The final frontier

So this is it – the end of the month of reJanimation!  I couldn’t be more pleased of what we’ve achieved this month, and all for what turned out to be relatively little effort and under £100 expenditure. 

Bathroom: totally reorganised, new storage, ‘new’ bin, toys tidied away

Spare room: wardrobe w/drawers sorted (two drawers empty), chest of drawers sorted, all under bed stuff organised, sewing things organised, knitting/crochet stuff organised, dressing table cleared, toiletries sorted and brought into use, make up ditto, 49 bobbles stored in bobble box!

J’s room: new storage bought, all toys organised, books on shelf, unused items put back into boxes for storage, corner of miscellaneous rubbish cleared, pictures hung, metal noticeboard from kitchen reused for magnetic letters

Landing: airing cupboard organised, spare bedding stored, whole shelf empty

Master bedroom: side tables cleared, general junk removed, new wastepaper basket, my chest of drawers sorted

Study: completely tidied and organised (my husband’s big job)

Stairs and hall: pictures hung, curtains hung over door, pushchair stored away, basket installed for shoes/hall stuff

Under stairs: completely cleared of junk, storage reorganised, CDs put together, photos all in box/albums, bags on old racking from bathroom , coats and shoes sorted through, extra hooks added, old coats washed

Dining room: toys organised, expedit cleared (one basket empty), paperwork system created, sideboard completely reorganised (drawers for cables, place mats, candles, stationery, cupboards for J’s drawing stuff, unused frames, pen/stationery box, battery/bulb box)

Kitchen: tea towel drawer sorted, cake decorating gear together, two cupboards reorganised, baskets for veg organised, space by door sorted and cleared

Utility room: high shelves sorted, room made for ‘spare’ box to put extra tins/packets, rubbish removed

And a million tiny jobs you wouldn’t even notice but make the house run more smoothly.  I don’t think I did anything in the living room but it was OK to start with. 

That’s one month’s work.

I never felt overwhelmed or like stopping, for a few reasons – one, part of ReJanimate was that anything counts.  Folding some t-shirts could be a day’s task if you’re tired or busy.  Two, it got so much easier as I went on, as more and more things found a ‘home’.  When I sorted the drawers of cables I was able to make piles of the extra stuff I found and say definitively where it all should go – so simple!  Three, the more I did, the more I wanted to do.  Everything looks better.   And four, avoiding making lists worked really well. There’s no looking back now and thinking ‘oh, I never got round to that,’ and feeling like a failure.  Of course there are always more things to do, but there’s also more days in which to do them.

I also realised that the house was not, actually, full of crap.  Sure, I threw out a lot of bags of rubbish, but it was all either packaging, broken or obsolete stuff.  There was hardly anything that was just useless or unwanted.  So my original aim, to reuse unused stuff, has really been achieved.  I have a much clearer idea of what we have in the house and what we need (pretty much nothing!).

I ended on an absolutely classic ReJanimate today – something that summed the whole thing up.  Our bottom drawer in the kitchen was a dumping drawer, but so was one of the drawers in the welsh dresser. So I emptied both drawers, refined and amalgamated the contents into the welsh dresser, moved the pans into the bottom drawer, realised the pan cupboard had a higher shelf than the other cupboard, thus moved the big boxes of cereal off the top of the wall units into there, chucked out all the expired cereal, moved the condiments into the shelf above the cereal and that freed up a full cupboard for multi packs of crisps, bottles of squash etc.  Phew.  Again, not much work, not hard, free…but still, it hadn’t been done!

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January 31st: reJanimated kitchen shelves and cupboards.

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The Cable Girl

You may remember that yesterday I said all the jobs that were left were small ones – well, that’s true enough, but a small job isn’t always the easiest!  Today I tackled a small but deadly job that I had been putting off – the cable drawer.

No, wait, it was worse than that – the cables drawers.  Plural.  Ack.

Two drawers containing two tangles of cables like a robot version of Saw.  And I know its trite, but, seriously, HOW do they get like that?  How?  I didn’t carefully wind them all up together so HOW? Actually, my old friend Jerome K. Jerome speaks for me on this issue:

There is something very strange and unaccountable about a tow-line. You roll it up with as much patience and care as you would take to fold up a new pair of trousers, and five minutes afterwards, when you pick it up, it is one ghastly, soul-revolting tangle.
I do not wish to be insulting, but I firmly believe that if you took an average tow-line, and stretched it out straight across the middle of a field, and then turned your back on it for thirty seconds, that, when you looked round again, you would find that it had got itself altogether in a heap in the middle of the field, and had twisted itself up, and tied itself into knots, and lost its two ends, and become all loops; and it would take you a good half-hour, sitting down there on the grass and swearing all the while, to disentangle it again.
That is my opinion of tow-lines in general. Of course, there may be honourable exceptions; I do not say that there are not. There may be tow-lines that are a credit to their profession — conscientious, respectable tow-lines — tow-lines that do not imagine they are crochet-work, and try to knit themselves up into antimacassars the instant they are left to themselves. I say there may be such tow-lines; I sincerely hope there are. But I have not met with them.

