Saturday, 31 January 2015

Catching My Breath

What a busy few weeks I've had, not just with the de-cluttering that's been going on at my home, but I had one of my chickens fly back from overseas a fortnight ago and be in immediate need of being moved from Uni accommodation out into her first mainstream rental property, and another one moving out of home and up to the big smoke for a career and lifestyle change.
Today marked the big move to the city for my eldest daughter. She's there, safely. As any parent of children that are of driving age will attest, there's nothing like THAT phone call from your offspring to signal the end of a long drive and a safe arrival at their chosen destination, no matter what their age.

With these recent migrations now behind us, I do believe, in the not too distant future, that some normality may just re-insert itself into my life, although I am well aware that there is a rather broad range of life circumstances, depending on the structure of your family, that would be considered normal. The kind of normal I guess I'm referring to is the kind where the house is in relative order, I again have the time to immerse myself in some of my favourite domestic activities, including vegan cooking and gardening, and that all three girls are smiling, indicating that they have happily settled into their respective new homes and jobs. *sigh*

My garden is looking a little bedraggled as the Summer sun takes its toll on the veggie patch, without me having neither the time nor the energy lately to tend to it as I normally would. Everything in the garden is certainly salvageable and I've been fortunate enough to have been supplied with an abundance of veggies from it of late that I've made use of in the dishes I've been creating, although time has prevented me from being overly creative.

Yesterday, as I prepared for all three girls to join me for tea, I picked 3-4 kilos of tomatoes from the garden and made a batch of Passata, (a light sauce made from cooked and sieved tomatoes) which I would use as the base on which to create a Vegan Mediterranean pasta dish. The sauce included onion, garlic, olives, sun-dried tomatoes, marinated artichoke hearts, red capsicum all topped off with a host of flavour enhancing herbs also from the 'patch.' Served over a bed of al dente Penne pasta, there were full bellies all round although much grumbling was to be heard over the fact that there was no cheese. Being a Vegan, its not something I buy and with kids flying the coop left right and centre, there's hardly any non-vegan supplies in the fridge anymore apart from one or two dairy items such as sour cream, ricotta cheese or yoghurt purchased by daughter number three.

Another day draws to a close, and as I sit here writing, occasionally glancing out into my beautiful 'Secret Garden' which I can see clearly from the open window before me, a mixture of feelings wash over me as I edge one step closer to joining the ranks of what's commonly known as the 'empty nesters.'
Until then, I can only feel slightly sorry for the only chicken remaining in the nest as she braces herself for some pretty serious smothering on my part, as I roll the physical attention I would normally have given to three chickens, into one. Good times.....

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

"One Woman's Trash...."

Well, what a weekend that turned out to be! I cannot begin to tell you how many different things I am learning as I undertake this decluttering journey.
Today I just want to touch on one aspect of it as I went on an all out mission to clear out my garage which was literally bursting at the seams with 'stuff' that hadn't been looked at for about 4 years, much of which was never going to be used by me again.

The items pretty much fell into 3 categories;
1. Things suitable for sale.
2. Things to give away.
3. Things to discard.

As I'd had a 6 cubic metre skip bin delivered to my driveway last week, the throw away items were easy to dispose of.
See part of this process here as my band of willing helpers and I began the bin filling process on Saturday. (Full credit to Rob for his videography and editing skills.)

The obvious choice for the give away items was to box/bag them up and deliver them to the local goodwill stores in the area. This process began weeks ago and will continue over the coming months as I re-visit the inside of my already 'culled' cupboards in every room of my house for a second look.

I had some larger, more valuable items such as furniture, power tools and other household items which I chose to sell. For these, I made use of our local Facebook Buy, swap and sell pages. What a fantastic tool this turned out to be! A quick photo and a description of the item and the listing was ready to load onto Facebook where the enquiries came thick and fast. There were no issues, I was free of a whole host of things I no longer needed and all in all, the people I dealt with were incredibly appreciative to have obtained such a bargain as the ones I had on offer. I also had some larger give away items that I listed on this page which were snapped up by folks in the blink of an eye.

