7 July

I spent most of today preparing for a family member staying a few days, but I did manage to make a few more decisions about junk room items.

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My partner bought a new phone a couple months ago, and I held onto everything that came with it in case something went wrong and we needed the packaging and stuff to return it. I think it’s fine now to toss most of it. The contract and receipts were filed.

 

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These shells survived a previous declutter, but I feel no attachment to them now, so they can go to the donate area.

 

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This decorating book from 1973 stinks of old cigarette smoke, but I find the pictures and descriptions fascinating to compare with all the tricks and trends I read about on decor blogs. So much has come back into fashion. I’ll look though it once more before returning it to the op shops.

 

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A few more books and a 1960s toast rack. I had planned to use the toast rack to display photos, but it never happened and I feel comfortable getting rid of it now. I never look at the books anymore, although I was tempted to keep them for painting reference. But I can find any pictures I want online. Goodbye, and thank you, books!

I gathered a few picture-hanging nails, a bulldog clip, and a hankerchief from the junk room and put them back in their correct spots, then binned a few bits of plastic and paper. Now I just need to re-read that ’70s decorating book and I’ll have a boxful ready to donate!

 

 

6 July

I visited the junk room again, and picked up another two items that needed homes.

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The white bar I bought for $1 and the silver one was $3 from thrifting at least a year ago. I thought at the time that I could use them to create some vertical storage. But I wasn’t sure where, and I was worried about drilling holes. Today, I finally decided.

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I gathered the drill and accessories, then scraped together some suitable screws (turns out that in our house, short screws are in short supply).

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The pantry is a bit empty at the moment, but often the lids need to be stacked on each other and I worry about them sliding off. I thought the white bar would work well as a pot lid holder. I marked the holes, realised the drill wouldn’t fit, marked some new holes, took a deep breath, and drilled.

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It doesn’t look much different, but it makes me breathe easier. I wiggled the lids around, and there’s no chance of them slipping out. Yay!

One item down, one to go.

I thought the silver bar would fit nicely under the sink, on the right.

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The screws I originally chose were too fat for the bar’s holes, and I couldn’t find any smaller ones that weren’t ridiculously small. There were a handful of screw hooks, though.

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Perfect size, and the additional hooks are a bonus!

I eyeballed it level, marked the holes, and drilled (with less trepidation this time). The hooks screwed in perfectly.

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Wow; I can’t believe I did it. I drilled holes and created some vertical storage. Fewer piles of stuff in the kitchen and fewer items in the junk room for the win!

5 July

As I declutter, I am beginning to encounter items that aren’t as immediately obvious as trash, recycle, or donate. Mostly op-shop finds that I really like, or that could be useful if I could find a place for them. I’ve taken to wandering into the junk room, picking up an item, agonising over what to do with it for a few minutes, then putting it back.

Today’s item was a seashell macrame plant hanger. I have two hanging near our TV and love them:

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I’ve seen shell macrame hangers in retail shops for $30 and up, but the most I’ve spent on one is $7. I think in all my years of thrifting, I’ve only found 5 in op-shops. The first two I bought, the 3rd was falling apart so I left it, the 4th I bought, and the 5th I left behind because I hadn’t yet found a place for the 4th.

Today, I found a place.

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This is our guest loo, detached from our guest bathroom. After I painted the walls white last year, I tried hanging pictures, but the room is so narrow that I worried about people bumping the frames. The only decor I felt comfortable with were a few small objects on the window ledge and a poster stuck to the back of the door.

I don’t know why hanging the shell macrame in here didn’t occur to me before. I just screwed a hook into the ceiling and hung it up. I was careful to position it so visitors couldn’t bump it, but it’s much shorter than the ones near the TV so I’m confident that won’t be a problem.

This room gets good light from the window and high humidity from the loo, so I took one of the happy ferns from our ensuite bathroom and gave it a new home here. I stood back and admired how much better it looked with the pop of blue and green, but then the shiny brass light mount jumped out at me.

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So I gave the light a clean and a few coats of black spray paint, let it dry, and replaced it.

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I don’t like the warm white light, but I’ve already used all of our cool bulbs in other fixtures.

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I’m so happy with this little room now. It has a pop of color and life instead of barren whiteness. The tan in the shells paired with the ugly peach tiles almost looks good. The black window frame paired with the black light mount looks great. There’s a sense of intentionality, rather than incompleteness.

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If only the other rooms were this easy.

