About this blog

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Wales, United Kingdom
In autumn 2010, my husband Ian and I both quit our jobs, sold our house and left the flatlands of the east for the mountains of Wales. Our goal is to create a more self-sufficient lifestyle in a place we actually like living. Whilst Ian will continue to earn some money as a freelancer, my part of the project is to reduce how much we spend by growing and making as much of what we need as possible. The purpose of this blog is to keep friends updated with how the grand project is progressing, but all are welcome here. If you're not a friend already, well perhaps you might become one.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

November decluttering challenge

The challenge is to get rid of one thing every day, not just as a way of getting rid of thirty things, but to build a new habit of looking at things and asking, Do I really need that? Getting rid of doesn't necessarily mean that the thing has to leave the house that day, but action must be taken towards that goal. We have some things in the probably valuable to somebody category, which means either selling them or freecycling. Selling is harder, but the money would come in handy. I'm planning to advertise these at the start of the month, then if they don't sell in two weeks, freecycle them. Other things will go straight to freecycle, and I have a shiny new freecycle account ready for action! Other destinations will be box for charity shop and bin though that last one may hurt.

So here we go then. I'll be updating this post throughout the month with details of what I'm getting rid of each day.

Nov 1st. Electric Hob

Rather smart halogen hob. I prefer gas.

This had to be the first one. It was installed in the kitchen of our last house when we moved in, and I quickly had it replaced with a gas hob. That was about four years ago and we've been meaning to sell it ever since. When I fetched it out of the store room I found it wasn't as clean as it might be, so I spent much of the morning polishing it, then Ian took a photo and posted an ad on Preloved.

Nov 2nd. Back issues of New Scientist

Terrible photo of heaps of magazines, but you get the idea.

I've subscribed to this magazine on and off for some years, and have always kept old issues thinking that I'll want to re-read them. I have to face up to the fact that I just don't, and these are clogging up the house. A friend mentioned something she'd read in New Scientist, I asked if she'd like my old copies, and she said yes. Easy!

Nov 3rd. Two bottles of squash

This squash has sweeteners in.

Neither of us like the taste of artificial sweeteners, to the point where we can't really stand drinks with them in. I also have a principled objection - I like my food honest. If it tastes like it's full of calories, it should deliver! Unfortunately these additives are so ubiquitous that we occasionally buy products with them in by mistake. These then sit at the back of the cupboard for ages while we attempt to palm them off on guests. When my friend came to collect the magazines, I remembered that she drinks squash with sweeteners, so gave these to her, which is a much better use for them.

Nov 8th. Books and shoes

I needed to go into town for food shopping so took the opportunity to take some things to charity shops while I was there. That heap of books is the result of a quick book audit. Some of these I've had since childhood and really don't know why I was keeping them, others are books bought more recently, read once and not likely to be read again. Ian contributed some too, making up a total of 35 books (one item or 35, depending on how you're counting). As for the shoes, this was prompted by going to a funeral recently and choosing my dark burgundy boots over my black shoes. If I don't need black shoes for a funeral, what else do I need them for? I used to wear them to work, but as I hardly ever wear them now, they're very uncomfortable when I do. I found a couple of other pair of rarely worn shoes, making up four pairs in various conditions (one item, four or eight, depending...)

Nov 9th. Satellite dishes and extractor fan

We've been meaning to take these off their respective walls since we moved over a year ago. Both are ugly, the extractor really shouldn't be over that type of cooker and we don't even have a telly! In the interests of getting rid of stuff, we finally got round to doing both jobs, and Ian took them to the tip. (Apart from the smaller dish, minus bracket, which I'm keeping for use as a garden sieve, though it's currently being used to dry acorns).

Nov 20th. Old papers and contents of a drawer

These four box files were full of papers relating to old jobs, specifically data from experiments conducted back in the day when I was actively involved in research. There are good reasons to keep old data - many journals require that data should be kept for at least five years after associated reports have been published, in case other scientists want to examine the details. Some of my papers fell into that category, but more than five years have by now elapsed, and in any case I'm no longer in contact with my colleagues, so they wouldn't be able to get hold of the data even if someone asked for it. Other papers were more difficult. These were results of experiments I'd conducted more recently (though still at least four years ago) but never written up and published. Throwing these away means accepting that I'm never going to write up those experiments. If I'm honest, I think some of them weren't very well designed anyway.

If paper's only printed on one side, I put it in the scrap paper drawer for re-use. For this lot, I was going to need a bigger drawer (actually, quite a lot ended up in the recycling bin, too). I chose a suitable drawer in the study, which happened to be filled with an assortment of odds and ends. I am now prepared to reveal to you the entire contents of that drawer, and the destination of each item.