Having put aside the entire weekend for this rather large task, time was on my side so I wasn't adverse to some friendly banter with the folks that visited my shed to collect their goodies. Without exception, they were all open to a light hearted chat and it again reminded me of how more alike than unalike we all are in so many ways, regardless of where our walk in life has taken us.

As the skip bin's contents edge their way towards the fill line, and with 3 days until pick-up, I continue to scour the yard and the sheds for things to discard. Without a doubt, this part of my de-cluttering journey has had the most impact through the sheer volume of 'stuff' that has left my life.
For those of you wondering, no, it wasn't easy. Yes, I did stand over some things and hesitate, procrastinate even, as I made the decision as to whether or not I really wanted to part with certain things from my past. I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt, that now, on the other side of that, where the items have been driven away from my home in someone else's car, I will never, ever miss them. Most of the hesitating was done as I fantasised about the day that I may use that 'thing' again...I won't. If I hadn't in the 4 years that it's been sitting at the back of the shed gathering dust and providing a home for the multitude of spiders that live there, I'm never going to. Accepting that the past is the past, (whether that be a week or a decade) and that to move forward in the most positive way possible, free from the weight of dragging all these things along with me, letting go of them was necessary. This was certainly a thought process rather than a single, fleeting thought.
I'm getting the hang of it,  slowly, (Yay me!) and there's still a ways to go but now rather than dreading it as I did at the beginning of this journey, which began with one drawer, I'm embracing each and every stage with gusto.
And on we go......lighter.

Friday, 16 January 2015

Me In All My Humanness

Ok. so this is the part of my de-cluttering project where I reveal a sight that may or may not resonate with you. I'm kinda hoping it does to spare me the embarrassment of going this one alone.

The aim of this de-cluttering project, for me personally, is to free me on so many levels from the anxiety and angst that holding on to things that I no longer use, love or need causes me. Holding on to such things also means I waste so much time looking for things, cleaning around and under things and generally just feeling overwhelmed by the 'stuff' that is in my home that literally serves no purpose.
Cupboards are great. Cupboards can also be your worst enemy if, like me, you are time poor and need a place to put things. Moving things from one place to another does not constitute organising if the place you are putting the things into, isn't where they live. I'm not sure what you call that, but it will eventually come back to bite you.
I will consider myself 'bitten' as I have been using the 'office nook' in my kitchen for several months as a central holding space for a whole host of items that I didn't have time to place into their proper homes, and because there are doors on the aforementioned nook, it worked well.
Out of sight, out of mind.
In my defence, there were office type items in there too, but I do actually have a designated room which serves as my office, so in all honesty, that argument is weak to say the least.
The first picture will show you what happened over a period of time, perhaps 3 months, as I continued to put 'things' in there and close the door. (*note the bow in the top shelf!)
I'm not entirely comfortable sharing this picture and my only hope is that it may inspire someone to take that first step, one that I found so hard to take in the beginning, but one that I am so glad I took now as my home starts to feel like it's alive again.
I seriously didn't think it would be such a lengthy process, thinking I would just clear out a cupboard or two, but the feeling that comes from simply getting the unwanted items out of the house has taken me completely by surprise and I am finding that it just gets easier as I become addicted to the peace that accompanies it.
This cupboard took almost an entire day to sort out what with the filing of papers, the removal and disposal of all unwanted items, (of which there were many) the re-homing of things that didn't belong and the re-arranging of the few things that were then to make the cupboard their permanent home. I also spent more than two hours sorting out my taxation documents and worked at my computer on the data entry process ready for a visit to my trusty accountant.
All in all, it was a day well spent and I am extremely pleased with the end result.
And so, on to the next cupboard.

