5 low waste Christmas gift ideas for the home

To be honest I was not planning on doing a Christmas gift guide as cleaning and organising products are not something that most people would think to give for Christmas presents. However there are a lot of people out there that are starting to think about their environmental foot print and how they can reduce their waste. So I thought that Christmas time is actually the perfect time to encourage this by giving gifts that may start someone on that reduce waste journey. I have identified 5 kits for the home that you can actually easily make and give as awesome gifts for Christmas.

  • DIY Natural cleaning kit

  • Kitchen Kit

  • Laundry Kit

  • Bathroom Kit

  • Home scent kit

DIY Natural cleaning kit

home made cleaner in glass jar and baking soda in glass jar

I recently took part in our work place night market and had to come up with some gifts to sell for fundraising. I decided to make some DIY Natural cleaning kits, and they were a hit, so I thought that these would make great Christmas presents. In my kit I had;

  • General cleaner

  • Scrubber

  • Cleaning cloth

  • Sample of essential oil

  • Jute bag

They were really easy to make and most items can be found around the home or could be easily purchased from your local supermarket. To make the kit you will need;

  • White vinegar

  • Baking Soda

  • Small jar

  • Spray bottle (glass is preferable)

General Cleaner - mix a 50/50 of white vinegar and water into the spray container and label it "General Cleaner”

Scrubber - fill the small jar with baking soda and for extra special treat put a few drops of an essential oil and mix through. Then just label “Scrubber”.

Don’t forget to provide instructions on how to use and refill so the person can continue to use after the ingredients run out. You can sign up to receive my free guide and recipe printable for the cleaning kits below;

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If you are not confident to make up these kits, however love the idea you can just order these fabulous starter kits from Figgy & Co

Kitchen kit

Handwash and dishwash in glass jar

In this Kitchen Kit I have;

  • Cotton Dishcloth - washable

  • Hand wash dispensers - refillable

  • Dish wash dispensers - refillable

The great thing with the Kitchen kits are that they are not only pretty kitchen accessories, they are also functional and totally reusable.

To make these kits you just need some dispensers and buy or make the cotton dish cloths.

If you want to make the dishcloths and don’t know how to crochet here is a great tutorial that will get you going. For those that don’t have the time and just want to buy some here are my fav’s in NZ;

Don’t forget to check out Etsy which has a great selection of cotton dish cloths.

cotton dish cloths

For the dispensers you could just recycle some empty ones that you have around the home. I do have a preference for glass as they do last a lot longer, are easier to clean and good for recycling. There are a few places that stock refillable glass dispensers. I have recently come across this great online store , Packageless Pad that stocks a great selection of glass containers and these Classic Syrup bottles are perfect for using around the home.

To add a bit of home decor it’s nice to place them on a tray and maybe add in a plant, so you could add these into your kit to jazz it up a bit.

Lastly don’t forget to fill the dispensers with the soap, for the hands and the dishes. Ideally use a product that is chemical free and obtained from a refillery and or a eco-friendly product like Eco Store from the supermarket.

Laundry Kit

For the Laundry kit I just got a selection of jars that you can easily label Laundry powder and Soaker. You could also add in some wooden clothes pegs. Most of these items you can get at a supermarket or find around the home. I sourced my jars at the time from The Warehouse, there is still a good selection. The refillery GoodFor also has a good selection too . Also you could try Figgy & Co as you can get both the jars and laundry product. In fact they have The Laundry Pack which you can purchase.

My laundry set up is below where I have the laundry powder, soaker and I have baking soda and a bottle of vinegar. Hint a wee mix of soda and vinegar in the wash, especially for towels helps fluff them up.

laundry products in jars

Bathroom kit

One of the exciting things that I came across this year was recyclable toothbrushes and organic toothpaste. As well as better options for dental floss and cotton buds. Eco store has introduced a range which is available from most supermarkets or online. Go Bamboo is also worth checking out too as they have the cotton buds.

Something else to think about for the bathroom kit is a sample pack for Hair and Face products that don’t come in plastic bottles. The fabulous products from Ethique would make a wonderful present. Oh and please check out Soaps by Roi a fabulous Kiwi making beautiful products based on Rongoa Maori (Maori medicine).

Once again with the other kits you could put them into storage jars and gift them all set up. Example below is a Bathroom kit.

Bathroom hand wash and soap kit.png

Home scent kit

Who loves walking into those lovely home stores with those gorgeous scents floating around the air, how lovely would it be to give a gift that can make someones home smell like that. All you need is some jute bags, cotton balls and essential oils and scented candles.

The jute/hessian bags or cotton bags, I source from Spotlight of all places and the cotton balls can be sourced from the supermarket. For essential oils I source mine from doTERRA and an awesome place in Akaroa, NZ called Fire and Ice.

