Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Charm In Chores: Kitchen

The Kitchen. The place where women all over the world spend many hours a week preparing meals for those they love.

The Kitchen. The place where messes occur and dishes pile up.

The Kitchen. The place where families come together at the end of the day.

The Kitchen. Many women's constant battle.

I know, I know...long are the days of "a woman's place is in the kitchen". I never really understood that statement, because a woman's "expected" place back in the day, was in the entire house, not just the kitchen, but whatevs. We'll roll with it.

For my family, the kitchen has always been sort of a meeting place. It's a comfortable place to be, whether it be yours, your friends or a stranger's house who invited you for dinner. You know when you are at a new person's house and you all gather in the kitchen to munch on appetizers and shoot the breeze before moving into the Living Room where things start to get uncomfortable and conversation starts to drop? Yeah, I'd rather stay in the kitchen. I feel like we're all more at ease in there. Maybe it's because there are so many things to look at, talk about, and when you run out of things to say, you can always shove a cracker in your mouth. Yeah, I'd rather be in the kitchen.

I've pulled the cracker move more times than you could count.

Anyway. Let's talk about the Chores of the Kitchen.

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Grocery Shopping. Sometimes, it's so easy to bring in all your grocery bags, throw them in the kitchen, put away the perishables and then leave the rest to put up when you get more time. Ya know, after the baby is changed, fed and sleeping...things like that. But I have found that this little method of "making things easier" actually makes it harder.

When I leave the boxes out, they seem to haunt me. It's like they multiply and I can never get all the sacks emptied. I have been known to have a bag with Tide and Downey sitting on the counter for 2 days. And that's just annoying. So, a little method I have instilled in my home is - See How Fast You Can Put Away The Groceries.

I get home, throw the bags on the countertops, take care of Weebie's needs and then run back in there to get things put up and away as soon as possible. It's like a game. Weebie loves to watch.

Also, I try to organize my groceries on the conveyer belt at the store so that all the cold foods will go in the same sack, the crackers/chips in the same sack, canned goods in the same sack...you catch my drift. This makes putting them away SO MUCH easier when I get home.

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Pantry. Ugh. The pantry. Remember that time that I was 36 weeks pregnant and I completely gutted and organized my pantry? It took all day and I think I blew up to the size of a small blimp. And after Levi came home and I realized that I was going to need formula (not breastmilk, as I intended) and bottles, well....the place went to pot. I lost all organization and I threw things where they fit.

This was not a good thing, guys. It ended up snowballing and the place became a picture of what it was once before: a mess.

I have realized that the pantry is something that I have to stay on top of. Every few weeks, I go through and toss expired goods. I find green bean cans mixed in with the cereal boxes and quickly put them back in their designated spot. I like to take things out of boxes to make more room - for instance, packets of instant oatmeal, granola bars, rice krispy treats, etc. I have baskets for these loose items so that they are easy access and creates more space. These are some tips I use when keeping up with my pantry.

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Cooking Messes. You know how Rachael Ray invented the "garbage bowl"? Well, I invented the "supper sack" long before her. I learned it from my Mom, but I coined the term. When cooking supper, I keep a large plastic sack out and throw away all trash, vegetable pieces, twisty ties, empty cans, yada yada. It is a lifesaver because it keeps messes to a minimum. I never understood using a bowl for this use, because it unnecessarily dirties a bowl that you are just going to have to turn around and wash! Rachael, you didn't think that one through. You should have asked me about the supper sack.

When you spill, wipe it down. If you splatter spaghetti sauce while simmering, clean it off immediately before it has time to dry and cake on. There is nothing nastier than days old splatter spots. They won't come off without a fight.

When you dirty a bowl, throw it in the dishwasher (or wash it and put it back up). I like to keep up with my messes while cooking by being one step ahead. I empty the dishwasher before starting the meal so that I can throw in dirty dishes as I go. It makes clean up after supper much quicker and it lowers my blood pressure to have JUST the meal on the stove when Husby gets home - not remnants of the preparation scattered everywhere.

