Sunday, 30 December 2012

Girls to be homemakers? - What a scandal!

I let out a groan the other morning in bed after reading an article on the BBC website on my phone.  Apparently it is shocking that schoolgirls in the year 2012 are still being given the impression that later in life they will become homemakers. This, according to the article, is a scandal that should be rectified with immediate effect.

From my own experience, I went to a girls school in the late 80’s/early 90’s and sadly was not given career guidance on being a homemaker.  Instead, we were told that we would follow an academic route to University and beyond.  We were lead to believe that our options were unlimited, that the glass ceiling was being smashed ahead of us.  Being a mum was never mentioned.   

That was all well and good in my 20’s.  I was inspired and had ambition.  Now, though, I frequently feel unprepared for this stage in my life where I have a child.  My career is now constrained by my son’s need for a stay-at-home-parent and soon, school run times.

I wish someone had pointed out, all those years ago, that I should think about planning my career path to fit in a few years of freelance or flexible hours.  Being the same age, Husband was not given this kind of career advice at school either. 

I was disappointed that the BBC article is still calling for girls to disregard the importance of being a parent.  The call should instead be for more career guidance for both sexes on how to manage the inevitable scrum for a work/parenting balance.  Surely it is time for boys also to be taught that being a parent can be a tough job.  They should be given career advice that includes not expecting your future wife/partner to stay at home with the kids.  Until boys start to think about sharing parenting and taking on the tough role of ‘homemaker’ when they grow up, women will inevitably be the ones to fill the role.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

The Curse of the Faraway Tree

Well, tonight we read another chapter of the Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton.  Once my son was in bed and snuggling down, he announced that he'd actually like to change his mind on Christmas.  He told me he'd need to write a new letter to Santa asking (instead of more wooden railway, trains, etc.) for some spells, a brush (if the spell came in a can, like in the book) and also for a car.  

Naturally, I asked about the car.  The response?  Well, he'd apparently use his new spells to make me really small, then, of course, he'd need to have a car to drive himself to the supermarket.  He felt confident that he'd manage just fine at the supermarket.  He did check that I'd give him the list first though.  As far as driving was concerned, I would also need to tell him which roads to go on.  Oh yes, I'd be taken along too.  In his pocket.  Apart from in the supermarket, where apparently he'd delight in putting me in a trolley and pushing me around.

I'm not sure if this tells me something about how he feels about being a small child and his impatience to grow up.  Or, if he's just gonna have some interesting dreams tonight.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Moved in. Now back to blogging.

Well, finally I can knock one item off my 'to do' list.

Yes, after months of planning, we are living in our new home.  The whole thing was exhausting and, really I suppose will continue to be so.

The move itself went smoothly but the stress associated with the organisation and the length of time it takes to unpack is really not fun.  There are plenty of other things I should, and would rather be doing than searching through boxes, unpacking boxes, moving boxes and so on.

On the upside, once things are settled in properly, I shall have some real space to put my files and thoughts and finally get on with the grand plan of a Working At Home Mum (WAHM).  I rather suspect that the onslaught of winter bugs and the depletion of financial means will ensure that my plans for world domination may take longer than I would like, but I am eager to get going at least.

Another advantage of the move is that since each evening there has been packing/sorting/moving heavy furniture/manic searching for things, both me and husband are feeling a bit fitter, trimmer and all round less interested in sitting on the sofa watching TV and eating snacks.

I wrote a post earlier in the year about doing more and moving house has reminded me not to fall back into bad habits.  I have put a note in my diary to remind myself again at the end of the year as it seems without a kick every now and again I have the tendency to seek out the solace and comfort of the sofa.

Blogging will be back on the agenda slowly as I still have a huge list of stuff to get on with, but for now, it is just great to be logged back in.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Finally, a bit of colour on my legs!

Finally some colour on my legs, although red, brown and green wasn't exactly what I was hoping for this summer.

A couple of months of rain and summer holidays filled with trips to unfamiliar playgrounds and woods has left my legs covered in bruises and insect bites.  I have enjoyed my adventures with my young son: following trim trails and footpath signs, but I do feel like I am back at school when I look down at my shins.

Our lack of sunshine has left my legs distinctly moon-kissed as they have hardly had much exposure to the elusive sun.  I don't mind that so much.  I'm content to be the colour I was born, but it is nice to wear skirts and shorts when I can.  However, the added colour of bruises and fading bites is not exactly the sophisticated, well turned-out yummy mummy look I aspire to.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Am I really too busy for housework?

