Annual Kitchen Organization Challenge, Part 1

Hi, all!

I’m back and ready to get started on kitchen organization and decluttering. Especially the decluttering part. I have reached a point in life where I just want less stuff to take care of. It’s time for a reality check as to what I use and don’t use in my kitchen. I love my kitchen gadgets and when I buy stuff, it’s usually for the kitchen.

As I was looking back over previous blog posts – and getting notifications from Facebook about my memories – I realized that the beginning of the year always seems to start with reorganizing and decluttering the kitchen. So I guess I start out strong and then gather things in over the course of the year and need to declutter and organize again. I’m going to (try!) to implement this rule for myself: If you bring something new in, something old has to go out. (That scared me just typing out those words. For real!)

So…let’s get started on kitchen organization. Today is easy – no physical labor required. 🙂 What I want you to do today (or tonight) is to simply walk into your kitchen and look around. That took me approximately 4.8379 seconds as I have a small kitchen. But this was a very important step. I felt my kitchen wasn’t functioning as well as it could be…that things where’re where I needed them to be. So I stood there sipping a cup of coffee, notebook on the counter, and looked around. I thought about dinner prep and what would make that more efficient. I thought about what was near the stove and what was in the pantry.

I asked myself the following questions:

  • Do I have a designated prep space?
  • Are my pots and pans and cooking utensils near the stove?
  • Are like items in the same location (baking products, coffee stuff, etc.)?
  • Is the organization in my kitchen meeting my needs?
  • Is there ANYTHING that could be moved from the counter top to another location. (Cluttered counters are getting on my nerves!)

So, I just want to take a few minutes to look around your kitchen and determine whether or not it’s working for you. If it is, then you can just sit back and relax this week. 🙂 If not, start thinking about what you can do to make it more functional. Functionality is key in kitchen organization. Key, I tell you. The fewer steps you have to take when prepping dinner (or any other meal) saves you time, right? And saving time is good. Very good.

I spent time over the last week reorganizing my kitchen cabinets and pantry. I got some new stuff for Christmas that I needed to make room for. So I got rid of some stuff instead of overcrowding the cabinets. I’m still not satisfied, so I’ll be doing this challenge along with you this week. So take a good hard look at your kitchen and see where you might want to start making changes. 🙂 Write it down. Make a list. You have to have a plan!

I’m taking my pen, notebook, and coffee and heading to the kitchen now.

Have a blessed Monday!

Lynne

Good morning!

Good morning!

Sitting here enjoying a few quiet minutes before getting started on the day.

Praying each of you has a day in which you find joy in the small things and an unexpected blessing or two along the way. Share a smile with someone. It might make their day.

Working on our first Weekly Challenge of 2016. It involves your pantry/food storage “system.” So take a look at the way you store your food and essentials. Really look at it. Start pondering on how well (or not!) your system is working for you. Next week we’re going to make it fabulous.

It won’t cost a lot of money, but it will – hopefully – save you time and energy when you’re in the kitchen.

I’m working on mine this week. I’m taking embarrassing “before” pics. I don’t know how the pantry gets destroyed so quickly. (Well, I do, but I don’t want to name names.)

So enjoy your week. When you find yourself with 15 minutes or so to spare, clear out your “junk drawer.” And if something in there us really junk, throw it out. Yes, out. I’m going to handle that this morning.

Y’all have a blessed day!

Lynne

Weekly Challenge: Kitchen Clean-up

Good Monday morning!

It’s weekly challenge time and we are in the kitchen. This week, it’s one small challenge each day. Easy peasy. These should take 15 minutes or less (definitely less than 30 minutes). You can do these challenges any time during the day. Whenever you can find those 15 minutes. Set your timer and get to work. Here are the challenges for this week. You may need to keep a “donate” or “yard sale” box handy.

Monday: Clean out your “junk” drawer. The junk drawer really needs a better name. If you just have junk in your junk drawer, toss it. And if your junk drawer isn’t in the kitchen, clean it out anyway.

Tuesday: Look through your kitchen utensils. Do you have ten spatulas? Weird utensils that you don’t even know the purpose of? Anything you don’t use on a regular basis – or have never used – gets tossed into the donate/yard sale box.

