The Life Changing Magic of Tidying

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying: A simple, effective way to banish clutter foreverThe Life-Changing Magic of Tidying: A simple, effective way to banish clutter forever by Marie Kondō

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is one really addictive, strange book. I had assumed that a book on tidying would be really dry but actually it was written in a really nice style, with lots of anecdotes about the author’s journey from a very young age (5) into tidying and about her clients (she runs a business teaching people how to tidy and she has a 0% rebound rate).

The method can be basically summarised as first discard anything that does not bring you joy (in a specific order – clothes first, then books and so on), then with what’s left, you give everything a specific place.

There are a few tips on how to store stuff, I’m still working through discarding my clothes (I still have underwear to do, if you believe the book my socks are currently miserable and to be honest they do look it) and you’re not meant to think about storage until you’ve finished discarding but I thought I’d try out her way of arranging clothes in drawers. Basically instead of having piles in drawers (so that you can only see the tshirt on top for example), you roll it a special way and store it vertically, so that when you open the drawer you can see all your tshirts, you can store more this way too. When I had rearranged my drawers like this I had already discarded the tshirts and jumpers that didn’t ‘bring me joy’ but I still had a bit of trouble fitting everything in conventionally but rearranging so everything was rolled and standing vertically meant I could fit everything in easily. I now smile every time I open my tshirt or jumper drawer, as I can see all the tshirts and jumpers I own and it’s like picking from a chocolate box.

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I still have some way to go in the process but I am confident that it’ll help control my personal belongings and areas of the flat I’m responsible for (seemingly most of it) but I am unsure whether I am ever going to get a completely tidy flat due to the other people (ie my family) who live here. I do think though that just like the title of the book says, getting at least my belongings in order will be life changing. Already I am wearing just clothes I am happy in, no more wearing stuff because it’s the first thing I could pull out, even though it makes me feel frumpy because a) I’ve made sure my clothes are accessible now and b) I’ve got rid of my frumpy clothes! I think I’ve probably got rid of between a third and a half of my wardrobe and I didn’t have an excessive amount of clothes to start with. This book has coincided with a change in my attitude towards my clothes anyway, I am increasingly aware what suits me (black, dark grey, navy blue with splashes of red) and increasingly aware of what doesn’t (pale colours and especially white). I am also more aware of what sort of cut of clothes suit me. So if I’m always wearing a ‘uniform’ of denim, navy blue tunics, grey cardigans and black dresses, as long as I’m happy and confident wearing them (I am), then so what, so I don’t need the other stuff in my wardrobe, which is good as I’ve gotten rid of it*! I am digressing but this book has helped show me that all you need is what you love.

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*As you can see from the photos, there are a few other colours in my wardrobe, items of clothing that bring me joy for other reasons but as I now know that I am much less likely to be happy with an item of clothing that isn’t blue, black, grey or red, I’m going to purchase any future clothing with that in mind (I was tending to do that anyway).

On the menu: Banana Bread

Sunday
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I’ve made banana bread (or variations of it), quite a lot over the last few months but this one definitely has to be the best. The recipe is from James Morton’s Brilliant Bread and it is indeed brilliant and you know why? It’s got butter and sugar in it. The banana breads I’ve made recently have all tended to be from healthy eating recipe books and they’ll have maple syrup instead of sugar and/or oil instead of butter and ok, those banana breads are ok (if a bit stodgy half of them) but you add butter and sugar and it’s pure joy on the tongue.

I am currently reading Marie Kondo’s The Life Changing Magic of Tidying (a strangely addictive book, I’m already smiling like the cat whose got the cream over the way I’ve rearranged my tshirt and jumper drawers – but I’ll blog about that later) but Kondo’s mantra when tidying “Does it bring you joy?” I think can also be applied to food. James Morton’s banana bread brings me joy, last week’s banana bread from A Lighter Way to Bake, did not. Just as the packet of sweets I’ve just eaten whilst writing this, despite me thinking I wanted them, did not bring me joy but I know a really crisp, flavoursome salad would. So I’m getting to thinking, if I just ate the foods that bought me joy, a banana bread made with actual butter and sugar would be balanced out by me not eating all those packets of sweets I don’t really actually want and actually even though this banana bread has got butter and sugar in, it’s still healthier than say a cupcake with tons of icing (which I don’t actually really like either). Also, I guess the joy in this banana bread is two fold, as I enjoyed making it too. So anyway I will be making this recipe again and I won’t be making the other banana bread recipes I’ve tried recently.

Capture Real Life – week 7 – silhouette

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The weather did not help with the challenge this week, just as it didn’t help with seeing the eclipse either :(. The weather was just too cloudy and as a silhouette by definition needs a light source behind it, it wasn’t easy. I went on a couple of walks and ended up resorting to photographing trees in Richmond Park using Hipstamatic on the second walk.

(Weeks 5 and 6 are taking a while)

Reasons to Stay Alive

Reasons to Stay AliveReasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Reasons to Stay Alive is part discussion, part self help, part autobiography of author Matt Haig’s battle with depression and anxiety. It was an interesting read, I particularly liked his lists, such as the following list, entitled self help –

“How to stop time: kiss
How to travel in time: read
How to escape time: music
How to feel time: write
How to release time: breathe.”

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On the menu: lighter baking

Monday

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I’m still on a healthy eating kick and when I say still on, well good, I need to be on this but ooh at what point do I bite into a ‘healthier’ cake and not miss the buttery taste? This one is banana and raspberry bread from Lorraine Pascale’s A Lighter Way to Bake, except I didn’t have any raspberries in the freezer but I did have blackberries, so it’s banana and blackberry. It was nice enough, a bit dense but perfectly edible but nothing really to write home about.

Spelt picnic buns

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I wanted soup and a nice brown bread roll to eat today and I didn’t have any of the latter, so I made some. The recipe is Easy Spelt Picnic Buns from Scandilicious Baking and they definitely did the trick (in fact they were nicer than the soup, which actually wasn’t that nice). The buns were particularly popular with my kids.

PS They’re meant to be that small, they were baked, as per instructions in a fairy cake tin.

These were my bread of the month for March (I maybe need to move onto something bigger than buns and rolls).

January – bread rolls

February – mothering buns

The Death House

The Death HouseThe Death House by Sarah Pinborough

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow! I had sworn off any more Sarah Pinborough books, as the last one of hers I read, Murder, was so depressing but I was intrigued by the premise of The Death House, so I thought I’d give it a go and I’m really glad I did, as it’s very different from Murder and I thought Death House was absolutely brilliant. The Death House is set in an unspecified time in the future, there are a few clues throughout the story about how far in the future but it doesn’t really matter as The Death House itself it caught almost in a bubble of time that seems dated even now. Something has happened which means that children are tested for a defective gene and if they have it they are sent to the Death House, where they are cared for, as much as being fed and clothed is being cared for, until they get sick and then they disappear, never to be seen again, into the Sanatorium.

Told from the viewpoint of Toby, one of the older children, Toby is walking around with a constant pit of fear in his stomach, his only ‘freedom’ is at night, when he explores the house on his own and he doesn’t like it when a new girl arrives, Clara, and she disrupts that freedom. It’s a brilliant story about living in the moment and it’s also in parts incredibly sad. It reminded me of Never Let Me Go, which is another favourite story.

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