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.

Creative clutter

My enthusiasm for blogging ebbs and flows like the tide though not as consistently. Today, as winter returns instead of May’s usual promise, the creative juices are definitely running dry. Just as well I can turn to a some thoughts from a more enthusiastic day. Not a spot the difference game but a picture for you to think about. Ideal now I look at it with fresh eyes for a memory game or a recycling quiz  . Which of these items can you put in your recycling box/take to recycling centre/ repurpose/ send to landfill/the sea?


No surprise to learn most of this is heading to sea unless it can be repurposed. Suggestion I made to stuffoholic partner that the bulbs were perfect for steampunk jewellery as suggested by Bored Panda were met with that look that needs no words. I rather liked the bubble bees and spiders too. Anyway here my attempt.*


still stuff

Impressed?! Depressed! Don’t give up the day job, best hits the mark. Oh well Rome wasn’t built in a day…. (today I found the James Clear  version  .. but they were laying bricks every hour !) So maybe I haven’t saved any of it from landfill today but at least I paused and tried.

p.s * Btw… Attempt at a robot . Fellow stuffoholic has suggested it might not be obvious!

Every Night is Book Night

Oh yes it is!

Feeling a tad worn out & completely lacking inspiration for this week’s blog post, I’ve given myself permission to cheat by revisiting an old one. This time last year, I was looking at ways of parting with books… which seems particularly apt today, as we are celebrating World Book Night (I’m celebrating by staying away from any location where I might be gifted a free book!)

And so, without further ado, I shall transport you back to April 2017, where I was just starting to consider the possibility that I own too many books…

1.Bookcases     2.bookcases

though I’m not sure how many is Too Many…

4.more books

more than I could possibly read in one life time, perhaps…

5. last one

certainly, more than I can keep track of…


More than once, I’ve brought home a gem from a charity shop only to discover I already own a copy. And often I recommend something to a friend, only to discover it’s gone into hiding. A couple of bookshelves are arranged alphabetically, but the sense of order soon descends into a chaos of anonymous boxes & To-Be-Read heaps. Then there are the archives… books I read to my children, books I read as a child, some dreadfully outdated and cringeworthy, but remembered with fondness & stowed somewhere I don’t have to trip over them on too regular a basis.

Whilst I defend any bibliophile’s right to say there is most certainly no such thing as Too Many Books, I’m ready to admit I currently own far too many for me. Though I tremble to type it, I’m planning a humane cull. It’s not terribly methodical, but nor was the way I amassed this lot in the first place. I’ve started by picking a random shelf, seizing a book and asking “will I ever want to read you?” Surprisingly, I’ve answered no more often than I’d anticipated. So long as I find a new home for this book, somewhere it can feel loved and useful, I’ve found I can set it free with minimal feelings of guilt.

How do I do this?

A very popular way of getting rid of books is to sell them online. This seems a perfect solution… your unwanted volume finds a loving reader & you earn a little cash to boot.

sproutOne downside is your book could fail to sell, doubling the rejection as well as calling into question your taste in reading matter. It’s worth persevering, but after reducing the price & relisting it a few times, you’ll be ready to give the pesky thing away for free.

Donating unwanted items to charity shops is generally a great idea. You benefit from a reduction in clutter, the buyer picks up a bargain, and the charity receives much-needed funds. However, charity shops are businesses and as such aim for a high turn-over of stock. They prefer good quality mainstream fiction, or valuable rarities… nothing tatty or well-thumbed. Just be aware that books which do not sell are destined for pulping!



Recently I’ve come across a book share shelf in my local train station. I’ve noticed that anything left here rarely hangs about for long, so I don’t feel guilty about dropping off my books and magazines & scurrying away. Sometimes book sharing shelves in stations, or even supermarkets, also have a donations box for a local charity. No threat of pulping, the book just sits patiently til it finds a new reader. Good karma all round.

Another way of passing on your unloved tomes to a more appreciative audience is to pop them in a Little Free Library.  A friendly sticker on the front invites you to Take a book, Return a book, Donate a book. If you can resist the first of this trio, well done… the net number of books in your house has diminished!

6. LFL


Whether you want to borrow or donate, why not check out your local Little Free Library. I’m not sure why, but there seems to be an exceptionally high number in Waltham Forest, East London.


Finally, if you like the idea of giving books to complete strangers, Bookcrossing bookcrossing-sample-labeltakes this one step further by adding the possibility of hearing back from the person who picks up your book. You only receive feedback from about one in ten of the books you set free & the recipients don’t always enjoy them as much as you did . I released an economics text book which was apparently used to light a BBQ!

So… in the past two weeks I have Bookcrossed, I have left novels on bookshare shelves & in Little Free Libraries & I’ve managed to sell one (of 35) listed on eBay. The overall book content of my house has gone down.

Just one small blip. I saw this on the train & I couldn’t just leave it there…