Why #fakewall .  Why not! a simple response but readers deserve more, expect more. It’s a long story but let me start in the middle and perhaps get to the beginning more swiftly. I had the perfect story for this post on letting go but when I went to look for it, it wasn’t where I thought it should be. After many unproductive attempts to find it , it seemed foolish not to learn the intended post’s lesson and just let it go.

What though then of today’s blank page staring at me.







Can you see a clean sheet rather than blank page an entirely suitable start to a year. Was tempted to leave it at that, if that had been plan A but felt cheating as Plan B.  Nothing came to mind…. I’d hit a brick wall. Voila! Now hitting the wall that was an all too suitable topic for this journey where the loss of potential  blog material is a clear indicator that we are still drowning (in stuff).

Topic selected but the modern blog is about images with words not vice versa so off a googling I went. The picture you see a suitable symbol not just of any wall but of the chic minimalist interior we don’t aspire to but occasionally desire. But there’s the rub,the wall is fake – just wallpaper to create an illusion. So easy to create clutter free space or a brick wall but are either real or imagined. Only you know what is and what it is meant to be. Enough philosophy to start the day. Next week we will return to tangible stuff . Till then let it go.


Good Intentions

Happy New Year

I’ve never been one for New Year’s Resolutions. I reckon the start of a brand new year should be a time of hope and excitement. Pledging to give up things which I enjoy- or take up things I don’t- seems like a good way of setting myself up for failure. The dreary post-Christmas weeks would be made far worse by the onslaught of guilt at failing to drop bad habits or adopt good ones. With this mindset, I’ve always found it easy not to set myself unrealistic goals at the threshold of each new year.

That said, 2017 evolved into a year of examining my bad habits and searching for better ways of doing stuff. I’ve quite a list of positive changes made since the Stuffoholics started this blog last March and I’d like to build on these in the coming year. No hard and fast Resolutions- nothing I can measurably fail at by early February- but a selection of Good Intentions which I will keep in mind over the year to come…

  1. Despite some early progress, I’m still up to my ears in books. They were one of the earliest indicators that I was Drowning in Stuff and are still pretty much my decluttering nemesis. I’m declaring 2018 a year of Bookcrossing, eBaying & unbridled giving away of books. I can’t imagine I’ll get this under control in just 12 months, but I’ll give it a go.
  2. If ever I feel tempted to buy a magazine this year, I’ll think about the hundred or so still parked under the bed. I really don’t need them. All that stuff is available online. Besides, if I need something to read, I shouldn’t have any trouble finding a book!
  3. Still on the subject of paper… I’ll be sorting out all my boxes stuffed with saved articles, receipts, instruction manuals etc, and implementing a new “do I really need to keep this?” regime.
  4. A quick and (hopefully) easy idea… I plan to bake cakes for all our family birthdays this year. No more supermarket creations, wrapped in cardboard, plastic and cellophane. I can’t remember the last time I made a cake from scratch, so this could prove interesting!
  5. Last summer, Stuffoholics picked up the Litterati app (and consequently 500 pieces of litter.) We’ll definitely be sticking with this good habit in 2018. And with a whole year of litter-picking ahead of us, 1000 should be an easy-peasy target.
  6. We’ll also be organising our next community street clean. The first, back in November, brought together ten neighbours to clear eight bin bags of rubbish from our local streets. After identifying the problem, it felt good to be a part of the solution. The mince pies were good too!

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.

Happy New Year, everyone!


What to do about G


Who or what you ask is G and what if anythin does it have to do with stuff. Well, today we enter the last phase of that time of year where the many not the few exhibit signs of compulsive buying disorder and even when those drowning in stuff feel compelled to buy more. The post could thus have focused on how this time is really an opportunity to give away stuff and to help others with the gift of time not things. A reminder to not waste food just because we can and a link perhaps to tips on freezing and purchase of non perishables. Good stuff but not what I have planned.


The letter g on my laptop keyboard only now works intermittently. With autocorrect and auto complete this is less of an issue than you might think but still an irritation every time I try to type ood morning.  On the zero waste trail the first stop should not be replace but Repair. I enthusiastically googled ‘how to fix stuck laptop keyboard key youtube’ and was spoilt for choice.

