RSS

Author Archives: Jo's Labyrinth

About Jo's Labyrinth

An author, teacher and mum with a passion for reading and writing.

New Goals

It’s been a looooong time since I updated this blog. Over a year, in fact. Since then I’ve moved house, got rid of HEAPS of stuff that was cluttering our lives and still struggled to get our new place organised as the bedrooms are tiny and we have less room overall for everything. I’m finally at a point now where things are more organised, though there is still room for improvement.

Some things I did to get more organised (that so far are working):

– Hour of Power. I’ve put together an hour long playlist of songs with a cleaning related theme. I play this playlist once a day and in that hour I can do a general tidy of the house and have the main areas of the house (kitchen, lounge room, bathroom) decently clean and tidy. An example of my playlist include: ‘Be our Guest’ and ‘Food, Glorious Food’ for cleaning the kitchen and stacking the dishwasher; ‘Chim Chiminey’ for sweeping the floor; ‘Rubber Ducky’ and ‘Singing in the Rain’ for cleaning the bathroom. The real motivator is knowing I only have until the allocated songs are finished to finish the task before I have to move on to the next one. And if I don’t have enough time to wipe down the bathroom walls one day, I can incorporate it into the next days hour of power as I probably won’t need to clean the toilet two days in a row.

– Downsize. I’ve been trying to be much more ruthless about getting rid of clutter. The kids got rid of three boxes of toys before Christmas (I allowed them to fill the boxes themselves and tried not to question what they decided to give up). I used a new method for getting rid of clothes that I read about.

Pretend your wardrobe is a clothes store. If you saw that piece on the rack, would you buy it? If the answer is ‘no’, get rid of it.

I still have some way to go–reorganising our filing system and getting rid of all those boxes still cluttering the place–but in general I’ve been staying on top of things.

NEW GOALS FOR 2014

1. Getting Healthy

I started on a weight loss/get healthy journey 3 months ago after realising a) my health was being affected by my weight and lifestyle and b) I weighed more than my muscular 5’10” husband (and I’m only 5’2″). In the last three months I’ve lost nearly 9kgs and 8cm off my waist. The first couple of weeks were hard in terms of making changes in my food habits, but after the first two weeks, I became used to my new way of eating. I fell off the wagon a bit over Christmas and put on a kilo, but have since lost it again. My aim is to lose another 10kg to put me at my optimal weight and a healthy BMI.

2. Live for Less.

Unfortunately our family is doing it hard at the moment so I’m on a mission to live as cheaply as possible. I’ve always been a thrifty spender and home cook, and in the last year I’ve been making a lot more things from scratch (like taco seasoning, chicken stock and washing powder), but now I’m taking it up to a new level. My aim for the next month, at least, is to avoid the supermarket or only buy the bare necessities. For everything else I will be using what I already have in the pantry/fridge/freezer and making it last. For example, tonight I’m cooking a roast and the leftover meat will be sandwich meat for the next few days and finally the bone will be made into soup (then the bone goes to the dog when the soup is done). No waste. We’re pretty stocked up for most necessities, eg: toiletries, so the main thing I will need to still buy is fruit and vegetables (I want to use up all the meat stockpiled in our freezers before buying more and we get eggs and milk from our farm). Our local fresh food shop has a discard trolley where they sell less than perfect fruit and vegetables for cheap and day old bread for 99c. Our local supermarket sometimes has a trolley of less than perfect fruit and veg, too (if you happen to be in the supermarket at the exact right time).

 

 

Deadlines Are Great Motivators

Today’s stats

Chocolate consumed: 2 x funsize Mars Bars, 1 x hot chocolate

Toilet timeouts: 0

I’ll admit that the last month has been hard for me in the motivation department.

It’s very hard to keep motivation up when rooms I’ve already organised are falling back into disarray as I move onto other rooms to organise. *sigh* (In case you’ve been wondering why I haven’t posted any more before and after photos, this is why.)

I do think once I finally get this place fully organised and get into a routine of maintainance, it will be easier. But at the moment, while my house is still in a state of getting organised I’ve been feeling a bit overwhelmed. The idea of the bit-by-bit approached worked well in the beginning, but falling behind, then finding I was having trouble keeping on top of finished rooms started the build up of feeling overwhelmed again, which led to my old fall-backs of procrastination and avoidance. (Plus a teething baby and sick children didn’t help.) Chocolate consumption increased and there were a few toilet-breakdown-moments.