So many Mummies I know these days avoid ironing like the plague.  It is much considered to be a waste of time when there are so many other things to do in this short life of ours. So many are also lucky enough to be able to afford a cleaner who prevents them having to carry out most of the daily drudgery of keeping house.

I recall my own mother in rubber gloves more often than not .  She was always cleaning and frequently found ironing.  She had far more children than me.  This got me to thinking about how we (me) are all so busy these days.  And certainly too busy for housework.

What do mothers of this generation do with all this time that technology has given us?  It should now be quicker to vacuum, iron and clean than ever before.  We have elasticated sheets for the beds, washing machines with quicker spins, even tumble dryers if we choose.  Other lucky people (yes, I'm still bitter!) have dishwashers which prevent them being tied to the kitchen sink all evening as well.

Is it really down to Twitter, Facebook and Mumsnet?  That we fritter away our valuable time instead?  

I wonder whether some of it is because our local shops are no longer a few minutes down the road.  We have a round trip of half an hour's travel time just to get to the supermarket. 

It can take hours, if not days to renew the car insurance, home insurance and get cheaper energy bills.  We are now able to sort out our own banking online, at a time that suits us, but is it quicker than it used to be to pop into the local branch?  We have to keep all our own paperwork for our own pensions, ISAs, mortgages, etc. and take time to file them all away.  Our houses are bigger than they used to be in many cases.  An ensuite and downstairs loo all sound great until you realise that you have to find time to clean them all.  

Even booking a holiday online can take several days of your life to book as you compare prices, research destinations and compare seat space on the airlines available.  Sometimes I hanker for the opportunity to walk into the travel agent, give them my requirements and go back the next day to pay and pick up tickets.  Of course, this option is available and I would take it except for the fact that I believe I can find it a lot cheaper online.  

If I charged out my 'free time' though for all these activities, I wonder how much money it would cost?  I wonder how much less stressed (ignore the poorer part) I would be if I could just hand over the regular stuff to a willing and competent PA?  I'd no doubt be able to sack the cleaner (I don't have one right now to sack as can't afford one, but you get the idea) as I'd have more time on my hands.  I'd have more time in the evenings too.  I could maybe even take up a hobby instead of plodding through the ironing.

So, the question is: Am I too busy?  Or just too busy for housework?

Friday, 13 July 2012

Where have I been?

Well, I have been busy.  Busy working on my 'to do' list finally.  Things are picking up a pace and I'm feeling all nervous at the opportunity to change things at last.

One of the reasons is because I now have a huge list of things to do!  And very few of them are fun.  So, I need to make sure I get that balance right between having time out and gettings these things knocked off the list as well as keeping up some exercise.  Of course, it is also a good opportunity to test out more yummy chocolate.

They say moving house is the most stressful thing, so am not looking forward to it in the way I perhaps should.  However, I am really pleased that we will get other things sorted as a consequence.

So, I will be back more regularly, but for now there is a lot of things on my list.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Get the Life You Really Want

Just started reading this book by James Caan.....only on chapter two....not got the life I really want so far. 

Trouble is, he talks a lot about having goals and making sure you write them down and tackle each one in easy steps. 

So.....first goal: Make time to write down a goal.  That goal may well be: 'Find time to write down a list of goals'.

Time for bed to continue the book.

Keep your fingers crossed for me.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Doing a spring clean? Don’t forget your medical cabinet!

Ok, so this is going to sound a little ‘public safety announcement’, but it’s not meant to.

Going through our medical box is something I do regularly because we have space issues in the bathroom, so here’s my checklist:
  1. Always check expiration dates on your medicines, including checking how long they should be open for (the little ‘lid up’ symbol with a number next to it)
  2. Replace anything that you might need in the middle of the night or at a time when no one in the house is capable of getting out such as flu remedies or dioralyte
  3. Make sure the instructions are in the right boxes
  4. If something doesn’t actually have a full dose left in it then it’s probably sensible to ditch it
  5.  Check for anything you might need for a new season, e.g. antihistamine ointment for insect bites for summer
  6. Make sure any child medicines are age appropriate and ditch anything they’ve grown out of
  7. If you getting rid of anything like antibiotics, check first if they need to be returned to the pharmacist
  8. Always good to check to see if you have enough ‘normal’ plasters – not just the huge ones or tiny round ones.  Summer means shorts which means knees are exposed to the pavement
Maybe it’s the Girl Scout in me, but I like to be prepared and make sure that the medical supplies are there and ready when I need them.

