2016 items in 2016

Now there's a few things that MOH says that simply fill me with dread; one of them is "we need to have a clear out" because while he says that, what I hear is "we need to clear out some of your junk!"

We have a different philosophy towards things, while neither of us like to throw things that work perfectly well away, I have a tendency to find an alternative use for something, or a reason to hang onto them a little longer. 

Remember my allotment shorts with the hole? Yes, exactly.  

And I do tend to have more things than MOH as well. So it's been building up and I knew it was coming. Then last we he said.

We need to have a clear out... 

To be fair he has a point, but still I'm hearing my version of those words.

I read recently (I forget where) of someone who while decluttering their life committed to throw away the same number of items as the year - so 2010 items in 2010, 2011 items in 2011 and so on - until they reached the optimum number of things for them.

And I wondered how that might work for us. 

Now I'm not planning on making this an annual exercise - or at least I don't think I am - but I am curious as to what the number might be. So with Spring around the corner and the tidy bug rising I'm going to keep a count of the things we get rid of. 

2016 items in 2016

Keeping count

So I mentioned my intention to MOH casually, like you do, and his reaction was that it seemed a bit extreme!  See, I can't win [smiley face].

He (bless him) thought we probably didn't own that many items, or at least that many we wanted to get rid of.  I however suspect we might (that's the Royal we there) but he's just oblivious to it, clearly I could have convinced him he was wrong but well, we all know that in married life it's important to choose where and when to put our OHs right. 

And isn't it funny how we somehow have switched roles?

Now there's a challenge and a number to aim at I'm looking at things in a new light and things I no longer need, won't use again or are seriously past their best (and I can see no viable use for) are being rounded up. MOH soon recovered his position though and is threatening a t-shirt cull - as long as he counts them, I'm fine with that.

A spreadsheet for that

I also happened to mention that I had a very clever spreadsheet to help track the number of items we get rid of and what our new target is. I've kept it simple - it can be a bag of things to the charity shop, as long as I know the number of items it has in it, I'm fine. I don't need to detail every single item, although I did briefly consider it.

He knows me well and wasn't surprised to learn there was a spreadsheet, so we're currently going through the enthusiastic, teasing and annoying stage where I'm constantly being asked if it's in my spreadsheet. I know him well too, and he'll soon get bored and then he'll think it's useful.

So this year I'm going to see how close we can get to getting rid of 2016 items. That can be by giving things away, selling them, donating to charity or if they're past their best throwing them away. 

However tempting it is I won't be including things that we'd normally throw away because that would defeat the object - although if I'm very close to the target later in the year I might revise that!!  We'll see how we go.

I'm also conscious that it's the middle of March already and so I've missed the start of the year but, hey that's where we are and I don't think even I can wait until January 2017 to start this!  

88 items down already

So after a clear out of our bookshelves following their DIY makeover and generally rounding up things already earmarked for the charity shop I've already got rid of 88 items, with another twenty or so at least ear-marked for similar treatment.

So with just the 88 items gone already, my total is already down to 1928 items left to find... Wish us luck - I'll let you know (every now and then) how we get on!

Do you think us brave, mad or is this something you'd consider as well?  Leave a comment and let me know

A DIY makeover for my bookshelves

And hopefully a slightly more interesting post than that title sounds!

In our study (aka my craft room) we have two Billy bookcases and two of those shelves are devoted to my collections of Good Food and Olive magazines which are growing. The oldest magazine dates back to 2003, a year after we bought this house and clearly when my recipe know-how was starting to fade a bit...

And with so many magazines, it was getting hard to keep them upright so I had a plan.

I headed off to the big orange DIY store clutching my measurements and managed to get there on a day when the big cutting machine was working. Handing over the sizes I wanted cut I waited for the man to do his stuff and left with lots of smaller bits of MDF!

Back home I got to work to insert the cut MDF as uprights

installing uprights

Even though my measuring - and the cutting - was accurate, there were some variations between the space and the MDF upright, so I added some draught excluder to the top of the MDF to help wedge it in place.

filling the gap

This worked well and ensured the uprights stood firm, and I took a moment to work out what to do next.



uprights installed

That was to carry on and repeat this for the second shelf before putting the magazines back in place.  I've left the MDF unfinished and unpainted as it's already a close match to the colour of the unit, and I think it works well.

