How To… prepare a makeup kit.

This post is the last in my “housekeeper’s kits” series. Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V and Part VI at these links.

Ending on something a little lighter for my seventh and final kit: makeup. Again, another one for the girls, but also an idea for a gift!

1: The Bag.

Most people’s makeup bags are too big with too few compartments or too small. Instead, look for something about the size of a pressure cooker pot, a 2l jug or an xBox360, with two or three compartments to it. This should be enough. If you’re an avid collector of makeup, try and keep various kits this size rather than one larger one, as it will keep everything more organized.

2: The Basics.

These are your minimalist makeup products. The two, three or four things you absolutely won’t go without. Keep them all together in a small section or their own pouch.

My basics:

-brown eyeliner

-black mascara

-concealer

-tinted lip gloss

3: The Specials.

These are things you actually use, but not all that often. Fancy dress, dressing fancy or to swap with your basics when you fancy a change. Anything you don’t use daily can be considered here. Anything you don’t use weekly absolutely belongs here. Keep them organized in a larger section of your bag where they can be accessed easily but kept away from your regular use items.

For specials, I would suggest an assortment of makeup with a bias towards makeup that enhances your best asset, all in good colours for you.

-eyeshadow collection in at least 5 colours that look good on you

-a couple of lipsticks that look bold and attractive against your skin

-blushes and countouring in your colours

-something unbelievably sparkly

4: The Applicators and Tools.

The stuff you use to put the makeup on and get your face neatened up. There are thousands of reasons to keep them separate from your main makeup, but the primary one is hygiene. These tools will be in contact with your face every day until they are replaced. You need to keep them clean, keep clean tools away from makeup and not let them come in contact with face cleaning equipment, unless you want to damage brushes or get deep pore cleanser in your eye through your lash curler!

I haven’t had a need for much more than this, but I’m not into heavy makeup most of the time. Add a special applicator for every item you wear regularly!

-large brush for coverage

-smaller brush for bursts of colour

-fan brush for eyeshadow control

-thin applicator for eyeshadow control

-sponges for dabbing and blurring

-lash curlers

-tweezers

-small scissors

5: The Cleaning.

And when you need to make a few corrections or get everything off, these come in handy. These occupy the main area of your bag, seeing as they’re large and best kept handy. You will also want to keep tools for cleaning your brushes and applicators.

6: The Nails.

Nail-care materials are often spread around the house, but it’s worthwhile to keep a set in your makeup bag that never strays from there.

-clippers

-scissors

-nail files

-fake nails and glue

-nail polishes

-nail polish remover

-nail moisturizer

7: The Travel Bag.

Something you can grab and throw your favourite makeup into. You’d take your whole kit with you if you were going somewhere for a week or more, but this is more for an evening or a couple of days.

It needs to have two main compartments: day and night. Maybe a third for interchangeable items. Each will have a makeup combination that covers all the sorts of makeup you wear, but only for one set. So an example would be:

Day: deep beige eye shadow, tinted lip gloss, brown eyeliner.

Night: dark green shiny eyeshadow, red lipstick, darker eyeliner.

Both: concealer, mascara, wipes.

And that is how I would put together a makeup kit!

I’m open to any further suggestions for kits to make and will, if asked nicely, put together some visuals of the kits I use, what’s in them and how to pack them for easy everyday use.

So go ahead and tell me about everyday situations, emergencies or clutter that you really think need a kit. ­čÖé

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

How To… declutter paper.

We’ve already looked at speedy and efficient decluttering and how to declutter your wardrobe. Next we’re looking at one of our worst clutter areas: paper. Maybe you’re a student and going through last year’s work. Or you’ve accumulated a pile of bills and don’t know what to do with them. Or you’ve been away for a while and the mail pile has just piled up and up.

Well, as a private tutor I accumulate a lot of random paperwork and need to regularly go through it. Here is the fastest and most efficient way I have found of sorting paper.

1: Pile it all together.

If it’s a complete mess, just go round the house and empty all your piles of paper together. Most people have at least three, so here are the common piles of unsorted paper.

-Homework.

-Work sheets.

-Mail.

-Coupons and vouchers.

-Magazines and newspapers.

-Past bills, receipts, etc.

-Essential documents.

-Fun things, like motivational posters.

If your paper stores are generally organized, work through them one by one. But if you’re finding your post with your past bills and magazines and receipts in your briefcase, you may as well empty them into one pile to work through.

