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
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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.

Want to see more kitchen organisation and other home organisation? Stay tuned by signing up below, to my newsletter where I share even more great ideas and content. 

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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

Fact sheet 1 image

Quick and simple cleaning tips to stop soap scum build up

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Stay clean!!! until next time

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How to make a tiny space a great place to live

One of our long term retirement goals is to go "tiny", get ourselves a Tiny home and enjoy the freedom that it gives you, so you can jump into the next adventurous stage of your life. However living tiny can be a bit scary so getting a trial run at it would be good. And that is just what we are doing over the next three months....we've going Tiny!, downsizing , whatever you like to call it.

This came about due to our major house renovations and the need to actually stay in the home (renting just wasn't an option).  We were fortunate to have a downstairs space, our entertainment room, that we could use to live in, approx 60sqm.  So we have essentially downsized and moved into this area. So far it has been a very interesting and a surprisingly fun experience...3 months on it may not be as fun..time will tell. 

The first challenge was deciding on what to take.  Actually it was more of what not to take as the restriction of space really forced you to think what was actually essential and what was a nice to have.  So far this journey has taught me how little we actually need and use on a daily basis in comparison to the amount of stuff that we actually have.

To help me work out the need vs want I essentially "zoned" the area and worked from there. It took me a while to figure out the zones and how they would best work in terms of layout. I came up with the following zones;

  • Kitchen
  • Bathroom
  • laundry
  • living/TV
  • Dinning
  • Reading
  • Coffee station
  • Chick zone

Kitchen/Bathroom/Laundry

Yes a normal house would have all of these seperate however in our tiny space they are all in one, in other words they share the same space. 

This was the hardest area to work with as it is sooo small but needed a lot in it to make it functional.

I started with the Bathroom, using a plant to divide the bathroom from the kitchen area. In this area I used a small corner table to store bathroom essentials, making sure that I used only exisiting storage and furniture. It's tight but all we need for two people. 

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Under the sink I put the kitchen cleaning and towels etc on one side and the other the bathroom items. I had to sort out and clear out a lot of items from the actual kitchen and two bathrooms and decide what to take with us. The limitation of room simply forces you to be ruthless. I thought I was pretty good being clutter free but I have seriously ramped up that skill.  

The bench top space is very small but needed to have those things we use a lot. To help with space I corralled the toaster, jug,chopping boards and blender and beside the sink we have the dish rack!!! Yes there is no dishwasher well actually there is and it's me and Pete but no machine so the one thing I did purchase was a dish rack. 

I have to say the real blessing in this area was the laundry cupboard. I took all the non essential laundry items and stored them in the basement. This meant that I could use that space for a pantry and it works perfectly. However like all other spaces I had to seriously downsize the pantry contents. 

We have used Pete's beer fridge as our fridge with the Microwave on top and on top of that is all the laundry kit, again corralled.

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Out in the main area we got a large piece of wood and covered the pool table and created a kitchen island, now that was a genius move right there. I used a couple of shelves, one for the glasses and plates and the other for cooking equipment and other essential kitchen items. I have to say it all works really well. 

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So boom that's the Kitchen, Laundry and Bathroom !

Living and Dinning

We have these two very ugly lazy boy chairs but boy they are the most comfortable chairs I have ever sat in. I have used a couple of nice throw rugs to disguise the ugliness, put a wee table in between them and that is the living and TV zone. Behind the chairs I have separated the areas with a small cabinet. This is now the dining room zone, use of a large rug and a small dinning table in the corner really helps to zone this space. Also in front of the "Kitchen island", I have put the hall table with pot plants, this makes the separation from the Kitchen zone and the dinning room. 

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Oh and I told Pete that when we actually downsize we are taking those chairs!!!  Can you ever describe a chair as heaven?

Reading and Coffee Station

This may well sound a bit silly however to make this space work for us and to ensure Pete's health and wellbeing, the ability to have a good reading area and more importantly his coffee machine was absolutely essential rather critical really!.  It took me a bit of thinking to get the coffee station sorted...actually stumped me for a while, then I struck upon the idea of using the TV corner unit. The unit was going to be stored away and unlikely to be used again in the new lounge. So it was a great opportunity to recycle it. It fitted everything on it perfectly, like it was made to be a coffee station. I could even store the coffee and tea supplies in the wee cupboard. And next door to this I just set up his reading nook, using the piano area as a shelf.  

