be wellies and socks.