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Posts Tagged ‘kitchen’

I don’t know about you, but when I decide to clean something, I go all in.  On Saturday morning, we enjoyed cornmeal and blueberry pancakes from a cookbook Middle Son gave me for Christmas (the recipe needs some tweaking but it has potential.) And as we ate, I kept looking over at the kitchen and thinking about the pent-up post-holiday clutter that never seemed to quite go away no matter how many times I glared at it. Hmmmm.

So as soon as breakfast was over, I set in to clean, and clean I did.  The dishwasher and oven cleaned themselves, but every surface and several cabinets got some one-on-one time with me.  Every countertop was completely cleared, scrubbed and buffed.   The backsplash areas got a damp cloth and stubborn stains got treated to the magic of a Magic Eraser.  The plasticware cabinet was overhauled and the coffee grinder was relegated to the garage.  Every now and again, I might need it…but with the arrival of the Keurig, those times are few and far between these days.  As I wiped off the top of the microwave, a strip of plastic suddenly appeared…it was one of those protective strips they put on in the factory so it doesn’t get scratched from store to installation.  For shame.  This house was finished over six years ago and we’ve lived here for almost two years….and I’m just now finding and removing it? I *do* wipe that ledge atop the microwave occasionally, I swear.

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The finishing touch was to scrub and buff the sinks.  I had seen this tip on Pinterest and decided to give it a whirl.  Well, at least the last part.  I used my trusty Barkeeper’s Friend to do the scouring, then did the olive oil buff job.  They are definitely shinier and I hope they’ll stay a little cleaner…for at least a few days.  IMG_3254

Do you clean your sinks?  I hear horror stories of people who don’t…really?  I scour mine at least a couple times a week, and definitely after any raw meat has dripped or dribbled in a basin.

Even clean, the kitchen is visually busy.  My rainbow of Fiestaware isn’t exactly a soothing monochromatic color scheme and I use tools, prep bowls and appliances too often to keep them tucked away in cabinets.

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But when it’s clean, it definitely sets a better “tone” for our open floor plan.   And I know the kitchen won’t stay this clean for long.  We work hard, play hard, and eat hard in this area and I wouldn’t have it any other way.  For now, we’ll do what we can to maintain it….and in a few weeks, I’ll be running a sinkful of scalding hot water and doing it all over again.

After the kitchen was finished, Swimmer Girl and I headed out for pedicures and a movie (Les Miserables). Five hours of uninterrupted mother-daughter weekend time = awesome.

I hope your weekend was filled with some activities that gave you a sense of satisfaction, and some opportunities to savor a special moment.  Those are the best weekends, in my book.

Happy Monday,
Terry

P.S. Yes, I’m still keeping up with my daily Bible readings, which is proving extremely convenient since they are posted on Facebook every day.  Last week’s passages blazed a trail through the lives of patriarchs, and I’ve once again pondered our oh-so-human frailties:  deception, favoritism and envy marred the relationships of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and their families.  This week will focus on Joseph…and his ability to see God and good in the trials of life.  We could all learn a lesson or two from his story.

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No, I’m not talking church history.  I’m talking about taking back my house, one piece at a time.

When I said I had been giving cooking and cleaning a lick-and-a promise, I wasn’t kidding.  Dinnertime for the past several weeks has been “every man/woman for themselves.”  Grocery store trips were hit-and-run dashes for a few items I knew we needed, and a few frozen fast foods to appease my children  and my conscience. (They won’t starve. There is food.  It’s unhealthy, calorie- and preservative-laden food. But it is sustenance.)

When the groceries came in the door with me, things got shoved in the right location, generally speaking.  Dry foods in the pantry, cold stuff in the fridge or freezer.  But calling it “putting away” everything would be a bit of a stretch.

There was never a convenient time to actually empty the fridge and cull out the fuzzy uglies hiding in the very back recesses.  The pantry went from shallow walk-in to “open the door and hope nothing falls on you” with zero room to get even my petite little foot inside the door.  It was bad.

