Room with a View

spring clean

I woke up two days ago feeling Out of Sorts. I had this completely uncharacteristic urge to tidy, to Spring clean, to declutter… basically, to chuck out all the stuff which has been weighing me down for so many years. Did I start with my Drawer that Shall Never be Opened, or the equally daunting Kitchen Drawer of Unidentified Objects? Did I crawl under beds or tackle the coffee table which rarely has enough space for a coffee cup?

Oh no- I decided to Go Big. I was ready to face the attic. Thirty years of accumulated stuff awaited me and I wasn’t turning back!

48 hours later, I’m thinking there’s a pretty good reason I only get these urges once every thirty years! The results have been startling, both in a good and not so good way…

Good 

The shredder has been filled & emptied ten times. Paperwork squirrelled away for decades is now in the compost heap. Children’s games which haven’t been played in over ten years are now destined for the charity shop. Dozens of books are leaving my house. I can sit at my desk once again, gazing out the skylight whilst pretending to work. I’ve spent hours rediscovering old photos, school projects, my children’s artwork, letters from friends, souvenirs from long forgotten holidays. And after a weekend of hard work, I can see the carpet again!

 

Not So Good

I am dust-clogged and aching. Though the attic looks great, the rest of my house is completely wrecked. Boxes of stuff await sorting in just about every room. So many things which were evicted from the attic now need new homes.boxes

 

That’s the trouble with tackling the big stuff; it all has to Go, or Go Somewhere.

 

But I’m not letting it get me down. Look what I’ve found…

thingy

 

 

Waste not Want not

Another day, another blog, this year already feels it’s going to be both different and the same. This year less talk and more action. Well probably just as much talk but definitely more action no matter what life throws our way.

So far Started on that study/office  to regain our space and we’ve completed Wayne Dixon’s   #7daychallenge   so our streets are less littered.  We are also still committed to reducing our  food waste and action counts more than words. We know buy less is key but  what do you do when you find you have stale croissants  and marmalade jam that apparently has reached its use by date even when kept in the fridge .  Feed the birds/ (compost) bin. Of course not you adapt a recipe for bread and butter pudding .

Ingredients

Here we go, croissants already pretty high in butter but a little more won’t hurt and a dab of marmalade too. Layer croissants in dish. We treated this as a creative exercise so squareish shapes for bottom layer and rings for top. This is not necessary but we “eat with our eyes” or so they say. At this point hope you greased dish before you put in croissant bits and didn’t have to take it all out and start again. Marmalade

Then mix milk ( we used soya but any milk will do – food waste ethos is to use whatever you have to hand) and eggs and whisk. Pour over croissants and leave for 10 minutes (or 30 minutes if your croissants are as stale as ours). If necessary add a little more milk/egg mix if you’ve misjudged just how dry those croissants were. Any doubts as to whether they were usable as croissants had been dispelled by this point.  By the way in case you wondered why didn’t we go for something even simpler. We did but unlike stale bread you cannot turn stale croissants into croutons or we would have done.

Ready for the oven

Don’t worry about brown bits in pic should have mentioned half the croissants were filled with chocolat . Mmm .. this post about food waste, never claimed this was a low calorie treat. Shame the whisky flavoured double cream  (intended for Christmas pud but put aside given the excess intake already on that day /week) was well past use by date or that would have been added too.  Despite already a calorie count that would allow us to take squares of this as  supplies on a trip up Mount Fuji we then sprinkled a few spoonfuls of brown sugar on top for good measure.

Oven for 40 minutes or till set and golden brown . #FoodwastefridayNow all that was left to do was eat it . Fortunately, disappeared swiftly so no need to write a blog next time on what to do with left over Croissant and marmalade pudding.

As a famous chef might have said at this point – Happy Days!!

 

#7daychallenge

so not bertt

Last week we accepted this challenge from Wayne Dixon, an extraordinary Litter Hero Ambassador. He is travelling the UK coastline with his beautiful dog Koda, picking up litter and raising environmental awareness as they go. If you are on twitter, give @waynekoda a follow to see the amazing work they’re doing.

At the end of our challenge, the local streets are less messy & our recycling box is filled to the brim. It didn’t take much effort; we just went about our usual day, but took along an empty bag & picked up rubbish along the way.

Now we’ve completed our week of litter-picking, we’re looking for more people to take up Wayne & Koda’s #7daychallenge. Just go out with a carrier bag in your pocket and collect a few things as you go, recycle what you can and dispose of the rest appropriately.

Let us know how it goes 🙂

#day7 recycling

The R- word

queen's speechThe R-word? Surely, having said we wouldn’t get into deep and troubled political waters, we aren’t now going to dive in. Of course not! To do so would be most unwise. While the debate fuels our underlying sense that life is chaotic, the merits or faults of Remain or Referendum is not what we plan to share our thoughts on today.

hot cat

 

 

We also, tempting as it is on these cold winter days, will not be debating how Relaxing (under the duvet) and worrying less might achieve good karma. Truth is that looking back over this declutter’s journey, it was when stuff got Rehomed or Removed  we felt good. When we could see the floor or retrieve a document we needed without it being like a Jenga game.

