My Dad and Connie visited us for a week and so while they were here I took advantage of having both an expert garden assistant and a baby watcher on hand and managed to get a bit of spring garden work done.
You will remember that I always use Valentine’s Day as a reminder of when to prune our roses (and our two deciduous trees for that matter). Well, in keeping with tradition over the course of two sunny days last week we successfully pruned all the roses and the two trees. As we now have a little wood burner stove in our living room, we saved all the tree branches to use as kindling wood next winter once they’ve had time to dry out properly. We had to chop all the branches into short little pieces so they’d fit in our stove – no small task! (You will remember that we had to order our firewood at a specific small size so it would fit!)
As we turned our study into the nursery, we had to find another spot for our computer in the house. The niche beside the fireplace in our guest room seemed like the ideal spot. There is a similar niche in the ‘Grand Hall‘, under this shelf, on the ground floor, but being a floor lower means it doesn’t have the same long view over the rear gardens and rooftops which I really loved. Plus, getting more use out of the guest room seemed like a good idea anyway!
So, despite a fairly extensive small desk search way back in 2015, I determined that nothing would fit in the 1m wide space that we have available, (plus most of the desks projected too far into the room and would hit the end of the bed). I therefore decided to get our trusty carpenter in (who did an awesome job of the shelf above earlier!) to install and construct a bespoke desk top.
I didn’t want the wall supports to be visible, so we went for a chunky 40mm thick grade A pine desk top (made up of 4 pieces glued together to prevent warping and to minimise knots), and rebated the edges by 20mm around all 3 sides so the top sits neatly on the 20mm battens, leaving a neat flush finish beneath.
I located the cable grommet off centre so that the computer could be located to one side of the desk, and there would still be space for the desk lamp on the other, and their visible cable runs would be minimal. I bought our grommet here from BPF, as I wanted a robust metal one that would fit two standard cables. have a variety of finishes including bronze and gloss white.
The grommet position is certainly one to think carefully about as if you locate the grommet in the centre, then you cant locate your computer in the middle either as the stand would cover the hole given the narrow desk depth. Similarly, if you put the grommet in the very far corner, then your cable runs will be more visible above the desk.
Having been really pleased with our new whitewashed staircase and floorboards, I opted for a timber finish to match. I finished the desktop myself with two coats of Osmo Wood Wax in a white tint. I applied the Osmo oil sparingly with a soft rag so I could work it evenly into the wood. The wood wax has a stronger white tone than the wood oil tint – just in case you are after something more natural just to stop the yellowing.
So here I am at the end of the challenge for this year… How did you all do? I got to Day 23 this year, which means I cleared out a whopping 357 items! I feel lighter already. I managed to beat my past records by attacking the scary ‘clutter-collection’ areas of our under-stair cupboard and our garden sheds. The under-stair cupboard really should have been clear given we had to empty it when we had our staircase re-built… but it just happens to be one of those ‘out of sight, out of mind’ places where things tend to accumulate. I know we aren’t the only ones with these dark places – so get on to them finish your challenge too!
Here’s the tally:
- Twenty one items from our DIY ‘collection’ under the staircase including: ten tins of old paint, two old seat cushions, three paint trays, two old paint rollers, two paint brushes (past their best), one cracked plastic bucket (we had two), and one run of rope.
- Twenty two items cleared with Alex’s help including – sixteen electrical cables & plugs and six old waterlogged boxes of fertiliser and weed killer from the shed.
- Twenty three random other items from a second sweep around the house and Alex’s help including: fourteen of his ‘smalls’ (as he calls his socks and pants!), two out of date lonely planet travel guides, two hand bags, and five more items from the shed.
(Photos are of the concrete Sound Mirrors in Denge, near Dungeness, which were built in the 1920’s -1930’s. Before radar, the acoustic sound mirrors were intended to provide early warning of enemy aeroplanes (or airships) approaching Britain across the English Channel.)
