Monday, 28 April 2014

How To Declutter When You Don't Have Much Time

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I've written a few posts on decluttering, but a reader recently asked if I could share some pointers for people who don't have a lot of time. I think this is a problem which is really common among people who want to become more tidy and organized, and one of the most frequent reasons for never getting started on the decluttering process. So here are my tips for decluttering a home when you have very little free time.

Know It Can Be Done

Before I share my tips, I just want to emphasize that it is possible because I've done it. I managed to turn my relatively cluttered tiny house into an organized haven despite having a toddler and a newborn and a long list of commitments, (and have kept up those habits even after moving to our current, much larger home). You just have to accept that it is not an overnight transformation.

Decluttering When You Feel Overwhelmed

The key to creating a clutter free home is to do little and often. Most people can find 5 to 10 minutes a day to organize part of their home, and if you do this regularly you will make gradual but noticeable progress. Here are some good places to start.

Tackle The Paper Clutter - Paper can account for a lot of clutter, especially if you have school age children. Often, this paper accumulates in random piles around the home such as on the kitchen counter, so the best place to start is by designating one dedicated spot for paperwork. Make sure everyone knows that paper goes in that inbox and nowhere else. Later on, you can worry about sorting, filing and setting up fancy home binders. But for now, just get into the habit of using one place for incoming paper.

Set Up Keep/Donate/Maybe Boxes - If you want to get the most out of your brief bursts of decluttering, set up three boxes (or bags) for sorting through your possessions. One should be for items which are sentimental, useful or beautiful and which you will be keeping - you can take items out of the box and find a "home" for them at a later date. The second box should be for items you don't want or need, and you can take the box to your local charity shop once it is full. Lastly, keep a box for items you aren't sure about. Once you have filled it, stash it in a garage or loft for six months - if you don't need to open the box in those six months, donate that too.

Find A Home For Five Things - Whenever you have a few minutes, force yourself to find a home for five items of clutter (this could be during TV ad breaks, or when you are boiling a kettle). These could be from around the home or from the "Keep" box mentioned above. Think about where would be a logical place to keep each item, and once you have put it somewhere make sure it is always returned to the same spot after use.

Create A List - I love lists, but you can skip this tip if you don't get a kick out of crossing off "done" items. Take ten minutes to go from room to room in your home and write down every area which you want to declutter. The less time you have for decluttering, the more specific you should be. For example, don't just write "declutter sideboard" - write "declutter sideboard: top drawer". Once you have created your master list, refer to it every time you have a free five minutes and make it your goal to cross at least one item off.

Make The Most Of Every Five Minutes - You can do more than you think in five minutes; declutter a countertop, sort out the paperwork which has been dumped on a bookshelf. When you have a free moment pick a very small part of your home and tackle it. Just remove everything which shouldn't be there and leave it looking tidy and organized! It is amazing how combating a tiny area will make you feel more in control of the whole decluttering process. This is where your master list will come in handy, if you have created one.

Create A "To Buy" List - Decluttering little and often only works if you are getting rid of items faster than you are accumulating them, so you need to stop mindless accumulation. Obviously, you still need to buy necessities but anything else you have an urge to buy should be added to a list to review at a later date. Once a month look at this list and assess whether you still want or need the purchase. Often, you will decide that you don't want to make the purchase after all.

Get The Kids On Board - To make real progress, items which have been organized need to be returned to their new home. Otherwise they will just become clutter again! Your kids (and significant other) need to know where things are now kept, and will need to follow the new rules.

Develop Good Organization Habits - Once you are making progress, you can start to refine your organization skills, which will help you to keep clutter at bay. For example, you could set up simple binders for your paperwork. It doesn't have to be too fancy (unless you want it to be). A binder for bills, one for school work and one for personal documents will suffice to start with.

The hardest part of decluttering is getting started! If you take just five minutes to start sorting through your clutter today, you may be living in a much tidier and more organized home in a few short weeks.

And just because I love this quote, here is a printable which I shared in a previous post:

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

40 Uses For White Vinegar

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Anyone who has read my cleaning posts will know that I love white vinegar. Someone recently asked if I had a comprehensive list of everything I use it for, so I set about compiling one. It turns out, there are lots of cleaning jobs around the home which you can use distilled vinegar for!

