What Lies Within

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Today I cleaned the vanity unit in our bathroom.  It is generally a quick wipe over the mirror with home-made window cleaner then the sink and surrounds with a cream cleanser – also home-made.  The recipe for the window cleaner is simply 400ml water, 100ml vinegar and a few drops of dishwashing liquid mixed in a spray bottle.  The recipe for the cream cleanser is here.

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Nowhere are my minimalist tendencies more evident than in the bathroom.  All that is on the bench is a toothbrush holder (repurposed vase with a hole drilled in the bottom) and a soap dish with a small cake of hand soap.  Keeping the bench clear makes it easy to clean.

However, today I cleaned the cupboards and all of the drawers so the first task was to remove everything.  This is the contents of my vanity unit laid bare.

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I started with the cupboard as that was relatively easy.  The large box on the right hand side contains all medications and first aid supplies.  I had cleaned and sorted this a few weeks ago, including removing any expired medications which I returned to the chemist for disposal.

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Then it was on to the drawers.  The top two have 4 clear plastic containers which I use to divide and contain the contents.  I bought them about 10 years ago from Howard’s Storage World.  After washing and drying the containers, I reviewed and replaced the contents.  GMan uses one drawer and I have the other.

This is mine.

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There are no photos of the other drawers but the third one has a bag of essentials, including prescription medications and the relevant paperwork.  This is specifically to grab and add to our evacuation kit if the need should ever arise.  In order for the medication not to expire, I constantly use and replace these medications on a weekly basis.

The bottom drawer has an assortment of extra stock such as toothpaste, toothbrushes, and shower caps as well as my hairdryer.

I threw out a few things but this was predominately a cleaning exercise.  I found various sample-sized items as well as some almost empty bottles that simply need to be used up.  I put everything in the container below and will leave it out on the bench to remind us to use them.

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Not the Regular Rubbish

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It is about 10 days since I last emptied the small rubbish bin in the kitchen.  This week it is lined with an empty corn chip packet and most of the usual culprits are still there – a rice cracker packet, cheese wrapper, toothpaste tube, an empty mayonnaise bottle and so on.

Every week there seems to be some ‘one off’ items and this time is no different.


On the weekend I cleaned out the drawers in the vanity in the bathroom.  Of course, this is not the first time I have cleaned and decluttered the drawers in the vanity unit.  This post is from about 12 months ago.  If you look carefully you will see the nail polish in one of the photos.

Anyway, the 3 bottles of nail polish have gone in the bin.  They came to me via Freecycle over 10 years ago and I have used them intermittently for my toenails – I have never painted my fingernails as it was not compatible with my work.  I last did my toenails just before Christmas and at that point decided that I would not do them again.  The cotton cloth was used with the nail polish remover so it is going, too.

The other item in the photo is a globe from the headlight of GMan’s ute.  It had stopped working so needed to be replaced.  GMan was able to remove the old one, buy a new globe and install it.  It is good to be able to tackle these type of jobs ourselves.

Spot the Difference

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The more progress you make in the quest to streamline your home and keep only the things that you use or love, the less spectacular the changes may be.

Here is an example.

I recently cleaned and sorted the cupboard in the vanity unit.

This is the ‘before’ photo.

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Some would say that it is fine, however, I knew that it was not as I wanted it and there were things that I needed to sort out.

I removed everything from the cupboard and wiped over the shelves.

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These things did not go back.  The small shampoo and conditioner are being used.  The large unused container of hand sanitiser has been discarded.  I discovered that it had an expiry date of 2011.  I bought that as a ‘just in case’ but it turned out to be a wasteful exercise.  Th barely used hairspray is going to my daughter – I never use it.  The tube of ‘toddler’ toothpaste has been discarded as the grandchildren are no longer toddlers.  The remainder of a box of Panadeine Forte has been discarded as it had expired.  Empty packet is in the recycling.  Tablet packaging, old toothbrushes and cough lozenge packets are in the rubbish.

The ‘after’ photo.

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Not a great deal of difference but I can now see exactly what is there to be used.  The biggest difference is in the re-arranged crate.

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I could actually downsize the container that I use but I do not have one suitable at the moment and I am not about to rush out and buy one just now.

A 15 Minute Job

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Sometimes it is difficult to find time to do anything much more than the basics – washing, ironing and cooking – done when I am busy at work.

