alice + meeka · cleaning + homemaking · organising + decluttering

declutter it challenge : week 3 + week 4

We are back again this week with another round of before and afters for our declutter it challenge. I am however feeling a little done with decluttering for the time being so I am going to combine this week with next weeks “week 4” and finish this series with one huge post.

As in previous weeks, I have continued to follow my decluttering plan that I mentioned way back in my big old introduction post. To keep this post reasonably succinct, I am going to share the before photo on the left and then the after on the right (or above and below if that makes more sense). Otherwise this post may end up with 55 photos in it! Opps.

Are you ready to jump in and see the before and afters of my pantry and study areas? Lets go!

A few simple fixes ended up happening in the pantry. Everything was taken out and wiped down. I rearranged the shelves whilst keeping their contents consistent. Very top shelf has extra snacks as well as bulk/extra items in it. Next shelf down has snacks and bread with extra storage behind and the bottom bit holds all condiments, flours and sugars, herbs, spices and baking things as well as canned goods.

A little bit of reorganisation makes this cupboard lots better. Extra supplies are all kept at the back and often used items being moved to the front.

There ended up being a lot of rubbish in this cupboard. Once it was all cleaned out and items relocated, this cupboard became a lot less cluttered.

 

It was time to put the baby bottles away into storage, which freed up a lot of space in this cupboard also.

Touching up the paint and rearranging the shelves with some christmas gifts, has freshened up these shelves nicely.

This drawer still holds a lot of stuff but it is much more organised now. Lunch boxes and containers on the left and snack or smaller containers on the right.

I think that the open shelves are my favourite transformation. All of these spaces are still looking exactly the same three weeks later. Hopefully that means that it will stay organised for the long term.

The final space that I have to share is part of our study. This is my husband’s side and I am sharing it with permission of course. He works in IT but he also enjoys fixing and tinkering with tech at home. He likes to have things that can help him to fix or improve tech on hand. He also gets asked to “take a look at” lots of peoples tech quite often, so space for that and current projects is also important. This area was mostly my husband’s doing. I stepped into to help with some practical storage solutions towards the end and thats all really. He threw out so much stuff and I am I really proud of how good the space still looks three weeks later. As per above I shall show the before and after side by side, left and right.

Drawers of various sizes really helped to organise this space. There is also a WIP (work in progress) tub for him to place anything that is currently being fixed.

That concludes this round of the alice and meeka declutter it challenge. I am always excited by decluttering but I think that I dragged the content out with this one a little too long. I am going to take a look at how I approach any future declutter it challenges. I might make them span a week or share all my content in a smaller span of time. Lots of think about.

So tell me, did you play along a little? Tell me about the stuff you threw out? Have you been able to maintain your newly decluttered spaces? Lets chat in the comments or over on Facebook.

 

alice + meeka · diy + handmade · small business

january shop update: alice + meeka madeit

The shop is officially open again!

It has been so lovely to have a little bit of time off and relax with my family and friends the past few weeks. Down time great increases my productivity and creativity. I am certainly planning on scheduling in lots more down time in this year for sure.

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So are you ready to see some fun products from the shop and hear about how you might use them?  Lets jump in!

First up is a brand new original and handmade product rage. Gorgeous mixed media wall hangings. Friends I laboured over these for so very long. I wanted this first small batch to be totally unique and the perfect mixes of colours, textures and styles. I am so happy with how these turned out.

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Each wall hanging is one of a kind and will not be remade to sell again. When you purchase your wall hanging you will have an original item that no one else has. So if there is one that has caught your attention run dont walk to the shop to make it yours.

They measure approximately 18cm wide and feature staggered hoops, mixed wool and cotton fibres as well as other decorative elements. It has been so much fun collecting items and ideas for these wall hangings. I can’t wait to make some more.

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Our next brand new product is our balloon balls. If your kids are anything like mine they will love having a balloon to kick, throw and hit about. Having a balloon ball means that small children will be safe from popped balloons. Each balloon ball can be reused over and over and over again, simply place a deflated balloon inside the opening and then blow up the balloon until the ball is filled and round. Tie off the balloon and you have lots of fun just waiting to be had.

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Also new to the store are our fold away reuseable shopping bags. These sweet little packages fold up small to fit in your handbag and then fold out into a simple fabric bag that it perfect for a few items from the shops. Don’t get caught out again without your reusable bag.

