Hang It Up

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For those of you who have been following this blog for a long time or anyone who knows me well, it will come as no surprise to discover that one of my preferred organising methods is hanging things up.

Today I created a solution to a long-standing dilemma. As you would be aware from my last post, I sort my washing into light and dark loads, however, there is another small issue – the handwashing. I know that there are wash bags for delicates, designated wool cycles on the machine and so on but I choose to handwash my bras as well as any woollen or particularly delicate fabrics. Historically, these have always been tossed in the main laundry hamper and sorted out when I come to do a load of washing. Alternatively, they end up languishing on the laundry bench until I am ready.

In among some of my mother’s things were several small wash bags as well as a couple of much larger ones. The zip was broken on of these but I had a plan.

I set to work. 3 small hooks from the stash in the workshop. Installed just below the lower shelf in the laundry cupboard.

I then cut 3 small holes near the top edge of the bag and handstitched the edges to reduce any fraying.

Here is a close-up of my handiwork.

Can you see where this is going? 3 hooks, 3 holes?

The bag is now hanging and ready to hold any handwashing.

With the laundry hamper in place.

A full view of the cupboard which was originally a full-length space which was of limited use to me.

The 2 shelves were added by a builder when we had the laundry renovated about 15 years ago.

I added the upside down hook in 2015 to retain the small ladder.

Today’s addition is pretty much the icing on the cake in terms of storage solutions in this cupboard.

Words Make a Difference

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I was doing some cleaning today and one of the targets was a drawer in the kitchen. Some people might refer to this as the ‘junk drawer’ and in the past I may have done also.

However, I now call this my useful drawer. Does the name make a difference? I believe that it does. This drawer contains items that are useful. It is not junk. Therefore, when I periodically clean it out it is easy to identify what should be in there. It must be useful and preferably used at least semi-regularly. Junk has no place here and it is easy to remove and discard that which could be categorised as junk.

I did not take a before photo. A few things have been removed. I discarded a piece of used plastic cling film and a couple of small pieces of brown paper that were not big enough to be useful. 2 small instruction manuals have been re-homed with the rest of the instruction manuals.

This small pile of bread tags will be taken to a recycling drop-off point next time I am in town.

The main purpose of the exercise was to have a general clean, as this, like all other kitchen drawers and cupboards, do get grubby over time.

Here is the result of about 15 minutes work.

Back to the matter of words making a difference when decluttering or organising your home. The other phrase I often hear is “getting rid of stuff”. This is particularly unhelpful when dealing with items to which you have a sentimental attachment. It is more than ‘stuff’ and getting rid of it implies that it is worthless rubbish.

If you are dealing with grandma’s tea set, you are unlikely to just get rid of that stuff. But if you believe that you really are not going to use it, there are better ways to consider removing it from your life. You could try ‘letting it go’ which promotes the feeling of setting it free. How good would it be to let it go to someone who will cherish and use it rather than being shut up in the china cabinet?

Your mindset and internal language can make a huge difference when reviewing your possessions and decluttering.

I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences.

Chairs, Clothes and Other Bits

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We have recently replaced the protective felt feet on the legs of our kitchen chairs.  There are four high chairs which fit around our large return bench/meals area.

This project was undertaken two chairs at a time so for several weeks there have only been two chairs in the kitchen at any given time.  I realised how much less cluttered the area felt with only two chairs.  Since there is only GMan and I here most of the time, there is really no necessity to have four chairs.

The next question was, where could we store the other two chairs so that they would stay clean and be easily accessible when we had additional guests?  We found that the wardrobe in the guest room would be perfect but the space was currently occupied.  My off-season (summer) clothes were hanging on the rail and the floor was filled with about 100 magazines which are some of my retirement reading material as well as 5 large photo albums.

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I set about working out how I could re-arrange things.

The clothes were moved to the empty hanging space in the third bedroom which is used primarily as my sewing room.

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The photo albums provided the impetus to continue working on sorting and culling my photos – both digital and hard copy.  You can read more about that in my post from yesterday.  They will live in the library/study until they are no longer required.