Wednesday: Clean out your silverware drawer. Take everything out. Vacuum and wipe out the drawer. Wash and dry your utensil sorter if you have one. Put everything back nice and neat.

Thursday: Look through your kitchen appliances. Anything you don’t use? Like…ever? Add it to your donate/yard sale box. (Side Note: My Cuisanart Griddler is going away. I detest that thing!) If you never, ever use your Belgian waffle maker that takes up half of a cabinet you could use for storing something you DO use, let it go.

Friday: Clean your cabinet fronts and knobs. I use Murphy’s Oil to clean the fronts of my cabinet doors and drawers. Then I use disinfecting wipes to wipe down all cabinet knobs, appliance handles (dishwasher, oven, stove top, fridge).

Done! Next week, we’ll do a little more in the kitchen. Little by little, bit by bit.

Have a GREAT week!

Lynne

Organizing the Pantry (again!)

Organizing My Pantry (yes, again)…

EditHello. My name is Lynne and I am a food hoarder. 

Yikes. I was aggravated yesterday looking for something in my pantry and decided that organizing it yet again would be today’s project. I’m not sure why I have so much food, but man…I have a LOT. Maybe subconsciously I am preparing some unforeseen disaster. Seriously, though, I have ten (ten!!) bags and jars of rice! Rice! 

Plus approxi-mately eight boxes of pasta. And a basket of potatoes. And sweet potatoes. It’s a carb lover’s dream. 

I have an entire pantry shelf dedicated to canned veggies. They’re organic and all, but it looks like I’m expecting to never, ever find them at the store again. Ever. 



Please note that the stash of coffee does not qualify as a hoard. That just everyday sanity protection, so move your eyes along from that area. (Avert your eyes.)



Clearly – CLEARLY – someone needs to keep me out of the grocery store for an extended period of time. Someone could go for milk and eggs for me. 

Because in addition to the pantry, my freezer is full. As in, full. Why did I tell my husband that 72 waffles was not too many? I have frozen fruits and veggies to last…well, awhile. I also discovered three roasts, two pork loins, a ham bone, two packs of bacon, a pack of stew beef, and eight packs of chicken breasts. And here I was planning to hit the Fresh Market’s $2.99 Tuesday near sale in the morning. Oh. My. Goodness. 

I really had no idea that I had so much stuff. I’ve been going merrily along spending the money in my grocery fund envelope when I could have probably eaten from what I have and taken myself on a trip to the beach!

All that being said, I’m counting my blessings that I have food to eat. I’m also praying for some self-control. We need to eat from our pantry and freezer until they are depleted. I need to avoid sales flyers and the Publix app on my phone. 

Please…if you see me in a grocery store in the next month, take me by the hand – which may be tightly gripping the grocery cart handle – and escort me to my car. Remind me that I’m saving for a beach trip. If I tell you that I’m only buying milk, them you might just need to keep an eye on me.

I did get it organized, though. Here are some pics. 





Wonder what we are having for dinner. I might need to go…just kidding! We’re having leftovers!

Lynne

Kitchen Organization, Part 3 (finally!)

Kitchen Organization, Day 3

(and Take 2, because I typed the post and then it disappeared!)

So I’m finally here to talk more about kitchen organization. Sorry it took so long. I really did have intentions to do it Monday and Wednesday. Life gets in the way. And headaches…they get in the way.

Back to the kitchen. I don’t have a large kitchen. I’d love to have a large kitchen, but I have a smallish, galley-style kitchen. No island. I try not to covet others’ kitchen islands. If I could make any room in my house bigger, it would be the kitchen. Alas, it is not to be. So I try and make the most of what I’ve got.

Today I’m going to share pictures of my baking area. This is what I have:

1. A drawer with spices in the tins you buy them in. They are in alphabetical order (not because I’m OCD) so that they are easy to find. I also have six small Mason jars with spices that I use often and buy in bulk quantities. I keep a small amount here for easy access. The large containers are stored in pantry.

2. The other drawer on this side of the stove has foil, parchment paper, plastic wrap and baking items – cookie scoops, rolling pin, biscuits cutters, etc.

3. The cabinet above contains measuring cups, other baking products (baking soda, coconut oil, shortening, etc.)

I also have a shelf that I picked up at a yard sale with a few spice jars on them just to be pretty. smile emoticon These are next to my cookbooks and a utensil holder. All of this is to the left of my stove. It’s not a prep area. That’s on the other side of the stove.

