Sunday, 12 April 2009

Clothes in the mornings

This is just going to be a quick post about household organisation. In particular, it's about getting dressed in the mornings.

When I was little, I think I was obsessive compulsive. I used to make my quilt flat with a ruler and none of my friends were allowed to sit on it. I also used to lay out my clothes each night for the next day, so they looked like a little person. I don't know what my mum thought of this, but if my daughter ever starts doing anything like it I'll tell her to relax.

So anyway, as I grew up I became much more relaxed about preparing for the next day, so much so that I never prepared clothes anymore. I'd simply have a shower and then go to my room and take clothes at random and throw them together. And I enjoyed thinking that I was being relaxed about it, as if I didn't care.

But last night as I was tidying up the house after my baby girl went to sleep, I got to the bedroom and thought to lay out my husband's clothes for the morning, so he wouldn't disturb the baby while he's rifling through his cupboard. Then, while I was at it, I thought I may as well lay my own clothes out too. I didn't think much of it, but I put a pale green t-shirt out with my pink and grey track pants. I knew we'd be staying around the house today, so those clothes are perfect.

This morning as I was on the way to the shower, I just leaned over and took the clothes from where they were laid, and I cannot even begin to tell you how relaxed I felt. Just that tiny bit of work that I'd done the night before really made me feel at ease. I felt that there was no rushed decision to be made, and no searching through the cupboards while I attempted to get shower before my baby awoke. I do have to rush my showers these days with a little one.

So that's what I'm going to do each night: put clothes out for all of us here. To make the mornings just that little bit easier.

Happy dressing :)

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Oh my glove

Ok, so I had a heart attack this morning.... but in a good way.

I opened my brand new packet of Chux Extra Comfort Sensitive Skin gloves. The gloves I splashed out $4 for instead of the usual 97cent trash I buy.....

They're purple.

They fit my tiny hands perfectly.

The inside is thick and velvety and soft.

The grippy parts on the fingers and palms are swirly and cute.

There is a flower pattern and spots around the cuff.

I'm in love, I'm in love, I'm in love!

Why didn't I buy $4 gloves before??

I don't know if I want to use them to clean though... they're too good for cleaning!!

...Maybe I'll get another pair and keep these for "good", just for dusting :)

Sweep relief

Today I found a new form of therapy; I swept my side path, well, the path that leads down the side of the house to my front door.

I'd bought a new outdoor broom on the weekend. My husband commented to me that it was one that witches use. Well, it is, but I'm no witch.

I haven't ever swept my side path in the two or so years I've lived here. I know that might sound terrible but it's not near any overhanging trees and the tall fence beside it keeps a lot of the dirt out. There was quite a bit of fine sand in the end, but not as much as there could have been.

The neighbours, the people who live in the front of the house, had one of their old aunts over from the Phillippines last year and the year before and she spent her days outside, tidying the garden and sweeping with her handmade broom. She was very sweet and even used to hang my washing for me. I was very spoilt and never got into the habit of sweeping. Before this house I lived in an apartment and we had a maintenance man who took care of the gardens and paths there.

But I feel so proud now of sweeping my own path. It might not seem like much but when we walked down it this afternoon I felt fresher and it looked so tidy that I felt proud. It makes me want to keep all the rest of my house much tidier too... some days I'm a little lax.

I also love the motion of the sweep with this broom. It's not like using the inside broom where you just push, it's really a sweep, across the body. It's got to be good exercise. I'm going to try to sweep as often as I can. I'll leave the broom right there where I can't miss it so I can sweep at the drop of a hat, lol.

Do you like to sweep? Have you been avoiding it until now? Give it a go and let me know if it makes you feel better :)

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

My favourite household products

Earth Choice products.
These are Australian cleaning products made from plant derivatives. I especially love the Multi-Purpose spray. It smells a little like pear juice but very faint, and I use it several times a day on my benches in the kitchen, and when I clean the bathroom sink area. I also love their washing detergents and clothes wash. They're biodegradable and smell very fresh. These products will clean anything and leave your place smelling fresh, without harming the environment.

