On the Wall

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It probably seems counter-intuitive to be sharing about our latest acquisition when I am often extolling the virtues of decluttering and minimalism.  However, I do not subscribe to the bare, sterile aesthetic that is sometimes associated with minimalism.

Carefully curated and intentional purchases form the basis of our home decor and today we were able to collect this newly-framed piece.

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We have been looking for an appropriate piece of artwork for the corner of the dining area for some time.  As GMan would say, “We will know it when we see it”.  Well, we found this right under our noses.  It is an enlargement of a photograph I took when we were on holidays in the south-west of Western Australia in 2005.  This and a couple of other enlargements were lurking in a bag in the cupboard and I found them when I began sorting out our collection of photos.

The next step was to have it suitably framed.  As with any professional framing job, it was a challenge to decide on a frame and surround which would complement the piece.  We made our choice and left the work to be completed.

When we collected the finished framed photo I was very happy with the result.  It looks perfect in this corner.

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And with the blinds drawn.

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Chairs, Clothes and Other Bits

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We have recently replaced the protective felt feet on the legs of our kitchen chairs.  There are four high chairs which fit around our large return bench/meals area.

This project was undertaken two chairs at a time so for several weeks there have only been two chairs in the kitchen at any given time.  I realised how much less cluttered the area felt with only two chairs.  Since there is only GMan and I here most of the time, there is really no necessity to have four chairs.

The next question was, where could we store the other two chairs so that they would stay clean and be easily accessible when we had additional guests?  We found that the wardrobe in the guest room would be perfect but the space was currently occupied.  My off-season (summer) clothes were hanging on the rail and the floor was filled with about 100 magazines which are some of my retirement reading material as well as 5 large photo albums.

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I set about working out how I could re-arrange things.

The clothes were moved to the empty hanging space in the third bedroom which is used primarily as my sewing room.

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The photo albums provided the impetus to continue working on sorting and culling my photos – both digital and hard copy.  You can read more about that in my post from yesterday.  They will live in the library/study until they are no longer required.

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The magazines have been relocated to the drawers of the dressing table in the guest room.  I intend to make a start on reading them and expect that once I have finished reading them I will pass them on to someone else who may be interested in them.

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The chairs are now in the wardrobe but easy to retrieve when we need them.

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I am pleased with the final result and as an added bonus I have been spurred into doing some more work on the photos as well as making a start on reading my large collection of Australian Geographic magazines.

Rainy Day Activity

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It has been a cool, showery day so outdoor activities were not really possible so I returned to my photo project.  I started this about 2 months ago and you can read the details here.  After the initial burst, I have continued to make progress by doing a bit almost every evening.

Yesterday, I located the albums which had all been scanned.  They were carefully stored in the bottom of a wardrobe in the guest room.  It was an incidental find as I was not specifically looking for them.

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Today I have cross-checked that all the photos have been scanned and filed in correctly dated folders.

It seems like an enormous waste but the hard copies of the photos and albums will eventually all be discarded.  However, I need to retrieve all of the dates and details to include in the description of the digital copies before I consider doing that.

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The albums cannot be reused as there are details written in them.  Therefore, I will be removing the plastic photo sleeves which can be recycled as ‘soft plastic’ and then the lightweight cardboard pages will be able to be recycled separately.

As you can imagine, it has been something of a nostalgia trip as I sort through over 40 years of photographs documenting various aspects of our lives but predominately celebrations and holidays.  It is a stark reminder of how valuable photographs were when images were recorded on film then sent away to be developed and the anxious wait for their return.  We thought twice about taking dozens of images which were relatively expensive to develop.  Our attitude to photos has certainly changed with the advent of digital cameras and cameras built into mobile phones.

Minimalism, Decluttering and Zero Waste

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While each of these concepts or activities are all different and stand alone, they can be inter-related.

Here are some definitions/explanations of the three terms.

