Saturday, January 31, 2009

January: Week Four, "Whip Your Kitchen Into Shape"

Yes, I know it's the last day of January. So I'm a tiny bit behind...

I'm not completely done with the kitchen yet, but I expect to be this weekend. This doesn't include the kitchen nook, though--that will have to overflow into the bedroom month.

Author Regina Leeds talks about how to prepare for an organizing project (choose your peak time of day--in my case, there's not much choice--evenings are really the only time I have available for this task).

She advises a second round of speed elimination. I skipped that step because my first speed elimination was fairly thorough...although I'm regularly discarding items as I tackle each section of the kitchen.

Leeds approaches each section or aspect of the kitchen:

Kitchen tools: She advises where to keep them, and suggests that we really don't need multiple can openers, wine bottle openers, nutcrackers, garlic presses, etc. This is generally not an issue for us because I have regularly weeded through our gadgets.

Take-out stuff: She suggests discarding any extra chopsticks, soy sauce, etc. I think I have a few of these in my fridge, and when I clean my fridge today, out they will go! Also, she suggests keeping takeout menus in a binder.

Large equipment: She suggests storing large, seasonal, or rarely used appliances in out-of-the-way areas. As I've previously written, I've already been following this philosophy.

Countertop items: I do not like having a lot of crap on my counters, so the only items we regularly keep there are (1) a tea kettle, and (2) a compost container. When I clean out the cabinet under the sink this weekend, though, I think I'm going to look for a way to move the compost container. The tea kettle is used SEVERAL times a day, so it makes sense to keep on the counter.

Baking gear: I already moved my Christmas cookie cutters (as she advises), and have weeded through my baking equipment.

Food storage containers: This is another area I've stayed fairly well on top of. We don't have tons of Tupperware or other storage containers...and the ones we have, we use regularly. (I often take leftovers in my lunch.)

Paper and plastics: We do buy paper products in bulk, but we keep them in the basement out of the way.

Dishtowels, potholders, and aprons: I weeded out the dishtowels, potholders, and aprons when I cleaned the linen drawer and one of the kitchen cabinets, and consigned the older dishtowels to rags, as Leeds suggests. She also suggests rolling the dishtowels to save room.

The pantry: She suggests organizing the pantry into categories and using shelf dividers.

Pet food: I skipped this section because we don't have any pets.

The refrigerator: She has some suggestions for refrigerator organization, but nothing that I hadn't already thought of.

But here is one thing that made me think: Leeds says that "refrigerator poeple come in two basic types: those who cover theirs with magnets, notices, and photos, and those who like an unadorned refrigerator. I would urge you to either join the latter group or at least pare your items down to a minimum."

Now this is radical notion for a busy family with three kids. Our refrigerator was adorned with magnetic poetry, various types of adult and kid magnets, notes, grocery lists, reminders, kids' drawings, and photos. No longer! This morning I took down all the photos and notes, got rid of a lot of the magnets, and consolidated the remaining items to the sides of the fridge. (Because we live in an old 1938 house, our refrigerator is a stand-alone item and is not surrounded by cabinets.) Finally, I took down all of the magnetic poetry that we've had up for over 15 years. Now that was quite a task! Do you know how long it takes to remove magnetic poetry? I haven't yet cleaned the front of the fridge yet, but when I do it will be very exciting. I really like the cleaner, bare look! Leeds is right that a cluttered fridge "looks messy and feels chaotic."

Shopping lists: Leeds keeps her own shopping lists in three sections, for each store at which she shops. I love the shopping lists on Cozi, because I can create one for Trader Joe's, one for Costco, one for Fred Meyer, and one for New Seasons.

Under the sink: I'm going down under today!! I don't think it's too bad under there, but we shall see!

The junk drawer: Check--I did this last night while Mike and I were watching a movie. I'll post photos later.

The kitchen counter office: Don't have one of those, but we do have a kitchen nook, which attracts a lot of clutter!!!

Leeds ends the chapter by talking about creating new habits and reminding us that she had said at the beginning of the chapter that it takes 21 consecutive days to form a new habit. I do feel that Mike and I are both much more focused on keeping the counters clean and cleared before we go to bed. And each time I open a cleaned cabinet or drawer, I feel such a great sense of satisfaction!!


  1. Marie, you get a gold star. Way to go! You are an inspiration to all who visit here.

    Regina Leeds

  2. Thank you, Regina, for giving so many of us the structure and motivation to get our lives organized!

  3. :) I missed the chapter on the month of January this year, but reading your post was so exciting and motivating for when I do that chapter.

  4. Wow, you got a gold star from Regina Leeds. Isn't that comparable to an Oscar? Or at least a Tony? You did work really hard this month. I must try harder next month.