Thinking and staring into cupboards and rifling through drawers and wondering if I’ve even scraped the surface of this decluttering thing.
I’m convinced less is more
My heart says yes
but my cupboards aren’t so sure
and the drawers say not even nearly.
I’m no hoarder, not even close, I don’t need an excess of stuff to keep me feeling OK in fact its quite the opposite but still I find my cupboards filled to the brim and more than a few of my shelves laden down.
Its taken me a while to work it out.
While I’ll happily let go of things we no longer need or have grown out of or that are broken or for whatever reason I no longer want
There are other things I have a whole lot of trouble letting go of.
that might come in handy one day,
that are still useful or pretty or I really like but for whatever reason I never use.
clothes that I love that I wore when I was pregnant or thinner or younger, T shirts and outfits the kids wore and wore and loved when they were three and I look at them and remember how tiny they were
favourite toys from when they were little
These are the items that do my head in because they have that heart attachment.
Heres the other thing I haven’t been good at letting go of – the excess of volume. Its the difference between having five sets of pillow slips and twenty five, same goes with towels and sheets and maybe shoes and plastic containers.
So its the excess I’ve been working on recently rather than the heart attachment stuff simply because its easier and less mentally draining.
Before we get into that though heres a couple of things I have worked out from underneath this mountain of stuff
The space is worth more to me than the stuff.
Even if I do let go of something that I may need later on – its OK – the space I have created is still more valuable that the item I may have to replace somewhere down the track.
An excess of stuff steals your time, your peace, your enjoyment of your home and it just takes far more than it gives.
Letting go of unneeded, unnecessary things makes room for the things that actually matter – heart wise, home wise, soul wise.
So I bought a twelve pack of the largest garbage bags I could find – they’re the stand up on their own kind which is very handy but I found out impossible to lift when they are full so maybe not such a good idea but anyhoo I decided that I was going to fill everyone of them up for donation before Christmas arrives.
Three down – nine to go.
Unbelievably I filled one with just random things sitting around the house without even opening a cupboard so that was kind of scary.
I filled two cleaning out my linen cupboard. Now keep in mind I have cleaned out this cupboard many a time before but somehow things it just seems to fill up.
Heres the before – I accidentally chopped off the very bottom section with the random shoes and plaster casts and dust collecting and God knows what else.Unfortunately theres no way of making this before shot look good even with the morning sun streaming in .
Very bleak to open your cupboard door and be faced with that. So I launched in one shelf at a time in twenty minute stints. No I didn’t pull everything out onto the floor in one go and then step over it for a week as has been known to happen. One shelf at a time is far less dramatic but on the upside I retain my sanity and my motivation.
Heres the middle progress
And heres the after.
Not perfect but a vast improvement. As you can see I did a little makeover on the shelf fronts with an old map I had on hand – details are below. I had a rearrange as well and folded everything as neatly as I could which I might say is not as easy as it may sound. Now it may not stay like this for long but amazingly I can now find a pillow slip or a sheet when I want one. The containers and tubs have always worked well for things like fitted sheets which are impossible to keep neat and for the smaller items like pillowslips to keep everything corralled and out of sight. And now that I’m done I see I could do with a few more cause those folded clothes aren’t looking too pretty to me.
Regards the makeover of the shelves I had thought about painting the whole interior of the cupboard but I didn’t want this to turn into a six week project. Somewhere in the process of folding sheets I got the idea to do something with just the shelf fronts. I love a quick little project and this one was very very simple. I cut five strips of map the width and length of the shelf fronts. I applied a coat of Aquadhere craft glue onto the shelves and just pressed the strips on. That’s where I discovered my cutting could have been a whole lot straighter but too late to worry about at that stage. I let them dry overnight then sanded the edges very lightly to get rid of any slight overhang then I put on one coat of clear Estapol. That was it. I love the soft mottled colours in maps so I like the result.
This is what I let go of
Most of flat sheets because we rarely use them anymore.
At least 15 pairs of pillow slips.
The double bed sheets and doona covers as we only have single or queen size beds here now.
