Thursday, 12 December 2013

HOW TO :: Cut the Christmas card clutter

Last month on Facebook I shared a guest post that I wrote for Mamas Group on rethinking our approach to Christmas - rethinking gift-giving, rethinking gift-wrapping, and rethinking preparations (read it here). There is one more thing we can rethink - a big contributor to general Christmas clutter - the ubiquitous Christmas card!

Now that my little man has started school, we have received waaaay more cards this year than previous years, and like most people I know, we do not have infinite surface area to display them all. So using one of my top 5 tips which I shared last week - namely using your vertical surfaces to free up space on horizontal surfaces - today I am sharing a little trick to display all your cards without taking up any space.

Vertical display of Christmas cards

For my display I have used clear fishing line attached to a Christmas decoration, which I have attached to the wall with blu-tack (you can also use the 3M Command picture hanging strips which will be able to hold more weight), and pretty green paper clips to attach the cards. This means I can hang all my cards up without having to stick every one of them on to the wall directly (which helps prevent damage or dirty marks on the wall). We have high ceilings and so I currently just have one vertical line of hanging cards.

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I love the 'invisible' effect of the fishing line, but you can do the same thing using twine or ribbon. If you have a lot of cards you can also get creative with the way you hang them, having one vertical line per family member, or zig-zagging the line into a Christmas tree shape.

I have also experimented with stringing the cards up horizontally as a sort of bunting which can look really lovely above a fireplace or next to the dining table. You can use paper clips or small fold-back clips in festive colours. Pop a little Christmas decoration over each end of the 'bunting' to add a bit of charm and hide the attachment to the wall.

hang christmas cards, how christmas cards, card display

I am sure there are many more clutter-free ways to display Christmas cards and I would love to hear about them. Please feel free to share your tips in the comments below! Thanks :)

Friday, 6 December 2013

My Top 5 Tips for Effective Storage

So many of my clients have an issue with storage, and more specifically knowing how to use it efficiently, so today I'll be sharing some basic principals for maximising the usefulness and accessibility of storage spaces - whether you have plenty of them or hardly any.
(If your problem is having too much stuff to fit into your storage space - then tune in next month for my top tips on decluttering!)

Top 5 Tips for Effective Storage

1. Don't store what you don't need to. Often it is more a case of having too much stuff than not enough storage space. Time to declutter! (more help on this topic in the new year)

2. Categorise your items in terms of how often you need to access them, then store them accordingly.

  • Primary storage is for items you need easy access to on a regular basis - this is space (shelves, drawers etc) which is ideally between knee and eye level, or within easy arm's reach when sitting.
  • Secondary storage is for items you need to access occasionally - top and bottom shelves, the back of deep cupboards, under-bed storage etc.
  • Tertiary storage is for items which you only need to access infrequently, once a year, or on special occasions (archived tax records, snow gear, or Christmas decorations for example) - in the roof or under-house storage, in the shed or garage, or in an offsite storage unit.

3. Store items vertically to avoid piles and improve accessibility, and use your vertical surfaces to free up space on your horizontal surfaces - use vertical mail sorters, and wall-mounted hooks, rails, hanging shelves or baskets; store baking trays and platters vertically; etc.

4. Use labels for easy reference - a quick glance in the pantry or filing cabinet and you can easily see where to put something away or retrieve something from.

5. "A place for everything and everything it its place" - create designated homes for items and return them there when not in use. Use drawer / shelf dividers to delineate zones with specific functions. This helps avoid things being 'dumped' just anywhere, and helps maintain order.

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This is just the very tip of the storage iceberg, but if you start to implement these tips you will be able to see immediate improvements. Do you have any other tips and tricks for better storage? Feel free to share them in the comments below!

Thursday, 28 November 2013

GUEST POST :: 10 Tips to make plane travel with kids easier

There is no denying that travelling with young kids is... well, "interesting", especially long haul flights! Following on from my post a couple of months ago on being better prepared for family road trips, today I am pleased to bring you 10 great tips from Kim Salter - Personal Travel Manager and accredited Travel with Kidz consultant on being better prepared for plane travel. (You can read more about what Kim does below).
Remember - time spent planning early can save a lot of time problem-solving later, so plan ahead, be prepared, and enjoy the ride!

Planning ahead

  • Make sure your travel insurance is paid and issued when you book your holiday or flights. You’re at higher risk of having to cancel when traveling with babies due to fever, ear infection, stomach bug etc.
  • Consider breaking up your journey on long haul flights. Although this makes the total travel time longer, having a break from the confines of a plane when the journey is longer than 8 hours can be a sanity saver for the whole family.
  • If you are hiring a car at your destination and require a car seat for your child, you can either take yours with you (always confirm the seat will fit the hired vehicle legally and safely), or arrange a car seat with your car hire company.
  • Pre-book any special requirements you may have when traveling with kids - infant/toddler/child meal, bassinet for infants (generally maximum 11 kilos weight), an extra seat to buckle the child’s car seat into (this frees the parents up for meal times and gives the baby/toddler some space, but you will pay a full child rate applicable to the flight), airport assistance (check with your airline/airport what assistance is available).
  • Arrange transport to the airport from your home – ask a friend or family member to drive you, or pre-book a taxi or airport shuttle with a car seat (or you can use your own car seat if you are taking it with you).

