The house is a mess. And because it’s spring, I care, and I have the energy to do something about it!
I can’t control some of it – we’re running a small business from the house now, and right now that means we have a lot of extra things being staged in what feels like every corner of the house. That’s something that I can live with, in service of a greater good. But there are other things that are a mess that I can take responsibility for. There were some random bits and bobs tucked in random places that have been bothering me – those things that tend to end up in junk drawers, things that I can’t quite get rid of, but don’t have a good home for. So a couple of weeks ago I got started on finding a place for everything and putting everything in its place.
I pulled everything out from my built-in bookcase that wasn’t actually a book.
I gathered all of the bags that I was having doubts about.
I gathered all of my camera accessories which were on the bookcase with my cameras.
I pulled everything out of my “junk” drawer, which was actually the drawer with my extra stationery and wallets, pouches, glasses cases, and other occasionally used miscellany.
I put everything together on and around the hibachi in the living room, a central spot where I could slowly work through everything and find proper homes for it. (Sorry, I didn’t take a picture.)
And then I sorted through the piles, a little each day, or when I felt like it.
I found that I have a LOT of notebooks, both empty and partially filled. Many were lovely gifts from lovely people. A few were hubby’s corporate swag. Many of the empty ones are going to be passed on to people who can use them. The half filled ones are either packed away in my suitcase full of diaries, or have had the used pages ripped out (and stored or recycled, depending on content), so the unused portions can be given away. I rediscovered one notebook in my suitcase that I was unsure about – my Walls notebook. But when I opened it up I loved the pages I had done in it, so I’m using it again. I go through phases with these things.
I also have a LOT of incense, considering we haven’t burnt incense in a year or more. My husband told me he loves incense, so we’re going to make an effort to burn it more often. I’m keeping it in the hibachi which has a small storage space (useless for almost anything besides incense packages, but wooden, so it will absorb the smell wonderfully) and I can put the burning incense on the glass top.
As you may have seen recently on this blog, I have a lot of bags. I also have a ton of pouches and a few wallets and a lot of furoshiki. I was able to sort out quite a lot of bags that weren’t living up to their potential, including some thrifted ones, some that were passed on to me, and one that I made, and they’re going to the thrift store. I already gave one to a friend who had admired it, and another to Dress for Success. The bags I am keeping cover pretty much every need I will have. I might upgrade my backpack. I might fix my striped madras cotton bag – I didn’t do a very good job on the handles. I have a favorite everyday purse now, so I don’t feel like I need so many different bags any more.
I was able to consolidate all the furoshiki and pouches and wallets and foldable bags into one African basket.
When I was reviewing my progress I started musing about the empty drawer in the sideboard and how people store their cameras and the many accessories that come with them. I have my cameras stored on the top shelf of the built-in bookcase. They fit there fine, but it was a dark spot, too deep and tall to really feature the cameras the way I wanted. They were also fairly visible from the front door or window, and I worried that a thief might not realize that they are mostly cheap junk cameras, not worth stealing. So when I thought about moving my camera bits & bobs to the spare drawer in the sideboard, I realized that the cameras could go on the top shelf, which would feature them a lot better. I rearranged some family photos and a few random display items (tea cups, small dutch oven) that could be housed in the kitchen, and now I have all my camera things in one spot, neatly and beautifully arranged. The gap at the right is for the dSLR I used to take the photo. My camera cases fit in the lower cupboard too!
And here are where all my accessories and film fit, right below the cameras, right above the bag/case storage, right in the heart of the “Department of Doing” that is our dining room. (The photo cut out of frame right above this text ^ is a sign we found in NZ that says “Department of Doing” – which is actually an ad agency.)
As I was rearranging a few other things I came across the beeswax candle one of my friends from Japan gave me. I had always admired it – it came with an explanation about how pure and special and healthy it was – but I had only burned it one time, because we’re really not candle people. We have lamps on in the evening and we watch TV, so why burn a candle? It just seemed redundant. And I hate scented candles (they make me feel like I’m choking on fragrance!) But this candle only has a natural honey/beeswax scent, so it had that going for it. I sat down at the computer to find out a bit more about its claims to health and wellbeing, planning to give it to a friend who would love it. But in the end I decided that I didn’t want to give it away. I wanted to enjoy it like my friend intended when she gave it to me. I read about how it could purify the air and relieve stress, and hubby sure as hell needs some stress relief, so I lit it and enjoyed it. I’ve lit it during the day and in the evening, regardless of the light or TV being on, for the last few days. I’m actually planning to replace our emergency candles with slow, clean burning, beeswax votives after reading what they had to say about paraffin candles (yuck!). So I’m keeping this candle and passing on a couple of others that are scented and paraffin based.
I’ve been able to rearrange my bookcase a little bit and I only have a couple of things that aren’t books or photo albums on the shelves now. And nothing is frivolous or junky – I just added a few decorative items, deliberately chosen. I have some empty space on the shelves, but it’s hidden behind the armchair. I’m not a big fan of empty space on bookshelves! but I don’t need more books either. I’m quite happy with the amount of built-in shelf space we have and how (half) full it is.
I have a couple of things that are still looking for permanent homes – an empty photo storage box, a large empty African basket, a pile of NZ music CDs (which I have digitized, but which no one wants), some instagram prints in a box, and my sewing basket. I hope to find good homes for everything eventually.
Two bags of stuff are going to the “free table” at work or the thrift shop, and countless things were put away in sensible homes. The house is still messy, but I feel like I accomplished a lot.
Do you spring clean? Or spring declutter?
What kind of things do you find it difficult to provide homes for?