Sunday 28 August 2011

Keeping House - Zone 5 (Living Room)

The last zone for this month!  How have you been going with your 15 minutes per day of zone cleaning??

Day One
Declutter the room - put away any piles of 'stuff' that doesn't belong here!  By the phone, on a table, or on a bench - the 'stuff' seems to pile up when we aren't watching - put everything away where it belongs today.

Day Two
If you have a couch or lounge in your living room, this is a job for you...  Take the cushions off the couch. Wash the cushion covers and plump the pillows when you insert them back in the clean case.  While the cushions are off the couch, check down behind for any random items that have fallen in there.  Then vaccuum the couch from top to bottom.

Day Three
Our fireplace is in the Living Room.  It is getting warmer now, and we probably won't use the fire again until next year.  So, I am going to clean out the kindling/wood baskets, store the fireplace tools in the garage and do a good clean-out of the fire place today (read more about cleaning the fireplace here).  I love my fire in winter, but I don't miss the mess it makes!  If you don't have a fireplace, your job to do wipe over the light and power switch-plates with a damp sponge - it really should take you less than 2 minutes!  A small thing, but it makes a difference :)

Day Four
Wipe over the skirting boards in this room.  Get all of the dust off the base of the walls, and then vaccuum the room, ensuring to get to the edges.

Day Five
Brighten up the room with some flowers.  Buy a bunch of your favourite flowers and put them in a pretty vase, and admire them as you walk into the room.  If you can't afford to buy flowers, go out into your garden and pick some - even a small vase of a few flowers will make the room feel 'loved'.

So there you have it!  Five weeks of examples of how to stay on top of the detailed cleaning in your house.  By breaking things down into manageable steps, I hope that you have been able to see just how simple it can be to maintain your house, simply by dedicating 15 minutes per day to each zone in your house.

Sunday 21 August 2011

Keeping House - Zone 4 (Master Bedroom)

Your master bedroom is a very special place in your home - it should be your sanctuary, your haven, your love nest ;)  This week I have 5 things for you to do in here, to help you to keep it feeling this way.

Day One
Declutter your nightstand, bedside tables, dressing tables, or any flat surfaces in the room.  Make sure that the only items in this room are the items that belong there.

Day Two
Declutter your wardrobe.  A few months back, I shared this tip with you... To put all of your coathangers backwards in the cupboard, then as you wear an item you put the hanger back in the right way.  After a few months, any clothes that are on hangers facing the wrong way are clothes that you haven't worn, and clearly need to find a new home!

Today is the follow-up from this original post, take out all of the clothes that you haven't worn since you turned the hangers and make some tough decisions about what you can get rid of.  Winter is almost over, winter woolies you haven't worn this year may be able to be donated to someone who needs them more than you.  Put them into a bag and straight into your car so that you can drop them off next time you are out... (Read my original post here.)
My calendar reminder for August 27th!

Day Three
Shine your mirrors.  I use glass cleaner wipes and a microfibre cleaning rag to clean my mirrors.  This won't take long, shine all of the mirrors in your room - dressing table, ensuite, hand-held mirrors, cupboard doors.  It will make the world of difference to the room!

Day Four
Do a detailed vacuum of your bedroom floor - move any furniture that you can, and get those dust-bunnies hiding in behind!  Vacuum under the bed, and along the edge of the skirting boards too.  Since I have had my Robomaid, I haven't vacuumed the bedroom with my normal vacuum cleaner - this week I am going to get down and get into all of the corners, nooks and crannies that are hard to reach.

Day Five
Turn down your bed before bedtime...  I know that lots of you are now in the routine of doing this, since my post about it a while back.  Treat yourself to a nightly turn-down service - you deserve it!  (Read my original post here.)

Have a wonderful week!

Saturday 20 August 2011

Keeping Herbs Fresh - Our First Guest Post!

Today's post is our first ever Guest Post!  My sister-in-law sent me this amazing idea and I just have to share it with you!  Steph lives in a mining town in Western Australia, so she is not only a million miles from anywhere, but they live in intense heat for most of the year.  So, here is her way of keeping store-bought fresh herbs in ship-shape condition, as she simply cannot grow anything in the extreme weather that she has to live in. I think this is a fantastic idea, because I know that my fresh herbs bloom in spurts throughout the year, and there are plenty of times when I have had to buy herbs to supplement my own limited supply, or times when I have so much supply that I struggle to use it before it dies off.  This is the perfect solution!

Keeping Herbs Fresh - By Steph-adiva

When I purchase parsley or any other herb in the pack from the supermarket, most of the time I always forget I have purchased them because they are in the crisper in the fridge and/or before I get to use all of the herbs they go off and need to be thrown in the rubbish. 

Well since you are so wonderful and inspiring with your handy tips, this is what I'm now doing:

1.  Wash the parsley and remove the stalks (optional to remove stalks).  When I wash my herbs, I put them in the salad spinner to get out more water.  

