Organising and Decluttering (New Year’s Resolution Update)

One of my New Year’s Resolutions was to be more organised… I’ve been putting time aside each weekend since the beginning of January to organise and clear out my clutter. It’s a bit of a slow process admittedly – spending time doing this gets boring after a couple of hours (hence why I’m only doing it a couple of hours each weekend). So far I’ve:

  • Tidied and organised my clothes dresser
  • Cleared out 5 bags of old clothes and took to the charity shops
  • Tidied my living room bookcase
  • Tidied my wardrobe and organised my shoes and bags
  • Tidied my entrance hallway

Here are a couple of before and afters from my wardrobe and my living room bookcase.

Living Room bookcase - Before

I’m a bit funny about tidying things away – books are pretty, and I like showing them off.. But the mix of my DVD’s and books made my bookcase look messy (at least to my eyes)… So I went to IKEA and bought some DVD boxes (green of course, to go with my green colour scheme for the living room) and put all my DVDs in them.  Now all my books look tidier, and the bookcase looks more inviting.

Living Room bookcase - After

I especially like that the green is now more of a feature in the living room through the dvd boxes now on the bookcase, and they pick up the plant and green bottle on top of the bookcase as well. (You may be able to spot two copies of Game of Thrones in my bookcase – I bought the first book back in Easter last year, but the boxset of books 1 – 4 was on offer in the Black Friday sales in Amazon, so I ended up buying the set, as it was only £15, down from £39.99).

When it came to the bedroom wardrobe, I needed to sort through and declutter.  It was beginning to look very messy…

Top of the wardrobe - Before

I’d ended up putting all the bags that I didn’t use regularly (holdall, some tote bags, a rucksack) at the top of the wardrobe, out of easy reach (it’s a bit of a stretch up there for a girl of 5’4″!).  The bottom shelf of my wardrobe was even worse (how embarrassing!)… The majority of my shoes (over 30 pairs, yes I counted and was slightly horrified!) were in a higgledy piggledy heap at the bottom of the wardrobe, and I always had to root round a little to find a pair.  Something had to be done to sort this out, and make my wardrobe look neater and more welcoming every morning for me to open, so I got all my shoes out of the wardrobe, lined them up, and sorted them out.

I ended up boxing several of my shoes into the black IKEA boxes and put them up the top of the wardrobe:  I put canvas shoes and sandals in one box, and heels that I don’t wear very often in another box.  I then picked a couple of pairs that I wear regularly, and left them outside of boxes, so they’re easier to grab and put on in the mornings.

I then placed the bags in a large plastic box at the bottom of my wardrobe, within easy reach.

Top of the wardrobe - After

Bottom of the wardrobe - After

It may not look like much, but it took a while to sort out the mess that had accumulated in the top and bottom shelves of the wardrobe (the living room bookcase was a much easier remedy, taking only 10 mins).

So, after a couple of hours work over the weekend, I have managed to maintain my New Year’s resolution of being more organised and to tidy up a little round the place, so I’m quite pleased with myself!… Now if only I could find the willpower to organise my kitchen cupboards…

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Magic Carpet

Apologies, I’ve been a bit lax writing posts recently… That’s not to say that I’ve not been a busy bee though!… I’ve got lots of yummy recipes that I’ll be posting in the next couple of weeks, and a couple of fun ideas for little decorations and things to make for Valentine’s Day.

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I’ve been living in my flat for seven months now, and I’ve been looking for carpets for the living room since I moved in.  I’ve got a large living room area, and the teeny tiny rug that was in there (inherited from my student days) has been almost completely covered just by the coffee table.

Before

I’ve been postponing the purchase because the size of the rug needed meant that it would be – probably – a sizeable amount of cash that would be leaving my bank account to cover it.  I was also quite indecisive about the colour… I didn’t know whether to go for a neutral colour, or whether to go for a bold statement (dark green rug anyone?!), plain or patterned.