So, if you are inspired, while you’re busy having a clean out, go through your make-up and toiletries too. 

Friday, 1 June 2012

Explaining China’s global market position... to a toddler

I don’t know whether you have noticed, but pretty much everything is made in China.  Don’t believe me?  I’ll send you my three year old who will systematically check everything in your house for you.  You may be surprised.  He certainly was. 

It started when he discovered all his books are printed in China.  All except two library books that is.   One of which is printed in Singapore and the other, strangely, in Belgium.

My son is intrigued by this and is audibly impressed and surprised when studying the underside of an object to find it’s made somewhere other than China.  I mention the audibly bit as he’s not fussy where or what he’s found to inspect for its country of origin.

The thing is, although he can read ‘Made in China’ he’s not yet there with understanding the globalisation of industry.  So how do you explain such a thing to a toddler?  And, why is everything made in China?  How do they get all the books here that they print there?  And why does Belgium get a look in on book printing, but not the UK, or Spain, Greece?  So many questions and so few least not many my son can comprehend at his tender age.

I’ve never seen a parenting book that covers answers to these sorts of questions.  Is there one?  

Is it printed in China?

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

What being a SAHM is all about

As much as being a Stay at Home Mum (SAHM) frequently drives me to swearing, cursing and crying (not in front of my son!) there are days like today which are fun and truly priceless.

This afternoon has been hot and humid.  A long walk along the river meant that the little hand running up behind me and grabbing mine was sweaty and sticky.  But, it was perfect.  I know that one day, sooner than I shall expect, that hand will not want to hold mine at all.  Then one day it will be a big, man hand and will dwarf mine.

After the little one announced that he wanted me to ‘snack him up’ (!), we settled on the grass by the river and watched boats, helicopters and ducks.  We took time to sit and search for four-leafed clovers and admired the daisies.  I sang (it’s ok, there was no one around...) ‘Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer do...’ to him loudly, as my Grandma used to do with me. 

It got too hot so we continued on, following an official footpath sign.  However, we soon discovered we had no idea where we were.  Apart from the concern of getting home in time to cook dinner, I was a bit worried that we’d been out for some time in the heat.  I was expecting the little one to pass out from thirst as we powered up the last hill to discover the main road and a helpful bus stop to rescue us. 

An unplanned trip on the bus is about the best thing my son can think of happening in an afternoon so he was overjoyed, if a little worn out. 

Watching him after dinner watering the seeds he’d planted with husband, wearing just his t-shirt, baggy pants and wellies is an image I’d love to keep in my head for a long time.  Well, I did take some photos, but I think they’ll be seen only by a future girlfriend or for blackmail.

Friday, 18 May 2012

Maroon 5 and their bid to get me fit

Ok, so my moves are not exactly like Jagger* but thankfully the little one is happy with me jumping around the room like a loon as long as I throw in some country dancing-style moves holding his hands.  I love the song and can't sit still when it comes on the radio.  We have fun and dance around until we have to open the window and have a sit down.

Apart from making me realise how little cardio exercise I usually get, it also makes me realise how much I miss going out dancing.  When I lived in London I'd regularly spend 4-10 hours a week in a club dancing my high heels off.  These days, I can't remember when I last wore heels, let alone kicked them up.

Am I too old to be seen in a nightclub? 

*I am too scared to find out if they mean Mick - if not, then I really am too old and out of the loop!!

Chocoholic, moi?

Have a busy weekend coming up with a couple of long events to go to.  Is it wrong that this morning I was thinking that I need to get some small stashes of chocolate to take with me? 

Mind you, at the wedding tomorrow I am unlikely to be able to eat the cake (don't ask) and I know that I will get grumpy if I don't have a sugar fix at some point in the afternoon.

Perhaps it is that I have not had a decent night's sleep this week and feel in constant need of a 'pick me up'. 

I don't think I need rehab just I?

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Yum yum, delivery for CocoaPowered!

Just got yet another leaflet through the letterbox telling me how wonderful my life would be if I received a weekly box of vegetables for me and my family.  This is folded into a leaflet that tells me that I can get pizza delivered at almost any time of day or night for a bargain price. 
How useless these are.  I buy vegetables when I’m in the supermarket and I cannot eat pizza. 

