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.

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!

ReJanimate in no time at all

OK, I have had no time at all, seriously – full day of teaching topped off with a parents evening and a late train home.   Luckily I’d done my task for the day early and it was one thing you can do really quickly and easily – go through your jewellery box and dig something out!

I have all these nice pairs of earrings, organised nicely, complete with backs…and I totally forget to actually wear them. So in an attempt to look halfway smart for parents evening I found some smart little studs and they finished off my ‘look’ (OK, this is a look that starts with snow boots so it doesn’t take much to finish).

I’m sorry, this is short and pictureless, but it’s late and I just didn’t want to miss a day!

January 17th: reJanimated some earrings from my jewellery box.

Crochet away!

I realised something today that has set rejanimate apart from other decluttering exercises – I’ve avoided making any lists. Normally I’m completely Rimmer-like when it comes to things like this – spend hours making a list or timetable in multiple colours and when it comes to the task in hand, just do whatever is the metaphorical equivalent of writing “I am a fish” a few hundred times. (This analogy will only work if you know Red Dwarf, and if you don’t, what are you reading this for? Go and watch Red Dwarf!)

Anyway, the lack of list means you can digress, which I was glad of today. It looked like it was going to be another boring one, just carrying on tidying the spare room, and I did get somewhere with that, emptying two boxes and a basket (and once again refilling the wheelie bin the moment it is emptied…), but then, I digressed.

In trying to find space in a drawer for my rejanimated sewing box, I found a very-nearly-finished amigurumi cat I made ages and ages ago. All he needed was some eyes and a nose. Years and years the poor little guy had waited and now, not only was I poised and ready to rejanimate, but I had a tidy, organised sewing box next to me.. As Jez in Peep Show says, “fate – it does the hard work so you don’t have to”.

And here it is:

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January 15th: rejanimated a nearly-finished crochet cat

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.

Little things make a lot

OK, the crunch time for any “every day” resolution – its 8 o’clock on Friday night, you’ve been to the pub form tea and there’s a cold bottle of Chardonnay waiting in the fridge (yeah, no, I’m not doing Dryathlon – dry Mon-Thurs is as far as I can go!)

You need an instant result and you need it fast. So what did I do? I reJanimated the hallway. As in excavated it from underneath two pushchairs (Two! I have but one child), about five coats and an army’s worth of boots.

And then – and THEN! because once you ReJanimate you just can’t, er, stop – I did the accessible under-stairs bit (the inaccessible bit is a ReJanimate task for another day), and then – and THEN! I went upstairs and harking right back to day 1, ran myself a bath with some aging bath foam which I remember buying when I was pregnant, so about two years ago.

Before and after pics today (I spoil you, I do):

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There was a hall under there!

January 12th: reJanimated hallway, under stairs and some bath bubbles.

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.

Put it in a Box

ReJanimating isn’t just about saving money, it’s about unleashing potential in things.  And what could be more of an emblem of potential than the humble gift voucher?  I don’t know about you, but I always hold onto them for ages, waiting for the perfect item to buy. Of course, by the time you wait for so long, you forget you have them, and by that time you find they don’t even sell anything for 12/6.

I had a gift voucher that had been a present for J’s birthday (five months ago!). Now, this child needs no more toys, no more clothes…so what to spend it on?  It was only after surveying his Christmas swag pile that I decided to look for some better toy storage (what is referred to in catalogues as “Storage Solutions”).  So I went and spent his voucher on this, and I’m very pleased with it.

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I love that he can see the books clearly and reach them down for himself, and it’s also let me ReJanimate some toys by rescuing them from the hellish tumble at the bottom of the toy box, where pirates rub shoulders with Olympic mascots,  puzzle pieces and always at least one MegaBlok.  Finally the pirates have the space they’ve always dreamed of!

It does make his room start to look like a boy’s room, though, not an baby one, which is a bit of a sniff moment, but I suppose it’s inevitable.
January 6th: reJanimated some gift vouchers into some toy shelves.

Framed

So, it seems the thing is, once you’ve reJanimated one thing, it gets you thinking about others!  As a result I have loads of things I achieved today; firstly, dug a long-unworn pair of trousers out and wore them (this has NOTHING AT ALL to do with post-Christmas podge making the rest of my trousers not fit, no sir),and secondly, when my reprinted photos arrived in the post, rather than flick through them and put them aside for another day, I took the time to fill my albums (looooong put off – one was J’s “Baby’s First Christmas” album, which was actually Christmas 2011.  Oops.

However, thinking about that inspired me to dig out a couple of cheap framed prints I’d hung in our last house.  They didn’t go anywhere here, so I took the prints out and used Photoshop to resize some Bob the Builder pictures I found online.  Then I hung them over J’s cot so he can amuse himself by lying in bed saying “Dizzy!  Bob-bob! Bud!” to himself.

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That photo is awful, but it just shows what we already have lying around ready to be put to use.

January 5th: reJanimated some old frames with new pictures.

Some Like it Slightly Less Hot, Actually

An easy one today as I was quite busy – instead of pulling on the same old coat, I went a-delving under the stairs.

Having been assured that all signs pointed to a winter filled with depths of cold the likes of which had ne’er been seen before (I don’t know why discussing the weather makes me talk like an old farmer, but it does. Deal with it.) I bought a Merrell Haven – an extremely toasty, well-insulated coat.  It keeps all the chills out and makes me really snug and warm. Which is great in freezing weather, but it was 11 degrees today. Wear that and you start to understand how a jacket potato feels, slowly but surely heating up to the point where yes, you might explode, if you haven’t been stabbed a few times with a fork. (Analogy fail.  Sorry.)

So it was spelunking gear on, safety rope attached and under the stairs I went, into That pile.  You know the one, the pile of all the coats you’ve ever owned, ever.  Scientists have proved that on average, each person keeps 94.7% of all the coats they’ve ever had* and that means every under stairs cupboard contains at least fifteen coats of varying sizes, styles and degrees of decrepitude.  Throwing aside my duffel coat from junior school, the Girl Power era turquoise pleather cropped jacket and the full-length fun-fur Muppet-skin coat,  I found a cord blazer that had once been a wardrobe staple but got thrown aside for the Hotinator (as I call my Haven). Together with my GIANT SCARF (seriously, I own tents with less fabric) I rocked that bad boy all day.  And I found an unused tissue in the pocket.  It’s like that tissue was free! That’s a penny in my purse, good buddy.

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January 4th – ReJanimated an old coat.

* might be a lie.