Contents of a drawer, laid out and numbered for your perusal (click to enlarge)
  1. Travel iron, in bag. This is quite useful, at least it used to be in our old life. I've used an iron just once since moving, though my skirt did get compliments from two complete strangers on that occasion, so I think it was worth it. Anyway, I'm not getting rid of the travel iron yet. Destination: In the cupboard with the other iron.
  2. Hot brush. This was useful when I had a job which required respectable hair. I don't any more - this can go. Destination: Umm, could be saleable... maybe freecycle.
  3. Ribbons used in our wedding ceremony (it was a handfasting). I can't get rid of these! On the other hand, what's the point of keeping a bit of ribbon? I'll probably use it for something at some point. Destination: Sewing drawer.
  4. Press studs. Destination: Sewing basket.
  5. Bangles from Bengal. A friend gave me these, but they're too small. Destination: Give them to someone who might be able to wear them.
  6. Garden wire. Useful stuff, that. Destination: Greenhouse.
  7. (Ian said rude things when he saw this picture and refused to let me demonstrate its use) Massage roller. I'd like to keep this, but unless I can persuade Ian to join in, it's not much use. Destination: Umm, I dunno.
  8. Wire with in-line fuse holder, complete with fuse. This is a classic, "But it might be useful!" Deep breath now... Destination: Bin.
  9. Occarina in soft pouch. I bought this at a country fair when I was about eight. I may even have played it a bit at some point. I really should get rid of it, but... I've just found the tune book that goes with it! Destination: Umm...
  10. *Too much information alert* Mooncup. I had to change which type of pills I take several years ago, and haven't had periods since then, so I don't need this at the moment, but I'm hanging onto it in case I need it in the future. Destination: A drawer somewhere.
  11. Hair brush. Useful as spare and future replacement when one wears out. Destination: Bathroom cupboard.
  12. Pretty red cord. Destination: Sewing drawer (though it's just occurred to me that this could be ideal for knooking).
  13. Cloth for cleaning glasses. Destination: I think I stuck this in a drawer.
  14. Strap for mobile phone. It has one of those little clips for attaching it to a key ring. Those can be quite handy if you happen to need one. No, really. Destination: Some drawer somewhere.
  15. Handle and base of shaver (no shaving head). This isn't even mine, so I get out of making a decision on this one.
  16. I can't remember what came in this case, but it currently contains a couple of fabric flowers that I wore to my sister's wedding. I have since given away the dress that they went with. Destination: Bin. I'm keeping the case, though.
  17. Scrunchy. I don't wear these, but I might. Destination: Dressing table drawer.
  18. Toothbrush and tiny tube of toothpaste received on a long-haul flight. I can't remember where the flight was to, or even whether it was me doing the flying. However, a spare toothbrush and paste could be handy. Destination: Bathroom cupboard.
  19. Zip-lock case from same flight. One side is transparent. Useful for taking pens and things into the National Library and other such places where they like to see what you're carrying. Destination: Some drawer or other.
  20. Small plastic containers that once contained gloves for use with hair dye. I have one in my handbag with glucose sweets in it, but haven't managed to find any other uses for these. Destination: Bin.
  21. Plastic pieces of goodness-knows-what. Destination: Bin.
  22. American Express travellers cheques that I received in payment for taking part in some online study. I never got round to finding out how to put dollars in my bank account. This is ridiculous. Destination: Handbag.
  23. Cover for my last-but-one mobile phone. I don't think I used it even when I had the phone. Destination: Bin.
  24. Eye mask from aforementioned flight. Umm...
  25. Brushes for cleaning electric shavers and suchlike. Destination: Bin.
  26. Old receipt for petrol. Destination: Bin.
  27. Keys from my last-but-one house. Many were cut because the old lady who used to live there had a habit of buying them in the garden. These aren't going straight in the bin because we're planning to weigh in some scrap metal at some point soon. Destination: In a bag with old nails.
  28. Small purse, one of two, that came with a belt. I used the other one for keeping change for the car park in my car, until Ian cleared it out. Now if I could find that one it might be useful... Anyway, not throwing this away. Destination: Some drawer or other.
  29. Scented wipes. I say scented... they reek. Still, wipes are often handy when camping. Destination: Sponge bag.
  30. Old hanky that I used to practise some embroidery. This can resume its original function. Destination: Hanky box.
  31. Strip of muslin. Very useful for straining jams and suchlike. Destination: Kitchen cupboard.
  32. Reel of thread. Destination: Sewing basket.
  33. Nasal spray, out of date. Destination: Bin.
  34. Epilator. I don't use this because it gives me a rash (and hurts). We pinched its power supply for something else - electric keyboard, I think. Anyway, who'd want a second hand epilator? Destination: Bin.
  35. Battery from aforementioned mobile phone. The trouble with batteries is they're not very convenient to dispose of. Plenty of shops take them, but it's remembering to pick them up before you go out. We have rather a lot of dead batteries... this one's going to join them.


  1. Good lord, I so need to do this! I think I can manage one thing a day. One thing! I know the month is almost over, but I am going to try to incorporate this into my life, even if it's just getting rid of one of my many piles of paper. Hello, recycling bin!

  2. One month just about takes us to Christmas - how's that for a tidy amount of time? Let me know how you get on :-)


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