I hope these tips and pics help you when you consider the functionality of your kitchen. You want to make the most of your time and space.IMG_9014 IMG_9016 IMG_9017 IMG_9019 IMG_9023

Please let me know if you have any questions. smile emoticon

Lynne

Kitchen Organization, Part 1

10906422_10205344668916854_8138449907744288352_n First lap….

10898018_10205344673596971_5361767354139294017_n…2nd lap

 Hi, everyone!

I hope you had a great Monday! It was such a beautiful day here, and the sunrise was absolutely spectacular this morning. God was really showing His creative, artistic side. 🙂 I, for one, really appreciated it. That’s one of the perks of getting up to get your exercise in early.

So, last week I shared with you how I do my menu planning. Have any of you tried your hand at it this week? If you’re new to meed on sales or what’s in your pantry and freezer, or you can plan a month. The point is to have a plan…it makes evenings so much easier when you don’t have to come home wondering what you’ll be putting on the table. (I’ll continue to address menu planning in the coming weeks and will be sharing my menus and recipes as we go along.)

Now…let’s move on to kitchen organization. Today is easy – no physical labor required. 🙂 What I want you to do today (or tonight, I guess) is to simply walk into your kitchen and look around. Think about the following questions:

  • Do I have a designated prep space?
  • Are my pots and pans and cooking utensils near the stove?
  • Are like items in the same location (baking products, coffee stuff, etc.)?
  • Is the organization in my kitchen meeting my needs?

So, I just want to take a few minutes to look around your kitchen and determine whether or not it’s working for you. If it is, then you can just sit back and relax this week. 🙂 If not, start thinking about what you can do to make it more functional. Functionality is key in kitchen organization. Key, I tell you. The fewersteps you have to take when prepping dinner (or any other meal) saves you time, right? And savingtime is good.

I spent time over the last week reorganizing my kitchen cabinets and pantry. I got some new stuff for Christmas that I needed to make room for. So I got rid of some stuff instead of overcrowding the cabinets. I’ll post some pics tomorrow. Right now, you just need to run to the kitchen and see where you might want to start making changes. 🙂

Have a great evening!

Lynne

 

 

 

Meal Planning

Good morning!

I am on my way out of town on a spontaneous getaway with the hubby. Just one night, but I’ll take it!

You know what Thursday is, right? January 1, 2015. Oh, my goodness! Yikes! Have mercy! Bless!

It’s time to start plans in and organizing our lives. (Every year we make those resolutions…how often do we keep them?)

We are going to start 2015 with meal planning. Before we get caught up in school projects, after-school activities, sports, etc., we are going to tackle this meal-planning thing. It’s not as hard as it seems and it can save you time (and your sanity!!).

We’ll start out with something easy. Something you can do this very day! Ask each member of your family for ONE dish/meal they’d like to have in January. I’m using those choices for “What’s Your Pick?” Wednesdays. Get to asking. 🙂

Don’t forget to grab a new notebook for 2015. Label page #1 “January” and write down what your family tells you today.

You will also need a calendar to write on. Also begin thinking about doing themed nights. Mine for January are as follows:

• Slow Cooker Sundays

• Mexican Mondays

• Tasting Tuesdays (new recipe day)

• “What’s Your Pick?”
Wednesdays

• Throwback
Thursdays (leftovers)

• Fun and Fab Fridays (pasta or homemade pizza)

• Soup-er Saturdays (soup or stews; slow cooker if possible)

These are not set in stone. An excess of leftovers will lead to more than one leftovers night. But it’s my guideline. Anything on January’s list that doesn’t get made gets moved to February’s plan.

Get your family to thinking. Take as much – or as little – input from them as you want.

It’s a gloomy rainy day here and while I am riding, I’m looking through one of my new cookbooks to see what recipes I might want to try ok Tuesdays.

Have a great day! Happy planning!!

Lynne

Clearing Out and Keeping Up with Your Refrigerator

Good morning, all!

Okay…how many of you have a man (or male child) who opens the refrigerator to “look” for something that he declares immediately is not in there? I have two such creatures in my house. Here’s a typical conversation about the fridge.

Male: “Where’s the mayonnaise?”

Me: “On the door.”

Male: “No it’s not.”

Me: “Yes, it is.”

Male: “Well, I don’t see it.”

Me: “Bottom shelf, left corner, behind the mustard.”

Male: “Oh.”

Me: “Just where it always is. Always.”

(Insert heavy sign and eye roll here. And apologies to any man who may be reading this and who – bless him – doesn’t have this problem.)

Naturally, a person who can’t find the mayonnaise right where it always is isn’t necessarily going to put it back there. I have labeled shelves that no one can read. How? How can this be?

When I was trying to decide what to do for today’s tips, Teresa suggested that I address the fridge

When I was trying to decide what to address this week, a friend suggested the refrigerator. The quickly messed up and disorganized refrigerator. And since it makes since because we organized our pantries last week (didn’t we?), that’s what I’m going to do. At my house, the fridge can get messy pretty darn quick. So I have learned that I have to straighten it out weekly; any longer than that and it becomes a serious challenge instead of a 15-minute fix.

That being said, this is what I TRY to do every week/month to keep the fridge under control.

1. Tend to the leftovers.

If you have leftovers that freeze well, freeze them in single-serve portions. For example, when I make lasagna, we eat it for dinner once and the once as leftovers. Then I take the rest and cut it into serving size portions and freeze them individually. That way I can pull one out for my hubby’s lunch or have a quick dinner solution when I need it. Just don’t leave them in there long enough to grow mold. Please. Do not conduct your own science experiments. Unless you’re a homeschooler because we homeschoolers have to do what we have to do. 🙂

2. Have a designated place/shelf for leftovers.

In order to make tip #1 easier, have a designated location in the fridge for leftovers. I have a shelf where I store all my leftovers. Then I only have to clean off one shelf when I’m ready to toss or freeze the leftovers. When you toss them, wipe off the shelf and you’re ready for the next week. 🙂 We have a weekly “Leftover Buffet” for dinner on Thursdays. Any leftovers remaining by Monday get tossed. That’s the day before trash pick up day so it clears my fridge and doesn’t invite critters to visit the garbage can during the week.

3. At least once a month, go through the bottles and assorted jars and toss those that are out-of-date.

This isn’t hard, but it takes a little time. Just pick a day (again, I’d suggest the day before trash pick-up if possible) and go through all the jars, bottles, etc. on the refrigerator door or hiding behind the milk carton. Check the dates. If anything is out of date, into the trash or down the garbage disposal it goes. Please recycle when you can! It will take a little longer to sort through these things, but let’s take care of our planet here.

4. Organize your refrigerator into “zones.

Keep healthy snacks and foods front and center. I find this is an especially important thing to do. If there’s chocolate cake in front of the grapes, am I really going to move it and choose the grapes? Umm….probably not. 🙂 But maybe that’s just me. I have found that I eat better and make wiser choices when healthy foods are “in my face” when I open the refrigerator door. I also keep a “collection” of water bottles chilled and easy to reach so that I choose them instead of sweet tea. If you have specific things for your little ones that you don’t mind them reaching into the fridge to get, put them together in one particular area so that they can get to them easily.

Keep track of what’s in your produce bins. It’s best – my my opinion – to only buy produce that you know you’ll use within the week. If not, you (ahem…I) forget what’s in there and when I check the drawer, the produce no longer resembles what you (I) brought home from the store. And it’s squishy. And smelly. And then you have to take out the crisper drawers to clean them and it becomes a big deal. Ugh. So don’t do that, okay? This is personal experience I’m sharing here.

5. Wipe up spills immediately.

If you spill something in the fridge, wipe it clean right away. Do not let it sit. Things tend to get sticky or drip down to the shelves below. This is especially true of soda, sweet tea, juices, and jellies. Sticky things become sticker if left alone. And then you have to scrub. And scrub. That’s no fun. Of course, cleaning spills isn’t fun anyway,  but a big sticky mess…well, that’s really not fun.

And periodically – once month would probably be ideal, but maybe not realistic – take empty the shelves, take them out, wash them in warm soapy water, dry and return them. Do the same for door shelves and the veggie/crisper bins.

