Friday, 8 May 2009

Getting rid of big and expensive clutters

It is relatively easy to bin small and inexpensive clutter but not the big and expensive stuff. Here are two ways of setting your mind to your clutter go.

1 Make yourself realise that the items are costing you money
Those big and expensive things are taking up your living space. Unless you own your house right out, then you are in fact paying a mortgage or rent every single month to keep the clutter. It is not much different from hiring a commercial storage space to keep it. Also, to protect the clutter, you might be paying an insurance premium. Lastly, in near future, your might have to pay to your council or a company to dispose large items. You already do with your car.

2 Think that you recovered your investment at the moment you shopped for it
You experienced the joy and excitement of aquireing your item. You had fun selecting, purchasing and taking it back home. You got your money worth already for the period of use however long or short. If it is no longer useful to you, then why don't you let it go? You have already recovered your investment long ago and are not acquiring any value from it anymore.

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Wednesday, 15 April 2009

3 Basic Method of Tidying

There seems to be 3 basic steps we can take to realise a tidy house:
1 Allocate a set address for everything you own
2 Put back things to their home immediately after using them
3 Never move room to room without picking up something to put away

1 Allocate a set address for everything you own
We need to give each item a logical and practical address to suit us. For example, you may keep your nailcutter in your bathroom. But if you have a habit of grooming yourself while relaxing in the living room, then you must keep it somewhere in the living room. Otherwise, the nail cutters will just get left around. Or worse, being put away in some temporary space and you'll end up wasting time searching for it. It sounds simple, but sometimes we aren't conscious of our own habits! We need to analyse our behaiviour to decide what goes where.

2 Put back things to their home immediately after using them
If you find it difficult to stick to this, then you might reconsider the item's address. It might be kept too far away from the place you usually use it or you need to take too many steps to reach and return it!

3 Never move room to room without picking up something to put away
On this, I am still in training. I want it to be like second nature. Ultimately, I need to do this without even thinking about it! But for now, I am enjoying it as a game.

I guess these 3 methods are well known. I am trying but still my house isn't always tidy. I think that is because I am lazy. I know! But seriously, I want to forgive myself for not being a dedicated homemaker, at the same time I want to look like one by utilising clever tricks and ideas.

One reason that I cannot completely comply with the 3 methods is that maybe I still have too many items. I need to remove clutter and should try reducing the number of items I use by making one tool to do more than one job. I need to reconsider the addresses of those items if they tend to travel around. Maybe I should even choose and find a home for an item before aquireing it! I also should have some space for overflow or new items.

I would like to keep everything streamlined and hide it out of sight, but this is simply not practical. So I have an everyday family mode and a guest mode where I temporarily hide ugly items.

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Friday, 3 April 2009

Under the sink rubbish bin used as storage

Our kitchen has a built-in bin, but I don't use it to dispose kitchen waste. I find it is too much to first open the cupboard door, then to lift the lid and finally to place the rubbish. It requires 3 actions. Kitchen waste is often watery and tends to leave spillages around the area. I would rather dispose of it outside of the cupboard in a free standing bin, so that I can wash the whole thing and wipe the surrounding surfaces without getting down on my knees.

This is the bin in question.

I removed the blue bucket and wiped the bin inside out. I found a part of it comes off! It is always easier to clean if things can be dissembled.

I keep non messy dry kitchen cleaning supplies here. For examples, shopping bags waiting to be re-used, sponges, blue clothes, pan scourers and a stock of bin liners.

I also use a shoe box and other empty boxes on top of this bin to keep the following things:
bin bags, surface wiping clothes, delicate wash bags and small used plastic bags.

I use the small plastic bags to collect things like vegetable skin and used kitchen towels. At the end of cooking and cleaning session, I tie it and bin it.

The contents of the shoe box is light, so I can leave it there when I lift the lid of built-in bin. Less action, Less waste of energy!

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Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Removing Brown-tapes and Stickers Residue

I use white spirit to clean off the residue of brown-tapes and stickers. Here, I removed a brown-tape residue on the laminated wood surface under the sink . I think it is safe to use white spirit on surfaces like laminated wood, stainless steel and tiles, but you should test the effect somewhere which is not conspicuous first, just to be sure.

Here is a bottle of white spirit.

This is the brown-tape residue.

Halfway there.

Gone! I didn't really need to exert much energy.

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Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Using acrylic CD or DVD case as bookend

When I organise things inside my house, I try to strike the right balance between visual pleasantry and practicality. If everthing is behind closed doors, it might look streamlined and cool. Yet if I need to make more than 2 actions to pick up objects which are used daily or several times a day, I will start leaving them on the floor and surfaces. Because it is too much! When I have to leave things in view, I try my best so that those object look pretty.

Here, I have been using an empty cardboard box as a bookcase/bookend.

I organised the books and replaced the cardboard box with an aclyric CD case. I like using aclyric CD and DVD cases as bookend. They are clean, shiny and won't slip like the usual letter L shaped bookends. This particular CD folder is from Muji and it is about 8 pounds. A bit pricey...