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Still in stock are our popular library bags. These bags feature an internal pocket with ribbon that is perfect for keeping a library card attached and safe. Each bag is made with a simple calico front and a feature fabric back. As a part of your purchase, your bag can be customised with a sweet letter initial on the front. This is usually in a complementary fabric that coordinates with the back fabric. Double ribbon exclosure ensures that the bag closes snuggly as well as some lovely beads as the perfect finishing touch.

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Inside Pocket + ribbon for card

Our featured felt dinosaur 3D toys are a fun take anywhere toy for the kids.

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Felt dinosaurs

We still have in stock a range of adults and childrens headbands in gorgeous summer prints.

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Our trio of busy bags can be used for a range of things both in the home and whilst you are out and about. A set can help to keep travel items tidy, to fill with activities for the kids on a long trip or to organised smaller pieces and keep everything together.

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I hope you see something that you have fallen in love with. Head on over now to the shop and grab something special today.

cleaning + homemaking · home + decorating · organising + decluttering

declutter it challenge: week 2

Are you ready to jump into our declutter it challenge week two? How have you been going with the challenge? If you are currently saying what challange? You can catch up on the introduction here and week one here.

In addition to the before and after of decluttering my laundry room, I also have an example of how clutter can have a follow on effect and affect the routines and processes in your home.

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The second space I dealt with in the #amdeclutterit challenge is my laundry room. It had become a dumping ground of things that I needed to deal with, extra supplies that didn’t yet have a home, as well as an overflow of things that didn’t even belong in my home anymore. And whilst I would try to clear the counter and flat space most weeks new things always found there way there. The worst space for me were the cupboards. It is great to have some built in storage in this space. Whilst these cupboards are not ideal, they are deep and tall and the doors don’t close really well, they do provide space to contain and categorise a lot of home related stuff. There are four individual cupboards all stacked in a corner of the room. Below you will see two at a time.

Lets take a look at the before photos.

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Above was my biggest problem. My cleaning cupboard has just had things stuffed in there. I have way too many spray bottles, some of the stuff I don’t even use any more and it made it really hard to find what I needed. The follow on effect from having such a cluttered and overwhelming space meant that I hated to clean and I procrastinated big time. I avoided cleaning as much as possible and did the bare minimum that I could get away with. Argh!

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The next two cupboards are not quite as cluttered. These two are closer to the ground are are used to store extra laundry supplies and household items.

To the left of the cupboards is our small freezer and upright laundry sorter. Before I began to declutter the top of them looked like this. img_9346

So much random stuff that needed to be dealt with.

Continuing to turn to the left is the laundry sink and our stacked washer and dryer. Beside the washer and dryer is a small set of shelves that hold laundry supplies and then all my cleaning equipment beside that.

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The door out to the hall is on the left here. As this space was so small I decided not to completely empty out everything all at once. Instead I had my rubbish basket, donation tub and basket for other items out in the hall. I cleared and made decisions about all the stuff on top of the freezer and laundry sorter first and then used that space to empty a cupboard at a time.

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I took the opportunity to deep clean each cupboard. I found that even after vacuuming and washing them they still felt a little dirty. It was then that I decided to remove the old 70’s contact paper and what a difference that made! It really did. Its the little things friends. I relined the one cupboard that I keep all my cleaning supplies in with white contact and left the rest of them wood.

With clean fresh surfaces to keep things, it was time to put the newly edited items back in. Through this declutter I amassed a huge laundry basket full of rubbish and not too much else really. It was easy to reorganise everything once the rubbish and excess had been taken away. Lets see the after!

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Yay! This stuff makes me so happy. I used a few baskets that I already had to hold cleaning cloths and scrubbing brushes underneath my cleaning caddy. Extra and large sized cleaning supplies are in the large caddy on the left.

Toilet paper, paper towel, tissues and household supplies are still on the top shelf.Below I made a little mosaic so that you can see the side by side before and afters.

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I also gave the bottom two shelves a freshen up and tidied the rest of the space.

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All finished and fresh. Believe it or not having a nice clean space and knowing where to find everything helped me to get back on track with my regular cleaning routine. Next week I will go into detail and show you the routine I have in place, how it works for me and some printables that I use and love so come back then to see that.

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I would love to hear if you have been joining in the #amdeclutterit challenge. Have any of your spaces negatively affected your routines? Tell me in the comments.

PS. See how I store my linens and organise my medicine cupboard 

 

 

 

 

cleaning + homemaking · home + decorating · organising + decluttering

declutter it challenge : week 1 + a big lesson

We are back with week one of our declutter it challenge. To catch up with the how, why and when of this challenge head back and read the introduction post. If you are tuning back in to check on my progress and be encouraged let’s jump in.