Ready for departure

  • Using a baby carrier or sling allows free hands for parents to manage passports, luggage, check-in procedures, and other kids, allowing you to check your stroller in with the rest of your luggage. They are also very handy on board the aircraft to help settle your baby, and allow you to eat with free hands.
  • Ensure you have an adequate supply of nappies, food, medications, and change of clothes for both child and parents. Always pack anything essential in carry-on luggage (anything required at your destination which would be difficult to replace if luggage was lost indefinitely).
  • Don’t forget to take your child’s favourite toy, blanket, comforter or pacifier (and some spares in case).
  • iPads are a great form of entertainment while travelling. Load some games, music and story books for your kids before you leave, and take some comfy headphones.
  • Ear pain may be experienced due to pressure changes, especially during take-off and landing. 'Ear plugs' are available from pharmacies (suitable for most children 1 year and older) which have a filter that regulates air pressure and cuts down noise.

Kim Salter is a Personal Travel Manager, and has recently completed her accreditation with the family holiday experts “Travel with Kidz”. Kim has extensive experience in the travel industry, from being a flight attendant, to managing a travel agency, to being a mobile travel manager, and embarking on long haul international travel with her toddler – she’s been there, done that, and knows how to look after you! Click on the image below for Kim's contact details.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

PRODUCT REVIEW :: School Term Planner

As if the "silly season" is not enough to deal with on its own, we also have to start thinking about planning for the new year which is rapidly approaching. There's next year's school book orders, signing up for January holiday club, enrolling in sports clubs / dance classes for Term 1, and so on. If you have a bunch of different people and activities to keep track of, I can highly recommend the 2Organise School Term Planner.

What is the 2Organise School Term Planner?

As the name suggests, the planner is based around the school terms, with a full term per page so you can plan ahead and see everything at a glance. It is designed with 5 colour-coded blocks so that you can keep track of different family members' activities. We only have 3 people in our family, but I use the extra colours to keep track of my business stuff and my pets. It also works wonderfully for uni students and their different subjects, as well as small businesses planning activities for different team members.

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I used this planner for the first time this year and I must say that I absolutely loved it. Its large format (roughly A2 size) is much more user-friendly (and cheaper!) than some other A4 or even A3 family planners I have tried before. It also includes the term and holiday dates for all the states, so if you are traveling interstate you can plan around the destination's terms, which may be different to yours. I have also given these to a few friends and they have all loved it. A great Christmas present idea too!

For those interested in Healthy Fundraising

The planners can also be sold as a fundraiser (anyone else over the chocolate drive?? yeah!!), so if your school, sports club or charity group is looking for some healthy and practical fund-raising options, please feel free to contact me for further info (see contact details on the right). The fund-raising programme is sooo easy to set up and use - most of it is done for you, you just have to sit back and wait for the cheque! 

Purchasing the planners

The planners are $19.95. If you would like to purchase one (or a few) you can do so here. If you would like to place a large order please contact me. 

Until next week, happy planning!

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

HOW TO :: Get a handle on your handbag

This past Friday I attended a Breast Cancer Fundraising Dinner hosted by the lovely Doan from Little Organics and Gluten Free Wagon. I did a little presentation on being organised with the ladies, and started with a fun game of 'Handbag Bingo' (which isn't really a thing, I just made it up!!). I got a lot of positive feedback about the game - the ladies loved it and it was a fun way to get the message across, so I thought I would share it here so you could join in the fun. (And guys - it works just as well with a laptop bag!)

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Go on - see if you can get bingo! Not only did most of the ladies achieve 4 in a row, but many also ticked nearly all of the boxes. The point of the exercise was to show how quickly little things can build up to form clutter, even in a small space like a handbag.

What is clutter?

My definition of clutter is: anything that does not belong where it currently is; serves no current purpose; adds no value; or is awaiting an overdue decision or action. There are many more than these 16 items which can be found in handbags and fit that description of clutter. A good way to stay on top of it is to empty your bag at the beginning of each month and deal with the contents as needed. Life is way too short to waste time scratching around in your bag when you need something! Keep it clean and clutter-free - it's a small thing which can make a big difference in your daily life.

handbag clutter, cluttered handbag, handbag organising tips

Thursday, 7 November 2013

HOW TO :: Plan the Perfect Party + Giveaway!

This week I am writing a bit of a personal post for a change. We have just had our son's birthday party, which was a huge success - even if I do say so myself! I love doing themed birthday parties for my boy, and of course, I love all the planning and preparing. I am not much of a baker however. My son's birthday is pretty much the only time of the year when I make that much effort in the kitchen! I know planning parties is not everyone's cup of tea, so today I wanted to share some tips with you to help the preparations go a bit smoother.