Pine O Cleen disinfectant
Pine O Cleen leaves your floors smelling delicious and feeling clean. I especially love the Pot Pourri fragrance for my tiles.

Air Wick Sparkling Citrus spray
This product makes visits to the bathroom sweeter and its citrus fragrance is heavenly. My husband suggested it and I never thought I'd want my bathroom to smell like lemons and oranges but it's actually ideal. It gives a very clean and crisp note.

Jif Cream Cleanser
My mum always used Jif, but in the powder form. Now I love the new cream cleansers, especially the lemon one in the yellow container. They smell fresh and give just enough scuff to get the stubborn marks out of the bathroom.

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Laundry work

Today I want to write about the laundry.

It is a place that I love to be, cleaning and handwashing my favourite things -my clothes. Sometimes the laundry space may get a bit messy and need a re-shuffle. I'm going to write this post in the hope of inspiring myself, and you, to head into the laundry room and make it a better place to be.

If you live in shared housing, like an apartment block, you might be sharing a laundry with your neighbours. If so, the only tip I really have is to keep the machine clean by giving it an empty wash every few weeks or so. When you do this make sure you empty any filters and chuck a scoop of washing powder or detergent into the machine before you run it without clothes. This helps keep the machine fresher and your clothes cleaner.

If you have your own laundry it will be easier for you to keep it tidy and you won't need to run an empty wash as often. I do one once every couple of months, and try to empty the filter more often. I also notice a lot of lint that builds up around the edge of my machine and I try to wipe it off using a cleaning spray as often as possible. The best way to do it is to give it a spray and then a quick wipe with a piece of your dark dirty laundry and then put the wash on.

If you have a dryer, make sure you clean the lint off the cover every time you use it. I can't stress this enough. If you have too much lint your machine may overheat and spark into a fire. Also make sure the room your dryer is in is well-ventilated and never leave the dryer on when you're not home. It's a hot appliance and should be treated like a stove, iron or toaster. Always stay so you can stop a fire should one ever start. I know too many people who go out and leave their dryers on. If you burn your house down you'll never get it back, and if you live in an apartment block that's just irresponsible. Safety first.

I have a lot of clutter around my machine sometimes too. I have too many bottles of stain sprays and half empty bottles of washing detergent. Here's what to do
-find a box you can sit beside your washer or under the sink and put the items you love in it. For example, in a red container next to my machine I have my Earth Choice washing liquid, a bottle of stain removal spray, and a bottle of conditioner. I try to use up the leftovers of spare bottles every now and then. They seem to build up because just before I've finished using something I buy another one and then I start using the new one before I've finished the old.

If you have any additional things you don't have places for, like fabric soap, see if you can attach a small shelf to the wall above your machine or sink. I have a metal shelf attached to the wall in my laundry and although it is small I can fit the plug for the basin and the wierdly shaped box of laundry powder I bought on special a week or so ago. It is very handy for odds and ends, even things I find in my husband's pockets.

Make an effort to keep the area tidy and sweep and mop your floor in there every week or so. That's something I should definitely do more often, but because my laundry is outside it's easy to forget when I'm doing the house.

To make your clothes clean you want to start with a fresh and clean space.

Happy washing!!
(I love doing the laundry!!)

Sunday, 22 March 2009

Occasional ants

This post is not so much about cleaning as it is about something I have observed in my house.

I have occasional ants. That's not to say that I occasionally see ants, but rather that I see the occasional ant, here or there.

There are no crumbs around, there is no water (it's hot like summer here despite our current season of supposed autumn). There is nothing for them to do. I simply see them walking around, as if they are but strolling in a pretty meadow. Perhaps an ant who came here once when there was food around thought it was a nice place to be. Perhaps he put up fliers in his hometown and sells maps to our place to ants who like to go on holiday. It might read "Are you looking for somewhere to go, away from the ant-race? One bedroom secluded getaway packages available for the adventurous ant. Call Tony, on 555-HOUSE-2-WANDER."