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This week I have started on our office/creative space and the kitchen. I still need to finish both of those spaces. I was however able to start and finish both the laundry and the playroom/toys. Both of which I am really happy with. Both spaces feel so much lighter and more airy already. Today I’m going to share with you the playroom space.

Lets start with the messy before photos. I saw no reason to tidy the room before I got started.

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As there was no large clear space in this room, I bought in a trestle table and set myself up on there.

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I got my donation tub, basket for other things, rubbish bags and cleaning supplies all set up. Added in some coffee, water and music and I was all ready to jump in.

I got started on the large book shelves in the back of the first photo up there. I pulled out each tub, basket, box and item and slowly worked thru them all following the process that I outlined last week. I made sure pieces matched up, that extra bits were put with the right things and that all like items were put together. I slowly, slowly worked around the room until I was all done.

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The above photo was taken about 3 hours in. I had done most of the different areas around the room at this stage. I just needed to do some final tidying and pack everything away.

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One very full basket of rubbish and a full donations tub too.

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And all done. This room took me over five hours to complete, my husband was home on this day and was a great help with the kids. With out him here this size of space would have taken me the better part of two days. I think the room looks a lot less visually cluttered now.

The biggest lesson I learnt? Well nearly 80% of all the rubbish that I found and threw out came from this section below.

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Which I just think goes to show that you can organised clutter and rubbish and still make it look good. Opps. Most of what I threw out was used up colouring books, old half used supplies, dried out textas and what I’m calling “aspirational” craft supplies. Those that I bought with the intention of using with the boys but never got there.

So tell me friends, how have you been going with your decluttering? Found in “aspirational” items as you have worked through some spaces? Share your stores in the comments below or add in a photo on Facebook.

Come back next week to check out my decluttered laundry. I’ll share a sneak peek in the next few days.


 

Ps see our play room tour here and read about my why for being organised too. 

alice + meeka · health + wholeness · heart + hope · seasonal + celebrations

choosing to cultivate in 2017

I adore a fresh start, a new calendar, a blank journal and starting a new season just as a lot of other people do. I just don’t necessarily think that all those things have to or must happen on January 1st. There is nothing remarkable about that specific day. You can choose to make a fresh start on any day. I believe that each day we are given a new hope and fresh start. Each and every new sunrise can be our “January 1st”. When we fix our eyes and hearts on truth, we are made new and with each new day are so many possibilities.

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I love setting goals. I love looking at the days, weeks and months ahead and fleshing out what I hope to do and how I hope to do it. Goals are cultivated and stepped towards throughout the year for me. So in that way I don’t really do “new years resolutions”. I, like many other people, have an ever moving and changing list of things that I am working on or attempting to improve in my daily life ; things that I am cultivating.

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I just love the definition of the word Cultivate. “to prepare and work on”, “to promote growth”, “to develop or improve by education or training” and “to devote oneself too”. All these definitions point to something being built and grown rather than something being ticked or crossed off. As I was praying I was reminded of a few things as I thought about what I wanted to cultivate in my life this year.

  • Change happens one day at a time and small things add up to big things.
  • I have felt the need to get quiet and still and prayerful. At a time of year when many people are shouting and oversharing, I have been trying to be quiet and small. I like to think that me sharing this list is not a declaration from the roof tops but an unzipping of my heart and letting you see the hopes and plans that dwell there.
  • I want to continue to have open hands and a soft heart for how these hopes will manifest and be executed. Somethings just can’t be measured by numbers and dates.

 

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Image Credit : LaraCasey.com

With all those thoughts in mind here is a list of a few things I am choosing to cultivate in 2017

Cultivating my relationships

  • Have a date night a month with my husband.
  • Focus on family dinners
  • Celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary.
  • Work towards having my weekends be social media free.
  • Find tangible ways to show friends and family that I appreciate them

Cultivating financial wisdom

  • Save over 10% of our income to put towards our own home (we’re officially debt free!)
  • Participate in a spending fast each 1/4 year
  • Fine tune our cash budget system.

Cultivating in my blog/small business/social media

  • Continue to blog 2-3 times per week.
  • Share more creativity (both personal + others) on the blog + social media platforms
  • Implement shop updates every two months (maybe every month)
  • Develop more cohesive collections for shop updates
  • Continue with finance/admin fridays.