And if confession is good for the soul, a thorough cleaning after confession is even better.  Earlier this week I finally had enough of the clutter and guilt:  I drained my second cup of morning coffee for courage, ran a sinkful of hot soapy, bleachy water, grabbed a rag and began clearing the vegetable bins, the lunchmeat and cheese drawer, and then worked my way through the rest of the fridge.  I didn’t have as much to throw away as I had feared, and now I know what I have on hand.  I continued my cathartic cleansing in the pantry.  Again, not as much stale, moldy stuff as I feared, but order has been restored there, too.

The restocking trip to the store was pleasantly brief and inexpensive.  I have all the ingredients to actually COOK the items on this week’s menu, so no excuses and no eating out on Sunday.

Restoring some order is definitely restorative.  Now to tackle the dustbunnies under the couch.   I’m guessing they – like their real-life counterparts – tend to procreate at lightning speed.  And then it’ll be out to the garden to bushwhack the jungle and see what can be salvaged.

Happy restoring,
Terry

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I don’t know about you, but I’m neck-deep in my annual Christmas tree trim-a-thon, with four trees getting all decked out.  If you stop by for a visit, be prepared:  this week my house looks like Hobby Lobby exploded, with tubs and bags and boxes strewn around.  It was clean last week and it’ll be clean next week but there’s just no way to put up Christmas decorations without making a mess.  If there is, please let me know – I haven’t found it yet.

The first one to go up was my kitchen tree.  For years I gave up precious kitchen counter space to a small kitchen tree, decorated with vintage cookie cutters from my childhood, cinnamon “gingerbread” ornaments and other kitchen items.

This year brought us to a new house with a bigger kitchen. That could only mean only one thing, right?  Bring on a bigger kitchen tree!  I spied a 5-foot alpine-type tree on sale before Thanksgiving, and I dragged it home.

But long before I “felled” the new tree, I was hunting down Fiesta ornaments.  I snagged some off eBay and a few more at the October Nashville Flea Market – an even dozen Fiesta disks and  miniature pitchers.   It’s not enough to fill the entire tree, but it gave it a theme.  Then I tucked in old and reproduction kitchen utensils and hung my Christmas cookie cutters and used ric-rac in Fiesta turquoise, red, orange, yellow and chartreuse to hang everything.

As I began writing this post, I assumed I would find countless other Fiesta collectors’ Christmas trees on parade in blogs and websites. In fact, I had high hopes of finding some inspiring ideas to copy – after all, Fiesta has been making and licensing ornaments for quite some time.  But I found nary a mention of a Fiesta Christmas tree.  C’mon, fellow pottery lovers – surely there are other collectors who do a Christmas homage to your favorite dishes, too!

Without further ado, here’s my new kitchen tree, next to the hutch filled with my vintage Fiesta pieces:

And here’s the “big picture” view, with my new eBay bargains: a Fiesta Riviera platter and Kitchen Kraft cake plate (plus my existing Kitchen Kraft red and green bowls) perched merrily on top of the hutch.  The vintage tins in the apple basket beneath the tree are on standby – next week they’ll start filling up with homemade candies and cookies, then stored in the freezer until time to serve or make up plates of sweet treats to give away.

And here’s Luci, who has decided this is HER favorite tree – at least until the others are up and she can check each of them for napping spots.

So how many trees do YOU decorate?  I try not to play favorites, but I really do heart this tree and I smile every time I pass by it.  (Don’t tell the other trees, please? They are special, too!)

Happy Christmas decorating,

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The following is a true story.  I haven’t changed any names or details to protect the innocent. It happened earlier this week when I decided I would knock out two trouble spots before fall break.

The first hot mess was this plasticware storage cabinet in the kitchen.  It started out fairly neat when we moved in, but every time we pulled something out or put something away, it got a little messier.

Fetching a plastic tub for leftovers was a form of torture.

The second wreck was this under-sink cabinet area on my side of the bathroom.  Like the other one, it started out neater when we moved in but daily use took its toll.

This is the mess I faced each morning and night.

So I asked myself, just how hard could it be to bring some organization to bear?  I mean, reality TV shows can make over entire rooms in half an hour.  Surely this wouldn’t take more than a few minutes, maybe an hour of my time, right?

(Insert hysterical laughter here.  Hahahahahahahahahahahaha…….)