Bit of culture for you there, what?  Tow-lines, USB cables, ’tis all the same. 

And does any household need seven pairs of Apple ear buds, aka the Worst Headphones in the World? I mean, they really are tremendously shit but it seems awful to throw them away.  Anyway I kept them, in case one day seven people come round and all want to borrow some headphones for the train home.  It could happen.

It was a shock to realise how much of the stuff in there was simply obsolete – all manner of Scart related leads and adaptors, phone extension cords, aerial boosters and coax cable, AV cables and things that were once part of my daily life but are now just junk.  When I started teaching media 10 years ago we used scart adaptors and av leads all the time – in fact I used to spend a good proportion of my time connecting analogue cameras to video players and portable TVs, and it wasn’t as if that seemed old-fashioned then.  But now of course it’s entirely digital.  We barely even use DVDs.  Crazy!  So out it all went.

I kept timer plugs, some USB leads, a couple of spare ac adaptors (I find these do come in useful sometimes!) And the travel plugs but that’s about it.  A pointless photo as it still looks like a drawer full of cables but I threw a whole bag of stuff away!

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January 30th: reJanimated the cable drawers.

Living in a box

Well, the jobs that are left are all fiddling and small, which is just as well because that leaves time to get my Modern Family on, but they can still make a big difference.

So, like, we totally had a box for crap in the hall, yeah, for like letters and stuff, and then I kept trying to put all gloves and shiznit like that in it, but it was too small for gloves, and then I put a bigger box in the hall and yeah, the gloves TOTALLY FITTED IN IT WTF and so I moved the other box to the kitchen near the door and BAM I cleared the hell out of that area and now it is TOTES TIDY.

That was tiring to write.

But it is totes tidy.

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January 29th: reJanimated kitchen door area

Up, upcycle and away!

This blog features a guest appearance from my new sidekick, my sewing box! I’m not saying I’ve organised everything there is to do – is that even possible? – but I have certainly finished all the major jobs in the house, so today I turned my attention to my craft stash.

I’d had the idea for a quilted Nexus 7 case for a while, and as I found all sorts of cool vintage-patterned fabrics when I sorted my stash, I decided to have a go. Now, bearing in mind I’m not actually great at sewing and did this all by hand, I think it came out ok (the top is wonky, I admit, but either that’s an augur of next season’s look for accessories – “wonky is the new straight” etc etc – or you can just look at it at a bit of an angle) considering I haven’t done any proper sewing for a long time:

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I am not quite the new Cath Kidston yet but I feel my worldwide empire can hardly be very far off. Anyway I think it’s a good job for an hour’s work on a Monday night!

January 28th: rejanimated some fabric into a Nexus case

A fresh coat

Looking at the weather forecast for this week, I could see that it’s going to turn from freezing to practically spring-like in the space of a few days.  As has already been discussed in this blog,  my winter coat is seriously warm, so I started thinking about alternatives.  When I did under the stairs, I rediscovered a couple of old coats – one of them a purple smart coat I had a few years ago.  I was actually about to sling it on the ‘throw it out’ pile as I thought it looked musty and faded, but the ever present spirit of ReJanimate guided my hand and I found myself compelled to put it in the washing machine instead.

It came out great, so off I strode to my sewing box (which should by now be given a supporting role in this blog – who knew it would be such a faithful companion along this road?) to sew on the many missing buttons (which is when I remembered why I stopped wearing it in the first place), give it a good press and snip off a few pulled threads.  It’s really as good as new and I feel really happy to have a ‘new’ coat! 

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Once again, one task has led to another one, but in a happy way.

January 27th: reJanimated an old winter coat.

Where’s me wash bag?

So, your bathroom is organised, your dressing table is tidy, you have all the toiletries and make up you need – and then you go away for the weekend lugging a grubby old wash bag full of the same old stuff.  This weekend I’m away and in preparation I reJanimated my wash bag.

Now, I’ve reached that age when every other present I get is toiletry based – that doesn’t bother me because I love toiletries and love not paying for them even more, but you do end up with a lot of little bags that don’t necessarily get used. Meanwhile, all the time I was lugging around my stuff in a bag with a bust zip!

I cleared it all out, found a new bag that worked better, went through my stash of travel sized/spare toiletries and got rid of all the dirty cotton wool and stuff at the bottom of the bag, and voila!

A weekend away without a bag full of random, half-used crap!  Incredible.

January 26th: reJanimated my washbag

Why keep keeping?