Some lovely table cloths that I never used
Anything I had to iron before it could be used
Everything on the very bottom shelf.
Scrap pieces of pretty material that I have had forever and haven’t used
A couple of random blankets
So I’m happy with the result, happy I can now find things in my linen closet and happy my little map project didn’t go pear shaped as I thought it might.
I thought I would keep photographing and sharing decluttering progress as I make my way through my various cupboards. I’m gonna just go ahead and assume your as interested as I am in what’s going on with other peoples cupboards and share away.
Now I’m no expert on the topic of decluttering or organisation so please feel free to weigh in. Any thoughts? any tips or tricks? anything in progress your way – would love to hear.
Five Minute Friday on a Monday night but it still works the same way. Prompt word, five minutes, just write. No overthinking, no over editing.
This weeks prompt word is MORE
We always think we need more, if not for now then for later, for just in case. Survival instinct I guess – the more we have the safer we feel.
But what if we used – really used – what we already have. Used it to its fullest potential without waiting for more. What if we wrung the day dry of its possibilities and opportunities – use up every bit without waiting for more or better before we begin. Wouldn’t there be more just by doing that- more contentment, more joy, more peace – bound to be.
I think sometime I’d like more house.
I live in a small house and there is always the temptation to think all my household woes would be solved by more space. Sheer square footage would be nice but I’d settle for more just in the way of storage space – cupboards and closets and just generally more places to shove things.
But more isn’t always more. More space can get filled up with stuff you don’t really need exactly the same way your existing space can and your no further ahead. A big space can be unfunctional and uncomfortable and unmanageable just the same as a small space can. Big or small, more or less – its all in what you do with it.
If I think about it what I’m really wanting at home is not so much more space – what I’m wanting is less chaos and less clutter and less crazy and for that maybe I don’t need more – maybe I need less.
I know from experience the one thing that makes the biggest difference in a small house is less stuff. That right there my friend is easier said than done and an ongoing process in this wee house. The pay off though of opening a cupboard door and not have things fall on me, the pleasure of an empty shelf and a clear line of sight and drawers you can open makes it worth the tough decisions and the ruthless and relentless decluttering.
I’ve such a long way to go with this , theres still stuff piled up around here and too many cupboards shoved full. But I’m heart set on making the most of what this little house has to offer, set on uncovering her beauties and on making more of what looks like less to the untrained eye. This idea of rescue and redemption and bringing back from the edge is one that runs fast through my veins and a challenge I can’t help but rise to.
What about you, what are you wanting more or less of?
You can read what other people have done with their five minutes here
Or you can join in with some story telling and heart sharing at #porchstories right here.
So time to take a little bit of a gander at what I’ve found in the month just past.
Wondering why I do that ?? Well this post will fill you in a bit but really its because like most of you I love a good find – whether its a good book, a good basket, a burst of colour in my garden, the gift of a few minutes to write or think straight or a post thats grabbed me. Anything that helps me do home or life better – well it might just get a mention here.
So lots of little finds for sweet September.
At The Shops
Bit of a storage and organisation theme happening when it came to op shop and store finds. Maybe its spring that’s got me tidying up and throwing out and getting things all put away and clutter free – who knows but it was a month all about throwing stuff in things and I must say the house looks all the better for it. These two pots and my kids dropping the most amazing array of items on the kitchen bench every day got me started.
Pens & pencils, toys, hair ties, loose change, batteries, Nintendo’s, sunglasses, lollies, lip gloss – I could easy go on. My solution was to throw “all the things” into these two pots sitting close by on the end of my desk. Bought them with every intention of putting plants in them but this was a more pressing need. Worked a treat. Everything easy to find when they want it and a clean kitchen bench in a jiffy.
Lets call it “casual” storage at its finest (and on a budget). Heres a rundown:
Cute as a button yellow and white pot $1.00 from Target good for loose change
Gold planter from the Reject Shop for $7 that as said I use as a hold all because it’s a really good handy size to throw odds and ends in.
Vintage yellow Tupperware in perfect condition at the kids school fete thrift stall for $2 each. Used for biscuits and Weetbix
Red basket tray /random paper file from the op shop for 50c .
