Friday, October 4, 2019

The End of Year Project

Over the past couple of months my family and I have made what feels like a super human effort to tidy up my dad’s property for sale.  He was an engineer who hand-crafted his own motorcycles to race (right down to the engine), built two beautiful cottages on his land and therefore had a large shed(s) full of… a lot of useful stuff if you do those kinds of things.

It’s been a process of finding the people who want the types of machines my dad had, and just working out where stuff needs to go in general.  None of us can abide waste and we wanted to see that items would be used for their purpose rather than just binned.  It all took massive amounts of time and a lot of physical labour.  And then there is the mental toll sometimes when you remember why you’re doing all this.  Someone is not there anymore.

However… next Friday the new owners take over and we are 99% complete in our clear-out.  Yesterday and the day before involved one of the last tasks on our list: getting the scrap metal guy to come around.  My dad had almost 8 tonnes of steel on his property.  Yes!  FYI, you don’t get much for scrap metal but at least it’s gone from the paddock and will no doubt live another life being useful to someone else.

After next Friday I will get my life back and *only* have paperwork, banking and tax things (thankfully with the help of dad’s accountant) to take care of, and that should be wrapped up within the next six months too.

I am so grateful to my dad for being the amazing guy he was, and I am excited to be moving on to the next non-executor stage of my life.  I have big plans!  At any time I am a huge fan of tidying, organizing and decluttering, but especially so now.  Part of it is the momentum I got from helping sort dad’s stuff, but another huge part is that my own place feels messy now.  Not messy-messy, but there are lots of things that got put aside so I could focus on my estate executor task.

My exciting plan is to dive in and have a fun three month project where I tidy, sort, organize, get up-to-date with, streamline, simplify, declutter, refine, curate and get my home, office, wardrobe, financial paperwork and my head in tip-top shape.  Everything.  It’s always been my dream to live a show-home life – one where anyone could open any cupboard at any time and it look beautiful inside.  One where my receipts are reconciled and filed. (I used to do that near-daily but it’s one of the things I stopped doing and now I have a basket full of receipts…)

My mum has a neighbour who is one of my organizing chic mentors.  Just being in her home makes you feel good because it’s stylish and welcoming at the same time as being so organized and decluttered.  She told me last week that she even has a completely empty wardrobe because she finds things she wants to declutter all the time.  An empty wardrobe!  How awesome would that feel?

So, I hope you’ll join me for The End of Year Project.  Will you do the same?  Or perhaps focus on one aspect only?  Please share and we can do great things together.  See you soon :)

xx Fiona


PS. We are in the spring season here in New Zealand (isn't my dad's place gorgeous in the image at the top of this post?), but you lucky people in the northern hemisphere are experiencing autumn.  Yes, I love spring and the warmer summer months, but autumn will always be my first true love.

If you haven’t read How to be Chic in the Winter yet, why not check out a sample from Amazon?  In this book I share all my ideas on how to enjoy the winter season instead of just enduring it – even if you are a summer person!

I wrote this book for myself initially, because I found I kept doing the same unhelpful things over and over each year to cope with months of the cold weather - eating sweet and stodgy fattening foods, feeling lazy and unmotivated, being grumpy and a generally unfun person.  I started gathering all my thoughts on living an ideal chic winter and this book is a result of that.

Included are my favourite winter recipes because that was my biggest hurdle - coming up with meals that felt comforting and hearty, but which were also healthy.  They are all very simple to make, but also very importantly they don't take too long to put together.  I like to keep prep time to a minimum because I would rather go for a walk or read a book than spend too long fussing around in the kitchen.

I’m sure you will find ideas to transform the way you think about winter, and it all came from my own desire to ‘live slim, happy and stylish during the cold season.’  You can find it on Amazon Kindle here and in paperback too.



  1. Dear Fiona,
    Congratulations on getting this task completed. I can truly identify as my mother is now in an assisted living facility and we have just cleaned out her house and closed on the sale a week ago. It’s such a huge job. It makes me feel that I should pare down and declutter my own house again. As I get older, I’m more aware of how much stuff I still have and how I don’t want my children to have too much to deal with some day. I think it’s an ongoing process to keep things at a manageable level. I have to remind myself to be very particular about what I allow into the house. So glad you’ve finished and can get back to your own interests!

  2. Charlene's post is exactly what I would have written except my mum passed away last year. In the last 10 years of her life she moved four times from her own home to nursing home. Each time we seemed to have mountains of stuff to dispose of and it was with much heartache.
    My husband and I need to downsize soon and I am dreading it so any help would be gratefully received.

  3. First, it sounds as though you and your Dad had a lovely relationship, which is just wonderful. Secondly, you are obviously a wonderful daughter and have done such a great job with his estate. Thirdly, I love your Winter chic book (of course!). Last but not least, yes, I shall join you too. In The Great Declutter and Reorganise.

  4. I need to do this!! I will make it my 3 month plan and pray it doesn't take me longer (entirely possible).

  5. Oh God Fiona!!!! I went through the same as Executor of my Dad's estate a few years ago. Despite having a sibling, it was my Husband and I left to do everything. But it was also my childhood home. So really painful. I kept SO much of my Dads/my home that only now (4 years later) I feel strong enough to let go. And BREATHE xx

  6. Such a hard job for you, Fiona, but you must feel a great sense of accomplishment at getting it done! And how wonderful to revisit your dad's store of knowledge, skill, and creativity. That must give you many good memories.

    My house is in a fairly decluttered state at the moment, but I've recently taken on some challenging creative projects, so I may find myself in your situation by year-end...with a bit more clutter and unfinished tasks than I would like. I think you'll enjoy your simplifying odyssey!

  7. It's such a difficult task, Fiona, but it sounds like you've done an excellent job. When my mother died, I took quite some time to clean, clear and sell her home because it just felt so final. I actually caused myself more stress by delaying it (I too was executor). I find myself needing to declutter again as well, so am totally up for The End of Year project. I, too, would love to live a show home life! Quite honestly, interior decorating and styling is just not my forte, much as I would love it to be so any tips will be eagerly devoured! So lovely to be able to sit back on this Sunday afternoon, cup of tea in hand, and read your post! I missed you! Diann

  8. It's very hard when a parent dies and especially if you are the one responsible for clearing the house. When my mother died we contacted local charities that she supported and they were happy to take both clothes and household goods. I kept a few personal mementoes though and of course have wonderful memories. I definitely need to declutter my own house so am keen to join the End of Year project too and look forward to your tips.


Merci for your comment. Wishing you a chic day!

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