Hoarding and Clutter

There comes a time in a girl's life when she needs to de-clutter. When she says ok, that's it. Time to let go of the drawing you made in grade five. Time to let go of the stamps still stuck on those envelopes that will never be soaked and put into the stamp album. Time to let go of that pile of receipts that are in different languages from overseas.

I have a problem which I am going to classify as genetic. My grandmother is pretty terrific. This amazing woman will never want to retire from her job as a translator. She has achieved so much and is currently president of a welfare association for Vietnamese women. I recently wrote an article for university about her and I was so proud of all of her achievements. She writes things down and keeps all of her notes. She records down every single little detail, like what she has eaten for her meals and what time she has visitors or arrives home. She also keeps all of her notes. Along with piles of clothes and magazines and trinkets from her past. She can't let go, she won't let go of them. She is still amazing though.

I think I am very much the same. There are things that have lots of sentimental value. Keeping the objects means that the memories attached to them will never be forgotten. But I don't need them, I have photos and friends to remind me. There is also the "practical" side. Maybe one day there'll be a use for this item, maybe one day it will come in handy. You hear of hoarders who have thousands of plastic bags in their homes, but is it really practical to think that each and every one of them will have a use? My way of thinking when I did my cleanout last summer was that, if it can be replaced or purchased at a later date, let go. Throw it out and make room for something else (like air).

There is this saying that my boss taught me while I was working at the optometrist. You should make everything clean and throw out everything that isn't needed before the new year (Chinese New Year in this case), so that you can let the good things in. Out with the old and in with the new. I like that. That's why I decided to take control of the mess that was my room and clean it out, to let the good vibes in.

There was also a lesson I learnt from my parents while we were in Fiji. They went for a seaside walk and arrived at a small village. They told me about the family they met, who happily welcomed them into their small home. They talked and communicated the best way they knew how - through alcohol. Specifically, grog, the traditional Fijian alcohol made from Kava root. These people who had next to nothing still shared the little amount they had with strangers, tourists from another country. Looking around, my parents noticed that they had limited belongings, only one or two toys fashioned from coconuts, and they lived with just the barest of necessities. There were no trendy fashion items, no pieces of pretty jewellery. Humans don't need those things to survive, they don't even need those things to make them happy. Because happy this Fijian family was. They laughed and talked the afternoon away, grateful for the things they had.

This, I kept in mind the most while I was clearing away my belongings. Of course, we do live in a society where consumerism is all the rage, but it was nice to think that none of the objects we covet so much are really imperative to our happiness. I still am trying to throw away and donate things which do not have a use at this moment in time, so there are still a few things to sort out. Is there anything you need to sort through, throw out, or give away?

These cupcakes make the perfect snack when you need a little pick me up whether you are cleaning out a really messy room, or needing a break from the seemingly endless amount of assignments that your have due.

Mini Coffee Swirl Muffins Recipe
Adapted from Coffee Coffee Cake Muffins by Joy the Baker
Makes approximately 21 mini muffins (follow Joy's recipe to make 12 normal sized muffins)

65g butter
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon full cream milk
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup + 1 tablespoon plain all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons instant coffee (get the strongest type you have) with 3 teaspoons warm water to dissolve it

For the topping
1 1/2 tablespoon of cold butter, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup plain all purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees celsius fan forced. Line your chosen muffin pan with appropriately sized muffin papers.

Place the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat and melt it. Watch it closely so that it doesn't burn. It will crackle for a few minutes and then the crackling will stop. Swirl the pan to keep an eye on the colour of the butter. After the crackling stops it will change colour pretty quickly. Take it off the heat when the butter is a nice and nutty golden brown. It should smell amazing.

In a measuring jug, whisk together milk, eggs and vanilla. Add the butter to this and stir to combine.

In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add the milk mixture all at once and stir gently to combine.

Dissolve the coffee in the water and add this to the batter. Stir gently to make swirls in the batter.

Divide the batter evenly between the muffin cases.

To make the topping, put all the ingredients in a bowl and using your fingertips, rub the butter into the rest of the ingredients until you get a sandy feeling mixture. Sprinkle this over the filled muffin cases.

Bake for 18-20 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle of one of the cakes comes out clean. Cool for 15 minutes in the pan then remove and cool on a wire rack if desired.

You can eat these warm or at room temperature with some coffee or tea or milk or whatever you like!

Thank you for reading,

From Jen.

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