Hang in there, baby!

One good habit that’s come out of ReJanimate is that when I notice something niggling or that just doesn’t work for us, I feel inspired to sort it out.  Even better, I know where to find stuff to use to sort it out with!

Today I was making brinner (the ULTIMATE, aka ‘breakfast for dinner’) which is obviously AWESOME but does make the house smell (also I turned the grill on by accident and it smoked the place out.  Doh) so I tried to shut the kitchen door but there have been aprons over the corner of the door for, ooh, four years now, so I couldn’t.  There are no hooks in the kitchen and nowhere really to put one in the wall, hence the door-draping, so I thought it was time to ReJanimate the hell out of there!

BAM!  Into the air-raid shelter for hooks.

BAM! hooks into the back of the utility room door!

BAM!  in another stroke of genius, two more hooks to hang the rubbish bag!  (We used to have a bin but it was annoying and always smelt so we just hang a carrier bag up for a bin bag but only off the handles of doors etc)

OK, so it might seem a bit much to base a whole blog entry around three hooks but the point is, don’t just get annoyed with stuff in your house, ReJanimate it! 

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.

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

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

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!

A Tale of a Tub

I have a confession to make about today’s ReJanimate – it cost money! That’s right, we had to buy new things for this one, but it was worth it.

Basically we have a small, functional bathroom. It’s OK – the shower is awesome, and we’ve done bits to it but always with the idea in the back of our minds that we’d redo the whole thing soon and therefore whatever we got was just a make-do thing.  Only, after our crazy binge of house revamping over the summer, we can’t face another big project, so we reJanimated it instead!

Yesterday we went to Argos and got a tallboy unit that would fit into the small space by the sink.  Now, believe me that this is a small space.  A Borrower would suck air through their teeth and say “I was really looking for something a little roomier”.  But prewar British houses are noted for their functional but tiny bathrooms, and Argos have catered for that need with lots of functional, tiny bathroom furniture.  (note – I am not sponsored by Argos, but I will be, if they want.  I can be bought.)

Once that was in situ, it looked so good we went today and got a smaller unit and a corner shelf unit.  Add to that a bit of reshuffling of bath toys (for the toddler!) and a bin reJanimated from another room and the whole thing was completely painless.  It was.  Definitely.  No water at all came through the ceiling so stop going on about it!

Here’s the things we bought:

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And here’s the finished room:

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I know it doesn’t look like much but it’s the first time the room’s felt done!  Needs a new blind, I think, but that’s another day’s job.

January 20th: reJanimated the bathroom

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.