Just place a drop of oil on each cotton ball and pop them into the bag and hang them in places around the home. I use mine in the wardrobes, linen closet, kitchen and bedrooms.

Scented candles are the best, but make sure you get quality candles and ones made with Soy. I have been fortunate to have a lovely lady at work who makes the most wonderful soy candles. Also check out Soy Delights Nz as you can purchase from her Etsy store as well.

Home scents kit.png

So there you have it 5 Christmas gift kit ideas, which are easy to put together, budget friendly, reusable and produce very little waste and encourage more people to reduce their environmental foot print.

Have a wonderful Christmas my dears, and enjoy your gift giving.

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Christmas table settings ideas for indoors and outdoors

It was one of my keen readers that asked “when are you going to do a post on table settings for Christmas?” So I thought, that’s a great idea, and so here we are. I decided to do two settings, one indoor for those of you that live in the colder parts of the world at Christmas time and one outdoors for the likes of myself that experience Christmas in summer and normally celebrate with a BBQ. I also wanted to challenge myself and only use what I had around the house to help give you ideas without having to actually buy much at all. Like we know Christmas is a very expensive time of year anyway. The table settings will be a simple affair as I’m not one for lots a jazz and simple is often a lot cheaper.

Christmas table setting in dinning room.png

This blog will be a bit different from my usual approach as I have decided to do mainly photos and explain what I have used for each of the settings. I hope you enjoy and get some great inspiration to help planning your awesome Christmas table setting.

Indoor table setting

As I stated above I am keeping these settings simple and low cost and in fact have just shopped my home for all the items I have used. So I challenge you to do the same, it’s amazing what you can find to use rather than find the need to buy yet more stuff.

Christmas crackers and decorations.png

First up I raided my Christmas decoration stash and decided on the using the Christmas garland as the main centrepiece and use some decoration accessories to add to it. I also had Christmas crackers that are obviously an important part of the Christmas table setting.

Next up was working out the plate setting and the cutlery. The plates are part of of our everyday plates, well to be honest we only have everyday plates now….I am long past keeping something for best or special occasions, I mean it’s everyday a special occasion!!!.

Some time ago we got the big light blue plates from the local Harbour Hospice shop which we got for $20 for the set. They were basically new and from Citta (check out the price per plate!). I did however buy the smaller plates new, from Tony Sly, Raglan Wharf…like OMG I love his stuff and treated myself, like don’t you blame me.

cutlery in silverwear box on dinning table.png

Which brings me onto my cutlery set. In our home we have some very special family pieces and one is the writing bureau from my beautiful Nana Anne . She also gave Pete and I a stunning silver service cutlery set for our wedding present. We keep these pieces together. The cutlery set is certainly something that I would like to use more often, however the pieces have to be hand washed and placed back into the box so it’s a bit of a mission. So I’m sad to say in this case they only come out on special occasions…..and of course Christmas is one of those. I do love fussing around and getting them out and using them.

Christmas plate and silverwear setting on dinning table.png

So if you have always wanted to know how to set a formal table setting well wonder no more. Above is a simple setting, essentially formal. The secret to these setting is the order of the cutlery lines up to the order of the plates and therefore the courses. You just start from the cutlery on the outside and work inwards and the dessert cutlery is a top the plates. There is a very good post at Real Simple.com with all the details on how to set a table. It’s handy to know this, especially when you are at that fancy restaurant and you have to figure out which fork to use! I always just remember….”outside in” .

Christmas place setting with napkin under plate.png

With the place settings I folded up the cloth napkin, again these are ones we use everyday, and placed them under the top plate. It just adds a bit of interest and formality to the setting and is a nice simple design. You will notice that I have done place names, I did this just to show how you could do this if you need to. This is actually helpful if you have a number of people coming. All I did some use some paper envelopes that I had and simply wrote the names on them and placed the flower on the top. Again it was a easy to do and gave a nice aesthetic.

Christmas table setting with candles.png

For the centre piece I used the Christmas garland. I didn’t want to clutter up the garland too much however did need to embellish it it a bit. I took a jute ribbon and wrapped it round losly around the length of it then run a small string of battery run copper lights along the top. In the middle of the table I placed three large church candles and at each end placed decorative silver reindeer. All these items I had in my Christmas decoration stash so I did not need to buy anything more.

Christmas table setting with silver dear.png
Christmas table setting .png

Challenge # 1 done for the insider Christmas table setting now for the outside one.

Outdoor Table setting

The intent of the outdoor setting is for a very casual, more BBQ style with a touch of Christmas. Again challenge was to shop the home and keep it simple.

Christmas candles and holy hock in outside table centrepiece.png

To add a Christmas theme to the centre piece I just laid out a length of jute ribbon (wide) and used that like a table runner. I placed the centre piece on top. All I did here was take the existing outdoors tray and place the decorative candles and holy onto the tray. You will see in my previous Christmas decoration posts how I have done this before.

