Take advantage of the extra time spent indoors this winter to tackle home-sorting projects.
1 Store a sewing kit in a ring binder
2 Clear out old clothes
Keep someone less fortunate than yourself warm by hosting your own drive for jackets, jerseys and other warm clothes. Set out a labelled collection basket and ask friends and relatives to bring an item to donate when they visit. Check that the clothes are clean and in good condition, then give them to a shelter or other charity.
3 Stock your spice rack
Avoid being at a loss when following a recipe that calls for herbs and spices by stocking your spice rack with the following basic ingredients.
• Allspice, ground
• Bay leaves
• Black peppercorns
• Cayenne pepper
• Chilli powder
• Cinnamon, ground and whole sticks
• Cloves, ground and whole
• Coriander, ground and seeds
• Cumin, ground and whole
• Fennel seed
• Ginger, ground
• Mustard, dried
• Nutmeg, whole and ground
• Sage leave
• Saffron threads
• Star anise
• Yellow mustard seed
4 Make a sticky-note calendar
A simple monthly calendar made from sticky notes can be updated in seconds, according to your changing schedule. Start with a sheet of painted fibreboard then place sticky notes in rows of seven across and seven down. Mark up the days of the week then number off the days for the month. Keep it near the phone or in another convenient place, so you can update it with any new appointments and view your schedule at a glance. Instead of crossing out plans as dates change, just move the sticky notes about. If you prefer, use sticky notes in a different colour to mark any important days.
5 Holiday activity case
Pack a bag or an old school suitcase with lots of interesting activities for the holidays and give it to your young child only once you are in the car, or take it along when you visit friends or family. Include, for example, a jigsaw puzzle, colouring-in book and crayons, a bag of blocks, storybooks, a packet of sweets and a board game.
Make your own playdough
Mix 500ml flour, 250ml salt, 500ml lukewarm water and 15ml cooking oil into a stiff dough. Knead the dough until it is elastic. For extra elasticity, add two teaspoons cream of tartar and stir the mixture over a low heat. Use food colouring to colour the dough. You can also add glitter for some sparkle.
6 Sort your bathroom cabinet
Discard expired cosmetics and medicines. Here’s a guide to the shelf life of cosmetics:
• Mascaras – three to six months.
• Moisturiser – two years, unless it contains no preservatives, in which case you may have to discard it after about a year.
• Foundation – about one year (oil-free foundations) to two years (moisturising, cream or compact foundations).
• Powder, eye shadow and powder blusher – two years.
• Concealer and cream blusher – about one to two years.
7 Create a car kit
Stock your car’s boot for emergencies. Include jumper cables, a torch, tow rope, a fire extinguisher, an emergency tyre inflation kit, flares,
a blanket, warm clothing and bottled water.
8 Make a stain treatment kit
Be prepared – keep a selection of stain removers at the ready for emergency cleaning. Have these items on hand:
• White paper towels (to help blot up spills or to pick up solids), plastic grocery bags (for disposing of used paper towels) and rubber gloves (to protect your hands)
• A sponge
• A blunt knife for removing candle wax
• A clean white hand towel for blotting liquids or applying cleaner without dye transfer
• Cornflour to absorb fresh grease stains
• Oil solvents such as mineral oil, cooking oil or peanut butter for removing chewing gum from fabric
• Mild, clear dishwashing liquid for all-purpose stain removal
• Natural bleaching agents, for example lemon juice and white vinegar
• Glycerin for ballpoint ink, and eyedroppers and cotton swabs for easy application
• Carpet stain remover
• Liquid laundry detergent to remove coffee, berry, lipstick or wine stains
9 Craft some handy storage pouches
Storing items at home, these draw-string storage pouches are handy to have around. Make them in a range of sizes, perfect for storing jewellery, shoes, plastic bags and even laundry.
Cut out two rectangles from fabrics that pair well together (one for the outer, one for the lining).
Fold the rectangles in half widthways then pin together, right sides facing, along the long sides. Sew together with a 1,5cm seam allowance. Stop and start stitching 3cm from the open edge on one side of the bag (this is for the drawstring casing). Turn the outer bag through to the right side and iron. With the lining bag still right sides together, insert it into the outer bag, matching up the seams. With the main bag and lining short edges together, fold and pin a 1,5cm double hem and sew it in place.
For the drawstring, use bias tape, twill tape, or cord. Attach a safety pin to one end and thread it through the open end in the casing. Tie the ends into a knot.
10 Put together a first-aid kit
Take the time to put a first-aid kit together, or to replace the items you may have depleted in your existing kit. You can buy a standard first-aid kit, but if you’d rather make your own, St John’s Ambulance offers a list of essentials:
• antiseptic wound cleaner
• swabs for cleaning wounds
• cotton wool for padding
• sterile gauze
• safety pins
• triangular bandages
• rolled bandages
• roll of elastic adhesive
• non-allergenic adhesive strips
• plasters in various sizes
• eye drops
• antibacterial ointment
• disposable latex gloves
• CPR mouthpieces or similar devices
Keep these together in a plastic container that has a sealable lid. Regularly check the kit and replace anything past its expiry date and ensure that nothing is leaking and that the sterile packaging is undamaged. Make sure it’s stored well out of the reach of children. Familiarise yourself with all the items and know what they’re used for. Also show your nanny and any other caregivers. Enrol yourself and your partner, the older children and caregivers in a first-aid course – for details, go to www.stjohn.org.za