A rookie mistake.

BP and I made a rookie mistake last week. I call this a rookie mistake because it’s the kind of decision we would have made thoughtlessly in our pre-BNN life. And here we are, 19 months later, making the same sorts of mistakes. Unlearning life-long habits is hard.

My laptop isn’t functioning all that well and really needs to be kept in one steady place. In addition to this my back doesn’t thank me for using my laptop as it’s intended (on my lap). We decided to get a small desk for our living area so that I could remain a part of the gang while using my computer.

BP recalled, with sentimentality, how much he’d loved his childhood desk The Fearse Family: A Rookie Mistake– an 80s style map top desk (chunky and brown). He asked around and found that it was located at his sister’s house. She kindly offered to have it fixed and delivered it herself.

We have had it less than a week and it has served its function as a table for my laptop quite well, but it has also quickly become a new surface to add clutter to. We knew this was going to happen. Everything we have learned about removing clutter from our home tells us that we need less surfaces and less storage, not more. Everyone who has lived in a house knows that it is going to take less than a month for those drawers to be loaded up with stuff.

Although we had already discussed the need for a dining table in the front room, sentimentality clouded our vision and we brought in this desk that is all wrong. During the winter months we only heat the front half of our house. The back half has few blinds and curtains and most of the heat would be lost. The only time we use that end of the house is for eating dinner. We could easily have solved this issue and the desk issue with a small, compact dining table in place of the big, chunky desk.  If we had a dining table here it would still be a surface, but at least it would be one that we had to clear every night to eat.

I’m disappointed in our thought processes which basically showed no growth from our impulsive decision making prior to our first buy nothing year.

Of course now we have a fierce Fearsian stand-off. BP is sentimental and wants to hold on to the desk and I am a cold-hearted clutter clearer and want to move it on (or at least out of the house) to make room for something more practical to our purposes.

When you make significant changes to the way you lead your life, you owe it to yourself not to relax on those ideals. We have worked too hard to claw our way forward to now allow ourselves to slip backwards into old habits that don’t suit our purposes.

This week, to help us remember how far we have come, BP and I used ingenuity to repair a squashed, shattered and near destroyed washing basket. When I bought this basket, several years ago, I bought the cheapest one I could find. Everything about it was nasty. It didn’t take long for it to start deteriorating. Recently someone sat on it, or stepped on it, or was pushing someone else around in it as though it was a car and it collapsed into itself. Since we’re working on reducing our waste, and there was no way this was recyclable plastic, we knew that we had no choice but to find a way to repair it, or reuse it. I made the decision to buy the shittiest, cheapest basket I could find and I’m now responsibleWashing basket
for where that ends up. So, how do you repair a shattered plastic washing basket? Start by connecting all the broken bits back together with a few handy pipe cleaners, then insert a hardy backdrop (in this case some cardboard that came as the packaging for one of Little Fearse’s birthday gifts) and go to town with gaffa tape. Ta da! I reckon it will last us another decade, don’t you?

The daily decisions we make about our consumption and about the things we bring into our home need constant examination. This way of life is not yet ingrained in us, which is not helped by the fact that it is far from the norm in society. I see that there is a shift and change happening around us and I hope that things will change in this lifetime. All I can control are the choices that I make and hope that I can mostly make good ones.

Mama xo

As June 30th approaches (goal update)

The deadline for one of my January goals is fast approaching, so I felt it was a good time to update you and, in turn, keep myself on track.

1. I would like to reduce the stuff in our house by 1000 more items by Jan 1st 2015.

  • By our last update I had removed 191 items and added 55. We’re faring a lot better now, but I have been a bit slack in keeping track. Let’s call these numbers approximate.
  • Our outgoing stuff, helped along by the Minimalist Game, is at 635 items. I still have a lot of items in the out-going pile that just haven’t been moved on yet. I hope to focus on that a little these school holidays.
  • Our incoming stuff is at 101 items. This has been added to a lot due to Little Fearse’s birthday and, also, me losing focus a little. I’m getting less good at saying ‘no thanks’. I need to continually remind myself that we don’t need stuff. 
  • So, really, this brings our total for removed items (if I’m going to be strict) back to 534 items.
  • A little over half way at a little under the half way point. Not bad! Of course getting rid of 500 more items is going to be more challenging given the depths we have already gone to in our decluttering. I’ll let you know how I go.

