Sunday, 31 July 2011

Keeping House - Zone 1 (Entry, Porch & Dining Room) - August 2011

These are the dates for the Zones in August.  Add them to your calendar, to remind yourself where we are.  I use stickers to record the zones on my calendar (read more here).

  • Zone 1: The Entrance, Front Porch and Dining Room (August 1 - 5)
  • Zone 2: The Kitchen (August 8 - 12)
  • Zone 3: The Bathroom and One Extra Room (August 15 - 19)
  • Zone 4: The Master Bedroom (August 23 - 27)
  • Zone 5: The Living Room (August 29 - 31)
Day One
The first thing we must do before we start our detailed cleaning is declutter the area. So today you need to put away any homeless items that have made their way into the entrance of your home. Things like shoes, hats and bags need to be put away. That pile of junk mail needs to be read or simply thrown out.
If you have nothing to put away - yay for you!! You can give your doormats a shake out and the porch/patio area a quick sweep.  Day one in Zone one is done!

Day Two
My plan for day two is to clean the front entrance window glass. I use Windex wipes, they are so quick and easy, and don't leave any streaks. I have a floor to ceiling window in my entry, and to wipe over both the inside and the outside takes less than 5 minutes! This is all I am doing here today - it makes the world of difference to the front of my home.

Day Three
I noticed the other day my front door is really dirty. So, for my third day in zone one I am going to clean the front of my wooden door. It has lots of grooves and detail in the wood, so this one takes a little time. I will use a rag and a bucket of soapy water to clean the door, and then I will wipe it down with an old towel.

Day Four
Today we move into the dining room. Just like in the entrance, the first thing we must do is declutter.  Put away anything that doesn't belong here.  Paperwork that is on the table, shoes that are hiding under the table on the floor, projects that were being done on the table, but have sat idle for the past week...  Whatever it is, put it away.  If you have nothing to put away, then your job is to rotate your chairs.  This ensures that your chairs wear evenly.  The sun can cause wear and tear on your furniture, and so can different people's weight.  Rotate the chairs to ensure that your chairs wear at a similar rate.

Day Five
The job in here is to shine your Dining Table.  I use Mr Sheen and a microfibre rag when doing detailed cleaning of my wooden furniture.  Clear everything off the table and clean that table until it shines! And then put a vase or ornament in the middle of the table when you are done - something that makes you smile :)

I hope that you can see how easy this system is - the jobs are few and simple. Next month we will do some different jobs and before you know it, your entry way and dining room will be permanently spring cleaned!

Saturday, 30 July 2011

Keeping House with Flylady's Zones

For those of you who don't know the 'Flylady Zones', I am going to explain it in my own words for you today.  I have lots of friends and family that I have referred to Flylady over the years, but many of them have come back to me more confused than enlightened.

I will admit that the website is somewhat difficult to follow, and the best place to start is with reading her book 'Sink Reflections'.  It is a great read, and once you read it, it puts all of the pieces of the puzzle together.  It is available as a hard copy or an audio book - I love audio books!  They are great to listen to while you are cleaning or driving or straightening your hair ;)  I find them really inspiring, and a great use of time, as I struggle to find time to read generally.

So, Flylady breaks the house into five 'Zones'.  She then breaks each month into weeks, so that approximately 1 week is spent in each zone (some zones are smaller than others and hence have less time allocated to them).  By focussing on one zone for a week, the idea is that you will do detailed cleaning, organising and decluttering in one area of your house, and not feel overwhelmed by the enormity of the entire house - it is just one or two rooms at a time. This makes sense to me!  If we break things down into manageable chunks, we are much more likely to succeed :)

Friday, 29 July 2011

Cleaning Make Up Brushes

I have been addicted to Napoleon make-up ever since my sister-in-law's wedding.  Her gorgeous friend Tracey did an amazing job on our make-up, and I was inspired to spend more time learning how to apply my make-up properly.

A few months later, my sisters and I booked in for the Napoleon 'Paparrazi Ready' Make Up Course.  It was six hours of girly fun, playing with make-up and learning lots of tricks of the trade...

