Day 180: Disappointed With the Leg of Lamb and Wrapping Paper Storage Bag… but Loved the Fillet Steak and Homemade Chips

My body clock is all over the place at the moment, not falling asleep until 4am last night and then waking up at 9.30 this morning. I haven’t been exercising much lately so I thought that if I went out for a brisk walk it would energise me and help me sleep better tonight. I also bought a book yesterday called Fast Asleep by Dr Michael Mosley so I’m looking forward to picking up some sleep tips as well as trying some of the 50 sleep promoting recipes included in the book. I probably know a lot of the sleep tips already but I’m just not practicing them.

Dinner drama

After breakfast, I opened the plastic packaging of the leg of lamb ready to slow cook it in the oven for dinner. An awful smell hit me straight away, but didn’t think anything of it at first as I know that meat can sometimes have a feint odour when the packaging has first been opened. It usually goes after a short while though. It was at this point that my husband, who was over the other side of the kitchen, asked what the smell was. It just wasn’t going away, in fact it was getting worse. I decided to wrap it up and take it back to the supermarket for a refund. I didn’t buy another one. We had sort of gone off the idea of having a roast.

My husband asked me to get the fillet steaks out of the freezer instead and I left them to defrost on the side. He was going to try a recipe that he’d seen on the TV for the steak, and also make his special homemade chips in the deep fat fryer (bit unhealthy, but lovely).

Fillet steak, chips and asparagus

The meal was absolutely delicious and I could have eaten the whole thing again. I was also grateful to not have to cook, although I still have to clean up out there.

My progress in the spare room today

Today I wanted to continue working on the spare room as I had the gift wrapping everywhere from yesterday’s organising. I didn’t get very far because when the new storage bag organiser turned up it wasn’t as good as the reviews or the picture. It was a bit of a ‘rush buy’ on Amazon last night. I should have taken my time and realised that the reviews were actually to do with a different size and shape of bag… my mistake.

So, I still have all of the various gift wrapping categories waiting to be organised.

Gift wrapping categories to be organised in an accessible way

I’ve ordered something more sturdy and slightly bigger and it should be arriving tomorrow. I’ll be back then with an update.

Hope you’ve all had a wonderful weekend.

Until tomorrow…


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Day 179: Deciding How Long to Keep the Children’s Old School Books

I woke up feeling a bit better today so I spent some time in the spare room this afternoon trying to see if I could shift some more stuff. I had put everything into categories a week ago making it easier to tackle it all; however, it had all got a bit mixed up due to the room being in use for working and watching TV. Other unwanted items had also need added to the room.

Firstly, I focused on the two open charity bags, adding a few items that were lying around and then tied them both up in a double knot. Done! They can now go into the garage so that I’m not tempted to look in them again.

I then spotted a broken cardboard box holding the girls’ old school books. I’d put them all in one place last week after going through bags and boxes from their rooms. I can see why they don’t want them taking up space in their rooms but if we are going to keep them, then they need a better place than a cardboard box in the spare room.

A box of the girls’ old school books

I have a wooden ottoman full of gift bags etc. in this room that I thought might be a better place for the school books. That got me focused on the other category that I could start working on today which was ‘gift wrapping’. I collected everything in one place a couple of weeks ago, but it wasn’t accessible enough and was getting messy again. I also found another box of gift bags and wrapping paper in the garage last week, most of which I want to keep. So, this all needed a better and more organised place too.

One of my dedicated readers suggested a flat box for gift wrapping (thank you livingeveryday2017) so I looked online for something appropriate and placed an order. I’ll come back and blog about that another day when it’s all organised.

At this very moment the gift bags, tissue paper, wrapping paper etc. are all in sub categories all over the middle of the spare room. I had to do that in order to see what I had so that I know how much storage I need. I’m not sure if I’m keeping it all yet, but the plan is to contain the stuff, stick to that amount of space, and then avoid buying extra if it won’t fit in the space we have.

