This post is sponsored by Fisher & Paykel.

The Man and I are so not ‘Keeping up with the Joneses’ type people. We couldn’t care less about media rooms and four-car garages and walk-in double showers.

But there is one thing that we will both sigh wistfully when we spot in someone else’s home. What is it that gets us all green with envy?

A dishwasher.

Yep, it’s one of the more mundane appliances in a home. If you have one (you lucky thing!) you may even take it for granted.

We (and by ‘we’ I mean The Man 90% of the time) spend on average about 30 minutes a day washing the dishes. I hate the dishes being left out to dry (it looks so messy!) but we usually do it anyway because hand drying adds another 20 minutes or so onto the process. We spend another 5 minutes putting dishes away each day.

kitchen sink
What I wished the kitchen sink and counters looked like all the time.

When I still lived at my parents’ it would only take 10 minutes total to load and unload the dishwasher, which we did every couple of days for a household of three.

I worked out that instead of about four hours a week (35 minutes a day) we could cut that to half an hour total (10 minutes three times a week). Oh man, imagine getting an extra 3.5 hours every week?! We could tick off some other jobs instead of letting them pile up and still have more time to spend with each other, with loved ones or enjoying some me-time.

We also covet a clutter-free kitchen which isn’t possible with handwashing and air drying dishes (unless you want to do it 5 times a day – um, no thank you!). I’m aware of how much water we’re using, especially every time we have to drain and refill the sink because the water has gone cold, dirty or greasy. These days, dishwashers actually use less water and energy than handwashing which is a bonus for the wallet as well as the environment.

Now, we love living in a townhouse. Our compact living means we have less cleaning and maintenance to do. We are forced to live simply and clutter-free and are mindful of what we purchase and what we keep. Our modest mortgage means less money stress, I was able to pursue my business dreams and we have more dosh to put towards enjoying life with travel, good food and wine and good times spent with family and friends.

But our small home does mean we have a small kitchen. It has sufficient space for our needs but no more. There’s no way we have room for dishwasher (insert sad face).

…or do we?

We were recently having a sticky-beak at one of our neighbouring townhouses (i.e. same layout) up for sale and noticed they had installed a dishwasher. The cogs were already turning that maybe we could do the same when I spoke to a friend who’d recently had a dishwasher installed and she said it was the best purchase for the house they’d ever made!

I’ve found a Dishdrawer from Fisher & Paykel that takes up half the space of a conventional dishwasher so we can still maximise our storage space – nice! A slimline model is another clever option when you’re short on space.

I love that appliance manufacturers are paying attention to the variety of lifestyles and homes out there. It’s awesome to see some options for small spaces that cater for those of us who enjoy compact living or have downsized.

What appliances do you have or want that would still be essentials no matter how much (or little) space you had?

PinterestShare

Nespresso machine

To round out Birthday Month, how about a peek at a very special pressie?!

The Man (whose birthday is 6 days after mine) and I received a coffee machine from his family for our birthdays. Hooray!

My father-in-law was chatting to me quizzing me about coffee makers a few weeks ago. In hindsight clearly doing a bit of sneaky research however I was completely oblivious and thought he was asking for advice to upgrade their machine. How clueless am I?

Regardless, I still managed to convey that in the (to my knowledge, hypothetical) situation of us getting a coffee machine it would need to be a very compact piece to fit in our kitchen. A great hulking appliance was not going to work in our little nook!

I also wanted one that uses pods because coffee grinds can get messy (I used to work in an office that had a regular espresso machine and my coffee was cold by the time I had cleaned up). The bonus of pods is that you can have multiple flavours on hand and they’ll always be kept fresh.

Nespresso machine

My clever in-laws chose the Nespresso U D50 with separate milk frother. Look how slim the profile is – it fits perfectly in our tea/coffee station and the milk frother stores easily in the cupboard below.

We had been thinking of getting a coffee machine one day – perhaps as a 30th present request next year – but we were very surprised by the generous gift.

Working at home it really is a lovely treat every morning to have a proper coffee instead of the regular instant.

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Well, I hope you’ve enjoyed celebrating Birthday Month with me! I still can’t believe I’ve been blogging for three years. My longest full-time job was three years and I was hating it by the end and I still love blogging so that’s a good sign!

