Tag Archives: organise

Wish me luck

Yesterday I worked my way, only semi-methodically, through tidying.  I was tidying the usual house clutter, but also tidying paperwork and finding homes for the stuff that has been left, washed up like flotsam and jetsam by recent house renovations, all the while being mindful of two very young cats that are extremely bored and therefore into and onto everything.  In all honesty it’s overwhelming and it’s too easy when a task seems so monumental to drift hither and thither actually achieving very little at all.

Today I’m trying a different tactic.  I’m following perceived wisdom and tackling one area, sticking with it and not being distracted (even by cats).  I’ve chosen my target and I’m going in now.  Wish me luck.  I may be gone some time.

Pelican FlightPelican at dusk, Naples, Florida



Filed under Home, Photography

Travel – the return

Happy travels!When you return home after a holiday, try to pack all your dirty laundry on top of everything else. This has two advantages:

When unpacking you can put all the dirty clothes straight into the laundry basket, ultimately making the process of unpacking quicker and easier.

If unscrupulous baggage handlers should fancy a rummage through your possessions, they will have to work their way through your dirty laundry first.  It might just put them off!

If you’ve bought delicate souvenirs, use your ‘smalls’ (knickers, socks etc.) as protective wadding packed around them to protect against breakage.

Roll bags can provide vital extra space in your bag – but remember, they won’t alter the weight of your luggage so don’t use them simply to cram more into your case and then be surprised when you’re charged for excess baggage!

If you prepared a travel list and brought a copy with you, use it.  It’s way too easy to leave small but important items in the chaos of a cramped and dishevelled hotel room.

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Filed under General house tips, Uncategorized

My own advice

Feeling good!An impending trip away has been the cataylst for some major tidying up around here.  I like to come home to a clean house so I always do a round of cleaning and tidying before a stint away, but this time I’ve managed to achieve something that has been staring me in the face – and irritating me – for ages.  My little office area has finally been organised.  On two sides of me are deep bookshelves, crammed, often two deep, on a number of different subjects.  There isn’t any spare space so as new books were bought at birthdays and Christmas they have tended to be slotted in wherever there was a millimetre to spare.  Equally, seeing the chaos, if someone has borrowed a book then it is simply put back afterwards ‘wherever’.  

Well not any more!  Following my own advice I’ve had a sort through, a tidy up and a pruning session.  Our hospice shop will benefit because they’re getting some beautiful books that I no longer have the space for.  I benefit because I finally know where everything is.  Books are at long last grouped together, side by side on the shelves: art, design, gardening, photography and my now quite large collection of cookery books (I only read the other day that there are collectors of cook books – I’ve clearly unwittingly become one over the years, judging by the number I have).  I’m chuffed to bits – could you tell?


As I sit typing this it’s 6.00 a.m., pitch black outside…and one of the light bulbs above my head has gone pop, plunging the whole house into darkness.  Ideally I should go to the garage to flip the circuit breaker, but that would entail going back into the bedroom to get my torch, which would almost certainly wake my husband.  I’d then have to go through the utility room to the garage, and I just know my cats would come thundering in like The Dambusters and start tussling outside the bedroom door (as they are wont to do)…almost certainly waking my husband.  Instead I’m sitting in the blackness, peering at the keyboard, which is illuminated only by the light of my computer monitor.  See how I suffer for my art!?  See how considerate I am of my husband’s slumber!? 

Actually, the reason I mention all this is: why oh why does the circuit breaker flip when a bulb goes pop?  I never remember this happening in the old days…when I were a gerl.


GentleVoiceToday at Gentle Voice: Advice we might all appreciate, especially tomorrow and in the coming month, and that is how to ‘repair’ food that you have over-salted.


Filed under Cookery, Home, modern life

Christmas Countdown, 5

Christmas giftsBy now you will hopefully have started to clear away a lot of the junk you’ve collected throughout the year, have a good idea of what ingredients you have in the kitchen cupboards and what you may need to buy. If you use a traditional butchers’ shop, you have also ordered your turkey plus any other meats for Christmas.   