One thing that I did was to use what I thought could serve as a double purpose was that of citronella candles. Most of us that eat outside a bit have these as they work really well. I just used ones that I already had. If you don’t have any I totally recommend getting some. You can pick them up from most hardware, garden centres and home stores. I have found, locally, that The Warehouse has a good selection at great prices


knife and fork tied around napkin for table setting.png

To achieve a more casual style I used our everyday cutlery and took the napkin (hospice shop finds) and tied them up with string, garden twine in this case. I also used our plan white plates, (easy to replace if one breaks). The other option is to simple stack the plates up and bundle the cutlery together so everyone can just help themselves. The main thing to think about for outside use is the chance of something being dropped and broken. So maybe you could also use some of your plastic picnic wear, there are some really gorgeous outdoor dinning wear, great selection here from Kmart

Bottles of sparkling wine in tin bucket outside party.png

The old outdoor fridge is essential for the perfect outdoor Christmas dinning, and you don’t need some flash outdoor mini fridge. We just use this tin container (another hospice find) and fill it up with ice and it keeps the beves nice and cold.

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That’s it folks , my inside and outside Christmas table settings , hope you got some inspiration for your Christmas day…..remember to check around your home to see what you have to make a great table scape.

For more inspiration follow me on Pinterest as I have Christmas board set up where you can see even more ideas.

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Stay tidy!

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How I organise my Kitchen drawers

We all know that the Pantry and the fridge are the king of the kitchen when it comes to storage and organisation and always get the most attention especially when it comes to social media!!! Have you seen some of those Instagram pantry pics….wow!. However we can not over look the other areas of the kitchen that are need to be functional and well organised. So this post shares how I organised those “other” spaces. I love the look of cupboards in the kitchen however do not like using them….they are just not efficient and I much prefer drawers. So in my kitchen I have the best of both - drawers behind the cupboards !!! eh what????

kitchen drawers with glasses and cups

Cutlery and Utensils

Between using teaspoons for my cups of tea and knives for Pete’s after work toast , the cutlery drawer probably gets the most use of any space in the kitchen. We are lucky to have nice wide (actually it was part of the kitchen renovation design) drawers side by side. One is for cutlery and the other for utensils.  These drawers work really well and I have organised them with the help of Blum Orga - Line cutlery and utensil trays. They are adjustable and the each section can be placed in the dishwasher. I did use non slip drawer liners, underneath which works really well to keep the utensils from moving around.

utensil drawer.png
organised kitchen cutlery drawer.png

In the cutlery drawer I have two sets, one for the dinning table for meals and the other for everyday use, not sure about your home, but here we always ran out of cutlery for the table at tea time ..sooo annoying. In the utensil drawers I have got all the other usual items, knives, tongs, openers , etc. The only utensils that I don’t have in this drawer are those that we use while cooking, and these are housed in a jug by the gas hob.

Herbs, Spices and Oils

Using the same organisers range from Blum Orga-line, our herbs and spices are well sorted, and I have the oils below in the pull out drawers. On the bench top by the gas hob I have our oils that we use regularly in cooking at easy reach. The only limitation with this system is that I have run out of space for the herds and spices so have had to use a drawer above which was originally used as a junk drawer. Yes horror of all horrors I have a junk drawer….but it’s a well organised one. To help organise them and enable them to fit in I have used the spice drawer organiser from Madesmart . This is a great organiser and works really well and is excellent value.

herbs and spice organisation in kitchen drawer.png
oil bottles on bench.png

Rubbish and Recycling

Pete and I have been recyclers since like ages ago!! so we have made sure that our kitchen waste system has a recycling, organic and landfill system. The recycling and landfill bins are side by side, and in the drawer below we have our compost bin. I picked up this tin container from a hospice shop about 5 years ago and it has made the perfect compost bin. We also store our reusable bags in the same drawer . Tip: to reduce any odours use a small jute bag with cotton balls and place a few drops of peppermint oil (lemon/Wild orange is also good) on the cotton balls. Just pop the cotton balls into the Jute bag and place it by the bin. Now every time you open the drawer you can spell your favourite essential oils, now that’s better than the usual rubbish odour.

compost bin in kitchen drawer.png

dinner sets and Serving dishes

Under the cutlery and utensil drawers we have the dinner sets and serving dishes cupboards and drawers. Nothing very exciting here with their organisation, just the usual. Use of non-slip drawer liner is a must in these drawers as it stops everything from moving when you open and close the drawers. Our dishwasher opens in front of these cupboards and it makes it so easy to put everything into the drawers….great design really.

Coffee Station

So to be truthful ,this space is more than a just coffee station , it’s a also a cups and glasses space.

