Spring Cleaning the House - How I avoid it

Spring time often feels like we are bears crawling out of our caves into the bright sunlight....my eyeballs hurt!!! It is such a lovely time of year, and then we notice all the winter grime that has built up in the house due to us being depressed by seasonal affective disorder, or just surviving the cold!. So out comes buckets, cleaners, brushes for a good old scrub down...the old "spring clean"  ........really is that what you want to be doing! wouldn't you rather be outside enjoying the sunshine! I certainly do so I actually try and avoid spring cleaning.  

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The Secret 

The honest truth, avoiding spring cleaning actually takes planning and organising and most importantly routine! So don't think you can avoid spring cleaning by doing nothing...well you can of course but you will be living in filth! 

So what is the secret to avoiding spring cleaning? Is it very simple, all you need to do is to have a regular and consistent cleaning routine. This means a daily, weekly, and monthly routine which you follow. The good news is that it is actually just a small amount of cleaning needed to be done on a regular basis. Essentially you can just build it into your normal daily routine and it shouldn't take more than 15 minutes each time.

If you are still with me, then read on McDuff and I`ll take you through my cleaning routine.

The Routine

First up this is my routine and so it is perfect for our house and family, you will need to work out what is best for you and your family.  I'll explain how I developed the routine and this should help you to develop your own.

Break it up baby! This is the key to developing the routine, breaking up all the cleaning jobs into tasks that you can then spread out over your time frames.  This is often what it referred to as zone cleaning.  I do not following this method exactly however it is a really good approach to developing a routine. There are really good blogs and videos all about zone cleaning. I have some blogs posted on my pintererst page here . A good You Tube channel to watch on zone cleaning is How Jen does it

This is my routine which I find works best for me. It did take some trialling and changing to get to work really well and just become part of our daily routine.

Daily

Morning 

  • Make the beds
  • Wipe down and clear kitchen benchs

Evening

  • Clean kitchen sinks 
  • Clean and clear bench tops
  • Clean and wipe front of fridge, microwave, dishwasher
  • Clean and wipe cooking hob and backsplash
  • Wipe around bathroom sink

Weekly

  • Monday - wash all towels and sheets/ dusting and mirrors
  • Tuesday - clean kitchen rubbish and recycle bins/refill all essential oil scent bags/wet floors
  • Wednesday - toliets/bathrooms
  • Thursday - vacuum
  • Sunday - fridge and pantry (I clean this when we do our shopping)

Monthly

I just extend my weekly routine to include

  • Cleaning of window sills and frames
  • Dusting of all window blinds
  • Window cleaning - kitchen
  • Skirting boards 
  • Stair hand rails
  • silver and brass cleaning

Six monthly

  • Windows 
  • silver polish
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Tips and Tricks

When cleaning in a room always wipe the door and door handles. e.g when I clean the toliets and bathrooms I include cleaning down the doors and handles.

Include wall hanging, picture frames etc in your dusting routine. Also dust along the tops of the walls and corners to capture cob webs.

Get yourself a cord free, hand stick vacuum. I have a Dyson and it's the best thing since sliced bread!

Be flexible as your life is busy and things change so adjust the routine as you need to. I always weekly plan and so make any changes to the cleaning routine that I need to. 

Try and try again. Getting the best routine will take some working out, so be prepared to adjust and change the tasks in the routine to get it working for you.

Biggest tip of all is to get into the routine of cleaning often and consistently. It just saves so much time because the cleaning itself takes little time as it is never very dirty! 

Document the task list and routine so you can share it with the family and "delegate" task to other members. 

Cleaning the windows is a half day job in my house so generally we do them six monthly, normally at the end of winter and summer. So yep, it's window cleaning time now...

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The only actual spring cleaning chore I do need to do is to clean the washing machine. Ours is a front end loader and they can get a bit grimy around the rubber seal. See this link from Clean and Sensible which has a great blog on cleaning a front end loader.  

See avoiding spring cleaning isn't that big a deal, just breaking the cleaning into tasks and spreading them out. Actually you can apply that method to any thing you want to achieve. The key is doing each task and sticking to it as it will save you time. I promise you that!

So off you go and enjoy spring with no spring cleaning!