What I do want to find on my doormat, however, is a leaflet offering me what I do need: the foodstuffs I do run out of, that I need stocking up on in between supermarket trips.  Chocolate.   Chocolate is the one thing I do panic about when I run out.  It is the thing that I need at almost any time of day or night.  I don’t get the same feeling about vegetables.  Besides, I always have a supply in the freezer.    

I would like to have a weekly box of chocolate delivered so I never run out.  It doesn’t have to be exclusively chocolate, of course.  It would be good to be able to ring for a delivery in the evenings too.  Especially when hubby is still at work and I really fancy some biscuits but I can’t leave the house.  

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Thanks Will Self, you made my week.

Three things this week have happened to make me grumpy and want to share it.  To start with, I found a brilliant article on the BBC by Will Self: In Defence of Obscure Words.  I was really pleased to read this (not only because it is a beautiful piece of writing) as I derive a secret joy from obscure words.  Sadly, I rarely recall them for use in daily life and in my professional life I’m an avid advocate of Plain English.  The article discusses the loss of eloquent English but makes a better point about modern society and the requirement of media to ‘dumb down’.  

So is it no longer ‘cool’ to be clever?  Clearly there are a lot of clever people out there.  Considering so many more people go to university these days actually, surely there are far more academically-minded souls in the UK than ever?  The coffee shop chains should be positively over-flowing with philosophical debate, non?

Nevertheless, the tabloid press continue to tell us how more important it is to be pretty and underdressed, celebrating those that are scholarly-challenged and labelling our well-educated politicians as ‘posh’ and ‘out of touch’.  I was recently found rolling my eyes as the participants on a panel quiz show recently all denied being able to do a basic sum.  Really?  Well, what are you doing on my TV?  How do you manage to work out your self-assessment tax on your huge salary?  Why are you not embarrassed?  

On the other hand, there are people on TV who are clever.  Very clever.  Talking about space, nature, medicine.  These are ‘experts’ so it is ok for them to be clever and interviewers can ask them to talk about their subject in ‘simple terms’ for those of us at home listening or watching.  I only imagine this is in case we are embarrassed into having to reach for the dictionary to follow what they are on about.

The final trigger this week was the attack on Stephen Hester and his gardens.  I am not a Mail reader but saw the story commented on a TV show.  My first thought was ‘Wow, nice!  What a successful guy.  How do I get me a house like that?’.  Husband and I then debated as to why a ‘newspaper’ with such a broad readership doesn’t ask Mr Hester that.  Wouldn’t we all like to know how to reach such a nice place in life where we can live where we want and how we want?  Mind you, I doubt Mr Hester does either of those things considering the tough job he has.  I admire the man and would happily invite him over for dinner.   Over a bowl of pasta I’d ask him to tell me where to invest my money, what sort of pension I should have and other questions that I expect he’d have the answers to.  After all, he didn’t get to where he is by being a bit dim.  Instead of having a go at the man who is just doing a job, why don’t we use him as a resource?  If we are all so up in arms about paying for his house out of our taxes, could we not all demand that he do a weekly column telling us the secrets of his success, instead of picking him apart in a national paper?  Wouldn’t that be more beneficial to all of us?

Rant over.....for now.....I have to go and re-read my copy of The Superior Person’s Book of Words.  Thanks Will Self, you made my week.

Friday, 27 April 2012

Is classical music really just for the elderly?

I was lucky enough this week to go to a concert given by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.  I say ‘lucky’ because they were playing in a local town, which meant I got to hear great music without the pain and expense of having to make a trip into London.  

For me, although I love listening to classical music, I do so enjoy studying the musicians.  There was the lady with the elegant dress who kept such a straight back through the whole performance.  There was another who sat in a more dynamic pose, resting on her tall, shiny stilettos.  There was the man who couldn’t help smiling while he was playing, almost lifting out his seat with enjoyment.  The pianist was fascinating.  If I hadn’t been able to see her hands actually moving along the keys I’m not sure I’d believe it was possible that a real, live person was actually making the music.  

But, for me, the percussionists will always be good value.  Nothing amuses me more than someone playing a drum that’s almost as big as a bear.  I was sad when at the end they all stood up and there was a man with a triangle that was sat off to the side and I hadn’t seen him.  I mean, how often do you get to see someone play the triangle?  I was also really pleased to see so much use of the cymbals in this performance.  Too often these guys have to sit there all night, turning the pages all for one go at the crescendo of a piece.  Not this guy though, he was banging and crashing all the way through.  It was great.

