I cleaned our oven using baking soda and a vinegar, vodka and orange peel solution, combined with a lot of elbow grease. It came up pretty well and the lack of heavy duty cleaning smells meant it was easy to get right in and scrub.
I’ve consigned some hand towels to the dishcloth stage of life. I cut them, washed them and folded them for use. The edges are a bit frayed but I can live with that.
I’ve grown to really like the Lush shampoo bar I’ve been using. It does the job and I can stretch to about four days between washes. Depending on whether my outfit suits a headscarf, sometimes I can go even longer.
I have fallen down on the clothes front though. I’ve been ruthless about my wardrobe, anything that sparks no joy or is has tiny holes in it or has become too shabby has gone. This has meant a greatly reduced collection of clothes, with the result that I’ve bought new dresses and a top from Cos. I have worn and loved every item. I’m going to try to resist the urge to buy a few more things and instead use what I have left and seek out other options. I have never found anything I like in a second hand or vintage shop, so online browsing is the plan for now.
I’ve broken out my three pairs of Saltwater sandals following some nice weather. This is my third year wearing them, and they’re just as good as new. I’ve decided to bin all my flat shoes, two pairs were never really comfortable and two are too worn to keep as I’ve been wearing them for five or six years now.
I have become slightly obsessed with Sara Berman’s closet. I don’t live in New York and have no plans to go there any time soon, nor do I have any immediate plans to strike out alone in a tiny apartment. I won’t see this exhibit before it closes. I do, however, have a greater and greater love for the kind of pared back simplicity this closet inspires.
I am a work in progress when it comes to possessions. I have drastically reduced the things I own, but there is definitely still room for less. Yesterday I wore a top I hadn’t worn for almost a year. It didn’t spark joy once during the day I wore it, so off it goes.
I noticed that my colour palette has reduced too. I have a lot of blues, greys and blacks, which makes me happy. I wore white and black to the gym yesterday and being in those colours made me feel focused and put together, even when sweating during a weight class.
White isn’t really my colour (too pale and interesting for it to make me look anything other than washed out) so I won’t be following Sara Berman down the all-white route. However, I can see the sense of joy in having a co-ordinated wardrobe, in the fact that everything always matches and looks clean and fresh, especially when folded with precision.
I think Marjorie gave us some of advice Marie Kondo is currently spreading around the world back in the 1930s. She tells us clutter is at outdated as modesty and that no one can live with musty heirlooms without becoming a bit musty herself. She advised that perhaps you didn’t need to spend a lot of money to improve your living quarters and that the best thing to do before opening your wallet was to clear out the clutter, give away the junk you don’t like and scrub the place clean. One of her cases like a ‘clean, scrubbed look’, a look to which I am becoming increasingly partial.
Our rooms are all painted the same colour and all our floors are wooden, which I love because they get dusty, you can see the dust and you can get rid of it. I tidied my bookshelves last night and the reorganisation resulted in more books going off to places new, discarding a few that were past any more rereads and more of a clean, scrubbed look overall. Marjorie cautioned us to keep our homes places to which we’d want to return, lest we succumb to having to decide Will I Or Won’t I, a problem which she says every woman has to settle for herself.
She’d agree with a lot of the current craze for minimalism and keeping only the things you love and which spark joy, even if she probably never considered that idea. She’d probably be more brusque and less sympathetic about why you’d want to keep something that looks like junk, but I think a ‘clean, scrubbed look’ is something many can relate to wanting.
I made a big pavlova for dessert over the weekend. It’s my failsafe, tried and tested dessert but the only problem is the leftover egg yolks that invariably end up going off in a jar in my fridge because I didn’t fancy carbonara within a day or two. This week I’m off work and, therefore, feeling, as Marjorie might have put it, a little domestic. I bought some lemons today and whipped up a big jar of lemon curd. It’s a delicious balance of sweet and sharp and the colour glows nicely. Yummy.
I use a similar recipe to this, but I always use whatever egg yolks I have and throw in one whole eggs. I learned the hard way this is not something to make in a rush. The slower you go, the better.
Having had some time to declutter and reorganise some more, I’ve found some of the things I need to help me along with our zero waste holiday plans. I knew we had more vacuum bags than I had folded away and lo and behold some turned up when I sorted a random box of crap and more turned up when I did a job on our attic space and realised I was ready to let go of more things belonging to another phase of my life which would spark more joy if used by others than if stored for months ‘just in case’.
Packing everything in vacuum bags rather than in suitcases was probably our best packing decision last year. The bags took up no room and kept everything clean and dry en route, then took up no space and-or were pressed into use as laundry bags. We didn’t have to worry about how to squeeze suitcases into the tiny mobile home and our packing to come home was easy as we could squash everything around all the boxes of wine we picked up.
I also found our bedlinen that works fine for a more rustic holiday and which can do double duty wrapping things on the journey home. I might invest in a travel kettle this year because last year we wasted a lot of money and disposable cups on very mediocre tea and coffee. As we bring a picnic bag on board with us, packing two cups and some snacks makes financial and environmental sense.
I also found many summer tops I had totally forgotten about, plus a kaftan that I was sure I’d donated. I’m currently using some of the tops for the gym and I’ll see how I feel about them for summer. An old pair of jeans turned up too, I had been looking for them as they’ll make great shorts once I cut the legs off. The legs parts can be used for cleaning.
The slightly odd workplace traditions prevalent in Ireland meant both of us were off work today. I made it back to the gym for the first time in over two weeks – a bad back kept me away and it was tough to get back into the swing of kettlebells but worth it for the endorphins.
I’d also planned on using the bonus of an extra day with the two of us here to do some more decluttering and reorganising. There’s always clutter, be it the three jars of eye cream you packed, moved, unpacked and reorganised but never actually used, or the old scarf that might be useful someday even though you use the new one all the time, or the odds and ends that turn up and don’t have a permanent home.
Today was a good Friday. We got rid of more stuff, we rearranged things a little better and we have the knowledge that the rest of the weekend is still free for us to enjoy. Life is easier with less, I just need to keep reminding myself of this. It helped that during the latest attic declutter I came across some old summer tops that are perfect for the gym until I feel I’ve earned a nice new set of gym clothes once I reach my goals.
High on my to-list for the next couple of weeks thanks to a lighter than usual work schedule was even more decluttering and organising. I know I should have been done with all of this by now but various life events have meant that some things are still stored ‘just in case’. Today I consolidated some of the stuff, most of it is going off to the charity shop, some is in the WTF pile and will be tossed unceremoniously into the clothes recycling bank tomorrow and whatever was left has been squeezed into one and a bit storage bags.
I’ve rearranged some wardrobe space, found stuff I really shouldn’t have forgotten about that needed a new spot or to be discarded, dusted the shelves and felt a little better. Tomorrow I’ll offer some of the useful to others but not to me right now things to others who might be interested and I’ll enjoy knowing they’ll be headed off to be used instead of stored.
I continue to cling onto some things that are neither beautiful or useful despite my own thoughts which are very much shared by others. I know at heart I am a natural hoarder, I love stuff and now I don’t have to pare down because our space is so much larger. I guess the more minimalist side of myself is winning a bit though because even since I started writing this post I’ve made up my mind that some of the ‘maybe’ things can go.