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Where do all the hours in the day go?

Well I’m back again after a short break from blogging.

I haven’t been idle during my absence (chance would be a fine thing!). I have continued to rid my home of unneeded items as I’ve come across them but still feel far from minimalistic.

I have found that I need to involve my family as much as possible with my new way of living. I spent a week noting down how long I spent on each task I ‘have to’ do. – I know, I know, sometimes I can be very sad! It proved to be interesting. I was already aware that I don’t have enough hours in the day to do what I ‘have to’ do let alone what I actually WANT to do but this has clarified where all the time goes. I’ll give you an edited version of my findings:

Laundry – 12 hours per week. I have modern laundry equipment and detergents so I’m not having to carry it down to the river and scrub it all by hand so why does it take up so much of my valuable time? 2 reasons I think: 1. The children put clothes on and then get changed more than once per day sometimes. At the end of the day they just chuck it all in the wash so a lot of what I wash isn’t even dirty. 2. A lot of my time is spent folding and putting away clothes. So, now I’m trying (and partially succeeding) to get them to keep one set of scruffs to put on after school and only put their clothes in the wash when they need it. – Do the ‘look at the front and back test’ followed by the ‘sniff test’. I’ve also been putting a pile of each person’s clothes on their beds and they can put them away themselves. This also helps them to know where all their clothes are when they’re looking for something. Husband’s clothes now look like the leaning tower of Pisa on top of the chest of drawers.

Tidying Up – 9 hours per week. This is just simply picking up things which have been left out and putting them away. This has had to stop.  Each day I now spend 10 minutes walking around the house, picking up anything that has not been put away and piling it all on the culprit’s TV chair/beanbag. They can then not watch TV until they have put all the stuff away. This has worked quite well with the children. They have been trying to keep their things more tidy and have sorted out their books and toys to reduce the amount of stuff they have cluttering up their playroom and bedrooms. We did a big tidy up which took 2 days and they now know where everything ‘lives’ and are spending 10 minutes per day picking up their stuff and, on the whole, their space (and the rest of our home) is a far less cluttered place to be. The person who ends up with the most stuff on his tv chair every day is my husband. He is not really getting it yet. After a week of having a great big heap of stuff to put away every evening before he can watch the world cup, each new day’s pile doesn’t seem to be getting any smaller. It is certainly true that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks ha ha! My tidying up has now gone down from 9 hours per week to 4.

Work – 24 hours. This is my ‘proper’ job as the finance director of our company. This varies depending on the needs of the business and was quite a short week.

Childcare – 12 hours. This is mainly ferrying them around and driving them to and from school. It also includes ‘persuading’ them to do their homework, testing spellings etc. I don’t begrudge any of this but it can be exhausting.

Other Work – 24 hours. This covers cleaning, cooking, filling/emptying the dishwasher, washing up, dog care, shopping, putting out the rubbish, home paperwork/admin. Boring but necessary.

So my working week was 81 hours. 13 hours per day Monday – Friday, 8 hours per day at weekends. No wonder I’m knackered.

My leisure time was a total of 24 hours. This seems a lot but it included sleeping before 10pm or after 6am, eating, showering/bathing, getting ready to leave the house (dressing, makeup, hair etc.), time spent with husband/friends/children, tv, beekeeping, gardening, walking the dogs, time spent online…..what I would really like is some time spent doing absolutely nothing at all.

I think the worst thing is I feel as if I’m on a treadmill, doing the same old stuff which I feel I have to do and never being able to get off it to follow my dreams. I’m 50 next year so I’d better get a move on!

So, apart from the laundry reduction and tidying revolution above, what else can I do to reduce the workload? Any ideas would be greatly appreciated!

Holkham Beach Nofolk

Holkham Beach Norfolk – wish I was there!



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Slowing Down the Decluttering


I have decided to have a short break from disposing of stuff. I need time to take stock and pause for thought. It would be relatively easy to continue to chuck stuff out willy nilly just to meet an arbitrary target which I have set myself.

i don’t see this as failure. I have managed 28 continuous days of getting rid of 1 more thing each day which means I have reduced my clutter by more than 400 things! (See my previous posts for details of what I disposed of where.) I have raised over £100 for charity by selling stuff which was of value. My local charity shops have received numerous donations of items and a few local people have been able to make use of things I no longer need. I can now find the things I need quickly and I feel ‘lighter’ – less weighed down by stuff. I am seriously thinking before acquiring more stuff whether I really need it.


