The Big Plan

The Big PlanI need a plan.

Working from home is wonderful, but having all of my life based from home means that work, kids, the business, volunteering, housework and down time all merge into one.   If I switch the laptop on to update a record on the Guiding database, I end up also writing the agenda for the next WI meeting, seeing what is happening in Twitter, writing press releases to try and attract leaders for the local Brownie unit, checking another unit’s records to see if they managed to move Rainbow Maisy to the Brownie waiting list and looking up a random person on Wikipedia which leads to another person, and another and another.   I’ll go into the Craftyguidelets’ bedrooms to quickly collect their washing and I’ll put their library books back in their bags, arrange the teddies on the bed, sort through the wardrobes for hangers, dig out all the used tissues, empty their bins, which in turn leads to emptying all the bins, sorting the recycling and so on.

Right now I’m supposed to be tidying up the office, but going downstairs to fetch the stepladder, I also collected my diary and to do list, and brought my laptop upstairs to check on my planner which has led to me thinking of a couple of blog ideas to note down, and I’d better check my emails, and there are a couple of corrections to do on the WI newsletter and eldest will be a Guide after Christmas so I wonder if she’s done enough to be awarded her Music Group badge as soon as she joins…   See, I’m hopeless!

I’ve recently started investigating bullet lists and planners to try and get more focused, and with the extended Easter holidays ending next Tuesday, and therefore all my Guiding starting up again, a plan is needed.

Are there any methods that have worked for you?

Getting Organised – Halfway

Getting Organised week 2 Utility RoomI’m halfway through my organising journey with A Bowl Full of Lemons and I thought I’d reflect on how I’ve done so far.

Week One and Two – Kitchen and Utility Room

The kitchen and utility room are still organised.   I just need to train the other members of the family to put things away in their new homes (or just put things away!).   We’ve bought a basic IKEA TROFAST unit to store our recycling in, so that the first thing you see when you come in the front door isn’t baskets of paper and plastic bottles.   Mr CG painted it cream to match the cupboards and it’s working well.

Week Three – Dining Room

This was my first unfinished task.   I was ill this week and the photos I dragged out of the cupboard for sorting sat on the side for weeks.   I’ve sorted through a few, but the dining room/Craftyguidelet craft room is a huge job.

Week Four – Launch Pad

Back to success.   We bought a 2×2 KALLAX unit from IKEA with 4 baskets so there’s one space for each member of the family.   The Craftyguidelets are getting good at storing away their shoes, gloves etc. so there is less “Mummy, where’s my other shoe?” going on in the mornings.   I’m usually quite good, but Mr CG needs training up.

Week Five – Living Room

This was my week off due to a chaotic volunteering week.   The living room is OK apart from my sofa which is usually covered (and surrounded by) admin, magazines, craft projects etc.   I still have a magazine mountain to sort, but I’ve started trying to manage my admin using The Sunday Basket idea.   Now my wardrobe is organised, I have somewhere for my WI and Guide bits to go, and I’m getting through the magazines faster than they come through the door.   There are a couple of accumulations of papers starting, but I can have people over without worrying about the state of the place.

Week Six and Seven – Master Bedroom and Closet

To boost my resolve for future weeks, my bedroom looks great now.   Anything that hangs around starts to bug me really quickly so I want to put it away.   We are now thinking about a new carpet to replace the shabby, nail varnish stained cream one we were left by the previous owners.   I also need to start making some new clothes that actually fit and suit me to fill the gap in the wardrobe.

Week Eight – Kids Closets

Unfortunately I find myself banned from the girls’ wardrobes as it’s their normal hiding place for presents.   So with Mother’s Day coming up this Sunday, I don’t get access until next week.   I’ve started trying to sort out the office/craft room instead, so if anyone can lend me a large warehouse to use as a craft room, I’d appreciate it!

It’s the linen closet for week nine of the challenge which I think will be easy to sort out.   Famous last words?

How is your spring cleaning going?

Getting Organised – Week Seven – Bedroom Closet

GOUNELLE (4)I am lucky that I have a large wardrobe all to myself.   As someone who rarely buys new clothes and can trace some of the items in her wardrobe back 20 years, you’d think that sorting it out would be a breeze.   All I can say is, oh help!Getting Organised Bedroom Closet BeforeThis is just MOST of the clutter that lives in my wardrobe.   What you can’t see in this photo are my clothes, shoes, spare sewing machine, guitar, and FIVE Really Useful Boxes of family memories.

With everything out of the wardrobe, it got a good clean and I enjoyed a brief look at the clutter free space *deep contented sigh*.

The easy part of the tidy was sorting through the clothes.   Out went everything that didn’t suit me or would never fit even with the best diet in the world and industrial strength Spanx.   The shoes have practical storage boxes so they were stacked up on the floor of the wardrobe, and all the other clothes were returned in a vague order to the hanging rails.   Clothing for camp plus anything that doesn’t get used often was stored under the bed, and my camp bedding plus my spare camp bedding were stored in zip up storage bags and put on the top shelf.

Next, two of the memory boxes containing school books were relocated to the Craftyguidelets’ bedrooms and the other three were put back into my wardrobe.   My Guide bag was allocated a shelf and everything else was put into piles – craft, bags, WI, Guides, sports stuff, books and other stuff.   Craft stuff was moved to my over-stuffed office/craft room to be fought over another day, WI stuff was allocated a shelf in the wardrobe, books moved back downstairs and everything to be kept was found a home.

I now have a tidy bedroom and a tidy wardrobe.   Mr CG managed to part with some shoes and a few clothes as well so another success.

This week on the A Bowl Full of Lemons blog the organisation challenge is Kid’s Closets.   Littlest Craftyguidelet has just had new bedroom furniture so her wardrobe is pristine.   Eldest needs her one sorted out though so that’s my challenge now, but not until she’s out of the way at school!

Are you still on track with your Spring cleaning?

Getting Organised – Week Six – Master Bedroom

Getting Organised Master Bedroom week sixYes, I know there was no week five!   I took a blogging break last week as it’s been full on at work and home at the moment.   The thought of making blogging a necessity rather than something I do for fun fills me with dread, and I’m sure any readers I have aren’t hanging on waiting to see if I’ve alphabetised the DVDs!

My bedroom has been a tip for months.   I dragged out the cardboard memory boxes that I used to store mine and the Craftyguidelets’ ‘treasures’ ready to sort them, and they sat in the corner of the room.   I dipped in occasionally, but digging through past memories can be time consuming and emotional.   After so long, they became a feature of the room and hardly noticeable.   Having the blog challenge hanging over me gave me the push to get going though, and having frequently nagged the girls to “tidy your rooms!”, it was now mummy’s turn.Getting Organised Master Bedroom memory boxesI bought some Really Useful Boxes so that storage was sturdier, and just went for it.   I’ve been ‘editing’ some of youngest Craftyguidelet’s stuff so we could get her some new furniture and not just move in the same old clutter as before, so I was a bit more battle hardened for the task.   Out went piles of old birthday cards, school artwork that just didn’t mean anything to me any more and the pile went down.   Once I’d finished, Mr CG did a great job of tidying his small pile of clutter, and we now have a tidy room.   It’s now nice to go in there and relax without climbing over piles of clutter.   I even found my marbles!Getting Organised Master Bedroom marblesThe council has taken the recycling and we’ve done a couple of tip runs and a charity shop run to clear the rest.

Next week is the Master Bedroom Closet.   How I’d love to have one as gorgeous as the one on the A Bowl Full of Lemons blog, but mine includes my Guide bag and flag, my WI bag, a guitar and many other bits and pieces as well as my clothes.   Definitely a challenge!

Getting Organised Week Four – Launch Pad

GOUNELLE (1)It’s been a busy week with my volunteering, so although I did my tidy up this week, I haven’t had time to post about it.Getting Organised - Launch Pad Before‘Launch pad’ isn’t a term that I’d heard much about in the UK.   It seems to be something which originated on US organising websites describing where you have everything to get you out of the door in the morning so you aren’t searching for the second glove or trying to remember whether the kids needed their PE kit or their music bags on a Tuesday morning.

We don’t have one launch pad area in our house.   Our school timetable is on a noticeboard in the kitchen. Book bags are in the hallway and shoes and coats are by the back door.   I think I’d like to have a central place where everything goes, and I’ve seen some great ideas at other people’s houses with hooks and files for each child.   I haven’t found anything that suits our space yet though.Getting Organised - Launch Pad AfterI did a good tidy up and sort out.   We’ve acquired new umbrellas and hadn’t ditched the old ones, so they went out first.   I even found the parasol from the baby buggy (youngest is almost 7!) so that went out too.   Extra coats that aren’t being worn at the moment have gone into wardrobes, and everything got a good clean.   Admittedly this photo was taken when the rest of the family was out of the house, but it has remained tidy since.

