That Sinking Feeling

Now that the holidays are over, we are ready to settle into our homes and begin the new year. For many, that means attention to neglected areas. Let me introduce you to my kitchen sink!

I don’t know why, but the area under the kitchen sink seems to be one of the least favourite areas in the house. Maybe because of the sink pipes? Or maybe because that’s where all the cleaning stuff gets stored? This is certainly a problem the Proverbs 31 woman didn’t have to think about, as she fetched her water from a nearby well.

I have never considered it to be an unpleasant area, although until a year ago I did have my cleaning products under the sink. Since then, I have moved them to a cupboard in the laundry room, which is right next to the kitchen, so it’s still convenient — the advantages to living in a condo!

I still have my kitchen garbage container hanging on one of the cupboard doors, because that is one of the things I can’t stand to see sitting in a kitchen. On the other door I have a small acrylic container that holds my sponge/scrubbers and also a selection of cloths that I can grab quickly when I need one (part of my commitment to use fewer paper towels.) Sitting on the floor of the cupboard I have dish soap, a bottle brush, extra garbage bags, and dishwasher powder. I keep it in a brass and glass container from India, and I enjoy using a heart-shaped spoon to add it to the dishwasher. 

The rest of the space is used to store my baking sheets with their silicone liners, and pizza stones. They stand up in a file folder holder. On the other side I keep my Quick Cooker from Pampered Chef. It is a pressure cooker/slow cooker all in one, so it gets a lot of use year-round, but especially in the winter, when soups, stews, and chilis are on the lunch menu! Rolled up in the back corner is Epicure’s rolling rack, which fits perfectly onto one side of my sink.

Oh, and let’s not forget to replace the shelf liner whenever it looks like it needs to be refreshed. Finish up with a polish of your sink. I clean mine every day and polish once a week.

And that’s it! An under the sink area that might even become your favourite spot in the kitchen!

Why I Have a Set of Dishes for 12

I am starting the New Year with a confession, and yes, you read that title right! I – the one who preaches on getting rid of excess – I have set of dishes for 12 people! But let me explain:

  • This set is made by Lagostina. It has simple, yet elegant design, which is equally at home at breakfast or on our most formal tablescapes. 
  • It also coordinates well with a small set of Blue Willow I acquired a few years ago. In that way, it replaces the Royal Albert that I sold years ago.
  • It is white, so it can be used in any room, and combined with any accessory. We don’t need the matching cream and sugar, salt and pepper, or teapot. It looks just as  good with our crystal salt and pepper shakers as with our pepper grinder.
  • It is made of porcelain, not likely to chip, and is safe in the dishwasher and the microwave. Something my Royal Albert could not do.
  • We don’t have to eat off unmatched dishes.
  • It takes no more space to stack 12 dinner plates than it would to stack 6.
  • There are only two of us, yet we want to be careful with the water and electricity we use. We are always able to run the dishwasher with a full load.
  • Because we are saving for a full load, a smaller set would mean unexpected company would have to wait until we run the dishwasher. With our larger set, we always have at least six place settings in the cupboard – and we can seat six at our dining room table!

TODAY’S SCRIPTURE: Ecclesiastes 3:6

…a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away.

TODAY’S MESSAGE:

Like many of you, I’m enjoying Marie Kondo’s Netflix show!

The average home of today is larger than the Proverbs 31 woman’s house, and the average family has much more accumulated “stuff” than her family had.

Not everyone is born organized, and there is nothing wrong with having to work harder at it. It is wrong, though, not to work at it. You owe it to yourself and your family to provide a clean, neat, and orderly environment. Everyone can become more organized.

There is actually a Biblical precedent to being organized: God is not one who likes things to be disorderly or upset. How can we justify keeping cluttered and messy homes?

It’s best to start with just a half-hour; any longer might be overwhelming at first. In true Proverbs spirit, make it thirty-one minutes!

