Decluttering The Stuff Challenge – 100 Items

declutter pile

I’ve joined John and Barb’s challenge over at Decluttering the Stuff to get rid of 100 things by 1st May.

My method of decluttering and minimising items has always been the same: I approach one particular area and go through every item. This has been a different experience for me as I knew there wasn’t an area in the entire house that could give up 100 things, so I had to approach it differently. For the first time, I looked everywhere and gathered as I went, checking in every cupboard and drawer.

Here’s what went:

4 toys/games
6 soft teddies
1 plastic plate
18 items of clothing (daughter)
27 items of clothing (sons)
3 plastic beads
3 bottles of toiletries
2 books
1 toothbrush
6 placemats
2 aprons
1 Tupperware pot
1 ramekin
1 pack of incense sticks
1 bottle opener
1 electricity monitor
1 teatowel
6 bibs
13 bits of paperwork
1 magazine
1 pack of bookrings
1 pack of bulldog clips
1 old pillow

TOTAL: 102 items

I had also stashed away a huge pile of other stuff that I’ve been adding to for the last four months, so I thought today would be a good time to sort that out also:

declutter pile

After recycling the card and plastic, and throwing away a couple of things that couldn’t be recycled, I was left with 3 bags of books, 2 bags of textile recycling and 3 bags of toys/DVDs and other bits for the charity shop. Forgive my dirty floor – we are having the muddiest weather here at the moment:

declutter pile

Great challenge, and it got me to actually get rid of everything instead of setting it aside to get rid of and leaving it for another day.

Is anyone else decluttering or spring cleaning?

From Three Phones to One

One phone is enough
My phone with a new screen, yay!

I know that having three phones is not very efficient, or minimalist. Bear with me, here’s why:

  1. Phone One: an iPhone 5s, was my normal phone, but the screen got cracked and the battery life wasn’t great, so Steve gave me his old iPhone 5s to use. I really loved my old phone because it was white and gold and it was mine.¬†However, it was quicker and cheaper and easier to just use Steve’s, so that’s what I did. This phone is not usually charged and has been on the shelf for the last few months.
  2. Phone Two: Steve’s old iPhone 5s. This is my everyday phone.
  3. Phone Three: an even older iPhone (4s), which I use for business calls. I hardly ever make business calls, but when I started freelancing I wanted a separate business line so I could keep work and home separate, so I dug out my old phone and got a PAYG SIM for it. However, it turned out that I primarily used email for work. I use the business line so little it wouldn’t really have mattered if I’d just used my normal number. Not only that, but mobile reception at our house is terrible, so I tend to use the landline for almost all calls anyway.

It was getting super annoying constantly having to charge two phones (plus – a waste of electricity). The boys had clocked that there were two devices with Angry Birds and other apps on that they liked to play so they were constantly pestering me to use them. I also kept thinking that if we ever got burgled the perpetrators would be so pleased about an iPhone haul, even if they are really out of date, so I decided to sort the whole mess out.

Multiple iPhones
Phones all over the house, constantly being charged up

Phone Three

To lose the business phone I firstly had to log on to all the directories and online locations that my business is listed under and update the phone number. I actually took this opportunity to delete as many directory listings as I could because I’ve never had a single business referral from directories like Scoot or Yell and they are super time consuming to update. Hurrah for simplifying that little area of my business also ūüôā

Next I moved the work contacts in that phone over to my normal phone. Finally, I had ¬£1.11 credit left on my SIM. I wondered who I could call, but the call quality is always terrible, so instead I thought I could donate it to charity via text. However when I tried to send a text donation to a charity, I received no confirmation and my balance went down by a random 13p to 98p. A bit annoying really. So I just threw the SIM card in the bin. Sometimes when you’re clearing things out, you just have to write things off. The phone itself I traded in for ¬£18 via Carphone Warehouse ūüôā

Phone One

On to the next phone. In order to return Steve’s phone (Phone Two) I needed to get my original phone fixed. I found a local place that did a screen repair with a 1 year guarantee for ¬£49.99. With the traded in money that meant a new screen would cost me ¬£31.99, which was pretty good.

When I took it in it turned out that my battery was also expanding inside the phone (and may have been the reason for the cracked screen, which just mysteriously happened without me noticing), so I paid an extra £20 for that to be replaced also. Total cost including the trade in of Phone Three was therefore £51.99.

It took them 60 minutes to do the repair, with a 12 month guarantee on screen and battery. I was so pleased to have my phone back!

Phone Two

Now my old phone was up and running, I had to backup everything and get it across to my new (old) phone. This was easy as I have everything in iCloud, so I just ran a backup on Phone Two, and then did a complete reset and set-up from backup on Phone One. Within about 15 minutes my original iPhone was all up to date. That meant I could wipe Steve’s phone and finally return it to him.

Hurrah!

It’s funny how little things like this can sap your mental energy when they are lying around the house. In my mind they seem to represent unfinished jobs and disorganisation.

Now I have one phone, and one charger, and hopefully that will last me for a good while.