What did you think of this month’s Book Nook Things I Love by Megan Morton? Share your thoughts over on the review if you’ve read it!

June’s theme is going to be bedrooms, so if you have any questions about closet decluttering/organisation, jewellery/accessory storage, bed linens, bedroom decorating or similar please don’t hesitate to get in touch!

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Tea print by Handz

Brr! The temperature is dropping by the day as we head into winter next week. I’m on my third hot drink of the day just to try to warm up a bit.

With tea and coffee on the brain I’ve chosen to round up some of my favourite tea time essentials for you kitchen.

Click over to see all 20 picks over on Houzz.

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Tomorrow morning we are picking up a new car (!!) which is a tad exciting. We are planning to drive to the coast tomorrow and the hills on Sunday to take it for a spin.

Do you have any fun adventures planned for the weekend?

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Target Home Sale wishlist

Today is an exciting day!

This marks my first sponsored post, which means I’ll be able to bring you bigger and better content and other awesome things like giveaways for YOU!

Can I get a WOOT WOOT?

Now, high-fiving aside, let’s get down to business. I love shopping for home decor at Target so I was delighted when they asked me to share my picks from their Massive Home Sale.

MY WISHLIST

It was hard narrowing it down but here are my picks for decorating and storage:

1. Artificial succulent in white glazed pot – The perfect way to add some greenery for brown thumbs like me.

2. 3-drawer white entertainment unit – Such a good-looking and practical piece that won’t break the bank (no, really, you won’t believe the price!).

3. Kenwood kmix toaster – Cutest toaster ever? I say yes. Check out the rainbow of colour options.

4. Wiltshire wooden pepper mill – The timeless, classic shape is made contemporary in white.

5. Woven placemats – The natural material and ‘abstract’ woven pattern will allow you to mix’n’match your colourful tableware.

6. Citronella candle in glazed pot – A citronella candle that you’ll actually want to put on your outdoor table.

7. Rattan photo frame – This casual, textural frame is simply made for your favourite beach holiday snap.

8. Potted artificial orchid – A potted white orchid has been on my wishlist for literally years. The beautiful blooms and sculptural form will look at home in any style of home.

9. 46-litre white storage container – You would think a plain white plastic storage box (not clear, not with garish bright handles) would be easy to find but I have been searching forever. My search is over – huzzah!

10. Green collapsible storage cube – The perfect little toy cube for your little one’s cubbyhole bookcase. Best of all, if your needs change you can simply fold it up until you next need it.

11. Chenille jacquard blue & green cushion – My favourite colour combo at the moment – can you tell?

12. Stripe weave chenille throw rug – Personally, I’m hanging onto the last days of summer, but let’s be honest: it will start to chill soon so get ready with a fresh throw rug.

13. Bamboo waste paper bin – You say waste paper bin, I say storage for umbrellas or toys.

14. White glass electronic bathroom scale – Finally, a bathroom scale to suit your white minimalist bathroom.

15. 4-piece towel pack green – If your towels have seen better days (I know mine have), freshen up with a fluffy new set.

So many kitchen appliances, home decor, wall art, tableware and bedding items are discounted as part of the Massive Home Sale, which ends on 20th March. If you can’t get to your local store by then, did you know they now have an online store? Music to my ears.

GIVEAWAY

Target have kindly offered a $40 voucher to one of my readers. To enter, simply leave a comment saying what is on your home wish list.

Entries close Thursday 21st March at midnight (Australian Central Daylight Time). The winner will be selected at random and announced next Friday 22nd March. (Sorry, open to Australian residents only.)

Enter now, good luck!

THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED. Thanks to all who entered!

This post was sponsored by Target. Opinions are my own.

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Tea & coffee station

About this time last year, we installed a small rack in an awkward, unused corner of the kitchen to form a tea & coffee station.

It has been working quite well, but it still meant I had to go to various drawers, shelves and cupboards for some of the essentials like teaspoons, mugs and sugar. Actually, the term ‘station’ was probably a bit of an overstatement now that I think about it.

I didn’t want all these little things cluttering up the kitchen benchtop and having to move them to wipe up every day. What I needed was a tray (“You’ll need a tray!”).

Tea & coffee station

Turns out I had the perfect thing already under my nose, in the form of this adorable strawberry crate that I bought for this shoot. There’s lots of red and a bit of green in the kitchen already, plus I’ve been wanting to add some natural textures to soften the stark whiteness so it couldn’t have worked out better!