On we go to part two of the challenge, where things get quite a lot more challenging! I finished off the kitchen with a review of the fridge, then moved on to the linen cupboard, my sock drawer and clothes wardrobe, and then to my new study area. With those areas I managed to get to twenty. How are you all doing? Remember, every single item counts, no matter how small!
Here is my tally from the next ten days as inspiration for your clear out:
- Eleven items from the linen cupboard and my sewing box including six old towels and five spools of thread in crazy vivid colours that I’ll never need.
- Twelve (!) paint sample books from various paint manufacturers.
- Thirteen fabric samples from when I was choosing blinds and curtains. I can order them again if I need to.
- Fourteen used bubble envelopes. (Why am I so compelled to keep these?!)
- Fifteen old store loyalty cards from stores I rarely frequent.
- Sixteen books and magazines. (Nine books, and seven old magazines)
- Seventeen items from our hall cupboard and charging station including: One pair of broken sunglasses (I didn’t get around to repairing the arm last year, so probably wont ever!), one wallet, one broken umbrella, three pairs of shoes, and eleven other random bits and pieces (Its been quite a while since it looked as neat as the day it was installed!)
- Eighteen items of clothing including: socks, pants, tights, tank tops, t-shirts and very worn cardigans.
- Nineteen bits and pieces from my desk area and the medical box including: Ten expired pills and potions, three pens, two memory sticks (I still have four!), and four paper files.
- Twenty items from the bathroom cabinet.
I’m not sure how many more days I’ll be able to go on for, but I’m determined to beat my past record. I still have the cupboard under the stair where we store all of our DIY things and the loft to go through. Both of those areas have become dumping grounds for things that we don’t want to make an immediate decision about, so I’m sure I’ll at least be able to find at least twenty one things there… I think its also now time for me to enlist Alex’s help to see if he can find anything to recycle or donate to charity.
(Photos continue to be from the empty and windswept landscape of Dungeness.)
As part of a baby gift, my sister got us these entirely adorable black and white rabbit hooks. We installed these just before Christmas, but I only got around to photographing them today.
As they were installed into the masonry party wall, this required a bit of effort as we had to drill into the wall an install wall plugs like when we installed the book shelves.
Things got pretty hectic in the last few weeks before our little one’s arrival and we didn’t quite get everything finished in time in the nursery. Consequently, I haven’t yet made any ‘full view’ posts about it. However, over the past few weeks we have managed to find an hour here and there to complete the finishing touches.
Before the big reveal though, here is a photo I took back in August last year when I was planning things out. It is a teeny tiny room so we wanted to make sure there was enough storage and that we would make best use of the space. To decide which IKEA storage units would fit best I made little cut outs of everything and moved the furniture blocks around a drawn up plan of the room – old school style!
This is the layout we settled on with a chest of drawers by the window made of three, three drawer units which will double as a changing area.
This year I started the challenge in the kitchen, going through each drawer and shelf one by one. Each drawer took just 10-15 minute so I was able to de-clutter them while I waited for my toast or for the kettle to boil. By de-cluttering the kitchen alone I managed to get to day ten! How are you all doing?
Here is my tally so far for inspiration:
- One Packet of old straws (when will we ever need these?!)
- Two vases
- Three felt place mats (past their best)
- Four bottles of old alcohol of questionable origin (from parties past)
- Five fabric shopping bags (they multiply rapidly because of conferences I attend)
- Six glass jars (I must stop saving them…)
- Seven old cooking items including: one measuring cup (we had two), one muffin tray (we had three), two roasting trays (rusted and past their best), one scraper, one spatula, and one dodgey shaped cookie cutter.
- Eight random pieces of plastic cutlery (saved for picnics and then never used now that we have a garden)
- Nine more random things in our kitchen including: two bags of dried out wet naps for picnics, one jug, one insulated bag, four mugs, and one pen from the junk drawer (I did well this past year to keep them from multiplying!)
- Ten expired pantry items including: two cans of food, four spice jars (one from 2013 – oops!), and four other random dried goods
Go on, you know you have a few of these culprits in your kitchen that you can get rid of!
(Minimal themed photos from Dungeness to accompany my minimalist challenge report)