Then came the breakthrough.

I’m pretty sure I can attribute it to the sudden realisation that there was less than a month to go before boy wonder’s birthday! Eep! I need to get my butt into gear. Big time.¬†Instead of falling apart at the thought of how little time I have left, I’ve found new determination.

So the last few days I went back into boy wonder’s room (which I had abandoned weeks ago to move onto other rooms). Apart from a few bits and pieces left to sort, it’s actually looking good. Decluttered, updated and ready to show off to all his little friends at the party.

I also have another little motivator:

Bubs has started crawling! So I also have new determination for keeping this place tidy, or at least keeping the floor picked up and vacuumed.

Here’s a rundown on how I’m progressing overall:

Kitchen: Completed, pretty well maintained.

Dining room: Completed, having trouble maintaining (mostly the dining table, which still attracts a lot of clutter).

Lounge room: Completed, having trouble maintaining (not as bad as before, but toys and washing remain the main culprits).

Hallway/entrance: Completed, not too bad.

Bathroom: Completed and maintained. Yay! At least one room has managed to stay organised.

Laundry: Not quite complete, getting out of control again.

Girls’ room: Completed, needs a good clean up again.

Boy wonder’s room: Almost complete, looking good.

Kids’ hallway: Half complete, looking a bit of a mess at the moment with the stuff I’m still in the process of sorting (waiting for hubby to help me move a cupboard down there so I can finish it off).

Master bedroom: Started, barely. Still a lot of work to be done, but I can wait until after the party if need be, so I’m not too stressed. Our walk-in-robe is nearly complete and staying maintained so far. I haven’t started on the ensuite.

Spare room: Not-yet-started. I actually forgot to add it onto my original schedule. Oops. (Luckily it’s another one that can wait until after the party if need be. Closed doors are great for that.)

Yard: Half-complete. Debris is cleared (ie: broken toys) and I’ve started weeding the garden. We’ve had calves living in our yard the last couple of months, so it’s been hard to get out there and do too much, but hubby finally moved them out over the weekend, which means I can finally start doing something with the garden without fear of all my plants being eaten or trampled!

So I’ve still got a bit of work ahead of me and only 3 weeks until party day, but I’ve got my motivation back.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on November 18, 2012 in Confession Time

 

Tags: , , , , ,

Kitchen Cupboard Organisation

Two posts today. I actually have a quiet Sunday with boy wonder at a sleep-over, bubs napping and the princess playing quietly, so I thought I would finally share the last of my kitchen posts.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I have few cupboards in my kitchen, so I’ve had to use a bit of improvisation to make the most of my space. Here are the before and after shots…

Cupboard 1 (next to the stove)

AFTER

– I’ve moved the cheese graters to a new home, as well as the baking trays, leaving these shelves less crowded.

– I found the raised cooling rack at the op shop for $1. It raises the pots up with room underneath to store the smaller lids instead of stacking them on top of the pots (which always caused an avalanche anytime I got a pot out.

– Larger pots are at the back and smaller ones at the front. Chopping boards on the side. Cake pans are stacked together on the bottom shelf.

Cupboard 2 (under the sink)

BEFORE

AFTER

– My biggest problem with this cupboard is that the mice seem to love it, hence why I don’t keep much in there. I still haven’t figured out what to do with the BBQ utensils, so they’re still there for the time being. I also popped all the mouse traps in there while I’m not using them.

– I found the magazine rack at the op shop and thought it would be perfect to hold all my baking tray and muffin pans, instead of having them all stacked up with my cake pans. I’m hoping since the rack raises them up a bit and they’re on their sides, they’ll be relatively safe from the mice. I won’t know how effective this is until next winter now.

– The large pot lids look kind of weird (attached to the pipes with rubber bands), but it keeps them off the bottom of the cupboard where the mice go.

Cupboards 3 & 4 (under the sink and next to cutlery drawer)

BEFORE

BEFORE

(Don’t you hate all those plastic/tupperware containers! If we ever build our own house I want a big slide out drawer for all my tupperware and containers)

AFTER

– I’m pretty happy with my container solution, not only does it make it easier to find the container I’m looking for, but it also means I don’t have to worry about mice getting into them (before I constantly had to wash and disinfect my containers because of the mice).