Now…if you’re fridge is a HUGE mess and is so full that you can barely see the light that comes on when you open the door, you need to do a major cleaning. That means taking EVERYTHING out and putting it in a cooler. Remove and clean all the shelves. Determine your zones. Only put back into the fridge the things that are fresh and usable. If your fridge is empty after this cleaning, please start your weekly maintenance as soon as you have put things in there. And don’t let it happen again! 🙂

Note: Don’t let items be pushed against the vents in the back of the fridge. It makes it less energy efficient. A stuffed to the gills (or vents) fridge is not good for anyone.

Okay…that’s it. Once it’s clean, it’s really not hard to keep clean. However, a clean fridge does not ensure that a male person will be able to find the mayonnaise. Even if it’s the only thing in the fridge. Just saying.

Have a BLESSED day!

Lynne

P.S. Now that the pantry and fridge are organized, I’ll be back to my “room by room” challenge next week. So I’m “shopping” in my house to see what I want in the entryway.

 

 

 

 

The Pantry Project 2.0

The Pantry Project. It’s really a weekly challenge but the word “project” sounds better with “pantry” so there you go. 🙂 I worked on this on Saturday. Probably spent about an hour total because it wasn’t too far gone so I didn’t have to take everything out this time. ~ Lynne

My pantry. I love it. I hate it. Sometimes at the same time. It’s pretty big and roomy. But one of these days I’m going to add the shelving I really want. There’s too much wasted space in there. Also, it is not close to my stove so I also (at my daughter’s urging) have a cabinet that IS next to the stove where I store things that are used more frequently. Once I figured out what I wanted next to the stove, I went to work on the rest.

If your pantry is a disorganized mess, you can do something about it. Now, I usually issue weekly challenges that require about 15 minutes a day to complete. When I work on my pantry, I usually just set aside an hour (it has taken longer – depends on how long I let it go) and get it all done at one time. If yours is just a little disorderly, you might only need 15 minutes to straighten it out. In my experience. how messy your pantry gets is directly related to how many people have access to it. If no one besides me ever went in there, it would remain nice and neat. That’s not going to happen so it’s gets messy. (Insert heavy sigh here.)

Unfortunately, step #1 in the pantry project is to clear it out. Yep, clear it all out. So you need a table top or counter top available to hold everything. When you’re taking things out of the pantry, go ahead and group like things together on the table. It will make organization easier when it all goes back in.

If in the clearing out of your pantry, you come across any of the following, please do not return them to the pantry. Discard or donate as appropriate, but don’t give them valuable space in your pantry.

  • Foods whose expiration dates have passed (Beans from 2010 – out!)
  • Kitchen appliances that haven’t seen the light of day since you put them in the pantry – especially if they’re still in the box or were a wedding gift that you didn’t register for.
  • Serving dishes that you never, ever use. Ever.

When you start to return things to the pantry, group like things together. Baskets or bins can be good for this. I have baskets for baking products (chocolate chips, brown sugar, etc.), chips, bottled items (cooking wine, oil). Dollar store canisters hold oats, rice and the like.

IMG_7253

 

Cabinet beside microwave/oven area

IMG_7268

  • Top shelf: aluminum pans, paper products, sodas, cake pans
  • Shelf 2: oats, rice, flour, griddle/panini press
  • Shelf #3: bins with snacks, basket with baking products, bread, cereal
  • Shelf #4: paper products, snacks, chips, bottled items

IMG_7269

Door shelf: large spice containers, broths, tea, coffee

So here is my sage advice for your pantry project. If you don’t have time to take everything out and devote an hour or so to this project or if you can work on your pantry shelf-by-shelf, then 15 minutes a day will be a good time frame and you should be able to knock it out in a few days. If you do like I did and just make a big mess of it, getting all done at one time may be the best idea. Just be sure you have that time to dedicate to it. You don’t want to take everything out of there and then leave it for days on end on the kitchen table. Well, I hope you don’t want to do that.

Either way, once it’s done and arranged to your liking, take the 15 minutes each week when you are putting away groceries to do a little “maintenance.” Put things where they go. Label the shelves/baskets/bins if you need to – or just want to. If I had taken the time when I got home from the grocery store even though I was tired, I wouldn’t have had a mess to clean up. Sigh. Lesson learned.

Happy cleaning!

Lynne