Category Archives: Cleaning

DIY Fridge Mats

Standard

I hate cleaning the fridge. Who doesn’t? With two little boys who like to poke around the refrigerator contents, spills and subsequent cleaning are frequent. Sick of the mammoth task of removing all the food, lugging and washing the massive glass shelves, I decided to have a go at creating my own fridge mats.

I found heaps of inspiration in cyberspace for DIY refrigerator liners. I settled on using thick  plastic placemats for mine.

I wanted a nice bright print and picked up these green chevron placemats and coasters at the Reject shop for $4 a set. DIY Fridge Mats

As my refrigerator shelves are so wide, I needed 3 packs of placemats to do the job. I carefully measured and cut the placemats to suit my first shelf and used these as a template to complete the fridge. It really wasn’t that big of a task. It was a little fiddly to get the initial measurements right, then it was smooth sailing.  DIY Fridge Mats

I just love how clean, bright and fun the inside of my refrigerator looks now! Unfortunately, the pictures do not do the project justice. We are having horrible weather here and there is no light to photograph in.

DIY Fridge Mats

DIY Fridge Mats

The placemats have nicely ‘clung’ to the glass shelves and do not move around when shifting items. Now when a spill occurs, instead of having it turn into a giant cleaning task, I just remove the placemats, give them a quick wipe down and return them to their place.

I just love completing a small project that I know will save me time and energy. The fact that it has also livened up my fridge is a happy bonus.

Have a great day.

 

 

Organising Children’s Art Supplies With Tupperware

Standard

A while back I gave my pantry a makeover.  With the addition of the Thermomix in the kitchen, my pantry underwent a change.  There were a lot less cans and processed foods and a whole lot more basic ingredients. I desperately needed more storage containers and I was just not prepared to drop a grand on Tupperware to house it. As I hate to miss-match, the Tupperware I did own, came out of the pantry and went into storage.

Looking at the Tupperware taking up space in my storage cupboard today, I decided I had to make use of it.  I went to my most hated storage solution, the kids’ craft tub and decided that Tupperware might just save the day.

The old craft tub was huge and filled with a million bits and pieces. The half empty packets and the buttons and  beads laying loose made finding what I needed a challenge.

After a good purge and some help from the littlies to sort, we filled most of my spare Tupperware containers.

Using Tupperware to Organise Craft Supplies

Using Tupperware to Organise Craft Supplies

If our little collection of craft supplies should exceed our Tupperware collection, I will just pick up the super cheap knock-off version you can get in Kmart.

Kmart's Tupperware Knock-off

I love that I regained some space and made good use of the once wasted Tupperware.  I think that craft time will be a lot less painful with this storage solution. 

Children’s Flash Card and Activity Book Storage

Standard

For the last week I have been on a mission to organise those annoying bits and pieces about the house and garden. I hope to pop some posts up about these little projects because even if your abode doesn’t suffer from the same annoyance, you might get some inspiration to help you with something about the house. I know that is often how I get my ideas on how to tackle things. Today I focused on the tackling some kid’s mess.

My 4-year-old loves activity books.  You know the sort… with pre-writing, easy letter or number activities?

A while back I bought a whole heap of them on sale and they each came with a set of flash cards. He has every conceivable set available – numbers, letters, words just to name a few.

I had these stored in a basket but the boys had got into it for some card-throwing fun.  All the sets were jumbled and their cardboard cases squished.  They needed some organising know how.

Not too long ago I picked up one of these very cute A5 accordion file at Officeworks for just a few dollars.Organising Kid's Flash Cards

I loved the green colour and knew something or other would benefit from its addition to the house.  Enter the flash cards.

After spending a ridiculous amount of time rearranging the cards into their packs, I slotted them into the file and labelled each section.

Organising Kid's Activties

Now the flash cards are secured inside, no accidental drop will send these babies flying.  The box also has a handle which makes it easy to move around the house.Organising Kid's Activties

As for the activity books, they had been kept messily in a  drawer. I thought it best to pull them out and place them into something that made them easier to see and access.