– I’m now using the freed up shelf for cleaning products like spare sponges, garbage bags, disinfectant wipes and spare boxes of tissues.

Cupboard 5

BEFORE

AFTER

– I’ve done a switcheroo with my glassware and cooking appliances. Since I use my appliances all the time and very rarely use my glassware, I’ve put my glassware in this cupboard so they’re no longer collecting dust. (I’ll show you the corner in a minute.)

Cupboards 6 & 7 (crockery)

BEFORE

AFTER

– I decided to put all the cups/glasses/mugs on the top shelf and all the plates/bowls on the bottom, I figure it probably makes more sense than how I had it before.

– I’ve labelled where everything goes just so it stays a bit more organised (I hope), though yesterday hubby put dinner plates away where the glasses go, so maybe not.

– You can’t see in this pic, but hidden behind the top lip of the cupboard there are heaps of hooks for hanging mugs. This is actually one space-saving thing that was already here when we moved in and I love it (though guests often have trouble locating the mugs because they’re so hidden).

– Since I took this picture, I actually picked up one of those tiered plate racks at the op shop (for $1, I think) and it has made the bottom shelf even more organised because my plates are now stacked on it.

Corner

BEFORE

AFTER

– After I repurposed the small set of drawers for my tupperware, I bought I nicer looking set of 5 drawers from Sam’s Warehouse (I think they were only $15 or $20). I labelled them so it would be easy to see what each drawer holds (1. tea towels, 2. freezer bags/brown paper bags, 3. cooking bits and pieces, eg: measuring cups, 4. plasticware, eg: disposable plates for parties/BBQs, 5. Party supplies, eg: balloons, streamers, banners)

– I switched the dust-collecting glassware to the cupboard (after culling over half of it). Now the shelves hold all my cooking appliances, making them easier to access. You can see this is also where my cheese graters found their new home.

Bonus Areas

The Bin/Phone Area

BEFORE

AFTER

– I repurposed a tray I picked up at the op shop (another $1 bargain) into a little shelf to go next to our phone. The curved edges make it perfect for holding pens and we now have somewhere to keep our phonebook and write messages instead of on the not-very-spacious kitchen bench.

– An old whiteboard I had lying around now has a purpose and is much more convenient for writing my shopping list and phone messages than the whiteboard out by the coatracks.

– I’d previously been using a recycled cardboard box for keeping bottles tidy beside the bin, but it was starting to break and get soggy on the bottom, so I decided to get a plastic tub instead, which is much sturdier, plus I can clean it easily if any bottles leak.

– I also bought a new brush and shovel as my old one was a bit dodgy after being used to sweep hot coals by the fire over the winter. I love this new one because I can use it standing up! No more crouching to sweep up crumbs. It cost me $8 at The Reject Shop.

– I love my Bag Bag for keeping my old shopping bags (which I can then reuse–so much cheaper than buying those nappy sacks for dirty nappies).

Hooks for Frying Pans

– Instead of my frying pan/wok/strainer taking up space in my cupboards, I’ve hung them on hooks by my stove. A great space saver! Plus easy access.

– Kids’ artwork is great for covering up holes in the wall.

Over the Door Hanger

– I found this hanger at the $2 Shop and just knew it would come in handy for something. I’ve popped it onto my pantry door to hang my oven mitts, long BBQ tongs and a cute bucket of cookie cutters.

So that’s my totally reorganised kitchen! What are some of your favourite organisation/space saving ideas in you kitchen? I’d love to hear them.

Next I’ll be sharing my dining room (it won’t be quite as lengthy as my kitchen posts).

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on October 21, 2012 in In the Kitchen

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Hitting Snags and Getting Momentum Back

I seem to have lost some of my motivation the last couple of weeks. I don’t know whether the school holidays threw me off and I’ve found it hard to get momentum back because of that, or the fact that it’s been a busy week with the kids (in particular boy wonder’s school production has made this last week more hectic than usual, not to mention having to do a heap of paperwork for our new workers).In any case, I’m falling behind on my schedule with two rooms that I’ve barely started (boy wonder’s and the master bedroom). I also realised I forgot to include our spare room (aka shove-everything-in-there-that-doesn’t-have-a-home room) on my schedule!