2. I would like to further reduce the number of tubs in the storeroom by at least one 60 litre tub by Jan 1st 2015.

  • I have reduced the stuff in these tubs by half a tub. So, I guess, that puts me at the half way point, too.

3. I would like to maintain a clear dining room surface, permanently. (With the exception of times of high volumes of at home work, such as report writing time, when it doubles as my desk and some clutter is necessary.)

  • Here, you be the judge. Not toooooo bad.Image

4. I would like to sell (or, failing that, donate) all of the items that I currently have set aside for eBay by June 30th this year.

  • I have stopped selling things in eBay due to ludicrous fees and postage costs. I’m thinking about opening an Etsy store for my vintage dresses and BP’s vintage cup cake stands, but this is something I need to investigate further these holidays. I won’t be meeting this goal by June 30th, but will probably reassess and set a new goal once I know what I’m doing.

5. I would like to read 5 books on my to-read shelves by 1st Jan 2015.

  • This is the goal I am doing the best with. I have really prioritised reading lately, especially since BP’s new job means less reading time in the mornings. I use every free opportunity, including getting to school a little earlier to read in the car, reading in the bath, reading instead of watching movies or TV shows, going to bed earlier to read…reading, reading, reading.
  • I have read, since the last update, two more books from the shelves Last Words by George Carlin and Lives of Girls and Women by Alice Munro. This brings my total to four already!
  • My to-read shelves are now down to 99 books! I can’t remember the last time I had less than 100 books on this shelf. BP asked if I wanted some books for my birthday and it was so hard saying no, but I really want to get down to a less overwhelming number of unread books.
  • I have been borrowing a lot of books from friends and the library, and have been gifted some recent blockbusters which I raced through and passed on. None of these made it onto my to-read shelves, so I need to, perhaps, focus a little more on reading from the shelves and less on borrowing yet more books!
  • With my recent focus on reading perhaps I can set a goal within a goal and see if I can double it – 10 books by January 1st? You’re on!

Mama xo

Little Fearse turns 2! (The dolls’ house renovation edition)

The Fearse Family: Dolls' house make over

Over the past month Big Poppa and I have delighted in this dolls’ house renovation project. It was an adventure very close to my heart. My grandfather build this simple house for my mother in the cramped little shed at the end of his garden in the 1950s. My Mum played with it as a child and then it was passed on to me in my childhood in the ’80s. Now in the twenty-tens (discussion has ensued regarding what we call this era, Little Fearse rejected the “teenies”, so 2010s is the best I’ve got) my daughter has been gifted this gorgeous house made by her great grandfather. It’s the kind of continuity that really delights me, being a sentimental kind of lass. My grandfather, who I called Papa, was a gentle, industrious and humorous man who I adored and admired as a child. It gives me such a thrill to see my daughter, who never knew him, playing with the house he designed and built with his own hands. Now Big Poppa and I have had the opportunity to make our mark on the house, giving it extra sentimental credit if it ever gets handed on to future Fearse generations. Or, you know, Little Fearse may have been taught the skill of decluttering so well that she turfs it first opportunity she gets.

The original dolls’ house had a frontage the slid along the runner at the front. This was present in my childhood but has since disappeared. We may make another one day, or maybe unearth the original one in my parents’ shed, but for now we’re not worried – it’s just for appearance anyway, and would hamper play. The lid of the house comes off. As Little Fearse grows she will be able to play through the roof space as well as the front.

The dolls’ house is filled with items sourced from here and there and everywhere. You may recognise the family living there. The old school Simpsons family have been gathered by Big Poppa since childhood. They are the perfect size for the house and since he doesn’t want to part with them, we thought we might as well give them a purpose and a home. Each room in the house holds its secrets, which we will reveal in a room-by-room series.