 

many rs

 

No, this year we return to our roots. We are determined to tackle the clutter we have and so the R words we will be drawing on include  Recycle, Repurpose and Repair. BUT even as the 3R’s have expanded to 8 while we fight to stem the plastic and other stuff Tsunami we now know those R words are not enough. When we look in this once tranquil study/office we now face a space completely unusable for its purpose.  So today’s R words need to be Resolve and Ruthless. We won’t forget the other R’s but our priority this year has to be (even if some items end up in the Rubbish) to REGAIN OUR SPACE.

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Please come back in six weeks (or is that months) to see what Remains.

Audit

off they go

Happy New Year, one and all. Yes, I know it’s a bit late for that, but I’m never really sure at what point it stops being the New Year and simply becomes the year.

I’m not going to bore you with my list of resolutions for 2019, but do feel a quick audit would be apt at the start of another (hopefully less cluttered) year.

So, let’s take a quick look back at my new year plans for 2018. A quick summary: ditch the books, stop buying magazines, sort out years of saved paperwork, bake all the family birthday cakes, & pick up 1000 pieces of litter.

Well, I managed to wave goodbye to 327 books (just a drop in the booky ocean.) I did stop buying magazines, don’t miss them & enjoy not having them around. The boxes of paperwork persist. Four delicious cakes were cooked this year, avoiding all that pointless packaging & actually tasting far better than anything the supermarket had on offer. We had three community litter picks last year, so the goal of 1000 pieces was definitely smashed (but thanks to my phone being stolen, I stopped counting each piece on Litterati.)

It’s very easy looking back on a year and thinking little has been achieved… or looking forward and thinking the tasks ahead will never be cleared. But today I’m feeling (uncharacteristically) optimistic.

At the end of my first blog for 2018 I joked: “Right, I’m thinking that’s enough Good Intentions for one year. If I carry on, a New Year’s Resolution might creep up on me unawares. Such as pledging to remove 2018 items from my cluttered house in the coming year. No, that would never do.”

Well, I kept count of the departing clutter & managed to get rid of 810 unwanted/unloved/unused items last year. Nowhere near 2018, but that’s still 810 fewer things in my house.

So there we are, I survived my New Year clutter audit & have one resolution for the coming year:

2019 things have to go

And here are the first 14 books ready for rehoming, so the total’s already down to 2005.

Food Glorious Food

christmas dinner

Good Afternoon , as you may have spotted today’s blog was not posted on Monday . Last week we had our alternative Christmas lunch – plastic (almost – we couldn’t resist the mini christmas puds and brandy cream) and meat free . This week could have been full of pictures and suggestions for festive season in keeping with our usual eco guilt style – covering food waste and unecessary plastic and ending the piece with promise  that next year would be different. But I was sent  a link to a youtube video – Practice Anger not Joy  by a friend the modern way to spread sentiment without need for personal engagement . Sentimental undoubtedly but it touched a chord. ..

That the start of the blog planned for monday but it was just too dreary for the pre-christmas slot if it continued in that vein. It has taken till today to find something to bring it to an upbeat conclusion.   Today , I share with you the Christmas no 1 , humour in chaotic times and a gentle reminder that you may want to consider donating to the Trussell Trust or a food bank scheme near you.

All together … We built this city … on Sausage Rolls ,,,,

 

What We Keep

Full

Bookshop browsing led me to an interesting title this week… What We Keep. It seemed an apt book for a Stuffoholic to read. After all, we’ve been rambling on about what we keep for over a year now.

The strapline to the book was “150 people share the one object that brings them joy, magic and meaning.” Sounds lovely, doesn’t it?

It made me think about this blog. I reckon we’ve approached What We Keep from a slightly more pessimistic angle…

“2 people share the hundreds of objects that give them headaches and endless bother.” It doesn’t sound quite so catchy.

Truth is, we keep an awful lot of things, and very few bring us joy, magic and meaning… which is why we are still on this quest to empty our homes of an accumulation of Stuff.

This morning I couldn’t face picking up items and asking them if they filled me with joy, so I decided instead to tackle the Drawer that Must Never be Opened. This is absolutely stuffed with things I keep. None of it is magical and joyous, but sometimes you also need to keep the mundane and everyday.

An hour later, I had removed and recycled:

12 old receipts, 10 greetings cards, 12 random pieces of paper, 2 calendars, a pointless certificate, a newsletter, one CD and a big stack of labels (wondered where those had gone!)

And then I gave up. I can only spend so long looking through joyless things. The Drawer that Must Never be Opened has shut for another year. Funnily enough, looking back through the blog, it was a year ago that I last took a look in there. I still haven’t tackled those boxes… another resolution abandoned!

If you see the book, give it a try (no, I’m not on commission!) And can I borrow it after you?What We Keep

Wishing Joy, Magic and Meaning to all the things you keep.

