Do you spend a part of your morning picking up washing from different parts of the house? How close to the laundry basket does the dirty washing get?
Last year I introduced small washing baskets into each bedroom, as well as the ones already in the bathrooms and for the most part the dirty clothes make it in. I must admit the favourite spot for most of the dirty clothes is next to the washing basket.
The other small change I implemented is different colour baskets to help me sort all the washing at once. I bought these mesh baskets; they are easily folded away and stored in a cupboard between use. They were cheap and I bought 2 a month until I had the colours I wanted.
I then created a schedule. I only have one child in uniform, so as you can imagine we have a lot of laundry each day. If you have nursery school children or younger, you will also have a fortune of washing to do.
I created a schedule for the washing to be done, this mostly ensures that the most important clothing items are washed first. This helps especially when it rains for days.
I have 4 children plus my husband and myself, with a smallish washing machine. Unfortunately my beautiful large Speed Queen died after 25 years of dedicated service and because of its age there are no longer spare parts. I have a really good machine now but it is small and we do around 3 loads of washing per day.
Here is my schedule:
Monday – whites/lights, blacks and hand washing
Tuesday – blue/ greens, brown and reds/orange
Wednesday- Linen ( there are 5 beds, this takes the whole day)
Thursday – Towels and table cloths.
For the most part this schedule works well. Obviously there are colours and patterned clothing that you have to decide where they fit in,
I have an ironing lady who comes 1 full day and 1 ½ day each week, I do my first load of laundry at around 6 am, all three loads are then done by 8 when I need to leave for work.
Put it away
I have spoken to a few ladies who do not have help and one of their main issues is not getting the clean laundry to where it belongs. This is another system that you need to then put into place. How to get the clean clothes back where they belong? Depending on the age of your children you can possibly get them to put their own stuff into their cupboards.
This would only work well with some of my family members, my husband, my eldest daughter, who is an organiser by nature, and my youngest and my son, who would get it to the cupboard but not sort it. My middle child has server ADHD and depending on what happens between where she collects the washing and her bedroom will dictate where the washing ends up. If it makes it to her bedroom she will also get it into the cupboard but not sorted.
Getting it fixed
Another aspect of laundry is repair. Lost buttons, torn pockets and seams. Create a small repair kit to help with mending or a space to put the clothes into so that they can be taken to be repaired.
Another handy tip I learned is to have a singles basket. This is for the socks that have lost their partners, every few months go through the basket and see if you can find matches.
Your laundry room
Where do you do your laundry? Do you have a laundry room or do you have laundry equipment in the kitchen? Wherever it is, it needs to be organised.
How often does your washing machine get cleaned? Are your washing detergents organised?
Do you have old expired bleach? Believe it or not, bleach expires and quite quickly too.
The laundry areas can get untidy very quickly, as your washing machine and tumble dryer, if you have one are flat surfaces, and flat surfaces attract clutter.
What do you do with stray socks? How about the small change in people’s pockets?
Look at the area around your machines, is everything there specific to washing clothes and linen or do you have a collection of odds and ends.
An idea for those of us who have very little or no designated laundry space, are baskets where you can put similar items into. A basket to hold all your softeners and bleaches and another for a small sewing kit for repairs.
How can you have clean clothes and linen if the area is in chaos?
Does it belong?
The first aspect to laundry is getting the area sorted. Get rid of anything that isn’t to do with laundry. Clean out the space, whether it is a cupboard or a room. Empty old and expired laundry supplies and throw the containers away or recycle them, find new ways to neatly store everything.
Once your clothing is washed, it often needs ironing. Make sure your iron and ironing board are both in good condition.
Are you able to dry laundry on a rainy day without your tumble dryer? If you have the space, maybe consider putting up a retractable washing line on the wall. This may be especially important if you have small babies or you live in an apartment building where the washing lines are often on the roof.
It is also a good idea to have a small basket to collect your stray socks. That way you may periodically be able to find the matching sock.