After emptying the wooden ottoman of gift bags, I placed in the school books as this doesn’t need to be as accessible as the gift wrapping. The books all fitted nicely in there…

A semi-permanent place for old school books

… and there’s room for more as the years go on. I did discuss with the girls how long we should keep their books and we decided that we would revisit what we’ve stored once they’ve left school. I’m happy to keep them in the garage after that if they still want them. They can join my boxes of school books that I brought home from my mum and dad’s house last weekend. Then one day in the future, I can drop my girls’ books off at their houses 😊.

More decluttering and organising tomorrow.

Until then…


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Day 178: I Needed a Restful Day Before Taking the Tent Down

That’s two nights in a row that my fitbit has shown 50 mins sleep early on in the night followed by 3 hours sleep around 6am. Not good! Me not being able to sleep is mainly to do with my stress headache, and I usually find that it’s easier to get up and get on with things rather than lie there feeling the ache in the back of my head. I tend not to take painkillers.

I’m not sure if I’m going a bit crazy, but I was sweeping the kitchen floor around 4am because when I came downstairs the lighting under the kitchen cabinets showed up the dirt on the dark floor. I have a thing about bits on the floor and I was trying to take my mind off my headache.

The sun was due to rise around 4.44am but when I looked out the sky looked orangy pink. I checked the weather app and it showed rain and lightening. I went outside in the back garden in my dressing gown and it was so silent with a definite feeling that rain was coming. I brought in my geraniums so that the storm wouldn’t knock the flowers off.

One of my geranium plants grown from seed

My head still hurt and I felt nauseous, so I laid on the sofa wearing a heated wrap around my neck. It was very calming watching the rain and lightening and listening to the thunder. I needed sleep, so I switched on a calming ‘drifting off to sleep’ track on the fitbit app before putting on my weighted eye mask. Next thing I knew it was 9.50am!

As I had another day off, it was lovely to be able to take it easy today. My youngest wanted some company whilst she was doing her homework so I said that she could use my desk whilst I rested in the conservatory. She needed testing on her Spanish so I learnt some new words and how the Spanish verb endings work!

Every time I went to do some jobs around the garden, my head hurt so I gave up in the end and laid in a shady spot on the sun lounger. It was so peaceful and I eventually fell asleep.

Time to have a snooze in the garden

Taking the tent down

A couple of weeks ago we all spent a couple of nights in a tent in the garden for my husband’s birthday and none of us have had the enthusiasm to take it down again. We also thought that we might spend another night in there but didn’t as the weather’s been on and off. It’s been annoying me that the tent is still up, so today when I started to feel better we took it down.

Taking the tent down

I was impressed that my husband managed to fit everything back in the bag that it came out of, and he wasn’t even the one who put it up. With the tent being up so long, it’s left the grass a bit yellow underneath, but a least we have the whole garden back again.

Looking forward to the weekend!

Until tomorrow…


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Day 177: A Scorching Hot Day – Perfect Timing for a Day Off

I have a couple of days off work and it couldn’t have come at a better time as the weather is hot! I’ve also still got tension in my head and neck so I wouldn’t have enjoyed working on the laptop all day.

Anyone that’s been following my blog for a while will know that I’m not one for putting my feet up all day even if I have got a day off, but I did decide early on today that I was going to rest often as I know it’s good for me.

I couldn’t stand sitting in the full 30 degrees sun for long, so I wore a hat and sat out for a while and then pottered about doing some gardening and tidying some of the remaining clutter in the conservatory until it got too hot in there.

The main task was to take the box of CDs out of the conservatory and put them back in the pull out drawers in the cabinet that I put in the garage yesterday. I have hundreds of CDs – titles I’d even forgotten existed. Even though I have Apple Music at my fingertips now, containing any song I want, I can’t part with my CD collection (or my record collection for that matter).