Decide where to start. If you are faced with the task of de-cluttering your entire home, begin with the easiest area to build up momentum and create the feeling of instant gratification. Once that area is cleared of clutter you must strive to keep it that way, while at the same time working on other areas.

Begin by placing five boxes in the center of the room. Label them as follows:

  • Throw away: Anything that is missing parts, broken or no longer usable
  • Give away: Anything that is in good shape but hasn’t been used in at least a year, is a duplicate, or is cluttering up the room. Share it with a friend or donate it to charity
  • Sell: Items for a yard sale
  • Put away: Anything that belongs in another room
  • Store: Seasonal items or those that will be used again within a year

Place as much into these boxes as you can in thirty-one minutes. Plan to return to the job again each day until the entire room is finished.

At the end of each thirty-one minute session, put everything in the “put away” box where it belongs.

Deal with the “throw away” box immediately.

When the “give away” box is full, place it in the trunk of your car until you get a chance to drop it off for donation. Don’t let these items back into your home, or they may take root again.

If you don’t plan to have a yard sale, don’t use the “sell” box. Simply place those things into the “give away” box. Yard sales take effort to set up, and you cannot expect to get for your items the price that they are worth. Yet, many people enjoy the satisfaction of letting go of their unwanted objects and making a little extra cash at the same time.

Find an out-of-the-way spot to place the “store” box until it is needed again.

 

Getting Organized for Christmas

  • Do you find the approaching holidays are causing you stress?
  • Are your Christmas decorations, schedule and clutter a main part of this stress?

Take a deep breath and start with the items on this list… they are designed to give you the illusion of order, which will create the serenity you need to tackle the rest!

BEFORE CHRISTMAS

As soon as you put up the Christmas tree begin to pull gifts from their hiding places, wrap them, and let them be part of the decor.

Take away some of your decorative items and store them in the Christmas decoration boxes. That way, you will have less clutter during the holidays.

Finish your shopping early so you won’t have to deal with the shopping mall parking lots. Buy your turkey and put it in the freezer. The same with your holiday baking. And streamline the gift-giving that gets out of hand — after all, Baby Jesus only got three gifts.

DURING THE HOLIDAYS

Pick a date and decide that as of then you will be “as ready as you’ll ever be.” The most important things will be done by then. You are only one person and no one wants you to be frazzled.

Take a look at the decorations still in the box. There’s a reason you didn’t put them up. If they’re broken, throw them out. If they no longer fit your decorating scheme, or if you have no room for them, pass them along to someone who can use them.

Make room for the new gifts and teach your children a valuable lesson at the same time. Have them go through their toys, clothes, and books with you; let them choose ones that they have outgrown or no longer want. Help them donate items that are still in good condition to less fortunate children.

AFTER NEW YEAR’S

Put away your decorations with next year in mind. It may seem a long way off, but you’ll be glad you took the time to sort, detangle, and arrange things in their boxes.

Be sure your decorations are well protected. Invest in plastic totes that are waterproof. They are available in red and green so you can identify them at a glance next year.

Assign an empty box to hide gifts you purchase throughout the year.

As you think to next year, consider non-clutter and consumable gifts. Gift cards, theatre tickets, wine, tea, chocolate…

Our P31 home: part 1, the kitchen

In this post, you can explore our kitchen cupboards and drawers, see what’s under our kitchen sink, and what we keep on our counters. Our kitchen is not large so it’s important that we keep only what we actually use.

STORAGE ON COUNTERTOPS, FRIDGE, and POT RACK:

I cook exclusively with copper, and the pot rack creates space as well as adding to the kitchen decor. I’ve also added plaster columns and a couple of framed prints. The wine rack on the fridge is convenient and adds to the ambiance of the kitchen.

A set of knives and index cutting boards are conveniently beside the sink and my prized possession — my copper KitchenAid stand mixer. Beside the stove, and on the counter space below the coffee and tea cupboard, we have the Keurig machine.

