When did you l

Do you remember the last time you cleaned the curtain rails, the top of the book shelves or even the ceiling?

Having a schedule to let you know when it is time to clean out the dust bunnies from under the beds, can make you feel more in control.

For working women, it is often difficult to stay on top on the household chores, or for those with domestic help, being able to ensure that your house is kept to the standard it should be, with someone to clean full time, is an invaluable thing.

This is why creating a cleaning schedule will help everyone. Having chores assigned to children and knowing when there is heavy work to be done will make life easier.

Planning your cleaning schedule is best done by breaking it all down into daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, 6 monthly and annual cleaning.

How do you know when to do this?

Starting at your front door and working your way through each room is part of it. As you enter each room, start at the top left and work your way down each side and then across. Using my eldest daughter’s room as an example would work like this.

Standing in the doorway to my left (same wall the door is in), I start at the ceilings, which should be cleaned every four months. The cupboards are on my left.  Open the cupboards. The shelves need cleaning annually, the clothes are re-packed quarterly, at least, to coincide with the change of seasons and growing.

Then the outside of the cupboard, the doors and handles are cleaned monthly. Next is the wall and bookshelf/wall unit.  Cleaning out the cupboards and shelves on this is also an annual task and the outside of the cupboards should be washed monthly.

The skirting boards should be damp dusted quarterly but can be vacuumed when the carpets are vacuumed.

The next wall contains the window; this means that curtains and curtain rails need to be cleaned. We have machine washable curtains so those go into the wash at least annually, the windows are washed quarterly and the window sills and burglar bars are done monthly and dusted weekly.

The curtain rails are washed at the same time as the curtains are; there is no point in washing the curtains and then putting them back onto dirty, dusty railings. Railings should be dusted when the ceilings are done.

To my right is the last wall. This needs to be washed quarterly as well. If there are pictures or photos on your walls, these should be dusted regularly and damp dusted when the walls are washed.

Daily – make bed

Weekly – change bed linen and vacuum

Quarterly – damp dust skirting boards, wash windows, move and clean under bed

6 months- wash walls, clean light fittings and switches

Annually- deep clean carpets and launder curtains

Lastly the carpets: carpets should be swept daily, vacuumed weekly and washed annually.

I found when drawing up my schedule, it also helped to have someone else with you to look critically at all the spaces in case you miss something.

I hope this helps you feel more in control of your home, remember that trying to do it all at once can be overwhelming and cause you to give up. Doing a little at a time will give you a better chance of success.

Please feel free to download the cleaning schedule I created in Facebook group. We’re getting sorted. If you are not in the group, please feel free to join or download the schedule by following this link. www.kasheringyourlife.co.za/printables/house-cleaning-check-list

Do you remember?

Do you remember the last time you cleaned the curtain rails, the top of the book shelves or even the ceiling?

Scheduling

Having a schedule to let you know when it is time to clean out the dust bunnies from under the beds, can make you feel more in control.

Dust bunnies
Dust bunnies accumulate, if you don’t move your furniture

For working women, it is often difficult to stay on top on the household chores, or for those with domestic help, being able to ensure that your house is kept to the standard it should be, with someone to clean full time, is an invaluable thing.

This is why creating a cleaning schedule will help everyone. Having chores assigned to children and knowing when there is heavy work to be done will make life easier.

Planning your cleaning schedule is best done by breaking it all down into daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, 6 monthly and annual cleaning.

How do you know when to do this?

Starting at your front door and working your way through each room is part of it. As you enter each room, start at the top left and work your way down each side and then across. Using my eldest daughter’s room as an example would work like this.

Left

Standing in the doorway to my left (same wall the door is in), I start at the ceilings, which should be cleaned every four months. The cupboards are on my left.  Open the cupboards. The shelves need cleaning annually, the clothes are re-packed quarterly, at least, to coincide with the change of seasons and growing.

Cupboards
I wish mine were this tidy, but tidying every few months will help

Then the outside of the cupboard, the doors and handles are cleaned monthly. Next is the wall and bookshelf/wall unit.  Cleaning out the cupboards and shelves on this is also an annual task and the outside of the cupboards should be washed monthly.