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The magazines have been relocated to the drawers of the dressing table in the guest room.  I intend to make a start on reading them and expect that once I have finished reading them I will pass them on to someone else who may be interested in them.

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The chairs are now in the wardrobe but easy to retrieve when we need them.

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I am pleased with the final result and as an added bonus I have been spurred into doing some more work on the photos as well as making a start on reading my large collection of Australian Geographic magazines.

Easily Pleased

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Those of you who know me well or have been following this blog for an extended period of time will be aware that shopping is not a great love of mine.  For the most part, I have pretty well everything I need.  However, my plastic spatula which I have owned for at least 20 years met an untimely end courtesy of the blades of the blender.  I realised that I definitely needed one so checked online and found that Big W had Pyrex brand large and small silicone spatulas on special so when we were out and about on Tuesday I attempted to get one of each size.  The small ones were sold out so I will look again another day as GMan is keen for a small one to use when making sourdough.

In the meantime, here is the new addition to my collection of kitchen utensils.

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Coincidentally, I had planned to clean out the utensil jars and drawer.  Each time I do this there is usually something which I decide is no longer required but I have culled my collection of utensils to a point that everything is worthy of its place in the kitchen.

Like all decluttering/streamlining projects, there is no ‘one size fits all’ as we all have different needs in the kitchen.

I have 2 utensil jars.  These hold the majority of frequently used utensils.

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Here they are laid out on the bench.

The hand beater lives in the side of the regular cutlery drawer.

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The contents of the utensil drawer.  These are generally too small or too sharp to stand in a utensil jar.  Some, such as the vegetable peeler and measuring spoons are used every day while most would be used at least once a month and a few less frequently.

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I have an expanding bamboo divider which helps to keep them in some sort of order.  Once I had wiped the drawer and the divider, I replaced all of the items.

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There is one item missing from these photos.  The pie slice which GMan is revarnishing the wooden handle.

I have not shown the sharp knives which I keep separately in a knife block.

I have multiples of a few things – measuring spoons, tongs, wooden spoons and pastry brushes but these are all used.

What are your essential kitchen utensils?  Have you reviewed or reduced what you have recently?

Photos – Another Milestone

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There have been no blog posts for a few days but I have been beavering away in the background.

In my earlier post I mentioned that I was not ready to attack the large box of photos.  That resolve did not last for long and I decided that I needed to work on those as well as the digital files.  So, I began scanning.  This did not turn out to be as onerous as I had originally imagined.  The reason for this was that many of the hard copies in the box had, in fact, actually already been scanned.  Nevertheless, it meant that I needed to cross-check every photograph to ensure that it had been scanned and do those that had not previously been scanned.

Therefore, I am excited to report that all of my photos are now scanned and saved on the computer.  I still have a long way to go before I can declare that this project is finished.  The next stage is to work on culling any duplicates or poor quality images.  Once I have a curated collection for a particular folder they will then be numbered and named according the convention I have deemed suitable to ensure that the preferred sequence is maintained.

The last couple of weeks have been a bit testing as the various piles of photos took over the desk, the end of the kitchen bench and even some of the floor of the study.

One of the real highlights of this project has been the re-discovery of forgotten or rarely seen images.

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Far From Perfect

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2019 is nearly upon us and although I am not one for New Year’s resolutions it is a good time to start with a clean slate and perhaps set some goals.

While we were at the beach for a week I had plenty of time to give this some thought.  I have already started but my goal for 2019 is to have my photos sorted, culled, labelled and catalogued.  Any long-term readers of the blog will know that this is not the first time I have tried this but in 2019 it will happen.  I fully expect that this project may well take most of the year.

When I mentioned my goal in an online group I received a request ( a little tongue-in-cheek) about doing the same thing for other people.  While I will be well-occupied doing my own I can offer a few tips that may help you get started and assist in avoiding some of the pitfalls that have tripped me up on previous attempts.

Photographs are a way of preserving memories and we will all do it differently.  There are digital files – most common these days, prints in albums, a digital photo frame and photobooks.  They probably all have their place but whatever you do, you need to be able to locate and enjoy your photos as well as sharing them with others.