I rummaged through my storage cupboard to find a Mimi Separator from Howards Storage World. I had used it to store things in my freezer of all places but it was no longer needed.

Organising Kid's Activties

It has handles and is perfect for moving to where the action is taking place

Now that these things are neat, I have decided that they are more than welcome to stay out.  I found a place for them in the kids’ playroom. By adding this cute container that once had a life as a recipe holder, I added some pencils and made a little station for these activities.

Organising Kid's Activties

Organising Kid's Activties

I love it when you find a nifty solution to your organising problems. Especially when you find the solution amongst the items making your storage cupboard messy.  It is like killing two birds with one stone!

Homework / School Paperwork Drop Zone

Standard

As Kindergarten approaches last term and primary school starts next year for my eldest, we know our relatively ‘carefree’ parenting days are over.  Around the corner looms homework, permission slips and assignments, just to name a few.

At the moment, most of the paperwork that comes into the home from school is managed at the fridge – with magnets, or worse, is kept in the car glovebox!  It is beginning to look messy and things are being forgotten.  Increasingly the tasks sent home require some action from my son and I wanted these pieces to be more accessible to him.

So I set out to create a drop zone for all this ‘stuff’. I decided the best place to keep this was on the back of his bedroom door. That way it wasn’t taking up precious space in our living areas and it was accessible for my son.

Here is what the completed zone looks like.

Homework / School Paperwork Drop Zone

The zone is made up of …..

  • My After School Routine printable,  downloaded from Living Locurto.  We have had it pinned around the house for over a year now, so it makes sense for it to be placed in this zone now
  • A magnetic white board calendar (Quartet). Perfect for recording all those easily forgotten datesHomework / School Paperwork Drop Zone
  • Different sized plastic organisers (Ikea Pluggis).  These provide spots for holding pens for signing paperwork, writing on the calendar and Sharpies for labeling items heading to school.  Small containers for holding bits and bobs like ID cards and badges. Finally, a file to hold items like signed permission slips that need to be returned to school    Homewoork / School Paperwork Drop Zone
  • Plastic file holders (Martha Stewart Large Vertical Plastic Pocket) . One to hold general school paperwork like newsletters and tuckshop menus, the other for classroom paperwork like homework.Homewoork / School Paperwork Drop Zone

I have started to transfer the paperwork from my various ‘filing’ areas into this zone – a useful project as I found out that I am meant to be a fundraiser this weekend!  I am looking forward to testing its full usefulness beginning next week.

Beyond the Nappy / Diaper Bag: The Kids’ Bag

Standard

I gave away the whole nappy bag caper quite some time ago.  I hated that thing. It was undoubtably premature, my youngest isn’t yet two and is still in nappies. It has led to some very embarrassing and annoying events like my son doing a number two, five minutes into a play date and I didn’t have a spare nappy or packet of baby wipes.  Or the time I picked up the kid’s spoon I hadn’t yet cleaned and placed it, complete with yoghurt blob, into my handbag and on top of  my favourite designer purse.

So it was these school holidays that I decided I needed to get my act together.  I assembled my outing must haves and placed them in a kid’s backpack.

Beyond the Nappy Bag: Kids' Backpack

 

Take a look what I put inside……

  • Nappy wallet.  This one has a built-in changemat and holds our nappies, wipes, scented bags, hand sanitiser and nappy cream

Beyond the Nappy Bag: Kids' Pack

Beyond the Nappy Bag: Kids' Pack

  • Eating out Pack.  I picked up this three sectioned pencil case on clearance at Target.  It holds my children’s cutlery, plastic straws, disposable bibs and hand sanitiser.  I often throw the stray sachets of sugar, sauce and salt in here too. You never know when they might come in handy.  The cutlery set I love to use when out is  Fuel Primary Snap Flatware. It niftily snaps together for easy and compact transport.

