Not Gone but forgotten

you just never know when you’ll repurpose a broken …….

Good morning or good afternoon or good night. I have been inspired by KonMari to tackle my desk and to try to accept that someday useful stuff or even stuff I think I love is of no use carefully tidied(hidden)  away never to see the light of day.

I cannot believe an item from a post that promised regular reviews of items has languished in the in-tray on my desk for a mere 22 months when it was to be reviewed after 3 months. More to the point what pleasure has it given me over this period. Why did I keep it ? Is it any use to someone else? Can it be repurposed? All good questions which made me cry. No wonder I cannot tackle the big issues as I arrive at a life junction where I need to  accept change when I cannot easily let go of an item without purpose as if being asked to say farewell to a dear friend. 

What to do. The modern solution . Take a picture. Thank item for its good service and send it on its way to the great recycling centre in the sky (well down the road but that didn’t feel quite as poetic) to become I hope something else.

Thingummyjig

A broken thingummyjig saying goodbye before heading for a new home

Farewell old friend . Finally gone and I hope almost certainly forgotten. Now what to do about that tray.  Remember that  ….lovely tray that was given to me to put my cups of tea on by a friend who was worried about the rings on the table. BUT I never  do /did use it for that purpose because once put anywhere it fills with stuff. …..  I guess it’s not a  KonMari solution to think it really would make a suitable prize for the next ‘spot the difference’ game.

 

Open Sesame

 

One DrawerfulAfter strongly advising my fellow Stuffoholic to do away with all her grief-inducing paperwork, I thought I should probably tackle my own mountains of Pointless Paper. This week, it was time to face my old nemesis, The Drawer That Must Never be Opened (cue dramatic music.)

Brimful of random paper accumulated over the course of twenty years or so, this drawer is only occasionally rummaged through for a missing receipt. Excavating the contents of its murky depths was not a job for the faint of heart..

I set myself a clear mission for each and every item in that drawer;  establish a reason for keeping it, or it was being recycled. Sometimes this was easy- why would I keep pay slips from 2013, notifications of NHS appointments long gone or birth announcements for friends’ children who are now old enough to have babies of their own?

Pages from ancient magazines were also easily chuckable. I had saved a pattern to knit my own cakes, apparently on the off chance I’d learn to knit. And the 35 Things to do Before You Turn 35 was now 20 years too late (fyi, I’ve only done 10 of those things.)

Decluttering  mavens often suggest tackling heaps of magazines by saving the important or useful articles and chucking the rest. I’d like to revise this advice a little… NEVER save an article, a picture, a list, an advert, or anything from a magazine. You will never go back to this piece of paper, which will simply clutter your space for the next 20 years. Save  yourself some time and effort- recycle those magazines now. Better, still don’t buy them in the first place. All of that stuff’s online, you know.

Then there were the utterly pointless items, such as these unuseable store cards and gift vouchers.  Random keys, odd buttons, unidentifiable plastic thingummies, rubber bands… why do we hang on to these things as if they are valuable? (my fellow Stuffoholic will gleefully remind me I’ve yet to tackle the kitchen drawer which contains all these things, and more!)

5. drawer

So, what went?

  • 88 items shredded & composted (including those old payslips, dental receipts from 10 years ago, and a failed driving test notification.)
  •  72 bits of cardboard recycled (42 of which were old birthday, Christmas and mother’s day cards.)
  •  211 pieces of paper recycled (…magazine pages, old newsletters, places to go leaflets, instruction manuals, many receipts, yoga instructions…)

What was left?

Fifty recipes  cut from magazines have gone in a recipe folder, to be tackled at a later date. Thirty one bookmarks were put to one side, to pop in the books I give away.

And in The Drawer That Now Opens, I replaced a small heap of paper… things which I want to see again (letters from old friends, greetings cards from my children, photos, artwork and a small folder of very recent receipts & guarantees.) Never again will I need to dive through years of accumulated paper. Nor feel a failure for not working out how to apply false eyelashes by the age of 35.

Result

Sorted

 

 

So much paper so little time

“But when we really delve into the reasons for why we can’t let something go, there are only two: an attachment to the past or a fear for the future.” ― Marie Kondo

Writing this blog never easy but this month the reward/effort ratio such that blog has stayed written in my head and no enthusiasm for ensuring that the thought finds it way to a virtual page. Why? Doesn’t matter. Today a new day , well actually tomorrow but you get the gist. My fellow stuffoholic has a wry sense of humour so despite a only if you really really need or love it stuff buying ban couldn’t resist getting me THE book when spotted for a mere 50p in a far flung charity shop. There are many books out there looking for a home but how could a stuffoholic have not added KonMari ‘s seminal work to their collection( even if they know they will have to let it free when it has tarried here long enough)   I was sceptical how someone who had achieved a global empire from tidying would resonate with this self confessed drowning in stuff non minimalist.  Surprised to learn that the Tidy guru wasn’t so different, loved books and had struggled with systems and a sense of never ever going to get it done too. 

Inspired I decided to tackle my desk, an old foe with which you will be familiar if you’ve chanced by this blog before. Past efforts have been successful in that the problem with desk is now paper that needs to be dealt with. Easy peasy after all this practice developing my tidying muscles. But it wasn’t .  The easy stuff had already been filed or recycled. No these bits of paper were the one’s I’d picked up many times, put back and thought I’ll deal with that later. I thought my fellow stuffoholic would be sympathetic to my dilemma, agree that this was a seriously difficult exercise and would need tea. Quite the opposite, they said it was simple. I said show me how and they picked up pile and headed for recycling bin. Nooooo………………! That’s cheating , what if my passport is in that pile. It isn’t they said . But .. I said plaintively. How about we do this one piece at a time. And to cut this tale short . The stuffoholics paper dealing method was invented. Ta dah!

Go With the Flow

It doesn’t file the paper for you but there’s now only a trickle making it through to What Now. What now? Well in best cliff hanger tradition the answer to that question will require you to return another day. May your paper mountains be scaled or turn out to be hills.

Remember on your decluttering journey these KonMari words “We should be choosing what we want to keep, not what we want to get rid of.”

All the Small Things

There’s a lot of stuff going on in the world right now and it’s very easy to think there’s nothing we can do to improve matters. Today, I’m saying Never Give Up Hope. If the big stuff is too much for you to tackle right now, try starting small…

1. Curb the junk mail. If it’s been posted to you, send it back marked Gone Away, Return to Sender, or Please Remove me From Your Mailing List. To stop the endless stream of pizza menus and cab cards, simply stick a message on your letterbox. It works!

No Junk Mail

2. Never, ever, ever use a plastic bag! Seriously, these things are bad news for our planet and the sooner they are banned the better. There are so many reusable alternatives available these days (NO, not those plastic Bags For Life!) Always take one (or three) with you when you go out, and you’ll never need a nasty, polluting, wildlife-killing plastic bag again.bags of bags

3. Perform an audit on one small corner of your life… look under the kitchen sink, tackle the bottles on your bathroom shelf, review the food you choose for lunch, consider the stuff you use on your body/at work/in your car… you don’t need me to point out the pointless plastic gathering all around you. Just have a think & make some changes. My small start was swapping plastic toothbrushes for bamboo ones. Check out Save Some Green for products which don’t cost the earth (Drowning in Stuff isn’t connected to this site in any way… we’re just happy customers.)

Bamboo toothbrushes

4. Switch search engines. It’s time to wave bye bye to Google, Bing, Yahoo & friends in favour of Ecosia, the search engine which uses its profits to plant trees.

Ecosia

5. Grow lots & lots of flowers. Insects need our help now more than ever… if you have a garden, fill it with flowering plants. Let dandelions bloom this spring, don’t mow over the clover in your grass this summer, leave a spot to go wild, plant meadow seeds… and enjoy the abundance of insects and birds which will visit your garden throughout the year. bee

Not sure what to plant? Here’s some advice from the Sunday Gardener.

6. Pick up litter. Doesn’t matter if you didn’t drop it… litter is everyone’s problem & we can all be part of the solution. Every piece you pick up makes a difference to the world.East Tilbury

For a little inspiration, check out #2MinuteStreetClean and #2MinuteBeachClean

…and good luck with all your Small Things.

The museum has deserted me!

Now you’re used to it maybe not being immediately obvious where a post is going but today is even more challenging as I’m not sure where it is going either. Never mind as with life there is hope by the end (or ideally before then ) it will make sense. Well,  I am not going to write about the visit to the Victor Wynd Museum of Curiosities not turning out as planned ( potentially it seemed a good fit for our cluttered psych but closer examination proved quite the contrary) nor any other museum for that matter. No, when last week the muse deserted fellow stuffoholic the title of today’s post  was autothingy’s determined attempt to make sense or nonsense of our words. The muse isn’t with me either today but the title has at least got me this far into writing a blog as I found a  site I would otherwise never have seen and a musuem  I don’t think I will ever visit. So far at least  in keeping with the message this year of  ‘get on with it’ rather than always worry about the final destination or what’s waiting for you if you ever get out of the tunnel. I also discovered there is no need for me to keep and curate collections of stuff when here in London I will never run out of collections I can go and view. While offering  no recommendation I sense  18 Folgate Street in Spitafields found while google wandering ‘museums of things’ may be worth a visit some day.

Enough of what this is not about , I realised by this point that today’s blog would focus on one of the discoveries in that study of mine. This year we are being fearless in the face of paper paralysis –  a not uncommon condition when one keeps old papers in case they come in useful when truly their only use is for hamster bedding or compost heap.

Years AgoSharing here the treasure of the day – Old Calendars. Touching them, recollecting happy days when the house was full and all four columns in use . momentarily tempted to file them back down the side of the filing cabinet. But, keeping the calendars will not bring back those days and even if it could life is about making new memories not staying frozen in the past.  If today, we only throw away one old thing no longer needed and create and make one new memory it will have been a good day.

 

Start

4. Study

????so much stuff??????????????????

Start where? why? what? Start Somewhere and Start Now !! Today life advice for most situations not just how to regain your space. Fellow stuffoholic was fair but firm. I had committed to regaining this space. Decided to Start Small and tackle the mantlepiece. Before

How? Well sorted swiftly stuff into two piles . Stuff to keep and the stuff that needs to be re-homed, recycled or even thrown away! Did not spend time agonising over what went in which pile. Today’s mantra  is Do Something and Do it Now. A decision made can still be changed but I tried hard not to cheat and default everything to the keep pile.

Voila. The tale of two trays.

First the Keep Tray every item justified . I won’t bore you with why this is so,  it is suffice that it is not all the items on the mantelpiece. I also won’t explain why they were all (except the make up brush and Su Doku book ) relocated in a shoe box to be reviewed on another day. I never claimed this was a one step process.

Saved

Stuff to Keep

And so to the other tray …

Gone

Stuff NOT to Keep

What treasure did I find? More importantly why had I kept stuff  so valuable but never used.  The paint brushes a reminder of a creative hobby that after several decades I finally accept is never going to happen. The brushes will go to a neighbour who runs art classes at home so they will finally be put to good use. The little book of Keep Calm and Carry On never helped me but will go to local little free library – set free. Broken mug heading to recycling , only need so many containers for pens and stuff. Tempted to keep it for a mosaic project but the look given me as I voice that thought speaks volumes. Old cards for recycling too . Toothbrushes , deep sigh, only so many you need for tricky corners.  Lastly, the over sized nail file , given to me as a well meant gift , never used and is no use at all now I cannot reach my feet. Surprisingly,  it is just what my fellow stuffoholic needs. Result!

So how does it now look.  Bare but there’s plenty still in that room so don’t fret it is now time to Stop (for today).

After

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.