The point of Birthday gifts

It’s my birthday next week and I’ve gotten the usual messages from friends asking what I’d like as a gift.

Normally I’d have an amazon wishlist, full of books because they’re around £10 and so within an acceptable gift budget. Not because they were the things I most wanted, but because I knew my friends could afford them. This is a bonkers way to look at birthdays.

The things I need (a wax jacket, cashmere jumper) are too much, I’d never ask my friends for something that expensive. I put vouchers on the list so that everyone sort of chips in for one thing without the hassle of organising but everyone wants to give things. I say ‘just buy me a drink when we’re out’ and they say they feel awkward without a gift.

Don’t get me wrong, there are loads of things I want but they’re not ‘gifts’. It’s stuff like a new living room rug, a le crueset casserole dish, decking in the back garden and a new iPad (mine is so old they don’t update the software anymore).

Any ideas? How do you handle birthdays?


I’m exhausted…

We’ve gotten so much ticked off our to do list.

I’ve had an insanely busy week but I haven’t felt this ‘on top of things’ in ages! However, I’m knackered so todays post shall be in bullet point format!

  • We’ve ordered the garden toys for Tabi (climbing cube, rocking horse and a pedal-less trike).
  • Bought a new vacuum (ours was 11 years old and starting to struggle)
  • Replaced damaged clothes and filled some wardrobe gaps. Not finished yet but getting there.
  • Changed Tabi’s bedroom. We needed a wardrobe now she’s wearing dresses more.
  • Sold 3 things on eBay
  • Took a boot full to the recycling centre (mainly the packaging for Tabi’s new furniture but at least it’s not in the garage!)
  • Recycled my iPad (new one to be ordered)
  • Stripped and remade the bed. Yeah, I know, should be weekly but we never seem to get around to it! Think it’s been a month!
  • Last but not least, we paid off every single unsecured debt we had. We increased the mortgage by the amount of our non mortgage debt so we’re now paying 2.69% instead of anything up to 17.19% and our monthly outgoings are reduced by a little over £800.  We still have 20% equity in the house so we haven’t over borrowed either.

Good for a week!


And my complete lack thereof.

I’ve done little things this week but we’re still wrangling planning permission and a budget for the housing changes. There’s a huge clear out coming very soon, I reckon you’re in for the mother of all discard posts as soon as the work is completed and we start moving our furniture back in!

I did go to my Nana’s on Monday and try to clear her spare room out. She’s a hoarder and also stores stuff for my uncle to sell at car boot sales (which he hasn’t done in almost 2 years) so she couldn’t even see the bed, let alone get into the room.

I didn’t take before and after pictures but we took a car full to the recycling centre and charity shop, she can now use the bed and the floor is visible. She still needs to go through things like videos and bedding, as well as her clothes and shoes, but we got started, which is the main thing. Especially since when I’d finally cleared a path to the window, I found it covered in mould! It’s being scrubbed with bleach as I type and the window will be left ajar until it airs out.

It did need done but I think it also felt easier to help my Nana than to get on with my own clear out. I’m hoping I have more headspace after my exam to really finish editing our possessions and finding some stable ground for a while.

Unfortunately I’ve also rediscovered my love of buying Baby Boden clothes cheap on eBay so there’s more stuff on the way in. Baby clothes seem to spawn out of control whenever I turn my back. She’s growing so quickly I can’t get the ‘too small’ stuff listed quick enough!

House Edit

Ah the house changes….

We are doing the following

  • Moving a door into a cupboard from my husbands study to the w/c
  • bringing down the wall between our living room and dining room (currently Tabi’s playroom)
  • changing our living room window for a bifold door
  • installing decking outside the new bifold door
  • moving the front path and extending the fence.

Currently Our living room looks like this:

We’re planning to change it to:

The first picture is aiming towards the wall with the TV on it, which is coming down, the second picture shows the living room window as a door.

Maybe floorpan will be easier!

RoomSketcher Level Image

I think a more open plan layout will be better with a toddler running around and the door out onto decking should give us more use of the garden. I can’t let her run in and out just now because of the step down to the patio, I don’t want her to trip, especially not onto slabs!