The cupboards under the Coffee machine house all things for the coffee station plus cups and glasses. There are three drawers in this cupboard, the top one has the tea and coffee containers which are opened several times a time. I love my tea and Pete loves his coffee. I have a collection of tea tins which I just love and use these to contain the loose leave tea and the teabags.

tea tins in drawer.png

The next drawer down we have the cups and mugs, followed by glasses. My son recently commented how he thought that the glasses should be the top drawer since he uses these a lot. My point to him was that he is only here on the odd weekend and we have the kitchen set up to Pete and my needs not his!!!. So it’s an important point to ensure that you set things up in your kitchen to work best for you and how you use it….and maybe not everyone else who pop in occasionally!

mugs and cups in drawer.png

Hutch

This area is both for “decor” and function. The top shelves are “display shelves” and in the cupboards I have our cookbook collection, table ware and wine glasses. A bit of an odd and sods cupboard, but it’s perfect for things that I don’t reach for daily.

Dining table centrepiece

Lastly, yet not a drawer, is our dining table. I do like to have a nice table centrepiece , normally a plant of some sort and try and change it up with the seasons. So for spring I have got some herbs, coriander and I am also growing some baby house plants. One item that is always there is our condiments basket. In here we have oils and seasoning with napkins and toothpicks, all the things that you need on hand when at the table for dinner. This has always been on the table and when the kids were at home we had the dining cutlery, so there was no need to take things from the kitchen to the table and no fights over who was going to lay the table.

For the herbs and plants, I planted them into terracotta pots with good quality potting mix. I purchased a couple of small coriander plants from the garden centre. You should be able to pick these up at any garden centre for a good price and they should provide you with coriander all through spring and summer. Just ensure that they get lots of light and water and regularly take some leaves, this will help to encourage growth.

Dinning table centre setting with spring plants.png

Before I sign off I thought I just provide the links of the posts that I have already done for our pantry and fridge organisation;

For more inspiration check out my Kitchen and Pantry Organisation board in Pinterest

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How to repot succulents in 3 easy steps

Did you know that Succulents were never really my cup of tea…didn’t really see the beauty in them and kinda thought that they were a plant for “old ladies” garden…Well I must be an old lady coz now I love Succulents and have them added to my collection of indoor plants. The best thing about Succulents are how it’s pretty impossible to kill them as they actually don’t need a lot of maintenance. And I discovered that some produce the most delicate flowers.

succulent in pots in sunroom | Tidying with Tania



I first started growing them only very recently so am now just having to look to repot them. To be honest I did neglect some and they needed my attention. The poor things came second to the renovation work. As I know not everyone is confident in having indoor plants I thought it might be helpful to take you through how I repotted my succulents. I have tried to keep it to simple steps, well actually these are just what I do as I’m a simple person really.

succulent with dead leaves to be repotted | Tidying with Tania



Step 1 - Potting mix and pots

When I say potting mix I do not mean the traditional potting mix. Succulents and Cacti both like alot of drainage and therefore do not cope well with the traditional potting mix. If you are making your own you would be best with a 50/50 potting mix to gravel(small). The easiest solution is to buy potting mix specific for Succulents and Cacti. I actually use this Cacti and Succulent mix from Yates. You should be able to find it at your local garden centre or hardware store. You will not need heaps of it as generally speaking you use small pots for the succulents.

In terms of pots, well you can pretty much plant Succulents in anything. And yeah people do, like gumboots! I have used small white pots for growing a single plant and these look good when on a narrow window sill.

small white pots | shallow clay pots | Tidying with Tania

As I have a number of shoots off one plant, I decided to get a couple of bigger pots but shallow, as Succulents are not deep rooted. I just picked up these simple pots from Bunnings. Don’t forget to get the saucer! As these are shallow they don’t take a lot of potting mix.

Step 2 - Prepare the succulents

The next step is to take out the existing plants from their pots and prepare them for the new pots. As mentioned a number of the plants have grown babies/offsets. Added to this I have had not been removing the old leaves so there was a bit of tidying up to do with each of the plants. To start I just removed, gently, the plants from their pot, then again gently removed the babies. I made sure that I had a clear space to place these babies/offshoots so not to damage them.

Removing the old leaves from under the succulent was a bit more delicate as I didn’t want to damage the plant, I’d suggest that you could use tweezers or your fingers if you are gentle.

So now I had my babies/offshoots and tidied plants all ready to repot.

Succulents ready to repot | Tidying with Tania


Step 3 - plant and place

My last step was to fill up the pots with the Succulent potting mix. I made sure that I filled the pots to a couple of cm’s from the top with the mix. I then simply took each plant and made a small hold with my finger (or pencil) and place the plant in, continuing until I had all plants repotted. Not a hard job really.