White cane basket from Freedom Furniture that I’ve had for a while but only just found the right purpose and place for. Less sturdy than my usual basket finds but a whole lot pretty – its now corralling the towels in handy reach of the bathroom.
Wire basket from Kmart for $9 – a place for all the lounge cushions to go apart from the floor when not propping up someones head or back. I don’t get why they can’t stay on the lounge but they just never do.
Got any spring time/fall time organisation going on at your place?
So to other not so practical finds:
Found this little landscape at the school fete. I always seem to be on the look out for a pretty landscape – beautifully executed ones yes but I tend to like the ones that look a little bit “home done” too, a bit imperfect like someone was having a practice. Every now and then one will jump out and come home to live at my place for a bit. A way of me saying “I know your not a Rembrandt, not even close but your still lovely, your still inspiring, you still have something to say so just go ahead and be you”. I don’t say it out loud or directly to the painting so I think we’re OK there. So this is one of those – I like her soft colours and lines – sitting on my desk at the moment, giving me something peaceful to stare at while the words percolate.
” I have been terrified of hope. Because if hope disappoints, does that mean that God is also a disappointment? Christie reminds us that hope like dreams, is made of stronger stuff. She invites us into a year of her life lived in real time in an old Pennsylvanian farmhouse, choc full of hope and decay, promise and weeds, work and wonder”Lisa Jo Baker
Not too far in I found a paragraph that was a relief to read. Not so much inspirational words but real words that summed up entirely the frustration I felt for so long living in what felt like like a broken down, busted up house especially in the early years and no end in sight. The frustration too of feeling like everything – EVERYTHING – was working against me trying to make something lovely of this pile of bricks and mortar. A feeling that almost stopped me writing a blog about making home when my own home felt and still does at times like its limping, with too many frayed edges, with too much undone and worn out and a limited capacity to set it all to right. – – –
This was the paragraph.
We live so much of our lives with our hands tied behind our backs. With everything to do – more than we can possibly accomplish in one day – we are yet further hampered by illness, tiredness, a lack of money or time. This seems true even on good days. With twenty four hours in a day, how many must we devote to unproductive necessities like sleeping? Eating? Not to mention shopping for food or washing sheets or changing endless diapers. Some days we have more freedom than others but we are always, to some degree hemmed in by weakness, by need, by lack or by loss. We are hungry and needy as new born babies. we fool ourselves if we imagine anything else to be true. Roots and Sky Page 36
And then this:
This house is deteriorating. My body is dying. We are subject to the same terrible decay. But worth is not measured in such terms. Once upon a time, God called his creation good. And no curse of sin unwound those words. Gnarled maple trees. Plaster walls. An ordinary women’s ordinary body. All good. To care for these is to say to death, “You are not the end” Roots and Sky Page 54
Magic words. That’s right hope is made of stronger stuff. It remains, it flows relentless and regardless. It keeps me looking for the good and God breathed and lovely even on the grittiest most ordinary of days and even while the gutters hang rusty and with the back fence caving in.
Oh my, I love how this lady views life. Her photos are of such ordinary things – sidewalks and streetscapes and swing sets – the things she sees as she walks her kids to school. A fellow lover of derelict houses as well. If you feel like your life is a little left of centre too than you’ll find a kind companion in Shannan.
You can take a peek at her Instagram feed here and her blog here
Found out this too:
Screen Shots are my favourite
What I realised putting this post together is how much I love and use screen shots to capture info that I want to remember – things to read, podcasts to listen to, quotes I want to refer back to, recipes I want to try, rooms that I love. The reason it works for me – it’s incredibly simple – requires only a press of two fingers and its all nicely saved and stored. Anything more complicated and I’m a goner.
Heres a sample.
So thats my finds for September. Any finds your way? Would love to hear
So something I haven’t readily confessed to you up to this point is that I get easily distracted.
I start a task with enthusiasm, often a houseworky type one but before long the whiff of something more interesting or creative and/or pressing has me wandering off and starting on something else before I’m finished the first thing. Anyone else?
