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Archive for the category “House tidy-up”

Feng shui Bagua – home arrangement (1)

Feng shui literally means ‘wind: 風’ and water ‘水’ in Chinese, which are considered to be two most paramount elements of nature.  It deals with how to balance and create the harmonious flow of the energies in the space you inhabit and all the things that surround yourself to ensure the health and good fortune come to you, just like the flow of water and wind. On a practical level, it gives you a good guideline how to arrange your daily elements in your house and helps you declutter things which block the flow of the energies.

I notice that on recent years Feng Shui has become very fashionable in the West, which reminds me of this neurotic Spanish woman I saw on  TVE1’s ‘Comando Actualidad’ the other day. She was interviewing a Filipino couple for the live-in domestic help position and showed them around the house explaining what has to be done on a daily basis. Then she told the couple in a very firm and condescending manner that this furniture must not be moved even 1 millimeter while cleaning because the whole layout was very strictly Feng Shui-ed! I OMG. I had to laugh.

source: google image

In order to apply Feng Shui in an easy and funcional way to your home, in fact this is the main reason of this post, I recommend the Feng Shui (風水) Bagua (八卦) , which means ‘wind’ ‘water’ ‘eight’ ‘areas’ altogether. The Feng Shui Bagua is a map of how energy moves within any given space. Natural flow like wind and water in eight areas of life which serve the centre ‘Health/Well-being’
Your home is sectioned as below and each square represents an aspect of life .

source: google image

The important thing is that your front door should be aligned with the bottom three, either knowledge, Career or Helpful People. You will understand better if you look at the diagram below.

source: google image

 There is a wealth of information on the net if you want to know more about each individual segment of the Bagua. I will link two web pages. This and This. 🙂

Basically, if you have a particularly cluttered area in your house as per the Bagua map above, it requires your urgent attention.  You see? The Feng Shui Bagua is naturally destined to decluttering. 

So how did I apply it to my home?
More importantly, is it working? 

1. Fame & Health (Well-being)

When I analysed my floor plan to the Feng Shui Bagua map, what I began to do was to clear out Health (Well-being) area. This is foremost as it affects every aspect of your life. 

I had a L-shaped kitchen unit with a small breakfast table attached on top and a yellow cabinet housing all sort of expensive crystals and plates facing the side of the unit at the borderline between Health and Career.

It created a little alleyway from the study to the kitchen. But it was a bit obstructive for big, tall and wonky-walking Mark. First thing first. I cleared out ancient stuff inside the unit. It’s like a hidden world. The inner space was difficult to reach and the stuff inside was totally forgotten and deserted. I cleared out most of the clutter and moved keepers close to the door so that I could reach any time when I needed. I also moved the yellow cabinet further into ‘Health’ and filled it with more day-to-day items.

Now we have a spacious passage which flows better to the kitchen and to the living/dining area. My kitchen is spotless and I only have what I need in this area. You can refer to my previous post regarding Kitchen here.

My kitchen is in ‘Fame’ and most of ‘Health’. So I should be famous by now, shouldn’t I? Haha, nah. ‘Fame’ represents not just popularity, but also aspiration, self-esteem and self-perception. I think I’m becoming a lot clearer about what I’m good at and what I’m enjoying the most. When it come to ‘Health’, we eat better and healthier. My fridge is less crowded. I have used up a big chunk of food stock. So far so good. I hope this keeps on working and Mark is given the all clear this May.

2. Career

Our front entrance is somewhere between ‘Career’ and ‘Helpful People (travel)’. Apparently this is good. The energy come through from the door to ‘Career’.

The major part of ‘Career’ is our study area. Well it’s mostly used by Mark. There is a long desk where half of it is taken up by a computer and the other half by Mark’s hobby things. A small metal cabinet is on the left side which stores important paperwork and documents, and another cabinet on the right side, which recently relocated from the bathroom, is being used as a display unit for Mark’s small models and figures. Before it was moved, there used to be CD racks installed into the wall and I hated them. I took them off and moved the CDs to the living room, just right next to the stereo. It felt fantastic.

However, I still have my doubts about ‘Career’. Perhaps because I haven’t been feeling fantastic about how my career progresses at the moment. I guess Mark’s career seems to benefit more from the ‘Career’ energy. Maybe the fact that this area contains barely nothing of mine demonstrates detachment and nonchalance towards my job?  Whatever it is, I will need to work on this area a bit more. There is a small alcove on the left side of the desk which is hidden by a curtain. I know the shelf units inside require good clearing out –  so I will start from there.

(To be continued)


Declutter! (3) : Wardrobe


We all have something to say about it, don’t we?