The living room is next which is mainly my stuff.   Why is it that I can keep everyone else’s belongings organised, but when it comes to my own, it exists in piles?   I haven’t got much further with the dining room which I missed when I was ill.   Onwards and upwards!

Getting Organised Week Three – Sofa

GOUNELLEYes, sofa.

I should be tidying the dining room this week.   It’s a huge job as it’s home to the dining room furniture, CDs, photos, Craftyguidelet craft stuff, table linen, catalogues and other bits and pieces.   Much of this stuff needs a good sort out and declutter, just like I’ve done with the kitchen and utility room so far.   I did a great job there, so the dining room shouldn’t be an issue, should it?

At the beginning of 2015 I wanted to avoid any challenges like the organisation challenge I’m doing now.   I wanted to avoid the pressure of following on at someone else’s pace.   I know how random my life is and how busy my volunteering is, so my pace isn’t the same as anyone else’s.   I don’t want to feel a failure just because I couldn’t crochet as fast as someone who does it for a living and doesn’t have two girls, three Guiding groups, a WI and a house to run in her spare time.

This week, past health problems have come back to get me, together with a stinking cold.   I’ve also had issues from my volunteering to deal with which takes up time and energy – both physical and emotional – so the combination has floored me.   The dining room has hardly been touched apart from relocating boxes of photos into the living room for sorting.   In the past, I’d be beating myself up for ‘failing’.   Today, I’m concentrating on what I’ve learnt in the past, realising I’m not superwoman – no matter how much other people want or expect me to be – and I’m taking things as easy as I can.

If you need me, I’m on the impeccably tidy sofa.Getting organised sofa

Getting Organised Week Two – Utility Room

Getting Organised week 2 Utility RoomI’m still following the A Bowl Full of Lemons #2016abfolchallenge to declutter and tidy my home.   Week 2 is the pantry, but as I live in a modern UK home, I don’t have one.   My utility room is a continuation of my kitchen, so I thought I’d attack that this week.Getting organised utility room beforeAgain, there is too much stuff cluttering up the place.   I did manage to free up one cupboard last week by moving things from here to the kitchen though which was a great starting place.getting organised utility room baking cupboard beforeI had some cleaning stuff in this cupboard and laundry bits in another which was also rammed full of other paraphernalia.getting organised utility room cleaning cupboard beforeA simple empty out of both cupboards meant that I could put all the cleaning bits together with the iron, and my baking tins could leave the surfaces and be put away behind closed doors with the batteries and screwdrivers.getting organised utility room cleaning cupboard aftergetting organised utility room baking cupboard afterThe other main cupboard had first aid, manuals, BBQ tools and the steamer and toaster which don’t get used very regularly.getting organised utility room cupboard beforeThe BBQ tools were relocated out of the way (don’t think I’ll be needing them in the next few months!), and Mr CG hauled out all the household paperwork from the many cubby holes in the house.   Out of date stuff was recycled or shredded and only the current paperwork was kept.getting organised utility room cupboard afterA good vacuum of the tumble drier, a hot wash with soda crystals for the washing machine and the job was done.Getting organised utility room afterThe ironing and washing were tackled the day after this photo and everything is now complete.   I just need to find a way of keeping my hangers untangled, so if you have any hints and tips…!

Week three is the dining room, which in our house is also the Craftyguidelets’ craft room.   I may need therapy after that!

Meal Planning Monday – 18th January

MealPlanning (1)I was happy with my meal plan last week, apart from the fact that putting sausages on the menu only works when you have bought sausages to use.   Oops!

I’ve started a major house declutter and week one was the kitchen.   It has been complete chaos at times, but it is now clutter free.   All the stuff I don’t use is gone, leaving room for more things to go away.   This week I’ve started on the utility room and I’ve carried on being ruthless.   Soon I’ll be able to get the shopping brought through to the kitchen rather than getting it left in the hall because I’m too embarrassed for the Ocado driver to see the mess!