It happens as well when I have so many things to do I’m not sure what to do first – so I start in on five things frantically and end up with a whole lot of things started but nothing finished – I’ll have the clothes washed but not hung out, a post half written, dishwasher half packed or unpacked, clothes maybe folded but not put away, everything pulled out of a cupboard but not put back in and the clean sheets on the bed but not the pillowslips or doona. In real time and real life it looks like one heck of a shamozzle and so not the end result I’m looking for in my day.
The other scenario is, I’ll get totally involved in something I love doing – (usually not a houseworky type one) – something crafty or creative, writing, gardening, taking photos, rearranging a room or a combination of all the above – and end up doing none of whatever else I need to do that day. Now that’s Ok if your husband and kids don’t care about eating dinner or wearing clean clothes and – if I was a totally bohemian free spirit who just enjoyed going where the mood led and who didn’t mind a mess – we’d be all good.
Here’s the problem though. I like things done. I like thing squared away and neat and clean far more than I do messy and thrown about. I like the counters cleaned down and the clothes where they should be – in the machine if their dirty, on the line if their wet and put away in drawers when their dry. I like the wide open spaces and peace of clean uncluttered rooms.
I just can’t always seem to manage it.
I get constantly caught somewhere in between the creative “lets rearrange the furniture and paint something” side of me and the “lets get everything neat and organised” side of me.
So thats where my 20 minute a day theory on getting things done comes in. You may have heard me mention it here on the blog a few times now – it’s a favourite.
A girl who’s easy distracted has gotta have some sort of secret weapon up her sleeve to keep her life a bit organised and this is the one that works for me.
I set the timer on my iphone and do ONE thing only for just twenty minutes. Clean the kitchen, fold clothes, read/return emails, write, garden, dust, clean the shower, tidy a room, clear out a drawer, change things around, make phone calls, etc etc
It keeps me calm, it keeps me focused, it stops me doing 65000 unnecessary laps of this house in one day, it’s how I get things done.
I don’t do it all day, all the time – usually 4 to 5 x 20 minutes stints a day, mostly in the morning, is enough to keep this home civilised and functioning the way I like it and keeps me making progress with the creative things I love to do.
The First Twenty Minutes
The photos below were taken maybe two years ago. It was the first time I really discovered the power of doing one thing full on for twenty minutes. This is the side of the house where no one ever goes and where I shove things I don’t want to look at. Mostly it gets forgotten about but there was no ignoring this sad state of affairs – even the dogs didn’t want to go around there. It was such a shocker I took a photo and had a joke with Ken that if I wasn’t out in twenty minutes, to come in after me. (Word of warning – wear gloves, covered footwear and protective glasses for jobs like these. I came across Red Back Spiders, Blue Tongue Lizards and a few other scary things). I set the timer, I think because I really didn’t want to do it and decided that 20 minutes was all I was up for and then it was Ken’s turn.
It only needed 20 minutes. I was totally amazed at what got done.
So the idea kind of took off.
One Thing Only
So if I’m giving 20 minutes to the kitchen – (usually my first 20 minute stint after I take the kids to school) – I am just getting it back to civilised. Cleaning off the counters (because my kitchen counter collects everything) clearing the sink, packing the dishwasher and sweeping the floor. In this time I won’t be cleaning out the fridge or cleaning the stove or reorganising the pantry or making a shopping list. When those kind of extras need to be done they need their own twenty minutes.
I’ve found it works really well when you need to have a quick tidy up around the house and it works really well when you’ve got an almighty mess like I had this morning – I’m blaming school holidays and Netflix on this one.
Now I’m well aware that most people wouldn’t get themselves into this sort of mess in the first place and I’d much prefer to show you nicely styled after shots rather than everything all over the place but this is the reality of life some/most days and I’m hoping for any one a little like me – – – who struggles with staying focused and on task or who gets side lined by creative pursuits but then hates the mess your left in afterwards – that this might be a help.
So this is what I’ve found.
In 20 minutes.
You get soooo much more done than you think you will
It lasts longer than you think it will – I often check the timer because I’m sure the 20 minutes must be up and usually find I still have 2 or 3 minutes to go.