I already had the mason jar, sugar dish, milk jug, mugs and hooks (the latter I borrowed from the spice rack) so it was a totally free project. Gotta love that!

Tea & coffee station

We only use the milk jug and sugar for guests now (I’ve succeeded in one of my 2013 goals to eliminate sugar from my coffee – go me!) but I still wanted to have that all in the same place too. When we entertain I can now just remove the kettle, add some teacups and take the whole tray into the lounge.

I love how streamlined the process is now. Sure, it only saves a few seconds, but instead of needlessly fussing about getting out my coffee making things, I can do something more useful like put away last night’s clean dishes or open some mail.

The only thing I haven’t managed to find a solution for is the teabags. They’re currently in a divided box in the pantry – it’s too large to fit here as is, and I quite like how it separates the flavours so I’m not sure what I will do about that yet.

Tell us: how do you store your hot drink essentials? Convenient and out in the open or neatly tucked out of sight?

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kitchen wicker baskets

I still love the organic texture and colour provides by this set of wicker baskets on top of the kitchen cupboards. However, continually having to answer The Man’s queries about ‘Which basket has the pie weights again?’ was getting old… especially since half the time I couldn’t remember myself.

So I said to myself: ‘Self, get some labels already.’

kitchen wicker baskets

And get some labels I did.

But before we get to the label close-up, we need to back up a bit.

The lack of labels were not the only the wrong with this scenario. Neat as they may have looked, there was a whoole lotta mess goin’ on within those woven sides.

kitchen wicker baskets

Eek! This is supposed to be our storage for picnic and party gear, mostly disposable stuff. We sort of just threw everything in there (sometimes, quite literally, we would throw a pack of napkins up there instead of taking the basket down) with no real regard to organisation.

kitchen wicker baskets

What do you do if everything is in a complete jumble? Take everything out and start again.

I sorted everything out and grouped them with similar items. A few things found other homes, like the Thermos set (in the black bag) I moved to a lower cupboard and some of the cheaper serviettes I donated to The Man’s class party box for school. Given that we have had KFC maybe twice in five years I figured the refresher towellettes were probably past their prime.

Here’s what they look like now:

kitchen wicker baskets

The first box now contains nothing but disposable gear for picnics.

kitchen wicker baskets

The second box contains items for parties, such as cocktail napkins and reusable plastic wine glasses (we actually have a huge stash of wine glasses so we only need to resort to plastic for the really big parties).

kitchen wicker baskets

kitchen wicker baskets

The other two boxes held various baking equipment and supplies, as well as an ice bucket (boxed, at left).

kitchen wicker baskets

Why did I have half of the cupcake wrappers in one box and the rest in another? And why did I have two lonely food colourings in the lower pantry while the rest of the stash was in an overhead basket?

kitchen wicker baskets

kitchen wicker baskets

Who knows! But it was time to sort out once and for all.

I brought the almost-empty second clear box up and used that to organise the packets of sprinkles, while the larger one now contains (from top) gel piping tubes, food colouring and food flavouring. Oh, and the ice bucket now lives in a cupboard with the cocktail shaker and spirits. Here it is all back in the boxes:

kitchen wicker baskets

kitchen wicker baskets

Now, back to those labels!

kitchen wicker baskets

kitchen wicker baskets

I had these cute chalkboard pegs from Emerald & Ella on hand from a recent photo shoot (used as place cards) and knew they would be perfect for labelling baskets too. They work a treat! If I ever change up my storage (which, let’s face it, is only a matter of time) I can just wipe off and write on the new label.

kitchen wicker baskets

Every room needs a bit of black, don’t you agree? And I know you agree that every room could use a bit more organisation too!

Does anyone else use the top of cupboards for storage or do you prefer to keep everything behind closed doors?

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Coupon storage before

We’ve had this little basket in the washstand in the living room to corral all our vouchers (coupons) and gift cards. It needed a good cleanout anyway (why were there piles of business cards and expired ID/membership cards in there??) and I decided to take the opportunity to somewhere we’d be more likely to remember to check before heading out shopping or ordering a pizza.

