Thursday, March 30, 2017

Priorities, priorities, priorities

The Elder Offspring now has her own apartment. We will be going over to visit soon. It's time to start transferring her belongings still in the family home to her new apartment. There is so much of it!

And so we set priorities.  These will be:

  1. clothing
  2. books
  3. media (CDs, DVDs and games)
These items will be boxed up, labelled and packed into the car. The Noodle in the Noodle Bowl will be very happy about this. Tonight, it's clothes!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Decluttering whilst ill

Today I posted a joke on Facebook, there's 10 types of people in the world - those who understand binary, those who don't, and those who weren't expecting this joke to be in base 3.

I have come to realise there are often two approaches to standards. There's people who hold themselves to a far higher standard than others, and there's people who hold others to a standard, but supply excuses why they shouldn't be judged at that level. Normally, I expect more of myself than I do of others. This can lead to crazy situations, the sort of situations where people shake their heads and say 'Be kind to yourself!'

Today, my body is weary, my mind can't find spoken words (but I can write), my throat is scratchy and I'm losing my voice. If someone came to me with a list like that I'd tell them to veg out on the sofa, watch a movie and have an early night. But, it's me, so I expect me to get on and do some decluttering. I have made the decision to be kind to myself, but I still have guilt about not decluttering!


There was a little bit of decluttering done today. A friend was having a 'bring and share' meal at her house. The large potato au gratin I made yesterday was earmarked for the supper. We love Quorn mince, but not the faux chicken pieces. Somehow we ended up with three bags of the faux chicken in the freezer. The Quorn was cooked in a skillet, and mixed through with a tomato sauce. It will go very nicely with the potato au gratin. There was a cry of 'Ooooh, excellent, some protein.'

Sadly, when we arrived at my friend's house my temperature spiked and I felt really rather unwell. We handed over food, and made excuses to leave. I feel guilty about that too! However, it was so lovely to come home to a cooler, quiet house. It's exactly what I need this evening.

Monday, March 27, 2017

What been decluttered today?

The Beloved brought home a might stash of baked potatoes, 17 in total. Yesterday I cut some in half, scooped out the middles and mashed them together with butter, onions, garlic and Stilton. The potatoes were stuffed and popped in the oven for 40 minutes. This was a big hit with the Beloved, and he took the leftovers away for his lunch today.

The second use was to slice them and layer the slices in a dish with a jar of carbonara sauce. One large, and two small dishes were made and are currently in the fridge. Tomorrow they will be topped with cheese and cooked.

And there's still five potatoes left. I think it might be time to make more 'loaded potatoes'. This time it will be Cheddar and onion. These ones will be frozen.

In addition to potato decluttering, garden decluttering has begun. Weeds have been weeded, the path has been weeded and swept, and the meter box has been washed and topped with a lovely little pot of narcissus.

Week 13: Basement

Monday: Read Organized Home Challenge #13: Basement

Tuesday: Declutter boxes, other stuff in basement
No basement.

Wednesday: Continue to declutter basement
Continue to have no basement.

Thursday: Declutter and organize hardware (such as screws, nails, etc.)
We do have a toolbox! Everything is nicely contained with it. I'll ask the Beloved to have a look through and ditch anything he doesn't want.

Friday: Declutter tools and create an essential tool chest
As well as the tool box, we have a set of easy access plastic drawers. These contain things like light bulbs, batteries, candles, a couple of screw drivers and a measuring tape. These are my essentials.

Saturday: Fill out basement storage inventory
The lack of basement is starting to concern me.

Sunday: Declutter storage unit or locker
Something else I don't have!

Sunday, March 26, 2017

A little bit of work in the Guest Room

Saturday's plan to have a little dining room tidy didn't happen until today (Sunday). Sunday's shed plan didn't work and instead we spent time in my craft room turning it into a place where a guest could stay overnight.  About a third of the room has been done, but more work is required.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Decluttering: Time for a clear out the shed?

Next week's decluttering missions are based around the basement. We don't have one of those. It is not a feature of housing  in my part of the world. It's time to branch out and tackle another area instead. I realised we have a shed in the garden, and it is easily a year since it was opened, and I have not idea when things in the shed were last used. This weekend is shed weeked!