Collecting the lost and found
I read an article a while ago where a lady had a small jar in her laundry room and any money found in pockets went into the jar. I also think another idea would be a catch all basket, anything found in pockets would go into this, e.g. pens, ticket stubs or parking stubs etc.
Do you have any idea on how to remove stains? What to use for what type of stain. A good idea might be to create a stain removal kit to keep with your laundry detergents.
Do you have a laundry room? How old was your oldest item in the laundry room?
Your fridge and freezer are one of the most used items in your kitchen, except for the sink, stove and ovens. We do not deep clean these often enough.
In a program I once watched, a cleaning team went into a home that had a vegetarian and two meat eaters sharing the space. They dyed a piece of meat with ultraviolet dye and then asked everyone to prepare their meals. The contamination of all the food was quite surprising, even with washing utensils after each use. Is your kitchen actually clean?
How often do you clean the back of the fridge/freezer door handles? Cleaning the inside of the fridge should be a regular task in your households cleaning routine.
If you have a self-defrosting freezer you need to schedule a good clean out of that as well. For those of us who have to periodically defrost the freezer, it is the perfect time to deep clean the shelves.
Month end shopping
I planned this task to coincide with when most people will be doing a big shop. Pay day has just been and we are all about to replenish the food in our kitchens. If you are putting this task onto a regular cleaning schedule, the best time to do this is right before the grocery run. You will then have a nice clean fridge and freezer in which to put all your new shopping.
How cluttered is the outside of your fridge? It is time to make room for the new paintings and drawings the children bring home from school. When the children were younger, any birthday invitations we received went onto the fridge door, sometimes sitting there for weeks after the event.
To get a good deep clean and to get rid of any odours that may linger after the food is gone, use a mixture of bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) and water, make this into a paste and spread it with a cloth onto the surfaces and use a toothbrush to get into the crevices of your fridge/freezer.
Leave it for about 5 minutes and then using warm water wash it off.
For stubborn marks and odours, spray vinegar and then wash with the warm soapy water. Pay special attention to meat spills.
Repacking your fridge
When repacking your fridge, it is important that certain items be placed on specific shelves. Items that need defrosting should be placed on the bottom shelf in a bowl, or on a tray, to prevent the inevitable spillage from cross contaminating the rest of your food.
A rule of thumb is, cooked and ready to eat items top and middle shelves, food needing to be cooked, middle and bottom shelves.
Your fridge door is best used for items with a longer shelf life.
Don’t over fill your fridge as this can cause items to freeze and uses more electricity. Don’t overload the fridge door with heavy items as this can cause breakage.
How to pack your fridge
For more information check out the list I saved on Pinterest for how to pack your fridge https://za.pinterest.com/pin/6051780730348903/ or go to http://www.home-storage-solutions-101.com/refrigerator-storage-chart.html.
Packing your freezer is just as important as packing your fridge properly. You actually want to have this packed full, as the freezer works better with more food inside.
Pack like items together and also size and shape to make stacking easier. Label and date all frozen food.
Happy cleaning! Let us see those before and after photo’s please.
This week we are working on sorting out the kitchen cupboards and drawers.
My cupboards refuse to stay sorted! I just have too much stuff!
What’s in the drawer?
Starting with the drawers, empty them out and get rid of anything broken! Last week we looked at the function of our kitchens, anything in those drawers that do not fit the function, needs to go.
What the end result should be is, drawers you can open and close easily and where you are able to find what you are looking for!
For your cupboards, the aim is to be able to get to things without having to stack and unstack anything first. I’m still working on that after having done this declutter assignment for the last 3 years.
You need to be a little tougher on yourself here and get rid of the chipped plates no matter how sentimental and useful they are. These are dangerous, especially if you have young children or do the dishes by hand. Someone can easily cut themselves.
Stop mugging about!
I think you can never have too many coffee mugs but if you haven’t the space to keep them then it is time to clear out.
It is not a good idea to pull out everything from all the cupboards at once as this may just become overwhelming. One cupboard at a time works best.
Then sort by what you use daily, weekly and rarely. The rarely gets put back at the back and the daily, where you will be able to reach it easily.