Our dolls’ house isn’t finished – we have lots of plans for additions and improvements (including doing up the roof, which wasn’t done in time). We’ll keep you updated as we make changes.

Part 1: The Kitchen

Part 2: The Living Room

Part 3: The Bathroom

Part 4: The Bedroom

Part 5: The Library

Mama xo


There are a number of resources we’ve used throughout the project. Most of these are web based, but we have also learned a lot from a number of books we borrowed from the local library. These were:

Making period dolls’ house accessories. Andrea Barham.

Dolls’ house furniture : easy to make projects in 1/12 scale / Freida Gray.

Finishing touches / Jane Harrop.

Creating dolls’ house period style / Lionel & Ann Barnard.

If you are setting out on your own dolls’ house renovation here are a few of our favourite websites we turned to for inspiration:

Modern DIY dollhouse with wooden furniture – this was my absolute favourite and most inspirational tutorial. I just love how Erin used only things around the house. Our own stove is inspired by Erin’s.

Seven Thirty Three – an adorable dolls house renovation tutorial.

How to: Make a modern doll house – this is a great little house. I’m actually quite envious of the kitchen and the window planters!

My froggy stuff – tutorials for everything dolls house related! Great pics and printables, too.

Creatively content – DIY from building the house to decorating and creating furniture.

Dollshouse decorating – I found this page a little confusing to navigate, but the ideas are endless and usually quite simple.

Kathy’s Miniatures – this gorgeous Irish cottage is themed down to the bathroom towels. Lots of adorable ideas. I particularly liked the little knitted blankets and plan to add some of these to Little Fearse’s house one day.


Sentimental paper gifts: DIY Memorabilia Mini book

Minibooks edit

For Big Poppa’s 30th birthday this week I wanted to make him something special, which also reflected his new status as an “old man”. BP is affectionately thought of by many who know him as a grumpy old man. At the age of 24 he did start saying things like “I don’t understand young people any more”. Now that he’s officially tipped over into his 30s we have joked that he can now really start his decent into grumpy old man territory.

This project included finding a use for some of the paper memorabilia I’ve saved from our honeymoon in New York, as well as creating a mini book explaining the dice game Farkle. I found a gorgeous set of dice at the market in a little leather case. I couldn’t resist buying them for my-young-old man, but we’ve never played dice games, so I thought I’d better find a game we could enjoy. Farkle seems to be a popular and fun game we can play with just the two of us.

[I have also made a mini book comic about how we met for BP for our first wedding anniversary (paper) and last year I made a friend a mini book from a gorgeous old raggedy 70s picture book that was falling apart. The possibilities are endless really.]

Step 1 Minibook edit

1. You can use any paper of any size to make these books. If you want to use some paper from a special holiday or event, you can choose bits and pieces, like I did, and glue them on to a larger piece of paper. I glued these papers onto an A4 page. As well as the paper you will need scissors.
2. So here is my paper to start with (each side is different).


3. Fold the page in half.

4. Fold the page in half again.

5. Fold the page in half a third time. By this stage you will need to apply quite a bit of pressure to get a good crease.


6. Unfold your page to step 4.

7. With the fold towards you, cut up the middle crease to the centre of the page.

8. When you unfold your page it should look like this, with a slit up the centre of the middle four rectangles.


9. Fold the page in half lengthways and open the slit out like a diamond.

10. Push the top and bottom points of the diamond together and press the pages into a booklet. This is where you might have to readjust your creases to ensure the pages are even.

11. Voila! Mini book.

I used the pages from a tiny note pad inside my booklet and hand wrote the information. You can do whatever you like inside yours – use photos, stickers, lined pages, sketch paper…be creative!

If you do make a mini book using these instructions I’d love to see it! Please leave a link in comments or pop a photo up on our Facebook page.

Happy birthday to my beautiful beardy man. xo

Mama xo

Old goals, new goals (same goals?)