Tuesday 16 August 2011

Cupcake Day for the RSPCA

Did you know that Monday was Cupcake Day for the RSPCA??

I have embraced Cupcake Day 2011 (as one would imagine) by participating in a bake-off that we had at work, as well as doing some animal craft with my darling nephew...

On Monday we offered to mind my nephew, while my sister went to a friend's baby shower luncheon.  As always, I raced around as soon as I knew he was coming, gathering together activities that we could do while he visited.  As Cupcake Day was on my mind, I pulled together this cute little puppy-dog craft to do...

Basically, Jakey decorated a plain white paper plate with doggy eyes, doggy ears and nose/mouth, and cotton wool as the puppy's fur.

We added a stick to hold onto, and voila!  We now have a puppy dog mask/toy to play with.  He turned out so very cute, and we had lots of fun chasing each other around with it :)

Celebrations continued yesterday at work, as Cupcake Day was honoured and celebrated at our school, for the second year in a row.   This year proved to be bigger and better than ever!  We got on our 'bake on' and brought in cupcakes of all shapes, sizes and specialties, to sell them for $1 each - all proceeds going to the RSPCA.  Our staffroom smelt so amazing - my goodness what a blessing to be in the presence of all of those scrumptious cupcakes!  After scoffing 3 delectable cupcakes, I stopped myself from tasting any more...  luckily there were plenty left over, so we can have seconds when we go back tomorrow ;)

I kept my cupcakes simple, chocolate cakes with chocolate icing, and mini animal toppers, which I downloaded for free from here.

The creative juices must have been flowing over the long weekend - check out all of these amazing cupcakes that my colleagues concocted!  Just stunning, and oh so yummy!!

This was my favourite!!  So simple, yet so effective!
This all seems so timely, as Mum & Dad had a little puppy come to their door just days ago...  He was obviously lost and actually stayed a few days, enjoying being pampered by my parents (who loved him dearly, as he reminded them of their own dog who we had to put down last year).  However, due to their great efforts at finding his owner, they reunited him yesterday with a very happy 3 year old boy :)

I am really not an pet person myself, but they do bring much joy to the lives of their owners!  Thank goodness for the RSPCA and the wonderful work they do to keep animals safe and healthy :)  And what a great excuse to get crafty and cupcakey!

Monday 15 August 2011

Keeping House - Zone 3 (Bathroom)

This week we are in the bathroom.

Day One
Declutter the room. Return any items that don't live here to their proper home.  Purge any items off the benches/shelves that you haven't used in the past 3 months.  If in doubt, throw out!

Day Two
Refill the liquid soap. Wipe over the pump and bottle. Add a replacement to your shopping list if you have no more left.

Day Three
This week I am trying the new Viva shower wipes. So far, I am pretty impressed with them! They cut through soap scum really well, without having to use toxic smelling cleaning chemicals. So, today's job is to clean the shower screen and door until it sparkles!

Day Four
Continuing on from the shower glass, move on and clean the shower walls. Scrub from top to bottom.

Day Five
Today finish off that shower by scrubbing the shower floor. I love to use gumption and a mesh scourer to get my shower floor pearly white.

I hope you can see that Flying with these zones isn't about working yourself to the bone, rather it is about breaking things into smaller, more manageable steps. Be kind to yourself! Give yourself a shiny shower this week, plus a couple of other simple treats to make you smile each time you step into your bathroom!  I am sure that you will find that once your shower is nice and clean, it is much easier to maintain it :)

Sunday 14 August 2011

Organising Greeting Cards

A greeting card is a quicky, easy and inexpensive way to let someone special know that you are thinking of them. 

I have always loved writing cards and letters to people... I remember writing letters to my cousins when we were growing up - there was nothing more exciting than the thrill of the postman delivering a reply!  And when my dear Granny passed away, we came across a big box of letters that I sent to her over the years.  And in high school, my girlfriends and I would write letters, pages long, every night to each other.

Since email and texting have come along, it has changed the way that people communicate.  Yes, I do rely on email and texts to send messages to loved ones, but I still have big place in my heart for the good old fashioned card or letter posted in the mail!

I try to post birthday cards to my friends and family for their special day, and letters of thanks and well-wishes when I deem it timely.  Monday night is my 'Cards and Presents' planning night, so it is on this day each week that I check the calendar and write any cards that I need to post in the coming week.  I also look back on the week just passed, and write any thank-you cards to friends who hosted an event that I attended. I also check my phone for recent messages, and send cards to people who might need some cheering up because they are unwell or have had some bad news. 

Keeping up with cards requires an element of organisation.  Without cards and stamps on hand, the thought of sending someone a card won't actually eventuate and I do admit to missing special occasions altogether because I just wasn't prepared.