2: First sort. Bin or check.

The first time we go through our paper, we need to just ask if we want to bin or keep it. Plenty of things can be thrown away immediately. Anything that won’t be put in the bin or the recycling goes into another pile.

3: Second sort. Store, use.

The second time we go through our paper, we decide whether the paper needs something done, like a bill that needs paying or a magazine you want to clip things from, or just needs to be stored like payslips or important documents.

4: Third sort. Folders.

Take your store pile and assign a folder for every category of paper. Use the categories above, or even break them down, such as bills into water, gas, electric and tax, or homework by class. As you sort them, arrange them by date, with the oldest at the back. Make sure to add the newest at the very front of the folder each time.

5: Go through.

Once a year, go through your folders and get rid of anything you no longer need. Bills older than five years can easily be thrown away, though you may not keep bills older than one or two. Either way, it should be a simple matter of taking the papers nearest the back and recycling, shredding or burning them. If not, it’s time to sort again.

6: Keep out.

Make sure your folders are easily visible and usable, otherwise you start creating more paper piles. When you are sorting something, make sure you get whatever it is done and then put the paper away.

And that is how I declutter my papers. It does take a while, but it’s absolutely worth it and at least it gives you an excuse to procrastinate, watch TV, take a call and drink coffee for a couple of hours.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

What does your paper drawer look like? Is it driving you crazy, like it used to drive me crazy? How do you keep on top of paper clutter?

How To… air the house after Winter.

Now, if you live nearer one of the Poles, you’ll know what I’m talking about. Closed windows, double glazing, heaters and dehumidifiers on full, condensation on the windows, dirty muddy entryways, old fireplace smell, animals shedding, urgh. When did our house become a Roman bath? There is far to much sweat, grime and soot to handle!

And now that Spring is properly underway, we can try and do something about it. Yes, the dreaded Spring Clean!

Wait! Don’t lynch me yet! I know none of us want to do it. Some of us (including yours truly) tried to do it way back when in March when Spring officially started and we got nowhere. But this time is different. It’s going to work out. This is how, after failing to clear everything down, I finally got my house, well, not shiny, sparkly, 1950s catalog clean, but fresh and pretty and Spring-like!

1: Open all the windows.

First step: air the house out. Yes, it’s freezing. Yes, it’s annoying. But at this stage the air outside is far lighter, drier and cleaner than the air inside.

Pick a nice, warmish, dry day. The reason is twofold: One, the air outside will be at its crispest and driest and there is little chance of rain getting in. Two, you can get everyone else outside as you air the house, so nobody complains before it’s done.

2: Clean all the windows.

And whilst they’re open, may as well clear them down. They will be stained by rain, snow, smog, soot, mud, sweat, animals, all sorts. So give them a good wash down so they let as much light in as is physically possible!

3: Empty the fireplace.

Speaking of grubby things, it’s time to clean the fireplace. You will have to give it another, lighter clean if you will use it after Spring Cleaning, but it’s best to get it done deeply now, regardless of when you’ll next use it. A fireplace is a major source of stuffy air, soot and dirt and smells in the house. Give it a thorough cleaning as the windows dry.

4: Dust the shelves and fittings.

Once you’ve closed up, it’s time to deal with the other source of stuffy air and grime: dust.

The main reason I don’t recommend dusting when airing the house is that a couple of gusts of wind can send the dust everywhere, even back where you just cleaned!

Make sure to dust the whole room, top to bottom. Shelves, painting frames, doors, light fittings. Especially look out for those hard to reach areas or the places you dust less often. Dust the walls too!

5: Hoover and sweep.

Now you’re done dusting you want to hoover and sweep immediately! All that dust you dislodged is on the floor, bed and chairs, along with any soot from the fireplace and cobwebs from the windows. Sweep or hoover it up now and it’s gone! Make sure to hoover furniture as well. Anything on the floor and anything with a fabric coating, basically.

6: Have a tea.

You need a tea break after all that rushing around. Want a biscuit or a piece of fruit too? Let’s put some music on, get the heaters back on and relax a bit.

7: Change the bedding and curtains.

Go and dig out your Summer bedding and any throws or blankets you have. Swap the bedding over on every bed and add a bright throw to keep warm. This way you aren’t waiting until you’re boiling to get your duvet changed and you can adjust the bedding based on those unpredictable May nights.