Start Early

I usually start the initial planning 3 to 4 months before the big day. This is because I have learnt over the years that if you want a specific venue or entertainment option, you need to book way ahead of time.
This also allows you enough time to do your research (see below) and get some of the prep done, so that you are not overwhelmed with tasks in the week leading up to the party (things like printing name cards or activity sheets, putting together the party bags, gathering all the bits and pieces for the decor, and so on).

Research Online

Our good friends Google and Pinterest are great places to start, even if you don't have a specific theme in mind. A bit of searching will inspire you with a vast array of options for themes - just try searching on "party ideas for boys" or "teen girl party ideas" etc. Once you have decided on a theme, you can then find ideas for related activities, decor and food, as well as where to buy all the goodies. This will save you heaps of time as well as money, as you can shop around online for the best options.

Draw up a timeline

Write a list of everything you need to do in terms of preparations, and then group them into time categories like 'On the day', '1 day before', '1 week before', '1 month before', etc. As you think of more things to do, add them to the relevant time categories - this will help you see how much you will be trying to do, and hopefully help you avoid rushing around in a last-minute panic. Do as much as you can as early as you can.

What I did

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My son wanted a racing themed party at Kew Traffic School, so after we managed to get a booking (which was more difficult than I expected) I started researching on Pinterest for food and decor ideas. I then searched online for the supplies I wanted, and had plenty of time to either order online or go to the shops to get it all.
The invitations went out 2 months before the date (I would usually send them around 4 to 5 weeks before the date, but since we could only get a booking on the public holiday I wanted to give people extra time). In the months leading up to the party I slowly gathered all the decor, designed and printed the name tags and party bags, and bought all the non-perishable food and drinks. Two weeks before I filled all the party bags, two days before I bought the rest of the food, which meant the day before the party all I had to do was the baking. On the day I had minimal final food preparation to do, and everything went very smoothly as we were well prepared and got set up at the venue in just 5 minutes.

As Winnie the Pooh says "Organizing is what you do before you do something, so that when you do it, it is not all mixed up". I think that says it all!


If you would like some extra help with planning your child's next birthday party, then how about winning a copy of "The Best-Ever Party Book"? I have one copy to give away, and all you have to do to enter is comment below (by 13 Nov '13) and tell me about your party planning blunders!

party planning, planning kids party, kids party ideas, birthday party ideas

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Going with the flow for organising success

If you have ever tried to set up routines or organising systems in your home, but given up on them shortly after because they just don't work, or feel like waaaay too much hard work, then this post is for you!

Organising Style

I really believe that everyone has their own organising style which is as unique as their personality. What you like to do, how you think, the way you process and store information, your aesthetic style, your priorities - they're all unique to you. This is why I don't think there could ever be a "one size fits all" solution. Many people read books on how to organise, or buy specific organising products, and try to follow "the rules", only to get very frustrated that they can't get it right, and may even end up feeling that they are destined to be disorganised forever. But the problem is not that they just can't get organised - the problem is that the solution was just not right for them.
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Image courtesy of

For example, if you have read about setting up a Home Command Centre (aka launch pad or drop zone) near your front door to help get the kids organised and out the door quicker, but you find everything still ends up piled on the kitchen bench, then having the Home Command Centre at the front door is not the right solution for you.

Go with the flow

Implement systems around the natural flow of things in your home. If your "stuff" always gets dumped on the kitchen bench, then use that flow instead of trying to establish completely different habits - like placing a box for mail on the bench, and hooks on the end of the bench for keys and bags.
Also think about where the sticking points are for you - what are the most frustrating things that happen in your day which make you feel disorganised? Is it always rushing around trying to find your keys? Is it nagging the kids to hurry up because they can't find their school shoes? If you can identify these issues and put solutions in place which address them specifically, and in a place which fits with the natural flow of things, you are going to make a real impact on your organising success.
Would love to hear from you - what are your sticking points?

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Why organising is good for the environment

Last week I had the unexpected pleasure of being invited to speak at the SUSTAIN Show, as another speaker had to pull out at the last minute. The title of my presentation was "Decluttering your way to a healthier home, life, and mind". I believe living an organised life has a direct benefit on our internal environment (body and mind) and external environment (home, work place, and global environment), and today I want to share with you some of what I spoke about at the show – how the old "reduce, reuse, recycle" is the central core to my role as a Professional Organiser, and how you can implement this in your home and life.