In the zone!
If you have the space to do it, you should try and create ‘zones’ in your kitchen. Placing your chopping boards where you would prep your veg, your pots and pans where you would cook and your cups and saucers near your kettle or boiling water source.
This may help you with efficiently getting meals out and not having to scrounge around for things you need.
As you unpack your cupboards, before putting items back, work out if you really need that item and how many of it do you need. Water/juice bottles are an example of items that just seem to multiply.
Food storage containers are also another item that you need to monitor. If you often have left overs or you cook in bulk then you may need quite a few, however, if your house is anything like mine then there usually aren’t any left overs at all, you don’t need too many containers.
If you want to buy fancy organising gadgets to help you keep your kitchen cupboards neat and tidy, please wait until ALL your cupboards and drawers are sorted, so that you can make good decisions on what to buy and not end up with stuff you don’t need or won’t fit.
Remember to ask yourself these questions before putting something back in your cupboard.
- When did I use this last?
- Does it still work?
- Do I have all the pieces?
- Does it fit in with my kitchen functions?
Every day I will cover a different area of the kitchen cupboard in the Facebook group, small tasks to prevent overwhelm.
I will be posting pictures of my sorting in the Facebook group (the ones in this post are my before) and would love you to do the same. If you haven’t joined the group yet, now is a good time to do so. Want to read more? Here is the link to last years post on this What’s in the drawer?
It seems strange to have a whole week dedicated to decluttering and sorting out of your kitchen counters. If you are anything like me you will understand why this is.
I love cooking and I think I own almost every conceivable kitchen gadget, with a few more on my wish list.
As with last year I have planned the kitchen sorting goal around the Jewish holiday of Passover. Our kitchens need to be scrupulously cleaned and with 5 weeks to go, now is the time to start.
What is it for?
The first step in keeping your kitchen clear of clutter is deciding what you use your kitchen for besides cooking.
Is it a homework area? Is it a home office? Having a definite idea of what is going on in your kitchen will be a huge help to your ability to keep organized.
If you are going to be using the space for homework or a home office, get yourself a nice box or basket to place the work into after you are done for the day, before you begin cooking.
Where to start?
One of the reasons we are starting on the kitchen counters, is that walking into a messy cluttered kitchen can ruin your mood for cooking. A nice clear space is far more calming that having to face a mess of disorganization.
I am not saying that your kitchen counters must be cleared of everything. I don’t do minimalist and I am not expecting anyone else to.
Once you have defined your kitchen’s uses, it is time to clear, pack, sell or give away anything that does not fit this function.
If you have a space designated as a home office, then any paperwork should be packed up and moved to the home office.
Where does it go?
One of the hardest tasks of clearing your kitchen counters is finding a place for those things that actually do fit your kitchens functions. The best way is to work out what you use daily and leave those out where you can reach them easily. Go through what you use weekly and finally what you use rarely.
I am Queen
Gadgets are another thing, I am the kitchen gadget queen. I have said it before, I love kitchen gadgets almost more than cookbooks! If it is broken it must go! A lot of appliances can be recycled. I no longer have the excuse of it being a schlepp to take it out of the house. The recycle people collect at my house. How to do recycling without leaving your house.
Make it a habit to tidy as you, when working in the kitchen.
Making use of nifty space savers will help you keep your kitchen tidy and still be able to have what you need at home.
Knife blocks or magnetic knife holder for the wall
Hooks for hanging pots
Something I still have trouble with, is training household members to actually put their dirty dishes in the dishwasher. Most of them can manage to get the dishes to the sink, the dishwasher is just underneath!
Happy Kitchen, Happy Home! I would love to see before and after pictures on the Facebook group or if you have come up with a great space saving solution, why not share it? For those who would like a little professional assistance with your sorting Catherine of Sensibly Organised Spaces is running a special now, she will talk you through everything Book now $147
What’s in the pantry?
Your pantry cupboard is an important part of your kitchen. If this is in a mess and dis-organised, it is not only difficult to decide what to make for dinner, but it also wastes money.
