Packing Priorities

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We now have a contract for the sale of our home. While the contract is still conditional for a couple more weeks, it is time to really start moving forward with preparations for our move.

I have been sourcing previously used packing boxes and today I packed up 9 boxes of books from the bookshelves in our office/library area.

With a little over 7 weeks until moving day most of my focus is going to be on preparing for the big day and blog posts will mostly reflect that over the coming weeks. I will cover various aspects of how we handle the preparation.

It is 17 years since our last move. We have spent much longer in our current home than anywhere we had lived previously. However, we have decluttered and simplified during that time and it will be interesting to see how that impacts the moving process.

When we came here both of our daughters had left the family home but only relatively recently so we still had quite a lot of possessions that related to them but that is no longer the case.

More information on our future plans will unfold over the next few weeks.

Packing Up

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It is a little over 2 months since I first mentioned that we had listed our home for sale. After almost 3 months on the market (including the Christmas and New Year period), we are close to finalising the sale.

Although we will have professional removalists who will pack all of the breakable items, there is no good reason why I cannot pack up things like linen, clothes, sewing fabrics and books. However, packing up an entire house in a few days is not my idea of fun, even if our possessions are relatively minimal.

So, I have begun to pack some non-essential and rarely used items. I have sourced various boxes as well as some plastic crates.

At the moment the packed boxes are stacked in the wardrobe in the spare bedroom.

I also used suitcases to pack some of our out-of-season clothes. This made sense since the suitcases need to be relocated so they might as well be filled with clothes.

I intend to do something towards packing each day or two so that I can spread it over a few weeks and it is not too onerous.

In the next couple of days I will be emptying all of the good crockery, glasses and serving platters out of the sideboard. This has been sold and will be picked up at the end of the week.

Clutter -Free in ’23

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The title of this post is taken from a comment I read a couple of days ago in a Facebook decluttering group.

My first task for the new year is not physical clutter but that insidious beast – digital clutter.

I have previously written on several occasions about trying to keep our emails under control. In fact, while re-reading past posts on the subject, I found mention of the ‘All Mail’ being between 1500 and 5000 emails at times. Over a number of years I have managed to consistently keep the total to less than 500, then 250 and even hovering around 150. The last few months have seen me cull them further to keep ‘All Mail’ to less than 100. Right now it is 66 which is very pleasing.

I found this post today which is a really helpful reminder of all the ways digital clutter can accumulate.

There are so many corners of your phone, computer and the internet where digital clutter may be lurking.

Every time I open WordPress to write a new blog post I am confronted by the fact that I have 73 posts in draft format. What?? But no more. Today I checked each and every one of those drafts that have accumulated over the almost 12 years of writing this blog and found that most of them were no longer even remotely relevant. The majority were not much more than a title or a few words. So, I had a great time deleting them all. I now have 3 drafts which I kept as I believe that they have the makings of posts worthy of publication in the future.

I do not keep thousands of photos on my phone as I regularly download them to the laptop and delete from the phone. However, I have not been as diligent as I could be with the next step of sorting and cataloguing them. The folder of ‘Camera Imports’ has multiple folders that have been downloaded in 2022 so I am working through organising them at the moment. Sorting a lifetime of photos is not a job for the faint-hearted so I try to break it into small blocks.

Keeping track of my ‘Contacts’ is another work in progress. I need to tidy and update them where necessary and check that the same information is on both my phone and the computer. Although it is not a digital issue, I do also have a physical hard-copy address book which I am not quite ready to let go of yet. I will cross-check the information in there with the digital contacts list.

I really think that the key to successful digital decluttering is a regular schedule of maintenance as outlined in in the post I linked above.

Do you have any particular tips to share on this topic. I would love to hear how you manage your digital resources.

Castle on the Move

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I can now reveal part of the reason for some of my extended absences from the blog. We are on the move. Our home of the past 17 years is listed for sale and we are ready to relocate.

Years of gradually decluttering and living simply are now paying off as it has been a relatively easy matter to have the house ready for prospective buyers to inspect.

Long-term readers of the blog will be familiar with glimpses of various sections of the interior of our home. The images below are some of the professional ones used in the listing of the property.

We are hoping the property sells reasonably quickly. Our plans include an interstate relocation so stay tuned for more exciting news.

Meanwhile, the regular posts will continue as we juggle the balance between keeping the house in ‘show home’ condition and continue our day-to-day lives.

A Simple Solution

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Yesterday I was tidying up the top of the shelves in my sewing room. I found a box covered with contact that contained knitting needles. I am not a great knitter but I have reasonable selection of needles. The collection is considerably less than in the past as I rationalised what I had a year or so ago.

I decided that the box was excessive and not the best way to store the needles I had kept. So, I dived into my stash of fabric and found a scrap of corduroy and a suitable salvaged zip. Here is the result of about 30 minutes work.

All packed up and easy to store on the shelves.

Honouring the Handiwork

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I am regularly given pieces of fabric, garments and bed linen to use for upcycling into Boomerang bags and other projects. In recent months I have acquired a large quantity of these items from a local thrift shop. These are pieces that are deemed to be unsuitable for sale for a variety of reasons. The process of diverting them to our group assists in saving these pieces from going to landfill.

We have discovered that simply washing some articles makes them usable again. Thrift shops are not laundry services so it is important that anything you choose to donate is clean.

Some stained and torn articles yield sections of good fabric which we are able to use.

