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.

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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.

I love it when a plan comes together

I have 42 hair bobbles. No, wait, there’s one in my hair, so 43. Unremarkable, I’m sure, especially for those of you who are regular Rockerfellers and own hair bobbles by the handful, but let me tell you this – before I started rejanimate, there were times when I couldn’t find a single hair bobble, was running round the house grabbing elastic bands, bits of string, cable ties, anything to hold my hair back. Simply by patiently aggregating stuff and giving it a home I have rejanimated 43 hair bobbles from their previous dusty, unloved homes. They will live again.

Looking at the bigger picture, I finished the spare room today! Yes, it was very satisfying, like the final pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, or when your supermarket shopping scans through as a round number (logically, of course, this isn’t that amazing, but it always feels like you’re living an enchanted life, just for that moment).

Here’s a summary of what I’ve achieved in there:

* all make-up sorted, and old stuff brought back out
* jewellery organised in box
* drawers of dressing table cleared of junk
* boxes under bed emptied and used to store books and art supplies
* three bags of school stuff brought to school
* sewing stuff now in dedicated sewing drawer
* knitting/crochet stuff all in ottoman
* created ‘memory box’ for keepsakes
* stationery in stationery drawer downstairs
* put together plastic box containing essentials like Sellotape, scissors, glue etc to go in sideboard near stationery drawer
* found SEVEN PAIRS OF SCISSORS
* threw out three big sacks of rubbish

All from one room. As I alluded to before, it doesn’t even look that much different, but it feels much more of a calm and tranquil place now as I know it’s all organised.

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January 21st: rejanimated spare room. Finally!

Cabinet Neatening

You know how other people’s medicine cabinets are always really alluring and intriguing? Well, I’m saving you all the trouble of coming round and asking to use the loo just so you can snoop in mine by putting on the Internet for the ENTIRE WORLD to see. Alas, it’s very not interesting – some bad-back painkillers, half of a twin pack of digital pregnancy tests from 2 years ago (seriously, have you seen how much they are? I am never throwing that away!) and about 10,000 ibuprofen, which glut is caused by the Ibuprofen/ paracetamol fear – now you’re only allowed to buy 32 at a time in the uk, you see them cheap and think “better stick a pack in my basket” and end up with a mountain of packs, all with two out of them. Come the apocalypse/collapse of civilisation, I shall set myself up as a kind of healing shaman type of person, headaches and pregnancy quandaries a speciality. Of course I can only accurately predict one pregnancy, but after that, word of mouth will secure my reputation, and I’ll just tell everyone else to come back in three months, by which time it should be obvious. I also have these kickass Japanese ear-scrapers I bought at the awesome Chinese superstore in Vancouver, so I can do ear-cleaning as a sideline. Ooh, doesn’t it make you feel good to have your post-apocalyptic career all planned out?

Well, until the apocalypse I’ll just have to content myself with rejanimating stuff. In case you haven’t worked it out, today I sorted out the bathroom cabinet!

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January 18th: rejanimated bathroom cabinet.

Sew far, sew good

So, here’s yet another best thing about ReJanimate – you do something every day.  Yeah, I know, that’s kind of the point, but I realised today that some of my projects have had the side effect of creating more mess or disorder somewhere else (why does this happen?  All things tend to entropy.)

But instead of looking at this mess and being all OH WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON HERE MY LIFE IS BUT A VORTEX OF DISARRAY AND DESPAIR I can be all Zen about it.  Because – ah, ahhhh – I know, for a fact I will be doing something tomorrow.  I don’t just intend to do something tomorrow, but have in fact committed to it. 

And so I didn’t walk into the spare room, take one look at the work to do in there and run out screaming, I just took some of it as today’s job.  And the more often I do this, the easier each job gets, as I begin to find I know exactly where some things go, because I sorted that out some days ago.  I don’t have wrapping paper in four places in the house, or three boxes of stationery, or, or…and what’s yet to come will be easier still.

It’s paying off!

Today, then, I went through the spare room wardrobe, I emptied two boxes of random crap, I got another bag to take to school, I found a bag of make up to ReJanimate and I tidied my sewing box:

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January 14th: reJanimated sewing box.