Basically what I try to instill in my cooking duties is clean up while I go.

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Junk Drawer. For some reason, things stack up in the kitchen at my house. Notes from phone calls, take out menus, shoes, rags with sweet potatoes smeared all over them. It's important to do a few "sweep throughs" a few times a day to make sure the piles don't get out of hand.

But something that I embrace in my home is the junk drawer. Everyone has one, and in my opinion, everyone needs one. Our junk drawer resides in the kitchen and has everything in that that you need when you think "I wonder if we have a...."
You know what I mean, random screws, flashlight, thumbtacks, tape, things-people-gave-you-that-you-don't-know-what-to-do-with.

If you are a super organizational person, and junk drawers make you hyperventilate, I would encourage you to not banish the idea. Instead, buy a silverware sectional container and keep your "junk" organized.

Monthly Upkeep. I think it's a great idea to have monthly chores for your kitchen. I read this once and I think it works wonders!!
For the first week of the month, clean out your refrigerator. You will probably be surprised at what you will find in there. It's also nice to wipe down the shelves. They have a tendency to get gross.
For the second week of the month, clean the oven.
For the third week of the month, wax or polish your furniture.
For the fourth week of the month, clean and dust baseboards.
This will keep the "deep cleaning" up and you won't feel overwhelmed when you have to prepare for a party, shower or whatnot.
Also, find time to clean your windows and mop a few times a month.

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The kitchen is a very "lived in" space in our home. As much as I love smelling the aroma of baked goods wafting from the kitchen, I equally love the lemony scent of clean and sparkly countertops and floors.

And don't forget to wear the cutest, frilliest, flounciest apron while keeping up with your kitchen. After all, what charm is there in chores if you don't look cute?

Happy Kitchen Cleaning!

**Speaking of the Kitchen, there is a new post up on my Pioneer Challenge!**

27 comments:

  1. great ideas. the supper sack, has a nice ring to it...hmmm i like and i do it too!

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  2. I completely agree with the kitchen being the place that everyone stays for get togethers. It was so true in my Grandma's case that she expanded her kitchen so it's half kitchen, half dining/living room. The actual living room is where everyone goes to nap!

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  3. Those are some great tips! I always have a large plastic bag hanging by the hook when I am cooking too!. I also loved the idea of assigning 1 week for sections of the kitchen. In my case though it will be every weekend :)

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  4. Oh my goodness, your pantry is SO organized! That is downright inspirational.

    I totally agree with the keeping-a-bag-to-throw-away-counter-trash trick--I always do that too.

    Also, I am jealous of your junk drawer ... I just moved into a new apartment with exactly TWO drawers in the entire kitchen. Two. So now all those things (screws I'm sure must be for something important, some tape and post-its, a few buttons, etc etc etc ...) are just floating around looking for a home. Sigh.

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  5. I love the supper sack idea - and creating a monthly to-do list for the kitchen is great too. That way things don't pile up or need to be done all at once. Great tips.

    And are those old Levi ultrasound photos on your fridge or do you have some news? (o;

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  6. I do the supper sack, too! Good name for it. I'm finding that with a baby, I'm constantly having to shift everything around in our cupboards. First I had to make room for bottles, then when we weaned Cub I had to make room for (HUGE) formula cans, then sippy cups ... I think our kitchen is always a work in progress!!

    I have to have the kitchen countertops and sink cleared when I go to bed. Something about a clean kitchen brings peace to a home!!

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  7. When we moved to a smaller house three years ago, I thought I was going to die without my beloved pantry. This new house had no such thing. BUT, I've found a way to make it work using some of the tips you mentioned like taking smaller items out of their bulky boxes and storing them in baskets, etc. I like the supper sack idea...might copy that one! ;)

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  8. Thanks for the motivation! I have been casually using the Flylady method for the last couple of months. The other day my fridge was way too full and I set the timer for 15 minutes and actually cleaned the whole thing out (shelves and all!) in just 15 minutes!

