Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Miniature mittens...

I have been busy sewing tiny little mittens that are part of the handmade Christmas decorations that I am making for gifts this year - however, over the last week or so this project has been going very slowly. It was transforming in my mind from a festive pleasure to a bit of a chore.

The actual decorations themselves are simply lovely and I think they'll look gorgeous when finished (which I'll be sure to post about...finally). However the source of the pattern for the decorations, has now also provided me with some impetus to get them finished.

Alicia Paulson's blog, Posie Gets Cozy, was one of the first that I began following. This was the image that she posted on her blog today...

There are just so many things I loved about this image - but I think it was the sense of peacefulness that most drew me in. Alicia and her husband have been through a heart-wrenchingly difficult time of late - yet, to me, this picture spoke of the serenity and gratitude they seems such a part and parcel of this couple as they move forward.

With this one image, I've been reminded of the reasons as to why I am making home-made gifts, the simple pleasure that comes from watching something take shape beneath my hands, and to take these days as a marker of the coming weeks and festivities. It has also given me the impetus I needed to finish off my tiny mittens, finalise the still-to-be-done tasks on my simplification list (day 19 = 18 tasks complete), and then enjoy the simple pleasure of decorating my home for the approaching season...

Thursday, 24 November 2011

It's beginning to look a lot like winter...

The unseasonably warm November is drawing to a close and December and the festive season is fast approaching. London is also experiencing it's first taste of winter. I love this photo which I saw in last night's paper, taken yesterday morning on Westminster Bridge ...three iconic images of London - Big Ben, a double-decker bus, and fog!

Today is day 13 of the simplification project = 11 tasks completed...hmm, I think I might need to make the most of a cosy day indoors this weekend and get cracking on those tasks...however, at least I can relax knowing that all Christmas gifts for family in Australia have been purchased, made, wrapped and posted...

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Managing paperwork at the point of entry...

Today I'm sharing one of my solutions to managing the influx of paperwork that is part and parcel of any household - organising paperwork is one of the tasks on the 30-day simplification project (Day 6 = 10 tasks completed).
I haven't gone to digital records, and so still keep and file important papers e.g bank statements, pay slips, household utility/insurance papers etc. I actually have to keep greater numbers of these than would normally be the case in terms of having sufficient proof for visa and residency applications in the UK.
My habit has been to open mail when I get in each evening, and then place in a pile all of the papers that need filing. This pile starts in the kitchen (where I open the mail), and then gets shifted to the dining table where it continues to build up until such time as I bite the bullet and get filing.
I am intending to streamline the filing process so that I tackle it more regularly, but in the meantime I have set up a mail sorting area in the corner of my kitchen. I also decided if I made it pretty as well as functional, then I'd be more likely to make sure it was used properly. So, I bought myself a lovely little wooden/metal vintage-looking tray to tidily hold the papers that are awaiting filing. I also made myself a linen-covered bulletin board which I've attached to the wall above the tray to hold bits and pieces of information/pictures that I want more ready access to, rather than being filed away. The lovely linen, white grosgrain ribbon and upholstery tacks were all purchased via ebay, and I picked up a cheap corkboard at my local homebase - all in all, I think it cost me about £12, with the majority of that being the cost of the fabric (of which there is still a good amount left which can be put to use for other projects).
Yes, I still need to get around to the actual filing, but at least it is looking pretty and organised while in this temporary holding stage...

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Developing an infatuation for red transferware...

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Blue is my favourite colour - it has been for many years, and I think it always will be. There are always elements of blue in my wardrobe and my home furnishings.

But, I've been developing a bit of an infatuation for red transferware. Not that I'm relinquishing my love of blue (including some lovely spode pieces I have in storage), but the pretty pinks are appealing to me of late.

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And it seems particularly relevant as my thoughts turn towards the festive season...
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Anyone else sharing a love for transferware?

Monday, 14 November 2011

Simplification progress report...

