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Monthly Archives: September 2012

Cleaning Your Exhaust Fan Cover (It’s Super Easy!)

I had been putting off cleaning my exhaust fan cover (the one over the stove) for ages because, well, because it was kind of manky and greasy and gross. I’ll admit, last time it got cleaned I’m pretty sure my MIL did it for me.

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Totally gross, right.

But, since I’m doing my big top to bottom clean of the house over the next couple of months I didn’t want to leave any stone unturned, or surface uncleaned.

It turns out, I had nothing to procrastinate about as it is actually super easy to clean. Here’s how I did it:

1. Fill kitchen sink with hot water and vinegar.

2. Take off fan cover and place in hot water. Let it soak for about half an hour.

3. Make up a paste of bicarb soda and water and wipe it over cover using a damp cloth.

4. Replace clean white cover.

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I could have left it like that as it looked quite good, but I decided to get in between the little gaps to make it extra clean. I just used a cotton tip and a little more of the bicarb paste. It was a bit fiddly, but not too much extra work.

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Posted by on September 16, 2012 in Getting Organised, In the Kitchen

 

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Kitchen Reveal!

It’s finally time to reveal my kitchen!

BEFORE

AFTER

BEFORE (with bench in view)

AFTER

The Breakdown

– Obviously, to start with, having all the dishes done and cleared away helps a lot.

– As I mentioned in my last post, I cleared all the clutter that was ‘decorating’ my windowsill and simplified it. I think it helped open up the room.

– Every surface of my kitchen got a much needed clean, including the lights, exhaust fan cover and the blind. Obviously I wouldn’t need to be wiping down those things all the time, but I think every few months is probably a good idea as it makes the kitchen looks so much nicer. Plus it’s not really too big a job, it’s just something I don’t generally tend to think about or notice.

– The shelves were housing all of our glassware, which I’ve realised is just ridiculous because for one thing we never even use most of the glasses there and they were just collecting dust. Instead, I’ve got rid of all the glasses we don’t use (after all, we’re not really the cocktail party type and a few wine glasses is all we need) and put the rest away in the cupboard. Now the shelves house my cooking appliances, which I do use quite a lot and therefore are less likely to be dust collectors. I also am finding it is so much easier to grab the appliances off the shelf to use rather than pull everything out of the cupboard to get to the appliance I need.

– I liked our system of having two boxes on the fridge for our medication and the kids’ medication, but the recycled chip boxes I had been using were starting to fall apart and really weren’t very attractive. Instead I bought a couple of plastic tubs from the Reject shop. Not only do they look much nicer and won’t fall apart like a cardboard box, they also have lids, which means our medication containers won’t get covered in dust anymore.

– Over on the bench, I’ve cleared the shelf above, which had become a dumping ground for all kinds of junk. In the before pictures you can just see the black baskets on the bench which I had only just bought to help file papers which usually clutter up the bench, like mail, dockets and stuff that needs to be filed. I put the baskets on the newly cleared shelf so I have a bit more bench space. I have one basket for stuff that needs to be filed, one for stuff that needs hubby’s attention or I’m not sure whether I should toss it in case it’s something important, and the finally large basket is for other stuff I don’t want to toss, but it doesn’t have a home (like old invitations with phone numbers I want to keep or the instruction card for the heat pack).

– The fridge probably doesn’t look much different, but I did take down a lot of stuff, like old school notes. I also limited my kids’ artwork/school work to one piece each.

– I’m so excited to have a spot to keep my step stool! As a short person I need my step stool for reaching those high places, but the step stool never had a home. It didn’t seem to matter where it got put, we were always tripping over it. Now it fits nicely beside the fridge out of the way, but easy to grab.

I’m feeling really good about how the kitchen is looking. I think if I can keep on top of the dishes and give the whole kitchen a wipe down every so often I might just be able to keep it looking good.

There is still the more in-depth peek into my kitchen cupboards to come, but what do you think?

 
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Posted by on September 12, 2012 in Getting Organised, In the Kitchen

 

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Little Things That Make a Big Difference

Rise and shine: 6.00am

Chocolate consumed: A handful of Maltesers

Toilet timeouts: 0

On the menu:  Homemade crispy chicken strips and chips (usually Saturday is takeout night, but we’re on a tight budget this week, so I made my own version of takeout).

All kids in bed by: 8.00pm

Today I…

Spruced up the kitchen a bit more and cleaned a few things I overlooked (like the fan cover over the stove). Plus I had two of my nephews over for the day and cooked up a pot of homemade macaroni cheese for lunch for the tribe of kiddies. I was quite productive for a Saturday.