Also swap your curtains. The need for super heat retention is going away now, so you should have some light linen, net or lace curtains. If you don’t, pick some up quick. Charity shops and stores start selling them a little early, so buy them before they put the prices up!

Lighter bedding and curtains also hold less humidity, making the room feel cool and not cold.

8: Turn the heating down a tiny bit.

It’s a brave move, but it signifies Winter is actually over. Sure, you may just turn it down two degrees and wait until next week before you turn it down again, but it’s the first step towards Summer.

9: Bring in some flowers or potpourri.

Take advantage of the newly crisp, fresh air and liven your house with some lovely natural fragrances. Summer, here we come!

How is your Spring Cleaning going? Got any tips or hints? Feel free to share!

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

How To… declutter your wardrobe the easy way.

Spring cleaning time! We’ve already addressed the clutter in your house. How about we take a look at our wardrobes next? I know, I know: “The horror!” You, like me and pretty much everyone, hate the idea of clearing down your wardrobe. And I get it. It’s always been time consuming, we never know what to part with, we hold onto something and everything “just in case” and eventually we are done, with nothing to show for it but a couple of wasted hours and a top with a few holes in it that maybe we’ll throw away, reuse or thrift (we never do).

So here are some foolproof steps to clearing down your wardrobe the easy way.

1: Sort everything by season.

First of all, none of these tricks work properly is your jumpers are between your sundresses and your shorts. Try and separate your clothing by the seasons there are in your country. Maybe there’s just a dry and a wet season, maybe the Spring and Winter are very obvious, but the Summer and Autumn are similar. However you do it, sort your clothes by the season you’re most likely to wear them.

2: Get storage boxes.

One marked “mending”, one marked “rags and upcycling”, one marked “charity”. Keep the mending one near your sewing. Keep the other two somewhere you can easily move them into your room several times a year, but where they’re out of the way for about 300 days of the year!

When you come across something that’s broken that should be in your “keep” pile, add it to the mending box. When you come across something that’s too bad to give away, put it in the rags box. When you come across something nice that isn’t right for you, put it in the charity box.

3: Use the hanger trick.

Go through this season by season. Hang all your seasonal clothes the wrong way around. Put your seasonal tops and underwear and whatever else upside down in drawers. And just use them all as normal. At the end of the season, whatever’s still the wrong way round hasn’t been used and probably won’t really be missed.

When it comes to work clothes and formal wear, keep them in rotation for a full year. If they get no use in a year, then you probably don’t need them.

Once the first year is up, we move onto stage two of the sorting.

4: Sort it by size.

We all do it. We keep clothes that don’t fit. Maybe they’re from when we were a different size, maybe they shrunk or stretched in the laundry, maybe we were given them. Whatever it is: you don’t need them.

Most people have two sizes they hover between over the course of the year. In my case it’s a small to a large 12, or a large 10 to a small 14. So first make a pile of your range, be it 8-12 or 10L-14S. Everything outside that pile, unless it’s an overgarment you regularly wear over many other clothes, can go.

Next, look through your “keep” pile for anything that only just fits and take it out of the pile. Just because the label says it fits or it sometimes looks OK doesn’t mean it actually fits.

5: Get a theme going.

Like it or not, we all have colours, cuts and styles that suit us. Depending on where you like your variety, try and theme your wardrobe. It’s fine to have a gothic wardrobe full of various colours and cuts, a dress wardrobe full of various styles and colours or a wardrobe that has a bit of anything blue, green and grey.

But if you have a wardrobe with clothing in styles ranging from hippie to emo, in cuts ranging from grungy to classic dresses, in all the colours of the rainbow, you will soon run out of things to wear. Why? Because not only should your wardrobe suit you, your clothes should match. When your clothes largely have something in common you don’t run out of combinations or ideas. So find out what colours suit you best, what your personal style is and what cuts and items are best for your life and see what theme you can work out that meets all your needs.

So now we’ve worked out what to keep, we have three daunting boxes ahead of us.

6: Make a mending pile.

So, this is one of the only two parts where you will actually have to sort the traditional way. Sit down and organize your loved, well-fitting, themed clothes that need mending. Sort them by the type of repair: darning, stitching, patches, rehem, reline, bleach. Then, find a day when you have enough time to repair one group. Do this until you’ve repaired the whole box.

7: Repurpose.

Another part where you have to sort traditionally. Arrange the clothing by fabric type so you can easily access them when you need them. Then, put them in your stash or put them away.