It would be great if the Beloved could make a trip or two to the Civic Amenities Site to dump/recycle a load of shed-stuff. I don't know if this will happen this weekend as he has several commitments. This will not stop me from my decluttering missions. It might mean things disappear next weekend rather than this one, but they will disappear. 

The rest of the week will be spent sorting items to be taken to England for the Elder Offspring. She now has her first grown up apartment (ie non-student place to live). There's still quite a bit of her stuff in the Noodle Bowl.  This trip is going to be clothes, books and music. We take her creations (product design and ceramics) and school books down on another trip.

Today's task will be to remove items from the dining room destined for the rubbish bin, recycling and charity shops. This will give space to start assembling the items heading England-wards for the Elder Offspring.

Friday, March 24, 2017

What's a docket?!

At the start of the week, I said I was not going to be creating daily dockets for my tasks.  My understanding of 'docket' is from the legal system, and so much information is stored on dockets.  I could not see how this could possibly help in home organisation.

Well, it turns out this is not what Taylor was meaning.  She just wanted people to monitor what they were doing.  I can so do that!  I was thinking about getting some gold stars to reward myself for jobs well done.  :o) 

Yesterday and today, I have completed all of the tasks on my list.  I hereby award myself who shiny, gold stars. 

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Daily To Do List

To keeps things simple, my daily to do is a concatenation of the morning, afternoon and evening routines. More items will be added in time.
  • get dressed
  • make bed
  • put on a load of laundry
  • quick tidy of the kitchen
  • check the menu to see if action is needed for dinner
  • quick tidy of the sitting room
  • dry laundry
  • fold laundry 
  • put away laundry
  • declutter/organise for 15 minutes
  • prepare dinner
  • take dirty mugs, plates and glasses through to the kitchen
  • lay out clothes for the morning
  • get in pjs
  • put dirty clothes in laundry basket, and air clothes that can be worn again
  • check my calendar for upcoming events
  • sit in bed and craft whilst listening to an audio book

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Chicken in Wine

The photograph and original recipe are from A Saucy Kitchen.

1 tablespoon oil
3 chicken breasts cut into quarters
8 slices  of bacon, chopped
2 fat cloves garlic, minced
300ml  wine
1 stock pot (concentrated stock)
1 bay leaf
dried mixed herbs
200g small or chopped carrots
200g broccoli
knob of butter
3 small leeks, sliced

Heat the oil in a large skillet. Sear the chicken in the oil. Brown for about 5 minutes, flip and sear the other side. Push the chicken to the side and fry the chopped bacon. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes.

Deglaze the skillet with the white wine. Stir in the stock pot and dissolve. Bring to a simmer and cover. Simmer for about 20 minutes.

Add the carrots and broccoli and simmer for another 10 minutes. Check you have enough liquid in the skillet. If not, add water.

Saute the leeks in a frying pan with a knob of butter. Once softened and slightly caramelized, add the leeks to the chicken. Stir them in and leave the chicken uncovered for about 5 minutes.


The dish was served with mashed potatoes, and was proclaimed to be excellent. The family would like this dish to appear on the menu frequently.

We shall try in next time with red wine instead of white.

Evening Routine

This is the part of the day when I need things to be simple and calm. A while back, I was having problems sleeping. Nights were broken, and I did not get restful sleep. A number of things changed; perhaps one of the biggest was that I stopped trying to go to sleep straight after using my computer for hours. Instead I would take time away from screens, and allow myself time to wind down and slow down.

My evening routine starts just over an hour and a half before I want to go to sleep.  It is:
  • tidy the sitting room
  • take dirty mugs, plates and glasses through to the kitchen
  • tidy the kitchen
  • put away laundry (if not already done)
  • lay out clothes for the morning
  • get in pjs
  • put dirty clothes in laundry basket, and air clothes that can be worn again
  • check my calendar for upcoming events
  • sit in bed and craft whilst listening to an audio book
Written out, it looks like a lot, but flows, and is a gentle wind down. It gets me ready for bed and for sleep.