Here is my finished list.but I guarantee that there are plenty more cleaning jobs which I have forgotten to include. Feel free to share your own uses for white vinegar in the comments. :-)

40 Cleaning Uses For White Vinegar

To remove limescale deposits from a tap and make them shine, soak cotton wool balls in undiluted white vinegar and use cling film (saran wrap) to secure it to the affected area. Leave for 2 hours, then remove.

To clean a shower head, mix 1 part warm water with 1 part distilled vinegar and pour it into a sandwich bag. Tie the bag around the shower head and leave for 2 to 3 hours, before removing.

To create an all purpose bathroom and shower cleaner, mix 1 cup of water, 1 cup of white vinegar and 1 cup of dish soap in a spray bottle. Apply to tubs, sinks, and shower glass then wipe with a damp cloth.

Remove stubborn stains from a bath tub by mixing baking soda with a little vinegar, and then scouring the affected area.

To clean bathroom tiles and refresh your grout, mix a gallon of water with 1 cup of distilled vinegar, 1 cup of ammonia and 1/2 cup of baking soda. Apply to the tiles with a clean cloth.

To remove stubborn gunk from the tracks in a shower door, apply a liberal amount of white vinegar. Leave to soak for an hour, then scrub the area with an old toothbrush to remove the build up.

If your sponge or loofah is looking a little unhygienic, place it in a sink and cover it with warm water. Mix in a cup of white vinegar, and leave the loofah to soak overnight. Rinse the loofah or sponge thoroughly and allow to air dry.

If your towels are more scratchy than fluffy, wash them with a cup of white vinegar rather than commercial washing powder.

To keep the toilet bowl smelling fresh, pour in a couple of cups of white vinegar. Leave for half an hour, then flush.

To clean your toilet with minimum effort, splash in a little white vinegar around the bowl before you go to bed each night. Give the toilet a quick scrub with a brush in the morning.

If your kettle has a build up of limescale, pour in 1 cup of water and 1 cup of white vinegar. Leave for a couple of hours, then rinse out the kettle thoroughly. If limescale remains, repeat the process but leave the vinegar overnight.

If your iron is looking a little dirty, mix a tablespoon of baking soda with a little vinegar. Apply the mixture to a clean cloth then scrub the sole plate of the iron thoroughly. 

To clean and deodorize a microwave, mix 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup of white vinegar in a bowl and place it inside the microwave. Carefully bring the water to a boil. Remove the bowl, and scrub the inside of the microwave - the encrusted food should fall away.

To remove build up from a dishwasher, fill a small tub with undiluted white vinegar. Place inside the empty dishwasher and run a normal cycle. Repeat once a month.

To deodorize and disinfect the inside of a refrigerator, mix 1 cup of water with 1 cup of white vinegar. Use a spray bottle or apply with a clean cloth.

To effectively clean a stainless steel sink, mix baking soda and white vinegar together to form a paste. Use this to scrub the sink, and allow to sit for 1 to 2 hours. Rinse clean, then add a little shine using a clean cloth and a dab of olive oil.

If your grill has build up, screw up aluminium foil into a ball. Apply undiluted white vinegar to the foil ball and scrub the grill thoroughly until the grime falls away.

To clean kitchen and disinfect kitchen counter tops, spritz with a solution of 1 part white vinegar to 1 part water and wipe dry with a clean cloth.

To unblock and deodorize a drain, pour in 1 cup of baking soda followed by 1 cup of white vinegar. Allow the mixture to fizz for 10 minutes then pour boiling water down the drain.

If your tupperware has developed an unpleasant odor, dampen a cloth with white vinegar and wipe the container.

To restore cloudy glassware to its former beauty, soak a paper towel in undiluted vinegar and wrap it around the glass (both inside and out). Leave for 1 hour, then thoroughly rinse your glassware with water.

If your carpet has a tricky stain, mix 1/2 cup of baking soda with a table spoon of salt and a little white vinegar. Apply the paste to the stain and allow to fully dry (test on a discreet area first). Vacuum the area, and repeat the process if necessary. 

