Dee’s Tips ...

How to stop unwanted gifts…

Inform your friends and family that this year you would like to receive ‘Experience Gifts’…what are they you may ask, well they are different for everyone, here are a few examples:

  1. A Balloon Ride
  2. Horse Riding Lessons
  3. Guitar or Piano Lesson
  4. A Gift Voucher
  5. Cream Tea For Two
  6. Restaurant Vouchers
  7. Beauty Therapy Vouchers
  8. Trip to Lego Land 
  9. Trip to Harry Potter Land
  10. Voucher for a Nail Bar

Let the goal be to stop ‘STUFF’ coming into your home and cluttering you up.

Blocking Cupboards…a big ‘No-No’…

Don’t put furniture in-front of cupboard doors, any obstruction will only result in ‘items’ being piled up outside the door because it is too much of a pain to move the obstruction.

If you have the budget…engage a cleaner…

Where is it written that you have to do ‘everything’.…it truly isn’t, so if you have the budget, engage a cleaner. If you don’t have the budget why not clean your friends house, whilst she cleans yours? 

You could get a group of friends to do the same thing, get a rotation going - keep it interesting.

Wooden utensils…

Dry wooden utensils with a tea-towel instead of letting them air dry. Residual moisture from washing will get absorbed into the wood, causing the wood to swell and crack over time.  

Zap Your Dishcloths and Sponges…

DID YOU KNOW…two minutes in a microwave can kill 99 per cent of germs harboured by kitchen sponges. So at least once a day, pop damp dishcloths and sponges in the microwave.

How often should you replace your pillow?

Replace your pillow every six months. Why? Because dirt, oil, mites and dead skin can build up in older pillows.

How Old is Your Toothbrush..?

Did you know you should replace your toothbrush every 3 months? Studies show that after three months of normal wear and tear, toothbrushes are much less effective at removing plaque from teeth and gums compared to new ones. 

Toothbrushes can be breeding grounds for germs, fungus and bacteria, which after a while can build up to significant levels. It is also important to change toothbrushes after you’ve had a cold, the flu, a mouth infection or a sore throat. That’s because germs can hide in toothbrush bristles and lead to reinfection.

Pyrex…what’s the secret..?

Did you know that pyrex ovenware has been specially heat treated, which makes it non-recyclable.

Lego Instructions Storage…

Store Lego instructions in a binder with page protector sleeves, easy for little ones to find the one they want.

Clean Cutlery Drawer…?


How do crumbs get into the cutlery drawer? It’s a mystery, yet they do, and what do we do? We take beautifully clean cutlery and put it in this unhygienic drawer, which is most likely full of all kinds of nasty bacteria.

So, do make this part of your regular cleaning maintenance; clean and disinfect, after all, we do put these tools in our mouths.

Use up your wool…

If you’ve stopped knitting because you don’t have anyone to knit for…but you still have lots of wool, why not knit for the Cats Protection Charity, you can knit blankets or cute little mice.  

Use up that wool and do some good with it, just having it cluttering up your home is not doing you any good and it’s not serving its purpose, so get involved, and support this great charity.

Or if you don’t want to knit yourself, you can donate the wool to the ‘knitters’ at Cats Protection and they will knit the items for themselves.

Stratford Upon Avon’s most local centre is in Evesham, the contact there is Fran Holder, and she would be very pleased to accept the wool and could pass it on to knitters who would be very grateful.

Cats Protection is the UK’s leading feline welfare charity. Their vision is a world where every cat is treated with kindness and an understanding of its needs.

Let Go of your Stash of old Birthday and Christmas cards…

Imagine what good they could do in this world, were you to let them go to recycling. May be they would become a medical text-book, that ultimately inspires a young woman to become a doctor. 

Or perhaps they will become Pamphlet’s for the Princes Trust which will help countless young people aged 13 to 30 get into jobs, education and training.

So let them go, they don’t define you, your actions do.