Afternoon Routine

How glorious would it be to have afternoon tea as part of your afternoon routine? It would all have to be gluten-free and low-dairy to be truly glorious (at least for me).

The afternoon routine required for this household is decidely less glamourous!  In involves laundry, decluttering and dinner:
  • dry laundry
  • fold laundry 
  • put away laundry
  • declutter/organise for 15 minutes
  • prepare dinner

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Morning Routine

I'd love to be that penguin. I am a morning person, but I am also a considerate morning person. No polar bears are rudely woken. However, I have realised I am not making use of my mornings as I could! This is going to change. The plan is to start small and do it every day for a month. Then another item can be added.

My morning routine is going to start small:
  • get dressed
  • make bed
  • put on a load of laundry
  • quick tidy of the kitchen
  • check the menu to see if action is needed for dinner
  • quick tidy of the sitting room
Once that lot has been done I can sit and fiddle with my computer.

Week 12: Morning and Evening Routines

Monday: Read Organized Home Challenge #12: Morning & Evening Routine

Tuesday: Create morning routine chart

Wednesday: Create evening routine chart

Thursday: Create template for daily to do list
By combining the morning, afternoon and evening routines I have a daily to do list. Items will be added when I have these three routines down pat.

Friday: Create daily docket for habits and routines
I am not going to do this at this stage.

Saturday: Declutter vases and flower pots
I have two vases, and my flower pots are either in use, or just about to be used (onions, garlic, and sugarsnap peas).

Sunday: Declutter and clean crawlspace
Over here, a crawl space is literally a crawl space a trades person crawls through to access electrical cables, gas supply and plumbing. It is not used for storage, and as the floor is made of earth, I've no idea how to clean it.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Gluten-free Pizza

Ah, the joys of Facebook!  Four years ago I posted a recipe for gluten-free pizza. It's just popped up on my feed today. I'm going to post it here so it doesn't get lost.

2/3 cups of Dove Farm self-raising flour (gluten-free)
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 tsp chopped garlic
sprinkling of dried herbs
1/3 cup of warm water

Mix in a bowl to make a dough. Roll out (using some extra flour for dusting) to about 20-22cm. Place on an oiled baking sheet. Add your toppings and cook in the oven at 200C for 15-ish minutes.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Decluttering: The Noodle Bowl

Decluttering continues in the Noodle Bowl (formerly known as the Kettle Cave). A pile of recyclables were removed and put in the recycling collection boxes.  

The deadline we are working towards is getting the second desk cleared so it can be taken away on Thursday afternoon.  

With the second desk removed, the principle desk can be moved into the space, and this will give room for a second wardrobe to be added. It is my great hope the floor-drobe will no longer be the clothes storage unit of choice, and instead the wardrobes will use used to contain clothing! 'Tis a radical idea, but I would love it.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Decluttering: To the Kettle-Cave!

The Elder Offspring named her bedroom the Kettle Cave. She went off to university three and half years ago. This weekend she moved into her first proper apartment of her own, not living with parents, or in student flats. The Younger Offspring has taken over residency of the bedroom and has renamed it the Noodle Bowl.  

As if often the case when teenagers go of to university they leave a load of stuff at home. This stuff is being packed up and very, very, gently decluttered. This decluttering is limited to random bits of paper, and little bits of rubbish. These are not my belongings and it would be totally wrong to dispose of them. Instead the clothing has been sorted, folded and stored in my decluttered chest of drawers, and other belongings are being carefully packed away. When we go to visit we will take the boxes, and then it will be totally up to the Elder Offspring to decide what she wants done with them.

For a number of years we had a little box that we kept at my parents.  It had things like hair brush, tooth pastes, shower gel, slippers, pjs. It was so useful not having to take everything with us when we visited. We'll do the same for Elder Offspring.

As the batch of Elder's belongings were taken from the Kettle Cave/Noodle Bowl and place on the bed in my room.  I sat on one corner of the bed as the piles became larger. For a good half hour, or more, I was overwhelmed with the clutter.  This really confirmed to me that I do best in an ordered situation, one without clutter.  This is what I want for my home.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Triathlon Training

IronMay starts in, well, May. Two years ago I completed it, but it was a huge amount of effort, and I was in pain for days afterwards. This year, the plan is to get in a bit of practise before May and get myself in some sort of shape.  