Cupboard Sort Out – Before and After

 

It’s been a while since I’ve done a decent job in sorting, decluttering and tidying. The whole house is starting to feel a bit neglected, and messy.

This Sunday afternoon, with the school holidays just two weeks away (and more mess and chaos imminent), I decided to do a quick clear out of the left side of the upstairs cupboard. I realise that to some my cupboard will already look pretty tidy. It has been a long journey to get here and we are still downsizing and learning to live without so much excess. However, we have already let go of so much (and feel so much lighter for it), that it may look as though we have no need to sort through again.

What I will say though is:

a) things have a habit of accumulating when you are looking the other way,
b) it is good to regularly question the value of things you don’t touch from year to year, and
c) there is never really an ‘end’ to living a more minimalist lifestyle.

Needs and wants change with the seasons and years, and the ebb and flow of our possessions reflects this. But if it is all arrival and never departure then gradually your life becomes fossilised as layers and layers of stuff that (let’s be honest), are going to be someone else’s job to sort through when you die.

So, out of the cupboard today came:

  • Sony laptop box – to sell with the laptop as I have a desktop and really don’t need both.
  • Large baby floor blanket – donate
  • Spare cushion – replaced the old one downstairs
  • Picture that C painted when he was 4 that I love. I put it in the frame properly, not perfect (perfectionism is something I’m trying to overcome), but just got it done, then hung it on the wall. C loved having his picture put on display (and it was a 2 year-old job off the list).
C’s picture, kept in a frame to protect it for two years but never finished off. Until now!
  • Portraits of my mum, and several old relatives from my Dad’s side. Put up the ones of my mum, Emanuel (my great great grandfather), and Amelia (my great grandmother). Stored two others behind these in the frame.
Portraits in the cupboard. It’s unfinished projects like this that create mental clutter.
  • Baby carrier – to sell
  • 4 moses basket sheets – donate (Now, ¬†some things are harder to say goodbye to than others. They brought back such memories… but, I’d rather they were used for a lovely new baby than being left in a cupboard gathering dust, so off they went after some sentimental brushing against my cheek).
  • Baby blanket, bought for us when I had my first son and used for all three but still in very good condition – donate
  • Two horrible, old, spare, white pillowcases – recycle
  • 4 out of 6 plastic-backed cot sheets. They are spares on top of the four normal ones in the event of serious vomiting episodes. Decided I only needed 2 – donate 4
  • 2 out of 4 spare cot sheets. Decided 2 was fine (I have four others I use regularly) – donate 2
  • 2 out of 4 moses basket blankets. Useful for cool nights and car trips – donate 2
  • 4 out of 10 muslin cloths. I donated around 40 of these last year, but have used only a couple on a couple of occasions since – donate 5, recycle 1 stained.
The pictures were framed and went up, with some slightly dodgy ladder-on-the-stairs DIY. The photo wall is coming along nicely. I’ve got some smaller frames to go in the central vertical gap, but that’s for another day.

Into the cupboard went:

  • The storage box for a fan we are currently using (crazy hot weather). Most of the year the fan goes in the box and the box goes in the loft.

And there we have it. Probably a couple of hours work in between doing everything with the children at home, but SO nice when finished. I then refolded the remaining linen, just because it looks nice ?

19 Weeks and General Update

I am a really erratic blogger at the moment, for which I apologise. I tend to get sucked into projects 110% and then neglect everything else. The last couple of weeks it has been clearing out our bedroom. It was a great job – by the time I’d finished, the husband was inspired and then he chucked out several bags of stuff as well, so our bedroom is really pared down and only has the absolute essentials in it. All my clothes are sorted out, reorganised, mended and ironed, including all my gym stuff (I didn’t iron the gym stuff), I’ve got some new sports bras (that actually fit), sorted out all my jewellery, put several ¬†pieces in for valuation and cleaning (a job I’ve been meaning to do for about 4 years), and cleaned out all my beauty bits and bobs.¬†I’ve ordered some new duvet sets (ours are over 7 years old – yuk) and a fairly cheap, but neutral set of curtains to replace the horrible old brown things we’ve had up since we moved in. I’ve chucked out loads and it feels GREAT.

All I need to do is get a door hung on the cupboard we built and¬†finally hang some photos and our bedroom is finished! It’s only taken 7 years. I’ll post some before and after pics when we finally get there.

19 weeks pregnant today. Woo hoo! My weight gain this week was a whopping 600g, so I’m really piling it on at the moment. I can now feel the baby move every day, usually several times a day, and as with the boys, he or she is most active in the evening and after I eat meals. It’s a wonderful reassuring feeling. Not quite ready to ebay the doppler yet though.

My skin is still not good, but I think I have discovered what it actually is. I originally thought it was acne, but it wasn’t like spots I’ve had in the past. All of them were really small and my skin is just really red and flakey in patches. When my Mum came over and asked’ “What IS that?” I suddenly wondered if I hadn’t realised it was something other than plain old acne.

I asked Dr Google, and found my solution, and I’m 99% sure I have what’s called perioral dermatitis. To save you having to google it, perioral dermatitis looks like this:

Unknown Unknown-1

It’s quite distinct in that it appears over the chin and at the sides of the nose. It doesn’t itch, or burn, and is a combination of skin flaking and small pustules (ugh).