I do have some concerns. We went open plan in our last house and found that unless everything was spotless, the whole space looked messy. That was an open plan kitchen, living, dining in roughly the same space as we now have for living/dining. The last house didn’t have a large glass door at one end either so I’m hoping the combination of larger space and extra light stops it looking cluttered.

It’s just nerves because it’s quite a lot of money to be spending (I think around £7k) and there’s alway the chance that it’s a mistake and you’re wasting your money!

And the £7k isn’t just for the wall! It’s the wall, decoration, moving a cupboard door from husbands study to the w/c, building warrant, bifold door addition, decking and some work on the front garden. All electrical and plumbing work (there’s a radiator in the way), flooring and with any luck it should stretch to cover maybe half of the string shelving I have my eye on!

Discardia – Week 6-8

Tiny clear out (not including the boot full of rubbish that we hauled out of the garage) but we’re still up to our eyeballs in building warrants!

This week I’ve sold a knock off Eames style lounge chair, which I’m a bit sad about. I wanted one for ages but we just don’t have the space for it so it’s gone.


And another box of books to WeBuyBooks.


Money ‘earned’ – £182.51

I have to do the books in stages as I find them quite hard to part with. I’ve cleared out any ancient history or classical studies books as I’m taking next year off and have found it’s much easier to find, read and use the information in textbooks in iBook format. There’s an accepted way to reference eBook material under my university’s reference guide and it means I can take textbooks to work to read on my lunch break without putting my back out!

The fiction or general interest books are the ones I struggle most with but I’ve been quite strict with myself if I don’t think I’ll read a book again. There’s also a point, I think from Marie Kondo’s book, about how we tend to keep the books which create the image of ourselves as we’d like to be perceived, rather than who we are. A shelf full of Tolstoy when you prefer Kathy Reichs for example. So I’ve been editing with that in mind, did I really like this book, or did I like the idea of being the kind of person who likes this book?

My other consideration with books is Tabitha. I was a regular library goer, but there are some books which I’d never have thought to get out of the library and only read because they were in my parents house on a rainy day with nothing to do. So to that end, I’ve kept some books I otherwise wouldn’t have, simply because I want Tabi to have access to them later. My husband and I have a family account on iTunes, so any books purchased are shared between us as we both have iPads, but I don’t want her having a tablet for a very long time. I think it’s important to experience physical books and for her to go to a library to borrow, rather than iTunes to buy as her first instinct.

We’re probably not starting work until June so we still have a little time to clear out. There’s just so much of it, I’m finding it quite stressful!

Reset to Zero

I don’t remember where I first came across this idea so I’m afraid I can’t give credit, sorry!

Ages ago, I read a post, probably on a minimalism blog, about resetting to zero. There’s a weekly reset and a daily reset.

The daily reset can be simple – lay out your clothes for tomorrow, take your make up off, pick up around the house (dishes in the dishwasher instead of the sink, couch cushions re-fluffed etc), empty the bins. The weekly reset is usually more involved, like deal with all mail from the previous week, do laundry (wash – dry – iron – put away) and if you’re more organised than me, maybe some meal prep or even just doing your weekly shop.

The idea is that you finish things off and wake up in a reset home, ready to start, not snowed under with the things you didn’t finish yesterday or flailing around looking for your keys.

I don’t ever go to bed in a messy house now, haven’t for a while. Once you start doing it the mini reset every day, it becomes so quick you really don’t need much willpower!

My daily reset is:

  • Tidy the couch -cushions and blankets replaced/folded
  • Put away laptop & charger
  • Dirty dishes in dishwasher
  • Wipe down kitchen counter top
  • Baby toys back in her basket (this one gets done while the other parent is doing bedtime)
  • Clothes laid out
  • Skincare routine (I’m terrible for skimping on this step with a baby wipe!)
  • If it’s a nursery day, I lay the baby’s clothes out on her dresser before bedtime

The weekly reset is usually as above but I try to get all the ironing done so we all start the week with a full wardrobe.

It’s really handy if you’re trying to declutter because there are some things you keep coming across but can’t be bothered tidying/ironing/finding a home for and those are usually the first things out the door!