However, tonight I managed to start and finish a small job in just 15 minutes.  I cleaned, tidied and sorted the drawers in the bathroom.  There are 4 drawers in the vanity unit but one is empty and I save that so that it is available for guests to use if they wish.

One drawer has GMan’s stuff, one is mine and the bottom drawer has the hairdryer so extra mini soaps and spare toothbrushes.

Here is my drawer before I started.

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There does not appear to be much difference once I had cleaned it  but a couple of things have gone.  It is a good opportunity to review what is actually in the drawer so that I can remind myself to use it.

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I did not photograph the other drawers before but here they are – clean and sparkling.

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Finally, I have finished the makeup that I wrote about recently.  These have been tossed in the bin and I am going to buy new lipstick, mascara and blush tomorrow.

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The cupboard in the vanity unit is the next thing on my hit list but not tonight.

Clutter-Free – Start Small


I often talk about decluttering various spaces and having less but today I want to focus my attention on having clear spaces.  I am not advocating jamming your cupboard full of stuff, however, the benefit of clear surfaces cannot be underestimated.  It is a task that is unlikely to be achieved in one go and can be enormously overwhelming.  That is why I focused my energy on one room – the bathroom.  It is the smallest room in the house and is designed for a specific purpose, therefore logically should be the easiest to minimise the ‘stuff’.

VanityI have had the benefit of a renovated bathroom which has an inherently streamlined design.  I love the fact that there is no plug lying around on the side of the sink.  There are only 2 items on the bench – a ceramic shell dish which holds a small bar of soap and a repurposed vase (The Duke drilled a hole in the base of it) which holds our toothbrushes.  It is a quick and easy task to keep this area clean and tidy.

Shower recessAs this is quite a compact area we chose not to have a bath – just an easy to access shower area.  I had seen this type of recessed shelf in motel bathrooms and asked the builder to create one when we remodelled the room.  I love the idea because it is simple and streamlined to the eye, nothing to rust or gather soap scum and there is no encroachment to bump into when you are showering.  From left to right there is shower gel, shampoo, conditioner, facewash and a nail brush – everything required when showering.

Toilet and floorThe floor is another place where clutter can gather.  I found these fittings which attach to the wall – a holder for extra rolls of toilet paper and the toilet brush holder are both clear of the floor and do not need to be moved when sweeping or mopping the floor.

Scales and basketsThe only 2 things on the floor of the bathroom are a set of scales and the waste paper basket.

My whole house does not look this clear but it is lovely to have achieved it in at least one room.

The vanity unit has a 2 door cupboard and 4 drawers.  Tomorrow I will reveal exactly what is lurking in there.

Back to the Bathroom


I know the old adage about housework being a never-ending job but I am pretty sure that decluttering falls into the same category.

Even though it does not seem that long since I went through the cupboard and drawers in the bathroom vanity I have just done it again.  The catalyst was a small bottle of rosehip oil that the rubber top of the dropper had perished and stuck to the side of the drawer.  I noticed this before Christmas but didn’t have time to deal with it properly then.  I also discovered that the last of my blush compact had crumbled and spilled into the perspex container so I took everything out, cleaned, sorted and tossed before returning everything to their rightful homes.

When I went to refill my tablet dispenser I noticed how grotty it was so I took it apart and washed it.

2013-01-02 01I knew these were in the drawer but when I saw them I decided to make the effort and actually use the foot soak and cream – feels good!

2013-01-02 02But first, I soaked my feet in my home-made remedy.  It is ground rolled oats and safflower oil.  I make it in the food processor  – grind the oats and then add the oil until it is a paste-like consistency.  Store in the refrigerator and add a tablespoon to some warm water and soak feet in it for 10 – 20 minutes.

2013-01-02 03This was originally given to me as a remedy for my daughter’s eczema – use in the bath instead of soap.  BEWARE – it makes the bath slippery and also needs cleaning very frequently.  However, it is worth it as I needed no nasty chemical lotions and potions.  I found that it healed my cracked, dry hands simply in the few minutes I had my hands in it when I was bathing my daughter.

A Thorough Clean

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I have managed to get most things back in order since we arrived home 10 days ago but the bathroom has been neglected.  The toiletries that we brought back were unpacked but had not been sorted and put away.

2012-09-26 01This afternoon I finally had time to give the cupboard a thorough clean.  I took everything out and sorted through it.  There was not a lot to throw out but it was good to make sure that everything went back in the correct place and a couple of sample size containers of shower gel have been put in the shower to be used up.