To revive a tired looking carpet or rug, mix a gallon of water with a cup of white vinegar. Brush the carpet pile with the solution and allow to dry (test on a hidden area of the carpet first).

To clean vinyl or linoleum floors, mix 1 cup of distilled white vinegar with a bucket of warm water and use to mop.

If you use a steam cleaner to clean your floors, add in 1/4 cup white vinegar. The vinegar will disinfect, deodorize and remove grime.

If your pet has had an accident, remove the mess then spray the affected area with a liberal amount of white vinegar. Follow this with a sprinkling of baking soda, and allow to dry. Vacuum up the residue.

Remove smells from pet bedding by spraying with white vinegar, or adding 1 cup white vinegar to the rinse cycle on a washing machine.

To remove dust, dirt and mildew, apply undiluted white vinegar to a cloth and wipe down the affected area.

To make your windows and mirrors shine, spritz with a solution of 1 part vinegar to 1 part water and wipe with a screwed up sheet of newspaper.

To disinfect toys, add a cup of white vinegar to soapy water.

Sanitize door knobs naturally by spraying with undiluted white vinegar. Wipe dry with a clean cloth.

Mix 1 part white vinegar to 1 part water in a spray bottle and spritz the air, to act as a natural air freshener.

To deodorize and sanitize a mattress which has been stained with urine, mix 1 part water to 1 part white vinegar and apply liberally. Sprinkle the area generously with baking soda, and leave overnight to dry. In the morning, vacuum the mattress.

If your scissors are sticky from tape residue, scrub the blades with a clean cloth which has been dipped in undiluted white vinegar.

To remove decals or sticker residue from doors and walls, rub the area vigorously with white vinegar. Allow the vinegar to soak in for a few minutes then attempt to peel the decal or sticker. Repeat if necessary.

If you have paint spatters on your windows, boil a little white vinegar in a kettle. Apply to the paint spots and leave for a few minutes to allow the paint to soften, before gently scraping it off the pane with a suitable tool.

Clean hardened paint brushes by soaking them in white vinegar. Boil the vinegar in a kettle first, then soak the brushes for 2 to 3 hours. Rinse the brushes thoroughly before use.

To clean make up brushes easily, mix 1 part white vinegar to 1 part water and add in a few drops of baby shampoo. Swirl the brushes in the vinegar solution, then rinse clean with warm water. Reshape the bristles and allow the brushes to air dry.

To clean a hair brush, soak the brush in a solution of 1 part water to 1 part white vinegar for 15 minutes. Rinse the brush to remove any remaining residue, and allow to dry.

Kill garden weeds, spray them liberally with undiluted white vinegar. Be careful not to spray cultivated plants.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Best DIY Garden Ideas

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It is nearly Easter weekend, and many people will be enjoying 4 days off. I'm not sure if it is the same in other countries, but here in the UK long weekends tend to coincide with a big rush to the DIY store. And, since it is spring, garden projects seem to be huge at the moment.

If your outside space needs a little love, here are ten of my favorite garden ideas.

First up is this gorgeous DIY bench which doubles as a planter, by My Daily Randomness. Since UK homes are not quite as spacious as those belonging to our American cousins, I am a huge fan of things which are multi-functional!

We really need an occasional table in our garden, so I was inspired by this pallet gardening table by SAS Interiors. As well as planting seedlings, it would also be great next to a barbecue to help with food preparation. Now I just need a pallet or two...

Ok, I confess I cheated and bought some raised vegetable planters. But this cute planter by At Home At Home looks super simple to make, and you can create a raised bed which fits your space perfectly.

About 3 years ago I bought a DIY garden stone kit and used it to create a keepsake, using my children's hand prints. The kit was quite pricey, and I remember thinking I could have just done a DIY version for a fraction of the cost. Which is just what Intimate Weddings has done - check out their great tutorial.

For years, my husband and I really, really wanted a firepit. In the end we finally got a beautiful cast iron table which has a firepit insert, but if we didn't have that I would definitely be using this tutorial by The Inspired Room to create our own.

Every time I visit our local garden centre, I have to practically drag my son away from the wooden swing seats - he is so desperate for one! If I can figure out a suitable place to put one, I am my husband is totally making this.

