Queen of Konmari Challenge Stage 4: Komono (Miscellany)

Right, so sorting through komono, or miscellaneous items, this is the biggest and most time-consuming stage of the Queen of Konmari challenge, because it basically encompasses everything in the house, except for sentimental items.

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Sorting through various categories of komono

I have to say that this stage, although it was challenging, was made MUCH easier because of the moral support I had from the Konmari Facebook group that I formed with my friends (more on this in Five Tips to Getting Started). Additionally, I was gaining momentum after going through the first three stages of the Konmari process, so deciding what was worth keeping was much easier.

Looking back at my contributions to the Facebook group during this part of the process, it’s interesting to see my thought processes as I worked my way through the house!

Thoughts upon clearing the home office and living room –

  • Day 1: Can I win the prize for Most Impressive Media Mountain? I have not even included the [CDs] from in the car.
  • Day 2: I just organised the CDs into boxes. Labelled by genre and arranged roughly alphabetically. I used IKEA KASATTE boxes and shoeboxes.
  • Day 4: Yesterday, I picked out a really nice hardcover notebook (that I’d actually already started using for recipes), and copied/pasted recipes in it from other notebooks/loose paper bits. Used washi tape to label the spine. School logo notebooks/jotter books/blank diaries, I kept to use for the kids for their doodling/as scratch paper. New notebooks still in wrapper, kept for later. Blank sketchbooks also kept for kids drawings. Generic notebooks that were given to me free with company logos and slogans or notebooks with designs that I don’t like, I’m going to give away. I have so many half used school logo notebooks, I don’t need these blank books as scratch paper. Also, two small blank ‘acid free’ books are inside my ‘to do’ box. Going to fill them with kids photos and give them to the grandparents/godparents as gifts.
  • Day 5: Hitting a wall. It’s because I haven’t really found a logical place to keep the things I’m going to keep yet because those places are full of junk waiting to be sorted through. I put all my husband’s papers in one big box. But yeah, there are CDs and DVDs waiting his approval before I can get rid of them so my spare room space which I’m using to konmari is getting very crowded. Maybe I’ll pile them in the study this evening, get him to look at them.
  • Day 7: I just realised that craft supplies falls under this category! *crying* I don’t want to look into the craft cupboard! Banning myself from accepting more craft supplies as handmedowns or gifts! Thoughts for ‘extra’ coloured pencils/broken and stubby crayons/markers, crappy pencil sharpeners and colourful but inadequate erasers – separating these into plastic takeaway containers. Going to put them in the box of party supplies to bring out during parties for general entertainment. Check them when gathering up party supplies and bin the rubbish ones.

Thoughts upon clearing the kitchen – 

  • Day 1: Going to start this by giving away unused appliances. Why do I have 20+ wineglasses?! WE DON’T EVEN KNOW HOW TO DRINK WINE IN THIS HOUSE because we are such plebs. Going to give away wineglasses and just keep the ones we were given as wedding gifts for whenever we feel fancy. Also, I found my glass jug so I’m happy now. I’m going to get it out so we can use it when guests come over.
  • Day 2: Feeling very tempted to go back and do kids clothes instead of dealing with the tupperware cupboard. Definitely questioning my life choices right now. For some reason I have seen fit to collect rectangular takeaway lids but not the actual containers.
    I am trying to find space to put all the stuff that goes on the countertop. I think I can put the bottles of oil and seasoning into ikea bins and put them in a low cupboard. I think. The problem I’m having is finding a good space to put my cookbooks.
    Decided to put cookbooks in the space next to the oven. Tried to free cycle/donate the random bento boxes and takeaway containers that I amassed, to no avail, going to leave them next to the recycle bin downstairs to see if anyone claims it.
  • Day 3: I’m going to go through the utensils today!!!! I WILL DO THIS!! Why do I have 15 wooden spoons?!
  • Day 4: I think I’m done with this! I did manage to clear the countertops so only my microwave, toaster one and thermomix are out, as well as the soap dispensers. I don’t have many kitchen gadgets or that many utensils so this was not painful for me. I didn’t do the ‘lay everything on the floor ‘ thing for kitchen. I had to just go cupboard by cupboard.
  • Day 5: I just realised that ‘reusable shopping bags’ is under this category. In which case, I am SO not done with this.   Dividing paper and plastic bags up into two categories: 1) Suitable as gift bags 2)Suitable as misc bags.
  • Day 6: Sorted through the reusable bags and coolers – kept my jute bag collection – going to give away all the NTUC ones. Also, sorted through the dishcloths – decided to get rid of the non-pretty ones. Thinking that I may upcycle my muslin cloths into dishcloths. And getting rid of the rice bins since I’ve actually started using old CNY cookie tubs for that.

Thoughts upon clearing the pantry: 

  • Day 1: Threw out expired meds. Threw out the spice rack which I never used and all the expired spices.
  • Day 2: Spent an hour reorganising the pantry. I have more space in there now that I have emptied the two shelves of bags! Realised afterwards that I still actually have another pantry shelf behind the fridge that I have mostly ignored because that is where [the Barn Owl] keeps the Sugar For The Coffee.
  • Day 3: Why do I have an UNOPENED tube of ‘Desitin’ that expired in 2013?! I don’t even use it so I don’t remember buying it. It’s still in it’s sealed box!