C and I went for a walk on Tuesday, and I've been for walkies with the beloved today again.  It feels like there's a blister forming on the sole of my foot, and it's been just over a mile, and that's combined distances!  

The pace is, shall we say, glacial. However, when I was last doing this challenge my pace did pick up over the month. I even managed to run the last hundred metres! Today's walk was 0.69 miles in 18 minutes.  That's about 2.3 mile per hour.  It will be interesting to compare it to my pace in May.

I can't see clearly now the specs have come

My new vari-focals have arrived, and I've worn them today for about 6 hours. It's all rather trippy! Things go in and out of focus so easily. By moving my head from side to side I see the chair in front of me elongate, then delongate. It's weird. It's a house of mirrors.

I reached the stage tonight where I could not find the 'sweet spot' and things were clearer without them one.  Tomorrow I will try again and wear them for a decent length of time.

Whilst I have had glasses for a number of years I haven't used them a great deal.  One set has been for close, fine work, and another for distance vision, like watching television.  It is very strange to more from occasional use to wearing glasses every day.  I have noticed my eye muscles haven't been twitching whilst I have been wearing the glasses.  It is to be hoped this will continue!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Knitting an 11-ish stitch scarf

A while back I fell in love with a soft lilac silken yarn with a gentle rainbow flowing through it. This beautiful yarn was bought, and then stroked and admired and stroked again. It feels wonderful - silk and merino.

I've tried about 4 different patterns with this yarn, but the little rainbow would clump into clown barf. What was needed was a design where the rainbow could shine in lilac isolation, or be mixed gently throughout without clumping. An arrangement has been found, an 11-ish stitch scarf!

Eleven stitches were cast onto a short circular needle.  The 11 stitches were knitted. Then instead of turning to purl, the stitches were slid along the length of the needle and the knit again.  This produces a thin tube of knitting, with a weirdish loose section.  It looks like a stitch has been dropped.  The solution is simple, pretend a stitch has been dropped.  Grab a crochet hook and pick up the stitch.  The result is a perfect tube of knitting, 12 stitches in circumference. Twelve stitches, but only 11 were knit.

I've just tried to find a tutorial on how to knit a tube in this way, but haven't found one.  Perhaps it's time to do a photo tutorial of my own.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Project 333: "Little Legs"

My children sometimes call me 'Mammy bach', 'little Mammy'. It's at times like this I really understand where that name comes from! Look at the cropped trousers above. "Just the thing for summer," thought I. They were bought, delivered and then tried on. &My cropped trousers are currently ankle grazers! A smidge longer and they would be perfect full-length trousers! 

This afternoon I selected the next set of clothing for Project 333 - spring to summer. There's a number of items in need of alteration: the cropped trousers above, navy trousers, natural linen trousers, a navy jacket and an old favourite, a navy print wrap skirt. It's just as well I set up a 'mending station' in my new project box. I'll mend the ties on the skirt (chewed by the washing machine) and shorten the linen trousers.

Week 11: Cleaning

Monday: Read Organized Home Challenge #11: Cleaning Schedule
Tuesday: Create daily cleaning schedule
Wednesday: Create weekly cleaning schedule
Thursday: Create personalized cleaning checklists
Friday: Create a chore chart for your kids
Saturday: Declutter cleaning supplies and tools
Sunday: Declutter, donate or recycle old large appliances

I've been trying to introduce a cleaning routine, and it's failing miserably. My plan it to ditch the routine and concentrate on decluttering. Once the decluttering is at a more advanced stage I will go back and get the cleaning routines sorted. It's too much to deal with at the moment.

What I am managing to do is keep the kitchen and sitting room in a good state. Almost every night before bed all the dishes are washed, and the kitchen and sitting room are tidied. Each morning the beds are made, and a load of laundry is started.  