Beyond the Nappy Bag: Kids' Pack

  • Kiddapotomus Tiny Diner Placemat. I love this thing! I have always hated the idea of my kids eating at restaurant and food court tables.  I don’t think they are particularly clean and kids always drop their food.  This is the solution.  It is a suction-capped placemat for kids.  It is wide enough that their hands and food won’t touch the table. It has a nifty little channel to catch any spills which doubles as a holder for the mat when it is rolled up.

Beyond the Nappy Bag: Kids' Pack

Beyond the Nappy Bag: Kids' Pack

  • Enjo Little Laundry Pack. Another love of mine! This little pack will remove any spill on your clothes while you are out. It comes in a nifty little pouch with a travel sized fabric fibre and miracle cloth. A true lifesaver and means I don’t have to carry a change of clothes around in this bag.  For those too-big-to-ignore clothing problems, I keep a change of clothes in the car kit.

Beyond the Nappy Bag: Kids' Pack

  • Kids’ ID bracelets. I pop these on the kids whenever we go somewhere with big crowds. It has my mobile number on it just in case they become lost.  You can pick these up from lots of places on the net.Beyond the Nappy Bag: Packing for Kids
  • The Mommy Hook. A great little invention that helps keep all your bags together in one place.  I often use mine to attach the kids’ backpack to the shopping cart or pram

Beyond the Nappy Bag: Kids' Pack

  • Baby wipes. What would we do without baby wipes?!

Beyond the Nappy Bag: Kids' Pack

The only thing I don’t carry in here that I would ordinarily pack in a bag such as this is sunscreen and insect repellant.  As we live in a super sunny part of the world, I have found it easier to keep large pump packs of sunscreen and insect repellant in the boot of our car and use it before or after we arrive at our destination.

So hopefully, now that I have all these items corralled into one handy backpack, I can avoid those unfortunate and embarrassing parenting events.  Time will tell ;)

 

Know Your Feel Good Clean

Standard

The weekend has left the Crooked Household….well…..crooked. Today is one of those days, where you can see there are a million things that need to be cleaned, done and fixed, but you just don’t know where to start.  You know there is no chance that you will get everything done and the whole thing is making  you annoyed.

It’s on days like this you need to do your Feel Good Clean before you tackle anything else.  You know what I mean, the cleaning tasks that take little effort but show big gains.  The tasks that instantly make your house feel lighter, cleaner and less cluttered.  The tasks that make you feel better about your home.

Everyone’s Feel Good Clean is different.  If you haven’t really thought about what those cleaning tasks are for you, they are most probably the ones you rush to when you get a last minute house guest.

Today I thought I would share with you my Feel Good Cleaning tasks.

1. Vacuum. Since having children and all the floor mess that comes along with them, I have perfected the art of the quick vacuum clean. Heaven help the toy or child that gets in the way of Mum with the Dyson.

2. Mop. Again I have perfected the quick mop.  When I want fast results I use a microfibre mop head with just a spritz of water.  The floor is cleaned really well and it is dry and ready to walk on in a minute.

Microfibre Mop

3. Make the beds.  Don’t worry, we always make the beds, but it is on my Feel Good Clean list as it instantly makes the bedrooms look neater.

Dinosaur themed boys bedroom

4. Tidy the kitchen benchtops.  We have an open plan house so the kitchen is visible from the living areas.  By removing the everyday clutter – books, loaves of bread, dishes and appliances,  I feel the house is less cluttered.

5. Polish the dining room table.  Again, as we have an open plan house and a glass dining table, the sticky little finger marks from meal times are visible to one and all.

6. Straighten couch cushions and floor rug.  Nothing entertains my boys more than messing with the couch cushions and sliding about on the rug.  Straightening them will most likely last about 20 minutes,  but for those 20 minutes, my lounge room looks good.

7. Clean the windows. The rear of our house, the living area, is almost entirely made up of glass.  When I do a Feel Good Clean I choose one or two sections of glass and give them a polish.  You can read how I have made cleaning window’s easier here. Nothing makes me happier than looking out of my freshly cleaned windows.  Weird, huh?

glass-mirror-wipes-viva

I did all of these jobs in just over 30 minutes this morning.  I was a whirlwind, but at the end of it the house looked neater and I felt a whole heap better.