Finding the best spot to place the pots wasn’t hard as I had a spot all lined up in the sunroom. A perfect warm and sunny spot. The trick to remember to ensure that I give them appropriate water, and not to over water them. Remember they do not like water sitting around them so it must drain well.

succulents repotted in shallow clay pots | Tidying with Tania

Ta dah!!! love the new pots and love their new pace.

That’s it , just a short and sweet post today. Now my next post will be about my spring table setting with baby house plants and herbs, so make sure you stay tuned for this by signing up to my newsletter, below.

Also make sure that you follow me on social media to see all the other cool pics and goings on in the Tidying with Tania world

Happy potting everyone

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Master Closet Reveal

Our home was built in 1960, and the master bedroom is therefore not very big, however it did have a ‘dressing room’ or what we call now an ensuite. Initially the ‘dressing room’ only had a large wall to wall wardrobe/closet and a sink and mirror. At some stage, probably early 70’s, a shower was put into the ‘dressing room’, however the closet was never removed…eeekkkk !!! So when we purchased the home 5 years ago our only closet for clothes for the master bedroom was literally in the ensuite. Fast forward 5 years and we are finally renovating the house and this “nasty” wardrobe is getting gone…long gone to make way for the beautiful new ensuite…actually to make way for the wall to wall shower. Check out our ensuite reveal post, it’s got lots of before and afters.

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Planning and Building

It was very exciting to think that there was going to be no more wardrobe in the ensuite! However the big question was where to actually install a new one in our master bedroom, remember it’s a small bedroom. The layout of our bedroom, specifically the windows, restricts where you can place our bed (Queen size). Getting the right position for the bed and ensuring space for a wardrobe was a bit tricky. However in the end there was actually only one way it could be done, so it was a easy decision. The wardrobe had to be built along the wall of one side of the room. To maximise the space we ensured that it went floor to ceiling and also agreed that we would need to have a set of 3 sliding doors to enable full access and in glass ti make the space feel more open.

My dream would have been a walk in wardrobe however, that would take busting out walls and extending the house which, well, just was not worth it to house clothes!!! I mean it is a lot cheaper to just reduce the clothes you have to lessen the space you need…I mean you can only wear one outfit at a time right.

Our builder also helped us to work out the best placement and size which really helped in the long run with the overall design. He is well experienced and knows all the important details that you need to think about when renovating.

After the frame up of the wardrobe itself , we engaged Regency Wardrobe Company to make our sliding doors. We actually came upon them at the Auckland home show and was able to access the “home show special” for the doors. They came out to the house to measure and quote. We chose soft closing triple doors in full glass with silver frames. The gave you an option to have them installed or self install. We chose to self install. The doors were made and delivered pretty soon after the measure and quote and delivered on site. The instructions on the self install were very good and easy to follow. Pete installed the doors in less than an hour . I have to say the quality of the doors exceeded my expectations, they are lovely and quiet, weighted well and soft closing, very nice indeed to use.

At this point we had to do some thinking about the internal closet and the best design in terms of storage. The wardrobe is used by both Pete and myself so needs to accommodate 2 sets of clothing. We did get Regency Wardrobe Company to complete a built-in design and quote, however in the end Pete decided that he wanted to make the closet built-in’s himself. He had actually keep the drawers and the metal runners from the old kitchen which were actually great quality. In short he repurposed the drawers, making new frontages for them and then designed the rest of the built-in’s around the drawers.



We also recycled the metal railing from the old wardrobe and the wooden shelf and used them in the closet….such savings, it was going to cost approx $2600 to have built in’s made. In the end it only cost approx $200 (wood) and we used the left over paint from the renovations. Pete actually designed the closet as well, working out the best size and design to maximise the hanging space , as well as ensuring that I have space for my shoes! He is a good man isn’t he :)

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I asked Pete about how he went about the design and build and he said that he just measured up longest garments being dressers, also measured up the shirts and jackets and drew out the plans to fit the clothes. He also considered the numbers and types of shoes that had to be stored and created spaces for them as well. He said he just worked out the clothes that we had and what storage was needed for them “the drawers are for jocks and socks” .

He built the storage in sections and put them together in the closet. Once he had all the components together he prep and painted them.

You know what I like about this closet and in true Pete style we equally share the space…..no extra space for me just because I am a women and therefore “have more clothes” in fact having equal space forced me to really think about what clothes I really use. I have found that it’s getting easier as I pare down my clothes …far easier decisions to make about what to wear…it’s very refreshing.