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Getting my garden ready for spring

Spring time in the garden is the best!!! Beautiful blossoms out on the trees and the scent of fresh blooms and newly cut grass...hmmm just take it all in. Spring time in my garden has to be the busiest time in the garden all year and I love it. This year spring has been somewhat wet and I am feeling very frustrated at not being able to get out into the garden. However this weekend wet or shine will have me in the garden getting the garden ready for spring and the coming summer. So let me take you through how I "spring clean" my garden!. 

Twiggy, My little helper in the garden.

Twiggy, My little helper in the garden.

 

the Lawn

Now I am no expert when it comes to lawns and I don't even mow the lawns, however I hate weeds in my lawn. Over the years I have used a few different approaches to the old lawn weed issue, nothing actually beats digging out the weed root and all, however it's very labour intensive. So I simply just spot spray the weed with a natural weed killer .  Sprinkle a bit of lime over the lawn to help balance the ph level and replenish the nutrients. A quicker and easier option is to use Weed n Feed which I have used before and works well.

It's also a good time to sew some lawn seed if you have patches to repair. We have had a bit of damage to the lawn on the west side of the house that we have landscaped, so it just needs some seeds sown around. When doing lawn patch repair try and make sure you get the same grass seed as the exisiting lawn, otherwise your lawn might look a bit patchy. A good way to do this is to take a close up photo of the grass and take it into a garden centre, they will be able to match you up with the right seed.

the edges

There is nothing like a tidy and neat lawn edge. I am a bit particular about my lawn edges and this time of year they can get away on you, so giving the lawns and garden path edges a good trim can make a big difference. It's good to do this now to prepare for the the spring and summer growth. 

I also do some trimming and light pruning of bushes and trees, mainly my roses. Here in Auckland you do not get the cold frost so the roses tend not to go dormant, so I wait until September to give them a good prune and stake them in preparation for the rapid expansion of size with the spring and summer growth.

the garden Weeds

A good old dose of Round up on paths and driveways is needed at this time of year. I just make up a concentrate mix and use a spray applicator and walk around the house attacking these little blighters!.

It's also a perfect time to weed your garden beds. I do not use any weed sprays on my garden beds, just dig them up with my trusty trowel. Over the spring and summer months you do have to regularly weed the garden other wise the weeds can get out of control, but hey it's a great work out. A good weeding job once a month should be sufficient to manage the weeds.

the food

All plants get very hungry in spring with all their new growth so it's really good time to provide as much food and nutrient to your plants now to prepare them.

In my vege patch I add in my home grown compost mix, it smells really good and the vegetables love it. I also add in sheep pooh pellets as the vegetables plants start to produce. Make sure that you have a good watering system also set up. This year Pete is putting in some water tanks so we can use the rain water off the roof to the vege garden in summer. 

fresh compost on the vege garden

fresh compost on the vege garden

 

My citrus plants get a good dose of fish compost, any organic citrus fertiliser is good and pea straw around the base to keep the moisture in over the drier summer months.

Last winter I planted out a Hydrangea garden, two plants so far and will be adding another one soon. Over the flowering months, the flowers changed colour from blue/white to a pink/red.  I have read that you can actually change the colours of the flowers by changing the ph levels in the soil. My research has identified that I have a more alkaline soil and therefore a high ph level, probably over 7. Therefore I need to add aluminum sulfate to bring down the ph levels, ideally to 5. I could also try adding in coffee grounds and or fruit and vege scraps as this would also help to bring the ph levels down. To fertilise the bed I need to add low phosphorus and high potassium. As we produce a lot of coffee grounds I will give that a go and see if this can help and add in the appropriate fertiliser, fingers crossed

my white flowering hydrangea

my white flowering hydrangea

 

New plants

Early spring is a good time to plant out any new plants that you want in your garden. This year I will be adding another Hydrangea and some Hostas, so I am on the hunt for these in the garden centres.

Other Spring chores

Besides the actual garden, there are a number of spring chores we also do around the outside of the house;

  • Clean the outside windows and walls
  • Wash down patios and outside furniture
  • Spider spray around the external doors and windows

Although it sounds like a lot of work, it is not really, generally with two days of solid work in the weekend you will tick off most of these chores and have your garden and outdoors space all ready for the arrival of spring and summer...so you can sit back and relax and enjoy your beautiful outside space.

Happy Gardening everyone! 

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If you like this post , check out my post this time last year on creating a seasonal vegetable garden. 