I would like to talk about ‘wardrobe’. Here ‘wardrobe’ means absolutely everything with which you can put on when you leave your house, such as clothes, shoes, bags, accesories, hats, etc.

I believe that for a girl your wardrobe runs far deeper than you may think. It generally reflects who you are as a person but also shows the current or specific issues you have right now. Just from my personal experience, I could write a dissertation about it (I may in the future if time permits! lol), but today I will focus on the topic – How to declutter your wardrobe?

Firstly, we need to do a wardrobe audit.

Analyse what you’ve got. Buy a reporter’s pad (A5 notepad) and make a little chart and bullet point a few headings:

1. Items I love and wear frequently.
2. Items I love but don’t wear very often.
3. Items I’ve never worn.
4. Items I don’t wear any more.

And start writing down the characteristics of each items and reasons in details. If you like a particular combination, write down that too. Make a complete look including shoes, bag and accessories. It is also a good idea to put in a little drawing with coloured pencils.

You will be surprised to see a quite interesting pattern in each category.

You will realise that you’ve never worn the jacket you bought from the last winter sale because you don’t have the right skirt to go with. You have a perfectly nice pencil skirt but it makes your bum looks bigger. You’ve got a beautiful jumper as its own but it’s a difficult colour to match with any of your trousers you own. Maybe the turquoise top you bought from Next makes you look even paler. How about the pair of sexy kill heels that gives you nasty humongous blisters every time you wear it?

By analysing your wardrobe, you will find out 1) flattering colours 2) the whole coordination as a ‘look’ 3) best cuts/patterns to say the least.

Caution for #2: There may be some items strictly for certain occasions – formal parties, funerals, balls, you know what I mean. I deliberately keep certain items aside so that I don’t mix them for day to day use and wear them appropriately and neatly when an occasion arises.

Obviously what you need to focus on is the first items – the ones you love and wear frequently – and to eliminate the rest .

Keep the note pad handy and remember when you’re tempted to buy a spangled skimpy top you see at Top Shop. Don’t make a costly mistake again!

However, to wear them with a style, i.e. to be a fashionista, is a different matter all together. That should be in a different post ‘how to look stylish’ which I may write some time later. You could read books/magazines or even hire a stylist if you are very serious about it. What I usually do is that I take a photo of any look I like, either from a magazine or street, with my iPhone and save it under my Fashion folder. That way I have something to refer to in order to get some inspiration.

When you’ve done a thorough analysis, it’s time to get rid of rubbish. I know it sounds harsh but here rubbish means that items you don’t wear (maybe never/any more). It doesn’t matter how much you paid for in the first place, but if you don’t wear them for whatever reasons that falls into rubbish.

If there is any item that you haven’t worn for the last three years, time to chuck. You can give away to charity shops or your friends, or even sell them. It’s better find somebody who can give life to your unloved stuff. Don’t think twice, just get them out of your sight. The fashion might come back? Yes it might. However, unless you’re Rachel Zoe, it’s impossible to pull off that look with your OLD (not vintage) items. You can buy them again if you like that fashion so much. Let them go and free up your precious space. Items you have immense sentimental value attached to? Take photos and write down everything about it – when you bought it, where you wore it, how much you paid for it, things you liked about and so on. Make an album (online preferably) then off it goes.

Once you’ve finished a wardrobe decluttering, you will be left with all the items you love.

Look after them. Keep them in mint condition so that you always feel great in them.

Declutter! (2) : Kitchen

I will start with the kitchen.

I’ve got a very spacious work top area because I only own and leave out things I use all the time. There are a chunky wooden chopping board, a microwave, a kettle and a toaster. That’s probably it. I think I’ll put away the toaster very soon as Mark seems to enjoy cereal bars more these days for breakfast. I would never have bought a microwave myself but it was a present from my friend and somebody in the family uses it. I drink lots of herbal teas, hence a kettle is a must.

I don’t have upper cupboard units. Instead, I’ve installed a square utensil rack and a small herb rack on the wall to the right side of my cooker. I’ve got countable plates, utensils, pots and pans and they are all well used. I buy a new thing because I need to replace the existing one or I absolutely need it for a long-term period.

Once you’ve done minimising the number of things you own, the next most important thing to keep your kitchen tidy is to clean used plates and cuttleries immediately after using them. Wash and dry them. Then put them away in their place. That way, your sink and the area around is always nice and clean. Also you can heat the water in the used sauce pan (using the remaining heat of your cooker) and use it for a washing-up, it even saves your electricity bills. I spray dettol afterwards and later scrub the whole sink. 

