This week’s Focus on Simple Mom’s Project: Simplify 2012: the kitchen.
I admit that I spend most of my waking hours in my kitchen, and that I love it. James installed custom cabinets, we painted the walls a glorious Apple Green, and splurged on a special-order sink and faucet instead of buying what was in stock at Lowes or Home Depot. I know, indulgent, right?
For all my time in the kitchen, preparing meals, helping with homework, and cleaning up dishes, I had let some things get disorderly. Or perhaps I had not fully thought through their organization when we moved in and installed the new kitchen in January 2010. So I was very excited to tackle this week’s area.
For starters, I wanted to work on something that always bothers me but is a relatively small space: the refrigerator top. My father always stored his wallet on top of the fridge, and it was that sort of place here, too. (My parents’ refrigerator NEVER got as messy as the picture below…) And while most people who live in our house or visit our house can’t easily see the dusty, cluttery mess on top of our refrigerator/freezer, I could see it, and I hated it.
-Removed everything from space.
-Put things away in more thoughtful places (children’s artwork to save in the treasure box, dry erase markers with other writing utensils, small odds and ends in the trash).
-Scrubbed surface down with damp rag, then antibacterial wipes.
-Cleaned the suction seal around the fridge and freezer doors, since dust, food, and tiny junk falls in.
Still to do:
-I would like to purchase a bin for the top of the fridge that would be subtle and not draw attention to itself. I would use this bin/basket for putting surprise or secret food/kitchen items until I’m ready to use them. This would be things like special birthday candles or ingredients that I don’t want James or the kids to see.
Next, I moved on to a larger project, the pantry.
The pantry in our kitchen is a narrow but deep closet. The result is that things get put into it and then crushed to the back. I do a pretty good job of regularly “shopping the pantry” for items and ingredients I can use in meals, but there have been a few times I have discovered a long lost food that is far past its date for consumption.
The biggest problem is that I shop at BJs for some of our bulk food needs, so there are very large bags and boxes that either must be stored in our (little) pantry or divided into smaller containers with the excess ending up in our downstairs laundry room food pantry. Also, now that my girls are old enough that they pack their own lunches and I trust them to grab a healthy snack when I’m occupied with Calvin or a chore, I needed to reconfigure the pantry space to reflect there being 4 people who can get food for themselves.
Accomplished (fairly self-explanatory):
-Pulled everything out.
-Wiped down shelves with antibacterial wipes.
-Organized all items into basic categories (“salty snacks” “soups” “vegetables” “pasta and rice” “baking” “cereals”).
-Put everything back in.
While in progress, it was a little overwhelming.
Thankfully, the kids were all sleeping, James was working, and I had NPR radio on. It actually took me around 2 hours, start to finish.
Here’s the result:
Still to Do:
Again, a major issue for me is purchasing storage containers. However, I see a trip to IKEA in my future, and I am continuing to gather measurements for spaces that need organizing structures like bins, baskets, and bags.
More generally speaking, this focus on the kitchen has reinvigorated my desire to keep the counters as clear as possible. While my goal most days is to go to bed with a clean (or cleanish) kitchen, it doesn’t always happen, especially if I have a pressing deadline, one of the kids is sick, or I’m just dead tired.
When those things are the case, I’m embarrassed to say that the kitchen looks like this:
Like FlyLady always says, a shiny clean sink makes all the difference. I am recommiting to that again. It may not always be sparkling, but I want to do better.
Finally, we have overflow kitchen pantry storage in the laundry/utility room downstairs. The shelves are from IKEA. James and I have compromised: he gets several shelves, and I get the rest.
I chose not to work on his hardware shelves, not because I couldn’t have, but because we plan to redo the garage this spring/summer and move the majority of his tools out there.
-Pulled everything off the shelves, recycled boxes and reorganized items.
-Wiped down shelves.
-Labelled shelves (baking goods, cleaning supplies, household paper goods) and put everything back.
Still to do:
-Reclaim the hardware shelves.