The skirting boards should be damp dusted quarterly but can be vacuumed when the carpets are vacuumed.

The next wall contains the window; this means that curtains and curtain rails need to be cleaned. We have machine washable curtains so those go into the wash at least annually, the windows are washed quarterly and the window sills and burglar bars are done monthly and dusted weekly.

The curtain rails are washed at the same time as the curtains are; there is no point in washing the curtains and then putting them back onto dirty, dusty railings. Railings should be dusted when the ceilings are done.

To my right is the last wall. This needs to be washed quarterly as well. If there are pictures or photos on your walls, these should be dusted regularly and damp dusted when the walls are washed.

Some ideas

Daily – make bed

Weekly – change bed linen and vacuum

Quarterly – damp dust skirting boards, wash windows, move and clean under bed

6 months- wash walls, clean light fittings and switches

Annually- deep clean carpets and launder curtains

Lastly the carpets: carpets should be swept daily, vacuumed weekly and washed annually.

I found when drawing up my schedule, it also helped to have someone else with you to look critically at all the spaces in case you miss something.

I hope this helps you feel more in control of your home, remember that trying to do it all at once can be overwhelming and cause you to give up. Doing a little at a time will give you a better chance of success.

Please feel free to download the cleaning schedule I created in Facebook group. https://www.facebook.com/groups/gettingsorted/. If you are not in the group, please feel free to join or download the schedule by following this link. http://www.kasheringyourlife.co.za/printables/house-cleaning-check-list

Planning a picnic

Going on a picnic can be both fun and exhausting. Fun as it is great way for family to spend time together. It is exhausting, as you need to organize the food and cold drinks, cutlery and crockery to take with you.

Planning a picnic is quite an undertaking, especially if you have small children.

Where?

Venues are important as you want somewhere where the children are safe can have fun running around, riding bikes and enjoying themselves, where you can relax and not worry too much. So avoiding places with large bodies of water might be a consideration.

A great venue with little children and babies, is your back/front yard. Very little traveling is required, you know it’s safe and if you forget anything it is not far to go to fetch it!

Picnic
Planning a picnic? The venue is as important as the menu

How?

Then there is your comfort, beach chairs for those who prefer not to sit on the ground. Ground cover that is large enough for the rest of the picnickers.

Plates, cups and cutlery are also a consideration. Do you have a stock of disposable items to use at the picnic or are you going to use your normal everyday cutlery and crockery?

If you are using disposables, don’t forget the trash bag for your rubbish.

What to eat?

Now for the most important part of picnic, the food. What are you going to be serving at the picnic and how many people are joining you?

Salads are usually standard potato salad but what if you want a bean salad or a green salad with dressing? Containers need to suit your salad. Potato salad doesn’t need to be in an airtight container but a salad with a dressing or sauce will need to be properly sealed.

Are you taking cold meats or cold meat sandwiches? Cold meats are easy, you take them as they come packaged.  If you prefer sandwiches are you going to prepare them at home or are you taking bread and spread with to make the sandwiches at the picnic?

picnic food
How will you be serving your food?

The bee issue

Sugary drinks attract bees, so if you have anyone with an allergies then cups with lids and bottles that close are better than cans, water is better than either. If you are me though then water is not going to cut it on a picnic.

bees at a picnic
Sugary drinks and food attract bees so think carefully about what you are taking with

Serviettes (napkins), I always forget the serviettes! Hand wipes are a good idea for sticky fingers as ablution facilities are not always nearby.

If you plan for your picnic beforehand, not only will it be less stressful on you but you are able to plan a healthier picnic than you would in a last minute dash for the picnic basket.

When?

When was your last picnic? I don’t think my family has been on one in at least 5 years, teenagers with a social life don’t seem to keen!

March in your Kitchen

Kitchen week

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.

Gadgets
These are just some of my kitchen gadgets!

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.

Gadgets

Space savers
Use space savers in your kitchen to create extra storage space

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
Extra shelving
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!