So now Pete has done his awesome job making the closet, it was my turn to “organise “ the clothes in the closet.

closet organisation

Oh this is the fun part….in my world anyway. Just like any other organisation job you always start at the very beginning and take all the items out and declutter. Don’t forget to make signs for recycle, donate, sell, dump. Then go through each item making a decision on where to place the garment in one of the 4 areas. I regularly declutter my clothes so it was not a big job for me , however I was still surprised by how many items I left go.. Pete’s clothes also got the once over and the old holely undies and sox’s got the bin treatment. Thanks to Pete’s grand design the closet has lots of hanging space as well as shelving. My goal was to get in all our clothes and not just “seasonal clothes”. I have to confess that I could not fit all mine in so I have keep a small number of off season items in the spare room closet.

All clothes that could be hung were and I used these thin felt coat hangers. I have used these style of coat hangers for a while now and I love them, you can almost double the amount of clothes that you can hang in a space by using these hangers. As you can see I tend to sort by item type and then by colour. So the trouser, dressers and skirts are in the middle, next to them are shirts and tops and jackets . On Pete’s side it is just trousers and shirts.

We each have three drawers and these house our smalls. I have my t-shirts and tops in these drawers as well . On my side of the closet I have my scarfs at the top, however this is not actually ideal as I reach for these daily and it’s not always easy to find them. I am hunting out a better option, like a coat hanger for scarfs, like these at Storage box. Any other ideas on scarf storage please share!.

jewellery_master_closet.png



The next shelf I have my jewellery and I found the perfect velvet tray to display them on , and guess where I got it from? Yep good old Kmart. Next shelf I have my jeans and shorts, then bulky tops (jersey’s etc) . On the bottom shelf I have got a cube container to hold my gardening and house work clothes.

One of the great design features that Pete put into the closet is a space to place clothes that you may wear the next day, like jeans etc, and my after work clothes. This space is really useful and means that these aren’t hanging around on a chair or on the bed. Under that he has another shelf for my yoga gear which I reach for daily. He really did think of everything!

Gym_gear_shoes_master_closet.png

Pete’s shelves are a bit more spartan than mine because…well…I simply have more clothes. He has his jerseys and tops on the top shelf the work gear , followed by a shelf for jeans and shorts and t-shirts on the bottom.

At bottom Pete designed space for my shoes, even measured them up to make sure they fitted. If you are wondering his are out in the hall cupboard..big stinky man shoes not allowed in the new closet.!

To ensure that we made the most of the space I have used laundry hampers on the top shelf to store bags and other items that get used less often.

hampers_master_closet.png



While I was organising the wardrobe, I attacked my bedside cabinet which has three drawers and was full of clutter…nightstand should not have drawers as they just become dumping zones! As these drawers can be a bit ugly , I wanted to brighten them up. So I got some of my left over wall paper and some unused acrylic containers and used the paper as drawer liners. Now the cabinet only has items that I reach for at night or use in the morning. And every time I open the drawers they look so nice “ohh joy”.

I can’t tell you how much I love my new wardrobe…to the moon and back maybe! It`s amazing what you can make out of an empty space!.

I hope that this has given you some ideas and inspiration for your wardrobe, even if it is to just declutter it!

Stay tidy out there!

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How I organised my new pantry

It was late March when we finally moved back into the renovated kitchen, I simply just put things into the new pantry in a similar way that I organised my old pantry. I figured that in the coming weeks I'd get things sorted and reorganised for the new pantry. Well it's now August and I still standing staring at my new pantry working out how I want to organise it. So I set myself the challenge of getting this pantry organised by the end of August.

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Situation

In my situation I had a number of different things scattered all around the kitchen that I wanted to bring into one place, such as drink bottles, cooking equipment, food storage containers, cook books etc. This means that at the moment I'm all over the kitchen getting bits and pieces and it feels very disorganised to me. The other issue is that our old pantry was a walk in pantry and our new one is different. We now have a bench top pantry along with three drawers and a corner cupboard. In fact there is a lot more space now however it is used in a different way. Added to this Pete and I have finally adjusted to cooking for two rather than four, so what we now have in our pantry and cupboards is different to what we had in the old pantry. The challenge I had was how to work out the best way to house everything that I wanted together in the new pantry.

To be honest I have struggled with this organisation job, many a time I have been found just standing and staring at the new pantry, trying to figure out the best way to organise everything.   

Sometimes it just takes time to get things right and it can be a bit of a process of working out what works best for you. So let me take you through how I went about this organisation mission. 

Inspiration

As my regular readers know I love to use Pinterest to get ideas, it's a fabulous "visual google". I have a board all about Kitchen and Pantry Organisation in which I have got lots of great idea content. Fair to say that I have spent a wee bit of time searching through #pantryorganisation pins and got lots of inspiration.....like some of those pantries are off the charts!!! however I would question how practical they actually are. 

For me I love getting inspiration that helps to make things more functional at the same time as looking gorgeous darling!

I have been inspired to try and use as much glass jars for storage as possible.  In my old pantry, below, I got rid of a lot of old plastic containers, however as you can see in the picture below there are a few still to change over.