One of the most important things that I learnt, was to use brushes to apply make-up.  Not only do you get a more even/precise coverage, it is much more hygenic than using your fingertips.  And the best part is, that you use less product, because it not soaking into your fingertips or a sponge - and this ultimately saves you money!  It is surprising the amount of liquid foundation that I used to use, compared to now that I have my brush.  It is much, much less.

Alarm Clock

So we all struggle to get out of bed some mornings!  And for many different reasons... my reason most recently is that I have been staying up late reading my favourite blogs and updating my blog!  This makes it much harder to get out of bed in the morning - especially if you have to go to work..

So, aside from the obvious strategy of going to bed earlier (which I highly recommend), I thought I might share a few ideas that help me to get up and moving in the mornings....

I use my iPhone alarm.  I choose an alarm tune that is a little uplifting.  I have tried the blaring BEEP BEEP tactic, and all I do is get cranky that I have been woken up with such a startle!  I have also tried a nice relaxing melody, which usually sends me back to sleep!  So, I have settled with a nice tune that has a bit of beat to it, to get my spirits up, but is not so harsh for first thing in the morning.

I write myself a nice label for the alarm.  Currently, my weekday alarm says 'Its a beautiful day!'.  The first thing that I see in the morning is this lovely message, which gets me in the right frame of mind for the day ahead.  And my weekend alarm says 'Yay!  Its the weekend!'.  (Yes, I set my alarm on the weekends - I hate sleeping in!  I love to get up and get moving so that I can make the most of the day.  When I had my six weeks holiday recently, I still got up every single day at 5.30 - I just feel like I have wasted my day if I sleep in.)

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Baking Tip - Grating Butter

Just recently, I have discovered the wonder of grating butter!  Yep, that's right - I get out my block of butter and grate it!

Why??  I have no idea what inspired me to do this, maybe an instruction in a recipe??  I can't remember....  But it is such a wonderful trick :)

Sunday, 24 July 2011

I Love My Calendar

The calendar is an essential part of any household.  If you use it properly, it can make your life a lot less stressful...  I have had many different types of calendars over the years, really any calendar works - the main thing is that it has nice big boxes to write in, so that you have plenty of space to record your upcoming events.

My gorgeous sister, Nicole, made our entire family fantastic 2011 calendars for Christmas last year, with lots of wonderful photos to decorate each month of the year.  I love the brown tones of the calendar, and the boxes for each date are nice and large. Hey - check out the stunning matching twins on their birthday month - yes, matching runs in our blood ;)

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Dishwasher Tips

Just like all of our wonderful appliances, our dishwashers need a little TLC every now and then :)  My dishwasher hasn't been doing the best job of cleaning my dishes lately, and I was becoming frustrated with having to wash up a number of items that were consistently coming out dirty.

My friend, Melissa, recently moved into a house and apparently the dishwasher was left in a disgraceful state, and she said she was going to 'descale' the machine.  Hmmm.... that got me thinking.  I have lived here for almost 7 years and never once done anything to maintain my dishwasher - oops!

So, I did my trusty Google search and came up with some great tips, which I am going to share with you...

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Hanging Suspension Files with Snap Lock Tabs

I found these amazing hanging files in Officeworks, when I was on the hunt for red files for my recent Recipes project (you can read about it here).  I certainly never expected to find this amazing product!

Firstly, the files come in lots of colours, most importantly red, which was just what I needed for my project.  It is just a bonus that the inside colour of the file is pink ;)  Apparently this is to prevent mis-files, which occurs when you slip something in between 2 files, and it falls down below.  So having something to prevent this happening is not only functional, but I think it looks pretty too!

