3 tips to accessorise your kitchen on a budget

So here is the situation, you just spent a small fortune on getting the kitchen of your dreams and well there is no money left over to decorate/accessorise it. Well that was our reality. The kitchen itself was all finished, however we still needed a buffet/hutch cabinet, finish up the coffee station set up and generally set up the accessories. The hutch was needed as we originally planned for the kitchen company to make a display/buffet cabinet however we had to draw a line on the costs. So I had to get my thinking cap on to figure out how I could achieve the look and function we wanted on a small budget, or rather next to no budget.

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I really needed to resolve the Hutch issue as I had everything still in boxes and I needed to access the items in the boxes on a daily basis. Both Pete and I had an idea of what would look good in the space but we were finding it hard to actually find the "perfect" cabinet. At first we were thinking a long low buffet in white, like this one from Farmers , obviously not in our price range at that point.  Even on special it was too pricy and Pete was not a big fan of it. I also realised that I really want space to display some of my tea sets and other collections. This meant that we were more likely to have to source a hutch/cabinet and that it would probably have to be second hand. 

TIP # 1  - Thrift Shopping

Yip that's the first tip !!! Go hunting in those great secondhand/preloved/hospice shops for what you are looking for.  As some of my followers would know I am a bit of a thrift shopper. I have found some real gems over the years, especially from Hospice shops, and here on the North Shore in Auckland , the North Shore Hospice shops are fantastic. So our plan was to go looking in our favourite ones and also check out  Trade Me , using Watch List to flag and track items that we were interested in. I was planning on getting a hutch/cabinet and repainting using chalk paint. 

Just a bit of advice at this point..... you do need to be patient Thrift shopping , it can take a while to find what you are after. It's good to do some research on what the best shops are for what you want, as some specialise in clothes, others books or furniture. Also you really need to be going into these shops regularly as items come in and out very quickly and they are all one offs, in other words you can't dilly dally round with making your decision, if you see something grab it!. Last bit of advice, be really clear with what you want, function and size most important so know your measurements. This also ensures that you don't distract yourself with other items you see which are like "that's cool but it is not practical and I don't need it" . Case in point is the fabulous "Girl with the Pearl Earring" picture below which I picked up for $2....totally not looking for it ...but what a find...I just love her!

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After a few disheartening trips I thought that we would never find what we needed.  I was happy to repaint, put new hardware on, so open to old stuff that just needed a bit of a jazz up! I decided to check out a store that I always noticed but had never been in, it was a local used furniture store called Glenfield furniture new & used . Initially I didnt really see anything I thought useful, however I then noticed the colour.  There was a large grey wall cabinet, which was placed behind a while lot of other pieces, so I could only see a small part of it. The colour jumped out at me as it was almost exactly the same as the kitchen cabinets. On closer inspection it was actually an office cabinet made by McGreals here in Auckland. My first reaction was, no that's not going to work! However the size and the functionality were actually perfect, not to mention the colour. (bonus no repainting) and it was a great quality cabinet. So I started to think may be it could work as a hutch. It even had silver hardware like the kitchen cabinets. The guy at the shop was a bit surprised that I was thinking of using it in the Kitchen, however once I showed him the space and the kitchen he could see it working. So here in lies a lesson, always be open to ideas and seeing things in different ways, you never know what you might end up with. And best of all it was only $240!. 

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At the same time as looking for the Hutch I was looking for accessories for the coffee station area. The machines were all in place so we just wanted to get a small floating shelf above the machines and essentially have a coffee themed area.  A bit like the office cabinet discovery, I walked into the local Hospice shop and there they were. A framed pair of pictures of Paris cafes scenes and the colour tones were perfect. Not only that but the pictures were narrow and long which were perfect for where they were to be hung. $15 each... thank you! So my coffee station got a Parisian theme to it...very apt I thought. The floating shelf was actually new, just purchased from the local Bunnings store, not a huge cost thank goodness. 

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The "dressing" of the Hutch and coffee station shelf were the last step in my accessorising and so this takes me to tip # 2

TIP # 2 - Shopping the home

Do not go and buy a whole lot of accessories without checking out what you can use from your home. For my hutch accessories I just used things that I had tucked away but meant a lot as well as things that I use regularly. I am sure that we have all got things like this about the house which you can use. I used my two tea sets, one was Pete`s Mums, given to her by her husband (Pete's Dad). which he got from Japan as he worked in Japan just after the end of WWII to help the rebuild. The other one is the tea set my Mum was given by her employers when she left work to get married. Yip it was only a generation ago that women were expected to finish work when they got married! I also have some of my favourite tea pots that I have been given over the years which I got out. Added to this was my collection of silverware that I had around the place, again bringing them together they make great accessories. 

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I did have a cake stand and 2 tiered stand that I was going to donate as the colour was old fashioned. So rather than giving them away, I just spray painted them white and used them to help display my items in the Hutch. I was tickled pink with how they can out. 

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Over in the coffee station area on the shelf I just put up my tea cup and saucer and pots that I use regularly as well as some coffee kit. This is what I would refer to as on hand accessories!!

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The last thing I did was to create a touch of greenery by just rehousing existing plants that I had in the house.

TIP # 3 - Groupings

This last tip is more of a styling tip and one that is not new by any means. However when you have limitations on accessories and budget this can be a good one to try in order to create "style".   It's just about taking like items and housing them together. So in my case I have grouped by colour and by use. 

  • Hutch - used white and blue colours with silver accents plus grouped like objects being tea pots, tea cups, silverware
  • Coffee Station - grouped by colour and use. All coffee and tea pots together
  • Chopping boards - grouped all wooden chopping boards together and corralled them into a round tray, adding useful items like seasoning grinders and dressings 
  • Oils and Utensils - all oils and vinegars together and all the cooking utensils in a jug by the hob

Overall the accessories in the kitchen are not actually for display only they are actually for daily use but housed in a way that creates a sense of style to the kitchen and is therefore a great way to accessorise.