I can imagine them now, ants who just like to stay home and read, packing up their little rucksacks and climbing hills and crossing roads alone to get to our house, their little maps held out in front of them.

Don't get me wrong, I love having a guesthouse for ants. I love that they love coming here. What I don't get, is that I'm not getting anything of the profits. Little Tony's got it all set up and I don't know where to find him.

But gee they're cute, my occasional ants. I point them out to my baby daughter and hide them from my husband. If he saw them, he'd put ant sand all around the place. He'd ruin their getaway completely.

They're just our secret. You and me and my baby girl and the occasional ants.

Saturday, 7 March 2009

Cut clutter with piles

One of the best tips I can give for removing the sense of clutter from any room, is to make piles.
-After you have de-cluttered the area initially, of course.

I have a friend who is a clutter maniac. She hoards everything, but she does it very well. And while I don't condone what she does (the hoarding) at least she does it neatly.

In her loungeroom you can find a plethora of rugs. Even too many rugs for a 5 seater lounge, you might say. But they are pretty rugs, and they are folded and stacked neatly at one end of her L-shaped lounge. They look neat and attractive and it makes me want to come home and pull rugs out of my cupboard to stack neatly.

In her bedroom, you will find an enormous array of clothes. I think she has kept every dress she bought since 1985, when she was 7. Yes, she's a pretty dress kind of girl. But she colour-co-ordinates her wardrobe and folds the jumpers she can't fit in her drawers neatly on a mat in the corner of her room. It looks more like a display than clutter. It is pretty, and it makes me want to buy a pretty display mat for my room.

In her bathroom, she has an excessive amount of bath toys that belong to her nephews. She piles them into mesh bags that suction onto the walls above her bath. They have become organised mess rather than a pile of clutter.

And in her kitchen, she stores an enormous array of food. It is almost too much food for someone who lives alone, you might say. But she does this neatly too. She piles her food up in the refrigerator and in her cupboards in labelled Decor containers. It looks inviting, it looks colourful and interesting, and it makes me want to invest in 1000 decor contsiners. But I think she bought all the ones they made in the last year.

So she is an example that you can have a lot of stuff, if you just keep it neat and tidy. Stack it in piles, organise it well in groups of like things, and your house can look very homely. When I go to her place I always feel like I'm in a very rich space. I don't feel claustrophobic, as I can see the floor and the windows, but while she's got a lot of stuff she stores and displays it well.

Store like items together
Try storing like colours together for better presentation, here and there (don't do your whole place because that could just look weird.... a green corner and a red corner... not like that! Don't go overboard.), or just stack all sorts of colours together to create a tidy rainbow.

At the moment I am employing this strategy to get stop the clutter my baby's many books are threatening to create. I simply stack the books at the end of my dining table (this time in size, one pile for extra large, and another for middle sized)
and when I look at them they seem inviting, not a burden or annoyance. Piles make you want to see what's in them, not hide the things. If you can fold and stack neat enough, away you go!!

Clear clutter by creating piles

Keeping the kitchen tidy

I have a very small kitchen. It's new, but it is very tiny. I found it difficult to keep it tidy for a very long time, until I recently de-cluttered it and created a cleaning up system.

When I was single I lived in the same place, and it was easy then. I ate toast for dinner and had cooked breakasts in the morning before work. What I essentially did was tidy up once a day and it was easy. It was just me, and I wasn't very messy. I didn't have much stuff.

What makes it harder for me to keep the area tidy now, especially since I have a husband who is oblivious to his constant creation of mess and a baby who is forever going through my drawers, is that the kitchen is just inside the front door. It's the first room of the house. We live in the back of an actual house and our front (and only) door is at the side of the main house. This means that when my husband comes home from work he dumps his dusty work bag beside the refrigerator or in the doorway to the loungeroom. Ok, it is a small house, but it;s not so small that we can't put things away. We actually have an enormous bedroom straight off the kitchen which has more than enough space for his bits and pieces of an afternoon.