I'm not sure why, but I love this pallet garden path by Funky Junk Interiors.

Pretty lighting can create a really welcoming atmosphere, and these cute tin can lanterns look super easy to make. Head over to Craft Foxes, to find out how to make them.

Not up for a big project this weekend? These rock garden markers are just pebbles which have been painted with chalkboard paint, then labelled with acrylic. So simple.

And, just in case you haven't yet realized how versatile pallets are, here is some clever DIY garden storage by Our Little Acre.

What will you be doing over the Easter weekend?

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Glitter Digital Tape

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Glitter digital tape has been on my to do list since I created a set of glitter blog icons, but I hadn't got around to creating them. However, one of my readers put in a request for it this week and I was happy to oblige. :-)

There are nine different colours in the pack (including colours which are an exact match to my glitter social media buttons). The files are in .png format so that the background is transparent, but unlike my digital washi tape the tapes are fully opaque.

Each strip of digital glitter tape is 400 pixels by 100 pixels, but you can resize them as needed using PicMonkey or Photoshop.

Monday, 7 April 2014

When To Plant Vegetables Guide

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Since we moved to a home with a decent sized garden I've slowly been learning about how not to kill plants how to grow things. But every spring, when I start planning which fruit and vegetables I am going to plant, I can never remember when seeds need to be planted, when they should be planted out in the garden or when I can harvest them. So this year I am trying to be more organized and have created this handy printable (which I am also sharing with you!).

I think this handy "when to plant vegetables" printable will make planning a vegetable garden much quicker and easier!

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Easter Egg Decorating Ideas

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I love that Easter falls quite late this year, because it means that the school holidays fall in the two weeks leading up to it. That means two whole weeks of crafts and themed activities with the kids!

I have been busy browsing Pinterest and some of my favorite blogs for inspiration, and thought that I would share some of the best Easter egg decorating ideas I've come across. Some of these are amazing. :-)

Aren't these cool? Subway art eggs by Lil Luna.

You can't go wrong with a bit of glitter. Love these eggs by Girl. Inspired.

Jute eggs are on my to do list for Easter decorating, so I was thrilled to find this cute tutorial by one of my favorite bloggers; Taryn from Design, Dining & Diapers.

So sweet! Polka dot eggs in pastel shades by Craftberry Bush.

Confession time. Washi tape is huge, but I don't even own any. Perhaps these adorable eggs will be the push I need to buy some. By Lovely Indeed.

Stamped eggs, used as Easter place cards. By Love Grows Wild.

I also think that these calligraphy inspired eggs by Oh Happy Day would make great place settings.

I couldn't do a round up without including chalkboard Easter eggs - chalkboards rock! My favorite chalkboard eggs are by The Red Thread.

These look so simple to make and the end result is gorgeous (they look just like dragon's eggs) Created by Create. Craft Love, shared at The 36th Avenue.

Gold leaf Easter eggs by Dream A Little Bigger.

Ombre eggs - so pretty! By Ashbee Designs.

These leaf print eggs would be great fun to try with the kids. By

Watercolor Easter eggs by Spoon Fork Bacon.

These polka dot Easter eggs were one of the first things I pinned after joining Pinterest! I still love them. They are from Better Homes and Gardens.

If you don't like messy crafts, then these fabric covered eggs, from Sewing Daisies, are ideal.

Sharpie eggs by Obviously Sweet. Love the simplicity of the black and white design.

Can you believe that these marbleized eggs were done with nail polish? By Camille Styles

A clever (and pretty) way to use up broken egg shells. Mosaic eggs by Say Not Sweet Anne.

In our house, we collect temporary tattoos faster than we can use them, so I was delighted to find that you can tattoo boiled eggs! (Via Ladies' Home Journal).

I have a soft spot for anything Victorian, so love these silhouette eggs by Rook No. 17.

Sweet and infinitely doable. By The Paper Cut Magazine (which can be read online).

I pretty much had this post all scheduled and ready to go when I came across Monsieur Egg by MomDot. Couldn't resist adding this little fella into the compilation!

The last Easter eggs in my compilation aren't eggs at all; they are made from balloons. But these Easter egg pinatas by Oh Happy Day are so perfect I couldn't not include them.