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There you have it! My 3 tips, which you can pretty well apply to any aspect of your home, if you are wanting to accessorise and style it up a bit. I hope you enjoyed reading this, and maybe got a few ideas on other options for accessories other than buying new. 

The  other important thing to be aware of is the low foot print you create by simply upcycling something or just reusing something that you already have. Just think of the all the packing plastic you have saved by not buying something new which comes covered in way too much packaging. 

Before I go, if you are decorating/accessorising your shelves, here is a great tip...always accessorise in 3's and at different heights.

Happy accessorising and thrift shopping everyone

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P.S Stay tuned for my next post as I will be taking you through the full Kitchen reveal...exciting. To make sure you don't miss it, just sign up to my newsletter , pop your details below, which gives me consent to allow me to email you with all the latest from Tidying with Tania

 

 

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How I use my Filofax as an On The Go Planner and wallet

I love my Franklin Covey A5 Planner, however it's not the smallest of planners. So sometimes transportation can be an issue. Any passionate planner addict knows that your planner goes with you pretty much everywhere. During my working week  it comes with me in my work bag and that's all good. Come the weekend I ditch my work bag and use my weekender or shopper, which are a lot smaller.  Most of our weekends, at the moment, are spent at the Bunnings/Mitre 10 (Hardware store), so taking a A5 planner with me is not really practical. Added to this is my somewhat endless frustration of hunting for the pen and lists in my bag.....yep I can't always be perfectly organised.

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So what's the problem?

When we are out and about in the weekends, I normally only have my keys, wallet, pen and lists...never ending list of dam chores!, which are normally in a notebook.  I would find myself carrying the notebook , wallet , phone, pen and keys. Now just to be clear, I do also use notes on my phone, but actually find it easier with a notebook, yep I`m a bit old school!  The other challenge is that we are cash based, which means that we use cash. (it's a very effective way to stay on budget, check out Dave Ramsey method if you want to know more). I thought ok there must be a better way to "carry" all this stuff, especially in the weekends. Ideally what I wanted was a wallet that could actually house everything, so all I needed when I went out was my wallet and keys.

Research/Options

While thinking about solutions,  I struck on the idea of a planner wallet. Well you guessed it, it turns out that it is a real thing. I got onto Pinterest and You tube and uncovered a treasure trove of "planner wallets" or "on the go planners". In my many hours of research I worked out that planner wallets were actually planners that were being used as wallets. These were normally pocket sized planners (the really tiny planners). The on the go planners were actual wallets that had planners in them, yep they are different. 

The pocket planners, like this Filofax leather Malden, very cute, are popular as wallets. However this was not really going to work for me because I needed to house my cash envelopes, and in reality I didn't need an actual planner as such more a "notebook"

Solution

Upon doing further research I came across actual wallets with small planners in them, as opposed to Planners used as wallets...get the difference!. These seemed to be referred to as "on the go planners" and Filofax appeared to have some good options. I thought about what I really needed in the wallet to help me deciding on the best style;

  • pen loop 
  • notepages/calender/to do list
  • zip section for change
  • card holders
  • several compartments for receipts and dollar notes
  • or ability to hold cash envelopes
  • Somewhere to house the iphone

It might seem a bit silly listing out these requirements, but I find it really helpful when trying to decide on the best options when there is a lot of choice. So if you are ever overwhelmed by too much choice, try making a list of your needs , it might help.

Now that I got my requirements sorted, I was fairly quickly able to identify the best choice for me......drum roll please! 

The Filofax Saffiano compact organiser was the perfect solution, ticked off all my requirements. Best of all I could get it in my favourite colour, which we know is the most important thing of all. So Amazon took my money and I waited.

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My Set up

Finally the Amazon box arrived and I "unboxed it" no I didn't do an unboxing video! not really that exciting.!

Now came the fun part, the set up. There is just the right amount of card slots for my money cards, loyality cards etc ( I had already sussed that out when I ordered it). The zipped pocket is where I hold our weekly grocery and coffee cash and the compartment in front holds all the receipts. On this side I have my four most used cards, Visa Debit, One card (petrol and supermarket), Life Pharmacy and Fly Buys reward cards. The other side has four different store reward cards, just the main ones I tend to use. The front compartment has my coffee and dry cleaning cards. So the "wallet" part of the Saffiano was perfect. 

The "planner" part is actually a removable ring planner and many people just remove it put in a note book. I kept the "planner" in but changed the set up to suit me and how I wanted to use it.

As I was going to be using the wallet as the on the go planner mainly in the weekends, I thought about what sections would be really useful for me. I decided on 5 sections; 

  • To do - my "out and about" to do list
  • Shopping - grocery lists for our weekly shop
  • Inbox - bright ideas, other things that will need your attention at some point
  • notes - mainly a place to capture any ideas/thoughts/solutions on things as I am out and about. mainly measurements for the visits to Bunnings/Mitre10.
  • Calendar - monthly view only of the remaining part of 2018.

I took some existing ruled note pages, personal sized, that I had in my existing planner supplies as the inserts and made up my own dividers. I made the dividers out of card stock, cut them to size and laminated them. I used Sunday Morning from Craft Smith as I thought it was the perfect theme for this weekend "on the go planner", and the colours matched perfectly.

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My phone slots nicely into the side pocket on the outside of the wallet so I don't need to open it to get to my phone.

The final test was ensuring that the cash envelopes fitted perfectly, which they did and boom I had my perfect "on the go planner" 

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It's been a great purchase and the perfect solution to my frustrations. The best thing and what I love most is having the shopping list's all in one, it's so good when doing the shopping with a list. 

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If you want to see other ideas for planner wallets, just check out my Pinterest Planners board .