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  • Declutter – put items back where they belong, and get rid of stuff that has no current purpose or adds no value
  • Reduce what comes in – say "no" to junk mail, don't accept freebies for the sake of it, and opt for online bank statements and bills
  • Reduce what’s in your schedule and on your "to do" list, which should also reduce your stress
  • Reduce wasted time by establishing morning and evening routines, and have a designated home for the car keys and school bags, which should also reduce your stress
  • Reduce what you buy, and therefore what you spend, by using a meal plan and shopping plan – this will also reduce the food that you waste by only buying what you need when you need it and avoiding food expiring
  • Reduce the number of things you own by streamlining and using multi-functional products (I go through this with my clients when I help them get set up for their baby – rather invest in one item which can multitask and fulfill various functions for a longer period of time, than getting 4 different things). A good example is household cleaning products – you don’t need 15 different bottles of stuff in your cupboard; there are great natural multipurpose cleaners on the market these days, or you can easily make them yourself (again, Pinterest has a wealth of info on this) 


  • Repurpose what you can at home – storage boxes, nappy boxes, clothing, etc. Pinterest has zillions of clever ideas on how to repurpose items around the home. Don't assume you need to go buy more stuff
  • Get involved in collaborative consumption. Check out this fantastic TED talk by Rachel Botsman explaining this rising phenomenon. My favourite quote is “you need the hole, not the drill”. Some of the local collaborative consumption sites here are Open ShedRentiod, and Freecycle.
  • Donate – pass things you no longer need on to family and friends, or donate to charities like St Kilda Mums, Fitted for Work, Men’s Shed, Footpath Library
  • Sell items you no longer need on Ebay, Fishpond, or Gumtree, so that someone else can get use out of it


  • Very little should land in your bin after a decluttering exercise – you should be able to find a way to recycle just about everything (and if you cant – call me and I’ll find it for you!) 
  • There are loads of private companies out there these days who recycle mattresses, e-waste, ink cartridges, mobile phones, CDs and DVDs, XRAY films, you name it! Plus stores like Bunnings, Officeworks, and Ikea have recycling bins for things like batteries, lightbulbs, and mobile phones. Check with your local stores what they can accept
  • At the very least, find out how to dispose of items responsibly, don’t just chuck it in the bin or leave it on the nature strip. Check what programs your local council has, as some have specific e-waste and chemical waste collection days

Coming from an environmental science background, this is obviously all very close to my heart and I can go on about this all day, but I'll restrain myself! As always I would love to hear from you if you have anything to add, or questions to ask. Just comment below!

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

HOW TO :: 10 Week Christmas Countdown

Yes, it's true. Only 10 weeks to Christmas. If running around from one shop to the next with crowds of other frantic people is not your idea of fun, then try this rather...

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Obviously the amount of planning required will depend on how you typically celebrate Christmas - is it a large family feast, or a small low key gathering? Perhaps it's multiple events with different groups of people? In our household we usually have a celebration with friends a week before Christmas, and then with different family groups on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Whatever Christmas looks like for you, planning ahead will avoid last minute rushing and stress, and make it all much easier and more enjoyable.

Step 1 - Write some lists

  • For each event, you'll need a list of potential dates and venues, and a guest list.
  • You'll also need a list of people you want to buy gifts for, and ideas of gifts to buy. (It's also a good idea to keep a list at the back of your diary or on your phone, to note gift ideas as you come across them throughout the year)
  • Write a To Do list for each event. This again will depend on the scale and complexity of your events. Do you need to arrange for extra tables, chairs, and dinnerware? Do you need to plan a theme and source appropriate decorations? Do you need to plan the menu and delegate menu items to other people? Include everything on your list, even the obvious things, as we will use these lists to create a timeline in the next step. For example: Ask Mum if we can have it at her house this year; write the shopping list for the meal, do the grocery shopping; wrap the gifts... etc. Put it all on there!

Step 2 - Draw up a timeline

  • Use a calendar / diary / spreadsheet - whatever works for you - to plot out the 10 weeks you have between now and Christmas. The trick here is to only use one timeline, regardless of how many events you're planning.
  • Using a different colour for each event, start slotting in all the items on your To Do lists into the 10 week schedule. Doing this digitally (on your phone or computer) is an easy way to be able to move things around easily, but if you prefer a paper-based planner, try use different coloured Post-It notes (rather than writing in different coloured pens) to keep things flexible. This allows you to shuffle things around to find a schedule that's going to work, and also allows you to make adjustments if life gets in the way and things don't happen in the week they were supposed to! 
  • Start with the most time-sensitive activities, and then work backwards from there to slot in other things which are dependencies (for example - if you want to have all your grocery shopping done 1 week before, you will need to have your shopping list done 2 weeks before, and your meal plan and delegation done 3 weeks before). 

Here is a simple example of a 10 week countdown:

10 Weeks - Write lists for venues and dates, and discuss with potential hosts. Write guest lists. Start gift ideas list (if not started already).
9 Weeks - Discuss dates, times and venues with guests and finalise.
8 Weeks - Decide on a theme and plan decorations and table setting. Write a list of requirements and delegate to guests.
7 Weeks - Arrange to borrow / hire additional furniture and dinnerware if required.
6 Weeks - Start buying gifts, wrapping paper, gift tags, and cards, as well as decorations if required.
5 Weeks - Check with guests for dietary requirements. Plan the meal and delegate ingredients or full dishes to guests.
4 Weeks - Put up the Christmas tree and decorations. Send Christmas cards via mail. 
3 Weeks - Do non-perishable grocery shopping. Gift-buying should be complete by now.
2 Weeks - Wrap gifts and write cards / gift tags. 
1 Week - Clean the house (and BBQ if required). Do the final grocery shopping.
1 Day - Do as much food prep as possible. Arrange the furniture and set the table.