Here’s one of my worst pics (I can’t even believe I’m showing you this, so it’s a small version):

P1040427

It’s almost exactly the same pattern, and the description fits completely.

Causes? Most often it’s caused by a steroid cream applied topically, but I’ve also found out it can be caused from oral steroid withdrawal. And guess when it started? When I stopped my¬†prednisolone at 11 weeks pregnant.

Aaaargh. I wish I’d realised sooner.

Treatment options?

Apparently the only thing that clears it is antibiotics – usually a 6 week oral course.

I am obviously not going to do that, being pregnant and highly phobic of taking drugs anyway. Not only that, but I just know that if I take 6 weeks of antibiotics I’ll end up with a yeast infection that I won’t shift for the rest of my pregnancy. Yeah, fun. Right?

So… natural options. I did a lot of reading and research, and since antibiotics seem to work in almost all cases, I figured this is a systemic bacterial problem. Now, cutting out sugar will help starve bad bacteria in your body, but I tried that and it only made a small difference. So… I either need to do it LONG TERM (not easy for me at the moment), or I need another approach.

I’ve ordered the highest strength probiotics I can take while pregnant, along with a fructo-oligosaccharide supplement (it’s the plant fibre that feeds good bacteria in your gut), some pure powder form vitamin C (which I can take in small doses several times a day as it is excreted almost immediately from your body if you don’t use it), some sauerkraut, and some raw, enzymatically active honey.

Phew! The theory is that I’ll boost all the good bacteria in my gut (with the probio, plant fibre, and sauerkraut), kill off some of the bad stuff (with the vitamin C) and use the honey on my face topically.

For PD (as it’s affectionately known), almost every standard cream and cleanser will aggravate the condition (which I discovered with a vengeance when I tried to use some anti-spot moisturiser¬†a few weeks back), and exfoliation is totally out of the question, despite the horrible way the skin flakes off, so I’m going with a natural anti-bacterial. Raw honey.

Finally, while I wait for my PD treatment case to arrive, I’m trying some 1% anti-fungal cream, as that has worked quite well for a lot of people. I’m on day 2 and to be honest I don’t think it’s made an iota of difference, but I’ll persevere.

I actually feel a sense of relief that I know what it is – and I can deal with the “dermatitis” label psychologically. It’s easier for me to accept and it somehow makes me feel less self-conscious.

Finally, EXERCISE.

I know I need to be doing more some. I have really struggled with this and¬†I think I don’t have the right mindset. I’ve spent some time trying to work out what’s going on, why I can’t commit to a routine, and I think it’s because I am really stressed about the spare room not being clear and all the stuff I want to sort out before the baby arrives.

So, I’ve decided to stop beating myself up about not exercising, to focus on emptying the spare room and I’ve promised myself I will start a full-on committed pregnancy exercise regime once that’s done.

I’ll keep you updated ūüôā

Putting Things In Order

recycling

It’s a long chain of events, but to clear out the spare room I need to make space in the filing cabinet downstairs. This dusty old heap of metal hasn’t been touched in years, so I knew it would be a big job.

The photo above shows what I have collected for recycling so far. It feels like a lifetime of paperwork.

But, importantly, it’s also helped me put some things in order.

I’ve cleared out my massive medical file, and divided it up into separate categories. Now I have a normal sized medical file, three pregnancy files and a “Medical – RPL” file. I wanted to keep healthy pregnancy records away from RPL records.

I’ve extracted all my scans, notes, hospital admission and discharge info, testing results and more, and collected it together in one place, in date order. I cried over some of it. I miss, miss, miss the baby boy that I lost last year. For some reason, even though that miscarriage was not as physically traumatic as the other late first trimester one I had, I have a lot more grief surrounding it. I found a scan photo in an envelope that the hospital gave me before my admission for surgical management (the one that never happened), and I didn’t even know I had it. My tiny baby boy – I love him so much!

I also sorted through all the notes for this pregnancy, and do you know what I noticed? I got the first, faint, positive pregnancy test for this pregnancy exactly 1 year and 1 day after the scan¬†that told me my baby boy’s heart had suddenly stopped. I missed my period this year on the very day that I spontaneously miscarried my baby last year. It’s just so strange, the passing of time.

I feel so sad today that he left us, and so guilty about it because I have a new baby to focus on (I think I felt the first tiny kick late last night). The joy and loss are jostling around together inside and it’s a strange thing. One doesn’t replace the other.

On a less emotional front, I also recycled all of my old work papers from the job I left two years ago. I had a lot of internal conflict over leaving a well-paid job to be “just” a housewife, but I think I’m past that now. I don’t need to hold on to all those payslips to prove I was worth something once.

So there we go. A day of growth, and a day of grieving. But most of all, a day of finding some closure and moving forward. Of putting my affairs in order and embracing the future.

That’s the problem with this whole decluttering lark. It’s a lot tougher than you ever expect it to be.

%d bloggers like this: