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.)


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


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.


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

Rain stopped play

rain Eirik Solhe

For weeks it has been too hot to think let alone blog. Weekly nonetheless we have tried to blog out of a misplaced sense of determination convinced all we needed was it to be ccooler to clear our minds. At last the heavens have wept  but as we hoped has  enthusiasm for words returned, are we keen to be sharing again tales of ‘destuffing’ our homes and lives. Fraid not!!! The exhaustion from the heat has I fear left a deeper mark that will take time to erase.

Never want to disappoint though , I looked back to see if where we were a year ago  might inspire a post on progress.  Ironically, Exhausted appears to be the answer so nothing new there. What insight did this state confer.

A good night’s rest however achieved will make tackling stuff easier and of course stuff tackled will make it easier to get a good night’s sleep. ”

So there you are . Whether rain or shine get some rest. Sweet dreams. zzzzz……..

Something & Nothing

nothingOn the day the UK Met Office issued an amber heatwave warning, it is still too hot to blog. Stuck for a suitable topic, we selected a random page from the little book of mindfulness & found this rather apt quote. As Stuffoholics we are overly concerned with all the Stuff in our lives, but here was a timely reminder that none of it was coming with us when we go.

Unless a spectacular meteorite collision or zombie apocalypse takes us all out in one fell swoop, someone someday will face the sorry task of sifting through all the stuff we’ve left behind. Now, this clutter has already been the cause of enough stress- I hate the thought of it continuing to spread bad karma long after I’ve shuffled off this mortal coil.

I’m not alone in this, as evidenced by a plethora of articles about Swedish Death Cleaning (yet another Scandinavian concept to make us feel guilty, inadequate and in need of arty books/ gingerbread.) This is the Next Big Thing in decluttering and basically involves taking a long hard look at all that stuff and getting rid of it right now, instead of leaving it to become your loved ones’ problem. Guilt is as good a motivator as any, I guess. But nobody wants to anticipate their inevitable demise, so I’m not sure this trend for Death Cleaning will be a lasting one. I’m sure there’s some other Scandinavian concept waiting in the wings to wow us in time for Christmas, with accompanying books, candles & spiced teas.

Meanwhile, it’s too hot for cleaning (death or otherwise.)

If the heatwave’s left you unable to think straight, just follow the example of our moggy friend and Do Nothing.

hot cat


Throwing in the towel! Apply the Pareto principle instead

Another day, another post. Knew Plastic Free July was going to be a challenge and needed serious preparation to make a difference that would make me feel good but … Ahyesbut as my friend says. The list of reasons why it didn’t happen would make a long and dispiriting rather than amusing blog. Today therefore I am simply going to focus on why it is naive to believe that treating plastic as the enemy is going to result in the world we might wish to see unless we understand there is a need to compromise.

My case study is going to be the successful #switchthestick campaign that focused on replacing the plastic stick in cotton buds with paper as well as stopping flushing them down the toilet.

cotton_buds_200s_-_paper_stick priginalFeedback like one below shows that it is not as simple as it seems.

“Paper Stalks: Great for the Environment, Useless to Use

We’ve been using Johnson’s Cotton Buds for decades as they were always the best quality and offered a sturdy and safe to use cotton bud. Whilst I totally agree that disposing of little stalks of plastic is no good for the environment and totally applaud the concept of a recyclable paper based stalk, the design of these new buds is wholly flawed. They easily bend on use making them very unsafe to use. I hope that the design will be modified immediately as we simply cannot purchase these again in their current form.

People are noting that changing from plastic to paper does not seem to allow them to do what they could. It doesn’t help that Johnson’s seem to have also made a change to the bud too which had nothing to do with plastic. Wish they had explained themselves but they have failed to do so. Keeping the old packaging with the most subtle of changes while perhaps intending to reinforce brand loyalty almost feels like they are reluctant and don’t really want to proudly go plastic free.cotton_buds_200s_-_paper_stick

As often after weekly ramble there is no conclusion to draw other than life is difficult and life is easy. So where better to finish than with the same song as last July that always makes us smile 🙂

What has any of this got to do with the Pareto principle. Well this post is an exanple of its application. To finish to an “acceptable” standard would take an hour or more. Is this a good use of my time onn a sweltering daY WHEN streuggling ti think straight and get my hands to hit the right keys. I decided not. It’s 80% there and that shoulkd be enough for you to get the gist. Today’s decluttering life tip is to sometimes live with a job 80 % done and move on .. the effort expended on reaching 100% might be more usefully deployed to achieve 80% of some other goal. Have a nice day.


Think Straight

It is hot. Very hot. Too hot for me and my cat.

On Saturday I went along to Pride in London. It was a hot, colourful, glorious day of celebration. I saw a great placard which read I Can’t Even Think Straight, which made me smile. Though it’s out of context, I pinched the slogan for today’s post…

It is so hot, I can’t even think straight.

As my cat is demonstrating, it’s too hot to do Anything … including blogging. So this is all you get today. Stop staring at your screen and go enjoy the sunshine (or collapse in a sweaty heap in the nearest shade.)

OK, this was a very lazy blog post. I’ll treat you to one last pic. Another clever sign I spotted at Pride.


The Last Post


Today could have been The Last Straw it being the start of #plasticfreejuly but the title captured less ambigiously my current weariness. Having blogged through those cold , dark winter days/nights it is Flaming June which has proved my undoing. A physical together with a mental lethargy, come upon me as the temperature soars. Cognitive haze! Science here my defence for what follows but I suspect it may also reflect this sight too.


