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.
When I think about it what I’m really wanting in my home is not so much more space. What I’m wanting is less chaos and less clutter and less crazy and for that I don’t need more – for that I need less.
Less stuff I know from experience is the one thing that makes the biggest difference in a small house and that 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.
If you have found your way here from Five Minute Friday you can read my latest FMF post here – this weeks prompt word Learn – so appropriate!!
Or if your visiting from Whole Hearted Wednesday or Three Word Wednesday you can read my post Just a MinutehereIt never ceases to amaze me what a difference a small change can make – especially when it comes to our homes and how well a space functions and how much we enjoy it. I’m talking sheer ease and comfort and I’ve had a perfect example of it here at my place this week.
I’ve been using this sweet little stand as a bedside table for a long while now. It was an op shop find that I cleaned up and painted that I just love the look of. It only stands about 50cm high and the little shelves about 25cm across. It’s as cute as a button but as I’ve discovered completely useless as a bedside table. If you look at it sideways it falls over – the slightest bump with a pillow and over it goes along with my cuppa, my phone, my glasses – which is pretty much about all you can squeeze onto it – and that’s if you use all three shelves. It’s just too small and things fall off it too easy. With not a lot of room around our queen size bed I thought it would work well being so compact – I was wrong.
Thing is I have a two perfectly respectable, if not not very inspiring bed side cubbies that I have been using elsewhere. Nothing wrong with them that a sand and a coat of paint wouldnt fix. I’m in no hurry to do either – so for now no longer needed elsewhere I decided to bring one of them back into my bedroom. Sometimes functionality just has to win out over pretty and if you can find that sweet spot where you have both, all the better.
Here she is warts and all – no beauty queen but oh she has talents.
You wouldn’t believe the difference it has made to me in sheer comfort and ease. I can do wildly fanciful things like put things next to my bed that I need. Luxury. No upturned cups of tea. I now have a nice solid surface to put my cuppa, my phone, my glasses, a book even. It has a drawer too – imagine !!
Funny how you sometimes don’t realise how annoying something has been until you don’t have to contend with it any more.
I decided to give the drawer a little facelift before I filled it up. I cut scrap booking paper to fit the bottom and sides and used watered down white craft glue brushed on to stick it down. I let it dry overnight and then sealed it with clear gloss estapol. It took the day to dry and that was it.
So just so it’s official, heres a list of five things I LOVE having within hands reach of my bed.
Yes you guessed it – a good sturdy bedside unit that I can’t knock over – uncluttered so I can put things down on it with a little drawer to throw things into.
My glasses and a good book – no more fishing out my glasses from under the bed. Good books? – I’m still reading this one eight months on “A Million Little Ways” by Emily P Freeman. It’s one of those books you read and re read – too good.
A journalling type book to write in. I don’t do a lot of free hand writing any more but I do like it. Inspired by this post “How I Keep Track of What I’m Learning” I’m trying to get into a rhythm of pondering, reading and writing and having a book and a pencil close by helps.
Hand cream – I don’t care what brand it is as long as it smells good and is nice to my hands that always get dry.
Lolly’s and lip balm – I can’t seem to go long these days without either.
So she may not win any beauty pageants but she’s all style and good manners to me.
As for my little blue stand, its still around – it’s doing a beautiful job of hiding the double power point in my room and holds my mobile phone while it charges.
Small change, big difference – works for me.
Any small changes just waiting to happen at your place?
Got a minute? – you can read my latest Women Connect post here
Or take a look at some bedroom organisation and storage ideas here. So good!!