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Taming the mess under the sink

To be honest I was never that concerned about the state of affairs under my kitchen sink. Ok, there was a bit of a mess at times, it was a catch all for cloths, sponges, cleaners, buckets, brushes etc however on the whole I always found what I needed. Upon moving into our current home, now 5 years ago, the under sink area was pretty awful due to the age of the kitchen. There had been a number of leaks over the years so plenty of water stains, grim and no functional storage space at all. As I knew that I would not be getting to update the kitchen for some time , like 5 years, I wanted to do something with this space, making it functional and well, even a bit pretty!!!

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Clear it out

At time of moving into the house I just sort of threw everything under the sink. To get this space back in order the first thing I did, and this is actually rule # 1 with organising a space, was to clear out all the items. I threw out all the old sponges, the tiny bits of left over steelo, the dirty ice cream containers, stained tea towels, expired hand cream and old cleaning products.

I keep the items that were still in ok condition and that I actually used, which surprisingly was not a lot.

Sort it out

The next step was to decide what I actually wanted, essentially sorting out what I used in the kitchen that would be useful to be stored under the sink. I managed to narrow it down to few items!!

  • Water bottles - watering plants and filling the coffee machine tank
  • Tea towels
  • Sponges
  • General cleaner
  • Sink cleaner
  • Table spray
  • Cleaning cloths
  • Essential oils
  • Cleaning gloves
  • Dish scrubbers
  • Dish scourer
  • Dishwash tablets
  • Kitchen sink plugs
  • Spare sponges and cloths
  • Hand cream
  • Fly spray

I have to confess at this point I did a bit of a shopping trip to replace all my towels, sponges , gloves, and brushes....ohhh shame! It did mean that I could actually colour coordinate everything. 

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Store it 

So now that I had all the items that I needed to be stored under the sink, I had to work out how I was going to house everything.

I grouped items together based on how I would use them,  such as the cleaning cloths with the general cleaner. The rubber gloves with the scrubbers and sponges, watering bottles together. Then I worked out how often I would use the items and therefore where I would  place them, e.g sponges, gloves and scrubbers within easy reach.

I still had no storage at all so I decided to purchase some storage containers, measuring them first to ensure that they would fit into the space properly. I also shopped the house and found an old spice rack, which I put to great use on the inside of the cupboard door. Using two command hooks, I simply placed the small spice rack onto the hooks. A colour coordinated paper clip holds the gloves together so they can be hung onto a command hook too. I got a couple of tiny little plastic bins/buckets from the $2 Shop, that I put into the rack. The perfect storage spot for the rubber gloves, sink plugs and scrubbers. 

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Another storage option that I used was glass jars.  Again, these were some that I had in the house and I was not using.  Jars are great as you can see the products, so always know when you are running low. The jars store the Dishwash tabs, Baking Soda for the sink cleaner, essential oils and tea lights and of course they are labelled.

To cover all the horrid water stains and years of grime, on the bottom of the cupboard I used a roll of non slip drawer liner. I just cut it to size and used double sided tape to hold it in place. I really loved how this worked out, makes the space look so new! And it's easy to keep clean. 

Lay it out

Finally, having sorted out my storage containers and what I needed to store. I set about laying them out in the cupboard, for me I wanted to get as much at the front as possible so they are easy to get to.

At the front I placed the watering jugs and tea towels and then on the riser I put the dishtabs and cleaning container. All of these items I reach for daily and so they needed to be easily accessible. 

I put my essential oils under the riser as I do not need to access them every day. At the back of the cupboard I have the spare sponges and other items that I only need to access once a month or so.

On the top of the bench I have the dishwash liquid, hand wash, dish brush and hand cream, all keep together for easy reach.

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So now this space works so well for me, everything is so easy to get to and because everything has its place it does not end up a big mess after a couple of months.

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So how is your space under the sink? Need a bit of attention? This could be a great wee project for you to kick into spring or autumn!

Have a great week my friends , and until next time...

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Planning my Potager garden

Pronounced  'Pot-Ah-jay', this french term basically means "Kitchen garden" and was seen in Monastery gardens as far back as the 1500's.  The vegetable beds are essentially laid out in a way that the produce is grown and easily accessible from the kitchen by the cook. In more modern times there are Chefs kitchens still used in large estates and some restaurants. For those keen vegetable gardeners, like myself, it is a way to have a more ornamental vegetable garden, mixing veges, flowers, fruits and herbs.

