In which I discover Washi tape

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My ongoing project for organising the house has officially started. I was forced (forced!) to go buy some stationery. It was all terribly exciting until I discovered that my local stationery shop had run out of storage boxes but for one brown cardboard one. Granted, the fuchsia background and white dots on the inside were pretty enough but that brown was offending my sensibilities.

Badgerman suggested I could decorate it myself, at which point I snorted rather unattractively and raised my eyebrows in a ‘do you even know me’ manner. The very next second I had a brain wave about a product I’d been hearing loads about but had dismissed early on as ‘I’m not a Pinterest soccer mom’ and ‘another fancy newfangled weirdness for craft addicts’ that would die out as quickly as it had trended. I’m talking about Washi tape.

Little did I know I would fall in love with the stuff.

For those who don’t know, it’s a kind of thin decorative masking tape used by craft people to do… well, crafty stuff I know nothing about. Hobbycraft call it ’embellishment tape’. I’m told it’s Japanese and reusable, biodegradable and tree free, and made out of highly renewable resources. And also kind of a weird thing? That is, until you discover that it can be useful and then . Now I understand a bit better why washi tape sales have exploded in the world of craft-loving middle-class Alison Hendricks lookalikes: yes it’s really pretty but it is also practical; it is removable, it leaves no trace behind, it is not expensive (depending on where you buy it) and there is So Much Choice.

Useful things I’m going to do with Washi tape that aren’t just wacky internet craft person things:

Label Everything: all you need is a bit of Washi tape and a permanent marker, and there you go!

Prettify ugly things, like that shocking brown box. I’ve only started but don’t you think it is instantly improved?

washi tape examples

 

And yes, I made my very first batch of all-purpose cleaning product! It’s 500 ml water, 125 ml white vinegar and a few drops of lavender essential oil. You would think the smell of vinegar would be overpowering but the essential oil counteracts that very well. I’m now using it for everything. And look, pretty label!

Where can I buy Washi tape?

It is becoming more widely available nowadays, so that even Wilkinson’s has a couple of rolls. That’s not much choice, but I’ve been able to start my collection, and you get a couple of rolls (16 metres) for just under £2. Not bad really.

If you want to visit an actual UK shop, Hobbycraft and Paperchase also stock it. Otherwise you can go online and there is a great range both at washitapes.co.ukwishywashi and cutetape.

A Beginner's collection

A Beginner’s collection

It Looks Interesting But What More Can You Do With It?

For ideas on what to do with Washi tape, well, there’s always good old Pinterest, although I draw the line at decorating pumpkins with the stuff. See what I mean about ‘wacky internet craft-types’ doing weird craft things?

I have a dream – that my house will be organised

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I have come back from our three weeks’ holiday to France full of energy for the year ahead, at least that’s what it feels like two days after we’ve returned. Long may it last!

I walked into the house and got an eerie feeling of familiarity and strangeness. Then it hit me: everything was so tidy… Our lovely house-sitters did the most marvelous job of cleaning out the mess within; I suspect it looked like the most obvious way to treat us. I can’t tell you how embarrassed I am at the thought of what the bedroom looked like before the clothes were put away.

I’ve been meaning to get to the bottom of my untidiness for years, but it never goes off the ground for the simple reason that I struggle with the most basic of tasks. I dislike all housekeeping (apart from cooking) and am inherently a bit lazy. I don’t say this lightly either, if I have a choice between sitting at the laptop or picking up laundry, I will choose the computer every time and this attitude is never going to be conducive to a tidy house. I do like a home to look lived in but my standards are so incredibly low that even I start to get twitchy when the floor disappears under toys and old socks.

I talked about this problem of mine a couple of years ago when I was trying to think of ways I could contribute financially to the household and get the house in order during my maternity leave . My cleaning aspirations died a couple of months in when I failed to follow-through with laminating the weekly list I’d created. I need visual help to keep motivated and on track with my goals, so I just completely forgot about it. The menu planning, I’m pleased to say, is going strong despite the fact that I never did create the pretty menu planning board I wanted. As for this idea I had that I could tutor at home with two children under five in the house; yeah, they soon put me right about that hare-brained scheme…

So what’s the plan?

This time, I am not just going to half-think about this. I have a proper plan to tackle the clutter that we live in.

  • The first step was the purchase of a home organisation reference book to help me clarify my thinking and provide me with some practical tips and tools. I know I can find a million things on the internet, but I needed something tangible and all in one place. I decided on Organized Simplicity: A Clutter-Free Approach to Intentional Living by Tsh Oxenreider. The title alone pretty much summarises what I am aiming for. It’s about simplifying my life and getting rid of clutter so I can focus about what matters to me the most. It includes a step-by-step ten-day plan to organise every room in your house, instructions and templates to create a home management notebook and recipes for making cheap non-toxic household cleaners.
  • The second step was to gather a few stationery supplies to put together a paper gathering system. I am in the process of building up a concertina folder for all the paperwork that requires action: bills, appointments to confirm, receipts for the month. OK, maybe not that last one because I live like a teenager and my budget management is pretty threadbare but maybe some day I will have a plan for that.
  • In my handbag, I now have a (French!) Sept 2014 to Dec 2015 diary that contains areas for weekly menu planning and to-do lists as well as a monthly summary and overall objective setting. It is similar to this UK offering: 2015 Organised Mum Family Life Book diary (Starts mid-Aug ’14 until Dec ’15). I will use it for all of the above and as a daily appointment schedule. Alongside this, I will also keep a small A5 project notebook with dividers to jot down any ideas and clarify my thought process.
  • I have also created a grocery list and a cleaning checklist (printed straight away so I don’t chicken out) that will live in a big home management binder at home. The budget management side will also go in there some day.

my 2014-15 diary

But how do I keep going?