So here is how I stay on top of it...  I buy greeting cards in bulk.  When there is a book stand in the middle of the shopping centres, they often have boxes of hand-made greeting cards to buy.  When you can pick up a box of 30 beautifully embelished cards for $25 - you are onto a good thing!  It costs less than $1 a card, and the person on the receiving end will value it as priceless :) 

The boxes usually come with a variety of cards for events such as birthdays, anniversaries, babies, get well, etc.  The boxes are usually really sturdy and with a bit of scrapbooking paper, you can re-purpose it into a box for something else in your home!  I also buy boxes of blank cards from stationery shops too.  You should try checking out the throw-out table at the newsagency next time you are there!

I keep all of my greeting cards in this box (gotta love Ikea!).

I have divided the box using A4 divider tabs, which I cut to size for this box, so that my cards are organised and easy to access. 

I have a tab for each month, so that I can plan ahead of time. 

And tabs for different events such as birthdays, weddings, babies, etc.

Usually 2 weeks before the end of the month, I take my calendar (which you can read more about here) and my card box and put aside any cards that I will need for the upcoming month's birthdays, anniversaries, parties, etc.  If I don't have the right card for an occasion, I write it on my shopping list and I have at least 2 weeks to find it.

I always make sure that I have plenty of postage stamps and address labels in my Postage Box, so that I can address and stamp it immediately, and all I need to do is pop it in the post box.

I also have these 2 great books, which help with card-writing.  I like to take time to write something thoughtful in cards, and books like this provide ideas and inspiration which you can personalise to the event you are celebrating.  A heartfelt message speaks volumes :)

Hopefully that gives you some ideas on how to organise your greeting cards.  I think I am pretty good at sending birthday and thank-you cards, but next year my goal is going to be anniversaries!  I have a really big extended family on my Mum's side - so next year I want to make sure that I get birthday cards out to all of my cousins' kids too...  At last count there was 30+!! 

Saturday 13 August 2011

Clip-Tabs: A Paper Clip crossed with a Sticky Note

I received some Clip-Tabs as a gift last year, and since then I have been so impressed with both their functionality and their cute appearance.

Basically, they are a paper clip that sits inside a small tab made of coloured cardstock.  They serve the purpose of holding together multiple sheets of paper, as well as have a tab that can stick out the top/side, and be labelled for easy identification in the future.

I have these gorgeous tabs in both pink and purple shades, and they just add a dimension of 'prettiness' to everything that they are used for!

Friday 12 August 2011

Organising Lunches - Frozen Toasted Sandwiches

My latest organising addiction is lunches.  There is nothing worse than having to get up in the morning and scrounge together a hearty lunch - so today I have this fabulous solution to share!

I know that lots of people freeze sandwiches.  It is just not something that I have ever done.  We like nice fresh bread for sandwiches, and a frozen sandwich is not something that appeals to neither me, nor my husband.  If the bread for our sandwiches is not light and fluffy, we generally turn it into a toasted sandwich, oozing with melted cheese, instead of a dry, crusty sandwich.  So, a few weeks ago I decided to try something new - pre-make toasted sandwiches, then freeze them and use them during the week for lunches.  It has been a huge success!

Saturday 6 August 2011

Keeping House - Zone 2 (Kitchen)

Week 2 of the month, and our focus area of the home is our Kitchen.  In most cases, the kitchen is the heart of the home.  We come together to share food, drinks and stories in this special place.  Below I have listed a little job to focus on each day of this week.  Each one, you can do in less than fifteen minutes, but is sure to have an impact on your kitchen...

Day One
On the first day, we always declutter.  My kitchen bench is a magnet for any and everything!  I keep boxes, caddies and folders here, in an attempt to organise the 'piles' that magically appear here every single day ;)  Take the time today to put away anything that doesn't belong on the bench, and tidy any caddies that you have there too.  Then quickly spray the bench and wipe it clean - I bet it makes you smile :)

Day Two
Wipe down the fridge doors.  A stainless steel fridge can be a bit of a pain, as it accumulates lots of fingerprints on it.  I use stainless steel wipes to clean my fridge, as it seems to put a nice coating over the surface, which reduces the number of spots that appear.
Day Three
Wipe down the cupboard doors.  It doesn't have to be perfect, just a quick spray and then wipe over with a damp cloth.  I bet you can do this in less than fifteen minutes!

Day Four
Refill the tea, coffee and sugar canisters.  Nothing says 'I love you' like a full canister of your favourite drink first thing in the morning...  Also give the sugar spoon a wash so that is sparkles again!

Day Five
Tidy your utensil drawers.  I did a post last month on organising kitchen drawers.  You can read about it here.  If you already have your drawers organised, take a minute to straighten things up again.  If not, spend 15 minutes decluttering and tidying those drawers that seem to take on a life of their own!!
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