So how is your wallet set up? Is it working for you?, Do you use a planner in your wallet? Leave a comment below as I`d love to hear from you.

Have fun shopping !!!!

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2 routines to master your day, feel good and achieve your goals

I often get asked "How do you fit everything in?" "You must be so busy" My reply is always the same "routine, routine,routine" For as long as I can remember I have had daily routines, blame it on my Mum. She had us in routines right from day one, and well I did the same with my kiddies, maybe that's why they started sleeping through the night at 6 weeks, both of them. Anyway back to the point, routines can have some real benefits, like giving you more precious time to do what you love to do, achieving your goals and you feel good because you are getting things done!

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It`s probably fair to say that everyone has some type of routine in their life. Most of us just see a routine as a function or a need, like brushing your teeth, having a shower or doing #2's at the same time everyday!!!!! however not everyone uses routines as a way to save time and achieve your goals. Initially, that's how I saw routines too, however over the years I have noticed some benefits of my routines and worked on making a more conscious effort to develop really effective routines.

When the kids were little and we were in that morning madness phase of getting everyone out the door, that was when I really kicked routine into top gear. Having routines meant that we all knew what we had to do and everything was sorted and ready to go, no running around madly trying to find things and do last minute homework or assignments in the car, or dashing into the shop for lunches. The biggest benefit for everyone was that day always started pretty calm and on time. Ok we were human and sometimes things did go to the dogs!! but not that often.

So now as a midlifer and emptynester my routines are different and the same. I still have to get up and get ready and still have to clean the house!!! However I have more me time so I have been able to add some self care and development routines into my life that is really paying off and certainly helping me to achieve my goals and "fit everything in".

Achieving your goals is actually done by taking small steps regularly, action this, done , on to the next action. A good example is a goal to get fit and lose weight, achieved by taking small actions everyday , like 30 minute exercise and a morning smoothie. So in reality, to achieve your goals you need to "master your day", well that's what I think. By mastering your day everyday you achieve your goals! And that's where the routines come in.  Developing useful and effective routines in the morning and evening can help you to achieve these goals. The best way to illustrate this is for me to take you through my morning and evening routines.

My Morning Routine

Alarm goes off at 5am, weekdays and 7am in the weekends. This is an hour earlier than I need to be up because I use this time to focus my mind, exercise and learn. Some of you may be familiar with the book The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod . I follow a very similar approach, so my first 60 minutes of the day looks like this;

  • Meditation - 10 mins
  • Affirmations and visualisation - 20 mins
  • Exercise (yoga) - 10 mins
  • Readings and journal - 20 mins

I use a couple of really good apps that have free programmes plus paid subscriber programmes. I just access the free ones which are just perfect for me at this stage.  Calm is a great meditation app and has got great reviews and awards. There is a really good 7 day course for free that introduces you to meditation, totally recommend you doing it.  I now just us the "timed meditation", 10 mins and it always ends with a lovely quote to get your day started.   

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Exercise has always been a big part of my life. I ran for a number of years, however being a long lanky thing I am not really designed for it and after a number of calf muscle blow outs, had to stop. Mrs B (awesome yoga guru) put me onto Yoga and I have not looked back, now incorporating it into my daily routine, both morning and evening. I use Asana Rebel app again as with Calm I use the free programmes which I find great. I did pay for a subscription which gives you the ability to build your own exercise programme and even gives you a coach. If you need help with motivation, I would recommend getting the paid subscription, it's a nominal monthly fee. The other point of note is that I actually took a 10 week Yoga beginners course which I again would strongly recommend. I think that without knowledge of Yoga poses you may not get the full benefit.  

So by 5:40am, I am warmed up and energised with a clear and calm mind and good focus for the day. I then go and make myself a cup of tea and do my readings and journal which actually is my learning time. I listen to podcasts of Webinars that are relevant to what I want to learn more about. Spotify has great podcasts, currently listening to Simple Pin Media which has fantastic tips and information for bloggers on how to use Pinterest to grow your blog business. I also have the Library app called Libby where I loan audio books from our local Auckland library, Getting Things Done by David Allen is on my playlist at present. (Totally buy the book, there is a reason it's a top seller). I always get some gems of learnings and actions to take from my "readings" in the morning which I follow through on and ensure that I action. 

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At 6am I'm good to go and start to get ready for the day and at 7am am out the door with Smoothie in hand and jump on the bus.

Now I really need to be honest here, I was never one that thought a lot about meditation, affirmations etc, in fact always thought it was a bit tree huggish!. However after doing some research into personal development I started to look into this more and I have been absolutely blown away by what a difference this has made for me. So for me the big benefits are the ability for me to be really focused on what I need and want to achieve, the commitment level and motivation I need to achieve it, the energy and passion and how important looking after myself is in order to achieve my goals. I do also feel a lot calmer and focused on what I have to do today, my mind is not a muddle of "to do's". I certainly feel fresh and alive in the mornings than being half asleep!

My evening routine

Unlike my morning routine, my evening one is spread out over the evening and some have time frames and others are more tasks/actions that I need to do every night. Here is my evening routine;

  • Yoga - 30 mins 
  • Tea together at the table
  • Tidying with Tania work - 1-2hours
  • Zone Cleaning - 15 mins
  • Kitchen cleaning  - 15 mins 
  • Lunch preparation
  • Clothes out for morning
  • Reflection and planning

The first thing I do when I get home...well after me and Pete have our wee hello hug and kiss, I get my yoga gear on and do a 30 min session.  It is normally a pretty sweat inducing session and really gives me great energy to get going again at the end of the day. 

Pete and I also always sit down at the table and have tea together and catch on the day and ourselves and family. That's probably one the most important routines that we have always done, before we have kids, while the kids were at home and again now they are gone. 

