Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Decluttering Mania.

Decluttering Method

Yesterday afternoon, while my DH had gone to look for mushrooms, I just sat on the divan and cried. It was so frustrating to want to do things and not physically be able to.
 I used to be able to sit for ages on the floor. Now after only a short while I have difficulty getting up. It is scarey. 

Why did I let the house get this way instead of sorting things out while I was fitter?

 Why did I listen to my kids when they said to leave their things where they were and they would come over and sort through them? Days turned into months and now years. 

DeclutteringThe pile of books and paper waiting to be picked up on Thursday is increasing. I sorted through old school books upon the top floor and my DH took them downstairs for me. I must admit that without his help I couldn't have managed it. Too many trips up and down stairs. As it is my muscles are hurting so much. The next big project here will to get myself back into a fit shape again if I can. I am just physically going downhill so fast it is ridiculous. Depressing.

I was playing a FB game again on Monday:
(yes I know you are thinking that that is why I never get things done in the house!)
Which Greek goddess do you resemble? I got Mania: Chaos! Lol!

She was the goddess of madness according to friend Google. I think I need to find who was the Goddess of tidiness and sanity and follow her!

My friend Mr (or is it Mrs?) Google informs me that she is called Hygieia. The word Hygiene comes from her name. I could really have just asked my younger DD who has loved Greek mythology since I bought her a child's version of the Odyssey when she was in elementary school.

Well lets see if I can transform myself into Mrs Hygieia. I see this one as being difficult!

C.h.a.o.s. = Can't have anyone over syndrome is one I have been suffering from for a while!

I was amazed to see a book on how to declutter on the best sellers list! Reading the reviews about it I don't think it is for me. I really don't want to live in a minimalist house. That doesn't seem a home to me but a show room. My hoarding tendancies are still too strong for that. I always have the thought “what if I need it?” when I throw something out. Waste not want not has been too thoroughly engrained in my being.

It needs a happy balance. A home should be something we are comfortable in. 

Well I am off to my new day job. General cleaning and washing today. I am going to clean the house for Mrs P! Put my timer on for the first hour. If I could only afford it I would actually pay myself. Well I will work on that one as well!

More beautiful Porcini mushrooms.

Edible Funghi

Monday, 28 September 2015

A method for decluttering.

Recently I started blogging a little about my decluttering progress. I was tired of having the house so untidy.

How to declutter

 A few years ago I tried the FlyLady method but although I followed it for many months I was getting annoyed and frustrated trying to do things and seeing no results. Fighting with my husband and kids when they so quickly messed up all my hard work. Hours spent cleaning and nothing to show for it. I was always tired and always irritable. I finally gave up and things soon became worse than before. It is an excellent method but just didn't work for me.

Now it seems that I have found a method which actually works in my house.
I need the satisfaction of seeing a visible result for my efforts. I need to set myself a goal to clear one place, making it something that is feasible to do. No use dragging everything out and trying to clean all in one go. I just get overwhelmed and have no where to put anything. Then I get depressed and feel useless. I used to be able to clean that way when I was first married, but now my house is three times bigger, I am older and less fit, and there is more clutter to fight against.

So many times I have cleaned one room and then when I moved onto the next the first quickly became worse than before. I was just moving the clutter around. Now I eliminate what I don't need. 

We have all seen the advice online to use 3 boxes and divide things. That doesn't work for me. I do better if I go and put things where they should be. The boxes would never get emptied otherwise. 

Things to be recycled get taken straight to the containers. We have different days when they pick things up so that is already an efficient system for me. 
Things to donate need to go straight into the car ready to drop off. 
Nothing waiting around and no second thoughts. Too often in the past things just gradually went back to where they were.

I like to use a timer while working. It stops me from getting too tired as it reminds me when I need a break. It is amazing how sometimes time seems to fly by when I am cleaning! 

I switch some music on and get going. No tv as that means you stop and watch it! Fortunately I have never been a great fan.

I am finally seeing a change here. My decluttering is starting to show results. Today I decided to do the upstairs corridor and the towel cupboard. 
I have a wall cupboard in an alcove my DH made many years ago. That is where I keep towels, and, on an upper shelf, cleaning things that are not in immediate use.
Decluttering method

I pulled everything out and found a big dirty mark where an old nearly empty starch spray container had given up the ghost and spilled its contents on the shelf. Goes to show how long it is since I used anything there! It will have probably been caused by the extreme heat this summer. Thank goodness it wasn't anything poisonous. That is a lesson to me to not leave old aerosol cans around! 
I used to starch my son's shirts for work. Now that "joy" belongs to his wife! Lol!

I cleaned the shelf thoroughly and dusted the various containers. Amazing how many products I had to remove stains from clothes, although I usually use more natural methods, maybe why they were still in the cupboard.

