Monday, November 11, 2013

Simple and Tidy

What I’m enjoying doing most right now is 'curating' my simple and tidy life. I have been spending five minutes here and five minutes there organizing a corner, decluttering magazines I have read and passing them on to someone else, using things up and appreciating all that I have.

I feel so grateful that I am now a homeowner, literally every day I feel that. On a stormy night when I can hear the rain on the roof, I say thank you for our house. When I walk in the door after work, I say thank you for our house. In New Zealand at least anyway, I know that so many are not able to purchase a home, pay it off and make it their own, so I know how truly lucky I am.

Yes, I work hard and try to spend my money wisely, but I also had a good start with loving parents, a stable home life and a wonderful childhood. Other people haven’t been so lucky.

Part of having gratitude for where I live and what surrounds me is to have airy, open rooms with just the right amount of stuff in them. I know straight away the areas that I don’t like, even when I am out of the house. It’s amazing how much power clutter has on you, when something can actually bother you even though you cannot see it or are not even physically near it.

Each night this week, I have been gathering bits and pieces I want to donate, and putting them on the guest bed (lucky it’s Queen-size). Once or twice a month I do a drop-off to a local charity shop.

I have also been using things up, such as body products and cosmetics. Little amounts left of body lotions I have mixed up into one pump container and now use this every day. I bore of scents quickly so it’s nice to have a ‘new’ one.

I also gathered up three favourite lipsticks that are now worn down flat and scraped them into a cleaned out Bobbi Brown sample pot (5ml or 7ml size, something like that). I then mixed in a liberal amount of Burts Bees lip balm (minty!) and stirred it all together in the pot with a clean skinny wooden stick (the type you get in manicure sets).

I now have a new sheer lipstick which I put on with a lip brush each morning, plus I got to throw out three lipstick tubes without feeling like I wasted anything.

Inspired by Patricia Volk’s description of her mother Audrey in the memoir ‘Shocked’, I pick up tiny bits off the carpet, rather than leave them there to bother me until I vacuum. Audrey would apparently ‘march a sesame seed off the floor to the rubbish bin’ and say to her daughter ‘it’s good exercise, bend from the waist’. I think of that now when I see a piece of cat fluff or a black speck or a tiny leaf. Plus, the carpet looks nicer between vacuum cleanings.

My sister is decluttering and organizing for a cleaned out, satisfying and serene life too. We have both been reading minimalist websites to fuel the desire to live with just enough. It’s an ongoing ‘first world problem’ (even though I can’t stand that saying!) that we have to be on constant vigilance against the ever-present clutter building up. And I’m not even a big shopper.

I know my message is a bit jumbled in this post – part gratefulness, part decluttering, but really when I think about it, the two go hand in hand. It is those that respect their possessions (and therefore are grateful for them) that move along items they are not using so that others may gain benefit from them.


  1. Fiona, you are always so motivating to me on this subject. I admire your focus and gratitude.

  2. I am grateful to hear your "voice"...
    your posts resonate with me and have always been a highlight to my day.

  3. Hi Fiona,

    I enjoyed your post as usually:). Your posts always resonate so well with my thoughts and desires, like echoing my own thoughts. It is so nice to have someone so like minded, even though it's half a globe away :)

    Have a nice day,


  4. Hi Fiona
    Introducing myself from South Africa, and wanting to thank you for your blog. Your posts are inspiring and motivating, I've read every one, and eagerly look forward to each new posting, always of value to me. I appreciate you. Thank you!

  5. I've been on a mission to simplify my life as much as possible and declutter our home. Nice to know I'm not the only one. :)

  6. It's a truth I often forget, Fiona: one can actually bend over and pick up cat fluff off the floor rather than vacuum it! With four Maine Coon cats, you'd think I'd remember that and not be so stubborn.


  7. I really like how you used the word 'curating' your simple and tidy life--now you really have me inspired!
    I will be ruthless with letting go of more magazines this week. For some reason it is difficult for me to let them go more than anything else.
    ~~ MJ ~~

  8. Dear Fiona, I understand what you mean. I seem to declutter on a regular basis, yet where does it all come from? I make a conscious effort to not keep buying things but it must be coming from somewhere! I think our home is fairly clear of clutter though because I've had guests comment on how "zen" our house feels. From your pictures it seems your home has the same clarity. Thank you for another great post, you always have insightful topics.

  9. Hello, lovely post. I am a regular declutterer too. Last January I followed the January house declutter challenge on the Apartment Therapy blog. This Jan I intend to repeat the challenge, it's an ongoing thing, My excess 'clutter' raised £200 for a local charity shop with my donations. Win win.

  10. Thank you for this post. I also love a serene and decluttered home. :)

    Would you kindly mind sharing some of the minimalist blogs that you have been enjoying?

  11. This post sent me on a 2-day hunt for this quote:

    "What you remove adds value to what's left."
    Jacqueline and David

    I don't remember who J & D are, but love what they said, and I loved your post.

  12. Bonjour like-minded declutterers! Thank you for your comments.

    There are many websites and blogs that have helped me. Often I Google 'decluttering inspiration' or something similar to find a new one. was helpful, as was There are also loads of blogs such as Janet at The Gardeners Cottage and Brin at My Messy, Thrilling Life that inspire me to live simply and well.

    Susan, thank you for your lovely words, and Yogateacher, I love that quote. MJ, I've gotten better about magazines lately. I read them, take out the odd page here and there (making sure I REALLY think about if I'll ever read that page again) and donate them. Sometimes I write down a quote in my notebook and that is enough, if it's an inspiring article rather than a good picture.

  13. Thank you Fiona for another wonderful topic! I have been on a decluttering mission for a number of months now. It has been a shift for me from 'spending time organizing stuff' to actually being ruthless and getting rid of it. It is so freeing and liberating!
    As my husband was lugging out the most recent haul he said..."Are you buying stuff to give away?!" . Anyway,it is really amazing how it has impacted my life in so many ways including more energy and optimism. Thanks again for the inspiration:)

    Rita from Victoria, Canada

  14. dear fiona,

    i did not know you had returned to blogging. I'm so happy! I just caught up on our posts and I loved them all. I will add you back to my blogroll!


  15. Hi Fiona

    I read some of your earlier posts about Victoria magazine, which I fell in love with at first sight. I thought you might be interested to know that Victoria have just released a DVD-ROM of all their issues from the very first one to the end of 2012. If you're interested the link is


  16. Helen, thank you for letting me know about the Victoria DVD. What a great idea!

  17. Your comments about the magazines were really funny as I came to the same conclusion not long ago (after shifting for the 3rd time in as many years and dragging around a huge box of years old Fashion Quarterlies and Simply You's!). Why am I paying to be advertised to for things I can't afford modeled on bodies I will never have? It all snapped into place when I saw a magazine cover that looked almost identical to one I had bought in my early 20s (42 now). Fashion has recycled and now so must the magazines. Enjoying your blog - Sue
    PS. Don't drop off your stuff to the Sallies etc after hours as apparently people come in the early hours of the morning to nick it!

  18. Susan, Thank you, and great tip about not leaving your donations outside after hours, lucky I am too much of a nervous terrier to do that anyway!


Merci for your comment. Wishing you a chic day!

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