Monday, April 25, 2011

the memory box

This morning I sorted through a box of sentimental junk.   I do this periodically.  I throw out stuff that doesn't hold the same meaning as it used to.   I'm still upset that I accidentally threw out a box of letters a few years ago, but I've never missed anything that I've lost.

It's all gone now into a clear 10L plastic box, which is only half full (though, I've got a feeling there's more in the garage).  The cockroaches can't get it, and it's a limit to how much I can keep.  I have an identical box for special pieces of the boys' artwork and first handwriting etc.  I threw out a few things that I have no idea why I kept them.

They stack nicely in the top of my wardrobe, with a third box of old toys that belonged to my late father.  They are over fifty years old, and some are still in their original condition (hmm... maybe the hoarding is genetic?), and I'm not sure what to do with them.  Mum held on to them because she thinks they could be worth a bit of money, and some are probably worth displaying.  I guess I should do some investigating, because I don't know if I need them hanging out in the top of my wardrobe!

I haven't really kept much sentimental stuff for a long time, maybe because I'm semi-conscious that I've thrown out quite a bit over time.  Most of what I had kept was from my last few years of high school, and my years spent teaching, both bittersweet periods, more so than any other time.  In fact, all that I've put in their over the last few years has been the clips from my babies' umbilical cords!   Maybe I'll need to downgrade to an even smaller box in the next few years?      

How not to have less!

This morning, I was flipping through a food magazine that my grandmother had passed on to me.  She buys a lot of them, and they get passed to her daughters and then on to me.  I used to read them all and tear out recipes to try, but after realising I was never going to get through that pile of recipes, I now just flip through a couple of magazines and pass the whole lot on to someone else.

A paragraph struck me in the 'everyday cooks notes' section:
Investment Strategy
Considering a new kitchen appliance?  Before you hand over the credit card, ask three key questions; where will I put it, how often will I use it, and this time next year, will I be finding a new home for it? Then, to keep things interesting, allow yourself one irrational purchase per year.
And that one purchase, does it matter where you'll put it, how often you'll use it or whether you'll still be using it next year?      But, magazines make their money from advertising, and if people were always rational with their purchases, then the magazine industry would probably collapse.  What a shame.  Okay, end sarcasm.

I think the thing that most struck me was that this snippet struck me at all!   How much has my thinking changed.   I'm not going to buy a Cuisinart ice-cream maker ($119) or a Redecker vegetable scrubber ($8.95), both advertised on the same page, because I don't need them.  Okay, I want the ice cream maker, but the three or four times a year I would use it doesn't really warrant the purchase, or the space in my kitchen.

Friday, April 22, 2011

One Less Pile of Papers

I had a subscription to Gardening Australia magazine for three years, and occasionally buy Better Homes and Gardens magazine.  After I'd read each issue I'd tear out all the 'useful' pages and put them in a folder.  This afternoon I went through the whole lot and threw out three quarters of the pages.

The problem with magazine articles is that they only provide limited information: they mostly contain nice pictures.  The problem with gardening information is that I live in the tropics, but the bulk of the Australian population doesn't.  Sydney and Melbourne are far from tropical - more mediterranean and temperate climates - so much of the information about what to plant when is irrelevant to me.  Crikey, if I waited until Melbourne Cup Day (first Tuesday of November) to plant my tomatoes I would never have tomatoes: they are a winter crop up this way.

I've just kept a small pile of 'ideas' for if we want to do some renovating, or decorating.  Just a few things.  I threw out a lot that I didn't like anymore, so I'm okay with keeping a few things if I'm willing to sort through them every so often.


I bought a new handbag yesterday from the World Vision shop.  It's handmade by a lady in Ghana, and is small, light, and has a couple of pockets for my bits and pieces - like a spare nappy, and a comb.   When I need to take extra stuff, I'll take an extra bag.  I'll attempt to sell my oversized bag.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Pure Wipes

In my posting haste last night I forgot to add a link to Pure Wipes.   I originally bought them to clean grubby hands and faces when we were travelling around New Zealand last year, because they were very compact to fit in my bag.  They come in a little tube of ten, and are made of pure cotton. Just add a little water, about a tablespoon does the job, and you have a face washer.  Refill packs of 80 wipes are available.  