My cleaning routine is easy as I have a regular one that I use which is based on zone cleaning. I am just modifying it as the completed renovations have changed what I need to be cleaning. If you want to get an idea of my cleaning routine check it out here . I would also recommend that you check out my Home Cleaning Pinterest board which has lots of great information on home made cleaners and cleaning routines. 

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My kitchen cleaning just means that the last thing I do at night is clean down the counter tops and make sure everything is cleared away. I also give the floor a quick once over with the microfibre cloth. As I do this every night it means I do not need to  big weekly clean of the kitchen as it is always clean. I also like to put my essential oil diffusers on, one in the kitchen to get rid of the cooking smells and one in the lounge.....Pete calls them "stink pots" yep he is a Southern man, so does not always appreciate the way of lovely smells from essential oils. 

Making my lunch and getting my clothes out the night before just takes away the rush and hassle of making decisions in the morning. You need to do this, it makes such a difference to the morning. 

Once in bed I review my day, checking what I have achieved and plan out my actions for the next day, and just like the start of the day, I do this with a cup of tea....ohhh bliss. then my head hits the pillow and I`m out for the count.

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Reflecting on achievements, no matter how small are motivational, for me any way, even if it's that huge pile of washing that's been sitting on the couch forever! Sometimes things occur during the day and you don't get everything done so it's a good time to plan and work out realistically when you can do it.  By just taking a few minutes to do this makes a huge difference to the mind and how rested it feels. I find it does really help me in getting a good sleep.

Making it a Habit

My routines are now habits so I don't really think of them as anything other than a part of my day. However I do know that it's because I have these routines that I can achieve so much in my day. So like the saying goes...I am what I repeatedly do.

So how do you get into a habit of doing your routine everyday, morning and night? Well I think it just comes down to commitment. How committed do you want to be?  What do you really want to achieve or change? 

Something that I do find helpful and it might seem a bit silly, but it does work, is a habit tracker.  I use these when I am adding or changing routines. The research says that it takes 21 days to make or break a habit, so tracking the routine everyday for at least 21 day gives you a good chance at turning your routine into a habit.  

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To help you with tracking your morning and evening routines I have created a habit tracker. Yep no excuses now. Just pop your details below and the Free Habit tracker printable will be winging it's way to you.

Free Habit Tracker

Habit tracker convertkit

A simple and easy to use tracker to help you turn your routines into habits

We won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time. Powered by ConvertKit

 

Master my day

So by simply doing my routines every day I am actually achieving my goals, because every day I take another action and another step closer to my goals. This makes me the Master of my day and not the day being the master of me! 

I'd love to hear from you, are you trying to achieve some goals, or simple wanting a less chaotic day. Think about trying a routine, even a few small actions, list them in the habit tracker and give it a go, remember it only takes 21 days!

Happy habit making everyone

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How to clean your tile and glass shower with DIY cleaners

Have I told you how much I am in love with my newly renovated master bath/ensuite and guest bathroom! Pete and I love the simple design and understated style. I love how easy it is to keep sparkling clean and looking new. In fact, the ease of cleaning and maintenance was an important feature in the design. As a paid cleaner, in my younger days and cleaning up behind my kids I know what a real pain it is to clean bathrooms. 

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Both showers in the master bath/ensuite and guest bathroom are the same in design. Our master bath/ensuite is what is referred to as wall to wall. In other words the shower runs along the full width of the end of the bathroom, having one wall as the shower end and the other wall as the end of the shower.  The side of the shower is one piece of glass which is just over a metre long. It gives the shower a nice open feeling while containing the water.  It is a very simple design and best of all there is no doors and therefore no joins and metal parts which can get grimy and caked in soap scum and difficult to clean. 

The biggest battle with keeping a tile and glass shower clean is the build up of soap scum on the glass and in the grout of the tiles. Also depending on the colour and texture of your tiles, soap scum can easily show up on the tiles themselves, especially if you have dark tiles. I recall my gorgeous sis from helenryan eBoutique (shameless plug here, check out her bags... like OMG) renovated her bathroom and got black slate tiles in the shower and said "never again" . It was a complete nightmare to try and keep the film of soap scum from showing on the tiles.

My mission was to work out how to ensue with the soap scum battle and win while using natural home made cleaners. As my readers would know, for a few years now I have fully converted to home made natural cleaners and am loving them and totally impressed with how effective they are. If you want to read about how I set up my cleaning kit check out my post here .

Therefore it was important for me to work out what the best tactic would be for tiles and glass shower, using home made natural cleaners. So bring on Pinterest! I got my fingers googling and got some great ideas, (follow me on my Pinterest page, Home Cleaning

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The first thing I learnt was that I have to change my shower cleaning routine. In the past I would clean the bathroom showers once a week. The old showers were...really freeking old...and cubs so not the easiest to keep clean. I hated...hated the weekly scrub fest that would have to take place. So what my Pinterest research concluded was that a daily cleaning routine would be the best approach. I figured out that I would need to have a "kit" of sorts in the bathroom as I would need to access it daily...but what to put in the kit? Then I came across this excellent post from Becky at  Clean Mama. I have followed her for a while and love all the fantastic and helpful information that she provides, do check her out. Anyway this particular post had everything that I wanted to know and gave me the inspiration to come up with my "kit"....so big thanks Becky @ Clean Mama

So what is in my kit?

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The Cleaners

My general cleaner - this is my all purpose general cleaner that I use pretty much for all cleaning in the home.

  • 50/50 White vingear and water 

Seriously how simple is that! I already keep a bottle in my kitchen, laundry and cleaning kit so I simply made up two more for the bathroom "kits" . This cleaner is what I use to clean the shower glass and shelves and the tap and shower faucets.

The liquid is used to help clean the tiles and grout and I put it into the "scrubber"

And that's it folks!