Monday, 12 January 2015

Minimalist Food

Well, here we are on yet another Monday morning and I don't know where the weekend went but its gone. With all that I had on my agenda, including work, a haircut and various family activities, my de-cluttering project took a backseat and the half packed boxes from last week remain in my hallway as we speak.
I know how important keeping up the momentum on such a task is, so I will be undertaking a mini start over after work tonight as I tackle a drawer in my sideboard cupboard which sits in the hallway. This beautiful old, oak sideboard is one of my favourite pieces of furniture.
There's nothing fancy about it really and it's been well loved in the 30 years that I've had it and there's also a few dents and scratches from it's life before I owned it.
It has two drawers which sit above two quite large cupboards. Every inch of it's usable space is chocka block full. The drawers are like the ones I mentioned in a previous blog that contain every thing from batteries, phone chargers and torches to the girls old report cards, photos and candles.
I'm wondering if that's hard for you to imagine or do you have drawers like that yourself?
The cupboards currently house old magazines, boxes of candles (just in case you were wondering, yes, you can have too many candles!!) and all manner of things...I use the word 'things' as I'm embarrassed to say that I really don't know what's in there which would tell me that I will need a rather large garbage bag for this one.
As I head off to work, a part of my breakfast also took on a minimalist look this morning as I cut up some fresh Figs to add to my bowl of muesli. Along with Mangoes, Figs are right up there as a favourite part of my Summer fruit regime. Their season is even shorter than the Mango season and I am fortunate enough to have someone very dear to me that keeps me supplied with fresh, organic Figs from a tree in their garden.
I hope, like me, you feel freshly inspired on this Monday morning to begin/resume your de-cluttering journey and I look forward to sharing more tips with you as I plough on through, this week, securing quotes to have a skip bin delivered to my driveway for the de-cluttering of my sheds. Stay tuned!!

Friday, 9 January 2015

Seriously, They're Only 'Things.'

I hope I've inspired some of you to at least consider a bit of a household de -clutter and judging from the feedback I've been receiving, its just what we've all needed. There's probably no better month than January to get started while the thoughts New Years resolutions are still fresh in our minds.
So, if you've made the decision to get started on your life makeover, you'll probably be wondering how to sort your goodies into categories of what's staying, what's leaving and which items need some consideration.
Some De-Cluttering Rules
One year rule: If you haven’t worn it/used it/looked at it in a year, its time for it to go.
Doesn't belong to you: This is the worst type of clutter – you don’t even own it! Give it back to the person who does.
Guilt: Life gets busy, and you shouldn’t put more pressure on yourself by feeling responsible for things. They are just things, and don’t get you any closer to your goals particularly
 if you are beating yourself up over them.
‘Just in case’: Think about the items you keep for this reason.  Have any of those events come up when you actually needed them? 
Publications: Magazines and newspapers are old; the information contained in them is most likely outdated.  All of this information is easily found on the web.  This goes for some books also. (it hurt me to say that!!)
Done: There are items that we just don't need, impulse purchases, broken or outdated items or quite simply, our tastes have changed. These things can sometimes be the hardest to make a decision about but if you aren't feeling the love when you look at them or they aren't functional, out they go.
Simply the best: Only put back into your wardrobes and cupboards the best of what you own or things that you simply cannot part with.
Keeping these rules in mind will help you really make the most of your de-cluttering.

Your plan of attack – 3 simple steps

Step 1 – Sort through the selected room and put items into appropriate boxes
Step 2 – Organise the items you are keeping
Step 3 – Dispose of unwanted things
Before you start your de-clutter, you need to organise how you are going to package up whats leaving the house. I use/used boxes and garbage bags, lots of them. Bags were great for lighter items such as clothes, cushions and linen etc and the boxes were perfect for heavier items. Boxes are available from many clothing or retail stores for free if you go in and ask for them. Most often they come already folded down so a roll of packing tape is essential to assemble them.
Label four boxes with the following categories:
  • rubbish
  • op shop
  • give away (friends etc)
  • unsure. *This box should get a week of thinking time 'maximum.'

Step 1: Sorting
To support your goal of a clutter-free home, you should only going to keep what supports you.  Everything else goes. Use your 'unsure' box. You will want to keep up your de-cluttering momentum so spend time contemplating those items you are hesitant to part with later.
Sometimes it’s easier to just clean instead of making those tough decisions because it’s familiar and simple to do. Do not spend all of your time doing this.

