The Useful Drawer

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Many people have what they refer to as ‘the junk drawer’, however, if you embrace the concept of minimalism in any way or have simply decluttered, there is really no reason to have a drawer full of junk.

Therefore, I actually have a carefully curated drawer of useful things.

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Some of the things are probably a bit difficult to identify so I will list them below.

Top of photo from left to right:

2 boxes of extra-long matches
Set of mini screwdrivers
Candle
Screwdriver with multiple heads
Heavy-duty ziplock bags for reuse
Bread bags for reuse (under ziplock bags)
Small bags for reuse
Brown paper
Teatowel and muslin cloth

Bottom of photo from left to right:

Cut down milk bottle containing twist ties
Cut down milk bottle containing boxes of matches, compass, mini steel measuring tape, rubber bands, tiny ziplock bags, reusable plastic tags cut from an ice-cream container
String tin
Gas gun
Baking paper
Case containing torch and charger
Bag containing pieces of plastic from cereal box liners for reusing to separate food in the freezer
Ziplock bags for reuse

The contents are very useful as evidenced by the fact that my useful drawer is opened multiple times every day.

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Do you still have a junk drawer that looks like the one above?  It is a great place to start decluttering.  Why don’t you try it and see?

The Time It Takes

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Well, it has been a while since I wrote a proper blog post.  I have been busy in the real world as things seem to speed up towards the end of the year.  At least some of it was of our own making as we chose to go to Adelaide for 3 nights about a week ago.

I managed to have the housework pretty well up do date before we left last Saturday but I have not had any free time since arriving home on Tuesday evening to an almost empty refrigerator and the prospect of long days at work for the remaining 3 days of the working week.

It would have been easy to say that I had no time but it really was a matter of making time.  Have you ever considered how little time it actually takes to do some of your regular household tasks?  It only takes me about 6 minutes to hang out a load of washing and about 2 – 3 minutes to get a load of washing off the line.

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So, during the past 5 days I have managed to unpack a suitcase, do a couple of loads of washing, including hanging, bringing it in and folding, plan and prepare meals as well as getting myself to work each day.

Things I do to create time where there does not appear to be any include preparing at least part of the evening meal for the following night while dinner is cooking, putting a load of washing on before I go to work, wiping over the mirror and vanity when I get out of the shower.

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Housework does does not need to be an enormous undertaking.  By doing a little bit often you can keep things humming along with very little time.  Other jobs that take a couple of minutes are unloading the dishwasher, wiping down the sink, cleaning a single shelf in the refrigerator, dusting a polishing a table and so on.  Every small task that you can slip into your routine is one that does not build into an overwhelming project.

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Did you notice the one thing I have not mentioned?  Ironing!  I need at least an hour of clear time to get stuck into a pile of ironing and make it worthwhile.

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How do you arrange your housework into the time available?

Ferreting in the Freezer

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After 5 1/2 years of writing this blog, I sometimes feel like I am just going over same territory again and again.  Tonight I want to share something that came to me in a blinding flash this morning.

I had done a menu plan for the next week and almost everything was from the freezer.  I wanted to check what I had with a view to using some of it up.  The fridge in the kitchen has a sizeable freezer at the bottom which is 2 large drawers and we have a small, upright freezer (the size of a bar fridge) downstairs.

Once I had cleaned the freezer in the kitchen, I had the bright idea of collecting all of the items I need for the meals for the week and put them all together on the left-hand side of the top-drawer.

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There will be no more discovering that there is no pre-cooked rice left or that I need to make a new batch of refried beans and so on.  I am not sure why I did not think of this years ago but I guess it is better late than never.  It means that each week I will do a mini-stocktake of the freezer and locate what I need for meals in the coming week.

The home-made pizza bases are on top of the other containers and the rest of the space on the right-hand side has other meals for future meal plans.  Having them here together means that at a glance I can see what meals I have available.

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I have tried various lists and inventories of my freezer but none have been terribly successful as the state of my freezer is dynamic, a moveable feast, you could say.  I am hopeful that simply having the next things that I plan to use all in the same place will assist in keeping some order in the freezer.

Built for a Purpose

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A very quick post tonight in between trying to catch on on some housework.

I brought the washing in this evening and folded it on the laundry bench.  Now, that may not sound very exciting but I was inspired to take a photo to show you.

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While the bench was not totally clear – a few things in one corner – it was adequate to fold a load of washing.  That was my plan when we had these cupboards built not long after we moved in.  The reality is somewhat different.  There always seems to be a bucket with something soaking in it, handwashing to be done and a myriad of other things.  I end up doing the folding on the spare bed or lounge and neither option is good for my back.

