1,000 things – lessons learnt so far

– Setting yourself targets is really helpful. Sometimes when I was overwhelmed by the task in hand, I would break it down into smaller chunks such as ‘today I am going to get rid of ten things’ or ‘I am going to the charity shop on saturday, so I need to find 50 things to take with me’.

– It’s changed my attitude to buying things. Although I didn’t set myself a ‘one in, one out rule’, it seemed pointless to buy new things when I was working hard to get rid of what I already had. I sold a few dresses on Ebay and whilst browsing the listings for what things were worth, was very tempted to buy new ones. However, the irony of this was not lost on me, so I refrained from buying anything else despite the balance in my Paypal account calling me!

– Letting things go made me happy. We are all familiar with the post retail buzz after we have made a successful purchase. This buzz is often short lived, but I was pleasantly surprised to realise that I got a similar high when I was purging stuff. The buzz was longer lived and every time I opened a newly cleared cupboard or room, it reaffirmed that getting rid of my things was making me happy. Often I was more happy getting rid of an item than I remembered being happy when I originally bought it.

– Looking after things takes up time and money. This may seem obvious but I never realised how much time and effort I spent looking after and maintaining the stuff I had. With less stuff lying around, it’s easier to tidy the house at the end of each day. As I sort out what I actually want and need in my house, it’s easier to have specific allocated places for things, than trying to find somewhere for a surplus item. On the flip side, it’s also easier to find stuff as and when I need it, reducing the likelihood of me buying a duplicate.

– Fancy storage solutions are not the answer. In reality, you don’t need another storage solution, you just need less stuff!

– Things don’t hold their value. I trained as an Accountant when I first left Uni and so concepts such as depreciation and amortisation (where assets lose and gain value) is very familiar to me. However, when I was selling my items I was constantly confronted how items weren’t worth as much as what I paid for them. In many instances, the items I was selling had barely been used, but even so were worth a fraction of the price.
People buy the weirdest things. On the flip side, I was surprised at what people would pay for things I would otherwise have thrown away without a second thought. I got into the habit of checking on Ebay before I decided to donate something to charity. Empty boxes for old mobile phones were worth a tenner – I was just going to throw them away!

Giving items a new lease of life – the upsides of decluttering

One of my main focuses for decluttering has been my wardrobe and last week I took a second pass at clearing out some more items. Those of you who have been following my C1000T project know that I cleared out around 100 items so far with some being sold and the rest donated to charity.
However, as summer starts to fade and I have a new job on the horizon, it’s time to reassess what I really want to keep and what can find a new home elsewhere. If I haven’t worn a summer outfit this year, I am unlikely to next year, so these were all removed from my wardrobe.
I separated out a bunch of clothes which I currently wear for work. I selected around 20 outfits which are fine for my job now but won’t be suitable for the new job I start at the end of September. I have put those in a separate section of my wardrobe and am making a conscious effort to wear these for the weeks I have left at work. I am looking forward to my final day when these can also be passed onto charity/recycling in a symbolic gesture of out with the old and in with the new.
Since my last decluttering session I have tried a new technique to assess what I really wear on a day to day basis. Everytime I put something back in the wardrobe, I place it on the right hand side. Over the months you can see which items work their way to the left side, meaning they are largely unworn. So, with a critical eye, I tackled those items which had been unworn for the last couple of months and got rid of another swathe of dresses. It helped me realise that I spend most of my time in office wear and work out gear and therefore helped me shape what I really needed to keep and what doesn’t really fit with the reality of my day to day life. Often when I buy clothes, I have a scenario of when I may wear an outfit (lunch with friends, a killer night out, pottering around a French antique market) and much of the purchasing decision is based on this emotion. However, the reality of my life doesn’t always match up to that romance (particularly not the French antique market!) and this process has helped me realise I need to buy clothes that match up to what I actually do, not what I think I would like to do.
Using this wake up call helped me streamline my wardrobe with 27 items being added to the charity pile and a further 20 earmarked for when I finish work. However, I was left with one issue, the massive pile of clothes that I now had to take to charity. It was so big that it was an off putting task! I wasn’t sure how to transport it and left it a couple of days to see what could be done with it.
As luck would have it, three friends visited over that period who I mentioned this clothes mountain to. All three had reasons to need new outfits (a wedding, weight loss and an amazing ability to upcycle!) so were more than happy to rummage through the pile and take what they wanted. I was able to find good homes for the items, save them money and see the direct benefit of passing things on. So, the stuff that was an issue to me is a positive to them, showing how the universe can work its magic.