It’s sorted

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

Dinner Theme Meal Planning

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.

Varineky
Vareniki- a russian dumpling, ravioli type meal, this was an epic fail

Others, like my cashew nut chicken, are such a hit that they now appear on my meal plan once a month.

Cashew nut chicken
Chicken and cashew nut stir fry, a hit

The homemade pasta that I learned to make from watching MasterChef and Gordon Ramsay were another rebounding success.

Homemade pasta
The first successful batch of pasta

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.

Meal Plan
My monthly meal plan

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)

Wednesday- Fish

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?

Couponing in South Africa

Do we have coupons?

Couponing is big business in the USA, reality shows abound on this topic. Here in South Africa though, we don’t really have coupons.

Couponing in SA
Coupons are a great way to save money

Years ago we got coupons in our subscription magazines and the weekly local papers. Those days are gone.

Except for PnP VIP vouchers for senior citizens (only available for use in Hypermarkets) most South African coupons are in the form of an app or a loyalty card and they can save you a lot of money when used correctly.

Do you know what is out there? Are you using it effectively?

The first one under the spot light is:

PnP Smart Shopper card.

Smart Shopper card
save money to use later on your grocery shopping

If you don’t have one, I suggest getting it. Whether or not you like PicknPay the card is worth it.  You earn points which can be converted to cash, there are discounts and often in their brand match campaign, when you swipe your card, at the end of the till slip either has the message ‘you saved ….  on this purchase or ‘get R… off of your next shopping”. I got a slip once that said I had R84.50 off of my next shop.

Often they will have items for sale where you earn extra points when you swipe your card.

You get vouchers when you swipe your card at different times if the year, these are specific to your spending habits. You get extra points to use during your birthday month.

Earn points and to use for shopping or even travel. I like to accumulate my points for a year and then use them for my grocery shop, I often land up only having to pay half my bill and sometimes even less. The points expire after a year.

A big plus for me is the Fresh living magazine which you get free with your first purchase of the month, if you have a smart shopper card. I have found and made some amazing recipes in the magazine.

 Woolworths

Woolworths cards
Choose either a store card or a credit card

The Woolworths store card which you can only use at a Woolworths store also gives great discounts, however, it works like a credit card and you are charged interest on your balance.

In the instance of the Woolworths credit card these each have different quarterly discounts depending on the colour of your card, you also get a % back for using the card at other stores. You also get a voucher for a free “Taste” magazine (on the black card). These are credit cards and can be used anywhere.

Spar loyalty

Spar has two options, a loyalty card, which can only be used at the Spar that issued the card and the Spar rewards program, which you need to sign up for on your pc and gives you rewards just for signing up, plus vouchers that you can use at participating stores, you also link your loyalty card to the rewards program and earn more points. Then download the app to your smartphone. You will receive your vouchers on your smartphone; you type the voucher number into the keypad at the till to redeem your rewards.

Checkers

Eezee coupons
Phone app from Checkers

The Checkers Eezee coupons app for your smart phone allows you to ‘book’ your specials and when you get to the till you type in the voucher number that the app generates and it will give you your discounts.  I have once been able to buy a product with the app and combined it with another coupon app and landed up pay R5 instead of R65 for my item.

Clicks Club Card and Dischem

While neither of these are grocery stores, a lot of us do our shopping for toiletries at these stores. Their loyalty cards do offer great savings and bonuses.

Bank Cards

When using banks cards together with loyalty cards you once again increase your savings.

Unilever deals

The Unilever deals site is accessed from your computer. They have very good discount “coupons”, either two for one or often between 25%-50% off. I once spent R5 on Omo washing powder as it was on special at the store, plus I had the Unilever code.

SnapnSave

Snapnsave
Snap n Save app can be used an many stores

An app that allows you to ‘book’ specials on your phone. Once you are done shopping, you upload a picture if your full till slip, then gives you money back in their virtual wallet that you can use at one of many partner stores.

I am sure there are some that I have missed.

How are you using apps and loyalty cards to save you money? Did you even know we had so many?

