Clutterbuck de-cluttering

Something about the dawn of a new decade and having my flatmate move out seemed to inspire an uncontrollable need in me to de-clutter the flat.

As this nostalgic post suggested, I’m somewhat sentimental and tend to hang on to things for far longer than they’re useful (if they were at all useful in the first place). A couple of weeks ago I spent a Saturday afternoon sorting through boxes of old correspondence (it went back to 1995 – the year we left London) and other similarly nostalgic items. The ones from university years appeared to contain the tickets from every film, play and gig I went to over three years, plus random post-it notes left by friends and motivational messages to myself (yes, I know…). I don’t think there’s anything wrong with this kind of thing. I got a decade of such things into a (large) shoebox and I reckon that’s perfectly acceptable.

At the same time, I made some important breaks with the past. An envelope full of paraphernalia relating to some idiot boy? Gone. Years’ worth of birthday/Christmas cards? Gone.

Tonight was more of the same, this time in my bedroom which I’ve studiously avoided tidying or cleaning, despite the to-do list on the fridge saying in captitals: TIDY & CLEAN BEDROOM. The pile of stuff to go to the charity shop has got bigger (including a number of handbags – be proud). My under bed storage system has been rationalised and craft supplies reorganised. Exciting stuff.

Then I made a discovery – a file of old e-mails. (I know, who prints out e-mails? Well, I had my reasons…) They were very old and should have been prime candidates for chucking out, but I couldn’t do it without reassurance. (Merci beaucoup to Katie for providing it!) They’ve gone, and with it the last of some ridiculous sentimentality.

There’s nothing like getting rid of stuff you don’t need. It actually makes me realise how much rubbish I keep for no particularly good reason. Remember the mix-tapes I mentioned last week? I found several, including one that had been eaten over 5 years ago and which I recreated on CD 4 years ago – why on earth had I bothered keeping it??

All I need to do now is to finish the mission properly, rather than just settling for what I’ve done so far. Procrastinating is evil, but so easy…

Possibly needing to get out more?

I used to worry that blogging about certain things might make me seem just a tad nerdy. Then it hit me, I have a blog and write it regularly, I am already a nerd. There’s no point trying to pretend otherwise. So I’m embracing the nerdiness that runs throughout my life, anyone who doesn’t like it can leave now!

Over the last week I’ve realised that I have moments of being the teeniest bit anal. I need no “Which Friends Character Are You?” quiz to tell me that there are many times in my life when I am Monica. It just comes to something when my own mother is accusing me of needing to get a grip on life!

Those were her words this morning when I informed her that I was planning on spending the afternoon organising my tea. I don’t mean what northerners might refer to as dinner, I mean my collection of teas – loose leaf; bags; herbal; black etc – which is taking up an increasing amount of space in the kitchen. Plus, the ‘tea dumping ground’ on top of the microwave has been in need of a tidy for probably well over a year (gross).

Armed with the office label maker (and instruction manual for any moments when I might need to use brackets or special characters!) and some tins a friend was chucking out, I got to work. An hour (and much satisfaction) later – voila:

In case you’re wondering about the more unusual varieties – Earl Grey with Blue Flowers, Nana Mint, Apple Loves Mint – they’re teas from another wonderful stall at St George’s Market in Belfast, Zuki Teas. They’re very yummy and the main reason why I was very pleased with the individual tea filter I got for my birthday.

The other realisation was to do with my book habit. To be honest, I’ve known for a while that I’m especially anal in this area of my life, but it still shocks me that other people don’t keep their books in some kind of order! I’d blame the two years I worked in bookselling, but to be honest, it’s been a characteristic since birth. I can still remember a time as a child when reorganising my bookcases was something I considered to be a fun rainy day activity!

Many of my friends just don’t get this. The last time I moved house, my books were packed in carefully labelled boxes so that I knew exactly where everything was – “Fiction A-D” or “Hardback Reference” or “Chalet School” – very helpful when unpacking. Helping a friend pack their books the other day I was mystified that they didn’t feel a need for this level of information! (I did insist on identifying boxes that held notebooks as well as books!) But then, he had no system for shelving his books, so I shouldn’t really have been surprised.

So here’s my system…

Bookcase One: Non-Fiction
[With my complete set of Chalet School at the bottom]
History books chronologically, with geographical areas/themes grouped together.
Current Affairs/Travel
Biography (alphabetical by subject)

Bookcase Two: Fiction
Straightforward, authors A-Z

Pretty simple isn’t it? And this way, my books generally look pretty & I know exactly where to find everything. If that makes me a nerd I don’t care, at least it makes me happy!

Having a domestic

By midday today I’d cleaned the bathroom, shopped at Asda & made fudge (in that order). That’s a pretty big accomplishment for someone whose idea of a perfect Saturday morning is lying around either in bed or in front of the TV!

I don’t know if it was the glaring sun (which now seems to have disappeared), or simply the fact that I’d slept badly so was wide awake (I blame upstairs’ screaming baby, the heat and a mind in turmoil…), or simply the pressure of house guests arriving later, but I was well into a domestic groove!

So, about this fudge…my friend Jo’s mentioned malteser fudge over the last week or so & it sounded rather yummy. So when she posted the recipe on Thursday I thought I’d give it a go. Plus, it was my house guest’s birthday a couple of days ago, so she deserved a treat.

I’ll not re-post the recipe, but here are some step-by-step photos. One of the instructions is to “stir vigorously for 4 minutes”, which is surprisingly hard work! But, needless to say, it’s rather yummy, if not necessarily the best thing to eat 24 hours after spending £200 at the dentists!!

Home Economics

I am a domestic goddess.

Ok, I’m not really, but today has been a Saturday of domesticity – much needed after weeks away and a bathroom badly in need of a good clean. Cleaning the bathroom is a strangely satisfying experience!

The crowning glory of my day of domestic bliss has been a banana cake. It’s about the only thing I do on a (semi) regular basis that qualifies as a home-economy. It’s a good thing to make when you have rather a lot of over-ripe bananas. As I hate over-ripe bananas it’s a good way of not wasting them and much yummier.

Taking a lead from Jill, here’s the recipe and some photos of how it turned out:

225g Self-raising flour
¼ tsp Bicarbonate of soda
Pinch of salt
75g Butter/marg
175g Caster sugar
2 medium eggs, beaten
450g Bananas (skin on)
100g Sultanas
– Heat oven to 180c
– Grease tin (loaf tin’s best)
– Mix together flour, bicarbonate of soda & salt
– Cream butter & sugar
– Add egg a little at time, alternating with flour
– Stir in the rest of the flour with the bananas & sultanas. Pour batter into tin
– Place tin on middle shelf of oven and bake for 1hr to 1hr 15mins. (Check after 45mins as cooking time varies depending on your oven.)

Cleaning frenzy!

I was overcome by a strange urge on Friday…I needed to clean, badly.
Not because my flat was filthy, but owing to the fact that I’d just purchased a very exciting cleaning product – it was in a purple bottle & came out pink – doesn’t get much better than that!
Except that it was Cillit Bang, which has to have one of the chessiest ads around. Having said that, it truly works. After a little experimentation on Thursday, I was dying to try it out on my shower!

You’ll be pleased to hear that I resisted on Friday and instead went out & had a life. By lunch time on Saturday my shower was sparkly clean and I was roaming the flat trying to find another patch of dirt to zap….

(And yes, I know it’s the most environmentally friendly product, but I won’t use it all the time – promise!)