Just thinking about it, I could probably ditch the baby wipes and just use Pure Wipes when we are out.  We aren't often out long enough to need to do nappy changes away from home, and I usually only use wipes for a messy job (if you get my drift).  I don't use baby wipes at all at home: only face washers.  I bought a bulk pack of wipes because that was the most economical solution, but I usually only use disposable wipes and nappies full time when we are travelling. (More on that another day.)

Pure Wipes are considerably more expensive than Huggies wipes, and Huggies are the most expensive brand of wipes.  I buy Huggies because they do the best job. The tube of ten Pure Wipes takes up no more than a fifth of the space of the Huggies Travel Pack.  The Pure Wipes need water. But, considering I only use one or two wipes a week on average, and if I need to use a wipe I'm hopefully going to be near water anyway: the change room, a drink bottle, a coffee shop (dirty faces not dirty bottoms!!!).  

The space saved by the Pure Wipes outweighs the extra cost ($10 a year?). The convenience of the already-wet-wipes is a little harder to give up, but if I'm organised enough to always have water with me - and, I live in North Queensland so I should anyway- that shouldn't be an issue.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Excess baggage: my handbag

My handbag is too big and too full and too heavy. I bought a new one just before Christmas, and it’s been annoying me since just after Christmas. 
Once upon a time I used to just carry my wallet, phone and keys in a tiny little bag.  During the semester I would also have a pen and my student diary, but I’d leave them at home during term breaks, and would usually change handbags on weekends.  If I didn't need it while I was out, why bother lugging it around with me! 
When I had my first baby my handbag contained:
  • wallet
  • phone
  • keys
  • travel size baby wipes
  • one disposable nappy 
  • glasses case (I now wear glasses full time and prefer to wear sunglasses when I’m outside, and obviously need prescription sunglasses) 
  • pen 
  • a muslin wrap which I used as a breastfeeding cover, or a change mat, or a light blanket, or to wipe up spills.  
  • when the baby was a bit older I also kept a small container with a couple of biscuits in it, and a drink bottle, and left the wrap out because I didn’t really use it anymore. 
I kept two more spare nappies and a change of clothes in the car, and if I knew I would need more than that I would take it with me. 
But, seeing as somehow in between babies I’ve managed to make my whole life incredibly more complicated, I’ve now ended up with a huge handbag with far too much in it.  Well, I think it is huge.  Apparently it’s not that big.  
In my handbag today I have:
  • wallet
  • phone
  • keys
  • glasses case
  • small notebook for writing things down when I think of them at the shops
  • larger notebook for when I want to do some writing at a coffee shop while Big Boy is at Kindy and if Small Boy is asleep
  • a disposable nappy
  • a slightly larger travel case of baby wipes (but it is refillable, so I don’t mind too much that it is bigger)
  • muslin wrap
  • spare clothes for the baby and spare underpants for Big Boy. 
  • a folder with crayons and a notebook for Big Boy’s amusement
  • a small pencil case containing a pen, lipgloss, lip balm, an emery board, and a tube of Pure Wipes
  • A small stack of loyalty cards for various stores all tied up with a rubber band (it means I don’t have them all in my wallet and can have a smaller wallet but still have the loyalty cards)  
My bag is twice as big because I have twice as much stuff in there. I don’t hear my phone ring, and I have trouble finding my keys.  And guess what. I don’t even need it all. I don’t need the Pure Wipes when I’ve got baby wipes anyway: they’re left from when I only had a toilet trained but still messy toddler. I forget about the lip balm because it’s tucked away inside a case, and don’t really use it that often anyway.  I don’t use either notebook enough to warrant carrying them all the time.  I managed without spare clothes in my bag when my first son was a baby, I’m sure I can still manage now. 
Sadly, I spent a lot of money on this bag.  I wanted a nice leather handbag that would see me out five years or more, and had been looking few a weeks weeks at different bags and had narrowed down between two or three bags. I had a 30% off voucher for a particular bag store, and had decided I would get a bag there.   But then I saw this other bag, one that I hadn’t seen before.  It would definitely hold all I needed (or didn’t need, as it turns out), and it was very stylish bag.  It was black, not the red that I was hoping for this time, but it was very nice.  It also cost somewhat more than what I had intended on spending.   But it was ‘perfect’ and i had to have it.  And the kids were getting grumpy and my husband was starting to get that ‘just make a decision’ look in his eyes.   It was an impulse purchase.
It is still a lovely bag.  It’s just too big for me.   I might try selling it and getting something smaller and a little more wieldy.  But first I need to get all the unnecessary junk out of it!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