A skip full of “stuff” and yet only the shed a little emptier and garden more kempt, the house untouched. The skip holding a sad tale of why it is better to give away than keep. The hallstand that I couldn’t bear to give away ( a refurbishment project that had been on back burner for many years) consigned to the garden until time was found … Only the snow and the rain and the ants had other ideas. All that could be saved were 4 tiles (another project I suspect that will remain unfinished) when if only it had been given  a good home someone might now still be enjoying it. Lesson learnt, don’t hesitate just give it away. What has all this to do with the last straw or last post. Nothing and everything but that’s the point . Maybe now time to lay down pen (metaphorically) if struggling to make sense of my own posts .

My son and I have agreed to never say ‘sayonara’ but always ‘ ja mata ne’ instead.

I’ll do the same dear reader . Let us say Till soon …or till the rain comes.

Exquisite life Start from here

BPA FREEOnce upon a time there was a conscientious Stuffoholic who felt increasingly more guilty about the number of plastic water bottles going in her recycling box each week. The answer, she decided, was to purchase a snazzy new drinks bottle which could be used over and over again. Off she went to an online retailer named after a very long South American river, where she spotted the very thing she was after…

It was neon green, it was unbreakable, it was cheap, and it was BPA FREE.

It said so…


(along with some other stuff, mostly in Chinese.)

Though she liked the sentiments expressed on the bottle- Exquisite life Start from here- the bit about BPA was the clincher. Pretty much everything she’d seen online supported avoiding products containing Bisphenol A, a possible health hazard. It is commonly used in the production of polycarbonate, a high-performance transparent, rigid plastic which is formed into food containers,  infant feeding bottles, sports bottles, etc (despite the fact that potentially harmful BPA has been found to leach into food and drinks.)

This bottle seemed the ideal solution…. reusable, free from harmful chemicals and a particularly cheerful colour. Sadly, it did not live up to expectations. The truth is, it whiffed. Removing the fluorescent lid released a distinct eau de paddling pool. It smelled very, very plastic-y.

Back on the site the bottle had come from, previous customers were similarly unimpressed…

“Funny smell about these bottles no matter how much I clean them.”

“How can we be sure the product is BPA free? I had no idea it was coming from China.”

And this is where the yen dropped… the bottle was a bargain, it was brightly coloured and tough, but was it lying? A more optimistic customer had replied:

“We can’t be sure. However, it does say ‘BPA free’ on the product and it does feel to me like a quality product” -not an overly convincing argument.

The untrustworthy bottle was quickly found a new purpose in life:

Now we are looking for a glass drinks bottle, and someone to translate the Chinese writing on our new vase. Please drop us a line, if you can help with either.

Better late than never

Let's go!


Today’s post was meant to be written in time for last week’s weekly blog. Posted on Tuesday with irony. Instead on a bank holiday blogging rest day my fingers are flying (not quite) across the keys so as not to miss another week. Why? ..because the message is clear and simple, get on with it. Let’s go! Excuses “why not” are easy to find, but sometimes when we miss a deadline we give up and that often doesn’t make us feel good. Fine if we have decided that the task is no longer necessary but more frequently it goes into that someday cupboard in our head which if not emptied will often spill out in the night and keep us from our much needed recuperative rest. Today the message is not to give up just because we missed a gate on life’s slalom (not sure about that metaphor given I’ve never been on a ski slope but that’s what my fingers wanted ) but to finish the course .  After all can’t stay half way up a slope for rest of our lives (warned you this metaphor would be strained!) Failure is not trying, trying is at worst partial success.

Enough !It’s a bank holiday so today short and sweet. I’ll leave you with a picture as a taster of the post to come on Don’t throw it away, Give it away. Enjoy the sun



Mend It May

sew-and-save-posterInstead of rejecting, recycling or even binning our neglected clothing, now is the season to mend and make new. Missing buttons, sagging elastic or a descending hem are no reason to give up on your old favourites… just fetch a needle and thread and embrace the spirit of Mend It May!

A quick look around my house soon uncovered some items in need of a little TLC…

           hole                   jacques

A skirt I love has been developing a hole for some time. Ignored, it is steadily getting worse. The pattern disguises it a bit, so I keep forgetting the hole is there. I tried to take a photo demonstrating this cunning camouflage, but Jacques had other ideas. So, as soon as I get my skirt back, #1 on my Mend It list is a spot of darning.

shoeItem #2 is a flappy-soled shoe. OK, I admit these may have seen better days- in fact, they were once smart school shoes- but they’re perfect for gardening. For those days when wellies are OTT, but it’s still too nippy to go bare foot al fresco, this is my go-to footwear. A spot of superglue and they’ll be right as rain.

Grounded dragon

My third item is one of those mending jobs that gets put to one side, hidden in a cupboard or drawer, until the necessary glue materialises. Well, it’s Mend It May and this poor chap has been out of action for long enough.

I’m sure I could easily find a heap more things to fix, but three’s enough to be getting on with. We’re only halfway through May… once I’m on a roll, there’ll be no stopping me. Meanwhile, one particular project is calling to me from behind a large family portrait on my sideboard…


This lovely pot was broken well over five years ago during a rather enthusiastic game of ping pong. My children “mended” it with sellotape, but this fix hasn’t proved terribly robust. I clearly need a class in kintsugi, the Japanese art of embracing imperfection by taking a broken object & transforming it into something new and beautiful…

It’s a good lesson. Even if life has left us a bit wonky and broken, we should be proud of every chip and crack. Instead of seeing our scars as ugly, let’s acknowledge them as proof of all we have been through to be transformed into who we are today.