Thrifting #8

I haven’t brought anything home from the op-shops lately, other than boring practical stuff like plastic drawer organisers. Here are a few interesting items I saw:

Another two shell belts. Pretty, if impractical.

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They’d be good to take apart for craft or decor projects. Not for me, though.

 

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I snatched this vase up as soon as I spotted it. Rather large, with a gradiant and proportion of blues perfectly matched with what I aim for in my home. Sadly, the white wasn’t. A depressing, dirty cream rather than the fresh crisp white I prefer. So, back on the shelf it went. I think it was $3 or $4. A good buy, but with a flaw I couldn’t overlook.

 

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A similar story with this nice ceramic vessel. Perfect crisp white this time, interesting tilted opening, large size, and only $3.50, but with a flaw I couldn’t unsee.

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The rim was very uneven on one side. I was disappointed, but I knew I would always notice it.

 

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Next, two cheap items (I think the green stickers in this shop mean $1) that I loved, but could easily become clutter very soon if brought home. The glass pebbles were a wonderful frosted color, and the soap was unopened in a nice scent. However, all pebbles I’ve ever purchased have ended up donated back to the op-shops, and the soap bar was very small and I have a surplus of soap at the moment.

 

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I’m feeling pressure from my partner to find ‘real’ chairs to replace the nice folding chairs in his hobby room. These were marked $20 each, were pretty sturdy (most chairs like this are very wobbly), and would been easy to paint and/or reupholster. But, he hates cane furniture. Sorry, chairs.

 

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Beside the chairs was this nice bookcase. I could have used it as-is, or painted it white. 95% of the shelving in op-shops is horrible flat-pack laminate, so this was a rare opportunity to buy a quality piece for only $60 (plus $20-$30 to have it transported).  The hole could be easily covered by a picture or a book. But, I’m trying to refrain from buying any bulky furniture, much to my partner’s chagrin. He recently tried to convince me to buy a huge double-door cupboard for his hobby room because his items were taking over the floor. I was able to move everything into the existing furniture (or the garage) within just a couple hours of organising and decluttering.

 

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A big white cement candleholder. I love the look, but I recently donated one similar to this. I didn’t check the price.

 

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A big shell planter. Some white spray paint and a nice plant would transform this wonderfully. I think it was marked $8 or so. Not quite the right shape for me.

 

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I was tempted by this crab tureen. It was horribly ugly, yet cute too. The crab is realistic, even if the red makes it seem cooked instead of alive. The shell was perfectly white. It was a huge tureen, no chips, and only $4. But where would I put it?

 

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Another white ceramic shell. Actually, an identical pair, priced $8 each. Pretty big and realistic, but I already have a big white fake clamshell that I love far more.

 

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Finally, a tempting book. I avoid buying books because I can find everything I could want at the library or on the internet instead, but this one I really had to think about.

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The decorating ideas were hit and miss, but that just made each page interesting. It was like a Where’s Wally (Waldo in the U.S.) of decor elements that I could look though, spotting ideas that I liked mixed in the same photo with tacky and horrible craft projects. It’s like an evil, over-the-top twin of my own decorating taste, which made this book fascinating to me. But I knew it would eventually be re-donated, as most books I’ve bought have been. I think it was marked $3.

That’s all for now, but I’m eager to see what the shops hold this week.

 

 

Thrifting #7

Some nice things I saw that weren’t quite for me:

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This wood bowl was beautiful. I think it was marked either $12 or $14, and it was a half-price day. A nice piece of wood, well worth a few dollars. Too orange for me though, and I have no good spot to display it. It would just become clutter.

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I was excited about this painting until I saw the two people standing on the beach. Ugh, why do artists have a ruin an idyllic view by adding people? Rhetorical question; I know most people don’t think like I do. Also, it was marked $45.

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A tiny box of shells. Only $1 and the wood was pretty, but the shells were dusty (with no way to open the box to wash them) and the background was orange (my least favorite color).

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A pair of sea-urchin-like frames at $2.50 each. I was really tempted to buy these. Perfect pattern, perfect colors. Looking at them now, I still feel that pull. But, I already have a frame I love even more that’s waiting for a picture. I don’t want to get more frames until I’ve filled that one. I’m trying to start as few new projects as possible. I’m a bit sad I left them behind, but I don’t regret it.

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A 3-D fish! Pretty big! In a frame! But, it was mostly yellow (a color I associate with body oil stains, smoke-stained walls, and old crumbling plastic), and the face was a bit too goofy. Made my heart jump at first glance, though. I think it was $8 or $10.