The only real sad thing was that the audience was made up almost entirely of people over the age of 55 years old.  We saw 5 people under 15 and although there may have been more, they were certainly in the minority.  Equally lacking was anyone in their 20’s and those in their 30’s were sparse, usually accompanying an older parent.  It was good to feel so young I suppose, but it felt we were out of place as much as we might at a JLS concert at our age.  I remain curious.  Are concert halls in London still full of students and young people?  Was it just representative of the demographic in the town here?  Do they not enjoy a night out of people watching? Let me know your thoughts.

Friday, 20 April 2012

Is alcohol really a right?

I know it was a few weeks ago now that the price of alcohol was in the news again.  However, stumbling across an article on the BBC ( really got me thinking about it further. I found the article fascinating.  On the one hand it reminds us that we really don’t know much about what goes on in all the countries in the world (unless I am the only one who didn’t know how ‘dry’ the States still is), on the other it got me wondering how relevant ‘Footloose’ still is today. 
On the whole though, I wonder why the UK seems to think that alcohol is a right for everyone.  Every time there is a discussion about the problems of alcohol abuse in the country there is a call for increased prices in order to restrict access.  This comes from those concerned for our health and of course the costs associated with it, which ultimately affects us all.  This I understand completely and I do think we need to listen to these people before we end up with real restrictions on access to alcohol similar to those used in parts of Scandinavia.  

Nevertheless, whenever there is a call for price restrictions, it seems there is general outrage and concern that not everyone will be able to afford their regular fix of this drug.  Surely we do not consider alcohol a human right?  I know there was much jeering when a politician tried to express that access to the internet was a human right.  In a way though, that’s easier to understand.  Have you ever had to try finding something like the number for an electrician in a power cut?  These days, so much is on the internet there is an argument to say that you would be disadvantaged without access to it.  However, if the health counsellors are to be believed, not being able to drink much is a good thing.  So why do people get so upset about it? 

It makes me wonder what would happen if we were declared a ‘dry’ country.  Some of the US counties in the article are large areas, compared to the UK.  Would we have riots like last summer?  How much money would we save for the NHS compared to the taxes lost?  Would it just be a nicer, calmer society on a Saturday night?  Would we all become caffeine addicts instead?  Of course there are already many people in the UK that choose not to drink because of religious beliefs or due to health reasons (chosen or forced) and I wonder what the percentage is of drinkers vs. non-drinkers.  I am sitting here curious to know what level of support there would be for a 'dry' week in London, for example.  It will never happen but I'm curious.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Not enough chocolate in the house...

The last two nights the little one has decided not to sleep.  No apparent reason (which is more annoying) so he is fine during the day.  It is just me who is grumpy and keeps dropping things.  *yawn*

It has been a stressful few weeks here and this blog has suffered through lack of inspiration.  I was hoping that as of yesterday things would've calmed down and I would have time to get back on with things.  However, I have a feeling my brain is still asleep upstairs.

During the last few weeks I have been reading a lot of interesting, very serious, very brain-consuming books, fretting over husband's job situation and dealing with the little one on my own for a few days.  All of this has taken up a lot of spare time and in particular 'brain time'.  Add to that entertaining a little one with nursery and playgroups on Easter break and I've not had too much time to myself let alone to think, ponder and write.

Keep your fingers crossed that everything settles down for me soon, that the little one sleeps and that the sun starts shining soon.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Ant Annihilation

Despite enjoying learning more about Buddhism recently in my kid’s religion book, I showed little mercy and understanding for the several ant families that I swiftly exterminated from my kitchen floor yesterday morning.  Whilst I was there on my knees with ant spray in one hand and kitchen paper in the other, my son handily pointed out any runaways that I’d missed in my ant annihilation.  He was bravely standing off the ground on his kitchen step, mind, having got well into the kitchen before we noticed the floor crawling.

I did have a fleeting concern though, about the lesson I was teaching him.  Usually I admonish him for stamping on ants in the garden (he has never seen anyone do this before, but did it to the first ant he saw after learning to walk) and putting the ladybirds ‘to sleep’.  I am abnormally brave with spiders in the house – taking them outside and grinning inanely saying things like ‘oh, silly mister spider must have got lost, off out to the garden with you’ whilst trying to stop myself convulsing with irrational fear. 