How many times have you gone to the store bought something only discover on your return that you already have 2 or 3 of the same product in the cupboard already! I own my kitchen, do you?
Being kosher means that we can’t always get a lot of food stuffs, so I developed a habit of buying unusual kosher products, which then sat in my cupboard for years. Last year I got rid of 2 cans of waterblommetjies. They had expired 3 years before.
The expiry dates on canned good is not really an expiry date but more of a date of when the producers will no longer guarantee the quality of the product inside. As long as the can is not bulging your food is safe to eat.
I did think, however, that having sat in my cupboard at least five years and still not been used in a recipe, it was unlikely that I would ever make a waterblommetjie bredie (stew). There were also other products that needed to be tossed.
Keeping your pantry cupboard tidy and organised is a must if you want to stop wasting time and money. If you ask a family member to look into a disorganised pantry cupboard and pick something to make, 9 times out of 10 the answer will be, ‘there’s nothing to eat’!
Keep like with like
Keeping items of a similar kind together will definitely make your time spent in the kitchen easier, cut down on your grocery bill and allow you to use up products before they expire!
It doesn’t need to be OCD tidy to be organised. If you have all your baking ingredients, your pasta’s and cans on their own shelves, condiments together on another shelf and spices together on a different shelf, you are what I consider organised. Items don’t need to be alphabetised or facing the same way, unless that’s what you want of course, but being arranged like with like will be enough.
Follow in the group as we get through the week with short daily tasks to organise the pantry cupboard https://www.facebook.com/groups/gettingsorted/.
Some women have a weakness for shoes. I have a weakness for cookery books, so in answer to the question, most definitely YES they are taking over.
In all honesty, I maybe use half of them over and over, when I use a recipe that is. Even when I look up the recipe in the book, I have to substitute and change things for various reasons.
I still love the inspiration found in my books and I can see how my cooking has evolved over the years.
2016 Clear out
Last year, I cleared out over 20 books, this year I will have to clear out more. Just because I have a lot of cookery books hasn’t stopped me getting more.
Some books I have been given and are over 50 years old, it is interesting to also see how the trends in cooking have changed.
Then there are the recipes that I have taken off the internet and more recently my new favourite cook book, Gordon Ramsay’s Ultimate Cookery Course which I was given as gift.
Sorting it all out
Last year I tried sorting out the recipes that I had taken from various magazines and the newspaper but I really am not that good at keeping it up, I think it lasted a whole month. A new solution to this may be a concertina file, where I can just slide the recipe in under its correct category.
My mother has a book in which she has written her favourite recipes to pass down, this way family traditions will also not be lost.
This week we are looking at sorting out the cook book and recipe situation in our homes.
What has been a solution in terms of space in my kitchen, is that the books I use more frequently are kept in the kitchen, the rest have been moved to the bookshelf in the lounge. I can still get to them, they are just no longer taking up valuable kitchen space.
Do you need them or do you want them?
Look at your collection and have heart to heart with yourself, be honest, how many do you really use?
One of the tricks that has got me through meal planners block, is theme nights.
I don’t mean elaborate themes, I just mean creating a template for yourself that will make meal planning, in all aspects, a little less stressful.
What is a theme?
A theme is whatever idea you want it to be. Some of the examples I have used are:
Countries of the world
Jewish dishes from around the world
I love Africa
Cooking shows I love
Success and failure
Some were harder to follow than others. For example, the dinner from Russia was a total disaster! Vareniki- I don’t know what I did wrong, but they were totally inedible.
Others, like my cashew nut chicken, are such a hit that they now appear on my meal plan once a month.
The homemade pasta that I learned to make from watching MasterChef and Gordon Ramsay were another rebounding success.
How to decide
Using current trends to create themes is another easy method. Meat free Monday, Banting and LCHF (low carbohydrate, high fat) recipes are another method. You don’t have to follow the diets themselves, just some of recipes that your family might enjoy.
A basic template can actually be used when changing lifestyle eating habits to control your food choices.