I use empty cardboard boxes such as cereal boxes to organise things around my house. They are free, so I modify it as I like and when they get tired I replace them without hesitation. Here, I organised one of my son's toy box.

If you look closely, you can see that I had drawn pictures of the toys inside of the box.

Like this. It is a little difficult draw on the bottom of the box, but it doesn't have to be presise as it is not on view. If you can make out what it is, that is enough.

The box is for this toy piano.

I placed all the toys where they should go.

The box in situe. The outside box is from Muji.

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Monday, 30 March 2009

Separating two stuck glasses

Our flat is very small and my father-in-law described it as 'A shoe box size flat'. But I was so happy as it is a huge improvement from our previous flat. According to my father-in-law, that one was 'A postage stamp size flat.'

Anyway, our small flat has a small kitchen with limited cupboard space. We have to stack up mugs and glasses to save space. The other day, one glass got stuck inside another! So predictable! (Then why did you do it...) I am not sure if oiling them or soaping them also works, but what I used was ice, water and vapour from boiling water.

Step 1
Place several ice cubes in the inside (top) glass and half fill it with cold water.

Step 2
Boil some water in the kettle and open the lid. Be careful so that you don't burn yourself! Place the bottom half of the two stuck glasses over the boiling water. It's best to avoid letting the glasses touch the water as it might cause them to crack.

Lift the glasses out of the hot steam after waiting a couple of minutes. With one hand, hold the ouside (bottom) glass using a tea towl or an oven glove. Then with the other hand, gently lift the inside (top) glass. They should separate without much force.

What I hoped and I think actually happned was, the air in the outside (bottom) glass espands with heat and the inside (top) glass itself contracts with the cold. Maybe I could separate the glasses by simply warming the outside (bottom) glass, I am not sure. If it happens again, I will test that. Meanwhile, I now use kitchen paper to separate my stacked glasses and the next time I go out buying glasses, I'll make sure I choose the ones designed for stacking.

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Sunday, 29 March 2009

Organising your kitchen cupboard

I have re-organised some of my kitchen cupboard as I often found my self wasting time seaerching for ingredients. Here are the results.

This cuppoard is situated left side of my cooker. I used to have two of the pale blue plastic baskets you can see here. Small packets were on top of each other and it was difficult to find what I needed. I bought an add on shelf and three plastic containers with handles from Lakeland to place on top of the add on shelf. I also added empty cereal boxes to make partitions so that things stay in position.

The blue plastic basket situated on the bottom shelf holds heavier things like dried noodles, cous cous and rice. Under the add on shelf, I placed boxed and flat objects. The three plastic containers holds only light things and they also have handles, so they are still accesible without strain even though its in a high position.

This cuppoard is situated on the right side of my cooker. On the top shelf, I used to keep flour in its original paper bag as I wanted minumum hassle. But the paper bags are not that strong are they? Sometimes it got torn and leaked the contents over my worktops. Disaster!

So relactantly, I bought some plastic containers from Ikea to keep sugar and various kinds of flour. I labeled them using some post-it notes. The bad thing is that each container doesn't hold whole bag of content. So I am keeping the remains in the original paper bag behind the containers. I am using a card board box to keep those so that I can also place some stock of seasonings on top.

On the bottom shelf, I keep my herbs and spices on a rotating shelf from Lakeland. I have some space on the left, so I keep bottled oils and seasonings there. I made sure that there is enough space over the bottles, so that I can lift and bring out the ones from the back.

I keep breakfast cereals, tinned food, teas, coffees, snacks and sweets in the other cupboard which I will show later.

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Saturday, 28 March 2009

Re-using a pretty tissues box

I live with two young children and use a lot of tissue paper to wipe thier face or to pick up spilled cornflakes etc. I use toilet paper instead of tissue paper because it is cheaper! Yet toilet paper doesn't look very pretty in the living room. One day I came up with this cover up idea. The good thing is that it is free as I am re-using an Ella Doran look Sainsbury's 60 Scented white tissues box. It is so easy. Give it a try!

This is a shop sold tissues box. The size is about 12cm x 12cm x 12cm.

The same thing is shown the vent side up.

Cut three sides as shown. Then create one or two tabs as shown. Turn over the tabs and staple them in place. Here, my first tab in the middle was too short and didn't work as a latch. Some mistakes do not matter though. This side will be the bottom and it won't be visible.

Close up of the tab which works as the latch.

Take a roll of toilet paper. Mine is the cheapest Sainsbury's own brand one. It is smaller than the regular brand and it fits well with in the box. I recommend pulling the paper from the middle for easy access. Think of a ball of knitting yarn... To remove the middle paper holder, squash the roll once horizontally, then squash again vertically. That way, you can bend the paper holder as shown and you can pull it out easily.

Set the middle paper hoderless toilet paper in the box you adopted. Voila!

The result looks 1000 times better than a bare toilet roll.

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