However, there is one group of items we receive that can be a challenge. These are the partly completed craft projects. I have received pieces of embroidery, patchwork pieces and even fabric painting at times. I feel an emotional responsibility to utilise these pieces if at all possible. They represent effort and skill from an unknown maker and deserve to be honoured.

Here are a couple of examples I have recently completed.

A piece of calico with fabric painted flowers has become the front of this bag. It is complemented by plain blue handles and back of the bag.

A contrasting inside pocket completes the bag.

Several small strips of patchwork provided me with another challenge. I joined them in an acceptable pattern before making the rest of the bag in a matching navy fabric from a doona cover. The contrasting handles are a similar fabric to the patchwork and were lurking in my stash from another donation.

I am so glad that I have been able to give these pieces of handiwork an outcome which is so much better than landfill.

A Refresh

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I have not forgotten you even though it has been nearly 4 weeks since my last post.

After a very wet autumn our weather suddenly turned dry and cold as winter officially began here at the beginning of June. It somehow made our planned holiday very appealing. We had 9 days in north Queensland where the daytime temperatures ranged from about 26C up to 32C. It was a great opportunity to thaw out. I am still adding to the posts on my holiday blog but you can pop over here to read all about it.

We came back with renewed enthusiasm to tackle some jobs around the house. It is really a bit like spring-cleaning in winter. GMan has scrubbed all of the skirting boards, architraves and doors in the lounge/dining area and the office/library.

A bit of decluttering and rearranging of furniture ensued. One thing certainly leads to another.

Bookshelf from the lounge to the office.

Sideboard from the front lobby to the lounge.

A ‘new’ glass fronted cabinet for the lobby. I picked this bargain up on Marketplace.

Scrubbing was not enough for the front lobby so it received a fresh coat of paint.

There is more painting and rearranging in progress. More photos to come.

Safely Salvaged

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I seem to have been gripped by a level of inertia which has been difficult to shake. I suppose you could call it writer’s block. I have plenty of material for blog posts but have simply not had the will or focus to actually write and publish them. Part of the problem has been the heavy focus on our upcoming federal government elections on Saturday. The other has been the weather. The rain was relentless for several days and even when it was not raining the humidity was 100%. Today was a little better but a return of the heavy rain is forecast for the next 3 days with a high likelihood of greater than 100mm (4 inches) over the weekend.

Anyway, enough of excuses and back to the title.

Today I want to address textile waste – garments, household linens and unused fabric.

As with anything, the best actions we can take to minimise waste are:

  1. Buy only what we actually need.
  2. Buy secondhand where possible.
  3. Take care of what we have to increase its longevity.
  4. Repair or upcycle if applicable.
  5. Ensure it is disposed of or recycled responsibly at the end of its useful life.

Most of us at some time have donated to or shopped at op shops but do you have any idea of what happens with the donations before they make it into the shop for sale?

Donations are received, sorted, priced and made available for sale. Many op shops are overwhelmed by donations and sadly, a portion of what is donated ends up as landfill. Donated items may be unsuitable, dangerous, damaged, soiled or otherwise unacceptable.

I routinely receive donated textiles which are otherwise destined for landfill and our local Boomerang Bags group are often able to use some of the fabric for making reusable bags.

However, sometimes I am surprised by some of what I receive. Remember, op shops do not provide a laundry service so it is make sure that your donations are in a state which is saleable. It is even a good idea to fold garments so that the volunteers can easily identify them as clean and cared-for clothing.

Today I soaked and laundered these three dresses which were in the last bundle saved from landfill. I can only only surmise that at least 2 of them had been deemed unacceptable due to the fact that they had not been laundered prior to donation.

They are all natural fibres (cotton and linen) and in good condition.

I have now sold 2 of them and the funds received have been donated to our local Waste Action group.

We should all do everything we can to ensure that we minimise what ends up in landfill.

Storage Solutions

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In the eleven years that I have been writing this blog I have intermittently made attempts to organise my photos. Little by little I make some progress. I recently uploaded the entire collection to the cloud but this post is not strictly about the photos.

While I was sorting through them I found random photos I have taken of different storage solutions that work for me. Here is a selection.

Rolls of wrapping paper in a repurposed shoebox.

In the cupboard in the spare room. Various bags sorted into categories for reuse. A beautiful old tin which is full of buttons (also sorted and bagged). A plastic tub of all our CDs. They have all been ripped and saved on the computer but we can’t quite bring ourselves to get rid of them.

Folded teatowels in a repurposed timber box which lives in the linen cupboard.

The plastics drawer with containers stacked in piles. This needs maintaining regularly.

The cupboard in the office is constantly evolving.

Storage is not an alternative to decluttering but it does help to be able to maintain a level of organisation. However, I do not advocate rushing out to buy specific matching containers. As these photos show it is possible to utilise various containers that you probably already have available.

Ongoing Maintenance

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Even though most areas of my home are decluttered, I find that regular maintenance is both useful and necessary.

These shelves in my laundry cupboard had got a bit out of hand recently so it was time to pull everything out.

I wiped the shelves down, sorted out the contents and removed a few things before replacing the remainder. It is also a good reminder to check what is actually stashed away at the back.

There were a couple of old calico carry bags that were stained irreparably so they will go in the compost and a bottle of bleach which GMan uses for cleaning/sterilising home brew bottles will be relocated to the cupboards downstairs with the rest of the home brew equipment.