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

 

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 the cook book – step one of not buying it in 2014

Most of us, even those of us who don’t make resolutions at the beginning of the year are looking to find ways to cut back on spending at this time of year. For some of us it is because we spent a lot at Christmas,  for others it is because we are facing higher fuel bill and the last few winters have been very cold.

My cook book collection

I am cutting back for two reasons, I want to save up for more holidays and short breaks, and I want an uncluttered home. I am in the process of re reading Not Buying It and planning to incorporate some of the principles into my life. I am continuing my mission to clear the clutter in my house and mind. I have also been inspired by Team Pugh, the guys behind A Year Without Supermarkets, who plan that 2014 is their Year with Less and will be following their progress with interest. The first rule of decluttering, for me, is to stop bringing more stuff into the house. I am hoping that by not buying things I do not need will not only save me money but also reduce the amount of stuff crap we seem to have accumulated over 30 odd years.

I think I passed my first test of temptation earlier this week when I popped into a local supermarket. Those of you who read my posts will know that I am not a big fan of supermarkets, especially the ones who offer bogofs and other such marketing ploy that tempt you to buy things you really did not plan to buy or more than you need. And it is so easy to get sucked into the lair, with jolly background music, amazing offers at the end of every aisle and heavy discounts on my weakness, books. This week I had to visit the big green supermarket to return an unsuitable Christmas gift, and as I did not have a receipt  I was refunded via their store card. I decided there and then that this was going to be my only visit in 2014 so I would need to spend the £5 today. I was also very keen to avoid making another trip there in the car, hunting for a parking space and negotiating zombie like shoppers mindlessly filling up oversized trolleys with food and bargains and stuff. So I had a mindless wonder around the shelves (a rooky mistake, no list) and then I saw it. It was a cookery book that had been recommended, and it was reduced from £14.99 to £5. Bargain! And somehow it found its way into my basket and before I knew it I was heading to the tills, giddy with the notion that I had bagged myself a bargain.

Just in time I remembered where I was and realised that I had fallen under the retail spell. I then gave myself a good talking to reminding myself that I had reduced my hoard of books at home by about 50% in 2013. And I really did not need another cook book. And I put it back. I did manage to spend the £5 (on some rather good wine from New Zealand) and now I have no reason to shop there again. Later today I am going to the Birmingham Markets, to see if it is cheaper to shop there than the discount supermarket I usually buy most of my food from. The Super Six fruit and veg offers are good value but I am finding it a struggle to get through a kilo of carrots or sprouts (made soup, frozen the sprouts) especially now we don’t have the chickens who used to get a lot of the excess veg.

Join me on the Not Buying It journey and see how I get on.

Books are the plane, and the train, and the journey.

Today I visited the State Library of Victoria, Melbourne. It is stunning. We joined the guided tour of the dome. Again, like so many of the free things to do in this beautiful city it was just us and the guide.

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In recent years, Victoria invested a substantial sum of money to refurbish the beautiful building. Money well spent.

The quote is one of the many on the walls of the La Trobe reading room which is beautifully furnished, and is one of the quiet reading rooms.

Not that any of them are noisy as such, just full of people and life and free wifi and a chess room! And Ned Kellys’s armour.

Its archives include comic books

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Cartoons

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It holds over 1.5 million books too.

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I’m glad it was part of my journey.