A Continuing Tale

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There is no doubt in my mind that decluttering is a long-term and ongoing project. This post from 2017 explains my thoughts in detail.

I have been a bit under the weather for the past few days with a head cold but am definitely much improved today. Since we were in lockdown until 6pm today, I took the opportunity to do a bit of cleaning, tidying and decluttering. I have really just done the bare minimum at home over the last 4 months while my mother was ill and following her death as there were many other more pressing priorities.

As I noted in another old post from 2015:

“Circumstances are constantly evolving as we welcome children into our homes, they grow and then finally leave home.  Later there may be the addition of grandchildren or the death of a spouse.  All of these things require us to adapt what we have and how we use it.  It is easy for the essentials of one phase of our lives to become the clutter of the future so it is wise to review our needs regularly.”

I am not sure of exactly what prompted me to write that 6 years ago but it is certainly relevant to my current situation. Not only have I acquired items that belonged to my mother but I am also reassessing what we really need.

We have been empty-nesters for close to 16 years, however, during that time the lives and needs of our children have become increasingly separate to us. They are now thoroughly independent adults in their mid-late 30s. Even the grandchildren are moving into their teen years.

The impetus for some of my recent decluttering has been multi-faceted.

Acquisition of items from Mum
Items becoming obsolete due to improved organisation
Need to use the available storage as efficiently as possible
Continuing realisation of how much/little I actually need
Desire to give to others who need items
Considering the possibility of relocating sometime in the future

I don’t have many photos for this post but here is one example of what I have achieved recently.

This is a photo of my laundry cupboard back in 2015.

I had one laundry hamper in the cupboard and another mesh foldable one in our bedroom.

About 3 years ago I relocated the vacuum cleaner to the bottom of the linen cupboard and the space on the left-hand side of this photo was home to the portable dehumidifier. This worked reasonably well except I was not overly thrilled with a basket of worn clothes lurking in the corner of our bedroom.

I recently acquired another mesh foldable hamper from my mother’s belongings and this prompted me to reconsider how things were arranged. The dehumidifier was rehomed to a cupboard under the laundry bench and I then put the 2 matching hampers in the tall cupboard. They are now designated as ‘lights’ and ‘darks’ so I can see at a glance when a particular load needs doing.

The cane hamper is now surplus to requirements.

The lid had long since broken and the lining ripped so I had fashioned a removable liner from an old sheet. I really did not think it would be a highly desirable item, however, I listed in on a couple of local Buy, Swap, Sell groups and had several enquiries almost immediately. It is going to be collected tomorrow.

Lockdown – Imposition or Opportunity

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I have previously written about the importance of mindset. This can apply to many situations.

That drawer in the kitchen that many people refer to as the ‘junk drawer’? By calling it, even silently to myself, as the ‘useful drawer’ has helped me to ensure that it holds only useful items. It is not a place for junk and this aids in keeping it tidy and uncluttered.

I don’t ‘get rid of stuff’ either. To get rid of something implies that it is rubbish and merely describing it as ‘stuff’ does not ascribe any inherent value to the item. That is fine if it is a piece of ripped paper but if you are struggling with great-grandma’s tea set it is much more difficult. Try saying to yourself that you are letting go of a beautiful item so that it can bring joy to someone else. You will immediately feel more positive and confident about it going to a new home.

Where I live we are currently being instructed to stay at home for all but necessary outings due to community transmission of cases of Covid-19. I recognise that this is difficult for many people and we all need to be aware of our mental health and that of those around us.

Once again, a little bit of positive self-talk and mindset can go a long way. I hear many people talking about being stuck at home and locked down. I prefer to appreciate the time I have been given with very few demands on my time. It can be an opportunity to begin, continue or even finish some of those multitude of projects which do not always make the cut in our normally full and demanding days.

Although our lockdown began at 6pm yesterday, my restrictions actually started first thing on Monday morning after I had a Covid test as I had woken with a very sore throat. Fortunately, the result was negative but I do have a heavy head cold and really do not feel like doing much.