In the end, I decided – pretty spur of the moment whilst walking through IKEA (we were buying other things for my flat, and we just happened to walk through the rug section and notice some discount prices) – to go for a plain, neutral rug.  Boring I know.  BUT.. it’s an investment, and I know that whatever house I buy, I’m going to be painting those future living room walls some lovely bold colour, and the rug will look fabulous and neutral and balanced in comparison.  I made sure that the rug wasn’t too big either, as I have no idea what house I’ll end up in, in the next year or so, and so wanted a big enough rug to feel homey and cozy, but a small enough one that I’ll be able to fit in potentially a study or small living room down the line.

Here’s the before and after pictures to give you an idea of how the rug has made the living room feel more like a cozy spot to curl up in (the rug, although a shorter pile than ones I’d originally looked at, is gorgeously soft and I’m loving walking barefoot on it!).

After

When you compare the two photos, it’s a massive improvement on the living space, and is just one extra thing (along with the curtains and frame wall) that make this space feel like a lived in and cosy home now.

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PS – you’ll notice that this was a few weeks ago, as you can see Sherlock on my TV screen… Wasn’t the finale something and a half?!… I nearly cried (but then I found out that there’s to be a third series, so I’m now not so upset by the ending, and more “so HOW did they do that???!” Can not wait till the next series airs… Hurry up 2013!)

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 PPS – The rug is from IKEA, £49.99, down from £80.68.  Yay for waiting to buy the rug and getting £30 knocked off the price!

A New Year, A New Start

And that’s why you have new year’s resolutions.  In all honesty, I end up breaking mine a month or so into the year, so they’re pretty useless to make in the first place…

However this year, I am making resolutions (albeit a little late uploading them to here!), and they are manageable ones that I will be able to keep.

So with no further ado, my resolutions for 2012:

1) To be more organised – I’ve realised that this is one that I really need to make an effort at sometimes.  On the weeks that I’m working 50+ hours between my two jobs, it’s easy to not tidy up at home when I get back from work, as I’m often too tired.  However, if I can organise things well, it will be easier to keep things tidy on a day-to-day basis.  It’s not just that though, it’s getting rid of clutter and items that I no longer use, as inevitably I’ll have to pack up my belongings once more when I move to a new house, and I don’t want to have to box up things that I won’t use.

*This has already began:  I spent my Saturday morning going through my wardrobe and chest of drawers, sorting out my clothes… I’ve already put aside a substantial amount to sell via eBay (yay, extra cash!), and sent 4 bags of clothes to the charity shop.  I’ve tidied both wardrobe and drawers, and organised them.  I took my summer clothes out and stored them in a box under my bed, so that there’s more room in the drawers for my winter jumpers, and I can look forward to swapping my clothes around come April time.

2) To reprioritise my life – say yes to the right things, and not be afraid of saying no when I’m overworked and when I don’t want to do something.

3) To make a profit doing the things that I enjoy; blog, crafts, baking and composing.  Even if it’s starting a small shop on Etsy for Christmas crafts, or going to a couple of farmer’s markets with my cupcakes.  It can be as little as making birthday and Christmas cards more regularly, to save money in the long run, and making Christmas decorations again for next year.

4) To be more healthy, to be more fit, and be happier in myself (and maybe even lose a bit of weight whilst doing so).  I’m already pretty good at being healthy, but I’d like to think I could be even more so, and will be more aware of what I cook.

5) To make more of an effort to save money for important things. I need to think more when doing a food shop sometimes, especially after watching Extreme Couponing!  I’ll definitely be featuring a couple of easy, quick, healthy and cheap meals on the blog this year!  (Starting with a yummy and cheap Leek, Spinach and Potato bake, and a healthy version of Eton Mess this week, once I have a card reader to upload the photos from my camera!)

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Savvy Shopping – How to shop for Christmas in the January Sales

 

The January sales are all a-go-go, and it’s easy to forget all about next Christmas in the rush to get cheap clothes and cute things in the massive sales.  However, it’s a great idea to do some shopping now, for the Christmas next year (I know, I know, biiiig planning ahead, but seriously, it’s worth it!… You can get decorations half price at this time of year, and you can even bag a fake Christmas tree for under £30.