The Kitchen

Here are a couple of little things I’ve done in my kitchen to make a difference. I’ll be sharing the bigger aspects (like the cupboards) in coming posts.

1. Tea and coffee area.

I wish I’d taken a before shot of this area. (This photo is obviously before I cleaned the fan cover). My biggest problem here was the spices. I like having them easily accessible above the stove for cooking, but before they were all just sitting on the shelf and I would forget what was at the back. Plus I had to watch I didn’t knock the front ones down. Now they’re all in a basket I can just pull down. I’ve been told I should keep herbs and spices out of the light, but since that would throw off my newly organised pantry, this is where they’ll stay for now (ideally I’d love to put up a spice rack inside the pantry door).

Coffee is now in a named pottery canister I had hoarded put away (sugar and tea already were in their canisters). Milo and hot chocolate are in small tins to fit on the shelf for easy access. I keep bigger tins in the pantry and just refill the smaller ones.

After I cleaned all the grease off the walls and organised the shelf I thought it looked a bit plain, so I added the cow pictures (I simply cut them out from last year’s dairy calendar, which I’d hoarded kept).

2. Windowsill

I came to realise all the knick knacks on my windowsill were actually making the room look smaller and more cluttered. I moved some things (like the jar with my wooden spoons) down to the bench next to the microwave. I moved the dishwashing liquid down in front of the windowsill and the disinfectant wipes to one of my newly rearranged cupboards. I had a heap of empty glass bottles lined up there as ‘decoration’ and moved half of them to the top of my shelves. The rest I made a bit prettier by adding some ribbon I picked up in the discard bin at Spotlight and some coloured water to catch the morning sunlight. I think by simplifying my windowsill decorations it has helped open the room up and look less cluttered.

*HANDY TIP* I had a segmented lunchbox I found while sorting my plastics cupboard that had no lid. I’ve used it  on my sink to hold my scouring pad and sponge in the bigger section and my plugs and some cotton tips in the two smaller sections. I like to keep cotton tips handy by the sink as they are awesome for cleaning the inside of baby bottle teats and the straws in kids’ drink bottles.

 
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Posted by on September 8, 2012 in Getting Organised, In the Kitchen

 

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My Sucky Kitchen

Rise and shine: 7.00am

Chocolate consumed: One lamington, one Mars Bar

Toilet timeouts: 0

On the menu:  Spaghetti Bolognese

All kids in bed by: 8.00pm

Today I…

Cleaned the TV cabinet and TV, wiped down all the walls and door frames in the lounge room, got the kids to take every single last toy back to their bedrooms–yes, it involved bribery, but I can’t remember the last time our lounge room was completely toy free (it didn’t last long, a few toys have already found their way back).

The Kitchen

In my last post I ranted a bit about how much I hate my house. I’m going to rant just a little bit more today, because of all the rooms in my house, I hate my kitchen the most, which is unfortunate considering how much time I spend in there. Basically, it is tiny. Like really tiny. It is a galley style kitchen and the floor space is no wider than the doorway. I don’t know who designed it, but it is so dysfunctional.

The bench space beside the oven is no wider than the kettle, so when I cook I have stuff balanced on the edge of the sink. There’s a little bit of bench space next to the dishwasher, but that’s usually housing the sandwich press or the cakemixer (which I usually never put away after I’ve used them–my bad). That leaves the bench/breakfast bar next to the fridge as the only usable bench space. It’s not too bad if I’m on top of the dishes situation, but if the dishes start piling up on the bench…

There are also hardly any cupboards/storage space. There is a double cupboard and single cupboard under the main bench, which is where I keep all my crockery (dinner plates, bowls, etc), glasses and mugs. There is one redeeming feature here, as someone who lived here before us had the genius idea to screw heaps of hooks into the top of the cupboard for hanging mugs, which frees up a heap of space (though visitors never seem to be able to find the mugs because they’re hidden behind the lip of the cupboard). Then there are four cupboards under the sink. These ones are pretty much unusable because of the mice. It doesn’t matter what I try, they always seem to get in there. Then they poop and wee on everything. It’s so so gross. Not to mention the smell makes me want to gag every time I open the cupboards. I’m constantly having to wash down the cupboards and everything in them (not to mention disinfect!). I just don’t have time to be doing it all the time (plus it’s a pretty unpleasant job).

There are three drawers by the dishwasher, but only two are functional. The bottom of the bottom drawer is pretty dodgy and won’t hold any weight and also slides out of the drawer when the drawer is opened.

We put in some portable shelves next to the fridge and they’ve mostly been housing all our pretty glassware, like wine glasses, etc. Plus other stuff we pretty much never use. There’s also a little set of portable plastic drawers next to the dishwasher (which the mice also like to climb into).

