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Simplify

Minimalism

10 Minimalist Gift Ideas to Add Value to Your Life, Not Stuff!

With the gift-giving season fast approaching it’s the perfect time to rethink our normal gift-giving practices and adopt new ones. Gifts can help us to show how much we care for a loved one but they don’t have to be things in order to add value to their lives! Even with the best intentions, buying stuff can cause friends and family long-term clutter problems.

There is the guilt associated with receiving an unwanted gift that we have no use for. The worry of where to store or display another gift, that may have been extremely thoughtful but you know that space is severely lacking in your home. There is also the stress associated with buying a large amount of gifts with a limited budget. Not to mention the inner struggle of trying to guess what someone else might need or like when most people probably have everything that they need.

Sometimes the best gifts are not things at all and are just as valuable and useful to us. A donation of time to a family member in need, covering an expense that adds value to our lives or gifting an experience can provide a truly memorable gift that will be remembered long after that new set of tea towels you didn’t even need are forgotten.

If you are looking to simplify your life and holiday gift preparation consider giving a minimalist inspired gift. Here are 10 Minimalist Gift Ideas to add Value to your Life, Not Stuff for your loved one that will hopefully bring a smile to their faces and add value and joy, not more clutter to their lives.

1.  A Gift Card for a consumable
Is there something they need or love? Consider a gift card for a consumable such as a subscription service they love. Examples are Audible, Kindle Unlimited, Netflix, Spotify etc. They can read or listen to their favourite book or have a month of movies and TV shows on you!

2.  A movie gift box.
Let them enjoy a night in or out on you. Include a Netflix gift card or tickets to their local cinema, popcorn, drinks and snacks. Check out this movie gift box for some inspiration.

3.  An experience gift.
Such as ticket to the zoo, aquarium or the observatory. Other options are tickets to a show, game, or to see their favourite band.

4. Offer your time or skills.
Does someone you love need a babysitter, help with doing jobs around the house, someone to teach them to cook? Or simply offer to take them someone special. Sometimes donated time can be the greatest and most helpful gift.

5. Get artsy or crafty.
Put your creative talents to good use. If you are a sewer, writer, singer, painter, photographer, give a personal creative gift to someone special.

6. DIY beauty products.
Unleash your inner beautician with some Pinterest recipes of beauty products for lip balm, bath bombs, facial or hair masks. Some great ones are Vanilla Brown Sugar Body Scrub and DIY Home Made Soap Jellies.

7. Give the gift of food!
Everyone loves dessert, you can’t go wrong with this one! Some ideas are an ice cream box with different ice cream toppings and sauces, a waffle box, home made-brownies or cookies.

8. Their favourite beverage.
Let’s not forget the drink lovers. Cater to your loved ones preference whether that be wine, beer, spirits, cocktails, tea, coffee or hot chocolate!

9. Contribute to their upcoming holiday.
If your friend or family member has plans to go on a holidays in the not to distant future consider giving them money towards their trip to help them saving up for it. Alternatively ask them if there is a tour or attraction they wanted to do on their trip that you could gift them.

10. The gift of no gift giving obligation
Sometimes the best gift of all is simply saying to your family or friends not to worry about a gift. Gifts involve, planning, shopping, wrapping, carting them around on the day not to mention the cost of buying them. Save your loved one the stress associated with hitting the shops, finding a parking spot and managing the chaotic crowds at this busy enough time of year and give them the gift of freedom. Freedom from any obligation to buy you a gift so they can invest their time and money in something more valuable to them. Agree to forgo gifts and just enjoy each others company!

What are your minimalist gift ideas? Have you made any new family traditions around gift giving? Do you and your friends say no to gifts or have you found more creative ways to give at Christmas and other special occasions. Please share your ideas to simplify in the comments below!

 >>Heading off this Christmas season? Check out these 16 Easy Tips To Pack Minimally for Your Next Trip!
Cleaning

6 Laundry Hacks to Save You Time

Are you wanting some tips on how to speed up the laundry process in your home and get some of your time back? Check out this 6 Laundry Hacks to Save You Time. Photo: Andy Fitzsimon

As a full-time worker and blogger, with a busy social life you can imagine how much time I have left for chores like laundry. Not much. And frankly there are a million other things I would rather be doing with my time than washing! I have made it a goal of mine to get my weekly laundry done as quickly and efficiently as possible over the years. The less I spend washing, folding and the like the more time I have for more important things.

Here are 6 Laundry Hacks to Save You Time that I have implemented in my household in order to simplify our weekly washing routine and claw back hours of our lives.

  1. Sort your laundry with separate hampers.

Purchasing a multiple compartment hamper on wheels has been the greatest $30 I have possible ever spent. I used to dread coming home on a Friday night to start my weekend off with a pile of laundry to sort and disliked lugging the heavy baskets across the house even more. I realised how silly it was to spend precious minutes sorting something when it would be so much easier to just sort our clothing from the get go. 

I purchased a three compartment laundry hamper (I got mine from Kmart but as they no longer stock them check out this hamper for an idea. Anything similar will do. We use ours for two separate dark loads (we wear a lot of black :P) and the one in the middle is for whites. This is kept in our bathroom, keep yours where your family gets dressed most frequently.

As we only have two in our household the three compartments are plenty for us. If you have 3 or more in your household, having a hamper or twin compartment hamper for lights and darks in each bedroom can work just as well. Simply coach your family on what to put in what compartment of the hamper, add signs to the baskets if necessary, and soon enough you’ll have your whole family sorting their own laundry! 

Wasting 15 or more minutes each weekend sorting through our clothes baskets is now a thing of the past. I simply grab one of the bags which is already sorted into darks, whites or towels, put its contents into the washing machine and return the empty bag to the hamper rack. If you don’t want to lug the hamper around you can just roll it to where ever you need. Seriously the best organisational tool in our home!

2. Downsize your wardrobe.

By having a large, overflowing wardrobe you can guarantee you will have a substantial amount of washing to do. This usually means you (or your family that doesn’t have to do the laundry) will end up wearing a significant number of clothes before you get around to your washing pile. Of course by then your laundry pile will most likely be a mountain high.

If you are not one to wash and fold regularly, that pile is going to get out of hand, fast! If you limit your wardrobe to a reasonable number of clothes, you can have a direct reduction in your laundry.  Since implementing my own capsule wardrobe I have found it much easier to stay on top of washing. Check out How to build a Capsule Wardrobe: A Beginners Guide for ideas on how you can reduce your wardrobe. When you have less to wear you have less to wash and can go back to having more free time and less time spend in the laundry!

3. Think ahead with your washing to reduce the need for ironing

Have I mentioned I hate ironing and avoid it at all costs? Seriously  – who has time for ironing? If I had to fit ironing into my schedule I would probably start binning a lot of clothes fast! Due to my lack of joy for this task I have found ways to work around it. My tricks are these:

  • Where possible avoid buying clothes that need ironing. I’ve been doing this for years and don’t miss my buttoned blouses that never seemed to get worn because I never seemed to have the time to iron them regularly. I am lucky that I work in an office with a smart casual clothing policy and we are free to wear more casual clothes like office polos. If your workplace is more strict, this won’t work for you but wherever possible, if you can get away with not wearing business shirts and the like this will cut your laundry time down.
  • Hang your clothes out on the line or a coat hanger as soon as the wash load or dryer is finished to help reduce any clothes from getting wrinkled whilst sitting there.
  • When you take your clothes off the line, ask yourself am I going to put these away right now or are they going to sit around for the next days or so until I can get to them? If you can’t do them straight away no biggie, this is my trick. I put all the socks and underwear in first along with PJs. Anything that can get wrinkled without it being a big deal. Then with the other clothing items like shirts and pants I loosely fold them so they lay in the basket neatly, rather than screwed up slowly getting to the point of needing ironing. The folding takes a second or two per item and saves you having to iron them. 
  • If you are really stuck or in a rush to get something ironed, chucking your clothes in the dryer for 10 or so minutes can help remove any wrinkles in your clothes. Leaving your clothes in a bathroom with stream can also help remove wrinkles. 

For those items that do need to be ironed at least you have managed to reduce the time you will need to spend ironing them and other items by carrying out the above. Hopefully this will help reduce the final pile!

>>You may also like 12 Simple Bedroom Organisation Tips for tips on how to Keep your bedroom tidy without much effort.

4. Identify your clean, dirty and re-wearable clothing.

Identify an area in your home for each family member to store worn but re-wearable clothing. Pants and jackets and other outerwear can be worn more than once if they are clean. Allocate a spare drawer to these items in each bedroom or a hook in the bathroom. Even laying them out on a chair can do the trick.

This will help reduce your laundry load as you will now know what you can wear again and reduce washing clothing that can be re-worn. This is particularly handy for kids that like to change their clothes multiple times a day and create excess washing for you. It’s an easy way to keep the clean, re-wearable clothing items from getting mixed in the hamper with the dirty items. Check out this amusing blog from Melanie Dale on Rules for Re-Wearing Clothes.

Don’t forget the towels! Whilst you are there request that they each hang up their towel after use to dry so they can reuse it. You don’t need to use a fresh towel every time you shower. This could help half the number of towels you are washing each week.

5. Ask for help and Delegate.

Get your family to help with washing with age appropriate chores. Kids from age 3 can do small tasks to help with laundry. Make sure everyone at least is putting their dirty clothes in the correct washing hamper compartment. On wash day they can carry their basket to the laundry as well as folding and putting away clothes. If your kids are tall enough or you’ve got an adjustable clothes line they can also help hang out clothes and take them off the line. Get your partner and kids to help out on a regular basis. If they don’t know how to do the laundry, or how they can help, take the time to explain the process to them. Give them a few weeks and soon enough you’ll have a lot more help and a lot less time trying to keep up with a households laundry needs on your own.  So many parents wait until kids move out of home to teach them basic skills that should be esta

6. Do washing loads by person.

Consider washing a load for each person rather than mixing the washing all together only to have to work out when folding what socks and the like belong to whom. The less time spent sorting and matching the quicker you can get back to more important tasks. Washing one full load of one kids clothing means that they, if they are old enough, can then be responsible for folding or putting away their own items. To make this easier, use a laundry bag to keep socks together and help avoid the mysterious lost sock dilemma. If there is not enough for a full load for one family members washing, add two together and use the laundry bags to separate the socks and undies to avoid sorting confusion when it comes to folding them. 

What laundry tips to you have to save time in your home? Please comment below with your hacks 🙂

 

Cleaning

My Favourite Home-Made Cleaning Recipes

Jessica Skene

About a year ago I watched a documentary on Netflix called The Human Experiment which opened my eyes up to the dangers of having so many chemicals in our homes. I’d been dealing with the frustration of sensitive skin for years meaning I had to be careful of what my skin came in contact with, even dish soap and hand wash would make me break out in an extremely uncomfortable Dermatitis rash. I soon became very passionate about finding ways to keep my home clean, whilst looking after my health and skin and was on a mission to learn about natural home cleaners and testing them out.

After much research and trial and error I came a cross a few staple home-made cleaning recipes that I use regularly.

Here is a list of My Favourite Home-Made Cleaning Recipes. They work just as good in my experience as brand name chemical cleaners and are not only more affordable, but safer to use in your home. Please see my blog on 10 Benefits of Home-Made Cleaning Products for ten reasons why I recommend making the switch.

INGREDIENTS LISTS

These are the basic must have items for your home-made cleaner recipes:

  • White vinegar
  • Dishwashing Liquid (I use Palmolive Dishwashing Liquid Ultra Dry Skin Aloe for sensitive skin)
  • Bi-Carbonate Soda
  • Essential Oils (Tea-tree and Lavender oil preferably)
  • Rubbing Alcohol
  • Water
  • Spray bottles
  • Labels (use a label maker or stick on labels)

Don’t forget to label all your spray bottles as when you come back in a week you will probably have no idea what is in what bottle. It’s really worth it to save you  figuring out what is in what bottle and having to waste your cleaning products.

These are 9 of my favourite home-made cleaning recipes!

Home-made All Purpose Spray (Two versions)

I have two recipes that both work wonderfully. Sometimes if I am in a rush I will make the simpler version and if I have more time I will go with the second version.