A little background:  when we bought the house, someone had installed a wire two-tier pull-out thing in my bathroom cabinet, seen in the picture above.  (Curses to the builder who skimped on drawer space in the master bath to begin with. I know a base cabinet with only two tiny drawers is cheaper than one with a tower of drawers, but really?  You couldn’t figure out how to squeeze a few more bucks out of the budget and upgrade the cabinetry to a reasonable amount of drawer space when the bathroom is bigger than most bedrooms and some apartments we’ve lived in?)

Ahem. Deep, cleansing breath.  In case you didn’t pick up on it, a lack of drawers is a pet peeve of mine.  Well, really it’s the disorganized chaos that stems from lack of drawer space that is the thorn in my side.

But anyhoo.  This cheesy little wire thing just wasn’t cutting it – my jewelry was a slippery tangled hodgepodge, the hair dryer cord was always flopping over the edge and preventing the cabinet drawer from shutting.  And it looked a mess, no matter how neatly I arranged the bottles and containers of stuff.  Painfully messy.

For several months, I searched the stores and the internet for some decent shelving or drawer unit to insert in there, to no avail.

I finally resigned myself to plastic stacking drawers and tubs.  Gritting my teeth the whole time because I really, really dislike the plastic stuff:  it’s flimsy, wobbly and otherwise prone to rapid failure.

But the wire pull-out thing would work great to corral the kitchen mess, and I needed to find something to organize my bathroom mess in order to free up the pull outs for the kitchen – it’s a process.  Here is what I mentally sketched out beforehand:

1. Take all the stuff out of the wire unit, dump it in a laundry basket to temporarily hold it
2.  Move everything back in, using the plastic drawers and a bin or two.
3. Install the wire pull-out drawers and organize the plastic-ware.

1,2,3, easy as do-rey-me, right?  Errrm, not really.  I quickly realized why these two items had gone undone for so long.  For starters, the laundry basket was full of unfolded clothes.  For shame. No problem – dump them on the bed and fold them when I was done, right? Sure. Except the bed wasn’t made either.  (WHERE are the laundry and cleaning fairies in my hour of need????)  This is how it really went:

Day 1:
1. Make the bed and dump the clothes out of the laundry basket.
2. Fill the basket with bathroom stuff and remove the wire pull-out unit.
3. Install the plastic containers.
4. Cringe and groan because I still hated how it looks – see what I mean?

This was the “after” picture.  Ugh.

5. Move on to the kitchen and install the wire drawers and organize the plastic ware.
6. Move the unfolded clothes back to the basket for the night.

Day 2:
1. Make the bed, dump the clothes back on the bed.
2. March into the bathroom in the cold light of day and take measurements.
3. Visit Target and find a shelf unit that could be cut down and re-tooled to work, plus baskets to optimize the storage space.
4. Pull out the plastic drawers and bins, and fit the new shelf unit around the plumbing (this involved screwing, unscrewing, sawing, re-screwing and installing. And a little glue.)
5. Return to Target to exchange the original baskets for others, because “optimize” does not always mean “biggest size they make.”
6. Move everything from the plastic drawers to the new baskets.
7.  Move the unfolded clothes back to the basket.

Day 3:
1. Make the bed.
2. Fold the now seriously wrinkled clothes and put them away.
3. Return the plastic drawers to the store for a refund.

So instead of a few minutes, this became a project that spanned three days.   All of that, just to organize the contents of two cabinets. But on the bright side, I can now say:

The plastic ware is now neatly organized and accessible.

The bathroom cabinet is organized and functional – I make a happy sigh every time I open the cabinet doors now.  
My makeup and jewelry are in the shallow larger basket on top, easily accessible.  And my everyday jewelry is no longer in imminent danger of dangling or tangling.
The hair dryer has its own bin that is deep enough for the cord to stay neatly inside; cotton balls and swabs and other items have their own little cubby, too.  The other two cubbies hold everything else – lotion, contact lens solution, sunblock, razors, jewelry cleaner, and on and on – it’s a lot of stuff stowed out of sight but within reach.

The clothes are folded and put away.

The bed is made.

An investment of about four hours over three days, including two trips to town, one $10 shelf and five $15 baskets equals peace of mind.  Which is priceless.

The end.

Happy organizing,

P.S. Please tell me…do your home improvement efforts go the same way mine do? Even if they don’t, just tell me they do.
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