Saturday, June 16, 2018

Minimalism Phase 2 - Treasured Books

Getting rid of books is a basic part of minimalism and firmly planted in phase 1. I got rid of loads of books. However, getting rid of books is not the same as letting go of treasured books. Treasured books are books you once loved and maybe still do. You can't let them go the first time round but, as I've said before, the more you purge the easier it gets and the less you want to keep. Here are some books I let go of recently. It feels good.

In the photo above are seven books from the cookery and coffee table collections. I still have four other big illustrated vegetarian cookery books so the one in the photo could go - it's the least interesting. Good Cooking, from about 1982 is full of meat and seafood dishes that aren't relevant to me. I don't bake and if I do want to bake in the future (and the internet is down) I have a small cake book that I'm keeping. The Book of New Israeli Food doesn't say anything I don't know already. I'm never going to make sweets and chocolates as I don't even like chocolate and sweets are just sugar. I never treasured the herb book but I found it among the other cookery books so it's going.

I don't know why I held on to the illustrated biography of Elizabeth Taylor. I did read it cover to cover once and I enjoyed it but I wouldn't say that she is one of my idols or life mentors.

That brings The 1000 Clutters Challenge to 952 clutters decluttered and only 48 to go.

Two other books I let go recently but have already counted, are:

Mrs Fytton's Country Life by Mavis Cheek, St Martin's Press, 2000. I loved this book. Angela Fytton gets dumped by her husband of 25 years who goes off to marry his young mistress. He cleverly gives Angela the family home in lieu of any other payments because his teenage children can continue to live there while he and his pregnant new wife start over. But Angela decides she wants to go and live in the country and start over herself. So she sells the family home in London and buys a cottage in a village in Somerset. Obviously she has room for the children to join her. Obviously they don't want to and insist on moving in with their father. Obviously his new wife cannot object and everything in the love nest begins to fall apart.

Meanwhile Angela is embracing all things country. Until she finds out that the country also has its problems and deceptions. Hilarious characters like the baker who gets his bread from the dumpsters behind Tesco. He warms it in his Aga and delivers it to the villagers in a large wicker basket. "Of course it goes stale quickly - it's real fresh bread, no preservatives see." His wife spins and dyes wool which she knits into jumpers. Except that the wool is actually unraveled from jumpers bought in local jumble sales. Another family that moved to the country for more quality family time end up with an isolated and depressed wife, an absent husband because he found a convenient pied-a-terre in London, and sending their children to boarding school so that they don't have to mix with the local children.

I re-read this book. I loved it all over again but I don't need to read it a third time. So I gave it to a colleague who is retiring and I think she will love it too.

The Family at Red Roofs by Enid Blyton. This was a childhood favourite of mine and I kept it all these years. I read it to DD a few months ago. She really got into it. When the snobby friend was obnoxious DD sprang up in bed, wagged her finger at the book and scolded, "that's not how you treat your friends young lady!" On the other hand she asked why the girls aren't allowed to do anything and the boy was in charge of paying the bills even though he's younger. An interesting thing is that it was first published in 1945 but there is no mention of the war, or of there having been a war if it was published after September 1945. As I said, it was a childhood favourite of mine but it has somehow lost some of its magic. It won't be a childhood favourite of DD's even though she did enjoy it. The story has been republished many times, the last time being 2013, so DD could find the book again if she wants to (she won't want to). My copy was just about falling apart so out it went.

By the Way. As I was going through the cookery books I remembered A Proper Tea by Joanna Isles. I loved this book so much that I blogged about it here. I remember that a friend wanted to make a proper tea party for her birthday so I lent her the book. Now I can't remember who the friend was. Dear friend, if you read this post can I have my book back please.

And yet, if I don't get my proper tea book back, so be it. Minimalism does that to you, It's just things.

UPDATE: I remembered the next morning and my friend who has the book told me in the afternoon. All id good. 