But as well as the enthusastic “thanks this was a life saver” in the comments there was also  “…it looks easy on this video, bu depending on the model, this is borderline impossible to do without breaking one of the little bars of the mounts that attach to the hooks on the keyboard. This plastic doesn’t stretch very easily. If you are ordering parts, I recommend that you order more than one of the same key that you need to replace, in case you break it trying to get it on.” Hmm… to remove or not remove that G!

Plan B suggested by fellow stuffoholic was to CTRL C the G and then CTRL V as necessary. They sometimes like to check how far I will go to avoid buyin somethin new.

The dilemma therefore was to risk repair and potentially make matters worse or opt for a world where I live without g , avoid words with g and tell my family and friends ‘thins may never be ood aain’.  As I mused, I realised that for all my ‘broken’ stuff I need to decide if it can be repaired and if not does it need to be rehomed and/or replaced. To decide how much for a simple life I need things around me that work or will I feel better if I can live with those that need to be gently (like that) coaxed to work. Do I need to take more chances that miht work out because if they do things will be better. No answers today but we and the minions wish you Seasons reetings and a Happy New Year.

Open the box

Today I am reviewing the solutions to a problem that has plagued my adult life… how to manage paper. More specifically, all those bits of paper which cannot be thrown out because I intend to look at them again some day.


My earliest solution, dating back 25 years, has slowly evolved into the Drawer that Must Never be Opened. All was well until its bottom started to bow under the weight of all that stuff & shutting it would often depend upon removing an item or three.


Rather than throwing out the excess tonnage, I moved on to Solution #2 (aka Pretty Boxes.) These effortlessly transform heaps of ugly paperwork into organised loveliness. But one box quickly filled, then two, three, four…

DSC_0129My 3rd solution looks positively organised. No randomness here; I spy alphabetical tabs! A concertina file was my attempt at bringing order to the problem of unread magazines. A decluttering article advised me to tear out any pages I wanted to refer back to, then recycle the rest of the magazine. Into the file went the vital articles. Alas, the appeal of this solution was short lived.. a quick glance under my bed earlier this year revealed in excess of 150 (complete) magazines.

So… here’s an interesting question… do I ever return to these carefully saved pieces of paper? Aside from the occasional scrabble for an old receipt in the Drawer that Must Never be Opened… the answer is no.

Today I decided it was time to finally take a second look at some of this stuff (and most probably redirect it to the recycling bin.) Here’s a brief selection of what I found:

  • 2006 Guardian interview with Eoin Colfer, possibly saved to remind me to buy his latest Artemis Fowl book (which has now been out for 11 years.)
  • 2003 article, Light Your Fire- Planning for Clarity & Confidence in Your Life. “Cinderella didn’t get to go to the ball because she thought it might be a nice idea. She desperately wanted to go…” made me desperately want to chuck this article.
  • Radio Times free audio book, The Feast of the Drowned… a Doctor Who story read by David Tennant. Sadly, this CD is part 2. If anyone has the first & wonders how the story ended, it’s all yours!
  • 2007 The Independant full page photograph of Bill Oddie. Nope, no idea.
  • Instructions for an Action Watch, which I can’t recall owning.
  • Advice on planting a blackthorn/sloe: “it’s extremely hardy and will grow happily in any soil & in almost any position.” I succeeded in finding the one position it couldn’t tolerate & in ten years it has produced a total of half a dozen sloes.
  • 2005 BFI  list of the 50 films your children should see by the age of 14. I asked my 20 something son how many of these he’d seen & the answer was a paltry 16. One more example of how I’ve clearly failed my children. Thanks for that, BFI.

I could go on, but I shan’t. I think you’ve got the picture. The concertina file is empty now. Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be tackling the drawer and boxes. From today, I’ll be far more discerning about which bits of paper need to stay in my life. And never again am I saving an article from a magazine for future reference.

The upside of this whole process? Finding old school photos, letters from family & my children’s art… all of which belong in a Pretty Box.

No words

Today the cold continues to slow me to a halt and the post title not cryptic but a fact. Today, to find some words, I choose to quote myself rather than some well known author or wit.

” Fishing has never appealed as a pastime. Why would I want to catch a fish for fun when it was minding it’s own business and meant me no harm. Sitting on the banks of a river pretending to fish quite a different matter. So today notice on virtual door says “gone Fishin”.  Imagine the buttercups peeping out from grassy river bank. Sitting under large umbrella to shade me from sun. Not expecting to catch anything except a little peace and quiet. That’ll do me nicely for today.