All Purpose Spray (Simple Version)

Fill a spray bottle with warm water and add one teaspoon of dishwashing liquid. That’s it! This should be gentle enough to use on most surfaces and is a cleaner I use for all around the home. I would use the Version 2 cleaner for more stubborn stains unless you have stone bench tops. Please check the care guide for your bench tops before using any cleaning products as vinegar can damage stone and other surfaces.

All Purpose Spray (Version 2)

In a spray bottle preferably over a sink (the bottle can overflow with the bi-carb soda and vinegar reacting) put the following

  • 4 Tbsp of white vinegar
  • 1/2 Tsp of dish washing liquid
  • 2 Tsp of bi-carb soda
  • Fill the rest of the spray bottle with warm water.

Spray the solution on your stained surfaces and let sit for about 20 seconds to help break up any hard to move stains. If you are using the bottle when the cleaner is back to room temperature, throw the bottle in the microwave for about 10 seconds and this will help remove harder to move stains. This solution is what I use for everyday All-Purpose Cleaner, just refill when you are out.

As mentioned above please check whether vinegar can be used on your bench tops as some stone benches can be damaged by vinegar.

Linen Spray

This is a spray to help keep your sheet smelling amazing between washes.

Fill a small plastic spray bottle (I use the ones in those travel container packs) with:

  • I cup of distilled water
  • 5-10 drops of essential oils
  • 2 Tbsp of rubbing alcohol

Use this to spray before sleep to spray your bed linens. Lavender essential oils can provide a calming scent but feel free to choose whatever scent you prefer.

Glass Cleaner

Fill a spray bottle with

  • ½ Water
  • ½ White Vinegar
  • Spray Bottle

Since starting to use this glass cleaner I have never looked back or thought to buy a regular store bought version. Just make up as described above in a matter of seconds and spray contents of glass cleaner on mirrors or windows and wipe over with a microfiber cloth. You’ll have beautiful, streak-free mirrors and windows in no time. Leave a bottle of this in your bathroom and a microfiber cloth to clean as you go.

Shower/Tile Cleaner

Fill a spray bottle with

  • ⅓ vinegar
  • ⅓ dishwashing liquid
  • ⅓ water

This is great for cleaning showers and tiles with a brush or sponge. Another option is to fill a refillable dish washing brush with a mixture of ½ vinegar and ½ dish washing soap to scrub all over the shower with. The vinegar smell will dissipate soon after and dish washing liquid will give you a nice scent over the harsh scents most chemical cleaners provide.

Daily Shower Spray (same ingredients as glass cleaner)

  • Spray bottle
  • ½ water
  • ½ vinegar

I leave a bottle of this in our shower to spray down the shower after each use (well, as often as I can remember to ;)). Spray down the tiles and shower glass and floor if it is the last shower of the morning or night (or last for a while). The vinegar helps to break down soap scum and fights the growth of mould so will make your weekly shower scrub a breeze! Remind your partner or room mates or whoever uses the shower to give it a quick spray over when they step out, it only takes 20 seconds and will save whoever is stuck cleaning it a lot of elbow grease!

As mould loves moisture, another tip from Clean My Space’s Melissa Maker to avoid your bathroom being taken over by it is to squeegee or wipe down the shower screens or tiles with a cloth after each shower. This is a bit more time consuming than the after shower spray but is a massive help if you can manage it.  

Toilet Bowl Cleaner

  • Spray bottle
  • Fill with vinegar
  • Add 10-15 drops of essential oils
  • Shake before each use

Combine vinegar and essential oils in a spray bottle. Spray vinegar mixture inside bowl and around toilet. Allow to sit for a few minutes. Sprinkle baking soda inside toilet bowl and scrub inside of bowl with a toilet brush. The Bi-carb soda gives a bit of abrasion to remove any hard to remove stains.

You can use the all over purpose cleaner (Version 1) or the above recipe spray to clean the outside and seat of the toilet. 

Disinfectant Spray (Non-scented)

  • Spray bottle (you can use one of the small travel spray bottles mentioned above)
  • ½ water
  • ½ rubbing alcohol

A great spray for disinfecting surface around the home such as bench tops, door handles or cupboard handles and for cleaning your toilet brush.