 

 

 

Why a meal plan is important when you diet

The diet plan

A 7 day meal plan is included in practically every diet known to woman kind and a few men.

Every diet has one
Almost all diets come with a meal plan

Dieticians draw one up for you, Weighless® and Weight Watchers® have full books of weekly meal plans. Then there is The Real Meal Revolution, the Atkins diet, the Hollywood diet and about 100 others. Also the diet for bodybuilders who are trying to build muscle, they also have to stick to a strict eating regime in conjunction with their weight training.

Body Building
Serious contenders meal plan too

Why do they all have meal plans? The answer is simple, knowing ahead of time what you are going to eat for the week helps you better to stay on track.

While nothing will beat will power itself, it is still easier to stick to your diet with a meal plan.

Meal planning for good eating habits

When I first started meal planning for my family, it had more to do with budgeting, food waste and time management than anything else. Once we started this new way of life, my husband and I stumbled across a benefit that was obviously known to those who create these diets. We both lost weight!

It doesn’t matter if you are with a dietician, following a popular diet or trying to go it alone. Meal planning is the best way to start your new healthier lifestyle.

An important step to meal planning for weight loss is to plan right after breakfast. This is because you are no longer hungry and you will be able to plan with your brain instead of with your stomach. If you are not hungry, you will make better food choices on your plan.

1, 3, or 6?

For most households, planning dinner is often enough but if your plan is for weight loss or weight control, it is important to plan not only your 3 meals for the day but also your snacks.

This planning also helps if you are combining good eating habits with gym. You can plan your carb intake to coincide with your cardio workout and your protein intake to fit in with your weight training.

Understanding the basics of calorie control and the difference between good and bad carbs will help you plan your meals better.

Are you trying to get healthy or lose weight this year? Why not try a meal plan, whether it is from the dietician, or a book, or you are doing it yourself? Without it you will get nowhere.

Pass da Homemade Pasta

On the shelf

About 15 years ago my mother bought us each a pasta maker.  I tried it once or twice but all that happened was that the dough got wrapped around the rollers and clogged up the machine. I put mine in a packet on top of my kitchen cupboard and mostly forgot about it.

In December I need surgery that would have me home for a six week recuperation period. For the first three weeks I did absolutely nothing except sleep and watch series.

My inner Chef

MasterChef Australia 2015 and 2016 became my drug of choice. I will probably never make 99% of the foods that were shown. I did, however, learn some techniques. As I started to feel more myself, I decided to try pasta again. Almost every contestant in the top 20 makes either ravioli or tortellini in at least one challenge. To me this meant that it wasn’t as difficult as my previous experience has led me to believe.

Homemade pasta
The first successful batch of pasta

The dough recipe is simple and quick.  It is getting the machine not to chew up my dough that proved the most difficult. MasterChef showed my how to fix this. You need LOTS of flour on your rollers. This tip has improved my pasta making skills significantly.

Homemade spaghetti and meatballs
Everything from scratch spaghetti and meatballs including the pasta

Now if I plan a meal with spaghetti, my children request my homemade spaghetti rather than the box in the cupboard.

Cleaning up

Cleaning this machine has now become my biggest challenge, because I still sometimes forget to put the flour on often enough and dough gets stuck in the machine. The only way to take apart the machine is with a screwdriver and that’s not going to happen. One occasion where I wasn’t able to clean the machine properly landed me with maggots in the machine! I am slowly learning and improving.

I can now make tagliatelle, spaghetti and lasagne sheets! Next up, to work out how to use the other attachments to make macaroni and other noodles. Once I have mastered the basics of all the shapes I will attempt to make coloured and flavoured pasta’s.

One of the good things about making your own pasta is that it can be dried and stored for later use; it also cooks quicker than store bought pasta.

Have you ever made your own pasta? Did you use a machine or did you roll it by hand?

 

 

Busy people should not be doing this

In today’s busy world, where most families require two incomes to survive the month. This means that there is often not as much time as you would like to spend with your family. Going to the store for groceries takes away even more of that time when it actually shouldn’t need to.

