I like before and after stories…. they are a record of our achievements, a chart of our progress – and thus an inspiration to continue to try and reach our goals…
I love beautiful gardens…I bought our current house, I am sure, because I fell in love with the garden. The little house we are in is on a 2000 metre block. Half the garden is bush and fruit trees, the other half is (was) beautiful English style gardens. The people we bought the house off were diligent gardeners (My neighbour tells us the reason they got out of bed in the morning was to pick the next weed), the lawns were immaculate and looked like bowling greens, the plants pruned and pampered. Sadly I do not come near their standard! Also the garden was watered via a pump from the local creek and I don’t think they ever took any notice of water restrictions.
This is our garden when we bought the house…can assure you it doesn’t have a bowling green for a lawn any more…
I did say I loved beautiful gardens, but I don’t necessarily like the hard work involved! And I don’t really have a green thumb. I have lots of gardening books and do my best but the garden has never looked the same. Also I tried to be more ‘water wise’ and the grandfather rule that allowed you to have a pump in the creek expired when the pump did, so we have been just using hand moved sprinklers ever since. So all these factors meant after initially embracing my beautiful garden I became discouraged when things died due to my more prudent (read legal) watering regime and me working near full time. Extremely long hot summers and lack of motivation meant my garden struggled….
When I went to Europe I saw some beautiful gardens. Monet’s Garden, even on a hot day was just beautiful.
This is Monet’s Garden…. I doubt I can get a pond like that but surely I can have some nice flowers?
Then travelling down the Rhine, I fell in love with the window boxes. Everywhere you went were magnificent colourful boxes of flowers. So many cities were just a riot of colour.
The floating flower markets in Amsterdam were just amazing…. and the window boxes in Germany and some of the city gardens were beautiful…
Then in Slovakia we did a home visit and a little Russian lady showed us her vege garden that was filled with every sort of edible plant using every corner of her long yard. I noticed she had a small corner (about a square metre) filled with Gladioli – which was her one concession to the need to feed her family.
A Backyard vege garden in Slovakia…
So I came home inspired to reclaim my beautiful garden. It may never reach its former glory but it can be better than the neglected place it has been recently. While we were away the grass had grown everywhere so we needed it all whipper snippered before I could even begin.
Sadly I dont have any before photos…but I have taken photos to plot my progress… I decided that every day I had to do something in the garden – and almost every day I have managed to do that. I find once I make these determinations I get a really anxious feeling if I dont stick to these plans. So my ‘One Bite at a Time’ philosophy does work – even with gardens that look like a jungle! And it is odd that altho I am a procrastinator, if I have started a project I really do stick to doing something every day. Even if it is only ten minutes I do it. And until I do it each day I am anxious about getting it done – I can see my obsessive compulsive tendencies coming out!
I have a self imposed ban on certain Hardware and garden nursery stores. I tend to buy far too much stuff there – including plants that I let die. I do have a soft spot for pot plants so I have quite a collection. And who can resist some of those beautiful planters? Anyway I have had to lift this ban so that I could fix up my garden. But I have tried to be sensible and only buy what I need and generally I have been fairly good – just a few minor transgretions….
So motivated to reclaim my garden I started at what I thought was the easiest part. The pot plants on one of my verandahs. I have thrown out a lot of plants that really werent that flash (yes actually thrown them out), repotted everything, tidied everything up and moved all the emply pots nd pots where plants have died to my newly claimed potting table. I held a survey of people who used the verandah (my husband) and asked what needed to be done to encourage him (and me) to sit out there more often. When we bought the house I fell in love with the verandah and imagined sitting out there with cups of coffee – which of course hs rarely happened – so a survey was important. We tidied up the table so newspapers could fit (instead of pot plants) and tarted up the couch so it looked more inviting to laze about on. So mission accomplished…
My newly tidied verandah with an inviting (I hope) couch and a breakfast table…
I used to have a vege garden but that had been neglected for years. I decided with raised garden beds it was easier for me to manage – and out of the reach of chooks and ducks. So I ordered two new raised garden beds. They have taken ages to fill as they are quite deep. All the whipper snippered grass has gone in there, all the pot plants that have died and the pots sat there with potting mix in it – and layers and layers of my own rabbit poo mixed with hemp bedding (beautiful compost). I hope to be able to plant them soon – just waiting for the bunnies to produce a bit more poo! My garden bed that I started before I went on holiday has just produced its first lettuce feed – and eating your own produce is great motivation!