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The main goal for the new pantry was to get everything in one place and make it really accessible. I do like to see as much of my pantry items as it's a really good way to be on top of what to buy.

Declutter

OK this is fancy way of saying pull everything out of the space and sort it out!. So that is just what I did, got everything out of the pantry as well as the items I had elsewhere in the kitchen that I wanted to house in the pantry.

Once I had everything out on the bench tops I was able to go through and sort out what we actually needed and still used. This is also a good time to check the expiry dates and get rid of anything that has expired.

Lastly I took advantage to give the pantry shelves, all the drawers and corner cupboard a clean. TIP: a simple clean up of a space can make it look a lot better and nicer to be in. 

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categorise

After sorting through all the items and getting rid of the unused and expired items, I categorised them. This is a really good way to help you work out how you want to store them when you put everything back. I also changed out my plastic containers to jars. I found that I have these main categories;

  • Baking items
  • Cereals and grains
  • Mixers, spices, seeds and nuts
  • Cooking stocks and seasonings
  • Tinned goods and jars
  • Snacks and spreads
  • Potatoes and onions

I also had non food items that I wanted to store in the pantry area;

  • Crock pot, toastie maker and steamers 
  • Water bottles and lunch containers
  • Baking tins
  • Food containers

So I've decluttered, cleaned and categorised everything, now the mission was to work out where to place them in the pantry. This is all about setting up good systems so you can keep your pantry organised all the time. And not just a one off burst of cleaning and sorting then back to a big mess again.

Ok so how I do this in any space, is to work out what you use and how often, this will guide you to where and when you need to have the items and how easy it is to get to them. TIP: if it's not easy to get to, your system will not work and you'll get a mess pretty quickly.

Storage and system

In my pantry I have the spaces for storage spread out between the shelves in the bench top pantry, three drawers below the bench and the corner cupboard which has two large shelves. The best access is the bench top shelves so I decided that I needed to put the items that we reach for daily on the first two shelves. In regards to the non food items I had already worked out the they are best housed in the corner cupboard as we only access these once a week or so.

Then lastly the three drawers which are deep and wide and really accessible. The thing with the drawers is that you need to be able to see the items easily by looking down not straight ahead or up as in the pantry and I had the perfect solution for that, label the top of the jars.

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So here is the system I decided on

Bench top pantry

  1. Top shelf - Baking goods
  2. Middle shelf - Tinned goods and jars
  3. Bottom shelf - Spreads and snacks, Cereals and grains

Corner Cupboard

  1. Top shelf - Crock pot, toastie maker and steamers 
  2. Bottom shelf - Lunch containers, baking tins, potatoes and onions
pantry_corner_cupboard.png

 

Drawers

  1. Top drawer-  Spices, seeds and nuts 
  2. Middle drawer - Cooking stocks and seasonings
  3. Bottom drawer - Food containers
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The actual bench top houses our smoothie machine, toaster (Pete loves his toast!) and the grotty old microwave, which still works fine and no sense in replacing just coz it looks ugly.  What I did do though is put a tray on the top of the microwave and placed my two most used cookbooks there for easy reach!  

The true test of the kitchen pantry organisation is how the rest of the family like it and work with it. For me that's Pete, it's got to work for him too, so each time through the process of organising I'd check with him and reorganise. There were a few things I changed thanks to his suggestion. I'd totally recommend that you involve the members of your family in this process, this will really make it work well.

I am very pleased to say that this new pantry layout and system is working really well and best of all I have everything in the same area which is what I wanted. It's  really simply, decluttered and easy to use, hmmm just given myself a pat on the back!!

Before I sign off here are a couple of tips;

TIP 1 - Figure out your solution

When you are wanting to organise a space, take time to think through these questions

  1. What the situtation?
  2. What's the problem with it?
  3. Why is it a problem? 
  4. What do I need to fix the problem?

TIP 2 - Donate

If you have any tinned goods or dried goods that you are not using any more, donate them (as long as within expiry date). Most local supermarkets have a donation box.

TIP 2 - Move to refillables (reduce your waste)

Also think about using refillables, (bring in your own containers) we are moving away as much as we can from plastic and packaging, it's a work in progress and I could and will do a post on this. Here in my neighbourhood there are a couple of really good stores that provide great options for refillables, GoodFor is now located in Takapuna and has stores in Parnell and Ponsonby and The Source Bulk Foods NZ is located in Milford as well as Kumeu. There is also the long standing Bin Inn, which Pete and I used a lot when the kids were young and money was tight and it was not fashionable to be refilling.....funny how times change...however I totally support all ways to increase reuse, recycle and refill ...I mean our children's, children are depending on it!

So that's me done, hope you found some good ideas and tips and as always I'd love to here from you about your pantry organisation.

