Fridge Organisation - French Door

It should come as no surprise to those who know me that I "organise" my fridge.  Now most people would actually ask what do you mean by fridge organisation? as it's not really something a normal person would do.  However there is some method to my madness and having an organised fridge can actually save you money by reducing food waste and encourage you to see and eat what's in your fridge.  I have always had an organised fridge, which essentially means that I would have "homes" in the fridge for certain items. Thanks to Instagram, people are sharing how they organise their fridges and well it's gone a bit crazy with how people do this. If you are interested in some of ideas, just check out my kitchen organisation Pinterest board where I have shared some great pins on Fridge organisation.

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fridge Organisation

Unlike some of those amazingly organised, and even food colour coordinated fridges, my fridge organisation is based only around functionality and if it looks nice in the process that's an added bonus. 

I think it's pretty universal that we all actually use a fridge in a similar way in regards organisation, i.e milk always goes in the side door, along with condiments . Fruit and veges go in the food crisper, meat on the bottom shelf, leftovers and diary in the middle and drinks and ready to eats on the top. 

Prior to our new french door fridge, we had a single left opening fridge which was smaller than what we have now. However it had to cater for more people than our big new french door. To help get everything in,  I used to corral like items together into plastic trays/containers.

The best organisation of the fridge that worked for us as a family was the use of lunch containers. As an example for my son, he had his own lunch container which had his ham and cheese and other sandwich and lunch snack items that he could just grab and quickly make his lunch. Also having a container/tray to put in leftovers from meals was great as they were easy to find and stopped the old "container of rotting food buried at the back of the fridge" issue.

Changing use

As empty nesters we no longer have to cater for our hungry kids, so what we need to store in the fridge has change somewhat. And what is rather crazy is that we now have a much bigger fridge....go figure!!! Pete said we don't need a fridge that size and I said well sorry honey but it's what I want in the new kitchen and that's that really...poor Pete he knew he was not going to win that one and certainly not come between a chick and her new French door fridge....with ice making for her GnT's.

We have been using the new fridge for about 3 months and it's perfect, although initially seemed big, now manages to get filled up. I just love the way it opens up fully so you have easy access to everything. French doors on a fridge...like who would have thought that was a going to be a great design feature.  Our fridge has so many great features which I could go on about however this post is actually about how to organise a fridge regardless of which brand it is. However If you are interested to know more about the specifics of he fridge just check it out here

As I said we have been using the fridge for approximately 3 months which has given me plenty of time to work out how we want to best organise it and get the best functionality from the fridge.  So let me take you through the steps on how I went about organising the new fridge. I'll provide links to the containers that I have used. For my northern hemisphere readers I will link to Amazon and to my fellow Kiwis I've linked to Kmart. 

Ready_to_eat_storage.png

 

    1. Research

To get a good idea of the best way to organise a fridge there are some guidelines that can be helpful to get you started. I don't follow these exactly, however they are a good rule of thumb on the best way to store different food products safely in the fridge. 

  • Top shelves  - ready to eat and drink items
  • Middle shelves  - left overs, diary,  eggs
  • Lower shelves - Meats and larger drinks

If you want to see more information about this just check out my Pinterest page which has some good articles to check out. 

In terms of trying to work out which is best to go where for you I would recommend tracking what you have and use in your fridge over a period of time, between shops would be best. As we shop weekly, I tracked our items and use over a  week. This was a great way to decide on how I wanted to organise things in the fridge based on our consumption.

     2. Placement

 Now that I have sussed out what we eat and use in the week, I have a better idea of where things can go in the fridge. To be honest the easiest way to do this is to open the fridge up and map out on a piece of paper where you will locate your items in the fridge. So for our needs,  I decided;

  • Top shelf - lunch items, asian cooking pastes and sauces, drinks 
  • Middle shelf - eggs, space for left overs and dinner prep plus diary products
  • Bottom shelf - wine , meat and "grab" stuff such as margarine and yoghurt
  • Right side door - Soy/Almond Milk - mustards and spreads - spicy sauces - nice cheeses and butter
  • Left side door - Large and small drink bottles - condiments
  • Two crispers - One for vegetables and the other for Fruit
  • Bottom trays for beers

   3. Storage

Now this is the fun part! shopping for the right storage containers for the fridge. So my rule of thumb with storage is always shop the home first, i.e check out what you already have at home that could be useful. As we have recently done a big purge and declutter with the new kitchen I did not have a lot of storage containers that would be suitable for the fridge. Plus I wanted to replace the old plastic containers with resuable glass ones. So shame peeps!!! I had to make a trip to Kmart to get some goodies. However before you race off you need to actually work out what you need and the size of the storage containers. I mapped out roughly in a note book the set up of each shelf and the appropriate container for that, making sure that I measured the size of the space to make sure that I purchased the right size container.