Reference: Photo by Gil Hanly from the book New Zealand Potager The Ornamental Vegetable Garden, Author Diana Anthony

Reference: Photo by Gil Hanly from the book New Zealand Potager The Ornamental Vegetable Garden, Author Diana Anthony

I was in one of my favourite Hospice shops late last year and came upon a book on Potager gardens, it was all of $3. At the time I was starting to think about what I was going to do with my large vegetable garden. As empty nesters, overproduction in my vegetable garden was becoming a norm and there is only so much you can give away to your neighbours.  It was this book, and that absolutely stunning cover picture,  that sparked my idea of downsizing my vegetable garden into a Potager garden. 

Fast forward 6 months and one major landscaping project nearly finished, I have Pete out in the vege patch measuring up and redesigning the new Potager garden....excited oh yes just a little!! 

So here is what I am thinking, of course with some, as always sensible, reality check suggestions from Pete.

Our Current Garden

At present we have three garden beds. Two are large, one being the original garden bed and one that Pete and Chris rotary hoed up for me about 4 years ago. The third is actually a small raised bed which I just grow lettuce and spinach in.

On the east side of the garden, along the fence line, I have a grapevine and a patch of strawberries.

Our current needs

As newly empty nesters, we are discovering the needs of a two person household are certainly different from a four person household. In terms of the vegetable patch this has seen a big reduction in the amount and type of produce that needs to be grown. 

To help in the layout of the new Potager garden, I thought about what changes I wanted to make to the gardens in terms of production and use, such as the veges, herbs, flowers and fruit.

Peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, zucchinis, sweet peas, beans, corn, spinach, lettuce, spring onions, chillis, asparagus, potatoes, broccoli, bok choy, cabbage were the main vegetables still to be produced.

Additional to the usual vegetables, I want to expand the berry patch. I have already got some blueberries, blackcurrants and raspberries, however I want to increase production.

I also did a lot of research looking on companion planting as I wanted to improve the use of other helpful plants to reduce pest in the garden and introduce more herbs and flowers.  Annabel Langbein, who is awesome, has a great blog on vegetable gardening and provides information on companion planting. There is also some great guides that you can download from various gardening blogs on this topic, such as this one from Tui  

Layout and structure

At this point I thought about the layout of the garden and how I could redesign it in the Potager style. As I am reducing the crop production, I can take space out of the existing beds, which I thought I would turn into paths. 

One of the biggest issues I have currently with the garden beds is that they are on a slope. Apart from a mowing strip there is no frame around the beds to keep the soil in. It's a pain really, especially on the downward slope of the beds. It seemed to perfect opportunity to fix this by making the beds into raised gardens...poor Mr P he was not that impressed when I mentioned that. Ideally I wanted the frames to be made of railway sleepers...but budget brought me back to reality so just the usual timber frames will have to do.

The plan 

The two large beds will be split into four by creating a path through the middle of each of them. The third bed, which is the only raised garden bed I have, will remain. 

So all in all there will be 5 small raised garden beds and it will look like this;

The new beds will be framed up as raised gardens and level...yeah so much easier for my gardening. The paths will be created by removing that section of the garden. The existing dirt will be used to build up the new garden beds, so I will not lose too much good soil. 

Also look to build more permanent wooden structures for the plants, like the A-frame, Teepee and Flat Trellis.

For the paths, we have leftover white stone chip from the east side garden landscaping, so will use that to lay out the paths. 

There you have it folks, the plans for my Potager garden, easy as that !!! well now all we have to do is to make it!

What do you think?  Any suggestions?  I would love to hear from you , leave comments below. 

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How I created a Command Centre

That dreaded drop zone in the house where all members of the house seem to dump all their stuff as soon as they walk in the door! I do not know any one who has not got one! and like most people I have tried all sorts of things over the years to corral the items or at least get some sense of control. Using containers, baskets, big bowls, or boxes just meant that the got filled up with all sorts of junk; lost buttons, safety pins, dead batteries, 2c and 5c and most annoying of all pens that don't work!!! However of recent times I have had some success with some changes I have made and a sort of "command centre" that I have created....

 

What is a Command Centre?

