A new beginning

It’s true then. What’s more, I’m finally starting to feel like I really did it – though I never thought I would. But I did and it feels good.

My new apartment – although not nearly finished yet – already feels like home. My very own place. No need to compromise. All mine.

And I’m in love with the place. I have my piano. I have London. My grandmother’s old side table, which I’ve been using as a dining table for the time being.

pianoI’ve got my books. I took only the books I love and will be reading again and again and again. It might not look very minimalist to others, but it sure is to me.

booksIn the corner beside one of the bookcases there’s the bicycle wheel I intend to turn into a chandelier.

No couch or recliners yet, but I do have a working hob – finally – so I can sit on my bekvam step stool, enjoying a hot cocoa and a good book.

I can prepare good, tasty meals in my small but well equipped kitchen. I have to admit to feeling rather smug about my “secret” spice cupboard behind the kitchen door. Just five simple bekvam spice racks screwed to the wall right where I need them: not even two steps away from the hob.

herbs-spicesAlso, since I usually keep my kitchen door open, the spices are protected from direct daylight most of the time.

I do need to think of more creative solutions for my kitchen, seeing that storage space there is very limited indeed, but I’m sure I’ll come up with something.

Now, freed from having to deal with all the stuff I neither wanted nor needed, I’ve been asking myself: What do I really want from life? How do I want to spend my time? What is really important to me?

I can’t say I have all the answers yet, but at least some answers are already forming in my mind.

Summed up in three short words: I want less.

Which brings me right back to the core of what minimalism is all about. To live simply, with just those things we really love and need. To get get away from the consumerism that’s everywhere and which is so hard not to fall prey to.

This is what I want: a simple life.

A place to call home, enough clothes, good, honest food and the company of my loved ones. Those should be my priorities, and I intend to get those right.

Though I’m not sure how to get there yet, get there I shall. I will learn how to do what’s good for me.

 

 

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After the move

Last Monday was the big day.

No, the house wasn’t ready yet. Not by a long shot, but the living room and two of the bedrooms were ready enough. So the movers came and my furniture plus a staggering amount of moving boxes (around forty!) were moved into my new home.

I slept in my new place, but only once, since I haven’t been able to connect my new hob to the gas pipe yet and will need to get a gas fitter over to get that job done for me.

No hob means no tea and if you know me, you know that’s a real problem. I need my morning tea. And my afternoon tea.

And my late night tea.

On a brighter note, we managed to get my phone and internet working. I think.

And I brought a little bit of London into my living room.

LivingRoom-Piano

Because a bad day in London is still better than a good day anywhere else, or so they say. I think there’s a lot of truth to that statement. I’d go back to London in a pinch if I could, but since I can’t, I’ll enjoy the view from my couch.

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My dream home

I’d love to live in a tiny house and have been ogling them on the world wide web for ages.

tiny

Compact, clutterfree and low maintenance. That would be my dream home.

But since I can’t live in a dream, I’m going to turn my own new place into my dream home. I can totally do that.

Yes, I have a new place to live. Though I’m sad to be leaving my spouse after 24 years of marriage, we’ve decided that it’s best for both of us this way. So I found myself a nice apartment and will be moving into it shortly. However, there’s work to be done first.

But let me show you around. Entrez!

A long, narrow hallway connects most of the rooms of the apartment.

Hallway

The kitchen is small, but will suffice. Also, it’s got brand new cabinets, sink and countertop, so that’s one thing I won’t have to spend money on.

kitchen1

The bathroom. Newly renovated just before I moved in. No need to spend a ton of money there either.

bathroom1

bathroom2

The John. Gorgeous, innit?

loo

The guest room. Small, but with plenty of potential.

GuestRoom

The Junior Warrior’s room is adjacent to the Guest room. It’s the largest of the three bed rooms, and should give my warrior plenty of room to store and display all the things a junior warrior needs.

TeenBR1

The master bedroom is not quite so large, but suit my needs just fine.

MasterBed1

And last but not least, there’s the living room. Small, but spacious enough for the two of us. I’m rather pleased to finally have a mantle. I never had that in any of my previous homes. Not since I was a child.

LivingRoom

So there it is. My new home.

I’m starting over, with the chance to pursuit my minimalist dream. Will it remain just a dream, or will I make my dream come true?

It’s up to me now.

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Minimalist meets hoarder

I’m on a decluttering spree again. Sure, the house is much better than it used to be, but it’s not enough. All the stuff I have to take care of just gets to me. The clutter, always creeping up on me. It makes me feel as if I’m slowly – very slowly – choking to death.

And even though I got rid of several bags and boxes of stuff again, it’s still not enough. Sometimes I secretly wonder if it’ll ever be enough. Will I ever find peace in my own home?

So today I’m gonna be candid and tell you what it’s like to live with a hoarder.