So anyway, back to the kitchen, the task at hand.

I cleaned up my kitchen a few weeks ago by doing the following:
-I got down on my hands and knees and emptied cupboard after cupboard until they were de-cluttered. I threw all the junk out. I organised where the saucepans should go, where the cleaning products fit under the tiny sink, and I threw away boxes of teabags I haven't touched for 2 years.
-Then I took all the clutter off the benches. After a while some things had just stayed on the countertops when they could have been put away. For example, I use my toaster now about once every 3-4 months, I'm just not eating much toast at the moment, so I put it in the corner cupboard next to the sink where it's no longer in the way. I kept my kettle where it was and now I have much more room to chop vegetables without the annoying toaster and the sugar container that I've since moved in with the teas and coffee I'm currently fond of.

On the other side of my oven I had a nice lot of bench, but it was constantly cluttered with muck. I had a tray I used for fruit but it just kept piling up with receipts and there was never much fruit around there anyway.
-What I do now is that I makes sure any important receipts, for returnables or clothes, go straight into my receipt drawer in my desk. And I have taken all the bits and pieces of clutter away, either put them in the bin or put them in pretty display bowls in my loungeroom if they were cute enough.

And a big problem I used to have was with washing up clutter. With my husband and baby girl here I just never got into a good routine before.
Now, I wash up after breakfast, and each other meal throughout the day, and as Flylady advises I make sure that my sink is sparkling before I go to bed. This way I wake up to a clean kitchen and I try harder then not to let it degenerate over the course of the day. I wash up regularly, I put the dry things away when they're dry, and the whole place just feels cleaner. I've found a home for everything and, most importantly of all for me, my benches are clear so that I can use the space better when I need to prepare dinner.

So, in summary;
-Keep your benches clear from clutter. Don't allow it to build up.
-Find homes for all your stuff. If you don't have room in your cupboards, go through and chuck out what you haven't used in a while. You'll definitely be able to clear up some space.
-Find a system that works for you, depending on your schedule. I'm home all day but if you can't wash up after breakfast due to shortness of time, at least stack the rinsed dishes neatly until you do get to them.

And try to sweep out your kitchen once a day if you can. The floor won't look half as bad when the crumbs and rice have been cleared.

Friday, 6 March 2009


Today I will write about my favourite thing: De-cluttering.

I've read a lot of books on de-cluttering and I feel that many of them are way too indepth. They talk of getting a specific number of baskets or boxes and then systematically working through the clutter.

But my advice to you is as follows.

I think it is best to start with a fresh bare space, and build it back up from there. So if you want to de-clutter your desk, take everything off it and out of it, put it all on the floor, and choose what you want to keep. Put the things you don't want into a big trash bag to be sorted out later. Don't look at them again.

Once you have chosen what you really need/want or love from the pile, find homes for things. Stack the drawers neatly with your notebooks and files, and use an oganising tray to keep all those fiddly pens, erasers and pencils and stickers tidy while they are out of sight.

Make sure you tackle each area individually. Set yourself a goal to tackle the mess one place at a time; the desk, the kitchen bench, the bathroom cupboards, or your wardrobe. And do each job properly before you start the next. If you stop and start all over the place you'll never feel a real sense of achievement and then you'll give up halfway through. Finish de-cluttering each post before you start the next.

And then with your spare junk, sort it out. Work out what is good enough to give away, what can be recycled, and then what needs to be chucked. I've read some advice that tells you to sort these things while you're cleaning up the space but I feel it is much better to do this step afterwards. Once your space is clear and clean and de-cluttered you will have much less of a feeling of attachment to these rejected things and it will be easier for you to sort them out. If you try to sort them while you're still cleaning, chances are you'll try to incorporate them into the space again. That's a no no!