Creating a template for your plans can sometimes be difficult and other times quick and easy. However, once created, the actual meal planning time is cut almost in half. Monthly Menu Planner and Shopping List
Decide what night you will be eating which type of meal. Here is a basic example of a template.
Monday- Meat Free
Tuesday- Mince (any kind)
Thursday – Chicken
Friday – Red Meat
Saturday – eat out
Sunday – pizza
Weekly menu planner and shopping list
Love it or hate it
Whether you love cooking or hate it, whether you are a contender for MasterChef, or you can barely boil water, what a template allows you to do is cook within your preference.
I am one of those people who love cooking. I am also a pretty good cook and love to try new recipes. Thankfully I have a family who like to eat and aren’t too fussy about their food choices.
I use meat free Mondays to make mac and cheese, tuna or vegetable lasagne’s and often to experiment with vegan recipes.
For mince night, I have a standard set of about 10 recipes, some more involved than others, which range from Chilli Con Carne to Sloppy Joes, Taco’s, Bolognaise, Cottage Pie, Shepard’s Pie, Mince Pie, Meatballs, Meatloaf and a few others.
For fish night, I have a few standards that I dare not alter too much. Haddock and Spaghetti, Hake and Basil Pesto, Grilled Fish and Chips, Crumbed Fish Cakes and Crumbed Fillets. There are a few more but I don’t make them often as they are either too expensive or the majority of my family don’t eat it.
Chicken night is another favourite meal and I can use this to try out new recipes.
Red meat night could mean stews or roasts and is another time where I can play with recipes.
As you can see my family are definite carnivores. Saturday and Sunday nights, we eat whatever is going. In a house full of teenagers this means they are mostly all out on Saturday night and we pretty much scrounge in the fridge for left overs or we have eggs or I will make pizza for supper. Sometime it is simply soup and toast.
Find freedom from the stove
Your template does not restrict you, it actually allows you to play around. You don’t need to follow a recipe either. If you know that tonight is mince night, you can take your meat out the freezer, come home and make whatever you want.
Another advantage is, if you have a whole lot of recipes you like, you can plot them for a month or more into your chosen nights.
Why not give it a try and see how easy meal planning can be?
How does meal planning fit in with get sorted?
We’re getting sorted is all about clearing out the junk however, one of the most important ways to prevent the clutter from returning is to develop new habits.
This week we look at meal planning, this topic is one of my favourites. I have an entire blog about it. I offer online support on the topic. http://kasheringyourlife.co.za/booking-form/
Try this little exercise, write down everything you think you need to buy for your next 7 meals. Now go and look in your kitchen, the fridge, the freezer and the cupboards. What was on your list that you already have? Did you have more than one? Are there things that you had forgotten you even have?
Meal planning is about more than just knowing what is in your cupboard, it is about saving money, saving time and saving your sanity.
Planning your meals in advance is about taking control of another aspect of our homes and lives.
You don’t need a recipe book to meal plan, it is not set in stone.
What to cook?
Next week we will be sorting through our recipe books. Meal planning will give you a better way to know what cook books you want to keep close at hand, which ones you want out of the way and which you will be getting rid of?
An important part of meal planning is knowing what the family enjoys eating. If you don’t think meal planning is for you, why not try something simple? Take a piece of paper and write down everything you know your family loves to eat. You now have the start of your voyage into meal planning.
The most organised space in my house is my kitchen. Meal planning also renewed my love of cooking.
Gone are the days of coming home tired, opening a cupboard or fridge looking inside and closing it, then putting pasta on the stove, because it is easy and I am too tired to think or I forgot to take something out the freezer.
Now, even though I still often come home tired, meat is ready to cook because I took it out in the morning to defrost. I didn’t have to think about supper, my thinking was done when I had energy and put the meal on the menu.
There are still days where I look at the meal plan and think, ‘I don’t feel like this today’ and we land up with pasta of some type.
I am more likely to cook what has been defrosted than not as I don’t want to waste it and let it go off, so the family is eating much healthier Take out more than once a month is not in my budget.
Do you meal plan or do you wing it?