It wasn't until I got home that I realised the amazing feature that this product has...  built-in snap lock tabs.  Each file has 5 clear tabs, which can be folded up and 'snapped' into place, acting as a tab label for the folder.  No more squeaky plastic tabs to slide in and out, these guys have a built-in tab perfect for labelling. I think they will also be invaluable, as I know sometimes the plastic slide-in tabs can pop off and ruin your entire filing system.  And if you change your filing system, it is so easy just to fold down the tab and snap up another one in a different position, as needed.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Shop Shop App for iPhone

To follow on from my post on Meal Planning, I thought it would be timely to talk about my Shopping List.  I use the 'Shop Shop' application on my iPhone, rather than a paper shopping list.  The main reason for this, is so that I always have my shopping list with me.  There is nothing worse than getting to the shop and realising that you don't have your list!  I always carry my phone, so that means that my lists are always handy too.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Meal Planning

Meal planning is an integral part of my weekly routine.  I have always planned my meals, I think it must be something that I picked up from my mum.  Meal planning is a wonderful thing as it saves time, saves money, and, most importantly, ensures that we bless our bodies with nutritious food.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

My Laundry - Part #1

A few months back, I did a bit of research on my favourite blogs around Laundry Organisation.  I wanted to 'spruce up' my laundry, since it somewhere that I have to spend time in each day.  As always, the prettier the area, the more likely I am to use it, and also keep it looking pretty!  Inspired by this quote, I set out on my mission...

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Pink Makes The World A Better Place!

Today marks Cassadiva's one month birthday!  I cannot believe that it has been one month that I have been blogging!  I was so excited at one week when I had 1 000 hits on my site... I thought it was beginner's luck!  But here we are one month on, with over 4 000 hits on the site!!  It blows me away to think that 4 000 times you guys have clicked a button and stepped into my little world, amidst the busy-ness of your daily lives.

From my perspective, my world is a great place to be.  Life is not perfect, but I do my best to look on the bright side of life.  If you look hard enough, you can find something beautiful in everything you do...

Today I arrived home just on sunset and was bedazzled by the 'pink' world around me.  As I drove home, I noticed a haze of pink in the sky.  Then when I pulled into my carport, there was pink glowing all around me, reflecting off the roof, windows and walls, it was like the 'air' was pink! I went out of my back door and gazed up at this natural wonder that was graciously glowing on the horizon.  I always tell people that pink makes the world is a better place, and my goodness, for five short minutes of my day, my world was perfectly pink!

I grabbed my camera, took some happy snaps, and then in a blink, the sky was grey.  For that short while, I dropped everything and embraced the moment.  Life is busy.  Sometimes life is crazy busy!  But we must always take time to stop and 'smell the roses'.


Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Cafe Cassadiva - Recipe for Spicy Pumpkin Soup with Tortellini

Winter is certainly here and a delicious soup is a great way to warm up!  I love this Pumpkin Soup recipe that my mum found years ago, as it has a fantastic flavour with the spices, but it is also quite filling due to the tortellini.

Monday, 11 July 2011

Nightly Turn Down Service

I will always remember on our honeymoon, coming back to our villa from a dinner one night, to find the bed turned down with chocolates on the pillows and the soft glow of the bedside lamps illuminating the room in a romantic haze....

Why shouldn't we have this great experience every single day?  Well, I think that we should!

That is why every night I do a 'Turn Down Service' of my own.  Each night, I draw the curtains, turn on the lamps, remove the cushions and turn down the covers of our bed.  It takes all of 30 seconds to do, and makes our room so inviting for the rest of the evening.  

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Freezer Organisation

My freezer has been a little project of mine for some time.  We bought a new fridge a few months back, and while I just love the french door fridge, the freezer drawer was something I was struggling with.  It looks like one big drawer from the outside, but inside it is actually broken into an upper and lower level.  The lower drawer was like a big bottomless pit, no matter how hard I tried to line things up and straighten it, it was a mess again within days.  So, today I will share with you how my freezer drawers have ended up looking like this:
My lower freezer drawer
My upper freezer drawer.