The Equipment

  • Shower squeegee
  • Sponge
  • Scrubber/sponge thingy which holds the dish liquid
  • Container/kit
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You can pick up these products at your local supermarket or just get them online.

The spray bottles have been a challenge to find. I originally found some in the Japanese $2 dollar store, however I have not been able to find them again. Even better are these glass bottles which I will be getting to replace the plastic ones. 

The Daily Cleaning Routine

Now just to clarify, I do this when I have my daily shower. Cleaning the shower is sooooo much easier when you are actually having a shower!!! That's my one tip of the day.

I have got the daily shower cleaning routine down to three steps and a total of 1-2mins...5mins maybe max which I do at the end of my shower.

Step 1 - The scrub down

Not you! the shower!  Take the scrubber (with the dish liquid) and simply scrub around the high use area of the tiles. This would be around the bottom third of the wall tiles under the shower facet and the side wall as well as the tile floor area around the drain and where you stand. 

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Make sure that you give the tiles a good once over and ensure that you scrub into the grout. This does not need to be a full on scrub fest, remember you do this daily so it only needs to be a quick once over to stop the soap build up. 

The just take the shower head and rinse! 

Step 2 - The Spray and wipe

Take the general cleaner and spray the glass, and faucets.

Then wait....do not rush in and wipe off. The secret to vinegar and water cleaner is to wait to allow the cleaner, to what I call "stew" , this ensures that it activates with the surface to lossen the dirt. 

I take the sponge and go over the glass and faucets to ensure the "scum" is actually moved off the surface. If you just use a squeegee you will not move the scum off the surface, you just take the water off.

Then I get the squeegee and wipe down the glass. I also use the squeegee to move any excess water off the tiles into the drain.

Step 3 - The Look

Step out of your shower and enjoy the view of a beautiful clean shower!!!

As I said this should only take you a max of 5mins, if that! And you are done. 

I have found by doing this each time I have a shower there is no need for me to do any other "shower cleaning" so no more weekly big scrubbing jobs.  I have actually freed up a lot of my weekly cleaning routine by doing this...bonus!

Just a note to ensure that you do replace the sponges when they get a bit old and dirty, atleast once a month. Check out the Scotch-Brite one as it comes with replacement heads.

The guest bathroom

I have set up a similar shower cleaning kit for the guest bathroom. The main difference is that I only use this when we have a guest using the bathroom.

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So when we do have a guest I just do the same 3 steps as above. Of course I wait until the guest has left the bathroom! The only difference is that I use cloths instead of the sponge and place these in the wash after each use. This is because I keep the cleaning kit in the cabinet as I don't want my guest to see the kit and I don't want a wet sponge sitting in the kit in the cabinet.

The Disguise

To be honest I really hate seeing cleaning stuff out in the shower area, however as I need to access the kit daily in our master bath/ensuite, it really does need to be in the shower.  However I figured a way to disguise it, or rather make it less obvious.

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Thanks to the room we have in the shower I have placed a stool at the end with a couple of pot plants, which was in part how I wanted to style the ensuite anyway. It just so happened that I could put the "kit" in underneath the back of the stool so it's tucked nicely out of view but easy to access at the same time. 

There you have it, my 3 step daily shower cleaning routine with hame made natural cleaners all done in under 5 mins.

I will be bringing you an update on the kitchen cleaning, as with the bathrooms, it is newly renovated and I have set up a new cleaning routine as well.

I hope you found this post useful in some way.  Let me know what you think and if you have any cleaning hacks...always keen on those.

Here is a FREE cheat sheet with the details on how to make and use these cleaners which you can keep and have on hand...no excuse now not to be cleaning!

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Stay clean!!! until next time

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Reviewing my 2018 goals - My four simple steps to stay focused

Ok so the key to achieving your goals is what is commonly referred to as 'GTD', (getting things done). This term is was phrased by David Allen and his best selling book Getting Things Done. At the start of this year, along with many others, we set up our goals for 2018. I also did the same for "Tidying with Tania" working out what goals I wanted to achieve this year.  I also set up my planners for 2018 , which for me are an essential tool in achieving my goals, plus I just love love planners! It's all well and good to have these great goals however you actually need to roll up your shelves and get on with achieving them. That my friends is the biggest challenge with goals ...the doing! To help me to focus on the goals and achieving them, I do a simply review or stocktake. So how am I going? 

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You may ask "Is it not too early in the year to see how we are going?"

It is the end of the first quarter of the calendar year, and time goes quickly, so checking in now can give you enough time to make any changes to ensure you can still achieve your goals by end of the year. In fact I would recommend checking in every month or at least every quarter (three months).

We don't want to make this a big deal so I ask myself four simple questions;

  1. Are the goals you set still appropriate? 
  2. What actions have you taken to achieve these goals? What worked? What didn't?
  3. What do you need to do to maintain your progress?
  4. What do you need to do to get back on track?

Are the goals you set still appropriate? 

This is pretty straight forward, simply look at the goals that you have set yourself and review them.  Now the big point here is not to change them just because they may seem too hard or you have lost focus. Just ask yourself do you still want to achieve these goals?.  It may be that you are not sure how to go about achieving the goal, again challenge yourself on that because to reach goals we sometimes need to get out of our comfort zone. You can read below how I have been working through that challenge myself.

It may be that the goal simply needs to be restated, e.g "run a half marathon", perhaps a more reachable goal could be to be "running at least 2 times a week between 5 and 10km by the end of 2018" . The latter is more specific and time framed and likely to be more achievable.

The other point to note is that you may have set yourself too many goals for the year. Therefore it becomes all a bit overwhelming. If this is the case then be kind to yourself and get rid of some or more them onto another year. I reckon three is plenty. 

There are also times where life events can turn our world upside down and so our initial goals we set are totally unachievable, no longer important or relevant. I think it's important to simply just acknowledge that and either put them on hold or get rid of them entirely. It's ok to let goals go and not feel guilty about it.