Today Gone Fishin. As ever if this is not enough then with food waste in mind . Here a use for the bread mountain and a little theatre too. Bon Appetite.

“….Her delicate hands using such precision to cut the crusts off the bread. I remember wondering to myself if it hurt the bread’s feelings that we didn’t like him just as he was.….”


On the Road

After 5 months of tidying our local streets assisted by the Litterati app, we decided it was time to call in some extra help! On Saturday we were joined by 10 locals for an hour of litter-picking along our road. We really enjoyed this chance to meet new neighbours and reconnect with old ones.

As we collected rubbish from the gutters, pavements and front gardens, we chatted with people who wondered what we were up to, and hopefully encouraged them to think more about how they might look after their neighbourhood. The hour was up in no time, and we reconvened for a well earned cuppa and mince pie.

Collectively we had gathered eight bagfuls of rubbish and our road was looking positively radiant in the winter sun. Though we’d been picking up other people’s rubbish, we found it a very positive experience; the morning was all about owning the problem and being part of the solution. We’re already looking forward to a big spring clean in 2018!

Many thanks to Neeta from Cleanup UK for all her support and for making this whole process so easy. Why should we pick other people’s litter? Take a look at this short film:

Fancy organising your own clean up, or joining an existing litter group? Check out litteraction.org.uk

We’d love to hear about your litter picking events. Leave us a comment or a tweet @stuffoholics and we’ll give you a shout out.

Together, we can make a difference.

The Joys of Repurposing

Today the cold has reached my core and my hands do not wish to fly across the keys.  Please be patient if I seem a little slow-witted too.

As stuffoholics we like to think of our possessions as vintage and loved, rather than old and worn out in need of replacement (yes this does feel like it is getting personal!) Last week I watched the glass butter dish lid slip from my hand and hit the floor. I did not think as it fell in slow motion –  great I’ve been wanting a new one for ages. No, as I saw it break into pieces, my first thought was – can you superglue a butter dish lid? The butter dish, a reminder of a bustling house and a time when it needed to be filled many times a week.  At this point I realised that perhaps like the rest of my life the butter dish needs downsizing or to make me feel better ‘rightsizing’. I reluctantly googled ‘glass butter dish’ to find a replacement but knew I really didn’t want to buy more stuff given the battle to get 5 a day out the door.  Luckily I thought instead- there must in that kitchen drawer which contains things that will be useful someday be something to put butter in.


Hmm… as you can see glass jars and ramekins are my Achilles heel. Today though, to my surprise, the ramekin stash was part of the solution not the problem. A ramekin combined with  a small glass bowl- the perfect butter dish for my current life. One ramekin finally repurposed to again see the light of day.


All’s well that ends well as they say, but suggestions for what to do with the bottom half of a ‘vintage’ glass butter dish very welcome. It would be nice if it didn’t languish in the someday drawer too long!


p.s. The clutter gods are playing with me. My son has been clearing out and he just said “Here you are, I know you like to keep them, here’s a ramekin.”  No…………

A Work in Progress

I’m not a technologically savvy individual; I’ve never used WhatsApp, I’m generally un-selfied and I mostly use my mobile for making phone calls. However, five months ago I watched a Ted Talk that convinced me to download a free app called Litterati which subsequently changed my whole attitude towards my environment.

If this has you intrigued, take a look for yourself. It’s only six minutes long, and it’ll be time well spent.

You didn’t watch the film? Keep reading, maybe I can still convince you…

In my pre-Litterati days, I would complain on an increasingly regular basis about the state of my neighbourhood. The fly tipping and litter appalled me. I had no idea how litterers could be converted into non-litterers, so it looked like a problem that would never go away… which sadly made it everyone’s problem.

Downloading the Litterati app helped me make a conscious decision to be a part of the solution. Over the course of five months, I’ve been picking up street litter and recycling the plastic, glass bottles and cans.

Litter map


This map shows all the rubbish I’ve removed from my neighbourhood since the summer. Litter is still a problem, but now I’m helping to solve that problem (which feels a whole lot better than my previous complaining.)