20 minutes can be squeezed in just about anywhere at any time.
You work faster and more focused than you would without the timer, so you get more done.
It gives you a reachable end point to your task – when you get to stop, look back at what you’ve accomplished and enjoy the result.
Getting one thing done in 20 minutes is so much more satisfying than getting 10 things half done in two hours.
Big jobs (that often get put off indefinitely because they seem undoable and overwhelming) get broken down into small manageable bite size pieces. More on that below.
Often we think we’ll need an hour at least to get a task done – the fridge, the stove top, a desk top!! – so we put off doing it because we don’t have that spare hour. But I have found that nine times out of ten you can get it over the line in 20. I’d rather get something done the best I can in 20 minutes than never getting it done waiting for that elusive hour to show up. And after 20 minutes if you have the time and really want to do a bit more – then set the timer again and do another twenty. I always stop at that because who wants to be cleaning and/or organising for more than forty minutes straight anyway. The whole idea is balance – you get something done and move on.
In my office area, in 20 minutes I was able to clean off and sort out papers on the desk top. I didn’t try to clean out the desk drawers or reinvent my filing system – even though I probably needed to do both.
I could have left it there, its a big improvement on what it was but because I had time, I did a second 20 minutes – I was able to finish cleaning and filing as well as do some rearranging and a bit of prettying up. I had time to swap out the chair for another one but not time to iron the new cloth I put under the key pad.
Two x 20 minutes and I think we can all agree the space is vastly improved.
Tackling Big Projects
As mentioned above its also a great way to make a big project more manageable and doable.
I’m with this guy.
The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your overwhelming tasks into small, manageable tasks and then starting on the first. Mark Twain
Two things often happen when it comes to big jobs around the house – you either avoid getting started because you know it’s gonna take a great big chunk out of your day/week that your not sure you can spare OR you launch in, pull everything out or apart and two hours later your totally overwhelmed, sobbing into your tea or something stronger and it takes the best part of the next week to get it all back together again
For bigger cleaning jobs like the garage or a full room overhaul or even things like cleaning out the pantry or a linen cupboard – I would rather do 20 minutes each day for a week – say one shelf or one small area a day – rather than pull everything out, all over the place in one go and then having the unwieldy task of putting it all back together. I’ve been there and done that and it can be a nightmare.
For me small steps taken often get you so much further and with less collateral damage then huge dramatic leaps and bounds that are, in my book equivalent to lobbing in a hand grenade.
Creative/decorating projects can get the same treatment. Lets take for example, the gallery wall you’ve been meaning to get to for a couple of years. 20 minutes a day, one or two pictures hung each time and within a week or two you have the wall of memories and inspiration you have been wanting.
The garden is another great example of how you can chip away at a big job in small doses. As much as I love gardening it has a way of totally getting away on me if I leave it alone for any amount of time, which I pretty much did over the summer. It’s not something I ever seem to have a whole day to devote to on a regular basis. What I do have though is 20 minutes here and there and I’m always surprised at what can get done in that time. Heres how it went.
This is some of my garden a couple of weeks ago.
Shocker I know – so I decided to start in the far back corner of the garden which I “romantically” call my secret garden. (Not so much at the moment but it has potential). It’s where I have a small fire pit, a hotch potch of seats, and a largepotted ficus tree. I’ve used a large square of rebar (concrete reinforcing steel mesh) vertically in front of the back fence and planted a white blossoming potato vine to climb over it. It climbs wildly during the summer covering the fence and anything else nearby. It can be a pretty and cosy area when its looked after but as I said – it’s got away on me a bit.
So over the course of 5 days I spent 20 minutes each day on it – just one x 20 minutes per day because pulling out weeds is exhausting. I’ll warn you none of the photos are any too glamourous. They don’t show a finished beautiful product – they just show small progresses being achieved with 20 minutes a day focused attention.
Day 4 .
So altogether it only took an hour and forty minutes to bring my “secret garden” back from the brink. I still have the rest of the garden to contend with but now as the cooler weather comes we have this area to relax in and enjoy.