I also cleaned the shelves as it was several months since they were done.  The mirror and basin were cleaned as well.  Of course, one thing leads to another and while I was standing on the chair to reach the top of the mirror I noticed marks on the ceiling.  These appeared to be insect spots and while not really noticeable I decided to clean them as they would only get worse and more difficult to remove over time.  The Duke had painted the ceiling in a semi-gloss paint in an attempt to reduce the chance of mould growing and this made it quite easy to clean the ceiling.  A damp cloth was all I needed and the ceiling is looking as good as new.

Here is the freshly cleaned and organised vanity unit.

2012-09-26 02I also tidied up the drawers and even took some photos but you are just going to have to believe me on that one as I am having issues getting the photos to the blog.  I hope it comes good before tomorrow.

All I used to do my cleaning today was some warm water with a drop of detergent and a couple of clean cloths.  I try to minimise the chemicals that I use and during the next week I hope to share some of the alternatives that you can use.

Going, Going, Gone….

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Today we have spent the day at home catching up on several jobs.

The Duke painted the ceiling of the bathroom and I did the edges of the cornices and also the new architraves on the window and doors.  The ceiling is finished but the architraves need another coat.  We have had the dehumidifier running in the bathroom for most of the day to get the paint thoroughly dry.

Here is a photo which shows the new lights and also the painted ceiling and window frame.

2012-03-18 01I also sorted out various things in the workshop and space under the stairs.  Then it was time to list some things on Freecycle.  Sometimes I do not have much success and other days everything is wanted.  Today was a good day as I have found new homes for 3 small tins of paint, 2 spraycans of paint, a bathroom stool, the old showerscreen, some excess tiles from the laundry, tiling materials (adhesive, grout etc) and some timber slats.  It is great that other people will be able to use them and we have freed up a bit of space.

We moved the cupboard that had previously been at the foot of the stairs and it is now ensconced in the workshop.  All of the paint and painting equipment is now sorted and stored in the cupboard.

As is often the case, the re-arranging is a work in progress so is actually looking worse than when we started but that will soon change.

The showerscreen and mirror should be installed tomorrow so I am looking forward to that.  It will mean that I can then replace all of my china and ornaments back on the sideboard.  These were removed before the bathroom renovation so they would not be damaged when equipment was being brought in and out of the house.  Things will soon be back to normal.

As Poppet would say, ‘what is normal?’

Wet Washing


I read this post from Froogs last week and was reminded that although we live in the opposite hemisphere and it is spring here, it would soon be a struggle to get the washing dry.

We have mild, sunny winter days with relatively low humidity but the spring and summer are a different story.  The spring thunderstorms have started and before we know it we will have 6 months of humidity greater than 90%.

2011-10-15 01I do have a tumble drier but try to limit the use of it.  The dehumidifier is a very effective drier so I set up my wet washing in the bathroom with the dehumidifier.  The bathroom is a perfect choice as it is a small room so the effect is concentrated and as an added bonus the towels end up warm and dry as well.

2011-10-15 02The top rail of the shower screen is perfect to attach the hanger with socks and underwear (and the occasional ziplock bag!)

2011-10-15 03I retrieved the portable rotary clothesline from the cupboard and put it up in the bathroom.

2011-10-15 04In the really humid weather I also ‘air’ the ironed clothes for an hour or so with the dehumidifier to make sure they are totally dry before I put them away in the wardrobe.

2011-10-15 05We do have a rotary clothesline outdoors but I rarely use that as we have plenty of clothesline under the verandah.  However, when it is so humid I do resort to drying the clothes using the dehumidifier.

What seasons are a problem for you?  How do you get the clothes dry?

Bathroom Cupboard

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One of my challenges this week was to clean and tidy the vanity unit in the bathroom.  I tossed out a few things but mostly this project was about finding things that I had forgotten and making a mental note to use them up.  My goal is to have things simplified so that there are not multiple jars of  similar items.

Here are the ‘before’ photos.

2011-06-01 01All out on the floor

2011-06-01 02…sorted and back in an orderly state.

2011-0601 03I also sorted the 3 small drawers, however, I did not take any photos.  One thing I found was some toiletries which were half-used from a motel when I was travelling at some time.  I put the shampoo, conditioner and shower gel in the shower cubicle as a reminder to use them up.

Over the years I have heard lots of varying comments regarding the toiletries which are generally provided in motel accommodation.  So, here is your chance to have your say on this ‘important’ topic.