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Below are the links for all the storage containers that I purchased. For my Kiwi readers I have given the links to the products that I brought from Kmart and for my US and Northern Hemisphere readers I have sourced the same products in Amazon and provided the links below. 

Kmart

Amazon

Note - there were a lot more choices of product at Amazon, especially with the turntables. 

Putting it all together was not too difficult as I had already worked out where everything was going. I just sorted everything into their containers and spaces and set up the fridge.

So far it is a lot more functional and easy to see everything and best of all everything has its place...which in the organising world is really good.

Just on a last note before I sign off,  I thought it might be of interest to share my weekly lunch prep storage. 

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lunch Prep storage

Pete and I both work away from home during the week, so it's really good to be able quickly make up our lunches. I prepare at the start of the week and put the food into small sealed containers and just take what we need on the day for our lunches.

Baby Spinach - Take out of the plastic bag and clean and rinse and place into clear container with a paper towel or light absorbent cloth, this stops the spinach from getting old too quickly.

Grapes - Rinse and take them off the stalks, drain and dry them and place into a clear container.

Grated Carrots - I grate up carrots and just have them stored in a container that I can just take a handful when making lunch salads.

So if you have been thinking about getting your fridge sorted, or just wanted to know what the heck Fridge organisation is, I hope I have helped.

As always love to receive your comments and feedback and your own experiences of organisation.

Take care my friends 

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Ensuite and Guest bathroom renovations - Before and After

In my last post I revealed our beautiful new kitchen and now it's the bathroom's turn! It's fair to say that the bathroom renovations were probably the most dramatic change out of all the renovation work on the house. Unlike the kitchen which keep a similar foot print, our bathrooms were major changes, including structural. The ensuite was original, as in built in 1960 with the house, still had the original sink, tiles and taps...yep the the same taps and for the past 2 years I had no hot water. So you can imagine how freaking excited I was to finally get an ensuite that was actually built in the 21st century and had hot water. The guest bathroom was tiny and had no shower just a bath and the toilet was in a separate room. The day I came home to the renovations to see the ugly old shower and taps in the skip was a great day, I tell you, I jumped for joy.

So with out further ado here is the low down on the bathroom renovations. Let's start with the before and afters.

  BEFORE  - Guest Bathroom and Toilet

BEFORE - Guest Bathroom and Toilet

  AFTER  - Guest Bathroom

AFTER - Guest Bathroom

  BEFORE  - Ensuite  (wardrobe begind the curtains)

BEFORE - Ensuite  (wardrobe begind the curtains)

  AFTER  -Ensuite

AFTER -Ensuite

Planning and design

I went over the renovation plans in my post in November 2017. Unlike the kitchen we did not use a designer/consultant for bathrooms, mainly because our builder's speciality is in bathrooms. Additionally we had worked out the look and design we wanted....remember we had 5 years to plan for this! The main elements of the new bathrooms needed to include;

  • Wall to wall walk in showers
  • Floor to ceiling tiles 600/600
  • Toilets in both the bathrooms
  • Wall hung cabinets 
  • Simple large mirrors with good lightening
  • Underfloor heating in the ensuite

We also wanted the bathrooms to match, so this meant getting two of everything. This was actually helpful when it came to cost and decision making. Anything to reduce the amount of decisions we had to make was a relief. 