Disinfectant Spray (Scented)

  • 3 cups of water
  • ½ cup white vinegar
  • Tea-tree or Lavender essential oils (10-15 drops or a blend of each)
  • Spray bottle

For those who love a nice smelling home this second disinfectant spray not only leaves your home free of germs, but with a lovely calming scent. Tea-tree and lavender essential oils can be used for their antibacterial properties or blended with other favourite scents you have.  

Do you have a favourite home-made cleaning recipe? Please comment below with anything that you love to use in your home.

Minimalism

101 Things to Declutter in Your Home Right Now!

It can be hard to know where to start when decluttering. There are so many rooms and areas you could begin with and it can seem overwhelming when starting out. When we are so focused on bringing new things into our home we can forget the importance of removing the items that are no longer useful to us and could be taking up valuable space in our home.

Do you open your kitchen utensil drawer only to become flustered trying to find the one thing you actually need? Have you accumulated twenty mugs in the cups cupboard and seem to forever have endless ones to wash? Is your linen closet overflowing so closing it is a struggle and you often end up shoving the clean stuff in closing the door and just think to yourself I will deal with this later? Downsizing our excess stuff can allow us to reduce stress in our lives and make some of our chores less bothersome. We are limited to the space we have in our homes so if your cupboards and shelves are overflowing with stuff if might be time to start clearing some of it out.

Here is a list of 101 things to declutter in your home right now that will give you a place to start your decluttering journey by area and hopefully a new leaf to a less cluttered, more simplified life.

Kitchen
1. Duplicate utensils.
2. Excess kitchen knives
3. Excess cleaning supplies. Use up what you have before buying any new ones.
4. Cutlery. Limit it to a reasonable number for your regular needs.
5. Plates. How many plates do you need? Limit to 2 per person per type as a guide.
6. Cups and mugs. Empty out that cupboard filled with overflowing cups piled on top of each other and only keep your favourites.
7. Bake-ware. Ask yourself how often do you bake and if you really need everything you have.
8. Single purpose appliances such as doughnut makers, popcorn makers etc. Keep only the items you use regularly.
9. Restaurant menus. These can all be located online put them into the recycling.
10. Excess vases.
11. Pots and Pans.
12. Tupperware with missing lids.
13. Expired medicine.
14. Unwanted cookbooks.

Fridge/Freezer 
15. Expired condiments in your fridge.
16. Uneaten leftovers.
17. Unwanted drinks.
18. Frozen meats with freezer burn.
19. Food that you don’t plan on eating due to change of diet etc.

Pantry
20. Expired food in your pantry.
21. Unwanted alcohol.
22. Expired spices or any you don’t use.
23. Any food you don’t plan on eating.

Bathroom
24. Shampoos and conditioners. Avoid buying seperate ones for each person unless necessary. Try and stick to the same brand so you don’t end up with multiple bottles going unused cluttering up your cupboard.
25. Old or unused Makeup. What makeup do you currently use, is there something you haven’t touched in the past year? Do you have ten different eye shadow pallets when a few would be enough? Make up has a limited shelf life and should be used up in 1-2 years for most products. See this link for details on expiration dates of makeup.
26. Beauty products. Limit beauty products to what you need and avoid buying more until you’ve used up what you have.
27. Lotions and leave in conditioners. If you don’t plan to use it give it to someone who will or bin it.
28. Decor. Remove excess decor from the bathroom and counter tops. The less you have the less you have to move when cleaning. Have a few nice decorative pieces and clear the rest.
29. Hair accessories keep only what your use regularly.
30. Old razors.

Manchester 
31. Towels, face washers and hand towels – Keep two towels per person for your home. Hang it up after use and wash the ones in the hamper regularly. Think of the time you’ll save on laundry when you only have 8 towels instead of 16?! These can be donated to animal shelters.
32. Quilt covers. How many quilt covers do you have? Assess what ones you still love and donate the rest. Ideally you need one to use and one spare for when the other one is in the wash.
33. Blankets. Limit blankets to two sets per bed.
34. Pillows. Keep the number of pillows required for your bed and bin the rest.
35. Bath mats. I’m certainly one that finds it hard to resist the allure of a new soft bath mat. Stick to 2-3 on rotation and donate the others to an animal shelter.
36. Spare curtains that are no longer in fashion or have been sitting in the linen closet for years.