I find it really easy to de-clutter, as I enjoy clearing junk out, but I have sentimental attachments to lots of little bits and pieces. I find special drawers and nooks and crannies for these special things, but sometimes I find myself holding onto items just for the sake of it. I have a green ornamental pot, for example that I still cannot part with because it says it was made in Italy and I found it at a charity shop. It is cute, but doesn't go with any of my stuff. I feel sick just thinking that it is still here, and I know that the day that I relinquish my attachment to it I will feel as though wings have been given to me. I should plan for the day to come soon!
-if you have anything like this that you are attached to, particularly if it is of a large size, try to plan for the day when you will rid yourself of the burden. Remember, a good way to tell if you should keep something or not is the way it makes you feel; if you look at an object decorating your television and it makes you feel a pain in your heart, it is a burden on you. Set it free!!

Happy de-cluttering!

Friday, 27 February 2009

Cleaning the floors

Ok, today I'll write about cleaning the floors because I just did mine, and I feel fabulous. And tired.

Anyway, my floors are all tile. That's right: our landlord is Italian. So what I do is first run a vacuum over the whole apartment, and then I get to the mopping (Don't you just love the pinoclean scented boiling-hot water?).

My advice for cleaning the floors is this:
-Try to tidy up as much as you can BEFORE you start vacuuming or mopping. This stops you having to do what I just did, which is hold the vacuum cleaner at bay while you one-handedly put toys away and try to tidy your bookshelves.
-Always have the additional spots you vacuum already clear from toys, like the lounge. I like to vacuum my lounge (ok, a lie, I think it is necessary to vacuum my lounge, to get all the crumbs from the baby's biscuits off it) so I try to have all the clutter from the lounge put away before I begin.
-Try to wipe down your coffee tables or benches and even do a little dusting before you begin vacuuming. There's nothing more annoying than cleaning your floors and then realising you haven't dusted for a year and then when you try to dust you get dirt all over your fabulous new tiles or carpet.
-Try to have already changed your bed or put your washing on for the day before you start cleaning the floors. That way you avoid additional dirt spillage (or in our case, hair from my husband) from coming out of the bedding onto your floor, or grass and lint from your washing from littering the way to the laundry room.

And when you are vacuuming, if you're thinking about something that needs to be cleaned but you think you'll just leave it for today (AGAIN) -just clean it!! Pull out that lounge and vacuum behind it. If you see that your skirting boards need dusting, go and get that damp cloth and wipe them. The little extra bits and pieces that you do today will save you thinking about them for weeks, and then in a few day's time you can do a quick once over, knowing that the spot behind the lounge is already bare. I avoided cleaning the chocolate milk off the tiles under our lounge for a few days (I had already wiped the visible lot) and by the time I got to it it was a hard sticky mess, like a candy stuck to my tiles. It took a hell of a lot of hot water to melt it down, and by the time I did I'd ruined my mop. If I'd done it the day it happened it would have been much easier, and I wouldn't have been thinking about it for days. I call this the guilt of cleaning procrastination; It will eat you alive from the inside!

When I mop my rules are just this:
-Only mop what you've already vacuumed or wiped. Otherwise, you get those dreadful wet dusty things all over the place -annoying!
-Mop well, mop quickly
-And make sure your water is boiling hot! If you're mopping wooden floors maybe don't do it too hot, but for tiles the hotter the better. And the hotter the water is, the better it cleans and the faster it dries, so you don't have to tiptoe around hoping you don't skid over for too long.

In conclusion I'll just summarise. Tidy up and clean up before you vacuum or mop. Then vacuum and mop well. Don't avoid things you know need to be cleaned. And if you do do the floors and then realise things need to be dusted or wiped, use a wet cloth to grab at the dirt and put your hand under the edge of your benches to stop extra spills.

Happy mopping!!

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Tidying the Bathroom

We will start with the bathroom because that is where we all feel most vulnerable. This is the room where the truth really comes out.