Stick with the seasonal tidying / clearing out and now is a good time to start buying non-perishable goods for the holiday – party nibbles like tins of nuts, alcohol, selection tins of biscuits etc.  Again, spreading the cost of these extras over a few weeks is less painful than buying it all in one fell swoop.

Wrap Christmas presents as you buy them.

I’m not going to be giving a separate reminder to post your Christmas cards but please bear in mind that the last posting date for friends and family in far flung places may be coming fairly soon.  If you’re in the UK, for example, bear in mind that Friday of next week (5th December) is the last day for air mail to Australia and New Zealand.  In other words, it may be sooner than you realised!

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Filed under Christmas Countdown, General house tips, Housework Tips

When in doubt, write it down

I forgotIf you’re anything like me you have a terrible memory memory when it comes to remembering what gifts you’ve given friends and family.  I was once at a friend’s house and admired a glass paperweight on their coffee table.  My friend thought I was joking because, as she reminded me, I was the one who had given her the paperweight in the first place!

Why not make a note of what you gave to who, and if you tend to carry a small notebook with you perhaps assign a page to each person?  Whenever new gift ideas come to you, write them down.  With a list readily to hand you will never risk buying the same, or a similar item twice.  You can also buy gifts at times that are more convenient to you, for instance at times like seasonal sales, avoiding the panic of the ‘Christmas scrum’.

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Filed under Christmas Countdown, Get organised

Christmas Countdown, 3

  • With any luck you’ll have your Christmas cards by now.  If you have them, or just as soon as you can get your mitts on them, start writing.  Starting them early means that you can do them in small doses, and so any you feel you want to put personal notes in can be given the extra time they deserve.  When you’ve done them all, go the extra mile and get stamps for them all.  Then all you have left to do is to stick them in the post box as and when you are ready.
  • How’s it going with family Wish Lists?  If you’ve spotted good presents to buy, start purchasing before the Christmas scrum begins.  At this time of year spreading the spending on both gifts and food items over several weeks makes managing money a little easier.

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Christmas is looming ever larger on the horizon.  It’s traditional for me to go into meltdown during December because, being the perfectionist that I am, I would like everything to be ‘just so’, but I already know that I simply cannot reach my own impossibly high standards (Monica Geller move over).   

A few years ago I realised what I should have guessed long ago, i.e. preparation is the key to, if not a perfect Christmas, at least a relatively stress free Christmas.  If you recognise yourself in my description above, you might want to do yourself a favour this year and follow my Christmas Countdown.  Exact timing is not essential – this is not boot camp – but my prompts in the coming weeks are just that:  prompts.  Stick with me and we’ll get through this together ….smiling.

All that being said, where are we today? 

Start thinking about Christmas cards. 

This first prompt is for total homemaking novices: Do you have a Christmas card list?  If not, make one – showing names and up-to-date addresses.  It will obviously include family, friends and (wrack your brains here) anyone who sent to you unexpectedly last year.  This list is gold dust.  Keep it year on year, updating at the end of each year and it will save you hours of time.  It tells you, at a glance, how many cards you need to order / buy, and you know that no one will be forgotten. 

I’ve bought my cards (and Christmas wrapping paper) from favourite charities for years now.  Charity cards used to be a bit ify in quality – not any more.   If you order now you should have them by mid November at the latest.  (Bear in mind that, certainly here in the UK, some overseas ‘guarateed’ posting dates are as early as the end of November/start of December).  The following are just a suggestion of charities that have some nice cards available, but there are loads of worthy causes to choose from:  Save the Children (UK), RSPCA (UK), RNLI (UK), Cancer Research (UK)

Finally, if you’re happy to give family and friends something from a ‘wish list’ as opposed to a surprise present you have picked out, try and prompt them to start thinking about what they’d like, maybe give you a few pointers or begin compiling a wish list.


Christmas is coming
Christmas is coming


Filed under Christmas Countdown