Friday, June 15, 2018

Minimalism and IKEA - R2BC

I've been very quiet on the blog for a couple of weeks. It's that time of year when teachers are writing reports, marking exams, planning and attending final parties, recitals, concerts, and presentations for everything (that goes for mothers too), and for me, setting up my summer course to start the day after school finishes. I'm finally, not finished but up to date with everything as of last night.

Today I went with two friends to IKEA. You have to understand that 1) there is no IKEA in Jerusalem. 2) I don't have a car. 3) Outside of IKEA everything in Israel is very expensive. And 4) the last time I went there with a car was five years ago! Now you see why this is my Reason 2B Cheerful this week.

We were three of us in the car so there was no big furniture buying, but boy did we stock up on other stuff. We left Jerusalem at 8 after the kids had gone to school, and arrived in Rishon at 8.50. First stop was coffee and a pastry. Apparently coffee is free between 08.30 and 09.00. I suppose because shopping only starts at 9 and the tills only open at 9.30.

We compared lists. Then, having warmed up with coffee, we went to the starting line. Two of us turned right and headed for the furniture displays. The smaller items were to the left.
"Hey, where are you going? We don't need any furniture!"
We looked at our friend in disbelief. "We want to walk round and see everything."
"But we have lists!"
I suggested she go have another coffee and meet us at the end but she threw her hands up in resignation and came with us.

Yesterday a colleague asked me how I can reconcile IKEA with minimalism. Well, most of what I bought was to replace stuff. One in - one out. You do need a new shower curtain, toilet brush and non-slip shower mat every so often. The plastic stool in the kitchen was 16 years old and looked it. The sheets for DD's bed are the sets that my mother bought me when I left home 30 years ago. There's nothing wrong with them but they're primary coloured stripes and DD wanted something pretty and flowery. (Bring back your chintz your chintz - oh the irony.) I bought nice storage boxes to replace the old plastic vegetable rack drawers I'd been using in my wardrobe. New kitchen scissors, a new frame for DD's painting, new place mats, and two rectangular storage boxes to replace the round plastic bowls in my fridge that I use for fruit and vegetables.

Entirely new things included: a big white pot for a tall plant in the now empty corner of my living room, two pyrex dishes and three plastic food containers, all with lock'n'lock lids. A small salad bowl for when I want a bigger salad than a soup bowl but smaller than a serving dish. Ice-lolly molds, And a few little presents for DD - some felt pens, paint brushes, a tablet holder, and I gave her the purse I was given for making a donation to charity.

I don't count the serviettes, the plastic straws, or the light bulbs as they will be used and thrown out. So actually I didn't buy too many new things. But if you want to nitpick, I also threw out or passed on (eventually - some items are in a holding pattern) 21 items this week in addition to the things that were replaced from Ikea.

There are 17 things in the photo but I took back the wok and one of the four broken watches. Also the scissors don't count as I replaced them. However, I gave away a book and another photo frame as gifts and put a bag and a purse in the 'donations' box. And three more serving bowls didn't make the photo. So that's 21 items which takes the 1000 Clutters Challenge to 945. Only 55 items left to find and I still have all my cds and loads of dvds.

I am very cheerfully joining the Reasons 2B cheerful linky over at Becky's Lakes Single Mum.


Saturday, May 26, 2018

Minimalism Phase 2 - Furniture

One of the best pieces of advice I read or saw on a minimalist vlog, was not to worry about the furniture until you've minimalized your stuff. Before you're almost done decluttering, it's impossible to know what you will or won't need. I actually wrote a blog post a few years ago about how I saved hundreds of shekels on new furniture by tidying up. Minimalizing is the same - you think you need a storage solution to get all that junk off the floor and neatly behind doors, when in fact you're about to get rid of most of the junk.

