Sunday, October 03, 2010

Fall Kitchen Organization, Part 2

I'm sooo tempted by this Meri Meri Cupcake Set for decorating fairy cupcakes!


  • Need to process some mail today? Declutter your mail table or inbox where you keep incoming paperwork? Let's recycle our junk mail and finish paying any first-of-the-month bills that are due.

  • Create menu for the week and write grocery list, shop as needed

  • Look over the week ahead. Can you fit in time with friends, pets, family, and some time for yourself? Need to send any birthday cards or emails?

  • Do you have time tonight to phone elderly relatives who might want a nice chat?

TODAY'S PROJECT: Refrigerator and Cupboards

On this lovely autumn Sunday, I plan to tackle the refrigerators (I keep one in the garage in addition to the kitchen one) and my cupboards. This is a great weekend task, and won't take more than a couple hours, leaving me plenty of time to do other things today.

Let's make this fun! Put on music in your kitchen - do you have a portable boom box, MP3 player dock, or radio you can drag in? Or do you prefer a television? I broke down recently and now I keep a television in my kitchen so I can watch cooking shows or listen to the news while I work. I can't see it while I'm working but I can listen. Put on Food Network, a favorite DVD movie, or TV Land for fun (I Love Lucy, Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie reruns perhaps?)

Light a fragrant candle, make coffee or tea, or pour yourself a glass of wine. Try to make it fun and the time might just zoom by.

  • Clean out the entire refrigerator and freezer. If you have been keeping up with doing it one shelf at a time on weekends, this should go quickly. Toss old food, wipe and scrub shelves, dry them off, etc. Quickly inventory what's left on a notepad you'll carry in your purse, so you can plan what to replace. If you think of something you need, immediately add it to your grocery list. Today I have to admit I am not going to finish my ice-crusted caramel pecan ice cream, so I'll get rid of it to make room for things I actually will eat.

  • Thoroughly clean the outside of your refrigerator too. Now is a good time to have someone come help you move it to clean and vacuum under it and behind it. Wash the wall behind it and on the sides of it too, if you can get to it. There's bound to be a lot of accumulated dust and grime there.

  • Make some time to think about must-have items for your freezer. For me, I don't let myself run out of vanilla and chocolate ice cream, frozen edamame and frozen corn, and frozen stir fry veggies. I also stock puff pastry and some sort of frozen berry in case I need to whip up a quick puff pastry dessert. I also try to always stock Morningstar Farms vegetarian corn dogs and some sort of mini-pizzas for when I have child-related food emergencies, like when my nephews visit. Also, I'm never, ever without one or two frozen appetizers like Nancy's frozen quiches for naughty unhealthy emergency lunches when I'm working hard, and Trader Joe's mushroom turnovers for impromptu cocktail parties.

  • Cupboards - Remove all your dishes (yes, every one of them!) and wipe down your shelves, especially if they have contact paper. I'm actually replacing all my contact paper today, which I'm dreading.

  • Examine your dishes for dust - if you're like me you have some goblets around for entertaining that don't get used too often. Those can get quite dusty at the back of the shelf. Clean any dishes that need it, then replace in cupboards.

  • Reorganize if necessary, or find new homes for things like paper plates, plastic cups, and paper napkins. I store mine out in the garage in a Sterilite box specially marked for that purpose, so I have more room in my cupboards for my glass and china.
  • If applicable, examine baby utensils, Sippy cups and baby dishes for wear and tear, discard and replace if necessary.

  • Examine your pans, utensils and cooking gadgets. Toss anything that looks broken, and clean anything dirty. If you can possibly admit to yourself you have a kitchen gadget you will NEVER use, now is a really good time to own up to that and come up with a plan for disposal of that gadget. (Sell on Ebay, put in your Yard Sale box you save in the garage for the spring, give to a friend, donate to charity, or simply throw it out).

  • Cookie Cutters - Do you have a million impulse-buy cookie cutters that you rarely use? I sure as heck do. Sort and inventory them. Consider storing them in some sort of Ziplock bag or plastic box or container to make them easier to find. It might be helpful to store them along with your cake and cookie decorating sugars and related items. Perhaps that will help us actually use them more often. As always, see if you can get rid of unneeded or duplicate cookie cutters. It's not a sin to throw a $1.75 rusty old rarely used cookie cutter in the trash.

  • Add to your shopping list if you notice anything you are majorly missing that you absolutely need and absolutely will use. You probably have all the pans and dishes you need, but how are you doing on plastic storage containers, kitchen sponges, cleaning supplies, dishwashing detergent, kitchen hand soap, etc?

  • Gadgets - Over this next week I'd like to challenge you to get out one kitchen gadget you haven't used in over four months and actually use it. Get that breadmaker out, clean it off and actually use it to bake bread. Find your tortilla or quesadilla maker and enjoy piping hot, cheesy quesadillas for a snack. Use your totally unnecessary heart-shaped muffin pans to make muffins today, instead of the normal round-shaped muffin tin you normally use. Use your Cuisinart to actually make fresh salsa, or see if you can get your hand mixer to mix up a nice batch of mousse. Get out your creme brulee ramekins and your blowtorch and actually make Creme brulee and caramelize the top. Why do we have all these gadgets if we aren't going to use them to make our lives even more lovely?

  • Tonight, after you are finished, reward yourself for your efforts with some sort of favorite activity that won't bring you near a kitchen. Take a long bath, watch a movie, read a book, flip through magazines, or goof off on the Web. After you've spent time fixing up your kitchen, make someone else cook for you tonight!

Tomorrow and Tuesday will bring another kitchen project. They'll be the perfect mini projects for a weeknight - just enough time you get things done, but not so much you're exhausted or struggling to finish before bedtime.

If you work a lot today, and a little every week night, your kitchen will be completely ready and organized for the fall and winter months ahead!

LOVELY BLOGS: They Call Me Jammi

If you love autumn and Halloween, you'll want to take a peek at this Southern woman's blog. There are beautiful pictures of pumpkins, fall decor, not-too-spooky Halloween decorations, and pics from her shopping and exploration trips. A fun read!

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