    Oh, I also try to use whatever bowl or leftover veggie bag I have already used for my supper sack. I'm with you on not wanting to dirty up an extra dish!

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  9. I am totally a believer in the fact that wearing an apron has transformational properties. When I don't feel like cleaning or cooking, I put on an apron and suddenly feel inspired. Magic! Another tip on the "clean as you go" topic: if you can't wash as you go, fill your sink with hot soapy water and throw dirty dishes in as you go...at least they are soaking until you get to them, and all contained in one spot!

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  10. I am so glad you posted these - my pantry's looking a little, um, confused these days and I needed the inspiration. I totally believe the kitchen is the heart of a home - and the more organized and clean mine is, the calmer and happier I am. Call me old-fashioned, but it's true. Thanks for sharing!

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  11. Love your tips!! It is so much easier to clean up and whatnot if you're a step ahead.

    Also, love the pictures of your kitchen--from what you've posted on the blog, your home is so gorgeous I love it!

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  12. Okay. I feel convicted and inspired. Thanks a lot Whit.

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  13. Great tips... I too clean up the kitchen as I cook, and it makes a world of difference! I hate having to clean after I have a full tummy.

    http://asthefarmturns.wordpress.com/

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  14. amen! do you live at my house?! ;) I am always trying to keep my kitchen picked up, but it's sort of the catch-all since it's by the garage door. I am a huge advocate for cleaning up while you are cooking (I am still trying to teach husband this trick!) because it is SO much easier to clean up afterwards! We, too, have a junk drawer, and it's organized with a utensil holder! It just makes me feel good when there is no clutter, and the kitchen smells good! ...I think it's time for a pantry clean-up, though!

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  15. I'm more of a garbage bowl kind of girl like Rachel Ray. We recycle just about everything that's recyclable - so no cans for me. And since I use my own shopping bags, I don't have that many of the plastic ones - those I do have are used for diapers. But it does make cleaning up easier.

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  16. Thats a good idea to break tasks out into weeks. That way everything gets done once a month, but you don't have to do it all in one day! Thanks for sharing!

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  17. Great ideas, Whitney! And, what a lovely chandelier! Lighting makes all the difference in the world.

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  18. Love the supper sack - I always have a sack or plastic bag in the kitchen for the day's mess...& I clean as I go too - with everything pretty much. Not just the kitchen. I have the dishwasher empty and a sink of hot soapy water for the big pans. I clean out the fridge weekly, I'm a nazi when it comes to expiration dates. And I also keep a menu on the fridge for the week's meals, that helps my sanity too :-0

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  19. Amen, sister friend!
    I too use a "supper sack" and definitely clean up as I go. I wish hubs would learn that!!
    Your pantry still looks great! I remember when you first organized it.

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  20. You are an inspiration!
    Our home always manages to get messy again, and there's only two of us... imagine when we have little ones!
    -Jen

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  21. great pictures! i love your pantry. where did you get the organizational dividers?!?

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  22. Who cares about cleaning - I LOVE THE PHOTOS OF YOUR KITCHEN!

    Gorgeous, girl!

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  23. I absolutely love this idea!! My fiance and I will be moving into a place of our own in a few short months after the wedding!) and, being the neat person I am, I appreciate the tips!

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  24. This is a super post! I've always used a supper sack too. Unfortunately, I don't have a staff to clean out the "garbage bowl" like Rachael does! And I am a huge fan of cleaning as you go. It makes things SO much easier! Little messes are much easier to handle than one big giant mess when you are finished. If only I could teach my husband how to do the same... :-)

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  25. Whitney, first i have to say your home is beautiful.
    I also would like to know where you got your baskets that are in your pantry? I am reorganizing my pantry and i like the basket idea.
    Thanks!

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May the Lord bless you and keep you safe today! Thanks for the comment, friends! :)

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