How long should you keep your papers and documents in France?

home and office organiser

Despite technology leaps, worries about deforestation, and the space it takes in your home or office, business and every day activities in France still generate an enormous stack of papers and documents!

This list is by no means exhaustive, but the rule is: if in any doubt, keep it.

Why not print this article and keep it visible in the front of your files? That way, you’ll remember to have an annual clear-out.

WHILE GUARANTEE IS VALID AND BEYOND

  •   Bank statements and pay-in slips
  •  Car purchase papers
  •  House and vehicle insurance contracts
  •  Invoices and receipts for repairs or services
  •  Receipts for work or repairs to property
  •  Invoices for household goods with guarantee
  •  Estate agents’ fees and commissions
  •  Insurance compensation claims (longer for medical compensation)

1 YEAR

  •  Loan repayments (30 yrs from final payment)
  •  Phone bills
  •  Car repairs
  •  Chimney sweeping certificate (needed for fire insurance)
  •  Construction and building work
  •  Local taxes (foncières and habitation)

2 YEARS

  • Medical records
  • Xrays
  • Water bills

4 YEARS

  • Divorce papers proof of payment of taxes
  • Passports and identity documents income Tax returns
  •  House and property deeds tax rebates
  •  Salary, pay and social security payments slips (at least until you retire) 3 YEARS
  •  Life insurance policies television licence
  •  Inheritance documents

5 YEARS

  • Wills and testaments rent receipts and contracts
  • Birth and marriage, death certificates (not just your own – parent’s certificates too) electricity and gas bils
  • Diplomas and qualifications life insurance premiums
  • Military service papers

10 YEARS

  • Cheques to pay in (maximum before paying in)
  • Mortgage papers (10 yrs after final payment)

30 YEARS

  • Insurance cancellation papers
  • Employment contracts (until you retire) insurance premiums other than life insurance
  • Cheque stubs doctors’, dentists’, and chemists’ bills
  •  All pension papers, medical prescriptions
  •  Receipts for payment of: motoring fines
  •  Hospital bills, social security payments
  • Notaire fees

 

The information in this article is provided for informational purposes and does not constitute legal, professional or financial advice. For the French government’s official document go to (in French):   https://www.service-public.fr/particuliers/vosdroits/F19134

10 smart and easy cleaning tips for a healthier home

© Lisa870/123RF

Contrary to popular belief, the air you breathe in your home can be more polluted than outside air. Nasty stuff can be found in furniture coverings, insulation, dust mites, household products and the CO2 we breathe. The air we inhale irritates our organs like our lungs and blood, which circulates in our brain and our muscles. The French Ministry of Health and Environment* lists symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, eye, nose, throat and skin irritation, dizziness, allergic manifestations and asthma from living daily in a polluted environment.

For a clean and healthier home, air out rooms regularly and use natural products without pollutants! It is very easy and very cheap.

Three best eco-friendly cleaning products: lemon, baking soda and white vinegar. © Georgrafika/123RF

10 environmentally-friendly cleaning tips to help you have a healthier home:

1. The winning trio

  • white vinegar (vinaigre blanc, you can buy at the supermarket)
  • lemon juice
  • baking soda (bicarbonate de soude, you can also buy at the supermarket, pharmacy or at your local organic store in the food section)

2. Have a blast cleaning your toilets

Sprinkle some baking soda and white vinegar in your toilet, and get ready to be surprised by your first chemical experiment since high school! The slightly abrasive action of baking soda and its deodorizing qualities will give a shot of clean to your toilet!

3. Beauty treatment for the showerhead

Immerse your showerhead in white vinegar inside a plastic bag and fix it with an elastic band. Leave it to soak all night.

Use vinegar for eco-friendly cleaning. © CCO Creative Commons/Pixabay

4. Could your oven need more love?

For conventional ovens, sprinkle vinegar and baking soda inside. Leave for a few hours. Scrape if necessary with a spatula, and wipe with a damp sponge or cloth. For your microwave, put a bowl containing water, a teaspoon of vinegar, and a toothpick inside, close the door and zap it on high for 5 minutes. Leave the door shut for 2 to 3 more minutes to let the steam continue to loosen caked-on bits of food. When you open the door, be careful, the bowl and tray will be hot. Take them out, wipe down the inside of the microwave with a sponge, and wash the tray in the sink. It’s easy, works great and only takes a few minutes!