How to declutter

Some useless things I disposed of. Others I will give to someone who actually uses them. I have several packets of dye, mainly black. I will give some to my sister-in-law who is always dyeing things. You can't buy it in the village which is why I had stocked up when I found some at a reasonable price.

I also discovered some cleaning products I didn't remember I had which will be useful now I am starting to deep clean the house. I had already put them on my shopping list.


Towels were removed, shaken and refolded. No signs of any insects I am glad to say! My sister said I have enough towels for a small hotel, they are regularly used in rotation however. Old worn towels get put downstairs to use for the dog.
Old face cloths get used as cleaning rags.

Creating order

It took me exactly three hours to clean the cupboard and corridor. I now have a corridor! Lol! Before it was just a dumping ground for homeless objects. All of those are now where they should be. 


This afternoon I moved onto decluttering the stairs from the first to the second floor. There were things on almost every step. Most was stuff belonging to my DH. For example there was the saw he uses to cut the wood in the winter. It had been placed there in spring waiting to be taken upstairs to the storage room. Now it has been made ready to use again. It would be a waste of time to put it away now. It was there all summer. 

I started moving things and then he actually took some of the heavier ones up the two flights of stairs to his storage room. There were a lot of tools which are now on the shelves in the storage room that had been standing empty.

I was finally able to sweep and clean the stairs. 

Although it was tempting to start something else I realised that it would be a mistake. I have done enough for today. I have visible results which makes me happy and I will be fit to do something else tomorrow without being all aches and pains. And, if by any chance, I don't feel like cleaning, never mind! It won't be the end of the world.

A clean corridor

When my DD came home from school she took a look and asked who had stolen the old house! Lol. So lovely to have someone notice and appreciate what I have achieved!

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Decluttering Progress.

I have finally been decluttering again. This time I attacked the little room which serves as a passage to go onto the top floor. 


It was so full of clutter that it was almost impossible to walk through it. Too bad to show a before photo! 

What triggered this was that I needed a book from the bookshelves. I actually couldn't even reach the shelf to look for the book!  

I have thrown and thrown things. I also took all the books off the shelves and dusted and put the ones I wanted to keep back. Although I hated to do it I threw out many books that are of no use to anyone, including many old school books that are no longer in use. They are all going to be recycled.

I even got rid of some old diaries. From 1980 on. I read through them first. So saddening to read all that I went through years ago. I tore out pages and shredded them before putting them into the waste paper containers.


I have also filled some bags with clothes to donate. It is no use keeping things that don't fit anyone.


I started to get rid of the old VHS tapes no one has watched in years. The few family things and originals can stay but all those TV programs nobody ever watched again are going! 

Although we do still have a working VHS recorder (I think), it has been years that they haven't been pulled out and I am sure not going to watch them now! 
Many probably won't even play anymore. 

I did see articles on crafting with old tapes, but the magnetic coating they have is not good for you to handle.

I will give them to the garbage man in a separate sack. He told me they don't go in the plastic as they are a special category. They weigh a ton! There are over 100 in this bag! There are still more elsewhere in the house.

Decluttering VHS

Now I actually have a floor in that room! Lol! I know the shelves are still full but there is far less stuff now. It isn't perfect but I feel quite pleased with myself. 
The wall cupboard was actually already tidy. It was blocked with things in front of it so it didn't get messed up.

Decluttering books.

Still too many books for the shelves and they are sadly bent from all the weight they had, but it is a beginning and a great improvement!

My muscles are all aching from the work but it has been worthwhile. It took me a full two days!

Oh, by the way, I didn't find the book I was looking for originally! It must be in another room!

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

And how are you?


And how are you?......."Fine thanks."  I answer.

How am I? Gob-smacked. Worried. Feeling useless. When you receive bad news it is hard to know what to answer. Now here I am again unable to sleep and writing on this waiting for the tran tran of the day to begin. I am going to feel absolutely awful later on. Enough of that.

Life has been hectic recently. Still trying to get into the rhythm of the new school year. DD goes to school from 8 am to 2 pm  Monday to Friday and from 8 am  to 1 pm on Saturday. DH takes her by car. My nephew travels with them although he gets out of school an hour earlier he still gets home far quicker than waiting for the bus. Paying for the fuel is cheaper for us than if she takes the school bus. It also saves them a couple of hours travelling time.It means I am out a lot.

This is a year she will have to study far more than last year. She also has different teachers for some subjects and new ones added. It is a key year. Lets hope things go smoothly and I can follow her. She is always the one who gets neglected for other family problems.

The price of books this year has been ridiculous. When I went to school in England text books were provided by the school and returned at the end of the year. Trying to give the kids a school education here is so expensive. Now DH has retired it is even harder than it was when the older two went to school. I don't know how some families manage. Then they wonder why kids drop out of school!