Let’s start with a picture of how it was. After we’d already done a lot of decluttering.

b5b80-loft-before

Yes, it was that bad, and even worse. Also, let’s not forget about the garage where he used to store the “treasures” for which he found no room in the house anymore. We finally managed to clear that out back in November 2013.

22a47-garage-after2

Then of course he’s been renting storage somewhere closer to home ever since giving up that garage. To store even more useless stuff. He spends good money each and every month to store what’s basically just rubbish.

Meanwhile, our attic is filled with so much stuff I cannot fathom how he ever manages to find anything in there. The ventalition system hasn’t been working for the last decade (which is about as long as we’ve been living in this house) and probably never will work again. I still have no electricity in my bedroom – and quite frankly, I’ve given up hope of that ever happening.

His bedroom is an accident waiting to happen. Literally. We cannot clean in there. It’s nigh impossible to open the window, and as he never bothers to pull up the blind, it’s not only always smelly in his room, but also dark.

At least I managed to conquer the mess in the rest of the house. More or less, but it’s an ongoing struggle and I’m so tired of it. Is it really too much to ask for, to live in an ordinary, organised house? A clean home, where I won’t always have to pick up after someone else?

I have to admit, I often find myself dreaming of moving out into a place of my own. A place where I won’t have to keep up with all that stuff. It doesn’t have to be fancy. Clean and uncluttered would suit me just fine.

I look at pictures of minimalist interiors and cannot help but feeling envious. I want that too, but unless I move out, I’ll never have it. Never.

And then there are those that try to tell me it’s really all just my own stupid fault.

hoarding-victim

Why, thank you mister Ron Alford, for being so helpful and understanding. I’ll be sure to tell my spouse to give you his money so he can finally get rid of all the stuff he doesn’t even want to ditch. Ever.

Really. Telling a victim – yes, a victim! – of a hoarder that they have actually enabled the hoarding is akin to telling the victim of an abusive spouse that the abuse is really their own fault. Because they enabled and allowed it.

The truth is quite different. I’d wager that most people who get into a relationship with a hoarder don’t even know about their partner’s hoarding tendencies until it’s too late.

They may, like me, find out when they unwittingly throw out one or two of their partner’s completely worn out t-shirts. You know, those old grimy things that won’t get clean anymore no matter what and have frayed edges and the odd hole here and there. That kind of worn out.

And then their partner finds out and all hell breaks loose. He’ll yell and scream, bang doors, throw random things (though strangely never his own!) around, and threatens to harm you.

I don’t know about you, but I think that’s a pretty scary experience and one you never, ever, EVER wish to repeat. So you try to merge into the background and promise yourself to never get him that angry again.

Then, when you have children, you fear for them and their safety, so you try to please and placate him even more, while he takes over your house, your wits, your self esteem and eventually your entire life.

That’s what it’s like. So don’t come telling me I allowed and enabled it. I did no such thing. I simply tried to survive as best I could. Just like the victims of those miserable excuses for human beings that beat their partners up. It’s really not all that different.

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Laundry room update

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, I’m sure you’ll remember how I created a laundry room in the cupboard on the landing.

How it went from (actually worse than) this:

laundryroomTo this!

laundry-room(Please excuse the poor quality of the pictures. We get no natural light there, and my camera is really just a simple one.)

Last week I got around to finally prettying my laundry room up a bit. I found some laundry room art online (just do a picture search on laundry room and you’ll find oodles of cool pictures!) which I printed out, framed and hung on the walls.

laundryroom1I also put a hook in the wall to hang my ironing board. Since I don’t do a lot of ironing (hate it with a passion!) I only need this small Ikea ironing board. It doesn’t take up much space in my tiny laundry room and is ideal for my purposes.

I think the ironing room pictures look rather neat in my ironing corner.

laundryroom2And because I’m such a word nerd, I really had to hang a framed definition of the word laundry on the opposite wall. Just in case anyone might need the reminder. 😉

laundryroom3But as with all DIY projects, not all went well. When I removed the painter’s tape after caulking the edges of the working surface, some of the wall paint came off. I haven’t had time to touch it up yet, but will do so as soon as I can.

caulkingDon’t you hate it when things like these happen?

Oh well. Here’s one final picture of our new laundry room in action.

laundryroom4Yes, we still need an electrical outlet in there, but I need to call in an electrician to do that job for me and frankly, I dread making the phone call. I hate the phone. As far as I’m concerned that’s just another necessary evil.

But enough moaning. I am totally in love with my laundry room – even with all its imperfections. It really takes a lot of the effort out of doing the laundry. No more sorting needed; the laundry gets sorted the moment it hits the baskets. All I have to do is pull out a basket once it’s full, put it in the laundry machine and transfer the laundry to the dryer or hang it to dry when it’s clean.