5. Decalcify your coffee maker

To clean your coffee maker of the buildup inside, fill the tank with 4 tablespoons of vinegar, pass through the machine, empty the carafe and rinse! If you want to get rid of tea or coffee stains on your mugs, let them soak in white vinegar for a few hours. If that’s not enough, rub with baking soda. Vinegar can also replace the softener in your washing machine and the rinsing liquid in your dishwasher!

6. Eliminate an unpleasant smell

Need to eliminate a lingering bad smell, but don’t want to buy a toxic air freshener? To eliminate the smell of vomit, put a bowl of vinegar in the room. It works also for other smells like paint. To eliminate tobacco odors, add 1 teaspoon of baking soda to 3 glasses of warm water and the juice from the equivalent of 1/4 lemon. Put this mixture in a vaporizer and spray on all your fabrics.

7. Clean the surfaces of the kitchen and the bathroom

Find a sprayer. Try not to buy one — use the empty window washing product you just finished rather than tossing it away. Mix four tablespoons of white vinegar and a glass of water and place in the sprayer. Vinegar will not smell once it’s dry.

When I use lemon juice in a drink or for cooking, I always save the rind with the pulp to spread around the sink like a sponge, then rinse. The sink suddenly shines and is rid of any tartar.

With its slightly abrasive action and its natural deodorizing qualities, baking soda can replace your potentially toxic scouring powder or cream. Use it on a sponge or as a paste (a mixture of water and baking soda). When the dirt is more tenacious, leave the paste for 15 minutes in the bath or shower. For very scaled shower walls, heat the vinegar before you spray it on. Rub and rinse after 10 minutes

8. How to easily clean windows 

Use a microfiber cloth and water to wipe dirty surface or spray the mix of white vinegar and water (see the paragraph above) and wipe the window clean.

9. Maintenance of the pipes

Dirt, soapsuds, and limestone are regularly deposited in our pipes. To avoid clogging and bad odors, pour 20g to 40g of baking soda and hot water down the drain. Leave for two hours or overnight to allow the product to pass through the pipes, then rinse with very hot water.

Give your dishwasher a facelift: place a bowl of vinegar in the top drawer of your empty machine and launch the cycle!

10. Keep le bouquet beautiful

To keep your cut flowers beautiful longer, add 1 tablespoon of vinegar and 1 tablespoon of sugar.

Now relax and enjoy your fresh, clean home!

How to find the perfect present !

Have you ever noticed that your loved one (be it your spouse, a family member, or a friend) just doesn’t seem to appreciate your presents that much?

Maybe it’s time you got better at speaking … your love languages!

Inspired by Gary Chapman’s The 5 Love Languages.

For you to feel your love tank is full, what is it you, or your loved one needs the most?

You can each get acquainted with the 5 love languages below and share your results.

  • Words of affirmation

Does the person you want to show your love to feel more loved mostly after hearing a compliment or thankfull or encouraging words? Bring him or her to a magical place like down the Pont Neuf, at the very front of the island, on the edge of the Seine at sunset. Sit him or her down, and say everything you appreciate in your loved one, or read it out loud if you prefer using a special card!

  • Quality time

If you are longing for an uninterrupted conversation where you can both connect, you can have a meal together in a special place of grandeur. The time span is perfect and the new context will highten your spirits and help you connect. The idea here is listening to each other. Ask questions in a real desire to listen to your partner’s feelings, thoughts and desires. And let your souls converse. My father took me to Café Le Zimmer a few years ago, and I still keep that out of the ordinary memory close to my heart!

If doing something fun is what you are looking for, suggest going to an event; a burlesque dancing show or class with your girlfriends  at www.tasselteasecompany.com. Get your partner to invite you to a fun evening to watch the “How to become a Parisian in one hour” show! Or share a part of French history by taking your collegues, or older children to participate in the escape game called “le cachot de la Bastille” with Gamescape Paris.