So, yes, they were in the kitchen, and I had no idea how else to stop them storming the kick boards and feasting on the crumbs that inevitably live on our kitchen floor, but I did wonder how the my son will react next time he finds one in the garden.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Social Grandparents

I recently had a birthday.  Not a big one, nothing too special, but I think the last time husband and I properly went out for dinner (and by ‘properly’ I mean I actually wore a dress and heels) was for my birthday last year.

This year, I guess I had hopes that we might make it out again.  However, what I forgot is these days, grandparents are busy people.  Both sets of available grandparents had parties to go to on the Saturday night and then needed Sunday to recover and Sunday night to get to sleep early for work on Monday.

Something doesn’t feel right about this.  I’m in my thirties and have zero social life.  Any time I want to go out I have to book in a date about a month in advance to fit in with the oldies’ packed social calendar.  Some are so busy working, socialising and having fun that they are never around.  This is a problem that is rife these days.  I have friends who are desperate to go out as a couple but only get to do so on Wednesday evenings or in an afternoon as the grandparents are far too busy Friday and Saturday nights. 

I seem to recall my grandparents being retired.  They did the garden, read the paper and if they went out, it was to meet friends in town for a cup of tea, or a doctor’s appointment.  They were dependably ‘in’ at all times.  In fact, I seem to remember my Mum being in a bit of a tizz if the phone wasn’t answered.  No answer meant they couldn’t hear it from the garden or, if it was raining, they were clearly lying on the floor half dead.

Of course, I am pleased that the grandparents are getting out and enjoying life, especially now they are free of their own children.  I look forward to that part of my life.  But, I wouldn’t mind being out after dark on a Saturday again sometime this year.

Saturday, 31 March 2012

Cutting the Clutter

One of my main goals this year is to do more.  Over the past few months I have realised that a lot of this is to do with productivity – using my time more effectively – so I can fit in the things I want to do and stop wasting time on things that don’t help me to enjoy life more.

I am really pleased so far with what I have achieved and I plan to report on that soon.  For now though, I wanted to share with you a great find.  Idly browsing the magazine shelves in my local WH Smith’s I found a gem of a magazine book.  Called “Organizing” it is part of ‘The best of Martha Stewart Living’ series.  Now, being British, I barely know who Martha Stewart is, and really don’t care either.  However, she appears to be one organised lady.  It took a while to absorb all its loveliness at once but I just couldn’t put it down.  I am someone who does love organising:  people, stuff, I don’t really mind what.  I like things to have a place.  I like tidy rooms and believe that it does influence my state of mind. 

As someone who is trying to work from home, I am finding this truer than ever.  I am not lucky enough to have a study or home office so I have to find a space in the usual living area of the house.  It is difficult to clear my mind and settle down to something when there is clutter everywhere.

I think that’s why this appealed to me when I saw it.  Being back at home with the little one after being in the office is opening my eyes to ways the house doesn’t work as well as it could.   After reading “Organizing” I managed to get the motivation to tackle some specific key areas of the house and I was surprised by how quickly I was able to do it and, more importantly, how much difference it made.

Back in January I persuaded husband to help me reorganise the kitchen and I am really pleased that we did it.  Once I realised how much easier things would be, it was a no-brainer to give up an hour or so to change things around.  However, after reading my Martha Stewart treasure, I have taken it one step further and re-discovered an unused drawer in the kitchen.  Then I made dividers for another drawer from tubs and boxes I already had in the house.  This won’t save much time when cooking, but may save a lot of swearing and scratches on my arm as I wrestle with utensils to find the right measuring spoon. 

I have also organised the hallway spot where all the keys and bits and bobs get left (you have one too, I know you do!).  I have made husband put another shelf up in the lounge, allowing me to put more things away properly.  I then spent 20 minutes making two caddies for the table out of an old box.  This got rid of a box that was lying around ‘in case we needed it’ and now husband and I each have somewhere to put the cr*p we accumulate on the dining table.  At work, this might be called a ‘pending ‘ tray.  Now, when there is too much ‘pending’ we know it’s time to have an empty out and they can be quickly removed to the new shelf when we need space on the table instead of having a wobbly pile.

For the rest of the book, I will just dream about having a house that has so much space to organise. 
Overall, my fiver was well spent as this is a publication I will keep for a long, long time.  I will aim to revisit it every year just to make sure I am doing as much as I can to keep my house in order.