It was not difficult working out the plans for the bathrooms as the shape and size really dictated what was able to be done. The ensuite was straight forward. Wall to wall shower to go where the wardrobe was, sink in the same place and the toilet where the old shower was. Some of you may be thinking!  what do you mean by a wardrobe in the ensuite? Ok so let me tell you about our lovely original ensuite. The house was built in 1960 and the owners had 5 children so they built a bathroom for the master bedroom. It must have been very fancy in 1960 as not many homes in New Zealand would have had an ensuite. Now for some reason a double wardrobe was actually built into the ensuite (see image above). We actually removed the wooden wardrobe doors and put up shower curtains as this helped reduce the moisture from the shower onto the clothes. Getting rid of the wardrobe from the ensuite was fundamental and so provided a large space that was perfect for the wall to wall shower. And as the ensuite had no existing toilet it made sense to ensure that we could get one installed. 

The actual layout of the guest bathroom was going to be totally different as we were creating one large bathroom from two very small rooms being the old bathroom itself and the toilet room. 

  BEFORE  - ENSUITE 

BEFORE - ENSUITE 

  AFTER  - Ensuite

AFTER - Ensuite

The journey

As with the kitchen, the renovation on these rooms was full on, everything was ripped out, even the ceiling. We were dealing with original 1960 bathrooms so we have to start from scratch, nothing was worth saving nor up to current building code. I remember at one stage in the renovation you could see up into the roof and down into the basement!!  Pete and I found this part of the renovation very interesting as you really got to see the amount of work that goes into "building" these rooms. 

All the wall linings, insulation, ceiling lining and flooring had to be wet area grade and because we were having floor to ceiling tiles there were even more sealing requirements.

The tiled shower area had a grey cement base laid and then a blue rubber like paint.

There were a few issues with the bathrooms however nothing that couldn't be worked through. The main one was the layout of the guest bathroom. The original plan was to retain the small wall to the right as you came into the bathroom and the wall to wall shower would go in there, also the toliet would be straight ahead of you as you walk in the room and the sink on the side wall facing the ensuite. The plan on paper seemed to work and we would not have to change too much of the external and internal plumbing. However once the builder got to work in the guest bathroom, he was not happy with the proposed layout. Our builder has done a lot of bathrooms and they are his speciality so he has built up a good design eye over the years.  He felt retaining the small wall would make the bathroom feel small and enclosed, so he suggested removing the wall altogether and bringing the door back out in line with the hallway. Then the shower and the toilet can go along the side wall (ensuite side) and the cabinet on the kitchen side wall. It was actually a much better idea than our plan as it really helped to create the simple, light and open bathroom we wanted. And he could do it all without a variation cost, as all the plumbing and electrical was being replaced and costed into the total budget. win all round I say. So apart from that change everything else stayed as planned. 

During the renovation Pete and I took advantage of having all the walls exposed and insulated "everything" , walls, floors and ceiling. It was a great opportunity and certainly took up a few evenings but totally worth it. I have to say I really notice the difference this winter.

  BEFORE  - Guest bathroom - separate bathroom and toilet

BEFORE - Guest bathroom - separate bathroom and toilet

  after  - guest bathroom one open space

after - guest bathroom one open space

 

The Costs

Overall we did well with the costs of the bathrooms as there were a few bargains that we picked up on the way. 

  • Tiles = $2500
  • Vanities = $1700 (2)
  • Toliets= $800 (2)
  • Tapeware = $2100 (2 of eveything)
  • Underfloor heating =$700 (only in the ensuite)

Interestingly enough the cabinets were discounted by 60%, however we got them firstly because we loved the style, the discount was a bonus. However we noticed once the vanity was installed that you could see washer marks on the front where the handles fit in. They were not that noticeable at first however once I saw them it was like.....that's all I saw!. Our builder encouraged us to go back the shop where we brought them, Placemakers, and explain and show them the damage. They were very good and got the supply company, Newtech to contact Pete and I. They advised the 60% discount was done because of this known issue. Unfortunately when we purchased them we were not advised that they were discounted for any particular reason. So word of warning, always check if the discounting is due to damage or product fault. In the end they sourced replacement fronts for the cabinets and it did not cost us anything which we did appreciate.

The toilets, Cygnet Neu Square  were also a fantastic deal and I found them at Placemakers . We managed to get both for a total of $798 and they normally sell at $945 each (at the time)

Not only did we get a great deal on the toilets and vanities, we also took advantage of the big annual sale at Elite Bathroomware . Pete and I have always liked Methven tapware however it is not the cheapest around, but the quality is great. So fortunately all the Methven products were on special and we got all the tapware for both bathrooms for $2100. 