I Love Shoes

When I was 19 I had a pair of leather sandals (much like the ones in the picture) and a pair of dark green Doc Martens, and rarely wore my other shoes: a pair of imitation reef sandals, a pair of slippers, and a some old black army boots that I wore to work (I was working in a cleaning job.)  That was all I needed.
Then the sandals wore out. And I bought a pair of joggers so I could walk to work from where I was housesitting.  Then I started my teaching prac and needed appropriate shoes.  Then I was bridesmaid at a friend’s wedding.  Then I needed shoes to go with a dress to wear to the races on Melbourne Cup Day.  Then I had a job where I was on my feet all day and needed a good comfortable pair of shoes. And then and then and then. 
Ten years later and I have four pairs of high heels, one low heel, two sandals, a pair of joggers, black patent knee high boots, black leather mary jane style shoes, a pair of loafers, thongs (flip-flops?), sandshoes, another cute little pair of mary janes with butterflies on them that I love but they hurt my feet (I bought them on Ebay and think I’ll sell them again), a pair of slippers (possibly the same pair I had ten years ago), and my green Docs (yes, I still have them). And last week I threw out two pairs of shoes that had fallen apart.  A couple of months ago another pair of shoes fell apart and I threw them out, I sold my seldom worn Chuck Taylors on Ebay, and I have another pair of shoes sitting in my pile of things to sell.  
I love going into shoe shops and looking at the cute shoes and the funky shoes.  The problem is, the shoes I really like cost a lot of money.  And my foot is a little wider than average, and not all shoe brands make half sizes, and even then some don’t fit.  And I don’t have places to keep nor occasion to wear most of the shoes that I see and like.  And remember those days when I just had two pairs of shoes I wore everywhere... I loved that.  And when I think about it, it’s actually not that broad a range of shoes that I actually like.  I (mentally) screwed up my nose at shoes that my sister had bought recently, and I do that with a lot of shoes in the fancy shoe shops. It’s just that the shoes I love seem to outshine all the ones that I’d never dream of wearing.  
My ideal minimal shoe wardrobe contains high heels, low heels, a comfy-wear-anywhere slip-on shoe, a comfy flat sandal, a pair of shoes I can go walking in, closed in shoes for the cooler months, and a pair of thongs.   Bonus luxuries would include my knee high boots, which I only wear a handful of times a year because it is rarely cold enough (I bought mine for 99c on Ebay because I couldn’t justify the expense of a new pair), and another pair of coloured shoes - high or low heels, sandals, mary janes, doesn’t matter - because that would add a little more variety and help keep my clothes to a minimum. 
If I could only have two pairs of shoes? Black leather mary-janes and a comfy brown slip-on thong-style shoe.
I don’t really need all the shoes I have, I just thought that I because I love shoes, and collection of gorgeous shoes would be a good thing to have.  The truth is, I love having a small range of comfortable shoes.   And it isn’t shoes that I love, it is a particular style, into which shoes often fall.