I got rid of most of the junk. Last count I was on 910 clutters for The 1000 Clutter Challenge. I can't seem to stop myself - I found 16 more items to go. 2 shoe boxes, 2 photo albums, 4 toilet bags, 4 plastic shelves from my old fridge that I thought I might use for planters but I won't, 1 orphan sock, 1 coffee mug (the last of 8 bought in LA, USA in 1986) that was on DD's desk as a pen holder but she told me she didn't like it and could she have a flowery one like mine? "Of course my darling, let's add this one to the donate pile." That's 14.

15 and 16 are two big items of furniture. I've been stalling on these because they are both parts of sets. It's so difficult to break up sets. It feels like a wicked bureaucrat splitting up siblings for adoption. And then you just do it and get over it surprisingly quickly.

The display cabinet goes with the sideboard and a smaller display cabinet. I don't need all three pieces and the one without the usable surface for framed photos or candlesticks, has to go. A dark bit of wall has suddenly become white again and the room seems to have grown wider.

The chest of drawers was part of the set of a five door wardrobe, and two matching chests of drawers. I bought two because my feng shui savvy friend old me that if I wanted to bring another person into my life I had to have space for his things in the bedroom. Well he turned out to be a she and DD keeps her things mostly in her own bedroom. Seriously though, if I ever do want to live with a partner, we'll buy new bedroom furniture. Not enough storage in my bedroom will not be the deal breaker.

The five door wardrobe and one chest of drawers fit snugly along one wall and by using all the drawers and shelves recently freed up, I can do away with the other chest of drawers. The room feels luxuriously spacious. I may even get a bigger bed to fill some of the space.

The 1000 clutters Challenge is now at 922. I'm not counting 4 of the items above because when I recently read back over all my decluttering blog posts, I found that four items had been counted twice. Somehow they'd made it back into circulation and come round again. That makes only 78 items left to find.

One last word about furniture. There are three or four other pieces of furniture that I'd like to change. I have an IKEA wish list. However, those pieces will eventually be replaced by more functional and/or prettier pieces. They will be sold or donated but they won't count as being decluttered as they will be replaced. Decluttering only counts if you end up with less. Decluttering should not be confused with remodelling.


Friday, May 25, 2018

R2BC - Summer Choices

Culture is cool peeps. 
This week's Reasons 2B Cheerful are back with Becky as Michelle is away. You can find the linky at Lakes Single Mum.

1
Hans Christian Anderson
We went to see the musical last night. One of my 5th Grade girls is in it so we've been looking forward to it for a long time. Being Jerusalem, I knew four of the cast and another four of the crew. We only knew three other families in the audience this time - it must have been a slow night.

We danced home afterwards, singing The King is in the Altogther and Wonderful Wonderful Copenhagen. We picked up pizza from the new favourite pizza shop that just opened near us. DD went to bed at 11.30 and neither of us got up for Stupid Friday at school this morning. (Friday school finishes at 11.45. I should say here that I don't teach on Fridays.)

2
English Summer Camp
The summer holiday is long here in Israel - 9 weeks for 1st to 6th Grade and 10.5 weeks for High School. 1st to 3rd Grade get a free summer school for the first 3 weeks of  July so thus far we've only had to deal with 6 weeks at home.

There  are all sorts of camps and programmes for 1, 2, or 3 week periods. There are sports camps, art camps, cooking courses, sewing, science and computer camps, drama, music, and just plain all round fun. Some children are booked solid from July 1st till the end of August.

As we have August pretty much covered with visitors and short trips, I told DD she could choose one Summer Camp in July - I didn't mind how long it was. Some of the camps are very pricey and can cost hundreds, even thousands of shekels. But I only have one child so I was happy for her to pick whatever she wanted. She didn't pick anything. She wanted to do a self-defense course, which I am in favour of, but the courses for her age group are all in August overlapping with dates that we'll be away.

Then she came home from school and said that all her friends are going to the English Day Camp at school. I asked about it last year and I was told that it wasn't suitable for children who already know English. This year they changed their minds and decided that it is suitable for English speakers. It's 3 weeks, Sunday - Thursday, 8am till 1pm, total cost 600 shekels. Woohoo! Sorted. And as it's just down the road from  us at school, DD can go and come home by herself. She can even let herself in if I'm held up at my college where I'll be teaching a Summer Course.