Now you may well laugh at the name command centre (yes it's a US term) however it makes sense for any one managing a busy household to have one. It is essentially an area in the home that is easy to access and has all the important stuff that the household needs on a daily basis such as:

  • Note paper
  • Pens (that work)
  • Mail 
  • School and work notices
  • Documents, flight tickets, concert tickets 
  • Keys
  • Cell phones
  • Household information 
  • Calendar
  • Bags and backpacks
  • Other important daily items
  • Coffee money

Generally these "command centres" are near where people go to when entering the house, mainly the kitchen or dining space. 

My Command Centre

We have used a an area in the kitchen bench for a few years now and I have recently streamlined it as we slowly adjust from a four to two person household.  I have kept it as simple as possible, only housing the items we do use on a daily basis. I have created three zones i) bag zone ii) mail and calendar zone iii) Central zone.

 

Bag Zone

We both use backpacks, daily, during the week and they need to be easily housed. There was no way that I could get Mr P to put away his backpack in a cupboard, and in fact it mostly got dumped on the floor by the kitchen bench. So in the end I came up with a very simple and easy solution by placing two chairs side by side on which we place our bags on when we come home. These bags always stay on these chairs. We always know where they are.  There is also just enough space to place my weekend shopper on the chair. I place my handbag in the tray in the central zone as it fits perfectly. 

Mail and Calendar Zone

Above the bag zone, on the wall, there is a calendar (my Mum makes one each year for us from her beautiful photos she takes) and a mail board where any mail that comes into the home is placed.

The central zone

Next to the bag zone and just under mail and calendar zone I have placed a wooden tray. In the wooden tray I have got a folder divider and a very small bowl.  The folder divider holds the pens, note book folder, Home folder and RnR folder. The small bowl holds keys, it's only just big enough to hold the key and no more and when the phones are not on charge they are placed here. 

This central zone houses all important items together that we use;

  • Keys 
  • Cell phone
  • Household/home folder (holds all our important information) 
  • Pens and notepad
  • RnR folder
  • My handbag

The notebook compendium I have had for a while and got it from Kikki-K . They do not seem to have it in stock anymore however still have a couple of options here

 

WHY it works

The most successful thing about this command centre is that I have developed it just for us. I thought about what are the most important things that we need to access and how can I make it easy for Mr P who still likes to dump.

As we walk in the door we naturally go over to the chairs, dump our back packs, keys and cells, sort the mail. I have created functional and obvious space that works well with how we live and does not require us to change a lot. I also believe by keeping the spaces small and specific and no room to put other items, it keeps it clear of clutter gathering. That's not to say that from time to time things do gather however it's easy to clear out the space and maintain a nice tidy area.

ADDED BONUS - COVERS FOR FOLDERS

In my previous organising and planning posts I have taken your through how I created our Household folder, Budget folder and Recipe folder. We also have a RnR folder (Rest and Recreation), Mr P is in charge of this and it is for planning our mini breaks and other such exciting adventures.

I was getting a little bored with how they looked so thought I would jazz them up a bit with new covers. It was very easy. All I used was;

I just cut the card stock to size, stuck the gold stickers on and then placed the sheet into the shelve of the folder. I also placed the same card on the spine and a plain type paper for the back. Very simple, fun and good way to take a boring folder and make it look interesting.

 

The best part of this was how I managed to match the two folders in the command centre to the notebook compendium, if you are stationery obsessed like me you will appreciate this.

So how is your "drop zone" ? Is it the entire kitchen bench top? or the kitchen table? Or just anywhere where there is clear space? Maybe try out some of these ideas I shared, or take inspiration to make it meet your needs, either way have a go and you might be surprised what you achieve.

Happy organising my friends

How I created a cocktail cabinet

I am not sure why I became obsessed with having a cocktail cabinet. Perhaps it is because they are so stylish and sophisticated and having one would make me feel the same! Hmm! appears I am still waiting!. My dream is to have a beautiful metal and glass cocktail trolley, just like the one below, now that's class that, right there!. 

Picture Credit from Mydomainehome.com

Picture Credit from Mydomainehome.com

 

Last Christmas my husband and I hosted our family. As Christmas is celebration time and summertime (yes it's Summer in Southern hemisphere at Christmas) I felt this was the perfect opportunity to create my first cocktail trolley. Now my dream was to have a beautiful cocktail trolley, however that will have to wait until the full kitchen renovations. So as with most things at present, I had to do this on a budget, ideally use as many things as possible that I already had at home. You know the old "shopping my home".