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A belt with a half nautilus shell attached. I already have a thrifted nautilus shell, and this one was cracked and chipped. It would  have only been $2 though.

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An instant shell collection! I liked the baler shell in back, but they were all rather too small, uninteresting, and yellowish for my taste. I own enough shells already, so I’ve become picky. $20 is a bit cheaper than I’d expect for this shop, but still enough that I’d balk on price alone as a factor.

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More big yellow fish! I tried imagining them with a coat of spray paint, but their shapes were (again) a bit too goofy for my taste. $2.50 each would have been a good deal if I’d liked them.

And what I did buy:

Lots of supplies for our pet rats’ cage, and a couple things for me.

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A $4 bar of soap for 50 cents. I thrifted a 5-pack of this brand for $3 a while ago and only have a couple left, so I was excited to find this one. It’s a bit battered, but still useable. A very strong rose scent.

I’ve been browsing rings online intermittantly, and I don’t like 99.9% of them at all. But I do like ones made of white metal with a band of decoration inset all around the circumference.

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I’m so, so lucky I found this one. I was at the checkout counter with some rat cage supplies (mostly curtain rings), and as I waited to pay I saw a small tray of rings beside me, with this one right on top. I wasn’t excited yet because most rings don’t fit my big fingers, but I tried slipping it on, and not only did it fit, it was comfortable! I quickly asked how much, and couldn’t hand over the $1 fast enough. I wore it out of the shop, and spent the rest of the day admiring the iridescence flashing in the sun. It is perfect!

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The next item is something I thought I’d never see in an op-shop. When I first saw it, I dismissed it, thinking “Huh, that looks like a (item), haha,” and kept browsing. Finally the flow of people dispersed enough that I could get close enough to pick it up, and it actually was

 

…a glass fishing float!

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I just held it for a moment, disbelieving. Once it hit me, I didn’t feel excitement, or happiness, or relief. I just thought, “Why did it have to be purple?” I was disappointed. There was dirt inside. It wasn’t the green shiny bauble I wanted.

I tried to convince myself otherwise. Maybe it had been made clear and had turned purple with sunlight exposure, like some old glass does. Maybe it would look good in my decor, even as the only spot of purple. Maybe one day I’d have a bunch of common green and blue floats, then it would look like the quirky one of the collection.

I almost put it back on the shelf. I don’t want to buy things that don’t excite me. Then I told myself, “It’ll probably only cost 3 or 4 dollars. It’s not what I wanted, but it’s probably as close as I’ll ever find under 20.” I finally went up to the pay counter, and after some ribbing from the volunteer (“Is that all? Think you can afford it?”) I managed a polite smile and a self-deprecating answer (“I hope so, but probably not.”) so they’d finally give me a price.

50 cents.

I paid, took the reciept, carefully wrapped my plastic bag around the float a few times for meagre cushioning, and left. Still no excitement. A little relief that it was so cheap, a bit of worry about breaking it before I got home, and a lot of introspection about why I wasn’t the happiest person on earth right now.

This was my holy grail. Throughout my life, every time I visited a beach, I’d search the sand and vegetation for a glint of glass or a bit of net. I devoured websites and forums about floats, reading the words of people richer or luckier than me who owned these jewels from the tide. I imagined my own small collection, blue and green glass orbs shining in the light. Now I’d actually found one, but it somehow wasn’t cause for joy. Wrong color, wrong circumstances.

Once home, I washed it, did some research to see if it was authentic or a tourist reproduction (answer: I don’t know, but probably a repro), and found a spot for it inside a paua shell where it wouldn’t roll off. I’m glad I have it. But I still would rather have found a prettier one. One that isn’t purple. Oh well.

I thrifted a fishing float! Yay.

8 June

Over the last  couple weeks, I’ve:

  • cleaned the floor drain in the ensuite bathroom (I had to dig the grill out of the grout to access the blocked pipe, so it had never been cleaned in the 12 years since the house was built), removed a fist-sized clump of hair, a finger-sized wedge of wood, a black solidified sediment about an inch thick, three handfuls of grit and sand, and lots of black and gray goop
  • hired someone to haul the huge pile of plant debris away, along with the disintigrating click-clack sofa we’ve had in the front room for months, and several long metal curtain tracks that have been sitting beside the rubbish bins since we bought the house

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  • sawed down about 30 giant agave attenuatas (I needed a wheelbarrow to move some) growing along the side of the house and offered them for free on the front lawn (all gone within 5 hours), leaving about 15 still growing in the rock wall

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I felt a great sense of accomplishment from getting these things done, and look forward to seeing what else I can do this month.