The weather has turned really hot again putting a temporary end to my attempt to declutter. A few last days of summer. 40°c and my feet and legs are swollen again. Especially my right foot. I should have some tests done I suppose but there have been just too many expenses lately and also unexpected bills on top! I will just have to wait till next month yet again. It will be my blood pressure that is too high as it increases with stress and this is a bad spell. At least now at 5am it is cooler. I think the weather has changed and I will soon feel better.

Early morning ramblings. My time for me. No need to pretend to smile. It is so dark outside right now. Totally black although it is 5.15am. Must be cloudy as there isn't a star to be seen in the night sky. I can't take the dog out.

I have finished a new doll pattern. It is already being test knit. Now I have the usual sensation of emptiness before I start something else! Many ideas but little time.
 To cheer myself up I will add the photo here. I hope to publish it as soon as possible.

White version

18" doll knitting pattern.

My Ivy doll is so cute in this isn't she? Today is the first day of Autumn and she is all ready for the cooler weather.

What have you been busy doing?

Monday, 14 September 2015

A place for everything and everything in its place.

cleaning time

Getting the house organized is so difficult. It is very easy to become overwhelmed and just give up!
I keep telling myself that it is important to remember that the house didn't get in a mess in just a day, and I don't have a magic wand to instantly get it tidy. (Wish!)
Slowly and surely is the way to go, gradually getting to grips with it.
"A place for everything and everything in its place."
Yes sure, if you have a place to put it! The problem is when there is nowhere for things to go. That is when decluttering becomes essential.

I have been trying to set myself some goals. This time it was my bedside cabinet. It was piled high with books and general clutter.
I removed all the books and put them back on the book shelves. I put several balls of yarn away and other odds and ends that had no right to be there.

DD's books

I then cleaned out the two drawers: so full of underwear that it was almost impossible to open and close them! I spent a full 20 minutes checking pantyhose and discarding all the ones with snags or holes. My usual repurposing instinct made me want to save them to make flowers or use as stuffing, but I resisted and threw them out. There will be plenty more before I ever get round to making anything anyway!

Everything that didn't fit was trashed.
I swept behind and under the bed while I was there and dusted and polished. I was happy.


DH then so very nicely commented that I had been upstairs for two hours and that the dishes were still to wash! He had been "busy" watching television. Men don't wash dishes!!

DD's room.

Thank goodness my youngest DD isn't a hoarder. (The photos are of her bedroom with no warning!)

She went through all her clothes before going back to school today.
She has grown so we filled two big plastic bags with clothes to go to those in need. As there is nowhere to donate them in the village, my older DD will give them to her local church in town.

With so many boatloads of people arriving daily on our coasts there is a real need for clothes. Sad to have to say there are also children and young teens among the refugees.

I need to go through other clothes that have been saved here. My son had a lot of shirts he no longer uses so I will have a washing and ironing spree and send those as well. It seemed a shame to discard them when they were almost new so I kept them. Just as well, now a use has arrived. Decluttering for a good cause!

Decluttering top floor.

I am not looking forward to ironing all those shirts, Since my DH retired and my DS left home, I rarely iron now unless it is really necessary. I am saving on energy for the good of the environment! Lol! That is my excuse anyway and I am sticking to it!

Today's mission is to go upon the top floor and sort those shirts out!

What is your mission for today?

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Lie in bed and watch the Moon....

Lie in bed and watch the moon

Lie in bed and watch the moon and dream about your day,
while I lull you with a tune from half the world away.
It has closed ten thousand eyes of children now grown old.
Made the room seem warm and safe when nights were dark and cold.
You may live to ride through space or travel to the moon.
yet your children still may find contentment in this tune.
Let the world slip soft away, tomorrow's plans will keep.
One goodnight and I'll be gone, for you are fast asleep.

I sang this to my Granddaughter recently  and remembered singing it to my brother many years ago. My older sister said he would go to sleep so he didn't have to hear me anymore! I am tone deaf apparently. I wonder how I managed to sing in the Grammar school choir for seven years? 

Sorry "big little brother"! Well I also sang it to my younger brother and to all three of my kids! 

I so wish I could find a source for this. It was from one of those BBC school radio broadcasts about 1967 I think. I was in the last year of primary school at Beltingham at the time. 
We would be in the time when the Moon missions were being planned not long before the first time "Man reached the Moon!" Seems so long ago and yet so very close! What a different world we live in now!

The Moon has always fascinated me. Lady of the Night sailing serenely through the dark skies. Still mysterious despite all the accomplishments of modern technology.

When I sang it I would change the words to "you must go sleep" until they actually did go to sleep!
I thought I would write it down now while I remember it. Maybe someday one of my children will sing it in the future.