I will be doing more posts about other areas in the kitchen that I organise and will certainly be doing more about my reuse, recycle and refill journey, so make sure that you stay tuned by signing up to my newsletter, love to have you join us.

Happy tidying!

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Kitchen Undersink cabinet organisation

To be sure this is not the first time that  I have done a blog about organising things under the kitchen sink cabinet. My previous post Taming the mess under the sink takes you through how I had things organised in our old kitchen and the process I went through to get things sorted.  Now that I have a new kitchen it's time to review this cabinet space again and get it working even better.

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Use of space

When we moved back into the kitchen I just put things back into the kitchen sink cabinet in the pretty much the same way that we had it in the old kitchen, and I didn't really think that I would need to make any changes. However I have found that we started using things differently and some things I just didn't use anymore.

One of the biggest changes is that I now have two shelves and where as in the old kitchen I had just the bottom shelf in the cabinet. I also had to use the sides of the doors to place things, like washing up gloves, brushes, plugs etc. In the new kitchen under sink cabinet the second shelf has turned out to be a great place to store those items I had on the side doors.

The one thing that I found was not working as well was how I organised my kitchen cleaning products. I use a mix of my own home cleaners plus new products that I have received with my new kitchen, such as stainless steel cleaner and stonebenchtop cleaner. I had these stored in different places in the cabinet and it was a bit of a pain not to have them in one place.

I also managed to collect a lot of nice new tea towels and could no longer keep all of them in the original container, plus I have a some drying mats that I now use on the side of the sink.

There were a few containers that I had kitchen cleaning items in, that I found I just was not using any longer. Lastly I was getting frustrated with my storage of my essential oils, it was not ideal and I really wanted to get them into one storage container.

So I set about planning how I wanted to reorganise this space. I also thought that it would be a great opportunity to try and pare down what I really need under the sink and reduce the amount of stuff that I had and so created my wish list;

  • Replace disposable dishcloths with washable cotton dishcloths 
  • Store all the kitchen cleaning products together 
  • Better storage for all my essential oils
  • Better place for the dishcloths and tea towels
  • Reuse storage and organisation containers from my home
  • Replace the container for the dishtabs as it had a broken top
  • Container for the Steelo (pot scrubbers)
  • Somewhere to put the gloves, brushes, plugs etc.
  • Place to house plant food 

STORAGE AND CONTAINERS

It just so happened that Pete and I checked out some hospice shops recently and I came upon some great storage finds that were perfect for the under sink kitchen cabinet; a tin caddy , glass jewellery container and small bowl.

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The tin container is perfect for the kitchen cleaners and even has a handle on it which is perfect so I can just take the whole thing out when doing the cleaning. Best of all I was able to corral all my kitchen cleaners into the one container.

The small bowl turned out to be just the right size to hold the sponges and plugs and it sits within the original container so I can have the gloves and bowl altogether.

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But I've kept the best to last, the glass jewellery box for $3 turned out to be the perfect essential oils container.  The lid was broken which was fine by me as I didn't need it anyway.  I put in all my essential oils which are easy to see and I can also hold the other bits and bobs that I use with my oils. I have to say I am so happy with this find.

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For the rest of the containers I just used what I already had and found some unused glass jars for the dish tabs and the Steelo.

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If you don't have any existing containers and need to purchase them here are my best picks, from Amazon for my Northern hemisphere readers and Kmart for us Kiwi and Aussie readers. I have tried to find similar products to those that I have used. 

Amazon

Kmart

LAYOUT

When working through organising a space, it is really important to make it really functional, If it's not functional then it will not be long until the space gets messy again. 

The first step in the organising process, for me, is to take everything out and map out how I think the space can work well. Thinking about the things I use and how I use them, how I will store them. This process really helps me to decide the best layout. 

So after a bit of fiddling around I struck upon the new and perfect (may I just say) layout.

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The top shelf was best to hold those items that you reach for often, like dishcloths, gloves, scrubbers etc.  In the middle, under the sink I put the everyday sink items, rubber glovers and sponge bowl, then the dishcloths one side and the cleaning cloths on the other.

On the bottom shelf, at the back I have the plant food as I only need to access these once a month.  In the front I have the kitchen cleaners all corralled in the tin container. In the middle is all my essential oils and on the other side are my jars with the dish tabs, steelo and disposable gloves.

 

I have moved all the tea towels to the linen cupboard and they have their own, bigger, storage basket. You will see this when I get to do my Linen closet reorganisation. 

I have not changed my above sink storage , as per my previous post, however I will be making changes on this soon and will reveal that when I do a full review of my overall kitchen organisation.

I am really happy with how I have gotten everything organised this time and did manage to tick everything off my wish list.

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So how is your under sink cabinet? Need a good clean out? Need motivation or help? Just drop me a line as I am happy to chat about best options. or just share your great ideas.

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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. 

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    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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