I don’t like a crowded fridge. I do a weekly grocery shopping on Saturdays. I buy a certain items in Spain and others in Gibraltar depending on the quality and the price.

I tend to plan ahead and buy what I need. I briefly jot down what I’m going to cook over the week . Then I decide what I need to buy and make a list. I also check what’s left in the fridge and see if there’s anything I can add to make the leftover useful. What I buy every week are eggs, soya milk /milk, various beans, pasta/rice/root veges, fruits, breakfast cereals, drinks/water, and chicken/fish/meat. Unless necessary don’t jump at ‘buy one get one free’ products. They tend to go to waste and are less precious to enjoy. Likewise, don’t be tempted to overstock. The world is not going to shut down tomorrow and no tuna company is going to stop making tuna tins.

Oh, don’t go to a supermarket on an empty stomach, you will end up making loads of impulsive purchases.

Since we both work full-time, I always go for something very simple and quick to cook. If I cook from a recipe and it’s delicious, I write a little note and any variations I’ve made to the recipe. If I improvise from whatever I’ve got left in the fridge and it’s successful, I write down a recipe on my iphone note app. That way I can cook again sometime later. Well, if I have a chance, I will post a list of recipes separately.

When I don’t feel like cooking at all, my saviours are pasta or rice in a sachet and Korean instant noodles. They are quick and yummy.


 In summary, to keep your kitchen tidy and clean:

1) Only own what you need and when you buy let one or two go. It applies to plates, cuttleries, electronic appliances, utensils, you can name it.

2)  Plan it before going to a supermarket. Buy what you need and don’t be fooled by buy one get one free products.  

3) Be efficient. Clean along as you cook.

Declutter! (1) : Simple life

I like simple living.
I like tidiness, cleaness and orderliness.
Don’t worry I don’t have obsessive compulsive disorder. 🙂

Since I left home a million years ago, I’ve done a fair share of moving about due to studies, jobs, and etc. I hated the idea of carrying loads of stuff with me whenever I had to move. Come to think of it, even when I was a child, I wasn’t particularly emotionally attached to personal possessions either. I loved the function it provided but once I had grown out of it or I stopped using it, I’ve had no problem of getting rid of it.

For example, I used to play the piano. My dad bought me a nice black piano when I was 5 years old and since then it was a big part of my life. Then I went to middle school and high school, I began to play less and less and realised I’d done my playing piano bit in my life. Time to move on. Therefore, when my family moved to a new house, I told my mum that she could sell the piano. She was shocked. Well, she was upset as well that I said it like ‘I’m sleepy.’ or ‘I’m hungry.’ kind of tone. She asked me numerous times if I really meant it. She threatened(!) me and enticed me to change my mind but I was never affected. She sold it and still talks about it how cold I sounded at that time. That was over 20 years ago and I’ve never thought about my piano nostalgically. There are many interesting episodes of my ‘decisiveness’ from my childhood, my mom remembers.

My flat is always clean and shiny. I’m not 100% sure what the measurements are. It’s probably about 7-80 square meters. It’s large enough for two. The previous owner had three children and needed many different rooms. We’ve made it a large one-bed room apartment when we got married.

When I get up in the morning, I dry mop the floor and wet wipe the target room. There are only 4 areas/rooms in my house. One bedroom, one bathroom, one rectangular area where kitchen and study at both ends, and another rectangular area which makes up living room plus dining room. To keep your house clean and bright, the size does matter. If my flat is larger than this I won’t be able to clean it the way I do right now. Also another equally important thing is the number of items you own in your place. Everything counts. How many plates do you have? How many pieces of furniture do you have? All in all, how much cluttur have you accumulated in your space?

For me, it only takes 15 minutes max or even less to tidy up my home every morning and it is truly enjoyable. Having a real santuary is so energising. A good thing is that it’s one of my personal requirements which I posted here.

Well you could get a cleaner to do it, but I know all the items I have in my house and they please me. Hence, it is my pleasure to return my TLC to them.

Since I’ve now established my decluttering method, I would like to share a few tips. This is my own way and works brilliantly for me. Before I start, I want to emphasise this principle first.

Ownership comes with a price tag. It’s called ‘maintenance’.
The more expensive, the higher the maintenance.

It didn’t really matter when I was still dependent because my parents took care of most of that part. However when I started earning a living, I began to realise whatever I owned, if I wanted it the way it initially came, I had to make an effort. Mind you, efforts come in different shapes and sizes. They can be money, time, physical caring, or a combination of any of the aforementioned, and so on.

(To be continued)

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