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Do you have any other fabulous ideas for a smooth running festive season? I would love to hear from you, just comment below!

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

101 Uses for Command Hooks

Being a renter, I have always relied on my trusty 3M hooks and picture mounting strips. But then through the wonders of Pinterest I discovered all sorts of creative ways to use them - from storing pot lids to hanging curtain rods, and everything in between, and subsequently I use them a lot with my clients. (Here is a little Professional Organiser's secret...Ssshhhh don't tell anyone I told you! If you are struggling to keep your horizontal surfaces organised - use your vertical surfaces! Hooks, hangers, wall-mounted hanging organisers, etc - piles can't form on vertical surfaces)

I have started my own Pinterest board to collate my findings, and would love you to contribute if you have any more clever ideas. I have no doubt we can find 101 uses! Please comment below telling me how you use Command Hooks and email me photos if you can - I'll pop them on my Pinterest board (crediting the source of course!!)

Pinterest, command hooks, organising with command hooks, 3M hooks
Visit my Pinterest board

How I use 3M Command Hooks 

Two of my biggest irritations at home... 1. rattling blind cords flapping about in the wind when we leave our doors or windows open, and 2. wet cloths hanging over the tap or left on the side of the sink.
Problem solved!!

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Here are some other ways I have used them in my and my clients' homes:

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The extra large hooks I used to store extension cords also work wonders for hanging large laundry baskets on the wall above the washing machine or laundry trough - great to get them out of the way and stop wasting valuable surface area in the laundry.

So please get commenting - I can't wait to see how you have put these fabulous little things to use!

* Please note this post is not sponsored by or in any way affiliated with 3M - this is purely my opinion and experience.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

How to Detox Your Home in 4 Easy Steps

This week I am thrilled to have Pearl from Resparkle as my first guest post. Enjoy!

Ok so perhaps you've embraced the organic lifestyle, an avid juicer or now a gym bunny, but do you still find yourself struggling with brain fog, sleeplessness or suffer from sensitive skin/sinuses? The culprit could be the quality of indoor air you breathe daily. Yes, indoor air is among the top 5 environmental risks to health according to numerous studies done in the US.

Common health problems that result from exposure to poor indoor air quality include: sensory and skin irritation; neurotoxic symptoms; hypersensitivity and odour and taste symptoms. Long term symptoms such as cancer and respiratory disease may be caused by long term, periodic exposure to chemicals.

While we do not have much direct control over the fumes & pollution we’re exposed to outdoors, we can take control in our homes. In this article, I share 4 easy ways to detox your home so it is a truly healthy sanctuary that you can retreat to after a long day.

(1) Rethink Artificial Air Fresheners/Deodorizers

I’m a scent junky so I totally get that you want your home smelling good but artificial air-fresheners are a toxic cocktail of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). VOCs can cause nausea, headaches and even cancer. Did you know that at the back label of many air-fresheners actually says “Inhaling contents can be harmful or fatal”?? Check out a photo taken from a randomly picked air freshener from Coles:

Instead, scent your home with essential oils. It might be more expensive for that tiny bottle but a little goes such a long way.
Here’s an easy way to keep your toilet smelling great:

(2) Ditch the chemicals starting with the nastiest 

If you’re using chemical-based cleaners around your home, you are exposing yourself to unnecessary poisons. One of the most toxic offenders are bathroom or glass cleaners that often contain chlorine or ammonia. (Did you know mixing chlorine & ammonia was used as a weapon during WW1? Now why would you want that in your home?!)
Ditching chemical-based cleaners is perhaps the most impactful way you can adopt immediately.

A good resource when deciding on what cleaners to use is the EWG website (Environmental Working Group). It has a comprehensive list of cleaning products and rates them according to their impact on our health and environment.

So start switching to natural cleaning products and it is important to make sure the store bought ones are made of 100% natural ingredients. Many “green” brands that position themselves as “natural” often still contain nasty chemicals. You don’t want to be forking out a small fortune only to be still cleaning with toxic chemicals.
Resparkle’s range of organic cleaners are made from 100% natural plant based ingredients and the best part is it does not cost more than most chemical-based ones.

(3) Improve Indoor air & energy with plants

Studies conducted by NASA confirms that, the simplest way to purify and revitalize indoor air was to introduce plants in your home. They absorb toxic chemicals through their tiny openings in their leafs, filter them through their root system and the release pure oxygen into the air.
For example, the Boston fern can remove up to 1.8mg of formaldehyde per hour (a common cancer causing chemical found in furniture and particle board). The Boston fern is also a low pollen plant so if you’re sensitive to pollen, this is the plant to get!

Read more about how plants improve your health and what plants to get here.

