Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Tuesday Tip: Sock clips

I think it's one of the most discussed about topics in doing  laundry, that and green detergent: socks. They go missing (but only one out of a pair!), they look too alike to be told apart in the wee hours of the morning (that'd be before 8am for me) but enough apart so that everyone can tell your socks don't match. And sorting them and pairing them and folding them takes up inordinate amount of time.

Okay, it's five minutes, for me at least 'cause I live alone and only have my own socks to sort. But I don't have a dryer, so I line dry everything. Yeah, hanging up 15 pairs of socks is not fun.

Luckily I remembered that once upon a time my mom bought these little sock clips for my dad who was always mismatching black/dark blue socks. But my dad isn't really small clips kinda man, so he's not using them. But he might still have them around...

He did! And now my sock anxiety is gone! Introducing Supi-sock holder!

I have these in a small bag next to my laundry bag, so that I can put these on my socks before tossing them in there. Takes 5 seconds. Here's how they work:

There's three parts, the hook on top for hanging, the lock (the bar where the hook is), and the clamping jaws. Usually the lock is open after you've removed the socks but if not, open it.

Press from the sides lightly to open the clamping jaws (3)  and slip the socks in between. I do either from toes or from the ankles. No matter which. If they're very thick you might want to go with the ankles.

Close the lock mechanism by twisting the upper bar back in place. Toss in the laundry.

When you wash laundry, these can be put in the washer just like this. And then hung to dry from the hook or put in the dryer. And once they're done, you've got your socks all paired up and ready to be put away! And they come in six colors (three per pack) so you can color coordinate for each member of the family!

All in all, it's less socks lost, less aggravation over matching and sorting. Small thing in the grand scheme of things, but it's the little things that end up bugging us the most, isn't it?

[Disclaimer: I'm in no way affiliated with the company, I just happened to find these a perfect solution to a very common problem.]

Monday, April 22, 2013

Meal Monday: Morning Porridge

In my quest to a more, shall we say, responsible and informed living, one big item to get in shape was my eating habits. And one of the biggest bad habit of them all was not eating breakfast. Or well, eating something other than 4 cups of coffee (and some left-overs two hours after getting up) for breakfast.

But in my mind, any minute you spend sitting at the table eating breakfast is a minute you could have spent under the covers in the comforts of your bed. Besides, eating straight out of bed made me nauseous, so... if I did eat anything it was while rushing about trying to find that one top that's in the laundry and putting on my face makeup. Portable and quick.

My mom has long advocated porridge for me. Doesn't sound very quick, I hear you wonder. Well, not the usual kind, but there are these lovely "speed" porridges available! Yes, SPEED PORRIDGE! (That is a very literal translation, mind you.)

They're so easy: you just boil water, empty the contents of the bag into a small bowl, pour about 2dl of water on it and mix well (about 20 circles give and take). Let it sit for a minute (it's super hot anyways) and eat. Could not be easier!

My mom uses these as a snack or part of her lunch at work, and my dad and his hiking buddies had these along for the hike. Because they're light-weight to carry, and you just need to add water. The possibilities are endless!

And they're flavored! My usual morning treat is raspberry, and my special treat is white chocolate and strawberry. The apple cinnamon is also good. (Sorry they're all in Finnish. Google translate is useless with that most of the time...)

For the first time in my adult life, I'm regularly eating breakfast!

I don't know if you can get these elsewhere, but at least in Finland loads of store stores have their own brands of these porridges in addition to the "big brands". And really, it shouldn't be too difficult to make your own mix! In fact, since these are exceptionally expensive compared to just buying the oatmeal, I've been toying with the idea for a while. I just need to figure out the flavorings. Or just go with jam! But that's one extra thing to do in the morning, get the jam out of the fridge, open it, get a spoon, put the jam back... Did I mention I go for extra low effort in the mornings? Thus the speed porridge!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Perks of Having Guests

I was on a major cleaning and organizing bend last week because my sister was going to use my flat as the base for her visit in town with some girlfriends. And knowing my sister I knew that the superficial stuffing-things-behind-closed-doors kind of cleaning wasn't going to cut it, because she has a habit of nosing through every closet and cupboard. I kid you not. Which I don't mind, except that this time it meant finally figuring out those closets as well.

