TUESDAY'S 10: 10 Top Tips for Moving House


movinghouse.jpg

Moving house is a big ordeal... Whether you are moving across town, across the country or even around the world, it is never a simple task. It's daunting, emotional, overwhelming and hard work... but it is also promising, rewarding and exciting.

The key to a successful move is to plan it properly, get some help and try (I said try!) to stay calm. If you can afford to pay a company to wrap, pack and move everything then set up your new home for you as well, go for it and save yourself a few wrinkles! But let's assume that if you're reading this you're doing it yourselves. I have moved more times in my life than I can even count - this is our 11th home in 10 years - and with each move, we learn another lesson or two. To help you out, here are ten tips I jotted down whilst in the midst of our recent move:

1. BE PREPARED!

If ever there was a time to use that girl scout training, this is it. Moving doesn't just happen overnight and you need to plan things out, get organised, make lists and be prepared. (Even for the most disorganised, there are numerous printables out there to keep you on track.) Do as much as you can in advance, sort through cupboards, drawers and shelves getting rid of anything you don't really need. Letting go can be a hard part of moving, but ridding yourself of excess baggage really is quite a cathartic process. Donate to charity, sell things online, gift to grateful friends or just throw some things out. You'll feel lighter and better for it.  

2. Buy decent boxes and plenty of tape

You'll find that boxes don't go a long way and quickly pile up once you start emptying your home. Similarly, there never seems to be enough tape. You'll always need more than you think and collecting odd boxes from supermarkets etc will just result in a hugely chaotic pile of stuff. Investing in decent boxes really is so worthwhile as you can reuse them next time, stack them neatly, store them if necessary and just feel a lot more organised. It also makes the actual process of moving an easier job. Ours have been reused so many times by ourselves and friends - hopefully one day soon we'll no longer need them and can pass any surviving ones along for good.

3. Get some help

It's a big job and you can't do it alone. Draft in some trusted strong friends and pay them with pizza and beer at the other end, people really are happy to help if you ask them. Alternatively, get professional movers in to do the heavy lifting and moving. The expense will be worth it and you'll save yourself a lot of time, stress and potential injuries.

4. Pack a "Starter Box"

When you get to your new, empty house, what will you need? What's the first thing you (or the kids) will want to do? Pack a box/bag/laundry basket that you take in the car with you or that is clearly labelled as the first to be opened up. Include the following:

  • Toilet roll
  • Hand soap & hand towels
  • Bin bags
  • Paper plates & cups
  • Tissues & wet wipes
  • Scissors & sharp knife
  • Some basic cutlery (knife for spreading, teaspoons for making tea)
  • Tea-towels & washing up liquid
  • Kettle & toaster 
  • Mugs
  • Local takeaway menus - you'll be too tired to even think of making dinner but will want to know where to get food from!
basic supplies

basic supplies

5. Have an easy-food bag

Many a crisis was solved over tea and toast! Moving house doesn't allow much time or ease for food prep but you'll keep everyone happy with a few basic drinks and snacks. Toast is always a winner so pack some bread and favourite spreads. Biscuits, muesli bars, fruit, nuts and crackers will be lifesavers on a long day. Remember the teabags, bottled water, juice and cans of coke for the movers and last but not least, make sure you include a bottle of wine and some yummy nibbles for the evening when you finally collapse. Wine glasses optional, paper cups perfectly acceptable. 

Quick lunch and some wine for the evening

Quick lunch and some wine for the evening

6. Pack an overnight bag each

You never know how long the move will take and how soon you'll be able to find pyjamas, clean clothes and toiletries! Act as if you're going away for a casual weekend and pack an overnight bag each with your essentials for a couple of days just in case. This will take the pressure off having to find everything right away.

Overnight bags at the ready

Overnight bags at the ready

7. Make sure bedding is easily accessible

As above, make sure your bedding is clearly labelled and easily accessible. As long as you can fit the mattresses on the floor and have sheets to go on them, you'll have a place to fall into at the end of a long hard day. The actual building of beds can wait a few days. 

8. Have your vacuum cleaner and cleaning box at the ready

As much as we'd all like to move into a shiny, sparkly new home this is very often not the case and there will always be things that need cleaning before you start unpacking. Or at the very least, once you've finished the actual moving-in stage and have gone through a few boxes, you'll be grateful for that vacuum cleaner.

 9. Focus on one box/area at a time

It is so easy to get swept up in the amount of things to do, boxes to unpack and things to find new homes for that it can quickly become overwhelming. Everywhere is a mess and chaos reigns! From personal experience I can't stress enough how much more satisfying it is to simply choose one area to focus on and to fully unpack one box at a time. Whether you choose the bathroom, kitchen, living room, kids room or master bedroom - whatever seems most important at the time, by focusing on creating one calm and organised space, it will make the rest seem a lot more manageable.