Sunday, March 12, 2017

House: Porch and Hall

I'm thinking of the functionality we will require of the new house. Starting at the front door, we want to have the various meters outside, and accessible by meter readers. Whilst discussing things over the weekend, we decided we want a porch that will provide an 'air lock' (a place to trap warm air and act as a buffer to the outside. This will also be a place where delivery people can leave parcels. It will be unlocked most of the time, but can be locked when needed. Another function of the porch will be a place to store boots, wellies and umbrellas - the wet muddy things we don't want in the house.

The porch opens out into a hall. My norm is to take my shoes and coat off as soon as I enter the house. I would like this to be the norm for everyone who enters the house. A bench, with guest slippers and storage for shoes will be there, space to hang coats, and areas/boxes for hats, scarves and gloves. Oh, and a door to the sitting room and a stair case to the upper floor.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Dreaming of a Grand Design

Ideas are coming together for the house I am designing. I've started re-watching Grand Designs to encourage the flow. There's a drinking game based on the show. Some of the reasons to take a drink are:

  • The owners get pregnant during the build
  • The owners are depending on an unreliable supplier for a rare material
  • Problems with expensive custom made windows
  • There is partial collapse of a building
  • There is incompetent use of heavy machinery
  • Access to the site is difficult for some reason (such as steep gradients or narrow pathways
The first one isn't going to be a problem as I'll be 55+ by the time we are ready to start building. The rest of problems, and more, are being taken into consideration.

The plan is to have all the funding secured (by selling our current house) before we start. Professionals will be employed, including a quantity surveyor.  The build figures given by architects seem to bear almost no relation to the actual costs of building!

I don't want a fancy piece of architecture, I want a home that will meet our needs for the foreseeable future.  It has to be comfortable, easy to maintain, and with space for a downstairs bedroom (should we need it).  

Thankfully, there are lots of old Manx farm houses that are rectangular boxes with a triangular cross section roof.  These houses are very often white, or are made from Manx stone.  Both are elements I want in my house.  It's going to look like a modern version of a traditional Manx farm house.

Don't Re-clutter Crafting Supplies

It is so very difficult not to re-clutter with crafting supplies! I want to buy yarn, a rainbow of yarn. Part of me is saying "Ah, yes, but an artist needs an array of paints in order to create their images. You need an array of yarns to create your designs." But another part says "Yeah, have you seen the array upstairs?!"

I felt good when I finished C's infinity scarf, and then when I knitted a hat with the leftovers I was positively glowing. Two and bit balls of yarn decluttered, and suddenly I'm a yarn decluttering ninja who needs to be rewarded with more yarn! This isn't how it's meant to work!

If I do buy yarn it will be my first this year. I've only made two items though. There must be yarn in this house I can use! There is definitely fabric in the house too.

Right! That's it. I have decided. I have supplies for my next three projects in the house already.  There is no need to buy more crafty bits today!  Decision made.


I bought one ball of variegated yarn, and also some ribbons, and buttons for a Twiddle Muff.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Project 333: Is it time to change, or not?!

Yesterday I was so cold in the office. Today I had stripped off to the bear essentials for maintaining decency. Goodness knows when the optimum wardrobe change will happen!  It would be lovely to go to the office and be at a comfortable temperature.  

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Project 333: Time for a change?

I had anticipated that the 15th of March would be when I transitioned into spring clothing. This is so not going to happen! The last few days have been rather cold, and I am not ready to give up woollen skirts and thermal tights!  

However, I have been buying new items for my spring wardrobe. The key colours are navy and white.  New items include a tailored navy jacket, wide-legged navy trousers, an indigo waterfall cardigan, three white tops and a pale pink cardigan. I did order a pair of mulberry trousers, but the colour is too far towards brown and not purple enough. The tops and trousers are to replace old, worn out ones.

Items I currently own that will be included in this period are two 'ethnic' wrap skirts, one in navy and the other in red. A number of years ago I bought a patterned navy fabric and  a soft minty green lining.  I think this will be made into a skirt and scarf. An existing linen skirt will be re-fashioned. I made it 8 years ago, and have worn it just a handful of times. At one point, I had a faux wrap skirt in light taupe with a very small navy printed design around the hem. If I haven't give it away it will be included. A pair of shorts/cropped trousers and a pair of stone linen trousers have also been order, along with a 'nude' bag.