  • Receiving gifts

If someone is excited by gifts, whether they be expensive or not, or even made or found, it’s that they probably see them as a visual symbol of love, the fact you have been thinking of them.  If you find it difficult choosing a gift, ask family and friends if they have an idea of what kind of presents that person usually likes, and what are his or her passions at the moment. I have a friend who loves Le Creuset cookware above all! Because she says all their items are so pretty, whatever you bring to the table in them looks delicious and perfect! Her husband remembers this, and she is overjoyed each time she gets something new from their catalogue! Her main love language clearly is receiving gifts!

But someone who is usually critical or uninterested by presents, might just have another primary love language. Read on to find out what it is!

  • Acts of service

If someone is performing an act of service for you, they are taking action to getting things done and weight off your shoulders. This can go from chores to solving one’s most demanding problems. If you don’t have time or the ability to help someone get untangled with what they are struggling with or need assistance with, but know it would bring them joy, why not get them a gift certificate to start them off in the direction they want to go? Are you at a turning point in your life, but feel the clutter in your home is pulling you back? Want your family or friends to treat you to a session with a home organizer, they can go to www.joyeveryday.fr/en. You could give a good friend the luxury of a session with friendly Personal Stylist Anelle Coetzee to learn to mix and match what he or she have in their wardrobe to feel more energized.Or do you want help getting your goals met in 2018? Those dearest to you will be happy to help you get there by getting you to meet personal and professional coach Marianela Gonzales.

  • Physical touch

In the middle of all the hustle and bustle of your busy life, do you need to unwind physically?  If you are looking to treat yourself, get a massage in the intimacy of Sandrine Nicolas’s parisian apartment. On leaving her rooftop view apartment, in her street, grab some warm gluten free bread or croissant at Bakery and Patisseries Chambellan, they are so good, famous French chefs Joël Robuchon et Alain Ducasse order for their restaurants there! Or if you want to bring a friend or your partner to a divine spa that is so exclusive you will have the impression you have privatised it, go to l’Echapée in Paris! They offer a big warm 35°C pool and whirlpool in a beautiful and cosy space under a glass roof, hammam and massages.  You can also have lunch there, and they give you a bathrobe, extra towel and flip flops. Wednesdays and Thursdays are for women only.

Found your love language(s)? Happy Valentine’s!

How to make your parisian home feel much bigger!

home organizer

Do you sometimes feel that living in a small place is an extra job in itself? Having to continually manage the stuff you wouldn’t even notice in a big house, trying to cook or wash in a cramped space – it feels like a punishment. You get stressed, and what was supposed to be a blissful Parisian retreat ends up feeling like being trapped in your childhood dollhouse.

Having experienced a chaotic French household, I’m now passionate about getting organized so that life becomes “joy every day”

Here are four steps to help optimize your personal space to open up all kinds of possibilities in your home:

© Roman Mager/Unsplash

1. Less is more for a loftier environment

  • Make sure you know where the recycling bins are to avoid keeping your empty champagne bottles for too long. If you live in an apartment, ask your gardien/gardienne where they are.
  • While you’re at it, ask them where the local à vélos is. That’s where you can put your children’s or your bicycles.
  • Speaking of which, why not save space by selling your bike, and use the Vélib city-bike rental system?
  • If you have a cave, use it! It’s precious real estate. First, go and have a look down there. Is it too damp to store anything but wine bottles? Is the door see-through or the lock unreliable? Free standing shelving and transparent boxes make for a proper basement storage space and not a dark hole where your things seem lost forever.
  • Don’t have enough room for a big bookcase? Be honest with yourself and only keep the books you’ll read. Check to see if your children’s books are still age-appropriate. Sell the rest on momox.fr, along with your unwanted CDs and DVDs. You can also subscribe for free to any French public library, or go visit the American Library in Paris instead of buying more books.
Oleksajewicz/123RF

2. Downsize!

  • Don’t have a garden here, but still moved all your gardening tools? Looking to clear out some of your furniture? Sell them on leboncoin.fr, the French equivalent to Craigslist.
  • Kitchens aren’t that big here, so ask yourself if you’re really going to use everything you put in it. Maybe you came from a warmer climate and enjoyed making home-made ice cream every week. It probably won’t happen here, so give away or sell your ice cream maker – go and taste the best glaces et sorbets in Paris at Bertillon, and couple it with a romantic walk along the Seine. There are lots of local food shops and going to the marché once in a while is a must, but you don’t need to stack your cupboards. Simplify and buy in smaller quantities and you won’t miss not having a pantry!