1.  Ask yourself what you are aiming to achieve.  This may determine how you approach the task.

I want to create a pictorial record of our lives which will be of interest and potentially useful (eg: family history) for future generations.  It needs to be accessible and fun to look at also.

2.  Decide on categories.

My broad categories include Holidays, Family, Blogs

3.  For digital files, create a naming convention which works for you.  It is important to remember to remember how digital files are ordered.  For example, if you number things as 1, 2, 3, 4 etc it will end up being 1, 11, 12, 13……………….19, 2, 20, 21 and so on.  To avoid this you need to know approximately how many items will potentially be in your sequence and number as 001, 002, 003 etc which will give you up to 999 in correct numerical order.

I use a numeric prefix for each photo before the description, otherwise they will be sorted alphabetically.  My London folder from my UK holiday might look like this:

01 Tower of London
02 London Bridge
03 Houses of Parliament
04 Paddington Station

4.  Specialised naming conventions may be relevant – or not.

All of my blog photos are in separate folders from the general photos and are named as follows yyyy-mm-dd 00.  The date relates to the date the post was published and the number is the first, second or third photo in the post.  This way I can locate them in the future if necessary.

5.  Decide what is really worth keeping.  Refer back to point No. 1.  Remember that the photo you took 1, 5, 10 or more years ago may simply not be of any value to you or others now or in the future.  Be prepared to be ruthless and discard those images that are duplicated, very similar to another or that you cannot remember the details.  If you can’t remember or identify a photo now it is not going change in the future.

6.  Make sure you identify people in your descriptions – memories fade as the years pass.

7.  Photographic negatives are not required if you have a print.  Discard old negatives.

I am sure there are many more things to consider but these are a few to get you started.

Once I have sorted the digital files which include hundreds of prints that I scanned a few years ago, I will then move on to the various piles of prints which are semi-categorised and stored in packets in a shoebox.  I am aiming to only have digital files which are all named and sorted.  Your goal may be a little different.

Here are some examples of what you may want to keep.

This is a perfectly pleasant scene but it does not really hold any specific memories for me and it would not be of any benefit to future generations.  As an aside, it is overlooking the Great Ocean Road in Victoria and was taken in 1982.  I only know this because of the other photos in the series and the particular trip was taken when our elder daughter was about 3 months old.

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On the other hand, the photo below is one of the first photos taken which includes all of my siblings.  This holds a special place in my heart and with the addition of the names and a year would be both a special memory as well as a valuable resource to my descendants.

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Storage Solution – Evolution

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When you read about storage solutions it often involves parting with money at a large department store in a shopping mall.  However, this does not have to be the case.  A healthy dose of ingenuity and lateral thinking will often provide the answer.

I have a mobile hanging rack which I often use for hanging freshly-ironed clothes or to finish off drying clothes.  3 years ago I wrote a blog post about how I used and stored the rack.Here is a previous photo of it.

This proved not to be an ideal solution as it could be tricky to store and remove the various pieces.  However, I persevered and made the best of it.

However, a few weeks ago I managed to rip the bag when extracting the pieces.

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This led me to reconsider my storage method and I realised that I had removed a couple of item which had previously been stored on the floor of the wardrobe and I had some spare space.

A quick dig around in the workshop downstairs yielded results.

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This container was a heavy-duty drum with  tap which we once used for water storage.  GMan had removed the tap and cut the top off sometime ago and it was being used for storing some bits and pieces which I re-homed to another container.  I cleaned this one and it now fits neatly on the floor of the wardrobe and the components of the hanging rack are much more accessible.

Preparing for the New Arrival

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A couple of weeks ago we finally decided to buy a new freezer.  We have a reasonable amount of space in our fridge/freezer in the kitchen as well as a bar-sized freezer in the workshop downstairs.  I manage for most of the year but when we have a glut of produce that I want to freeze it becomes a real challenge.  As we work on growing more food I expect the pressure to become even greater.

We decided on the best location for the freezer which led to a major clean-up and re-organisation of the workshop area.

Here are a few ‘before’ photos.

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The best location for the new freezer was where the white cupboard is standing.

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The existing freezer was on the other side of the room, along with piles of cardboard that we use as weedmat in the garden.

