Assimilation Time

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My siblings and I recently cleared our mother’s one bedroom unit. She was not a hoarder, however, she was from a generation who grew up during and immediately following the Great Depression. Waste was an anathema to her.

It was important to us to rehome things thoughtfully and not to just mindlessly donate, or worse still, dump large quantities of her possessions.

In order to consider individual items we brought most things to our homes and have spent time carefully and lovingly sorting Mum’s personal and household items.

Of course, I did not want or need to keep everything as I have a home containing my own things. Nor did I want to create a shrine to my mother. She would have wanted things to go to people who could use them and much of our energy has been spent in identifying where they could be used and/or appreciated. Some has been donated and some passed on to other family members.

I wanted honour her memory by using the items that I kept and they have been assimilated into my household.

Here are a couple of examples.

I am not sure of the age or origin of this delicate tablecloth and it is beginning to show signs of wear in places. It will not last forever but I will use and cherish it.

Here it is on the table.

A completely different item is this hand beater. It is over 60 years old and has been used consistently during that time. I also owned a similar but somewhat newer version – only just over 40 years old which was not as good so I have upgraded.

I also have books, jewellery, scarves, ramekins, crockery, vases and linen. They are all appreciated, cherished and most of all, will be used.

Dealing with the possessions of a loved one can be difficult but it is worthwhile to think carefully about the process to get the best result for your own unique circumstances.

UFO No More

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It is less than 2 months since I wrote this post in which I committed to completing some unfinished projects in 2021. The first was a patchwork quilt for our queen-size bed.

I am pleased to report that the entire project is finished. I did not do the quilting as I have neither the skill nor the equipment to quilt such a large piece. My primary aim was to make a piece of patchwork which used all of the blue-toned fabrics and to declutter some of the bits of fabric that I had be hanging onto for far too long. All have been salvaged from one source or another, with many of them being scraps of homemade garments from various family members. What wonderful memories!

After completing the patchwork, I purchased a piece of suitable backing fabric and placed my handiwork and faith in Tanya who had been recommended to me. I was not disappointed. Tanya quilted the piece using a fairly simple design as I had requested.

Once the quilting was done, the final touch was to bind the edges. I cut bias strips from the remainder of the backing fabric. The handstitching of the binding was a bit tedious but it is now finished and I am thrilled with the final result.

Here are a selection of views of the quilt which is now an integral part of our bed linen.

I hope you have enjoyed following the story of the quilt as much as I have enjoyed creating it.

There has been a significant hiatus in blog posts and I do apologise. Real life events have been first and foremost as my mother is quite ill. Please keep her in your thoughts. My blog presence may be a bit hit and miss but I will certainly be here when I have something of interest to share.

A New Sink

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In this post from a month ago I mentioned that we had made a start on constructing a frame for an old kitchen sink in order to make an outdoor sink.

This was what we had done then. Simply cut some timber to length and positioned it to gauge how it would fit.

Things progressed well and this is the result.

This is not quite the final resting place and we have yet to arrange some rudimentary plumbing – hose from the nearby tank as well as a drain hose connected to the outlet. The drain hose will probably just run out onto the nearest patch of lawn.

I am pleased with the result of our most recent upcycling project which will be positioned adjacent to our vegetable garden. It will be useful for cleaning up after gardening as well as washing freshly picked produce. I can also visualise the draining boards being used as a potting bench.

Different Decluttering

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Our small acreage provides us with plenty of opportunities to build and create in our garden. For the first 13 years that we lived here we were constrained by available time as we were both working full-time. However, that did not diminish our enthusiasm, ideas and the ability to collect materials.

Here are some of the projects we have completed in the past couple of years.

I have written previously about our plans to create an entertaining area under the house so part of the long-term strategy has been to sort and tidy a lot of the materials that are stored there.

During the past few days we have had a bit of a blitz to identify what can realistically be used, what is just rubbish and what we can pass onto other people.

These are some of the last pieces of salvaged Colorbond sheeting which were gratefully collected yesterday after I listed it to giveaway on a local Facebook group.

One of the things we definitely plan to use is the old kitchen sink. When we had the kitchen renovated almost 12 years ago we salvaged it with a view to building an outdoor sink close to the vegetable garden. This would help to eliminate the amount of dirt and unwashed produce that was brought into the kitchen.

Yesterday GMan removed the original taps and plumbing. We cut some timber to length to make the framing and stand. Here are the first pieces in position.

GMan will paint all of the timber before the frame is assembled so it will be a little while before it is completed. More on that another day.

Meanwhile, we recently acquired some more material but it was not stored anywhere. We used an offcut of vinyl flooring to cover the concrete is one corner of the workshop to make a small home gym area.