Friday, 8 July 2011

How To Make Tissue Paper Flowers

It was my beautiful Mum's birthday yesterday and I decided to make something special to decorate her day...  I just love the tissue paper pom poms and flowers that are around for parties, and really wanted to learn to make them myself.  They look so pretty, and you can colour coordinate them to match absolutely anything.  I remember making flowers out of tissues when I was in about grade 2, so I thought it couldn't be too hard...

Battery Tips

This morning we woke up to the sound of a beeping smoke alarm.  While it isn't fun waking up to the sound of the repeated 'beep beep' indicating it is time to change the battery, I am always grateful that we have such a wonderful little gadget in our home in case of emergency.

Luckily, I was able to go straight to my battery container and get out a new 9Volt battery to put into the alarm.  We don't have to worry about not having a working smoke alarm for even 1 day!  It is all ready to help out if a fire were to break out in our home.  There have been times when the battery went flat and I had forgotten to buy a replacement for weeks - this is just crazy, when in reality this little wonder could just save our lives!

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Packet Perfection - Chocolate Cupcakes

I will be the first to admit that I love to use Packet Mixes when baking.  Baking from scratch is wonderful, but life is busy and packet mixes work a treat :)  Today I am going to share my secret ingredients for these gorgeous, easy cupcakes, which I took to a very special friend's place for morning tea this week...

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

I Love My Robomaid (Robot Vaccuum)

Last week I got some mail that has changed my life forever!  I received my Robomaid that I ordered as a treat for myself.  Robomaid has entered our home and now it is like a pet to me :)  It is my new best friend!

Ok, so who orders a robot vacuum cleaner, you may ask??  Me!  I have a fairly big house, with white tiles and cream carpet.  I work full time.  I have never had a cleaning lady, I have always managed to juggle the household chores and a demanding job, which really does take time away from spending time with my family and friends.  So, I ordered a vacuum that cleans the floor all by itself!  Yes - you read correctly... it VACUUMS and MOPS the floor for me!

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Cupcake Stands

Everyone is crazy about cupcakes at the moment, so I thought that I would do a little review on the Cupcake Stands that I have.  They all have their benefits and disadvantages, so hopefully this will help you to see which style of stand might just suit you :)

Pink Wire Three-Tiered Cupcake Stand
Note - cupcake toppers are leaning out away from wire on tier above
Cassadiva likes...
+ Pretty pink!
+ Stands tall and proud, looks very appealing on the buffet table
+ Holds large muffin-sized cakes, ideal for catering for large groups of people (or hungry people!)

How To Clean Fireplace or Wood Heater Glass

There is nothing like a warm-glowing fireplace to warm your bones in the chill of winter.  Our wood heater fills our home with such a wonderful ambiance during the winter months, it really feels like the heart of our home.  Now, a fire-place is not the cleanest nor the neatest part of the house, but you soon forget about this, when you are curled up beside it on a cold winter's night.

We got this great tip many years ago from a wonderful Canadian friend of ours...  She came to visit one wild and wooly winter night and showed us how to give our wood-heater fireplace a face lift!  I guess growing up in Canada, every household has a fireplace and hence the know-how that we were obviously lacking.  We have been so thankful for her sharing this tip with us,  so I thought I would share the secret with you, so that your fireplace can look like this too:

Monday, 4 July 2011

Highlighter Pen with Built-In Post Its

Today I have yet another great pen that I have found!

It is a slimline highlighter pen that has a mini post-it note dispenser on it.

I Love Matching Pegs

Ok, we all have our quirks and one of mine would have to be that I must have matching pegs to hang out the washing!  Some of you will nod your heads in agreement, others will shake your heads in dismay.  Whatever your reaction, I am sorry, but it does my head in to not match!

So, while this isn't really a big deal, it can mean that hanging out washing is a little stressful for people like me!  The dilemma is which colour peg to use for which colour clothes - red pegs for red clothes and blue pegs for blue clothes - that's easy.  But what happens when you don't have pegs to match the clothes??  And what happens when someone else hangs out your washing and they don't use matching pegs?  Shock, horror - we must go and re-do it!  I know that a friend of mine had to get her mother-in-law to come over everyday to hang out the washing after she had a caesarean to deliver her baby boy, because her hubby just wasn't doing it 'right'.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Washing Up Tips

The most wonderful habit that I have ever gotten into is washing up as I go.   I just love finishing dinner at night and not having to tackle a messy kitchen - it is fabulous!

