Monday, March 14, 2016

Christina Hollis: Spring Cleaning Fever...

Love In Every Stitch...
I hate housework. You get the place looking great, then someone wrecks the magazine stack looking for something, or a cupboard bursts open, sending  paperwork all over the floor. All your hard work, undone in seconds! So when I heard about a system that means you tidy up once in your lifetime and then just twiddle round the edges, I had to find out more.

Over the past month, I've been following a reality TV program called Back in Time For The Weekend. The brave Ashby-Hawkins family spent last year living for a week in each of the last decades of the Twentieth Century. From the post-Second World War deprivations almost up to the present day, they've learned what it was like to live as a family in changing times.

One of the most interesting facts brought home to them was the explosion in the amount of "stuff" we all accumulate. In the Nineteen Forties and Fifties, the UK was on its knees. Food was rationed. There was no money to spare, but that hardly mattered as the shops were practically empty. Presents were often hand-made. Repair, re-use and recycle were habits, long before they became Green watchwords.

These days, all our homes are so stuffed with electronic gadgets, fitness equipment and leisure goods, cars are parked on the street so garages can be used as storage space. Canny people are making a fortune by providing secure units excess items owned by people who can't bear to throw anything away.

All that really struck a chord with me. Tottering Towers is totally stuffed with...well, stuff. Ninety percent of my housework time is spent shuffling things from place to place. Back in Time For The Weekend showcased one method of dealing with it. Marie Kondo's book, The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying brings tough love to the closet.

Marie is a great believer in only keeping those things which create a spark of joy within you.  It follows that, the less you have, the easier it is to keep your house tidy. That's the theory, but it means unless something is either beautiful or useful, it has to go. For a start, every piece of clothing you've been meaning to mend, update, or wear again once you lose weight must go straight to the charity shop. Be honest—when are you going to have time or willpower to do anything with it all? I asked myself that question. Within two hours, I filled four sacks of clothes weighing nearly seventy pounds in total! You could almost hear the foundations of Tottering Towers sigh with relief.

Then spring cleaning fever really took hold. It was hard, especially when I came across a trunk of baby clothes.  My smallest baby is now sixteen years old! As Tom Lehrer sang, "Sentiment will not endear it..." so nearly all of it had to go, although I confess to keeping their christening robes, and two little outfits I'd made for them. I'm not a natural knitter, so remembering the time, tears and effort it took me to create such sweet and delicate garments is a boost to my ego, as well as a keepsake. I'm thinking of having them framed!
Find out more at
The great thing about spring cleaning is the old place looks lovely, as there's hardly enough stuff left for us to get it untidy again—at least until the next shopping expedition...

In Heart Of A Hostage, my latest book for The Wild Rose Press, a disaster means Maia has to stop living like a princess and face real life. She copes by spring cleaning the castle where she's being held hostage.  I don't believe domestic engineering is solely women's work, but scruffy, threadbare surroundings suck all the joy from life. Maia beats the men at their own game by proving she can rise to any occasion. I'm hoping a rigorous clear-out of my office inspires me to do the same!

Are you a hoarder? Or can you dispense with things the second they've served their purpose?

When she isn't cooking, gardening or beekeeping, Christina Hollis writes contemporary fiction starring complex men and independent women.  Her books have been translated into more than a dozen languages, and she’s sold nearly three million books worldwide. You can catch up with her at, on Twitter, Facebook, and see a full list of her published books at
Her current release, Heart Of A Hostage, is published by The Wild Rose Press and available at  worldwide, and from in the US.


Laney4 said...

Hi! Lovely to see you here, Christina!
I have had "words of the year" - once it was Ruthless, as in be ruthless in getting rid of stuff you don't need. We have participated every year for 30 years now in a street yard sales that I organize, whereby 6-13 houses (of 22) each hold their own yard/garage sales - so I DO get rid of stuff regularly, plus I am up to 18 boxes of unsold items that are donated to charity afterwards. Another year my word was Balance, as in trying to do more for myself because I always seemed to be doing things for others. Cleanse was another word of the year, and I have been cleansing myself of toxic friends, numerous emails, and plain old junk around the house (similar to Ruthless). This year my word is Nike, as in Just Do It (because I don't have three words of the year). This is my favorite word, as there are dozens of times each day when I no longer leave items on the step to take upstairs later but Just Do It now - or when there's lint on the floor and I bend over and pick it up Now. My house has never looked better!!! I am lucky, though, as I have a crawl space to neatly store my future yard sale items, a few toys for future grandkids and company with kids in the meantime, jeans that I will fit into later (I have gone back and forth with that pile - I am tall and must pay at least $100 per pair for them from a store 2 hours away, so no way am I throwing them out), a box of "stuff I don't use now but might use later" (which sometimes goes into the yard sale pile, but oftentimes gets used years later, like my heating pad I am so glad I didn't toss when I needed it at 2 am), and of course my Christmas items.
Christina, I don't make comments on your blog because I can't use Blogger like I use here at ASR. It's not for lack of trying....
seytype at Hotmail dot com

Christina Hollis said...

Thanks for commenting, Laney. Your word of the year is a great idea, though I may have to use the three of Just Do It, as you've laid claim to Nike! I know exactly what you mean about keeping things that might come in useful one my case, I find a use for them the day *after* I've finally thrown them away :(

dstoutholcomb said...

I've been trying to keep the clutter at bay. Too many hoarders in the family. Not fun cleaning out a house after they've passed on.


Christina Hollis said...

Yes, Denise, that sad situation brings hoarding into perspective. Everything a relative collected meant something special to them, and brings bcd memories. That makes the sifting very difficult. Thanks for commenting.