We are pleased with the ongoing progress.

Taking Responsibility

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We have 3 different types of rubbish collection available to us.

Regular rubbish which is collected weekly goes directly to landfill. We have a small (120 litre) bin for this service and try to minimise the amount we put in it. Sometimes we only take it to the kerbside for collection once a month or less often.

The yellow-lidded 240 litre bin is for mixed recyclables which are sorted at the waste collection facility. Glass, steel, paper, cardboard, aluminium and some plastics are accepted. Collection is fortnightly. Once again, this bin is not usually put out for every collection as we try to limit the amount of packaging which we bring into our home.

Finally, we choose to have the optional ‘green waste’ bin which is suitable for garden prunings, leaves and grass clippings. We are fortunate to have plenty of space for compost heaps but some garden waste is really not suitable for the compost, such as some branches and weeds so these go in the bin.

It is over 12 months since I decided that we could stop putting any paper or cardboard in the recycle bin and that we should take responsibility for this ourselves. I know that this option is not available to or feasible for everyone but this is what we do.

I have a small, previously unused cupboard in the study desk where I keep the shredder and any paper or lightweight cardboard goes in there. About every 3 months I clear it out, sort and shred the paper and cardboard.

The white office quality paper makes excellent material for the nesting boxes for the chickens.

The remainder is shredded and added to the compost. Shredding it means that it will break down faster. The compost is eventually added to the garden and we have dealt with any paper and cardboard completely onsite without the need for energy-intensive recycling processes.

Ready for the compost.

The only paper or cardboard that does not get shredded is large or heavy packaging and the occasional local newspaper. These are stored downstairs until required and used for weed control layers under mulch in the garden.

Words Make a Difference

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I was doing some cleaning today and one of the targets was a drawer in the kitchen. Some people might refer to this as the ‘junk drawer’ and in the past I may have done also.

However, I now call this my useful drawer. Does the name make a difference? I believe that it does. This drawer contains items that are useful. It is not junk. Therefore, when I periodically clean it out it is easy to identify what should be in there. It must be useful and preferably used at least semi-regularly. Junk has no place here and it is easy to remove and discard that which could be categorised as junk.

I did not take a before photo. A few things have been removed. I discarded a piece of used plastic cling film and a couple of small pieces of brown paper that were not big enough to be useful. 2 small instruction manuals have been re-homed with the rest of the instruction manuals.

This small pile of bread tags will be taken to a recycling drop-off point next time I am in town.

The main purpose of the exercise was to have a general clean, as this, like all other kitchen drawers and cupboards, do get grubby over time.

Here is the result of about 15 minutes work.

Back to the matter of words making a difference when decluttering or organising your home. The other phrase I often hear is “getting rid of stuff”. This is particularly unhelpful when dealing with items to which you have a sentimental attachment. It is more than ‘stuff’ and getting rid of it implies that it is worthless rubbish.

If you are dealing with grandma’s tea set, you are unlikely to just get rid of that stuff. But if you believe that you really are not going to use it, there are better ways to consider removing it from your life. You could try ‘letting it go’ which promotes the feeling of setting it free. How good would it be to let it go to someone who will cherish and use it rather than being shut up in the china cabinet?

Your mindset and internal language can make a huge difference when reviewing your possessions and decluttering.

I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences.

Shopping and Sad

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We live in a semi-rural area which is about 30 minutes drive to the Sunshine Coast.

Today we braved the retail chaos which is becoming more pronounced as each year goes by. Early January is a particularly crazy time as we combine post-Christmas sales, back-to-school preparations and the inevitable holidaymakers. I think this year is worse than usual as more people are around as they are not travelling further afield.

This was our shopping list:

Roll of chicken wire – to fence a dog run for our puppy
Screws for attaching metal sheeting – to complete one side of the dog run
Galvanised pipe and connections – to make a hanging rail for the laundry
Small saddle brackets – to attach gate for dog run
9V battery – replacement for smoke alarm
Prescription medications – essential
Toaster – a replacement as the previous one has ceased to operate
Pet medication – essential

The list was thought out, planned and could hardly be described as frivolous. Since it is a 70km round trip we try to make sure that we make the journey worthwhile. We did not spend any longer than necessary and were home in under 3 hours despite the busy carparking areas and heavy traffic in every direction.

This is the hanging rail assembled. It needs to be painted and then installed.

So, why am I sad?

I think it was witnessing the overwhelming amount of stock in every shop we passed and the hordes of shoppers buying more and more stuff. Is it to replace an item, as with our toaster? Perhaps but I am more than mildly sceptical of that reason for more than a very small percentage of purchases.