Do you ever pass your clothes on to friends and family? Have you ever attended a clothes swishing event?

Taking time to celebrate the small things . . . GBBO

Last week saw the start of the Great British Bake Off. I know that many of my friends enjoy the show as much as I do, so decided to hold a little screening party with some of the Scone Roses ladies. I know it’s a tv highlight of the week for me and I wanted to mark it’s return in style.

It was a really enjoyable way to watch the programme, as we ate homemade cake, drank copious amounts of tea and shared our thoughts on the contestants.

Usually I watch the programme on my own or with my husband, who has limited baking experience (apart from eating it of course!), so it was good to share it with people who had their own opinions on baking and what people were attempting to do.

We enjoyed it so much that we have decided to make it a regular occurrence and are getting together tonight to watch the second episode.

How did you mark the return of the GBBO? Does this inspire you to celebrate the small things?

cake

My first completed hackathon!

So July was the month when I set out to use up the stock of food in my cupboards and freezer. A month on, I am really pleased with how my first hackathon went.
Firstly, it’s amazing how many meals I was able to create from my existing stock of food. Secondly, it’s amazing how much food I have still have! This hackathon and my wider project of C1000T has made me re-evaluate my attitude to storing things.
As a child of parents born in the 40’s and 50’s I seem to have inherited a slight fear of ‘running’ out of things, and specifically food. Despite my freezer and cupboards being relatively full of food, I find myself at the supermarket a couple of times a week, although this has been significantly less over the last month.
So, I am extending the hackathon focus for a few more weeks. I have also decided to have a really good clear out of my food cupboards. Any tins, bottles or jars of food which I think we are unlikely to use but are in date will be passed to the local Foodbank. Anything else will need to be used creatively.
However, this hackathon has still been a success in living more consciously. My food bills are down, I haven’t bought as much and I haven’t felt deprived or bored by the meals I have been eating. Much of my shopping has been done out of habit on autopilot over the last few years. There have been several times over the last month when I have thought ‘I’ll just pop to the shops and get bananas for my morning smoothie’. However, a second voice now appears saying ‘but you could use some frozen fruit’ instead. This little shift in my thinking is becoming more frequent, which is why I would like to make

A week of extremes

This week I attended two events at opposite the ends of the emotional spectrum. One was the wedding of my sister and the second the funeral of my first love.
Both days reminded me of the things that are important in life, that of friends and family, celebrating the good times and the need for support during the bad times. Weddings fill you with the optimism of the future and joy of true love. Weddings represent the beginning of a new chapter and the feeling of infinite time and possibilities.
Funerals, and particularly this funeral, served to remind me of the brevity of life and how the decisions you make, even the insignificant ones, shape your being and future. Your whole life is distilled into a few short paragraphs of biography. I hope that my funeral, like this one did, is able to convey my personality in a way that those around me can recognise.
Funerals raise a lot of questions about things you could have said or done differently, or how your actions impact on others. They serve to prompt questions about how short and precious life can be. They heighten the realisation that you have responsibility and control over how you live you daily life but there are often forces outside of your control that ultimately dictate the bigger moments in your life.
When I started my project to live more consciously, I wasn’t entirely sure about what that meant or how it may manifest itself. Now I am eighteen months in, these events have made me realised that I have achieved some steps to designing the life that I want and am proud of, but there is still further work to do.
I wonder what I would like my obituary to say? What do I need to achieve it?