Just a snippet of my old CD collection

As I opening the garage door I got a bit of a fright because one of the speakers was on the floor and I’d put it on top of the cabinet yesterday. I then noticed that a few boxes were also all over the floor next to it. I had a quick look around to see what had happened and realised that this box was the culprit…

It had obviously caved in under the weight of the other boxes that I’d piled up on top of it a couple of days ago when I was making space in the garage. I’m assuming that the boxes had all toppled down and knocked one of the speakers onto the floor. I thought someone had got in there!

The fallen boxes

I tidied everything up and put the CDs away and here’s how it looks now…

After tidying and setting up

Looking forward to another day off tomorrow.

Until then…


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Day 176: Creating More Space in the Conservatory Was a Good Decision

If you saw yesterday’s post, you will be aware that I created some space in the garage to store an item of furniture no longer required in the conservatory. Today was about moving the item. This is an exciting move for me because I’m working in the conservatory at the moment and it will make it so much brighter, airier and spacious.

Moving the cabinet

This morning I took everything out of the cabinet including hundreds of CDs, and emptied the bottom drawer which was full of very random items including a brand new bike lock! I had no idea that was in there.

Emptying the cabinet to move it

I cleared the path from the conservatory to the garage and got my daughter to help me carry it, after taking the glass door off of course.

Its new place in the garage

I had to work today so I couldn’t get anything else done other than that. Everything still needs putting back in the cabinet in the garage and the conservatory has accumulated clutter so requires tidying up. It doesn’t help that I put a couple of boxes in there yesterday to sort out. I’ll be able to share updated pictures as and when it looks tidy. I may also change the layout of the conservatory now that we have less things in there.

I have the rest of the week off work now, and the weather is going to be glorious so I’m looking forward to doing some gardening and having a bit of a rest. My neck is playing up which is giving me that nausea headache, probably as a result of all the boxes and furniture I’ve been lifting over the last couple of days. My husband has just given me a neck and shoulder massage which has really helped.

I’m now sitting here with a heated wrap on my shoulders. After a good night’s sleep I should be good as new in the morning.

Until tomorrow…


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Day 175: Getting Things Done in My Cluttered Hideaway

Extract from today’s planner

I woke up feeling in the mood to make some big decluttering changes today. I felt so in control. I had the morning off work so I planned the day carefully giving me enough time to get some chores done so that I could have a block of time to clear some more space in the garage. As the rest of the family would be working, I knew that I would have limited interruptions.

In the garage

The plan today was to make room in the garage for a piece of furniture that I don’t want to keep in the conservatory anymore. I thought that until I make a decent amount of space in the garage there would be no point emptying the cabinet and moving it. That was motivation enough for me to get on with it.

I allowed myself between 1.5 and 2 hours to get this one small area cleared…

Before clearing space

I opened each box and had a quick glance. If it was full of things I could donate, it went over to the other side of the garage with the charity bags. If I was not sure, or it was a mix of things I want/don’t want, I stacked it back up over the side I was working on.

This may not seem like good progress to anyone reading this, but it allowed me to familiarise myself with what’s actually in the many boxes.

I eventually did it! I got to the wall and measured the space and swept the floor. The piece of furniture looks like it will fit, so I will attempt to move it tomorrow.

After clearing space

The funny thing was that when I got back into the house, my daughter said welcome back and my husband asked if I enjoyed my walk. They apparently couldn’t find me anywhere, hence naming the garage my cluttered hideway.

My thoughts on the garage clutter now

Most of the items that I went through today were as follows:

  • Old videos
  • Toys that the girls haven’t played with for many years
  • Clothes (including 3 long winter coats that I thought I’d given away years ago)
  • Kitchen appliances and other items that I’d forgotten about and are definitely not going in the kitchen as we have enough already.
  • Boxes of papers including some precious journals of mine which for some reason had become separated from the others (I brought those into the house)
  • Boxes of cables and leads
  • Speakers of various types
  • A box of papers and text books for a writing course that I never finished
  • A water filter jug and a coffee maker (and I don’t even drink coffee)
  • More of the girls old drawings and craft items from nursery and early school years

… and I know that there is so much more there that I haven’t been through yet. I’m slowly coming to the conclusion that I’m not going to end up keeping much of the contents of the boxes in the garage. Deep down I think I knew that, but for my own reasons I have to go through them in order to ‘process’ everything in my mind. No one can do that for me as it’s something I’ve been wanted to get the time to do for many years. Some people will be able to relate to this obsession of going through it all myself (e.g. my dad, who feels the same about his stuff) and some won’t be able to relate to it (e.g. my husband, who would prefer to just get a skip and dump it all in).