We wear 20% of our Wardrobe 80% of the time…

We have too many clothes. So we need to let some go, but how do we identify the clothes to clear out? Simple, hang all your clothes with the hangers in the reverse direction. After you wear an item, return it to the wardrobe with the hanger facing the correct direction. After twelve months, all the hangers still facing the wrong way are the clothes you haven’t worn for twelve months! These are the clothes to let go.

The killer in our kitchen’s…

Dishcloths and sponges are known to breed microbes such as E. coli and salmonella, that can cause potentially lethal food poisoning.  Scientists have discovered that two minutes in the microwave can kill 99 per cent of the germs harboured by kitchen sponges!

Select your ties in advance…

Make life easier on yourself by selecting your ties for your ironed shirts at the weekend, thereby reducing the things ‘to do’ on a work day morning.


Make use of your cracked and broken crockery…

We all have them, our special mug, our favourite plate, but the mug is chipped and the plate has a crack in it; that’s not such a bad thing is it?, well actually, yes, it is. Broken dishes can harbour bacteria and increase your exposure to lead; so my advice is to remove all damage crockery and make use of it elsewhere.

Recently I helped a couple declutter their kitchen and we removed a fair bit of broken china. After explaining the dangers of eating and drinking from these items, they were happy to let them go.

I recommend you go through you cupboards and remove all broken and chipped china and do something useful with it. Recently I made a Mediterranean Herb Bed with broken bits of crockery, some of which I removed from a clients house, they were very happy it was going to be recycled and useful.

I need more storage…

No, you don’t need more storage, you simply need less stuff.

Where are the dogs leads…!!!?

How many times have you asked in frustration, where something is?  If you simply have a Place for Everything and keep everything in it’s place, you will always know where to find it, when you need it.

Imagine how wonderfully liberating that would be; so in the words of Jean Luc Picard, “Make it so!”

The Dishwasher…

Put the dishwasher on before bedtime and empty it as the kettle boils for breakfast!

It is a discipline, but this will allow you to put your dirty dishes straight into the dishwasher throughout the day so your counters stay clutter free.

Turn your mind off and just do it…

Wiz-around at Witching-hour…


To keep clutter under control I recommend you grab a basket twice a day and starting in one room, gather up all items that don’t belong in that room, returning them to where they do actually belong.

Read more on how to do this here...


Bring Forward System for the Home…

In an office situation, most PA’s will operate a Bring Forward system which is essentially a tool to bring forward items that need to be handled at a future date. This could be papers for a meeting, travel tickets, agenda’s, reminders for the PA to action, papers to be actioned on a certain date etc.

Because of the sheer quantity in an ‘office situation’ Bring Forward’ systems usually take up an entire drawer in a filing cabinet.

In the home situation, we tend not to have some much volume, however we still require a ‘domestic’ solution for all the items that need to be ‘actioned’ - in the future. For example, bills to be paid by a certain date, reminders for school, birthday cards to be written, tickets for events etc.

For me there is nothing better than the Pagna Organiser. It is separated into two sections, at the back you have the months of the year, January - December and at the front you have the days of the month 1-31.

So how it work’s is really simple; say you have tickets for Wimbledon Tennis, they arrived in early May, but Wimbledon doesn’t start until late June, so where do you keep them so they don’t get lost and in a place you can always find things?…answer - in your ‘Pagna‘. You would slot them in behind the month of June, because that is the Bring Forward month you will need them. Then when the 1st June arrives, you go to your Pagna and take everything out under the ‘June’ slot and distribute each item behind the appropriate date when you need to retrieve the item.



Use sandwich bags to keep your hosiery organised…


Once you have opened the packaging and worn your stockings or tights, how do you store them to keep them free of snagging? Answer: a cheap solutions is sandwich bags. Get the ones with fold-over-tops as opposed to these ones, so that they do not snag the contents.

Fold your clothes perfectly every time…


Invest in a Flipfold so your clothes are perfectly folded and looking beautiful. They are also available via Amazon.

You will no doubt notice that there are cheaper options, my advice would be not to buy these, as I have found they are an inferior product and brake within a short time.

