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?

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

Advertisements

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

 

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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

DSCN3404

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.

DSCN0407

DSCN0406

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.

DSCN0410

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.

Despair has set in

To tell the truth I don’t know if the £53 figure bandied around is for one person or a family. After my last blog about this when I saw in black and white how much my weekly outgoings were just on what I consider essentials (including cable and internet) I got a bit down. When I saw what our income would be if we were dependent on benefits compared to this figure the truth hit home. And I got a bit depressed because if my husband lost his job tomorrow, we would have to make some drastic changes to our lifestyle. Add to this all the Margaret Thatcher stuff in the media and I was well and truly fighting off the Black Dog. I thought it wise therefore not to attempt to blog (although I did draft some random thoughts about sausages).

Because I was in a grump, I lost the shopping receipt for Wednesday.  I know I bought peppers and some Creme Fraiche and the bill was about £5. No idea what else was purchased (which illustrates how shopping can become a mindless activity and why tracking your spending is a useful if painful exercise). I made fajitas using these ingredients plus items from the freezer and store cupboard. I use a fajita kit which is the nearest we get to a ready meal in this house, yet once you add up the cost of the ingredients it comes to about £8 for feed three people, which is not cheap. This meal may be coming off the meal plan.

Thursday we had a French student arrive to stay with us for three months, who will be sharing some meals with us. This will inevitably add to my overall shopping bill. I am still not sure how to divide the costs, but as I like spreadsheets I may have a play at dividing food, overheads, luxuries and clothing, depending on how I feel of course. You can see that I need a distraction from other more important tasks. Like sorting 30 bags of clothing and filling in tax forms.

This was my Thursday shop:

Water 1.99
broccoli 0.79
oranges 1.49
grapefruit 0.29
tomatoes 1.29
mushrooms 0.85
leeks 0.89
sweetcorn 0.32
single cream 0.69
double cream 0.85
pork steaks 2.69
12.14

I had previously noted that we seemed to be lacking in fruit in our diet and the French Boy said he liked fruit for breakfast so this seemed to be a reason to ensure there was more fruit in the house. As it was his first meal with use I did go a bit overboard with the supper making pork chops with mushrooms and cream (the first thing Delia Smith taught me to cook) with some vegetables and used up some potatoes and onions in a Pan Haggerty recipe I got from The Bearwood Pantry. It was really lovely and there are plenty of leftovers for lunches. Seven meals (as I also used up two pork steaks from the freezer). Total for the ingredients was £8.26 which is £1.18 per portion. Not bad even if I say so myself, as it really was very tasty and seemed luxurious.

What has struck me is that the seemingly luxury meal cost a lot less than the supposedly cheap and cheerful option. A bit more work went into it, I am not sure that double cream is a healthy option for every day, yet no packet was opened in the making of this supper. That is a good thing, yes?

Declutter please, for your kids!

I want my house back, I really do

travellingcoral

An empty attic. Paperwork in order. And a decluttered wardrobe.

And remember what William Morris said.

“If you want a golden rule that will fit everything, this is it: Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”

DSCN4074DSCN4075DSCN4076DSCN4079DSCN4080DSCN4081

This is nearly all the contents of my moms wardrobe. 5 bags of shoes. 2 Gloverall duffle coats. 3 Burberry macs, another 3 overcoats. I have bagged up 50 pairs of trousers and 40 tops and cardigans and maybe 50 dresses. There are bags inside bags, postcards from the 40’s sent by strangers. There are 80 years of photographs to go through.

I have to wash the clothes then decide what to do with them. In the meantime they are filling the floor of my dining room.

This is my promise to my children.

I will walk around the house and look…

View original post 261 more words