From where I stand, this endeavour looks very much like every other project I’ve ever undertaken. I get very excited about the pretty stationery and the lists. I manage to stick to it for a few weeks, maybe even a couple of months. Then I grow complacent and lazy with the upkeep and things start to slip until six months down the line, one look at the house tells me that things are back to where they were before.

I am going to do better this time.

I am going to use the blog to keep tabs on my progress. I am going to attempt to identify my progression hurdles and try to keep going even when all I want to do is sit in front of the TV and watch re-runs of Big Bang Theory instead of mopping the kitchen floor.

In order to do this, I am going to list all the areas Badgerman and I have identified as being in dire need of a sort-out – that’s aside from the basic de-cluttering of every room that I need to undertake to follow the steps suggested in the above-mentioned reference book. I will post before and after pictures and link it all back to here for reference (fancy!). I’m also sort of hoping that these things will be done by Christmas but I may be way too optimistic. You organised types can tell me if I’m dreaming and please share all your tips! So here it is:

  • Set up a paper collection system and organise my paperwork
  • Review our DVD collection and sell/give all the ones we will never watch again
  • Review our bookshelves and sell/give away those that won’t be read again
  • Do an inventory of my clothes and sell or give away those that no longer fit or that I haven’t worn in ages
  • Organise the coats’ cupboard
  • Re-organise the kitchen, especially the plastic boxes/lids (this one is because Badgerman can’t understand my system and reckons he has a better way – we shall see…)
  • Organise the shoes
  • Organise our cables

 

Yep, that’s quite a lot. And it all badly needs doing. So wish me luck!

 

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This Lazy Housewife Fights Back

When I was a teenager, I used to wish I could finally be an adult so I could do whatever I wanted. It’s got to be the Number One wish of all teenagers, right? And now that I am here, I will be endlessly grateful that I no longer need take an exam unless I want to, that I can stay up late any day of the week and that I’ll never again be told to eat up my greens.

But of course that’s not quite the whole picture, and not just because I’ve got me a baby and the late nights exist not so much by design but by the will of a howling gremlin. With adulthood come some responsibilities that I have been surprisingly slow to address in my life. I have made flippant comments in the past about the fact that I am lazy, and whilst I laugh about it, it actually has some negative impact on my life and I am now at the point where I need to do something about it. Two things in particular I have had to look to make some changes: cleaning and finances.

English: This is a picture of a stiff whisk br...

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Cleaning

When I lived in other people’s houses, I could never remember to do my chores and had to be nagged all the time. It was not exactly the end of the world then, but now that I am in control of my own house, it has some bad consequences. Whilst I could justify not doing much housework when I was doing a three-hour daily commute to London, now that I stay at home there is something awkward and slightly shameful in the fact that the first thing Badgerman does on a Saturday morning is to clean the bathroom. If I can find a couple of hours a day to read blogs and play games online, I should be able to find a half-hour to hoover the floor. And yet, for the last seven months I have got by with the bare minimum. No more my friends.

I was inspired by Jen, a blogger who writes at I Heart Organizing about how she orders her life and who I quite frankly wish I was more like in this area (even though such tidiness is a bit intimidating to me). And she makes lists! There is nothing that fills me with more satisfaction than making a good old list. Fighting laziness really is a battle for me, and I need visuals to help overcome the sheer effort it takes me to do anything. So this week I made a cleaning rota with daily, weekly and monthly goals to tick off and hopefully it will help me get on with it. I do have an uncomfortable feeling that making the list was the most fun I am going to have with this one.

Finances

In addition in a few weeks my maternity pay comes to an end and I have to find ways to implement our family income.

First thing, I am going to have a meal rota. I know, loads of people do it but I’ve never needed to until now and it requires the kind of discipline I struggle to implement in my personal life (not professionally though, I am a super organised PA I’ll have you know – go figure). Impulse buying is not good for our purse so I am going to give it a shot. We’re going to have theme nights and I might even made a funky menu board like this incredible blogger Clair whose ideas for a board and menu planning I am totally going to steal right, left and centre. If it’s not fun, I know it won’t last and I LOVE the idea of a board; I got loads of other ideas from Pinterest. I’ll keep you posted on how it develops.

And then finally, I am going to go self-employed and offer piano lessons for beginners and French tuition. This is a Very Scary Thought. I have given piano lessons before but never French, because school = shudder and I didn’t want to relive any of it even by proxy. But it was a long time ago and I really feel that it is what I should be doing.

All in all, I’ve had quite a lot of thoughts in the last week or so and I am pleased that it might actually come to fruition. It makes me feel almost adult and possibly a little less lazy.