The Family ‘Stairs Rule’…

Agree with all members of your family never to pass anything that has been left on the stairs for, ‘going up’, without picking it up and taking it to where it belongs. Don’t allow ‘I didn’t know where it was supposed to go, so I left it…”; or “I didn’t see itbe acceptable excuses - if they don’t know - they should ask - only by asking will they learn and if everything has ‘its place’ it won’t take long for them to learn.

Try a reward system with children. Have a jar for each child and for every good or kind thing they do, write it on a Post-It note and fold it up and put it in the jar. You can decide at the end of the week how to reward your child based on the number of Post-It notes are in their jar. You could make it a family ritual, reading each one out aloud - building the child’s self-esteem, developing good habits for their future, at the same time, keeping the house de-cluttered.


Keeping on top of the washing…

Mornings are busy times for most families, with getting the children ready for school and yourself ready for work. So I recommend that you put the washing in the machine the night before so you are not having to sort through laundry bins in the mornings.

If you have a timer for the washing machine, all the better set it for 05.30am and the wash will be done as you start your day, it can go on the line or in the tumble dryer and will be ready for ironing when you get home.

Just because it’s expensive…

Just because something is expensive, don’t automatically assume it is a superior product to any other cheaper model or brand. For example, according to the toaster on the right, the Breville Aurora VTT475 priced at £33.00 is a far superior toaster than the toaster of the left, the Dualit 47355 Origins priced at £200.00.

Don't BuyBest Buy

Apparently tests have shown that the Dualit produces patchy toast, is expensive, heavy and has a difficult-to-use dial. Whereas the Breville excels at browning evenly, it looks great, it has a handy peek-and-view function and most controls are simple to use.

Ironing: Board & Iron…

  1. Get the longest and widest ironing board you can for your budget. Why? It naturally follows that the bigger the surface area you have, the fewer times you will need to reposition the items you’re ironing. Get one at least 135 x 45cm and with ‘Heat Resistant Iron Parking Zone’, so you can rest the iron on the board cover rather than having to continually put it back on its base - efficiency of movement.
  2. Purchase a Steam Generator Iron. Tackle your laundry pile with a steam generator and you’ll sail through the job in no time, saving you time; and should you outsource the ironing - money.

By way of example, I have selected two that rate as ‘Best Buys’ Philips GC8650/80 PerfectCare Aqua Pressurised Steam Generator Iron at the time of writing, John Lewis had the cheapest at £159.95. Then for the higher end we have Philips GC9630/20 PerfectCare Elite Steam Generator Iron which at the time of writing cost £319.95

Don’t jump to solution until you fully understand the challenge…

In its basic form - one analogy would be:- until you know how many pencils you have, how do you know how big your pencil case should be to fit them all in? So my advice, don’t go out and buy your storage solutions until you know exactly what is required; and you can only do that once you have decluttered.

So don’t waste your money or add to your clutter by having ineffective storage solutions cluttering up your home, this will only demotivate you. Understand the need then supply the storage solution to address that need.


If you are struggling to get started…

Sometimes our clutter overwhelms us and we feel trapped, unable to move forward. To break the cycle and build your confidence, start small. Tidy the cutlery drawer, take out all the cutlery, and anything else in the drawer and remove the cutlery organiser.

Only cutlery should be in this drawer so rehome anything else. Put used wine corks in the recycle bin. Keys should be on the key rack. Coins could go in a child’s piggy bank or create a pot for loose change. Sort scraps of paper for information you need to capture - numbers and addresses, put these in your address book and then recycle all the paper, paper clips go on your desk, same with elastic bands etc.

Clean and wipe out the bare drawer and wash the cutlery organiser in hot soapy water, dry thoroughly.

Put the cutlery organiser back into the clean drawer, then put all your cutlery in a bowl of hot soapy water and give everything a good wash and dry thoroughly. Now collect up all the dining knives and put them in their own slot in the cutlery organiser, do the same for the forks, spoons, separate each variety i.e. soup and desert, teaspoons.

If you have a section remaining, put in here the items you use more than the rest, such as tin opener, potato peeler and bottle opener.