Step 2: Organising

Sometimes ‘good enough’ is just good enough. Don’t take time from the de-cluttering to make your home perfect, there will be time for that later. Keep up your momentum.
A Right Place for Everything
Take time to think about how you use the space you’ve just cleared and place items back accordingly. I've realised whilst undertaking my de-cluttering that my kitchen bench is in fact not my office desk!
Step 3: Out it goes.
Getting unwanted items out of the house
Since you worked so hard to get here, make sure you get rid of the clutter as soon as possible.
I have posted a link below which lists some of our local charities and their locations that will be only too happy to take some of your unwanted goodies. As they say, "one mans trash is another mans treasure." Please check with them regarding the types of items they will accept as there are some guidelines you will need to adhere to.
The link below will take you to the Mount Gambier City Council Waste Transfer Station information page where you will find info regarding the dumping of unwanted items such as computer screens, tv's and other items that aren't suitable for the op shops. The page also lists prices for the dumping of rubbish and the station's opening times. Don't hesitate to give them a call if you are unsure of anything.
Well, I hope this information will help to get you started if you haven't already. 
As I said in a previous blog, the first bag/box is the hardest but the rewards are long lasting and will give you the opportunity to set up some new habits to keep your newly de-cluttered home organised. 

Thursday, 8 January 2015

De-cluttering My Life

Who would have thought that filling one shopping bag with some unwanted paperwork that had been hanging around on the kitchen bench and throwing it in the bin, could have sparked such a massive re-organising of my house, correction, my life.
That's where it started about 2 weeks ago and it has turned into the biggest clean out of personal belongings that I've ever undertaken.
Those who know me, and in particular my nearest and dearest, will acknowledge that I'm not one to do things in 'fractions,' nor do i undertake any activity without analysing it to death for a deeper meaning or a way in which to use it for expanding the perimeters of my personal growth.
The deeper meaning that surfaced as I have totally immersed myself in a life detox, took me completely by surprise and has shown itself in incremental emotional outbursts rather than one big, life changing 'aha' moment.
Saying goodbye to long held personal belongings when you've just realised that you are holding on to out of an attachment to a memory, a loved one or a time in your life that can still evoke an emotional reaction can be painful, and this, for me, was totally unexpected.
'Stuff,' (until you delve deeply and understand the complexity of it) brings security. When you are surrounded by your belongings, you feel safe, grounded if you like. Start moving them out of your life, and boy oh boy, expect some pretty powerful emotions to be stirred up. Let's face it, as a species, we are change resistant and even though we may recognise the change as positive, it still takes some courage and can be quite a challenge to do what's needed to implement the move in this direction. It's at that point of resistance that its easy to start unpacking the bags/boxes and putting things back where they came from in an attempt to correct the imbalance.
Ploughing on through regardless of the uneasiness that is being brought to the surface is vital if you are going to go the distance and de-clutter your life in a meaningful and lasting way, even if that has to happen through teary eyes or with the help of a supportive friend. I'm not saying you should part with things that hold special meaning and parting with them will bring more angst than hanging on to them, but I think we all instinctively know when we look at something whether or not it's a keeper for the right reasons.
The secret is to start. It's that simple.
One plastic bag full of items that are surplus to your requirements from any room you choose, is a great way to begin and is often enough to motivate you to choose a bigger bag the next time.
I found drawers the easiest place to start as they are small, they don't take long to empty and re-organise and we all have one of THOSE drawers, you know the one....the one that if there's ever anything missing, it's probably in THAT drawer. If there are bits and bobs lying around the house with no home, into THAT drawer they go. It's a great starting place for a de-clutter.
I've literally been blown away by the response I've received from my fb and instagram posts regarding my 30 day de-clutter and I'm so excited for those of you who have either already started (GO YOU!!!!) or those of you who are currently plucking up the courage to give it a go sometime in the near future. (YOU CAN DO IT!!!!)
I encourage and support each and every one of you to take the plunge and fill that first bag.
The first one is the hardest but i promise you, you wont look back.
I will be blogging more on this topic in the coming days and will share more tips from my own life makeover which, lets be honest, is far from over!
I would love to hear about your de-cluttering journey either in the comments section below or via any of my social media platforms, all of which are listed on the top right hand side of this page.
If you prefer to message privately or have any questions,
feel free to inbox me on my fb page or email me here.