3. Use vertical surfaces!

  • If you don’t have much room for lighting or a TV stand, mount them on the wall.
  • Install hooks or racks on the back of your doors for hanging towels, scarves, or shoes.
  • Hang up your mirrors, they’ll also make your space look bigger. But don’t overdo it, there is only one Galerie des Glaces, and it’s in Versailles!
  • If your children have to share a room, think of buying bunk beds. Loft beds are a great idea for teenagers and open up precious real estate below.
  • In a very small bathroom, you could hang a shower caddy to hold everything from shampoo to razors. For your children’s bath toys, stick a mesh bag to the tiles.
    Ikea Storage bench. Source: Pinterest

    4. Find furniture with a dual purpose!

    • For more storage and seating, I use a storage bench in my entrance, where we put shoe shine material and laces, and in-season accessories like hats or gloves. We can sit there to put our shoes on, and use it for extra seating when we have guests.
    • Find a double-duty coffee table to store your candles, magazines and remote controls.
    • Under your bed lies plenty of potential storage space. Use under bed storage bins with wheels for easy access to store out-of-season clothes, for example.

      Being more organized makes life easier, n’est ce pas? And think of all the things you can do with that extra free time!

How long should you keep your make up ?

Why should I sort through my beauty products today ?

Just like the products you have in your fridge, make up has an expiration date. Why? Because chemicals deteriorate, with a risk of irritation or inefficiency . So sort the products you have in your bathroom and makeup bag !

Here is a list of the average storage time for the beauty products you have at home:

Moisturizers and creams : from 6 to 12 months

Anti-aging creams and sunscreens : from 6 to 12 months

Mascara : 3 months

Lipstick : 2 years

Gloss : 1 year

Powders, eyeshadow and blush : 2 years

Foundation : 1 year

Nail polish : from 1 to 2 years

Perfume : from 8 to 10 years

Buying all this is expensive! How can you make sure none of it will be wasted?

The first thing to look at is this small pictogram. organise creams

If it says 12 M, it means you can use it for 12 months after having opened it.  And if you are up for it, use a marker to note when each product was opened. Personally I believe an anti-aging cream that has lost some of its effect is no big deal. But not knowing when you first used your sunscreen, on the other hand, would be more detrimental to your health!

In your fridge, keep unopened or less often used products . Because heat activates bacteria proliferation, putting make up in the fridge will protect active substances and preservatives.
Clean and dry your hands before use. Conscientiously put lids back on to protect from air and dampness.

sort fridgeMake sure you finish a tube before opening another one, this is especially true for mascara, that oxidizes quickly! To avoid infection, do not share mascara! If you have very sensitive eyes, you can use an additional brush that you wash after each use, to keep the original brush “bacteria free”.

My advice when buying cosmetics: look for a tube of cream, ideally with pump, to avoid putting your fingers in a jar of cream (some of you might use a spatula). A product that doesn’t often come into contact with air, needs less preservatives, which means less on your skin, and a longer lasting item!home organizer
Finally, for those of you who, like me with my foundation, use a product beyond the recommended limit, immediately and mercilessly throw away any mascara causing you an infection, or any cream that has changed color, texture or fragrance!

What chores for your children ?

declutter

Here is a list of what your children can do at every age, how they can learn new skills, lighten your load, and contribute to a more relaxing home.

With little ones it’s best to do the work together, they’re keen on sharing activities with their parents. It will take more time, but their taking part in the coming years will be precious! Older children may complain, but they will be proud they can do “grown up jobs”, and can manage certain things all by themselves !

two- three year olds

  • collect toys.
  • help feed pets.
  • put napkins on the table , spoons and tableware that does not break.
  • take dirty clothes to the laundry basket.
  • Wipe the ground or a low piece of furniture with a small cloth.

four-five year olds

  • help make beds
  • set the table
  • water the plants
  • help do the shopping and store groceries away .

six to eight year olds

  • declutter toys, and keep their room or their playroom tidy.
  • make their bed.
  • sort the laundry.
  • put clothes away.
  • Fold trousers, socks and shirts.
  • do simple cooking chores .
  • help wash the car.

nine-ten year olds

  • wash the bathtub and sink.
  • help prepare meals.
  • wash the dishes.
  • load the dishwasher.
  • declutter their closet.
  • clean the floor with a broom and a mop.