The last week or so I have been working on a small garden bed along the drive way… overgrown with lavender and self sown hollyhocks (dont you love Hollyhocks? They always remind me of my Grandpa as he always had them in his garden).
My Wisteria has turned into the man eating plant out of the ‘Little Shop of Horrors’ this year and is galloping over an archway. The area underneath reminded me of my Mums shadehouse where she kept her potplants. Out on the farm with limited water her shadehouse was under the high tank stand, with tamarask tree lashed around the outside and this giant orange creeper that grew over the entire tankstand. It was cool and shaded inside and this area felt the same…. So I have tidied it all up, bought some new plants to go in pots under there (yes I am addicted to buying plants online – did I mention that before?) and t now looks lovely and inviting….
My lovely Wisteria shadehouse and a climbing rose at the top. A herb and lettuce garden and some of my geraniums I have potted up (with a couple of ducks in the background ready to swoop for snails)…
When potting up my many potplants I took a lot of Geranium cuttings….. Several of my friends also collect Geraniums so we are doing a bit of a swap meet in the future….
Thats the progress so far – still have a few more areas to go but it is slowly taking shape. I want to finish the main lot of work before the real heat hits as I now I will lose motivation once summer arrives…
Looking again now at my photos when travelling inspires me again to reclaim my garden…. I will update you in the future when I have done some more…
I did think about calling this my Bucket List but that implies it is a finite list to be ticked off before you die. This is more my current list of things I want to do or achieve – this list can change by adding or taking things off it, some are things that will always be on my list (like travel) and some of the things on my list are very whimsical and light hearted….
Just a little side track from my list to show you how my mind works and why I get distracted and take ages to accomplish anything…. I started this blog about 5 hours ago – thought it might take me 30 minutes to finish. But then once I started writing I thought of the ideal banner for this page (the one above)…. thought I will make my own banner for this …cant be that hard…..
So I looked thru my photos and found something I liked. Too easy! OK now to do the writing on it. Publisher. That’s pretty easy…. so I did the photo and the text and saved it as a jpg. Uploaded it but it was tiny and I couldn’t make it bigger…. mmmmm OK we will use Word. Did it again but it wouldn’t save the picture with the font on it – would just save the picture. mmmmm did some gardening while I pondered. I really want that Banner now so wont let it beat me. OK ask Dr Google. Watch a You Tube on how to put Fonts on pictures. Too easy…. Followed the instructions. Font on picture. Save. Upload. Once again picture with no writing. Can it really be this hard or am I just dumb? (Don’t answer that!) OK back to Dr Google. Search for suitable Apps. Find one. Doesn’t work on laptops only iPads. Found another one. Download. Have a play for an hour or so to figure out how to use it. Finally a Banner made and uploaded. It doesn’t look that wonderful for five hours work… but I did it myself…..
(I can hear you all screaming at your Laptop telling me the easy way to put writing on a photo!! I would love to know – and if you a good App I can use…then I can do more banners in the future)
So back to my list (not in any order of importance just as I think of them)
More Travel – this means I have to keep working to pay for it…but my work is pretty rewarding so can probably manage it. So many places I want to go to – but I hope the US and Canada next time.