 TWIN Showers - ensuite shower and guest bathroom shower

TWIN Showers - ensuite shower and guest bathroom shower

 

the products

I have listed below most of the products with relevant links so you can get more details about them. 

 methven Koha swivel basin mixer and tile

methven Koha swivel basin mixer and tile

 

The end result

Waking up, stepping into a big, light, spacious bathroom which is warm under foot is a total luxury. The size of the shower still takes getting used to from our little box of a shower that we had. And lets not forget that I don't have to leg it down the hallway to the bathroom in the middle of the night! Bathroom of my dreams? pretty damn close really! 

  EnSUITE : wall to wall shower

EnSUITE: wall to wall shower

I am still accessorising  both bathrooms as I like to take my time on this and get it right and not rush and buy a whole lot of stuff to "dress it up" . I have put some plants in the bathroom as I love a bit of green to soften the view and feel and they are great air filters! The other item we are yet to get up is the window treatment. We will put up roller blinds in the windows, however as the windows are already frosted it's not really urgent.

One of things I really love is the finish and quality of the tiling. Our builder uses the same tiler and he is excellent, just a young guy and boy does he work hard. It's the way he finishes the edges and the grouting that really shows his workmanship.

So what do you think? is it an improvement? yip I agree it is!. 

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Until next time, keep tidying my friends xxx

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Kitchen Renovation - Before and After

In December 2017 our large renovation project began. It was 5 years in the making and I was beyond excited, at the end of the project the entire upstairs of our home would be completely renovated. We were getting all new bathrooms (ensuite and guest bathroom), all the walls, ceilings, skirtings and windows painted, all new internal doors, painted, new double floor to ceiling wardrobe, new fittings and lighting, new curtains and blinds, new flooring and best of all a new kitchen, not just any kitchen, the kitchen of my dreams!! 

 Kitchen- before renovation - December 2017

Kitchen- before renovation - December 2017

 kitchen - after renovation - March 2018

kitchen - after renovation - March 2018

In November 17 I shared the renovations plans so it's time now to share the completed renovations. In this post I`ll take you through the kitchen renovations, sharing our journey and there will be lots of befores and afters.! 

The plans

As mentioned above the renovations were 5 years in the making. This is simple because we moved into the house 5 years ago and our goal was to renovate at the 5 year mark. This meant that we had plenty of time to work out what would be the best kitchen, or rather how a kitchen would work better in the existing space. We were fortunate that the existing kitchen and dinning space were all open and there was plenty of space to have a large kitchen.  In fact the exisiting kitchen, albeit being old (as in it was installed in 1986), was actually a well designed kitchen and on the whole worked really well. In the end it was not difficult for Pete and I to come up with a layman's design of our new kitchen. We planned for the sink, fridge, pantry and oven to be in pretty much in the same position as in the old kitchen. The main difference with new layout was that we removed the L shaped bench and installed an island.

Pete and I had also made decisions on the colours of the cabinets, the cabinet style, bench top. Like I said before we had waited 5 years for this, so we knew what we wanted; 

  • Grey/blue colour cabinets
  • Shaker style cabinets
  • White stone bench top  
  • Same flooring throughout the kitchen and dining room

the final plans!  

The Big Decision 

By far in the biggest single cost in the renovation was going to be the Kitchen so we wanted to choose carefully who we were going to part our hard earned readies with. We decided to get quotes from three companies.  We made it clear that we were getting quotes and meeting with each of the companies to help decide who would be the best to work with. It was an interesting experience. One company never returned my call, one pretty much came in and "told" us how we should have the kitchen, ignoring our own plans and thoughts. Which left us with the third company Kitchen Studio North Shore . Our first meeting was with one of their Designers, Natasha Wright. It was not a difficult to make a decision to go with them as Natasha really took the time to listen to us. She looked at our simple non designer plans and simply added to these with that designer touch. The key thing for both of us was that Natasha got to know us first , understand us and what we wanted and in the end we got the Kitchen we wanted. The other great thing with Natasha, she was very realistic with the full cost, in fact her estimate was pretty much on the mark with the final cost. The entire team at Kitchen Studio North Shore were great and delivered on time and on budget with excellent customer service. 