Fruit is convenient in a crystal bowl, and my grandmother’s crystal pedestal cake plate is perfect for baked treats. Whenever I save a recipe, I print it and enclose it in a plastic sheet protector, ready for the leather binder that has become the “cookbook I wrote.” The brass easel keeps the recipes right at my fingertips.

TOP CUPBOARDS:

The cabinet above the sink is where I organize the attachments to the KitchenAid mixer. The cabinet to the left of the sink holds measuring cups, mixing bowls, and assorted spices, etc on a lazy susan.

In the cabinet above the stove and microwave we keep our food storage containers. We shop and cook in a way that leaves no leftovers, but I like to cook in batches and store portions in the freezer, so we use quite a few of these containers regularly on a rotating basis.

The cabinet above the dishwasher holds our glassware. On the the top shelf are the Waterford crystal wine glasses.

Our dishes are stored to the right of the stove. They are white with a scalloped edge, and can be used for entertaining as well as everyday, which means we don’t have a need for two sets. Since this cabinet is handy to the kitchen sink, not how the paper towel holder is mounted on the cupboard door, eliminating the visual clutter of paper towels in view.

We keep everything to do with tea and coffee in the cupboard above the Keurig. We like to use the refillable pods for two reasons: it saves us money because we buy our coffee in large tins, and because refilling them saves the environment. Top shelf: mugs and the carafe to the Keurig. Middle shelf: Glass teapot with candle warmer, sugar bowl and cream jug. Bottom shelf: More mugs, milk frother for our morning lattes, Keurig pods in basket.

 

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This cabinet above the fridge is hard to reach, and I’ve saved this one for last because I’m sure you’re very curious… since Dave and I don’t have a lot of extra stuff, it’s empty!

BASE CABINETS:

 

Our kitchen has the dreaded L, in which a far corner is difficult to reach. I recommend to clients that they use that area for seldom-used items, such as the turkey roaster. In our case, the corner area is empty, because we are able to store our kitchen equipment in the the area of the cupboard that is visible from the open door. The photo is hard to see, but the turkey roaster is on the bottom shelf, with the salad spinner beside it, and the kettle is also in this area when not in use. The next shelf holds the mandolin and waffle iron, and the sandwich maker is on the top shelf. The kitchen towel is on a ring mounted on the inside of the cupboard door because using the oven door handle as a towel holder is one of my pet peeves!

In the cabinet under the sink we have waste container on one door and liquid soap/pot scrubber on the other. Inside the cupboard we keep the recycling bin and slow cooker.

Beside the freezer are two narrow cupboards. One of them holds our blender perfectly and keeps it at easy reach. It’s hard to see on the shelf behind it, but that is where we keep our hot air corn popper for romantic movie evenings in front of the TV. The toaster is stored in the cabinet beside it, where it can be easily removed for daily use. Behind it are at couple of pieces of white Corningware, which we use only several times a year. On the shelf is our food scale.

DRAWERS:

The use of divided trays helps create drawers in which everything is visible — from cutlery and kitchen gadgets to towels and the handheld blender.

FOOD STORAGE:

I believe that the key to keeping food storage organized begins at the grocery store, by not buying more than you can fit into the fridge. When I cook, I often make enough to freeze for future meals.

 

The pantry just off the kitchen is where the food is kept in bins and glass jars. It even has room for my shopping basket. The top shelf holds extra paper towels and tissue.

This is the first of a series of posts on a theme. It has become common for professional organizers to do virtual tours of their own homes in order to showcase what they do, and I have decided to open our home through these posts. Dave and I invite you to see how we live through photographs of our home. We aren’t minimalists, but we do need to keep things to a minimum, as our condo is just over 1000 square feet. We’ll show you everything — open every closet, cupboard and drawer — so you can see not only how I’ve arranged it to appear organized, but also how it looks behind closed doors!

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