Ideas for old clothes include: dishrags, carseat covers, aprons, cushion covers, hanging organizers, under-table hammocks, patches for mending, etc.

8: Give away.

Finally, take what you’re going to give away. First try offering items to friends or family. Whatever they don’t want, put through the wash, fold and give to a local charity shop.

And that’s how to declutter your wardrobe the long, but very easy way. Not only have you got rid of your clutter, you’ve also got a better wardrobe, fixed your damaged clothes, got an endless supply of dish and wash rags, given to charity and hardly thrown away a scrap of fabric! How about that?

How do you declutter and sort your wardrobe? How do you reduce your fabric footprint? What is your fabric stash like? Do you reuse much? Please share your ideas, thoughts and advice in the comments!

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

8 Organization Tips to (Almost) Never Forget Anything.

I have a dreadful memory at times. Part of it is the same hormonal, mental, crazies problem that makes me want to sleep for days on end, hide from people, bite and break things or stare at walls rather than work. Part of it is just that I’m a forgetful sort of a person. With how long it takes me to learn names and get into routines and how hard it is for me to follow a set schedule, I’m sometimes surprised I’m functional. But I am functional, I do remember things, I do get things done (most of the time), and this is how I do it.

1. Lists.

I write lists for everything. Shopping lists, job lists, work lists, garden lists. Whatever you have to do, write it down and write it in context.

Good lists that I use regularly are “things I need to do today,” “steps to cleaning the (kitchen),” and “things to do in town.” Also, many websites have list functions. Not only do I have a list of blog posts to write, I make use of WordPress’s “Drafts” section on the dashboard to keep track of what I’m writing. I also use the beautifully organized “To Do” list on Fiverr and will flag any emails I need to respond to on Outlook. Lists do you good. Just remember to check and update them!

2. Strategic untidiness.

I’m hardly a minimalist, but I love to have a lot of clear surfaces, open floor space and bare wall patches in my house. However, I will strategically leave things in a mess on purpose. Why? Because that way I notice them!

When the pantry countertop is normally clear, but there’s a letter on it, I remember I need to post it when I next go out. When a wall is normally clear but there’s an ironing board with some shirts on it there, I remember I need to iron those shirts. When my sewing basket is normally in the wardrobe, but it’s next-to the sofa and a pile of things is on the coffee table, I remember I’m due a mending spree.

Plus, strategic untidiness also kills procrastination, because I can’t stand to leave things out of place a second longer than necessary!

3. Tell people.

Jon and I tend to relay things back to each other and ask each other odd questions all the time. We are basically walking dictionaries, encyclopedias, agendas and, in Jon’s case, a calculator for each other. But this will work on anyone who has a better memory than you or it will just increase the odds of you being reminded on time.

Tell someone what you need to remember. Try and make it someone who will be around at about the right time to remind you. It’s amazing how just by doubling the people who know something you increase the odds of remembering so much!

4. Fake deadlines.

Another one I do in part to curb procrastination, in part to remember things. If the deadline for an essay is Monday, my fake deadline will be Saturday or Sunday. If the deadline for booking an appointment is the 25th, my fake deadline will be the 20th. If the deadline for hoovering is 6pm, my fake deadline will be 3pm.

Simply set your deadline far back enough that it gives you time to remember it, panic and actually do it. That way you’re unlikely to be late or miss a deadline again.

5. Room by room.

A great way of reminding yourself of things is to sort similar tasks by room. Keep all your papers out in the office: one pile for things to send, one pile for things to file, one pile for things to copy, one pile for things to scan or transcribe. That way you get a visual reminder of what you have left to do at a time when it is convenient to do them.

Likewise with other rooms. Leave the ironing where your laundry dries or is folded once it’s dry. Keep the dishes in or by the sink for when you’re next washing. Try and think about what you would be doing in that part of the room and how you’d divide your time to make the tasks easier.

6. Notes.

Where lists fail, notes rescue you. Put notes everywhere. As text message drafts on your phone, stuck to calendars, next-to the things that need addressing, on your work desk, on your computer, on the fridge, anywhere and everywhere you will see them. The more important to remember, the more notes everywhere.