I also scored some bonus cleaning in that time by warning the kids I was about to vacuum and mop.  They instantly jumped into protection mode, packing away toys and parking them on their play mat. Score!

What are your Feel Good Cleaning jobs?

A Weekend in the Garden

Standard

Our Sunshine State has not been looking that sunny for a while now.  The rain has been hanging around for longer than I care to remember.  I hate it, but the garden has loved it.

So for the last few weeks I have looked out over garden, happily watching my trees and plants grow visibly.  I have also, not-so-happily, watched the weeds grow.

This weekend I decided that I had to wrestle back control of my garden before it got too unruly.  Here’s a look at what I got up to on Saturday before the rain descended – AGAIN!

This is the alcove area where I love to have my coffee in the mornings.  You can read about it here and here.

071

Weekend Gardening

070

You can see the weeds have well and truly taken up residence in the stoned area and my poor succulents in the small pot and agave in the large pot, have not faired too well in the wet weather.

After a fair deal of weeding, sweeping and some replanting, I improved the plants and the outlook of the area.  I put freshly laundered covers on the lounge’s cushions and treated the area to some new scatter cushions and placemat.

Weekend Gardening

 

Weekend Gardening

I just hope the rain stays away long enough to enjoy this area before the weeding has to be done again.

The front yard was looking a little messy with a lot of the summer toys still strewn about the place, like the paddling pool.

Weekend Gardening

 

Taking the time to pack things away and give the outdoor furniture a wash down, improved the area a lot.

Weekend Gardening


Weekend Gardening

I cleared out the garden beds and staked all my Cordyline plants that have grown out of control.  Each plant has sprouted 2-3 shoots. Until I decide what to do with all my ‘free’ plants, I think it is best to leave them as is.

Weekend Gardening

Take a look at the lemons growing on my tiny tree.  It really is the most prolific tree for its size.  As it is only its second season, I removed most of the fruit, at least 25 lemons.  I don’t know how this pipsqueak of a tree thought it could handle that many fruit!

Weekend Gardening

Tomorrow the plan is to tackle the backyard.  There is lots of weed pulling, pruning and replanting to be done.  I’ll pop in and show you the progress.

 

 

 

Taming Loyalty Cards in Your Wallet

Standard

It seems like just about every store these days has a loyalty card.  You know what I am talking about….those credit card like annoyances that take up every slot in your wallet.  My wallet was so chock-a-block full of them that I rarely found the one I wanted, which meant I missed out on the points, offers or discounts they provided.

A little while back I showed you how I tamed my coffee loyalty cards in a plastic sleeve.  You can read about that here.

Taming Coffee Loyalty Cards

This has served me well with the mostly cardboard cards,  but I had not thought it suitable to apply to plastic cards.  I wanted something  that was robust, easy to flip through and access whilst I completed my transaction at the checkout but had yet to come up with a solution.

It was an amused sales clerk, watching me go through dozens of card slots looking for a particular card, that suggested I put the cards on a key ring .  What a simple, yet brilliant idea!

This morning I gave my wallet a good clean out and gathered up all my loyalty cards.  There was a lot, and that was after a massive cull!

Taming Store Loyalty Cards

I grabbed the electric drill and a small drill bit and began drilling holes through all the cards.  I leant on a piece of wood to ensure a cleanly drilled hole.  The whole process took only a few minutes. If you have a quality hole punch, it would probably do the trick too.

I threaded the cards onto a key ring that was lying around unused.  It is probably a little small, but it will do until I find a larger one.

Taming Store Loyalty Cards

Taming Store Loyalty Cards

I know this will work a treat.  No more hissy fits for me at the checkout! Nothing will slow down this little shopping buff!