Learn History – I’ve always liked History and travelling thru Europe there were so many places and sites I saw that I wished I knew more about. I was wading thru a 10 volume ‘History of England’ but that can get pretty dry – and I have just discovered podcasts. (Have found these podcasts with accompanying website – check it out. History of England) I can sit at work and listen to podcasts on all sorts of subjects – currently doing the War of the Roses. I have found a History or Europe and a History of the Roman Empire so lots to listen to!! lol
Write my Family History/Photo Book – I’ve tried many times to write my Family story…. but I get overwhelmed by the hugeness of the project…. I have just started again so hopefully it will eventually be finished!!
Write my own Family story – The stories of our ancestors are important but so are our own stories. My children will think my memories are great to have – even if I think they are a bit boring! I can remember my Mum saying that nothing she could tell me about her life was very interesting – but how I wish she had written those memories down….
Reclaim my garden – I love beautiful gardens but have completely neglected mine for a couple of years. I saw lots of beautiful gardens in Europe (including Monet’s garden) and just fell in love with the breathtaking window boxes particularly in Germany. I also saw the best back yard vege garden in Slovenia (or do I mean Slovakia) where we went on a home visit and an old Russian lady showed us her back yard which her family lived on for the year.
Get fitter – Any of you that have been following my blog in the past know how much I have struggled with motivation to get fit. You may remember that I got walking poles and started doing walking before I went to Europe. I did manage to lose weight and did get fitter – and I am so glad that I did! I did so much walking when I was in Europe and I know if I hadn’t done that walking training I would not have managed so well. But since I came home my walking poles have stood beside the door (mocking me!!) and not been used. So I want to get back to walking regularly – just to improve my health – and maybe I can listen to my History podcasts at the same time!
Volunteer – I want to do some volunteer work…. not sure in what area yet. There are so many areas that I feel I can contribute in some way….. I first really thought about being a volunteer when I had a pretty scary day at the Breast Clinic at a local public hospital a year ago…. a volunteer tea lady ministered to a roomful of anxious women plying us with smiles and cups of tea…. and I just thought ‘what a wonderful thing to do’….. I did go onto the volunteer website and there was just so much choice and so many different areas and types of volunteering…so need to put some more thought into it before I decide.
Scrapping – I need to find my mojo with Scrapping. All my scrapping stuff is jammed into a small room and so I have very little space to get organised. So that room needs to be reorganised so I can find stuff. My time spent with my scrapping friends is very valuable and so I should be achieving something in that time apart from talking, eating and drinking!! Besides I have about 1000 photos of Europe to organise.
More ME time – I just need to have some ‘chill out’ time. I find it almost impossible to just sit and read without feeling as tho I should be doing something more useful. I have cleaned and tidied up the couch on our verandah to make it look inviting so I plan to sit there and read – or do nothing…. When we bought this house I loved the verandah – and yet we hardly ever sit out there… so I have tried to remedy it by sprucing up the table and chairs so we feel more like eating out there and just ‘vege out’ there!
Start making Bread and Baking again…. I made some muffins the other day and remembered why I stopped baking – and went and bought a new Mixmaster…
Go to the movies regularly…I never go to the movies…need to make it a habit.
Spend less time playing computer games – listen to podcasts instead.
Catch up with friends whenever possible. These days our lives are so busy and it is so easy to not see good friends for ages… and there will come a time when we wish we had made more of an effort. I cant imagine lying in my death bed wishing that I had spent more time working or cleaning – but I can certainly imagine that I might wish I had spent more time catching up with friends and family..
I am sure there are lots more things I could add to this list…. but this looks a fine start! So I need to be more organised and less manic about how I achieve the things I want to achieve. At the moment I am rushing from one project to another – perhaps afraid my manic phase will finish before I have done all the things I need to do…. but perhaps this time I have my ‘One Bite at a Time’ philosophy to keep me on track….
I challenge you all to make a list of the things you want to achieve and we can all work towards them together….
