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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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In the Pantry (part 5)

Saturday is supposed to be my day off, but as I haven’t been around the blogsphere for a few weeks I thought I had better take my chance to finish up my pantry series while I have a free moment.

Rise and shine: It must have been about 7.30am, I was kind of zombie-like until about 10am after staying up to watch a movie last night, so I’m a bit fuzzy on what time my kids tore off the covers and pleaded with me to get up and make milos (Boy wonder is pretty good at making cuppas, but he’s not yet allowed to pour the hot water by himself).

Chocolate consumed: None! And not by choice, unfortunately. The chocolate supply in our house has dwindled fast this week. Although I did have a sponge roll with chocolate icing for morning tea.

Toilet timeouts: 1

On the menu:  McDonalds & KFC (it is Saturday night after all).

All kids in bed by: 9.30pm (we had SIL and family over tonight, so kids were up late playing with their cousins. Fingers crossed they sleep in tomorrow morning).

My bedtime: 11.00pm

Today I…

Did some washing, loaded the dishwasher and wasted an awful lot of time on the computer looking at old photos of my kids and working on a new picture book idea.

In the Pantry

I actually finished the pantry as part of day 5 of 31 Days to an Organised Home a while ago, but I’ve only just uploaded the final photos onto my computer to share them. I’ve been busily working away on day 6–organising my kitchen.I’ve been taking before and after photos, so I will be sharing my kitchen’s progress as I get time to blog.

But first, the grand unveiling of my finished pantry.

BEFORE

AFTER

The top shelf, which was full of junk and a lot of old packets of food, got totally cleared out (it was sad how much half eaten packets of stale chips were thrown out–such waste). Now there is a box for packets of chips, so packets aren’t getting shoved to the back corner and forgotten. I want to attach pegs to the side of the box so they can easily be used to secure opened packets. There is also a basket for other junk food, like chocolate. Dad’s snacks are hubby’s breakfast bars as he often eats breakfast on the go–having them all in a basket means I don’t have a heap of boxes taking up room. And our alcohol is lined up neatly with taller bottles at the back (which you can’t see in this photo).

I like to keep all the junk food on the top shelf for two reasons: 1. It stops kids raiding it–they tend to go for the more easily accessible fruit and muesli bars. 2. Because I’m short, I need a stool to reach it, which stops me from raiding it too much as well!

One of the unexpected benefits of my new reorganised pantry is that it is so much easier to write my shopping list! It’s so easy now to just look in there and immediately see what is running low. Before, often I wouldn’t know I was out of something until I went to use it. Or I would have a new packet of something stowed away and not realise it was in there and end up buying another packet.

Another added benefit is Boy wonder has been put in charge of getting his own snacks ready for school, since it’s so much easier for him to find and access everything.

So far everyone in the house has been pretty good at putting everything back where it belongs.

If you have any great pantry tips, please share!

In the Pantry Part 1

In the Pantry Part 2

In the Pantry Part 3

In the Pantry Part 4

Kid Funny of the Day

This is actually from the other day. Boy wonder had been learning about the creation story in RE at school and asked me, “If Adam and Eve were the first people, who came next?” I replied, “They had two sons named Cain and Abel.” He was very quick to respond, “I know who came after that: Pa!” He must think his grandfather is pretty old!

 
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Posted by on August 18, 2012 in Getting Organised, In the Kitchen

 

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In the Pantry (part 4)

No. of times up during the night: 3 x feeding bubs

Rise and shine: 7.00am

Chocolate consumed: a couple of handfuls of maltesers (I’ve been doing well with the chocolate consumption lately 😀 )

Toilet timeouts: 0

On the menu:  Cheesy potato and bacon soup with cheesy garlic bread.

All kids in bed by: 7.30pm

My bedtime: 9.30pm

Today I…

Washed wet bedding, took the princess to the doctor, went shopping, made a dent folding some of the washing in Mount Washpile.

In the Pantry

Today I’m sharing shelf 4 in my newly organised pantry as part of day 5 of 31 Days to an Organised Home.

BEFORE

Shelf four is mostly dedicated to my cooking supplies, however, in my chaotic pantry it was at the stage where I had to rummage around to find the ingredients I needed. If you look at the before picture, you can’t see any of my cooking supplies at all (apart from some cake mix boxes) as they are so hidden behind everything else.