Cultivating my physical/intellectual/spiritual health

  • Gain health + work on habits that support health
  • Make amazing salads (and soups in the winter). Collect 12 go to recipes for everyday use.
  • Aim for and track 10,000 steps per day.
  • Read 26 + books.
  • Implement a weekly Sabbath (day of rest) for my family.
  • Work on home keeping systems + routines. Adjust for our current life season

 

Oh I really do feel such a sense of peace and contentment as I look over this list. I am excited to get to work and focus on these (and the things that come along as well of course) for this year. I think some of these things naturally lend themselves to a more detailed blog posts. So look out for them throughout the year.

Are you choosing to cultivate something new this year? I would love to hear all about it! Tell me here or leave me a comment on Facebook or Instagram.


 

PS my list of lessons and achievements from last year, three things that I am not so organised in and staying organised with kids

 

 

 

alice + meeka · organising + decluttering

declutter it challenge : introduction

It’s about this time of the year that I start to get the itch to throw some stuff out. To declutter and get rid of some stuff. I think its a combination of the new year (a “fresh start” so to speak), new things coming in (hello christmas gifts) and not having done a good declutter for a little while now (hello end of year celebrations).

In light of all those factors I thought it would be fun to share my process with you all and give you a chance to play along. Which leads me to introducing the very first (of many) alice + meeka declutter it challenge. Play along using the hashtag #amdeclutterit

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Yay! Oh I do hope you will play along for a little or a lot.

Onto some details. I have decided that this post will be a great big introduction, planning steps and tips + tricks. Its gonna be a bit long, but I personally always appreciate knowing all the parameters at the beginning of a challenge like this. That way I can get organised and work at my own pace if I want to, rather than waiting for the next bit of information. So grab a cup of coffee (or cool drink) + a notepad and pen and let get started.


Timeline

This challenge will take place over the four weeks of January. With this post being the introduction and to help you get organised. I will then have a post each thursday to show the what and how of each space that I decluttered that week.

Action step: Read this post, make notes + make lists of any supplies that you might need to purchase or gather.


Decluttering plan of attack

As much fun as it is to have a great big list of different areas to declutter, I have decided to approach this project a bit differently. This time around I will be focusing on four rooms (one each week), and then focusing that further by having a specific space with in that room that I really want to tackle. So if nothing else in that room gets done then at least I will have decluttered that one area that has really been bugging me. My four areas will be as follows. (I will add links, as the month rolls on)

Laundry – specifically my cleaning supplies cupboard

Kitchen – specifically the pantry, tupperware drawers + upper cupboards

Study/Craft room – specifically the desks + home paperwork

Playroom – specifically finding homes for the new toys + craft supplies

I personally find that starting and finishing different spaces quickly snowballs into me tackling other spaces too. Follow me on Instagram + Facebook to see what other areas I start to declutter too. Use the hashtag #amdeclutterit if you are playing along

Action step: Decide on and write down four rooms and then the specific areas within those  rooms that you wish to tackle.


My decluttering tools

Putting in a little bit of thought and organisation before you begin will really help you have a successful decluttering session. The tools + items I like to gather and have available are…

A tub for donations : to quickly place anything that you need to donate.

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A basket for items that don’t belong in the space. Saves you wandering around the house returning miscellaneous items and possibly getting distracted.

A note book and pen to write lists of things you need to purchase, types of storage you might want and random things that you think of during your declutter. Again to save you stopping and going to do it and possibly getting distracted.

Cleaning supplies to deep clean the space and give you a clean slate.

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Music / podcasts + portable speaker for some tunes or interesting topics to listen too.

Rubbish bags for anything that needs to go straight in the bin.

You might also want another basket for items that you plan to sell. Not something that I personally do. Also helpful is to have space to empty out the area that you are decluttering so that you can start with a blank slate. A nearby table or the floor are both great options.

You may want to include some labeling and organisational supplies too. depending on how far you want to go. Dont make the mistake of thinking that organising and decluttering are the same thing though. It is totally possible to have organised clutter. 😉

Action step: make a list and purchase or gather supplies into the one place before decluttering begins.


My decluttering process

With each update that I do in the month ahead, I will take you through the specific steps that I took for each space. But I want to share a general process that I tend to follow when decluttering too.