Sit back and congratulate yourself on a job well done.

Don’t clutter up your kitchen with the next new gadget…

Did you know that Nigel Slater doesn’t own a vegetable steamer? Now he is an accomplished English food writer, journalist, broadcaster and chef - food is his life - so you would think he would own every kitchen gadget invented. You would be wrong.

When he needs to steam vegetables, he uses a colander on a pan and pops any old lid on top. So if he doesn’t feel the need, why do we? Are we procrastinating - delaying the ‘actual cooking’ by collecting kitchen gadgets. Or perhaps we are compensating, do we simply buy stuff because we need that ‘purchase’ rush, or simply more interested in the ‘havng’ rather than the ‘doing’?

I am no psychologist, but I do know that happiness will not be found in a fully equipped kitchen!

My advice, resist the temptation to buy the latest must have gadget, all they do, after the first few uses, if we’re honest with ourselves, is to sit in the cupboard and gather dust.

So if there is something you ‘think’ you would ‘definitely’ use all the time, try to borrow one from a friend for two or three months and actually see how often you use it. You may find your friend may offer to sell you hers…see she doesn’t use it…


When attempting to de-clutter without professional support; my three tops tips would be:
  • Have a plan, have structure and process and set realistic goals. Start with one room and when completely organised, start on the second room and so on.
  • Don’t attempt the task on your own, it is too easy for you to find reasons why not to do it. You need a ‘buddy’; a colleague, your partner, or a friend. Agree what the goal is and commit to each other that if one starts to loose enthusiasm for the task or starts to disappear for periods, the other person reminds them of their agreed goals and re-motivates them.
  • Remove any distractions you should be uninterrupted; so make prior arrangements for any children and pets to be cared for off the premises. Phones and mobiles should be sent to voicemail. Advise all visitors likely to pop in that you will be unavailable.
Don’t walk past it…

Ignore that little devil in your ear whispering “go on, walk past it”. If you see something that is not in its correct place then stop, pick it up and take it to where it belongs.

Picture1Whether it’s putting the milk back in the fridge, or old magazines to the recycling bin, or the dog’s lead and collar back to the boot room, or the laundry to the relevant bedroom. It all helps to keep clutter at bay, and train your family to do the same.

When packing to move…

…always have a box clearly labelled, ‘Important Box’ and keep it in the car with you rather than on the removal lorry. The box should house the essential items you will need immediate access to upon reaching your new home e.g. Kettle, tea, coffee, milk (in cold-bag) sugar (ever known a removal man that doesn’t take sugar), teaspoons, mugs and the obligatory packet of biscuits.

Also in a separate bag in the same box have several pairs of scissors, bin bags and screwdrivers both Phillips and Slot. Also a set of Allen Keys – you will most likely require these to put the beds together; it’s likely the removal men will have a set, but best to err on the side of caution. I would also recommend you put the TV remotes in this box as they often get thrown into the last box – but which was the last box!

Also if you or your family are taking medication, put those items in this box – so you have immediate stress free access.

Fold and Stand……

The most common way of storing our t-shirts is flat, stacked on top of each other, but as you may have noticed, rummaging to find the one you want often messes up the pile in very short order.

In order to avoid this, I have found that the best solution is to fold them, using a Magic Clothes Folder so that they take up less space and your t-shirts remain ordered. Firstly take the t-shirt and place it face down onto the ‘Clothes Folder’ and flatten it out so it is nice and smooth. Then take the left hand side of the ‘Folder’ and fold it in, do the same for the right hand side of the folder. And just so the right sleeve does not poke out, take it and fold it in half back on itself.

Then take the bottom of the t-shirt which is most likely hanging of the end of the ‘Clothes Folder’ and fold it up so that it is level with the bottom of the ‘Clothes Folder’. Then you take the bottom of the ‘Clothes Folder’ and fold that onto of the t-shirt.

You will then have a perfectly folded t-shirt. What you do then is fold it in half again and that is now ready to go into the drawer. Not only will you find that you can get a 3rd more in the drawer, but the drawer will remain tidy.