11 and older

  • plan meals and prepare certain meals.
  • wash the laundry by using the washing machine and the tumble-dryer.
  • wash the car and vacuum the inside of the car.
  • do the grocery shopping.

Don’t aim for perfection! Your child’s skills will improve over time.

Need some ideas to make it more fun? Go read this !

 

How to make tidying up fun !

organize

  • Start small! a 10 minute project done is better than a 3 hour project never started.
  • Turn on the music, choose soothing music if you’re anxious, or upbeat music if you need to be energised to organize!
  • Use accessories, like an alarm clock that sets you free after 20 minutes of sorting !
  • Treat yourself to something to enjoy once the job is done; drink a cup of tea, call your best friend, slip under the covers for a little nap.
  • Create your ideal home on a vision board, bring your vision board to the place you’re decluttering right now, to help you work towards what you want. Or tape a piece of paper , with your goal, on your closet for example : simplify getting dressed in the morning.
  • Take before and after pictures. Keep them at hand, so you don’t fall back to your bad habits. You want to keep your home as it is in your after photos !
  • Put on the pressure: invite friends over. You don’t want them to see your mess, right? So you know this will motivate you to organize and tidy up! Do not cheat by stuffing everything in a closet. To make this work, plan ahead of time, and only take care of the places your friends will see. Keep all other room doors closed for now.
  • Show the world how well you’ve done! Send like-minded friends your (before and) after photos!

If this has helped you, or if you have other home organizing tips and tricks to share with us,  please leave a comment below !

How bullet journaling will help you fulfil your dreams :

organise

For me, writing a Bullet Journal / Bujo is what made the difference:

  • I’m always reminded of what my goaIs are; because I like my notebook, it’s so cute, I have positive memories attached to it, it’s a bit like my comforter, I want to have it around, and so I often use it. Therefore I see my goals every day, I talk to people about them, I organise my time so I can act on them, and I achieve what I wanted to achieve!
  • It’s good for my mind and my body. Being creative with my Bullet Journal brings me back to those happy times when, as a little girl, I had all the time in the world for drawing. And as Picasso said “art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life”. I stop for several creative moments in the day.
  • Bullet journaling, is custom made to tailor my needs. With my wishlist I take the time to find out what makes me happy – starting with simple things. We all have different needs, and if I consciously make a list of what nourishes me(ex a list of my favourite hikes in and around Paris (I live in Paris), or of the books I want to read this year), I can organise them and treat myself to them more often, instead of going for a more common but less meaningful activity to me, like watching TV for hours. Consequently I live a balanced, and meaningful life. A life full of joy.

How to feel confident giving a speech:

help

  1. Dress the part! Choose in advance the outfit you will wear, adapted to the venue.
  2. Train, and if you can, get feedback from someone you trust can help you.
  3. Stress isn’t always visible. Even if it’s to varying degrees, most people are stressing out, and we don’t notice it. It’s the same for you. Even if people did notice, they wouldn’t blame you!!
  4. You don’t need to look straight into people’s eyes. Look at their eyebrows , their nose, their hair, or shoulders, you’ll see, no one will notice. And it will allow you to focus your energy on your emotions and what you have to say.
  5. And precisely, talking about the content, keep a sheet of paper, with your main ideas, in case you forget what you wanted to say.
  6. One more thing: you might have liked the experience, and want to start again soon!

If you are looking for more help towards success, read this!

 

How I became a Home Organizer :

home organizer

Before becoming a home organizer, I wasn’t a very tidy person, I couldn’t care less about organizing the space I was living in, all I loved doing was travelling.

With the birth of our dear son, and all the havoc that came with it, I had an aha moment: something just had to change (I couldn’t stand all the toys and leftover mashed potatoes on the floor!), I wanted to upgrade our “chaotic and sad looking appartment ” to a “5 star hotel”!

But how could I get positive results without it taking up all my time? What new habits could I take to optimize my organisation, without it becoming overwhelming?

After training as a home organizer, testing solutions in my home, at my friends’ and my neighbors’ homes, I wanted to become a professional home organizer.

I really like helping my clients see how they can better their living space, according to their needs and with long-term solutions, for a more efficient and relaxing home!

If you need the help of a home organizer, contact me !