Back to school (for pens)

Right, first off, there’s no neat after photo today, mostly because I made more mess than I started with.  I believe the appropriate emoticon is :S

But I have liberated some stuff from lying-around-being-covered-with-dust-itis which is the important thing! OK, you need to know that I’ve never really had my own classroom before – I sort of have, a few times, but I always ended up sharing it, or moving out loads of lessons a week, and I wound up with all sorts of school stuff at home.  So today I started to sort it, and in the ReJanimate style, I started small.  That pointless pot of pens on the windowsill in J’s bedroom? Dead ones chucked out, the good ones in my school bag.  Pot gone.  Woop.

Plastic box under bed raided for post-it notes, tippex, board markers and all the other things I don’t want or need at home, but both want and need at work.

Bonus one: found some teenage fiction books for my shelf at school.

Bonus two: found a book and listed it for £8 (!!) on Amazon. Woop woop!

Space acquired, classroom replenished, crap thoroughly ReJanimated!

January 10th: reJanimated some school supplies.

How to keep your resolutions – by cheating.

As I was clearing up after today’s project, I wondered why I’ve managed to stick to this resolution when so many have gone to the wayside long before the 9-day mark (tell me I’m not alone in this!). Then I worked it out – it’s because I’m cheating! I don’t mean I’m lying about having done a ReJanimate task every day, or that I’ve faked photos or anything like that (surely nobody would fake a photo of an airing cupboard?), but in the way that Amazon cheats.  No, silly, I’m not a multimillion pound tax-dodger, (topical!) but in they under-promise and over-deliver.

You see, basically, what I wanted my resolution to be was to sort my entire life out from top to bottom – every piece of paper filed and alphabetised, a spreadsheet to keep my cutlery sorted, a pyjama schedule to make sure J never wears the same pair twice in a week, that sort of thing.  Like those blogs where people have only one colour of clothes pegs and keep them in a cunning, ribbon-bedecked jar, rather than handily scattered all over the lawn like I do.

But you don’t make that resolution.  That’s nuts.  You’d never achieve it and every moment you weren’t stitching an uber-caddy to keep your iPod, kindle and tablet caddies in you’d feel you were failing.

ReJanimate lets you set your sights way low, on the other hand, and feel very pleased when you do more!

Today I just set myself the task of emptying a little basket we had and redistributing the contents.  Done.  Easy. Energy to spare.  So I took the basket downstairs and used it to store the crayons, paper and sticker books in the side board.  Then I stacked the photo albums neatly, threw away some old paperwork and boxes, sorted out the place mats and coasters and dumped a load of paper in the recycling.  By the time I got to the drawers, though, I’d had enough, so in stopped.  Am I going to get annoyed with myself for not doing the drawers?  Hell to the nizzle, I was only going to empty that one basket! I’ve kicked ass this evening!

And that, my friends, is how to cheat your way to success.

And here are my cupboards:

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January 9th: rejanimated sideboard cupboards.

Five Minute Wonder

The great thing about ReJanimate is that its not just huge projects that count, it’s five-minute jobs as well.  In fact, the five minute jobs are really at the heart of the whole thing, because it’s about changing little things. So when you do a task you’ve been putting off for ages, walking past it every day thinking “I should really…”, you’re rejanimating not just that object or place, but that tiny part of your brain that was being occupied with that thought every day.  That’s right, on this blog I’m not only providing scintillating inside-drawer pics, but I’m giving you a bigger brain.  For free.  What kind of tea do I drink? Generosi-TEA.  Yeah.

Today I reJanimated a bit of my brain, then, by folding everything in my airing cupboard and stacking it neatly.  Look, I never said I was going to be splitting the atom here!  Anyway, it did look a lot like an explosion in a slightly-worn-duvet-cover shop (don’t you just hate those shops? GREAT sales though) and now it doesn’t, and now I don’t have to close the door of it really quickly so I’m not found three days later under a pile of towels we keep for mopping stuff up with. (“Police say the missing woman was eventually found under what appeared to be once-good tea towels.  A neighbour said she was shocked by the news: ‘I always saw her buying Vanish but apparently those towels had never seen a drop of it.  I shudder to think what her nets are like.'”)

And here we have it.  Who thought folding could give you a bigger brain, eh?

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January 8th: reJanimated the airing cupboard.