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DAY 28

A bit further on the road to a more minimalist life: I now know where nearly everything I own belongs. There is still too much of it but at least I know where to find most things straight away without spending ages running around like a headless chicken looking for keys/purse/phone/shoes/coat/ipod……

However, I have some doubts as to the value of what I have been doing. When I look at the list of things I have got rid of, a lot of it is rubbish which should have been disposed of straight away rather than tucked away somewhere to gather dust. Am I really reducing my possessions or just chucking out rubbish? I think what I need to focus on once this exercise is finished is actually reducing the amount of belongings I have rather than just decluttering.

I have sorted through my jewellery boxes today. I have put all the broken chains, odd earrings etc. into an envelope to go into a charity collection at school. I’ve put a couple of things into the charity shop bag and thrown away about 6 jewellers boxes and a broken jewellery box. But I’ve still got about 30 necklaces, not to mention all the pairs of earrings, bracelets etc. I don’t even wear much jewellery. The problem is I don’t know yet which pieces to give away and which to keep. So I’ve just put everything away in an orderly way and I’ll revisit this problem later.

I think what I need to do is complete the 30 days and see it as a major clear out of  unnecessary clutter. then, when I can see the wood from the trees, take a look at each and every thing I possess and ask myself if I know it to be useful or believe it to be beautiful. If the answer is ‘no’ – pass it on to someone else who will appreciate it. I’m going through the ‘quantity’ at the moment and I need to move on to the ‘quality’.


My photo today is a sparkling, clear river in which we swam in the summer of 2012 near St Etienne Vallee Francais in the stunning Cevennes region of France.


River in Cevennes, France


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Yesterday, after a couple of days break, I managed to continue with my disposal of unwanted stuff. I sorted out another cupboard in the garage and threw away:

  1. Some odd wall tiles – not enough to do anything with
  2. A used water filter (?!)
  3. A broken shower head (?!)
  4. 2 ancient light fittings
  5. A broken radio aerial
  6. Some more broken christmas lights
  7. Half a tube of solid filler
  8. A perished window cleaning squeegee
  9. Some short bits of plastic plumbing pipe
  10. A heap of used tile spacers 

I put in the recycling:

  1. Some metal cupboard fittings
  2. Some metal door knobs
  3. Some random rolls of wire
  4. Some rusty steel wool
  5. Some odd metal wall brackets

Added to the 11 things I sold/gave away/threw away the other day that’s my 26.

Today the 27 things I disposed of were:

3 things given away via freegle: Pond Liner, pond pump and a set of garden lights.

6 things given to the charity shop: Smoothie maker, a pile of Christmas gift bags, 2 felt Santa Sacks, 3 kids buckets, 2 kids spades and a pile of other assorted sand toys.

2 things recycled: a load of Christmas cards and a roll of scrunched up wrapping paper.

15 things thrown away: Some nibbled paint rollers, nibbled tennis racquets, broken badminton racquets, 3 or 4 ball pit balls, some nibbled plastic cricket stumps, 2 odd plastic boules, a broken kite, some nibbled shuttlecocks, a broken snow brick maker, 2 football marker things, some nibble bits from a tag game, old ice-cream tubs, some nibbled bags, broken garden canes and an old phone charger.

1 thing up-cycled:  Loads and loads of seashells picked up by various children on various beaches over the last 5 years or so. i have put these amongst my alpine plants on my raised bed/rock garden and they look very nice indeed (even if I say so myself!) I will add a photo of said rock garden tomorrow – It’s dark now…



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Day 27 and 28 – extreme failure…but brilliant bees!

For the past 2 days I have been really struggling with a massive headache so my journey towards a more minimalist life has ground to a halt.

I will continue tomorrow with the remaining 15 things from day 26.

Saturday will be my new Day 27.