The golden rule that I follow is this: whenever I am starting to cook or bake something, I fill the sink with water and detergent.  This enables me to add items to the water as I finish using them, allowing them to soak as I keep preparing.  Then, when I have a few minutes when I start to actually cook something (eg - the fish is frying in the pan, or the potatoes are boiling in the pot) I am able to quickly wash up the preparation utensils.  Because they have been soaking, there is limited amount of effort required, as no food has been allowed to go hard and crusty ;)  I also try to wipe down the benches at this time.

Then,  when I serve dinner, I am relieved to see that because I did some washing up, most of the items still being used for cooking will fit in the dishwasher, and generally all I am only left with the frypan to wash up after the meal.  I find dinner time so much more relaxing, and knowing that I don't have to get up after the meal and clean up a big mess is a great feeling.

It is also great to do this when baking.  I find when I make a cake mix (gasp!  yes, I use packet mixes all the time!) and have to leave it to mix for 4 minutes, I can get the entire kitchen cleaned up in this time.

Note that it is best not to drop knives or cutting blades into the sink of washing up water for safety reasons.

One other great habit that I have gotten into is looking around for 'one extra item' to wash up.  Sometimes, the water isn't all that dirty if the load wasn't big, and it seems a waste to empty out the water.  Well, this is the perfect opportunity to do yourself a favour, by picking one thing that you don't wash everyday and giving it a quick clean.  Things I wash up when I have spare water and time - the microwave plate, the toaster crumb trays, a fridge shelf or a fridge drawer, coffee machine parts, oven/griller racks, I even washed up the detergent drawer in my washing machine one time (it was great to get rid of all of the old detergent that builds up at the back of the drawer!).  This then eliminates the need to spend a session cleaning the entire fridge out, when you could be enjoying your weekend!

If you can't find anything to wash up, try wiping down 2 cupboard doors with the damp washing up cloth or wiping out the inside of the microwave.  By doing something really small each day, it saves that marathon cleaning session a few times a year, when you could be spending time doing something fun with your loved ones.

I hope that you find these tips useful - washing up is an inevitable job that we all have to deal with.  Hopefully, you can get some good systems happening by following these ideas :)

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Cleaning The Top of Kitchen Cupboards & Fridge

Today I have another cleaning tip to share with you - it is a beauty!

I shared this with my lovely friend Sam a few years ago, and I totally forgot about it until she reminded me about it just recently.  Obviously, I forgot because I didn't actually do it, but this time I was determined to give it a whirl...

So we all hate cleaning the top of the cupboards/fridge in the kitchen.  Not only does it get super dusty because we never get up that high and clean it, but the dust is actually greasy from all of the oils that waft into the air from cooking - gross!  I absolutely hate getting up there and seeing the grit and grime, and it is not my idea of fun to mop it up with a damp sponge and a bucket of water, whilst balancing on a ladder!

Friday, 1 July 2011

Cook Islands Travel Journal Day 2 (Part 2)

By now it was 3pm and we were starving from the big day of adventure that we had had thus far.  We wandered down to the Flying Boat Bar and Grill and ordered a chicken and bacon pizza and our first drinks at Aitutaki.  We positioned ourselves on the front of the deck area, over the water, enjoying another exquisite view of the turquoise blue water of the lagoon.

How To Keep Shallots Fresh...

Years ago my beautiful sister-in-law shared this amazing tip with me about shallots...

We all know that if you buy a bunch of shallots at the supermarket, within days of having them home and in the fridge, they are limp, turn brown and are quite useless.  Even the magical Tupperware Fridgesmart containers can't keep shallots fresh much past 3 or 4 days.

My Favourite Quotes #1

Don't get your knickers in a knot - it solves nothing and makes you walk funny :)
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