Minimalism – is a tool to rid yourself of life’s excess in favor of focusing on what’s important—so you can find happiness, fulfillment, and freedom.  This comes from ‘The Minimalists’.  You can read the full article here.

Decluttering – to remove things you do not need from a place, in order to make it more pleasant and more useful.  From the Cambridge Dictionary.

Zero Waste – is a set of principles focused on waste prevention that encourages the redesign of resource life cycles so that all products are reused. The goal is for no trash to be sent to landfills, incinerators or the ocean.  From Wikipaedia.

Minimalism and decluttering are very personal and subjective topics and I am not here to tell you that you must only own a certain number of a particular item or what you should or should not remove from your life or home.

There is no good reason for the order in which I listed these topics but I feel as though decluttering should come first.  I think it would be almost impossible to consider minimalism without  first removing the clutter.

Identifying and removing clutter is the first step to clearing both physical and mental spaces.  However, beware of anyone who tells you that they they decluttered their entire home on the weekend.  It is best done as a considered and incremental process otherwise the results are likely to be the same as a ‘crash diet’.  You may lose your way and end up in a worse position than when you started.

Below are are couple of photos of my bathroom.  It did not always look like this.  I do not expect that is how yours should look.  It is simply an example.

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It is close to 20 years since I began to question the variety of lotions and potions I seemed to have but I did not throw any away.  I gradually used things up and did not replace them.  Routines have been simplified and we no longer use shampoo or conditioner.  I mostly wash my hair with plain water and occasionally use a small amount of body wash.  This was not a conscious decision but a by-product of questioning what we really need.  I am not alone as you can see here.

The reason that I mentioned not using shampoo or conditioner is that is a perfect example of how minimalism, decluttering and zero waste can be tied together.  My shower shelf and bathroom cabinet are not cluttered and our bathroom needs are minimal.  There are no shampoo bottles ending up in landfill or at best, possibly being recycled.  Additionally, trying to avoid harsh chemicals and toxins ceases to be an issue.

You do not need to subscribe to any particular philosophy but living an authentic life which works for you is important.

Your thoughts?

 

Easily Pleased

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Those of you who know me well or have been following this blog for an extended period of time will be aware that shopping is not a great love of mine.  For the most part, I have pretty well everything I need.  However, my plastic spatula which I have owned for at least 20 years met an untimely end courtesy of the blades of the blender.  I realised that I definitely needed one so checked online and found that Big W had Pyrex brand large and small silicone spatulas on special so when we were out and about on Tuesday I attempted to get one of each size.  The small ones were sold out so I will look again another day as GMan is keen for a small one to use when making sourdough.

In the meantime, here is the new addition to my collection of kitchen utensils.

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Coincidentally, I had planned to clean out the utensil jars and drawer.  Each time I do this there is usually something which I decide is no longer required but I have culled my collection of utensils to a point that everything is worthy of its place in the kitchen.

Like all decluttering/streamlining projects, there is no ‘one size fits all’ as we all have different needs in the kitchen.

I have 2 utensil jars.  These hold the majority of frequently used utensils.

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Here they are laid out on the bench.

The hand beater lives in the side of the regular cutlery drawer.

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The contents of the utensil drawer.  These are generally too small or too sharp to stand in a utensil jar.  Some, such as the vegetable peeler and measuring spoons are used every day while most would be used at least once a month and a few less frequently.

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I have an expanding bamboo divider which helps to keep them in some sort of order.  Once I had wiped the drawer and the divider, I replaced all of the items.

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There is one item missing from these photos.  The pie slice which GMan is revarnishing the wooden handle.

I have not shown the sharp knives which I keep separately in a knife block.

I have multiples of a few things – measuring spoons, tongs, wooden spoons and pastry brushes but these are all used.

What are your essential kitchen utensils?  Have you reviewed or reduced what you have recently?

Photos – Another Milestone

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There have been no blog posts for a few days but I have been beavering away in the background.