 10. Pack the kids an activity kit

Kids are great little helpers when moving house and can be drafted in for various jobs. They love feeling useful and nothing quite compares to the joy of playing in the empty boxes during the process...

Happy little packing pixies

Happy little packing pixies

However, there are a lot of times when they can't help getting in the way and are better otherwise occupied. So pack them an activity kit with some easy things to keep them busy (that won't create too much mess and they don't need any help with) and they'll happily let you get on with it for a while. Here are some ideas to include:

  • Colouring/activity books and pencils
  • Sidewalk chalk
  • Pack of cards
  • New storybook
  • Wooden puzzle
  • Ball

I hope this has been helpful, feel free to share any of your own moving tips in the comments below.

Happy Moving!

Love Holly x

 

TUESDAY'S 10: 10 Household Tips For Lemons


Photo by Nicola Inglis

All month we have been focusing on lemons... for baking, cooking, choosing treats at coffee shops and out & about. These zesty little fruits are great for so much more than just culinary inspiration however and can be used in a myriad of ways. Here are 10 quick tips on using them around the house.

10 Household Tips For Lemons:

  1. If you have a waste disposal system, chop up a lemon into small chunks and grind to make your sink smell lemony fresh.
  2. To get rid of garlic, onion, fish and other strong odours from chopping boards (or your hands!), rub with half a lemon, let dry then rinse with cold water.
  3. Add lemon peel - pith and pulp removed - to brown sugar to keep it moist and stop it from clumping.
  4. Use lemon juice as a disinfectant for kitchen and bathroom sinks and surfaces. The juice kills bacteria in a natural way and smells a lot better than chemical cleaning products.
  5. Clean silver and brass by mixing lemon juice with bicarbonate soda into a paste, rub on with a soft cloth, leave for a few minutes then wash off with warm dish-soapy water.
  6. Make your own furniture polish by mixing 1 cup of olive oil with 1/2 cup of strained lemon juice in a sealable jar. Dab onto a clean cloth and polish as normal - the lemon juice is great for getting rid of grime whilst the olive oil nourishes the wood and gives a lovely shine. (Do not use on highly polished wooden furniture though!)
  7. To remove stubborn tea, coffee or limescale stains from cups and glasses, make a solution of equal parts water and lemon juice, let sit in the cup or glass for several hours then wash as usual.
  8. Freshen up your dishwasher by squashing half a lemon onto one the prongs. The acid will help degrease your dishwasher and the fresh smell will last several cycles.
  9. To help keep your white washing white, harness the bleaching power of lemons. Add the juice of one lemon to your normal wash cycle for a standard size load, more or less as required.
  10. Remove fruit stains from clothes by squeezing lemon juice on them before washing - brilliant results!

Happy Experimenting,

Love Holly x

Photo by Nicola Inglis

Photo by Nicola Inglis

 

Compact Living


I decided I would take my own overused advice to begin this section of the blog - well, Arthur Ashe's actually as he's the one who said "Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can!"  

So as much as I would love to be posting about beautifully spacious homes, elegant decor and well thought out colour schemes, at this precise point in our lives, this little compact unit is where we temporarily call home - and we have actually come to quite love it. We measured it out yesterday and including the garage it is an 83m2 little box. To be more precise, 66m2 of living space that includes 2 bedrooms, a shower room, a kitchen/living room, a hallway and a laundry cupboard cleverly built in. The previous rental home we'd been in for over 2 years sold overnight without even making it on to the market - the agents said we'd made it look too nice, but it seemed pretty bland and empty the day we moved out! Anyway, we didn't have much time to find anywhere else. That was a large 4 bedroom, 2 bathroom, 2 living areas, large kitchen dining room, double garage house, so unsurprisingly this was a bit of a squeeze! Luckily it came with a handy parking spot meaning that we could very cleverly pack up the garage in a well planned out Tetris manner to keep the majority of our things stored away for the duration of our 6 months or so here. Moving in day was a bit of a headache and there was a lot of packing, repacking, manoeuvring, back & forth, in & out before we could finally close the garage door and take a seat amongst the boxes and furniture that was somehow supposed to remain inside...

The living room/kitchen at the top, both bedrooms, entrance way, garage & hallway/laundry area

The living room/kitchen at the top, both bedrooms, entrance way, garage & hallway/laundry area

First thing was first, we had to get the girls bunkbeds built so they had somewhere to sleep while we tackled the living area. We didn't mind spending the first night on a mattress on the floor but for all of you out there with children, you'll know what I mean when I say often it's just easier when they are in their own beds. Whilst Simon built the beds I emptied their wardrobe and bookshelf boxes, found the rug and before they knew it, they had a bedroom and happily went straight to sleep that night. The next morning while they were at school and kindergarten I decided to finish their room off (they really had been very well behaved and predominantly patient during the whole move). I blue-tacked their names on the door, put up some bunting & pompom fairy lights, hid toys away in baskets under the bed, set up their play kitchen, emptied the cushion & teddies box and put their name pictures on the wall. I know it's all just "stuff", but it really does transform a space. When they came home and had a look, they were delighted and said "It looks like home!". Phew - one job well done! Now go and play while I find some plates to eat off for dinner...     