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Chick Zone 

Ok ladys, I am sure that you would understand this, I like to have a nice space where I get ready in the morning. Now I did not think that I would be able to create what I term the "chicks zone". However there was an area in the corner of the room that has a large mirror and that inspired me to create my chick zone there. I used an old dresser that again was going to be put into storage.  Placing my yummy pink sheepskin on the floor finished it off nicely.  I really love this space and it's my wee sanctuary in the morning.

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Learnings

I think it's now week three in the "tiny" space and I have to say it's surprisingly comfortable. Pete and I have got into our new routine of living in the confined space. You are close to each other a lot so it's a good thing that I love hanging out with him. Juggling the one sink in the morning is sometimes a bit of a battle as we both go to work at the same time. I do find it a bit annoying being constantly interrupted when at the sink!!! something I am working on!. 

Enjoy those things that bring you joy! My initial plan was to pack up most of the ornaments etc, however it was actually quicker for me to just take the items downstairs into the new space. I actually really enjoyed how I could make the areas familiar and nice with our things. I did have to select only those that I really liked, and that was in fact an easy job.

Although we have managed to put a lot of furniture and things into our new "Tiny" space there is a lot in storage! Which makes me realise how much we do not use and question the need. To be honest I do not surround myself with a lot of clutter and living tiny has taught me how to focus in on what is actually really important and meaningful. I know that when it comes to moving back into the renovated area there will be big purges going on.

Cooking is certainly the biggest challenge and it is hard to try and maintain a good amount of home cooking. The only cooking appliance we have is an electric fry pan. Thank goodness it is summer and BBQ season so we can at least enjoy eating outside and yummy BBQ food. Also my summer crops are coming into full production so we have got good supplies for salads and the stir fry dishes. Meal planning has really helped us with this challenge. I think that if we didn't mean plan we would be eating out or getting takeaways every night. For those interested you can check out our "tiny living" meal planners in my fb meal planners page  7nightsaweek

The last note and one of the best is the significantly reduced cleaning that I need to do. It is bliss not have to clean such a big house. I am amazed at how quick I can wizz around and have the place clean. I can actually do all the zone cleaning in one go! However one thing that you learn quickly is that you can't just leave things lying around as there simply is no space, so you have to learn to put things away as soon as you finish with them. There are some members of the family who are still challenged by that.

I will be sharing more photos of the renovations and our tiny space on my social media so make sure that you follow my social media sites, just click on the links below

In the new year I will be doing another giveaway, something to help you keep your home clean and tidy consistently and with effective use of your time! Now that's a good new years goal!. Make sure you subscribe to my newsletter if you have not already so you can me in to win!.

 

I hope you all have a fabulous Christmas and I'll see you all back in the new year. 

Stay safe

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Taming the mess under the sink

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

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Clear it out

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

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

Sort it out

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

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

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

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Store it 

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

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

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

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

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

Lay it out

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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How I created a Command Centre

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

 

What is a Command Centre?

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

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

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

My Command Centre

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

 

Bag Zone

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

Mail and Calendar Zone

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

The central zone

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

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

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

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

 

WHY it works

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

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

ADDED BONUS - COVERS FOR FOLDERS

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

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

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

 

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

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

Happy organising my friends

How I organized a small wardrobe

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

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

 Before and After

Before and After

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

The goal

In short there were two things we needed to achieve;

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

The plan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

The Design

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

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

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

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Putting it all together

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love to hear from you on any wardrobes stories.

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

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How I created my awesome cleaning kit and homemade cleaners

I expect that it's no surprise to my readers, and anyone looking at my site, that I am a bit of a cleaning freak. This, I blame on my first part time job while at High school. It was for a couple who owned a motel, which had a lot of fishing boat workers stay, a port town you see. So you can imagine the state the rooms would get in. Mrs Owner was a very particular cleaner and taught me how to really clean....."it's all about the detail my dear".  However we always had an arsenal of high powered cleaning products so that's what I learnt to use. It was not really until about 12 months ago that I awoke to the toxic elements in my cleaners!!!. That had to change!