So I’ve had to revise my schedule a bit, adding in a week for the spare room and another extra week for the master bedroom and catching up. I figure I can always close the doors to those rooms for boy wonder’s birthday party, but I’d really like the whole house done by Christmas.

Another snag I’ve hit is with upkeep. I think once the house is completely done it will be easier to have a routine in this regard, but in the meantime I’m finding it hard to keep up with tidying the rooms I’ve already finished, while attacking the next room on the list. In general, I think the house is neater than it used to be, but still failing a bit. I’ve been trying to keep on the kids about taking their toys back to their rooms, but they still creep out and hide behind lounge room chairs and under the dining room table. The dining table is still a magnet for clutter, particularly papers, though I’m trying to clear it once a week. And of course, dishes are a constant bane to me. I’m loading the dishwasher once a day, which I was already in the habit of doing, but I’m still finding myself putting off doing the frying pan and oven pans.

My aim for the coming week is to try to get momentum going again. It’s going to be tough, because our bedroom is the one I always put off doing. It’s as much a room to shove things as our spare room, plus it doubles as our home office and I am dreading going through all our paperwork.

How to get my momentum back:

Get my music going again. I’ve found it to really help having my favourite music playing in the background with previous rooms, but have missed it while my computer has been out of action.

Relish in ticking off items on my list. Finish items completely so I can tick it off and feel like I am making progress.

Just do one thing at a time so I don’t feel overwhelmed. Looking at our room as a whole is really putting me off, I need to just focus on getting each part done, one at a time, eg: start with the bookshelf (since my love of books will make that task the most enjoyable).

Wish me luck!

 

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on October 20, 2012 in Confession Time

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Organising Kitchen Drawers

It’s been super busy around here with school holidays, and especially this past week I’ve fallen behind on my schedule (I should have had boy wonder’s room finished this week, but I barely made a dent in sorting through his toys). I’ve been getting lots of positive comments on my house from visitors (yes, I’ve had visitors!–doors shut to yet-to-be-organised rooms, of course). My best friend was impressed with the girls’ wardrobe organisation and my MIL thinks my homemade light shade in the dining room really makes a difference to the room. I’ll be revealing both of those in future posts. Today I’m revealing some more of my kitchen.

I have three drawers in my kitchen, two are usable. They were both hideously overstocked with cutlery and utensils. I took a deep breath and shoved my inner hoarder’s voice in a box. As I went through the drawers I asked myself the following questions:

1. Have I ever used it

2. Will I ever use it (be honest!)

A lot of stuff went to the op shop (seriously, why in the world did I have so many knives!! And why do I even need cocktail forks when I always put out toothpicks at parties anyway).

The results…

Drawer 1 BEFORE

You can kind of see here how there is actually cutlery underneath the caddy.

Drawer 1 AFTER

So much better. I have a lot of baby spoons and forks, so I’ve popped them in some plastic cups at the side so they’re not overflowing from the caddy. I’ve since bought a new caddy with two compartments at the front so I can put the longer kids’ knives and forks in one and the longer handled teaspoons in the other. The shorter teaspoons are also in a cup (one whose handle broke off).

Kids’ medicine cups are at the front and egg cups are at the back.

If you can tell from the pic, the soup spoons and dessert spoons still share a compartment, but I’ve topped and tailed them so the soup spoons face up and the dessert spoons face down. No more grabbing a soup spoon for my cereal in the morning!

Drawer 2 BEFORE

Needless to say it was a dangerous task searching for anything with all those knives in there. P.S. Does anyone know what that thingy up the back is that looks like it could be for slicing stuff. I have no idea what is or why I even had it.

Drawer 2 AFTER

And look under here!

Before I would never have let my kids in that drawer under any circumstances. The knives are now hidden under a teatowel out of the way so no one will cut themselves searching through the drawer. And I can now ask a child to retrieve a spatula without fearing they’ll come back minus a finger. The tea towel is easily pulled back to retrieve a knife without disturbing the contents on top too much.

And now that I’ve rid the drawer of all the accumulated, unnecessary utensils, I can actually see what I want to grab as soon as I open the drawer with no searching! Yay!

 

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on October 7, 2012 in In the Kitchen

 

Tags: , , , , ,

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.

Image

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.

Image

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.

Image

 
Leave a comment

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

 

Tags: , , , , ,

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?

 
1 Comment

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

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,