Another week, another clutter milestone

This week saw me pass the half-way point in my C100T challenge. And it feels good!
This week also saw me realise some of the impact of the project in different ways. Firstly, some rooms in my house are noticeably less cluttered and closer to being functional spaces. As I clear items, space emerges and it appears to breathe new life into rooms as I can see their possibility unfurling.
For a few years, the ‘study’ (I use the term in the loosest possible sense!) and garage have been dumping grounds. The garage has been acting as a collection point for items that we no longer need or value, as well as the usual collection of garden and DIY tools. It has been easy to leave something in there, undisturbed on a daily basis rather than make a definitive decision on its future. As a result, we had accumulated a significant amount of items that we no longer used but felt that they were ‘too good’ to get rid of.
As this project develops, my mind-set on this is shifting. If something has little use or value to me, but could be used or enjoyed by someone else, there seems to be a more compelling argument to move that item out of my house and allow it to be beneficial to someone else.
From the outset, I set the purpose of the project was to get rid of things, not to make money. Throughout the project, I had collected four boxes of stuff (stored in the garage!) that I had earmarked for a car boot sale. However, the idea of getting up early to sell these items for a couple of pound each had deterred me from actually getting rid of them.
In reality, I didn’t want to do a car boot sale so decided to take this collection of crockery, cake stands, ornaments and decorations to charity and made a step change in my thinking. Instead of waiting for the ‘perfect’ opportunity, take the opportunity that you have in front of you.
I also realised that sometimes you have to be honest with yourself about what you are prepared to do and what will lead to procrastination and a failure to achieve your goals.
By freeing up some more space in the garage, it started to become a useable space again. As you know, any money generated from the project is going towards my garden makeover. This week, some garden furniture arrived for my courtyard, and as there was space in the garage, I was able to store it in there, until the courtyard is finished.
This made me realise how much easier life can be when the space in your house works for you, instead of against you. I didn’t have to worry about building the furniture right way or how to store the furniture against random rain showers. The space had made my life easier, and once you realise that, the quest for more space becomes a little addictive.
Another major project I tackled this week was the study. This room in reality is a storage room a mixture of shoes, outdoor clothing, paperwork and craft materials. Up until now, if I don’t know where to store something, it has gone to the study. As such, the eclectic mix of items means it is a little overwhelming to tackle.
So I decided to start with my craft materials stash. I have collected a huge assortment of fabric, wool buttons and other craft paraphernalia over the years. I am forever being inspired by new projects and things I see in charity shops, but have never had the time to actually make them. So, with this in mind I ruthlessly went through the stash. I got rid of 47 items of fabric, donated to the woman who runs this lovely blog (maybe you will see some of my donations on here soon!). She poured through the box of donations and seem generally thrilled with the possibilities for her and her four girls of fun things to make and do together. This was the first time I had donated directly to someone and her positivity made me feel so happy. Up until this point, I had been donating to charity or selling through eBay, which means that I don’t get to see the impact of the things I am donating. To be honest, I hadn’t really considered what the impact would be for the new owners of items and it was lovely to witness a new lease of life being given to items that were obsolete in my life.
Both the study and garage have more work needed before they are fully decluttered and so they remain the focus over the next couple of weeks. I am giving myself the target of getting rid of 10 things a day from each of these rooms in an attempt to make a big impact in a small space of time.
So this week I got rid of;
• 55 items to charity, mainly crockery, glassware and ornaments
• 47 items of craft stuff to a friend
• 2 items sold on eBay
• 30 items in the bin (recycling where appropriate)
My totals are now;
• 69 items donated to friends
• 99 items donated to charity
• 138 items sold via eBay or other means
• 215 items passed to recycling or thrown out

Clear a thousand things – a paper themed weekend

Candyfit

Time is flying by as it often does in the summer. The lovely weekends and sunny evenings are a pleasant distraction from the daily grind but I also find that there is such a hive of social activity that weeks can pass without me forging ahead with this project.

This weekend, was however a little different. Due to a late night cartwheeling incident, I found myself sofa ridden as I had to literally keep my feet up. At first I was frustrated by my lack of mobility as I am usually busy all weekend with errands, chores and socialising. Then, I decided to use my enforced encampment to tackle a good chunk of this project.

For those of you who read the blog regularly, you know that cooking and particularly baking, are a passion of mine. As part of this project, I decided to cull some of my cookbooks. Before I went…

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Hackathon my life . . .using up what we already have

It’s taken me a little time to decide what my next hackathon should focus on. I have been steadily chipping away at my project to clear a thousand things and aim to have this finished by the end of the summer. As that is a longer term project, I wanted to pick a project every 30 days to try out the hackathon approach and see what differences I can make.