(4) Detox your Garden: Don’t use pesticides: Use natural soap!

Yes, soap-based solutions have been used for centuries as all-purpose pesticides. They're nontoxic to the environment and to people — and they work on a wide variety of garden insects by disrupting their cell membranes and causing dehydration.
The key is not to use too much soap, or you'll also kill the vegetation near the pests. Mix 1 to 2 tablespoons liquid soap, such as Dr. Bronner's Pure-Castile Soap (do NOT use detergent) into 1 quart water in a bucket, then transfer to a spray bottle.
If you need to get rid of weeds, just pour hot water or vinegar at the roots. It will wilt and die in no time!

Pearl, founder of Resparkle – Australia’s first & only certified organic cleaning products that truly doesn't cost the earth.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013


I first came across these hangers when I was looking for a solution for one of my clients. Most of you know I strongly believe that every person has a unique organising personality, and one of the most important parts of my job is to help a family full of different personalities find solutions to suit them all. This particular client had a young daughter who thought very differently to the rest of the family, and every attempt the mother made at organising her daughter's cupboard ended the same way - a pile of clothes on the floor and a frustrated young girl, feeling it was easier to find things in a pile than in her cupboard the way her mum had organised it.

I worked with both of them until we found a mutually-agreeable solution, which was to arrange her clothes in outfits. While this was not the most sensible option for the mum, she was more than happy to embrace it knowing that her 7-year old could now manage her wardrobe in a way that made sense to her, which meant no more frustration and no more piles. I then had to find the tools to make this possible - and that's when I found these hook-over hangers.

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What I like about these hangers is that they allow you to see and access both garments individually, while keeping them together in an outfit. If you wanted to access just the skirt for instance, you wouldn't have to reach up under the top or remove it, like you would with many other "outfit hangers" used in clothing stores. It also allows you to turn any regular hangers you have into outfit hangers.

I sent a few to my client to try them out, and they all loved them so much she bought a whole bunch for her other 3 kids too! I also bought some for my son's school uniforms, and they work a treat! It's so easy to see how many days worth of uniforms we have washed and ready to go, and my son can easily grab a pre-assembled combo for the day, or select long pants and a short sleeve shirt if he prefers.

hookover hangers, hook-over hangers, kids hangers, organising kids clothes

And here's the fun bit! I have a pack of 3 hook-over hangers to give away... all you have to do is comment below with your tale of cupboard chaos and why you neeeeed some of these fabulous things :)
If you can't wait, or need way more than 3 to make an impact on your kids' wardrobes, you can buy them in packs of 10 from my website

Get your comments in by next Wednesday 2nd October 2013 - winner will be drawn randomly from all entries, and announced on Thursday 3rd. Good luck!

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

HOW TO :: Avoid post-holiday chaos (and blues!)

Yes I have already done a 'HOW TO' post this month, but I decided to give you two for the price of one as school holidays are almost upon us! This post is actually Part B to my previous post on how to be better prepared for a family road trip, but applies to any kind of travel - business, pleasure, plane, train or automobile.

One of the biggest contributors to post-holiday blues is coming back to the drudgery of your normal daily life and all the undesirable tasks you have to do. If things have been frantic before you left and you are coming home to a messy house and smelly fridge, this is definitely going to be compounded. Here are a few simple tips to help ease the transition from holiday bliss into daily routine, by avoiding chaos and stress.

family travel, disorganised, get organised, organising, prepared
Images from 

Planning for the trip itself is obviously very important, but so is planning for your return, and this is unfortunately what many people fail to do. Having things all sorted and organised for the first few days after you get back home will extend the enjoyment of your holiday too.

  1. Tidy the house - don't leave piles of clothes on the bed that didn't fit into the suitcase, and do a general tidy up around the house so that it is a pleasant space to return to
  2. Don't leave dirty dishes in the sink or dishwasher
  3. Have enough clean clothes, work shirts, school uniforms etc washed and ready for when you get back so that there is no desperate rush to do laundry
  4. If you are going straight back to work or school, have the bags packed with the correct files, books, homework, or sporting equipment required for the first day back
  5. If you will be away for more than a few days, clean out the fridge and dispose of any items which will expire while you are away 
  6. Consider ordering some groceries online and getting them delivered on your return, so that you have some basics to get you through the first day back without needing to rush to the supermarket
  7. Remember to empty all the rubbish bins, and place the big bins out for collection

Do you have any other great tips on how to ease into daily routine post-holiday? Please share them in the comments below - I would love to hear from you!

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

HOW TO :: Be better prepared for a family road trip

School holidays are just around the corner, and if yours is one of the lucky families planning a road trip, then these tips are just for you! Whether you are just taking a quick day trip, or heading off for a couple of weeks, better preparation and less stress will make for a much happier family experience.

family holiday, family travel, planning, being prepared, organised, time management

The key is not having a rigid schedule and trying to ensure nothing can go wrong – rather it’s actually acknowledging that things can and do go wrong at times, but you can be flexible and equipped to deal with unexpected changes without the wheels falling off - figuratively speaking of course!