Expecting a light work week, I resumed painting the exterior of the house last Sunday, scraping away gravel and dirt so I could paint the lowest edges. I then got called in to work Monday, went thrifting Tuesday, and got called in to work again on Wednesday and Thursday. Good for the bank account, bad for house painting plans. I believe I’ll have time Friday, Saturday, and Sunday to finish the downpipes and eaves.

After finishing work today, I realised tomorrow was rubbish morning and scrambled to fill the bin before darkness fell. Easily done by removing some organic matter from our yard.

I gave our tibouchina tree a trim, then removed the half-dead wisteria from the fence.

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The above photo is from last year. By now, the right half had turned into dead, crumbly sticks and the left half had reached its tendrils into the inaccessible part of our neighbor’s yard again. I was sick of cutting it back, so today I just removed it.

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I’ll need to hammer some boards back in place from the wisteria growing between them and popping them out.

The remaining plants are orange knifophia, blue and white agapanthus, orange daylilies, and red hippeastrum. They really need some division and care, but that’s a project for another day. At least they’re no longer drowning in grass.

Finally, I sawed away a few agave stumps and pulled up clumps of roots to top off the bin.

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I’m slowly working left, pulling out and sawing away everything. I’ve been scattering marigold seeds as a short-term solution while I think of what I want to really do with this area.

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I’m glad I had to fill the bin today. The weather was perfect and the results are satisfying. This weekend, I’ll treat myself to some new leather gardening gloves.

 

 

 

 

 

22 May

Vine cutting, continued…

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The morning weather was cool and misty. Perfect for outdoor work.

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I listen to podcasts on my phone, which helped to pass the time.

I haven’t encountered any startling bugs or critters yet. Lots of tiny lizards, but I love seeing them.

By noon, I was nearing the end of the fence.

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And after an hour for lunch and two more hours of work, I’d reached it!

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Half of that time was spent clearing weeds in the rocks.

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I think it’s at least one truckload; maybe two. Maybe I’ll get the rest of those vines in that corner tomorrow morning. Wednesday I plan to saw off many of the giant agaves and put them by the side of the road for anyone who wants them. That’ll make it easier to reach some vines and weeds behind them.

I’m so proud of what I’ve done over the past couple days. I’ll reward myself with a day of thrifting tomorrow, then arrange for someone to haul away the pile before it kills the grass.

21 May

This morning I pulled some weeds.

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Then green-headed ants swarmed all over the weeds.

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As usual whenever I work in the garden, one got inside my glove and bit me.

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I planted marigolds in this spot years ago, and they’ve self-seeded ever since.

So I stopped until the throbbing pain faded.

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The ants were still swarming after 10 minutes, so I moved to another area.

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Twenty minutes of work, and I had filled another bag.

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But the progress was so slow while constantly stopping to stuff bits in the bag, that I didn’t bother fetching another. I just went for it, to see how much I could get done before I got bitten or tired.

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After an hour, I’d taken a good bite out of the greenery.

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Still a lot left to go. I got a quote a few months ago to get all the vines removed, but it was way more than I’d expected. I’ll see if I can get a cheaper quote once I remove all the vines that I’m able to reach.

After a drink, I returned to balancing on top of the rocks in the hot sun.

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Got another good chunk removed before my partner got home and it was time to stop.

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I had a look, and the vines thin out a bit to the left, so hopefully that’ll go faster.

I poisoned the rightmost vine with a drill and undiluted roundup. Drilled about 15 holes.

It’s good to see the fence again.

 

 

 

11 May

I had quite a chunk of daylight left after work today, and I spent most of it in the front yard.

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Someday I’ll dig up all these ugly strelitzia stumps, but just a quick clip today.

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These double-flowering may bushes are beautiful when flowering, and ugly sticks all the rest of the year.

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Now I won’t have to shove them out of the way as I mow.

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That’s a few weeks’ worth of full rubbish bins right there.

 

 

10 May

Today I decluttered one of our kitchen corner cabinets. I faintly remember doing this about a year ago, but it didn’t stick.

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My main goal was to find our package of padlocks to replace the broken one on our garden shed. I knew they were in there somewhere.

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I moved a handful of stuff to the garage, another handful to the donate outbox, tossed two grocery bags’ worth, wiped the shelves, and organised everything. I kept a few things I probably don’t need, but I’m happy with the progress. There’s so much room in there now!