My husband may have a point; however, I just want to know what I’m putting in that skip or charity bag. Everything I’ve kept for years will eventually be thrown away, if not by me, but by someone else. I want to live a long life but there’s no point keeping all this stuff until my old age. I need to be ruthless and get rid of it, and enjoy a clutter free life now.

Whilst listening to Nagisa Tatsumi’s book The Art of Discarding this morning, she said something that stuck in my mind and I’ve been repeating it to myself all day…

“When I’m dead it will all be rubbish”

I finished the day making my homemade meat pie whilst listening to the update from the prime minister about easing the lockdown restrictions on 4th July. I think it’s too soon, so we’ll still be staying in unless it’s absolutely necessary to go out.

Until tomorrow…


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Day 174: My Teen’s Delicious Homemade Pizzas, and More Recycling Leaves the House

Homemade pizzas

My youngest was really excited about making pizzas for us for dinner today. All the ingredients that she’d asked me to get turned up with the shopping this morning. She asked if I could help her (but only if she needed it as she really wanted to do it herself). I had no idea how to make pizza dough but that I’d be there for her for guidance (another good use of my new acquired coaching skills).

She made the dough at lunchtime…

Pizza dough before rising

…. and it had doubled in size by dinner time…

Pizza dough after rising

She had done a fantastic job and was so proud of herself. Around 5.30pm when I finished working she asked me to help her make a pizza sauce from scratch rather than spread tomato purée on the base. We found a few recipes online and she chose the one where we actually had all of the ingredients.

Whilst the sauce simmered away, I went around collecting all the recycling and placing it outside ready to take round the back later on (bin day again tomorrow). I’ve collected so much again which can only mean that I am throwing things away.

Back to the pizzas…

My daughter divided the dough into four and rolled one base out. She then delegated the rest of the rolling and shaping to me whilst she put the toppings on. I didn’t realise that dough was so stretchy; it just springs back when you try and roll it. We made some fun shapes as it wasn’t easy making them round 😀. Then we popped them in the oven for 10-15 minutes.

The results

The pizzas were so tasty, particularly the sauce. My husband said that they were even better than ones we’d eaten out (won’t mention any shop names). I think that my daughter will make them for us again and this time she wants to make them completely on her own, and maybe try garlic bread as well. I said that I’d be on standby if she needs me.

Until tomorrow…


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Day 173: Learning About the Art of Discarding Stuff, and Playing More Family Board Games

“We must stop simply having stuff and putting it away somewhere. We need to think more actively about our relationship with things”

Nagisa Tatsumi, The Art of Discarding

Whilst working on my challenge this year, I’ve become more and more aware of the value in securing more space around the house. I sat in the spare room today whilst my husband was watching the football downstairs and thought about how I could discard more rather than keep moving it about and tidying it up.

I looked through my library of audio books to see what could help me and I came across one I remember being good… The Art of Discarding by Nagisa Tatsumi. As I started listening to the introduction and chapter one, her words gave me hope that I will be able to develop the skills that I need to enable me to discard stuff.

In one of the stories in her book, she explains how she gets a sense of joy when seeing a place cleared and that’s exacting how I feel; however, I find it difficult to part with things that still have a use, so I end up with all sorts of barriers to discarding.

I decided to practise by sorting through the ‘bags’ category in the spare room. These are all bags that have come from the girls’ rooms that they apparently don’t want. I believe that there’s still some use in some of the bags but tried to be realistic when going through them. Here’s what I was faced with…

Before sorting bags

…so I created one pile (below left) of bags that I think we can still use, and another pile (below right) that I hope to donate once the charity shops are open again.