Plan Ahead:
  • After you have plotted your route using your GPS / Google Maps / map book, check with your local road network authority, as close to your departure date as possible, for any road works or events which may cause road closures or delays along your route (eg.
  • Plan frequent stops along the way at locations which provide the facilities you require – play equipment, baby change facilities, restaurant, petrol station, convenience store, ATM etc
  • Check the weather forecast for the days you are travelling on, not just the days you will be at your destination, so that you can factor in longer travel time if it’s raining or snowing, or extra stops if it’s very hot
  • Time your journey to avoid getting stuck in peak hour traffic when travelling through other main towns or cities
  • Confirm your booking details and time restrictions which may apply for check-in and check-out, so that you can plan your arrival and departure times accordingly. You don’t want to arrive at your destination at 11am only to be told your room/campsite will only be available after 2pm! 

Things to remember:
  • Charge the batteries for the portable DVD player, iPad, camera, phone etc, and pack the chargers and car adapters in an easily accessible place
  • Make sure your travel insurance is up-to-date and covers you for the location you are travelling to, and any activities you plan to do while you’re there
  • Make sure your car insurance is up-to-date and covers you for the location you are travelling to, terrain you are travelling on, and any other drivers
  • Make sure your RACV / NRMA (or other roadside assistance provider) membership is up-to-date
  • Make sure you have working tools and jumper cables, and check your spare tyre 
  • Pack an ‘Emergency Kit’ in the car – First aid kit, water, toilet paper, tissues, wet wipes, non-perishable food, nappies if required, a towel, a change of clothing, and emergency contact details in case you lose your wallet or phone

Most importantly, remember...
family holiday, family travel, road trip, family fun, be prepared

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Neat vs Organised

Spring is here! Yippee!! And with Spring comes a surge of motivation for people to Spring Clean and organise their homes. Here is a little nugget of advice - have a realistic expectation of what you are trying to achieve.

spring, spring clean, spring cleaning, getting organised, declutter, decluttering

One of the comments I hear the most from people when I tell them what I do for a living is "your house must be beautiful / perfect / look like a show home", to which I always respond "I wish!". A family lives in my home - more specifically, a tornado disguised as a 5 year old boy lives in my home. And I have much better things to do with my time than follow him around with a vacuum cleaner all day. So no, my home does not resemble a magazine spread. It is, however, organised.

"Neat" does not necessarily equate to "organised". You can have a very neat pile of papers on the corner of your nice clean desk, but that pile could contain everything from your child's artwork to an overdue bill that you've forgotten about - and is therefore not organised. Being organised is about having a system in place to allow you to live and work well in your space. This may not look very neat and tidy, but that's ok, as long as it serves you well. I have worked with very creative clients and artists who think very differently to how I do, and their "organised" looks very different to mine, but it serves them well (and much better than my way would work for them) as they know where everything is and can work well in their space.

So as long as you have a place for everything, and everything is in its place (most of the time!) you're doing well. Don't strive for unattainable goals - it's just disheartening.  Have a Happy Spring :)

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

PRODUCT REVIEW :: 'Rokii' from Bower & Beyond

I had the pleasure of going to Kids In Style for the first time this year, and discovered all sorts of fabulous new products. Today I would like to introduce you to my favourite find - 'rokii' from Bower&Beyond.

I love this product so much I even contemplated having another baby just so that I could buy one of them! It's everything you could ever want in a piece of baby gear: versatile, adjustable, multi-purpose, sturdy, easy to clean (yes please!!), environmentally friendly, and soooo gorgeous! No wonder it won a Good Design Award last year!

rokii, baby gear, baby rocking chair, rocker, ride-on toy

"rokii is a sleek rocking egg chair that morphs into a ride-on toy, for fluid functionality from newborn through to preschool"

This was very quickly added to my list of items to recommend to expecting and new mothers. As my clients and readers of my book will know, finding clever products which can fulfill multiple functions is very important to me (this saves having to buy, store, maintain, and ultimately get rid of, multiple other items) as well as finding natural, non-toxic and environmentally friendly products. With the rokii egg containing no BPA, phthalates, or PVC, the base being made out of natural bamboo, and the full kit serving the purpose of 5 different products - this certainly ticks all of those boxes. 