What started out as a personal decision to try and sort out my junk has grown into something much bigger than I could imagine. A couple of ‘before and after’ photos placed on my personal Facebook page resulted in lots of positive comments and a small Facebook group for fellow hoarders trying to sort out their lives…
Then my daughter suggested I do a blog to write about my journey. Knowing nothing about how to do a Blog I did some research and set out on this exciting adventure. Since then so many people have contacted me privately and told me of their own journeys, their successes and failures. I am quite humbled by how my very simple story has inspired others….
So today I thought I would honour and applaud some great achievements.
My Gold Star of the month has to go to Pam. In about a month she has transformed her entire home!!! It makes me feel exhausted just looking at her progress! While I wouldn’t usually recommend such a full-on attack on a whole house it clearly worked for Pam. I know I would go mad for a couple of days, get tired, and the rest of the house would be left untouched. Here are some of her photos…
Laundry Before and after
Living area before and after
Bedroom before and after…
I asked Pam what she felt was her biggest achievements and if she had any hints or dos and don’ts..
Pam said – I would say my bedroom was my biggest achievement. The biggest don’t is don’t do this for someone else, it has to be done for you. This I found saved me resenting people as I cleaned up. Don’t put too much pressure.on yourself. Set small goals. Pick a corner of a room and start there. When deciding what to keep and what to get rid of is ask yourself can you 1. Use it 2. Find a home for it without it being shoved somewhere and 3. Can you be bothered dusting it. Paperwork only needs to be kept for 2 years unless it is legal documents or initial contracts such as insurance. These days everything is stored electronically. Make use of hard rubbish collections. Also take photos of everything that way if you do get rid of stuff you will always have a picture of it. Take lots of photos as you clean up from start during and to finish. Sometimes you get overwhelmed and it feels like you are getting no where. These photos help you to see you are making.progress.
I think these are all great tips – especially about having to do it yourself!! I would hate someone going thru my stuff and telling me what to get rid of…I think you need the control of what stays and what goes…. even if you only throw a few things out it is still a great step forward…
A couple of other special mentions are Mich with a couple of completed rooms..no before photos I’m afraid…
Mich tells me that hidden in this room are two overlockers, 3 sewing machines and a cover stitch hidden on that table area. And that in the kitchen is another sewing machine plus there is the new industrial, currently parked in the middle of the family area. And a new one in the laundry…so perhaps I have an addiction!!
Mich’s laundry with the aforementioned sewing machine…
And the last special mention is another friend of mine who has started to sort out their wardrobe….
So I hope these people’s success stories inspire you! They have certainly inspired me!
And always remember that it doesn’t matter how small or large your goal is, or even whether you reach your goal or not – it is all about doing the best you can and achieving what you can – and then start again and not giving up…
I have been resting on my laurels a bit this month… I am still basking in the glory of finishing my September room (in time for Christmas) that I havent really started thinking about my January room – and we are already a third of the way thru the month.
So I have decided to pick a fairly easy room for January. It is my lounge room. It basically needs a real spring clean and some maintenance and it will be done. Not much clutter in there at the moment.
Part of the work I will need to do is buy a new light for the room. It hasnt had a light for at least 3 years so we use a lamp in there at the moment. Before the light gave up completely it used to fire the globes out across the room – clearly not a well light!! So shopping for a new light will need to be done. When we get the electrician in we will get him to fit hard wired smoke alarms in the house….so that will be another job crossed off the maintenance list.
The curtains will need to be washed (and just quietly I didnt do the curtains in my September room so they will need to be done as well) and I want to get the carpet shampood. And that will be another room done.
My February room is going to be a real doozy so will give myself a quiet month this month.
What room, or cupboard or area are you going to do in January?
My daughter sent me a website address she thought might help with my Blog….. it has lots of ideas about storage and decluttering but there were a few I thought I would find useful
Enlist the Rule of Five every time you clean!
Whenever you’re cleaning a room, get rid of at least five items, whether it’s a piece of trash, an old magazine, or just something you haven’t used in ages. You could also change this rule slightly and try to tidy up just five minutes every say in your allocated room.