Slightly by default, I ended up focussing on eating up what we had in the cupboards and freezer. My husband is working away during the week at the moment, which means that I can have some slightly random meals without impacting any else’s tastebuds!

Having said that, I have been pleasantly surprised by some of the meals I have been able to create from stuff already in my pantry and freezer. As I am learning with these projects, if you apply some thought and creativity you can achieve a goal and maintain (or even improve your quality of life).

Using some white bread flour, I created a basic pizza dough (I always use Jamie Oliver’s recipe, it’s very easy to follow and you can have fresh pizza in under 30 mins) and used it to make pizza one night. I topped it with things I had in my fridge (mozzarella, chorizo and mushrooms) and some strained tinned tomatoes. I only used a quarter of the dough in the pizza and during the week I made another pizza, some flatbreads and some garlic bread to form the basis of meals throughout the week.

I also baked a banana and walnut cake and topped it with a cream cheese frosting. I adapted my favourite banana loaf recipe to add the walnuts as I didn’t have the usual marzipan. The cream cheese frosting is based on a hummingbird bakery recipe but I didn’t have enough icing sugar. Usually I would have made a trip to the local shops to pick some up, but in the spirit of the hackathon, I used what I had and made do. The icing was a little runnier than usual but still really yummy! I also made a childhood favourite of macaroni cheese, which was great to take to work and a reminder that some of the most traditional recipes are the best.

My shopping bill has quartered since I started the project. I am eating home made food for every meal and am clearing through the food I have amassed. We haven’t had a take away since we started and my aim is to carry on with this until the freezer is empty.

Before this hackathon, meal planning was loose and largely focussed on what I ‘fancied’. Our weekly shop could often be in excess of £100 for two of us and we would generally eat out at least once a week. This project is reminding me that a more organised approach can take some of the ad hoc nature out of the way in which I shop and eat. Living life by design and intention, instead of taking a reactive approach is something you can apply to every area of your life.
banana

macaroni

pizza 2

pizza

1,000 things, a month in

It has been a month since I started my challenge to clear 1,000 things from my home and the progress so far has been steady. Over the last month, 247 things have left the house meaning I am a quarter of the way until my target.

Some of these have been big items such as a rockery in my garden and a compost bin. Every time I walk into the garden, there is a sense of freedom from the items that have cluttered up the garden for years.

For a while we have been considering replacing our small lawn with artificial grass and the simple act of clearing these two items has given us the impetus to get this work done. This has an additional benefit of me being able to get rid of the lawnmower and strimmer as we will no longer have a lawn to maintain.

Clearing the clutter in the garden has led to us being able to have a much lower maintenance space to enjoy whenever the sun decides to shine, rather than having to spend time cutting the grass before we can relax in the garden.

Both the compost bin and the rockery were found new homes via Facebook. I have been surprised at how successful this has been to move items on and it’s nice knowing that friends are making good use of items that were superfluous to us.

Other big departures were 75 dvds which were sent to Music Magpie. These netted me £50 to add to the home renovation pot (which will fund the lawn replacement in the first instance). I also sold a few more items of clothing on ebay and passed two pairs of curtains onto charity.

Although the clutter is starting to clear, I have done this in a fairly scatter gun approach taking items from all over the house. Whilst, I can see the benefit of their departure, it also means that no one area looks fully decluttered. So for the next month, this is going to be my focus to ensure that two zones within my house are fully decluttered and act as good motivation to keep going with the rest of the house.

I have decided to focus on our spare bedroom which we use as our dressing room. Although I have got rid of 30 items of clothing to ebay and charity, this room can be a dumping ground. I am hoping that by employing the ‘hackathon’ approach it will provide me with the reward and motivation to tackle more difficult areas of the house.

The second area I am going to attack is the cupboard under the stairs. This cupboard has a coffee table and display unit in it that we stored after our lounge was redone last year. By freeing this space up, it will give us storage for those items we do want to keep and mean that we have a place to put things as we declutter the other areas.

That’s my focus for the next month and I hope to get rid of another 250 items. What’s your goal for the next month? What big things do you want to tackle?