As I did not have a gorgeous trolley, I found an alternate, an old shelf that was not being used. So a Cocktail Cabinet it had to be. The shelf really needed a complete repaint and upcycle. However as I was feeling a wee bit lazy and pressed for time I figured that I would just clean it up and use it as is. Any major scratches and dents were going to be easily covered by the bottles and accessories so I ain't bovvered!!!! (you have to be Catherine Tate fans to get that reference)

"Shopping the house" only got me so much. I realised that I actually did not have a lot of other items that would be useful for the cabinet, so this meant that I needed source elsewhere. So I made a list of the items I needed;

  • Cocktail glasses
  • Crystal decanter
  • Wine cooler/ice bucket
  • Silver tray
  • Decorative accessory
  • Something to house the bottles
  • Cocktail shaker 

I did have crystal tumblers that are good for whiskey, GnT's, Rum and cokes however we did need actual cocktail glasses. 

Now, some of my readers would know that I am a keen op shopper/hospice shopper/second hand shopper/thrifter, whatever you call it. I have been for years and never fail to find some real treasures. I gave myself a challenge to get all the items from the local Hospice shops. I am lucky, here on the North Shore in Auckland, we have these great shops run by the North Shore Hospice .Their shops have great selection of goods, fantastic quality and bargain pricing. 

It took me a few months to collect the items, but hey good things take time!. The first item I found was a lovely wee pot holder, I think it was for a teapot. This I planned to use as part the accessories, thinking that I might but a nice flower vase on it or candle. I actually ended up putting this fun gold coloured Pineapple, which I got at the specials bin at The Warehouse for $5, on it. I just thought it made the desk cocktail cabinet accessory.

 

After much poking around I eventually found the right sized silver tray. I wanted to put the glasses and decanter on to a tray. As a hint, if you are after a specific item for an area always make sure that you know the measurements. It's a complete waste of money getting something that will not work in the area you want.   I also couldn't believe my luck when I came across this gorgeous little decanter, I just love love love it!!!

 

How gorgeous are these glasses. My super stylely Fashion designer sister Helen Ryan and awesome Mum gave me these glasses for Christmas. Best of all they got them from the local Hospice Shop..boom.  I just adore them, and they are lovely to drink out of, especially when full with a Brandy Alexandra.

Another gem of a find was the ice bucket or wine cooler it was just perfect and sits next to the Cocktail shaker which I have had for a while. Actually I brought that Cocktail shaker sometime ago, knowing that I was going to set up a cabinet at some point. 

 

The biggest challenge was the housing of the collection of bottles of alcohol and mixers.  I initially just placed them on the shelves in the cabinet, but I never really liked that and to me it was a bit cluttered looking and not very stylish. Any way it just had to do.......until I walked past an old 80's cane wine rack.  It was like, OMG that's perfect, so I nabbed it before anyone else swooped on it, Cane is really really popular at the moment and it does not sit around long any Hospice shop. 

I took out the middle shelf and just placed the cane rack in the middle....it could not have been a better fit! And it houses all the bottles, with a few placed on the sides. 

 

I am so pleased with how all the items came together and nothing cost more than $5 an item. Although from memory the decanter was $8 or something like that. However I have to confess that I did end up buying something new, that being the New Zealand Birds wall hanging, I thought it rounded off the whole look so well.  That's it folks my cocktail cabinet on a budget. 

 

We have enjoyed many a night enjoying the occasional cocktail and even our son has been handed on the skill of cocktail making by his Dad.  

As spring and summer is slowly making its way around the corner, maybe you could start to create your own drinks cabinet. 

What's your favourite cocktail?

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How I organized a small wardrobe

Now, for those of you that read along with me and my posts, you will have picked up that Pete and I are slowly renovating and redecorating our 1960s cedar and block home. This is a long process, so far it has been 5 years. There is a lot to do, both inside and out. There are areas of the house that are somewhat outdated and not really fit for purpose and we have to make do until they are renovated. Point in question is our bedroom wardrobe. This wardrobe is actually in our ensuite...yes that is right, our ensuite, and it is all original and I mean 1960 original which is when the house was built. 

We are making do with this area as it will be renovated at the end of the year. In the meantime I have had to work hard on the wardrobe to get it usable, one because it's in a bathroom and two because it is so small for two people. 