Before you get to have a new kitchen ...you have to destroy the old! 

 

The journey to the New Kitchen

The best and fun way to take you through the journey to the new Kitchen is with pictures. I will put in as many before pictures as I can for you, so you can get a sense of what it was like before and the transformation that has occurred.

First up, the coffee station! This was on the top of the wish list for the new kitchen. Both Pete and I wanted to have this set up for Pete's little hobby or rather addiction!! For me I just wanted a separate sink that meant no more coffee grounds in the main sink and all over the bench top...soooooo sick of that. 

Pete visualising his new coffee station / coffee sink / final details for the plumber! 

And there it is, in all it's shiny coffee machine glory!  Plumbed in, so endless supply of water.

the coffee station set up

Coffee station sink

 

Moving on to the cooking area. Pretty much everything stayed in the same "location". And we got gas !!!! Pete and I love cooking with gas so it's been fabulous getting back on the gas hob!.

1986 state of the art cook top / 2018 gas hob 

I have to say for its age, the cook top and the oven were actually pretty good to use. And I sort of loved the retro look of the splash back. I was thinking of somehow incorporating it into the new kitchen, but the style was not right and it would be really hard to remove the tiles with out breaking them.

 

The pantry design and layout took a bit of working out, but Natasha got it all sorted for us. The new pantry is a bench top and the doors are bi folds which means that you can fully open up the area.  Lovely deep drawers and a massive corner Mondo corner unit.   (all the details about the inside of the cabinets, set ups and organisation will be revealed in my Kitchen Organisation posts, coming up at the end of July and August).

The kitchen area leads into the dining area, and it's all open plan. In the old kitchen, these spaces were separated by carpet and the L of the L-shaped kitchen. We wanted to make the kitchen and dining space feel more open and have ease of movement between the spaces so we now have a island parrellel to the kitchen sink and the same flooring all the way through. It has made a huge difference to how open and big the kitchen feels.

Looking out to the dining room and the french doors from the kitchen

Same view-post renovations - still hunting for new dining chairs!

 

The Costs

To be honest this was never going to be a cheap kitchen, so brace yourself!! the kitchen cost, excluding all appliances, tiling, plumbing and electrical was $45,000(NZ).

  • Cabinets = $19.3k
  • Cabinet and drawer accessories and sinks = $2.1k
  • Benchtop = $10.3K
  • Installation = $2.7

The electrical, plumbing, painting, tiling was all part of the total renovation cost so I could not say what was specific to the kitchen. 

Additional costs were for the floor and wall tiles which ran at approximately $3k and the curtains $500.  An unforeseen cost was the kitchen window which we had to replace as the original one was rotten. It had to be made by a local joinery company, it's not small so there was no change from $3k.  

Then you can`t forget the cost of the appliances. We actually brought the appliances a number of months before we started the renovations. Pete and I made the most of the annual Auckland Home Show and got the dishwasher, oven, hob, and rangehood for $6.4k, from The Jones Family Business, which I thought was pretty good. The fridge on the other hand....I love that fridge soooo much..however it was not the cheapest option...nor the smallest but it's what I wanted. And in this renovation Pete and I were both agreed that for once we would get want we actually wanted (within reason). I did managed to get a good price on it at $3.2k from the 100% Appliance store in Albany, their service was excellent and they delivered it for free.

So yep it was by no means cheap!!! I do find it interesting the costs that get disclosed in the magazines for Kitchen renovations. I am sure that they do not include all the "hidden" costs that occur, especially in an older home.

The products

As much as I can I`ll provide the names and links to all the materials, equipment and appliances that we purchased. 

Appliances;

We have used Smeg appliances before and have always found them great and so far have not had any issues. The fridge is a total joy and having the filtered water is a real treat, never get sick of that. 

pete -slow cooking prep / "cooking with gas"

 

The only change which Pete and I have had to get use to is all the appliances are electronic now, so no more dials....so we have a had to get the instruction books out a few times for setting clocks, timers and working out settings!!! Needing to read instruction books is a frustration in Pete's book!!