Thanks to the Thrifty Pops for reminding me of my decluttering goals from April. Honestly? Although I had those types of ideas in mind all throughout the year, I had completely forgotten I’d made those particular goals with that particular time frame.

Looking back, they’re not the best or most measurable goals. I spent many years teaching students how to create SMART goals. Obviously none of it rubbed off on me.

Have I been able to achieve any of those goals? Well, we had our Buy Nothing New End of Year (one) celebration BBQ on the weekend. It took us two days to clean the house. I was pretty thorough about putting things away rather than just hiding big piles of mess. Since report writing time in December, followed by a frenzy of book making for Little Fearse’s Christmas present and glass magnet making for friends and family the dining room table has been buried under an ever increasing pile of stuff. That was the most difficult area to clean and I swear I don’t want it to ever get like that again. So, no, by January 1st the house was not tidier or easier to clean.

Generally speaking I think it is easier to find things when we want them. I have systems of organisation for things like bills and paper work and places where other things go. We don’t spend a lot of time hunting for things, other than my keys which Little Fearse likes to hide. I think I’d call this goal successfully achieved.

Right now, right after the big clean up the house feels calm and restful. Even BP said that coming into the “dining” room after I cleaned it made him feel instantly at peace. The biggest achievements I have managed in this area is putting away my clothes after taking them off every single day. This is something I have been trying to achieve since childhood. I always started off well, but would end up lazily throwing them in a heap after about a week. Since my clothes stock take in May I have done this every day. It takes so little time and makes my life so much easier. I know where all my clothes are, I know what needs washing and what doesn’t, my clothes are less wrinkly and dusty, but most of all, the bedroom is much more restful. I wake up each morning not to a pile of clothes (at least not on my side of the bed), but to a calm and clutter free bedroom floor. So, if I had made this goal a little narrower and more manageable, such as having a calmer bedroom then I might have had a better chance of achieving that, too.

In terms of parting with sentimental stuff, I wish I’d been clearer at the time about what I meant. I have recently recycled ALL of my old school assignments and work. In addition I have finally been able to part with all of my university assignments (which almost without fail had very average to crappy marks, were submitted late and “showed promise” but failed to deliver…not great for my self esteem to read back over). This paper work filled one and a half 60 litre tubs, so that’s a real achievement. I have also been able to part with some more letters from old penpals etc and have even done a realistic cull of old photographs of friends or boyfriends past. None of these were particularly painful. The biggest hurdles are my old diaries which are painfully embarrassing to read and would be best off destroyed – but, you know, something stops me. I’d say I’ve made some headway with this goal.

I think it’s timely for me to create some new goals, this time, much SMARTer ones.

1. I would like to reduce the stuff in our house by 1000 more items by Jan 1st 2015.

2. I would like to further reduce the number of tubs in the storeroom by at least one 60 litre tub by Jan 1st 2015.

3. I would like to maintain a clear dining room surface, permanently. (With the exception of times of high volumes of at home work, such as report writing time, when it doubles as my desk and some clutter is necessary.)

4. I would like to sell (or, failing that, donate) all of the items that I currently have set aside for eBay by June 30th this year.

5. I would like to read 5 books on my to-read shelves by 1st Jan 2015.

Let’s see how I go…

Mama xo


I saw a photo this morning of a friend of mine face down on the carpet of his living room, passed out after a long night of drinking. I’m pretty sure he doesn’t know that photo has been posted yet and I positive he would never in a million years think that the very same photo would of sparked the idea for this blog entry.

The carpet was stained. the couch was the kind with an awful floral pattern that can only be obtained from hard rubbish collection. The coffee table was littered with half empty drinks, ash and other various paraphernalia of “a good time”.  I immediately thought to myself, “I’m glad we don’t live like that anymore” and then “ We….Used….To…..Live…Like…That….Ugh!”.