Before and After

Before and After

The wardrobe space is still very tight however now at least I have made the most of all space available and access to the clothes is a lot easier. So I thought I would share with you what I have done, so if you have a very small wardrobe and want to get more space, this post may be worth a read. 

The goal

In short there were two things we needed to achieve;

  1. We needed to be able to house all our clothes (except for jackets and Pete's work shoes). 
  2. We had to reduce the amount of moisture that was getting in. I mean who does that!!!! put a wardrobe into a bathroom space!!!!

The plan

Yes, you know me there needs to be a plan. This one was pretty simple, just do some research, get the equipment needed, sort it and refit it out. However there were some challenges.

The biggest challenge was how get a lot of drawer space at the same time as increasing the hanging capacity. The wardrobe had one metal rail with a wooden shelf above it. It also had wasted and difficult space in the middle of the wardrobe because of the sliding doors.

I got my google fingers going and came across an number ideas in YouTube and good old Pinterest. I found this great tutorial from Engineer your Space which gave me the idea to replace the sliding doors with curtains and create another hanging rod by moving up the existing rod and shelf.

However I still needed more storage space and thought about how I can effectively use all the space within the wardrobe.

One particularly good idea came to me was to use an old duchess that was in my daughters room (she has left home and didn't need it). A wee fact, the duchess was my original one from when I was a child, which is kind of special.  

I also brought two hanging shelves and reused a 4tier cube shelf that was no longer being used from my son's room.

The coat hangers were an important part of the plan as I needed to replace them all with the space saver coat hangers, these velvet ones from Briscoes are the best and the clothes do not slip off.

 

The Design

Firstly I cleared out everything from the wardrobe and did a full purge, both my clothes and Pete's. I am getting pretty good at decluttering and do not hang onto items that I do not use much. I have actually discovered over the years that you wear probably about 20% of your clothes 90% of the time. I am now down to that 20% and it does feel great because trying to figure out what to wear is so easy.

I am lucky with Pete, he is a Tradie so only has his work gear and pretty much just jeans, t's and shirts so his clothes don't take up a lot of space.

The next step was to map out how to set up all the rails and storage. You do need to measure each area and work out what will fit best and it took me a few goes to get this right.  It is very helpful to do this first as it really helps when you put it all together.

design_wardrobe.png

 

Putting it all together

Pete moved the clothes rod and shelf up for me, just as shown in the Engineer your Space video, link above. I purchased a piece of aluminium tubing and chain to create another rail. This allowed me to hang two tiers of clothes where before I could only hang one. 

 

I placed a 4 tier cube shelf on its side on the top shelf. This not only provided more "drawers" but also provided a space to put my shoes.

With my duchess, I did give it a bit of spruce up. As it was already a bit knocked around I just distressed it a little more by sanding it on the edges and the handles. I did a quick once over with the sander on the top and front, then just used a sealant spray which I got from the local hardware store. I have to say I was actually really pleased with how it came up. It was also really cool to be able to use my old duchess again.

I got an old cushion cover, put a little bit of padding in it and placed on the top of the duchess. This is where I put my everyday jewellery, it's perfect and easy to get to.

 

I placed the duchess in the middle of the wardrobe and put the hanging shelves above it, this was an excellent way to fill dead vertical space. 

All the longer clothes are hung to the left of the duchess and Pete's shirts and trousers.

To house his work clothes I got a basket and this sits on the floor under his hanging clothes. It works well as its stores his work trousers and tops.

A wee added bonus was the area to hang my scarf collection. I used the chain that held the second rail to wrap my scarves around and worked perfectly as a scarf hanger.

The last thing I did was to hang the curtains. I had a brain wave and came up with the idea to use shower curtains to help keep the moisture out of the wardrobe. So I got two shower curtains and essentially hung them up as you would in the shower. I did make sure that I hung them on the inside of the frame so there was full cover over the clothes. As the curtains were not actually long enough I just sewed on a piece of cotton material onto the bottom, matching colour of course. I am amazed at how well this works. It's really easy to access the clothes and they do hold out the moisture which is really great.

So there you have it, a "make do" wardrobe which houses all our clothes. It works really well and does stop me from buying clothes as there is really no room. If I want something new I have to let something go.

I am however very excited to plan my new big wall to wall wardrobe when we do the renovation and this "make do" one has given me some great learnings and ideas for the new one.

Are you happy with your wardrobe? Do you want to make some changes? Have you already got your dream wardrobe?