3
Five Weeks Left
Only five weeks to go until the summer holidays start on July 1st. I'm counting the days. OK, I still have loads of work to do, reports to write, my summer course to prepare, and run it during July, ... But you know, always good to have something to look forward to. And I actually like the pressure of finishing everything off in a set amount of time. The Panic Monster and I are old friends.

4
Healthy Choices
With the undeniably summer weather that's upon us, DD and I agreed that instead of the weekly allowance of sweets and chocolate for her on Shabbat, we are buying a whole watermelon instead. To be eaten in place of snacks thoughout the week. The watermelon actually costs more than the sweets and chocolate but it also lasts longer so, "Yeah Us!"

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Minimalism Phase 2 - Loose Ends

Now that 881 items have been decluttered from my small apartment, and almost every piece of furniture has at least one empty shelf or drawer, it's time to begin Minimalism Phase 2. This involves moving stuff around in order to free up a whole piece of furniture or more.

However, before we begin, a loose end - that pesky renamed 1000 Clutter Challenge. 881 clutters is 119 too few. So today I found 29 more items to return, donate, gift, or chuck. I wrote last time that I struggled to find 30 and 31 things for the end of the Minimalism Game but a funny thing has happened. The clearer the apartment, the easier it is to get rid of more stuff. The less you have, it seems, the less you want. Anything superfluous suddenly sticks out like a sore thumb.

Here's what I found today....

To donate - 1 pair of new crocks (given to me and never worn), 2 flannel fitted sheets, 3 ornaments, 1 pile of Grace After Meals booklets, 1 rattan side table, 2 cake tins, 3 small games, 2 pairs of shoe shaper thingies.

To gift - 2 puzzles and a 1 big tub of Geo-shapes.

To return - 4 wooden puzzle toys that we no longer play with.

To chuck - 1 ten year old and obsolete printer, 1 bowl with a chip, 2 items of clothing with holes in them, 1 bag of sachets of creams and lotions collected over the years and way past their expiry dates, 1 old director's chair with a ripped seat, 1 bag of material I was going to use to recover the director's chair but I know I never will. (And if I did recover it I could probably sell it for £20 but the relief of not having it sitting there to do is worth more to me atm.)

So that's 910 clutters decluttered since last October. #1000 Clutters Challenge.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Reasons 2B Cheerful In A Turbulent Week

The school wheat field ready for harvesting.
Here are my Reasons 2B Cheerful for this week. From entertainment to politics to war to harvesting to love. It's been a turbulent week. 

1
Eurovision
Last Saturday night Israel won the Eurovision Song Contest for the fourth time in the history of the event. The singer, Netta Barzilai, is an example of how you don't have to be stick thin to be successful. She's a lovely person - modest, kind, and unspoilt by all the glitz. I hated the song at first but all my pupils at school and my DD at home are playing it and singing it constantly. I admit it's growing on me. I can't argue with the song's message.

2
Embassy
The US Embassy moved from Tel Aviv to the capital city of Jerusalem. It's positioned within the Green Line - the pre-1967 borders - so it doesn't touch or any way alter East Jerusalem which can still be the capital of Palestine in the future, if that's what is wanted. All the two state solutions are about Palestine being all the land allotted to it in the 1947 UN vote for partition (i.e. before Israel took it over in the 1967 Six Day War). So it's only a provocative move if you want the whole of Jerusalem to be Palestinian and not a shared city.

3
Defense
This week my friends who live near the border with Gaza, again within the Green Line of course, were safe because the IDF stopped thousands of terrorists crossing the border with the express purpose of murdering Israelis. And yes I am happy that 53 of the 60 who died were Hamas activists who will not be able to try again.