I am embracing the time and have chosen to sort and cull some of the thousands of digital photos I have on my device as well as making some more Boomerang bags and updating the budget.

Of course, I am using my skills and imagination to create meals making the most of the ingredients we have without any waste. Even though grocery shopping is an acceptable reason for leaving our home, I figure the more I stay home, the more I reduce my risk of coming in contact with Covid-19. Many people have become programmed to simply go shopping every few days. I try to maintain an acceptable level of supplies to sustain us for an extended period of time regardless of the reason.

How do you make the most of the situation in which you find yourself?

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.

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.

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.

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.

Patience Pays Off

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We often think of being patient and/or persistent when it comes to locating a specific item.  It can be trawling secondhand shops or even looking for a vary particular item brand-new.

However, I have discovered that patience and allowing things to take their course can apply in equal measure when trying to sell or give something away.  Somewhere, sometime there will be somebody for whom your treasure will be just perfect.  It is simply a matter of finding them.

A case in point is this dressing table.  We bought it several years ago with a view to restoring it but plans and needs changed and we needed to find a new home for it.

The mirror attaches to the back of the dressing table and the mirror is absolutely stunning – almost a metre in diameter with a beautiful pie crust edge.

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The interior of the cupboards features a central shelf on one side and 4 drawers on the other.

I listed it over 2 months ago on several local Buy, Swap, Sell groups on Facebook.  Despite a few enquiries it failed to be sold.  A couple of weeks ago I decided to try Gumtree and was feeling a bit despondent as there did not seem to be any interest.

Yesterday I received an enquiry about the Gumtree advertisement from people who live in an adjacent locality in our semi-rural area.  They arranged to collect it at 10am this morning.

I held my breath as I cannot remember the countless times that promising sales or giveaways have failed to eventuate.

As arranged the purchasers arrived with a trailer at the appointed time and were absolutely delighted with the dressing table which they plan to put to good use as they fit out their newly-acquired home.

I was really pleased to see this go to a good home and know that it will be appreciated.

In Full View

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Last week I wrote about sorting through the filing cabinet which you can read about here.  The culling continued and we no longer require the 2 drawer filing cabinet as the small number of retained files are now accommodated in the filing drawer of the desk.

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One of the things we located in our cleaning up and decluttering was a poster showing plants which are environmental weeds in our region.  We acquired this some years ago and while it has proved to be a useful reference from time to time, it had remained rolled up in the bottom drawer of the filing cabinet.

The poster was looking a bit the worse for wear but we decided to mount it where it was easily visible and useful as a quick guide.

Using PVA glue, I attached the poster to a piece of plywood.  This was the old backing of the mirror on a recently restored dressing table.  It was not suitable for reusing for the mirror as the plywood had splintered around the nail holes when removed.  However, I had kept it for possible future reuse.  I did not foresee that it would be needed quite so soon.

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I placed weights on top of the poster and left it to dry for 24 hours.  GMan then trimmed the excess plywood off using a jigsaw and we have screwed it to a door in the workshop.

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We have created a quick ready reference in a location where it is likely to be needed and reused material that might otherwise have been discarded.

A close-up view.

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Limits of Sharing

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It is a week since my last post.  I have not been overly busy but my activities have simply not been particularly relevant to share on the blog.  The rhythm of the days have continued with housework done and meals prepared as well as family members visiting for a few days.

We have had some cold days so outdoor activities have not been particularly enticing.

I have been using the some of the time indoors to catch up on some ‘life administration’ tasks.  Today I needed a particular piece of paperwork for an application I was doing but I was unable to locate it easily.  This drove me to go through every piece of paper in the filing cabinet and adjacent folders.  It took me several hours and I found the document I was seeking.  In the meantime, it was the perfect opportunity to review the contents of the filing cabinet.

With the help of GMan, I discarded a significant pile of papers which are no longer relevant or required.

Some have been shredded.

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More shredding to do tomorrow.

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