Don’t keep it

It’s been a while since I’ve felt to blog. Why? Because Life got in the way. True but only part of the explanation. Truth is I felt there was nothing new to say. No matter how much was recycled, repurposed, refused , there was still too much stuff for many lifetimes, let alone this one. So why today returning to blog, another potentially endless task to add to the others on the never ending to-do list. Why indeed! Well because perversely I find that blogging clears my head. Forcing me to remember that action is what leads to action and maybe even change and my purpose lost found.

So here today’s lesson. I needed a new folder (do not start questioning me till the end) and the cheapest WHSmith folder was an unusual shape. Naturally conservative and suspicious of change I thought it would be good for me to try something new. After all surely a new design was because it had features I needed that I just hadn’t realised I did.

Is it not a lovely thing. I could see myself at last on stationery leading edge instead of lagging behind . But … it doesn’t lie flat . It sticks out on bookcase. It falls over. It doesn’t behave the way I  need my folder to behave. At this point in the past I would have put it on a shelf, in a cupboard , out of sight and hoped it would somehow become what I needed when I got it out again. This blog though has taught me that is how I end up drowning (in stuff). So to return to the title I took it back to the shop and felt a weight lifted from my overstuffed life.  Better yet on hearing this sorry tale my fellow stuffoholic went looking in her folder stash ( that a tale for another day) . Voila ! the perfect folder, now reloved and unlike the other one it makes me smile!

Geese

 

 

47 Ways to Get Rid of a Book (part 1)

1.BookcasesI own too many books. And when I say too many books, I mean WAY too many books.

2018 is the year I’ve started tackling the heaps of unread, neglected tomes which fill every dusty corner of my home. So far, I’ve waved goodbye to 267 of the pagey nuisances. How have I achieved this? Let me count the ways…

1. I dropped some popular fiction in the Book Exchange box at a local railway station (and then walked away quickly with my hands in my pockets, to stop any following me home.)Book Exchange

2. I gave fifty children’s and reference books to a school in the Dominican Republic who are creating a new library. A win-win situation all round.
Dominican Republic3. I tried passing books to friends at every opportunity. The trouble with this is my friends tend to return the favour- book count goes down one, book count goes up one!One in, one out4. I registered them as Bookcrossing books and left them in the wild for new, more appreciative, readers to find (the one in the pic is on the sea wall at Southend- hurry and you might find it!)bookcross it

5. I sold a stack of them on eBay. This feels good, because I know the book is going to a Good Home, plus I get a little cash. But it is time consuming and a little sad when books simply won’t sell (pictured is my eBay cupboard… let me know if you spot something you fancy.)eBay cupboard

6. Tired of writing eBay listings, I sold a shed load of books to one of those WeBuyYourStuffForPeanuts.com sites. Bit of a rip off, but I love the empty corners appearing around my house!

7. Can’t be bothered with any of the above? Sometimes I simply put the book down and walk away…Lost

8. OK, this wasn’t my idea, but it’s a good one. My neighbour filled her garden wall with books and invited passers by to help themselves. I only took three, honest.Wonderwall9. A fair number of books went to charity shops (where I had to keep my eyes averted, or I’d return home with replacements!) If you choose to donate your books, please be aware that the ones which don’t sell may well end up being pulped. bookshop10. Trying to be a bit more creative, I started making this year’s Christmas decorations (only an option for dilapidated, unreadable books or very badly written, unreadable books.)

11. Wrapping paper (again, only an option for books which are no longer readable.)

Wrapped

So, those are my first eleven suggestions for reducing the book content of any bibliophile’s over-crowded home. I’ll be back with more ideas soon.

Off Yer Trolley

Trolley1

It’s a supermarket trolley. It’s useful. Unless it is in a front garden, slowly filling with rubbish.

Sunday 16th September was World Cleanup Day. Across 160 countries, millions of volunteers joined together to clear rubbish from their environment. We played our own small part by organising a litter pick on our street. It was a sunny day and we nattered with neighbours as we tackled the inevitable dunes of cigarette butts in the gutters.

Though we probably should’ve stuck to the pavements- to avoid accusations of trespass- we ventured into a couple of extremely messy front gardens to sort them out. We heard no shouts of “get orf my land,” so hopefully our efforts were appreciated.

One litter picker pointed out a supermarket trolley in her neighbour’s garden. She was tired of seeing it from her kitchen window every day. After we’d cleared the rubbish from this trolley, she said it would soon fill up again with assorted cans- its original purpose forgotten, it had become some kind of mobile litter bin!

How often do we look at something that depresses us…. complain about it to others… get really angry about it still being there months later? Today was the day for solutions. I rescued the trolley and used it to transport our litter bags to the collection point.

six bags full.jpg

And the next day I pushed it back to the shop where it belonged. Problem solved. Sometimes it really is that easy.

trolley

The twitter motto for #WorldCleanupDay was #JustDoIt. It’s a philosophy I’d recommend.