I am trying to pull together a professional working wardrobe. The majority of my clothes are getting rather old and worn.  It's time for a change.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

A search for Clarity

Unless the world is held at arm's length, it is a fuzzy place! 

My sight has deteriorated again. There is a 'sweet spot' at about an arm's length away from my eyes, but it not terribly sweet. I'm having problems reading small print, and doing close work.  Also I've a twitchy eye and that is so annoying!

Yesterday took me to the opticians and new glasses were ordered. The plan is that these ones are worn each and every day, and there's no task based switching. It was such a hassle switching all of the time that I simply didn't bother. It is to be hoped next Thursday will bring a great deal of clarity to my world. Scrub that, it will take time for my eyes and brain to get used to the new glasses. It is to be hoped the end of the month will bring clarity to my world.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Week 10: Laundry

Monday: Read Organized Challenge #10: Laundry Schedule

Tuesday: Create laundry schedule for your family

Wednesday: Have adequate containers to collect dirty laundry throughout house

Thursday: Create system to put away clean clothes after laundry

Friday: Set up mending basket to collect clothes needing repairs plus small sewing kit

Saturday: Declutter sock basket for unmated socks

Sunday: Declutter suitcases and bags, plus check smoke detectors


I have already been working hard to establish a laundry routine. The routine involves washing, drying, folding and putting away. It's not done until it's all done. Having adult children means I am not responsible for their laundry.  As I work shorter hours that The Beloved it seems fair I should take on more of the home-based tasks.

A mending basket sounds like a very good idea. I shall establish it and start doing the mending on a regular basis.

We already have a system for checking the smoke detectors. It happens each time the clocks change, at the end of March, and then again at the end of October.  It doesn't really matter when the smoke detectors are checked, but they are checked on a regular basis.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Decluttering games

The games cupboard has been decluttered! As has the space under the sideboard (where the games live). Some board games have been given the heave-ho, as have some desiccated leaves and a couple of dust bunnies.

The heaved-hoed games are in a box awaiting delivery to a charity shop. One jigsaw is in limbo. It's neither here, nor there. The jigsaw will be assembled and jig-seen. When we have ascertained whether it is complete or not its fate will be decided. The two possible states for Schrödinger's jigsaw are joining the games on their trip to the charity shop, or being added to the recycling.

A number of years ago I was at a charity fayre where a large number of children's jigsaws had been donated. People were not interested until I started assembling them.  When it was seen that all the pieces were present people were keen to buy them.  We shall assemble the jigsaw.  If all the pieces are there I'll pop the pieces into a ziplock bag, and slip in a note to say the jigsaw had been checked.  This will hopefully allow the charity shop to sell the puzzle quickly.

Thursday, March 2, 2017


Yesterday I managed to glutinate myself. I ate a salad with some chicken mayo sandwich filling. The recipe had changed and it now included wheat. It's my fault, I didn't read the ingredients. Well, I didn't read them until I started experiencing gastro-intestinal distress and a headache. After some time in the 'little room', I slept for four hours.

Today, the headache has almost gone, but I have been left struggling to find words. My brain is most un-cooperative, and my fingers are hopeless! Thank goodness for the red wiggly line of the in-browser spell checker! It means I can keep trying until the red line disappears.

And now to bed. Tomorrow will be a better day. Hopefully I'll be back to myself by the weekend.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

"Do the Little Things in Life"

The first of March is St David's Day, Dydd Gŵyl Dewi. It is reported the words from his death bed were "Gwnewch y pethau bychain mewn bywyd", "Do the little things in life".
Too often we are frozen into inaction. We see a big bad world and can't even begin to imagine how to solve the problems the world has. Fascism is on the rise again, and it's incredibly frightening. But we can make a difference.  We can do the little things, helping neighbours, 'pay it forward', making a small donation, knitting hats for refugees, writing a letter to an elected official.  We can look around and see the good others are doing in their 'little things', and emulate them.
Imagine a world where people do the little things.  It adds up.  It increases, and good ensues.  I'm going to do the little things.