Simplify your clothes shopping to this simple question.
I have so many clothes that look lovely in the shop but when I get home they dont look as nice, or I dont have anything to wear with it or just arent comfortable to wear…so they hang in the wardrobe and are never worn…
When you buy a new shirt get rid of one.
This would actually work for everything you buy – one in, one out! Go thru your wardrobe at the end of each season and throw out all the clothes you didnt wear for no good reason – and all those skinny clothes that you know realistically you are not going to ever fit into again.
Use compartmentalised boxes for those little things that you need to keep organsised.
This is a great idea but you also need to have an organised place to keep the boxes where you can quickly find what you are looking for!!! I would have a wonderful time putting stuff in boxes – and labelling them (love labelling things!) – and then never remember where I put the box or forget to restock it….
Fold your bedsheets up and put them in matching pillowcase
I thought this sounded good but I can also see disaster here…for starters my fitted sheets never fold up that neatly! But it would be good not to have to hunt thru the entire linen cupboard to find matching pillowcases!
Keep your discount cards virtually on your phone.
And if you don’t have a smartphone, hole-punching your discount and gift cards and adding them to a single key ring can keep your purse organized.
I actually did this over Christmas – I have an App on my phone (I am trying Stocard at the moment) and put all my Loyalty cards on the phone. It was simple and easy to set up and now instead of looking thru my purse for my card I have them all in my phone.
There are lots of other suggestions on this website but some of them I couldnt see myself doing and some I thought were a bit silly…but if you want to see them all go to
I started this room in September and as I said in my last post I got bogged down doing extra things in there instead of working on the room.
I wanted it completed by Christmas so have worked for hours (10 hours today) completing the room. I am very proud of it!
All the family history boxes (which are hidden under the window in the before photo!) are packed away ready for me to start on that project another time. The scrapbooking albums are all packed away and all the completed pages which were sitting around have been placed in albums. All the paperwork on the floor (my Inbox) has been sorted thru and now in heaps on the desk ready for me to tackle.
And finally a Christmas tree set up for the first time in about 8 years. That is really my only fail as I was so over it after 10 hours that the decorating is a bit sad! I may fix it up a bit tomorrow when I am feeling more inspired…
So enjoy my achievements and be inspired – I certainly am! My January room is a doozy!
When tidying up our houses – and especially when you are trying to de-clutter we are always faced with decisions…… mainly do I keep this or throw it away?
Some of these decisions are pretty easy but some are a lot harder. We cant always keep everything we want to – but we dont want to throw something out and always regret it either!
I am going to start a new line of conversations – and I invite you to participate…..
I invite you to place a photo or a description of some object that you are struggling to make a decision about on my blog. Write the reasons why you want to keep it and why you should get rid of it. Sometimes just writing down these reasons is enough to help you make a decision, sometimes you might need input from others to help you make your decision.
Once you have made the decision you can let us know what you decided and why you decided to make that decision. It may be that someone might come up with a great way to reuse your object as well and you can tell us about that!
I hope this will help us make those difficult decisions a bit easier to make….
One Bite at a Time – supporting each other to tidiness and order….. That was my original inspiration for a blog…… But then I thought that could get pretty boring to write and read – especially considering my ability to procrastinate. So after writing a few posts and considering the direction my posts were going I decided that this affirmation – Take One Bite at a Time – could apply equally to my life as well as the clutter in my home! Being a woman of a certain age, my desire to declutter my home could also be a sign of a desire to declutter and simplify my life – possibly as you start to recognise that you are mortal and that there is less life left to be lived! So this blog will be about decluttering our houses but it will also be about decluttering and simplifying our lives. There are so many of us that are hoarders and live amongst our mess and disorder. We crave a tidy house where we can find everything when we want!! But there are also many others who want to make sense out of our changing lives. We are here to support each other to get our stuff sorted!!