With the uprights in place, there was only one thing left to do - and that was to step back and admire my morning's work.

magazines back on the shelf

It looks like there's enough space for my subscriptions to carry on for a little while yet!

Holiday prep: Tickets, information, reading and learning the lingo

In the past week the tickets and information for our cycling holiday to Bavaria have arrived, which I guess means it's really happening. Their arrival also prompts another burst of excitement and equal amounts of trepidation about our trip, a look to make sure everything's as I expected and another scan through the checklist of the things we'll need to take with us.


On this trip, one way or other we'll be cycling a minimum of 224 km over six days - eek that's the first time I've added it all up, and now it sounds an awful lot! I think that'll be our minimum as I'm sure we'll take some planned (and more likely) unplanned detours during that time...

Practical preparations 

We've had some practice recently too, with a few days in Norfolk clocking up some bike miles. I'm glad we did as from that I learnt:

  • My bike saddle is very comfortable and padded. And while I have my own inbuilt padding that I'll be taking with me, I don't know how comfortable the hire bike saddle will be, so I've ordered myself a gel padded seat cover incase I need it. 
  • Flies and insects appear to aim for cyclists open mouths and eyes. While I can take action on the first of these, I think I'll be well advised to keep the latter open. So with that in mind I've bought some new sunglasses with a lighter tint on the lens which I hope will work if the weather's not too sunny.
  • In Norfolk we caught the sun, even though it wasn't overtly sunny and I ended up with some rather unattractive tan lines; while they've faded it's not something I want to repeat, so the suntan lotion will also be in the case and close to hand (that means in MOH's panniers) while we cycle. 
  • Wet wipes are also bought and ready to pack because, well because you never know when you might need them do you?
  • We'll be cycling for six days and so will need clothes for that and while I don't wear full cycling gear (unless pedal pushers count!) I am considering buying some tops that have the technology to do the magic wicking thing, but only ones that'll avoid a repeat t-shirt tan incase the weather's warm. 
  • We'll also need clothes to change into when we reach the hotel, and something to wear out to dinner too; plus our swimmers as at least one hotel has a pool (which might be much appreciated for recuperation purposes!) Add to that a couple of days in Munich once the cycling's done and it's all starting to add up, though as we're staying in four different hotels we can at least recycle some of our outfits!
  • Although I'm not big on full cycling gear I do wear a cycling helmet which I'm taking with me. Add to that a larger-than-I-normally-use water bottle and the same for MOH, a small cycling toolkit and a puncture repair kit then it all starts to add up. And that means just checking one bag into the hold probably won't be enough, not even with my Master of Packing skills.  

Learning the lingo

When we travel we also like to have learnt at least a few basics of the language too, apart from being rude not to, we find it helps us feel more comfortable and enjoy our holiday more. It's not a lot but it's amazing how much you can pick up in a short amount of time whether that's before you go or even while you're away.

Our basics usually include: hello, goodbye, please, thank you as well as days of the week and numbers, asking how much something is, how to pay the bill and how to order something to drink whether that's water, tea, coffee, red wine or beer and the word cake often features too. Yes that pretty much sums up the essentials for us! 

At restaurants I'm often found thumbing through the menu reader section of our phrase book to ensure I'm not ordering something I'm allergic too - that's mostly seafood - and because I like to know what to expect to see in front of me. And although I had German lessons at school (until I took my options) very little of it has stuck and I don't think my schoolgirl German will really cut it. Frau James, I'm sure won't be surprised to hear this, so for this trip I'm learning some German using an app - I'll let you know how I get on!

Pre-holiday reading

As well as learning some basics of the language I'm also reading the travel books I bought a while back. Partly so we know something about the places we'll visit and partly so I can plan the few days we have in Munich. And although we're only cycling some of the Romantic Road (Romantische Strasse) when I saw this older book - prices are still in Deutsche Marks - I thought it may come in useful, if not for this holiday perhaps for another trip.

holiday reading.jpg

And that reminds me, I've still to sort out some holiday reading - what would you recommend?

The Reading Residence

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