I admit to sometimes feeling guilty for having a tumble dryer but quite honestly, I need it. I could never stay on top of the laundry before. Now it’s easy. That sure makes me a happy guy.

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Meet Artemis

Here she is. Our new family member, Artemis.

Artemis1Isn’t she perfectly adorable?

Of course we weren’t going to have any more cats. We already had four, and that was quite enough.

Then there was this bloke in one of my groups, who found this little goddess in his back yard. After unsuccesfully trying to locate her owners, he assumed she’d been dumped. Poor thing. He’d have kept her if it weren’t for his tomcat who bullied her relentlessly, so he was looking for a good home for this little darling.

What could I do?

Things weren’t easy for Artemis when she first arrived at our place. She was so scared, she hid. Behind the newly built bookcase in DD-21’s room. Which, as you may remember, is a build-in. So how did she end up behind it, I can hear you wonder. Well, we weren’t quite finished building it yet, and there was one small gap left. Too small for a cat to worm through, or so we thought…

Of course, her hiding behind the bookcase wouldn’t have been too much of a problem if she’d have decided to come out of hiding after a while. But she didn’t. Not that first day. And not even during the night.

So the next morning, when she hadn’t eaten in roughly 24 hours, we decided to move that bookcase and get our scaredy cat. As you might imagine, Missy didn’t think that was a good idea at all. So when I finally got a hold of her, she bit me. Poor thing.

In the end we managed to get her into the cat carrier and took her to the vet’s. Thankfully, she wasn’t dehydrated yet, but if she wouldn’t start eating within the next hour or so, we’d have to force feed her.

Back home, we cat-proofed the bathroom (so she had no place to hide but the cat carrier) and put her there. Not the nicest place to be, but at least it was safe and we’d be able to feed her.

Meanwhile, my hand had swollen to about twice its usual size and hurt like hell. I’d been bitten by cats before, and never had any problems then, so I knew this wasn’t good. Time to go see the doctor. I got antibiotics (hate them, but I knew I needed them) which should work their magic within two or three days. Back home I decided I might as well get a cold pack out of the freezer and see if that would at least diminish the swelling a bit and help with the pain.

With me being reduced to sitting on the couch, nursing my sore hand and well, sleeping a lot, DD-21 took care of our new kitty. She fed her every other hour and tried to gain her trust and bond with her.

Initially we wondered whether she really had been dumped or if she might be feral after all. Could it be that the bloke who took her in at first had been mistaken? Missy behaved much like a feral cat and didn’t appear to be socialised at all.

We worried that she might never be happy living with us. However, we weren’t going to give up just like that. She might just be very shy and too scared to show her true colours.

It took a while, but little by little DD-21 saw progress. Baby steps at a time.

We’ve had Missy for a couple of weeks now, and she’s back in DD-21’s room. We finished the build-in bookcase, so there’s no way she can get behind it anymore now. Sure, she likes to hide under the bed. But she also likes to sit in the windowsill and look at what’s going on outside. She likes to play with DD-21, and likes to cuddle up with her at night.

Artemis2She’s still shy and scares easily, but we think she’ll come around. It’s gonna take time for her to adjust to our crazy household. But we’ve had other damaged cats. And we are patient. She can take all the time she needs, and we’ll still be there for her. Because she deserves a good life. Because she’s sweet and adorable. And because she’s ours.

What? The hand?

The antibiotics started working their magic after two days. After three days, I didn’t need the ice pack anymore. My hand healed just fine.

Posted in Cats | 4 Comments

Summer break

Sweltering hot days. Sweaty, breathless nights. Lots of dirty laundry. A home buzzing with activity. Overnight guests.

Life is good. And of course, with the study doubling as guest room, I couldn’t always access my computer. Not that it mattered. I was too busy celebrating summer. Too busy working on my numerous projects. Too busy having way too much fun.

But have a sneak peek at what I’ve been up to lately. I hope to be able to blog about it soon.

DD-21 and I made this build-in bookcase in her room

bookcase
It was even more work than we anticipated, and things didn’t always go the way we wanted, but the end result is well worth all the trouble we went through.

I finished my laundry room

laundry-room

Well… almost. Still need to add the real finishing touches. Like caulking and decorating, but I’m definitely getting somewhere now.

I made a fairy garden

FairyGardenI’d been ogling them on pinterest. I actually dedicated an entire pinterest board to these enchanting little beauties, so it was imperative that I got myself one.

And finally… drumroll please…

I got started on Project Front Yard

FrontYardWhereas our front yard was easily the most boring front yard in the neighbourhood, I think I can honestly say it’s one of the nicest front yards now. And on a tight budget too. Go me!

PS: We also got a new family member. I’m not sharing any details yet, but will dedicate a post to our new family member real soon, so stay tuned.

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