AFTER

This is actually my favourite shelf. I love how everything is so accessible and easy to locate now. Here’s the breakdown:

– All my cake decorating bits, like food dye and birthday candles (which were previously in an ice cream container or scattered throughout my pantry) are now in a labelled white basket.

– That horrible inaccessible corner is great for stacking up my cake mixes.

*THRIFTY TIP* Washed out coffee jars (or jam jars) make great storage containers.

*THRIFTY TIP* I’ve made labels by cutting out the names from their packaging. For the custard I also made sure to cut out the instructions and taped them to the back of the jar.

*HANDY TIP* I used a couple of egg cartons taped together to lift the jars at the back, making them easier to see. I’ll probably end up covering them in white paper to look a bit nicer (you can see part of them through the breadcrumbs jar).

– Before I had the aluminium foil, baking paper and cling wrap stacked up on one side, but it wasn’t a very good system as I had to remove the ones on top to get to the one at the bottom and they were always falling down. Now they sit at the front of the shelf and are sooo much easier to access.

– The eggs were also a pain to access before. They were also stacked up (in egg cartons) on the side. I had to reach past so many things to get to them and I was always worried about the eggs falling out of the carton as I grabbed it. The eggs are now also at the front. I decided to have them in a basket instead of in their cartons as it solves the problem of having cartons stacked on top of one another and it also looks a lot nicer. Plus I had the basket sitting around not being used, so why not use it?

– Herbs and spices that didn’t fit in my spice rack, as well as stock cubes and other small cooking bits and pieces, are stored in a couple of shallow baskets.

The last shelf is still incomplete, but I should hopefully have it finished for the next post (a LOT of junk was stored up on the top shelf out of sight). Then I’ll finally be moving onto day 6: organising my kitchen. This is already looking like a big project!

In the Pantry Part 1

In the Pantry Part 2

In the Pantry Part 3

In the Pantry Part 5

 
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Posted by on August 1, 2012 in Getting Organised, In the Kitchen

 

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In the Pantry (part 3)

No. of times up during the night: 2 x feeding bubs

Rise and shine: 7.40am

Chocolate consumed: a couple of handfuls of maltesers, hot chocolate

Toilet timeouts: 0

On the menu:  Capsicum ring quiches, hash browns, chicken omelettes (basically stuff I made up on the spot to use up some of our excess of eggs and potatoes)

All kids in bed by: 7.30pm

My bedtime: 10.45pm

Today I…

Started cleaning out the laundry.

In the Pantry

I’ve pretty much finished day 5 of 31 Days to an Organised Home (organising my pantry). I just have a touch more organising to do on the top shelf. With the arrival of a new freezer tomorrow I’ve had to turn my focus from the kitchen to the laundry so the freezer will fit. Today on the blog, however, I’m sharing shelf three, which was probably the most disorganised shelf in the pantry. A reminder of what my pantry looked like before:

BEFORE

Now onto the middle shelf:

AFTER

Shelf 3

Here’s the breakdown:

– I’d like my crackers to be contained together somehow, but I didn’t have a container to fit that space, so at the moment they’re just stacked together in that corner in their boxes.

– My baby food is now all together in a labelled basket, making it easy to find if bubs needs a quick meal.

– My coffee, tea, etc is now a bit easier to access. Before it was in the corner behind everything and I was forever knocking things over trying to get to it. The teabags have been put into a labelled glass jar to keep them fresh; it’s also a more effective use of space than leaving them in their box, which never seemed to fit anywhere properly. I’ve also tidied and reorganised my tea and coffee area near the kettle with small jars I can refill so I don’t have to get the bigger jars/tins out of the pantry every time I make a cuppa.

– Biscuits are in a biscuit tin rather than opened packets so they don’t go stale. I’ve used baking paper to line the tin and also to separate different types of biscuits. The baking paper can be replaced when new biscuits are put in the tin–this is easier than having to clean the tin all the time.

– Condiments are still grouped together on the round tray as I like this system, but I’ve moved it to the centre of the shelf so I’m less likely to knock over bottles when reaching for other items (before it blocked off the corner with the coffee, etc).