-1
Suffering
I'm also angry at the parents of an eight month old baby with a serious heart condition, who took their child to the front lines of a war zone where they knew there would be violence and tear gas - as  there has been on every Friday for the past few months. I am sorry that the other six casualties and the many others who were wounded, did not heed the IDF warning leaflets to stay away, that were dropped over Gaza at the beginning of the week. But most of all, I'm sorry that the Gazans have to live under Hamas because the Israeli Arabs that I know do not want to live like this. I suspect that most Gazans would also choose to live and prosper rather than wage war and suffer.

Partially harvested. Each class harvested a patch. 
4
The Wheat Harvest
This weekend it's the festival of Shavuot. We celebrate the giving of the Torah on Mt Sinai and also the wheat harvest. My school is very agricultural as it's a kibbutz school so we do actually have a small wheat field for educational purposes. This week we harvested the wheat. Each class did a small section. They threshed the seeds out of the chaff, they ground it to make coarse flour, and they cooked with it. We use the straw to .... something ... with the animals (I'm not an animal person so I don't go there), and also to build mud walls strengthened with straw. I learned loads.

5
Love and Gratitude
Today hundreds of Israelis filled their cars with food and other supplies for the holiday and drove down to the border areas with Gaza to feed our boys on the front line. It's not just the food of course, it's the outpouring of love and support after a difficult week. It's acknowledgement that they are in a shit situation and they do it to keep the rest of us safe.

So there you have it. A roller-coaster of a week. I'm joining Michelle's linky on Mummy from the Heart. 

I'm exhausted from all the facebook activity and trying to explain what's going on here after the BBC and other media channels unfairly reported that Israel massacred 60 peaceful and unarmed civilian demonstrators. There was nothing peaceful, they were mostly not civilians, and they were armed. I'm done with explaining so I won't be accepting any challenging comments on this post. Just so as you know, I'm up for discussion on facebook but my blog is my home. 


Saturday, May 12, 2018

The Minimalist Game Days 30 & 31

This is the end of The Minimalist game. There are never more than 31 days in a month so we're done. The Minimalst Game total is 412 items removed from the house. And the renamed 1000 Clutters Challenge has reached 881. I will go on to find those remaining 119 clutters and I've decided that they will be cds and dvds which I'll find some way to store digitally.

Day 30
3 cables with obsolete connectors, 1 bag of old telephone wires, 1 door knob, 1 telephone wall socket, 2 telephone double sockets, 2 books that I like the idea of but I know I'll never read, 3 more kitchen utensils, 1 broken head-torch, 2 tubes of cleansing lotion, 1 pile of rubbish from the key dish, 3 toy d.i.y. tools, some 15 amp fuse wire from when I rented a flat with a 1950s fuse box, and 9 items of clothing from my wardrobe.

After taking the photo I decided to keep the telephone wall socket as I might be changing the position of the phone in the salon. Thus, day 31 actually has 32 items to compensate for the wall socket. 

Day 31
The Eagle of the Ninth - I read it in school, I read it again recently, and I blogged about it. It is extremely unlikely that I will ever want to read it again.

2 other pamphlets from exhibitions, 4 books of plays from the days when we had play readings, and 5 60p mini-books from Penguin Books' 60th birthday.

4 old and dried up thingies that you hang in your wardrobe to deter moths, 2 more items of clothing, and 14 hangers.

So am I now a minimalist? I don't feel like a minimalist. However, I do feel that I'm not hoarding a load of things I don't need. I've kept some ornaments and sentimental things. DD's room is not included as, though I try to keep the clutter at bay, she's not interested in getting rid of much. 

I have loads more space in my cupboards. In fact, almost every piece of furniture has an empty shelf or drawer - sometimes more than one. What's needed now is a thorough tidy with the aim of consolidating stuff to free up one whole piece of superfluous furniture. I already know which pieces I'd like to get rid of. And of course there is still that dream of a capsule wardrobe.... Maybe this summer.