I wonder if anyone else remembers those programs and that song? 
If you know where I can find them online I would love to know!

It may have been from BBC  Time and Tune Spring 1968.  Journey into Space.

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Free Mini AGD skirt pattern

Mini AG Round Skirt:

free doll knitting pattern

Fits 6.5 inch American Girl Mini doll.
10g fingering yarn
2.00 mm needles.
Darning needle
Stitch markers or waste yarn.
Difficulty: Easy.
Gauge: 9 sts = 1 inch.

Co: cast on.
Bo: bind off.
K: knit
P: purl
St: stitch. Sts: stitches
K2 tog: Knit two stitches together as one stitch  
Ssk: Slip, slip, knit…slip stitches and knit them together.
Yo: yarn over.
Skirt length 2”. (5 cm)

Short rows:
On the skirt there are short rows used. When you turn work don't pass your yarn to the back to knit the stitch but pass it over the needle. This forms a yo. When working the next row that closes the gap knit the next stitch together with the yarn over. Gives a nice smooth line. Alternatively you can just turn and knit work normally as in the instructions.
CO 18 sts.
Version 1:
Knit 1 row.
1: K 3 turn.
2: K3.
3: K6, turn.
4: K6.
5: K9, turn.
6: K9.
7: K12 turn.
8: K12.
9: K15, turn.
10: K15.
11-14 K18.
Repeat from row 1 until a circle is formed.

Version 2:
Knit 1 row.
1: K 3 turn.
2: K3.
3: K6, turn.
4: K6.
5: K9, turn.
6: K9.
7: K12 turn.
8: K12.
9: K15, turn.
10: K15.
11-14 K18.
15: K15, turn.
16: K15.
17: K12, turn.
18: K12.
19: K9, turn.
20: K9.
21: K6, turn.
22: K6.
23: K3, turn.
24: K3.
25-28: K18.
Repeat from row 1 until a circle is formed.

free mini american girl doll pattern

Both versions:
Pick up and knit 20 sts along waist border.
1: K1, p1, to end of row.
2: K1, p1, to last 4 sts, ssk, yo, k1, p1.
3: As row 1.
Bo in rib.
Sew back seam nearly to the top. Sew button at waistband.

american girl mini doll

With this swatch I played with 2 colours to try to show the difference the two versions give. The first two coloured sections are from version one, then the second are version two. The plain coloured sections are made with the different versions, there is a minimal difference when in one colour but a more visible one in two row stripes. I then actually made the swatch into a skirt.
A new fashion! Enjoy!

AGD mini skirt knitting pattern

Patricia Renwick © Copyright September 2015.
All rights reserved. You may sell items made from this pattern but not the pattern. Please respect my design rights.

Saturday, 5 September 2015

Funghi Porcini con Scialatelli

September is mushroom time so my husband went to search for some of the local Porcini mushrooms.

Porcini mushroom

                                           He was so happy the time he found the one above!

Fresh mushrooms

This time he found a couple of kilos of good ones.


There were too many to use at once so some I froze but obviously I had to cook some of them!
 Here is a recipe we like. Very simple so you can really taste the porcini!

This uses local Porcini mushrooms and a typical sort of "Pasta fresca" called "scialatelli"


Fresh mushrooms.
Olive oil.

Fresh pasta or other sort desired.  Amount depends on how many people. I calculate about 150g each.

If you like black pepper can be added to taste. Some people also like to add a splash of dry white wine.

Scialatelle ai porcini

Choose and prepare the mushrooms. I don't use any that aren't perfect!


Finely chop some onion and some fresh parsley.

Porcini mushrooms

Lightly fry the onion in a few tablespoons of olive oil.

Cooking porcini mushrooms.

Add the sliced mushrooms and parsley.

Porcini funghi

Cover and simmer over a low flame. Add salt to taste when they are almost cooked.

pasta fresca

This is the pasta. It isn't egg pasta but just durum flour and water. This is bought but another time I will show you how to easily make it. It is a sort of tagliatelle. Here in the village they also use the same name for a twisted sort.

Frying mushrooms

 I usually cook the pasta in the usual way once the mushrooms are almost cooked. Be careful not to burn them. Some people add a little water from the pasta if they dry too much but I don't find it necessary.

scialatelli ai funghi

Strain the pasta and add to the pan with the mushrooms. Stir to mix them well.My husband doesn't like to add parmesan cheese as he likes the taste of the mushrooms. However if they are frozen I will add a little.
scialatelli silani

                                                                     Serve and enjoy!

Pasta fresca ai porcini

 This is one of the simple thrifty meals we eat. You can also try substituting other sorts of mushrooms available to you, or use frozen ones!

and ....Buon Appetito!