Then there are those goals that you have already achieved!  Big hug to you and well done you. Make sure that you go ahead and celebrate. Perhaps consider creating an new goal and maybe one that is more challenging! 

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In reviewing our 2018 goals, all three are all still important to us so we will keep them, so no changes to these for us.  I am however afraid that the "Project free Year" will be very hard to achieve. But that's what I would call a challenge goal for us!

What actions have you taken to achieve these goals? What worked? What didn't?

This is where you need to be honest. For us it has been a struggle for our Health & Wellbeing goal. We wanted to ensure that we had at least one day away a month and also complete a long walk/tramp once a month. However the first 3 months of this year has been full on renovations, and Pete's unplanned trip to China changed this somewhat. It certainly meant that he got some RnR, well sort of as travelling through China was not always restful. In the end we both still have not really rested and taken time out so far this year. 

Our Financial and Project Free year goals, again have been challenging due to the renovations. Certainly not maintained budget and there have been a number of small projects and extra things that Pete and I have had to do as part of the renovations. Geezzzz it's been an exhausting few months really!

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The learnings here is that we could have been more realistic about when we could start working on our goals.

It's also good to consider actions you did take that worked, so going forward you can continue to focus on those actions (things you did) that worked. One of the helpful things in terms of achieving goals and completing actions this year has been the use of my planners. My previous post detailed how I set these up and they have certainly been working well, particularly for my Tidying with Tania goals.

What do you need to do to maintain your progress?

So you have actually made some progress towards your goals. This questions helps us to focus on our motivation to ensure that we don't slow down on progress or get into a rut, take the foot of the peddle etc.

For me, I have worked hard on some of my actions that I need to do to achieve my Tidying with Tania goals, however I feel that I am losing the "energy", focus , mojo! because of what it takes for me to do them. This question helps me to go back to my motivation, my Why! I have thought about this and come up with two actions that I will do to help me maintain my progress.

  1. Put my vision board up in my office and have my motivation quotes visible
  2. Be more specific with the tasks that I need to action, break things down into more achievable tasks and spread them out over a longer period.

What do you need to do to get back on track?

Firstly if you are tracking well and you are happy with your progress towards your goals then carry on doing what your doing because it's clearly working.

However if, like Pete and I, you are still struggling this is where you need to make some changes. The key changes we are making is to break down the actual task and actions that we need to do and time frame them. This is a key element of successful planning and one that we certainly failed to do. To help guide you in this here is an simple example of the actions we are doing now in order to achieve our Health and Wellbeing goal.

  • Mark on the calendar and in the planner the chosen day per month - do this for each of the remaining months of the year. Therefore we now know in advance what day we will have away each month.
  • Add into my monthly planning review to decide on our walk and where we will travel too for the next month and add this into my monthly and weekly planning list.
  • Allocate an hour per month for research and planning

I am also doing a similar approach for my goals for Tidying with Tania. I have broken the goals down into actions per month, quarter and 6 months, however they are too general and I am having trouble with some in not knowing where to start. Therefore I am have done some research and reading and learning about functional planning. I will be turning these goals into projects and breaking them down into actions then detailing these actions into specific tasks. These will then be allocated out over corresponding months and weeks. I will be ensuring that I only allocate tasks that I will actually be able to achieve over a given month and week.  Undertaking weekly and monthly reviews of progress is important to help me to track my progress. It's the old "eating an elephant one bite at a time" 

One of the things that I will be doing is reading the Getting Things Done book by David Allen. I have an understanding and knowledge of GTD however never actually read the book so there is no time like the present. 

Another change I have made in the planner space, is using a filofax planner as an on the go wallet!  Stay tuned for an upcoming post on how I set this up and how I am using it.

I hope this overview of how I review my goals has helped you with your 2018 goals. I would love to hear how you are going with your goals. 

To help you to review your goals, I have created a simple and free check sheet for your to use, so what are you waiting for! Happy goal getting!

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How to clean ceiling fans with Baking soda & Vinegar

So our renovations started in early December 2017 and I naively thought that after all the months of planning we could just sit back and let the builder and tradies do their thing and I could finally relax...well what was I thinking! The list of to do's just keep going and a lot of small things that we just didn't think of, like removing and cleaning the ceiling fans because the ceiling was being skimmed. So this post takes you through how Pete and I set about cleaning these very filthy things. And because we try to avoid chemical cleaners we only used baking soda and vinegar and they came up a treat. 

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Equipment 

This is just the list of things that we used and I would recommend having if you are going to do the same.

  • Toothbrush 
  • Lid or small bowl
  • Bucket
  • Light dishwashing liquid soap
  • Old rags or cleaning cloths
  • Water and Vinegar spray ( see my general cleaner recipe
  • Ladder
  • Screwdriver
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Preparation 

This is a bit like stating the obvious, however I do need to point out that you need to take the ceiling fan down from the ceiling!. Make sure that you use a ladder, safely, and turn off the power supply as well. You don't want to chop your head off by accidentally setting off the fan while removing it. 

Most ceiling fans can be disassembled by simply unscrewing the screws. We just removed each fan from the centre mechanism. Pete removed the metal cap that went over the motor so we could clean it easier. In the end we had the ceiling fan broken into six parts;

  • 4 fans
  • Central mechanism
  • Metal cap
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Then it was just a matter of getting stuck in and cleaning!

Cleaning

Firstly we filled up the bucket with warm soapy water, light dishwash liquid. We use Ecostore dishwashing liquid

Then I mixed up a paste of baking soda and my general cleaner. I just used the baking soda jar lid. You could use a small bowl instead.