7. Folders.

For things that you need to remember on a monthly basis or even a quarterly or yearly basis, keep folders. The first thing in the folder should be a list of the last time you did it and what you did. The following pages should be records of the last times. This could be so you don’t repeat birthday presents, so you remember to save for the water bill or so you plant the vegetable seedlings out at the right time. Whatever it’s for, file it, label the folder and put a reminder on your calendar or phone that you need to check it a certain amount of time in advance.

8. Timetable.

Finally, timetables weren’t just good for school. Think about your typical week and write yourself a daily timetable. Do it hour by hour, so you can adjust things as you need. Write everything in it. Either print it out, write it on paper or do it on your computer, depending on what you’re more likely to look at.

For example, mine is on my computer because every day, first thing, I check my emails, student timetable and lists from the day before.

From around 4.30 until 5.15 I am seeing to the cat’s basics (food, water, litter, bedding), helping Jon get ready for work and doing any small jobs.

From 5.15 to 7.30 I am tidying the house, cleaning and doing odd jobs.

From 7.30 I am getting ready for work.

From 8.00 I am having lessons, writing for the blog, writing for money, writing my books.

From 16.00 I am tidying up, finishing my housework and cooking.

So usually by the evening I have done everything. And if I haven’t at least I have a few hours to finish everything.

And that’s how I try my hardest to remember everything. It isn’t failsafe. I still forget things. I sometimes forget to add something to a list or to check my list, even! But generally these tactics keep me organized, on track, low-stress and meeting all my deadlines.

How do you try and remember things? Got any tips or questions? It’s what the comments are for.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

How To… declutter a room.

If you’re a housekeeper, you are familiar with clutter in a way that bachelors or kept people rarely are. That slow, creeping mess of things. You can’t remember who they belong to, who brought them in, why they are there, but there they are. Glasses on the bookshelf, a pile of papers on the table, an abandoned mug or a toy in the middle of the floor.

Generally you keep on top of it. Just put the glasses somewhere sensible, ask the paper-owner to sort the papers, put the mug in the sink or dishwasher and return the toy to the toybox or child’s bedroom. But sometimes rooms get out of hand. Very, very out of hand. Like an episode of Hoarders in the making. Usually this is an office, a spare room, a child’s bedroom or a shed, but sometimes it can happen to kitchens, living rooms, bathrooms and master bedrooms as well. No space is safe from clutter explosions.

So, when you next walk into a room that looks like it was hit by a hurricane, here’s what to do to straighten it out and try and prevent this happening again.

1: Clear a floor or furniture surface.

Just throw everything to one side, if you must. Give yourself an open space to work with.

2: Arrange clutter into piles.

One for books, one for laundry, one for toys, one for kitchen stuff…

3: Work by sections.

Once you have sorted a certain cluttered area, take everything and put it where it belongs. Then move onto the next area until the room is tidy.

4: Find a collection.

Basically, if there are many books, clothes, toys, CDs or anything in one corner, that’s a collection. It may not be intentional, but there are probably a lot more things to get rid of from collections than anywhere else.

5: Work through one collection at a time.

Don’t overburden yourself. Pick a collection or a piece of furniture and take everything off it.

6: Sort everything.

Create three piles: things to return to the furniture, things to donate and things to throw away. Don’t put anything aside for storage, that’s just more clutter. When you have finished, clean the furniture and the items you’re keeping before returning them.

7: Organize everything.

When you’re returning the items you’ll keep, think of how they will be best used and how they’ll look best. You want everything to look nice, but also to stay tidy. The things that will be used more often should be in easy reach, where the things you use rarely can be hidden.

8: Rearrange.

If everything doesn’t fit, go through and remove things. Assume you have to throw something away, what would it be? Take those things out and put them to one side. Maybe you can keep them, or maybe you will decide you don’t need them after all.

9: Move to the next collection.

Go around the room, working through each collection. Finally you should have a large pile for donations, a small pile of rubbish and a small pile of things you’re yet to make your mind up about.

10: Finish the room.

Whatever you have in your undecided pile, try and find a place for it. If you can’t, choose some items to donate and some to keep. Put the ones you’ll keep in a storage box.

You can also get a basket or item or furniture to keep them on or in, if you really want to use them.

Finally you’ll be left with a tidy room that is easy to use and unlikely to become a mess in the next two hours. Enjoy the tidiness until someone leaves a plate in the middle of the room for no apparent reason.

TTFN and Happy Hunting.

Did you find this how-to useful? How do you go about decluttering your house? What are the biggest sources of clutter? How do you prevent mess?