So that’s my sucky sucky kitchen. Here’s a pic of it in its ‘before’ state. The main bench isn’t visible in this pic (it’s next to the fridge and I’m pretty sure covered in dishes). The white lines are to blank out my kids’ names, pictures and school name, in case you were wondering, though I’m sure nobody has good enough eyesight to make them out anyway.

Next post I will start showing you what I’ve been doing to improve the suckiness of my kitchen, including how I’ve been finding new ways to utilise the space (and work around the mouse problem). (Also, not so much ranting next time.)

 
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Posted by on September 5, 2012 in In the Kitchen

 

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Making This House a Home

I know this is a long post, but I need to get this all out there.

When I started this blog I intended it to be a way to keep myself accountable. My husband believed I spent too much time on the computer and not enough time cleaning. I thought he was wrong. I wanted to keep a diary to show just how much I did all day in terms of cleaning, looking after the kids and looking after all the paperwork for our business. I didn’t think it was too bad to want some time in between to unwind on the computer, especially while having a lunch break or feeding bubs (since I’m not a big fan of daytime TV).

But after a few weeks of starting this blog, I saw there was some truth to what my husband had been saying. There were times where I got a bit lost on the computer for longer periods of time than I intended. But it was not quite as bad as he was making out, either.

Revelations…

I don’t know if the blog prompted me to start looking at my home a bit more or if it was something I would have realised anyway. In any case, I didn’t like the tension the housework issue was causing between my husband and myself. Bubs is starting to sleep better and more predictably through the day now and is more content to play or watch me during her awake times. I made the decision to really start doing something about my house.

I stumbled upon a great blog which I’ve been talking about with a series called 31 Days to an Organised Home. I decided to give it a shot. If you’ve been following my pantry series you’ll know it took me 5 days to complete day 5. Day 6–the kitchen–took me a week. But it propelled me to more revelations…

I realised, in getting this one room organised, things were worse than I’d thought. I’d been deluding myself.

First off–Why I Hate My House

My house sucks. No, really, it does. It’s an old, run down farmhouse. It’s full of holes where mice can get in, mould in the bathroom and until recently most of the windows didn’t even have fly screens (to air the house out meant a house full of bugs or flies). We don’t own the house, it comes with my husband’s job on the farm he manages. It is nigh on impossible to get hubby’s boss to do any improvements on the house (I’m surprised he finally paid for the flyscreens). And it’s hard for us to justify spending our own money on improving the house when it’s only temporary.

The kitchen is tiny, the mice drive me insane, dust gets in everywhere and there is minimal storage space. So I hate my house. And because I hate it, I have no pride in it. It’s too hard to maintain, so I put in minimal effort. As long as the kitchen is clean, the floors are vacuumed and the clothes are washed, that’s the main thing. Right…

Wrong. This house has never felt like a home. Most of our photographs and ornaments have never been unpacked since we moved here. I WANT a home that feels like a home. We could be here for years–I don’t want to spend years living like this.

A New Plan

I’ve started planning for my son’s birthday at the end of the year and one of my biggest stresses with birthday parties is getting the house clean enough for company. This year is the first where he’ll be inviting friends from school and I suddenly panicked at the thought of the school mums seeing my house. I knew if I wanted this house to be presentable, it would take time. A lot of time.

So I’ve come up with a plan. Kind of like the ultimate spring clean, only it’s going to take me the whole of spring to complete. Week by week I’m going to go through the house, working my way around gradually, room by room. I’m hoping this little bit by little bit approach will help the whole process seem a lot less overwhelming (since getting overwhelmed is half my problem).

How the Plan Works

Each week I will focus on one room. For each room I’ve listed what needs to be done to get it clean and organised. I can usually break the list up into 5 main points. I work on one point per day, eg: for the kitchen my first task was to tidy and organise the kitchen bench. If I get extra time I can do more than one point in a day and get ahead, or if I get behind I have two days over the weekend to catch up. I’ve also scheduled a free week in November to catch up on any rooms still unfinished. Fingers crossed I can keep to schedule. This house has to be organised by my son’s birthday party!

Tick of Approval

So far hubby is impressed. He’s already noticed a huge improvement in the kitchen (which I finished just over a week ago) and the dining room (which I’ve been working on the past week). He’s really supportive of my bit by bit approach.

I’ll be tracking my progress on here with photos, so stay tuned. I’ll take some photos of my finished kitchen and share them soon. I warn you, some of these photos will be totally embarrassing. I’m going to lay it all out there.

 
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Posted by on September 3, 2012 in Confession Time, Getting Organised

 

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