This week I have ordered sausages, so my menu is as follows:

Monday: pasta bolognese
Tuesday: cheesy sweetcorn baked potato and salad (a recipe from The Brownie Cookbook for eldest Craftyguidelet to prepare)
Wednesday: fajitas
Thursday: sausage pasta
Friday: salmon
Saturday: freezer dive
Sunday: roast dinner

As usual I am joining in with At Home with Mrs M’s Meal Planning Monday.   Pop by and see what everyone else is having this week to get some inspiration.

 

Getting Organised Week One – Kitchen

getting organised before picturesI started #2016abfolchallenge on Saturday and the first room was the kitchen.   I took pictures around my kitchen and they perfectly illustrate my problem; clutter everywhere, nothing put away and too much stuff.Getting organised drawer 1 beforeThe first job was the cake tin drawer.   I thought this was a significant job to start with but one that could be completed successfully and therefore motivate me onwards.   10 loaf tins were reduced to 5, tins I’d bought replacements for or which had seen better days were shipped out.   The drawer was cleaned, the contents were put on my Sortly app so I know just how many tins of each size I have, and the contents were put back.getting organised drawer 1 afterSo pleased that I got everything back in, plus I added some tins from another cupboard so everything is now in one place.

And the cutlery drawer has gone from chaos to organised.getting organised cutlery drawer beforegetting organised cutlery drawer aftergetting organised baking cupboard afterThe baking cupboard looks lovely now.   I can see what I’ve got and it’s all stored nicely.getting organised spice drawergetting organised chocolate snack drawer

The surfaces have been cleared and I’ve re-zoned the areas.   The tea and coffee are now near the microwave and fridge and the mixers are closer to where I normally prepare food.Getting organised surfaces afterI am so pleased with how well I’ve done in week one.   Week 2 is the pantry which I don’t have, so I might move onto the utility room next.   The laundry room is week 13, but it comes after the playroom/toys which may need more than one week in this house!

Are you having a new year declutter?

Meal Planning Monday – 11th January

MealPlanningI love my freezer.   As well as the usual ice cream and frozen veg, I store as much as I can in there.   All my butter and any other multibuys go straight in so I can bulk buy when it’s on special offer.   I don’t eat much bread so when I bake a loaf, I slice it up to go straight into the freezer to use slice by slice so there’s no waste.   I also cook batches of vegetarian meals for me so I just need to defrost something for me and cook a meat version for everyone else.   Cheaper food, less waste and convenience – I’ll go for that!

It is important to freeze, defrost and reheat food safely so take care!

This week I’m batch making a vegetarian chilli to add to the bolognaise in the freezer.   If I can do one meal a week, it gives me a selection to pull out of the freezer.

Vegetarian Chilli – serves 6
225g dried white haricot beans
125g dried red kidney beans
1 tbsp oil
2 large onions, quartered and sliced
14oz tin chopped tomatoes
3-4 bay leaves
1 veggie stock cube made up into 850ml stock
2 red and 2 green peppers, cut into medium strips
chilli powder to taste
2-3 cloves garlic, crushed

  1. Soak the beans for 8-12 hours or overnight in plenty of cold water.
  2. Drain the beans and rinse really thoroughly.
  3. Heat the oil in a large saucepan and fry the onions until they are just turning golden.
  4. Add beans, tomatoes, bay leaves and stock.
  5. Bring to the boil uncovered, and once boiling, boil rapidly for 10 minutes (very important when dealing with dried beans to kill toxins).
  6. Cover and simmer for 45 minutes.
  7. Add peppers, garlic and chilli.
  8. Cook slowly for 45 minutes.
  9. Remove bay leaves and serve with rice.
    I have been freezing this in individual portions for years.   I just defrost a portion the night before in the fridge and microwave it until it is completely reheated throughout.

Our weekly meal plan is as follows:

Monday: Jacket potatoes and salad – should have had this last week, but after a day of cleaning and decluttering the kitchen, we had a celebratory takeaway pizza so we didn’t get it dirty again!
Tuesday: Veggie chilli/Chicken and Vegetable Stew
Wednesday: Creamy Haddock and Broccoli
Thursday: Vegetarian Goulash
Friday: Sausages
Saturday: Fish Pie
Sunday: Beef Hotpot/Veggie Bolognaise

Linking to At Home with Mrs M’s Meal Planning Monday.   Pop by and see what everyone else is having this week to get some inspiration.