On the plus side, my bees are doing really well. I have named the queens Victoria and Elizabeth. Victoria’s hive is called Balmoral and the bees are using all 11 frames in the brood box with sealed brood in 6 of them. I have therefore put the queen excluder and my first super on top today. Elizabeth’s hive is called Sandringham and they are also doing very well. This was a smaller Nuc to start off with so they are not quite so far ahead. I have left them with just the brood box for now. They are only using 8 of the 11 frames so far but I’m sure by next week I will be able to put a super on top of this hive too.

Here is a picture of some of my lovely bees:




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DAY 26 – Failure?

Today I have not managed to clear out 26 items. My day has been completely full. luckily yesterday I did manage to get ahead of myself so I have 11 things on my list today.

I have cleared out the cake decorating drawer. I often feel guilty for not making birthday cakes for my lovely children. I never seem to be able to find the time. However, my Mum bakes delicious, creative cakes and loves to do so. Therefore I have cleared out the drawer and thrown away the cake candles(used), the tubes of icing (stale), the cake trimmings and decorations (tatty) and the squashed cup cake cases. I have set aside the unused candles to give to Mum. I have symbolically thrown away the guilt for not being a cake-baking diva and accepted I can still be a good mother. Plus my Mum can bake the cakes and get the pleasure from doing so. The children don’t care where the cake comes from so long as they get one!

Plus the fact my cakes are not exactly the most scrumptious.

I have sold a daylight therapy lamp on ebay for £31.

I have taken some welly liners, a pastry brush and some teeny sun hats to the charity shop and taken a bag of wool to a lady who knits blankets for the special care baby unit at the Queen Elizabeth hospital in Kings Lynn.

Tomorrow I have to find 37 things to get rid of so I will probably spend most of the day in the loft. wish me luck!


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DAY 25 – the great garage clear out continues!

All this stuff has been lurking in our garage. I
have recycled what I could but a lot has had to be thrown away:

  1. Lots of offcuts of wood – firewood
  2. Perished bicycle inner tubes
  3. An almost bald broom head
  4. Loads of collapsing cardboard boxes – recycled
  5. A broken torch (bulb retrieved – still working)
  6. Bits and pieces of packaging
  7. A rusty hand drill
  8. Some old electrical fittings
  9. Short bits of plumbing pipe – recycled
  10. Some broken tools
  11. A broken tool box
  12. A broken base ball bat
  13. A broken bicycle pump
  14. A heap of rusty nails/screws
  15. 3 broken strip lights
  16. Some old electric light switches

My clever daughter has gone through all their pens and sorted out all the ones which have run out. – 1 item.

I have been through the hat, scarf and glove cupboard and have put in the recycling some odd gloves, old hats,caps and scarves. – 4 items.

3 things to the charity shop: a curtain pole, some bath taps and a candle dish.

A grown out of school fleece given to school to sell in the next secondhand uniform sale.

Grand total of 25 things GONE! (And a fairly tidy garage – still more to do though – yawn.)

My photo is another beautiful landscape in Dominica, this time the view which awaited us when we woke up on our first morning in our studio at Liberty Jungle in Belles – stunning.


Liberty Jungle Dominica


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DAYS 23 AND 24

This post is going to be a long list – sorry!

Day 23 I got rid of:

  1. Some coat hangers – given to friend.
  2. Some plastic wine glasses – charity shop
  3. Some more greetings cards – charity shop
  4. A suncatcher – charity shop
  5. A picture frame – charity shop
  6. Some gift bags – charity shop
  7. A DS Game – charity shop
  8. A set of masks to make – charity shop
  9. A curtain track – charity shop
  10. A couple of sew on patches/motifs – charity shop
  11. Some more cotahangers – charity shop
  12. A Nike waterproof never worn – charity shop
  13. 2 glasses which have been stuck together for months – recycled
  14. half a solid bag of cement – landfill
  15. A load of run out pens – landfill
  16. Some broken golf tees – landfill
  17. General usesless bits and bobs from drawer clear out – landfill
  18. A broken tape measure
  19. Some odd greetings cards without envelopes – recycled
  20. some wallpaper offcuts – recycled
  21. Some pictures/craft projects done by my kids (I know, I know… but they do so many and if I kept them all I’d fill my entire house with them. Anyway they are not their stuff!) – landfill
  22. A mess of tangled thread – burnt
  23. Half a dozen squirty bottles of children’s paint – used up by splashing/spreading over the walls of the potting shed. It does look nice and colourful now!