I started using the app back in June and here we are five months- and five hundred pieces of litter- later. My attitude towards litter has changed. I still hate it, but I hate it enough to do something about it.

Next up, I’ll be asking my neighbours to join me picking litter… an afternoon of making our street a better place and hopefully feeling that little bit better as a result.#500

Here’s the 500th piece of litter I picked up; a coffee cup from McDonald’s (actually, we’re NOT Lovin It.)

So, if you hate litter as much as I do… please don’t walk past the next piece you see.  Pick it up and bin it (or recycle it, if at all possible.) It’ll feel really good.

And to see what a big difference you can make, download the Litterati app & join a worldwide community of litter pickers. Every piece counts!

Picking Pomegranates

low hanging fruit

Last week was Samhain marking the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter. You would therefore not have been surprised to find a food waste post on gleaning and thought title was meant to be ‘Picking Pumpkins’ but somehow autocorrect had stepped in.  But as it happens today after the soul searching of previous weeks and sense that progress was not as rapid as imagined decided to remember the benefits in any change programme of ‘quick wins‘ or  less commonly ‘low hanging fruit’. To my surprise amongst the free google images was low hanging pomegranates, so picking pomegranates which conjured up summer days not gloomy winter it was.

So what are the ‘quick wins’ ? An excellent question which deserves an answer of the same calibre but I don’t have one prepared. After all these months the only way to achieve a ‘quick win’ would be to change my mindset, my emotional attachment to stuff and hate of waste. That is no ‘quick win’. That I suspect will be my life journey.



Hate to disappoint but all I can do for today is at least tackle food waste and offer you a recipe for pumpkin soup.



….and for your understanding wish you good luck in life in finding fruit laden pomegranate trees that you can reach.

Let it go


Let it go, let it GO!!!! For copyright reasons I can’t feature a picture of a certain white haired heroine at this point, but I can guarantee she is currently belting out a certain catchy anthem inside your head. So sorry.

Today I am pondering why, the best part of a year after starting this blog,  my house is still filled to the brim with all the clutter I resolved to clear away. Why can’t I just Let It Go? Let me see…

  1. Toys. My children are in their twenties now. They’ve moved on from Sylvanian Families, cuddly animals and the endless pieces of plastic nonsense they once coveted every birthday… but I haven’t. OK, I don’t feel any particular attachment to the Matchbox cars or DS games, but how can I say goodbye to the toys we gave names? The ones who shared our triumphs and disasters? They are like members of my family. I’m coming to terms with my daughter leaving home, but can’t let go of the cuddlies whose lumpy shapes betray their loyalty to the little girl who once loved them so very much.
  2. Art. Well, my children’s art. I’m starting to see a pattern here. The smudgy hand prints, the huge-headed portraits of family members, the once-upon-a-time stories in such careful handwriting… the evolution of their world view, laid out on paper. In the attic, there are still some of my own drawings; aged seven, when bunny rabbits still wore fancy hats and had afternoon tea with endless cream buns. Are these my children’s inheritance?
  3. Photos. In those pre-digital camera days, I amassed hundreds (nay thousands?) of photos of (you guessed it) my growing family. Ten albums full, then shoe boxes of loose pics waiting to be albumed-up. I know I should cull these, or scan them, or reduce them to a carefully selected album for each of my offspring. But it’s such a gargantuan task.
  4. Calendars & diaries going back years, which I’ll be needing when I label all those loose photos. Was that holiday in Folkestone or Felixstowe? Just dig out the appointment diary from 1994 to find out!
  5. WordsI used to write lots. It kept me sane, scribbling oddments in exercise books. Journals, daily pages, stream of consciousness, ideas for books, short stories… it’s all stashed in a big metal box & I never want it read by anyone else. I’m not sure I want to read any of it either, as it’ll only stir up sleeping demons. But I can’t just shred it. I need to look at it all one last time before I Let It Go. I’m just waiting for the right moment <looks down at shoes>

    I could go on, but I think you’ve got the picture. So much stuff to clear out, but every day I’m finding excuses. The truth is, I’m too attached to these things to see them clearly. I’ve given each of these fluffy toys, scraps of paper & unlabelled photos an emotional value. Which makes it an even greater wrench to clear this stuff from my house. Maybe recognising the problem is the first step.

    And every long journey starts with a single step…