– Meal bases are lined up in a shallow basket and I can just flick through them to find the one I want.

*HANDY TIP* I’ve been doing this with my soups for a while and it’s such a great system. Rather than having a heap of boxes of cup-a-soups taking up room in my pantry, I’ve used a narrow box (a basket would work just as well) and cut out the front of each soup box to work like a file with packets placed behind their appropriate cover. Now if I feel like chicken noodle soup I only have to look at the top of the file to locate it (no sifting through boxes to find the right one!) To make it look even neater, I’ve used white paper and a black marker to cover the front of the box and label it.

– My tins of food section isn’t quite finished yet. I love the idea from this blog of having a set of steps to organise tinned food and currently have one of my hubby’s uncles making one up for me. In the meantime, I’ve made makeshift steps out of egg cartons. Having the steps means I can see the labels on the tins at the back and can access them more easily.

– Again I’ve used white paper and a black marker to label where everything belongs.

P.S. Hubby is loving the new pantry so much he even showed it off to his mum! My MIL is notorious for her cleaning and she complimented it, too! Now if only I could get the rest of the house as organised.

Two more shelves to share.

In the Pantry Part 1

In the Pantry Part 2

In the Pantry Part 4

In the Pantry Part 5

 
 

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In the Pantry (part 2)

No. of times up during the night: 2 x feeding bubs, 2 x take child back to bed

Rise and shine: 7.20am

Chocolate consumed: A couple of handfuls of maltesers, 2 funsize Mars Bars

Toilet timeouts: 0

On the menu:  Sausages & chips for the kids, microwave meal for me (not the healthiest of dinners, especially after take away last night, but bubs was really unsettled tonight so I chucked on whatever was quick and easy).

All kids in bed by: 8.20pm

My bedtime: 9.30pm

Today I…

Vacuumed the house. Wiped down the kitchen. Had swimming lesson with the princess. Continued attacking the pantry.

In the Pantry

It seems like day 5 of 31 Days to an Organised Home (organising my pantry) is turning into a whole week. At this rate I might get to day 31 by the end of the year! Today I’m sharing shelf two. First, a reminder of what my pantry looked like before:

BEFORE

Now onto the second bottom shelf (cereal, pasta, rice, etc.):

AFTER

Shelf 2

Here’s the breakdown:

– I have an annoyingly designed pantry with these spaces on either side that are difficult to utilise, but I’ve tried to work with it as best I can. I’ve tried to line up the cereals in a way that I can easily see every box, without having some boxes behind others by lining the smaller boxes along that annoying side space and the bigger boxes along the back (all with spines facing out).

*THRIFTY TIP* If you don’t want to fork out for fancy labels, here’s a little trick I came up with: Cut out the name of the pasta/rice from the packet after you’ve put the contents into a sealable container and tape it onto the container. This is especially good for non see-through containers. On the container with the oats I also made sure to cut out and tape on the instructions for making porridge.

– I used to have the kids’ snack box on a higher shelf to stop them raiding it whenever they wanted. Boy wonder is now tall enough to reach it anyway and often leaves it on the floor because he can’t get it back up again, so I’ve decided to put it back at their level. They’re actually getting quite good at asking first now anyway. The snack box works well because a) I don’t have heaps of opened boxes of muesli bars, cheese & biscuits and boxes of sultanas cluttering the cupboard, I just dump all the snacks into the box together, and b) the kids know which snacks are theirs. I’m about to start getting boy wonder to pack his own school snacks in the morning and it will be easy for him to just pick a snack from the box to put in his lunchbox.

– I’ve used a labelled basket to keep all my packet pasta and 2-minute noodles contained in one spot. Behind them are my lasagne sheets, tacos, etc.

– As with the first shelf, I’ve used white paper and a black marker to label where everything belongs.

Next post I’ll move on to the next shelf, so stay tuned.

P.S. I think my pantry organisation is already proving a success with hubby as he reportedly showed it off to my SIL today (and I haven’t even finished yet!).

In the Pantry Part 1

In the Pantry Part 3

In the Pantry Part 4

In the Pantry Part 5

 
 

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