Day 24 – The big garage sort out begins.

This is all rubbish – I’ve recycled where I can, burned things which will not cause too much pollution and put the rest in the dustbin.

  1. Dried up glue
  2. Bits of Cable
  3. Flooring underlay with mouse nibblings
  4. A broken foot pump
  5. A broken decorators spatula/knife/spreader
  6. A mouse nibbled shower curtain
  7. A frayed and mouse nibbled rug
  8. Some broken hose fittings
  9. A broken tennis racquet
  10. Some mouse nibbled sponges
  11. An empty cable reel
  12. Several bits of strummer line too short to do anything with
  13. A broken chicken feeder
  14. A rusty filler gun
  15. Some plastic spoons so brittle that they snapped very easily
  16. Some plastic bowls
  17. Several hard paint brushes
  18. An almost empty tin of ancient paint stripper
  19. Some mouse nibbled polythene dust sheets
  20. A cracked cricket ball
  21. A mouse nibbled plastic table cloth
  22. Some solid filler
  23. A pair of crumbly rubber gloves
  24. A broken garden bird feeder

Mouse nibbling seems to be a recurring theme here. Note to self: I must make sure my bee frames and other equipment are in a vermin proof cupboard/trunk. I imagine beeswax is a bit of a delicacy for mice.


Completely randomly I have decided to put a photo of Batibou beach in dominica on today…enjoy!



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DAY 22

A busy day today – looking forward to tomorrow – nothing particular planned. Just hanging out with my family. – and sorting out more stuff. My house is definitely looking less cluttered and things are now beginning to find a home.

I will put today’s list of 22 items removed from my home in tomorrow’s post. Really, really tired.

Not sure if it is the correct way to blog but I’m going to add my list of things for day 22 now.

So good morning! I’m wide awake now and raring to go (well kind of!)

Yesterday (day 22) I liberated:

Sold on Ebay for £50*:

  • A dog guard for my previous car

Thrown away:

  • Some Storage tubs who’ve lost their lids and lids who’ve lost their tubs
  • An old, flood damaged carpet
  • Some broken picture frames

Returned to the pharmacy:

  • Some out of date medicines
  • Some out of date first aid stuff


  • Some greetings cards who’ve lost their envelopes
  • Some unusable wrapping paper
  • A bag of worn out clothes
  • 2 wrecked kids bikes

Rehomed on Freegle:

  • 20 puzzles split into 2 lots
  • 10 toys
  • A large train set
  • Some colouring Books
  • Some sticker books
  • Some children’s craft sets

Charity Shop:

  • A pair of jeggings
  • A pair of jeans
  • A knitting needle gauge

Given to my Mum:

  • An unopened bottle of over the counter medicine I know she will use and I won’t!

* I have now saved up £135 (so far) from selling my unwanted stuff and intend to donate it to a local homeless charity. I have on Ebay at the moment a daylight therapy lamp. The bids are up to £19 so far so it will be sold in a couple of day’s time. It feels right that other people can benefit in a small way from my unneeded stuff. And it slightly assuages my guilt for my past over-consumption.

Today I’ve posted a photo of some beautiful Bluebell Woods at Stow Bardolph in Norfolk, UK.

Bluebell Woods Stow Bardolph

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DAY 21

Quick list:

Bald Scrubbing brush, broken torch, empty perfume bottles, worn out handbag, bent hula hoop, broken Christmas lights, broken toys, coloured in colouring books, stuck together sticker books, dried up paint pots, non working pens – 11 things all thrown away.

2 Umbrellas, some books, some unused notebooks, a tiny children’s apron, a big roll of velcro and some unused party invites – 6 things to charity shop.

Some slightly out of date food – fed to dogs (does this count?) 1 thing

A pair of tiny riding chaps – sold to friend for tiny daughter – 1 thing

Some ribbons and bows – given to lady who does crafts – 1 thing

And a pile of old school books – recycled 1 thing

And that’s my 21 – phew!

No photo today – no time.