  • Gather supplies + have them all close by and ready to go.
  • Turn on some music or a podcast
  • Empty the entire space/area that you are working on, onto a nearby table or floor space.
  • As you work, throw any obvious items straight into the bin, broken missing or multiples.
  • As you empty, place things in categories of like with like.
  • Once the space is completely clear, give it a really good clean and wipe down. Remove shelves, baskets or dividers and wash these too. Put any linens/fabrics through the washing machine.
  • Starting with one category at a time, sort through and declutter. Ask yourself : when do I use this? How often do I need it? Is this the best place to store this item? Is it a double of an item I already have? Why do I want to keep it? Can I get another if I realise I need it again?
  • It’s important to think carefully and critically. Take your time. Some things will be easy to throw away others you may need to give yourself a little bit of time to process.
  • Reorganise the items you’re keeping back by category into your clean space. Reuse containers/baskets + dividers that you already have. Shoe boxes and small gift boxes also work really well.
  • Write down anything you need to do/buy as you go.
  • Place all items back away again, pay careful attention to where you place things and how you access things.
  • You should have a clear space that is both decluttered and then reorganised by category.
  • Take a few minutes to clean up, throw rubbish in the bin, bag up donations and put in your boot for drop off and redistribute items that belong elsewhere.
  • Replenish + collate all your supplies together again ready to tackle the next space.

Action step : Mentally prepare yourself to declutter by taking yourself through the process.


Tips + Tricks 

Are you itching to get started yet? I know I am. But before we jump in, let’s take a few minutes to take care of few other areas so that getting this one area sorted doesn’t greatly impact the rest of your home.

  • Meal plan, grocery shop + prep some easy dinner meals for your family. Decluttering can be tiring work so having as much done beforehand can be helpful.
  • Pack lunchboxes and snacks for the kids and yourself the night before or at the start of the day. This minimises you having to stop to prepare food or find a snack for a hungry kid. (also see above)
  • Make sure you have full cool water available. Fill and have a drink bottle with you
  • Do a load of laundry or at least your regular morning jobs before you begin. You may want a decluttered pantry but I’m pretty sure your husband will still want clean underwear ;).
  • Shower + get dressed to start your day. I seem to find that I am more productive once I have gotten dressed.
  • Think of or organise some special activities for the kids. Or if possible organise a play date or day at Grandma’s. I will have my kids at home with me during this challenge, so I will be getting creative with some ideas and no doubt we will watch a little bit more TV than usual too.

Action step: Meal plan, grocery shop, do jobs and any other things that will set yourself up for a successful day or week of decluttering.


 

Phew! Did you make it this far friends? That was a lot of words. I hope that you are feeling excited and prepared to get started. I really want you to succeed in this challenge so hopefully you have found all this information encouraging and supportive.

Now is your time to grab your list and get shopping and prepared. Gather your supplies and even get started if you want. I will see you back here next thursday to share the before and after, as well as the process and progress on my first space.

PS dont forget to follow along on Facebook or Instagram to see what else I have happening too.Use the hashtag #amdeclutterit if you are playing along. 🙂

PPS you can see how I organise my medicine cabinet or store my linens or organise kids clothes too

alice + meeka · heart + hope

lessons + achievements

As we flip the final few days of 2016 on our calendars, many of us reflect on the past year, what we did or didn’t do, things we achieved and lessons we learnt. Before I sat down to pray and plan for the year ahead, I recently took a few minutes to write down some lessons and achievements from the past year.  I thought I would share them here too as a nice way to tie up the year before jumping into some exciting things for the year ahead.

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This list is of course not exhaustive but I think it’s a pretty good summary of the year that was. So without further adieu I give you a list of things that I learnt and achieved this year….

I need to remember to let my circumstances + experiences add to my story, not define my identity. Oh how quickly I can tend to let my current circumstances consume and define me. I let myself be my circumstances rather than let them change and mould parts of me that needed to be.

I realised that I need non – people time to recharge and refocus.

I really love and miss reading books on a regular basis. I am planning on doing something about that next year.

I found that pouring into and loving people is never a waste of time.

I decided to stop waiting for people to call/contact/reach out to me. I made the first move, called them and arranged a coffee date or playdate. I plan to continue to seek out and create a community moving forward too.

I learnt what my skills, talents + time are worth and began valuing them.

I valued the importance of prayer in the foundational + functional building of my small business + the ability to keep open hands and a soft heart in all my business plans.

We paid off our personal loan which means moving forward we have zero debt. We are excited to get cracking on saving for a home of our own.

I took the plunge and opened a handmade shop, made a FB page and started this here blog.

I learnt that with in community we benefit more from building others up rather than tearing them down. Their success and talent in no way diminishes my success and talent.

I learnt to see balance is more a game of twister than a set of scales.

 

I would love to hear what you learn this year? Do you like to reflect back and then look ahead?


PS. A few things that I am not so organised at and my why to being organised

PPS. I am super excited to launch my very first decluttering challenge in the new year. Check back on Thursday to get all the details!