Mama Fearse and I used to live in a basically condemned house that was nestled in an affluent inner suburb of Melbourne. Our neighbours hated us and I often gave them plenty of reason to. Chain smoking on the front porch in my bathrobe, Wu-Tang blaring out the lounge room window while surveying our ever expanding lawn jungle. As the house was intended to be demolished and rebuilt at some stage, we took selective care of the place, especially the main living area.

Whilst we lived in the falling down house, we were robbed. When the police came to get a statement from us and inspect the crime scene, they commented, “Gee they really turned this place upside down.” We didn’t have the heart to tell them that the house always looked like that, Mama Fearse actually didn’t even realise we had been robbed for 4 hours, until I came home from work and went to turn on the missing Playstation.

After seeing the aforementioned photo this morning, Mama Fearse and I looked at some old photos from that time period and both agreed we were glad we didn’t live like that anymore. We don’t drink heavily or smoke anymore, we replaced the filthy ashy coffee table in our lives with the clutter that Mama is furiously reducing. While I may sometimes miss the lack of responsibility and general financial freedom, I’ll take the mortgage, the kid and the clutter all day everyday over the “good time.”

Guess this is growing up huh?

Old Man Fearse

My Great Great Grandfather had a monkey, which makes it really hard for me to get rid of my stuff.

As you know we are in full decluttering mode in the Fearse cave. So far this has been mainly driven by the 2-4-1 challenge and a desire to keep ahead of ourselves just in case. I think it is now time to add a bit of focus, as we’ve got rid of a lot of the surface clutter and are digging much deeper now. We all know what lies in those lower levels of junk…the dreaded sentimental junk. Big Poppa has already spoken about his findings in his man cave. In some ways it is worse for him as many of the sentimental papers from his childhood have been laminated. Mine have simply deteriorated over the years until each fold is torn and the print has faded. This makes it easier.

In our storeroom I have a large moving box full of letters and diaries. I actually made a little headway with this recently by throwing away large piles of letters from old friends that didn’t mean much anymore. While reading letters from another old friend I realised that these were more records of her life than things of value to me, so I got back in contact and asked if she would be receptive to me returning them. She was and I did, but I haven’t heard from her since.  I sometimes wonder if they were a bit much for her, as she wasn’t always at her happiest when she was writing those letters to me.

As a child I was as voracious a letter writer as I was (and still am) a reader. I had many penpals over the years from other parts of Australia, all across the USA and even from India. I still have the majority of those letters, and of course I haven’t read them for years. I have more than a sentimental attachment to letters and diaries. When writing them I secretly thought maybe one day I’d be famous and they’d be important. As I grow older and this looks a little less likely I’m wondering if maybe I could manage to part with just some of these things.

Then again…recently my Mum discovered the letters of her Great Grandfather in the Tasmanian historical archives. It turns out that he was close friends with one of the fathers of Australian Federation and although her Great Grandfather wasn’t a particularly important man his friend was well known enough to justify keeping all his correspondence. It was fascinating to read about this man who we would otherwise know nothing. We have photos and we have facts, but how often do you get to learn of the intricacies of your ancestors personalities without a whole lot of guesswork? It turns out he had a great sense of humour, a little distain for his younger brother who was a bit useless and he had a pet monkey.

An excerpt from the letters of my Great Great Grandfather.

An excerpt from one of the letters of my Great Great Grandfather.

Maybe someone I’ve written to will be well-known enough one day to justify having their documents maintained in acid free, light free archival solitude. Honestly, I’d be quite horrified if it were the case. I would hate for my private writing, meant for an audience of one, to become public. There’s no control over that. To save someone else in the far, far future from having to make decisions about what paper work of mine matters and what doesn’t (it all doesn’t) I have to make headway with this junk.

I’ve been doing more reading and this entry has inspired us to set out some goals. This is what we hope to achieve with our decluttering:


  1. Want to be able to find things when we are looking for them. Everything has a home.
  2. Want the house to be tidier and easier to clean.
  3. Want the house to feel calm instead of chaotic.
  4. Want to be able to part with some of the sentimental stuff that has no real purpose.
  5. Want to achieve these things by January 1st 2014.