I took each piece and sprayed them first with my general cleaner, then took my toothbrush and used it to spread the "paste" around. Using the toothbrush as a scrubber I was able to scrub all the surfaces and the difficult to get to areas. Pete used the bucket with soapy water to clean off after scrubbing and then simply wiped the surfaces down with a dry clean cloth. Some of the surfaces needed a bit of extra elbow grease (a good hard scrub). Pete and I were really pleased with how well they came up! Almost new looking. 

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The cleaning did not change the slight yellowing of the paint and surface, that is simply an age issue, however by being sparkling clean they looked so much better.

All we had to do was to ensure they dried off well and reassemble the parts, and Bob's your Uncle! it's all done.

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A couple of pointers, as the ceiling fans were of an older type, each fan had a centre cane laminate. To clean this I did just as described above, however I made sure that I used a nice soft toothbrush. This meant that there was no damage to the laminate.

So there you have it, a simple and effective, non chemical way to clean your ceiling fans.

If you want to get more ideas and resources on cleaning in the home just check out my Pinterest page and don't forget to follow me so you can see all the latest information that I add.

Well that's it my friends, just short and simply post this time but hopefully of some use and maybe its got you inspired to go clean whatever it is that you have been saying "oh I must clean that sometime" 

Take care and stay safe my friends

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Our renovation journey, update and tips to survive it!

After just three months we are finally coming to the end of our renovation journey. I can't believe that it was back in November 2017 that I posted about our renovation plans. As everything comes together and the initial dream and planning all comes to life, you figure out if you have made the right decisions!!!! That's a bit scary and combined with the hustle and bustle on site to get the renovations over the line it's been a tiny bit stressful.

To be honest over the past week, there were some moments that were kind of crazy, however looking back, individually they were not really big issues, it was more that they all collided at the same time. A lot of last minute decisions and issues to get sorted in order to get the job completed;

  • Bathroom cabinets had faults which caused issues with fitting in and needed to deal with the manufacturer
  • Not enough spray paint to finish the stair way railings
  • Plumbing challenges in the kitchen
  • Grouting colours to decide
  • Bathroom mirror decisions
  • Shifting furniture for the carpet laying

Now these don't seem a lot but when your working full time while trying to deal with suppliers and your builder and your husband is away overseas it gets a bit much...oh yeah and you hear from your husband and daughter that their luggage has been lost between Melbourne and Hong Kong! it can get a tad stressful. And to top it all off having to pay the final instalments to the builder and painter....with the back account growning...eeek

You can see how renovation programmes make good TV....wow I`d be the ultimate drama Queen and everyone would be laughing at me...I'd be like... "I just can't deal with this anymore" followed by tears of course.

So how far have we come in our journey? The end is in sight and there are only a few things in each area that need finishing off, probably a couple of weeks work left.

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Kitchen

Bench top pantry, subway tile splash back and shaker style cabinets

Kitchen to do list

  • Fit in gas cooktop burner and connect the gas
  • Plumb in the fridge
  • Place kick boards
  • Plumb in the coffee machine
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Guest Bathroom

Tiled shower with glass sides

Guest bathroom do list

  • Installation of the glass shower walls
  • Installation of the mirrors and the lights
  • Installation of the glass shower shelves
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Ensuite

Tiled shower, wall hung cabinet and toilet

Ensuite to do list

  • Installation of the glass shower walls
  • Installation of the mirrors and the lights
  • Installation of the glass shower shelves
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Hallway

Linen cupboard and hand rail

Other stuff to do list

  • Hang all the doors
  • Stain the wooden rails on the stairs
  • Installation of the new ceiling fan
  • Fit off the switches in the bedrooms, lounge and hallway
  • Build the internal storage system for the master wardrobe
  • Hang the light shades and wall lights 

While writing this post I reflected on how much the renovation process can be exhausting both physically and emotionally. On the whole I think that Pete and I have managed to survive intact through this big renovation project. So what were our survival tactics! Luck probably...but actually I think good communication was the most important, followed by good budget management by managing the variances and lastly learning to be patient! Yep so these would be my top three tips for survival. 

Communication is King

If you are the Kardashians and can't spell it would be Kommunication is King!  Don't worry I have saved you from that pain. I know that the one thing that has really helped a lot has been great communication with the builder and other tradies that we are working with. Pete and I always made sure that we were accessible so if our builder had any questions, any decisions that need to be made that we could answer them and didn't hold him up. We also checked in daily to go through progress and any issues, always making sure that we delivered on what we promised we would do. There were a couple of times that I just couldn't get something sorted and told my builder and he would manage it for me. It really helped to be open and honest about what you can do and what help you need from them. We always made sure that everyone had the same message so there was no confusion...well we tried to! This was the biggest challenge for us, making sure that Pete and I agreed on the same thing, so if the builder asked me a question then Pete at a different time, that he got the same response. There were a few times where that didn't happen so it did cause some confusion. Like.."what do you want to do with the hand rails?" Pete says paint black...I say stain....painter is confused!!!

Being on site as much as possible really helped, just literally being on call for the builder was a real bonus.

Manage the variances

It's all about the money honey!. As you go into a renovation project you have the contract agreed which states the cost and schedule of payments. Our builder was very specific with what was included in the contract, e.g down to the # of lights switches. So we knew exactly what we were getting for our money.

Any time you change what is being done, material and labour after that contract is signed that's a variance. (if you have no signed contract..then you could get into all sorts of problems!! just warning you). A variance can be expensive so we were always really clear with what that variance would be. Asking ourselves, did we really need to do it? and what it would cost. We did end up with three variances with our builder;

  • Removal of the pelmets in the bedrooms, dining room ceiling plus external plumbing changes 
  • Replacement and installation of all internal doors 
  • Replacement and installation of the wooden hand rail on the stairs

In total these variances cost $6000 however we worked through each issue and decided on the importance and value to the renovation. A good example was the internal doors. We ended up replacing them all as they were all getting painted (part of the contract) however we did not want to paint doors that really were going to have to be replaced in a few years time (the laminate was peeling off a lot of them). Other things like replacing the hardware on the windows we didn't get done because they all worked ok and over time Pete and I can replace them with more modern looking ones. 