How often do you do it?

If you are one of those people who are at the store every single day, you are losing precious hours where you could be home with your family.

The drive to the store after work takes a minimum of 10-15 minutes Then you have to find parking, along with everyone else doing after hours shopping. Another 5 minutes is wasted at least.

Emotional Shopping

You have no list, you are tired and hungry. You are probably going to wander up and down a few aisles before finding not what you want but what your emotions tell you to buy.

As in ‘this sounds good’, ‘I can make XYZ for dinner if I buy this’, ‘this is on special’. When you get home you are too tired to cook what you bought. XYZ takes over an hour to cook or you discover that you already have about 5 of the item that was on special!

This emotional shopping has now taken you at least 20 minutes. If it is your local store, you have probably met about 3 people whom you know and have had to stop and have a chat with. In reality you have been shopping for about 30-40 minutes now.

The checkout line may be the only fast thing if the store closes at 6 and it is now 5:55, because the workers are in a rush to get out and their taxis are leaving soon!

Getting your shopping from the store to the car and into the car another 5 minutes. The drive home depending on how close to the store you live is at least 5 -10 minutes.

Home time slog

Using Johannesburg as an example, you work in Sandton and finish at 5 you go to the store on the way to the Germiston Highway (N3) because it’s on route. That is at least 15- 20 minutes,  your 30-50 minutes at the store. Now onto the highway and a 40 minute drive home to Germiston. Instead of 1 hour if you got onto the highway and headed straight home, you will arrive home 1 ½ hours later. Those extra 30 minutes could have been spent doing something else.

Now if you only went to the store once a week, this would be 1 ½ hours out of your whole week instead of 2 ½ hours every week!

Online at night

I do the bulk of my shopping online at night when the family is in bed. It takes about an hour (the first time did take a lot longer) and is delivered to my door. No parking, no traffic. Once a week I buy what can’t be frozen, like fresh fruit and vegetables, it takes me about 30 minutes.

There are no queues, no surly shoppers or checkout people, no looking for parking. I can take my time and look for the best prices, I can wear my pj’s, there is no closing time. Also because I have eaten supper and I am relaxed. I am able to buy what I really need and ignore the items I don’t need. No walking down the sweets and chocolate aisles!

Are you a daily shopper? Do you use a list? Next time you pop into the store for a quick item or two, time yourself. From when you left to when you get to your destination. See if weekly or monthly shopping isn’t better for your sanity or your budget.

Meal prep will change your life

Sliced and prepped
Having you fruit and vegetables prepared before hand can save you time in the kitchen

Meal Prep is going to make your life a whole lot easier!

Too tired to care

At the end of a long day the last thing you want to do is stand in the kitchen peeling and chopping vegetables.

Meal prep is the way to go. I don’t cook anything that is going to take more than 30-40 minutes from start too finish. I am too tired and there are other things I want to do when I get home from work.

vegetable specials
Prep and freeze these correctly and you can save yourself time and money

Meal prep is also a good way to be able to buy your vegetables in bulk and then freeze. Remember if they sell it frozen in store, then there is a way for you to freeze it as well.

An hour a week

Spending an hour a week prepping and freezing a whole lot of things from onions to bell peppers will save you time in the evenings when you get home from work. Just pull the ingredients out the freezer and toss into your meal. If the vegetables have been frozen correctly, they will retain their texture, colour and flavour when cooked.

Obviously, if you have help at home or or slightly older children (9 years old or more) then they can be used to prep your vegetables or even cook supper occasionally. The children will not only learn to cook and learn about fresh ingredients but also gain a sense of independence.

In South Africa, for the most part, children know what a potato is in its natural form. How many children know that store bought or restaurant oven chips are made from potatoes?

Involving children in meal prep will also let them appreciate why dinner is not on the table as so as they want it. It gives them a new perspective on the food that is cooked and, maybe, encourages them to try and eat new things. Having them help with the cooking gives them a new confidence and a feeling of pride when they can say they helped or made dinner.

Do you have a little mini chef in the kitchen? Do you meal prep?