So, organizing, purging, prettifying and cleaning was in order. And oh boy did I get the flat pretty! So pretty and tidy and nice in fact, that I'm now afraid to do anything in there for the fear of messing it up again.

Here's a few ideas I used

Closed storage
When you live in a small space like I do you face the problem of keeping it streamlined and peaceful to the eye while storing everything in plain sight. There's no hideaway closets, but you have everything out in the open. Which often results in a very busy and restless environment, heightened by the smallness of the space.

Which is why I'm such a big fan of boxes and baskets. Like in my kitchenette, where I have a basket for breakfast things next to my toaster. Sure, I could just have them on the counter, but that's not pretty, and it's cluttered-looking and (from experience) encourages further clutter. That particular spot was exceptionally good at gathering all sorts of random items. Now all those breakfast things are in a pretty basket. It looks calmer, it's contained, and I'm less likely to leave stuff there, because, well, it stands out as clutter and as something that doesn't belong. Thus I remove it.

Or in my bookshelf, the top shelves (the ones I can't reach without a step-stool) hold old cardboard shoe boxes, all wrapped up in pretty decor-appropriate white-polka dots-on-black paper, and some black and black-on-white polka dot storage boxes. The labels are all from the same note pad, so while different, they're of the same shape and style. These boxes contain pretty much everything from mementos to crafting supplies to toilet paper shells I'm collecting for one of those cool wall decor things you see on Pinterest so much.

Color uniformity
I have a lot of books. Really lot. So my bookshelf unit, which is pretty much to the ceiling, and about 2 meters wide would look really restless and distracting and overwhelming if it wasn't for one thing: it's organized by color. Seriously, I kid you not. Also, within a color the books are grouped by size a bit, so that I am able to adjust the shelves and fill the shelves rather tightly also vertically. It's a solid wall of color, but peaceful and calming to look at. The ease of adjusting the shelves and the slim profile are why I love my IKEA Billy shelves, 40cm wide. And because the outlet for internet and TV cable and such was smack in the middle of my bookshelf, I inserted two Benno DVD-shelf units from IKEA in the middle. They're not as deep as Billy, so there's room in the back for the outlets, and the shelves match perfectly. And yes, before you ask, my DVD's are organized by color, to fit into the books.

Keeping the colors uniform all around makes the look more calm. Having all my storage boxes and magazine folders black on my printer shelf (yes, my printer is also black, and my bed right next to it has a black duvet) keeps it looking less messy and less like it's holding all the different things it if fact it. A small pop of color in the form of the original Keep Calm -poster on top of the shelf keeps in fresh. And on the opposite side of the room, the pictures are in the same frame as the poster.

Embrace your mess
I know, sounds counterproductive. Every blog and article on organizing you see preaches the virtues of purging. But, one has to be realistic. If you're like me, for example, and you gather up magazines every now and then and keep reading them for several weeks, you need a place for them. Or if you have four different knitting projects on to go at the same time, you need to have those out in the open yet contained. So instead of fighting that aspect of your life, embrace it and make it part of your home and decor. A pretty basket tucked under the table? A magazine basket to hold your knitting next to the armchair? Incorporate, instead of fighting. I have an old wooden wine box under my coffee table to hold my magazines. Organized doesn't have to mean minimalism if that's not who you are. Organized is just that, organized. Contained. Tidied up in a logical reasonable way.

Place with space for everything
Finally, the key thing in organizing is, of course, having a place for everything. We've all heard that. But what we don't often hear is reserving space for growth. I read somewhere that when planning a bookshelf you should plan it for the amount of books you have plus 20 percent. Because if you're the book-kinda gal, you're going to get more. And with the room for growth built into your plan to begin with, two new books won't throw you off. You have room for them.

Similarly, if you're a crafter, plan your craft storage with new purchases in mind. You're going to get new paper and yarn and buttons and and and... you need a place for them. And everything, really, that you know you're bound to get more. Food storage. Your storage needs fluctuate, no doubt, so plan for that. Make sure you're prepared to used that super offer on noodles, with the corresponding storage possibilities. You're getting the idea. So make sure there're a place for everything and within that, for those things that need it, a space for new additions.