 

My Cleaners

General purpose cleaner, Jiff , window cleaner, toilet cleaner, and shower cleaner were the products that I used. Therefore I needed to look at replacing all of these, and I wanted to make them myself. After a bit of online research I had my cleaners all sorted.......actually it was really simple all I needed was two ingredients, Baking Soda and Vinegar. You can essentially clean everything with these two ingredients. I sourced my ingredients from Figgy & Co to make up my cleaning products:

  • General Cleaner / Figgy Disinfect Spray- 1/3 Vinegar to 2/3 water
  • Scourer / Figgy Cleaning paste- Baking soda in a jar with drops of Lavender Essential Oil
  • Tap cleaner - Water with Tea tree Oil
  • Deodoriser Spray - Water with Lavender Oil
  • Toilet Cleaner - Figgy Toilet Cleaning powder 
  • Polishing oil - CO Products 

I use the general cleaner for all surfaces including mirror and glass, also it's my floor cleaner. It is very effective, just spray it on the surface, but don`t over apply, wait for a few seconds (which apparently you should do with all cleaners) and just wipe off. I use a damp or dry cloth, just depends on the situation. As an example every night after tea I have a kitchen cleaning routine where I just use my general cleaner and a damp cloth to clean all the surfaces, sink, microwave, hob area, fridge and coffee machine. Then for glass and mirrors I use a dry cloth with the general cleaner.

The scourer I use for scrubbing the kitchen sink, showers and bathroom sinks once a week.  I sprinkle it over the area then spray the general cleaner on it a bit as the Vinegar in it helps "activate" it. Then just get a scrubbing brush and scrub away. It's not hard work with a brush and only takes a couple of minutes. The tap cleaner is used on....you guessed it the taps. I just spray on after cleaning the sinks and surfaces then use the toothbrush to get into joins etc on the taps. You see this is all about the details here folks!!! 

I also use the Deodoriser spray for scent and not as a cleaner. So I only use it after all the surfaces are cleaned. I tend to only use on desk and table tops as it leaves a lovely smell.

My two products that I buy are the toilet cleaner and Polishing Oil.  I use the polishing oil once a month on my wooden furniture as it provides moisture and seems to reduce the dust build up. It has linseed oil in it which is why it's so good. Also as a handy hint it is great on stainless steel. I have used it for years on all stainless surfaces in the kitchen, including the fridge, it's great and it's cheap and you can get it at any supermarket and online at CO Products.

Now I only essentially use two products made from two ingredients which I buy from Figgy & Co online. OMG the savings. I can not believe how much you save. 

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There some great natural cleaners that you can buy if you don`t want to make your own. I would look at Eco Store . They have great cleaning products that are made here in NZ and are certainly chemical free and have a lot less impact on the environment. They have a great Website and online shop.           

Also check out Figgy & Co fantastic products made by two talented women and made here in NZ too, they are a newer company so would appreciate the support and they are also online. Plus they have a free recipe booklet that you can get to make your own products...fab really.     

My tools

All good tradies have great tools. I am still perfecting mine, well mainly the scrubbing brush as I am still to find a good one and not a cheap plastic number!  The tools I find really helpful are toothbrushes, good scrubbing brush and window wiper. I came across this great idea of using toothbrushes from a Youtube channel, At Home with Nikki. These are great for cleaning in those hard to reach places. 

 

Facecloths are my cleaning rag of choice, these are easily reused over and over again. I just soak mine in Eco Store stain remover and hot water before throwing them in the wash. 

For my windows, inside and out, I simply use a bucket of warm water, a cloth (old cotton tea towel) and the window wiper. No streaks, just beautiful clear and clean windows. 

Another couple of helpful tools are Blind cleaner and Lint roller. These I do get from the $2 shops however they are reusable so not too wasteful. The Blind cleaner is essential if you have venetian blinds, just pop them in the wash afterwards and good to go again. The Lint roller is perfect for getting dust off surfaces like Lamp shades, duvets, decorative pillows, also really helpful when ironing (well that's if anyone Irons anymore?) It's certainly better than wrapping inside out cellotape around your fingers.

 

Lastly in my kit I have a couple of reusable microfiber cloths that attach to a duster and a floor cleaner. This is all I use to clean the floors and dust weekly, quick and easy.

My Caddy

A one stop shop was essential for my kit. I wanted a container that I was able to pick up and take around the house.  It actually took me a while to find one, I did not think it would be such a hard job. I eventually found one big enough to store what I needed and easy to take with me. This one at Bunnings is similar to what I have, again it's not expensive. 

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As a final note I do try and make my cleaning kit "pretty", what I mean by that is to coordinate my colours in my products and tools. I know that sounds stupid but let's face it cleaning is a job we all avoid. So why not make it more enjoyable, by having a kit that is nice to look at, you never know, it might make you a bit more motivated.

I would love to hear what's in your kit, have you got any Grandma remedies that work wonders? 

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