The passion for decluttering in recent years and resultant overflowing charity shops leads me to think that many of today’s purchases or the goods they are replacing will be charity shop stock in a matter of months.

Many items, including clothes, electronics and household goods can be purchased cheaply and we do not value or care for them but almost regard them as disposable. When they break, are superseded by a new model or are simply no longer the ‘flavour of the month’ we toss them aside. Many of these discarded consumer items end up in landfill but to salve our consciousness we drop them at the charity shop. Unfortunately, a significant proportion still ends up in landfill and takes up time, effort and resources of those who volunteers to assist the various charities.

Everywhere you turn there are empty shops and businesses. Online shopping continues to gather pace. Are we buying more stuff because it is so easy to click a few buttons and it turns up on our doorstep in a matter of days? Is the lack of effort or consideration required making us shop more?

There is plenty of discussion amongst marketers on how to make sure that people continue to buy more and more stuff so that retailers and businesses can continue to increase their profits. At what cost?

We are drowning in our stuff and killing the planet in our quest to have more and more. I feel like something has to change and soon.

My personal action is to try not to waste anything, use what we have, source items secondhand where possible and be mindful that we have ‘enough’.

I wrote this post just over 6 years ago. There is a link to an interesting short video which is worth watching.

Rearranging

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As I continue to gradually declutter items which are no longer required, it often becomes evident that alternative locations make sense for other things.

It is quite a while since I had taken anything to the op shop but I had a bag in the cupboard which I had been adding to as I found things.  Additionally, there were a couple of electronic devices which I also needed to pass along.

We are going away on holidays soon and have housesitters coming to stay and they will use the guest room.  I knew that I would have to move the large collection of magazines which I had recently relocated from the floor of the wardrobe in the guest room to the drawers of the dressing table.  I had done this so that we could store a couple of chairs in the wardrobe.

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You can read the full post here.

With the op shop stuff successfully delivered I had a spare shelf in the cupboard in my sewing room.  It was the perfect size for the magazines.  In all honesty, it is going to be easier to access them rather than having them lying in drawers.

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The dressing table drawers are now empty and able to be used by the housesitters and any other future guests.

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While I was in the guest room I noticed that the doors (vinyl finish) were somewhat discoloured and on closer inspection had some mould stains.  Unfortunately, mould is a constant enemy in our climate.

I cleaned the doors using the lightly abrasive home-made cream cleanser and they look much better.  I think it is the first time I have really scrubbed them in more than 10 years since they were first installed.  They are now looking as good as new.

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One Small Cupboard

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I started thinking about how to begin this post and went trawling through the archives of the blog.  What an eye-opener!

This photo is from a blog post in January 2015.  It is one half of the the cupboard in the office/study – the other half is my linen cupboard.  You can read the whole post here if you are interested.

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These are before and after photos from a follow-up blog post in June 2015.  We had down-sized from the 4 drawer filing cabinet to a 2 drawer one.  This also meant that we were able to create an extra shelf using an offcut of melamine shelving.

Fast forward 5 years and after gradually reducing the contents of the filing cabinet, we were able to get rid of it completely and relocate the last few remaining files to the filing drawer of the desk which had remained unused up to that point.

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We decided to add another shelf but also removed the previous extra shelf as the cut edges had never been painted.  There is plenty of space.

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Two shelves in place.

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The contents rearranged and easy to locate.

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The plastic crate on the floor of the cupboard is going to be our evacuation/emergency box.  There will be a few things stored in it but the primary thing is a checklist of what to add (eg: medications) and what to do in specific situations.  The contents and list may have slight seasonal variations and will be reviewed at regular intervals.  My camera is sitting on top of the box.

It is interesting to see the evolution of the organisation of various spaces in our home.  We have lived in this house for almost 15 years which is considerably longer than we have ever resided anywhere else.  There has not been the impetus of an impending house move but we have actually decluttered quite a bit by doing it slowly and consistently.  The blog is quite an amazing record of what we have achieved in the last 9.5 years.

Clearing the Inbox

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Over the past few days I have been clearing out the Inboxes of our 2 email accounts.  This is what it looks like now.

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The total emails I have in ‘All Mail’ is 207.

This is not the first time I have done this and I am sure it won’t be the last, however, I do intend to try to keep on top of the email correspondence on a regular basis.

You can read this post from 2015.  There were only about 1500 emails before I started this time.

My goal is maintain the ‘All Mail’ at less than 250 but this will fluctuate somewhat depending on what I need to hold for future reference.

Clutter can weigh you down and prevent you from living your best life.  Digital clutter is no different.