I hope you’ll help keep us on track,

Mama xox

The trials and tribulations of a descendent.

My parents have recently bought a new home and plan to move on from our family home of 30+ years within the next 12 months. I’m trying very hard not to think about what this means to me emotionally, which may or may not be a good strategy. What it does mean in the immediate future is a lot of tough decision making about what they take with them to their new home and what they don’t.

My Mum was the sole descendant from her father’s side of the family. This means that the belongings of not only her father and grandfather, but also uncles and so on was all passed on to her. Many of these things include large furniture items, but trickle down to boxes of photos that belonged to her uncle’s second wife, someone she never knew.

BP and I have spoken of sentimentality before, but this takes it to a new level. These belongings represent a whole family line, the weighty responsibility of which lies on my Mum’s shoulders. The further truth of this doesn’t escape me, either. Eventually, a long, long time into the future, the responsibility for these things will be passed on to myself or my brothers and at some stage someone has to make a decision. I’d rather Mum and I do that together.

It is of some value that this situation has arisen this year when my own mind set is changing so dramatically. I have found it much easier to accept that neither my parents or my brothers and I can hold on to this stuff forever.

On Friday Mum and I spent some time deciding which of her antique and sentimental books she should keep, which she should donate and which she should try and sell. Sometimes the decision seemed easy until we realised it was a first edition (perhaps in very bad shape, however) or turned to the first page and found the inscriptions addressed to my Mum

Happy Easter with love from Mummy and Daddy.

We tried to remain focused and managed to clear a good three shelves of books, appropriating them to a variety of piles. Of course, there was a Mama Fearse pile. All of the vintage Enid Blyton books I read as a child are going no where. I already look forward to the day I can read them to Little Fearse. Mum has kindly offered to look after them until I find a solution to the 11 month old book destroying whirlwind issue in our house. It also lets me side step the book embargo quite neatly…oops?

Yesterday we listed a large selection of the books on Ebay, a task that took a ridiculous amount of time and may yield little to no results. I think we’ve decided that we need to find a better way to get rid of books that we see as having some value – either we donate them and let the charities perhaps find a buck for them, or we find a book seller willing to take a look. I think the value we see in them is very different from their monetary value. It is a desire to see them enjoyed and cared for by someone who loves books as much as we do. Perhaps ridiculous, but that’s us.

Have you had success “getting rid” of family heirlooms? How did you come to terms with it emotionally? I’d love to hear your stores, I think they’d really help. I know many people who have had to clear whole homes and must have dealt with this issue in a variety of ways.

With a sentimental sigh,

Mama xox

PS I love this article on the topic.

Separation and Sentimentality

As I had previously promised here I was going to upload a video of me reorganising and de cluttering my home office/studio. I went in yesterday and set up the camera and then I stood still for an hour.

As I rummaged through my shelves and pursued my desk, I realised that a lot of what inhabits my studio is tied up in sentimentality in one way or another. Knick Nacks and Doo Dads that to the naked eye may appear to be useless or even rubbish but in one way or another hold some form of significance.

As a child I moved house 10+ times and with each successive move I learnt to pare down my belongings and often leave behind things that I had cherished. However as I got older and moved out of the parental household, I became more and more sentimental about “stuff” and have spent the better part of 10 years lugging it between apartments, share houses and now it’s final destination “The Fearse Cave”

The mountains of media really form the majority of the clutter in the office. The vinyl and cassette collection is off limits, I have spent most of my life cultivating it and cannot bring myself to part with it. What about the CD’s though, although I hate to admit it, the humble CD is basically a dead format, I can’t remember the last time that I popped a disc into any form of player and gave one a spin. I don’t even have a cd player in my car or a cd drive in my laptop. I could back them all up and donate them to the Op Shop but I’m really not sure how keen they’d be to receive a couple of hundred Hip Hop and Metal discs, even the humble Op Shop is limited in space. I’m at a loss as what to do with these, if anyone has any suggestions, I’m all ears.

Eagerly awaiting your ideas/responses

Big Poppa Fearse