Bedroom
37. Perfumes or fragrances you don’t like. Old unwanted perfumes or colognes can be binned or donated to friends or family. I’ve sold a few on eBay as well so that’s always an option to make some extra cash.
38. Bedroom decor you no longer love.
39. The stuff under your bed. It is a lot easier to clean your bedroom when there is nothing under the bed.
40. The bedroom TV. Do you really need that eyesore in your bedroom sanctuary?
41. Books on your night stand that you aren’t currently reading. Keep one or two on your bedside table and put the rest back on the bookshelf.
42. Anything that doesn’t belong in your bedroom (for us more often than not it’s guitars :p).

Wardrobe
43. Shoes that you don’t enjoy wearing.
44. Worn belts.
45. Ties that you no longer like.
46. Handbags that are no longer your style or worn.
47. Jewellery/Accessories that you no longer like or wear.
48. Clothing that you haven’t worn in the past 6-12 months. Use the backwards hanger method to establish what you do and don’t wear.
49. Socks that are missing a pair or have holes in them.
50. Underwear that is uncomfortable or has seen better days.
51. Old pyjamas that have had their time.

Laundry
52. Reduce your wardrobe. This will mean you reduce your washing by default and limit the laundry piles to manageable amounts.
53. Excess laundry baskets or hampers (once your laundry is reduced).
54. That random stuff that you find in pockets. Have a catch all container or box to collate items found in pockets. Empty this regularly.
55. Cleaning supplies you no longer need.
56. Laundry products you tried and didn’t use again.

Kids play rooms/bedrooms
57. Books. Donate unwanted books to schools, childcare centers or the library.
58. Unwanted Toys. Sell toys in good condition on eBay or donate to local charities.
59. Stuffed Animals.
60. Games or puzzles with missing pieces.
61. Kids art. To make room for new artworks to be displayed scan the image or take a photo of it and create into scrapbooks or store them digitally.
62. Old unwanted electronic games.
63. Dried out texters and pens.

Garage/Shed 
64. Old paint cans or other chemicals you no longer need.
65. Car oil or parts for cars you no longer have.
66. Cardboard boxes that have past their warranty period.
67. Any broken gardening tools that you haven’t got around to fixing.
68. Old tiles if you are renovating and no longer need them.
69. Scrap building supplies you won’t need.

Living Areas 
70. Excess decor cluttering up your living spaces.
71. Excess furniture that is being unused.
72. Extra lounges when they are mostly empty.
73. Artwork or photos you no longer love.
74. Excess or drab cushions.
75. Rugs that don’t go with your colour scheme.
76. Excessive photo frames. Keep a few on display but don’t go overboard.

Entertainment/Media 
77. CD’s you no longer listen to.
78. DVD’s you won’t watch again.
79. VHS’s.
80. Excess TVs.
81. Unused Gaming Consoles.
82. Games you haven’t played since finishing.
83. Old mobile phones and phone chargers. These can be dropped off at local library or Mobile Muster collection points. See this link for your local recycling options.
84. Old cameras.
85. Your DVD or VCR if you don’t use them.
86. Old laptops you no longer use.

Sentimental Items 
87. Old cards. Scan them and save them digitally.
88. Bad quality or blurry photos or people that you no longer want in your life.
89. Other photos taking up space in large bulky photo albums. Consider making your prints into a photo book or displaying them in a digital photo frame and backing them up digitally.
90. Sentimental items that you have no connection to. Take a photo of the item if that makes it easier to let go.
91. Jewellery you don’t love. Find someone in your family who will love it or get is melted down into something special.

Home Office/Paper
92. Books you no longer read or reference.
93. Magazines. Cut out what you need and put them in a folder and recycle the rest.
94. Old bank or credit card statements. These can all be accessed online.
95. Utility bills. Get these emailed to you and reduce some of the paper coming into your home each month.
96. Old receipts. Scan them as they come in on your phone and recycle them or keep them in one file.
97. Excess notebooks/pads. Keep a few or put them in areas where they will be useful like your handbag or car.
98. Stationery from your uni days that you no longer need.
99. Your printer (if you don’t use it).
100. Excess pens. Test what works and bin the rest or any you don’t like using.
101. Manuals for electrical goods.

What things have your decluttered in your home? Please leave a comment below!