Coupon storage after

I picked up this cute magnetic box for $2 at a random Japanese bargain store in the market district (seriously they had the best stuff! I could have gone nutso on the cute storage on beautiful glazed stone and bamboo tableware).

Turns out it was the perfect way to keep our vouchers neat and tidy. I put it on the side of the fridge so it’s out-of-the-way but still easily accessible.

I should point out that here in Australia there’s no such thing as ‘couponing’ – the supermarket price is the supermarket price. It was a foreign concept to me until I started reading US blogs. So thankfully we don’t have a zillion vouchers to cut out, store, use and keep an eye on the expiry so there’s no need for a complicated category system. We only have the occasional pizza flyer (which we rarely use) and a handful of gift cards from birthdays. (Which reminds me, time to go shopping for free!)

How do you organise your vouchers/coupons and gift cards?

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prep & serving cupboard before 1

Firstly, apologies for the dreadful photography in this post. Taking shots of the inside of cupboards is not easy!

Moving on. Let’s talk kitchen storage.

We have these cavernous lower cupboards in three corners of our kitchen. They might be large but they are so awkward to use, especially this one because the adjacent fridge sticks out.

prep & serving cupboard before 2

Looking at this ‘before’ is probably enough and I don’t need to explain why a makeover was required. However, I will point out a couple of functionality issues we were having.

prep & serving cupboard before 3

  • The serving platters were all stacked on top of each other so it was difficult to pull out and replace the item you needed (there are more of them underneath the shelf riser on the left).
  • Some frequently used items (such as the Pyrex dishes) were at the back while the once-in-a-blue-moon food processor attachments took up prime position.
  • There was no real system of placement so the everyday prep items were mixed in with the servingware.

One day I’d had enough and pulled everything out and started over and it now looks like this:

prep & serving cupboard after

Ah, so much better right? (And not just because of the improved photo quality.)

I separated it out so that the top shelf is all for food prep and the lower shelf is all related to serving.

prep & serving cupboard after

The enormous array of ridiculously specific food processor attachments remain out of the way for one day when I have a sudden urge to make Russian dumplings.

prep & serving cupboard after

Another change that made a huge difference was the addition of a couple more wire shelf risers (I bought mine from Howard’s Storage World but you find them in plenty of places). It is a much better use of the space and avoids too much stacking so things are far easier to access. (There are a couple of items which you may spot are missing, these have either been gotten rid of or relocated to elsewhere in the kitchen.)

The stacking of platters was particularly inconvenient and it also didn’t allow for a variety of sizes. I picked up a stainless steel pot lid rack from Ikea and it is the perfect way to organise my platters. I thought they might be too heavy and push it out but it works great! It’s so much easier to access and put away.

prep & serving cupboard after

Oh and in case you were wondering, I think I’m all set for white platters for the time being.

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after

I must say the thought of renovating and decorating an entire house at once is daunting to say the least (one of the many reasons why I am refusing The Man’s suggestion that we should enter The Block next year).

Thankfully this home owner (admittedly, an interior designer) was up to the task, because the results are unbelievable.

before

kitchen after

If the eclectic lounge/dining didn’t win you over, how is this for a beautiful farmhouse-style kitchen?

Get the full tour and the story over at Design*Sponge.

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top pantry before

I don’t think I’ve ever shown you inside our kitchen cupboards. Probably because it’s not very exciting. I don’t have beautiful floor-to-ceiling cabinetry with chevron lining and rows of matching labelled Tupperware.

Nope, it’s all very average-bordering-on-messy. With only this small overhead cupboard to store our pantry goods, it gets crowded easily and things just get shoved in wherever they can. (By the way, sometimes my camera produces photos with lens distortion – this is not happennig here, the shelf is in fact bowing under the weight of no less than six types of rice and more icing sugar than I will use in a lifetime.)

Every now and again I will declare it time for a Pantry Challenge (feel free to chime in with a more creative name!). Which means we buy as little new food as possible in order to clear out the pantry and freezer (I already do this weekly with fresh produce in the fridge). Sometimes it’s motivated by a money-saving goal, other times because I’m sick of pork chops falling on my head when I open the freezer.

Either way, it always ends up with a few culinary experiments (seriously, you’ll be amazed at the variety of dishes you can make with what you already have on hand), a slashed grocery bill and a nice uncluttered kitchen.

Have you tried anything similar in your household before?

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