Thoughts upon clearing the household supplies:

  • Day 1: After going through all my stuff, I have realised that I have 8 empty spray bottles and 2 empty pump bottles and about 5 half empty bottles of various types of bathroom and all purpose cleaner. Going to hang onto the empty spray bottles for now until I make sure I don’t need them for diluting things. For some reason I thought it was a great idea to stuff things between the pipes under the sink. Bleagh!
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From Top Left: Put up pretty pictures and postcards on the inside of our wardrobe. The media mountain, organised into boxes. Found Great Grandmother’s shoes. The Barn Owl’s full collection of socks.

Thoughts upon clearing the tools:

  • Day 1: Argh I just realised that cables is in this category. OH NO. Avoidance – going to go through [Thumper’s] clothes instead.
  • Day 5: Okay it turns out that it’s pretty easy to throw away cables when they are from old Nokia phones that you don’t even own anymore.
  • Day 20: Once I chucked out the ones that were gross and melty, there weren’t that many left. So I’ve bundled the ones we don’t use daily inside a clear daiso box and added it to the Man Drawer.
  • Day 25: Had a bit of a narrow scare today! Thought I threw away the [Barn Owl’s] beard clipper charger. Turns out I left it near the area where he usually leaves it instead of with all the rest of the chargers and wires near his bedside, which is where he looked for it first. This is why placing small items by category instead of ‘by flow’ works better.
  • Day 30: Found my husband’s tool bag, which is basically a disintegrating Border’s plastic bag. Threw away all the dried up superglues and anything that looked like it was mouldering and repackaged the whole lot into a clean shoebox fitted with a plastic stationery divider that I found. At least he won’t impale himself on a screwdriver the next time he looks for another Allen key. I didn’t dare to throw away any of the multiple screwdrivers or wrenches, though. They are all in pretty good repair and seem to be of different sizes.

Thoughts upon clearing the bathroom:

  • Day 1: Threw away some mouldering soaps and a random collection of empty toothpaste tubes that the kids stashed under the sink. And all the empty pump bottles that the kids have been playing with. Realised that we have 3 half empty bottles of 1L Dove Soap?! I’ve decided to throw the current empty ones out since they will soon be replaced anyway. [The kids] don’t need 20 pump bottles.
  • Day 3: I probably should tackle my washcloths. I don’t know why I have 3 drawers of them!
  • Day 7: I didn’t realise linens were part of this. I guess I’ll sort through the bed linens too. I’m going to get rid of my pre-marriage bed linens. They never get used anyway and are looking sad.

Thoughts upon clearing furniture and decor:

  • Day 1: Hm. Procrastinating by going through the kids clothes again.
  • Day 2: I found some pictures and put them up and that helped
  • Day 14: Wish me luck as I start going through the storeroom. Found boxes of stuff belonging to my parents that I was only supposed to store temporarily!! The boxes are so old that the plastic tape appears to be disintegrating! Will have to unpack the boxes and cart back to my parents house slowly. Look what I just found. My great-grandmothers shoes. Her feet are so tiny!
  • Day 15: I just unearthed a brand new vacuum cleaner, still unopened in the box (given to us by a friend who was leaving town and never used it), and [the Barn Owl] has been complaining that we need to buy one. I’d forgotten that we even had one. Gonna use it! I broke a glass in the kitchen the other day and the clean up was PAINFUL.

P.S. Why am I doing this? Here’s why.

P.P.S. Check out the rest of the Queen of Konmari series here.

If you haven’t read the books already, you can get them here:

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organising

Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up

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Nothing’s slick as Gaston Luga – A Backpack Review (And exclusive discount code!)

We’d been on the lookout for a new bag for the Barn Owl that would be suitable not only for work and everyday use, but for travelling, and we were so pleased to have been contacted by the fine folk from Swedish retailer, Gaston Luga!

I have always associated haversacks with children and school, which is why I don’t carry them myself for fear of looking like a student. However, I have to say that after looking through the beautifully designed bags available on the Gaston Luga website, I am now convinced that these are an elegant grown-up version of the backpack!

With all the colours and styles available to choose from, it was difficult to pick our favourite but in the end, we picked out this gorgeous bag in olive and brown that combines style with practicality.

The bag arrived within a few days of ordering via DHL express, and it was much more beautiful than I expected! The bag is constructed from a thick and durable canvas, with faux leather straps and beautiful stitching. We were pleased to find that the buckles on the bag are purely for decoration as the straps are affixed with magnetic closures for convenience. I particularly like the four metal feet under the bag that not only help it stand upright when you put it down, but stops the bottom of the bag from scraping the ground.

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We love pockets

The main compartment of the bag closes with a sturdy drawstring and has a nice padded laptop sleeve, as well as pockets to fit the Barn Owl’s spectacles case and phone – and when we’re on the go, he likes to tuck his phone in the unique Gaston Luga ‘passport pocket’. There’s also a little zippered outer pocket which comfortably fits all his odds and ends.