In my earlier post I mentioned that I was not ready to attack the large box of photos.  That resolve did not last for long and I decided that I needed to work on those as well as the digital files.  So, I began scanning.  This did not turn out to be as onerous as I had originally imagined.  The reason for this was that many of the hard copies in the box had, in fact, actually already been scanned.  Nevertheless, it meant that I needed to cross-check every photograph to ensure that it had been scanned and do those that had not previously been scanned.

Therefore, I am excited to report that all of my photos are now scanned and saved on the computer.  I still have a long way to go before I can declare that this project is finished.  The next stage is to work on culling any duplicates or poor quality images.  Once I have a curated collection for a particular folder they will then be numbered and named according the convention I have deemed suitable to ensure that the preferred sequence is maintained.

The last couple of weeks have been a bit testing as the various piles of photos took over the desk, the end of the kitchen bench and even some of the floor of the study.

One of the real highlights of this project has been the re-discovery of forgotten or rarely seen images.

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Photos – The First Step

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5 days ago in this post I unveiled my latest decluttering project.  I intend to have all of my photos culled, sorted and labelled in a digital format.

I started with the files that were already on my computers – yes, plural.  The very first step was to consolidate them onto one device for the purpose of this project.  That resulted in reducing the number from over 18,000 images to 17,300.

I then removed further duplicates as I placed the photos in 15 primary folders plus and additional one for some assorted videos.

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The categories I chose reflect my interests and priorities.  Yours may be very different.

Within those folders are sub-categories.  For instance, the one named ‘Animals’ contains photos of various pets we have had over the years.  Each pet has their own folder.  ‘Family’ which contains the largest number of photos has a folder for each year.  Within that folder may be folders for specific events such as birthdays and weddings with the remainder of photos for the year simply be ordered sequentially  and labelled with the person and place if applicable.  Some of the folders may be removed completely once all of the photos are dealt with.  The folders ‘Food’ and ‘Clothes’ are primarily for photos used in blog posts.  Once these have been checked against the folders for the blog and the photos referenced then the photos and other folders may be deleted.

Although this screenshot looks very neat, there is an enormous jumble within those folders that will take many hours of work to unravel.  I have plenty of time and intend to a little bit every day – a bit like eating an elephant!

The second part of the photo project is contained in a box.  The box on top of the filing cabinet contains all of the photos which have yet to be scanned, along with assorted other bits and pieces.  I dare not show you the contents yet as I am not ready to dive into that and the photos that need scanning until I have the digital files under control.

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The good news is that the digital files have now been whittled down a bit further to 16,500.

So, why am I doing this?

  1.  As with any decluttering project, I want to keep only that which is useful and of value.  This means removing duplicates, photos that no longer have any meaning to me and poor quality images where there is a superior one that is similar.
  2.  Having an organised and curated collection means that my family and I are more likely to peruse and enjoy the photos.
  3.   When I am gone it will be easy for people to choose which photos to retain and which were only of value to me.
  4.   My descendants will not be left wondering as to who was in a photo or where and when it was taken.

Like many people, I have left this task far too long but I am now determined to complete it.  I honestly have no idea how long it will take.

The Long Haul

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I have begun a new project and as the title indicates, it is not something that will be completed quickly.

The sorting, cataloging and culling of my photos has begun in earnest.  The first step is the digital files, so there is really very little to show.  I had files duplicated on 2 computers as well as some of them on an external hard drive.  They are now all consolidated onto a single device.  There are currently over 17,000 files.  They include nearly 1,000 prints that I scanned some years ago.  There are still more to scan but they can wait until the next stage as I want to get all of the digital files sorted before I add any more.  Some of the files are duplicates and others will undoubtedly be culled.  At least I only have a handful of images on my phone as I regularly download those to the computer.

There have been several attempts to do this over a number of years but it was simply to big a job to tackle while I was working but a combination of retirement and an extended period of self-isolation has proved to be the perfect formula for tackling this task.