Love to hear from you on any wardrobes stories.

Have a great week everyone, and see you at the next post. 

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How I created an Emergency kit

Planning for an emergency was not something that many New Zealanders would have thought to do.....in the past! We are a small country with a young and moving physical environment. A narrow land mass that gets battered in the South with storms straight off the Antarctic and pounded by Tropical Cyclones in the North. So as a result of Mother Natures impact and unpredictability most Kiwis would now have some form of "go to kit".  It was the recent series of Cyclones coming through the top of the North Island that prompted me to ensure that what we had as a family would be a sufficient emergency kit.

 

Research

So I knew that the "go to kit" we had was by no means an emergency kit. It just contained some candles, matches, torches, portable radio and batteries. So I set myself the mission of creating a proper emergency kit. To be honest I was not entirely sure where to start, so I got onto Mr Google and did some research. There are a number of good blogs on this subject, especially in the US. If you are wanting to get serious, check this blog, from A Bowl Full of Lemons, which has a whole series on building an emergency preparedness station. For something much more low key, smaller, simpler and cheaper check out Doitonadime.

I actually found that the New Zealand government website getthru really helpful. There is a lot of very helpful information and all things that you need to consider in planning and preparing for an emergency. There is a great printable PDF emergency checklist that I used to help create our kit as well as complete the planning. 

Gathering the items

So having decided on creating an emergency kit which needed to support us for 3 days, I realised that I would have to source most of the items. As you can imagine this was going to potentially be a bit of a cost. Although it was important to get most items I did want to be mindful of the cost. So this is where I took the idea from Doitonadime and sourced a lot of items from my local $2 store. Now it is important to know what is ok to purchase with value in mind and those items that need to be of robust quality. 

Before I rushed off to the shops I did "shop the house" to see if I could find any items that were surplus to requirements and put it into the kit.

Items purchased

Food - All non perishable (at least 1 year to expiry) - These were all purchased from the supermarket

food_emergency_kit.png

 

  • Tuna
  • Spaghetti
  • Rice pudding
  • Fruit salad
  • Protein bars
  • Weet-bix bars
  • Can opener
  • Plastic knives, forks and spoons

Health and Safety Items

 

  • Prescription medicine
  • Face masks *
  • Hand sanitiser*
  • Toilet paper*
  • Toothbrushes*
  • Tissues*
  • First aid kit*
  • Antiseptic spray and alcoholic wipes*
  • plastic gloves*
  • Wipes*

Other items

  • Torch and Batteries*
  • Scissors*
  • lighter*
  • Matches
  • Large plastic rubbish bags*
  • Tarpaulin*
  • Playing cards*
  • Notebook and pen*
  • Water bottles

 

Apart from the odd item that I had at home, I purchased all the food from the supermarket and all those with an asterisk, I got from the local $2 shop. So it did not cost a lot to put together.

An important part of the kit is to include any prescription medication.  Try and have enough to last a week. If your prescription expires then just simply keep a record of the expiry date and swap it out prior and use it. This means that by rotating it you are not wasting the medicine. 

Storage

The best and easiest way to store all the items is in a large plastic box. These are cheap and easy to purchase from any local hardware or homeware store. Just ensure that it seals well. I purchased this Sistema storage box from the Warehouse

A good piece of advice is to place the kit in an easily accessible place. It is likely that you will forget all about it if it is shoved to the to the back of a cupboard. An open shelf in the garage or laundry is ideal. If you are tight on room you could put it at the bottom of your pantry, or in a cabinet, but again it needs to be easily accessible.

I have placed our kit on the open shelves where the luggage and backpacks are. This actually also serves a purpose as we can just grab one of the backpacks to put the items from the kit into if we can`t take the kit with us in a car. 

Records and review

A number of items will have expiry dates so it is important to ensure that you review all the contents at least yearly to ensure that the are up to date.

Also put a copy of the list and all important documents and contact details into the kit. 

Lastly just task in your diary or calendar, manual or electronic, an annual date to review all contents as well as ensuring that all the documents and contacts list are still correct. The best idea is to task in your computer diary the dates the food items are going to expire so you can use and replace them.

That's it folks, it was not a big job and not a big cost. I have to say that my mind is at ease a bit now that I have finally got the Emergency Kit sorted. 

I would love to hear about your kits, what do you have in the kit, where do you store it?, have you ever used one?