Taking stock (2 minute read)

We’ve all done it as we’ve followed the floor arrows round Ikea. We’re thinking about Swedish Meatballs and mindlessly grab a bag of Bevara clips (the name is Swedish for ‘preserve’), convinced we only have a few left.

kitchen decluttering

But the niggling thought that they’re made of plastic so will take billions of years to degrade so can’t just disintegrate, stopped me buying more on my last visit.

So when I returned home I did a quick 5-minute declutter of THAT  kitchen drawer which holds all the storage stuff like foil, clingfilm, bags and elastic bands. And yes – there they all were – snuffling around at the bottom with the thousands of white wire ties which we never ever use but my husband insists on keeping.

Yes – one of the many pleasures I get from decluttering is it encourages you to take stock.

If you gather all things of a the same category into one place it’s often surprising what you find. Who knew you actually had:

  • 27 rolls of half used sellotape
  • 8 opened but unfinished bottles of suntan lotion which will be out of date next time the sun reappears
  • A gallon of free shampoo and shower gel in 47 little plastic bottles
  • Enough plasters to cover every inch of skin of my 9 year old daughter

Well, it was almost this bad…

These are often items you buy or squirrel away ‘just in case’ you might run out of – as you’ve lost track of what you actually have.

And once you’ve understood you never need to buy another plastic polly pocket again, and you’ve given all the wandering items a designated place TOGETHER,  the purging can begin…

This is another immensely satisfying path to follow on a decluttering journey which I plan to blog about soon.

What have you found you’ve an abundance of in your home?

Why I do what I do (3 minute read)

Last night BBC Radio Manchester were kind enough to invite me on to their Dead Good Show’s Bad Parents Club, with Simone Riley, to talk about decluttering. All the other guests (Hiya – Billy, Lucy and Louise!) put me at ease with their chat and made the process not half as bad as I was expecting. I just hope I didn’t pass on my flu-like lurgy which reared up during the night.

With my past in national print journalism I’m more comfortable asking the questions rather than being put on the spot so inevitably on the drive back home across the moors I started to unhelpfully think about all the things I’d forgotten to say…

One of the questions I feel I could have provided a better written answer for was something along the lines of how did I get into all this? I remember mentioning being an interiors editor and always being fascinated by how people live but I didn’t share that when I’d go and stay with friends and I was ever left to my own devices I’d rearrange their bathrooms or children’s bedrooms…

This is because I really believe in simplifying and helping people live with less – even if this just means putting toiletries away in a bathroom cupboard so there is less visual clutter round a sink.

bag

I love everything about my job from meeting clients to discuss what they want to achieve (after all everyone has a different threshold so it’s not up to me to dictate what that should be) to restocking and arranging my work bags (is that really sad? Who else used to love packing bags when they were a child too…?)

I was asked if there has been an increase in enquiries since the chatter started about Marie Kondo’s Netflix tidying series.

Well, I think the programme has inspired more people to have a go, with many great success stories being shared on social media but most of the clients I work with are well versed in the theory of decluttering. They’ve read the books and watched the YouTube tutorials but there’s usually some kind of blockage which stops the process. These range from lack of time, energy and focus or simply not knowing where to start. Delayed decisions or not having permission to let something go can also hold people back. Or clients need support in figuring out a practical but simple system for arranging a functional room such as an office or kitchen.

I think people have natural aptitudes towards things and mine is organising. Show me an empty room and hand me a brush and tell me I have cover every surface with paint and I feel overwhelmed, I procrastinate and I never get into the flow or start enjoying it. However present  me a cluttered room and I can’t wait to start reclaiming it and my mind will dart around to figure out which area I’m going to focus on first.

Without sounding New Agey I love reintroducing a new, lighter energy into a space. And once that’s achieved my clients also feel a physical burden lifted from their shoulders. I like to think of it as lovely, warm sigh of relief. It also helps that I take ‘the stuff’ away to be recycled, donated to charity or dropped at the tip rather than it being shifted to another area such as the garage or spare room to fester.

betty cupboard 2

I believe the joy of organising runs in my family as if my wonderful nanna, who lived independently well into her 90s, she was ever short of something to do she’d tidy a cupboard. And this is what my 9 year old daughter does on a rainy Sunday afternoon….

 

 

 

 

 

 

betty cupboard

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s link to show if you want to hear me get progressively croakier…

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/p06yg6dq

Keeping crafting in check (2 minute read)

karen whole room

Crafting can bring immense pleasure to many people but if not kept in check can create feelings of chaos and overwhelm, as well as gobbling up precious storage space.

With this in my mind I had a chat and cuppa with my lovely neighbour Karen Cunningham, who is a keen knitter, crocheter and contemporary cross-stitcher. Whilst living next door – she’s since moved to Devon (which I won’t take personally) – she was lucky enough to have the luxury of her own craft room. You can check out some of her wonderful creations @marthamini on Instagram.

karen animals

Here are her Top Tips on how to manage and maintain a crafting habit.

  • Do have a level of control – so only buy new yarn when you’ve finished a project.
  • Try to keep your work in progress and planned work separate. It’s good to be able to have your work in progress ready to grab if you know you’ll have the opportunity to work on it when you’re out and about.
  • Be realistic about the time you have to undertake future projects. Karen uses the acronym SABLE – which means – Stash Acquisition Beyond Life Expectancy – which put bluntly means will I have time to finish all this before I die?
  • Try to limit your on going projects to two or three – so you can enjoy the satisfaction of actually finishing something. servico karen
  • Be selective about what you buy – there are so many different gadgets but you probably don’t need half of them. If you are tempted borrow one from a friend before purchasing and see if it really does change your life before committing to getting your own.

karen yarn

  • Don’t buy too much wool so find a pattern, then buy the wool – not in the other order. Know your project before you get the equipment which is difficult when there are many so many gorgeous colours, textures and brands now available.
  • Unfollow all the emails for the various wool warehouses who send regular temptation into your Inbox.
  • Try to store patterns digitally by scanning in paper ones but do ask yourself if you are seriously going to undertake the project again.  Or purchase patterns online and keep them your own digital library. Karen also stores them as PDFs on her smart phone so she can access them when out and about. And be ruthless with all the free patterns you get give at shows.
  • Don’t buy too many craft books. Is it worth holding a whole book if you’re only going to undertake a 10th of the projects it contains? Libraries often have great craft books or arrange to swap with friends or within your local knitting or crochet group.

karen jars

  • Charity shops love receiving yarn so be honest with yourself – is it better to have your yarn languishing in a cupboard untouched or used by another crafter who has donated money to charity for the pleasure of using it.
  • Have a digital declutter on Twitter and Instagram of who you’re following – it can get overwhelming.
  • There are thousands of online patterns which show you things to make in order to use up with scrap yarn.