One additional benefit which I love, is that even if you have a preschooler and a newborn, rokii can entertain both. Often products which "grow" with your baby, only serve one purpose at any one time. Think about a cot which converts to a toddler bed - it's either a cot or a toddler bed, it cannot be used interchangeably as both (unless you hold the world record with an allen key). rokii goes from horizontal newborn rocker to preschool ride-on in just a few minutes. I think this image from their website says it best...

rokii, baby gear, baby rocking chair, rocker, ride-on toy

*Please note - this is not a sponsored post and I have no affiliation with Bower&Beyond

Monday, 19 August 2013

HOW TO :: 5 Little tasks to make a Big difference

I am very pleased to introduce a new monthly feature called "HOW TO". Each month I am going to do a post on something quick, easy and cheap (usually free) that you can do to get more organised. This first one is about 5 little things you can do to make a big difference, and hopefully the results will motivate you to do more than 5 things!

declutter, decluttering, organising, get organised, routine, time management

Start by doing one of each - it should take you about 5 minutes - at the same time each day (first thing in the morning, after school drop off, just before bed - when ever works best for you), and when you have established that routine you can then ramp it up to do a few of each, or one of each at both the start and end of the day. Choose just one area to work in for each 5 step exercise - the kitchen bench, the kids' room, your desk, etc - it will help concentrate your efforts and make more of a visible difference.

The idea behind this is to only choose items which can quickly be actioned, not items which you need to think long and hard about before deciding what to do. The more difficult decision-making process is the topic of a forthcoming blog post, so just stick with the quick and easy stuff for now.

Step 1: Get rid of it

If there is anything in your chosen area which you have thought "I really should throw that away", now is your chance. Find one thing which needs to be put in the rubbish or recycling bin, and do it. Also, if there is an item which has been sitting around for months waiting to be fixed and there is no chance of you getting around to doing it soon, and especially if no one has missed it, just throw it out.

Step 2: Put it away

I know it's much easier to just put something on your desk than in the filing cabinet, or on the chair instead of in the wardrobe, but this is how piles of clutter can quickly develop. Again just choose one thing in your chosen area which is not in its right place and which you know has a proper home, and go put it away. If it doesn't have a proper home or you don't know what to do with it, leave it - remember we are just looking for items which can be actioned quickly.

Step 3: Do it
Make that phone call, send that email, book that appointment, change that lightbulb - choose one quick task which has been hanging around on your "to do" list and get it done.

Step 4: Schedule it
If it is not a quick task that can be done as part of this exercise, then schedule it in your diary or calendar. A "to do" without a "when" will never get done, so schedule it in and allocate the time required to get it done.

organising, getting organised, planning, routine, schedule, time management

Step 5: Straighten it
That very large pile of paper on your desk is not going to be solved in this quick exercise, so straighten it up into a neat pile and straighten up everything else on your desk, and the visual effect will instantly be pleasing and less chaotic for your brain to process while sitting there. The same applies to any other area you are working on - if you just neaten up the piles of clutter it will make it much easier for you to work through your quick 5 steps the next time round. Plus you are less likely to just dump something down in a neat area than you are in a messy area.

If you stick with these 5 steps it will soon become habit and you will action these items immediately, instead of waiting for piles to form which will need to be addressed later. Let me know how you get on with this exercise - I would love to hear your feedback.

images courtesy of

Sunday, 11 August 2013

It's all about boundaries

I have concluded, based on my experience with many different clients over the last 2 and a half years, that being disorganised is all about boundaries - either not establishing them when there are none, or not respecting them when there are.

Think about a wardrobe - it is a specific fixed size, with it's physical structure setting the boundaries. If it was designed to comfortably accommodate 20 hanging garments, but you have stuffed 50 in there, then you are not respecting the boundaries of the wardrobe, and in fact you are not respecting the garments either, because they have no room to "breathe" and are getting all wrinkled and are not being worn because you can't even see what you've got in there any more, and when you can't be bothered trying to force another item in there it gets chucked on the closest piece of furniture or horizontal surface. (Same goes for the overstuffed shed, kitchen drawers, toy box..... etc).

clutter, declutter, decluttering, organising, disorganised, organiser

Your day is the same - the fixed length of 24 hours sets the boundaries, but because they are not tangible or visible, it's even more difficult to respect them.

Then there are all sorts of things that have no boundaries at all, and if you do not establish some for yourself you are going to be in big organising trouble! There is no limit to the flow of information, entertainment, work, requests, demands, email, junk mail, and so on. If you were not able to set (and stick to) boundaries with all this coming your way, you would end up being consumed by the internet and cease to be a functioning member of society! Obviously this is an extreme case, but I'm sure you get my point. Not operating within appropriate boundaries which you set for yourself and your lifestyle can lead to a frustrating overflow of stuff cluttering up your mind, your time, and your to-do list.

To use boundaries effectively, start big and break the area down into smaller and smaller areas, until you have well-defined homes for everything. If you have a place for everything, it's much easier to have everything in its place. Your actual home is the first boundary, which is broken down into smaller functional zones (the different rooms) which contain appropriate things, and then those rooms are further broken down into smaller areas (wardrobes, kitchen cabinets etc). Within those you can use drawer dividers, shelf dividers, storage boxes, or other tools to establish further boundaries or specific homes for items (for example a box for batteries in the kitchen "junk drawer").

The concept of boundaries does seem restrictive at first, but really they provide a framework within which to operate, so you know exactly what goes where, and what you have in each specific zone. And respecting those boundaries means items are better looked after and much easier to keep to organised.

So what boundaries can you set in your home and life to get more organised? I would love to hear from you!