The Barn Owl has been using this bag everyday for the last four months and we recently took the backpack along with us on our last trip abroad. It really travels well and is super-comfortable to wear, even when there’s a two year old sitting on your shoulders!

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Gaston Luga was here

A Bonus for Owls Well Readers: Gaston Luga is offering a 15% discount on all Gaston Luga merchandise! Just enter the code owlswell15 at checkout to have the discount applied to your order.

Buyer’s Note: We received the Clässic backpack from Gaston Luga for the purposes of this interview. If you would like to buy your own backpack, check out the Gaston Luga website here. Gaston Luga quite often throws in some seasonal freebies (usually a cardholder or luggage tag) with every backpack order, so keep an eye out for them! Additionally, if you are ordering from outside the EU, you automatically get a 20% off tax rebate. With free DHL international shipping thrown in and 15% with the Owls Well discount code, that’s more than SGD$100 in savings – a real bargain!

Owls Well presents: Seaspiration/Dottieshop

The year end school holidays are upon us, and I have got a really great holiday activity to share with you!

The kids were recently inspired by a trip to the S.E.A. Aquarium and we were able to support their creative outpouring using a watercolour kit sent to us from Dottieshop.

Here’s a little video I made of our adventure:

I have tried teaching the kids to paint with watercolours in the past, but lacked the know how and experience, so I found the guidance from Dottieshop’s instructions extremely useful! As you can see from the video, even 2 year old Thumper was able to paint with watercolours and bring to life his unique vision.

I really liked this watercolour kit for kids because it combined several different creative techniques to achieve the final product: the kit teaches drawing using image transfer as well as wet-on-wet watercolour blending, and provides all the tools and equipment you’ll need to make some pretty pictures. Additionally, the whole kit comes in a neat little pouch which not only makes it easy to store away, but you could potentially bring it with you anywhere for a pop-up watercolour experience!

Afterwards, the kids wanted to know more about the life aquatic, so we headed over to Youtube to find more information. I’ve created a kid-friendly playlist of our favourite ocean-related educational videos that we found – hopefully they will inspire you and your kids too!

Dottieshop also holds watercolour and brush calligraphy workshops at Artify Studio! Her next few workshops will be Christmas themed, so why not bring the kids along and make your own holiday gifts! Her Christmas floral watercolour workshops are on 6 Dec 2017 at 7-10pm and 17 Dec 2017 at 3-6pm, and there’s also a special parent-child Under The Sea workshop on 20th Dec 2017 at 10am-12pm. You can sign up for them at Dottieshop’s event pages here.

If you’d like to try out Dottieshop’s art kits or get one as a gift, just click on the picture below.dottieshop-illustration-watercolour-calligraphy-kit.jpg

Visit the S.E.A. Aquarium here

Visit Dottieshop here

(By the way, here’s my previous review of the Dottieshop ‘Hello Spring’ watercolour kit)

Book Series that we love (Chapter books): My Blade Quest

We’ve recently been introduced to yet another homegrown Singaporean author, Don Bosco, and his Super Cool chapter book series – My Blade Quest!

These adventure books are definitely good for readers who need to gain confidence in moving away from picture books, and are looking to slowly expand their vocabulary. Each chapter is only 3-4 pages long, and will not appear intimidating even though the illustrations are few and far between. This makes them perfect for primary schoolers who are not yet confident readers, but don’t want to be caught reading ‘kiddy books’ during the silent reading time in class!

The stories are funny and exciting, with a smattering of pop culture elements to capture the attention of our technology and media savvy kids. The main characters Jay and Shu, heirs to the Blade Quest card game empire, are intrepid and intelligent…and I really like the fact that they have a loving sibling relationship!

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A quick read before bedtime

I introduced this series to 9 year old J, and he was glad to have something fun to read to unwind during the hectic end-of-year exam period. The series has 9 year old J’s stamp of approval and he has since re-read the books several times.

J says – If you are looking for an in-between mystery and adventure book series that is more challenging than Geronimo Stilton and less silly than Captain Underpants, then these books are good for you. I enjoy imagining Jay and Shu going all over the world to find treasures and meet new friends. And I wish I had a Blade Quest Card Game!

Little E is just beginning to start reading chapter books, so I’ll be reading My Blade Quest with her during school holidays and hopefully this will help her to read more independently!

Bonus For Owls Well Readers: If you are looking for a great gift idea for a special little person in your life, the fine folk over at Armour Publishing have kindly offered an exclusive discount code for all Owls Well Readers! Hooray!  Just enter the code OWLS17 at checkout to enjoy 20% off any purchase of My Blade Quest Series (Books 1 – 4). (Discount code is valid from 17 Nov to 8 Dec 2017).

Buyer’s note: I received a set of My Blade Quest books from Armour Publishing for this review. If you would like to get the books for a little adventurer in your life, you can find My Blade Quest and other books by local authors here. Don’t forget to use the discount code!