Previous attempts have helped me to come up with a digital filing method and naming convention that will allow me to find and access particular images with relative ease in the future.

There is lots of fun in finding some blasts from the past.

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I intend to try to do at least a little bit of this project every day but I also have plenty else to keep me occupied and interested.  Tomorrow I will be helping GMan with his latest garden project – building new compost bays.

What Lies Within

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Today I cleaned the vanity unit in our bathroom.  It is generally a quick wipe over the mirror with home-made window cleaner then the sink and surrounds with a cream cleanser – also home-made.  The recipe for the window cleaner is simply 400ml water, 100ml vinegar and a few drops of dishwashing liquid mixed in a spray bottle.  The recipe for the cream cleanser is here.

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Nowhere are my minimalist tendencies more evident than in the bathroom.  All that is on the bench is a toothbrush holder (repurposed vase with a hole drilled in the bottom) and a soap dish with a small cake of hand soap.  Keeping the bench clear makes it easy to clean.

However, today I cleaned the cupboards and all of the drawers so the first task was to remove everything.  This is the contents of my vanity unit laid bare.

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I started with the cupboard as that was relatively easy.  The large box on the right hand side contains all medications and first aid supplies.  I had cleaned and sorted this a few weeks ago, including removing any expired medications which I returned to the chemist for disposal.

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Then it was on to the drawers.  The top two have 4 clear plastic containers which I use to divide and contain the contents.  I bought them about 10 years ago from Howard’s Storage World.  After washing and drying the containers, I reviewed and replaced the contents.  GMan uses one drawer and I have the other.

This is mine.

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There are no photos of the other drawers but the third one has a bag of essentials, including prescription medications and the relevant paperwork.  This is specifically to grab and add to our evacuation kit if the need should ever arise.  In order for the medication not to expire, I constantly use and replace these medications on a weekly basis.

The bottom drawer has an assortment of extra stock such as toothpaste, toothbrushes, and shower caps as well as my hairdryer.

I threw out a few things but this was predominately a cleaning exercise.  I found various sample-sized items as well as some almost empty bottles that simply need to be used up.  I put everything in the container below and will leave it out on the bench to remind us to use them.

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Share the Joy

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On two occasions recently, I have been able to pass along items that are not of use to me.

This is slightly different to decluttering because I never intended using either of the items concerned.

The first was when we were in Melbourne and I was having a good look around a large suburban op shop.  I found a Veronika Maine dress.

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While I have never owned any Veronika Maine clothing, I do know that they are good quality and it was made in Australia.  I knew that a size 10 would not fit me nor did I need a dress which would be totally at home in a corporate work environment.  So, I left it there even though it looked perfect and was priced at a relatively tiny $9.  After several hours of thinking about this dress, I decided to write a post for a Facebook group.  This group is simply a gathering of like-minded female friends, some of whom I know in real life.  I offered to buy the dress and post it (if required) if anyone was interested.  Sure enough, someone was keen and the dress is now in regional NSW with a new owner.

I am part of a small group in my local town who make Boomerang bags.  We regularly receive bags and boxes of donated fabric from a variety of sources.  Sometimes these include fabric which is not suitable for making the bags and we generally try to repurpose it in some way.  However, I was sorting through some fabric yesterday when I came across several pieces which defeated me when it came to thinking about how it could be used.

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It is a silky type of material with a floral pattern on it.  Most intriguing was the fact that is had been cut into long strip about 20cm wide and up to 6 metres in length.  This rendered it unusable for making any type of garment.  Once again, I offered it to my online group of friends for the cost of the postage.  Lo and behold, someone was very keen and the parcel is currently en route.  I will look forward to discovering what crafty project this will be used for.

The alternative was to send it to an op shop but I fear that it would have landed in the ‘too hard’ basket and subsequently in landfill.

I have found that it is worth spending a little extra time and effort to find someone to pass things on to directly.