5th Ave Girls BR PicMonkey Collage.jpg

The Living/Kitchen area was well underway, but I knew it would take a few more days at least to get through all the boxes we thought we "needed", find room for everything or try and find more invisible space for them in the garage. So I decided we might as well build our bed and get that room set up as well. One bright yellow lamp, a matching picture frame, a fragrant candle, a happy cushion, a pinboard for all the notes and pictures the girls would no doubt be making and a quick hop, skip and a twirl later... Voila! We now at least had somewhere to sleep and a place to get away from the boxes. 

Arabella cut out and made a grass collage for the string - "because we don't have a garden anymore Mummy."  

Arabella cut out and made a grass collage for the string - "because we don't have a garden anymore Mummy."  

OK, admittedly it was quite a bit more than just a few days before our living area resembled a home space! We did manage to squeeze a few more things into the garage, we took some boxes to the charity shop, sold a bit more on trademe (NZ equivalent of ebay), weeded down to the bare minimum and worked out what we could put on the walls with invisible Command fixtures.

We decided our main two features would be the fibre panel board we'd covered in striped fabric for behind the TV in our previous home (as this could sit on the big chest of drawers), and one of our favourite pieces of Art "Lollipop Trees" by the very lovely Janet Bell (light enough to hang with Command strips). Janet is a wonderfully talented Artist - definitely worthwhile checking out her site - who lives on Anglesey in Wales just down the road from my Dad & Stepmum (in their best friend's gorgeous old house incidentally.) We met whilst I was pregnant with Arabella and I fell in love with this piece that was hanging in her gallery. She was moving to a larger space and needed some new shelving built, so Simon solved her problem by designing and building them for her and she gave us a good deal on this original canvas that we have lovingly treasured ever since.   

Palette dining table and measuring ruler, both built by Mr Fix It, dining chairs, side tables & various cushions by my good self

Palette dining table and measuring ruler, both built by Mr Fix It, dining chairs, side tables & various cushions by my good self

Palette table modified (see Projects), toy box, lamp, fabric board, patchwork cushion - all Potter Productions

Palette table modified (see Projects), toy box, lamp, fabric board, patchwork cushion - all Potter Productions

We couldn't fit our dining table in, so decided to use the palette table Simon had made for outside at our previous home. After a few days it was clear that all the crumbs falling through the gaps and at least one messy little eater would just be a constant cause of drama if we didn't think of something... So Mr fix It in his ever practical problem-solving manner decided to get a piece of perspex cut to fit the top. I originally thought of putting pretty fabric or wallpaper underneath, but that very same day we brought home a file full of Kindergarten artwork. As I was photographing it for Lucy's end of year project, I thought to myself that a lot of it was too nice to simply put in a folder. There and then my grown up trendy wallpaper/fabric idea went out the window and the art table was born - much to both girl's delight!

Living in this compact, cosy space after coming from bigger houses has been a great lesson in patience, compromise, teamwork and more than anything figuring out what we actually need and what we can do without. It has been a reminder of European apartment living, where clever storage is key and there is only room for those things that you absolutely love. Moving house is always a cathartic process of paring down and shedding excess baggage but this extended period of doing without most of the stuff we thought we needed has proven even more so that we can happily do without. Obviously there are some things we have missed and wish we could get to in the garage (winter coats seem to have been buried somewhere!), but not having everything visible has made us enjoy the things that we do have around us more. We have been more productive, spent more quality family time together - good job we all love each other! - and since we can clean the whole place in an hour or less, there is more time for things like walking to the park, getting out to enjoy the weather or simply playing a boardgame/crafting/baking with the girls on rainy days. When we do come to buy or build our own home eventually, we will definitely bear in mind that less is indeed more.

The other lesson we have been reminded of is that any house can be transformed into a home. It doesn't matter where we find ourselves, how big or small a house we live in or how much money we do or don't have. It is what we do with what we have that makes all the difference! The furniture that we have lovingly upcycled, the wardrobe that Simon built for the girls from a picture I ripped out of a French magazine when we couldn't afford to buy something new, the dining table that all of our nearest and dearest have spent uncountable happy hours around, the chairs, bunting, kids artwork, cushions and other treasures that we have made, been given or collected over the years... These are the things we carry with us like a snail shell on our back that make our house feel like a home. They may have become slightly scratched, worn, chipped and a bit beaten around the edges with every additional move - much like ourselves - but we treasure them all the same and look forward to creating our next lovely home when we move on again...

What advice do you have for small space living? What favourite pieces have you come to treasure over the years? 

Love Holly x

PS: I will follow this up with my "Top 10 Tips for making the most of rentals".