Changes occur constantly throughout the renovation, my advice is to just check if that change will actually mean a change to the contract, therefore a variance and what it will cost and agree or not on it. 

Be Patient 

For those of you who know me well, may laugh at this...but yeah you have to be patience... or at least try to be patient. I think it's fair to say most of us, who aren't builders, have unrealistic ideas of how long it takes to get things done and what is actually involved. Seeing the detail of the work that has to be done helped me to understand that to do it right takes time and patience and sometimes rework. We had a situation with the pantry bench top which meant that there was delay and my builder had to reschedule his tradies. At the time I was not happy about it however it ended up being completed only being two days later than the original planned date.....really two days delay is nothing so I had to learn to cool my jets!

My mind is now starting to switch into the excitement of decoration and furnishing.....now this will be a challenge as there is no budget left!!!

If you want to hear more about my renovation journey and my organising plans for the kitchen and bathrooms, make sure that you sign up for my newsletter, just pop you details below to sign up

 

Until next time, take care my friends

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Renovations design process - 5 key elements

Does the thought of undertaking renovations make you want to run into the hills screaming?  It seems that for a lot of people renovations are overwhelming and full of dramas and lots of stress, not to mention the large quantity of money that streams out of your account. Well good news, it does not have to be like that.  Our current large renovation project (we have done a few in our time) has been exciting and rewarding and certainly not full of dramas and unexpected surprises and stress. To be honest we have always found this to be the case.  So we discussed why that is, is it just luck that things go so well?. We actually identified 5 elements that we have always stuck to during a renovation design process that  has really helped us and thought that it would be helpful to share with you.

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1. Wait 

This simply means don't rush into your renovations. If you are new to a home, live in it for a while, at least 6 months. This gives you time to figure out how you actually live in the home. I know it may not always be possible, but if you can, do wait and consider the space, use it, figure out what works well and what doesn't.  I can guarantee that your initial ideas will not be what you end up doing if you wait. Waiting can save you a lot of money and time by not rushing in and doing something you regret later.

If you have a lot to do, plan the tasks out and prioritise them, one thing at a time!. As an example our current home, which we moved into 5 years ago really needed everything done when we first moved in.  We identified the most urgent, which happened to be a new hot water system and did that first. Then we moved onto the external part of the house, made sure it was weather proof and no rotting decks. Once the external was repaired and weather proof we moved onto the internal. 

I know that it's hard sometimes to wait, however we have always done this and never regretted it and in fact have come up with much better designs and ideas. 

2. Vision

What do you want the space look like? Whatever is your answer is actually your vision. Your vision should reflect your style, do you like a modern clean line look?, a Boho look? a Farmhouse cottage look? Beach look? What ever your style is ensure that you incorporate this into the design. It's your space so make it your place. Pinterest is a great place to start to get ideas and inspiration, check out my Style Ideas board 

Having a clear vision really helps you in making decisions through the design and renovation process. And yes there are a lot of decisions that you have to make! like little things, door knobs and handles, towel rails, mirrors and so on. All these little decisions can be exhausting if you do not have a sense of vision or really do not know what you want. It will take a lot longer for you to wade through the overwhelming options and that is not fun!

As a side note, if you are not sure about what style you like, I can recommend a great book, Styled, that I have really enjoyed reading. It has a whole chapter dedicated to "name your style". 

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3. Function

In designing your renovations don't forget to think about the function of the spaces. How are they going to be used? Who is going to be using them?  A bathroom which will be used mainly by guests will have different functions than that of your ensuite i.e a single sink would be fine however you may want a double sink in the ensuite. In the kitchen, do you entertain a lot? if so consider that when determining the layout and storage space (for all the entertainment dishes etc), we all know that we congregate in the kitchen at parties!

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4. flexibility (compromise)

So, this is not about compromising your overall vision, it's about making positive changes needed to actually achieve your vision.

Two key areas where compromise is important;

  • Working with your partner/husband/wife/family
  • Renovation work

Unless your other half is not interested, the design process must be a joint effort and therefore you need to be able to compromise to ensure that your both end up with what you like. Pete and I had different ideas on the bathroom tiles. I wanted the "marble look" and Pete the concrete look. So rather than one dominating or demanding their style we worked through to find a tile that we both liked, that had elements of both....Always stay positive on this as you will always find a solution, but you need to be open to it.

During the renovation process elements of your design, what you want, may not be possible. This is often caused by a structural challenge, type of materials needed etc. Again you need to be  flexible and open to come up with alternative solutions.

5. AdviCe

Expert advice, listen to the experts they do know what they are talking about. You may think that you know it all, however the experts do know more and that's simply because they do it for a living!. 

A good example was our guest bathroom design. Pete and I had the completed the design layout, however once the renovation started the builder raised concerns about the design and how it may look. We discussed this and made changes based on his advice (he has done a lot of bathrooms) and the end result is soooo much better that our original design and without affecting our vision.

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Now one area that the we have not mentioned here is the budget as it's sort of incorporated into all 5 elements. How? Well you can't keep away from the fact that it's going to cost a lot and it will always be way more than you originally thought. However ensuring that you have considered all those five elements mentioned above, will really help to maintain the budget and not have a massive blow out! 

If you are interested in more information about renovations, do stick around as I will be sharing a lot more about this as we journey through our renovation project. In my next post I will be talking about how to build a great partnering relationship with your builder and tradies, so make sure that you sign up to the newsletter below.

 

Have you undertaken any renovation? how has your experience? Do you have any other handy tips and hints to help those looking at renovating? Love to hear from you, the good , the bad and the ugly, just leave a comment below in the comments section.

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