After sorting bags

With the ones that I’m keeping, I will need to find somewhere to store them, which at the moment is going to be the spare room cupboard. That is until I sort out that cupboard and then you’ll probably see them pop up on another blog post.

Another family games night

Fun board games

As it was Father’s Day today, we played another couple of games as a family this evening. ‘Mousie Mousie’ and ‘Articulate!’. We had a laugh and it made me think about how we only tend to play games on special occasion days. My youngest is very good at getting us all organised to play, so maybe I’ll let her come up with a plan to get us playing games together more often.

Hope you’ve all had a good weekend.

Until tomorrow…


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Day 172: A Social Distancing Day Out to See Family, A Box of Memories, and An Evening of Board Games

A Seagul

Being Father’s Day tomorrow it gave me a good reason to drive to Herne Bay with the girls to see my mum and dad in their garden. I’ve spoken to them loads and Skyped occasionally, but it was so lovely to see them in person (the last time was February). We took our own packed lunch and some gifts. They have a lovely big garden for us to all sit far enough apart and we were so lucky that it was a warm day.

My brother and family are only ten minutes walk from them so we walked there for a quick catch up as well. They had laid all the chairs out in different sections of the garden when we got there so that we were far enough apart. It was great to see them too.

A box of my stuff in my parents’ garage

I brought along a small box of my my mum and dad’s paperwork that I found in my house, and bizarrely they had a much larger box of my stuff in their garage that they wanted me to take home (clutter gets everywhere!). I decided to go through some of my memory box in their garden whilst we were there.

The girls enjoyed reading through my old school books, notes, diaries, drawings and cards (including my first birthday cards). There were even a couple of old purses stuffed with receipts and bus tickets (my daughter commented that my purse is just the same now 😂). I’m not going to keep all of the stuff in the box. I will leave it in my garage until I’m ready to sort out that particular category of stuff. I know that there are more boxes like that in my garage already so I imagine that one day I’ll restrict myself to just one box of special memories.

An evening of board games

When we got home, my husband had missed us as he’d been in his own. I think that the girls wanted to carry on with the ‘family time’, so we suggested playing a game called Blokus which we all like. This made a change instead of watching TV.


My youngest won the second game – she was the blue colour and managed to block us all getting into her corner.

All in all, a lovely family day.

Until tomorrow…


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Day 171: A Very Productive Decluttering Hour

I found myself with a spare hour or so this evening and started putting washing and other items away that had been left downstairs. As I went to put something in the spare room, my attention was drawn to the area of clutter in front of the window. I sort of knew what was there, but it just needed sorting and organising. It was mainly unwanted clothes from the girls’ rooms that I haven’t bagged up yet, along with plastic containers and bags full of paperwork, toys, games and books. Under there somewhere was also a broken wii drum set. It was a real mess and I was determined (and in the right mood) to make the corner look better this evening.

Corner of spare room before decluttering

As I picked each item up, I added it to the categories that I’d created over the other side of the room last week (this whole room is work in progress). I also moved the plastic tubs up against the wall as that made more sense, and on top of that I stacked some items that haven’t got categories or homes yet. As I mentioned in the kitchen decluttering blog the other day, it’s easier to sort things out when the area is tidy.

Corner of spare room after decluttering

Once everything was out of the way, I decluttered and wiped down the windowsill and could actually get to the window. I think that my husband must have been struggling to open this window while he’s been working. My daughter came into the room just as I had finishing and commented on how clear that side of the room looked and that she hadn’t seen the radiator in ages!

As a result of my very productive hour, I ended up with another couple of charity bags full of stuff, which I obviously can’t do much about at the moment so they are sitting with the other ones. I have also bagged up some clothes for my friend’s daughter so that I can give them to her after lockdown.

To finish the evening nicely, my daughter and I cuddled up and watched a lovely ‘feel good’ film called Hachi: A Dog’s Tale.

Until tomorrrow…


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