Do you keep keeping things? You know what I mean – you’ve dutifully rejanimated a box or drawer only to find those items you just can’t part with, yet can’t think how to use. So you keep them, and keep them, and keep keeping them… And they just stay there forever.

I’ve been guilty of this and of course rejanimate is a great way of bringing them out and back to life again. You sometimes have to think a bit laterally though – use things in a different room, in a different way, whatever.

So as I have no time for an organising rejanimate today, I dug out some
Mucha postcards I bought in Prague and brought them into school. I’d made a vaguely art nouveau display and I put them up next to it – look good there, don’t they? And they remind me of a fab holiday years ago in Prague, which cheers me up sometimes! A win-win.

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There we go – don’t keep keeping things, start using them!

January 25th: rejanimated some postcards.

Showing my drawers to the world

A busy weekend ahead of us, so the next few tasks will be smaller ones; I feel OK about that, though, after the mammoth under-stairs job!

Today to tackle one of the recurring issues in this house – the fact that every drawer has turned into a junk drawer.  It seems that no matter what, they get stuffed full, but that’s at least partly because we never had places for some things. So, as it turned out, 90% of the drawers in the house contained at least one hair bobble, at least one pair of scissors, at least two red pens, a handful of curtain hooks (WHY?), etc etc.  With all of those things removed, suddenly they’re not so much junk drawers any more.

So I decided to tackle the bedside cabinet drawers.  Again, this was a great example of the whole bigger project paying off, as nearly everything I touched I could instantly find a home for!  Maybe some of you live like this all the time, but not me.  It was a great feeling to use one of my pound shop boxes to store the battery charger and all the rechargeable batteries I found and it’ll be even greater the day I need them and I know where they are!

Here’s my revamped, minimalist bedside cabinet drawer:

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Isn’t that sweet?  Like living in a hotel.

I also did my underwear drawer but I’m not posting a picture of that on the internet.  (Although TOP TIP ALERT- wind pairs of tights round your hand and tuck the toes in the middle for a tangle-free drawer!)

January 24th: reJanimated bedside drawers.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

Today’s task is one of those annoying ones where it really doesn’t look like you’ve done anything at all but I really really have!  Basically after arranging under the stairs yesterday I decided to take the very brave step of venturing back under to organise the contents.  Of course, this involved getting most of it back out again, but as we know, the beauty of the incremental nature of ReJanimate is that this time, it was loads quicker as everything had a place to go to.

I had freed up a plastic tub yesterday so I put a load of CDs in there as they were slipping all over the floor.  Behind the racking I put things that are genuinely under there for long-term storage and I also put some more hooks into existing wall plugs to hold coats etc higher up.  I took some spring jackets upstairs and hung them in the spare wardrobe (where there is now space!)  and stuck all the shoes in the show cupboard and basket (after getting my husband to throw away some of the six pairs of old trainers he had under there…).  Add a bag for scarves and one for gloves and hats and it’s done!  Phew!  Also, we have a lot of scarves and gloves, which makes it all the more crazy that last week, when it was -8c I had to walk to work in mismatched gloves because I couldn’t find a pair.  And even they were both left ones 😦

Also, hey! I now have 45 hair bobbles!

So no picture as it really looks the same as yesterday.  But it is not the same,  oh no.

January 23rd: did the final under-stairs ReJanimate.

Underneath the stairs is a place where I ReJanimate….

Today’s photo doesn’t look much like an after photo, I must admit. But it doesn’t matter, because it represents the day I took on a great and noble task, one written about in days of yore – rejanimating under the stairs.  Confession: I started doing this the other day and completely lost hope and gave up after a little cursory sorting.  But thinking about it today, I tried to bear in mind the important ReJanimate creed – you don’t have to do it all at once. Sure, its a big job, but it doesn’t have to be done in one go, and according to the rules of ReJanimate, anything you do is a success.

So I thought some more, and I realised one stumbling block was a big basket that got shoved under there when we redid downstairs, which was large, heavy and full of magazines.  Well, I considered, that’s easy to fix – I can take some to school to use, some are for stashing with my knitting stuff and some can go to a friend.  Underneath those, I found a load of really old travel brochures, so I recycled them, and pretty quickly, the basket was empty.  Job done.

The best thing about rejanimate is that this now counts as a day’s task completed, so the pressure’s totally off.  I still had energy though, so I went for it!  I moved the shoe cupboard from the bottom end to near the top, turned the shelves 90° (which blocks off the end but we never, ever used that part anyway),  put all my bags on a rack I took out of the bathroom and ended up with room for the hoover and, crucially, the other pushchair. 

Now, it isn’t finished – the shelves need organising and so do the baskets, and I obviously – obviously – knocked a box of poker chips all over everything immediately, but that’s all a job for another day. Or more than one day!  It’s OK!

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January 22nd: reJanimated under the stairs.