The 30-day simplification project is underway. It is technically day 3, and I have 5 tasks ticked off the list.
One of those tasks that I had been procrastinating over was completing the cull of my wardrobe. I had started a clear out two weeks ago, but had made little progress since then. Late Saturday afternoon saw the contents of the wardrobe emptied onto the bed, and the inside completely cleaned (I have to admit to being ashamed to how much dust had accumulated inside - I think this is an activity that needs to be done more than once per year!). However, if a pair of shoes was covered with dust it was at least a good indicator that they were not being worn often (if at all!!). I do have to own up to the fact that I now get quite a bit of enjoyment opening the wardrobe door and seeing the nicely organised clothes hanging there.
I was reading Simone's blog over at The Bottom of the Ironing Basket today. Simone is blogging this month on the concept of wellness - there are some great posts that I'd encourage you to look at. Her post today was around the essential activities that she tries to build into her life to maintain wellness - but also some of the challenges to maintaining these consistently.
Simone's post made me reflect on one of the reasons for my 30 day simplification project - in great part, it is about simplifying my living space so that it feels more calm, less cluttered...when you live in a small space with limited storage, it can begin to look messy very quickly. But after reading Simone's comments, I started to think about how the concept of calmness and order actually brings about my own sense of well-being. If things are calm, organised and in control, then I too feel calm, settled and at ease. If the pile of papers for filing is threatening to topple over, the unfinished craft projects are piling up, and there is a pile of things awaiting a trip to the recycling centre, then I too feel discordant and at a loss of where to start - which has a direct impact on my sense of ease and well-being.
So, there is some extra motivation in getting though my 30 tasks - yes, it is helping me complete all of the big and small outstanding tasks that have been building up at home (and there is quite a bit of satisfaction at ticking things off the list), but as I complete each task I can all feel a slight lessening of my 'perceived load' and a move towards a way of living that is simpler, easier to maintain, and improves my sense of wellbeing.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

30 day simplification project...

My home decluttering project started off at a reasonable pace with the culling of the bookshelves in the sitting room and an initial cull of my wardrobe. Unfortunately, since then, the term 'snail pace' may be more truthful.
So, the 30-day simplification project has been born. I spent some time today listing all of the remaining projects that I need to do in order to get this small home in order before the Christmas season gets into full swing - and so I can enjoy putting up some decorations without working around bags of clothes waiting to be taken to the charity shop, the broken dvd player that needs to go to the recycling centre, and the pile of items awaiting mending/alteration before they earn a place back in my wardrobe.
This project came about directly from the inspiration derived from Rachel Meek's blog small notebook. So many useful tips and anecdotes about simplification, organisation, storage and much more. I particularly liked the fact that Rachel and her family were proponents of apartment living for many years, so she completely understands the reality of 'limited storage' - I'm hoping that I too can get past the fact that I lack loft space, garage space, or even a spare room to manage my acquired household paraphernalia, and make better use of the storage that I have.
To make the simplification project 'simple', I've managed to devise a list of 30 tasks/activities that need doing (and yes, I was actually procrastinating from starting the project by making a 30-item list complete with tick-boxes!). Some are small and should only take a short time - some are more daunting and may require a couple of days to complete. For example, I somewhat rashly decided to make several Christmas gifts this year - what seemed a good idea in August, has now come to seem slightly more daunting in terms of getting the items completed in time for international posting.  So, I'm hoping that the average of one task per day may see me arriving mid-December with a clear plate and no more a 'to-do' list...or at least one that doesn't involve tidying/culling/decluttering!

Thursday, 10 November 2011

The day to day...

...has managed to get in the way of this blog over the past week or so. Or, to be more truthful, my ingrained habit of procrastination has been making itself felt, and the activities that I have been planning to do keep being postponed in lieu of more 'important' tasks (...hmm, that might involve lying on the sofa reading a book...)
But, some things have been happening in this little corner of London...
The great bookshelves purge is almost complete. Four large bags of books have now been donated to my local Oxfam book shop. The bookshelves are looking better but not as uncluttered as I would like. I was hoping to free up some space by moving the ten or so lever arch folders containing PhD references into the hall storage cupboard, but have since discovered that their weight over the past few years has irretrievably distorted a few of the shelves on my IKEA billy bookcases. Given that I am not about to outlay money at this stage on new bookcases they are all contained on the bottom shelf doing an admirable job of actually holding up the shelf above!
The smocked baby dress is now complete - just as well the anticipated arrival is late!

And finally,
Completely unseasonal, and unfortunately not strongly fragrant, but a welcome change from my usual weekly supermarket flower purchase of white roses...