Cabinets, benchtop and tiles;

 Floor tiles - Foresta Arizona / Cabinet colour - agave supermatt / wall paint colour - resene -avalon

Floor tiles - Foresta Arizona / Cabinet colour - agave supermatt / wall paint colour - resene -avalon

There were some struggles with both the bench top and the cabinet doors. Firstly with regards to the stone benchtop, I had chosen a more marbled looking stone, however the quote come in at $15k. So we had to rethink that option, that was just a bit rich for our blood. Natasha, the designer from Kitchen Studio was great at helping us, or rather me, to find something in our price range but that we would like. I was very nervous about what we chose as it was not what I pictured in my head, however Natasha reassured us that we had made the right choice. I now think that I love it more that my original choice, so am quietly pleased that it was too expensive. 

The other issue was with the cabinets. Both Pete and I wanted the shaker style cabinets and so these only come in Thermalwrap, which means that the colours are more limited and unlike the lacquered finish, can't be painted to our specifications. The challenge was finding the right cabinet colour, it had to be the right shade of bluey grey.  The samples held were all brown grey and this was not going to work.......we could get the specific colour however it could not be in a shaker style cabinet.....dilemma cabinet style vs colour which to choose!!!!  In the end Pete and I decided that we would not compromise on the cabinet style however maybe rethink the colour.  However as luck would have it Natasha and I found a colour on the cabinet makers website, which at first didn't look right but once we got the sample it was the perfect colour. So in the end we got the cabinet fronts and colour we wanted.  

It was our builder that put us onto the tiles for the floor. Neither Pete nor I were sure what we wanted on the kitchen and dining floor. However we did know that it had to be the same all the way through both rooms as it was an open space, and absolutely no carpet near the kitchen and no lino!   Our thoughts were to have a floating floor, laminate flooring like the sunroom, however were not sure about durability in a really high use area, ideally real timber flooring would be best but we are not millionaires so that was out of the question. So we checked out the local Tile Warehouse and they actually had the floor tiles down as display as you walked in and we instantly knew this was the flooring we would get. Perfect colour and perfect style...all thanks to our builders !!!  As a side note at the Home Show, where we got the appliances, we also got a 25% voucher for the Tile Warehouse which we used for when we purchased the tiles. It was a great discount and not only that but we got great service from Kalun at the Tile Warehouse

The day the tiler finished the subway tiles and the tile flooring was one of the best moments in the renovation, I could not believe how much they transformed the kitchen, took it from a construction zone to a completed zone!!!

all done

 

The Experience

Both Pete and I found the kitchen renovation exciting, there were a few challenges along the way however nothing that was major or a game changer, deal breaker. In my previous post about our renovation experience I talk about tips to survive renovations. The number one is great communication. For the kitchen renovation we had to work with our builder and the kitchen company and our builder had to work directly with them as well, especially at the installation stage. Graham, our builder was doing all the electrical and plumbing and "build" part and Kitchen Studio were making the cabinets and bench top and installing. To get this to all come together successfully it was really critical to have great communication across everyone , and make sure you can be on site at the critical times, like the day(s) on installation.

One thing that was very helpful from the Kitchen Studio was the explanation and details that you got on the "process". This meant that you had clarity of each step, who was doing what and by when and it was all documented. Any changes were updated and everyone got this information so there was never any confusion. 

 another view from in front of the fridge looking out to the dining room

another view from in front of the fridge looking out to the dining room

Over the next two months, my post will bring you more details on the Kitchen organisation and the set ups of the drawers, shelves and cabinets. If you want to make sure that you get notified about the posts and other helpful tips from yours truly make sure that you sign up below for my newsletter, just have to pop your name and email address below so I can email you the newsletter

I hope you found this interesting and helpful especially if you are renovating. As always I love to hear from you about any of your renovation experiences and tips. 

If you are after inspiration, just check out my Pinterest board where I have keep all my kitchen inspiration and other renovation ideas. Make sure you follow to see all the new pins and inspiration I send your way.

Take care my friends

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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.

Kitchen_accessories.png

 

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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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

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

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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!

FREE Cheat Sheet

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Quick and simple cleaning tips to stop soap scum build up

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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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