The bathroom sink area

Don't you love walking into a good quality hotel bathroom? Isn't it the nicest thing to see a bench with only the soap and a handtowel on it and all other mess out of sight (or not yet created by you)? So why not have that everyday in your own home?

Here's how.

I'm not going to give you a list of things to take away, piece by piece, until you're left with a smaller pile of mess. I see no point in that. What I will say to you is this:
Put everything from your bathroom counter on the floor. Study it. Decide what looks pleasant and what looks nasty. Then decide what you never use, and chuck it out or put it Freecycle.

Then simply place the few things you love back onto the counter and put the things that look a bit nasty or embarrassing or just plain boring into the cupboards and drawers.

Here's what I kept on my bathroom sink when I cleared it yesterday:
-A vase with fake flowers (for that feminine touch)
-my husband's 2 favourite colognes (for that sexy touch)
-the stylish cream and green tooth brush holder
-a pretty square jar holding cotton balls
-my perfume
-some gorgeous body balm

And that's it! I put everything else either away in the cupboard or in the trash.
Now when I walk into the bathroom I see a pristine place to wash and clean myself.

Bathroom cupboards and drawers
The area under and around the bathroom sink is often full of clutter, forgotten items and unused medicines. Get rid of it all. What you should keep is your stash of toilet paper(of course), bathroom cleaning supplies, the beauty products you cannot use every day, things like bath salts and scrubs and fake nails, your hoards of perfume for just in case there is ever a stink plague and you need to cover it, and your medicines.

The best idea is to stock your cupboards in some kind of order. For example: keep the toilet paper next to the bathroom cleaning supplies, and keep your medicines in a drawer all by themselves. This helps for easy access and helps prevent a build up of new clutter when you're rummaging around for things you can't find. And I've heard this rule many times before, and it is so so true: If you haven't used it in a year THROW IT AWAY!! That rainy day is never going to come so just chuck it out and give yourself the piece of mind just knowing that you have 5cm extra space in your bathroom cupboard.

In the drawers you should keep the beauty supplies that you use daily and some medicine. I went for a long time showing off my beauty products to all my visitors. I'd have my Clinique face wash out there and my Clinique toner and all my perfumes and makeup bags cluttering the stage. Now, I've got my everyday makeup in a bag to be pulled out of the drawer in one easy swipe, and it can be returned with the same amount of ease. That's the tip to keeping everything all sparkly and new like a hotel bathroom: when you've used it, put it away! Everything should go back in it's place.

Bathroom clutter
The bathroom is a great place to find clutter of the clothing kind. There may also be newspapers and books there too (ok, I'm guilty).

So here's what to do.

When you've had your shower in the morning or at night, or you've just bathed the kids, look behind you before you turn off the light. Take the clothes hanging over the clothes rail and either put them in the wash or take them to be put away in the bedroom. And if you must read on the toot, make a place for the papers. I have a friend who even has a clothes rail next to her toilet where a magazine can be hung. Or you could put a cute wooden chair in there, as I have, and put a little pile of books on it to amuse yourself. And if you don't have room to do these things, simply take the books back out of the bathroom when you've finished with them. Try to leave the room as you should find it on a good day.

For all other clutter surfaces, such as the side of the bathtub or in the shower or around the toilet, use the method as described above: clear and start fresh, then chuck out what you don't need and store what can be used later under the sink.

Happy Bathing!!


Welcome to my new blog.

This is to be a refreshing space, a place to find ways to clean the various parts of your house. I have just turned an obsession with finding my place in life into an obsession with cleaning, and I feel much relieved, full of optimism and ready to tackle the jobs that need to be done. I hope that you will join me.

I will be posting as often as I can to let you know of my current cleaning and clearing situation, as well as to advise on the ways I see best to tackle individual problem areas.

Onward and upward: I can hear the clutter calling.

Make your home a space that you'll enjoy being in