There it is, few rules I went by last week. Making it pretty, purging and containing and regrouping and labeling and organizing. And I've never been prouder of my home.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Book Club: February

Sorry for the late update, but then again, the book club meeting is sliding over to March 1st. But, for February we're reading Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote. And we'll be watching to movie too, because. Well, because Audrey.

This time I hope to not get ill and overworked around that time, so I actually can post something about the discussion and our thoughts.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Challenges abound

At the start of the new year one thing what's certain is that there's loads of resolutions to make and loads of lists/plans/challenges to help us keep those. Seems like every blog to do with home and organizing and domestic life and living is running a challenge for getting more organized.

Now, there's usually not one that would be perfect to any one person, and for sure none that is perfect for me. Why, you may ask? Well, because most of those are written by and to women with houses and families and usually kids. As a single gal, living in an apartment, without a car or kids or pets, there's several points that don't really fit me.

Making car survival packets to make sure you have everything with you? Organizing all the paperwork that comes from schools/kindergarten for your kids? Emergency info for petsitter? Not really necessary. Cleaning schedule that divides master bedroom to one day and hallways and living room to another? Did I mention I live in a studio apartment?

So yeah, there's loads that doesn't apply. But that doesn't mean there's not enough going on in my life to get me overwhelmed. There's my studies and all related paraphernalia, there's baking, there's remembering to feed myself in some relatively healthy way given that I hate cooking, there's social plans and gatherings, there's book clubs and there's the crafts, especially if I try to get that one special big project off the ground (more about that later)... And I really need to break out of my jeans-and-sweater wardrobe to better reflect the person I am.

With all that, I figured I'd make my own plan or schedule or challenge, whatever you wish to call it. (I'll post my challenge list later, this one has taken some work.) And to help you do the same, I'm gathered up some good challenges found on the Internet below.

31 days to cheaply organize your home
by Organizing Made Fun

8 weeks challenge
by Keeper of the Home

20 days challenge for organizing and cleaning
by The Organized Housewife

21-day challenge, for the second(?) time around
by A Bowl Full of Lemons

Monthly challenge for 2013
by Delightful Order

365 days challenge for getting more organized
by The Happy Housewife

Monday, January 7, 2013

Meals on Monday

One of my few resolutions for this new year was to start eating better. And by better I mean actual food, as opposed to surviving on sandwiches and fish fingers when not dining at school or at mom's. To actually cook food, an activity that has never really held any fascination to me nor have I ever been interested in it (very possible those two are related, I'm fairly often very much turned off by the things I'm not good at).

But yesterday a friend of mine and I started talking about resolutions and time management and organization and such, and turned out she had made a similar resolution.

So we came up with a plan. We're going to start cheering each other on on this Cooking Quest of ours, and when we've cooked enough meals and eaten properly enough, we're going to take our pretty selves out for a delicious dinner as a reward!

So after some careful meal planning last night, surfing the special offers online and all!, I had come up with a meal plan that would see me till... well, Thursday, actually. That's where I ran out of ideas.

I used this lovely printable found here, by the ever-so-adorable Project Girl, the second one to be exact. After filling in what I needed to get I was ready to target-hit the grocery store.

And despite it taking me forever, because it's a store I rarely go to and therefore couldn't find ANYTHING in there, I game away with everything on my list and very little extras. (The chicken was on sale, and there's my Thursday covered. Ha!)

Today's dinner was a sweet potato soup with a bit of an Asian twist, with some freshly baked ciapatta bread. It was soooo good! And took literally 15 minutes to make!

The recipe (in Finnish) is from Pirkka.
I think I'll like this food challenge thing...

photo credit: Ian McKenzie via photopin cc

Friday, January 4, 2013

Book Club: January

For January my book club is reading The Beautiful and Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald. We're meeting up on Friday 25th, so I'll be posting about the book on Saturday the 26th. If you've read the book, or want to join in on our book club virtually, I'd love to hear what you think!