I am definitely going to try to keep this bench clear so that it can be used for folding clothes on a regular basis.

Keeping it Clear

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At the risk of boring you, I have one more post about the new desk.

After years of an open table top with no storage, it is a novelty to have 2 large drawers on the right-hand side of the desk as well as the storage above.  The top drawer has some paper that I salvaged from the IKEA packaging which our grand-daughters will be able to use for drawing as well as last year’s Christmas cards that I need to sort and file.  The lower drawer is designed to hold suspension files and there is nothing in there at the moment.

2015-07-20 01This is a close-up of the left-hand side of the shelving above the desk.  From the top – monitor for solar panels, modem, phone and stationery items (pens,paper clips and bulldog clips).  There are 2 speakers on the centre shelf but the remainder are empty.  How long will that remain the case?

I have a couple of lists and a notepad in the small drawer on the left.  I really like the idea of being able to put them in the drawer so that they are not lying around on the desk.

My plan is to keep the desk looking pretty much as it is and I see no reason for that not to be the case.  It is a great opportunity to start with minimal stuff and keep it that way.

Finding the Freezer

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Well, it wasn’t the actual freezer – more like the contents!.

Today I was working from home and late this afternoon I went looking for a chicken casserole in the freezer to have for dinner.  I do not keep an absolute inventory of the contents of the freezer but generally have a pretty fair idea of what is in there.  I could not even remember what type of container the casserole was in but I eventually found it.

While I was looking for the casserole I found a few odds and ends that needed to be used up and the drawers needed cleaning  as well.

Here are the contents of the top drawer.

001The drawer was washed and ready to repack.

002Organised and ready to replace.

005The bottom drawer finished as well.

006This was the freezer section of my main refrigerator in the kitchen.  We also have a small bar-sized freezer downstairs.  There are are few food items but it is mostly frozen water which we stored during the storm season.  This could be thawed and used and the remaining food transferred to the freezer in the kitchen.  I will do that on the weekend and then defrost the small freezer.

This is what I have in the freezers at the moment.

Salmon – 6 serves
Chicken – 4 serves
Diced beef – 4 serves
Mince – 2 serves
Sausages – 8 serves
Bacon – 6 rashers
Frozen peas – 1.5 packets
Home-made bread – 6 slices
Tomato pulp – 500ml
Honey/soy sauce – 100ml
Broccoli stalk – 1
Zucchini slice – 2 serves
Cherry tomatoes – 2kg
Chopped basil and tomatoes – 2 ice-cube trays
Ground coffee – 500g
Mango puree – 1.2 litres
Guava puree – 1.5 litres
Berry juice – 800ml
Pumpkin soup – 5 serves
Celery soup – 2 serves
Crushed bunya nuts – 2 kg
Ice – 10 litre

When I re-read the list it is evident that my freezer contents are mostly meat and storage of some of the things we grow – cherry tomatoes, basil, mangoes, guavas, bunya nuts and pumpkins.  Sometimes I have more prepared meals.

How do you keep track of what is in the freezer?  What sorts of things do you store.

Friday Filing – 2

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Another week has whizzed by and the filing basket is slightly fuller this week.

2015-01-16 01The pile beside the basket is what I collected from the mailbox today.

I opened the mail and then sorted it into piles according to the action required.

2015-01-16 02Clockwise from top left:

Paper to go in the recycling bin (by far the biggest pile)
Some family history information which my mother gave to me – needs to be put in the storage container with other similar papers
Basket – almost empty
To be filed – includes new insurance schedule as a result of my follow-up phone call, tax assessments, notification of gas bottle delivery and bank statement
Plastic bag – to be kept to use as a rubbish bag
Confirmation of electoral enrollment which we will need when we vote in 2 weeks time – will put them in our wallets
ReNew magazine – I have almost finished reading it so it will go in the rack with the other issues
2 newspapers – to be read tonight then added to the recycling

Here is what is left in the basket:

2015-01-16 03Our list of jobs/goals for the house and garden – some short-term and others much longer but it serves as a reminder
The yellow tag is the variety of blueberry bush which The Duke wants to buy to replace a couple that did not survive.  We will not be buying these until the weather cools down a bit so what better place to keep it than in the filing basket?
The brown “thing” in the corner is actually 2 small bits of timber that broke off one of the outdoor chairs and The Duke is planning to repair it.

In just 3 weeks I feel as though I have made real inroads into creating a system that works for us to keep the relatively modest amount of mail and other papers that come into the house under control.

I do not see the need to post a similar thing every Friday about the ongoing filing activity which will be very similar each week.  However, I am happy to answer any questions you may have.

Do you have a system for keeping the paperwork under control?