So thats my twenty minute a day theory on everything. Not deep, not complicated but it works. So why not give it a go, just set your timer and see what good things you get done. Would love to hear.
Thanks so much for reading. For a little weekly inspiration you can check out my latest Women Connect post here.
So this ones for when you or your families love of a good movie or 400 is threatening to take over your house. Now I don’t usually do these “this is the answer to all your problems” type posts because it may not be, but this little idea worked a treat at my place so I’m singing its praises and suggesting maybe it’s worth a try at yours.
My house – she’s big on charm (I think) but small in size and way too short on storage. So the stuff I have has to earn it’s keep and these DVDs, taking up an inordinate amount of our limited storage space, weren’t earning theirs.
Here’s our problem.
Three out of the four baskets in our TV unit stacked full to the brim with DVDs, which is OK unless you have others things that desperately need to go in a basket or you actually want to watch a movie. That’s when the kids who don’t really mind how much mess they make, start pulling them out and spreading them all over the lounge room floor or leaving little towers of them stacked up. An eye sore and a slip hazard all in one and driving me just a little bit crazy.
So the idea is to create these simple laminated DVD pouches that reduce the actual amount of space required to store DVDs by about a mile. In fact it ends up reducing the size of each disc package from about a half inch to only very slightly wider than the actual DVD itself. Turns out theres a lot of wasted space in those hard covers and this solution does away with them without doing away with the glossy printed cover with all the nice pictures and info.
We went from this.
No more hard cover. Hello nice flat DVD covers.
Before I started on the project though, being fond of a throw out, I went through our vast collection, took out any we no longer watched and gave them away.
So if your up for the challenge you will need:
A laminator. If you don’t have one they range in price from about $20 to over a $100. We bought a relatively inexpensive one which I’m thinking wasn’t really made to last so I treat it carefully and don’t leave it on overheating for extended amounts of time. Apart from that it does the job just fine and they come in handy for so many other things.
Laminating pouches – the DVD size one’s.
Sharp scissors – that’s it.
Now I don’t think the following qualifies as a tutorial – my projects are so simple they aren’t usually required, but this will just run you through the process.
I leave the DVD itself in the hard plastic cover until the laminated pouch is done to avoid scratching.
Remove the printed slip cover from the hard cover. It will still have it’s folded shape so just press it down the spine so it’s folded flat.
Trim off the spine and a little bit extra. You want the printed cover about a quarter inch smaller than the laminating pouch both sides so that the pouch seals properly. I did experiment a bit with using larger laminating pouches that I cut down to size. This meant I didn’t have to trim down the cover – just fold flat and laminate. I found it took longer and was trickier to cut down a large slippery laminating pouch trying to get all the edges straight and even than it was to use the smaller pouch and just trim the excess off the DVD cover. Your choice on that one.
Place the DVD cover into the laminating pouch spacing it evenly. Make sure the pouch and the insert are level along the top edge so it doesn’t seal when it goes through the laminator. Feed the pouch into the laminator sealed end first and then leave it to cool when it’s done. If it has happened to seal just trim it open. Slide your DVD into your lovely new slim line pouch and and your done.
I very happily threw out out all the hard covers that were cracked or broken and donated the ones in good condition. As I said this is hands on and takes up a little bit of time. Mostly I did it in 20 minute stints(this post will tell you why I like doing projects 20 minutes at a time) I usually just do as many as I can in 20 minutes before I turn on the laminator. Once it’s warmed up and ready to go, I do them in quick succession. No great skill required so a great project to do while watching a movie.
Having done this a little while ago I’ve found the disc’s stay well protected in the laminated pouches and the disc’s slide in and out easily. Doesn’t work for boxed sets or multi disc packs but you will have plenty of room to store them now.
This wooden box is holding 75 DVDs and my baskets are looking much more civilised with room to spare.
And here are eight DVDs in their hard covers right next to eight DVDs in their laminated pouches.
Worth the time, worth the effort, works for me.
What’s working for you at your house at the moment?
If you’ve got a moment you might like to read my latest Women Connect post here.
And if you know someone who might enjoy this post please share away.