I’ve compiled a short list of things to keep in mind when shopping the January sales, specifically for the next year’s festive season:

  • Christmas pudding will keep – a rich pudding is full of sugar which means that in spite of it maybe saying ‘Best Before July 2012’, it will keep until next year.
  • Mincemeat does not seem to be in the sale in January, but keep an eye out if it is reduced.
  • Start your Christmas shopping for next year – January sales are full of nice items, that you will be paying full price for again if you leave it until next winter.  I now have a ‘present box’ in my study, which is full of presents that I can give J or friends and family for their next birthdays / Christmas.  Stationery is always useful, and will again be reduced in the January sales.
  • Likewise, jewellery and small gifts can be bought now and kept in a box until birthdays and Christmas next year.
  • Store your current Christmas decorations carefully, so that none break.  It’ll save you having to buy more decorations when you realise there’s some broken ornaments in the box next year.
  • Christmas Candles will obviously keep – if yours have been getting low due to using them this year, buy your new ones now, and save some money.  Same with christmas cards and wrapping paper – they can store easily in a cupboard somewhere until you need them next year (and you can get an early start on writing those Christmas cards; if you’ve got them in the cupboard, you can write and send them in November – plenty of time before the last postal dates!)
  • If you need to buy a new (fake) Christmas tree, now’s the time, the price is much much lower than they are before Christmas, as the old stock needs to be got rid of.
  • Christmas lights are also half price at this time of year – LED ones are usually expensive, but I managed to grab a couple of sets for £7.50 each instead of the £15 that they were before the sale.

Top Tip:  I tend to avoid the high streets, but shop online instead.  Most shops offer free delivery around this time of year, and generally all offer free returns.  It’s far more relaxing to browse a website with a cup of coffee in hand, rather than fight through a swarm of rushed shoppers in order to grab that last Christmas ramekin!

Winter Garden

So, like I said here, I have a new camera.  Which means a multitude of photos.  And lots appearing on here.

I spent Christmas week at my parents house, which has a garden (my flat does not have one, alas… Though the fact that the park is round the corner from me takes the edge off that a fair bit!).  I’ve been playing round with the camera anyway to get an idea of what to do with it, and so here are some wintery bare-twigged photos of the garden for you to enjoy.

Happy New Year everyone!  xx

Cinnamon Orange Cupcakes

Now that Christmas is over, there’s lots and lots of festive food still to be eaten… All that turkey, and Christmas cake… and mince pies… and what did I go and do??… I made more food!

I made this recipe for a family lunch on Boxing Day this year; the whole family gets together on Boxing Day – aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins – in my grandparents house, and we all bring some food to the table to contribute.  I made these cinnamon orange cupcakes as a break from all the heavy rich food.

Ingredients:

6 oz self raising flour

6 oz granulated sugar

6 oz butter (I use hard vegetable margarine)

3 eggs

2 tbsps milk

rind of 1 orange

juice of 1 orange

Recipe:

1) Preheat the oven to 180’C.

2) Measure out the basic ingredients (flour, sugar, butter, milk) into a bowl and beat together until blended.

3) Add the juice and rind of the orange, and mix in.

4) Spoon into cupcake cases and put in the oven for 15 – 20 minus until golden brown on top and spongy to the touch.  Once out of the oven, let the cakes sit in the tin for 5 minutes to cool before placing them on a cooling rack.

Icing:

4 oz hard margarine

8 oz icing sugar

1 tsp ground cinnamon

Beat together the icing sugar, butter and cinnamon until the mixture turns creamy and smooth.  Use a palette knife or icing bag to ice the cakes, and decorate with edible glitter or sprinkles.

Hello World!

I have a new toy: my new camera. Hola awesome Christmas present! (I’ve clearly been watching too many American TV shows, but to be fair, “shwmae awesome Christmas present” doesn’t have quite the same ring to it).

I went a bit snap happy playing with the different lenses, so forgive the inevitable posts in the New Year that will be full of photos (and the fact that the photos in the blog now will be much better quality than before)!

I’m still learning about how to take better photos – I’m far too used to my old iPhone ‘point and shoot’ camera, so it’s really nice to be able to take photos that have clarity and focus, rather than looking a little pixelated!

Hope that you’ve all had a fantastic Christmas, and that you got what you wished for!

xx