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Another view.

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A corner of the double garage which is next to the workshop.

You can see some of the changes in the following photos.

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The no longer required carseat has been re-homed and this corner was perfect for the white cupboard which contains all of our camping gear.

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The cardboard is neatly contained in and behind the box under the end of the bench.

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The black cupboard has been given away as it was now excess to our requirements.  If you have less stuff, you need less storage.  We re-arranged various shelves and the metal toolbox for more effective use of the space.

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And finally, the new freezer in place.

I will show you more about the freezer tomorrow.

The Pantry Project

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It is hard to believe that it is almost 3 months since I wrote this post about my new labeller.  Although that post was about labelling the small drawers in my sewing room, if I am really honest, my main motivation was so that I could re-organise my pantry and label everything.

Unfortunately, the labeller has languished in the cupboard while the state of the pantry went steadily downhill.  Until yesterday.  The thing that finally prompted me was the arrival of some more Mason jars that I had ordered online.  They would not fit in the cupboard as it stood so this required some major re-thinking.

I am really very fortunate to have plenty of storage space so it was simply a matter of utilising it better.  I have a large corner pantry as well as a floor-to-ceiling cupboard on the other side of the refrigerator.  There had previously been a mix of both food and other items in both cupboards so the first step was to remove the remaining foodstuffs (mostly canned goods and jars) from the cupboard.

I did not take any before photos as I launched into this endeavour early yesterday morning without a specific plan.

This is the cupboard once I had finished it.

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The top shelf is pretty much as it was with the Soda Stream, Easiyo, bucket with spare gas cylinder and Soda Stream bottles and pasta attachments for my KitchenAid mixer.  The pasta attachments were previously in the corner pantry.

The second shelf has 2 plastic tubs of glass jars and bottles which I use for storing juice and homemade sauces.  I have culled these considerably over a period of time as I have invested in more Mason jars.  In fact, I was able to swap them from a large and medium tub to a medium and small tub and move them from the top shelf of the corner pantry to this shelf which means they are much more accessible.  The large plastic tub fits neatly in the bottom of one side of the wardrobe in the sewing room so I will utilise it there.  But first, I have to finish the cupboard and the corner pantry.

The third shelf is various sizes of Mason and Weck jars with some spare lids and bands as well as a pair of lifting tongs from my most recent order.  These will make retrieving jars from the hot water bath much safer and easier.

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The bottom shelf is 4 buckets of bread flour – 2 white, 1 wholemeal and 1 rye.  This is GMan’s domain as he amkes the bread.

The corner pantry is still a work in progress but more about that tomorrow.

Organising Assistance

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I regularly speak out about the fact that you can be organised without spending ridiculous amounts of money.  I often read or hear about people buying dozens of matching containers to organise a linen cupboard or re-arranging their pantry with an entirely new selection of containers that happen to be the trend of the moment.

Apart from the cost, this behaviour bothers me from an environmental perspective because many of the containers are plastic and/or are manufactured in jurisdictions where workers are not paid a living wage, work in sub-standard conditions and the factories do not meet any type of environmental guidelines.  Next time you are tempted to buy new items that seem very cheap – stop and think about why they are so cheap.

Back to the main topic.  I did buy something which will be useful in organising numerous areas in my home and I expect that it will last me for a long time to come.  It is a labeller.

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I had previously borrowed one from work to label some jars in the pantry but finally decided that it would be useful to have one of my own.  It is battery-operated and the labels come in a cartridge which is inserted into the back of the machine.  I purchased 2 cartridges of the clear self-adhesive labels.  I also noticed that you can buy cartridges of iron-on tape so you can make your own labels for clothing.  This is not something that I would use but could be beneficial for my daughter with children going on school camps and similar.

My first attempt was to label this set of mini-drawers which fit perfectly on the shelf in my sewing room.  The drawers came from my mother and I have found them really useful for keeping track of some of the smaller sewing items.  I have memorised what are in the top row but other than that, I have to open the drawer to check.  That will be a thing of the past with these new labels.

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Now, what else needs a label?  I think I am going to have fun with this gadget.