Creating a Smoother Day – Morning Routine

Standard

Previously, I had written about my New Year’s Resolution to make my days run smoother.  I realised the key to success would be my morning and evening routine.  Last week I listed some of the tasks that I included in my evening routine to ensure my following day started off on the right foot.  Today, I thought I would share with you my morning tasks that ensure that the rest of the day runs smoothly for me.

  • Go for a walk – This is the first thing I do every morning.  I find I feel a lot more energised and ready to face the day after a walk

  • Drink a glass of warm lemon water – this gets the fluid intake going early in the day and the lemon aids all sorts of things such as digestion and the immune system

  • Unpack the dishwasher – as the dishwasher was run while I was sleeping, the dishes are dry and washer is then ready for dishes used throughout the day
  • Do any last lunch box preparation and packing
  • Unload the washing machine – the cycle, set on timer the night before,  finishes just as I am returning from my morning walk.  While I am happy to wash clothes, I loathe hanging them out and bringing them in.  This is hubby’s task.  Until he reliably remembers that each morning there is washing to hang up, I unload the washing machine and place the full clothes basket in the hall so he can’t miss it.

  • Make the beds

There are also things on the ‘not to do’ list as well.

  • Turn on the television 
  • Hop on the computer to check emails, Facebook etcetera
  • Be side tracked by non-urgent tasks (usually cleaning tasks).  They can wait till later.

By completing this small list of tasks, I immeasurably improve the running of the rest of  my day.  I have still left ample time in the mornings to have a play with the kids, eat breakfast, shower and dress for the day in a very civilised fashion.

Between the morning and evening tasks, things are running relatively smoothly in the Crooked Household.  Far less flying by the seat of our pants moments!

Creating a Smoother Day – Evening Routine

Standard

Last week I wrote about my desire for my days to run a little more smoothly in 2013.

In the past, I found my days rushed or thrown into disarray because of a lack of preparation for the coming day in the previous evening’s routine.  Obviously, I needed to listen to the advice I often give my husband – Prior Preparation Prevents Poor Performance.

I decided there was a few things that I needed to have ticked off the ‘to do’ list before my head hit the pillow each night.  I don’t have a set time that these things get done, as some can be started or completed if I get a spare minute or two during the day.  Most of them get completed after dinner or just before I head to bed. Take a look…

  • Wipe down & sanitise the dining room table, children’s table & children’s high chairs.  Nothing is more annoying than finding you forgot to clean up last night’s spaghetti from the high chair as your 1-year-old is desperate for breakfast.
  • Tidy kitchen – pack dishwasher, pack away appliances and wipe benches. Who wants to be greeted with a messy kitchen in the morning?
  • Fill the family’s water bottles and refrigerate.  Place lunch boxes on the bench ready to pack in the morning. Too often I would find myself running late after spending precious time trying to locate the family’s lunch boxes and drink bottles
  • Put the kids’  breakfast cereal in their bowls ready for the morning.  I found these great lidded bowls, with matching cutlery, that are perfect for breakfast cereals. I appreciate not having to wrestle with the cereal boxes early in the morning while a 4-year-old exclaims, “I’m soooo hungry!” Evening Routine
  • Pack away any stray children’s toys.  I enjoy how uncluttered the house feels when the living areas are toy-free.
  • Choose an outfit for myself  to wear tomorrow.  Iron it if needed.  Generally the kids’ clothes are ready to go for the week.  You can read about my kids’ clothes hangers here.025
  • Consult my organiser and meal planner as a ‘heads up’  for the next day’s happenings and meals Meal Planner
  • Defrost any items needed for tomorrow’s meals
  • Load the washing machine and program the cycle to start in the early morning.
  • Put the dishwasher on just before bed

I choose to run the dishwasher late at night and the washing machine early in the morning as these are energy off-peak times.  It makes them so much more economical to run.

I have made a concerted effort to incorporate these tasks into my evening routine and I am seeing a real benefit.  I am going to bed feeling less cluttered.  The house and my mind are just not as messy.  As my AM is now freed from some of these tasks, the mornings are less hurried and chaos doesn’t descend. YES!